Monday, October 31, 2005


"But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." - Joshua 24: 15b

I have to admit that I am distressed by today's decision concerning Beth Stroud and even more disconcerted about the ruling that a pastor-in-charge has the sole authority to determine a person's readiness to affirm vows of membership.

I am a youth pastor who feels very called to do what I do. I love to share the love of Christ with teenagers. Shoot, I even enjoy lock-ins, which might put me somewhere in the ranks of madness or sainthood at some point.

Given the kids I work with I know that I come into contact with teens who are either struggling with their sexuality or consider themselves to be gay/lesbian or bisexual. Some may even be practicing. I don't know the answer to that, it hasn't come up. But I know that I, as their youth pastor WOULD NEVER tell them that they are not a valuable part of our youth group. In a world where they face enough places of exclusion and fear- our youth room is NOT one of those places.

In fact when I look into the face of each of my youth- not just my white kids, or my "good kids" (whatever that might mean), or my straight kids- I don't see those labels, those aren't labels in our group- I just simply see the face of a child of God.

I love all my kids and I see the potential that each one possess and I see the gifts each one brings to our youth group.

If a teenager who is going through confirmation shared with a pastor that he/she was gay, ought that pastor confirm them or baptize them on Confirmation Sunday? Let's assume this teenager has grown up in the same church all their life, their family attends there, there friends attend there, and have been an active part of the congregation all their life. On that day- the day when confirmands stand before the church and cross over as "members" of the congregation and take the vows for themselves- should a pastor have the right to deny that person full membership into the church (assuming the teenager has been an active participant and productive participant since childhood)?

My answer is, how could we do otherwise? My thought is that God has blessed that teenager with a community who has up until that point- loved and nurtured and discipled. If the pastor decided to deny that teenager the right to become a member that pastor is denying the community part of it's body.

I find the decision today to be horribly misguided. But I am not on the Judicial Council, nor would I really want to be. I know many would disagree with my stance. But for me and my household (youth group), we'll serve the Lord the best way we can- by not excluding anyone from our safe and Christ centered youth room. But by being there for one another, celebrating our love for one another even in the midst of our differences.


thanks gavo

The Prioress
You scored 18% Cardinal, 71% Monk, 55% Lady, and 29% Knight!
You are a moral person and are also highly intellectual. You like your solitude but are also kind and helpful to those around you. Guided by a belief in the goodness of mankind (humanity) you will likely be christened a saint after your life is over.

You scored high as both the Lady and the Monk. You can try again to get a more precise description of either the Monk or the lady, or you can be happy that you're an individual.

You scored higher than 11% on Cardinal

You scored higher than 95% on Monk

You scored higher than 89% on Lady

You scored higher than 8% on Knight

take the test here

Saturday, October 29, 2005

ALL SAINTS- a high holy day of the church

When you think of Halloween, what comes to mind? For a lot of people, Halloween has become synonymous with candy, costumes, scary stuff, witches, ghosts and pumpkins.

The true origins of Halloween lie with the ancient Celtic tribes who lived in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany. For the Celts, November 1 marked the beginning of a new year and the coming of winter. The night before the new year, they celebrated the festival of Samhain, Lord of the Dead. During this festival, Celts believed the souls of the dead—including ghosts, goblins and witches—returned to mingle with the living. In order to scare away the evil spirits, people would wear masks and light bonfires.

When the Romans conquered the Celts, they added their own touches to the Samhain festival, such as making centerpieces out of apples and nuts for Pomona, the Roman goddess of the orchards. The Romans also bobbed for apples and drank cider—traditions which may sound familiar to you. But where does the Christian aspect of the holiday come into play? In 835, Pope Gregory IV moved the celebration for all the martyrs (later all saints) from May 13 to November 1. The night before became known as All Hallow’s Even or “holy evening.”

ALL SAINTS DAY is one of the church's high holy days. It is the day Christians give thanks for all the good people God has placed in their lives, especially those who are already with God in heaven.

It is also a day when Christians give thanks for the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives and in the lives of all people.

It is not because people are special in and of themselves that we call them saints, but it is because they are ordinary, everyday people who allow the Holy Spirit to work through them, doing the mighty deeds of the Lord.

Martin Luther writes, "the Holy Scriptures call Christians saints and the people of God. To forget that we are saints is to forget Christ and to forget our baptism."

All Saints is a day for remembering and giving thanks, as Christians remember the good people they have known and give thanks for the unending goodness of God.

In our church at Blakemore we read a list of those members in our congregation who have passed away since last year's ALL SAINTS DAY. A bell is rung and a candle is lit after each name is read. We have special banners that are brought in and though there is a sense of somberness it also a celebration of the lives of saints in our church and the Saints of the Church Universal.

I wonder, does your congregation celebrate this high holy day and if so, what are some of the rituals you do?

Friday, October 28, 2005


Well, it's looking more and more that way to me. I don't necessarily think its all bad either. It can be a blessing to be able to reframe who we are as a peculiar people with peculiar ways and practices- ie Resident Aliens in a foreign land.

I saw this article and it is what got me thinking about this:

"In its efforts to create an environment free of religious harassment at its installations worldwide, the U.S. Air Force has said that it is withdrawing and reviewing earlier ethics guidelines permitting evangelism by chaplains."

read the rest here: "New Air Force Religion Guidelines May Restrict Evangelism"

I would hate to see the role of chaplains reduced in the military. I have come over the last year or so to see the VERY important value of chaplains as symbols of Gods love and peace in the midst of conflict and maybe the hardest days soldiers face in their lives. So this pacifist would hate to see one more symbol of healing, hope and Gods peace and love to be taken away from those who really value it.


There's been some wonderful discussion concerning the way we as Christians view scripture. You may want to check out these blogs to see what all the talk has been about:

Gavin blogged on his understanding of scripture, how it has changed over time, and how it relates to the tradition, reason, and experience.

Craig Moore has blogged about biblical inspiration. He deals with the authority of scripture and whether the church allows scripture to be the authority over it or if the church will accomodate culture and allow itself to be shaped by it.

Lenny wrote on how it is important to to consider the context when studying scripture.

Jason of Knowblogyet wrote about the value of communal exegesis of biblical texts.

At my blog I've been talking about how some are viewing scripture in such a way that we move away from the labels of conservative and liberal and claim scripture as The Story that shapes us as a people. Read part 1 Read part 2

Thursday, October 27, 2005

THOUGHTS ON SCRIPTURE pt2- "shaped by our story"

In my last post I talked about scripture being the "family stories" for Christians. In a post-modern context seeing scritpure as the Story that shapes who we are as a people, or family called The Church, is important. In this post I plan to discuss how and why this "story" ought to shape us.

