Saturday, November 10, 2007

This Site Has Moved

to Kingdom Grace
(Just click on the words Kingdom Grace. They are linked to the new blog.)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Looking for Advice and Opinions

When Julie first discussed the possibility of switching to wordpress, I decided to check into it also. The easiest way to explore having a blog there was to actually set one up.

Blogger can handle most anything that I want to do on a blog, so I can't really explain why I would move except that I'm just ready for a change. In fact, the things that I can do fairly adeptly with blogger I have trouble accomplishing at wordpress. But hey, learning is good, right?

I set up a wordpress-hosted blog, which is my preference. So far, I have the theme and design arranged in a way that I like. One of my favorite features is the ability to have pages. But I haven't decided yet if I should pull the trigger and make the switch.

Here are the questions that you can help me with:

1. What are the things that will potentially frustrate me working with wordpress in comparison to blogger?

2. Should I make a clean break and a fresh start, or should I import everything from this blog to the new one?

3. Do I have anything else to say? Should I continue to write simply as a person trying to make sense of this journey? What can my voice contribute to the conversation?

4. Somewhat related to the first question, what are the limitations of wordpress that I might encounter?

5. Any style, design advice, opinions, favorite features, etc?

I'm all ears!

Monday, November 05, 2007

WWJS - to me?

Signs of my lack of athletic prowess were evident fairly early in life. I remember being taught to ride bicycle at the ripe age of 8 6. It seems there were quite a few people willing to run alongside me in hopes that I would eventually ride independently.

Now that I think of it, people seemed worried. I'm glad that I didn't realize at the time that I wasn't measuring up. What I do remember is the day when it seemed that all of the practicing finally paid off.

Finally I was coasting across the yard solo! Exuberant with joy, I turned to wave at my parents, who I knew would be proudly watching, only to see looks of horror on their face. That is when I hit the picnic table.

This is the story that came to mind as I thought about the meme that Jim tagged me with, What would Jesus say to me? The words that came to mind immediately were, "Come'on, follow me." Then I think he would add, "Don't forget, I am with you."

Because He knows I forget. When I forget He is with me, it is just like the bicycle ride. Instead of trusting that He is alongside me every step of the way, I go flailing out of control and end up plowing into a disaster.

But He doesn't forget, and He is always there with simple reminders like, "I love you, I'm here, don't be afraid, it's okay, let's try again, I'll always be with you."

If you would like to participate in this meme, consider yourself tagged. Please include a link to Jim's blog.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Wrath of God?

Unfortunately I saw the piece on 20/20 this week interviewing Shirley Phelps about the Westboro lawsuit. It was disgustingly awful to watch children singing "God Hates the World and All Her People."

Admittedly this particular group is extreme fringe. However I feel that same disappointment when I read websites, blogs, and comments that portray God as hateful and angry. I believe a message that heavily emphasizes judgment and wrath misrepresents God.

On a certain website, concerning the gospel as presented by John MacArthur, Doug Pagitt was quoted to say: "I do not say "perverted" lightly, either. I really think what he communicates is so distant from the message of the Bible that it is dangerously harmful to people."

It is harmful if the message portrayed is so far from the truth of who God is that it repels people. When people preach a narrow gospel of an angry and vindictive God, they don't seem to realize that they project their own anger and hatred onto God.

I believe it was Anne Lamott who said, "You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do."

Sometimes I wonder about why people hang onto this angry version of God. They seem afraid to believe in God's kindness, love, and mercy. Kind of like it's too good to be true.

It's not just the extremists. I think most of us have a small piece of the angry God that we've struggled to let go of, the picture of God we imagine when we are feeling ashamed or unworthy - the disapproving father, the harsh taskmaster, the unsatisfied perfectionist.

What if we are transformed by love instead of by law?

Legalism requires the harsh language of sin, judgment, and wrath. But what if God is completely confident in the power of love to transform a heart without threats and intimidation? Of course, living that way would require faith in the transforming power of God's love instead of trusting in control.

Personally, I think the greatest revelation that we, individually and as the church, will have is a growing revelation of God's love. His love has the power to redeem and restore in a way that judgment and condemnation never can. I don't think we, the church, have yet come close to imagining or expressing the depths of God's love.

Can His love be taken to an extreme?
I don't think so. What do you think?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Semper Reformanda

Always reforming.

I recently read the 95 theses for the first time. It seems that Luther was quite the deconstructionist.

Reforming and emerging are really the same concept - the idea of becoming, as the church, all that God intends for us to be. Or as Paul would say, "growing up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ."

As a belated reformation day gesture, today I nail my versoin of 95 theses. Some of these are paraphrases of Luther's statements. Others, where I couldn't make much sense of the original thesis, are my own thoughts.

May we continue emerging, reforming, and becoming.

