Sunday, August 30, 2009

"There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken." -CSL

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I fear...

I Fear I'm Ordinary, Just Like Everyone ...
By Andrew Schwab
Friday, August 21, 2009

Why do we all want to be such a big deal?

I am wrapping up a long day at the office, commuting home after a satisfying shift of hard, yet rewarding labor.

By “office,” I mean endless highway road, of course.
By “commuting,” I mean driving 28 hours from Minneapolis to Irvine, California.
By “shift” I mean a grueling seven-week tour of the U.S. and Canada which included more than 40 shows.

Exhausted, homesick, yet contemplative, we sit inside our chariot, reflecting on the highlights of yet another string of memories. The high points are not what you might think—it’s not merch sales, moving units, or packed shows. It’s not the buzz of kids that know the words to songs or the night we sounded our very best. It’s not even when we played in cool towns like Montreal or NYC. Don’t get me wrong—All of these things are icing, and definite morale boosters. But when I think back on a trip today it’s not the numbers that stick out in my brain. No, it’s the meaningful, soul-searching, real conversations that are had with people along the way that is the true currency of doing what we do.

The candid confessions and fellowship shared with another band member in the bus.
The prayer given to a hurting soul who was touched by a song you happened to write.
The person who comes to a new place of faith after post-show banter with you.

These are the moments that keep you knowing you are doing something that matters, something that is eternal, and most of all, real.

It’s funny how the most important, life-giving moments are the ones not spent under fluorescent skies. They are the ones that involve very little self-glory.

I didn’t used to feel this way. To be honest, for the longest time no matter how many meaningful things were going on around me, I found no satisfaction in any of it. Because when your treasure is success for success’ sake—or when recognition is your currency—you will never find peace in the things that truly matter. And I was so busy comparing the opportunities of my own career to those around me, always sacrificing the joy of the moment because my eyes were so fixed on climbing to the next level of status.

I missed out on countless tastes of true peace because I was always bent on becoming more...important.

But what makes a person “important” in the eternal sense? Is it simply the recognition of his/her peers, or is it something much greater, yet much more humbling at the same time?

I thought about this throughout our most recent journey. And what brought it to the forefront of my mind even more was when I had the opportunity to speak to others, every night, who were on their own journeys toward meaning. The conversations would go something like this:

“Hey Andrew, I am (insert name here) from (insert band name, Facebook link, clothing company, Christian gameshow here). I was just talking to (insert name drop of relevant Christian celebrity here to make a point of connection) recently, asking them how I can ‘make it,’ and I thought I would talk to you about it as well. Do you think you can give me some advice on how to become successful? Do you think you can (listen, read, peruse, examine, critique, review, etc.) my (CD, 8-track, book, t-shirt, zine, short discertation, etc.) and tell me how I can be successful in (music, writing, youth pastorship, Christian racecar driving, etc.)? Thanks, man. Here’s my email address.”

Many of the conversations I had with people at our shows this summer consisted of someone networking me to promote themselves or their band or their ... you get the idea.

Asking me to give them advice on becoming a celebrity of some sort.

The questions I wanted to ask in return are these: What is wrong with just being you? Do you think being recognized or perceived as important will bring more peace and happiness to your existence?

The honest answer is “yes.” We do think being recognized will bring us more happiness, because we have become a culture obsessed. Obsessed with what? Obsessed with becoming somebodies. We are consumed with self-promotion, the elevation of our own perceptions. The hottest commodity and the ultimate currency in our world today is ...


Everyone is in a band. Everyone is fighting to be on TV or reality TV or bizarro TV (also called YouTube). Everyone is pushing a new “ministry” or “revolution” or “brand” or “consciousness.” And everyone wants to be the man. Or woman. Or Christian gameshow host.

We are a culture of indians who are obsessed with becoming chiefs.

Because we think that will bring us happiness.

Now, I know the chief/indian complex about as well as anyone because, well, I have lived it for quite a while now. And I can tell you a few things about what it truly means to become a “somebody.” Here it is, plain and simple:

We are taught by the world around us, beginning in Kindergarten, that recognition from your fellow human being is the ultimate prize in this life. This is reinforced by everyone from our friends to our parents to our teachers to our role models when they tell us, "You are a winner if you are popular. You are great if you stand out above the crowd. You are memorable if, and only if, you do something awe-inspiring."

In other words, you are special only if others talk about you, if you have some sort of fame.

The only problem is that 1% of 1% of us will ever become known, noteworthy, a celebrity of some sorts. So where does that leave the rest of us? Fighting desperately with one another to get the coveted prize, which will always seem to elude us. It means that, at least in the eyes of the world (including the Christian world, it seems), 99.9% will be...meaningless?

Because there is nothing worse than being ordinary.

You had better believe this is a lie, and a big one.

Because there are more than a few holes in this philosophy. What happens when you get the recognition? What does it do to us as people? What about the model who is so beautiful and loved on the outside, but who is an absolute train wreck of eating disorders and drugs on the inside? What about the frontman for the band who falls into debauchery once he finds success? What about the pastor who gives into corruption once his church finds financial blessing? What about Britney? What about MJ?

I could list a ton of examples, but you don’t need me to. Because you have seen it with your own eyes often enough: The recognition we seek will only leads to our destruction when we make it our treasure. Fame leads to pride. Success leads to more temptation. Glory leads to corruption. It seems to me like we weren’t made for these things, that we were constructed to find peace in something else ...

Didn’t someone we know tell us that meaning is found in exactly the opposite approach? Doesn’t the Bible tell us that God chose the things that are not to shame the things that are? Doesn’t it say that God is with the lowly things, the have-nots? Doesn’t it say over and over again that meaning is found in service, and that true peace is found in taking a backseat to those you love?

Yes, it does.

