Monday, December 02, 2013

KINDLE DEALS TODAY (cyber monday)

Looking for some good reads... The Daily Keller page combed through some deals with suggestions.

I've combed through it for my own suggestions for anyone interested:

- The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Tim Keller – $0.99
- The King Jesus Gospel by Scot McKnight – $1.99
- Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves – $2.99
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons – $3.79

- The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller – $7.99
- Jesus the King by Tim Keller – $7.99
- Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling by Andy Crouch – $2.99
- The Sermon on the Mount by Scot McKnight and Tremper Longman – $4.27

- Everyday Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis – $1.99
- Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger – $2.99

- The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds on Prayer - $2.99
- Live Like a Narnian: Christian Discipleship in Lewis’s Chronicles by Joe Rigney – $2.99

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Just think you're great at something and you are?

"We want our children to grow up learning that sport is not about competition, rather it's about using your imagination. If you imagine you're good at soccer, then, you are."

How does that statement sound to you?
It's from a recent article that states an Ontario association has removed the ball from soccer in order to not allow competition so every kid feels good about themselves.

I support the mind set in sports - especially for young kids - that promotes fun and positive encouragement over just winning (we've seen enough parents charge the field at a 5 year old soccer game!)

However, the idea that a kid is good at something just because they imagine they are might be sending the wrong message to how a kid discovers what they're good at, what they ending  up pursuing in life, how they discern if they're a right fit for a team, company, or project down the road.

Seems rather strange to me. You?

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

The Atheist Church?

I've been following the recent rise of religion among atheists lately.

Alain de Botton was the major teaser of this with his recent Ted Talk (Atheism 2.0) and his book, Religion for Atheists, stating that "even if religion isn't true, can't we enjoy the best bits."

There's a yearning, it seems, among atheists - for community, collective mission, living better lives, kindness, and more. More of what atheism currently doesn't offer, provide, or perhaps doesn't promote (at least some seem to think so)

Some atheists have started to realize that aspects of religion - though connected to God - are missing in their lives.

It's not that surprising, then, that a few atheists also hunger for church - of some sort.

Check out... The Sunday Assembly - a new church in Britain.

They meet in a church building, sing songs, listen to a talk, and nurture relationship.

Sound familiar?

Interesting that the original name for the church was ecclesia, which happens to mean assembly or gathering. (though the 1st century church's reason for assembly was much stronger than a community potluck and open mic)

Part of this experimental atheist church's mission is to pursue "wonder," yet Phyllis Tickle says they lack transcendence, mystery, and beauty.

How many inspirational talks or comedy routines can one participate in? Will they commit to it weekly? What will keep them together?

It's a new world, yet the same old questions.

Is this a good thing?
Where does this longing come from?
Is there something more to a church other than it's form (format)?

Do you think this will last or go global?
(if you comment, it would be great to state if you're an atheist or some kind of believer)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sacrifice or Prosperity?

Canadian News (CBC) leading up to the Pope's election commented on Catholic decline in Latin America - particularly in Brazil - a decline from 84% to 69% in the last 10-20 years. (approx.)

What struck me was one of the reasons: that many are no longer interested in the message of sacrifice and suffering coming from the Catholic church, instead, they are drawn to the message of prosperity from Evangelicals.

I fit into being an evangelical (broadly speaking), yet when I heard this my heart sunk.

1. I don't believe the main emphasis of evangelicals is prosperity, however there's a large charismatic movement that centers much of its message around prosperity.
2. It saddens me that the main evangelical message coming from Latin America is that Christianity (in those forms at least) has become materialistic (i.e. interpreting God's blessing as material accumulation or personal achievement)
3. There's enough emphasis from Jesus to help us know the difference: "die to yourself," "take up your cross," "give up your life if you want to lose it," "don't store up treasure in this world," "don't worry about tomorrow,"
4. I don't adhere to some of the traditional Catholic message that are 'works oriented' (suffer/sacrifice in order to receive from God); however, this broad stroke news from Brazil is discouraging.
5. If Christianity draws people in with a promise to prosper materially, where will that lead the church.

I wonder if this new Pope's emphasis on the poor will draw Catholics in, or if in places like Latin America it will draw them out to find prosperity elsewhere. He was recently quoted: I would like a poor church, for the poor. Curious to see how this message is received in those places.

