Sunday, February 19, 2017

Faithful presence review (of sorts)

I finished reading David Fitch's nice little book "Faithful Presence: Seven Disciplines That Shape the Church For Mission" this past week. I'm glad I read it. As with most of David's writing (book, blog, twitter, etc.) it was challenging to many evangelical conventions, but it spoke to me richly.

In paperback it came in right around 200 pages, so it was fairly easy to read (especially for DF books). It was broken into two sections. Part 1 describes the theology of God's faithful presence, and how he believes the church is the answer to changing the world. Part 2 is then the seven disciplines to guide us in carrying it out.

The book was written in response to questions regarding whether the church has anything more to offer a world full of injustice. As Fitch writes on p. 10:
"Can the church reach out to the worlds around me in a way that doesn't judge them, alienate them, or ask them in some way to come to us? Can the church engage the hurting, the poor, and the broken with something more than just handouts?"

He continues on p.10 to propose that the answer to these questions is 'faithful presence:'
"Faithful presence names the reality that God is present in the world and that he uses a people faithful to his presence to make himself concrete and real amid the world's struggles and pain. When the church is this faithful presence, God's kingdom becomes visible, and the world is invited to join with God. Faithful presence is not only essential for our lives as Christians, it's how God has chosen to change the world. In this book I aim to describe what this faithful presence looks like."

The rest of the book is then a description of the seven disciplines given to us by Christ that shape us into his presence. He lists them as:
  1. The Lord's Table
  2. Reconciliation
  3. Proclaiming the gospel
  4. Being with "the least of these"
  5. Being with children
  6. The fivefold ministry
  7. Kingdom prayer
He states that "In these disciplines Jesus has given us all we need to shape our lives into his presence for the transformation of the world."

Fitch also proposes that these disciplines are best understood as 'on the move.' He says they occupy three spaces continually - what he calls the close circle, the dotted circle, and the half circle. These circles basically represent within the church, in our homes, and in the community.


So, my personal take on the book (for what it's worth)... Like I said, I am glad I read it. I haven't read too many "church" books for awhile and this was good for me. That said, as much as I think Fitch doesn't want it to be, he writes at a fairly high level of understanding. This was probably his most "readable" book to date, but I'd say it's still not something the average church attendee and/or Christian would take much interest in.

I read it with great interest though. I liked all seven of the disciplines he pointed out. I was perhaps most surprised - and blown away by - the one on being with children. That chapter by itself was worth the price of the book to me. And that's what I like about Fitch, God's grace, and Jesus as well - the surprising little ways that really reach out and slap you in the face but caress your heart at the same time. Anyway, I don't want to give too much away, but I really like that Fitch's church requires everyone to work with children at some point, but at the same time they don't separate the children from the adults for everything either.

Overall, the book is written very well; I believe very solid biblically; and filled with a lot of good real-life stories and examples to explain and give credence to his proposal that what the world needs more of is God's faithful presence through His church. I highly recommend it for church leaders of all stripes.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Cleaning up washington politics

The truth is I'm not all that smart about politics, but unfortunately I have occasion to drag myself into interest. I don't understand much about world affairs, the electoral college, or political science in general. However I do care about people, and the workings of society have a lot to do with how people are treated and live. So I read about things now and then, and these are some things I think could help. Maybe. At least in my brain.
  1. Healthcare Overhaul - I am tempted to be in favor of a single-payer national health insurance program, though I've lately been leaning more toward some type of all-payer rate setting of some kind. From what little I've read, the biggest culprit in the outrageous price-gouging going on with healthcare is not necessarily the insurance industry (which a single-payer program would minimize). It has been suggested that government oversight of healthcare services and products would better serve to bring health costs down. Setting a hard price on medicines, procedures, and other products would hinder the pharmaceutical rapage of society more than trying to regulate insurance companies. It seems to go more toward the source of the problem than dealing with the symptoms.
  2. Term Limits for Congress - Not only that, but how about if they were held to the same laws and treatment (healthcare/retirement) as every other citizen. Why is this even an issue anymore? I don't think I need to say more.
  3. Campaign Spending Limit - How about if we set a cap on how much politicians could spend on campaigning. It would cut down on the amount of time we have to hear negative adds, plus it might hinder the influence corporations and lobby groups have in politics. How about a limit of $5 million for federal positions, $500,000 for state, and $50,000 for local elections??
  4. No Corporate Campaign Donations - As if #3 were not enough, let's just eliminate the ability for corporations and groups to donate altogether. You raise money from individuals - whether it's a lot of small donations or a few large ones wouldn't matter as much if #3 were in place.
So, that's my four-point plan for cleaning up Washington politics. Well, probably not really, but these are some things I have been thinking about and it's my blog so... there ya have it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Lost in the space beneath my skull

It's been awhile since I've posted anything. I actually considered just ending this misery of minutia and letting the blog die but.... well, here I am again. Like the stray cat that just won't leave, because where else would it go? So, I will try to remember some of the thoughts that have passed through my mind over these last few days.

