Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jesus and Judgement

I have been involved in a few conversations here in recent days via email on the subject of Jesus and judgment. As those of you who know me personally are aware I do not accept the traditional evangelical definition of eternal punishment as judgment as being a gospel idea. This philosophical idea changes my worldview in a way that often causes me to be challenged and oft even abused by those who claim a more traditional interpretation. This is an attempt to cull together a myriad of paragraphs that I have written in the context of the a fore mentioned discussions into a singular essay. I am deeply appreciative of my friends who have challenged me, and even those who have abused me, for requiring me to think critically in order to offer an explanation of the place I stand.

The message the world attributes to "Christianity" is a message of moral superiority, building programs, political ambition, a legacy of abuse, and an obsession with infighting over semantic disagreements. The exclusivity created by concluding that God will endlessly torture those who disagree with my theological understandings is an arrogance that affronts the very character of Jesus gospel. The idea that God is required to act in certain by any active causation neuters the "free" nature of the gift being offered. Jesus is the ultimate example of inclusiveness, and being transformed by that idea would quickly humble the pride of our superior revelation of God.

Still being fair, the idea of judgment certainly comes from inside the text of Jesus' own stories. So one has the responsibility to harmonize the inclusiveness and judgments into a functional paradigm. I will first say, that this harmonization is impossible outside of the active work of the Holy Spirit to reveal the heart of God for his creation through the person of Jesus and the community of his church. It is in the practice of living counter to the system of oppression that divides the world through walls of oppressor and oppressed, that we see salvation and judgment manifested in everything. The gospel must be Good News for the oppressor and the oppressed, because we are all slaves and masters both. So we look at Jesus' words committed to their meanings being shaped by these lenses.

Here Jesus has sent out his disciples to participate in the practice of gospel throughout the region. This passage has been used to justify a doctrine of eternal judgment. However, I would break it down to a few separate thoughts. First off, I think it is important to look at what "gospel" did Jesus send these disciples out with. Their "gospel" like Jesus' own proclamation of gospel in Luke 4, is active in the current world. Sickness, death, leprosy, demonic possession these are real world examples of the conditions of falleness. These problems exist because the problem of sin exists. "Kingdom of God is near" is proven by the facts that the effects of falleness can be proven as powerless. This message proclaims the current world power (money, power, greed) is a worthless power. There are places in this world that are too vested in the current system to receive the new system, they will reject it, and so they will sit in the consequences of siding with a system that has already found itself judged. They MUST be reforged, they must have their swords beaten into plowshares. This will be painful, but it will not be merely punitive.

It would be quite easy to fast forward this text out of it's historical placement and place it as a reference to a judgment that is an eternal punishment. However, as the Oxford scholar of first century history NT Wright points out in "The Challenge of Jesus" there is a better alternate reading of both these passages. He Notes that Jesus, in his vocation as a first century Judean prophet in an occupied state, would have been fulfilling both his role within that vocation and his role in the vocation of "Immanuel." Israel was the people of God, the recipients of Torah. However, God's design was never to bless Israel as an end to itself. God's design for Torah was for Israel to be a peculiar people, a blessing to the world. Israel rather than becoming a people of the Torah had become the keepers of Torah, and Torah had been reduced to a God management system. Israel's nationalism stemmed from their belief in this concept. The Jewish nationalism would be their downfall. Those who live by the sword will die by the sword. In this case that judgment did come for this place when Judea was ravaged by Rome in 70AD. There is a timeless truth for us to not trap God by our ideas and into our identities as these people
had done.

I want to note first that the 10 virgins were friends of the Bridegroom, the wicked servant was a servant of the master, and the sheep and the goats are in the shepherd's flock. I note this because these passages seem to be the most serious words Jesus has to speak about judgment. However despite the usual way they are presented, as an invitation to become part of Christianity or be subject to eternal judgment. Instead the stories share common theme about who God's judgment is directed toward, and that is at the insiders. The 5 foolish virgins were not unaware of the Bridegroom's intentions. The wicked servant was not unaware of the way's of his master. So too there is an expectation Jesus has of those who claim membership in his flock. Note to return once again to Jesus' own proclamation of gospel in Luke 4 in the "sheep and goats." This is a serious warning to any version of "gospel following" that is not rooted in participation with God in the margins. If we do not "lose our life" for the cause of those in the gutters we remain in the perpetual state of missing finding our life in living as part of God's Kingdom.

The issue I see as most pressing in this entire discussion is Christianity's need to interpret texts based on ideas that we hold sacred, not because they are sacred, but instead because they a protect a system we have come to like. By this I mean to conclude the whole discussion by going back to the outside world's perception of Christianity. The outside world's perception is right because it is based not on Christ's church commitment to his command of "Follow Me" but instead a civil institution that spends 80% of collected offerings on buildings, staff, and programming. The institution of the Christian religion is NOT Christ's church. Building programs, workshops, political causes, and a paid clergy are corporate functions for a civil institution. Christ's church is not a civil institution; it is the living incarnation of Christ on earth. Jesus said you would know a tree by it's fruit. If the fruit of the Christian religion is judgmental moral fundamentalism, righteous superiority, and intolerance then it is connected to a different vine than the fruit that comes from the life of Christ.

This is a very serious accusation because when Jesus speaks of judgment he is speaking to EXACTLY this problem. Jesus speaks of judgment for those who count themselves as insiders of God's work. Those who claim ownership of God, and use his name to perpetuate ideas that they hold personally profitable are looking forward to reaping the fruit of their actions.

In closing I note that there has been shared with me a Quaker idea that presents the cross as the ultimate act of solidarity by the creator with his creation. I think this idea has power to shape the praxis of our theology. It calls me into a deeper solidarity with the brokenness that Christ wishes to redeem through my hands and feet. If we can not join God, in community and in solidarity with those suffering oppression, then we stand judged already by Jesus' gospel that we claim to be the keepers of.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Little Food For Your Tummy

I know it has been forever since I posted, but I really have not had anything to say and I have no desire to talk just for the sake of talking. I know the laughter is abounding at the idea of me not wanting to talk needlessly. I am coming out of this hiatus, just to post a recipe that I made yesterday and was a big hit. ALL THREE KIDS liked it, and that may be the first dish ever I could say that about.

  • 5 Medium Tomatoes
  • 1 Bunch of Asparagus
  • 2 Bunches of Green Onion
  • 1 Medium Red Onion
  • 1/2 Head Cabbage
  • 1/3 bag of baby carrots
  • 2 TBS Garlic
  • 1 TBS Dried Basil
  • 1 Tsp Dried Thyme
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • A Pour of Balsamic Vinegar
  • A Splash of White Wine Vinegar

Noodles and Beans
  • 2 Cups Boiling Water
  • 1 Bag Al Dente Whole Wheat Pasta
  • 1 Bag Sun Dried Tomatoes
  • 1 TBS White Pepper
  • 1 15oz Can Dark Red Kidney Beans (Drained)

  1. Prep Sauce vegetables as per normal
  2. Bake all Sauce Ingredients 3 hours on 350 in dutch oven
  3. Blend to sauce with immersion blender
  4. Bake an additional 15 minutes
  5. In Bowl mix Pepper, Kidney beans, and Sun Dried Tomatoes
  6. QUICKLY add bean mix, noodles, and water to dutch oven. Mix and replace lid.
  7. Wrap dutch oven in towels and serve in about two hours.
DO NOT try and substitute another noodle. The wonderful physics of the Al Dente brand noodles make this dish possible.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kingdom, New Creation, & Church

I am currently reading Neil Carter's book "Christ in Y'all" and I was very impressed by this section:

Jesus said that the Good News was that the Kingdom of God had come. In fact, it seems he couldn't stop talking about the kingdom – only he never defined what that kingdom is. He kept telling stories, each one illustrating a different facet of kingdom life. He seemed determined to couch this great thing in mystery, never flly discolising what it would look like or how it would come. We are led in the end, to look to the epistles to discover what the kingdom of God signifies. What we find there, however, is that Paul exchanges the language of kingdom for that of new creation, He speaks of a coming age in which all things are reconciled to God. And somehow, this new world becomes available to us here and now by God's indwelling Spirit.

