The Bible v the Koran -The battle of the books
I found this quote at Mary DeMuth's Blog:
"The only way to overcome evil is to let it run itself to a standstill because it does not find the resistance it is looking for. Resistance merely creates further evil and adds fuel to the flame. But when evil meets no opposition and encounters no obstacle but only patient endurance, its sting is drawn, and at last it meets an opponent which is more than its match." The Cost of Discipleship, p. 157-158.
Pray for him in whatever way you find best.
Posted by James B at 9:13 AM
This interview with Seth Godin mentions:
It doesn't matter that there are all these books for sale, because we haven't finished the ones we already bought. The post consumption consumer still wants something. They want attention, they want time; they want the privilege of choosing again. So, creating more noise, adding more clutter isn't solving anybody's problem, and it's not working particularly well. Into this world we threw the web, the most cluttered medium of all time. It's a giant haystack, and your product and your service on your website is a real tiny needle.So I am how does this related to "the church". Are we giving more choices or just fewer answers. How do we give people the choice of choosing God again without all the clutter.
The mistake I think that many people make is that they want that needle to get sharper. That just isn't going to work, because the haystack is too big. Instead what we have to do is understand exactly how noisy it is, it's really noisy; and realize that we are not going to win by yelling louder than everybody else. We have to figure out someway to put the noise to work for us, and to work with our audience, so that they can spread the word instead of us forcing the word out.
So I got this email and bolded the parts I really liked.
It made me think about good old Billy. I really like Bill Hybels much the same as I like Steve WU (willow chicago), and Jackson Crum (Park Community Church). So what is the deal? I think its how their beliefs manifest themselves into an institution and how that works. Maybe I just don't see how Christianity works when you make it a religion or an institution in the way they have manifested it. I believe that these three men are men chasing after God but I still can't get the organizations they run and how they interact with God and the world around them.
So as I continue on my path for reconciliation with "The Church". I ask God to give me grace and help me overcome my judgments. In the end we all care deeply about following God.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Bill Hybels
Date: Nov 21, 2007 10:00 AM
Subject: Happy Thanksgiving (from Bill Hybels)
Dear Enews Friends,
After another three weeks of speaking and mentoring pastors throughout Scandinavia and Europe, I was able to fly to a friend's place in Florida where my family was already gathered. Upon walking through the front door my 14 month old grandchild was running my way, arms extended. Ahhhhhhhh! What a way to start a Thanksgiving holiday!
The older I get the more I treasure family. I know that many of you share that view. Other competing values simply seem to fall by the wayside as the decades unfold. All that really remains is our faith in Christ and the family and friends God graces our lives with.
This Thanksgiving is a poignant one for Shauna and Todd in particular. Shauna's new book "Cold Tangerines" has found an extraordinary response in the first few months after its release. This has opened up opportunities for ministry that she never imagined. Todd has put almost 3000 miles under his keel, as he makes his way toward the Panama Canal on his way to see the world on a forty-two foot sail boat. To have both of them at the table this year will surely generate lots of interesting conversation.
Son-in-law Aaron has been guest worship leading and recording a new worship CD these past few months. Lynne has been teaching in Germany and is preparing to speak at the AIDS Conference at Saddleback Church next week. She will also help host our weekend services on World AIDS Day weekend, December 1-2.
As for me, I am trying to get back on the right time zone and am rejoicing over the reports of God's power that was poured out on our baptism services last weekend. I can't wait to get back to teach at Willow in December.
To say I am a grateful man this Thanksgiving is the understatement of the year. My health is good and I feel the goodness and grace of God everywhere I turn. I do hope you feel the same way this holiday and at some point in the next few days you will rally the family around for a time of heartfelt gratitude to God for His magnanimous spirit toward the likes of you and me.
PS. If any of you would like to follow Todd's sailing progress, his web site is crisismode.org.
I was talking to Brian about a talk he had with Todd who said something to the affect of "If you look at your life now and you can't be happy (or some similar word) then when and what will it take . It will never happen so be happy now."
