Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A poem from Seamus Heaney

Humans beings suffer.
They torture one another,
They get hurt and get hard.

History says, Don't hope
On this side of the grave,
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history can rhyme

So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge,
Believe that a father shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
And cures and healing wells.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Heaven and End Times

There are so many misconceptions, crooked theoliges, and wild fantasies about what heaven is, it is almost funny. I have come to see how important are understanding and perspective of these controversial issues are.

Here is some scripture that has given me more insight into what the future holds and where we are suppose to rest our hope.

Revelation 21
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

Right away there are some stark differences between what this passage says and most christian views on heaven and he end of times.

Heaven is coming here.

1 Corinthians 15
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

Philippians 3
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Key word transform -"he will change the present body into the one that corresponds in kind to his own as part of his work of bringing all things into subjection to himself.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Convicting Call to Action

1 John 3 17- 20.

If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.


One of my favorite scenes in a movie that I have found to be so relevant to matters of conflict and peace is from the Harrison Ford movieWitness. The premiss of the movie is that an Amish child has witnessed a murder and Harrison From is assigned to go under cover and live with the Amish and protect the child from the murders who are after the witness.

The Amish are peaceful and choose to avoid violence. They don't have any physical training in fighting and they do not keep firearms in their community. Some would call them pacifists. For whatever reason that title has been given a negative connotation: Pacifists let the world pass them by and are to scared and weak to stand up to any one imposing violence. (something like that).

At the climax of the movie the "bad guys" have broke into the Amish community while most of the men are out in the fields doing manual labor. The boy is captured by the antagonist but just after he was able to ring the bell and single the men back from the fields. The scene is that the bad guy has the gun to the boys head while Harrison and a few others are standing there trying to talk him out of killing him. As the men appear over the hillside they approach the scene without a word, without force, and with really nothing other than their presence. They merely stand and witness the scene unfolding. The antagonist realizes that there is no way out of the situation. He has so many people watching him that he will easily be convicted for anyone he kills in an attempt to escape. Reality also strikes him that he only has a few bullets left in his gun, not nearly enough to kill all the witnesses. He lays down his gun and allows him self to be arrested, their presence was the power that disarmed him and brought about justice.

Yesterday, I was walking through the neighborhood with Josh Kupkee (neighborhood resident and also an intern at Broadway) and also Jeffery Perkins (neighborhood resident and staff member). On our way heading back to the church after a stroll through the neighborhood we heard screaming and yelling from the street over. We nearly walked on but it didn't stop and it became clear that a women was being hurt by someone else. I would have probably continued on minding my own business but Josh immediately turned and began to walk towards where the noise was coming from. As we walked by the scene it dissolved. We didn't say a word or act physically towards them in anyway, we merely were witnesses to the violence and our presence was enough to stop it.

Now is the conflict over? Is the women in this situation free of the physical abuse she may have received?
Heck no, but I do know that she knows that somebody cares enough to walk by and we dissolved the situation that was violent.

I was also reassured that peace is not only possible it is effective and a moral choice that has ten times better chance resulting in peace than using violence to resolve a situation does.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

More Blogs

Here is a list of blogs that are participating in the blog circuit that I am taking part in. Take some time and check out these other bloggers.
Go here to experience all of he questions and answers:

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 Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Eternity-Here-Rediscovering-Ageless-Purpose/dp/1434768708/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1233609867&sr=1-4

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

Enjoy the reviews and the Q and A:


Out of Ur - http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2009/05/viola.html

Shapevine - www.Shapevine.com (June newsletter)

Brian Eberly - http://www.brianeberly.com

DashHouse.com - http://www.DashHouse.com/

Greg Boyd - http://www.gregboyd.org/blog/

Vision Advance - http://vision2advance.blogspot.com/

David Flowers - http://ddflowers.wordpress.com

Kingdom Grace - http://kingdomgrace.wordpress.com

Captain's Blog - http://www.captainestes.blogspot.com/

Christine Sine - http://godspace.wordpress.com

Darin Hufford - The Free Believers Network - www.freebelievers.com

Zoecarnate - http://zoecarnate.wordpress.com

Church Planting Novice - www.churchplantingnovice.wordpress.com

Staying Focused - http://kimmartinezstayingfocused.wordpress.com/

Take Your Vitamin Z - www.takeyourvitaminz.blogspot.com

Jeff Goins - http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org

Bunny Trails - http://bunny-trails.blogspot.com

Matt Cleaver - http://mattcleaver.com

Jason T. Berggren - http://blog.jasonberggren.com/

Simple Church - http://www.simplechurchjournal.com/

Emerging from Montana - http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/

