Called. pt.2

My pastor, John has a good point in a commit that he made on my “Called.” post. The concept of a lack of trust in God being central to this problem and the fact the our calling is at the core of who we are was not well defined in the entry. It puts things in a slightly different light when you think that instead of focusing on becoming who I am supernaturally inclined to be, I need to focus on relationship with God.

It made me immediately imagine a flower that is planted in the shade that was meant for open spaces and full sunlight. After a number of weeks the plant still has not bloomed and the gardener is frustrated because he knows what the plant is suppose to be like from the picture that came with the plant when he bought it at the store. In the picture, the plant is robust, coloriful and fragrant, but the thing before him is a sickly, drab eyesore. Our life can be like that plant, we wonder why it is not thriving, why it is not what it should be. What it is for us to be is still there inside us, it does not have to be manifactured or strived for, it is simply what we are. Rather we need to get out of the shade and into the light of day. We need to set ourselves before God and bask in His love, majesty, power… all that He is and all that He offers if we are to bloom.

All you have to do is trust God and learn to be captivated by our first love once again. So simple, but such a tall order. In my mind’s eye that life can seem a world away sometimes. Still, if we focus only on the situation that we find ourselves in, we are focusing on the shade/sin around us and not on the only thing that can change that state we find ourselves in, the sun/God.

Good comment John, thanks.

Update: ‘How to’ Extinguish the Sun, pt.2

Knowledge on ‘How to’ Extinguish the Sun is apparently far too controversial for wikiHow to allow it to remain. Poor old James Quirk, creator of the article, was spanked by the powers that be at wikiHow and his article was removed. James explains this all to us in a new post at wikiHow, but we will just have to wait and see how long this article lasts.

Apparently this topic of extinguishing the Sun has been floating around for quite some time. When I google “Extinguish the Sun” I found quite a wealth of commentary and information on the subject.

Here are some of the more interesting links:

Anti-Nuclear Protesters Target The Sun by Missy Enformed

the Game.

Dusk in the afternoon by Brian Fitzgerald of B.U. Bridge

Black Solstice from Hammer of Gods by Angelcorpse (an uplifting little diddy)

Here’s a funny:

An astronomer is on an expedition to Darkest Africa to observe a total eclipse of the Sun, which will only be observable there, when he’s captured by cannibals. The eclipse is due the next day around noon. To gain his freedom he plans to pose as a god and threaten to extinguish the Sun if he’s not released, but the timing has to be just right. So, in the few words of the cannibals’ primitive tongue that he knows, he asks his guard what time they plan to kill him. The guard’s answer is “Tradition has it that captives are to be killed when the Sun reaches the highest point in the sky on the day after their capture so that they may be cooked and ready to be served for the evening meal”. “Great”, the astronomer replies. The guard continues though, “But because everyone’s so excited about it, in your case we’re going to wait until after the eclipse.”


It is really hard not to use Christianese, terminology and phrasing specific to the Christian culture, when you have been running in Christian circles for so long. The only word I know for what I want to communicate is the concept of being “called�. Being called is what one is called to do and be by God, kind of your purpose and reason for being. Come to think of it, the term ‘calling’ is not unknown to the post-Christian culture. I have heard it used by people in non-profits and social work as a reason for doing what they do. Still, when I think of the term ‘calling’ I think of a concept that is very religious or spiritual in nature, if not specifically Christian, that many do not understand.

All that is not the reason for this post though, other then to say that I have been thinking about God’s ‘call’ on my life. What is the reason and purpose for me being here? This is a question that I feel I can answer with some level of confidence, yet I never do when posed the question. See, I think that I have a pretty good bead on the work that God has for me to do in His kingdom, it is just that I feel so far away from that person that I need to be to in order to do what I am ‘called’ to that I do not think I am that person yet.

This was pointed out to me in no uncertain terms yesterday, and it pissed me off. I am more mad at myself then anything else. What am I waiting for? I have known for some years the direction my life needs to go to fulfill this ‘call’ on my life, but yet I hesitate to commit myself to this path.

The answer is fear I am afraid :). I have a huge fear of failure and of not being accepted that in some ways it has kept me chained to a place in my life that I do not want to be. Maybe you do not know what is like to be scared into inaction. It does not feel so much like fear I think, rather you feel numb and tired. It is kind of like a bug bite, you do not feel the bite so much as the itch that is your body’s response to it.

