Monday Morning Update – 10.23.09

What I’ve Been Up To:
Just got back from our seminary retreat with Brian McLaren.  As I regard his work as an important influence in my life, I had expectations that I could not ignore.  I also hoped that my fellow seminarians would appreciate Brian as well.  Sort of like when you bring your girlfriend home to meet your family, you want them to like her but  but since she’s special, you’re not going to care that they don’t.  Turns out they liked Brian.  Anyway, he shared a lot about prayer and in doing so, I think revealed a great deal about the character of God, the human heart contained in Scripture and quite a bit about our human souls deal with pain and wonder.  Still processing through.

What I’ve Been Reading:
Just finished the audiobook of Outliers by Malcom Galdwell.  Very interesting in the very good  way.  Leaves you with the thought, “That’s great, wow, what should I do I now though?”  Very  good book, highly recommend it.
Still reading The Justice Project.  It’s not one to breeze through because I am really hoping to  absorb enough to live out and communicate effectively.
Rereading some assigned Karl Barth (I am so ridiculously behind for my independent study paper.)
Generate Magazine (loving it, you should subscribe), the new Relevant with Jon Foreman on the cover.

What Music I’ve Been Listening to:
Jenny Lewis’ Acid Tongue at the moment (crazy album).
Sufjan – BQE, (even some of his Christmas)
Welcome Wagon – yep, Thomas Turner’s article in Generate has compelled me once again.  I like his idea of church and the importance of the spiritual body but also the importance of a physical space where community can be enjoyed.
Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde
and the usual podcasts.

What’s Going on in our Student Ministry:
I’ve been so grateful for our youth leaders leading the teaching in my absence.  We certainly have a good thing going here and they are a big part of that.  While there are areas that we need to work on, I don’t see how anyone can say that they come in to our space and not be cared for.
A lot of Invisible Children things going on.  Our students have started a couple clubs in their schools, started some fundraising and one group was able to host a screening in a school assembly for grades 10-12.
We are beginning to work on a benefit concert for late January.
I’m working on our Winter Retreat and looking forward to teaching again after Thanksgiving.

What I’m Looking Forward To:
Thanksgiving Day with the family.
Our next Second Mile service on December 19th
The time of Advent

Monday Morning Brief – 5.18.09

What I enjoyed this week   1. Nathan started walking!  For a few weeks he’d take a step or two and then realized he could crawl faster.  But yesterday, he started to walk.  He’s so proud of himself too; he smiles and waves as he barrels around the house – it’s great.  2. I enjoyed our seminary retreat once again.  We went to the Harvey Cedars Christian Center at the Jersey shore.  Though we were missing a few friends, I think we all appreciated the speaker, Meredith Wheeler (don’t be fooled by the first name, he’s a guy).  Also enjoyed spending time with our cohort and getting to know people from other ones.  3. Rooming with Jon Frost.  He knows baseball, reads Karl Barth and I drifted off to sleep as this pastor of alternative worship sang all of Crowder’s ballads on A Beautiful Collision.  Woke up to him screaming, “You are my …JOOOOYYYY”.   4. The Yankees winning some close ones. 

Student Ministry Update – 1. Finished up with the Dan Kimball They Like Jesus but not the Church study.  We received really solid feedback.  Next up is our series on love, dating sex, purity, identity, etc. called “Spring Fling”.  2. For years our sr. high girls wanted a retreat weekend. We always said yes but there was always a reason we couldn’t do it … until this weekend.  I say it a lot but probably not enough, I’m truly grateful for our leaders and great female leaders are hard to come by.  I know the “rewards of God” are not distributed in the means of parking spaces and sales at the mall, but may the Lord spoil them just a little along side His constant grace.  3.  There was also a guy’s night in at the home of long time youth leader extraordinaire Eric.  The rumor was that it was pizza, wings, and Christian beer (which since they are under-age, I am really hoping means root beer, otherwise, this post loses its “highlightness”). 

