Growing to Maturity…

The last week I’ve had several interactions & meetings that drove me to dig out my copy of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality for a refresher.

The Scazzero book mentioned above, summed up, posits the idea that spiritual maturity & a true Christian experience can’t be separated from emotional health & maturity. E.g. emotionally immature people can’t/don’t grow to real spiritual maturity, even though they may have many, many years logged as Christians. Scazzero states, from his own experience, that only by becoming emotionally healthy can any of us truly grow to maturity.

In my un edgy-cated opinion, based solely upon my interactions with a large cross-section of humanity, (with a varied Christian experience & length of tenure as Christians,) tends to bear out Scazzero’s hypothesis. One of the things that I’ve also noticed is that the “ministry” seems to attract, nurture, & reward emotionally unhealthy people – in that it, the ministry, becomes a valid place for a person to ‘get their strokes,’ though its often at the expense of others. And in the name of God. Why is this?

I’m re-reading the book. And pondering these thoughts. And doing a lot of introspecting.

more quotes from "Myth of a Christian Nation"

Confrontational Evangelism

Read this & had to share this LONG excerpt from Myth Of A Christian Nation – on the heels of “Moral Guardians,” esp. interesting is the take on “confrontational evangelism.”

The nationalistic slogan, “One nation, under God” influences many Christians to turn to the Old Testament more than the New (Testament) in their understanding of America & of the role of the church within America. Consequently, Christians often turn to the models of Old Testament “watchmen” & of John the Baptist to understand what they are supposed to be doing in the culture, rather than to the model of Jesus. Instead of living to sacrifice for others, we become the Official “sin-pointer-outers.” Instead of gaining a reputation of being humble servants who manifest Calvary-quality love, we gain a reputation for being moralistic & self-righteous…

The Israelites understood themselves to be in a covenant relationship with God, & they also understood that the job of watchmen & prophets such as John the Baptist was to hold the people and their leaders accountable to this covenant. As a matter of principle, prophets & watchmen didn’t hold non-Jews accountable to God’s unique covenant with Israel; their role was only to hold Jews accountable, for the covenant that formed the basis of this accountability was made only with the Jews…

The roles of prophets & watchmen have no application to Christians within American society as a whole… God’s covenant with Israel was not a covenant with America or any other nation. What’s more, the self-understanding of most people in America today is worlds removed from the self-understanding of Jews under the Old Covenant. When Christians model themselves after Old Covenant prophets & watchmen, they end up trying to hold people accountable to things these people know little about & care even less about. It is at best ineffective, & at worst it is positively harmful to the advancement of the kingdom of God.

One of the most clear expression of the Old Testament model of evangelism today is found in an increasingly popular form of witnessing sometimes called “confrontational evangelism.” In this model people are taught that it is the job of Christians to get other to realize they have broken one or more of the Ten Commandments & that they, therefore, deserve God’s eternal wrath. The goat is to get people to see their need for a Saviour… the situation is no different from a Muslim telling a non-Muslim stranger who happens to be eating pork that he deserves to go to hell because the Koran forbids it. Why should the non-Muslim care what the Koran says?

When Christians confront people on the basis of presuppositions not shared by the people they confront, they come across as rude & usually render the gospel less credible to the people they confront.

I’m back, & these are my thoughts… the Christian that receives a “rejection” message from the people of the confronted culture view this rejection as a badge of honor, a real PROOF of the validity of their means & methods. (Check out Dan Kimball’s post on this topic.) Instead, I believe that the rejection has something to do with the distasteful taking of Jesus’ name in vain, portraying a Christ that fits our own model of Christianity, looks, thinks, & acts a like like us, & that really is looking forward to damning these sinners to hell. Ouch.

When Chief Sinners Become Moral Guardians…

I’ve been reading a book by Gregory A. Boyd called Myth Of A Christian Nation. It addresses how the (largely evangelical) church has attempted to use political power in order to advance a ‘christian’ worldview. Boyd, a pastor, challenges the idea that America is (& was) a Christian nation, & points the Church towards Scripture to find out & to reclaim what our real mission is: the message of the cross (not the sword,) & the message of Christ’s love for us. AND every other human being on the planet.

