Saturday, March 26, 2005

Deconstructionism, Meaning, and Madness

My limited understanding of deconstructionism is that it results in making words (and experiences) completely subjective to the individual. Every word and act is subjective to a degree, but just because we can't have prefect objectivity does not mean we throw it out and replace it with complete subjectivism. It is like throwing a tantrum and saying, “Because I can't have it all, I don't want any.” That is what I call deconstructionism. If I am misusing the term, someone give me a better one.

A word delivers a field of ideas (but not all ideas) and an idea expresses a field of words (but not all words). Words are inexact at best. We need context and restatement of the same idea with different words so that the field of meanings for each word overlaps in a way that points to the idea.

If we strip words of their meanings (a word can mean anything), and then we are back to the tower of Babel (a word means nothing to the hearer). The more agreement we have about the meaning of words, the better we are able to transmit our ideas and effect change.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Where is the Joy?

It is a very good thing that James 1:2 tells us to be joyful during trials, because without this revelation it is unlikely that we would think of trials as an opportunity for joy. I will confess that joy is not my natural response to trials, and I am probably not the only one who has trouble finding joy while suffering. As a fellow sojourner on the way of holiness, I offer some truths about joy that I struggle to apply when trouble comes my way.

Joy is a response, not an invention. It is useless, unhealthy, and dishonest to conjure up joy when it is not there. God wants us to be joyful, but He demands that we be honest with Him and others. (Exodus 20:3-6,16).

Joy flows from faith. A lack of joy is a symptom of weak faith in God. James 1:3-4 says that joy is based in the knowledge that God will use the trial to perfect us. If we don't believe that God loves and cares for us, then joy is an impossibility.

So the question is not, "How do we strengthen our joy?" but, "How do we strengthen our faith in an all-powerful and all-loving God?" The answer is not complicated, but it also may not be easy. We need to:
1. Pray and confess our need for God. (Hebrews 10:22)
2. Read the Bible. (Hebrews 10:23)
3. Hang around believers who have a genuine faith in a loving and Holy God. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Joy is the goal, holiness is the way.

Friday, March 18, 2005

The calling of pastor?

A pastor is just a guy with a job. Get past all that nonsense about "The Anointed." A Pastor is not like King Saul or the Apostle John. They are not installed by God into that position. Pastors are Professional Christians. They are hired (and fired) by their employer - the congregation. It's ok.

Pastors should have the conviction that God wants them to be a pastor, but how is that different from anyone else? We should all be doing what we think God wants us to do. A pastor's "calling" is no greater than a "calling" to do anything else.

BUT many point out, the Bible says that teachers will be judged more harshly. There are lots of teachers in the church that are not pastors. All this passage is saying is that teachers and therefore pastors have a higher responsibility. In other words, the layman who teaches Sunday school and the pastor are equal.

How about "Ordination"? Ordination is a vetting process where a bunch of guys who have the job of pastor get together and agree that the new guy can also be a pastor. It is like being admitted to a guild.

How about the list of qualifications for an overseer and elder?

According to 1 Timothy 3:2-7, an overseer must be:
above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money, be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity, not a new convert, have a good reputation with those outside the church.

According to Titus 1:7-9, an overseer must also be:
above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

According to Titus 1:5-6, an elder is:
a man, above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.

In the Wesleyan Church an elder is equated with ordination. The qualifications for elder are easy. The higher calling appears to be overseer. What's an overseer? Is it a district superintendent? Anyway, these thing sound like a good list for board members, Sunday school teachers, lay leaders in the Church - it's just a good list of qualities in Christians.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

a Word and a Song

"Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life."
Romans 6:4

"As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free"
Battle Hymn of the Republic

Friday, March 11, 2005

John Huss is us?

In 1415, John Huss was burned at the stake. The story told briefly, started when John Huss and his followers began preaching against Pope John XXIII. Pope John was gathering an army, so he could war against one of the other Popes (at the time there were three Popes). He promised full forgiveness of all sins to everyone who fought on his side. Three of Huss's friends were beheaded when they preached against the Pope's conferring of these indulgences. So Huss knew the Pope's agents were willing to kill in order to quiet opposition, but he continued to say things like, "Not the Pope, but Christ only, is the head; and not the Cardinals, but all Christ's faithful people, be the body of the Catholic Church."

