Month: February 2007

Seems Carson should read Davis …

Assumptions undermine conversations. In fact many times presuppositions not only inhibit talking with one another, but also bring anything resembling dialogue to a complete halt. I recently sent a letter to our church community suggesting we consider, "Where we are going?" in light of Jesus going to Jerusalem, Calvary and the Empty Tomb. Someone construed this as an opportunity to assume we would be interjecting another church’s methodology. Assumptions we would be implementing this strategy eliminated, in some minds, the occasion to have a conversation, dialogue or talk with one another.

Rick offers some thoughts growing from his own experiences at leading and talking with folks about new ways to network for the good of the Kingdom of God. He follows up here. Bob illustrates Rick’s post  giving a description of his dinner with D.A. Carson. Pay careful attention to Bob taking it in the face.

I am left thinking at some point the practice of the ethic of Jesus must trump my long held beliefs when it comes to relationships with others. How will we ever be heard if our tone contradicts the command to love one another?

Justice has come … Jesus has come …

" … learn to do good, seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause …" (Is.1:17)

Stacy sent a link to this video.


Mentors … Bringing Me To Tears …

ModelingChristian ethical development requires mentors to model. Our current church models for developing ethics in our young people is largely accidental. My assertion stems from experiences with adults who grew up in church and how they often mishandle relationships in the context of church. These thoughts came to mind as I read Hauerwas and Willimon describe a suggested path of ethical formation for their particular denominational framework. Please note this does not mean what the suggest cannot be adopted to fit any group intent to partner with parents in helping young people develop the ethic of Jesus.

The key element came in connecting young people one-on-one with an adult mentor in an intentional relationship. They offer a few of the elements of the suggested project,

-Read the Gospel  of  Luke together. As each of you reads at home, keep a note pad with you and note those passages which you find interesting, confusing, inspiring. Every two weeks, make some time to discuss what you have read.
-Attend Sunday services together for the next three months. After each service, discuss your reactions, questions, impressions of the service.
-Get a copy of our church’s budget. Find out where our money goes. Discuss together how each of you decides to make a financial commitment to the church.
-Attend any board meeting of our church together during the next three months. Decide what congregational board or committee you would like to be on at the end of the Confirmation process.
-Explain, in your own words, "Why I like being a United Methodist Christian." Discuss two areas in which you would like to know more about our church. Ask our pastor or church librarian to help you find this information.
-Attend a funeral and a wedding at our church together. After the service, discuss "Where was God at this service?" "Why is the church involved in these services?"
-Spend at least fifteen hours volunteering at Greenville Urban Ministries, or one of the other service agencies our church helps to support. Why is the church involved here? (Resident Aliens,p.106-107)

Hauerwas and Willimon offer a couple of stories which note the mentoring works both ways. Some today are calling for reverse-mentoring. That is, older Christians being mentored by younger Christians in order to understand the different ways we view the world. In either case there is a great need to work in an intentional way to help our young people learn the ethic of Jesus.

A final story in this chapter (5) brought me to tears. The pastor of one congregation persuaded one of the women in his church who had been assaulted to seek help from a therapist for the trauma. In an attempt to help work through the ordeal the therapist suggested the woman find someone to whom she could tell her story. She relayed the notion to her pastor. The pastor asked who she had decided to tell.

    She said, "I think I will tell Sam Smith." Sam Smith was a sometimes recovering alcoholic in the congregation.
    The pastor was surprised. He thought that she would have preferred telling another woman, even another man who was a bit more "together" than Sam Smith.
    "Why Sam?" the pastor asked.
    "Because Sam has been to hell and back," she said. "I think he will know what it has felt like for me to go there. Perhaps he can tell me how to get back."(Resident Aliens,p.110)

Our mentoring experiences, "normal" or "reverse," will be full of times where we learn the ethic of Jesus from unlikely sources. What we need is to create intentional means to assist our young people along the way.

Season ending evaluation … Starbury’s come through just fine …

Starbury_3Leaving the gym last night after our season ending loss in the tournament Jeremy asked, "How about those Starbury’s?" Doubtless I did not put them through the rigors Marbury has or does. Yet, at the end of my first season playing in my Starbury’s I am still and advocate. They performed well even when I did not. Maybe next year I will live up to the hype I have given these shoes. Then again …

Seeing the world in a new way …

How we see the world matters. Apologists point up the competing "worldviews" in an effort to both educate people "in the church" and reason with those "outside the church." A person may register for an academy to help them live out of a "biblical worldview." Whose "biblical worldview" do we utilize? Will we look below the surface to see just how connected we are to the worldviews we battle?

We assert objectivity as we compare these worldviews. Is that possible? How do I objectively evaluate the comfort of a chair? Once I have discovered the comfort of a "Lazy-Boy" I may deem all other chairs "uncomfortable." A padded folding chair is less comfortable than a padded "Stacker II" with lumbar support. The "Lazy-Boy" outdistances both the padded folding chair and the "Stacker II." I only know this once I sit in the chair. Certainly I may read the research. But if my choices are a rock or the padded folding chair then the folding chair wins the day. In the end, my backside may well tell me more about the comfort of a chair. My experience with the chair is subjective knowledge.

We find it difficult to strip away the layers of our own cultural embeddedness to see the world in a new way. Our way of seeing youth culture, for example, is expressly connected with ways to make life fun. We are supposed to wait until we are older for our lives to be meaningful. The reason many experience mid-life crises comes when faced with the question, "Does my life have meaning?" When the answer is not clear everything we have ever done comes is called into question. If there is no meaning then why not throw caution to the wind – let’s have some fun.

Divorcing the eschatological realities of the Kingdom of God from our way of seeing the world results in not seeing the world in a new way. Our resulting values and ethics remain largely influenced by the way we always viewed the world. Instead we make superficial adjustments. Richard Foster, in Celebration of Discipline, asserts "superficiality is the curse of our age."

Pointing out some of the further implications of not seeing the world in a new way, Hauerwas and Willimon note,

    The removal of eschatology from ethics may account for the suffocating moralism in our church. Moralism comes up with a list of acceptable virtues and suitable causes, the pursuit of which will gie us self-fulfillment. "The Be Happy Attitudes." Or Christianity is mainly a matter of being tolerant of other people, inclusive, and open – something slightly left of the Democratic party. Being Christian becomes being someone who is a little more open-minded than someone who is not. E. Stanley Jones said that we inoculate the world with a mild form of Christianity so that it will be immune to the real thing. The aim of such inoculation is security – not security in Christ, but security from Christ and from having to rely on him and the shape of his Kingdom to give meaning and significance to our lives.
    Without eschatology, we are left with only a baffling residue of strange commands, which see utterly impractical and ominous. We ignore the commands on divorce and lash out at our people on peace. The ethic of Jesus thus appears to be either utterly impractical or utterly burdensome unless it is set within its proper context – an eschatologcial, messianic community, which knows something the world does not and structures its life accordingly.(Resident Aliens,p.90)

Until we see the world differently, we cannot begin to talk about "worldview."