Monday, December 18, 2006


I'm going to lay out a few thoughts on the fully-mis-worded subject of "Women in Ministry," as it is too often called. Please, for the sake of all things of value, post SOMETHING if you disagree with anything in this post. I am so tired of arguing with myself since the people who write on this topic don't ever (1) defend their position nor (2) deal with the other side. Even if you agree with a conclusion but see something wrong in the path getting there, WRITE SOMETHING!!

So let me clarify: the issue is, can a woman be in authority over a man? Or, can a woman be in the top-authority position (typical example, "senior pastor")? This post will not deal with the issue of having a senior pastor since it is only used as an example common to us today.

1) Paul writes about how a woman cannot teach/exercise authority (v.12) over a man. I would take, as is common among the commentaries (but evidently not among the Greek-to-English interpreters), that "teach" and "exercise authority" are appositional. Thus I would write it, "teach-exercise authority" as if they mutually define each other.

2) Paul writes that a male has headship over a woman, just like the Father has headship over Jesus.

So let me stop there with the Biblical quotes and make a few observations in no particular order:
First, Jesus is fully qualified to be in-charge, but He wasn't allowed to be [parallel: why can't women lead when they are equally 'qualified']. Makes one wonder if this is a question of "qualification."
Second, both times, Paul refers to Creation as his rationale.
Third, Paul has most of the self-explaining writing on this subject

It is very common to also read our current need-for-power into Paul's context. Paul's use of Jesus and the Father or the Church and Jesus as a parallel/metaphor seems to imply that he (Paul) did not view leading the same way we do since the examples and metaphors we use have nothing in common with Paul's (e.g. slavery, C.E.O., etc.).

-- First Observation: Leading is supposed to be an act of Love and seen as a gift to the followers. If this isn't happening, then the leading is bad. No matter the gender of the leader! Please don't deal with bad leadership as some kind of male-dominance issue.

-- Second Observation: The common critique is that this issue comes from Paul's opinions (even though they almost universally cite Paul as their primary verses for male-female equality). This works its way into two, dominant threads.
First, the "obvious" male-and-female, side-by-side documentaries (e.g. Priscilla and Aquilla). This is a frustrating one to hear because it is, by definition, wholly subjective and flat-out reading into the accounts, basing the whole weight of the argument on word order. Yikes.
Second, the idea is espoused that Paul was putting his own bias and/or culture into his writings. This obviously runs into issues of how much control God kept in the writing of the Bible. I have yet to see it written (although I presume it has) that someone will come out and say, "This is my stance, and it works because I don't see God having much control over what Paul wrote." I don't subscribe to that idea of how the Bible was formed. Fine. The actual problem is this: without some kind of restraint on the writers, we have NO idea what is or is not cultural / we have no idea what is from God!! Too often I have heard in these contexts, I believe what Jesus said, not Paul. And we know what Jesus said from . . . Jewish, male writers with the same culture as Paul. Hmm. Making Paul suspect makes Matt., Mark, Luke, and John suspect, too. Then Jesus really does become God in (wo)man's image.

The other trend I see is that the whole male-over-female authority structure is an issue of the Fall and is therefore something that is reversed by Jesus and should be reversed by His Body as it ushers in the Kingdom.
Problem #1: "the Fall" refers to Gen. 3:16 where the woman is told the man will rule over her. A quick read brings up a goofy word: "desire." Susan Foh wrote an article many moons ago showing how this word "desire" translates a Hebrew word that shows up in Gen. 4:7 and Song of Solomon 7:10. Gen. 4:7 is an issue of who gets control, Song 7:10 is an issue of sexual attraction. Not too difficult to find out how Moses uses the word, go 15 verses and see it's a control issue. So we have the Fall and, as is written, the inequality starts. She has to be ruled by man.
-- why don't we see the woman's desire to control her husband / men as part of the Fall?!? It's in the same sentence! We are only going to condemn HALF the verse?!?
Problem #2: Paul, in both the examples I cite above, goes back to Creation. Pre-Fall!

Note of sadness. Two things bum me out in this: 1) we're taking whacks at the Scriptures because it's contrary to current struggles (why don't people go after forgiveness - that one's a whole lot more difficult to live out!) and (2) most women I've seen get into positions of authority end up leading just like the bone-headed males that have preceded her for the last few centuries.

There it is. My current ;-) thesis. Please hack away!! Even if you're reading this months or years after it has been posted - please respond if you disagree with one single word, phrase, sentence, idea . . .

[The real issue, for me, is the quality of the leadership which is STILL not being addressed!!]

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Future is starting to bubble-over in my head

My incredible yet former boss, Brad Holaway, gave me an article from Forbes (September 2006) titled "The Cheap Revolution." 'Cheap Revolution' is a term coined by a Forbes writer (that's why almost no one else is using the phrase!) for the latest wave in technology that typically has to do with networking and/or the Internet. The article raised the temperature in my mind...

I'd rather think about the future

What I dream about, in a nutshell (note: every word is specifically used):
i) the Church, the people of God, would live in submission and reliance on the Holy Spirit

ii) the Church would shift towards every person living out what God has wired-into ("giftedness") or said-to ("listening to the Spirit") them

iii) the current Church would get ahead of this time of change and create a place, a space, that is fully-ready for the future when it/they/we get(s) there

Back to the article. The author rightly identifies what is happening but misses the trajectory of what is happening. He sees it as fully economic (specifically, people are going away from the big companies to cheap, fast, often free versions that do less but do them better - this is also sometimes called 'Web 2.0 initiative'). I see it as deconstruction. Most philosophical changes start in the arts and end in the masses and then finally in the social structures (which have traditionally been religious in the West). Here, this aspect of the Modern era is showing up differently than other shifts in the past because our economics, information, and "industry" are becoming one-and-the-same - and this new hybrid is being led by artists loosely called "programmers." See Google's lifespan so far as an example.

