Getting Personal

July 19, 2006

“Do you want to make Jesus the personal Lord of your life?”

I’ve heard this question – or variations on it – asked numerous times; usually right before someone is baptized. It reflects an appropriate sentiment – it seeks to make sure that people are really serious about Jesus before they are baptized. But two things about this formulation trouble me:

1. Do we make Jesus Lord? I don’t think so. I think it is more accurate to say that God has made Jesus Lord. The question is whether we are going to recognize that. By saying that “Jesus is Lord,” I don’t make it so (thats a little arrogant, when you think about it). I simply confess what has really been the case all along.

2. Why “personal”? I think this represents a reaction by some Christians to cultures where people assume Christianity based on what they have inherited from others, rather than taking ownership of their faith walk themselves. You aren’t a Christian simply because your family or nation assumes the moniker of “Christian” – it must be “personal.” Its a good point.

But adding this word before “Lord” may also do some violence to the concept of Lordship. Jesus is so much more than ANY ONE PERSON’S Lord. He is Lord over all of creation. To say he is a “personal” Lord implies that salvation is only for and about ME. Its not. God has much business to do with the entire cosmos, and the confession of Jesus’ authority over everything has broader implications in terms of the faith walk that follows such a confession.

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Warcraft Nerds a Plenty

July 18, 2006

During the last month, World of Warcraft has grown from a passing interest for me into an activity that dominates much of the conversation in our house. To that end, in the spirit of Jeff Foxworthy, I present “…you might be a Warcraft nerd.”

If your dad walks into the house, and you immediately brag that you “leveled up your Night Elf” today…
…you might be a Warcraft nerd.

If you offer to pay your sister 20 silver if she will log off so you can try to score some sweet enchanted weapons in an auction that is about to end…
…you might be a Warcraft nerd.

If you and your son just spent thirty minutes researching the finer points of the rest/reward system so that you can maximize your characters’ experience bonuses…
…you might be a Warcraft nerd.

If someone asks you what exciting things you did on Friday night, and your answer includes the words “quest,” “paladin,” and “Darnasus”…
…you might be a Warcraft nerd.

If you brag to your friends about how your bug report was incorporated into the last incremental patch…
…you might be a Warcraft nerd.

If you lie awake at night thinking about the combat macros you want to create tomorrow…
…you might be a Warcraft nerd.

If your spouse instinctively rolls her eyes every time the discussion turns to a comparison of Character levels and skills…
…you might be a Warcraft nerd.

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Return of The Breakfast Club

July 17, 2006

If you are the parent of an elementary or middle-school aged kid, and if you live anywhere other than a cave in Afghanistan, you have doubtless heard about High School Musical, a Disney Channel movie with a $5 million budget which is now generating $100s of millions in revenue. The plot of the movie, such as it is, involves kids from different “groups” coming together, breaking free from stereotypes, and (you guessed it) putting on a good ol’ fashioned musical. Everyone sets aside their differences and confronts their fears, singing and dancing their way from beginning to end.

Aside from the incredibly savvy marketing genius that created this phenomenon, how can its success among the 9-14 year old tween market be explained? I think that what we are looking at here is nothing short of The Breakfast Club for nGen: a sharp, sassy flick about the biggest issue facing American teens – a culture that tries to trap them all in pre-defined stereotypes (in which they are seemingly helpless to do anything but participate), with no room for escape or for individuality.

Sadly, it seems that the culture of popularity/power games has only swelled since 1985, when John Hughes made what I believe was the defining film of my generation. Films like Star Wars and Risky Business were great fun. But no other film captured the essence of the angst, anxiety, and loneliness that most of us were experiencing like this one.

Here’s hoping that even a cheesy low-budget TV movie can help nGen to come to terms with this issue…

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More on Emergent

July 16, 2006

A couple of posts back, I said that emergent is a conversation between members of different faith traditions about how Christians should go about engaging postmodern culture. And emergent is very much about culture. It recognizes that there is an “old” culture – usually called “modern” culture – which relied on knowledge and analysis as tools to find truth. That culture is vanishing.

