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!