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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Getting Over Myself: The Spectre of Perpetual Narcissism

2500 blogs report people trying to get over themselves. There are 21 people on blogs who claim that they have indeed accomplished the task of getting over themselves.

Now, let's think about this. Can someone who has actually gotten over themselves blog about it? There seems to be a little hypocrisy here. I mean, if you have gotten over yourself, why post it for the entire world to see? If you need to let the world know you have gotten over yourself, then you have haven't really gotten over yourself.

Furthermore, who is going to read a blog post with the title, "How I got over myself?" The kind of people who need that kind of information are the most unlikely to read it.

I think people have been reading Flashbang. In fact, I think they are reading Flashbang wishing they had written it.

Can people really get over themselves? Is there any there there? Isn't getting over yourself a process or a discipline? Isn't it laced inside of every single decision you make?

Is there any evidence that anyone has ever gotten over himself? Let's factor out Jesus and look for an example. Peter couldn't get over his racism. Paul couldn't get over his pride. Do you think "the adulterous woman" got over her issues?

I think of someone like Ghandi as someone who has approached getting over himself. And still, he labored and struggled with himself.

It's gratuitous to mention that I have not gotten over myself. I don't know myself well enough to get over myself. And if I did have such a great sense of self-awareness, I doubt I'd have the power to accomplish self-transcendance. And all that is messed up anyway. Viktor Frankl would say that the road to self-awareness passes through self-transcendance. The amount of humility required to self-transcend is enormous.

And let's round this post out with humility. Do you know it when you see it? Do you know where it comes from or how to produce it? Please, don't try to answer these questions - you'll be exposed. Do you know how to seek it?

Humility is the key to pursue the discipline of getting over yourself. Trying to get over yourself is like trying to get happy. The pursuit of happiness only chases happiness away and trying to get over yourself only causes one to focus on himself. Humility spooks the spectre of perpetual narcissism into remission.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Hierarchy

"When we are talking about your problem and not mine, there is a hierarchy." - Bill Doherty

"Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Lord Acton

One of the assumptions of postmodernism is that hierarchies are bad. Hierarchies have to do with power - who has it and who doesn't. The people with more power use it to their advantage over people with less power. People have differing levels of power. In a social context that means hierarchy.

As a therapist, there is always a power dynamic going on between me and my clients. In church there is a power dynamic between church staff/leadership and church membership.

Now, in the helping professions, theological professions, and educational professions, how can there be no hierarchy? If I am there to help, then I must have some power, or at least a perceived power. The power I appear to have is the reason the person comes to me. Is that not true also in education and church?

I tend to think that the postmoderns have something when they say hierarchies are not good, but at the same time, what can you do about them? People seem to form them naturally.

Ah, but then look at the "power tactics" of Jesus. He seemed to use his power for people who had so little. No, he released power to these people. He made some people untouchable - the most powerful person around. Take the "adulterous woman" for example. She walked away with power. The "woman at the well" is good one as well. She had the power to tell a story. She must have had clout since so mnay people listened to her. Think Lazarus, Peter, and on and on. Jesus was all about investing power by giving it away. He gave Peter the keys to the kingdom. I'm not exactly sure what that means, but it sure smacks of relinquishing power to him.

At the same time he seemed to use his power to crush existing power structures. He turned things upsidedown. He used his power not only to give, but also to take. Jesus never flinched when the Pharisees were asserting their power everywhere. Jesus matched them word for word and exposed their hypocrisy. He took their power from them. It really ticked them off, so they killed him.

So, I think Jesus is an excellent model of what to do with power. Find people without much power and release your power to them. Find those who have accumulated power and lord it over people and take it from them.

Think economy. Think positions. Think social status. Think race/sex/religion/age/appearance etc.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Holiday Fun

I spent Thanksgiving evening and the next day at a water park. At the same time, outside it looked like this picture. I was at America's largest indoor water park. Leave it to Minnesotans to defy nature and not only build an indoor water park, but a ridiculously huge one. You might think, "hey, someone is going to build a bigger one and you can't claim to be the biggest anymore." And right you would be. The Waterpark of America is already under construction - in Minnesota.

Something else happened over the holiday - I realize that my fat found me again. I guess it is time to come clean. My training fell off the table after Katrina - and yes I blame her for everything. So, this is a heads up that another round of 40 Days of Fat is about to be unveiled. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving in Darfur

So, how did it go? Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes; family, fun, vacation; rape, murder, genocide. What a minute! What is this, one of those one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-others? Yes – on steroids.

