i.see.you

OK. So, Avatar (the movie) is long out of the “new and exciting phase.” That means I can write a post about it without being on the bandwagon. Yay!

Beyond the cool technological magic (and in spite of the socio-political muck), I really enjoyed experiencing the movie. A lot of things spoke to me. Things like: the idea of a mutually dependent community that was not afraid to fight for its survival, and the whole tree of life thing (even though I chose to view it as an image of God, not “mother nature”). Maybe I’ll blog on those ideas later, but I want to focus on the one thing that gave me the most inspiration.

Every culture has a way of greeting one another. The Japanese bow. The French Kiss. Americans shake hands. The Na’vi of Pandora look eye to eye and say, “I see you.”

“I see you” is not an acknowledgment of being able to physically see one another. It is deeper than that. It says, “I see the person you are” or “I see the soul behind the clay vessel.” As the hero character comes to identify and empathize with the Na’vi, he learns the depth and profoundness of the greeting. “I see you,” he says to a native he comes to care deeply for. The meaning is known and understood. It is a profound moment of deep connection.

Revelation 1:17 is my favorite verse in the whole bible.

Jesus had a mission to accomplish – he had a message to send, and he needed John to pass it on. He appeared to John in all his glorified splendor (Revelation 1:13-16).  According to the first part of verse 17, it scared John, and he fainted. But the second part of the verse is what grips my heart and cause it to turn in my chest.

In the middle of this great work, in the middle of this important mission – Jesus stopped what he was doing,  reached down, touched John on the shoulder and said, “hey buddy, it’s just me, don’t be afraid.” The magnificent God of the universe, the word as flesh, stops everything, pauses his great work – and comforts John – connects with him – says, “I see you.”

– God, thank you for seeing me as worth your time – worth stopping everything for. Help me to see the people I encounter through that same love.

earn.this

I love to watch movies, especially war movies. I did not serve, but come from a long line of soldiers, including my dad. I am always amazed and deeply moved by the lengths men will go to protect one another. Men, who did not know one another before being thrust into battle with one another, will give their lives for one another and deeply mourn when one of their “buddies” dies.

One of my favorite war movies is “Saving Private Ryan”, the story of a small band of soldiers who reluctantly follow orders to find and extract the single survivor of 4 brothers – the other three brothers were killed in action. They find the remaining brother and enter into a suicidal mission to hold a bridge before they can return with him. In the end, almost all of the band of rescuers dies. In a riveting scene, the squad leader forces his final words through his final breaths. He says to Private Ryan, “Earn this.”

The crazy thing about God’s grace and mercy is that it was given before I deserved it. Like those soldiers, Jesus gave his life for me in advance of my reaction to it. I did not, and cannot “earn” (in any way) what he willingly did for me. He gave himself freely and I do not deserve the gift. Besides, can you “earn” something that was already given?

Yet, I am compelled to try to live up to the gift. Not to try to merit the gift, but to try to do my best to make sure that (for my life) it was not a gift in vain.

Regarding this merciful gift, David Crowder, in the song “Surely We Can Change” says:

And the problem is this:
We were bought with a kiss
But the cheek still turned
Even when it wasn’t hit.

And I don’t know
What to do with a love like that
And I don’t know
How to be a love like that.

So, what do we do with it? What do we do with that love?

“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” (Luke 7:47)

The song goes on to say:

And all the love in the world
Is right here among us
And hatred too
So we must choose
What our hands will do

Where there is pain
Let there be grace
Where there is suffering
Bring serenity
For those afraid
Help them be brave
Where there is misery
Bring expectancy

And surely we can change
Surely we can change
Something

What can I do? Love God, love one another, and pass it on.

In His grip,

Pastor Herb

the.middle.way

“Via Media” – the middle way. It is a term used by John Wesley. Between two extremes, there lies a middle way. Not a compromise, per se – but an intentional meeting of the minds – a reconciliation of ideas.

In his time, the via media was a way to seek restoration between the status quo and a reactionary revolution called “The Reformation”. Catholicism was, at one time, the only game in Jesus Town. But, as people used the gospel as a hammer to exploit people and pursue a political agenda, Martin Luther stood up in reaction to these corruptions and birthed “The Reformation”. The reformation was a reaction to the corruption of Catholicism. The problem is that it threw the baby out with the bath water. By the time John Wesley came around the battle lines were strongly drawn – and quite polarized. He wanted Anglicanism, the primary reformists haven of the time, to pursue a “via media”.

The “via media” is not compromise. It is a synergistic approach that requires honest reflection on the polar positions. It says, “hey, I sill believe what I believe, but perhaps I’ve been too hyperbolic.” To pursue a judgment on the question of who is right and who is wrong is, well, the wrong way to go about things. It will debase the conversation, turning it into a match of proof quoting prowess – the one who can quote the most wins. The real pursuit should be, “We both have incredible scriptural support, so how can we learn from each perspective and arrive at what must be the truth” – encompassing both viewpoints in beautiful harmony. “Via media” is not compromise because the result is greater than its former parts.

