If you haven't found it yet, you need to head over to the Criswell Journal site and check out their new issue on the Emerging Church. You can read an interview with Brian McLaren and Mark Driscoll's article "A Pastoral Perspective on the Emergent Church." Kudos to Criswell guys like Alan Streett and Denny Burk who obviously know how to draw a crowd to a theological journal site. Well done, and here's to thoughtful conversation on the Gospel.
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 am pitting 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.
Time for some music recommendations. I'm enjoying some good stuff right now. I'm not going to explain them in much detail, but I hope you will go hear some clips on iTunes or Amazon.
Dusted (I picked this quote because I'm not sure I understand it, but it sounds cool): Their arrangements for brass and strings etch their more flashy pop numbers with extra energy, but the diluted pearl-drop textures of their slower songs hint at the glories of swooning near-immobilization. These are suggestive songs, strung out along the horizon.
Neumu: ...it seems that BRMC's aim here is a realignment of ideals, replacing the full-throttle roar of underground rock with a more contemplative, soulful canon of songs. And even if what is ultimately revealed is one set of self-conscious rock shapes being superseded by another, it still sounds pretty good.
Silversun Pickups - Pikul: This EP was released to combat the poor bootleg music from this albumless LA band. It's one of my most consistent listens right now. It contains a Smashing Pumpkins vibe, but it so much more than that.
Static Multimedia: The blandness of today’s indie rock is in dire need of a blowout the likes of which Silversun Pickups provide bountifully. With Pikul, the band has emerged as one of the potential leaders of the form’s future and not a moment too soon. Tired of the lilting orchestrations of today’s indie music scene? If so, Silversun Pickups is your cure all.
The Doves - Some Cities: It took a little bit for me to get used to their sound, but now I love it. I found it worth the effort. This CD isn't for everyone (that spot is saved for William Hung), but where it fits it fits well.
Drowned in Sound: All the time...there’s mournfulness, a gravitas that offers recourse to glib coffee table CD adjustment. Doves require an emotional investment. Doubtless to say, it’s a rewarding, if draining one. Songs like the sparse, gentle ‘Someday Soon’ and the ghostly lullaby of ‘Shadows of Salford’ are remorseless yet engrossing offerings; a hard shell with a damaged centre.
I love the TV show "24." Love it. My wife and I watch it every week without fail. So I had to steal these "Jack Bauer facts" from Jonathan Herron and share them with you. Great stuff.
* Jack Bauer's calendar goes from March 31st to April 2nd; no one fools Jack Bauer.
* If everyone on 24 followed Jack's instructions, it would be called 12.
* If you wake up in the morning, it's because Jack Bauer spared your life.
* Superman wears Jack Bauer pajamas.
* There have been no terrorist attacks in the United States since Jack Bauer appeared on television.
* When someone asks Jack Bauer how his day is going, Jack replies, "Previously on 24..."
* Jack Bauer doesn't speak any foreign languages, but he can make any foreigner speak English in a matter of minutes.
* When Google doesn't know the answer, it asks Jack Bauer for help.
A godly friend once asked me an important question: “What do you want to be known for?” I responded that solid theology and effective church planting were the things that I cared most about and wanted to be known for. He kindly said that my reputation was growing as a guy with good theology, a bad temper, and a foul mouth. This is not what I want to be known for. And after listening to the concerns of the board members of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network that I lead, and of some of the elders and deacons at Mars Hill Church that I pastor, I have come to see that my comments were sinful and in poor taste. Therefore, I am publicly asking for forgiveness from both Brian and Doug because I was wrong for attacking them personally and I was wrong for the way in which I confronted positions with which I still disagree. I also ask forgiveness from those who were justifiably offended at the way I chose to address the disagreement. I pray that you will accept this posting as a genuine act of repentance for my sin.
I made a few suggestions for people striving to be missional over at MBB. It's just a starting place and mostly a call for missional fellowships (nothing too profound here), but it's a start.
I very rarely pimp new blogs I find, but this one could be pretty cool. Check out MereMission. It's a group blog that is for "practical exploration of missional theology."
I've started a new habit. Every week I spend most of my time on sermon prep on Friday and Saturday. On Saturday evening, when my preparations are done, I'm reading for an hour on the Gospel, the Cross, or the life and work of Jesus. I find as I finish my preparation it really helps me to focus on the point of every biblical passage, the Gospel.