Now that you are mopping up Thanksgiving with turkey sandwiches and dressing reheats, you have the chance to ponder on some other people’s experiences this weekend. I know the timing this article might smack of a guilt inducing tactic right on the heels of our grateful gluttony, but I want you to separate our American privilege which is Thanksgiving and what I want to address today. In other words, read without guilt so your compassion can emerge.

I have Darfur on the brain right now. Darfur? No, it’s not the name of the latest supermodel and it is not a disease I’ve contracted. Rather, it is the western region of the nation of Sudan in Africa. It’s the size of Texas. This is the place that experiences rape, murder, and genocide. It is happening right now - today. Warring factions, weak government, scarce resources, religious zealots, massive corruption, and abject poverty within a power vacuum creates a situation in which the value of life diminishes lower than that of a commodity. At best life is a thing, an object, or a property in Darfur. But mostly it’s just a problem. People are disposable in Darfur.

Women who gather sticks for fire wood travel in packs so that they won’t all get raped. Children starve as their desperate need for food is rarely ever met. Men feel powerless as there are no jobs and they are constantly recruited to fight nefarious battles they do not believe in or care about. Everyone is at extreme risk for disease. A half million people are dead in the genocide. Another 2 million have been chased out of their homes and now live in refugee camps, which are by no means a refuge from any danger.

There is little to be thankful for in Darfur. If there is a Hell on earth, it is Darfur.

While we Americans are concerned about gaining that holiday weight, refugees in Darfur hope that warlords won’t chase away the relief workers or loot food aid as it trickles into their camp. Again, remove the temptation to feel guilty and just notice the contrast. We are grateful and we should be. Over the course of American history, millions of men and women, most of whom we’ll never know of, have made enormous, sometimes ultimate, sacrifices for the generations to come – for us. We live in a country of plenty and abundance. We have justice and freedom. In America, there is so much to be thankful for. Thanksgiving is a good time to express that gratitude without shame.

At the same time, gratitude is only one side of the coin of good character in the presence of great wealth. The other side of the good character coin is generosity.

While we are appropriately expressing our appreciation for what we have, let’s consider those that have nothing. Not only do those who live (or should I say “exist”) in Darfur have no possessions, they have no security, justice, peace, hope, or liberty. Let’s show our character by being not only grateful, but generous as well.

How? I’m glad you asked, my friend. This will get you started. First, check out one of these websites and learn about the problem: www.savedarfur.org or www.worldvision.org. Second, of the many ways these organizations offer to help, pick one and do it. Third, ask your senator to fill you in on what the United States government is doing. Then let him or her know how much it matters to you. If you get this far and need to know what to do next, e-mail me and we’ll figure something out.

Those that came before us gave us something to be thankful for. Let’s give Darfur something to be thankful for. Find a way to give.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Sellout?

"OK, what's with all the ads and crap?" you might be thinking to yourself.

I'll make this short. I have applied to the University of Minnesota graduate school for Family Science. If I am accepted, I will be broke for 4 years while I work toward a doctorate. I will need every single cent available to me in order to survive.

So, when you see an ad on any of my blogs (here is my Christian Parenting blog), think of a click on that ad as a small donation to the "Get Fajita Through College Fund."

So far I have amassed enough revenue for 1 half of 1 tenth of 1 credit hour. So, I am well on my way.

I am also working on another blog devoted only to my series from this blog. Right now, if you are crazy enough to want to read my past series, it would be kind of hard to follow the path through the archives. This blog will consolidate all posts from one series into a single (and very long) post. So each series will be one long post. I have just begun work on it, but I will finish it before year's end.

This is my last post here until after Thanks giving.

Christian parenting will have a post Monday while Successful Stepfamilies will have a post Monday and Wednesday.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Dirty Christmas - World Vision

OK, this might be an idea for idiots - which means that there are about 6 of you readers who will love this idea.

Dirty Christmas, if you don't know, goes like this:

1. Everyone brings an anonymous wrapped gift (good gift or lame gift).
2. Put wrapped gifts in the center of the room.
3. Everyone draws a number.
4. Number 1 picks a gift and unwraps it (smiles or groans)
5. Number 2 has an option: pick an unwraped gift or steal #1's gift.
6. This goes on until everyone has one.
7. #1 has the option to steal anyone's gift.
8. After a gift has been stolen 3 times, it is frozen and cannot be stolen again.

