Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Quick Hits #14

#1 Buffalo Bills receiver Steve Johnson tweets he's angry with God because God let him drop a game-winning pass. Christian blogosphere indignantly dissects. Drudge highlights the tweet. (This is the same Drudge, by the way, who posted a headline saying the guy who accidentally busted the President's lip in a basketball game "didn't say sorry." I wondered how Drudge knew that. He didn't. He just made it up because the guy didn't say sorry in a press release.) I wondered at first why we were assuming Johnson wasn't joking. He could have been just trying to do a funny "Thanks a lot, God" kind of thing. Time passed, and he didn't say he was joking. But I wonder if it would've been cool to respond the way Christian and NFL future hall-of-famer Kurt Warner did. He just tweeted to Johnson that he understood his frustration and gave him some words of encouragement.

#2 I do think the Church too often poorly stewards her artists. But this piece by Carl Trueman struck a chord with me. You can quibble with his sarcasm and (alleged) condescension, but I've been in many conversations with frustrated artists in which I wanted to say, "So basically you're saying there should be more of you do in the church service?" Whatever happened to "I must decrease; he must increase"? I blame some of this manner of thinking on the idea that real usefulness in the kingdom is measured by how much we do in contribution to a worship service, which appears to the be top-end for Christian maturity in the attractional church paradigm. (Please re-read the first sentence of this paragraph before commenting. ;-)

#3 Some other local pastors and I are dreaming up a monthly worship event to encourage and equip college students and young adults in this area of Vermont. They need it desperately. Many of them are sojourners in hostile lands. We want to give them gospel shape, help them see who they are in Christ and see their environment through Christ's eyes, in which there is no fear or forsakenness. My friend Rob Townshend, who is the family ministries pastor at his church, says "It takes an act of God to fall in love with Rutland, Vermont." That's what we're praying/planning for.

#4 There are some neat things happening in our church as we continue to "raise the sail" for revival and ask God to send his Spirit to do it. We have seen an increase in attendance over the last several months to the point there is now talk of knocking out the upper wall of our church to (re)install balcony seating. We have seem some healings. We have seen people committing to working through relationship conflicts. We have seen an increase in serving and an increase in evangelism. And best of all, we are seeing an increase in people expressing the need for first-time faith in Christ. I wonder if this is what revival looks like? Why am I tempted to think this isn't "it" yet?

#5 By the measure of most anyone, we are a small church. But drawing from surrounding towns too -- not every town in our area has a Bible-teaching evangelical church, remember -- our attendance is roughly 15% of our town's population. By that measurement, we're a megachurch! ;-)

#6 Christians in New England don't pass other churches to drive long distances on Sunday mornings for the killer kids' program or the rockin' band, but to hear someone who believes the Bible.

#7 Introduced the chickadees (7 and 9) to LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring (the movie) last weekend. They weren't scared by the "creepy stuff" (as my eldest calls it) and we ended up having all kinds of cool conversations about the characters and their histories. This geeky dad was stoked.


bobw said...

#3: as a southern kid who loves Rutland, I'm not sure how to take that comment :-)

#4: Yes, I think that's what revival looks like. praise God!

Tim Bertolet said...

I think a lot of people over reacted way to much with the whole Steve Johnson tweet. (1) Yes it was bad theology-- but who hasn't expressed anger and angst, doesn't make it right either way. (2) A bigger issue, to me, is the whole wearing all of our private thoughts on twitter.

Steve Johnson may not have apologized, but it did make it clear that it was frustration not actually blaming God. In fact, he said later that God had been teaching him through this.

Over on the ESPN blog:

But Johnson posted seven more tweets Monday night in attempt to clarify Sunday's controversial missive.
"I learned A lot Within 24hrs. Saw Both Sides.(Ups&Dwns) I AM HAPPY & THANKFUL 4 YESTERDAY! w/out Sunday iWldnt have grew closer w/The Lord!!"

"And No I Did Not Blame God People! Seriously??!? CMon! I Simply Cried Out And Asked Why? Jus Like yal did wen sumthin went wrong n ur life!"

"So Before Yall..well I'm pretty sure you've awready judged me. I hope you guys look n the mirror. I dnt blame u 4 being mad @ my gm I WAS 2!"

