Thursday, March 31, 2005

A Tentative Repentant Spirit

I have to comment on something I saw on TV this weekend that may contradict some of the bitterness and hatred expressed on this board regarding popular evangelical Rick Warren. (To be fare, Rick's had it better on here than most other popular evangelicals.)

Before singing his praises, let's remember what we're dealing with.

KING: How do you like being, by the way -- before we take a break and take calls -- I understand that you're on greeting cards now, quotes from "The Purpose-Driven Life" is in the select group of greetings cared that bookstores are putting it in the front. Are you now a commodity?
WARREN: Well, I hope not. I tell you this. Marketing is when you create a message in order to push a product, but what I'm doing is the exact opposite. I'm just looking for products to share a message, because I believe that the message is life-changing -- that God loves you, he has a plan and purpose for your life, Jesus Christ died for you, there is a reason for the things that happen in your life. And even the bad things, God can bring good out of bad. That's what Easter's all about.

Well....sort of....
anyway, then he started talking crazy talk, but the good kind.

Somebody called in, asking Rick basically how he doesn't get greedy and cocky or something, so he started talking about my favorite subject, money!

"First with the money, we made five decisions. First was, we weren't going to change our lifestyle one bit, no matter how much money came in. So, we still live in the same house. We didn't buy a bigger house. We don't own a guest house. We don't own a yacht. I still drive a 4- year-old Ford. And we're just are not going to let money change your lives, and I'm not going to use it to impress people. The second decision we made was, I stopped taking the salary from my church about three years ago. The third decision is, I added up all that the church had paid me in the past 25 years and I gave it all back. And I did that because I don't want anybody to ever think that I was doing this for money, because I don't. I would have done it for free from the start if I could have. Then we set up, No. 4, we set up three foundations, one of them called Acts of Mercy, which is used to help those who are infected and affected by AIDS globally. And then the fifth is, we actually became reverse tithers, which means that when Kay and I got married, we began to tithe 10 percent of our income to charity, and each year in the last 30 years we've raised it a percentage, and we're not actually reverse tithers, so we give away 90 percent and live on 10 percent.

Hey how about that huh? he's not so bad after all! I mean, who else do we know living on 10percent their income? granted, it's probably still about 100 times what i'm living off of, but that's alright. Then, he started talking like a real christian:

"And I committed to use the rest of my life, my time and my money to help those who are the unfortunate. And I came to the conclusion that there were five what I call global giants. Spiritual emptiness, self-centered leadership, poverty, disease and ignorance or illiteracy. And so we came up with the plan called the PEACE plan, p-e-a-c-e. Plant churches, equip the leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation. And we're right now doing a test pilot of the PEACE plan in 67 countries. We're about a year and a half into it. It's a two-year test plan. We plan to go public with it -- well, now, it's going public on LARRY KING -- but we plan to go public with it in 2006, which is to mobilize hundreds of thousands of small groups that have done the 40 days of purpose in churches and communities and civic groups and corporations -- churches that have done 40 days of purpose in groups to do these five things around the world. And that's really why I was in Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya, to test that. "

Three cheers for Warren! I'm going to start a Purpose Driven Life Group at my church! Alright, I probably won't go that far, but i'm an advocate for this guy now. Now I just need to convince him to have me help start some revolutions and write better theology for him!

War and rascism!

This, from April's Atlantic Monthly:

"Jesus taught Christians to 'love thy neighbor.' According to a recent survey by researchers at Cornell University, however, the more religious the American, the less likely he is to love (or at least trust) his Muslim neighbors. For instance, 42 percent of the highly religious (versus only 15 percent of citizens who are "not very religious") believe that American Muslims should have to register their whereabouts with the government; 34 percent (versus 13 percent) say that U.S. mosques should be monitored; and 40 percent (versus 19 percent) look favorably on government infiltration of Islamic civic and volunteer organizations. The highly religious are also more distrustful the more attention they pay to TV news. While it's true that all the 9/11 terrorists were Muslims, none of them were Americans. So why do the religious mistrust American Muslims? The survey contains a hint: 65 percent of "highly religious" Americans believe that Islam is more likely than other faiths to encourage violence."

It even came with a nifty graph.

