i love change, i mean i truly love change. things that are the same for very long start to go stale. so, in that i love change. everything we are is about change. we age, we diet, we buy new, we buy old, we try different things - change is the center of all we are, and everything we do - everything that we can see, touch, smell, hear, know, think we know and even think we know for sure changes.
i am always amazed at people who fear change; what it there to fear? change is a constant, and in that it is neither good or bad - it just is. we get older, some may see that as bad, while others see it as good. change, all change, is relative to the place you are in life. it is defined by the conditions of your sum total experience.
eveything about our faith centers on change - everything. when we come to the understanding of christ and decide to walk in his light, we change. everyday we are seeking to go deeper, know more, see more, live more, laugh more, love more, forgive more, touch more, embrace more, encounter more we seek change in our lives. if not, if we do not seek change in our lives our faith is dead. because things that are dead decay, they do not change.
i find it a shame when people claim we can not change, that it is our human nature to be what we are and that change is impossible. i keep going back to what paul writes in his letter to the romans, "do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is his good, pleasing and perfect will." [12:2]
you see, when i read this i read paul telling people that if you settle on just being, and do not seek change you will never please God. in seeking the status quo all you get is "what is" and never what will be. if we see change in the light that it is, a transforming power that can bring us closer to God, we then seek to walk that extra mile and connect just that much deeper.
change is not to be feared; it should be embraced.
i love change, i mean i truly love change. things that are the same for very long start to go stale. so, in that i love change. everything we are is about change. we age, we diet, we buy new, we buy old, we try different things - change is the center of all we are, and everything we do - everything that we can see, touch, smell, hear, know, think we know and even think we know for sure changes.
i was watching "ghost whisperer" tonight and heard a line that i think is the coolest line i had ever heard - it dealt with forgiveness and the actor said [winging it], "not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die" - oh, how cool is that?
throughout scripture jesus and all the others share with us how important it is to forgive - and forget - because if you do not it will kill you. jesus saw the idea of forgiveness so central to his message that he told us that if we do not forgive others, God will not forgive us - dang, that poison is starting to taste bitter.
voiced by john o'keefe on 26.5.06
did you all read this story - walmart was put in it's place by a small, local community that said no the retail giant. the city officials used the power of eminent domain to stop walmart from building in their city - and i say "go for it."
walmart lawyers have been shouting "unfair" and "they have no right to do this to us" - yet, where were these lawyers when walmart paid city officials to eminent domain property in alabarster, al or west colfax, co and then sell the property to walmart? it seems they like the new eminent domain laws created by the supreme court when it works in their favor - think about it, they truly do want it all :)
voiced by john o'keefe on 24.5.06
what does it mean to "follow the law?" after all, we are a "nation of laws" right? we set up rules and we follow them, right? we have laws, we have rules and we follow them and we expect others to follow them also, right? traditional evangelical rules tell us that "as a good christian you never go against the civil authorities" right? after all, don't we "give some things to caesar, and other things to God?" [i already wrote on that one] we need to follow, and never question, right? WRONG!!!
i am not a person governed by laws, i am a person guided by grace. rules and laws do not impress me - and if i believe they are going against a core teaching of grace then i will stand on grace, not law. i am very willing to go to jail for grace, but i am not willing to be lost because of law. as followers we are called to live in grace, not laws - pure and simple grace. it is the difference between seeing God's scripture as "teachings" or seeing them as "rules" - i think more in line with teaching.
you see, it is easy to follow a law, it is set before you and you simply do it. one does not have to think, one simply does; for example the speed limit. you drive 65 on the freeway because that is "the law" the "posted speed limit," cool. you see, it is easy, you drive 65, it's the law. if you go over, you can get a ticket, if you drive to far under you get a ticket. now, if you get pulled over by the police, they can choice to not give you a ticket, but that is not grace - that is mercy. the idea that the police offer did not give you a ticket should not be confused with grace, because in law there is no grace only mercy - and mercy depends on the heart of the person giving it, it is not automatic to the person receiving it.
but if all that changed and it was a "teaching" that said, "drive safe and hurt no one" - what would be the speed limit? would it change with each person? would the speed limit for one be different then the speed limit for another? you see, if there is no "law" concerning a speed limit, it would be based on grace. each person would need to decide for themselves what is and is not a "good and safe speed" to drive. for some, it would be 125 and they could be safe, for others it would be 35 and they would be safe. it would not matter what the speed of the car was, as long as the person was "driving safe, and hurt no one."
