Trail Blazer Ministries
Base Camp for Life: A Spiritual Journey...

Is Heaven a Place… or is it more?

1:45 PM
Is Heaven a Place… or is it more?




A while back there was some controversy over Doug Pagitt asking Todd Friel if Heaven was a place. In essence he asked, “If heaven is a place, where is it?” Todd was very indignant yet seemed unwilling or unable to answer… Many overlooked that as it is more acceptable to just “believe” in a “place” called Heaven. Even theologian N.T. Wright seemed to indicate in his recent interviews that Heaven is more than a place…

The issue is deeper than whether Heaven is a literal place. Jesus stated it was “at hand”, “Near” and “within you”… this seems to indicate that Heaven is more than a place if it is a literal place.

In a sense I agree with Doug Paggit yet in a sense I disagree.

Heaven is often thought of as the end place where we as believers in Jesus spend eternity. I agree, yet there is something missing in many people’s understanding as the “Heaven” now will not be as it is after the regeneration of all things. In that age, there is a renewed Heaven and Earth… meaning that this heaven and earth now will one day be restored to its original glory yet even more glorious than it was originally. We will move from “It is good.” to It is perfect in Christ Jesus.

One major issue is that many think of time in a linear fashion. We have all seen time lines where time is laid out in a line so we can see history in an overview. We see in a biblical view, Creation, Noah, Abraham, King David, Jesus, and the New Creation in its fullness. Yet if one notices time lines also have parallel history, Columbus discovering the Americas and Naval expeditions of the Ming Dynasty happened in the same timeline yet never interacted. (Though there is some indication Columbus may have used the knowledge that the Chinese gained in their expedition but that is a huge sideline) They paralleled each other in history. If we go off the map a bit, there is a separate history for Earth and Mars for meteorites have hit Mars that never hit Earth. If one can start seeing that history and time is brought into other dimensions one might start beginning to understand that when we bring in eternal things time begins to even take on a deeper and broad perspective.

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"One Little Miracle"

5:23 PM
(You know, I always wanted to be a DJ, so this one's going out to everyone here at TrailBlazer! I didn't know that it was a "Christian" song until after I googled the lyrics, but I think it has a great message. If anyone would like to google the YouTube video and post it up here, that would be awesome.)

"One Little Miracle"
By Hawk Nelson

I know sometimes it's hard to find the strength to turn the page
When all of our tomorrows look like used up yesterdays

Maybe this path we're taking
Could really be the road to breaking free
Are you with me?

One little revolution could turn it all around
Back to the Kingdom we once knew

Just a little bit of me, just a little bit of you
One little miracle to get us through

Broken, empty promises are all we knew before
Our fathers' dreams of better days lay shattered on the floor

It's not too late to start believin'
Take me by the hand
I'm reaching out
How about now

One little revolution could turn it all around
Back to the Kingdom we once knew

Just a little bit of me, and a little bit of you
One little miracle to get us through
We can right the wrong
From this moment on

One little revolution could turn it all around
Back to the Kingdom we once knew
Just a little bit of me, and a little bit of you
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My Democrat friends...

1:11 PM
Just came back from a mini-tour from Shelby, MT. I found it funny the way my band members railed against the Republicans. I don't mind pointed criticism, which is healthy, but an outlook that says everything Republican is bad and full of corporate greed, while the Democrat position is the solution. I heard comments like, "I think most Montanans are clay pigeons." (reference to Brian Schweitzer's TV ad shooting clay pigeons) Other comments were tearing down "Joe the plummer", Sarah Palin, and the IQ of Republicans.
What I can't stand is not because they hate Republicans, but they think Democrats have all answers. None of them understood free-market, none of them saw the beauty of the community of Shelby, then putting it together that the people of Shelby are primarily Christian Republicans.
We need Christians (not partisan bickering on both sides) to show the world true community. More and more of us need to help our neighbors, not always identifying our enemy.
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Colloquial Spiciness of the Week: Dueling Views of Jesus

8:31 PM

Since it seems we should move on from talking about Religion and Politics, I think a more relevant subject deserves recognition this week. I can’t stand talking about politics anymore, anyhow. This election season has me completely worn out from listening to politicians blabber. What I’d like to talk about this week stems from a discussion we had on one of Michael’s posts a couple weeks ago that led to the question of who Jesus was. I don’t want to get into how Jews vs. Christians view Jesus like the previous discussion, but I’d like to explore how Emerging Christians see Jesus compared to Conventional Christians. Essentially, what makes us different and why.


“Jesus, I believe, saw that his contemporaries were stuck in their own suicidal system, driven by their own defective framing story. He proposed a radical alternative—a profoundly new framing story that he called good news. News, of course, means a story—a story of something that has happened or is happening that you should know about. Good news, then, would mean a story that you should know about because it brings hope, healing, joy, and opportunity. Jesus was saying, in essence, “There are a lot of bad stories in our world. But I have a good story that frames the bad ones, that puts them in a new light, that says they aren’t the last word. I have a good story that inspires healing and transformative action in our world.”


