Monday, August 30, 2010
Friday, August 27, 2010
Because to save money, we shut off the air conditioning and it's hot in our building. The End.Read More......
Posted by Seth McBee at 8/27/2010 01:41:00 PM
It is amazing how much you have to keep saying this. It is amazing how much you have to remind people who claim to follow Jesus that the church isn't an organization, but a people. I have once again been emailed by someone saying that I am spiritually confused because I allowed Muslims to come and pray in our church. Huh? If you actually broke that down, that would mean that I allowed a Muslim to enter into my body and pray inside of me. The term "church" literally means, a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly.
I still remember something that Ravi Zacharias said years ago. He said,
We can thank God, because we are no longer a people who come together at the temple to pray, but, we come as the temples of God to gather together to pray.
Huge difference. There is nothing sacred about the building you go to on Sunday, at least no more than the bedside you pray at before you go to bed. The only thing that makes that place holy is that you are a temple of the living God lifting your voice to the one who created you. You, because of the imputed righteousness of God, are holy, not a place. The only reason that the ground around the burning bush was holy was because God's presence was there.
Church is an interesting cultural term that has been hijacked. If those who followed Jesus understood that church is who you are, not what you go to, our lives would be more of the radiance of the glory of God everyday. The problem is that because the Roman Catholics took the term to mean a religion instead of a people, it has forever confused people and caused people to stumble.
People now, see church as something you go to, a building, a service, a once a week encounter with the living God. Why don't we just be honest...if you believe that, you might as well be Jewish and live in the Old Testament. I am not trying to slight the Jews, I am just saying that they go to the temple, they are awaiting the rebuilding of the temple, they sacrifice at the temple, they worship at the temple, etc. That is a different paradigm altogether than what a follower of Jesus believes, or should believe.
Because of this confusion, Christians have a bad rap for a very good reason. Historically, and today, Christians do what they want 6 days and 22 hours of the week and then they come to worship God and "be holy" for two hours out of the week when they go to church or to Mass. If we believed that Jesus came to live within us, that he sent his Spirit to commune with us and to guide us, then we would understand that our whole life is a life of worship, all the time. If we understood this, we would love people everyday, we would love our families everyday, we would have communion with God everyday, we would seek to worship God everyday.
We wouldn't make bad business deals on Tuesday and then come to worship on Sunday. Instead, we would worship God through that business deal and then come to worship God on Sunday as well as the gathered church.
We wouldn't yell at our wife and kids on Wednesday, and then act like everything is fine when we come to encounter God at church. Instead, we would be repentant when we yelled at our wife and kids and seek to love God through loving them everyday and then come together as the church gathered and seek forgiveness, guidance and truth from our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
I know this sounds pretty basic, but I believe we often look the basic tenets of the faith to try and pursue the "more difficult ones." When in reality, if we focused our efforts on the basic tenets, the more difficult ones would work themselves out.
We will continue to ask our Muslim friends, and any other person seeking to understand Jesus more into our Sunday gatherings or into our building where we meet. We do this because we love our neighbors and seek to bless them. We don't desire to be separated from the world physically, but we seek to infuse the gospel into the world as we await our coming King.
You don't go to church, but you are the church if you trust in the work and seek the forgiveness of Jesus.
I just wonder how much people would truly see Jesus if we took our calling to be the church more seriously with our culture. Maybe they aren't denying Jesus, maybe they are denying cultural Christianity that we have so badly misrepresented over the years...To be honest...I desire to deny that as well.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
This is a journal entry more for myself, so that I don't forget to forsake and fight against the dangers of suburbia.
