Sunday, April 29, 2007

Bible Lesson Today

Today we read about Jephthah. (see Judges 10-11)

It is said, "he was a valiant warrior, but the son of a harlot." And his being a son of a harlot seemed to overshadow his military abilities. That passage struck me because in the preceding chapter, it seems that God's plan was to use someone to deliver Israel once again from their idolatry (and the way it is told in chapter 11, it appears that God planned on using Jephthah). I love the wording of God's grace there, "and He could bear the misery of Israel no longer."

But this stigma of being a harlot's son drove Jephthah to run with the wrong crowd (worthless fellows gathered themselves about Jephthah). However, someone recognized his military strength and asked him to be the leader and save them from the enemies.

I love how Jephthah made fun of his ennemies' gods. He really was brave.

From a piestic reading of the text, God sees us one way and has a course, but the opinions of others can put us on a path other than what God intended. Are we encouraging people's move towards God or are we encouraging people's move away from God? May we recognize the valiant among us. May we be valiant no matter how people perceive us!

Now with the rest of the story of Jephthah, someone else is going to have to help me. Why did he make such a vow? It did not seem like it was required. And what about how the vow was worded, "whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me" Bizarre. Very Bizarre.

Feel like I am caught up in a story

I have been looking at orality vs literacy issues. Right now, I am exploring the elements of a story.

NT Wright, although writing about how the NT relates to "the people of God," offers some insights into worldviews and stories. What he said about the elements of the story is what has caught my attention. And I feel I am in the middle of a story.

In a story there is a sender sending an object to a receiver. This is the mission. The object is entrusted to an agent who can not complete the mission because the opposition is stronger than the agent's "help." At this point it would be good to illustrate the point as Wright does with Little Red Riding Hood. The mother (sender) sends food (object) to the grandmother (receiver) by Little Red Riding Hood (agent). She can not deliver the food because of opposition (the wolf) who is stronger than her charm (help). At this point the mission is truly in danger of failure. But the story moves into the next phase. The agent becomes the receiver and there may not be a sender. So, Little Red Riding Hood now becomes the receiver. A new agent is needed to bring relief to the situation. The wood cutter (new agent) comes in order to overcome opposition with his ax (new helps). This mission is completed, in other words the Red Riding Hood (new receiver) gets rescued (new object) by the wood cutter (new agent) thru his ax (new helps). The initial sequence is repeated and the mission is completed. Red Riding Hood escapes the wolf (opponent) and deliveries the food (object) to grandmother (original receiver). Now, I don't know if that is exactly how the real goes or not, but it does illustrate the point. My apologizes to Wright, who obviously can explain this better than I have.

Don't worry if you got lost in the details (it took me awhile to get this down also), but maybe you can see the point. There is God (the sender) who has a message (object) for the world (the receiver). He has commissioned his church (the agent) to deliver the message (the object), but the opposition is strong. However, because of the Cross (the new agent with new helps etc) the gates of hell will not prevail. The mission can be completed.

Whatever our opposition is today, Help is on the way. We are in constant need of receiving this help. It will come, then we will be able to accomplish the original purpose.

Dan 10:11-13 He said to me, "O Daniel, man of high esteem, understand the words that I am about to tell you and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you." And when he had spoken this word to me,I stood up trembling.Then he said to me, " Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. "But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Freedom in All We Do

We've been looking at and discussing the church trying to figure out if there is change in the air and what we should do about it. I hope you have enjoyed the mini-series. I have learned a lot and continue to gain more insights. I will be temporarily suspending my thoughts on it for awhile. The reasons are many but the main reason is that there is a lot more on which I need to read and reflect.

Here are some issues I want to pursue:

  • Monastic Christianity in the 21st century.
  • The first 300 years of Church History in order to establish Church worship and praxis in that time.
  • The relationship between Christianity and Paganism and the battles they have had with each other.
  • More familarity with the Emergent Church mentality both for and against
  • The Secular/Sacred Divide
  • The role of and gifting of Preaching and Pastoring in the Emergent Models
  • Etc etc etc
What I want to leave this talk with is that no matter what form of church we prefer, may we all within the body of Christ allow freedom to those who differ from us. May they know we are his disciples by the love we have for each other.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Dualism, Holism, and Secularism

Just finished up listening to Mike Frost talks. Overall, not bad. I was a little disappointed because most of what he said was nothing new. I guess the writer of Ecclesiastes did know what he was talking about after all(hehe).

The only thing that really got me perturbed was in his first talk. He mentioned that Christianity has become dualistic (i.e. it has separated secular life from sacred life). He passionately asserts that this separation comes from Greek influence on Christianity and that this is not what was ever intended. From what I understand his co-author goes into more detail about the holistic approach to life that Christianity inherited from Judaism. While I agree wholeheartedly that the Jewish worldview had a more holistic (the sacred and secular are united rather than separated) understanding of the world, I wonder how the whole tribe-of-Levi thing is dealt with as well as the choirs of David.

Is there a divide between the profane (the common) and the sacred?

Parenthesis:I made this statement in seminary that the reason many people leave there confused (besides the fact that some had little foundation going in and really didn't know what they believed) was that the sacred was handled so much that it became profane. -End of parenthetical rabbit trails.

For argument sake, let's assume MF is right. Jesus meant for there to be no divide between the sacred and secular. What do you do when secularism becomes the dominant religion of a society?

IF we kept the "dualism" of Christianity, would that help or hurt our cause? I am almost willing to say hurt in a bad way. I am hesitate though. The thing that holds me back is can or would people search for the sacred if it were separated in a secular context? Experience answers "no."

So, I continue to mull...