I'm starting by rereading John Stott's The Cross of Christ, which I read in seminary and loved.
I've written on an important issue for SBC'rs, especially younger leaders, over at Missional Baptist Blog. My post is called "Churches Louder Than Blogs."
It's 1:02am and once again I'm up late because God has been working on me. This is getting to be a habit. I'm going through a lot of soul searching these last few months and especially these last few weeks. I regularly feel compelled to read Scripture, and not just like having a 'quiet time,' but really searching and meditating beyond my normal reading. I'm also praying differently. I'm listening more. I'm waiting more. I'm quiet more. I don't say any of that to say I'm doing something great spiritually. I've found that the more I'm quiet and listen, the more I sense my own pride and sin and cluttered mind and life.
Most of my thoughts and meditations have been on the Gospel. And the more I meditate on the Gospel (in full, or in part) the more I realize how much of the Gospel I miss in Scripture for my idolatry over principles. I can't explain this idea well yet, and please don't push me on it, but I'm growing more convinced that the pragmatics we teach and try to live are less about Scripture and more feeding our need to accomplish our own sanctification.
Now I'm not denying that the Scriptures are thoroughly practical. They certainly are. But it's so easy to make the practical seem exciting and the Gospel to seem too basic and elementary. It's easier to feel the excitement of the mission more than the excitement of hearing again the Gospel that calls us to mission.
Anyway, that's what my mind has been chewing on. A HUGE help in this meditation has been the sermons of Tim Keller. Yeah, I know, I talk about Keller a lot. But if there is anything I can say with certainty about Keller, it's this: when I hear Keller I hear the Gospel and not Keller. And whatever issue he is dealing with, he is always dealing primarily with the Gospel.
Yeah, I know this seems elementary. But I always find my way to preach sermons that include the Gospel rather than being the Gospel. When I hear sermons I tend to try to extract practicals rather than know Jesus. It's an enticing trap.
So, in that vein, I highly recommend Tim Keller's sermon on Luke 10: Messengers. I've listened to it a couple of times in the last few weeks, and it's one of the best examples I know of to show how to talk about something practical (our mission) while really just feeding us the Gospel. Enjoy.
Joe Thorn has pulled out his 9th Commandment trump card on some of the chatter about so-called "liberals." Sounds like this has a few Blue Like Jazz reviewers names all over it. Here's a teaser, but don't miss the whole thing...
Recently some men have been accused of being “liberal” theologians. Vague generalizations are being made, people are not quoted, sound argument is not made, but naked assertions and accusations are released in an effort to warn others to stay away. “That guy is a liberal in evangelical clothing!” My trouble is that in some cases these accusations amount to unrighteous distortions of the truth. And I have to say, I am grieved.
Am I the only one who’s going to say it? This is sin. Having a platform or a big mouth necessitates responsibility, clarity and charity. What I have seen lately is at best zeal without knowledge, or worse it is lying. Either way, it breaks the ninth and hurts the church.
The carelessness of it all amazes me. Watson explains that men who would never steal another’s goods don’t think twice about robbing a man of his reputation.
The elders at Mars Hill Church, which I founded in 1996, have always been a big-hearted, kingdom-minded team of godly men who have given over 10 percent of our general budget to help church planters since our inception. Now, they have also agreed to give even more money to serve the greater church by launching The Resurgence ministry. This includes paying for the development of a massive website that will include thousands of free articles, audio and video podcasts, film reviews, music reviews, book reviews, and more. It also includes freeing up one of our elders, Gary Shavey, to serve as director of The Resurgence, and recently hiring Jon Krombein as the full-time content manager for the forthcoming website.
To kick The Resurgence off with a bang, we will launch the new website this spring, Zondervan will release my next book Confessions of a Reformission Rev.: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church in early May, and we will be hosting the Reform & Resurge Conference 2006 at Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Below I’ll introduce each of the main speakers and give some reasons why you will not want to miss this event.