Consider this: Meaning is not found in the acceptance of other people. And you are not special because of what others say about you. In fact, what others think or say about you does not alter your value in any way, shape, or form. You are not valuable because of how many Facebook friends you have or because your band packs out a venue, or because people read your blogs.

Your value is not based on opinion.

And conversely, you are not worthless if you are not recognized on the streets. You have value, really and truly, because of who you are, not because of who knows you. Or who you know. You don’t need to be someone else to be great. You don’t need to compare yourself to anyone, because no one is like you.

And finally, consider what you are running after. There is no peace found at the end of that road. In fact, there are just more landmines, fake friends, and hands trying to pull you down.

It is for this reason that God cares much more about our character than our success.


Because fame is infamy.

Andrew Schwab is the lead singer and main lyricist for the band Project 86, and author of several books.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Church of the Redundant

Note: I pretty much like the whole thing so I'm going to bold or italicize anything lol

The Church of the Redundant
January 8, 2008
by Dan Edelen

No one wants to think about a pastor dying unexpectedly, but what if yours did?

The church I attend had their 46-year-old pastor die of cancer a few years ago. It wasn’t completely unexpected, but he’d appeared to make a full recovery—only to succumb shortly after returning to the pulpit. People were shocked.

Now the elders in my church held the church together for a year or so while they sought a new pastor. My wife and I came on-board right as the new pastor was called. We feel blessed by this timing.

Some churches don’t recover, though, when a pastor dies or simply leaves for greener pastures. Or the children’s ministry director steps down and no one wants to step up. Or the worship pastor follows that dream to stardom in Nashville and the worship band sort of “goes to seed” in the aftermath of that departure.

It seems to me that a good many churches out there are cults. Not like Jehovah’s Witnesses, but cults of personality. They revolve around a few dynamic individuals. Should something happen to those dynamic individuals…well, you can see the handwriting forming on the wall.

It should never be that way.

Blame it on something in the drinking water in America, but we don’t do a very good job seeing ourselves as replaceable. Worse, people in leadership positions in churches take this to the extreme and find ways to keep from grooming successors. That dog-eat-dog, business world, CEO model permeates too much of our thinking, making us resistant to doing what’s best for the church, even if that best may not be the best for us personally.

The Bible has this to say,

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
—John 12:24-25

The church that makes a difference is the one that understands that nothing good from anything that hasn’t died first. In this case, the truth is that I, along with you, must die to any preconceptions I have about “my ministry.” It’s not my ministry anymore than it is yours. It’s the Lord’s. And He only works wonders when the people trust Him enough to do it His way.

When we build our churches on a handful of talented individuals, we only set ourselves up for failure. Our goal instead should be to build a church where each person is replaceable, no matter how much a person might give to the ministry of the church in terms of time, effort, and money.

You see, when we’re dead, none of that worldly striving for position matters. It no longer becomes “my ministry.” The goal isn’t to play out my ministry, but to ensure that Christ plays out His, even if it means I wind up martyred for it. Because I’m replaceable.

Viewed that way, our entire perspective on how we disciple and raise up leaders must change. It forces us to see every person in the seats as a leader on some level or other. It means that anyone should be able to step up into any position within a church at a moments notice. And that’s because God often taps people for ministry on a moment’s notice.

Instead, we’ve created a model where a few of the dynamic people carry those who are all too willing to take up space. And this is what passes for church in far too many congregations out there.

Or we have the reverse where the leadership doesn’t resemble the boardroom of Procter & Gamble, so a handful of self-appointed leaders in the pews clamor to do it their way. Talk about toxic! So much for dying to self and putting the needs of others first.

When you look around the world at places where the Church is growing exponentially, it’s largely in those places where the Christians understand that everyone should be replaceable. The leaders realize they may not be around tomorrow, so redundancy is key. The Enemy can’t cut off the heads of leadership because, like a hydra, more will just grow out of the stumps.

But we’re not at that place in the U.S. Our own history of self-made men and pioneers makes that kind of selflessness impossible without a serious overhaul of our own identity as Americans. But our identity is found in Christ, not the Founding Fathers. And even they were pretty selfless when it came to founding this country.

I suspect that Darwinistic survival of the fittest concepts drive too many of us for us to see ourselves as redundant. But I also think that’s the only way we’re going to weather the storms that come our way as a Body of Believers in America.

Should it be so difficult, really? I don’t think it needs to be. It just means putting down “me” and taking up the cross. It means not thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought and esteeming others better. It means working to ensure that no one in our churches is irreplaceable. It means making disciples that conform, each and every one, to the image of Christ and not our own image.

I started out 2008 writing that this needs to be a year where we listen to the Holy Spirit like we’ve never listened before. I also think that 2008 is the year where the Church in America gets serious about laying down self. If it’s about maximizing the 401k plan, then we’re not going to work to make ourselves redundant. If it’s about maintaining a pretty Evangelical kingdom of our own making, then we’re never going to be humble enough to say, “Lord, here I am. Use me up.” We’ll never make ourselves expendable for the only Kingdom that counts.

Aren’t we all tired of living for ourselves? Aren’t we all a little bit burned out of rushing to and fro to keep the world’s plates spinning?

So where do we go from here, army of the redundant?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

You know what I so appreciate about God--He knows exactly what I can handle and then rescues me.

Mind you I hate it when I'm in the middle of something and I wish that he wouldn't let me handle anything.

But ya know--he's smarter than I am...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A friend loves at all times.

Not just the times when convenient.
Not just the times when it's easy.
Not just the times when they are loved in return.

All the time.

God help me do this.

I'm called to this right now--help me do it and do it well.
"love is unconditional. it is giving as God has given me."
Dear God--help me get this...

