Monday, September 29, 2008

Thoughts on The Finacial Crisis I Had Absolutely No Desire to Blog About

Ya ya ya...everyones talking about it. I really had no desire to blog about it. But my apathy has been cured once again. Now please, take less then 2 minutes to hear a voice of wisdom cut through all the fluff:

As always, Ron Paul is the silenced voice that so desperately needs to be heard. You can hear the calm frustration in his voice, aged with decades of wisdom. You want change? You want hope? You want progress? Listen to the guy who has a lifetime of pent up change waiting to burst forth.

I know he withdrew from the presidential race, but the revolution continues at every level of politics all across America! I encourage you to sign up at

A Mature Church

I just received this from Troy in Dallas at Watermark who I was connected to through Duke at Lodgepole Fellowship who I met through Milan at Compassion Connect...and it was worth every last drop of networking effort:
"Three days ago I was asked….” What is the mature church?”

I knew immediately how I would respond: "The 'mature church' is the church filled with immaturity."

Anywhere in the world, whether plant or animal, the clear delineation of maturity is the ability to reproduce. Immature animals can't reproduce. Immature plants can't replicate themselves. The definition of maturity is being fully ripe, fully aged, so the connotation of maturity is obvious. Where you see maturity you'll observe new life, babies and immaturity all over the place.

Maturity desires reproduction. Maturity tolerates juvenile behavior (from juveniles) while training its progeny for success in life. Maturity means little [babies] running all over the place.

If you attend a mature church, be prepared for immaturity. Where you find mature Christians you'll find little babes in Christ running all over the place. In fact, if you have been looking for a church where everyone tithes and everyone serves--you're not looking for a mature church, you are looking for a dying church - aged, impotent and bereft of spiritual newborns because everyone is mature.

Few things are more disturbing than a flock of adult believers standing around complaining that no one has come to Christ while refusing to do something that might result in new life. So when you bump into someone who acts immature at one of our services, don't complain, and don't be surprised. Instead, thank God the mature in Christ are busy delivering newborn babies to the family of God."

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I was just reminiscing of a bygone era with my good friend Nathan. Here is the first song I ever downloaded on Napster:

Flower by Moby.

What about you?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Blue Parakeet Has Landed

I was pleasantly surprised to arrive home from the School of Theology and find my advance reader copy of The Blue Parakeet waiting for me.

The book by Scot McKnight (of the Jesus Creed blog) is on a topic that was given much attention this last week - how do we read our Bible?

After spending a week with the likes of John MacMurray and Donald Miller I know rethinking how I read my Bible starts with asking why and what a lot more.

I plan to blog through the book in a short series of posts over the next week.

Monday, September 22, 2008

School of Theology: Roundup

Here is a compiled list of each of the sessions covered at Good Shepherd's summer 2008 School of Theology:

Paul Metzger (Consumerism, Race, Class)
Donald Miller 1 (Christian World View, Story)
Donald Miller 2 (Christian World View, Story)
Donald Miller 3 (Enneagram Personality Types)
John MacMurray 1 (Knowing God, John 17)
John MacMurray 2 (Knowing God)
John MacMurray 3 (Wrong Turns in Interpretation)
John MacMurray 4 (Wrong Turns in Interpretation)
John MacMurray 5 (Wrong Turns in Interpretation)
John MacMurray 6 (Wrong Turns in Interpretation)
Rick McKinley 1 (Mission Philosophy)
Rick McKinley 2 (Kingdom)
Rick McKinley 3 (Kingdom)
Rick McKinley 4 (Kingdom)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

School of Theology: John MacMurray 6

Rick is off, John is finishing up "Wrong Turns in Interpretation"

1 was covered in John's Session 3
2 - 7 and 9 in Session 5

8. Reading the Bible devotionally.
  • Priority is looking for practical meaning for me.
  • Often the search for the author's meaning is abandoned by ignoring the flow of thought. Thus my meaning becomes what I live by, not God's meaning.
It just becomes about word association, and shaping our understanding with our own emotions, experiences, and worldly understanding. What is unique about Scripture when you can do this with any piece of literature?

You can pull out any piece of literature and apply it to your life. Times magazine, Shakespeare, even something immoral. It can speak to your intellect, emotions, etc. and make just as good of a sermon. You can do this with Scripture, but is this what it was meant for.

If teachers present the Bible devotionally, and that's not what is was meant for, we will be held accountable.

Not, what does it mean to me, what is it saying in the first place. We risk abandoning what God is trying to say in the first place.

9. Reading the Bible as a magic book.
  • Words and context are replaced with a search for a word or situation that resembles something familiar so that I can find God's answer for my situation.
  • God magically speaks to me answering my questions, solving my problems, and meeting my needs regardless of what the text is actually saying
We are dealing with the things of God in mans communication. It is mystical.

"God speaks to me and tells me how to live my life". They are seeking intimacy, don't have it, and this brings intimacy.

School of Theology: Rick McKinley 4

Matthew 16
  • This is not a study in systematic theology, it's what they are doing, living.
  • verse 13-20, the Church is given the keys, a unique relationship with the Kingdom
Church & Kingdom
1. Kingdom Identity - The Church is the earthly outpost of Jesus' uncontested reign. Unopposed headship.
2. Kingdom Vocation - Creatively imagining together what the kingdom can look like in our community.
3. Kingdom Destiny - The gates of hell will not prevail! Displaying what will happen forever.

Charity says we need each other because I am rich and need to feel better and you need this sandwich.

Kingdom says we are equal value, relational.

