Steve Chalke's message at Mars Hill

Last year, my new year’s resolution was to wake up every morning, spend an adequate time in prayer, read Scripture, read and discard a magazine, read a book, listen to a podcast and among other things, be a better husband, pastor …  So far I’ve managed to wake up every morning.  

I have been listening to a bunch of podcasts and like everyone who loves what is excellent, I’ve been enjoying Rob Bell’s words for a while now.  Though Rob has been on sabbatical (and that’s cool.  Hope he gets rest, enjoys the family, and returns one day refreshed.  Til then, they have had some fantastic speakers), one message that I’ve listened to a couple of times now (one when I was putting together a piece of baby furniture. I probably listened to it twice that afternoon – stupid friggin directions that aren’t clear.  Sorry I digress).  

Back to Steve Chalke:  Among many things, he is the Chair of Stop The Traffik, “a global coalition of over 1000 charities in 60 countries that is working to stop the buying and selling of people.”  Here are some of the stats he shared in the beginning of his message:  There are 27 million people in slavery today. approx. 80% are women.  1 person every 30 seconds is taken into slavery and that’s the equivalent of jumbo jets of people that are taken every day.  

He starts off by telling the story of Telemachus and how his boldness stopped the Roman Gladiator games. (If you grew up in church, you probably heard this story.  If you went to a Christian college within the past few years, one of your teachers showed you Gladiator to create a segue for this.  In fact, if you were a little cooler then your roommate, you probably woke up facing his poster of Telemachus holding his KJV while facing down the gladiators, lions and Cloverfield beast. If he was cooler then you, then it was your poster.  I digress again.) 

Long story short – this is one of the best “all are made in the image of God” messages that also should inspire you to act.  You should listen if you like good things.  To download the mp3, click here.  Also check out stopthetraffik.  It’s a great looking site with a heart-breaking stuff.

Tim Keller interviewed by Christianity Today

Well who doesn’t love Tim Keller?  Keller is probably the most confident speaker that I still liked after listening to him.  Not sure what it is, but I get him.  Though I wish he appreciated some of the values of the emergent conversation, I see his some of his values as almost parallels (You would expect someone like me to say that wouldn’t you?).

Anyway, he was interviewed on Christianity Today’s site and here are some highlights.  Full article here.

Also check out his new book The Prodigal God.  (Yep, that’s two this year.  He’s suddenly like Ryan Adams or something).

Are the doubts that believers face the same as the doubts that unbelievers face?

It’s your society that gives you the doubts. If you go to the Middle East and ask people what makes Christianity implausible, they’re not going to say, “Because there can’t be one true religion.” They’re going to say, “Because of how oppressive America has been as a Christian nation, and if you look at their culture, it’s lascivious and debauched.”

If you ask Americans, “What makes Christianity implausible to you?” they’re not going to say, “Your popular culture is filled with sex and violence.” They will say, “How could there be one true religion?” …

… I do think a lot of Christians — because they don’t understand the grace narrative — get out into the world and find it very tough to navigate. I think it’s because they don’t understand the gospel, not because they can’t answer all the theological questions.


You reject marketing apologetics like, “Christianity is better than the alternatives, so choose Christianity.” Why?

Marketing is about felt needs. You find the need and then you say Christianity will meet that need. You have to adapt to people’s questions. And if people are asking a question, you want to show how Jesus is the answer. But at a certain point, you have to go past their question to the other things that Christianity says. Otherwise you’re just scratching where they itch. So marketing is showing how Christianity meets the need, and I think the gospel is showing how Christianity is the truth.

C. S. Lewis says somewhere not to believe in Christianity because it’s relevant or exciting or personally satisfying. Believe it because it’s true. And if it’s true, it eventually will be relevant, exciting, and personally satisfying. But there will be many times when it’s not relevant, exciting, and personally satisfying. To be a Christian is going to be very, very hard. So unless you come to it simply because it’s really the truth, you really won’t live the Christian life, and you won’t get to the excitement and to the relevance and all that other stuff.

