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Breakfast thought [28 Jul 2008|01:40pm]

brassknight86
Right before I ate breakfast this morning, I asked for some spiritual insight. It is ironic how I can ask something assuming that it 'might' happen later in the day and find the prayer answered immediately, with certainly. I had barely finished praying before I thought of guilt. I have things to feel guilty about-- even terrible. Regrets, sure. A red-flag went up, since this seemed like a place I had been before. The words of my best friend came ringing out from the caverns of my memory:

"Guilt is a useless emotion"-Thom

It's something that I have contested him on, for the sake of contesting. Could it really be so useless? He and I went as far as to distinguish it from regret, which was entirely useless, and feeling repentant.

...something new came to mind this morning when I considered the focus of guilt versus a truer repentance. Guilt is, by nature, retroactively focused toward an event we are responsible for. A truer repentance is really proactively focused. It's something that, rather than abhorring that unchangeable past event, avoids at all costs committing the act again. True repentance precludes guilt. It prefers prevention to punishment.

It is easier said than done, however. We pay lip service to being free from punishment but it's actually a concept that mankind adores. We generally mix up our own desires with God's. We think that God punishes and that we want to avoid being punished. I don't think that's the truth of the matter. Search your feelings: would you rather take the punishment and keep indulging in the offense?

...I think that guilt is our way of punishing ourselves to bandage the cognitive dissonance between our ideologies and our behavior. Rather than resolve the dissonance, the guilt enables us to pretend we're living our ideals and that the deviance is an anomaly.
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Truncated from my journal [17 Jul 2008|10:31pm]

brassknight86
"Have any of you heard of uncertainty reduction theory?" the instructor asked us this morning in Organizational Communication. I raised my hand--I knew it from Interpersonal. The point was that employees would typically rather have BAD news than be left in the dark...would rather know they were being laid off in a month than waiting for the axe to drop. The worry inherent in this uncertainty is destructive to organizations. While I was meditating, I remembered uncertainty reduction theory. We want to be certain of things and that is justifiable.

We have an appetite for certainty. I happened to be getting hungry at that point, so I took the opportunity to compare my appetites. Is it not true that, day to day, hunger tells us to nourish our bodies? Is it not also true that, day by day, an unchecked stomach will destroy the body? At least we know when we are full when we begin to satiate our hunger. Certainty is something slippier. Sure, it is natural to seek useful information, even as much as we can get, but there is a point at which we run out of data. There is no more. We might know the bus is coming but we do not have a GPS unit in that bus. When we have gathered all the information that we reasonably/possibly can, then our appetite for certainty turns against us--- it goes unchecked and devours us.

And I'll give you people a little tip: you can't know it all. Certainty is beyond what we can fathom. If we do not hold that appetite in check, it can only take us AWAY from truth. Worry is the frustration of that craving for certainty. Worry breeds fear, bitterness and distraction.
I also came to the conclusion---- just like people can eat great quantities and NEVER EVER get the nutrition they need to stay healthy because all the junk they consume is totally lacking in vitamins----that craving to be totally certain about every little ambiguous moment can prevent us from being certain of the things we OUGHT to be certain of and, with Faith, we may indeed become sure of.

Any thoughts?
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A Thing to Think About [09 Jul 2008|09:09am]

brassknight86
When we talk about the Sacrifice of Jesus we fixate on the crucifixion. Certainly, Jesus's death was a part of his Sacrifice but I believe it is a mistake to characterize this act as the entire Sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus made the Sacrifice in the desert (Luke chapter 4) long before he walked the road to Golgotha. Carrying the cross was the conclusion. When the Adversary tempted him, Jesus Sacrificed his life not to death but to ministry--which his death was a key component in but not the ultimate point-of. If it were, why Rise?

Jesus's Sacrifice was abandoning the idea of a normal life to begin a ministry. He was rejected by his home town and the religious leaders but continued to live as a single, transient man doing the Father's work. Even if you do not believe Jesus is the Messiah, you cannot deny that this is a greater Sacrifice than just living the way he wanted until his crucifixion. Without the ministry, the crucifixion doesn't mean much.

What I am saying to you is this: serving God is a lifestyle, not a single great act. Am I correct?
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Epiphany [26 Sep 2007|08:08am]

brassknight86
...I just realized, I may have had an epiphany that could cause me to be ostricised from the larger Christian community. I was walking back from the music building thinking about belief and I said to myself "That's it"
I believe the secret to the Christian faith may actually lie in the teachings of an early, radical, Jewish-Christian teacher. His name was Jesus and he lived right around the beginning of this religion as we know it.
I've delayed revealing this revelation because I know it runs against the grain of our society. For example, this Jesus's teachings are in direct opposition to the branch of Christianity our esteemed President, George Bush, believes in-- you know, the one that condones bombing cities as long as you save unborn babies. It's also in opposition to some Christians' general ethic~~ which dictates that churches are better if they're large and contain people of similar origin. Not to mention, these teachings go against human nature in general.