What are the satanic strategies to fight the church:
1. To make the church think they are fighting flesh and blood (so we make an excuse with meaningless forms of measurement, why fight to blot out poverty because they will always be with us.)
2. Deceive us into thinking that the kingdom is not here.
3. Get us to separate Jesus from the Kingdom (this happens at most bible studies. We study the Bible to learn about Jesus.)
4. To get the leaders of the church to think that is the kingdom
5. Get people to justify ignoring the values of the kingdom for spiritual reasons. ("all those liberals out there doing social justice", getting us to swing one side or another.)
6. Get them to focus on building the church instead of being The Church.

The goal is not to become more structured, it's to become disciples.

Are we willing to let go of our need to produce and help God?

Friday, September 19, 2008

School of Theology: Rick McKinley 3

Jumping back in it after an intense tennis match with Sean and some beautiful canoing on the Deschutes.

Matthew 13
  • As the Kingdom of Heaven is announced, Satan is trying to fight that message coming out.
Parable of Weeds
  • Currently, in the Kingdom there are weeds, placed by the enemy. Satan has a legitimate strategy to sprinkle weeds in the wheat of the Church.
Mustard Seed
  • Jesus Kingdom is breaking into this world for all of creation not without opposition.
  • Subversively seeping into all of the world.
  • For the 12 disciples hearing Jesus looking 2000 years in the future, Christianity really has spread pretty profoundly.
  • Spread seeds in a dentist office, what would you expect? Nothing beautiful (or anything at all for that matter) grows in a sterile environment.
  • Out of soil that is surrounded by decay, manure, and death; life breaks forth. This is where the Kingdom shows up. Culture is necessary. You can't dump bleach on the garden. you can't retreat or scrub and make sterile (critique or copy don't work)
Parable of the Hidden Treasure and The Pearl
  • Already occured
  • Is it out of obligation or because it's correct that we respond to the Kingdom?
  • He is compelled. Christians treasure Christ above all else.
Parable of the Net
  • Net yet.
  • It's not our place to decide who's weed and wheat. We don't do the reaping.
The kingdom is the greatest treasure, bring us the most profound join, is worth everything we have, and already existing with in this already/not-yet battle.

Tomorrow we'll hit Matthew 16 and where The Church is in this whole Kingdom deal.

School of Theology: John MacMurray 5

JMac is picking back up with "Wrong Turns in Interpretation".

If you missed the first point discussed in length; John MacMurray 3.

2. Searching textual strata for meaning and ignoring textual strategy. (Compositional approach)
  • Emphasis on the detail without knowing the flow of thought the detail is being presented in. This is also known as the issue of "structural context"
If we are told something at the beginning of the story, it needs to be there because it shapes your understanding of subsequent events.

In Matthew he defines Jesus proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom before the sermon the the mount. You understand, this is the Kingdom at hand.

3. Reading the Bible as an academic book only.
  • The Bible is a great piece of literature and nothing more.
  • The contents are nothing more than information to be processed.
  • This ignores the purpose of the Scriptures and lacks passion/intimacy with God.
4. Read the Bible through 21st century glasses.
  • I ask it questions it wasn't designed to answer.
  • I read from a modern culture viewpoint.
  • I read ancient literature as hough it is modern literature.
It doesn't tell you what car to buy. The Bible teaches you a way of wisdom. It teaches you how to think, how to live, how to feel.

5. Reading the Bible as a formulaic or self help book. (prescriptive vs. descriptive)
  • My objective is to find out how to be a better me.
  • We reduce God's Word to a giant recipe book for different issues in life.
Why when we read the Bible do we not build an ark?

When Luke wrote Acts was he trying to make 13 points on how to do missions?

6. Reading the Bible as a history book.
  • The OT is simply a history of Israel that may have some interesting stories and characters but has little that relates to the 21st century.
The OT contains historical events, but is not the point.

7. Reading the Bible as an informational guidebook for life. (prescriptive vs. descriptive)
  • A situational how to manual.
  • The major goal is to copy what was done or said, thinking this will result in blessing.
  • Reduces narrative just to character studies.
Danger of reading it for a desired end that it really may not have.

The Bible addresses the question of why far more then how.

8. and 9. will be covering these in a separate session. We're running up on lunch time.

10. Spiritualizing or allegorizing a text.
  • We ignore the authors' intention altogether.
Augustine read Scripture this way.

The danger is no way of knowing whose way is the correct way.

God used humans, using human language, to communicate to humans.

School of Theology: Rick McKinley 2

Next 4 sessions with Rick will be on "Kingdom"

This Beautiful Mess. A more entertaining simpler book on what we will be studying.

The Gospel of the Kingdom is Jesus primary message. We don't understand "kingdom in America". Most of the disciples were killed because they called Jesus King, it was a threat to the empire. If something about being Christian threatened the economy, we would be in trouble.

