Conversation Like Ships in the Night

Does each and every slant, lean or concept of the emerging/emergent movement line up with the Bible or long-respected Christian tradition? Of course not.

There are traditions, some long-held, we largely now find to be less core to solid biblical exegesis than formerly thought.

There was a time few Protestants thought dancing was kosher, ditto playing cards, seeing a movie, that sort of thing.

In my view one of the very best values of the emerging church movement is a foundational concept of "the conversation".

Several in our Christian community discovered a powerful phrase some years ago in a book on conflict resolution where the author rightly stated: "the conversation IS the relationship."

My conclusion over many years of stumbling around trying to communicate and receive communication from others in all and any mode is that at times we don't really want a relationship, rather, we want to win an argument!

It's not a mutual-respect thing at times -nor even close to trying to figure out if there is good reason TO respect one another. Sometimes it boils down to control and domination, and the justification of MY attitude as being the correct one, period.

At times it indeed gets ridiculous, becomes about my or the other party's win or lose a stake in something we deem important. Sometimes it's only about winning or losing an argument- a sort of debate-team situation where either or both of us try to score points.

As most reading this realize, the end of such discussions is often worse than the beginning. We begin to just blow the other person off considering them warped, ignorant, or just irrelevant and not worthy of having a conversation with.

Arrogance? Pride? Fear? Insecurity? Some or all of the above? Information or theory without real fact and practice to back it up? Plenty of experience but merely in one's own province where a number of the points simply don't apply to the other's actual situation?

There are many varied reasons why communication breaks down and the people involved split apart, especially in the more extreme and passionate "no-compromise" issues of life.

Sometimes separation is best for one or both.

Then again, no communication, no relationship.

How can I, via my Lord's command love my "neighbor as" myself when I don't value any sort of communication with the person?

Trust me, I'm hearing all the possible exits in my head even as I write but in the end it's about love and respect because God loves and tells us to treat others with both.

Is everyone "due" respect, honor and agreement? No. Including me. Including you. Sometimes…

But what a different church and world it would be (and will be for the redeemed one day, thank God!) if we worked harder at gracious communication.

I have often been the king of "in-your-face" and admit it can really be difficult to NOT simply "talk over" and eventually just write someone off, just consider them unworthy of a chat about much of anything.

But I am not convinced that is the way of Christ!

Finally, when discussing matters of deep concern to you or I, we often aren't even slightly open to listen to another viewpoint.

I am a Bible-centric, church-history-centric, human-history loving person who loves to research and find factual, verifiable information that lands rock solid in the middle of my personal views.

That does not mean I know all, understand all, far less that I can at every moment in life properly communicate by both listening and reasoning and with humility, give-and-take.

We must all admit sometimes our conversations are rather "one-way", me-to-you and more of a preach than an exchange or dialogue.

I have recently gotten some of this from others and realized the core issues I raised were not going to be addressed. That is, a position was taken, ultimatums and dictims (and dogma) were simply stated and my words and the other's words passed one another, rarely if ever engaged together.

Well, I tried to point out a few places where I agreed… but the other individual was, it seems, disinterested in anything of the sort. So it was a bit like having a conversation in a mirror where there is no actual connection being made one with the other.

And I wonder how many ersatz "conversations…" like this take place, in particular among Christians who have the same heavenly Father and will share eternity together?

God help us… and begin please with maturing me!!

And- thanks for stopping by 🙂 -Glenn

What About Backup?

I do have geek tendencies, and therefore love reading about open source, cloud computing and on occasion, the varied and connected businesses having to do with the tech. industry.

Tonight in reading through a lot of info. online, a thought caught me up regarding a longtime issue that I expect to this very day many reading this don't much bother with… but should!!

In a word, "backup".

I was reading an industry blog about server failure (these particular servers are the main, large computers that hold/host files and make them available via the Internet) at a company who works for and with Amazon.

Imagine what happens when a number of these machines crash all at once! Mayhem!

