My Pastor Says...

A couple of Pastor Mike quotes that have meant a lot to me over the years. These words may not seem like much at first, but they have worked wonders in my life:

"Don't major on the minors."

Sometimes we can confuse speaking truly, with emphasizing the correct truth. It is the difference between wisdom and knowledge. Knowing what is true is good, but understanding when that truth is applicable is better. A hammer is a good tool, but it isn't very useful for ripping plywood. All truths are true, and so each truth is a useful tool, but we must decide when to use it. And just as a carpenter's speed square is more important than his 1/8" chisel, some truths are more necessary than others.

We should emphasize the more important truths.

When we greatly emphasize something that scripture teaches as true, but does not emphasize, then we are not being true to scripture.


"I don't know!"

I can't tell you what a breathe of fresh air this was! The first time I heard my pastor answer someone's question this way I thought, "you can do that!?" I thought being a christian meant you knew everything! How wonderful it was to recover mystery and humility in a single moment!


Couldn't Agree More!

"But after you die, we are firmly in the realm of speculation."
Rob Bell

The Solution

There are different forms of poverty (see this), but the solution to each of them is the same.

If we are going to define all three forms of poverty as a lack of access to something, then the solution to all three forms is not about giving stuff, but rather about giving access.  The method of giving access in each of these three forms of poverty is ...relationship.

Whether it is the poverty of deprivation, oppression, or alienation, the solution is to connect the people in question to systems of economy, polity, or meaning.  The only real means of connecting people to these systems is through relationship with people who already exist within those systems.  In fact these systems are made up of people an so the only way to connect people to these systems is to connect them to the people.

Part of the vision we have for our church is to be a community of people from different places.  In this way, those who lack social and political power will gain it by being connected with those who have it, and simultaneously, those who lack significance and social meaning will gain it by virtue of being connected to those who have a sense of place and meaning.

What is Christianity About? ...really?

A friend of mine, Jason Clark, has a book coming out soon, one of his co-authors produced the video above.  I don't know what the relationship is between the video and the book, and I certainly intend to buy a copy, but I don't know if I like what the gentleman in the video is saying...

What do you think?


Vamos a la Republica Dominicana!

Five of us leave this Wednesday to visit our brothers and sisters in Santiago and Puerto Plata...


Bringing the A-Game

Trinitarian Prayer

Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth:
Set up your kingdom in our midst.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God:
Have mercy on me, a sinner.

Holy Spirit, breath of the living God:
Renew me and all the world



ashes await such specimens of survival
soil and spirit mingled by Another

dirt in our wake
as we march together
of earth we are
as we kneel…dust upon dust

a frail finger of ash upon ash
marking me…
a touch felt in my depths

how is it
that such as we
reside in the heart of Love Itself?


Three Kinds of Poverty

Poverty is usually thought of as 'not having stuff.'  But this is a fundamentally materialistic and consumeristic way of defining the term, and falls far short of understanding the plight of the poor, or the various ways in which poverty can be manifested.  For this reason, I am exploring these ways of describing poverty, although this is tenuously affirmed, and I would appreciate feedback on the ideas...

Instead of thinking of poverty as a lack of stuff, lets try thinking about it as a lack of access to systems of power.  This actually helps us to make sense of the different forms of poverty that we see in the world around us.  After all, most of us recognize that poverty is very real in our country, and yet, it is very different from poverty in other countries...

This can be defined as individuals or groups who lack access to systems of economic power.
These are people who are not having their most basic needs met.  They are without food, shelter, clean water, or health care.  This is what we think of as the 'global poor,' or the 'third-world poor.'

This can be defined as individuals or groups who lack access to systems of social power.
These are people who are abundantly fed, warm, and entertained, but have no control (real or perceived) over their own destiny, or that of their community or the world at large.  This is the 'urban poor' and the 'rural poor' of America.  People who have little access to education, to health care and healthy food, or to networks of economic, social, and political power.

This can be defined as individuals or groups who lack access to systems of meaning.
These peoples needs are met, they have power to control individual destiny, but there is no larger sense of what is to be pursued.  These are people we are not likely to consider poor, yet, they have a clear lack.  For them material wealth and power are ends in themselves, instead of means to something more meaningful...

In all three of these categories, the resultant poverty can be the result of an actual lack of access, or a perceived lack of access.  Both are equally problematic.  If a family starves because there is a famine, and literally no food exists within range of their table, that is neither more nor less a problem than an individual who suffers from mental illness and literally starves with food in their pantry.


Anthropology of the Vineyard

SVS 2011 Plenary #2: Tanya Luhrmann from Society of Vineyard Scholars on Vimeo.

the Buffalo Urban Fellowship

Both in Tension

"This raises a really interesting point, too. One problem I’ve seen in the postmodern/emergent church conversation is you tend to have one of two different kinds of things going on: one is the emphasis on social justice. That’s a great thing unless you over-privilege social action and have no contemplative life. Someone who over-privileges social justice runs the risk of becoming an angry, disillusioned and very often, a smug activist. On the other hand, there are people who ignore social justice and only care about the contemplative life and this leads to a sort of saccharine piety. They start watching EWTN and saying the Rosary without any interest in the fact that so much of the world is starving to death."

Click on the title to read the whole interview