Taking this to heart and also talking to Mitch last night about the idea of contentment and then reading an article by Timothy Ferris. I have been reminded to be grateful.
So far those of you who read this blog I am thankful as I know who you are and what you have meant in my life.
Posted by James B at 8:42 AM
The last few weeks I have been spending some time with a homeless guy in downtown Chicago. We grab lunch and sometimes I buy him a place to stay for the night. Presently I am working to get him into the Men's Shelter I serve at. Assisting anyone who shares such different paradigms is always a challenge. Pray that God gives me the insight to serve in the manner he sees fitting.
Tim Ferris has a great post on deconstructing a language before you take the time to learn it. You can find it here at: http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2007/11/07/how-to-learn-but-not-master-any-language-in-1-hour-plus-a-favor/
Posted by James B at 9:27 AM
For the first time ever I gave blood. I qualified for the special machine that takes out just red blood cells because I have a ton of iron in my blood (16.1 something or other). So I guess I ended up giving the equivalent red blood cells of like 16 people donating. So I guess I am the man. Can't give blood though for like 4 months though. Also got a cool sticker.
Last night I went to see Rob Bell at the Vic Theatre in Chicago. The line was around the block to the sold out show.
The stage was set up with a rather large alter in the middle. Rob Bell hopped out a few minutes after 8 looking a bit waffy with a shaved head. He started by telling a story of primitive people and how they might have related their internal feelings and external enviroment to a sense of god and then ritual. It was interesting. ]
The things I got out of the night that stuck with me where:
- Maybe Abraham sacrificing his son was about his faith but about God providing (in this case a ram to sacrifice).
- Abraham brought an incredible new religion because it was a god who cared and wasn't always pissed off.
- Jesus was even crazier because he said we don't need this alter. I am the alter and the sacrifice. The sacrifice is complete in me.
- God doesn't want inhuman sacrifice for the sake of just giving more but he wants life to be a celebration of God in everything we do (still working through some of this).
It was great stuff. Hopefully I can get some of his old tours on dvd and It seems that by searching the google I can.
If you haven't read them I would highly recommend:
I meet with my mentor last night. We talked a lot about the book. What it should look like and focus on. How I should be more involved in it's publicity. He put on a compelling talk. I think I might have even been persuaded. Looks like reconciliation with the church will come faster than even I imagined.
Also been reading Matthew 5-8 because it's probably good for me. Mostly read it and go huh.
Posted by James B at 9:39 AM
Today as I was going into Panda Express there was a man holding the door open for everyone and asking if he could get something to eat. I invited him in and got him some food. I convinced him to sit with me and eat. It was a good time of getting to know each other. He told me about Mississippi (where he was from), what he was doing here, and how he was getting by. It was a good story and his accent made it better. We are having lunch again next Tuesday. Hopefully it will be as enjoyable.
Something to think about: I was just going to Panda to get my lunch to go. There was a teleconference I wanted to listen to that might help my new business. It was free so I cost me nothing but I decided to miss it to eat with Ricky. This reminded me of something I have thought a lot about after reading Robert Lupton's book "Theirs is the Kingdom". He talked about God and efficiency. He maybe he should stop and talk to someone in need even he will be late for his big donor meeting. Maybe God isn't about efficiency and doesn't want us to always be "responsible" in the way we classically think. Something to think about.
I had the chance to hear Tony Evans of http://www.tonyevans.org It was interesting. I still get the impression that people think at some point in our life if we sign up with Jesus it becomes rosey. I think there is something to our lives modeled after our suffering and rejected savior. Maybe to much Bonhoeffer.
Posted by James B at 2:35 PM
Had a good time last night. We took a few minutes to have serious talks about serious things. I think I may prefer talking about nothing and having a good laugh. Still having a great time with her though. Even the serious talks are worth it.
A quote I like:
Reality is something you rise above.
