Bruce is a close friend. We first met when he found himself in great needhe
was homeless and a guest at MAIN St. Through many long late night talks, about God, government, and particularly History
(a subject where Bruce is very gifted), we discovered a very intelligent man, whos strength was made perfect through weakness.
His presence among us, completes us, and guides us toward the God of mercy.
Church Talk "Our very psychology
has been shaken to its foundation ... to grasp the meaning of the world today we use a language created to express the world
of yesterday. The life of the past seems to us nearer our true nature, but only for the reason that it is nearer our language."
(Antoine de Saint
C.S. Lewis said this
about language; “...if a person can not communicate the Gospel in the market place language of the
day, either they don't understand it or they actually do not believe it, ... the idea being that that person is more committed
to the stability of language than the realities language seeks to express ... committed to form and not substance.
Yet another seeks greener pastures...
I have risked nearly everything to engage people into the life
of the blessed in Christ—the community of the least, only to find that no one can be trusted. Out of those who have
told me that they ‘believe’ this message, none of them are with the
poor today. Remember, those who killed the prophets...
IRS new regulations ignore First Amendment rights of churches Nov
“The IRS cannot ignore Constitutional rights of churches.” said Luke Goodrich, Deputy National
Litigation Director for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “Under the proposed regulations, the IRS can audit churches,
revoke tax exempt status or impose penalties without ever expressly considering church’s rights under the Religious
Freedom Restoration Act or the First Amendment.”
The proposed regulations govern which IRS officials can approve
an investigation into a church’s tax status. Such investigations can lead to a revocation of tax-exempt status, or other
tax penalties, for a variety of reasons.
“It is crucial for the IRS to recognize that its enforcement efforts
may unlawfully burden the free exercise of religion,” explain the Becket Fund’s comments. The comments recommend
four concrete changes to the proposed regulations: (1) The IRS should notify churches of their free exercise rights at the
beginning of an audit; (2) The IRS should attempt to minimize the burdens on free exercise rights in any church audit; (3)
IRS lawyers should expressly consider free exercise rights when they review the legality of an audit or tax adjustment; and
(4) IRS officials involved in a church audit should seek guidance from their superiors or IRS lawyers when the audit implicates
free exercise rights.
To read the full text of The Becket Fund's comments, click here
Jamie Johns, Director of Biblical Languages at Houston Baptist University and Founder of Hamoreh, talks about the Christian economy, the Gospel re-Integration project and dropping cash from helicopters.
Who are the children of God?
We cannot achieve our inherent dignity—our divine sonship and our divine daughterhood. All we can do
is awaken to it and start drawing upon it, appreciating it, reveling in it. We know we live in an inherent dignity, a dignity
that no one has given to us and no one can take from us.
And it has nothing to do with our race or religion. Hindus have it and Buddhists have it and pagans in Africa
have it. They are just as much children of God as we are. Objectively. Theologically. Eternally. Where else do you think they
came from? Did some other god create them, except THE GOD? Their divine DNA is the same as ours. We deny our supposed monotheism
if we believe anything else. --Fr Richard Rohr
It is good to wrestle with questions. Finding our way to God, or better, His finding us when we ask, without shame, "why."
The prophets had one foot in Israel and one foot outside. So must you have one foot in your faith community
and one foot in the world.
Always we have to find our love, then give our love away.
Sometimes it isn't easy to give or to see.
We must love where we are called to love, and sometimes that means loving people and institutions that really turn us off.
-- Fr Richard Rohr
It's extraordinary to me that the United States can find $700 billion to save Wall Street and the
entire G8 can't find $25 billion dollars to saved 25,000 children who die every day from preventable diseases.
Al Jazeera English spent a
day with Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw as they recorded the “Jesus for President” audio book, and visited us at
the Project HOME Alternative Seminary a while back before Shane and Chris embarked on the book tour.They included us in a larger documentary that they were doing on US politics. Here are both, Part 1 and
Jesus For President
Well, we just finished a
month long study of “Jesus for President,” with Shane and Chris from The Simple Way(Potter St & Camden House Communities) at the Alternative Seminary,
and have truly found like mindedness in the way we view God, the bible, the Church, and the world.
Although some of this was
very challenging to us personally, it was also a blessing from God in affirming our path.Most of what this book covers (ironically enough) are the very conversations
that we have been having through the coarse of the past 3 years, and the way that we have found to embody the kingdom of God,
making Christ our leader (LORD), and not the American business culture of the modern church.
We are planning to begin
our own study of this book over the summer/fall as a primer to what we believe here at Still Waters and hoping to change the shape of the Church around us.We want to thank Chris and Shane for their work, their faith, and their friendship in helping us move forward
in our work of giving voice to our friends who are the least among us in our area.Thank you guys!Blessings on the tour…
They are beginning their book tour this summer and it will end back in Philly
on July 26th.You should try to make it…
For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest,
everyone deals falsely. They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, "Peace, peace," when there is no peace.
- Jeremiah 6:13-14
I ran across this in my morning reading. I thought it to be appropriate in light of our sheltering
problems with North Coventry Township...
Ah, you who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put
bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Ah, you who are wise in your own eyes, and shrewd in your own sight! Ah,
you who are heroes in drinking wine and valiant at mixing drink, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the
innocent of their rights! - Isaiah 5:20-23
And More reading...
But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than any human authority." -
Khakis, blue jeans, and dungarees
graced the stage at this public event in San Diego. The generational differences between these three Evangelical
leaders seemed obvious. But this lively conversation revealed a shared theology that guides these three men — Chuck
Colson, Greg Boyd, and Shane Claiborne — as they interpret and live out their values in varying ways.
Justice is turned back, and
righteousness stands at a distance; for truth stumbles in the public square, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking,
and whoever turns from evil is despoiled. The Lord saw it, and it displeased [God] that there was no justice. -
When the righteous are in
authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people groan. - Proverbs 29:2-2
When the ways of people please the Lord, [God] causes even their enemies to be at
peace with them.- Proverbs 16:7
justice a king gives stability to the land, but one who makes heavy exactions ruins it.
- Proverbs 29:4
With what is
going on in our neighborhood, with regard to trying to open the shelter in the shadow of bigotry and hard-hearted neighbors,
I thought this was poignant...Kork
oppressor is no more, and destruction has ceased, and marauders have vanished from the land, then a throne shall be established
in steadfast love in the tent of David, and on it shall sit in faithfulness a ruler who seeks justice and is swift to do what
is right- Isaiah 16:4-5
Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ;
for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
- 2 Corinthians 12:10
should pray without ceasing because we cannot complete anything without God’s help.- John
Quoted in Essential Monastic Wisdom, by Hugh Feiss
Thus says the Lord God: Enough, O princes of Israel! Put away violence and oppression,
and do what is just and right. Cease your evictions of my people, says the Lord God.- Ezra 45:9-9
In the early
Christian communities, the character of the Jesus movement found expression in the abolition of social distinctions of class,
religion, race, and gender.
Mary John Mananzan
Quoted in Cry
Freedom, by Charles Ringma
is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ
God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation
to us.- 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
"When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case
someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to
you, "Give this person your place,' and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited,
go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, "Friend, move up higher'; then you will
be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who
humble themselves will be exalted."- Luke 14:8-11
Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon
the Lord? There they shall be in great terror, for God is with the company of the righteous. You would confound the plans
of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge.
- Psalms 14:4-6
Luke 10.3-6:Go on
your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet
no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house!' And if anyone is there who shares
in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.
on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals;..."
Is Jesus nuts? He tells us to go out
perfectly vulnerable! Why would he do that? Doesn't he realize that power is the way of procuring what it is that
we want and need? Doesn't he realize that setting up his kingdom would be something that's going to need capital and prestige
in order to make it great? Amazing! Doesn't he realize that we will look like fools?
I received an interesting
question this week about this mission.
The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery; they have oppressed the poor
and needy, and have extorted from the alien without redress. And I sought for anyone among them who would repair the wall
and stand in the breach before me on behalf of the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.- Ezekiel 22:29-30
Galatians 5.13 & 14:For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence,
but through love become slaves to one another.For the whole law is summed
up in a single commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Consider: Jesus, unlike Elijah, does not permit his followers to say goodbye
or even to bury their dead, for "no one who looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God." To follow Jesus is to do so wholeheartedly-there is no middle ground.
