Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Month: September 2011 (page 1 of 6)

decisions for a lifetime

I finished Rob Bell’s book. I’d like to offer a full review, but this post isn’t it.
However, he ends with a story of him at age 7, saying a prayer with his mother and father on his bed, asking Jesus into his heart. Perhaps Bell included the story to really throw off some Calvinists and cause them angst in figuring out Bell’s eternal future. But I think more likely he wanted to plant the seed that the occasions that many Christians celebrate so much – those “come to Jesus” moments – really are important in the life of faith, but perhaps not in the way we’ve believed them to be.
I think he would say those moments aren’t just the all-access rights to heaven. Those rights have been available since Calvary. But those decisions have the power to set us on a course in life that continually chooses to live in the grace and love of Jesus. Those prayers on beds of 7-year-olds, or on the beaches of Panama City during a tumultuous spring break trip, are tools that God uses to help us walk in The Way. Perhaps sometimes we get to thinking that the journey is too far, hard or rocky; but we can remember the decision we made to follow this Jesus and we continue to put one foot in front of the other.
But it doesn’t have to. I’m sure we can all name one person who made a grand decision of faith only to see the fire fizzle months later. It happens. What about those people? Well, the path is still open for them to choose; sometimes they might just have to mow through some weeds to find it again.
And then there are those who feel that the other decisions they’ve made equally define their lives. Bad choices. Hurt. Other loves and pursuits. Guilt and pain eat them up. But just as Bell’s 7-year-old bedtime decision had the power to move him in a direction toward God, these guilt-ridden decisions have the power to move people away from Him.
If you ask me (and you are, because you’re still reading), these decisions only have as much power to direct your future as you decide to give them. They may define your past, but that is the limit to their power. This, my friends is the beauty of grace and mercy. I’ve never really understood the concept until now, but what a beautiful thing. When people use descriptors for God’s power as “breaking free from bondage” I can see that it includes the ability to say, “Yes I did… but now I am….”
It seems that seeking the Kingdom of God is simply choosing to allow the moments of God’s light define you and the moments of darkness pass away.

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but she gave you your best years

Many a joke was cracked on Twitter in regards to Rob Bell’s announcement to leave Mars Hill, specifically in reference to John Piper’s now-prophetic “so long” comment. Having defended Bell previously a few times, I’ve been curious as to when a couple individuals would ask my opinion. So I’ve been trying to form one. 

I’m disappointed and hesitant to support it.
The disappointment lies in the disengagement from the local church. Bell seems very versed in the struggles of people who are seeking to follow Jesus and what that means in day-to-day life; but I think that comes from the interaction and the relationship with the congregation. You just can’t get that kind of give and take from a stage. I think the best writers and speakers don’t just know scripture but also culture; the hermentuical jump takes you from the there-and-then to the here-and-now. I’ve heard equal number of unhelpful messages by over-emphasizing either side. So I’m reluctant to believe he’ll be nearly as effective.  
Much like my politic, I believe the best theology happens at the local level. Not in the sense that something is true in Kansas but not in Hardin County. But theology intrinsically interweaves itself with a person or group’s understanding of history, sociology, psychology, and numerous other -ologies. “Context is key” doesn’t only apply to what is read, but to what is lived. Thus, I don’t have to wear a hat to church. Though I would like to bring that back, I must say. I’d love a good reason to wear a hat. 
I have to say that the kind of work Bell has done – his level of questioning scripture and what it looks like to follow Jesus – is inspiring to me and I’ve been strongly encouraged in my faith by hearing what he has to offer. But those kinds of questions – and conclusions – have not been overly worrisome to me because of his involvement in the local church. At one point Mars Hill had hired a head pastor (Don Golden) who helped establish the theological direction of the church and then Bell was charged to preach based on that direction. I found this model fascinating and reassuring. But now the only dictation of what Bell preaches performs will come from the publisher, and I don’t think that just because you seek to follow Jesus that you don’t hear the convincing message of the almighty dollar. I could point fingers at pastors who already struggle with this (look at me pretending to be righteous by refraining to mention Osteen’s name…oops!), let alone flying solo.
Finally, I’ve seen Bell exhibit prophetic tendencies that I greatly appreciated. But the prophetic role is one for the sake of the flock. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but the prophets served Israel by calling her to return. The prophets weren’t evangelists by trade. I just don’t know what the prophetic message is to the nations. I can’t come up with an example of this. I think this is how Bell differs from Chan and a few other pastors-gone-published. These others, I think, see themselves in a role of building up leaders and current believers. Bell seems to want to “share his message” to an outside group. I’m curious to see how that transpires.   
So, if I am to be honest, I feel like this trend of leaving pastorates for a national stage is treating the local church like the first wives club. The newer, younger, more exciting model doesn’t have the same history, the stability or the faithfulness. 
And she bore your children. Because nary a story that I’ve heard of followers of faith being so dramatically impacted by a presentation or a book, but rather a person who engages with them in his/her current story. So I’m apprehensive to believe that his platform will be greatly enhanced by going it alone. 
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not the man for me

I have yet to even decide if I’ll vote dem or republican this next election; I’m waiting to see what my options are. However, I’m narrowing down who I will not vote for. #1 on that list is Rick Perry. Allow me some pre-debate propaganda. 

1. I care very little that he feels so strongly that young girls should be vaccinated against cancer an STD. I hear both sides of that debate and I do not expect that my presidential candidate needs to agree with me (And I’ll go Ron Paul on this one – it’s not for the government to decide!). However, it’s more worrisome that he’s accepting such large campaign donations from Merck, the maker of the primary drug used to vaccinate. I know that a contributor’s interests go higher on a politician’s priority list, but I don’t like decisions affecting my daughters’ health to be made based upon someone’s deep pocketbooks any more than when my doctors’ are influenced in the same way. (Is anti-big business democrat or republican? Because I’m that). 
2. I don’t care as much that he’s “for” the death penalty as much as I’m offended by his crass overconfidence. His 100% positive attitude that his state could not have possibly executed an innocent man is downright scary. He needs to allow for the imperfections of the system. This attitude is way too over-confident and lacks the humility necessary to deal with repercussions of making these [correct use of literal] life-and-death decisions. If you’re standing strong on such an issue, you need to be prepared to fix imperfections, not pretend that they’re not there. 
3. He’s the Evangelical Club card holder. I know Bachman also has platinum status (but rest assured, there’s too large a group of conservatives who don’t feel that women should be in leadership… I went to one of those churches a few weeks ago), but Perry was brought in by a consortium of leaders of Christian organizations to be “grilled” on his stance on both policy and social issues (apparently one participant really grilled him on the vaccine thing; I tried to find a source on this, but couldn’t. I heard it on K-Love, if that provides any background understanding). Whether or not he’s a conservative evangelical isn’t my concern; it’s the groupthink mentality. I remember talking with friends when GW was elected and essentially being told that voting for the W was the Christian Thing To Do. In my gut, I didn’t like him. And 8 years later, I was right. So, in typical style, I react by being adverse to something that I wasn’t adverse to previously (all of history is a reaction to a reaction, right?). Poor Perry will bear the brunt of this as I take a stand and he won’t get my vote out of principle. 
Husband and I oft debate about religion and politics. I’m a firm believer that you can hardly separate the 2 (we’ve been trying from the beginning of time with little luck. Our ideas of God and law are simply too intertwined). And, I would argue, they ought to be. Faith should guide our ideals of right and wrong and the priorities of our lives. But I cannot think that a singular candidate holds a corner of the market or God’s singular endorsement. 
So, those are my pre-debate thoughts. We’ll see what comes of the whole debacle later tonight.  
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