John Calvin spoke of scripture as the lens which Christians view all reality (1). Think about it, a lens brings certain things into focus and eliminates other things from our view. My very good friend John cannot read the words on a page of a book without the aid of his glasses. Likewise, when Christians begin to view the world through the lens of scripture- what and how they see the world begins to change. Our lives and our reality is transformed. "My world- where the poor are treated as failure, the powerful are praised as saviors, where nations are worshiped as gods- is taken up, is translated into the world of the Bible. In this translation, things take on new meanings, different significations. The people at the top like King Herod are brought low and people whom the world places at the bottom are lifted up." (2)

As we move further into what many are calling a postmodern era many Christians are uneasy or uncomfortable with how many people are viewing scripture. On the one hand it is sometimes viewed as God's rulebook and checklist. If one does not do "this" or you practice "that" then you cannot be a Christian. Then there are others who view scripture as God's guide to a happy life. If we can look for the teachings in the Bible that are "universally true" among all faith traditions then we have a guide that all people can follow. The problem with both of these views is that they are based not on something that has been inspired (in-spired = God breathed) but upon individual reason. "The Enlightenment's great confidence in the power or detatched, unaided, individual reason has been chastened in recent years by a new awarenenss that we human beings are socially, culturally, and narratively constructed. That is, we live our lives, we move, and think, and have our being out of a complex of stories, ideas and habits. We have been enculturated into certain ways of viewing and living in the world. Nothing is exempt from this cultural conditioning, even the sciences; and even the ways we view scripture in a scientific, rational and individual way." (3) When we move from the rational propositional way of viewing scritpure into the formational view of scritpure we, through "the story" of God, Israel and Jesus, begin to become enculturated into this different world view. We begin to see a God who cares for the powerless of the world, who lifts them up (Mary'sSong) while bringing the powerful down. Our conception of power changes as we are formed by a Messiah who chose nonviolence over violence in response to both religious oppression and the Roman Empire, even when it meant death on a cross. But that's what these Biblical narratives begin to do to people.

During the modern era the Bible has been used as the science book for Christianity at battle with secular science, the political playbook for the religious right as their general list of qualifications on who is in and who is out in regards to the Christian community/The Church. As we transition passed modernity the church has a wonderful opportunity in regards to scripture. Scripture in the hands of the Christian community has the ability to constitute new worlds. "The church is the imaginative projection of a biblical text. The Bible is not just merely describing a new world but is also constructing one". (4) And we, the church, are God's theatre where the drama is unfolding. In essence a Christian is a human being who listened to a biblical story and allowed that story to inform how he/she lives their life. "Listening to such stories makes us into peculiar people who respond to life in peculiar ways." (5)

In conclusion, the postmodern world is an age in which old Enlightenment texts are crumbling. The lure of absolute certainty, of universal, universally applicable principles like "reason" is in demise. In such a postmodern world, the church has a wonderful opportunity to again rediscover the claims of scripture. The Bible is not content to be translated into the categories of the contemporary world, but rather the Bible wants to absorb the contemporary world into its text.

as we approach part 3 of this series, which ought to be posted on monday of next week, we'll be dealing with scripture as the "norming norm" (thanks scott) and scripture as authority in a postmodern context (thanks craig and lenny).


1. "Just as old or bleary-eyed men and those with weak vision, if you thrust before them a most beautiful volume, even if they recognize it to be some sort of writing, yet can scarcely construe two words, but with the aid of spectacles will begin to read distinctly; so Scripture, gathering up the otherwise confused knowledge of God in our minds, having dispersed our dullness, clearly shows us the true God. This, therefore, is a special gift, where God, to instruct his church, not merely uses mute teachers [of nature and conscience] but also opens his own most hallowed lips" (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1.6.1; cf. also 1.14.1).

2. Willimon, William, Shaped By the Bible, (Abingdon Press, 1990)

3. Ibid

4. Ibid

5. Ibid


Wednesday, October 26, 2005


OK, so maybe not part of the tradition, but it's definitely worth watching:

check it out on windows media player

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

THOUGHTS ON SCRIPTURE pt1- "Our Family Story"

One of the traditions that my family enjoy doing is gathering at my grandfather's house, sitting on his deck and eating together. This deck is the stage for the telling and re-telling of funny and serious family stories. I can almost always predict the stories that will get told according to which family members show up or what the special occasion is. You see, the same family stories get told time and time again. In fact, my wife, Jennifer, jokes that now she can tell the stories because she has heard the same ones so many times. But for our family I believe there is a sense of identity and shaping that comes out of the telling and hearing of these tales. These stories aren't even told the same way every time. Little "facts" get changed or omitted or sometimes replaced. But the power of the story and the people who are involved always stays the same. These stories have a life of their own that continually gets lived out by my family.

I view scripture much the same way that I view the stories that my family share around the meal on my grandfather's deck. Scripture is like the family stories of God's people, the Church. When the stories are told we realize where we came from, those who have come before us and what the hopes and dreams are for us as a people.

For some, viewing scripture as "our story" may be troublesome. Where do these "family stories" derive its authority? Part of its authority rests quite simply in its story line: "it is a basic conviction of the biblical writers that God acts in -and intersects with- human history to bring about God's saving purposes." (1) In other words, according to biblical faith God reveals Godself through certain accounts in history, events in which God is actively laboring to lead human beings to a saving relationship with Godself, a relationship which indeed has as its ultimate goal the redemption of the entire created order (Romans 8:18- 25). This makes God one who is actively participating in historical situations.

History can be seen as story, story is narrative and narrative is profoundly rooted in the Bible. The Bible as "the history of God", in John Wesley's words is stuffed with stories and stories within stories. In this particular history, or our family stories, we have the overall story of God the Creator and redeemer, we have the stories of the Israelites, God's chosen people, and we have the story of Jesus which we read in the four gospels, within which we even have more stories (the parables). In his book The Story of God: Wesleyan Theology and Biblical Narrative, Michael Lodahl states, "telling a story, in fact, was the most common method for teaching theology among Jewish rabbis, and it remains a prominent Jewish teaching style even today." (2)

I think it is important to note however that just because we have this "grand family story" does not mean that we view it as simply one interpretation among others, of human history and existence. To be truly Christian is to affirm that our story of God and Christian worldview is more adequate and authentic than any other interpretation as such. We as Christians believe that scripture is inspired (in-spire = breathed into). God's sacred breath has given life to the words and stories contained in scripture.