Matthew 4
  • Is the offer of these temptations legitimate? Yes. Then Satan has a legitimate reign.
  • What is the nature of all the temptations? They are changing how he is going about his mission, not the mission itself.
  • This is a clash of kingdoms taking place.
  • Satan usurps Adam's rule of creations (not directly stated, but an assumption).
  • The temptations is not to get him off his mission, it's to get him to do his mission under the reign of Satan easier.
  • Temptations: Meet your own needs, use performance and power, and to get what you want to get without the cross.
  • If Jesus had submitted, in the immediacy of our everyday life the world would be a better place.
  • If it's flash in the pan, money, power, pragmatism; often times we buy into using them without discernment.
  • It's not just the mission of the church being accomplished, but how we accomplish it.
  • The reign of the Kingdom of Heaven is more important then the temporal evil of the earth. There is a reason for the God of sovereignty to allow this underling to rule on earth.
  • The Gospel is not about immediate gratification at all. On the contrary it's preparing us to endure and persevere for a better world to come ad is breaking in.
  • Jesus is UNMARKETABLE.
  • What is dark about the temptations? It is challenging God's good and right way.
  • Matthew you is writing to show that Jesus is king.
  • What can we expect as this Jesus brings his Kingdom to bear on earth? It will not look familiar to us. If Jesus had succumbed we never even would have thought twice, it's what we all want and expect.
  • The Kingdom of God is completely subversive.
  • Verse 17; Repentance is the key to the kingdom. It's assuming we are going the wrong direction. Turn around.
  • Kingdom allegiance. Kingdom ethics. Kingdom economy. "Keep your hand on the wheel because we are making a big turn".
  • Definition; Gospel of the Kingdom: It is the good news of God's reign which is breaking into this world (already not-yet) through the death, resurrection, and the reign of Jesus Christ initiating a process of the restoration of all creation and forming Christ in those who are the Kings own (new creations) culminating with all things being made new so that it will be on earth as it is in heaven.
  • This is the Gospel of Jesus, not the Gospel about Jesus.
Matthew 5,6
  • Beatitudes; Jesus takes all of the "zeros" of Satan's world order and says you fit perfectly in the upside-down subversive Kingdom.
  • The Beatitudes lay out the economy of the Kingdom.
  • Goes on to lay out kingdom ethics. Calling someone a fool is murder. Looking lustfully at a woman is adultery. It's not eye for eye, it's turn the other cheek. Spirituality isn't for show. In regard to wealth, you cannot serve to masters and money is for storing up treasures in heaven.
  • In contrast to the Kingdom economy and ethics the world order looks like in complete chaos and out of control.
  • 6:33; "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." This is salvation.
  • People who live in this upside down world will suffer and be persecuted (It's threatening. This is an assault on the kingdom of this world; military, economic, cultural power).
  • Kingdom view expands experience of spirituality. Every aspect of life and creation.
  • Scripture never talks about building or advancing, the Kingdom IS. We need to engage it and explore it.
  • Process of Spiritual formation is we will be so attracted and in love with the king that the up side down would like normal and we would look more abnormal to the world.
Matthew 9
  • Verse 35; teaching and healing
Matthew 10
  • Sends disciples out to do the same.
Matthew 11
  • Verse 11; John was pointing to the Kingdom in a prophetic way.
Matthew 12
  • Pinnacle moment. Israel rejects her king.
  • Verse 28; the kingdom of God has come upon you.
  • Starts speaking in parables and they don't understand him.
  • Speaking with divine authority, fruit bears.
  • Spiritual transformation takes place.
  • The use of money, power, and influence is for the exaltation of the King and His Kingdom.
  • It's subversive, simplistic, mysterious, and it critiques both culture and legalism.
  • Shares from Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne.
  • When we divorce Jesus (The King) from the Kingdom, we create a kingdom of our own.
We will continue with Matthew 13

Thursday, September 18, 2008

School of Theology: Rick McKinley 1

Rick arrived for lunch and will be doing his first session on Gospel Church Culture (Later he will be moving into the subject of "Kingdom")

The Gospel is "acultural", but we have assumed it has a culture. Assumption that the Gospel does something to you, it makes you western, it makes you like us (clothing, language, worship).

Leslie Newbigin's theory on missions:
  • The Gospel goes into the Culture and speaks through windows of redemption specific to that culture (Good News) as well as windows of opposition (things that clash).
  • This contextualized Gospel forms the Church.
  • The Church needs to go back to the Gospel before going back to other cultures.
  • The Gospel to be proclaimed is a tightrope between culture and church
  • One one side: This is why religious people anger Jesus. You become sectarian, on the side of the church, separated from the people
  • On the other: You are being absorbed by culture, and you are just like them. Not distinction. You are not an ambassador to anything. You become syncristic
  • Falling off either side are sin, how do we live on the tightrope/vertical axis (Takes discernment, which we don't teach. We teach black and white)

1) The Church critiqued culture (sectarian): Hollywood, drinking, music, entertainment, fashion, evil, us vs. them, being worldly, politics

in response...

2) The Church copied culture (syncristic): Coffee bars, music, entertainment, Christian version of everything, lifestyle, marketing, business strategy, individualism, self-help, how-to, health/wealth, success, service style, convenience, instant gratification, consumerism

It's assuming culture is evil. It is a fear based model, which media uses to play on us, which in turn the church capitalizes on. The church can own it.

But from here...

3) The Church releases the Gospel to create culture: Assume a missionary posture. They create culture by being teachers, businessmen, artists. Always asking how does the way God makes us have a Kingdom foundation in everything we do?

The streams through which people in The Church creates culture
1. Religion
2. Business
3. Education
4. Arts
5. Civic/Government
6. Family

In the world but not of the world. Walking the tightrope of the Gospel through which it shapes society.

If you aren't a part of copying, the question is asked why aren't you serving the church? Why aren't you constructing the building, teaching Sunday school, on the worship team?

Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling
by Andy Crouch

School of Theology: John MacMurray 4

John is opening this morning with more excerpts from "Across All Worlds: Jesus Inside Our Darkness".

Jesus gave more then his life/death. He has given his knowledge, joy, peace, love, relationship.

"The God that you believe in is the product of your wounds"

To much good stuff to write down. Read this book!

A lot of great questions and even better discussion reviewing John's previous sessions.

God forgives everything before we confessed anything. It's about us being honest with ourselves. We are called to forgive like this. Like the prodigal sons father (not like the prodigal sons brothers).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

School of Theology: Donald Miller 3

Session 1
Session 2

Genesis 1-3: Everything is explained. Consumerism. Keeping up with the Jone's. Name dropping. Fashion. Etc.

Introducing Enneagram personality types. I highly recommend poking around this website. This is fascinating stuff, and normally I loathe personality type theories.

Don is just talking a lot about everything you can find on the website.

Whichever type you are is exactly who you are not. What type you are is your mask, a result of your depraved state.

The Wisdom of the Enneagram.
The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective.

It predicts your motives and the way you perceive the world. It does not categorize you, because it is your mask. These are our fig leaves. This is our drug, our coping method.

The Breakfast Club is a "life boat" movie (Everyone fighting for their survival).

Jesus was none.


Everyone is unsettled because of the fall, and is looking to be settled again.

Buddhism is looking to be completely empty. They are on to something! All you need is the new life of Christ to replace your old self.

Climax: Christ, Reality, Success, Marriage, Death, Knowledge, Fame, Peace, Retirement?

Don argues:

Exposition: Setting
Inciting Incident: Fall
Conflict: Life (Hope/betrothed)
Climax: Wedding
Resolution: Life Eternal

School of Theology: Donald Miller 2

Session 1: Elements of Story. Intro to the Christian exposition.

We are continuing on the the exposition in Genesis 1.
  • Verse 4; Created light/dark -> polar reference.
  • 5; Cycles/time -> Everything becomes a process. Finite. Growth. It's okay that you are not where you are going to be. God as the guru; educates, guides, points, directs.
  • 11; Vegetation -> Creating a system within which you can work and eat. It's not for himself, he is setting up the system for dependence so he can guide them through something, very relational. (Darwinism has no exposition) Plants that are poisonous -> Teaching the difference between right and wrong.
  • Cycles, interdependence, process, fragility, extravagance,
  • John interjects about the extravagant excessive of creation. God did not have to make so much so beautiful. Demonstrating his creativity, his pleasure in creating. This demonstrates his nature in finding pleasure in teaching and us discovering and finding pleasure in that complexity.
  • 26; Gender, marriage, sexuality. God is protecting us within the framework that the system was created. Oneness is lost when we diverge from that framework, the rest of the system breaks down (later images of marriage and how we understand God).
  • Why why why? We can learn and understand why God created everything, the brain and the body, what can be learned, what is God trying to communicate.
  • We are born out of an incredibly loving system which drives us to produce loving caring families.
  • Family structure is created to help us understand the trinity. Not the physical, but the relational and dependence aspect.
Genesis 2
  • 18; Pre-fall, and God says something is not good. This does not fit typical Christian theology. This is not utopia. Adam is experiencing negative emotions. What does this have to say about our world view? Some conflict is supposed to be.
  • Prospect theory. "You are going to loose something if you vote for this candidate is much more strong then you will gain something".
  • 19; It probably took years to see all the animals. Searching for a suitable companion And it taught Adam of his need, exposed his longing. Enhanced his negative emotion.
  • 20; First piece of parallelism (Hebrew poetry). He's say "she's like me!", only possible after being taught of his need for exactly her.
  • God created the system that requires effort for us to enjoy happiness. Embedded in the DNA of humanity is conflict. It's created to be hard. Men and woman are different. Going to make you work for it.
  • America is low on the list of happiness because Americans have high expectations. Denmark was number one, because they have low expectations. If Americans went to Denmark they would be unhappy because they would be let down. There is A LOT in American that Christians should roll their eyes at ("get rich fast" etc)
  • 25; "Don an John MacMurray went to Joshua Tree National Park because John was taking pictures. They were going up the mountain together naked and were just coming up to the perfect setting with the most beautiful sunset". Our ears should perk up. God created the system with the capacity to fall (nudity). Motive for the knowledge of good and evil is necessary, true love has to have a way out.
Genesis 3
  • Nudity is mentioned 6 times. Nothing about pride. Nudity is the point of the text, but we have never heard this unpacked.
  • Everything changes when they walk away from God. The "way out" has been taken. They have "walked through the door with no return".
  • Humans are only creatures on earth wearing clothes.
When can you be naked?:
  • Secure
  • Safe
  • Not self-conscious.
  • Alone
  • Intimate/trusting relationship
  • Childhood
  • Non-judgemental context (sauna)
What needs to be necessary for us to be okay being naked
  • Somebody outside myself has agency (someone has the power to tell you who you are, you can't provide this for yourself)
  • Affirming (interdependence, has to be in the regular context of this relationship)
  • Authority (they know what is good from bad, we trust them.)
  • Intimate (security with this person)
God provided this in the context of Garden of Eden.

Nudist colony is only nude within the context of each other. They have replaced God with each other (we do this all the time!). They are on to something, but not there yet. People who worship nature, or the moon, are on to something because they are worshipping something bigger then themselves. This is Paul in Acts.
  • But the second those things (Outside Agency, Authority, Affirmation, Intimacy) are lacking, there is shame. We transfer these things onto other men.
  • Why do we get road rage and pissed when someone takes 20 seconds of our life?
  • Competitive sports. Why do we play and why do we watch? Consequence to loosing and benefit to winning.
  • Name dropping. Who you are associated with.
  • Socio-economic status, racism
  • Sales techniques, marketing.
  • It's all about survival
  • America says, if you don't work hard and make something of yourself society will throw you out to the curb to die.
Okay, we are wrapping up for now. We will be digging into individual personality theory tonight. Pieces of this discussion are similar to a blog post I wrote over a year ago after hearing Donald Miller speak. Did Jesus Wear Clothes?.

