This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. (1 John 4:10 MSG)
Saw this today on Twitter and Facebook. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a full on theological heresy take shape. Thought I had cleaned up my stream from most of that. Not complaining, I love a good discussion – just let it be one where we learn from each other, ok? Not worth it if we end up burning one of us at the stake.
Pre-ordered here (amazon-affiliate link). I’m looking forward to more stretching.
Here’s a clip of my brother Jeff leading worship this past weekend in Goose Creek, SC. I like the drums/beat underlying the song, and think he does the work of bringing out the depth through the rest of the song:
Feel free to connect with him on twitter @jeffstilwell.
I should apologize for being a hypocrite. There is a part of me that is as involved as I want to be at church – which is to say, not much, and that’s working out okay for me at this point in the process. But then there are times, like this afternoon, like an online conversation over the weekend, that I get excited about church through someone else’s excitement, through someone else’s questions and search.
An online friend asked about services at our church. I admit, we take for granted that Seacoast-Irmo is a cool place to gather with Christians from so many different backgrounds and persuasions. I love questions about where we go to church, what’s the service like, I hear it’s casual, what time does everything start… It feels good to hear people search things out, and it feels good to point them in what I think is a positive moving-forward direction.
This afternoon on the way home, George told me how cool he thought the online service was yesterday morning. His first thoughts were that “online church” would be like our grandmothers watching First Baptist on TV, or shut-ins catching Sunday services after Meet The Press. But he was pleasantly surprised that the service was so well put together, that the message was on point for him – sounded like it was an unexpectedly cool experience. I love that, too – both seeing the thrill of surprise and feeling like I have some small part in fanning that flame. Hated to end the conversation.
Searching, seeking, questioning, surprise, thrill, hopeful joy – honestly, I could live off that stuff.
So I apologize. I’m a hypocrite. I don’t find myself searching so much, seeking so much, questioning so much. I don’t see myself surprised, thrilled. I’m not normally full of hopeful joy. At least not all the time. These days, not much of the time. But I know its power, and I remember how it feels, how it tastes. I’m not far, but “apart” is often far enough. Having stopped makes it that much harder to kickstart with any real meaning or enthusiasm.
Hmm. Maybe. But the other side of that is that I have still recognized it in others. So maybe there’s hope in there somewhere after all.
** UPDATE 10/24: I need to rebut myself below somewhat. I wrote that Senators McCain and Obama were fairly close, if not in ideas than on outcomes, on the abortion issue. I think I’m wrong. Digging around again, I’m having to balance what I read/posted here with the much more pro-choice leaning postings on the Obama site. I admit that it’s a stretch for my both/and mindset, but it’s not impossible to still keep the hope for better in the midst of something worse. And I still think the choice for Obama is a better mandate for us as a country going forward.
Thought this was a good question to pop onto the main page. My buddy Steve asked something in the last post that is ginormous in the minds of Christian voters. I replied in the comments, and re-post here for further discussion, or just to stare ate the pretty font:
Steve: Lots of lofty ideals espoused, but bottom line, he’ll end up raising taxes. You discussed "Us vs. Them" in your last post. He’s just as guilty of it as you say McCain is. Obama’s "Us" is "the poor, downtrodded blue collar worker" and the "them" is the "rich." Class warfare.
Are you really voting Obama, or is this another one of your April Fool’s Day posts carried over to October? How do you get past the Abortion issue and the same-sex marriage issue?
Rick: How do I get past the two litmus test issues that let others judge whether I’m really a Christian or not? On abortion, they are different, but their outcomes are the same – if it’s overturned, go back to the states. If it’s not overturned, probably better as a state issue. They both seem to be politically federalist on that one, so it’s a wash. But throw in the social-economic stuff, and I honestly think Obama is more pro-whole-life than McCain.
On same-sex, they are almost exactly the same. The way I understand, both sides want same-sex partners to have the same legal rights as married couples, but they also both do not want to grant married status to that mix. This one hasn’t popped up in the attack ads from either side, so it’s another wash, I think.
Oh – and I’m not saying there is no Us vs Them. I’m saying that the separation isn’t the focus – it might be a part of the equation, but it doesn’t have to be the major factor going forward.
Just like this 15sec spot that was on one of my blog feeds this morning. Both of our cars need gas. I sent Vicki to church in the Mini since it’s got a bit more than the minivan. Trace and I will stop for gas if we can find some on the way to church this morning, but she needed to go for nursery duty and I wanted her to make it and not be dry on the side of the interstate. I admit that I don’t understand the way gas prices are handled. It’s not supply and demand as far as I can tell, since all the demand has gone down as the prices have gone up. Evidently supply is more the issue, or rather the promise of a lack of supply that drives prices higher.
But it’s not just the gas. Sunday is a good day for a change, too. Pastor Greg’s sermon this morning continues in the 20th Anniversary series, looking back at "The Journey". For me, it’s more about Journey than Destination, how the details are working out through our lives more than whether our doctrine is 100% or not. I’m looking forward to a quick shower, Trace and I stopping for gas in the minivan, and then joining the girls at church – that’ll be our literal journey this morning. Figuratively, the time together, the time driving, the time spent hanging out will all be a part of our journey, too.
Three out of four of us don’t feel so good this morning. For me, I’m just old and crotchety. My lovely bride has a sinus congestion achey thing going on. And our little girl has felt body achey all weekend, too. So we’re staying home to take care of each other. I sat at the kitchen table for my coffee and biscuits and Sunday morning sermon via iPhone/podcast. You have go love technology that let’s you be "a part of it all" without a shower, before brushing teeth, barefoot. Pastor Greg spoke on being a rockstar, letting our aspirations for greatness become a problem of pride and selfishness. Instead, "welcome the least of these." Find who’s last and get in line behind them, Luke 9:46ff.
For me this morning, it’s a really lovely day outside. I follow lots of twitterers from LA and the area around New Orleans, and know that their day is going to get progressively worse with Gustav aiming for the Gulf Coast. And I’m inspired by so many of them as pastors and church leaders who are stepping up to put those in need "ahead in line," so to speak.
So with all that on my mind this morning, I look forward today to some restfulness and some unrest. Restful towards healing for the girls, and unrest towards something positive and intentional flowing in and through me.
I’ll need more coffee. Can see that right now.
"The definition of faith is believing in something with no proof or evidence." – overheard from the adult leader in my son’s middle school small group, a few Sundays ago
Um. No. Not quite.
But I know it feels like that sometimes. I know that it feels like all we have is a "blind faith" that, frankly, let’s us down as much as anything. One of my heaviest weights is thinking about how I’m "passing my faith along" to our kids. I’ll pass along my angst and mistrust, and I’m hoping I’ll be real about my hope and trust as well. It’s a total package.
For me right now, faith is itself the evidence, not "belief without proof". That’s what Hebrews 11:1 says, that faith is that proof of what you’re hoping for, of what’s unseen now but is always just around the bend. There’s the relationship aspect – God has proven Himself faithful, and I can hold onto His faithfulness, I can trust Him, and that becomes foundational for everything else in some way.