Wednesday, June 25, 2008

knock, knock.......

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; those who seek find; and to those who knock, the door will be opened."

This passage has really been come alive for me these last couple of weeks.

I was thinking about the different levels of attempting to obtain something and how they relate to comfort levels. For instance, you can ask for something from any comfort you so choose. You don't even have to get up and out of your chair, that's why they invented the iPhone 3G :) . You can also ask for something in an impersonal, anonymous way. No one else has to know about what you are trying to obtain or how really important this is to you.

Seeking is a little more intentional. It implies a little more sense of urgency than simply just "asking" for something. Yet I think this could still be done comfortably and, if you really wanted to, without anyone knowing what you're seeking for or disclosing how urgent the matter really is or how you really feel about it.

Knocking on someone's door however? Now that's a personal, all-up-in-someone-else's-face kinda thing- it's full disclosure. That is unless you like to go knocking on folk's door wearing a ski mask while attempting to disguise your voice (I don't recommend this btw, especially at night). There's not much comfort here. You got to get up and go to be able to do this. It’s an act of letting your guard down and letting others see what you are really in of. It’s being willing to forgo comfort for the sake what you are wanting to obtain.

What does this say about our lives as worshippers? I had this thought that maybe it’s that we can be as comfortable as we choose to be. After all, worship does not depend on us. When we worship we are participating in Christ’s worship of the Father that’s already and ever will be “in progress.” So we can’t make worship “become” worship even more than it already is. Yet there is just something about this knocking business, something about not letting ourselves approach our participation as worshippers in a comfortable and casual sort of fashion that just seems richer. There is also something about letting our guard (pride, religiousness, tradition, etc) down, and allowing a full disclosure of ourselves before God and the people of God in worship that just seems like its what we were meant to do, it is certainly something Jesus does.

Another thing, Jesus says “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” I had this thought that this works the other way around too. In other words, when we choose to knock on the Father’s door and not simply approach Him in an impersonal or anonymous way when we gather to worship, He’s more than glad to open up the door for us his children and invite is in to feast with him. His Son has already provided the meal and the table has already been prepared (by the power of the Holy Spirit) =). It’s the perfect fellowship-the Father, the Son (with us!!), and the Holy Spirit. It’s certainly a great place to be. And all it takes its a knock. So, I say lets knock-and knock with confidence....

Monday, June 23, 2008

An Off Topic Post

Last week I sat down with alice and showed her the ropes of blogger/google docs and google reader. I navigate through around 50+ blogs a day and I couldn't do it without an RSS reader. In an earlier post JD mentioned checking out his blog and thinking about subscribing via a reader. What a reader allows you to do is subscribe to your blogs and read them in/at one single interface. I have been using a different type of reader, but I am now in the process of switching over to Google reader because it allows me to check my feeds at any computer. If you need any help getting going, just let me know.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Could we get arrested for reading this?

How would the seminary react if we all got arrested? Seriously, what would happen if the chapel interns, JD, and Peg were arrested? (I think we’d all be politely asked to leave the institution…)

Chad in response to JD’s initial post threw out on the table the fact that this sermon is subversive social commentary. Subversives end up in jail. Not exactly the goal of a seminary chapel intern program, but it is what happens when people actually read the SoM.

Gandhi based much of his subversion of the British Empire on the principle of loving ones neighbor. Martin Luther King Jr. modeled this pattern. Both were very familiar with jail. Both assassinated. I know that Shane Claiborne has been arrested several times (and last I checked we were trying to get him to come here), and he said in his first book, that the government has a good sized file with his name on it. Interestingly enough, the month before he came and spoke at ATS, Brian McLaren was arrested for protesting (a common subversive practice) in Washington.

I am struck by the notion of this passage. I have been reading (very slowly) the book the Politics of Jesus by John Howard Yoder, and he connects Jesus death with this message. He claims that Jesus is actually living out his sermon by going to the cross. That Jesus was subverting the powers that be and it ended with his execution for being an insurgent. To the Jewish leaders he was dangerous enough to actually be traded for a well known insurgent.

