Thursday, April 19, 2007

Batterson, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day

At the very least you should notice this book because the title is about as long as your arm. Mark Batterson is a pastor of a multi-site church meeting in movie theaters, an author and a blogger. Everytime you turn around it seems we are seeing him right now and he's not even published by zondervan!! That is until Zondervan buys Multnomah...

Anyways - this book is good. Not my kinda gig, but inspirational in a get off your but kinda way. He wants us to go out there and tackle the lions that are affecting us. Kinda like the time me and my friends attacked a bear with sticks. Or like the time my wife and I loaded up the van and moved to another country. Or the time we moved 3 time zones away to follow God's call...yeah - I could write this book.

There are a couple nagging questions for me in this book though - like how age affects lion chasing and how careers develop, even the main character's in this book, Benaiah. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.


So I have started a facebook. You can check it out. I started it because a lot of my family and friends from growing up in Canada are on there. A lot of them still live in snowy Canada, which makes me question their sanity. I also got on because it's like my myspace without the porn and the girl who wants to be my girlfriend from the 'true' ads. Nick MAC told me that if I change my profile to 'gay' then those will switch to alluring men. But then all sorts of people will think I am gay?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Making us think...

Barth says…

I am not now saying anything new to you in reference to this question. It was indeed one of your most renowned and ablest men, General Superintendent Gunther Jacob in Cottbus, who not long ago announced the “end of the Constantinian era”. Because I have certain wariness about all theoretical formulation of a philosophy of history, I hesitate to make this expression my own. However, it is certain that something resembling this approaching end begins to show itself simply everywhere, but very sharply in your part of the world. It is certain that we all have reason to ask ourselves each of these questions and in every case quickly and clearly to give the answer:

No, the church’s existence does not always have to possess the same form in the future that it possessed in the past as though this were the only possible pattern.

No, the continuance and victory of the cause of God which the Christian Church is to serve with her witness, is not unconditionally linked with the forms of existence which it has had until now.

Yes, the hour may strike, and perhaps has already struck when God, to our discomfiture, but to his glory and for the salvation of mankind, will put an end to this mode of existence because it lacks integrity.

Yes, it could be our duty to free ourselves inwardly from our dependency on that mode of existence even while it still lasts. Indeed, on the assumption that it may one day entirely disappear, we definitely should look about us for new ventures in new directions.

Yes, as the Church of God we may depend on it that if only we are attentive, God will show us such new ways as we can hardly anticipate now. And as the people who are bound to God, we may even now claim unconquerably security for ourselves through him. For his name is above all names…

(Source: Karl Barth, “Letter to a Pastor in the German Democratic Republic” in How to Serve God in a Marxist Land (New York: Association Press, 1959) 45-80)

ht: alan hirsch

three things: Zero and Five and encouragment

This morning I took a challenge from Pastor Hacks dot com and decided my production goal for today would be to get my email inbox down to zero. I am not the most organized person in the world, and so my skills are not exactly compatable with responding to emails in a timely manner. Unfortuanately, if I want to not suck as a leader I need to get back to peeps and deal with details. So I sucked it up and went through an inbox that was up to 192 emails last week.

Also - I did a strength finder 2.0 thing that our whole staff is doing - it's a cool and fastidious way for our staff to interact and be mutually encouraging and complimentary. My five strengths are:

Ideation - People who are especially talented in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena. Input - People who are especially talented in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information.
Learner - People who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.
Self-Assurance - People who are especially talented in the Self-Assurance theme feel confident in their ability to manage their own lives. They possess an inner compass that gives them confidence that their decisions are right.
Strategic - People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.

Thidly, I was really encouraged today by a random email from someone in our church today and twice more over the past week. Unsolicited people letting me know that they think I am on the ball and they are praying for me and my family. It was plain stinking awesome. So, go open your email program and send your pastor (not me, 'cuz i just told you to and it wouldn't be as cool) an email listing all the things you appreciate about him/her and that you are praying for him/her. If you do that then you are awesome and you may comment on this post.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


This past Saturday night our church started Saturday evening services. The group is not intended to be another option if you are busy on Sunday morning, but is a new ministry with a solid core group who are dedicated to exploring what Christianity looks like in a new postmodern world. It is also the baby steps of our church exploring what it would mean to become a multi-site church. We expereimented with it for Easter and had a lot of positive things happen - it seems good to us and to the Spirit...

