Friday, October 28, 2005

Surface diving with Jesus


I have been thinking quite a bit lately about who it is that Christ calls us to be. I think we often fall into the trap of thinking that if we are following Christ, our lives will begin to appear a certain way to others. If we experince success in following Christ, perhaps we are correct in our assumptions that certain areas begin to improve; perhaps church attendance, longer prayer times, social service projects etc. But what if we begin to fail? What then? Do we continue to live in a way that we, on the inside, know is really faking it? Do we become posers so that we don't let the ball drop for others, all the while, spreading ourselves thin running marathons while we are secretly dying of thirst?

There is a vast difference between the Christian your parents want you to be and the Christian Jesus Christ calls us to be. While your parents might require good grades, clean language, Sunday School attendance, and mowing the neighbor's yard, these are all good things that may be great strides in a persons walk with Christ. These, however, are marks of being a good citizen, not the person Christ calls us to be. So I guess my question is, what does it look like to truly be a follower of Christ?

In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus takes the "good citizenship rules" of the day, and puts a new spin on them. "You have heard it said of old do not kill people, or you will be judged, but I say to you, if you are even angry with a person, you will be judged." "Why do you bring offerings to the alter when you have a relationship that needs mending back at home with your own brother?"(paraphrased)

Jesus takes a simple principle that everyone of the day knew was wrong, murder. It is obvious what the law says about murder, but Jesus wants to focus on the condition of the heart, so he turns the law on its ear, and challenges the listerners to think. They are on the surface; he wants them(us) to go below the surface. It is a differnt world underwater, they say.

Shall we go diving?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Change is good

My wife said she was tired of coming to my blog site and seeing the "Homeboy" blog. For all three of my readers out there, I have been taking intensive Hebrew this summer, thus, the posts have stopped all together.

My goal is to finish this summer session and begin blogging on a regular basis. I think it is good for me to reflect, forming ideas, organinzing them, and putting them in a format that others can see, comment on, and dialogue with me concerning these thoughts. I guess that is what a blog is for. See my blog links for some other cool blogs that belong to my buddies. If you measured a man's wealth by the quality of his friends, I would be the richest man in town, just like George Bailey in Its a Wonderful Life.

I promise to post more soon, so keep checking back in.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Jesus is my homeboy


I spent last night talking with my friend Josh about the need we all have to feel like we are doing something of value. Whether it be work for the kingdom, work in a career setting, or odd jobs around the house. There is this overwhelming feeling that we must always be productive. But month I have had off from school has taught me much about rest, a true sabbath. For the last few months, I have been changed by my reading of John 15. This is the "vine and branches" chapter in which Jesus talks to his disciples about abiding in him. The verse that has remained and resonated with me is this,

"I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I call you friends, for everything I have learned from the Father, I have made known to you." John 15:15

The understanding of the magnitude of this verse brings together the entire Gospel for me. This is what grace looks like. Befriending the undesireable. Jesus desires a friendship with us so deep that where he begins and we end is a seemless connection. It isn't a "Jesus is my boyfriend" or "I take Jesus to the mall with me" or like the irreverant but popular t-shirt "Jesus is my homeboy" relationship. It is abiding and remaining in him; experiencing true atonement. This is what the relentless grace of the friedship of Christ is, that we could be considered more than simply servants of the king, but his friends and heirs to the kingdom.

All this pursuit of "doing" seems frivolous in light of this reality.

Monday, June 27, 2005

A Thought Continued...

I posted previously about "learning to think" but a fellow blogger suggested that I also look at it from the point of view of "learning to see." This reminded me of a poignent scene from one of my favorite movies, The Matrix.

From The Matrix:

Neo: Why do my eyes hurt?

Morpeus: Because you have never used them before.

This conversation occurs with Neo, lying on his back on a recovery table with Morpheus and Dozer observing his vital signs and nursing him to full health. Neo has just been released from the growing fields where humans are harvested for their energy.

For those that aren't into the sci-fi movie genre, Neo has been given freedom in life through learning the truth about reality. It is the truth he was after that compelled him to take the red pill, and follow Morpheus down the rabbit hole.

Neo's eyes hurt because he was really seeing for the first time in his life. This is what I was getting at in my previous post about having our senses shocked. Maybe it is simpler than that; Maybe, just maybe, we need to open our eyes. Is the church living a life with her eyes closed, or does she see? When we behold Christ, what is it that we see?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Learning to think

I have have made the observation that since beginning seminary about a year and a half ago, the way I think has been transformed. My mind doesn't necessarily work better, faster, or more intuitively. No, its just different. It is as if I have learned all over again how to think. It is the way in which I process information, as if filters that were once in place before have now been removed. Again, I don't feel any smarter, in fact I feel quite the opposite at times. Perhaps simply stated, I feel more atuned to my surroundings. All this got me thinking about the church and how she interacts with the enviornment that surrounds her, that she is living in the midst of. (see my links www.farmstrong.blogspot.com and see post titled StarWars or StarPeace?)