1. One's whole life should reflect repentance and a heart for the kingdom of God.
2. The life of the kingdom cannot be administered by clergy.
3. This inner change of heart must have an outward expression also.
4. Peace and shalom will become a reality for us as we participate in God's kingdom.
5. We are not condemned by men and their laws.
6. Neither can we be restored by men or religion.
7. God restores us as we humbly submit ourselves to the reign of Jesus.
8. We enter into this relationship and kingdom life while we are yet living.
9. The Holy Spirit is our teacher and reveals to us the heart of the Father.
10. Ignorant and wicked are the ministers who do not use their influence to lead others to this free relationship with God.
11. The church has been asleep, allowing religious tradition to replace the life God intended for his people.
12. Forgiveness and grace are available to all, even before they believe.
13. God's grace frees us from death and condemnation.
14. The condition of a soul separated from the love of God is fear and hopelessness.
15. We should not forget the despair of being lost.
16. Hell and heaven are current realities, as are despair and shalom.
17. With souls in the balance, it seems that love must increase to counter despair.
18. There is no one outside the bounds of God's love.
19. There is assurance of salvation for those who believe in Jesus.
20. This salvation is the free gift of God through Jesus, not dependent on anyone or anything else.
21. Those who suggest that salvation or God's approval can be earned are in error.
22. They hinder access to the free grace of God.
23. We are all undeserving of God's grace.
24. We are deceived if we believe that we can earn God's blessing.
25. A minister has no authority except that which is given to him by those who submit themselves to him.
26. A leader does well when he leads, not with power, but with humble service.
27. It is deceitful to suggest that giving money to a ministry releases God's blessing.
28. Money and greed can distract the church from the real message and ministry of the power of God.
29. The condition of a man's heart is known only to God.
30. Our own heart can deceive us.
31. The wise man remains humbly aware of his brokenness.
32. Those who try to earn their salvation, and those who teach this, will miss experiencing the grace of God.
33. Beware of teachers and leaders who presume to mediate God's grace.
34. Traditions and rituals do not have the power to redeem or restore.
35. True Christian doctrine points us to relationship with Jesus and the life of a disciple.
36. Forgiveness is available freely to those who call on the name of Jesus.
37. Every Christian is an equal member and participant in the church, the body of Christ.
38. Participation in the life of the church is necessary in the formation of a disciple.
39. It is difficult, even for the wisest teachers, to adequately present the fullness of God's love and kindness.
40. True repentance recognizes the life and peace found in choosing God's way.
41. Sermons and teaching should not be preferable to good works of love.
42. Tithes and offerings cannot replace or substitute for acts of mercy.
43. Giving to the poor and needy is better than paying dues at church.
44. Growth comes by loving others rather than by religious duty.
45. How can we see a man in need and pass by, missing the opportunity to show the love of God?
46. One should be responsible first in caring for the needs in their family.
47. Giving is an expression of love from the heart, not an obligation.
48. Leaders should be more interested in prayers than pocketbooks.
49. It is useful to be taught and equipped by others, but this should not replace dependence on God.
50. Leaders who build their empires on the backs of those whom they were entrusted to serve will eventually come to ruin.
51. God does not turn a blind eye to corruption in the church.
52. Church membership does not guarantee salvation.
53. The message of the gospel of the kingdom will always be relevant.
54. Injury is done to the cause of Christ when this gospel message is replaced with self-help sermons or with narrow legalism.
55. The gospel, which is the very greatest thing, still has the power to change lives.
56. This power has not been adequately known or demonstrated by the people of God.
57. Many of the gifts and blessings given to the church have been hoarded rather than poured out.
58. When the power of the gospel is made known, it will always work grace for the inner man.
59. One of the treasures of the church is the poor among us.
60. Christ demonstrated for us the keys and manner of life in the kingdom.
61. Life in the kingdom cannot be experienced apart from knowing Him.
62. The true treasure of the church is the gospel of the glory and the grace of God.
63. The subversive nature of the gospel is often ignored because it requires that the first be last.
64. The real life of the kingdom is demonstrated when the last are made to be first.
65. The kingdom does not favor men of power, wealth, and influence.
66. Rather it recognizes the treasure to be found in the souls of the poor and marginalized.
67. Some preachers' greatness only serves to build their personal kingdom.
68. These kingdoms are worthless when compared to the reality of God's kingdom and grace.
69. Yet they establish power and influence for themselves within the church.
70. They preach their own dreams rather than the gospel.
71. Woe to those who succumb to the temptations of fame and greatness.
72. Blessing to those who guard against the lust of power and influence.
73. There should be concern about those who strive for power in the church.
74. Much more, there should be outrage over those who injure love and truth in their quest for position.
75. To think religious rituals have the power to save - this is madness.
76. They will do nothing to remove guilt or shame.
77. Even the greatest apostles did not have the power to forgive or save.
78. Yet even the least believer is given access to the grace, power, and spiritual gifts of God.
79. It is blasphemy to allow religious traditions and doctrine to overshadow the simplicity of the gospel.
80. Ministers who do so will account for their narrow misrepresentation of God's message.
81. This misrepresentation makes it difficult to rescue the true message of the gospel from legalism and religious tradition.
82. Why has the simplicity of the gospel become overwhelmed and complicated by layers of institution and hierarchy?
83. Why do clergy teach followers to be indebted to and dependent upon them?
84. Why has the free gift of grace become shrouded in religious obligation?
85. Why have the traditions of church been embraced as if the traditions themselves carried the weight of Scripture?
86. Why do church organizations absorb so much of the money that should go to the poor?
87. Why have gatherings been structured as if only one person is capable of sharing their gifts and talents?
88. What a greater blessing it would be if every believer were to participate in gatherings and ministry.
89. Those who are truly interested in the salvation of souls will minister freely without regard for position or titles.
90. To repress these questions of how the church functions will only serve to add to the decline of the church as it currently exists.
91. When the church truly reflects the message of Christ it will be credible to the world.
92. Woe to those who refuse to recognize this challenge to the status quo.
93. Embrace the prophets who call us to envision the potential of the church and the reality of the kingdom in our midst.
94. Christ-followers must live according to the way of Christ, our example.
95. Even if this way leads to suffering, we are confident of the reality of the kingdom of God in which we live.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Since I just scrapped my latest post, this is probably a good time to respond to this meme. I have enjoyed reading the answers of various friends around the blogosphere and was recently tagged by Brother Maynard.

In looking back at these points in time, I realize that in each year mentioned, I was standing at the edge of change. Maybe I will look back in 10 years and say the same thing about 2007.

1997 was the beginning of an extremely church-centered lifestyle. Our church had dived into the renewal movement (ie Toronto blessing) with meetings and services geared toward "soaking and refreshing" and then transitioned into the prophetic movement. For the most part, these were really good years of growth, wonderful relationships, and spiritual excitement.

1987 was the beginning of an intensely child-centered lifestyle. This was the year we started our family. We lost our first child in early '87, but I was pregnant again later in '87. Within a few years, we had our babies and realized we needed to quit procreating.

This was the beginning of a life of diapers and car seats that would last for quite a few years. Outings were afternoons in the park and walks with strollers. Eating out always meant going somewhere with a playland. Entertainment was feeding the ducks and geese at the park or throwing sticks in a stream.

1977 - What can you say about the 70's?
You had to be there.

In 1977, I finished my sophomore year of highschool and started my junior year. During that summer I morphed from an innocent kid to a rebellious teenager. The next few years of my life revolved around friends, pool halls, disco, boys, and partying. Being the overachiever that I am, I managed to hit bottom in 3 short years. That's a story for another day.

I recently read that a person's musical DNA is set during the late teens, which means that mine was set to disco, sappy ballads, and pop-rock. For a flashback to the 70's, I leave you with a video clip of "Cold as Ice" by Foreigner.

I'll tag a few of my favorite newish blog friends. If you've already done it, never mind. I know this one's been around for a while.

1. Amber at Homeschool Diva.
2. Dan at Danno's Dangerous Mind.
3. Mary at One Thing is Needed.
4. Rickard at Vikingson's Place.
5. Jeff at Thoughts from Jeff.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Recently I've been thinking about praying the Daily Office. To be honest, I've never understood the attraction toward elements of monasticism.

I wonder about moving from the freedom to be in a natural relationship of conversation with the Father into a schedule of rote prayers. But I am trying to listen to the voices of those who have experienced this and feel it is a beneficial part of their spiritual journey.

It likely doesn't have to be an either/or, in that one could do the Daily Office in addition to their relational conversation with Papa.

The rhythm and discipline could be positive if they don't become a form of religious obligation. Also, I could use some more spiritual/religious language in both my prayers and my everyday life.

I'm just not sure what my husband will think of my new habit.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Cool Kids

Everyone wants to be in the in crowd.


First there is the natural desire to belong, to be included, and to be wanted. There are also perceptions of power and position associated with various groups.

I have noticed a similar pattern of reactions with emerging/missional conferences and events. First there is the reported excitement and camaraderie of those who were able to attend. This is often followed by criticism or comments by others about the resulting dynamic of the group.

Too young and hip.
Too artsy.
Too white.
Too male.
Too old and boring.

I have mixed feelings about conferences and events. On the social side of things I would enjoy getting to meet others on this journey. However I still feel hesitant about the idea that conferences will define and shape the movement, that it will become centralized around a few dominant voices.

At what point do conferences and events, by nature, add to the perception of who is in and who is important in the conversation? Are we still attempting to gather around the experts? Is there a presumption that those gathered will become the voice for the many?

I am referring to conferences in general. At what point do we go from gathering to learn, support, and encourage to reverting to old, familiar power structures?

I know that many of my own feelings and reactions have less to do with gender, which I believe is a valid reaction also, and more to do with my aversion to hierarchy and the centralizing of movements.

To be honest, I don't know how I feel about the whole thing, conferences themselves and the reactions to them.

That's where you come in. Tell me what you think.

Friday, October 19, 2007

This is Emerging Grace

...and this is the post that I wish I had written on the emerging church.

From Rick McKinley*:

"There will be important contributions made to theological and ecclesiological work. However if we insist that this young emerging church declare their college major right now, we may be killing the very thing that God is doing by putting a yoke upon them that God did not ask them to carry, but was one that we invented out of the fear of what they might become."

"Perhaps God is emerging something that is counter cultural to the way we have been doing it. He may be bringing about something that is seemingly small and insignificant but that will over time grow into something richer and fuller and more transformational than we have seen in some time.

We will never get to see it however, if we are impatient with the process, if we don’t have time or..................... grace to allow it to emerge..."

Don't miss reading the entire post!