I will tell you plainly that I believe City Church, under God’s grace and provision, has an incredible future. The way these pastors and people interact with the religious and civic leaders of this city, the way they continue to humbly learn and move toward a clearer missional vision, and the way they embrace and accept all people incarnationally, deeply impress me. If there is to be a strong and vibrant witness to Christ in the cities of America in the coming decades, especially among the rising young population that is flocking into many of our major cities, then I believe City Church San Francisco will be a major part of that kingdom growth. I look forward to seeing how God uses the friendships I enjoyed this weekend at City Church for the wider growth of Christ’s church in North America. This kind of weekend is what I live for in terms of my own call to ministry.
This explanation of the Gospel is from CCSF's site, and I've heard it from Tim Keller before...
The gospel is:
- you are more flawed and lost than you ever dared believe, yet
- you can be more accepted and loved than you ever dared hope at the same time, because Jesus Christ lived and died in your place.
Unwise use of publicity, interviews and relationship to the media.
As a result of a series of unpleasant experiences, Redeemer Presbyterian Church has forged the following media policy:
We do not provide interviews or participate in stories; we do not desire publicity that will raise our profile. This policy exists for these reasons:
1. Anything that raises Redeemer's profile pulls Christians out of their own churches to visit or join us. This is a bad neighbor policy; the City needs many different churches, not one big mega-church, something we are going to great pains to avoid becoming.
2. If Redeemer becomes a “Christian tourist destination," our limited seating will be filled with those who already believe in Jesus, leaving no room for genuine seekers. We are already turning people away at one service, and seating is tight at others. Therefore, we do not want any publicity that would fill our seats with curious believers.
3. Redeemer would prefer that seekers come as the result of relationship (i.e., they are accompanying a friend who is then available to discuss things with them following the service.) To come into a church like Redeemer is not an easy thing, and although publicity might result in a few non-believer walk-ins, we would prefer there to be none at all.
4. Redeemer’s message is nuanced and non-political. We want to present the gospel and have people make up their minds about whether Jesus is God or not, rather than convincing them to espouse a point of view about this or that hot-button issue. Since this is somewhat different than the approach of some other evangelical churches, we don’t want to say or do anything that would give the impression that we fit into the storyline that the media currently has about evangelicals. This would tend to obscure and falsify our real message.
The problem is that while publicity alerts people who are trying to find a church like yours to your existence, it also alerts those who find your presence alarming. This can have an immediate negative effect on your rental arrangements (if your landlord does not wish to be identified with a church with your doctrinal commitments, or if he or she merely wishes to avoid a potentially controversial situation.) It can also affect the lease agreements of other churches in your area, which will suffer along with you if permission to rent in schools, for instance, is revoked.
Publicity also allows people to find you who are discontented with their own churches and who hope to find a church they can influence so that it suits their needs. These folks are a thorn in the side of any church planter trying to keep a clear vision of the Gospel before the world. And some people, of course, are just perennial malcontents, unable to be satisfied with any church, hopping from congregation to congregation, leaving a wake of destruction behind them.
The nations new tallest building will be in Chicago. This isn't new news, but the details are coming out and changes are being made. Here's a great Tribune article on the residential twisting tower being planned by Zurich-based architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava. The plan has been approved by the Chicago Plan Commission and it should be built by around 2010. I believe the pic at the right is the pre-approved version and it will be slightly different, but not too much.
The design for the $550 million tower, which was breathtaking but hardly flawless when it was introduced last July, has taken some important steps forward, both in the sky and along the ground. Now here's the trend part of the story: If this tower and Jeanne Gang's sensuous Aqua high-rise both get built, Chicago will be running a clinic in the new aesthetic possibilities offered by skyscrapers that are places to live rather than work.
Tim Keller's (Redeemer's) church planting organization, The Movement: Global City Church Planting, recommends books in their newsletters. Here they are compiled for you by date of newsletter, and by theme where applicable.
Winter 2006: Missional Church
Fall 2005: Urban Anthropology
Summer 2005: Global Cities
December 2004: Evangelism
October 2004: Spiritual Life of a Church Planter
August 2004: Urban Theology
June 2004: Multi-Cultural Church Planting
April 2004: Effective Churches for Postmodern America
Anyone watch the Illini play Washington? I cannot remember ever seeing such a lopsided game in terms of fouls called. Unbelievable. Still, the Illini could and should have won. But I cannot help but express my disbelief that Illinois shot 2 free throws in the second half. Washington lived at the line.
