Thursday, December 31, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
In 2000, I turned 30...and the above image was my most visceral archetype of God, my faith and the struggle to become the man, God had made me to be. Looking back at turning 30, it seems to be a dark time. It was a season of immense introspection and projection. What I thought were my enemies that were presenting me from rising, accomplishing and expanding...were more often my own personal demons. I thought I had a war to fight...and yet, the one that was raging the most fierce was really in my own soul.
Issues of masculinity, the role of becoming a man, was more a search for my own identity than anything as I reflect. I gravitated to images and portions Scripture that undergirded this inner identity journey. I don't think I used scripture as much as the scriptures allowed me to inhabit images that sustained or explained my path and my heart. The stories and pictures of God became more like totems that empowered me...light that guided me and food that nourished me. But as the years moved on...I see that what propelled me at one season...becomes detrimental in another. One face of God...isn't all the faces of God.
The Apostle John references: Children, Young Men and Fathers in 1 John 2:13...a triunity of manhood...phases perchance of the development of the soul of a man? I see a development in my inner life that moves from weakness to strength to weakness again. But where I used to think the ascension was the pinnacle....I am now wondering if it isn't the descent that is the true path of real power.
Much of our spiritual journey is most honestly a quagmire of self-interest....masked in conscious or unconscious self worship. Life will reveal that as it erodes away that armor we vainly attempt to hide ourselves behind. We dress ourselves up in success, education, achievements, fame, status, material possessions and a myriad of other image bolstering outer garments. We are consumed with how we appear to others....we spend billions of dollars on sucking out, pumping up, coloring, painting, sliming, trimming and primping ourselves for show. We become more desperate and grasp at push up bras, viagra, implants and transplants...as gravity starts overpowering our natural genetics and youthful metabolisms. We are slaves to the machines...the workout machines. All in the name of health...or....self...sometimes its really hard to see the difference. Is it any more harmful to exhaust your body on a machine till you piss blood or gag yourself with your finger and throw up lunch? I think not.
We want to change the world, make our mark, leave a name worth remembering...and yet, the fragility of life, the abruptness of death...constantly remind us that our lives must be about something more meaningful than the type of car I drive, the size of my church or the smallness of my butt.
As I face forty this upcoming year...Im finding more and more identification with the last words of Jesus to Peter...than the passages devoted to the handsome, roof-top gazing, woman stealing, head chopping, army leading, ballad belting romeo...named David.
"I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!" -John 21:18-19
I see the wisdom of the passage above and how speaking it to Peter, the rugged, fiery, sword wielding, self-made man....wasn't just a prophecy of his manner of death but also of the way that leads to life. I see a mystery in the slow death of the seed...that I pray to God I will be born anew in life everlasting...in this age and the one to come.
I think Peter got it...and his request to be put to death differently than Jesus...was a blossoming of humility's fruit. He no longer was the point of existence...he had decreased...so that Jesus might increase.
Yes, a true man...is crucified upside down.
You can see how to utilize this personal productivity tool for creativity, brainstorming, memory enhancing and note taking on these two short videos:
With so many "branches" of projects, people and plans interconnected in my life...I've got to not only manage my world better with tools I use Like "Ominfocus" but imagine and envision better ways of "seeing" these spheres of life and the interconnectedness they bring both in challenge and opportunity. I think Mind Mapping will help me work that out better.
Anyone out there use this concept?
Monday, December 28, 2009
-From A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith
by Brain Mclaren (available February 9, 2010)
Imagine if in our day...God raised up another Middle Eastern force of global missionaries; handpicked from a group of fundamentalist, religious extremists...who are also breathing threats and murder.
Saul was such a man...and God changed Him from the inside out...and Saul...became known as Paul. Not a murdering religious zealot who would gladly stand over the infidels as they were stoned to death...but Paul, the self sacrificing missionary who would become the Apostle to the Gentiles. Eventually he would give up his own life for the gospel of Jesus, as a martyr for the faith he once persecuted.
But...for there to be a Paul...there also has to be an...Ananias.
In Acts 9:10-19 we have the story of how God used a disciple named Ananias to embrace and empower Paul through forgiveness, prayer and ministry.
At first Ananias was nervous about God’s call to him to reach out to this well known, violent religious fundamentalist. How could God be calling him to cross paths with one of the most violent religious aggressor against the fledgling church?
How could God be calling Ananias to endanger himself?
Would God require Ananias to risk imprisonment and possible death?
As a result...God moved through Ananias obedience and Saul’s vision was restored and he was baptized. Out of those baptismal waters...came the Apostle Paul. A new man...with a new heart and charged with a new mission.
I believe that this world needs less people who think with “Bullet’s & Ballots” and more who embrace a mission minded God. The church is charged with finding her Saul’s who are destined to become Paul’s and more than likely the most influential and misisonminded will come from among the most radical and terrifying opponents of Jesus.
Behold...the mission field of God...who will go?
In the last 25 years, more than 100 times as many American Christians have gone to the Middle East to serve their country in a military capacity than have gone to the Middle East to serve the King of kings by proclaiming the gospel of peace!
In North Africa, there is still roughly one missionary for every two million Muslims.