I live in Maple Valley, Washington. It's almost like admitting that I am a drug addict. I don't want to admit I live here, but I do. I have lived here for the past 6 and half years. My boys know no other place called home, as my oldest was 11 months when we moved in. Maple Valley is a prototypical suburban town. We have grown from 14,000 residents in 2000 to almost 23,130 in 2010, that's a jump of about 65%. Not only that, but we have the highest median incomes ($92,900)in South King County and one of the highest, period, in the entire county. The entirety of Maple Valley is made up of a ton of housing developments, Mexican food, teriyaki, pizza and nail salons. You want culture? Not here. We don't have any. The new blood (that's me) destroyed that long ago, when the area of Maple Valley used to be a coal mining town, and now is a place to live to die. What you will find in Maple Valley is a place to live, but not a place to work, play or eat. We are 30 minutes to Seattle and other large cities (Bellevue, Tacoma) so those are the place people go to have fun and to find work. Maple Valley turns into one big housing development.
So, what is so dangerous about Maple Valley? You ever hear the expression, "Same sh*t, different day"? That's Maple Valley. The dangerous part of Maple Valley is that it is so safe, that you can lose your soul. It can become like living in the movie Groundhog Day. What is so sad is that the city of Maple Valley (on their site) pump up this place like we have a real sense of community out here. Pretty bogus. Just because you have a bunch of events throughout the year, doesn't make people actually know each other. It just makes it easier for families to go to a park with a bunch of other people and not talk to one another. Here are the ways I find this place dangerous.
1. The Schools Are Really Good and Really Safe
What a weird number one, huh? Well think of it. Everyone out here has 2.3 kids, most go to the local public school and no one wants to move because we are top 5 in the state as far as a school system. Based on this, not only do all your decisions become based on your kids, but others move to the area because of how great the schooling is. So, what happens? Your children can become an idol that you give alms to and worship. You hope they get really good grades and play sports really well so you can safely brag about them at the next BBQ and not be one of those parents with the loser kid bringing the stats down for the superior schools and sports.
2. Groundhog Day
Here is 99% of the households day in Maple Valley. Get up, commute, work, commute, water or mow lawn, play outside, watch TV, brush teeth, go to bed...then just push repeat. This is very dangerous. If you blink...you've lost a week. When me and my neighbor see each other, we say the exact same thing, "What up?" answer? Livin' the dream. If you don't break this mold in your daily routine, you can and will lose your soul. Today, this is how sad it can get, to break up my routine I took the scenic route to work (took West Lake Sammamish Pkwy to Bellevue). If you aren't intentional about your days, they can blend together and you can get very lost in routine.
3. No Community, No Culture
We have zero of these two. We look to Seattle, Bellevue or Tacoma for our culture. We have no real community either. Because we are a bunch of housing developments, there is no way to even have culture as we are made up of a bunch of strip malls with nail salons in them. Even our only tattoo shop sits next to a florist and people were all up in arms when it went in, because bad people have tattoos and they might ruin Groundhog's Day for everyone. When you have no culture, you are forced to go to those places that do. This weekend, my wife and I celebrate 11 years of marriage. Are we staying in Maple Valley? Well, I don't want Mexican food and my wife just got her nails done, so there is no reason for us to stick around. So, we're going to Georgetown's Farmer's and Flea Market and spending the day around Seattle.
We also have no community. When I say community, I mean no one really knows each other. We wave, say hello, and complain about the dude who parks his boat in the road (that affects no one, but gives us something to complain about), but we really don't know each other and are affecting no change in our little suburban jungle.
These are the dangers of our community. So, what am I personally doing to change this?
I am trying to start by what I can do. I can affect change of making community. This is where I am starting and would like to have that grow to make change to have some culture as well. But for now, we'll start small.
I don't want Groundhog's Day, I want a place to call home where we live in a community, not a mere housing development where you go to die. There are about five families in my development that are actively pursuing community together. We have put together a huge fourth of July bash, poker tournaments, dinners together, coming up will be a big Halloween Costume Party, and a Christmas progressive dinner, etc. We are trying to see if we can live more closely in community. I am not sure how this is going to look as we pursue this together, but I believe it to be a necessary so that we don't fall into the normal suburban trap. I hope to be able to truly share life with these people and understand their stories better, to become close friends, to be able to help each other spiritually and physically when needs arise. I would like this to grow, so that we could affect some great change in Maple Valley so that we can break the streak of Groundhog's Day.