I believe this is the best definition of what it means to be in Christ's church I have ever read.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Beauty From Ashes

The Hebrew prophets spoke to a world spinning out of control and Israel was shrinking, surrounded on all sides by tyrannical powers, ad God seemed silent, hidden, even powerless. The prophets project forward in time to a period when God breaks his silence. in that day, they tell us, God will move forcefully to recreate heaven and earth. He will swallow up death and dry all tears. There will be no poverty, no hunger, no violence. A banquet feast will be spread for one and all. Then we will know God face to face, and all earth will serve him. - Philip Yancey "The Bible Jesus Read"

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory.
Isaiah 61:1-3
I really have nothing more to say than "Come Lord Jesus Come!"

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Some Great Quotes

I know it has been over a month since I last wrote anything, and I am not writing anything new today either. But I heard a few GREAT quotes today that I wanted to share.

For those of us who still have the audacity to call ourselves Christians with all the social misery and unjustified suffering and unmerited grief in the world; to still say that that cross has a meaning takes a tremendous leap of faith and you don't have to read Kikergard to make that leap - Dr. Cornell West at Eastern -

But the unconditional love is inseparable from justice... because the connection between love and justice is so tight that justice in part is what love looks like in public. Because when you really love folk no matter who and what they are, you hate the fact that they are being treated unfairly, you loathe the fact they're being treated unjustly, you gotta do something about it. It flows out of ya. There's so much care comin out of your heart and mind and soul you can't stay still. - Dr. Cornell West at Eastern -

We are cruel to ourselves when we try to live in this world without knowing the God whose world it is and who runs it. The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place for those who do not know about God. - Kay Warren "You Are What You Believe" April 15, 2009

It is hard to conceive a God worthy of worship who does not condemn the killing of innocent persons. Dr. Cornell West -

I am socializing two homo-sapiens into the dominant values of the Judeo-Christian tradition, in order that they might become the instruments for the social order into the kind of eschatalogical kind of utopia that God willed from the beginning of creation - Tony Campolo's quoting his wife (

This consumerism creates a deadness, and the youth are dead - Tony Campolo (

The words of the apostle Paul who says with great relevance, to the youth of this generation, "Come ye out from among them and be separate sayeth the Lord. I beseech you therefore brothers and sisters by the mercies of God don't be conformed to this democratic capitalistic system, but be transformed by the Spirit of God. And live out a life that is representative of Jesus and the scriptures not the life being prescribed by the media. - Tony Campolo (

Thursday, July 09, 2009


We Believe, We Believe
In Jubilee
We Believe, We Believe
In Jubilee

Let the Poor and the Rich
Sing Jubilee
Let the Weak and the Strong
Sing Jubilee
Let the Saint and the Sinner
Sing Jubilee

We Believe, We Believe
In Jubilee
We Believe, We Believe
In Jubilee

Let the Wise and the Fool
Sing Jubilee
Let the Prisoner and the Free
Sing Jubilee
Let the Good and the Bad
Sing Jubilee

We Believe, We Believe
In Jubilee
We Become, We Become
The Jubilee

We Become, We Become
The Jubilee

Monday, July 06, 2009

Visions and Waiting

When we were in Africa Christi was given a vision of our children dancing around, playing in the dirt with the Swazi children at the care points. After our return home I had amazing miraculous confirmation from God that we were returning to Africa. Finally, as the ball was rolling Christi was also worried that we might be misinterpreting God, and placed a fleece of her own out to God, which was returned wet only moments later. All of this occured between January and May of last year.

Here we are a year later, my house has been on the market for 11 months, I have had only a handful of showings, and so my house sits unsold. If I told you I get discouraged, I am sure you can understand why. At the end of our last retreat in 2008 I said goodbye to the campers and staff, yet on Friday I return for the 2009 camping season. If I told you I wondered about the order and meaning of God's timing, I am sure you can understand why.

Although this wilderness is confusing at best, I was encouraged by the words of Oswald Chambers today:

"And the parched ground shall become a pool." Isaiah 35:7

We always have visions, before a thing is made real. When we realize that although the vision is real, it is not real in us, then is the time that Satan comes in with his temptations, and we are apt to say it is no use to go on. Instead of the vision becoming real, there has come the valley of humiliation.

"Life is not as idle ore,
But iron dug from central gloom,
And batter'd by the shocks of doom
To shape and use."

God gives us the vision, then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of the vision, and it is in the valley that so many of us faint and give way. Every vision will be made real if we will have patience. Think of the enormous leisure of God! He is never in a hurry. We are always in such a frantic hurry. In the light of the glory of the vision we go forth to do things, but the vision is not real in us yet; and God has to take us into the valley, and put us through fires and floods to batter us into shape, until we get to the place where He can trust us with the veritable reality. Ever since we had the vision God has been at work, getting us into the shape of the ideal, and over and over again we escape from His hand and try to batter ourselves into our own shape.

The vision is not a castle in the air, but a vision of what God wants you to be. Let Him put you on His wheel and whirl you as He likes, and as sure as God is God and you are you, you will turn out exactly in accordance with the vision. Don't lose heart in the process. If you have ever had the vision of God, you may try as you like to be satisfied on a lower level, but God will never let you.

I pray that I will soon be in the shape he desires me to be in, so that I can continue on in the vision he has given.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Brisket Recipe

I promised some people I would post my brisket recipe so here goes: This is designed for a 6 lb brisket. When I cook a box of briskets for a large group I cut my briskets to this size.

Dry Rub:
  • 4 TBS - Coarse Sea Salt
  • 4 TSP - Minced Garlic
  • 4 TSP - Smoked Paprika
  • 2 TSP - Coarse Black Pepper
  • 2 TSP - Chili Powder
  • 1 TSP - Cayenne Pepper

Cooking Procedure
DO NOT TRIM BEEF - We Will Trim Before Serving!
  1. Cover Meat In Dry Rub
  2. Cook Uncovered on Grill for 1 Hour at 350
  3. Wrap in 3 Layers of Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil
  4. Roast Wrapped for 6 Hours at 225
  5. Uncover in pan to preserve drippings
  6. Return to Grill at 350 for 45 Minutes - Basting every 10 minutes with drippings
  7. Return to Pan and wrap in towell for 30 minutes before serving

Serving Instructions
  1. Trim Fat
  2. Slice Thin Diagonals
  3. Serve with White Bread and Jalapenos.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Deporting Jesus

While looking for an old friend who was a very influential professor in my life I found a poem by him that had been published a few years ago.