In northern India, it is roughly one missionary for every five million Muslims.
Globally, it averages out to be one missionary for every one million Muslims.
ABCs of Global Missions
Unreached people -- 24% of the world's population -- receive 1/2 of 1% of dollars given to Christian missions
Unevangelized World -- 43% of the world's population -- receives 5% of dollars given to Christian missions
Christian World -- 33% of the world's population -- receives 94.5% of dollars given to Christian missions
Just maybe...if we would have been as zealous for the mission of God among the least reached peoples of this world...we wouldn’t be where we are today, Geo-politically?
Maybe the blood of the innocents lies not on the hands of the military but on the folded and slumbering hands of God’s inactive soldiers of the cross?
Maybe the hope of the planted isn’t in the hands of the Generals but instead in the pews of our churches?
Saul...where are you?
Ananias...where are you?
Answers to objections to going into Missions by John Piper: here
Strategic World Missions Map to plan your mission: here
Saturday, December 26, 2009
"We are going to inherit the earth . There is not the slightest doubt about that. The bourgeoisie may blast and burn its own world before it finally leaves the stage of history. We Are not afraid of ruins. We who ploughed the prairies and built the cities can build again, only better next time. We carry a new world, here in our hearts. That world is growing this minute."
Friday, December 25, 2009
"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian's defeat, you have shatteres the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this."
Thursday, December 24, 2009
As one moves from the furit of war...and follows the limbs, then arrives at the trunk and continues down the tree into the dirt to the roots that lie below...one is confronted with the violence that lies within us. That sinfulness is what always creates the evil that is without us.
It was the transformative issue that the teaching of Christ had upon the early disciples. What He taught changed the way they lived. Their hearts and minds changed. They literally repented of living the "way they had before". They actually got new minds and hearts...and that radically altered they way they treated one another.
The gospel was so real...they even gave up their own lives...as entertainment for the blood thirsty masses. And like Perpetua...took the sword of the soldier...and put it to thier own neck in acts of utter submission to the eternal justice of God.
They didn't even love their own lives....and this faith...turned the world upside down.
Read about Perpetua's last stand in the Roman Coliseum...here: The Martyrdom of Saint Perpetua
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
"This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one
another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and
murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own
actions were evil and his brother's were righteous. Do not be
surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have
passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who
does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a
murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. -1
"God, I do not want to walk in the way of Cain, lead me not into
temptation and deliver me from evil.
Save me first and foremost from myself...my anger, selfishness,
irritability, impatience, crankiness, lack of understanding,
bitterness, unforgiveness and hate.
Pluck out the seeds that if watered and allowed to grow; end up
destroying this world you created.
Teach me to love...even those who are my enemies. Help me to believe
that love is the more excellent way and that love never fails and will
Love this evil world...through this evil heart. Help me to see that
roots of hate...produce the fruits of murder.
I long to live forever and trust you that the way of eternal life
Monday, December 21, 2009
Together we are embodying the Advent truth pictured in the story of Elizabeth and Mary...both pregnant with the supernatural work of God...both celebrating, prophesying together of His coming kingdom that first arrives within us and then is born from us. The breaking of the generational curse of Malachi, the Father against Son and Son against Father reality is instead replaced with reconciliation and empowerment....the hearts of both are turned towards one another.
And like Mary and Elizabeth...we live with one another and for each other...not in agitation and frustration but...in unity, humble self-expression and mutual support and blessing. The Kingdom principle of diminishment as life...is at work.
I decrease so He might increase...it's not a loss of place...but an enlargement of influence and glory.
It's a beautiful thing to witness unfolding.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Both were protected from blood spilling child murders.
Both came into and out of Egypt.
Both confronted an oppressive empire.
Both were workers of miracles.
Both were opposed by religious priests.
Moses brought judgement on Egypt but salvation to Israel.
Jesus offered salvation to all....and will judge all.
Moses brought curses...Jesus brought life.
Both brought about the death of firstborns.
Both received treasures.
Both led an exodus.
Both brought new laws from a mountain.
Both instituted a sacrificial system of blood.
Both bring judgment.
Both led people into the wilderness.
Both baptized people through water.
Both brought food to those who couldn't feed themselves.
Both had their authority & teaching challenged by their own followers.
Both led people to the promised land.
Both men died and had followers who would continue the journey without them
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Christ be born among us, again.
Be found in our humble places,
Discovered quicker, in forgotten faces,
Welcomed and worshipped in bowed reverence.
Let us be followers of light again
Be the point of our journeying,
The end of our wandering,
Our song heard in starry places.
Eyes be open to God, disguised,
Homes be open to those, despised,
Swords be beaten into tools of peace,
...in these darkened streets.
-Eric Blauer 12/13/09
(Picture taken of Jacob's Well by Michael McMullen)
Thursday, December 03, 2009
In this passage I see a simple practice, that many of our ministerial networks often say they value but often stumble in fulfilling....leaving a lot of used and lonely pastors and Christians. We say we desire to see our cities influenced, reached or changed by the gospel; yet the pathway to that as modeled by Jesus is ignored. Jesus modeled the act of spiritual directing, called "Accompaniment."
