Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Novel Approach.

Lately it has become exceedingly apparent that most people think that Christians are bland, unoriginal and boring because we follow a God who has rules. He has these because He created everything and therefore understands how things work. So because of that fact He can makes all the rules He wants. Now He does this for our own benefit, and most of the time we don't see this because we are not God, but "clearly" as my friend Marlene would say they are for such a reason. Moving on, the general consensus is that being a christian is lame because you are bound by these regulations and therefore become stuffy, rigid and obstinate to the world that is breaking the very rules you are trying to follow. But Paul paints a very different picture in Galatians Chapter 5. He states to a people that oddly wanted more rules in order to be a christian( i.e. circumcision, food regulations, etc.), that It is for the very fact of freedom that Christ has set us free. This is the freedom to be unique without being sinful(I believe the Christianese word is holy) by not doing the things everybody else is doing. That is what it means to to be uncommon, individualistic and unique. This striving to be different from everybody else is only accomplished when you stop trying to be different from people and start trying to be like Jesus. You see Christ was the original avant-garde. He was so radically different from everybody else, including the religious leaders of the day that eventually they got so sick of trying to one-up him that they just decided to do away with Jesus by crucifying him among two other different(but in a vastly contrasting way)people. So, may this be a warning to all of you, being an individual is dangerous. Although you probably have nothing to worry about if you are just trying to be different from people. You are human and can never get away from that, so in effect you will always be like other people. But in the journey of becoming like Christ, you will always face opposition because that is when you truly stand apart from the crowd because sin is not different, Holiness is.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


In the wake of grief and breakdown, something beautiful can happen. I say it can happen, because in my previous downtrodden times I have yet to experience the grace and unequivocal acceptance as I have experienced in what we as Jesus' disciples call "the body of Christ" in these last two days. Its liken to a ship that has so many functions to remain afloat in a storm that they cant possibly be handled by one person, so the whole crew works fluidly together to stay on course. This body that I call my family has literally picked my sinking ship out of the ocean of despair and placed me in the harbor of safety.

When asked about this body, "what can the church offer that the rest of humanity cannot?",I answer only one thing. You think there would be many things, but it seems that after a hard look at this question I only see only one gleaming answer. The church can offer a safe place to fail. When the world demands perfection or at the very least a strong will and strong perseverance, the Body can offer a place for those weak and imperfect souls who long for acceptance and the support they need. For those who consider themselves self-assertive, tenacious and strong towers for others, you will someday find that as I did, your breaking point is much closer than you ever thought. luckily, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."(@ Corinthians 12:9)

Reality is a funny thing. The lengths and ends we go to in order to avoid or create our own always seems to amaze me, and when God decides we are living too arrogantly or too proud of our strength, He is never hesitant to take us down a notch. It is only then that you realize the most humbling situation you can experience is a change in your reality.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A realistic map.

A few months ago i was in Portland and was staying with some newly acquired friends there and In their living room there was a fairly large map of the world.  The first time i noticed i almost just shrugged it off, but then realized this was a very unique map.    
Now, most maps have half of the Pacific Ocean on the left followed by the United States in the center and Europe, Africa and Asia finishing it off on the right.  But this map was different.  It was as if someone took the normal map described above and flipped it around so its was in essence backwards.  This perfectly odd map started with the Atlantic Ocean on the left and proceeded with Asia, Africa and Europe in the middle and the lonely U.S. in the corner.  So, for the first time in my life i saw the world in a whole new light.  We were not the center of the world.  Literally.  Maybe this is the reason that we are such a country of hearers, not doers.  This place reeks of stagnation.  We sit around and think that the rest of the world has their problems and they should have to deal with them on their own.  Little do we know that Christians in the U.S. are still practicing "isolationism" while the rest of the world is engaging in world affairs.  For once we can learn something from the "secular" world. Sometimes they  engage culture better than we do, and we have the answers to the questions they are asking.  

What i am getting at is that we as the blessed should focus our blessing onto a world that is hurting, lonely and dying.  One amazing organization striving to do this is the Jubilee movement.  This organization works toward debt relief and poverty reduction in third world countries in many ways but one big way is they have introduced a resolution (HR 2634) into Congress this summer and are trying to introduce it into the Senate in November the will effectively cancel debt for 63 third world countries that are literally starving to pay their debt to the U.S.  Most of these countries are spending more on debt relief than on clean water, education, infrastructure and health care combined.  We have the chance to make a difference for literally millions of people worldwide, all we have to do is rearrange our maps and take a different look at our world.

get involved.

The Jubilee Movement

Monday, October 1, 2007

The etymolgy of a title.