One way I look at scripture as having authority and being a "story" is to go back to my family stories. My grandfather started a family business back in the mid 1950's in North Nashville, which is a historic African American neighborhood in Nashville. His business is rumored to be the first white restaurant in Nashville to serve African Americans. When my grandfather tells the story about this he tells it in the context of a family story- he lived in a particular neighborhood (North Nashville), wanted to open a business in that particular neighborhood, saw who his potential customers would be (his neighbors), lived in poverty, and wanted to provide for his family. Thus he did not let race become a factor as to who would or would not be served. He simply wanted to serve his community and support his family. That's his story. Now if the story is told through someone else's eyes of interpretation the story changes. Hence a socio-political story can be told, or from the perspective of race, or even various ideological perspectives. In essence when told from these perspectives the story is no longer a family story- it is still historical just not an interpretation from our family. My grandfather is still the "authority" for the story of his little soda shop restaurant though.

Within the words, poetry, law, and history within scripture we find the story of God, the story of the Israelites and story of Jesus. Within these words we find a community that is constantly being shaped and formed into a people. Within these stories we find a way to live and a way to see the world. These stories are our family stories to tell and retell again.


(1) Lodahl, Michael, The Story of God: Wesleyan Theology and Biblical Narrative, (Beacon Hill Press, 1994)

(2) Ibid


Rosa Lee McCauley Parks
Rosa Lee Parks, whose refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man sparked the modern civil rights movement, has died. She was 92

Sunday, October 23, 2005


from my prayer journal- Oct. 21, 2005 (2 days after telling my youth that I'm leaving for a new church):

SCRIPTURE: "Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love; so that we may rejoice and be glad all or days." - Psalm 90: 14

OBSERVATION: Even in the midst of pain or hurt the Christian is asked to hope that God's love will prevail. In this hope we are called to rejoice and to be content that God's grace is at work.

APPLICATION: today I am worried about what my kids are going through and that I am a source of pain for them right now. I can't stand the thought. So today I take with me the phrase, "REJOICE AND BE GLAD". Today I will trust that God's grace is working in all our lives and hope that htis grace will bring both healing and vision for us all.

PRAYER: Lord of Grace and Love, heal the wounds that I've created. Help me to grow from responding to your call. Make us all more of whom you wish us to be. Amen.

Saturday, October 22, 2005


How well do you remember last week's religion-news headlines? Take this quiz to find out! I got a whopping 4 out of 10.

take the quiz

Friday, October 21, 2005


For all you Rick Warren groupies out there- this spring you will want to flock to your nearest Starbucks to get your collector cup of coffee with an uplifting God quote from the megachurch guru.

According to Beliefnet "it will be the first mention of God in the company's provocative quote campaign, The Way I See It."

Now I don't have a problem with putting inspiring quotes on coffee cups and selling them. It's a fact that if it's a good thing and it's marketable, someone will find a way to sell it.

But come on!!! Warren's aggreement to put a quote on the cup is just a great example of how the Christian faith has been coopted by consumerism and in many ways can be disconnected from any sense of tradition.

How presumptious to think that what a person needs in life is to go to Starbucks, buy a cup of coffee and read an inspiring quote about God.

By putting God on a coffee cup we neuter God, disconnecing God and neighbor from any sense of community, replacing bread and wine (juice for us good methodists) for coffee and bagels.

I'm not going to come down too hard on Warren, I'm sure the decision was purpose driven, but it's just one more example of the Church allowing culture to define us and not be that alternative community that models the practices and way of life of Jesus, in community.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


"To love God with the whole heart is the cause of every other good."

(Cyril of Alexandria)


"Christians love their enemies because God does so, and commands his followers to do so. That is the only reason, and that is enough."

John Howard Yoder



This cross is inscribed with several prayers for holiness and peace including, -May the holy cross be my light! May the dragon never be my guide- and -Begone Satan! Never tempt me with your vanities! What you offer me is evil. Drink the poison yourself!

what cross are you?

thanks to rev. mommy for the link

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Matthew 22:34-46 (The Message)
The Most Important Command

34When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. 35One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: 36"Teacher, which command in God's Law is the most important?"
37Jesus said, ""Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' 38This is the most important, the first on any list. 39But there is a second to set alongside it: "Love others as well as you love yourself.' 40These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them."

David's Son and Master 41As the Pharisees were regrouping, Jesus caught them off balance with his own test question: 42"What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?" They said, "David's son."
43Jesus replied, "Well, if the Christ is David's son, how do you explain that David, under inspiration, named Christ his "Master'?

44God said to my Master,
"Sit here at my right hand
until I make your enemies your footstool."

45"Now if David calls him "Master,' how can he at the same time be his son?"
46That stumped them, literalists that they were. Unwilling to risk losing face again in one of these public verbal exchanges, they quit asking questions for good.


It looks as though though the religious leaders are finally going to achieve what they have so desperately wanted to accomplish- to trap Jesus with words and send him down the road packing.

They confront Jesus with yet another litmus test to see where Jesus stands. But being rhetorical master that he is, Jesus skillfully dodges the religious leaders and even manages to rhetort with amazing words of truth.

This story makes me think of the litmus tests that some of our religious leaders in the church like to have in place to judge who is in and who is out. The arguments and rhetoric that comes from the religious right and left is nothing more than devisive and destructive to God's plans for an expansive Kingdom of Love. Don't get me wrong, there is a place for healthy discussion and conversation about the issues that we struggle around, but at the end of the day we still all come to the same table and receive eucharist from The Host.

So where does this leave us as a community divided by theology, doctrine, hot button faith issues?

3God tested us thoroughly to make sure we were qualified to be trusted with this Message. 4Be assured that when we speak to you we're not after crowd approval--only God approval. Since we've been put through that battery of tests, you're guaranteed that both we and the Message are free of error, mixed motives, or hidden agendas. 5We never used words to butter you up. No one knows that better than you. And God knows we never used words as a smoke screen to take advantage of you.
6Even though we had some standing as Christ's apostles, we never threw our weight around or tried to come across as important, with you or anyone else. 7We weren't aloof with you. We took you just as you were. We were never patronizing, never condescending, but we cared for you the way a mother cares for her children. 8We loved you dearly. Not content to just pass on the Message, we wanted to give you our hearts. And we did. 1 Thessalonians 2: 3-8


Paul writes that the good news of God is free of error and hidden agendas (that includes our liberal/conservative agendas that we tend to read into scripture) Words of scripture are never to be used as a weapon or litmus test but as a spirit breathed living document that guides the people of God. And we live together in a community that cares for one another in the same way that a mother cares for her children. What a practice for the children of God to take on.

