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Monthly Archives: February 2006

You have to see this video to believe it, and that is the point. We as adults put constraints on everything…we don’t dare to imagine the unimaginable. We don’t dare let God work miracles, that is for the Old Testament. In this video, we get a glimpse of a God through whom ALL things are possible. What if we let go and dared to trust in Him?

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We went to an interactive parents event last night at UA Church. It was short, fun, and not too “churchy” with one central point…that we need to pray with our children. We talked about how most people (if they pray at all) will do so at dinner and maybe at bedtime. But, even then it seems to be kind of “pedestrian” most of the time.(I found this blog by Greg Taylor with some cool solutions to this issue.)

So, we agreed to find a time during the day when we could come together as a family to pray and wrote it down on a card with the following quote…”You can’t talk to your kids about God until you talk to God with your kids.” Our kids are no different than anyone else we encounter with the story of God. They will not find it valid, or relevant unless they see God’s story lived in us and we can’t truly be a part of His story unless we are willing to share our lives with Him. Naturally, our children are a HUGE part of our lives and therefore in our walk with God they are important to Him…even more important to Him than to us. Think about that one…you think you care about your kids? We can’t begin to fathom what they mean to God…

I first read his book “The Art of the Start” last year and became intrigued by his theories on building community. He was a product evangelist at Apple, and I’m a big Apple fan. But, I think his theories can apply for anything from business, to churches, to any community interested in seriously and earnestly serving each other. Here is a link to a blog he just published The Art of Creating a Community and here is a link to somebody who applied his theories to the church here.
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In an effort to get a more dedicated readership on this blog, I’m giving away FREE “HOPE” shirts to anybody that send me an email at carl@simplegestures.org and asks to be signed up as a member on this site. Allyson is modeling a version of the shirt below. You may not be as cute as she is, but hey it is a FREE shirt. So, send me an email with your address and your shirt size. And, don’t forget to tell your friends…

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I’m not a theologian, just a passionate follower of Christ. I try to look at everything through the lenses of what Christ would have me do, be, and say. Do I get it right all the time? No. Do I get it right most of the time? No. But, I’m getting a little better everyday because of the His Spirit that lives in me.

So, when I read about criticisms of the church…any church, I get a little sad because we are to be the church “little c” universal. The church catholic…the belief that all Christians are part of one Church, regardless of denominational divisions. This “universal” interpretation is often used to understand the phrase “one holy catholic and apostolic Church” in the Nicene Creed, the phrase “the catholic faith” in the Athanasian Creed, and the phrase “holy catholic church” in the Apostles’ Creed. It can mean the one Church founded by Christ through Peter the Apostle, according to Matthew 16:18-19: “And I tell you, you are Cephas (which means rock), and on this rock I will build my Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’”

Therefore, if you read the link from Andrew Jones in response to the criticisms of the “emerging” church Letter to the Emerging Church try to do so without the preconceived notions of any denominational background you are from. What does it say to you? What does Christ beckon us to do? I am a member of the church of Christ…I love the heritage of the movement and what the original intent of the movement was about. Sounds very much like the emerging movement to me. Notice, I’m repeating movement…it is about taking people who do not know Christ into a relationship with God through Christ, as well as a relationship with others in the church to help them grow together in Christ. Wouldn’t you like to be a part of a movement like that?
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My wife didn’t like the post on how to setup a blog reader, so I’m supposed to say something profound in my next post to make up for it. So, I’ll have to think about that one…

In the meantime, I’ll borrow from Gerald (her dad) a quote from a conversation last night, “You’ll have good neighbors, when you expect you’ll have good neighbors.” He’s right, it’s all about your attitude and how you see your fellow man, and your ability to love as God loves. When we follow Christ, we have no other choice, and if we ignore the whispers of the spirit of God that nudges us to do what is right we’ll miss the blessings of a life lived for others and for God.
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I was asking Lane last night if she has an easy way to keep track of the different blogs she reads instead of trying to remember all the sites or saving them to bookmarks and then having to go to each one to see if they have been updated. I would bet that most of you don’t have an easy way to read your favorite blogs, so here is a little tutorial.

