June 30, 2003

what is discipleship?

On the other hand, there is what we have come to accept as discipleship. A friend of mine recently handed me a program from a large and successful church somewhere in the Midwest. It's a rather exemplary model of what the idea has fallen to. Their plan for discipleship involves, first, becoming a member of this particular church. Then they encourage you to take a course on doctrine. Be "faithful" in attending the Sunday morning service and a small group fellowship. Complete a special course on Christian growth. Live a life that demonstrates clear evidence of spiritual growth. Complete a class on evangelism. Consistently look for opportunities to evangelize. Complete a course on finances, one on marriage and another on parenting (provided that you are married or a parent). Complete a leadership training course, a hermeneutics course, a course on spiritual gifts, and another on biblical counseling. Participate in missions. Carry a significant local church ministry "load".

You're probably surprised that I would question this sort of program; most churches are trying to get their folks to complete something like this, one way or another. No doubt a great deal of helpful information is passed on. My goodness, you could earn an MBA with less effort. But let me ask you: A program like this – does it teach a person how to apply principles, or how to walk with God? They are not the same thing. Change the content and any cult could do this. I mean, Gandhi was a remarkable man; so was Lao-Tzu, Confucius, or Thomas Jefferson. They all had principles for a better life. But only Christianity can teach you to walk with God.

We forfeit that birthright when we take folks through a discipleship program whereby they master any number of Christian precepts and miss the most important thing of all, the very thing for which we were created: intimacy with God. There are, after all, those troubling words Jesus spoke to those who were doing all the "right" things: "Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you'" (Matt 7:23). Knowing God. That's the point...

Only by walking with God can we hope to find a path that leads to life. That is what it means to be a disciple. After all – aren't we "followers of Christ"? Then by all means, let's actually follow him. Not ideas about him. Not just his principles. Him.

From Waking the Dead: The Glory of a Ransomed Heart
John Eldredge

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June 29, 2003

a blessing in your eyes

May the words of my mouth
and the meditations of my heart
Be pleasing to You, pleasing to You

May the words of my mouth
and the meditations of my heart
Be pleasing to You, pleasing to You

You're my Rock and my Redeemer
You're the reason that I sing
I desire to be a blessing in Your eyes

Every hour and every moment
Lord I want to be Your servant
I desire to be a blessing in Your eyes

In Your eyes

Psalm 19
Terry Butler

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fully alive

The glory of God is man fully alive.

Saint Irenaeus

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June 28, 2003


I just finished The Chronicles of Narnia. Wow - I loved every one of the stories.

As I've posted before there are many metaphors buried in the work, some obvious and some subtle. The last book in the series, The Last Battle ends with a glorious description of the "real" world, the world beyond the end of the world, where "nothing good is ever destroyed."


And here we find the word picture that many have used to justify labeling C.S. Lewis as a universalist. Brian McLaren quotes the passage in A New Kind of Christian. Here is how his character Neo positions it in that book:

But I must tell you, I don't think we are ever in a position to judge others. After all, Jesus said that many who are seen as last here will be first there, and many who are first here will be last there. So I don't think it's our business to prognosticate the eternal destinies of anyone else, as a story from C.S. Lewis makes clear. In this story, a soldier has gone through something analogous to the doorway of death. This soldier has served a false god named Tash all his life, and he comes upon a great Lion named Aslan, who represents Christ. (Page 92, 93)

Now I need to insert the exchange between the soldier and Aslan. Being the lazy guy that I am I googled it to see if I could avoid typing it all in. Lo and behold, I found the text in an archived post from our friend the Fatblueman! (Thanks, JJ.)

...So I went over much grass and many flowers and among all kinds of wholesome and delectable trees till lo! in a narrow place between two rocks there came to meet me a great Lion. The speed of him was like the ostrich, and his size was an elephant's; his hair was like pure gold and the brightness of his eyes, like gold that is liquid in the furnace. He was more terrible than the flaming Mountain of Lagour, and in beauty he surpassed all that is in the world, even as the rose in bloom surpasses the dust of the desert. Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him. But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas, Lord, I am no son of Thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reason of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him, for I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath's sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted... Beloved, said the Glorious one, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.

Am I saying I'm a universalist? No. Am I saying I'm not a universalist? No. The McLaren quote above is from a chapter titled C.S. Lewis in the Pulpit, or What Is Heaven About Anyway?. A few chapters later we find It's None of Your Business Who Goes To Hell. I think I understand that now. It's none of my business. It's none of your business. Our business is to introduce as many people as we can to Christ. I don't pretend to understand how he's going to sort us out in the world beyond the end of the world.

Phew. I feel better already.

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no vote

This doesn't sound promising.

Occupation Forces Halt Elections Throughout Iraq

By William Booth and Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, June 28, 2003; Page A20

SAMARRA, Iraq -- U.S. military commanders have ordered a halt to local elections and self-rule in provincial cities and towns across Iraq, choosing instead to install their own handpicked mayors and administrators, many of whom are former Iraqi military leaders.

The decision to deny Iraqis a direct role in selecting municipal governments is creating anger and resentment among aspiring leaders and ordinary citizens, who say the U.S.-led occupation forces are not making good on their promise to bring greater freedom and democracy to a country dominated for three decades by Saddam Hussein.


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June 27, 2003

waking the dead

Today was a good day. I took my work with me this morning and commuted (5 minute drive) to my Deep Cove office - which is a park bench. Check out my view here (the first image on the page).

Tough life, but someone has to do it.

Yesterday we were given a copy of John Eldredge's new book Waking the Dead as a gift. (Thanks, Gord!)

I haven't started it yet, but this blurb from the back cover sounds good:

Jesus said, "I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full." That's the offer of Christianity, from God himself.

Just look at what happens when people are touched by Jesus – the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life. In other words, to be touched by God is to be restored. To become all God meant you to be. That is what Christianity is supposed to do for you – make you whole, set you free, bring you fully alive.

But Jesus also warned that the path to that life is narrow, and few people would find it. You'll notice few have. Waking the Dead will help you find that life, see the fierce battle over your heart, and embrace all that God has for you.

There is so much more. Do you want it?

I believe it. And I want it.

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(Who Would Jesus Swear At?)

The Preacher has posted a great version of the Sons of Thunder's bid for the good seats, and the seduction of power.

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all welcome

With Eugene Peterson's quote still ringing in my ears I found this post from Fred Peatross very timely:

Our Prayers Tell On Us

Too many churches function as if their primary role is to minister to the sick and dying. Ministers/preachers have little time to "go into all the world" when their primary role is to drive from one hospital to another so they can hold the hands of the brethren.

I challenge you to start paying attention to the prayers in your assemblies. Notice how often our prayers center around the sick, the dying, new births, those traveling, or good news from a doctor. Would I be within range if I said in a twelve month period you could count on one hand the number of times someone prays (by name) for a friend or family member's spiritual conversion?

This one strikes a chord with me. How many of our churches have been self-contained little "bioshperes", where everything is wonderful, as long as you are on the inside. The teaching? Oh, it's very good. The community? I feel like I belong, and I'm loved.

But you have the right last name, your family has been here for 2 generations and you occupy the best pew in the house.

What about the person who wanders in the back door some Sunday morning for the first time? Would they experience what you do? If asked later, how would they describe the experience?

Would it sound like they were describing the same church?

