Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What the World Cup Reminds Me About Humanity

It’s Big.

It’s Loud.
People won’t quit talking about it.
Because it is annoying.

The vuvuzelas.
But you know what? I find them...charming (my wife hates them). The 2010 world cup will be remembered by these African horns. Sure they don’t stop. Sure they hinder communication between players. But hey, maybe that’s what distracted Robert Green during USA’s only goal against England.
Thank you vuvuzelas for that.

Which the vuvuzelas, by the way, have even found themselves in iPhone apps.
If you missed the game, check out the highlights, re-animated with LEGOS, here.
But the World Cup reminds me something central to humanity:
Our species is obsessed with the questions “Who is the best? And where do I fall in line?”
Countries from all over the world compete to see who is the best. And who isn’t. This past week, the traffic at passed the usually #1 website More people in the world want to know the highlights and lowlights of the Cup than checking their notifications.
All in search for, who is the best?
Last Cup, in 2006, I guess you could argue that Italy was. But I can’t, with confidence, say that. A 1-1 game that ended in a penalty shootout? With the head-butt red card holding back France. I still wonder who was the better team.
But this does reveal our humanity. In every walk of life, we compare.
We compare to find our worth.
A line.
We order ourselves in a line.
In our mind.
Some imaginary line, ordered by our own rules.
Some line that determines our self esteem and worth.
Some line that finds itself in every facet of life.
  • Grade school. The coolest and prettiest at the front, the least of these in the back.
  • American Idol. Who performs the best? More vote for the next American Idol than the next American President.
  • Where are they now? The people we competed with in college, how is their marriage, job, life?
  • Churches? How many people go? How good is the worship? Preaching? Who are they like?
Our career. Our grades. Our relationships. Our income. Our momentum in life. We secretly compare our lives with others.
Shane Claiborne once wrote, “As I read Scriptures about how the last will be first, I started wondering why I was working so hard to be first.”
Jesus said, “So the first will be last, and the last will be the first.” When he said that, Jesus destroyed the line.
In one story, Jesus showed us that you DO NOT find your worth by comparing yourself to others. You find your worth in him.
Paul later stated that,
“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves in Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:26-29)
When in Christ, you are one. Not just one person in a line.
So quit worrying about the line. It doesn't even exist.
And enjoy the matches of the LOUDEST World Cup in history.
In what area of life have you fallen in ‘the line’ and found your worth in comparing yourself?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Closer Glimpse of God's Heart

The first weekend of my freshman year of college (seven years ago and counting), I sat in our auditorium to hear a dude named Chuck Quinley. Chuck was a missionary from the Philippines. He specifically focused on church planting and leadership development. Three things I remember about the guy: he was bald, he was introverted, and he opened with the most heart-wrenching story I’ve ever heard.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Rise and Fall of Denominations. Sort of. (An Observation)

Denominations today mean less than they did years ago. It's a label from a different time. Starting from as far back as Luther's Reformation. But if you ask me, to use this classification now is hardly accurate. And I think that's a good thing.

Take for instance:

  • What does it mean to be Methodist? Not much, because more than any other denomination, Methodist has the widest theological spectrum from conservative to liberal beliefs.
  • What does it mean to be Baptist? Baptist can have traditional, contemporary or modern worship environments. Some are KJV only. Some women in ministry or not.
  • What does it mean to be Presbyterian? Depends, are you PCA or PC USA? Those are different from night and day.

Differences don't end in theology, but in practicality, worship styles, ties or no ties, and church building structures. If denomination labels doesn't mean much anymore, then is there an accurate way to classify different beliefs? I think so.

To quickly assess what someone believes, ask what authors they passionately read.

  • John Piper? You're probably dealing with a 4 or 5 point Calvinist.

  • Brian McLaren? Probably a liberal theologian.

  • Ed Young, Jr.? Either a creative or ADD thinker. Could be either. Or both.

  • John Bevere? Strong charismatic theology.

  • Charles Swindoll? Prefers a traditional environment.

  • Francis Chan? Probably frustrated with the status quo of Christianity.

  • Joel Osteen? *ahem* Leave your opinion about that one in the comments section.

Today, these authors and pastors are a better representation of the distinctly different categories of Christian thought. Chances are pretty good that I listed an author that has had a tremendous impact on you.

And then there are a few authors that are more widely accepted despite theological differences.

Andy Stanley, John Maxwell, Rick Warren, C.S. Lewis, etc.

Lastly, I need to mention that there is one great strength that denominations will always offer: networking. Denominations are fantastic to network with or raise support through. And I commend the network set-up to support members.

For better or for worse (I think for better) denomination titles are unimportant. Which is one reason why church plants choose to leave the denomination titles out of their name. And many older churches edit their current title, removing the denomination, yet keeping their affiliations.

My prayer is that it brings more respect and unity in the body of Christ. Read John 17 here. I'd like to focus less on what makes us different (variation of theology), and more on what makes us the same (submission to Christ).

Denominations have served a great role in the past, and for networking purposes, they are still quite beneficial.

For the record, I passionately read Philip Yancey.


Who do you read passionately? Did I list the author? Was it accurate about you?