If Wesley were alive today, where would his pursuit of “via media” be?

Would it be between compassionate ministries and social justice? The latter is a reaction to perceived inadequacies of the former.

Would it be between the traditional church and the emergent church? The latter is a reaction to perceived inadequacies of the former.

I think it would be both. He would seek “via media” in all that divides the church. While he was dealing with the issues between Catholicism and the Reformists, he was also dealing with his doctrine of Holiness and his allegiance to Anglicanism.

Every revolution begins with a status quo, resulting in a reaction. Eventually the dust settles and we discover “via media”. The via media is not a war between two ideas, but a convergence into a greater idea from both.

What would happen if we, who call ourselves the Bride of Christ, chose to pursue a life of “via media” rather than seeking a pole to which we can chain ourselves?

superpowers.for.an.hour

When I was young, I imagined being a superhero. My favorite was Batman because he was just a regular guy, with no superpowers – he just had a heart for the weak and vulnerable – I could be Batman.

Sometimes, however, I wished that I was Superman. He has all kinds of superpowers – invincibility, x-ray vision, super strength, super speed – and, he can fly!

I’ve had a terrible dream – a recurring one. Sometimes it comes in the night, and sometimes like a day-dream. This dream only lasts a moment, but in that moment I see a snapshot of every ounce of brokenness that exists in the entire world – all at once – all in that single moment.

This morning the dream took a surreal turn as it occupied in that weird place where you are awake but still sleeping – you know what I mean. It was hard to know if the experience was real or just a dream.

“I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he” (Deut. 32:3-4)

Yet, people went to bed hungry last night. Children were exploited. Sickness overcame life. Justice was denied to some. Lives were taken. Peace was refused. Marriages were trampled. Friendships were abused. Jobs were lost – and so much more.

None of it was His fault – but tragic all the same. I believe that God’s choice is restoration and reconciliation – we are the one’s who choose otherwise.

What would you do with God’s power for an hour?

seeing.the.future

I am tech-junkie. One of the things I get the most creative satisfaction from is leveraging technology for ministry. I especially thrive on forcing the most utility from the least expensive options (as “free” as possible)! Because of this fascination I have always been somewhat of a “futurist” – not in a prophetic way, but with a playable wonder at what things could be like. As a church planter trying to figure out how to get Jesus Christ’s message to the generations just coming into age, I feel like I have to have my ear to the ground concerning technology.

At Thrive Church we are currently squeezing the turnips trying to develop an internet campus as “free” as possible. it is challenging but awesome when things get clicking. One of my “big issues” with trying to be frugal is that we are, to a large degree, restrained on our ability to provide mobile access. I firmly believe that mobile access is vital but we just can’t swing the finances to make that happen. My desire to provide mobile access is fueled, in large part, to what I see as the next “movement” in technology – a movement that is already underway. My iPhone and my iPad are ever-present reminders that we need to continue to push towards mobile access.

I’ve been following D8, catching the video interviews with technology leaders. Jon, over at ChurchDrop, posted about a video that I hadn’t yet seen featuring Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s view on trends in personal computing. The following is a comment I made about the video (editing some).

He (Steve Ballmer) is right. Of course, he can’t help but to market Windows as he makes a good projection. Ignore the Windows specific rhetoric, and what we are left with are two ideas:

1 – There will always be a need for a more generalized (more powerful / capable) appliance, a personal computing device – which will certainly change form factor as time and technology progress.

2 – Even so, people are still going to want, increasingly so, a smaller, pocket-sized device, and they are going to expect more and more from that device as time and technology progress.

I thought it telling that he was willing (correctly so) to “categorize” the iPad as a personal computing device, but he was also right when he joked about the level of productivity currently possible on such a device.

I love my iPad – it is an AMAZING device for *consuming* media (images, audio, video *and* documents). But, I am fighting a frustrating battle forcing it to produce / create that media. You can produce / create, but it is not as easy as using a device with more precise and controllable input methods.

Still, I consider the iPad the parent of a new stage in “pc” evolution. There is still a lot of room for improvement as it matures – at which point the “input” issues will be overcome and the form factor will finally be great at production / creation.

Personally, I believe that the next evolution will obscure the OS to a point where it will be invisible to the user and not at all a factor in using the device. “Applications” as we know them won’t really exist. The device (which you probably won’t ever “see”) will borrow the tools needed to “create” from a global knowledge base, fashioning your creation behind the scenes in response to your creative instruction, a la the Iron Man movies’ Jarvis.

Of course, I can’t tell the future, so take this as an amateur’s opinion. But, it sure is fun thinking about it.