On our way to New Orleans.

Blogging will be a little suspended (what else is new?) while I’m away with some of our students.  Evan from mynamesarepromiseandpeace and some of his students are with us too.


We’re going to the Desperation Student Conference in Birmingham, AL first, then to NOLA to help with a local ministry called The Gathering Community Center.

A lot to be said here but all is good and may we be faithful with the opportunities the Lord has given us.

Looking forward to it.

Faith, Finding Meaning in Tragedies and Superstition Part 2

Like many, I enjoy watching Sportscenter.  Every so often, they zoom in an athlete who is wearing a worn hat or old socks and give the statistic that validates him.  And of course, how we can we discuss this without the classic facial hair superstition?  By the way, Giambi, now that you’re slumping again, how about we see what happens when we shave the stache?

Often I wonder how this looks like in the church.  Do pastors feel they preach better with suits or without?  What color suit?  What color sneakers?  Do we youth pastors we feel we get better discipleship in our ministry when our hair is gelled, spiked, afro-ed , or clean-shaven?  Absurd, no?

As it works out from my perception, Christians use a different kind of superstition in their Christianese language.  It’s much more pragmatic.   The first post was really about the topic I am working on in my head.  Are some Christians led by superstition instead of the leading of the Holy Spirit.  

Referring back to the tragedies of the first post, I see that we as believers, have a tendency to either be trite or unintentional create lessons that are more superstitious.  I remember after Sept. 11th, the many who said, it could have been so much worse, praise God for His mercy.  Which is a really insensitive thing to say in general and unfair to God Himself, as it speaks too much on his behalf but that’s another story.  But after Sept. 11th, many started saying things like, “I don’t rush for the train anymore.  Ya never know what the Lord is protecting you from.”  What if the bus/train/cab you get on is the one with the suicide bomber? Next we’ll be rushing …  

To me, these types of things operate more like superstitions then actual faith.  And many times they are as arbitrary  as Giambi’s stache.  More to say soon.

Faith, Finding Meaning in Tragedies and Superstition – Part 1

Recently I heard a terribly tragic story of a pastor and his son who died in a plane crash.  We tend to ask why in times like these.   Upon hearing the story, some believed the devil crashed the plane since he was a good man of God and one may have assumed that there was sin in his life and God punished him for it.   

Personally, I assume that he indeed was a sinner saved by grace and was in pursuit of the will of God but either he lost control of the plane in the weather or his plane failed him.  To me, either way, God is sovereign.  However, the superstition lies in the way this tragedy is discussed. 

Should we pray for safety?  Well, our life is a but a vapor, no.  On the other hand, God cares for every hair on our head therefore our safety is certainly a concern to Him, so yes.  Contradiction?  No.  Paradox?  Yes.  What’s the difference?  Well, the short answer is that God is sovereign. [Read more…]

What happens when you Google "Cuil"

So I was talking to one of the faithful readers out there when he told me about the new Cuil search engine.  Like everybody, I couldn’t figure out how to spell it so I Googled it.  Couldn’t find it – when search engines can’t find each other then I guess we don’t have enough of them.  So I clicked on “News” and there it was. And when I clicked this was the first article I saw.  

remainder of article here.


Do you like music, what about free music that isn't lame?

Last year Derek Webb made available She Must and Shall Go Free for free on his website.  Many had already purchased it but many loved telling non-fans of the great deal.  Free music confirms to your friends that the musician you are recommending is not pretentious.  So this week, I received an email from Sandra McKracken’s site (Derek’s wife) of a number of albums being available.  Click here and enjoy. 

(sorry about the size, when I learn how to blog, I’ll do better).

Listening to Last Week’s Sermon

If you know me, you may have heard me say that one of the better lessons I’ve learned is listening to a sermon is an act of worship. This attitude does many things and here are a few: a worshipful heart is open to the Holy Spirit, being less critical, and being less focused on the preacher and more sensitive to the teaching behind it. Confession: I sometimes get frustrated when people walk out of a sanctuary complaining. Friends, it’s not a movie theater, not just because the preacher isn’t making 20 million either.

Anyway, last week I head a fantastic sermon on vanity. Not remembering the last time I heard one on that subject, I was very interested. I thought the preacher did a fantastic job balancing the text, the sociology, various illustrations and the practice. Maybe blogging on how I was blessed by a sermon is a little vain in of itself but whatever, there’s so much goodness and depth in so many sermons. May we be open to them.

Are Great Adventure Trips Missional?

Yes they are! There are certain rides like Kingda Ka that are very much a spiritual experience. The speed, the anticipation, the relief that you are still alive – praise Jesus. Ever get to the top of a ride like Nitro (which is a fun stand-up roller coaster) and pray that everyone is doing their job? Similar to praying for the pilot and his family and confessing unconfessed sin upon take off, I am praying for the 17 year old operating the controls, the maintenance guy in charge of seat restraints and praying that the team of engineers are all happily married with well-adjusted children being and being fairly compensated.

In fact, the next time a roller coaster gets retired, I’m going to suggest to our elder board that we consider purchasing it and throwing it in the back of the church. Not so much to thrill teen-agers but to convict those older. Imagine sending up that guy who complains after every worship service or the “just a suggestion” lady (that suggests that you were a different person – LOL). We could strap them in, play sermons of kindness, edification, complaining, giving! And you don’t get off the ride until you repent (Now that’s a suggestion). Truth be told, that’s just where some people are at and I find it fun to joke about (You don’t expect me to take it too seriously do you? And this is a blog not Christianity Today).

