Sunday, October 4, 2009

Change is our only constant...

Sometimes, it seems like God asks us to do things that wouldn't normally make all that much sense.

And as the founder of YWAM once asked in his book title, "Is That Really You, God?", you find yourself making some quick, on-the-fly adjustments to the unexpected.

Ten days ago, our DTS staff were maniacally preparing all the last-minute details for the beginning of the Fall Discipleship Training School, with only three days remaining until the students would begin to arrive.

Then in whirlwind couple of days, we had a number of last-minute cancellations. And after a time of praying and seeking God with our base leadership team, we tranferred the remaining students to our sister base in Ensenada (along with one of our DTS staff), and suddenly we found ourselves -- three days before the DTS was supposed to begin -- faced with the "now what?" question.

To say it came as a shock would be an understatement. But equally as strong as the shock was the sense that letting the school go (and transferring students and staff) was the right decision to make. In some strange, inexplicable way, the answer to the question "is that really You, God?" was a resounding "yes".

The School Of Ministry Development (SOMD) began here in Tijuana at the same time as the DTS was being transferred, and quite a number of our staff (on top of their regular duties) have felt God leading them into a three-month season of honing ministry skills. The SOMD leadership team asked me to join them, and I will also be doing the course project work (focused on further refining the DTS), and oddly enough, also teaching in the SOMD.

So, I'm a staff/student/speaker (only in YWAM, eh?) in the School Of Ministry Development (and still getting ready for another DTS in January 2010).

I would say that "change" is the only constant in our lives in YWAM Tijuana, but perhaps I should add "adrenaline" as well. :)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

DTS Staff Training

The talented and fun-loving crew we call our DTS staff spent a week in Ensenada, along with DTS staff from YWAM Ensenada and YWAM Honolulu, for staff training. It was a great time of encouragement and being challenged on servant leadership -- or as Todd Hunter once asked: "what does it mean to lead people who are supposed to be following Someone Else?" -- but no DTS with me as a leader would be complete without the traditional run to St. Arbucks.

Not that anyone protested... :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

New Look, New Focus, New Season

The blog is retooling to reflect where we are currently at -- physically, spiritually, vocationally, and geographically.

We have been with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in a full-time capacity since 2006, although our connections to and involvement with YWAM goes back about 20 years. Ever since leading a DTS outreach team (almost two years ago) to YWAM San Diego/Baja's "one base, four locations" constellation of ministries, our journey has expanded to include moving here full-time. We are at the Tijuana Del Mar campus, which is the newest site for YWAM's University of the Nations.

We are loving México, living in Tijuana, the wonderful staff we are privileged to work with, the work that we are doing, and last but certainly not least, the incredible food.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Journey [jur-nee], verb.

Def'n: to traverse; to travel over or through.

Water is a great metaphor for our journey. Picture the different impressions of water that come to mind when you think of the gentle lapping of waves on the shore, over against the fearful deluge of rain during flood season on the Canadian Prairies, and yet again with the breath-taking majesty of Niagara Falls.

One of the most dependable, and predictably unpredictable, constants of "journey" is the element of change. And change is powerful, at times refreshing, but always charting it's own irrepressible path.

And water as a metaphor for the journey could be examined from so many different angles.

Water erosion is a problem, if you are trying to keep the trees on the banks of your property upright. But sometimes the water of the Spirit causes a very positive erosion, as rough edges in our lives are worn away, revealing the life of Christ within us.
Q: Have you ever heard the old Pentecostal joke about why we need to be continually re-filled with the Holy Spirit?

A: Because we leak!! (insert polite courtesy laugh here).
But what if we were designed to leak?

What if we need to be continually re-filled with the Holy Spirit because we're supposed to be leaking? Too often, we view our tendency to leak as a negative thing, as if we are in danger of somehow having less of the Spirit.