The last time we served food on the street downtown I talked to two different guys who had recently been beat up and had their stuff stolen. One guy had the tent he'd been sleeping in ripped to shreds. These were both somewhat desperate guys, and you could tell they were worn down by life even though they weren't all that old. As I chatted and listened to them my heart sort of sank a few degrees. I just cannot imagine that life. However, I guess it made me feel like we were doing something even a little significant. Once again, I am seeing my role as just being a sort of presence there to smile, listen, learn names and speak them. I don't know if there is such a thing as a ministry of familiarity, but it sounds intriguing even if this is the first time it's ever entered my mind.

In a similar vein, I am in the middle of doing an auction at my place of employ. We have decided to do them online now instead of physically onsite with an auctioneer. There are pros and cons but either way requires the same work and detail. I have one customer who is being especially difficult, but there's another one that was more impactful. This guy - probably about my age or a tad older - has pretty much all his possessions stored here, and he's going to lose them. We tried to work out an arrangement but he finally came in and just admitted that he was never going to be able to pay his bill and maybe it would actually be better for him to just cut his losses and move on. I probably agree with him, but it was a sad exchange. He almost seemed relieved to be losing his "things." I felt bad because I imagine it's not easy reaching that conclusion. On the other hand, I can see the freedom in no longer being tied to "stuff."

Speaking of work... it continues to be a mixed bag. As I've stated many times, I really do like my job, I just have a hard time playing with others. An electrician showed up at the office yesterday to run the wiring for the kiosk they are going to install here. He was asking me all these questions, and I couldn't be much help because I haven't really been told much at all. I have a hard time dealing with people refusing to talk to me, though I can understand why they don't want to and I'm not all that sure I would believe a lot of what one of them has to say anyway. I don't blame them for not wanting to talk to me because I know I am difficult to deal with. I wouldn't want to talk to me either. I wish I had a better handle on my emotions, but if I did then I probably wouldn't be working here in the first place. Still, I am frustrated by being kept in the dark. I've been told my job will not be eliminated, but based on other things I've heard and been told, something does not add up. You don't spend the kind of money these kiosks require without getting rid of human workers. THAT is what they are made for! So, who knows.

There are some other things occupying my mind and heart that I'd rather not discuss at the moment. On the bright side, though, is the growing sense that bad things are not necessarily bad. Much can be learned from the journey, and history shows some of the greatest things in life have come from detours. So I feel like I'm starting to enjoy the trip a little more. I like this little quote I ran across some time ago. I used to keep it on my desk at work:

Saturday, February 11, 2017

What's in a name

I have a bit of an odd name. One day I must have run across an ad for and been bored enough to click through to the origin and meaning. I'd known it was of German origin, but had been under the impression it had something to do with "house" or "home." Ancestry had this to say though:

Horwedel Name Meaning
German: topographic name for someone who lived by a swampy ford, from hor ‘dirt’ + wede ‘woods’.

Hmm. Who knew? Sort of a 'person of the earth.' I'll take that. 

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Church membership

I recently mentioned that we are likely going to commit to membership in the church we now call home. I think it's time. We want to be a part of a group, and we like this group. Plus I like that their membership is merely an annual covenant that you agree to, and it's renewable. You're not committing forever, yet you must continue to do so if you want to continue to be a member. Here is the actual form off the church website:

2017 Covenant Member Application

Fields marked with an * are required 
Any follower of Christ is invited to become a Covenant Member of the Come2Go Ministries community. In covenanting with us, you both agree to and adopt our shared values. Covenant members are also allowed a vote in official church meetings and are eligible to be elected to the church board. This covenant can be renewed at the beginning of each year.  Together we covenant to:
PRAY: In prayer we nurture our relationship with God.  We share our innermost hopes and needs and we listen for God’s voice so we might respond faithfully.
WORSHIP: We gather for worship to join with other disciples to offer our praise, thanksgiving, prayers, and to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.
READ: The Bible is central to our life together as a community and as individuals. It is in God’s Word that we are hear God’s invitation and challenge for our daily life.
SERVE: One of the ways we express our faith in Jesus is by serving others.  Through the GoTeam ministries of Come2Go we live out our faith together.
CONNECT: We are created to live in fellowship with God and each other.  We are not merely a collection of individuals.  We are community following Jesus together. 
GIVE: Everything we have (our time, money, talents, possessions) is a gift from God. As we follow Jesus together we share generously of what we have.  We support the church financially as a way of resourcing God’s kingdom work in the world.
If this application is for you and your spouse, simply enter both names in the field. IE: Jim and Sally
Help Text
Children Living at Home [Please include Age, Grade, Birthday] IE: Sam, 10, 4th Grade, 1/1/2007