These artists are deconstructing what has been, even what they themselves have created. This is more than just economics, more than just competition. Here are a few quotes from the article:

  • "The last thing elite talent wants to do is work on making a 15-year-old software program into a 20-year-old software program." Scott Dietzen, former principal architect at BEA
  • "Startups always define the new era." William Coleman ("Bill" - "B" of BEA; around 2001 he was personally worth $900 million - he himself! He has since left and started a startup)
It was interesting to see how many statements/quotes in this article could easily, if taken out of context, sound like a quote from many of the church-planters I read or the Christians (even leaders) who are irritated with the way things are.

But even moreso. The guys being quoted spoke repeatedly that the form, the structure, the layout of the past generation of tech. companies is not the problem these companies now face. The first quote above (Scott) captured it: the problem is that everyone is required to maintain, nothing more than better what is. One more quote from William Coleman, "To survive, companies must undergo a transplant of corporate DNA, and few survive the surgery."

Suppose Coleman's right, startups define what's next. IF that is true, then it's not too hard to see what's next for the Church in the West: small, even house, local churches that subscribe to a wholly different set of values, needs, and beliefs.

Assuming Coleman's right, are we nothing short of fools if we simply point fingers and say "That's bad," distancing ourselves into what will become battle camps!?!? Not based on anything as grand as "spiritual" issues, this is simply a matter of social observation -- startups define what's next. Remember when every new church played acoustic or rock music, contrary to the churches of the day? So when was the last time a church ordered a set of pipes for its organ?

Worse still . . . Modernity is ending. In Mapping Postmodernism, Robert Greer correctly (I think) states that what we currently call "post-modern" is actually "hyper-modern." It's more Modernity taken to the next step. It's kind of like living with another family you really respect, like, admire, are in awe with. Stick around long enough (500 years in the case of Modernity) and you'll see its own uglinesses.

My proposal: draw some trajectories through what is currently being kept, challenged, and replaced to see if we can see what is coming up. Then start preparing a place, a space, for people for when they are done churning the waters (i.e the upheaval that will then lead to whatever comes after Modernity).

"... and few will survive the surgery." I hate this, but perhaps it is true. I'm not sure I'm willing to give up on the idea that what is cannot change into what will be good for tomorrow. I know some others, whom I respect deeply, aren't so sure.

Just in case, I'm starting a new idea: a wave inside the Church that will rise when what we currently have stops working. It would work like this, a coalition of people (not just leaders) who have in their mind to establish local churches that are specifically designed to be healthy for the citizens of the year 2030.

Monday, December 11, 2006

the Problem with Forgiveness

I was reading a book called Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jurgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida that asks two highly divergent philosophers what they thought of the September 11 attacks just a few months after they happened. Habermas has a highly political bent to his philosophy while Derrida likes to see what's causing things to happen.

Derrida has an interesting distinction between conditional and unconditional forgiveness (the latter he calls impossible forgiveness - more below). Conditional forgiveness is the "I forgive you / there are consequences" whereas unconditional forgiveness is "I forgive you and there are no consequences to your actions."

On page 143, After weaving a few threads together, Derrida basically says unconditional forgiveness is impossible forgiveness (at the very minimum, we carry the pain/scar of the episode where one autonomous human destroys the other's autonomy by taking over some aspect of their life: physical striking, emotional striking, being neglected, etc.).

It's a brilliant piece that basically deconstructs unconditional-forgiveness so that it is impossible to do while still maintaining one's autonomy (seen, for example, in Democracy wherein the individual has the right to be oneself and not "puppeted" by another).

Beautiful! Saying it another way: without an outside force, unconditional forgiveness is impossible! If one believes individuals are responsible for themselves, then unconditional forgiveness will never happen among humans. [Note: I do not fully subscribe to 100% individual responsibility, but I am gathering most people do]

But with Children of God, we DO have an outside "Force" that gives us the ability to have Unconditional Forgiveness. Further, "God's autonomy" does not have to be questioned in that He is self-autonomous (vs. created).

It's a pretty lame book, but I really like how Derrida paints us all into a corner: without direct activity by God Himself, no one will ever experience what we all so desperately desire: unconditional forgiveness! Notice, without unconditional forgiveness, there will never be unconditional love.

Democracy Destroyed by Consumerism

Another quote from Philosophy in a Time of Terror. This time by Jurgen Habermas.

"Without the political taming of an unbounded capitalism, the devastating stratification of world society will remain intractable."

In other words, we can push for Democracy as hard as we can ("we" = U.S., U.N., etc.), but until we "tame" our consumption (consumerism, capitalism), we will ALWAY be forcing some countries to be lower and some countries to be higher (especially while we remain at that top).
- the height metaphor being defined as: who can take over, devastate, or force their will on another

Problem: Democracy is based on Capitalism as a form of government. Consumerism is also based on Capitalism - as a form of economics. We don't want to be told we cannot buy something, for example. We have come to live on Democracy and Consumerism as the politco-economic foundation of our daily living.

And as long as we do this, we force the rest of the world to remain "under" the U.S. Even worse, I would contend, we cannot stop just the economic part of Capitalism - it's an all-or-nothing issue in that it is so foundational.

[Notice: the Kingdom of God has its own government, economics, society, and (non)geography!!!]

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Defining "postmodern"

Rene' Descartes, "I think (actually 'doubt'), therefore I am." -- 1600's A.D.
- with this, most every idea for the following 400 years was able to be "validated."

post-Descartes question (asked sincerely, not in aggression), "Why you and not me / why your thinking and not mine?" -- 1940's+ A.D.
- with this, post-Modern philosophy pulled the rug out from under the last 400 years.