OK, now think dirty Christmas with gifts from World Vision. Everyone buys a World Vision gift and puts a card in an envelope indicating the gift you bought. Do not put your name on it - anonymous is good. So, you can bust out with a huge gift to World Vision and no one knows it was you, but you can have a little fun with it.

OK, picture this event happening in your living room. Hear the voices. It might sound something like this:

"Hey man, don't steal my goat!"
"Dude, hand over the fruit trees."
"Yo, I want the chickens. Yes the whole brood."
"Step away from the small business loan and no one gets hurt."
"Hey hone, I've got my eye on that sewing machine that can help a girl stay out of sex trade, but I've already had my turn. Can you steal it with your turn?"

Can you see it? Can you hear it? Charity with an attitude! Yes, a little philanthropic Smack Down, baby.

If anyone does this, I would love to hear about it.

Unpack this one

The best way to confront chaos is with frenzy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

World Vision Party

Amazing as it might seem, my wife (a super genius) was inspired by the Crap For Christ. Yes! This is so cool.

OK, how many of you (if you are a woman), or your wives (if you are a married man) get invited to things like Pampered Chef, Longenborger, Partylite, and things like this? All of you? OK. My wife gets all these invites and just hates them. You don't want to let your friend down, so you go. You spend money you don't have for something you don't need so your friend, the hostess, can qualify for a titanium apple slicer - a must have.

Are you sick and tired of buying crap that costs too much and doesn't do anyone any good? Well have I got good news for you!

Check out this idea from my genius wife - A World Vision Party. Invite couples over for a World Vision party, a party in which they can make a difference. As the host or hostess, you share with the people at the party all of the varied opportunities they have to make a difference and the costs associated with them.

For example, sending a child to school for a year would cost $75. Not too costly and pretty good bang for the buck. $75 puts your kid in school for about a day and half. Or you could work them up a bit and offer them a brood of chickens (a regular egg factory) for only $125. At the end, hit 'em with something big, something crazy, something like this - they can literally buy the farm for only $2,180. Now, most people don't just have a couple grand nestled away for a farm, but then again, it's a whole farm (that's two cows, two goats, two sheep, two pigs, and enough chickens to lay about two dozen eggs a day).

Bring 'em in for a party that matters forever. Or maybe do the Christmas party thing.

Yeah, do your white elephant gifts and sip your wassel. Have a time of it, but why not throw a special party, even a Christmas party for some people who really need it?

I am asking my family for a goat this Christmas. Seriously, that is what is going to be on my Christmas list. Yes, I want a PS3, but I am asking for a goat. I don't need any more books (for now), CD's, clothes, or food. Please no food. All I want for Christmas is a goat. Heck, I'll take a couple goats.

Any daring soul out there willing to host a World Vision Party?

Crap For Christ

Just click here and you'll see.

Arnie's Republican Party

Click here to view the secret insider video. Thanks Malibu Librarian.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Confessions of a failed leader #4 (and last)

31. I can’t lead because I have chosen not to lead.

32. I can’t lead because I choose peace over progress.

33. I can’t lead because when someone thinks that he or she is better than I am, I believe them.
34. I can’t lead because I don’t protect my followers from dysfunctional people.

35. I can’t lead because I think people who don’t agree with me are dysfunctional.

36. I can’t lead because I fear failure and rejection.

37. I can’t lead because I can’t delegate.

38. I can’t lead because I am motivated by guilt.

39. I can’t lead because I believe people who tell me lies.

40. I can’t lead because, at some point, I start believing that my followers exist for my benefit and not the other way around.

41. I can’t lead because when the emotion is gone, I’m done.

42. I can’t lead because I like to sleep.

43. I can’t lead because I’m afraid I’ll succeed.

44. I can’t lead because I can’t fire people.

45. I can’t lead because if no one is telling me what to do, I don’t know what to do.

46. I can’t lead because my theories don’t touch the earth.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Confessions of a failed leader #3

Series begins here.
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I have been giving a lot of thought to this series since I started it. My purpose of this series is not to throw a pity party for myself or garner anyone's sympathies. Rather, I am giving an inside look into how I experience leadership, a certain kind of leadership. I figure I might not be the only one who has ever felt this way.

