Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Chocolate Jesus

(HT to BHT)

I find it funny (ironic) that it sometimes takes a person outside of the mainstream of Christianity to see what most people within the mainstream are blind too.

There's a lot of talk these days about the Emergent Church (as a denomination) and the emerging church (as a movement). It seems every generation wants to make church palatable to their peers. For me, in the 80's, it was letting guitars and drums in the church. Since that wasn't going to happen at my Baptist church, we snuck off to Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa where Chuck Smith understood that the medium wasn't the message. And Chuck's message was Christ and the scriptures. Or we hit Harvest in Riverside where the worship team included a Brit who could burn the blues along with a sax player that wailed. Again, Greg's message was Christ and the scriptures. (This is not saying other churches were not doing this, I'm using both of those as examples.)

In the late 80's into the early 90's, we were "seeker sensitive". We were mega-churching like there was no tomorrow. We had to have a "purpose driven church" and the Saddleback model was the in thing. The church provided a "christian" place to hang. Coffee shop, workout gym, daycare, Friday night get-togethers, Saturday services, Sunday services, rock concerts, care groups, small groups, you name it, you could find it at your local mega-church. And the message was the medium was the message. The style of church was what was important more than the content of the teaching. And the teaching couldn't be overly disturbing because after-all, I've brought my unsaved friend here so the wonderful and witty Pastor can save his soul.

Now we are emerging. We are having an "experience" with Jesus within our "community". We are in the middle of a "conversation" where we can lecture God, question God, and derive our own comfortable answers because we have "freedom in Christ". Again, it becomes about imagery and content; candles and multi-media, gatherings and contemplation. Again, we bring our unsaved friends to this "cool" church and let the "Creative Visionary" (read Pastor) who won't call himself a Christian because of the baggage that word carries but instead he's a "Follower of Christ". "Cool" says the unsaved friend. "I feel wanted here. Nothing is uncomfortable. I've found a spirituality that, if I didn't know better, was just like what I find at my local Starbucks."

Tom Waits, ironically, satircally, calls it a "candy shop" for people who don't want to go to church on Sunday morning. They find their "chocolate Jesus" and He's just alright for them. Soft, creamy, chewy, mouth-watering, sweet, delicious, non-bitter; the perfect taste for the weary, searching soul.

I'm 42. I grew up in church; specifically a Baptist church. I've watched these new iterations of church come along. I used to laugh at my elders who were skeptical of these new ways of doing church. Now I think they knew something I didn't know in my youth. I think it's something that only comes with age and experience. And I think I have figured something out.

Church isn't necessarily for the unsaved. Church isn't the "saving station". It's not a place for you to bring your unsaved friends for the sole purpose of having the Pastor win their souls for Christ. I think church's primary goal is to provide an temporary place of rest for the saved. It's a place for the saved to learn and grow in the scriptures. A place to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling" so that when you leave you are better equipped to be a Christian in the big, bad world around you. What style it takes is secondary. If candles do it for you, great. Light em up. If songs written before 1995 are forbidden, fine. But remember it's not the songs or the candles or the pictures on the walls or the coffee shop or the book store or the multi-media but the content of what's being preached that is important. If all you get is a good-time, rock-and-roll, happy-clappy 2 hour joy ride then you've missed the point. If you're not being fed the Word, good, bad and ugly, then you're wasting your time. Go to a night club. Go to open mic night at the local coffee house.

I see modern, emerging, seeker, purpose-driven churches like this:

You see a door. It opens into a great, big room with lots of cool, flashy stuff. Beyond it is another door and behind that door is another room, not quite as big but it's for those who have progressed to the point where they've decided this is a place I could belong. It is in this room that they find very few threatening things. Nothing ever gets very uncomfortable during the conversation and this is where most people seeking a deeper spiritual side to their lives will reside. But beyond this room is another door. It leads to a smaller room still. It's not as flashy, not as comfortable. As a matter of fact, it's quite gritty. It's real life. Non candy-coated. It's where Jesus resides. Only a few of us go into that room. Some of us bounce back and forth between the 2nd and 3rd rooms. But those who go into that room discover something that those who don't enter miss. A realization that a chocolate Jesus eventually melts when things get hot. The real Jesus doesn't.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

World Clock

(HT to Think Christian.net)

Someone shot me a link to the World Clock, a fascinating collection of significant national and world stats illustrated in an operable clock. Instead of just time, it also shows how many…

* births
* deaths
* diseases (from cancer to HIV)
* abortions
* cars produced
* prison population

Like I said, a fascinating collection. Who knows if any of it is true, but it seems to be based on common statistics data out there.




Weekend Wrap-Up

Friday - Had to work. Covered a shift for one of my pilots who was moving. No big deal...now he owes me!

Why is it that grown-ups can't play nice? What is it? Why do we think all those rules we were taught as kids now all of a sudden don't apply? Is it merely the fact that we are grown-ups? That's what I used to think. (I still use that excuse with my kids...usually tongue-in-cheek with a wink and a nod.) Especially if they are supposed to be professionals. I know not everyone is going to be best buds, but come to work, do the job you were hired to do, get along professionally with your co-workers and don't try to get anyone fired!

Enough on that subject...some of them read this blog!