John Huss was eventually captured and burned at the stake as a heretic. As the fire grew he sang, "Jesus Christ! the son of the living God! have mercy on me." Only half of his body was consumed in that fire. They started another fire to burn the upper part of Huss's body, first crushing the head so it would be sure to be burned up. They also cut out his heart, beat it with clubs, and burned it in a separate fire. Foxe's Book of Martyrs concludes John Huss's story with,
"Then, with great diligence gathering the ashes together, they cast them into the river Rhine, that the least remnant of that man should not be left upon the earth, whose memory, notwithstanding, cannot be abolished out of the minds of the godly, neither by fire, neither by water, neither by any kind of torment."

Do we want to stand for Christ against the tide of the world? How is this world going to be better (more Godly) for our passing through it? How about our children? What would we think if our children grew up to be a John Huss? Or are we glad John Huss was someone else's child?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Martialism vs Pacifism

I am a Martialist. Generally, Martialism is the opposite of Pacifism. However, Pacifism and Martialism are not equal opposites because the Martialist is free to employ Tactical Pacifism but the Pacifist is never free to engage in any kind of Martialism.

Open Pacifism can be used tactically against a civilized enemy. Pacifists would not last long against a Kim Jong of North Korea. The passive pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in Beijing learned that Gandhi and King had the benefit of humane opponents.

Many Christians see Pacifism as an expression of the second greatest commandment - Love your neighbor as yourself. “How can I love someone while I am hurting him?” This is a very shallow way of looking at it. My question is how can you love your neighbor if you are dead or maimed? Defend yourself and then show him love.

Another popular variant on pacifism is where people claim they would only kill to defend others (like their kids) but not themselves. This is just stupid. When you defend yourself, you are defending your family, because your family needs you.

Pacifism is the luxury. When a Pacifist is confronted with someone trying to hurt or kill him or his family, what does he do? He calls the cops or goes to the courts and has them do what he won't. Or he prays to God (and hopes God isn't also a Pacifist). Pacifists can afford to be cowards because they live in a land protected by Martialists.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Full Contact Christianity

Full Contact Christians need to be thick-skinned because we believe in being real with each other and free of fear. We practice Full Contact Christianity. We are sick of going to churches that just talk about being accountable.

That means if you do something that upsets or confuses me, I’m going to talk with you about it rather than stew over it (and talk to everyone else about it). It also means that if I do something that makes you confused or upset and you confront me about it, then I’m going to listen not over-react.

Full Contact Christians are not emotional or spiritual pacifists. We are not afraid to take off the gloves, look each other in the eye, and get real. That means we might hurt each other. Sometimes healing REQUIRES pain. When we go to a doctor or dentist, do we walk out if there is some pain? Do we stop rehabilitating an injury because it hurts? NO and NO. Sometimes it hurts to get better.

If we want to belong to a church that is about real growth and serious about healing hurts, then we need to be thick-skinned enough to engage in the kind of Full Contact Christianity it requires.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Jeet Kune Do and the thread of True Human Combat

Bruce Lee was looking for the true art of fighting like a human. He called it Jeet Kune Do (JKD). I think of it as the art of True Human Combat (THC) even though I still usually call it JKD in honor of Bruce’s work.

JKD is not the same as Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). JKD is about eliminating and simplifying. MMA is a process of putting on more and more arts/systems.

MMA is a collection of different arts - Doce Pares for stick and Kali for knife, Boxing in hand range, Muay Thai kicks and elbow, Brazilian JuJitsu and a little Sambo for fight on the ground. It’s like a chimera with a lion's head and a goat's body and a serpent's tail. It’s unnatural.

JKD pursues the thread of True Human Combat that runs through many arts. I may adopt punches, kicks, etc., but have no loyalty to those systems. If I learn a Muay Thai kick and simplify it and a Muay Thai guy tells me, "that's wrong, we don't kick like that" - it means nothing because it isn’t a Muay Thai kick anymore. It's a JKD kick again. It's my kick. It's part of my JKD - the art of fighting like Iron Punk.

NOW - that doesn't mean I can just throw my fist or leg out there anyway I want and it’s the Art of True Human Combat. We are all subject to the same physical realities. There are principles of movement, striking, combat that are true and apply to all of us, but even those truths are reexamined for cleaner, simpler ways of expressing True Human Combat for each individual.