Saturday, November 29, 2008

Re-Thinking The Sunday Church Service (Part 2)

Read the entire series here.

I'm going to take Part 2 of this series to tell why I chose the series title I did. Simply, "The Sunday Church Service" is what most of us can relate to. As my friend Bruce points out in his post What Hebrews 10:25 Doesn't Say, [Update: this link is no longer available] much of our own personal experience or ecclesiastical opinion is read back into the text. I'm the first one to point out that the Greek word ekklesia, most often [mis]translated into English as the word "church", has as its root meaning "assembly" or even "congregation." I'm providing two links that deal with this issue here and here. I'm not claiming to agree with everything said in both of these links, but if the good Protestants in my theological past can use this definition of ekklesia against the structure and teachings of the Roman Catholic church, I can surely use them against the structure and teachings of the Protestant church who have adopted nearly the same things over the centuries.

Most of us are accustomed to the Sunday Church Service (or "worship" service). Meeting on Sunday is nowhere forbidden in the New Testament. Neither is meeting in a building, with a cross. Neither is meeting at the same time every week. Neither is stained glass. Neither are chairs instead of pews. Neither is preaching, nor a sign outside telling passersby what is being preached. Neither is a choir or making tapes of the sermon or pastors, elders and deacons or fellowship meals in the basement. I'm not saying, either, that structures other than the ones most of us are familiar with are wrong. I'm just going to focus on what most of us know and address the possibility of reforming it from within. I'm going to address what I think is a lack of application of Scripture that results in a lack of real community, a lack of a sense of belonging and a lack of a sense of being useful.

Part 1 . . . . . . . . Part 3

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Re-Thinking The Sunday Church Service (Part 1)

In this new series I will look at some things I think are ailing churches in America today. And have been for quite some time. Many people are leaving churches because they find no difference in church than they do outside of it. They either don't fit in, or if they do, they don't see a difference church makes in their lives. They see a lack of community in church.

I'm not going to talk about the obvious absurdities like mud wrestling pastors to increase attendance. Nor am I going to talk about music and which instruments are appropriate for church; nor about what women should wear on their heads or whether Calvinism is better than Arminianism. I'm going to look at problems in churches whose theology is fairly decent; churches that have had a rich tradition and history. I will touch on liturgy, but not as a main topic.

I will focus primarily on relationships within the church, most specifically the actual Sunday church meeting itself. These relationships are described by the bible. I will write about the relationships between God to man, and man to man.

A main area of focus will be this:

Has our American church tradition so focused on the worship of God - loving God according to the first great commandment - that we have neglected the second greatest commandment - loving our neighbor as ourselves - when we gather on Sunday?

I'm still sorting out things in both my own experience and in what the bible says about our relationships, so this series will develop over time. Hope you enjoy it, and as always, comments are welcome.

Part 2 .

Read the entire series here.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

John Elway's Great Last Minute Comeback

John Elway was one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. He is probably most famous for his last-minute comeback victories. He has more come from behind victories than any other quarterback ever. Joe Montana is in second place and isn't even close. What is perhaps Elway's greatest last minute comeback isn't even remembered by most people. He was confronted by tremendous odds and circumstances.

It came in the last minute of the last game of his senior year of college. He was faced with a 4th down and 17 yards to go from his own 13 with less than a minute to play and down by 2 points. It was his school's rivalry game (I was in my freshman year at this rival school!). It is one of the ten biggest rivalries in college football, and the ninth oldest. A win would guarantee them a bowl game. A loss would keep them home on New Year's day. A win might give him the Heisman Trophy. He drove his team 87 yards in five plays taking 45 seconds. They scored. The drive was simply amazing.

But... Elway might have made the biggest blunder in history as he called their last time out before looking at the clock. Even though he pulled off a miracle, nobody remembers because of his mistake. Watch his amazing last minute drive by clicking here. Keep watching after they score to find out why nobody remembers his great feat. It will be obvious.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Line Between Faith and Stupidity

There is a line between faith and stupidity. Where is it? We've all done stupid things. Some were done "in faith", or so we thought at the time. Radical things are done. Sometimes those things are successful, sometimes not. Abraham left Ur and the disciples followed Christ. But these things were directly from God. David took on Goliath, in "faith", without direct urging from God. It could have been a disaster. He took a risk.