Never the less, I think these teachings may be worth exploration and even enhance my faith. ...I never was one for big, bomb-loving, excuse making bodies anyway. I might have to radicalize my faith. I hope none of you mind if I start to beg to differ sometimes.

I feel like religion should be a spiritual thing. I know that's unconventional... but... oh well...
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Back to Spirituality... (an attempt to nutshell it... maybe?) [26 Aug 2007|03:10pm]

brassknight86
Last school year was set apart from the previous two years mostly because, by last fall, I had become much more sure of who I am and what makes me tick. Granted, my self-hood remained ambiguous even then and remains in process. Never the lesss, I started off last year not in a position of fear and searching but in a more settled state. As some of you may recall, I became a little more distant and self-sufficient. Of course, spirituality is at the center of all my development-- whether I know it or not. I needn't elaborate for pages... the topic weaves through this journal.
     Last year, I returned from Kinawind fairly confident that I was 'repaired' or something of that nature. I very quickly became enamored on this idea-- so much so that the focus of my life became NOT connecting with God and building spirituality but showing people that I was 'fixed' of all my problems from spring of 06. Clearly, and I don't care what you believe of our creator, that isn't what God had in mind. So... God and I had a more touch and go relationship. He touched me and I went in the directions that made sense to me at the time.

That brings us to this May-- I knew I would be working at Christian camp ...
This morning, God knew I was coming to UUMC. Two of my favorite hymns were played; the sermon? It was about 'standing up straight'.
After my three weeks of doldrums and reticience, I'm ready to stand tall again. I pray the same for you and ask that you pray to God on my behalf for it. It, in this case, being whatever it takes to make me present with God.

...hey... I should post this to the Wesley_Lounge, shouldn't I?
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Let's Get It Started In Here [19 Apr 2007|04:26pm]

poor_cinderalex
This community has been inactive for far too long. I am here to revive the discussion.

So here's a question:

How do you pray?

ETA: Certainly, depending on how you define prayer, you could, even should, always be praying, in everything that you do. But I know that I'm not usually consciously directing my words and actions towards God. (Maybe I should work on that. ;)) What I'm asking is this: when you decide to communicate something to God, how do you do that?

Do you pray with words? Your own words or Jesus' or a psalmist's? Loudly? In a whisper? Inside your head? Do you write? Or sing? Or dance? Or play an instrument? Do you go for a walk? Do you light a candle or dribble a basketball? Do you paint? Do you pray while you drive? Before you eat? In bed at night? Do you read the bible? Do you clear your mind and meditate?
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Testing the Waters... [12 Feb 2007|10:36pm]

brassknight86
Here's a broad discussion question:

How do we avoid complacency and ineffectuality as Christians?

That can open a number of doors and I purposely will not elaborate. Let's see some signs of life.
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In a different tense... [31 Jan 2007|08:51am]

brassknight86
Jesus said something wise once, which came to be called the Golden Rule. It's not a principle unique to Christianity--- but something central to it.

"Do unto others as you would have done unto you." Treat people how you would like to be treated... in the future.


How about this, though: "Do unto others as you would have ^had^ done unto you."

I only changed the tense, you see--- now it's how you would prefer to be treated in the past. Think a second... it's a little more specific. Now there's no hypothetical because that is the way you actually prefer to be treated under those circumstances--what-ifs aside. That doesn't work in all cases
BUT
...how many times do we see people struggling through something and think (or even say) "I had to go through that too... welcome to the school of hard-knocks" or "yeah... I dealt with that too... good luck with all that" or "Quit whining... it will toughen you up." Didn't we wish, at the time, that someone would have coddled us a little? Or didn't someone, perhaps?
 
Treat others both how you would want to be treated (in the future) and how you wanted to be treated when times were hard for you in the past.


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Drifters Club (baby) [19 Jan 2007|01:34pm]

brassknight86
*NOTE: Any references to the OED are not assaults on anyone's intelligience, just the exercise of a new found appreciation for word choice. Call it me being a more intense English major.

I happened to write a meeting down on the wrong date--- and so found myself at 300 Bessey Hall without cause. On the walk back to Old Hort to get my bike, the song "Trademark" by Reliant K shuffled to the surface (pun intended... I have an iPod shuffle). It's a song about what I have come to call 'the drift'.
At first I was tempted to define the drift  as a  'movement of prodigality' (in reference to the prodigal son) but that refers more to extravegancies in ones material means and I don't mean that--- though that might find its place in some people's drift. I'm refering to the push-pull we experiene between spiritual vagrancy  (not to be confused with 'vagrant' the noun but to imply our affair with vagrantism ITESELF) and striving for the divine.

