Archive for November, 2007

More timely advice from the devotional

Posted in Christianity, Coincidence, Identity on November 29, 2007 by Robaigh

I’ll come back to the Sex God thing.  I finished it, and while I found it to lack a certain coherence (I might rethink that as I re-read it), it was a good and inspirational book.

But before I have time to get to that, I just wanted to post a link to today’s devotional.  I think I mentioned before that my job, previously something that consumed most of my life – I spent more time there than at home, almost all of my friends were people I worked with – leaves me feeling depressed and even pretty embittered.  What was my major passion I now “hate” (not only in the usual sense of the word, but also in the scriptural sense of an examiner failing a student’s work).

First, on the way into work, I heard CS Lewis talking about agape, then once I got to work, I read this devotional.  Here’s the link:

Link To Read Today’s Devotional–
http://www.churchgrowthmail.org/web/pageid/30781/pages.asp

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Rob Bell, Sexual Intellectual

Posted in Christianity, Counter-culture, Identity, Sexuality on November 26, 2007 by Robaigh

Yeah, I bought it. Today. Between dogs barking to get outside then immediately barking to come back in, and telephones ringing, and potty breaks, and the need to finish Genesis from chapter 31 onward for a church group meeting tomorrow, I haven’t gotten very far into it. In fact, I’ve only finished the first two chapters.

Having said all that, let me say this: Rob Bell is the Sexual Intellectual.

So far, Sex God isn’t really about sex. Not in the way one normally thinks of it. Bell has barely (ahem) mentioned genitals, down there, pee-pee parts, wee-wees and hoo-haas. He is, as I had gathered from the review I mentioned yesterday, talking about sexuality in terms of identity, humanity (human-ness), connectedness and unity.

Crap. Gotta run. I’ll update this later.

[Update on 1 Dec 07: No update for a while to come. I’ve been distracted by other shiny objects, and have forgotten much of what I had hoped to say about Bell’s book. It wouldn’t be fair to post from memory only, though what I’d write would certainly be flattering. Sex God left me with a good impression. But I’ll just start a new topic when I get back around to re-reading it.]

[Update on 8 Dec 07:  There’s a guy I know at church, who faces personal struggles with sex and parameters.  I say this, not as a cut-down, but rather just as a fact.  He’s a good guy with an off-kilter perspective.  He’s not a perv or anything like that, but I thought he could benefit from reading this book.  I’ve loaned it to him, thereby effectively eliminating any possibility of my writing a review in the  future.  Ah, just as well.  I’ve got a lot of other crap to do, anyway.]

More Sex

Posted in Christianity, Counter-culture on November 25, 2007 by Robaigh

I still haven’t rushed out an purchased Rob Bell’s book yet, but Ryan’s review (thanks, mate!) pushed me off the fence.  Sooner rather than later, I’ll have to pony up the 11 bucks.  (Finding the time – not that may just be the real challenge!)

The only reason I was fence-sitting in the first place was that so many Christian books that discuss sexuality  – especially extramarital and same-sex sexuality – are so bloody predictable.  They’re predictable in a very Nancy Reagan “just say no” sort of way, which I find to be too single-dimensional and unconvincing.  I suppose they’re fine for preaching to the choir, but I think the arguments for perceiving sexuality in a counter-cultural manner need to recognize that sexuality is complex.  I mean, let’s face it: sex is fun.  It’s pleasurable.  What’s more, it’s going to take a heck of a lot more than a Nancy Reagan type of argument (essentially equating abstinence with the Protestant work ethic) to get young, hormone-ridden people – not to mention older hormone-ridden, lonely, frustrated people) to give up on the American sex dream.

In reading Ryan’s review, though, I got the sense that Bell’s book is different.  His review put me in mind of something I read recently in Marva J. Dawn’s The Sense of the Call: A Sabbath Way of Life for Those Who Serve God, the Church, and the World.

The book’s premise is that folks who minister in the Church (not just those few who are ordained, but rather the whole lot of ministers) frequently fall into the overextension trap, which causes good people to lose focus, lose energy, lose their sense of call.  The sense of call, according to Dawn, “is that God’s Kingdom reclaims us, revitalizes us, and renews us and thus reigns through us before others, on behalf of others, sometimes in spite of others, and always with others.”