I didn't believe Illinois would win it all. I have them losing in the final four, and that was a big stretch even for my biased opinions. But they will go home knowing that a somewhat fairly called game would have probably meant playing in the regionals. I'm looking forward to seeing who (if anyone) will speak out about this terrible officiating.
First round I picked 25 right, so 7 were wrong. Two of the 7 were 8/9 matchups. I picked Southern IL U to beat W. Virginia, but that was just my alma mater talking. I totally missed NW State over Iowa, Bradley over Kansas, and Montana over Nevada.
I picked 5 upsets including George Mason (11) over Michigan State (6), Wisconsin-Milwaukee (11) over Oklahoma (6), Alabama (10) over Marquette (7), N.C State (10) over California (7), and Texas A&M (12) over Syracuse (5).
If you look at the brackets, in each region I was completely right on the outer half of the brackets. Interesting. Tomorrow (Saturday) should bring some great games.
Dana Gioia (a guy) is one of my favorite living poets. He spent 15 years in business, eventually becoming a Vice President of General Foods. He would write at night and on weekends until he left business in the early 90's to be a full-time writer. I've been reading him for a couple of years. I think anyone even remotely interested in the arts and the work of redemption should read his fantastic essay "Can Poetry Matter?". You can find several of Gioia's poems online as well.
Gioia was a speaker at the February IAM (International Arts Movement) conference, Artists as Reconcilers. You can find his keynote address for free on iTunes. Just search for "Artists as Reconcilers" and you will get their podcast. If you become a member of IAM for $40 a year you will have access in a few weeks to all the conference talks from Dr. Miroslav Volf, Nancy Pearcey, Betty Spackman, Rev. Ian Cron, Rev. Tom Pike, and Makoto Fujimura (the founder of IAM).
Scot McKnight: "Is the Future of Evangelicalism with the SBC?"
Tally Wilgis has a very interesting post about the first two years of Focal Point, the church he planted.
March Madness is upon us. I love it. Love NCAA basketball. Here are my pics.
Elite Eight: Duke, Iowa, Pitt, UCLA, IL, NC, Villanova, Florida
Final Four: Duke, Pitt, IL (my team, baby), and Villanova
Duke vs. Villanova >> Villanova wins
There's some QnA between the Director of the Resurgence website, Gary Shavey, and Tim Keller and Darrin Patrick (two of the conference speakers at the upcoming Reform & Resurge Conference). It will do you well to check back over at Resurgence regularly. Things are continually changing and improving.
The "informational" view of preaching conceives of preaching as changing people's lives after the sermon. They listen to the sermon, take notes, and then apply the Biblical principles during the week. But this assumes that our main problem is a lack of compliance to Biblical principles, when (as we saw above) all our problems are actually due to a lack of joy and belief in the gospel. Our real problem is that Jesus' salvation is not as real to our hearts as the significance and security our idols promise us. If that’s our real problem, then the purpose of preaching is to make Christ so real to the heart that in the sermon people have an experience of his grace, and the false saviors that drive us lose their power and grip on us on the spot. That’s the "experiential" view of preaching (Jonathan Edwards.)
Don'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.
Preaching against culture is like preaching against someone’s house. It’s just were they live.
>> You can "steal" several weeks of Bob Hyatt's slides for Sunday morning Powerpoint. Nice resource.
>> Some of you need a good discussion board on Christians and the arts, and thankfully IAM in NYC now has a discussion board. It's pretty new, but could be a great board with a few more active posters. If you are into writing, painting, photography, sculpting, whatever, then check it out. But it could also be very valuable for any Christian learning about the arts.
>> Molten Meditation is an interesting idea, and pretty well done.
Mark Driscoll's Seattle Times column: "Had a frustrating day? Imagine the frustration we inflict on God daily." Always helpful to see faithful pastors engaging culture and giving us a model for engaging culture.
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.
Charles Colson read Mark Driscoll's post on Charles Colson and culture war, and responded. Driscoll posts Colson's response.
UPDATE: They already have more than 75 requests. The offer is closed.