Christian. A term so dear to some and yet almost repulsive to others. Why is that? I have been noticing myself and others who are in tune with the world around us that we tend to shy away from this title more often then not. I was listening to a radio DJ, one who did not follow Christ Interview Donald Miller and the first thing He asked Don was " Hey, so I hear you are a christian and you and some others ore doing some christian stuff up at Reed college." Don repiled quite frankly but eloquently" I don't really like that term christian, but if you want to talk about Jesus, we can talk about Jesus." He sees that the term christian hasnt had a very good run in the last ohh....thousand or so years. But this term didnt always make people cringe, Jesus freak or otherwise. The first time the the title was given it was in the most positive way.

Acts 11:26
"...The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch."

Now the Bible tells us that when the Church at Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch that "he was evidence of the grace of God" and that when they heard of an empending famine they prepared by sharing all they had so no one would be severly affected. Other parts of Acts say that the disciples were respected and well liked in many areas by all kinds of peoples. The ones that were not in the fold of Jesus' teaching saw those who followed Christ as good, loving and compassionate people. Nowadays you say the word christian and people think of pushy judgemental hypocrites. well, i guess we kinda went the other way with that.

Now lets take a look at this term Christian. In the Greek it is the term Χριστιανός , or Christianos. I dont have spend on lenghthy exegesis because we all know what it means. Follower of Christ. But, it is just a word, rhymes with fishin' and mission. Jesus didnt say we will be known by a word, he said we will be known by something else.

John 13:34-35
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Jesus did not say we we would be known by how much we tithe or how verbose our prayers are or how many bible studies we attend, he said we will be known by the way we treat the people around us. Boy, everytime I seem to think I get this whole following Jesus thing down, I come back to the gospels and they just devestate me in the most beautiful way possible.

So, We are obviously not worthy for this title, to put Christ in our name, but God has believed in us by calling us ambassadors for His Son. He believes in this age just as much as he believed in his first disciples. We need to start living up to our name and starting acting like Jesus, not just talking about Him. Lets bring ths term Christian from borderline embarrasing to something that invokes hope in a world that so desperately needs it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"Just Friends"

So, if you're a guy, (which i am of of the persuasion) then you probably know all too well the phrase "just friends." There is even a movie bearing that same title. Well, I know that i have heard my share of those bittersweet words flowing so fluently out of an unrequited potential partner, many as it were. The sting of hearing a not so mutually shared feeling can be detrimental to ones self-esteem and absolutely heart-wrenching to ones ummm....welll......HEART. I personally know that feeling and would never want anyone to feel the ache of it all, especially not someone i care about.

But then i come to the realization that I too say this quite often, maybe not in so many words but i do say it. In fact the one I say this to is the one i say i care abot the most.

I tell Jesus that I want to be just friends.

You see, when i am not serious about my relationship with my saviour I am essentially telling him that I don't want to be completely in love with him. I tell him that i want a casual relationship with him. I want to be "Just friends." I am telling him that what he is offering is just not as appealing as the life that my own self and the world around can offer. I like what he can give me in a friendship but I am not willing to sacrifice anything to be in an intimate relationship with him, because that's what love is. Sacrifice. Jesus told us that love in its most pure form is laying down our lives for one another. My plans, my time, my money, my things, my lives. They are a speck in the lens of eternity. And yet we consistantly tell him, that friendship is all we are looking for when what we really want is love. Dangerous, unrelenting, undeniable love, but it comes at compromise. We must break up with the world that we are so infatuated with and fall in love with a saviour that knows us by name, knows every detail of our misguided lives and still calls us his own.

Jesus is spilling his heart out to you. What will your response be?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Living the Truth+Loving the World=Confusing

Proverbs 3:3
"Let not mercy and truth forsake you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart"

As followers of Christ we live in very torn world. We exist in this broken society where self is glorified, and yet we are called to deny self and live for a bigger, better reality where Christ is the center. We have to live knowing "the Truth" and live accordingly and yet love "the world.".
You know, I always used to read proverbs and think "they should probably rename this book broken record. Yah yah, do what is right, don't do what is wrong, blah, blah, blah"( yah, its ok, i'm forgiven) But this one proverb has really shaped my life in the past couple months.

Let not mercy and truth NEVER leave you.

these are two critically important and unwavering themes of the Christian life. Mercy and truth. Yet, they are very different and sometimes difficult ideas to grasp together and practice parallelly. Of course they spur on one another once we choose to embrace these radical ideas. Mercy will lead us into truth and the truth will spur us onto mercy. But living in congruence with both has proved quite arduous.