I have mixed feelings about cloud computing- the concept of keeping some, most or all of your files on a server and working via the Internet as opposed to storage on your home and/or work computers.

I do a lot via the Web, but the fact is that like anything else, failures happen and sometimes your data gets wiped out or so compromised that you can no longer retrieve and use it.

Back to backup- each of us who use some form of computing, be it pc's, laptops, netbooks, cellphones or pdas (and in most of the Western world, it's getting rarer to find someone who doesn't daily use these) it is more important than most of us want to realize to BACK UP YOUR DATA AND DO IT REGULARLY!

Sooner or later, failure of machines happens. No matter how wonderful the design and technology, no matter the cost, sooner or later they will indeed crash. Imperfect humans using less-than-eternally-perfect elements assembled these machines and they will fail. Therefore your writing, photos, music, films and data stored on them can and will be compromised, possibly lost.

My files are spread out over several computers, hard drives, usb and sd drives and also in several online "cloud" locations.

Some of my older data sits on cds.

I back information up a number of ways, but in the end, I choose to remember to DO backups.

I've lost track of the number of times friends and associates have lamented their loss of information due to having not backed it up… and their laptop, etc., becomes toast. SERIOUS bummer. And not all that difficult to take care of IF one thinks ahead and takes preventative safety measures on the -front end-, prior to the fail.

As a new computer user, my tech gurus drilled into me the importance of backing up.

If you get my feeble brain on this- I consider honest confession, accountability partners and soul-friends in Christ my spiritual backup system.

They know the things that are important to me and why. Several of them have my login and passwords, literally and spiritually.

Are you prepared for potential, even likely crashes?

What about backup?

Thanks for stopping by,
-Glenn

The New South Africa, Zimbabwe

I have gotten several emails from a bro. re. my songwriting ("Afrikaans", Rez Band) re. South Africa. He brought out sensible points re. current black on white bloodshed there and in Zim, and I thought it good to post my response to him here.

Hello,

In essence, you are asking "What is your theory now that black on white crime and full-on murder is taking place in SA and Zim.?"

White OR black OR Asian despotism, genocide is partly based at core on fear, dominion over people "not like us" and when it comes to state-sponsored and worse (speaking now as a Christian pastor which I am) an error-laden sense you are God's chosen, anointed to rule and reign in a given land over "the others", such "manifest destiny" is in my view a total contrast to all Jesus taught and lived.

I have been praying for peace in both lands for many years and count all races my friends, all in need of justice. Then again, all sin and certainly when in power, regardless of race or tribe or other elements.

History (both re. the U.S. and other nations) regarding racism and domination is?? not a matter of theory, as you say, it's about sick, desperate people who want control and who brutalize and at times kill innocents. Yes, it's filth in Zimbabwe as it was and is in S. Africa.

By the way, I grew up studying our own Civil War and other wars from my 8th birthday and knowing and living in a nation that is to this day still racist on a number of levels. That's why I've written and likely shall write again on these issues. Further, I've been on independent Zim. news sites for several years and last week commented that Mugabe is (in my view) a worse louse than the idiot who refuses to yield power in Libya.

Lastly, you may have missed the 2nd song I also wrote re. SA, titled Zuid Afrikaan. I pray for mercy and sanity, not domination. You sow- you reap. In fact, it is the power of my own beloved country that has too often caused misery in the world (both our business interests and at times government-deployed military) which disturbs me greatly. So there you go.

Injustice (Micah 6.8) is injustice no matter who's wielding power. We most often deduce it's THEM, not US when we're not wielding it, don't you think? I leave you with Z.A. lyrics here below, which I sought to write from God's perspective. Consider it Jesus speaking, for I think it is indeed His reality that is essential.

