Saturday, October 31, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Who stole the handles...?

"They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer". -Acts 2:42

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:

*Morning/Lauds
*Mid-Day/None
*Evening/Vespers
*Night/Compline

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

Artistic Urban Monasteries....for Peculiar Prophets.

"Each morning when I awake, I experience again a supreme pleasure...that of being Salvador Dali" -Salvador Dali

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

My TWIG-O-METER is off the chart!!!!

AVATAR New Trailer....

Am I....Hot or Not...?

I get the "Hot or Not" and "Rate a Hottie" stuff...but I find the whole thing an objectifying act that degrades women and helps erode the dignity of a woman or man. Reducing them to a number that speaks only to the physical aspects of someone....is terribly juvenile. Establishing a visual sorting of prospective people only strengthens the very aspects of our culture that breeds a host of societal ills. I work with enough women and even men, who are struggling with body hate, image idolatry, physiological self harm and for some near body focus neurosis....to know this stuff is viral.

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

I...

I had my visage enshrined by the marking of a dust stick today at the Jacob's Well Coffee House, by the magnificently talented...'Cole'

Monday, October 26, 2009

Praying the Office of the Divine Hours....

"Thus says the LORD, "Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls. But they said, 'We will not walk in it." -Jeremiah 6:16

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:
-Bible
-Venite
-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.

Leah...the unloved

"Now the Lord saw that Leah was unloved and He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren." -Genesis 29:31

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.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cheers to Martin Luther....on this Reformation Sunday!!!

This the freedom with which Christ has set us free, not from some human slavery of tyrannical authority but from the eternal wrath of God. Where? In the conscience. This is where our freedom comes to a halt; it goes no further. For Christ has set us free, not for a political freedom or a freedom of the flesh but for a theological or spiritual freedom, that is to make our conscience free and joyful, unafraid of the wrath to come (Matt.3:7). This is the most genuine freedom, it is immeasurable...For who can express what a great gift it is for someone to be able to declare for certain that God neither is nor ever will be wrathful but will forever be a gracious and merciful Father for the sake of Christ? -Martin Luther 

I thank God for you Martin Luther....and the Reformation and the gifts of:

-Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide. Sola Gratia. Solus Christus. Soli Deo Gloria.

-For giving me a faith tradition that allows me to serve God, pastor among His people and have a lovely wife.
Sex is a good thing and that whole celibate thing is a real downer when imposed on all.

-For setting free the Scriptures into the vernacular of the common folks. Latin is cool but reading God's word should be something everyone can do....poor or rich alike.

-For working for change from within and yet...willing to be excommunicated for the truth of God's word and teaching me that being a God pleaser is more important than being a man pleaser. 

-Thanks for restoring the priesthood of all believers....and dethroning the meditorial positions erected by man. 

-Thanks for restoring beer to its God given place of enjoyment. 

-Thanks for allowing God to use your fire, bite and righteous anger for the glory of God....I was starting to wonder if men can be men in the Kingdom of God. 

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Collision...

COLLISION outtake: King's College from LEVEL4 on Vimeo.

I cannot wait to watch this!!!

95 Theses....

In honor of Reformation Sunday....I offer up this, an emerging generation's version of religious history in rhyme.
Here are the lyrics for those who want to rap along...

Ridicule...with effect.

“What I have now done is only a little sport before the real combat. I have rather indicated the wounds that might be given you than inflicted any. If the reader has met with passages which have excited his risibility, he must ascribe this to the subjects themselves. There are many things which deserve to be held up in this way to ridicule and mockery, lest, by a serious refutation, we should attach a weight to them which they do not deserve. Nothing is more due to vanity than laughter; and it is the Truth properly that has a right to laugh, because she is cheerful, and to make sport of her enemies, because she is sure of the victory. Care must be taken, indeed, that the raillery is not too low, and unworthy of the truth; but, keeping this in view, when ridicule may be employed with effect, it is a duty to avail ourselves of it.” ... “To treat them seriously would be to sanction them.”
-Tertullian, (ca. 160 – ca. 220 AD)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Know the measure, know the times...

