Would You?

This week I have only a question for those of you that read my blog and I'm really hoping for some comments.

If Heaven and Hell failed to exist, would you follow the ways of Jesus?


People; The Objects

I was watching a short video podcast today from one of my most admired ministries, XXXChurch. I've greatly admired the team at XXXChurch for their willingness to go into tough places to bring a message of love to those who desperately need it or who have never actually felt real love, but the "love" that comes from porn and the porn industry. This particular podcast had a short clip of some of the XXXChurch crew members attempting to have a conversation with a few very loud, obnoxious Christians that stood across the road of the Exotica Miami Convention with banners held high portraying messages directed at the convention goers that featured words like "sin", "anger" and "hate". The XXXChurch volunteers attempted to help the banner people understand that the message they were passing along was not the message of Jesus, because in fact each person is valued and loved by God. There was quite at argument that ensued and if you'd like to see it you can click here (about 3min in)

Why do we as Jesus followers think that porn should not exist? There are multiple reasons but I believe the most important reason is this: porn only degrades people, especially women, it ultimately plays a part in removing humanity and replacing it with objectivity. I believe that part of fighting the good fight (1 Tim 1:18, 6:12 2 Tim 4:7) is to fight for humanity to exist or to be restored, not to degrade it.

What I don't think the banner people realize is they are a lot more like the porn producers, actors and consumers they were calling out than they are like those that choose to follow Jesus. I couldn't help but notice that the banner people looked at the people across the street as sinners, evil doers and whores, of which we could say about any of us, but they didn't see the people across the street for what they truly were...humans...damaged, broken, fallen, humans. As they were yelling and screaming I began to tear up a bit, only because if they were portraying the true God, they might as well have been yelling and screaming at me-for I have sinned, I am broken, I have done evil, I am damaged, I am fallen and if these are the labels I must carry around, the kind of labels that show up in a room 5 minutes before I do, I have no hope because now I am not a person who carries baggage, I am the baggage, and if this is true, there is no hope.

There is a quote from Shane Claiborne that I talk about frequently that I believe hits home in this situation, a conversation he had with a friend where his friend claimed that Jesus never spoke to a prostitute. Shane began to fire back with counter remarks until his friend stopped him and finished. His friend finished his thought: "Jesus never talked with a prostitute because He never saw a prostitute...He saw a person that He was madly in love with".

Ultimately; stories about banner people sadden me, but I fear this problem is much closer to home than we want to realize. Part of working inside a church is many conversations, philosophies, and creation of evangelism. Evangelism is a great thing, but all too often our language can turn to things like "we evangelized them" or "we need to grow through evangelism". It's not the words that end up being the problem, it's where the words come from. All too often we has pastors and church people can stop seeing actual people with issues, problems, joys and sorrows-but soon we begin to implement the same objectivity thinking as the banner people and porn producers, the kind of thinking where people are no longer humans, they are objects that make up our large events, purposes and even our egos.

I'm sad to say it, but I am guilty of this type of thinking. There have been times where I have given in to objectivity thinking. In my darkest times, my entire goal is to pack out the room with lots of kids and look like a hero to the church because "there are so many kids here!" When this type of thinking ensues, it doesn't matter where these kids come from or what they go home to, the only thing that matters is me because, I don't have to care for objects; right?

May all of us see humans that God is madly in love with. May we all see humans that we are madly in love with. May we realize that Jesus died for humanity, and not just the people, but the concept as well. May we be carriers and removers of others baggage. May we be part of the restoration and the gift of true, authentic, Humanity.


Pomo Camp-Ground

This pic was posted on twitter by my good friend Tim Haydock, and I thought I would share it with ya'll. To all my friends living within this new culture, shall we create an annual retreat here? An annual time of theological and philosophical wrestling? This could be epic.


One of my great influencers; Bill Walsh

Recently, a friend of mine had to ask 10 different people to comment on who they considered great and why. She chose to involve me in this project and below is my response.

"One person that I think is really great is Bill Walsh. Walsh coached the San Francisco 49ers from 1979 to 1988. During that time he won 3 super bowls, which was a great achievement in itself in such a short time. However, this is not why I truly admire about him.