Paul reminds the Galatian community that they "were called for freedom," which is most fully expressed by the ability
"to serve one another through love."
The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery; they have oppressed the poor
and needy, and have extorted from the alien without redress. And I sought for anyone among them who would repair the wall
and stand in the breach before me on behalf of the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.- Ezekiel 22:29-30
Galatians 3.23 & 24Now before
faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed.Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith.
Consider:In this week's reading, we hear words about Abraham being "saved" by "faith," and that this faith was
unfulfilled until the coming of Christ. In between, the law was needed as a guardian to keep us on the right track and save
us from veering too far from God's will.
This scripture is translated in very different ways, and
the message itself, can become confused by our own theological viewpoint.
We are discussing if the law has been made obsolete in
When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to
get it; it shall be left for the alien, the orphan, and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all your undertakings.
- Deuteronomy 24:19
Galatians 2.19 & 21:For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God...
I do not nullify the grace of God; for
if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.
Consider: We love law. After all, it is what keeps us honest--working
together in a spirit of fairness. Without it there would be anarchy.
Interestingly, the descriptive,
terms for heresy means to depart from the commonly agreed upon orthodoxy--the conventional, mutually accepted beliefs,
standards, and norms, that we all adhere to, and understand in order to act morally within our shared culture. We have
come to believe that heresy is a departure from the law.
In our Psalm this week, we
have another pleading with God to uphold the Psalter because he is good, assured of God's mercy toward him. But he ascribes
hatred to those "evildoers" (or "heretics") who "lie and boast" and are his enemies. Are they law breakers? Heretics?
And what "laws" do they break?
Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but those who are kind to the needy honor [God].
Galatians 1.11, 15-17a
For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me
is not of human origin;...
But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace,
was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with any human being,
nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were already apostles before me, but I went...
Consider: Often, we believe that God is bound in duty to perform
for us. We silently think that when all goes wrong in our lives, that he is less than God if his deliverance is not
here when we order it-like at the drive-thru window.
Is today's Christianity a matter of good business, the latest Christian fads, like the lastest books,
self-help, methods, and movements; sophisticated Christian consumerism and entertainment; private groups, clicks, and affinity
groups; filling our heads with information and theory? Is this where we find God? Is this where we walk with Jesus?
Is this our prophetic voice?
Do not rob the poor because they are poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate; for the Lord pleads
their cause and despoils of life those who despoil them.
- Proverbs 22:22-23
On June 1 at 12:45 pm Melvin Moore passed away.
There are so many people
in pain over his loss.Nancy is very broken, but as a church family we seek to
find God’s profound grace to Melvin and us.
Melvin has undergone some
of the most trying times in the last year.It was a year ago almost to the day
that we took him to the hospital for a terrible foot problem that was gangrenous from diabetic circulation problems.
For the next 5 months, he
suffered 3 different amputations, finally resulting in the loss of his leg below the knee.All the while Melvin was shuffled back and forth from the nursing rehab in Norristown, to LehighValleyMedicalCenter in Allentown, PA.His
entire ordeal lasted 9 months, with two weekend home visits at Christmas and New Years.Finally, in February, Melvin was released with visiting nurses caring for him.We had a wonderful two months, where Melvin enjoyed church and Tabernacle a great deal.
Melvin seemed to be getting
very weak and frustrated.After church one Tuesday evening a couple weeks ago,
we were very concerned for him.He was exhausted.The next morning Nancy called 911.Melvin was in a diabetic coma and was rushed to the ReadingHospital.There, they found
a cancerous tumor in his neck which seemed to grow overnight, cutting off his throat.He was in intensive care for a week and seemed to be coming around although he could not talk very much.
Further tests showed that
the cancer was advanced lung cancer and was very aggressive.Any measures to
provide him treatment would kill him, and there was no hope for getting past this.We
were socked at the reality of the situation as the doctors gave Melvin weeks to live.Melvin has already been through so much…The family has already
been through so much, and now this.
Melvin’s children were
able to come to his side this week, from North Carolina and Colorado.In only a few days Melvin deteriorated
to skin over bone, and the smallest movement seemed to exhaust him, yet he was very happy that his kids were there with him.Melvin went on hospice care on Thursday, May 31st, and the family had the
agonizing chore of making plans for the inevitable.
We had a great meeting alone
with the family where we truly counted ours, and Melvin’s blessings.I
told them the story how Melvin and I first met.Not a pretty story at all—we
did not like each other, in fact I sent Melvin to jail some 12 years ago.Oddly
enough, when he was released, he came to “the Lot” where we do the Table Ministry
to find me.A smile and a hug was my repayment for incarceration.Hmmm…
There were of course ups
and downs thereafter, but we were always connected in some way.
was living with her daughter Franny, where we had our first home church, and Nancy
would never miss.Melvin would stay in the other room even after they were able
to move into their own apartment.Slowly, we noticed that the TV would be turned
off while we had church service at their new apartment (yes, Melvin opened his home to the church).After a while, he started to move toward the door in his bedroom, listening down the hallway to the service.Later, he was attending.That is when
his medical problems began.
Through his medical ordeal,
the church was very faithful to he and Nancy.He enjoyed visits and we became
very close.During the time after his discharge from the rehab, until his last
struggle, I had never seen Melvin so happy.Everyone who knew him saw “light
in his eyes.”He had peace with God and significant changes in his life
were evident.His home church was my favorite, and the best part of the evening
was thanking Melvin for opening his house, exchanging “I love you,” and a hug.All this from where we began… what a blessing!
In that little room, we thought
about how God blessed us all; that as Melvin was about to go home, his whole family was able to be around him; he was given
time to say goodbye; as most would find bitterness in a difficult time during his amputation(s), Melvin found peace with God
and the Church—so much peace as to bless his church.Melvin’s life
in the past year and a half was significantly different that before.Through
the trials, his journey with God improved day-by-day.He had run his race and
kept the faith.
I am reminded of the scripture:
“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first, and said,
‘Son, go work today in my vineyard.’ He answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he repented himself,
and went. He came to the second, and said likewise. He answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but he didn’t go. Which of
the two did the will of his father?” They said to him, “The first.” Jesus says to them, “Most assuredly
I tell you, that the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering into the kingdom
of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness,
and you didn’t believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. When you saw it, you didn’t
even repent afterward, that you might believe him.”Matt. 21.28-32
As I knew Melvin, he began
with difficulty, but finished well with man and God.
Melvin was obedient till
the end and I’ll miss my friend who meant so much to me.He has shown me
more about Jesus and the way of the kingdom than most scholars.I can’t
wait to tell him that…
We wanted to take a fishing
trip, just he and I, sitting with bobbers and talking, but I guess we will have to wait, and make it a reunion as well.
This year, the Christian Vision Project asked a select
group of church leaders, What must we learn, and unlearn, to be agents of God's mission in the world? Christopher
Wright's answer—an urge for believers to rethink the meaning of mission, whether your mission field is across the ocean
or across the street.
A Very Simple Question... I
have been struggling with how church is done. What's new about that?
In my desire to operate in Christ's Kingdom community (you know, actually becoming a disciple-following Jesus
into his work and will in the earth), I have had some offensive discussions within the church at large.
Everybody seems to have figured out individually different Christs that they follow.
The "teaching church" believes that dispensing information in a classroom setting is who Jesus is; the "worshiping
church" thinks that contemporary songs and remaking hymns in a sheltered subculture is what Jesus was building; the "administrative
church" thinks that moving money into programs to "minister" from a distance is Jesus' "Way;" and the "Business Model" church
encounters Jesus as a CEO, his managers are the clergy, his supervisors are deacons, and his employees are the laity.
(I know this is not thorough, but please let's not get sidetracked.)
The trouble being (I think) that there is only One Jesus... Right? I think that I
have encountered him in the scriptures, and have seen lots of examples of what is important to him, as well as what isn't.
(I am not talking about gifts at this time (different people serving in different ways), although
they are important to the total church).
