Category Archives: Theolgy

Reflections for Lent

01

I wish I had more time for blogging right now, especially since it’s the Lent season.  But right now, I need to give my attention to other things.  So, while I will continue to post my usual random thoughts…here are a couple great resources for you to follow as we anticipate the Day of Resurrection.

http://www.spiritfarmer.com/

http://msainfo.org/articles/a-journey-into-wholeness-lenten-reflection-guide

http://eugenecho.wordpress.com/2009/02/25/lent-giving-up-stuff-or-giving-in-to-jesus/

As always…feel free to share your thoughts, questions and struggles as we hope to dive ourselves into this time of repentance and hope.

[ Picture courtesy of Nick Barth]

Love and Peace.

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Longing for Mary’s Song during Christmas

The Christmas season is always one of my favorite times of the year as a pastor.  I love to teach through Advent and grow in my understanding of God’s story in bringing us His son Jesus.  I love the history, the mysterious prophecies, and the way God chose to use the most humble and marginalized people to bring about His plan.

I prefer the Gospel of Luke in my Christmas studies and this year has been no different, as I’ve been amazed at all the new insight gained through my time of study.  There are so many layers to the story and it reminds me each time I read through it, how God is always working behind the scenes of our lives.  Whether we want Him to or not…

One of the more popular pieces of Scripture is found in Luke chapter 1.  It’s widely known as Mary’s Song…a response / prayer from Mary’s soul as the magnitude of all that is happening to her, and the world, begins to sink in.

Here it is…

And Mary said:
   “My soul glorifies the Lord 
    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 
  for he has been mindful
      of the humble state of his servant.
   From now on all generations will call me blessed, 
    for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
      holy is his name. 
 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
      from generation to generation. 
 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
      he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 
 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
      but has lifted up the humble. 
 He has filled the hungry with good things
      but has sent the rich away empty. 
 He has helped his servant Israel, 
      remembering to be merciful 
 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
      even as he said to our fathers.”

It really is a beautiful song…full of humility and wonder.  But as I’ve pondered on it this week, I can’t help but long for our world to hear Mary’s song anew. 

Read these words again…He has brought down rulers from their thrones, but has lifted up the humble.  He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty. 

This is facsinating Exodus language which we find throughout the Old Testament.  Mary is recognizing that once again, God has “heard the cries of My people”…and brought justice, rescue and hope.

I have to be honest…it’s been difficult for me to read this and not wonder why God isn’t doing more to rescue the millions in our world today who are starving, oppressed, and forced to live in such horrid conditions.  When will the Congo recieve justice?  When will Mugabe, the evil leader of Zimbabwe be brought down from his throne of terror?  How long will those who rule with greed be allowed to have so much while their people live with so little?

I believe that Jesus came to save the world and that we will always have our hope in Him.  I also believe the church can do more to creatively be the change we all desire to see in the world.  But then there are those times when I sit back and ask God why He won’t intervene and bring rescue.  Why is He waiting?    Who is He preparing that we don’t yet know about?  Our world needs a renewed hope that He is hearing their cries! 

I’ll continue to read her song this Christmas season…trying to trust God for justice, food, water, healing, and hope.  While praying for wisdom as I seek to bring hope in whatever way I can. 

Love and Peace.

Discussing Gender and Faith

I was really excited this morning when I got the Facebook notice that Quest Church is putting on one of them most important conferences there can be in the church.  I know that this will be a legit conference as I know Eugene Cho, Lead Pastor of Quest would never put on a conference for the sake of just doing a conference.

The conversation will center around the role of gender and what it means to be men and women “in Christ”.  Their guest teacher will be Lauren Winner.  Lauren is someone I’ve met and have immense respect for on this particular subject.  This is going to be such an important couple of days for pastors, Christ-followers, and anyone in general who believes we have a long way to go in the dialogue of gender and faith.

I have been very frustrated as a pastor to not see more and more women affirmed in the church as leaders and ministers.  My own mother has been a pastor for many years and I’ve seen first hand just how hurtful the church can be towards them.  It really can be disgusting!

I’ve also found myself frustrated with the fact that the church I co-pastor (Redwood Hills), has been unable to involve more women in our leadership.  Other than a Trustee, and kid’s director, we have a major absence of women being an active voice in our teaching, and mission.  I will not be attending this conference hoping to find that one female looking for a job in a church…rather, I will be there to listen and learn from women.

If you’re close to the Seattle area, I want to encourage you to sign up for this opportunity to learn and grow in your faith by entering a very important conversation. 

Love and Peace.

A Revolution of Hope…

Today is the second, and last day of the Deep Shift conference here in the Queen Anne district of Seattle.  It’s basically an in-depth teaching of Brian McLaren’s lastest book, Everything Must Change.  I read the book last fall while in Africa and would recommend it to you to read as well.  Click here to see more about the book.

