Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Fundumbmental

This was 23 seconds of fun:

Elastic Enthusiastic

Give thanks for your mind

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdgnieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

I hpoe yuor Avdnet is ginog wlel.

Kteih

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Merry Debtmas - Madonna and Card





In the face of our North American seasonal consumerist orgy - I offer this:

Spend time not money on your family.
They need you more than your gifts.
Give to the poor not the credit card companies, resist spending shun over spending.

Riches is not money, nor luxury excess.

God bless us every one!

Monday, December 04, 2006

OK

I just erased this post.

It was intended to be about my thoughts on the last post. Something of a retrospective.
(H tells me it reads a smidge "angry")

I guess it might be - but probably because I am angry. I'm angry about a lot of this stuff. Still.

You don't need that - but I had to write something - so here it is.


SOMETHING.


(Mine is a comic heart - I didn't just "want to" I "had to.")

Monday, November 27, 2006

a scary and curious thing

A field guide to blending in at Church

page 17: What to do when your parents drag you to church

First of all - don’t panic.

You’ll probably only need to attend a one hour weekly meeting. You can handle an hour. Assume that your experience will be the same as many others. In many of these places the understanding of God is firmly held with a commercial capitalist world view - as if God is somehow like that blue genie in "Alladin."

The good news is you’ve probably been to the mall before - just look at this experience as a “Jesus store at a Spiritual Mall.” Here they mostly offer spiritual or motivational speeches aimed at the listeners’ personal growth and development. They seem to feel that the best motivation they can offer is to explain how listening to their speeches will make life “better for you.” (If it’s not about “YOU” why would you possibly be interested?)

But not to worry the challenge toward change is seldom so serious that you are expected to actually demonstrate any of the stuff they talk about. Just listen to the speech politely, the writers often throw in a few corn-ball jokes to keep things moving. Sometimes they are genuinely funny.

Anyway, the challenge to change will mostly be stuff to just think about. The audience is just as afraid of being vulnerable as the rest of the world and they are usually too busy with their own lives to be close to others anyway. It's rare that you would be asked about your true self by any of the other people there.

The good news on this front is that anonymity within the larger whole seems to be a pattern. Many of those in the audience with you, find they are able to just listen to the speech without doing much else. The two key things seem to be showing up regularly while “looking the part” and nodding your head at the right times.

Be aware that some of these places have a group of self appointed inspectors that decide who “measures up.” It’s an especially good idea to figure out who these people are and put your best foot forward.

To help you stay motivated,closely watch how people who are "rough around the edges" are treated by this group. (Pay special attention to women who have become pregnant before they got married.) Seeing their collective, quiet, public, disapproval in action is really scary. You don't need that in your life - shame sucks.

It's weird, the speeches are so often about how important it is for us all to love - but watching them make people outsiders for being human, will make sure your personal life is never too well known....





May YHWH help us all!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Evangel-ramblin'

I was going through some notes from a lesson I'd sat in a little while back. The topic was "Evangelism."

I compared some of those thoughts with Donald Miller's teaching at the NYWC Cincinnati. Mr. Miller commented (as he has at various other times and places) about the commodification of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The sense that evangelism has become for many churches a "Buy into Jesus" sales pitch that promises "everything is better with Jesus" by people who know it's not that simple. It reminds me of that tired old Blue Bonnet Margarine commercial ("Everything is better with Blue Bonnet on it!")

*shudder*

Anyway the notes I'd taken were based on a comment Peter Fitch had made - He mentioned that often when evangelism efforts fail a predictable pattern emerges:

For some if a person can't be converted they are to be either ignored or worse resented. Worse still, if that fails there can be a promotion of an environment that moves them somewhere else - creates enough awkwardness and tension that they disappear from the setting. It's sort of a "His way (as WE see it) or the Highway" policy. (shut them up or shut them out)

I thought back to how the people on the margins were treated in pre-war Germany.

*shudder*

Even if that's hyperbole - it gives me pause.

Jesus can't be sold to anyone, even those who have nodded, said "the prayer" and caved to the sales pitch. Many started that way and have been loved beyond that less than perfect beginning into real life.

My point is we must not tolerate "eliminate objections and hang in there to get the sale/conversion evangelism" programs. Evangelism isn't a methodology, an explosive device, or a belt notching system toward getting your "Extra especially approved by Jesus" badge.

People are loved to God, by people who are living the love of God. Love one another as He has Loved us - that will be more than enough evangelism for all.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

STAND UP!



PLEASE RALLY YOUR CIRCLE OF FRIENDS AT CHURCH!

The STAND UP AGAINST POVERTY campaign is slated for October 15 & 16. Let your friends know - poverty is intolerable!

The "Stand Up" Campaign is a challenge to raise awareness for the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which all 191 UN nations signed onto in the year 2000.

The purpose of the action is to raise awareness of the MDGs and to publicly demonstrate to policy makers the growing global support for the eradication of poverty.

When you STAND UP up on October 15/16, you will be joining people around the world reminding our leaders of their promises, including the promise to cut world poverty in half by 2015. (And set an official Guinness World Record for the greatest number of people ever to Stand Up Against Poverty!)

I am asking you to join in to reject poverty as "normal," and moreso, to speak out for those who have no voice.

Ask your Pastor to lead the congregation in a Stand Up Moment just a short introduction of the campaign with a moment of reflection on what it means to take a stand against injustice and poverty, followed by a prayer.
If your set up for it use the 30 second PROMO then say a word or two before the prayer. (Be willing to lead it!)

Here's the link to the STAND UP campaign.

Here's the Dave Matthews Band promo.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I'm liking the graphic creation and the few thousand words these comics provide me. I'd love to know what you all think of them.

Penn Ave. (Yes he really did say this...)

Megachurch #354

Thursday, July 27, 2006

140 government bucks a week

I sat today with some of the people I work with. We sat at the park near the border and watched the maxi-SUV's pulling three bedroom 5th wheel trailers, and uber RV's roll by. Boats, ATVs, you name it - they all joined the parade.