(this article can also be found at Radical Preaching)


Tuesday, October 18, 2005


"Jesus used stories. I think that's how he got people hooked. It's like you knock them right between the eyes. They think they're being entertained and they're having a good time and all of a sudden he just turned the wand and it's, "Who's my neighbor?" "Oh, no." It might be the Samaritan. It might be the person next door. It might be the homosexual. It might be the homeless person. It might be the drug addict." - Mary, United States

Over at Dan Gates blog one of his posts, "OPEN WHAT?" is dealing with our UMC campaign "Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors".

Gates thoughts on the campaign can be summed up in his statement: "Lowered to its smallest common denominator, each word is a liberal malignancy decorated to appear benign. Here is how it works! Open Minds, really means no matter what heresy or ungodly lifestyle you bring with you, we'll accept it. Open Hearts, it really doesn't matter if you join the church totally un-repentant of your sin, we won't say anything for fear of hurting your feelings. Open Doors? Well, here would be a more open, honest and, perhaps, better slogan, Bring your sin and come on in!!!

Has Rev. Gates read a wee bit too much politic into the campaign? hmmmm.

I think Rev. Gates forgets what many in the church have forgotten- the spiritual practice of HOSPITALITY. The kind of hospitiality that Jesus practiced seems like a forgotten art in some circles today as we argue over who is in and who is out.

I love the stories of Jesus hanging with sinners because he, the host among strangers, turns the tables and allows the strangers to become hosts to him. I think that within our churches today we can take a lot from the idea that Jesus is THE HOST not us. But in being the host Jesus allows the most unacceptable to be both guests and hosts in the house of the Lord.

The benedictines have a wonderful tradition of hospitality. When a xenos/stranger comes to the monastery they greet that stranger as though they are Christ. They feel that when they greet the stranger (they don't ask people about their politics, or their sexual orientation) they feel that Christ is embodied in the stranger.

I invite Rev. Gates and all clergy in the UMC to adopt the spirit and practice of hospitality and the practice of "Jesus Fellowship" within their own congregations and maybe we can live up to "OPEN HEARTS OPEN MINDS OPEN DOORS".




Youth ministry is moving away from parties, picnics, Fear Factor kinds of things, to much more serious Bible study, prayer and things of that sort. I was at a Methodist conference in Pittsburgh, and the speaker was talking about youth ministry. He said he had tried everything in the book to get youth to come to the church: pizza parties, retreats, the whole thing. One day, he said, it was like God spoke to me: “You know, these kids have plenty of parties connected with school and so on.” So I shut the whole thing down and just started a Friday night prayer meeting and Bible study. He said, “I’ve no room for all the kids that are coming.” That’s a phenomenon that other people speak of. Howe and Strauss talk about this. There is a new seriousness about young people, millennial people. They don’t want to be entertained. They want to be challenged. They want a faith that is challenging as opposed to a Christianity that is entertaining.


This pastor is just the opposite of the Pragmatist, CEO model, the Standard Oil CEO operation, running a big business, which is exactly what the megachurch has become. It’s become a big business. The concept of the pastor for the Younger evangelical is to go back to being the shepherd. They don’t like big churches. They don’t want big churches. They want small churches. There’s a church here in Wheaton. One of the younger pastors decided he was called to go down into Chicago to start a series of neighborhood churches. So he talked to the church about this, and the church decided to support him. They encouraged some of their families to actually move into this Chicago area where they’re going. And they did. They started a church that is essentially a neighborhood church. Their goal is to have 100 neighborhood churches in this area in Chicago, and they would come together once in a while to have worship — more like the New Testament model, the house church.

I find this going on all over the United States. They don’t want to be known. This church I just referred to was mentioned in my book, but they only agreed to let me use their example on the condition that I wouldn’t identify them or say where the church is located. They said, “We don’t want to get known.” They want to be known in our community, but our goal is not to get known. This is very different from the goal of the Pragmatists.So you find a servanthood model, a shepherd model. You also find a team model in the new emerging church. As opposed to having, say, a senior pastor. No one would use that term. No one would stand up and say, “I am the Senior Pastor.” They would only say, “I’m one of the pastors.” The other thing, too, is that a lot of these younger people are willing to work, to be schoolteachers, or trades people. They want to go to the city. There’s a tremendous interest in rebuilding the city. So they’ll work during the week and pastor the church on the weekend.

Sunday, October 16, 2005



Their approach to worship is an embodied reality. My sense is that they’re still pretty much all over the map in terms of worship. But one of the things that they’re really trying to do in worship is create a sense of transcendence. If you look at worship over the last 30 years, the movement has been primarily the nearness of God, the immanence of God, the friendship of Jesus, the relationship and even a lot of romantic terminology in contemporary music about a relationship with God. The Younger Evangelicals are sick of that stuff. They just think it’s shallow, not really real — all this romantic stuff about their relationship with Jesus. And they’re beginning to see God more on the side of God’s holiness, God’s otherness, God’s transcendence. They’re trying to create an atmosphere that allows for that. What are big with Younger evangelicals are candles, icons — they will either use real icons, or they will flash icons on the walls of the church. There’s a recovery of hymnology, there’s a recovery of liturgy.

I’ll give you an example that’s just a week old. The chaplain from my Institute for Worship Studies, which is down in Florida, called me with this story. The staff of a well-known contemporary gospel singer and writer called him and asked him to come every two weeks to do liturgy with them and be on staff to counsel anyone who needs counseling. So they sat him down and said, “Even though we write contemporary stuff, we hate it. When you do chapel, no contemporary songs, please. We don’t know what you’re going to do, but no contemporary stuff.”

The Institute is very much rooted in ancient traditions, so he translated what we do in our chapel, and did the first liturgy with them last week. He did the passing of the peace, some ancient hymnology, and even on the prayers, they would pray, and they would sing together [he sings] “Lord have mercy.” He said, “Blew them away.” That’s the kind of thing the younger person is attracted to, and some older people, too. They’re so sick of wearing your relationship with Jesus on your sleeve.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


What do you get when you have 2 methodists, a baptist, an episcopal and a church of christ in a field full of hippies?

Thus was the setting for some crazy antics tonight as I hooked up with my good friend Jake, and fellow blogging buddies- Dale Lature, THUNDER Jones, and Daniel Greeson.

We chilled to Widespread Panic while crazy hippies danced all around us. What an evening!!! Too funny!!!

I found out some interesting things tonight:
1. Thunder Jones KNOWS EVERYTHING (no joke)!!!
2. Dale Lature is a hippie magnet
3. Daniel Greeson give the Church O'Christ a bad name :) and jam bands are not his cup of tea
4. Jake Lawrence discovered just how much of a theo. geek I really am




The church is functioning in a pagan America. The notion that this is a Christian nation, or ever has been, or should be, is a notion that is really foreign to the new way of thinking. This is more of a missional model; it is a church that exists within the context of a post-Christian, a post-Constantinian, postmodern era. This era is essentially pagan in similar ways in which the church grew up or was early formed in a pagan culture. So my argument has been that if you want to know what the church should look like in today’s pagan American or pagan world, then we need to go back to the first three centuries in particular and take a look at what the church did at that particular period of history and translate that into our postmodern, post-Constantinian, post-Christian world.

Friday, October 14, 2005


Thunder Jones in response to Robert Webber's claim that the church is counter cultural :

"Counter-cultural? Like a permed mullet?"



1. I use the word “pragmatic” because they’re really shaped by the business model, the market model, the advertising model. Just as all the market and business and advertising began to emerge in the late ’70s and ’80s — and that’s observable to anybody who looks at magazines and television and notes how consumerism began to develop. It seems to me that they’ve created a consumerist church. The product is Jesus and the good life. It’s therapeutic Christianity. And they’re out to sell that. So they’ve asked themselves the question: “What’s the best way to sell Jesus and get people into the life of the church?”

2. In jest, I call them the Wal-Mart churches. There’s something for everyone. You walk in that door and no matter who you are, they’ve got something for you. I’m not saying that’s entirely wrong. I’m saying that’s a reflection of the culture, and the result of the Christianity they’ve promoted — and this is my judgment — is that Christianity accommodated itself so much to the culture, it has come to look like the culture. Christianity has been catechized by the culture as opposed to Christianity catechizing the culture itself.

3. The Constantinian model is more oriented to the Traditional church. But then what I see is that this Pragmatic model is caught between the Constantinian model and the performance model. It still seems to be the tail end of the Constantinian model, although the Traditional church is probably more rooted in the church serving the cultural, serving the nation, a much more civil religion would be found in the Traditional church, although there’s plenty of it in the Pragmatic church as well.

This is where the Younger evangelicals are breaking with the past. They do not see the church as an accommodation to the culture. They don’t see it in terms of a civil religion. They see the church in a very countercultural way.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Last night I was surfing around on the net (not uncommon for me) and I came across MATISYAHU, a hasidic reggae artist. Yes, that's right- A HASIDIC JEW WHO HAPPENS TO BE A REGGAE ARTIST. And, HE'S GREAT!!!

I downloaded a live show and instantly was blown away by the music. He is extremely talented and brings in a flavor from his heritage along with some pretty kickin' musicians backing him. I then watched a video of his and it was great!!! He's all decked out in orthodox clothing, sporting the beard and traditional garb while throwning out some killer lyrics inspired by Torah!!!

Check Matisyahu out right here and I hope you get hooked like I did. I found out that he came to Nashville not too long ago and played at the Exit Inn. Oh well, maybe I'll catch him next time.

Watch Video

Download live show, 9-24-05, san diego (legal download) songs are in .flac format and have to be converted to mp3.

"Combining the sounds of Bob Marley and Shlomo Carlebach, yet remaining wholly original, Matisyahu's performance is an uplifting, powerful experience for all in his presence. " from his "myspace" site



Traditional Evangelicals have been shaped by the Enlightenment. So they work with modern philosophy, a modern understanding of science, history, sociology. They’re modernists, and so they interpret the Christian faith through these modern categories. And what’s very interesting about Traditional Evangelicals is that the categories through which they interpret the Christian faith are almost regarded as sacred, almost as sacred as the Christian faith itself. So if you say, “Well, I don’t believe in evidential apologetics,” there’s something wrong with you.

Another way to look at these groupings is to look through a communication lens. So, for example, Traditionalists are given to print communication, are much more verbal. The Pragmatists emerging in the ’80s and ’90s, they’re much more given to the communications revolution that took place in the ’60s and ’70s, which is oriented around television and broadcast. So their churches are broadcast churches, and they want to show the gospel and present the gospel and entertain people with the gospel. So they’re very much shaped by a broadcast model of communication.

Now a third group, that I call the Younger Evangelicals, or the Millennials — they’re shaped more by the Internet. Therefore, their approach to worship and the church is going to be much more oriented around the interaction of the Internet.

I find this to be an interesting piece of information- about the younger evangelicals being shaped by the internet and how that impacts our approach to worship. I throw this question out for you to ponder:

How might the church be shaped by internet interaction? How could/or does this look?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005



Evangelicalism seems to follow the curvature of culture and reflects culture. And if you look back over the last 50-60 years, culture has actually gone through three very distinct groupings: Boomers, Gen-Xers and now Millennials. It seems to me that as evangelicalism encounters each cultural shift that each cultural shift as they integrate with it gives a different shape and form, not so much to the message, but to the way in which the message itself is communicated. So if you go back to Traditional Evangelicalism, I see it shaped by World War II and post-World War II. And then the Pragmatics, who emerged in the ’80s or so under the leadership of Bill Hybels and others are essentially shaped by the ’60s and the revolution that the ’60s introduced — even though they didn’t begin until the late ’70s and ’80s, they are really children of the ’60s.

Now things are changing again. The rise of the Millennials (who have been born since 1982 — and these are not hard and fast dates) have been shaped by post modernity, and as a result of their cultural interaction with post modernity, they’re beginning to reflect in a different way on what evangelical Christianity looks like.

In Dr. Webber's book The Younger Evangelicals, he talks about how many "younger evangelicals" crave mystery and ancient worship expressions (a la pre-enlightenment). There's a high value on liturgy and connection with worship elements such as the Christian calendar, communion, and ritual.

This has definitely been my experience with the youth and young people that I work with. His thoughts resonate with my context immensely.

Monday, October 10, 2005



A couple of years back Gavin and I were attending the Emergent Conference in Nashville. While there we sat in on Dr. Robert Webber's seminar on Ancient/Future Faith. After the seminar was over Gavo and I sat with Dr. Webber and spent a half our just talking about ministry and postmodernism. I knew after spending that time with him that he was someone that I wanted to read more of. Since then I have become very fond of several of his books- including my favorite- Ancient Future Time.

