Saturday, March 26, 2005

rejected by dad

It seems to me that the humble and powerless in this world need their children. There is a need for giving birth to many kids just to run the farm and take care of the house. Poor parents celebrate their offspring.

If, however, one is a king, one's offspring becomes a threat to the throne. Royal parents must watch closely as their kids grow up. Their childrens' ability to overthrow is greater than anyone else. If a king wants to remain in power for a long time, he better try to destroy his kids and his cousins.

For decades now the conservative evangelical churches of America have been praying for and speaking about the need for a revival in America. I wonder if all those prayers are being answered. I wonder, however, if God's answer is not what they were expecting.

What if God is "reviving" the American church through what is being labeled as the "emergent church?" And maybe its growth is born not just out of young creative minds, but out of years of earnest prayer. But now it seems like some conservative evangelical leaders want to dismiss their own child. This makes sense from a position of power.

What the king may be overlooking, however, is that there are two ways to pass the crown to his predecessor. One is through a celebratory coronation ceremony. The other, through death.

new kind of war

The United Nations has taken some heat lately. People are questioning its validity and integrity as an institution. I wonder if the church could learn some lessons from the break down we see in the UN.

The UN was created essentially to avoid another World War. As to its success, that is questionable. All humanity knew of world war upon its creation was State vs. State or, better said, Allied States vs. Allied States. But at the height of modernity, the idea of State and the idea of institution itself began to break down.

When we look at the cold war, what the heck do we call that. In a sense it was state vs. state if one speaks in terms of US vs USSR. But deeper was a clash in governing philosophy. The war seemed more like Capitalism vs. Communism. And I would say that that war is not totally over.

In fact, that sort of war just seems to be growing. It seems to be Democracy vs Dictatorship or Capitalism vs. Islamic Fundamentalism. Its tough to label because much like the warring factions, the war itself continues to adapt, mutate, and grow. We could possibly classify it as guerrilla warfare or terrorism. The big bad "World Wars" seem inefficient these days. Its a paradox. If you want a truly global war, it must remain small, mobile and reproducible.

Complex command hierarchies are too easily destroyed. Self-contained cells are difficult to root out. So now, the UN is faced not with a State to State World War, but an intra-state global battle. The enemy does not label themselves with a nationality, but a belief. They are bonded not by loyalty to an institution but by relational/familial connectivity under a common mission. The UN is good at humanitarian stuff. Dealing with relief aid and disease issues seem to be a good part-time job for the UN. But as for the purpose of its original creation ... it has been rendered fairly impotent.

Could the church learn some lessons here? Rather than make broad claims on my own. I will let anyone who reads this draw their own conclusions.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

an egal's eye view

The other night some guys got together and began to discuss the topic of women. All of these men were married and were in their 30's (or look like they are in their 30's). I found myself in the minority not only as the only single guy there but as the only guy there with an egalitarian view of marriage.

Now, to the credit of these men, they all seem to be good husbands. They all seem to have successful marriages. And while their view could be considered a "complementarian" view of marriage, they all deeply respect, honor and cherish their wives. But I wondered why we could agree on so much, in terms of what marriage looks like, but not agree totally.

Many girls grow up in the church and Christian culture and are taught things like, "Your man needs to be a spiritual leader." To which I don't disagree. But somewhere along the way that phrase transitioned into, "Your man needs to be THE spiritual leader of the house/relationship." Now that last statement, I have issue with.

Saying that the husband is "THE" leader assumes that the wife is not leading, or at least is a secondary type leader. I disagree with this thought. My understanding is that Christ is the head of the house, not the husband. Both husband and wife mutually submit to each other as Eph. 5:21 calls for. And as both submit to each other, they do so out of reverence for Christ.

My married friends and I talked for a good hour about where they disagreed with me. I believe that both husband and wife lead. They do so in different ways. Both husband and wife bring their gifting to the table and lead out according to those gifts. Have you ever noticed how the very same girls that demand that their husband or boyfriend be "the spiritual leader" of their relationship also tend to pray much more than their man? So who is it that is "spiritually leading?"

My friends said that though both are servants in the home, there is just something different about the husband leading. Well, to that I say that both husband and wife lead differently. But one is no more "the" leader than the other. But aren't guys supposed to make the decisions? To that I say, they make some decisions and wives make others. The decisions are based on their giftedness, not necessarily on their gender.

So what if the husband and wife can't agree? Shouldn't the husband make the final decision? After all, isn't he the head? Well, by "head" if you mean "will give up his entire life for his wife" as Eph 5 says, then yes. He is the head. Which means he needs to be the first to submit. So who is it that is making the final decision? I say both do.

