Titanic Thoughts

The last surviving passenger of the Titanic has died. She was also the youngest passenger. I love the story from the BBC. Check it out.


Here a couple of thoughts. Firstly, three cheers for Miss Winslet, Mr DiCaprio, and James Cameron who quietly and without fanfare did the best thing by supporting this woman in her need. This sounds very much like what Jesus asked his followers to do in the parable of the Sheep and the Goats... Mrs. Dean - a prisoner of her circumstance, a patient of age, in need of food and shelter. While the Hollywood threesome had no obligation to this grand dame of the legendary tragedy (the movie did not mention her and it could not be claimed that they profited by her particular story), they responded to her because they were the 'neighbors' who, through the circumstance of the making of their movie, came upon her in her need. They could have walked around her, ignoring her plight; but instead they responded and became the 'neighbors' Christ refered to in his parable which we know as "the Good Samaritan." They became the neighbor we are all obliged to be. We ougth to do what we can do and turn to God for what we cannot do.

Secondly, I love the observation that her life is a gift from God. A gift! Now, lets see... Her father was taken from her before she could remember him. Her hopes (carried for that moment by her family) for a secure and prosperous future dashed by an 'act of God.' Her fragile infant phyche marred by an early tragedy. I mean this is the stuff that phychology text books are written about. But all of this is casually refered to as a 'gift from God.' Marvelous! Marvelous because it really was a gift. Out of the tragedy is born blessing. On the other side of grief is joy. Passing through the ashes leads us to the beauty. Yes the OT prophet Isaiah had it right, and in this case so did Randolph Haas. We are given gifts from God. Some are beautiful to look at. Some are very ugly to see. And coming from God, these gifts disquised as tragedy, bring us to blessing. Blessing.

In the New Testament, the word blessing is generally comparable to the word happy. Happy, not pleasant. Happy, not fun. Happy, not profitable. There is one thing I have held onto from the book THE PRAYER OF JABEZ. I love Bruce Wilkenson's take on the Biblical idea of blessing. He says (loosely translated - sorry if I get it wrong Mr. Wilkinson) "blessing is the state of being right where God wants us to be, right when He wants us there." Wow! The most happy things we can experience are not things we get for ourselves... The most happy things in life are the things that God plans for us - good things and terrible things, pleasant things and trying things, fun and fearful, playful and painful, prosperous and costly. Happy where God wants us.

So, farewell Mrs. Dean. And thank you to the BBC for giving me something to consider as I follow Christ today.


Bible Study Against the Law?

Pastor David Jones and his wife Mary have been told that they cannot invite friends to their San Diego, Calif. home for a bible study — unless they are willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars to San Diego County.

"On Good Friday we had an employee from San Diego County come to our house, and inform us that the bible study that we were having was a religious assembly, and in violation of the code in the county." David Jones told FOX News.

"We told them this is not really a religious assembly — this is just a bible study with friends. We have a meal, we pray, that was all," Jones said.

A few days later, the couple received a written warning that cited "unlawful use of land," ordering them to either "stop religious assembly or apply for a major use permit," the couple's attorney Dean Broyles told San Diego news station 10News.

But the major use permit could cost the Jones' thousands of dollars just to have a few friends over. For David and Mary Jones, it's about more than a question of money.

"The government may not prohibit the free exercise of religion," Broyles told FOX News. "I believe that our Founding Fathers would roll over in their grave if they saw that here in the year 2009, a pastor and his wife are being told that they cannot hold a simple bible study in their own home."

"The implications are great because it’s not only us that’s involved," Mary Jones said. "There
are thousands and thousands of bible studies that are held all across the country. What we’re interested in is setting a precedent here — before it goes any further — and that we have it settled for the future."

The couple is planning to dispute the county's order this week. If San Diego County refuses to allow the pastor and his wife to continue gathering without acquiring a permit, they will consider a lawsuit in federal court.

Keep your eyes on the news. This could become a real threat to the lifeblood of epic. Since our mission is to equip one another to grow, the in-home Bible study is crucial to our effectiveness.
Here is a link to the fox news interview. Click here.
Here's a link to more of the transcript from San Diego news. Click here.

Log in your thoughts and lets watch carefully as this story develops.


Got a "special delivery" from a long-time friend yesterday. (It could truthfully be said that we are 'old' friends too.) It was such an encouragement and when I saw her handwriting (which became familiar to me while studying from her chemistry notes in High School) a smile immediately came to my face. Friendship is a funny thing. It was just about a week ago that I saw another High School friend from across the store (in our local mega everything you can imagine at a bargain price store) and rather than engage in a conversation, I turned around and walked down anther aisle.

Sometimes seeing a friend for long ago can warm and lift your spirit like the March breeze pulling ever-upwards on a kite.

Sometimes the sight of a friend with whom you are at odds can constrict your heart and weigh on your mind like a crushing ball at wrecking yard.

Friendship can both bother and bewilder us. It can encourage and entertain us. Sometimes it is work an other times it is play. Sometimes it is the most exciting thing about life and sometimes it is the most discouraging thing about life.

Why is friendship so important? Why does friendship have such power over us? How can a wound from a friend be so deadly? Why do small hurts from a friend fester over time until they become grotesque wounds? Why is it that a well-placed compliment from a long time friend can make the difference in an all around cruddy day? And when that affirmation is withheld, an otherwise average day can turn ugly in a heartbeat.