*Rick is pastor of the Imago Dei Community in Portland. I recently reviewed his book This Beautiful Mess here.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Missional Dudes

was one of my favorite early posts. Being new to the blogosphere, I asked my readers to point me to some of their favorite dudebloggers.

It was admittedly a bit of a light-hearted parody of Brother Maynard's post Wanted:Emerging/Missional Chick Bloggers. Both of our posts generated a lot of links and led to the discovery of some of my favorite blogs.

Originally there was some discussion over whether the guy in the picture was the "real" Brother Maynard. I guess not. ;)

In spite of a tendency to bring beer into the conversation and despite the fact that without exception they all have "hot" wives, you have to admit that there are some great missional dudebloggers and excellent missional conversations happening these days.

Many of the missional dudes spent this week together at the Allelon Conference on Missional Orders.

Andrew Jones was hosted at the conference organized by "Alan Roxburgh whose sausages are no match for my steak," according to Andrew.

It looks like the missional dudes got down to some serious discussion after their dark beer.

(photo ht Len Hjalmarson)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Spiritual Abuse Recovery Survey

Some of you may have seen this posted on other blogs. If this applies to you, please take the time to help Barb out with her research so that her results can be an accurate reflection of this situation.

Barb Orlowski is in the Doctor of Ministry program at A.C.T.S. Seminaries in Langley, B.C., Canada. In order to conduct the research necessary to complete her dissertation, she could use your help.

She has prepared two questionnaires concerning abusive ministry leadership.

One survey is for those who have experienced emotional and spiritual distress under authoritarian and controlling church leaders and have recovered from this experience. She does not encourage your participation if doing so will cause you emotional distress.

The other survey is for pastors who have been able to provide spiritual guidance and encouragement for individuals who have faced this type of emotional and spiritual pain at the hands of those that they had trusted as their spiritual leaders.

Respond to either request by emailing Barb at

Please let her know at which site you saw this information.

When you e-mail Barb, she will send you the questionnaire.

The responses given by those participating will be kept confidential.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Missional Conversation at Our House

Standing around the island, my husband fixing himself a snack, while I cleaned up the pizza boxes that had accumulated over the weekend, we ended up on the topic of church and our church future once again.

This probably explains why we're stuck, or in a more positive light, still processing. I'm not implying that either of us are right or wrong. It's just where we are at, today.

We were talking about our current church situation when I said, "I read the other day that in any given situation, we always have at least 3 options."

"Oh really?"

"Yeah, so the way I see it, these are our 3 options:

1. We could host a gathering of believers that we enjoy being with. This would be fun and comfortable. Gathering for the purpose of encouraging one another is important."

"That might be fun. For awhile."

"2. We could find a missional purpose and allow community to develop around that."

"I already have a missional purpose."
"You do not."
"Yes, I do. I've always had a missional purpose."
"You have not."
"Yes, I have."
"Never mind."

"3. We could keep attending church."

"Yep, that's the one I pick. I'm going to just keep doing what I'm doing."

"What are you doing?"

"Spending my time with people outside of church."

End of conversation, for today.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Charismissional is the topic of the October issue of The Porpoise Diving Life with Robbymac as guest editor.

Brother Maynard has an introductory post explaining the compilation of this issue and asking for discussion and opinion concerning the relevance of this topic to the emerging/missional conversation.

I'd like to highlight a few of the articles here to hopefully give you a taste of some of the articles that might interest you. We would welcome comments and feedback about the articles at our blogs.

Additional articles and reviews for the October issue can be read at PDL.

Chrysalis: From Post-Charismatic To Charismissional
From Robby's article Chrysalis, this is descriptive of the process I feel as a post-charismatic, wondering which expressions of my former charismatic life are dead and which will be transformed.

"I like the imagery of the chrysalis as a metaphor for the journey that post-charismatics find themselves on. In the cocoon stage, a caterpillar looks – in the outer expression – dead and withered. Yet a metamorphosis, a transformation, is taking place in a deep and hidden place."

(Charis-)Missional Evangelism
In his article on Missional Evangelism, noting a hesitation towards the use of the term charismissional, Brother Maynard describes the merging of lifestyle evangelism and power evangelism into a more holistic demonstration of faith which lends itself to his tagline, "Live your faith, share your life."

"I propose we share our lives. If our faith is active, if we are living it, the sharing of our lives puts our faith in proximity with others... and opportunities both for proclamation and demonstration will result in natural contexts."

Prophetic Ministry, Reimagined Missionally

Prophetic Ministry, Reimagined Missionally is the result of a lengthy e-mail conversation that I had with Brother Maynard. It was interesting to discover how many parallel experiences that we had with prophetic ministry in our former lives. Brother Maynard brilliantly edited the conversation with its many tangents into this condensed and coherent article.

"Prophecy is to give us a glimpse of the reign of God, to give us understanding of His solution for our brokenness, insight into His intentions toward us. Part of our role as prophetic people is to be those who see, believe, and declare God's redemptive purposes."

Why Charismissional?
In my article, Why Charismissional?, I first hope to stress that the topic and emphasis of the Holy Spirit should not be a charismatics-only concern. I am hopeful that within the emerging/missional conversation we can embrace the necessity of the involvement of the Holy Spirit without delineations between charismatics and non-charismatics. The majority of this article is a letter to my charismatic friends challenging our former lack of missional intent in pursuit of spiritual gifts and experiences.

"Traditional charismatic expression has little connection or relevance to the outside world. Our use of charismatic gifts has not compelled us to go to those to whom we are called. The deeper we went in our quest for the things of the Spirit, the further removed we became from knowing and relating to those who do not yet know Jesus."

A Missional View of Healing and Deliverance
Finally, in my article, A Missional View of Healing and Deliverance, I just brush on the idea of personal healing and deliverance as an aspect of reconciliation and the missio dei.

"God has a big-picture plan for the reconciliation of all of creation. However, in the midst of that, there is also a very real plan for our personal healing and deliverance. Healing and deliverance is a part of our ongoing salvation, of being restored to the wholeness that God intended for us."

Because feedback isn't possible at the PDL site, we welcome your comments and response about these articles at any of our blogs.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Book Review:This Beautiful Mess

I vividly remember sitting in a Sunday School class many years ago with my husband as newlyweds. The topic of discussion was the kingdom of God. Somewhat hesitantly, we offered up the opinion that perhaps the kingdom was already here. We were readily dismissed by the older, wiser members of the class, including the teacher.

In This Beautiful Mess, Rick McKinley presents the present reality of the kingdom in a way that makes it simple to understand yet difficult to ignore.

In Christian circles, I think that the kingdom is sometimes glossed over as just a vague religious idea, perhaps equated more often with thoughts of heaven and a future destination. However, the gospel that Jesus taught was not the gospel of salvation, but rather the gospel of the kingdom. That is why it is so important for us to understand the kingdom of God as more than just a vague concept.

Rick did a brilliant job of cracking a window open in order for those who read his book to catch a bigger vision and clearer picture of the kingdom of God. My absolute favorite chapter in the book is Chapter 5, "A Dimension of Being." In this chapter, he describes the present reality of the kingdom and the need for us to develop the understanding and vision to recognize the kingdom around and among us.

In the latter half of the book, as the subtitle, "practicing the presence of the kingdom of God," suggests, Rick then opens a door and issues an invitation to participate in the kingdom. He offers real and practical ways of encountering the kingdom of God, ways in which both individuals and communities can experience a lifestyle of kingdom living, of participating in God's mission.

There are gems of wisdom and insight in each chapter as he explains what the kingdom might look like in different aspects of life including encountering the kingdom among children; ministering in the margins; the presence of the kingdom in creation; a kingdom perspective of wealth, giving, and money; and a look at suffering and our own willingness to enter into sacrifice and suffering.

