Wednesday, January 05, 2005

I've moved

My blog has moved to a typepad address.
Click here for my new home And please update your address books.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Cyberspace Influenza and Frankenstein

Warning: The following contains musings filled with angst.

Two days ago my computer crashed. A virus of some sort. Right now it’s in bed recovering from some sort of cyberspace influenza. (I am using a loner computer, if you are wondering). The tech guys at work have spent endless hours rebuilding it – a huge source of frustration for the two of them and for me. They are currently putting it through a technological quarantine.
Because if the virus, I have gotten very little work done, which is also frustrating.

I am amazed at how dependent we are on technology.

I wonder if the amount of dependence we have upon technology is healthy or unhealthy. I am not certain.
Computers are wonderfully helpful and beneficial, but so much of what I do is dependent upon my computer: email, research capabilities, important Pierced files, my sermon study notes and papers, etc. I wonder if we’ve all gone a bit overboard. (Honestly, how many of us function normally for a week without our trusty computers?)

This reminds me: Megan bought me Mary Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein for Christmas. Shelley explores the concept of technology and the ongoing ethical question, “Just because we are capable of doing certain things with technology, does it mean that we should?” (If you’ve never read the book, here is the gist: scientist Dr. Frankenstein technologically creates the now-famous green monster; eventually it turns on him and seeks to end Dr. Frankenstein’s life….hence the phrase “I think I’ve created a monster.”) The scientist ‘plays God’ by creating life, which, at first, seemed like a great idea, but eventually turned on him in the end (sounds similar to cloning, stem-cell research and the plot to I, Robot, doesn’t it?)

If you’ve haven’t read this novel before, you should…

Where is the balance in our technological capabilities?

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Liturgy

Megan and I attended another church this morning. We attended Gateway Presbyterian, a small traditional and liturgical Reformed community that meets near Garden of the Gods. We went to hear Bryan Devonshire preach. Bryan attends Pierced and one of the guys I mentor. He works as the part-time youth pastor at Gateway and he was given the opportunity to preach his first sermon. He spoke on the times when God takes us into the desert, not to punish us, but to show us his love. I was so proud of him. He did a fabulous job. I was smiling from ear to ear the entire service!

There was a great deal of liturgy involved in the service, which was a nice welcomed change. Working at a contemporary church there are not many opportunities for partaking in liturgy. Responsive readings, hymns, confession of faith and partaking in the Sacrament of Communion. It was, at first, awkward, but by the middle of the service I realized just how refreshing it was to be involved in liturgical practices. It was a great reminder that this God we serve is not a new fad. Liturgy has a way of reminding me that God has been served by Christ followers all over the world for thousands of years. It reminds me that there is a “great cloud of witnesses” that has gone before us and continues to encourage me in our journey to pursue Him with our entire hearts.

Friday, December 31, 2004

Blogging from a restaurant booth

We're wireless. It looks us a while, but we did it.
I'm sitting in Einstein's Bagel Shop using our new WiFi card (Einstein's is one of the few places in the Springs that offers free WiFi).

It's not that we're trying to keep up technologically with the Jones -- its just that we get a lot more work done...and its a lot more fun.

I feel like grabbing a microphone and singing "I love technology..." like Kip did at his wedding at the end of Napoleon Dynamite.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Musings from the Movies: the Incredibles



The holidays are a time for an important Briggs family tradition: going to the movies. The past week we have watched Napoleon Dynamite, The Aviator and The Incredibles.

We bought the ‘Nap Dyn’ DVD and watched it together. (My parents thought it was the biggest waste of two hours, but Alan and Megan and I loved it, of course).
The Aviator was an historically accurate movie about the legendary Howard Hughes of TWA and his problem with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). DiCaprio does a great job playing Hughes.
And, the Incredibles, another Pixar creation, is about a family of Superheroes working underground.

Not to think too philosophically about a Pixar movie, but my family and I had a great conversation about the deeper meaning of the cartoon.