School of Theology: John MacMurray 3

John picking up from where Don left off. Clarifies if "life" or "Scripture" is the primary mode of revelation. God does reveal Himself through all of life, but the only way you know He reveals himself in life is through Scripture.

This morning John is starting off on a series of sessions on how to read Scripture. Where do we take wrong turns on the path to knowing God.

Wrong Turns in Interpretation

1. Searching for meaning in the event rather than the text of a narrative. (Text vs. Event)
  • Lessons are found in trying to reconstruct the event.
  • Emphasis is placed on trying to place myself in the event as a participant.
  • Ignore that all events have been interpreted and are being presented by an author that has a strategy in the way he tells his story.
You don't go to a specific chapter of a Clancy novel and read the part where the bad guys nab the main character and there is a shoot out. (But how often do we do that with narratives in Scripture?).

Someone modeled to us how to handle the Bible. What has been modeled is to look at an event and try to get something from the event as if we are a participant in the event.

If you are studying John, study John. Each individual writer has a specific purpose in how they wrote the story. It is completely irrelevant how Matthew conveys the same event to the meaning of what John is saying.

A piece of the narrative is taking you to the destination of the whole story.

Biography is different then a narrative. (But we are working with 21st century definitions). Gospel writers tell their biased purpose in writing their narratives.

God has prepared the most brilliant feast ever (Scripture) and we are over nibbling on fluff, Scooby snacks.

Mortimer Adler: How to Read a Book

Donald Miller commented on the recent prevalence of literacy and the seemingly sloppy nature of the system. Sparked a tidal wave of questions and thoughts. On top of the mess, Don throws in creationism vs. evolution debate. John brings it all back together. Divine book will have a profoundness and brilliance to it. God's purpose is that we will understand and reveal, not hide it or set up an obstacle course. Sin diverts humanity of where God wants us to be, which explains the seemingly sloppy nature.

Wow, and that was only the first point of 10. Don is up next.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

School of Theology: Donald Miller 1

7:51pm, Tuesday night, buttery popcorn popping, coffee brewing, triple fudge brownies, Donald Miller speaking. First of 5 sessions with Donald Miller (There will be more coming from JMac. The two will be tag teaming the next 2 days.)

Don will be discussing a Christian Worldview.

Random bits to set the backdrop during his introduction:
  • Opens with his background. Mom sent him to a two week intensive camp to prepare students to defend their faith on college campuses.
  • Interesting comment on The Village. Critique of the church. Live in seclusion, create ghosts to keep you in the village.
  • Christianity explains everything (sports, fashion, life, why AJ bought the hat that he did...). We'll get their eventually... But I like where this is going. This has been one of my favorite topics to ponder over my last year at PSU and taking sociology classes.
Quick study of the elements of story (More Lord of the Rings as example)
  • How do you philosophically defend the different between music and noise? There are some things that cannot be defended. Story works for a very similar reason. The writers work within a formula to write the story. Why does story exist?
  • Opening scene: Gandolf, Shire, frolicking, content -> puts the ring on and tries to make an escape -> evil is set out to destroy -> form the fellowship -> At the end they set out as the fellowship is broken. (There must be a "What's going to happen next?")
Act 1
  • Exposition/characters and setting
  • 15-20 minutes/100 pages
  • Inciting incident. Introduction of conflict (the more the better). Life can never be the same. Doorway through with the character walks through and can never return. Humans seek stability and as a result the journey begins.
Act 2
  • Dealing with Conflict
  • Majority of the film/story. 1.5 hours
  • The fight against "giant midgets". The journey. Meeting with the "guru". Mythological structure (even in Hitch, Will Smith is the guru. Life has been disrupted, and the guru helps to achieve stability again.)
  • Rising action
  • Climax. Good has to face evil in order to bring final resolution to the story. A battle had to be fought in order to bring the fellowship together.
Act 3
  • Brings closure and resolution to the story
  • 15 minutes
  • Falling action
  • The happily ever after. Crowning of the king. People get fidgety if it's to long, so you have to give them 15 minutes to calm down from the climax.
So why does this work and where does it come from?
  • Two dominate brains. 1) How do I get a good job. How do I get married. What is the right way to raise kids. What is the right way to read the Bible. 2) Why do we exist? Why is a sunset beautiful? Why should I get a degree
  • America is a dominate "how" culture". Go to the bookstore (Christian included) and look at the mountains of how to books.
  • Stories/Bible answers the why question and leave the how questions for you to figure out.
  • America tries to translate Scripture to a how culture and much is lost. We also loose the ability to think for ourselves when everything is reduced down to simple how formulaic points.