Throughout the book, Rick has painted a picture of the kingdom of God, the kingdom established when Jesus chose to enter into This Beautiful Mess and the invitation for us to do likewise, to participate in his kingdom by immersing our lives in This Beautiful Mess.

Rick doesn't coerce or manipulate in his writing. His invitation to practice the kingdom is gentle. However, if taken seriously, your life will be challenged and changed.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Church Organization versus Church Organism

I would like to lay out a few things that I've been thinking about and would love some feedback from you about these ideas. Lately I have been mentally trying to dissect the spiritual organism of the church from the structures and organizations that we know as the church.

I'll start with this quote from George Hunsberger that I read at Brad Brisco's blog, The Missional Church Network:

"Increasingly, formal organizational structures are what we use the term church to designate. The structures have thus become a functional substitute for the social organism the New Testament calls “church.” In the end, in America the church has come to be understood as a “vendor of religious services and goods” in what Roger Finke and Rodney Stark have dubbed our “religious economy.” We live then in a world of religious consumers and religious firms in the business of serving them."

This isn't necessarily to say that structure and organization are the problem. In fact, when a group reaches a certain size, structure and organization are inevitable. So based on the size of the organization we are involved in, there will be a certain amount of necessary structure and organization.

Gary Goodell has an interesting article at epermission about the group dynamics of various size groups. He has this to say about the administration of groups:

"In a culture stung with the marketing ego that "bigger is better," we must always be cautious as to why we "count" certain things. Again, numbers are not to be used against one another, but as in the cases in the model of Jesus and Scripture, the truth is that we can better steward what is happening relationally when the group is the right size, and become aware of the shifts and changes that can occur so we can accommodate different sized groupings and thus different dynamics."

When I was writing the leadership articles, I touched on the idea of divorcing administrative leadership from spiritual leadership.

“We have blurred the lines within the church between the administrative organization and the organic spiritual life of the church body. While a person may be needed to administratively lead an organizational structure, if that structure happens to be a church group, he must not assume that his organizational rank presumes an elevated spiritual position in the group.”

In my comment to Jonathan Brink at Missio Dei on his recent post about leadership, I added these thoughts:

"I see that this is where the confusion often occurs within the church in regard to leadership. It is often assumed and taught that spiritual authority follows the same lines as organizational authority.

There is nothing wrong with organizational leadership within a church if we recognize it as an administrative function for the purpose of structural organization. If our church structure is an organization, it is helpful to have effective administration of that organization.

The problems begin when we believe that the church organization is the same as the organic church body. Within the church, we have tried to combine a role of spiritual and organizational leadership into one person called the pastor. In that, we end up with a perverted role that fits neither description."

Is it fair that we employ someone for the role of administering an organization and then put a spiritual title of pastor on them? Yes, perhaps they will pastor as a part of their role in the organization. But should the spiritual ministry for an entire group fall on the shoulders of one person? Perhaps it would be more accurate to refer to them as the director or administrator. I think that we frequently substitute administrative leadership in the church for spiritual leadership.

Which leads to further questions of whether we pay someone for spiritual ministry which is being addressed by Alan Knox at his blog. I tend to lean towards the ideal that spiritual ministry should be shared among the body. However, depending on the size of the group, it may be necessary to employ organizational and administrative services.

Looking at the church we are attending as an example, they are a large organization that puts on a Sunday morning service for the purpose of attracting seekers. They are up front in stating that "church" doesn't happen in the Sunday service, but rather in the small groups that meet during the week. While the leader is doing a fine job of directing this organization, his personal level of involvement with people doesn't suggest a role of pastor, in spite of the fact that his title is Senior Pastor.

So back to dissecting:

In examining our organizations, where is the organic life of the church?

Does it occur in a Sunday morning service?

Are there some occasions of gathering where church doesn't occur?

What about the role of the pastor?

What is the difference between gathering as the church and having a religious service?

Feel free to address any or all of these ideas and questions.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

What Was He Thinking?!

"I mean, knowing us so well, was it wise, really, to entrust so much hope in the ongoing reconciliation of the world to us? Does God really believe that in the hands of the small and weak, small and weak things can be healed? Are we made of the right stuff to be a helpful partner to Jesus in this holy work?" (Kayla McClurg)

Sometimes I forget...

"God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong." (I Cor.1:27)

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (II Cor.12:9)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Meme: These Four Things

I've been tagged by Brother Maynard in a meme based on the book unChristian, which is apparently a book about why people don't like Christians.

Here's the scoop:

List four things about Christians: three negative perceptions and one thing that Christians should be known for.

Negative Perceptions:

1. Christians are arrogant.
They are so comfortable in their rightness that they often are not able to relate to unbelievers without talking down to them.

2. Christians are difficult.
Ask any waitress. Christians are frequently known for being bad customers. They can be demanding and seem to believe that they are deserving of special treatment.

3. Christians are hypocrites.

It doesn't take watching Christians very long to realize that we fall far short of the ideals we espouse. Perhaps this is related to the first one. If we were more humble in our attitudes, maybe we wouldn't be judged as harshly in our weaknesses and failures.

Positive Thought:

4. Christians should be generous.
I'm not sure if this is the number one thing, but it is a concrete way to put our love in action. When we are generous with our time, our money, and our attitudes we can begin to exemplify the love we claim to have.

1. Barb
2. Heather
3. Mary
4. Paul

I look forward to hearing their thoughts on this.

Do you like Christians?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Keeping the Water Clean

I am not sure that I actually remember this, but instead I think that it is more a memory of a memory. In our family's legend and history the story has been repeated often, as we are wont to do with stories of a silly or embarrassing nature.

Many, many years ago, as a wee child, I was in the bathtub with my older sister who is older than me by only eleven months. Somewhere in the midst of our bathtime fun, my sister pooed in the tub and our bathtime fun came to an abrupt end.

S#*% happens, there's a mess in the water, and no one comes out clean.

The aftermath of the Driscoll podcast seemed like this to me.

Mark left a "baby ruth" in the pool of the emerging conversation, the blogosphere erupted, and further misunderstanding and disagreement was generated.

Bob Hyatt is concerned about the appropriateness of winking. I agree with him that in some cases it might not be a purely motivated response. In the end, each person will have to take responsibility for their actions and motives - some will have to account for winking (Repent, ye guilty winkers!) and others will have to account for judging their brothers in Christ.

I understand the concern that we remain teachable and able to receive critique and correction with openness and humility. However, I do not believe that Mark's podcast provided the measuring stick for proving our teachability because it was not a valid, substantiated critique. When people react to being misrepresented, it is not fair to say they are dismissively unteachable.

Honestly, I believe that valid disagreement and critique does occur both within and from outside the emerging conversation, but it doesn't get the air time that Mark's controversial comments have. As only one example among many, I remember Ben Witherington's review of Rob Bell's book "Sex God" that included valid points of disagreement in the context of a fair review.

On the opposite extreme, there are also those pools in the blogsophere, where the water is warm and yellow, that I would suggest be avoided completely. It has been proven repeatedly that genuine discussion isn't possible in that environment. I won't provide links, but you may have visited those pools also. Don't swim there!

The main reason I posted on this once more is to point out that Stephen Shields has reposted his link to Theological Disagreement and the Emergent Church. There is no better summary of the standard that should be required of those who disagree with or attack the emerging church and of us in determining which are worthy of a response.

There will continue to be disagreement both from within and around the emerging conversation. It is a broad spectrum of people, backgrounds, and perspectives. There is no intention of solidifying into a single, all-encompassing, standardized statement of belief, which is why we must know how to express and handle disagreement.

I suggest we take some of the wisdom and strategy from Stephen's guidelines and make them our standard of response:

"Understanding the other calls for imagination, because we have to provisionally assume the other may be correct - or at least partially correct - if we are to truly listen. We may have to hold our convictions in abeyance as we hypothetically consider the position of the other."

