Monday, October 22, 2012

Generally Speaking

"Generally speaking we are in God's will whenever we are leading the kind of life He wants for us. And that leaves a lot of room for initiative on our part, which is essential: our individual initiatives are central to His will for us."

Dallas Willard, Hearing God.

What a blessing God has given us in our collaborative existence with Him: scary & exciting all at the same time wouldn't you agree?

Let's not settle for something short of the Life He intends for us to live.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Bullfighter

"It is not the same to talk of bulls as to be in the bull ring."

Spanish Proverb

Tuesday, August 07, 2012


     "In short, the Psalms provide the language, the aspirations, the energy for the community as it comes together in prayer, & they then call into being & are formative for the activities of the prophets, wise men, & historians. The Psalms initiate; the prophets follow. The inner action of prayer takes precedence over the outer action of proclamation."
     "The implication of this for pastoral work is plain: it begins in prayer. Anything creative, anything powerful, anything Biblical, insofar as we are participants in it, originates in prayer. Pastors who imitate the preaching & moral action of the prophets without also imitating the prophets' deep praying & worship so evident in the Psalms are an embarrassment to the faith & an encumbrance to the church."

Working the Angles
Eugene Peterson

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Back To Eden

Back To Eden

Linda is becoming a very good gardener lately. Too, we are discovering the importance & power of food; where it comes from, who grows it, & how it is produced. In America we have the cheapest food costs of any developed nation & at the same time the highest medical costs. You are what your eat.  This documentary, like this one called Fresh, have quirky characters, but they are sincere.

Although not directly related, these subjects can do much to inform our theology. God has a long history of relating to his people through the rhythms of the seasons. In today's world we rely heavily on engineering, both in the field & in the church. Gardening has much to teach us about why seasons are important.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Giving 100%

Life's been full to say the least.

Recently I was presented with a statistic I've heard a thousand times: "20% of the church does 80% of the work." I contested the statement, but I think my objections fell short to a statistic that, within our current popular church culture, is as good as gold.

To me, this statistic is complete nonsense. It didn't use to be. When I was the pastor of a large church & much of our time was devoted to in house administration work within the church, I understood the stat very well; & in this context it might be true. However, as my theology has been rocked by my current theological context my understanding of "church" & "work" have been greatly renewed. Not only does this stat no longer hold its weight, I would argue it does much damage to those within the church who don't feel called or led to take up a role within the church, but are being used by God in their daily lives.

In light of this, my stat is: "100% of the church is doing 100% of the work God intends it to do 100% of the time." This statement lays a heavy load on God & takes much of the weight off of us. God is constantly at work in & through his church.

Some questions to wrestle with: What exactly is the work of the church? Who are the people doing the work? Are certain forms of work more valid than others? Do we esteem some work over others? Is being a small group leader more important to God than being an outstanding baker (or brewer)? What's the difference, in God's eyes, between an Usher & a construction worker who are both born-again?

Let me expand on this question: Is preaching more important than being a stay at home mom? Most "ministry" minded women who become mothers wrestle with this & by ministry I mean in house (church) work. Let me create a short story:

Let's look at the short life of Brenda who is a shining star within the church. Brenda came to church with a friend, loved the music, connected with the Timothy Hybels (or Bill Keller) style preaching, & gave her life to Christ. She brought her husband the next week & he too got saved. They immediately joined a small group & shortly after, Brenda & Jim became interns & then leaders. Brenda then got pregnant with her first child vowing to keep her church schedule. After the birth of Tyler, Brenda soon found out what all parents know: A child changes everything. Because Tyler didn't sleep well, neither did Brenda. She was exhausted all day & night. Too, her relationship with Jim was becoming stressed due to the new baby. Just maintaining a normal relationship with her husband was now very tiring. She tried to maintain her roles within church: Sunday service, & small group leadership, but Tyler, like most babies, wasn't created to sit quietly. Tired & worn out by the normal issues associated with motherhood Brenda had to stop "ministry" & focus on her new child & family.

When exactly did Brenda stop doing ministry? This is a very important question. When did ministry start & when did ministry stop for Brenda? The answer is very simple: Ministry started the moment she became alive in Christ & it hasn't ended.

