Tuesday, November 30, 2004

God Gives a Good Day

After the difficulties yesterday, God decided to gie me something I could handle; a chance to witness. I am bi-vocational, and I occasionally have a chance to witness to my co-workers. Recently I have been able to give out a couple of Bibles, and you always hold on to the promise that the Word of God will not return void when you do that. At least I do.

Well today, one of those people asked me point blank: Am I going to Hell because I am not baptized?

I answered in a way that I don't think my evangelism profs would have appreciated. I said "No. And yes."

When I was quizzed about that, I replied, "From what I know of you, yes you are going to Hell, but not for that reason."

(I suppose I should interject at this point that I have a mouth that tends to shoot first and ask questions later. Given the preceeding, it is probably unnecessary. Those who might have been wondering should consider their suspicions on that front confirmed.)

Anyway, the beauty of having relationships built up over time is that I can get away with that kind of statement. Far from being offended, my co-worker was inspired (if not outraged) to ask more questions. In the end I was able to give a full presentation of the gospel, and within hearing of all my co-workers. The one who started the whole thing I think will come to the Church's Christmas outreach banquet. Maybe even to Alpha. Who knows? I do know that my co-worker is searching and open, and has no heard the gospel.

Whatever happens I feel overjoyed at the chance to present God openly after a year of trying to represent him primarily through actions. Its nice to know that I have earned the right to preach Christ having tried my best to live like Him in my place of employment.

I am going to have to think about this more... I'll get back to you with any insights that may occur. If you have any, drop me a line.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Reality Bites

Sometyimes it really does. Reality dictates that we have only limited resources to help people. We have people who are limited in their ability to receive help. We are not limited in thenumber of people we can help. The needs themselves seem limitless, unending.

Jesus said: "the poor you will always have with you." The truth of that really strikes me today. Having to weigh needs feels too much like having to weigh people sometimes. Trying to have a rationale for acting or not acting feels too much like raionalising away people. I know I am making sense; it is simply impossible, if not irrresponsible, to try to meet every need. But I can't help but feel like I am being heartless.

It is such a responsibility. It is a privilege, but it is not without its cost. My very own heart of love and desire to help others cuts me because I cannot do all I would want. And my reponsibility, my corner of the Lord's vineyard, is very very small in the scheme of things.
I cannnot for the life of me imagine why ayone would want to even contemplate being responsible for the whole of it, even having God's resources. I lack the wisdom to handle what I have; I cannot begin to consider having more.

Lord, help us.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

A Bad (if Pious) Poem

Many are the leaches
Sucking marrow from life,
The hope from dreams,
the light from the guiding star.

There is too much that teaches
the steely keenness of the knife,
the logical implausibility of dreams,
that we'll ever only be what we are.

The god of this age is dark,
and he makes his minions' lives stark.
He makes life a matter of unrelenting pain.
It is a struggle simply to stay sane.

Where can be found a saviour,
who can save us from our sad behaviour?
We need an atoning sacrifice, propitiation,
to salvage for us our sorry situation.

There is too little that reminds us,
of the God who loves us as He finds us,
of the Lord who lovingly designs us,
who shapes us for the life He assigns us.

In truth there is only One,
who is called God the Son.
From His love we need never run,
Shown the work that He has done.

There is only One who loves us right,
And we are so precious in His sight.
He takes us from darkness into His light,
Let Him take you and hold you tight.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

A polite nod to our American Neighbours

who seem to have gotten it all wrong about when Thanksgiving actually is.

If we Canadians only spoke of thanksgiving on our holday, Americans would never get a chance to see a Canadian perspective on the issue.

Some American Christians are fixated on how the Act that instituted Thanksgiving makes it a religious holiday. This, to me, is a nice bit of historical trivia, but not very usefu in any kind of public or political discourse about the role of God in society. The judges in both North American countries have pretty well abandoned the notion that the ideas and ideals of the framers of constitutions have any bearing on how those documents should be applied now. That being the case, the historic roots of Thanksgiving, while they may be true, are for all practical purposes irrelevant.

Other American Christians focus on simply the notion of being thankful. Have an attitude of gratitude. That's sweet. Too sweet. It pretty well amounts to a kind of view of life that has more to do with prozac than it does any real recognition of what being thankful really means.

What does it mean? Well it doesn't just mean being thankful for things. Any one and everyone can be thankful for anything and everything. But being thankful is really about being thankful to someone. God. The LORD.

Thanksgiving is really a recognition of God's providence, how He provides for us. We tend to make it more about how we have a lot of stuff. We celebrate the gifts and all but ingore the giver. Maybe we need to focus a bit more on the Lord's Prayer for Thanksgiving. That prayer asks God for His providence, to give us the bread that we need for the day, but before that there is a reminder that God stands in a particular relationship to us (He is our Heavenly Father), and that His Name is to be exalted.

I don't think we can really be thankful for God's providence if we fail to keep those two things in mind.

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

About being human.

I have been studying Hebrews the last week, and I am in that part of the letter that deals heavily with Jesus' humanity.

One of the things that the author of Hebrews (my money is on Apollos for those who care about such technical things as identifying the author of what is in any event an anonymous letter) stresses is that Jesus is not just ttruly human, but a true human. Its like (if you'll pardon me a moment of platonic philosophical reflection) Jesus is the archetypal human being, the ideal human. The implications of that are kind of neat.