Does this mean we must always agree? No, but it does mean that we should attempt understanding before voicing disagreement, and in the case of voicing disagreement, we must be careful to not misrepresent the other person's point of view. It also means that it is okay to shrug off the opinions of those who have not done the work of attempting to understand.

Brian's latest book, Everything Must Change, may provide just the opportunity for us to practice expressing different points of view about doctrine, theology, and the issues of our day. I expect that there will be plenty of dialog discussing those ideas and the areas of agreement and disagreement. There is an indepth review about the book by Alan Mann here.

Scot McKnight is also reviewing the book at Jesus Creed. I find the comments by Michael Kruse most interesting. Based on his expertise in this area, I would love to see an extensive, indepth review by him of the political, economic, and social issues addressed in the book.

Brian is not the pope of the emerging conversation, and we aren't all expected to agree with him. The emerging conversation will not come apart at the seams when we do disagree. But agree or not, we should attempt to respect and understand the heart and motive of the person putting forth the ideas.

This video from Allelon is an interesting look at Brian and his response to critics. (ht:Bill Kinnon) I think it would be great if his critics would at least take a moment to consider Brian the person before ripping into Brian the figurehead and author.

Disagreement is and has been welcome in the emerging conversation when it is approached with an attitude of respect and a desire for genuine dialog. That is one of the trademarks and strengths of the conversation.

But don't expect to receive a favorable response if you poo in the water.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Asked and Answered

Great questions by Gordon MacDonald at Out of Ur about the lack of spiritually mature Christians.

He distinguishes between churchly and mature...

"Now mature, in my book does not mean the “churchly,” those who have mastered the vocabulary and the litany of church life, who come alive only when the church doors open. Rather, I have in mind those who walk through all the corridors of the larger life—the market-place, the home and community, the playing fields—and do it in such a way that, sooner or later, it is concluded that Jesus’ fingerprints are all over them."

While he is asking what is wrong in our discipleship process, he also makes an interesting statement...

"The tragedy is that they may well be there in embryo, waiting to be discovered, waiting for sound training, waiting to be emancipated from the cult of the mediocre."

Great answers from Alan Hirsch at Forgotten Ways on the process of discipleship...

"And this is exactly how Jesus does discipleship: he organizes it around mission. As soon as they are called He takes the disciples on an adventurous journey of mission, ministry, and learning. Straightaway are involved in proclaiming the Kingdom of God, serving the poor, healing, and casting out demons. And it is active and direct disciple-making in the context of mission.

If we accept that Jesus forms the primary pattern of disciple-making for the church, then we must say that discipleship is our core task. But if disciple-making lies at the heart of our commission then we must organize it around mission because mission is the catalyzing principle of discipleship. In Jesus they are inexorably linked."

The structure of church has become like a noose in the discipleship process. Rather than discipling and training for mission, it seems that the majority of training is for "ministry" which has come to mean service within the church system.

So many people clamor for positional ministry while at the same time missing the opportunity to be involved in the real service of ministry. It saddens me to hear of young men or women who cannot find mentors and elders in their lives, yet within the same community there is a line around the block for "leadership" training.

Unless the institutions of church divorce themselves from raising up volunteers for their programs and creating structures of importance and inclusion based upon participation in those programs, we will not see real maturity or discipleship.

Monday, October 01, 2007


I was noticing the plant out on my deck. I think it's a mum or something.

I'm not really a plant person. (That is a huge understatement.)

It needs water.

The flowers in the middle are still bright yellow, but it's getting a little crusty around the edges.

Actually, it's been needing water for a while now. I thought maybe it would rain, but it hasn't.

Whenever I see it, I am reminded that I should water it.

What's the use. It's October, and it's going to die anyway.

Today, I am like the mum.

I'll respond to comments when I'm feeling a little less crusty around the edges.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Just Life

The conversations around the blogosphere about labels make me more aware than ever that I don't really fit into a particular box. Sometimes I feel like an observer of my own strange ecclesial journey. There seem to be plenty of interesting twists and turns.

Saturday evening my husband and I were visited by a couple seeking God about the possibility of planting a church in our area. We had a huddle before they arrived about how we should behave ourselves.

Our goals for the evening:
1. Not to blow their dreams out of the water.
2. Not to overly encourage them.
3. Not to be too likeable. ;)

I don't know how we did, although I am sure they had an interesting conversation on the 2-hour drive back to the place they are staying.

My husband woke me up during the night talking in his sleep. He typically doesn't dream and never talks in his sleep. He was saying...

"No,no! No,no,no! No!
No,no,no,no! No,no!"

I wonder what that's all about.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Smoke and Mirrors

It amazes me what can be accomplished by insinuation in the realm of public opinion. A few well-placed suggestions combined with groupthink, and suddenly suspicion is cast, doubt is created, and reputations are smeared.

I am fairly familiar with this tool of communication, having found myself on the wrong side of its damaging effect. Learning by experience the intricacies of how this method of persuasion works, I have also watched it used repeatedly, but effectively, on others at my CLB.

In our situation, the leadership at our former church had to explain why we suddenly left. Their options were:

1. The truth - that we disagreed with them to the degree that we would choose to leave our friends and church home.

2. Imply guilt about us.

I wish they had chosen option one, but then they would have had to deal with questions about the real disagreement. Instead they chose option two, and with downcast faces and hushed voices, they cloaked their vague accusations about us amidst claims of love and care for us. It was then suggested required that this should no longer be talked about.

People were shocked. Some cried. (A few might have been happy.) And everyone wondered what happened to Grace and her husband, "I wonder what they did."

With no actual evidence, we were now guilty in the court of public opinion. Overnight, it was obvious on peoples' faces when we ran into them around town. The lack of detail from the leadership was supposedly to protect us from the shame of whatever scandalous behaviors people were left to imagine.

This effectively dealt with the leadership's problem and furthered their message that everyone better get on board lest the same thing happen to them.

Now that many people have left the CLB, I get to(?) hear the things that they thought or were actually told concerning us. The common thread in all of their stories is that there was never a specific statement of accusation about us, just suspicion implied of our guilt.

For example, at one point my former friend was asked specifically, "What would Grace and her husband say was their reason for leaving?" I think this is a great question, looking for perspective from both sides.

The answer given was, "You wouldn't even believe it if I told you."

That's it! That's all that was said. What is the purpose and result of a statement like that? It implies guilt and scandal.

We weren't the only ones. This has now been used repeatedly to more clearly distinguish who is in/out and to intimidate those still there into not venturing toward the slippery slope of disloyalty.

The fact is that in every situation, the cloud of suspicion is huge in the minds of the people who believe it, while the true accusations are vague and unsubstantiated, even fabricated.

That has been my biggest complaint about the Driscoll message. The accusations about his "friends" are vague and unsubstantiated, relying mostly on the words of other authors to make his case. I mean really, why would we dig around in footnotes in order to prove our friend is questionable?

Surely there is a better way to deal with legitimate disagreement than to feed hyped insinuations to those who wait with sweaty palms hoping the "emerging conversation is coming apart at the seams."

I knew my post yesterday wouldn't be hugely popular, but I felt that it was important. I have since paraphrased it. If you missed it, you might enjoy reading the paraphrased version. It is from a sermon by Dr Isaac Barrow called "The Folly of Slander." Who is it important for?

It is important for me when I would rather take inventory of someone's faults than their strengths.

It is important for the various watchdog-type sites and blogs that want to believe the worst about their brothers in Christ.

It is important in how we view the Driscoll message and others like it that would attempt to judge and critique others in the court of public opinion.