Today, perhaps, "What was on the rug?" -- 2006 A.D.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

more on "Home"

Watched enough Extreme Makeover to know something about myself:

Hope and Home cannot coexist. Hope, by its very existence, states that the one hoping is not Home. When the soul is at Home, there will be nothing to hope for.

Does "contentment" = the non-existence of hope?

[and if so, can Home be made!?!]

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

on My Rights

In John 13, Jesus washes the feet of His disciples. Certainly a lowly task in a walk-everywhere world. Then, when explaining what He was doing, comes to the sad truth that Judas is going to live contrary to Jesus. But Jesus does it like this,

But the Scripture will be fulfilled, "He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me." John 13:18

Ironic how the foot He just washed will be lifted against Him. Additional irony, Jesus is quoting Psalm 41 which starts:

Blessed is the one who considers the poor!
In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him;
the Lord protects him and keeps him alive;
he is called blessed in the land;
you do not give him up to the will of his enemies.

The Lord sustains him on his sickbed;
in his illness you restore him to full health.

Yet that very night, He will feel sick, be betrayed, and killed the next day - killed on a cross of curse and shame.

Question: at what point do I stand up for my "rights" - what determines whether I become a Strong Man or a doormat for someone else?

(to put it in terms of Jesus' story, When do I whip the boneheads in the Temple and when am I to be slaughtered like a dumb sheep?)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Why it's hard to Worship

Much of what I do/did as a pastor was overly . . . mental. "Belief" was the primary objective. Belief in contrast to believe-and-do. Yet my standard for ownership of a belief was the creative expression of the belief, that is, I believed (sic) that someone fully owned a belief when they expressed an action out of that belief that was unique to him/her.

Nonetheless, it has been quite a bit about what one believes, what one thinks. I think I am a part of a long history in the Church of such a pattern. Herein lies a problem. Much of what is called "teaching" or "preaching" is the presentation and defense of ideas. That is about all that comes from pastors. And I believe it is harming Worship of God.

Worship can and does have a myriad of forms, not just Sunday morning sing-time. Worship being defined as the expression of the god-ness of God. It feels like (hint: upcoming statistic is emotional, not an actual survey) about 50 percent of worship expressions are actually mental. To quote one definition, "I ascribe worth to God."

Summation: when so much of the Sunday morning / pastor / teaching experience of Christians is so overly-mental, it perhaps dilutes Worship. Christians are so tired of the baseline, mental activity (called sitting and listening to someone talk about beliefs) that it becomes difficult to ascend to Worship. When I used to run laps in junior high, I would get this sense that I was on auto-pilot - couldn't speed up nor slow down, just kept moving my legs. It's like that.

Perhaps this is one more reason why so much of the poetry and prose of the Church focuses on what God has done for Almighty ME. In stark contrast to a vast number of Psalms and prayers in the Hebrew Scriptures ("Old Testament"). Perhaps we are habituated into auto-pilot and cannot get our minds to ascend to the worship of the King, for the very ones who were to lead us (e.g. me) have numbed us.

God save you from me. And may you see Him when He does.

Monday, October 16, 2006

"Middle Evangelical"

I've been reading through the book of John and the following quotes from Jesus struck me:

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. - John 5:39-40

If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. - John 7:17

In Mapping Postmodernism, Greer "concludes" that there is a necessary shift from seeing "turth" as an abstraction unto seeing it as a Person. So with that somewhere in my mind, I am reading these passages (in context) and finding that Jesus sees two things greater than the Scriptures: 1) Himself and (2) obedience.

I'm not sure any deep follower of Jesus would think that Jesus is great and that obedience is a great idea! But to force them to be in competion with the Scripture . . .

So here I find myself somewhat Evangelical and somewhat "middle." I hold to deep moral convictions that I believe are more than just good ideas, they are necessary. I believe that there is a source of Truth outside of my own/cultural rationale (and that it is most easily found in the Bible). Put those two together and source them in Jesus and I find myself "Evangelical." But that's about where it ends.

I find myself "middle" because I don't buy the far right abstraction of all human problems nor the far left "fix the problems but keep the seperation of Morals and State." I find myself in the middle. But to vaguely quote some journalist I heard the other day, "The middle is not a balance of left and right, it's a set of convictions on its own." The 'middle' is a third option, not a synthesis.

So here's what I understand "the middle" to be: actually wanting to make a difference in the world both today and tomorrow. Wanting to deal directly with the problems being faced - without regard for whether an idea comes from the left, the right, or somewhere else. Wanting to deal with issues of poverty/corruption, racism, eco-destruction, unbridled consumerism. Looking ahead and wanting to prevent social decay or destruction in issues like 2-party America, homosexuality, immigration, unbridled stupidity in the name of "science," and many more.

So I am making up a label (and hoping a political party will form so that I can at least have some other option at the polls): Middle Evangelical. Obeying the Scriptures because they are the Words of/from God, the Jesus who is my King, my Friend, my Spouse, my Lord.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Handling Fear

I was listening to my friend Rocco a few weeks ago discuss what he had learned as the most important part of being a "man." It is to initiate. This has stuck in my head ever since.

Then came discussions at home about courage and fear, etc. And it became apparent to me that dealing with fear has some pretty simple components. In particular, knowing what I'm afraid of, knowing the solution, and then, the one I tend to forget to identify: Initiate.

With my newer sensibilities, I find that this start-up action can have two paths: self-initiation (e.g. "God helps those who help themselves") or faith-step (e.g. Trusting God with what to do as well as the power to do it). I long to not initiate my own path but rather to initiate my step(s) into faith, into the unknown, often cloudy direction of faith.