Johnson also posted a note on his Facebook page:
"FB fam ... please dont take my twitter comment out of context. I know as well as anyone the gifts & opportunities God has provided me & my family. I am humbled by the lessons he has taught me these past two days & will continue to praise God, be strong in my faith, & thank him for all that he has & will continue to provide me & my family."

Ryan Phelps said...

#6 deserves a longer post....

Jared said...

Tim, thanks for the extra info! Very helpful for context and consideration.

I found Johnson's original tweet reflective of poor theology, of course, but I didn't have the same reaction others seemed to. It did seem evidence of the prosperity gospel type teaching, but I also wondered, apart from tone of voice, if he was just kinda joking or something.

Jared said...

Ryan, good idea.
I think someone else has written about this in a fairly substantive way; I will try to run that down via Google and will share it if I can find it. If not, maybe I'll put some thoughts down soon.

Anonymous said...

Re#1: When I saw that Tweet I laughed at first and kind of rolled my eyes at the whole overly dramatic response but then it got me thinking about myself and how much I display this exact attitude when things don't go my way.

I think we all have--to some degree--an attitude similar to this. I was convicted by Johnson's public display of an attitude that I harbor in my own heart and mind more often than I care to admit.

Brian said...

I wonder why we don't have the same reaction whenever a player thanks God for the the game-winning touchdown or some such thing. Seems like two sides of the same coin to me. I mean, if God is really involved in the outcome of football games wouldn't he be causing both?

Andrew said...

(if this is my second comment I am sorry. Login trouble)

#2 In our culture the word "art" and "artist" is very broad in terms of definition. I think a clear understanding of what is godly art needs to be communicated in our churches. In this manner we can educate people and maybe open the doors to more expressions of art in our worship.

#4 This is awesome news. I pray for a revival all across our great country. I look forward to God doing something even in my own church. I would love to hear about the healings. They seem so rare even in my own Pentecostal church! I love to hear God is moving.

#7 Just watched the Two Towers with my family the other day (my "chickadees" are 7 and 10)! I am reading the Fellowship now. As a side note we are reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader as a family now. We will finish the book and then go see the movie during the Christmas break.

Again, I always enjoy your post!

rob t. said...

#4 gives me butterflies. I'm excited for how God's using MSCC!

Anonymous said...

Thank God for #3... I will be praying with you guys

Aaron said...

I have wanted to visit your area of the country for many years. Obviously, I couldn't comment on the idea that it takes an act of God to fall in love with Rutland, but it looks like a beautiful place to visit!!

Praise God for your revival. We are praying for the same thing at our church.


salguod said...

Re: #4 - Who cares if it's actually 'revival'. God is clearly at work through your church and being glorified.

Re: #5 - If my church did the same, considering the metro area, I think we'd have something like 225,000 in attendance. We're closer to 0.05% of that.

Re: #7 - We got the LOTR movies as they came out on DVD and we watched them as a family. I think my youngest 'chickadee' was close in age to your youngest at the time we got #1 (she'll be 12 in January). She loved it and wasn't scared at the creepy bits either.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Andrew, I half-way agree. The artists who actually went to school are without excuse. You can NOT get through even an undergraduate degree in the arts and not see how the Church and the Christian faith have utterly informed the arts. Now if a pastor is ignorant of the arts I don't see why an artist (however we define that) shouldn't subordinate his or her concerns to serving the flock. Even though I compose as a hobby I agree with Trueman's article. It's hard to feel bad for artists who do what they like and get paid for it to feel out of place when so many of them have no interest in subordinating their style and ideas to congregational service. I was at a church for a while that had the artsy indie rock thing. Most of the time it worked fine but something I saw that still bothers me is that when the pastors and the artsy types were all in agreement this led to them looking down on the congregation. People wouldn't sing along with the songs and the leaders thought this was a sign that they weren't interested in singing. The idea that the music didn't lend itself to congregational singing never seemed to come up. When paintings of severed goat heads popped up in the church foyer and people expressed distress at the imagery the leadership saw it as the problem of the visitors rather than a lack of context or explanation on the part of the artist.