At Horizon Church, the leadership makes sure that with any big decision, we don't move forward unless we have a consensus. Which means that everyone has to agree to the decision that is being made or at least submit to it. Its not majority rule. There is no CEO making the final decision. If we can't come to a common decision, then we don't move forward. I think this would work beautifully in a marriage. I suspect this is what happens in my friends' marriages too, whether they want to admit it or not.

Why does this work? It works because both husband and wife are mutually submitting to each other. And they submit to each other after they have submitted their desires and their life to Christ. They seek God's will together. After all, scripture says that when two people become married, they become one. So if there is one that has the final say, it is the one that is formed by the union of the two.

Many of us guys grew up in churches that warned us that it was our responsibility to be the "spiritual leader" and the "head" of the house. Most of the women in church today grew up learning the same thing. They learned that they should look for a "spiritual leader." While some of this was a good thing, we may have overlooked the fallout.

Without realizing it, we were telling our girls that they not only can't but shouldn't be leaders. What if instead we told them that we are all called, as Christians, to lead others to Christ. We were all called to lead. Without realizing it, we kept our women from serving in roles where their giftedness could be used for the Kingdom of God. We inadvertently made it seem like men had a "special" role in the family while women were only good for "submitting."

I hope that our own daughters won't grow up with these man-made limitations on the gifts that God has given them. Women, what are your gifts? What are you good at? How do you relate to God? Take all of those things and lead. Lead in the church and lead in your family.

If you are great at making decisions, then lead out in that in your marriage. If you are good at nurturing then lead out in that. If your prayer life is deeper than your husband's, then you should be the one to lead your kids in how to pray. If you have a calling that moves in your life, then lead in that calling. And when you lead, submit. When you submit, serve. And as you serve, you lead. And the same goes for the men. Men, lead out in your gifting. As you lead, submit to your wife. As you submit, serve. And as you serve, you lead.

Maybe in the next generation of families and churches our daughters and grand-daughters will finally be free to participate powerfully in the kingdom of God. Until then, its up to this generation of men to both submit to their wives and lead. Its up to this generation of women, young and old, to both submit to their husbands and lead. And hopefully together, we can do this out of reverence for Christ as our submission is ultimately to Him.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

s'more community

Well, my hard drive died on me. I got a new one and upgraded at that. But for about the last week and a half I haven't had access to the internet. Wow, I didn't realize how dependent I was on things like email and search engines. But I am back in business now as my dad helped fix the configurations on my wireless network card. I still have some work ahead of me. I am now in the process of putting things back onto my computer.

I leave in a few days to lead a family ski retreat. It started out that I was going to the be the main speaker for a youth ski retreat. But as the people signed up they signed up as families. So now I am speaking four times to a group of about 50 adults, youth and some kids. Should be fun.

Much of my material is jumping off some ideas from the sermon series that we are doing at Horizon and some ideas from "Searching For God Knows What" by Donald Miller. The retreat will explore where we find our identity, value and worth post "Eden-exile."

If its true that humanity was designed to find our worth and identity outside of ourselves (in God) then what happens when we get kicked out of the Garden?
Separation from God has caused us to search elsewhere for value and meaning for our lives.

I am attempting to use the ingredients of a s'more to illustrate our human tendencies. Some of us tend to be marshmallows, some tend to be graham crackers and others chocolate bars. Now the real truth is that we all probably fluctuate back and forth between these three tendencies. But certain people for the most part take on these three characteristics as they search for identity and worth.

The Marshmallows stretch and bend to fit the people around them. They are sweet and soft at first, but they usually allow everyone around them to dictate to them their value. They are people pleasers. They want other people to like them because this is their main source of worth. They end up a mess, inside and out.

Others are Graham crackers. These people rebel against the idea of finding their identity in other people. They have bought into the western idea of individualism. They don't care what others think. They try to prove themselves to themselves. Their worth and identity are solely found within themselves. They seem hard and firm like the cracker. But like the cracker, they crumble easily.

And then there are the chocolate bars. These don't crumble. They do break, but they don't shatter. They are easily reshaped into a new form after melting. As God breaks them and melts them they are reformed into the image of Christ. These chocolate bars find their worth outside of themselves yet not in other people. Primarily, their worth and identity are from God. This balances their ability to have a strong sense of community as well as a strong sense of self.

So my four days of content will consist of one day for an intro and then three days for the three incredients of a s'more. In scripture, Paul mentions that the whole church functions as the temple of God. He also mentions that each person's body is a temple of God. I guess we could same the same of s'mores. It seems like each of us has these three tendencies at war within us. It also seems that individuals within the church community can play these three roles from time to time.