the role of a parent?

i am not real big on this nebulas thing called a "family church." it never seems to truly be anything "family" - when a "family" walks in the front door, the kids go one way, the teens go another way, while mom and dad head off to different directions themselves. during worship, mom and day may sit tighter but the kids and the teens are not in sight. in fact, the only time the "family" is together as a "family" is in the parking lot - coming or going. now, that is just my personal bug on this thing called "family church," and some people know that - so a good bud in az emailed me this because he knew i would get a kick out of it; the ad reads:

"Camelback Bible Church is prayerfully seeking either a pastor or director...Individuals interested in this position [the position is called "pastor of children's discipleship"] should be committed to leading children (birth through 6th grade) to embrace a vibrant and biblical faith in Jesus Christ and to equip them for a lifetime of service to the glory of God."

wow, i always thought that was called being a parent, guess i was wrong.

i am uncomfortable with the idea that a church is wanting to take the place of the parents in this. now, it could be that the church has figured out that its adults are unable to teach their faith to the kids because the adults do not know what their faith is, but then teach the adults. i think we miss something very important when we do not have parents who follow the teachings of christ, and are examples of our faith and who take the time to truly speak in loving ways about God and christ - we have left it to "the experts" to teach our teens and our kids about christ; we have walked away from our responsibility as parents.

i have heard many a parent blame the "youth pastor" because their kids are not dedicated followers of christ; or because their kids are not going to church any more. as a consumer church we desire to blame others for our inability to take the responsibilities God has give us - we fail, so we blame another.

i wonder what it would be like if the pastor stood up one sunday and said, "we are no longer looking for a pastor of children’s discipleship because it is your responsibility as a parent to disciple your children and we will be offering a class on how to do that - and we would like to see everyone who has a child in the class to learn how." i bet hardly anyone shows, heck i bet he never stands up and says it.

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the sons of God

i have been listening to the news concerning the war and it got me to thinking. i got to thinking about is how horrid humans are. it seems that hate runs deeper then love, and violence runs deeper then peace. vengeance is the food that feeds the human soul and drives the human heart; with greed and self desires the spice that seasons the meal. my stomach turns at the thought of a human taking the life of another human and we call ourselves civilized. a great deal of what i have been hearing lately is dealing with "the cost of the war." many are talking about the political stuff and some one mentioned how much this war was costing in dollars. one of the panelists on one of those "news" shows mentioned he felt the price of gas could hit $5.00 a gallon soon and that other things would start to rise. they talked in terms of how this war is helping boost the economy in certain cities, and how it is helping certain companies hire more workers. it spoke in terms of the "true cost" of war and how it is helping the economy - needless to say i have become sick, and i vomit out the poisons placed in my system by such concerns. watching fox [ever so shortly] one day i actually heard the announcer say to stay tune to hear how the war was effecting "your" stocks and other parts of the economy. i believe we do not desire peace, we talk like we might but we don't - if we had peace, armies would get smaller, diplomats would be out of work and big business could not cash in on the wars. we do not want peace because it is bad for the economy, and bad for big business. the "cost of war" in dollars is nothing, because it is going into the pockets of companies out to make a buck on the true cost of war.

the true cost of war is in the death of innocent lives; the children, the elderly, the sick, the helpless, the disabled, the ones who never pick up a gun or strap a bomb on to kill others. the ones who are playing in the streets one minute and lying dead in the streets the next. the ones who are walking home from the store with bread and food who find them selves without a home to return to. the ones who sit on a couch nursing a baby when a bomb rips through the house killing all. the cost of war is found in the lives of those left to pick up the pieces of loved ones after a bomb takes out half an office building. the cost of war is found in the lost childhood of many who, on both sides, grow to hate and see vengeance as the only way of evening the score. the seeds of this war are being planted to become the wars of the future. war solves nothing, it never brings about peace and it is never fair at the end. the cost of war is always the winner over the loser and the loser desiring to "get even."