I think that everyone can agree that there is never a spiritual balance point of any kind--- some state of spirituality that can remain stagnantly good. The closest is the *dogmatic ignorance of possibilities that you find in atheism... or a coma. There's often more to be learned from a comatose person (about listening, at the very least). <<<that was meant light-heartedly, even though it's true. In any case, there is no balance point: it's like a car whose alignment is off. There's a little or a LOT of weave going on during any give name (given day... I need a break... woo... darn this work!! lol). Humans are not perfect nor stable.

* I promised myself I would not rant on larger issues... it's just too much... lol...

Seriously, before I get onto a passionate tangent, I would like to state for the record that it is natural and inecapable to be continuously drfiting between the lines on the road. I think that best thing we can do for each other is.... talk through it!!! 

So, all tangents aside,... *bangs gavel* Welcome to the drifters club!!! Any comments?
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Dove on the shoulder... [17 Jan 2007|09:44am]

brassknight86
[ mood | contemplative ]

We all do it. Jesus did try to warn us, in the parable of the sower, that we would sometimes be "choked by the worries and cares of the world" as if by weeds. I'm the same as anyone else and my focus drifts away from Spiritual matters (sometimes for long periods of time) only to come back during an over-long dinner prayer... hoping the connection isn't lost.

In this way and others, Faith can become ambiguous for us (I'm usually not sure how to define it, so I'll leave you to do that, reader). Even in the presence of soul, intellect and emotion... we are still in animal bodies, walking through a buzzing world of stimuli---and 'things to do'. It's like swimming under-water in a murky river--- even with a diving mask, one see mostly shadows of this spiritual universe. Or perhaps it's like a foggy night in an unfamiliar place--- an unsearched patch of woods or swamp-- where from moment to moment the range of our vision is 10 feet,  30 feet, 10 again, and six the next as the mist gobbles up the air and then disperses again.

A friend and I were talking about Faith and I mentioned something about a 'clear moment'. My friend was almost offended at first and stated that she had never had that clear moment where she became Christian. I wonder if I surprised her when I said "me niether... not that moment". Infact, I'm skeptical of those testimonials. I don't remember a clear, lightning bolt moment where I first became Christian. I didn't see the Dove of the Spirit descend from heaven. For me, it was a few months later when I woke up one morning and realized that the Spirit had come down. Veiled in the sense, swimming in the  murky water, hidden behind the fog.... I didn't quite know it was happening. I knew something was happening, but it was only later that I achieved a quiet and ordinary moment of clarity where I went

"I'm a REAL Christian now... as of a couple months ago, I suppose... I guess being re-born can be like being born--- you don't really remember."

So what is the clear moment I mentioned? I had a moment in mind. It isn't the Dove descending from heaven moment. Those happen all the time but we're like octopi missing a meteor shower... muscling open clams beneath the surface of the ocean. My clear moment wasn't seeing the Dove descend....
My moment was glancing at my shoulder and seeing the Dove perched there... with a pile of poop underneath that said "Yeah....... I've been coming here for a while now... .... coo!"

One night at Pentwater, I searched outer space for God... I searched a lake Michigan beach. I opened my senses to God...
...and it was probably my senses that distracted me. God can come through the senses, but he doesn't live in them.
It was later that night that I finally prayed "God... if you're not there then I'm going to just live and die thinking that you are..."

...and it was at that moment that the strangest look came across a certain peer minister's face... and he asked me to pray.
"Oh" I thought "That would be God... and he wants me to talk back!"
(it was as if a dove came and pooped on Nick's head... haha...)

So let's open up the lines: does anyone else have a Dove-on-the-shoulder-moment when you realized that God was already 'in da house?'....

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Stimulating Discussion Tonight... [11 Dec 2006|09:15pm]

brassknight86
Rather than a rant, I'm going to take a non-directive tactic tonight and encourage you all to volley some thoughts. Granted, some may be in the midst of finals... this should be up long enough for everyone to take a good crack at.

What's 'The Devil' mean to you?

Some brief thoughts: When I slowly lost the belief in a singular person-like entity that was the devil, I never really replaced my trite "devil-concept" with a more sophisticated one. I lost a great degree of vigilance against "evil" (after all... what was evil?)
Recently, I've decided that I believe in the devil as a subversive consciousness that pervades space--- but not time. If such a consciousness were omnipresent in time--- assuming that God brings balance to all the universe--- it would see it's quest to distract humanity as pointless. Being present only in space, this corrosive and conscious force can cling to a sliver of doubt--- and take many of us down with it.

Although the idea of a devil with horns is trite, I think that the personification of this pervasive force may help us to seperate it from ourselves (at least temporarily). It also fosters less of a sense of "I'm not good enough" (and subsequent despair) when we stop to think that there might be a subversive force we need to guard against. I'm saying that we're all capable of being on good behavior for stretches of time, but, if there really is this evil and pervasive force that might cause us to falter, we should be working hard to be aware of the effects (bad fruit)  it might have. (As opposed to the effects of God's consciousness, which are fruits of the spirit... yummy!)