It was really great to be there. We've been talking for a few years in this direction and we have been gathering and meeting with the core group since January. I am really hoping and praying that we are able to be where God is working and follow His lead in this new congregation.

Anyway - I wanted to post my notes from the teaching here. We don't have a sound person at all yet, so there's no recording. If you want to hear Kainos you'll have to be there, or pray that God leads someone to become a sound person!!



Too much thinking today begins in Genesis 3 – “we are fallen”

Misses the real beginning – WE ARE CREATION

Genesis 1:26 (MESSAGE)

WE are creation and so we are made GOOD – male and female – unique because we are images of God – moral, ethical, capabilities, different

We are the developers of CREATION – ‘rule over’

We are made to BE WITH HIM.

But God gives us a choice – to live as we are created to - or to make our own way

ADAM and EVE choose their own way, sin

This happens all the time


People choose, yet God pursues

Genesis 3:9 -
1. SELF – first question – Where are you?
2. MOTIVATIONS - who told you that?
3. ACTIOS – what did you do?

We live as God asks these questions and creation groans in anticipation of God’s answer – the questions beg us to turn to God in worship because he is the only one who can respond to our choice to live away from HIM


Sin decays the culture quickly

And people get the questions backwards –

GENESIS 11:3ff
Let’s do something!!
Let’s figure out who we are!!
Let’s maintain where we are!!

And the OT becomes a place where harmony must be regulated, produced and continually restarted.

They begin to need to produce places and ways to see where God is – yet, they continually have the choice – with God or not

Noah, Babel, the formation of Israel, the exile, the return to Israel – these are all stories of regulations, production, failure and restarting.

In this cycle – LEADERS arose – prophets and judges who called out the questions of God to the people –

We can see this in Daniel – THE MESSAGE

Chapter 1 – Daniel’s story tells : WHERE IS HE?

And Daniel experiences blessing and a long career as he chooses to live with GOD instead of apart from Him.

And the voice of the prophets call out from a holy God –






Hebrews 12 calls Jesus the Author and Perfector of the faith

CHRIST IS THE ultimate response to the QUESTIONS…

a. Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God

JOHN 8 – if you know me you know the Father

JOHN 1:14 – the glory of God exists in his identifying with our limitations. NO OTHER GOD does this.

a. John 10:10 – LIFE TO THE FULLEST

Jesus was driven by the hope that you can have the best possible life – not just someday out there – but now and today

a. MATTHEW 5-7: the kingdom manifesto

Peculiar long teaching given by Jesus – no discussion – almost like a rant!

Summarize: (from McLaren, Secret Message of Jesus)

Be poor in spirit, mourn, be meek, hunger and thirst for true righteousness, be merciful, be pure in heart, be a peacemaker, be willing to joyfully suffer persecution and insult for doing what is right.

Be salt and light in the world – by doing good works.

Do not hate or indulge in anger, but instead seek to reconcile.

Do not lust or be sexually unfaithful in your heart.

Do not presume to make vows, but have simple speech, where yes means yeas and no, no.

Do not get revenge, but find creative and nonviolent ways to overcome evil done to you.

Love your enemies, as God does, and be generous to everyone, as God is.

Give to the poor, pray and fast secretly.
Don’t let greed cloud your outlook, but store up treasure in heaven through generosity.

Don’t worry about your own daily needs, but instead trust yourself to God’s care, and seek God’s kingdom first and foremost.

Don’t judge others, but instead first work on your own blindness.

God to God with all your needs, knowing that God is a caring Father.

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Don’t be misled by religious talk, what counts is actually living by Jesus’ teaching.

SO WE live in this way of Jesus – sure we fail, but God is chasing us asking us questions, and providing Christ as a response to our choice to sin.

WE must know, though, that if you follow these ways, the only natural place to end up is the cross…


Center of our space, even as we are sitting open to one another in community, it is the sacrifice of Jesus which is at our center.

Kainos is new – but it is really just a very old way of people following these ways and participating in communion to show our unity with God and with each other.

Our desire to be the kingdom of God – to be Eden again.



SO WE HAVE the beginning and the very ending of the story and our task is to

LIVE OUT the middle so that it aligns with the rest of the story.

The church is this act – universally and locally, SACC

There have been times when we have strayed from that story – both universally and locally…yet we continue to seek to get our questions in order and return to the gospel and be messengers of it.

