Monday, December 31, 2007

Fallen Condition Focus

This is a paper that I wrote for PESM.

The main purpose in God’s existence is to glorify Himself through the redemption of all creation. Said redemption is needed because mankind exists in a fallen state, incapable of overcoming the curse that sin has wrought without divine intervention. The Scriptures, then, reveal the response of God by his incarnation, showing him to be faithful and loving towards those he made in his own image. According to Bryan Chapell in his book, Christ-Centered Preaching, “all Scripture has a Fallen Condition Focus…so that it can expose God’s redemptive purposes” (Chapell 14).
Chapell takes his theory of the FCF and applies it to preaching. He proposes that the message of a sermon and the Holy Spirit’s purpose in the inspiration of a text can be one and the same through the determination of the FCF (Chapell 50). So, finding the FCF becomes the first, and most important, step in sermon preparation. The preacher must find what FCF “required the writing” (Chapell 51) of a particular passage. The FCF is found by first understanding what the text says and, then, what spiritual concerns it addresses that are common to both the original context and today’s listeners. If he is able to specifically discern the FCF, the preacher will be able to develop a message that is relevant for his modern listeners while remaining true to the original intent of the Scripture.
In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, we find this Scripture,
“Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord
your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all
your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be
upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them
when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you
lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands
and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames
of your houses and on your gates” (NIV).
I believe this passage is written in response to the FCF that asks, “How can I follow the Lord in a way that leads my children to also follow Him?’ This question of passing on the faith to the rising generation is applicable to both the original context of the Scripture and to today’s families. God honoring parents deeply desire for their children to experience the love of God to the same saving measure that they do personally, yet sometimes struggle to know how to do so.
From this FCF several applications directly flow. The first would be for a parent to love God with all their being, exemplifying the kind of passionate relationship with God that they would like to teach. Secondly, the parents should talk about the Scriptures as much as possible. A parent that talks about the Scripture will be more likely to pass on a positive relationship with God to their children. Finally, families should create visual reminders of the Scripture in the places that they live as a way of creating homes soaked in the Words of God.
The story of the woman at the well appears in John chapter 4. Towards the end of the story, the woman goes to her own people and tells them all about meeting Jesus and many of the townspeople place their belief in Him. In verse 40-42, the texts reads,
“So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with
them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more
became believers. They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe
just because of what you have said; now we have heard for ourselves
and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world” (NIV).
This passage addresses the FCF of how people need to avoid following God with a second hand faith. Both for those who lived in this story and for modern followers of Jesus, it is absolutely necessary to grow in one’s faith to the point where Christ is known personally and not just through another person’s experience.
This FCF applies itself first by showing the way to experience Christ first hand is to push past the stories and find the source of the joy that is being expressed. Then the person must spend extended time with Jesus, allowing the words of Christ to work their way into the soul. Finally, the Word must be received personally and the joy of a saving faith will be experienced.
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians we read,
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does no envy, it does not boast, it is
not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but
rejoices with the truth. I always protects, always trusts, always hopes,
always perseveres” (13:4-7).
Today’s world has much in common with the city of Corinth because of a perversion of what true and real love looks like. The FCF of this passage tells people with a stained experience of love that perfect love really does exist and this is what it looks like.
The primary application of this FCF is to respond to the perfect love of God by receiving the hope of his loving salvation, purchased on the cross and available to all. Secondly, for those who are Christians, or perhaps have positive experiences of love, this FCF applies itself with a challenge to become Christlike by reflecting God’s perfect love to others and helping them to see the love of God in their lives.

Liesch on Worship

Congregational worship continues to be an interesting subject in the western church. Just when many churches have begun to use more modern worship songs and choruses, a new wave has emerged, longing for the richness of the ancient Christian traditions. A worship leader must be able to balance the many musical tastes and desires represented in the worship service and manage to help people make a worshipful connection to God. Barry Liesch’s book, The New Worship: Straight Talk on Music and the Church is an excellent resource for today’s worship leader and pastor.
Liesch begins the book with a short historical comparison of today’s culture to that of the church’s history. Over time, he argues, culture and worship interact and effect the church as worship begins to fit and reflect the culture it comes from. He then gives very helpful and descriptive treatments to the major schools of design in congregational worship services. One of the most beneficial things is the way that Liesch points out both positives and negatives to the different styles available without showing any bias. Bravely, Liesch takes on the issues of performance in today’s church worship and shows how excellence can be beneficial for worship without becoming focused on the person or band who is leading. The book finishes with some helpful guidance for worship leaders about working with senior pastors and with volunteer musicians.
There are two applications from the book which relate to my role in ministry right away. I spent a lot of ink underlining and understanding the models of designing services. Since this is the biggest weekly event in most churches, church leaders need to be able to use music to maximize the impact of connection with God for people. The service design section really had great information that I will apply to services I am leading. There is also a section for senior pastors who are working with or hiring worship pastors. Worship pastors are usually wired differently than senior pastors and if that is not understood then expectation will not be met. That was a great chapter for me, though I am not a senior pastor, because I already work with worship leaders in different areas I lead.
Overall, this is a really great book that helped me understand theologies and philosophies of worship. It is clearly written without being overly simple and gives a lot of useful information.

Coup de viser

After re-reading my last post I think two things. First, I wish I had a better spellchecker except I think spelling is too absolute for me and I enjoy language too much to let spellers ruin it for me. Secondly, I wonder what anyone would comment if they did comment. I've gotten a couple spoken affirmations to the post, but how is anyone supposed to comment on something so deep and personal. Either you blow smoke or you disagree and have a hopeless faceless argument on a blog. Both of which don't hlep us.

Isn't it hopeless.

Over this mid-week holiday I hope to begin two new posts: one as a year in review and the other as a number of topics that I want you to blog on.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Postmodern Christians?

How can you be postmodern and be a Christian?

Short can't. Long can't not.

There are some tenets of postmodernism that simply run contrary to the gospel. The biggest of these is what is known as the death of the metanarrative. The metanarrative is the one over-arching story which gives meaning to all humanity. For Christians, this story is the gospel, as recorded in the Bible. For a person to say that there are many stories which give meaning to all humanity they would need to deny historical orthodoxy. The story does have many expressions, but there is only on mediator between God and man, His Son, Jesus Christ.

Sidebar: it is just as easy to find problems with a modernist worldview that would make it impossible to be a modern christian. i won't argue those here because this part of the discussion is useless beyond preamble in this context.

At the same time, however, there are several characteristics of postmodernism that Christians can embrace. George Cladis, in his book, Leading the Team Based Church (an obscure resource for postmodern thought...) gives 9 characteristics of postmodernism that Christians can embrace, and, perhaps, become thereby more effective. I will interact with these here:

1. Creation is an organism rather than a machine: In the modern era there has been a lot of effort put into controlling nature. It's exciting to us that we can predict earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes. It's even more exciting that we are developing scientific means by which we can eliminate these natural disasters, or at least make them happen in ways and places that are less destructive to our societies. We wanted to set up a hierarchy where nature was under man and at mankind's disposal. In postmodernism, nature is seen in a relational way. The reason that those natural occurrences are disasters must have something to do with our relationships with nature. Putting New Orleans below sea level was an economic decision - it was worth the risk for the monetary benefit. The levees were built so more sea faring vessels could port there and it became a disaster when they didn't work. Could it be that the natural disaster is really the way that we have let things other than relationships dictate our involvement with the natural world? This is an advantage of postmodern thought.

2. Hierarchical structures are reduced: In a postmodern culture there is a lot of value in innovation. New discoveries excite people. In a church that is stuck in hierarchy, all the new ideas are the ones thought of, or approved by, the highest level of leadership. Thus, innovation is stifled. Further, hierarchical structures deny the gospel as they resist the greatest becoming the least and the highest serving the lowest. In short...hierarchy can quickly kill the gospel; the gospel is flat.

3. Authority is based on trust: Remarkably, years and years of education do not make better pastors. I love that we think this is a new discovery! Look at the disciples, they were not the most highly educated folks - but they had massive amounts of authority in the beginning to the early church (and still do today). I really don't care what position you hold, I'm not following you if I don't trust you. I want leaders that lead from their hearts, not from their degrees and training. I want leaders who lead from their convictions, not from the latest business or leadership book they've written. Tell me the truth, show me empathy, expose the kinks in your armor or else you'll find your leading nobody to a land that no longer exists.