Accompaniment is: walking together in solidarity, practicing interdependence and mutuality. Gifts, resources, and experiences are shared with mutual advice and admonition to deepen and expand all efforts within God's mission Often instead of fostering a sense of relational "being" we quickly jump to the "sending" part of the verse...before allowing any real "being together" to take place.
I see this temptation in many of my relationships with older brothers in the Lord...sometimes I wonder if its a "generational" thing or not. I hear this tension in a lot of dialogue today within the or about the "missional movement". Relationship is often used in a derogatory way, as if it's a touchy feely waste of time by some folks. Im seeing that the real brotherhood process takes time, both in churches and in partnering relationships.
Many networks become focused on "accomplishing or changing" something or someplace; and relationships become the means to the end. There is an almost anti-trinitarian heretical tendency in our gathering; that reflects the underlining assumption that there is a lack of completeness in God that required Him to make the world. We model this wrong assumption by being driven to find a purpose for our relationships. We must have meaning and we try to find that by performance or producing. We work to display something that justifies our existence and importance.
We cannot comprehend a throne room reality that contains Seraphim and Cherubim that exist to continual proclaim "Holy Holy Holy". It seems like a waste of time. God must need something "done". Worship is turned into something we do...instead of something we live.
But mission must emerge out of worship and partnering, must involve individual togetherness.
All living and healthy beings reproduce, that is a given...but just as Sabbath begins as the day ends for man and the majority of initial Sabbath day takes place while man sleeps...so we too discover when we awake to healthy God given rhythms of kingdom existence; that what we do...comes after who we are.
Our works arise out of...our rest.
Our doing is the result...of our being.
Creation comes after...communion.
The apostolic sending...is rooted in trinitarian interdependence.
Building a network of missionally minded churches; involves accepting and enjoying the grace of journeying together...relationally at first.
In the natural world, a child is the fruit of a loving relationship, that existed before the child. A family is the result of a growing oneness. Children are part of the expression of love but not the purpose for it alone. Children are meant to leave the home and if the marriage exists for the children only...the result is, after the "project" is accomplished...the relationship ends.
I have seen this in Spokane, time and time again. I hope that our networks express the simple balance of "being & sending" as reflected in the verse above. And that new missional works and churches would grow out of these relationships in their proper season.
Monday, November 30, 2009
The "trick" is elusive...the latest and greatest strategy is often yesterday's ministry failures, repackaged for the newest potential pastoral consumers. In the end...our churches are often full of disillusioned Christians; that have been jacked up on emotional and false prophetic hopes...or wearied out by task master like pastors that drive the sheep from one project to the next. These people are always being offered that golden carrot of revival, or renewal or bigger an better this or that...and for many Drained Disciples, this hamster-wheel version of religion, is abandoned.
In the end, I truly think that living out the gospel as Jesus lived it...is the simple pattern.
Pick some folks...be with them...in life and mission...teach them, through training them with hands on work. Weave prayer and study of God's word in your community; and practice love, among one another and in the places God has determined you to live. And...do this among the least of those, among us.
"In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word." This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith." -Acts 6:1-7
I am blessed to be surrounded by men and women who are "full of the Spirit and wisdom" and as we see the life of Mission and the Life of attending to Spirit...kiss....we are sure to witness, "the word of God spreading and disciples increasing rapidly and people becoming obedient to the faith".
This dance of mission to people and ministry to the Lord...is unfolding among us, because the Lord is big in...little people. I stand amazed at the glory of God being found among the hands and hearts of those I am called to pastor. They amaze me, convict me, inspire me and often out perspire me...they are my co-laborers who allow me to work at fulfilling the vision of God unfolding in us and through us and...among us.
They are good people...doing small things...with great love.
Jesus is most present at the Love Feast...the table of the Lord...is welcoming, indeed.
There is a fulfillment of the Old Testament year of Jubilee that is often tasted in the Kingdom of God expressed in the church assembled on mission. You can sense the freedom, the liberation and restoration emerging.
The poor have the gospel preached to them for sure...but its not a gospel of words only. If you stand in the midst of such a gathering and have eyes and ears to perceive...you can see and hear the gospel being lived. Love...God's love, being shared and experienced through hospitality, humble service, sacrifice, labor, serving, associating with the lowly, taking the lowest place, gift giving, listening, modeling, disciple making, evangelism, prayerful presence, Spirit infused, empowered and anointed people being and loving Christ.
The gospel is among us...the Kingdom of God is here and unfolding within us. His kingdom is dawning...for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. It's often heard in the gathered festival throwing people of God. Believers who know joy and celebration. They know how to party...because they were taught the party plan through the Ancient Festivals:
"Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the LORD your God always. But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the LORD your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the LORD will choose to put his Name is so far away), then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the LORD your God will choose. Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish.
Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice. And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own. At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands." -Deuteronomy 14:22-29
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
That's what Roger kept telling me as we neared the time when we would open for Thanksgiving dinner. A week ago, I had asked Roger if he would be willing to help serve food at the meal. At first he said no and gave me some reason why he thought he couldn't. But I asked him to think about it...and later that week, he told me he wanted to do it, if I helped him figure out what he was supposed to do. Sunday, he got up and prayed about the dinner and as it approached his excitement grew as well.
