The Story We Find Ourselves In

The Story We Find Ourselves In is a book by Brian D. McLaren, a progressive Christian writer. Recently I have read this book which is a fictional story that deals with science and the Biblical story in a way that some would find very blasphemous. I can imagine the quotes from Paul’s letter to Timothy 6:3-4, about strange teachings for those who would rebuke the story. Fear is an interesting thing. We are good at quoting the first half of the scripture and fail to recognize the part about the teaching being consistent with Godliness.

We all struggle in many ways, so this is one area I would say to do as scripture says and test the theology that is revealed in the story. While I can say I am not 100% sold on the entire writing as a theological truth, it is filled with much that I find consistent with the Biblical narrative and the teachings of Christ.

I feel I am in good company, but do not want to claim this as all my teachings, as I have heard this theme from much of the writings I have been reading from people like Dallas Willard, Richard Rohr, N.T. Wright, Phyllis Tickle, Diana Butler Bass, Brian McLaren, and others. There were also a few others who have challenged the status quo understanding of scripture such as Martin Luther and John Wesley. Neither would say their work was to intentionally start a new movement, but to help people live out the calling of Christ in their lives. Out of their faithfulness to their calling movements were born.

What is most important about our understanding of the way of the world?

Living in the Kingdom NOW

Last Sunday, August 10, in Parker, AZ I began to roll out a sermon series, “Living in the Kingdom NOW!” with the opening message ‘The Whole Enchilada’. The scriptures used were Psalm 1 and Matthew 5-7. The thoughts that have brought me to this series stem from a number of the late Dallas Willard’s writings and my thoughts as I reflect on his thoughts and the scriptures he used. To say Dallas’ writings have made an impact would be an understatement. Here is a link to that message http://youtu.be/AtHkDHx1S4k One challenge I have in posting this is Blythe Community United Methodist Church will be seeing this message in worship this Sunday.

The first of his works I went through is Living in Christ’s Presence, which is a seminar he and John Ortberg offered in February 2013. Dallas’s writings are so well crafted. They never answer a question directly, but lead the reader to a place where they can think through his thoughts. I had to ask myself if I liked the writings because they seemed to line up with my beliefs. To which I would have to answer yes and no. Yes, there were some threads in his writings that I had been thinking and trying to live out. No, because he has gone so much deeper into the realities of those thoughts. In other words, at least on the ‘no’ side, what I was beginning to think were like little seeds I had been planting and I walked into his garden and was able to see how short my thoughts had come.

As we go forward on this journey I invite you to use the comment section to respond with your thoughts. I know I am right about some things and wrong about others, it is just difficult at times to discern which is which.

I look forward to the discussions that will be coming out of this series so please don’t hold back your thoughts.

 

Shalom Y’all

Pastor George

 

Personality Types

There are many personality types in this world. We can look at these factors and see how diverse the people of God are. There are two primary testing batteries that I find helpful. First is the standard Myers-Briggs personality test and the second I use is called the enneagram. Have you ever taken one of these tests before? Most people have at one time or another taken some form of the Myers-Briggs. The Enneagram is less known universally. When I was going through my CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) classes I introduced the Enneagram to the leader of the class. She took a bit of time to research it and did not like it because it not only told you what makes you tick, but also what areas you will struggle with. The particular review she read called the struggle areas your ‘Sin Potential’. I can understand why someone would not want to think of their shortcomings in this manner, but I find it to be a useful tool to inform a person of where they will struggle, because when you know where you will fall short it is easier to overcome and turn the negative into the positive.

In the Needles Focus Group last night the question came up as to how we would determine who would be the leaders from the various campuses. I will admit I had not completely thought that through. This would be a decision I would leave to each campus to a certain extent. Sometimes until we are faced with a specific question it may not have even crossed our minds. This is one I had thought about to a certain extent, but not enough to be able to answer the specific question about it. In my mind the leaders have a tendency to rise out of the crowd. So what would the criteria be for a leader?

One key element will be someone who has bought fully into the vision. Someone that sees the vision as a place we are headed, enough to disagree when their gut is telling them not to go down a certain path, yet open enough to engage in a dialogue concerning the challenges and not just agree because that is the ‘easy’ thing to do. Unity not uniformity will be the result. The difference is that we will not all think and agree alike, you may have heard it this way, the ability to agree to disagree about a subject. When it comes down to a vote over an issue that leader will accept the majority vote and not turn from there to sabotage the efforts.

I believe as the leaders are elected it will be important for them to complete both of these personality type batteries and be willing to be vulnerable to those results and therefore accountable to the leadership team.

I am going to go first here, and eventually with that group of leaders. My Myers-Briggs type is an INFP. When we understand how we are wired, our decisions and reactions will be understood more fully. It will help us all to work around and through the annoying habits we may see in others; or in this case it could help you understand what I go through to come to the conclusions I have and why I think this is the best opportunity for all three congregations.For those also checking on the Enneagram I am a 7.

