The God Next Door Resource

Simon Carey Holt, author of The God Next Door has made a neighbourhood exegesis resource available from a section in his book. It looks intriguing and gets at asking some important questions about neighbourhood for discerning mission. Being able to read our world is a critical task for appropriate incarnational ministry. The questions have a hint of Ignatius’ Examine about them (which I quite like) as they encourage discovery of how God is already working “outside” the walls of the church. Have a look and while you’re at it, check out his blog.

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Signs of Emergence…

Jordan Cooper reviews Sign’s of Emergence by Kester Brewin, now released in North America. Here is a quote I picked up from Len’s blog today. It is rather well put and perhaps not what many might expect is the right solution by today’s assumptions.

"There are still those who cry for revolution, for a revival that will change things in a snap, make everything OK as thousands flock to church… But the days for revolution are over. The cry for revival is too often a cry for abdication: you do it all, God. Well God has done God’s bit, it is the systems that now need to change. This is the faith we have signed up for: the Church as the body of Christ where we have real parts to play, real responsibilities. We must not act rashly–diving in to this or that. We must do as God did. Stop. Wait. Grieve. Strip away power, might, pretence at knowledge, riches… and be born again. As Einstein famously said, “The same consciousness that created a problem can not solve it."

some worthwhile links

In other news: Maggi Dawn tells us what she thinks about the term “missional”. Some great insight, go have a read:

“But it’s one thing to say that the Church at large is involved in the Missio Dei; it’s another to use the term “Missional” as a kind of advanced concept of Church, or as a thing you have to do to qualify for Church.”

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Worthwhile links…

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Random links…

  • An interesting article about George Bush [HT: Jordan]

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Random links of interest…

  • All right, this is how academics make other academics laugh. Ben and Kim confess…you may miss half of what they are talking about (like I did), but what I caught made me laugh.
  • 10 propositions on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I am inspired by this man
  • On the Rooftops: Theological proclamations
  • A brilliant article from Out of Ur by David Fitch about justice and its importance for us who say we follow Jesus. Here is a snippet:
  • If we read the accounts of justice in Ezekiel 18:5-9, Isa 58:3-7, Amos 5:21-24, Micah 3, this kind of righteousness, both vertical and horizontal, is at the core of what justice means for the Hebrew mind of the OT. We therefore should engage in practices of horizontal reconciliation for one another and those outside in our neighborhoods before we go trailblazing on the national political scene.”

Read Part one of his Justice article HERE

  • More of David Fitch here on 10 Reasons you know Christendom is over
  • And in other news almost everybody in the world has heard Paul Potts sing Nessun Dorma. The car phone salesman can sing. This is a case of something beautiful in the place you would least expect. I guess that’s what we are hoping to come from the church too…
  • Erika has posted a wonderful benediction that should in actuality be a good thing for us…

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The day the Lord spoke…

Today sure feels like one of those. I was impacted by numerous things in my daily tasks. This post will take the shape of a bit f reflection, some blog links, a picture and some quotes, as those are all the things that have stirred something in my heart today.

I am not sure whether the time and thought I have been putting into a Spiritual Formation engagement proposal has anything to do with it. But I think it may as my proposal is all about helping a community discern God’s presence among them for the purpose of deep missional engagement. The whole idea is to move from programmatic activity to a deeper missional lifestyle that takes seriously the issues of social justice before us. This process is stirring something in my heart.

With that fresh on my mind, I was hit with this image that Brant’s blog led me to. Now although this image won the Pulitzer Prize back in 1994, I have never seen it before. It touched me deeply and I feel something stirring in my heart.

Then Andrew Jones linked up to this site that posted an article about orphaned kids and missional families. This article addresses the absurdity of there being 65 million evangelicals in America and yet there are 115,000 orphaned kids. What’s wrong with this picture? Where is the true religion James talks about. We will not have another child until the a serious discussion about adoption is worked through. Bethany is a Christian adoption organization that you can start with if you are interested. This stirred something in my heart.

