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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Scenic Puget Sound

On our way home from Pt. Defiance, we took Highway 16 north to Bremerton and rode the ferry back to Seattle. Being a beautiful, sunny day provided yet another opportunity to photograph the mountains, waterways, and skyline of Western Washington.

If you’re curious why the Space Needle has an orange top, it was painted gold (looked orange to us) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Seattle World’s Fair, at which the Space Needle and Monorail premiered.

 

Missional is more than a buzz word

With so many people claiming to be born-again believers or followers of Jesus Christ, why does their faith have so little impact in the public square? That question is raised periodically in religious research. Part of the answer lies in the privatization and compartmentalization of faith. We’re told that faith is a personal matter and is to be kept private. In addition, many keep the parts of their lives compact and separate from the other parts. Thus, one has a church life, a work life, a home life, a recreation life, and one segment never intersects with the others.

If Christ followers want to make a difference in the world, this practice needs to change. That is the argument presented by Reggie McNeal in one of the closing chapters of his latest book, Missional Communities: The Rise of the Post-Congregational Church.

We must make two changes in order to live missionally. We can no longer tolerate the compartmentalization of our life or the individualization of our faith. A life of radical obedience will require a repudiation of both old ways of living. A missional life is one in which our lives are integrated into one coherent whole rather than segmented into disconnected, separated parts. We bring all our energies, passions, and resources to the pursuit of the kingdom of God. Life on mission will take place where we spend most of our waking hours—our homes, our workplaces. Understanding this will allow us to uncompartmentalize our approaches to spiritual development, positioning us to listen for and look for God in our everyday lives and everyday places. But we must also realize that we are not on this mission alone. This journey is not intended to be a private one. Connecting with the body of Christ is the only way we can function in the way God intended us to live.

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2012 in Books, Church, Ministry, Personal growth

 

Pt. Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Needing to be out of the house for another day of showings and open houses, we ventured to the Pt. Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma. Amanda, in town for the weekend, joined us on our excursion.

 
 

Watching the hometown 9

Last night, Carol, Amanda, and I took in a Mariners’ game. As it turned out, the game was a microcosm of the season thus far:

  • Good starting pitching – King Felix had 12 strikeouts in an 8-inning shutout. Unfortunately, the game is nine innings.
  • No offense – M’s managed to score one run off a pitcher who entered the game with an ERA over 8
  • Bullpen collapse – Brandon League blew the save and lost the game by giving up two runs in the ninth

Despite the dismal ending, we all had a good time. Being a rainy evening, it was a good thing Safeco Field has a retractable roof!

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2012 in Family & Friends, Photos, Seattle, Sports

 

Should Christianity be guilt free?

As we were exploring Western Washington this past weekend, we passed a church whose sign intrigued me. To be honest, I don’t remember the name of the church or its location. But the tag line on the sign pricked my interest. It read, “No guilt, no shame, no judgment.” On a different sign was written, “A place where anyone can belong.”

These two phrases caused me to reflect, Should churches and Christianity be guilt free? Should we remove any and every barrier so that all can feel comfortable?

On the one hand I would say “Yes” wholeheartedly. If we claim to be Christ followers, then we should strive to be accepting and non-judgmental. Jesus said that he came to reach sinners (Matthew 9:13). The least and the lost felt accepted and comfortable in his presence. In fact, he was often criticized for spending time with the wrong sort of people (Matthew 9:11).

On the other hand, Jesus did not allow people to remain where they were in their lives. While Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery, he also told her, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:11). While Zacchaeus felt comfortable enough to invite Jesus to dinner at his home, he also felt convicted and guilty enough to give back all he had stolen from people in his tax collection business (Luke 19:1-10). Jesus instructed the rich young man to get rid of his wealth because Jesus knew money and possessions had captured his heart (Matthew 19:16-30). Jesus had extremely harsh words for the self-righteous religious leaders (Matthew 23).

If we take a “no guilt, no shame, no judgment” approach to its logical extreme, we end up with a church like the one Paul addressed in 1 Corinthians. This church was so accepting and non-judgmental it put up with anything and everything. Paul took them to task for their division, lack of unity, partisan politics, and tolerance of sin.