I feel as though this is important, not only for this kingdom's purposes, but for the Kingdom of God as well. I am not one to push my beliefs on these other families, but will be giving them opportunities to join us in studying the Story of God as a whole if they so desire. But, what I want them to know more than anything is that I want to grow together and pursue community, even if we don't believe the same things about Jesus. I love and follow Jesus, but that is not a prerequisite to be a close friend of mine or to study life's deep groans together in the dangerous suburban jungle of Maple Valley, Washington.
Monday, August 23, 2010
My friends Bryce and Amy Lathrop are putting on a Storyville Concert in their home both August 25th and August 28th. I highly recommend that you attend. Not only will you hear great music and drink great coffee, but you'll be helping out a great cause in the meantime.
To see the invitation, click here: Storyville Live
If you have questions, you can visit Bryce's facebook page here: Bryce Lathrop
One of the things we must understand is that although the Kingdom of God hasn't yet been totally fulfilled, it has been partially with the coming of our King Jesus. Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
From talking and hearing what is happening around the world, especially in the latest centuries, it seems one of the ways we can see our pompous attitude has come in the way of songs of worship. What has happened is that instead of treating other cultures with respect we have lost the understanding of what it means to sing songs of worship. Check out this verse:
“All the earth will worship You,
And will sing praises to You;
They will sing praises to Your name.”Selah.
And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
So, what does this look like today then? How should we be the shadow of the perfect that will come? From what it sounds like and what we see from around the world, Westerners have forced some strange things on other cultures. What some will find is that Western missionaries have merely taken Western hymns and translated them into the cultures language and had them sing them. Westerners have also given instruments that are totally foreign to that culture and taught them how to play them. So, what happens? Worship in these gathered churches are Western, just in a different language. Is this what is supposed to happen? I don't think so.
Worship isn't something that is forced onto a culture, but comes through culture and the people. The people should be able to sing songs and worship in all ways through their daily walk. This would mean that we allow the worldwide church to worship in song in the ways they normally would within culture, yet redeemed. God made everyone in his Image, with unique personalities. When we shove our worship or styles on other cultures we are saying not all is equal, but we are above them and they need to learn from us.
I heard a quote this past month that said that there are only two places in the world where Christianity is not growing...can you guess which pompous places those are?
United States of America and Europe
Maybe we should lend an ear, instead of a voice, to those places where Jesus is working mightily instead of forcing ourselves on them. Maybe we should trust in the Spirit to work in these cultures and to see them worship in the ways that God has made them. Maybe we should look to Jesus, instead of our own culture as a means of worship and adoration. Just maybe.
"This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Monday, August 16, 2010
I'm here in the land down under where the current weekly church population is about 2% of the people. The Aussies are wonderful, hospitable people, but not much for the divine institution. I guess I can't really blame them since many of their mainline churches have opted out of church planting and the gospel, and have chosen to be "Affirming" (Pro Gay) and "Uniting" (Pretty much pro anything), and have tossed away the only redeeming message the church has to offer. This is their response to a culture who has shunned the institution called church. Sounds on the outset like an attempt to reach the marginalized, but it is quite evident that the uniting church has no interest in uniting those that hold to the biblical story of God. I'm all for a good 'ole tweaking of the machine, but mitigating the only thing that makes going to church worth it; Jesus, has neutered it's affect on a culture already skeptical of "Church." They have also alienated many young men who desire to see the gospel of Jesus Christ move into the cities of Oz, and are told that they are "personna non grata." It is no wonder that so many of their beautiful churches have been turned into cafes, and art museums.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
If you read anything about Islam and engage the people at any level, you know two things: Islam is growing rapidly and Christians don't like it and seem to do anything to stop it. I find this odd, especially in light of the fact that the New Testament would never support the hatred and vilifying of a people group the way that I have seen many Christians responding to Islam. The Ground Zero mosque debate is just another in a long line of weird responses from Christian groups. Many have written and come up with badly formulated demographic reasons on why Islam is growing around the world. But, as I continue to have friends that are Muslim and as I continue to engage Muslims at their events and religious venues, I find something totally different on why they are growing so rapidly. Now, what I am going to put out there is why I believe Islam is growing up here in the Seattle area as I have no experience with Islam worldwide, besides what I hear from my friends around the world.
