Monday, August 15, 2016

I’M STILL STANDING


Don't you know I'm still standing longer than I ever did
Looking like a true survivor, crying like a little kid
I'm still standing after all this time
Mouthing the lyrics of the songs without praise on my mind
I'm still standing yeah yeah yeah
I'm still standing yeah yeah yeah



With apologies to Elton John, "I'm Still Standing.”

If you don’t immediately recognize my point, let me explain. For the past two decades evangelical churches have been extending the length of the praise song packages within the Sunday worship service format. It began with three songs in 10 minutes, then four songs in fifteen, then twenty minutes and it can be thirty minutes in duration. And some music leadership somewhere decided it would be true to biblical form if we stood for the entire time, so we do, weekly, weakly. Granted if the lyrics contain a 'rise up’ or a 'stand up’ motif, then act the biped. God created us with ’sitter-downers’ too.  Just saying, the LORD is okay with us sitting for some of these songs. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

FREE BOOK:HEARING GOD IN CONVERSATION BY SAMUEL C. WILLIAMSON

FREE BOOK: If you write blogs on Christian themes, you might like to take up this offer, a free book for a review of the book on your blog. What follows is a copy of the advert.
Request Hearing God in Conversation ebook here - instant download
Request Hearing God in Conversation book here - U.S. residents only, please

Christians are comfortable saying that Christianity is about a relationship with God. Yet many might also say that they sense little meaningful actual connection with God in their own lives. The foundation of good relationship is communication - but conversation with God often seems to go only one way. We may sing of walking and talking with God in the garden, God's voice falling on our ears, but few have heard that beloved voice themselves.
Sam Williamson acknowledges the fundamental human longing to hear God's voice and offers a hopeful supposition: God is always speaking, we've just never been taught how to recognize God's voice. Williamson handles this potentially heady topic with his characteristic straightforwardness and leavening humor. This book deftly bridges the gap between solid biblical spirituality and practical application, addressing how to truly pray without ceasing, how to brainstorm with God, how to navigate our emotions, how to answer God's questions, and how to hear God's voice for others.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

PERCEIVING GOD

Perceiving God
I see a young man standing in the sun at a bus stop. He stands with a backpack slung over one shoulder. He has a pleasant face and he looks purposeful. He is of university age. He is travelling locally so he may attend a technical college. He is living in the moment. His mind may be on what lies ahead in his day, an assignment, a project, a person with whom he will spend some time. I surmise that he is not thinking, "How did I get into this world?" "Why am I here?" Big picture thinking for this fellow as the bus moves toward him, is probably concerned with nothing more extensive than what he will do after graduation? 

Yet, seated in my car, I pass him and my eyes are multi-tasking, observing the road ahead, vehicles attempting to merge, the speed I am travelling, the time on my car clock, and the blue sky that expands forever. I am projecting my thoughts into the frontiers of space and to the metaphysical reaches of origins. I am a man with a faith but fleetingly I seek to consider how a person without faith can imagine the genesis of all things.

I think of the other 7.125 billion humans on this planet, 2.1 billion of whom are overweight like me. Still we expect to live 70 years on average, and that's that. We will be gone. Others will take our place just as they presently are doing at a rate of 1.2% annually, which is why only twenty years ago we were 6.5 billion people. Forty years ago there were only 3.999 billion people on earth, and while we have almost doubled the world population, we still depend completely and solely upon this biosphere and minerals of this sphere. I marvel at my earth home being one of the four terrestrial planets in our Solar System, yet it is the densest planet and the third from the Sun, and earth is the only planet that is known to accommodate life. Mercury, Venus and Mars have not supported life. But why here on this earth and since when were we here, and who or what started this?

This is what my mind is doing as I drive to my gym to keep this body healthy for a few more years.

Monday, July 18, 2016

EVEN SINCERE CHRISTIANS ATTEND CHURCH LESS OFTEN

Even sincere Christians are attending church less often in our North American culture? This is a statement of fact rather than approval.

As we entered church yesterday I said to Christine, "it feels like we've been gone for six months." Really, it's been a few weeks when we have had commitments, preferences and holiday elsewhere. We are not the only absentees. This compelled me to read and to think about why good Christians are attending church less frequently than before. (Here is what I thought.)
Susan Mattinson, 2012-2016. Reproduction permitted with permission of creator

Saturday, June 25, 2016

FREE BOOK: CRAFT BREWED JESUS

Don't take him up on this offer if you don't like questioning things that you have considered fundamental to your faith and practice as a Christian. Michael Camp is offering a pdf version of his book entitled Craft Brewed Jesus, on the condition that you write a review, good or bad, on the Canadian Amazon site for the book, or the U.S. site for the book

The reason I stated the proviso at the beginning is because Camp describes his book this way:  

What if the modern American church has its Christian history wrong? According to ex-evangelical Michael Camp, most American believers fail Christian History 101. Drawing on his own historical research and missionary experience, he discovers that most popular Christian views of the Bible, church, sin, salvation, judgment, the kingdom of God, the "end times" and the afterlife--pretty much all religious sacred cows--don't align with the beliefs of the original Jesus movement. Some of them not even close. Camp's Craft Brewed Jesus paves a fascinating journey of a group of disillusioned evangelicals and Catholics. When they decide to meet regularly over craft beers to study the historic foundations of their faith, their findings both rock their world and resolve ancient mysteries. They examine well-documented narratives of the early Jesus saga, Eastern streams of a lost Christianity, and the roots of our modern religious assumptions, all while striving to steer clear of either a conservative or liberal bias. What they uncover is a vital, refreshing spiritual paradigm no longer at odds with reality. Grab your brew of choice and trace this transformational journey based on a true story that will encourage you in your walk of life and faith.

It's smart to know what people are thinking, and how thinking is shaped, and how certain you are of your own belief points if you can handle the exercise.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

CRAFT BREWED JESUS

Michael Camp is not the first person to make a theological shift as pronounced as his self-described journey has been. It will be interesting to hear what has changed in his mind and in his views. It may shock and worry some of you. It may intrigue others. He says he's a husband, father, author, amateur historian, Rotarian, global development practitioner, marketing director, ex-evangelical, former missionary to Africa, and pub theologian. He has written books, writes a blog, carries on conversations designed to give other theological migrants a means to question their own beliefs, shave off the assumptions and settle upon evidential truths.

His latest book is called Craft Brewed Jesus, in which he describes a captivating excursion of a group of disillusioned evangelicals and Catholics, who decide to meet regularly over craft beers to study the historic foundations of their faith. They learn that their findings rock their world and resolve some ancient mysteries. It's not fiction. What Camp discovers is that in his view, most popular Christian views of the Bible, church, sin, salvation, judgment, the kingdom of God, the “end times,” and the afterlife, all of which are sacred to believers, do not align with the beliefs of the original Jesus Movement. That's the outcome for him at least.


I will spend a bit of time these next days exploring some of his blog writings. I am fascinated that he describes himself as an ex-evangelical for one thing, and that he served as a missionary in Africa for seven years and arrives at this place.

Friday, June 17, 2016

OWNING MORE GUNS IS NOT A DETERRENT

How many good people is it justifiable for automatic weapon owners to kill? Who decides that? A culture that takes violence seriously and takes gun ownership seriously? Is violence serious only when bad people kill good people? How many more good people will have to carry guns in public to generate a serious deterrent? Cannot good people accept the logic of a syllogism that argues that fewer people die when it is harder to lay hands on killing machines? The good guys already own twice as many guns per person as any other nation on earth.