ZUID AFRIKAAN

You cannot ban me
The walls, the bars, they cannot hold me in
I am no prisoner not to your policies,
Your prejudice, your sin
You cannot silence me
There is no respect for persons in my eyes
But I tell you this
If you live by the sword, by the sword you shall die

Lion, lion you lay down with the lamb
Or you lie on, lie on and the end will be at hand

You sow mercy and mercy you shall reap
You sow pain and pain you will receive
In the rubble of shanties in your land
Zuid Afrikaan

You look for justice
Then you will seek for me
To know compassion you must know my name
For forgiveness you must face your shame
Die to live again

You sow mercy and mercy you shall reap
You sow love then love you shall receive
Fear me greatest
For I fear no man
Zuid Afrikaan

-Glenn Kaiser

Missional Truth?

Alistair Begg is a great speaker who often gets me thinking in a most solid direction.

A friend on occasion sends me A.B.'s online devos., some great stuff.

I have been doing a lot of thinking about what it means to truly be "missional" in life, in our thinking and daily interaction with others. I do not mean (though it includes) verbal sharing of the Good News, rather an "all-in" life that reflects Jesus to whomever is around us, whether we speak or not in that particular moment.

In any case, this morning we had a fine guest speaker who again used the term.

In a devo. from A.B. a few days ago the concept leapt out.

Last night as I lay in bed considering calling and life's-work for people in general (not merely my own life), the following popped into my head and here on Sun. afternoon the thought returned.

Can missions at times be quite fun, even giving the missionary great comfort? Of course.

On this occasion I won't unpack it further except to say that God the Holy Spirit is (according to Jesus) The Comforter, and there is nothing automatically evil about receiving and giving comfort- please don't mis-understand me on that point!

But here is my thought, and I stand by it:

"If it's not missional, it's probably about comfort."

Something to think about.
-Glenn

Norway, Amy Winehouse Tragedies

Sad, sick, miserable, shared pain and sorrow. What can I say?

I pray for the people of Norway, a nation I have toured many times and truly love.

What a sick, demonized -and pay attention- right-wing maniac!!

How many true Christians cringe throughout the world and of course in Norway when this sad, sick man refers to himself by the name of the Son of God? This man no more represents Christians than do the Muslim fanatics of 9-11 and other atrocities represent Muslims.

Fear, bigotry and neo-fascism all bring menace to our world- regardless of spiritual (or zero spiritual) position.

At times like these we must pray, learn once again to forgive and of course recognize that no nation, no group of people are ever completely "safe" nor can be.

It is faith in Jesus and genuine surrender to Him that alone makes sense. There is no security force on earth who can do what He alone can.

Apparently He allows humans the ability to make horrible choices and at times such as this, that is quite apparent.

Then I think of a gifted singer who shared the addictions so many of us have, past or present. What a tragic, wasted life, what a rotten end to a tortured soul! And the misery (like that of a Norwegian gunman) is now being spread around, shared with family, friends and co-workers, many who were in this case not so shocked at the end.

And people wonder why I sing blues??!

Jesus was "a man of sorrows, well-acquainted with grief." God "stores up our tears in a bottle" as it were… understands and grieves with us. Entering His immediate presence, given those who seek Him- this is where we must go.

There simply is no better place to find comfort when looking into the face of such evil and such misery in the lives of those He loves.

"For God so loved THE WORLD [meaning ALL people] that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever would believe in HIM will inherit eternal life." -John 3.16

Nothing makes more sense in the face of these senseless deaths.

Praying,
-Glenn

July Growth

So many individuals, entire nations, states within the U.S. and certainly most reading this are feeling the pain of no, slow or difficult growth.

Many have lost jobs, are really having to tighten up, start over, figure out how to survive much less grow and bloom in the present time.

The heat has been nearly unbearable and like the job market, has caused a great deal of pain.

But if "all things work together for good for those who love God", might we not seek and notice His provision in the midst of such times?

Is there anything of value, or beauty, any sort of growth happening?

Tonight I stepped outside, the temperature mercifully dropped a bit, a cooler wind blew in off of Lake Michigan and the sun shone in glory off our community garden!

I have like so many, learned a great deal about life through gardening.

My Wendi grows wonderful flowers of all sorts and we have been so blessed by their smiles season after season.

But as any gardener knows, it takes a fair bit of work. That is, unless you are almighty God and you grow things as only God can.

