Tuesday, May 22, 2007


From time to time I get really homesick. This past few weeks has been one of those times. I’m so homesick I can barely function. You see I grew up in small town Southern Oregon, where men are men, women are women, and no one has had surgery to change that. Kids play in the street, keys are left in the ignition, and life moves at a slower pace. It’s my preferred mode of doing life.

A couple of times a year I get so homesick I have to make a trip home. I need the air in my lungs and the sound of the river in my ears. This weekend my wife and I are going home and I’m truly excited! It’s like my aunt said to me last night when I called to make arrangements to stay with her, she said, “Joshua, you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.” She’s absolutely right. But, as I’ve been thinking about home I’m reminded of how temporary this life is.

Over the years, as I’ve watched several of my friends die, I’ve begun to realize that in reality I have no home on this planet. If I had my choice, I’d pack up my family and move back to my hometown (and trust me, I’m seriously considering it), but even then I wouldn’t truly be home. Home is where Christ is and I won’t ever be able to find true peace until I arrive in heaven. I wish I could long of heaven like I long for my hometown. I don’t because I’ve never been there. I have no roots in heaven; I have no memories of moon pies, sweet tea, or shooting out streetlights. There are no familiar sights or sounds.

They say home is where the heart is, and that worries me a bit. Why? Because my heart has yet to long for heaven.

Monday, May 14, 2007

A Few To Many Drinks...

I’ve begun to understand something profound. Maybe it won’t hit you in the same way its hit me, but I think it’s worth a little thought. Satan is a tricky little weasel and I’ve bought one of his biggest lies. The lie is that being non-judgmental equals participation. The conduit for this lie is Christian freedoms. Let me explain.

Little by little I’ve been noticing that my generation of believers is beginning to look a lot like the culture. At first I made the mistake of calling this cultural relevance and even propagated it to a certain extent. The assumption was that in order to reach a particular culture it was imperative to immerse oneself in that culture. When the people who function within that cultural context see you are like one of them, then you will have the trust necessary to deliver the message of Christ. The problem is, Satan is smarter than we are.

As we have immersed ourselves in the culture we have failed to realize the subtle deceptions of the evil one. In an attempt to shed the traditional rules of legalistic religion and become more relevant to the culture, we have become almost as deceived as the culture itself. Granted, in most cases we haven’t sunk to the darkest pits of sinful behavior, but we have most defiantly sunk to the depths of un-holy behavior and ideals. We don’t want to judge an unbelieving world and hold them to our Christian standards so we go the opposite direction and adopt their unholy standard, and we call it “relevant” ministry. In reality it’s not relevant at all, it’s a bastardized gospel.

The gospel of Jesus is Christ is nothing if not counter cultural. Christ’s message of love, and salvation although delivered in the context of culture was never inclusive of culture. Christ hung out with some pretty seedy characters, and yet not once do I see him behaving, speaking, or participating in the questionable activities of those characters.

Unlike many of us, Christ never had to put a disclaimer on his message. He never had to say, “I know I’ve had a few to many drinks, but my father really does love you.”

Thursday, May 3, 2007

A New Discussion

I’ve been around church planting my entire life. My grandfather was a church planter, my dad is a church planter, my uncle trains church planters, and I’m planting now for the second time. The men in my family are directly responsible for planting literally hundreds of churches worldwide, and I’ve personally watched my father plant numerous churches during my lifetime, all of which are still going strong, and most of which have planted their own churches. Church planting is the only thing I really know how to do. I’ve been bottle-fed church planting since infancy, and it’s become my passion.

Church planters are an interesting breed of men, and pioneer church planters (guys who plant a church with no money, or resources) are plain old disturbed. It’s one thing to take a chunk of money and open a new church in a neighborhood; it’s another thing to “John Wayne” your way into a community and organically begin a new ministry. Although every planter would love to have funds, often times it’s not possible. Regardless, every church planter is faced with individual difficulties that although different in each community, must be answered in every context.

In my opinion, the most widely discussed topic amongst church planters (aside form monetary issues) is church structure. In others words the way in which they have, or plan to “do” church. Some guys are congregational, some elder lead, some decentralized, some house church and the list goes on and on. To make things more difficult, we categorize things even further. Some guys are denominational, some associational, some are in networks, some are autonomous, some call themselves emergent, some deny any classification (still very much a category), and some just stare at the wall. However you look at it, you’re going to fit in someone’s pigeonhole.

After all my years of living with and around church planters the conversation is the same. I wonder if this conversation pleases God? I’m spending a lot of time praying about this matter, because it seems to be so important to so many people. I guess I’m looking for God heart on issue. Does God care how we assemble if our hearts are turned towards him? Does he care if we’re denominationalized, or autonomous? What are the things God really cares about? What does God want to hear being discussed when leaders meet, and is time in discussion as valuable as time in prayer?

I love my peers, and I prayer for each of them by name, regularly. I want to see them succeed in reaching the lost for Christ, encouraging and educating the found, and impacting the culture they minister in. But, I also want to leave the secondary stuff behind and begin to dwell in the unity of our call. All of us have successes and failures. We all have stories of transformation. We have all had our backsides kicked and had to learn to lean on Christ to recover. There is so much wisdom and experience in a room when pastors gather, why do feel the need to discuss ideals?

Maybe I'm missing somehing, but I'm ready for a new discussion.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The New Bible

Loved ones, things are a change'n. Are we ready?

California Hotels Go Green With Low-Flow Toilets, Solar Lights
By Ari Levy and Carole Zimmer

April 27 (Bloomberg) -- Visitors to the Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and Spa won't find the Gideon Bible in the nightstand drawer. Instead, on the bureau will be a copy of ``An Inconvenient Truth,'' former Vice President Al Gore's book about global warming.

Read the rest of the story here. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20670001&refer=us&sid=afIESX3LdgnQ