Saturday, October 31, 2009

My Fellow Athenians

I was reading Acts 17 the other day and was impressed by a few things I found.

As a backstory to the passage, Paul was in Athens and noticed all the idols around the city. He noticed that they even had an idol to the "Unknown God" and took the opportunity to reveal His identity to them, saying, "Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you." (v.23)

Paul's message to them is fascinating to me, mainly because of the details he chooses to reveal to them about this "Unknown God". He could have taught them about sin and redemption. He could have talked about grace and works. He could have preached about the Law of Moses. Instead, notice what Paul thought was most important to communicate here.

"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands." (v.24)

Paul begins his message by affirming one of the central truths of Christianity - That God does not live in a temple made by human hands. If this is so central to our faith, then why do we put such an emphasis - and expend such obscene amounts of money - on building temples to our God?

The second point that impresses me is that Paul takes the time to stress that God has a purpose and a place for each one of us: "From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live." (v.26)

Do you realize that God put you where you live today? God has a purpose for "the exact places where (you)" and that means that He had a reason for doing this. Your neighbors are your mission field. Your co-workers are your assignment. God has strategically placed each of us where we are today for the purpose of proclaiming - and living out - the power of the Gospel to those around us. "God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us." (v.27)

I also love Paul's poetic, inspired statement in verse 28: 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'

Finally, I am amazed that Paul hangs every single statement he makes on one, single fact: The proof of the resurrection of Christ from the dead. "He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead." (v.31)

Do you see what a high level of confidence Paul has in the resurrection of Christ? He does not shy away from this, in fact, he is so sure of this fact that he appeals to this as a basis for everything he has said to them. If the resurrection is not true, then neither is anything else he has said.

I'm sad to admit that, sometimes, I am in need of being reminded just how solid the proof of Christ's resurrection really is. Once a year we may hear a sermon on the evidence for the resurrection, but the rest of the year we barely talk about it or meditate on the astounding reality of it all.

As I read this passage I realize that there are many Christians in America who need to hear this same message from Paul. God does not live in a temple made by human hands. He lives by His Spirit within each and every one of us. He has placed each of us as His ambassadors exactly where we live and work for His purposes. He is always at work in the world around us. In fact, God is everywhere. Every moment is sacred. Every location is full of His presence. And, best of all, we can have confidence in knowing that Jesus Christ is alive and well today. We are the ones who can boldly proclaim that "He is risen! He is risen indeed!"



Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Just In Time For Christmas

I've re-opened my [Subversive Underground] t-shirt shop for a limited time only.

We've got some new designs to choose from, including:





and several dozen more.

Check'em out

*I'm currently playing with the idea of releasing one unique shirt every week - for one week only. These "Subversive Tees of the Week" will be sold for only 7 days before being replaced by the next design.

Each new tee of the week will be sold to raise money for a worthy non-profit ministry or raise awareness for an important cause.

Watch this space for more updates to follow...

Until then, let me know if you like the idea of these t-shirts. I've got more where those came from.


Monday, October 26, 2009


Thanks to our friends, the Tagues (Kelly and Rachel) from the Mission, Wendy and I got to go see U2 live at the Rose Bowl yesterday.

By the grace of God, my friend Lito was in town and he managed to snag a ticket the night before.

We woke up at 7am, hit the road at 7:30am and arrived at the Rose Bowl at 8:40am. We got in the line and were given a number stamp (mine was 1205) and eventually a wristband which guaranteed our spot in the "inner circle" around the main stage.

After many hours hanging out we eventually made it inside the Rose Bowl. Over the day we had managed to get to know several people in line around us. It was pretty cool to be able to enjoy the show with these people. I don't know their names, but I will always remember:

*The girl with the red hair and her new husband. They had honeymooned in Wales and saw U2 there and now were seeing them for a second time on this tour. Thanks for sharing the night with us. It was beautiful to watch you two singing the lyrics to one another throughout the evening.

*The funny, tattoed-guy who pretended to be texting Bono. "Bono says fifteen minutes everyone. He's sorry for the delay." Thanks for helping all of us to remember that this was a beautiful day and making us all laugh together.

*The young Indian man who stood at my left shoulder during the show and worshipped during "Magnificent", "Where the Streets Have No Name" and "One". He and I both wiped away tears and even sang along loudly together during "Mysterious Ways" - 'If you wanna kiss the sky better learn how to kneel'. Thanks for reminding me that God's Family is bigger than I realize.

*The two seven foot tall guys who let us stand in front of them during Black-Eyed Peas and then lead us in closer just before U2 started saying, "Come on! You guys can stand in front of us." Thanks for giving us a great space to enjoy the show.

What an amazing night. To be able to share this with my wife, Wendy was incredible. We recently celebrated 20 years of marriage and 21 years of being in love. I couldn't have asked for a better memory to round out this month's anniversary remembrance.