I told him he had to clean his bachelor hands, trim his nails really good, wear some clean clothes and come prepared to serve. The next day he showed up at the coffee house with freshly trimmed nails and clean hands. Tonight he showed up early, dressed in a nice white jacket and ready to work. He had invited all his family that week and they were hesitant...but tonight he said they all were coming. Above is a shot of Roger working alongside Lisa, TJ and Andrea...gloved up and smiling from ear to ear. His family came, took pictures of him serving and enjoyed a meal with us. Roger was so proud....it really was quite a precious moment.
Roger is a good friend, a polite man, a hard worker and always friendly. Roger represents the many people in our community that have various mental or physical disabilities that often have a hard time finding their place among others. I was reminded of this today as Dave, a fellow pastor friend, told me that Daniel, his friend, a young man in his 20's, who also had a mental disability; killed himself in the local jail....he suffocated himself with toilet paper in his cell.
He was homeless, lived in a car with his buddy in West Central Spokane. I met him about a week ago when I was having coffee with Dave. He was quiet but polite too. He evidently got arrested for something again...they were often breaking some law and getting in minor trouble...and for some reason...that time....he decided living was harder than dying.
When I heard this young man, I had just met a week ago...had taken his life...I was heart broken...and even now tears well up, as I think of the many men and women who get shuffled around our cities. They are in and out of jail...half way houses, shelters and programs. They fall through the cracks...often smart enough to make it on their own...or at least survive...but not always able to thrive. It's hard living in a culture that exalts education, appearances, money making potential, gifting, world shaking destinies, social power, charisma, talent and the ever bowed too altar of potential.
I thought of Daniel...when I watched Roger tonight.
I think of Jesus, when He said:
"Blessed are the poor...for theirs is the kingdom.
Blessed are the gentle...for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are the pure in heart...for they shall see God."
I think of how many other forgotten and overlooked saints are out there in the dark...thinking about killing themselves.
It's in moments like these that I am eternally grateful to be where I am, with the people I am with, doing what we are doing. I truly believe that Jesus is among us...and I see Him shining so very bright in the least of these among us....and in serving them...we truly do...serve the "good Lord".
And really, in the end, we end up truly seeing our own poverty and discover that we were the ones who were really the least...and together, by God's grace...we end up worshiping Jesus in a manner that matters...for Rogers and for Daniels.
"He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God."
Sunday, November 15, 2009
One of the gifts of leading and serving an emerging, non-denominational church; is the freedom and ability to explore the ancient doctrines and practices of the historic Christian faith. We have been shaping a community of faith, that holds to a solid center with soft edges or as Saint Augustine put it:
"In Essentials, unity.
In non-essentials, liberty.
In all things, love"
Or as the early church proclaimed in the Nicene Creed:
"We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son], who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen."
Or as the Protestant Reformers put it:
Sola Scriptura/Scripture alone
Sola Fide/ Faith alone
Sola Gratia/Grace alone
Solus Christus/Christ alone
Soli Deo Gloria/God’s Glory alone
Or as C.S. Lewis summarized it, we believe in:
“The faith preached by the Apostles,
attested by the Martyrs,
embodied in the Creeds,
expounded by the Fathers.”
Within this broad garden of edenic truth...we are free to eat from a host of beautiful and good fruits of embodied practice; that various Christians have worked out to express, celebrate, remember, enter into, taste and proclaim "The Faith". We feel no need to let 'labels' determine or deny, who gets to find voice or visibility within the culture of Jacob's Well.
We believe that there is:
"One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all and in all." (Eph 4:5-7)
That means that we aim to incorporate, re-imagining and rebirth many elements of faith expression found through out the tree of Biblical faith...be they eastern or western...high church or low church. That means you might find bits and pieces from many different groups of Christians. We love the mosaic of expression that is the church of Jesus.
I believe that many of these embodied actions, traditions and liturgies often become "means of grace". I hold to the idea of "Sacred Mystery" as expressed by our Orthodox brothers and sisters...when it comes to the idea of "sacraments":
"The Orthodox communion's preferred term is Sacred Mystery. While the Catholic Church has attempted to dogmatically define the sacraments, and discover the precise moment when the act results in the manifestation of the grace of God, the Orthodox communion has refrained from attempting to determine absolutely the exact form, number and effect of the sacraments, accepting that simply that these elements are unknowable to all except God. According to Orthodox thinking God touches mankind through material means such as water, wine, bread, oil, incense, candles, altars, icons, etc. How God does this is a mystery. On a broad level, the mysteries are an affirmation of the goodness of created matter, and are an emphatic declaration of what that matter was originally created to be." (sacraments: wikipedia).
I revel in the beauty and freedom of God working through whatever He chooses to express or allow His grace to be experienced within. I do believe that The Lord's Table and Baptism rise to the top of the idea of "ordinances" He told the church to maintain. But I do not think that limits the means of grace available for the believer to taste the Lord and the "powers of the age to come" through.