Yet I must initiate. Without everything calculated, worked out, accounted for. Folly, save that it is supra-human to trust-walk as God's.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Land of the free (to be lame)

Why is it that those representing ME are so concerned that Congress is filled with others like THEM?!?

Monday, September 25, 2006

More-on leadership

Leadership too often is simply defined as either the action of saying, or the person who has the power to say, "No." Too often it is the prevention of new that is called "leadership."

Or it is the use of "no" by an all-wise, benevolent to prevent a small harm at the cost of a broader good - like when I tell my kids no out-of-hand because what they are asking for is not the ideal request, meanwhile squashing their creativity, enjoyment of life, and sense of self-ability. PLUS teaching them to not self-generate new ideas while training them out of learning to think.

As if leadership = control = leadership

Sunday, September 24, 2006

My medical career

I have observed the following three usually-truisms from my time in the medical profession (which consists of a Bachelor's degree in medical stuff and at least 3 seasons of faithfully watching "E.R." on Thursday nights).

1) The creativity of the human body is amazing. Beyond-reason amazing. Most of what we know about the brain (or genes or the impact one system has on another) is, candidly, about 10% deep. We have fields like "neurosurgery" but we're not sure what we're doing. Most of what we "know" is what not to touch. It's just way too complex. And beautiful.

2) Sin is an evil that is incapable of being understood. Almost equal to the beautiful complexity of the human body is the power and totality of the sin's rampages. My personal sin can cause personal human decay, social toxicity, and multiplied reverberations of mal-intent towards others. In their book "Vital Friends," the Gallup Poll folks describe that a bad work environment can all but destroy a marriage and/or family. One boss (or employee) will cause those affected grief, who will in turn become carriers to the disease as it spreads out.

3) Those in the profession are NOT better at the profession when compared to non-professionals. Example, respiratory therapist who smokes 1.5 packs per day. Internships and Rotations that ask people to make snap, vital decisions but forces them to work 18 hour shifts.

Is this not just like the Church?

Saturday, September 16, 2006


"I think therefore I am."

"But what if you're wrong?"

"Who's going to tell him?"

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Fear = Faith

"Fear the LORD," psalmist.

I often get the sense as I read the Bible that I am to replace something lesser with God or something of His. "Don't trust in riches, trust in GOD's supply," for example.

So what exactly is it that I fear that I need to replace with the fear of Jesus?

I fear hunger, deep hunger. I fear being deemed bad by others. I fear being caught for what I should have been busted for. I fear others acting in a way that I wasn't expecting or wanting.

I fear what others think about me and I fear what that I will loose control of my world.

So I trust in myself to take care of it: I act a certain way and I control what I can. I, I, I.

Is it possible that "Fear God" is a call to trust? "O fear the LORD, you His saints. For to those who fear Him, there is no want." (Psalm 34:9) Not every time necessarily, but often when I read "fear" it seems to carry a huge component of entrusting my life into God's hand, making my life His responsibility. HE is the one I should trust with what others think about me, with my food, with my discipline, with others' actions. Perhaps fear = faith.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Division of Preaching and Community

Faced with caricatures of "preaching as monologue" OR "discussion as sharing of ignorance", we need new skills and capacities to preach the Bible as a living word in community.

Good push from a blog I read.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Questions are safer than statements

When the values I teach my children are mutually exclusive, what will they choose?

When the reasons I give for conflicting actions are also in conflict, are they left with nothing, something, an aversion to both the options I present?

When I was told by someone else wearing an orange apron (sic), “The customer is my boss; customer service is #1” and then I’m given a book to see if I am making my quota . . .

When I preach polar “truths” without identifying the potential or seeming contradiction, do I handcuff the listener?  Am I energizing a rebellion to the “truth,” a survival mechanism that forces one to find a way “out” . . . ‘out’ of the ‘truth’?

Is there a responsibility of those teaching (parent, boss, pastor, etc.) to keep the whole picture in mind?  Or even to simplify to such an extent that I can keep myself from self-contradiction?

Friday, August 18, 2006

War & Christianity - wrong question

I was reading a blog today about War and Christianity. This topic is of much interest in light of what is happing in my ancestral homeland of Lebanon. This is one of a number of posts by Chris Erdman on the topic lately.

What bothers me is something I see quite often in some of the newer theologies/theologians I converse with and/or read (could I get any more slashes in there!). I hear statements like, “Jesus did not start ‘Christianity,’ Paul did.” And “Lets just get back to Jesus.” The first I don’t like, the second comes from a different angle but impacts one’s point-of-view so profoundly...

The basic idea is that we look at Jesus alone for our understanding of God, living, morals, and philosophy. Actually, we look only to what we recorded about Jesus.

My problem here is that Jesus didn’t just show up like an Alien abduction scenario. He had no problem with the label/title “Christ” - Messiah - Anointed One. That’s a pretty narrow title! It limits Him to a Specific role (God’s tool) in a Specific religion (“Judaism”) in a Specific geography (THE land of Israel)!!

So isn’t it an offense to Jesus Himself to say “I’m only about Jesus”? That would be like someone only interested in me as a piano player. Dude, I am SO much more than a piano player!! (which is good because I’m not all that great at it!)

So back to War. My issue is not with the yes or no of War. My issue is with the over-narrow, decidedly blind new theology/angle that produces a philosophy on war that is claimed as “Christian,” “Biblical,” or “in line with Jesus.” It seems to ignore the conflict Jesus causes, the conflict He predicted He would cause, and the idea that Jesus/God/the King does have insight into how governments (not just individuals or intimate communities) can and should act.

