dreadful to be alone with the new testament

here’s the full quote from søren kierkegaard from which the partial quote on tonight’s tapestry bulletin came from.

“the matter is quite simple. the bible is very easy to understand. but we CHRISTians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. we pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. take any words in the new testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. my GOD, you will say, if i do that my whole life will be ruined. how would i ever get on in the world? herein lies the real place of CHRISTian scholarship. CHRISTian scholarship is the church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good CHRISTians without the bible coming too close. oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living GOD. yes it is even dreadful to be alone with the new testament.”
søren kierkegaard, provocations: spiritual writings of kierkegaard

obviously as  a philsopher and theologian kierkegaard didn’t completely dismiss scholarship and the pursuit of knowledge. still he recognized how it could be used, and often is used, to avoid the claims of CHRIST. i think we often do the same thing with our bible studies in the modern, wstern CHRISTian world. we says to ourselves “surely CHRIST couldn’t mean that … it would ruin me” and then we spiritualize, intellectualize, and generally bounce around the statements of JESUS till we can figure out a way to look like we are following HIS word while not really doing anything other than what we want to do.

“surely when JESUS said for me to love my enemy HE didn’t mean them. if i treat them with love they will merely hurt others.”

“surely JESUS never said that i should give that much”

“JESUS never meant for CHRISTians to help the poor that much. that would keep them from helping themselves”

etc., etc. etc.

it should be “dreadful … to fall into the hands of the living GOD. yes it is even dreadful to be alone with the new testament.” it is scary to me when i find that it isn’t difficult to me, because i usually find that at those times i am no longer really listening to the words of JESUS.

3 & 30


funny-wedding-photo-red copy

i posted a while back about the increasing wedding officiating i’ve been doing each year of tapestry and my thoughts concerning weddings possibly being a sign of health or not in a church. as of today, if all goes as planned, i will be officiating at least three weddings in 2012 (the schobert wedding has already been done and two more are scheduled). today jessiah and amanda asked me to officiate their wedding and, of course, i was honored to say yes to doing it. they might have to talk with pam concerning the date of their ceremony since they picked our wedding anniversary to get married on.



as a youth minister i regularly led students through world vision’s 30 hour famine. today, due to a couple of the ways i have been prepping for easter through lent, i have been constantly thinking about “the famines” i used to be a part and how i always thought they were something that everyone in the churches i was a part of would have benefited from rather than just something for students.  of course, you would have to do it different if “the famine” involved all the members of a church rather than only youth. in youth ministry you treat “the famine” as a lock-in (here’s a great youth lock in video) where all the students are gathered together and stay up way later than normal people should. couldn’t do that with the whole church, especially when tapestry would have to rent a building to do it. instead i think as a church we could achieve the goals and focus of “the famine” without going down the road of it being merely a youth event with adults.

here’s what i’m thinking of doing.

  • still do the 30 hours without eating as a reminder of JESUS’s command that we feed the hungry.
  • instead of doing a lock-in we spend a great deal of time together throughout friday evening and saturday by having lots of planned opportunities to …
  • worship together (a worship time friday night, saturday morning, and saturday afternoon)
  • serve together (planned service opportunities friday and saturday)
  • goof off together (planned opportunities friday and saturday)
  • ask every adult there to contribute the assumed cost of the 5 meals we would skip to world vision for the purpose of feeding the hungry. we could still raise money in addition to this but specifically ask the adult to give up the money we would have spent on our and our families’ meals.
  • the national dates for the 30 hour famine are february 24-25 and april 27-28. GOD speed and bless all the students and chaperones who are doing “the famine” tonight all around the world. i really think the threads would get into this so after i bounce it around some more you might be hearing more about this. it might be fun to still set up a lock-in for the teens that fit in with the whole church doing the famine.

    2012 lent emails

    for lent and advent each year tapestry does daily/weekly emails to help us all prep for CHRISTmas and easter. lent begins today with ash wednesday and thus the first email went out today (you can view it here if you would like to). this year’s email with be a reading plan through the gospel according to matthew and the illustrations of “40”, si smith’s interpretation of JESUS’s 40 days in the wilderness. every now and then there will be a few other things additionally thrown in. if you want to receive these emails each day of lent please use the following form to sign up for the emails.

    Subscribe to the Tapestry Lent Mailing List

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    my conversation with mayor halverson

    i posted last week that mayor halverson had responded to my request to have coffee with him and allow me to ask him four questions. today was the day scheduled for our conversation. i’ll try my best here to summarize here most of what we talked about. i want to start off by saying that i really enjoyed my conversation with him. since i live in plover i “have no dog” in the stevens point political system. mayor halverson wouldn’t really gain any political traction by meeting with me, the pastor of a small church who doesn’t even have the ability to personally vote in stevens point political issues. he could have therefore thought that spending an hour with me was a waste of his time but he didn’t and i am very appreciative of his graciousness. my conversation with him was one that went down a lot of paths and one that i really enjoyed.

    here’s a reminder of the 4 questions i wanted to ask him.