Today’s reading was from the chapter “When Chief Sinners Become Moral Guardians” – it addresses the problems that result when the church takes on itself the role of being the “moral guardian” of a nation, community, or culture…

A few highlights in the form of quotes from this chapter:

  • As people called to mimic Jesus in every area of our lives, we should find it significant that Jesus never assumed the position of moral guardian over any individual, let alone over the culture at large.
  • When we assume the role of moral guardians of the culture, we invariably postion ourselves as judges over others.
  • When the church sets itself up as the moral police of the culture, we earn the reputation of being self-righteous judgers rather than loving, self-sacrifical servants.
  • When people assume the position of moral guardians of the culture, they invite – they earn! the charge of hypocrisy, as all judgment, save the judgment of the omniscient & holy God, involves hypocrisy
  • Throughout history, the church has proven itself to be a very poor moral guardian. Whenver the church exercises the power of Caesar to enforce its doctrine & convictions, the result has usually been at least as bad as any non-Christian version of the kingdom of the world.
  • An interesting & thought-provoking read, for sure…


    A personal favorite of mine… Roland Steven Taylor. A great teacher using the medium of music & video, laced with sarcasm, satire, irony, & absurdity, asking Christ-followers to be more than clones… Shaped my wit… sense of humor… dislike of “christian” posturing… & some other stuff.

    From the album “Squint”. Lyric posted below.

    Strike this little pose
    Chin up in the air
    Lips together tightly
    Nostrils in a flare
    Now look like you care
    Very nice!

    Practice in the mirror
    Brushing back a tear
    Very sincere
    A promising career could begin right here at home
    If you’ve got that smug…
    That smug…


    Hey mama hey mama lookee what your little babies all have become
    Hey mama hey mama don’t it ever make you wish you’d been a nun?
    Vain and fickle, were we weaned on a pickle?
    Is it in our blood?
    Rome is burning
    We’re here turning smug

    Strike another pose
    Power politics
    Swallow their conventions
    Get your power fix
    We love to mud wrestle
    We love to be politically Koreshed

    Practice that smug
    Post it like a man
    One part Master Limbaugh
    Two parts Madame Streisand
    Now pretend you’re in a band
    My, my, we’re looking smug
    Very very very very


    All you smug-starved millions in the thick of the search
    Welcome to our church
    Whatcha wanna solve?
    We can help you evolve from merely self-righteous
    To perfectly smug

    Strike the proud pose of our country club brethren
    Friendly as a tomb
    Fragrant as the bottom of a locker-room broom
    Now what’s the matter?
    Hey…get off your knees…that part don’t come ’til later…
    God will not be pleased…

    Rome is cooking
    My, we’re looking smug

    Everybody Must Get Cloned…

    If you’ve ever wondered how I’ve ended up like I have, take a look at this:

    Steve Taylor shaped my thinking about Christ, Christianity, & living the life of a Christ-follower, often using irreverent, sarcastic lyric/music… stuff that made me think & ask, “Now why is it we do it that way again?” And, “Is that REALLY how we’re (aka: The Machine called church) coming off? And if so, why?”

    Thanks to Pat D for sending this my way – you made my day.

    Mother’s Day…

    I’ve been doing a little research on Mother’s Day – origins, practices, etc. (HISTORY nerds unite…) in the hopes of discovering the basis for the overcommercialized, mass-marketed holiday that Mother’s Day is today. I found that a woman named Julia Ward Howe, peace activist & author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic was a post-Civil War voice motivating mothers of the world to unite: for peace, for family, for safety, against war, poor treatment of workers, poor sanitation, & abuse of alcohol.

    Below is the “Mother’s Day Proclamation” written by Howe, a rallying cry for mothers – Enjoy.

    Arise then Christian women of this day!
    Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or of tears!
    Say firmly:
    “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
    Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
    For caresses and applause.
    Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
    All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
    We, the women of one country,
    Will be too tender of those of another country
    To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”
    From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
    Our own. It says: “Damn! Damn!
    The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
    Blood does not wipe out dishonor,
    Nor violence indicate possession.
    As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
    At the summons of war,
    Let women now leave all that may be left of home
    For a great and earnest day of counsel.
    Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
    Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
    Whereby the great human family can live in peace, man as the brother of man,
    Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
    But of God –
    In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
    That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
    May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
    And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
    To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
    The amicable settlement of international questions,
    The great and general interests of peace.

