Telling the good story . . . Kingdom evangelism 101
April 30, 2006, 5:19 am
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As I was preparing a final project for one of my classes last week, I reviewed some notes I had taken from lectures by Todd Hunter. I don’t want to quote or paraphrase here, lest I misquote or poorly phrase what he said, but just in quickly reading through that stuff, I got all worked up and excited about the grand story that we’re a part of. Unfortunately, it’s a story that doesn’t go back far enough for so many of us. We talk about the good news of Jesus as though the reason that it’s good is that we’ve been redeemed from sin and get to live life eternal. Yep, that’s pretty good . . . but not good enough. WhachutalkinboutWillis?

You see, the better version of the good story we live is that God (being eternal and all) predated this thing we call sin. He predated the need for redemption. And life was good back then – like really really good. That part of the story is where the Kingdom stuff comes in and makes all the rest of the story make sense. If we are captivated by that, then our restoration to the Kingdom life becomes more than simply “all the crap that Jesus fixed when he died for our sins.” God’s intentionality from the beginning of time is what got worked out in the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ . . . this story of ours didn’t start with the Fall. As we recalibrate life around that eternal kind of story, it necessarily changes our view of evangelism and discipleship as separate things. When you marry those things together, your goal becomes life transformation into Christ-likeness, and not simply getting into heaven after you die.

Allow that richness to penetrate and enliven you this day.

Peace friends.

What the emerging church is all about . . . or at least what it’s not
April 27, 2006, 5:56 am
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Andrew Jones linked me to a podcast (actually it’s broken up into three) of a debate between Doug Pagitt and Bob Dewaay regarding the emerging church, which I went and listened to (sans iPod, mind you).

It revealed something I found interesting. Pagitt spoke from a fairly generic perspective and, I thought, did a good job of talking about the emerging church “movement” as a whole. In his responses, though, Dewaay kept firing open Pagitt’s books and reading quotes that he found troubling, and going on to say why. Several times, Pagitt had to clarify that those quotes were his own, and not necessarily representative of the emerging church, even though he’s a “member” of it. It brought to mind D.A. Carson’s Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church (as did an e-mail conversation I had the other day with a new friend). In his arguments critical of the emerging church, he kept pointing the the writings of a select few people.

This thing that some of us are a part of had better not be about personalities at the end of the day. Sure, when the visible “leaders” of the movement write books and blogs and speak at conferences, it’s easy to point and say, “Hah! That’s what you guys all believe.” I get that. But what the critics need to understand is that this thing is as theologically and practically diverse as the church being that many are emerging from. As the printing presses pump out the books that chart the course of the movement, we’re seeing that diversity play out on our shelves.

Communicating with those who came before us in a respectful way, but sometimes it’s frustratingly slow, because we have to continue saying, “Just because so and so wrote such and such in a book, doesn’t mean she/he speaks for the emerging church.” Are those voices popular (in a big fish/small pond sort of way)? Sure. Have many been influenced by them? Sure. But the emerging church is working itself out at the ground level. That’s why it’s important to continue defining what it means to be truly missional (and not just some watered down version of mission minded). Interestingly enough, it’s also why we shouldn’t sit around talking/blogging about it too much (as I’m doing here) before we go find ways of working this stuff out.

Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Rob Bell, and Mark Driscoll have no ability to speak for you where you’re working, doing life. You can agree or disagree all you want, and feel free to be as influenced by them as you want, but when you’re out there working this stuff out where you live, you don’t ask yourself, “What would [fill in the blank] say/do?” I hope not, anyway. It’s not about the personalitites, it’s about the Kingdom come. That changes everything, and thus, why the emerging church feels the need to change things. We’re responding to getting our collective bell rung by the Holy Spirit. Don’t miss the point people!

Wherever you may find yourself in this mix, stay on point and get driven by the Spirit. Read, write, surf, comment all you want. But get on with the Kingdom stuff, o.k.? Speaking of which, I’m gonna go do that now.

Peace to you all.

One of those days when the why gets answered . . .
April 24, 2006, 8:11 am
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Last week, I cranked on the denom again . . . this is very difficult to stay away from at times, mind you. I just like to avoid it because, well, it seems to be as effective as what my dog, Maui, is doing – she’s got some sort of seasonal allergies going on, and scratches and chews on all parts of her body that she can reach. Complaining about the denom is just like that – at the end of the day, I’m only more irritated and I have less hair. Last week I also mentioned that there are some pretty good reasons to stay connected. This past weekend counts. I got to participate in a regional spring conference. The college students there were hungry for God, and willing to go prove it with lives of service to others. Since December, our network of campus ministries has sent over 200 students to the Gulf Coast for hurricane relief work. This summer, lots more will fan out across the nation and world to follow Jesus in sacrificial ways. That rocks. Being a part of a denomination that is mission-minded helps these students connect to opportunities. There is probably a lot more complaining still left in me, but come on – let me enjoy the moment, would ya?

Earth Day is Saturday
April 18, 2006, 4:43 pm
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I just took this Ecological Footprint quiz . . . and my results depress me. Want a reality check? Go take your own quiz.

I just had a great church marketing idea . . .
April 17, 2006, 9:46 am
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You know how lots of churches bought out entire movie theaters to bring people to see The Passion of the Christ? And you know how lots of churches bought out entire movie theaters to bring people to see The Chronicles of Narnia? I’m wondering how many churches would be willing to buy out entire movie theaters to bring people to see The Da Vinci Code when it comes out May 19. . . whadya think? I’ll spring for the mass-mail postcards and doorknob hangy things if you wanna spring for the movie tickets.

One of those days where I find myself asking why . . .
April 17, 2006, 8:11 am
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I don’t want to get into it too deep, but my denom is a wreck. The president of one of the denom’s missions agencies is being targeted in what looks like a thinly veiled political power play. This morning, the president the other primary denominational missions agency resigned under pressure after some questionable leadership decisions (nothing scandalous that I’ve heard of, but not exactly wise either). That, and I’ve seen first hand some of the scarier stuff of what the future leaders of the denom may look like recently. I’ve been on the fringes for a few years now, and this stuff really threatens to push me over the edge.

I’ve still got some darn good reasons to stay, and I’ve got no plans to bail out just yet . . . but for crying out loud . . . I’ll just stop before the profanity in my brain leaks out through my fingers.

Greetings from America, by James Leonard
April 15, 2006, 6:55 am
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Michelle and I are very pleased to own and enjoy a series of three paintings by California abstract artist James Leonard. Here’s a little taste of what we get to look at daily:

This morning I Googled him to look at some of his other work . . . but found a different artist named James Leonard. While poking around, looking at this guy’s work, I found this:

It caught my eye, so I took a closer look here. Go there and click around on the image to rotate it . . . it changes. Awesome.