In a book I recently recently read by Richard Bauckham, Bauckham discusses the author of the book of Revelation and his intent to use imagery in such a way as to teach the seven churches to learn to think again. John uses certain imagery to shock the senses of the churches, bringing them into a fantastical world of multiple headed creatures, beasts, and harlots, weaving an apocalyptic and prophetic book into a form that would bring these people into an understanding of the great evil that was all around them. They had been so de-sensitized by their oppression and began to assimilate so deeply into Roman culture, they had begun to forget who they were, the church. They needed to be taught to think again. They needed the blinders they were wearing to be removed.

This is also what Christ was doing when he taught in parables and with the Beatitudes. "You have heard it said of old...but I say to you..." He turned tradition and modern values upside down. Perhaps, in our culture, we too have been de-sensitized. Like the seven churches addressed by John, do we too need to re-learn how to think? Have we forgotten our story? Are we truly atuned to our enviornment, or are there things happening (good and bad) around us that we aren't even aware of?

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Not your garden variety movie

Last night, my wife and I watched Garden State. For anyone that has not seen this movie, it is truly a beautiful cinema experience. It draws on so many emotions; fear, rejection, anger, joy, confusion, reconciliation, and love. Garden State is one of the best things I have seen in a while, and I am thankful Zach Braff made it.

There was a scene in this film that made me laugh harder than I have in a long time. The main character and the girl he fancies are at his friends house in the back yard. His friend has a bow and arrow. His friend shoots the arrow, which by the way has a flaming tip, straight up in the air, and the aerial view shows the three of them scrambling around in the yard, trying to avoid being hit by the sailing flamed weapon. I laughed so hard and Alison, couldn't figure out why I couldn't stop. At a slow point in the movie, I told her a story from my high school days.

When I was in high school, a friend of mine were in his backyard and his dad and his drinking buddies were standing around looking at one of the guys' new Bear compound bow. They had been drinking and one of the guys decided to do the same brilliant thing the character in the movie does, shoot an arrow straight up in the air. The problem was, there were about ten of us and we were all in a significantly smaller backyard. Luckily, no one was hurt, but the hilarity of the memory remains, eight grown men and two teenagers scrambling for cover because some middle aged guy with too much Michelobe decided to show off his new toy.

Needless to say, this movie brought back many memories from high school, of going home and catching up with old friends. I am sure I will have more to say about this movie later.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

A Hungry Church

I began seminary a little over a year ago and at times of great frustration and weariness, it never fails that I am somehow brought back to the land of the living by a moment of encouragement, a word, an idea. Affirmation as to why I am here save the day once again. Friday in class, one of my favorite professors said something quite remarkable. She said this:

"The church is starving to death with a storage room full of food."

I thought of how if you were to ask the church herself about how she feels about this statement, she would deny and wouldn't even understand how someone could think this.

I believe that the American church is starving and doesn't even know it. The church, in her present state may look healthy and full of life, yet underneath the exterior of great buildings and landscaping, she is emaciated, gaunt and dying. She has seemed to stray far from what Christ has intended her to be. Self help sermons and programs are all that people are receiving from the pulpits. The Word of God, the message of Christ, and the story of how He has redeemed His people are now absent and virtually non-existent.

My professor went on to say that the leaders of the church are the only ones with the key to the storage rooms full of food. The burden of feeding this starving people falls on the shoulders of us seminarians, missionaries, leaders, poets and wordsmiths, artists, laymen and laywomen.

Let's call a church gathering and meet at the storage room and unlock the door.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Here we go

Funny, I set this blog up in January and am just now sitting down to write. One friend who visited called it a "non-blog" or "un-blog," something like that. I have been putting it off for a number of reasons. Another friend finally told me I needed to get something up, a quote, an intro, something. Here we are.

As a seminary student, many of my thoughts are analyzed and critiqued. I suppose this is why I have been hesitant to begin. But I consider myself a sojourner, one that is on a journey, striving toward something, other than graduation. These things I am moving toward are not always clear, but there is something compelling about the journey itself. I think of Frodo and the Ring, and how he knew he had a journey before him, yet he had no idea what he would encounter. This is not an attempt to let others read my thoughts that I think they would find interesting. It is an attempt, however, to be a part of this journey I have embarked upon.


here we go...