Tuesday, October 21, 2008


1. (physics) the force of attraction between all masses in the universe; especially the attraction of the earth's mass for bodies near its surface;
"the more remote the body the less the gravity";
"the gravitation between two bodies is proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them";
"gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love"--Albert Einstein
gravity. Dictionary.com. WordNet® 3.0. Princeton University. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/gravity (accessed: October 21, 2008).

Since the Creator of the universe not only designed spiritual laws, but physical ones as well, it should not be surprising that there will be some similarities between them.
So, it seems completely logical to me that the strength of the gravitational pull between God and me involves:
1. the mass (size) of the two objects involved (me and God), and
2. how close they are to each other.

In other words, if at least one of the objects is large, it has a large gravitational attraction towards other things. And, if those two things start out fairly close together, they will be drawn even closer together by the power of the larger one.

If I need to spell it out even plainer: Even when I am far away from God, He draws me towards Himself. The closer I get to Him, the greater is His pull on me. If I want to be closer to God, part of it depends on me.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A treatise on the relative values of blogging vs. conversation

I feel like blogging about blogging. Talk about art imitating life imitating art....!
Blogging and keeping up with your favorite blogs is kind of like facebooking. It appears to be connecting, relating, keeping up with old friends.
But is it?
Miles wide, and an inch deep (or whatever metric equivalent you want to use.)
Pouring out the top couple layers of your soul, but not necessarily the really deep stuff.
Or, if you are prone to go deep, is it really a connection with other people? Is it the same as sitting down over a cup or glass of your favorite beverage, staring deep into each others' eyes, spilling your guts?
Or is it like visiting a psychiatrist—baring your soul to someone, but not really growing a relationship. More just tossing ideas into the air, and hoping someone will catch them.
Maybe that's part of my beef. Talking face to face with someone kind of forces them to respond in some way, even if it's an: “I don't really care about that.” or a “Sorry, not willing to go there right now.”
The whole blog/facebook/whatever doesn't really force a response. If you're lucky, someone reading it will feel strongly enough to comment, but at best that's a couple lines, and the conversation is probably over.
I guess true friendship is deeper than that. There's a level of accountability that calls for a gut level response, not just a couple lines to show that you are reading the guy's blog.
I think it's the conversation thing that is missing. The rapid-fire, not worrying about choosing the best word, let the chips fall where they may aspects of a conversation. The possibility of sticking your foot in your mouth, saying something you shouldn't, but will be forgiven for. The ability for true passion to be expressed. Anger, disagreement, or, on the other hand, the excited expressions of absolute agreement.
It's hard to show true passion in just words on a page or computer screen. It encourages the use of a thesaurus in order to truly express the thought, since your face and body language is absent, but it tends to be fairly impersonal.
Another part of the issue is that blogs etc. are for the masses, not just for one person sitting across the table from you. You can't tailor a blog entry for a specific person. It's good to have a 'sample' in your mind of your 'target demographic', but just listen to how impersonal that sounds compared to chatting over a cup of coffee in your favorite shop.

All of that being said, sometimes I like to blog! Something hits me, and it becomes a good excuse for putting the thoughts down on paper (or keyboard). Without the chance of an audience, I probably wouldn't get around to putting these thoughts down. They would be lost for all time, the symphony that was never written, the Mona Lisa that was never captured on canvas. OK, I realize that is a bit presumptuous, but I have to dream!

I guess I'm coming full circle. Seeing the value of impersonal entries on some form of social website, but really needing the face-to-face of an encounter over coffee.

Give me a call, we'll 'do' coffee! (You're buying!)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I was praying for a friend of mine, and thinking: “Lord, He's a cool guy, and it would be really good if ...” and then it washed over me like a ton of bricks. OK, like a tonne of bricks (the metric unit for something big and heavy). No, more like a tsunami, with water, not bricks because they don't flow very well. Anyway, you get the picture.
Here's what was so awesomely revealed in my human-sized brain. God doesn't answer our prayers based on how deserving we or the other person may be. He doesn't love us because of how wonderful we are. Nothing (and I mean nothing) comes to us from God based on our deserving of it.