4. Effective Leadership is Visionary: In the modern world managers motivate through job descritpions and threats with a paycheck. There was a position description and units of production were delineated, with monetary rewards and consequences. In the postmodern world money is not enough and threats are poor motivation. Motivation must come from vision and heart potential. Leaders must help people see the importance of their work. Church leaders, then, must respond to the prophetic voice that God has placed within them and cast a vision of the future that is hopeful (and therefore attractive) and help people contribute towards that vision.

5. Life and work are spiritually rooted: In the modern world, your life was what happened outside of work. Today, in the age of Ralph Nader and Coupland's J-pod and Microserfs work is your life. In the same way, a job is no longer secular and life is sacred; rather, all becomes spiritual and people seek the sacred. I don't think argument is even required here. Instead, I think Christians in postmodernity have opportunities for christian spirituality in the workplace. Discussion groups, lunch gatherings, book groups are all effective ways to engage the spiritual people around you. People want God...if you know where he is you could at least share that information!

6. Structures are smaller; networks are bigger: While some would think that this shows the leftist tendencies of postmodernism, I think, again, it's more of a small business/organization leadership principle. A great example of this takes place in the youth ministry here at SACC. Over the past couple years we have employed former prostitutes in Calcutta, sent $17,000 to fight world hunger, bought 3 goats and 24 chickens for a family in Peru, freed fetish slaves in Ghana, brought joy to a soldier in Iraq and got active in Compton (including 22 salivations), Pasadena, New Orleans, Vancouver and San Francisco. We are a regular old youth ministry in Albany that has a network that extends our influence worldwide while remaining very lean, organizationally, here.

Further, postmoderns have a general distrust of bureaucracies and favor extremely broad networks. This is influencing the way denominations have to operate. There is less and less volunteer submission to denominational authorities because they 'don't know us.' This is even evident, I believe, in a local mega-church pastor's public comments that his church no longer 'needs' the denomination. While this pastor cries out the evils of postmodernism, he reveals his own temptations against denominational leaderhsip, revealing a postmodern influence in his own life.

7. Innovation is rewarded: The best ideas come from the trenches. A general in an air-conditioned office has no idea about the efficiency of a shovel. In the postmodern world, the general who knows how to listen and adapt will be the most effective. We no longer need people to convince us of the vision, we need leaders who can detect the vision put within the priesthood of the believers, and call it out for us. we need leaders who can name the vision that we already have!

This is especially interesting to me considering the emergent church. In the past success or failure has been based on church survivorship, or, even better, growth. That was when we all were asking, "What does church look like?" Now, at least in my denomination, leaders are wanting to ask, "What could church look like?" The problem comes, however when the two questions are answered with the same metrics. In the former question we value success, perfection, achievement of a model. In the latter, we value, exploration, experimentation and have to live with the reality of a failed experiment. If Edison were trying to invent a light bulb in the modern church his program would have been shut down after so many failures. In the postmodern church, his explorations would have been celebrated regardless of success.

8. Work follows gifts, and gifts are used collaboratively: In the modern world the work of Christianity was done out of a sense of duty and obligation. Today, we have an opportunity to enable people to consider their gifts and talents and help them to find themselves contributing to the gospel in ways that they can see God using them best. No longer do we need to enlist megapeople to a megaprogram. In a relational network era, we can avoid needing people to fill spots and instead create ministries that match people.

9. Mainline church domination has ended: This is one effect of the seeker-sensitive/purpose driven model. While those are great in and of themselves, they have widely been received as the only way to 'do' church (Even the fact that we have a saying like 'do church' is alarming). Further, this is a wild westernization of postmodern theory. Mainline churches are now historical centers all over Europe and we are quickly heading the same way in the new world. I think this is wildly sad because it is happening for, I perceive, two reasons. First, mainline loyalty is over and done with. If I were to move to another city, I would not ask, "Where is there a ________ church?" I would, instead, ask, "Where is there a meaningful church?" People are no longer dividing themselves theologically and denominations are just not getting this as they continue to argue over there distinctives. Secondly, this is happening because of what sociologists call the circulation of the saints. Churches with older people and older leadership are having a killer time relating to the young and so the young are leaving to go to the church that has meaning for them. Yet, nobody is calling out these young people for being lazy. I will! I think the mainline church (heck any stagnant church) can grow if the young people roll up their sleeves and do the work that it will take to turn the tide. I desperately pray that the young will stop letting the boomers do all the work for them and that they would act like the church of today. Youth pastors always say that the youth are the church of today, not just tomorrow. I say that if the church of today (youth) don't start taking responsibility and involving themselves then they will quickly turn into the church of nothing happening. If you are a young person stop being so satisfied with your life - CHANGE EVERYTHING!! Today the postmoderns are crying for collaborative leadership - mainline denominations are best equipped with old folks with resources to make this happen.

May God be faithful!

Addendum: This post took me two weeks to write. Comment!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

LJ is sick

So last night LJ and I spent some time togethrer. LJ calls this DaddyLjKhobi time. Last night's activity was watching LJ puke. I held him up, Khobi rubbed his back and LJ, or course, was doing the puking. So, he was pretty ill and feel asleep and slept really well all night long and wakes up feeling much better. This morning I ask him how he's doing and mention that last night was kinda junky and he says, "Yeah. But I kinda like watching the food come out of my mouth like a waterfall! It's like a hose!"

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Here's a fun little personality test that I saw on Marko's blog. Apparently I am a dreamer - not to be confused with "dreamy" !!

Click to view my Personality Profile page

INFPs (Dreamers) are introspective, private, creative and highly idealistic individuals that have a constant desire to be on a meaningful path. They are driven by their values and seek peace. Empathetic and compassionate, they want to help others and humanity as a whole. INFPs are imaginitive, artistic and often have a talent for language and writing. They can also be described as easygoing, selfless, guarded, adaptable, patient and loyal.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Sometimes I don't know what to blog on, so I love getting ideas from y'all - the people who dare read the reorientation. So, I'm putting this post up to give you space to ask questions that will get blog posts. I will talk about anything that's not stupid, just put your questions below.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Up until now Kainos has largely been an underground alt worship community - we have had no advertising of any kind. At least in part because we wanted to see what happenned...

Now, this is going to be our first wave of advertising and generating buzz. I think I am breaking the first rule of buzz creation, since I just told you what I was doing....but if you know a principle and knowingly violate it, that's not breaking the rules, that's good tactics. I learned that watching the Unit last night.

Each week Jason, our resident guru of digitailia, produces a podcast on itunes. If you have itunes you can search in podcasts for Kainos, or you can go to Kainos' website and subscribe there. If you don't have itunes, then you can just go to the website, or via the title link, and listen to a feed in internet explorere there.

Thanks y'all - hope you like it. Comment if you do, comment if you have any problems...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tozer on Worship

Not only should worship be passionate, but it should be explored, discussed and felt deeply and with much conviction. This is extremely evident in AW Tozer’s book, Whatever Happened to Worship. Through a series of printed sermons, Tozer lays forth an aggressive consideration of the current state of congregational and personal worship and offers the church a beautiful way forward in our worship of God.

Tozer very much believes that there is a correlation between worship and Christian service. While some people would say that if the church will worship more, “no one will do anything” (19). In fact the opposite may be true. Tozer believes that everyone will do more and do it with a deeper understanding of the meaning behind Christian deeds. This is an important observation for Christian leaders, whose responsibility it is to equip the saints for good works. Accordingly, the pastor who helps his congregation to give them selves to worship will see his congregation give themselves to the work of the kingdom of God.

I really appreciated Tozer’s comparison of the Roman empire’s demise to the church’s demise in worship. Many times, Christians blame outside influences for the weakness in their local church’s worship. Often there are complaints of not being able to compete with music video channels on television, or with local concerts. I believe it is a sad day when our worship becomes a part of a competition! Tozer points any blame for internal worship decay directly onto the church as it deviates from it’s original purpose. When a church behaves like a social club or a current events forum (96), the worship will not be all that God dreamed of for His church.

This book is a concise discussion of the current state of worship in the western church, we would do well to heed it’s observations, warnings and instructions. As a pastor Tozer had a strong desire to help his church experience true worship and this comes across clearly in this book. He encourages Christians to give up whatever is holding them back, whether it is from sin or mere inhibition, and to worship our Creator with spirit and truth.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Worship Journal 8

Many times people say we should join God on mission to the redemption of all creation. This is what God is doing, so it should be what we, as Christians are doing. I just read, however, a reasoning why. Why does God work for the redemption of all people? In John Piper’s book, Brothers We are Not Professionals, he says God’s main purpose in existence is to glorify Himself. So, everything He does can go back to this root – God is working for the redemption of the world, because it will glorify Himself. If this is true, then worship is the way that we can most closely join God in His mission! This is the first time that I have thought of worship in this way – joining God in honoring God – that’s really an new and awesome thought to me, and I’m not sure yet what implications that’s going to have on my life…

Monday, November 05, 2007

Worship Journal 7

I have finished the Tozer book and have a lot of thoughts about it. He seems to have this
old school fire to his writing, the kind you don’t see very much anymore. I was really interested in his statements about God saving us for/to worship. It makes sense that God would do things to enable us to worship him, since God’s main purpose is to glorify Himself.
Tozer also manages to talk about fear and mystery being important elements for worship.
Like we should be kind of close enough to the edge of something great that it makes us nervous, but not terrified. Good stuff, I think, but the way Tozer says a lot of stuff there doesn’t leave a lot of room for discussion.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Holy Rule 8 - of Divine Office during the NIght

With the vast majority of the credit going to emergents, new monasticism is very sexy right now. However, this does not seem to be a case of bringing sexy back - monasticism was never meant to be this sexy.

Chapter 8 of St. Benedict's rule gives direction for the nighttime and daybreak observances of the daily office. The times differ according to season, because of the amount of sunlight received during the different seasons, for the Holy Rule was established before the discovery of electricity.

And just in case you still think monasticism is sexy, chapter 8 directs that during the summer, the monks are to observe Matins at night, then they "may go out for the necessities of nature" before returning to participate in Lauds. For we all know a monk really needs to go first thing every morning.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Worship Journal 6

I just finished listening to a podcast from Mars Hill Michigan where the teacher made connections between worship service and service as worship. I liked it a bunch because I like to see when people put real actions into their words. I guess I think talk is cheap, but when I see Christianity in action, it’s a beautiful thing.

Part of this in me, I figure, comes because the music that I hear on Sunday mornings just doesn’t resonate with the music that plays in my soul. That sounds cheesy, but I figure most everyone has a soundtrack playing inside of them and they hear music and they like it when the music they hear resonates with whatever is already playing inside of them. This little theory of mine has no backing, but I think it’s true anyways. I figure that’s why the oldies in church sing louder when it’s time for a hymn, and that why I find myself lost when I try to sing them. It’s like the beat or the rhythm or the mood of the music just doesn’t match with the music that’s already playing inside of me. And that’s why I work better when the music is louder – my soul soundtrack is loud, aggressive and has a heavy bass line.

One the other hand…maybe I’m wrong. Either way, there’s something about certain types of music that matches with certain types of people – and that’s very clear in corporate worship services all over.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Worship Journal 5

I’ve been reading the Tozer book. He sure has some strong things to say about worship. It’s kind of interesting to see someone saying the things he said, back when he said them. I appreciate his assessment of the leaders of the church and a consideration of their influence in leadership according to their passion in prayer and worship. I hate when church leaders pray and it lacks any passion.

Someone also mentioned to me this week that he sees a lot of children worship happening in our culture. I thought he was right on with that thought. A lot of people with kids are worshipping (ordering their lives to ascribe supreme worth) to their children. I wonder how Tozer would speak into this phenomenon. I’d love to see his reaction to hearing that a church is family-centered instead of Christ-centered!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Planting Missional Churches 3

The third chapter of Stetzer's book is the token chapter on biblical basis. These chapters in every textbook drive me crazy. It's like every person has a biblical basis for their own slant on whatever. It's like treating the Bible like a horoscope.

That being said, this chapter isn't horrible, but it's not the kind of subject matter you wake your wife up to discuss. Here's some quotes of interest:

p.38 "Until the late eighteenth century, most Protestant Christians believed that Jesus' commisions applied only to those disciples who actually heard his words."

Worship Journal 4

4. October 16, 2007

Worship this weekend was alright. The sermon was excellent for me, the singing kind of regular – it didn’t really go anywhere for me. I didn’t really go anywhere either. I know that’s not supposed to be the point of worship, it’s supposed to be like is God honored and stuff like that, but that seems to be an ‘of course’ answer. I mean, wouldn’t a better question be – how was God insulted? That would be a way more interesting discussion, that’s for sure.
We had our first night of the year with singing worship at the high school worship gathering. I was also a night with HS volleyball, water polo and JV football. Needless to say, our attendance was down significantly and overwhelmingly male – it wasn’t exactly a great night to try and get them to sing. I thought it went well, though. I certainly don’t think God was very insulted by it! Great!


Mars Hill Church in Seattle is putting their sermon topic selection in the hands of bloggers in pajamas. You can vote up to 10 times per day and get a question put into the series.

Of course, I put one in and would love to have some of your votes!

See my question here

Let's see what we can do!!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Book Nut

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

You're probably in the final stages of a Ph.D. or otherwise finding a way to make your living out of reading. You are one of the literati. Other people's grammatical mistakes make you insane.

Dedicated Reader
Book Snob
Literate Good Citizen
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Sex God 5

The fifth chapter of Sex God goes after the relationship between risk and love. It draws the two closely together showing how great risk potentializes great love. This is used as the descriptor of the incarnation - God's great risk because of his great love.

p.101 "As we read the Gospels, we find Jesus' message putting him more and more in conflict with the religious and political leaders of his day. He's threatening their power. This is what love does, it threatens the empires of power and control and wealth and manipulation."

Friday, October 05, 2007

Planting Missional Churches 2

Chapter 2 of Stetzer's book is on Redeveloping a Missional Mind-set for North America. I loved it from the get-go because he admitted that there is a great big country right about USAmerica. The one that most consumer oriented Christian writers ignore because there's just not enough Christians there to support the Christian merchandise machine. Not that that's a sore point with me...

The chapter begins with some horrible math and misuse of statistices (as do most) but then settles down into a valid assessment of the influence of madern rationalism on Christianity in the western world. To the point that, in my estimation, Modern Western Christianity has become more modern and western than it is Christian.

Here's some great quotes:

p.19 "The end of Christendom allows the church to recognize that the gospel is distinct from Western culture."

p.22 "Instead of engaging in missional thinking, churches tend to fall back on one of two appeal to tradition of an appeal to technique. Neither is the response of a missional congregation."

p.24 "The church absorbed in technique is convinced that it's missional - that it's techniques actually are actually expressions of misison, while they are actually methods that replace missional thinking."

p.29 "Most church planters start the church in their head and not in their community."

A great and accuarate warning for the western church that pastors must put some thought to.

Sex God 4

The fourth chapter in Rob Bell's book is on lust. It's a great centerpiece for this book as Bell disects what makes people sin - continually. It isn't the lust, either - it's the willingness to accept what one is told (by your mind, desire, the devil, etc.) as truth coupled by the inability to see that the chosen path does not lead to life - which means it works in opposition to God.

One of the things I love is the way Bell instructs the reader to redirect their (sexual) desire into something much much better. It's a very different approach than that of my "we-put-the-mental-in-fundamental" bible school, where the over-riding approach was duck and cover in the face of anything beautiful. Under that system some relationships and marriages were based solely on finding someone with the same calling as yourself to be a partner with - with little consideration of the beauty in the other person.

Great chapter, insightful and would be a great discussion starter!

Everything is Spiritual

So, Rob Bell has just released the website for his everything is spiritual tour. That's the one where the lady from zondervan told me I could just go down to Los Angeles to see him, that'd be my closest venue (Great west coast geography...). Hi snew tour, The Gods Aren't Angry is coming to Portland (much, much closer) but would cost me $45 to take my wife. I'm sure it goes to a good cause, but it's just not gonna happen, especially in a blog world. Last week I got to learn from Len Sweet and he talked about how people are going to pay for content less and less - what they'll pay for is a relationship. That's exactly why I don't need to pay $45 to hear something first hand - I can get info for free from blogs!