But what if our attempts to stay "full" actually serve to negate the Spirit's desired activity in our lives? Is it possibly revealing a selfish attempt at hoarding the Holy Spirit, which would make us spiritual narcissists? What if the only way to remain full and satisfied in the Spirit is to be choosing -- not to leak -- but to serve as spiritual irrigation to others?

I remember the late John Wimber's phrase, "the meat is in the street". The more we seek to give away what we have, the more we have. Or, to put it in the words of Jesus, "For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him." (Matthew 25:29)

So, who are you called to leak on?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Journey [jur-nee] noun.

Def'n: a process or course likened to traveling; a passage

Journeys are interesting creatures. You never imagine what you'll discover along the way as you follow the Road before you. For example, the recent revelation that my family clan has its own official brand of whiskey.

Upon further reflection, perhaps not entirely shocking, but still... Who knew?

But the whole concept of "journey", regardless of whether or not one finds liquor named after one's family, remains an intriguing one. Journey implies leaving one thing and moving towards another. The destination is not always clear at the outset -- just ask Abram of Ur.

But for some reason, a journey is decided and embarked upon. Reasons for such journeys are as widely varied perhaps as the people who are on one:
  • a yearning for something beyond the next horizon
  • a dissatisfaction with the current geography, be it spiritual, political, or relational in nature
  • a sense of restlessness and a longing for exploration
  • a sense of something stirring within, that excites a willingness to risk, to dream, to dare
Because a journey that costs us nothing isn't like to be a journey worth taking. What we are journeying towards had better be lofty enough that it is worth the demands of the journey. Cost-less journeys do not inspire; they do not stir up vision, nor do they sync with the words of Jesus, "take up your cross..." (Luke 9:23-24).

St. Paul seems to get this. He once wrote to his friends in Philippi in a similar vein, using phrases like "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ." (Philippians 3:7), and "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead" (Philippians 3:13).

Somewhere along the line of Paul's own journey, he had caught a glimpse of something that so gripped his heart that everything else seemed like cow patties by comparison. All journeys cost something. Some journeys cost absolutely everything. The destination had danged well better be worth it. St. Paul seemed to think so, even as he wrote these passionate words after being a Jesus-follower for several decades (and likely just a short while before his own execution):
"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." (Philippians 3:10-11)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Authentic Community

This is the view that captured my attention as I trudged home for supper from the neighbourhood basketball court -- the riveting sight of the sun breaking through the clouds to illuminate a portion of the Pacific Ocean below. After a couple of hours of three-on-three, half-court basketball with a bunch of guys half my age, I was ready for a hot shower and an evening on the couch.

But as I gazed at the beauty of sunlight on the Pacific, my mind kept going back to the basketball game I had just played with some of the other YWAM staff here in Tijuana. And then my mind jumped to another recent evening, when these same guys (plus a few more) spent the evening encouraging and praying for each other.

And then I thought of the other staff who just show up on our front porch, and their smiles as Wendy welcomes them in, while I start grinding beans for a fresh pot of café. Or the previous week, when we all piled into one of the nearby staff apartments to watch Corazón Valiente (Braveheart) together.

Recent history has been rough on Mexico in general, Tijuana more specifically, and on our YWAM base in particular. One of our senior staff referred to key elements coming together to form the "perfect storm" which is wreaking havoc here:
  1. the violence between the army and the various drug cartels (which has tapered off dramatically in the past eight months or so, although judging by the continued fear-mongering, it seems that the media hasn't noticed)

  2. the economic down-turn world-wide

  3. swine flu (again, with the media-driven Pandemic of Fear)
Thankfully, our base has no debt; all the property and buildings at our new facility were paid upfront. Debt will not be dictating what we do in ministry. But at the same time, as the Pandemic of Fear continues, we are getting more and more youth groups, churches, and business groups canceling. Which means that our Homes of Hope staff have to meet with the families that are desperate for a house, to break the news to them that YWAM can't provide them with one after all. It is heart-breaking to see the despair in the eyes of people who were clinging to hope for so long. 