Now I’m not thinking of ways to get arrested in Wilmore (or am I) but why is it that Jesus, and many others were so dangerous to the authorities around them? Asbury Seminary (who has contact with many of these people) seems to be very buddy-buddy with local law enforcement.

Honestly, are we not living the life of Jesus? Or are they not living the life of Jesus? Why are they creating a comotion and we're content to be here and be good people, preparing for the ministry? If you have any clarity on this issue, what do you think?

(Just for the record I don’t want to be arrested.)

Friday, June 20, 2008

An extension of Jeremiah's earlier post

Below, J did a great job noting that the Beatitudes are focused on action not just rejection. This started life as a comment, but I decided to go ahead with a new post.

So often than not, we ascribe holiness to some sort of denial of action. Holiness is doing-not rejection. This was my favorite conversation last year with our two holiness guru's (leroy and summers).

If we look further in the S.O.M we see Jesus bringing up a few other issues that require simple denial under Jewish law (my bible files them under "concerning..." meaning 5:21-48), but He calls us to a further style of living. Each of these sections starts off with "You have heard it was said...". Last year I taught the S.O.M to a group of older folks in a Sunday School class. One of the issues that I wanted to handle with kid gloves was the section on divorce (5:31-32), because several of the people in the class had been divorced and remarried. All five of these sections note an element of Jewish law that was understood to be pretty important, almost basic for Judaism.

By Jesus starting off with "You have heard that it was said", he assumes that the crowd has a good working knowledge of these laws. So what he does is call them on doing things half-way!!! He takes these basic laws, which can be pretty hard to keep, and calls people to do even more. He puts these new actions in the plain of almost impossible, unnatural even.

This calls them (as us) to action. He calls them to holiness. I often think about the last verse of ch.5, and how it seems to be the perfect (yet utterly terrifying) end.

"Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect" Matt 5:48

According to Lowe and Nida τέλός (perfect) is given the fuller definition of those who have been brought into a community of faith, and it pertains to completion have finished something. The perfect one has complete genuineness, and has no defect whatsoever.

What else is odd about this is how we see both the plural nominative τέλειοι (our perfection) and the singular nominative τέλειός (the Fathers character). Clearly this is how Jesus is ending this giant section on having an active righteousness that is the evidence of the kingdom being alive inside of the believer.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

One Step Further

As I've read the Sermon on the Mount I have been amazed at one consistent quality in the sermon. Jesus pushes his disciples beyond what human limits say is possible. The Law of Moses, which they had been raised on, said "Do not murder (Ex 20:13)". Not murdering is pretty easy for most of us. But Jesus raises the ante on his followers, "I tell you if anyone is angry with a brother he will be subject to judgment". Now I have a brother and a sister, both younger, and I know that I've been angry with them for many different reasons (some valid, some not so much)...yet I claim to be a follower of Christ. He goes on, "if any one lusts" he's (or she's) already committed adultery. And again, "if you remember a brother has something against you, leave your gift in front of the altar and go be reconciled". What Jesus expects is impossible....or is it.

I've sat through three days of my forgiveness in counseling class and I've come to one conclusion. Everything is a matter of our source. If we try to forgive our brothers and sisters so we can be reconciled the way Jesus commands (and it is a command not a request or a suggestion) in our own power we will undoubtedly fail. If we try to control our anger, our lust, our thirst for vengeance... we simply cannot do it. We are fallen creatures living in a fallen world, even after we have been redeemed the effects of the Fall still limit our abilities.