but for some, that would be a very hard thing to grasp; they have a need to define what God means by "drive safe, and hurt no one." they have a need to "create a law that defines the teaching." they seek to make a law to control grace. for them the "speed limit" protects us against those who do not follow the teaching of "driving safe, and hurting no one." when we move from grace to law in the church we need a "police force" to help enforce the laws, and we need people to develop the law - and this is so not what God is seeking for us as His people. at that point we need to ask who defines the law? you? me? theologians? pastors? what happens if what you see as "God's law" and another sees as "God's law" differs? who is right?
when we become a people of laws, a people who replace grace with mercy, we get to be a people who see "boarders" and not a kingdom of God. when we replace mercy [the allowing people to 'violate' laws by not punishing them]for grace we become a people of laws - a people expecting "some thanks" for our mercy. when we look at the debates that are happening concerning "illegals" [a term that is impossible to have with a kingdom view of the world] we hear people arguing law, while some give mercy and none grace. we hear people wanting to give mercy, but not grace. if, as a people of God we see ourselves as belonging to the "kingdom of God" then we should open our arms to those who are part of that kingdom. if we do not, if we claim grace but demand laws we are not a people seeking to walk in the light of christ. we become a people who are driven by culture and not kingdom.
law says: stay out
mercy says: well, we will give you a break
grace says: welcome my brother and sister in christ
grace defies law, it causes us to see people as people and it causes us to embrace differences and learn to grow with them. i am not defined by my being born in america, i am defined by my being born again in christ.
tags: emergent church, emerging church, john o'keefe, ginkworld, grace, law
voiced by john o'keefe on 19.5.06
i have always been fascinated by "taste tests" and "food samples" - a good day is a saturday in sam's club eating all the samples. what i have always liked about taste tests is that i always go in thinking i can tell my favorite product from the one "i hate." i figure i know the difference, but i soon find out, i am so wrong. i remember taking one of those "pick your favorite cola" [remember them from tv?] and did i ever blow it. i knew i could pick my favorite [pepsi] and did you know, i did not - in fact, out of the three times i did the "test" i picked pepsi only once - heck, for a guy who grew-up in vegas, i can tell you those odds suck. there has to be a better way of knowing the difference?
there is, and it is called "marketing."
thank God for people who are ready, willing and driven to tell us what we are and are not to like. think about it, if it was not for marketing we would just buy the cheapest cola on the shelf and drink it; but they convince us that we need to spend that extra dollar [of five] on the same caramel color soft drink and call it a good day. the people who want us to think there is a difference between one cola and another are people who are trying to "sell" us the drink. look at the labels, what is in one is in the other; so the taste is not very different - in fact, i would say most people could not tell the difference between coke and pepsi - heck,most people could not tell the difference between churches.
i would bet [remember, i grew-up in vegas] that the average person in the church has no idea what the "difference" between their church and another church, say the one right down the street - and to be honest, i don't think they care. come to think of it, neither should theologians, pastor and other "leaders" of the churches; care about the differences. you see, there should be no difference - the idea of "what makes us better" are over. people are looking at the church, and are very confused with all the "differences" we profess as "leaders." they see this as just another way of "dividing the church." you see, to them there is no difference between coke and pepsi.
over the past i have heard many leaders in the church proclaim, "one God, one faith, one baptism" as if they truly meant it. but in reality, it is just hot air, they never mean it. what they mean is, "one God [as long as it is the way we define God], one faith [as long as it is a faith we approve], one baptism [as long as the method is to our approval]." i have met very few church leaders who truly desire to see this as a reality.
i believe people are striving to find who God is in their lives, and in the lives of others. in that, i have come to see that people are saying that if there truly is one God, one Jesus, one Scripture then we should all seek to find a way to express faith in unity with each other and not find differences. people, in side the church, are calling for people to work together; people outside the church are waiting for our actions to equal our words. yet they know, that as they seek ways that will unite the church, many of the "old guard" are holding fast to what they think are "differences."