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June 25, 2003

words of wisdom from robert the atheist

My good friend Robert (this site's most fervent fan... and "atheist" - his word, not mine) has responded in a comment to The Lull, and all the recent angst over the state of "the church". I thought it warranted your attention, so here it is:

OK, I just wrote a long comment that disappeared into the ether. So here are the highlights:

There is nothing wrong with the church. The church is the same institution it has been for 2000 years. It remains rampantly relevant in Latin America, parts of Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa because the church's message is aimed at poor people. It was incredibly relevant to Westerners 1000 years ago, 500 years ago and even 100 years ago. The church told you what to think, how to live and what to believe. It is no longer relevant to modern Westerners because we have outgrown it. It remains very relevant in parts of the world. The church has not changed and is not broken. The problem is within you good people.
You are the exception - comfortable folks who still believe. The vast majority of believers around the world are struggling to get by everyday. In every society, as wealth increases, religious fervour decreases. It is not coincidence that around the globe today (and throughout history), the most fervent believers (Christians, Muslims, etc.) live(d) pretty difficult lives. If your life sucks rocks today, you cling to the notion of paradise in the next life. Once you get the second car, third TV and have a Loblaws around the corner, the necessity of there being an afterlife becomes less critical to your ability to get through today. Marx said religion is the opiate of the masses.

You good people yearn for a thinking person's church and are all linked by that desire. However, if we put you all in a room, your comfortable western existence would come bubbling up and we would be talking tower of Babel! I don't think you could ever agree on a new church because there isn't one that could accomodate thinking people (Heather - before you even say it, I know what you are going to say... Your Meeting House may be great, but could it accomodate 1 million people thinking different things? I think it is the exception that proves the rule. It works because it is small.) You all yearn for a fulfilling House of Worship you could go to but I don't think you could ever agree on what that would be. Any churchgoer has to submit to the given authority too much for you to do that and be happy. Remember, churches are looking for "sheep". None of you is sheep-like. You think too much.

You will have to content yourselves with the notion that, individually, you are your own church. You carry it around with you wherever you go and congregate in forums like this.

My original comment was better and longer.

Better Robert? I doubt it. Longer? I believe it!

Thanks for your thoughts.

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indie allies meetup

find out more at indieallies.meetup.com

For those of you who have never heard of the Indie Allies, it is a network of independent Christian thinkers and websites and is brought to you by some of the coolest people on the web. More information will be coming soon but until then, head on over to the IndieAllies Meetup.com site at indieallies.meetup.com and sign up.

Jordon's talking about it. Jason's talking about it. Charlie's talking about it. Spencer's talking about it. Let's give it a go - we all have to get out of our cages every once in a while anyway.

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June 24, 2003

a lull

Some days the posts just come spilling out. At those times I worry that perhaps I'm writing too much - when I have 4 or 5 posts in the day my concern is that people don't read them all. That's not (just) ego talking - I want conversation to flow out of them.

Here are some thoughts from Len over at Next Reformation, who has noticed a different trend. Given our recent deliberations on "church" I thought this was timely. Permalinks don't seem to be working, so here it is in it's entirety:

Saturday June 21

I've noticed a reduction in the posts of some of the blogs I visit.. a certain lull in cyberspace, reflecting perhaps fatigue? Or perhaps it reflects a certain pessimism among the dreamers and visionaries out there. Change is so slow in coming, and when we have seen and tasted a small glimpse of the real church, it's very hard to settle for the mundane reality of the old one.

I know what cynicism is about.. I've been there, and still visit the place myself occasionally.

I don't like being there. It's an internal desert where I go toe-to-toe with my own demons.

Yet it's the Lord's grace that brings us to that place. We learn new dependence on Him, and we learn our need of Him, and how easily we become the naval gazing center of our little worlds. By God's grace we learn that we too are the problem. We too are ego-centric and unwilling to die for a new world to be born.

I've been thinking lately that it's a challenge to live in the bright world of the future while continuing to dwell in the real world of human brokenness and a broken church. It's the world Jesus came to redeem, and He came "for sinners, not for the well."

I want to live among the broken, because I too am broken, and I believe it's only in our brokenness that we find faith and hope.

I want to remain a dreamer and a visionary for a more whole expression of the church, because the Lord calls us closer to Him, while at the same time loving the reality of the church that is mired in the past, reluctant to change, or fearful of what lies ahead. This is a real challenge. But as Bonhoeffer wrote, "He who loves his ideals of community more than the individuals of the community is a destroyer of community."

There has always been a tension between the pastoral and the prophetic, and this is it.

While my relections on the state of the church may have seemed cynical lately, I am excited about the future. We've seen enough to know that there is no growth without pain. The church is a mess, and it is painful. I believe that God is in this and He is up to something.

That is exciting!

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June 23, 2003

help wanted

"I am having the depressing experience of reading congregational descriptions of what churches want in a pastor. With hardly an exception they don't want pastors at all - they want managers of their religious company. They want a pastor they can follow so they won't have to bother with following Jesus anymore."

Eugene Peterson

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Here's a great line from a recent GraceAwakening eMail from Fred Peatross over at FutureMargins.

...But those in touch with culture realize that opposing postmodernism is as futile as opposing the English language. It's here. It's real. It's the future. It's not only a fact on the event horizon; it's the way the emerging generation processes every other fact on the event horizon.

Well said, and... it's not just the "emerging generation" (no matter how much I'd like to kid myself).

I'm adding FutureMargins to the Fellow Travelers Roll, along with Postmodern Theology. The latter is a collaborative effort of many people I'm already reading.

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bake sales

Man, I really like the Slacktivist! Just when I think I know where he's going, he takes a turn. And he can write.

An old peacenik bumper sticker reads: "It will be a great day when the schools have all the money they need and the Air Force has to have a bake sale to buy a bomber."

I appreciate the guns-or-butter sentiment behind that slogan, and the point -- that the government always finds the funding for things it considers a priority -- is well-taken. But I've also always been kind of glad that our military is not forced to rely on the proceeds from bake sales.

Until now.

And then,

Thanks to three tax cuts in three years, a record-setting federal deficit and ballooning national debt, America can no longer afford either guns or butter. Our schools are still dependent on bake sales, and will be for years to come. The Air Force has not yet held a bake sale to supply its troops with bombers, but if those troops want sunscreen in the desert, or an affordable way to keep in touch with their families, then bake sales may be their only hope.

(Read the whole post here.)

It seems to me that when you try and put all the pieces of the Bush Adminstration puzzle together you come up with - I don't know what.

Just one Canadian's reaction.

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the duffers

I'm ripping through The Chronicles of Narnia at the pace of one volume every 2 days (there's 7 in total). Once you get over the fact that it's considered children's literature its very good.

Every once in a while I come across a great C.S. Lewis quote that I've heard before out of context. And then occasionally there's a great line or two that seems to mean so much more than just the context it's in. Here's one that made me smile:

"But do they dare to talk about you like that?" said Lucy. "They seemed to be so afraid of you yesterday. Don't they know you might be listening?"

"That's one of the funny things about the Duffers," said the Magician. "One minute they talk as if I ran everything and overheard everything and was extremely dangerous. The next moment they think they can take me in by tricks that a baby would see through - bless them!"

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
(The Chronicles of Narnia, Volume 5)

Does that sound like anyone we know?

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good words


1. An act of bidding farewell; a leave-taking.
2. A speech or statement made as a farewell.
3. A word or phrase of farewell used to end a letter or message.

[From Latin valedictus, past participle of valedcere, to say farewell : val, farewell; see vale2 + dcere, to say; see deik- in Indo-European Roots.]

Whatever you call it, Winn Griffin has a good one for us as he heads off on a brief vacation.

Remember, all of us as the people of God are ministers (even when one is on vacation). So put your hand to what God places on your path this week and do it for his glory. Don't be a dualist now and separate work life, play life, relaxation life, frustration life, etc., from ministry life. Nah! not cool. So watch for God at work in your daily life and put your hand to what his hand is already doing. The NikeMan would say. "Just Do It!"

Right on.

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June 22, 2003

what's next?

Rachel has written a post that resonates deeply with me.

