Monday, December 28, 2009

Mark Batterson's Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity

I'm only one third of the way through Mark Batterson's latest book Primal, and I'm already challenged beyond compare. I agree that the problem with Christianity is not Christ, its us, the Christians. We are not as great as the Great Commandment. I can see instances in my own life where I do not live up to the Love4 (Love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength). It is so easy to compartmentalize our walk with Jesus. And honestly, I have come to the point to where my Christian faith is like stale bread in the middle of the desert. I need to discover new ways of loving God. It is true that people respond to compassion, as Mark calls it, the ultimate apologetic, and that we need to start a revolution of compassion to show the world the real Jesus. Personally, after reading the section about income ceiling, my wife and I are considering ways we can downsize our lives in order to greatly live out the Great Commandment. From the mundane, to the challenging. Batterson sheds new light on the primitive nature of the Christian Faith. We need to get back to our roots. We need to get back to something Primal. Thanks Mark for reminding us.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Modern Day Tower of Babel

I was reminded today that even if you speak the same "language" it does not mean you are "communicating." I'm amazed how the same English words can be interpreted so many ways. Even in our technical age with tools like Google Translate, we still are not connecting with our communication. Perhaps as the whole becomes more global, we are becoming less connected. A new and more powerful but less evident Tower of Babel is emerging. Perhaps on the venue that this comment is being written and read?

Monday, November 02, 2009

An Age of the Spirit

Harvey Cox in Chapter 1 of The Future of Faith begins with the history of Christianity in three ages: the Age of Faith, the Age of Belief, and the upcoming Age of the Spirit. Briefly describing each, Cox contrasts the difference between Faith and Belief. After outlining these differences, the more lively Age of Spirit is presented. Cox says, and I would tend to agree, that the Age of the Spirit will look more like the Age of Faith than that of the Age of Belief. I must admit that living in the transition between the Ages of Belief and Spirit can be quite difficult. Yet, there is a freedom in living in the Age of Spirit. First of all, having a line list of “beliefs” can be quite burdensome, especially for those (like myself) that have terrible memories. I have always struggled with the “beliefs” because of all the study required to memorize all of those things I am to believe. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against studying, and we should study to show ourselves approved. However, true Faith is not shown just in the study, but also in the deeds.

Another point of tension is how divided the study time can become. We spend a great deal of time studying what we believe, but never practicing/doing what we believe. And the problem with beliefs, especially in the context of our times is that present day Christians are better known for what we believe we are against (homosexuality, abortion, and pre-marital sex) rather than what we are for (faith, hope, and love). Jesus said that people would know that we are His disciples by our love, not by our beliefs.

Cox also describes this coming Age of the Spirit as one that will rediscover “the sacred in the immanent, the spiritual within the secular” (page 2). I agree. People are looking to see how we can live our whole lives as worship unto Jesus. No more compartmentalization – Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, soul, mind, and strength. People are looking for something to live for now, not just the hereafter.

I agree that our Faith in Jesus should be more about a direct encounter with Jesus. After all, I am a Pentecostal. However, my only contention with Cox’s proposal so far is that the Christian Faith is never to be lived in polar extremes. Just as Cox points to the abuses of creeds and party line stances, many can point to abuses of the freedom of the Spirit. A life following Jesus is not just our reasoning out our beliefs, but it is one of weighing out what the faithful hear the Spirit saying. Does it line up with what has already been revealed in the Holy Bible? Yes. I believe and trust and have faith that the Spirit who blows where He wills speaks to us today. Never should we only look to one aspect of our faith. We should always have a healthy, holistic, Spirit filled Faith.

Social Media Article

Interesting article on communication barriers and the influence of social media from a furniture retailer's perspective

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My New Retirement Fund

I earned $0.01 today via Google AdSense on my blog Now I can retire and live in the lap of luxury.

