Tag Archives: God

God on Facebook?!?

Ok, this picture is corny and wrong! As Shane said, “what do they do with the Poke function?” and what about all the special invites people give me that make me download new applications and stuff. I always ignore them. This is not a very good way of advertising:


If God is Love… where does fear fit in?

I’m reading this book, which our church is reading for Lent – If God is Love: Rediscovering Grace in an Ungracious world. It’s a jarring book, as it would probably be considered heresy in all the churches I have ever been a part of in the past (these blessed Presbyterians). The authors’ main premise is that God loves universally, saves universally, and we have done wrong to start with fear as a way of introducing God and salvation to people. While I don’t end in the same place, that being universal salvation, I do have a sense that God loves universally… and that fear is not something that is of God.

The issues that the authors raise… those regarding fear, speak volumes to me. They write of manipulation and a tendency to “evangelize” most effectively with those who have already grown up in environments of fear or abuse. As these people are already afraid or insecure, the notion of hell and judgment or a God who is ready to strike us down hits them strongly and they turn to God even more readily. No one wants to be struck down or burned for all of eternity… especially when life is a fearful thing already. In my understanding, this manipulation is not something Jesus exemplified. It is not the God I know and experience daily.

70453844_7ce7c1479a_o.jpgSo the issue of fear is what has struck the greatest chord. I am under the impression that more people live in fear than I can possibly conceive. Fear is everywhere, and most only know to respond fearfully in return. It is in our government, in our churches, in our families, in our selves. I have tasted it so strongly as I have been growing up. Granted, I feel a progression of less fear as those close to me become increasingly reconciled. This I thank God for. To live in love is not to fear. Right? I suppose I can rest in this movement away from fear that I am experiencing… but there is something missing. I guess I miss the acknowledgment from those close to me that the fear existed. I need to hear this. I need to hear people say, “Yah, I felt that fear, too. I still feel that fear… it effects me every day.” I guess that’s why I am sending this.

I have long begun refusing to acknowledge or accept pressure through fear… but whether it was just me and my own perceptions, or whether it had something to do with the story that we all come from… I grew up with a strong sense of fear. I knew that if I did the right thing… or at least didn’t get caught for doing the wrong thing (or things that I didn’t even think were wrong, but other people thought they were)… if I stayed out of trouble, I was OK with people in authority. Everyone was happy. BUT… BUT… if I got caught doing the wrong thing (and I use those words intentionally), I was in serious trouble. I don’t need to mention what the trouble looked like, because it came in all sorts of different ways, but it was there. Trouble. And this amounts to fear. I was, and really still am, afraid. I would say some of us have been crippled by this at times. Some just wounded. I have to say, I have a limp. This I know. It is with me… and I want more than anything to get out of it… but the fear is there. I guess this is my acknowledgment.

So I guess my question in the subject of this email stands… If God is love, where does fear fit in? Am I imagining it… or is it really something never to be used for manipulation, control, discipline, or anything else? To what extent does the damage of manipulation through fear go? Thoughts?

This whole cell phone in church thing… bigger than just distractions

cellphone-3.gifI wanted to do a whole post dedicated to this idea of what our community worship experience might be like in regards to distractions like cell phones and kids. I know people may feel strongly about this and I wonder if we thought about our understanding of God and how he is present to us, whether it might inform our feelings about noise in our “service.” My thoughts on this have been greatly effected by my experiences at Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis, where we say, leave your cell phones on… God might have an important message for you from someone who is calling, and please be sure to answer it if it rings. Also, if a child is crying, we will stop and listen because every voice is valued in our community. Every voice. The idea is that if we are going to come together and bring our lives together, celebrating who we are and what is happening in the far corners of our city, we don’t want to put all that life aside and pretend that it doesn’t have a significant effect on how we worship together.

cellphone-6.gifIt seems that if we think of our worship time as something where information is imparted on us (scripture, the pastor’s insight, music, drama, whatever…), than any distraction from that process is a bad thing. Our “services” really are geared up for this sort of interaction. The voices that are valued are the people who have the microphone. Everyone is facing one person. We are sitting in chairs and in a way that is made for receiving. At Solomon’s Porch, our setting was more like a living room. Lots of couches, everyone sitting in the round. We were forced to see each other. Every voice is valued because we believe that God speaks through us all and through each other’s lives. Because of this cell phones and kids are not a big deal. Granted there is an element of respect that is needed… but we hope to not negate the life that each person brings to our gathering.

cellphone-11.gifBeyond it being a matter of how we view our weekly worship times and what we think about community values, this idea of God speaking to us is very important. I wonder if our weekly worship times are the best places for us to learn how to worship God in silence. First, I think that the silence through which we experience God is often times more an internal silence and peace than an external state of being. This is something that should perhaps be considered and practiced in a much more intentional setting than a hustle and bustle worship gathering. Also, God’s speaking to us is not something that we get to tailor and manipulate into our own comfortable preference… Think about it. What is the first thing that comes to our minds when we are in the middle of a prayer and someone’s phone goes off? Do we think, “Ugh… turn that off! How dare they forget to set it to vibrate!!” Or can we warmly smile and let them know that that’s okay… go ahead and answer it. I mean what if someone really needs them to answer it?

cellphone-9.gifMy main point here is that there are a lot of reasons why we insist on people putting their phones off. There are a lot of reasons why we want kids to shut up. Many of these reasons are unconscious, but when we think about it, perhaps we find it to be very revealing of how we think about God God’s-self. I am very interested in others’ thoughts about all this. Maybe one question that may help is to think about it is that we are afraid of when it comes to cell phones, kids, etc. What’s at risk?