Simplistic thinking + Our fallen nature = Destruction

karlMarxIf you took note of the books I’m currently reading (Listed in the GoodReads widget to the right, under the header), one of those books was the Communist Manifesto. This may cause some consternation among some of you. If you stick with me past this paragraph, you may be surprised. Here’s a bit that came out of my reading of the Communist Manifesto.

First and foremost, it’s large on generalities and short on complex details or thoughtful solutions to complex problems. It tries to build a case for one simple solution to an incredibly complex situation. That situation was the industrial revolution that began rocking the West in the mid 1800′s and into the 1900′s. Continue reading

Posted in Kingdom of God Conceptions, Misc | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Going the second mile for liberals, gays, Muslims, atheists, gun-haters, feminists, animal rightists etc.

woodsRoad_1I love the circles of mainly christian/evangelical, middle to upper middle class friends, family, work and acquaintances in which God has placed me. These spheres have multiple up-sides. Familiarity, less relational stress, religious/spiritual rapport and encouragement are just a few. But there’s a downside…

Especially vexing at times is how we in this clique tend to talk about those who are outside of this comfy ghetto. In our conversations and by extension, in our attitude, people who are liberals/Democrats, gays, Muslims, atheists, urbanites, environmentalists, gun-control advocates, mainline christians, animal rightists, feminists, or secular academia are generally feared, reviled or dismissed. Our chit-chat often mocks these people. We love jokes that make fun of these kinds of people. We imagine their thoughts and actions are ever plotting to persecute and destroy us. We celebrate their downfalls. We talk as if we know and understand their minds and intentions very well, but we rarely actually quote them (let alone sit down with them and hear their side). We repeat what we’ve heard media/religious ‘experts’ write or say about them, which is always how awful they are. We easily slip into exaggerating their faults and beliefs. We make them into unreconcilable monsters who deserve our scorn and who deserve retaliations via media, preaching/teaching, education, lawsuits, politicking or other end-justifies-the-means worldly machinations short of real violence against them. Continue reading

Posted in american churchianity, american culture | 1 Comment

Too intimate before it’s time…

mystery-couple-talkI remember many years ago listening to Focus on the Family and a discussion of the 12 steps to intimacy.  I’ve wondered about this process as it relates to the Church and its relationship with her suitor, Jesus Christ. Can a connection be made between the caution expressed in the 12 steps of intimacy and the feelings/emotionalism/romanticism emphasis of modern evangelical christianity? Could  the caution to not get too deep, too quickly apply to our relationship with God too? (individually and corporately) I don’t want to suggest that ‘not seeking to draw nigh to God’ is the right path, but is there an emphasis in our evangelical christianity that might push people to jump over or rush through needed steps in our path towards ultimate fellowship with almighty God? Continue reading

Posted in american churchianity | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What am I reading now? See the newly added widget.

Books: Lights of learning

Books: Lights of learning

One of the latest web things I’ve found and really like are online personal book catalogs. Recently I began using LibraryThing for our church library and I’ve started using a similar one called goodreads for my personal use. The great thing about both of these is the ability to link your book lists to widgets/code that shows and updates on your blogs or other social media. (An aside: In the little bit I’ve used them both, I’m leaning towards LibraryThing as the better of the two) So if you look at the top right of this page, you’ll see the goodreads box with the title “I am currently reading” on top, and there you’ll see book titles/covers I’m currently reading. Neat aye!

Posted in Misc | Leave a comment

I’m tired of…

tired-guyI’m grateful for the local church family that God has placed me in, and I believe God is using us together in some way despite our shortcomings. But there are times I feel an overwhelming sense of exasperation and disillusionment with the mainstream evangelical american stream of christianity in which we/I live and breath (church, work, facebook, basically everywhere) What follows is critique, but for me it’s also catharsis.

