Head First: March 2006

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Towards Restoration


I didn't post about it here because it was being talked about everywhere else, but back in January, over at Our of Ur blog, Mark Driscoll, one of the pastors at Mars Hill Church, publicly lambasted Brian McClaren, among others, for what he perceived as Emergent's failure to take a strong position on homosexuality. There has been a great deal of heated discussion about this, with people on one side or another of the issue drawing the battle lines, choosing sides and standing behind either McClaren or Driscoll. It looked like the beginnings of your basic church split.


For those of us who were at least keeping an eye on Emergent, it was disappointing. I mean, these guys were supposed to be friends. For Driscoll to come out so publicly and so vehemently against McClaren (who, right or wrong, is about the most gentle brother on the planet), just lent a dirty-laundry feel to the situation. No one likes to see a relationship broken, but it's worse when it happens in front of everyone (take it from me).

Well, yesterday gave me some hope. Apparently, Mark Driscoll has reconsidered his approach, and has posted his apology for the way he criticized his brothers publicly. Pay attention to this excerpt:

A godly friend once asked me an important question: "What do you want to be known for?" I responded that solid theology and effective church planting were the things that I cared most about and wanted to be known for. He kindly said that my reputation was growing as a guy with good theology, a bad temper, and a foul mouth. This is not what I want to be known for. And after listening to the concerns of the board members of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network that I lead, and of some of the elders and deacons at Mars Hill Church that I pastor, I have come to see that my comments were sinful and in poor taste. Therefore, I am publicly asking for forgiveness from both Brian and Doug because I was wrong for attacking them personally and I was wrong for the way in which I confronted positions with which I still disagree. I also ask forgiveness from those who were justifiably offended at the way I chose to address the disagreement. I pray that you will accept this posting as a genuine act of repentance for my sin.

I don't know about you, but when I read it, I got a feeling that was hard to describe. It was part relief, part rejoicing that these relationships would not be cast aside, but mostly a sense that "Yes, this is right."

But notice how he came to change his mind. First, a friend approached him kindly, but firmly. Then, he heard from his board members, deacons and elders, and he listened to them (I'd love to know who-approached-who. I want to hope he initiated it.). It's not hard to imagine that someone with Driscoll's level of visibility and pastoral "success" might be a bit of a Lone Ranger, taking the enemy's bait to "be the man." But Driscoll appears to be a pastor who is clearly in genuine, accountable relationship with his fellow leaders. Far from considering himself above counsel, he relies on his brothers to help him achieve a truthful perspective. Contrast Driscoll with the pastor I once had who loved to point at the Bible and say, "God never called a committee. He always called a man." I feel little but pity for that guy. By saying, in effect, "no man is an island, except me, 'cause I'm the pastor" he has assured his own failure.

I guess the underlying message of this post is this: As much as I have come to look with contempt at what the most of the organized church has become, with its gratuitous infrastructure, its inward-focus, and its ego-driven political hierarchy...I'd gladly join the assembly whose leaders really understand and instill the value, role and meaning of relationship.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Children of the Corn


I wasn't going to post about this, but it seems to be turning into something.

Brandon put me on to this eBay auction for a tortilla chip bearing the image of our Saviour. You have to check it out. Read the full description and the questions from bidders at the bottom (a couple of them are mine). Never mind that the image looks sort of like George Carlin. It's Jesus, alright. I'm sure of it.

Anyway, I knew the moment I saw it, that I must claim this holy relic in the name of the one true Church of the Holy Burrito. My friends have told me that I'm crazy and that I can never hope to attain such a treasure, but I remain unswerving in my resolve. Meanwhile, heretics, pagans and other various evildoers conspire in a DaVinci Code-esque plot to keep the chip out of the hands of true believers. But God will not be mocked. I shall have this chip, and I shall enjoy it with a slightly chilled Chimay Grande Reserve Ale, brewed in Godly fashion by Trappist monks in Belgium.

Keep me in your prayers, that the One True Chip will soon be found in its rightful home.

Click the button to donate to this righteous cause. Help me redeem the chip.





Thursday, March 23, 2006

WordCloud


This is cool. Snapshirts' software browses your blog and creates a "WordCloud" of key words from your site. You can make modifications and order a t-shirt with the image.

Thanks to Jason Clark for the heads-up.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Slainte!