A few thoughts (this will make sense only if you have seen it):

1. How many men in America feel what Bob Parr (aka Mr. Incredible) felt when he was forced out of his superhero job into selling insurance policies). A man ‘trapped’ in cubicle-land bored, under-challenged, under-stimulated and directionless. I think there are some John Eldredge-Wild At Heart undertones in this movie. When Bob went back to being Mr. Incredible he had the glimmer back in his eyes, he had a bounce in his step, he loved his wife and his family deeper, etc. He was unleashed for what he was created for!

2. Think about the family and each one of their superhero powers: Bob’s wife Helen (aka ElastiGirl) was flexible and would manipulate her way out of any situation. Their son Dash could run away from any dangerous situation. Violent had the power to become invisible and to put up a force field of protection (a wall) against people who could potentially harm her. How many of us possession “superhero gifts” like this? How many of us feel under-challenged and unmotivated in life like Bob Parr. How many of us manipulate situations so we aren’t hurt like Helen did? How many us run away from harmful situations as fast as we can like Dash? And how many of us feel invisible, as if nobody notices us or we put up a wall and protect ourselves when someone might hurt us?

3. My dad made a good point. When these superhero “gifts” were used, it was not all bad. When used correctly they were beneficial for the greater good. All of the gifts used correctly were wonderful, but when they were not used or where used incorrectly there were consequences. How often does the church discourage people from using their special “gifts” or abused those gifts in ways that are damaging or harmful?

4. Bob’s famous line to Buddy (aka “Syndrome Man”) was: “Get lost kid. I work best alone.” How many of us embrace the American “rugged individualism” and it hurts us in the end? Community is always the key to depth and richness in life…

From the ski slopes to the movie theatre, God taught me a lot of the holiday break.

Any other thoughts from the blogosphere?

Thursday, December 23, 2004

What God Taught Me On the Slopes



On Tuesday and Wednesday, Megan and I (along with her parents) went skiing at Copper Mountain. It’s was great to hit the slopes with family. We enjoyed our time cruising down the white stuff for two days (despite the bitter cold yesterday).

As we were riding up the chair lift on Tuesday, I noticed a few runs that were closed. At the beginning of each closed run were a few poles with rope, fluorescent orange flags hanging off the rope signaling that this run is off limits and a sign that reads Run Closed: No Ski Zone. On one particular run I noticed the snow blowers were making tons of snow and blowing it onto the run, making it perfect skiing conditions. I thought to myself, all they are doing is trying to keep us from having fun!

Yesterday, however, I began to notice a few things from the chair lift. I had never noticed the hazardous and dangerous items on the path: tree stumps sticking up, sections of dangerous ice and ski patrol equipment and snowmobiles in the middle of the run. I began to realize something about these closed runs: the ski patrol was not trying to keep us from having fun, but was actually protecting us from harming ourselves and other skiers! It was a blessing.

I realized that this is how I approach God many times. God has set up specific barriers and sometimes I think to myself, God is just doing this to take away all of the fun that I can have! But when I actually think about it, I realize God isn’t intending to take away fun from my life; He is actually protecting me from harm and enabling me to experience life to the fullest. He protects me from things I cannot see, not so much from physical harm like the ski patrol, but from relational and spiritual harm between me and Him and me and others.

I appreciate the fact that God sets up boundaries because ultimately he desires to protect us and give us more purpose, rather than taking all the fun away from his children.
Father knows best.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Postmodernism: a shift in geographical thinking?

For those of you following, living and ministering in the postmodern mindset, its nothing new to state that we are thinking and processing information differently than our modern friends. However, as I continue to process our time in southeastern Asia I realize the shift of postmodern thinking is actually a geographical shift, not just a religious one. I knew this all along...I just had never made the connection as strongly as I see it now.

While we state that the shift in our American mindset has moved to relativity (i.e. "there are not absolute truths" - which is a contradiction in and of itself, of course) as some onto the scene fairly recently in the past few decades, this type of thinking has been occurring for many, many centuries in Asia.

