bonar crump

bonar crump
husband - father - reader - runner - picker - grinner - lover - sinner

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Beer at Church?

by Tony Campolo
via Red Letter Christians

I found a church in England, not far outside of London, in a very densely urban community, a congregation that took up every seat in the sanctuary. What’s more, they had to have multiple services in order to hold the crowds.

When I preached there, my driver couldn’t find a parking place. I asked the pastor, “With so many people, what room do you have for parking?” The pastor told me that almost everyone in the church came from walking distance. That amazed me because I wondered how a church could get so many people from such a small area.

The pastor explained to me that every other Saturday night they make arrangements to rope off a city block. The police cooperate. They bring in a barrel of beer and a barrel of wine. They add to this a good band. He then went on to say that a hundred of his young people come to this block party and start dancing. It doesn’t take long before people come out of their houses and join them. After a night of dancing and having a good-time party, these young church members say to the people they have been partying with, “How about coming to church with me tomorrow? If you are willing, I will stop by and pick you up.” In reality, it happens and the pastor said, “Every week we pick up about 30 or 40 people who come to our church for the first time. Church growth goes on easily from that point.”

Some may see this as a dangerous outreach method for a church to utilize. Questions like surrounding the image of the church in the public eye or “Won’t people drink to much and get drunk” are sure to arise. But the beauty of this is that people are being met where they are at and told about the life changing relationship they can have with Jesus Christ.I say Praise God!

Monday, May 30, 2011


by Jamie the Very Worst Missionary

There’s this beach way up in Northern California, where they used to dump all the city garbage and crap right into the water. Like, they would literally back the garbage trucks up to the bluffs and launch their shit into the sea. Household trash, appliances, logging refuse, cars, everything…. So messed up, right?! It got so polluted that they finally closed the area in the 60’s - just roped the whole place off because it was just too dang gross to be out there.

The first time I hiked down to that same beach with El Chupacabra was more than 40 years after its closure, after it had been reopened as a state park. We had to pass by piles of rotting kelp, and beyond the smelly, high tide deposits of dead fish and empty beer cans and layers of mucky brown foam. Really, everything about the trip toward the water screamed, “Um. Dump! You’re visiting a dump!!” And I felt more and more skeptical about the sand filling my shoes, thinking, “Is this toxic sand?...It smells toxic….Great. Now I have Chernobyl feet. My toes are gonna fall off….Welcome to Mendocino County, everybody! Where a Great White shark will eat your head and toxic beaches will kill the rest of you!…. God, oh, God, why are we here? Why are we heeeere....Crap….” And so on, and so forth.

We finally slid down the (toxic!) sand embankment, to where the water was swishing against the shore, and the sun glistened and danced across the wet surfaces of the rocks. And that’s when I realized that the beach was covered, like covered, in glass. Green and brown and red, with flecks of blue and bits of turquoise nestled among what looks like billions of white diamonds. All of it rounded off into smooth stones from so many years of tumbling along in the surf. It was a stunning sight - One of those crazy beautiful moments in life that catches you off guard and takes your breath away, because you never ever expected it to be just…so…. perfect… Ya know?

Anyway. We stayed the day there, looking for treats in what used to be trash. Imagining if this had been the handle of a teacup, or if that was the rim of a medicine bottle. Sincerely amazed at how the sea could turn our error around on us, and delight us by taking what was a recipe for disaster and, instead, serving up a national treasure.

Since that day, I’ve kept a wooden tray full of “Glass Beach” on the dining room table. I guess it’s a centerpiece of sorts. Sometimes I scatter a couple of tea light candles in with the collection of milky colored stones, but I prefer it ‘as is’. Just a few handfuls of beach that El Chupacabra and I scooped up with our bare hands and brought home in an empty McDonald’s bag.

Our centerpiece has become a little bit of a monument to our loved ones over the years. All of our dearest friends have sat with us around the sea glass, at one time or another, sorting it, swirling it, searching through it with distracted fingertips while their souls found the right words to share their stories. That little pile of rocks has been privy to a crap-ton of secrets over the years, as our table became a safe place for our friends to spill their guts. I recently got an email from a friend, stateside, that says with longing, “I need to talk. Can I come over and sort the rocks while I put my whole heart on the table?”

I would swear that these little glass rocks have some sort of therapeutic quality, except that I know they don’t. The truth is, it’s not the rocks that have drawn us back to the table to talk, again and again. I think it’s an altogether different centerpiece that calls us to sit and talk awhile…

That first time I stood on Glass Beach, I cried - I cried, and I thought, “This is what God does!”… God takes our crap offerings, our messed up lives and all of our garbage, and He turns it around. He makes it Beautiful, somehow. Against all odds and despite our own easy skepticism, He Redeems what seems hopelessly trashed, He Rebuilds what seems irreparably broken. Somewhere along the line, this God - the God who will make all things new - became the centerpiece of our lives.

He is the real centerpiece around which we invite our friends to sit and talk. The glass rocks only serve as a quiet reminder that we should delight in the unexpectedness of what God can do when we give Him our shit and let Him transform it. Because, seriously you guys, this is what God does….

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Why Worship Jesus? (part 2)

by Bonar Crump

Previously: part 1

As I ponder and discuss the tiny seed which seems to be taking root in my mind, that “Jesus worship” is a thing of our own creation, I am realizing vast possibilities which I’d never considered before. It seems that the wooden box I’ve carefully constructed over the past 3 decades which serves as a place to hold my faith is being shaken, stretched, and pulled apart at the joints. I wouldn’t say I love this box of mine, but I have invested a great deal of my life in the “perfecting” of my understanding of this belief system we call Christianity. If my box proves to be useless from this point forward then I know that I am better off. I know that a greater, more dynamic, incredibly more diverse understanding of God, faith, and love is to be cherished. However, this is my box…it’s been with me for a long time…I’m comfortable with this box…I never thought I’d outgrow it.

Think I’m sounding overly dramatic? Try this on for size: What if the “second coming of Christ” weren’t a time set apart in the future, but had already happened? What if Pentecost was the “second coming”? Sound crazy enough to weaken the corners of your faith box yet? Hear me out…

At Pentecost the disciples were “filled” with the Holy Spirit. Undeniably, Pentecost was a very specific moment in time that the closest followers of Jesus were inhabited by this “spirit of God” and became very different from that day forward. These men were reportedly transformed in an instant and collectively into a powerful group of Jesus freaks destined to launch the era of Christianity. Dare I say that this group of men “filled with the Spirit” represented the “second coming” of Christ? I just can’t understand why Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened (Matt 24:34).”

Jesus was the Son of God…we are all children of God…Holy Spirit of God fills His children…

It’s very non-linear. It’s very dynamic. It’s very “unboxable” at this level so don’t venture any further in the discussion unless you are confident enough in your own fundamental understanding of who you are as it relates to God. I don’t want to lead anyone astray or warp the truth or proclaim a new paradigm. I’m just trying to observe some of the hardwired belief systems I’ve been taught from a completely new perspective.

For instance, if you look at “second coming” from the perspective that I’ve touched on in the paragraph above, Revelations takes on an entirely different meaning. Is the prophecy of Revelations speaking of a time to come…or…have we been living in the time of Revelations for the past 2,000 years? I know it seems stupid at the moment, but think on it for a bit. What if one of the seals that were broken represented the Holocaust of WWII? All I’m saying is that I’m not scared to spin the kaleidoscope a bit and check out the different patterns being generated by the very same light source.

What I think I’d like to delve into in Part 3 of this topic is the dynamic ways we envision Satan and evil and how they contrast with the views most of us have of Jesus and righteousness. What I’ll argue is that at a deeply collective level we view Jesus as quite passive, weak, and solitary while we view Satan as very dynamic, prolific, virulent, and deeply influential. I think we’ve been duped by our conventional modes of language, icons, and culturally acceptable presentations of Christ within organized religion.

“Hi, my name is Bonar and I’m a heretic.”

Series--> part 1--part 3--part 4--part 5

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Why Worship Jesus?

I’ve really been ruminating on something for a couple weeks now that is close to becoming an obsession. Plainly stated it is this: Where in scripture does Jesus direct us to worship Him?

I’ve often thought about why, in John 7, Jesus didn’t perform a miracle. He’s at the temple, rumors are swirling among the crowd about this man that’s been stirring up trouble amongst the religious folk, and, finaly, as Jesus gets up to teach, he addresses the folks about who he is and tries to put the rumors to rest. If he’s the Son of God then why doesn’t he call angels down to hoist him above the crowd to do his teachings? If Jesus is who he says he is then why not, with a ready crowd at hand, amaze them with a spectacular feat of supernatural activity to prove to these people and to generations to come that he is indeed the Messiah they’ve been looking for? I just don’t get it…I’ve always thought he missed his opportunity with that one. As Jesus’s publicist and PR director, I would have staged an elaborate affair in that moment complete with angels, trumpets, brilliant lighting, and possibly an earthquake thrown in for good measure. He blew it!

All my life as a protestant evangelical I’ve been guided to worship Jesus. I’ve sung songs about “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…There’s just something about that name…” I’ve knelt at the foot of decorative crosses, both big and small, meant to represent the death of Christ for our sins. I’ve read books upon books about the best ways to honor Jesus and the sacrifices he made on our behalf. I’ve gone to foreign countries with the primary intent to introduce, clarify, and present Jesus to financially less fortunate people than myself. I’ve listened to pastors, teachers, laypeople, scholars, professors, and friends profess undying gratefulness to Jesus through prayer, fasting, and lives lived with a keen eye toward avoidance of sin and wrongful lifestyles. It all seems very reverent. It all seems very well-intentioned. It all seems quite holy.

Let me repeat my question I’m becoming obsessed with: Where in scripture does Jesus direct us to worship Him?

I can’t find it anywhere. I can find lots and lots of red letters directing us to live lives of love even towards our enemies, but I can’t find any red letters telling me I should worship Jesus. I can infer this meaning by connecting the dots but Jesus seems to have had a tendency to be quite direct about the simple ways in which we should function and facilitate our love for God and others…why not be direct, candid, and forthcoming about worshipping himself if that had been a primary concern for us?

What if the teachings of Jesus are more important than the person of Jesus? What if the images of Jesus, icons representing Jesus, and songs sung in praise of Jesus weren’t all that important? What if, instead, it’s the instructions of Jesus that are to be held aloft as the banner of our cause? What if our professed love, praise, and worship of Jesus were nothing more than the body paint of an Australian Aborigine…distinctive and undeniably denoting a “christian-like” person, but quite silly and useless if you don’t live in the Outback?

My theory is this: As we busy ourselves with all the ways that we can make ourselves holy, righteous, and blameless via the worship, reverence, and praise of the person of Jesus that in a very very very devious way we are ultimately blinded to the fact that we’re not living in the Outback. That we are made impotent by our overwhelming well-intentioned desire to honor the person we call Jesus…to know him better…to walk with him longer…to have a deeper more sophisticated relationship with him via workshops, prayer, and study.

I would love to hear some people’s take on this subject…

Series--> part 2--part 3--part 4--part 5

Monday, May 23, 2011

How to Partner with God in His Work

by Donald Miller

I’ve heard plenty of Christians talking about partnering with God in His work. I think this is a great concept, but usually when that work is explained it’s incredibly limited. When people partner with God in his work, they’re often talking about building the church, and even then the church is so narrowly defined you’d think God’s work was exclusively about building small, academic institutions in which people study theories about God. I think God is truly working to build those small academic communities we commonly think of as church, but the whole church is much larger and less easily defined. God can see the church but we can only feel around in the dark and recognize it when we see a common Jesus in a neighbors heart.

That said, I think God is working on much, much more than building the church. If we look at the work God has done, we see God has made beauty, so I think creating beauty is Gods work. We see that God has created structure and order, so cultivating a place is God’s work, too. God created love, and seeks to protect love, so creating and protecting love is Gods work and we can partner with him in that work. God created brains that can solve problems, so science is God’s work as well as theater and literature.

When we narrowly define God’s work, we end up channeling people into working for the church, often motivated by guilt, rather than partnering with God in whatever skill or passion he has given to them as a gift, as a way of bonding with him.

So, do you really believe planting a garden is a way to partner with God in his work? Do you believe writing and performing a play is partnering with God in his work? What about studying micro-organisms? What about baking a cake? It’s all God’s world, and in everything we do we can partner with him in his love for it. How do you partner with God?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Throwing Hammers at Glass Churches

by Jeremy Myers
via Till He Comes

Bonar Crump is an aggressive blogger, and his book, Throwing Hammers – The Separation of Church and Self follows the same approach. It is edgy, squirm-in-your-seat, good writing.

He certainly has something to say, even if you don’t like how he says it. Frankly, however, I think he writes what a lot of people think and feel, but do not have the courage to say. Well, Crump says it. And with gusto.

Like what? Well, cover the eyes and ears of your children, here are some examples:
The deceptions of the Christian community never cease to amaze me. Incantations, rituals, robes, hymns, sacred readings, holy relics, holy writings, holy gestures, holy shit…” (p. 17).
We’ve created a system of healing which is completely off-limits to anyone that might be bleeding, infectious, or near death. We’ve segregated ourselves from those we can help the most. We’ve erected so many barriers between our hospitals and the outside world that we have become irrelevant! WTF indeed… (p. 35).
Why do we tolerate pricks within our churches? I’m not talking about among the folks being ministered to—I’m talking about within the ministerial branches of our churches (i.e. pastors, elders, deacons, teachers, nursery workers, etc.). …If you area prick and you are making life difficult for the rest of us then you have to pack your shit and go! We’ve got enough problems around here meeting people’s needs and teaching them how to love their neighbors without you setting such a piss poor example! (p. 59).
I imagine that reading such statements, many Church-Going Christians would say “This is not proper language for a Christian,” to which I imagine Bonar Crump would respond, “Damn right! That’s the entire point!”

And I’ll be honest. He does have a point, especially when he provides solutions for how we can stop being pricks. Check these quotes out:
The path starts with being lovable. (I’m not talking about being cute and cuddly, always smiling, and ready to hug anyone that walks in the door.) …It means to be gracious, compassionate, respectful, tolerant, humble, attentive, patient, kind, gentle, joyous, peaceful, and reverent—it means to be a servant. If you don’t start at this point then everything else is worthless! It’s really not that difficult to gauge—if people around you don’t enjoy your company, are forced to tolerate your speech and/or behavior, and really don’t want to invite you to the party then you being very lovable (p. 58).
Jesus, of course, is the perfect example:
He’s outside sitting on the curb consoling one of the bus drivers who just found out that his wife of 35 years has cancer. He’s across the street on the corner giving a homeless guy a dollar. He’s up the street trying to break up a fight between two guys arguing over a parking space.
He’s engaging in people’s lives—holding the hand of a woman who lost her baby during delivery—buying a beer for the guy at the end of the bar who just got laid off—counseling the couple who are standing on the brink of divorce—consoling the “life partner” of a man who just died of AIDS—trying to talk a kid out of taking his own life (p. 69).

In the end, I believe Crump presents a great vision for “the church” which appears to be much closer to the image of Jesus in Scripture than most of what I see elsewhere today.

Here is how he describes the ideal church:
There wouldn’t be any robes or hymnals or pews. The focus would be on providing the local community with a “rally point” for health and human services. …Our church would be run by social workers, nurses, teachers, program coordinators, and public health professionals. …Every day of the week our building would be used for some sort of event which would assist our community (p. 79).
He goes on to describe this is more detail, but to get it, you will have to read the book for yourself.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Racial Segregation in the South / Spiritual Segregation in Christianity

What many of us do not realize is that the current state of Christian Religion in the United States is quite spectacularly parallel to the Civil Rights Movement of the mid-1900's. The question that must be answered is whether or not spiritual segregation can continue or if one must prevail over the other.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Cloistered Mom

by Bonar Crump

I could never forgive you for all the times you hit me.

I could never forgive you for all the times you chose drugs over me.

I could never forgive you for making Dad’s death all about you.

I could never forgive you for treating me like an adult instead of a child.

I could never forgive you for giving my things to dealers for drugs.

I could never forgive you for making every day seem so dangerous and scary.

I could never forgive you for teaching me how to lie.

I could never forgive you for abandoning me.

I could never forgive you for wanting to kill yourself.

I could never forgive you for screaming in my face.

I could never forgive you for the hateful whispers in my ear.

I could never forgive you for ignoring me.

…but I’m trying to forgive…

I’ve been working to forgive you for all the ways that you failed.

It’s become easier with age as I’ve watched myself fail again and again.

It’s become more necessary now that I have a child to teach and love.

It’s become one of the central goals in my life.

I love you, mom.

I will never stop forgiving you.

I will never stop loving you.

I know that if you had the chance to take it all back you would.

I cherish the love you have for my child.

The love you have for her has made all the difference.

Thank you, God, for teaching me how to forgive.

Thank you, God, for teaching me how to love.

Thank you, God, for using my mom to teach me these things and more.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. We’re in this together.