Does that make any sense?


Don't be shy ^^
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Free-will vs. Predestination? Please... wrong on both counts... [08 Dec 2006|12:38am]

brassknight86
Let me spin this for you... I'll just start from my meditation today and not even try to be overly philosophical.... maybe ;)

Here are two things that get in the way of prayer: getting too task oriented and being afraid of appearing pious. The second of these things gets in the way of other things, even though that awareness keeps us from hypocracy (kind of like something that is too often in excess).  Too few times, I think, do we consider prayer from a relationship orientation. It occurred to me a week or so ago that, much like men who under-value small talk in their relationships, we under-value prayer in the day to day. We feel like we need a reason. The reason to pray is TO pray... relationship health is in those small and mundane conversations that happen regularly. It's the fact that we engage God in a thought dialogue that truly matters... .... ...

As for worry of piousness? It's always good to be aware of your own motives and of the way we're communicating Christ to others. However, not being able to pray in front of one's roomate would be ridiculous!!! Especially when your roomate is as understanding as mine! Yet, I've found myself limiting my prayers to a very low profile sort... more than just quiet, but invisible or non-existant. Even after exposing him to TOM VICTOR, of all people, I continued a covert prayer life in the presence of my Christian roomate.
Today, I decided I needed some serious prayer time. It start off very good--- with reinforcing what I thought about relationship oriented prayer... making prayers as if I was taking spiritual vitamins---- and I was getting down to business when I felt myself drifting more and more. I started praying out loud at first, but I was tired and eventually conked out on the floor, still sitting cross legged. I woke from my stupor just as my roomate walked in. So... I told him the truth. I went as far as to reflect to him about my prayer attitude. Almost awkwardly... not with pious confidence but with frank feelings. I was communicating my actual prayer attitude... it was not a pious show, it was an honest utterance. Something in my heart was right after this.

This was all more fresh in my mind earlier, but I had to go to work. However, I believe I'm locating many of the main points. I'm going to lay this really heavy one on you now because I just can't contain it. This whole debate about free-will versus pre-destination. For those who believe in God's plan, the notion that God would 'play dice with the universe' along with our hearts and minds is unacceptable. Indeed, I've seen the uncanny in action many times. So, I have to believe in God's control and interation. However... I'm no Calvinist. I don't believe people are 'pre-destined' to be saved--- that means others are predistined not to. Plus, that takes all the challenge out of the Great Comission. Jesus didn't say "Go find those who are already predestined to understand my message." Nope... "go and make disciples of all nations."  I certainly can't believe that God has total mind control of us... or else He's much more cruel than we've given him credit for. If He caused us to think the way we do (That is, if God 'predistined' our thoughts for understanding)  then wouldn't He make our thoughts pure? This notion that God predestines certain people for understanding is a great way to shirk the call to discipleship......

...and it's based on the fallacy that God operates IN time space when he obviously operates AROUND time space. All time is at once to God, one unit. Past present future. He's everlasting because his beginning and end and middle are all one point, at least I think so. He's TIMELESS!!! So, the entire concept of a PRE destiny seems misleading to me. It takes away the "live" notion of the universe--- the universe as interactive. It basically places us in a closed universe. *buzzer* Open universe...
If God were not interactive then prayer would be POINTLESS. We'd be pre-programmed and have no need for any of thisGod-relationship stuff. We certainly couldn't expect our prayers to be GRANTED when everything is already set. Even if one were to argue that "the prayers were predestined..."... I'd tell them that amounts to the same: prayers predestined to not be answered. Why pray? Why would a Calvinist pray at all? (well... besides for the display...)

This archaic concept of the predestined, along with the notion of free-will resulting in chaos, will/should never be an issue. I came to a unified theory today... one that explains a little more than my belief in the 'divine nudge' of God on  the mind (inputs to the system that's already going... not that I don't believe in that, but that's just part of it... from what I see... not that I'M God... right God?). (I had this worded better before... stay with me....)

The interaction between your consciousness (will) and God's consciousness (will)  is your destiny. God's will is united with the will of all other people's consciousnesses...  He is the unifying consciousness. That's why prayer is for real--- it's not just a letter to God, it's the expression of your DESTINY in the spiritual realm. It's being meta-reflective on the dialogue that is actually going on between God's universe and you as an entity with a SOUL. I could expand, but I think I'll not clutter that with words.....

...and I've rediscovered why I should have been reading my Bible all along. You knew that would happen: someone made for texts and spiritualilty. I don't remember if I was reading when I had the revelation. I believe I was. It was actually a vagrant thought that gave birth to the epiphany. It was the thought that Isaiah's prophesies of Jesus were not predestination!!! Yes... how blasphemous, right?