I keep coming back to Romans 13 wherein Paul states that government(s) are a tool of God, created by Him. Including reward and discipline.

I FULLY agree with my friend/boss Brad Holaway: the “solution” in the Lebanon/Israel crisis is the subversive infiltration of the Kingdom of God, brought by followers of the King, so that forgiveness and justice can be wrought/brought from the inside-out. But I depart from some of this newer thinking at the full dismissal of discipline. I DO think the question at hand is: is it okay for one government to discipline another. But to claim that “turning the other cheek” is the flies in the face of much of Scripture that pertains to Justice. See, for example, the one verse that BOTH sides might claim, “Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly before God Himself” (Micah 6:8). So is the call to Justice simply a pipe-dream because we have to be full pacifists? Does this approach work with my kids?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Dumb fun - speed-reading site

Just found ZapReader The first link on the site is one of the best methods of speed-reading -- smaller chunks per line (my early PDA averaged 8 words per line, Microsoft Word that I am writing this in is averaging 18 per line). This prevents the eye from moving backwards to reread something already read. The first link allows you to paste text into a window, then pick the speed you read it at. It displays it one word at a time (no back-reading here!). Tons of fun for those that like to read more swiftly.

Second benefit: teaches me to not say the words in my head (internal vocalization). This site is great for learning how to read words as words, without “hearing” the text.

These techniques do NOT ruin what I’m reading. Just more efficient. I tend to dig this stuff.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

"May your yes be" . . . often?

I once heard it said that the key to improvised dialogue (e.g. comedy / “improv”) is to always say, “yes.” When one person states something, the other person/people cannot rebut. Instead they must continue with whatever is presented. When someone says no it usually takes no more than two more rounds of dialogue for the whole “act” to simply end. “No” kills Improv.

So that’s been rumbling in my brain for a while. Then there is “community” - which is always rumbling in my head. Add in other factors (like my friend John DelHousaye’s blog called “Faith Practices”) and I have now added my own Faith-practice/spiritual discipline.


I should say yes to as many things as I can. I am not speaking specifically of saying yes to that which I would not normally. And I am not talking about “never being able to say no.” I am talking about saying yes to real needs in real people. Really more of a pro-active yes.

Does someone need money - then I offer. Does someone need a ride - yes. Would someone’s life be better if I did a troubling task with them - I put myself forward.

This all is some variant of community mixed with sacrifice and/or love. I think. For now.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The leader-poison of Contempt

Something of a syllogism on the relational power of leader-follower-leader.  This comes from my second-hand interaction with “The E-Myth” as well as my own self-observations.
Let me know if you agree or not, am I missing parts, etc.

If leading means the leader stops “doing” in order to lead
   - and -
Doers don’t know the leader [e.g. Doer is new, organization is too large, leading takes too much time]
Then Doers will foster contempt towards the leader

Doer-contempt fosters a decrease in productivity
  - and -
Decrease in productivity fosters contempt in the leader
Then how does a leader lead without fostering contempt throughout the circle of people involved?

I  know there are things that Doers can do, the question focuses on the role, power, and potential of the Leader for two reasons.  First, it’s faster to fix one point (leader) than many points (doer) and I really like efficiency.  Second, my sphere of contact tends to be with leader-types.

The flip-side of "Fortify"

Kevin Redding, Middle School Pastor at Shiloh Community Church (our home church until we move) gave an interesting definition last Sunday.

He used the word “fortify” in the following way, “A Barnabas-type friend is one who fortifies.”  He then illustrated “fortify” by pulling out a box of Coco-Puffs and reading, “Fortified with 10 Vitamins and Minerals.”  Drawing on the irony that a food product that is mainly sugar and bleached flour!, he came to the following conclusion-definition:

“To Fortify is to make something more than it can be by itself.”

I think I always took “fortify” to emphasize some kind of sustaining activity: supports are used to fortify a weak wall, to keep it like it is.  I really like the world-view lens Kevin gave me.  It seems that the effect of my assumed definition and Kevin’s stated definition are the same, I just really like the way Kevin’s statement makes things look!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

"I feel like I'm taking Crazy Pills!"

I am asking the two people who read this blog . . .

Why is it that when I present a new idea, more specifically a challenge, the idea is 'validated' but never defended? For example, if I challenge someone's view of rugged-individualism, the other person will acknowledge that I have challenged their view, their thinking, their paradigm, but never offer a defense against my "attack."

Am I notorious for not reading social cues - people are actually communicating something to me and I'm just not getting it? Am I overly concerned about things that don't actually exist? Do I question too many things so as to form a callous towards me in everyone?

Comments or email would be most appreciated in regards to this.
Thank you,
Blog Manager

Friday, June 30, 2006

Faith and Works

“Vocation always involves faith(hope)” -- N.T. Wright

Why is it that we, as humans, are so capable of adapting to detrimental circumstances (short or long-term) and yet be incapable or even reluctant to adapt back to health?

One of the consequences of the Fall: work becomes toil. Now, we no longer want to work (generically). “Heaven” is usually a place of non-work, in our common depictions. Perhaps because we can no longer adapt back from toil to work.

But without work (vocation), we loose a consistent, on-going, base-level need for faith (should N.T. Wright be accurate). The wage of sin, in the sphere of work, is the handicapping of our ability to Live in the common (mundane) parts of life - the daily laborings. God is amiss in all but the extreme.

[Back to my Heaven thread, perhaps this is why myself and many of my other friends from my local church grew up wondering what we would do forever in heaven - won’t it get pretty boring; partying with God can only last for so long]

Heaven . . .

Saturday, June 17, 2006

More-on Heaven

Previously, I have written about “heaven” seeming to always be a bunch of what someone does NOT like about life now.

