Just found out that Josh and I have tickets for the Chargers game against the Rams tomorrow at 1:05 pm - a little gift from Jamie's sister and brother-in-law for Josh's 12th birthday, which was last week.
... and there was much rejoicing around our house.
While I'm not really a person who jumps into the fray of some so called "discussions", when something of this level of lunacy comes along... well here goes...
It appears that the folks over at The Way of the Master have set their sights on Rob Bell and specifically the NOOMA Bullhorn [which I will go on record as saying is brilliant]. Well, to quote fellow blogger [and all around good guy] Zach Lind, The Way of the Master people have produced what is "quite possibly the lamest ten minutes in the history of film." [Quite a statement, but sadly not much of an exaggeration.]
Apparently this ten minute video clip [attempting to be shot NOOMA-esque] is a crtique, or rebuttal of sorts I guess, to an ongoing ax to grind with "Bullhorn" - which they have taken as a personal attack on them and their "way" of approaching evangelism. I find this all distubring, since not only they have completely missed the whole message of Bullhorn, but have chosen to produce this "video rebuttal".
[Note to self... If you are going to critique someone, at least get your facts straight, so that you do not read into something that is not there and make a "video rebuttal" that is a mockery in and of itself.]
Check out the video and the discussion on Zach's blog and judge for yourself. Don't say I didn't warn you!
Sooner of later there arises in every human heart the desire for holiness, spirituality, God, call it what you will. One hears mystics speak of a divinity all around them that is within our grasp, that would make out lives meaningful and beautiful and rich, if we could only discover it. People have some sort of a vague idea as to what this thing is and they read books and consult gurus, in the attempt to find out what it is that they must do to gain this elusive thing called Holiness or Spirituality. They pick up all sorts of methods, techniques, spiritual exercises, formulas; then after years of fruitless striving they become discouraged and confused and wonder what went wrong. Mostly they blame themselves. If they had practiced their techniques more regularly, if they had been more fervent or more generous, they might have made it. But made what? They have no clear idea as to what exactly this holiness that they seek is, but they certainly know that their lives are still in a mess, they still become anxious and insecure and fearful, resentful and unforgiving, grasping and ambitious and manipulative of people. So once again they throw themselves with renewed vigor into the effort and labor that they think they need to attain their goal.
They have never stopped to this simple fact: Their efforts are going to get them nowhere. Their efforts only make things worse, as things become worse when you use fire to put out fire. Effort does not lead to growth; effort, whatever the form it may take, whether it be willpower or habit or a technique or a spiritual exercise, does not lead to change. At best it leads to repression and a covering over of the root disease.
You truly win the love of others not by the practice of techniques, but by being a certain kind of person. And that is never achieved through efforts and techniques. And so it is with Spirituality and Holiness. Not what you do is what brings it to you. This is not a commodity that one can buy or a prize that one can win. What matters is what you are, what you become.
Just about every month, some of the folks from the Sakred community do this amazing thing - they leave South OC at 6:30 am on a Saturday and get home the same day at something like 10 pm. What are they doing you ask? For the past few years we've been involved in building homes with Spectrum Ministries anywhere from Tijuana to Rosarito, Mexico. So far to date, we've build five home for families who otherwise would have no place to live.
Jesus has risen, the kingdom of God is here... so here's a house.
Beautiful, is it not?
Here's a few shots from our trip a few weeks ago...
If you'd like to see a little bit more of what this whole thing looks like, you can go here for some photos and videos. Our next trip will be on November 11th...
Recently a friend of mine turned me on to The Way to Love by Anthony De Mello, and I must say, I've been loving it. I've been using the readings as a way of meditation and have found them profound and challenging, at at times way too uncomfortable.
De Mello was a Jesuit priest from India who headed up the Sadhana Institute for Pastoral Counseling. He was much the contemplative, seeing the deep connections between the spiritual and the human. Amazing stuff, really.
Anyway, over the next week or so I'll post some quotes and thoughts from the book. Until then, here's a little something from the book...
Has it ever struck you that you have been programmed to be unhappy and so no mattr what you do to become happy, you are bound to fail?
If you wish to be happy the first thing you need is not effort or even goodwill or good desires but a clear understanding of how exactly you have been programmed. This is how it happened: First, your society and your culture taught you to believe that you would not be happy without certain persons or things.
Once you have swallowed your belief you naturally developed an attachment to this person or thing you were convinced you could not be happy without. Then came the efforts to acquire your precious thing or person, to cling to it once it was acquired, and to fight off every possibility of losing it. This finally lead you to abject emotional dependence so that the object of your attachment had the power to thrill you when you attained it, to make you anxious lest you be deprived of it and miserable when you lost it.
This is an exhausting task that leaves you little energy for the business of living and enjoying life fully. It is also an impossible task in an ever-changing world that you simply are not able to control. So instead of a life of serenity and fulfillment you are doomed to a life of frustration, anxiety, worry, insecurity, suspense, and tension.
Life is not giving you what you have convinced yourself you cannot be happy without.
Hardly anyone has been told the following truth: In order to be genuinely happy there is one and only one thing you need to do: get deprogrammed, get rid of the attachments.
