Sunday, June 29, 2008

jesus, make us right

God –

I accept responsibility for all I’ve done wrong.
I refuse to abandon my guilt, my will, and my liability for my own sin.

I refuse to pawn those sins off because I feel like a victim.

I want to make things right
With you
With those I’ve harmed
With the world
And with myself
But I need your help to do so.

Give me the presence of your peace
To walk the long road of reconciliation.

Make me bold enough to face my accusers and set things right.

Make me soft enough to repent when I’ve indulged
And firm enough to hold others accountable when they have wronged me
And gracious enough to forgive them as you have forgiven me.

I know your grace allows me to enter Heavenly rest in the next life,
But I also ask for your grace to assist me in cultivating rest in this one
For myself and for those who’ve been affected by me.

I once was an agent of harm.
Please make me an agent of reconciliation
In you.



prior to the 4 days i spent with my extended family this past may, it had been almost 22 months since i'd taken any vacation.

actually, that's not entirely true. i did take 4 days during those 22 months, but i also came into work on each of those days to help trouble-shoot/problem solve various things i should've just ignored.

anyway, i get 4 weeks + 10 weekends + 10 personal days per year which is an excellent vacation package by any standard.

if, that is, you make use of it...which i will very soon.

this past winter we had some new faces on our elder team and that created a lot of really positive movement there. the team was always good, but this change came at a good time and has acted as a catalyst for a few things - one of those being the elders' insistence that jvo and i actually use our vacation time this year (and that we carry over an additional week from last year and take it as well).

so, ever the one to submit to my peers, i'm off on vacation beginning tomorrow.

5 weeks of vacation, to be exact.

i'm leaving my blackberry here.

i'm leaving my mac here.

i won't be checking email.

i won't be blogging.

i won't be twittering.

i will only read magazines, not theology texts or rabbinical commentaries

i will only watch fun movies, not vodcasts of great teaching.

i will play with my kids

i will laugh with my wife

i will nap in church after arriving late.

it's gonna be good

Monday, June 23, 2008

wisdom from my friend glen


As a missionary and as a teacher working with Filipino missionaries I have spent a lot of time thinking about motives for missions.

While thinking about the "invite" value that we have pushed at WW for a long time and our current need to grow I believe this is a good conversation.

When I step back and try to look at the big picture the conclusion I come to is: The most important reason to introduce someone to Jesus Christ is to satisfy God's desire. Because He is the Creator, His desires are far more significant than our needs. We love Him, and bringing Him pleasure is the greatest good we can do.

While I believe this is true I don't believe that it would be valuable to try to make the point to someone who has no relationship to the Lord. They would have no basis to value His desire. Until a person is "in Christ" the notion that God is seeking a relationship is an inviting sentiment but not a compelling motivation.

We make the appeal of the gospel based on self interest. Improvement of our life situation, rescue from eternal condemnation, personal peace, peace with God, restoration of interpersonal or family relationships are some of the appeals that I have heard. I think the scripture demonstrates and authorizes some of these. We select the appeal based on cultural and personal considerations.

I have seen Christians motivated to share Christ by guilt and shame, compassion on the lost, and personal ambition. Phil. 1:18 indicates that Paul was not too disturbed by bad motives but more concerned with "Christ being preached". However in this over-marketed consumer culture, North Americans are sensitive and suspicious of the motives behind the message. Therefore we need to be sensitive to how we encourage folks to share and reach out. My suspicion is that sincere love for God and sincere love for people will eventually be the only thing that is effective.

It has been a good week thinking about these things. I hope it is can be of some value to you. It is a privilege to set under your teaching. I appreciate not only the skill of your presentation but also the maturity and wisdom in what you have selected to teach.

Because HE lives,


Friday, June 20, 2008

Jesus, make me clean

God –

I feel dirty
And used
And infected by the filth of this life,
My experiences in it,
And the awful choices I’ve made.

Make me clean.

Wash me,
Cleanse me,
Make me pure
Like snow,
Like light,
Like gladness.

I ask for your Spirit to come and sterilize this infection.
I want to be unpolluted.

Please take away everything that is making me dirty
And replace it with everything I need to feel clean.

Replace the lies with lye
And the dirt with worth

As I give myself wholly to you.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

leadership in landscapes

i've been thinking that so much of good leadership is about leading through landscapes.

for example, if we all find ourselves in the middle of the ocean, boatless, then the job of the leader is simply to keep us afloat until our circumstances change.

if we all find ourselves in the desert, then the job of the leader is to find water so we can be refreshed.

if we all find ourselves in the middle of a war, then the job of the leader is to keep us safe, bind our wounds, bury our dead, and exhaustively deplete our enemies.

in the jungle, attacked and picked off, find us a way forward

in the mountains, cold and exposed, find us shelter and fire

in the fog, keep us together

more could be said about each of these, but i thought a little 'thought grenade' (as per jvo) would be useful here because i think we've been through all of these landscapes at ww at least twice in my 3 yr stint here.

of course, we could probably never get anyone to agree on what landscape we're in currently (or, for that matter, at any previous point either), but i think we're probably hacking our way through the jungle right now.

hence our small group push.

we've had "issues" with the typical church mentality regarding small groups. in fact, i'm quite proud of the way our staff and elders have thought through some of those issues and identified some major value-adds in the process (honestly, you couldn't imagine better people on the planet for re-thinking ministry than randy and jvo...especially in this area); but, after having no clear way forward for some time, we now find ourselves in midst of a dense jungle - a big, overgrown mess if you will - and it's time for us to clear a path. in this case, the path looks a lot more like small groups than i'd have previously been comfortable with.

but i'm glad we're doing this.

there are many other ways to disciple christ-followers (and we've tried and experimented with many, many of those ways) but our emphasis this fall is to push groups for all the normal reasons (people make connections, people grow together, people support one another).

this will create some stability, a clear way forwards for discipleship, and will allow us to continue using causemology as a kind of missional catalyst, so that we don't become sucky and insular again.

anyway...landscapes...think on it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

jesus, bring us together

God –

My relationships are not the way I want them to be,
And are even less the way I think you want them to be.

