Wednesday, February 13, 2008

organic church movements conference 2008

I plan to write a lot more about this later, but for now, here are some pictures of our trip. We did actually attend the sessions and met some great people and learned a lot but don't have any pictures to show for that part!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

35,000 people

I just read this quote in the latest House2House E-letter in reference to the current crisis in Kenya:

"I recently read a story that is told of Tony Campolo preaching at a Christian conference that may help highlight how insensitive we have become to tragedies such as this. He opened his sermon by saying something to the effect that "yesterday over 35,000 people died of starvation, most of them children. Here in the West the reality is that most of us don't give a sh*t!" Then pausing for a moment, Campolo continued, "Think about it, most of you were more offended by me using the word "sh*t" than you were by learning that over 35,000 people a day die of starvation."

I was one of those who was more shocked by the word sh*t, how about you? It really goes to show how insensitive we are to the atrocities that are happening daily around the world. God help us!

Honestly it seems overwhelming sometimes, but we have started looking for needs around us and trying to help meet them. It really isn't that tough, just paying more attention to where the needs are and doing something about it. The main thing is to never stop giving.

Monday, February 4, 2008

incarnational ministry

Phillippians 2:1-11 has always been one of my favorite scriptures, but it has taken one much more meaning in the past few years as we have been more involved in ministry. I've always been a Penn State fan and will continue to be, but the Buckeyeness of Columbus has started to rub off on us too. Now since I am actually studying at OSU, it's even more of a pull. So, I'm learning if we are going to truly aculturate to life in Columbus that means that we need to become Buckeyes too. Now by no means am I giving up on being a Penn State fan, but rather I've decided to become a Buckeye too. (OK, so Jesus was God and man at the same time, that was a bit different, but isn't it possible for me to take on a Penn State and Ohio State nature as well?)
Now, to come clean, my passion for sports has actually been waning lately, I didn't even watch the super bowl yesterday and didn't even care. (Didn't watch the BCS national championship either) Frankly, I've realized that there are so many things that are much more worthy of my time! Sports really aren't all that important.
This past weekend we had the chance to enjoy being Buckeyes as we went to an even for grad students and their families at OSU. It was president E. Gordon Gee's birthday and he decided to throw a party by inviting all graduate and professional students to watch The Wizard of Oz and join him, Brutus (the buckeye) and the Oz characters for cupcakes afterward. We had a really great time and even got to sit next to Gaby's teacher in the theatre since her boyfriend is a med student at OSU. Here is a glimpse at the festivities.

Here we are signing in before the movie. Naty and I were both impressed with how well organized the whole event was. It truly was a treat to be there.

Gaby was brave enough to go with Brutus, Marcus just cried, he didn't like him at all!!!

Here we are with the president. It was really neat to meet Dr. Gee he is very well loved at OSU and in all Columbus as a whole. I think he is probably even more popular than the mayor!

We even got to meet the Oz characters.

Marcus wasn't scared of these guys though!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

latest photos

making disciples

The past two weeks I've been thinking a lot about one of my goals for 2008: making disciples that make disciples. What is a disciple? How do we make them? I'm reading the gospel of John right now and It's interesting to see how Jesus called his first disciples. He said "follow me." and they followed. If only it were that easy!
We read and talked about that scripture with our house church last night and it was a very powerful time. Some of the people in our group said that they didn't think that they had ever been discipled even though they had been in the church for a number of years. One person also said that they didn't think that "making disciples" is a command for all people, only those who are gifted!
How can this be? It blew me away when I heard it! But as they were talking my mind flashed back to a conversation that I had with one of my mentors earlier yesterday morning. We were discussing how there really needs to be a distinction made between disciple and church. Christianity has been so concerned with making churches that we have forgotten to make disciples. Making disciples must be our first priority, church comes later with the clustering of disciples. For so long we have focused on church and finding peoples gifts so that they can serve in the church, but we haven't really taken the time to disciple them to be like Jesus. We've been more concerned that they can be good ushers, Sunday school teachers, worship leaders, pastors, nursery helpers, sound technicians, elders and deacons but we haven't made them into disciples first. Now this probably isn't the case all the time, but I'm wondering how often it does happen? Probably more than you think. Since modern church runs like a well oiled machine too much time has been spent trying to be sure that people can "connect" or be "plugged in" to church to make it work better, but we haven't taken the time to truly disciple them.
Shoot, some churches I know of have "Discipleship Classes" 101, 201, 301 etc. Nothing wrong with that if you want to teach people and get them connected to church, but I don't think that the disciple making that Jesus did ever happened in classes. It happened in real life. Eating, drinking, walking, praying, fishing and yes teaching too, but always "in context" and in a "hands-on" way.
So, almost two months ago I wrote an entry about multiplying churches. Now I see that isn't nearly as important as making disciples. If fact, I need to stop thinking so much about church and start thinking more about being and making disciples. So I guess its bust instead of multiplication for now.
Then, after we have some disciples, we can start to talk about church again. I think I'm going to have even more questions about that by the time we get there!

