Monday, July 30, 2012

Coming Soon: Detoxing from Church

There is definitely a growing sense of excitement and anticipation in nearing the finish line of publishing a book.
The home stretch for the book version of Detoxing from Church -- in print as well as e-publishing -- is coming to a close. While I can't promise the exact day the book will be released, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting very near.

Detoxing from Church will be available in numerous e-formsts, including Kindle, Kobo, Sony, etc., as well as in print. Once the book is released, there will be a permanent link in the sidebar where all the appropriate links will be listed.

About the cover art:

When people talk about their negative experiences with church, the tendency is to focus almost exclusively on what they resented and how they were wounded. If that were my focus in writing this book, it would make more sense to use a bio-hazard warning as a cover image.

But my focus in writing is on recovery, and becoming emotionally & spiritually healthy. The emphasis is on the positive outcomes of 'detoxing from church'.

This book is intended to be the literary equivalent to offering a cup of cold water (Matthew 10:40-42), and the cover image was chosen to reflect this.

Of course, being married to a professional photographer is a great help, as is Wendy's remarkable creativity and seemingly endless flow of ideas. I love her inclusion of lemons, limes, and mint leaves to the cup of cold water -- it looks even more refreshing as a result. And that is, ultimately, my hope for those who read Detoxing from Church. To be refreshed and encouraged.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

In a Country Far, Far Away...

Caleb McAlpine continues to write incredible music, with an assortment of his incredible friends.

I don't know about you, but this sure looks like 'community' to me.

(And can I just say, once again, how proud I am of my son?)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Kaleidoscope

'A kaleidoscope is a cylinder with mirrors containing loose, colored objects such as beads or pebbles and bits of glass. As the viewer looks into one end, light entering the other creates a colorful pattern, due to the reflection off of the mirrors. "Kaleidoscope" is derived from the Ancient Greek καλός (kalos), "beautiful, beauty", εἶδος (eidos), "that which is seen: form, shape" and σκοπέω (skopeō), "to look to, to examine", hence "observer of beautiful forms."' (source: Wikipedia)
"Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." (Ephesians 4:15-16)
One of the encouraging aspects of our current season is our opportunity to regularly connect with several difference churches in town. Two are Mennonite Brethren in background (one mega-church pursuing ways of becoming more intentionally missional, the other a downtown gathering for the street community), one is a Christian Reformed church-plant that invests one worship service per month in serving the community around them, and the other a Vineyard with a large contingent of artists and musicians wrestling through the issues of art, faith, and justice.

These are only four of a large number of churches of varying denominations in our town, but even by our regular participation with just these four, we can see a wonderful tapestry -- or kaleidoscope -- emerging as 'each part does its work'.
  • Each has some sort of outreach to the community around them.
  • Each is in the process of finding out how to bless the poor, and tackle the local issues of injustice.
  • They didn't try to create some monolithic and unwieldy über-church organization.
  • Each just does its part, unique to each gathering.
It's fascinating, encouraging, and humbling to see what God is doing.


Playing bass at the Kelowna Vineyard (picture courtesy of Len Hjalmarson's iPhone)
Metro Central

Willow Park Church

The Well

Kelowna Vineyard

Friday, July 20, 2012

Rotten to the Core: Five Steps

This was the view from our carport deck last week. Our neighbours -- and our youngest daughter, who was playing with their daughter at the time -- were literally five steps away from disaster.

When they pulled into their driveway and opened the car doors, they heard the tree making loud creaking sounds. Fortunately, our neighbour wisely ordered the girls to quickly move towards the house.

Five quick, running steps, and the tree collapsed, crashing down where they had all been standing just seconds before. Thankfully, no-one was hurt. My daughter later remarked on how loud the creaking had been, and that they were just staring at the tree, mesmerized, until our neighbour told them to run.

The tree had looked perfectly healthy just the day before. Wide branches, lots of leaves, casting a wonderful amount of shade from the hot summer sun. There were no high winds, no heavy storms. Just a typical summer's day, until the tree suddenly split and half of it came crashing down.

The next day, from the same vantage point, I watch in fascination as city workers came and, with surgical precision, carved the tree apart and disposed of it. Just a couple of hours later, only a stump -- barely visible above ground -- remained.

Now, you know me: I tend to see metaphors in things around me. (From time to time.)

Metaphors that sometimes express themselves as questions.

And the tree next door got me thinking, as I watched it being systematically carved into smaller chunks and taken away, so that only a stump remains to give testimony to what had once been a mighty tree.

The tree appeared healthy. It had all the usual signs of life. Yet a rot had spread deep within; a deadly weakening that ultimately resulted in its collapse and disappearance.

Metaphorically speaking, how much "rot" can exist within our theological beliefs before the whole tree comes crashing down? Which doctrines/teachings are simply a matter of differing opinions, and which ones either give life or produce rot?

Just wondering.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

$#*! Christians Say

I love a good conversation.

I have many fond memories during my Bible college years of late-night, often very animated discussions about theology, relationships, and life in general. Lots of spirited debate, spiced with laughter, and grounded in mutual respect. Same goes for current coffeehouse conversations that I'm privileged to be a part of.

That isn't always the case. Sometimes, an otherwise promising and enjoyable conversation is abruptly derailed by jargon-filled slogans. You may have over-heard some of these phrases from time to time:
  • "don't touch the Lord's anointed"
  • "self-appointed doctrine/revival police"
  • "Don't be so religious." (This one takes the cake: it's perfectly meaningless, yet somehow profoundly effective in shutting people up.)
They're the conversational equivalent of throwing a monkey wrench into a gearbox. All dialogue immediately grinds to a halt. Any contrary opinions are neatly circumvented. In short, it's the verbal power trip of censorship.

This slogan-based censorship could also be filed under: "$#*! Christians Say". Here's two examples that seem to be making the rounds recently:

1. "The Bible never calls itself the 'word of God'; Jesus is the Word of God."

A natural rejoinder might be: "And your point is...?" But regardless of whatever their point might be, this little tidbit of censorship doesn't hold up.
Here's another example:

2. "Jesus didn't come to start a religion." (Can you hear the conversational gears grinding?)

'Jesus didn't come to start a religion'. Well, thanks for the info, but we already knew that. God the Father had already started a religion: it was called Judaism. Jesus came as the Jewish Messiah, in fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies found in the Jewish Scriptures. The 'good news' was that the Messiah had come, and His name was Jesus!

And the 'mystery of the Kingdom' mentioned in Paul's epistles was simply this: Gentiles were included in the salvation brought by this Jewish Messiah (Ephesians 3:6). Which, speaking as a Gentile, I'd consider 'good news'!

The disciples of Jesus were known as a 'sect' called The Way, according to the book of Acts (Acts 9:1-2, 19:8-10, 24:14-16). Gentile converts were first called 'Christians' by other Gentiles in the city of Antioch (Acts 11:19-26).

No, Jesus didn't come to start a religion -- He came to fulfill the one His Father had already started.

But seriously, folks, I'm glad that people are using these conversation-killing slogans. I don't endorse their use as censorship, of course, but I do think they provide a wonderful challenge:

To be knowledgeable enough about what the Bible actually says, that these slogans utterly fail as censorship.