not too long ago i was approached by a very sweet elderly women who thought what we were doing was just so needed in the church, and she wanted me to "get with the pastor" and do some stuff together. she was just so sweet, and so heartfelt that the church needed to be doing more of what we were doing at 247Connection, i did not have the heart to tell her that her pastor would not give us the time of day. now, the reason is not because we are emerging/evolving but because the denomination she belongs to has a "policy" that they only affiliate with churches in the denomination, and never outside the denomination. you see, even she knew there was no difference between coke and pepsi
voiced by john o'keefe on 15.5.06
when you write the term, "emerging/evolving" what do you mean?
i was asked that question recently, because i have been using the term "emerging/evolving" in things i have been writing - so what does it mean? humm, let me see if i can explain.
the person who emailed me was rather concerned that i was "leaving the emerging" and walking away from the conversation, and that is so not the case. i will stay in the conversation as long as people are talking, and real conversation is happening. i have no desire to think of myself "outside" the emerging church, but i also have no desire to be placed into a box where others define what it means to be part of the "emerging church."
in that, here is where i am at in the conversation. with the exception of a few people i know, most in the "emerging church" are simply "evangelical" with different music, and they burn a few candles. many seem to think that if they simply offer music to attract a younger gathering they have become "emerging." still others think the "emergting church" is a youth group in a "a real church." but for me, and some that i know and speak with, "emerging" is much more - it is a desire to go deep into scripture and open it from the inside, to find what is real in the word of God and remove all the traditional stuff that covers it. it is walking in a community, where accountability is found in love and grace and people lift each other; because accountability is not "punishment" and should never be done with punishment in mind. for many who were raised in the church these are hard to understand.
you see, if the "emerging church" is just like willowcreek [sorry gene and bill] with different music, then what value does it have? the idea of emerging has been to be "true" to what we believe God is speaking, and how we believe God is working in his people today. but i think we lost most of that search in a fight started by others. we have found some people who are against the idea of emerging, so we hide our heads in the sand and stop saying what we think is real because we may offend someone. we give in, instead of giving to God. we are "silent" while many in the communities where we serve are being ignored, because they do not see us as anything but "regular church." this hurts the most, because many in our communities are hurting people in need of the grace of Christ in their lives.
if that is what "emerging" and "emergent" have become, then i am uncomfortable with that - because i do not believe we must settle, i believe God is telling us to move up, move on and move into the world we live in; God is telling us that there are people hurting in this world and if we do not reach them with the life changing message of Jesus Christ, no one will.
i believe we have tone down our call to being closer to God because it causes us to lose book deals and speaking enagements; we tone down our call to being closer to Christ, because it makes some "powerful" people in the evangelical community uncomfortable with our desire for real accountability outside their control. we have lost the idea that "emerging" does not mean "liberal or fundamental" it simply means "emerging" - in the "emerging" we have lost the idea that we are not "anti" others, in fact we support and encourage them, but we are not them.
so, i have started to add the idea that we need to evolve in the emergent. i have, in the past, used the term "emergent evolution" [and will continue to use it] which is an actual term. when we are evolving, we are saying something is changing, something is different, we are no longer what we were; while at a core our DNA is somewhat the same we are changing at dramatic levels. What we were, is not what we are, and it is not what we will become, we are 'evolving' and reaching new expressions of our faith in Christ; to me, that is exciting. in fact, one of the definitions of "emerging" is to "come into being through evolution." so, the idea of "emerging/evolution" is different in that i desire to be more then what i see happening in the "emerging conversation" - and i desire to truly see change in the lives of the people around me. this may have been the heart of the emerging at one time, and it can still be, we need to return to our first love, God.
voiced by john o'keefe on 12.5.06
i often wonder why some in the evangelical realm see the emerging/evolving conversation as something evil, something bad, something out to change the reality of Christ; something that needs to be "put down" and controlled? i often wonder why they desire to "lump" everyone in the emerging/evolving conversation into one camp? i often wonder what makes them think we are so evil in mind, heart and deeds? why do they see us as a threat to the church? i spent the past three weeks looking over some pretty hate filled sites by people speaking against the "emerging/evolving conversation." i have to say i came away feeling sorry for those who are so filled with hate and anger. needless to say, there is very little love on those sites, not just for the emerging/evolving but also for many others who walk a faith a little off from what they see as "the right faith." [what i find so interesting is that many have removed the comment feature from the blogs, and now only take emails - and they only publish the emails that agree with them] here is what i think some in the evangelical community see as "downfalls" in the emerging/evolving conversation. let me see if i can address them and hopefully others will add to them.
