Thursday, November 22, 2012

black Friday

Allan Bevere writes about Black Friday:
Black Friday and the entire Christmas shopping season is one more instance that reminds us of the deep problem in American culture in which we are unable to separate our wants from our needs. The reason for such inability results from the loss of life centered on the divine. When that center is lost we rush to meet our needs with every imaginable want, and we seek to make others happy by giving them what they want. ~Allan R. Bevere
And so tomorrow many in the USA and unfortunately, now, many in Canada will go nuts buying stuff and more stuff, hoping to make themselves and someone else happy. 

And the meaning of Christmas gets lost in the chaos of rushing around, shopping, spending, going into increasing debt, making exhausting meal / decoration / family preparations, and on and on and on.

spiritual formation

Robert Mulholland Jr. wrote a great little book in 1993,entitled, Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation. In it, he writes about spiritual formation, which he defines as:
The process of
being conformed
to the image of Christ
for the sake of others.

Here's an excerpt:
I do not know what your perception of Christian discipleship might be, but much contemporary Christian spirituality tends to view the spiritual life as a static possession rather than a dynamic and ever-developing growth toward wholeness in the image of Christ. When spirituality is viewed as a static possession, the way to spiritual wholeness is seen as the acquisition of information and techniques that enable us to gain possession of the desired state of spirituality. Discipleship is perceived as "my" spiritual life and tend be defined by actions that ensure its possession. Thus the endless quest for techniques, methods, programs by which we hope to "achieve" spiritual fulfillment. The hidden premise behind all of this is the unquestioned assumption that we alone are in control of our spirituality. In brief, we assume we are in control of our relationship with God.
When spirituality is viewed as a journey, however, the way to spiritual wholeness is seen to lie in an increasingly faith response to the One whose purpose shapes our path, whose grace redeems our detours, whose power liberates us from crippling bondages of the prior journey and who transforming presence meets us at each turn in the road. In other words, wholistic spirituality is a pilgrimage of deepening responsiveness to God's control of our life and being.
Some thoughts well worth reflecting on. 

Monday, November 19, 2012


"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.2 Corinthians 5:17-19
If this is true, and if you are a Christian, you believe this is foundational:
  • you are a new creation in Jesus;
  • you are reconciled to God;
  • & you are given a ministry of reconciliation.

If this true, then notice that at the heart of the message & ministry of reconciliation - people's sins are not counted against them.

Yes, repentance is part of what God leads us into, but I wonder if real repentance happens (better, more, deeper) when people know (become aware of and experience) how much the Father loves them. 

book review: Emergence Christianity

title: Emergence Christianity: What It Is, Where It Is Going, and Why It Matters
author: Phyllis Tickle
date: 2012
publisher: Baker Books

Phyllis Tickle has written her fourth book on the emergent church. In her most recent book, “Emergence Christianity”, she takes a sympathetic look at the non-movement movement, doing an excellent job of reviewing and distilling in some 200 pages where things have been, where they are, and where they might go.

Tickle suggests that we are living in the age of "The Great Emergence" across the world, where major changes are shaping not only culture but giving birth to "emergence Christianity."

Quite a bold claim, especially for one living in the middle of it! And this book seeks to describe how some Christians are adapting to it.

She argues that the current cultural and religious transformation “is an across-the-board and still-accelerating shift in every single part and parcel of our lives as members in good standing of twenty-first-century Western or westernized civilization.” Tickle draws together strands as different as the Azusa Street revival, the Greenbelt music festival, the growth of house churches, and the birth of the Emergent Village Web site/community to chart the phenomena that have made the changeing of the guard possible. In this complex and changeable context she includes groups like the “Hyphenateds” (those still affiliated with traditional Christian denominations), Emerging and Emergent communities, Neo-Monastics, and others. 

If you agree with her perspectice, you will appreciate and enjoy the book immensely. If you don't agree with her observations and are interested in the direction of church history, you will find this a worthwhile read. 

Tickle, suggests that Emergence Christianity is not in decline, but in a stage of reconfiguration or maturation. One of the strengths of Tickles book is she places the Emergent/Emergent debate within the broader flow of world history and not simply American Christianity.

Tickle summarizes Emergence Christianity in seven points (pp. 164-66):
1. Radically obeying the words and teachings of Christ.
2. Insisting there is only one story in the Bible, not two.
3. Being willingly susceptible to the power of story (as opposed to propositional truth).
4. Viewing theology as an ongoing conversation that is a means rather than an end.
5. Always opting for grace over morality.
6. Believing orthopraxy (right actions) always trumps orthodoxy (right beliefs)
7. Holding the church as part of the Kingdom of God and its citizens rather than an institution.