“Postmodernism” – the new culture – is a reaction to modern culture, rejecting it and seeking to find a different way of looking at the world – one which is more wholistic, finding truth in art, relationships, and – yep – even spirituality. However, the new culture has not yet fully developed (it is, itself, “emerging”).

I mentioned that the emergent conversation is, in part, about how the way we do “church” got too caught up in the old culture. The emerging conversation is thus largely about the painful process of pruning away things that were products of the old culture, hopefully creating fresh space for God’s kingdom to grow in the context of the new, still-developing culture.

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The Seven Deadly Sins of Highly Effective People: Reimagining “Effectivness”

July 14, 2006

What if, instead of allowing the business book gurus to define effectiveness, we looked to the life of Jesus? What if effectivness were measured by the extent to which our life began to resemble that of Christ himself? What if we could learn to be “effective” on a completely different plane – a plane where “effective” people are those rare persons that seem to bring peace and wholeness to everyone that comes into contact with them? Where wells of eternal life spring up from within and bring healing to all those who come into contact with them?

I think that this type of effective person will have at least three habits of their own:
1. Listening – this person will pray, read, meditate, and observe silence – listening for the voice of God – each day.
2. Communing – this person will surround himself/herself with other like-minded people, sharing burdens with each other, and…
3. Ministry – being firmly grounded in (1) and (2), this person will move out among the world, trying to understand and serve those who are hurting.

What other habits would you add to this list?

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What is Emergent?

July 13, 2006

I’ve added a “Friend of Emergent” button to the bottom of my sidebar. Its been a long time coming – I suppose I’ve had an unofficial affiliation with emergent for some time. But I guess this makes it about as “official” as it gets for a blog.

I get a lot of questions about the emergent movement – what it is, what it stands for, why I talk about it so much, etc. Different people will give different answers to this question, but the best answer I can give is this:

Emergent is an ongoing conversation between leaders and members of various faith traditions about how Christians can go about engaging postmodern culture.

A few of the terms in this definition can be unpacked a little more:
1. “Conversation” – emergent isn’t about defining a new system of practices or beliefs. The point is not for everyone to agree on everything and to “get on the same page” (“that is so mid twentieth-century,” many of us would say). Instead, we share ideas, and accept differences.
2. “Various faith traditions” – emergent is not a new “church.” Instead, it is existing and growing within many different faith communities. There are emergent Baptists, emergent Pentecostals, emergent Catholics, and – yes – emergents can even be found within the Churches of Christ.
3. “Postmodern culture” – emergents recognize that our culture is changing in an earth-shaking way that goes beyond the typical differences from generation-to-generation. A part of this change involves a rejection of “church” – but not necessarily Jesus himself. Indeed, the postmodern problem with “church” is that there is no longer an authentic relationship between the Jesus of scripture and “church people.”
3. “Engaging” – the thing that emergents share in common is a desire to engage culture, rather than fighting culture wars. This means taking the criticisms of what is wrong with “church” very seriously. The challenge is not to find ways to shape “church” to suit the new culture, but to become more aware of how our ideas of “church” became overly entangled with the old culture and (simultaneously) separated from the Jesus of scripture.

More to come.

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Adventures in Single Parenting: Day One

July 12, 2006

The next few days are going to be very strange around our house. Levi is gone to Kadesh at ACU. And this morning, Sheila and Rachel left for a four-day mission trip at the Fortress Church of Christ in Fort Worth. That leaves me at home with: (1) a big stack of work that needs to get done and (2) my two younger girls: Lexi and Becca.

Today went pretty well. I set up a work station in the bedroom and got in a solid days’ work, pausing only to get some lunch together for the girls and myself during the early afternoon. The girls spent most of the day watching PBS which, as TV goes, is pretty good stuff I suppose. But I need to come up with some other ideas about things for them to do. (And, by the way, I’m open to suggestions…)

The plan tonight is to take the girls to bible class, followed by Chick-fil-A. We have more fun in store tomorrow night.

With one days’ experience behind me, I have to say this – I don’t think I would want to be a full-time single parent – and I admire those who are able to pull it off.

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