Profound Shame

I just love words so much.

If it is really true that it is hard for us, as adult Christians, to comprehend even a chapter of the Old Testament in sequence, then this can only fill us with profound shame; what kind of testimony is that to our knowledge of the Scriptures and all our previous reading of them?  –Life Together by Bonhoeffer

I love large portions of the Old Testament.  Deuteronomy is my personal favorite in the Old Testament but Jeremiah is a close second.  The Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes are all so good.  There are portions I do not enjoy as much – the end of Exodus with the details for the tabernacle is worse than Leviticus for me – but I know there is a reason for them.  Sadly many Christians do not even try to comprehend even a chapter of the Old Testament.  There are not many people to show them the beauty that is there.

Saturday I got an email about a budget and had to reply with questions.  I knew the questions and answers could not “really” be asked and answered in an email so I stated that at the beginning.  I was very careful with my word selection.  I am almost always careful with words (and sadly defeated when I am not).  So it was a good exchange.  This led to a meeting yesterday which was quite informative and allowed me to understand the reason for some of the line items in the budget.

I enjoy budgets.  It is like business and Monopoly.  My favorite game you know?  I played for the first time when I was eight.  I wrote about it here.  That post was so worth reading again.  Marxist or Keynesian, ahh the memory.  A good one given that was when I was reading “The God Delusion”.  Nearly two years ago and the book still impresses me.  I wish I could find another of Dawkins’ books that I knew would impress me in the same manner.

Monday.  No rain but that’s OK, I suppose.

Just Delete Them All

I just deleted three unpublished posts.  The words were good but not complete.  I would say life has been busy but that would be a lie.  Life is life.  Busy is a state you put yourself into.

Much continues to be accomplished.

Last year I was asked to serve on the National Relay Online Leadership Team.  I wasn’t sure what I would be doing but recently, due to restructuring, the leader of Online Recruitment was let go from ACS.  They asked for a volunteer and I was the only one to step forward.  Who wants more work?  Repeat busy is a state you put yourself into.  I have already been thinking new thought patterns.  Very fun.  I got a spreadsheet of the events from across the nation without an online chair – over 2800.  Last I knew there were less than 5000 events so over half do not have someone in this position.  I could not share all the patterns here.

Nothing going on with Jux on Mission right now.  I look at the mind map regularly but God hasn’t opened anything up.

Several good happenings at Jux.  Looking for more opportunities to grow.  Many new possibilities.  No new thought patterns that I can recall but old ones being looked into again.  New patterns will emerge some time.

LOVE Like Him Ministries made good progress.  A meeting tomorrow.  I hope another one next week.  And then for sure on May 13th.  This gave me a good thought pattern that has continued to use my brain even while trying to sleep.  So many ideas to put together.  Exhausting but exciting.

I went to my sister’s this weekend.  One full day of no thinking about any of those things so it was a break for my brain.  Thank you Jesus for the gift of rest.

In a few weeks I meet with a pastor about a trip to Africa in February.  Kara doesn’t really know what to think just yet but I think God may be aligning this trip for me and the kids.  If so I will be so thankful to God.  If not, then I will be a different kind of thankful.  This pastor also told me about a trip to India in September but I can’t make both trips.  At least I do not see how I can.

Our local Relay event isn’t to far away.  Found out news today that will effect the event in two years so it gives us time to prepare.  Someone will not be leaving the event but not able to participate at the same level as they currently do.  Honestly steps were already being taken to help this situation.  Sadly one of the older teams (been in existence since our event began 20 years ago) will not be there this year.  The lady who has run it is too old and has been in the hospital at least twice this year.  No one else will step up to lead it.  This may be the last year they turn in money to the event as well.  They are a large team that raises around $10,000 so it will be a loss but it happens.

I know there are a few other things but I am going to be done for now.  I wasn’t able to pray or read properly so I decided to write.  Now I will try to pray again.

But No One Told Them

I have a nice little white board from yesterday.  I have two actually.  I started the second one with a clear idea but as it was created, I lost the purpose.  There was good data so I took a picture.  I supposed it will just stay there until the purpose is found.  That’s always a good thing.