When I think of the task before me, I would rather sleep or watch movie or something, anything other then what I must do. It is almost a paralyzing way of interacting with the world but I have been able to get by pretty well none-the-less. Did I mention hating just getting by. I am not without hope though, it is impossible for me to believe that God has put this ‘call’ in my life and not also started me down the road of change necessary to become a person that can fulfill that ‘call’.

In truth I do not really ever want to feel like I am qualified for my ‘calling’ because in that I can see a sense of security and superiority that leads to complacency and self-dependence. The tension between my inability and the service I am ‘called’ to is the, potentially, perfect recipe for dependence on God and His sufficiency… but that is another story for another day.

So, what am I ‘called’ to? You know that when you speak something forth, it takes a certain unexplainable hold on reality. It is the nature of being created in the image of God that our words have the power to created or destroy, and am just not ready to create or destroy this ‘calling’ yet. So I will do something uncharacteristic and hold my tongue on this question.

Two blogs that have got me thinking about preparedness vs. God sufficiency:

Judy by Gordon Atkinson at Real Live Preacher

“You know about that deacon thing, how I was nominated and all?�
“Well, I was gonna say ‘No.’ I thought about it a lot, and I decided that I just wasn’t worthy of something like that. I mean, I just finally stopped smoking, and I still cuss sometimes. I’m trying to do better with that.â€?
I opened my mouth to say something, but she continued before I could get a word out.
“But then I read your book.” She began to smile. “And I thought, dang, if this guy can be the PASTOR of the church, surely I could be a deacon or something.â€?

Legalism by any other name is… by Scot McKnight at Jesus Creed

Instead of using “legalism,” which has become a bogey word for bogey opponents for each of us, why not shift this term to “covenant path markers” so we can get a fresh start on a genuinely serious problem we all face?

Here’s what covenant path markers do (and now I begin to extrapolate from Holmen’s study): first, they quantify covenant faithfulness into behavior that can be measured and seen; second, they enable us to “judge ourselves” on whether or not we are faithful; and third, they enable us to judge others on whether or not the others are faithful.

Legalism, aka covenant path marking, is a vicious form of life: instead of living faithfully, we are judging faithfulness. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for covenant faithfulness.)


Dude at Paradoxology is offering up some images of Protestant Evangelical worship and asking for reactions. The interesting thing about the picture in part 3 is that it looks a lot like a friend of mine, Rusty. Rusty is a surfer and a rebel from way back, sure he has found success in business but, man, I have never thought of him as a suit or a traditional evangelical conservative.

It just seems like we are so ready to categorize and criticize, and I would be right there judging if dude did not look so much like my friend and mentor. See I know my friend’s story, we have a relationship, we know each other’s deep stuff and that knowledge does not give me the freedom to judge him.

So what about the guy in the picture? My guess is that he is just someone who resembles my friend. Even so, it makes me think that this guy has a history that I have no idea about and this is just a snapshot of one moment in his life. I do not know his struggles or his joys. I have no idea what goes through his mind at night when he is staring at the ceiling before falling asleep. I do not know the situations that have drove him to his knees and has made him cry. I have no idea, if he is just a guy that resembles my friend Rusty. But if that is Rusty, I do know some of what he has been though and some of what makes him the man he is today.

Either way, I cannot bring myself to judge him or even quantify my opinion of what he is doing/experiencing in that picture simply because when I look at him I see my friend and I just cannot bring myself to presume his intentions or the veracity of his experience, much less ridicule or poke fun him.

That reminds me of another friend, one that promised us that He would stick closer to us then a brother. If I believe what I read in the bible is true then we are all bearers of His image. Do you see the parallel?

Things that chaff my hide.

Ok, maybe I should take a break from listening to the news, all it does is frustrate me anyways, but (the great verbal eraser) I just get so mad when I hear about stuff like this impending “nuclear option”.

I resent the republicians playing the God card on this and am saddened that leaders in the conservative Christian movement have fallen for it. I mean, come on! Liberal politians are “against people of faith”, can you be any more inflammatory?

Here are some quotes and article links that explain my position much better then I could:

“Despite the fact that Democrats oppose these judges for their views on a variety of subjects, conservative leaders have singled out abortion and gay marriage as their chief concerns and only want judges who support their agenda. Despite the fact that many Democrats who oppose some of President Bush’s nominees are themselves people of faith, Republicans and their religious supporters are questioning the faith and religious integrity of their opponents.”
Filibustering people of faith? by Jim Wallis of Sojourners

“But the biggest concern about removing the judicial filibuster is not about whether Democrats or Republicans score points. The current system is in place in part to make sure the judiciary never lurches too far in one political direction or another. Eliminating the judicial filibuster removes a set of brakes on partisan governance in the one branch of government that is the most removed from the political fray. It paves the way for more ideological judges on both the right and left.”
‘Nuclear option’ and bipartisan hypocrisy By Dante Chinni of Christian Science Monitor

“The filibuster is a tactic that delays votes with endless discussion. It is used to keep a slim majority from running roughshod over the minority.”
Religion, politics intersect in ‘Justice Sunday’ by Steve Lannen of The Lexington Herald-Leader

Syntax over Substance (cont.)