Yet the community of YWAM'ers here haven't withdrawn into their own private worlds to ponder the complexities of life. If anything, our sense of inter-connectedness and community has increased. From basketball to prayer to playing pool to cleaning the kitchen, there is a very real sense of authentic community. 

I know that some people think that any community based around common work or ministry isn't "real" community; it's viewed as "merely" work-related temporary alliances. My experience tells me otherwise. Our community here does have a coming-and-going dynamic because, well, YWAM missionaries are pretty nomadic and prone to living like John 3:8

But as I look around the community, I see a wide variety of ages, denominations, socio-economic backgrounds, languages and nationalities. People I would normally not even meet, let alone choose to spend time with. People who, after long days of hard work, choose to hang out in their free time together.

Yet, we are not all of a kind -- we are a wildly divergent lot. And that's what makes the community so special: we may have been drawn together by a common ministry and love for Tijuana, but now that we're here, we have all chosen to be intentional about being in honest community and camaraderie with each other.

My only complaint is that tomorrow, all the young guns from the basketball court will be ready to get at it again, and I'll be stiff and sore. :)

Friday, May 8, 2009

B + Y ≠ G (a parable explained)

The Elder's meandering thoughts were called back to the present by the sudden reappearance of the Younger amid the bustling evening crowd on the patio. Seating himself once again across the table from his old friend, the Younger immediately broke into a smile as he discovered the welcome presence of curry fries and another round of ale already on the table.

"Was I gone that long?" he asked sheepishly, "or if the Barkeep just that quick?"

"Both," replied the Elder with a wink, beginning to enthusiastically delve into his helping of curry fries, "but I think I should get some credit for 'redeeming the time' while you were otherwise occupied."

"I'll ask the Barkeep to put a plaque with your name on it on this very table," countered the Younger, likewise beginning to make short work of his plate, before the spring evening air could cool the steaming food in front of him. "But, usually curry fries and another round means you're anticipating a longer discussion, am I right?"

The Elder paused as he sipped from his pint to counteract the heat of his food. "Well, longer or not, if you plan to explain your colours formerly known as parable the way I suspect you're going to, then the least I could do was provide a good culinary backdrop."

"Well," began the Younger, wiping his face with a napkin, "on one hand, I could say 'where do I begin', but on the other, it's probably pretty obvious, which in turn probably means that the parable isn't that effective. Assuming, that is, that a parable is supposed to make people think and have to dig a bit for understanding."

The Elder pushed his now-empty plate to the side as he leaned forward on the table. "That's quite an uncharacteristic list of disclaimers, my friend. But still, just so it's been said, (and because I'm curious where you're going to go with this), just go ahead and tell me what the parable means."

The Younger slowly exhaled as his eyes wandered around the cafe, seeing but not seeing the other patrons. "Okay," he said at last, drawing out that brief word, "let's just throw caution to the wind." Leaning forward and speaking in quieter, almost conspiratorial tones, as if he was afraid of being overheard, he continued.

"You've probably already guessed that I'm talking about theology again. And bluntly and indelicately put, the blue circle was referring to Liberal theology and the yellow circle stands for Evangelical theology. I guess my frustration is that if we're supposed to be getting "past" these kind of labels, and seeing, appreciating, and learning from the Other, you'd think that there would be -- if not completely equal -- at least some evidence that both theologies have contributed to creating something new."

"But frankly, I don't see it. What I see is the beliefs "formerly known as" Liberal simply eclipsing and displacing beliefs "formerly known as" Evangelical. It's not getting "past" anything, it's not "new", and it's not about avoiding "labels". It's just one erasing the other while pretending not to do so."

Picking up steam, the Younger became more animated, although to his credit -- remembering, no doubt, the last time he and the Elder had gotten too loud for the Barkeep's liking -- he managed to keep his voice down.

