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Large mamals, and fermented drinks...

I've had the privilege of being up in Port Hardy this past week, working with my new father in law at his Kayak shop. Apart from cleaning kayaks all day and taking reservations for the shop, I've had the opportunity to actually go out and kayak, couple times learning rescues and another time helping guide a tour.

If you have never been to Port Hardy it's a must, it's beautiful (well not so much the town itself, but its natural surrounding, the town itself is kinda a dive...anyyyyyways) it's quiet and you can enjoy a mostly unspoiled landscape and scenery.

On the first tour we did, we encountered, within the first 10 minutes of our 6 hour tour 3 humpback whales. I'm not talking sea world trained porpoises, I'm talking massive couple ton whales, wild, and feeding. As we were watching one of them came right in between our group of 12 people (safely away but close enough to scare a few of our UK tourists) and just breached 15-20 feet in front of us, fish flying everywhere as he (or maybe she I have no idea) scooped them up.

It was a most incredible sight, one I had never seen before and this went on for a good hour of us watching and it never got dull, we just wanted more. I was amazed and in awe of these gigantic animals so close to me, it just took your breath away.

On the flip side my wonderful amazingly patient wife has been at home taking care of 5 foster kids for her mom as she is away (the reason we really came up here). Now, having 5 kids is a chore in itself, but one in particular is difficult. This girl is about 6 years she poops herself, she doesn't talk well, she can't grasp simple concepts, like "Don't do a somersault when you're naked and have poo all over you in bath room cause Naomi will have to clean that up along with you."

The reason she is like this is because she has FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome). For those who are unaware of what this is, it's not a genetic disease, it's not something that the doctor did by accident causing brain damage. It's when the mother of a baby drinks during her pregnancy. Alcohol has devastating effects, even in the smallest amounts on a growing fetus. Little is not what this girl had, to put it the best I can, she was pickled from conception to birth in alcohol. My father put it this way "I wouldn't be surprised if it smelt like someone was drinking when she was born."

It breaks my heart knowing that a child who most likely was never wanted in the first place, will not only go from foster home to foster home because her parents continue in there downward spiral, but also, because of her FAS she will never be able to function normally (or whatever we call normal).

The system will toss her around back and forth, she will continue to be abused and most likely by the time she is in her teen be placed in a home.

For something so preventable, something so trivial can change the outcome of a humans life for good or for bad.

So why write about two so unrelated topics, whales and alcohol. The reason is this just made me think of how fast life can change, in one moment I am in wonder, the next an anger burns in me because I get upset at a girl for doing something she can't help. Not because it's her fault, but because her parents are caught in a cycle of self destruction affecting everyone around them.

I am perplexed at my range of emotions through out the day, I am confused at my justification in myself that I can do nothing to help, I'll just go back to my whale watching and try to forget.


Why Christianity doesn't work (Part 5 the finale)

Emotionalism...church...all I'm going to do is show two clips and you can draw your own conclusions to what I'm getting at....cue the music...



Why Christianity doesn't work (Part 4)

I know it has been awhile since I last posted however, in my defense I am getting married soon and that owns my life currently!

Anyways to the task at hand.

In this discussion I want to bring to light the idea of guilt and emotionalism within the church.

This isn't a new idea, I grew up Roman Catholic, I know what guilt is, let me tell you. However, one of the main things that drew me to become "evangelical" so to speak was the idea of having a relationship with a God that loved me and cared for me, not one that was constantly looking over my shoulder waiting to kick my a** when I did something wrong.

That being said, we protestants, evangelicals, new reformed, whatever you call yourself, love guilt, we just package it another way.

My understanding is that there are two different ideas in this regard, there is guilt which makes you feel horrible about when you have done something wrong, or haven't met the mark in some regard, and their is "conviction" which is church’s word to make you feel bad about something you have done!

Paul writes:
The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 5-6)

Paul sums up Christianity in this passage in my opinion. This is the idea of our relationship with God. We are saved by grace, we live in grace, we will mess up, it’s the reality. However the law allowed for sin to abound all the more, but with idea of sin, grace, and Jesus we have a hope and a prayer to have an interesting, good, pleasing relationship with God.

Elsewhere Paul writes:
"Everything is permissible for me"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"—but I will not be mastered by anything. (1 Cor 6)

We are not bound by anything but God's laws. As a believer and follower of Christ my motivation should be to please Jesus only, no one else. My relationship is based on my closeness to my savior!

So why then do I tithe, lift my hands in worship, read my bible, pray? If I am honest, if you're honest it is because I feel guilty if I don't. Guilt is not something that God makes us feel. It's others.

I mentioned “conviction” is the word the church uses, well, because it biblical. However the church isn’t the one who is supposed to convict, it is the Holy Spirit. Conviction brings about change to make you better, guilt brings about an urge to make yourself feel better.