What I’ve Been Watching – 1. LOST Season Finale – Amazing but now it’s over.  So now I feel like I just broken up with.  I guess I’ll be listening to Dashboard Confessional until the new season. 2.  Haven’t yet watched the Office season finale.  I’ll get to it one of these months.  Feel free to spoil it for me (Pam accidentally kills John with a line drive right?), With the exception of a few episodes, this was a dissappointing season. 3. Saw Star Trek over the weekend with seminary friends.  I am not a Trekie so my expectations were pretty normal.  I liked the movie, you should see it.  I see the allure of Star Trek as it relies on science and theories.  I like the idea of the Federation and keeping the peace of the universe. However, it’s always lacked magic for me.  I know that’s a pretty subjective statement but Star Wars has the the Force, this ancient Jedi warrior culture and lovable characters like R2 and Chewey and menacing ones like Darth and Bobafett.  Lucas made many mistakes though.  He cursed us with JarJar, metachlorians, and Hayden Christensen (who is a lesson for all – just because you look cool, doesn’t mean you can act).  While I do like Spock, I always found Kirk to be weird and annoying.  It could be the curse of William Shattner but when I was 5, I liked him in TJ Hooker which was better known for Heather Locklear.  Anyway, I think between Shattner, a story that didn’t connect with me, and no offense, the Trekkies that I did know, umm, well, let’s just say that I thought the “light speed” scenes were cool.

What I am Listening to – Bob Dylan’s Together Through Life. 2. I downloaded Coldplay’s free live album, Left Right Left Right Left but only gave it a listen as we were driving to the shore for the retreat. 3. And pretty much everything Ben Gibbard.  Miguel loves Death Cab and Postal Service so I walked around all weekend singing, “So this is the new year … but I don’t feel any different.”

What’s Going in Seminary – just finished a great class called, “Jesus and His Message” and tomorrow we being a new class called “Organizational Assessment & Change”.

Looking forward to – going to the Yankees game tonight with Tim.  And going to Aruba with my whole family!!

Reflecting on Andy Crouch, Sabbath, and cell phones

Evan and I were enjoying a discussion on the practice of Sabbath that was brought up by our time with Andy Crouch.   Like many (especially in the West and especially in the Northeast and especially with those who serve in a community in the shadows of NYC but I’m justifying and you get the point) the parts of the practice of Sabbath give me trouble.

I saw that Evan posted something on this but haven’t read it because I don’t want it to influence this post.  I think it will be interesting to see what we both come up with.  So here’s what I am thinking as I am drinking a cup of coffee from Peru in Steel City Coffee House in Phoeniville, PA. 

One of the few things in my life that I am generally pleased with is that I actually do take time to pray, meditate, read Scripture and whatever.  I try to have a time of Sabbath each day (or late at night as it is in my case).  I normally do this after I have littered, kicked my dog and gossiped about it.  Whatever goodness I claim in my time with the Lord, the idea of taking a day of Sabbath has been a different matter.   

I think it was in Velvet Elvis that Rob talks about his practice of Sabbath.  Almost a year ago, Tim Lucas from Liquid Church said in a service that he has a day where he turns off the cell, doesn’t look at email, and is with his family, etc.  I’ve heard similar stories say, “I tell the office don’t call me, I’m not answering, (there’s always some kind of concession for emergency), I’m spending the day detached from the world and in communion with God and family …

My practice of taking an actual day (like in the fundamentalist’s literal 24 hour period – lol) has always been sporadic, inconsistent, and at times non-existent. 

I’ve always envied those that have had found the discipline and community that have allowed for that Sabbath to happen.  Often I wonder if I can have it or if it’s that I won’t let myself have it. 

Can one practice Sabbath without turning off the cell phone?  Frankly speaking, I think that’s the overused example.  In fact, I’d like to make the argument that I am not controlled by my cell phone.  I hardly answer my phone when it rings.  In fact, I spend minutes being teased by my friends how they can never get me and so on.  Probably the most used feature is my voicemail.  Some of my friends read this blog and I know some will forever begrudge me but I think they know this anyway.  Because of the constant unproductively in my life, even my closest friends whom I love spending hours discussing my favorite subjects are sent to voicemail.  In fairness, I think most would say I call them back.  Sabbath from my phone is not what I need. 

Nor is it from this blog.  I present my case by the infrequent postings and the limited comments.  Regarding twitter, I have to remind myself that I have twitter.  These things do not control me. 

Perhaps the things that control me are the pressures and stress that I either inflict on myself or allow others to inflict on me.  There is also a healthy pressure that I labor for and I call it ambition.  A lot can be said about that but we all know that ambition has the potential to be a worthy pursuit.  That said, I confess the need for Sabbath.

But I think where I end up landing is here – What I think I need is not Sabbath for the sake of retreating from something but Sabbath to pursue someone/thing greater than I normally do.  I hope to reflect on this again.  