After Cornerstone Festival I took a few outward-bound trips around the property and came upon a couple very large clumps of wild roses. They were astoundingly beautiful!

The roses and various other wonderful flowers growing right near the mobile home our family has stewarded over the years were mostly planted by Wendi, myself and my daughters.

My good wife has read (and owns) a good long shelf full of books about plants and flowers and how to grow them in our climate, complete with special tips and so on.

She finds them online or at various stores or nurseries, we select various types and colors and buy them at the best possible price (patience for the great sales helps). Then she decides where to plant what, we get out the tools and after tending the soil, mixing the dirt, sand and nutrients, fertilizer and etc., I do most of the digging 🙂

Sometimes the evil deer come by and snack on our hostas… but otherwise we've done pretty well because she takes a real interest and puts in the time to do the gardening correctly.

Further, planting each type in a space best suited for it- sun or shade or a mix, proper watering and of course, weeding and using the proper insect repellent, all of this goes into our lovely garden.

We take lots of pictures of our flowers and just sit and admire them as they bloom.

I must admit, there are times of the year they are plain, dormant, nearly disappearing and sometimes fully buried under snow, ice or leaves.

At times they get pretty beat up from the weather.

Looking at those plots in certain seasons, you'd think the ground held no life at all.

This reminds me of myself, of others, of so many people in the spiritual sense.

Just when you think they'd flower they've been bitten off, bent or broken by the wind, or sometimes seem quite dead and even non-existent.

Other times certain types will spring up and outshine the larger, supposedly "more beautiful" flowers or plants they're surrounded by.

We have learned to create critter-proof (nearly) fences. We've learned to tie up or stake out certain varieties so they're able to stand and stay healthy against hard rain and rough weather.

So many lessons, so many beautiful blooms and memories. Such expectation and amazement each new season as our garden springs to wonderful life!

So I hope you'll enjoy a few shots from a garden a good friend or two have planted here at JPUSA. As I snapped these tonight I was reminded of our garden and so many others that loving gardeners have patiently worked with… and that's how growth happens.

Enjoy your summer!

-Glenn

Julyflowers1Julyflowers2Julyflowers3

Perfect Worship? Thoughts on Rev. 4

A special prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray in response to their asking him how to pray includes the words "Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."

We call it "the Lord's prayer" as it was and is His. In fact I think we can expect He Himself prayed such to the Father. But He gave it to all of us as a template for prayer and most Christ followers around the world use it from time to time, some quite often.

In that light, and in view of so many people considering biblical worship and forms of worship, it may be profitable (as John who wrote it indeed tells us reading the Book of Rev. is!) to have a closer look at parts of chapter four where heavenly worship is and shall be taking place- exactly as God intends.

His will IS ALWAYS done in heaven.

I will not attempt to be fully thorough, only jot a few of my own thoughts down regarding the following verses.

Rev. 4

6b In the middle of the throne and around the throne were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back.

GK- I find Dr. Seuss's inspiration, and of course much of C.S. Lewis and other fantasy writers likewise, to come from the Bible. Whoever and whatever these living creatures are, they are in full accord with God's will, honoring Him directly. All they see -and they apparently see a lot 🙂 only affects their one focus: that of God and His glory!

7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second creature like an ox, the third creature had a face like a man???s, and the fourth creature looked like an eagle flying.

GK- Many scholars and certainly the earliest Christians saw this in reference to the four writers of the four Gospels. Could it be since there is so much symbolism or possible symbolism here, might these "creatures" be Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I have no idea and rather doubt it… but this is certainly an amazing picture of heavenly worship round about the throne before the One true God of the universe!

8 Each one of the four living creatures had six wings and was full of eyes all around and inside. They never rest day or night, saying: ???Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God, the All-Powerful, Who was and who is, and who is still to come!???