My friends faced the cavalcade bravely. They told me it's hard to watch when you live on less than 140 government bucks a week. We watched and chatted, one borrowed a dollar from another to buy a used book from the sale the library was hosting nearby.

The afternoon waned.

It was a surreal experience. Watching the advantaged, (or at least the "credit worthy") cruise on, while sitting quietly and speaking with these who have so very little. They all bear their hardships with nobility when they can, and with grit when they cannot.

They all need our help - my help and your help. Look about - they are there; the fractured, the forgotten, the forbidden. Give them first the regard and dignity we all should give one another. Then as you are able, (and sometimes when you think you are not) give them what advantage you can - money, time, equality, deference, whatever you can give they have so little otherwise.

We would do well to remember that for some people, a chance for a coffee and a donut are reason enough to change a day's schedule and a little of the milk of human kindness a very welcome surprise.

We are the forgiven - they are ours to heal, remember, and liberate - ours to love.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Express Lane

Ok here's a new rule:

The person in the grocery store express lane immediately behind the guy with more than 10 items, gets to pick which items DON'T go home with him.

I will always choose toilet paper, tylenol and desserts first - so you've been warned!

I hate that! We were in the "express lane" however the management wasn't insightful enough to assign an express cashier. So we all smoldered while we waited. She methodically took each item and slowly scanned it. (Sometimes too slow for even the reader - so she had to do it twice!) The express lane turned into the "express your frustration quietly" lane.

Arrrgh!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Time

So I've not blogged in a LONG time. Time is a problem for me - a sort of dsychronia I suffer from. I too easily loose track. I am aware of time in a way that is different than most. I'm not sure if this is a gift or a burden.

Anyhow, I just seem to be doing other things. Work, life etc. and then it's time for bed. With the kids home on Summer VAC we are very often doing family stuff during my "not working time."

It hasn't helped that I have not set up my studio yet - all in due time.

So, Thanks for tuning in and stopping by, I'll try and write again (with more pith) soon.

K

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Insight at the roadside

I was walking home today after fighting with a lawn mower and over grown grass at our new place for an hour. I had to go and do it since it was the last day before three soild days of rain. On the way home I was really tired, since I had already put in a full day at the office before mowing.

Anyway on the way home, a car pulled over and I soon realized that I had been "picked" as a possible prospect by our local Mormon Summer Missionaries. Through the car window one of them offered me a card which I politely declined.

He shrugged when I said "no thanks" - it was no biggie, they drove off - I walked on.
That's because I don't think they cared about me. I thinn they cared about their quota. I was just another "try" to them. When I said "no thanks" it was no biggie, they drove off - I walked on. There's plenty of fish in the sea.

When the priority is the process - and not the person, you can forget the person and just start the process with another.

How much can we learn from this when it comes to our own hopes to communicate Christ's desire to connect with others? When will we look at other's eyes and not our own agendas?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

This is bound to PO somebody

The blog Antidote wrote a piece based on an open letter by Pam Slim

Some may take offense at the rules named but, nomenclature aside, it's on target. We in the church like to shine up our junk and make it look pretty for our showcase Sunday morning spectacles. It rubs our fur the wrong way when someone suggests that we are human, and so have a tendency at times, to behave as an ass. That's just not polite.

The sooner we drop that, the better. John Doe knows that our flesh and his are the same. Plainly said, he just doesn't believe the suits and ties, dresses and shiny shoes are the way the people wearing them really are. Our pretense and posturing just creates an interpersonal distance between us and him. (And if you just read that and think I was ranting about clothing - you missed it.)

So, here are the 10 points Pam makes, bent for my purposes of talking about church. For each point she provides a paragraph in her open letter, you may wish to read that too.

1. Don't spend tons of money to try and change your church culture.

Our culture will always be defined by what is truly valued by the decision-makers. (I think I read somewhere that it's supposed to be something about loving God and others.) SO insist the leaders are outrageously loving!

Flat out abandon any plan or action that doesn't fit that mode. If it's well intentioned, and committee approved, but won't be understood as love - go back to the drawing board. People, not money, change culture.

2. Stop running your church like the Mafia

Ahh the tyranny, the complete control, the decision makers, the ability to crush opposition, the unspoken codes of conduct and the rewards of being a "made" member - it's all there. Stop.

3. Spend time with the people in your church in their context - not the church's

So often it's about the church's agenda getting moved forward. After all, that's what we are there to do - God's work. But that just lends itself to perpetuating the artificial. It is in the vulnerability of shared human experience that we forge and temper the bonds that permit this extravagant love we are called to live out. You cannot love someone you don't know. You cannot know someone you don't spend any time with.

4. Teach people how to love God.

This could be it's own blog post, but I have to be brief. Let's admit that the "read your bible & pray more" solution we've been prescribing for decades as "the solution to life's problem's" is a mythical panacea that needs to be contextualized. Those two elemental Christian exercises aren't enough for what life throws at us.

We need silence, and the fierce courage of true vulnerable friendship, liturgy, ceremony, songs new and old, art, laughter, tears and so much more - all marshaled in concrete spiritual disciplines that help us and teach us to better love God. A truism I often repeat is "In order to see - we must look, in order to hear - we must listen, in order to create, we must persist. (it seems fitting for this too.)

5. Don't ask for your peoples' input if you are not going to listen to it

It's the height of arrogance to form a consensus, then ignore it, so don't.

6. Don't train people until you know what problem you are solving

Training? What is this training you speak of? Why do we run a special school here for the children every Sunday, just to teach them to be life long Christ followers, and we've never trained any of our teachers? (I think it's so the teachers remain humble. It's real hard to get full of pride if your not sure about what your doing.)