some believe we have no place for "formal" convention:
this could be true, but as with many things in life, i am not sure what this means. i am not sure what is meant by a "formal" conversation; i am also not too sure if there needs to be a place where that can happen. for me, and i think for many, informal conversations are what makes the emerging/evolving conversation worth having. the idea that it must be "formal" means, in my mind, that we invite certain people to share with us what they think we must all do. in the informal conversations, happening all over the place, in small churches, in large churches, in coffee shops, in living rooms, in park gatherings, in message boards, chat rooms, in places "real" and "cyber" the conversation is taking on many different tones. all exciting, and all designed to develop a deeper walk with christ.
now, is it a conversation where a more "formal" tone is sought? in most cases, no. the idea of a "this is how you must think" mind set is not quite what we see as "conversation." we are not seeking a monolog, but we do desire dialog and conversation. you want to talk? cool, we will talk - but we do not like being insulted and made to feel like some little kid heading to daddy's office for a "strapping."
some say we are indifferent to biblical truth; we might be spiritual but not "confessional;"
i am so glad i do not carry all the church baggage many seem to carry. this idea of being a not being "confessional" seems silly to me, because when i think in terms of "confessional" and "confessional christianity" i think in terms of a little box people sit in and talk with a preist. for me, i walk with christ and i am cool in knowing he is with me all the time.
yet, do they mean "confessional christianity" in the form of being baptistic in theology? you see, many christians do not have a "confessional faith" as defined in baptist theology; does that make them wrong? can one be a "creedal christian" and still be seen as a christian in the eyes of those who demand a "confessional theology?" what is the difference between reciting a list of doctrines, or a creed? do they both not do the same thing?
yet, if in this idea some have of a "confessional chrisitanity" is the idea that one "confesses" to be a follower of Jesus the Christ, i think most in the emerging/evolving conversation would have no problem in saying they are followers of jesus; i think for many of us it is a given, a reality we all work under and express daily in our lives and walks of faith. but that does not mean i need to buy the t-shirt, and wear the "wwjd" jewelry that is floating around.
some say we have a strong distaste for definitions, sound doctrine;
that depends, define "distaste." [kidding]. we do not have a strong distaste for definitions [i will speak about doctrine in a few]. what we have is a strong desire to have the terms defined. the reality we live under is we are always asking for definitions, because we desire to know what people are talking about - and the best way to know is to know what the words mean. when they claim we have a "distaste" that is not real, we have a strong desire for definitions.
doctrines, well we do not "have a strong distaste" for them either. what we have is a desire to seek reality in doctrine, if the doctrine is on solid biblical grounds, and is not a "man made" doctrine, it will never fall to the ground and we have no problem with that form of doctrine. but over the years doctrines have been created to "fill in the gaps" of systematic theology that are more in line with a human view of things and not a scriptural view of things. you see, for us we are alright with the idea that we do not know it all - and that questions are a good thing. we have a desire to know real doctrine, and not "true" because it has been around for a few years, but because it is solid in scripture.
some believe we are in a constant state of rebellion and finding things to disagree with:
this one is that hardest one to comment on, because it is a "no right answer." it is like the man who asked his friend, "have you stopped beating your wife yet?" no matter the reply, it is the wrong one. if i disagree with it, well i am just being a "rebellious emerging/evolving person without care for what others have to say." but the reality is, it all that depends on how one views the world. it seems that when ever we disagree with some in the evangelical community we are tagged "rebellious." why? can we disagree without being labeled rebellious? we are not in a constant state of being rebellious, because no one can be in a constant state of anything; with the expectance of being in a constant state of grace in christ. disagreeing does not mean we are "rebellious" it just means we disagree. for me, this is a disingenuous argument on the part of some in the evangelical community.
some say we desire to only look for the negative and not the good:
wow, is this one so far off. i, personally, have written many times on seeing the positive light that is in christ; personally i have written many times on the idea that we find the good in things and we reject the negative. this one has always amazed me, because it is so not even close to where i am at, and where those i speak with on a regular basis are at. this idea that we see only negative is not in our hearts [does me disagreeing with that make me negative or rebellious?]
