Monthly Archives: September 2009

A Piece Of The Puzzle Is Missing

 

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I rarely go to church these days.  It all started about three years ago when several things happened within a short period of time.  Between dealing with some real life situations that made me begin to question a lot of what the Evangelical Christian Church typically taught and moving to a new community, I stopped going to church. 

It didn’t happen all at once.  At first I slowed down on the things I participated in.  I had taught Bible Studies for years and I stopped teaching mainly because of the questions and doubts I was dealing with.  I also scaled back on a lot of participation in other areas.  If the program wasn’t missional in nature or for the purpose of creating community I eliminated it from my roster (there were a few exceptions, but not many).  Then we moved to a new community and although we visited churches for almost two years (several for 2 or 3 months) I never got connected.  So, for the last year I have attended church very rarely.

This is unusual for me because I was one of those people that went to church “every time the doors were opened” and volunteered/served a LOT.  It seemed that when I started to scale back on some of the things I volunteered for I discovered that many (to be honest, it was probably most) of my relationships at church fizzled out – which led me to think that the relationships were sort of superficial and based more on activities than actual relating.  That was sad.

I miss the way things used to be and yet the way things used to be doesn’t work for me anymore.

The closest anything came to working for me in the last couple of years was a small group (about 10 ppl) that met every other week.  We did some service projects together, some fun things, read books and discussed them, studied scripture and prayed together, and talked with one another about our lives, faith, families, hobbies, relationships – really everything and anything.  But after a couple of years the group stopped meeting because two or three of the couples broke off from the group for various reasons.  This group had grown out of a Sunday morning Bible class from the church we had attended for years.  We continued to drive the 50 mile roundtrip every other week to meet with the group just because it was such a good fit for my husband and I, but living as far away as we did we didn’t want to start trying out other small groups at that church.  We haven’t found anything similar in the community where we now live.

There are still a few churches that I am interested in visiting but it seems that the ones that I am drawn to don’t have any teens at all and I would like my teenage son to have some peers to connect with.

It’s an odd time.  I mourn for what I have lost even though what I lost is still there.  I’ve changed and that means I don’t fit in anymore.  It’s sad.

At the same time I enjoy sleeping in a little on Sundays (which I hadn’t done since I was in my twenties) and having both Saturday and Sunday to run errands, clean house, do the laundry – it seems to make the whole weekend more leisurely.  I like the extra time that our family has together during the week when we used to be all going in a lot of different directions due to all the church activities we were involved with.  But…I feel like a piece of the puzzle is missing.

Can anyone else relate?

#myPremium – Show America What This Is Costing Us

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@Shoq on twitter started the hashtag #myPremium asking the twitterverse to:    “TWEET YOUR PREMIUM COST to #myPremium – Show America what this is costing us”   Here’s a sample of some of the tweets:

From Canada and British Columbia:

 AureliaCotta: 2 adults, 3 kids pay $0 for free health care in Canada. We’d be uninsurable in the US. #myPremium (via @Shoq)

 @Shoq My premium cost? $108 / month for a family of 4. 0$ deductible. 0$ co-pay. No recision. No PECs. Living in Canada though. 🙂

 @Hoptoad4 My insurance company is the British Columbia provincial health care plan. Government insurance is the best insurance. #mypremium

 HaidaPrincess: @Shoq holy smokes. I’m Canadian. Holy Smokes. I pay nothing and get everything. It’s unbelievable the cost u guys pay. #MyPremium #p2

 slackadjuster: RT @AlphabetSalad: $96/month for me/my husband. Complete coverage, no deductible, no co-pay (er, what’s a co-pay?). I’m in Canada #MyPremium

 From those who have no health insurance:

 faboomama: My family of 4 does not have health insurance because we can’t afford it & 2 of us can’t get covered: http://bit.ly/fNwT1 #myPremium

 blondetwit: #myPremium I don’t have one. No one will cover me 😦

 dotlizard: RT @faboomama My family of 4 doesn’t have hlth ins b/c we can’t afford it & 2 of us can’t get covered: http://bit.ly/fNwT1 #myPremium

  From those whose premiums keep going up and up and up:

 trianglman: My premium has increased 7% a year for five years, my pay has only increased 2-3%. Now 12% of my income goes to insurance #myPremium

 jillosopher: #MyPremium is up 38% in one yr. 2 adults. Our portion is $2400/yr (employer’s $9600.) copays up. I now pay $320/mo for Rxes. Was $40/mo.