"I mean, it's simply not honest to say we're "getting past labels" like Liberal, Evangelical or whatever, and that we're all equal voices in a "conversation", when there is clearly an agenda of belief structures that sure looks like what we used to call theological liberalism." And he tossed his crumpled napkin back onto the table in frustration as he settled back into his seat, studying the wooden tabletop.

The Elder remained quiet for what seemed an eternity. "Well," he finally said with a rueful smile, "one thing that you can most likely count on: When word of your parable gets out, you will be on the receiving end of a label, I suspect."

The Younger shrugged as he leaned back in his chair. "Bring it on."

Thursday, April 30, 2009

B + Y ≠ G (a parable)

"I must say," remarked the Elder, as they seated themselves in the outdoor patio area, "that one of the things I like most about spring is that the wind seems more of a friend and ally."

The Younger chuckled as he momentarily debated whether or not to remove his outerwear in the growing warmth of the season. Decision finally made, he threw his jacket over the back of his seat and replied, "I couldn't agree more! For once, we went in and out of the door and it didn't slam on us!"

They paused briefly, with the Younger settling into his seat across the table, as the mainstay of the pub -- the crusty Irish barkeep -- appeared suddenly. "G'devenin', gents," he cheerfully greeted them in his gravelly voice, "and what'll ye be quenching what ails you with tonight?"

They quickly made their usual order, and watched with a certain sense of nostalgia as the Barkeep wove his way among the crowded patio tables and back to the bar inside. "He's been a part of this place since Moses and the Red Sea, hasn't he?" remarked the Younger.

The Elder followed his gaze before replying. "Yes, and he continues to be a reminder to me to be more intentional about my 'missionality'. We recognize him, he recognizes us -- in fact, he barely needs to even ask what we're going to have, he probably already knows -- but when I look at him, I have to ask myself, 'Do I really know him?' And, of course, the answer is that I don't. Not really. And I wonder how to bridge that gap."

The Younger nodded, "Yeah, I sometimes joke about what's the 'missional' way to drink beer in a pub." A car raced by the patio at just that moment, throbbing with an over-driven bass tube somewhere in its innards. As everyone in the patio paused momentarily during this audio-mechanical intrusion, the Younger abruptly changed tracks in their conversation.

"Hey, I'd like to try my hand at creating a parable of sorts," he suddenly said, leaning across the little table. "Would you like to be my beta-tester?"

"Parables need beta-testing?" countered the Elder with a smile. "Do I get a footnote or a hat tip or whatever it is you use these days?"

The Younger grinned, "Depends on whether this parable flies or not, I guess. Ready?"

The Elder held up his hand quickly, "No, not just yet."

Perplexed, the Younger's next sentence abruptly stopped just short of being verbalized, as an uncomprehending look dominated his face. After the eternity of ten seconds of silence, the Barkeep swept by their table, plunking down their ales before once again navigating the crowd.

The Elder lowered his hand and broke into a broad smile. "Now, I'm ready." And with a contented sigh, he raised his glass and settled back into his chair to listen.

"Well, here's the bare bones of the metaphor," began the Younger, "and I'll fill in more of a background story later." He shifted forward in his seat, arranging his thoughts. "Okay, we're all familiar with the colour wheel that artists learn about in school..." He trailed off as he saw the uncomprehending look on the Elder's face. "Well, anyone who's taken an art class or graphic design has heard of the colour wheel, anyway."

"Ah," nodded the Elder, as understanding came. "You should work that into your parable; maybe make the main character a graphic design student, if that would fit."

The Younger brightened, "Okay, that's helpful. But on to the actual parable... This young graphic artist studied the colour wheel in school, and he understands that certain colours, when mixed, always produce certain new colours. For example, it's almost like a mathematical equation -- blue plus yellow equals green."

"But years later, the graphic design student hears a lot of talk about getting past calling something "blue" or "yellow", and not labeling or defining things in such ways. The goal was to have the Colour Formerly Known as Blue mix with the Colour Formerly Known as Yellow and create something new." The Younger paused, taking in the Elder's reaction, which continued to be one of polite interest.