GK- Again the many "eyes" of these creatures is accented. I won't surmise why. They apparently do what they do here CONTINUALLY. ALL THE TIME. NO REST. PERPETUALLY. What is their accent? Who and what is their focus? With no intent on my part to diminish Him as Father, Friend, Shepherd, Lord, Savior, Master, Teacher, Healer, Provider, Kinsman-Redeemer or any of the rest of Who and what He is… here there is but one immediate and repeated focus, and I beg the reader to consider the implications of this regarding our own corporate and personal worship:

THREE times they cry out "Holy"! His absolute purity, stainlessness, utter righteousness, a sense of separateness that shines like the sun in full strength! HOLY, HOLY, HOLY (if you didn't get it the first or second time… this IS THE Nature of God our heavenly Father… and also the nature He not only imputes to us but calls us to grow in and reflect Him with in our new nature, rooted in God the HOLY Spirit by our faith and loving obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ!

After this they accent "Lord", "God", "All-powerful", "Who was, is and is still to come".

Are we in the Church (world-wide, regardless of stream, theology, doctrine or methodology) truly accenting THESE in our preaching, teaching and indeed as here, in our worship? Are these core qualities of His nature and character being written and sung about in our psalms, hymns and spiritual songs now in 2011? I now recall Yule Brenner playing the part of Pharaoh in "The Ten Commandments" movie. "Your God… IS God!!" Amen. Or the statement by Thomas, likely given with a shiver… "My Lord and my God." Absolutely Amen!

All-powerful. For all time. Not created, The Creator! As relevant then as -now-… and WILL COME. Indeed.

Are these core to what we are praying, singing, speaking about? Are they core to what we care about when we worship our King? Important questions in light of perfect worship which is what we're seeing here, fully according to His will!

9 And whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to the one who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever,

GK- "Whenever" is CONTINUALLY. Apparently they do this in a continuum, over and over and over without ceasing.

What do they "give"? What ought I and you and all GIVE to God- Father, Son, Spirit? GLORY. HONOR. THANKS. HE sits on the throne. He alone is utterly King. King of kings, Lord of lords. He lives forever and ever… and the worship of Him, the Lord God will continue forever and ever as it rightly should and must. Nobody else is worthy. There is no other God but God.

Note also that all I have highlighted above re. His holiness and all the rest the creatures are accenting, all of this is most certainly WHAT gives Him glory, honor and why and for what we ought to continually give Him thanks about: WHO HE IS. Genuine worship ultimately moves us to consider WHO HE IS.

10 the twenty-four elders throw themselves to the ground before the one who sits on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever, and they offer their crowns before his throne, saying:

GK- Note, the elders do this continually as sure as the creatures do what they do continually… this is simply a continuing thing before the throne of God for it is never not all about Him.

They offer their crowns- whatever is of any value in our lives is an offering to the Most High. Take it off- the crown is His! What have we been given that is not a gift? We are sons and daughters, but also stewards of what is not our own. The glory and honor belongs to our God.

They throw themselves down, not graciously, in dignified manner slip out of the pew as it were… no, "throw", or some translations render it "fall". Such is the passion and commitment to our God by the elders. "The one who sits on the throne" is their sole focus there. They -worship- Him. The Greek calls us to?? "kiss toward, to lie prostrate in humility before" Him, this is "worship".

11 ???You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, since you created all things,
and because of your will they existed and were created!???

GK- What do they say? What can anyone say before The Holy God Who is God Alone? What do the redeemed of the Lord need to accent in their/our worship? His utter worthiness. His worth, value, incredible love, kind and completely holy nature. He is worthy to receive glory, and honor, and power. We are not God, and we must remember there is an "otherness" about Him that is unique to Himself. Indeed, "fully man and fully God"… and "fully God" is the sense we get here.

HE "created ALL things", HIS will is why and how. As the old hymn goes, "And for THY PLEASURE they are created". If we really knew, believed and ordered our thoughts, words, choices and lives around this fact we and therefore the churches (of all sorts) would likely serve Him and others at a different level of honoring and loving God as well as loving our neighbors.

He created all things, all people, all creation that exists. This of course means it all belongs to Him.