Clive Calver

Micah 6:8
He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

"Amos has written a whole book on doing justice; Hosea has written a whole book on loving mercy; Isaiah has written a whole book on walking humbly before your God. But Micah is going to sum it up in one wonderful expression--what does God want of you!?
He wants you to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before Him.
And ofcourse Micah got it wrong,and we now know better. We know what God requires of us is to read our bibles, pray, and go to church. Now don't get me wrong.
There's nothing wrong with praying--if you love the living God you'll talk to Him. There's nothing wrong with going to Church--the author of the epistle to the Hebrews says, "Don't neglect meeting together as is the habit of some." That's really important; Thomas missed out on the first meeting of the church so he missed out on the Lord of the church. Don't fire when it comes to getting together. And don't miss out reading your Bible, you want a living God's world, God's way--read God's word, it's absolutely crucial! But reading your bible, praying, and going to church are not the evidence of your faith! They're the benefits, they're the blessings of your faith. The evidence of your faith! What the world is world is waiting to see! Is that you do justice.... love mercy.... and you walk humbly with your God."

"What do they mean? Well it's like going up a staircase and Micah starts at the bottom-- the lowest rung is doing justice. And it's not speak justice. It's not sign a petition or make a public statement. Justice is something you do and doing justice means giving people what they deserve- giving people what they should have the right to have. We're here to do justice folks."

"Then Micah takes it up a notch--love mercy. Hosea calls it loving kindness it's the loving kindness of God. And we're called to love mercy and mercy means giving people what they don't deserve."

"You do justice--it means you give people what is their right. You love mercy--means you give people what goes way beyond their right.
And then the third one is walking humbly with your God. And the problem is when you do justice and you love mercy you normally get proud of it. And that's why it's so important to walk humbly with your God."

"So God sent his first born, his only Son and he died. The only one who'd done justice, loved mercy, and walked humbly with his God--gave his life. Why? 'Cause you can't even do justice--let alone, love mercy and walk humbly with your God. You can't even give people what they deserve. You can't do it. And because you can't; Jesus died. And he died not in order that you might read your bible, pray, and go to church. He died that in order that when his spirit came and flooded your life--you would have the power to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him. What comes first? What's the most important? The proclamation of the Gospel. Because you can't do social action without Jesus."

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Cause I can't shut up about this sort of thing? =P

Just the Audio:

With Video!

Ok so I talked with Mrs. Glacken tonight about this message that I listened to earlier today and I very much enjoyed it.... So if you would listen (or watch) it please it would make me happpy =)

To those of you who haven't heard of Francis--(You must not have known me for very long if this is the case =P) He's a pastor of a very box breaking church down in SoCal. He has left for the summer to start some meetings in LA county--this is from the first one.


I don't know anyone's heart--but I think he gets it. =)

I have hundreds of sermons he's given if you'd like to listen to any more too. =P

Dumm dee dummm

Friday, August 7, 2009

So, is Drinking Ok? Dancing? Smoking? (I like it--made me think =))

So, is Drinking OK?
Jason Boyett

Question: Which is better? Fishing with one Baptist or two Baptists?

Answer: Two. If you take one, you’ll have to share your beer. If you take two, you’ll have the beer to yourself, because Baptists won’t drink in front of each other.

I’m not much of a drinker. I didn’t drink alcohol at all until I was 22 years old. And these days, I might have little more than the equivalent of two 6-packs over the course of a year. A Coors or Shiner Bock when I play poker with my brother’s friends. The occasional mixed drink when hanging with another couple from our church. And should I find myself in the Caribbean, I’m man enough to admit I really like banana coladas—not the virgin ones my wife prefers, but the real thing. And that’s pretty much it.

Other confessions: I like to smoke when I go fly-fishing, because campfires are better with a good cigar, and mountain air is fresher after a cigarette. Furthermore, I play cards, invest in the stock market, let my wife manage our family’s finances and used to watch “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” with devoted regularity.

Next time you’re in a church service, fold a paper airplane out of the bulletin, give it a good toss, and chances are you’ll hit someone who thinks at least one of the activities above are sinful. Problem is, none of them are expressly prohibited by anything in the Bible, unless you do tricky things with the language or remove things from context. That’s one of the big struggles with being a Christian in a society two millennia removed from the time the last of our scriptures were written—all the gray areas. Jesus never said, “Disciples, don’t drink alcohol.” He never told any parables about the effects of R-rated movies on his followers. He never chastised the Pharisees for spending too much time playing video games. Of course, he was pretty clear on things like adultery and divorce. And he really got worked up when the religious folks passed judgment on those who didn’t live up to their lengthy lists of societal and religious rules.

When Jesus walked around Palestine, the people who most upset him were the Pharisees. Why? Because they focused on their petty, pseudo-religious rules while losing sight of the important stuff like loving God and loving people. We do the same today. Lots of the “rules” of our comfortable Christian subculture are based more on tradition than the Bible. They have more to do with the notion of “being separate” from the world than being made in the image of Christ. And how significant is it that this attitude of separation places great emphasis on some issues of outward appearance (alcohol, smoking, tattoos, entertainment) and not others (unthinking consumerism, gluttony)?

Which brings us to the issue of drinking alcohol. Many readers strongly believe the Bible is clear in its prohibition of alcoholic beverages. Others believe Scripture doesn’t precisely disallow it, but feel it’s best in today’s society to abstain. And there are still others who think there is absolutely nothing wrong with drinking, while recognizing that drunkenness is very much a sinful act.

Some Christians go even further on the issue and don’t condemn drunkenness. A good friend of mine got to spend an evening with the members of a notable hardcore Christian band. After a concert at a local Christian venue, they all proceeded to a local bar and got plastered—the band, their management, the venue’s promoters, everyone. My friend ended up actually escorting the entourage around that evening because she was the only one in any condition to drive. Needless to say, it was a very long, weird night for her. She wondered if her local Christian bookstore would still display their huge cardboard cutout of the band had they known what went on that evening.

