Friday, October 31, 2008

Nonsolid, absolute truth

I tend to enjoy parallels-by-metaphor for two reasons. First, they're fun. Second, they tend to actually shape the way societies think (for most of the people) so if one is accurate in seeing them as they happen, one can predict (and who doesn't like such a feeling of power or control!).

So I have come across an shift in physics that I think might either mirror what is already going on, might be the cause, or might be the result. Regardless, the connection is quite tight (in my opinion).

Parallel: absolute truths & matter. We tend to think of 'stuff' as 'just being there - you can't deny that the chair I'm sitting on is real!' Something like absolute truths - they're just there, you can't deny them, for in doing so you make an absolute statement and accidentally, then, prove the existence of absolute truths.

Possible parallel: "mass is no longer an inherent property of matter since it CHANGES with velocity. Instead, mass = inertial potential. Again, this makes 'mass' not really a quality solely within the object itself but only see-able (observable, measurable, understandable, etc.) using external objects or force."
What if absolute truth OR my rationality (or human rationality) is NOT an inherent property but an implication of inertia... What if what one feels, senses, thinks, etc. is only the effect of a 'truth' or 'proposition'?

Implication: 'relativity' in physics/science does NOT state that everything is relative but, instead, the OBSERVER can only have a relative relationship with the object. The mass of an object depends on MY velocity (and by extension, the object's velocity relative to mine).
Or put a little more simply (in my opinion), I can measure the speed of my car at 60 miles per hour. But that's on a planet spinning something like 1,000 mph on a planet moving at about 67,000 mph around the Sun. So how fast is my car going? It depends on the observer's relationship to my car (the object). To the police officer I'm going 75mph. To the moon, I'm going between 900 and 1,100mph (I'm NOT going to bring that before the judge!).

BUT! That doesn't make measuring worthless! Nor does it prevent there being a place in the universe where one COULD measure everything accurately - if there was a central point around which everything else rotated, for example.

EVEN MORESO - if "it's all relative" then my car sitting in my garage is going an insanely dangerous 68,000 mph in the morning (slowing down to 66,000 around 2am). This is silly because what I'm actually concerned about (for safety purposes) is inertial potential which has everything to do with the observer.

What happens when some post-modern philosophers speak of the death of the metanarrative is that they are saying, "I don't like what the potential affect certain metanarratives have (or have had!) on people/society." But that only makes sense in their own metanarrative (as many of them eventually bemoan).

My Opinion on the Practical Ramifications: What we're all looking for is a true, context-specific measurement of what is or is coming (could be, should be, will be, etc.). I don't care what speed my car is going from the perspective of the moon for that is not context-specific (me and the police officer's radar gun). Nor do I care that a physics professor can tell me that my car is going between -6,000,000 and +12,000,000 miles per hour -- that isn't 'true' because each context that contributes to that 'answer' negates the other contexts giving me all-but infinite false-positives.
This, to me, is the parallel plight of Modernity - Modernity claims to have truth but it doesn't have even CLOSE to enough accuracy for local situations. But the post-modern falicy is to state that lack of accuracy means worthlessness. Getting hit by a large truck going an inaccurate, relative 100 mph still hurts!! That inaccurate, relative assessment of speed is NOT worthless!

I need (want?) an objective (outside) observer that can think - that can measure in a way that is true AND context-specific. That can not only tell me what is REALLY going on (yet in terms that make sense to me / my context) but can also tell me what will happen to me/us if we are hit by (absorb, become, believe, etc.) the potential inertia of another object, thought, belief, etc.

This observer would, according to most every defintion I can remember ever being used throughout time, be labeled . . . .


Did we kill God when we made His previous, context-specific observations into Universal & Absolute? Did we replace Him with His statements? Have we not let Him unleash His potential inertia!?!?!
And for those who have tried to let God be true-and-relevant, have we found Him to be too unpredicable - too scary?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pastors as PickUp Artists

My good friend, Jesse Gable, 'introduced' me to the sub-culture of "PickUp Artists."

[NOTE: Neither Jesse nor I are pick-up artists!]

So I read a bit on this approach to life. I found it dumb and base but powerful. This drew me to ponder my own use of power, posture, etc. in relationships and even my work. And now I have distilled a major insight.

When I first meet someone (or a group), I can work towards Respect or Trust.

PickUp Artists work for Respect. They work to create a (sub)version of reality that gives them incredible respect. They want the respect of their 'target' (girl). But ALSO self-respect as well as the respect of others (even other males). **

Ironically, the one book I read on/by PickUp Artist ended with the author's (fake)world being 'popped' by a real girl who didn't play the game. She had more power (respect) over him than he had over her. He left "the game" (as he called it) to be with the more powerful one. Irony to spare!

So what sets apart a PickUp Artist? Why are they so "successful"? Because they go after Respect-Only. The rest of us (intuitively) go after some amount of Trust.