Kainos is the new effort of SACC to bring the gospel to an emerging, postmodern culture.
We are asking who we are as Christians living in a new world?
How is the message of Jesus GOOD NEWS in this world?
What will we do to live the kingdom manifesto here?


Characteristics of the new world – authority based on trust, loss of a metanarrative, many truths can be held in opposition, deconstruction of hierarchy, communication revolution, terrorism – new kinds of military action, etc.

BARTH – “The gospel is not a truth among other truths. Rather, it sets a question mark against all truths.”

So it is my hope that Kainos holds a question mark to the emerging culture – not with words, but with LIFE!

So we will eat, play, sing, serve, explore, give and BE together as EPHESIANS 2:22

IN WORSHIP OUR Dominate metaphor will be a living room – as we sit totally comfortable with Christ in our midst.

By doing so, we hope to expand the mission to new places and reach new people with hope and light and love – 2 CORINTHIANS 10:15

But this is not our program or our mission –

Romans 12 (The MESSAGE) – we will all live it – we are all contributors – we are all co-creators as we partner with God


Acts 4:33

Much Grace be on us all.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Nice Christmas!

I was looking at another blog and have come across and offer of a whole free library that I want to be a part of (because of my love of the books) and want to get you in on if you blog at all.

Kevin Stilley is offering to give away up to $1000 of books! You can be a part of this give away by going to his site and getting in on the whole load of excitement.

I don't know who Kevin is, but he seems to be an avid reader - which makes him someone with something to say, so check it out and get involved!

Amen, Healing the Hardware of the Soul

Dr. Dan Amen heads up a new organizational clinic that scans brain activity and attempts to medicate in order to stimulate and de-stinulate according to activity patterns. It makes a lot of sense to me - and I think I can make a scanner with a microwave, undeveloped photo film and tinfoil.

He gets into some theological questions which is where people in my class got all humanistically antsy. He questions whether people should be held accountable for their actions when their brain is sick and malfunctioning. He even asks if St. Paul had a brain siezure that caused his Damascus road vision instead of the traditional explanation.

These are good questions that should be considered. I like this book, even if a SPECT scan costs thousands upon thousands of dollars in a country with no public health care program for the masses. But, I don't want to rant twice in a row.

Adams, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible

This book was assigned to me for PESM Counselling class. It is written by Jay E. Adams, a nouthetic counsellor, which basically means he believes the Bible has all we need to help people in counselling situations. I disagree with this.

Nevertheless, I read it and many people liek to declare it, "All they need is the WORD OF GOD!" which sounds very noble, but doesn't always work out. I think God put creating ability within us and we are to develop sciences and theories and learn and grow and help each other as we have learned how.

In any case, Adams gives a pretty thorough examination of the relvant Scripture concerning marriage, divorce and remarriage. It is firey stuff because of the current high divorce rate within the church and the laxity with which we deal with the institution of marriage. It's ironic to see some churches so vehemently confronting gay marriage, all the while watching families fall apart within them. We shouldn't need to argue with policy and politics. Our message should come in our lives - the true description of Christianity.

Weir, When Your Doctor has Bad News

Yet another book that has been assigned to me for my master's program at PESM. This one is for the paper I wrote on life, death, pain and suffering.

Dr. Al Weir writes this book to give steps to strength, healing and hope to people who are suffering and trying to get through a period of time when the doctor has given them a bad news answer to what ails them. I like this book because of it's emphasis on community and the role of one's small group of Christian peers and family when facing difficult times. He also focuses on the ability to choose life and positivity in the face of death and negativiity. His focus is on helping people make healthy, life-giving choices in their attitudes and actions in order to bear suffering and death.

Instead of quotes, here's a Scripture from Habakkuk 3 that will rock you to the core:

I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Zurheide, When Faith is Tested

Jeffry Zurheide is a pastor in Connecticut and he wrote this really, really awesome book on the interaction of faith, suffering, evil and God's omnipotence. He offers insight from a Barthian perspective, which I have not ever read, but am falling deeply in love with Karl Barth and his viewpoints.

p.36 "Barth places before humanity a God who is by nature removed, but is in practice pursuing, intimate and close."

p.37 "It is rather unthinkable that the eternal God would choose to succomb to the power of brokenness to the point of tasting the same death that we taste."