So this week I am excited to spend time daily with Dr. Webber for my third installment of "A Week With..." series.

Dr. Webber occupies the William R. and Geraldyne B. Myers Chair of Ministry at Northern Baptist Seminary, and previously served as Professor of Theology at Wheaton College for 32 years. He is among the most respected evangelical theologians and a widely recognized authority on spirituality and worship. He has published numerous articles and over 40 books. His most recent books include: Ancient-Future Faith (Baker, 1999), Journey to Jesus (Abington, 2001), The Younger Evangelical (Baker, 2002), and Ancient-Future Evangelism (Baker, 2003).

Sunday, October 09, 2005


I am sooooooooooo excited!!! I scored tickets to see Widespread Panic at the Starwood Amphitheatre. So Friday night, Gavin, Daniel and I will be sitting in the lawn at Starwood, looking at the stars, talking theology and life and listening to one of my fav jambands.


Daniel and I were talking and somehow we got to talking about what if Jesus came back on Friday. Would Widespread Panic become Jesus and the Widespread Rapture?

Thank you port-o-john guy!!! (inside joke)

here's some samples of some of my fav widespread songs:

porch song
space wrangler
tall boy

Oh yes, it's gonna be a great night!!!


In an amazing act of reconcilliation, Jonathon Norman sent a beautifully decorated gift basket, that he made himself from his arts and crafts supply set, to good friend Shane Raynor.

Shane recieved the basket and his words were, "dang, that guy knows how to use a craft stick. I thought those things were just for popsicles."

Upon opening the basket Shane found to his delight Legos and Beer. ISN'T LIFE GRAND.

"You're my boy Shane. Luv ya bro...


Saturday, October 08, 2005


Apparently The Wesley Blog and some of Shane Raynor's readers think so. I'm not sure what Shane's reason to criticize a meeting of 30 church leaders who represented 7 agencies of the United Methodist Church whose sole purpose was to discuss and discern ways they could work more "effectively" together to reach out to youth, young adults and those who work with them.

Raynor: "Let me say up front that I'm happy to see the focus on youth and college kids, but if we see a need to bring all of our agencies together for a summit, we probably have too many agencies."

Shane is probably right when he states that there may be too many agencies, however, he offers no solutions (at least solutions that would ever be taken seriously). The people that make up the agencies are generally passionate, intelligent, called to ministy, and have a desire to see our churches thrive and suceed.

I personally know many of the folks who work at the Division on Ministries with Young People. Some are young adults themselves, some have been in youth ministry for a number of years and bring sage wisdom to the Board but they all are gifted and passionate about youth and young adult ministry.

Shane stated: "As I mentioned earlier, I'm happy that we're addressing this issue, but instead of doing arts and crafts (no offense ladies, but I'm thinking there's no way a guy was running this meeting)..."

The use of art as a form of communication can be much more powerful than simple discussion. Artistic expression allows a group to delve deeper into the heart of certain issues and allows a group to tear away various layers that sometimes can be threatening or awkward- and its done in a playful manner. I see absolutely nothing wrong with the use of art as a way to promote communication in a meeting. In fact, I use it in most of my youth meetings- so I find it especially appropriate for YOUTH AND YOUNG ADULT LEADERS in our agencies to emulate communication styles that are appropriate and useful in youth ministry. If you've not seen art used in a youth/young adult church setting check this resource out- it is full of churches who still value art as a way to experience the presence of God.

Shane stated: ..."why not actually bring in some teenagers and young adults and see what they think? Or find the United Methodist congregations that are good at ministering to people under 30 and get them to help other churches figure out how to do the same thing? A movement is more likely to start at the grass roots than at the top. "

I know for a fact that some of these various boards or agencies that are geared towards youth and young adults DO INDEED bring in youth and young adults. Not only do they do so, but they employ young adults. There are quite a few employees at the Division On Ministry With Young People and Young Adult Ministry that are well... um... young adults.

They also have a steering committee made up of youth and young adults that help guide the direction of the division. As far as finding UMC congregations that are good at ministering to people under 30? Well, they are doing this too.

Just a few weeks ago I spent the day with several folks from the GBOD who work at that division, along with a couple of campus ministers, a Conference Youth Director, and the head of the Center For Church Leadership at Martin Methodist College. The reason we came together? To talk about why young adults drop out of church and how we can reach out to them. Next steps include focus groups made up of youth, college age and post college young adults. After that? Well, we figure that out after the data that we gather.

Mr. Raynor, I understand that you read an article, processed it with little information to go on. But a few of your readers, who have been much more critical and way LESS articulate and generous to those folks who work at these boards and agencies, deserve better from you this time. And given the amount of critcism and degree of "unarticulateness" a few have shown- I beg you to be a bit more responsible next time.


This is an short exerpt from a book that I just started reading by Michael Budde called "Christianity Incorporated: How Big Business is Buying the Church":

His image is used to promote cement companies and bakeries, and to sell music CDs, videotapes, T-shirts, hats, mugs, and potato chips. His tours attract corporate sponsors like Federal Express, Mercedes-Benz, Kodak, Hewlett-Packard, and Pepsi.

We're not talking about Michael Jordan, nor Michael Jackson, nor the reigning pop music or movie idol du jour, but about the brave new world of Pope John Paul II, the world's most desirable product endorser. At a time when for-profit culture industries orchestrate human attention to an unprecedented degree, we now witness a strange kind of institutional overlap where religious groups adopt the latest in advertising and marketing techniques and corporations sell their wares by exploiting deeply treasured religious symbols, images, and stories.

Given the stature and aura that still surround the church and papacy for many people, it remains jarring to see examples like these:
—To finance the pope's 1998 visit to Mexico City, the Archdiocese of Mexico City received corporate sponsorship from more than two dozen firms. The single largest sponsor was the Pepsi-owned Sabritas chip company, which paid $1.8 million for the right to use the pope's image in its packaging. The Spanish-language play on words—"Las Papas del Papa" ("The Potatoes of the Pope") was lost on absolutely no one. Equally obvious was the seemingly inescapable TV and billboard ads connecting the pope's picture with Bimbo bread, a local cement company, and other joint promotions between the church and its corporate benefactors....

—In 1999, the Vatican approved a licensing deal with Miami-based Siesta Telecom to issue a Pope John Paul II pre-paid phone card. The card comes with a signed certificate and the pope's likeness on the card; the company already sells phone cards with the Virgin Mary's picture on them. According to Dave Estep, vice president for sales and marketing for Siesta, "Through our business, people will not only be able to buy something that is very useful, but will be gaining a spiritual blessing through the messages sent by the Pope."...