Sexuality fits into the book in a chapter entitled, “The Body is a Temple: Enjoying the Feast of Self.”  In addition to comments about sexuality, Dawn includes some words about exercise, fasting, feasting and stuff like that, but puts it all into a relational context.  There are some thoughts in the chapter that I can’t decide on yet, in terms of whether I agree (including some stuff about committed same-sex relationships – the jury’s still out for me), but I can get on board with what she refers to as “social sexuality.” (Sorry, Ryan.  I called it “communal sexuality” on your page – I think that may describe something entirely different…)  By this, as far as I can tell, she means that people are sexual beings and relational beings, and that we have to find a way to get on with other people while maintaining appropriate (i.e. God-honoring, others-honoring, self-honoring) parameters.  That we’re sexual beings within a social context is maybe a better way to say that.

Unfortunately, Dawn doesn’t go into great detail about how to do that.  Maybe once or twice she even has that bit of Nancy Reagan in her voice as she writes.  Long story short: I’m curious to see how Rob Bell handles this complicated subject.

Suddenly I’m in the mood for some jelly beans…

Elvis, Sex & Jesus

Posted in Christianity with tags , , , on November 24, 2007 by Robaigh

Rob Bell, the guy who wrote Velvet Elvis, and who is at least tangentially associated with Irresistible Revolution, recently gave an interview to the Wittenburg Door. It seems that Bell just came out with a book called Sex God. Don’t know anything about it other than that.

I really like Bell and both of the books mentioned above. In some ways they blend together in my mind. For example, I no longer recall which author said “Hey, what if Jesus really meant that stuff that he said about feeding the hungry and clothing the naked,” but it has really stuck with me.

Anyway, here’s a link to the interview: http://www.wittenburgdoor.com/interview/rob-bell

I hate to harp on this theme, but…

Posted in Coincidence with tags , , on November 23, 2007 by Robaigh

OK, here it is again. I opened my email this morning and found this devotional, again from Ephesians Four Ministries Here’s the link to today’s entire devotional. My plan was only to include a snippet, but the whole thing is relevant to what I’ve been writing about these last several days.

Good Things Versus God-Things
TGIF Today God Is First, by Os Hillman

Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. – Romans 8:14

The greatest sign that you and I are maturing in our walk with God is when we can discern the difference between “good things” and “God-things.” When the people of Israel journeyed out of Egypt through the desert, the cloud led them by day. They could move only as fast as the cloud. If they went ahead, they went without God’s presence. If they lagged behind, they also lost God’s presence.

Each of us must have the discernment to know when God is leading in a matter, or if it is simply a good idea. There are so many things in which you and I can be involved, and the more successful you become, the greater the temptations to enter into things where God has not called you. Entrepreneurs are especially prone to see all the opportunities.

I recall one time when I entered into a project that I thought was a great idea. It would help many people. After two years, the project had to be discontinued. It was a great lesson on understanding what projects have God’s blessing on them. There are some projects you and I might get involved in that result in little fruit compared to the investment put into them. That is because they may never have been birthed by the Holy Spirit.

As sons of God, we are called to be led by the Spirit. This requires a level of dependence on God in which many of us really do not want to invest. It requires listening, waiting, and moving only when God’s Spirit tells us to move. Workplace believers are “action” people. We know how to get things done, but our greatest strength can be our greatest weakness.

Today, ask God to make you a Romans 8:14 man or woman who is led by the Spirit of God. Pray against lagging behind or moving ahead. Ask God to reveal whether the next project you consider is a “good thing” or a “God-thing.”

Discernment has been a prime theme in my life for the last 10 months or so – and I’m still working on that. It’s not an easy task. I’m trying to be open to the Spirit’s leadings without being spiritually weird. I pray for discernment as I prepare for what I think my calling is.

Maybe I *am* that guy!

Posted in Coincidence with tags , , , on November 21, 2007 by Robaigh

In my last post I pasted an Onion article lambasting people who find “God was speaking to me” messages in every mundane place. I do know people like that. They believe that God speaks to them through wrong-number phone calls, randomly found pocket change and so on. On most levels, I believe this is silly.

