gentry13

Archive for May, 2004|Monthly archive page

In Uncategorized on May 29, 2004 at 3:32 am

greetings friends and loyal readers. i am sorry for the neglect. on wednesday evening i decided to take advantage of a ridiculously low jetblue fare and jet down to tampa/st. pete for the weekend. so i left the infinite march of massachusetts behind for the beauty of the tropics. good times…

after a few short days of respite, i don’t have anything really significant to say, but thought i could at least throw you the following frickin’ bone.

life lessons from tampa st. pete

1. occasionally, two year olds can tell a great joke. they then proceed to run it into the ground.

gillian bennett, the eldest daughter of rick and kristi bennett–my gracious hosts, has been running around the house saying ‘i’m john kerry and i approve this message.’ that was hilarious the first three times i heard it, and has been diminishing in humor ever since.

2. note to self regarding future offspring. when the two year old’s attempt to say ‘car’ comes out ‘ca ca,’ don’t encourage her to connect the unwitting curse to the word ‘head.’ she’s been repeating that phrase, which is the only i’ve truly ‘coined’ to date, quite regulary as well.

3. potty training is hell.

4. everyone shares one love language: listening. through prayer and motivational self-talk i tried to remind myself that the best way i could love rick and kristi was to listen to them. of course, i’ve been offering advice on a wide variety of subjects (not related to child rearing or potty training) for the past 36 hours. Lord, fill me with your Spirit so that I might listen to people, and so love them well.

In Uncategorized on May 25, 2004 at 5:11 pm

to the chagrin of rhetoricians and the barely stifled glee of late night comedians, President Bush has announced plans to make one speech a week until the U.S. Provisional Authority officially “hands over” sovereignty to the Iraqi people on June 30th.

fortunately, the major networks have decided not to televise these offenses to intelligent communication. apparently Americans want their CSI: Hong Kong more than they want this President.

what’s your favorite “bush-ism?” mission accomplished? axis of evil?

mine is the following:

“its like they say back in Texas, and probably in Tennessee, ‘fool me once, shame on…me? fool me twice…you can’t fool me again!”

In Uncategorized on May 25, 2004 at 12:05 pm

kellie and i have watched jim sheridan’s In America two times in the past week. if you are interested in experiencing an incredible re-creation of the gospel story, you need to check it out. sheridan stands in a centuries long line of irish storytellers who are able to explore the manner in which the original story of redemption is woven into the joys and struggles, strife and reconciliation of our own lives.

Lord God, we long to have eyes to see, ears to hear, hands to touch, tongues to taste and words to express your gospel in earthy, engaging ways. Thank you for this offering of Jim Sheridan. Enable us to tell your story in a similar way.

In Uncategorized on May 25, 2004 at 1:14 am

lately i have been thinking a lot about tension. it seems to me that tension is one of the most prominent characteristics of the Christian life (i.e., in the world, but not of the world) and of our Savior himself (fully God, yet fully man; his uncanny ability to afflict the comfortable, yet comfort the afflicted). anyway, since this tension motif has been on my mind as of late, i found the following passage from a church planting paper written by Timothy Keller of Redeemer Pres in NYC quite interesting:

“…a gospel centered church should have a social justice emphasis and effectiveness that greatly exceeds the liberal church’s. Meanwhile, it should have an evangelistic fervor that greatly exceeds the ordinary fundamentalist church’s. a gospel-centered church should combine ‘zeals’ that are ordinarily never seen together in the same church. this is one of the main ways we make people look twice and take our message seriously.”

simple yet profound, eh? now, if i could just learn how to lead a community that incarnates both of these zeals, i’d be getting somewhere.

by the way, my wife just told me to remind you, loyal reader, that i am quite married and unavailable. indeed, the ‘pimp driven life’ is now far behind me.

In Uncategorized on May 23, 2004 at 7:51 pm

in lieu of an engaging sunday morning service, i bring you an exclusive report on my sunday afternoon melancholy.

over the past year and a half i have been leading sinners and saints christian community and have been a part of the leadership team for city on a hill christian community. city on a hill is a small collective of christian communities (currently including 3 home churches–including s & S, one congregational church and a few affiliated christian workers) that is trying to effectively incarnate the gospel of Christ in the greater boston area. although we don’t have a comprehensive vision statement, or the fancy powerpoint presentation that usually accompanies such vision, we are marked by a passion for: proclaiming the gospel in a relational manner, extending Christ’s compassion to the weak in our communities (often through organizations like Beverly Bootstraps and doing life together in sacrificial community.

if my explanation of city on a hill seems underdeveloped, that is because our community has little understanding of our identity. for all of our idealism and passion for relational expressions of the church, our network is a mess. our founding pastor recently left in order to tend to the needs of his elderly parents, one of our homechurches has little desire to affiliate with the other two and our leadership currently consists of bi-vocational leaders who often find it difficult to lead a homechurch on a weekly basis, much less cast a vision and provide oversight for an entire network. thus, although i can readily identify signs of life in our little community, including a couple of new members in the past two months and the return of several leaders who have been on hiatus, most days i feel much more jaded than optimistic about our future.

today, has been one of those latter days. this morning, while half-heartedly participating in sunday morning chores, i tried to pray for our fragile little community. i prayed for my afternoon meeting with one of our newest members, i asked God to give me the passion and ability to lead and, mostly, asked God what the hell i am doing in this situation. my earliest ministry experiences were with rapidly developing willowish mega-churches. in those contexts i witnessed dozens of conversions, lived for the excitement of ‘pulling off’ engaging services and, at my first church, lived for the increasing challenges of growing responsibility. in my current context, i feel like i am failing to provide adequate leadership or helpful vision to a community full of individuals who seem more interested in fulfilling their narcissistic spiritual needs than sacrificially serving the poor or intentionally incarnating the gospel to this hope-less world. i worry that my full-time job is severely limiting my ability to serve and i wonder if i am wasting my gifts on a lark of a ministry.

perhaps these feelings are legitimate or perhaps i am merely afraid of the risks that relational ministry require. but…that’s where i’m at right now.

by the way, when i provide such musings i am not begging for affirmation or sympathy, i’m merely sharing the load that is laying upon my chest. thanks for listening.

