Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Jesus Manifesto Post

Hey everyone, I have a new post about church fundraising up on The Jesus Manifesto.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


It's been a busy couple of weeks, so I'll just bullet point a few life updates...

  • We had a great Thanksgiving weekend. We drove from Minnesota to visit my wife's grandparents in Indiana. It was a little scary because the last time we went there for Thanksgiving (4 years ago) we brought the flu with us and infected a 5 state area. Apparently the high-dose vitamins and supplements saved us this time.
  • Church has been going pretty well. There are so many fun stories of people exploring faith and finding hope and healing. Just to give a sense of what our church is like, we had seven people take our membership class last week. At the end of the class, one person worked through the statement of faith that everyone has to agree to and made some edits. Every time "Jesus" appeared, he replaced it with "God" and every time "the Holy Spirit" appeared, he replaced it with "a Holy Spirit". He told me that he understood if that wasn't acceptable but that was where he was at that point. I told him that we could bend on a lot of things but that Jesus was something that we probably couldn't flex on. He was totally fine with that and will certainly keep hanging out with us and growing, but for now he doesn't get to be a "member", whatever that means.
  • I've decided again that I really don't like fundraising. It consumes my thoughts and my conversations. I'd much rather sit still and let God provide for us, but I also know that he wants us to do our part. I just wish we had our building and could be done with asking people for money. It's very distracting. But it's also very encouraging to see the little miracles as money comes in from surprising and amazing sources. In the end, we'll be so ecstatic and will be able to praise God for the amazing ways that he has provided, but for now, I'm pretty bogged down.
  • I'm trying to finish my Christmas presents for my family. I can't really tell you what they are because they might actually read this, but I can tell you it's taking a lot of time and will be pretty cool when it's finished (hopefully in a week or so...hopefully...)
  • We went to a great church on Sunday. If you're not familiar with Dave Fitch, you need to read his book The Great Giveaway. Anyway, his church is a small evangelical emergent liturgical church called Life on the Vine. It was great to meet Dave again, to meet my blogging friend Geoff Holsclaw who also contributes to The Jesus Manifesto, and simply to enter into a community without being in charge of anything. The people were incredibly warm and welcoming and we very much enjoyed our time worshiping with them.
Good enough for now...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Jesus Manifesto Post

Hey everyone,
I have a new post up at the Jesus Manifesto...

Friday, November 09, 2007


1 Corinthians 13:3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
I've been thinking about love this morning and this verse came up a few times in various contexts, which usually means that God is trying to get my attention about something. Our church has focused our ministry to a large extent on the poor in our community. I've appreciated that so many people at The River go well beyond just giving to the poor and actually embrace them into their lives. Over the past year, five or six families from our church have had extra people living in their homes with them.

But I wonder...what does it really mean to love people? Paul fleshes it out a little bit in 1 Cor.'s patient and kind, not self-serving, doesn't boast, keeps no records of wrong, etc. But what does love look like when it is enfleshed in a community? How do we love cultivate a climate of love within a church? So often our churches are perceived as judgmental and mean. How do we change that perception and become churches that are known for their capacity to love?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

When God Speaks

I have been kind of frustrated the last few days. I've been feeling pretty overwhelmed with our fundraising project...attempting to raise $700,000 is a ridiculously ostentatious task. But it's at times when I'm feeling the most frustrated that God often speaks into the tension with his calming presence.

I was praying and reading the Daily Office from the Northumbria Community, which I regularly do. This morning's reading included the following reflection:

For whoever believes
in the power
of the blood of Jesus,
nothing is impossible!

The Lord shall surely
perfect that thing,
that thing
which concerneth thee.

To whoever believes
in the power
of the blood
of the Crucified Lamb,
nothing shall be called impossible!

Blessed be the Lamb
that was slain before
the foundation of the world.

The Lord shall certainly perfect that thing which concerneth thee. Nothing is impossible for those who believe. God reaffirmed for me that we're on the right path, that we're following where he's leading, and that he will provide when the time is right.

Friday, November 02, 2007


No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.
~ 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT)

Why does it feel like 'the things that God has prepared for those who love him' are usually things that I wish he hadn't prepared? Why does it feel like, when things are going well and good things are happening, that the other shoe is bound to drop soon? I was talking to a friend this morning who has had a fantastic week...which is terrifying because that usually means that crap is on the horizon.

Now, I'm not saying that God is up in heaven somewhere manipulating the world to bring difficult situations into our lives because somehow we're going to be better off for it. But it seems so often that the things God has prepared for us never quite happen the way we'd like.

This is odd because the next part of 1 Cor. 2 tells us that we can know the things God has prepared for us because he has given us his spirit. Because of this, we can know the mind and the heart of God and can have the mind of Christ.

This is such an incredible gift. God has given us his spirit so that we can know his mind, so that we can know his thoughts, so that we can understand what he is thinking and doing. It shouldn't be a mystery. In fact, I think God is probably speaking to us far more often than we're aware of. But we so rarely listen that I think we miss it.

At Christ Zombies last Monday, we were talking about the Holy Spirit and prayer and listening to God. At the end of our time together, I sent the kids out to wander around the parking lot for 10 minutes simply listening to what God had to say to them. This was well out of their comfort zones since most of them wouldn't even profess to be Christians at this point. When we gathered back together to talk about it, there was a profound sense (for at least some of the kids) that they had been in the presence of God. One guy, who was attending for the first time, shared that he heard God inviting him to pray more and spend more time with him. This kid had not had anything to do with God, church, etc. for ten years, yet here in this quiet space, God was drawing and beckoning him to Himself.

What if we spent more time just listening? What if I spent more time just listening? Would the confusion and frustrations about the way life unfolds become a little less murky? Would I have a better grasp on what God is doing in the world and in my life? Would I be able to recognize when the difficult things I face are just things to deal with and when they are attacks of the evil one?

I'm going to shut up now and listen instead...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Paste Magazine

My brother tipped me off to the deal that Paste Magazine is currently running...Much like Radiohead, you can name your own purchase price!! The cool thing about Paste is that you get a sampler CD with every issue that usually has some pretty good stuff on it. It's definitely worth $1!