I am not saying that there isn't a place for legitimate public critique and discussion. However, I believe we must ask - are we approaching it with the appropriate charity, justice, and truth required in our treatment of one another?


"To make maliciously or knowingly false statements about."

There's your dictionary word for the day.

UPDATE: paraphrase added

In case some got bogged down in the old language, I have attempted an interpretation.

From the works of Dr. Isaac Barrow:


Do they assume a power of playing with, tossing about, and tearing in pieces their neighbor's name, as if it were a mere toy? Do they, with an air of spirituality, backbite their brother?

Is it so common to tear another down, that no one wonders, dislikes, or detests it? But instead those who speak in this manner are heard with pleasure and held in esteem, viewed as a needed voice. This kind of tearing down is no longer seen as a sin, but instead praised as humorous, entertaining, witty, and popular, so that we no longer take ourselves or others to account for what is said.

We might pretend that it is not for personal reasons that we tear down our neighbor, but instead that it is for the sake of orthodox doctrine, for the purity of the truth, the protection of others that we must make our accusations known.

This is the cover of many slanders: zeal for an opinion, although sectarian or factious, motivates whatever is said against others. The cause is of greater importance than the reputations ruined in the process.

The method also is indicative of the motive. The accusations are seldom rendered face to face where one would be accountable for what they are saying.

Accusations are often couched in kind or flattering words in order to make them more credible. Inaccurately misrepresenting someone's words is another way of casting suspicion about them.

Other ways of slandering a person are to outright lie, to accuse them of things they aren't guilty of, to attribute ill motives or intentions to them, to exaggerate their faults, and to link them to evil things of which they themselves aren't actually guilty.

Sly suggestions and covert reflections are what we might call smoke and mirrors. It is to imply guilt without actually saying anything specific. This is done to breed suspicion in the hearers. The list of ways in which this is accomplished is interesting:

wily suppositions - "what if..."
shrewd insinuations - "well, it could be that..."
crafty questions - "did you hear..."
specious comparisons - "it's a bit like..."
intimating a possibility - "I don't know for sure, but..."
inferring some likelihood - "this is what might..."
inducing to believe - "I hate to say it, but..."

The purpose is to suggest guilt and scandal.

It is not only slander to lie, but also to fault-find in order to create damage. Love is not looking for faults and justice would not exaggerate them, because none of us are completely free of fault.

No matter how you try to dress it up...
it is a poison often infused in sweet liquor,
and ministered in a golden cup.

From the works of Dr. Isaac Barrow:

"Do they not usurp a power of playing with, of tossing about, of tearing in pieces their neighbor's good name, as if it were the veriest toy in the world? Do not many "having a form of godliness" (some of them demurely, others confidently, both without any sense of remorse for what they do) backbite their brethern?

Is it not grown so common a thing to asperse causelessly, that no man wonders at it, that few dislike, that scarce any detest it? that most notorious calumniators are heard, not only with patience, but with pleasure; yea are even held in vogue and reverence, as men of notable talent, and very serviceable to their party; so that slander seem to have lost its nature, and not be now an odious sin, but a fashionable humor, a way of pleasing entertainment, a fine knack, or a curious feat of policy; so that no man taketh himself or others to be accountable for what is said in this way?

Perhaps he will pretend it is not to promote his particular concernment, that he makes so bold with his neighbor, or deals so harshly with him; but for the sake of orthodox doctrine, for advantage of the true church, for the advancement of the public good, he judgeth it expedient to asperse him.

This is indeed the covert of innumerable slanders: zeal for some opinion, or some party, beareth out men of sectarian and factious spirits in such practices; they may do, they may say anything for those fine ends. What is a little truth, what is any man's reputation, in comparison to carrying on such brave designs?

Of these passions, the manner of his behavior is a manifest indication; for men do seldom vent their slanderous reports openly and loudly, to the face or in the ear of those who are concerned in them; but do utter them in a low voice, in dark corners, out of sight and hearing, where they can conceit themselves at present safe from being called to an account.

Even commendation itself is used to give passage to dispraises, and render the accusations following more credible, perverting a man's words disadvantageously by affected misconstruction, or a partial and lame discourse of men's discourse and practice.

This is accomplished by bearing false witness, affixing odious characters on persons, which they deserve not, aspersing a man's actions with harsh censure, importing that they proceed from ill principles or tend to bad ends. Also magnifying and aggravating the faults of others, and imputing to our neighbor's practice, evil consequences, apt to render him odious, which have no connexion with them.

Another manner is sly suggestions, through oblique and covert reflexions, one does not directly charge his neighbor with faults, but yet so speaks that he is understood or presumed to do so. Although they do not assert downright falsehoods, yet breed sinister opinions in the hearers, especially in those who from weakness, credulity, jealousy, or prejudice are prone to entertain them. This is done in many ways; by propounding wily suppositions, shrewd insinuations, crafty questions, and specious comparisons, intimating a possibility, or inferring some likelihood of, and thence inducing to believe the fact.

It is not only slander to pick a hole where there is none, but to make that wider which is, so that it appeareth more ugly, and cannot so easily be mended. For charity is wont to extenuate faults, justice doth never exaggerate them, as no man is exempt from some defects, or can live free from some misdemeanors.

Detraction may be couched in truth and clothed in fair language; it is a poison often infused in sweet liquor, and ministered in a golden cup."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Thinking Missionally Video

Wow! From the beginning, the emerging/missional posters took on a life of their own. It thrills me that they continue to spread the message of the gospel of Jesus that is at the heart of those who consider themselves emerging and/or missional.

Thank you to those who put this video together. Well done!
(ht Christine Sine)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Open Discussion : Convergent Podcast

I have never tried this before, but I would like to open up discussion in the comment box about the message by Mark Driscoll outlining his concerns with Emergent and specifically with Brian McClaren, Doug Pagitt, and Rob Bell.

The podcast is approximately an hour and a half long. It can be downloaded here from itunes.

The reason I want to do this is because I had mixed feelings after listening to the message, and I am wondering what some of you thought. I will do my best to present a few facts as fairly as I am capable of presenting them, which I am sure is still biased.

I felt Mark's tone started off appropriately humble for the task he was undertaking. He became more bold with his comments as the message progressed.

1. Brian McClaren - Guilt by Reading and Footnoting
  • Mark is very concerned with Brian's influence from several authors. He spent considerable time explaining the questionable doctrines of the authors that Brian has referenced - Borg, Crossan, Chalke, and Wilbur. Based on Brian's association with these authors, Mark implied that Brian's belief in atonement is questionable.
  • The other concern that Mark has with Brian is his "increasingly obscure" stand concerning homosexuality based on quotes by Brian in Time Magazine and Christianity Today.

2. Doug Pagitt -
  • In the "Listening to the Beliefs" book, Doug said, "we should reconsider the idea that there is a necessary distinction between creator and creation." Mark explained that, according to Romans 1, this is by definition paganism and idolatry.
  • Also when he asked Doug if homosexual practice is incompatible with the christian faith, Doug's response was no.

3. Rob Bell -
  • Strike One - Brian McClaren covers Rob's pulpit when Rob is gone.
  • Strike Two - Rob uses rabbinical sources, and the rabbis didn't know or love Jesus.
  • Strike Three - Trajectory hermeneutic. Based on the "horrible" book - Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals - Mark says that Rob is guilty of theological evolution in arriving at the egalitarian position.
  • Strike Four - Because of Rob's remark about the virgin birth in the book Velvet Elvis, Mark said that Rob's theological method is frightening.

This is really condensed, but hopefully it is a fair representation of Mark's critique of the 3 men in this podcast.

Near the end Mark made a few general, unsubstantiated statements:

  • Emergents love Jesus the man, not the God-man.
  • Emergents are guilty of syncretism, blending Christianity with paganism.
  • Emergents have a low and diminished view of Scripture.
  • Finally, those involved in the emerging conversation don't have converts, just the disgruntled children of evanglicalism.