some say we are not genuine in our repenting, or saying "sorry" when we offend those we differ with, but expect it from others:
well, this could be right but i tend to think it is more of how a person was raised and less to do with them being an emerging/evolving person. while i strive not to insult others, if what i say does cause a insult i am very quick to say i am sorry, and mean it. keep in mind, this coin can flip both ways. i have been attacked, insulted and called names and never once received an apology; in that, i do not say "all evangelicals are not genuine" - at best, i know the person who did it is not a person i speak with again.
some say we tend to think we "play games with words:"
like being "certain about their uncertainty" or claiming, "there are no absolutes." for me, i am very uncertain of my uncertainty, that's what makes this faith walk in christ so exciting; i could be wrong. i firmly believe i am not, but there is that chance, ever so slight, i could be. i do not play games with words, you ask me a question and i will answer it. in that, i may ask you to address some definitions, and i may not answer the question to your liking - but it will be answered. if you see my answer as a "wrong answer" that's fine, but it is still an answer. i know of no one in the emerging/evolving conversation that says, "there are no such things as absolutes." by saying that, i believe some in the evangelical community are being disingenuous to the people listening to what they have to share.
over the years i have meet many people, old and young, who have come at me with a "anti-emerging/evolving" stance because of what soem in the evangelical community wrote about the emerging/evolving conversation. usually, within the first 15 minutes hearts are changed and people see us as nothing to fear, in fact many see us as something to embrace. it is funny that we are the ones being tagged "negative" and "argumentative" when in reality we are not even close to that. we are not to be feared, but we are not to be ignored either.
voiced by john o'keefe on 9.5.06
as many know i am not a big fan of huge corporations that make billions and give very little back to the community [like oil companies] - in relationship to what they earn. companies that pay a worker $6.00 an hour and complain about giving health benefits, while popping a "fat paycheck" of $400million on the top egg is not what i think of when i think "responsible corporate citizen" [a legal term with very little reality behind it] - not a big fan of that at all - but i was reading my yahoo news today and i think i support the companies in this one - you see, i think it is less "the companies" and far more the idea of the reality of the world we live in.
some people [the "voice" in the article is "radiator.com"] are suing [something new in america, right :)] google and yahoo for "click through fraud" - what they are complaining about is this; when people click the ads and visit the site, the site pays even if someone does not buy anything. they feel that google and yahoo should only charge if a person buys something from them. they see people "visiting" the site via a "chick through" as fraud.
let me see if i can put this into a "brick and mortar" line of thinking; if i visit target and do not buy, do they have the right to ask for the advertising dollars back that got me to go to the store, because i did not buy anything? what about the money that represents the teens who "come in the store with no intention to buy" and all they desire to do is "look around," can you get that portion back? can they ask the news papers, tv and radio for that portion of the bill that represents the people who just visit ["click"] and never buy?
i think if you place an ad on google, or yahoo, and it is a "pay when someone clicks the ad" you pay even if someone does not buy anything - if that does not work for you, don't put an ad on google or yahoo. it sounds like companies like "radiator.com" and others desire to have the exposure of google and yahoo, but are not willing to live up to their end of the deal.
it sounds like some lawyers see the deep pockets of companies like google and yahoo and think, "hey, let's sue." never once thinking that it just sounds so stupid to the rest of the world - now i know what some lawyers, and other, will say, "it's not stupid, the judge agrees that there are issues to be taken to court" - true, but remember, judges are lawyers who simply found a way to get paid for life :) seems like our "legal system" is simply a self serving system designed to help lawyers stay in business :) - but that's just what i think, i could be wrong :)
voiced by john o'keefe on 7.5.06
the people who know me know i am not political. i could care less about politics, the parties do not move me or interest me. none do, not even the "third parties" out and about trying to fill some political nitch. i could care less who wins, because in reality they are not interested in me and my life - they are only interested in their own and how they can "get ahead" and have more power. i remember when i was a kid my dad said, "i will never undersand why some one would spend 1 million dollars to have a job that pays less then $50,000; i just do not get it."