How cool was it to share this memory with my oldest, and dearest friend Lito?

How incredible was it to know this was being broadcast globally via YouTube?

How amazing to know this evening was filmed for a concert DVD being released next year?

How awesome was it to enjoy all this absolutely free - thanks to our brother and sister in Christ, Kelly and Rachel Tague! (Thank you guys!)

So many other great memories of the night:

*Slash coming out to play "Sweet Child of Mine" with the Peas.

*Meeting the CEO of the company I work for for the first time because he and his wife were standing right behind us.

*Having Bono sing "I was born to sing for you" during the song "Magnificent" while he was directly above me on the moving catwalk. (I'll look for that on the DVD).

*Meeting the kid after the show who was holding the set list that The Edge had handed to him.

*Seeing how genuinely blessed and humbled Will.I.Am from the Peas was to be on that stage: "I grew up in the projects in East L.A. We used to drive over to watch the fireworks from the parking lot when I was little," he said. "Tonight I'm on the stage at the Rose Bowl singing to all of you. Thank you U2."

*Getting chills when the Peas sang "Where is the Love" and watching the faces of everyone around me as they belted out the words: "People killing people dying
Children hurtin you hear them crying. Can you practice what you preach
Would you turn the other cheek? Father Father Father help us, send some guidance from above, cause people got me got me questioning, where is the love?"

*Sensing the presence of God when Bishop Desmond Tutu said, "We will always have obstacles to justice, but if we work together God will put the wind into our sails and a song in our hearts. We are the people who will make a difference."

*Seeing Bono sing "Amazing Grace" with tears in his eyes through the tears in my eyes and singing along at the top of my lungs and thinking, "I have certainly been to Church today."

What more can be said? It was sincerely a Beautiful Day.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Brennan Manning on American Christian Culture

"If Christian men and women are to live the gospel today in our
post-industrial American culture, if we are to be in the world and not of
the world, then we must be willing to assume personal responsibility for the
ways in which our faith has been accommodated to possessiveness, pleasure,
and domination. And we must be willing to repent, reform, and be renewed."

"The church is the living extension of Jesus Christ in time and space. It is
countercurrent to the drift into cultural idolatry. The church in American
society today is, of necessity, a community of resistance to the gods of
modern life, i.e. nuclear stockpiling, money, ego, sexual muscle, racism, pride
of place."

"We are the pilgrim people of God with no lasting city here on
earth, a community of free men and women whose freedom is not limited by the
frontiers of a world that is itself in chains."

"Let us be bold enough to ask ourselves, as Christians, whether the church of
the Lord Jesus in the United States has anything to say to our nation and
its ideologies of materialism, possessiveness, and the worship of financial
security. Are we courageous enough to be a sign of contradiction to
consumerism through our living faith in Jesus Christ? Are we committed
enough to his gospel to become a counter-current to the drift? Or have we so
accommodated the faith of our fathers to consumption that the question of
simplicity of life, sharing of resources, and radical dependence on God's
providence no longer seem relevant? How do we build the kingdom of God on
earth if what we incarnate in our lives is the dogma of our culture rather
than the revelation of Jesus?" - Brennan Manning

--Still grappling with how to surrender my whole life to Christ and live as a stranger in this place.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


A good friend responded to my article (The Daily Church of Jesus) by pointing out that neglected to mention Acts 20:7 which indicates that the early Christians met on the “first day of the week” to share a meal and to hear Paul speak since he was about to go away the next day. (This is the infamous gathering where our poor brother Eutychus fell asleep and rolled out of the upstairs windows into the street below).

I will concede that, yes, the early church did see an importance to gathering on the first day of the week. However, I think we still don't grasp how much their expression of faith was so deeply ingrained in their daily lives, however. To us, that "first day of the week" gathering is nearly the only time we think about things like discipleship, community, evangelism, compassion, worship, studying/reading God's Word, etc. However, the early church saw these things as daily activities, not weekly rituals.

So, if you take into account that the early, New Testament church was experiencing a daily community, and a daily study of God's Word, and engaged in daily discipleship, and daily distribution of food to the poor, and meeting together daily to fellowship and pray and sing and encourage one another, etc. THEN we can grasp how significant it is that they ALSO made a point to get together on the first day of the week to share a meal together.

I have to believe that if you and I were doing all that they were doing, we'd probably set aside the first day of the week as a special day where we DIDN'T gather together. I think we’d want to find a special day where we had a break from all that meeting and gathering and constant community.

Yes, the early church did set aside the first day of the week for sharing a meal together, and that was important to them, but it should be seen as yet another example of their astounding commitment to Christ - and to one another – not as evidence to justify our own lack of commitment.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Daily Church of Jesus

Once you start reading the New Testament it becomes clear that the original followers of Jesus had only one day set aside for worship, fellowship, teaching and community. That day was called “Every day”.