1. Their relenting submission to Allah (God)
Muslim means "one who submits to God" and I cannot come up with a better definition for my friends that are Muslim than this. They have an honor, love and obedient heart when it comes to Allah. One of the things that Westerners always focus on is the radicals within Islam that are terrorists, which we believe about 95% are NON-extremists. But, even if you want to lump the terrorists in with Islam (which I don't think is fair) the reason these people are willing to sacrifice their lives is because they truly believe Allah is calling them to do so. I am not saying this is correct, and neither would my Muslim friends, but the Muslim should be known as someone who is truly submitted to God. It exudes from who they are. They will not waver and even while they are in prayer, they will not even look at you or what is happening around them, because they are so focused on Allah and their time of prayer with Him. The true Muslim is truly submitted to Allah.
2. Their relenting submission to the Qur'an
People want truth in Seattle. People in the Western world desire people with conviction. The people of Islam, the Muslim, doesn't waiver from their love and admiration for what the Qur'an says. They don't care what is popular opinion, they care what Allah has said in the Qur'an. This is a great draw for people who are looking for leadership, looking for conviction, looking for direction. Muslims believe in the Qur'an and will not water it down for Western culture. They do so many things that are counter cultural to the Western world. They wear head coverings, they pray 5 times a day, they give a ton of money away, they help the poor, the are truly a close knit family. This is so much counter to what Westerners think that they are actually drawn to it when they see it lived out.
3. Their relenting love and hospitality
Muslims are known for hospitality and love for a reason...they truly live this out. I am embarrassed how much my Muslim friends show hospitality and love compared to my own life. It is humbling to have people bring you food when you are at their Mosque after they find out you are not Muslim, but a follower of Jesus. It is humbling to have Muslims engage you wherever, whenever and willing to invite you to become a part of their families. I cannot tell you enough how much I feel loved and accepted by my friends who are Muslims. It is easy to get to know them and they truly desire to get to know you, something I cannot say enough about and a way that is far superior to the way that most followers of Jesus live.
4. Take it or leave it
Muslims pray five times a day, they celebrate Ramadan, some wear head coverings, they give to the poor, they're hospitable, etc. etc. etc. They don't ask what the culture believes and then bend their beliefs to look like their culture. They go to the culture and live out their Muslim identity within and they don't bend it for anyone. They know they are bad at contextualization and they don't care. I can't imagine how successful they would be if they were to contextualize their religion. The point is, they have a take it or leave it attitude with their religion. They don't bend over for the culture they are in, but they ask those within the culture to submit to Allah within their religion. They believe that Allah knows best, not the precepts of man.
These are the four reasons I see why Islam is growing. I don't believe they are growing Islam through fear, but through truly living what they preach. So, how should Christians respond? If you look around on the internet, what you'll see is much hatred, fear and lying going on to try and stop Islam. The problem (I say this tongue in cheek) is that Muslims suffer very well and grow from that suffering. Here is how I think we should respond as followers of Jesus.
1. Engage our Muslim friends to learn from them
A lot of the Muslims that I personally know are from a different culture than the West. A lot of them are closer to the culture of Jesus than I am. I can learn a lot about Jesus from learning about their culture and understanding of what they see as a persons rights verses their freedoms because of living in America. We can learn a deeper understanding of our own texts by listening and watching the Muslims up close. We can learn true community, we can learn hospitality, we can learn devotion, we can learn conviction.
2. Engage for Peace
Jesus tells us, blessed are peacemakers. By engaging our Muslims friends for peace, we are helping to restore our world from war and hatred and that is part of the good news of Jesus. Our Muslim friends are vilified and shown so much prejudice that we have no clue on. If we believe that all people have the Imago Dei, we should care when Muslims are treated unfairly. We should care when people lie about them, we should care when people treat them unfairly, we should care when people hate them. We should care, because Jesus cares and loves us and Jesus loves and cares for them. We need to engage our Muslims friends for peace because that is exactly what Jesus calls us to and would be doing if he was living amongst us now.