I'm like a fish out of water.. I'm getting weary on this journey where I don't fit in but I want somewhere where I can. I really don't think I'm asking for much: just a few people to totally share the journey with, without all the unnecessary rubbish.

It reminds me of the song I posted about a couple of days ago. At the time I was thinking of it in terms of reaching out to those who don't know Christ. It's ironic that it can apply equally to those who do, but can't seem to find a place to worship Him that "feels right".

I wanna heal
I wanna feel
What I thought was never real
I want to let go of the pain I felt so long
Erase all the pain till its gone
I wanna heal
I wanna feel
Like I'm close to something real
I want to find something I've wanted all along
Somewhere I belong

I take comfort in the fact that there are so many of us out there, thinking these thoughts.

God is up to something.

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June 21, 2003


I "met" Randall Friesen on the Big Chat the other day. Today he's speaking some sense into the whole Harry Potter storm:

What a huge wonderful thing that God is doing. Lets us as the church not miss a Holy, God given moment to point with our lives, to the one who can fill all our spiritual longings.


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Jared and I have been emailing a little on their Soliton Network and upcoming sessions.

I was going to post the conversation for everyone to see, but he's beat me to it. It sounds like a great gathering, and the analogy they use is also very cool.

Have a look (June 20 post).

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June 20, 2003

dirty feet II

And from the same book...

"All of those steepled buildings you see around town?
Turns out none of them are churches.
(Those signs out front certainly are misleading!)

It turns out that church has never been a building.
Church is all those Kingdom Dwellers put together.

The plural of "Jesus Follower" is "church."

Those steepled contraptions?
Those are just how the church gets out of the rain."

It looks like its starting to clear up.

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dirty feet

The Post-Modern Pilgrim has posted a quote from a book I think I need to read:

To really understand
we have to go back to the beginning,
to put first things first.

For starters, Jesus was not a Christian.
never asked anyone to become a Christian,
never built a steepled building,
never drew up a theological treatise,
never took an offering,
never wore religious garments,
never incorporated for tax purposes....

He simply called people to follow him.

That's it.
That, despite its simplicity,
is it.

He called people to follow him.

They believed,
listened to,
talked with,
learned from
and ultimately gave their lives to
this character Jesus.

is Christianity.

From Jesus with Dirty Feet: A Down-To-Earth Look at Christianity for the Curious & Skeptical, by Don Everts

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don't know

When you know that you know persecution comes easy. It is as well that some of us don't know that we know anything.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

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silver-tongued devil

How to win friends and influence people:

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has suggested that the homicide rate in Baghdad is lower than that in the nation's capital. Around Washington, those are fighting words.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton declared their own war yesterday against the country's top defense official.

From "Rumsfeld Comments Inspire District's Ire"
The Washington Post, June 20, 2003.

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June 19, 2003

somewhere I belong

I spent 3 hours earlier today glued to this chair, engaged in another great blogger chat. I don't think I'll list the chatters because I'm sure to miss a few. All Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians, though.

We talked about the emerging church (and all the issues that come with it). It was great timing for me, because we seem to be nearing the end of our "traditonal" church rope. This Sunday a group of us are getting together for home church, and we'll see where it goes from there.

Sometimes I get so caught up in my musings about the church - emerging, submerging and otherwise - that I lose sight of why the church is here at all. Making disciples. Period. Whatever it takes.

I was surfing my favorites earlier this week and came across the lyrics to Somewhere I Belong from Linkin Park. (I can't even remember which blog I saw them on. Sorry, and thanks, whoever you are.)

Somewhere I Belong

When this began
I had nothing to say
And I'd get lost in the nothingness inside of me
I was confused
And I'd let it all out to find
That I'm not the only person with these things in mind
Inside of me
When all the vacancy the words revealed
Is the only real thing that I've got left to feel
Nothing to loose
Just stuck, hollow and alone
And the fault is my own and the fault is my own

I wanna heal
I wanna feel
What I thought was never real
I want to let go of the pain I felt so long
Erase all the pain till its gone
I wanna heal
I wanna feel
Like I'm close to something real
I want to find something I've wanted all along
Somewhere I belong

And I've got nothing to say
I can't believe I didnt fall right down on my face
I was confused
Looking everwhere only to find
That it's not the way I had imagined it all in my mind
So what am I
What do I have but negativity
Cause I can't justify the way everyone is looking at me
Nothing to loose
Nothing to gain, hollow and alone
And the fault is my own and the fault is my own

I wanna heal
I wanna feel
What I thought was never real
I want to let go of the pain I felt so long
Erase all the pain til its gone
I wanna heal
I wanna feel
Like I'm close to something real
I want to find something I've wanted all along
Somewhere I belong

I will never know
Myself until I do this on my own
And I will never feel
Anything else, until my wounds are healed
I will never be anything
till I break away from me
I will break away
I'll find myself today

I wanna heal
I wanna feel
What I thought was never real
I want to let go of the pain I felt so long
Erase all the pain till it's gone
I wanna heal
I wanna feel
Like I'm close to something real
I want to find something I've wanted all along
Somewhere I belong

I wanna heal
I wanna feel
I wanna feel like I'm somewhere I belong

I wanna heal
I wanna feel
I wanna feel like I'm somewhere I belong

Somewhere I belong

(Watch the video here, after the annoying ad. I LOVE this stuff, which might surprise some, but not all of you).

That's why we're here. To engage with and be Christ to people who think thoughts like that. Period.

Posted by mike at 08:43 PM | Comments (20) | TrackBack

an illegal thing

An Open Letter From Martha Stewart

To My Friends and Loyal Supporters,

After more than a year, the government has decided to bring charges against me for matters that are personal and entirely unrelated to the business of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. I want you to know that I am innocent - and that I will fight to clear my name.

I simply returned a call from my stockbroker. Based in large part on prior discussions with my broker about price, I authorized a sale of my remaining shares in a biotech company called ImClone. I later denied any wrongdoing in public statements and in voluntary interviews with prosecutors. The government's attempt to criminalize these actions makes no sense to me.

I am confident I will be exonerated of these baseless charges, but a trial unfortunately won't take place for months. I want to thank you for your extraordinary support during the past year - I appreciate it more than you will ever know.

For more information, please visit the special website I have established for you at www.marthatalks.com. I will do my best to post current information about the case, and you will be able to contact me there at martha@marthatalks.com. I look forward to hearing from you.


Martha Stewart

Well, I'm glad she cleared that up.

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disciple-making 101

Over at Leading Dying Churches Darryl is quoting Bill Easum, which can't be good for the status quo. Here's my favorite line:

"Take disciple-making away and our congregations have no justification for existence."
Bill Easum, Unfreezing Moves

Man, that Easum guy likes to beat around the bush. I wish he'd tell us what he's really thinking. Make sure you check out the entire quote. Thanks Darryl.

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wedding bells II

The Prime Minister has come up with a reasonable solution. (I don't recall ever writing that before!)

The federal government will overhaul the age-old definition of marriage and make Canada the world's third country to recognize same-sex matrimony, Prime Minister Jean Chretien announced Tuesday.

The landmark legislation will be drafted within weeks, then sent to the Supreme Court of Canada for fine-tuning and put before the House of Commons in a free vote by MPs months from now. But the prime minister made it clear Ottawa would not impose the new law on religious groups, who can still refuse to perform same-sex weddings. Canada would join Belgium and the Netherlands as the only countries allowing gay and lesbian weddings.

"What we're doing at this moment might put Canada at the forefront of any solutions that exist," Chretien said.
"What is important for me is the freedom of the churches to interpret according to their faith."

This solution may work for everybody (for now). Link via Jordon.

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June 18, 2003


Everytime I wander into the area of politics on the blog I usually come to regret it. More than likely that will be the case here again. Having said that, this is a fascinating article. It makes me wonder..

A. How this story will unfold, or
B. How this story will go away.

Either way, it should be educational.