If I am honest as stated above, guilt is my motivation for doing many of the things I do in church. If I don’t tithe I feel bad because I’m supposed to give 10% to be a good Christian and receive God’s “blessing.” If I don’t raise my hands in worship ESPECIALLY when I don’t feel like it I feel bad because I need to “worship” God at all times even when I don’t want to.

From my infancy to now in my relationship with God I do things because others say I should not because I want to.

However my motivation for all things should be to please the one who gave me life! The one who will change me and shape into a better human. I should give because I want to please God not because someone tricks me to, I want to worship God because I want to know him more, not because I’m trying to show others I can lift my hands…

I want a deeper relationship for the sake of knowing what it means to have Jesus as my King…to sit in his temple and be at his feet…

As a church leader I never want to show pictures of starving kids to raise funds to a cause, or to tell people that they are not good followers of Christ if they don’t worship at a certain time or place, or certain way and find scripture to fit that thought so I can shape what Church should look like. I want to preach a saving relationship with God, a brand new life through Christ, and an empowered life through the Holy Spirit, and let them do their thing in that person’s life and cause them to change as they seek a deeper relationship with our God.

I want to Preach Jesus and let his words and love make people who God created them to be…and support and encourage them along the way as they try, fail, succeed, fall, and get up, cry, laugh and be a messed up human seeking a perfect God.

Next blog Part 4 con’t (Emotionalism)


Why Christianity doesn't work (Part 3)

Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple."
1 Corinthians 3:16-17

The last post has opened the door to many questions, and the main one that has been asked over and over is, "Geoff, do you not believe in the church?"

The short answer is yes, the long answer...still yes (am I saying yes I do believe in the church or no I don't, what I mean to say is that I do believe in the church...man I can't even answer my own question to myself??). I can't argue against the importance of the church, it's biblical! In the verse above, Paul talks to the church in Corinth and speaks of the church as something sacred. It is something holy, that His spirit lives in the church.

We all know that the church isn't the building, but it is us as fellow Christ followers. That is the church. We are the church! Paul writes in Corinthians as well that we are one body that one part can't say to the other "We don't need you!" (1 Cor 12:12ff)

So what I was getting at in the whole conversation "conversation" was that it's not supposed to replace the church, it is supposed to be the church. In regards to the building, order of service, giving etc aspect I do see the value in it. I understand that people need someone to teach them, they need a place to call their own, and they need to have a place to give. My issue with all of this is that I think we're not grasping the idea of what church should be. Mr. Green (of the Adam kind) so kindly commented that the early church met together in the Temple to be taught and learn together. There is rhyme and reason to meeting together, as a group. That is what the body is supposed to do.

My issue is that there are so many people doing so many things, all confessing that Jesus is God. The Catholics, the Presbyterians (on a side note I heard a "Christian" song in which the verse sang ' You love the Presbyterians; You love the gays and the lesbians' I could not stop laughing, all for the fact the author of this song wanted lesbians in the song, and the only thing the rhymes sensibly is Presbyterians!! Hahaha...oh man...people are dumb...anyways back to the task at hand) The issue, right...doing many things, Lutheran, Baptist, Mennonite etc...the list goes on.

We're all on the same team, however people can't seem to make up their mind on where to go, what to do. If you're a bible believing, Jesus loving church, we're on the same side! Yet, the feeling I get more often than not is the attitude of competition! Well, this church isn't doing this right so lets start our own thing, and do it right, to which another church says the same thing, and then another and yet another.

Christianity (Church) isn't about being innovative, it's about being faithful to Jesus!

Mark Driscol (Preaching Pastor at Mars Hill Church Seattle)

We need to understand that doing things together is the way the church is going to make an impact. How are we to “change the world” when we can’t even get along with other people who profess they love and serve the same God. We need to be faithful to our call to love, and love well (Phil 1:9)

The conversations need to stem further than our front doors. Leaders are so preoccupied making their church better that they forget that no man is an island. Building a house is easier with more people. Conversation opens the door to get past differences, to understand that you don’t speak in tongues and I do! That’s great. Do you love Jesus? Yes! Then lets move forward together.

Why are our churches not making change, to go back to Paul’s words…”If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him…” What doesn’t work is the thinking that they’re gonna do our thing, they’re gonna do theirs! What it needs to be is community of Christ followers, doing the work together, showing the world that we can do what Jesus asked us.

“Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life
That you conferred as a gift through me,
So they can be one heart and mind
As we are one heart and mind”
Jesus (God, master, Messiah praying for us!)