3. Pray for, Love and Bless our Muslim Friends
I have said this many times on this blog and it needs to continually be said. We are to pray for, love and bless our neighbors. By burning Qur'ans, picketing Mosques, and lying about them we are doing anything but loving them. We need to show Muslims that Christians can actually be like Jesus and love them. We need to show that we aren't like every other bigot, but we are transformed by the love of Jesus.
Islam is growing rapidly. Should we fear? No. Why would we? Should we scare other people because of the "Islamization of America"? Why? What is there to be scared of? Muslims are the nicest people I have run across and have taught me so much. I think there is much to gain if Islam continues to grow. I think there is a better way to engage the Muslim than on a picket line or in a debate. I think the better way is to invite them into our homes and invite them into our lives and to love them, pray for them, bless them and truly engage them as friends.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
This kind of stuff really saddens me to see the kind of fear and hatred that is being spread. To still associate what happened on 9/11 to all of Islam is just plain near sighted and ignorant. I say that we allow the masjid (or mosque) to open and then we open a church right next to it and start the conversation and dialogue through peacemaking initiatives. That would seem more productive and more like Jesus.
Blessed are the peacemakers.
Monday, August 09, 2010
Take a look at this project by a guy from my church who is doing what he can to show the homeless, that they aren't "the homeless" but they are people with a voice, with a name and people that are noticed and loved. Pretty cool what is going on.
Voices from the Refuge
Last night at Soma's MC Leaders Training meeting, we went over the prayers of Paul to see clearly how his prayers were in connection to making disciples. It was a pretty cool night. The one thing that I kept seeing is the depth of God's love that Paul wanted his people to understand, that is unknowable and surpasses understanding, and the fact that we have the God of creation, the power of the God who raised Jesus from the dead living within us. This fullness is amazing when one tries to grasp it. The question that kept coming in my mind was, "why don't I believe that the same God who was all through Acts is the same God who is with me now?" Why don't I expect big things, instead of settling for crappy? Why don't I believe that the harvest is ripe? I think it is because, I don't understand the depths of God's love for us and the power that is present within us. I think I am understanding more and more why Athanasius used terms that sounded crazy when speaking of us and deification. I won't go into it here, but when you read that Paul prays that the Ephesians would be filled with all the fullness of God, you can see why Athanasius used the terms he used.
Anyways...I just wanted to put up the prayers of Paul here so that I could have them for later use, and would encourage you to read through them and pray for the people in your life that you minister to.
15For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
9And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
8For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, 3remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 1:2-3
1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people
1 Timothy 2:1
3 I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.
2 Timothy 1:3
4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.
Thursday, August 05, 2010
This is actually a very honest question. I have always thought of Jesus as being the eternal Son of God, but I am just looking to see what this means. I am not doubting that Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity is eternal, or that he is the eternal Word of God, the Logos. What my question comes down to is sonship. I know MacArthur got in some trouble in the 1980's for believing Jesus was only God's Son at the incarnation. My question to anyone who wants to chime in is, "Where can we show that he is the eternal "Son"?" And...Is this heresy if people don't believe in eternal sonship? When I say eternal...I am not speaking of current to future eternal, but eternity past before the incarnation.
I am asking based on some verses such as:
For to which of the angels did He ever say,
“You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You”?
“I will be a Father to Him
And He shall be a Son to Me”?
I guess I mean...what does this verse mean if he is saying that "today I have begotten you"? And then speaking in future sense of the incarnation of "he shall be a Son to Me"?
Please play nice...these are just questions.
This Friday night, CAIR-WA is having their annual banquet and awards night. Some of my friends and I will be attending to build more friendships with Muslim leaders in the area to promote peace and build bridges between those within Christianity and Islam (around 600 people will be at this event). This particular event is one where we are going to really be there to support some of our Muslim friends. We pray that God blesses this event and that his grace is continually evident amongst both Muslims and Christians. If you would like to attend with us, we still have a few seats left at our tables. Please let me know ASAP if you would like to join us.