i was watching tv last night, and as i was flipping through the challens i rested on a "talk show" thing were some people were talking about the war, and i was just about to change it when one of the people said that he did not support the war because he felt it was agaisnt his christian faith and vlaues [i agree with that by the way], so i wanted to hear what he said. other guys said, "render to caeser what is caeser's, and to God what is God's" - then he went on to explain that as christians we have a moral duty to fight this war becuase the state has asked us, and that we must render unto caeser. his "logic" was that as 'americans' we owe the state our lives - with that, the conversation ended. the one who stood the ground on the fact that, "according to my faith war is wrong" was shut-out by people clapping for the man who told him his faith was wrong and that we needed to "render to caeser." now, that bugged me because it was not very relational, and it was not a reality of scripture - let me explain what i mean.
render unto caeser:
in his recording of the events surrounding the life of jesus, matthew records jesus speaking with some jewish leaders, and jesus says, "give to caeser what is caeser's and to God what is God's" [matthew 22:21]. this line has been used to bring christians into the political debate for almost 1,700 years. everytime i mention that i am a pacifist, i am hit with that line as if it will magicaly change my point of view and make me pick-up a gun and kill people; or declare some kind of loyality to the "state." but that will not happen, because my christian walk does not allow me to think in terms of violence, or anger, or revenge. but more then that, the people who quote this line often concentrate on the "give to caeser" part, and they do a quick walk over the "give to God" part - i want to look at the "give to God" part.
render unto God:
i am willing to give caeser [the state] everything that belongs to it, which according to scripture is nothing. you see, according to scripture everything belongs to God, everything [job 41:11] so, since everything belongs to God, God gets everything - caeser gets nothing. let's look at it one thing at a time:
kings [the state] belongs to God:
in the psalms, the psalmist shares with us that even kings belong to God [psalm 47:9]
we [everyone] belongs to God:
in his first recorded letter to the church peter shares that "we all belong to God" [1 peter 2:9]
we [as followers] belong to christ:
in his recording of the events surrounding the live of jesus,mark shares that as followers we all belong to christ [mark 9:41]
so, i wonder - because everything belongs to God, and everyone belongs to God - what is left to render to caeser? my life? that belongs to God. my loyality? that is also God's. my walk? that is God's as well. there is nothing i have that belongs to caeser. and no place in scripture will you find that we belong to the state - we all belong to God.
so, it is in that where i rest and say i am not politic. as a follower of christ, i seek to walk in the light of the teachings, and not in the darkness of men. now, before i go on let me address those who will read this and comment, or say to themselves, "saying you are not political is 'being political' because everything we do is political' we are a political society." i disagree. i am not a political person, i am a relationship person. it is not a "play on words," there is huge differences. when you are into politics you desire to "get the best deal for you." when you are into relationships you desire to "help others get the best." in politics, people look out for "number one" [you]; in relationship people desire to follow "number one" [God]. to me, the difference is pretty clear, and i am good with that.
voiced by john o'keefe on 6.5.06
what i love most about my life [besides the wife and kiddies] and my faith is the desire and ability to be "in process." i love the idea that i keep asking myself questions, and as soon as i think i have an answer, i rethink the whole mess and come up with more questions - for me, this is a natural state of reality; my mind works best in the state of chaos. i simply am the kind of person who sees more questions in life then absolute answers. in that, i have been thinking about how one answers a question. you see, i do not think most people think about this stuff, but being the kind of guy i am, i think it all the time. how does one answer a question?
now, it seems silly to ask a question like that, and than answer it. i mean think about it for a second [1, times up], i just asked "how do you answer a question?" which would seem to implies that i have no idea the answer, but then i keep writing because for some weird reason i desire to give an answer - but can i give an answer to such a question? if i give an answer, is it a valid answer? if i am asking questions about giving the answer, do i have an answer? should i even be asking the question? but mostly, why do they not have a "plaid power ranger?" man, this makes my head hurt :)
i guess, where i am in all this is that no matter how i answer a question, someone - somewhere will, for what ever reason they have, find fault with the answer - or, what they may see as the lack of an answer. i am not sure how one answers a question, but what i am sure of is that, for some, if the answer is not to their liking you can never truly "answer" the question. sometimes, the question holds more answers than the answer. after all, a "plaid power ranger," pleeeeeeease :)
voiced by john o'keefe on 4.5.06
over the past i have always had a "post comments freely" blog - well, because of people wanting to sell insurance, get rich quick ideas and personal cam shots i moved to a "registered user only" and "code verification" process - it weeded out the autobots and the sales people, which was very cool. but just last week i did something i thought i would never do, i went to a "moderating comments" mode. i did this because some person decided to crash the blog and share some very disingenuous information in comments. but then i got to thinking, why did i do that? why did i move to a more restrictive comment mode? why did i allow that one person to change the way i have conversation with others? i searched my heart and came up with two reasons.