All elements of our christian life can become dead and cold...even the Letter is dead unless the Spirit infuses His life through it. But this doesn't mean that we abandon elements within the tradition of the church simply because its been abused, drained of vitality or ignored. As a Charismatic I find many believer who have been taught out of deep and meaningful Biblical experiences that the Lord has for His children. And I also find that many Charismatic Christians have missed the blessings found within many mainline or evangelical expression of faith.
I know that many people cant seem to handle a "Heavenly City" that has many gates leading into it (Revelations 21:12-13) but I find that truth to be one that lets me relax and learn to enjoy my Christian brother's and sister's different Flavors and Colors, Smells & Bells...Sounds and Tongues. I think it makes for a more gracious group of believers and builds bridges instead of moats.
This discussion is primarily an in-house one...it deals with those who are "WITHIN" the city....those who are born again, sons and daughters of God...when it comes to traditions and expression of The Faith.
I pray as a journeying group of believers, that we can find a way to live this out...in their minds, hearts and hands.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
This Sunday I will lay some ground work for the days ahead and look at the Jubilee that Jesus inaugurated in His ministry (Lk 4:14-30) and how that became outlived in the emerging church in the book of Acts (Acts 2:41-47 & 4:32-35). Helping us connect the truth of the gospel with how to live the gospel. All within the context of a day to day journey with a group of broken and screwed up people; who are praying "Your Kingdom come...Your will be done...on Earth as it's done in Heaven."
Join us as we seek to learn how to become Covenantal Communities....people who have chosen to walk together in the spirit of family; accepting and caring for one another in such a way that those outside His family, will be drawn to the Father's house. Love is the message and it does reconcile people to God and.....to one another.
Grace allows for all us jacked up people to find hope, process, redemption, absolution, restitution and a chance to start over each day....progressive transformation. As a continual testimony to that change...we come around the Communion Table, to acknowledge and confess through eating the bread and drinking the cup; that we are ever dependent on the mercy and grace of Jesus and His indwelling empowerment to walk out the new kingdom dawning.
All are welcome...sinners and saints...and those who know they are one and the same.
Friday, November 13, 2009
First and foremost because your description of me as a "Singularly Undefiled Person" shows me that you have not head the voice of God...because that surely isn't what God would say about me bozo.
And the subsequent word concerning the other person is so off base, I don't even know where to begin. If I had Samson's jawbone, Elijah's fire, Elisha's bear summoning power or Moses snake swallowing, Leprosy casting rod...I would use it. But instead, I will pray that you are delivered from your false prophetic ministry and brought to repentance by coming into the light and giving up your discouraging ministry of condemnation.
Anyone who writes letters with no return address, puts no name on the letter but initials and hasn't the guts to speak a 'word" to my face about someone else...shows themselves to be a spineless, coward.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Monday, November 09, 2009
Our meeting with Alan Hirsch (www.apest.org) last week, was the initial bush whacking, to stir up potential planters/leaders and continues through the Fall/Winter season with 6 more open gatherings for general mission minded people; who desire a foundation in missional movements and ministry. Then we will continuing next year with a closed program with a year long curriculum, local church apprenticeship and extra local training.
Many of the current churches involved have teams and/or individuals, who are being prepared or are already launching/rooting/ gathering or on the ground doing the work of first stage church plants and/or M.I.. We hope this work will help them be more successful, fruitful and equipped to fulfill the Lord's call and work in this city, region and beyond.
Our dreams and plans are centered around nurturing a co-operative missional environment that is supportive and apostolically generative for new works to emerge. All within a non-competitive, relational network of likeminded, gospel-centric, missionally motivated churches.
In the end...our prayer is that new works will emerge, existing churches will become reproductive and the Kingdom of God will deepen, explode and expand through evangelism and disciple making fruitfulness.
Jon in the movement of mission if you are longing to partner with people of like mind and heart and see new missional initiatives emerge in Spokane and beyond.
Saturday, November 07, 2009
O LORD, I call upon you; hasten to me!
Give ear to my voice when I call to you!
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!
Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth;
keep watch over the door of my lips!
Do not let my heart incline to any evil,
to busy myself with wicked deeds,
in company with men who work iniquity,
and let me not eat of their delicacies!
Combining the fragrant aroma of incense and the burning of it...is a biblical imagery that has been part of my prayerful contemplation lately. Moses was commanded to burning holy incense morning and night on the golden altar of incense (Exodus 30:34-38).
Jesus got ticked off over the lack of true prayer being at the center of His Father's house: "It is written," he said to them, "'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a 'den of robbers.'' -Matthew 21:13
Becoming a "house of prayer" is deep in my heart of late...not the charismatic sorcery versions that build altars of incantation, fleshly endeavors to prove to God "we are serious"; thats a works based rig·a·ma·role. But instead a community of praying people that have assumed a posture of worship instead of works.
I have no interest in the "Slash & Bash" meetings where length and content become the rule instead of spirit and truth. God isn't moved by us...as much as we are moved by Him. Frenetic, all night, Charismatics and even "Change the World" by the sweat of our intercessions, Baptiscostals are attempting to put their own blood on the altar's four horns...instead of resting and believing in the Blood of the Son that has already sanctified the prayer altar.