So I began thinking, was this trend in place during the writing of the Scriptures? Is that why “kingdom” is used?

[Way off subject here, but there is a GREAT blog tool called “bloglines” that automatically tracks new blogs from a list of blogs you create. Well worth your time if you frequent more than 2 blogs!!]

Heaven . . .

Friday, June 02, 2006

Conditional Surrender = oxymoron

Jason West, high school pastor at Shiloh, put forth a most wonderful observation last Sunday.

We have replaced the idea/word Surrender with the word Commitment (or even Submission). The primary point of this is that anything other than Surrender is conditional and lets me stay, to some degree, in control.

When I think of the word "surrender" I think of a war-time situation in which one surrenders, is taken captive, and therein is under the Full Control of "the enemy." Surrender means I am no longer in control of what I do, why I am alive, what I get to live for, what I speak, what I eat, when I live or act, when I die.

So when I voluntarily surrender to the King God/Jesus, it is not conditional. Unless I am a (oxy)moron. Alas, it is not surrender at all but a diminution that keeps me from surrender at all.

on Heaven

On reading writers from Augustine to the present (not all, of course!), I have come to the following conclusion:

For most of us, "heaven" is the end of things we don't like here on earth.

For Augustine, it was the end of incomplete communication. For most of us in the U.S. it is the end of work. Every accounting I have read is based, first, on the end of something. Further, whatever a given writer proposes as ending, another writer (or reader or culture or ...) would never put on list!

So I am on a quest, a small one. I am going to try to erase this observation from my mind and try to come up with my "view of heaven" - I'm going to try to let it be a list of endings, as I would have done before this observation.

Then I am going to try to find out why I have not let God redeem what is on the list.

Heaven . . .

Friday, May 12, 2006

God never says NO unto nothing.

I have struggled, like many before, with God saying, “no.” In particular, when God declines to move, act, or allow what seems blatantly within His stated desires. Either God was inefficient or I misunderstood something.

I misunderstood.

Sometimes, I have found, God choosing one value over another. Often it feels like He will choose the “smaller” of the two (or three or ...). For example, God pushed the apostle Paul into a decade-long, desert experience (small, personal) instead of using Paul’s obvious talents and history to accomplish much (big, many people).

But God never says “no” unto nothing. He is always causing/creating something. Even in the dark times, God is often drawing with fluorescent ink :-) It’s not until we are given a black-light (i.e. God’s insight/illumination) that we can see what used to look like “nothing.”

When God says “no,” though, it’s still very difficult. Even when I know He’s drawing with invisible ink, it’s frustrating, hurtful, etc. [Note: especially when He draws in my kids’ lives]

So I struggle with God. I wrestle with Him and antagonize Him when He says, “no.”

Murray Moerman taught me something deep today. He said in regard to a particular frustration of mine, “Did God say ‘no’? In other words, did God say, ‘Stop praying’?”

Whoa. Sometimes God says, “keep praying but I’m not giving you want you’re asking for yet.” Sometimes God says, “No.” I am wrestling with this. Maybe God needed a break from me wrestling with Him.

Friday, May 05, 2006

VERY quotable article on Leadership / Management

Here's one small section of a great article:

Shareholder Value: Is "shareholder value" new as well, or just another old way to sell the future cheap? Is this just an easy way for chief executives without ideas to squeeze money out of rich corporations? This mercenary model of management (greed is good, only numbers count, people are human "resources" who must be paid less so that executive can be paid more, etc.) is so antisocial that it will doom us if we don't doom it first.

Empowerment: Organizations that have real empowerment don't talk about it. Those that make a lot of noise about it generally lack it: they have been spending too much of their past disempowering everybody. Then, suddenly, empowerment appears as some kind of gift from the gods.

In actual fact, real empowerment is a most natural state of affairs: people know what they have to do and simply get on with it, like the worker bees in a beehive. Maybe the really healthy organizations empower their leaders, who in turn listen to what is going on and so look good.

See the article here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

How to be self-obsorbed (how?)

If you read this, I’m curious to know what you think...

Does the Bible show God’s “method” to be
1) Accomplishment
2) State of Being

For example, the idea of “God’s glory revealed.” Is that an issue of it finally being seen or that the universe is in an ongoing state of revealing?

For example, am I to “learn a lesson” (faith, obedience, morality, etc.) or am I to “become” something (faithful, obedient, moral)?

Is God trying to teach me “something” or is it more how to live, no matter what the somethings are? Does God put me in difficult situations or does life happen with God altering how I live in this world? Put most awkwardly, is God trying to make me Become something or rather Become someone Becoming?

A large part of this springs from the sense that if the former in each case is true, then how can I not be overwhelmed when I look at my life - so much going on, so many places where I think I see God's hand, etc. - SHOULD I be overwhelmed, is that the proper place to be?

[I know there are examples of both in the Bible. The question pertains to discerning does God have a primary method while the other is a tool or simply situational.]

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Over-Simple Life Over-View

I am finding 3 options to most “areas” of my life:

1) Maintain
2) Sharpen, modify, make better
3) Create something new

[on a good note: at least it’s not the typical “2 things” that usually cause an artificial continuum!]

Why can I not quiet my mind?

Why can I not quiet my mind?  It’s like having ADD but only with internal stimuli.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Am I falling or getting right-side up?

I feel like a weed that has grown swiftly from the heat and the rain of late.  I feel like I’m growing!  I feel like my new growth is into space that I have never known existed (since I had never been in that space).