I am a church planter. I've started a church under, not the most ideal circumstances from a "Church
Business" standpoint, and have been told such things as Still Waters is not a church, "[we] only do ministry." Also
things like, "losers don't make for a healthy church."
As we started out, our mission was to follow Christ into his work in the world; connecting with the undesirables
in our area in genuine friendship, and helping the more affluent community (church folk) into their lives and service.
As Christ's disciples, we find him doing this throughout the gospels.
There is one thing that I am sure of; that Jesus befriended and identified with those who were struggling
on the margins, and had little respect for the comfortable, affluent religious types who thought that they were better, more
educated, clever and religiously right.
I've been told to "pastor" building a church. I sense that the clergy has no room for actually touching
the undesirable personally and to the point of inconvenience. We have heard that we are helping the wrong people, and
in the wrong way. Again, I've been told that this is not a church.
We have applied for a grant within our own fellowship of churches, beginning communication with them in October
2004, and still have had no answers to probably one of the most thorough applications that many professional grant writers
have witnessed, let alone unanswered emails, and unanswered questions. Could it be that they fear that we will waist
the funding on helping the wrong people? I don't know...
I would like some dialog to help me figure this out...
Beginning with this question: Is Jesus a pastor? And, did Jesus
plant a church? Careful now...
Looking forward to hearing your answers. Click HERE to comment.
Letter to the Mercury Op-ed: January 22, 2007
We Have a Chance to Save Countless Lives
Did you know that right now, Congress has an incredible
opportunity to continue saving millions of lives in the world's poorest countries by fully funding the fight against global
AIDS and extreme poverty.
The last Congress left nine critical spending
bills unfinished leaving the new Congress the difficult work of allocating our 2007 budget; a daunting task to be sure.At stake is $1 billion vital to continuing to provide clean water, education and life-saving
medicines to people in Africa
and the world's poorest countries.
There are few places in the U.S. budget where dollars translate so directly into lives
saved.Without this funding, 350,000 people will not receive life-saving AIDS
medicines, nearly 1 million anti-malaria bednets will not be distributed and 120,000 people will not receive treatment for
As a member of Christ's Church, Still Waters churches,
the clergy, the ONE Campaign, The Ministries at Main Street,
and a member of the global community, I strongly encourage Congress to protect this funding and ensure our commitment as Americans,
to continue the fight against extreme poverty and global HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
America's example and will to do good in the world,
exercising moral assistance to those needing help, models our best to the world in the tradition of compassion and generosity.
Please write your Congressional Leaders asking
them to continue this effort with your dollars as your representatives. Together, we can give the world's poorest people the
tools they need to overcome extreme poverty, giving them the gift, and the chance for a hopeful future.
In my view, it is our moral imperative to act
at a time such as this.
Still Waters churches & worship center
The Ministries at MAIN Street
Desmond Tutu in Today's Post
10:30 PM Jan 15, 2007
Last week, over 70,000 ONE members sent over
200,000 letters to Congress, urging our government to save nearly a billion dollars for AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria programs.
Today, Archbishop Desmund Tutu, one of the
most remarkable leaders of our time, asks Congress to fund the fight and "remind the world of the good that can be done in
the name of the American people."
"The U.S. government has repeatedly promised to combat HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis
and malaria: At the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000 and as a member of the Group of Eight the United States committed
to the goal of universal access for HIV-AIDS prevention and treatment by 2010. However, the funding resolution Congress is
considering would shortchange and potentially sabotage every American program to address these diseases, leaving innocent
people in its wake...
"It is a sign of our breakdown as one human family. Worldwide, we have made stops
and starts at healing this rift and keeping our promises to one another. But if Congress does not act to restore that $1 billion
for global health, poverty alleviation and foreign aid, the rift will only grow wider and healing will be further beyond our
"As we honor the life and vision of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. today, I
hope and pray that Congress will choose the righteous path, the path that will save tens of thousands of lives and give countless
children opportunities and hope they have never before imagined. I join the world in watching, and waiting for its decision."
I found this on Scot McKnight’s Blog “Jesus Creed” this morning...
been saying for a long, long time that “emerging” is more than philosophy and theology and progressive thinking.
In fact, it is about “how to do church.” Our local paper, The Daily Herald, has a front-page story about homes
becoming the house of God. This is no small element of the emerging movement. The challenge for all churches is whether or
not they will shift to include such groups as central to what “church” is all about. Church needs to move to the
Can a home be a house of God? An increasing number
of Christians are moving from cavernous churches to worship in a more intimate setting - their homes. BY LISA SMITH Daily Herald Staff Writer, Posted Sunday, December 24, 2006
There are no pews and no altar, just six chairs arranged in a circle.
There is no pastor relating Scripture to contemporary American life, just a group of friends discussing spirituality.
bread nor wine is offered. Most who walk in are clutching cups of Starbucks coffee.
Yet the people who enter this Arlington
Heights living room every Sunday morning label this gathering - and themselves - church.
“We have a deep conviction
that we grow spiritually when we’re in relationships,” said Andy Padjen, 33, who has been hosting this weekly
get-together for about the past year. “We feel like a lot of times there’s some structure and theology in the
institutional church that limit people’s intimacy with each other. So we’re all about making relationships central,
helping people to be known and loved.”
That’s something that attracted Curtis Anderson to the group after
a lifetime of involvement in traditional churches. Getting to know Padjen and the others in the group has made the Lake in
the Hills resident feel closer to God.
Hard to Be Like Jesus Why would anyone choose
to follow a God who promises more hardship, not less? Exposing the myth of a prosperity gospel. By Philip Yancey
In my visits to churches overseas, one difference from North American
Christians stands out sharply: their view of hardship and suffering. We who live in an age of unprecedented comfort seem obsessed
with the problem of pain. Skeptics mention it as a major roadblock to faith, and believers struggle to come to terms with
it. Prayer meetings in the U.S. often focus on illnesses and requests for healing. Not
I asked a man who visits unregistered house churches in China whether Christians there pray for a change in harsh
government policies. After thinking for a moment, he replied that not once had he heard a Chinese Christian pray for relief.
"They assume they'll face opposition," he said. "They can't imagine
anything else." He then gave some examples.
is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to
be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take
any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if
I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship.
Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can
continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you?
Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.1
Many have, of course, read these words, and
many more will read them—even agree with them.But the modern, western,
Christian cultural, rational, mind will coddle itself into a numb selfish convenient forgetfulness that will later insulate
itself with the "low road" of "well I’m only human—nobody is perfect—everyone has issues" excuse. "After all I believe that God would never want me to feel uncomfortable."
Sadly, Sacramentis is closing—but
for a better Christ worship.
Here is their closing statement.
It is appropriate
for us to note what they are saying, for it is the stuff that we have been trying to embody. It is the Christ-likeness
that we try to be. Please take their statement seriously--it is important to God.
An End... And a Beginning.
Sacramentis has been a pioneer
site on worship and culture for seven years. From the beginning, it has been a gathering spot for the best worship resources
available. Sacramentis has also been a place where church leaders could go deeper into what classic Christian worship is and
does, and where they could re-imagine worship for communities where church-going is no longer the norm. From your letters
of support and encouragement, it seems we were able to accomplish these two goals. For that, we are grateful.
We regret that our site has
been down for so long and apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you. We had hoped to put Sacramentis back on the
web this month, and had been working toward that end. However, we have simply come to realize that it is time to move on.
Sacramentis still believes strongly that corporate worship is central to the life and vitality of the Church. But we have
become convinced that the primary meeting place with our unchurched friends is now outside the church building. Worship must
finally become, as Paul reminds us, more life than event. (Romans 12:1,2)
To this end, Sally Morgenthaler
and the rest of the Sacramentis team will be focusing on the radically different kind of leadership it will take to transform
our congregations from destinations to conversations, from services to service, and from organization to organism.
We have valued our community
with you these past seven years. Your support has been integral to keeping Sacramentis vital and responsive to the shifting
needs of congregations in the midst of worship change. We can’t thank
you enough for your friendship, and for your own pioneering work in thousands of congregations across the U.S.
and around the globe.