The first board started with the word “Path”.  So I asked the question: “Where is the path to God’s glory in my life and in my business and ministry?”

That is a good question.  I was able to create a small list for each of them: life, business, and ministry.  I was able to find a few clear discernible steps to take.  I was also able to find steps to take but with no path to get to those steps.  They seem to be five steps ahead of me – too far to jump.  Plus normally you can’t skip ahead like that.

I should probably start a new board with the idea of getting to those steps.  It wasn’t a lack of trying yesterday – promise.  If I were going to put together pieces that may not actually go together, I would say that these steps are not possible at the moment.  I would say that they will become possible in the next few months.  Maybe as early as January 2016 but probably not that soon.  Life is the game of waiting, right?

The holidays take away our structure.  I know it comes each year.  Just one reason my demeanor changes.  I think that will be something to work on.  Good idea.

Technology Class

I finally decided that without a clear “no” from God I would begin to move forward on one of my projects.

I have had small classes with some boys doing robots, programming, hacking and other technology related things over the years.  A month or two back I came across the Best Buy grant that will give money to non-profits to do things just like this.  I prayed about it but did not have a “yes” or “no”.  I told God I would move forward until I heard otherwise.  It is part of the same “be confident” that God has been teaching me.

So in January I will file the paperwork for another business.  Then I will file the form to make it a 501(c)(3).  Then in June or July I will fill out the grant application.  Then if God wants it to move forward we will get the money we need.  Or God will give us the money a different way.  If He doesn’t then I suppose I tried and He will direct me elsewhere.

From the beginning I was not afraid of God providing the money but I was afraid of not having people to work with the children.  But God reminded me that He can provide people in the same way that He provides money.  So I began praying differently for workers for the harvest.  It has really been good.  I have not completely overcome this problem but I just keep reminding myself of what God reminded me.  It is quite exciting.

Yes, there is another project on my list.  This one has been rolling in my mind for a few weeks as well.  The idea is actually much older.  I would say two years but it has never been my desired project – it belongs to someone else.  Yet the last few weeks I have been developing this for them (with them to some extent).  I have a mind map.  I looked over a few business plans for similar projects.  I started creating a business plan.  I have even written the executive summary.  I have six months planned out.  OK, six months of detail.  I have my ideal plan going out to Summer 2019 but I realize that I lose control after about six months.

I would much rather plan this project a different way.  I would implement much faster than Summer 2019.  My way would require less funding.  I was working through the pattern this way and abandoned it even though there was a lot of thought put into it.  I still have all the ideas saved in my head so it is not lost if we need to switch.  Hmmm, I realized that the ideas are still on the mind map too – at least the broad ideas.  That’s good.

There are many things to pray for in life.  Many people.  Pray with confidence!  God’s message to me and you too.

No, there are more things to share but I am running out of time to write them and again running out of room on this post.  I’ll try more tomorrow.

Spinning Ideas

There are always new ideas spinning in my mind.  I often have trouble stopping the mind.  I have been looking at the long term ideas on my mind map recently.  I am not sure why they are all still long term ideas.  This means that we must begin taking steps to move forward with them.

I sat down with one of the ideas (that isn’t really mine but one I want to assist with) and developed a small mind map.  I did not share it with the person to whom the idea really belongs but I will soon enough.

Then I took one of my own pet projects and began to develop that map.  I have a time table, names, expenses, ideas, and quite a bit more.  I am excited about this.  Even more excited about taking steps on some projects.

I am not in front of my mind map right now but I believe there is one more that I am going to begin to develop.  Hmmm, I do not know.  I think there is supposed to be another one I develop.  We shall see later this week.  I’ll have to make a note.

Are any of these projects God’s will?  I do not know.  But I decided that projects require money and people.  If God provides the money and people then it may very well be His will.  If not then I can move on to the next idea.