i will admit that there are times when i think we must fight, but then i realize i am falling into the trap of darkness. you see, war is darkness and peace is light - God can never be found in darkness, God does not live in darkness - God is only found in light and peace is light. war is destruction and God does not destroy, God creates. in creation God being about life, love, peace, and grace. the tension that is real in this for me can only be solved in the words of christ, and not in a loyalty to a political party or a country. for me, i find comfort in the arms of christ, and not wrapped in a flag or ideology. the sad part is, we will keep count of the soldiers who died, but we will never keep count of the children, the elderly and others who die in their path. the cost of war is great and it is too high a price to pay. as a christian minister, as a person who follows the teachings of jesus i believe we must stand against the cost of war and proclaim the price is too high. in matthew jesus says, "blessed are the peace makers for they will be called the sons of God." for me, i desire to be called "a son of God."

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the problems with the standard evangelical doctrine of "sin."

from my understanding the evangelical doctrine of sin is:

all sin leads to death
it is our nature to sin
we will continue to sin no matter what
we can not stop our sin nature.

so, no matter what we sin - and we keep sinning according to the evangelical doctrine - but, what do we do with things like this:

1 john 5:16-17 "If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death."

1 john 1:6-7 "If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we're obviously lying through our teethÂ?we're not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God's Son, purges all our sin."

1 john 5:18-20 "We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him. We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is trueÂ?even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life"

if we read the scripture above we see that not all sin leads to death. so, the idea that we are "dead in sin" seems to go against what john is saying in his writing. we also read that if we are truly born of God we can not continue to sin, it is impossible. if we do, if we keep sinning we are not truly of God and we are lying through our teeth.

how do we read these scriptures in light of the idea that scripture is "infalliblele, inspireded and innerant?" how do we see these scripture in light of the evangelical of sin? what, if anything, should we rethink and consider different? how are we changed when we enter into a relationship with christ? how do we allow God to change us? if we are claiming to be christian can we honestly treat people poorly and simply put it off to a "sinful nature?" when we do, are we simply making excuses for our bad actions and misguided theology?

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the journey

Life is a journey, a process, and apprenticeship where we strive to go deeper and seek to walk in light. I was raised a non-Christian in the post-Christian world in New York, Florida, Las Vegas [a place not given to traditions] and California. I have a very different view of church and the faith then many in the evangelical world seem to have - and I am ok with that, I truly am [they may not like it, but I am ok with it] in that, I see things differently. I do not make friends to "share my faith" - I make friends to make friends, and I live my faith. If in living my faith [being incarnational] they desire to know more about what I believe I am happy to share. I think it’s a difference in starting points; in a traditional approach the starting point is the person wanting to share, in what I see as an emerging/evolving view the starting point is with the person seeking the information.

It is my personal reality, chaos is where I function best - and so do many of the people I know in the world around me - "linier" is not a thought pattern I understand, and many of the people I speak with daily have the same view I do. I think my bud Leonard Sweet wrote it in one of his books that 95% of life is non-linier, why do we strive to place our non-linier life into a linier pattern? Gleick, in his classic book "Chaos" writes, "Non-linier terms tend to be the features that people want to leave out when they try to get a good, simple understanding. Friction, for example. Without friction a simple linier equation expresses the amount of energy you need to accelerate a hockey puck. With friction the relationship gets complicated..." the reason it does is because one then has to take into account all “small things” that we desire to ignore. While chaos can be hard to deal with, I believe one can never truly see the world as God desires it to be seen if we seek to have a linier understanding of who we are in relationship to God and to each other.

