Environmental Thoughts VI

One or 3…of the key reasons I get concerned about environmental issues…My 3 kids!

Global Warming,
(Taken from page 95 and 96 of Living The Good Life)
Global warming is caused by an increase in greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. The main greenhouse gases are water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, as well as some manufactured gases such as CFC’s and some of their replacements.
Australian households generate almost one fifth of Australia’s greenhouse gases – about 15 tonnes per household per year – throughout everyday activities such as transport, household energy use and the decay of household waste landfills.
…the worlds wild lands are being cleared at a rate of 1.6 acres per second at the same time as were emitting 708 tonnes of CO2, with 2.8 more people added to the world every second (taking into account births and deaths) to help us increase the rate – things cannot go on as they are indefinitely.
IUCN estimate that over 5500 species of animals birds, fish, reptiles and invertebrates are being threatened by extinction, along with 6700 species of plants. And they are dying out at rate between 50-150 species per day.

  • More than 50% of the worlds wetlands have been drained
  • Since 1950 some 3billion hectares of forest cover – nearly half of the world’s total – have been lost. Each year a further 16 million hectares of forest are destroyed. (**This week’s Bulletin, shows America actually had a growth in their forest this year! Someone is acting!)
  • Between 50-80% of mangrove forest have been destroyed.
  • One fourth of the planets tops soil has been lost.

The list goes on!

My Thoughts –
And God put man in charge of the care and nurture of this planet!! He actually said for us to “Rule over it” (Gen 1). And like so much of our leadership, it becomes “Lording over” rather than responsible “Ruling”. Responsible Rule, to me, has words like “Care” and “Nurture”, “Steward” and “Responsible” – But it would seem that we have left this care go amiss for a long long time. It would seem to me also that the ones who claim to know the creator through the revelation of His son Jesus, appear to be some of the last ones on the planet to driving a serious call to environmental sustainability and responsibility. In fact I would say that the church could call for an international day of confession and repentance for the manner in which we have cared for the planet God gave us to have responsibility for…just some random theology thrown in today!

Environmental Interuption

I spent a few days away at the COCWA/Baptist ministers retreat this week.
Wayne Alcorn and Keith Farmer spoke.
I put a post on the COCWA blog regarding some of my thoughts on Wayne’s message, I also made some of my thoughts public at the Churches of Christ ministers breakaway session on Tuesday afternoon at the conference.
After receiving a call from a fellow blogger and person whom I respect, not always agree with mind you, but respect a lot, I have changed some of my comments.
The above mentioned guy suggested I should make these comments on my own blog. I did think that the COCWA was not nec. the views held by COCWA and was open for comment, but I also understand the fact that it is a bit sensitive, so here we go…

I mean no offense, and this is not a personal attack on Wayne per say, I have gone a round of golf with Wayne in my old youth ministry days and as stated on my post, I think he is a man of incredible energy to do great things for the Kingdom of God.

My issue was with what I interpreted as being prosperity teaching, one person objected to the use of this terminology, so I will avoid this and simply state that we were encouraged to get rich in a material way so we could do more for God…

I have no issue with some people (Christians) being rich, in fact it would suggest in the parable of the talents that God does indeed bless some as 5 talent people…some. In fact I would say people who go after riches are on a dangerous slippery slope. I know people who set out in business, not to get rich, but to provide a service, and have done well, very very. Some of them have lost the plot so to speak with their wealth and others have honored God with their wealth. Cool.

Wayne affirmed the book “You Need More Money”, which I have read more than once, in it Brian Huston, suggests that “Money is the answer to everything”, as does King Solomon. Ecc 10:19
The same King suggested that he “hated life” 2:17, and that everything is “utterly meaningless” 1:2 and that the “grave is our ultimate destination” (denying life after death?) 9:10

I am not sure Brian will be writing extensive books on these scriptures.

It was suggested by Wayne that some people intentionally miss the second two words of the scripture “Blessed are the poor…in spirit” (Mt 5) , maybe he should tell that to Luke (Luke 6).
“Blessed are the poor”

It was that comment and others like it that made me convinced on Tuesday night that you can’t construct the kind of message Wayne preached whilst using the teachings of Jesus…just try!

Can I suggest you seek out and read a book I just completed called The Eye of the Needle, you don’t have to embrace it all, I did not, but on the whole it is filled with great biblical teaching on wealth and disciplship. It comes armed with a robust and biblically based text and forewords by Tim Costello and John Smith, two of today’s foremost voices on social action and poverty, Tabor College lecturer Jim Reiher give us some great material to make us think biblically about some of the issues Wayne raised with us.

Again I reiterate – this is not an anti-Wayne or Churches of Christ conference thing. I just feel so strongly about the fact that consumerism is the fastest growing ‘religion’ in our nation that we need to disciple people to use the wealth they have better, not teach them how to get more, no matter for what so called godly reasons and motivations this may have behind it.

End of rant…back to my greenie phase

Guest Speaker in Perth

Many of you would have seen on Phil Baker’s blog
that Ray Gingerich is in town.

To have a Christian Ethicist like Dr. Ray Ginerich in town is an exciting and not to be missed opportunity for the church in Perth. Here is a link for all the events: click here.

Below is some more info:

Dr. Gingerich’s latest book “Transforming the Powers” brings together some of the greatest Christian thinkers and Biblical scholars in the world today including Walter Wink, Nancey Murphy and Glen Stassen to consider what Christ’s message means in our post-modern world.

If you have been looking for an opportunity to expose friends, family and seekers to a solid biblical, theological, spiritual and prophetic alternative to a violence infused Christianity, don’t miss:

+A violent God and a nonviolent Jesus?: Peacemaking in a World with
+Opposing Views of Power”+

with Dr. Ray Gingerich, Christian Ethicist, Peace Studies Scholar and Theologian

Sunday Evening (not Monday!)
7pm 29th April 2007

where: Scripture Union House, 82 Matlock St. Mt. Hawthorn

To confirm contact Andrew andrew@tear.org.au Suggested Donation: $10

For more details click here

Dr. Gingerich is in Australia to share what one of the most extended alternative nonviolent movements in church history (nearly 500 years!) has to contribute to a dynamic and faithful vision of Christianity for the 21st century. Come prepared to have your understanding of atonement, mission, church, the gospel and God challenged in light of the person of Jesus.

This is an amazing opportunity for Perth. Please let your networks know.

Tough Questions Being Asked

Hmmm – read this,

…one of his boss’s comes in and tells him to pick up his gun. the kid doesn’t move. the boss moves closer and raises his voice ‘Jesus is Lord. Pick up your gun’. the kid is absolutely terrified but follows his heart, ‘I hate Jesus’ he yells and tries to make a run for it…

this scenario doesn’t fit my theology. in fact it exposes some gaping holes in it.

can someone follow Christ without actually knowing it?
can someone hate everything they know about Christianity and still usher in the Kingdom of God?

There are some great questions being asked by Charlie over here, pop over and add some thoughts to her great ponderings.

Highs and Lows

Off to Adelaide for a meeting with my new missions job todnight, be back Friday. I think I am looking forward to it, not sure if these meeying are actually fun!

Been reading a bit from lots of different books lately, you know how you go through those stages in which you pick up and start multiple reads?
I finished Finding Sanctuary the other day, good morning read/devotional style.
I have begun The Practice of the Presence of God (Brother Lawrence) in the last few days.
It is an interesting read and it has made me think a bit about the “Victorious life theology”. You know that one that says that if you do XYZ then everything will work out. Therefore if things are not working then you have not got your x’s and y’s in the right places. Brother Lawrence mentioned that “he was not affraide of anything”, that he lived in “complete and permanant joy”. This all sounds nice…a bit too nice. What about when a friend dies…ok, what about when a friend dies that hates God?
What about when you stub your flippin’ toe?
At dinner every night we share our highs and lows of our day. It is interesting that my mother-in-law (God bless her, she lives with us and it it is a total joy!!) but she was at Victory Life for a while and is now at a ‘softer’ penicostal church, but she NEVER has a low point in her day…so she says. And it seems like a ‘thing’ you know what I mean? “Oh no I don’t have a low!” I can see the kids processing this amazing person with no lows, yet we all know she does.
I wonder if we have this theology that says when we are walking with God all is well and when we are not all sucks.
So I guess then when something bad happens we need to cover it up quick or deny it so it does not away the awful secret that I may not be walkng well with God, if indeed we operate with this squewed theology.