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Aaron Zook – At Rest in God’s Country

Uncle Aaron and skiing group

From left to right: Aaron, me, David, Nevin, and Jason

More than a week ago my uncle Aaron, the oldest in his family, went home to heaven May 31, 2013, after an extended illness. His family and friends gathered in Ohio June 3 to remember him and to lay his body to rest. Despite the bittersweet nature of our gathering, God’s grace to us was real. We were able to rejoice in the love and peace that God gave Aaron and his family. His passing brought to mind many memories for all of us. I have many as well, but there’s one that stuck with me for a long time after it occurred and will continue to impact my life into the future.

The picture at the top of this post was taken on the top of a slope in Calgary, Canada. The occasion was his son’s wedding to a lovely Canadian, Salina.  Aaron, his other son Nevin, two cousins and I took the opportunity to try out some super Rocky Mt skiing. Aaron was really plowing into the physical activity craze that he’d been able to indulge in recently and I was impressed by his vigor and stamina. Ever since then I’ve made it a personnel goal, God-willing, to be as energetic and fit as he was at that age. But this is not the thing that will really stick with me.

Continue reading

Posted in k.o.g. lifestyle, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Be normal – but with a dash of bold love

Not so normal...

Not so normal…

The other morning whilst driving to work, NPR provided a thought provoking chunk of spiritual food. A writer whose religion or lack thereof was not revealed, described some  anecdotes that could be found in his latest book. These stories consisted of his experiences in cafes. His most interesting story was a time when he saw a man sitting at a table with a gun in his lap. He sat down across from the man and found out he was working on a suicide note. The writer, who’d just been paid recently for a piece, offered to buy the gun from the down and out gentleman (I believe his desperation was due to financial difficulties and his wife leaving him). During their conversation he discovered more about the man and then offered him a phone and more money for a bus ticket home to his children/family. The man accepted the offers, gave up the gun, made the calls, and was soon on his way to family members – all of it paid and facilitated by the good samaritan. The storyteller/writer saved the man’s life. As I heard this story a few thoughts spoke to my spirit.

First, the writer helped this hurting man in a sacrificial way, having never seen the guy before. And he did it in a creative way. Instead of freaking out and trying to focus the guy’s attention away from suicide – he just offered to take away the means of destruction and with money – something the guy needed. He didn’t preach, berate or plead. It seemed that he approached the guy in a “normal” way as if the situation wasn’t as grave as it appeared and this brings me to my final point.

I wondered if I could do the same thing. I wondered if most of us religious, christian types wouldn’t step in with a load of christianeze to try to divert the suicidal from their intentions. Could we be “normal”… Thinking a prayer or dropping Jesus’ name into the mix may not have hurt either, but in this situation the lack of religiosity didn’t hinder a good outcome. Could I/we just be just as nice and normal in a peaceful, loving (and very effective) way to help someone like this in need?

Or do we – like I know I have and still do, when faced with an uncomfortable or unsettling situation, waste precious time or even miss an opportunity because our minds are racing trying to come up with the right “christianeze” – the ‘right, holy lingo’ to bring to the situation because that’s what good christians are supposed to do?

Do we hesitate to reach out because we haven’t figured out how to add the ‘soul-winning’ angle to the context? Or do we even intentionally reject doing simple, non-preachy kindness/niceness like this blogger describes in the opening lines to a recent post:

“We can’t support that?” the campus ministry leader informed us. “Not unless you include a tract or share the gospel in some way.” My college roommate Dave and I had requested some material and volunteer support from the parachurch organization for a new project Dave had initiated. He wanted to show God’s love on campus by raking leaves, cleaning frat houses, and providing hot chocolate on cold mornings. The ministry leader would have none of it. Showing kindness and love was not enough. For these acts to carry real value, he said, they had to be accompanied by something more.

Might it not be better to just do something – polite, friendly, kind, creative…in a way – kind of normal? And maybe the God-thing will just happen: a life will be touched: even changed forever?  And then quietly, humbly and without fanfare, we can give all the glory to God…and walk on to the next opportunity.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment