Donald Miller on Two Words That Kill Passion and the follow-up, Moving From "Ought To" to "Want To". The "ought to" idea/problem has been on my mind this past week. As I've been reading though Jay Bakker's book Fall to Grace he writes of how the idea of "works" can be abused to create a secondary legalism that is counter to the Christian concept of grace. In the book, he writes:
"The trouble is, if everything you do comes back to your own cosmic scorecard, you're not really caring about others. Your selflessness ends up being self-obsessed. You are all that you think about. Where's the generosity in that?From the Art of Non-Conformity blog - Whose Side are You On - thoughts on Ani DiFranco and the virtue of forging your own path, even when it is risky.
"When you try to earn your salvation through works, you judge your neighbor by the same harsh standard that you use to judge yourself. Instead of being encouraged by other people's good deeds and generosity, you fall into a pointless competition, trying to do a little better and be a little more virtuous than your neighbor. You are keeping up with the Jameses.
"To avoid this trap, we have to find a motivation that lies outside the law and works. We have to find a source of inspiration beyond obligation or pride. We find it in the freedom of grace. But free isn't easy..."
This video made the rounds this past weekend, but worth checking out if you haven't seen it (or taking another look, if you have).
A Portrait of Christ from Jeremy Cowart on Vimeo.
Roger Olson on Whatever Became of the Cross. Interesting reflection - growing up in a mainline church I don't remember hearing much about the cross, and later years grew weary of the violent imagery it conveyed, especially when it is presented it ways that almost seem to glorify the violence. The whole "washed in the blood" imagery has never been part of my vocabulary, but in recently I've been more and more convinced that we do need to fully acknowledge and by humbled by the cross - you can't get to Easter Sunday without walking through Good Friday. There is a middle way between completely ignoring the cross and becoming so obsessed that sometimes you forget Jesus even lived, and the church certainly needs to be present somewhere in that middle ground.
On a similar Good Friday theme, be sure and check out Walter Bruggerman's reflection, Praying in the Abyss.
Also from Sojourners: Ayn Rand, Manicheanism and Christianity. I was reading another article about Ayn Rand a couple weeks ago and struck by how her philosophy is so antithetical to Christianity and wondered about this apparent disconnect in the minds of those who try to commit to both. Love the sentence at the end:
"If the choice is Jesus or Rand, I choose Jesus."
Jeremy Smith on All Doubt in a Day - I'm preaching the lectionary this week, also looking at the story of Thomas, and some of Jeremy's thoughts might find their way into this week's message.
This should have made last week's round-up but got missed: Becca Clark offers some important thoughts on personal safety in the practice of ministry. While a gender dynamic might be part of the equation, I know I have also been in situations when an unsafe person has been in my office and I've calculated an "escape plan" in my head (although never to the point that Becca experienced). In my current setting, I'm limited to a single entrance/exit with limited room to maneuver, a distance away from my administrative assistant (who, as I think about it, also has limited space and no secondary exit), and we don't currently have an emergency plan in place. Something for all churches to seriously think about and make efforts to correct.
Michael Hyatt talks about his idea capture and organization process using a blend of traditional paper and electronic. On the computer he uses Evernote which I've had on my computer and mobile devices for a while, but never really used. I might have to give his system (or some variation of it) a try.
Advertising & Detroit:
“I love Detroit, the people here, the spirit, the nearness of despair, the nearness of spectacular success. It is the American crossroads,” he tweets, adding in another: “Along with my hometown of Oakland, I am now convinced that Detroit is the most soulful city in our country.”New music from Steve Earle out this week (I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive). Here's an oldie but goodie from his back-catalog.