Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"there we go"

Leonard Sweet wrote a really "sweet" meditation included in a book called Justice in the Burbs by Will and Lisa Samson. He attempts to define justice biblically, and talks about how we in modern America so often associate the word with "What do you stand for?" Sweet writes that the better question is "Who are you standing with?" Instead of "Here I stand", we should be about "There we go." Here are a few of his quotes....

"The problem with "Here I stand" justice is that in the Bible, love and justice are yoked concepts, and both are personified in a "There we go" Jesus."

"What if the "Christian position" on the hot-button issues of the day is less a statement than a stance, less a principle than a posture? Instead of "What are we standing for?" why aren't we talking about "Who are we standing with?" Isn't it the nature of the disciples of Jesus to be known less for a certain opinion about an issue than to be known for who we are in relationship with? Maybe our hot button issues are less about "issues" than about "relationships." Wasn't it Jesus who made the final quiz not one of "What are you standing for?" but one of "Who are you standing with?"

Friday, September 11, 2009

Amos 5:21-24 (The Message)

"I can't stand your religious meetings. I'm fed up with your conferences and conventions. I want nothing to do with your religion projects, your pretentious slogans and goals. I'm sick of your fundraising schemes, your public relations and image making. I've had all I can take of your noisy ego music. When was the last time you sang to me? Do you know what I want? I want justice- oceans of it. I want fairness- rivers of it. That's what I want. That's all I want."

How might we have to re-order our lives to pursue the goals of seeking justice and fairness?
Can we trust that we might find ourselves closer to the center of God's heart if we do?

Middle School to Church

Some friends of mine are pastors of a church in Hampton, IA. They have put a bid on the old middle school that sits in the center of town. The bid of $1 may just land them a new church home. How missional and outstanding would that be?! People are comfortable and familiar with the building, the auditorium would still be used by the schools for concerts, it's a win/win transaction for both church and school district, there is a gym, a shop, and so much room for the imagination of God's redemptive work in that place! What a great partnership that will be and a great witness that the Church is FOR and WITH the community!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Christianity looks like...

1950- The "typical" Christian was an upper middle class white male who resided in Suburbia.
2008- The "typical" Christian was a Nigerian peasant, a university student in Seoul, or a Latin American teen.

1950- Christians were 80 percent white, predominantly from western countries, and residents of the northern hemisphere.
2008- The demographic makeup of Christians was 40 percent white with the majority residing in the southern hemisphere and eastern nations.

1950- The center of Christianity is no longer the United States or Western Europe, but Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
2008- Thirty-three percent of Christians were in the minority population, and it is projected that by 2050, 80 percent of Christians will be non-white.

Soong-Chan Rah, professor at North Park Seminary in Chicago, conducted a research study with the findings above. I heard Rah speak at CCDA last year in Miami...compelling and convicting....provided a needed time of tears and repentance and embrace in the company of a few of my black friends as I recognized American white dominance in the Church like I never had before. I just recently bought Rah's book The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity and look forward to reading it later this fall.

Friday, September 4, 2009

love is a noun

Many times we hear the phrase "love is a verb" meaning that we have to demonstrate love in action with people around us. I believe that. It can't just be "creed" but must be "deed". But there are times when I recognize in my life that I'm having a hard time loving. I can show some loving actions, but inside my heart, I am empty, ugly, judgmental, or even worse, I am hostile in my heart. This is when love must become a noun. Lately, in a couple of places where I'm struggling to find love, I've opted in prayer to replace the name of God with "Love", since God is love. This type of prayer is helpful to me, as I know that I cannot find this love from within myself but must depend on the One who is love to come and fill my heart.

Love, come near me.
Love, be with me always.
Love, fill my heart and life.
Love, heal me.
Love, guide me.

This is God (love) described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Again, only God can be my Source and fill my heart and life with love. It really doesn't help me to pray "help me to be more patient," as I then try harder on my own to be more patient. I must pray for Patience himself to come and live within me.

Come, Patience.
Come, Kindness.
Come, Humility.
Come, Contentment.
Come, Politeness.
Come, Clearer of record of wrongs.
Come, Other-centered.
Come, Truth.
Come, Protector.
Come, Hope.
Come, Enduring One.
Come, Victor who never fails.