How dare I suggest that Jesus have an awareness of those scriptures, right? He's supposed to be fulfilling them in a vacuume according to the mind-set of predestination. Otherwise, wouldn't his knowledge of the scriptures confound the results? Couldn't Jesus very well have read the scriptures and been like "This is what the Messiah is supposed to do and be... I'll just follow the script". After all, his folks could have told him about a remarkable birth (perhaps) and from there he could have decided "I'm going to be the Messiah". In that case, wouldn't Jesus be consciously choosing to be the Messiah?

You bet your sweet butt it is!!!  I'm about to jump out of my skin I'm so excited. I thought "Couldn't Jesus have just done what the Messiah was supposed to do based on what he read?" Then it dawned on me: if you follow the recipe you don't get a copy, you get the real thing, folks. Jesus followed the Messiah recipe... therefore he became the Messiah. No one else did it right... he chose the path, he dialogued with God daily, he did all of it inspite of knowing that it meant SUFFERING. God saw it happening all at once and made sure it all worked out: Isaiah, a sinful Israeal, a girl named Mary.... rag-tag fisherman.
Jesus's interaction with God the Father and His Holy Word is what made him the Messiah... destiny in a relationship with God.

*wraps up quickly*

And there's only reason that this is going to be scary to you: it means that your interaction with the father is your destiny. We niether are free from God's consciousness nor are we simply along for some cosmic ride. It's a relationship that determines our destiny.
.....this is a good time to apply that heavenly Mother model, eh Alex?

One last thing: how am I possible going to justify this notion that the flow of destiny could have been mutual between Isaiah's text and Christ's life (not predistination, but God's simultaneous reality where the text is aware of Jesus's doings and Jesus is aware of the text's implications) ?

My name sake hit this one on the head, of course!!!

John 1:1 --- In the beginning, the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God....

(pssssst: he IS the Word!)
Woo... Holy Spirit tingles... yay...
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give thanks [04 Dec 2006|10:48am]

i_like_birdss
Dear God,

Thank you. I am sorry that I have been too busy for you. I know it is a lame excuse but sometimes
things happen and I push you aside for a few days.

Love, One of the coolest kids on the block




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The Ministirial Continuum (1... I guess) [02 Dec 2006|03:10pm]

brassknight86
Most of those who read this are going to be familiar with Christian teachings, and following such philosophies as well. Coming from this mindset, there is an understanding that those who call themself Christian are asked to produce the evidence of this in some way. The understanding may be only, however, that there is SOME way that the fact of one's 'Christianity' is going to become evident. From there a number of opinions bubble to the surface--- some arising from things Christ said himself and others coming from (seriously) God knows where. I'll be the first to tell you that not everything you see in a church has anything to do with Christ.... in any institution representing something higher there is an amount of 'noise' created by human short comings, confusion and... all manner of what nots. Example... Higher concept: Stable Government Noise: Politics and parties. The noise, however, is a tagnent for the purposes of this 'musing' of mine (not really an essay nor an article but a think session) . The noise of Religion is one excuse that non-Religious people use as an excuse to deny any sense of spirituality... which to me is like  denying that  you have a body because you're dissatisfied with healthcare or have been mistreated by a hospital.

Get in line... hospitals have screwed me over....... and 'churches' have done that to people too. It's not God's fault we screw up church any more than it's Hippocrates's fault health care is messed up. The primary difference between issues of health care and those of spiritual care is that we as citizens are not really part of the hospital/clinic system anyway. As Christians we are actually part of *tada* Christ's church. [God... I know you're in here... I hope I'm doing this right...] Though that seemed like a tangent to me at first... I think its a useful illustration. "I'm not a doctor or nurse... what the heck do I have to do with health-care?" Well... probably nothing. Society picks these people--- doctors, nurses, specialists--- along strict categorical lines. It's relatively rigid compared to the actual people who fulfill these roles and are complex human beings. But, though religions might be man-made attempts at spiritual institutions (and the best we got, ladies and gents), the actual spiritual realm itself is NOT a man-made institution---- that's God made and operates according to the rules of his infinity.

An actual thesis: I belive pretty firmly that God does not determine your role based on strict categorical lines. Let's not limit Him that way... God is not binary like that. He doesn't say "Minister here... Lay-person over there".

Let's back this up a little--- where the heck have I been all this time? I'm noticeably missing from LiveJournal, but especially from this lounge. This is explainable in part by the recognition, on my part, of what I would show by emptying my thoughts here. I would show that I was called by God and He had a role for me. I've known this for some time. I'm also not stupid--- that means responsibility. Like any man, I'm going to gravitate toward ways of showing my 'Christianity' that seem comfortable for me. In other words, I'm a victum of the 'current' as I call it. I don't even totally understand it myself, so I won't even try. The current is the way we drift when we know that going against the current is more rewarding but takes effort. The truth about life might be against the current (if you'll excuse my important tangent). That doesn't mean that dissenters are the future, or conservatives either... that means that people who pride themselves on being 'liberal' are just following that current and conservatives another. Either way, they're doing what's become comfortable for them and not really reaching for truth. Sorry, habitual liberals. If it makes you feel any better, I think you're closer than the habitual conservatives  (personal opinion).  (tangent concluded...)

