Showing posts from June, 2015

It Won't Make a Difference

California is experiencing a drought. Other states have massive flooding and plenty of water but this heathen and overcrowded paradise is as dry as a bone. Our grass is brown, and there is more chardonnay than H2O around these parts. And we have been in the drought so long I am noticing that we have become rain cynics. Even when the heavens open and sprinkles dampen the ground, we doubt it will make a dent in our problem... we won't find a fix until we drain Oregon (and trust me, we will.) Today we had some brief thunderstorms in San Diego County. Lightening, Thunder and strong rain. I was transported back to the Midwest on a muggy summer night... The rain was so heavy that cars were pulling to the side of the road for safety and people were running for cover into building rather than get drenched. As the rain poured down, two guys sitting near me mentioned that "it won't make a difference." This rain, however torrential, will not end our drought. And they are right,


If you are looking for an example of letting your identity in Christ inform your community life pick up Jeff Vanderstelt's first crack at book writing, Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life . Vanderstelt, the long-time sherpa of Soma Tacoma (a church movement based on missional communities) and now pastor of one of the former Mars Hill churches, has brought the values of Soma, of life-on-life discipleship to memoir form and you will be encouraged to write your own chapter in the story. For many church leaders and those longing for something deeper than mere participation on Sundays and the occasional Bible study group, the missional community framework given in Saturate will be a breath of fresh air and a good starting point for reimagining existing small group ministries. Not only does Vanderstelt rightly see the biblical call of discipleship missing from much of Evangelicalism, but he presents a solution, Christians living on mission in their neighbo

I will have more to say when I am older...

I think for pastors there are distinct seasons of life and ministry. You start with what I call the "genius" stage. You know it all, and everyone else is stupid. Then you move into the "humbled rookie" stage where you come face to face with your own incompetence (which is not bad if it forces you to rely on Jesus). From there, you land in the "getting it" stage. You know your gifts and expertise, and those of others which you openly rely on. Then you land in the "sage" stage. Ready to softly encourage the next generation with you experiential and educational wisdom. You are slow to criticize and quick to see the value in others. Then you die. As a 37-year-old pastor who has been in vocational ministry for five years and a lead pastor for 8 months, I can confirm that I am in the humbled rookie stage. Being humbled day after day by what I don't know and little I feel like I add the to "conversation" My hope is that I will have more to

Can't Find a Moment's Peace

My study/office is in my garage. A Southern California garage, in Escondido, just far enough from the beach to be hot. So in the afternoons I need to find an air-conditioned space to crank out work, unless I want to sweat profusely and fall asleep. That is the case today. I left the house after lunch to find a spot to finish up this week's sermon and the usual safe spot at the public library in the neighborhood where the church meets was a madhouse. School is out for summer and there was not a table open where focus might be found. Off to the next stop. Just as crazy. My level of frustration and anxiety about finishing my work so I can enjoy the weekend are increasing by the moment. Then I land at my neighborhood Starbuck's. Great window seat with a tall table to watch traffic go by and finish this sermon on God making his enemies friends through the work of Jesus. I open the MacBook and read over my notes... and the ladies next to me strategize their next home-schooling year,

What We are Filled With

This past Sunday I preached on Romans 5:1-5. It is a glorious text that reveals the blissful consequences of justification by faith. For those justified, we are at peace with God, we have grace to live and joy in all seasons of life by the Spirit. Listen to the sermon here . In the closing portion of the sermon I focused on how we have joy in life and suffering - by being filled by the Spirit. That it is the Spirit's work to equip us for joy by filling us. This is verse five: "and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." As I was reflecting on the sermon, and on at least one conversation after it about being filled by or with the Spirit more than once, I  want to make clear, from this text what it is we are filled with by the Spirit. While there are plenty of Scriptures that describe or encourage ongoing and new filling of the Spirit himself, here the Spirit is pouring into our


A few days ago the family was watching television when an ad for some new omega-3 pill came on. It was a run of the mill 'your heart needs this stuff' commercial but what stood out was that they promised "no fishburps!" I am not a consumer of fish oil pills but I understand that one side effect of taking these pills is the likelihood of burping a fishy flavor. It's like eating a bad fish special at the local diner and regretting it later, without the actual eating or local diner. So we can all imagine how fishburps are less than desirable. It just seemed funny using it as a marketing pitch. The fishburps also had me thinking about having something inside of us that comes out when least expected. What we put in the body will inform what comes out. Shift beyond foodstuffs and think of the truth of it pertaining to other things. Jesus gives us the spiritual reality of this when he teaches that "for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks" (Luke 6

Singing a New Song

" Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him." Psalm 98:1 To worship in response to the marvelous things that God has done. The ultimate thing is the salvation that is gift through the work of Christ and his grace extends into all corners of our lives. Notice the Psalmist invites you to a new song. Maybe our song changes as we realize God is doing a new work among us. I really feel like this is where the church I am part of is at. We have come through a difficult year of transition and shifts of leadership. Somehow, and for some reason, God worked in the middle of all of it. To keep a church family together, to call those merely involved into leadership, and to set a new course for a gospel-proclaiming congregation. Yesterday we had a celebration in a local park to worship and declare God's faithfulness to us. We sang loud, encouraged each other and even had a random guest speak truth t

A Van Full of Hooligans

This morning I was reminded that six years ago today, I was in North Carolina with a group of friends for the Advance the Church conference. The group of guys had been meeting on occasion to discuss life and theology. All of us part of the same church but each with their own unique bag of theological tricks. (Most of these guys would become the "Cabal," our group of 7 sharing pints and pontificating). For me I remember the trip as pivotal in my continued discovery of the doctrine of grace. I brought Grudem's Biblical Doctrine to read in the church van on the drive down from D.C. (I think I read one paragraph on the whole trip). Every inch of that trip was full of discussion of faith and ministry. By then I had been listening to Keller sermons and reading Packer and others but it was the first time I heard Piper, Chandler, Greear, Stetzer and Driscoll preach live. And their calls to gospel-drenched ministry was invigorating. It confirmed what I knew I was missing. It woul

Preaching with Patience

My latest post on For The Church is live. Check it out . If you have ever wondered why I determined to keep preaching the gospel... this will give you insight.