Step 1: Find a free RSS Reader. Here are 3 that you just signup for online and then setup like you want. It takes a little work in the beginning, but once they are set it is easy to keep your reading organized.
So, here they are:
http://www.rojo.com
http://www.bloglines.com

If you want one that will run on your desktop, which means you have to install it on your computer instead of using a website login.
Try one of the following:
For Windows users: http://www.pluck.com/products/rss-reader.html (Actually Pluck has a desktop and a web version.
For Mac users: http://ranchero.com/netnewswire/

Step 2: After you have registered for an account, find the instructions to allow you to add blogs/feeds to your reader. Most of the time to find the feed just right click on the little RSS icon or the XML icon and then copy the shortcut and paste it in.

OR

This is the main point of this blog, if you can convince the author of the blog to create little links on the blog like you see on the right side of this blog, it makes it a painless process. You just click on the link that corresponds to the blog/feed reader you are using it will automatically add it for you. So, for example if you use ROJO, just click on the link to the right that says ROJO.

Step 3: Add the link to your favorite blog/feed reader or make it your default home page and you will automatically be notified when a new post has been made to the blog.
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Below is a partial transcript of the speech Bono of U2 gave to the National Prayer Meeting in Feb 2006. What I find amazing is that we in the “Christian community”, you know, the people that go to church each Sunday are reluctant to see the wisdom in following Christ as a rebel, as a passionate believer, as a rock star? I don’t dwell on politics, I desire to follow Christ! Why do we refuse to walk in the shadows of God who was here on earth, and embrace His Spirit that lives within Us? Are we not truly His? I know Bono has a political agenda, but when you carefully read what his cause is all about, it’s about helping the least of these. If we truly follow Christ and are to be His hands, His feet in this earthly kingdom, maybe we should rethink where part of our money goes? Maybe, we could even get involved on a personal basis in the troubles of a continent so far away, yet so close in His kingdom.

Here is the video…

Here is a portion of the transcript below (bold is mine for emphasis)…

Well, I’m the first to admit that there’s something unnatural… something unseemly… about rock stars mounting the pulpit and preaching at presidents, and then disappearing to their villas in the South of France. Talk about a fish out of water. It was weird enough when Jesse Helms showed up at a U2 concert… but this is really weird, isn’t it?

You know, one of the things I love about this country is its separation of church and state. Although I have to say: in inviting me here, both church and state have been separated from something else completely: their mind.

Mr. President, are you sure about this?

It’s very humbling and I will try to keep my homily brief. But be warned—I’m Irish.

I’d like to talk about the laws of man, here in this city where those laws are written. And I’d like to talk about higher laws. It would be great to assume that the one serves the other; that the laws of man serve these higher laws… but of course, they don’t always. And I presume that, in a sense, is why you’re here.

I presume the reason for this gathering is that all of us here—Muslims, Jews, Christians—all are searching our souls for how to better serve our family, our community, our nation, our God.

I know I am. Searching, I mean. And that, I suppose, is what led me here, too.

Yes, it’s odd, having a rock star here—but maybe it’s odder for me than for you. You see, I avoided religious people most of my life. Maybe it had something to do with having a father who was Protestant and a mother who was Catholic in a country where the line between the two was, quite literally, a battle line. Where the line between church and state was… well, a little blurry, and hard to see.

I remember how my mother would bring us to chapel on Sundays… and my father used to wait outside. One of the things that I picked up from my father and my mother was the sense that religion often gets in the way of God.

For me, at least, it got in the way. Seeing what religious people, in the name of God, did to my native land… and in this country, seeing God’s second-hand car salesmen on the cable TV channels, offering indulgences for cash… in fact, all over the world, seeing the self-righteousness roll down like a mighty stream from certain corners of the religious establishment…

I must confess, I changed the channel. I wanted my MTV.

Even though I was a believer.

Perhaps because I was a believer.

I was cynical… not about God, but about God’s politics. (There you are, Jim.)

Then, in 1997, a couple of eccentric, septuagenarian British Christians went and ruined my shtick—my reproachfulness. They did it by describing the Millennium, the year 2000, as a Jubilee year, as an opportunity to cancel the chronic debts of the world’s poorest people. They had the audacity to renew the Lord’s call—and were joined by Pope John Paul II, who, from an Irish half-Catholic’s point of view, may have had a more direct line to the Almighty.