That’s all there is to the story. You’re wondering who the band was, aren’t you? Why is that? Is it so you can judge them? Pray for them? Join them? What’s the Christian response to that kind of story?

Let’s leave those questions aside and just look at some of the issues regarding the Bible and alcohol.

Grape Juice
I attend a Southern Baptist church. I’m not much of a Southern Baptist myself, but that’s a long story, and I won’t get into it. Anyway. Whenever a discussion of alcohol comes up among members of my congregation, and someone mentions the story about Jesus turning water into wine for his first public miracle, one point is inevitably made: that the wine back then was watered down so much it had little or no alcoholic content, making it barely more than grape juice.

That sounds good, and it’s an easy way to justify the nearly 50 times wine is mentioned in the Bible as one of God’s blessings. It also helps account for the many times the taking of wine or alcoholic drink is referenced neutrally, as nothing but a common cultural practice. But there are some problems with the “it was only grape juice” argument. How did the communion-takers in Corinth get drunk off of grape juice? Why did the Good Samaritan pour grape juice on the wounds of the assaulted man in Jesus’ parable? Why does Paul warn us not to “be drunk with wine”? Why were the apostles at Pentecost accused of being full of wine when they began speaking in tongues? Is strange behavior usually rationalized because someone’s been sipping the Ocean Spray? Yes, there were several different kinds of wine in the Bible with varying amounts of alcohol — but it was at a sufficient level for drunkenness to be an issue. People got drunk back then just like they do today. My guess is that Bible wine is exactly what it says it is.

Being a Stumbling Block
A more reasonable argument against wine is made based on an interpretation of Romans 14:21: “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.” Based on the context of this verse, causing a fellow Christian “to fall” means causing him to do something that violates his conscience by imitating an action he believes to be wrong. This is how we usually interpret the scenario: I go to Wal-Mart and grab a six-pack. Bob sees me standing in line with my hands full of Coors. Bob thinks to himself, “Hmmmm … I’ve always been taught that drinking beer is sinful, but since Jason’s doing it, I think I’ll give it a try.” And so Bob drinks alcohol, even though he has been taught—and he himself believes—that the action is a sin. Bad for Bob, and bad for me, too.

Abstinence (or, perhaps, sneakiness) makes a lot of sense in this case, but let’s not consider the matter settled yet. There are three specific actions in the verse: 1) Eating meat; 2) Drinking wine; and 3) Doing anything else.

That pretty much covers everything, doesn’t it? And it’s just as clear on meat as it is on wine. Let’s consider our Seventh-Day Adventist brethren, who hold it as a doctrine that the eating of meat is wrong. Many believers have problems with SDA doctrine, but among most they are still considered to be a Christian denomination. So do you also think of Romans 14:21 when you pull up at the Burger King drive-thru? When you fire up the backyard grill? When you’re carrying a couple of steaks through the line at the supermarket?

For those who take the Bible seriously, the proper application of the verse becomes a problem. Because in addition to being a teetotaler, you’d better also be a vegetarian.1

And we haven’t even touched the “doing anything else” part. Keep in mind that almost anything we do in our current culture has been labeled sinful by some aspect of Christianity. The list includes dancing, wearing makeup, women wearing shorts, listening to rock music, swimming in mixed company or buying anything on a Sunday. The list goes on and on. How do we apply Romans 14:21 consistently without living in constant fear that we’re causing a fellow Christian to stumble? How do we faithfully “avoid the appearance of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22) when evil can be almost anything?

To close out this point, remember this: Jesus greatly offended the Pharisees. He certainly spent time with the wrong people, and he drank enough for them to label him a drunkard (Matt. 11:19). It’s pretty clear he did enough to be a stumbling block (1 Cor. 10:32) of some sort to them. After all, they put him to death. Would that qualify for failing to “avoid the appearance of evil”? Jesus didn’t sin, did he?

Considering Our Society
It is estimated that there are more than five million alcoholics in the U.S. alone, and another four million that are considered problem drinkers. The mortality rate is 2.5 times higher among alcoholics than for the general population. Suicide rates are nearly three times higher. Accidental death rates are seven times higher. Up to 40 percent of all traffic fatalities and a third of all traffic injuries are related to the abuse of alcohol. One-third of all suicides and mental health disorders are estimated to be associated with serious alcohol abuse. And that’s just among adult —recent estimates identify more than three million problem drinkers between the ages of 14 and 17 in the United States.2 Clearly, the abuse of alcohol has a devastating effect on our society. It messes people up.

Even if the Bible doesn’t condemn wine, wouldn’t we be better off in today’s culture — where it seems more people are likely to abuse alcohol than to enjoy it responsibly — to forgo it completely? It’s a logical argument on the surface, and one Christians have been using since the days of Prohibition. But there’s one problem: it’s pretty much moral relativism.3

Here’s the logic (or illogic): Thirty or forty years ago, our culture as a whole frowned upon things like divorce, adultery and sexual immorality. Why? Because the Bible said they were morally wrong, for one thing. Yet in today’s society, people hardly bat an eye about divorce. Everyone’s having adulterous and promiscuous sex with everyone else, and homosexuality has entered the mainstream. Our culture accepts these actions, but Christians continue to resist them because we believe the Bible calls them sin. And if something was a sin 2,000 years ago, it’s still sinful now. If Scripture is what we say it is, then you can’t eliminate certain parts of it because our society has changed. You can’t rewrite the Bible to accommodate today’s cultural standards. Sins are moral issues, not cultural ones. Got it?

