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index_image.jpgHi everyone. I came across this Social Network Type of Website (not like myspace or facebook) with an Adventist twist. Its seems like it will be a place to discuss any kind of questions, theological, cultural or just about anything on your mind. It was created by a guy named Patrick, he wanted to see a place where Adventist could diaglogue.

For Advent this year our Advent Series was entitled “Hope Rising”, because we believe that in the darkest of times whether it be historical, spiritual, emotional, or mental – Hope Rises with the belief that with the Advent of Jesus he brought hope with Him. Hope of a new way to live that leads to the best possible life. This is the final sermon of our series that wraps up the series and introduces our new series for 2008. Click on the link to listen it might take a few seconds please be patient We’ve Only Just Begun

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I just started reading Brian McLaren‘s newest book, Everything Must Change and I am loving it. For the past several months this blog has acted as more of a message board than anything that even resembles an actual attempt at a conversation. So in an attempt to write with more substance I am going to start writing about what I come across in Everything Must Change.

I thought the format for this discussion might have three sections: (1) Excerpt from book, (2) Dialogue, mostly with myself, (3) Questions. My hopes are that we can dialogue together.

EXCERPT (the following excerpt was spoken by Claude a peace activist from Burundi, to a group of other peace hungry citizens from around the region of East Africa, Rwanda is one of those places)

“Eventually I realized something. I had never heard a sermon that addressed these realities(i.e. death, hatred, distrust, poverty, suffering, corruption, injustice). Did God only care about our souls going to heaven after we died? Were our hungry bellies unimportant to God? Was God unconcerned about our crying sons and frightened daughters, our mothers hiding under beds, our fathers crouching by windows, unable to sleep because of gunfire? Or did God send Jesus to teach us how to avoid genocide by learning to love each other, how to overcome tribalism and poverty by following his path, how to deal with injustice and corruption, how to make a better life here on earth-here in East Africa.” (19)

DIALOGUE. When I read this I was using the stationary bike at a local gym, and I had to stop just so that I could process this. What I have observed of the Christianity of the Western World is that it has become nothing short of a self serving life philosophy. We look for churches that fill our needs, and when that church no longer meets our needs we move on to the next one (and sometimes as pastor’s because we have at times been fooled into thinking that numbers are important we keep trying to fill those needs and in doing so perpetuate the never ending cycle of self-serving Christianity). The thing is that if that is the case, that we are always looking for a church that meets our needs, or rather “feeds us spiritually” we will not have any time to look beyond ourselves, unless we are forced to. I think that it is only when we look beyond ourselves that Christianity becomes real and authentic. When I read the above section, and tried to put myself in that situation hearing the crys of children and the sight of mothers hiding it was terrifing to me. It wasn’t so much that the visual of this happening was terrifing, but rather that this was and is happening in the world, while I have for the past several years enjoyed my white chocolate lattes, supersized meals, entertainment on the silver screen just to be distracted from the hustle and bustle of our everyday.

I have a sneaking suspicion that if we were the ones experiencing the above mentioned, our first responses would be to pray. We read the narratives of scripture, like Daniel in the lions den, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and we read ourselves into those narratives because we believe that God cares. For them their prayers is a sign of hope and faith, but for us in the western world their prayers have become our permission to wash our hands of any responsibility to help. Because after all if they have prayed then God will handle it. The words, “What can I do about something happening half way around the world” become our non spoken motto. Our Christianity must be anything but that. I write about his because I see what is happening and I cannot help but feel helpless. What can I do, a pastor of two small parishes in the desert? What can we do? Seriously I could use some answers!

QUESTIONS. If our Christianity doesn’t have an effect on the society around us, does it even matter? What is a Christianity that doesn’t affect society, really about? What is our personal hope for heaven at some point in the future, if people are experiencing hell every single day all around the world?

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If you are from the Imperial Valley we are starting a new teaching series at our Seventh-day Adventist churches, in Brawley (Worship Service at 9:30 AM) and El Centro (Worship Service at 11 AM). The series is called “Learning to Live Well” – we will be looking at what it means that Jesus was resurrected, and what it means that we are a “resurrected” c0mmunity. “Learning to Live Well” will go back to the message of Jesus and what it means for us to day.

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I came across the Electric Angel blog a few days ago and found this project this group of graphic designers just finished working on. It’s called the Mount Project. They designed seven typographic posters based on the Sermon on the Mount. Each poster is a “re-phrasing” or interpretation of a key passage from the sermon. These posters are simple yet they are powerful.

Finding these when I did was perfect timing. In the fall we are starting a sermon series on the what it means to experience life as a resurrected community.  Along with the sermon series we are also putting together ways that we can engage our community.  And I thought the sermon on the mount would be a good starting point. You can download these posters in pdf from their site. We are thinking of getting these printed in postcard size and handing them out to everyone that comes to our gatherings every weekend to remind them of the words of Jesus. I can use any ideas and suggestions anyone might have.

SEX GOD.

I don’t know about you but growing up in what was a fairly conservative home, those two words(SEX, GOD) were not used in the same sentence, EVER! Unless of course the sentence read,

“God says, DON’T HAVE SEX!”

Some of you might know exactly what I mean. A few weeks ago I was invited to share a few words of encouragement for a high School Baccalaureate, in which the speakers preceding me, made it a point to tell the graduates, among other things to NOT HAVE SEX (until they were married of course). I won’t say whether I agree or disagree with the speakers, even though I do agree.

But I will say that I don’t know that I would have used

the method

they did

to get

the point across.

I don’t think that you can tell someone not to do something, without giving them something to do(Look at Ephesians 4:48). For too long the Christianity which i have been associated with(and gathering from the Baccalaureate) and the other mainline Christians life has become a stark ‘black and white’ contrast when it comes to sexuality. If you do it you are bad, if you don’t do it you are good. I know that statement is overly simplistic but that is how the message came across, and at times still does.

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Rob Bell’s newest book SEX GOD: Exploring the Endless Connections between Sexuality and Spirituality talks about just those things. He gets into the gray between the black and white, which then becomes even clearer than the Black and White guidelines. I will post some more about the book later.

Raising awareness about something doesn’t always mean that this awareness raises a sense of caring. It seems that from the time I can remember, Christianity has been something that at times, is worn on a sleeve or carried around like an accessory. One of the things that I have learned over the years is that Christianity should be less about what we call ourselves and more about the actions that come from us. In much of the literature that is emerging about authentic Christianity is that our Christianity must be one that is “incarnate”. The words of Jesus in John 20:21 are “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” This is our churches first step in our journey of discovering what it means to live an incarnate faith.

We know we did not change the world in one afternoon by handing out lunches with other goodies, but we felt like it was the beginning of something that extended beyond ourselves. Raising awareness about the homeless in our community is nothing new, and it doesn’t mean raising a sense of caring. For a faith to be incarnate, it means that we must care, not just about the homeless but also those that have homes, but are emotionally in need, physically in need, and spiritually in need. Everyone must begin somewhere.

(I don’t know how to use flickr to show the entire set of pictures from this day so the pictures below are the best I could do).

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