The poem is about the story of an illegal immigrant Manuel Jesus Cordova Soberanes. Though he had successfully hiked his way only a short distance from civilization where there was work for the man who would earn enough as a bricklayer to feed and care for his 7 children back home, Manuel gave all this up refusing to abandon a lost boy in the desert. The boy named Christopher was the victim of a fatal car accident that had cost him his mothers life. Manuel cared for him though they shared no common language and Soberances knowing he would be returned to Mexico with nothing to show for his journey across the desert.

Scott Simpson -Published by New Wineskins 2007

Two days across the desert
only eight hours more
to Tucson and work—
daily bread for four children
back home.

Generational son of brick layers,
Jésus Cordova had journeyed north
from the village of Magdalena de Kino
where in 1688 Jesuit Eusebio Kino
established Mission
Santa Maria Magdalena,
teaching the natives the art
of brick laying, and the words
of a carpenter
spent on outcasts.

Then suddenly, among the screwbean mesquite and
patches of arrow weed, Jésus meets
nine year old Christopher,
miles from any town
and night falling.

November 25th had deposited
a minivan at the bottom of a crumbling cliff
300 feet from the tight curve, misjudged,
the boy’s mother alive, but dying.

On a Thanksgiving night,
Christopher climbed for help
and stumbled upon Jesus
who shared what he had,
his coat, a fire
and the only common word
that bridged the barrier:

Christopher is alive
because Jésus Cordova stayed with him
till dawn on the wrong side,

Jésus, the brick layer America rejected.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Interview With Frank Viola

As anyone who has had a conversation on just about any topic in the last few months knows, I am a HUGE fan of Frank Viola's book "From Eternity to Here." I was honored to see my original blog review of the book appear on The Ooze.

A few weeks ago I received an email from Frank's staff inviting me to participate in a blog circuit today promoting the book. The best part was the opportunity to submit questions regarding the book for response by Frank Viola. In the midst of a project this large (55 Bloggers In All) he was not able to answer all my questions, but I am grateful for the answers he did provide.. If just checking out Frank's answers to my questions wasn't exciting enough to excite you, my reader, I thought I'd sweeten the pot by giving a FREE COPY of the book away at the end of the interview.

1. You note the bride of Christ is removed from his side when the guard pierced Jesus' side (pleura) and blood and water flowed out. Is there a metaphorical significance to blood and water that you see there?
Yes, I believe so. The blood speaks of redemption. The water speaks of life. There are references to blood and water in John’s first epistle and in his Gospel. The Bride is cleaned by the blood; she is made alive and comes into being by the water (God’s life).
2. You note how important it is that Christ destroyed death to prepare the way for his bride. Was this a partial defeat reserved only for his bride or in totality for the restoration of the entire creation?
For the entire cosmos. The earth changed on resurrection day. On that day, the new creation was born. It will be consummated at the Lord’s return when His glorious Person will fill all things.
3. In the chapter on Mary Magdalene you note she was the first person Jesus spoke to an his words were an echo to Adam's "Woman..." Is Mary therefore the first member of the church?
I believe the church was formed on the day of Pentecost when the Spirit was poured out. Mary was certainly the first witness to His resurrection, which says a lot. Especially in how our Lord views women. In that day, a woman’s testimony wouldn’t hold up in a Jewish court of law. So the Lord made a great statement through appearing to Mary first. In the same way, Peter was the first male disciple who laid eyes on the resurrected Christ. Peter had just denied Him a few days earlier … three times in fact.

What a Lord of mercy and compassion!
4. Your chapter on the 2 tabernacles was certainly the high point of the book for me, so I have two questions about that. First, have you considered an entire work on this theme? Secondly, why was Solomon's temple completely skipped in this discussion?
Thanks. It’s my favorite image of God’s house. No plans for a book on that, but I gave an entire message on it that’s on CD. People have said that the spoken message on David’s Tabernacle is more powerful than the discussion of it in the book. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I don’t believe I skip Solomon’s temple, but I don’t treat it in any depth. When trying to capture the whole sweep of the Bible in a single book, you are forced to choose what you want to emphasis and expand. I felt David’s tabernacle was more fitting for this particular book.
I enjoyed the answers to the question, as I hoped you did too. I also hope our winner, Adam Mearse enjoys his free copy of the book I'll be sending over too. Also for those of you who did not win, I'll be giving away another copy on Friday, so if you did not get your name in the first time, be sure to add it between now and Thursday in the comments right here.


Today (June 9th), the following blogs are discussing Frank Viola's new bestselling book “From Eternity to Here” (David C. Cook, 2009). The book just hit the May CBA Bestseller List. Some are posting Q & A with Frank; others are posting full reviews of the book. To read more reviews and order a copy at a 33% discount, go to

Your browser may not support display of this image.

For more resources, such as downloadable audios, the free Discussion Guide, the Facebook Group page, etc. go to the official website:

Enjoy the reviews and the Q and A:


Out of Ur -

Shapevine - (June newsletter)

Brian Eberly - -

Greg Boyd -

Vision Advance -

David Flowers -

Kingdom Grace -

Captain's Blog -

Christine Sine -

Darin Hufford - The Free Believers Network -

Zoecarnate -

Church Planting Novice -

Staying Focused -

Take Your Vitamin Z -

Jeff Goins -

Bunny Trails -

Matt Cleaver -

Jason T. Berggren -

Simple Church -

Emerging from Montana -

Parable Life -

Oikos Australia -

West Coast Witness -

Keith Giles -

Consuming Worship --

Tasha Via -

Andrew Courtright -

ShowMeTheMooneys! -

Leaving Salem, Blog of Ronnie McBrayer -

Jason Coker -

From Knowledge to Wisdom -

Home Brewed Christianity -

Dispossessed -

Dandelion Seeds -

David Brodsky's Blog- "Flip the tape Deck" -

Chaordic Journey -

Renee Martin -

Bob Kuhn -

Living with Freaks:

Real Worship -

Fervent Worship -

Julie Ferwerda Blog - /

What's With Christina?! -

Irreligious Canuck -

This day on the journey -

Live and Move: Thoughts on Authentic Christianity -

Spiritual Journey With God -

Dries Conje - / /

Journey with Others -

On Now to the Third Level -

Christine Moers -

Breaking Point -

Hand to the Plough -

Jon Reid -

Weblight -

D. L. Webster -

Searching for the Whole-Hearted Life -

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

You Deserve Better

It seems that you are on to the possibility that you deserve better, that you deserve to be put back together instead of torn apart. Wrapped in things that are true instead of lies. Shown pictures of hope instead of failure. - TWLOHA

If you have never heard of the organization To Write Love on Her Arms, you need to check them out. Their mission is to speak the truth of wholeness into the pain and brokenness of the secret world of self injury.Today they published a letter in response to the postcard that was in this Sunday's Postsecret.

I loved the above quote from their comments. Each person we meet whether they are struggling with self injury, or self righteousness is a broken vessel in need of being put back together. The historian Philo is often mis-credited with the quote,
"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle." Though the source to the wisdom is quite questionable, it's truth is not. The people we encounter, those we love, and those we struggle to love; those who love us and those who struggle to love us; those we attempt to ignore and those who attempt to ignore us; those we see as wise and those we see as fools, all of here on this great rock share the reality of pain.