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone. Drink responsibly.

There's a teacher at a local Christian school (I won't say which) who doesn't encourage her students to celebrate today because she feels that it amounts to nothing more than an homage to the demonic Leprechaun. Apparently, she doesn't want to give the devil a foothold into her soul (I have to wrap my head in duct tape, so that when it explodes, I don't lose my mind altogether).

Anyway, there's some really good information about Saint Patrick here, here and here. My man, Paddy is the guy who brought the Gospel to the Emerald Isle so that they'd stop worshipping trees and snakes, and get on to a meaningful existence of real importance, making Guinness Extra Stout. As best as I can tell, this was the first and best instance of a Purpose-Driven Life in what would later become the United Kingdom.



Seriously, though, this paragraph caught my eye:

Bonfires and Crosses
Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs. For instance, he used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross, so that veneration of the symbol would seem more natural to the Irish.

Today, fundamentalists would accuse St. Patrick of watering down the message and tickling the ears of his audience with a compromised Gospel (Zeke's contamination and endorsement fallacies have become a permanent part of my ecclesial vocabulary. Thanks, bro.). Yet, in an age when missionaries often arrived in a new land with armies behind them, St. Patrick led what has been called "perhaps the only bloodless spiritual revolution in history, as well as the most successful."

Perhaps the church could take a cue from our forefather. Instead of worrying about appearances (or loot), show folks that the Good News works for everyone, right where they are. Just because God condescended to us, doesn't mean we need to condescend to each other.

Cheers.

Monday, March 13, 2006

I Have Nothing to Say...

Like all human feelings (and their attendant behaviors), I'm sure this is temporary, but I recently find myself more withdrawn than usual. Ordinarily, I might not notice my occasional shift from ENFP to INFP. We all have mood swings, right? However, the pressure (albeit mild) for reasonably fresh content here has brought the circumstance to the fore. For several days, I've thought about what I could bring to this table, and have come up with an uncompromisingly brilliant blank stare. Actually, I do have a topic brewing about the inherent value of individuals, but it keeps going off on wild tangents, so I'll spare you that, for now.

As I sat here, looking at this blank page, the thought occurred to me:

"Pastors must go through this."

When I was the head musician (don't call me a worship leader), I often wearied of the pressure of having to perform every single week. Believe me, there were weeks when I had nothing, but still had to put on the face and appear enthusiastic, for the sake of the congregation (I observed a guy do that just yesterday). It even works sometimes, because face it, that's what a lot of Sunday morning "worship" has become--outward enthusiasm, a little shot of adrenaline to keep you going until the next "worship experience." To come before the congregation--your family--and reveal a heavy heart, just isn't something you do. The idea is to induce people into a positive mental state, so they can be receptive to "the Word."

It's not worship, but that's what we call it.

What about a pastor? What about the guy who has to have something fresh to say every single week? I mean, the guy is supposed to hear from the Lord, but is God on the same weekly schedule? I can seek the Lord for weeks without hearing anything at all. What if I was put in a position of having to speak for God every Sunday? I know, I know...if the bible is God's word, then I can just close my eyes, let it fall open, and put my finger down on any suitable subject. And enthusiasm can be feigned (for the sake of the congregation). But if that's your leadership philosophy--fake it 'til you make it--please don't invite me to your church.

I'm not looking to bitch. Don't take my comments that way. My problems aren't with specific people (that's almost true), but with a system that seems to have a will of its own. However, I perceive that a great many of the difficulties and shortcomings of traditional ecclesiology can be overcome. The problem is that any attempt to overcome them scares the hell out of people who don't (or won't) recognize the deficiencies. The more I think about it, the more I'm drawn to the model of a smaller, more intimate communal fellowship, with a broader, more organic leadership structure, interactive instruction, and outward focus...

...who advertises in the Yellow Pages so I can find them.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Christian

by Maya Angelou

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not shouting "I'm clean livin."
I'm whispering "I was lost,"
Now I'm found and forgiven.

When I say..."I am a Christian"
I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble
and need CHRIST to be my guide.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I'm weak
and need HIS strength to carry on.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed
and need God to clean my mess.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible
but, God believes I am worth it.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I still feel the sting of pain,
I have my share of heartaches
So I call upon His name.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not holier than thou,
I'm just a simple sinner
who received God's good grace, somehow.