The point is, we have this natural tendency. I would have rather maintained the very loose personna that I'd adopted coming out of highschool. That meant not coming here and revealing to everyone that deep inside of me was someone who thought deep thoughts about spirituality and had opinions and... really shouldn't be so messed up. To be brief, I'd done a good job of lowering the bar for myself and I wasn't about to get in here and raise the bar up. I used the excuse of not wanting to make anyone feel like they didn't have a right to this space. I watched the space go unused though--- I didn't do anything to stimulate discussion. I didn't poke Alex about starting discussion either *jabs Alex*.  This group is, perhaps, just one example,  but a particularly good one for me... all things considered. This is the place where I should have shown evidence not just of Christianity but of discipleship: acting according not only to general principles but a distinctive call into God's service. (wow... that's a brand new definition... but I like it awfully well!!!)  Lemme try this... and these are not supposed to read like truth, but see if they ring true:

Christianity: Behaving according to what Jesus told all of us.
Discipleship: Behaving according to what the Holy Spirit is telling YOU.

Challenge: people frequently will justify their own drift over what the Spirit is telling them... hence, I find myself on another important tangent (which I need to badger myself about) which is the notion of spiritual discipline. There's a lot of noise in our own heads... and prayer and study are the key to getting the garbage out of the way.

However, I meant to approach an important escape strategy we use to ignore the urgings of the Spirit: a binary model of ministry. *hiss* Oh you know what I mean--- clergy over here and lay-people over there. The pastor is supposed to fit neatly into a particular personna and the rest of us are just people who do whatever we want because... we're just normal people. This has very little to do with the priesthood Jesus laid out... because Jesus never laid one out at all!!! When he gathered up the most educated religious leaders he... no... actually he didn't do that. He went and got some FISHERMAN and taught them about what it meant to live the followers life. Infact, Jesus did more to THROW DOWN a binary structure of ministry than support it. The temple curtain was torn, folks. Ministry is not binary--- and not so much Christianity in general either, though that's a topic for another day. I would have ranted here in October about the Wells hall nuts, actually... and no doubt I'll do that in the spring. Wussies can't handle this weather, I guess.

The convenient way of thinking is to see people who are called and people who are not called. "Pastor X is called by God... I'm not very much like him so I must not be." "I don't know if I could live that lifestyle... I guess I'm a 'lay-person'". I want to take the term lay-ministry and throw it away, honestly. I know that's very Quaker of me, but you'll  get used to it. Take it and throw it away... that makes it sound like you're a moonlight minister or something. That sounds like someone who volunteers to roof houses on mission trip and comes home and says "I'm not a roofer, it was just a mission trip." I respect those who are not called into seminary and into local parishes... and other forms of more intense involvement, but I want to take the term of "lay ministry" and throw it away. Keep the concept, but get rid of that escape hatch term!!!!! That's like saying discipleship is a night-job. I can't stand that... especially since I BOUGHT INTO IT. I might not be called to be 'ordained' (though I probably am, and I'm going to have to accept that...), and most of you probably won't be called to be 'ordained'.... but you're ordained by God for something. You're not night-job disciples if you're disciples at all. The role of disciple is no night-job.  (I didn't expect to attack the term lay ministry, but okay... that's another good one, Father... it is an escape term. Not an escape term for those who are answering a call, but for those who know their call is more than they've done...) Let's take a jump here:

By imposing a binary model (minister/non-minister) people can justify not achieving God's discipleship goals for them. Go ahead and grumble, I can hear it--- 'are you saying that God wants to make us do something, cuz I dunno if I'm comfortable with that.' Take a number... welcome to humanity. God loves you too much not to have goals for you. I wouldn't be in college if my dad hadn't pushed me. I thought it was going to be too hard leaving home and I was scared. Don't you dare grumble about being pushed before you see what God can do! (whoa... dude... yes... ).  I thank the Good Lord every day that He gave me a dad who wouldn't let me vascilate about pursuing an education.
And not everyone who goes to college finishes college for the same reason or does post-graduate work to the same extent and the same area. It's complex. How much more complex is God's call to discipleship. Certainly more than a "pastor/lay-person" model.

To sum it up (since I'm getting wordy) I think denying the continuum of ministry possibilities and roles is a pressing issue. It's one that I mean to expand upon... next time.

(Well, I suppose it was ambitious to try to cover this in one entry... if I was going to work in those oh-so tasty tangents. I was surprised by the 'quit your whining' tangent. I didn't see that coming... I think it was aimed at myself. Infact, I'm sure of it... but take heed!!! Yes... take heed...)
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The Universe [15 Oct 2006|05:01pm]

brassknight86
I think about this pretty frequently, and then neglect to say anything about it. It's only my belief abou how God runs the whole universe (to put it ironically).