"When you recognize that pain and response to pain is a universal thing, it helps explain so many things about others, just as it explains so much about yourself. It teaches you forbearance. It teaches you a moderation in your responses to other people's behavior. It teaches you a sort of understanding. It essentially tells you what everybody needs. You know what everybody needs? You want to put it in a single word? Everybody needs to be understood. And out of that comes every form of love. If someone truly feels that you understand them, an awful lot of neurotic behavior just disappears. Disappears on your part, disappears on their part. So if you're talking about what motivates this world to continue existing as a community, you've got to talk about love." - Sherwin Nuland

The great theologian Karl Barth was once asked what the greatest theological truth he had learned was and he replied, "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so." That truth is enhanced by the reality that every person I have ever loved, hated, respected, ignored, bandaged, or wounded is anchored by that same God love! It is my goal to live my life this way; to be brought into wholeness by God's healing power to such a point where I love enough to practice what I preach here, to make EVERY encounter of life a season of healing and wholeness, rather than adding to the pain and hurt!

God help me to Love like That!!!!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Shame On You!

Life in our house has been out of sorts for a few weeks now. Our amazing God, is doing a healing work in my wife, and healing gaping wound can at times seem more painful than the resolution to just live with it. I will not go into much detail, since you can read through her telling the story over at

In this process of walking with her in love through this healing, the issue of shame has become a major source of conversation. People exiting the painful prison of abuse must always pass through the barbed gates of shame. Abusive control requires the abuser to hold their victim into the dark cell of worthlessness through the threat of more serious deeper piercing wounds. Shame is a weapon used to further damage an already weakened emotional prey.

Shame has been a part of the human experience since moments after the first bites from the forbidden tree. Adam and Eve, hid from God when his footsteps were heard in the garden. After a poor sacrifice Cain's shame caused him to kill his brother. Jacob's shame caused him to send a wealth of gifts ahead of himself and his family to appease Esau. David sent a trusted warrior to be killed in the front line of battle after his adulterous affair with the man's wife. Shame has caused many a reactions in the people facing it's brutal stare.

Shame unfortunately does not come from merely internal struggles with our enemy. It is often joined by a voice or a crowd of voices promoting their own agenda for another's life. Far to often people deputize themselves into Satan's work joining his voice in accusing others of their perceived wrong. In the middle ages "Priest of the Church" would sentence unruly women into wearing hideous masks inviting public scorn. In the early days of formalized public education under performing students were given a cone headed dunce cap to humiliate them. Humiliation and scorn remain two of the painful implements used to remind the person perceived as out of line of their disgrace.

Although my in-laws weapons of shame have been turned on me, they were as harmless as the burst of air from an Airzooka canon. The stinging spikes of their scorn and humiliation are not so painless for my wife, who was conditioned by their venomous remarks from the time she was a little girl. It is the fragile child in need of her parents acceptance that cowers helpless despite the rational logic of the amazing adult she has grown to become. In a classic formula of abuse she has been systematically indoctrinated with the idea that she is a burden, unworthy of love who should be gracious and compliant to them for their willingness to love in spite of her being undeserving and base. The truth that she is admirable, compassionate, intelligent and good is cloaked from her own vision since the catalogue of instances that illustrate her unworthiness are recounted in performance style each time she attempts to remove the shame mask or set aside their dunce cap.

In one of my favorite gospel stories a woman who is found for some reason in sexual relations with a man who is her not husband is dragged out by a group of religious elitist to be exposed in her shame as a trap for Jesus. Exhibited before the crowd she cowers awaiting the bludgeoning pain of the stones she is about to have hurled at her. Jesus squats down to ground, placing himself level with her he looks into her to see her life, her pain, her circumstances that have brought her to be discovered as she was using and being used by the man ignored by her accusers. Jesus, the incarnate God, looks deep inside, past the shame and guilt and sees the little girl. Jesus, the incarnate God, looks up to peer back inside the accusers who have no shame in the midst of their self righteous piety. "Let You," Jesus replies to them, "Who has never sinned be the first to cast a stone."

"SHAME!!! SHAME!!! SHAME!!!" Jesus says to the professional religionist. It is not the brokenness present in all mankind that the God of the universe shames, it is the lie of self righteousness that assumes one worthy of the authority to sit on the judgement seat of God. Jesus' biting "Shame on You!" is first for the oldest and then continuing down to his peers who view themselves as executioners of proper morality. When they have all dropped their stones and sulked away sullied by having their own nakedness displayed, Jesus positions himself beside her, lifts her into his arms, and steps through the razors of the barbed fence freeing her from their prison of shame. Jesus takes the wounding of the jagged blades as he tenderly tells her, "Neither do I condemn you."

In 1 Corinthians 1:27 Paul teaches that, "But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty." It is a reminder of the great reversal of God's upside down kingdom. The boundless love of God speaks NO SHAME into our brokenness, and those who do sit in the judgment seat with their personal verdict and scorn, humiliation, and shame do not speak on his behalf.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Book Giveaway: From Eternity To Here - June 9th

I am excited to be participating in a blog circuit for Frank Viola's book From Eternity to Here on June 9th. If you did not read my review of the book here or on The Ooze in the past, you can do so now, - I do believe this is the most important, life changing book I have read this year.

F.E.T.H. is the third book in a trilogy by Viola. Starting in Pagan Christianity, Viola launched an outright attack on the perverted system of religion that culturally dominates under the name of Christianity. In Reimaging Church, he offers a constructive how to guide as a constructive response to Pagan Christianity. Finally in From Eternity To Her, the conclusion to the trilogy, you realize that you can't read this book without understanding that, in the way Pagan Christianity was an academic attack on the institutional church this is a narrative attack on it.

I facilitated a discussion on the book which you can listen to here if you are interested in a more detailed breakdown of the book's theme's and elements. However, an even better way to capture the book's message is to get a copy. SO, in honor of the June 9th blog circuit. I am giving away a FREE COPY of the book. Add your name to the comments on this post between now and June 8th, and then my son will draw a name from those participating to select a winner, which will be announced along with Viola's response to several questions I had about the book in the June 9th post right here..

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

God, I am Sorry

Seth Barnes, the director of AIM, the organization we will be serving with in Nsoko, Swaziland, posted a wonderful blog and and challenged his readers to what prayer they would pray based on the Spirit's work in their life.

Check Out The Post - God, I'm Sorry

Here Is my Prayer:

Lord God, I too repent of my believing the lies of the American culture you trusted me into. I pursued safety, comfort, acquisition, and amusement, though you desired risk, suffering, surrender, and service. May your divine providence bring Jubilee to this selfish past!

Friday, May 22, 2009

1000th Post - Dispossessed

I always assumed when I got to this point, 1000 posts, I would write some stirring post of great spiritual and literary value that demonstrated how I had grown as a writer and follower of God in the years since I started writing it. This will not be that post, I will include that as my goal for 2000th post. Instead I want to be honest and candid about who I am today, how I got here, and where I am going.