!Viva la revolucion!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Muslim Punk Music

So, the Rolling Stone magazine is talking about it and I have no idea what to do with it. How is the rise of Muslim music going to be accepted?

Read the ariticle by clicking on the title link - what do you think will happen? What can the businessmen learn from CCM? What will come of Taqwatour?

Worship Journal 3

1. October 4, 2007

Well I haven’t really gotten to the Tozer book. It’s been put behind two other textbooks,
but I will get to it eventually. Thinking about worship – this past weekend was pretty regular. A lot of time people think that good worship is all about that big moment, that one thing that surprised everyone. I think that’s really true, those moments are awesome and enjoyable, but, there’s something to be said for the steadiness of God and the people who worship him. Maybe that’s why people like the hymns so much – because they’ve been around so long, there’s a certain amount of trust in a faithful song that has been a part of keeping the church steady in worship so long.
I am going to be picking up the new David Crowder Band album, hopefully this
weekend. I will surely love to worship along to those songs as they just seem to be able to wonderfully put words into my feelings about God. I am also excited to see them live on the 18th of this month – I think we can anticipate a worship journal that is a little excited about that experience. I’m looking forward to a big moment!

Holy Rule 7 - of humility

This is the longest chapter so far in the Benedictine rule. It lays out the 12 levels of humility, so that, by attaining the 12 levels a monk will reach full and perfect (fearless) love of Christ.

It is so intresting to read because I thought the peak was a t level three and then it kept going and going - and gives a lot of conviction and challenge into the world of humility - and perserverance of spiritual discipline - as a monk develops. The relationship between humility and perserverance is direct according to the Benedictine Rule. To say humility is growing and not be developing in patience and perserverance is a impossibility for this way.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Monday, October 01, 2007

Name Your Blog

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Worship Evangelism

I really love Sally Morganthaller (sp?). I've always had a funny feeling about her contending for worship evangelism. Her book was put into much practice in the youth ministry I now lead, and "successfully" so (quotes indicate success according to formerly chosen metrics, of which I disagree).

She now has gotten out of the worship industry and published a really wild article through a little ministry in Idaho. Here's a taste:

No sad songs. No angry songs. Songs about desperation, but none about despair. Worship for the perfect. The already arrived. The good-looking, inoffensive, and nice. No wonder the unchurched aren't interested.

Read the rest here.


The American businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied only a little while.

The American then asked, “Why didn't you stay out longer and catch more fish?”

The Mexican said, “I’ve got enough to support my family's immediate needs.”

The American then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senor."

The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats; eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you would run your expanding enterprise."

The Mexican fisherman asked, "But senor, how long will this all take?"

To which the American replied, "15-20 years."

”But what then, senor?”

The American laughed, “That's the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”

”Millions, senor? Then what?”

The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos..."

ht: bob

Thursday, September 27, 2007

In honor of marriage

A married couple who didn't realise they were chatting each other up on the internet are divorcing.

Sana Klaric and husband Adnan, who used the names "Sweetie" and "Prince of Joy" in an online chatroom, spent hours telling each other about their marriage troubles, reported.

The truth emerged when the two turned up for a date. Now the pair, from Zenica in central Bosnia, are divorcing after accusing each other of being unfaithful.

"I was suddenly in love. It was amazing. We seemed to be stuck in the same kind of miserable marriage. How right that turned out to be," Sana, 27, said.

Adnan, 32, said: "I still find it hard to believe that Sweetie, who wrote such wonderful things, is actually the same woman I married and who has not said a nice word to me for years".

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Worship Journal 2

September 26, 2007

So this past weekend we had a change in our Sunday morning corporate worship – the
main leader is stepping down or taking a break so there are new leaders – and new experiences. The worship team actually laughed on stage (something I haven’t seen for quite a while), though it was at a ‘mistake’ when they were coming into a song. I loved it. For me, I love seeing others who aren’t perfect being willing to be leaders. There’s a phrase going around about worship needing to seek ‘excellence’ because it’s for God. I don’t disagree with that in principle. I do disagree with that when life (love, laughter, peace, etc.) is sacrificed for excellence. That kinda freaks me out. So I actually enjoyed singing along to the old songs this week because I got to sing them with people just like me.
Sunday night we had a worship service (Kainos) also. It was pretty decent – the band was just a piano/guitar with the players singing, but it seemed like people engaged with God. We participated in communion also – which I always appreciate, especially when I partake with my son.
Finally, I got my AW Tozer book in the mail this week. Looks like a collection of sermons, so I’ll probably be commenting on those here as well.

Recent Searches

I always get a kick out of my keywords!

1. wears
2. stetzer
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12. Tony
13. soul
14. leron
15. bell
16. rob

Sex God 3

In chapter 3 Bell takes on the challenge of living in the tension of honsety in regards to sexuality. He talks about the 'animal' side, where people just give into anything or live in a sexual despair. He also talks about the 'angel' side, where people deny any attractive feelings and completely abandon intimacy.

Both of these extremes, according to Bell, take us out of our natural way - being human (not animal or angel). He does a great job at tying it all in together at the end and making it concise, clear and engaging. Probably the best chapter yet.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Worship Journal 1

For my schooling I have to keep a record of a worship journal. So I am going to post them here also.

1. September 12, 2007

I write this as class is finishing up so I am going to discuss class a bit. I really resonate with the consideration of the influence of Judaism on Christian worship. Today is actually Rosh Hashannah, Jewish New Year, which we normally celebrate with the youth ministry. I think I have a willingness to be experimental with my worship. I like to try new things or different traditions. Sometimes it’s a great experience, sometimes I don’t understand what’s going on at all. At the same time, though, an experimental attitude sometimes gets me in trouble with fundamentalists who think its this way or the highway.
I also appreciate in class the way that when we really actually look at the emerging church we can appreciate the contribution that they are making to the western church. This takes a bit of humility from both sides though. The emergents need to remember to be patient, and the ‘old school’ needs to remember that they are old (kidding…mostly).
One thing I am still wondering is about the relationship between worship and personal taste. I wonder if its alright for me to like a certain style and not like another. It seems normal to me and it seems biblical. I wonder, then, why people say that it is a sign of growth when I worship God in styles I don’t like. Wouldn’t that make me a faker? Hmmm….

Planting Missional Churches 1

I am also reading a book by Ed Stetzer as collateral reading for my church planting class. The book is a rewrite of an older Stetzer book about planting postmodern churches. I will be doing chapterly reviews on the blog as it is a subject area that I am really interested in knowing about. There's 29 chapters, so this will go on for quite some time!

Chapter one is called the Basics of Church Planting and goes through the underlying reasoning for the promotion of a chruch planting movement in North America. Stetzer writes, "Establishing a missional church means that you plant a church that's a part of the culture you're seeking to reach." (1) The way to do this is by being missional, incarnational, theological, ecclesiological and spiritual (3). I laugh out loud that, according to this short list, you don't even have to be Christian to plant a church!

Objections to church planting (or even missional church progression) are tackled well and general statistics are given. I leave you with this quote:

"During a recent breakfast conversation with Len Sweet, Len explained to me that recent studies show that nine of ten people who are told by doctors to 'change or die' cannot do so. In other words, they are told to stop smoking, lose weight, or quit drinking in order to survive, and nine out of ten die rather than change. Churches are similar; they often choose their traditions over their future."

Sex God 2

In chapter 2 Bell talks about our desire to be connected to others being (at base) an expression of sexual desire. In a tragically trendy way he talks about some celibate single people being the most sexual people he knows. This is justified by their connectedness to so many different people in real and honest ways.

I appreciated this chapter's consideration of the distinction between intimacy and physical sexual activity. At the same time, Bell appeals to the postmodern mind by redefining sex to mean something new (non-traditional). This was not done in the most smooth way...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sex God 1

I picked up Rob Bell's Sex God with a bunch of other textbooks for school this year. Becuase it's fun reading, I am going to post by chapters to milk it all the way out. Most of my textbook reading is done with speed in mind, so Sex God will be read with enjoyment.

