Month: December 2012

Kill Joy #1- Self Absorbsion (Synopsis of a point made by Ron Rolheiser in “Holy Longing”)

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First of all, I have to admit, I don’t know how to spell absorbsion. My spell check wants me to “absorb ions”. But I’m feeling electrically neutral today so there will be no ion absorbsion. I’ll just switch to narcisism. Okay… apparently, I can’t spell that either… it’s also got the red line of idiocy. So let’s go with self-focus. There we go. No red line.

Okay. . . Kill Joy # 1 is self focus… or self obsession. (goody! no red lines there either).

I can actually think of about three different things that prove the point … at the same time providing motivation for us to do something besides think about ourselves.

1). “Make my joy complete.” Absorb the full section of Scripture here: then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Php. 2:2-5). See? Paul’s joy is complete not by being absorbed with himself but by being absorbed with the body and the attitude of Christ. He is joyful when he is like-minded with the body, when he shares the same love, when he is unified in purpose and spirit with other believers. He is joyful when his motives are not selfish, ambitious or empty. He is joyful when he considers others above himself. He is joyful when he looking to the interests of others.

Try it.

2) Augustine once said that we will never be at rest until we are at rest in him. Is this not what Jesus meant when he said “If you obey my commands, myself and the Father will come and abide with you.” And what is his command but that we “love one another.” The logic is solid. If we love each other, then the love of God himself resides in us. And where love resides, we also find ourselves at joy.

The Christmas season proves this… so does nesting season after a child is born into this world. I remember when my kids were first born and Ginger and I were spending time in the hospital. There were no agenda items, no to-do’s more important than just abiding. And abide we did. We were filled with the interest of our new baby and we were at peace. We were at joy. The same with Christmas. Christmas is a time to just abide in Christ… to abide with one another. There is no need to be somewhere, to hurry, to focus on self. And for a day or two or three, the world is joyful.

By the way… I did a study on suicides over the holidays. During Christmas itself, suicides actually go DOWN! It’s only after the holidays are OVER that people get back to their life consuming depression.

3) Personal experience as a counselor. I don’t do much counseling anymore. Okay, let me rephrase. I don’t do counseling anymore. Crossroads is blessed with Kevin Guffey…. a man with a passion for counseling. Unfortunately, when I do counseling with people, they tend to leave my office crying. And I’m left with an expression on my face that says simply, “What?” However, one of the things I do know is that in those few occasions when I have been able to successfully counsel someone I have helped direct them to some form of service for someone else.

I guess I would say we just don’t have time to have problems of our own when we’re focused on helping someone else. That’s my counsel for the day.

Conclusion:

If we stop being so focused on ourselves, we’ll be more likely to find the joy we’ve been missing.

Preview… The three things I am going to address are 1) self-obsession, and then in parts two and three — Pragmatism and Restlessness. And, by the way, I blatantly stole these ideas from Ronald Rolheiser’s book “Holy Longing.” See you next time.

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Theological Physics and an Apology for the Existence of God (Part 2)

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Okay, so you saw in the Genesis 1 account which I believe to be both mythical and true simultaneously, that light was created before the very things that we would normally consider to be light ‘sources.’ This is important. Why? Because it shows that concept precedes reality. Or, function precedes form.

In essense, what I am saying is that light does not ultimately rely on it’s physical forms or sources to exist. Light exists because God, the ultimate non-contingency called it into being. He said, “Let there be light.” And there it was. Only later did he create the sun, moon, stars, and separate light out and put it in its varoius form to be emanated from its various “sources.”

Now for something more profound. Scripture tells us that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. God is light. God created light. God created light before he created the physical forms that emanate it. Therefore the light that emanates from all “sources” is greater than the sources themselves. Now let’s apply that same logic to something else Scripture says God is.

God is love. God created love, God created love before he created the physical forms that emanate it. Therefore the love of God that emanates from all earthly “sources” (i.e. you and me) is actually greater than the sources themselves. Is it not true that Scripture tells us that God pours his love into our hearts by his Holy Spirit? This is divine love and it emanates form us and from an earthly viewpoint, it would appear that we are the source of that love. But quite to the contrary, God is the source off love, he pours it into our hearts and we merely shine it.

Isn’t it great to know that a God who can call light into existence before there was any matter to project that light can also call love into existence that we may project something that is far greater than ourselves.

In conclusion…

All things are contingent upon God. God is, therefore, the ultimate non-contingent.

As such, God called things into being in such a way that function precedes form. Light before Sun. Love before Humanity.

But as light emanates from the Sun though God is the source, so love emanates from us and the Holy Spirit is the source.

God is real. His love is big. And we need them both.

Theological Physics and an Apology for the Existence of God

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I know only a little about theology. Even less about physics. But I’ve been thinking about the idea of contingency, and that idea brings theology and physics together for me.