Now, let’s apply that logic to alcohol. If we can’t drop sins from the list for cultural reasons, wouldn’t it be equally wrong to add them to the list for the same reasons? The opposite of the statement in the paragraph above also applies: If something was not a sin in 1st century Palestine, then it can’t be a sin now.And isn’t making ourselves the definers of sin a little too close to saying we’re better than God? At the least, it’s legalistic and Pharasaical. Remember who Jesus kept calling a “brood of vipers”? Here’s a hint—it wasn’t the immoral, the prostitutes, or the drunkards. Nope. It was the churchy people who burdened the above with too many rules.

Judgment and Fear
Let’s think again about the Christian band with whom my friend spent a saucy evening. What was your immediate reaction to that story? I can think of several possible reactions among readers of RELEVANT:
1) Excitement. Who are these guys? I need to know who they are so I can add another celebrity name to my list of Christians who think it’s OK to drink.
2) Anger. Who do these guys think they are? Don’t they know they’re examples to our youth? How irresponsible!
3) Sadness. Why does everything have to be so hard? Why is it so hard to enjoy something without eventually messing it up?

That brings us to the root of the issue. All the arguing about whether or not the Bible says it’s OK to drink really ends up saying much more about the arguers than the topic. I get the feeling that many of those who vehemently defend their rights to be Christian drinkers do so because, well, they’re nervous about being Christian drinkers. As my sister, Micha (a regular RELEVANT contributor), says, “It seems like we have to speak so loudly about why we’re free to smoke and drink because deep down we worry we might be wrong.” Same goes for the teetotalers, who argue and quote verses because they’re afraid to face the ease with which they pass judgment on their drinking brethren.

Both sides make good points, and both sides are wrong. Why? Because either way the focus is on rules. It’s all legalism. Does the Bible say don’t drink? Not exactly, so I can drink. Does the Bible say don’t drink? Not exactly, so I better not drink.

Here’s Micha again, because she says it so well: “It’s hard to tell people to be well-balanced — to drink, but not to drink too much. Because drinking screws people up, and how could Jesus have been a part of something that can turn bad so quickly? The truth is, none of us are very good at identifying and following our conscience. It’s hard to hear that still, small voice, and even harder to trust it. So we would rather have rulesAnd don’t the rules end up screwing us up just as much in the end?”

So those are the questions we’re left with, and there really aren’t any good answers. I could write that the Bible doesn’t say drinking is a sin (which I believe), but lots of readers will still disagree with me. I could also say that many of the drinkers’ arguments are based on their own fear of being wrong (which I also believe), but those readers will disagree with me, too. I could be angry about the Christian band, or I could feel some sort of kinship with them based upon their penchant for alcohol. But mostly I’m just sad, because it’s so hard to be like Jesus.

That said, I’ll close with two statements I think we all can agree on: Too much drinking does bad things to peopleSo does too much judgment.

1 This argument is explained in greater detail by Daniel Whitfield in a 1996 article entitled “Alcohol & the Bible,” which can be read here.

2 Encyclopedia Brittanica, online edition (

3 Again, I’m indebted to Whitfield for this one.

Originally published on in 2003.)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dum dee dumm *good article*

*Feel free to skip down a bit to the article--cause if you don't have alot of time to read, I'd rather you read it*

I thought this was a great article. No, I don't know if this lady is a Christian, and yes I realize that joy only comes from Christ not from inside ourselves. But I believe truth and beauty and wisdom and love can be revealed by God in all sorts of ways to us if we are looking for it.

And I wanna love like this. I want to be secure enough with my identity with God that I can love people, friends, family, whomever I may marry--like this.

It's been said that hurt people--well they hurt people. I don't want to be a hurt person that takes out all my pain out on other people--even the one that may be hurting me. I may need distance, I may need time, but I don't want to lash out.

Unfortunately...I do. I lash, I rant, I cry. Never said I was perfect kids. But hey I'm learning, trying to learn...

Anyways here's the article...

August 2, 2009
Modern Love
Those Aren’t Fighting Words, Dear

LET’S say you have what you believe to be a healthy marriage. You’re still friends and lovers after spending more than half of your lives together. The dreams you set out to achieve in your 20s — gazing into each other’s eyes in candlelit city bistros when you were single and skinny — have for the most part come true.

Two decades later you have the 20 acres of land, the farmhouse, the children, the dogs and horses. You’re the parents you said you would be, full of love and guidance. You’ve done it all: Disneyland, camping, Hawaii, Mexico, city living, stargazing.

Sure, you have your marital issues, but on the whole you feel so self-satisfied about how things have worked out that you would never, in your wildest nightmares, think you would hear these words from your husband one fine summer day: “I don’t love you anymore. I’m not sure I ever did. I’m moving out. The kids will understand. They’ll want me to be happy.”

But wait. This isn’t the divorce story you think it is. Neither is it a begging-him-to-stay story. It’s a story about hearing your husband say “I don’t love you anymore” and deciding not to believe him. And what can happen as a result.

Here’s a visual: Child throws a temper tantrum. Tries to hit his mother. But the mother doesn’t hit back, lecture or punish. Instead, she ducks. Then she tries to go about her business as if the tantrum isn’t happening. She doesn’t “reward” the tantrum. She simply doesn’t take the tantrum personally because, after all, it’s not about her.

Let me be clear: I’m not saying my husband was throwing a child’s tantrum. No. He was in the grip of something else — a profound and far more troubling meltdown that comes not in childhood but in midlife, when we perceive that our personal trajectory is no longer arcing reliably upward as it once did. But I decided to respond the same way I’d responded to my children’s tantrums. And I kept responding to it that way. For four months.

“I don’t love you anymore. I’m not sure I ever did.”

His words came at me like a speeding fist, like a sucker punch, yet somehow in that moment I was able to duck. And once I recovered and composed myself, I managed to say, “I don’t buy it.” Because I didn’t.

He drew back in surprise. Apparently he’d expected me to burst into tears, to rage at him, to threaten him with a custody battle. Or beg him to change his mind.