Sacramentis may be ending,
but the crucial work of connecting people with God continues. We invite you to continue the conversation as we explore what
new-world leadership looks like at its best.
Pete Rollins has released his first book. A challenging book. "How (Not) To Speak of God" is a thoughtful and original book, delivering some heavy-duty thinking from Marion and Derrida in a manner
that is accessible and profound, and offering a fresh perspective on the Scriptures that moves the emerging conversation out
of binary oppositions and into the love of God. Heres an excerpt:
"In this way the emerging conversation is demonstrating an ability to stand up and engage in
a powerless, space-creating dis-course that opens up thinking and offers hints rather than orders. In short, the emerging
community must endevour to be a question rather than an answer and an aroma rather than food. It must seek to offer an approach
that enables the people of God to become the parable, aroma, and salt of God in the world, helping to form a space where God
can give of God. For too long the church has been seen as an oasis in the desert - offering water to those who are thirsty.
In contrast, the emerging community appears more as a desert in the oasis of life, offering silence, space and desolation
amidst the sickly nourishment of Western capitalism. It is in this desert, as we wander together as nomads, that God is to
be found. For it is here that we are nourished by our hunger." Pete Rollins,
How (Not) to Speak of God, pg 42-43.
Brian McLaren on The Da Vinci Code
An interview by Lisa Ann Cockrel
With The Da Vinci Code poised to go from bestseller list to the big screen
on May 19, pastor and writer, Brian McLaren talks about why he thinks there's truth in the controversial book's fiction.
Holy Week is terrible.It is a time when we intentionally remember the suffering of our LORD; both physically and mentally.As lent draws to a close, we continue to find ourselves in the desert experience of
self denial—embracing, the obedience to God found only through suffering.
I am certainly not speaking of
self mutilation, or a doctrine of works as a way to acceptance by God, but in very real tangible ways, embracing God’s
journey through picking up our own cross, following Jesus, and in reverent ways finding the things that we hold higher than
Him; putting them away as an act of worship.
Joy is found in the closeness
of God as we draw nearer to Him, but this joy is very conflicted.There is a
terrible agony realizing the deadly seriousness of God’s love for us.The
physical pain that Jesus endured is emotionally painful for us as we realize the physical cost; but as we draw near to the
end of our “Lenten Desert,” our heightened awareness and sensitivity to the spiritual seriousness of our lack
of “acceptance” of God and His priority in our lives; our consideration of Him and His mission, is staggering.
Not staying awake with Him for
one hour, pales in comparison to the things that we hold in higher esteem than Him.I am feeling the personal conflict of the joy of appreciation to Him, and the pain of knowing the agonizing price he
paid for me.
I do know that there are folks
who are part of us, who simply didn’t want to do this—with reasons galore—telling themselves, “what’s
the point…this won’t change anything.”True, for those unwilling
to place one foot closer to our risen LORD, this exercise was futile.It is impossible
to steer a parked car… But, I know of a few, whom through this observance, life as they once knew it is ending and a
new journey – a new life – is beginning.
I am still conflicted by the
joy of drawing close to Jesus at this time, and the heartbreaking reality of what Jesus suffered as we observe the last leg
of our journey through Holy Week.This is another kind of pain which we will
embrace anew – looking forward to the real thrill of Resurrection.
Today is Maundy Thursday Service
at the Moyer’s 7:00 pm.Tomorrow —Good Friday— we will show
“the Passion of the Christ” on the corner of York and King Sts in the courtyard.Sunday will be the Victory Celebration!
Until then, please consider what
it cost God to let you know how deadly serious is His love for you…
by Kork 4/13/06 - Maundy Thursday
As a Worshiper, Gerrit Gustafson
is a giant—teaching a generation the lost art of worshiping God – not only through music, but as a matter of life.This is the real business of our existence.It is something so vulnerable, yet so powerful, and yet the delicacy of understanding its nuance is a life long journey.As we put it at Still Waters, God cares about our “Want To,” the rest
is a loving expression of that want to.
This makes our lives beautiful, and noticeably connected to the God who loves the world.We become a reflection—a light.
Gerrit’s words are completely fitting with our Lenten conversation.
"I am serene. I have full awareness of what I have chosen ... If I must die, I will
die. Somebody, a long time ago, did it for all of us ... I never thought it would end this way. But I am ready to face the
- Abdul Rahman, an Afghan convert to Christianity, quoted in AP
Welcome to Lent 4
We have been trying
to walking through “the desert” experience, surrendering things; attitudes, food, time, etc.In short, surrendering comforts—some necessary, some totally selfish in nature.
During lent, we are seeking
to overthrow “the powers” that we, in our comfort believe that we deserve; God owing us an easy walk through life.The “powers” that we are looking to off, are the cooperation with the
group evil that we breathe in and out every day; the compromise of believing we are of the world—and that it’s
not heartbreaking to our holy God.Like fish, unaware of the water that supports
them, we too are unaware of the junk that we have adopted and use to support our own selfishness, out of our fallen culture
that we breathe in and out every moment.
Christianity in our United
States is easy.We say that we will change things
“for the Kingdom,” and then adopt every devilish tact that the world employs to accomplish things.Church has become business.The price of admission is the
“tithe.” Help and support for the poor and distant, takes the form
of begging and coddling selfish Christianity to do what an in dwelling compassionate Christ would naturally do (and has modeled
for us).Instead, marketing ploys, administrative hurtles, church hierarchies,
and church business, ties the hands of the easy yoke of loving our neighbors as our selves.You can “encourage” people to give to a building project so that “our Christian kids can play basketball
in a positive surrounding.”But prying dollars out of the church for people
who have nothing is like the proverbial “blood from a stone.”“After
all we want good stewardship with our tithe and these poor folk might waste it.Let’s
make sure it’s not abused…”If they do, how will we be able
to build that new wing that we need for two hours use every Sunday morning.”
We are even proposed programs
that give to those who already have, neglecting those who are struggling.“He
who has will be given more, and he who has not, even that which he has will be taken from him…” will quite obviously
be thrown out as a proof text for this kind of thinking.If anyone is tempted
to embrace their own selfishness, using this as a pass, please reconsider… taking a closer look might heap burning coals
Taking lent seriously, is
quite dangerous.It WILL change you, as Christ promises that “he who seeks
shall find.”I am brokenhearted through this, but not for the poor.I am struggling with broken promises from church people; folks that have totally embraced
the politics of governing church—“the powers” in their thinking and actions, while neglecting family, church,
the poor, heaping heavy loads on folks, while they are crushed by the weight of their own compromise; putting forth the pretense
that they are okay—following Christ.In the shadow of this, I am seeing
people with mental illness, without money, living in tenements, loving and worshiping God with as much of their life that
they can muster.
I am so frustrated with Christendom
as I watch.The church simply does not look very much like the Christ, shown
through scripture; not very sacrificial, loving, or compassionate—but they do have their statistics, their Purpose Statements,
their 3 year and 5 year plans, their growth strategy, their Board of Directors, their “target audience,” their
marketing strategy.They look good on the outside—very professional, catering
to every whim of consumer driven, comfortable Christian narcissism—buying
and selling goods and services to those who want more, faster, bigger, better, easier lives.
It would seem by our standards, Jesus was an unqualified,
undeserving, bozo, incompetent as a church planter (under Riddley’s assessment), who seemed a little to free for the
“establishment,” – "the powers” – a loser of the highest order because He was not prepared with
his demographics, pie charts, and couldn’t seem to get people to stick with the church.Didn’t he realize that if he just would have cooperated (even a little), maybe they would not have killed him?
Didn’t he realize that if he just would have marketed this thing right that maybe the church would have
spread faster with a more “positive spin” instead of through the negative persecution of Rome?Maybe people would have stuck around long
enough to buy him time to really convince, or better yet convert them with a simple prayer.Maybe he should have provided better goods and services, utilizing the assets at his disposal in the Apostles to take
surveys, and crunch numbers to compile into the right data, in preparing the right people for leadership roles, and placing
them into the right role through questionnaires to see if they are a good fit.And
maybe the apostles should have studied under the right tutelage in a proper university, earning the right credentials to wield
these “tools” toward a better marketed product.
