Blogger Small Group :: Thoughts on James 1:1

29 04 2008

“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:”

James knew his audience. He wrote to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations. How many time do we as Christians and, more specifically church leaders, take the shotgun approach to our ministry? We try our best to appease everyone and, in so doing, reach no one! We sprinkle our services with a little bit of this and a little bit of that like sugar coating on a cake. We attempt to satisfy all age groups and personalities; is it any wonder that we come off sounding like a politician running for office?

James took a different approach. He narrowed is focus like a laser pinpointing its target. He spoke to the lost nation of Israel.

Dialogue Church is different. It’s not designed to reach everyone. We have no expectation that the masses will come running. We are perfectly fine with the fact that Christians will be more comfortable in more traditional churches. We aren’t targeting them. We believe that the Traditional Christian Church has become experts at reaching Christians for Christ. We are reaching to a new generation—an emerging culture. We are listening to those who are asking questions. We are journeying with those on a spiritual pilgrimage. We connect with others as artist finding beauty in the chaos and doubts. We are convinced that we have much to learn and so we invite others to ‘join the conversation’.


…and protest

23 04 2008

We all need a bowl to swim in. My bowl is a big one made up of a lot of people who loosely refer to themselves as “Protestants”. It’s a word that I guess had some significance generations ago when people were content to be defined by what they were not. They were not Roman Catholic. They were Protestants. They stood in opposition to what they saw as abuses in the Roman Catholic Church. They refused to be silent. They refused to look the other way. They were Protestants. They protested.

What about today?

As Christians we do a lot of stuff. We do church, small group, bible studies, music festivals, outreach projects, mission trips, charity fundraisers…it almost never ends. And it’s all good stuff. The problem is that we can get so absorbed into the Christian routine that we forget about the world around us! We forget about the pain, the emptiness, the epidemics, the victims, the malnourished, the “least of these”. A friend of mine wrote, “Forgive and forget. Yes we will soon forget and that’s what needs to be forgiven.”

We must remember.

We must remember, and we must protest.

So do all the stuff. Go to the meetings. Attend the festivals. Do what you do…and protest.

Stop being friends with your pastor.

23 04 2008

Seriously. Stop it.

Stop the phone calls.
Stop the Hallmark cards.
Stop the invites to cookouts and graduations.

Stop being friends with the “pastor” and just be friends with the person.

Do you really like him? Is she the type of person that you’d vacation with if she weren’t the “head honcho”? Ask yourself if you’d take the time to bake the cookies if he or she worked at the Supermarket or at the office.

You see, sooner or later the truth comes out. And it hurts. It hurts to realize that relationships you thought were forged in the furnace of love turn out to be cheap imports. It hurts when people who stood by you as the pastor, sit indifferent when you’re not. It hurts when the ‘friends’ who called everyday won’t pick up the phone when you have no more offer.

What we need—what we all need, is to love and to be loved. When we befriend a person because they are “kind of a big deal”, or because they get invited to all the right parities, or because they have a nice fishing boat we’re not loving them…the only person we love is our self.


17 04 2008

You know what I love about myspace?

I love that everyone is ‘real’. You can find out a lot about a person by reading their blog, scanning through their comments, studying their bio, and looking at their friends.

Oh I know that everyone is lying. Just like we do all day everyday. We aren’t really ourselves, we only show people what we want them to see. We want them to see a person who is fearless and sexy and confident and cool–so we fill our myspace with sex surveys, bikin wearing super-models, the trendiest new music, and a whole lot of slang and cussing.

But you can learn a lot from all of the lies–from all of the pretending. Do we sign on myspace and pretend to party? Do we sign on and pretend to be a player, or a gangsta, or a goth, or whatever we happen to think is cool? Is it all pretend? All fake? Just a way to impress people and climb the social ladder??

I don’t mind. If that is who you really are. I love being real. I don’t expect non-christians to “clean up their mouth” around me. I’m not offend when people who don’t know Christ fill their life with sex and parties. It’s authentic. It’s who they are…

But is there any wonder why so many so-called “Christians” struggle to keep their relationship with God strong when they fill their life with sin? Jesus died to free our life from this stuff. His death freed us from slavery to sin. Do we even want to be free? Then why do we log onto myspace and pretend?

Maybe we’re not pretending when we log on…maybe we are pretending when we go to church? Maybe we pretend when we’re at church, go to camp, or are around our ‘Christian friends’?


17 04 2008

Rob Bell said, “The tradition then is painting, not making copies.” Wow! That is it! Christ left it up to us to paint Christianity for today. What does it look like? What colors should we use? What do we do if someone doesn’t like the picture? Do we paint to please ourselves? or others? or God? How do we flesh out the faith for today? How will we address the misconceptions people have about Christ? Why is it considered evil to keep painting–to keep creating? What do we have to fear?

I am convinced that the most beautiful picture is still Christ! We just have to paint it! The picture that will captivate the heart and arrest the soul is still one of God reaching out to man through his Son. I am not pleased by the fact that so many are repulsed by yesterday’s portrait! I refuse to make another dull copy and spend (or should I say ‘waste’) my life trying to convince others that it is beautiful!

God help me see the beauty in the story. Help me to paint in such a way that jaws drop and souls hunger to know you. The picture isn’t sacred, painting is! Create. Become.