Saturday - Yard work. I hate my trees. I hate leaves. I have 7 oak trees in my small backyard which, if left to their own devices, would shed not only leaves and acorns but branches as well. I swear, the next time I have extra money, down they come. I'm sure someone could use some very nice oak for their wood stove. But on the bright side, I did get to use my new weed-whacker. You never realize how bad your old stuff is until you get new stuff. My old TV...really bad. My old computer...really slow. My old weed-whacker...really bad and really slow. This new one cuts through everything like buttah!

Sunday - Sunday is church. We attend a Calvary Chapel here in Redding. Our Pastor is a pretty straight forward, pull no punches kind of guy. I like him. He's a good expository preacher. Tells it like it is. But something niggles about dogmatism. Having been rabidly dogmatic about things in the past I'm a bit skittish when opinions are set in stone. Facts you can set in stone all day....love stone, hard facts. But making the case for something when not all the facts are in...causes me pause. The jury is still out on some issues. Why no details? Email me and we can discuss details. Been burned on this blog for discussing details regarding religion and politics. I know, I said in my statement above that toes might get stepped on but not all the facts are in and I refuse to opine in public and in detail without them. See the aforementioned burn.

Monday - Labour Day. Or Labor Day. We decided to hit the road for Sacramento and see the State Fair...and the "Weird Al" Yankovic concert, "Straight Outta Lynnwood!" We almost didn't go. It was freakin' hot and I started getting vapor-lock. Had to crash for about an hour in the grass and shade. Wife said I didn't look too good. But I'm glad I went. The boy and I had a blast. The daughter even got into it. The wife tolerates (secretly enjoys!) Al. My son said it was "sooo cool!" The kids thanked us over and over for taking them to see the concert. The man is a genius. Understands parody and satire. Makes great songs and skewers popular culture at the same time. What more could one ask for? Plus I got a great t-shirt to wear under my flight suit at work declaring me "White and Nerdy"! The boy got one that said, "Weird Al is my Homeboy!" He wore it to school today!

One last thing before I go. Everyone by now has heard Miss Teen South Carolina's answer to the question why 1/5 of American's can't find the USA on a map. Rush Limbaugh was talking about this today and blamed liberal educators for focusing geography class on how one should feel when they see a picture of Iraq or South Africa. Blamed teachers for not teaching geography as it should. My answer to why 1/5 of American's can't identify their own country on a map is easy....

They're stupid.

Yup...stupid. Either that or they didn't pay attention in class, or their parents didn't check up on their homework, or the teachers were more interested in making the kids pass a test than learning the subject. But bottom line is this...they're stupid. And stupid is as stupid does. Or even better yet...

You can't fix stupid.

(Some toes were harmed in the posting of this blog. Those toes were deemed sturdy enough to handle a little stepping upon. Should you feel they weren't....get a life.)


Sunday, September 02, 2007

I'm Much Safer Now...Thanks!

(HT to my cousin Jeff...for he sends this along to my Mother who sent it to me!)

I must send my thanks to whoever sent me the email about rat poop in the glue on envelopes because I now have to use a wet towel with every envelope that needs sealing.

Also, now I have to scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason.

I no longer have any savings because I gave it to a sick girl (Penny Brown) who is about to die in the hospital for the 1,387,258th time.

I no longer have any money at all, but that will change once I receive the
$15,000 that Bill Gates/Microsoft and AOL are sending me for participating in their special e-mail program.

I no longer worry about my soul because I have 363,214 angels looking out for me, and St. Theresa's novena has granted my every wish.

I no longer eat KFC because their chickens are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes or feathers.

I no longer use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.

Thanks to you, I have learned that my prayers only get answered if I forward an email to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.

Because of your concern I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains.

I no longer can buy gasoline without taking a man along to watch the car so a serial killer won't crawl in my back seat when I'm pumping gas.

I no longer drink Pepsi or Dr. Pepper since the people who make these products are atheists who refuse to put "Under God" on their cans.

I no longer use Saran wrap in the microwave because it causes cancer.

And thanks for letting me know I can't boil a cup water in the microwave
anymore because it will blow up in my face...disfiguring me for life.

I no longer check the coin return on pay phones because I could be pricked with a needle infected with AIDS.

I no longer go to shopping malls because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.

I no longer receive packages from UPS or Fed Ex since they are actually Al Qaeda in disguise.

I no longer shop at Tar get since they are French and don't support our
American troops or the Salvation Army.

I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a number for which I will get a phone bill with calls to Jamaica , Uganda , Singapore , and Uzbekistan

I no longer have any sneakers -- but that will change once I receive my free replacement pair from Nike.

I no longer buy expensive cookies from Neiman Marcus since I now have their recipe.

Thanks to you, I can't use anyone's toilet but mine because a big brown
African spider is lurking under the seat to cause me instant death when it
bites my butt.

Thank you too for all the endless advice Andy Rooney has given us. I can live a better life now because he's told us how to fix everything

And thanks to your great advice, I can't ever pick up $5.00 I dropped in the parking lot because it probably was placed there by a sex molester waiting underneath my car to grab my leg.

Oh, and don't forget this one either!

I can no longer drive my car because I can't buy gas from certain gas

If you don't send this e-mail to at least 47,000 people in the next 47
minutes, a large dove with diarrhea will land on your head at 5:47 PM this afternoon and the fleas from 47 camels will infest your back, causing you to grow a hairy hump. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbor's ex-mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's beautician...

Have a wonderful day....AND

A scientist from Argentina , after a lengthy study, has discovered that people with insufficient brain and sexual activity read their e-mail with their hand on the mouse.

Don't bother taking it off now, it's too late...