I fear pastors have become PickUp Artists: When I ask pastors about their churches, I get Respect answers (number of _____, income, impact). Perhaps this is why pastor conferences feel like bars?

Trust seekers are "good friends", Respect seekers are "desired": I had a good friend in high school whom girls flocked to. I wanted girls, too! But I had friends. I had been trained/taught to generate trust, not respect. I envied my 'player' friend.

I can choose! I realized yesterday that this information allows me to deliberately choose one way or the other. I think we also have natural-bent. I am predicting (haven't thought this one out fully) that 'pastors' are Trust seekers and 'teachers' are Respect seekers (in their current, late-moderntiy, U.S.A. contexts!!).

Long-term Loss or Payoff: Perhaps there are times when I should(?) focus on Respect? If I am in a short-term (2 days or less) situation, might it be better for me to establish Respect (more than Trust) so as to achieve maximum impact?
- But what about those who discipled me that focued on Respect. Is that why I don't talk to them anymore? maybe even not-respect them anymore?
- Should a presidential candidate even TRY to gain my trust? Why not just go after my respect! But a Congressional candidate might work for trust due to the potential, long-term relationship with my state.

My Ego :: Trust has no shock or wow: But sheep follow a shepherd they trust. And since I am not the Chief Shepherd, where does that leave me?

Facing the real point of this post: am I okay getting my significance obeying the Chief Shepherd and not from the 'respect' of the sheep?

** It reminds me of Dungeons and Dragons in the 80's!! Create a fake world, work hard to get respect (power), and try to spend as much time as possible in the fake world. Eventually, one comes to believe that the virtual world is more real than the physical world.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I've been to this place of violence

A very good man, Sami, is being used by God to help alter the Israeli/Palestinian situation. Sami is committed to non-violent protests in the Jerusalem-Bethlehem area.

The post he writes (here) is about a hill I have been on - I walked into the guard-houses, walked around the hill, saw the construction of the park mentioned in the post. I, too, was forced off the hill by the military. When I was there, there were no settlers (they had already left). But the Israeli army forced us off Palestinian land. Us and the other non-violent, international group. Very surreal.

And now it has obviously gotten worse. I am very, very sad.

I would ask that you read the post above. From what I saw when I was there, I fully believe that Sami is writing with extreme accuracy (except for the part about the big-game animal reference - grin) about what happened/happens. I also know that Sami's commentary at the end is true to his heart. It is amazing to me that he can still have those thoughts after this many years. You can read about some significant parts of his story in Brother Andrews' book Light Force.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hide and Seek with the Holy Spirit

I've been wrestling with myself as it pertains to my thinking about and relationship with the Holy Spirit (i.e. God). My 'issue' is that I was raised inside a Modern-Western -> Evangelical -> Large Church (increasing results are important) -> Non-Charismatic tradition (that list was intended to be more-and-more precise).

Then I was exposed to the role of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament and in OT prophecy. The ridiculous living of the Apostles after Jesus' resurrection began to make sense.

Then I was exposed to Gordon Fee, _God's Empowering Presence_ in particular. Then 'my eyes were opened' to the self-focused tendency that's all-but built-in to the current rendition of "absolute truth" and Bibliolatry.

Then I listened to Ted Wueste talk about how a "relationship with God" is probably not so much what I thought it was (see

CURRENT ASSESSMENT: Sin is the act of disconnecting from God as the source of life-and-direction BY finding MYSELF as the source, entrusting MYSELF to find life-and-direction.

A bit ethereal... so I'm going to try to live with two thoughts consuming me.
(1) What does it mean for Jesus to really, REALLY be Lord (of my life, of this universe, of all time)
(2) What does it mean for me to 'be connected' to God as my source of life (physical needs, significance, 'strength', etc.) and direction (what I do and don't do, what I plan for/about).

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

a dream about John 13

What if Christians stopped asking their friends to "go to church" to "get saved"...

And instead, asked their friends to "go to church" to "meet the people of God" or "see what God's like ('His Body')" or "to meet some people who will walk through life with you"?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Funny on Friendship (just had to post this)

Got an email from my daughter today. I liked so much of it, I'm posting it. It's all good, but I really like the very end.

1. When you are sad,

I will jump on the person

who made you sad

like a spider monkey

jacked up on Mountain Dew!!!

2. When you are blue,

I will try to dislodge

whatever is choking you.

3. When you smile,

I will know you are

plotting something

that I must be involved in.

4. When you're scared,

we will high tail it out of here.

5. When you are worried,

I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse

it could be until you quit whining, ya big baby!!!!

6. When you are confused,

I will use little words.

7. When you are sick,

Stay away from me until you are well again.

I don't want whatever you have.

8. When you fall,

I'll pick you up and dust you off--

After I laugh my butt off!!

9. This is my oath...

I pledge it to the end.

'Why?' you may ask;

-- because you are my FRIEND!

Friendship is like peeing your pants,

everyone can see it,

but only YOU

can feel the

true warmth.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Do, Believe, Feel, Know . . .