Yes.  Yes.  Quite exciting.  I need to go to sleep now but it is too early.  :/

Undertakes That Office

Because man won’t?

The Ethiopian’s reply, when St. Philip asked him if he understood what he was reading, is the voice of nature: “How can I, unless some man shall guide me?”  The Church undertakes that office; she does what none else can do, and this is the secret of her power.  –An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine

So she does what none else can do, mainly exactly what Philip just did?  Yet none else can do what he did unless it is the church.  Maybe the translation is wrong.  Maybe it really says “How can I, unless some church program shall guide me?”  There are nuances of course.  People are the church but this does not seem to be the implication of the passage.  There is something larger in control.

But the truth of the matter is man is lazy.  And unless we are compelled by grace we have nothing but emptiness.  I cannot even be sure we are in the Christian faith without this grace.

So man had to setup an institution to perform what man was supposed to.

Sunday I am on my white board again.  I had asked myself many questions.  I asked the same questions I have asked myself time and again.  What can I even do with these questions?  I decided that the Protestant churches are not much different than the Catholic church.  Here is a list of things.  Good luck.  And don’t forget to come on Sunday and perform these rituals with us.  Can this even be avoided?  This is not the life I want to live.  And I cannot find what God has me searching for.  The wise council I received was I will have to deal with it “until he calls you to start your own”.  That may be even worse.

As I went through many ideas, I wondered what this would actually look like.  This was quickly discarded.  And truth be told the dissatisfaction with church would include any that I attempted to put together.  I have had the idea and discarded it many times.  But then I wondered how I would change my life to reflect what I thought it should be.  I remembered a phrase someone had said while discussing Matthew 28:19 many years ago.  The phrase was “as you go” or to personalize it “as I go”.  I used this to push some ideas.

I wanted to keep it simple so I developed an ideal day.  This reminded me of Jonathan Edwards’ Resolution 41 which I text myself daily.

Daily Activities

So after the simple ideal day above was created, I setup a mind map for the week, month, and year.  I put non-negotiables in the my week.  I did not complete the week as I would have preferred.  I left it as simple as I could with only four items.  I cannot share it because I have special projects on it that I do not want my kids to necessarily see.  Do not worry, I will develop the week a bit more but I want to keep it as simple as I can.  Then if I am feeling ambitious later, I will fill in the month and year maps.

I do not want to really explain the simple detail I have here.  Minutiae is only for the insane (me).

It is hard to be mindful all the time.  It is hard to do even the most simple things consistently.

It was fun to change the way I have my mind maps arranged.  I believe I will be able to get rid of some maps as everything is arranged in a new format.  I already had my “2 year” map which is now the multi year map.  Goals may be eliminated completely.  I moved two to the dead map.  I don’t like to get rid of maps completely as they contain ideas but I do not always need to see them.

I wrote a bit more than I expected.

Going Is Difficult

Why is going to church difficult?  This question has been on my white board for at least a week, maybe two.  Today many more questions and statements were added to the board.

One thing I believe I have stated in the past is the church feels fake.  Today I wrote “Church is a program”.  And we know that Jesus went around setting up programs so that people would not have to interact with other people.  No, wait, Jesus went around dealing with people directly without programs.  Interesting.

I remember quite vividly a Sunday at my previous church and the fight within me to take the next step towards the building.  Every step.  Every step up the stairs was also a fight.  I cannot tell you how many Sundays over the past four or five years I have forced myself to go.

Another thing I wrote today – The whole system is set up to destroy the very thing it is supposed to magnify.

Yes, I have so many more words on this topic but my mind is too disorganized.  I need to think about nothing so that the patterns can form and be combined.  Maybe I can write more tomorrow.

Each One Has

What is church anyway?

I do not recall many times when my heart was right with regards to the church structure we have in our culture.  I actually quite despised “organized religion” (as I called it) for many year (many, many years).  This disdain ebbs and flows even today and sadly seems to grow sometimes.  Let us pull you in, sit you down, schedule your singing, praying, giving, and then preach at you.  After this, we shall use manipulation to pull you down front to “be saved”.  And this is required of course – if you do not go down to the front, well then God never actually saved you.