Missing Weapons Of Mass Destruction
Is Lying About The Reason For War An Impeachable Offense?

by John W. Dean

President George W. Bush has got a very serious problem. Before asking Congress for a Joint Resolution authorizing the use of American military forces in Iraq, he made a number of unequivocal statements about the reason the United States needed to pursue the most radical actions any nation can undertake - acts of war against another nation.

Now it is clear that many of his statements appear to be false. In the past, Bush's White House has been very good at sweeping ugly issues like this under the carpet, and out of sight. But it is not clear that they will be able to make the question of what happened to Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) go away - unless, perhaps, they start another war.

That seems unlikely. Until the questions surrounding the Iraqi war are answered, Congress and the public may strongly resist more of President Bush's warmaking.

Read the rest of the article here. From Findlaw's Legal Commentary.

Posted by mike at 02:12 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

judged on love

Richard received this piece by Oscar Romero in his Daily Dig eMail from the folks at the Bruderhof Communities.

Joy Remains

The present form of the world passes away,
and there remains only the joy
of having used this world
to establish God's rule here.
All pomp, all triumphs, all selfish capitalism,
all the false successes of life will pass
with the world's form.
All of that passes away.
What does not pass away is love.
When one has turned money, property,
work in one's calling
into service of others,
then the joy of sharing and the feeling that all are one's family
does not pass away.
In the evening of life you will be judged on love.

Posted by mike at 08:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 17, 2003

the paradox of community

Bene Diction posted some quotes this morning that hit on a conversation Sue and I had last night on the potential dangers of "community gone bad":

"The key to this form of community involves holding a paradox - the paradox of having relationships in which we protect each other's aloneness. We must come together in ways that respect the solitude of the soul, that avoid the unconscious violence we do when we try to save each other, that evoke our capacity to hold another life without dishonouring its mystery, never trying to coerce the other into meeting our own needs"
Parker Palmer - Let Your Life Speak

To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our own imaginings. So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God molds us according to God's love and not according to our fear."
Henri Nouwen

As we strive for the elusive "community", protecting each other's aloneness without trying to save each other needs to be a serious priority... and will prove to be a serious challenge. And while we journey together everything that happens contributes to the mural of our own story. God will redeem and use our stories - the real ones, not some made up sunday school flannel graph story of how we should be. With that as encouragement let's go for it.

Posted by mike at 08:59 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

silent church

"I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any

Ralph Waldo Emerson

(Thanks to Robert for the quote.)

Posted by mike at 08:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 16, 2003

emerging pastors

Some Characteristics of an Emergent Pastor
(From The Mute Troubadour)

1) Is a "tentmaker;" does not rely on a local church/congregation for financial support. Will accept such support only if freely given, because it is right for God's people to support those who serve the Gospel of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:1-21).

2) Is spiritually motivated by Matthew 5 - 7; Matthew 28:20; John 1, 3, and 17; 1 Corinthians 12 - 13; Ephesians 5; and Philippians 2:3-11.

3) Is theologically and vocationally motivated by Matthew 25:31-46; Matthew 28:16-20; and especially Ephesians 4:4-16, and 2 Timothy 4:1-5.

4) Shepherds people to/with Christ by way of the scriptures and sacraments.

5) Christ-oriented, not career oriented. (The very notion of a "pastoral career" is a travesty of the word "pastor.")

6) Understands that love is self-giving, not sacrificial in the sense of "losing" something.

7) Clear sense of self in relationship to God and others.

8) Bound and abandoned to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

9) Serves the demands of the Gospel, not those of people.

10) Understands the difference between church tradition and local custom(s), that customs are expendable while traditions are renewable.

11) Consciously works with the Holy Spirit in serving the Kingdom on earth.

12) Is a servant, not a manager; a servant, not a technician; a servant, not an entrepreneur; a servant, not a CEO, "senior minister/pastor", "coach", or "advisor."

13) Has banished the words "leader" and "leadership" from his/her self-understanding as to the pastors' role among God's people. (See #12.)

14) Has rejected the institutionalized church, but avidly seeks and works with the instituted Church, however it is manifested in this world.

Posted by mike at 09:33 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

digital eye on the world

Sue and I have decided we need to get a digital camera. First of all, no one in our families has a clue about our home - what it looks like, etc. Secondly, I can see a lot of uses for one as we start to develop printed material for the ministry.

I'm appealing to the collective wisdom of all of you - consider this an RFP, if you will.

Like everyone else, I want as much camera as I can get for as little money as possible. However I don't want junk, so I'd rather spend a little more to get something good. I have access to an HP 2210 all in one with SmartMedia capabilities, so that's something to consider as well.

Any suggestions from those of you who have been down this road before me?

Posted by mike at 10:16 AM | Comments (7)

June 15, 2003

small steps of love

How can we choose love when we have experienced so little of it? We choose love by taking small steps of love every time there is an opportunity. A smile, a handshake, a word of encouragement, a phone call, a card, an embrace, a kind greeting, a gesture of support, a moment of attention, a helping hand, a present, a financial contribution, a visit ... all these are little steps toward love.

Each step is like a candle burning in the night. It does not take the darkness away, but it guides us through the darkness. When we look back after many small steps of love, we will discover that we have made a long and beautiful journey.

Henri Nouwen

Posted by mike at 07:42 AM | Comments (2)

June 14, 2003

managing God

"Whenever I meet a Buddhist leader, I meet a holy man. Whenever I meet a Christian leader, I meet a manager."

- An observation from a Japanese businessman

Posted by mike at 07:44 PM | Comments (1)

additions to the family

You may have noticed I've done a little tinkering with the various links sections over to the right. I've split up what I've just read and what I'm still reading, and I've set up a Communities section. In the last few days I've found some new sites - at least new to me - that I want to spend some time looking into. Finally, I've added a couple of Fellow Travelers.

Jared Williams has been popping up in various comments all over the blogosphere. Makes me think he spends almost as much time in front of the computer as I do. I've enjoyed what he has had to say, and I'm looking forward to hearing more about what's going on over at The Bridge Communities, where he does something or other. (By the way, they have something coming up this fall called the Soliton Sessions. I wonder how long it would take to drive from Vancouver to Ventura, California?

Ventura Highway in the sunshine
Where the days are longer
The nights are stronger than moonshine
You're gonna go I know

'Cause the free wind is blowin' through your hair
And the days surround your daylight there
Seasons crying no despair
Alligator lizards in the air, in the air

Sorry... I went away for a moment, but I'm back)

I've added Ryan Hale as well. Anybody who gets a mention of their living room on Jordon's blog must be doing something right. Ryan appears to be associated with Levi's Table, who I looked at a while back and want to spend more time on.

I think there will be some more tinkering in the days ahead.

Posted by mike at 07:33 PM | Comments (3)

leading dying churches

Darryl's new blog is up and running (and blogrolled on the right).

The past few weeks, I've been thinking about dying churches. I've read about every type of church - the purpose-driven church, the turnaround church, the naturally developed church, and so on. What I haven't read about is the dying church. Jesus talked about the need for us to die to ourselves, to take up our cross daily and die to ourselves, and that if we wanted to save our lives we'd lose it, but if we willingly died to ourselves we'd really live.

I'm wondering - does this apply to the church? Especially these days, when a church can be so easily consumed by providing great programs, building new and better buildings, growing, etc.? Why is it that so much of my life as a pastor is so consumed with preserving an institution rather than in dying to ourselves and staying on mission?

...I'm hoping to ultimately write a book on what it means to be a dying church. This will be the place I'll flesh out some of the ideas and interact with you. This will be the place where some of my crappy first drafts (as Anne Lamott would say, except more colorfully) will get written.

Be sure to become a regular visitor. I know I want to contribute and to see what comes of it all.