7. Ditch the spectacles.

The sermon just isn't that important. I love to speak to a crowd, so that's hard for me to write, but if I'm being honest.... A sermon (the fancy "church word" for a lecture) is the most efficient way of getting a lot of information to a large group of people all at the same time - but it's the least effective way of learning.

Besides, even if the sermon "goes over" every week it's less than 4 tenths of one percent of the week. So even if your focused and intent on learning during the presentation (and everyone always is) it's just not enough. Teaching is monumentally important - but sermons aren't.

8. Focus on the "what" that people do, not the "how" or "when" they do it

Lots of people in the church serve tirelessly, and never get so much as a nod from the pulpit or anywhere else. We chalk it up to "reasonable service" when the truth is that most pastors would do well to put away their sermon notes for the next week and just spend their time celebrating the men and women who make this thing we call church "go" every week.

9. Watch the burnout

Yours and theirs. Face it the church is the black hole of need. That's the point. "Come to me all you who are heavy laden..." is what the Master said. So it's not surprising that even with a fully developed "I am weak but but He is strong' mentality people will over do it. We take church so very seriously, but often for all the wrong reasons. After you stop working/volunteering/doing for this church there will be someone else to take your place.

You're just not that important to it all. But the "YOU" part of you is vitally important to God. So stop, drop, and roll. Stop believing your own hype about the deadlines and the fact that the sky will fall if that thing doesn't happen, drop the idea that you are the only Jesus some people will every see. (You aren't, and I have verses to prove it.) and roll with the punches.

Will somebody get PO'ed if you drop the ball? Maybe. If they love you and you own your crap - it will be fine. If they love their program more than you, you'll at least learn where their allegiances are.

10. Forbid people to work while they are on vacation

PERIOD. Refuse to allow programs to use people up. Set volunteer service term limits for everyone. Close the church at least one Sunday a year and go do something together that expresses your love for each other and the reason Christ died for us all.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

But what if...

I was on a drive to our office in St. George. It's a 35 minute inescapable slice of time I need to carve out of a day that includes the St. George office. Time to think.

I was considering the nature of holiness. It's an area where I've known a few theologians to do some verbal and mental gymnastics because it's such a big idea. Some of them wanted me to believe that God's holiness is evidenced by His perfection. In an effort to explain this idea "holy" they paint a picture of "the most perfect-est ever ever." (Ok that last bit was a paraphrase.)

Their reasoning seemed to be this: He is perfect ergo He is holy. Now I am NOT rejecting either idea (God's holiness or God's perfection) But I am asking a question. What if the two are wholly independent of one another? God is perfect. God is holy.

I just can't get how I am to be holy as God is holy (Lev. 11 et al) IF holy means perfect. I'm human, inherently and definitively imperfect. This is where the gymnastics start. "Well we can never be as holy as God is, but we work toward it as a goal. But it doesn't say "try " or "strive" it says "be."

So I'm going to assume I’m onto something and ask my question: What if holy means true? It would be easy to confuse pure truth with perfection. The holiest of holies = the truest of truth?

I just know I can't be perfect. I can barely do powerless. And even if I was to “exceed my programming” as it were, and act perfect - I'd still have to contend with my motives and choices all the internal dialog that precedes any human action (Our faith is what we choose AND do.) I can't be holy if holy means perfect.

But if holy means true, God loses no ground - He is completely true ever and always. But since truth (in regard to humanity) is always in the process of being revealed, (Bible, Technology etc.) it at least seems plausible that I could be always working to be more true. More true, more aware of what is true about me and around me.

Be true as God is true: May He guide us in all truth.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

People change slowly

I had an old friend who worked at a small rural church in the Northern part of Ontario. In the office he'd made from a basement side room, he had a desk, always littered with pages of one sort and another. Always on top of those papers was a heavy, ten inch long, brass desk sign like the ones people have for their names. It only had three words on it, my friend kept it there to remind him of this truth: "People change slowly."

Much of current evangelism efforts seem to ignore that truth. If you search the bible for the word "evangelism" you'll soon find it's not there. But that is not necessarily meaningful since the words "evangelist" and "evangelize" are there.

They mean "tell the good news." The angels evangelized. They brought "good tidings of great joy" in Luke 2, Jesus also when he brought "glad tidings of the kingdom of God" in Luke 8. "Evangelize" then is the parent of our word "evangelism." Evangelism is a term we've assigned to the process of discipleship.

Here's where I tend to get my Irish up. Discipleship has never been about proclamations, declarations, intellectual assent, or Dale Carnegie-esque sales tactics. It has always been about the individual believers modeling the love they learned from Christ to the world.

As that love becomes a greater motivational force in a believer's life - they begin to make a difference in other's lives. When these other people ask "Why are you doing this for me?" and "why do you care so much about us?" opportunities are created to tell them about the "glad tidings of the kingdom of God."

Evangelism needs to be based on love for God and from God. How can we love those we barely know? How can we love as we need to love, apart from God's power to do so? Real evangelism is about profound care for people, not clining to a system style or method.

How can anyone assume that a well presented, (or argued) case for the supremacy of Christ's teaching is the same as "good tidings of great joy?" How can we assume that the listener, so often ambushed by the discussion is now a disciple, or convert, because they agreed with what we told them? Did they expect this to be part of their day? To me it seems like a quick fix, so that people can "check off" the evangelism box on their "Now Jesus will really love me" score card. (As if he could love any of us more?)

And let's say that despite these confused motivations and methods the listener does hear the love that motivates it, and God uses that to help them hear His call of love and forgiveness.

Too often it ends up going down the most familiar road, assuming the facts are enough. People form new believers classes for these newest followers and spoon-feeding facts - western culture style. If you know the facts you'll know what's needed. (That doesn't work for simple stuff like bike riding and tieing our shoes why people think it will work for being a disciple is beyond me.)

The teaching style in the east is quite different from here. Being a disciple in eastern culture meant grafting your life to a teacher (rabbi). Not only did you sit under their lessons, but you lived in close proximity to them - you shared life with them. They showed you what their lessons meant practically, day to day by modeling them, you showed your gratitude and indebtedness by serving them as a receiver of their knowledge. It is a time, and life, intensive interaction.