There are churches who even allow you to “be saved” every week if you so desire.

So what does this mean?  As I know I have stated in the past, this makes church service seem fake to me.  It is a show and not anything more.  Yes, I realize my heart is wrong but I also believe that the system is wrong.  This brings up the question – do we change the existing system to not feel like a show or do we construct a system based upon some other example?  Or maybe how do we do both?

The examples of the house churches in Cuba and China are of great interest to me.  I want to experience examples of these things.  I want to understand, first hand, what they are experiencing.  I found a few books that I may purchase in the future but books are always different than personal experience.

I do not know what the answer is.  I am not even sure the question I ask, is the question I want answered.  This complicates matters significantly.  Without a clear question, the answer will remain elusive.

One scripture we can look at is in 1 Corinthians 14.

1 Corinthians 14:26 – What should you do then, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each one has a song, has a lesson, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all these things be done for the strengthening of the church.

How do you accomplish something like this in a church of 100, 1,000, or 10,000?  How can each one have a song, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, and interpretation for the strengthening of the church?

If only…

At Least They Try

I have tried to remember anyone attempting to teach me about Jesus.  There are hundred, maybe thousands, of ACTS stickers on cars.  I am sure there are hundreds of Protestants going on the Walk to Emmaus.  Thousands more going to church, both Catholic and Protestant alike.

I remember in college there was a girl who invited me to church.  I enjoyed her company so I went.  About half way through the service I felt dirty.  I could not shake the feeling.  I left and felt better.  She invited me back and I thought I must have just had a bad day or something so I went back.  This time I walked in and felt that dirty feeling immediately.  Later I realized that she was Mormon.  That was one person who wanted to save my soul.

More recently I have had several studies with Church of Christ people.  They really do enjoy teaching you about the book of Acts without any special stickers on their car or walks anywhere.  These studies have been instigated by a single man.  Now I can count two who wanted to save my soul.

I am sure I must not have put as much thought into this as I should.  I have had others invite me to churches but I do not recall it having the feel of someone interested in saving my soul.

Our default seems to be “they are saved” until they prove otherwise instead of “they may not be saved let’s have a talk”.  Shouldn’t a Christian’s default be the second.

Galatians 6:11 – See what big letters I make as I write to you with my own hand!

What big letters I make. It seems that as a whole the “Christian” has a default stance of “they are already saved by the grace of God”. Well unless you are Hitler then we might try to convert you – well except it would be bad for our image so that’s OK, no never mind on saving him. Why is this our default stance? Isn’t it much more likely that the way is narrow and that good person next to you is lost? I am guilty of this.

Slight shift. Can a Christian’s life really be balanced? Slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:18). Enslaved to God (Romans 6:22).

Authority Questions Continue

I was been thinking through a question on authority for a few weeks, maybe months now?  While in a study with a church of Christ man, I have asked many question. I do not fully understand all the answers he provides but this week I have worked out part of it in my mind. Feel free to correct me or direct me.

I started to state these things to him but was cut off at point two.

  1. Scripture does not define scripture.
  2. This means an authority outside of scripture defined scripture.
  3. The Holy Spirit did this using man.
  4. The Apostles were dead when scripture was decided.
  5. The members of the church defined scripture.

After he told me about church history again, I probed with questions as best I could. I am still not sure he fully understands my question on authority but regardless I left with the following. Now this is not what he said mind you but what I put together based upon what he said and what I know about scripture.

  1. All authority was given to Jesus.
  2. Jesus gave His Apostles authority.
  3. This authority includes what they wrote.
  4. Thus scripture written by the Apostles has authority.
  5. The Apostles died and the authority died with them.

Now I can understand that. I am not necessarily saying I agree with it. It makes me ask questions that have already been around.  Did Jesus give the elect any authority? Did He give the church any authority? If He did, did that authority die when the last Apostle died?  If not, which church and which of the elect?

Questions are fun right?  🙂