31 October 2012

Rachel Held Evans - Superhero Stuck on a Roof

Every now and then I'm going to highlight some people I really admire, probably people I know, people who really make a difference in the world around them. I will try not to gush but make no promises.

Rachel Held Evans is one of my heroes. I've yet to meet Rachel in person. She's a writer, a sister, a thinker, a woman of valor, and someone who isn't afraid to push the boundaries.

Having heard for years about a tenuous concept she was to aspire to, the so called "Biblical woman" (always spoken in a special tone), and-- with every other woman on the planet-- finding herself unable to measure up to such a tenuous yet rigorous standard, she decided to research and live it for a year. Or do so as much as she could in modern, western society (specifically the USA). She spent time on the roof of her house, over a week each month not so much as touching her husband or anyone else, and hours at her city limits holding up signs praising her husband.

Then she wrote a book about it. It just came out. I can't wait to read it.

Just as women have always gotten flak for being good at something, she's gotten flak about the book. It contains the V word (No, not "Vulgate", but rather an anatomical term for something found only in women) which her publisher warned her might keep her out of certain bookstores. Lifeway has decided not to stock it although it's unclear why.

Rachel is brilliant, insightful, wise, and funny. Regardless of what you believe, you should read this book, if only to bust some myths about Judaeo-Christian values and maybe figure out why some of the people you know think like they do. And you will definitely get some laughs.

I'm going to buy extras to give away, based on my perception of who would get the most from it. Replying to this blog certainly won't hurt your chances.

This is part of a surprise synchroblog to celebrate Rachel and her book!

23 October 2012

Of Politics and Parables

Consider a new born baby. How many of you, with your arguing, finger pointing, yelling, facts, and perfect doctrine can turn this baby into a world class pianist? But if you love this baby and the child, teen, and adult they grow into, get to know the person they are and are becoming, honor who they are, see them as God does, look for God's image in them, you may well help them become who they were truly mean to be. And their destiny is world class, whether pianist. president, plumber, or pastor.

This is true of all people, not just babies-- including the people some of us vilify-- tax collectors, hookers, politicians, our fellow drivers, or preachers who focus on garbage (from condemning people to a prosperity gospel.


On a related note, the country, indeed, the world, is hotly divided over political issues, and the discussions and debates have devolved into verbal (or worse) firefights, leaving wounded victims (if only emotionally) strewn across the landscape like so many broken wildflowers.

When we, as the Church, the Bride of Christ, the body of Christ, engage in this way, we fail God, ourselves, and everyone around us.

When we apply religious (or, if you prefer, Biblical, but I think we often confuse these) litmus tests, and demand that candidates, parties or voters line up with what we think God thinks on every topic, and indeed, demand "Godly rule", we make a similar, and equally onerous and dangerous mistake to that made by those seeking to eliminate religion from politics.

Additionally, it gives those who disagree with us a reason to fight back, and in fact provokes them. If you provoke someone, why are you surprised when they come after you? Where is your legitimate objection?

By all means, our faith must drive our discourse. But it is foolishness to expect all your brothers and sisters to agree with you on every point, and madness to expect those who don't know Christ to.

Israel wanted a king. They got it and regretted it. The disciples wanted a king. They got one, but not the type they expected. We have a King. Don't demand another one in the Oval Office (or anywhere else).

13 October 2012

Are You My (Spiritual) Mother (Father)?

In his book, Jesus Culture, Banning Liebscher talks about how important it is for generations to work together. One of the main ways he discusses it is in terms of Moses holding up the rod (with the help of Aaron and Hur) while Joshua and the army fought the battle. For whatever reason, God wanted both of these to happen for his children to be victorious.

One of the ways I see the need for the generations to come together is through spiritual parents. I'm not talking about discipline or rules here. Far from it! I'm talking about people acting as parents, to pour their hard learned wisdom into younger people, their love, their strengths. This requires the younger people to be open and vulnerable, to trust. It can also help you to grow so much faster, run so much harder, climb so much higher, than you ever thought possible.

The spiritual children have a lot to offer the parents as well-- it's easy to get too settled, too comfortable, ossified even. Youthful vigor, inquisitiveness, passion, these are all things the older generations need.

You're never too old to have spiritual parents, You're never too old to have spiritual kids.

The parents in this scenario may not be physically older; they just need to have more experience and maturity in some areas. It's even possible for the roles to swap in a relationship depending on the topic!

It doesn't stop there, either. This works for any sort of family. People need spiritual grandparents and grandkids, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters. It takes a family. And Jesus says we are family. We need to start acting like it. And I don't mean fighting!

You don't need to be formally trained in this. You just need to care, and to refuse to be afraid or intimidated. If someone has no parents, even if you do a poor job, they're still better off than they were. If you have a loving heart, a humble spirit, and a passion for God. you're qualified.

If you want help, just ask. If you don't know who to ask, ask me. I may walk with you through it or I may help find someone in your area. We'll work something out. But get busy. Somewhere around you is a hungry child.

02 October 2012

Have You Got Performance Anxiety?

I'm not here to discuss stage fright or your love life. The performance anxiety I'm talking about comes from without. It comes from a religious mindset and manifests as someone in the audience, I mean congregation, getting concerned (if not riled up) about whether a worship team is truly worshiping or somehow simply performing.

I'm going to use the term "audience" here partly because it's convenient, and partly to push your thinking. If my use of that term predisposes someone to judge me, well, I'll try to survive.

Performance anxiety can happen if

  • the band looks too "out there" or "too staid";
  • the music is "too secular sounding" or "too churchy sounding";
  • the music is "too loud", "too quiet", "too new", "too old", etc.;
  • "they shouldn't use those instruments";
  • the stage, light show, etc. are "too showy" or "too much like a rock concert".
But... it's not up to the audience to make that judgment. It's up to us to worship, and to let God deal with the band if they need dealing with, and with us if we need dealing with.

In short, if we're busy judging the band by their performance, it's we who have the performance mentality, not them.

So... for everyone in the pews, chairs, aisles, and so forth... how's that working for you?

(Dear worship band, the same thing applies to how you look at those not on stage. Don't judge by external reactions. Don't demand people sit still, dance, or anything else. Let God deal with each one.)

01 October 2012

The Logical Place To Look

Given the two greatest commandments:
  1. Love the Lord your God with every particle and wave of your being, natural or otherwise;
  2. In the same way, love your neighbor as yourself
The three most obvious sins are obviously failing to love God, yourself and others.

Since identity is key to relationship it also follows that three blatant sins would be our refusal and/or failure to let

  1. God be God,
  2. you be yourself, or
  3. others be themselves.
If you're having a hard time living a life of love, here's a good place to look. Where do you need to let these happen?