People change slowly, and to assume otherwise is to ignore the obvious. Discipleship must only ever be about love. Discipleship has always, and will always take a lifetime, portions of which we can share together. The sooner we embrace that irresistible fact, the sooner we will benefit from the fruit true discipling can produce.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

From - church in the desert

You need to read this first: Church in the Desert

Mark Balfour commented about his Lenten experience. He focused on the temptations thrust before Christ by the devil. I really appreciate his notes.

Stones to bread
- as Mark calls it "something that is easier to swallow." It's the path of least resistance, the way we are all prone to take, the one that causes the fewest cuts and bruises. It plays on our natural aversion to pain. For a long time now I've had a real hatred for the role "nice" has played in the church. It takes the stones of harsh reality and turns it into the Wonder Bread we so often embrace "niceness."

It's so much easier to eat that fluff than speaking the truth in love, enduring the wounds of a friend, being real about the struggle faith is, and so many other things. These soulful things are like stones and we easily see them as too hard, too messy, and too painful to endure - so we decide to "just be nice" and do something else - anything but the hard bit. After all, it's less painful - and pain is bad right?

The religiosity that is born out of this kind of path is smug and patronizing. It's the "big fat fake" that demands we all deal with the veneer and not the substance. It presumes pain is negative and comfort is positive. Authenticity (according to Christian Existentialism) is the degree to which one is true to their own personality, spirit, or character, despite the pressures of being in a material world. This "Wonder Bread" is about relieving that pressure.

Throw yourself off - Ah the grand martyrdom! Give your all and surely God will come to the rescue! Look it says it here in the bible - "He has given his angels charge over thee..." (it's always more pious in KJV) How many families of ministers (lay and other) have been sacrificed on this altar? So often the assumption is that the task that needs done for the church is the "Kingdom of God" task - so you'd best seek it first and God will fill in the gaps at home. Guess what? It ain't and He often doesn't. (Because He loves you.)

The Kingdom of God task - what will change the whole world - is always about your journey toward Christlikeness, it's what Mother Teresa called "small things done with great love." It's a first things first issue. You are the only you on the planet. If you don't see to the spiritual matters you should it will be for show.

You can be the greatest servant in your church but if you neglect your family and friends to do that - you're blowing it. Andy Stanley reminds us that there will be someone in the church's future who will do what you do. But NO ONE BUT YOU will be the unique expression of God's grace in your circle of family and friends except YOU. Nope - only YOU, amongst the 6 billion on the planet. As my friend McNair always says "IF you don't do you - you won't get done!"

Kingdom, power and glory - the offer is to be large and in charge. It seems to be a misfit thought among the churched. But every collection of people has "top dogs." It's just that in the church we make sure that there's a prescribed dose of humility attached to every position. The pharisees had that act down pat.

Piety mingled with scorn, all to have the final say in what was godly and what was not. Shame mongering, judgementalism, whatever tools need to be employed. Control it, manage it, Like in the wizard of OZ "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!''

For my part I pray God sends me much grace. I know some of what makes me the bread eating, base-jumping, glory seeking shadow I am. The moment I forget that - I fall into it. The moment I look down my nose at others for being frail like me - I am doubly guilty.

Friday, April 21, 2006

About the deletions

I have recently deleted two comments. An anonymous (guy?) from Oz monikered "grace4all" decided to leave two comments. When I read the first one I began to type this long explanation with tons of back story explaining everything and all the subtleties that were involved. Then I scratched that (it was just way too long) and tried a point form version. I was trimming, deleting, tweaking - then all of a sudden I stopped.

I realized this unknown person, (convinced they had thrust penetrating postulations- under my intellectual skin) left their words based on only the few words they'd read. They didn't know my story, just the post. I could have bandied the comments about and maybe even got into a big conflagration over it - but why?

I am hoping they were motivated to encourage or help trying to spur me on or sharpen me - but in truth it came across to me as a bit smarmy, smug and self important. I deleted the post and thanked them for stopping by.

This Aussie seemed convinced that the questions they'd left initially had done their work. I felt like they were gratified I'd deleted the comment - "VINDICATION!" seemed to be the tone of the second comment.

I'm sorry to disappoint mate, but the words were barely even read. It was late and couldn't figure out who you were or how I knew you. (On my way to a work conference and all.) When I figured out I didn't know you I was confused by why anyone would think I cared about anonymous opinions. Think of it. That's like yelling "Hey You! Mabel Winslow hates your shoes!" That was my confusion "Who is Mabel Winslow? What are you saying? Why do you think I want to know that?"

Why would anyone care about an anonymous opinion? Anything less than a signed opinion is tantamount to digital graffiti - notions scrawled quickly, most meaningful to those who wrote them.

I'll make no apologies for controlling my blog. I'll delete what I want when I want. Don't like it - go elsewhere. The internet is rife with folks who are looking for you. I use this blog to write and work things out. If what's here wrangles you or you think I'm off base - that's OK. I've lived this long without your approval - I'll manage the rest of my life without it...somehow.

I'm not trying to be hurtful (OK maybe a little hurtful, like flicking your ear or something) but please -I don't have time for pitted contension or debate. I'd rather learn who you then maybe after some respectful reparte I can hear you. I'm OK if anyone disagrees with me - God's peace upon them, but just don't expect me to argue with random internet wanderers. (That's for the people who don't take their medications.)

OK - last bit. I've changed the default setting so that registration is a requirement before leaving a comment. (Chant with me: No Mo Anons!) Maybe it will help me engage with the people behind the words more? I've decided that I'm not going to talk about this anymore. Clean slate, reset, start over, done. - I'll "hold thumbs" that the one who left the comment will forgive. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my blog. God's peace upon you all.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I meant it as a call to be otherwise

A friend has pointed out that my last post seemed like a "swipe" at the past.

