loss of a new friend

i was driving to our men's gathering this morning when the dj's on the radio were making fun of a baptist minister who died sunday while doing a baptism. my first reaction was, "man, how tasteless of them for making fun of this" and i drove to the meeting.

when i left the meeting, i came home to "read the news" - life on a laptop is easy if the place you eat at has wifi - and this one did not. when i got home, i found out that the minister who died was a new friend, someone i just started to get to know and someone i respected deeply - kyle lake over at ubc waco. kyle and i just started to get to know each other, via email, and i have to say, i am shocked - and not sure how to process this [we are not old enough to die]. i feel empty that i will miss developing a deeper friendship with a man of God who was reaching past the "norm" and into the heart of God.

it was just a few weeks back that kyle emailed me and asked if i would review his new book, [re]discovering prayer, and at first i was not hot on it - because reviews always seem like judging - but there was something in his request that made me say yes, so he had a copy sent to my house; i was very impressed - we started to email each other over these past weeks and we developed a "standing invite" to each other - if i was even in his area, or if he was in my area, we would hook-up and just spend time sharing and getting to know each other deeper.

i was impressed by kyle's love of his family, the love of his church family and the love he had for his God. his wife jen, his daughter and twin sons will be in my prayers. i am comforted in knowing that kyle IS with our Lord. his faith was secure, firm and solid - he impressed me, and that is something not many "in the church" can do.

kyle, you will be missed - but you will not be forgotten


profit or greed?

is there a difference between profit and greed? with "the cost" of crude oil going down, why are companies slow if lowering the price? they are quick to raise the price when the cost goes up, or even "might" go up - here is a bit of news:

Exxon Mobil Corp. rewrote the corporate record books Thursday as the oil company's third-quarter earnings soared to almost $10 billion and it became the first public company ever with quarterly sales topping $100 billion. Anglo-Dutch competitor Royal Dutch Shell PLC wasn't far behind, posting a profit of $9 billion for the quarter. [and there is so much more...]


Why I am Emerging: A Brief Response to James MacDonald

Let me begin by saying that I do not walk in the same circles as Mr. MacDonald or those he might call friends. I have never met him, talked with him or ever had the opportunity to hear him speak. I walk with a different set of people, a different gathering of followers. While I have never met him, nor read anything he wrote [with the exception of the article I am commenting on] I still hold a respect for him, because even if does not think so we in the emerging would see him as a brother in Christ. While he may not see us the same, we would wish no ill will upon him or his ministry. What Mr. MacDonald needs to understand is that we do not seek his approval, or his acceptance of what we are doing. While I would never dream of speaking for the whole emerging church, I believe I do speak for some [even if it be a small and faithful band] who seek to develop a deeper walk in faith, even if that means people like Mr. MacDonald misunderstand what we are saying.

So, given that and all I have stood for in the past [and will stand for in the future] let me say that I am emerging for many reasons:

Because observing and making comments are not always bad:
MacDonald says, "Knowing the soup is bad does not make one a chef. If successful diagnosis was a license to treat the patient every lab technician would be a surgeon . . . scary." To help Mr. MacDonald with this, let me say that I do not need to be a chef to know the taste of bad food. I find his statement to be both arrogant and self-serving. Does it imply that only those with Â?special trainingÂ? [like DR. MacDonald] are the only people who can see a problem in the church, or speak against what they see the church doing? His argument against the emerging is one of the reasons I am so strong for the emerging. Just because I have a MDiv does not make me better then a person without a degree. I think we can all learn from each other. While Mr. MacDonald does not see that as a reality, we in the emerging welcome all voices, and encourage those who have a desire to speak to do so, regardless of education.

His desire to claim that those "who protest" never get invited to the party may be true, but then again I am not sure I would want to go to his house for a party anyway.

What I find interesting in MacDonald is that he starts ragging on us, but complaining that we rag on the western church - go figure.

Because God is looking for sincere people to express the reality of who God is.
One of the things I am very impressed with people such as Chris Seay, Carol Childress, Dave Travis, Leonard Sweet, Brian McLaren and Rob Bell is that they are people who desire to express a reality of who God is. While I do not personally know all these people, I do know many of them and count them as friends; but more then that I see many of them as people I find express a desire to walk deeper in Christ. I have found them to be people who deeply seek to help others walk a deeper faith, and trust in a loving God.

In that, I have never found any of those people degrading, insulting, or even demoralizing of any other person. In fact, I can say in my dealings with the people I know I have never heard them speak poorly of another person. Because of their hearts, I see a deeper expression of who God is in the lives of people, and for that I am deeply moved.

I have never been moved by any member of the "evangelical church." Now, that does not mean I will question their faith, their walk or their expression of who God is Â? as Mr. MacDonald desires to do of those he lists. But it does mean that I have not been impressed with the words of the "evangelical church."