Andy Crouch – Discipline, Breathing, Sabbath and Scales – Session 2 Post 3

Session two began on the idea of Practices and Disciplines Andy defined “discipline” as a simple thing, maybe even uninteresting, done over and over so that you will eventually be free to do other things. He compared it to playing scales on the piano. Then he actually played scales on the piano. Normally that sort of thing that would bug me but I guess when you’re intelligent, talented and a have a great sense of humor, you can pull it off. He talked about “Breathing” – if you want to live musically, you need to learn how to breathe. Which led to a discussion on Sabbath. If we want to live more musically as Christians, then we have to learn to stop what we are doing and do the spiritual equivalent and breathe.  

For more, check out Evan’s notes.

Andy Crouch – violins, cds and satisfaction – Session 1, Post 2

Though I have been away from my family more than usual, it was good to be with my seminary friends on this retreat.  I’ve been looking forward to this retreat since they announced the speaker would be Andy Crouch.  So, after introductions, icebreakers, and a Sprit-filled time of worship, it was Andy’s time to speak.  He began from behind a keyboard talking about how he saw this sign at a Starbucks that said, “Live More Musically”.

Evan’s post has good notes, so check that out.  A lot of the time was focused on creating this chart between the benefits of playing the violin or playing a cd.  The point made was what gave the greater satisfaction in the long run.  Though there were advantages to the cd (like wide-distribution, great quality, portability), its satisfaction/enjoyment expires and descends.  While learning to play the violin becomes almost infinitely greater over time. 

Andy described that in order to continue to enjoy the playing of a cd, you need to constantly buy cds and it is similar to how we describe addictions.  We have set up our churches similar to this as well.  One of the issues that I have complained about over and over is the consumer mentality of churches.  Because we’re teaching people how to play cds, not teaching them how to play the violin.  So much more to say, but you get the idea.

Our Seminary Retreat with Andy Crouch

This weekend, our Biblical Seminary retreat will have a fantastic guest speaker, Andy Crouch. Because I know people who know stuff, I’ve been familiar with Andy’s work for a little while.  He also writes for a small independent spiritual journal called Christianity Today.  (It’s ok, if you haven’t heard of it).

Andy is the author of the highly acclaimed book Culture Making.  If you are familiar with Andy’s work (like at the Q Conference, his articles, or seen his small group curriculum Where Faith & Culture Meet), you know some of the premise of the book.  If you’re new to Andy and engaged in the culture conversation (and bothered by some of Christian music/movies/art/general outlook of culture) you’ve probably even said very similar things while drinking non-corporate, free-trade coffee with your intelligent friend who loves literature and gardening.  However, the book is the other 200 pages of well-written thought that your refill probably didn’t cover.  

Anyway, I find myself in a good place in life right now.  If you’ve been reading this blog, you know I’ve been so proud of places like my denomination for bringing Dave Kinnaman (from UnChristian) and organizations like Youth Specialites for bringing in speakers like Phyllis Tickle, Tony Jones, Tom Sine, and Scot McKnight for the National Youth Workers Convention.  I’ve really had amazing opportunitues to hear some incredible speakers/thinkers.  So if I have to be away from my beautiful wife and son, then I am thrilled that Biblical Seminary has invited Andy am looking forward to hanging out with my cohort friends.

Franke Installation Post 2 – Tim Keel – "Leadership, the Local Church and the Crisis of Imagination"

Tim is a very gifted-communicator who has great energy and comes across very likeable.  And so, many are surprised to discover that he is part of the emergent conversation.  Seriously, a needed message on imagination .  Here are the rough notes if interested.

Tim Keel – “Leadership, the Local Church and the Crisis of Imagination”

The most significant crisis that we may be facing is the Crisis of imagination.

imagination – the faculty or action of forming new ideas.

images or concepts not present to the senses.

you have the ability to see something that is not yet there.

Imagination is critical to leadership – especially if we are going to go some place we have never been. 

unfortunately our well has run dry.

Our leadership imagination has been domesticated (has been “tamed” as defined by the audience)

Maybe we have domesticated the Holy spirit which is the source of imagination.

However is it possible to domesticate the HS?

So is the Spirit still in the building?

Our modern enlightenment epistemology – 

truth and knowledge is always universal

leaders who are deeply imbedded in their context

they are seeing a God acting out in their place

we do not believe that God is active where we work and live – THUS we must go and find out where He is.

American pragmatism – (ministry titillation) – 2nd cousin to modern epistemology

Christian Century uses Jacob’s Well

Email of a person at “emerging” worship conference

Thomas merton passage

Jesus prayer of unity is an impossible …

Whenever we disagree with each other, we break fellowship

Bc in the west the worst sin is heresy

in the east churches, the worst sin is schism, breaking away.

in the absence of diversity we also lose imagination and create isolation.

imagination requires engagement

imagination requires hope

in place of modern commitments, many of us are understanding context, narrative

then we discover patterns of connectivity 

Joy, partnership to a different future.

Franke Installation Post 1 – Scot McKnight – "The Bible and Missional Listening"

I’m at the “Missional Christianity … Church Beyond Boundaries” Conference at Biblical Seminary. It will conclude with John Franke being installed as the Lester and Kay Clemens Professorship in Missional Theology. (Since my friends and have referred to it as the Franke installation, and they’re here and generally the only ones who read this blog, I’ll probably refer to it as the Franke Installation. If you are reading this and do not fall into the sentence, you are now not confused, right?)

Scot McKnight gave the first Plenary Session and here are my rough notes from it. (I’m practicing my live-blogging skills for the emergent conference, which by the way, Tim Keel is in the house).

Scot McKnight – “The Bible and Missional Listening”

Franke is on the cutting edge of doing theology from a missional perspective.

Illustration – Art school piece – like the artist – who says something deep from within the soul and so we gaze upon the text.

The Bible is God’s story.

Look, see, respond

A Model called authority

Too many stop short by asking how can I understand and what method do I use

The Drama of Doctrine – Kevin VanHoozer …

these are not good enough questions

(Scot) grew up with a fundamentalist perspective

these are the words that lead to a framing story: god revelation inerrancy, authority submission revealed himself in the bible to make sure they got it right … and so I believe the bible is true formula of words

fosters a relationship to the bible that demand submission.

focusing on the subject matter is not enough

A Model Called Relationship

instead one that leads to a missional dance.

1. Distinguishes God from the Bible the person and the paper are not the same. missing the difference of God and the Bible is like reading Jonah and wondering how long human beings living inside whales the book is about Jonah and God not Jonah and the whale God speaks to us in words but is more

2. It is a written communication to us in the form of words God is not the Bible to make the Bible into God is idolatrous Francis Schaeffer – He is there and is not silent

3. to listen to God the person, speak in the Bible and engage God as we listen wiki stories – the ongoing story … divinely guided so their wiki stories tell God’s stories

4. relational approach believes we enter into the discussion the Bible has and the Church has had with it.

If we learn read the Bible with generation, it’s more like sitting down at the table with 3 generations, we are enriched with deeper understanding of family relational way is reading in community we are in search of more then paper difference between paper and person god gave the bible not so we can know it, but so that we can know the bible through it.

framing scripture relationally is necessary.

These words give us the story we find ourselves in.

story of college student talking about his youth pastor’s view of the Bible what good is errancy if you don’t do what it says and if I’m doing the will of God am I not justifying my view of believing in inspiration,

revelation, inerrancy describes our view of the Bible but talking about it is not enough.

Alan Jacobs – theology of reading hermeneutics of love

•1. Written words are written communication to one person to another

• 2. The proper relationship of a Christian is to listen to that person’s words.

Words are personal exchanges not scribbles on paper.

This is why we care what others say o Because words are part of our experiences, who we respond to them matters. o Books and authors are to be treated as neighbors we need to get better at listening (If you need to know, read blogs) Listen to the bible. The Bible is filled with folks not acting saintly.

Augustinian conclusions if you are doing good works you are reading the Bible aright if you are not doing good works you are not reading the Bible aright then change

Next Challenges in Theology & Praxis for the Missional Church

On October 10, 2008, Biblical Sem will be host: Next Challenges in Theology & Praxis for the Missional Church, which will serve as the Installation Ceremony – John R. Franke as the Lester and Kay Clemens Professor in Missional Theology.

Speakers will be Brian McLaren, Scot McKnight, Tim Keel.

Hey, i don’t care if they are installing energy efficient light bulbs, I’m thrilled my school is doing this.  Seriously, I’m also happy that a guy like John Franke is being celebrated.  A good man who loves God.  His only sin is that he likes the Vikings.  May God have mercy on us all.

Here’s what I know:

Noon – Registration
1:00 – 1:50 p.m. – Plenary session, Q & A with Scot McKnight
2:00 – 2:45 p.m. – Parallel sessions
2:45 – 3:15 p.m. – Snack break
3:15 – 4:00 p.m. – Parallel sessions
4:00 – 4:50 p.m. – Plenary session, Q & A with Tim Keel

5:00 – 6:30 p.m. – Reception with refreshments 

6:30 – 9:00 p.m. – Formal installation ceremony

David Dunbar

Darrell Guder 
Brian McLaren “An Epistemology of Love”
John Franke