I guess if I'm honest about it - some of my objectivity is lost after the experiences I've had (ten months later and it still causes me immense pain) - but I was "swiping" at myself as much as anyone else, I handed out more "fill in the blank" forms than most. I meant it as a call to be otherwise, not a condemnation.

If my idle words have wounded any I apologize. I want us all to be closer to Jesus. I'm inextricably stuck in my junk and can be ham-fisted because of my preconceptions and limited perspective, when I try to write.

If my words have hurt you or any you love - please forgive me.

Keith

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Shiny Modern Churches

Most of the churches I've attended are "Modern Churches." They come from a modern era mind set. Because Modernity is about the pursuit of ever-increasing levels of order, modern churches are always on guard against anything that might mess up the order they've created.

For them, the raw reality of an unfiltered life is often far too candid and outrageous for polite conversation. So the unpredictable, the uncomfortable, the socially awkward (See Basement Ministries: Anyone under 18, the chronically disenfranchised, those with “issues,” anyone that is an uneasy fit or requires “extra grace”) are more tolerated than embraced.

As a group, Modernist Churches tend to classify things in terms of opposites. (churched, saved, faithful verses unchurched, unsaved, backslidden), whatever the terminology or label, what is subtly meant, is often acceptable/unacceptable.

Modern churches, seeking to order things end up defining (and sometimes even creating) the "anarchy and disorder” - they attempt to stand against. Given their "either/or" world view, the disorderly and misaligned are a forgone conclusion, the polarity through which they see the world creates it. Often without realizing as much, this practice is more about helping the group know who they are than anything else.

As the group self-defines in this way they can assert the superiority of their culture over that of others. The efforts made to correct the disorder they see around them are called "Outreach Programs." However, the truth is, outreach ends up being more of an effort to homogenize any new comers. It is less the life long journey of salvation that starts and ends with God, than it is making the newcomer more like the group.

Participants in a modernist church quickly learn the accepted "way and values" (See Metanarrative) and conform to it - at least outwardly, so they will belong. Rather than honestly living in Christ, with the Bible, in a caring community, they just look to the glittering head man - the Master Pastor for the cues.

It’s just way easier to get the short hand - the Cliff notes of the Christian life from him. Tidy scripted sermons are far easier to digest and organize than an eye to eye shared life. (“Just keep it to three or four-“fill in the blanks” would ya Pastor? I’ve got a busy week ahead”)

So predictably, the wheels fall off - the group looks aligned and ordered, but the truth is we’re all a mess, a broken mess. And the hilarity of it all is that who we are on the inside, won’t be sated by the shellac the right dress, the right answers, right whatever tries to provide. Like plants that poke through the cracks in cement, our true selves won't be denied the light of day - who we really are will squeeze its way out into the open eventually.

In the end these churches cultivate a subculture, the “church answers” become different from real answers - and the distance between real and "churchy" grows. Who we really are and who we pretend to be at church becomes less and less similar.

There are those who are still getting what they want from God in a modernist church setting - may the Peace of God be upon them. As for me, I’ve had to move. I need a faith family that can handle my lack, my daily grind and my big questions without me having to pretend to make others more comfortable .

Like Mike Yaconelli called it in Messy Spirituality “ I have been trying to follow Christ most of my life, and the best I can do is a stumbling, bumbling, clumsy kind of following. I wake up most days with the humiliating awareness that I have no clue where Jesus is. Even though I am a minister, even though I think about Jesus every day, my following is...uh...meandering."

I need to be in a church that can just sit with a question and let it be a question. I need fellows who can hear me rant, swear, or worse, and see I’m still on the journey. I need to be among people who have an approximately equal intolerance and dislike for the shellac dripping off so many of the shiny Modern Churches.

Wanna be in my band??

Your Band Name is:

The Sacred Ninjas


ht

Hi,

Here's my band. I typed into the generator and Got this. So this band is NOT a musical band - more like a band of brothers and sisters. It has all of the privileges of "band membership" without all of the hassle of practicing and touring. (Infighting remains OPTIONAL.)

We can "hang out with the band" or "go to a band thing" or use it as an excuse to get out of stuff we don't want to do (I promised the people in my band I wouldn't) and still avoid having to find an unheated garage to practice in.

I'm the founder of the band and as founder declare the full name of the band to be: "Sacred Ninja Viking Pirates" (hereafter SNVP ) - That seems to be a sufficiently antisocial and ominous for use as a band name. I'm open to new band members occupying offices of their own design so feel free to join and let me know what you'd like to do in THE BAND!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Tell your friends!

This first sounded like an e-scam but it appears legit.

Big bucks "Epson" settled a class action lawsuit.
One of the things the suit alleged was that Epson inkjet printers and cartridges say that the cartridges are empty (when they are not) and suspend printer function, even though there's lots of ink remaining.

If your printer is included in the settlement, you can get 45 bucks to spend in the Epson
store, or 25 bucks and a 20 dollar Epson credit, or a discount of 25% off Epson purchases up to 100 dollars. The printer list and claim forms are at: http://www.epsonsettlement.com/

Also See: Steve's Digicams Site

The website is tanked right now because of traffic. (That's one way to keep people from getting their rebate) but if you qualiy - keep trying!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Wild Grace

How cool that God could take some move some thoughts from here and give them to Gracie to create this:

Wild Grace:
"This is a big boat
So many on board
I’ve never seen
I reach out with my telephone
But often I just feel
Alone.

This is a big boat
So many online
I’ve never read.
I reach out with my blogger’s word
But often I just feel
Unheard.

And then I feel
Your words reach in
They’re yours
They’re mine
They’re His!
Oh, God
I didn’t expect
That You would
Come like this.

This is a small boat
The size of a Man’s hand
Although I cannot see
It’s because of Him
Your heart
Can touch
Me."