This got me thinking of past wars, where the enemy was either fascism (WWII) or communism (Indo-Asian wars like Korea or Vietnam). The U.S. played the religion card so often to justify war (democracy versus the godless communists), that we still can't get away from that mindset in a post-Soviet era. We still seem to view wars along religious lines, whether we admit it or not. This war against terrorism uses the same line of justification -- only instead of it being God vs. the atheists, it's God vs. Allah. For as much as our President publicly calls Islam a peace loving religion, he has to know that he wouldn't have the support he has right now were that the general sentiment of the American public. Were we to really educate ourselves about the differences within the Muslim faith, support for Bush's foreign policy would deteriorate rapidly. This isn't to say that there shouldn't be resistance against terrorists or countries that support terror groups, but that we shouldn't have to paint the enemy as "heathens" in order to shore up public support. The results of such a campaign reach farther than simply our terrorist enemies; they ostracize our Arab American friends as well.

And on a personal level, I believe we can take something else away from this, too. Love Jesus, but aim for moderate to little religiousity.

"Christian Ministry...

...Is the public activity of a baptized follower of Jesus Christ flowing from the Spirit's charism and an individual personality on behalf of a Christian community to proclaim, serve, and realize the kingdom of God." - Thomas O'Meara

"Mininistry can be defined as "meeting needs with love." -Doug Fields

"Worship, edification, and outreach through evangelism and service - these constitute the mandate of the church... Thereby we bring glory to the triune God." -Stanley Grenz

"The service or work of sanctification performed by the preaching of the word and the celebration of the sacraments byt those in Holy Orders or in determined circumstances by laity. The New Testament speaks of a variety of ministries in the Church; Christ himself is the source of ministry in the Church. Bishops, priests, and deacons are ordained ministers in the chruch." -Catechism of the Catholic Church

So yeah, I have a paper due soon in which I need to define ministry, and explain that definition. The first quote is from one of our course textbooks, the second from Purpose Driven Youth Ministry, and the others are familiar. I noticed as I began this assignment that I don't currently have a working definition of ministry, which can cause trouble because I am a minister.

As I look at the above definitions none seem satisfactory (especially the Catechism's). O'Meara and Grenz seem closest to what I inately think is ministry. O'Meara captures an important point in 'flowing from the Spirit's charism' and Grenz does as well when naming ministry a 'mandate'. Yet, I'm not sure how I feel yet that O'Meara qualifies ministry as something done for the Church's sake. Doug I assume is deeper than his definition supposes, but probably dumbed it down for his audience (that includes me). The Catechism is too hierarchical, and treats the majority of the body as an after thought (that includes me again).

It seems the definition should include the following elements (whether named specifically or contained inherently): triune God, community, service, grace, reciprocity, open to all, just, commanded, and empowerment. It also seems appropriate that because 'ministry' as a subject is passionate and graceful the definition should be passionately and gracefully written, not dry, bland or subdued. And that is the real kicker, when defining ministry one is trying to define a word that has been defined so many times before, but in a way that is unique and appropriate for the context (that's kinda an apt metephor for life as well).

Additionally, the definition ought to be appropriate in all situations. Youth ministry, feeding the hungry, sunday school, public service, sunday worship, etc.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Check this out right now!

I came across the best blog ever tonight. It's called FoReVeR iN lOvE, and it belongs to Alan, a 12 year old from Singapore. Here's a sample, but you have to check the whole thing out and encourage him to post more often.

"Shermin, Pamela, Wenyi and Kenneth are my younger bro and sis..... I am the oldest among them..... Kenneth is the second eldest, followed by Pamela, Shermin and Wenyi... Kenneth lyk his 3 meimei before..... We say they are in a 'Brother and Sister relationship'.... Kenneth is a very 'Hua Xin' boy.... U say lah, how can a brother and a sister stead..... People will laugh at them... Among them, i lyk Shermin the most *(lyk means i lyk her as a sister)Not love...... Shermin is a veri sensible person..... She is also a smart girl.... Lastly, i hope the five of us can go into the same Secondary School. "

The Next Big Voice in Christian Music....