In answering my first question, “Should Christianity be guilt free?” the answer is both Yes and No. Yes, we should accept people right where they are without passing judgment on their lifestyles. We want people to feel comfortable enough to consider Jesus. However, we should not allow people to remain where they are. In teaching the Scriptures accurately, we should call people to repentance and the pursuit of righteousness. This will produce a healthy sense of guilt, shame, and lasting lifechange.

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2012 in Church, Scripture, Theology

 

Authentic encouragement

Over the course of my life, I have heard the whispers of those who said I would never make it in ministry because I didn’t have the _________ (gifts, personality, drive, heart, passion, temperament–take your choice) to be a pastor. And at times, I have listened to the critics and wondered aloud why God didn’t make me more like ___________ (whoever was most popular, effective, and fruitful at the time.)

Perhaps that is why I found the introduction to Chuck Swindoll’s latest book, Saying it well: Touching others with your words, so encouraging. He begins by explaining that there are three key elements which, if cultivated, will make all the difference in your verbal communication skills. Each person needs to:

  • Know who you are
  • Accept who you are
  • Be who you are

Authenticity is one of the keys to effective communication. That frees me to stop measuring myself against other people’s gifts and personalities (I always fall short) and to stop worrying about whether or not I’m meeting people’s expectations (I never do).

Swindoll points out how God used a wide variety of people, gifts, and personalities to accomplish his plan and purpose.

  • Moses, by age eighty, couldn’t speak with ease and he admitted it.
  • Amos was a rough, unsophisticated prophet and he didn’t hide it.
  • Jeremiah was so brokenhearted his tears frequently flowed.
  • The Baptizer refused to waste his time trying to be the Messiah.
  • David never forgot the humble roots of his early years.
  • Paul saw himself as “chief of sinner” and “a wretched man.”
  • Joseph forgave his brothers, but never denied their wrongdoing.
  • Esther knew that what she said to the king was a huge risk.
  • Luke was a physician and his scholarly vocabulary shows it.
  • Once the Virgin Mary understood her role, she accepted it with humility.
  • When Elijah fell into a depression, he acknowledged it.
  • Nehemiah refused to let Sanballat intimidate him.
  • Job openly expressed his grief and confessed his confusion.
  • John wrote of his own fear in witnessing the future judgments.

Even Jesus, though not hindered by sin or personality issues, had to grow into His identity as the Messiah. He grew from infancy into a full knowledge of His deity, and then at age thirty-three identified Himself as “the way, the truth, and the life.”

Each one of these individuals delivered messages that were meaningful and influential. Though they lived centuries ago, what they said (and in some cases, wrote) continues to reach deep into hearts and touch lives.

I find his reminder extremely helpful. Rather than trying to be someone else, I need to be the best me that God designed for me to be. Authenticity communicates volumes.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2012 in Books, Personal growth, Preaching, Quotes

 

Just because you are hallucinating doesn’t mean it isn’t true

Book Review: Crazy dangerous, by Andrew Klavan

Crazy dangerous is a well written, intriguing novel aimed at young adults. Set in a small town, it tells the story of a 16-year-old preacher’s kid, Sam Hopkins. Whether training to become part of the high school track team or getting recruited by a gang of car stealing thugs, Sam desperately wants to fit in and belong to a group. Along the way, Sam gets pulled into the crazy hallucinations of Jennifer, one of his classmates. But when the hallucinations start coming true, Sam starts to wonder if Jennifer really is crazy.

The story is told in the first person from Sam’s point of view. It describes the problems and emotions common to 16-year-olds. While the story is somewhat fantastic, it is realistic and could certainly happen in today’s culture. Like all teenagers, Sam wants to belong to a group. He struggles with being labeled as a PK—preacher’s kid—and is expected by everyone to be perfect. He struggles to understand spiritual things and to make sense of the battle between good and evil in the world. And like all teenagers, he is convinced he knows the truth and struggles to make the adults in his life believe his version of the events.

Klavan has crafted an enjoyable tale, one that pulls you in and does not let go until you have read the last page.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com http://BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2012 in Books