Here is another inside look: I tend to believe (on an emotional level) that I must get all of my motives in check before I can be an effective and authentic leader. Now, think about that condition when you read these confessions. For a person like that, leadership is a living hell.

I have come to the cognitive conclusion that waiting for my motives to be in check is like waiting for perfect weather - even if it does come, it'll be gone shortly. Now, on an emotinoal level, I still have some work to do in really believing that I can lead even when my motives are not perfect or even all that good.

I hope that this confessional will give hope to people who lead something that they are not alone in their secret questions, worries, concerns and selfishness. I know that these words would carry some more weight if I were some famous leader. Ah, but God knows better than to make me a famous leader, for now anyway.

So, here goes:

21. I can’t lead because I don’t know how others view me.

22. I can’t lead because my view of myself is contaminated with current emotion state, no matter what it is.

23. I can’t lead because my appetite gets more votes than anyone.

24. I can’t lead because I’m too easily satisfied with my own little rewards to wait for rewards that will benefit my followers.

25. I can’t lead because I need to be revered.

26. I can’t lead because I think talent is enough.

27. I can’t lead because I let momentum be the victim of distraction.

28. I can’t lead because I think my critics are my enemies.

29. I can’t lead because I believe that what’s written on the package describes adequately what’s in the package.

30. I can’t lead because I am afraid to lead.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Break from leadership confessional

Beaner brought out a question about leadership in my depressing confessional about failed leadership (which still has two more installments). It got me thinking about kinds of leadership.

Here are different kinds of leadership off the top of my head:

1. Organizational (CEO, Senior minister, etc)
2. Educational (teaching, not administration)
3. Coaching (athletic, executive, job, etc)
4. Therapeutic (Counselor, friend, etc)
5. Spiritual (spiritual director, guru, etc)
6. Family (Parent, grandparent, spouse, etc)
7. Political
8. Visionary/Charasmatic

Here is another way to look at leadership: contextual effectiveness.

Group Size
1. Large groups
2. Small groups
3. One on one

Toward what end?
1. People movement
2. Connection/Community
3. Growth and/or Healing
4. Innovation
5. Maintenance

OK, I'm doing this on the fly. Give me some help here about leadership. What ideas are coming to your mind?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Confession of a failed leader #2

11. I can’t lead because eventually I will steal from my followers.

12. I can’t lead because I’m too proud to ever be wrong.

13. I can’t lead because I am rarely able to distinguish the difference between what is right and what I believe.

14. I can’t lead because I insist on making clones of myself.

15. I can’t lead because I resent people who think everyone should be clones of themselves.

16. I can’t lead because I have no idea how to measure risk.

17. I can’t lead because, even if I did know how to measure risk, I prefer to let someone else make the hard choices.

18. I can’t lead because I hear complaints as personal attacks.

19. I can’t lead because I am too busy defending myself.

20. I can’t lead because I am too likely to walk away with my reward without regard for what happens to my followers after I am gone.

Confessions of a failed leader #1

When I was feeling like a failure as a leader of a certain project, I reflected on my failure. Looking back on these reflections I realize not only how self-condemning I can get (not good), but also how insightful I can be (good thing). If you are a leader of something (and you just might be), there might be something to learn in the next fews posts called, "Confessions of a failed leader." If you are vulnerable to be depressed by e-confessions, then click here for a few days until I get this out of my system.

1. Leadership, as I understand it, requires a sacrifice I am currently unwilling to make.

2. There is no financial reward or amount of fame that can replace what I lose when I decide to lead. If I am going to lead I am going to have to find a damn good reason for it.

3. Leadership is not for me. It does nothing for me. Therefore, I am not prepared to lead. Since leadership won’t change, it’ll have to wait for me to change, if that were possible.

4. Leadership requires a love for a vision, and I’m too selfish to love a vision.

5. I can’t lead because I require praise for it.

6. I can’t lead because I don’t know where I am going.

7. I can’t lead without violating someone else’s rights, so I shouldn’t lead.

8. Leaders hold in their hands something of value to their followers. My hands are weak, rough, and clumsy.

9. I can’t lead because I don’t know how to respect other people’s valuables, their trust, their hearts, and their passions.