Plunging on, the Younger continued: "This graphic design student already knew what would happen when the two were mixed: it would create a new colour -- maybe Formally Known as Green -- but no matter what, the original colours would both be represented in the new."

"But then something happened that didn't make sense to the student," the Younger shifted in his seat, his expression and mannerisms mimicking the new conspiratorial tone in his voice. "Instead of mixing together to create something new, something post-blue and post-yellow, the Blue started to eclipse the Yellow."

"The student kept waiting to see some evidence that Yellow was having an effect on Blue, because no matter what the luminosity or saturation of either colour, they should have an effect on each other.

"But when all was said and done, there was no new colour at all. Post-blue, when mixed with post-yellow, simply absorbed the yellow and it didn't change the qualities, the luminosity, the saturation, or even lightly tint the original blue."

The Younger paused, hands raised slightly off the table as he carefully watched the expression of his friend for some clues about his reaction.

"Fascinating," the Elder finally said, "and I've just learned something about the colour wheel, as well. But I must confess that I feel somewhat like the original disciples, who needed to ask Jesus what the parable means."

"That'll have to be during our second round," countered the relieved Younger, as he rose from his seat, "because right now I have to pay my respects at the porcelain altar inside."

And with that, he quickly vanished into the bar, leaving the bemused Elder to order another round of ales. And wait.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Pandemic (of Fear)

A few years ago, Michael Crichton wrote a thought-provoking book on global warming called State of Fear. Whether or not you agree with his assessment of global warming lobby groups, the book is a fascinating look at how suspicion, apprehension, and dread are so easily spread.

I thought of Crichton's book recently when thinking about the media-fuelled State of Fear surrounding Mexico. Tijuana has long been the favourite target of foreign media whenever they need a good head-shaking', finger-waggin' shock story. Stories of drug cartels, army intervention, thousands of drug-related deaths, torture, be-headings... I mean, it's just great shock fodder.

And now there's the swine flu pandemic. It's a serious situation, but I can't help but notice the grossly different ways it's being reported.

According to the World Health Organization's website, Mexico has 26 confirmed cases of with seven deaths (WHO source), and recommends neither travel restrictions nor border closures.

Contrast this with Canada's CTV network claiming 149 deaths in Mexico, the same number alleged by America's CNN, and both are rattling about travel restrictions.

I'm not living in denial about the violence in Tijuana, nor am I suggesting that the swine flu isn't a serious thing. These are trying times for Mexico.

But I wonder sometimes if the most truly devastating pandemic threatening our lives is the pandemic of FEAR. I mean, where does it stop?
  • all west coast dwellers should flee inland out of fear of "The Big One" -- the earthquake that will sink most of California and British Columbia, as we all surf to the prairies
  • except that we'd then be living in Tornado Alley (for the USA) or Flood Central (for Canada)
  • Americans are fanatics about owning guns; you never know who's behind you in the check-out line at Stuff-Mart with a bad attitude and a concealed handgun, and God have mercy on your soul if they're a Postal Worker...
  • Canadians have socialized medicine, and you know what that can lead to...
  • does anyone still have left-over stockpiles from Y2K?
  • and so on, and so on...
This pandemic of FEAR is destroying our sense of humanity and compassion. It reveals our own selfishness and idolatry of a comfortable, stress-free life. The FEAR pandemic robs us of the inclination to follow in Jesus' footsteps.

I'd love to see people's inner mental screen about Tijuana & Mexico -- the one that flashes visceral images automatically and subconsciously -- shift away from media-fueled images of drug cartels, machine guns, and surgical masks, and to begin to see the people of Tijuana as Jesus sees them.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Patron Saint

My thanks to the Reverend Canon Doc Loomis of the Anglican Mission in the Americas, for sending me this digital gift, and for his kind words about my blog.