I find it interesting that the book of Proverbs has so much to say about friendship. I mean, sometimes I look a friendship simply in selfish terms. I look at it in temporary earthly terms as if it is not spiritual, but part of this physical world. And yet God gives a good amount of attention to this subject in His book, while leaving some spiritual questions that I have completely unanswered. Or worse, God leaves so much room for theological debate over some topics that are thoroughly spiritual. (Debate that has cost a friendship with one of those friends I once enjoyed deeply.)

It must be that friendship is spiritual. It is spiritual and it is essential. Friendship is necessary to life and to faith. Friendship is godly and good. And it is most Christ-like to be good at being a friend, and being a good friend.

Part of our divine image is to be relational as God is relational. He is relational within Himself -
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is relational in His creation: the human, in His image, at the center of the creative order. There is no God without relationship...

Jesus, friend of sinners.
What an amazing title. What a heavy responsibility. What an incredible God. I wonder if He experiences feelings about friend and friendship as I do. I wonder if He is troubled by friends and friendships as I sometimes am. I wonder if pain and joy are mixed in His heart over friends and friendships as they are in my heart. I wonder if I am a friend he gets thrilled to see because my life and conversation brings Him joy; or if I'm such a downer that He would rather walk down another aisle at the local Cheezy-Mart.

Become a better friend. Become a better Christ-follower.


My Kids' Mom

Some day, when I'm awfully low,
When the world is cold,
I will feel a glow just thinking of you
And the way you look tonight.

You're lovely, with your smile so warm
And your cheeks so soft,
There is nothing for me but to love you
And the way you look tonight.

With each word your tenderness grows,
Tearing my fears apart
And that laugh that wrinkles your nose,
Touches my foolish heart.

Yes you're lovely, never, ever change
Keep that breathless charm.
Won't you please arrange it?
'Cause I love you
Just the way you look tonight.

With each word your tenderness grows,
Tearing my fears apart
And that laugh that wrinkles your nose,
Touches my foolish heart.

Yes you're lovely, never, ever change
Keep that breathless charm.
Won't you please arrange it?
'Cause I love youJust the way you look tonight.
Just the way you look tonight.
Darling... Just the way you look tonight.



Conference Response 4 Revisited

Hey there,
I am loving this conversation and thanks so much to all of you who have participated. (see below)

Here is the context for the statement. Scott hit one aspect of the context when he commented about churches trying to recreate the formula of another ministry. But also when churches and individuals endeavor to keep returning to a thing, or an event that the Holy Spirit has done in their life in the past.

Here is a thumbnail sketch of how I remember Francis making his point in this message.
1. If the Holy Spirit is not doing a thing, then
a. the thing is not going to get done (assuming it is a spiritual thing),
b. the thing is not worth doing (assuming it is anything), or
c. the thing is not going to last (same assumption as in b).
2. Therefore as we look for what the Holy Spirit is doing, we cannot simply rely on what He has done in the past, expecting Him to repeat himself.

His point was that we can't expect God to repetitively present Himself in the ways we have become comfortable experiencing Him. And that just because He did it once, doesn't mean that He wants to do it again. The point is that the Holy Spirit does what works for the purpose He is working out in our lives, our culture, our situations.

The original statement that I quoted ["The Holy Spirit is a creator, not a duplicator... He is doing something new and not the same old thing" - new paraphrase I'm sure], fit in the context of that second point. The phrase really stuck with me for all of the reasons that you all noted in your comments and I had conflicting responses.

On one hand, I thought of all the verses that seemed to contradict the statement, most obviously the Ecclesiastes passage which notes that there is nothing new under the sun... Then my mind followed the argument that technically the Holy Spirit is not under sun, He created the sun... and so went the argument in my head.

But, on the other hand, I felt a real and genuine sense of freedom. I am the product of a pentecostal upbringing. I call myself a pentecostal believer. But, I have always defined pentecostal differently than the classic definition which seems TO ME to have an unbalanced focus on the gifts of tongues and interpretation. And since I have struggled with the church's implementation of those gifts (in my personal history - maybe not yours) my practice of pentecostalism comes out looking different than the predictable practice of it. SO, the freedom I felt was a sense of relief from the guilt I struggle with in terms of being genuine with my own experience of the Holy Spirit, the expectations of my peer pastors, and the under the surface kind of haunting sense that I will only really be successful as a pastor when those classic expressions of pentecostal experience happen robustly in my congregation.

OK, before some of you get worried about that last sentence, take note of my history with you and take a deep breath. Relax. I was describing a feeling that I inherited from my personal history and some educational experiences.

What I felt from Francis was a certain relief of that sense to simply look for what the Holy Spirit is doing now. And if that doesn't match my experience and expectations - or anyone elses for that matter - I'm really OK with that.

In and of itself, the statement is TOO broad. In its context, it was powerful and helpful to me.

Tell me more of what you think! I hope this helps.


Conference Response 4 - The Holy Spirit

I really have a lot to say about this. But I want to hear more input before I just list all of my thoughts. Here is a statement that has really stuck with me since my participation in the Catalyst West Conference for Christian Leaders.

I'm going to quote Francis Chan and I would like you to comment your responses. What do you think about the statement? How does it affect you and how you think and what you do?

Here it is.

"THE HOLY SPIRIT IS A CREATOR NOT A DUPLICATOR. HE DOES NEW THINGS AND DOESN'T DUPLICATE THE THINGS HE HAS ALREADY DONE." (That's a loose translation. This disclaimer on the off chance that Francis may randomly happen upon this post, or more likely that one of you readers may have been there and remember this differently than I remember it.)

Comment your thoughts!

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