first, because i wanted to control what was being said about me. that is the simple reality i had to be honest about; it is a natural reaction, and very human one - but not very trusting in God. you see, i wanted to "have control" and not trust that God would be in control. but i soon realized that my judgment is not as clear as God's. i soon realized that i could become "them;" those who moderate comments to make themselvs look good and to make their point. my fear in this would be that i would reject a comment that God desired on the blog to help others. i thank God that i have not had the opportunity to reject any comments but the power is not a good thing to have in open conversations.
second, i figured if they could do it, i could do it. [it's the becoming "them" thing] i know,that is not a very good reason, but it was how i was feeling. i figured, most of the "anti-emerging" sites moderate comments on their sites, why not me? but then i got to thinking, just because they do not trust God, does not mean i need to stop trusting God. just because they do not desire to have an open and honest conversation does not mean i need to put up my walls of human protection. besides, they desire to hear only voices that agree with them; they desire to post only comments that support their misguided bashing of the emerging church. i have found that they say "let's talk" but they truly have no desire for an honest and open conversation. i figure God is bigger than that, so i removed the "moderate comments" mode.
you see, for me the danger is that by me selecting what comments i make myself more important than the people making a comment, and that is so not my heart. if i claim to what to hear all voices and i do not listen to the ones that disagree with me,i am not listening to all voices. i am secure enough in my faith to know where i stand in my relationship with jesus christ, which i follow with all my heart. if someone desires to disagree with me, i am cool with that and that voice should be heard.
for me, i believe in having an honest conversation with others who do not see it the way i do; i desire to be open to their expression of faith and offer a real generosity to their point of view; while always having a tolerance for differing ideas and a heart to never belittle what others are in process with. it is unfortunate but many who are "ant-emerging" desire none of those, because they do not see conversation, openness, generosity, tolerance and the expression of what is real as "bibical teachings." they see them as "human teachings" that are not of God - but i guess i see God in a very different light.
yet, i desire more. in my desire for conversation, openness, generosity,tolerance and what is real i desire to seek God's light in my walk of faith. in my faith walk i desire the authority of scripture, but not of other people. my "default" is scripture and not what other people desire to tell me scripture is about. one of the things that drive me crazy with many in the "anti-emerging" mindset is that they are quick to tell me what "other people say" and very slow to tell me what scripture says. for me, i desire a heart that is transformed by christ that makes me a new person with a clarity to what christ points to as real; to express love, grace, forgiveness,acceptance and much more. for me,my walk is defined by the people in community and it is not defined by others, outside community. being open to others is a key to growing in christ.
voiced by john o'keefe on 4.5.06
over this past year, i have heard the word "repent" more times then i had in all my years past as a follower of jesus. but they do not mean "repent and follow God." what they mean is, "repent, you are not doing things the way i[we] think it should be done, so you need to change and do it my[our] way." they seem to have of less a desire to help you to follow God and more of a desire to have you follow them. but this experience is not all negative. in fact i have found it to be a very positive and productive experience. you see, it has lead me to think what does the word "repent" means? sure, i have always heard it means "turn around" but i wanted to know more; what was the greek? what was the history of the word? could it have other meanings we seem to be overlooking? could it mean something different? could it be more than just "repent"? could it mean something we lost as a community? so, i got to thinking [danger will robinson] and set my mind to think, ponder and read greek [always fun] to get to the idea of what i believe "repent" means. so, to see the word "repent" in light of what it means today, what it meant in latin and more, what did it mean to a first century mind.
the word "repent" is a "middle english" word that comes from the latin word "paenitere" which gives birth to the middle english word [taken from old french "repentir,"] "repent" and means "to be sorry." the core of the word deals with feeling regret and sorrow. so, in an "english" idea "repent, the kingdom of God is at hand" means, "feel sorry for who you are, because the kingdom of God is at hand." but is that what the greek shares? is that an understanding in the greek?