I knew there was a patron saint for bloggers (and coffee lovers)!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mexican Strat

Inspired by Bill Kinnon's recent post about the VisionCaster, I thought I might hold forth on the prophetic significance of my well-travelled 14-year-old Fender Stratocaster being originally hecho en Mexico (made in Mexico).

Or maybe I'll just say I'm back from the Escuela de Idioma Español, get back into a regular blog-habit, and call it even. :)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

On Hobbits & Substitutionary Atonement

Safely sequestered near the roaring hearth for warmth, yet strategically situated so that their conversation could not be easily over-heard, the two Hobbits put their heads together to try and sort things out.

Not wanting to appear the simpleton, Pippin had sought out his life-long friend and co-conspirator for some timely insight and advice.

"It's all heels-over-heads and sideways, Merry", cried Pippin sotto voice. "What's supposed to be one thing is half another, and the other side is just as worst!"

Meriadoc favoured his fine Hobbit comrade with a look both sympathetic and genuinely puzzled. "Pippin, how much Longbottom Leaf have you had before first breakfast?", he asked in wonder, "because you're making less sense than Bilbo at his birthday last year."

Pippin paused, collecting his thoughts before speaking (a minor miracle for this otherwise admirable Hobbit), and continued in a much more restrained -- but equally energetic -- fashion. "Well, Merry, Those-Who-Know-Such-Things are always saying that modernity is all about mastering things like Aragorn masters a horse, and using scientific spells like Saruman to control all knowledge. And They always told me, when I was but a wee Hobbit in the Shire, that postmodernity embraces Mystery like Gollum wants that Ring, and they like living in Pair-O' Ducks..." His voice trailed off as his confusion overtook him.

Merry sat up straighter, and as understanding came, he gently clapped his friend on the shoulder, and laughingly said, "Pip, I think you mean to say Parodox, not Pair O' Ducks. For a minute there, I thought you must have looked into the Palantir again, you were making so little sense! Now, what's this about everything getting mixed and sideways?"

"Well," said Pippin, catching his breath before all his words came tumbling out once again. "The Ent-Keepers of the Modern Ways believe in Substitutionary Atonement," - he stumbled a bit in pronouncing the Ancient Elvish term - "and they say that they can't really explain why a Supreme Being would create a system where He would have to punish His own Son, but -- and this is where it starts going sideways -- they accept it on faith, even though they can't explain it."

Meriadoc Brandybuck said nothing; in truth, he couldn't yet see what his friend was on about. Seeing the concerned but blank look in Merry's eyes, Pippin pushed on.

"And the Riders of Postmodern Rohan look at the same thing -- this idea that punishment and substitution is part of the Ancient Story -- and they can't see any way such a notion could fit into Middle Earth, so it's about as welcome as inviting a Black Rider to The Green Dragon for ale."

As Merry continued to give his friend polite but uncomprehending attention, Pippin could stand it no longer and cried out, "Merry! Don't you see? This isn't another "Peregrin Fool-of-a-Took" thing! Listen:
"The Ent-Keepers of the Modern Ways are content to have Mystery about this Atonement thing, even if they can't really understand it or explain it. But they're supposed to be all about explaining, defining, and controlling all knowledge.

"And the Riders of Postmodern Rohan - who are supposed to like Mystery and Paradox - can't get their minds around Substitutionary Atonement, they can't fit it in their sense of Middle Earth, so they invent new incantations to explain it away. Or they just refuse to talk about it, like Frodo won't talk about the Ring.

"Both of them are going sideways and acting like the other!"
Merry sprang to his feet, a look of understanding and horror on his face. "Pip, I think you're on to something! Ent-Keepers of the Modern Ways embracing Mystery, and Riders of Postmodern Rohan rejecting it... This is worse than the Eye of Sauron!"

Looking franticly about, he drew a deep breath and sudden exclaimed, "Gandalf! He'll know what to do!"