Lutzer, One Minute After You Die

I was assigned this book to read as a part of creating a theology of life, death, pain and suffering. It was a cool excercise with three books read and compared and contrasted, which I will all blog here.

Lutzer gives a very basic overview of eschatology and throws in some creative writing from his own imagination in order to spice things up a little. Like, he suggests mental powered instant teleportation will be available in heaven. Funny, but not in the Bible.

One of the best things he got me to think about is the concept of satisfaction and life and how life is satisfied, and death is not. Interesting implications, don't you think?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Sproul, The Holiness of God

R.C. Sproul is a flaming Calvinist so I thought I'd read his book on The Holiness of God as a part of my collateral reading required for my holiness class. It didn't disappoint. It seems like Sproul had a great idea for a 100 page book and decided to make it 200. There's a chapter dedicated to the apparent insanity of Martin Luther and a chapter dedicated to ripping on Pelagius. Sproul is probably a great guy and loves his family and all, but I am not going to put anything more here about this book. I had to write a review for my class and I said it was interesting to read about holiness from a different vantage point.

But that's where the neatness ends.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Holiness and Emergence

I don't have a category for holiness on this blog, which is rather surprising to you for two reasons: 1. I talk/write about it a lot and 2. I told you it was surprising for you, and that's how spreaching works.

I really, honestly think that holiness movements and the Emergent movement are so intertwined that there need not be a distinction.

I really, honestly think that holiness denominations have fantastic positioning to reaching into a postmodern age, because of their holistic understanding of faith and life experience.

I really, honestly believe that holiness denominations have crippled themselves by moving their focus from freedom in life through methods to limiting everything out of a fear of losing their holiness.

I'd rather have a dirty holiness any day than a clean legalism.

Here's what Scot McKnight points out in his post on holiness and emergence:

Here are the traits of the emerging movement according to Gibbs and Bolger: it is a list of holiness.

1. Identifying with Jesus.
2. Transforming secular space.
3. Living as community.
4. Welcoming the stranger.
5. Serving with generosity.
6. Participating as producers.
7. Creating as created beings.
8. Leading as a body.
9. Merging ancient and contemporary spiritualities.

Do you think this is a list of holiness attributes?

Rose, Vital Holiness

Delbert Rose gave this book to all the students in my holiness class. I didn't read the whole thing because there is a long section on a particularly important man (who had the misfortune of having a name that matches the name of a founder of something else entirely) and I didn't care for that part. In addition, I didn't have to read any more than I did to meet the extra collateral reading requirement for my class. Iread the parts on the beginnings of the holiness movement (the holiness club, camp meetings, methodism, etc.) and on the theology of man, sin, grace, and a short bit on sanctification.

It's a sweet book by a sweet man. Anyways, here's some fodder:

p.24 "Wesley's sole objective was to save his own soul and the souls of others who might receive help from him."

p.145 "According to His own divine estimate, God's created world, including both nature and man, was good (HOLY) as it came from His creative hand. Its goodness (HOLINESS) was soon marred through the manifestation of evil..." (brackets mine)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Wesley, A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

John Weley's Plain Account was assigned for my master's class on Holiness Theology. Because I think that the core of Emergent is similar to the core of holiness theology, I resonate with Wesley's work, methods, and thinking. He is also a great process guy, who changed his mind on several things later in life. Many people call that flip-floping, like when a politician supports something and later doesn't. I think it could be growing in wisdom.

My version was purchased from Relevant books. relevant is trying really hard to be just that for young adult christians - sometimes they are bang on, other times they betray their efforts. They put out several'christian classics' with cooler covers and they are, hopefully, putting good stuff into the hands of those young adult christians.

Wesley, a modern version of Brian Mclaren, mangaged to say a lot without letting people pin him down on things that he didn't want to be pinned down on. He also made much of his theology appear through his journals and his songs (with his brother), never authroing a systematic theology. He wasn't trying to start something, he was just trying to be as faithful as possible to the prompting of the Holy Spirit in his heart.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Deal, The Smart Step-Family

The number of kids in my youth ministry who are in step-family situations is surprisng, and perhaps alarming. I get nervous because many of these second (third, fourth, fith) marriages are wildly unprepared and end up failing, which hurts the children even more.

Ron Deal wrote this book, which was assigned to me for PESM, as an attempt to mobilize the church to be aware and able to minister to people in these situations. Our church has been pro-active in the area of ministry to step-families and I love the way that we are helping to make families and marriages stronger. Of course we are morally against homosexual union, but we are focusing on what we are for: strong, God-honoring marriages and families.