Then I had a conversation with my good friend Bill. Bill should blog, but he doesn’t. he is thoughtful and one of the best conversation partners around. We looked at the image above together (on the phone) and had a serious talk about justice and compassion and what it means to be a Christian. One thing we realized is that here in the west we often do not recognize our complicity in the issue of poverty simply by the way we live. This stirred something in my heart.

I then proceeded to read this Christianity today article about what it means to be poor in Spirit. Please read it, it seems we cant be poor enough. And again, this stirred something in my heart.

Then finally, and very inspirationally, Erika posted an email to her from a reader about making a difference in the life of a family. This person asked Erika to find a family or two that could benefit from a 50$ bi-weekly gift card for groceries. This story stirred something in my heart.

This quote stood out for me today

“Take this city, a city should be shining on a hill. Take this city, if it be your will. What no man can own, no man can take. Take this heart, and make it break.”


I’d be foolish to wonder for much longer what God is saying through these encounters today. Something is happening, Aslan is on the move in the hearts of the faithful to see a fresh and lovingly piercing movement of God’s people in the West. There is some upside down living going on that serves as criticism to the status quo that turns a blind eye to the things that matter most to God’s heart. The poor.

Is there something stirring in your heart? Or better yet, is it breaking?

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Some worthwhile links…

0801031672David Fitch reviews VanHoozer’s book Everyday Theology:How to Read Cultural Texts and Interpret Trends. It looks like a worthwhile book that deals with the importance of exegeting our culture. I see the value of this and I have been thinking for the last few years that the importance of reading our world should be a primary task of the church in the West; specifically because of the extent the Western Church has coalesced with North American values. [Update: Baker Academics offers Ch 9 of the book]

Christianity Today has an article exposing the nature of the latest Best Selling Self-help book, the Secret. It is pretty much common knowledge by now (thanks in part to John Stackhouse’s thoughts) that this secret stuff is no secret at all. It’s your materialistic, middle class mantra for getting your best life now (where have I heard that before?). Here is a quote:

"The Secret, you see, is all about the self—it’s for the self, obsessed with the self. Newsweek offers this critique: "On an ethical level, The Secret appears deplorable. It concerns itself almost entirely with a narrow range of middle-class concerns—houses, cars, and vacations, followed by health and relationships, with the rest of humanity a very distant sixth." Read the whole article

Brant Hansen is at it again with his perceptive wit in this post that is an interview between him and, well…him. In the pretend world, it is between him and some church guy that is questioning his ideas about house church and church budgets. He has a point that I think is hard to swallow for some.

Here is a link to an outline for the Ignatian practice of Examen. This is an important practice as it broadens prayer to include not only petition and intercession, but listening. Learning to pay attention I believe is a crucial component to being missional and open to what God is doing both in and outside the church. It moves us away from our presuppositions and allows us to listen to the Spirit at work.

Finally, I am upset that I can’t be at the Allelon Summer Institute this week :( It would have been a great live blogging opportunity.

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An important paper…

Len Hjalmarson has just finished up an important collection of writing called Leader as Listener. This 10 piece series can be downloaded here as a PDF. If you are involved in church leadership and haven’t taken the time to read it in full, I recommend you do so. This body of work is both an informative guide and prophetic critique. Please read it.

In his finale, Len draws on Brian McLaren’s article in Rev Magazine comparing modern leadership to the Wizard of Oz. Here is a taste:

“McLaren finds ten Wizardly characteristics of modern leadership. (You’ll notice the masculine pronoun used exclusively here.)

1. Bible Analyst: The modern Christian leader dissects the Bible like a scientist dissects a fetal pig

2. Broadcaster: Amplified voice electronically and a little reverb increases the power quotient

3. Objective Technician: The organization (church, ministry, etc.) is a machine, and the leader knows how to work the machine. It’s the object, and he’s the subject.

4. Warrior/Salesman: Modern leadership is about conquest — “winning” souls, launching “crusades,” “taking” this city for Jesus, etc. And it’s about marketing, getting buy-in, selling (and selling out).

5. Careerist: The modern leader earns credentials, grasps the bottom rung of the ladder, and climbs, climbs, climbs – whether he is a stock-boy-who-would-be-CEO or a young preacher on the rise.

