The Blog of Gordon Pruitt the Pastor of St. Matthew's United Methodist Church in Richmond Virginia

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Death to self

Been reading a devotional from Dallas Willard's book, Renovation of the Heart. Here are some of the highlights from my reading today:

“A shift toward self-denial is needed to reorder the six dimensions of the human self in subordination to God. Christian spiritual formation rests on this indispensable foundation of death to self and cannot proceed except insofar as the foundation is being firmly laid and sustained.”

“Our survival cannot be the ultimate point of reference in our world. We must not treat ourselves as God. This selfless life enable us to do for the first time what we want to do: be truthful, transparent, helpful, and sacrificially loving, with joy.”

“At the beginning of my day, I commit my day to the Lord’s care while meditatively praying through the Lord’s Prayer and possibly the 23rd Psalm. Then I meet everything that happens as sent, or at least permitted, by God. I meet it resting in the hand of his care. I no longer have to manage the weather, airplanes, and people.”

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

what are the essential beliefs? Are there any?

A 17th century Moravian named Rupertus Meldenius said, "in essential beliefs we have unity and non-essential we have liberty." I have seen many Methodist churches quote this when talking about their beliefs or doctrines. What is interesting is that John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church never shared exactly what he believed those essential beliefs were.

In the first chapter of Rob Bell's book, Velvet Elvis, Bell writes about a similar topic. He writes about trampoline springs and blocks. Bell says this about the springs,

"when we jump, we begin to see the need for springs. The springs help make sense of these deeper realities that drive how we live every day. The springs aren't God. The springs aren't Jesus. The springs are statements and beliefs about our faith that help give words to the depth that we are experiencing in our jumping. I would call these the doctrines of the Christian faith. They aren't the point. They help us understand the point, but they are a means and not an end."

Bell contrasts springs with bricks.
"Somebody recently gave me a videotape of a lecture given by a man who travels around speaking about the creations of the world. At one point in his lecture, he said if you deny that God created the world in six literal 24 hour days, then you are denying that Jesus ever died on the cross. It's a bizarre leap of logic to make, i would say. But he was serious. It hit me while i was watching that for him faith isn't a trampoline; it's a wall of bricks. Each of the core doctrines for him is like an individual brick that stacks on top of the others. If you pull one out, the whole wall starts to crumble. It appears quite string and rigid, but if you begin to rethink or discuss even one brick, the whole thing is in danger. Like he said, no six-day creation equals no cross. Remove one, and the whole wall wobbles."

I think i agree with Bell but i not only have springs but i also have bricks. One spring for me is the creation story. I believe Adam and Eve were real people but if it was proved as many people believe that they are fictional characters being used to point to spiritual truth it would not change my faith or cause my faith to crumble. The creation story is a spring that helps me gain a greater understanding of who God is.

A brick in my belief system is the physical resurrection of Jesus. To me, without the resurrection, you don't have anything. If it was proven that Jesus did not resurrect that would cause my faith to crumble.

Below are 2 slides from Dan Kimbell's blog from a few weeks ago that touches on the same topic that i agree with for the most part.

What are your essentials and non-essentials?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Put down the bottled water and pick up the tap water

This month's fast company has an article about the $50 billion bottled water business. Here are some of the highlights (low lights) and quotes.
-24% of bottled water we buy is tap water repackaged by Coke and Pepsi
-Fiji Water produces more than a million bottles a day, while more than half the people in Fiji do not have reliable drinking water.
-We pitch into landfills 38 billion water bottles a year--in excess of $1 billion worth of plastic.
-Worldwide, 1 billion people have no reliable source of drinking water; 3000 children a day die from diseases caught from tainted water.
"Bottled water isn't healthier, or safer, than tap water. Indeed, while the United States is the single biggest consumer in the world's $50 billion bottled water market, it is the only one of the top four- the others are Brazil, China, and Mexico--that has universally reliable tap water. Tap water in this country, with rare exceptions, is impressively safe. It is monitored constantly, and the test results made public."

The article closes, "once you understand the resources mustered to deliver the bottle of water, it's reasonable to ask as you reach for the next bottle, not just 'does the value to me equal the 99 cents I'm about to spend?' but 'does the value equal the impact I'm about to leave behind?' Simply asking the question takes the carelessness out of the transaction. And once you understand where the water comes from, and how it got here, it's hard to look at that bottle in the same way again."

I figure 50 Billion dollars could solve the world's water problems. What do you think?