In my mind’s eye, correctly or not, Colson is the Mind and Wallis is the Heart in the argument of a Christian’s moral responsibility in society today. One espouses doctrinal accuracy and the other charitable compassion; one trusts the guiding of the heart and the other the guiding of the intellect. Compassion let’s the heart of God lead the way and intellect looks for safer ground in the immutable Word of God and, in the words of Rudyard Kipling, “and never the twain shall meet�.

It isn’t that Chuck Colson is uncaring or that Jim Wallis is intellectually devoid but I will say that Colson is more of an ideologue while Wallis is more pragmatic… Funny, you would think the opposite would be true.

It is a question of doing good verses being good. Wallis wants to deal with the hurt that is right here, right now and Colson is digging for the spiritual roots of society’s woes and neither may be getting it “right”.

Here’s the latest from the boys:

An open letter to Chuck Colson by Jim Wallis

Moral Equivalency: The Religious Left Gets It Wrong, BreakPoint with Charles Colson

Syntax over Substance

The logical and rational have always battled against the emotional and intuitive; at least that is how it seems to me. It is as if these concepts in human behavior are mutually excusive in some way, demanding a person to choose a side; as if we did not all come with some measure and ability to operate in all these states of being.

Some fear emotionalism is overtaking the Christian church today. The thinking is that we judge the veracity of everything based on how it makes us feel and that for something to be understood it must be first experienced. It is an idea that has an underlying assumption that emotions too easily become Pavlovian responses to any given set of circumstances and should not be trusted or given merit. It is almost a subconscious perception that feelings are weak, yielding and easily manipulated generally for nefarious and selfish purposes.

There are yet others who look at the pervasion of the dogmatic, doctrinal and orthodox in the Christian church as a rigid legalism that is not content unless everything can be defined, explained and condensed. This concept assumes that one of the only reasons someone would be attracted to this kind of religion is because they are emotionally stinted, compensating for a lack of relational skills with logic; an ideology that loves being right and correct over all things.

It is almost like the heart is in conflict with the mind and that love is battling against truth in a cancerous war where the body of Christ is attacking itself.

Perhaps, I should elaborate, but my get up and go just got up and went, so I am going to close this post.

What got me thinking like this?

The Postmodern Crackup by Chuck Colson
An Open Letter to Chuck Colson by Brian McLaren
Chuck Colson’s Personal Response

WCAL Alt Rock for the Discerning

So my sister Jen sent me this Star-Trib article on the new format of WCAL, the radio station recently purchased by Minnesota Public Radio from St. Olaf College this fall.

The article caught my attention right away with it’s first paragraph:

“Adventurous music lovers whose tastes range from Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” to the current buzz band Arcade Fire will find a commercial-free haven next month on the former classical radio station WCAL.”

Awesome! No really, I am ecstatic about this. The quality and sensibilties of MPR programming married to a music format that I can relate to is something that could get me listening to music on the radio again. No offence intended Radio K.

I immediately began to wonder if there is any room in this format to explore faith-based musical expression, you know, the non-crossover type. So I decided to give the fine staff over at WCAL a shout via a neat little blog they setup for the purpose of sharing ongoing developments and getting future listener feedback.

Here’s what I had to say:
Continue reading “WCAL Alt Rock for the Discerning”

What is the Church really?

Looking at the little congregation that i am a part of, i realize that it embodies our tribe’s ‘expression of’ and ‘connection to’ the body of Christ, otherwise known as “the Church”. Our individual relationship to Jesus, at least in some measure, is fleshed out in our connection to one another. God has brought us together at bluer(my church) for a purpose, He has bonded us for a reason.

Do I ever sit and ponder the mystic wonder of that? Do I really embrace the truth of it… honor the holiness of it?

I feel blessed to be a part of bluer and the community around it and really believe that what we are doing there is “the Church”. Is it a perfect reflection of Christ? Not likely, but bluer is, if i can speak for my brothers and sisters, a heartfelt and honest expression of our devotion to God.

This pondering is brought to you by Romans, chapter 12.