    Defined by a label…?

    Yesterday, I took a quiz I found on a blog I read – DISCLAIMER: this was a new thing for me, as I usually don’t spend my time filling out meaningless, time wasters (my own stereotype & feelings about ‘those things” inserted here.) This one, however, intrigued me, as it attempted to bring out & identify my “theological worldview” – I was intrigued because I see myself (& you) as a pretty sophisticated, complex, deep & often parodoxical person who can’t be accurately described with a label. This quiz told me that I could. It was a challenge, & I took it. Here are the results.

    You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God’s grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.

    Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan




    Neo orthodox






    Roman Catholic


    Reformed Evangelical


    Classical Liberal


    Modern Liberal


    What's your theological worldview?
    created with

    Male & Female

    For the last several weeks, I’ve been prepping for a series on ‘being male & being female” – exploring how God’s has put us together & created us; to me, this means understanding what it means to be male/female, & also how our identity, role assumptions, life choices, & ultimately every one of our relationships are greatly affected by sin/our fallen nature. BTW: the symbol at left is historically the one used for male – (& Austin Powers, but I digress) & originated from identification w/the little ‘g’ god, Mars… which is why the arrow points to the NE, & is supposed to remind us of Mars’ shield & arrow.) The symbol at right is the historical symbol for female & originated from identification w/the little ‘g’ goddess, Venus – the little cross is supposed to represent Venus’ hand mirror… (so, no, John Gray & Barbara DeAngelis didn’t come up with this Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus idea…)

    In some ways, this study has been like descending a spiral stair case that seems like it couldn’t REALLY go any farther down, only to find that every ‘floor’ that is descended exposes yet another flight of descending stair. It would be easy to get lost in this topic. Some of the things that I’ve been sorting through:

    -God’s intended role for Adam/Eve in Eden.
    -what it means to live as a godly man/woman, & how much of who we are/what we become is unique, often not fitting too well with preconceived stereotypes
    -how people w/infomation & education (often men) have used their info/education to exploit others
    -how role expectations affect our behavior; whether it be how we embrace certain behaviors as “things men/women do” & conversely then, “don’t do” & how we can intentionally choose an opposite role of what we “should do” in order to protest/rebel/avoid not measuring up to an expected role we’re ‘supposed’ to fill.
    -men & women: equal but different
    -using/misusing the Bible for selfish purposes; in many ways, this has meant justifying sexist (or at least anti-woman) practices ideas, esp. when it comes to spiritual leadership.
    -the emasculation of men as an overcorrection to the above behavior
    -the effect of the curse on our lives, choices, actions, & behaviors – esp. in our relationships (see Genesis 3 – on the serpent, Eve & Adam)

    I’m hoping to see great freedom, wholeness, restoration, & truth in our personal lives & interpersonal relationships as a result of where we’re heading… & at the same time, feel as though I’m heading into a minefield.

    Colbert commentary…

    “I love my Church, and I’m a Catholic who was raised by intellectuals, who were very devout. I was raised to believe that you could question the Church and still be a Catholic. What is worthy of satire is the misuse of religion for destructive or political gains. That’s totally different from the Word, the blood, the body and the Christ. His kingdom is not of this earth.”
    –Stephen Colbert in TimeOut New York

    post-easter musings…

    My sleep habits have returned to just about 90% of normal – right on schedule – 2 weeks post-travel. Hooray.

    Painful transparency: I wrestled with a lot with new emotions on Easter – 1st service Chris actually prayed something that seemed to hit it on the head for me – He said, “Jesus, let us not fall into forgetfulness about the meaning & power & impact of the cross & resurrection.” That summed it up: falling into forgetfulness – coming close to missing the power of the event by slipping into church holiday mode. It was wearying almost like walking through deep snow is wearying…

    Made me wonder if its just me that feels this – kinda like this at Christmas too – fighting the ‘going on autopilot” feeling.

    I ponder… . if having a different kind of service on Easter (like a party) would be more appropriate or at least an appropriate response to the resurrection… not to go counter-culture for the heck of it, maybe even doing a ‘regular’ service, but also have an alternative – a celebration of life. Just my musings on it so far…