Friday, June 27, 2008

Iowa Flood Relief

Our outreach department is pulling together a team of people to help out those displaced by the floods in and around Cedar Rapids, IA. The trip will be July 7-13. If you are interested, click here.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Kingdom is Coming.

Jesus came to earth with one prevailing, revolutionary, and controversial message. He came announcing a new reality for mankind, dramatically turning human history on its head. All we know of Jesus - his teachings, his morality, his claims, his story - stems from one arching idea. That the Kingdom has come...and is still coming. He spent three years teaching about it, proclaiming its reality and showing us what life within it felt like. Something so big and overwhelming could never be stated in just a few words...or could it? Jesus summed it up in 57 words:

πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ

On Independence Day weekend we start a new four-week series at VCC looking at Jesus' summary of life in the Kingdom. Hope to see ya there.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Summer Speaking Schedule

I'll be teaching a lot over the next six or seven weeks...feel free to come by if I'm headed to your neighborhood.

6-28/29 - Eastside Christian Church, Cincinnati, "No Perfect People Allowed"
7-3 - The Lift at VCC.
7-5/6 - VCC Weekend Celebrations, "New Series: Kingdom Cliffs Notes"
7-12/13 - VCC Weekend Celebrations, "Kingdom Cliffs Notes"
7-19/20 - Southbrook Christian Church, Dayton.
7-26/27 - VCC Weekend Celebrations, "Kingdom Cliffs Notes"
8-2/3 - Fellowship Bible Church, Cleveland.

Monday, June 23, 2008


At 9:00 a.m. this morning I went under the knife...all the way under. I had to have a relatively simple dental surgery, but they needed to put me under for it. The last time I was under anesthesia was twenty years ago when I had my wisdom teeth removed. I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed not enduring the needling, slicing and prodding that took place in my mouth for 45 minutes, but the hangover has been really nasty. I can't hold food down and have a terrible headache. Typing isn't helping at I'm gonna quit now.

Friday, June 20, 2008

What I Believe about Belief.

There was a time in my life when I honestly had no idea what I believed about anything. I had leanings, opinions and thoughts on everything, but no firm stances. Firm stances worry me because nothing can send a life askew quite like having a firm stance on something only to find out that your firm stance is wrong or incomplete or misguided. My mid to late twenties were years of desperation and tormented truth-seeking. When I started to come out of my questions with a few answers I wrote an essay to try to verbalize what I believe about everything. I nervously re-read it today hoping my convictions hadn't changed. Strangely enough, they hadn't. I stil believe these things, and looking back over the last ten years I can say that these beliefs shaped most every move I made. Some of my friends here have been asking what I believe about certain theological issues lately...maybe this will help those of you hoping to see a few inches deeper into my soul. (Warning: There are a few big words...when you are writing what you believe about belief big words tend to slip in...)

"My Convictions: A personal epistemological treatise."


God is Sovereign. The Creator, Sustainer, and Consummator of the universe. He alone deserves praise, worship and homage. He truly is King of all that was, is and will be.
As King, God has always desired a people to be his followers, the people of God. In this regard, God is truly "political" in the literal since of the word, but his "polis" surpasses the kingdoms of this world, which amount to nothing compared to his Kingdom. In the Old Testament, God elected the nation of Israel to be his chosen people.
As the entire New Testament testifies, Jesus came to proclaim access to the Kingdom of God, fulfilling and completing the Law and the Prophets of the Jews. Jesus came, announcing the good news (gospel) that the Kingdom had broken into humanity in a new, fresh, and eschatologically significant way. Jesus himself was the Kingdom as he incarnated God among us. As the Messiah/Christ (literally, King) Jesus offered access into the Kingdom of God to all who would listen to his proclamation, turn from their sin and faithfully believe in his authority.
The reality of this new "Kingdom-among-us" radically transformed the lives of Jesus' closest friends and disciples. Since the death, burial and resurrection of Christ the reality and power of the Kingdom of God has been made available to all people who will continue to follow Christ as his early friends did.


God, by nature, is a missional being. He is a missionary God. Even within Himself, He is a sending God. (The Father sent the Son, the Son sent the Spirit.) The people of God reflect his missional character by allowing themselves to be sent by Him, proclaiming life in the Kingdom and incarnating the love of God in their time and place. All disciples of Jesus follow Him as King and are sent by Him as his ambassadors to the world.
The people of God are called to live as resident aliens in a world that is not their own. Therefore, for every true follower of Christ, their world (their time, place and culture) is their mission field, not their ultimate home. They are residents of the Kingdom of God-both the Kingdom of the here-and-now and the Kingdom that is to come.
A true missional spirit of the people of God allows for outsiders to partake in the community and joy of authentic Kingdom living, making "evangelism" a natural and organic process that flows from any true missional community of God-followers. The numerical growth of Jesus-disciples in any given culture is always connected to the depth of love and community that the people of God share with each other.