For those looking for more evidence that Christians are constantly failing to validate their existence in relationship to the broader culture, I give you Inspiration Sensation. Airing every Saturday night at 8 pm CST on TLN, Inspiration Sensation is the Christian attempt not to fight American Idolatry but rather to create our own Christian idol. Some how we all managed to miss the first season of this program, as their already tracking down the second future voice in Christian music. Claiming that the best singers are church kids, these guys apparently are going to the wrong churches because most of the singing is terrible. Ok, it's not that bad, but the show sucks. Picking out their favorite SCC, Point of Grace, and Geoff Moore songs, the contestants do their best to mimick their secular counterparts on Fox, however doing it as badly as possible. The problem with Inspiration Sensation is that Fox also takes church kids, and usually the good ones.

The host of the program is Dan Willis who, from the best I can tell, founded and pastored a church at the age of 16 that "continues to thrive and reach all nations and generations. With over 29 cultures, their motto is aptly, "Chicago's Bridging the Gap Church"." wow! Of equal concern with good singing is moral living for these kids. One of my favorites, Brandon Holt, "refuses to “sell out” and wants everyone to know by the life he leads that he is a man of Integrity. " Another good contestant is Melissa Santiago who,

"if selected as the 2005 Inspiration Sensation, would express her faith in Jesus Christ by Living louder than she sings. Melissa says, “Faith without works is dead," so she plans to act on her faith and walk by faith daily."

Funny, someone else said that too...

My favorite, however, is Sam Perkins:
"In college Sam states he disconnected from God, everything he swore he wouldn’t do he did. Sam now states, “God grabbed him by the collar and told him he was done”. He got into a drunk driving accident….with himself, that was the wake up call. Sam says, “the best day of his life”. Within one month Sam was looking for opportunities in youth ministry. God called, he listened, Sam says never again will he assume or ignore God. God’s latest call for Sam is music. He is pleased to follow where God leads. His hearts desire is the same as God’s. Sam would like to end his bio with this thought…..”We make our plans, but God directs our steps”. "

While you all scramble to check your local listings, I'm waiting to hear back about my seat request for April 30th show. If i get to go, the scoop will be posted on here, no doubt.

Friday, March 18, 2005

random thoughts

A few quick thoughts that may garner discussion. Bono is out in his World Bank job, being replaced with someone who is much much worse. Wolfowitz is a neo-conservative militant who will probably suggest further invasions and attacks on poor countries. More importantly, it gaurentees that forgiveness of billions of dollars of international debt for poor countries is as far away now as ever, despite the fact that Bono and Wolfowitz did have a sweet meeting.

May 14th issue of Time. The End of Poverty is a book that I assume is what N.T. Wright referenced in that interview that has been referenced on here several times. The May 14th issue of Time had an article on Jeffery Sachs theory about how to end poverty in 20 years. This book is a must read for everyone, and the article is good too. We should be giving this to everyone we know, especially rich christians.

For those of you who haven't heard, Stan Grenz died last weekend. Links to several good tributes are available here. Stan was a theologian of great skill, validating evangelical theology in broader theological circles. I have heard unconfirmed rumors that he was interviewing for the Evangelical Theology position at Harvard, which is saying something. Anyway, Stanley died oung in many ways, and had much more theological work to do.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Africa: Relevant Style...

In a rare twist, Relevant Magazine has posted a decent article that is worth reading. Probably not all that challenging to the people who read this site, but it is something important to talk about it. Some of the comments are interesting as well...

By the way, HC lost in the first round of the NAIA national sucked. The new Gratitude record is great...Driving 20 hours in three days with no facial hair sucks...Having a job that let's you leave for up to a week to watch basketball...totally rules!~

Every once in a while I remember this Sander's stuff and I still get pissed all over again!


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

You have to be kidding

In the category of things that would have been better for the world than the 9/11 hijacking is what amounts to apparently another plan Al-Qaida had cooked up in the works.

Kidnap Russell Crowe.

That's right. I'm awaiting outside confirmation of this from someone other than Russell, specifically from Bin Ladin himself. That aside, Crowe has announced that in 2001, shortly before being named best actor for Gladiator, "Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network wanted to kidnap him as part of a "cultural destabilization plot."