And, their need for a quiet corner now gone, the two courageous and admirable Hobbits bustled off to warn the rest of the Fellowship.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Right Outta da Park!

Bob Hyatt has hit a home-run on the multi-faceted nature of the Cross and the Atonement. Slide on over and feast your eyes on "What does it matter WHY Jesus died?". It's destined to be one of's greatest hits.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

On Being Well-Read

Our Mexican mutt, whom we affectionately named Eva, is quite the literary aficionado. She has always had a taste for mystery/spy novels, but is now developing a serious craving for court-room drama.

Most recently, she had a real appetite for John Grisham's The Appeal, which she devoured in a single afternoon.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Guys and Trucks

What is it with guys and trucks? Especially an old beater like a 1970 Ford F250 (much more weathered than the one pictured here)?

I don't care much for the bloated, gas-guzzling, over-priced testosterone-behemoths that masquerade as trucks these days. But this afternoon, I was asked by our transportation coordinator to bring the old 1970 Ford F250 pickup from our soon-to-be-former YWAM facility, and bring it into the new corral with the other tool vans that we use for the Homes of Hope program.

The engine runs a little less smoothly than it did almost 40 years ago. At least, I hope it ran smoother in 1970 than it does in 2009. It certainly took some coaxing to start. It also had a stubborn and petulant predilection towards stalling at every possible opportunity. And the chassis creaked, groaned, and complained a fair bit on the highway.

Twenty bucks US netted me about a quarter tank of gas. The second tank under the box hadn't been used in years.

The AM radio didn't work. The seatbelts were functional but apparently shoulder belts hadn't been invented yet. Nor had head-rests. The back of the seat ended in the middle of my shoulder blades.

The air-conditioner was a brown, boxy contraption bolted at an awkward angle under the dash -- obviously a non-factory item. Technology salvaged from the Titanic would function about as well.

But the manual crank window still performed adequately, albeit somewhat stiffly, and as I chugged down the coast highway -- the Pacific ocean shining an amazing blue in the afternoon sun, and a warm desert wind rushing through the cab -- I found myself unable to stifle the silly grin that repeatedly spread across my face.

(sigh)... Guys and trucks, go figure.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

How Wrong is Wrong?!?

It's all dark but I'm okay with that.
Which eye do you want me to aim at you with?
Not afraid of the dark. Light, however, is way too intense.

Somebody once said -- and it's been variously attributed around greater blogdom -- something to the effect of:
"Twenty percent of my theology is wrong; I just don't know which twenty percent."
Some people quote this with varying percentages, up to seventy percent error but without knowing which seventy percent. But what they all have in common -- regardless of the actual percentage being claimed -- is the belief that this attitude represents a true and admirable humility. A respectably "chastened epistomology".

Let's cut to the chase here: if you really, truly believe that seventy percent of what you say may be theological cow patties, then please shut up until you sort out what you believe.

I guess another way of putting it would be: how much darkness negates light? We usually boldly say something about a single candle can make darkness flee. Does that analogy work when it comes to what we believe? When does the inability to focus on and articulate truth negate our ability to say "we see"? (cf. the three pix at the top of this post)

I mean, I wouldn't seek treatment for a life-threatening illness from a doctor who (humbly or otherwise) stated that they was 70% wrong about medicine, and they weren't sure which 70%. And a dentist sticking a drill in my mouth with a similar skill percentage? Not likely, amigo.

If we take "chastened epistomology" to mean less arrogance, less hair-splitting over non-essentials, and more grace towards others with differing views, then by all means let's pursue it.

But if we use "chastened epistomology" to mean that we can't say anything definitively, then I wonder if we're not playing some sort of theological russian roulette.

Because if we believe that James 3:1 is part of the Canon...
"Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly."
...then no matter how humbly we say it, being content with high percentages of uncertainty disqualifies us.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009: A Thousand Questions

Let the heart-cry and message of this video set the tone for 2009.