Friday, June 30, 2006

"Superman." Superdumb.

Wednesday night I went out to see the movie "Superman" with some students and a few other youth leaders. What a way to take a great movie concept and make it terrible. Here is what I liked, and what I hated:

  1. Clark and Jimmy. The actors did a good job portraying them.
  2. The old guy at the top. Yup, that old guy sure did a good job. I'm being intentionally vague.
  3. Lois's fiance. Except for the fact that he's living with someone he's not married to, seems like a guy that has his act together and will fly a seaplane into an emerging continent to save the woman he loves.

  1. Lois living with a dude she's not married to.
  2. Superman effectively raping Lois by erasing her memory after they "did it," and then wanting to hang around his son in the bedroom. Superman is not supposed to be a pedophile. Or a pedo anything - he flies. No walking or perversion allowed.
  3. 80's effects. Come on, even Episode II was better than the 80's.
  4. Superman being a Superdeadbeat dad. Come on. The man of steel shouldn't need to "grow some." Joseph Stalin, the original man of steel, wasn't even a deadbeat dad.
  5. The really, really bad job they did of showing the urgency of stopping that whole destroying the world thingy-majigger.

    What they could have done better:
  • Had someone else make the stupid movie. God will punish them for making a movie with so many references to Christ that retarded.

"Why Don't People Understand My Specific Passions?" you ask. I answer.

There's something about breakfast, church, and "fellowship" (fellowship is like Jello - there's always more room for it.). I had my first regular morning breakfasts with one of my Pastors while I was still in high school. His name was Dave Spooner, and he was a great guy that I still touch base with from time to time. I guess I inherited the concept that breakfast is a good thing to minister and hang out during - and to plan over - from him.

This morning I had breakfast with a student that is going to Bible College in the fall. I can completely track with the thoughts that he's having right now, and I'm excited for him. I'm in Bible College right now (err... North Central University, formerly North Central Bible College). It was great to hear this student's passion for holiness, passion for Christ to be proclaimed, taught, and focused on in the church, and passion for the Holy Spirit. It was also a very recent memory in my life to hear frustration in his voice that represented unspoken words - "why the crap don't people have the same passions I do?!"

Our calling and our passion are very dear to us all, Christian and non-Christian. We all call them different things. Some will use the terminology of dream job, others will use passion, focus, vision - the list goes on. But you'll find very few people in life whose passions will closely mirror yours. A passion to pursue and focus on a different part of the goodness of God is essentially why we have different denominations; very few orthodox groups hold what I would deem terrible theology. Most represent an honest attempt to communicate a systematic understanding of Scripture and the nature of God. Mine is just better than... everyone else's.

This student has decided that the Nazarene Church holds beliefs that are closest to his. I can live with that - they have a remarkable emphasis on holiness and come from the same branch of the Fundamentalist tree that emerged in the 1880's as the Assemblies of God, the zany pentecostals I swing with.

The distinctive theology of the Nazarenes is their belief in Sanctification (I think it is #14 and #15 on the previous link I put up. In my opinion their focus is noteworthy, but their belief in instantaneous sanctification is based on the false premise that sin can't inhabit a being inhabited by God. Sickness and decay of the body - the ultimate manifestations of the fall of man and prevenient sin - prove that one can indeed have an indwelling of the Holy Spirit and... hmmm... I struggle to word this, a manifestation of evil (God still wins in the end, we're still saved, not dissing sick people as I myself get sick!). I don't believe sanctification is instant. I believe that it is a process, a dedication that must be constant. So I admire their emphasis but I think they're a bit off. Wouldn't stop me from going to a Nazarene Church though - that would be their architecture that stops me from going. Jesus is probably mad at them for painting his home town, Nazareth, as that "blah."

Getting back to my original thoughts, it's so interesting that we do all have different passions. It makes sense though, especially from the body perspective of Paul. We all need blood - every organ uses it. But only marrow makes blood. You could say it is marrow's passion. Only the heart pumps blood. Only the brain thinks. Only the nerves reflex. Only the eyes see. Yet every other system needs blood, the entire body reacts to sensory input, and the entire body is regulated and responds to the brain.