Crackheads, Simple Theology, and a Better Passion

by Jason Boyett
via Rachel Held Evans

"Last month, I met three little girls who have been permanently removed from any contact with their father. You name the abuse, they endured it. It’s awful. So I have a hard time with people getting worked up about Calvinists or Arminians or Rob Bell being a heretic or Benny Hinn’s hair. There’s a lot more horrible things going on in this world deserving of our anger or passion. Of course, I also have a hard time telling those girls that God, in his sovereignty, ordained for them to have a horrible dad. But I can share with them my simple theology: 
This world is broken, full of sin and sickness and pain and trouble and evil. That all that bad stuff keeps us from having a relationship with God, a relationship He desires. That God sent His perfect Son the the earth, to teach us and show us and example on earth of what God is like. And, most importantly, to take all of that sin and pain and brokenness in the world onto his body and die on the cross for us, because He loves us, unconditionally, so that we can have a relationship with Him. And that we become his adopted kids, so that even though dads on this earth let us down, He’s a Dad who never will. And that once He has us, once we accept what Jesus did, then He never lets us go. That’s really all the theology needed, I think. 
In terms of works, I think reaching out to the least -- the broken, the hurting, the hungry, the poor -- is birthed out of the simple theology that the world is broken, but Jesus has fixed it and is fixing it, and for some crazy reason, trusts us humans to help with the healing. 
So, for these girls, I put that into action by helping their grandmother, who is raising them now, with whatever support she needs (financial, emotional, etc.). By spending time with them and modeling who a man is supposed to be. By getting them in touch with caring women who can show them love. By telling and showing them who Jesus is. 
It’s more simple than we’ve made it out to be, I think."

Friday, May 6, 2011

When “Doing Good” Isn’t Really “Doing Good.”

by Donald Miller

Chesterton said the idea of a sin nature is the only bit of Christian theology we can actually prove. And while there may be other bits of theology we can prove, I do agree the matter of sin nature is undeniable. That said, though, we commonly think of sin nature in remedial terms. Lying, stealing, cheating, these are all sins, while giving to charity or loving another person is not. But to classify sin so simply is to lessen the actual depravity we claim exists in man.

I’d take the idea a step further. I’d say total depravity fuels most of our good works, too. It’s rare to find a successful church or ministry that isn’t fueled by leadership that “needs” control or power or fame or even, sadly, the desire to be Godly, which can also be wrapped up in total depravity.

The difference rests in our motives, of course. Like any addiction, self addiction is a matter of motives and manipulation. Motives can be twisted and we can easily become deceived about why we do what we do. Do we love because we love, or do we love in order to be loved? The first is pure, the second isn’t any more selfless than not loving at all. When we love in order to get security, the person we are loving is just being used, and when we act righteously to gain a sense of security in our spiritual lives, our righteousness isn’t truly righteous. Maybe this is why Paul talks about his righteousness being like filthy rags. It’s all a con game, and the con isn’t so much on others as it is on ourselves.

Freedom from this isn’t easy, and unfortunately like that old Chinese finger trap, the more we try, the worse the situation gets.

The Bible talks about doing good works without our right hand knowing what our left hand is doing. I take this to mean, among other things, we should do the good things we do from a sense of outward flowing love, a love that first requires an inward flowing love. We rarely think of controlling the sin or the self-deceptive motives in our lives as something we stop by ignoring, but this is precisely what I’m recommending.

When we meditate on how much God loves us instead of on how loving we are, we tend to love others selflessly out of a feeling of completion, while if we meditate on how much we love others in order to get them to love us back, we love others out of a sense of compulsion or need. The same is true for our righteousness. When we think about how good we are, we may no longer be good. Instead, we can think about how good God is, and how much we are loved by Him, and then just live in the overflow of those truths. It’s tricky, but one is a prison and the other is freedom.

The good news is that our motives don’t really matter in the eternal scheme of things, at least not to us personally. As people who are one with Christ, God sees in us his son, and the righteousness of his son is the reason he interacts with us. So in loving others, we can be agents of God, loving others for God, through ourselves, rather than loving others for ourselves and through ourselves. It all sounds like mind gymnastics, but it doesn’t have to be that hard. The best thing I can do to love my friends is to think about and live within the truth that God loves me. This is the only way I can live and love without expecting a return on my investment. The real love will happen naturally once I understand my need is met. I don’t have to think about my motives at all.