But on the other hand, knowing that God *does* speak to us and that “His ways are not our ways,” how else might we expect to hear His voice? My pastor is fond of saying “there are no coincidences,” and I agree with him.

With all of this in mind, since past Sunday I’ve been running into John 16:33 all over the place. That’s the one that goes:

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Today I encountered this verse on a devotionals site that sends me daily emails. (Intersted? Check out Church Growth Institute.) The verse showed up in the context of dealing with adversity…well, everywhere, but specifically in the workplace. This could not be more timely for me, for reasons into which I will not delve, but which actually have a lot to do with my having started this web log. I don’t find it coincidental that this verse keeps popping up, and I don’t believe the timing is coincidental, either. Thanks to God for the non-existence of coincidence! 🙂

Heavenly Father, God of the Universe and God among us: Thank you for the gift of your Spirit, who counsels us, gives us nudges in the right directions, and hints into the paths we should walk in order to do your will. Please keep on giving us the peace and quietness of mind that allow us to discern and recognize your voice, the strength and courage to follow your leadings, and the faith to keep on the path, even when that voice seems faint, distant or even absent.

In Jesus’ name I pray.

Amen

Don’t I know this guy?

Posted in Humor with tags , , on November 21, 2007 by Robaigh

Christ Categorically Denies Speaking To Lutheran-College Administrator

The Onion

Christ ‘Categorically Denies’ Speaking To Lutheran-College Administrator

ELKHART, IN-Jesus Christ insisted to reporters Monday that He has “absolutely never spoken” to Philip Burkett, rejecting the 48-year-old Lutheran-college administrator’s claim of having “a close, personal relationship” with the prominent savior.

“I categorically deny having had any prior contact whatsoever with Mr. Burkett,” said Christ at a press conference called to quell rumors of a Christ-Burkett dialogue. “At no point have I ever conversed with this man.”

Christ was responding to remarks published in the July issue of the Elkhart Lutheran College alumni newsletter, in which Burkett said he decided to become the school’s Assistant Director of Student Affairs at the urging of the Messiah.

“It was in 1994 that I answered the Lord’s call,” Burkett wrote. “Since then, I’ve been here in Elkhart, doing His work.”

Burkett, who was an analyst at an Indianapolis marketing firm at the time Christ allegedly spoke to him, said he had been feeling dissatisfied with his career but “just didn’t know where to turn.”

“It was during the height of my discontent that, following a Sunday service at my church, I quite involuntarily found myself drawn to the bulletin board in the vestry, where a job vacancy was listed for an administrative post at a Lutheran college up in Elkhart,” Burkett said. “It was if some inscrutable force was guiding me. I now know it was Jesus Christ, telling me it was time for a change.”

Christ denied being anywhere near the Indianapolis church, explaining that he was “speaking to a sickly young boy” in Asunción, Paraguay, at the time of the alleged conversation.

“Just what that ‘inscrutable force’ was, I cannot tell you,” Christ said. “But I do know it was not Me.”

“What was his name? Bartlett? Beckett?” Christ asked. “I have a hard time telling those middle-class suburban types apart.”

Despite the Messiah’s denial, Burkett said he is convinced that the voice he heard was that of Christ.

“Perhaps Christ’s insistence that He never spoke to me is His way of testing my faith,” Burkett said. “But whatever it is, I still want to give bounteous thanks to God’s only son for bringing me more happiness and contentment than I ever dreamed possible.”

According to Burkett, additional proof that he had spoken to Christ came shortly after he completed his interview for the administrative position. Still uncertain whether such a radical career change was advisable, Burkett happened to drive past a rural cemetery, where he saw a small, cross-shaped tombstone, before which grew a single white rose.

“It looked just like Luther’s Rose, the sacred emblem of Lutheranism. Suddenly, all my doubts fell away,” Burkett said. “I am not ashamed to tell you that I had to pull the car over to weep and give thanks, not only because the white rose was Jesus’ way of telling me I would get the job, but because I was continuing His work.”

Christ called the flower-sighting “a complete coincidence.”

“When I first heard that a man in Indiana was claiming I told him to become a Lutheran-college administrator, I was sort of amused,” Christ said. “When I speak to someone, I’m used to them having–how shall I put it?–loftier goals than a mid-level administration post. This really isn’t the sort of thing I usually bother intervening in.”