Archives For the Father



I am writing this from the Denver airport as my time to fly is upon me. I will give a few highlights from Day 3.

Wednesday Morning Mike Cope “Community in Lars and the Real GirlHebrews

  • It’s a movie about church, it begins in church and ends in church.
  • Hebrews
    • Imagining a world where we are not our own.
    • Somebody who watches for you.
    • The real test for community is the worst things you have done who is up there watching you.

Wednesday Morning Keynote Scot McKnight @ScotMcKnight “Did Jesus Found the Church?”

Major Idea: The church is naughty and the kingdom is nice

–       People today love the kingdom but are embarrassed by the church

–       The kingdom has come to mean “good things Christians do in the public sector usually involved in the political process.”

  • It has nothing to do with the church…people say
  • Social Justice? Where did we get this idea of social justice? There is one idea of justice in Scripture. Justice is connected to righteousness and justification.
  • Peace…compassion…walking from Cape Town to Alexandria raising money for water.

–       Kingdom has been flattened into an ethic: peace, justice.

–       “When we flatten kingdom to an ethic we deny the gospel.”

–       We have a young group of Christians whose kingdom theory has to do with changed political processes and are neglecting the church.

  • But…doing good in a society is a good thing.
  • Being compassionate is a good thing.
  • Working for peace in our world is a good thing.
  • But we do this because we are disciples of Jesus.

–       Good work versus Kingdom work

  • Did Ghandi do kingdom work?

–       The most profound act of kingdom work is when we celebrate Eucharist on Sunday morning.

–       “You cannot be committed to kingdom unless you are committed to the church and your commitment to the church is the sum total of your commitment to the kingdom.”

–       It is far too easy giving money to Rwanda and not to local people in the church.

–       Matthew 16:13-20

  • Their options to the question were not good enough.
  • Jesus was more than a prophet.  Prophetic Christianity is not enough.
  • The answer is that Jesus is messiah.
  • 1 Samuel 8—“They want a king because they want to be like other nations.”
    • Saul collapse
    • David…
    • Eventually they realize that Jesus is the king.
  • Peter labels Jesus with the right title. When the Messiah was said all the ideas came to completion: Temple, Torah, Land, Citizens, Command, Covenant.

–       When Jesus is the Messiah kingdom will always mean more than social justice.

–       Peter had no idea what Messiah really meant.

  • Messiah –> Kingdom –> Cross –> Resurrection –> Kingdom
  • Kingdom and social justice does not mix well.

–       Jesus came to establish a whole new social order. The ekklesia….the church.

–       There is an inextricable connection between kingdom and church.

–       Church is the only place kingdom work can occur because in the church is the only place where Jesus is king.

–       Kingdom never refers to social action in Scripture.

  • We have become intoxicated with social power and justice.

–       The kingdom is more than an ethic because Jesus is more than a prophet.

–       Kingdom work is about telling people about King Jesus.  Summoning people in the church as the place where God’s redemptive work is now alive.

Wednesday Afternoon Jon Acuff @JonAcuff “Our Relationship With the Gap”

Our job is hard because…

1)   We never feel it is over…

2)   There’s no manual for most of the things you do

3)   The success rate is really low for youth ministers

4)   You run into a period of life most people run from

  1. 1 out of every 4 girl will be raped by the time they graduate

5)   We don’t get to see the end of the song.

Three things of the challenges

1)   SUCCESS

–       It’s so easy to compare.

–       Never compare your beginning to somebody else’s middle.

–       Always play to the size of your heart not to the size of your audience.

–       If you tie what you do to the success/failure of it you will disappoint.

–       Measure your obedience not your results

–       God will not be handcuffed by my failures or unleashed by my successes.

2)   FEAR

–       It only bothers you when you do things that matter.

–       Voices?

  • You are not a youth minister…
  • You are woman.

–       The best way to fight those is to share those. Fears fears community.