So, in viewing life as a journey, we see different paths to take. Which path we take is based on all the information at hand. We think in different waves, we see in different colors and we like the smell of different flowers - we look at our world in very different views - we see life in a very different way. This is not "bad" but it is different. We use different words, and we express in different realities. I would venture to say that we have very little in common, with the possible exception of Christ. in that, I am very willing to give a great deal of room.

what needs to be remember, and seems to fall way short, is that to reach and emerging/evolving/postmodern mind the old ways have very little effect and are having even less of an effect as time goes on. for many in the modern/evangelical world an "emerging" church service is just another "style" like offering a "contemporary, traditional and blended" service; “emerging” has become a new program in the modern church - they think they can add an "emerging" service and all will be fix - many in the online ministries seem to think the same way - add an "emerging" looking site to ours and we can reach "the next generation" [not knowing this is far deeper then a generational thing] - never once thinking that they are not even close to reaching anyone with such a site - because people see through it. it is not about having a cute design on your site, or hiring some blue haired 20 something to "lead" the service - it is about truly changing, truly becoming different, truly being missional [which has nothing to do with missions work or writing a check], truly being incarnational - truly being more then what is.

just so you know, we [I do take a strong objection to the word "unsaved" because it is "christianees"] are walking by the church not because people fight over the color of the carpet, or the style of music, or what you call the service - we walk past because we are the great "unnoticed" and we believe we are of no value to the church except a number, an offering, and a cheep form of day labor. You need to understand, it has nothing to do with fighting, that happens in families all the time - it has to do with the modern church is completely irrelevant to our lives and just does not get us and is unwilling to change.

In my view the church has become its own best listener and voices from the outside are not of value to people inside the church. It needs to learn that to truly reach us, know us and think like us - or move out of the way for others who do.

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looking at myspace

i like myspace, i have one and so does the community of faith i serve. i have found it to be a great place to meet people and extend connections. i love all the fuss about myspace, and all the hype some modern christian leaders are trying to bring out. while i am certain they believe they are doing good, i wonder if they realize how disconnected they sound, how out of touch with culture they sound, how distant they seem from my life, and how off they seem from what is happening. i wonder if they even care they sound as they do.

while i find the conversation interesting, i am not sure i get all the negative hype about myspace and the "fall of the human race" because of the community that is forming on places like myspace. it seems that if you listen to some, myspace is filled with porn, weird language, sex freaks and child molesters. while i will not doubt that some of that takes place on myspace, the last five cases of child molestation i heard about centered on teachers and elementary students. so, given that, i suggest we close all public schools. then there are all the cases of priests, pastor, minister and such using children as sex toys, looks like we need to close all churches - do you see how silly the argument is to close places like myspace because a few people are sick and twisted. people are sick and twisted all over the place, do we close everything?

why are they so against it and things like it? why are they so driven to "close" [as if they could] opportunities to build community such as myspace? over the past few weeks i have read and heard modern church leaders suggest that the church create a "christian myspace" and "compete" with myspace head on. i think that is the funniest thing i had ever heard. they could never do it; they could never build a "christian myspace" even if they wanted to - and here is why:

it would be too rule structured:
any christian community site i know of has never matched the growth and depth of places like myspace, blogger [got them too], facebook, xanga, bebo, friendster, linkedin [i have one of these too], or orkut. mainly because they would never allow community to form. they would only allow you in if you followed some very strick guidelines that would never allow for growth or the exchange of ideas. they would limit the creative side, and structure it to be more like a church and less like a community. in reality, most christians have no idea how to live in a community like myspace - they see it as a place to make converts and preach; not a place to make friends.

it would not attract those outside the club:
because it would be so controlled, it would attract very little from outside the church [and i think not much from within the church either]. it would be more of a "club" then a community. it would have very little appeal to those looking to make friends, because people who were "outside the community" would see it as a way of "beating people to jesus." think of it this way, not many people i know are looking for a community where you get to share your favorite bible verse and debate the issue of hymns or no hymns.

it would be moderated and imposing:
with the idea of being "beat into jesus" any myspace style christian community would be very imposing and heavily moderated [causing a natural anti-growth reality]. if anyone tried to "go outside the box" they would be asked to leave - and even if that was by other members of the club, there is a very imposing reality to that. people would be "removed" for questioning standard evangelical doctrine and for asking questions that can be seen as "wrong." the idea of "being free in christ" would mean "freedom" as long as you towed the mark.

i can speak for myself, but i know i have no desire to live in a "christian myspace" like that. what we need to do is simply get involved in the cultures that are forming around us and make friends. truly live past the boundaries of the couch and connect with the people who are striving to make friends. think of it this way, with over 46 million people connected to one of the online communities, people are desiring community. you see, while most churches are losing people, places like myspace and facebook grew [in one year] from 4 million, to 38 million, they are doing something right.