"My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast.
I will sing and raise a psalm,
awake, my spirit,
awake..."
-Psalms 57:7-8

You are working for the whole, are acting for the future. Seek no reward, for great is your reward on this earth: the spiritual joy which is only vouchsafed to the righteous man. Fear not the great nor the mighty, but be wise and ever serene. Know the measure, know the times, study that. When you are left alone, pray. Love to throw yourself on the earth and kiss it. Kiss the earth and love it with an unceasing, consuming love. Love all men, love everything. Seek that rapture and ecstasy. Water the earth with the tears of your joy and love those tears. Don't be ashamed of that ecstasy, prize it, for it is a gift of God and a great one; it is not given to many but only to the elect.
-The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Homecoming dance...

Daddy's girl getting all grown up on me...

Prayer retreat....

4 pastors...hours of nurturing silence, holy moments of sharing of pastoral pain, wisdom, burden, truth and friendship, Christ present prayer using the ancient tool of praying the hours four times a day, eating together simple meals made as holy offerings, deep work of soul formation and renewal. Probably the most meaningful retreat I've ever been part of. Here are some pictures...

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Contemplative (impulse)

Here is a video filmed in my art studio for a collaborative sermon project with Kaleo Church in Otis Orchards. Thanks to video and audio wizards: Mike McMullen & Jim Carney of Jacob's Well for enduring the cold to capture this on video. These types of projects represent the growing partnership that is taking place among us pastors through Ecclesia Spokane (Check it out on Facebook). I consider it a privilege to work with such amazing pastors, who are not only fellow workers in the region but are becoming great friends as well.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pistols, Preachers and People...

So...I'm outside our coffee house, on the phone dealing with some facility issues and I hear someone yelling upstairs in the apartments above our meeting space. It's escalating and I'm thinking this is getting police worthy. After some investigation, I find out it's related to a CPS visit and the dad is going postal. With some decompression talk, things mellow by the grace of God.

I turn around and there's this sweet truck parked in front of our building and on the dashboard are three 9MM pistol clips.

I'm struck by the gritty, sureal nature of what takes place around our church. Guns, drugs, anger and violence mingle with gospel, love, serving and community...all on one block.

It's always interesting in East Central.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mayan Madness, Tin-foil hats and 2012 prognostications...

"They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons; they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with blood. Thus they became unclean by their acts, and played the harlot in their doings." -Psalms 106:37-39

With all the hype surrounding the 2012 date as the end of the world, I thought I would weigh in...even though even the modern Mayan's are calling much of this hysteria pure commercial hooey.

I agree with the premise that the world, as we know it, will come to an end. But...if Jesus didn't know the date or reveal it...I'm sure the Mayan's or Aztecs didn't. Plus, they didn't seem able to see or fortell the date of thier own demise as a civilization; so why should I trust thier soothsayers now?

End of the world hype, sells sensational books, breeds fear and anxiety, puts money in the hands of the "seers" and distracts people from present obedience by focusing on the unknown future. The true spirit of prophecy is concerned about the revelation of Jesus...not the future. I stand in Acts chapter one as my eschatological position: "stop looking up in speculation...and get on with mission"

When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God. The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so. -Deut. 18:9-14
Instead of looking to the soothsayers of a human sacrificing, demon worshipping, pagan culture that gave us mystical blood soaked prophecies and...um, lacrosse....we should be studying the scriptures. A faith strengthening process that according to the Apostles, should lead to encouragement and comfort, not fear....read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Our source of truth and knowledge shouldn't be....New Age gurus in sarongs or on TV, cryptic crossword puzzle-like pagan texts, pearly white teethed-pompadour wearing televangelists, swirling googly-eyed-tea drinking mystics or bizarre astrological charts full of woodland creatures, fairies and humanoid figures in odd yoga poses.

Come on folks....pull your fingers out of the chicken gizzards and quit peering into that really expensive crystal that some pony-tailed hippie huckster sold you and repent of all that demon soaked prognosticating.