So he turned mean. “I don’t like what you’ve become.”

Gut-wrenching pause. How could he say such a thing? That’s when I really wanted to fight. To rage. To cry. But I didn’t.

Instead, a shroud of calm enveloped me, and I repeated those words: “I don’t buy it.”

You see, I’d recently committed to a non-negotiable understanding with myself. I’d committed to “The End of Suffering.” I’d finally managed to exile the voices in my head that told me my personal happiness was only as good as my outward success, rooted in things that were often outside my control. I’d seen the insanity of that equation and decided to take responsibility for my own happiness. And I mean all of it.

My husband hadn’t yet come to this understanding with himself. He had enjoyed many years of hard work, and its rewards had supported our family of four all along. But his new endeavor hadn’t been going so well, and his ability to be the breadwinner was in rapid decline. He’d been miserable about this, felt useless, was losing himself emotionally and letting himself go physically. And now he wanted out of our marriage; to be done with our family.

But I wasn’t buying it.

I said: “It’s not age-appropriate to expect children to be concerned with their parents’ happiness. Not unless you want to create co-dependents who’ll spend their lives in bad relationships and therapy. There are times in every relationship when the parties involved need a break. What can we do to give you the distance you need, without hurting the family?”

“Huh?” he said.

“Go trekking in Nepal. Build a yurt in the back meadow. Turn the garage studio into a man-cave. Get that drum set you’ve always wanted. Anything but hurting the children and me with a reckless move like the one you’re talking about.”

Then I repeated my line, “What can we do to give you the distance you need, without hurting the family?”


“How can we have a responsible distance?”

“I don’t want distance,” he said. “I want to move out.”

My mind raced. Was it another woman? Drugs? Unconscionable secrets? But I stopped myself. I would not suffer.

Instead, I went to my desk, Googled “responsible separation” and came up with a list. It included things like: Who’s allowed to use what credit cards? Who are the children allowed to see you with in town? Who’s allowed keys to what?

I looked through the list and passed it on to him.

His response: “Keys? We don’t even have keys to our house.”

I remained stoic. I could see pain in his eyes. Pain I recognized.

“Oh, I see what you’re doing,” he said. “You’re going to make me go into therapy. You’re not going to let me move out. You’re going to use the kids against me.”

“I never said that. I just asked: What can we do to give you the distance you need ... ”

“Stop saying that!”

Well, he didn’t move out.

Instead, he spent the summer being unreliable. He stopped coming home at his usual six o’clock. He would stay out late and not call. He blew off our entire Fourth of July — the parade, the barbecue, the fireworks — to go to someone else’s party. When he was at home, he was distant. He wouldn’t look me in the eye. He didn’t even wish me “Happy Birthday.”

But I didn’t play into it. I walked my line. I told the kids: “Daddy’s having a hard time as adults often do. But we’re a family, no matter what.” I was not going to suffer. And neither were they.

MY trusted friends were irate on my behalf. “How can you just stand by and accept this behavior? Kick him out! Get a lawyer!”

I walked my line with them, too. This man was hurting, yet his problem wasn’t mine to solve. In fact, I needed to get out of his way so he could solve it.

I know what you’re thinking: I’m a pushover. I’m weak and scared and would put up with anything to keep the family together. I’m probably one of those women who would endure physical abuse. But I can assure you, I’m not. I load 1,500-pound horses into trailers and gallop through the high country of Montana all summer. I went through Pitocin-induced natural childbirth. And a Caesarean section without follow-up drugs. I am handy with a chain saw.

I simply had come to understand that I was not at the root of my husband’s problem. He was. If he could turn his problem into a marital fight, he could make it about us. I needed to get out of the way so that wouldn’t happen.

Privately, I decided to give him time. Six months.

I had good days, and I had bad days. On the good days, I took the high road. I ignored his lashing out, his merciless jabs. On bad days, I would fester in the August sun while the kids ran through sprinklers, raging at him in my mind. But I never wavered. Although it may sound ridiculous to say “Don’t take it personally” when your husband tells you he no longer loves you, sometimes that’s exactly what you have to do.

Instead of issuing ultimatums, yelling, crying or begging, I presented him with options. I created a summer of fun for our family and welcomed him to share in it, or not — it was up to him. If he chose not to come along, we would miss him, but we would be just fine, thank you very much. And we were.

And, yeah, you can bet I wanted to sit him down and persuade him to stay. To love me. To fight for what we’ve created. You can bet I wanted to.

But I didn’t.

I barbecued. Made lemonade. Set the table for four. Loved him from afar.

And one day, there he was, home from work early, mowing the lawn. A man doesn’t mow his lawn if he’s going to leave it. Not this man. Then he fixed a door that had been broken for eight years. He made a comment about our front porch needing paint. Our front porch. He mentioned needing wood for next winter. The future. Little by little, he started talking about the future.

It was Thanksgiving dinner that sealed it. My husband bowed his head humbly and said, “I’m thankful for my family.”

He was back.

And I saw what had been missing: pride. He’d lost pride in himself. Maybe that’s what happens when our egos take a hit in midlife and we realize we’re not as young and golden anymore.

When life’s knocked us around. And our childhood myths reveal themselves to be just that. The truth feels like the biggest sucker-punch of them all: it’s not a spouse or land or a job or money that brings us happiness. Those achievements, those relationships, can enhance our happiness, yes, but happiness has to start from within. Relying on any other equation can be lethal.

My husband had become lost in the myth. But he found his way out. We’ve since had the hard conversations. In fact, he encouraged me to write about our ordeal. To help other couples who arrive at this juncture in life. People who feel scared and stuck. Who believe their temporary feelings are permanent. Who see an easy out, and think they can escape.

My husband tried to strike a deal. Blame me for his pain. Unload his feelings of personal disgrace onto me.