Posted by mike at 06:59 AM | Comments (2)

howdy pilgrim

Andrew Jones reports that the pilgrimage season has begun!
Sounds very cool. I particularly like the sounds of the Celtic trails in Scotland.

Posted by mike at 06:47 AM | Comments (0)

boys to men

Boy Soldiers Toting AK-47s Put at Front of Congo's War

BUNIA, Congo -- With his baggy jeans and oversized military fatigues, Eric Mabele patrolled this town with a rifle at his side and a few grenades looped around his belt.

Enemy forces are scattered all around Bunia, eager to fight their way in. Fierce-looking French troops have been storming into town this week to take up peacekeeping duties. But Eric, slouching and taking a sip of beer, said he wasn't scared. At 12 years old, he is an experienced soldier.

"I am not afraid," said Eric, who has curly black hair and long eyelashes and said he had shot three people during the fighting between his Hema ethnic group and their rivals, the Lendus.

Lounging with some of his less seasoned comrades -- 7- and 8-year-olds who also carried guns -- Eric explained that he had to be ready to kill any Lendu or foreign soldier who challenged him. "I am a soldier," he said. "If today I kill someone, I am okay."

From The Washington Post.

Child soldiers is an issue I became more aware of during my time with World Vision. Rehabilitating these children is extremely difficult, and many drift back to the enivitable results.

Posted by mike at 06:31 AM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2003

travel light

Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge:
"Don't begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don't try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.

"Don't think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start. You don't need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment, and all you need to keep that going is three meals a day. Travel light."

Matthew 10:5-10 (The Message) (Brought to my attention by Rob at SacMission)

Posted by mike at 08:21 PM | Comments (1)

matrix unloaded

Forget about stepping out to catch Matrix Reloaded this weekend if you happen to be in Egypt.

...Egypt's censorship board felt the movie could subject viewers to "crises." In a statement, the board declared that "Matrix Reloaded" touches on subjects considered sacrosanct to the religiously conservative Islamic nation.

"It explicitly handles the issue of existence and creation which are related to the three divine religions, which we all respect and believe in," it said.

Other problems, according to the statement, include that the movie "tackles the issue of the creator and his creations, searching for the origin or creation and the issue of compulsion and free will."

Posted by mike at 01:44 PM | Comments (2)


Just like my Australian twin (who is somehow younger than I am) My Bloginality is INFP!!!

"As an INFP, you are Intraverted, iNtuative, Feeling , Perceiving.
This makes your primary focus on Introverted Feeling with Extraverted Intuition.

This is defined as a NF personality, which is part of Carl Jung's Idealist (Identity Seeking) type, and more specifically the Healers or Idealist

As a weblogger, you have wonderful words to express your feelings because of your idealism. Because you don't like conflict, you may be likely to make one list of links and leave it for a long time without updating for fear of offending."

Of course, my links list isn't anywhere as bad as Darren's. Maybe I've just got a mild case.

Posted by mike at 04:48 AM | Comments (9)

June 12, 2003

who needs seats?

OK - Steely Dan may not be coming to Vancouver, but here's a ticket I can get!

Don't you love the disclaimer?

The parties acknowledge that this is a statement of intent and belief and is not intended as a contract for services, transportation or the supply of goods. The ticket issuer makes no warranties or representations as to the state of existence implied by the term "Heaven" or the duration, permanence and conditions thereof. The issuer of this Ticket To Heaven disclaims all express and implied warranties, including but not limited to, implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose.

I'm glad we cleared that up. From the Slacktivist, who's still cleaning out his Favorites.

Posted by mike at 02:22 PM | Comments (0)


"There's something comfortable about reducing Christianity to a list of dos and don'ts, whether someone's list comes from mindless fundamentalism or mindless liberalism: traditionalists always know where they stand, and this helps reduce anxiety. Dos-and-don'ts-ism has the advantage that you don't need wisdom. You don't have to think subtly or make hard choices."

~ Robert C. Roberts, Theologian

Posted by mike at 11:20 AM | Comments (0)

a secret

Here we are at post #410, and I'm about to reveal a previously unknown (to many but not all of you) secret: I am one of the biggest Steely Dan fans you or I will ever know.

My friend Dave and I were in the 3rd row the last time they came through Toronto ('96, I think). They're coming back - to Toronto, that is. No Vancouver date! You just can't win.

Check out Steely Dan: Confessions. Watch Episode 5 for a little philosophy/theology from tha back of a cab in Las Vegas. DON'T watch Episode 2 if you don't want to know where they got their name (you might be offended). You can also listen to the new album there as well.

Man - no Vancouver date!!

Posted by mike at 10:23 AM | Comments (7)


Last Night C.S. Lewis and I were spending some time on the balcony. (The Magician's Nephew, the first in the Chronicles of Narnia series.)

Within the space of 10 minutes not one, but two bald eagles flew past, both with a salmon in their talons. Very cool.

We're not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy. (No offense to those of you still in Kansas.)

Posted by mike at 08:59 AM | Comments (2)

June 11, 2003

wedding bells

A certain someone who shall remain nameless has been trying all day to goad me into posting on the legalization of gay marriages in Ontario.

From the Globe and Mail:

Toronto — Ontario will register the marriages of gay and lesbian couples following a controversial court ruling that legalizes same-sex unions in the province, the attorney-general said Wednesday.

"I'm charged to follow the laws and will follow the laws with regards to this matter," Norm Sterling said as he headed into a morning cabinet meeting. Asked if Ontario would register the marriages, Sterling said: "Absolutely."

Other than to draw this to the attention of those who may not be aware of it, I'm not biting. I will point you to Jordon's thoughts on the subject, which sound about right.

Posted by mike at 07:55 PM | Comments (17)


(I find it ironic that this follows on the heels of the Moby quote below. Oh well...)

Mark Riddle is ranting (I know - I was shocked too!) about Passion. (See his June 11 post.) And apparently he was sufficiently worked up to get Jared going on the same subject. (June 11 for him, too.)

Passion is an issue for me, being an INFP and all. (Generally if I'm not feeling the passion, I get bored, then I shut down.) Part of the problem is I'm totally turned off by the "always up" crowd that thinks your outward passion is in direct correlation to your inward state. Mark and Jared go a long way to refocus us on what passion means, and the cost. Good work, guys.

Posted by mike at 03:08 PM | Comments (2)


"I love Christ, but I don't see how I can call myself a Christian, because I don't know what that word means anymore."
- Moby

(This dude has been reading my mind. Good tunes, too.)

Posted by mike at 02:48 PM | Comments (0)

right, wrong or good

You know the old saying "It's better to be lucky than good"? Well, I'm starting to think It's better to be good than right.

My friend Steve and I have been eMailing a little about the book A New Kind of Christian. Here's a quote from Chapter 8 that's humbled us both recently:

"When it comes to other religions, the challenge in modernity was to prove that we're right and they're wrong. But I think we have a different challenge in postmodernity. The question isn't so much whether we're right but whether we're good. And it strikes me that goodness, not just rightness, is what Jesus said the real issue was--you know, good trees produce good fruit, that sort of thing. If we Christians would take all the energy we put into proving we're right and others are wrong and invested that energy in pursuing and doing good, somehow I think that more people would believe we are right."

"I think some Christians use Jesus as a shortcut to being right. In the process they bypass becoming humble or wise. They figure if they say 'Jesus' enough, it guarantees they won't be stupid."

Food for thought.

Posted by mike at 01:09 PM | Comments (4)

June 10, 2003

no title...

...because there are no words to describe this.

(Link from the Slacktivist, who's been cleaning out his favorites.)

Posted by mike at 05:50 PM | Comments (3)

give us all a break

Giving God a Break

God must be feeling dizzy, listening to American evangelicals pray for help in converting Muslims from their vile faith while Muslims appeal for assistance in stomping out bloodthirsty Christian infidel invaders.