Volvo now claims its cars will "save your soul," MCI uses priests to testify to the reliability of its rate plans, and one particular detergent claims for itself power to wash clean even the Shroud of Turin. Gatorade has built an entire theology—maybe even a new religion—around the person of His Airness (maybe it should be His Holiness), Michael Jordan.... Mercedes-Benz promises a litany of blessings and ends up with the slogan, "Sacrifice Nothing."...

This strange convergence—traditional churches embracing advertising/marketing techniques and ideologies, and marketers eager to utilize Christianity to sell goods, services, lifestyles, and attitudes—begs for explanation. From the ecclesial side, the embrace of marketing flows from a variety of church weaknesses; for the advertisers, religious symbols and metaphors represent yet another cultural resource to be mined and exploited until no longer useful. For both, the object of the game is formation....

The intriguing question is not whether capitalist culture will continue to shape hearts and imaginations more thoroughly than the Way of the Cross, but whether the churches will produce people able to tell the difference between the two.

From Christianity Incorporated: How Big Business is Buying the Church, by Michael Budde and Robert Brimlow, © 2002 Brazos Press. Used with permission.

Friday, October 07, 2005


READING: MATTHEW 22: 1-14, EXODUS 25: 1-9,
PSALM 106: 1-6, 19-23


As I was reading these passages this week I realized something. According to these narratives- the people of God have a hard time remembering their past. And when we forget our stories there's no telling what we'll make of the present....

Moses has been gone too long. There's no sign of the Israellite's leader, no sign of the cloud that comtained God who had been travelling alongside the people. And an outbreak of chronic forgetfulness was creeping in. The people forgot who it was that called them out of Egypt, forgot who made a safe passage for them when faced with a powerful Egyptian army, forgot who had been providing for them day in and day out since they had been wandering in the desert.

This is not news to me. I've read this before. But I stumbled onto something I had not thought about before. We can say anything we want about the Israellites concerning the creating of the calf, but they seem to be nothing but a "chip off the old block" because God too seems to be forgetful and has a bad case of amnesia. God sees what the people have done and decides to simply obliterate God's people.

God's anger seems to get the best of God when God declares to Moses, "I look at this people--oh! what a stubborn, hard-headed people! Let me alone now, give my anger free reign to burst into flames and incinerate them. But I'll make a great nation out of you (Moses)."

Moses then basically says to God, "Have you FORGOTTEN your promise that you made to YOUR PEOPLE- the promise to bring them out of Egypt into the promised land and to make them great?"

Moses seems to have the wonderful job of being the KEEPER OF MEMORIES AND STORIES. And the job of the KEEPER is to help people to re-member their stories. God seems to have momentarily forgotten the story and so has Gods people. So Moses confronts God and asks God to "re-member" God's promise. Then Moses goes to the Israellites and confronts them and tells them to "re-member" their story.

Interestingly I have a deeper appreciation for God after reading this story. The rational Westerner in me usually thinks in terms such as "God is unchanging", or "God is ominpotent or omnipresent", etc.. etc... . But then I read the this and I am reminded that we have domesticated the Hebrew God who sometimes is just simply WILD AND UNTAME and utterly beyond us. And yes, the Hebrew God seems to be much more fluid, change/process oriented than the God we like to worship. There are things that I love about this and things that scare the hell out of me. But thank you Moses for helping God and Gods children to "re-member" who they were and their story.

The psalm for this week is a petition to God to remember Gods people in every moment of our life. This re-membering is important for the Community of God. Re-membering has a dynamic aspect and very active dimension to it. To re-member is not just to recall, but to practice the retelling of our story in such a way that we continue to live the story of our faith in the here and now and allow the story to re-member the the body of Christ, or to unify and strengthen who we are as brothers and sisters.

In the Matthew telling of the banquet story the dinner host is an absolute prig! After his guests all bail on him sends his servants out to invite anyone who is willing to come to the party- good, bad, ugly, rich, poor, outcast, whoever. So the servants do so. (here's where it gets ugly) The guesthall is filled and host ought to be pleased (since the servants have brought back exactyl who the host told them to bring). But instead the host singles out one individual who is "dressed the wrong way"

In pure drama queen fashion the host declares, "Friend, how dare you come in here looking like that!' The man was speechless. Then the king told his servants, "Get him out of here--fast. Tie him up and ship him to hell. And make sure he doesn't get back in.'

Did the host send word to the guests ahead of time what the appropriate dress was? Would some of these folks know the "appropriate attire for such a banquent (especially if they were not part of the social class that attended such banquets)? Did the host have to call this person out in such fashion.

I would suggest that maybe this parable is a "how not to host a party" in the kingdom of God. I wonder if Jesus was saying through this parable- "our dear host has FORGOTTEN our STORY- the part that talks about welcoming the stranger/sojourner when he/she is among us." Maybe this was Jesus' wake up call to RE-MEMBER, rebuild the commUNITY of God.



(this article can also be found at Radical Preaching)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Congrats to Kara (dare we be christians?) and family as they welcome Carter into the world!!! Words from Kara, "Carter was born yesterday at 4:57pm after about 26 hours of labor. But we made it - and no c-section! It was an amazing delivery and experience for all of us. Carter is healthy and doing great. 7 lbs. 14 oz. 20 inches long. I feel great and think recovery will be quick. Jeff and Claire are taking care of both of us. Claire Marin is already a fabulous big sister."

Kara, your friends are praying for you, Carter and family.



Many blessings on Rosh Hoshana to my Jewish brothers and sisters.


read Rabbi David Aaron's commentary on Rosh Hoshana here.

Monday, October 03, 2005




Everything is Illuminated: A tale of pilgrimage.



I try and have at least one day of renewal a month. Those who know me well know that I take time out A LOT (shut up Gavin). But I really like a true "day apart" every now and then. So this Friday I had an early meeting with my friend and staff parish liason, Jody, and then I took off West of Nashville.

I ended up at the Narrows of the Harpeth for a time of hiking and prayer. What did I take with me? I packed nothing but my gray hoodie (it was a bit chilly), a northface waist pack (I promise it's cooler than a fannypack), the book of common prayer (my guide for the day) and the book, Living Faithfully: as a prayer book people by John H. Westerhoff (a guide to the book of common prayer).

I had never been to the trails at the Narrows and I was in for a treat.