The preceding quote is from Brian McLaren in his book, “Everything Must Change.” This statement sets the stage for the questions he asks next; comparing the two views (I’ll paraphrase his words to keep this short).


The Human Situation: What is the story we find ourselves in?

Conventional View: God created the world as perfect, but because of Adam and Eve’s sin, we have evil and injustice.

Emerging View: God created the world as good, but human beings—as individuals, and as groups—have rebelled against God and filled the world with evil and injustice.


Basic Questions: What questions did Jesus come to answer?

Conventional View: How can individuals be saved from eternal punishment in hell and instead go to heaven? How can God help individuals be happy and successful until then?

Emerging View: What must be done about the mess we’re in? The mess refers both to the general human condition and to its specific outworking among his contemporaries living under domination by the Roman Empire (Kingdom of God vs. kingdom of man).


Jesus’ Message: How did Jesus respond to the crisis?

Conventional View: Jesus says, in essence, “If you don’t want to burn in hell, repent of your sins and go to heaven when the earth is destroyed.” This is the good news.

Emerging View: Jesus says, in essence, “God loves humanity, even in its lostness and sin. God graciously invites everyone and anyone to turn from his/her current path and follow a new way. Trust me and become my disciple, and you will be transformed, and you will participate in the transformation of the world, which is possible, beginning right now.” This is the good news.


Purpose of Jesus: Why is Jesus important?

Conventional View: Jesus came to solve the problem of “original sin,” meaning that he helps qualified individuals not to be sent to hell for their sins.

Emerging View: Jesus came to become the Savior of the world, meaning he came to save the earth and all it contains from its ongoing destruction because of human evil.


“The conventional view is very familiar to many of us; it is frequently defined as ‘orthodoxy’ and any departure from it as ‘heresy.’ It contains much of value; however, more and more of us agree that for all its value, it does not adequately situate Jesus in his original context, but rather frames him in the context of religious debates within Western Christianity, especially debates in the sixteenth century.”


This was just a small slice from Brian’s book and I encourage everyone to read it if you get a chance. Brian says he believes Jesus saw that his contemporaries were stuck in their own suicidal system, driven by their own defective framing story. To make what we are doing here with Trailblazer Ministries more apparent to people that don’t understand what we’re all about, I think we need to try to point out the differences that contrast the paradigms. It has been said amongst our group that if Jesus were to return to earth today and settle in for a while on the streets of Bozeman, he would probably be rejected for being too radical (or a “dissident”—from previous post on VR). For discussion I would like to hear other contrasts that people might have had with the conventional view and continue with six unintended negative consequences of that view. Jesus’ good news was and is better news than we have been led to believe!


Cheers, see you all on Thursday,

Ryan

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The Velvet Revolution of Christianity

9:23 PM
Building from last week’s titillating discussion of Religion and Politics, I would like to continue with some thoughts from the former president of the Czech Republic, Valclav Havel. He became a leading figure in the Velvet Revolution of 1989, the bloodless end to communism in Czechoslovakia. Many similarities can be found from Havel’s circumstances in Czechoslovakia in the 1980’s to our present political situation in America. Here is an excerpt from his essay, “Power of the Powerless”:

“The original and most important sphere of activity, one that predetermines all the others, is simply an attempt to create and support the independent life of society as an articulated expression of living within the truth. In other words, serving truth consistently, purposefully, and articulately, and organizing this service. This is only natural, after all: if living within the truth is an elementary starting point for every attempt made by people to oppose the alienating pressure of the system, if it is the only meaningful basis of any independent act of political import, and if, ultimately, it is also the most intrinsic existential source of the "dissident" attitude, then it is difficult to imagine that even manifest "dissent" could have any other basis than the service of truth, the truthful life, and the attempt to make room for the genuine aims of life.”

Havel and his colleagues were not dissidents just because they thought it was a novel idea at the time. In the pursuit of truth, they were thrown into dissent by a personal sense of responsibility. “You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society.”

What similarities do you notice with Havel’s circumstances in totalitarian Czechoslovakia and our current political scene in America? I think Havel’s tale of the green grocer and my neighbors that proudly display their Obama or McCain posters have a lot in common.

Do you notice any similarities with the Velvet Revolution and the rise of Emergent Christianity?

I think this discussion comes full circle back to another discussion we had here at this blog over a month ago with our friend Nick. Nick, I hope you’re still following our developments because we love your feedback. I think for the benefit of people like Nick that would rather not be associated with the term “dissident,” we need to be a little more apparent on what we are doing here and why a “Velvet Revolution” is necessary to return popular American Christianity back to the genuine pursuit of truth. If it were true that “the failure of the revolutionary philosophy is ultimate and fatal,” as Nick puts it, then we might as well give up and go back to our obedient conformist ways.

“All revolutions begin with a few people recognizing the lie and beginning in small ways to live the truth in the face of the system.” (Fr. Emmett Jarrett, TSSF)
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The Ordinary Radicals

9:42 AM
I came across this video, and it looked interesting.


The Ordinary Radicals - Trailer from Jamie Moffett on Vimeo.
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Looking For a New Friend?