think of it this way, one of the greek words for "repent" is "metanoes" [the other is "metamellomai" and has about the same meaning and root structure] and is actually a compound word made up of "meta" meaning "companions, together, towards, accompanied, accompany" and "noeo" meaning, "consider, think, understand, see, perceive." so, one can say that the idea of "repent" [metanoes] means to "turn around and consider walking with others who will help you see the kingdom of God all around you," right?
in luke's recording of the life and ministry of jesus [13:1-9] jesus shares with us a great story of what it means to "repent." in that, jesus shares that if we do not "repent" we will parish, cool - but again, what does jesus mean? so, because jesus knows the idea of "repent" is a hard one to grasp, jesus shares a great story:
"Then he told this story: "A man had an apple tree planted in his front yard. He came to it expecting to find apples, but there weren't any. He said to his gardener, "What's going on here? For three years now I've come to this tree expecting apples and not one apple have I found. Chop it down! Why waste good ground with it any longer?'
"The gardener said, "Let's give it another year. I'll dig around it and fertilize, and maybe it will produce next year; if it doesn't, then chop it down.'"
the land owner mindset:
i remember when i first became a follower of jesus, i heard a radio preacher speaking about this story and saying that the "land owner" was God and that the "gardener" was jesus. but the more i think about it, the less i think that is the case.
the owner of the land say, 'cut it down; get rid of it; it is not producing; i'm tired of it and it is just wasting ground.' to me, that does not sound much like God, but it does sound like legalistic christians who think they know all the answers and have created a set of "rules and guidelines" to live by based on what they think is "righteous."
i am amazed at the number of us [followers of jesus] who have the same reaction about other people. many say, "repent" and if nothing happens we act as if the person is just wasting ground, not give us the fruit we desire. so in our hearts and minds we thing "cut them down." sure, many say "we do this because we love them" but a quick judgment because of a lack of fruit is not the compassion christ shares with us and we must have for others. too many see a tree, they expect fruit and if they do not get what they desire they want to cut the tree down.
the gardener’s mindset:
after the land owner gets his panties in a twist over the lack of fruit, the gardener says, "wait, i can help this tree produce fruit. i will spend time with it, seeing to what it needs and helping it get all it needs to grow and produce fruit. give me time, it will take extra time, but i am willing to give of my life, my time, to see this tree reach the potential it has stored in its branches." that is the idea jesus puts out there as a idea of "repenting;" that's were we need to be as a people, as followers of jesus. we need to be a gardener willing to take the time needed to make sure the plant is growing and producing. we need to be willing to get dirty, get involved and get creative in the process. the gardener desires strongly to see the plant produce, and is willing to go that extra mile for the plant; are we for people?
we need to go that extra mile for others; to work together and build community; build relationships; build a foundation for the future. some we see as "not being fruitful" not "following jesus" but it takes action on our part; we need to be ready to get down and get dirty. we need to see what others need and help them develop a solid foundation in christ. what i have found over the past is that when we truly invest our lives into the lives of others, fruit does come - and it is sweet, wonderful and seed producing. you see, we need to remember that "fruit" is the way a plant sends out seeds and we have a choice, "land owner seeds" or "gardener seeds."
the way i see "repent."
i do not see "repent" as this nasty idea, or scary tactic many seem to use. many strive to make it, an idea of "either turn now or burn in hell." one of the people who told me to repent said, "jesus says, 'repent and be saved'" when i reminded him that jesus never said those words and he was misquoting scripture, he added, "well, he may not have said it, but that is what he meant." [ok, here is a note of sarcasm] i always find great comfort in hearing people tell me they knew what jesus meant, even when jesus did not say anything about it.
when i read jesus saying, "repent, the kingdom of God is at hand" [as in matthew's recording of events in 4:17] or "repent, and believe the good news" [as in mark's recording of events in 1:15] i get a whole different read from it. what i read, what i come to understand, is jesus saying;
'understand, you need to change your direction, your perception of the world around you, and be in community with others developing relationships; it is in that "company of others," where you work together heading towards the kingdom of God!'
that is what i think jesus meant, a new idea for "repent?"
voiced by john o'keefe on 2.5.06