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Risk

Last week at church we were talking about (among other things) Jesus being involved our lives. As I listened in the service two thoughts rose to the surface:

On Prayer:

"To ask, without also acting - is a very small prayer indeed."

On God's Will:

"Risk the possibility that God wants to be involved in it all [you whole life - everything] not so you will be hamstrung with indecision [over "what God's will is"] but emboldened by the realization that you don't have to do any part of anything alone-anymore."


It's intriguing to consider that God wants to pray - to act and to help us with it all, for it all to be accomplished in His power- no not intriguing, breathtaking!

Love more, say less.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Take the time today

As our friend Mcnair has noted watch the clock today! Only twice in your life time (around 1 am and pm) will it be 1:02:03 04/05/06. All the time you've been given, is for loving God and others. Times and tides are important - remember

...God's kingdom is here for sure. If you lived on the world's terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God's terms and no longer on the world's terms, the world is going to hate you.

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.

(Matt. 12:28b, John 15:19a, 1 Cor 13: 1-3)

Take the time today to Love Extravagantly! Remember the words of Mother Teresa:

Small things, done with great love will change the world.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Job

I have a yob. I was asked to direct the Community Activity Center (I'll write more about it later). After months and months of waiting - it has come. It's so strange. Absolutely nothing has changed accept a group of people have said that they'd like to pay me full time for the work they need me to do - but there is a world of difference in my outlook and disposition.

Soon my days will be filled with other things and this wonderful season of love I've had with my family being my sole (and soul) focus is morphing into something else. I'm not wholly sure what the new horizons hold - but the storm has broken and the waves died, time to patch the ship and go on.

It's most appropriate here and now to thank God for his faithfulness, He has consistently "shown-up" in my darkest times during this ordeal. The truth of it is that most often He's been draped in the cloak of my wife. She was His hands and feet - bailing like mad when the waves washed in, suffering my rages and rants, offering me water when the rowing was hardest, then grabbing the other oar and straining with me against the waves.

So to God - Ruler of All - and to the Image of His Son being formed in Heidi, I most humbly say thank-you. I cannot sail without either of you.

Meditatus:Tendo:Teneo
Reflect:Dare:Persist

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

the choice of simplicity

new to me blog that fits with our choices for simplicity. thought you might be interested:

Frugal For Life: 16: Festival of Frugality

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

So here we go

I have about 3 hours before my next interview. It's funny, when your interviewing for a job as a pastor it takes weeks and months. Meetings, committees, votes - even a test run at the pulpit. This should be relatively easy. I'm just trying to rest in my part in this - walk through the door.

I want to work, but at the job that God has for me. I don't think there's only one - but I think I could choose with the best of intentions and be "off."

Sidebar:
It's like an exercise I've undertaken - to live in God's abundant universe. Most people assume that the universe operates in a scarcity mode. There's only so much stuff and if you don't grab all you can while you can - you'll miss out. It's just economics right?

But I think that God has created the universe to be a place of abundance. He is the Creator and Provider - it's in His nature. The problems come when we confuse our needs with our wants and when we assume that all of God's people will respond to His prompting.

It's not a "Name it and Claim it" mentality, nor is it confusing God with Disney's "genie" character. It's just that God loves people and if we listen to Him and live as he teaches us - there's more than enough for everyone - everywhere (ie 1/10 of the world's riches people would only have to surrender 1/10 of their riches to end global poverty!)

So my exercise is to write out things I am seeking - small tangible items (to record this notion of an abundant universe) It only requires I identify what I am seeking then to watch and wait for God's provision. Some stuff comes may never come - but I've got records to prove God provides (DUH!)

Anyway - Part of that experiment included me writing down a need/want for a santoku style chef's knife. I love to cook and so I wanted one to assist that hobby. I found one on significant sale and bought it. It was smaller than I wanted but it was good quality. A few months later a pair of the knives came to me as a gift. These new knives are wonderful and one is a ten inch blade.

All this to say that I'm not entirely sure if I should have waited - if God had permitted the purchase but had always intended to meet my need with the new set. Thinking about it hurts my brain.

Just pray I get to God's will in all of it- I know I'll be safe there, and it's all I want anyway.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Sorry if that's outside your box.

We moved to NB after a bad end to a great ministry. We were following what we truly felt was God's leading amid a very tough situation. We've been cobbling together a job here and there, getting funds where we can drawing on savings and counting on God for months now. It's just that the area has a limited pool of opportunities and there is a sense that we are "unknown" to many in a town where everyone is know (or even distantly related.)

"Making it," in a word has been tough - hope is hard to come by when your waiting and waiting and waiting. I've had interviews and these have translated to some work - but we've not had the "big click" so we've been hanging on and the thread is wearing very very thin.

Heidi had asked me to go and pay some bills with our one credit card (we're borrowing from ourselves - hoping that we won't have to delve into our little nest egg if we can get work soon enough to pay it all off by frugal living - debt is slavery!)

I tried - they told me that they can't accept that form of payment. I was stuck - no way to pay, no time to wait anymore. I came home and called on a job I'd interviewed for - the director was so impressed by my qualifications she'd asked the board to create a position for me. She told me they said "no."

I told Heidi, we cried - were at the end of our tether. We'd walked through every open door we could conceive of but we found ourselves stuck with nowhere to turn. In utter desperation we threw ourselves before God, complete with ashes on our faces - and cried out for help, we were at the very edge of our faith everything a huge question mark- Without hope or help.

then - God answered.

ten minutes later - the phone rang (no-it wasn't God - just one of his kids) with an offer for some work, then after I hung up from that call, the phone rang before I could get it back to the cradle, a second offer of work - longer hours, better rate - another company had just called the firm I was doing work for and asked for me BY NAME and they need me "ten minutes ago."

While I was out working, another call for yet one more interview and then the coup de grace for this pall that has hung over us for two months. A friend contacts Heidi - she'd heard of our plight and wired us some help - some resources to help us through. It was love disguised as money.