The next time you find yourself frustrated that everyone else doesn't have the same passion you do, remember that God doesn't want his body to be a Siamese twin with two heads, two hearts, an extra lung, etc. Thank Him that he's given you your passions - your place in the body - and then get out there and do something with it.

It's not that other people don't get you, it's that we're retarded and don't get them.

Oh, as I close, the image of us inserting our passions into others came through to me in a little picture just now like Dr. Moreau on his island genetically splicing people together, creating freaks. Yup, God is better than we are at deciding what gifts others have.

So, what do we as the church need to do better in expressing, nurturing, and "creating" passion?
  • Actively assess the gifts of others. This is practical! I get sick of people asking me if I know someone who is good at "x" or "y". We're all around people, some of us are just more observant. Take a handle on things and keep a lookout yourself. And of course, ask others :).
  • Show an appreciation of God's gifts. The legitimate ones (there are some dumb things people try to pass off as gifts) only. Make fun of all others. Let people know how valuable what they do is to other people and to God.
  • Encourage other people as they find their gifts.
  • Encourage people to ask for gifts, you know, like the Bible says. This more specifically relates to spiritual gifts.
  • Realize that you might sharpen gifts in others, but you will never create a gift. What we need to do better is not try to be creators of people. Don't try to be Dr. Moreau. Navy Seals will kill you.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Fire Pit Party

In about 10 minutes, MSMco. will be having a fire pit party. I'm really in a contemplative mode. As I was stuffing envelopes this afternoon, I listened to Dino Rizzo teach on Heaven and Hell as part of his Life University series. I'm blown away by the lack of understanding we see in this country on heaven and hell. I'm especially blown away by the lack of understanding in the church on heaven and hell. We really don't talk about it a lot.

And man, does the confusion about it show in students!

We've lost our sense of the absolute goodness of God, of his absolute sovereignty and of the absolute justness of his nature. There is a rebellion in this age that is perhaps unique in the history of America. Where past generations have denied the existance of God, this generation denies the legitimate superiority of God over His creation. We deny that God has the moral high ground to judge us. The funny thing is, I think that mindset started when we started teaching that Jesus taught not to judge. I don't read him as saying that anywhere. I do read him telling us to be ready to take what we dish out, to be situation appropriate, and to be tender, loving, and merciful when we point out sin.

Our treatment of God reminds me a lot of the castle scenes from Super Mario 3. In this game, a magical princess gives Mario a gem that causes ghosts to freeze when Mario faces them. The comparison sees us as the Ghosts, the devil as Mario, and bad exegesis of the Words of Jesus as the gem.

Let me tell you, we have to get out of this old 8 bit spiritual world (to take another gaming analogy) from the 80's and get into the true spiritual world. We don't have to freeze when we're confronted with sin, we don't have to freeze when the truth pops up and it won't be pleasant to share it with somone. What we have to do is help show our congregations how to be situation sensitive. There is no video game in the world that will allow the same type of attack to work against different characters. Every attack has to be customized. The same thing is true in so many situations - target packages in a military environment require a unique flight plan or unique munitions delivery system, hunters will use different methods for different kinds of prey, salesmen use different techniques for folks with different purchasing triggers.

So as I've been listening to Dean teach on Heaven and Hell this afternoon, I'm struck by how foolish we've been just to teach the Love side of God and drop the brimstone side of God. We've become the antithesis of our parents', grandparents', and greatgrandparents' generation. To a lot of them who sat under bad teaching, God was wrath. To our Generation, God is mush. Not love, mush. Mushy, misunderstood, feel good no consequence tickle me elmo mush. We've got to do a better job communicating his essence.

Some areas we need to improve on are:
  • The nature of God's love. This involves the passion of his love, the purpose of his love, the objects of his love, the endurance of his love, and the blocking of his love.
  • The nature of God's wrath.and what other concepts equate with it - justice, vengeance, righteousness, holiness, sanctification.
  • God's redemptive plan. Man, we are flaky. God is not a magician. I've seen enough of a lack of regeneration in the church today to figure out that "hocus pocus" sinners prayers are about as legitimate as a paypal account that has lost its connection to its owners bank account.

So, as I sit at this fire pit party tonight, I'm gonna have some fun with my students. And I'm gonna try to figure out what in the world to tell them about Hell. And how to do it.

A little help, Lord?