Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Fine Line

I am discovering that there is a fine line between being "a prophet" and self-appointed, useless living pseudo-martyr. I believe that being prophetic is a calling from God. I also believe that it is easy to lose your vision when circumstances aren't exactly what you think they should be. When that happens, you can become consumed with frustration and self-pity. In this condition, and in the absence of vision, you lose the ability to influence. The tricky part is that a realization that "things aren't as they should be" is necessary for one to be prophetic. Another component is an actual vision of how it could it should be. However, these two things are simply not enough. As Andy Stanley points out, this simply makes you a dreamer, and dreamers can become increasingly despondent as they recognize the disparity between the "real world" and their dream. The prophets...the visionary leaders are the ones who are willing to pour their lives and resources into partnering with God into making that dream a reality. Without that momentum and focus, you become a despondent dreamer. Prophetic, Visionary leaders believe in the dream enough to put their lives behind it. People follow passion, not hopeless complaining. Lately I've caught myself trying to slip into the martyr role. God has used many people (especially my wife, Dana), and Andy Stanley's leadership books (I continue to be astounded at the wisdom in Stanley's stuff. I know I may lose emergent cool points over that, but it remains true.), to show tell me that I was headed down that path and point me back to the path I need to be walking. Join the revolution. We're changing the world.

Friday, April 21, 2006


"I don't use the word 'evangelism' because if you're not a Christian, it sounds like a disease...and if you are a Christian, it is one."
-Rob Bell, "The Revolutionary Voice", YS Convention ATL 2004

I think that we may be "converting" people to the wrong thing. Sometimes I think we may just be giving people a religious excuse to be more selfish than they were before. Is it possible that we are converting people to our ideas about Jesus rather than converting them to Jesus? What if we aren't even doing that much? Are we actually just converting people to an afterlife...for themselves? Most "evangelism" programs I've ever seen seem to be doing exactly that. (convince them how bad Hell is, convince them how bad they are...etc.) I think maybe we're getting it wrong, because people don't seem to be getting "converted" at all. Oh sure, they may start coming to our churches...they may become more "moral" in some sense...but are they really being transformed? Maybe we're showing them the wrong door. What if the afterlife is true, but not the point? What if making it the point has shifted the entire focus of what Christianity, Church, Faith, and "Evangelism" were supposed to be about in the first place.
What if instead of converting people to an afterlife or our particular way of doing church (so that one can go to Heaven), we went about it a different way? What if we actually started caring about people simply because they exist? What if, as our relationships with them grew, they learned our stories of faith and life? What if we then introduced them to the other people in our lives who also have faith and they learned their stories too? Is it possible that people might begin to figure out that all of these stories are a part of a bigger Story? What if they found the experience of us, our stories, and our Story...well, beautiful? Would they think that all of this was "good news"? Over time, might they want to be part of that Story? Might they realize that it really was their Story all along, even though they didn't know it? Would they fall in love with Jesus and want to become like Him? Would they then be ecstatic when they discovered that they got to live with Him forever? What if it was never supposed to be a 5 minute sales pitch? What if it was always supposed to be a Way of life that catches on as it is shared with others?
Helpful Resource:

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Paul calls Jesus' resurrection the firstfruits of what will happen to us (1 Cor. 15). I think this analogy may be lost on most of us. "Firstfruits" points to when a farmer harvested the first part of his crop to ripen. This first sampling of the crop would tell him how the rest of his crop was going to develop. The NT authors did not intend for you to interpret Jesus' resurrection to mean that "Jesus was raised from the dead and therefore your nonmaterial soul has the promise of an afterlife". By using the term "firstfruits" they are saying "This is what it's going to be like for you." Now, I have to state here that I do believe that after you die, if you are a follower of Jesus, your spirit/soul does, in fact, go to "be with God." As Dallas Willard points out "What else would God do with His friends?" This is, however, not the promise of the event we celebrate at Easter. As N.T. Wright points out in Simply Christian, Easter points to not "life after death", but "life after life after death." Even the ancient Jews believed that for God to be faithful to his promise, everyone to whom he had ever been in covenant with would have to be alive to enjoy it's fulfillment. They believed that when God did what God was going to do, all of his people would be there to enjoy the fulfillment of God's dream for the world. This is not simply to say that they would be raised to life again only to get old and die again either. When the New Testament writers describe Jesus' resurrection and his appearances afterwards, (again, as Wright points out), it is almost as if they didn't have the language or vocabulary to describe what they were seeing and experiencing. He was the same as before, yet somehow different. He was familiar, yet at times unrecognizable. He had physicality (he ate, drank, touched, was touched, etc.) but he also walked through walls, came through locked doors, appeared and vanished. He was alive again and he was physical, but he was more than that as well. The biblical word is "glorified", but again, it must be stressed that even this condition is presented as a "firstfruits" for us. We will be free from death and decay. We will be free from the fallout of Genesis 3. But, we will not be raised "incorruptible" to live in a world that is corruptible. Paul states plainly in Romans 8:18-25, that Creation itself has the same promise as the Children of God. Creation itself will be freed from the bondage of death and decay. It will be free from the fallout of Genesis 3. In short: God, human beings, and Creation will become what God had in mind all along and will go on from there forever toward exciting, amazing, and as yet undreamed of possibilities. The kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdom of our God and he will reign forever and ever, Amen. That's what I celebrate at Easter.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Prayer Request (updated)

I just got the message that one of my former students from when I was the Youth Minister for the Palo Alto Church of Christ in Panama City, FL has been injured. He is stationed in Iraq, and this morning he was apparently riding in a Humvee that drove over a landmine. The explosion injured both of his arms and one of his legs. The left arm apparently sustained the most severe injuries. My understanding is that he is in surgery, but was awake and calm when he was taken to the hospital. His name is Rex McKnight. I would greatly appreciate your prayers on his behalf.

(UPDATE) I just got this message from Holly, another former student in relation to Rex.
"We just got a call from one of the guy that has been taking care of Rex in the hospital in Germany. Rex wanted him to call and let us all know he is okay and for us not to worry!
The guys name is Chris. He said that he has really enjoyed taking care of Rex and that he is a great guy. Rex has been talking to him alot and Chris told my mom that he seems to be really spiritual and positive! That's our Rex! Being Jesus no matter were he is and in all cirumstances!

Chris also told us that Rex's arm was pretty banged up but they are doing everything they can. In a couple hours they will be taking Rex into Surgery for his arm. Tomorrow night Chris is going to call and let us know how the surgery went ."