The sooner we stop navel and star gazing the better...there is a world of human suffering right now, that needs a church that has her eyes, heart and hands engaged in bringing His Kingdom right down here on Earth. If God comes and sucks you out of the planet may He find you in the gutter caring for the poor...and not on some isolated rooftop, looking into the galaxies with an arm full of cow-skinned parchments and tinfoil on your head.

"When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn." -Isaiah 8:19-20

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Balance of the Force....

As the MARVELous and DeCent universe seeks the ever elusive balance between Twigs and Jocks....I was reminded of yet another visual of SPORTS that ILLUSTRATED the still massive gap that separates us struggling souls who are trying to ever understand one another.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Team Canada....

"Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. "Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the arm. -Isaiah 60:1-4

Years ago, I was sitting in a basement room, during a biblestudy, in the YWAM building called 'The Samaritan Inn", in Amsterdam, Holland. I was overwhelmed with the diversity of people from many different nations that were present. I was captured by the international and multi-cultural aspect of missions abroad. I had prayed and longed to come to do mission in this city but the Lord continually said No. He called me to return year after year...but never to move there. I was feeling a bit despondent in the meeting and opened my bible and turned to some passages in Isaiah that glimmered with prophetic purpose for my future. God spoke to my aching heart about the days to come...when He would send me the nations. I was encouraged that the Lord had not put a love and burden for the nations on my heart with no way to fulfill that burden.

This last week, we hosted one of three teams that came to Spokane from Prairie Bible Institute in Alberta Canada. 7 students (5 girls and 2 guys) stayed at our church for 5 days and joined us in a week of prayer, discipleship, teaching, service and mission. This team came to study "Community Development" in preparation for an upcoming trip to Guatemala.

This week involved working in the CRC clearing out junk, sorting donations and preparing stuff for sale in our upcoming rummage sale. They sorted clothes and organized goods. They helped our Community Dinner team prepare the meal and served during the dinner. Some of the team joined me in delivery of meals after the dinner to four homes in our neighborhood. Tuesday night we split the team up into three groups and put them in 3 refugee homes for a night of cultural immersion to prepare them for their trip to Guatemala. Wednesday morning we shared a big Karen breakfast.

The team helped us give the CRC a makeover, with a new paint job, decorations and cleaning. We spent one day doing a service project in the neighborhood for a family that has a number of disabled family members. Their yard was in desperate need of cleaning and clearing. We removed 7 truck loads of garbage and yard debris to the dump. It was hard work but the family was so blessed. They also were able to join and help two different days with our Refugee Tutoring program, one night with the Kid's Team and another with our Adult team.

In-between these activities we unpacked the gospel and mission, prayed and contextualized book learning with street action and visited people I partner with and places where mission takes place outside our immediate area. It was a full week...and what I treasured most...was that all these activities were in-between the normal "church days" where most church activity takes place. My dream of being a church that lives out mission during the week and comes together on the Weekend to truly celebrate what God is doing during the week...is finally coming to pass.

There were many times during the week, where I was reminded of the Lord's words to me. As I sat in one of the Burma refugee's homes with students from Canada, Australia and different parts of The United States...that word was materializing before me. This week I have seen a number of confirmations to the trustworthiness of God's prophetic words to me over the years. I stand blessed at His faithfulness.I throughly enjoyed my time with the young people from Canada. Sharing life, mission and hearts, seeing God be made known to them and through them, was a gift to experience. I pray that we will see such a program of Urban Mission and Community Development emerge in the future, maybe in partnership with a likeminded institution or bible college. The fruit was really good.

Here are some pictures of the various things we did this week.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Jacob's Well Coffee House...

Jacob’s Well Coffee House is a community ministry that provides a space in our neighborhood for relationships to develop, the arts to be celebrated and a spot to enjoy good coffee.

Come experience a pause in your busy day, hang out with friends, surf the web, do some art, join one of the weekly book groups or listen to a local musician at our monthly Coffee Concerts.

October Sermon Series...

This October we will be going down into the basement of the Scriptures; to shine some light on the stories you probably didn't hear about in Sunday school. It should be a wild ride of biblical spookiness, gore and paranormal oddities...all woven together to teach what the Bible has to say about the themes that our culture celebrates during the Halloween season.