I know many of my contemporaries are under the impression that God has one plan for the world- a grand plan, with every detail sketched out. Every move you make pre-determined... every interaction carefully scripted.

And then we run into questions like "Why would God let this happen" "Why did God let sin come into existance?" "When are things going to get better? Why is God demanding this pain?"

Others of my contemporaries see the universe as chaotic. Outside of natural forces, its a free for all, right? Just playing out however... not random but as close as it gets. It's so much easier to think of it that way, at least on the mental level. Then, everything is subjective and all at once nothing is wrong. It's intoxicating... and whatever paradigm you engineer is fine for you. It's all chaos...

How can I put this simply? NO. None of that...  I can't believe that a scripted universe turned out this way. I cannot... this universe is not carefully scripted to every last detail... I can't swallow it. Not with all the relationships going on: us with each other, us with God, us with ourselves. That sounds like a lack of faith, doesn't it? Oh yeah... but I can't believe in the chaos either. Why?

Because God keeps pulling things out. He balances the equation. He makes it work. So, my faith is in God... this is not chaos!!!

And it is NOT orchestrated note for note. Can we really support that paradigm and expect people to believe it when all things are considered? We do sometimes... that there is one way!!!  I believe that only one way happens. If the universe is one continuous event, then there is only one path it is pursuing... which is the path that it IS following. That doesn't mean there weren't possibilities. Chew on this: have you wondered if the ruin of the universe was possible? Or how about the damnation of all people for sin. Or this: that it was possible we'd be saved from sin by never coming into it. Or take your pick of alternate fates... weren't the possible?
Every time Duke Ellington's band started to play, wasn't it possible that something would go terribly wrong? That Cutie would blow sour or that nanton would collapse... or what have you? Everytime... and what's more, Ellington never had the notes written out... not every one of them... not EVERY one of them...

Do you hear me? Improvised. And yet, not chaos... the chords were always laid out in advance. The direction, and even the theme were carefully written. The Duke was a genius and a pimp to his core... and isn't God infinately greater than even Duke Ellington? What I'm saying is that I believe the universe has some of this in it:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~[X number of bars]~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The wavy line... where the musicians play for the director. Why else are we here but to be unique and to effect the score in our own way? Why else are we hear but to interact, react, and be impressed by creation and each other?
When things work out, sometimes we think that "that's the way things were meant to be". Well, now that it's happened... yes, it is. But how many infinate paths could have led to that moment? How many other possible scenarios could have happened if a different path were taken? Sounds like chaos...

That's why my faith is in God as the surpreme band leader... even better than a deaf Beethoven frantically waving his baton, God can LAY HIS FINGERS TO THE IVORY like Basie, Ellington, or Hancock. I believe in a God who is allowing for this grand riff break (we call it life) and continuously interacting with it to produce outcomes. I don't think He had it all figured out to every detail at some point before--- I think from God's side of time, everything is 'during' anyway. --- that's far too linear for me!!! I believe God is interacting with creation now... and that we do screw things up and God's inputs make things to work out in uncanny ways. Why else does prayer work? Where is inspiration without this interplay?

If I might be bold, life isn't beautiful if it isn't ALIVE in time space... is it? No no...
And what of prophesy? That boggles my mind... it's a show of how much control God can really have. The chords are laid out... it's chilling.

I take it by now you've had enough of my ranting. I just think that it's a stronger faith that can accept that there is only a cue sheet and that God STILL pulls things off. If it is true, then that's a credit to a LIVING God who's much more than a painter who makes his creation and sits back to admire it. He lives in it, just like the Duke was inseperable from his art.
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explore [05 Oct 2006|02:07am]

redial913
[ mood | calm ]

I am exploring different options to seek more positive additions to my life. I never realized that there are so many different people who share my same views and what others can consider not a proper way of looking at life.But now I know I am sane. Thanks.

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I don't care if I suck... [26 Sep 2006|12:01am]

brassknight86
I always promised myself I would never take over this community and use it as a personal sounding board...

...that being said, it needs some stimulating, and I think all of you need to hear me make a declaration tonight: I don't care if I suck. Now if that isn't a revelation, I don't know what is. 

In May of this year, I heard God's call to be a worship leader for the Wesley Foundation. I had no idea it would actually happen--- nor that things would turn out quite the way they are. There is still a long way to go, and worries and cares are piling up. It seems like just when we're gaining some momentum something is thrown in my face.