Buddhism was birthed out of Hinduism. (Siddartha Gotama, the 'original Buddha' was born into a Hindu family, broke off from it and started Buddhism. You find that Buddhism and Hinduism are kissing cousins in faith just like Judaism and Christianity. The New Age movement (the fastest growing religion in America) was birthed out of Buddhism and Hinduism -- a smorgasbord of religious food to consume (i.e. "Whatever works for you is fine, but it doesn't work for everybody...and it does doesn't work for me...")

Talking with monks in Thailand about Absolute Truth was difficult. It was the same discussion I might have with a sophomore at Colorado College. This shift in the American worldview is nothing new -- it's just that it's taken us a while to catch up with the East, in a sense.

What are the symptoms of the East playing a larger part in our everyday lives (besides allowing Wal-Mart to keep their prices low)? Ask any tattoo artist in America what the most popular type of tattoo is and he will tell you: Chinese symbols and characters.

But how about another symptom? The Eastern mindset thinks in terms of images and pictures and understanding truth through their senses. The Western, modern mindset desires propositions and bullet-point lists, but the postmodern mindset thinks in terms of images, attaches to Story and, as one teacher has said, "learns with their eyes...and all the other senses." Postmoderns think Eastern.

We've also shifted our thinking by our willingness to dwell in Mystery.
We have heard of Eastern mysticism...but have you ever heard of Western mysticism?
I haven't.
Postmodern thinkers are returning to, embracing and resting in the mystery of God rather than putting God in a box, a God who can be figured out.

Buddhism is very different from Christianity in its basic tenets. One major one: Buddhism attempts to empty the mind; Christianity attempts to fill the mind with the mind of Christ.
While there are obvious differences between the two, I began to notice that we are beginning to strive for mystery and think in terms of Story and images.

Our paradigm shift is not just religious, its geographical.

If you've read this far, I'm proud of you.
Any thoughts from you all out there in the blogosphere?

Great post

See a great post about the Christmas season on Chris and Amy Stroup's blog (our friends we visited in Thailand) here.

Thought-inspiring...

Thursday, December 16, 2004

A purposeful Christmas experiment

This Christmas season, we have my family and Megan's family at our place. This year, we are experimenting with a new idea. Giving gifts is not inherently wrong by any means. But instead maxing out credit cards and stretching the budget to give others "stuff" we decided to direct our giving to each other in a more meaningful and purposeful manner.

Each person coming to our house this Christmas has developed a short list of ministries, organizations, missionaries and non-profits that are close to our hearts. The list has been emailed out to each participating family member. (It has been so much fun to develop a list of organizations that are close to our hearts: some of them are large international ministries, others are small, local missionaries in need of some end-of-the-year support). The combination of everyone's lists have spanned from Crisis Pregnancy Centers to international interest-free loan organizations focusing on development and empowerment to Habitat for Humanity to the Thailand girls orphanage to a Christian school.

Each person will take these lists that have been emailed to them and pick out a few ministries/organizations and make a donation(s) to those ministries (the amount is completely up to the giver) on behalf of that person.

So, on Christmas morning, we'll all have wrapped gifts under the tree, but the item inside will be a simple card that reads something like:

"A donation of $50 has been given on your behalf to one of the ministries on your list, Compassion International."

We think that participating in a purposeful and fun Christmas morning gift exchange this year will allow us to enjoy Christmas in a unique way. It will help us think more globally and missionally and allow us to enjoy the simplicity and the joy of the true and oft-forgotten message of the season while at the same time bless other great organizations that are impacting the world with the gospel.

We shall see how the Briggs holiday gift exchange experiment goes...

Napoleon Dynamite

Nap Dyn comes out on DVD on the 21st.
I'm pumped.

Anyone else excited???

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Popularity Blogs

It's confirmed: blogs continue to rise in popularity.
The blogosphere is getting crowded.

Check out this news report on blogs and its place in the dictionary here.

Join the revolution.
Start a blog. (It's free and easy.)

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Subtle messages in our Christmas songs

Last night, Megan and I watched Polar Express (IMAX and 3D). On the way home, we were listening to one particular radio station that plays non-stop Christmas music the entire month of December. (It's cool...as long as they don't do the same in April, it's cool).

