Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Revolutionary Rules for Renegades (Part 2)

Read yesterday's post here before you read this.

So I’m trying to wrap my mind around this idea of ‘following’ God’s directives even when they don’t seem to make any sense whatsoever. In my recent life, I’ve wrestled with the idea of significance, having gone from a resource rich environment to planting a church that struggled early on. Through the process though, I’ve developed this idea that, in order to be successful I must be willing to be labile. While I’m adapting and changing, my purpose is becoming clearer. Like the lepers in Luke 17, I’ve often felt like I’m relegated to the fringes of culture (in the church world); trying to belong, trying to find my place, while all the while wanting to do something meaningful and significant.

In our story, Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem and just happened to be traveling on the border between Samaria and Galilee. These lepers found themselves at the same intersection at this most pivotal season of their lives. Nothing about the encounter was chance, though it may seem like it. But God never leaves the fulfillment of His purpose up to chance. As soon as they saw Jesus, they called out to Him and He responded with a directive, which they followed without hesitation (at least that’s the impression we get when we read the story). While they may have followed his directives without hesitation, I’m certain that they didn’t do it without wondering what exactly the point was. Again, I want to point out that their healing didn’t happen when they cried out to Jesus nor when He gave them a directive. It happened while they were on the way to show themselves to the priests in obedience to Jesus’ instructions. There have been countless days since we ‘birthed’ The Well that I’ve wanted to quit and find something less painful and less demanding to do. On my worst days, the isolation may well feel somewhat similar to what a leper might have felt, knowing that he was all alone and despised as insignificant and worthless to the larger society.

Those days provoke invidious reminders of the blissful innocence of a regular job in which I was judged only based on my performance during working hours as opposed to on every waking moment of my life. But then they were healed! I often wonder if this might be the day when I encounter Jesus along my intersection, and find answers to my myriad questions as I try to do what I believe He’s called me to do. You see, I know that Jesus loves the leper, the outsider, and the ones on the fringes of society who seem to be without hope. Amazingly, greater proof of this fact is found in what happens after they are cleansed. When I read the story, I’m most fascinated by the events following their healing. “One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him—and he was a Samaritan. (Luke 17: 15-16) Wow! The one who was an even bigger outsider than the others came back and thanked Jesus. He was not only a leper; he was a ‘Samaritan leper’. Watch what happened next. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then He said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17: 17-19)

What? Weren’t they made “well” on their way to see the priests? Apparently they were cleansed, but not made well. Whatever the difference between those two conditions may be, we know it’s significant enough that the Bible points out that ten lepers were cleansed but only one was made well because of his attitude of gratitude. I want to be thankful for all that Jesus has done and continues to do in and through me, even on my seemingly insignificant days when all I can feel is sorry for myself. I want to be thankful so that at my intersection, I’m not simply cleansed but also made well.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Revolutionary Rules for Renegades

I spent all of last week immersed in Los Angeles. On Monday and Tuesday I took part in the Mosaic Church Immersion. On Wednesday it was Origins and on Thursday and Friday it was Catalyst. It was an incredible week of learning, processing, changing and connecting. There were a number of really great speakers at the events but one of the guys (no pun intended) that impacted me the most was Guy Kawasaki. A self-described evangelist for Macs, he is one of the most innovative and brilliant people that I’ve ever met. I just wanted to tell you that, especially since I'm not actually talking about Guy today. Dave Gibbons, in his Origins session, asked the question, “How are we engaging the transition that’s currently affecting the world?”

He proceeded to highlight the fact that as Christ-followers we should see the major global transitions that are happening economically, socially and otherwise, as opportunities rather than stumbling blocks. He explained that many of the greatest miracles in life happen in transition. In Luke 17, Jesus was at the intersection of Galilee and Samaria when He encountered ten lepers who called out to Him for help. Jesus simply instructed them to go and show themselves to the priests. The priests were responsible for pronouncing lepers as unclean. These men were already outcasts from the larger community, living on the fringes of society, in a world without the caress of a human touch. They could have wondered at Jesus’ instructions, especially since they really wanted to be healed. “What good will showing ourselves to the priests do?” they may have reasoned.