Disclaimer – this is not a go at my mother-in-law, she was just a handy example! I do love her dearly, I do, no seriously!

What’s The Deal with Sabbath?

Do you take ‘Sabbath’ seriously? Well what does that mean, I should ask – how do you ‘take the Sabbath’, if at all?

  • Some see it as a day off, and this simply means as a day of from the paid job.
  • Some just don’t see it as relevant.
  • Others I speak to see, it as a fast, a kind of fast from something that seems to be done on most other days. An example maybe like Stu in Busso who chooses not to blog on Sunday. Some may fast from food for the day, from TV, or …sex? But they do something that separate this day from others in the week.
  • Some see it as a spiritual day. It is a day for going to a place of worship with others and doing church. They may go more than once. Some my dedicate the whole day to the Lord in the sense that they may spend extended times in prayer, reading, reflecting and attending corporate worship or having their own times of worship.
  • I was a pastor in a local church for some time and Sundays was by no means a day off, it was in fact the most stressful day of my week and the one on which I worked the longest hours. So for pastors like that, are they ‘alllowed’ to pick another day and call it their Sabbath or is that not on?
  • Well, come to think of it, if we were to follow tradition, the Saturday was the Sabbath was it not? What does that mean for us?
  • Some people I speak to connect the Sabbath not just to themselves having a day off, but giving the earth and all that is around them a day off. What does this mean? Well to give the earth a rest, I guess you don’t ‘turn it’ and reap from it, as in garden. And they suggest that the use of vehicles which poor pollutants into the earths atmosphere would not equate to giving the earth a rest either, so they would choose to limit or use altogether a car. This day would be a ‘stay at home day’.

How do I Sabbath?
I often reflect on the scripture that suggests that the Sabbath is for me, it serves me, I don’t become the servant of the Sabbath. It does not lay down a series of rules for me to adhere to, rather it was laid down for my benefit and restoration. What ways do this best for my life and the life of my family?
We see ‘work’ as a six day seamless activity. What I mean by that is that paid work and house work are all seen as ‘work’. (depending on what you consider as ‘work’ around the house. Eg, some see gardening as work, others see it as relaxation). So lets say you have 12 hours in a day from 6am to 6pm. In that time people work, they get lunches ready, they get kids ready for school, they tidy house, they make dinner, they attend to their paid employment, they do all sorts of things considered as work. After six meals and fun and conversation and story telling and hobby and sleep all take place.
This includes Saturday. For many Saturday includes no paid work, but there are plenty of things that are still needing to be done that may be considered ‘work’. As mentioned above, gardening maybe one of them. Washing your car (although I am sure there are better things to do with water than spray it over a hunk of metal and plastic!), vacuuming the house, mopping floors, washing clothes, house cleaning, shopping, so many things just to keep the house and the lives within running smoothly.