God is Love. It is the only way to start this story. I am more sure of this truth today than I have ever been. I am more convinced that this matters, than I have ever been convinced of anything mattering. I am thoroughly postmodern and therefore accept nothing with any level of final certainty except this one truth, God is Love.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - Charles Dickens
I am a refugee from my homeland. My old citizenship was in an idealized version of Americana that has most likely never existed. It has been three years since I left that Americana and started this spiritual trek westward toward finding Eden. I must admit from my position in the desert, I am thankful for the water, the manna, and the quail; but I am not quite sure I can take another 37 years of it.

I grew up in the Church of Christ arm of the American Restoration Movement. My grand-father was affiliated with the non-institutional, non-sunday school, non-everything branch of our fellowship. My father was military so his frequent change of station brought us into contact with many types of these churches. This tribe that I have been raised in has it's merits and it's curses. In truth I have a "great Bible knowledge" because of the commitment to an academic approach to God's word that stems from the groups very modernistic worldview. The curse is that same modernist worldview creates an arrogant finality to the voice and language of God. The modern principle of "doctrinal purity" excludes any ability to wreslt with an ongoing dialog with the text.

Well before I knew anything at all about modern and postmodern thought. I knew that I was not programmed the same way as my tribe. I faithfully remained a part of this group, and worked within it with the great love of radical revolutionary. From Jr. High on through adulthood I usually felt more beaten and bloodied by the ruling regime than ever feeling like progress was being made toward another way.

My wrestling with God, and with the tribe he had placed me within, did not stop with our method of reading and responding to the word of God. My conflict ran deeper into issues of ethic. The modernist bent of our tribe leads to a worship of all things quinessentially modern. This meant that the "great experiment in self government" was viewed as God's will for mankind. I could not and still can not reconcile the ethic of a church aligned with the national interest of a nation state who would use it's pulpit to become propaganda to that nation state.

In examples, I remember being a 17 year old pacifist in 1992 attempting to challenge the church's wholsale acceptance of violence against the Iraqi people. I remember asking questions like did Jesus really want girls pushed to back alley "doctors" with crude tools as "punishment" for their immorality. Challenges like this recieved me the label of instigator and accused of hijacking the Bible class. Questions like this were core to the ethic of what it meant to read this book our study calimed to revere.

As I studied in college and matured in the years since, my questions have remained the same. I continued to wonder if "church" should shape the morality of our interpersonal human interaction more than it shapes our doctrine of metaphysical truth. My tension in our differing approaches to the word of God eventually led to a seismic rift.

Three years ago, Jesus wrecked my life! I purchased a book titled Fields of the Fatherless mainly because I liked the cover description and it was on sale for $5. In that book I fell in love with Jesus. I knew God before this, inasmuch as I had been taught about him, employed to teach others about him, and experienced trying to serve him. I thought I knew Jesus too, but I did not. The Jesus I knew I can only best describe it as before this time I had only ever read about Jesus, in Tom Davis's book I met Jesus.

Meeting Jesus will always put you at odds with the world around you. The world is just not all that happy with a God who claims that downward mobility is the path to joy, and fills His kingdom with the poor, the immoral, and the wretched. That doesn't work well in a tri-fold brochure.

In January of this year our family felt led by God to leave the "church" we were affiliated with and venture into an entirely new model of the journey. We visited a church recently in the Rogers Park neighborhood where my oldest daughter met and connected to an older woman with some learning challenges. The woman liked my daughter a lot, and my daughter liked her too. The woman asked, "Will you be back next week?" To which my oldest replied, "Probably not, my parents just like to check things out." It was a most honest telling of the journey we have been on. We have been part of church that meets in our home and another that meets elsewhere, we have been part of a ministry to ex-offenders, we have pursued fellowship with an intentional Mennonite community, we have tried many other things too and still are wandering checking things out.

That is how I got here to who I am today. I am a dispossessed pilgrim trying to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I own a home in the burbs, but belong among the broken. I am in tension with the life I cut out for myself, and the life God created me to fulfill. I am made to live out the love of God, but mostly I just love enough to keep living. I am standing on the wrong side of the Jordan waiting to cross over. I am on a trek with almighty God, but ready to be settled down in his promised land. It is the best and worst of tension and times.

Where I am going is much harder than where I came from and where I am at. The old cliche says that the future is still unwritten, and I feel that way. God has confirmed a ministry to the orphans of Nsoko, yet our house is unsold and we are no longer connected to a support stream. I feel like the future has more to do with God's intervention than with my plans. With your grace as I mix metaphors, my Issac is tied to the altar and the knife is raised above my head.

I am dispossessed!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The View From The Wilderness

In the New Testament Greek the word erhmos occurs a total of forty-seven times in five forms. Although most often it is translated as wilderness, in some forms of the scholars have felt the word is more appropriately translated as an isolated or remote place, in essence a place of voluntary solitude: this is the exception being translated this way only nine times.

A most interesting exception to this is Luke 15:14 which in modern translations is translated as open pasture or open country. The translation note I read from the NET translation pointed out that this was an editorial decision because they did not like the sense the verse left when wilderness was used. I am no Greek expert at all, having barely passed it 14 years ago, I am still quite bothered by editorial decisions that are not reflected in the text. So I decided to use my gifts where they lie, and consult a database for further enlightenment. Liddell, a secular lexicon, has no such definition for the word.

At this point you may very well feel I am nit picking a word, and the editorial decision is harmless and changes nothing. In fact we like the idea as insiders on this "God family" that God leaves us nestled away in the safety of our open pasture while he treks out to find other lost sheep. Yet the language of Jesus, a master of story telling imagery, does not leave a crowd of insiders safe inside the sheep pen. Instead he leaves us in the wilderness, the same wilderness that he was driven off into to be tempted, the same wilderness that symbolizes the barren woman's desolation.

The wilderness is not a welcoming picture at all. In fact scholar Roderick Fraser-Nash in his work Wilderness and the American Mind points out that our word wilderness "comes from the concept of wildeor, used in the 8th-century Beowulf epic the word is a mixture of “will”—self-willed, uncontrollable nature and deor, meaning savage beast. So then the “wilderness” is the place where uncontrollable dangerous beasts lurk, it is dark and threatening place. It is the kind of place where mythical horrors like Sasquatch and Chupacabra lurk. It's the kind of place where the son of God goes toe to toe with his enemy. This is the place the Great shepherd leaves his flock.

The abandonment in the isolation of the wilderness, is not unfamiliar to anyone who has been in this Christianity thing for long. Honestly speaking, I am here in it right now. A year ago our plans were to be in Swaziland, ministering to orphans. Tonight, I still sit here in Chicago, same house, same job, same...., The isolation of the sameness is a wilderness, a year has come and gone and the work I long to be doing for the Kingdom, still sits miles away on the other side of this wilderness. It can be depressing if I allow it to be.

