Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A New Personal Best

I'm sure you are all well aware by now, but I have a deep passion for rock climbing. It has become quite an obsession for me and has absorbed much of my time over the past year and a half. Today I reached a new height in my rock climbing resume, as I climbed at 5.11+ on lead today. I realize that this data may not mean much to many of you, but it really is quite an accomplishment for me so I thought I would share my joy and excitement with my blog community. Thanks for indulging me.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I hope that you all have fantastic weekends with friends and family. Mandy and I will be at our cabin in Glacier National Park for the weekend, so we are excited for a weekend away with my family and a chance to hang out at one of my favorite places in the world. Blessings to you!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Totally Exhausted

As the title details, I'm completed drained from a weekend of rock climbing. A group of 10 of us traveled to Vantage, WA on Saturday morning to rock climb yesterday and today. Amidst terrible rumors of nasty Pacific Northwest weather, we have had relatively good conditions and this weekend was great. I did freeze my butt off last night, though, as it still is late November. All in all it was a fantastic weekend of connecting with old friends, making new ones, and spending time on the rock. I'm already looking forward to the next trip, whenever that may be.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thoughts on Scripture

Last night in class, my professor, Dwight Friesen, quoted his mentor in saying, "We can never understand Scripture until we are willing to stand under Scripture" (emphasis mine). This is such a brilliant thought that I am continuing to process today. For too long the church has attempted to 'master' Scripture, to seemingly make it our slave, when the real call is to fall under its authority, wisdom, leading, and inspiration. How can we take serious the words of our sacred text and learn to stand under it rather than either standing over it or seeking to understand it?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cows & Economics

Here is a post that I came across today on Brian McLaren's blog. He didn't write it, but I appreciated the humor today. Enjoy a brief lesson on our diverse global economies with the help of bovine. Here is the LINK.

Doing What's Worth Dying For

I realize that I don't often write about the things I'm learning in my classes. Its not that I'm not learning, but its more that I'm learning so much and it is such difficult work of processing what I'm learning that it is tough to put all my thoughts into a brief post. I'll try to be more frequent in filling you in as to the great education I'm receiving at MHGS.

One idea that my professor, Dan Allender, speaks of often is the idea of only doing that which is worth dying for. Dan even says that if his class is not worth dying for, then it is a waste of our time. He speaks of how you could get in a car accident on the way to class and life would be over, so if you are going to take that risk for anything in life, the reward of the activity or relationship had better be worth losing your life over.

The flip side of this is that if you are going to choose to do something, you had better make it worth dying for. Although morbid, the truth is that any of us could suddenly choke and die during a meal, so you have to ask yourself if that meal is worth dying for. Have you surrounded yourself with the people you love most? Has your conversation been filled with life-changing content? Was the meal, or any activity for that matter, really worth the risk?

I realize that this thought is a bit extreme, because you can't always do "only" things worth dying for, but it has at least become a guideline to help hold me accountable in my actions. This thought can help keep me from straying into activities of dissociation and help me focus on life in the real world that can be a blessing to me, others, and the Kingdom.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Stuff Christians Like

I must be in a "blog-promo" mood, but I just had to draw your attention to a blog that I've been hooked on in recent weeks. I discovered this site called "Stuff Christians Like," a site full of brilliant, hilarious, and enlightening writing that daily entertains and convicts me. The author, Prodigal John, regularly comments about strange and amusing things that Christians seem to enjoy that don't make sense when you really think about them. I encourage you to check out his site, and I guarantee he will have you laughing out loud by the end of the first post you read. Click HERE for the site. The following is the first paragraph from his newest post.

#438. Refusing to let people borrow your pen in church.
I like to think I’m a kind person, that deep down I have some degree of compassion bubbling in my heart like a holiday themed flavor of coffee. Perhaps a butternut toffee or peppermint stick swirl. But then something major happens and my true colors come out just like Cyndi Lauper promised they would. An economic downturn? A job loss or relationship crumbling? Nope, I'm talking about a major event, like someone asking to borrow my pen.

A Prophetic Voice

Here's another prophetic cartoon from the brilliant Jon Birch, calling the church to a higher level. If you're not reading "The Ongoing Adventures of ASBO Jesus" regularly, you should be.