Mr. MacDonald says, "We are expected to obey our Master and to accept His Word without equivocation. Cavalier questioning of the explicit statements of Scripture regarding the necessity of the new birth, the priority of biblical proclamation or the binding authority and sufficiency of Scripture cannot build a stronger, more Christ- honoring church no matter how sincere the messengers. Critiquing the church is good, disregarding or diminishing the revealed truth of our Founder is not good, no matter how Â?niceÂ? the people are who do it." Yet I wonder if he truly knows what the emerging is about? Or is he just striving to "get in" on debating us so he can look good in "evangelical circles?"

Because it IS substaMacDonaldstyle
Macdonald says, "Candles and bells, paintings and sculpture, incense and chantingÂ?great! Let's bring back the best of all those offerings of worship, but letÂ?s not confuse style and substance." Yet again I wonder if he has ever even been to an emerging service, or talked with emerging pastors. Because if he had, he would know we are so not about "style" and we are all about substance - in fact, I would say we have a deeper desire to substance then most "mega-churches" that tapes a message and then sends them to "satilite churches" and think that is church.

He seems to forget that the contemporary church is the one who centers on style over substance, and many in the traditional church are stuck in style, old style. The emerging is striving to see past the "style" and get closer to substance. One of the things I share at staff meetings, and everywhere else i can, with our worship leader at 247connection [Amanda Crump - a great worship leader, with a great heart for worship] is that she takes me from the streets to the face of God during worship. Something I have never experienced in a contemporary church or a traditional church - and I started to follow Jesus at Central Christian Church in Las Vegas [Gene Apple's old church], and i never experienced it there either.

MacDonald seems to forget is that God is a God of creation; in that we are beings of creation. Art expresses who we are and how we relate to the world around us. Art is not designed to "be truth" but is designed to express a reality we live, know and understand.

MacDonald asks the question [even though he did ask it with a sarcastic heart], "...was it the form that was powerful or just the broken routine that allowed my heart to worship with fresh sincerity?" And to that I say, "Yes." Does it matter which is the reality, if the end result is a deeper worship experience and a lasting connection to God?

Because the answer is Jesus, without western cultural.
What MacDonald seems to forget, or maybe he just choises to ignore, is that the USAmerican church sees Jesus through Western eyes - we see Jesus in terms of a western church. The Eastern church has a different view of Jesus and the Church then we do. To ignore culture is to ignore a major reality of our faith. To think that culture does not matter simply shows that Mr. MacDonald is not in touch with the world around him.

To think culture does not matter means he does not see the reality we live in, and sees what he thinks is a "true church."

Because Jesus IS the party and is never hidden.
MacDonald writes, "Why do so many of the emerging church websites speak of God/Father and less overtly or not at all about Jesus Christ the Lord?" Well, he has never been to Ginkworld.net, or The Ooze, or Next-wave, or any of the 400 emerging churches listed on Ginkworld, or the other sites. He must be confusing the contemporary church with the emerging church, again. Many, heck all, the emerging leaders I know and count as friends are very into Jesus. We would never think of hiding our faith, and many of us have it tattooed on our bodies for all to see.

If there is one thing I see alive and well in the emerging church is our desire to truly get past all the market crap and get to the real Jesus. To express a deep desire to know and follow his teachings, without the cultural stuff that the evangelical church has strived to shove down our throats.

Anyway . . .
I am not impressed with MacDonaldÂ?s arguments against the emerging. not because he does not have his point of view Â? he does and he can - but because he is wrong in his views. It shows that he is getting his information from Carson, Mohler and others who do not get us. What I find disingenuous is not that he does not agree with what we think, he has that right. What I find disingenuous is his desire to condemn us for having an honest concern for the church - while doing the same thing he is claiming we do.

What he, and others, desire is that we "change our waysÂ? and be more like them, as if Â?they got it right and everyone else got it wrong." That kind of logic is not in my way. MacDonald, while claiming to be open, is in fact very closed to other possibilities. I love what Brian is writing and what Bell is writing and what Len is writing, because they are stripping away the myths of the church and the faith Â? and allowing us to see and express a faith that shows the real Jesus, and not the western Jesus the evangelical church demands we believe. While he is calling for revival, he is pushing aside the revival that is happening all around him.

He writes, "We need a renewed vision of God's exalted, infinite holiness." And he is right, and it is called "the emerging church."


how much is ginkworld worth?

i was over at the ooze blog today checking comments when i saw jordon had a "how much is the ooze worth" and i thought that was cool - so, i went to the same place and found out how much ginkworld is worth - pretty funny stuff :)

My blog is worth $35,001.48.
how much is your blog worth?


"a conversation"

we are in the planning stages at 247connection about hosting a day long learning event [called "a conversation"] for emerging planters, partners and others interested in getting involved in the emerging church. we are praying over the direction and focus of this event. we are planning on a one day event, with labs and breakout sessions dealing with worship, structure [or lack there of], design, servanthood, and other areas we think are needed to help others in this process. we desire it to be practical, informative, connective and supportive.

while we know where God is leading us in this, we also know that we need others to help give us ideas and lift us in prayer. so, i think the question is, "what do you want in such an event?" longer? shorter? connections? a different time? do you have an idea you would like to see expressed at such an event? we have very little set in stone, but we do know we are looking to form a positive conversation with people. we are not looking to bash, or be bashed. we are striving to stay close to Christ, and seek God in all this; our goal is not to tell you what you must do, but rather to share with you our failures and sucesses, our ups and our downs, but mostly to let you know that it can be done - if you have an idea, let us know and we will look into making it happen.


[re]understanding prayer - a great book

it has been a long standing "idea" [not into policies] of mine not to write comments on books - i tried to do it on ginkworld, but that fell apart quick - because we kept thinking we were "judging" others, so that is not our style. but i have to say, it is books like the one i will share with you that make me break my "long standing idea."

kyle lake emailed me a week or so ago and asked if i would read his new book, and let others know what i thought - kyle lives dangerously, because one never knows what i will think - not even me :) but i have to give kyle props - the book is great, and one i think everyone should read.

the book is called "[re]understanding prayer; a fresh approach to conversation with God" and is put out by relevant books - it should be out very soon - BUY IT [see, i like it so much it got me to use the cap key :) ]

why do i like the book? not being raised in the church, and having all the baggage that come with being in a youth group - this book expresses pray as a natural conversation with God - not a "follow this pattern" or "do it this way" approach to prayer. kyle "gets it." his idea that prayer is simply talk with God without the dram is refreshing and expressive.

the part that grabbed me the most, and several parts definitely grabbed me and made me think, was the section on "avoiding autopilot." when i read that i was shoved back to my days when i first started in ministry and the senior pastor of the church would spend time looking over my prayers to see if i had "the right words" in them. kyle's approach is to break the "secret language" of the church and simply express a love for God that is real, open and honest.

i think you will get a great deal out of this book, so i am going out on a limb and suggesting you buy it, read it and see how it will effect your prayer life. i know it is helping me figure it all out.


the latest art work

my newest tat.  while it is not 100% finished, we need to add some blue water - the colors are great, and i love it.  the artist is a member 247connection and his name is kao.  when it is all finished i will put up the pic.


funding or sales market [a rant]

it is so hard to realize that there are more people out their striving to make a buck on church planting. they claim to help fund church plants and in reality simply see church plants as a funding source for their business - when did honesty and grace fall out of "para-ministries?"

as we search for funding at 247connection [where i am the lead pastor] we keep hitting walls of "sure, we can help but first you need to come to "our boot camp" [at a very hefty cost] and buy our stuff [at an additional hefty cost], and we will think about giving you a stippen to get you buy as you plant the church - and then you will need to pay it all back, and tithe to us for the next five years." [and if anyone can point to the bibical model for this, that would be very cool] which is just crazy. you see, we are three years old and just moved into a leased building where we were hit with some very large and unexpected outlays of cash [$80,000] which hit us hard, and most of our savings - so we are actively looking for a loan of $50,000 to help pull us over the hump. we are even willing to talk with denominstions and join if they could help. so, if you know of one willing to take a 9,000 sqft coffee shop with alternative music, a tatted pastor with a shave head and a growing gathering, tell them about us and let's talk.

because we do not "own" the building, we have nothing to give in exchange for the funds - except a promise that we will pay it back - and elders who will sign on the dotted line to do so. yet, even in the christian community, where christians should help each other, we find "business" as the center of what is called grace. for me, not being raised in the church, i had very different expectations of how this would come to be and how the church would help. boy, did i not expect the disconnect.

here is what i would love to see happen. a new gathering of churches who would pool their funds and help plants get over hard spots - without asking for a building, blood, or the first born; a gathering of all denominations who did not care about what "theology" you followed, but would care only that you were reaching those outside the church; a gathering of churches that would say, "let's help and get churches going" - because today more churches close then ever before. and when organizations that are suppose to help, turn a blind eye we will not gain a footing in the communities we serve." i know, i could be dreaming.

if you are interested in helping get this off the ground - spread the word and let others know - because if we all just pool a bit of cash we can do some very cool things - let's get action and stop the talking. if there is a person in a church with a butt load of money looking to "bank-roll" such a cool thing as this - let's talk and get this happening.

at 247connection we know that God will provide the funds [and that person you know with a butt load of cash can help if they desire :)], and we pray that it happens soon :) but more then that, i pray we can come together as a emerging community and help others in their time of need.

and a note: for all your organizations that want to charge for "coaching" and "advise" and offer for sale some book by some guy no one knows about - shame. shame on you for taking advantage of those in need, those called by God to plant a church and reach those outside the church. i am sure you think you are doing good, but please stop looking at us as if we were an untapped market to take from - but rather as a gathering of people looking to do as God desires - you are like snake oil salespeople seeking only to gain from a pot that is very low.