Parable Life - http://www.theparablelife.blogspot.com

Oikos Australia - http://www.oikos.org.au/blog/

West Coast Witness - www.WestCoastWitness.com

Keith Giles - http://www.Keith.Giles.com

Consuming Worship -- http://www.consumingworship.org

Tasha Via - www.tashavia.blogspot.com

Andrew Courtright - www.andrewcourtright.blogspot.com

ShowMeTheMooneys! - http://www.showmethemooneys.com/

Leaving Salem, Blog of Ronnie McBrayer - http://leavingsalem.wordpress.com/

Jason Coker - pastoralia.missionaltribe.org

From Knowledge to Wisdom - http://isthistheway.typepad.com/

Home Brewed Christianity - http://www.homebrewedchristianity.com

Dispossessed - http://kblog.kevinjbowman.com

Dandelion Seeds - http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/Dandelionseeds

David Brodsky's Blog- "Flip the tape Deck" - http://flipthetapedeck.blogspot.com/

Chaordic Journey - http://jeffrhodes.wordpress.com

Renee Martin - http://www.reneemartinmusic.com/profiles/blog/list

Bob Kuhn - http://organicchurchnola.wordpress.com/

Living with Freaks: www.livingwithfreaks.com

Real Worship - http://therealworshipleader.com

Fervent Worship - http://ferventworship.blogspot.com

Julie Ferwerda Blog - www.JulieFerwerda.com / www.OneMillionArrows.com

What's With Christina?! - http://w2christina.blogspot.com

Irreligious Canuck - http://www.irreligiouscanuck.com

This day on the journey - http://guychmieleski.blogspot.com

Live and Move: Thoughts on Authentic Christianity - http://liveandmove.blogspot.com/

Spiritual Journey With God - http://www.elvineve.blogspot.com/

Dries Conje - http://www.echurch.co.za / http://www.thejesusfeed.com / http://www.bookdisciple.com.

Journey with Others - http://journeywithothers.blogspot.com

On Now to the Third Level - www.080808onnowto.blogspot.com

Christine Moers - www.welcometomybrain.net

Breaking Point - http://marybethstockdale.wordpress.com

Hand to the Plough - http://www.handtotheplough.com.au

Jon Reid - http://jonreid.blogs.com/oneanother/welcome-pilgrim.html

Weblight - www.blog.worldwidewebservices.se

D. L. Webster - http://gzmproductions.com/dlwebster

Searching for the Whole-Hearted Life - wholeheartedlife.blogspot.com

From Eternity to Here Part 2.

Recently I have been reading a pretty incredible book that outlines the breadth of God's story through out history highlighting the ultimate purpose of God and man. I encourage you to read it if you have trouble understanding the relationship between the bride and bridegroom. If you are a guy considering being with a women one day and maybe even a Father, these huge themes that scurry there way from Genesis to Revelation will be a wonderful place to start understanding your role.

Recently I got to ask the author of Eternity to Here, Frank Viola, some questions about his new book:

1. What is it about the way that the average Christian reads the Bible that we miss these paramount themes that run throughout from creation to revelation? How can we be more aware of these themes as we go about reading the Bible to experience God?

I think part of it that we approach the Bible in piecemeal. A book here, a verse there, a story here, a parable there, etc. We use the cut and paste approach to Bible study. In many cases, we don’t read it as a cohesive narrative. So we miss the big, sweeping epic that ties it all together.

As to your other question, once the grand narrative is brought out, you can’t help but see everything tied into it. It’s like those pictures that you stare at and then an image emerges that was once hidden. Once you spot the image, you can’t help but see it every time you look at the picture again.

God’s eternal purpose is a lot like that.

2. If you could challenge the church in just one way to change what would it be?

To actually make the Lord Jesus Christ the living, breathing, functional Head of the church and explore what that means practically and corporately. To learn what makes God’s heart throb. To discover what He’s really after above all else. That’s what the eternal purpose gives us.

3. What are some by products of viewing the church like you portray it in your book (a body of believers, a bride, a prostitute, etc) rather than church as a place to meet, where a preacher preaches and their are stain glass windows and pews?

Lol. I actually don’t call her a prostitute. She’s not. She’s holy and blameless. But in the fall, she became dirty and damaged. But Christ has taken care of that. And she’s pure again.

In God’s eyes, she’s pure and holy for she is in Christ and has been in Him before time. Once we see the church from the Divine viewpoint, it changes everything else. And it does touch how we see the church and one another.

I’ve made the statement that no church should exist except to stand for, express, and fulfill God’s eternal purpose. Any other reason is to miss the target. I stand by that statement.

Monday, June 8, 2009

From Eternity to Here

About mid way through the school year I began down a road of discovery. I have always been at odds with the Church. I was raised in a Catholic church and rebelled daily at the thought of having to sit through another boring puplit preformance with the stainglass window as the backdrop for the play. Even as a youngster I could see that the people who strolled into church on sunday mornings strolled out the same way they came, not to mention none of their lives reflected the message I was hearing. I can't remember meeting real Christian, (someone recklessly following the Jesus of the scriptures) until I was a freshmen in high school. More than anything the God I heard about in Catholic church never had any relevance to my life or the life I was witnessing all around me.