Jesus loved the Father.The Spirit shown in Him drove Him into the desert where He wrestled with the air that
He was brought up in.He had compassion for the least and far off—yes,
including the religious establishment.He walked with people in love; was emotional,
compassionate, uncompromising in his devotion to people and the Father.
Yes, Jesus was tempted, He
loved, He died, and rose again.There is no resurrection without a death.The desert struggle of lent is where we put ourselves to death, embracing our cross
in denial of the comfort and compromise of the “powers” that we have, and are cooperating with each day.
This Friday evening (the
31st) at 8:30 pm, Taylor and I are going to sleep out at Washington & Chestnut streets in Pottstown.We are not doing this to raise money, or for some political cause (although the official
National Sleep Out will be), or to think more highly of ourselves.We are doing
it as a way to glimps a meagar understand, only for one night, of the terror of not having a home.
Maybe this will change something in us—making us more compassionate and understanding.I am inviting you to join us.But be warned, we could be hassled
by police.We could be hassled by nasty people.We are not assured of anything and this is not planned.We will be looking
to be as vulnerable as anyone might be in this situation.Of course we have an
“out” at the end of the night when we go home.But, it is walking
a mile in another’s shoes.
We will meet at my home at
7:30 pm.Bring a blanket, no money, and a desire for God to change you.
I am also open to suggestions.We will be talking about God, a lot!
by Kork March 29, 2006
"There is only one kind of a life that truly wins, and that is the one that places faith in the hands of the Savior.
Until that is done, we are on an aimless course that runs in circles and goes nowhere. Material possessions, winning scores,
and great reputations are meaningless in the eyes of the Lord, because He knows what we really are and that is all that matters."
- John Wooden
Posted by Kork 3/25/06Thank you Betty for sending this...
Planting a new church is hard.The hardest thing that I’ve ever
had a preconceived notion, going into this adventure, that certainly this will be “hard,” anything worthwhile
is hard work.Right?What I didn’t
realize is that this was going to be “HARD!”Especially for someone
with an inferiority complex, and who never really marched to the same drummer!(Sorry for the reference Buzz.)
I have expended so many words
to clarify who God is, and what He is like, to so many different people, and still wonder if I am talking a different language
all together. Sometimes expending lots of effort and seeing little change in
people. The answer to that is, of course I’m talking a different language—and
I don’t mean that coded Christian lingo that only the seasoned “Believer” understands (or perhaps doesn’t
understand), using words like “testimony,” “sanctified,” “under the blood,” “spiritual
warfare,” and the ever popular, “I only pulled a ‘David’,(for those
of you who don’t know what this means, it’s to excuse our own personal sin)” to name a few.Finding the right words and
actions to explain God’s love and mercy are foreign ideas to those who have been shown terrible examples in today’s
However, I can often seem
to be talking a different language within the community of Christ where words and ideas flow freely—so freely in fact,
that I think that we can become so comfortable with these ideas, that as the church culture imports ideas from other sources
(for instance business models for running organizations), subtly our Christian words begin to take on whole new meanings—later
to believe that these new ideas were the original intent handed to God’s people through the Bible.I am not a Christian exclusivist (anyone who knows me can vouch), and I love truly including those from
the secular world, and the other side of the tracks, if you will, in the fabric of our church, just as I believe Jesus did;
But exchanging ideas, let alone the message of making the struggles of the poor personal,
within these circles of conversation are really difficult in today’s comfortable church.We can loose whole meanings due to our comfortable use of Christian words, becoming complacent in our American Church
One example of this whole
language struggle is in the area of Church growth discussions; something near and dear to me at this juncture.When talking with planters who have churches bigger than ours,
inevitably, the questions navigates to, “so how many people do you have.”Not to mention the discussion on planting “technique.”Folks
with bigger established churches (and not planting at all), can talk using biblical illustrations selectively, pointing to
how successful they are, centering on budgets and people numbers.
I’m a story guy.I like being with people and each one has a story to tell—where they are, and
where they are going.It is wonderful for me to think back on where some people
near and dear to me have been, and their journey to Jesus.I am amazed at these
stories and our God.They are my heroes; and they include folks like John Kearney,
and Taylor (my son).Amazing stories of God loving them into His family and worship!Not numbers.
Yeah, I think that I’ll
always feel like Shemp compared to the Mo’s and Larry’s of church planting, wondering if all this is worth it.
The Adventure of Worship:Discovering
Your Highest Calling.
is an excerpt:
Conviction #1: Worship
& God's Love This first Conviction is simple, but challenging.
It goes like this: Worship is a response to God’s great love.
Learning worship does not start with learning techniques. It begins with trusting God’s kindness toward you.
When Paul urged us to present ourselves to God as living sacrifices, he began with the phrase “in view of God’s
mercy.” In other words: Since we know God’s great love for us, let’s worship. If we do not personally know God’s love, our worship will be forced and mechanical...
I like Gerrit and have had occasion to talk with him.His Worship Schools programs are wonderful and I’d like to invite him to Still Waters to conduct
one of them.
Worship is the HIGHEST priority for our church, not because I love
it, but because God does.I am frightened by people who have such a low regard
for emptying themselves before God, and even in the “New” enthusiasm toward worship in today’s church, God
can (and most of the time does) find Himself playing second chair to the new “Worship Idols.”
Today’s church is in dire need of reclaiming our first priority
– GOD!Loving Him, Worshiping Him, Serving Him, and Honoring Him in all
areas of life by the overflow.That is our calling.Anything less is idolatry.
also click HERE to read another article by Bruce Leafblad, highlighting
the importance of worshiping God rightly.Worship 101
I love C-SPAN.And watching yesterday what do I find?Bono of U2 delivering a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast!!
This speech is being heralded
in the company of such notables as Mother Theresa’s speech about the sacredness of life and raising the issue of abortion with the Clintons
present, and Sen. Mark Hatfield’s speech noting the moral "shame" of the Vietnam War in the presence of Richard Nixon
and Henry Kissinger.
Jim Wallis of Sojourners notes, “Bono spoke like a modern-day prophet about extreme global poverty and pandemic
disease and called upon the American government, with George Bush and Congressional leaders present, to do much more.”
“The speech, was the most explicit about religion and the role of faith that I had ever heard Bono deliver,
and his insistence on the biblical requirements of justice and not just charity was reiterated over and over again. In a small
session with religious editors afterward, Bono spoke about how the churches had led on the issue of debt cancellation with
the Jubilee 2000 campaign, on HIV/AIDS, and now on global poverty reduction. "You're the bigger crowd," he said, "much more
than my stadium audiences." He said the church will just hear "fanfare" from musicians.”
Watching this speech with my son nearly brought us both to tears.This
was the prophetic, and God’s voice to the church today.He did not divide
or condemn, politically choosing sides—he unashamedly chose God’s side and the room was breathless while he shared
this alter call to us—rich America.I am still trying to understand if I was watching a tipping point for the church to
take seriously God’s call to be a light to the nations, and do for the least, blessing Christ.Was this a moment to be remembered?
Please click here to read the entire speech.And ask God what He would have you to do at this crossroad
in His church.
What I considered a horrible idea turned into a moment of transformation. “...we
should build a confession booth in the middle of campus and paint a sign on it that said "Confess your sins."
"Okay, you guys…Here's the catch." He leaned in a little. "We are not actually
going to accept confessions." We all looked at him in confusion. "We are going to confess to them. We are going to confess
that, as followers of Jesus, we have not been very loving; we have been bitter, and for that we are sorry. We will apologize
for the Crusades, we will apologize for televangelists, we will apologize for neglecting the poor and the lonely, we will
ask them to forgive us, and we will tell them that in our selfishness, we have misrepresented Jesus on this campus. We will
tell people who come into the booth that Jesus loves them."
was a student and campus ministry leader at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, a decidedly secular and highly intellectual
place that Princeton Review named "the college where students are most likely to ignore God." In his book Blue Like Jazz (Nelson, 2003), Miller tells of an unlikely event
that introduced him to the mysteries of spiritual transformation.
A friend sent this to me this morning; a beautiful story totally expressing what we are to be as followers
of Jesus. Thank you Tanya for sending this to
"It is not love in the abstract that counts.