3:43 PM
Just FYI if anyone is considering buying a new pet, I'm trying to find homes for these two dogs from Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter. They're both really cool dogs, as are all of the pets at HOV, and I'd be happy to help anyone who is interested in adopting them. Both dogs come spayed/neutered and vaccinated:



NightTrain:




NightTrain is my buddy! If I had space for him, I would have taken him home weeks ago :-)

He's easily the best looking dog in the shelter right now, and I'd hazard a guess that he is a purebred malamute. NightTrain came into the shelter as a stray, and he tends to be shy around people. He is still coming out of his shell, but with consistent care, he would make a great pet. He loves to go for a run, and at 5 years old, he would make a great companion for someone looking for a high-energy pet.


Ruwitz:

Ruwitz is a well-mannered old gentleman. At 10 years old, he's looking for an easy-going home where he can lounge around - preferably in front of a warm fireplace :-) He's still very active for his age, and enjoys going for leisurely walks outside and rolling over to have his tummy scratched. He's well-behaved, housetrained, and good tempered both on the leash and off. Ruwitz would make an excellent companion for elderly dog-lovers, or anyone looking for a mild-mannered pet.



If anyone is interested in meeting either of these dogs (or both!), you can contact HOV at: 388-9399
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TrailNotes Newsletter Update

2:45 PM
Hi everyone,

I am currently in the process of updating our "Trail Notes" newsletter. For those of you aren't familiar with the newsletter, it can be found by going to our website and clicking "Trail Notes" at the top. If anyone has any contributions for the October-November newsletter, please send them to me at: trailblazerministries@ymail.com

(His) Peace,
Michael
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Some more Spicy Talk: A Christians role in politics.

10:11 AM
I'll keep this short but our next discussion will be:

Myth, Lie, or Half-Truth?: Religion and Politics Do Not Mix

What role do Christians have a responsibility in when it comes to political activism. I'm talk more than just McCain-Obama, but social issues as well. To often Christians remain neutral and let our country and world take it's own course, because "God is in control."
We will discuss "change" from a Christian perspective, and why we need to be well informed about social issues.
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This Week's Spicy Talk: Sam and the Sheep Pen

6:59 PM
What does it mean to look at the world through God's eyes? That's the topic of this week's "Spicy Talk," as we explore the story of the prophet Samuel and his search for a new king... in a sheep pen, of all places!



"The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." - 1 Samuel 16:7



I've always enjoyed the book of Samuel, because it is one of the more epic books of the Bible. It's storyline would make an incredible movie. In 1 Samuel 16, King Saul has been rejected by God, and we find the prophet Samuel going in search of a new king for the nation of Israel. God has told Samuel that the next king will come from the household of a man named Jesse, so Samuel packs his bags and heads south to the small town of Bethlehem, where Jesse and his sons live. Jesse is the town's resident cellist, you see, and.... oh, wait, that's a different story.


Anyway, Samuel's about to go down to Jesse's place and look for the new king, but he suddenly realizes that he can't exactly barge into Jesse's house and announce that he's looking for a king. For one thing, the reigning king, Saul, probably won't be very happy to hear that he's been divinely laid off from what looked like a promising career as a powerful tyrant - I mean, really, who would want to lose a job like that? And then there's that whole deal about barging into sheepherders' houses and announcing that you're looking for a king making you look somewhat crazy and all.


So Samuel comes up with a plan. He takes a head of cattle down to Jesse's spread and invites Jesse and the boys out to a sacrifice in the local park - which was kind of like a barbecue, with deep religious significance. (I'm still waiting for my church to do this in lieu of the annual church picnic.)


When they get to the park, Samuel looks around at Jesse's boys and catches sight of Eliab - a big, well-built fellow who probably looked like someone I saw coming out of the Hyatt House in Livingston on a Friday night. Eliab wasn't the sort of guy you'd want to tangle with. In fact, he was the kind of guy who could send the Philistines diving for their foxholes with a single, well-placed glare.


"Ah ha!" Samuel says. "Here's the guy I've been looking for! When it comes to laying the smackdown on Israel's enemies, this is the right man for the job!"


So he goes over to anoint Eliab as king, when suddenly God taps Samuel on the shoulder and whispers in his ear: "This isn't the one. Yes, he's taller than all the others and he can swing a fist like nobody's business, but I haven't chosen him to be king. The Lord doesn't look at the things man looks at. Man looks at outward appearances, but the Lord looks at the heart."


You see, God had to challenge Samuel to gain a new perspective on life. Samuel had been looking at things from the human perspective - big guys who win barroom brawls get to be king. After all, the last king, Saul, was head-and-shoulders taller than the rest! But God wanted to teach Samuel to see the world from a different perspective - the Divine perspective. And I believe that's God's challenge to us today: to learn to see the world as He sees it, even when that flies in the face of conventional wisdom. This Thursday, we will discuss what it means to see the world through God's eyes in relation to three different areas of life: how we view others, how we view organized religion, and how we view ourselves. Hang on tight, because we're in for a wild ride!


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