Fortunately for them, rather than wonder they obeyed. They began to head towards wherever it was the priests were, not knowing for sure why they were going or what was going to happen. Here’s what the Scriptures record: “And as they went, they were cleansed.” (Luke 17: 14)

Wow! They were healed not when they cried out to Jesus, not when He instructed them to go to the priests, but when they got up and acted on His directives, as 'senseless' as they may have seemed under the circumstances. What if they’d decided not to go because the instructions didn’t exactly line up with their expectations? So what's my point? Wherever you are in your journey during this global transition, just start moving in the direction you’re persuaded God has called you to go, regardless of how ‘foolish’ that might look. What 'foolish' thing is God asking of you during this season that doesn't at all seem to make sense? We’ll pick up this idea again tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I'm Still Frosted!!!

I'm still frosted! Well, if I'm going to come back from hiatus so 'frosted' then maybe I shouldn't take these long blogging breaks you're thinking. Well you'd be frosted too if you kept reading the sort of stuff I read. In a recent article on we're introduced to 300 Afghani women peacefully protesting for their right to be heard. Their reward? A publicly sanctioned stoning. Yes you heard me! I said a stoning. Now are you frosted? Before you get your knickers in a twist, let me tell you what they were protesting about. Apparently there is a new law that's been sanctioned by the highest Afghani court of the land and it's binding on all Shiite Muslim women. The law proudly states that an Afghani man can demand sex from his wife every four days and she has no right whatsoever to deny him unless it would endanger her health. What? Now you're really frosted too huh? Well I'm not done. The law adds a codicil which simply states that no Afghani woman can leave the house alone, ever, without her husbands permission and his express approval of where she's going.

These are official laws on the books in Afghanistan (I think feminists should move to Afghanistan and set up their headquarters there so that they can really have something to fight about, but I digress...), and these 300 precious women were protesting these laws and asking for more humane consideration. The result: a crowd of thousands gathered round them and began to pelt them with small rocks!!! According to the article one of the men shouted out to a young 25 year old woman, "You are not a muslim woman, you are a dog." To which she didn't shout back but calmly responded, "This is my land and my people." Sadly, we live a world away from these realities and our world view is so insular when it comes to understanding the terrible plight of others. Many of us think the economic hardships that force us to consider downsizing our homes and driving smaller, pre-owned vehicles, is the most difficult thing to deal with, but we only think that because we don't have to worry about being stoned simply because we want to be treated fairly. It's amazing how a little dose of reality can quickly alter ones paradigm.
So, like I said earlier, I'm still frosted and so I'm motivated to pray for Afghanistan and especially for this "Gideon's Army" (band of 300 women) today. If being frosted would motivate you to pray too, then I invite you to join me and lets be frosted together. On a completely different note, I bet you can't think of any other article you've ever read that used the word frosted as many times as I did.

Monday, April 20, 2009

It Frosts Me!!!

Okay, I know I’ve lain low from blogging for a week so maybe that’s the reason. Or maybe it’s because I absolutely abhor the stereotype of women being ogled for their physical attributes. I’m sorry… I didn’t see you there! You probably have no clue what I’m talking about do you? Well, let me clue you in. I’m on a rant about the unconscionable happenings in the most recent Miss USA pageant. For the record allow me to state that I personally see no redeeming value in these types of voyeuristic events. An event that propagates the idea that ogling women while they’re wearing as skimpy a bikini as they can dare to get away with and still remain half-way decent, is, in my estimation a worthless venture that demeans the real value of women. But that’s not why I’m ‘frosted’ today. No, I’m frosted because of something that happened during the event.
Miss California was asked her opinion about legalizing same-sex marriages. Here’s how the news media reported her response:

“The tall blonde stumbled some before giving an answer that appeared to please the pageant audience.
"We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage," Prejean said. "And you know what, I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised."”