Not much has changed. We still need to dig out of this hole we are in - I still need capital "W" work, but something spiritual broke yesterday - I don't know what - but I felt it break somehow. I can't explain it - don't know if I ever will be able to - but I felt it in my spirit.

(Sorry if that's outside your box.)

Who is like our God?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Love wins


I had completed this Art piece months ago. I wanted to capture the notion that despite all of the hardship loving others can cause, in the end it is the singular truth for humanity. Love wins.

God used it today during worship in a way I was TOTALLY unprepared for. Peter asked a member of the congregation to close in song- but to just allow the song to be free form, to sing over us if you will. He did, and his words were to this effect: "The Fall of your life is over - now comes the spring." and "Love wins." He closed with an established chorus "Jesus friend for ever."

The intriguing part being the singer and I have never even met - he doesn't even know this art exists, nor did the phrase have any place or context in the "service proper" - it was a random, isolated comment. (there's more in the words but I'll have to wait for the MP3 to be posted to revisit them.)

It reminds me that God notices my creations and uses them - in my life and in the lives of others, my art matters to God. Some friends once told me that "as we trust our creative impulses - they become stronger." They are SO RIGHT!


Penso - Praesumo - Teneo!
(Ponder - Dare - Persist!)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Perfect is complete

I was reading

McNair's Blog

He mentioned L'Engel's comment on perfect meaning completion

Here's the first definition of perfect:
lacking nothing essential to the whole; complete of its nature or kind.

The authors of the NIV chose to use the word "perfect" several times. I took that and included the word "complete" in that spot in some verses. The shift in my thinking moved me to tears at times, read them if you'd like.

Matthew 19:21
Jesus answered, "If you want to be complete, go, sell your possessions and give
to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made complete in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 13:11
Finally, brothers, good-bye. Aim for completion, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

Philippians 3:12
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made complete, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Hebrews 10:14
because by one sacrifice he has made complete forever those who are being made holy.

Hebrews 12:2
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and completer of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Romans 12:2
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and complete will.

Matthew 5:48
Be complete, therefore, as your heavenly Father is complete.

1 Corinthians 13:10
... when completion comes, the incomplete disappears.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I heard my teeth clack together...

I was over at the University - doing some stuff in the basement. The old hand dug cellar beneath Clark Hall. As I began to walk up the stairs I struck the top of my head against the 8x8 beam above the stairs with such force that I heard my teeth clack together. I stumbled forward -dazed and rested against the steps - waiting for the room to stop spinning. I eventually went back upstairs (I don't know how long I was there) Once upstairs, I had one of the students tell me if both of my pupils were the same size.

I seem to be OK aside from a significant head-ache (maybe a mild concussion)coupled with stiff neck and shoulders - Tylenol helps.

S0 - for those of you advantaged in different ways other than height - remind yourself that while you may not be able to reach the top shelf from time to time, at least your head isn't struck on a regular basis.

I hope I'm actually typing this and not unconscious in a hospital somewhere. (JK)

Keith

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Update

I'm looking for updated email addresses please send me yours if you've changed it in the last 6 months

Love extravagantly,

Keith
Reflect-Dare-Persist

Sunday, February 26, 2006

It's not that I wanted to - I HAD to

Heidi and I often joke that there are pet peeves or habits that are so ingrained in us we can't resist ordering our world to fit them. It's like the guy who has to change the toilet paper roll so it rolls off of the top - he can't abide it the other way. Or checking for change in the public telephone. Silly small compulsions.

Heidi read this quote about typical evangelism to me and it has been widely handled in the blogoshpere - but I HAVE to include it - on the off chance that you dear reader haven't seen it or thought about it.

This happened, I think, when what ought to be an act of hospitality was transformed into an act of salesmanship. Salesmanship, whatever else it may be, is ultimately inhospitable.

We could go back and look at the causes of this perverse commodification of the gospel -- tracing the way that 19th-century evangelists like Charles Finney began adopting the techniques of salesmen, and how these techniques were further refined over the years by students of marketing like Bill Bright. But we needn't go into great detail here about how this happened to acknowledge that it has happened.

"Evangelism" today is not seen as the practice of hospitality, but as a kind of marketing scheme. It is not an invitation, but a sales pitch. Not a matter of "taste and see," but of "buy now." Or, to use one of my favorite descriptions of the work of evangelism, it is not "one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread," but rather one fat man trying to convince another fat man that he's a beggar in order to close the sale on another loaf.

Contemporary American-style evangelism is made even stranger by the fact that it seems devoid of content. It's become a turtles-all-the-way-down exercise with no apparent real bottom. Evangelism means, literally, the telling of good news. Surely there must be more to this good news than simply that the hearers of it become obliged to turn around and tell it to others. And those others, in turn, are obliged to tell still others the good news of their obligation to spread this news.
Mike Todd's Blog (and the history of the post's origins)

God save us from the corporate church!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Impeccable

I was reading with Heidi and the word "impeccable" came to my ears. It struck me that we so often use that idea to formulate our notion of spirituality. It means:

im·pec·ca·ble (adjective)

1. Having no flaws; perfect.
2. Incapable of sin or wrongdoing.

There was an inch or two of snow on the driveway this morning - the perfect whiteness was beautiful. Everything harmonized by a blanket of snow. When I went out to shovel it all off of the driveway I felt a little sad. I had to trade this clean look for the inevitable slush and mess that would follow.

As I looked more carefully at the snow I found one lone piece of salt resisting it's influence. It was holding out - making the beautiful white painting inconsistent - marred somehow. Just by being what it was - salt - the snow could not be what it was at least not in the same way.

When we see ourselves (or others) in the light of trying to be "impeccable" we commit
ourselves instantly to failure. Many will try to set the bar as high as they dare and then point wildly and shout "See look! Spirituality! Impeccability! It's possible!" But it's not. It looks good from afar, and at a glance, but once you look and see - it's marred by the salt on the driveway. It has to be - it's us.