God is an eternal community of one-ness. Though He is Three, He is also One. God exists in everlasting love within his own being-Father, Son and Spirit. God created mankind to live in community with Himself. He desires a people.
Men and women are created with an innate longing for community with God and with each other. However, the human race both originally and continually opts to sin against God. As human beings continue to prefer their own will to the will of God, true community with God and other people becomes impossible for fallen people. However, through Christ, God has returned the gift of community to the human race.
Through the faithfulness of Christ, community occurs within the context of the Kingdom of God as followers of Jesus trust the Holy Spirit and love one another in response to first being loved by God. The Holy Spirit intercedes by giving gifts to believers for the building up of the Body of Christ.
When the Kingdom of God is proclaimed and received in a given locality, the Holy Spirit forms the people of God into a church (literally, "called-out-ones"). The local church functions as the people of God and as the embassy of the Kingdom of God in a given culture.

The Church as the eschatological sign, foretaste and agent of the Kingdom:

The Church is not the Kingdom of God. The Church submits to the Kingdom as its sign, foretaste and agent. The Church is a particularly eschatological phenomenon. This means that the church belongs to the last days (the "eschaton"). These last days came with the life, death, burial and resurrection of Christ and will be completed upon his second coming to earth. The church exists in the interim days between the beginning and the end of the eschaton. The church is a pilgrim people on a voyage toward the summation of this created realm and the ultimate and total reign of God as the true and only King.
The church is the sign of the Kingdom in that it is not the Kingdom, but it points people toward the rule of God. The church is the witness of the reality that the Kingdom of God is both already alive among us and will one day fully come. In this regard, the church exists to proclaim King Jesus and his Kingdom to the world.
The church is the foretaste of the Kingdom in that it contains the true people of God. Though the Kingdom has not come fully, it has come already. The rule and love of God may be felt and understood within the church in a real and dynamic way. Life in the church prepares us and fits us for life in the Kingdom.
The church is the agent of the Kingdom in that it does the work of the Kingdom through the power of the Holy Spirit. God normally chooses his people to do his work. With this understanding, the church truly incarnates King Jesus and becomes his Body and his Family on earth. The people of God function as the hands, feet and voice of Christ to those who are both near and far from Him.

The Church as the counter-cultural community of Jesus in a specific culture:

The church exists as a community of Jesus followers. The community, however, is normally, if not always, counter-cultural to the dominant structures of the time and place where the church exists. The local church sees itself as the "polis" or city of God. Members of the church allow themselves to be led only by God (their true Lord), not by the epistemology, economy or politics of their culture.
More often than not, the politics of Jesus are different than the dominant worldview being lived out day to day by the people of any culture. As a general rule, when the church becomes too central or cozy with the powers that be, the church loses its marginality, its true power as the eschatological sign of the Kingdom of God. Therefore, the church should normally have a marginal place in society. It creates its own cultural norms that are often counter to the norms of an anthropocentric worldview. The church strives to live true to the teachings of Jesus and to model his faithfulness to the world. If Jesus was marginalized, persecuted and hated (and he was), those who follow him should expect the same treatment.
Contrary to popular sentiment, the church grows in a more substantial way when it retains its position at the margins of society. The church dies when it converts to culture.
However, the church cannot afford to ignore the culture in which it lives as resident aliens. Since the church is a missional community and mouthpiece for the Kingdom, it should familiarize itself with culture so that it may indigenize the gospel of Jesus in a way that allows sinners an opportunity to repent and accept life. The opposite fallacy of converting to culture is ignoring culture.

The Church as the organic family of God:

The church is the family of God. The members of the church are sons and daughters of their Father God, and brothers and sisters to one another. The leader of the church is the head of the family: King Jesus. Jesus leads every church through the supernatural gifting and presence of the Holy Spirit. No true church is built by people apart from the guidance of the Spirit.
The church operates more like an organism than a business or an institution. It contains structure, but it is structured through spiritual direction and giftedness, not according to the popular or cultural methods of the day. The church, the Body of Christ, grows organically, similar to the way a natural body grows physically.
Churches grow optimally when they multiply and "give birth" to new churches. This "multiplication" growth, sometimes called a church planting movement, allows the church to expand in all directions while giving each church the opportunity to remain small enough to be an intimate, holistic community of faith.


