One as Another

“Adolescent killed by elephant in tragic misunderstanding”, claims newpaper, The Christian Appropriator

The headline story of The Christian Appropriator began,

A tragic death occurred yesterday, when young Johnny C. Liche was trampled by an elephant during a circus performance. Upon questioning, his teacher, Mrs. Rela T. Vism, stated that she was shocked that it happened. “We teach the children about great beasts,” said 4th grade teacher, Vism. “He was such a bright boy and always knew all the answers – especially in zoology lessons,” she continued. This is no unique occurrence, though. It seems that many students from After-Modernity Elementary School of Subjectivity have been suffering these “accidents”, due to a lack of LIVING WHAT THEY LEARN . . .

The article went on to explain that some methods of education lack the ability to appropriate what has been learned. Appropriation could be defined as,

from L. appropriationem (nom. appropriatio) “a making one’s own,”specifically regarding education – to take knowledge and apply it to actual living.

Some children know about fire, yet think they won’t get burned; know about ethics, but cheat without remorse; learn about the size and nature of elephants, yet stand below a bull during a dangerous performance – these are the results of taking things that are true and treating them as mere possibility. It is the motto of the After-Modernity Elementary School of Subjectivity, or (AMESS), to imbue such compartmentalization:

Learning that Truth is what You make it

The Christian Appropriator continues,

This is an issue on all fronts of life, Christianity not being immune. It is not uncommon for people to “know” something as true, yet not live it out. In fact, the knowledge, for some, proves to most often be empty at best and false at worst. The Fathers understood the difference between Knowledge, Understanding and Belief (latin, notitia, assensus, fidicia). It is only when one believes (fiducia) a something as True (a capital “T” being Objective Truth), will one apply it to their lives. Many would deny the existence of such objective truth, yet ironically “believe” that statement to be absolutely true. Everyone believes, it’s just some believe the elephant is a fact only in the story and others find the truth in the sound of his trumpet and the pound of his footstep. They need not be mutually exclusive, the information and the thing. It is just that the information must always point to the thing – AND THE THING IS THE POINT, NOT THE SOUNDS AND SYMBOLS ABOUT THE THING . . . NOT JUST THE LANGUAGE. This is where Anselm, Descartes and even Aquinas helped us a bit in their discussions of ontology – namely that something can be shown to exists because we can conceive of it in our minds. They apply this mainly to God and His existence. One might argue that could mean that because a little girl could draw a pink, panda with purple polka dots, dancing with monkey on a high-wire made of noodles, over a sea filled with mermaids that such things exist. This takes the argument further than it intends. It would merely prove that pandas, monkeys, colors, fishtails, women, oceans, dance positions and noodles exist. The unusual and unrealistic in the painting is just a combination of reality, otherwise the child could not conceive of them in their mind.

Truth is definitive, not relative. We are not to define it, rather discover it before “the shoe drops.”

By the way, the article above is not actual, but the point is. 😉

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Discipleship 3.1 – The Method

Whenever we encounter elemental, or core theological principles, we often feel as though a tsunami-like wave has crashed over us – because we just want to know:

1. What do we do?

2. (and maybe more forefront in our minds) How do we do it?

Now, there is a danger crouching behind these questions, but I will deal with that in 3.2.

So far we have seen that we have been given a Mission and such an imperative has the implied call to obey it. I suppose it isn’t too cliche to say that God doesn’t make suggestions. This should be delightfully obeyed, because it should find an immediate harmonious connection within our own desires, thus given us a very organic internal Motivation – namely, that we are Christians who love Jesus and we want others to love Him too. If you have trouble agreeing with the first two points in this paragraph and series, then you may not know Him, even likely so. If that is the case, go here.

So, to answer the first question, we are to make disciples of Jesus Christ. This must never be eclipsed by men, fellowships, denominations, traditions nor religion.

We DO NOT make disciples of ourselves.

We DO NOT make disciples of (human) leaders.

We DO NOT make disciples of our local fellowships (churches).

We DO NOT make disciples of a denomination.

We DO NOT make disciples of a particular school of thought.

We DO NOT make disciples of Christianity.

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Discipleship – 1: The Mission

What if we were given one thing to do – just one main mission – and we didn’t do it? Now, this does not imply that this one thing is an all encompassing definition of our lives and all of the reality adjacent to our lives – but, it is the one thing – the main thing we are to do. I guess it would depend upon who gave us the mission and what was at stake . . . right?

When reading , specifically , I see an interesting, rather arresting pattern. The text says that Paul “made many disciples . . . strengthened the souls of the disciples . . . and spent a long time (not a little time) with the disciples.” This is a profound narrative. Paul could have, according to some – should have, kept working “for the faith”, since all of these people were already converts. Yet, he spent precious time encouraging and building up the Church and he spent large amounts of that time. Why? Why would he do that?

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14:1 Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles. When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country, and there they continued to preach the gospel.

Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, 10 said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking. 11 And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, 15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 16 In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” 18 Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them.

19 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20 But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. 21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. 23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

24 Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. 25 And when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia, 26 and from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had fulfilled. 27 And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 And they remained no little time with the disciples. (ESV)

21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. 23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

24 Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. 25 And when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia, 26 and from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had fulfilled. 27 And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 And they remained no little time with the disciples. (ESV)

An analogy of sin and Christ

When I was a boy, we lived in a rural part of Alabama. We had a creek behind our home and it had countless joys for young boys in it: crawdads (crawfish), cool rocks, snakes, water and mud – lot’s of mud. We spent a many a summer day in that creek and in the evening, as we were being called in for dinner a common scene took place:

Rob approaches the sliding-glass door at the rear of the house bearing the filthy joy of creek-playing hedonism

Dad: “Stop right there! You are not setting foot in this house until you clean up.”

Rob starts to attempt wiping off the mud – only there is mud on his hands and on every part of his body. Only smearing and deeper staining is occurring.

Dad: furrowed-brow looks

Rob: “This isn’t working.”

What Rob needs is an outside source – something clean that can take the filth from him. Rob needs a clean towel and his brother to spray him with a water hose. Without a clean source to take the stains away, there is no hope.

Truly on this side of the analogy AND the sliding glass doors, the fried chicken has never tasted so good.

Thank you, Jesus.

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Rich churches, camels and such (redux)

I have been thinking a lot lately how grossly rich our churches are here in America – and how we are ok with that. We are driven to the next novelty and the next programmatic push, simply because we can. We have redeemed our tickets at Pleasure Island and we do not even know what we have made of ourselves – mainly because most everyone else looks just like us.

We want.

That is the nature of us – we want.

more lights

more electronics

more leather

more space

more numbers

more control

more praise

more me

I am reminded that Jesus said, “For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Then, I wonder about a whole caravan of them . . . Read the rest of this entry »

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