But I also feel like a new-born deer -- new space? all around!  Wobbly legs? Oh yeah!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Pursuing World Peace like a Pageant winner

Which would be better: change the laws of the land to be “good” or to do “good” no matter the laws of the land?  Does the answer to that question dictate where I should spend my time and energy when it comes to bettering the world (based on the assumption that I do want to better the world), ‘cause there just isn’t enough time to do both well.

Did Jesus read Plato or influence him?

I’ve been reading Plato for the last year; I have Portable Plato in the wicker basket in the bathroom (read fully into that).  Plato, who came  a few centuries before Jesus and Paul, uses a number of illustrations/analogies that are then found on the lips/pen of Jesus and Paul.  In fact, most all of Jesus and Paul’s analogies are used by Plato and usually in the same basic way.

Does this mean that the heart of God is discernable rationally?  I am addressing here the critique of Rationalism and/or Modernism and/or Enlightenment.  Did Plato discern with his mind the heart of God’s way for relating one to another?

Too easy

I found myself feeling like a character in the Old Testament.  I follow a set of ideas, even rules, that I enjoy following.  I think they are great ideas.  I don’t like the effort always, but I like following something Good.  But I am afraid I have put my head down and am just following the trajectory of these rule/ideas -- like drawing a line through them will point me down the straight-and-narrow.

Then a wonderful person at Shiloh the other day did one of those, “Oh, you’re not perfect!” statements.  It was NOT a sarcastic jab nor was it a call for me to accept my imperfection.  It was more, “Another example of you’re not only choosing good things, but you’re humble about it also -- another good choice!!”  If this person could see my insides . . .

My heart has wandered out of the color of a love-relationship and into beige.  See the first chapter of Isaiah here.

So I am left with this nag: I choose God, I choose to pursue His requests (that implies not doing it perfectly but trying to), but my heart grows cold and beige.  Is this the normal ebb-and-flow of a relationship?  It doesn’t feel this extreme with Tara, so why with God?  Is it because she’s newer?

Then my perfectionism kicks in with, “You probably shouldn’t do or say anything until you are back in color - you might do something foolish!!”

[Please, God, remove my ability to communicate such things to my children!!]

Monday, March 27, 2006

Sorry, going political just one more time . . .

For some incredibly sad reason, I cannot get the following out of my mind . . .

I was reading the spot-quotes under the pictures of some of our senators in USA Today, the topic was immigration legistlation. And there's H. Clinton stating that the current legislation was contradictory to all-things "Good Samaratin" and that it would "prevent Jesus" from doing His work if He were alive today.

I assume Ms. Clinton reads my blog so, "PLEASE DON'T SAY ANYTHING ABOUT JESUS!! It's bizarre, creepy, stunning, and gross. The 'Jesus' of which you speak has never existed. If you are interested in the Jesus of the Bible, of historic Christianity, or even 'The Jesus Movement' (yikes!), please write or call someone. But stop tapping into the public idea(l) of Jesus in the Protestant Bible. It's such blatent pandering to the point of grotesque!"


Not even "How Stuff Works" (.com) can make Evolution anything more than a theory - an unproved group of beliefs that can possibly explain things (albiet quite poorly according to the later half of the article).

See it at

I would like to see the Supreme Court read this, or at least the attorney that are presenting.

"Fact" - it is impossible to know what happened before humans existed for such information is not recorded precluding us from either "knowing" or "repeating" the creation process. Every religion (including "science" as it exists today) has to trust some unprovable beliefs. Therefore, Origins is NOT an acceptable topic in a publically (federally) funded school system - except in a survey of religions course!!


Sunday, March 05, 2006

Is perfection a narrow ideal?

Paul said, essentially, “I want to be able to be anything for anyone, so that I might most clearly explain to them (in life, action, words, etc.) God and His desires.” (1 Cor. 9).

In Christian history, this has been called “all things to all people.”  Certainly it is a good goal for an individual to have (as so stated by Paul).  But is it really a good goal for a group of people, as a group?  Is it really even possible?  Perhaps a person can be all things to 50% of people.  Taking a group of 10 would not yield 500% due to overlap (i.e. Tara and I might be all things to the same 40% while she “be” Canadian and I can “be” psychotic - those groups making up the remaining 10%).  So a conglomeration of 10 people might be all things to 75%.

But what about as a group?  Most “groups” have a name that tries to define what they ARE being, thereby also defining what they are NOT.  It is deliberately not all things to all people - hopefully all things to a specific group (e.g. Chess Club, Home Depot, etc.).

The local church in the U.S. is run by a leadership-driven model.  As such, “vision” and “direction” are usually given in ways that are as narrow as Chess Club and Home Depot.  Very seldom is a leader(ship)’s vision so broad as to be “all things to all people.”  Most churches I have been involved in, for example, have little-to-nothing to do with co-dependent, emotionally needy people.  Nor do they have much to do with fighting oppression.  Nor . . .  They are driven by a focused vision - focused in that it includes some things and excludes others.  Whether intentional or not, it is not all things to all people.

How much sense, then, does it make to ask a local church to be all things to all people?  Is the impact of a group not bound by the “focus” (narrowing of energy) of the vision?

I was talking with Eric Dalrymple 2 days ago and began to ponder what the point of a “vision” is.  How can a “vision” include everyone?  So my big question is, can a vision include any and everyone?

[To those who follow my saga, I have been bothered by the idea of having every Christian in the U.S. working their way toward some “common, ideal Christian.”  I believe that everyone’s uniqueness prevents this “common ideal.”  Perhaps I see the journey of this country needing to go from what currently is (one, ideal, local church) to unique, local churches -- hoping then to get local churches to go towards unique, local Christians.  That is, breaking the “monolithic mega-goal” at the group level and then break it at the individual level.  Maybe, then, we can stop wearing those W.W.J.D. bracelets and start living “What Did Jesus JUST NOW Tell Me To Do” necklaces (no way to get all those letters on one, plastic bracelet!).]