–       The higher you climb in leadership the harder it is for you to be honest.

–       “Enough” is a slippery slope

–       If you ask “fear” when you will have enough experience it will be later.

–       Fear always says, “This is forever.”

–       What to do with voices

  • Write down the voice…
  • Answer it with truth
  • Share them

3)   HATERS

–       We are not good with criticism and compliments

  • Critic’s Math – 1 Insult + 1000 Compliments = 1 Insult
  • We have the ability to lose heart with insults.
  • Are you giving power to the very people you don’t need to give it to.

Those were the extent of my notes. I did not attend an afternoon class because I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with Scot McKnight and Rusty Pettus for an hour and talk theology. Scot was gracious enough to extend some time just to talk and share some coffee. He even bought my coffee which he did not have to do. Before I close this blog I want to share something I did on my way back from Denver. I visited the Century 16 Theater in Aurora where 12 people were killed by James Holmes. Tragedy. Just like praying at Columbine I wanted to reflect and pray at the theater. To the left is a picture I took while driving to the theater.

Tomorrow I hope to reflect on the week with some implications.


Great day I experienced with classes, super-sessions and keynote messages from some of the finest people in Christianity. I typed 10 pages of notes yesterday so I cannot include everything here but I want to give you some highlights that stood out to me.

Tuesday Morning, Mike Cope “Spiritual Intubation: How Community Keeps Us Alive” The Wizard of Oz: Revelation’s View of Community

  • “No church ever existed in a pure state. The church is made up of sinners. The fleas come with the dogs.” (Eugene Peterson)
  • Four characters who are known by their deficiencies. Much like Christians today.
  • Showing of who Oz really is. “The great Oz has spoken, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”
  • Pergamum
    • It’s a great distance from Colorado Springs to Pergamum.
    • In Pergamum it was very, very different.
    • Everywhere people went they told two stories: the power of Rome and Greek gods and goddesses. Everywhere they went they are told that they are caught up in and how could they not believe it. It “has to be true.”  Every market, athletic event, silver item told them about temple worship.
    • Where is the Pergamum church of Christ?
      • A tiny…insignificant few.
      • Imagine holding on to the story of Jesus while walking among the temples and other places where the minority is huge.
      • Have you been the minority?
      • Power, honor, identity was wrapped up into gods and Rome not Christ.
    • Persecuted Christians get it
    • “Though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw he saw no creatures so wild as one of his own commentators.” G. K. Chesteron
  • Deep Community is anchored in Jesus
  • Deep community has to be eschatological in nature.
  • Deep community is at its best when it is part of a mission…a larger story.

Tuesday Morning Keynote Kurt Johnston @kurtjohnston “Deep, Redefined”

  • Have you ever stopped and thought about all the things in youth ministry that you don’t do very well? We are great at trying to control the perceptions of other people. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great at creating perception of us.
  • Four truths I have learned that have 1) pointed out my shallowness and 2) led him into a deeper experience in faith.
    • Life is a squiggle
    • I need a travel partner
    • Busyness will keep you in the shallow end.
    • When you begin to have a long view of youth ministry

Tuesday Super Session Frank Viola @FrankViola “The Missing Ingredient”

Observations about ministry to young people:

  • Catch30 Crisis – Human beings go through developmental stages as they get old. When they are 30 they reassess every decision they made in their 20s and they either abandon what hey believed or abandon them. You don’t know where someone is spiritually until they are thirty. You could not serve in the house of God until you were 30. Jesus did not begin his ministry until he was 30. Young people need to be prepared for this.
  • There is a difference between youthful enthusiasm and spirituality. Most of the big Christian movements are built on youthful enthusiasm. The problem is that many operates on youthful enthusiasm and the well runs dry
  • You can’t pass on to those whom you minister to what you have not experienced yourself.
  • I have to prepare them for the forgotten beatitude. Blessed is he who is not offended by me.