Posted by James B at 10:40 PM
Last night we had a lot of new people come and serve at the shelter which is great and important to me. Through these experiences we gain something and hopefully it's not the "I did my service bit for the week/month/year/decade". Hopefully we can see a call to restoring the kingdom of God. Hopefully we can see more of what God has in store for us.
Thanks to everyone who came out. I pray it makes a difference in your perspective.
Also tonight is the benefit dinner for Breakthrough Urban Ministries and they have an fairly conservative speaker coming out tonight. So that should be interesting. Hopefully my roommate won't be weirded out and she will see something in the whole thing that gets her thinking.
Posted by James B at 9:22 AM
Wyatt is a friend from a church I used to go to. You can read his blog at here. If you read through it you will find many posts that I don't agree with and would never have written myself. That is the beauty of conversation though. Be easy on him as he is recently married and now has an infinite amount of stuff to figure out now that he has a wife. :)
Posted by James B at 9:18 AM
“Anything worth anything is a beast,” he says. “The thing I don’t understand is looking at this as a failure. It’s talked about like it failed, I guess because it wasn’t ﬂawless. Me, I embrace the messiness of life. I ﬁnd it so beautiful, actually.” - Brad Pitt
Who would have thought.
So our house church/missional community/emergent church/new monastic/cell group/sect just finished sharing our stories over the last four weeks. It was good to hear where everyone came from. It was good to here were people wanted to be going. It was good and bad that no one knows where this is going.
Last week we discussed the idea of community and doing life together. We talked about what we thought it was, what was the point of doing it, and then if X was the point did we still want to do it.
This week we are discussing the book of common prayer and what it has to say for this week. Hopefully we will also talk about what people want to do in regards to service and World Relief.
One Perception I Wish The Church Was Known For:
1. Radical love. Silly love. Love that defies rational explanation. Love that can only be explained by people following in the footsteps of one who was willing to lose his life that all may gain theirs. This love should permeate every decision we make, from the way we treat our neighbor to way we enact foreign policy.
Posted by James B at 1:27 PM
This weekend TP and I went to a vietnamese restaurant to discuss this confusing book.
We didn't talk much about the book but more about what the whole bible was about. Not an easy subject even though I think we got somewhere.
TP made the point that the last few sentences of the EC book shouldn't detract from the rest of the book. I may agree. Had no idea what the rest of the book meant though.
Posted by James B at 4:33 PM
Timothy Ferriss has a good post on how we use words and how we use them in a unbeneficial ways.
The 10 Most Common Words You Should Stop Using Now
Here is the part I really like:
Think and speak with precision. Less is often more. Here are 10 common words I have observed to cause stress, depression, and conflict due to their vagueness. All of them are overused to the point of being meaningless. The solution? Stop using them and find more descriptive alternatives. I recommend focusing on removing one or two each week, even if just as an exercise.
In no particular order…
Do you love some of these? Most of us do. But… try and define them without using an equally vague synonym or a tautology.
But why do we love them?
Because they remove the heavy lifting of real thinking. These socially-accepted throwaway terms are crutches for unclear thinking, just like “thing”, “stuff”, or “interesting”–enemies of good writers worldwide. But the above 10 are much more dangerous, as they encourage us to compare, judge, or fool ourselves and others.
Posted by James B at 11:07 AM
I have recently embarked on my first Christian Interview. Some of you might wonder what I mean by interview. I guess you might call it dating. I keep clear of these words as these are often loaded with unknown meaning in the Christian world.
I'll write something up about this. Oh and for those who know her and read this (HB) I'd like to say she is a wonderful girl with amazing qualities. So no saying I wasn't a gentleman.
Posted by James B at 5:16 PM
I feel that at times service needs to hurt. We need to be uncomfortable in doing it and it should suck but we strive on.
I've been spending time with someone who I meet at a homeless shelter who is there until he can get a job that will allow him to make enough money to live on his own. He has a tough time with finding great work because he spent most of his life in jail. Now that he has been out for a few years he has yet find steady work even though he gives more of an effort at it then I ever have.