So maybe God, along with all of us, will find relief following a milestone last month: some leading evangelicals called on their own prophets of pugnacity to zip it. We can, er, pray, that responsible Muslim leaders will follow that wise example and similarly rein in their own extremists.

The "loving rebuke" by conservative Christians of their fire-breathing brethren came at a Washington conference. This helped move us back from the clash of civilizations that hard-liners in both Islam and Christianity are pushing us all toward.

Franklin Graham, Billy's son, has led the call to arms with blasts like his description of Islam as "a very evil and wicked religion." In addition, Pat Robertson dismissed Muhammad as "an absolute wild-eyed fanatic, a robber and brigand," and Jerry Vines, the former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, labeled Muhammad a "demon-possessed pedophile."

Mr. Graham is not a nut. His Samaritan's Purse organization is an exceptionally well-managed charity that provides $150 million annually in food and medical care in some of the grimmest corners of the third world.

Still, he clearly subscribes to that essential human conceit that God is on the pew beside us, a member of our own sect. As Spinoza noted, "If a triangle could speak, it would say . . . that God is eminently triangular."

The repudiation of the radical comments on Islam reflects the way the evangelical movement has grown increasingly tolerant over the years. Now even the most conservative adherents no longer give the impression that they are gathering piles of rocks to deal with gays or single mothers. Vituperations about Islam are a throwback, not the trend.

The National Association of Evangelicals "has gone through periods of time when our differentiating value was the things we were against," says Ted Haggard, the new president of the organization. "One of the reasons the board selected me is that I am a strong advocate of the things we are for."

"I am for people being born again," he added. "I am for people reading the Bible; I am for people receiving the benefits that Jesus has to offer and looking to Jesus as a model for life and godliness. These ideas are so positive that if we can communicate that, we don't need to spend so much time articulating the things we are against."

That message of evangelizing for one's own beliefs rather than against heretics is one that Muslim extremists should absorb.

To be sure, Mr. Haggard and other evangelical leaders don't seem to disagree fundamentally with the loudmouths; they just think that insults make bad public relations and put missionaries at risk.

"It's really a concern about safety," not doctrine, said Clive Calver, president of World Relief, an evangelical aid group, and he adds about Christian aid workers: "These people are in danger. I don't want to see them killed."

The demonization of Islam by the Christian right always seemed opportunistic. Cal Thomas, the evangelical commentator, notes that both left and right need enemies to galvanize fund-raising, and he adds: "The right has been looking for an enemy to replace communism since 1990. And maybe Islam is it."

Nonetheless, even if it's about P.R. more than substance, the step toward civility is important. My conversations with Muslims around the world have left me convinced that nobody has done more harm to America's image in the Islamic world than Franklin Graham and those like him. So let's all hope that Mr. Graham keeps his mouth zipped and focuses on what he does superbly: aid work.

President Bush, the world's No. 1 evangelical, can help. Mr. Bush's own trajectory reflects the softening of the religious right. In 1994 in Texas, Mr. Bush endorsed sodomy laws aimed at homosexuals; in contrast, as president Mr. Bush has appointed an openly gay man to be an ambassador.

Mr. Bush displayed real moral leadership after 9/11 when he praised Islam as a "religion of peace" and made it clear that his administration would not demonize it. He should now join the evangelical leadership in repudiating remarks by religious zealots who preach contempt for other religions — and then we should demand that Saudi and Yemeni leaders repudiate their own zealots.

From The New York Times Op/Ed - June 10, 2003

Thanks to Robert for the heads-up.

Posted by mike at 05:30 PM | Comments (2)


In reading the Slacktivist this morning I'm reminded of a biblical slap to the head that I received last year.

While working at World Vision a "famous" Canadian evangelical came to our weekly chapel service to speak on AIDS. (If I mentioned his name most Canadians would know him. I won't, because many would have mixed emotions - I know I did. I don't want those emotions to taint your reaction.) More specifically he spoke on the western church's refusal to act with respect to the pandemic that kills thousands, mostly in "other places", everyday.

As a Christian "lifer" I thought I knew the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. Everyone does, right? The place was a mess, but we'll wrap it all up under the heading of "sexual immorality". And then this man read us this verse:

Sodom's sins were pride, laziness, and gluttony, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. (Ezekiel 16:49)

Somehow or other I don't think I'd ever seen that verse before - and if I had, well, I'd never really seen it. A couple of things come to mind. First, all sin is equal. Pride is sin. Sexual immorality is sin. It's all sin.

The second point is for those of you who say I'm taking this verse out of context. Yes, if you include the next verse it says this:

Sodom's sins were pride, laziness, and gluttony, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. She was proud and did loathsome things, so I wiped her out, as you have seen.

Aha! There's the sexual part. That's the Sodom I know... and now I can feel a little better about pride, etc. But, at the risk of contradicting myself... which sin was covered first in the passage?

It's early and I'm rambling. You get the point. BTW, some of you are not going to like the context in which Fred references that verse. I can't help you there.

Posted by mike at 04:20 AM | Comments (3)

June 09, 2003

pentecost lite

The Post-Modern Pilgrim has been reflecting on a Pentecost service that was, apparently, less than it could have been.

Go and read (Monday, June 9. Curses, Blogger!)

Posted by mike at 08:35 PM | Comments (0)

i am romans, hear me... roar?

You have insight on what it means to turn your life around and try to live for God. You really want people to understand the deeper things of God, but have a tendency to come across as pushy and prideful... and at times, maybe you are. But you know your weakness and work hard at trying to temper it with grace and compassion.

You are Romans.

Which book of the Bible are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

OK, so I took this test (thanks for the link Rachel). I didn't like the description of Romans, so I figured I'd take it again and fudge it a little. Then I read the description again.

Yeah, that's me.

Posted by mike at 05:06 PM | Comments (9)

back in the market II

OK, for what it's worth my Blogshares are now active.

$0.27 - I'm a penny stock. That hurts.

Listed on BlogShares

Posted by mike at 02:31 PM | Comments (6)

June 08, 2003

a mighty wind

I have to see this movie! Christopher Guest is brilliant. (Dan Allendar and Brian McLaren showed us clips of Best in Show during the Shifting Realities gathering last month!)

Thanks Richard for reminding me.

Posted by mike at 09:15 PM | Comments (2)

far less easy

A great many of those about me would be imprisoned under any law; in France, as here, they would be regular jail-birds. But I loved them better and better -- and still I knew how little was my love for them compared to Christ's. It is easy enough for a man to be honest and a "Good Christian" and keeper of "the moral law", when he has his own little room, his purse well filled -- when he is well shod and well fed. It is far less easy for a man who has to live from day to day, roaming from city to city, from factory to factory. It is far less easy for someone just out of jail, with nothing to wear but old down-at-the-heels shoes and a shirt in rags. All of a sudden, I understood our Lord's words: "I was in prison ... and you visited me not." All these men, lazy, outside the law, starving: these failures of all kinds -- they were dear to Christ -- they were Christ, waiting in prison for someone to lean over Him -- and if we were true Christians, we would do them every kindness.

... Henri Perrin, Priest-Workman in Germany [1947]

I thought this was a timely quote. Taken from Iphy's site.

Posted by mike at 05:30 AM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2003

we're not weird

Sue and I had a great experience yesterday. We went downtown and hung out at Starbucks with Lisa, who first contacted me through the blog. She was interested in talking about doing church in an emerging culture, but after hearing more about the ministry, and putting that together with her background and interests, we found that we had a lot more to talk about!

Lisa is the second reader of the blog I've met. (Ronz and I are getting together again next week.) You have to admit it seems a little strange - meeting people over the internet. She was worried we'd think she was a stalker! Her closing remark as we parted ways was particularly profound:

"I'm so glad you weren't weird!"