    1. what do you think are the biggest needs in the point area and how do you think the churches of the area can be a part of the solution to these needs?
    2. what do you wish a church in the area would do?
    3. what is the best kept secret in the point area?
    4. can you tell me three other people who love the area that you think i should take out for coffee and a conversation?

    our conversation bounced around from practical city issues to sociology, so it is a little difficult to write down definite answers to each of these questions but i’ll still try to summarize what we talked about.

    question #1 – what do you think are the biggest needs in the point area and how do you think the churches of the area can be a part of the solution to these needs?

    mayor halverson described the history of the point area in regards to economic recessions. people around here do a pretty decent job of living within their means rather than living off credit. this means that recessions are usually slower to hit the point area but eventually do when jobs are lost as a result of the national economic changes. for point this means the job losses we’ve more recently been having from plant and business closings. point is slow to go into recessions and also slow to recover from them as a result. point will eventually recover economically and that is where mayor halverson sees that churches can help. his worry is that people will lose faith and hope in the midst of the recession and he believes that churches can help here. i’ll discuss this now in the second question i wanted to ask him.

    question #2 – what do you wish a church in the area would do?

    the answer to this question is actually hodge podged together from our discussion of the first question, because we kind of bounce into other areas of discussion based on this question (like i said earlier it was an enjoyable conversation and for me that usually means “rabbit chasing”). mayor halverson said that there were a fair number of people in the community who are being hurt by the recession who don’t have the resources to recover as well as others. his request of a church would be to help, along with other organizations such as operation bootstrap and food pantries, provide the “safety net” (my phrase) for this group while also helping people to struggle through the question of “why.” he worries that people might lose faith and hope that tomorrow can be better and he thinks churches can really help provide answers in regards to struggles with “why”.

    question #3 – what is the best kept secret in the point area?

    mayor halverson’s first answer to this question surprised me. he said the best kept secret in the point area is the giving nature of the community. i’m not surprised that i live in a giving community. instead, i was surprised by how much giving happens in point. apparently point is in the top third of communities nation-wide in giving to the united way. i didn’t realize this. the mayor then went on to describe other wonderful aspects of point such as the green circle and uwsp, which i would completely agree with, but i was most surprised by the extent of the giving nature.

    question #4 – can you tell me three other people who love the area that you think i should take out for coffee and a conversation?

    i won’t mention the names that he told me contact. i will say that he did direct me to three other people i should talk to and this is the part that i was most excited about. i’ll be contacting these individuals soon asking them out for coffee in the hopes of hearing their answers to these same four questions.

    i really enjoyed my conversation with the mayor and learned a good bit form him. i am possibly most thankful for what he said at the end. when our conversation was ending mayor halverson invited me to call him anytime i had questions concerning the history and development of some part of point. this will be incredibly helpful.

    as pastor of tapestry i hope all the “threads” will do this same thing. take someone out for coffee and ask them questions concerning our community and what we as a church can do to help it. then do the most important thing and listen. JESUS taught that we love GOD when we love our neighbors. we’ll do a better job of that when we are constantly listening to those around us.

    the “over 40” league


    thanks to one of pam’s co-workers i am now a part of the stevens point “over 40” basketball league. i’m doing this for a few different reasons.

    • its another way to exercise and that is good.
    • i really like playing basketball, which is odd since i played football for most of the time i was growing up.
    • i need/want to meet new people in the community, which is why i hang out at emy j’s so much, walk my dogs at the dog park, and curl. this is another opportunity to meet people outside of tapestry.

    the last reason is why i am playing in the stevens point “over 40” league instead of playing in the church “pick up” games that i have been often asked to join. it is awfully nice of the people at these churches to invite me to play basketball with them but i would rather be outside of the church trying to live out and share the good news of JESUS rather than trying to share it inside the church.  obviously, i have nothing against “pick up” games among CHRISTians. i think the time together is most likely wonderful. my issue is that it seems that far too often the church stays within the church subculture.

    another example of this is a conversation i recently had with a ministerial friend. he told me about a web service called onthecity.org that the church he is a part of has started using. he said they were using it because it enables them to do things “just like facebook.” i didn’t understand this. why would i need a religious social network that would work “just like facebook”? why not just use facebook? why separate and ghetto ourselves off? why have a church social network when we can do church out in the public for all to see?

    it seems far too common in the church for believers to hole ourselves off in protective shells and then ask those who don’t believe in our MESSIAH to come and join us in our safe areas rather than going out into our communities and living out our faith in JESUS as the PRINCE OF PEACE for all the see. so that is part of why i am playing in the city “over 40” league where every now and then i hear someone shout an obscenity when they miss a shot, rather than just mumbling it under their breath while playing in a church gym. 🙂

    DSC_0031-2SIDE NOTE – i bought 3 signs at the weekly uwsp surplus sale for $1 each. i’m painting tapestry on them for church use (like temporary-use median signs on the road). with the $3 cost of the paint pen that i bought to letter the sign this means that i will have spent $6 total for three signs. booyah.

    SIDE SIDE NOTE – i think that pam likes me playing in the “over 40” league just because she enjoys me hobbling around after each game. my pain is her entertainment.

    she wiped it on her rear


    i go to the main street portage county public library pretty often. my family is made up of readers so i often find myself checking out and returning books. since the library also has free wifi i often use it as an “office” when i am looking for a place other than emy j’s to do some work. today i went to the library to return, check out and use it as an office.

    while checking things out today my library card didn’t initially work. the librarian responded “there is probably some dirt or something on the card preventing the barcode from being read.” this made perfect sense but she then added, “i’ll just wipe it on my magic rear.”

    that’s right. she said she was going to wipe it on her butt and before i could say “NO” she moved it to her backside and wiped my card on her rear.  when she tried the barcode reader again it didn’t work.

    i guess her butt wasn’t so magic after all.

    since i have no plans to use my now butt-wiped card again, i will get a new library card the next time i am at the library.

    articles on creativity

    the saints

    the psyblog has an interesting series of post on creativity. they are well worth the time it takes to read them. i particularly enjoyed the “dark side of creativity” and “why people fear creative ideas” because it’s not often that you see anyone talk about the negative side of creativity.  here’s one example from the article “why people fear creative ideas”:

    people deal with the disconnect by saying one thing, "creativity is good, we want more of it!" but actually rejecting creative ideas for being impractical.

    good stuff.