Things will change. The Book tells us a moment will come when God will roll it all up like a scroll and time as it exists will be no more.

Genuine worship is foreign to those who do not know this God. The true God calls for authentic, truthful God-centered worship. Jesus said, "in spirit and in truth."

The creatures and elders here are certainly not focused on themselves. The focus is fully on the LORD.

Notice little is given us here of what we might call "style". In fact there is no mention of music or other art (as such) in this particular text, for it seems He wanted us to focus on the core issues. Or shall I say, the core Issue: Himself and several of His most amazing and excellent attributes.

May we do so with seriousness, deep awe, joy and a giving heart for He has given us life, breath, the one and only Savior -and eternal life through His Son!

Amen.

Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Church, House, Traditional, Radical… US!

I have been contemplating a blog about several key reasons people have begun to widely accept no-"linkage to a regular body of Christians where the Bible is taught, discussed and applied to the best of their ability." This is that blog.

Simply put, JPUSA may be nearly the world's largest house church… but is also by choice, linked to a denomination (Ev. Covenant Church). Before you gag on either, please read on…

In -some- ways the Jesus Movement (when I came to saving faith with thousands of others) for all it's upside had a few downsides that eventually (in the practical) ended it as a movement. I think several of the core issues of what's wrong with "church as usual", "church inc." and 'form vs. content'" are what ails the traditional -BUT NO LESS NON-TRADITIONAL- gatherings.

The battles and frustration almost always boil down to who gets their way, who is in (or not in) authority, what do I/we want to do or what should I/we do in terms of serving (calling, gifts, a place at the table) and do I/we "like" the WAY our gatherings and/or worship FEELS? That is, "Am I getting what I want and feel I need out of this?"

Yes, many traditional churches contain plenty of people who seem to be observers sitting in "the cheap seats" listening to monologue rather than active, joyful participants who engage together (yes, together) in dialogue, spiritually intimate and meaningful relationships and active serving in love. I get it. I believe it. I've experienced it!

Then again, we all have our likes and dislikes, sense of taste and desire for this or that form… or formlessness.

Some want change, some want none. Some like it huge, some want a fellowship of 10 or less and no more than that. It gets very personal and therefore frustrating to find THE local gathering of Christ-followers where most of the key elements you want all leap out and you have then found a spiritual "family" and "home" of your liking.

What did the first Christians do about this? It's coming, be patient with the old guy please 🙂

It's easy to figure what's wrong with the church/Church/this-or-that-group. Quite easy.

As a musician it's like hearing the need for a tuner because apparently this person (maybe the whole band) obviously doesn't use 'em! Then again, they may not use them on purpose because they actually like things being a bit out of tune. And you don't "fit" that scenario… or they don't "fit" yours. I get it. I understand.

This group or that are just PETTY. They care far too much about stuff Jesus never mentions once in any of the four Gospels! I hear you. I agree with you. You're RIGHT about that. And there is some of that in all of us.

My worry is that church, being US… yes and yes and yes… still involves people who are both seeking and in the end getting (in one sense) exactly what they -want- as opposed to what you, I and we "need", and this I mean from God's perspective which is more than a perspective.

I'm not married to form. Nor formlessness.

I'm going to step out on a limb and say most serious Christ-followers are seeking authentic relationships- which always include crosses, pain, forgiveness and shared mission or lack of any mission beyond self-service. Selfishness is not hard-wired into traditional "kingdoms" alone… but part of our self-centered human nature. On the positive side, some of this stuff (in the first sentence in this paragraph) is good, right and needed and we need to seek out, establish and maintain such relationships somewhere with others willing to pay the price of integrity along with us.

Then again, some of us don't want any real sense of biblical accountability, we want groupies. Or we want to be part of a group of groupies. It's subculture and felt-needs 101, not authentic relational Christianity we're after. Just like the Jesus Movement in part.

Some don't WANT the discipline of learning to play an instrument, they don't want to be in the band. They want to watch and listen to the band. Gifts and talents are buried. Or eventually they get offended when what they believe to be great gifts aren't accepted and affirmed- and trust me this can and does happen in house churches just as in traditional churches.