To be fair, there were points in the message when Mark talked about missiology, contextualization, and reaching the world with the message of Jesus, where I could clearly see why he has been so effective in his ministry. He is absolutely sincere about reaching the lost.

Near the end, he made some good points about not erring on either side of the spectrum, syncretism (liberal) or sectarianism (fundamental). He said that we shouldn't be wasting our time fighting over things that don't matter, but rather should be pursuing converts instead of conflict. Amen to that.

If you haven't listened to the podcast, feel free to comment on the ideas I have outlined. If you have listened, I would be very interested in what you thought. Opposing views are welcome. Please be respectful to other commenters.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

For Each Other

The thing that is most frustrating to me concerning the recent message from Mark Driscoll is that prevailing stereotypes and fears concerning the emerging church are being perpetuated.

For those who choose to see emerging-friendly believers in a negative light, this is just more ammo that they can use to solidify their arguments and generalizations. To be honest, I don't think that I will ever understand this stance among believers.

Whatever happened to the idea that we are for each other?

As a mom, sibling rivalry is an issue that I have dealt with a few times. Perhaps selfishness and competition are just human nature. Compassion, empathy, and sharing don't usually seem to come naturally.

I've tried to teach my kids this - when we insist on getting the first, the best, and the most, who is it that we are taking it from? How do we feel about elevating ourselves at our brother or sister's expense?

Of course, our self-interest doesn't end in childhood. So often we see this in couples who are struggling in their marriage. Why are they not for each other? When did they stop being for each other?

If we take an "I'll show him" attitude, we have lost sight of the idea that we should be for each other. In a desire to be right and win, spouses are often willing to cause extreme damage to their relationship and to the person who is supposed to be their lover, friend, partner, and team mate. That is pretty self-defeating in the end, isn't it? What have we won?

But what about when people are against us, when they say things about us or our friends that may not be true?

When it becomes obvious that someone is entrenched in a false opinion about you, it is best to walk away. The energy spent defending yourself against false accusation does not produce good fruit in yourself or anyone else.

I have found this to be true concerning the issue of women in ministry also. It is a frustrating waste of time to argue with someone who is set in their views. The discussions with the anti-emergent crowd appear to be similarly pointless.

In my early months of blogging, I wrote a post called You Can Only Be What You Are. The post is about walking in your gifts without waiting for the permission of others in order to serve.

This was also my mantra when faced with the reality of false accusations and a damaged reputation. What are you going to do? The best strategy is to prove the naysayers wrong with a life well-lived - be what you are.

Kester Brewin did a 5-part series on Game Theory last April. I have referred back to it many times and always planned on linking to it here. I linked to Part 3 since that is where most of the quote is from, however you can page back and forward to read the entire series at his blog. It isn't very long and well worth the read.

I believe these thoughts are appropriate here. He describes the problem of game theory:

" turns out that our best strategy is not to trust one another. If we want to win, we need to be selfish."

He then goes on to describe how Christ subverted the game:

"...what Christ is doing when he stays silent at his trial is refusing to even enter the game that the strategists plotting against him have set up. It is as if he deliberately loses, because by losing he is totally subverting the very idea of the game.

On the cross the religious leaders taunted Jesus - if he's so powerful, why doesn't he save himself? This was the final temptation Jesus faced, the same one the devil ended with in the desert: take part in the power play. Jesus emptied himself of all that power, emptied himself of strategies, because he had to be emptied of the Self - the Self that pretends that it is powerful and influential. The Self that pushes the ego forward, rather than looking to the Other.

To give oneself for 'the other' is to lose. It is to be engaged in transformative relationships, rather than tactical change. It is to love. To know grace. And grace and love have no strategy."

Many of us know what it is like to intentionally lose. Perhaps in a game of Candyland or Chutes & Ladders we have lost on purpose, but in the end, we win when we see our child's joy. We have a bigger picture in mind than the game.

I am going to try to remember the bigger picture. We don't have to enter the competition. We can have a strategy to not participate in the power play, a strategy to not defend ourselves, and a strategy to prove our faith with a life that demonstrates the love and grace of Jesus.

A Sunday Proverb

Some days,
when the whole world seems a little bit off,

you just might
have your contacts in the wrong eyes.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Emerging Streams Just Got Muddier


The 3 streams of the emerging church:

1. Guys Mark likes.
2. Mark.
3. Guys Mark doesn't like (his "friends").

Yes, only guys, but that's an issue for another day.

In my reading this evening I came across the fact that Mark Driscoll spoke at a southern baptist conference this weekend. The reports I read so far indicate that Mark has confirmed the southern baptists' fears concerning the emerging church, and maybe thrown a few old friends under the bus.

From conference attendees:

"He talked about how Brian McClaren, Doug Pagitt, Rob Bell are basically sell outs when it comes to Scriptural integrity. He presented a strong case and held nothing back. Interesting stuff. Without a doubt, this is the most direct, I've heard Mark address these issues.

He specifically cited their views on the Atonement, views on homosexuality,rabbinical study, their influences, and theology. There were some very vivid conversations and references to the virgin Mary and McClaren's new organization, "Deep SHIfT"."
(Travis Johnson)

"We just witnessed history".
"Mark Driscoll just shared a message unlike anything I have ever experienced.
Mark definitely drew a line in the sand and brought up a lot of inconsistencies with Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, and Doug Pagitt - essentially the Emergent Village and movement."
(Clint Carter)

Driscoll stood up and for an hour and a little more, called out heretics by name. Usually, it’s against my nature to call names and really just speak to the “issues”, which is what Mark had done up until last night. It seems as if the influence of the guys mentioned is simply too great to ignore them as individuals. The guys Driscoll pointed out as teaching false doctrine were Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, and Rob Bell. The first two were gimmes. But for a long time, people have lumped Rob Bell in with guys like Jon Burke and Erwin McManus because of style and creativity. It is simply not true. The theology of Bell is completely off base, and Driscoll really dissected it all last night, likening them to the Ebionites of the early church, and to modern-day paganists. (Derek Brown)

I want to include here some wise words from Brother Maynard (at Bill Kinnon's post, Scornucopia) concerning critique. I am not accusing Mark of using scorn in this case, but it appears that his intent is create distance.

"...there is a clear distinction between scorn and critique. The former is to deride and demote, elevating oneself and the views one holds. It creates distance. The latter is to correct what is seen as an errant viewpoint — it is offered with respect and an openness to dialogue about the matter being critiqued in the hope of finding agreement. It closes distance. One is anti-relational, the other is pro-relational...I'm all for critique aimed at closing distance, bringing understanding, and yes, correction as needed."

In discussions of doctrinal difference, at what point is it valid to accuse brothers in Christ of lacking Scriptural integrity, teaching false doctrine, and to label them heretics and paganists?

JD Greear met personally with Mark to discuss the emerging church. On his blog he describes the 3 streams Mark sees in the emerging church.

About the third stream, Mr Grear says:

"The third stream are those who have compromised some of the essential doctrines of the faith. Driscoll mentioned a number of guys--his friends--whom he said, sadly, now were in this stream. They included Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, and a few others. He cited numerous statements and excerpts from their works that demonstrated that the Gospel has been compromised in their ministries. It's worth at least hearing."

Honestly, if Mark just spelled out doctrinal differences, there is nothing wrong with that. However, it should be done in a manner in which the people hearing the message don't walk away calling the other guy a heretic or false teacher. In other words, if we are going to critique, we should go out of our way to affirm that the brothers we disagree with are as sincere as we are in their love for the Lord and the teaching of Scripture.

Fasten your seat belts folks!