 From those who pay too much and get too little:

 atlantalily1: @Shoq #myPremium $305, monthly Rx drugs cost +$350.

 murphysblues: #mypremium – to repeat (and correct): I pay just under $300/mo. for an indiv. plan w/a $5k deductible – gd. health care? Puhleese!

 ceut: .#mypremium I pay $250/mon w/ high co-pays. Employer, a non-profit, pays more than $5K/mo for 5 employees. HCR bill will force us to keep it

 JohnAmussen: So #myPremium is $435/mo w/a $2500 deductible & no dental/vision. This replaces a plan w/ $500 deductible at $957/mo.

 Aew1: #myPremium $478 monthly with $3000 deductible (per person) Regence Blueshield sucks! but so do the other individ ins. options WA state

 Telly222: RT @Shoq I pay over $320 a month for a crappy 80/20 plan with $1500 deductible. Such a deal! #MyPremium #p2 #hcr #publicOption

 From those whose premiums are outrageously high:

 Shannon_Ahern: I pay almost $1K/mo 4 BlueShield PPO (so we can KEEP R dr!) w/2K annual deductbl EACH&co-pays on ALL visits. #MyPremium #p2 (pls tag yours)

 mttsm: #mypremium $1200 a month. family of 8. Copays $25 and $50, medication costs for asthmatic kids $500 a month

 kristiewells: .@queenofspain @shoq: Me+Hubby (aged 41 & 40). No kids. Healthy. Independent consultants. $760/mo on HMO (incl vision+dental). #myPremium

 thewvp: #myPremium Family of 4. Full coverage+Life Insurance=$10,492.08 Annually.

 VDog: @QueenofSpain Since the huz just went self-employed our COBRA will be $1225/mo for huz, me, son – NO vision/dental #myPremium

 Pat120: #myPremium Just under $25,000/yr for three of us, family plan – self-employed

 janelane: #myPremium// $965 mo. 1 person. Was over $1000 mo so increased ded. to $5000.

 paulaivins: @Shoq $1800 mo for family, $2k ded, 10 to 20k in debt to hospital. increase every yr in Dec due to son’s leukemia #myPremium

What makes a church a church?

churchThere’s been a lot of talk lately about whether online churches qualify as real churches and even whether they are more harmful than helpful.  Many people say that a church cannot be a church unless people are gathering together in person, face to face.   Some say that online churches aren’t biblical – that in order for a church to exist it must include certain elements, such as preaching, sacraments and discipline.

It got me to thinking … what makes a church a church?

Is it the music, the preaching, the tradition, the tax exempt status, the sacraments, the programs, the elders, the building, the stain glassed windows??? 

To begin, I did a little research on the church and found that the word “church” has an interesting history.

The Greek term “ekklesia” is normally translated by the English word “church” in the New Testament. I knew that bit of information, but what I did not know is that the English word “church” did NOT originate from the word “ekklesia” or from the concept of the “ekklesia” expressed in the NT.  “Ekklesia”, a commonly used word in NT times, referred to a group of people gathering or an assembly of people.  Instead, the English word “church” originated from a Greek word that is used twice (Cor 11:20 and Rev 1:10) in the NT – the Greek word is “kuriakos”, which means “belonging to the Lord.”

What I found even more interesting is that Jesus only used the word “ekklesia” twice, never used the word “kuriakos” but spoke of the Kingdom of God/Heaven over one hundred times.

