Saturday, January 21, 2012

Romans 5

As I was reading Romans 5 today, I was struck that there actually DOES seem to be a formulaic aspect to our walk with God - it just isn't the formula I grew up with. Also, I was struck by the strange things we are supposed to rejoice about -- and i t made me wonder anew if God and I are on the same page, and I am indeed where I need to be!

Hope you have had a GREAT week, and I look forward to seeing you in the morning!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Retreat Recap

So, another retreat has gone by! It was a wonderful weekend and I was thankful to share it with all of you! We missed having some of you, but we also welcomed folks who had never been to a retreat before. The singing and music were great, the food and conversation engaging and the times of study and sharing deep and rich.

I got a lot of flack from some of you from Sunday morning, which going in, I knew would not be a tasty cup of tea for some of you. But it is good for us feelers to be reminded that there ARE thinkers among us! They might even ENJOY such rituals (horrors)! I believe it is also very good for us to stretch different muscles than the ones we use each and every week (this is a basic building block of any personal training regimen). And finally, our greatest strength can also be our weakness. Our informality, which is what draws most people to us, when taken too far leads any (and I do mean ANY) pause or moment of silence to be a performance platform for all those comedians among us (and we have MANY).

I love it when the Words of the Gospel come in and we stand to recognize the power and authority of the words of Christ. I love the congregation being deeply involved in the sacrament of baptism. And while I am not suggesting in any way we adopt High Mass rituals and customs, I am glad we had the opportunity to experience something very different than our weekly norm together!

All that being said, Natalie typed up our memories from the first couple of years of House Church, and I wanted to share them with you (especially if you didn't get a chance to be present on the retreat)!

Favorite Memories of House Church (January 2012 Retreat)

The most meaningful memory I’ve had at House Church is the constant sense that God has a purpose in bringing this unique group of people together. My observations of our gatherings always bring a genuine joy to my life and cause me to question the priorities I set for myself. It has shown me that going out of your comfort zone can bring you to new comforts you might not have experienced otherwise. Considering the majority of the group is older than myself, I have begun to learn to listen more actively instead of being lost in my own head, because there is a lot of wisdom spoken week after week.

I don’t think I could come up with just one. Every Sunday I look around and feel so richly blessed by my H.C. family. I tell people it’s like Christmas with the family every week—without the baggage. Y’all are my family in every sense of the word. I enjoy hearing everyone’s point of view. I love when Donna and Betty bless us with their vast wisdom; Earl and Corwin’s take on things; Amy’s (both of them) gentle, thoughtful words; Ryan’s relentless prodding. Great music, beautiful singing, heartfelt prayers.

I remember a Sunday that I stayed late and we played cards. It was a great memory because it felt like family. Going through a tough time was really eased with some cards and conversation.

My favorite memories are all the little things over time. Every cup of tea Amy and Cyndi have offered me when I’m sad. Every time Ryan has made me laugh so hard I stopped breathing. Every hug from good friends. Every prayer received when it was hard for me to ask for it. Every delicious meal shared. Every encouraging word from DeeDee and so ma ny others. I love you all!!

I remember the time when the kids came from Arkansas and they said we have “real old people”!

I remember the first Sunday we met there were so many mixed emotions. One of my favorite memories is some of us cleaning up after lunch and breaking out in spontaneous singing. We started singing “Blessed Be Your Name” and I have never sung those words and meant them more.

My favorite memory of House Church was that first time Bill and Donna were there—about several months after we started. I just remember feeling such a relief that they had felt something I had felt and wanted to be somewhere else too! It was just confirmation that we weren’t just a bunch of rebels.

I will never forget Ryan using a “big” word and Donna saying, “What the hell does that mean?” I knew it was my kind of church.

Baby singing, visiting teens—“real” old people, “what the H does that mean?”, the common meal, getting to know our younger people one on one.

Common meal (especially banana pudding) [insert drawing here]

The first time I got to go to Moni’s with the Gibbons, Needels, and Fosters was magical. Saul is the man.

The Axis I first tasted Ryan’s sangria...mmm....

My first time at House Church, January 29, 2011. I looked around—saw and heard everyone singing in beautiful harmony praising God with voice, djembe, guitar, and mandolin. Then the active Bible discussion that followed where thoughts were shared and feelings discussed…it was beautiful and I knew I’d found my place home.

Getting to really know people I ordinarily wouldn’t have gotten to know: DeeDee, Amy Foster, Bill & Donna. Feeling loved and accepted and truly concerned for.