At the end of her book, Tickle walks through a number of challenges facing the Emergence movement These include the power struggles within Emergence communities who want to claim there are no power struggles; how do you belong in a generation that resists belonging; formative religious education for children and youth in an adult-oriented community, and the most basic question of all: where is the locus of authority in this new type of Christianity?

This book was provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications and BakerBooks in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, November 16, 2012


Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Community, of Daytona Beach, FL, has this posted in their church building:
We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich, dirt poor, yo no habla Ingles. 
We extend a special welcome to those who are crying new-borns, skinny as a rail or could afford to lose a few pounds.
We welcome you if you can sing like Andrea Bocelli or like our pastor who can’t carry a note in a bucket. You’re welcome here if you’re “just browsing,” just woke up or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you’re more Catholic than the Pope, or haven’t been in church since little Joey’s Baptism.
We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome soccer moms, NASCAR dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems or you’re down in the dumps or if you don’t like “organized religion,” we’ve been there too.
If you blew all your offering money at the dog track, you’re welcome here. We offer a special welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church.
We welcome those who are inked, pierced or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid or got lost in traffic and wound up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers and doubters, bleeding hearts… and you!
Sounds like something Jesus would say

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

why did the chicken cross the road

Now that the USA election is over, let's get down to a real important issue - the theological basis for "Why did the chicken cross the road?"

  • Greg Boyd: It’s a possibility that the chicken crossed the road.
  • TD Jakes: A manifestation of the Chicken crossed the road for his blessings.
  • Rick Warren: The chicken was purpose driven.
  • Mark Driscoll: The chicken crossed because of the rooster’s leadership.
  • Joel Osteen: The chicken crossed the road to maximize his personal fulfillment so that he could be all that God created him to be.
  • Creflo Dollar: God told the chicken that if he clucked, “That land across the road is mine!,” he could claim it. He crossed the road to take possession.
  • Pelagius: Because the chicken was able to.
  • John Piper: God decreed the event to maximize his glory.
  • Billy Graham: The chicken was surrendering all.
  • Pluralist: The chicken took one of many equally valid roads.
  • Chris Rosebrough: It was a pirate chicken!
  • Steven Furtick: You can’t tell chicken to stand still. They are spontaneous!
  • Universalist: All chickens cross the road.
  • Annihilationist: The chicken was hit by a car and ceased to exist.
  • Fred Phelps: God hates chickens!
  • Martin Luther: The chicken was leaving Rome.
  • Tim LaHaye: The chicken didn’t want to be left behind.
  • Harold Camping: Don’t count your chickens until they’ve hatched.
  • James White: I reject chicken centered eisegesis.
  • John Wesley: The chicken’s heart was strangely warmed.
  • Thomas: I won’t believe the chicken crossed unless I see it with my own eyes.
  • Philip: The chicken teleported to the other side.
  • Rob Bell: The chicken. Crossed the road. To get. Cool glasses.
  • Rob Bell: Because Love Wins!
  • Roger Olson: The chicken recognizes no clear evangelical boundaries.
  • Peter: What chicken? What road? Never knew a chicken!! (rooster crows)
  • Ezekiel: God revived those chicken bones and then they crossed the road.
  • Paul: The chicken went to sleep and fell out the window only to be able to cross the road.
  • Mark Driscoll: A “bleeping” chicken crossed the road to go get a beer.
  • Jim Wallis: The poor chicken was fleeing fundamentalists.
  • Gary Demar: The chicken was fleeing the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. That’s it.
  • Jim Wallis: The chicken is an organizer for Occupy Barnyard.
  • Emergent: For this chicken, its not the destination that’s important. Its the journey itself.
  • Christian Pacifist: This is clearly an act of barnyard aggression that is condemned in the Sermon on the Mount.
  • N.T. Wright: This act of the chicken, which would be unthinkable in British barnyards, reeks of that American individualism that is destructive to community.
  • Al Mohler: When a chicken begins to think theologically, he has no other alternative but to come over to the Calvinist side.
  • Bill Gaither: The chicken obviously saw something beautiful, something good, on the other side of the road.
  • Freud: This whole exercise is obviously driven by chicken envy
I take no responsibility for any readers deficit in humour. via rick ianniello