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."