I think it means that we are not, as of right now, truly human. We are lacking something. Or maybe more correctly we have something we shouldn't if we want to be true humans. We have not only fallen short of the glory of God then, but we have also fallen short of being human. We have fallen, through that Fall, away from humanness as well as godliness.

It also means that as much as Jesus reveals the Father to us, he also reveals, in some sense, Adam (in his pre-fall state) to us. As we see Jesus act and react as a human being, we know how we are to act and react as human beings.

Maybe that isn't a revelation for some folks, but I think the angle I am approaching it from is a bit different. Most people would easily affirm that Jesus came to teach us how to live as people, but its almost like we think of that in terms of Jesus' deity only. We look at Jesus and see God teaching us how to be human. But ought we not to also see the man Jesus Christ also teaching us how to be human? I am not trying to deny that Jesus is God, but this seems to be one fo those areas where we just ignore the human aspect of Jesus a bit.

Maybe what I am trying to say is that Jesus teaches how to be godly people as people, not as God made flesh (though he is). I think the author of Hebrews has that in mind when he refers to Jesus being able to relate to our sufferings.

In fact, as much as the author of Hebrews has an exalted view of Jesus, I think he spends at least as much time on Jesus' humanity. I think its beause he thinks there is practical for our daily lives significance to both aspects of Jesus' being.

How? Well, I don't want to say too much. I am supposed to be preaching a series out of Hebrews in the new year; I don't want to give it all away.

Hey if you're interested, check out the church:


Just so ya know I am not the guy in the picture. I have ( a bit) more hair.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

What's Love Got To Do With It? Plenty!

How much of a person's life is consumed by love? We soend our early lives being bathed in it (hopefully) by our parents and fmailies. We spend our pre-teen years trying to figure out what it is. Our teen years are spent pursuing love obssessively, often confusing it with sex. As adults we wonder what happened to it.

As seniors? I am not sure yet. I am not there yet!

I guess it really makes sense that so much of literature, art, music, etc. is focussed on the topic. It really seems to be part of the human condition to consider love in as many ways as possible.

So what kind of love is the most powerful when it comes to motivation? I am not sure. I think it depends on the person, what your personality responds to. Me, I think the kind of love that motivates me is the one I don't have. Unrequited love gets to me. Of course that same love, when returned, is also very powerful, but for some reason the "Spock Rule" applies. Maybe its human nature, but it seems that having is not so pleasing a thing as wanting. It is not logical but it is often true.

Maybe I should go around asking others about what kind of lvoe gets them going. Maybe.

Oh, before I go, I thought I'd give a flashback. I was listening to the radio this morning and was reminded of the classic WKRP episode where Mr. Carlson drops dozens of turkeys on Cincinnati.

The classic line: "As God is my witness... I thought turkeys could fly!"

Or something like that.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Zero Sum Theology

I've been thinking about how many issues in life are really zero sum matters. That is, if you add to one thing you necessarily take away from another.

The main example that I've been considering is theat of independence. Many folks like to think that independence is a good thing; but as my senior pastor noted, the dark side of independence is loneliness. He didn't say so, but I think the reason is that relationships are essentially zero sum; they are a mixture of autonomy or independence and connectedness or intimacy. To the extent that you are independent or autonomous, you are not connected or intimate. RTo put it another way, to the extent that you claim to have independence i a relationship, to that same extent you actually don't have a relationship.

People seem to thrive on the idea of beinf independenc, but that jsut means the are disconnected from other people, out of relationship. Think about it; the ultimate in indpendence is hermitage. Can you imagine really wanting to live that way? I can't.

I think the reason why people speak of independence so highly is that it is luxury. In our affluent society we can accomplish so much without other people that we can tout independence as a virtue. Back it he day (whenever that was) when we really needed each other to accomplish anythig important ( like survival) I don't think anyone really talked about the virtue opf independence. They probably talked more about the value of community, of interdependence, of relationship.

I don't have a shred of real evidence to back this thinking up really, no sociological reports or studies. It just makes sense to me. Of course, to the extent that it does make sense to me the converse doesn't.

Sense too is zero sum. Go figure.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

And so it begins.

I am one of those people wo says "I can't believe they say all that stuff in public!" I mean, what makes poeple share some stuff over the web eh? I don't get it.

That said, I have come to the conclusion that there is courage and merit in being willing to share. The question of course is just what you want to share. Could it be that I might create a blog that will accomplish something constructive by sharing? After much consideration, the answer is "probably not." But I figure, why not give it a shot anyway? The web exists for any oddball out there to say whatever they want. I, of course, am not just any oddball; I am THE Oddball Pastor!

So what will I share here? Well, I'll post some theological reflections ( I am utterly pathological about that, so better I guess to save some of them - you never know some of it might be profound or even useful), some thoughts on miscellaneous issues of great importance (that means sports), offer a few book reviews (on theology of course), and even the odd poem.

Will anyone ever read this stuff? Maybe, maybe not. God does work in wild and wonderful ways though. I look forward to finding out what if anything God has in store for this little venture.