Sunday, September 30, 2007

Confused People

In the past year I've heard a lot of people speaking of the church in negative terms. Apparently, there is free reign on insulting the church. The only problem is that these people think they can do it apart from the body. Christ's body is the church, and God is revealed now through the church, not apart from it. Just look at what Paul says to the Ephesian church:

[T]hough I am the very least of all these saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for all ages in God who created all things; that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose which he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confidence.

~ Ephesians 3:8-12
Did you read that? The wisdom of God is made known through the church! This was His plan. Really? Can you believe that God planned for His wisdom to be made known through a bunch of messed up, confused people? I love what Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon have to say about this and the role of pastors (ministers) in their book, Resident Aliens:
A pastor finds the guts to speak the truth because he or she has found this biblical basis for pastoral care: Jesus Christ, "in whom we have boldness and confidence." Lacking such confidence, pastors become fearful creatures. After all, pastors have a front row seat to observe the lies by which people live, the shallowness, the quiet desperation, or raging anger by which people react to a life without significance. Self-protection makes cowards of us all.

We believe that pastoral fear can be overcome because the people Jesus calls to be the church, for all their infidelity, are still capable of hearing the truth. A ministry built on fear of the people can never be a happy one. Undoubtedly, people come to church for a host of wrong reasons. But the pastor is able to help them find the words to acknowledge, sometimes to their own surprise, that they are here because God has willed them to be here, despite all their wrong reasons. People may come to church to get their marriages fixed, or for help in raising chaste, obedient children, or simply to be with a few relatively nice people rather than to be alone. The pastor is essential for helping us cut through our wrong reasons for being at church and helping us to see that God is a relentless, utterly unscrupulous, infinitely resourceful god who is determined to have us, good reasons or bad.

~ Resident Aliens, Stanley Hauerwas & William H. Willimon, Abingdon Press, 1989
So there are a lot of messed up people who go to church. This isn't news. It's not even a new idea. Jesus' own apostles were confused about what he came to do. After feeding the five thousand, the apostles were confused. They saw Jesus feed people and wanted more signs, but Jesus put them straight, and so He puts us all straight. The church is here to point to the Son of God, even if we don't do it very well.
Then they asked him, what must we do to do the works God requires?"

Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."

~ John 6:28-29

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Hours of Photo Fun!

Today my work schedule began its transition into busy (yes I worked today). From here until about mid-November I will be working overtime hours, which includes extra hours during the weekdays and even Saturdays adding up to 45-55 hours per week. Thankfully I have been there now a year and can finally go to the dentist with my new coverage. I also received a raise last month, so those overtime hours will mean even more.

During the summer we aren't as busy, so I had some time to work on some personal pictures and print them myself. I'm not much of a photographer, but my wife is, so I printed some of hers, and now we have some loverly new photographs hanging on our walls. Check out some of these photos on her blog. We have talked about opening a photo studio or something with her taking the pictures and me doing everything else. Maybe someday.

Back to my work. Sometimes weird things happen there. I edit a lot of school photos from all over the country and a couple of times I have edited pictures of people I went to high school with that are now teachers. This week I edited photos for two of Arnold Schwarzenegger's daughters at two different California schools. Thanks to me, he'll have some great pictures of his daughters hanging on his wall. You're welcome Arnold.

And also check out the pictures of the Martin baby!