Here's some thoughts:

p.21 "avoiding divorce by tolerating a miserable marriage, I suggested, does no honor God." But neither does divorce, so where are we left?

p.91 "If the biological parent doesn't help the outsider stepparent into a leadership position, the stepparent is likely to try to force his or her way in. This almost always results in resentment and resistance from the insiders. Again, jealousy, rejection, and anger are common resulting emotions."

p.105 "it's worth noting that boys are more affected by divorce, but girls seem to be more affected by remarriage." This is where the rubber hits the road for youth ministry - where are the kids hurting...

Howe, A Pastor in Every Pew

Leroy Howe wrote this book and it was assigned as reading for my master's counselling class. I was not assigned chapter 9, or the last 40 pages of the book, so I read about half of it.

This book is a presentation of the idea that the more people in a church that are equipped for pastoral care or counselling the more health and life that church will expereience. There is also a training program in the last half of the book which would make it useful for pastors who want to equip their people. A short read that could help pastors who want to mobilize their church to effectively care for each other.

Myers and Jeeves, Psychology Through the Eyes of Faith

David G. Myers and Malcom A. Jeeves wrote this book on the interaction of psychology and faith, which I was required to read for my master's counselling class. I didn't read every page, only the assigned 100 pages, so about half this book, but it was really a neat look at this delicate interaction.

Here's some intersting thoughts...

p.65 quoting Simon Weil, "If I light an electric torch at night, I don't judge its power by looking at the bulb, but by seeing how many objects it lights up...The brightness of a source of light is appreciated by the illumination it projects upon non-luminous objects...The value of a religious or, more generally, a spiritual way of life is appreciated by the amount of illumination throuwn upon the things of this world."

p.68, Here there is an interesting consideration of a seemingly transcultural rest and wandering rite of passage and its paralellism to Sabbath

p.85 Chapter 15 talks about Thinking and Language and how the development of modern psychology is impacting (and vice-versa) modern theology. Then chapter 16 becomes very provocative in regards to prayer. This is a chapter that demands some real reflection and working through and gives lots of benefit to the person who is willing to do so.

p.172 quoting Pascal, "The present is never our end. the past and the present are our means - the future alone is our end. So we never live, but we hope to live - and as we are always preparing to be happy, it is inevitable we should never be so." Ahh the perils of positive thinking...

p. 177, on early followers of Jesus, "They willingly experienced humiliation, even death, as the price for not adjusting to their culture. For the heroes of the Bible, good adjustment - thinking well of oneself and feeling positive about the world - was not the aim of life.

Sanders, Spiritual Leadership

I've read and reviewed this book before, but I had to read it again for my PESM program this year. This book is good, but has a lot of old school feel. It's a collection of sermons also, which makes it a little bit of an awkward read sometimes.

Anyways - I read it again and didn't have any great epiphanies excpt wondering how the old guys feel knowing that those crazy young guys are going to outlive them and do whatever seems right to them after the old guys are dead. I think the only way to feel good about this is to develop wise, godly and good-thinking young leaders so that all your work doesn't go to crap. So, perhaps, the most telling indicator of extended-future effectiveness of an organization is the measurement of their developing of great young leaders.

Blackaby, Spiritual Leadership

I have read a ton of books recently for finishing up this year's worth of my master's program at PESM. So I am going to blog a bunch of them to get a record for myself - and to catch up to Nick or at least look respectable next to him...some of these I read in 2006, but haven't blogged yet, so they didn't count for my count in 2006. This is kinda like rolling over my 401k...

So Spiritual Leadership by Henry and Richard Blackaby is a book I tried to read fast but it was so good I was constantly being slowed down. It is a really stellar book on spiritual leadership without the big ugly old school references. It doesn't make allusions to 'pastors used to work harder' that another book I will blog does.

The book does seem to contradict itself sometimes, but I think that catches the tension that spiritual leadership presents in Amercian culture. Pastors need to be really hard workers who are really good at their family and really good at slowing down to rest and pray. Inevitably, the juggler drops a ball every now and then. There's also ample references to President Truman, which makes me want to research that guy and his career path a bit.

I borrowed, my copy and am returning it today, but this is one that needs to go on the wish list (when I finish my book buying fast after I read the 38 books on my 'next to read' shelf).