with the idea that christians have no idea how to live in a place like myspace. they are trying hard to figure out how we "minister" to them and "preach" to them and not enough time just living in the space and getting to know people.

picture this, a "christian myspace"- a light blue page with spinning cross, flying doves, twisting fish and the standard jesus picture smack in the middle of the page; and as it loads a "carman" wrap [sorry, i just can't use the word "rap" or "hip hop" in dealing with a old white guy from new jersey] - and then ask the skate, or goth kid down the street to join and create a profile.

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a new look for me :)

this past sunday dan bolick, a friend from out community of faith [and one of the best tattoo artists i know] - was showing us his new apple - and in so doing took some pics of us - this is that i would look like if i were from another world, like cleveland :)

i love the head size. i have always said that "large white males with shaved heads all look the same" - but this would make me look that much different :)

here is what i think i would look like if i decided to go the "michael jackson" path and get my nose fixed. sure,other features will look very weird, but hey - it's a look, right?

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going to korea

i was directed [misdirected if you ask me :) ] to a website that seems to not like anyone - or at least not many people - well, maybe they just don't like the people who differ from them. now, as i have said before i am not interested in giving out a name of a site - because i just have no desire to give people like that any kind of exposure - misguided words need to remain silent. let me say this about the guy, i have no idea who this guy is, what he has done, who he is connected to, all i know is a friend [and gary, you owe me for that one] pointed me in his directions. now, i would never have come across him in my walk, because we walk in a whole different direction - i tend to walk towards love, grace and forgiveness.

recentley, this person decided to rag on rick warren about his invite to preach in korea. i will admit that i am not following the story because it just does not interest me. i am not a big fan of all rick has to offers; i do respect the man for what he has done and seems to be saying about getting off our collective asses and into helping others. so, i do not see a reason to rag on the guy for wanting to help and do good. i may differ from rick on some issues, and to be honest that does not mean much - because, as i see it, we are still brothers in christ. i may see things radically different then rick, and i may be closer to the edge then he is but we still see jesus for who jesus is, was and always will be - and in that, i need to strive to give rick all the help i can. while some seem to desire to rag and rip on rick, we should be vocal enough to support him in his reaching others. so, his ripping rick a new one does not connect for me - and let me share why.

he rips rick for knowing famous people:
to be honest, i could careless who knows who, or how anyone knows another. to me, it is no big deal - people are people, and no one is better then another. my dad use to say, "we are all pink on the inside." with that said, i have to say that i have never heard rick share a story of the famous people he hangs out with as if he was bragging on who he knows. while i will admit i am not a member of the church rick serves so i do not hear him speak a great deal, i have heard him speak in interviews, and most of the time he does speak about regular places and regular people.

he rips rick for selling books:
i love this one, because on the page where the article is listed there are 9 books you can purchase from the website - so, it seems that while it is bad for rick to sell books and make money, it is not bad for the site that publishes this guys stuff to sell books and make money - i am confused on that one.

he rips rick for giving money to his foundations:
this one just made me laugh, because as he is rapping rick a new one on this, the site he is on has a ad [in the middle of his article] asking for a donation.

look, i am just like the next guy when it comes to things that are a bit off, but i think there is a point we reach when we have to look at what we are saying, in connection to what we are doing. some forget that we are not called to rip each other apart, but we are called to build each other up - that means we should be showing some kind of unity, some kind of connection.

we should be offering rick our prayers, our support, our voice in this - we should be lifting the opportunity to share the our faith with others and we should be asking "rick, what can i do to help?"