I think all of this stems from a dearly loved western theology: Dualism. God is in heaven I am on earth. Preaching is spiritual, baking bread is normal. Small group leadership is glorifying to God, being a salesman is not. Being a missions leader is important to God, being a stay at home mom isn't. Is our definition of the 20% God's definition? No.

Communion is one of the biggest slaps in the face to dualism. Simple everyday items demonstrate the promise of God to us here & now: Bread & Wine, not transformed into otherworldly items, but enjoyed as they are in their daily context as they we're meant to be enjoyed. Simple, everyday items. Simple, everyday use. Simply found anywhere & everywhere. Simple everyday items displaying the glory of God. This is the sign of God's everlasting promise to us. Please read: Alexander Schmennan "For the life of the world"

Ministry is us simply doing what it is we do as transformed people.

Have you ever noticed Paul never asked anyone in his churches to abandon their job for the ministry? Baptism is ordination. The people of the church are ministry.

"100% of the church is doing 100% of the work God intends it to do 100% the time."

This is a work in progress; but could you imagine what could happen if we all understood that our daily lives lived in simple ways are exactly how God intends to share redemption with mankind? What would that look like:


Thursday, May 03, 2012

Good Questions

I recently went down to San Diego to hang with some church planters I'm friends with. One of the people within their church emailed me some questions & I thought it would make good food for thought here. 

Thanks for the question, I'll do my best to answer it. 

"It seems to me that the Bible teaches conformity in many ways, in other words, there are only so many leaders and the rest should follow."

Two questions here, first Conformity. The Bible does teach conformity however we have the choice to either obey or do our own thing. The Bible is many things & one of them is "how best to live life." Now WE think we know how to live life, but do we? Do you? I don't. God created humans; I'm learning what it means to be human. I assume He knows best how we should live life in a world which is corrupt by sin. Too, do we actually think we are free from conformity if we don't conform to the Bible? This is foolish. We are mastered by whatever masters us. As I often say, just because you realize your ability to choose doesn't make you mature. I constantly choose the wrong thing. God has never chosen the wrong thing when I've followed his ways. Lastly, here's something I tell people: When I choose to express my "freedom," choosing to do my own thing I discover bondage; when I bind myself to Christ I always find freedom. When conformity always leads to freedom what do we call that? 

Leadership within the church. The irony in this question is that ANYONE can become a leader within the church. That said, most people choose not to take responsibility for anyone other than themselves. Leadership is both a calling & a choice. God calls some to leadership; however God calls everyone to grow up, become like the Father, & take responsibility for the story of redemption ("we are ambassadors in Christ."). Sadly, most people remain infantile in their theology & are solely concerned about their own welfare & not the welfare of others both inside & outside of the church. Anyone can become a leader within the church, including, & hopefully, men of God like you. 

" individual nature of human beings." 

This is an odd cultural assumption we read into the Bible. God himself isn't an individual. The story of mankind has never been about individuals: Adam was given Eve; Noah & his family; Abraham & his family; Joseph & his brothers; Israel being THE main character within the Old Testament; Jesus & the twelve; Paul & his companions; The Trinity. In America we STRESS individualism. Is this right, wrong, or different. I say different; however we have to understand how this effects our theology. Do we have individual nature? Yes. That said, Paul make it plain that Christ is honored above all creation because He gave up His rights for us. Once again, am I most important to me or us? Who am I living for me or us? Is my faithfulness for me or us? Will my life be given so I can feel important or can I see the value in those who will never know me, maybe not appreciate me, but can benefit from me using my individual nature to love what God loves: People. & how does God show his love to people? The people of God living for the purposes of God: CHURCH. Watch the movie: Of Gods & Men. What a privilege we have in being able to be church with each other & the world. Too, we don't lose ourselves in others; we truly find ourselves as we give our life for others like Christ gave His life for us. "Whoever saves his life will lose it, whoever loses their life will find it." Do we believe this? 

Hopefully this answered your questions. If not write me back & ask away. I think God intentioned for us to meet & you are an incredible man of God.