Why Christianity doesn't work (Part 2)

"I think what makes more sense is that churches be organized around the particular vision that God has entrusted to the leaders, and that the church remain true to that vision.... Individuals, particularly younger generations, are saying, 'you know what, it's got to be genuine. It's got to be authentic. It has to reflect who I am, what I need, where I'm going.' So you are going to see all these other models: the house church; the cyber church; the boutique churches; faith communes; eschatological forums; marketplace affinity groups and so forth."
George Barna

As I've been thinking more about this topic and having conversations with others about this topic, I've really had to mull over what I was going to write about. I better be able to back up my "outrageous" claim. This first topic, hopefully, will discuss how we've missed the mark on the youth and young adults in our culture.

Let me preface this by saying I am a young adult, who is for the most part, is confused about his Christianity. As I talk to others my age, this seems to be the general consensus, for the most part. Especially for those of us that have been in "ministry" these past few years, we've been feeling much like a square peg trying to be hammered into a round hole. For the longest time, I thought that this was the pressures of being around people, planning events, trying to sort out my own life. However, as I've read the Bible, looked to others for advice, and just thought about many different things, I've realized that it wasn't what was going on in my life that was causing the tension, but my understanding of faith, and Christ that was pulling me taught!

Here is the deal, in the quote above, George Barna writes that young adults are saying that something in the the church isn't meeting them where they are at. So, our solution is to think of something else, some are great ideas, some not so much (Ship of Fools was a ridiculous idea). I do believe there needs to be something else, but I don't think that the solution is another church, organization, or group.

As I look at the New Testament Church I don't see a formula as we do it. Formula? You know, 1. Welcome, 2. Music, 3. Announcements, 4. Offering, 5. Preaching, 6. Music, 7. Dismiss. You may say no, no, our church is different, no it's not! You just do it in a different order, Announcements may follow your offering! I recently read a book called What I do see is this:

"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."
Acts 2:42-47

This was the church. They ate together, they hung out together, celebrated life together, and God came with them. The interesting part about this passage is, that as they were doing life, people were added to their numbers! By eating food, and talking, and learning from the disciples, they grew!

The idea is not another church for our young adults, it's another way of thinking about what they want. For the most part people having been getting dumb, dumber, and dumberer. No one is challenged to think for themselves, and if they are, they think things that are a waste of time thinking about. What I want is a young adult is to learn something, not necessarily be taught, but to learn, through conversation, from someone who has lived life differently or has a perspective that challenges my own.

This past week I had the privilege of going out with my fiance and a married couple who we like! As we hung out with them for the day, and finished our little double date day off with a meal, we talked, and talked well! For a good 2 hours we had conversation. From that 2 hours of eating, drinking, and talking I felt I had learned more about myself, about my soon to be wife, and about Jesus than I have from being in Church the last few months!

How is that possible? It is possible, it happened, I was there. I know how I felt. As I work these things out I realize that what I want, what young adults want
(for the most part) is to talk, and to talk well! The early church did it, they ate, drank, and met with God in their conversations. The disciples were there to teach and correct, but through conversation. Yet we always feel the need to organize our conversations, bring it into the same place add some music, and give away money. The early church did this too...and what happened once they got organized, people start making their own rules, getting drunk on communion, having sex with each other, and getting stern reprimands from a converted murderer (read 1 Corinthians again!)

I see the value in Church as we do it now, don't get me wrong, but I see more life change through having conversation, which we don't do nearly enough! Life happens 6 other days of the week, however, for whatever reason, we think that we grow on Sunday, or we should anyways. I'm gonna be frank, most of what I hear from the stage doesn't change me, the music I hear doesn't move me, the way I give doesn't make me feel like I am worshiping. When I am singing in my car driving to see my fiance I feel God singing with me, when I pay for someone else's meal I feel God saying "good job" when I talk with my friends about life, God joins me in the conversation. So let's have conversation...


Why Christianity doesn't work (Part 1)

Over the past year, I have been really struggling with the idea of what I believe and why I believe it. A normal process I think that all people should go through.

As I think more and more about who Jesus was, and who I think he is, the two can't be reconciled. I feel more and more that what I was taught, and raised to think about him, is not at all what Jesus was like. That what I've grown up doing, and what I get paid to do now doesn't work, in fact it's not even right, relevant, or even reasonable.

Over the next couple weeks, hopefully I can create an understanding of why Christianity as we do it doesn't work. How Christianity has been done, has caused more harm than good. Finally, hopefully, a solution, or a step forward on where we can go, and how being a Christ follower is not a fix to a problem, but another question that may make life harder before it gets better.

My mind hurts to think of the foundations that were built up in my relationship with God that are slowly crumbling away. However I am nervously excited to start pouring a new one, a better one, a right one! So hopefully, we can discuss openly together about why Christianity doesn't work.