Interestingly enough this doesn't mean he wants the Catholic church to become a non-profit organization only focused on compassion and poverty. The new Pope stated he wished to see the church go back to it's root centered in Christ so it doesn't merely turn into a large NGO (cautioning that such a move away from the gospel will weaken the church into a house of sand).

Thoughts? Questions?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tension: both loving and critiquing your culture

Do you struggle with the balance of loving your country/culture and critiquing it?
Do you feel as though you either have to support or trash it?

I like this recent statement by Tony Campolo where he strikes a balance:
Most of us, if not all, would contend that we love America.  We may call America “Babylon,” but we believe it’s the best Babylon on the face of the earth.  Nevertheless, it is still Babylon, and we sense a call bidding us not to be conformed to this world.
In Robert Webber's last book, Who Gets to Narrate the World, he affirmed a similar conviction. He critiqued capitalism and stated that one of the church's greatest inner dangers in the 21st century is complacency (largely the fruit of capitalistic or consumeristic values).

Although he simultaneously affirmed that (in his view) Capitalism might be one of the better social philosophies (or form of government) in the world at the moment, it can't be fully embraced without critique by a Christian if the Kingdom of God and the Values of Jesus is his/her's main worldview.

How do you balance your love and appreciation for the culture or country you live in with the honest critique that your values or faith lead you to have?
Do you feel comfortable living in the tension?
Are you comfortable stating where you do not agree while living within the benefits of what you do agree with?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Measuring Success and Impact??

Westside runs a monthly outreach/community event in a local school. Flipside.

It's not flashy or expensive. But it's a great environment that fulfills at least 3 things:
1. we bless and connect with families in our community we could never do in other environments
2. these families benefit from a safe environment and an introduction to Christian community
3. our church families enjoy a fun night for their kids and a place they can bring friends from school

Last night we held a FAMILY DINNER before FLIPSIDE. We hoped for 100 kids/parents.

Goal not met. 30 kids, 12 parents, 10-12 volunteers. (we wanted a little more parents)

HOWEVER, after debriefing with friends and volunteers I heard stories...

- one mom told us how much our daily nutrition help at the school is needed in this difficult season of their lives - first time we hear a personal thank you from this specific effort
- one volunteer described last night as "CHURCH" because of the opportunity to meet, talk with, and engage the life of some people who struggle in many ways at home, emotionally, and beyond; she said "this is why we do what we do"
- the kids heard the Christmas story, some for the first time
- the school janitor offered his extra hours last night for FREE
- the school resource teacher served alongside our volunteers because she saw this event as a way to resource the kids she pays attention to at school
- returning and first kids/families came out
- student leaders are learning to be mentors/leaders, some led whole stations
- a first time volunteer had a spectacular night serving
- left over food went to families that needed it

GOAL, not met... or met? Depends how you view success!

Sometimes you need to reflect on what actually happened before you claim it was successful.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Harvest is in front of you.

Seth Godin encourages small businesses to "stop resorting to picking the fruit (from large businesses) that's already grown instead of planting their own seeds."

To "redefine the market into something much smaller and more manageable. You don't need to persuade everyone that you have a great idea, you merely need to persuade one person."

It's so easy to do this with our vision: new business, non-profits, or even the local church.

Isn't it incredible how we so often are looking to reach people, encourage people, serve people, grow people by picking the "low hanging fruit" instead of planting seeds ourselves. This isn't a bad way to fulfill part of your calling, but in the overall scheme of things, there's so much more around us.

Food banks might serve the same recipients.
Why not discern the most immediate need not being met within your reach and meet it. That would be progress.

Churches get excited when lots of people visit (from other churches).
Why not pray that you'd see the one person in your circle of relationship that God would have you impact and focus there. That might lead to a real celebration (Luke 15).

The harvest is plentiful. What a great way to look at life and opportunity.

To be aware that there's people to love and reach. Needs to be served. Opportunity to lead into. All within our radius.

I love the idea of redefining the opportunities around us into something smaller and more manageable. Discover - that person, need, goal - and lean into it with all your heart.

Do for ONE what you'd love to do for ALL.

Who knows, sooner or later you might have opportunity to do for even more?

Where does this apply to your life right now? New vision, new neighbors, new community needs.

*disclaimer: I'm not a fan of comparing the church with business, but this idea of focusing on a manageable harvest (what you have in your reach) is somewhat reflective of Jesus