The problem lies in the way we live this out around the people around us. You see, when you are around a group of people who have not been introduced to Jesus, it would be most advantageous for us and Jesus' kingdom to let them experience both, but we need to have more mercy to make our relationship with God seem appealing, because honestly, the truth can be a little hard to swallow sometimes. On the other end of things when we are in our Jesuscentric circles we need to have more truth in order to keep ourselves disciplined. I think the Christianese term is "rebuke." So, I'm guessing that overall its about discernment and keeping in step with the Spirit. We all should be watching our Holy Spirit meter to see where we should dispense mercy and truth and what the concoction of each wil look like.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Counter Culture Vs. Sub-Culture

So, for the last two years or so, something has been be perfectly frank, pissing me off about Christians and Christianity. I could not put my finger on it, but i could plainly see instances where said grievances were taking place.

Well, last week after conversing with my friend Greg while he was delivering Pizza I had a small epiphany of sorts.

[Start Transmission from 123.21.453.21.1]

coun·ter·cul·ture [koun-ter-kuhl-cher]
the culture and lifestyle of those people, esp. among the young, who reject or oppose the dominant values and behavior of society.

[End Transmission]

So, as followers of Jesus we are supposed to be different.(Romans 12:1-2) Jesus outlines practical ways to live this out in His famous Sermon On The Mount. He explains to those unknown onlookers that day that the way we are supoosed to interact with the rest of the world is to do the opposite of what your natural instincts tells you to do and what the world tells us we are entitled to do.

We are called to give up our rights to serve and love those around us.

Problem 1.

It's Hard.

Half-ass solution to Problem 1.

[Start Transmission from 121.54.656.43.2]

sub·cul·ture (sŭb'kŭl'chər)
A cultural subgroup differentiated by status, ethnic background, residence, religion, or other factors that functionally unify the group and act collectively on each member.

[End Transmission]

So, instead of living counter culturally we haved demeaned ourselves by creating our own sub-culture. We now live in this safe and sanitary enviroment where we can live away from the corrupt world and feel good about it. This proverbial bubble that we have created for ourselves is warm and fuzzy and safe, but it is not condusive to Kingdom or missional living. See, we have our own Christian music, clothes, lingo, even theme parks. But would anyone not under this umbrella we have go out and purchase these things? take Christian music for example. A few months ago i was having a conversation with a few friends that were on tour and were staying at my house after a show here and one of them brought up the point that having a whole genre of music dubbed as christian is very confusing. What does christian music sound like? now, obviously there is Praise/Worship music because it has a certain sound and quality that makes it unique. But, as above said friend stated, " the only reason to label yourself as a christian musician or band is to make money, because you are marketing yourself to a certain type of people." anf then he so eloqeuntly staed "If we are to be the light of the world then we should be letting our light shine to everyone, putting ourselves out there so others that have not been introduced to Jesus can see a glimpse of the amazing God we worship."

So, here in lies the problem, we have segregated ourselves from our own culture and created a dangerous Us vs. Them mentality while all the while trying to grab people from the outside and pull them in to our bubble. Eric Bryant writes in his book Peppermint Filled PInatas,

" The world too often sees the invitation to connect to the church as irrelevant or at best a cumbersome process. People have to learn our religious language, sing our songs, and discuss our topics. For those who make the effort to connect with us, we reward them with rules, traditions, and conditional acceptance, yet Jesus offered grace, forgiveness and love. Rather than religion, Jesus offers relationship. As part of the body called the church, we need to strive to eliminate barriers that keep others from connecting with our community and connecting with Jesus."

I think that Jesus' idea of life is good enough to stand on its own, we dont need to give it a spa treatment, dress it up in a pretty outfit and sell it at the lowest price. We just need to live in the way Jesus described and the condition of the heart will begin to change and then people WILL notice. Grace is irresistable, but only if it is lived out. not just talked about.

.....bearing upon or connected with the matter in hand; pertinent; apposite

I have been thinking lately about how to relate to the world around me and the term relevance keeps beeing thrown around, especially in Jesus centered circles. its everywhere, you hear at evangelism seminars, marketing meeting, theres even a magazine called RELEVANT. but looking back at what Jesus says about this world and His kingdom is this thought.

"Relevance is a consequence of kingdom living, not a cause"
-Rick Mckinley

I know that many of my friends are interested in Jesus but can't grasp going to a stuffy, judgemental church enviroment. But if we understand what His Kingdom is about and use that as the measuring stick of our lives then we don't have to worry about being relevant. Jesus is smart like that. If we stop building our lives around church culture and start living around Jesus cluture than maybe we can bring the gospel to the culture instead of trying to bring the culture to church.

i don't know maybe dreams can come true.

sorry, how gauche of me.....

i think he was a universalist... this doesnt make any sense. how can all paths lead to anything? That's like saying that I-5 and I-80 will both take you to Seattle.

how to reach out without selling out.

1) wait... i have no idea what i'm talkng about.