1) It seems to me that most pastors/preachers see "belief" as what comes first. "If you'll believe _________, then you WILL [insert desired action here]."

2) It seems to me that there's always an order, a sequence, to these things. The old "Faith - Facts - Feelings" train (or was it Fact - Faith - Feelings? and what kind of mode-of-transportation doesn't have a Do?)

So where does the phrase "I have come to believe..." fit in? Isn't that phrase used, typically, after some kind of "Do" (or, gasp, "Feel") episode?

Perhaps the request to be so linear/sequential and to always start with our rational side (belief, thoughts) is not the best. Perhaps it's not even human. Did we just pick the wrong 'order' - or is there not to be an 'order' but maybe just a 'set'?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Good Girls using Bad Words

The great Kurt Johnston (the longest-lasting Junior High pastor I've ever even heard of - and an incredible guy at that!) has been commissioned to write a book called "99 Thoughts about Guys... for Girls Eyes Only." He asked for ideas from folks who read his blog. If you get a chance, pop over there and read the comments - some of them are hysterical!

Reading his post prompted me to finally write the following post on Perspectives on Sex (I've been ruminating on this potential post for quite a while now). I write this with the explicit request that you, reader, respond: either for or against or both or ...

Having worked in the restaurant industry of Phoenix for a time, and having been involved with some incredible people as we discussed life, and having read-up some on Pick-Up-Artists and their ways, I have found the following:

  • One of the primary parts/aspects of Relationships is Power. This is often seen as influence.
    - praise God this isn't all there is! There is a problem when this is the dominant factor, though, as seen below.
  • Value is the dominant 'currency' of relationships. Or is it the dominant currency of Power?
  • Boys and Girls spend their Relationship Currency on different stuff, just like Boys and Girls spend their monetary currency on different stuff!!
  • Nobody is satisfied with the amount of Relationship Currency they have, mainly because most everyone has access to most everyone else's Bank Account/Wallet -- that is, our amounts change without us even knowing it (e.g. when someone is surprisingly cold towards me, it's as if they just reached in and too my People Pesos!).
  • Sexuality has power. It's like an exchange rate for relationships. A guy can give me one Relationship Dollar but it's worth a buck-fifty to a girl. Or a girl can write a Relational Check for fifty cents but it shows up in my account as one dollar due to this Gender Exchange Rate (pronounced, grr).

So here's one of my theories out of all this: the word 'sexy.'

1) I'm curious if you have found the following to be true (as I have): when it comes to clothing, girls use the word 'sexy' and 'attractive' as, basically, synonyms.

2) For girls, 'sexy' is the summing of the following ideas: drawing attention, pretty, distinctly feminine (i.e. not masculine)
- for guys, 'sexy' means 'leading to sex' and not much else! +++

I think I'm making the words Sexy and Attractive out to be 'bad words.' If you get that sense from this... I'm not sure what to write here! Perhaps a nice dialog in the comments would be good? Perhaps my understanding of these words has been influenced by the less-than-ideal worlds of Restaurant Workers and PickUp Artists?

Please feel free to stream-of-conscious in the comments.

+++ in this way, guys ARE more utilitarian ('functional,' getting things accomplished, etc.) while girls are more relational, but I am a STRONG opponent to the ideas that girls are more relational in all of their lives for I believe I have met many females who are quite utilitarian and many males who are quite relational. But that's not the point of this post, in my opinion.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I'm not very pragmatic (duh)

I'm wondering if I'm ever going to be worthwhile...

I am finishing the free lectures from the history class "Modern Physics: From The Atom to Big Science" taught by Dr. Cathryn Carson @ UC Berkeley. It's the history of physics, basically.

The latest class I listened to was on the history of physics education in the U.S. In particular, research. She noted that from the 1940s (when the U.S. really started offering post-graduate physics) to the 1980s, research (both in the classroom and at G.E., Bell Labs, etc.) was on speculative, futurical ideas. Then it all changed and physicists had to accomplish short-term successes (fix this problem in 18 months or create this new technology in 12 months).

Amazingly, without bemoaning the fact, Dr. Carson stated that the U.S. has been, since it's inception, very pragmatic. While we may think of ourselves as "cutting edge" we are only so when it has immediate benefit. The labs at G.E. and others drastically changed when quarterly stock-value became the deciding mark of a successful product.

Then I was talking to a guy who does sales from a company like Cisco where the product is very complex and it usually takes 12 to 18 months for a sale to complete. What is he supposed to do when the Sales Manager says, "Profits were down last quarter, we need to sell more!"? How can he turn even a 12-month sales-cycle into a profit in 4 months?!?!?

So here's where I fear I'm not going to be worthwhile... I'm strongly inclined to see eventual gain. For example, if Home Depot goes back to treating its customers well (which I believe they are trying to do), I think they will eventually gain back much of the market they lost to Lowes.