The first chapter is called, God Wears Lipstick, in which Bell revolves a discussion of humanity's attitude towards itself impacting it's ultimate reality around a story from a Nazi concentration camp in which lipstick was given to the women who were being rescued. It also talks about lust and torture and how we treat others reflecting on our own health.

An interesting chapter.

Virkler, Hermeneutics

I had to read this book for my preaching class at PESM. There is a slant in this hermeneutics book towards exegetical preaching and application. It's a fantastic hermeneutics book for beginning preachers.

That all being said - its way to long because it takes on much more than it should. I don't need a hermeneutics book to explain to me as much as this book attempted to. I found it hard to stay on track because of the amount of rabbit trails that this book follows - especially presenting the personal dogma of the author - and remembering the point of hermeneutical study is difficult.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Holy Rule 6 - of Silence

This becomes a tough chapter to swallow as it goes on. In the beginning the silence is meant for the purpose of learning and discipleship. The monk is instructed to do the listening and the master is instructed to speak and teach - it's a relationship working the way it is intended to.

However, at the end of the paragraph the monk is instructed not to make jokes or cause laughter through his words. This becomes a little frustrating for me, as times of celebration and laughter would seem to be to be instructed biblically. I am holding out hope that a communal rule later in the text will give instruction in celebration and laughter together at festive times.

Applying this in a secular setting becomes challening as silence is increasingly difficult to come by. Even if we can eliminate talking there's still traffic, dogs, airplanes and more that will burst into our attention when we are living silently. Perhaps this is why I (more and more) believe that camping is a biblical mandate.

Slience is valuable enough to pay a high price for.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


I feel great today. Other that sweating all day and feeling like throwing up everytime I stand up - life is great!

I watched a bunch of football, researched, studied and outlined a talk for tommorrow night, played video games, read a whole book, watched Civic Duty (which suced) and Letters from Iwo Jima (which was well done) and successfully made myself microwave popcorn and started getting hooked on the original British version of the Office (which made me laugh out loud)

Now I am going back to laying still, since Khobi is on her way home and she's throwing up - yep, she's taking her turn being sick also. I've got a great family.

Robinson, Biblical Preaching

Today I read this, my second in a week, book by Haddon Robinson. I borrowed it, so I didn't underline anything. I have become a quick fan of old (that's truth y'all) Haddon, though. For an old skool preacher, he is definitely good and I will for sure be perusing his books again when I am done with PESM assignments able to do so a little slower.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Chapell, Christ Centered Preaching

Chapell's book is very dry and long and detailed. Great book for entry level learning preaching.

His whole premise is based on a fallen condition focus, which grated at my personal theology, but his last two chapters on redemptive preaching have much to offer as an alternative to the theapeutic style that is prevalent today.

Robinson, Making a Difference in Preaching

This book is a collection of writings that Haddon Robinson has published in various books and magazines. It's a great little collection to give the young preacher a jumpstart and the old preacher a check-up. I didn't underline because I was reading it fast for school, but the last two chapters on preaching on money are worth the whole price of the book. Fantastic theological preaching!

Moore, Starting a New Church

This is the first book I read for PESM this year. Ralph Moore is the founder of the Hope Chapel Movement, and he plants churches in California and Hawaii (I know - that's called 'call envy'). I found myself alternatively loving this book for it's quick tips and practical ideas and hating it for it's focus on growing the church by putting butts in seats. Here's some stuff I highlighted:

>p.39 "If there is one predictor of church planters, it has to be that the good ones are voracious readers. Well-read people tend to be able to find solutions to any problem and they always seem to have a fresh supply of ideas."

>p.144 "I preach without a pulpit...we meet between services at round tables under umbrellas in a courtyard. The setup resembles a large starbucks. This is intentional because our target audience for evangelism is still under 30...we work hard to look and feel different from any other church in our community."

Then I stoppped underlining. I have two MAJOR objections to this book. The first is that he gives his doctrine of tithing by comparing it to the doctrine of marriage. One is a sacrament, the other is not. This is ridiculous. the other is that Moore calls the baby boomers the "first postmodern generation" when what he means is the boomers are the first consumption based generation. postmodernism is wildly different than consumer driven culture. What he describes is clearly the latter.

Good try though...

For Aaron

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Not one lesson

I drew this today. I call it warmed helium.


13 hours left in my day, till I can go back home. PESM classes today from 8 am till 915 pm - that's a long time.

It's been pretty good at the parts that I dig and funny to see how opinionated I am (often in disagreement) in my preaching class. Classes that make you become a type of something you don't feel called to be are an interesting discipline. Our little discussion times aren't my alley either. It appears not everyone is comfortable with being committed to each other and still being able to have robust dialogue. That, and, I still believe that pastors never shut up fast enough :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

2 hours 45 minutes

that's how long my class is on preaching. My prof just threw this one out:

The Scripture is always relevant, our sermons are not always relevant.

Awesome stuff.

Monday, September 10, 2007

High School Musical

One of the most creative high school students I know sent me a link to this article on High School Musical from Uncyclopedia. Apparently, it may or may not be true, but this section is worth recording here:

It is said that High School Musical was written by Dick Cheney to distract the Americans from the war in Iraq. They assumed it would work since most Americans have very short attention spans and randomly jump to protest at random causes - most often a different one every week. So they thought that it would cause all people to love it and forget about the war in Iraq. It worked like a dream. People who liked it obsessed over it, while people who didn't dedicated their lives to protesting and putting it down.

One of the reasons rumored to be the sole reason to the movie's sudden and overwhelming success is a subliminal message played throughout the entire movie, layered twenty-seven times, so no one would be aware. The message contained is, "Zac Efron is the man of your dreams. You want to marry him, even though his sexuality can be compared to twenty-thousand David Hasselhoff fans. You worship anything he is in or on, including movies, TV shows, albums, conditioners, and any other dingdingding you see his face on." This message is believed to have enslaved the minds of any girl (or boy) that is unfortunate enough to see it.

It is also rumored that the song We're All in This Together was meant as a means of persuading people to join the Communist Party. Lyrics such as "...we make each other strong...", "...when we work together all our dreams come true", and the obvious "...we're all in this together..." suggest that the writer, who was killed in a freak accident while mixing pure phosphorus and vodka, was in fact trying to persuade people to join him and establish him as a communist leader.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Recent Searches that Landed Here

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Holy Rule 5 - of obedience

The fifth chapter of the Rule of St. Benedict instructs in immediate and joyful obedience. It guides the monk to follow the instruction of the abbot, under whose authority he has willingly placed himself, without delay. Then, the command goes even further to instruct the monks to obey without complaining, for this is what the Lord is seeking.

It is interesting to think of voluntarily giving yourself to the command of another. The trust of an abbot would have to be very high in order to do this with a fully pure heart.

Back At It

Today is very much a Rosh Hashannah for us - coming back from our Canadian vacation and getting LJ back into school and beginning the fall ministries.

There is a bit of anxiety around the house though that this fall is going to be more of what last spring was - over working and over stressed and over strectched. We got away from operating the way that God designed me to work and we're going to be actively committed to not letting that happen again.

And I'm committing to not "working through" burnouts anymore. lol - I love that God is still with me and working in me and through me - it's a huge blessing, as cheesy as that sounds.

May Grace and Peace with a Divine Origin Rest on my house and yours...

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Calvinic Wesleyanism

I don't want to be a Calvinist mostly because of how mean some Calvinist come accross. But I have a hard time swallowing the theologically smurffy holiness peeps too.

So I was reading this post of mine (yeah, I reflect at times!) and thought it ended Cavinically, so I am considering a new bent called Calvinic Wesleyanism.

I'll have to google it to find out what it is.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Up in Arms

Flying home last night I wondered. I was holding my son in my arms and my elbow was killing me, and I didn't care as much as I wanted him to be able to sleep. We'd been delayed because of a storm, which is not such a big deal unless you are travelling with your children. Then, you'd do anything to get them into a comfortable position so they can get the sleep that they so desperately need in order to function well.