‘Jubilee’—why ‘Jubilee’?

What was this year of Jubilee, this year of our Lords favor?

I’d always read the scriptures, even the obscure stuff. There it was in Leviticus (25:35)…

‘If your brother becomes poor,’ the scriptures say, ‘and cannot maintain himself… you shall maintain him… You shall not lend him your money at interest, not give him your food for profit.’

It is such an important idea, Jubilee, that Jesus begins his ministry with this. Jesus is a young man, he’s met with the rabbis, impressed everyone, people are talking. The elders say, he’s a clever guy, this Jesus, but he hasn’t done much… yet. He hasn’t spoken in public before…

When he does, is first words are from Isaiah: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,’ he says, ‘because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.’ And Jesus proclaims the year of the Lord’s favour, the year of Jubilee. (Luke 4:18)

What he was really talking about was an era of grace—and we’re still in it.

So fast-forward 2,000 years. That same thought, grace, was made incarnate—in a movement of all kinds of people. It wasn’t a bless-me club… it wasn’t a holy huddle. These religious guys were willing to get out in the streets, get their boots dirty, wave the placards, follow their convictions with actions… making it really hard for people like me to keep their distance. It was amazing. I almost started to like these church people.

But then my cynicism got another helping hand.

It was what Colin Powell, a five-star general, called the greatest W.M.D. of them all: a tiny little virus called A.I.D.S. And the religious community, in large part, missed it. The one’s that didn’t miss it could only see it as divine retribution for bad behaviour. Even on children… Even fastest growing group of HIV infections were married, faithful women.

Aha, there they go again! I thought to myself Judgmentalism is back!

But in truth, I was wrong again. The church was slow but the church got busy on this the leprosy of our age.

Love was on the move.

Mercy was on the move.

God was on the move.

Moving people of all kinds to work with others they had never met, never would have cared to meet… Conservative church groups hanging out with spokesmen for the gay community, all singing off the same hymn sheet on AIDS… Soccer moms and quarterbacks… hip-hop stars and country stars… This is what happens when God gets on the move: crazy stuff happens!

Popes were seen wearing sunglasses!

Jesse Helms was seen with a ghetto blaster!

Crazy stuff. Evidence of the spirit.

It was breathtaking. Literally. It stopped the world in its tracks.

When churches started demonstrating on debt, governments listened—and acted. When churches starting organising, petitioning, and even—that most unholy of acts today, God forbid, lobbying… on AIDS and global health, governments listened—and acted.

I’m here today in all humility to say: you changed minds; you changed policy; you changed the world.

Look, whatever thoughts you have about God, who He is or if He exists, most will agree that if there is a God, He has a special place for the poor. In fact, the poor are where God lives.

Check Judaism. Check Islam. Check pretty much anyone.

I mean, God may well be with us in our mansions on the hill… I hope so. He may well be with us as in all manner of controversial stuff… maybe, maybe not… But the one thing we can all agree, all faiths and ideologies, is that God is with the vulnerable and poor.

God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house… God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives… God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war… God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them. “If you remove the yolk from your midst, the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, and if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom with become like midday and the Lord will continually guide you and satisfy your desire in scorched places”

It’s not a coincidence that in the scriptures, poverty is mentioned more than 2,100 times. It’s not an accident. That’s a lot of air time, 2,100 mentions. [You know, the only time Christ is judgmental is on the subject of the poor.] ‘As you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.’ (Matthew 25:40). As I say, good news to the poor.

Here is the video also.

I had a chance encounter this week with seeing how the truly poor live. I’m talking about the working poor, the disabled, the so very close to homeless. I was asked to help a friend move into an apartment, the first time he’s been off the streets in a long time. It was a joy to see his circumstances change and see the possibilities for him and how God is working in his life. But, just as importantly I was able to see others in similar situations and kept thinking to myself, how does this happen? We’re living in a rich city like Austin, and we were in an expensive part of the city, and yet here are examples of people who go without. I kept thinking, what can we do? How can we teach our children to serve God by serving people in situations like these? I’m open to suggestions…
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