All you need to do is open your eyes and see that you do not really need the object of your attachment at all; that you were programmed, brainwashed into thinking that you could not be happy or you could not live without this particular person or thing.
Say, "I am not really attached to you at all. I have merely cheated myself into the belief that without you I will not be happy." [pp. 19-25]
This has had profound implications as I've thought about what I think makes me happy and why I feel an empty void so often in my life. Materialsm, capitalism, the American dream - could these be the very things that have programmed us, setting us up with an eternal yearning for something that will never truly satisfy, something that leaves us cold and wanting in the end?
What might it look like for me to live with enough?
What might it look like for me to live simply, humbly, content, happy, fulfilled?
What might it look like to live at peace, true abiding peace?
Jesus came, not to affirm the programming, but to shatter it - to say that there was a better way to live, a better way to embrace life to the fullest...
We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm:
“You are my son;
today I have become your father.”
God raised him from the dead so that he will never be subject to decay. As God has said,
"I will give you the holy and sure
blessings promised to David."
Recently I was walking with my family down by the beach, and there was this guy handing out tracts to people as they walked by. Some people took them; others shook their heads and passed on by. He was standing in front of his van, which was covered with stickers and homemade posters, saying things like “Turn from your sin, or you’ll burn in the fires of hell!”
As we passed by, I couldn’t help but think. Is this what Jesus had in mind?
As I read the gospels I’ve been struck by something. It appears that Jesus' mode of sharing the good news of the kingdom was to live it and announce that it was breaking into this world. He doesn’t take an adversarial position with people who were “outside”. In fact, he deals most harshly with those who were “inside” the family of God. Fascinating.
When we see the disciples announcing the good news of the kingdom, we also see something amazing. They proclaimed that something wonderful had happened in Jesus. The very thing that God had promised to their ancestors had occurred in the person of Jesus. This was the good news – the kingdom of God had come, death was defeated, hope was here.
So I’ve been thinking lately. When did the good news become such bad news?
Often I hear people present the good news with words of fear and judgment. “If you don’t do this, then…” Why is it that we rarely hear people say, “If you embrace this, then…” In other words, why do we present the good news as bad news, rather then as the good news that it is? Why do we often speak of the gospel in terms of what it saves us from, rather than what it saves us to?
Unfortunately our perceptions, and often our methods, get confused. Perhaps you’ve heard people talk about the gospel, saying that it is offensive, as if this gives us the right to engage people quite offensively. When people then reject the gospel, we chalk it up to the gospel being “offensive”. Perhaps it’s not the gospel that is offensive, maybe we are. The scriptures talk about the cross “being an offense”, as something that calls people to reexamine how they are living their lives and what they are living for – but we are never called on to be offensive in sharing our faith.
Perhaps we need to return to the way of Jesus – living the gospel and announcing that a kingdom of hope has come. The gospel calls people to live a higher, a better way – to give up on a life that is destructive and to embrace a life of freedom and restoration, hope and forgiveness.
Some of the best people on planet earth, Ryan and Holly Sharp, were blessed with the birth to their first child, Paxton. Ryan and Holly have been very special friends of ours over the years. They are truly amazing people. We have been hugely blessed through our friendship with them, as many people have. If you'd like to drop them a note, you can do it here.
Paxton, in fact, is already quite the genius. He has started his own website already. Simply amazing!
Anyway, congrats you guys.
With grace and beauty, may the fruit of your womb bless the earth.
Through the amazing technology known as Blockbuster Online, movies keep appearing in my mailbox... and I am happy. Here are a few jems we've watched lately...
A few years back we had Rob Bell in to do a week long teaching series at our church [and yeah, it was amazing]. Anyway, the Bell and the DeVries tribes went out to dinner one night and Rob recommended this film. His take was that the film [which is a behind the scenes look at the stand up world] had some amazing connections with the role of teaching. So I finally got around to seeing and... he was right. If you wrestle weekly with bringing forth what God is doing in your heart and mind... you need to see this. To see Seinfeld emotionally wrestle with his craft is amazing. So many connections between stand up and teaching... who would have thought?!?
Jamie was the one who picked this one out... and a nice call it was. It's an independent film by filmmaker Rosemary Rodriguez - and was the talk of the Sundance Film Festival in 2001. Set in New York's Lower East Side, it portrays the raw reality of heroin addiction. The film's reality is wrought due to Rodriguez's own personal experience as a heroin addict. The film is heart-breaking, visually disturbing, and emotionally engaging. If you want glimpse into the reality that is herion addiction - this is the film. It is not a feel good film, but a real one. Not for the faint of heart.
I had been wanting to see this film for quite some time. I had heard the film was thought provoking, yet at times was hard to follow as it weaved in between storylines. As adverstised... a great movie. Quite thought provoking, and not nearly as partisan politcally as some make it out to be. It simply asks - to what extend would we as a country go in proclaiming that we were about "freedom" for the middle east, yet behind closed doors act in a way that would move against "freedom" because it was more beneficial economically for our country? Not a timely question at all, is it?!?