Moses was forbidden to allow the sacred incense to become a "personal prayer item" anyone who was caught using it for themselves...was cut off from the community.
Prayer is first and foremost about Worship of God...not us.
All the hoops and ladders prayer material that continues to turn prayer into mystical lever pulling is a poor replacement for relational communication between Father and child.
It's all worthy of being whipped and driven out of the Father's House...it really is that serious.
Friday, November 06, 2009
Alan did a bang up job on giving 6 key elements that must be present to see mission impact and true organic church life grow and explode...or as he says..."The Boom Factor". We engaged a ton of content that dealt with theology, ecclesiology and missiology....great stuff!
Afterwards a group of us headed to the Steam-Plant Grill for beers and a chance to unpack the conversations and material. I had the privialge of meeting some new co-laborers, paticularrly Paul, lead brother at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.
I find myself continuing to bless God for His wonderful body of churches and leaders in Spokane. I deeply treasure my pastor friends and the churches they serve. I have never had such a bond with a group of men and women developing across denominational and generational lines. The richness, diversity and giftedness is truly special to be part of. Learning from, leaning on and laughing with those who you not only call co-laborers but...friends...is a gift. Spokane is a good place to be part of the Body of Christ.
Finding people to journey with that you understand, believe in and trust is so rare. The folks in this co-hort are real, transparent, human, fun to be around and void of that pastoral pompous pea-cocking that so often accompanies most "pastor thingies". This is the first group of leaders that have approached "doing stuff" first by "being together". The emerging works in the future are going to come from true developing relationships...not just "project based, cause related or event tethered"" relationships. Being known...not just being used to accomplish something...is one of the gifts the emerging generations have recovered and offer to all who have gone before and who are coming after. I praise God for the generations.
Here is Alan, giving a intro to the material we covered.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Then one day a few months ago....he came to my house and asked me what I was doing. I told him, I was writing. He explained that he was lonely and that he didn't have many friends. I asked if he wanted to go have coffee. He smiled and accepted and that began our regular Friday morning Breakfasts and Bible-study together.
We go and eat something good and bring our Bibles and go through a basic christianity study. It's always a good time together. Mysteriously....after our first Breakfast Study...he showed up at Church that Sunday and has been coming ever since.
This is a shot of Roger in his house, showing off his Matchbook cars collection. He is quite proud of all his really old cars and the display on his wall. I told him I had to take a picture of his collection...he was most inclined to do it.
"Whoever is least among you...will be the greatest." -Jesus
When I read those words...I think of the "Rogers" in our communities. People who are often forgotten, ignored or looked over. You wont find their faces in the glossy church promo flyers or in the flash Video's on the websites. They don't lead much, or contribute to the Sunday Show....except...they often find their way into fundraising newsletters. We love to "reach them" but that is where our relationship with the "poor and lost" tragically, often, ends. They are people we "Go To" but rarely people we call friends. They are "projects" to us...they are ministry campaigns, meant to soothe our slightly unsettled, middle-classed souls. We do stuff for them and that somehow makes us feel better about ourselves. We mail stuff to their houses and pray blanket prayers over their neighborhoods...but we don't truly know them.
We fail as the church...when we depersonalize people. When we end up having to go on missions trips to connect with them...instead of becoming neighbors and sharing life together. Roger has taught me many lessons about how to deconstruct my "evangelism" paradigm...turning from "reaching people" to simply loving them and let God reach them.
Replacing agenda's with pancake's has humanized this pastor...and helped me truly enjoy the man in front of me...someone who I now call my friend.
Here is some video, its not the greatest, but you can get a feel for the event: Here
Monday, November 02, 2009
I loved, loved, loved...the movie. It is right up there with "Once", another must see romantic/drama movie. Bright Star combined a number of my most favorite things and did so with such a intimate, artistic sensitivity that left me actually slightly breathless at times. The director was an artist and his ability to weave, sound, music, color, feelings, passion, anticipation and all the cadences of love...was superb. As one given to poetry both writing and reading, and being a romantic at heart...drank deeply from this movie.
It's PG but that doesn't mean there wasn't some of the most sensual and passionately charged moments...there was, even though there was no nudity, sex or typically oversexed content. They masterfully captured "longing" and left you aching in love's riptides.
Needless to say...I was enraptured.
It's slow, methodical, character driven, poetic and all about a heart tingling romance...if that's not your thing...you're dead...or at least need reviving.
Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art--
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors--
No--yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever--or else swoon to death.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Jacob's Well, holds to a life of spirituality that keeps three strands of purpose in tension...Head(Theology), Heart(Spirituality) and Hands(Mission). All three areas of our Christian life must be full and robust, deeply rooted in Christ, empowered by the Spirit and offered all for the Glory of God.
We are working to become a prayerful, missional body of believers and as part of that endeavor; we are working into our rule of community life...a prayer rhythm. Everyone says prayer is important but we are seldom truly mentored in how to live a prayerful life. Prayer seems daunting, dry and often a mystery. You hear conflicting teaching on it and sometimes it seems like it's pointless. Life is already busy and we find ourselves living in the place between ideal and reality...and that often means our devotional life gets pushed to the back of the line.