Other Notes from class…

  • If you cut the bible in any place it will bleed Jesus Christ.
  • Moses and Christ
  • Creation and Christ
  • Isaac and Christ
  • Jacob and Christ
  • Conclusion  – #1 – Find Christ in the bible. #2 – Do business with the Lord

Tuesday Afternoon Class 1 Josh Graves @JoshGraves “The Bible Jesus Read: Genesis 1-2”

2 Timothy 3:14-17; John 5

  • We need a more mystical understanding of Scripture. But also how it calls us to new spaces.
  • “All Scripture” does not exist yet and he has in mind Torah.
  • Inspired…he does not infallible, inerrant. They never show up in the bible. Sometimes the most important work we do is not learning new things but relearning old things.
  • 2 Timothy is not about proving Scripture over science but it is about inviting people into God’s world in order to see the world differently and “to do something about it.”
  • These stories carry the freight in any given culture.

Genesis 1

  • God can’t help but to create. He is in control. The things God creates would not be believable if we have not seen them.
  • Everything else that has creativity or imagination that somehow it is all linked back to the God who started.
  • One of the ways Genesis invites us to go deeper and that we live in a good creation. Does not deny the dark side of life but he made everything and called it good.
  • Most people who tell the story of God begin with Genesis 3 and not Genesis 1.
  • We have to introduce paradox to our students. Life is full of joy and pain. Paradox is one of the greatest contribution to the Western world.

Tuesday Afternoon Class 2 Sally Gary @centerpeaceinc “Reaching out to Teens Who Identify as Gay and Lesbians”

Many who struggle with same sex attraction but still love the Lord.  Struggles do not divide us.

Starved for Intimacy. Facebook and its struggles for intimacy. Question is: How can we meet this need? This desire for community. There is a great need for this connection.

What teens learn from the world: Glee, Modern Family.

What teens learn from the church: Nasty messages about homosexuals from the church

What they need is looking for a safe place.

How to be a safe place?

Deal with our own fears.

  • Change our thinking
  • Change our language
  • Listen
  • Be consistent
  • Model the Love and Acceptance of Christ

Tuesday Night Keynote Frank Viola @FrankViola “God so loved the world vs. Love not the world.”

The world in the New Testament is used in two ways…

  1. Speaks of the material universe. Jesus of Nazareth is this world’s true Lord.
  2. A system or network or order of things designed to draw us away from God.

Historically Christians have taken two postures: 1) Retreated from the world’s system (Isolationism) 2) Enmeshed by the world and married to it.

The most miserable person is a Christian who is living in a way where deep inside them they are told to give something up and they can’t. When we are in community with other Christians the Holy Spirit is clearest.

The Holy Spirit will reveal to you what is of the world.

2 Kind of legalists: 1) Salvation by works 2) I am going to take what the Holy Spirit has shown me personally and make it a law to you.

“The gospel spreads best not through force but through fascination” (Shane Claiborne)

Dinner in Colorado Springs: Uchenna Ethiopian Restaurant

This was ranked #2 in Colorado Springs by TripAdvisor and it was awesome. I had Yebeg Alecha which was tender pieces of lamb marinated with butter then sautèed with ginger, garlic, and 12 spices. There were no forks but you had this roll that you put the meat and the sauce in. It was excellent. The owner’s name is Maya and they cooked everything to order so it took a while but the food was worth it. They have mostly organic food and a substantial vegetarian menu. I have never tried authentic Ethiopian cuisine but this was a must! Went a left the owner looked at me and said, “Go in peace.” I love her already.

 


Bless the Lord, O my soul!
    O Lord my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
    covering yourself with light as with a garment,
    stretching out the heavens like a tent.
He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters;
he makes the clouds his chariot;
    he rides on the wings of the wind;
he makes his messengers winds,
    his ministers a flaming fire.