Many Christians say that the rationality of Christians’ faith is not the obstacle for unbelievers; they reject Christianity because of what they see as bad behavior and toxic attitudes.

There are always three reasons people believe or disbelieve: the intellectual, the personal, and the social… 


There’s more like why he doesn’t include intelligent design as an argument from creation and more cultural insight. 



Go to the Church Basement Road Show

Calamity has fallen upon me.  For quite some time now, I’ve been living in disappointment.  Though this arguably the best days of my life (having adopted Nathan and watching my wife enjoy motherhood while I notify her when the baby is crying.  Like many dads, I’m pretty useless).  Obviously these and many more things give me joy.

But unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the Church Basement Road Show since our Sr. high youth and I will be in New Orleans.  (Yes, I checked to see if we would be in New Orleans at the same time but to no avail.I knew since they announced it but was hoping there would be some kind of delay or their RV would break down and would they would reschedule in the fall.  Who knows maybe one of them will pull a Jessica or Ashlee Simpson and get mono or pregnant or something and then they’ll reschedule.  

Anyway, you should check it out.  Here’s the gist:
Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones and Mark Scadrette are great friends and all released books this year.  And they are friends who have ideas and actually have the uhh, umm, courage (we’ll keep this pg-rated) to implement them.  And so, they are disguising themselves as 1908 revivial evangelists and hitting the road in an RV.  It’s only $10 but if you love Jesus you’ll give $20, you should buy all their books and support the good cause.  And don’t you dare buy Coldplay tickets and not go to this.  God is watching (and I’m trying to as well.)

Look for Thomas from Everyday Liturgy to blog about it.  He’s so friggin lucky.  If you are in the North Jersey, NY York, Philly, here’s the day that will probably change your life August, 1st (Friday) at  Marble Collegiate Church 1 W 29th St., New YorkNY 10001 (212) 686-2770 

Click here for the other dates

For more info here’s the link Church Basement Roadshow.  

If you have a sense of humor and tend to get things that intelligent and funny people say and do, you will enjoy this. 


Don't tell Hauerwas, but I preached a Father's Day Sermon

So yesterday was my first Father’s Day.  It felt great though I am still trying to wrap my head around it.  Truth be told, I’ve been so happy and blessed every since we got Nathan that Father’s Day was great and all, but today feels just as good as Saturday did.

I did get to preach yesterday too and that felt good.  Not good in the performing sense but good in the I feel like the Lord is using me to some extent sense.  Also the congregation seems to have really warmed up to me this past year and I feel that there’s a better connection.  

My friend, Evan, reminded of Stanley Hauweras’ shock value line of American flags, mother’s day sermons, and whatever else as being non-Christian things and not being acceptable in churches.  If you don’t know Hauerwas, he’s the intelligent man’s version of Tony Campolo, only less spiritual (yes, I’m kidding.  I don’t know even know what ‘being spiritual’ means).  

So I gave a Father’s Day sermon that I said was directed to everyone but to the men first.  I remember hearing that these types of sermons leave some feeling isolated but I think that’s kinda short-sighted.  If we come to worship and not just to hear a sermon as being the focal point, then I think the sermon can be topical and specific from time to time because whoever enters the sanctuary should have the intent of worshipping God first, and having Him “speak to you” as secondary.  

I think of all the times I heard sermons and illustrations relating to marriage before I was married as a good thing.  I like hearing about the Proverbs 31 woman (from time to time) because I think she’s great.  Though I don’t plan on dying of old age soon, some of the messages that are geared towards older people are sometimes memorable to me because chances are if I live long enough, I’ll get old too.  (yes, I am aware of what I just wrote, but I am trying to be funny.  I’ll try harder).  I personally think that you can be blessed from pretty much almost any sermon, even if the guy sucks at his delivery.  If he (or even she!) is being faithful to their calling, then I must be faithful not only as a listener, but as a worshipper.