The famed "Rudolf" song came on.
But have you ever really thought about the lyrics of the song?
Forgive me if I sound like the Grinch, but the lyrics are a bit disturbing (and pretty revealing of our warped values in America these days) if you take a moment to think about them. There are sublte messages in our Christmas songs that teach some pretty poor values if you think about it...

Here's an entire song about a mammal that looks really funny and is "different" from all of the others. There's incredible social pressure to conform to everyone else and become like everyone (sound familiar?) else so he is ostracized and made fun of through name-calling ("sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will always send me to counseling") by the others. They ignore him, exclude him and discriminate against him (if this was a real-life situation, the ACLU would have a field-day with this one).

Then, because of the unlikelihood of terrible weather on Mr. Claus' big night he calls on Rudy to use his "different-ness" to help out...and he pulls through in the clutch. His "uckly duckling" status is transformed to the status of a hero of sorts. And because he came through in the clutch, the other reindeer include him into all of their activities.

I don't want to twist a silly little Christmas song into a philosophical argument or theological rant, but think about it...

Worth was taken away from him because he was "different."
His uniqueness was not seen as a blessing, but a terrible scarlet A on his chest.
But worth and value was given back to him because of what he did (not because of who he was).
Without Santa tapping into his unique gift, to this day Rudy would be ostracized and alone with no friends.
Imagine if, when Santa asked for his help on that ever-important night, he choked and was unable to help Santa get the job done? His so-called friends would have made fun of him even more, resulting in many more visits to the therapist for help on his self-esteem.

Anyway, not to put too fine a point on it, but how much of the time do we place value on people based on how they perform, rather on who they are? We judge value and worth on what people do rather than who people are.

-Can we be more like Santa and tap people's unique and diverse gifts to help others?
-How can I value people more for who they are, rather than for what they do (or don't do)?
-How do I bring out those who are ostracized and marginalized and give them value because they are a treasured child of the Most High King?

Okay...now you can post comments and call me Ebenezer Scrooge if you like...

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Jet lag

We're still not sleeping well. Jet lag has beaten us up.
Our body clocks are still very confused.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Two reflections somewhere over the Pacific

The flight journey home was a beast.

Chiang Mai to Bangkok.
Bangkok to Tokyo.
Tokyo to San Fransisco.
San Fransisco to Denver.

24 hours of flying with hardly any sleep.
Re-entering the atmosphere is never pretty.

Two reflections came to me somewhere over the Pacific Ocean: a good movie and a Pharisee in seat 33F.

A good movie:
Both going and coming home, United showed "I,Robot" with Will Smith. Normally, I am not one for science-fictiony, shoot-em-up-bang-em-up, special effects movies, but I was impressed by the intelligence and thought-provocation of this movie. It's Brave New World and Mary Shelley's class novel Frankenstein meet Hollywood...and Will Smith does a decent job acting in it as well (another huge surprise!)
It touches on the never-ending argument of free will/predestination, the Creator vs. the Created, and standing up for truth. It brought to the surface questions such as "What constitutes a soul? and "What are the ethics involved in technology?"

A great quote from one of the robots:

"I am created by my father and he gave me purpose."

I thought it to be strange that a robot comprehended this and yet so many believers do not.
The irony: a robot understood this truth much deeper than we as humans do.

A Pharisee in 33F:
One of the reasons why I can't sleep on planes is the incredible lack of sufficient leg room. What's more frustrating is when the allotted leg room space of 12 inches is diminished to 6 inches when the person in front of you chooses to be cruel to you and pushes the evil, round button on their arm rest to recline their seat.

17 minutes into our marathon flight the evil enemy (the passenger sitting in front of me in 32F) chose to recline his seat and cramp my legs.
I always have a problem with this.
It's amazing how, in my mind, I blame this person for keeping me from sleeping. I believe it is selfish of him to encroach on my precious real estate.
And then I rationalize: If he can do it to me, then I can press my button and recline my seat, dangit.
So I put my seat back and manage to feel no guilt about it.
Why Because I am entitled to do this. If the airlines didn't want me to do this, they wouldn't have built the airplane seat with that evil round button on the arm rest.