During his time as the head coach of the 49ers, as well as his coaching time at Stanford, Walsh was able to develop 6 other coaches that went on to become great head coaches in the NFL. These 6 coaches then developed others because of the influence of Walsh, all in all, the total amount of head coaches that can thank Walsh for playing a serious role in their leadership is 31. (and there are only 32 teams in the NFL)

The other reason i think he's great is that he invented what we call the "West Coast Offense". There are only a few great minds that have shaped current football strategies and he is one of them. He looked at the current offenses in place and decided they needed to be re-invented so he did, which is why he was able to earn so many wins and championships. I truly admire anybody that can re-write the way things are done in any industry or ministry.

In addition to these things he genuinely cared about his fellow players and coaches. He considered it a great honor to be able to work with everyone he did. For Walsh, this was the most valuable part of coaching. This type of attitude from a coach is rare today and when a coach is encountered with a similar attitude as Walsh, the time with that coach is to be admired and copied.

As a ministry leader, i hope to be able to re-think ministry strategies and recycled ideas and turn them into what can truly achieve the mission of God. I also hope that one day there will be many other leaders in ministry that I was able to develop so that they may continue to legacy of pushing forth the great mission of God."

As leaders in ministry, it is important that we continue to learn from anybody and everybody that has gone before us so that we may grow in our ability to be the best leaders we can be, wherever God has placed us.

"Leadership is a stewardship. It is temporary. And you're accountable" -Andy Stanley

If you had to name 1 leader that you greatly admire and have learned a lot from, who would they be?



Check out this video by Matt Chandler on why we see people leaving faith and church. Thought provoking.


The Pastor DJ

So if you've never been able to surf through theooze.com, do it soon. Spencer Burke will fascinate and stretch you in big ways. Today I posted a video that was recently put together by the people at the ooze. It's a fascinating look at how the scratch DJ and the Pastor have more similarities than we think. This conversation may even open up your horizons on what is possible within the community you lead or are a leader within.

After seeing this I believe the new questions that will role through my mind before I begin to communicate to my Junior High students will be something to the tone of "what can I create to make these students feel the rhythm of God? How can I best piece together the scriptures that find themselves within the narrative in order so that they pulsate through the group that have gathered at this moment?"

What are the questions you believe you will begin to ask?


Raising others, though i'm incomplete

Insomnia happens a little too regularly for me. I'm not really sure why except that it runs in my family. When this happens it usually causes me to reflect on my day and recent events.

I've been blessed with a great intern that is a part of our ministry. I love to watch him internact with the kids in our ministry, he connects. He is incredibly gifted in his natural leadership ability, which is something I admire in anyone. Students walk behind him, figurativly and litarlly. Students love his free-flowing attitutde and take on life. Unfortuantly that carries with it a tendency to not be so punctual when it is needed.

Today I had a heavy conversation with him about showing up in the office even when it doesn't seem like there is anything for him to do. I didn't enjoy it, he didn't enjoy it, yet it needed to happen.

I want to be a great leader, someone that people choose to follow, not someone that people have to follow. I want to be an active part in teaching others about true leadership and true ministry leadership without teaching them to become "mini-me's". Through these meanderings I realize how incomplete I am in my leadership growth. How does the student learn from the incomplete teacher? More importantly; how does a teacher help to mold a student yet allow the student to stay true to himself instead of creating a carbon copy? How does the teacher do all these things while teaching the student to manage around their weaknesses?

These are the incomplete meanderings of my day.


The Tree?

I love the Bible. It's the greatest news I've ever heard or been exposed to. Everything I read in it further makes me stand in awe of God and all that he is. Unfortunately though, sometimes the "huge" God that we serve blows my mind a little too much and I just can't understand his ways. Usually, these times that I "just can't understand" are not simple questions that I can ask someone or that I believe others truly have an answer to, in fact most of these questions I come up with tend to make me a little upset with God, so we begin a wrestling match.

This morning I met with a few pastors from our church for a weekly discipleship group. Our study today revolved around the nature of a man as compared to Adam. As we read through Genesis, I couldn't help but worry about something I haven't ever worried about before. Let me sum up the story...

Genesis 2:8-9 (NASB)
8The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.

9Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Genesis 2:15-17 (NASB)
15Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.

16The LORD God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;

17but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die."

Genesis 3:6 (NASB)
6When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

Genesis 3:16-19 (NASB)
16To the woman He said,
"I will greatly multiply
Your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children;
Yet your desire will be for your husband,
And he will rule over you."