Sunday comes…The ideal is that most of our ‘work’ has been done from Monday through Saturday and we awake to the sound of bees humming in the freshly planted flowers, the sound of birds singing in the trees and so on. We are relaxed and ready for day that is high in relationship with each other, with God and with friends and wider family. We often chose to go to a place of worship or if we don’t we would create our own worship, prayer and learning experience where ever we are. Sometimes this is at home with friends and family, or in another’s home, sometimes it may be in the bush out camping overnight to encounter more closely God’s incredible creation in a first hand way. The day may be relaxing around the home, reading or gardening or even building something in the shed that is not a ‘job’ but rather a task of relaxation and re-creation. It’s a slow day mostly, maybe a drive to someone’s house for a meal or a coffee, but mostly on average I think we are at home. The truth is that washing does get done often on a Sunday night in prep for the week ahead, and many times some house work overflows from the Saturday. In fact many times the relaxed slow feel flows backward from Sunday to Saturday, so the Sabbath is kind of ‘shared’ over the weekend. I do have a kind of ideal in my head, but it does not scream too loudly at me, just loud enough to tell me that I am ‘working’ and not sabbathing on those special days. I love some of the ideas Randy Frazee puts forward in his book “Making Room For Life”, I have taken hold of many of these and I guess some of this has come out through these thoughts.

Have a day, of re-creation, it’s gold!

One Big Post, or Lots of Little Ones? (Swearing)

When I lay in bed at 5 in the morning wondering about all the things spinning in my head that I would like to post I get confused as to whether I should creat a seperate blog entry for each one or just a biggy. Seperate ones can get confusing and elongated for the reader, but it’s better for seperating thoughts and referencing in the future.
Well I will list them, maybe I waffle too much anyway –

  • What’s with swearing? Some say people who swear lots simply lack adequate language skills to explain what they mean without employing the use of slang or gutter language. Others might say, the use of swear words are an add on to their already exhaustive and impressive vocablary, it adds colour and expression. What is a ‘swear word’? Does this depend upon cuture and context? In Singapore a good conservative pastor I know is regularly heard using ‘shit’ in sermons and in his daily language. A farmer friend of mine regularly refers to his soil as ‘shit’, and he wants a new farm…he is a leader in his church. Should I have written ‘shit’ or should I have written ‘sh**’? In Sydney this issue is less of an issue than here in Perth, we seem to be more conservative. Is that good? Does that make us better Christians, nicer folk? People joke about this issue within the emergent church movement. I heard someone joke once, “all you have to do to become emergent is say ‘shit’ from the pulpit 3 times and you have an emerging church”. How far is too far? I said ‘wank’ on the blogoshphere. (Admittedly it was a kind of a quote!). Will this cause someone to stumble? Could my kids read my blog? Well there is the question of appropriate conversations for kids to hear anyway, aside from swearing there are lots of things they are not privy to. I am not a regular swearer, I may occassionaly use it for effect or ‘drop the occassional crap’ (so to speak). But I do wonder how far we take being ‘all things to all people’. If I went to reach out to Chinese I would learn their language and use it where needed, if I was to reach out to my Aussie neighbour with a bad mouth, does me swearing make me relevant or a comprimiser any more than a youth ministry wanting to reach out to an MTV culture purchasing the latest sound gear, lights and band equippment make them relevant…or comprimsed? Just be yourself you say. No I guess that is not good enough for me. My SELF sometimes would not represent Christ in most appropriate ways. I guess I am wanting to try to be Christ, not me, but that still does not answer my question…what is inapropriate? Crap, Shit, wank…how far should this typing go…I guess you get it by now.
  • I have decided to do seperate posts! I like the waffle, I can’t help myself!

Radiant or Rich?

We talk a lot don’t we?
I am having so many conversations around the topic of church I wonder sometimes if the devil has this plan to just get us to talk lots about God’s church so we don’t actually ever become what was intended.
On the other hand I wonder if God actually wants us thinking, dialoging about it, refining it, finding better was of doing it, questioning what might be practices that surpress creativity, freedom, justice etc.

Why is it that when you are passionate about beer, it seems that you keep ending up in conversations with others passionate about beer too. When you feel strong about…lets say a particular social justice issue, others tend to find their way to you (or you to them) who feel the same way. All the people in the church who hate the preaching (or the preacher for that matter) all seem to end up in the same small group or around at one persons place for lunch after the sermon each week.
Of course you can make it happen. All you need to to drop the right lines, hints, even a sigh in the right place will do it, just to indicate what you need to send the signal out to another you have feelings on a given topic…the radar picks up perfectly if the other/s feel the same way or not. If they do, then the ground is slowly tested in conversation until you have formed a political party, a social action group or a church split over your hobby horse. It was never your intention, it just happened that ‘everyone felt the same way’! (My kids say that!) It sure feels like everyone does feel the same way because our radar is only tuned to pick up “MY” coloured blip.