First visit to House Church and I felt like I was at home with my family.

The first Sunday Annie came to House Church was a pretty good sign for me in knowing what kind of woman she really is. The second Sunday she was in House Church, however, I wasn’t even there, and the way she described how included she felt, that was a particularly happy feeling for me.

The Sunday when my grandparents came to H.C. Ryan and Daniel led worship, my grandpa whistled harmony and my family enjoyed worshipping in the presence of the Lord with all of you. Then we took up a collection for Rhonda which was enough money to get her back on her feet, give her food, gas, money to pay bills (she then industriously found a job soon after that!). It was just a really beautiful day from morning to night—full of heart, and I remember driving back home that night and crying tears of joy because I hadn’t had a day like that in a long time.

When Corwin was going through his divorce and he shared with the group and everyone wept with him and shared his grief and heartache.

My favorite memory is a collection of memories based around one event that I feel really defined the year for me. The amount of support I have received in physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional capacities has been overwhelming. For me this year, you have been my family—in more ways than the usual “church family” has meant to me in any previous body of believers. I specifically remember being surrounded by all of you with hands, hugs, and words of encouragement. It felt like being placed in another world for a few minutes. I believe this group of Jesus followers has really carried me through the year 2011. I could say more…

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Eucatastrophe Retreat

Eucatastrophe is a term coined by J.R.R. Tolkien which refers to the sudden turn of events at the end of a story which ensure that the protagonist does not meet some terrible, impending, and very plausible doom. He formed the word by affixing the Greek prefix eu, meaning good, to catastrophe, the word traditionally used in classically-inspired literary criticism to refer to the "unraveling" or conclusion of a drama's plot.

For the past nearly three years we have been sharing, serving and worshipping together...and it is time to CELEBRATE! I had hoped to have a larger number of our folks on this retreat...because I think it is important to celebrate what God has done, is doing and will CONTINUE to do in the future.

Friday night is going to be focused on dinner and sharing. Saturday we will be doing a variety of activities, and I am not completely sure what order they will take place in. For those of you who have been berating me for details, you may be disappointed to learn I have not even created a schedule for this gathering. I have a loose idea in my head, and the materials to cover, but that is all. Some of you will be very excited about this, because schedule's mean very little to you, and some of you are hiving up thinking about not having a printed schedule. Whichever camp you fall into, (the Chronos group or Kairos group) I trust that this weekend will remind you of how amazing God truly is!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

So, Where Are We?

I have spent these last weeks looking at some difficult passages of scripture. Let me summarize some thoughts after looking at these passages.

* Genesis 4 -- The story of Cain & Abel. The Hebrew word Timshel. Meaning MAYBE. It MAY BE that you will make a good choice, Cain, but it MAY NOT. And remember, sin is crouching at your door.
* Philippians 1/2 -- You should have the SAME mind as Christ Jesus -- who EMPTIED Himself and became obedient, even to death ON A CROSS. Oh, and work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
* Ephesians 2 -- Salvation is GRACE. PERIOD. YOU DID NOT EARN THIS. You were ALL dead in your sins when Christ saved you. Yet you also are God's POIEMA, or masterpiece of craftsmanship.
* I Corinthians 5/6 -- So, there is this guy. Part of your community. Doing bad stuff. Seriously bad stuff. You have allowed him to continue in that. Even encouraged it, because we are all 'free'. NO. Drive him out. Root and branch. I MEAN IT. GONE. And about that whole taking other believers to court thing? NO. If you do, you have already lost. WHY NOT SUFFER WRONG? WHY NOT RATHER BE DEFRAUDED?
* II Timothy 4 -- Do what I have taught you. Forget that you are young, because when folks are not doing what God wants them to do (and he provides an EXHAUSTIVE list), then I want you to REPROVE...REBUKE and EXHORT them. But do so with complete patience. Now that is a new twist on Church leadership. Totalitarian authority combined with TOTAL patience. Hmmm....
* Galatians 5/6 -- So don't allow FORMS of religion, such as CIRCUMCISION, to become more important than GOD. DON'T do these things, such as...anger, rivalry, dissension, envy, drunkenness. But RATHER be FILLED with the Spirit and its fruit...peace, joy, love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness. For when we make the FORM more important than the FUNCTION, we REMOVE THE OFFENSE OF THE CROSS.
* Finally, Acts 15 -- where there is a problem about believers being circumcised. And as hard as it is for us to realize today, the word of the Apostle Paul could not carry the day. So Paul and Barnabas are sent to Jerusalem, where they lay their case before Peter and the other Disciples. At the end of an extended period of debate, James, whichever James this is, stands up and renders his 'judgment'. No sexual immorality, no blood, no food sacrificed to idols. But what about the rest of the Torah? NO COMMENT. And this seemed good to everyone, so they sent letters to the Churches...WHAT? Where are the rest of the laws and commands? Why does James get to render judgment? Why aren't Peter or Paul or even Barnabas elected to this job?