And I realize just how hypocritical I can be, even over stupid stuff like reclining plane seats.
I become agitated and I am quick to point my finger at the person in front of me and yet I have no problem justifying it in my mind when I want to recline my seat.

Now I realize that utlimately it is me who is the selfish one.
I am the Pharisee who sits in 33F.

Home: Safe and Sound (and Tired)

Returned home from the Thailand adventure yesterday evening. The question is always an unavoidable and extremely difficult to hear and even more difficult to answer: "So, how was your trip?" People mean well, but they have no idea the complexity of that question...where do you start?

The short of it is that it was a wonderful trip. We had a great time with Chris and Amy, but it is great to be home again, too. (Read more on Chris and Amy's blog, called "the Thai Experiment" here. Also, here's a blog from my friend John P's blog who overlapped for a few days in Thailand with us. A great Chiang Mai update from his experience...

Some thoughts and reflections since the last pos:

1. Last Sunday at the Chiang Mai New Testament Church I preached for just a few brief moments. It was Father's Day in Thailand (which cooresponds with the King's birthday) so I taught on the role of Joseph in the life of Jesus and Mary. His faithfulness and obedience to situations he didn't understand proved to be influential in the life of Jesus. God used his obedience to positively impact Yeshua. I hoped that the girls at the orphanage (who, almost all of them do not know who their earthly father is) would begin to get a glimpse and grasp that they, too, could celebrate Father's Day because they had a Heavenly Father who would never leave them or forsake them and who cares deeply about them.

Here's a picture with me playing with these awesome girls...



After the service, we were able to witness nine girls from the orphanage participate in the symbolic act of baptism. There is something about baptism that always brings tears to my eyes and seeing nine Thai girls make a public statement of their spiritual conversation through physical wetness provided tears streaming down my cheeks. After they dried off and changed, they came upstairs to the church and partook in communion together - their first communion ever. Experiencing this was one of the highlights of the entire trip.

2. Another experience that sticks out to me on the trip happened when we visited the most famous Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai called Doi Suket. The interior of the temple is filled with shrines and idols. Many Buddhists make a pilgrimmage to Doi Suket and offer lotus flowers, gold leaves and burn incense sticks as their form of worship to the Buddha (sad to see, but an interesting experience). I observed one woman in probably her early thirties bowing reverently in front of a golden idol of the Buddha in the lotus position. She slowly and carefully poured more incense into the candle bowl.
Then, an interuption: the cell phone began ringing...
Certain that she was embarrassed and that she would quickly reach to turn it off as not to distract other worshippers, she did something that shocked me.

"Hello."

In the midst of this reverent time, her cell not only rang, but she picked it up and had a conversation with her friend...and did not feel an ounce of guilt about it.
I was shocked.

As I reflected upon this incident on the ride home, I realized that I shouldn't be so shocked.
I do this all the time with God.
I allow the smallest of interruptions to become major distractions in my walk and my worship of God. Maybe not a cell phone, but a busy schedule or television or a good book or...whatever.

Sometimes I can be a very distracted worshipper of God.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Christmas with the Kranks...sort of

I must tell you that we are fully enjoying the fact that we are avoiding the Christmas rush, the long lines in the mall and the endless Christ-less holiday commercialism. No Santas or holly or "Super Holiday Specials" here in southeast Asia.

We feel like Tim Allen in the new movie "Christmas with the Kranks" (based off of the fun John Grisham novel Skipping Christmas). But we're not skipping Christmas...just all of the commercialism.

It's refreshing.

Extra Stamps in the Passport Never Hurt Anybody

Never before has someone asked me the question, "Hey, you wanna go to Burma and Laos?"

But Chris and Amy asked us.
"We need to go to Burma to renew our visa. You want to come?"

Um, sure.
Ah, what the heck.

So two days ago we went to the Golden Triangle, the place where Thailand, Laos and Burma (now called Myanmar) come together. (Most people have never even heard about Myanmar or Laos or find them on a world map, let alone know anything about the cultures of these two countries... I sure didn't). The three countries are divided by a river. We got a water taxi and went over to Laos (for thirty minutes). Then, the next morning we walked across the border to Myanmar for a little while so Chris and Amy could get their visa renewed.
Extra stamps in the passport never hurt anybody.