Anyway, at some point, the place where believers met together started to be called “kuriakon” or “the Lord’s house,” which is the neuter version of “kuriakos”. This word made its way into German (Kirche), Anglo Saxon (circe), and Middle English (chirche). When Luther translated the New Testament into German, he did not use the word “Kirche” to translate “ekklesia”, instead he used the German word “gemeinde”, which means something similar to the English word community. And when Tyndale translated the New Testament into English in 1536, he also did not use the word “church” to translate the Greek word “ekklesia”.  Instead, he used the word “congregacion”. But over the next century all English translations started translating “ekklesia” by using “church”.

Does all of this matter?  I think it does because when I began to substitute the words “gathering” and “congregation” and “community” and “assembly” for the word “church” I began to get a picture that the church is more about people who were connected together through a supernatural kinship and that all their resources and abilities were meant to be used to produce a continuation of the life and activity of Christ himself – instead of an event that is required to include certain traditions or practices.

So, the question was…what makes a church a church?  I think the answer is a group of people who gather together in the name of Christ, through the power of Christ, for the purpose of being Christ.  And IMHO it seems that could take a lot of different forms – even the form of an online church.

What do you think?

(Now – having said all that I think there are better ways to do church – maybe I will write a post about that soon)

Amazing Fan Participation Music Video

This music video is so super fun. Japanese band Sour  (btw – I love their music) shot Hibi no Neir’ (Tone of Everyday) using a cast from their actual fan base which includes different people from all over the world. Each person and scene was filmed purely from webcam. “Hibi no Neir” is from Sour’s first mini album ‘Water Flavor EP.’ Enjoy!

Take A Flying Leap

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Sometimes I wonder how people take some of the leaps that I witness. 

For instance, a friend on facebook was talking about someone who said “God wants to strike her dead because she castrated him by supporting gender inclusive bibles.”  And recently someone said they didn’t understand how I could call myself a Christian if I thought feeding the homeless was as important as sharing the gospel (I didn’t even get into the discussion with her about how I probably didn’t share her definition of “the gospel”).  But the most unbelievable leap I have witnessed lately is this one:

Many conservatives are complaining that President Obama’s upcoming September 8 speech (which will be televised and presented during school to all elementary students) about “persisting and succeeding in school,” along with classroom activities about the “importance of education,” will “indoctrinate” and “brainwash” their children. Conservatives have compared Obama’s address to Chinese communism and the Hitler Youth, while also calling for parents to “keep your kids home” from the “fascist in chief.”

It makes you want to say “go take a flying leap” – but it looks like they already have!

The First Thirty Pages Of Don Miller’s New Book : A Million Miles In A Thousand Years

The first thirty pages of Don’s book is available for free and you can read them right here on my blog at the end of this post.

Full of beautiful, heart-wrenching, and hilarious stories, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years details one man’s opportunity to edit his life as if he were a character in a movie.

If someone tells you they’ve read this book and they “enjoyed it” or they “liked it” or they think it’s a “good hook” then maybe they didn’t read it – it’s well written and funny and interesting and all that, but it’s also disturbing. Really, really disturbing. Don is into provocative territory here, wrestling with The Story and the role each our stories play in it . . . this is very convicting, powerful, unsettling writing. I felt like this book read me more than I read it. —Rob Bell, author of Velvet Elvis

In the first few chapters of Don’s new book, Don got me thinking about Don and his interesting life. Then for several chapters, he got me thinking about my own life. And then for the rest of the book, I couldn’t help but think about God and other people and the kind of future we’re creating together. That sounds like solid evidence that this uniquely talented and sagely writer/thinker/storyteller has given us another wonderful and life-enriching reading experience. —Brian McLaren, Author, Speaker, Activist, brianmclaren.net

You can preorder the book here, follow him on twitter @donmilleris, find out about his tour dates here, and read his blog here.

God Is Always Needing To Be Born

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What is the good if Mary gave birth to

the son of God two thousand years ago

if I do not give birth to the son of God

today?

 

We are all meant to be mothers of God

– God is always needing to be born.

                                                     –   Meister Eckhart