Next Challenges in Theology & Praxis for the Missional Church

On October 10, 2008, Biblical Sem will be host: Next Challenges in Theology & Praxis for the Missional Church, which will serve as the Installation Ceremony – John R. Franke as the Lester and Kay Clemens Professor in Missional Theology.

Speakers will be Brian McLaren, Scot McKnight, Tim Keel.

Hey, i don’t care if they are installing energy efficient light bulbs, I’m thrilled my school is doing this.  Seriously, I’m also happy that a guy like John Franke is being celebrated.  A good man who loves God.  His only sin is that he likes the Vikings.  May God have mercy on us all.

Here’s what I know:

Noon – Registration
1:00 – 1:50 p.m. – Plenary session, Q & A with Scot McKnight
2:00 – 2:45 p.m. – Parallel sessions
2:45 – 3:15 p.m. – Snack break
3:15 – 4:00 p.m. – Parallel sessions
4:00 – 4:50 p.m. – Plenary session, Q & A with Tim Keel

5:00 – 6:30 p.m. – Reception with refreshments 

6:30 – 9:00 p.m. – Formal installation ceremony

David Dunbar

Darrell Guder 
Brian McLaren “An Epistemology of Love”
John Franke 

Reflecting on McLuhan's "message is the medium" (and Hipps)

I am taking an intensive class through Biblical called “Ministry and Media”.  It’s being taught by Pastor Tim Lucas from Liquid Church and we are encouraged to blog of course.

One of the books we are reading and posting feedback on our class site is The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture by Shane Hipps (who was at Fermi’s Q Conference – fantastic).

This was the assignment that we were to respond to:
“Marshal McLuhan famously observed, “The medium is the message.”  Yet, a lot of evangelicals claim media is value neutral.  Do you think media affects us as powerfully as Hipps suggests?  Or do you think it is truly neutral?  Give some examples of ways media has impacted you powerfully (for good or for ill).  In a well-thought out paragraph, show your interaction with the text we’re reading!”

Here was my response:

Like everyone, I agree with McLuhan and love the idea. Though it’s rare that I would defend an established evangelical opinion, especially one concerning the view on technology, I’d like to unpack this a little. Evangelicals are scared to death of watering down the message. If they believed in tattoos, they’d get Rev. 22:18-19 inked (“If anyone adds anything [to this book] … God will add to him the plagues ….”). Kidding (sorta) but our modern “interpretation” puts a great deal of fear in us that results in guarding the message. There is almost a theological reason to disagree with McLuhan.

In a sermon I preached this Mother’s Day, I said something to the effect of “The Gospel is changing”. I learned quickly that the “bolts of lightening” were not electric at all but were pews being thrown from the balcony. “I said, wait the resurrection is still true but the way my parents understood the Gospel is different then how I understand it … which is different then how my child(ren) will understand it … Jesus still died and was raised BUT understanding that is different….”. As they elderly women dismounted from the projection screen that they partially tore off, I tried to use the example that Rob Bell has regarding the idea of having a “personal relationship with God”. He reminds us that it is a new idea to the church, it’s an invention from this century’s evangelical movement. This revelation of course resulted in the biggest offering ever collected …

This based on a true story account did not end in tragedy because for many of them, the message was still in tact. Surprisingly, I did receive several positive comments from the “Silent” Generation because they saw their grandchildren in these thoughts.

Like everyone’s above comments, aside from the periodic data loss, I have had a fantastic experience with media and technology. Ipods, podcasts, ezines, blogs, have helped me grow spiritually in addition to the written word (and frankly with no help from the televangelists. But may those who are blessed by it be blessed by it). Hipps makes mention of the local Ft. Worth pastor who insisted the spiritually successful have a daily quiet time with the Lord, part of my normal morning ritual includes listening to sermons via podcasts as I am applying deodorant and hair gel. And though I’m not spiritually successful and couldn’t imagine making such a legalistic statement, I feel what that guy was trying to say.