Men have loved a cause as they have loved a woman. They have loved the brotherhood, the workers, the poor, the oppressed -
but they have not loved [humanity]; they have not loved the least of these. They have not loved "personally." It is hard to
love. It is the hardest thing in the world, naturally speaking. Have you ever read Tolstoy's Resurrection? He tells
of political prisoners in a long prison train, enduring chains and persecution for the love of their brothers, ignoring those
same brothers on the long trek to Siberia. It is never the brothers right next to us, but the brothers in the abstract that are easy to
- Dorothy Day,
social activist and founder of the Catholic Worker movement. Nov. 29 was the 25th anniversary of Day's death.
together have been unfolding a personal story about Israel’s turning from God, not in the big things most of the time—like
worshiping foreign gods, but how most of their turning (and ours) was over the little things—the not caring very much
what we do in the course of the every day things—not including God in the simple.Glorying in our own accomplishments and personal reformations to the exclusion of others.
have also been talking about losing sight of how BIG God is… making him as small as us, and not exalting Him in our
own hearts to where He belongs—enthroned.
apocalyptic language of some of these scriptures is a lesson to us that deciding to go our own way, reaping the shipwreck
of sailing the waters of this world without God navigating, will ultimately bring us to a place of pleading Him back to us,
relinquishing our personal autonomy, and worth-ing Him anew.
our world comes to an end, will we be utterly alone, or standing with the King, born, not in good or ideal circumstances,
by in the feeding trough of the family farm animals? If I am standing with God, all else seems insignificant.These are attitudes (barometers) of worship.Our attitude
toward, unashamedly, worshiping Jesus, expose who we really are.
Advent and Christmas (on Sunday this year) let’s examine our worship barometer.
can’t say it better than the quotes below…
"And Mary said, "My soul
magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior." Luke 1:46 - 47 Praise is the spontaneous response of a grateful
child of God in His presence. The person who knows God and experiences Him intimately sings to the Lord with deepest praise!
Mary was overwhelmed by the Lord's goodness to her. In response, she sang one of the most beautiful and profound songs of
praise found in Scripture."Henry Blackaby
"Have I allowed my personal
human life to become a 'Bethlehem' for the Son of
Let’s, like the simple
shepherds, recapture the awe and wonder of worshiping God in the flesh.Jesus,
Posted by Kork, November 30, 2005
"There is a constant tendency in the church to trivialize the nature of salvation, as if it is no more
than a self-reformation, or the forgiveness of our sins, or a personal passport to paradise, or a private mystical experience
without social or moral consequences. It is urgent that we rescue salvation from these caricatures and recover the doctrine
in its biblical fullness."
- John R. W. Stott, Being a Responsible Christian in a Non-Christian Society
was sent to me yesterday by a friend…
is a definition of what Evangelicalism has become, from one of the foremost Evangelical leaders of the past fifty years. We really need to wakeup to how we embody the church.This is how we are viewed because this is what we have become…
Kork, Novvember 8, 2005
"Evangelicalism is variously defined by various people. I define it as the religion
of Trinitarian Bible-believers who glory in Christ's Cross as the only source of peace with God and seek to share their faith
with others; and I note that in the West (to look no further) evangelicalism, like Protestant liberalism, Roman Catholicism
of all stripes, and Eastern Orthodoxy, has a communal mindset of its own.
Factors shaping that mindset during the past half-century
include the dogmatic, devotional, apologetic and activist nurture given in evangelical churches and parachurch movements;
the reading matter (books, journals, magazines) that evangelicals produce for each other; the feeling of superior faithfulness
to the Bible, its God and its Christ, which evangelical institutions cultivate; a sense of being threatened by the big battalions
of the liberal Protestant, Roman Catholic, and American secular establishments, leading to bluster when these ideological
power bases are discussed; a passion for effective evangelism; and an idealizing of scholars and leaders as gurus, whence
a sense of betrayal and outrage surfaces if any of these are felt to be stepping out of line.
Within the distinctive corporate identity of evangelicalism
an awareness of privilege and vocation, a siege mentality, a low flashpoint in debate, a certain verbal violence, and a tendency
to shoot our own wounded - all obtrude.
"Whether the movement's recent recovery of confidence
and burgeoning intellectual life are mellowing this raw mindset is not yet clear; certainly, however, the rigidities hinted
at above have been apparent as evangelicals have intramurally debated ..."
"The trust we put in God honors Him and draws down His great grace. It was impossible not only that God should
deceive but that He should long let a soul suffer which is perfectly resigned to Him and resolved to endure everything for
His sake." Brother Lawrence
"It’s not what one does, nor is it what one says,
but it is what one thinks that makes the man. Because what one thinks determines what he will say and do. A person may try
to make his words and actions be much different than he actually thinks, but it will all be in vain."(From
Streams in the Desert)
"Life consists in what a
man is thinking of all day."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Into the ear flows the sound...
to chime the senses and tug earnestly on a waiting imagination; then
to be sifted by the heart for glimmers of gold, and whatever sustains becomes engraved in the soul. It is
truly a language.
Buzz Saylor, Simon Apple
“God is immanent within human experience as the transcendent mystery that cannot be comprehended in spite of its
Theologians Stanley Grenz and Roger Olsen
“Our culture in
general has little time for quietness, and when faced with moments of stillness, many of us rush in to fill the space not
knowing how to handle it.”
“It’s only as we breathe in more of the
wonders of God that we can breathe out a fuller response to Him.”
God has entrusted us with his most precious treasure—people.
He asks us to shepherd and mold them into strong disciples, with brave faith, and good character. I would not give my life
to any church that was not serious about this calling—the transformation of human beings. God has decided, for his own
good reasons, that people are not transformed outside of community.
5 practices that take small groups
beyond polite "sharing" to the disciplines that change lives. by John Ortberg
As a church planter, planting what some might term an emerging type of church, I sometimes
feel as though we are engaged in an up-hill battle for significance.I mean,
the doing and being church, living in tension with information exchange – teaching Christianity, type of church.
Working with people that have very little, I can become overwhelmed with the prospect that
our church can economically fold at any given moment, while churches that seem to succeed can seem to be of the “boomer”
Right now, while we are going through a cultural shift, I must admit that sometimes I think
that it would be easier to just plant a traditional church and not worry about money and significance so much.Here is an article that gives us a lot to think about.
Kork Oct. 6, 2005
church planting in a chaordic age
need to watch the margins of our society - the inner cities and the rural areas where creative approaches are emerging, often
born in despair. And so when desperation forces us to let go of the old ways, God can bring new life.” Anne Wilkerson-Hayes.
"New Ways of Being the Church." GOCN Vol.13, No.2, June, 2001, 7
been reading the Still Waters website for about a month. Last night I read what
you wrote in your "Thoughts" section, where you said that sometimes you think that it would be so much easier to plant a traditional
church than to plant the kind of church you are working on now. No doubt you
are completely right about that--it would be. Though I imagine that there is
no real danger of you truly going in that direction, I did want to write and encourage you to continue on with the church
you are building.
until six months ago, I had spent eight years on staff at two churches--four years at a church restart, and then four years
at a traditional church that said it wanted to "transform". During those eight
years I had worked with countless other churches. Without exception, every one
of those churches were more interested in getting people to "come and join their church" than they were about showing the
love of Jesus to people unconditionally, with "no strings attached." Their goal,
their bottom line, was to get people into the church so they would have more members, more money, and more people to do "stuff".
It really had very little, if anything, to do with spreading the love and truth
all that to say, that it has been refreshing and encouraging to actually see a church in this area striving to truly BE the
church. Though I know that it can be very difficult, discouraging, disheartening,
and frightening sometimes to be called to raise up people to be the church, you are truly fulfilling the mission of Jesus.
will continue to pray for your ministry--that God gives you clear wisdom and guidance; that He provides for all of your needs
and gives you all of the resources you need to build a strong, thriving, Christ-centered ministry; that He protects you and
your family--and that He keeps you strong physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And I pray that He blesses you, your family,
and this very important ministry that He has called you to.