Exactly a week ago, I decided I needed to go in a different direction for the sake of the band. I put down my trumpet and decided to pick up bass. I practiced a few times by myself and everything was going along swimmingly. Tonight, my amp refused to work for two hours. I thought I had a bad cord, and so I tried every cord in the church. No, it was indeed the amp... but by the grace of God I got it to work right before rehearsal started. I was not very vocal leader tonight, though. As always, I just wanted things to fall into place. I try to be minimalist and avoid being in people's faces. I just wanted to play the bass and see how things went. But it wasn't tuned to the piano, and the piano player decided to bring her own music so I hadn't a think to read off of. I was shooting in the dark the whole time... and I heard about it too. It did not go unnoticed. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get anything to come out right. 
I finally did get to practice a little before I made a tear filled journey home... I had a Tom Izzo day dream (I always have those when I pass Breslin center). I wished that things had gone better. I wished that God hadn't called me at all. I tried to be minimalist and so I ended up not having enough energy. I tried playing a new instrument because I thought it would be better for the band and I messed things up. I tried to be a good steward, so I coiled up all the cords I had tried--- and then some. And when I tried to lay my burdens down on a friend, I was told that I was being 'me me me'.

Well, maybe I was... but holding my feelings in sure doesn't help. I explode later, and many can testify to it. So what am I to do?

I am to faithfully suck at bass, like I was called to do. I am to endure the sour looks... and with a smile on my face. Why? Because I told God I would do this... and its about HIM. That's the real Heart of Worship. I don't care if I suck--- at bass or at being a leader or any of that. I'm going to do what was asked of me... and I'm going to invite everyone to join me and I don't care if we're out of tune and sound awful. I think we should be beyond such worldly notions of what sounds good.

I think if we're trying our best, that sounds like praise to God. So, I don't care... I'm going to do my thing, the way I was asked to. That's my new philosophy... and I'm not going to let anyone stop me from praising God in front of that tiny congregation. 

I don't care if I suck... you should be able to see that I love God even more than music. And I hope I do.
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Look! It's a Question! [24 Apr 2006|03:07pm]

poor_cinderalex
[ mood | expectantly awaiting stories! ]

I remembered suddenly how much I enjoyed asking questions on this community. So, here's a new one!

What's your favorite Bible story? (And when I say story I mean story, like I want plot here, people. None of this favorite, most inspirational verse stuff.)

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Faith and Homosexuality - An Update [17 Apr 2006|09:35am]

kra_tos
A few weeks ago, I wrote here about my struggle between my faith and homosexuality. I sent a copy of what I said here to the college ministry pastor at my church. Below is his response.

Brian, what is up? Not too much here. Sorry it has taken me so long to
get back to you. With being out of town and then Easter coming up we
are busy as ever here.

Thanks for being willing to open this discussion with me. It has been
great having you as part of our college ministry, and this will in no
way impact my view of you, or the way I relate to you.

You mentioned that you aren't sure if homosexuality is sin, but even if
it is "Romans 6:23 tells us, "For the wages of sin is death, but the
gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord." Which is true,
all sin leads to death, and Christ's death and resurrection has paid the
penalty of that sin and offers us eternal life, and those who embrace
that truth can have life eternally. But Christ's death on the cross is
also not a free pass for us to live in sin (Romans 6:1-2).

One of the things we strive to do at NorthRidge Church is teach and
adhere to the clear truths of scripture. One of these truths is that
the practice of a homosexual lifestyle is contrary to God's will. It is
not bigger or worse than other sins, but it is living apart from what
God has laid out for us.

All people are welcome to come and worship with us. The doors are open
for all to worship and to hear our Pastor speak God's truth. There are
no barriers-to-entry for worship. There are no security guards who
check us at the door against a list of 'OK sins' and 'not OK' sins.

Sin is simply us living independently from God and living out of His
will. As Christians, we are called to lovingly, directly, and
confidentially confront known sin that we see in others who profess to
be Christians. If I have a known drug addiction problem, I should
expect to be challenged and offered help to reject and overcome this
sin. If I have a known sexual issue outside of my marriage, I should
expect the same. If I have a known lifestyle that is scripturally
wrong, I should expect the same. Scripture commands Christians to love
one another and to hold each other accountable for the way we reflect
Jesus Christ to the unsaved world.

NorthRidge Church will not bring someone into membership if there is
known sin in her/his life. We will seek to lovingly reconcile the
person to an appropriate life in Christ where she/he can then experience
the full blessings of a God-honoring life. We truly love the person;
we reject the sin.

I encourage you to attend and worship with us at the college ministry
and NorthRidge Church. We will continue to speak God's truth to every
part of our lives.

If you have any questions or comments do not hesitate to ask.
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How it all plays out... [27 Mar 2006|09:59pm]

brassknight86
You know, everyone once and a while I notice how God's plan might be making sense.

Do any of you have times when you've looked back and seen how maybe God was coordinating and working hard to make sure that no matter what you did things would have a chance to work out? Have you ever felt like God was making sure that you had every chance to over come what seemed insurmountable?
Or, just a time when you saw that maybe God had a sense of the ironic- in a good way...?

Please, share. Think about how the plan might be playing out...

As for me, I am blessed to know that people tend to love me more than myself, and God has given me lots of them and they're all the best kind.
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