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Don't blame post-modernity!

While I tend to like about 40% of what’s being said by the first-wave of postmodernity, I think I saw this wave as the undoing of what currently is.  I think I liked this idea.  Until I listened to the radio.

Now I think that the U.S. (in particular) is unraveling itself.  The U.S. is turning into a big but

- We value people living independently, in some kind of ‘democracy’ - BUT - we force people to have this independence! [Go Bush!]

- We value personal safety and security - BUT - we won’t let the safe-guardians do their job
    - we will sacrifice our very Life for privacy
    - we will blame the safe-guardians we handcuffed for their failure to protect

- We believe in the universal right of “freedom of expression” - BUT - we don’t think the anti-Muslim cartoons should print
   (did anyone else get a kick out watching/listening to a free press try to distance itself from this ‘free expression’!!??!)

- We believe that access to good, quality jobs is essential for life on this planet - BUT - we profile Middle East countries and prevent their success (UAE port purchase) [Go Ms. Clinton!]

- We have a non-negotiable Constitution - BUT - we can rewrite it to include Pornography as a “freedom of speech” (a political ideal), “separation of Church and State” to be a limit on the Church not the State (as intended), even the misinterpreted “separation” is misinterpreted to only apply to belief-systems that name their all-powerful Creator (how different is “God” than “Big Bang”?)

To quote the great Bugs Bunny, “What a maroon!”  Should God bless America as we ask, it will probably start with some housekeeping.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Get your Laissze-Faire

Doesn't our government have something better to do with their time?!?!?

Latest conspiracy uncovered - as of January 2006:

Is it possible that the government has controlled the speed of the turning plate in the bottom of the microwave?!?! I have timed a number of these wunder-devices and they all, ALL!, spin at one rotation every 20 seconds.

Try it and see for yourself. Big Brother controls my popcorn!! AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006


I came to the epiphany last night that there is no good job for me. I am unhirable, to a certain extent. Inside of me is the desire to work 8-5 and just go home, be a dad and a husband. Yet I want a job where I can pour my life into my work ('cause I will anyway).

I do believe this is a greater cause of my depressions. I am incapable of co-existing with myself.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Amazing quote on money

This comes from Dr. Gordon Fee of Regent College in a lecture series he did with Bruce Waltke on Biblical Theology (thank you to Brad Holaway for exposing me to this series). The quote is not exactly exact, but it's plenty close enough...

"I think 'tithing' is a bad practice. It's a bad practice to have and it's a bad practice to preach. The problem with tithing is that it eventually stands itself against generosity, and this is, oh, so much better!"

Security: another double-edged sword

What do I mean when I say something is "secure." I supposed I could mean it is tucked away, safe from harm ("my valuables are 'secure'"). Or it could mean that it is not going to move so I can use it ("this bolt is 'secure,' I can now connect my life-line to it without fear").

Free form loss or Reliable.

One means I can ignore "it" the other means I expand on/from it.

So if my relationship with God (or Tara or _____) is "secure"... which one do I mean?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

my take on Jason on Worship together

Having had a most delightful conversation with Jason Fischer today, I am wrestling with these new phrases, “Worship Leader” and “Lead Worshiper” (thank you Jason!)

What do you prefer (personally, philosophically, whatever...):

1) Worship Leader: someone who leads a community/congregation in worship
     - more than just song selection; uses songs, words, other “things” to lead people in their worshiping together - lead unto a certain idea or certain frame of mind, unto a particular expression or action, etc.

2) Lead Worshiper: someone who usually prepares the order of the community’s/congregation’s worship, usually starts the songs, is usually visible to all, and who then worships intently
     - this person usually sets-up the time of community worship and then enters it him/herself

Monday, January 23, 2006

With which eyeball do you look at me?

I am noticing two ways that people see “people” --
1) looking for similarities in all people (perhaps a control activity)
2) looking for differences (almost seeing people as “art”)

Monday, January 16, 2006

I wish penance worked, part II

[Thank you, B., for your response.  I want to believe that faith, at any time is what pleases God.  But then my economic “version” of my relating to God kicks in . . . great for guilt, bad for long-term relationships.]

I am happy to report that God doesn’t seem to care as much about my “timing” and “economic-based-faith” as I do.

We have decided (not independently!) to ask God to provide us money to live on so that we may live out what we and others sense is God’s next-step for us.  My/our desire is that people would ONLY choose to support us financially IF and Only IF God so moved them.

My “act of faith” was supposed to be praying hard for this before we actually entered this season of life.  I tried weakly to do so.  But no that this is upon us, I pray more.  Way more!  And feel very guilty that I am now praying; in the midst of the experiencing my need, I finally fall to my knees.

But God has been gracious.   Not just that people are being moved by the Spirit to support us, but they way they are supporting us . . . beyond gracious.  So far beyond gracious, that it has all the color and character of God Himself.  Ridiculous Grace.

And I didn’t do my part previous to this.  Hmph.  Amazing that I can feel overwhelming kindness from God while feeling guilt towards God.

Monday, January 09, 2006

I wish penance worked.

I find myself finally wanting to trust God with a part of my life (in this case, “the future” - but this cycle happens in other areas too often). But it feels like it’s too late to trust because now I blatantly need Him. It’s as if I can’t force myself to rely on God until I have to. It doesn’t feel like faith with it’s the only option.

With penance, it feels like I could earn-back my lack of faith before the obvious point-of-need.

Why is it so hard for me to trust before I feel the weight of my need? Especially when I can already see it coming.

[and why do I have such an "economic" relationship with God?!?]

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