So why then, even knowing this and being so aware of this do I honestly keep ending up hearing or landing in the middle of conversations about people being tired of certain aspects of the traditional church. Sometimes I agree with the coments. Sometimes I say so, sometimes I disagree with the comments and sometimes I say so. But I try not, mostly, to ever ‘make’ them happen, no sighs, no comments, I sus out if they have read my blog, or know what I think before it comes up. In fact I had someone in a small group last year open up innocently and say,
“Hey guys has anyone ever heard of this emerging/organic church stuff, heaps of people are challenging the commercial, ‘popular’ way we are doing church” I am like “really, did you want to talk about this?” The conversation went no further that night, and in fact never has with that couple.
Is it me? Or is there a mass movement around, bigger than ‘p’d off, burnt out pastors’ frustrated with a system that may have burnt them, bigger than extreem left wing weed smoking liberal Christians, bigger than honest hard working missional evangelist church planters…these people are your average pew warmer, only they seem to be getting bed sores. They seem to be tired of sitting in church programmes, tired of what some have called ‘spiritual masturbation’ (excuse me, but it is in quotes so it’s ok), that is the constant injections of ‘church’, the constant feeding of systems that seem in many cases to lack genuine care of individuals and instead sees people as means to an end, that people become ‘useful’ for my cause or my programme.
I honestly had someone say recently about a couple moving to their church, “these guys will come in very useful to me”.
There are people, normal people (that means not like a trained pastor like me!!) asking big questions about church. These questions wont all end up in wierd looking communities with no accountability, no teaching, or running off hand in hand naked to the organic vegi patch together . These people may simply stay put and ask the hard questions, they may become our church leaders of tomorrow, in churches that look and feel different. Churches that may still have ‘stuff’ and have need of money to pay their bills and build their buildings, but something underneath will just tick differently, feel different, they may well be the catalysts for a massive ground swell of new look christian communities (yes churches if you like).
These people are the ones doing the talking. I am sitting regularly with people who are from my own church and others and someone will innocently say, “What do you think about the way some church does such and such…”, “What did you think about the materialistic feel of such and such a conference, don’t you think Jesus would weep over that?” “Have we lost our way in the area of genuine discipleship?” etc etc.

Options For The Genuinely Concerned-

  • Go off and start something new, ignore what is disliked about the old, just focus on doing what is new (some have and are going for it, no doubt the fact that humand are involved it may get messy, but yay them) – Traditional Church seems cynical and critical of much of this on the whole.
  • Stay and get bitter and twisted and cynical about the way things are. – The Church would find you hard to cope with…so would most of the world!
  • Ignore and deny that there could be anything wrong, suppress all doubts, avoid all conversations. – You would hate you as you lack internal (self) integrity.
  • Stay and be a thorn in the side of the church, positivly challenge everthing that you feel contradicts your ideal, look for healthy dialogue, feedback on your thoughts – Your church would be driven up the wall by you I guess.

Keith Farmer (Former Principal Australian College of Ministries) once said that he believes that the church is on the verge of it’s first ever reformation. Sure we have had theological reformations before, one major one…where us non-Catholics emerged. But Church in pretty much the ‘form’ it is today, has always looked pretty much what it looks like on the whole.

We do what we call pub church, but we wait till the pub is empty (Sunday morning) and we move in. That’s not pub church, that a normal church in an empty pub. Try it when it’s full!!!

Keith asked the question I ask me (and you) “What does a global reformation of the Church look like?” And if this is really happening, and if this is not a fad, but a move of God…what is he doing, and why? What was the kind of Church/Bride he was coming back for? Radiant? or Rich?