Guilt, failure, mindless distractions, fruitless charismatic incantations, retreat and conference recommitment's...all lay littered behind us, discarded good intentions. In the end many people settle for a life of God thoughts and just call it prayer; yet, they know that their inner lives are far from "flowing with living water" as Jesus promised but they simply don't know how to get the water out of the well.
Bob Dylan said: "The pump don't work cause the vandals took the handle"
I think as Reformation Protestants we have suffered from a disconnect with the Ancient practices of prayer in an attempt to distance ourselves from the errors and abuses of Rome. An understandable and healthy concern..but in discarding the dirty Roman water of works based spirituality; we have thrown out the baby of ancient practices for spiritual development. Faith enriching practices like fasting, solitude, giving, prayer, worship, pilgrimage and others have been abandoned...or truncated but nothing much has truly filled the void. People are left to themselves as to how to "live" this Christian stuff. It gets reduced to TRUTH statements that they are told to believe...but nobody seems to know how to LIVE out...this LIFE.
Truly the Vandals have stolen the handle....
Part of our attempts to give people "handles" for nurturing and developing their walks in Christ is some structured prayer helps. These tools combine scripture and written prayers to provide a "trellis" for a deeply prayerful life to grow up, through and upon. Like a trellis...these have no life in themselves....they are a means for life to grow upon. They can be dead words on a page...or words that your heart and soul get poured into and offered to God in worship and prayer.
We have set times throughout the day to keep us tethered to a God-ward focus and a prayerful rhythm. Each Office of the Hour is short (only about 12 minutes) but once you complete the Four Offices in a day...you will notice that you have prayed for everyone and everything that is probably most important to you. You will find that you are no longer a hypocrite who says they will pray but then forgets or has to admit...it was just the "christian" thing to say, when someone shares something personal.
I hope getting reacquainted with these tools or discovering them for the first time will assist you in nurturing a more prayerful life.
Here is the Divine Hours prayer material:
These are offered as a simple tool to help us pause and turn our hearts and minds more God-ward through prayer and scripture at four set times during the day.
-“Italicized” words are meant for group recital.
-The [n] is where you lift the names of people that come to your mind when you read the various statements that precede the symbol.
As a community were are setting 7AM, 12Noon, 5PM and 9PM; as the set hours to pray together. So, no matter where we are, together or separate...we are still joined in the rhythm and practice of prayer.
Obviously you are free to pray whenever, these times are no law...we simply want to do this together when its possible.
If you are interested in a print version, the one we are using at Jacob’s Well is: Venite
I think the church is the perfect place for artists...if it can reclaim it's peculiar prophetic persona again.
The prophets are really just artists with a sense of mission. They speak, create, fashion, act out, dress up, confront, woo, pronounce and plead. They stand fully in the present as witness and speak to the future. They speak but their words come from the fire that is kindling in their bones. They are often bitter and boiling...they are possessed by messages and moments. As Oracles they hear rhythms, sounds, voices, compassion's and mercies.
Misunderstandings, isolations, oddities, hatreds, edicts and burning stakes are often their lot. They are ostracized in the modern and idolized in the postmodern. Their souls are stuck between multiple histories...they are time travelers, caught in ages that cannot exist together but desperately need one another.
Excess is often their sacred and profane existence...they are given to extremes, to passions and ecstasies. World's collide in their minds and their hearts often bleed because of it...the dirge of their supplications can awaken the dead and set fire to the wings of wayward sons ascending to the skies....yet, they themselves are a mix of risings and fallings too.
The burning of their living and dying is a holy offering.
"Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, 'Abba as far as I can I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?' then the old man stood up and stretched his hands towards heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, 'If you will, you can become all flame.' -from the Sayings of the Desert Fathers
The real monastic walks through life with a barefooted soul, alert, aware, grateful, and only partially at home.
-Joan Chittister, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today
I pray that in part of the Jacob's Well community life will arise an artist studio...I've always wanted to call such a place..."New Creations: Workshop & Gallery" . It will be a hub for creation, proclamation, song crafting, production and communion. I pray that artists will come and live in our building apartments and live out their callings in and among us...witnessing to the beauty and horror of the world around us and within us.
This witnessing life will be like a urban monastery...full of everyday men and women, living out a God-ward and Man-ward life of Worship & Mission.
"A monastery can never be merely an escape from the world. Its very purpose is to enable us to face the problems of the world at their deepest level, that is to say, in relation to God and eternal life. Everything in the monastic life down to the deepest level has to be viewed from this angle.
-Bede Griffiths, The Golden String: An Autobiography
This path allows for eccentricities....it's what makes people living from two dimensions....truly peculiar.
God hasten the coming of the wandering ones...may they help us be rooted into the sacred world of everyday life through the Spirit infused artistic way.
Here are some of our monkish offerings...
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Starving oneself, gaging on fingers until lunch is thrown up, bingeing and purging, over the top-exercise addiction, superficial relationships that focus on sexual needs alone, chronic self-sex, financial insecurity or immaturity due to an addiction to the yo-yo fashion industry that is built on economics not true beauty....is creating a culture of consumption that is based on inflicting the masses with a constant state of discontent.