This is part of what's wrong with BOTH traditional and non-traditional gatherings of Christians in my view. It's a matter of what I want vs. what I need. It may be (not good) a matter of me seeking out people who will never disagree with me, who will affirm me in whatever it is I like, who are not in truth part of me actively growing and maturing as a Bible-applying follower of Jesus. Groupies CHOOSE the cheap seats. Distance feels safe and right. In some cases it is, while in others it's a scam just as much as "church inc." can sometimes be.

We've been hurt so we quit. We're angry at parents, cops, our high-school phys. ed. teacher (mine had been a Marine drill instructor) and the people who abused us in X, Y and Z… so to be "safe" WE are our own church, our own authority, our own pastors, teachers, etc., etc.. This is not only un-biblical, it's a recipe to repeat (in a less-connected or "contrived" form) the very things that cause traditional churches to look and sometimes be hypocrites.

Form does not equal substance. It may or may not help, but those two words and concepts are not synonyms!

I truly get the "I'm SICK TO DEATH of church-as-usual" plastic, put-on, dress-like-this and either be recognized as kosher by the powers that be or we don't want you around sort of local assembly. I really do get it. But it's quite naive to believe any form of gathering will in the end, solve human nature/the "flesh" issues.

I understand the freedom one has when one creates in a vacuum of one's own choosing. I also think there are house and home church folks just as messed up and dogmatic as any trad. church I've ever known. Stick around long enough and you'll find yourself in agreement on that. It's a character and biblical issue, not merely a cultural/subcultural matter… and that's why a different local gathering "cultural" change won't produce the long-term heart, character and attitude changes God seeks to work in all of us. In some cases it's part of the solution but rarely is it THE solution to what ails us.

No cross, no growth. No easy answers.

I'm not saying we shouldn't create alternative communities of Christ-followers, I'm saying that we have much to learn from the Bible and church history and yes, from churches and denominations who "don't do it like we do". Humility is a core factor in all this.

Authentic relationships cost. Yes they do! And we as individuals must belly-up that personal cost if we are ever to find, grow, maintain and get enabled enough to share them. No matter the culture, this reality will not go away -though we might.

In the Jesus Movement, some leaders and houses were cut off and un-wanted by local traditional churches, some chose to not fellowship with the trad. church leaders and folks around them while for some it was both. Plenty of Jesus Movement people are anything but counter-culture today, so you might (even rightly) say many co-opted into the "Church as Microsoft does it" as opposed to an open source Linux model (as in part, JPUSA and many house churches do it). The fact is that many of them fell away from the Lord, partly due to their own arrogance and ignorance, not respecting that God the Holy Spirit had already taught a great many lessons to the trad. churches and the young Jesus freaks weren't interested because of the pain factors involved.

How many of those Jesus houses (late 60's-mid 70's) still exist?

Granted, Calvary Chapel and Vineyard continues, but in most cases (and I LOVE and minister with many of both world-wide) they are nearly as traditional as mainline churches in our day. There are serious Christians and hangers-on and confused seekers going in and out in these just as in house churches.

Is less organization always best and what God calls us to? More organization? No easy answer to these.

More importantly, two basic things happened in the Jesus Movement: some backslid and never walked with Jesus due to various pain factors (their own sin choices as well as the slop from trad. churches) while others got a "real job" and look about as conservative on every level as you might imagine. And frankly, sometimes they co-opted for whatever personal gain reasons.

Anybody in the current "non-church" movement being co-opted? Falling away? Five years down the path you never see or hear from them again? Anybody joining such a movement doing it for whatever personal gain reasons? I think this is obvious stuff, but radical koolaide just like biz-as-usual koolaide… isn't 100% real fruit juice simply because it's different and you stir it as you like it.

"Wherever you go, there you are."

I love and therefore worry about the Church, always have, always will. The Church is us.