If more people meet more Christians who aren't fully-obnoxious about their religion, eventually people will have a new understanding of Christians and, even better, of The Christ.
If more people grow up around more Christians who deeply love God and others, eventually this will become 'the norm.'

At least that's what my eyes see.

So what do I do in a country/culture that is so pragmatic? Do I try to 'sell' what I see to those who are pragmatic? Do I try to give them glasses or binoculars? Do I try to change their pragmatism?!? Do I use metaphors I don't really care for like 'being balanced' (balance of pragmatism and long-term investment)?

Even worse, I sometimes see a win-win in which pragmatic decisions are made based on both short- and long-term goals. Is it possible for someone to see the benefit of both-and when they can't (barely) see 'the other' side?

But what pragmatic person is going to even have a conversation about long-range thinking?

Am I in the wrong part of the sandbox?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Leadership Development can't just be of Leaders

Having had a conversation about how "leadership is developing leaders" with someone, and being tired of the 6.5 billion irrefutable laws of leading and following, and how often I hear individuals speak of being a "leader of leaders" but never interact with these proteges as it pertains to their ACTUAL FOLLOWERS!, I had the following outline of thought.

1. Leadership development is not just developing leaders but giving them opportunities.
a. There is leadership development of skills, character, history, etc.
b. But there is ALSO develop opportunities for them to learn how to lead: by practice, experience

2. Otherwise "leadership development" is just developing individuals, it's not generating anything that needs to be led!
a. That is, self-promoting in that it is circular (cf. old story about the lighthouse that turned into the lighthouse society that was too busy being a society to save sailors anymore)
b. That is, it would never be FOR the followers but just FOR the leaders!

3. Thus, "leadership development" is the development of individuals (leaders) AND expressions of leadership (on behalf of of the followers) or it will ALWAYS be hypothetical (or worse, circular)

Implication: NOT every leader can/should be involved in this scope of Leadership Development. It is, much more so, a very different kind of leadership development that is not for every leader (due to history, genetics, etc.). In fact, a Leadership Coach/Developer might not be much of a leader at all, but might be a masterful coach who also comes up with/finds expressions of leadership.

Example: Leadership Development in the International (actually, Chinese) District of Seattle. Leadership Development should certainly include skills, theory, character, etc. But if they don't actually get out an lead, then we've done nothing but propagate titles.

[Even worse would be that we now call this person a sage and ask him/her to train others who do nothing but train others]
So leadership development would need to also include actually leading. Perhaps:
+ Creating a "clean up the street" program to be led by developing leaders
+ Founding, staffing, helping create curriculum for a "big Brother training center" where developing leaders can run/manage/engage
+ Handing a young leader the topic of:
"self-sustaining food production inside This District"
Paperwork aid for non-English speakers
homeless legal defense

All examples of something that is done for the locals, on behalf of the locals, with the locals, etc.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Why I like Seth Godin - his single lines

It may take reading the whole (albiet, short) post to get meaning from the one line, but it's worth it in the case of this post on perks/expectations. Or maybe he has one lines that are incredible and then fleshes them out.

Either way, the post is worth pondering as it pertains to business AND loving my neighbor (or family member or stranger or the person on the other side of the counter at any given retail outlet).

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Shack author on The Shack

My friend, Mr. J.T. Hardcastle, posted a clip of the author of The Shack talking about the book.

Spoiler Alert: He talks about the reality of the characters / the source of the characters!

But the later part of the interview is quite delightful.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Science is Cool

I forgot emotions are expensive

I'm remembering why I turned my emotions off.

Life feels less in-control.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Subliminal teaching by Contrast effect

Is it possible more is taught (or in this case, caught) by the incongruity between what is asked and what is allowed? when what is stated as important is often dismissed by non-action (therein devaluing what is stated)?

If I, as a leader, state that those I lead should "always be growing/expanding" yet never ask if they are, never measure growth of any kind, maybe only briefly praise examples of growth, never show my growth, and put most of the resources into things other than "growth"...

Have I not taught, asked, lead, something other than what I said? Have I not, perhaps more powerfully than direct request, actually instilled the opposite of what I was intending to impart?!?

I am thinking of this as a dad. I am thinking of this as a boss. I am thinking of this as a leader of a cause. I am thinking of this as The Head Dog. I am concerned.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Backing up Firefox . . . everything!

I'm a big Firefox fan. If you are, too, and would like to backup extensions, passwords, etc. then get Febe. There's even a link to make a single, .xpi that can be used to reinstate/reinstall everything. Sweet.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Silly Scientists, Strings are for kids

I watched a movie of what is touted as "String theory, explained for the normal human." From all I've read, it's a great video!! He clearly states, in easy terms, that what he's espousing is silly. He just didn't seem to notice!

1) Every "extra" dimension is always called a smaller-than-we-can-see dimension. They never describe NEW dimensions, only super-small measurements, beyond what we can currently measure. That's not a new dimension, it's just small. Even his ants video goes against his point.

