Seattle: Thursday

Okay, it's VERY late.  So this will be very short.  I may expand on some stuff later, and I don't claim to be able to make sense of stuff so late.

Smokin' guns, Tim Keller just rocked.  I'll explain this talk a bit, but the rest will be brief. 

Keller's third and last session was up first this morning, "Doing Justice."  Geez.  A friend said it was the highlight of the conference.  It certainly was one of the most important talks I've ever heard on ministry.  Keller described injustice as that which damages the fabric of shalom.  Shalom is the way things ought to be.  When the body is healthy, it has shalom.  All bits and pieces are harmonious.  So with culture, as the bits and pieces do well together, there is cultural/city/neighborhood shalom.  But when that fabric is damaged (as it always and often is) then we do justice, or reweave shalom.

Keller said that power has to be given to others if we are going to do anything good.  Our job is to enable flourishing.  We are born in certain circumstances we didn't look to be in.  People haven't asked to be where they are.  And Christians should give away power to those who don't have it as the work of justice.  Keller said that biblical righteousness is about being willing to disadvantage yourself for the advantage of the community.  His question for us: Does your city rejoice that your church is there?  If they don't then we aren't working justice.

Matt Chandler of The Village Church of Dallas was next.  I first heard Matt in Dallas last summer at Acts29, and he was great.  But today, it may have been the most important message I've heard.  I said Darrin Patrick's message was really good for me, and Matt's was like picking up where Darrin left off and pressing even harder toward Jesus.  I wrote in my notes: "I would gladly let Matt start again and say it all over again."  It was that good.

Eric Mason talked about reaching the hip-hop generation.  Good, solid stuff.  We heard a couple of rap songs.  Very interesting on contextualization.

Mark Driscoll batted clean-up by talking about the Gospel, the Cross, and mostly about penal substitution.  It was a "hot" talk, and he was pretty fired up.  Good, biblical stuff.

Last things...We were able to hang at the Driscoll house for 1 1/2 hours tonight with about a dozen other guys.  The conference audio should be online in a couple of weeks.  And please pray for our trip back.  We fly out at 2:30 central time.  It has been a great, great trip but we really miss our kids.

Thorn Asks, What Does God Want?

Joe Thorn starts a four parter on "What Does God Want?"  (Someone needs to tell Joe that God probably wants more than Joe can write in four posts, but Joe is just a simple guy after all.)  In part one he deals with some spiritual disciplines in light of the values Micah 6:8. 

I am not pitting spiritual disciplines against these values, but I ampitting the narrow, hyper-personalized approach to spirituality against what God desires for us. When Bible study, prayer and fellowship for the purpose of personal, spiritual strength are our greatest emphases we are missing the point. What God requires of us is not closet spirituality, but public spirituality.

I'm quite certain that nearly no one will disagree with Thorn on this, but in practice most of us are guilty of "closet spirituality."  Too often our pride will keep us from admitting it.  I've been a member at churches where the first application point every week was, "So first of all we need to read our Bible's more."  Aren't we are known by the fruit we produce?  It's very easy to see that the American church looks more like Job's counselors than justice and mercy workers.

Derek Webb-Donald Miller Chat

PiercingDon't miss the Derek Webb and Donald Miller online chat tomorrow night. 

Joining the conversation is a sure ticket to becoming a theological liberal repackaged with a goatee.  If you are a girl, it will take a pretty significant piercing to equal goatee status.  Yes!  You can be a liberal too!  Try throwing something into your eyebrow, tongue, nose, or lower lip.  You didn't know liberalism was this easy, did you?  Lucky I'm here for you.

Keller: Ministry in Global Cities Pt. III

Tim Keller continues his thoughts on ministry in world cities with his newly released article "Ministry in the New Global Culture of Major City-Centers Part III."

City-center churches should have as equal as possible emphases on: a)welcoming, attracting, and engaging secular/non-Christian people; b) character change through deep community and small groups; c) holistically serving the city (and especially the poor) in both word and deed; d) producing cultural leaders who integrate faith and work in society; and e) routinely multiplying itself into new churches with the same vision. There are many churches that major on one or two of these but the breadth, balance, and blend of these commitments is rare in a church. Nevertheless, this balance is crucial for ministry in city centers.