A careful, thorough read of both the Bible and church history will rock your world re. the many horrible hurts both brought upon Christians due to their own ungodly choices as well as the fighting and at times extreme persecution believers thrust upon other believers. It's sick. And it's all there in the Book and in good, verifiable historic records. Most of us who've been around for awhile have experienced it over and over. Hurting people hurt others. Most of us hurt somewhere.

Seems to me close-knit relationships of love, trust and accountability happen when we seek God and authentic community with full commitment to pay the price of admission. It also seems to me any Christian gathering will
also include a few groupies who came for the ride and when the ride stops they leave.

There are good and quite biblical reasons for leaving a fellowship, but there are times that isn't what's happening with us.

??Always easier to leave than forgive or ask forgiveness for the pain we caused others. Always. Not what Jesus commanded but far easier.

Are there times to start over, do something new and fresh? In our mobile society is it not biblical and right to move around and every three or five (or less) years to go somewhere else? Of course!

And yet there is something about the fact that in the Book of Acts (try bettering what THEY lived and did as Christ-followers…) I find one of the more illuminating issues raised:

Acts 2.46 Every day they continued to gather together by common consent in the temple courts, breaking bread from house to house, sharing their food with glad and humble hearts,

Acts 5.42 And every day both in the temple courts and from house to house, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus was the Christ.

I find such balance and sense of calling and purpose a "both-and" as opposed to "either-or".

As I've been saying for years, the second largest mission-field is the Church.

Christian structures, all of them, are designed by human beings. We will never escape human beings and their/our structural desires and forms. The fact is that we need mature, fruit-of-the-Spirit Christ-followers even more than better structures.

The box doesn't equal the cereal. Will a lousy box trash the contents? Sure. But take care to not swallow -any- box. You'll be left hungry if not actually starve to death in the end.

Food for thought.

Truly, thanks for stopping by!

-Glenn

Homelessness, Justice System Snip

My friend and colleague in ministry Jeremy (on staff at our Cornerstone Community Outreach) has written a long but worthwhile piece on homelessness. This particular snippet from it has massive implications and I encourage you to read and think it through. The entire article is linked at the end here. Thanks, -Glenn

"The truth is, the homeless population will not stop rotating in and out of County Jails as long as we have a justice system that locks people up for non-violent and petty offenses like loitering, sleeping in a park, drinking on a public way and minor possession charges. Without an income, they are unable to afford to bail themselves out, and they remain sitting in a cell until the Judge grants his or her judgment. Meanwhile, those with an income, and often with far greater offenses, are able to bail themselves out, hire a quality lawyer and stay connected with their community. I go into a lot of details about all this in this piece I wrote: Casting Stones

There is another reality about our rotating sick and incarcerated homeless friends, they often don't have the family or friends who can afford to bail them out, or pay for their hospitalizations, aftercare and medications. They are often alone. They need people. This is why Jesus placed so much emphasis on visiting the sick, dying and incarcerated. This is why Jesus spoke the "sheep and goats" parable and emphasized the need to get down with the "least of these!" His parables always challenged and provoked the elitist mindsets of His day! This is why Jesus emphasized the Kingdom of God, which stated "blessed are the poor, for theirs is the Kingdom of God!" He knew that other empires (politics, government etc.) were more interested and focused on the pursuit of money and power, than in uplifting and helping the poor and downtrodden!

We cannot instantly change the Health Care and Justice systems, they are too big and ingrained in our culture. There are a lot of good advocacy groups trying to do that, but as individuals, we can and must do random acts of subversive kindness. We can bring the Resurrection power to our hospitals, nursing homes, jails and prisons. As Jesus taught us to pray in the Lord's Prayer; we need to bring heaven to earth! This recently happened in Weiss Hospital, when my homeless friend Jerome was involved in a horrible accident and the sheer number of his visitors shocked all the doctors, nurses and receptionists in the hospital. Jerome had tears in his eyes at all the masses that surrounded his bed."

http://freeingprisoners.blogspot.com/2011/05/visiting-our-rotating-sick-and.html