Think for a moment about the idea of contingency. What does it mean? Look it up if you have to because you’ll need a working definition. The basic idea I’ll be working with is this: Contingency is the idea that something… whatever it is… relies on something ELSE for it’s existence. On the other hand, if something is “non-contingent” then it relies on nothing else for its existence.

So of course, I started thinking about the different dimensions, what they are and how they are contingent upon each other.

Now, we typically think of the higher dimensions as being the “loftier” or more “mysterious” or even the “greater” dimensions. However, I want to suggest the opposite. I’ll try to illustrate.

Let’s say, for a moment, that we want to talk about something that is 3 dimensional. That means, at least from what I remember from my school-boy days, that it exists with the properties of width, height, and depth. Up down (one dimension), Left right (a second dimension) and forward, backward or in, out (a third dimension). What I am suggesting is that for something to exist as a three dimensional object, it is completely contingent on the existence of all three of those dimensions. Three dimensional objections cannnot exist without up and down, left and right, in and out. Therefore, I am suggesting that the three dimensions that make up a three dimensional object are actually GREATER than the object itself, because they (the dimensions) do not rely on the object for existence, rather the object relies upon them.

And so it is even with the 4th dimension, if we can assume the fourth dimension is time. And let’s do.

Time requires four dimensions, up and down (one), left and right (two), in and out (three) and perspective one to perspective two or “movement.” It is marking the difference between perspective one and perspective two that I’ll use to define time. We see a three dimensional object from perspective one… (and with only one perspective it remains a three dimensional object), but as soon as the object is set in motion and a different perspective is observed the object has become four dimensional.

What then, is the conclusion?

I conclude that a 4 dimensional object is lesser than a three dimensional object because the 4th dimensional (time bound) object RELIES on the prior 3 dimensions. And so a 3 dimensional object is lesser than a two, and a two dimensional object lesser than one.

Which brings me to the most exciting part of this particular article.

The ZERO dimension. Which is, and what else could it be, but ultimate NON-CONTINGENCY!

Or, dare I say it. . . GOD.  To me, dimensional physics are proof of God. God is the Zero dimension. God is non-contingency because God relies on absolutely NOTHING for his existence. God does not require up and down, left and right, in and out, movement, matter, energy or anything else. God is not even contingent upon the existence of reality, because without the existence of the other dimensions, reality itself cannot even be defined. Therefore, reality is contingent upon God, not the other way around.

What I may do, in a part two article, is talk a little about how the creation story itself proves the point.

Think about it this way…

Which was created first, and here you’ll need do your own investigation… light or the sources of it (i.e. sun, moon & starts)?  For the direction I’ll take, please refer to Genesis 1.

Let me know what you think?

Happy Anniversary… Indeed

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It’s been 20 years ago today that I married my lovely bride Ginger. With the milestones that we have placed behind us I can say that it has been a rich and rewarding and yes, sometimes challenging 20 years.

It’s wonderful to see…

1) Our kids have survived their parents! Garrett is 14, Sam 12, Emma 10, Savannah 4 and Zoe just turned two a couple of day sago.

2) We’ve been doing ministry this WHOLE time. I have to admit, there were a couple of years I thought about making a career shift to McDonalds.

3) Most of the places we have lived have tolerated us pretty well! 😉

4) We still love each other, we love life, we love our kids, and look forward to another 20 years together as husband and wife. Who knows… maybe somewhere in the next 20 years… we’ll get to become grandparents.

Thanks to all of you who have encouraged us and supported us and prayed for us and whipped us into shape when we needed it. We love our family both by blood and by blood of Jesus.

“ONE” Pastors (Part 1)

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ONE PastorsONE Pastors…

Some of you already know that I have opportunity each week to sit at the table with 4 other pastors from the Hutchinson area. Each of us come from different theological backgrounds as well as different places and experiences in our personal lives and ministries. But with all our differences, I still love our similarities.

Though some may think we have it backwards, and perhaps we do, we really focused our reationship first and foremost on friendship, and second on ideas and thoughts, theologies and other discussions. What is great is that we come to the table all with the same assumption… that Jesus Christ is Lord and it is our goal above all, to serve him in this community to the best of our abilities … with our own skills … and in the context of our own lives.

Brief introductions: (in order of appearance)

So… if you can imagine independent Christian, Baptist, Pentecostal, Liturgical, Free Methodist, all sitting around a glass coffee table … sharing time … sharing life … sharing coffee … and the table has yet to be broken. 😉

What’s at the heart of it? I can honestly say there are two things that I think lie at the heart of this relationship. 1) A avid affection for Jesus Christ as Lord. And 2) friendship. Both are essential. It would be incredibly difficult to maintain unity without either.

Someone once asked me why I thought there were so many churches or denominations? My answer was this: Because people who lead churches, by and large, are unwilling to do the work it  takes to cultivate healing relationships. I can honestly say, my time with Quintin, Andy, Howard and Aaron prove that theory correct. So far. Keep praying for unity in Hutchinson. I really think we are on the brink of something unprecedented.