6. Problem-Solver: Come to him, and he’ll fix you.

7. Apologist: Come to him, and he’ll tell you why he’s right and your doubt or skepticism is wrong.

8. Threat: Through mocking caricatures a gifted orator can make you fear that if you don’t agree with/follow/submit to his leadership, you’ll be banished – like the Wizard bellowing threats from behind his curtain.

9. Knower: The modern Christian leader appears supremely confident in his opinions, perspectives, beliefs, and formulations. While the rest of us question and doubt, he is the answer-man who knows.

10. Solo Act: There’s only room for one in the Wizard’s control booth, and there’s only room for one at the top of the church org chart.”

“McLaren argues that we must move..

• From Bible analyst to spiritual sage

• From Broadcaster to listener

• From Technician to spiritual friend

• From Warrior/Salesman to dancer

• From Careerist to Amateur

• From Problem Solver to Co-Searcher

• From Apologist to Apologizer

• From Knower to Seeker

• From Solo Act to Team Builder”

Again, the link for you…

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Some worthwhile link thingies to click on and read…

Will Willimon tees up a Dr King quote that is just as prophetic and piercing today as it was in his context…it’s about how the church should be a thermostat rather than thermometer.

Julie Clawson at Onehandclapping points to Chris Jordan’s Photography collection called Running the numbers. It looks at contemporary American culture through the lens of statistics. Here are some pics:


Depicts 426,000 cell phones, equal to the number of cell phones retired in the US every day.


Depicts two million plastic beverage bottles, the number used in the US every five minutes.

The rest of the collection is found here. Go have a look see.

And Len is back with Leader as Listener VI…it is a great piece…please read it.

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New Podcast worth subscribing to…

shane_sternSpeaking of Faith is a new podcast that explores religion. “Each week, host Krista Tippett focuses on a different theme, asking writers, thinkers and theologians to discuss how religion shapes everyday life.”

Here is a link to a good interview with Shane Claiborne talking about the New Monastics

There are also some additional interviews with the likes of Peter Berger and Jaroslav Pelikan talking about the importance of creeds.

[HT Scot McKnight]

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Meaningful Links In No Particular Order…

This is one way that we can say we really love hockey here in Vancouver

It’s TV Turn Off Week and Wess tells us about it.

Some thoughts on Mark Driscoll’s confessional style book

A worthwhile interview with Rodney Stark [HT Len]

What is the worst theological invention?

I-monk on why I (he, not me) am a Christian

And as I write Oprah is on talking about the reaction that releasing the Virginia Tech murderer’s video has stirred. There are interviews from all camps and NBC stands by their decision to air the video. Personally, I think media crosses the line from journalism and reporting violence to sensationalism and perpetuating violence. It is first and foremost a huge disrespect to the families and secondly it opens others to pursue the sick glory that such crimes bring for the killer.

I can’t help but feel that beneath the (apparent) noble intentions by News Networks to present the truth as service to the people, lies a competitive motivation for ratings that in the end overrides decency and what is right.

What do you think?

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Random Links

David Fitch on Technology in Worship

Len points out the four primary questions churches are (or need to be) asking today

JR Woodward blogs from Virginia Tech (a collection of posts this last week)

We should be recognizing Earth Day...Rick points it out to us

Scott Cripps shares his thoughts on small groups

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Tagged for thinking bloggers…

I am honored to be tagged by Erika as a blogger that makes her think. I have therefor been asked to pass along the tag and name five others that make me think. Can I tag her back? Considering I can’t, here are five blogs I read regularly that make me think that I have too much to learn about everything

In no particular order:

Len Hjalmarson

John Stackhouse

Ben Myers & Kim Fabricus

Chris Erdman

Brant Hansen

Your mission (if you are one of the tagged), should you choose to accept it, is to pay it forward as well … the rules are simple and they are three:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme

3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote (here is the gold version and the silver to better meet your needs for blogolicious decorating).

And totally unrelated to anything Christian or missional, our beloved Canucks won game four of the best of seven with Dallas 2-1 tonight. We now lead the series 3 games to 1 and head back to Vancouver for game 5. I am happy.