I have too much resentment,
Too much pride,
And am holding too many things against too many people.

Please help me to love others
In the same way you have loved me
And loved them;
With the same grace and perspective
On both their failings and their worth.

Forgive me for elevating myself above them.
Forgive me for allowing myself to be distant from them,
And for thinking that such distance is somehow justified.

Teach me to be hospitable
And welcoming into my own little life
Even as you welcome us all into life in your true kingdom.


Sunday, June 8, 2008

echurch - for church junkies

some of my friends in south africa have asked me to be a contributor to their new site -

it's a place for resources on being missional, relational, and incarnational...and they're looking for other contributors as well.

if you're curious, or if you think you've got a piece to offer, then click on this blog title and it will take you there.


Friday, June 6, 2008

"images", pt.2

jesus makes us clean

the cross of consecration (as this particular cross is known) was first used by the carolingian empire as a sign of the purifying blood of jesus.

anytime i see a cross other than the (typical, protestant) roman cross i get excited...hence, we used this one

jesus makes us right

this is a cross made of several triquetas and a circle. it is a symbol made of several other symbols, demonstrating that we are made right with god, with one another, with the church, and with the world around us.

jesus brings us together

this is an icon of the vine and the branches. it was used to show that we find our commonality in jesus christ.

jesus makes us whole

this is a triqueta, an ancient symbol of the trinity. the pattern of the triqueta has often thought to be the "map" of steps for a dance of celebration. the dance, like the trinity, depends on mutuality and interdependence.

the "images" from images of atonement, pt.1

we're using some classical christian icons during this series in fusion to shore up our theology on the atonement. because we've left the icons un-examined during fusion i thought i'd explain them, quickly, here:

jesus makes us free

this image shows the eagle (a symbol of kingship) defeating the serpent (a symbol of evil)

early christians used this symbol as a reminder that the power of evil had been defeated

jesus restores our honor

this is a cross-anchor, used by early christians in the catacombs as a reminder to one another to stay-fixed to christ

it came into use after st.clement was tied to an anchor and thrown overboard for his refusal to renounce his christian convictions.

i like to think it was the early church's way of defiantly saying "what are you gonna do, kill us?"

jesus makes us new

this is the phoenix, a mythical bird that was said to be made of fire. eventually the phoenix burned itself out and fell into a heap of ashes in the desert. the same phoenix was reborn from the ashes of its former self and lived a new life.

this was the earliest symbol of the resurrection of jesus christ...and i love that it is "mythological."

jesus gives us purpose

the circle was a symbol of the unbroken wholeness of god.

this symbol represents the church as an unbroken circle orbiting the unbroken circle of god.

our purpose is to enter, maintain, and welcome others into the unbroken wholeness of god and his church

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

things that suck...being plagarized

one of the inherent dangers of blogging your thoughts is the risk of another person taking credit for your ideas.

this has happened to me several times and it feels bad

it feels even worse when they make money off of your ideas

...there are people making money off of my ideas right now, and it stings.

to be honest, i feel really petty even acknowledging this. any thoughts i've had other (smarter, cooler, brighter) people have had before me (you know, we all stand on the shoulders of giants); but the ways i've chosen to articulate those things and contextualize them in our world feel like "my" work.

which, btw, i don't profit from at all (other than my base salary from ww).

and i'm not even really concerned that i personally profit from this stuff...i think through this stuff because i love it, and i feel honored that jesus has permitted me to see things in a certain light, and i believe strongly in the potential for transformation resulting from this stuff

...but it feels really, really dirty for someone else to be making money off of my ideas.

seeing as how "they" seem to be getting "my" ideas off of my blog (and possibly from the ww podcast) i thought i'd just let them know that the next idea they should borrow is "character."

do your own thinking, please; or, at least, acknowledge that phrases like "curious and disenfranchised", "shadowing god in the world", "theologian-bricoleur", "stormborn", etc... all come from the same blog.

i feel better. it will make no difference, but i feel better.

flame off.

God, give me back my honor

God –

I am so ashamed of myself.
I feel like an embarrassment to everyone around me,
Even you.

It feels impossible to look anyone in the eye
And when I stand in front of the mirror my head weighs a thousand pounds.

But I take heart in the knowledge that you, too, were shamed.

You were humiliated by the peers of power
And they branded you with the iron of suffering.

Yet - you didn’t deserve it
And they were exposed by you
As liars and frauds.

You triumphed over the ones who controlled you
And shamed you
And, in doing so,
You shamed them back.

You made them ashamed of the way they shamed you
And their pride was exhausted by your humility.

I do not feel humble now,
But I do feel low.

Please raise me up
And teach me humility from a place of confidence
In you.

Please help me hold my head up high
And look my own peers in the face
With the knowledge that I cannot be shamed any longer
Because you have depleted the power of shame.


Jesus, make me whole

God –

At times I have made too much of myself –
Arrogantly reaching beyond my station and defying you –
And, at time, I have made too little of myself –
Allowing self-pity and victimization to diminish your image in me.

Please forgive me.

Help me to be content
As merely a human being,
Created in your image and likeness
Destined and designed to shadow you in this world.

Make me whole.

Help me to find my true self in you
Even as you continue to grow inside of me,
And are birthed in me,
And are represented through me to the world.

Please put me back together again -
In the way you first made me -
And let me experience the pleasure
Of wholeness in you.