2) "Ah, but those are just metaphors, the extra dimensions are in the Math!" Only because they were IMPLIED in the Math (see his first point on how a 5th dimension ever entered the conversation). The extra dimensions are implied, then formulas are created, then the extra dimensions are "validated" with "Hey look! Those extra dimensions are required for our extra-dimension equations to work!" Silly.
- Even further, the 5th dimension guy felt that gravity "took" 3-dimensional space so electro-magnetic radiation had to have a whole new dimension. What?!? First, it would require THREE new dimensions since the effect is 3-dimensional. Second, why can't it co-exist with gravity, since the effects of each of them are on the original, 3 dimensions? Weird.

3) It's like N.A.S.A. looking for "life" by looking for "water" on Mars. Why water? If the odds of live being created as it is on Earth are ridiculously large, is it really a good idea to exponentially increase those odds by stating that all life that could ever evolve will always need water?!! If the odds were say, 1 million to 1 that life could evolve the way it did on earth. The odds of life evolving the same way on Mars is now 1 million to 1 million to 1 -- 1 million to the power of 1 million . . . to 1. Silly.

Sting theory, as is constantly being explained in both "layman's terms" and in more "insider" terms always seems to be a theory based on a hypothesis that's rather silly.

So if the "scientific" scientists are silly, and the Christian-ish scientists are silly . . . who's not silly?

Monday, April 14, 2008

I'm tired so I cry

I can tell when my soul is tired these days (since around 2004) because I cry easily. I started to cry this morning as we read of Bartimaeus and I heard "Jesus, son of David!, have mercy on me!"

And again, today I finally read the Stiff's blog entry on a great man, Clyde Cook. Among other things, he was president of OC International for a bit. He died on Mikaela's birthday, that's the hard part for me. Sabina Wurmbrand (incredible wife of the incredible pastor Richard Wurmbrand) died on my birthday, from what I recall. While I don't really care much about my own birthday, it's awkward to have a death (end) and a birth (start) remembered on the same day. I think I feel like Solomon writing Ecclesiastes.

I hate it when the greats die. So few of them exist, their death feels almost like an extinction. Great ones, in this sense, are the ones who go through bad life-experiences that they could not create for themselves and not only "make it" but thrive afterward - even more so, they bring light to the darkness that is trying to crush them. Like the "story of the Philippian jailer." I don't really want to be one of these "greats" - too expensive, hurts too much, too much potential for harm to be done to those I love (physically, emotionally, spiritually). I DO want to be one, but I don't.

This is what I think about when I'm emotionally tired.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

I surrender all

In my journey towards emotional health (or simply having emotions), I hit a wall this morning called "Surrender." I realized that I have spent most of my life assuming that I surrender that which is good, desired, or powerful: my future, my will, my gifts, my family, etc. I have wrestled with God about His Church, my future, and other really good things.

But what about my pain? I have wrestled with surrendering my "loss" that comes from not getting the full expression of my vision for the Church (yikes). I have tried to surrender to the "loss" of not fully expressing all of who I am (self-actualization). But I don't think I've really surrendered those losses that actually take-away from what I have or am. I haven't surrendered "the bad."

As I have written previously, I am finding out a lot in regards to being let-down by God. So now I am realizing that I might come to God for help with my pain, but I won't surrender holding onto my pain. Offenses from the past, wounds from 15 years ago, etc. I hold onto them as if they keep me "humble" or "real" or ...

Somehow, pain never seemed to be something to surrender. As if pain is a good thing to have so I just keep holding it, keep it safe. I can be "healed" and able to move on, but I never thought to surrender the pain, the bad. I don't think I'm espousing denial. I think this would be closer to forgiveness, continually forgiving because the pain is continually aroused.

Surrendering the bad. Weird.

Thanks again, Pat, for having gravity in the emotional realm and thereby altering my spin!

Living in America

In this land of luxury
The greatest threat to Life is me

Monday, March 31, 2008

Culture and Beliefs

Been doing a bit of work on worldviews: how they are formed, how they can be formed. Then had an interesting conversation with my friend Jesse Gable about our time together in the youth group of a church we were at together.

I think this is what I believe: creating a "culture" is more powerful than teaching truths (or policies or priorities or ...) because it both directly and indirectly alters those beliefs (I'll call them "governing beliefs") that affect actions, feelings, and other beliefs. Perhaps these "governing beliefs" are the same thing as one's world-view.

Critically, maybe this is why who I hang-out with or what I immerse myself in is so important (ex. friends, music, 'scene', books, club, church, etc.).

Perhaps this, 'culture', is what all the current business-thinkers are talking about: how do we get an organization to move-forward, to be always growing, etc. because what we've BEEN doing isn't working (management by walking around, management by objective, six-sigma, reorganization / re-engineering, etc.). How do we shrink the gap between the lowest or newest employee and the CEO or the soul of the organization? Seems to me they are usually asking, "How do we create a culture that just . . . causes! . . . what we want in the company?"