And again another note...Congratulations Santosh

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If there was ever…

…an article to link up to, Michael Spenser’s ditty on Christ’s righteousness is a breath of fresh air.

In it’s entirety…may it give you a fresh (or old) perspective for your day!


And that’s about it, friends. Be glad in God! I don’t mind repeating what I have written in earlier letters, and I hope you don’t mind hearing it again. Better safe than sorry—so here goes. Steer clear of the barking dogs, those religious busybodies, all bark and no bite. All they’re interested in is appearances—knife-happy circumcisers, I call them. The real believers are the ones the Spirit of God leads to work away at this ministry, filling the air with Christ’s praise as we do it. We couldn’t carry this off by our own efforts, and we know it—even though we can list what many might think are impressive credentials. You know my pedigree: a legitimate birth, circumcised on the eighth day; an Israelite from the elite tribe of Benjamin; a strict and devout adherent to God’s law; a fiery defender of the purity of my religion, even to the point of persecuting the church; a meticulous observer of everything set down in God’s law Book. The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness. -The Message, Philippians 3:1-9

Christ’s righteousness.

That’s an important phrase in Christianity. Christ’s righteousness is the gift of righteousness that makes everything in salvation possible. Receiving the righteousness of Christ is the heart of the Gospel.

Our righteousness.

That’s another important part of the Christian message. God requires righteousness, and he commands it many different ways. He describes his people as righteous and he describes many characters in the Bible as righteous.

We know that our righteousness is not perfect. In fact, in comparison to God’s righteous nature and requirement, our righteousness is trash.

When Christ’s righteousness is credited to us, we are righteous in the Father’s sight. Everything about us may be less than perfectly righteous, but Christ’s righteousness is always acceptable and sufficient.

The gift of Christ’s righteousness, credited to me in the Gospel, is the lifeblood of the Christian life. I depend on it every moment of my existence. When I am at my best and when I have failed at my worst. From first breath to last gasp.

If the righteousness of Christ is so important, why are Christians always finding ways to create their own righteousness?


Yes, I said that Christians are constantly finding ways to create their own righteousness rather than accepting the righteousness of Christ.

Think about it.

The righteousness of knowledge. Bible knowledge included.

The righteousness of better theology, right theology, awesome theology, kick ___ theology and truly reformed theology.

The righteousness of emerging, cool, culturally hip theology.

The righteousness of my theology.

The righteousness of no theology I’m just into Jesus.

The righteousness of fundamentalism and being way beyond fundamentalism.

The righteousness of morality, doing the right thing, being prudent, walking between the lines and never having a wrong thought.

The righteousness of feeling superior because of your humility.

The righteousness of political action.

The righteousness of spiritual experience. The righteousness of hands in the air, heads bowed, swaying, twirling, dancing, not twirling, not swirling, not dancing, never thinking of raising my hands.

The righteousness of a bigger gathering, a better preacher, a growing church.

The righteousness of a better denomination, more right answers, more new churches, more creative ideas.

The righteousness of anger at sin, and the righteousness of saying you love sinners.

The righteousness of conservatism and liberalism.

The righteousness of worshiping intensity, praying a longtime, getting loud in the Spirit.

The righteousness of liturgy, prayer books, choirs and stained glass.

The righteousness of doing more than anyone else for the Kingdom.

The righteousness of big stadium events and small house churches.

The righteousness of dreams and visions.

The righteousness of exegesis and citations of scholars.

The righteousness of abstaining and moderately using.

The righteousness of legalism and not being a legalist.

The righteousness of my music, our music, worship music, anointed music.

The righteousness of silence, of talking, of singing, of preaching.

Where these kinds of righteousness are useful, or important or matter, let me have them.

But when compared to the righteousness of Christ, throw them all in the dumpster.

Give me the righteousness of Christ. Let me hunger and thirst after Christ’s righteousness.

Let me treat others as if they are clothed in Christ. Let me worship as if the righteousness of Christ is offered freely to all who believe, no matter what else they have done or not done.

Let me come to live out of, love out of, depend upon and die securely in the righteousness of Christ alone.