SpiritFarmer


A couple of interesting articles
March 31, 2006, 12:40 pm
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The Criswell Theological Review has a couple of interesting reads. The first is an interview with Brian McLaren, describing his understanding of . . . er . . . Emergent/emerging church stuff. It represents his own perspective, which is a bit more politically reactionary than emerging church folk I generally talk to. Also, there was an unfortunate blending of terms as if to suggest that Emergent (as in the “official conversation”) is synonymous with the emerging church (which I have experienced as a much broader, diverse movement/phenomenon). With that said, I liked what McLaren had to say, and think the critiques he offers of the state of church in the Western world are fair . . . and, yes, generous.

The other article is “A Pastoral Perspective on the Emergent Church,” which again, seems to be an unfortunate blurring of terms, written by Mark Driscoll. It’s a cordially written summarization of his experience of the emerging church. Again, it’s his own take, so you gotta take it as such – especially his list of the “most important issues” facing the emerging church. Happily, this represents the kinder side of his personality, even in issues where he clearly disagrees with other folks.



Two quotes from Henri Nouwen
March 30, 2006, 9:32 am
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First this . . .

Eternal life. Where is it? When is it? For a long time I have thought about eternal life as a life after all my birthdays have run out. For most of my years I have spoken about the eternal life as the “afterlife,” as “life after death.” But the older I become, the less interest my “afterlife” holds for me. Worrying not only about tomorrow, next year, and the next decade, but even about the next life seems a false preoccupation. Wondering how things will be for me after I die seems, for the most part, a distraction. When my clear goal is the eternal life, that must be reachable right now, where I am, because eternal life is life in and with God, and God is where I am here and now.

And then this . . .

How is it possible to keep caring for the poor when the poor only get poorer? How is it possible to keep nursing the sick when they are not getting better? How can I keep consoling the dying when their deaths only bring me more grief? The answer is that they all hold a blessing for me, a blessing that I need to receive. Ministry is, for of all, receiving God’s blessing from those to whom we minister. What is this blessing? It is a glimpse of the face of God. Seeing God is what heaven is all about! We can see God in the face of Jesus, and we can see the face of Jesus in all those who need our care.



Disappointment
March 29, 2006, 10:31 pm
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Well, I’m coming to grips with the reality that things just aren’t working out the way I had wished this week. I’ve been working really hard to put things in place for a quick trip out to Ohio for Palmer’s memorial and wake, but things didn’t come together. I will miss saying goodbye in person, and miss seeing some people that have meant much to me. I will pray for them and Palmer’s family – especially Amy, who has been blogging beautifully in her loss.



Driscoll apology
March 29, 2006, 6:36 am
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I said I didn’t want to come back to the issue of the whole Mark Driscoll vs. Brian McLaren row a couple months back. Well, a couple days ago,
this post appeared on Mark’s blog. I truly respect Mark for doing this – and whether I agree or disagree with any given theological or doctrinal stand he may take, it shows some character and a devotion to God and God’s people.

In the end, I do not want my tone and style to get in the way of important discussions and kingdom work. So, my intention is to lean into God’s empowering grace to become a holy man who demonstrates greater self-control. In the future, my prayer is that I could continue to speak with pithy edginess and candor that is also marked by grace and appropriate words. I obviously failed this time. Please forgive me and pray for me.

Peace



A New Orleans snapshot
March 28, 2006, 11:52 am
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A week and a half ago I flew with a big bunch of college students to New Orleans for some relief work. We had to change planes in Denver. On the Denver to New Orleans leg of travel I was seated next to a lady who was returning home to a town called Covington, a bit north of New Orleans. She said that her area had taken a lot of wind damage, but no flooding. Her brother, though, had been one of the people who had to get plucked off their rooftops by Coast Guard helicopters. Turns out, he lived about three blocks away from the elementary school in Chalmette where we would be staying. Chalmette is a city in St. Bernard parish, where the worst flooding took place.

Last Tuesday we entered a house in that neighborhood and began clearing furniture, tearing out all the drywall and insulation, ripping up the warped hardwood floors, and salvaging what we could of keepsakes and antiques. As we worked, one of my students called me to come outside to talk to an older gentleman. He was wanting to know how he could get some help cleaning up his house, which was across the street from the one we were working on. I and another team member walked with him to his house, and found an unbelievable disaster. His name is Pete, and he introduced us to his lovely wife, Rose. They’ve been married for over 60 years, and lived in that house for 50. We spent a good long time talking – actually, a couple students “took over” for me while I stepped away to supervise our other project. An hour later, Pete and Rose were sitting down to lunch with us back at the base camp. Two hours after that, our team finished the house we had been assigned and went over to begin cleaning their place. The whole next day was spent working on their house. They were so gracious and kind. They told their stories and shared themselves with us. They even bought us a carrot cake to express their thanks.

One of the main reasons I wanted to go to New Orleans was to hear stories like Pete and Rose’s. I want those stories to wreck me. I want to re-tell them so they’ll wreck other people enough so that we don’t forget. There is still so much to do there. It really is shocking to see how little has been done. Continue to pray, to give, and to serve.



Another fallen giant
March 27, 2006, 1:37 pm
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I got a call this morning from Jason, letting me know that Mark Palmer has passed from this life into his ultimate healing. This is dark news for all who knew him. Palmer was an amazing man. When his wife, Jennifer, was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, his faith was unshakeable. I met him shortly after her death. He was clearly hurting, but receiving the healing God provided him through his Kingdom community and through the energetic smile of his beautiful son, Micah. Palmer was blessed with the gift of love once again, and married Amy. But then he, too, received news of his own cancer diagnosis. Once again, faith in immeasurable amounts. He fought hard, spoke boldly of the Kingdom that reigns, and the Lord of it all. He celebrated Micah’s fourth birthday Saturday.

Please pray for Amy, Micah, Mark’s family, and especially the Landing Place community that he led. They are in good guiding hands of many who surround them with love and wisdom. But the pain is acute, and will not soon fade.



Back from New Orleans
March 26, 2006, 8:02 am
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Howdy friends. It’s been a while, eh? I’ve been mostly out of internet contact for the past week . . . down in New Orleans. It was a long week with tons of hard work, but we had a really good trip. Everything you’ve read about the devastation in the city is true. It’s hard to describe the feeling of driving up and down neighborhood streets without seeing any signs of life. House after house, block after block with no cars, no people, no lights. You walk into what used to be someone’s home, see a refrigerator laying on its side, clothing, pictures, furniture, mud, drywall everywhere. You stand in the middle of the room and look up to the ceiling, realizing that for over three weeks the room was filled to the top with toxic water – in one house we found an inch of mud in the attic.

I’m still tired and trying to get my head straight being back home, but I’ll post more throughout this week about the trip. Our group of 18 had an amazing time – tireless work, getting to know the people we served, much laughter. I’ll get some photos linked here too. For now, I’m just glad to be with Michelle, so I won’t take time away from that. Check back soon for more.