As a leader, how deliberate am I about pro-actively creating the desired culture (since I AM creating culture by my very position)?

As a human, what kind of culture(s) am I in? What would I assume they are doing to my worldview? Is it good, bad, neutral? Do I NEED a different culture to live in right now (in order to grow, expand, heal, etc. some aspect of myself)?

How intentional am I being with those aspects of my life that define what I think is "natural"?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"Reclaiming Time" - N.T. Wright

"The reclaiming of time as God’s good gift (as opposed to time as simply a commodity to be spent for one’s own benefit, which often means fresh forms of slavery for others) is not an extra to the church’s mission. It is central." - N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope.

As one who naturally thinks in terms of tools (utility), this . . . hurts. My natural instinct is contrary to the idea of time as a gift, a good gift, a gift not to be taken lightly nor used like a dish-towel.
- Nor am I to re-activate my Time Systems(c), my Day-at-a-Glance(c) account. I need a new perspective. I need to see time as more 'holy' than I have. This is actually a heart/motive issue first; for me, this is a soul-problem.

While not a directly Scriptural command, this thought strikes me as a powerful understanding of how my context (me & my choices in my culture) thwarts my praying, "YOUR will be done on earth as it is done in heaven."

[Thanks to Tara for pointing out this quote]

Friday, March 14, 2008

Great quote on Persistence - too good to pass up

Sorry to simply quote someone else's whole blog-post. But I really like this and it's short.


Persistence isn't using the same tactics over and over. That's just annoying.

Persistence is having the same goal over and over.

Monday, March 10, 2008

My eyes are opened to the opening of my heart

In our small-group last night, I was challenged. Again.

I find the following unkeepable balance:

Pray, especially because God asks (including: "you don't have because you don't ask" & "your faith has made you well")

-- vs. --

God is sovereign (including: "who are you, the clay, to question the potter" & "were you there when I _____ [formed the word, created the Leviathan]" & "even kings are like drops of water in God's hand")

Growing up in a Reformed-informed + contra-charismatic tradition, there was a strong leaning on the Sovereign God side. Then I watched T.V. and saw the "claiming" approach and thought, "Nice - what a bunch of bunk." Local news shows followed-up and "proved" the sham.

Then Pat (the host/husband) said, "When you do that, you withhold part of your heart from God." Huh. Pat is one of those guys who's all-man, but very healthy emotionally nonetheless (grin). So I listened. [Also, I know I'm emotional behind for my age]

He said it's better to claim God's healing, forgiveness, miracle, etc. and then, should God not do what I was asking, give Him my sense of hurt, of loss, of disappointment. I realized I had kept those kinds of things from God.

Then Pat (innocently) pulled the, "It's better to have felt and lost than never felt at all." The best thing about Pat is that there was NO sense that this was a jab - he really wanted me to get this, to experience this.

So to those that follow my journey or one like it, I have once again re-engaged the emotional aspect of my relationship with God. Not that I drop the other: the mystical or the rational. But now I am learning how to add Emotion to my relationship with God (and my wife, and my kids and ...). I honestly thought the steep part of my emotional journey was over. Perhaps I was wrong!

Pat's the coolest.

Postmodern Grammar and Water

For some reason, I read this . . . "wrong." I thought I might need to buy a permit for my car so that it could go swimming in the Car Pool 'located' behind the sign.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

my Trouble isn't about me but God's Reputation

I read Psalm 46 this morning through eyes that have seen God's method-of-operation more than yesterday. I think, then, that the New American Standard captures the heart of this Psalm better than the others. Like this:

God is our refuge & strength, a very present help in trouble. So we don't fear.
- even if the earth reshapes itself! Violently! No fear.


God's city, the place where God's "will be done," that's a calm place. But it's in His timing...
- calm like a river, calm like a gigantic rock - so big as to be a mountain

There IS much shaking and reshaping among humans. Violently! But humans and their uproar are melted by God simply saying so.


The evidence of God's work is everywhere. And it is becoming increasingly blatant. He even violently destroys violence(?!).

To strive, then, is not the action of those seeking victory or release. Victory or release are not for me - they are to show God's greatness. My victory, my release, are for God's reputation, not really my situation.

THIS, then, is why He is called Lord of the Mighty Army of Heaven (Hosts)
THIS, then, is why He is called God of the Promise Without End (of Jacob)
HIS reputation is vastly more important than my Trouble

Is this why His help comes only when "morning dawns" and not when I feel most overwhelmed?

Can I live under a God who sees my trouble with two eyes: one of love for me, but one of proving Himself to be the Great God - the later more powerful than the first?