The kicker is this...if we root ourselves in the Triune God then we can avail ourselves of the power He offers. By the transforming power of the Holy Spirit we become the "blessed" people that Jesus refers to in Matt 5:3-12. This radical, life-changing Spirit is only available because of the work of Jesus Christ. He did perfectly what he teaches his disciples to do....ultimately it boils down to obeying the Father. The Sermon on the Mount just neatly lays out what a life lived in glory to the Triune God will look like and the Lord's Prayer shows us how we can actually live it.

blessed are those who mourn

i have been meditating on Jesus' words, 'blessed are those who mourn'

i've never heard anybody say, 'i want to mourn!' ... not once! i have never heard even a good Christian say those words. obviously we're either not getting the point of what Jesus is say or we're just bad followers of Jesus.

i remember the day that Sadaam was killed very clearly. not because i threw a party, but because Stephanie made me run like 5 miles. we were at my parents house and were sitting around after breakfast when we heard the news, so we switched over to FoxNews and watched the wall to wall coverage on the "fair and balanced network." i remember that there was mass celebration of the death of the cruel dictator from Iraq. everybody was praising the fact that justice had been served.

later, as i was running (which led me to mourn...but that's another story) i began to reflect on the fact that nobody was upset that a human being had just been killed. Sadaam was evil, but he was still a human being, and as a human being he is loved by God. the longer i ran the more i realized that even the death of an evil tyrant was tragic. this alone is worth mourning.

think of all the ways that we human beings, as we try and fix things, actually do more harm.

maybe this is what Jesus is getting at here. blessed are the people that see how screwed up things are and realize that in our vain attempts to fix them, only do more damage. maybe Jesus says they will be comforted because they see the damage and the hurt and the pain that is being proliferated and will be agents to bring them to an end.

known for what you do

He's says,
"Blessed are those that ________ <-- ***positive command***"
becoming meek
showing mercy
making peace

Jesus does not say, "Blessed are those that:
dont ____
have never ___
wont _____
dont watch _____
dont attend ____
dont vote for ______

How much of our world looks at Christ followers and thinks, "Those are the ones that dont ___."
Instead of "Those are the ones that do ___."
We are the citizens of a positive command Kingdom - love, give, abide, remember, sacrifice, share...not ones of - dont cuss, dont chew or go with girls that do. (Why is it only the girls that shouldnt chew? When guys do it, it isnt all that attractive either, right?)
Jesus begins His sermon by explaining what the Kingdom looks like, not what it doesnt look like. What the people should participate in, not abstain from. We are a people of participating, not ones of omission.
Blessed are the positive...and not just in their attitudes.


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Some of you are aware of my own blog.  I do quite a bit of writing there on the subject of Christian worship.  Rather than repeating my posts on the Levite Camp site, I want to invite you to read my worship posts on FARMStrong.  If you would like to engage in a conversation on the ideas-- which I would welcome--- you can take one of two routes.  

1.  For a more public conversation just make a comment on FARMStrong.

2.  For a more private conversation among our Design Team you might copy whatever portion of the blogpost that you want to talk about and make a separate blog entry on Levite Camp along with your analysis.  We can then engage with you in the comment field.  

Sound good?  If you read blogs via a feed reader please add FARMStrong as it will make keeping up with posts easier.  If you don't understand how feed readers work, talk to Chad and he will explain.  I recommend Google's Reader.  

Monday, June 16, 2008


Hello ChAlSiPaDaJeDa,

In keeping with our intentions to immerse ourselves together in the Sermon on the Mount, I wanted to offer some words of guidance.

First-- let's work off of a shared translation--- The TNIV (Today's New International Version). You can find a printable version of the text via this link.

Second-- my encouragement is to spend the next 30 days reading the text one time per day in a slow and deliberate fashion. If possible, do it first thing.

Third-- I would like to see a blog post from each one of you over the next 30 days that simply reflects on how the daily reading of this common text is impacting you.

After this we will work together to develop some "rememberizing" strategies (as my son David likes to say).

Could there be a more significant sermon (or collection of Jesus sayings) in all of the Bible? Has there ever been a more significant sermon ever put together? We have a great opportunity to gather around it as a team and then to let it shape our KingdomTide semester ahead.

Hope you are having a good summer. Would you mind entering a comment to this post to let us know that you are up and on board with the blog?

Monday, June 9, 2008

The first one...not really

This post is really just to check out some colors and other stuff. The fun things will come later.