I often think of my relationship with God as my Father through my experiences as a father. Last night I was wondering what God felt like when he was holding me.

That's how I see God - holding me, holding you. And being so willing to experience pain so that He can help you get what you need to have in order to be well. God endures the pain so that you can have great life.

Usually when we hear this we run to the cross and talk all about how Jesus' suffering paid the price and provided for our sins - but my son had not sinned. There was nothing my son was doing that was wrong, unnatural or sinful. He was just hoping to sleep. For some, the metaphor breaks down at this point, but I don't think so.

I wonder if God is willing to go through discomfort right now, so that we can have a great, full, rested, well life.

This flies in the face of what I have been taught throughout most of my life. I have been told that my whole existence is all about being good so that I don't make God sad, mad, angry or otherwise provoked. It has always been as if I don't want to screw up and end up having to depend on God - I need to leave him alone to deal with the big stuff like poverty, global warming and televangelists.

So what will it take for me to allow God to suffer for me? What do I have to change in me so that he can minister to me in the full measure that he wants to. It seems a major shift - a wholesale change, where I can no longer earn my way into impressing Jesus.

Sure, salvation is through grace and faith - but what about my rewards in heaven - don't I have to earn them?

I am changing though. I want to just sleep and allow God to suffer for me because he loves me. He loves me even so much more than I need.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

IKEA today

This morning righ tbefore leaving home we noticed an IKEA ad (since I am going there today) which features a quick shot of an inter-racial ggay couple with a daughter and a dog towards the end of the ad. It's the first time I've seen (personally) a company intentionally advertise to the homosexual community in a commercial. It will be interesting to see what happens with this.
One would assume that some Christians will now boycott ikea and that's OK for two reasons. First, we'll be able to go to IKEA and incarnate the gospel there without the baggage of having to explain those Christians who are busy pouring out their haterade on IKEA for having a business plan that works economically (honestly, are these people surprised from a purely economic standpoint?); and second, I'll have way cooler furniture than them.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Top ten

I love Scot McKnight mostly because he is emergent without being a hipster. He is hosting the emerging conversation/book promotion tour when it goes down to Austin and posted a Top Ten List of why you should go to an emergent event. It's killer funny.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

New Orleans Video

Here's the video we presented to the church highlighting our team in new orleans.

Jr. high

I haven't blogged nearly any enough lately - I am having a little case of the burn-outs and trying to work through that. Here's some preliminary reports on my summer though:

I got to be the speaker at our conference junior high camp this year and it was such a great time. I really enjoyed seeing God work in the lives othe tweens and being able to lead them through some great scriptures. I think many people don't give them as much credit as they deserve - in some moments they are astoundingly mature and focused people - the problem is many people can't get over the moments that they are wild, crazy and not thinking consequentially.

I loved it though - I was probably most nervous just speaking in front of my peer youth pastors - that's a little more intimidating, but they were really encouraging and it was great to experience this all.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Cody's New Orleans

Just got back from helping rebuild New Orleans. This is a video that Cody, one of our sophmore boys made. I know Cody made it because of all the flying scenes - Cody loves airplanes.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Monday in New Orleans

here's what a group did today - can't write much since it's after lights out - but the kids are doing so great - it's hotter and humid than imaginalbe, but everyone is really sticking to it - later

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Welcome to New Orleans

here's our first shots in new orleans

Thursday, July 05, 2007


So I saw this link for a friend wheel on Marko's blog and did mine and I love it. Facebook is way better than myspace for fun and really cool networking - everyone around here still uses myspace, but facebook is better. At the very least, there's less porn, which always a bonus!

Here's my friend-wheel.It's a list of all my peeps on facebook and their connections to each other. It kinda groups my life into free-flowing groups with which I interact.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

They're hee-ere!

It's not like we didn't tell you.

Happy Canada Day.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Sweet 23

Where is your favorite third place? It doesn't have to be a coffee shop, of course. It can be any place that is not home and not the workplace. Is your church a meaningful thrid place? If so, what does it do to fill that need? If your church fails as a sacred place for connecion, what is missing?

I like to have many options as third places so that I can third place in the environment that best fits me at any particular time. i really like out-of-the way places though - they seem to have more character, regulars and less traffic. I like going to places that aren't on the main road, that are two doors down from the busy Starbizzle.

I don't think our church is a meaningful third place. The only couches we have are in the prayer room, which isn't wildly connective or the ones in the worship center, but those all face the same way (yes, I'm talking about pews, silly). I don't think that churches need to be third places though. Why do we need to build a third place when we can rent it for the price of a coffee? I don't think any church needs to fill the need of a third place, instead they need to teach infiltration and missionality as a way of life. God lives at Starbucks just as much as He lives in the church (along that line, perhaps the first thing that needs to be taught is that people need to stop saying, "you can't do _________ in church!" like as if church is a magical place and not a elect people).

Sweet 22

How often do you seek community and connection on the internet? Are you involved in file sharing, social networking, group-edited Web sties and so forth? What does the virtual community on the Internet add to your life?

I am blogging righ tthis very second! I myspace and facebook pretty much everyday. I don't file share, but that's not because of any ethics, it's just because I don't so far - maybe when I get desperate enough for some Coldplay I will. I think the virtual community adds a couple distinct things to my life. First, it gives me on-demand connectedness with all sorts of people I have now throughout my life. I myspace with people who live all around me mostly, but I facebook with people from Canada and Georgia mostly. The other thing I get from user-driven social sites is the opportunity to hang out and discuss things that I am interested in. I can survey the conversations on many differentblogs and jump in where I feel like it. I can find people who want to tlak about the things that I want to talk about, in the language that I want to use, and discuss it!

Sweet 21

Who acts as an icon in yourlife, inviting you to look through him or her to God? As a result of this relationship, do you notice yourself becoming more dependent on God?

Ii think there are three kinds of people who act as icons in my life. First, the poor. At my best I am able to see Christ in their eyes. At my worst I cannot look into their eyes. I become dependent on God to love through me when my love runs dry. It's embarrassing to not be as loving as Jesus, but that's my truth so far. The second group are teens who love Jesus very much - to the point of risk. On the other hand, I see teens all the time who give up on themselves and choose reckless lives that are going nowhere because it is easier for them. They smile and laugh and then post myspace bulletins lamenting their lonliness - they haven't felt the presence of God much lately. But the teen who follows God to the point of it being genuinely hard - where they make concious decisions to give their lives away - in those teens, I think, Jesus lives very well. Thirdly has gotta be my kids. Fathering teaches me more aobut my relationship with God than anything else has in all my life. And God must really, really, really be patient to Father someone like me.

Sweet 20

Think about some of the churches you have recently worshipped in. Has the rich, provocative image of Christianity been replaced by sterile, neutered spaces that seem more like physicians' waiting rooms than temples?

This is the thing about modernly built churches - they are built cheaply and they have huge white walls. Institutional white - there are no restaurants that try to create atmosphere with huge institutional white walls. i understand that building stone cathedrals is hunormously expensive, but it seems that the whole world of designers were not invited to participate in the creation of modern-post-1940 churches.

Some churches are also putting the worship into multi-purpose rooms, since the worship center is only used for one morning a week. but, perhaps it is only used fo rone morning a week because it is such an uncomfortable place! There are other options than putting basketball nets on the walls to justify keeping a large space - but it requires creative thinking, which seems to be as costly as a stone cathedral.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Sweet 19

What are you doing to reveal the spiritual through the natural and the material of your life? Are you doing your own thing or the diving thing?

I love the way that Rob Bell eliminates the disconnect between spiritual and physical. They aren't separtate, they are expressions of the each other. So when I recycle, it is a physical expression of a spiritual belief I have. So, for the Christian who lives this way there is no possibility of doing your own thing - everything is a spiritual thing, and everything belongs to Him.

Sweet 18

Picture yourself in a future time when every person on earth has a personal mantra - three words or less that captures the essence of his or her mission. What would your mantra be?

break the numb.

Sweet 17

Think about the metaphors that guide your life. Are they Jesus metaphors, such as the overjoyed father who runs to welcome a lost child back home? Or are they manmade metaphors that point you in a direction other than Godward?

