Fear Of Whales

Archive for July, 2012

Luddites for Jesus

without comments

Have you heard about the recent study about how people are increasingly disconnected from each other because of the Facebook and txting? Or how traffic accidents are up because people are Twittering while driving? And attendance at church is down because the kids these days can’t tear themselves away from Worlds or Warcraft.

Our lives today are filled with noise, we are constantly stimulated with our phones and out computers and our GPS devices, we are becoming disconnected from the spiritual world and from one another because when we are always tied in to the digital world we lose the ability to be fully present.

We need to find ways to “unplug” from out electronic idols. And escape from our digital addictions so that we can reconnect with God in nature.Unplug

Because that’s where God is, right?

In nature?

God’s not on the internet.

I’m not going to deny that there are people who have legitimate problems with technology replacing social interaction, or who worship their iPhones, or who have legitimate addictions to computer gaming. But its my opinion that fro the most part, those people would be screwed up anyway. It’s not technology’s fault.

I also won’t deny that it would be deeply transformative to people to live without technology for a while but argue that many of the more escapist and distracting technologies are actually older. Clocks for instance only became so prominent and accurate as they are now because of the Railroad industry in the US. They are not inherent to the spirituality of the ancient near east. Date books are not new, but neither are they inherent. And escapist fantasy stories predate WoW by eons.

If you are having difficulty connecting with Jesus. It’s because you are sinful fallen and broken, not because you have a smartphone. And the missional call of God is not to run away from it’s secularness but to redeem even this new technological space,

Genesis 28:16

Written by admin

July 18th, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Silver and Samaritans Pt 3

without comments

2_2_PeterHealingCrippleIn Part 1 I talked about The healing of the beggar in Acts 3 and the three parts to peters approach, Focusing on the first part: Eye contact. Paying attention.

In Part 2 I identified the second part, as a willingness to give away everything rather than what it seems at first: an excuse to give away nothing. Peter said “Silver and Gold have I none, but what I have I give unto you”. You on the other hand (if we are honest) would have to say “Silver and Gold I have, but I have nothing to give you”

And now here’s part 3: The part we usually want to talk about. Let’s read the passage one more time for context:

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I have no silver nor gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.  All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Part 3 is to miraculously hear them.

Then bring everyone to Jesus when they see the miracle. (that happens in the next Chapter)

Am I the only one who is not totally cool with this?6a00d8341bffd953ef01157089ad79970b-800wi

”And your Bible study application for this week is, go do a miracle, let’s close in prayer”

I mean, I know there are other faith traditions that place higher emphasis on the work of the holy spirit but this just seems a little over the top to me. This does not describe my daily life of ministry at all!

I’ve talked to people who have had more of these experiences than I. But I can’t help but wonder about coincidence and verifiability. Why has nobody gotten real good video of this stuff? Cameras are everywhere now. Those people we have caught on tape like Popoff and Hinn, have been shown to be frauds when under scrutiny.

Maybe my skepticism is faithlessness, and that’s why god hasn’t blessed me with the gift. But I have another theory.

I think my faithlessness is faithlessness, and so is everybody else’s

I think there is an order of magnitude of exponential growth between the amount of spiritual maturity it takes to say to a beggar “look at me” and the amount it takes to say “what I have I give to you” let’s say it’s 100x. I suspect that’s the same order of magnitude between the ability to say “what I have I give to you” and “stand up and walk” 100x100x.

And that’s the reason we don’t see miracles every day, and what we do see are the non-verifiable kind such as “god gave me hope” or “God hastened my recovery, it took less time than it would have” we just don’t have the kind of faith Peter had. None of us. Some of us will respond by saying the miracles are happening “over there somewhere” (perhaps in Africa) others will try to say miracles have ceased, or that the passage means something other than what it does. Perhaps Peter isn’t an example to follow at all and this is a unique miracle for a unique moment in history.

All of that might be true, but you know me, I have to chime in with the minority report. Maybe it means exactly what it looks like, and we are just not awesome enough to handle it.

Lord, make me awesome enough to handle it.

Written by admin

July 14th, 2012 at 6:50 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Silver and Samaritans Pt 2

without comments

I want to continue a discussion I started about Acts chapter 3. Particularly I began to highlight 3 unusual things about Peter’s response to the beggar he meets. Previously I highlighted the simple fact that Peter looked at him. I don’t look at beggars, do you? Peter paid the beggar more attention than the beggar paid him.

In this second post I want to highlight the famous line Peter used “Silver and Gold have I none, but what I have I give unto you”

Without getting distracted into the awesomeness that is Peter and what happened after, Let’s look at that… little… piece:

Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I have no silver nor gold, but what I have I give you;

At first blush that sounds something all of us would say.

”Spare any change?”

”No I’m sorry, I haven’t got any”

The only difference between us and Peter (aside from the Eye Contact thing) is that he wasn’t lying. He actually didn’t have any money. no silver, no gold no coins, no cash, no atm card. We learn in Chapter 4:34-35 that the reason he didn’t have anything, was that he had already given everything away to other people who are in need.

I spoke previously about the challenge to simply look beggars in the eye. Can you imagine the challenge of giving beggars everything you have. Straight to them, not through some ministry. you ask “how much do you need” and then you empty your bank account until there is nothing left. What a radical and incredible statement to make about the Kingdom of God if that actually worked for both of you?

I’ve been living out the first challenge since it came to my attention last year at this time and it had been a tremendous blessing. The truth is that I’m just too selfish to take on this challenge just yet. But I am putting this blog up as an exercise in the biblical practice of admitting that.