Posted by mike at 07:46 PM | Comments (4)

June 06, 2003

another book

Mark Riddle is jumping on the "write a book" bandwagon with a good one:

Did the Church Lie to me or What?
How youth ministry failed to prepare you for real life and what to do about it.

Youth Ministry isn't the church? A journey from Youth ministry to church.
Why I'm writing this book and what your youth ministry unintentially taught you.

Chapter 1 - Lie #1 - Church is about you.
Chapter 2 - Lie #2 - Church should always be fun.
Chapter 3 - Lie #3 - Church should meet my needs
Chapter 4 - Lie #4 - All Christians attend church. (being the church vs. going to church)
Chapter 5 - Lie #5 - Spiritual Life is Easy.
Chapter 6 - Lie #6 - Christianity makes sense. (Philosophy 101 your youth pastor's worst nightmare)
Chapter 7 - Lie #7 - It's about grace... but you have to work for it.
Chapter 8 - Truth #1 - Adulthood. What your parents never told you but should have.
Chapter 9 - Truth #2 - What is a man?
Chapter 10 - Truth #3 - What is a woman?
Chapter 11 - What now? Some very practical Advice

I'm not sure where I'm going to put another bookcase... but I'm soon going to need one!

Posted by mike at 10:12 AM | Comments (2)

joint heirs

More deep thinking from Henri this morning...

We continue to put ourselves down as less than Christ. Thus, we avoid the full honour as well as the full pain of the Christian life. But the Spirit that guided Jesus guides us. Paul says: "The Spirit himself joins with our spirit to bear witness that we are children of God. And if we are children, then we are heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:16-17).

When we start living according to this truth, our lives will be radically transformed. We will not only come to know the full freedom of the children of God but also the full rejection of the world. It is understandable that we hesitate to claim the honor so as to avoid the pain. But, provided we are willing to share in Christ's suffering, we also will share in his glory (see Romans 8:17).

Posted by mike at 08:45 AM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2003

friends first

I'm flipping through the Fast Company web site. Specifically, I'm scanning the speaker notes from the just completed Real Time Miami event. (I went to Real Time Philly a couple of years back and was blown away.)

Here's a great quote I just came across from Seth Godin, a contributing editor of the magazine and author of Purple Cows:

Why aren't your companies built from top to bottom to make people friends before you try to make them into customers?

(You can read his whole bit here.)

Lets do a little editing on that one:

Why aren't our churches built from top to bottom to make people friends before we try to make them into Christians?

Now that would be community.

Posted by mike at 09:26 PM | Comments (0)


This is not my normal fare (at least not recently), but...

Mr. President, you should be ashamed
by Jim Wallis

If biblical prophets like Amos and Isaiah had read last week's news about what happened to child tax credits for low-income families, they surely would be out screaming on the White House lawn about the justice of God - and be quickly led away by the Secret Service. The New York Times reported that in a last-minute revision of the tax cut President Bush just signed into law, House and Senate Republicans removed the child tax credit from most families who make under $26,625. This will effectively prevent almost 12 million children, one in every six in America, from receiving any benefit. Middle- and upper-middle income families will see an increase in their child tax credits from $600 to $1,000, but low-income families and their children will be systematically excluded. The inclusion of these families in child tax credit benefits was in the Senate package, but was stripped out in the conference committee, reportedly to make room for more dividend and capital gains tax cuts.

Government spending programs sometimes provoke legitimate concerns about effectiveness. This was not a government spending program. It was a child tax credit that would have put money directly into the hands of our poorest mothers and fathers who are trying desperately to raise their children. "These are the people who need it the most and who will spend it the most," said Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), whose provision to include low-income families was dropped from the final bill. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) voted against the bill, calling the omission "ill-founded" and "unfair." So what does such a clear and revealing decision tell us?

Apparently, what is good for middle- and upper-income families and children is too good for the poor. Apparently, stimulating the economy with middle-class mall shopping is a good thing, but helping the grocery budget for low-income single moms is not. Apparently, reducing taxes on stock dividends and capital gains for our wealthiest citizens was the highest priority for the congressional leaders, and there was simply no room left, under the tax cut ceiling, to do anything for poor families. Apparently, the Republican preference of putting money back into people's hands, rather than spending it on government programs, doesn't apply to the poor. We do have our priorities after all.

Let's tell it like the prophets might have: The decision to drop child tax credits for America's poorest families and children in favor of further tax cuts for the rich is morally offensive. It is blatant disregard for the poor, and an outrageous bias toward the rich. In religious terms, the exclusion of any benefits for poor children in the new tax bill should be named as a political sin. And those politicians who utter the words of religion and faith, yet who supported this exclusion of the poor, deserve to be called hypocrites. The White House, which approves all these choices, engages in moral double talk when it espouses faith-based initiatives, then allows the abandonment of poor families. The Republican House and Senate leaders who made these choices against the poor should be ashamed of themselves.

The day after the Times report, the White House defended the decision to remove the child tax credit from poor families. So, Mr. President, you too ought to be ashamed for allowing something to happen that is so conspicuously wrong.

From the latest SojoMail, the weekly piece from Sojourners.

And as an added bonus... Bush vs. Bush

Posted by mike at 06:55 AM | Comments (36)

June 04, 2003

horsing around

Ever have one of these kind of days... just hanging around the corral jamming with the gang?

(Thanks to Malcolm for the link.)

Posted by mike at 09:33 AM | Comments (1)


This morning I've been rummaging around a little over at LiquidThinking.

Jimmy has a great idea for a book: Church®: A Disenfranchised Christian's View of Ecclesia Americanus. Swing over and check out the rough outline for his chapters. (June 3rd and May 22. Hate that blogger!)

While I was there I came across an awesome quote in another post of his:

We've learned to be good people, but not righteous people...and I'm not talking about that fundy righteous thing where you listen to the right music, wear the right t-shirts, and read the right Bibles. I'm talking about the righteousness that feeds the hungry, houses the homeless, and clothes the naked. (May 6 post)

Preach it, Jimmy! (Thanks to Mark for sending me over there.)

Posted by mike at 07:08 AM | Comments (0)


Leb has some great thoughts on serving others.
Drop by and check it out (Friday May 28 post).

Posted by mike at 06:41 AM | Comments (0)

clothed in Christ

Great words from our friend Henri this morning:

Being a believer means being clothed in Christ. Paul says: "Every one of you that has been baptised has been clothed in Christ" (Galatians 3:26) and "Let your armour be the Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 13:14). This being "clothed in Christ" is much more than wearing a cloak that covers our misery. It refers to a total transformation that allows us to say with Paul: "I have been crucified with Christ and yet I am alive; yet it is no longer I, but Christ living in me" (Galatians 2:20).

Thus, we are the living Christ in the world. Jesus, who is God-made-flesh, continues to reveal himself in our own flesh. Indeed, true salvation is becoming Christ.

The simplicity of these words was almost lost on me. I've talked before about the difference in being a "believer" and a disciple/apprentice. In simple terms a believer knows they will go to Heaven when they die, while an apprentice tries to help create Heaven here and now. That's my idea of the Kingdom. I've always linked the 2 in a linear fashion, but here Henri connects them totally. In his usual passive, kindly-worded way he has said something much more assertive than any rant I've ever read or written.

Did you catch it?

Posted by mike at 06:22 AM | Comments (0)

June 03, 2003

simple instructions

From Brother Lawrence this morning as I took the early ferry. (I'm up at Roberts Creek for the day - we have 5 months of bank reconciliations to get through!)