Smug, Spam, Meme, and Links

Feeling a little smug...
because I fixed our TV yesterday. Yep, even though I know absolutely less than nothing about electronic stuff, I fixed it. The skinny Sanyo that we bought a year and half ago quit working last month.

Moving through the stages of grief, we first just kept turning the TV on every once in a while to see if maybe it would work. Then we were angry that it broke so soon (new-fangled crap these days!). We considered the possibility of getting it fixed. Then we started sitting together sullenly in our living room just wishing we could watch our favorite shows or a movie together. Finally, we moved a 20-year-old 12" television in to replace the shiny newer TV. It was really pathetic. Sadly, the nice TV was headed for the trash. We accepted that we were going to have to buy a new one.

In a moment of last-ditch desperation, I took apart the TV, removed 14 screws and took a look inside. One little thingy looked loose, so my assistant snugged it into place. We hooked up the power and voila!!! TV works.

Moral of the story, hmmm....
Don't throw something away without at least trying to fix it.
If you own it, you are allowed to take it apart.
Sometimes you can fix stuff even when you don't know what you are doing.

(Warning: It doesn't always work, and sometimes you can make things worse. It recently did work with my vacuum cleaner and the TV, but not with my washing machine.)


Cuz everybody's doing it!

My apologies to those of you I spammed with this, but I was just passing along the love from Brother Maynard, and I was fortunate enough to discover your email address.

It might be a good thing, and if so, you will be glad that you got in on the ground floor. Speaking of, are you open to a business opportunity? Just kidding.

Discipleship Meme
Erin kindly tagged me this week in a discipleship meme. As I said on her blog, I believe that there is a mutuality of discipleship that happens in the blogosphere as we share and learn from one another. I certainly appreciate the friendship, mentoring, and teaching that I receive from my blog friends.

As I considered which blog people I follow, a few people came to mind. I know these guys will be all 'aw shucks' about being mentioned, but whatever...

I consider Robbymac a brother/mentor. Fortunately, I met him fairly early in my blog life, and I value his steady encouragement and wisdom.

I look to John Frye as a radical pastor/elder. When I see the heart, wisdom, and knowledge of God that is reflected in John's writing, I know that he is someone to listen and learn from.

Wayne Jacobsen isn't someone that I know, even online. However he is someone that I follow. I aspire to absorb his understanding of how to live freely in our relationship with the Father, and to become the kind of a person that inspires that in others.

I am also blessed with real life people who serve as friends, elders, and mentors to me, who speak into my life and model an authentic, vital walk with the Lord.

A Few Links
Brother Maynard has a cool message from Bob Dylan on his blog.

In case you missed it, Robbymac is channeling CS Lewis.

Jeff Greathouse did an awesome post entitled Collapse of the Church Culture.

Alan Knox is doing a not-to-be-missed series this week on elders.

Family Life

Quote from my husband to me this week while talking about the kids:

"There is a lot that happens around here that you don't notice. That's why you're so happy."

What the heck? At least he was laughing when he said it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Warning, this will be a long post, but it will likely be my only post this week, so save it for when you have a few minutes and a cup of coffee.

I wanted these thoughts compiled in one place for my own consideration. It seems like everywhere I turn lately, I am being drawn to incarnation, the idea that we are sent by God.

Again Jesus said, "Peace (shalom, wholeness) be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit." (John 20:21-22)

So how did the Father send Jesus?

"...beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him." (Acts 10:37-38)

And how did Jesus send us?

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

"But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you." (John 16:13-15)

The Holy Spirit is our witness to the resurrection and reign of Christ. He enables us to see and know the kingdom dimension.

John Frye speaks about this in his post I Brought You My Son.

He opens with...

"The church is the presence of Jesus in the world. Let's think about that."

And the heart of what he is saying...

"Oneness with Jesus and the Father...that the world may believe that the Father has sent Jesus. That reality is about us--the church."

A few verses I have added that emphasize what John is saying...

"On that day (when you receive the Spirit) you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you." (John 14:20)

"For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ." (Col.2:9-10)

This post by Jason Zahariades, Defining Incarnational, was an important post for me because it moved my understanding of incarnational beyond the idea of sentness and into the realm of embodiment.

About simply defining incarnational as being sent, Jason says...

"However, I think this is a truncated and perhaps even a distorted view of incarnational. To incarnate means to embody."

A couple of other thoughts from his post...

"...participating in God's mission requires doing so in his character. God's mission is carried forward by his stewards as we embody his character."

"Growing into the likeness of Christ is the core of our participation in God's mission. Without that, missional activity is simply activity."

Jason's thoughts emphasize the importance of God's redemptive process being an increasing reality in our personal lives, that Christ's nature and character be the substance of what we embody. As we pursue the mission of God's reconciliation to the world, it is vital that we also pursue God's restoration to wholeness in our own lives, that His reign increases in the territory of our hearts as well.

It is through embracing the transforming power of His Spirit in our lives that we participate in His divine nature, that we incarnate His life and nature.

"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature." (2Peter1:3-4)

John Santic recently posted a 3-part series on incarnation entitled The Church Moves Into the Neighborhood.

Several good points from his series...

"This must cause the church to move beyond trying to rationalize faith (as it so often does) according to the scientific principles of modernity, and begin to live and breath the resurrection as a result of being in Christ. We must embody the resurrection in historical word and deed following in the footsteps of Jesus."

"To live out of a hermeneutic of love is the invitation knocking on the door of the church in the West."

"Jesus “…is not about ‘soul-making’, the attempt to produce or train disembodied beings for a future disembodied life."

"...the lack of a robust Jesus has dimmed her (the church's) understanding of vocation to a point where discipleship has been neglected."

Picking up on this theme of discipleship is Brother Maynard's post, Monastic Discipleship, Spiritual Formation...and the Jedi.

This post furthered my thinking about how we impart and share the life and nature of Christ with one another and with the lost. We seem to have lost true discipleship in our formulaic and programmatic approaches to learning in the church. (On a side note, I think this is at the root of our questions about what to do with the children.) Brother Maynard suggests a more holistic, organic approach which I believe is deeply connected to our understanding of incarnation.

"We live it out, in all of life — we live our faith. We follow our Master, Christ, after whose pattern we are gradually formed. It’s a lifelong process, so we do not expect a quick-fix but are willing to invest in ourselves and in others, to be involved in their lives. To share our own life with them."

Alan Hirsch's links the idea of embodiment to discipleship in his post Passing the Baton.

"When we try to translate this idea of embodiment in terms of missional strategy as to how we impact people with the Gospel, it will mean that we ourselves must become a substantial representation of what for many outside of Christ is an otherwise rather nebulous theory. This concept is therefore not just existentially significant for an authentic life, and it is that, it is absolutely crucial both for the transmission of the Gospel beyond ourselves, and for the initiating and survival of missional movements. It is critical to the authenticity and vitality of the Church’s mission."

One of the Scriptures he includes that demonstrates this kind of patterning and modeling is I Thessalonians 1:5-6:

"...because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit."

I hope these thoughts from Scripture and the writing of others adds depth and color to your picture of what it means to be incarnational.

A final thought...

I used to skim over the greetings and benedictions in the epistles, but I have recently come to really appreciate them. It seems that the apostles took the opportunity in their greetings to remind people in a few short powerful sentences of who they are and what God's purpose is for them. One of my favorites, which I believe captures the idea of incarnation and embodiment is Ephesians 3:16-19.

So I will close with this prayer for all of us as we seek to truly live incarnational lives.

"I pray that out of his glorious riches
he may strengthen you with power
through his Spirit in your inner being,
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
may have power, together with all the saints,
to grasp how wide and long and high and deep
is the love of Christ,
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—
that you may be filled to the measure
of all the fullness of God