Saturday, March 27, 2010

Radical Series

So we have eight days left before Easter and I am going to throw out a challenge:

Listen / watch an approximately one hour message once each day.

The sermon series is eight sermons long, so if you set aside one hour each day/night you should be able to listen to it all by next Saturday night, the night before Easter (in order to do this you might have to sacrifice American Idol or The Bachelor or The Office, or business plans, or Facebook, or blogs or whatever else we waste our time with each night, but it is well worth it, or better said, He is well worth it). If you choose to take up this challenge, Serenity and I will be listening through the series with you. You could even come back to this post and write comments / questions for all of us to think about and discuss.

Post a comment below if you plan to take up the challenge so that I know I'm not talking to myself :) (make sure it isn't an anonymous comment, that would be hard to keep you accountable)

Here is the link to the sermon series: Radical Series, Church at Brook Hills


Friday, March 26, 2010

Nominal Christianity

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. This quote summed up some of my processing quite nicely:

"The Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of derelict, half-built towers - the ruins of those who began to build and were unable to finish. For thousands of people still ignore Christ's warning and undertake to follow him without first pausing to reflect on the cost of doing so. The result is the great scandal of Christendom today, so-called 'nominal Christianity'. In countries to which Christian civilization has spread, large numbers of people have covered themselves with a decent, but thin, veneer of Christianity. They have allowed themselves to become somewhat involved; enough to be respectable but not enough to be uncomfortable. Their religion is a great, soft cushion. It protects them from the hard unpleasantness of life, while changing its place and shape to suit the convenience. no wonder the cynics speak of hypocrites in the church and dismiss religion as escapism."

From John Stott's Basic Christianity

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I know this is satirical, but it could legitimately happen, and as satirical as it sounds, Murray Hill Inc. REALLY is running for congress. Did you know that corporations are legally considered a person?

I heard an NPR interview with the CEO of Murray Hill Inc. He claims all they want to do is "cut the middle-man out of politics." Murray Hill Inc. is only a 5 year old corporation, so I think they will have some difficulties getting voting rights.

Monday, March 15, 2010

non-conformity does not mean uniformity

We had another opportunity to head out to our Alma mater, George Fox University, and hear a peace and justice activist share about their heart for, well, peace and justice. This time it was Shane Claiborne. As I wrote in the previous post, Claiborne recently co-authored a book with fellow activist John Perkins called Follow me to Freedom: Leading and Following as an Ordinary Radical. Shane was scheduled to speak about new monasticism, but I think he just shares his heart and talks about whatever he feels led to speak about.

Towards the end of the message, he opened it up for questions and one guy in the back asked where we should draw the line when giving folks food or money, etc. A question we have been asked many, many times. Shane responded by saying: "On judgment day, Jesus isn't going to look at you and say, 'man, you were way too generous." Now, I completely understand the argument about enabling and how even when we give out food we are just freeing up the cash flow for some drug addict or alcoholic to purchase his next fix, but I truly do believe we should simply love --
"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8
The example I have always given when posed with this question (which once again is a good one, and there are no easy answers) is when Jesus encounters the poor or the lame I don't recall him ever asking if they had gotten into the situation because of poor choices of their own, Jesus doesn't judge them before he helps them. I don't recall Jesus telling the blind or the lame that he will only heal them on one condition, that they no longer sin and live blameless lives. We are simply called to love.

Claiborne speaks mostly on peace -- and gradually, slowly I have come to embrace this viewpoint, not just Claiborne's viewpoint, but one that can be traced back to the fountain, to Jesus himself. I know that we all know Jesus preached a message of peace, but how many of us live this out? How many of us embrace this message but go on to condemn abortion clinics? Abortion is inherently wrong, obviously, but as Christians we need to have as much of a belief in the sanctity of the unborn as we do the sanctity of the Afghan or Iraqi children -- even if that belief collides with the attitude of our nation.

Claiborne showed the following video which completely blew my mind and revealed how so many "believers" have blurred the lines between their faith and their nation:

Scary. Another quote from Claiborne: "[Christians] should be the ones who are most difficult to convince that violence does any good."

Three years ago Shane Claiborne was one of the most popular speakers in the evangelical world. From Southern Baptists to Quakers, his message was heeded. His message was and is challenging -- it challenges the powerful, including Christians in power. Most of his message is directed at those in power and questions how we, as Christians, can take part in a system that creates poverty, death and destruction. Eventually his popularity has went from the darling of the evangelical world to controversial, and banned from speaking. Although not a direct correlation, Martin Luther King Jr. was similarly treated when he began to speak out against the "Vietnam conflict." In his Beyond Vietnam speech, King called the United States "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." Red-blooded Americans don't like it when you preach peace, even red-blooded Christian Americans. Gradually King lost much of his mainstream support and less than one year after giving the Beyond Vietnam speech, was assassinated. Many conspiracy theorists and some historians claim that King was assassinated due to his stance on peace and justice rather than his stance on racial equality and civil rights.

Interestingly enough, in the same speech, Beyond Vietnam, King said, "true compassion is more than flinging a coin to a comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring." Or as Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day wrote, "our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy rotten system." The prophet Amos spoke a similar message more than 2,600 years ago condemning the Nation of Israel for accepting the new moral code and embracing an economy of haves and have nots. Claiborne's message isn't a new one but this message is just as important in this time and place as any other time in history.