Finding the Art in Everything

26 February, 2009

The Church

A few recent things challenged my resigned separation from the church.

So yesterday, I called my friend Allen.

He recently became pastor of an unconventional church just north of San Fransisco. I called him because, even after delivering a sermon called "I hate people" (and he meant it), he still has a place in and for a church.

I asked, "How can you love the church after what the institution and its people have done to you?" How can you love something that's so broken?"

He is doing a 5 week series on The Church, the Bride of Christ. He said, "I love the Church because of what it really--biblically--is, not because of the Western modern traditions that now govern it. "

"And what is that, exactly? What makes a real church?"

He replied:

"The local church is a community of regenerated believers who confess Jesus Christ as Lord. In obedience to Scripture they organize under qualified leadership, gather regularly for preaching and worship, observe the biblical sacraments of baptism and communion, are unified by the Spirit, are disciplined for holiness, and scatter to fulfill the great commandment and the great commission as missionaries to the world for God's glory and their joy.

The marks of the church are:

1) Regenerated church membership - you met Jesus and you've changed. (ACTS 2:38-41)

2) Qualified Leadership (ACTS 2:42, 6:1-6, 8:14, 14:23)

3) Gather for preaching and worship (ACTS 2:42, 47)

4) Sacraments rightly administered (ACTS 2:42)

5) Unified by the spirit - we agree on what we will and will not fight over. (ACTS 2:44, 1 Cor 1:10)

6) Disciplined for holiness (Matt 18:15-17, Gal 6:1, 1 Cor 5:1-13, Titus 3:10-11, 2 Thess. 3:14-16)

7) Obey great commandment (ACTS 2:45)

8) Obey great commission (ACTS 2:47)

How can we not love what this is?"

24 February, 2009


A student just gave me a pile of maps that came out of some National Geographic magazines. He's Chinese, so I am not sure where he came by ones that were ten years old, but he presented them with a flourish.

"I think you like these," he said.

He has no idea. Maps are some of my very favorite things. My dad got National Geographic for years when I was growing up, and we were allowed to look at the magazines as long we we kept the maps tucked in their correct issue. I was too young to read it, but I would look at the pictures and pore over the maps. I have map of the city of London covering my desk at home and have many of the streets memorized. The maps on the wall of my classroom are not only useful teaching tools, but cosmic verification that I am in my predestined place.

When my parents moved to Florida, they had to dispose of all the magazines with their carefully-filed maps. I remarked to a friend last weekend what a loss this was. Ten years of magazines and maps in the dumpster!

How peculiar that a pile of these maps finds its way to me today.

23 February, 2009


I eat dinner with my friend and her family most Mondays. She's Italian, and quite an accomplished cook. I never know what we'll eat, but it's usually the best I've ever had of its kind. She makes well some very gourmet and complicated dishes, but the best part of Mondays are often their simplicity: Last night she made--from scratch, as she makes everything--ravioli with sauce and meatballs. It was the best I've ever had.

I realized how Italian I was, too, when it occurred to me that I consider sauce and pasta the highest form of comfort food.