Archive for the ‘Loose Ends’ Category

Behavioral Modification

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

This 2009 video called “the dreaded stairs” demonstrates how easy it often can be to modify our behavior — and fun.

Peace, Good Will Toward Men

Friday, December 24th, 2010

Pease, Good Will Toward Men

Giving Thanks

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Giving Thanks

Diversity of Faith in Various U.S. Cities

Monday, October 11th, 2010

The Barna Group notes that “there is little debate that most Americans are faith-oriented people. Yet how does spirituality and religion differ from one city to the next?” They decided to find out and released some of the results today.

I’m not sure what conclusions one might draw from the survey results, but here are some snippets of their findings:

The lowest share of self-identified Christians inhabited the following markets: San Francisco (68%), Portland, Oregon (71%), Portland, Maine (72%), Seattle (73%), Sacramento (73%), New York (73%), San Diego (75%), Los Angeles (75%), Boston (76%), Phoenix (78%), Miami (78%), Las Vegas (78%), and Denver (78%).

The markets with the largest share of unchurched adults included San Francisco (44% of whom had not been to a religious worship service in the last six months), Portland, Maine (43%), Portland, Oregon (42%), Albany (42%), Boston (40%), Sacramento (40%), Seattle (40%), Spokane (39%), New York (38%), Phoenix (38%), Tucson (37%), and West Palm Beach (37%).

One of the underlying stories is the remarkably resilient and mainstream nature of Christianity in America. Nearly three out of four people call themselves Christians, even among the least ‘Christianized’ cities. Furthermore, a majority of U.S. residents, regardless of location, engage in a church at some level in a typical six-month period.

You can read more here.

Missional Marketing

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

How’s this for an inherent contradiction between the terms; an oxymoron if I ever saw one:

Missional Marketing is a ministry and non-profit focused marketing / pr firm. Our goal is to assist our clients to accomplish their mission through marketing, public relations, graphic design and strategy. Our toolbox is a diverse mix of traditional methods, intermixed with Web 2.0 tactics, new media and sometimes off-the-wall concepts. We have a track record of solid results and would be interested in learning how Missional Marketing can assist your organization to realize your mission. (http://www.missionalmarketing.com/)

Not to be outdone, Premier Studios exists “to help missional brands tell their stories and connect with their audiences in compelling, authentic ways that change lives — and ultimately the world. (http://www.premierstudios.com/About.aspx)

It’s obvious neither company has a clue.

On Politics and Political Positions

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

As a result of the U.S. healthcare debate and vote, there has been a lot of Jesus follower jumping in on one side or the other of the issue. Although I disagree with Greg Boyd on a number of topics, I believe he captures the heart of what our view towards politics and political positions should be.

The political system will always try to lure us into believing that our particular way of doing politics is the ‘Christian’ way and tempt us into placing our trust in (what we think is) the wisdom and righteousness of our political positions rather than in the power of self-sacrificial love.

When Christians begin to think this way, it inevitably divides the church, since the ambiguity of politics is such that on most issues, good and decent people can and do disagree. If I naively pronounce that my views are the ‘Christian’ views, then your views must be judged to be ‘un-Christian’ if they disagree with me. This is arrogant and naive. It’s also unbiblical. Jesus called both Matthew, a tax collector, and Simon, a Zealot, to be his disciples. Tax collectors and zealots were at opposite sides of the political spectrum in the first century. Yet we don’t read a word in the Gospels about whose views Jesus thought were most correct, for the Kingdom he came to establish is “not of this world” (Jn. 18:36).

Even more importantly, when followers of Jesus get co-opted by the political system it distracts us from the Kingdom work we’re called to do. To the extent that we place our trust in exercising power over others, we stop trusting our mandate to exercise power under others through sacrificial service. Paul warns us not to get too involved in the affairs of the world, including its politics, but to always focus on pleasing our commander (2 Tim. 2:4)…. We who follow Jesus must always remember we belong to a radically different country with a radically different King who offers radically different solutions to the problems of life. We are missionaries in whatever earthly kingdom we happen to find ourselves in. We are citizens of heaven before we’re citizens of any earthly kingdom (Phil. 3:20).

My prayer is that as followers of Jesus our discussion around the healthcare issue or any political dialogue will be tempered by what Mr. Boyd shares.

Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

One of the classic, if not the classic, peace movement song was written in 1950 by American-born Canadian folksinger Ed McCurdy. The song was popularized by many folk singers and became the anthem of the 60’s and 70’s.

CashJohnny Cash does a haunting rendition on his American VI album, which was posthumous released on February 23, 2010. Here are the lyrics to, Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream.

Last night I had the strangest dream
I’d ever dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war

I dreamed I saw a mighty room
The room was filled with men
And the paper they were signing said
They’d never fight again

And when the paper was all signed
And a million copies made
They all joined hands and bowed their heads
And grateful pray’rs were prayed

And the people in the streets below
Were dancing ’round and ’round
While swords and guns and uniforms
Were scattered to the ground

Last night I had the strangest dream
I’d never dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war.

And don’t miss the title track, Ain’t No Grave (Can Hold My Body Down), of this last Cash album. Stirring, emotive and poignant.

Others — A Poem

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

“Others”
By Charles D. Meigs (written sometime between 1890 and 1902)

Lord help me live from day to day
In such a self-forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray
My prayer shall be for – Others.

Help me in all the work I do
To ever be sincere and true
And know that all I do for you
Must needs be done for – Others.

Let “Self” be crucified and slain
And buried deep; and all in vain
May efforts be to rise again
Unless to live for – Others.

And when my work on earth is done
And my new work in heaven’s begun
May I forget the crown I’ve won
While thinking still of – Others.

Others, Lord, yes others
Let this my motto be
Help me to live for others
That I may live like Thee.

9Marks on Missional

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Jonathan Leeman, Director of Communications for 9Marks, just wrote an article titled, “Is the God of the Missional Gospel Too Small?” In this article Jonathan challenges us to consider four reasons why he thinks the missional conversation is leading to an ill-conceived emphasis on social justice which is “but a first step toward a new liberalism.” Fair enough.

I was looking forward to an enlighten read, but that’s not what I found. The problem is that what Jonathan has written is poorly documented and appears to be a self-serving piece pushing a specific theological perspective which does little to enlighten us. His allegations are only supported by vague statements like:

“More and more evangelical and missional leaders have begun to characterize the gospel…as a ‘small gospel.’”

What leaders? Who are they and where did they say it?

“One recent nearly 600 page book on the mission of God contains only one index entry on hell.”

What is the title of this book? Was a discussion of hell relevant to the subject matter being covered by the book? Did a thought leader within the missional conversation even write the book?

“It’s almost as if non-Christians aren’t really lost, blind, enslaved, and dead in their sin. They’re just misguided or oppressed. They don’t need the Holy Spirit to create them anew;”

Where has any mainstream missional thought leader said such a thing? I don’t think you would find Ed Stetzer, Tim Keller, Alan Hirsch, Michael Frost, Darrell Guder, or Lesslie Newbigin making such a statement.

Come on Jonathan, if you are going to pontificate, you have to document your points–which may be perfectly valid, but who can tell?

Added 01/22/2010: Some addition perspective on “A Growing Divide? 9 Marks and Missional.”

Added 01/25/2010: Also see, “Missing the Missional Mark.”

Added 01/26/2010: Also on the subject is, “You Might Not Be Missional….”

Added 01/27/2010: Others continue to post on the issue including, “The Missional Slope, or Should Have Linked to Kinnon.”

Added 01/29/2010: And, “Losing the Plot.”

The Missional Conversation Misused

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

In many cases missional is misunderstood to be simply a new language to describe things church leaders have already been saying and the church has been doing for quite a while. This makes people suspicious of missional language, causing them to assume it’s just another trendy word. So even with clear and precise definitions, we are still seeing the missional conversation misused and turned into new language for existing forms of church. This can result in people investing lots of energy into missional models only to be disappointed not too far down the road because they have been taken on a path that holds little promise of joining with the Spirit who makes all things new. —Alan J. Roxburgh and M. Scott Boren, “Introducing the Missional Church,” Baker Books, 2009, page 34.