Is American culture really this shallow? Could the same people who rightly identified what symbolized and epitomized US cultural values in the 9/11 plot actually have thought kidnapping Russell Crowe would have destablaized culture? Especially if this plot was cooked up post LA Confidential? I don't want to go so far as to wish that Al-Qaida had kidnapped Russell Crowe, but still, he's terrible. Take a look at this picture before you judge me for hating Russell Crowe.

Unrelated but required is restating an open reward for anyone who can locate actual Josta for me. I have been searching for two years now and have found nothing. If you find it, I will be endentured to you. (This is in reference to a side discussion regarding Josta in the comments of a previous post.)

Monday, March 07, 2005

Bono and The World Bank

In what might be called the dumbest move of the year, it seems as if Bono is actually being considered to run the world bank. Now some may think, "what's the president of the world bank even do?" If you are thinking that, there's a very good explaination of this person's duty over at Slate. Let me assure you, this is not a figure head position, it's actually a job that requires a person who knows what they're doing. I mean seriously, it's not like we're not talking about being the governor of California.

Bono has been quite outspoken in the past five years about the AIDS pandemic in Africa as well as debts of third world countries and has challenged many people of influence to get off their butts and do something about it (see articles on his meetings with BUSH, The Pope, and even all of our favorite CCM Stars. I think that it's interesting that if you're out spoken about an issue for long enough it some how makes you qualified to run major organizations in the world. If there is one thing that is encouraging about this rediculous idea it is the fact that we know for sure that Bono would be giving away money to the places we wish he'd be giving it to, that is until he gets fired or killed.

I guess this does answer the question posed by Dusty in the comments of one of the posts about robots that a group of people (or for that matter one very rich rock star) and some good ideas can make a difference.

Who am I kidding, there's no way this will ever happen. Oh well.

You can read about how much Bono loves Jesus here.

Thursday, March 03, 2005


I'm going to tell you something that I'm kind of ashamed of. Tonight I went to see one of CCM's biggest stars in concert. Steven Curtis Chapman played at the Coliseum with Chris Tomlin and Casting Crowns. The family of one of the students from our youth group put on all the major Christian concerts and every so often they hook us up with some embarrassingly good seats in the awkward front row. I could talk critically about so many different things that happened tonight and thoughts that rush through my head in the midst of a "worship performance" or about how I actually believe that Casting Crowns is doing the music just to get a chance to help youth pastors, but I've decided to talk about something else. Something somewhat hopeful.

If you've ever been to a big CCM concert you've probably heard or seen an emotional appeal for concert goers to participate in sponsoring a child in Africa. I was all ready for another push like that, when Steven Curtis Chapman started to tell us a story about how as he and his wife reached their forties they were looking forward to moving into a life together as a couple again when God started to work on their hearts about children throughout the world who were hurting and alone. On one trip to China he went into an orphanage and encountered a child who was so depressed that the image of the girls face wouldn't leave him. Later that day he was praying about it and felt as if Jesus was saying to him, "you went to an orphanage and you found Me. What are you going to do?" In the past 6 years the Chapman family adopted 3 orphans from China.

Now SCC didn't hesitate to ask for money, but it was interesting because for the first time I heard a Christian artist ask people to partner with him in something that he ACTUALLY did that truly changed the way they lived. SCC has helped create an organization called Shaohannah's Hope (named after their first adopted daughter) that will take the money donated monthly to help people with the financial burdens that often stand in the way of people who would like to adopt.

The kicker was this. After asking for a financial partnership he stood up in front of the audience and said, "Some of you need to think about adopting a child. James 1.27 says that pure religion is looking after orphans and widows, and so many of us have the financial resources to adopt children who need a family to love them." This guy didn't just ask people for $20 a month, he ACTUALLY CHALLENGED 10,000 CHRISTIANS TO DO SOMETHING WITH THEIR LIVES!

Now I'm not sucker enough to believe that we're on the right path, but I believe that SCC might be onto something. What if some people at the concerts actually started to take the idea of adoption seriously? I mean maybe that would be the Great Adventure. (sorry for the lame ending, but I can't get his beautiful brand of Christian pop out of my tortured head)

progress report

I give everyone except me a D- for their contributions to MW in the past 2 months. I give myself a C+. Apparently none of you are doing/reading anything interesting at all.