Harvey Cox's The Future of Faith

Philip Clayton and Harvey Cox both have new books out and they are taking them out on tour. One of the blog tour stops will be here, but as you can see below they will be making their rounds over the next month until they wrap things up in Montreal at the American Academy of Religion's annual meeting. There they will be joined by an illustrious panel including Eric Gregory, Bruce Sanguin, Serene Jones, Frank Tupper, and Andrew Sung Park to share a 'Big Idea' for the future of the Church. These 'Big Ideas' will be video tapped and shared, so be on the look out for live footage from the last night of the tour.

Philip's new book is Transforming Christian Theology for Church & Society and Harvey's is The Future of Faith. Both are worth checking out at one of the many tour stops. If you can't wait you can listen to them interview each other.

I will be reviewing Cox's The Future of Faith. Below are links to the blogs of others that are joining in on the fun.

Joseph Weethee , Jonathan Bartlett, The Church Geek, Jacob’s Cafe, Reverend Mommy, Steve Knight, Todd Littleton, Christina Accornero, John David Ryan, LeAnn Gunter Johns, Chase Andre, Matt Moorman, Gideon Addington, Ryan Dueck, Rachel Marszalek, Amy Moffitt, Josh Wallace, Jonathan Dodson, Stephen Barkley, Monty Galloway, Colin McEnroe, Tad DeLay, David Mullens, Kimberly Roth, Tripp Hudgins, Tripp Fuller, Greg Horton, Andrew Tatum, Drew Tatusko, Sam Andress, Susan Barnes, Jared Enyart, Jake Bouma, Eliacin Rosario-Cruz, Blake Huggins, Lance Green, Scott Lenger, Dan Rose, Thomas Turner, Les Chatwin, Joseph Carson, Brian Brandsmeier, J. D. Allen, Greg Bolt, Tim Snyder, Matthew L. Kelley, Carl McLendon, Carter McNeese, David R. Gillespie, Arthur Stewart, Tim Thompson, Joe Bumbulis, Bob Cornwall
This Tour is Sponsored by Transforming Theology DOT org!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Directionally Challenged by Travis Collins

I picked up this book because this is exactly how I feel...Directionally Challenged. We all feel this way at one time or another and Collins does an excellent job of laying a good foundation on expressing these feelings of "lostness" into words. And yet, lays out a map to finding your way again. Through stories and anecdotes, the author keeps your interest while driving the point home "you may FEEL lost, but there IS a way to the other side." Chapter 3 titled "The COMPASS" alone is worth the price of the book. In it, Collins outlines a guide to find your way in troubled times. Like a real compass, this spiritual map is practical and handy, but does not show you every step of the way. Although the book could have been 100 pages shorter, it is a helpful guide through the muck of mediocrity. Directionally Challenged provides real world examples of those that seemed to wonder aimlessly only to find their place in this world. Not only does Collins' work assist those looking for direction, the book also challenges your direction. We must always remember that our path is one of what Collins labels "follower-ship" in which we are only told to follow Jesus. In this path we are lead to life of courage and mystery.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Contemplating these questions:

What can I do?
What are those things that I am physically, mentally, emotionally, capable and gifted to do?

What I should I do?
What are those things that I am being told by God, my wife, my family, my community, and by society that I should do?

What will I do?
Of these things, (the can and should) which of them am I willing to do?

What must I do?
What are the non-negotiables?

What am I compelled to do?
Which of these do I have a drive/desire/passion to do?

What do I do?
In light of the questions above, what is the next step?

Friday, October 23, 2009

You Can't Teach Interesting

One of my graduate professors told me once that you can't reach a person how to be interesting. You either are or you are not. This may be true. However, in light of a recent conversation with my wife, I'm wondering if this has more to do with the person making the observation of the individual in question. In other words, is it because I AM boring or because YOU THINK I'm boring that makes me boring? Maybe like beauty, boring is in the eye of the beholder. I remember when I was a kid having to hang out with my parents and their friends one afternoon. All they wanted to do was talk! How boring!!! Now that I'm older, I find enjoyment in conversations with friends. Maybe the "un-interesting" has more to do with context than the personality of the individual. Or maybe you've fallen asleep reading this blog. Either way, one man's boring is another man's enjoyment.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Abrupt Story Endings

Genesis 50:26 So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.