But over to my context, I enjoy taking our students to things like G.A. One reason is because I am normal (somewhat) and I like having a good time. Among my concerns and frustrations with some parts of student ministry is this cool, fun Jesus thing. I guess that’s really a different type of post but here’s the issue with Great Adventure. These trips of become so cliché. We ask ourselves, how can a student ministry NOT go to an amusement park? It’s like a church without a cross in the sanctuary. Has anyone heard of such a thing? Yes in fact, we have. And there are many successful student ministries that have given up on trying to entertain their students and have focused more on ministering to them. And many more that are trying to find the balance in between (like ours).

What I like about trips like these is standing in line, talking (except when it’s ridiculously hot, which it wasn’t yesterday), getting to know students and leaders. Truth be told, I do feel closer to our students after these types of trips. Not really sure that counts as being missional though. Perhaps we should pick up the trash, free the dolphins and tigers, and evaluate their energy efficiency. But spending time conversing in the lines is better then turning kids loose in the park and deluding ourselves into thinking that this is youth ministry.

Is VBS Missional?

A couple weeks ago, we had our Vacation Bible School (VBS) at our church.  We did Group’s Power Lab – haha!  (you’d have to be there to get that).  For years I’ve been wondering the benefit of programs like VBS.  We all have stories of places that have done it wrong or made a mess of it.  That’s to be expected since there are literally thousands of churches that do it across our country and many more thousands throughout the world.  Forget those stories for a couple of moments.

If VBS didn’t exist, I think it would be something that pastors and church people would dream about.  Again, forget you know this thing called Vacation Bible School.  Imagine a week of having hundred or two kids running through your church hallways.  Imagine parents calling your church months before the summer explaining that they are planning their vacations around this week.  Imagine that many of them are not from your church.  Imagine each year many of your church kids further their understanding of the Gospel and many un-churched kids hear the Gospel (and many accept Jesus).  Imagine people throughout your congregation serving for a week inside your church.  In fact, some of them take vacation time to do this.  You could imagine so much more but you get the point.

If you are fellow frustrated/jaded skeptic/critic who loves God and Church so much and you just want more you probably share some of my annoyances.  For instance, are some VBS programs geared more towards the god of fun then the God of Love?  Yes.  Do we have some people that have no right working with children (not because they are abusive but because they do not have the foggiest concept of children’s ministry)?  Yes again.  Do some people (church and non-church) use VBS as free day care?  Yes but that’s not the worst thing ever is it?  (I mean don’t millions use Sunday Morning for things other then worship?  It’s not right of course, but we don’t cancel Sunday Morning Services do we?)

I think what I’ve been appreciating is the potential of this VBS that we sometimes take for granted.  We need to deconstruct it, reconstruct it and build upon it.  In many churches, VBS is the most missional event that happens all year.  

Modern Slavery Stats from Good Magazine.

I enjoy going to Border’s and checking out some of the magazines.  One that has caught my interest as of late and now considering purchasing a subscription has been “Good Magazine”  (Subscription – 1 year- 6 issues -$20.)

Anyway, they had a couple pages in their “Transparency” section dedicated to some of the world’s problems (Driving, Lobbyists, Oil.   Among them was modern slavery.  Here are some of the stats from Human Trafficking; U.S. Department and A Crime so Monstrous Face to Face with Modern Day Slavery, Free the Slaves, United Nations Global Initiative to Fight.  They post a considerable amount of content from the magazine on their site.  You can also look at it here.

“Slavery – includes both traditional slaves and bonded workers who are not allowed to work off their debts”

The average cost of a slave is $90. – The same price as a Los Angeles Lakers ticket.

A slave is imported into the U.S. every 30 minutes.  – The same time it takes to watch a rerun of Seinfeld.

50 percent of slaves in the U.S. are engaged in the commercial sex industry.  

50 percent of slaves in the U.S. work in agriculture, manufacturing, or domestic work.  

Right now, the number of enslaved people worldwide is estimated to be 27,000,000

14,500-17,500 slaves are bought into the U.S. annually.

Hundred of thousands of slaves are trafficked to Europe and Eurasia every year.

920,000 people are enslaved in Latin America and the Caribbean.

1,300,000 people are enslaved in Africa and the Middle East.

24,000,000 people are enslaved in Asia.”

Like many I’m burdened as I read these things.  Prayer, general reading, one time-contributions, promoting awareness, and signing petitions keep me engaged in the subject (and many important ones like these) but I am in search of the next step.  As far as the point of this post, you may at least know a little more.

Emergent Mid-Atlantic Gathering with Pete Rollins

Hey friends.

You will see this post pretty often on here regarding the Emergent Mid-Atlantic Gathering with Pete Rollins.

Below is taken from the ev site:

“Emergent Mid-Atlantic—the regional grouping of cohorts in New York, New Jersey, and Eastern Pennsylvania—is hosting the first-ever Emergent Mid-Atlantic Conference, November 7-8, 2008, at the Church of the Holy Trinity Rittenhouse Square. Starting Friday evening, one and all can come to spend time hearing from our speaker Pete Rollins and engaging in our conversation.

The Emergent Mid-Atlantic Conference:
A Humble yet Comprehensive Attempt 
at Kingdom Building

When: November 7-8, 2008
Where: Church of the Holy Trinity Rittenhouse Square(Philadelphia, PA)
Who: Everyone, but especially Pete Rollins
Why: To participate in a humble yet comprehensive attempt at Kingdom building.

More information can be obtained atwww.emergentmidatlantic.com or by e-mailingemergentma@gmail.com