10. I can’t lead because I don’t know what to do with my heart, let alone someone else’s.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

National Association for Self-Esteem and Joyology

It's not that I am all about self-hatred or self-loathing, but do we really need the National Association For Self-Esteem? Yes, understanding how special God made each of us is important - I am a therapist so I deal with this everyday. But an whole association? Come on.

Are you lacking joy? Have you considered seeking help from a joyologist? Thanks to me you now can link right here to not only a joyologist, but America's Favorite Joyologist. Now, if you live in Canada, here's your premier joyologist, link filled with joyful music as well and picture of joyful woman flinging flowers, joyfully.

Want to become a joyologist? Click here and you're on your way.

Or you could try out James' personal joyologist here.

Do you have high self-esteem? Find out here.

Think you got self-esteem figured out? Check out the myths here.

Related topic here on my stepfamilies blog.
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Hey gang, I have reactivated my Christian Parenting Blog. Check it out.

Maximum Effect Explained

Click here for the post this one is referring to.
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We can't hide. We can talk all we want to about what we believe and who we are. We can talk theology, mission of God, Kingdom, etc. We can blog about it, write about it, talk about it, and communicate about it. We can promote, market, influence, and convince. But we are who we are.

Imperfections will be revealed. It's like this: we can be intentionally honest and transparent and let people see us holistically. Or we can try to conceal our weakness and just hope we don't fart, so to speak. Good luck with that one.

Honesty has a way of finding its way out when we make efforts to keep it in. When that happens, and it does not match what we have shown, it's embarrassing - even humiliating. It doesn't match and everyone notices. And when it's out there, thre is no going back. Blame, humor, "covering your butt" all fail to make a difference when honesty demands its way.

Truth says, "If you will not be honest about me I will be honest about you." Rrrrrrrrrrip!
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On another note, if you are new to my blog, please notice a couple of sidebar lists:
1. Favorite Posts
2. Favotire Series

These will give you a flavor of what this blog is all about.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Maximum Effect

Warning - once again potty talk and public humiliation

It was my first trip to Houston. For a Minnesota boy, age 20, this trip to the edge of the earth was more than a little exciting. We were called Conquerors, a Christian drama group (now defunct), and we traveled here and there performing our Christian skits and promoting Harding University. I was their leader.

My good friend, Brian Mashburn (now preaching here), a former Conqueror and new youth minister (here) organized the trip for a youth retreat for his new youth group. We arrived just after the sun went down at Gulf Cost Christian Youth Camp. The camp was an architectural piece of crap with shambled shacks for cabins and a mess hall that got you wondering about slime and mold – and scorpions as I found out later. I also learned a lesson about fire ants, receiving an obnoxious bite where a female will just have to use her imagination to know the pain I experienced. But it served its purpose for 150 restless teens dying for a weekend to get out of the city – 45 minutes of Texas pasture land away from the city.

We all met in the gym on the hill for the drama performance and devotional. It was an outdoor gym with a metal roof, but wide open on the sides. Somehow the echo in this gym was more amazing than anything I had ever experienced before.

We lead off with our funny skits and then got into more serious matters - skits with a purpose. With each skit, the tension grew, just as we planned - just as we had done dozens of times prior. Then we hit the skit called, “Serving Two Masters.” Brian and Robin and I had performed this skit for two years, but this time Brian had a change. Right at the climax of the skit, Brian was going to do his devo talk – a strategic move. Then we would finish the skit after the talk.

This is classic Brian Mashburn. He is all about maximum effect. Well, he got more than he bargained for this time.

With 150 teens sitting on the concrete floor of the overly echoey outdoor gym, the three of us stood facing the teens with me on one side of the “stage,” Robin on the other and Brian in the middle. The point of the skit is that I am one master, Robin is the other master, and Brian is trying to please both of us, but fails one master by serving the other. He tries frantically to please us both, back and forth, to and fro, but to no avail. Finally he is worn out, frustrated, and at his wit’s end. So he stops in the middle and screams, “Stop!”

His words echoed in the gym. The only sound that could be heard was the echo of his “Stop” and the giggles of the kids (there are always several who giggle at this point). What was supposed to happen next is he was supposed to say, “What are you laughing at? I am not the only one trying to serve two masters” (Yeah, kind of harsh to take advantage of kids in that way, but hey). However, the change was that after Brian screamed, “stop!” Robin and I sat down in our places on the “stage,” a good ten feet from the nearest of the teen sitting on the concrete floor. It was at this climactic time that Brian was going to give his impassioned plea for the teens to serve God, and God alone.