But I ducked. And I waited. And it worked.

Laura A. Munson is a writer who lives in Whitefish, Mont.

HT: Brant Hanson

Sunday, August 2, 2009

I hate and am so sick of emotional rollercoaster.

*this is lame face*

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I liked this alot too...Read it? Pretty please? Thoughts?

A Magna Carta
for Restoring the Supremacy of
Jesus Christ
A Jesus Manifesto
for the 21st Century Church
By Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola

Christians have made the gospel about so many things … things other than Christ.

Jesus Christ is the gravitational pull that brings everything together and gives them significance, reality, and meaning. Without him, all things lose their value. Without him, all things are but detached pieces floating around in space.

It is possible to emphasize a spiritual truth, value, virtue, or gift, yet miss Christ . . . who is the embodiment and incarnation of all spiritual truth, values, virtues, and gifts.

Seek a truth, a value, a virtue, or a spiritual gift, and you have obtained something dead.
Seek Christ, embrace Christ, know Christ, and you have touched him who is Life. And in him resides all Truth, Values, Virtues and Gifts in living color. Beauty has its meaning in the beauty of Christ, in whom is found all that makes us lovely and loveable.

What is Christianity? It is Christ. Nothing moreNothing less. Christianity is not an ideology. Christianity isnot a philosophy. Christianity is the ―good news that Beauty, Truth and Goodness are found in a person. Biblical community is founded and found on the connection to that person. Conversion is more than a change in direction; it’s a change in connection. Jesus’ use of the ancient Hebrew word shubh, or its Aramaic equivalent, to call for ―repentance implies not viewing God from a distance, but entering into a relationship where God is command central of the human connection.

In that regard, we feel a massive disconnection in the church today. Thus this manifesto.
We believe that the major disease of the church today is JDD: Jesus Deficit Disorder. The person of Jesus is increasingly politically incorrect, and is being replaced by the language of ―justice, ―the kingdom of God, ―values, and ―leadership principles.

In this hour, the testimony that we feel God has called us to bear centers on the primacy of the Lord Jesus Christ. Specifically . . .

1. The center and circumference of the Christian life is none other than the person of Christ. All other things, including things related to him and about him, are eclipsed by the sight of his peerless worth. Knowing Christ is Eternal Life. And knowing him profoundly, deeply, and in reality, as well as experiencing his unsearchable riches, is the chief pursuit of our lives, as it was for the first Christians. God is not so much about fixing things that have gone wrong in our lives as finding us in our brokenness and giving us Christ.

2. Jesus Christ cannot be separated from his teachings. Aristotle says to his disciples, ―Follow my teachings. Socrates says to his disciples, ―Follow my teachings. Buddha says to his disciples, ―Follow my meditations. Confucius says to his disciples, ―Follow my sayings. Muhammad says to his disciples, ―Follow my noble pillars. Jesus says to his disciples, ―Follow me. In all other religions, a follower can follow the teachings of its founder without having a relationship with that founder. Not so with Jesus Christ. The teachings of Jesus cannot be separated from Jesus himself. Jesus Christ is still alive and he embodies his teachings. It is a profound mistake, therefore, to treat Christ as simply the founder of a set of moral, ethical, or social teaching. The Lord Jesus and his teaching are one. The Medium and the Message are One. Christ is the incarnation of the Kingdom of God and the Sermon on the Mount.

3. God’s grand mission and eternal purpose in the earth and in heaven centers in Christ . . . both the individual Christ (the Head) and the corporate Christ (the Body). This universe is moving towards one final goal – the fullness of Christ where He shall fill all things with himself. To be truly missional, then, means constructing one’s life and ministry on Christ. He is both the heart and bloodstream of God’s plan. To miss this is to miss the plot; indeed, it is to miss everything.

4. Being a follower of Jesus does not involve imitation so much as it does implantation and
impartation. Incarnation–the notion that God connects to us in baby form and human touch—is the most shocking doctrine of the Christian religion. The incarnation is both once-and-for-all and ongoing, as the One ―who was and is to come‖ now is and lives his resurrection life in and through us. Incarnation doesn’t just apply to Jesus; it applies to every one of us. Of course, not in the same sacramental way. But close. We have been given God’s ―Spirit which makes Christ ―real in our lives. We have been made, as Peter puts it, ―partakers of the divine nature. How, then, in the face of so great a truth can we ask for toys and trinkets? How can we lust after lesser gifts and itch for religious and spiritual thingys? We’ve been touched from on high by the fires of the Almighty and given divine life. A life that has passed through death – the very resurrection life of the Son of God himself. How can we not be fired up?

To put it in a question: What was the engine, or the accelerator, of the Lord’s amazing life? What was the taproot or the headwaters of his outward behavior? It was this: Jesus lived by an indwelling Father. After his resurrection, the passage has now moved. What God the Father was to Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ is to you and to me. He’s our indwelling Presence, and we share in the life of Jesus’ own relationship with the Father. There is a vast ocean of difference between trying to compel Christians to imitate Jesus and learning how to impart an implanted Christ. The former only ends up in failure and frustration. The latter is the gateway to life and joy in our daying and our dying. We stand with Paul: ―Christ lives in me. Our life is Christ. In him do we live, breathe, and have our being. ―What would Jesus do? is not Christianity. Christianity asks: ―What is Christ doing through me … through us? And how is Jesus doing it?Following Jesus means ―trust and obey (respond), and living by his indwelling life through the power of the Spirit.

5. The ―Jesus of history cannot be disconnected from the ―Christ of faith. The Jesus who walked the shores of Galilee is the same person who indwells the church today. There is no disconnect between the Jesus of Mark’s Gospel and the incredible, all-inclusive, cosmic Christ of Paul’s letter to the Colossians. The Christ who lived in the first century has a pre-existence before time. He also has a post-existence after time. He is Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End, A and Z, all at the same time. He stands in the future and at the end of time at the same moment that He indwells every child of God. Failure to embrace these paradoxical truths has created monumental problems and has diminished the greatness of Christ in the eyes of God’s people.