Whether people realize it or not, we all have a foundational need for meaning in life. Most people will eventually find themselves asking the three big questions: Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going?
God has put his thumbprint on our soul. There exists in each individual what Blaise Pascal called a "God-shaped vacuum". We, as individuals, have been searching to fill the hole in our heart with everything in the world only to find that nothing in the world can fill our emptiness. As Augustine said of his search for God, "Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee."
Individuals are created in the image of God. We naturally seek for meaning as part of our created-ness. In essence, the basic needs of meaning surpass all other human needs as they stem from the root of a person's being. God has arranged what Peter Kreeft calls the "three prophets" within the human soul. These three foundational longings are the pathways that God uses to draw men and women to himself:


God is beautiful and His creation reflects His beauty. The beauty of the world testifies to God's character and person. Individuals are able to commune with God through their imaginative and creative potential. For this reason, we value the arts, expression, and creativity.


God is true and has made His truth known in the Scriptures and through the person of Jesus Christ. Reason and knowledge are from God and point the creation to the Creator. Individuals are able to commune with God through their intellectual and reasoning potential. For this reason, we value to know, live and proclaim Truth.


God is good and righteous. All good things are from God alone and point seekers of righteousness to Him. Individuals are able to commune with God through their conscience and innate attraction to goodness and virtue. For this reason, we value right and disciplined living.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Birthday to Eli.

Eli turns 9 today! We are going laser tagging in a few minutes to celebrate. It's an honor for me to be his dad.

Friday, June 13, 2008

This Weekend

I'm taking the weekend off work and producing some web video commercials for Center City Collision. My friend Kevin Rains owns the joint and it should be a good time.

Some old friends from California - Sam and Sid- are coming into film the videos. I acted in a few of Sid's student films when he was a student at Chapman University. They are very talented and funny guys. I'm looking forward to hanging out with them this weekend.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

What's in a name?

I talked at VCC this weekend about the wrestling match in Genesis 32 between Jacob and a man/angel/God. Jacob wrestles with him until he is blessed. The blessing comes in the form of a name change. Jacob (deceiver) is re-named Israel (God-struggler). Afterward today I was thinking more about Jacob during Aidan's baseball game. There's a kid on the team named Benjamin. Benjamin was Jacob's baby - his last born son. Only the second son of Rachel, the love of Jacob's life.

Here's the passage in Genesis 35:

16 Then they moved on from Bethel. While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty. 17 And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, "Don't be afraid, for you have another son." 18 As she breathed her last—for she was dying—she named her son Ben-Oni. But his father named him Benjamin.

There's a lot of real life joy and pain packed into those three verses. A big move, the birth of a son, the death of a beloved wife. In overwhelming pain, Rachel names Jacob's twelth son Ben-Oni. Ben-Oni means "son of my troubles/pain." Ben-Oni literally killed Rachel. He caused her so much pain that she died. As a result, she curses him with his name. Trust me. If this kid tried to make it through Genesis with a name like "son of pain" it would have been ugly. Jacob steps in. Amidst his grief, he holds his baby. He looks into that little guy's eyes and says, "No. Not Ben-Oni, but Ben-jamin." Not son of pain. But, son of my right hand. Son of my glory. Son of my joy.

He removes the curse and redeems his son with a blessing. Where did Jacob, the schemer learn to do that? He didn't. Jacob doesn't do stuff like that. But an old limping man named Israel does. Those who are blessed bless best. Genesis 49 is an entire chapter devoted to Jacob's last words on earth. They are all blessings spoken over his children. His story comes full circle in redemption: Jacob, the blessing stealer, becomes Israel, the blessing giver.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Future is Today

I realized today that I wanted to re-read Watchman Nee's book Changed into his Likeness before teaching tonight. However, I don't own the book anymore - no idea where it went. I called three local bookstores, but they all wanted to order it for me. They wanted to charge around ten bucks and have it for me in ten days. That wasn't going to help me for tonight at all.

So I googled the book and found I was able to buy the book in e-book form in one minute for $3.25. A few days ago, a friend told me that books would be replaced by e-books in a few years. I passionately professed my loyalty to real books...until I needed one asap today. I'm a flip-flopping hypocrite.

I'd better go read my first e-book now...

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Last Call for Improv - Tomorrow (fri) Night...

Q City Improv Show:

Friday at the Cincinnati Ballet Tech. The show starts at 8pm. Tickets at the door in the $5 range. Some PG-13 content.

The address is 6543 Montgomery Road Cincinnati, OH 45213.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Dang Tornadoes

So we survived our first Tornado Warning as Ohio residents tonight. I suppose some day they will be old hat and we will run out into the front yard like legless Lt. Dan yelling, "Is that the best you got?" But us midwest newbies spent thirty minutes huddled in the basement. I think it was justified. The weather guy pretty much called out our zip code and said to make peace with our Maker. There was a funnel cloud in Monroe a few miles away.

Side note: Funnel Clouds are so close to Funnel Cakes. One is deadly, the other delicious. Life is strange like that.

Regardless, we survived to hide in our basement another day. Should be a fun summer.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

As I was saying in my last post...

I'm not really trying to make this a sports blog, but I give you the walk-off homerun: