Showing posts from May, 2020

Living with Breath

Many of us are waking up numb after a weekend of watching the festering wound in our nation pour out its infection. We need change. We need a move of God. We need Pentecost again. I have long appreciated the preaching of Chicago pastor Charlie Dates. Yesterday's sermon "I Can't Breathe" is an important one. It helps us see our theological errors when it comes to image bearing. Give it a watch and ask for the wind of the Spirit to give all of us breath.

Face to Face

I am thankful for the letters of the Apostle John in the Bible. To me they serve as permission to be brief but weighty in communication. But in the wake of this pandemic, John's concluding line in his second letter laid bare my heart. " Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete ." 2 John 12 (ESV) I have much to say to those I pastor, and man have I tried using the paper and ink of our day. But I long for face to face. It is what we were meant for. Without a doubt. And thank God we are in the beginning stages of gathering as the church again. Even with this desire, the hunger for the complete joy we find in community, I don't think John would encourage us to be reckless about it. As a whole I don't think Scripture would either. So I won't infringe on the conscience of others with my claim of my own rights, I will be patient as we get toward the d

Facing the Future with an Eye to the Past

Stay-at-home orders are being adjusted and the usual places in our lives are opening again. In California, depending on which county you live in, you can even get a haircut (which does not excite me one bit). As we engage and move into our new future, it might be helpful to keep an eye on the past. Memorial Day was a good reminder of this. One of my dear friends posted a meme on Facebook with two beach scenes, one crowded with revelers the other a war zone. The text read: your day at the beach brought to you by their death on the beach. It is a good reminder, in the U.S. at least, we enjoy freedoms because they have been routinely secured by the ultimate sacrifice of others. If only we used our "freedom" for more than revelry! Shifting gears to think about how this relates to the church. In California, again depending on your county, churches are now able to meet in person with restrictive guidelines. You can't engage in wild revelry but you can gather around the word in


I am convinced that the pastoral vocation is not one of mandating behaviors or ordering people to live in a certain way (how great would that be?!) but rather inviting those you shepherd into the life of faith. To living from the grace of Christ, in a vastly different way than our prevailing culture. To sacrifice, valuing others, experiencing the presence of Christ among other things. Revealing your life as persuasion for others to join the Jesus way. From this realization and alignment then I have been thinking today about what it means to move forward, into a new sense of life, instead of "getting back to normal." Normal wasn't working. It was riddled with anxiety and the glossing over of the ills of society, as long as I got mine who cared. Even faith too often served as an accessory versus a priority. But what comes next doesn't have to look or act the same as before. We have the opportunity to be formed by this moment for what's next, for great moves of God i

Other-Oriented Community

At Reservoir Church, the church I help lead in Escondido, we have been working through our Leadership Track as a cohort of elders and happen to be currently setting out a vision for the church as guided by the book Creative Minority . It is a short little book packed full with deep wisdom on what it could mean for the church to live for renewal of the people around it. Written by Jon Tyson and Heather Grizzle it has served as a pamphlet for me to give out anytime someone asks what our vision is for the church. Today I was struck by this quote in the chapter on covenantal community: "We live in a relational moment where the needs of the individual have completely eclipsed the concerns of a larger community. The choice architecture of our entire lives exists to facilitate individualism and rather than articulating an alternative vision, the church has embraced this value. We speak primarily of a "personal relationship with God" as the fundamental goal of faith. There is no

Putting Down the Pipe

A few weeks ago in a sermon I mentioned my grandfather and the smell of his tobacco pipe. I used it as an illustration of how you could tell you had been with Jesus, you smelled like him, just like you might if you were around my grandfather when he was smoking a pipe. My mother reminded me afterward how my grandfather had given up his pipe out of care for his wife, my grandmother. She developed a morning cough and thinking it might be from the pipe my grandfather gave up smoking. He sacrificed something he enjoyed out of love, willingly giving up to protect someone else. Since my mom recounted this fact to me I haven't been able to get it out of mind and I think it is such a timely example. In fact during this moment in history we are want for those that would willingly sacrifice for others. We see it in medical professionals and other frontline workers, the ones fearlessly doing the work. But the voices we hear with increasing volume are those that are done with sacrifice and wou

Analog Church Maybe Now More Than Ever

Hours each week have been added to my regular work flow all to manage the digital aspects of church life. There is the usual study, and writing of a sermon, but instead of delivering it before a full room of people I love dearly, it is delivered before a camera in an empty room. If you are like me, you are aching to get back into regular rhythms of gathering as believers, to sing together, takes communion, hug one another. I haven't encountered many people that would like the church to stay virtual... but alas, our "normal" was driving toward a consumption of spiritual enterprise that advocated for digital, fast, and efficient. Into that world Jay Kim presented his book, Analog Church: Why We Need Real People, Places, and Things in the Digital Age. The book is a gift to the church. From the heart of Silicon Valley comes a call to set aside many of the tools that have changed our lives to experience presence, rootedness, and the vibrant humanity of the church. I picked a f

The Immediacy Of Our Moment

I enjoy occasionally reading history. Encountering just how our predecessors lived and pursued their dreams or avoided their nightmares. In contrast to our experience today, what always stands out is the lack of immediacy historically. Letters from family would take weeks to be delivered. Journeys across seas would take months. Snap decisions appear rare. Meals took longer and the way of life was slow. Historically, for a long time in the story of humanity, slowness dominates. The age we dwell in now is quite different. We expect immediacy. Food is fast. Letters arrive instantaneously. Crossing oceans takes hours not months. Order something from one side of the world and you can usually receive it within two days. I was struck by this over the weekend waiting for someone to respond to a text message and conversely, waiting to replay to someone else's text. I am thankful for the immediacy of our moment, most of the time. When I want a quick response or book from a thrift store in Te

New Resource for Pastors and People

Reservoir Church, the body of Jesus people I help lead, is part of a global movement of churches called Advance which exist to plant and strengthen churches. The network is led by PJ Smyth, pastor  of Monument Church in the greater Washington, D.C. area. I have a great deal of respect for PJ and have been served by his kind and humble leadership. Each interaction leaves me more confident in our decision to link arms with Advance. PJ has just launched a new website as a resource for leaders and believers alike. He has recent posts on preaching to a camera (who doesn't need help here in times like these.) He also has some keen reflections on miracles, heaven and other topics along with sermons. You will want to add his site to your list of helpful resources.