6. It’s possible to confuse ―the cause of Christ with the person of Christ. When the early church said ―Jesus is Lord, they did not mean ―Jesus is my core value. Jesus isn’t a cause; he is a real and living person who can be known, loved, experienced, enthroned and embodied. Focusing on his cause or mission doesn’t equate focusing on or following him. It’s all too possible to serve ―the god of serving Jesus as opposed to serving him out of an enraptured heart that’s been captivated by his irresistible beauty and unfathomable love. Jesus led us to think of God differently, as relationship, as the God of all relationship.

7. Jesus Christ was not a social activist nor a moral philosopher. To pitch him that way is to drain his glory and dilute his excellence. Justice apart from Christ is a dead thing. The only battering ram that can storm the gates of hell is not the cry of Justice, but the name of Jesus. Jesus Christ is the embodiment of Justice, Peace, Holiness, Righteousness. He is the sum of all spiritual things, the ―strange attractor of the cosmos. When Jesus becomes an abstraction, faith loses its reproductive power. Jesus did not come to make bad people good. He came to make dead people live.

****Ming likes this part****
8. It is possible to confuse an academic knowledge or theology about Jesus with a personal knowledgeof the living Christ himselfThese two stand as far apart as do the hundred thousand million galaxies. The fullness of Christ can never be accessed through the frontal lobe alone. Christian faith claims to be rational, but also to reach out to touch ultimate mysteries. The cure for a big head is a big heart.

Jesus does not leave his disciples with CliffsNotes for a systematic theology. He leaves his disciples withbreath and body.

Jesus does not leave his disciples with a coherent and clear belief system by which to love God and others. Jesus gives his disciples wounds to touch and hands to heal.

Jesus does not leave his disciples with intellectual belief or a ―Christian worldview. He leaves his disciples with a relational faith.

Christians don’t follow a book. Christians follow a person, and this library of divinely inspired books we call ―The Holy Bible best help us follow that person. The Written Word is a map that leads us to The Living Word. Or as Jesus himself put it, ―All Scripture testifies of me. The Bible is not the destination; it’s a compass that points to Christ, heaven’s North Star.

The Bible does not offer a plan or a blueprint for living. The ―good news was not a new set of laws, or a new set of ethical injunctions, or a new and better PLAN. The ―good news was the story of a person’s life, as reflected in The Apostle’s Creed. The Mystery of Faith proclaims this narrative: ―Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again. The meaning of Christianity does not come from allegiance to complex theological doctrines, but a passionate love for a way of living in the world that revolves around following Jesus, who taught that love is what makes life a success . . . not wealth or health or anything else: but love. And God is love.

9. Only Jesus can transfix and then transfigure the void at the heart of the church. Jesus Christ cannot be separated from his church. While Jesus is distinct from his Bride, he is not separate from her. She is in fact his very own Body in the earth. God has chosen to vest all of power, authority, and life in the living Christ. And God in Christ is only known fully in and through his church. (As Paul said, ―The manifold wisdom of God – which is Christ – is known through the ekklesia.)

The Christian life, therefore, is not an individual pursuit. It’s a corporate journey. Knowing Christ and making him known is not an individual prospect. Those who insist on flying life solo will be brought to earth, with a crash. Thus Christ and his church are intimately joined and connected. What God has joined together, let no person put asunder. We were made for life with God; our only happiness is found in life with God. And God’s own pleasure and delight is found therein as well.

10. In a world which sings, ―Oh, who is this Jesus? and a church which sings, ―Oh, let’s all be like Jesus, who will sing with lungs of leather, ―Oh, how we love Jesus!

If Jesus could rise from the dead, we can at least rise from our bed, get off our couches and pews, and respond to the Lord’s resurrection life within us, joining Jesus in what he’s up to in the world. We call on others to join us—not in removing ourselves from planet Earth, but to plant our feet more firmly on the Earth while our spirits soar in the heavens of God’s pleasure and purpose. We are not of this world, but we live in this world for the Lord’s rights and interests.

We, collectively, as the ekklesia of God, are Christ in and to this world.

May God have a people on this earth who are a people of Christ, through Christ, and for Christ. A people of the cross. A people who are consumed with God’s eternal passion, which is to make his Son preeminent, supreme, and the head over all things visible and invisible. A people who have discovered the touch of the Almighty in the face of his glorious Son. A people who wish to know only Christ and him crucified, and to let everything else fall by the wayside. A people who are laying hold of his depths, discovering his riches, touching his life, and receiving his love, and making HIM in all of his unfathomable glory known to others.

The two of us may disagree about many things—be they ecclesiology, eschatology, soteriology, not to mention economics, globalism and politics.

But in our two most recent books—From Eternity to Here and So Beautiful—we have sounded forth a united trumpet. These books are the Manifests to this Manifesto. They each present the vision that has captured our hearts and that we wish to impart to the Body of Christ— ―This ONE THING I know (Jn.9:25) that is the ONE THING that unites us all:
Jesus the Christ.

Christians don’t follow Christianity; Christians follow Christ.
Christians don’t preach themselves; Christians proclaim Christ.
Christians don’t point people to core values; Christians point people to the cross.
Christians don’t preach about Christ: Christians preach Christ.

Over 300 years ago a German pastor wrote a hymn that built around the Name above all names:

Ask ye what great thing I know,
that delights and stirs me so?
What the high reward I win?
Whose the name I glory in?
Jesus Christ, the crucified.

This is that great thing I know;
this delights and stirs me so:
faith in him who died to save,
His who triumphed o’er the grave:
Jesus Christ, the crucified.