Period, the end. I hate it when books or movies end this way. I guess I'll have to read the sequel "Exodus."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

God's Interstate & Highway System

Isaiah 40:3-5
A voice of one calling:
"In the desert prepare
the way for the LORD;
make straight in the wilderness
a highway for our God.

4 Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.

5 And the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
and all mankind together will see it.
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

The point of this passage is to remove all obstacles in front of people so that they can see/experience God. In the in the New Testament this passage is used by John the Baptist to prepare the nation of Israel for the coming of Jesus.

Around my hometown they are making a highway that streches only about 17 miles. The old highway was two lanes, but led to the city of the old part of the next town. So, the Highway Department starting preparing the land for the new four lane highway. If you've spent any time on the interstate/highway system (at least where I'm from) it takes a LONG time to get the land ready for a highway. They survey, and survey, and survey the land again. Then they plan, re-plan, and plan. They negoiate with the landowners, homeowners, and figure out exactly where the roads are going to be. After the plan is done, the land mover rigs come in. They grate, flatten, and move earth around until they have a solid road.

Only after all of this does the actual road go down. This is a whole other process. Packing the dirt, paving with the asphalt, both lanes, putting up barrier if needed, painting the lanes, putting up the speed limit signs, and I'm sure a dozen other processes I'm not even aware of.

I wonder, do we put that much work into "making straight paths" for Jesus? Do we take this amount time, effort, money to ensure that people see Jesus and not all of the stuff that gets in the way? Or, do we just clear a walking path that slows people down, or worse, one that no one can use or even knows exists?

Should we not have a spiritual/cultural DOT for everyone of our faith communities? Perhaps a group of people that keep their eyes on the road, so to speak, for those things that get in the way of people seeing Jesus? At the very least, should we not view all of our processes in the same manner? Should we not look at everything we do with "highway tinted glasses"? Isn't this what being relevant to our culture is all about?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Weaked Eyed Blessed One

Genesis 29:17 Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful.

Genesis 29:31
When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. 32 Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, "It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now."

33 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too." So she named him Simeon. c]">

34 Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons." So he was named Levi.

35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "This time I will praise the LORD." So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.

Leah, the "weak eyed" unloved wife of Jacob was the mother of Levi (The Priestly Tribe) and Judah (The Kingly Tribe).

No application here. I just find this interesting.

Seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines

Judges 14:1 Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. 2 When he returned, he said to his father and mother, "I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife."

3 His father and mother replied, "Isn't there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?"
But Samson said to his father, "Get her for me. She's the right one for me." 4 (His parents did not know that this was from the LORD, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.)

Interesting. God was seeking an opportunity to confront the enemies of the people of God. He used an outside the box (at least culturally to the Israelites) solution to create conflict in order to bring peace.

I wonder, what in our lives is Jesus pushing us into conflict in order to bring peace?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Opportunity dresses down

“Trouble is only opportunity in work clothes.” - J. Kaiser

Monday, May 18, 2009

I'm Investing in You as a Person

Cara said this to me last night. The context was I requested Coke Zero from the grocery store per my sugar fast with my Pastor Jon Hammond. My request was for one 12 oz - 20 oz bottle. One drink. Cara brought back a 12 fridge pack of 12 oz cans. I said, "I really only wanted one." Her response, "I'm investing in you as a person. If buying you a case of zero calorie soda keeps you from eating donuts at work, then it's worth it." Wow. I've never seen marriage as an investment in another person. Maybe more marriages would be saved if we all viewed our marriages this way (example: Fire Proof movie, Love Dare book). Perhaps all of our relationships should be viewed this investment in another person.