For example, the book of Acts tells us that “every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.” (Acts 2:46) We also know that “the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.” (Acts 16:5).

The author of Hebrews calls for Christians to “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13)

Paul the Apostle took a handful of followers of Jesus to the lecture hall of Tyrannus and “had discussions daily” (Acts 19:9).

When the Grecian Jews complained that their widows weren’t being cared for it was in regards to the “daily distribution of food” to the poor which the apostles themselves were performing as true servants. (Acts 6:1)

When the Bereans were commended it was because “they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:11)

This really should come as no surprise to us, however. Jesus stressed that only those who “take up (their) cross daily” could follow him (Luke 9:23) and he taught his disciples to pray daily and to ask for “daily bread”. (Matt 6:11)

So, instead of arguing over what day of the week we should worship or gather or teach, perhaps we should stop and realize that, according to the New Testament, every single day of our lives should be devoted to God, and to the community of faith. We need to be the Church every day of our lives, not simply attend one each week.


Thursday, October 15, 2009


Not sure how this happened, but I have four new articles over at in one day.

published today under ministry

published today under reviews

published today under culture

published today under faith

Read them there and leave comments here if you like.

BONUS: Be sure to read my bio section for each one. I had some fun writing those.

Friday, October 09, 2009


I see a lot of chatter on the internet today about Obama winning the Nobel Prize for Peace. Most of my friends are upset at the decision, and perhaps they have a point regarding our President's meager list of accomplishments in the area of peace making.

Should Obama have won the Nobel Prize for Peace? No, the Christian Church should have, and this is what should concern us more. Rather than list our President's lack of accomplishment in the area of peace, why don't we look at ourselves and ask why we, the ambassadors of the Prince of Peace, are not known for our peacemaking? Why aren't we upset at our own failure to advocate peace in our world?

Is the Christian Church largely known for her strong support of peaceful non-violence? Or is she mostly seen standing on the side of those who wave the flag and support the torture of prisoners and defend war as a means to resolution of conflict?

What we should be most ashamed of is our own failure to embrace the message of peace. What we should be most outraged about is our failure to be ministers of reconciliation.

Perhaps Obama hasn't done enough to deserve recogition for bringing peace to this planet, but the Christian Church has done far less, and she has had much more opportunity and time to make a difference.


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Not Perfection, Just Obedience

I had a wonderful lunch meeting today with my friend Jim Belcher. Jim's book, "Deep Church" is the number one book on right now in the religion section. His book is an attempt to find a middle ground for the traditional and emerging christian church to dialog in civil tones.

Jim himself is an ambassador, and an embodiment, of such an idea. I met him a few months ago when he interviewed me and visited our house church family while he was writing his book. That first meeting at Starbucks (which he recounts briefly in his book) came at a time when I was at odds with some brothers in Christ who would not sit down with me and make peace. Here was Jim, a total stranger to me, and not only did he sit down and have coffee with me, he openly, and lovingly, disagreed with me on matters of ecclesiology. When we were done I had made a new friend and discovered a new brother in Christ after spending over an hour disagreeing on the very same issues that divided me with other men of faith.

The difference was that Jim honestly believed that he and I were brothers in Christ in spite of our differences on the practice of church. It was refreshing beyond belief to hear him say, "We may disagree on ecclesiology but we still serve the same Lord. We're still Family." I must confess I nearly burst into spontaneous tears when he said that.

Today over lunch Jim and I met again. He handed me an autographed copy of his book and, once more, we shared as brothers and rejoiced over the (mostly) peaceful dialog that God was creating through his book and the ideas represented. Although I haven't read the book I'm sure there are some things I agree with, and probably a handful of other things I disagree with, but that doesn't change the fact that Jim and I are still family. I love him as a brother and I left today's lunch meeting feeling that Jim felt the same.

Driving home after work I couldn't help but think further about the different ideas of church that Jim and I have. I'm in the process of putting the final touches on my own book about the church. In it, I am sure that there are many ideas that Jim would agree with, and probably more than a few ideas that he might disagree with. Still, there's room for open dialog and honest disagreement between member of the Family of God. Jim has wonderfully demonstrated this to me and this inspires me to do the same as I look towards the inevitable backlash my book might create.

One final thought: Our ecclesiology doesn't make us better people. One look at the New Testament will proove this. You can have the most New Testament model church since the one in Jerusalem and you will still have weak, foolish, selfish, broken people who need to be constantly immersed in the presence of Christ and daily in need of forgiveness and grace.

What our ecclesiology can do is to help us to be more like what Jesus intended His Church to embody- a family where He is the Lord, a body where He is he Head, and a temple where He is the center of everything.

At minimum we who are called by His name are commanded to be known by our love.
My hope is that God will continue to show us, especially me, how to love in truth and not just in word or tongue, especially when it comes to the household of faith.


Monday, October 05, 2009


My article is now up at Be sure to take a look and post your comments here if you like.

The article link is