17Then to Adam He said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat from it';
Cursed is the ground because of you;
In toil you will eat of it
All the days of your life.
18"Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;
And you will eat the plants of the field;
19By the sweat of your face
You will eat bread,
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return."

Did you see it too? This really gets to me! Why does God even put the tree in the middle of the garden so that the man and woman are able to access it? Would they have sinned if the tree wasn't there? If the tree is necessary why not locate it somewhere else? Why not locate it somewhere that it is not accessible? Why even create that tree? What does the creation and placement of this tree suggest about the nature of God?

I have so many questions that do not make sense to me right now. Have any of you ever wrestled with this same idea? Have any of you ever come to any conclusions on this matter?


Justice in the Parking Lot

There's this dream I have. I see the church, not just a church but the church, as a place and people that has no more need for programs, presentations, or events. A people that see their lives as mission. A people that carry out the will of God in their cities and beyond when needs arise. A people that are so sensitive and obedient to the spirit of God that they see and feel the needs and in-justice around them. This is the dream and it sounds great, until the rubber hits the road.

I was on my weekly grocery store run at a major store near where I live. I finished up my shopping and was heading back out to my car pushing my full cart. Soon after leaving the front doors, I was approached by a young man with a coffee can in his hand that had a small slot cut into the lid. He approched me with an urgency that told me whether or not I chose to acknowledge him, he was going to tell me what he needed to tell me. He said to me, in a very sobering voice, "sir, my neice recently was hit by a drunk driver while she was walking along the street, we can't afford to bury her, can you help?" I hate to say this, but at that time, I didn't really care. I let him know that I didn't have any cash on hand (which was a lie). He graciously said "thanks" and walked away. About 20 seconds later, while I was loading up my car, 2 teenage girls came up to me with the same story. I let them know that the other guy had already hit me up, so they left. I finished loading my car and was now getting into the driver seat.

At this time, thoughts and feelings of guilt began to run through my head. I realized what they were really asking for was justice, the ability to bury their 7 year old neice who was taken much too early by a man who had made a few bad choices 3 evenings earlier. This was not something I could walk away from and truly call myself and follower of Jesus.

What was even more ironic was that the night before, I had sat down with the volunteer staff from our junior high ministry at our church and talked about the topic of justice and junior high students. We talked about how we can help move them from a life of selfisheness to a life that helps them participate with others in justice initiatives. Which would hopfully lead them into liberally throwing out justice when they see injustice in their everyday lives. This was my chance to lead by example, and I was about to fail.

I sat there in my car knowing that I could give them what was in my wallet, but that wouldn't actually bring about real justice, I needed to go beyond that. Just as I was running through my head, another man approached me with the story of his neice. I got out and said I had noticed everybody in the parking lot. I told him that I was a pastor at a church that was down the road and that I wanted to help so asked him what their plans for the funeral were. He said they were waiting on a quote from a local funeral home but knew it was going to be un-affordable. At that moment I knew what I had to do.

Unfortunatly I didn't have any information cards in my wallet so I began writing my office phone number and address down for him. While doing this I asked him to tell me about his neice. He began to desicribe her in ways that made me realize how much the world was missing out by her not being around any more, and how much I had missed out by not knowing her.

I handed him the information and told him that we had a building and could make a lot of things happen if they would be helpful. He said "thanks" and I reinforced the fact that I would be waiting for his call.

God never ceases to amaze me. I have felt my heart and passions moving toward the area of God's justice in the world over the last few months. I prayed that God would begin to open my eyes to the in-justices that were in front of me so that I could be a part of his holistic mission in the world.

Where do you see in-justice? Where is God looking for you to speak for those who cannot speak? Stand for those who cannot stand? Help those that cannot help themselves?


Stomp on May 20

I'm so excited for the return of STOMP to the Saroyan Theatre on May 20! They are a sweet Broadway group that is on tour for a while. Steph and I went and saw them when they were here last, which was about 3 years ago and it was a completely unforgettable show. I bought two tickets in August (yeah, that's how excited I was) when they went on sale but then Steph and I got tickets for Christmas. So I'm looking to sell the ones I already bought. If you know anybody who may be interested feel free to give them my info or they can check out my craigslist page. See ya!