Never before have I visited three countries in less than 24 hours. This is a new experience for us.

The Golden Triangle wasn't in the plans for the trip, but it sure was fun.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Thailand Update: Monk Chat

Yesterday we had a wonderful opportunity to sit down and talk with Buddhist monks. The Buddhist temples in Thailand are beautiful, intricate and ornate. We visited the Buddhist temple called Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Mai where they encourage conversation with the monks who attend the university next door. There are picnic tables in a large courtyard and they encourage visitors to sit down and engage in conversation. If you sit down, a monk will join you, making himself available to chat with you.

We had three monks sit down and converse with us. Our questions (obviously) revolved around Buddhism and the Buddhist beliefs. Our goal was not to convert them as much as it was to learn and to practice the spiritual disciplines of active listening and critical thinking. It was fascinating.

We dialogued for about two hours.
Chris and I could have stayed all day.
I'm certain we will go back to Monk Chat again before we leave.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Greetings from Thailand

I'm sitting in an internet cafe in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Today is the Buddhist holiday called The Fire Festival (lots of fireworks and burning candles). In a little while we will light a candle and float it down the Ping River symbolizing our sins which will "float away." (Interesting implications to the Christian faith, though the roots of the holiday rest in Buddhism). The streets are busy, the smog is suffocating, the smiles of the people are warm and welcoming and Thailand is fascinating.

A few highlights...

-we had a Thanksgiving meal of rice, baked chicken, salad and stuffing in shorts in humid 80 degree weather.

-we shopped at the famous Night Market downtown

-we visited the orphanage and met the girls last night. They greeted us with traditional Thai dancing and singing Christian songs for us. (There were tears welling up in my eyes as I marveled at the global God that we serve).

-Today, we wanted a snake handler successfully handle the most poisonous snakes in all of Thailand.

-We rode elephants through the mountain jungle outside of the city. (What a surreal experience).

-We realize that God is good in the midst of the immense oppression of Buddhism in this culture.

Enough for now...I'll try to update again later. It's cool to blog half-way around the world.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Thailand



Megan and I will be in Thailand serving and working alongside of our friends, Chris and Amy Stroup. Chris and Amy are a part of our Pierced community who decided to defer grad school for a year to run an orphanage for Thai girls to teach them skills to keep them out of prostitution. We're excited to spend time with them, see how God is using them in mighty ways and to experience a new culture. We're eager to hear more about Buddhism and to interact and dialogue often with the monks.



We'll be gone until December 7th.

It will probably be the most unique Thanksgiving we'll ever have (no turkey this year, if you were wondering. Probably a bunch of rice instead...)

Blogging will be sporadic and thin for the next two weeks. I'm going to see if I can find an internet connection and put up a few posts on the blog from Thailand.

If I don't get a chance to say it, have a happy Thanksgiving to everyone out in the blogosphere.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Freedom is Never Free



This afternoon, I found out that a friend of our family was killed in Fallujah, Iraq on Friday fighting in battle. When I was a youth intern at my youth group at my home church, Brad one of my guys. He also graduated from my high school. After high school he enlisted in the Marines. He was a Marine reserve only over in Iraq for a few months. His unit was ambushed and he was the only American soldier killed.

My emotions are swirling.

I'm in shock.
I'm saddened.
I'm angry.
I'm grateful.
I'm crying.
I'm numb.

It seems that when American soldiers have been killed in action in Iraq it has been merely a sad statistic. With the news of Brad, it no longer is a statistic.
It's a face.
A mourning family.
A funeral.
Lots of memories.
Sadness.

This Thanksgiving, I am grateful that we live in a free country.

But freedom is never free.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

A worshiping community

On Thursday afternoon, the internationally known Christian apologist Razi Zacharias and his team from the Ravi Zacharias International Ministry (RZIM) came to our church to speak. Their premise for their ministry is: "What I believe in the heart must make sense in the mind."