Maybe you remember the controversy with Catholic priests and malestation and other accustions of sexual activity. Well, when my mom and I began to recongnie the names of the accused and it eventually ended up being our pastor, we decided it was time to leave the Catholic Church.

I remeber people telling me about this vineyard church where people wore jeans, Bengals jerseys, and drank coffee at church. They even played the guitar and other contemporary methods of worship that were to say the least foreign in the context of having to do with God.

The first time I walked into the Vineyard church I wasnt really a Christian, I thought I was, but I had no idea what it really meant to give yourself to the creator. Even still, I remeber my stomach turning over and mind spinning in circles as I was overtaken by the massive stage, 3,000 people and the two stories of auditorium style seating. I had grown up growing to Broadway shows so when I sat down for the first time in this praticular theatre I was anticipating the overture and curtains opening to familiar characters like Elphaba or the Jets. Instead, the curtains symbolically opened and a cool, hip, intellegent, white guy, with sliver hair told me about this Jesus guy that came to preach good news to the poor, give freedom to the imprisones, sight to the blind, and relase the oppressed. Like I said even then, as a very young milk drinking follower I knew this was contradictory to the comfy seat I was sitting on, the incredible amount of light and sound equipment, and the multi million dollar performance hall that was erected in Jesus' name. I knew this is not how Jesus envisioned Church. It couldn't be; the scriptures and my experience of who Jesus was told me otherwise.

Fast forward to my Freshmen year of college. I began to attend a Church that was the best I had come across in my short 20 years in this body. It had all the aspects that I thought were important: the worship was great, the preacher spoke gospel truth, they were socially minded as well, and so on and so on. Yet, I noticed that hundreds poured into the church for the wrong reasons, myself included. We all came to get filled up. Filled up by the powerful preaching and moving worship. I have come to realize that church is not a place to come and get "filled up" so that you can make it through your week (If you are interested ask me personally to find out what I see it as). People were coming because of the pastor, not so much to experience Jesus. It was not a community, at least not for me, for many it is, but for the majority of people we came and we left. That is not how church was meant to be.

This semester I began to enlightened by a man named Frank Viola. He is controversial, dramatic, radical, humorous, and most of all is totally utterly in love with the creator and absolutely possessed with advancing the Church closer to how God dreams it should be and how the Bible actually tells us it should be. Since, I began this discovery I have lost friends, well thats dramatic, got in serious discussion and turned many heads over what I have been convicted to believe about the Church. I have not been able to attend Church much at all, the institution, the structure, and the hierarchy weigh so heavy on my heart that I know I would not be able to see past it.

Listen the Church can be a wonderful thing and it has and is being used by God to make his glory reality.

But listen, truly ask yourself if you are completely 100% satisfied with Church. I can't but ask myself constantly about the churches I were apart of: "Is this it? because if so then I want out."

Frank Viola and the three books I have read have helped me to completely reimagine Church and tap into the possibilities of living under the complete headship of Jesus.

He does not have all the answers, but I am convinced the spirit is working in him to bring back the Church of the first apostles and bring it closer to how God envisions the community of believers interacting.

I beg of you, if you are at all disenchanted with the church and find yourself asking "is this it?" look into Frank Viola and his literature.

Tomorrow, I will be posting responses to questions that I was fortunate enough to ask Frank Viola about his new book From Eternity to Here. So stay tuned and tell your friends.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Paul Hawken: Healing or Stealing?

Paul Hawken commencement speech to the University of Portland class of 2009
I was just going to pull a few quotes from this speech but I couldn't decide and ended up pulling a lot more than just a few quotes. Either way, if you read this, you wont be disappointed. Check out the speech in its entirety at the link at the bottom.

Millions of people are working on behalf of strangers, even if the evening news is usually about the death of strangers. This kindness of strangers has religious, even mythic origins, and very specific eighteenth-century roots. Abolitionists were the first people to create a national and global movement to defend the rights of those they did not know. Until that time, no group had filed a grievance except on behalf of itself. The founders of this movement were largely unknown — Granville Clark, Thomas Clarkson, Josiah Wedgwood — and their goal was ridiculous on the face of it: at that time three out of four people in the world were enslaved. Enslaving each other was what human beings had done for ages. And the abolitionist movement was greeted with incredulity. Conservative spokesmen ridiculed the abolitionists as liberals, progressives, do-gooders, meddlers, and activists. They were told they would ruin the economy and drive England into poverty. But for the first time in history a group of people organized themselves to help people they would never know, from whom they would never receive direct or indirect benefit. And today tens of millions of people do this every day. It is called the world of non-profits, civil society, schools, social entrepreneurship, non-governmental organizations, and companies who place social and environmental justice at the top of their strategic goals. The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled in history.

