14 May 2009

Three Crises: An Evening Chat … World, Church, Life

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Bible, Bobby's World, Contemporary Ethics, Hermeneutics, Ministry, Preaching
Infinite Crisis

Infinite Crisis

Its the late evening here in the desert … as I write this I am on the back porch by the pool, laptop and I looking up at the starry sky … makes me ask how reflective are we? How introspective can we be? How honest can we be with ourselves and with others? Has anyone else noticed? Or am I just so delusional that I have failed to have eyes and ears to truly see and hear? Let me tell you what I see and then you tell me what you see.

I am only forty years old and the world I live in has drastically changed in my own lifetime. It seems to me that the world is in the throes of an identity crises.

We are moving (with more velocity daily) from a Euro-American centric world to an Asian one. The rate of change is intimidating and mind numbingly immense. My barely two hundred year old non-denomination denomination is locked in a life and death mid-life crises that mirrors the chaos of the wider cultural earthquake. And to make matters worse I, Bobby Valentine, am also in the middle of an identity crises! A thread that runs through all of these crises is a poltergeist comically named “Postmodernism.” It is both the engine that drives SOME of the tremors and a result of the aftershocks from these cracks in the “Modern” world.

I grew up believing, and was comfortable with, a certain perspective of the world. This, whether I like it or not and no matter how patriotic one may be, is changing and will never be the same again. Crises!

My non-denomination denomination has been trying to come to terms with itself for nearly the length of my life and the old “identity” markers have caved because they were built upon sand of Modernity and the inevitable storm has seen them crash and wash away. Crises!

My personal identity was wrapped up so much in being a husband and even Dad that I never stopped to consider how unsure a foundation that really is. Storm came: Divorce from hell. Every other weekend dad. Illusions shattered. Crises!!!!

The crises around us are not a small dust devil. Rather a world wide Hurricane Katrina that will alter the maps of the world, the maps of our religious selves and our “personal” life permanently. The crises of the surrounding world yanked my head out of the sand when the Grim Reaper knocked on my door …

For the last year and a half I have been trying to “see” me, see my church, and see my world as it really is. I am not so sure I have done that successfully. I was already looking before the Reaper arrived but he made me do some serious soul searching in all the above areas. To find out who “I” really am I talked to a counselor, cried, cussed, lamented … and more than any other time in my life I became Israel! He who struggles with God!! God made me look in the mirror and ask tough questions of my world, of my non-denomination denomination, and my family. The most fundamental question of all was “WHO are you Bobby V?”

To answer the question God sent me to his Word. He asked me to listen. He asked me to be silent. He asked me to kneel. He asked me to “give IT up” … whatever “it” is. He drove me, yes DROVE me, into the Word. I began to realize that the Word is not simply about or even primarily about elders, deacons, and names on a building. The Story actually has surprisingly little interest in this kind of stuff. God challenged me to hear IN his written word his Word for my world, my church, and my life.

I saw, in the written word, that David lived out the Word in a way that was true and yet different than Moses. That the early church revered the written word but sought how to hear the word to them in their own day. I recalled reading in the written word where Paul was accused of seeking popularity for preaching a “law free” gospel (cf Gal 1.10). Sometimes being true to the written Word in our own day causes us to look like “liberal” to those who only see but never understand (meditate on Matthew 12.1-14 and 13.13-15).

For a year and a half I have munched on Scripture like I have never before. Psalms is my daily companion. The Gospels pull me in in a way that I just did not understand at one time. My life has a rhythm that was not there once before. The Story of God in scripture and being with him in worship have been God’s tool of giving me eyes to see what I could not before … and frankly would have preferred not too!!

I have learned that is it is ok to embrace a truly resident alien point of view. This alleviates the stress of the Asian shift in the balance of power in the world. I’ve learned it is ok to pledge allegiance to the kingdom of God regardless of the ramifications. I have learned that my non-denomination denomination has been shaped by the “myth” of Modernity rather than sola scriptura as we have claimed.

Indeed I have come to believe that my task is to help the church live with in the counter world envisioned by the written world in the power of the Living Word. And I have learned that my own identity is not in a marriage, fatherhood or anything else but hidden in the Messiah … which is why I began to wear a new ring … a black ring with a crown of thorns woven on it.

Our world is changing and drastically so. But we have safety and refuge within God’s global kingdom. Our church is changing and it will not look like it did in AD 50; AD 1000; AD 1878; AD 1906 or even AD 1970. But Jesus is training us to seek out “old treasures” as well as “new (meditate on Matthew 13.52). And my own life will never again be like it was prior to December 16, 2007 … never! Just like the world will not go back. The church can’t go back even if some have illusions that they can. We see to weather the crises by being saturated with God’s Story and shaped by it that we can live our faithfully and truthfully in our own day and our own time the Gospel of Christ crucified and the reign of God over all.

Well I have rambled long enough. I invite you to watch the video below. It will help us see just how our world is changing … and ask the question from a kingdom standpoint: What does it all mean?  The video is called “Did You Know?”