I can't imagine that any of my major metaphors point anywhere but Godward. At this point in my life I have completely given my life over to God and have no interest in taking it back. He's doing a much better job of running my life and I think that's a great place to be in.

Sweet 16

As a point of note, I skipped one of the questions in Sweet's The Gospel According to Starbucks because it involved an experiment with the TV and I don't think I can apply it to my life without a household mutiny.

Think about the images that make God immediate in your life, that bring God close. What are those images and why do they enliven your spirit? Now think about the biblical images that stir your passion for life. Do any of the same images appear on both lists?

This is a weird one for me, I guess. I mean images for me would be nature, worship and prayer actions. And those would be the same as the biblical images. Except the Old Testament ones. For those I would think of power and miracles, which I don't normally think of these days around here...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Great Prank

Apparently an entire lake has disappeared! Now that is a killer prank!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sweet 15

"Our 'God is a consuming fire,' " reads Hebrews 12:29. but our experience of fire can either be the warmth of hearth and home, or a raging inferno of destruction and death. The "consuming fire" of God can either be our heaven or our hell. When did God last consume you in comfort and warmth? When did God last consume you in destruction?

I can attest to loads of times that God has brought a warming fire into my life - it is a part of the relationship that I have with Him. On the other hand, I don't think that God destroys people - I think God as a consuming fire destroys sin, but not the person. So I wouldn't say that God has destroyed me, because I wouldn't ever allow sin to define who I am. It most certainly tries, but I will fight back against it, praying that God would destroy it.

Sweet 14

Do you spend more time dreamin gor planning? Think about your life in light of carefully made plans. How much confidence do you place in your plans? Do you find security and comfort in carefully thought-out plans? And even when you have set forth elaborate plans in advance, how many times have you accomplished exactly what you planned?

Healthy James spends more time dreaming. Stressed out James spends more time planning. I like it when I am healthy. I don't put wholla lotta confidence in my plans - I just like make a decision and making progress - chances are you're right and you're moving in the right direction or else you aren't and then you just stop and turn around. I don't spend a loada time trying to nail stuff down and make sure that certain things happen or get accomplished. I'd rather prepare myself for a variety of possible outcomes and ride the roller coaster and see where it ends up...

Sweet 13

How many Christians do you know whose lives demonstrate holy boldness? What does that quality look like?

This is a tough question because many times the boldness looks like holiness but can come from carnal or romantic places. I think holy boldness looks like mercy, that's what I think. Bold forgiveness, bold love, bold self-sacrifice...that works for my response.

Friday, June 15, 2007


As a way of update, I am blogging through Leonard Sweet's The Gospel According to Starbucks by responding to all of the interspersed Brewed for Thought boxes. Hopefully you'll be inspired to read the book by the questions you read. Feel free to intereact with them, too.

Read this sentence again: the essence of a human being is in participation in the essence of the divine being. Think about what Thomas Aquinas's teaching means to you and for you. In what ways to you particpate in the life of God? In what ways does this participation define your existence as a person?

This is such an interesting quote to me because I believe that life exists in Jesus Christ alone. Those outside of his redemption are not really living - they look like it in a physical sense, but I have a hard time believing that the physical is really the foundation to what life really is. So, to 'be' is really to be a participant in the divine being; those who do not particpate, never really are.

However this has consequnces towards the future (infinity, eternity). It would seem to support the resurgence of the doctrine of limited time in hell, where being burned and and destroyed is equated with a ceasation of existence. I still have a hard time with that, because I am not satisfied with their dealing with scriptures that stand in opposition...which leaves me out there wondering what it really means to 'be'.

Alas...khobi is crying and I will cease to think through this post...

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Since I am currently disappointed in the fate of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Lebron James, I am posting a link to a blog that I love, because Leron Shults is really dang smart. Just check this post !!

I first, and only, heard Leron when he spoke at the National Pastor's Convention I went to a couple years ago. I am going to buy myself a couple of his books as a graduation present to myself when I graduate from PESM in two years. Till then....I have a blog!

Sweet 11

Feel free to try this at home: ask any fifteen-year-old whether sports video games or sports TV will be more popular in the future. When teenagers want reality, they don’t go to a game and watch, they play the real game. There is a fortune waiting to be made by someone who will invent an EPIC sport: a sport where the boundary between athlete and spectator are broken down, and the interaction of the crowd can actually shape the outcome of the game. Why couldn’t a leaping catch by Steve Bartman in the stands put out the batter? (Sadly the Romans got it right the wrong way – they had such a game. It involved Christians and lions.)

OK, so teenagers, feel free to comment on this one. I can tell you I’d rather play NBA LIVE than watch this year’s championship between the Spurs and the Lebron James. As for the question, I think that the catch can’t put out the batter because the purists of the game refuse to let it change. This would revolutionize baseball; and revolution for such a huge institution seems to be impossible. This is what we have learned from Major League Baseball and the steroid scandals. This is where the church must pay careful attention. To recreate church into something where the people on the stage and the people in the seats both have contribution into the outcome of the gathering is a much bigger challenge than tweaking and flipping worship tricks. It may be even beyond the imagination of those trained in modern institutional churches.

Sweet 10

What is your favorite combination when it comes to coffee-related beverages? Have you ever gone into a specialty coffee shop and ordered a simple cup of coffee? What happened? Can you make up your own slang for a coffee drink (for example: “heaven on the lips but nothing on the hips”)?

My favorite drink is the macchiato. Preferably the marble, but the caramel is also very good. The caramel also wins out in the ice-blended form of a macchiato. I have ordered simple coffee before, and they just gave me a cup and I went and got it out of the urn myself (baccharino’s). I can make up my own slang for a coffee drink.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Many young people choose to slack and suck through their teen years. One of my biggest joys, being in youth ministry, is to be able to see the MANY teens who are just the opposite - the are driven and contribute to a better world. This week Cassie, who is a rising senior is in Africa hugging babies who have AIDS because they were born with it. All the babies are in an orphanage because, for many, they parents have died with AIDS. If you are a praying person, it'd be awesome for you to pray for Cassie for continuing perserverance and strength. She is a very strong young person, but she also has a really compassionate heart (and a creatvie lingo - lol), so she'll need the Lord's help in contributing in positive change.

She's also using this trip as a bit of a tester for her life-calling; she's considering missions as a vocational calling.

You can read about her trip on a blog by her teacher, Mike Salley

Thursday, June 07, 2007

There are no words

You can no longer ever say that what I say from the pulpit is the craziest stuff you've ever heard. I cannot believe that this lady is serious - is she inebriated?

A holy ghost enema!!!

Sweet 9

What aspects and manifestations of the beauty of God drew you to God? What is it about God’s beauty that keeps you coming back for more of God’s presence?

I think what first drew me was the ‘not going to hell’ deal. I guess that’s God’s mercy…the better response here is what keeps brining me back is the complete selflessness that I see over and over in Jesus. The way that He completely valued (values) people who were genuine in their pursuit of Truth/God was so remarkable. Also, I live in Oregon, God’s favorite state. I know that’s true because I live there. You can look at the pictures and just believe me and believe in God.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Sweet 8

Most of us spent our growing-up years in the bell-curve world, where the bulk of the human population resided in the middle. But think about your personal aspirations when you were young. Did you dream about getting average grades, playing on an average team, and getting lost in the crowd? Even when the bell curve was said to be the norm, few people set a goal to carve out a niche in the middle.

Nope, I never wanted to be average. But this is a leading question…and I think many people would love to live in the middle. They grow tired and give up their dreams and settle. And then they are even willing to drink lousy gas station coffee.

Sweet 7

What factors made your most enjoyable experience of the week authentic? What kept it from seeming fabricated, forced or synthetic?

Each of my experiences had no known outcome – there was no agenda to be taken care of. They each included people with whom I have authentic relationships, especially my family, with whom I am more me than ever. And none of the experiences were based on someone else’s experiences. I didn’t copy some other idea from somewhere else – each was in the moment with the only expectation being that of loving relationships.

Sweet 6

Think about the most enjoyable experience you’ve had in the past week. What was it about that experience that made it “feel right”? Who else was involved? What were the circumstances that contributed to everything coming together just right?