Rec’d October 11, 2005 in response to the church planting in a chaordic ageemail
article. Published with permission.
This kind of thoughtfulness keeps us going ~ Kork
I just thought that this was hysterical...
GM vs Bill gates
At a recent computer expo (1996 COMDEX), Bill Gates compared the computer industry to the automotive industry by stating:
"If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving cars that cost $25.00 and get 1,000
miles to the gallon."
In response to Bills comment, General Motors issued A press release making the following statement:
"If we (GM) had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:
1) for no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice per day.
2) Every time they repainted the lines in
the road, you would have to buy a new car.
3) Your car would occasionally stop on the motorway without reason. In order
to get started again, you would have to pull off to the side of the road, close all the windows shut off the car restart it
and open all the windows again. For some unknown reason, you would simply do this without question.
executing a maneuver, such as a left turn, would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would
have to reinstall the engine.
5) Only one person could use the car at one time unless you bought "Car95" or "CarNT",
but then you would also have to buy more seats.
6) The new seats you would need would force everyone to have the same
7) You would press the "start" button to shut off the engine.
8) The oil warning light, water warning
light, and alternator warning light would all be replaced by a single "Unidentified System Error" light.
9) The air
bag would ask your freshly mangled body "are you sure" before going off.
10) Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever,
your car would lock you out and refuse to let you back in until you simultaneously lifted the driver side door handle, turned
the key, and grabbed the radio antenna.
11) The radio antenna would be internally mounted on the passenger side of
12) Buying a new car would force you to also purchase a new set of Deluxe Rand McNally road maps, despite
the fact that you neither need or want them. Attempting to delete this option would immediately cause your cars performance
to diminish by 50% or more.
13) Every time GM introduced a new car, people would have to learn to drive all over again
because none of the old controls would function in the new car.
14) Macintosh would make a car that was five times
faster, ten times more reliable and easier to maintain, twice as easy to drive, but would only run on five percent of the
I love to teach people about God, the Bible, the gospel, the Christian life.
But the word about in the previous sentence
causes me pause. I don't want just to teach people about God, about the Bible, and so on. I want to drop the preposition
in the same way the apostle Paul does in Ephesians 4:20 (NASB), when he speaks of the need for
people to "learn Christ," not just learn about Christ.
Please click hereto read the rest of this letter, datedAugust 15, 2005, Christianity Today International/Leadership Journal.
My grandfather once told me that there are two kinds of people:
those who work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was less competition there."
-- Indira Gandhi
I Just Wonder...
I wonder what our churches might be like if we
responded honestly and seriously to the following...
What if we didn't care who got the credit
as long as God got the glory?
What if we told the truth about what was
really going on in our lives?
What if leaders of all kinds in the church,
on occasion, said, "I really don't know what to do"?
What if we had the confidence in the Lord
to confess that we messed up?
What if we occasionally challenged one another
to grow up in Christ? (especially when we are behaving so immaturely).
What if we were to talk with the most godly
men or women who we know (of your choosing) about our giving each week to the work of the church? How do you think they
might respond to what we are giving?
What if we were to play a recording of what
we said about one another in conversation the previous week? Would there be powerful moments of encouragement and affirmation?
Or would we hear something else...
What if we deplored a divisive spirit as
much as the early church did? Would we handle divisiveness any differently?
What if we were to look at a schedule of
time actually spent in prayer and time in the Word of God? Is our actual practice what we would recommend to the rest
of the church?
What if we were to begin living as if we only had a short time left on this earth? How different
would we be living?
Tonight we were invited to participate
in a “revival” meeting hosted by several area churches.
The idea here was to "bring the
churches together in unity, and to reach out to the borough, beginning with this bad neighborhood."The revival meeting is on the street corner that we do The Table ministry, and is called “Town on the Rebound.”
We have been on this street corner,
on-and-off for many years, doing the same things – serving food, drink, and trying to extend God’s compassion
So tonight, we found ourselves
doing what we always do – serving food, drink, and trying to extend God’s compassion and conversation.We served, not up front where all the ministers stood, but rather behind serving tables, and in the midst
of those who were outside of the family.
We were, for the most part, overlooked
by the religious crowd.A couple people said hello when we took the initiative,
but by enlarge, I watched as the gospel music, the dancers, the preaching, and the invitation went forward.I saw what I always see…the religious community having a party in the midst of the unbelieving neighborhood,
inviting them to the party, but only on their terms, as the residents watched outside the (literal) gated park.
Our regulars left faster than
usual, leaving the religious community singing with each other.It was hard to
talk because the music was so loud.
I have mixed emotions about the
evening.I love gospel music, and this worship band was excellent.Demetry, the worship leader and drummer, is a gifted godly man – deflecting any attention from himself,
and truly leading folks into God’s presence.I just struggled with how
the language of the church, immediately alienates those on the outside, and the call to leave sins behind sounds to them like,
“clean up – that’s how you come to God.”
There was a lot of talk about
how we are all brothers and sisters, but no one talked to us on their own, and no one within this religious gathering talked
to any of our “regulars” from this neighborhood. So the neighborhood
sat outside of the meeting, as we waited for God to magically do what He has obviously called us to do.
We prayed and asked God to reach
people without changing us.
Please don’t think that
I believe that these are insincere Christians. They are not.They are good, God fearing, lovers of Jesus, who know how to worship and I could perfectly worship in any
of their churches. I admire them for many reasons.It is a big deal that they are pulling off, but we -as the church- always seem to take our church culture
to another cultural context, and expect the people to understand intuitively what God means, and who He is.
I loved the message, but could
have cried for the sheep without a shepherd.
KorkAug. 10, 2005
I took an online survey
that was posted on an acquaintance’s blog.
I am always searching to see whether the way we do church can even be considered “Church.”Personally, around other pastors, and church leaders from traditional (and even “contemporary”)
church models, I feel –at best- second rate.But when I am being church,
in the way that we embody the gospel, I feel very comfortable—as though we are walking through the pages of scripture.
With that said, this (although imperfect) survey was interesting...
What is your model of the church?
You scored as Mystical Communion Model.
Your model of the church is Mystical Communion, which includes
both People of God and Body of Christ. The church is essentially people in union with Christ and the Father through the Holy
Spirit. Both lay people and clergy are drawn together in a family of faith. This model can exalt the church beyond what is
appropriate, but can be supplemented with other models.
"Yes, we truly believe there is such a thing as truth and truth matters -- if we did not believe this, we would
have no good reason to write or speak; no, we are not moral or epistemological relativists any more than anyone or any community
is who takes hermeneutical positions -- we believe that radical relativism is absurd and dangerous, as is arrogant absolutism;
yes, we affirm the historic Trinitarian Christian faith and the ancient creeds, and seek to learn from all of church history --
and we honor the church's great teachers and leaders from East and West, North and South.
"Yes, we believe that Jesus
is the crucified and risen Savior of the cosmos and no one comes to the Father except through Jesus; no, we do not pit reason
against experience but seek to use all our God-given faculties to love and serve God and our neighbors; no, we do not endorse
false dichotomies -- and we regret any false dichotomies unintentionally made by or about us (even in this paragraph!);
and yes, we affirm that we love, have confidence in, seek to obey, and strive accurately to teach the sacred Scriptures, because
our greatest desire is to be followers and servants of the Word of God, Jesus Christ." - Tony Jones, Doug
Pagitt, Spencer Burke, Brian McLaren, Dan Kimball, Andrew Jones, Chris Seay - www.TheOoze.com
George W. Bush is not Lord. The Declaration of Independence is not an infallible guide to Christian
faith and practice. Nor is the U.S. Constitution, nor the U.N. Universal Declaration on Human Rights. "Original intent" of
America's founders is not the hermeneutical key that will guarantee national righteousness. The American flag is not the Cross.
The Pledge of Allegiance is not the Creed. "God Bless America" is not the Doxology.
Sometimes one needs to state the obvious—especially at times when it's less and less obvious.