In Ezekiel 36, God makes it very clear to both Israel and the mountains that God has/will wipe the mountains clean of His people who have harmed His reputation. Then He is going to fill the hills with God-fearing people and amazing produce. And His repeated battle cry is, "Not for your sake, but so everyone will know that I, Yahweh, have done ALL of this.
- yet in the middle of this is one of the most dominant, New Testament themes:

a new heart, the Spirit within you

It was this, the coming of the Spirit, that caused Peter & John and the rest to giggle when beaten, to sing when imprisoned, to have what N.T. Wright calls "an almost care-free joy." It is that "something" that I read in the book of Acts yet don't sense in the Church today. It is that "something" that rewrites my trouble by putting into the hands of God. But God doesn't have only me in mind, He also has is own reputation ("glory").

I find myself asking, Can I handle a God like this? Can I, in the height of my pain, be okay with a God who is more interested in using the situation for His reputation more than He's interested in fixing my problem(s)?

Or, as it now sounds to me having read this, Am I okay with a God who is more about Himself than about Me?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Can't figure out what to do with this

Faith Popcorn's BrainReserve [that HAS to be the weirdest/fakest-sounding legitimate company name] wrote the following:

"Enforcer Brands vs Enlightened Brands" (Feb 11, 2007 - 9:42:00 PM)
which basically states that we are seeing this interesting "battle" between Enforcer & Enlightened brands.
Perfect example:

Viacom going after all the peer-to-peer folks (e.g. Napster), suing like crazy

-- VS. --

Apple (e.g. iTunes store), selling songs using a peer-to-peer feel

Viacom = The Enforcer (boo!) Apple comes along like the Enlightened Savior (yeah!) by simply giving people what they wanted all along at a (seemingly) reasonable price. How . . . enlightened. [Funny side-note, now Amazon is taking on Apple's Enforcer tactics! It's like watching ages happen in the matter of years!]

So I'm thinking this has a great 'lesson' in it for Sunday School teachers, maybe even all pastors. But I don't know if I like the obvious parallel (hands-off, just appeal by being less-direct).

So, sincerely, what is it that this thought from Faith (I can't even type that without giggling!) helps uncover about the Faith Community (puns are funs)?

Dark Days at Hand

For hundreds of years, the People of God (Israel) longed for release from the oppressive cloud that engulfed their lives: personally and as a whole people.

O! Come Immanuel!! Please, our God, send the Messiah NOW!
Can you not hear us? Can you not see?
Why do your children SUFFER -
Why is mourning our breath, and bleeding our bread?

One can hope to imagine what it must have been like to see the first fingers of light at the dawn of The Anointed One. The angel statements/choir. The prophecies fulfilled. The culmination of the genealogy of Abraham, the fulfillment of David's throne.

Then HE came . . . the Spirit of the Almighty, Living God Himself! Not only did He come, He made His very home here - among His people. Nay, IN His people!

What could be more incredible than, in one generation, to have the centuries of oppression lifted and the people of God became God-dwelt! The beginning of the very end of the story. The very point of the saga. And to have God never be far again, but more near than near - inside.

Yet we, His people, have placed ourselves under the oppression that destroyed millions by dethroning the King and asked His Spirit to sit by, quietly, as we live in oppositeness, right in front of Him. How can we choose to want His reign to end?

Is this why the "heavenly hosts" roared? Is this what brought stargazers from so far to see? Is this what 800 years of prophecy were pointing toward? Was the point of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus to simply give us another brand-name we can pick off the shelf, a better market of options? Such dark, dark irony.

How did Christmas become about me? Not the People of God, not the Promises of God, not the Presence of God Himself! Much less the Rule of The King.

[yet He continues as the Right Lord of all who crown Him, a creator of The Kingdom for all who make Him King.]

Monday, February 11, 2008

Going back to college

Ever wish you could take only the courses you WANT to take in school? Goto and watch/listen to a ton of classes (goes back to Fall 2001).

This is not every class U.C. Berkeley has to offer, but there's quite a bit. They are podcast-able (RSS). Some courses are available on Video as well. All have podcast mp3's and download able mp3's. Class outlines/coursework is usually posted as well, if you want to pretend to DO the class.

Just so you know. It's almost like going to school for free, taking the classes you want, and having no homework (unless you want).

Friday, February 08, 2008

Cultural Irony in the U.S.

We want the perfect, the best, the ultimate.

We want bigger and better.


Aren't those mutually exclusive after a while?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

24 Hours of Bad News + Lent

Went to a Lent / Ash Wednesday service yesterday (thanks to the exceptionally kind pastors at Calvary Lutheran Church) and even got my ash-cross on my forehead (see Tara's blog). During the service, there is a lot about confession / sin and then a lot about the poor, the outcast, the less-than. The Lenten prayers are often, then, about confession (Ps. 51) and for the less-than.

What struck me in the confession sections is this: there seems to be a thread in the Scriptures that God is made great ("glorified") by His actions towards/on us that are then seen by "the world" (be that locals, internationals, angels, etc.). In the traditional passages of Lent, this glorifying is done by His forgiving of sins.

I know there is an accidental trend in Western and/or Evangelical thinking that puts the word "forgiveness" all-but solely on the Cross. There is 1 John 1:9 and the like, but we end up doing this:

Past = Forgiveness
Now = Fixing (sanctification, doing the right thing, being good, "growing", etc.)