The things about all this is that it isn't service really anymore. We go driving once a week to get him a better at driving to go and get a drivers license in a few weeks and last week we hang out with some people on Sunday. We hung out though because I wanted to just hangout and thought he could show us some of the stuff that the uptown area has in the realm of service and such. He served me.
Actually he teaches me things constantly. I know I teach him things and I'm all in favor of this but its really not this service is horrible thing I bought into. I feel bad at times because we have such a good time. He isn't a charity case and I don't think he ever was. He's my friend.
Now I just need to figure out what this all means when those you are serving are serving you just as much and you are having a good time.
A trip well worth my time. I was able to listen to Michael Porter and Marcus Buckingham. Which was funny because they were two of the least religious sounding folk there and yet I enjoyed them the most.
Marcus gave me the idea to combine strengths and the NLP for the ebook I am writing. So by focusing in on the NLP patterns I think it will be great and much more motivating than the more fix what is wrong NLP.
Michael Porter made me think a lot about whether or not it was important to be effective in service activities you are involved in. So I am still sorting through effectiveness, service, how that is measured and if it should be measured.
I shall now attempt to explain how I and most of Americans fit the above description.
Mark 10: 19-21
19 "You know the commandments, 'DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, Do not defraud, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.'"
20And he said to Him, "Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up."
21Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, "One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."
Let me preface the fact that I never went to seminary and I don't read my bible enough. I am a horrible person to write about this and I am very much the rich young ruler. That said let us move on.
Christ worked with the marginalized. One the few occasions he worked with the rich he mocked them and was sarcastic. When he took them more seriously he asked them to give up their comfort. He asked them to give up their life.
Forgive me father for I have broken your first commandment. I break it daily. I long to live for you but probably would rather do it tomorrow. Break me even though I know not what I ask.
Posted by James B at 3:30 PM
12So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;Mathew Henry says about Phillipians 2:12:
It is not for us to judge other people; we have enough to do to look to ourselves; and, though we must promote the common salvation ( Jude 3) as much as we can, yet we must upon no account neglect our own.I have decided to end my ties with the institutional church. I still have responsibilities for one or two small things but these soon will be delegated to others and I will be a full time UNvolunteer.
Posted by James B at 2:41 PM
I know I promised a review for Dan Kimball's book and I will get to that soon. I am almost finished with Sex God by Rob Bell and want to write one up for that. I am getting an advance copy of Brian McLaren's Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope. I will write up that review as soon as I get it and it's read.
Posted by James B at 5:17 PM
Hannah called me crying because she sat today with a homeless guy and listened to his story. Later tonight she is going to a very rich mentor of heres for dinner and she is struggling with the opulence, disparity and distance between the two situations.
Few people get choked up this way and I feel for her because I have an idea of how she feels. I know she is torn up. I promised to feed him tonight. I know it isn't enough. We have talked about how we can't invite people back because tomo would never go for it.
Last night we a pact to move to a place we could really help the community and have a group of roommates who would welcome those less off.
I already mentioned I had went to Ravinia to watch the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Friday. It was great and i got to spend the whole night talking with God friends about their ideas about following Christ.
Saturday was great as we kicked off our "Band of Brothers" meeting as it has been called. This week it was Dan and I with Todd joining next Saturday. We had a great talk about Dan's experience in a weekly guy meeting and what he was hoping to get out of it. More updates to come on that and what that will look like. Later that day I bought a giant piece of art from Dan's wife, Erin. I will put a picture up soon.
Saturday night with the 20 something was great. Venetian night and the boats is kinda not worth it. i was told that these are the best fireworks Chicago has all year and I think that is right. They were amazing.
Sunday brought my friends Todd and Erin Paul from the Emergent Church conference to Willow Chicago. To summarize their thoughts on the experience I quote Paul, "Erin I think I am going to convert. I'm converting to Mega-churchism. I mean after all the stuff we have done because we felt it's what Christ wants I want to convert to Mega-churchism. It seems so easy and we end up in the same place." I couldn't help but laugh and fell the sick because it was true. He also mentioned how he is used to starting with community and working from there to fix a problem instead of the self reflection first idea we usually propagate. It was definitely worth thinking about.