The result? I've only had one of the Coke Zero's today and have not been tempted by sugar at all. This investment makes me want to give Cara a greater return on her investment. Her return? A healthier Monty.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pizza Epiphany

Eating my leftover Stuff Crusted Chicken and Bacon pizza from Papa Murphy's (which I highly recommend) I had an epiphany. Normally we buy the cheapest pizza from another pizza chain. This pizza is good, but its nothing special. It's a one topping medium for $5, and does the trick when I'm hungry and want pizza. However, the Stuff Crusted Chicken and Bacon pizza from Papa Murphy's was amazing. It's the best pizza I've had in a very long time. In fact, it's my new favorite.

This got me to thinking...I could have the $5 pizza anytime. It's quick, cheap, and satisfies my hunger. It's convenient as the $5 pizza is just down the street. Don't get me wrong, it's a good $5 pizza. However, it's nothing like my new favorite.

Relevance? Well, I could live a life of $5 pizza. Quick, cheap, and convenient. But, is that the life I really want to lead? Or, do I want to lead a life I REALLY ENJOY? A life in which I look forward to partaking? I know that MOST of life is mundane, but should we not take every opportunity to LIVE life and not just endure it?

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious

I've really been struggling lately with Galatians 5:19-26

19The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.

There is a parallel here in my own life between fits of rage vs. patience and kindness. Lately it's been really stressful at work. Although I haven't yelled, screamed, and cursed out my co-workers, I haven't exactly been patient and kind. The acts of my sinful nature have been obvious. Jesus doesn't command us to be patient and kind ONLY when things are going well. It's when things ARE NOT going well that we must stand up to the stress and be patient and kind.

So, my focus today has been to be patient and kind to everyone I encounter today. So far, I'm about 50/50. I pray the day improves.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

This Prayer Sabbatical

Is harder that I realized or imagined it would be. I'm reading a devotional book by A.W. Tozer. His take on prayer is basically this, it's the most important thing we can do. That is, we need to be in constant contact with God before having contact with men. Tozer's rule of thumb is that you should spend a LOT more time with God than man. Yet, prayer (communication with God) is the easiest thing to neglect. Why is it that the thing I need the most is the one thing I can never "make" time for?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The New

As People we're always concerned about the New.  New clothes, new shoes, new songs, new tv show, new episode, new (insert here).  What about Jesus?  I think he was concerned about the New, but not like you or me.  What about new life, new community, new purpose, new meaning, new day, new hope.  Maybe this is what Easter is really all about.  The New.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Blaise Pascal Quote

"We are generally the better persuaded by the reasons we discover ourselves than by those given to us by others."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

2009 Article Ideas

Here are my 2009 Article Ideas

  • Friendship Evangelism Makes Me Sick 
  • The Chillax (Chill & Relax) Method of Evangelism 
  • An Interactive Faith with an Interactive God 
  • The Priesthood of Unbelievers 
  • Secondary Church Plant Leaders 
  • Play Evangelism (hangin out for Jesus?) 
  • Organized Miracles (how miracles can flow through organization) 
  • Barnabus - The Invisible Church Planter  
  • Is God Proactive or Reactive? 
  • The pursuit of God-ordained passions. 
  • Personal Philanthropy
  • The Preacher Gave Me the Finger (it's not the one your thinking)
My goal is to write one a month. How's that going you ask? I'm already a month behind. :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ordination Confirmed

I just got off the phone with the credentialing specialist at the Northwest Ministry Network office.  The presbyters have confirmed my request for ordination and are sending their recommendation to the national office tomorrow. :) 

The ordination ceremony will be at the Northwest Network Conference on April 29th.

Thanks for all your help, support, and prayers.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

EPIC Church

I dream of an EPIC Church.

A place where people will Encounter God and Experience His presence. A place where people will Participate in Journey, in the Mission of God.  A place where people can Imagine what God can do through them using their unique gifts and talents.  A place where Connectedness to God, other Christians, and others on a journey is the primary ethos.