So, as we segue back into Romans, it is with this backdrop:
1. There clearly are things we should do and some we shouldn't. (Galatians 5 & I Cor. 5)
2. While this is set against a backdrop of grace (Ephesians 2) and a sense of humility modeled upon Christ (Philippians 2) -- there is still a strong sense that we should step in when folks are out of line (I Corinthians 5 & II Timothy 4).
3. And why do you think you should be relieved from suffering? Why would you not think it better to suffer for Christ? (I Corinthians 6)
4. Because at the end of the day, man apparently has a consistent problem with holding up a particular pattern of worship as being more important than the worship itself. Whether that problem stems from circumcision (Acts 15 & Galatians 5) or clapping or instrumental music, the tide of the Church seems to constantly deposit us on this same beach. And how do we choose who gets to make the final choice, or be the one who rebukes us back on the right path? How do we choose between Peter, Paul and James? Because TIMSHEL is still in place, and it MAY BE that we make the right choice, but even if we don't, sin is still crouching at our door. So, Goebel Music, where is the PATTERN for us to behold?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Eucatastrophe

Eucatastrophe is a term coined by JRR Tolkien which refers to the sudden turn of events at the end of a story which result in the lead character's well-being. He formed the word by affixing the Greek prefix eu, meaning good, to catastrophe, the word traditionally used in classically-inspired literary criticism to refer to the "unraveling" or conclusion of a drama's plot. It is a surprise, and a joyous surprise at that. I can think of no word that better sums up my experience with this House Church. Born from the most difficult period of my life, I had no idea what to expect. Yet when Greg, Cyndi, Anne and I decided to go be with Crystal Jones at the passing of her father, Natalie, DeeDee, Amy Foster and Bill / Donna all pitched in to help get the kids to / from school. This retreat will focus on the joy that can be found in community, as we celebrate today and look to the future. I hope that everyone will come and join us for a wonderful weekend! Click the graphic to enlarge the poster and print it if you didn't get one of the copies on card stock!

Sunday Morning

What is the role of pastor / teacher? Elder? Mature Christians within the body? Further, how do we handle it when someone does something that clearly is against what God wants for our lives? When that thing is called sin? How can we call one another into accountability without wagging a finger of judgment? How can we live humbly within our community so that if someone does question us we will respond in a way that God would approve of? We will look at II Timothy 4 and Paul's comments to the young preacher Timothy, his 'son in the faith'.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Randy Harris Audio

This year at the ACU Summit (that artist formerly known as the Lectureship), Jonathan, Amanda and I took in a most amazing three day class taught by one of the foremost thinkers and orators of our movement, Dr. Randy Harris. Dr. Harris is decidedly monk-like, perpetually single and dresses in black (head-to-toe) every day. But the monastic lifestyle which he pursues each Summer seems to give him abundant time to think critically and hopefully about the kingdom of God. The class was entitled Cruciformity, and took place in three parts. The first two days were very good, leading to the crowning jewel, which took place on Wednesday! Here they are for your edification...they will be available soon as a free download on Itunes...

Click the Title to go to the audio...or right click it to download the audio file...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

All Things Are Lawful...

Well, between Robotics Competition, The PS 150 Benefit Concert I emceed for tonight and the Rangers going to the World Series, it has been quite a day. And we are continuing through a list of scriptures I gave you a couple of weeks ago.

All that being said, however, I did want to briefly comment on the scripture for tomorrow. We will follow up our study of Ephesians 2, and the emphasis Paul places there on the power and necessity of grace by looking at I Corinthians 5/6...where Paul tells the Corinthians most strongly to avoid tempting things, and to realize that we are free, and all things are lawful...but many of them are still not helpful.

How do we balance this sense of gracious living with the reality that God still has expectations for our lives, and he still wants us to avoid living in certain ways? It is almost midnight, so I am not going to try and comment further...but we will pick up there in the AM...see you then!