... all consists in one hearty renunciation of everything which we are sensible does not lead to God. We might accustom ourselves to a continual conversation with Him with freedom and in simplicity. We need only to recognize God intimately present with us and address ourselves to Him every moment. We need to beg His assistance for knowing His will in things doubtful and for rightly performing those which we plainly see He requires of us, offering them to Him before we do them, and giving Him thanks when we have completed them.

Posted by mike at 08:38 AM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2003

blogging eh?

Over at The Heresy they're compiling a list of Canadian God-bloggers.

Spread the word... and drop by and visit some of my compatriots, eh?!
(Thanks to Bene for catching this.)

Posted by mike at 08:29 PM | Comments (0)

the circle

What at weekend we had - wow!

On Thursday we traveled up to "The Creek" to prepare for our Board meeting. Friday we spent in conversation with Lars Dunberg and his wife, and Emily Voorhies, the Executive Director of Women of Global Action. (Global Action, based in the United States, is the ministry that we are affiliated with.) Throughout the day various members of the Baord drifted in, along with members of our "core group" - friends of the ministry.

Saturday morning we had our Board meeting. Saturday afternoon we had our core group meeting where we shared what God was saying to us. Some did as they were told and brought "stuff" - something that told a story about their journey. Many talked about the "stuff" that was in their heads which they were trying to dispose of (a technical description of deconstruction!)

Sunday morning we met again for house church, and then raced for the ferries and scattered to the wind again. What a great time of worship and encouragement!

I was fascinated to look around the room at the 20-ish people. We were of all shapes, sizes, ages and experience. Leaders of a large international ministry. Individual "missionaries". Alternative church planters. University professors - including an authority on Thomas Merton. Former pastors. A retired Salvation Army officer with 46 years ministry experience (most of it overseas)... who now speaks of the need to get some "stuff" out of his head. I think he impressed me the most. Having served God in that culture (that I know so well) for so long, he is - at this late stage - able to talk about issues, questions and doubts that would give most of his contemporaries heart attacks.

In short it was a rag-tag crew of interesting people with at least 2 common ties. First, we all want to die to self and do what God wants us to (and we all struggle with that task). And we all - to some degree - no longer feel like we "fit" into a traditional church model.

Moderns, post-moderns and misfits.. oh my!

Posted by mike at 07:32 PM | Comments (2)

Jesus junk & "the list"

Winn Griffin has taken the plunge and posted his first (by my calculation, anyway) church rant (Wed. May 28)! And he combined it with a "Christian book store" rant for the holy one-two punch.

The most fun was in the list of churches that managed to get listed in the directory. My son and I had a great time reading them. He gave me some of the ideas below. We started out with the Anglicans but only one made the cut. Next came the Assembly of God (if only all their assemblies were of God). The Baptist were next: General Baptist Conference; Baptist American; Baptist Conservative; Baptist Fundamental Independent (there was only one of those); Baptist General; Baptist General Conference; Baptist Independent (I guess they don't associate with the other Baptist); Baptist Reformed (this could only mean that all the other Baptist before were un-reformed); Baptist Regular (what? all the others must have been irregular); Baptist Southern (I guess if we can have Southern Fried Chicken in the Northwest we can have a brand of Baptist that are southern). Wow, I made it through the Baptist. Then there was Bible Missionary (you must own a Bible to be missionary?). Next was Christian (I concluded that none of the other churches were Christian because this group was listed separately). Then came the Christian & Missionary Alliance; Christian Disciples of Christ (since disciples of Christ should be Christian can you have an unChristinan Disciples of Christ) and Christian Reformed (I seem to recall, yes there it is right above, something called the Christian Church; I concluded that that group must really be the unreformed Christians). Next listed was the Church of Christ and the next one really was funny to me, it was the Christ of Christ United, but it was listed separate from the Church of Christ (can that really be?). We moved on to the Church of God (wow! God finally made it into the name) and the Church of God Anderson IN and the Church of God Cleveland TN (they are surely a long way from home on Sundays). Then, we have the Church of God in Christ (I wondered why the Holy Spirit didn't make the cut). Next, we have the listing called Community (one could possibly conclude that none of the other churches listed were communities). Next, the Covenant and Evangelical Covenant were listed (I guess the former is not really an Evangelical church). Now in the "Es" we have the Evangelical Free (Free from what I thought). The next category was only one church: Family Fellowship (does that mean that you are only family if you attend there?). We then have the Fellowship of Christian Association (do they really only fellowship with other Christians, no wonder the world is going to hell in a hand basket). Then we have the Foursquare Gospel (I have always considered that a really funny name, it always makes me think that the gospel is really square. Could you have a three or two square gospel?). Next were the Friends (I surmised that all the other churches probably didn't have any friends because they were all in this place). The next one listed was Full Gospel (no part gospels will do and I guess that Paul might not fit there either). As if Full Gospel was not enough we have the Full Gospel Pentecostal (a kinda of Gospel and Acts thingy?). I thought we had left the Baptist (how many more can there be?) when I encountered the Fundamental Independent Baptist (only one, I guess that's why they are independent, I guess we could call them the FIBs for short). Then we have the General Assembly of Regular Baptist (can you be a Regular Baptist and not be a part of the General Assembly?). Next was the Independent (of course they are listed independent of all of the other churches as their name implies). But wait, we also have the Independent Fundamental Christian Association (an association of one, how strange). Then we have the Inter-Denominational churches (they can't figure who they are a part of so they are listed as being in the middle until they grow up and discover which denomination they side with). Next were the Lutherans; the Lutheran (ELCA) [only those inside would know what ELCA would stand for]; and the Lutheran Missouri Synod (only one, there must be more in the home state of Missouri, don't you think?). Then we have the Mennonite Bretheran (an all male church?); Messianic (are they the really anointed ones), and Methodist Free (maybe you can go to this church and the Evangelical Free church and it doesn't cost anything). Next listed: Methodist United (but as above these United Methodist are listed separately). Then Methodist of North American was listed (I wondered if they were in South America if they would still call themselves the Methodist of North America, probably so!). Just when I thought it was safe and there were no more Baptist, up popped the Missionary Baptist (they must not be very missionary because there was only one of them listed). The next category was Missionary Church (I guess these folks decided not to be Baptist); and then the Nazarenes (I didn't get how a group of natives from Nazareth would have a church in the Northwest). It was there on the page Non-Denominational Bible churches and then Non-Denominational churches (I guess that you don't have to have a Bible to get into the second kind). I couldn't believe my eyes: North American Baptist (how many more of these brothers and sisters are there?). The Open Bible churches were next (do you think that they positioned themselves this way because the Bible is not opened in so many other churches?). The next listed group was Pentecostal (I guess they don't consider the Assembly of God or Foursquare their Pentecostal brothers and sisters!). Right behind them and differentiated from them was the Pentecostal/Full Gospel (guess the other group only has part of the Gospel). The Presbyterian, Presbyterian Church USA and the Presbyterian Orthodox were next (the first group must be operating in the USA without permission while the last group suggest that neither of the other Presbyterians are orthodox). Next were the Salvation Army (do you have to enlist to go here?) and the Seventh Day Adventist (could you be a Seventh Day Adventist and subvert their dominate paradigm and go to their church on Friday or maybe Sunday. (I guess that would make you a Sixth Day Adventist or a First Day Adventist). Finally, the United Methodist (again united but listed separately, what are they thinking?).

I commented to Winn that I was on a self-imposed rant fast... but that didn't prevent me from linking to others. Hoowah - almost as fun as writing it yourself, only without the guilt!

Posted by mike at 07:06 PM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2003

on top of the world

Back to the land of cable! While we were in that other place (dial-up land) I missed marking the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest by the world famous Kiwi Sir Edmund Hillary and the most famous Sherpa of them all, Tenzing Norgay.

Instead, I'll leave the final word to that other famous Kiwi - Rachel.

Posted by mike at 05:54 PM | Comments (0)