Don't miss this opportunity to get Mark Driscoll's new book for free. If you will blog review Confessions of a Reformission Rev. (here's mine) Zondervan will send you a free copy. Only the first 75 bloggers who email them get the book, so get on it! From Mark Driscoll's blog...
If you are a blogger and are willing to write a review of the book, Zondervan will send a free copy to the first seventy-five bloggers who ask. Your review does not need to be favorable and this may be a good way for some of you to take a good whack at me free of charge.
Roger Ebert has a curious article on "The Fury of the Crash-lash." It seems that calling "Crash" a better movie, which Ebert does, is considered more than a little homophobic. He gives a helpful response.
The nature of the attacks on "Crash" by the supporters of "Brokeback Mountain" seem to proceed from the other position: "Brokeback" is better not only because of its artistry but because of its subject matter, and those who disagree hate homosexuals. Its supporters could vote for it in good conscience, vote for it and feel they had made a progressive move, vote for it and not feel that there was any stain on their liberal credentials for shunning what "Crash" had to offer.
Let's give it up for my alma mater! The Southern Illinois Salukis won the MVC basketball tournament and are now heading to the NCAA tournament. Go Dawgs! On a related note, an SIU cheerleader fell on her head and was carried off on a stretcher.
As students, my friends and I would go to every home game. My roommate would dress up like the "Where's Waldo" guy and walk around the stadium. Then we would hold up a sign saying "Where's Waldo?" College fun is the best.
FYI, I met my wife, got married, and became a Christian at SIU. Good times.
Great ivy wall near downtown Woodstock, IL. See the rest of the pictures in my Flickr stream.
Last night Joe Thorn and I were able to go out to dinner with each other, and more importantly our hot wives. It was a pretty expensive place, but we were able to handle about half of the bill with a gift certificate. Wow, it was good. We talked for about 3 1/2 hours. I hope everyone has friends you like to be with for long dinners and conversation. "There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God." Ecclesiastes 2:24
I've been thinking for a while about posting mini-reviews of some of Tim Keller's articles and sermons that are available online. Then I can link each mini-review to the article/sermon on my Tim Keller Resource page. I want to do this 1. Because I want to keep wrestling with his ideas, and 2. Because I want to continue to help others find Keller's stuff. Might be fun. We'll see if I get anywhere with the idea.
Yesterday I broke my pinky toe on my left foot. Second time I've done that. I keep forgetting to walk around door-jams. Now I'm in a good deal of pain and will be for at least a few weeks. Bummer. You know 1 Corinthians 12 is so much easier to understand when you lose use of your little toe. You realize how even the smallest parts of the body are so crucial.
A few weeks ago our 5 year old was running through the house (he sometimes calls himself "Dash" from The Incredibles) and ran into the vacuum. It's pretty normal for our kids to crash and burn as they run through the house. But he was obviously in some pain. So I grabbed him up and put him on my bed. He was bleeding pretty bad and he basically sliced the whole tip off one of his toes. The tip was dangling and I looked at Molly and said, "I think it's going to fall off." My son heard and responded with all seriousness and blubbering, "OH, I DON'T WANT TO DIE!!!" I think he takes 1 Corinthians 12 even more seriously than me.
Our cat was declawed this past Monday. We got him back Wednesday, and he reopened a toe wound (sheesh, what's going on with toes in our house). So he had to go back to the vet for a day and a half to keep him from reopening more wounds.
Two days ago I went to the doctor for the second time in 5 weeks because I've had a cough going on 4 months now. About 4 days a week I cough hard enough to give myself a massive headache. I've been on antibiotics and Claritin, now I'm on an asthma inhaler. I don't think it's working, but still have almost two weeks left to see if it has an effect. The doctor also had me go in for a chest x-ray at the hospital. I'll hear back about that soon, I suppose. What a week.
Amos Lee's self-titled CD is amazing. I'll probably post more on it someday.
My wife made orange chicken for lunch today with a chopped salad (I LOVE chopped salads) with some sort of orange vinaigrette dressing and it rocked like a hurricane. Dang, she is awesome.
Okay, that's enough.
I was leaving the house today while my family was sitting at the kitchen table coloring. I said, "Goodbye, I love you!" My 9 year old daughter called back first, "I love you. Make good choices." Besides being the funniest thing I've heard in a while, it was actually very good advice.