In Uncategorized on May 21, 2004 at 2:32 pm

this morning, sir jim schunemann, of christianbook.com fame, offers the first installment in our new series: Happy Haiku Friday.

“meditate on life

recollect your every move

shit, the oven’s on.”

be sure to tune in next week for our new installment.

In Uncategorized on May 20, 2004 at 10:30 pm

i almost forgot…there is one title that i am interested in reading: Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would. i have ordered a galley copy of this work, so that I can read it next week and interview the author the week following. once the interview is complete, i’ll post it.

have there been any christian treatments of the homosexuality issue that you have found helpful? if so, let me know.

In Uncategorized on May 20, 2004 at 9:58 pm

for the past two days i have been reading manuscripts regarding homosexual marriage. at christianbook.com we have decided to run develop a little feature on this issue, because where there is controversy, there is ‘kwan.’ two of the titles are of the ‘chicken little’ variety (i.e., they run round and round in circles crying, the family is falling, the church is dying, the nation is decaying!) and they are driving me up a wall.

admittedly, i think that homosexual marriage will have some dire consequences, especially upon children who are raised without the positive influence of either a mother or a father, but i do not think that it is the lynch pin of western society (i.e., “pull the pin and bickety bam the whole stage falls down!”). moreover, i find the steadfast warnings of the james dobsons of the world, who are trying to goad us into action by asking “when will evangelicalism finally take a stand?” and are imploring us to make this our primary focus during these dark days, quite hollow. if these men are so passionate about defending the ‘sanctity of marriage’ why do they consistently fail to address the issue of spousal abuse, which is wrecking far greater havoc on our institution of marriage. how often have you heard pastors condemn spousal abuse from the pulpit? my guess is that it hasn’t been very often. likewise, when are we going to “take a stand” or “go to war” against child abuse? surely this is another seige ramp which has been raised against the citadel of marriage, but we rarely hear a peep about it in the church, either from the pulpit or in our literature (believe me, i’ve checked!).

i know that i am in danger of preaching one too many sermons on this topic, but i passionately believe that we must address these rampant issues, which are well rooted in the church and abundantly nourished by our shame and silence, before we can expect for the culture of this world to truly hear our critique. in essence, i think that we need to set our own house straight before we set out to subvert the pattern of this world.

okay, enough. i promise that is my last such post for a bit. by the way, if you ever want to check out my work at christianbook.com take a look at the Pastor’s Resource Center or the Christian Living Page. Remember, “for every coin in the coffer that clinks…”

In Uncategorized on May 18, 2004 at 8:15 pm

5.17.04

Today is the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education. A truly momentous event in American History, the Brown decision condemned the legal separation of black and white schoolchildren and so helped pave the way for a fully integrated society.

Today is also the first day that gays and lesbians will be allowed to marry in the United States. Since our beloved commonwealth is ground zero for those official unions, several thousand citizens have applied for marriage licenses and a number of gay and lesbian weddings are being conducted as we speak. Both advocates and antagonists of gay marriage realize that now, for better or for worse, our country will never look the same. What was once theoretical has indeed become real.

The convergence of these two events on May 17th was designated by the Supreme Court Justices of our Commonwealth as a means of communicating to the homosexual community that what is true about our schools is now true about the institution of marriage, insofar as their unions will not be identified as separate, but equal to heterosexual marriage. For this reason, the date is incredibly significant for that community.

However, I believe that this date can be incredibly significant for the Christian community as well, insofar as it reminds us that while our government has established laws that resonate with biblical principles, consider the close connection between Brown and the Apostle Paul’s declaration that in Christ “the barrier of hostility has been broken down,” it has also established laws, as is the case here in the Commonwealth, that do not resonate with biblical teaching. As believers this should, at the very least, teach us that we should not be too euphoric when the government acts in step with biblical principle, nor should we completely despair when they repudiate such principle, for the truth is not determined and our hope does not reside in the legislation or judicial decision of our government, but in the Lord and the Kingdom over which He sovereignly rules. During this confusing and occasionally dark time, let us not make the mistake of equating God’s Kingdom with the republic in which we dwell, nor confound the “City of Man” with the “City of God.” Homosexual marriage is neither condemnation nor commentary upon the church, but is the free (and, from my perspective, rather poor) choice of the state. Therefore, we should not take up defensive positions, for the action of the state is not attacking the church nor is it intended to destroy “Christian marriage.” Rather, instead of weeping about the wound to our so-called “godly American heritage” we should work all the harder to develop Kingdom centered marriages that are marked by sacrificial love, mutual submission and, at their best moments, serve as a parable of Christ’s love for the church. It is only then, by faithfully living out the gift of marriage within the Kingdom of God, that we might begin to influence our culture’s evident misunderstanding of marriage. Instead of shaking our holy swords and screaming holy words at those outside the Kingdom, let our loving marriages serve as an ever-present illustration of what marriage can be.

I offer these reflections humbly and hope that they are received as such. If you would like to offer an alternative reflection or would like to engage in further dialogue about this issue, please do not hesitate to contact me.

May God bless His Kingdom and enable Christ’s church to subtly, but surely influence this country as leaven does a lump of dough.

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