One of the key segments of his book is the idea that our world is desperate for a Revolution of Hope.  Today, McLaren took some time to address how we might see a real revolution of hope (like the early church experienced in Acts) in America.  Here are some of the points he shared…

           1. We need a revolution in the church.

This begins with moving from church work, to the work of the church.  In other words,  we move from donuts and mission trips to teaching, training, and deploying people into culture as Christ-followers.

           2. We need a revolution in business.

Sustainability through economic, social, and environmental systems.  Better over more…partnership over competition.

           3. We need a revolution in creativity.

New tools for farming, new energy resources, story telling, film, music, art.

           4.  We need a revolution in collaboration.

Inter-faith parnerships, no more “us vs. them” teachings, church and community teams, etc…

This is a very basic summary of McLaren’s lecture, but you get the idea.  What do you think? Agree? Disagree?  If you could add to this list, what would it be?  It’s something worth thinking about…

Love and Peace.

Deep Shift…

Tonight I’m attending the Deep Shift conference in Seattle as Brian McLaren will be talking about his lastest book Everything Must Change.  Should be a good time, as every time I’ve been to one of these forums I get the chance to meet lot’s of new people.  Restoration Project will be doing all the music this weekend…they are one of the better bands I’ve heard. 

Should something interesting, profound, dangerous, or even life-changing happen…I’ll make sure to let you know. 

Peace and Love.

A Blog Worth Reading…

Every once in a while my friends ask me who I read, which blogs I follow, and what movements / organizations I support.  Well, today I want to share one blog in particular that is full of great reading and thoughtful insights about church, culture, and the person of Jesus.

 Jesus Creed by Scot McKnight is one blog worth reading. 

If you’re one who enjoys reading about the historical Jesus and what the Kingdom of God may be all about today, this is for you.  McKnight has authored many books, and is considered one of the leading voices in the Emergent movement.  I encourage you to take a few minutes to check him out.

Peace and Love.

Music worth Worshiping to?

Worship music in the world of Christianity is a funny thing.  I say that because if you take 10 people who profess to be Christians and ask them what they consider to be worship music, you’ll most likely get 9 of them to give a similar answer.  They will worship to what they hear on the radio.  Michael W. Smith, Third Day, Hillsong, etc…

Now, there’ nothing wrong with these artist.  They each have talent and have prooven to be successful in a very fickle market.  But worship music?  Really?  Before I go any farther, I must admit that I too am guilty of listening to Hillsong and getting all hyped up about God and thinking that was a worship experience.  I don’t know…maybe it is, but probably not.

Every once in a while I come across an artist or group that I just can’t seem to get enough of.  A couple years ago, I discovered Derek Webb (Listen to this song), a christian artist / activist who sings about the church in such honest and beautiful ways.  If you’ve never heard of him, it’s because Christian radio won’t play him.  He’s too honest.  Or Brie Stoner, whose voice is almost haunting.  Again, you won’t hear her music of Christian radio…she’s too real.

You know what you can hear on Christian radio?  Daughtry!  That’s right…they have a song which speaks of “going home” and the Christian music scene just loves to twist songs and say things like…”Oh, he’s speaking of Heaven”.  Whatever…

Well, a couple weeks ago I stumbled across a band called The Cobalt Season.  They are out of the Bay area and for the past few days, they are all I’ve listened to.  They speak of Justice, the struggles of serving, the sins of greed and silence, and the journey that is being a Christ-follower.  It’s such raw and emotional music that to be honest speaks to many of my struggles and fears right now.  Their song “A Lullaby for Ms. Harris ” really resonates with me as I struggle with seeing so much hurt in our community and just don’t know what I can or should do.  Here are the lyrics to the “A Lullaby…”.  On their site you can read all their songs as well as listen to their recordings to get a feel for their message.

A Lullaby for Ms. Harris

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February 26th, 2007 by The Cobalt Season

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Hush now baby don’t you cry
Mama’s gonna take you down to the riverside
Oh your daddy’s gone, but do not cry
We’ll find our way to the riverside
Son, did you forget your coat this time?
Mom, you promised that we’d all be fine
But the wood beneath my feet is wet
Where are we going? Are we there yet?

You see, I saw it from the cliff above
This desperate act disguised as love
First one by one, then three by three
But what did it have to do with me?

And so I sat and watched all through the night
Felt too powerless to put up a fight
It might be her fault, but it might be me
Seems we all had some better place to be

This is music I feel I can worship God to.  It’s honest…without hype…culturally relevant…hopeful.  It makes me think that this is how many of David’s (see the book of Psalms) worship experiences were while sitting alone in a field or a cave trying to make sense of his life.  Maybe this makes no sense to anyone who reads this.  If you’re worship music is Hillsong…that’s ok.  Just please, make it honest worship to a God who desires our pain and fear as much as our gratitude and excitement. 

May we honor him with our authenticity…not our radio friendly music.

Peace and Love.