Friday, December 31, 2010

Must Fix Tags

I've become a police car magnet the last few days. It's very nerve wracking.

Twice in Leawood, KS.

Twice in Kansas City, MO.

I thought my goose was cooked this afternoon.

After I turned into the Phillips 66 he came through the lot from the west.

I decided I needed a bag of chips then!

Let's see--small IRA vs. losing mind over driving illegal automobile.

The IRA will be liquidated soon.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

More From the Innertubes--On Atheism

I wanted to look at more goodness on NYC's stumbling around with their blizzard (Michael Bloomberg sounded a lot like Mayor Funky there for a while!), and found this on the website of the New York Daily News.

This article sums up the way I feel rather well. The arrogance of many atheists--especially Bill Maher who frankly, I just can't stand. It isn't God that some of these people denigrate the most--it's people of faith. It is as if we are not intelligent or worth knowing if we happen to believe in God. Money quote:
It's these snarky and condescending rejections, not of faith itself but of those who profess it, that reflect a total unwillingness to learn something new about human nature, the world around us and even of science itself. While the neoatheists pay only cursory attention to dismantling arguments for God, they spend most of their time painting his followers as uncultured rubes. The fact that religion has inexplicably persisted, even despite Copernicus, Darwin and the Enlightenment, doesn't seem to have much sociological meaning for them
Go fight with God, please. I try hard to accept you on face value, without judgment for your atheism. I will not try to convince you to believe. I will not talk about "God things" unless we mutually agree to talk about "God things." In the end, we may end up agreeing to disagree about our respective faiths. However, your value as a person and as part of God's creation has not been diminished for me due to your beliefs. Do me a favor, and extend to me the same respect for my personal value and integrity even though I believe that there is a God.

BTW, the comments to this are hysterical! The atheists in the crowd are all upset that the author is sympathetic to believers. They engage in ad hominem attacks on her like crazy, calling her stupid among other things. My personal favorite--"AINO"--atheist in name only.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Around the Interwebs

Christmas day's op-ed page in the New York Times was just full of awesomeness. I posted on SKO on one bit of the awesome. Here is another--Ross Douthat on why Christmas is hard on Christians.

He is really using this as a gateway to introduce two authors who write about the death of Christendom. Most interesting. If we Christians are going to be one part of a multiplicity of cultures and ways of life, then witnessing goes from an intellectual or persuasive exercise to one that is more experiential in nature--how is our way of living a better way of living than other ways of living? (I know--define "better"--but in a way that space and ambiguity is in our favor. God can approach people with His grace in so many different ways, addressing so many needs!)

That means that when faith hits the road, it has to hit the road in a winsome way and in a flexible way. Not a wimpy way--Jesus wasn't wimpy in His calls to follow Him--but in a way that can be used by God's Holy Spirit to lead someone towards God. Not a waffling way--people really are looking for firm ground to stand on in these days when very little looks firm at all.

This feeds into this that I found on the Kansas City Star's religion blog.

The "money quote" (to borrow a phrase!)
But the answer to relativism is not false certitude. The answer is to be comfortable with ambiguity but to be committed to some foundational standards that help guide us through that ambiguity

This is why I count my blessings regularly that God led me to the corner of Christendom called Wesleyan. Wesleyans are allowed to think. Now, that also means we've been known to fight, but I like the freedom to think out loud and work out the trickier aspects of the faith. I've addressed this before, after an Adam Hamilton sermon:

I quote Pastor Hamilton in the beginning of the post:
Deep conviction, not deep certainty.
Closer to God, more aware of short comings and faults.
The more you know about God, the more you realize you do not know.
Less certainty, deeper conviction
Not all figured out...God so much bigger...willing to listen to others.
The more you grow, more you know, more you realize that you don't know
Hold fast to convictions...deeper experience with God...recognize that you don't have all the truths.
He is reflecting on the pharisees and how they became part of the plot to kill Jesus. How, because they were so legalistic and law driven that they couldn't see the way the Kingdom of God was to be set up--the Kingdom of God's love in the heart.

Great stuff--much food for thought for Christmas!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Candlelight Service

Sit in the choir loft? Not a problem! Best view in the house.

Church of the Resurrection 2300 Christmas eve service 2010. Place was packed out.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

Well, the weather is OK. I am helping with a couple services at the church, so I don't have too much time--managed to get up and do the emergency laundry I have needed to do for several days--yay! Now I have clean underwear...

The blog is yellow--I hope closer to gold--because He has come--the waiting of Advent is over. He came not as a King but as a baby to a young girl and a humble carpenter in a back water town in a remote corner of the Roman empire. The next time He comes he will wear the crown--but today we celebrate God's Son, who came to save us from our sins.

Christmas blessings to all!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Weather Woes

Last year, it thundered and rained during the 1800 and 2000 contemporary Christmas Eve eve services, and then we got 10 inches or so of snow on Christmas Eve.

Well, after a very quiet and dry late fall, the weather has set up to give us a storm coming in for Christmas Eve and the day before. (If Murphy wasn't in health care, he/she may have been clergy.) It is still too far out to be sure about timing and precipitation types, but a little somethin' somethin' will be here on Thursday.

Or it could be nothing.

We all know that forecasting snow in the Midwest is hard--remember the 4 inches of partly cloudy that one year? Right now, the schedule is SS Chat 'n' Chew Wednesday evening, CR Dinner followed by 2000 Christmas Eve eve service, and 2300 Christmas Eve service.

Fingers crossed here peeps, not just for my own travel, but the giving that is represented by these services. A lot of good is done with the money the church receives at offering during the bazillion pre-Christmas services.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Music

I am not a huge fan of Christmas music. There are things I really like, but the majority of "winter songs" leave me not wanting more. At this point, a week from December 25, even the Christian stations are playing a lot of Christmas stuff. Ugh. Reaching for the CDs now.

Here's a song I really like though by Barlow Girl. Very cool lyrics and very rich musically.

Merry Christmas everyone--"hallelujah we've been found!"

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Did It!

Well, now I am a member of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. I decided to join for several reasons
1. That little tiny bit more of accountability.
2. Opens up the congregational care position
3. An expression of gratitude for how the church has helped me in so many ways in the 16 months I have been attending.

I do feel bad that I have not yet notified Pastor Eric. No doubt if he has looked at things on Facebook, he knows I have been attending COR regularly. I am downloading Open Office so I can write a letter without all the format issues for printing at the library (since it's compatible with Word) and I will send him a note, hopefully before the membership release request gets to him. I might write the first draft here since it is going to take a hour to download Open Office.

I haven't announced it on FB since I don't really want Pastor Eric to find out that way. After the letter is written and on its way, I'll mention it.

It still is a little scary leaving the Church of the Nazarene--like leaving your childhood church. In a way it was my childhood church. And I could return--especially if I move some where where all the UM Churches are either way dead or way out theologically. But right now, this appears to be God's will for me.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Not Everything Is Beneficial

On Wednesday night I got in a conversation with Victor that ended up disturbing me greatly. He has been reading books by athiests like Dawkins et. al. You know the famous ones. He has been extolling how much he learned from these guys, these great scientists and philosophers who don't think there is a god.

A great deal of what is contained in these books is critique of the church. Now, Lord knows we can use critique! But to judge God based on the actions of His very much less than perfect followers--I don't care for that. I often don't know why God put so much in our finite, sin stained hands, but He did. Please look at God--honestly without a chip on the shoulder. If you want to say there is no god due to problems with the suffering of innocents or you just can't see how the science and faith work together, I can respect that. But don't dismiss God because Billy Graham said some things about racial issues that you don't like.

Victor keeps saying he's glad he's read these authors--that he has learned a lot. For me, it seems to be the equivalent of taking a revolver with a bullet in it and pointing it at your head--Russian Roulette--you don't know what chamber has the bullet in it. I guess by dint of my education and my reading, I am familiar with many of the objections to faith and I don't feel like I need further exposure. Not because I am sticking my head in the sand--I hear all the objections on a regular basis like any Christian. We will hear more and more of them as we get more post Christian, more secular and more post modern.

I believe that, while there may be a number of atheist people who honestly came to their conclusion 100% intellectually--many are just not willing to give up that control--it's a Lordship thing. Being saved is cool, but when God wants everything--well, that's not cool.

I think more and more we are going to find that many people will come to God with the realization that they are not the center of the universe and their lives are spinning out of control. It's the first step: Realize I am not God and my life is out of control. It's a big time slice of humble pie for humanity to take, and some are not ready to take it--and may never be.

For me, I'll admit it, I am taking time off from the McD's on Minor and Holmes--the words of Paul in my ears--not everything is beneficial (1 Corinthians 10). I was troubled all that late evening after returning home--found myself reciting Bible verses, praying a lot and remembering song and hymn lyrics to calm my heart and mind.

Faith is the evidence of things not seen...or even fully understood at times.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Great Question!

Pastor Hamilton asked this terrific question on Facebook tonight!
  • I've got a meeting tomorrow with a group of denominational leaders on the the essentials of effective pastoral leadership. I'd love your input: What are the five most important qualities of pastoral leaders that create or lead vibrant, alive churches?

    I was thinking back to Fred and Burlington-Williston. What did he do that made that church grow like it did? And he reproduced it in Weymouth. He wasn't heavily educated. He wasn't a great speaker/preacher. However, God used him mightily to grow the church. He was the person I had in my mind when I responded to the question myself.
    What a great question! The things I thought of are integrity, humility, ability to build community within the church and relate to the community outside the church, and the belief that God can really make a difference and change lives.
    28 minutes ago ·
    That was my snap answer--I might think on it some more. To rephrase the question just a little bit--what characteristics of a person enable the Holy Spirit to use that person to build His church?

    Remembering that it is God who builds His church!