Here are the links to Part I and Part II, and Part IV is coming soon.  Also stop by my Tim Keller Resource page.

Emergent, Jews and Justice

It seems Emergent (the organization) is muddling the Christocentric nature of Kingdom work (see Doug Pagitt's blog as well).  In other words, it looks like Emergent (Tony Jones, Brian McLaren, et al) is treating collaboration on social justice issues between Jews and Christians as equally valid Kingdom work.  Doesn't that give social justice primacy over faith in Christ so that Kingdom work can be done without faith in Christ?  Or is this worse in that Emergent is attributing spiritual life to both groups?

If we are talking about working together to help those who can't help themselves instead of sticking to the same political routes, that's fine.  But it seems much worse than that.  Read some excerpts.

Synagogue 3000 (S3K) and Emergent have announced a ground-breaking meeting to connect Jewish and Christian leaders who are experimenting with innovative congregations and trying to push beyond the traditional categories of "left" and "right." This will be the first conversation that brings them together to focus on the enterprise of building next-generation institutions. 


S3K Senior Fellow Lawrence A. Hoffman, (_Rethinking Synagogues: A New Vocabulary for Congregational Life_, forthcoming 2006) stressed the importance of building committed religious identity across faith lines. "We inhabit an epic moment," he said, "nothing short of a genuine spiritual awakening. It offers us an opportunity unique to all of human history: a chance for Jews and Christians to do God's work together, not just locally, but nationally, community by community, in shared witness to our two respective faiths."

Brian McLaren...

"We have so much common ground on so many levels...We face similar problems in the present, we have common hopes for the future, and we draw from shared resources in our heritage. I'm thrilled with the possibility of developing friendship and collaboration in ways that help God's dreams come true for our synagogues, churches, and world."

Tony Jones...

"As emerging Christian leaders have been pushing through the polarities of left and right in an effort to find a new, third way, we've been desperate to find partners for that quest," he said. "It's with great joy and promise that we partner with the leaders of S3K to talk about the future and God's Kingdom."

Without a bunch of explanation for how this isn't what it seems to be, I reckon this to be very bad news.

(HT: Mike Noakes)


Of all the horrible things happening in the wake of Katrina, the latest is mayhem and chaos.  While the water is no longer rising, tensions are. 

As an American who is used to having a policeman stop by within 5 minutes if someone suspicious is around, New Orleans must be going through something nearly unthinkable for many of us as a sense of lawlessness abounds.

Update 2 - updating page on latest info

Moore: Fathering the Fatherless

Russ Moore at Southern Seminary has written a short piece on the adoption of Russian orphans: Russia's Orphans and the Father of the Fatherless.  Russ and his wife Maria have two adopted children from Russia.

Russian national leaders are concerned with foreigners adopting their children and may stop the practice, though it would only encourage institutionalizing orphans.  Russ wants something better because God wants something better.  Here's a portion of the article...

The Russian orphanage where my wife and I found our sons, then Maxim and Sergei, was the most horrifying place I have ever been. Its sights and smells and sounds come back to me every day. But, even more so, before my mind's eye every day are the faces of the children we couldn't adopt. Until now, my hope has been that Christians from America, Canada, Germany, France or somewhere may have adopted them, to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. If the anti-adoption Russians get their way, I fear that these children will be sentenced to institutions, never to find families.

The plight of Russia’s orphans ought to spur American Christians to prayer and to action -- not only for Russian children but for abandoned children across the globe. What if Southern Baptist pastors encouraged, from the pulpit, families to adopt orphans domestically or from across the sea? What if older, more affluent Southern Baptist couples pooled money for young families who wish to adopt, but cannot afford the seemingly astronomical costs?

Yesterday my now four year-old Benjamin walked up and hugged my leg, saying to me (in the little southern accent he picked up from us): "I'm glad you're my daddy, and I'm glad I'm your son." I have learned more about the Gospel of Jesus Christ from such statements than from all my studies in systematic theology. Before I met these two, I “knew” all about what it means to have a new name in Christ, a new household, a new identity, new brothers and sisters. But I knew so very little about these things.