Irony: we are asking people to accept God's forgiveness but we can't seem to show it to them because we are too busy with God's fixing(up) our lives. Are we hiding God's forgiveness?
Thought: Are we accidentally telling people that forgiveness is good, but God is really interested in the long-haul of changing actions (and maybe character)?

During the service, I couldn't help but think of our brothers and sisters in Kenya right now. Especially when we prayed for those "dying, and those expecting [the death of a loved one]."
Now, over the last 24 hours, I have not had a conversation that doesn't involve someone's significant physical, emotional, relational, and/or spiritual pain & suffering.

My emotional tank is draining quickly. These are some unique and dark days for me. Yet my hope is in Yahweh. More than ever for I have never been so keenly aware of how much I long to wrestle control from His hands and do the good-work myself. My never-ending tendency to play the Spirit in people's lives, in the world.

Somehow, keeping that as equally prominent "on the table" as the issues at hand has let me rest in the solidity of Jesus while feeling the tempest around me and the unpredictability of God's methods.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Wineskins, paradigms, metaphors

"Meta" is a fun prefix to me; it just makes everything Bigger! Mikaela's teacher actually has a section called "meta-cognition" on her report card (that means "thinking about what/how you think").

There is a bizarre combination of sociology and postmodern philosophy (majoring on deconstruction) that sprung-up a while ago called "Cultural Studies"++ that has me thinking about currently used Metaphors but through a different Paradigm (sounds pretty snazzy, eh!).

I was conversing with Tara about the metaphors we have used, quite subconsciously I think, to understand ourselves as a society/nation. It seems that Leader/Follower is quite dominant. This is, by now, clearly seen in the Church and in Business (generally).

tying this together...
One of the three threads that Cultural Studies has identified as "that which creates one's world-view" is Discourse.
** Where my mind wandering into was this: How has "Leader/Follower as dominant paradigm" affected Discourse?

Thought 1: Lately, it has made Discourse the most-used thread of influence. I suspect this comes from how Leaders & Followers are often physically distant from each other (ex. distance from CEO to store-clerk, Federal Government to constituents, principal to students, working parent to young child). This, then, diminishes the other two threads: Relationships and Animation (activities, habits, practices). Does this help (partly)explain all talk and no Love / no Action, respectively?

Thought 2: Discourse-by-Oration has taken a beating making way for Story and Decentralization, as of late (in my opinion). Does this have ramifications for the Sunday Morning Sermon?

Thought 3: What opportunities might this turbulence* create? What other disruptions might this cause?

Thought 4: What are the long-term effects of such a pendulum-swing away from Oration? [More than once I have heard the "death" of oration. Ironically, I have heard this in an oratory format!]

++ the link is a pretty lame introduction, but the best I've found so far

* [by "turbulence" I mean the move away from a given method (oration) of living-out our most foundational metaphor (leader/follower) plus the renewed interest by the less-powerful (followers) in the other 2 branches of living life (relationships & animations)]

** I am most grateful to James Watson of Outreach Canada for elaborating on the work of Ryan Bolger as he (Ryan) synthesized Cultural Studies unto usefulness!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Myself as idol

Serious question - if you read this, please chime in (even if you feel as lost as I):

How can it be that the Holy Spirit produces SELF-control? Once I am SELF-controlling, am I not out from under His control? Doesn't being out from under His control imply He is no longer producing?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

More implications of a Faith-based God

I wrote about this previously, but am finding it almost all-consuming anymore so I have more thoughts (duh).

A quick perusal of the Gospels finds that Jesus often "waits" for someone's faith: "Your faith has made you well" "He didn't do many miracles there because of their lack of faith" etc.

So what if God's "agenda," His "work in this world" IS my faith. Then God's Plan, His Action, His Will is my faith, my submission. I have often found it awkward how God (as usually seen in Jesus in the Gospels) lets His plan get altered. The when and why often seem much less significant than what is being stopped (ex. Jonah: one guy's submission vs. a major city-state's repentance).

This seems to have some serious ramifications as to:

  • Truth: the reason for Truth, the use of Truth
  • God's love of that _____ (lost, poor, sheep, etc.)
  • God's "activity in this world"
  • Wisdom and/or advice in the Community/Body
  • How we measure God's activity, others' activities
  • Role of the Holy Spirit personally, in a local Body, globally
  • "What is God's will for my life?"
  • "What is God's will for Life?"
Does this imply that anything other than my faith is less than faith?
  • When I work on different aspects of my "walk with God" (that's code for, "mainly my morality, especially the parts that can be seen and/or measured so I can feel good about myself - maybe even come to trust myself to be Right"), should I always start with finding the faith parts?
  • If I focused on faith first, would this life (or my "walk") look different? be done differently?
I fear I have no idea. I have trusted myself far too long. I have trusted that Obey is equal (better?) than Faith only to find that this is not God's way?

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