Stuart McAllister (International Director of RZIM and owner of a great Scottish accent) spoke for one session, Dale Fincher (RZIM Staff Writer and Apologist) spoke during the second session, Ravi during the third. The fourth session was a Q and A time with the audience. All three presenters were extremely articulate, funny, in touch with culture, well-versed in apologetics and Scripture and were passionate about the topic (a rare combination these days!)

The entire afternoon was enlightening (my brain was smoking and my hand was about to fall off from taking notes) but there were three thoughts that have clung to my mind that I can't shake:

1. McAllister said that as we defend our faith, the most important aspect is that we listen and we listen carefully and lovingly (how often we forget this when we share our faith!) We listen for the words, but more importantly we must listen for the heart behind the words (i.e. "What is it that this person is really trying to say?")

2. McAllister also said that in our culture, the way one engages in conversations that count is by engaging in dot-to-dot evangelism. He said this: "If we have a blueprint fo the Truth and we are familiar with the coordinates of God, we can confidently seek to connect the dots through magazine articles from over here, movie clips from over there and song lyrics from our culture from over here." I must be someone that engages with people through the fragments of culture in order to portray the whole Truth of Christ.

3. The last point was from Ravi and it was the something he said during his last point very quickly as he was closing the afternoon (and I bet very few people actually understood it). He said, "This postmodern culture heavily values community. Don't ever forget that the greatest apologetic for the Christian faith is a worshiping community. I hope that you become a worshiping community of faith for the world to see." It is for this very reason that we minister in and through the community of Pierced with our lives.

My prayer is that Pierced would be a worshiping community so that Colorado Springs sees Christ fleshed out in our lives.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

I think we can do better...

If you know me, you know that I hate the spiritually-shallow, often theologically-poor, materialistic junk that is mass-produced and targeted towards God’s faithful in this country.

Yesterday, in a Christian trade magazine, I came across an advertisement for some of this junk:

You can buy buttons that read:
-JESUS U (He died to save you for your sins)
-Brain Washed Romans 12:2
-The Savior is Tougher Than Nails
-Someday My Prince Will Come
-Jesus Beat the Devil With a Big Ugly Stick
-(imitating the logo for Independent) “Dependent upon Christ”
-(Imitating the Mountain Dew logo) “Meant to Die”
-(imitating the 7-eleven logo) “Thirsty for Heaven: Jesus is always open”

You can buy a T-shirt for Christmas that reads:
“Jesus: the gift that keeps on forgiving”

Or a Bible cover that looks like a real NFL football (including real brown pigskin leather and white laces on the binding).
-instead of saying “Wilson” it says “Witness”
-instead of National Football League, the NFL stands for New Found Life.

Do we really need to imitate what the world produces in order to make the gospel attractive?

I think we can do better…

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

I am a mermaid

Last night after taking a seminary test, I went over to see my friend Jeff, while both of ur wives were at Bible study. At the kitchen table our conversation revolved around how often we, as human beings, feel like we just don’t fit in. We feel left out. The ugly duckling. The red-headed step-child. We are tempted to conform to a mold, to a grouping of people and when we don’t we feel alone and insecure. I certainly feel this way on occasion. I think most humans feel this way from time to time…

I told him about a story that I had shared at Pierced on Sunday night. Robert Fulgham, in his book All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, wrote that one day he was left with 80 screaming kindergartners and was responsible for entertaining them for an hour (a seemingly impossible task). In desperation, he decided to play the game “Giants, Wizards and Dwarfs.” (If you’ve never played this game, it’s basically full-body rock, paper, scissors. You know, the giant defeats wizard, wizard defeats dwarf, dwarf defeats giant…)

Anyway…as the game began, the place was in chaos, the noise level was at an extremely high level and he was beginning to get a headache. He felt a tug on his pants. Looking down, he saw a five year-old girl saying, “Um, excuse me mister. Where do the mermaids go?”
This girl refused to be put into a box and told who to be. She was proud to be a mermaid.

It made me grateful that we serve a God who doesn’t force us to fit into little constricting boxes and categories. He loves us for who we are.

Today, I am thankful that we have a God who loves mermaids.
Mermaids like me and Jeff.