Lord God, my trust in you is incomplete, imperfect broken and sinful. I see these words and I know very well what they mean. I see the same call in the story of the Rich Young Ruler, The Widow’s Might, and Ananias and Sapharia. Even in the Feeding of the 5000 you include a report of a child that shared all he had and fed a multitude. Yet I grasp. I cling to what is mine because I still think I know better despite knowing I don’t. I am broken. Forgive me. And Forgive the many ways I twist the scriptures in my sin to make them mean something else with which I am more comfortable. Amen

Written by admin

July 12th, 2012 at 6:36 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Silver and Samaritans Pt 1

without comments

I published an article last week that was based upon the good Samaritan parable that Jesus told.

I did the best I could to stay faithful to the story. Without adding any elements to the story simply for dramatic effect. I just replaced all of the 1st century references in the story with 21st century ones. I did my best to pick fair cultural equivalents to the road, the Levite, and the Samaritan. And it did it back in college, so there’s that.

There is another story I want to talk about that’s along the same lines, and I want to do this one with some more rigid theological backing. It’s in Acts 3

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I have no silver nor gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.  All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Unlike the Good Samaritan this is a historical story. We believe this actually happened, in the early church, with the new leader Peter. Look at how he interacts with poor people. There’s a very similar principle at work here that Peter picked up from listening to Jesus for a couple years. It delves into what we do with people who need help.

Notice a couple things:

1. “Peter looked intently at him”

2. “Silver and gold have I none”

3. “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazereth, stand up”

It seems like while trying to chug this spiritual Milkshake we get caught up in the chunky pieces of number 3 and start to ask some really complicated and controversial questions about miracles and healing. Which we ultimately decide we don’t know the answer to, and so we move on. But in doing so, we miss some of the more melty digestible truth of Number 1 and the creamy sweetness of 2 which we could really learn from if we tried to.

Let’s focus on 1 to start with, What if this story ended right there? What if it only said:

And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ And he fixed his attention on them.

How much better is that, than what you and I do every day when we see a beggar? No miraculous healing, no exchange on money, Just the attention. How few of us are willing to offer even that much? Or do we avert our eyes and hope that if we just ignore them they will go away?

An acquaintance of mine wrote this article about that very thing. Let’s start there.

Or here’s a version with Jesus doing it:

a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.’ Then he shouted, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet; but he shouted even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stood still and ordered the man to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’

What if that was all I did. “Oh hi, what did you want?” I can do that much!

I confess that I have not taken the time of day to interact with people who I know desperately need interaction. But who I suspect want something from me that I’m not willing or not able to give. I want to avoid akwardness more than I want to pursue Christ, and I want to change that about myself. Right here before God and the internet I choose to commit to being a good enough Samaritan to look, at the very least. To look intently at beggars in my life. Literal historical human beggars as well as metaphorical ones and say, if nothing else “No I won’t give you any money, sorry”

We’ll cover 2 in the next post

Written by admin

July 10th, 2012 at 6:17 am

Posted in Uncategorized

The Good Las Vegan

with one comment

Late one Sunday afternoon a young woman was traveling from Los Angeles to Las Vegas for the holiday weekend.  As she traveled she noticed her engine light was on and stopped in the city of Baker to have it checked. The mechanic, seeing an opportunity to make a profit, concocted a story about a problem with the young woman’s piston regulator. He sold her a $50 bottle of oil and a new filter and sent her on her way.  Although he did nothing to her engine, he mentioned to her that the light would turn itself off in the miles to come as the oil passed through the car’s system. Before long the oil warning light appeared and the temperature gauge rose; and the young woman’s car then overheated. Power steering malfunctioned as smoke began to creep from the engine and in an attempt to quickly pull her car over to the shoulder; she ran it into a ditch. Her car came to a stop just below a road sign that read “Jean, Nevada, 50 miles.” Below the road marker was a handmade sign that had “Last chance for gas!” handwritten in red paint.

The woman was not badly injured, but had managed to twist her ankle quite severely. She knew that walking the great distance to Jean would be impossible. Her cell phone was on its last bar of battery life and showing no sign of reception. Time passed slowly and she found herself very hungry. Her phone eventually beeped its last and turned itself off, and she resigned herself to misery, sobbing against her steering wheel, with smoke still pouring from the hood of her car.

It happened that the youth pastor from that woman’s church was on the 15 freeway at the same time – he was carrying the high school group to Lake Mead for a water-ski trip. When he saw the young woman’s car he shifted to the left lane and sped past her, as he was already behind schedule.

As it got later into the evening, the young woman still hadn’t eaten and was beginning to feel weak. Soon a missionary on furlough that was traveling that way spotted her and seeing her distress he thought about helping her. Before pulling over he decided that being seen alone on a dark roadside with a woman might compromise his moral integrity and passed her by, murmuring a prayer as he passed.

Late that night a male exotic dancer, still covered in sequins from his late night shift at a men’s cabaret saw the woman’s car. He was traveling in the opposite direction of the woman after his long shift. He swerved his car around and parked behind her on her side of the road.

He got out of his car and walked to where the young woman was. And when he saw her, he took pity on her. “Hey shuga” he said “Ya okay?”. He used his first aid kit to bandage her wounds and treat her pain. Then he helped the young lady into his car, took her to his room at The Mirage where he took care of her. The next day he gave a generous tip to the concierge. “Look after her,” he said, “Whatever she needs goes right on my tab and I’ll cova whateva’ extra that comes to.”

Which of these three do you think was a Christian to the young woman who fell victim to the dishonest business practices?”

Written by admin

July 4th, 2012 at 5:29 am

Posted in Uncategorized