He set the earth on its foundations,
    so that it should never be moved.
You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
    the waters stood above the mountains.
At your rebuke they fled;
    at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.
The mountains rose, the valleys sank down
    to the place that you appointed for them.
You set a boundary that they may not pass,
    so that they might not again cover the earth.

10 You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
    they flow between the hills;
11 they give drink to every beast of the field;
    the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
    they sing among the branches.
13 From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
    the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.

14 You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
    and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth
15     and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
    and bread to strengthen man’s heart.

16 The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly,
    the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17 In them the birds build their nests;
    the stork has her home in the fir trees.
18 The high mountains are for the wild goats;
    the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers.

19 He made the moon to mark the seasons;
    the sun knows its time for setting.
20 You make darkness, and it is night,
    when all the beasts of the forest creep about.
21 The young lions roar for their prey,
    seeking their food from God.
22 When the sun rises, they steal away
    and lie down in their dens.
23 Man goes out to his work
    and to his labor until the evening.

24 O Lord, how manifold are your works!
    In wisdom have you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures.
25 Here is the sea, great and wide,
    which teems with creatures innumerable,
    living things both small and great.
26 There go the ships,
    and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.

27 These all look to you,
    to give them their food in due season.
28 When you give it to them, they gather it up;
    when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
    when you take away their breath, they die
    and return to their dust.
30 When you send forth your Spirit, they are created,
    and you renew the face of the ground.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
    may the Lord rejoice in his works,
32 who looks on the earth and it trembles,
    who touches the mountains and they smoke!
33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
    I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
    for I rejoice in the Lord.
35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
    and let the wicked be no more!
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
Praise the Lord!

Think about what you have control over in your own little context. You probably control whether you brush your teeth, comb your hair, what clothes you put on and you even control whether you get out of bed or sleep the whole day. There are even some people in this world who have control over armies, policies, and they can even control the price of fuel and have nation’s economies in the palms of their hands.

Yet…

It was not by their power or word that caused the blades of grass to grow, the waters to gush forth, and they don’t even control the darkness like God does. No wonder the Psalmist is praising God because when we consider what we have control it is nothing…

…and I am nothing in comparison to what God controls. God even has control over this mysterious beast named Leviathan because, get this, he formed it! Verse 27 is formative for me as he says, “These all look to you, to give them their food in due season.” In other words, everything that is created is dependent on something or someone else to provide for its basic necessities. The bird longs for the water to bathe itself, the deer desires the cloves to feed itself and we humans desire (all too much all too often) shelter, clothing and food to sustain life.

But as we know, these things can be taken from us in an instant (enter Hurricane Sandy) and so we are ever present that by looking at God’s creation we are compelled to praise him. No wonder he closes with a plea that he will continually worship God and that all sinners be consumed. I love the idea of verse 24 where the Psalmist declares, “How manifold are your works!” An exhaust manifold in a vehicle takes multiple exhaust outlets and combines them into one. It takes complex entities and unites them. God’s works are all over creation and their are outlets upon outlets but the manifold is brought together by God himself.

Questions for Discussion

  1. In what ways do we try to control our own lives?
  2. What are some experiences that have pulled you closer to the Creator?
  3. What are some “manifold” works of God you have seen in your life and in the lives of others?

© marques.silvaclan.net

Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the Lord, over many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
    the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
    and Sirion like a young wild ox.

The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
    the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth
    and strips the forests bare,
    and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
    the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
11 May the Lord give strength to his people!
    May the Lord bless his people with peace!

This is a beautiful praise Psalm that coincides with the praise theme that God is universally present and sovereign. Sovereign is a fancy word that simply means God is king and reigns over all of creation. It is said that David wrote this Psalm (or it was for David…) and we are unsure as to the situation when David wrote it. Perhaps you could imagine David strolling through his kingdom on a donkey or a hummer and he looks at everything that is around him. Immediately he asks the people to stop so he can have his scribe jot down a few lyrics he is thinking about. As he looks at everything he is moved by the vastness of God’s awesome power and the only thing due to God is giving him the glory!

That’s exactly what he asks the readers and the heavenly beings to do: give God the glory. “Ascribe” is a fancy term that simply means assign or designate. Note why God is designated with glory (vv. 3-9): he is over the waters, thunder, the trees, regions of land, fire, and even a deer giving birth. Notice the contrast in verse 9 between birth of a deer and death of a forest. But the comparison is that both are naked: one entering and one existing. I am reminded of Job when he says, “Naked I came into the world (mother’s womb) and naked I shall return…blessed (or praise) be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

God’s be praised because he is universally sovereign and universally present.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Give a time when you felt pulled to praise God? What were some words you used to describe God’s glory?
  2. Talk about specific things (write them down) where you see God’s sovereignty?
  3. Why do you think David asked God to give us strength and peace to his people (v. 11)? In other words, what is so important about strength and peace?

“…to praise God is to live, and to live is to praise God.”[1]

The psalms of praise are those psalms which seek to shine the light on God. The psalmist will either praise God by declaring him generally or they will praise God descriptively in specific ways. [2] Psalm 113 helps us a little as the Psalmist goes from declaration to description in a few sentences:

Praise the Lord! (DECLARATIVE)
Praise, O servants of the Lord,
praise the name of the Lord!

2 Blessed be the name of the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore!
3 From the rising of the sun to its setting,
the name of the Lord is to be praised!

4 The Lord is high above all nations,
and his glory above the heavens!
5 Who is like the Lord our God, (DESCRIPTIVE)
who is seated on high,
6 who looks far down
on the heavens and the earth?
7 He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
8 to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.
9 He gives the barren woman a home,
making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the Lord!

I know what you are asking though, “What are the psalmists praising God about?” That is a great question. I mean what is the point of praising God? What does it mean to praise anyways? Typically the psalmists (btw… those are the guys who wrote the psalms anyways) hovered around four major themes that they offered God praise about: 1) creation[3] 2) God is always present and reigns over everything 3) Israel’s history and 4) God’s awesome deeds.[4]  To put that into terms you might understand think about a time when you were at a place in this world or in nature where you paused for a second and you were captivated by just how powerful that place was. The psalmist in you might say, “God, you are amazing because of this (for example) river that flows so effortlessly through the mountains.” That would be a theme of creation.

Or maybe you were drawn to the work of God in your life and through the life of your family. The psalmists looked at what God did in their own history (like parting the Red Sea, taking them out of Egypt, etc.) and that was a moment to praise God.  There are moments that captivate our attention and cause us to fall down on our knees and declare that God is in control. Think of Hurricane Sandy and how devastating that storm is throughout the northeast. As powerful and evil as that storm is God is still reigning over that storm. It cannot escape the power of God. Praise be to God!

Think about it… you cannot escape God’s knowledge and God’s power. Everywhere you go God’s fingerprint is on this world. Why? Because he made everything in it. You, me, the whole shebang! God made it! No wonder the Psalmist asks, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?”[5] Why does God even care about us? No doubt that is something theologians like to debate but for the psalmist, and maybe for you and I, that is a cause for us to praise him!

Questions for Thought:

  1. What are some moments that trigger you into praise?
  2. In a negative sense, if we are not praise God what is it that is getting our praise?
  3. How can your life be viewed as praise to/for God? Give some examples.
  4. What do you think would happen if all of God’s people with all of their hearts could praise God simultaneously? How might the kingdom of God advance?

 


[1] C. Hassel Bullock, Encountering the Book of Psalms (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001): 124.

[2] Ibid., 124.

[3] Bullock states that there are four ways the Psalmists discuss how God created things: 1) by his word or command, 2) by his personal deed, 3) by his attribute of wisdom or understanding, and 4) by his strength (p. 127).

[4] Ibid., 126-33.

[5] Psa. 8:3-4


God has objective existence independent of and apart from any notions which we may have concerning Him. The worshipping heart does not create its Object. It finds Him here when it wakes from its moral slumber in the morning of its regeneration.

Tozer, A. W. (Aiden Wilson) (2011-03-24). The Pursuit of God (pp. 38-39). . Kindle Edition.


“Messy Spirituality is the scandalous assertion that following Christ is anything but tidy and neat, balanced and orderly.  Far from it.  Spirituality is complex, complicated, and perplexing-the disorderly, sloppy, chaotic look of authentic faith in the real world.  Spirituality is anything but a straight line; it is a mixed-up, topsy-turvy, helter-skelter godliness that turns our lives into an upside-down toboggan ride full of unexpected turns, surprise bumps, and bone-shattering crashes.  In other words, messy spirituality is the delirious consequence of a life ruined by a Jesus who will love us right into his arms.”

Mike Yaconelli, Messy Spirituality, p. 27.

Messy Spirituality Quote


I just finished Francis Chan’s latest book Erasing Hell and I have to tell you, I could not put it down.  From start to finish this book is one of his most accessible books for me to read and I could see his points connecting and it was a great book.  Chan seeks to discuss what Scripture says about eternity.  The title of the book comes from his inward desire to not want to talk about hell.  I must confess, I have avoided talking about hell in many circumstances because it is just uncomfortable for me.  The idea of people spending time in torment is not an easy subject to discuss.  So often we try to “erase hell” from our vocabulary, sermons, classes and conversations.  Chan seeks to give a thorough treatise of the subject and offer his critique of various opinions (Rob Bell’s Love Wins gets a hefty treatment in chapters 1-3).  His chapters are…

  1. Does everyone go to heaven?
  2. Has hell changed?  Or have we?
  3. What Jesus actually said about hell?
  4. What Jesus’ followers said about hell
  5. What does this have to do with me?
  6. What if God…?
  7. Don’t be overwhelmed
I enjoyed the book but I do not want to spoil it by telling you everything that is in it.  Below are some of my Pro’s and cons of the book.  I recommend this book to everyone.

PROS

  • Easy to read
  • Delves into the Greek substantially but on a simplified manner
  • Addresses most of the major issues
  • Has a high view of inspiration of the Scriptures
  • His sincerity, compassion and humility is obvious in his pleas to the readers.
  • Placed Jesus in his historical setting as a First Century Jew and that shaped Jesus’ view on hell.  Loved that!

CONS

  • Sometimes Chan is too simplistic in that he does not flesh out issues enough.
  • He really did not add much to the debate.  As much as I want to say he did he simply reiterated what many have at least discussed from the evangelical perspective.  He adds his eloquent touch and I agree with a lot of what he says but most of it is not new.  (maybe that is good?)
  • Chan’s view of “submission to God regardless of our questions” seems t0o dismissive to me.  I agree that at the end of the day “God’s ways are not our ways nor his thoughts our thoughts” but does that mean we accept that at face value and not question why things happen?  Chapter 6 basically is a sermon telling the readers that the clay cannot be the potter so we should simply (and fearfully) submit.  I struggled with this one.
Hope you enjoy the book.

A break from the series…I decided to write a poem.

The Mask

Sitting in the lobby I am moved by your existence.

How could you love me, a sinner, broken in your presence?

I am not the man I should be for I am filled with mediocrity.

I am weak, timid, inconsistent and filled with so much hypocrisy.

Scripture tells me that a man came to die, giving me his grace.

But all I can do right now is turn and hide, covering my ugly face.

The solution is so easy, but to me it comes with a hefty price.

A debt I cannot pay, for I am not willing to sacrifice.

But you, O God, are all that I could possibly need.

So right now, to your divine decrees, I hesitantly now heed.

For I lift up to you a monumental task,

that you take away my sin, and take off my foolish mask.