I have an awesome life. I know this is true because, as a pastor, I get to see the worst of people (self-centeredness, greed, abusive power, sin…) and I get to see the best of people (self-giving, discovery, redemption, love…). So I can easily identify 4 amazing experiences this week that I would collect if I could; memories of experiences that God has given me to live. These are: late Sunday night at the invert retreat as I watched the students help an individual student work to the core of some very hard realities, buying a pool with my son and sneaking around to fill it, spending Thursday afternoon watching a move with my wife and laughing together, waking up to the feeling of Khobi’s head on my neck. These experiences “felt right” because I was able to experience little joys that remind me of the joy that is in the kingdom of God. In every case, people I love very much are involved and the experiences all have struggle to get there. From working a whole year at invert, to working through things with my kids to blocking out the demands of the world to focus on my lovely – each experience costs and each was worth more that the cost.

Sweet 5

Think about you. What is least about you? Identify the dregs of your life. Now trust the EPIC gospel, which demonstrates that God wants to turn you upside down. God wants to take what is worst in you and turn it into a source of healing, wholeness and redemption. That is how your ordinary, seemingly insignificant life can become an EPIC life.

I had to look up the word ‘dregs’ in order to figure this one out. It has to do with waste, sediment, scum and trash. So…what is the crap at the bottom of my barrel? (I write this hesitantly, because I don’t desire to turn my blog into a techno-confessional) What’s least about me is probably my disability to remember things – it’s funny to me, but it makes other people feel like I don’t care about them, which isn’t true.
This is kind of a hard question because I’ve got a lot of self-confidence. I don’t go around wishing I wasn’t me. I really like who I am and I love my life. So maybe my least is my inability to answer this question with any sort of ill feelings. I think I’m me and I’m screwed up and so are you (evidenced by your voyeurism in reading this entry – lol), so let’s just be a bunch of crack(ed) pots that are filled with the wine of Jesus…

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Scandrette, Soul Graffiti

I wanted to post this by June 1, but other things got prioritized. I finished the book a week or more ago and loved it a lot. I have to admit that Mark Scandrette (an emerging missioner who lives in San Francisco - which is the city my heart lives in...) sent me per-release copy for free and asked me to blog on it before June 1. So, I'm a let down there, but this book is mosdef not.

If this book is like anything, it's like a dirtier (that's good) version of velvet elvis. Mark's emerging is taking place in a grittier, urban setting, which gives this book such a great flavour and a richness that is absent in the suburban tales of velvet elvis. Sure, the theology and praxis is challenging and progressive in each, but velvet elvis is cute and soul graffiti has character.

Anyways - I love that I got to read this book and had a tough time putting down - it has great stories and great movements that create a longing for more - just the way that life in Jesus is supposed to. Here's some quotes I loved (the pages may be off, the store edition is a hard cover book and mine is a pre-release paper back, sorry):

p.2 "I even hear ministers and leaders lamenting, 'I don't know if I can be the kind of pastor or priest I am expected to be and an authentic follower of Jesus at the same time."

p.8 "Jesus came offering the propaganda of hope."

p.21 "...the ghost of Christ-conciousness."

p.27 "They were, it seems, haunted by God and by 'the church' and wished to do whatever it took to simply be left alone."

p.32 "Crowds are easliy impressed but can auickly become disgruntled. His real purpose, it seems, was to identify people from the crowd who might have the courage to play in the ways of the kingdom, to walk with him."

p.40 "Sometimes we learn to do things well by first having the courage to do them badly."

p.67 "What exactly is your role in the neighborhood?"

p.97 "Phenonemenological approaches to spirituality often deny or minimize the goodness revealed in the natural world, relying instead on estatic experiences and emotional peaks as confirmation of God's love. While heightened reliious experiences need not be opposed, they are often sought when we fail to embrace all of life as sacred."

p.144 "Some of us want a king without a kingdom - a God who is far away but ready to swoop in at the last moment to save us out of this place. And some of us want a kingdom without a king - and Earth home where justice, order and beauty reign without divine sovereignty or moral responsibility."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Sweet 4

Why do you think the business world plugged into the power of evangelism just as the church seems to have lost the vision?

I think, at it’s heart, the Christian message of the good news of hope, is a revolutionary, inspiring and joyous message. In some places and in some people that motivates them to evangelize in a way that is not a sales pitch or manipulative argument. I think that many people (including many who take up pew space on the weekend) find their revolution, inspiration and joy in their work/company/career because the Christianity that they have been presented with is none-of-the-above. Why wouldn’t the concepts of evangelism move with the passions of the masses?

Sweet 3

Is nothing sacred?

Really…ok...nope – but everything is sacred. The question comes by looking at the Nike symbol as half of the fish symbol, which I figure is pretty fine with me. I think we haven’t even taken good care of our symbols. The fish was a subversive symbol when it began and now we slap it on anything that doesn’t move – and cars, trucks and planes! This is a major difference between Starbucks and the USAmerican churches – one thinks and acts with some semblance of brand management and the other does not. If we want some things to be more sacred (like marriage, the family, symbols, etc.) then we’ve got to stop giving them away to any organization or movement who asks for them.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sweet 2

this might be a little too much, too many questions that i can''t hardley read anything...and its taking a long time writing this with my Q.
2. think about the historical figure you met for coffee. what did you talk about?

I would probably ask Yaconelli how he learned grace. i know about his stories from speaking gigs and such...but how did it play out in day-to-day life. and than i would ask him about Ys' role in the emergent conventions and what they were hoping for there...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


In 1980 my brother was born. I think he was born in Deep River. But maybe that was my sister. This is all very blurry. Once again, this "30" series will likely end better than it is beginning.

Sweet 1

I am reading The Gospel According to Starbucks and it has questions throughout it called, "Brewed for Thought" and I am going to make it a habit to stop reading the book and blog my answers to the questions. This will be frustrating, but I think it will make the whole book better for me.

I am trying not to be hyper-manic in my reading habits and I think this will slow me down and bit which is really good for me.

1. If you could get together with just one person from history fro coffee
and conversation (other than Jesus) whom would that person be? Why that

I have some obvious answers to this question, but I am hesitant to meet some people because I am afraid that I will be disappointed (Guevara, Alex the Great, Apostle Thomas/Peter, C.S. Lewis). Like I am afraid that my image of them is actually a lot better than who they really were. So, if there was only one non-Jesus person, I'd have to choose Mike Yaconelli, because I know exactly what I would get when meeting with him and I would really love that.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


In 1979 I was two. It was another year of the same although I think we moved to Toronto this year. My dad was in the recording industry (as an electrician for a factory that made records) and i did the basic things that two year olds do. My parents definitely hit their "dress your kids 70's style" kick and it was pretty rad. The pictures from 79 pretty much rule.

1979 was the UN international year of the child, and I was one, so that was pretty awesome. i really appreciated all the things the UN did for me that year. Stuff ME!! Gay rights really took off this year. So didChina, hitting the 1 billion mark in population. There was also a lot of global terrorism. Tons of little squirmishes. LT21 was born and Mother Teresa was given the Nobel Peace Prize.

Good Stuff 1979!!

Saturday, May 19, 2007


In 1978 I turned one. I probably moved and I probably did a lot of the same stuff as when I was zero in 1977. It was a good year.

Roman Polankshi left, Ted Bundy was arrested and Charlie Chaplin's remains were stolen. Pete Rose got his 3000th hit and the world cup was hosted in Argentina. Interestingly Pope John Paul I was pope for 33 days this year.

Friday, May 18, 2007


I was born in 1977, just a few months before Elvis died. In 1977 the death penalty was reintroduced in the US, the draft dodgers from the Vietnam war were pardoned, the Toccoa Falls dam burst and Pele retired. Three's Company premiered and the Toronto Blue Jays began to play baseball and Star Wars come out.

I was born up in northern Ontario, moved around a few times, ate and filled diapers. It was a good year.

note: these 30 years in 30 days posts will get better as my memories come back. i don't really have any memories before 1980, though.

30 days to 30

As a bit of a reflective exercise I am going to post 30 posts on the 30 days leading up to birthday number 30. It won't be every day because I am leading a retreat in the middle of this, but I will do all the years - 1977-2007! It might be 31 days or something because all that is very confusing and not the point at all. So - happy reading about my life!