Yet for here, and for now I take comfort. Though I am out here in the wilderness, it is just the place the Great shepherd left me, and he is still about the business of rescue. I am in a desolate place, but remain in good hands.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Don't Do It

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end - Hebrews 3:12-14

"the point of intersection of the sovereignty of God and the collective believers’ subjective state is an intersection of the Father’s decision to act, and our fully recognized state of utter helplessness until He does...As long as we imagine that God is awaiting our facilitating of His purpose, we deceive ourselves into thinking that we are not, in fact, spiritually bankrupt in and of ourselves and bereft of any ability to contribute to the doing of God" - John Gavazzoni

I am not inclined to be helpless. It is not in my nature to wait. I would rather do! Yet, it is our calling to just BE! In the words of my friend Jed Brewer, "I bring nothing to the table. We could never split the tab." This is a truth I know in my head, yet struggle to migrate into my heart. God is initiation to me is "Don't do it, just learn to be in me." This is the sanctification that enables love, joy, and peace. I can not do love, it is to BE lived. I can not do joy, it is to BE lived. I can not do peace, it is to BE lived. I can not DO for I AM, I can only BE His!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Parable of the Leaven - Fr. Thomas Keating

He told them another parable: 'The kingdom of God is like yeast which a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.' (Matthew 13:33)

Jesus says the kingdom of God is like leaven. In the ancient Mediterranean world as we saw, leaven had very negative associations. It was the archetype of uncleanness and corruption. Leaven was made by putting a piece of bread in a dark, damp place until it molded and stank. Both leaven and the process of leavening were symbols of corruption.

In the Jewish tradition men were considered ritually pure and women were ritually unclean. As a consequence, rabbis were forbidden to speak to women in public. No rabbi giving a formal sermon would cite a woman as heroine of any story. Jesus frequently did so in his parables, however, ignoring the stereotypes of his day.

In this parable Jesus addresses the popular idea that the kingdom of God is holy, good, and triumphant. The kingdom turns out to be active in the marginalized and the poor, both of whom regarded in Jesus' day as objects of God's abandonment. The state of poverty was regarded as the result of sin and hence was a symbol of corruption. Natural calamities"

I have had this wonderful story sitting in my drafts for over three years. I keep meaning to post it and write a reflection on it. However, really what could I add to such a beautiful commission.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bart Campolo - I'm Gonna Kill You

One 14-year-old boy in the program had shot and killed an innocent teenager to prove himself to his gang. At the trial, the victim’s mother sat impassively silent until the end, when the youth was convicted of the killing. After the verdict was announced, she stood up slowly and stared directly at him and stated, “I’m going to kill you.” Then the youth was taken away to serve several years in the juvenile facility.

After the first half-year the mother of the slain child went to visit his killer. He had been living on the streets before the killing, and she was the only visitor (in jail) he’d had. For a time they talked, and when she left she gave him some money for cigarettes. Then she started step-by-step to visit him more regularly, bringing food and small gifts.

Near the end of his three-year sentence, she asked him what he would be doing when he got out. He was confused and very uncertain, so she offered to help set him up with a job at a friend’s company. Then she inquired about where he would live, and since he had no family to return to, she offered him temporary use of the spare room in her home. For eight months he lived there, ate her food, and worked at the job.

Then one evening she called him into the living room to talk. She sat down opposite him and waited. Then she started, “Do you remember in the courtroom when I said I was going to kill you?” “I sure do,” he replied. “I’ll never forget that moment.” “Well, I did it,” she went on. “I did not want the boy who could kill my son for no reason to remain alive on this earth. I wanted him to die. That’s why I started to visit you and bring you things. That’s why I got you the job and let you live here in my house. That’s how I set about changing you. And that old boy, he’s gone. So now I want to ask you, since my son is gone, and that killer is gone, if you’ll stay here. I’ve got room and I’d like to adopt you if you let me.” And she became the mother he never had.

May the God of all love, joy, and peace transform our hearts like he did this woman's

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Brennan Manning - Furious Longing of God - Quote

Jesus Christ has irreparably changed the world...His sentences stand like quivering swords of flame because he did not come to bring peace but a revolution. The gospel is not a children's fairytale. But rather a cutting edge, rolling thunder, convulsive earthquake against the world of the human spirit.

This is not the God of the philosophers who speak of a supreme being. A supreme being would never allow spit on his face. It is jarring indeed to learn, that what he (Christ) went through in his passion and death is meant for us too; that the invitation he extends is, “Don’t weep for me, join me.”

The life he has for Christian’s is a life much like he lived. He was not poor, so I could be made rich. He was not mocked that we might be honored. He was not laughed at so we would be lauded. On the contrary he paints a picture that includes you and me.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Now That's What I Call Nutritous

Over the past eight years I have been through periods of intense health consciousness, and periods of slack dietary habits where I consumed the Standard American Diet. I have read and listened to the work of a number of health food practitioners including Dr. Joel Robbins, Rev George Malkus, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Dr Gerson and Dr. Mercola. I do believe their research which proves that we are in the best health when we eat a diet of raw plant based materials. Although I agree with this, the invitation to the wonderful tempation of Portillos, and the convience of processed foods has often seduced me back to the S.A.D. so easily available around me.

Over the next several weeks, my wife and I have committed to participating in a juicing fast, to provide our bodies not only with an intense burst of nutrition and healing, but to once again help propell us into a lifestyle of better health choices. This is not a total fast, in the fact that we will eat a cooked starch based evening meal. This fast is not like a "wilderness fast" where we are being devoid of calories and nutrition, but instead has a strict regimine of ultra-nutritious freshly made vegetables juices.

Here is my "consumption schedule" for each weekday during this period of nurtitional revitalization.

8:00 - Wake Up! - Consume nothing first hour awake.
9:00 - Vegetable Juice - Today I started with a carrott - beet juice to get some sugar in my system.
10:00 - Barley Max - A manufactured version of a wheatgrass like beverage.
11:00 - Vegetable Juice
12:00 - Barley Max
1:00 - Vegetable Juice
2:00 - Barley Max
3:00 - Vegetable Juice
5:00 - Barley Max
6:00- Vegetable Juice
7:00 - 1 Large Baked Potato or 1 Cup Brown Rice

This in addition to all the water we want to drink, is our total consumption for the five workdays each week of the fast.

On weekends we still won't consume anything the first hour we are awake and we will use the Barley Max only twice each day for those two days. Our food on the weekends will still be all plant based, but it will involve more traditional cooked foods, rather than just the juices.

Personally, I feel there is more than just the benefit of the healing power of great nutrition. We live in a society of on demand pleasure. If my tummy rumbles, I fill it. If my sweet tooth suggest, I comply. If I smell it, then I taste it. Although this is not "evil" per say. For me, it steals an awareness to the needs of others around me. Since I quickly and thoughtlessly meet every perceived need as I experience it, I am blinded to the needs those surrounding me can not meet. It is my prayer during this exercise in nutritional fasting, that God will use the pangs in my tummy, or the neglect of my sweet tooth to give me his vision into the pangs and neglect of needs that I would normally walk past.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Holy Week Thursday: Dirty Feet

"For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took off his outer robe and bent down to serve, washing his disciples feet he said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” - 1 Cor 11:13 (with liberties)
John tells the story of Jesus washing the disciples' feet, in about the same place in the storyline where the others tell about the institution of the Lord's supper. I find it interesting that John doesn't mention the actual passover meal at all, and yet details a good portion of the dialouge in much greater detail than the other writers. By conclusion I figure the feet washing affected him more profoundly than it did Matthew, who by profession we know was a wealthy educated Jew. Matthew was caught up by the now realized fulfillment of the Passover meal. The son of thunder was caught up by the master choosing to be the slave.