We also got to meet John, Lori and their baby. John is finishing up his residency in eye surgery and wants to be a missionary doctor. I was so excited to here this. I hope to connect him with Fran, New Life for Haiti.
So Sunday was great as we also got our three married couple friends together. It turns out I am good at connecting people. Hopefully soon I can learn to connect them for something world changing and not just a fireworks display.
Posted by James B at 4:20 PM
4th Thursday meant it was time for the homeless shelter. This is always a blessed time in my week as I get to see more of the guys who show up at Willow Chicago. It has been great to take Mitch driving so he can get a license. It seems that it will open him up to a whole new set of jobs that hopefully can get him a steady income.
So the shelter was great but the best part was that we to spend more time speaking with Todd and his wife (who's name I am really bad at remembering). Todd and his wife used to belong in a community in Knoxville that had a lot of dinners and served a lot. Sounded great to Hannah and I.
They talked alot about how things begin to get flawed when you institutionalize Christianity. They weren't trying to say that it was evil or that people needed to do it differently. They just conveyed that real Christian community meant spend time with people and serving. Hannah and I were excited and felt they had alot to teach us.
We will be spending some time with them in the next few weeks and getting to know them more. I also think they will like Dan and Erin who are also two friends of ours.
In this article their is a point made that presidential candidate John Edwards is not going to tow the company line. He is going to brave criticism and actually talk about the real issues. So what? Listen I have a deep place in my heart for those left out in this world. I think it was given to me by Christ and that is was something that Christ felt also. But I spend plenty of time as many of us do and as John Edwards is doing now talking about the poor and yet doing not much in action. We all talk a big talk except some of us do nothing.
So my real question is: Will you really do anything about it John Edwards? Do you really care so much that if you win the election you are going to change the face of poverty in America and in this world? We all talk but very few us are willing to move to make a chance. Let today be the day the change something small. John I hope that today and tomorrow is the day that you change something small and maybe work your way up to something big.
I haven't had a chance to read his book about ending poverty. If any one has let's hear the comments. I'd love to hear more about it.
Tuesday saw the launch of the Roscoe Missional Community. This is our pilot of Willow Barrington's Axis Missional Community except we are in the city.
We had around 10 people over to share food and spend some time together. It went great. People broke off into group and got to know each other. In an ever better way people get to meet people who live nearby them they may have never meet. People still exploring their faith (aren't we all though) got to speak with people who they really enjoyed and got to see a positive and supportive body of Christ.
It was great besides the talk of the importance of a man "really sacrificing" to save for an expensive engagement ring. I still think that we are called to live with as little as possible. I just can't imagine buying my fiancé an engagement ring that could build a school in one of the countries I one day hope to spend time in. How can you look into the eyes of a malnourished child begging for affection and a school day instead of a work day knowing that a good portion of the money he needs for food and education in the next ten years is sitting on your finger. Three months salary? If we can translate that into the giving we give to others then maybe we can see the end of "stupid povery".
I'll soon finish my book review of They Like Jesus but Not the Church: Insights from Emerging Generations.
Today I watched the Rob Bell Nooma Noise 005 video. It was very good and really spoke to the fact that I take no time for quit at all. Always have some noise going on. Then I wonder why God doesn't speak to me like he does "all those other people" who I seem to think he speaks so clearly to. Maybe I think about God alot but I rarely show the respect by giving him the moment to speak.
God I want you to know that I am going to give you that time. I'm going to do it now. As in right now.
So I am closing in on the end of They Like Jesus but Not the Church: Insights from Emerging Generations by Dan Kimball. It's been a good book and I think it starts a great discussion on how to really be Christ in today's world. That maybe we are to do Matthew 28 but not by force but by being the end of Matthew 25.