Friday, August 08, 2003

No pontification yet, but here’s a quote to chew on:

“We don’t engage in adversarial relationships with non-Christians. Why should we espouse adversarial relationships with non-Christian religions?”

A is for Abductive, pg. 159

see What I’m Reading for details on the book

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

I decided to take a break from my pontifications today and share a smattering of the links in my “fun stuff” category:

Teletubbies—yes, I actually watch it, and yes, I understand what they are saying. Scary isn’t it?
Anne Geddes—her pictures awe me and crack me up. Amazing what some patience can produce?
CIA World Factbook—a definite info-nerd website. What can I say, I work with statistics—love that data.
Hampsterdance—What can I say… it just cracks me up.
Babylon 5—I loved/love this show… reruns, no problem. They had the fairest representation of religious culture of any Sci-Fi.
TriNet Shake Maps—I live in California. Earthquakes happen. I go here when I’m curious or when I’m paranoid or both.
Name That Candy Bar—found it one day; kept it… kinda cool. One of my favorites is second row from the top, third from the left (at least on my screen--it's the Rolos, ok!).
LA Underground—pics of some stuff they found during the extraordinarily long construction of the MTA Redline.
National Geographic Map Machine—nifty and just plain fun.
Salvador Dali Museum—yes, I do have issues with a certain obsession of his, but some of his paintings are just plain cool.
American Egg Board—I find it funny that eggs have their own website, complete with theme song.
and finally Library of American Broadcasting Soundbites—an amazing collection of radio advertisements, etc.

I may return to pontification tomorrow… we’ll see…

Tuesday, August 05, 2003


“I've never been to a Baptist church, and communion was done in a way I'd never seen before. The ushers passed out to the seated congregants pieces of bread, then the minister and deacon gave the bread to the ushers, and two ushers gave bread to the minister and the deacon. The minister led us in the Lord's Prayer, and then said, "Now, let us eat together." Then the ushers passed out tiny glasses of wine, the deacon said a prayer, and the minister said, "Now, let us drink together." To me, this made the sacrament particularly communal and blessed.” Read the whole report.

I happen to be an American Baptist kid of American Baptist parents and American Baptist grandparents, and have always had ‘wine’ passed out in tiny glasses during communion, but I never thought of it as “particularly communal and blessed.” Interesting the things you learn about your own culture when you see it through someone else’s eyes.


Here’s some bullet points:
- Christianity is necessarily communal.
- Knowing God is intellectual, emotional, volitional, and relational.
- Healthy spirituality involves relationship with a few spiritual friends, with a small group of Christ-followers (around 12), and with the larger corporate body. When someone lacks in any one area, they really are lacking something. God can use them, but they should strive to fill the lack.
- Direction and movement are more important than supposed arrival. Heaven is the only arrival. Everything else is journey.
- Involvement in ministry is part of who we are, but involvement in any one ministry is a privilege, not a right.
- Those in any sort of ministry must meet high standards. God requires much of teachers; so should we.
- God may call individuals as prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers, but these individuals are gifts to the community—the church.
- New Testament elders and deacons are always a plurality. Ministry should be done by a plurality—by a community—not by the Lone Ranger.
- Given the necessity of communal ministry, any one insisting on solo ministry should be confronted and corrected, and finally removed if they do not repent.
- Given the necessity of communal ministry, systems should be put in place to foster community among the ministers. Some examples: Have a quarterly worship-fellowship event for EVERYONE involved in the teaching ministry. Have a quarterly music-fellowship festival for EVERYONE involved in the music ministry.
- Such quarterly events should be an expected part of each ministry. Those who refuse to participate should not be allowed to minister. No one should be grandfathered into the system.

I realize that all of these ideas are seminarian “life in the greenhouse” notions, but I truly believe that they are the direction and the movement that the church must go to be healthy—to be what it is (the people of God, the household of faith, the flock of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the Body of Christ, etc.), rather than being something it is not (a club, an entertainment venue, etc.).

There will, of course, be resistance, but frankly put, we MUST be more concerned with pleasing God than with pleasing other humans.

Monday, August 04, 2003


On the Way
Martin Luther
Life does not consist in piety, but in striving to become devout; not in health, but in becoming healthy—as a whole, not in being, but in becoming. Not passivity, but practice. We have still not arrived, but we shall. It is still not done; it has not happened; yet it has been conceived. It has not yet shone upon all, but it has stirred all. We are not yet at home, but we are on the way.


A passionate discussion with a fellow minister concerning whether people who serve in ministries should be required/encouraged to participate in peer group ministries at the church brought a question to mind: Since we are called to a community of believers, how do we go about being that in the local church and its associated ministries? Should participation in corporate life and in a small group be required for service? I believe the answer is yes. Despite what the American individualism teaches us, being Christian is necessarily being in community. One has no choice. The Sovereign Holy Spirit baptizes believers into the body of Christ, and there they are. The only choice left is will you be who you are or will you be someone else? You are now part of the people of God. You were cut off from the people of God. So, being in community, being an integral part of a fellowship of Christ-followers, is part of what it means to be Christian—part of what it means to be church.

When new students come from a different ministry culture—one where most of the ministry work is done by adult leaders (this is probably normal in HS ministry)—they experience a bit of culture shock when they arrive in YAM. I guess my question is, Is it a good thing that adult leaders do most of the ministry in youth groups? An honest reading of scripture tells me that members of the faith community are ministers. So the question comes up again, though in a different form: Are we allowing students to be who they are or are we encouraging them to be someone else? Will we allow students to be the ministers they are? Or will they be what they are not--ministry-takers? That is the choice.

Spiritual Discussion Groups. This is another outgrowth of that passionate conversation. I had to ask myself, Which is more important? That the students come to MY small group or that they belong to a group that is small enough for spiritual honesty? The answer is obvious: It is more important that they be connected to a group of fellow believers where they can be spiritually honest and grow more like Jesus. Thus the birth of SDGs. It is still in the early stages, but the dream is this. So called ‘adult leaders’ lead SDGs for the SDG leaders. All the student SDGs are then led by these students. The only requirement is that the SDG be a place where spiritual discussion occurs and where following Jesus is the goal. The only thing left is seeing if it will fly. I know it is a good idea.

So, I wake up this morning—late because I’m still exhausted from that 36 hour writing stint—and what do I find? A trail of really tiny black ants marching down the second level stairs and making a beeline to the cat’s food dish. The cat—August—is frantic, pacing, and vigorously meowing his desperation, and, frankly, fear. Yes, I think my cat is afraid of ants. So, my already late morning is now interrupted by the every popular ‘ant removal procedure’. Oh, yippee! The freaky thing is, they were coming out of the stairs—the ones leading to the third floor. This means—joy of joys—that our whole house is now an anthill. The joy of it all!!