23 Responses to “Three Crises: An Evening Chat … World, Church, Life”

  1. Falantedios Says:

    I think it means that God has always been on the move.

    He loves his people even when they get bogged down, but He is always on the move, and keeping up with Him takes more than a Franchise Agreement (thanks, Jay Guin — that phrase will be in my head for the rest of my life).

  2. Tim Archer Says:

    I see your personal changes as good one. I hope we all are growing and maturing in the same way.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  3. Patrick Mead Says:

    I don’t know if this is good or bad news, but I have found that God likes to KEEP us in an identity crisis so that the only one that stays secure is our identity in Him. I’ve been confused and amused for decades now and, if anything, it is intensifying. Hang on, buckle up, and ride the ride. Not much in the way of advice, but I’m not much of an advice giver…

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I have always found an interesting tension in knowing God wants ME, “just as I am” to be an indispensable part of the church while at the same time finding my identity in Christ. It makes me dizzy contemplating it.

    Excellent post.


  5. Stoogelover Says:

    Well THAT explains why, for the last dozen years of my work in ministry, I felt completely overwhelmed and inadequate for the work. I feel like I want to take a nap, but I’m not sure I’d recognize the world when I woke up!

  6. preacherman Says:

    Interesting post yet again.
    All has been said that needs to be said.
    There is much great wisdom on this page. 🙂

  7. Anonymous Says:

    wow! powerfully said. thanks for sharing this


  8. westcoastwitness.com Says:

    Funny I ran across this today – I’m in the midst of writing a lesson on Identity based on Philippians 3.

    Great video, btw. I posted that on my own blog a few months ago. Very eye-opening!

  9. Bobby Ross Says:

    Great post. Very thought-provoking.

  10. Gardner Hall Says:

    Thanks for your sincerity and openness! May God be with you and with all of us as we struggle with self identification and work to balance independence with respect for good aspects of our heritage.

  11. Jason Browning Says:

    Very interesting! Thanks!

  12. Keith Brenton Says:

    What does it all mean?

    Well, from the corner of the kingdom where I hope I’m standing right now, it means that change throughout all of creation could accelerate exponentially …

    … and God would still be God.

    Anyone feel like singing Abide With Me?

  13. Missionary's Missionary Says:

    God is already using every ounce of your pain and your hard-earned insights to bless his kingdom. Thank you!

  14. cwinwc Says:

    Spend some more time on that porch Bro- great thoughts, open and honest. “Non-denomination – denomination” – now that’s an identity crisis.

  15. Brad Adcock Says:

    And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord .” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord , but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:11-13)

    You, my friend, have been listening for the whisper. I’ve struggled and tried to listen for it myself in everything that goes on around me. I got a hint of it reading this post. Thanks for touching me today.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    I am afraid we can’t go back. We have gone so far, even to far. “Non-denomination – denomination” – “now that’s an identity crisis.” I agree with that. Glad to not be in it.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Sorry I hit the submit button to fast. Bobby I pray for your struggle. We all in many ways struggle. Life is hard. Good is God and eternity will not be soon enough. You said many things I appreciated and some I will not argue about.

  18. RICH Says:

    gee whizzzz Bobbie
    what does it mean

    get with it boy
    if we as a church become
    unprofitable(a compared to what)from god’s point of view not teaching his love properly,some one will find out why….
    and CHANGE becomes a good thing

    get used to that my friend and be thankful you see .
    no matter how nearsighted we are
    if we do not learn to help each other, see the work that needs to be completed and risk our self being the “fool” we think god help us were not.
    then were lost in our secrete life.
    so Bobbie run to the cliff and jump we got Christ’s parachute


  19. Matthew Says:

    Thank you for sharing and in fact I have been writing the cofc looking or struggling with identity. I think it was a lot easier years ago.

  20. Maria Says:

    I wrote a long comment then I deleted it and was compelled to tell you not what I see but what He has asked me to see, which at times is so out of focus I swear I think I am going blind. This is what He tells me, “Maria, no matter what things look like, no matter how bad things have gotten, even if you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and you feel the pressure closing in on you that you can hardly breath, and even when your tears won’t and can’t be held back, and you swear that if you bend anymore you will break in two, despite all this, this is what I want and need you to see. I want you to lift your eyes up and look unto the hills, for there is where your help will come from.” Then He gently lifts my chin, because He knows how stubborn I can be at times and shows me and He adds one more thing, He says, “don’t look back, just keep your eyes on me.”
    And because people who have been touched by the Master are never free again to live the way their poor, tired hearts sometimes wish they could, I look up unto the hills and put my trust in the One that has asked me to do so.


  21. dell kimberly Says:

    To me it means we can no longer approach religion from an intellectual standpoint and remain relevant. Our point of connection with the world will change. God is the only constant.

  22. rich Says:


    it means when the guys that press the start button on that partical accellorator in sweeden to find the inner workings of our reality
    we better be a praying people.
    and the salt of the earth…

    john mark said something about the tower of bable that reminds me of that little button.

    bless you and all

  23. fraizerbaz Says:

    And yet another sign that we are in the last days… won’t be long now.

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