The Systems of this World...want you to be a sucker.
They want your money and they have built a "Matrix" like world that starts from childhood and matures with each generation. It's forced on us, (oh so willingly) in-order to control us, shape us, steal from us and hold us in it's economic and psychological grip.
I hold these Powers guilty...when our 16 year old daughters are gang raped, videoed and left for dead.
The sexualizing of our youth...the predatory nature of most media, entertainment and the overt social conditioning going on is nurturing a dangerous beast that will slay from without and within.
Biblically, sin starts within: "Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death." -James 1:18. And our culture is providing amble amounts of tinder box material, just waiting for a spark. You cannot turn on the computer, TV, movies, magazines, books, soap ads, clothing stores, toys, church, work...basically anywhere and not get a dose of mammary glands or buddy buttocks in your face.
Is it any wonder that Pornography addiction counseling makes up a pastors regular subject matter with singles and married?
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
As we continue to work out what the theology, ecclesiology and missiology of Jacob's Well looks like in the context of urban mission, witness and community...I am finding more and more traction within the New Monasticism, or Neo-monasticism circles of thought and action.
As part of this philosophical undergirding, I'm becoming aware of a deep need for being a more practical community of prayer, as well as a community of mission.
Personally, I've been working at establishing fixed moments of prayer into my daily schedule. I have desired to find a prayerful rhythm that will help me saturate my mind, heart and actions with more Spirit infused grace and wisdom. My life is filling up and the amount of talking and counseling is increasing and I am finding myself emptying out far quicker. Often the noise of my mouth and people talking becomes louder and louder and soon the cistern of my soul drains out. When my words echo with a reverberating hollowness....I know that I'm needing a deeper work of contemplation to take place in my moment to moment life. My roots need to sink deep down into Christ and draw up more nourishment to keep "ministry without life" at bay.
I've been using the ancient practice of praying the hours (Lauds/Morning, None/Midday, Vespers/evening & Compline/night or bedtime) as my 'trellis' for turning more Godward in my day. I'm working to develop a rhythm of prayer that will be sustainable for myself with the hopes of inviting our church to join one another in a 'scattered community' experience of praying the hours together. Having not only fixed times but places to gather together for short times of prayer...but even if one cannot join others in a fixed location...we still join one another at fixed times...to come together before the Lord to worship Him and be with each other in the same heart, mind and purpose of prayer.
At about 10-12 minutes per prayer pause...its simple and rejuvenating and the structure which is part printed and part spontaneous makes it good for beginners or those looking for guidance on what, when and how to pray. Each 'office of prayer' is made up of biblically rich prayers, the Psalms, the Gospels for short readings and space for simple lifting of names for intercession. Within this prayer tool will be a yearly plan for bible reading that all of us can move through and meditate upon as a community of faith each month.
By the end of the day if all four "offices" are prayed...you will have lifted all your loved one and needy situations up in prayer and will have saturated your heart and mind with Godward supplication, worship and simple yet powerful communication with the Lord via the Spirit and the Word.
The beauty of this 'trellis' is that its there when ever...and if you can join and your day allows it...one can simply come before the Lord without guilt or pressure. This is a means of experience His grace...a simple tool to posture ourselves Godward.
Here are some resources for this journey of prayer:
-Disciplines for the Inner Life
-In Constant Prayer
-The Divine Hours
I will soon have these Four Offices of Prayer available in PDF format for your computers or iphones so that you will have them with you at all times if you do desire. Choosing to stop your life, put it on pause for 12 minutes and join the Lord and one another in prayer...is a discipline that you will not regret pursuing.
I did this piece with a pastor friend and his church in mind. Sometimes the work or the church we give our lives to serve and love; are not always seen as "beautiful" in the eyes of others. She is often seen as "weak eyed". For some they are simply a vehicle to produce "children" but not worthy of our devotion and passion. As long as they "produce" for us they are valuable. As long as they give us what we want or guarantee a return...then we will visit them. Thankfully the Lord sees...and He is sovereign in responding in a life giving and loving way to those churches that in the eyes of some are unlovable. My prayers and heart go out to my brother who is loving a church that is destined to bring glory to God. She will produce sons and daughters who will stand up and call you blessed who choose to love the unbecoming, the hidden, weak and neglected.
I wrestled with creating this picture and the desire at first to get all the proportions and likeness correct...I restarted it completely once and laid it aside trying to quit about 3 times; but finally just allowed myself the freedom to scribble it out of my head and heart. I felt allowing the messiness of it to remain, spoke more to the truth of being unloved because of perceived lack of beauty...than wrestling with trying to make the picture artistically beautiful.
I think a lot of artistic work gets aborted in these moments...instead of just allowing the work to come out of us. We too often judge our work into an early grave instead of learning to celebrate the arrival of whatever comes out. The process, no matter what the outcome is justified, if we can endure the reality of what it simply is...instead of always condemning it...by what it isn't.
Faith allows us the peace of just being...and trusting that what is, is enough and yet, will be more than it is...in time.
That is a holy rest for an artist or a struggling soul.