HT: ASBO Jesus

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Seriously...That's Awesome!

So I'm at work right now and someone just called in to volunteer for us who had the craziest name that I've ever heard. I really can't believe her parents did this to her and I'm glad mine didn't do that to me, but I still think it is the coolest name. Ready...here it is:

Destination Sunnyday

No joke. Real first name is 'Destination'. Real last name is 'Sunnyday'. I don't think that will ever be topped for me in all-time greatest names. Good luck trying.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

What if you truly loved...

mhgs what no. 2 from blaine hogan on Vimeo.

The content of this video is the reason that Mandy and I packed up all our belongings, kissed our friends goodbye, and left all that had been comfortable for 8 years to move across the country. We honestly believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ really can be 'good news' to the world. We truly believe that the life, death, and resurrection of the Prince of Peace, the Son of God, can radically change the world in all areas...in economical and social and spiritual and political ways. If we didn't believe this way, we would be foolish to give up all we had for this life of the unknown. We have no idea where this crazy journey will take us and we invite God to move and shape our path.

So far I have had 2 of these people as professors in class, Dan and Dwight. This video only captures a glimpse of the depth, intellect, and passion that the professors at MHGS have for the ministry of redemption and reconciliation. I am truly blessed to be studying here in Seattle at this school. I thank God each day for this opportunity.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Honk of Redemptive Violence

Scholars much more intelligent than myself have brought to my attention that our world operates on what they call "the myth of redemptive violence." This premise maintains that our tit-for-tat culture is under the assumption that the next act of violence will be the last act of violence. We believe that that next comeback or harsh word or name called or bomb dropped, will finally settle the score for good, bringing about redemption through these means of violence.

It is obvious that this is a myth. Just look at antics on the elementary school playground. One kid says something mean to another and the other responds. Now the bar has been raised and there is an expectation of something worse than the previous comment. We've all been a part of these escalating engagements, and we realize that they never end civilly. They always end with someone being hurt irreparably, but never redemptively.

I witnessed an example of this while downtown a few weeks ago. In a big city you are constantly inundated with sounds, one of them being horns honking as impatience levels rise in the midst of heavy traffic. Usually, however, this honking is one-sided (one person is mad at another, and the other feels shamed for their poor decisions). That day, though, I heard my first "double honk". One car honked at another and immediately the other car honked in response. It was definitely the sounds of the myth of redemptive violence. There's no way that the second honk was going to let the first honk have the last word.

I was so keenly aware at that moment of the idiocy of this quest to settle the score through upping the ante. The message of Jesus, and a few others who have followed (i.e. MLK, Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Oscar Romero), has shown for us that the only true redemptive comes through non-violent resistance. In the words of Jesus, it is the willingness to "take up your cross" that shows the world the true beauty of the redemptive process, the life of turning the other cheek, loving your neighbor, and ultimately carrying the burden of the cross of calvary upon your back. The hard part is that the cross is heavy and may cost us everything, and many of us (myself included on most days) aren't willing to bear that load. May we be people who lean into the life of ultimate sacrifice, a life of submission that leads to redemption.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Let the Issues Be the Issue

A scary picture, but an even scarier reality...that in 21st Century America, supposedly the most civilized culture in human history, we would still allow race and gender to be deciding factors in the election and support of our leaders. Shame on us.

HT: Marko

I Voted...Saturday

When Mandy and I registered to vote in Washington, I don't remember telling them that we would prefer to vote absentee, but regardless, our voter ballot arrived in the mail last week. So, Saturday evening we sat down to vote. I am really glad that we were able to vote in the comfort of our own home with no time restraints or the claustrophobia of those tiny booths (not to mention not having to wait in line).

I am constantly reminding myself today that regardless of who wins this election, my ultimate allegiance cannot be to any power of this world but I must fix my gaze on the Ruler of the Kingdom of God. I love America and am glad I live in this country, but we must remember that any kingdom of the world will always pale in comparison to the Kingdom of God.

A Derek Webb song has been running through my mind all morning so I thought I would share it with you today. The song is called "A Savior on Capitol Hill" and is a great commentary on not putting our trust in politics or any person. The lyrics can be found here.