Am I more loved by God because I am white? No
Does He think I rate extra blessings because I am Canadian? Nope.
Because I speak English?
I am of European descent?
I give change to people on the street?

Here's where it starts getting closer to home.
Does He love me more because I am a Christian? NO.
Because I pray right, believe right, live right? A thousand times NNOOOOO!!!

God loves me.
He loves you.
For God so loved the world.
That's why grace is sometimes defined as 'undeserved favor'. Because it is undeserved.
Thanks be to God.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Is church like oatmeal?

Is your past or present church experience kind of like eating oatmeal?
You know, that hot breakfast 'cereal of champions' that your Mother used to make every morning?
--that you wouldn't have willingly eaten, except your Mother made you eat it.
--that she told you was good for you, but you were never really convinced.
--that, like _________ brand of cereal “ Along with milk, fruit and orange juice was part of a nutritious breakfast” (Except that the breakfast would have been just as nutritious without the __________ brand cereal)
--that was kind of bland and tasteless by itself, and only started being enjoyable when she put raisins in it, or brown sugar on it.
--that you quit eating as soon as you moved away from home, and started eating stuff that was more fun.

Are your thoughts about your past church experience kind of like your thoughts about oatmeal?
Have you quit or become less faithful in your attendance in recent years?

Please don't think I am trying to lay a guilt trip. In the past few months I have been becoming more aware of this phenomenon, and would much rather see the church change from an institution to an organism, a place where there is life and joy, not drudgery and duty.

Guess what! You are not alone!

George Barna (The Barna Group) is a well-known student of the church. His group has done much research and analysis of religious trends in the US.
'Barna noted that the millions of young unchurched have no understanding of or interest in a church, even if it is "contemporary" in style. "Millions of young adults are more interested in truth, authenticity, experiences, relationships and spirituality than they are in laws, traditions, events, disciplines, institutions and religion. The confluence of preconceived notions, past experiences and evolving lifestyles and values means that existing churches simply cannot reach millions of today’s unchurched people. The rapidly swelling numbers of unchurched people may be forcing existing churches to reinvent their core spiritual practices while holding tightly to their core spiritual beliefs. It will take radically new settings and experiences to effectively introduce unchurched individuals to biblical principles and practices."'

Barna's research
shows that “more than three out of five (62%) unchurched adults consider themselves to be Christian. (2006), and 44% claim they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today. (2006)”

In other words, there are a large number of people by Barna's definition of unchurched (an adult (18 or older) who has not attended a Christian church service within the past six months, not including a holiday service (such as Easter or Christmas) or a special event at a church (such as a wedding or funeral).) who have a faith in Christ, but do not attend church.

A fellow blogger analyzed the US General Social Survey stats for 2000-2004 and came up with these church attendance percentages for those who consider themselves Christians:
Never, 10.4%
Yearly, 32.5%
Monthly, 19.1%
Weekly, 38.1%

Those statisticians who wonder if people accurately report things like church attendance have discovered that, particularly for those who consider themselves regular attenders, they say they were in church in the past seven days, even if they happened to actually not be there last week. Not in an effort to deceive, but in a desire to properly reflect the fact that they do consider themselves faithful. So, the reported percentages of regular attendance are probably over-reported, and even less people are actually in church. This appears to be supported by comparing church-reported statistics, and poll data.

If you expect that someone who says they go to church would be there fairly consistently, it's easy to see that perhaps 50% of people who identify themselves as Christians aren't regular church attenders (please remember that these are US numbers—overall Canadian church attendance is lower, but the ratios are probably similar).

Not only is all of this a telling description of the present state of society in general, and individuals in particular, but it also needs to aim us in the right direction. Not to try to entice people back to church with cuter programs, but to rethink the whole institution in a much deeper way.
What do we as Christ-followers really need to help us be better followers?
Is the impersonal 'Sunday morning fix' concept of church part of the reason many people don't bother going?
Does 'megachurch' miss the point of Acts 2:42 They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.

Perhaps it is better to hang out with a fellow Christian for coffee, play a round of golf together, or serve together in some tangible ministry project than to be just another 'pew warmer' on Sunday morning.

Maybe it's time to change the breakfast menu from oatmeal to something like steak and eggs or pancakes or fruit salad.

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