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my faith is not political

my faith is not political: my faith is not based on the call of anyone on the "right" or on the "left" of anything they call politics - my faith is spiritual; my faith comes from a relationship with God and not a political rally cry. my spiritual walk determines my life walk, how i act, how i relate to others and how i see myself and others. my spiritual walk is not political, i will not march for it, i will not speech for it, but i will die for it.

i am unwilling to die for a political stance, be it on the "right" or on the "left;" i am unwilling to die for a political party, a country, a government, a ideology or a campaign. i seek to live in my relationship with christ, walk in the light of the son and seek to be the incarnation of christ in the world - i desire to love others, forgive others, accept others, walk with others, know others, sit with others and most of all get to share with others. i desire to be the incarnation of christ, not the incarnation of political rhetoric designed to control. i desire to stand for all human dignity, and allow others to come to find what that means as they explore their spiritual walk. i do not desire to be more then who i am, by speaking a game i am unwilling to play -

if you see this as political, then you see this through the eyes of a human seeking to define me as you desire, and out of some febel desire to contol my life. it is done to place me in either a "right" or "left" box, to tag me as "liberal" or "conservative." to not see me for me, but to see me as you desire to define me. when you do that, you insult me and show a desire to control and a want to move me into some definable group you like to think you can control. i seek to walk with God, and God is not a politician - God speaks with honesty, in love, in grace, in forgiveness, in harmony with all that is around us - God unites and seeks to do what is right for us, not some special interest group. politicians divide, because for them power comes when people are divided and fragmented. in God, "grace" is seen as serving others and in uniting the hearts of all the people.

in that, two things turn my stomach - religious "leaders" who desire to act like politicians [when i spell check this the computer change it to "pollutions"] and politicians [pollutions, here also] who act like religious "leaders." neither know the heart of God and both seek to control, misuse and abuse the people around them.

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the superman effect

tina and i went and saw the new superman movie the other day, and i have to say i was not impressed. everyone i spoke to about the movie said it was going to be great. the critics loved it, the hype was over the top and people were flocking to see this great new story of the man of steal - but it turned out to be a disappointing rehash of the first superman with christopher reeves. heck, even much of the dialog was the same. i was not impressed, it was the old superman disguised as a new superman - but i was not fooled. it had nothing to do with the actors or the director, but it had everything to do with the story line.

this got me to thinking - how many "emerging/evolving" churches are simply a rehash of the old modern church? many emerging/evolving communities of faith say they are "different" but they are simply the same; sure some minor changes - but the dialog is much the same - ok, there are newer actors, some set changes but that is about it. i remember looking at tina when superman and louis went out for a "fly" and i said, "if i hear the 'who are you' poem we walk out of the movie." i have felt that way in many emerging/evolving communities of faith i have been in also. as i sit, i wait for them to do what every other contemporary, modern, evangelical church would do - and i am seldom disappointed.

i am not sure i would be willing to trust the next superman movie. i wanted so much more, i was expecting something very different and when i experienced a flash back to the first movie, my trust level dropped about 100 points. just think of al the people who are hearing, "our church is different" and when they come in, it is no different then any other church - think of it as "the superman effect."

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flash backs

let me see, this is how my morning is going so far :)

i finished updating ginkworld
i posted a bunch of new articles
i wrote some book ideas down and emailed them to a publisher
i sent off a proposal to an agent
i did a bunch of church work
i got real bored

and it was the boredom that i found my past. it was out of some freaky desire to remember my roots i check back at the very first post i did on this blog - and here it is:

20020311 - well, following the lead of many others (jordon cooper, karen ward) we have deveoped a blog - we will use it to post random thoughts and off the wall stuff - and to let people know what's happening in this crazy world we call - "ginkworld."

i think i have been pretty honest to that. over time i have shared with everyone great joys and great pains - i have shared ideas in process and ideas that just were too silly to ever think of processing. i think, in general, i have shared my thoughts, my desires, my dreams, my wishes, my prayers and more. it could be said that if you read my blog, you can get to know me - and i actually like that possibility.

i am not perfect, and i know i can be a loud voice at times - but all in all i hope i always keep try to that very fist post - where i will share with you my random thoughts and off the wall stuff - and that we always keep you informed as to what is happening at ginkworld :)

tonight should be better - i have a hot date with a sexy blonde [my wife] for dinner and a movie :)

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