I think that true spirituality is the unflinching gaze inward while Christ holds the magnifying glass. All He wants is for us to see ourselves as we truly are - how He sees us all the time. Once we do that the wonder of His love and the urge to rush to Him for healing and help will overwhelm us.

The "Impeccable Ideal" is out there for sale by all kinds of people, (usually on their 99 cent table) It seems to be the special favorite of those who throw words like "success," "excellence" and "efficiency" around.

How can I look intently at myself and the risen Christ of God and think any of those things? Mostly when I actually allow myself to look at Him and myself intentionally the words that come to me are "Why?" and "Thank-you!" My spirituality is messy organic and unpredictable - it's more like seasons and tides than strategies, stated goals, and talking points.

I can't take anymore the "Impeccable" guilt-mongers - Please just take your discount spirituality away - and if the door hits you in the butt on the way out - thanks for the laugh.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

And you thought you were having a bad day!


BERLIN (Reuters) - A Bavarian village was flooded by liquid pig manure after a tank containing the fertilizer burst, German police said Wednesday.

Sewage rose to 20 inches in the courtyards and streets of Elsa after gushing from the tank, which held some 240,000 litres of pig manure.(The tank would have to be over 20 feet high and 23 feet in diameter for that volume - as big as a house!)

"The village was swamped with green-brown liquid and it was pig manure -- the mother-of-all muck," said Rainer Prediger, a police spokesman in the nearby town of Coburg.

TWENTY INCHES! OVER HALF A METER of poo.

That is CAPITAL "N" nasty!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Know thyself

As you might imagine, my self assurance etc. has taken a bit of a hit in this process.

A friend suggested that I use this tool (Here's the link) to get an objective picture of myself. So at the risk of being a bit egotistical could you pick six words from the list and help me out?

It should take less than a minute.

All I ask is that you're candid, and honest.

Thanks,

Keith

Thursday, February 16, 2006

OK looking for a job sucks.

I'm tired and cold. Bone cold tired. Tired of guessing and waiting - tired of calling and hoping. Tired of sweaters and blankets and numb fingers.

I got news today that I am on an interview list that will eventually turn into a meeting - yeah another hurdle! I have different interview tomorrow too. I am thankful for them both, but tonight I'm tired.

I was doing follow-up calls and got told by one company they never got my resume. I KNOW I sent it, I know that the address was right, but they never got it.
For the price of the stamp I could have DRIVEN it to the address - thanks Canada Post!

I called one employer and the HR staff let me know that after they had a call back from the layoff (ie: in about a month)they'll have need for workers - starting wage? $7.15/hr (Uh - nevermind.)

God is with the poor. I would hear that and even say it - but it never was me. The poor were them. Even after having walked this hard road before, the un-named they were "the poor" not me. Even now I'm not poor - I'm broke, there's a BIG difference.
(Although my pride would say otherwise.)

God grant that I may know what it is to be content even in this. Job said it best - "Shall I accept only good from the Lord?" It's easier to write about pain and lack than it is to experience them. Perhaps I will enjoy my dinner a bit more fully and my rest more deeply after this valley? But can I rest in it? May He grant me grace.

Blessed be God - the kingdom is not made of things, but heart and passion and sinew, it is of love and sacrifice and loss. (It's about joy and laughter and rest and a thousand other things too, but that seems to be another chapter than the one we are on at present)

Hope. Pray that hope comes - the comfort of hope is that even though there is cold rain above - the horizon promises bluer skies and warmer days.

The Lord lives, and we in Him - may we rest in that.

Monday, February 13, 2006

What a friend pain is to me

Some of you are aware that I am currently job searching. We are reaching into savings just to stay afloat and that is a finite resource - not to mention the funds I had hoped to use for school.

I am writing this to ask for your prayers. It would be easy to only ask for the obvious - a job - and I certainly want one! But I believe there is more to be learned in the waiting and the fear than "God will come through in the end!"

I've been thinking lately of what a friend pain is to me. I have this physical quirk - a literal pain that shoots up the left side of my neck whenever I start to deal with issues close to my heart and soul. It feel like a hot knife. It's sharp painful and unpleasant - demanding my instant attention.

I hated it for the better part of forty years - it was to be avoided. It was a clear indication that the issue I was dealing with at that moment, needed to be buried fast and my mind distracted. It is my "pain in the neck."

Pain and discomfort are a help to me spiritually. I am told by my culture to seek fun and comfort. I am told by my faith to seek Jesus. The two are seldom the same thing. (see: Mortification of the flesh - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia )

So WHILE I am walking this part of the road - won't you ask God to bolster my courage, to settle the panic and increase my faith. I am dealing with shame guilt and low self esteem, but God is most close when we feel our greatest need.

These days are hard and I begin to wonder if what I believe about myself is true, since those I have been asking to consider my services tend to be take their time gettng back to me. Please ask God to buttress my faith - our faith, to make us more like Him through this, after all that's what really matters. It's certainly not that God can't have me set and ready to go by the morning - so I am watching and listening to see what that may be.

I want to close with a word of thanks. Some of you have heard how tough things are and have graciously helped. Thank-you so much. Your practical help has come at just the right time and in just the right way to encourage our hearts and meet our physical needs.

It's hard to stand in the place of the receiver when you feel much more comfortable being the giver. But that's another post...

Love extravagantly,

Keith

OK so I moved my blog

Hi all,

I moved my blog here because the service is better and more versatile and still free. It's an easier interface and over all just a better deal.

So now you know.

Keith

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Turner Family Blog???

Where did it go? What's happened here??

Don't panic - there is still a Turner Family Blog - we just migrated it here:

Turner Family Blog

I have been using "Keep Imagining" over at blog.com, but it's a slow, low quality server and so he has moved here to blogspot.

Please continue to visit here - and stop on over to the family blog at www.theturnerfamilyblog.blogspot.com

Thanks!