I've known Christians that have done wild, risky things, only to have God use those things greatly. I'm included in that group. Other things are failures and in hindsight they look really, really stupid. I'm included in that group. Where's the line? I don't know. I guess if we knew, then it really wouldn't be faith. Would it?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Busy With Other Stuff

I've been busy with other stuff and haven't been able to blog regularly this last week. Hopefully I'll be back this week to a regular amount of blogging.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dial "1" For Long Distance

For about a year and a half, I've been receiving voicemails on my cell phone from somebody in the medical field. They contain extremely personal, confidential, detailed and in some cases embarrassing medical information meant exclusively for the patient. A typical call might be outlined by the following: "Hello, X, we have a dose of Y for your problem Z. We need to fill out the insurance form A by Tuesday so you don't end up with a B that will require a C." On and on. These calls don't come every day so I'm not completely insane, but they come often enough that it's annoying. They always come when I'm not connected to my cell phone for some reason.

I've called the medical lady back several times telling of the wrong number. I even talked directly to her once saying that she keeps calling even though I've left messages before and to update her records. Well, today we played phone tag with me explaining yet again the wrong number problem. Finally, she called when I could answer. I diagnosed the problem while we were on the phone. All this time she has been calling a real number in a different area code without first dialing a "1".

Back when cell phones were gaining popularity, the phone companies decided to use what used to be exclusively area codes as the new cell phone prefixes so they wouldn't run out of numbers. A long distance call would now require a "1". But if somebody calls a long distance (123) 456-7890 without first dialing a "1", the local number 123-4567 will be reached, with the last three numbers making no difference. My prefix is also an area code so my number is the first seven of their ten digit long distance number. So, I hope she knows to dial a "1" now, or if the number was programmed somewhere maybe she can fix it. I hope nobody I know ever has to deal with X, Y and Z and have it end up in somebody else's voicemail.

Monday, November 10, 2008

What Happened To The 80's?

When I was growing up back in the 70's, nostalgia with remembering the 50's was in. Happy Days, Lavern and Shirley and Grease were popular. Everybody dressed like Fonzie. T-shirts and blue jeans, '57 Chevys. Fifties dances at school, etc. America seems to look back on its childhood about twenty years removed. In the 80's there was a nostalgic return to the 60's. Woodstock era music, tie dye, Berkeley demonstrations. Radio stations played psychedelic and others 60's music. In the 90's, flared pants, choker necklaces, Marsha Brady hairstyles, Greg Brady sideburns came back in and were all the rage. Avocado refrigerators and lava lamps. BTO, Thin Lizzy and other 70's arena rock music was everywhere. That 70's show appeared on TV.

But now it's the 2000's. Where's the 80's? Leg warmers? Top siders? Sweaters tied around the waste? Parachute pants, Izod polo shirts, hair metal bands, video games? Did I miss something, or did a retro decade pass us by for the first time in 30 years?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Beautiful Fall Day

The weather was beautiful today. Late this afternoon I looked out the back window of our office. The shadows were long and the light was crisp. Somehow in the fall and winter the long shadows provide more contrast and sharper images. I just love it. Mornings are colder and blankets are part of sleeping. Getting up is harder because it's cozy inside those blankets.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

What Would Jesus Brew?

Greg Qualls at The Beerean reflects on a great CNN question: What would Jesus brew? He links to CNN's article.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Voting No For President

Just like for many of California's ballot propositions, I'll be voting "no" for president. I don't like either candidate, so I think I should vote no. Maybe that should be an option. If a majority of the people don't like either candidate (or any of the other party's candidates) we should have the right to vote no on a president. No president would be elected, none would take office. All bills passed by Congress would sit unsigned and would never pass. Neither major party would be able to shaft the people. Maybe I can start a trend on Tuesday. Pass it on. Vote No for president.

According To Yahoo, You're A Spammer

Here's how Blogger works. Every time somebody leaves a comment on my blog, Blogger sends an email to me at a previously designated email address. This would be a Yahoo account of mine. Suddenly, and without any reason, Yahoo has decided that all comments sent to me from Blogger are spam and sends them to the spam folder. Then I have to go in and read them and tell Yahoo they are not spam, placing them in the inbox. Supposedly, by marking all this email as "not spam" it will help Yahoo in its filtering of my email. Anyway, keep commenting.