Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Making a silk purse out of a Boar(omeus') ear

Well I got in from the open road and found (much to my glee)2 pre-pub copies of Tony Jones' new book "The Teaching of the 12" in my I sat down and immediately read the book. Tony and I had discussed the book many months ago and I was curious to see the final draft. What I found was much better than I could have ever dreamed or imagined.
By the time I finished I again came to appreciate the mind and heart that God put into Tony. His ability to communicate difficult material is something I envy. He took a document (Didache) and brought it to relevance in the present and into the future. Most importantly he made us (the Cymbrogi) look like we actually knew what we were doing in our spiritual journey! All joking aside I really appreciate the friendship that Tony and I have established and count him as one of our "companions of the heart".
I hope the book does well and changes the direction of many as they seek to become church as Christ intended. Thanks Tony for making us feel that the lives we have lived may count for the greater good of the Kingdom. I'm always ready for the next road trip.
God bless you brother,thanks.
Grace and Peace

Sunday, November 15, 2009

It's called snakeoil y'all

Visited with one of the Cymbrogi who lives in an adjoining town yesterday before the basketball game. By the way I'm happy to report that the Maysville Jr. High girls team won the championship and my close friends daughter scored the winning basket. I was able to video the game and show it to the dad who was with the younger daughter for a grade school tournament at another location. They won also. We don't just sit around here in NW Missouri and watch the grass die y'know!
Before the game I was at the home of one of the families who participated in the house church "experiment" we had going on several years ago. Of course we made the mistake of letting the "powers that be" in on the news and ended up being scattered as a result. All for the good (at least from my perspective). Anyway my friend shared that the new fellowship they were involved in had just finished a "revival". He seemed appropriately beat up and punished that I knew something had happened.
Revivals for those of you unfamiliar with the term usually occur once a year for about a week. The effects usually wear off in a month or two so they are a little more severe than the h1n1 virus. The way it works is a local congregation will bring a visiting preacher from another town usually far enough away that the locals don't know him, or a retired clergyman of some sort who supplements his retirement income with love offerings. To be fair many of these men(come on women preachers?Horror), are very devout men who reject the monetary reward and do this because of their passion for God and the Bible. Sometimes congregations will do a sort "pulpit exchange" program (it's easier than pew exchange) and ministers will trade places for a week and preach to congregations other than their own. Having participated in these myself it's a good opportunity for the two clergymen to get their heads together and let each other know what their congregations need to hear. Works really great if you're trying to pay off a building by getting the offerings up. The two preachers then speak to the respective congregations for a week and seek to get them "revived" from what ever they have become "deceased" in.
Out in Oregon in the Fundamentalist Bible church I was saved in these events were called "Bible Conferences" and usually consisted of the same preacher coming once a year. He was a former state police officer and Marine Corps officer turned evangelist. The man was a powerful presence in the pulpit and we in the youth group looked forward to his arrival with a sort of mixed dread-awe. His favorite demon to exorcise was rock music and all its attendant companions short skirts, long hair, and facial hair. I'll let you guess which ones were directed at the gals! It was the 60's so there was much to preach against.
The highlight came on Saturday night when we had the "Youth Rally" where we made sure that all our friends were there to suffer with us, lured in by the promise of free pizza and unsuspecting girls with really short skirts. Then came the glorious bonfire where we burned the accumulated evil tokens of our idolatry. Those of us who had been there all week came prepared with our collection of Stones, Beatles, Turtles and other albums which sounded weird played backwards, and cast them into the flames much to the amazement of the uninitiated. There was much weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth as we watched the vinyl melt and burn. No short skirts or long hair were ever cast into the flames to my recollection. A round of "Kum-by-yah" or "It Only Takes a Spark" and the invitation to come to follow Christ and the evening ended so we could get up in time on Sunday to hear the evangelist tell us how many teens had come to the truth.
Being a very devout teen my revival lasted a bit longer than most, but inevitably the time would come when we were hanging out together at one of our homes a pristine copy of one of the torched albums would appear in a record collection. We knew then that the revival or conference had officially ended and it was time to gather fuel for next years bonfire. It was a normal part of growing up a fundamentalist teen. Most of us now still own CD's or MP-3 downloads of the "evil" music which comes on regularly on the oldies stations or on the elevators we occasionally ride.
Recently I noticed that bonfires are still in fashion in North Carolina and memories of the old days came back. This time however it was books mostly I believe that were being burned. It made me wonder if this retro-revival would eventually regress to the days of the authors themselves being burned. Since I have been called a Heretic and The Devil recently on Youtube on the New Christians videos with Tony Jones I have been thinking what music I would like played at my bonfire should those wonderful days of olde return. Is it out of the question to request "Light My Fire" by the Doors?
Grace and Peace and a Tongue in Cheek,

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Where we've been, where we're going

I believe when I started this blog I mentioned that I hate to write and have to force myself to sit down and write. I think Frank W. would agree and finds himself in the same position. We have both been busy with our respective occupations and have not had opportunity to sit down and write. I thought I would however write a few words to let all who follow this blog know that we are both alive and well.
Frank W and I have talked and we both are overwhelmed at the amount of material being written about "church" in its various forms and all the multitude conferences which seem to spring up on a regular basis to discuss how "church" should look and act. Last time FW and I met for coffee in Minneapolis we both lamented that we don't need more books and meetings but rather we need to live in alignment with what we already know. So I'm going to sound like a total hypocrite when I tell you that one of the things I've been involved with is a book by Tony Jones called The Teaching of the Twelve coming out this month. Tony asked me over a year ago if I was interested in being a part of the book. The book is a retranslation and reinterpretation of an early Christian document dating to the time of the Gospels. As it was, our group was studying the document and finding some exciting things which we were integrating into the way we understood and did "church". When I presented the idea to the others of participating with Tony in the book all were in agreement that it was a worthy project and covered areas of discussion which were relatively scarce in the church today.
As we worked on the book we(who in the process have found a really "cool" sounding name with which to refer to ourselves: Cymbrogi) found our frustrations and anger toward the organized institutional church we had been a part of resurface and came to realize we needed to repent of arrogant attitudes which were developing. OK, it was mostly my problem! Thankfully the editor caught the attitudes and hopefully the book will be be a positive contribution to what life as church can be. So, I think we have contributed something to the sea of literature out there which doesn't tread over the same familiar ground of the last few decades. If conferences arise don't blame me I'll let Tony handle that. :)
The other thing which the Cymbrogi have been looking at is the alternative view of prophecy called preterism. Although still in its early study stages we are finding some interesting stuff out there which is already challenging long held ideas we have had. Of course this involves.....buying more books! It never ends does it FW? Got to keep the bookstores going so you can feed the family. It amazes me how rich the history of the faith is when you're willing to look beyond the last 50 years of church history. More to come as we discover new areas of study. It rounds out the practical "out-living" of the faith. Well time to wrap this up and go watch some of my friends young-uns play basketball and church with some Cymbrogi in an adjoining community.
Grace and Peace to all!