I sat on my rear balanced by my hands behind me and legs stretched forward facing the teens. Brian took a leap from the climax of the skit and cranked it up a couple notches higher. Brian was awesome. He had 150 teens in the palm of his hand. He could have been Pentecostal easy. Then Brian gathered one more burst of steam to close the deal. He worked and moved and built up to what was going to be the final word. He was poised to give it to them, hand gestures, facial expression, and posture all saying, “Here it comes!”

He opened his mouth to speak, but what the teens heard next was not his voice, but my fart.

Yes, a fart. Now, please, let’s not think this to be merely the passing of gas. It was a loud, concrete slapping, fart that echoed for a solid two seconds. There is nothing more vulnerable than a public fart that interrupts spiritual climax with no one close enough to blame it on. If you recall, I was in front of everyone, but not within 10 feet of anyone. Blame was not an option, so I went for the next best option - humor. I took my right hand and did a Fonzy thumb and stuck that thumb to my forehead, like the game we would play in youth group about who has to eat the gas. It was all I could do, try to cover myself with humor and laughter.

The problem was that Brian had done such a great job of capturing these kids into a spiritual state of readiness that not a single teenager laughed. Yes, there were boys present. No one laughed. Not even a snicker. I was totally naked out there.

Brian turned his head slowly to the left and looked at me with a horrified look on this face, a look that said, “Your fart may have put a kid's soul in jeopardy," or was it, "I am going to kill you.” Anyway, he just knew I was saving that one up to sabotage his talk. I swear, though, it snuck up on me and escaped without my permission.

Sure, Brian finished his talk, but not with the full impact of the message.

One year later, Brian asked me to be his summer youth ministry intern. He told his youth group I was coming that spring. “What you mean the guy who farted?”

You don’t want to be known as the guy who farted.

Spiritual application tomorrow.

Emerging Church in Media

This is a good article on the emerging church. Thanks to Stephen Shields for pointing it out.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Sugar

Click here and download Sugar for free (At least I got to do it for free), or listen to it for 30 seconds straight from the website. It is a song by The Concretes. This is the group from the Target commercials, "Say something new..."

After you have done this - PLEASE, would someone tell me why I am addicted to this song?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

If I could be like Rick

When Rick Warren got going out in California with Saddleback Church, he did something different. It was innovative, groundbreaking, edgy, relevant, and demoted denominational allegiance to a saner level.

I have been a part of three churches who have adopted the PDC model and none of them increased on lick in membership. Why is that? I mean, it works for Rick Warren, why not the churches I got to?

Well, I think I have a couple of reasons. Let me know what you think.

1. Rick Warren asked hard questions about God's mission, his culture, and what he was willing to do. What so many of the churches who have adopted the PDC model do is focus on Rick Warren's model. The thing is, if you focus on Rick Warren's model you are not doing what he did. He didn't copy someone; so ironically, by copying Rick Warren you are not doing what he did.

2. Rick Warren shed denominational allegiance in order to follow the mission of God. However, the churches I have seen adopt the PDC model have done it "Presbyterian style," or "Church of Christ Style," or something else. Again, this is the exact opposite of what happened with Rick Warrern.

3. Saddleback was a church plant. Every church I have known adopt this model is injecting it into an existing system.

4. Rick Warren's PDC model is a means to an end, God's mission. Churches adopting the model seem to view the model as the end. "When we get this into place we'll be set." Rick Warren seeks to innovate while these churches seek to arrive.

We are naive to think that by copying Rick Warren's model that we are doing what he did. We are not. In fact, the more we copy the content of his model, the more we cripple our ability to use the process he used and innovate like he did. Much more important than the content of the model is the process of what it took to create it.

OK, that 's the critique. I do think, however, that churches adopting the PDC model have the chance of gaining in church health. Furthermore, some do launch out of their homeostasis.

Bottom line, it is all about the mission of God. How can we join in the continual, persistent, and ever-present mission of God?

Weather and Preaching

I hope your preacher is better than my weatherman.

This morning my weatherman leads with this: "There is a cold front coming." When he said this there was a graphic of my reagion of the country with orange and yellow colors where I live and green and blue colors to the north and west. The temp here: 68. The temp in Kansas City, where the cold front is currently located: 47.