The living world is not “out there” somewhere, but in your heart. What do we know about life? In the words of biologist Janine Benyus, life creates the conditions that are conducive to life. I can think of no better motto for a future economy. We have tens of thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets. We are the only species on the planet without full employment. Brilliant. We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to destroy earth in real time rather than renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to bail out a bank but you can’t print life to bail out a planet. At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product. We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people and cause untold suffering. Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich.

The first living cell came into being nearly 40 million centuries ago, and its direct descendants are in all of our bloodstreams. Literally you are breathing molecules this very second that were inhaled by Moses, Mother Teresa, and Bono. We are vastly interconnected. Our fates are inseparable. We are here because the dream of every cell is to become two cells. And dreams come true. In each of you are one quadrillion cells, 90 percent of which are not human cells. Your body is a community, and without those other microorganisms you would perish in hours. Each human cell has 400 billion molecules conducting millions of processes between trillions of atoms. The total cellular activity in one human body is staggering: one septillion actions at any one moment, a one with twenty-four zeros after it. In a millisecond, our body has undergone ten times more processes than there are stars in the universe, which is exactly what Charles Darwin foretold when he said science would discover that each living creature was a “little universe, formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably minute and as numerous as the stars of heaven.”

So I have two questions for you all: First, can you feel your body? Stop for a moment. Feel your body. One septillion activities going on simultaneously, and your body does this so well you are free to ignore it, and wonder instead when this speech will end. You can feel it. It is called life. This is who you are. Second question: who is in charge of your body? Who is managing those molecules? Hopefully not a political party. Life is creating the conditions that are conducive to life inside you, just as in all of nature. Our innate nature is to create the conditions that are conducive to life. What I want you to imagine is that collectively humanity is evincing a deep innate wisdom in coming together to heal the wounds and insults of the past.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would create new religions overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead, the stars come out every night and we watch television.

This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened, not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand years. Each of us is as complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done great things and we have gone way off course in terms of honoring creation. You are graduating to the most amazing, stupefying challenge ever bequested to any generation. The generations before you failed. They didn’t stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn’t ask for a better boss. The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. Hope only makes sense when it doesn’t make sense to be hopeful. This is your century. Take it and run as if your life depends on it.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Strange Easter Story

The following are exerts from Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright. Wright comes to the conclusion that it is more historically accurate to believe that Jesus really did rise from the dead.

1. Jesus didn't really die; someone gave him a drug that made him look like dead, and he revived in the tomb. Answer: Roman soldiers knew how to kill people, and no disciple would have been fooled by a half-drugged, beat up Jesus into thinking he'd defeated death and inaugurated the kingdom.
2. When the women went to the tomb they met someone else (perhaps James, Jesus' brother, who looked like him), and in the half light they thought it was Jesus himself. Answer: they would have noticed soon enough.
3. Jesus only appeared to people who believed in him. Answer: the accounts make it clear that Thomas and Paul do not belong to this category; and actually none of Jesus's followers believed, after his death, that he really was the messiah, let alone that he was in any sense divine.
4. The accounts we have are biased. Answer: So is all history, all journalism. Every photo is taken by somebody from some angle.
5. Perhaps the most popular: what actually happened was that they had some kind of rich "spiritual" experience, which they interpreted through Jewish categories. Jesus after all really was alive, spiritually, and they were still in touch with him. Answer: that is simply a description of a noble death followed by a Platonic immorality. Resurrection was and is the defeat of death, not simply a nicer description of it; and it's something that happens some while after the moment of death immorality.
More historical information that points to the actuality of the resurrection.
1. Jewish tombs, especially those of martyrs, were venerated and often became shrines. There is no sign whatever of that having happened with Jesus' grave.
2. The early church's emphasis on the first day of the week as their special day is very hard to explain unless something striking really did happen then. A gradual or even sudden dawning of faith is hardly sufficient to explain it.
3. The disciples were hardly likely to go out and suffer and die for a belief that wasn't firmly anchored in fact.

In any other historical inquiry, the answer would be so obvious that it would hardly need saying. Here, of course, this obvious answer ("well it actually happened") is so shocking, so earth shattering, that we rightly pause before leaping into the unknown. And here indeed, as some skeptic friends have cheerfully pointed out to me, it is always possible for anyone to follow the argument so dar and to say simply, "I don't have a good explanation for what happened to cause the empty tomb and the appearances, but I choose to maintain my belief that dead people don't rise and therefore conclude that something else must have happened, even though we can't tell what it was." Thats fine; I respect that position, but I simply note that it is indeed then a matter of choice, not a matter of saying that something called scientific historiography forces us to that route.