So Miss California, kudos to her, was bold enough not to tow the party-line, while honestly giving her opinion about a question she was asked. Case closed right? Wrong! Read on from the media:

“Some in the audience cheered, others booed. The answer sparked a shouting match in the lobby after the show.
"It's ugly," said Scott Ihrig, a gay man, who attended the pageant with his partner. "I think it's ridiculous that she got first runner-up. That is not the value of 95 percent of the people in this audience. Look around this audience and tell me how many gay men there are."”

What exactly did Scott want her to say? I know, don’t answer that. What he wanted was for her to deny what she believes simply because it differs from what he believes, right? As much as I despise the concept, isn’t the idea of a beauty pageant just that, as opposed to a winner based on personal convictions about controversial subjects? How does Scott conclude that she doesn’t deserve “first runner-up” simply because of her convictions about gay-marriages? Besides, when did Scott become the authority for reporting empirical truth? 95 percent of the people in the audience don’t share Miss California’s values? At what point did Scott conduct the poll that determined that decidedly authoritative percentage? Did Scott “look around the audience” and tell us “how many gay men there [were] are”?

These baseless, brainless, and obnoxious diatribes serve no useful purpose (just like the pageants themselves), but, if we are going to ask questions of the women parading themselves before the world so that the world can determine who the most beautiful one is, then we must at least be willing to live with their answers whether they fit our stereotype and political ideology or not? There. I’m done. Now it’s your turn.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Hey guys, I know you've probably already figured this out based on my sporadic posting over the last week or so, but I've decided to take a much needed blogging break as so much else is going on around me right now. I'll begin blogging again next week Monday from the Catalyst event in Los Angeles. See you then and stay tuned for some 'meaty' stuff. Thanks for being a part of the conversation.

Friday, April 10, 2009


I absolutely love pastoring The Well! It is often the most rewarding feeling in the world, to see a life transformed, or to discover that what you do actually makes a significant difference in the direction people take in their lives. At other times it is entirely more challenging than I imagined possible and it seems as if every Monday brings a new opportunity to quit. Yes, you heard me, I said quit! I’ve quit a thousand times, it’s just that I never told anyone.

In speaking to pastors across the country I’ve come to accept that one of the perpetual hazards of ministry is worrying about who turns up on Sundays. As we approach Resurrection Sunday (one of the most well attended services of the year) many of us spend time, money, and energy preparing posters, programs, and passionate messages, all geared towards getting non-church-going people to attend our services. This is all well and good, but I’ve discovered that often times the expectations that are hinged upon the turnout for this single service, are often met with disappointment, and we miss a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the people who do turn up.

So to quote Gene Simmons… yes, you heard me, I said Gene Simmons of KISS fame, when asked what they were doing to get people to attend their concerts, declared: “We're not here for the people that aren't here; we're here for the people who are.” So, much as I’d love to see a ‘bumper’ attendance on Sunday, I’m firmly committed to ensuring that our service will be geared toward, and will make a significant impact on the people who do attend. Oh yeah, have a fantastic Easter and an amazing Resurrection Sunday service, and remember that Jesus paid the ultimate price just so He could hang out with you! And if you’re in the neighborhood, do stop by, as we’d love to ‘break bread’ with you. See you next week.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Can you believe your eyes?

All right all you Snopes specialists, I've got one for you. Is this photograph real or 'Photoshopped'? Go on get to work, what are you waiting for? :)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Frivolous Friday! (on Saturday)

Hey guys, I came up with an ingenious idea for Frivolous Friday this weekend. I decided that you should be the ones to caption the photos. I will pick the winning captions (Yes, since it's my blog, I get to decide the winning captions) and post them. The winner will receive a... well I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you. You know the drill right?!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Showers bring... NFL Football?

Ahh, April! The smell of fresh flowers (I live in Florida, they bloom early), the constant nagging irritation of allergies, all the reminders that Spring has sprung... and the NFL draft!!! Yep, don't forget the NFL draft. Football junkies are holding on for dear life in an attempt to drain the last vestiges of anything football until August and the NFL pre-season. April is undoubtedly the best sports month of the year. I was recently invited to write an article about the best sports month of the year, over at Bleacher sports, so I won't be redundant and repeat it here. I invite you to go here and check it out.