I began the hike with a short prayer prayer from bcp:
"O give thanks unto the Lord, and call upon his Name; tell the people what things he hath done. Psalm 105:1"; "I was glad when they said unto me, "We will go into the
house of the Lord." Psalm 122:1". I was in awe as I realized that I HAD come to the house of the Lord and it was so beautiful. I was sitting on a picnic table by the Harpeth River realizing that for the first time that week- it was SO quiet.

I hiked for about a mile, a fairly steep hike up onto bluffs overlooking the river. It was gorgeous with an incredible overlook. I found a bluff with the most incredible rock formation. It was perfect as an altar. So I put my prayer book on it and asked God to bless it and the day for me. I then spent the better part of a couple of hours reading and enjoying the sounds of nature around.

It was absolutely amazing.

As I was reading I was greeted by fellow pilgrims on the trail- a mom and her 3 year old daughter out for an afternoon hike. Meagan, the 3 year old plopped down on a rock beside me and began to tell me all about the lunch she and mom were going to have in a few minutes and then about how cool the river was. I listened and secretly thanked God for such wonderful company. After a few moments I left the two for their lunch as I headed back down the bluff.

Next I hiked a different trail and ended up at a very cool waterfall. It was actually a kind of cavern where fresh spring water flowed out of the cavern and then into a large pool. It was pretty incredible. I sat in utter enjoyment watching the water.

Opening the bcp I read the following prayer that seemed so perfect for the moment:
"O gracious Father, who openest thine hand and fillest all
things living with plenteousness: Bless the lands and waters,
and multiply the harvests of the world; let thy Spirit go
forth, that it may renew the face of the earth; show thy
loving-kindness, that our land may give her increase; and
save us from selfish use of what thou givest, that men and
women everywhere may give thee thanks; through Christ
our Lord. Amen." bcp, prayer 40

After that, I headed back towards my car. But before I left I once again sat on the picnic table where I started. I sat and watched a couple fish in the river. They were having so much fun. I asked God to bless their time together and time apart from the hustle and bustle.

I ended my time with this:
"Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth,
you made us fellow workers in your creation: Give us wisdom
and reverence so to use the resources of nature, that no one
may suffer from our abuse of them, and that generations yet
to come may continue to praise you for your bounty; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." bcp, prayer 41

All in all, my pilgrimage was exactly what I had hoped for. I highly recommend The Narrows of the Harpeth as a place to get away for a day.


From exit 188, on I-40 west of Nashville, take TN 249 and follow it 2.3 miles to a T intersection with US 70. Turn left, heading west on US 70 for 2.3 miles to Cedar Hill Road. Turn Right on Cedar Hill Road and follow it 3 miles to the Harris-Street Bridge, which will be on your right. Turn right just before the bridge to a parking area. The trail starts down by the Harpeth River beyond some vehicle barrier boulders.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


For He says, "Take no anxious thought for tomorrow," meaning that the man who has devoted himself to Christ ought to be sufficient to himself, and servant to himself, and moreover lead a life which provides for himself, that each day by itself. For it is not in we are trained, but in peace, that we are trained. War needs great preparation, and luxury craves profusion; but peace and love, simple and quiet sisters, require no arms nor excessive preparation, The Word is their sustenance. (Paedagogus I, xii. 99)

In their wars, therefore, the Etruscans use the trumpet, the Arcadians the pipe, the Sicilians the pectides, the Cretans the lyre, the Lacedaemonians the flute, the Thracians the horn, the Egyptians the drum, and the Arabians the cymbal. The one instrument of peace, the Word alone by which we honour God, is what we employ. We no longer employ the ancient psaltery and trumpet, and timbrel, and flute, which those expert in war and contemners of the fear of God were wont to make use of also in the choruses at their festive assemblies; that by such might raise their dejected minds. (Paed. II iv)

But contrary to what is the case with the rest of men, collect for thyself an unarmed, a bloodless, a passionless' a stainless host, an unwarlike, pious old men, orphans dear to God, widows armed with meekness, men, adorned with love. (Quis Dives Savetur? 34)

They also are peacemakers, who teach those who war against the stratagems Of sin to have recourse to faith and peace. (Stromata IV 6)

For we do not train our women like Amazons to manliness in war; since we wish the men even to be peaceable. I hear that the Sarmatian women practise war no less than the men;and the women of Sacae besides, who shoot backwards, feigning flight as well as the men. (Stromata IV 8)

- Clement of Alexandria (150‑230 AD)
Writings (181­-230 AD)

Saturday, October 01, 2005


The way of life is this: First of all, thou shall love the God that made thee; secondly, thy neighbor as thyself. And all things whatsoever thou wouldst not have befall thyself, neither do thou unto another. Now of these words the doctrine is this: Bless them that curse you, and pray for you enemies and fast for them that persecute you for what thank is it, if ye love them that love you? Do not even the Gentiles the same? Bu do ye love them that hate you that hate you and ye shall not have an enemy.

Abstain thou from fleshly and bodily lusts. I or any (hu)man give thee a blow on thy right cheek turn to him (her) the other also, and thou shalt be perfect; If a (hu)man impress thee to go with him (her) one mile, go with him (her) twain; if a (hu)man take away thy cloak, give him (her) thy coat also; if a (hu)man take away from thee that which is thy own, ask it not back, for neither art thou able. (1.2‑4)

-DIDACHE (80?90AD)


Can Jesus be a "liberal" or "conservative"? Steve Manskar deals with this question over at Accountable Discipleship. Check it out.



What will such Bible-shaped missional communities look like? A beginning description would include:

1. Hearing and reading the Bible will involve not only a search for understanding, but an expectation of obedience and commitment—knowledge and discipleship will be linked together.

2. Hearing, reading, marking, learning, and inwardly digesting Scripture will become an integrated and integral part of the whole life of the entire church: worship, education, administration, service, witness.

3. Attention will be given to the cultivation of the habits, attitudes, and skills for faithful and wise interpretation.

4. Rather than reading the Bible in a general and unfocused manner, communal engagement with the Bible will be intentional, related to missional and discipleship issues. (As a collection of writings, reading the Bible straight through from Genesis to Revelation makes no more sense than reading all the books in a library beginning at the front door. )

5. The otherness and strangeness—"scandal and foolishness"—of the Bible will not be ignored or smoothed over, but will be allowed to confront and transform current presuppositions, understandings, and commitments.

6. The study and interpretation of the Bible will be guided not by questions of private meaning: "What does this text mean to me?", but by: "How is the Bible shaping a new reality among us?" and "What is this text saying to us as the church attempting to be faithful today?"

7. The church will critique and reshape its vision, common life, teaching, organization, and ministry on the basis of its hearing of the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit.