Working the Deep Magic

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Yesterday’s Catch really got me going. I’ve always wondered about the passion of Christ. Every time it is acted out in film or theater, everything seems so drummed-up and confused. Pilate thinks he’s crucifying Jesus. The Jews think they are crucifying Jesus. The Roman soldiers think they are crucifying Jesus, and the disciples think they are crucifying Jesus by running away. When in fact, God was pouring out His wrath against sin on His Son in order to have mercy on the whole world. And who knew that? Nobody, except Jesus.

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Pilate before Jesus

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The whole exchange between Jesus and Pilate, the Roman governor to whom the Jewish authorities brought Jesus, is a revealing one. In it, Pilate — a representative of the ruling government of the Roman Empire under the rule of the king, Caesar — meets up with another king, Jesus, supposed King of the Jews. Pilate initially thinks Jesus may be the king, not of the Jews, but of a small uprising.

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‘Can we go around again?’

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This weekend I’ve been into one of my favorite passages in scripture, 1 John chapter one. I spoke on it to an adult Sunday morning class at a church in Fullerton, California, and last night in our own online Catch church service. It’s a passage that does what I like to call a flip-flop. Upon first glance you think it’s saying one thing until you start to look at it more closely and you discover it’s saying something else — sometimes quite the opposite of what you thought. 1 John chapter one is one of those.

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Living without cellphone security

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Wanna bet they’re texting each other?

“Here’s your change.” “Paper or plastic?” “Credit or debit?” “You want ketchup with that?”

I don’t want a straw. I want real human moments. I want to see you. I want you to see me. I don’t want to give that up.

Thanks to John Fagliano for pointing out this scene from the 2001 animated movie, Waking Life. I wonder what it would take to establish a cellphone moratorium in public places just for a day. Gosh. I wonder what we would do if there was nothing to do but look at each other? I bet there would be much to learn from such an experience.

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Look all around you

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The first round of the Masters Golf Tournament today at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia will be a step back in time. The spectators will be unusually quiet and particularly observant. If you don’t know why, you could probably watch this event for a while before figuring out what was different. For the spectators, there will be literally nothing to do but watch golf. Suddenly, they will be observing everything — the conversations between golfer and caddie, the long walk through the course, the down time of waiting for other players, the discussion over choosing a club, the laughter of someone cracking a joke, the color of the sky, the breeze in their faces, the whispers of those around them … I could go on and on about details formerly missed, but not this time. I’m imagining the spectators (they call them “patrons” at this event) standing with arms folded, or hands in their pockets or at their sides — a little awkward over not knowing what to do with themselves. What is different? What am I talking about that makes these obvious things so unique? Simple. No cellphones. No cellphones are allowed on the course.

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Posted in Worldview, worship | Tagged | 11 Comments

Mainstream Christianity is an oxymoron

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I always know I’ve struck a chord when comments come in from all sides — email, Facebook, website, Twitter. One brother said his friends are being discipled more by Fox News than by the Holy Bible. Another said he’s displeasing his friends on both sides of the political spectrum (that’s usually a sign that you are on the right track). Most are just tired of Christianity being more about politics than the truth — proof, as we talked about yesterday, that power is dictating “truth” instead of the other way around.

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Truth Speaks to Power

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I am currently reading a book called Truth Speaks to Power: The Countercultural Nature of Scripture by Walter Brueggemann. I picked up the book more for its subtitle than for its title. As a child of the Jesus Movement (also known as the Jesus Revolution), I’m interested in anything with “Countercultural” and “Scripture” in the same phrase. I am barely getting started in this book, but I have read enough to get at least an idea of what the title is all about.

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All the right stuff

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Chandler, Anne, Christopher

For those of you who have been following our 19-year-old Chandler over the years, I have to tell you that he is doing well. In these last few months, he has taken incredible strides in the right direction. Just yesterday he presented us with a plan for his next steps in life that shows a maturity and a direction our other two children didn’t have until their late twenties. And he’s excited about it. We’ve seen him smile more in the last few weeks than we have his whole life up until recently. Not that this plan is it and his life is now settled — this could change yet several times — but the seriousness is there; the desire to be responsible, and the goal-setting is all the right stuff.

When you watch this happen as a parent, you realize how much is beyond your control. We want to think it’s because of us and our good parenting when our kids make good choices, and blame ourselves when they don’t, but we have little to do with this. As parents, we’ve done right things and we’ve done wrong things; we’ve been wise and we’ve been foolish. You’d think that these would bring corresponding good and bad results, but it doesn’t work that way. The Bible is full of proverbs and stories of wise children being born to foolish parents and vice versa. The law, and even psychology, are all about cause and effect — do this, get these results — but grace operates outside that universe. When we see Chandler displaying a kind of maturing inner strength, we can only sit back, marvel and be thankful to God.

It’s not only that life is not all cause and effect, but we as human beings are given a free will to do with as we please. We can’t create the choices we want our children to make, we can only provide them with the environment in which to make them. God does the same thing with us. And don’t get tied up in the free will/predestination paradox. Just realize those are two sides of the same coin and we can talk about either one as being true even though we cannot hold them both in our minds at the same time.

What we all have to realize is that we will never get the credit for anything we do because it is God working through us (and sometimes in spite of us). We can never boast, “Look what I did!” It is God and God alone. This is bad news for our egos, and great news for our spirits and our inner life in Christ.

So I am marveling at what Chandler is choosing, and I am guessing that God’s relationship with us is similar. He rejoices over our good choices as if they were all up to us, because as far as we know, they are.

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

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