But then my weatherman closes the weather section of the news with the extended forecast:

Highs:
Saturday - 74
Sunday - 76
Monday - 76
Tuesday - 81
Wednesday - 76

So, on which of these days does the cold front show up?

What I believe is happening is this meteorological poser is proof-texting unrelated National Weather Service feeds and calling it a forecast.

Now, about your preacher. I know it is more true in the past than now, but restoration preachers are notorious for doing cut and paste scripture butchering and calling it sermon prep. Just like my weatherman's forecast that was probably true to the NWS feeds he was getting, it meant nothing becuase it was not interpretted for my context.

Ever been victimized by so-called preaching which was really violence to scripture?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Now I'm Going To Make One For Loneliness

My new favorite commercial is a cell phone service where the guy in the cubicle is making paper voodoo dolls. A woman asks him about them and he says one is for overages and one is for roaming. She says that their cell plan doesn't have roaming or overages. He is pleasantly surpised. "So they work!" he says as he looks at the dolls. She leaves. With his new found power his voice chases her, "Now I'm going to make one for loneliness."

I think this commercial taps into something very serious. When something happens, good or bad, we often run that result through a pre-existing filter for explanation. This voodoo doll guy never had the option of believing the causation of the good phone plan had to do with anything but his paper voodoo dolls. Even when the answer was right in front of his face and clearly explained. No, all he could understand was the power of the paper voodoo dolls.

So, he took that formula and appiled it to another problem he had - loneliness.

Don't we do this in church? Saddleback is purpose driven, so we get all excited about being purpose driven and get out our voodoo dolls and try to make something happen? We might be missing the real source of the power and the change.

Misapplication of formulas is not only a great cause of failure or even abuse in churches, but also a significant source of spiritual disillusionment. "What is God doing here?" is a better question than "What did God do over there?" OR "What did God do back then?"

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Forgiveness

Had Jesus waited for me to become trustworthy in order to forgive me, I'd be in a world of hurt.

So why do people make the offending person's trustworthiness a requirement for forgiveness?

Compassion generated forgiveness is more likely to happen and more genuine than trust dependent forgiveness.

"No fair?" Well, fairness is luxury mostly innaccessible to humans. Waiting for it is much more like procrastination than virtue.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

God's Will?

Kyle Lake is dead. One of the names of his books is the following: "Understanding God's Will" Go figure. What kind of understanding of God's will comes from publicly dying by electrocution in the baptistry during a baptism? The whole situation is tragic and seems ripe with symbolism, but I just can't think of anything to say.

May his family and church find peace through the deep grief and sorrow they are going through. May they find ways to mourn.

Abortion

With the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the supreme court has come the usual fighting and posturing for the battale to come. Unlike Harriet Miers, this guy is going to make it to a vote of confirmation.

What struck me as odd was the very first comment I heard on the news about this guy. "He is so pro-life he even voted to mandate wives to notify their husbands if she gets an abortion." OK, that comment didn't strike me as odd, it angered me.

I guess my views are exposed in my anger. When I think of a married couple in which the wife is pregnant, I consider this woman to be carrying their child. He had just as much to do with becoming pregnant as she did. It was his biological mass (sperm) that met hers (egg) in conception. Conception is a 50/50 thing. Now please, I understand that from that point on, she is doing all off the carrying of the child, being concerned with her health, puking, carrying anxiety about delivery, gaining weight, and on and on. I have observed this experience from close range twice. She also gets the attention, excitement, joy, fulfillment, praise that the chopped liver father does not get, but this fact does not really help the arguement, does it? Let's move on.

If this mass inside of her is a person, then it is their person, not her person. It is their responsibility, not exclusively hers.

Ah, but this sends me off into another direction: Husbands need to be engaged with their pregnant wives on all levels. As much as the extreme pro-choice crowd looks and sounds to me like a cocophonous choir of sickle-wielding abortionists, there needs to be more of an emphasis on the father's responsibility throughout the life of the child. I have actually heard men say that they will start to be involved with the child when he or she can talk, or can "do something," or at other various stages in their development.

Wrong answer, dude!

As I look more closely at this problem, I believe that a good marital relationship (as opposed to legislation) is the best hedge against a wife getting a secret abortion. Good marriages will rarely result in a secret abortion.