“The ‘how’ doesn’t make sense unless we know the answer to the ‘why,’” he explains. “Here’s a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon that illustrates this for you. Calvin is in class, and the teacher is asking everybody to turn in their homework. Calvin asks, ‘Why do we exist?’ The teacher says, ‘Calvin, don’t change the subject. Just turn in your homework.’ But he says, ‘I need the answer to that question before turning in my homework becomes important.’ Our culture is just doing things without asking why they’re doing them. (

  • Does Christian worldview explain why there is an existence, characters, and a setting?
Genesis 1
  • Verse 1; explains the existence of a setting before which only God existed. God is non-existent within a fathomable understanding of how humans can understand existence. It is infinite (G.K. Chesterton; instead of trying to measure the ocean, just swim around and half fun in it.). We begin to understand why God calls himself "I AM". A place for wonder, awe, reverence, ultimate respect. (Rakel recommended we use another language so Donald Miller spoke in tongues to explain it to us. Now we all understand perfectly.) Language is finite.
  • The world is God-breathed (poetic. Because language is finite, it's the best way to convey because God is not "existent". If we try and interpret literally, we get ourselves into all kind of heresy but it's our natural response to the enlightenment)
  • Verse 3; Light. You cannot see light. Light is invisible. You can only see what light touches. Light is the only thing in the cosmos that works that way (it's not a wave or a ray). In a vacuum with nothing to block light, it will move 186,000 miles per second which is the same speed at which matter would not be affected by time (molecular density expands and you would explode if you went that fast). First things God creates, something that does not exist, is not material, is not affected by time, something you cannot see, goes on infinitely.
  • And God goes on in Scripture to call himself the light of the world.
  • Embedded in the exposition/in our reality God is giving us living examples with which we can be educated about Him.
  • You can go on and do this with sexuality, male and female gender, marriage, having children (and why children form so slowly, what God is teaching us), sheep, seasons, digestive system, that you need to drink things to live, urinating.
  • This whole thing is a giant educational playground to learn about God, to humble us, to put us in our place, to let you know without any doubt that you are not God.
We'll move on from light in the morning. The idea is that God will get bigger for us; bigger then Einstein, Hawking, and Hubbard.

School of Theology: John MacMurray 2

Session 1
Session 2 with John continues on Knowing God:

Genesis 3
  • Verse 6,7; Why do they hide? What has changed?
  • Truth has been skewed, because God has not changed.
  • Justification is something that needs to happen FOR the reconciliation of the relationship.
Back again to quoting "Across All Worlds: Jesus Inside Our Darkness" by C. Baxter Kruger
  • We paint a different face on God. The god we know is the god of our imagination which is projected on god.
  • Adam and Eve only knew astonishing and lavish blessing. Sin skewed their knowledge of God.
  • Religion has been one giant attempt to find God again. (even Christians paint faces on God from our fathers, theologians, )
Luke 15
  • The parables open with the fact of Jesus being a friend of sinners.
  • Some say the father reacts to the son based on the sons conviction and confession of his sins. However, Luke is very clear to explain that not a word has come out of the son's mouth.
  • He experienced the love of the father before the son said a word of confession.
  • The point of the story is the heart of the father.
  • When the son does confess, the father brushed it off and quickly restores him back to his position of honor.
  • Do we relate to God on a performance model? From far off the father sees him and run!
  • Confession is not a prerequisite to the Fathers love. The Father seeks us out.
  • Colossians 2:13-14; When we confess, we are honest with ourselves, with the things that scandalize ourselves. And the forgiveness of yesterday, tomorrow, and today become a reality to us. God is already reconciled to us, we are reconciled to God through confession.
  • This changes the paradigm on how we get along with each other, as we are supposed to treat others they same way God treats us. (the fullness of this happens later, but we are called to be moving towards this as a reality now.)
  • The relationship cannot exist without trust. This is trust in a person (not ideologies, or beliefs, or doctrine like any religion).
  • C.S. Lewis The Weight of Glory. God yearns to share His glory.
Here's some quick notes from a random Q&A session:

Q) Does God punish sin or is sin punishment in and of itself?

A) Sin grieves God. He knew humanity would walk away from God. If Jesus didn't take the punishment for all of sin and all time then we are in a tough spot. This is a fundamental of our faith. The sin issue has been death with completely and finally in the death of Christ on the cross.

God disciplines us whether we sin or not. It is instruction, out of love.

Jesus came to save, not to condemn. We condemn ourselves. When we sin our perception of God is skewed. Confession (in greek: to say the same thing) is essential for us to experience the correct perception.

Romans 1, The truth is being suppressed, and God's wraith is being revealed in their unrighteousness. Punishment to sin is He gives them over to their own depraved state. Romans 8, in Christ, righteousness, there is no wraith. This is the justification side, but cannot be divorced from reconciliation.

We are creatures in time and space, we are in process. Our false perceptions are set in default when we sin, everything is skewed by this.

Q) Ananias and Sapphira

A) It seems to be an exception to the rule. Otherwise we would all be dead. Luke is using the story to convey the lack of integrity, not being honest and genuine with God. But, not sure.

Q) Fear of God

A) Reverential Trust.

School of Theology: John MacMurray 1

First session by John on Knowing God. Hopefully you can track these notes a little bit better then Metzger's from yesterday, that was quite a whirlwind.

John 17
  • Longest recorded prayer in the Bible
  • John is always interjecting clarifications in his narrative
  • But here, he makes no editorial comments before/during/after.
  • After spending year with Jesus, what is so important about this prayer?
Matthew 11:27
No one knows the Son like the Father (humans, angels).
Clearest invitation to know Him, to everyone.
  • Verse 3; Eternal life is KNOWING the Father, a relationship with the Father.
The chief end of man is NOT(!) to glorify God. The heart of everything is the Trinity, communion, relationship.
  • This makes sense of why John calls Jesus the Word. He explains/brings knowledge of the Father.
John 14:27, John 15:11, Jesus gives himself (His joy, His peace).
  • It is not something He has or that one can do. In the knowladge of the Father he has endless love, peace, and joy.
  • Jesus takes on Adams skin, enters into our darkness and skewed perspective of life.
  • Knowing the Father is not super sizing any relationship you can imagine. Our knowledge can not bring life.
  • Invitation to know God is a relationship, an embrace, of a Being that is truly perfect. This is the relationship that only the Father, Son, and Spirit has known.
  • God is an has never been alone. He is not alone and has never been a lone. The very nature of God is that he exists in relationship. The truth is expressed in Jesus word that he is in Him and he is in God and they are united in love and communion though without the loss of distinctness. Their relationship is a rich and unclouded fellowship that they have enjoyed for every that is so deep and so true, so open and so close and it is fired by such pure love that they are one.
  • "May they be one that we are one." We are invited to that oneness.
  • Verse 21; Infinitely more then church unity.
  • The personal relationship with God becomes more about "what you believe". Results in division.
When Jesus heals the blind man, John talks mostly about the man being healed spiritually, not the miracle.
  • What does it mean for the Father, Son, and Spirit to be one? Exactness in Agenda. Perfect Awareness. Complete rhythm. They relate to each other so closely that it is beyond anything we have every known or experienced. (it is not just about the Father, Son, and Spirit all agreeing doctrinally)
  • We are invited to this NOW.
Quoting "Across All Worlds: Jesus Inside Our Darkness" by C. Baxter Kruger
  • Verse 23; What does Jesus see in His Father's eyes? "The love that fired the suns of a thousand universes."
PHEW! 10 minute break.

School of Theology: Paul Metzger

Rough notes from yesterday. These might be meaningless to you, but it is really mind blowing stuff! First session with John MacMurray is beginning.

Session 1: Consumerism/Race/Class

Helpless Hopefuls.
  • Shared story of his Japanese wife's process of getting a green card at the immigration. office. His eyes were opened when it hit close to home, he has walked closely to the issue.
  • it's difficult for us to know how difficult is for minorities to engage
  • We aren't blatantly racist, sitting around in kkk hoods, but we have a power issue. We don't like letting of power (turf wars).
  • Jesus entered in and identified with the helpless hopefuls.
  • As evangelicals we work on the level of individual personal relationships
  • Book: Divided by faith says we are against changing the structure because we are so focused on the individual.
  • can't pull yourself up by your bootstraps when you have had your knee caps knocked out one to many times.
  • Evangelical's are not the most racist individuals, it is the most racist institution.
PAUSE: Dan Franklin interjected rudely to ask Metzger to define Consumerism. Consumerism is giving people what they want when they want it at the least cost to themselves.
  • We think based on affinity and attraction as opposed to being missional.
  • departments stores: mirrors are there for a reason. They want you to look at you. You don't see clocks in a department store because they don't want you to think about time. We use our space to convey something, a restructuring (gray walls in the immigration office versus the walls of the conference room)
  • prof at PSU?
  • Vincent Van Gho wanted to give himself to the peasants. He was told by the church he should not identify on their level, he was supposed to be higher. He has a painting the church has no doors. (Rent, Chocolat)
  • Paranormal Pyschology class at PSU. Girl talked during the whole lecture. Her first question after he finished "Do you think your better then me?". Paul said "What did I say that made you think that?" and she said "Christians always say they are on the inside of Jesus". What are we as Christians doing that conveys?
  • Our lives have to create the space for our views to be heard. We have to restructure space that includes a more noble vision (then take back power that has been lost).
  • Willamette Weekly, you will find a state of the art sound system and a coffee bar but you won't find a Lords Table.
  • Define space of Coffee Bars: Relationships with people who are like us. disposable income
  • God doesn't want us to be comfortable with the world, he wants to comfort us with Jesus.
  • We like to be a servant but not be treated like a servant.
  • Perkins "We've replaced the Gospel of reconciliation with the Gospel of church growth".
  • Shares Perkins testimony
  • It's not taking back America, it's giving our lives even for our enemies.
"We have given liberals half the gospel, we need to TAKE BACK the other half".

"Orthodoxy should lead to Orthopraxis."

We have the grudge, we need to fight to get back and so we need money, power, an people of status. We think about power, but power that is alien to the cross. We don't look closely who we yoke with DC and such.

Watched prayer scene from Talledega Nights
  • We create God in our image
Success is judged by outcome instead of obedience! It has been really interesting how people have responded to ACI and how they are so concerned with success defined by sustainability and immediate results.

Salvation is not terminated with us, salvation operates through us with a purpose. Church on Sunday isn't to celebrate and get charged out of excitement of our own salvation.

The Church is seen as a voluntary association of religious individuals whose true allegiance lies elsewhere - the state, nuclear family and market.

We need to expand our view of qualification.

Jim Eliot as a kid told his mom "don't pray your children will be Godly men, but that they would be arrows sent into the heart of Satan".

We need to live in light of what we will be.

If you are going to save others, you can't save yourself.

People don't need us, we need them

Lords Table
  • we treat the lords table as an individuals personal thing.
Slave Trade
  • Commidification
  • It's only an issue when it's on our plate and our turf (consumerism flaunts this, because it is about you)
  • Shared Hope International
  • How am I involved in it? We tend to look at people in one of two groups. Those we treat and things (get me what I want when I want it at the least cost to myself) and those we treat as people.
  • Don't just live differently to be pragmatic, because there is dollar signs behind doing it this way. Living out God's heart and God's desires.
Triune God is a communion of persons who gives up all to be in communion with us.
  • When one suffers we all suffer. We must suffer for the body of Christ when one is suffering elsewhere, we must live for the body and for others. We can not fight in isolation.
  • We ask people what they do for a living. If they have no value to the market. We do not treat people as ends in themselves.
  • "bankers and lawyers make better deacons"!?
  • Corinthian Church (most like America today), God chose the poor and foolish to lead.
Lord of the Rings
  • Backdrop was industrial revolution and WWII.
  • Page 3
  • Ents start to take action against the meaningless destruction.
  • Head orc says "the age of humans is coming to an end, and the age of orcs has begin". Tolkien making a statement about the loss of soul, the loss of humanity. (I Am Legend too!)
  • Community development has to be localized. Money has to stay in the community. Production, procurement, and consumption.
  • Tolkien saw the break down of human society.
  • Give a man a fish, teach a man to fish, who owns the pond?
  • The poor are vulnerable because they have no ownership.
  • Why does Tolkien choose a Hobbit to take the ring to Mordor? Communal, solidarity. The strengths of the community are necessary because the strengths are not present in Frodo. Frodo has less power therefore is less susceptible to the influences of the ring.
  • American evangelicals have bought into the lie of Borimere (use the power of the ring to fight the enemy). We have the right heart, but are wanting to use power to accomplish the goal and it brings about such disunity. Entitlement drives us. We fight the same way Washington fights.
  • When there is disunity in the Body, Satans power grows.
  • The only way you can take on fear, power, and greed (Sauron) is love.
  • Never in the Bible is it ONLY about saving souls. He's a political figure, but not by DC's standards.
  • Family feast, foot washing, farewell. This is how Jesus overturns Rome. John 13, he's into authenticity and vulnerability. We have to be that close. How great is our vulnerability and authenticity (ACI!). The poor is not sacrificed on our behalf.
  • We can not fight it the worlds way.
  • He-men and she-woman must be turned into halflings.
  • The greatest testimony to the Resurrection of Jesus: Paul, the greatest Christ hater who persecuted and chained Christians was chained and persecuted for Christians.
  • Dieing to myself. Dying to the comodification of others for my own desires.
  • Knowledge doesn't give power, Power creates knowledge.
  • How are we somehow not responsible for the sins of our forefathers but do inherit sin from Adam and Eve.
  • Replace the Gospel of Profit with the Gospel of Prophetic Voices.
  • It's not professional Christianity, it's all about the lay people.
  • Movements turn into Monuments
  • Be forced out, don't force yourself out.
  • Spiritual vertigo. Love so much in turns us upside down and inside out and Jesus is the only thing holding on to us.
  • Charity is keeping people on the far end of outstretched arm. Community means we need each other!
  • Be who you are, not who you once were. Not, "Don't be who you are, be who your supposed to be"

Saturday, September 13, 2008



I happened to do a Google search for this word when looking for something else and was surprised to see that not a single search result existed. I thought it would be a cool opportunity claim my own piece of the world wide web.

It took just over an hour, but as of 7:01 pm Google's crawler picked up this blog post!

Phantom of the Opera

Be excited. This post has a theme song. Hit play and keep reading:

I went and saw Phantom of the Opera with my mother, sister, and Elena last week. The second half of the production truly thrilled me. I wanted to share my thoughts before I forget.

I love the Phantom's character. I think the reason why patrons connect so well with him is because he is actually the most human. He is a representation of a transparent authentic human being. His struggle for love and acceptance, his disgust with the monster that he is, and frustration with hurting those he loves most.

This got me thinking about the rest of the characters. I wondered, if the phantom is most human, what are the rest? The funny thing is, the other characters feel the most normal. I think the rest of the characters are the true masqueraders. They are the ones running around with a mask - the same mask's we don everyday - pretending not to have their lives together, pretending not to be broken, pretending to be something they are not.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

School of Theology

I wanted to give everyone who reads my blog regularly a heads up about something exciting happening next week that directly concerns YOU!

I will be blogging out of Sun River Oregon from a joint Good Shepherd/Imago Dei School of Theology.

The teachers include Paul Metzger (Professor, Author), John MacMurray (Professor, Author, Photographer), Donald Miller (Author, Speaker), and Rick McKinley (Pastor, Author).

I'm super excited and will be sharing my notes right here!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I heard this song on the radio and was so confused by the first verse I almost changed the station. Then on the second verse it hit me (italicized below), and I broke into tears. I am so convicted of my own hate and pride when I heap judgment on celebrities when they fall and their lives break to pieces.

Bebo Norman, you are an awesome man of God. I appreciate your heart and courage to proclaim God's love to all people.

Britney I'm sorry for the lies we told
we took you into our arms and then left you cold
Britney I'm sorry for this cruel cruel world
we sell the beauty but destroy the girl
Britney I'm sorry for your broken heart
we stood aside and watched you fall apart
I'm sorry we told you fame would fill you up
and money moves the man so drink the cup

I know love goes around the world we know
and you never see it coming back
you never see it coming back
i know love goes around the world we know
and you never see it coming back
but i can see it coming back for you
yes coming back for you

Britney im sorry for the stones we throw
we tear you down just so we can watch the show
Britney im sorry for the words we say
we point the finger as you fall from grace

Britney i do believe that love has come
here for the broken
here for the ones like us

I know love goes around the world we know
and you never see it coming back
you never see it coming back
I can see it coming back for you

Monday, September 08, 2008

Glorious Summer

It has indeed been a glorious summer. I have experienced unbelievable growth, attained priceless experience, developed amazing relationships, and grown deeper in my communion with God.

Here are a couple pictures of Elena and I from the summer:

Beach Trip

Phantom of the Opera

Thursday, September 04, 2008

This is fascinating!
" by eBay is the world’s first online marketplace to convene thousands of People Positive and Eco Positive sellers and products all in one place, empowering you to shop in ways that align with your personal values. Respected, independent organizations verify the positive impact every product has on people and the planet. Our goal is to ensure that every choice you make here is a good one."