Here is what I have discovered about me and the how and why I do what I do. I am seen sometimes as a rebel or at least often feel rules are confining, I am very flexible, until my core values are violated. I tend to be a bit reserved and value deep, authentic relationships that allow for mutual growth. I am open minded, insightful, idealistic who wants the work I do to matter, drawing people to a common purpose. These are the good parts. I have some areas I need to work on, and I have been working on these for quite a while. Things such as speaking the compliments I see in others. I see a lot of things I like about people, I am not always good at telling them I see their admirable qualities and work ethic. I am working on it!! I am also working on not being critical of others when they do things that seem illogical to me.

From the Enneagram side, being a seven points to me always looking for the new and innovative approach to what I do. My ‘sin’ is that what I have done before, I am over it and ready to move on to the next thing even when I am not finished with what I am currently doing or experiencing.

I would welcome any insights you have about me from the time we have spent together so far. I want so much FOR each of these congregations. Anything I can do to help be a better leader and bring out the leadership qualities God has given each of us is a beautiful thing.

Questions from this last Sunday

So, check out March 23 message at http://youtu.be/tcAwjaU5ek4 or at Parkerumc.us 

Here are this weeks questions to ponder…

Who does God want to meet through us?

How is God leading us to meet them AND share God’s Transformational love with them?

If we are the woman at the well who has met Jesus, who are we going to go back and tell? Jesus met the folks from the town because the woman went back to tell them of all Jesus had told her. Jesus wants to meet people through the encounter we have had.

Nobody has any questions?

I find it interesting that there are not that many people looking at, commenting, or asking questions. Is it a sign that there are not that many who really care? Is it that folks don’t feel like their input would make any difference? Or maybe everyone who reads this has agreed to everything I have said.

What would you do if you were trying to lead something and you were not receiving feedback on your thoughts?

From or For

If you were in church this morning you already heard, or at least were exposed to this message http://youtu.be/RheehsilDWI

The premise from it would hopefully get us thinking about what God wants for the us as individuals as well as for us as a church, and hopefully that line of thinking would be carried on to what God wants for the very communities we are living in.

I think when we discover that God wants something so much greater than any sort of check list of accomplishments. God wants us to experience life in love in many ways beyond what we could imagine. It is not just heaven when we die, but a peace that passes all understanding. In John 13-17 is what has come to be known as the Upper Room Discourse. In this Jesus starts by washing feet and then begins explaining what he has done for the disciples. Next is what he is doing next for them, I am going away so that the Father can send you the Holy Spirit. John 16:12, “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” That is an interesting statement for Jesus to make after telling the disciples that the Holy Spirit would remind them of the things Jesus predicted would happen, so they would say, ‘Oh yeah, Jesus did say that.’

Many that I have been talking to about becoming one church in three locations have been having a hard time grasping this idea. Some do not see what real difference it will make, while to others the idea is so far out of their experience they are afraid of what it might do to the church. No one in Needles, Blythe, or Parker has ever done anything like this (to our knowledge).

Here is the most honest statement I can make about this whole plan. I am trying to get all three of these churches to go somewhere NONE of us have been. That’s right, I have not been where I am trying to lead us. But lets think about this for a moment. For you sports fans you will likely like this, for others, imagine as best as you can. You are in the biggest game of your life, the Super Bowl. Your team is behind by 6 points, there are two minutes left in the game and it is fourth down and 8. You are the quarterback and have to make the call. What do you do? Punt? not a good option for many reasons. You have to go for it. So you gather everyone in the huddle, what play are you going to call? I would hope that you would call the play that you feel is going to get you at least 8 yards. Is there any certainty that you will be successful? Absolutely not!! There are too many unknown factors for 100% certainty. So do you quit the game? I would certainly hope not. You call the play that the people you are surrounded with (those who are in the huddle) are most likely to succeed with.

What God wants for us as a church is far greater than the coach of that football team. God wants us to win. So I am working on clarifying the play I am trying to call, because in my mind it is the best opportunity for us to be successful as a church in the long run. Will the road getting there be bumpy? It already has been, and it will be.

I thought about posting here the game plans for each congregation, but I am hesitant in airing each churches laundry, maybe even to a fault as I have been in multi-point charges all of my pastoral career and I cringe when we start comparing what each other is doing.

The basic plan for all three congregations is to form small groups in each community where the main teaching and missional work is done, and each group completes a task or study. Part of these studies we will be embarking on will be designed toward spiritual growth and putting our faith into action. There will also be times when we go to community events and spread the love of Christ.

Many of the scary parts will disappear as we move forward as Christ is calling us to. I believe at the very heart of the Gospel is a transforming love that can be known and felt in real ways in each of the congregations, which is why to me ‘Creating a place where the transforming love of God is made real’ is what we should focus on. Please use the comments section to add your thoughts and questions. Many likely have the same questions as you!!!