John has come a long way in his life from the "son of thunder" we meet at the beginning of his life with Jesus, to the aged saint and elder of the church who writes 1 John, the epistle of love. I wonder how profoundly this act has much to do with that.

I have read authors point out that the feet washing instruction Jesus gives is about service within the family God. This is not to say that Jesus did not want the church to serve those outside the "church", since he makes that clear in many other place. However this act, this is about how the people of God treat each other.

I get the idea when John writes, "whoever has stuff and sees his brother in need without caring, how can he call himself a lover of God" (1 John 3:17 paraphrased) he is thinking back to this example Jesus set.

For John, in the entirety of his writing, we see that love for one another actualized through service to one another, is a sacramental act. For John, having his feet washed was a saving moment.

Holy Week Prayer: Lord Father, remind me constantly that loving my brother, through actual sacrificial service on my part, is an act of sacrament in your Kingdom.

An Observation on John 13:1-17

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Holy Week Wednesday: Busy

Busy! It's a painful word today. I broke my Holy Week fast because I was too busy to fast. Let me explain before you take me for a total wash up. This morning was my third day without eating and as I was attempting to work I could not form a cognitive thought. So at lunch time I decided to go ahead and resume eating as normal. I figured that a one week fast would be great for people able to sit in a cabin and commune with God, but I needed to work.

Then when it came time for my reading today, I read the parable Jesus tells of the Wedding Banquet. The one where everyone is too BUSY to come to the kings banquet. Immediately I was convicted by the decision I had made. I had chosen the common, my oxen and my farm, over the feat of the Spirit. It is true a man needs is farm and his business, but he needs to dine with his King more. It is true I am in a place in life where I have responsibilities at work, but still I need to nourishment of God's provision more!

Please understand, I am not beating myself up, and I am not dwelling in regret, but more to the point I am reminded that it is SOOOOO easy to feel our need for the physical, but yet it is the Spirit, when we feast on him, that gives us all good gifts.

HOLY WEEK PRAYER: Lord God, may I live my life knowing it is your Spirit I need to empower my mind. I desire to feast on you, and believe in your provision of all good things.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Holy Week Tuesday: Obsession

Fasting is an intriguing practice to me. It is not a particularly "sacred" practice. When I am doing it, I do not feel more holy, more in touch with the Spirit, more apt to touch the fingers of God. I can not remember ever having a great Spiritual epiphany while fasting. On one level I approach fasting as a discipline to be practiced, with bewilderment about whether I am missing something that everyone else gets.

Then there is another side of fasting. No, I am not negating the things I said in the first paragraph. The other side of fasting is the battle it creates in me. When I fast I have my obsession for pleasure exposed in open awareness. Like I said above, this is not a particularly "spiritual" exposure. It is a physical reality. As I pass the candy jar on other's desks in my office, I realize how mindlessly I stop and pick a little piece out of each bowl. As I walk into the kitchen to refill my water bottle, I see the nicely prepared fruit trays where each day I take a plate of wonderful sweet nutritious fruit, purchased by my employer and prepared by a few coworkers. I receive the pleasure of great flavor and nutrition at no cost and no effort to me. At home, I smell the wonderful aroma of my children's dinner. I think, "just a small taste of that marinara won't hurt, I'll still be hungry."

Fasting has little to do with hunger pangs for me. Perhaps it is the fact that a "long" fast in my book is a week, so I never really get to the point of real hunger. No, it is about obsession, it is my taste buds that long to be appeased with something tempting. In the moments before I sat down to write this post, I had picked up a bottle of habanero sauce that was sitting on my desk, I removed it's lid, breathed in the scent of it's peppers, and thought, just a dab on my tongue to pacify my pallette.

My reading today took me through the seven woes. I read them in this strange setting I find my mind in. I am torn between an obsession by my senses for salt or sugar and an equally constant obsessive thought process about a friend who I believe is self destructing. It is here where the Spirit speaks to me in these seven woes.

Heavy loads, swallowed camels, white washed tombs, Gehenna's judgement; the terms reorient me to my own frailty and brokenness, as my own addictions for self indulgence beg me for anything sweet.

I do not fast to enter a sacred space with God, except for the space made sacred as I acknowledge we are fellow travelers, and I would be selfish, and self indulgent to not bend over, and help my friend carry his load.

HOLY WEEK PRAYER: Lord God, Expose to me every lie and addiction I harbor so I am free to be fully consumed by you. Let me be active in that consuming obsession by seeing through faith the need to lift not judge my brothers burden. Your Kingdom come, on earth AS IT IS in heaven!

A personal reflection on Matthew 23:1-36

Monday, April 06, 2009

Holy Week Monday - Cigarettes & Sacraments

I Found God on the corner of 1st & Amistad.
Where the west was all but won.
All alone, smoking his last cigarette.
I said, "Where you been?"
-The Fray
I found God in the flames of a camp fire when I was 8 years old. He spoke to me from that fire and told me we had plans together he and I.

I found God in the hand of friend as I held a fork intended as a weapon in my own strung out hand. He spoke to me from the friends hand and told me we had plans together he and I.

I found God on a tennis court 2 days before my 18th birthday. He spoke to me in a 45 minute experience of perfect communion and told me we had plans together he and I.

I found God in the backyard my apartment complex while a cigarette hung from my lips and obscenities we shouted at the heavens. He spoke to me through my own tears and told me we had plans together he and I.

I found God in the message of a book I picked up on the $5 rack at the Family Christian Store. He spoke to me through those words and told me we had plans together he and I.

I found God in the broken body of small girl dying of AIDS on my wife's lap. He spoke to me through her frailty and told me we had plans together he and I.

I found God speaking, freeing, changing, leading my wife from the grips of abuse addictions. He spoke to me through the bandages he placed over her wounds and told me we had plans together he and I.

I found God on a sand bar in Georgia, alone and protesting the emotional toll of this Breakthrough weekend. He spoke to me in healing prose and told me we had plans together he and I.

I found God in a conversation with my friend working on his GED at 45 struggling that math is hard. He spoke to me through these simple equations and told me we had plans together he and I.

I found God yesterday as I took a bite of stale communion bread. He spoke to me though the gross cardboard I was chewing and told me we had plans together he and I.

I found God last night smoking a Marlboro all alone. He spoke to me in the stillness of my patio and told me we had plans together he and I.

HOLY WEEK PRAYER: Lord God, may I have the grace and faith to find you and participate in your plans together for you and I.

An Avant Garde Commentary on Matthew 21:28-32

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Holy Week Sunday - Hosanna

Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey - Zech 9:9
As the crowds surround this radical rabbi Jesus, waving palm branches, shouting Hosannas, proclaiming this to be the hour their messiah, their deliverer, begins his conquest against the occupation of Rome's empire, he sits on a donkey. Other kings entering the capital city to launch a coup against a great military power would enter riding on the majesty of a Horse, but this king, he is not like the others, so the revolution begins on a donkey's foal.

He rides through the streets of the city to the gate of the temple. It is the time for a national festival, and the merchants and vendors have set up shop to sell their wares to the pilgrims here to celebrate the Passover, this year in Jerusalem. Scholars tell us the market place was in the court of the Gentiles. The outer most court of the temple, a place God has ordained as a location where race, creed, and gender do not hinder - a place where all can come and worship God. Those accompanying him in the parade expect him to cross through this outer court, to proceed immediately into the inner courts where the men of Israel are gathered. The revolutionaries gathered around him, expect him to muster an army. The chorus of Hosanna is a war chant.

Jesus however does not pass through. He does not proceed through to the court of men to gather his troops. Jesus stops, and offers the enigmatic words, "My house will be a house of prayer!" Jesus does not move through the rabble of merchants, women, Gentiles, children and outsiders. Jesus stops! Jesus looks at this court meant as sacred space for the entire world, and will not stand to have it marginalized into a public marketplace. In this space, in this abuse of God's temple Jesus goes postal.

As this street preacher who only moments before was the assumed Messiah begins to overturn table, free captive animals, drive out the merchants, and desolate the marktplace, the people scatter. It's an everyone for themselves free for all to get out. Soon the mayhem is over, and the outer court is a post riot disorder with only Jesus and those who could not do themselves to get out!

Jesus Stops, empties the place of his definition of the rabble till all that is left is the lame who could not run for themselves, the blind who could not see to make a break, and the children left abandoned in the mayhem. In this audience, the King who rides into the coup against the empire on a donkey's foal heals their lameness and heals their blindness as these little children chant the war cry of "Hosanna."

Hosanna, The empire will fall!

Holy Week Prayer - Lord God let me be in the place in where you are healing, the place where the children sing Hosanna.

Story Adapted From Matthew 21:1-17

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Not Better, Just Better Off

Hugh Hollowell from Loves Wins a ministry to the homeless in NC had this post a few days ago. I think it communicates a message that we all need to hear most effectively.

Why did I grow up in a house with parents who loved me, who passed on a work ethic and taught me how to dream, how to set goals, how to love? I had nothing to do with it – it just happened. I was in the right place at the right time.

Why did my friend Jimmy* grow up in a house where his mamma’s boyfriend beat him with a fan belt, where mom had to sell her body to survive after Daddy went to jail and where the only male role model in his life was the local pimp? He did not pick that life. He was in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

If you are going to work with broken people, the first thing you have to realize is that you are not better than the people you will be working with- you are not smarter, you are not more in God’s favor, you are not morally superior. You are not better, you are just better off.

How would your life have turned out if you had to steal food in order for your little sister to eat? If you had to go to school three days in a row in the same clothes? If you had to sit on the porch in the cold while your momma is ‘entertaining’ men for money so you can eat tonight? How would you have turned out if your momma had a crack addiction, or if the only time you saw your daddy was on visiting day at the prison, or if you were raped regularly from the ages of 7 to 16?

If you are going to work with broken people, you have to understand that there are all kind of reasons that people are broken, and it often has nothing to do with their salvation, or their walk with God, or their eternal destiny after their death or whether they said some prayer.

Some of you are resisting… Hugh, Do you mean that the relative wealth I enjoy (and if you live on more than $2.50 a day, you are wealthier than half of the planet) is not God’s gift to me, but luck, or circumstance or the result of my race and culture inheriting the wealth produced by enslaved people on stolen land? Yup. That is what I mean. You were born into the right place, at the right time.

You are not better – just better off.

Read more from his blog

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Chicago City Government Finds New Ways to Exploit The Poor

I really feel strongly that the people who sit in government office, lack a key skill for governing. It's called common sense. The alderman for the city of Chicago are being wood by Insurenet to use their existing network of surveillance and red light cameras to catch prey on uninsured motorist as a revenue stream.

I wanted to bring just a small pinch of common sense to counter the wild claims of millions of dollars in revenue being preached by Insurenet all for the small cost of their 30%. Insurenet projects Chicago earnings as much as $350 Million annually. Though the alderman all already misty eyed with the combined emotional surge that only greed and pork barrel spending can bring, I hope they might consider these realities.

1. People who drive unisured vehicles do so because they can not afford the insurance.
2. Many of these people once fined will lack the resources to pay their fines as demonstrated by their lack of resources to carry auto insurance.
3. In order to deal strictly and swiftly with those who feel that not paying the fine is their only financial recourse the city will have to incarcerate those parties that are unable to meet the camera levied fines.
4. Each incarcerated citizen will further cost the city money, rather than accomplishing the stated goal of raising revenue for the city.

(Dooms Day Scenario Following)

5. In the end the network will cost the city $200 million per year to pay Insurenet their expected 30% for identifying the unisured motorist and the remainder in the increase costs in the penal system to incarcerate basically law abiding citizens for their offense of being poor and marginalized.

This is the kind of justice that passes as "good government" in America today. Personally I am quite glad my citizenship is in another kingdom.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Sometimes we WAY over "churchize" what it means to just be Jesus in the world. This is not a commentary on anything other than that this cute little comedy reminded me that being Jesus on the earth, starts as small as a Smile.

Validation - TJ Thyne

Thanks to Erin for posting the video on her FB profile!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Did You Ever Know That You're My Hero

We all have people in our life who inspire us to keep moving forward. For no reason other than that I respect and admire these people, I decided to honor 5 of them today. My goal is to do this more regularly. That made it much easier to condense to my list to 5 people. The rules of this first round, is they must all live in Chicagoland area, and I must have at least marginally regular contact.

#1 - My Wife Christi
In addition to being the love of my life, she is my hero! I have never seen a person become so alive in a year. My first nine years of marriage, were always great because she is my best friend. They are a dim comparison to this last year. God has come alive and lives nearby to a person who always kept him so distant. That transformation inspires me to pursue looking more like the Jesus who is her first love. She really is my better half.

#2 - My Mentor Chuck Miller
I have a great father, and in another one of these post I will most certainly honor him. However next to my dad, no man has had a greater leadership role in my life than Chuck. Although I have sat through some of the most painful conversations of my life with him, as he exposed the darkness I attempt to keep well contained, each of these has left me stronger and wiser. I would never have matured into the man I am without his shepherding these many years.

#3 - My Co-Worker Dan Blume
One of my favorite places at work is over in the room where Dan works. He is a hero to me because he makes being nice to people look so easy. Dan always has an encouraging word for everyone. We have had some unlovable people work here over the years, and even they knew friendship and kindness from Dan. Dan is the living expression of indiscriminate love, and we could all use that modeled in front of us a lot more often.

#4 - My Friend Stephen Lamb
I like to talk a lot about the gospel for the least of these. I like to lecture, and soap box about what it means to live like Jesus. I can debate the best of you on the real meaning of taking up your cross daily. Stephen though lives it out. He is an intelligent, dynamic personality that could be working for about any church he wanted to, living any life he desired. Instead he works in an integrated church with an attendance just about 100, and he lives in a place where he stands out like a giant white q-tip. (He is Tall) Stephen doesn't talk about the least of these, he lives among them.

#5 My Friend Linnea Lang
Adversity is a word most people, myself included, cringe at. Linnea lives it every day. Though confined to a wheelchair, she towers above a crowd of people eeking out a life half lived. I am always inspired by the depth to which she seeks to be a part of God's work in the world. It would be easy to live a life of defeat while permanently seated in a chair, and yet she will have nothing of the sort. She is seeking to bring the Kingdom of God on earth as is it is in heaven, with the the best of them. I am reminded by her, that nothing separates from the redemptive work of Jesus in the earth.

So there it is! Round 1 - 5 Chicagoan people I am proud to call my heroes!