Friday, February 1, 2008

the politics of jesus

I had a day of from school today thanks to some ice early this morning. It wasn’t really that bad at all, but I wasn’t going to complain.

So I went with Gaby and Marcus to the library to restock on books and videos for them and I picked up John Howard Yoder’s The Politics of Jesus that I had reserved. I read four of the chapters that I was most interested in and thought I’d post a brief review of what I learned. The book is quite extensive and academic and I just picked up Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna this afternoon and I want to read it too, so I’m going to put the Yoder book aside for now but here’s a summary of what I gleaned from it.

Being and making disciples has replaced church multiplication as my current passion again so I jumped to the 7th chapter “The Disciple of Christ and the Way of Christ” first. The chapter was laid out as an outline with scripture verses and comments in between. I found the outline to be quite helpful and wanted to put it here. This isn’t my original work, but Yoder’s.

I. The disciple/participant and the love of God

a. Sharing the divine nature as the definition of Christian existence

b. Forgive as God has forgiven you

c. Love indiscriminately as God does

II. The disciple/participant and the Life of Christ

a. Being in Christ as the definition of Christian existence

b. Having died with Christ and sharing his risen life

c. Loving as Christ loved, giving himself

d. Serving others as he served

e. Subordination

III. The disciple/participant and the Death of Christ

a. Suffering with Christ as the definition of apostolic existence

b. Sharing in divine condescension (Phil. 2) (Hirsch would call it incarnational)

c. Give your life as he did

d. Suffering servanthood in place of dominion

e. Accept innocent suffering without complaint as he did

f. Suffer with or like Christ the hostility of the world, as bearers of the kingdom cause.

g. Death is liberation from the power of sin

h. Death is the fate of the prophets; Jesus, whom we follow, was already following them

i. Death is victory

Thanks to my western worldview, it was very helpful for me to see a linear presentation of what it means to be a disciple.

The thesis of the entire book is that the life and ministry of Jesus has a social/political dimension that we ought to follow. I was struck the most by how following Jesus leads to the cross. We get to the cross the way Jesus did as well by being both a threat to established religion as well as the state while following an agenda of nonviolent resistance that really isn’t meant to bother the established order but eventually does so anyway. Last weekend I watched the movie Gandhi again and was impressed by his determination and equally impressed with Martin Luther King and his quest. They aren’t on the same scale as Jesus’ quest, but were similar and I found it interesting that the journeys of all three ended with martyrdom. I was struck again reading this book, how if we really are going to live as Jesus did, it will be radical and may lead to a premature death just as it did for him. Hard core.

One final thought that I read was that we have often considered the “Golden Rule” to be the key concept of Jesus’ ethic: “do to others as you would have them do to you.” Yoder calls this the center of the law but that Jesus established a “new commandment” which is: “Do as I have done to you” or “Do as the Father did in sending his son.” Reminds me of another book I skimmed called “What DID Jesus Do.” WWJD was catchy and sold lots of silly “made in China” bracelets, what really matters is what Jesus DID for us and the whole world and that is what we are called to do as well.

I wish I had the time to read the whole book, maybe I’ll get to more of it later but I think I’m off to Pagan Christianity for now.