"Christians' first political responsibility is to be the church, and by being the church they should understand
that their first political loyalty is to God, and the God we worship as Christians, in a manner that understands that we are
not first and foremost about making democracy work, but about the truthful worship of the true God." Theologian,
In many ways, I think God
is waiting for our weaknesses to emerge, so that his power can penetrate our safe attempts at real-Christianity. Following
Jesus was never meant to be safe--in fact, following Jesus will probably ruin your life. What will it ruin? It
will ruin your ability to think of yourself, first; it will ruin your ability to live in this world without caring for it,
and it will utterly ruin your chances of living out your days as a surface-level, relationally deprived human being.
Following Jesus--will definitely leave you ruined. And there's nothing more beautiful than a life ruined by God.
Brian Orme April 14, 2005 brianorme.com
"Earth's crammed with heaven; And every common bush set afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes. The
rest sit round it and pluck blackberries." - Elizabeth Barrett Browning
The Ten Commandments of Modern Day Holiness:
1. Go to church every Sunday and Wednesday, unless
this interferes with youth sporting events or the Super Bowl. 2. Teach adult Sunday school using materials written at
a 6th grade level. 3. Support borrowing money to expand " God's kingdom ", while shifting the debt load to future members. 4.
Tithe only if the money will be spent in some way that benefits you directly ( if not, see # 3, above ) 5. Dress like the
preacher. 6. Don't drink alcohol, cuss, or smoke around other churchgoers. 7. Pray for those you gossip about. 8.
Smile and pretend to be filled with joy while at church, no matter how you feel. 9. Get on board with all the latest church
fads and programs. 10. Follow God's calling to attend any church that provides more goods and services.
I so easily
fail to see the difference between God's holiness and my own Phariseeism; unfortunately, the church does not require or encourage
such a distinction.
response to a Relevant.com article by Brian Orme, entitled, “A New Holiness.” Feb 06, 2005 - 11:42 AM
So, like Judas, we make only a partial commitment to the body of believers
to which we belong, and we find our identity in our rebellion from them. Unlike Paul who clearly saw his identity - "an apostle
of Jesus Christ" - in terms of his function in the body, we see our identity in how we are different from the body and opposed
If we are following Jesus, we cannot wait for the perfect community.
It was while we were yet sinners that Christ allowed his body to be broken for us. Jesus lays the foundation for community
life in the midst of betrayal: "the Lord Jesus Christ, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread..." He gave thanks
and broke it and gave it. Our commitment to one another in community can be no less than his: "This is my body broken for
F. Kefa Sempangi- Writer for
"The arrogance of power must be countered with reason, force with dialogue, pointed weapons with
outstretched hands, evil with good."
- Pope John
Paul II, in his address
Monday, Jan 10, 2005, to an annual gathering of world
"The criteria for missionary service and
spirituality are not in the magnificent and romantic accomplishments, but in the ordinary daily existence. So Paul opposes
the impressive arsenal of his opponents with down-to-earth weapons: patience, truth, love, weakness, service, modesty, and
respect. Under no circumstances should people be bulldozed with the gospel, for it ceases to be the gospel when foisted upon
people. It is possible to be unagressive and missionary at the same time. It is indeed, the only way of being truly missionary."
- David Bosch, "A Spirituality for the Road" Page 33
Jesus is a Liberal
don't understand the religious right.
sees more value in the widow's penny than in the wealth of the greedy few. He refused to stone an adulteress, where in His
name a public official was impeached on that grounds. The right says raising the minimum wage is bad, because corporate greed
is good for everyone, Jesus told a rich man he had to sell everything he had and give it away to the poor "if he wanted to
be perfect." People call compassion a crime in the name of the One who said "I desire mercy, not sacrifice."
I don't get it...
Bill – from a
recording discussion group I belong too.
"People need fewer 'ought-to' sermons, and
more 'how-to' sermons. The deepest kind of teaching is that which makes a difference in people's day-to-day lives. Jesus spoke
to the crowd with an interesting style. When God's Word is taught in an uninteresting way, people don't just think the pastor
is boring, they think God is boring!"
- Rick Warren
people to use their money to do good ... They should give happily to those in need, always being ready to share with others
whatever God has given them. By doing this they will be storing up real treasure for themselves in heaven - it is the
only safe investment for eternity! And they will be living a fruitful Christian life down here as well."- 1 Tim. 6:18-19 (LB)
"Speak up for people who cannot speak for themselves.
Protect the rights of all who are helpless. Speak for them and ... protect the rights of the poor and needy." - Pr. 31:8-9 (TEV)
"Jesus always looks not on what a man has
been or is, but on what he is going to be. And that is right. The [sculptor] looks not on what a stone has been or is, but
on what he is going to bring out of it--the living figure."-E. Stanley
Jones in Abundant Living, page 108 - Staff
"I tell you, use your worldly resources
to benefit others and make friends. In this way, your generosity stores up a reward for you in heaven."- Luke 16:9 (NLT)
"What can I give back to God for the blessings he's poured out on me?" - Ps. 116:12 (Msg)
"Since we are receiving a kingdom that
cannot be destroyed, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a consuming
fire." - Hebrews
How pastors view themselves vs. how their parishioners
view them: PastorsCongregants
Effective time managers 25%45%
- Leadership (Fall 2003)
We must not think that our
love has to be extraordinary. But we do need to love without getting tired. How does a lamp burn? Through the continuous input
of small drops of oil. These drops are the small things of daily life: faithfulness, small words of kindness, a thought for
others, our way of being quiet, of looking, of speaking, and of acting. They are the true drops of love that keep our lives
and relationships burning like a lively flame.
- Mother Teresa
“If our sin is mere failure to conform—simply a mistake to do what is right---forgiveness
is really the granting of an opportunity to try again. In that light, it is like forgetting to finish one’s homework.We deserve a low grace, and grace becomes merely the privilege of doing it over to
get a higher mark. Such a view of grace might generate appreciation, but it would never drive us to worship.If, in fact, sin is not only a failure to hit the mark of God’s perfection, but also a deep, insidious
energy that desires to eradicate from our existence an affronting God who demands perfection, then forgiveness becomes breathtaking,
incredible, and wonderfully insulting.”
- Dan Allender, Bold Love
Just as it is nearly impossible to balance
a bicycle when it's not moving, we're most likely to crash in our dealing with Scripture if we're not moving forward in our
It's no surprise then that biblical Christians
have thrived when we've used the Bible with the goal of becoming good people who, because we follow Jesus, do good works in
God's good world. And we have languished and wandered when we have used the Bible as a weapon to threaten others, as a tool
to intimidate others and prove them wrong, as a shortcut to being know-it-alls.
Community has become a buzzword in the church
in recent years. Overbusy individuals hope they can cram it into their overstuffed schedules like their membership to a health
club (which they never have time to use). Churches hope they can conjure it with candles, programs, or training videos. Community
is far more costly than that: one cannot add it to anything, rather one must begin with it in order to enter it, practice
it, and preserve it.
- Brian McClaren, A Generous Orthodoxy
Patience is not waiting passively until someone
else does something. Patience asks us to live the moment to the fullest, to be completely present to the moment, to taste
the here and now, to be where we are. When we are impatient, we try to get away from where we are. We behave as if the real
thing will happen tomorrow, later, and somewhere else. Be patient and trust that the treasure you are looking for is hidden
in the ground on which you stand.
- Henri J.M. Nouwen
Jesus was a lot safer when he was relegated to being the guy who shed a little blood for me so I could
go to heaven in fifty years and when He let me know that I should always pull the republican lever at the voting booth and
that the Bible was good fodder for sermons that preached to the choir about the scariness of homosexuals, liberals, and other
But the Jesus that Wright, Hays, Achteimer, Hauerwas, Keener, and others write about demands a whole lot
more and hurts more and challenges more and is more encompassing ... and more life giving ... God, I love Jesus ...
He is so tough on my soul, heart, mind, body, emotions, and will ... God, I love it!
When can I go and meet with God?
I have been asking this question since I was a child! I have always longed for intimacy with my Creator
and I know that I am not alone!!
I believe this is the cry of our hearts because a genuine meeting with Him is the only thing that really
satisfies. Yet I am amazed at how often we as worship leaders seem to think that our job at our weekly gatherings is to excite
or entertain God’s people!
We need fresh reminders that the main reason people have gathered is a hunger to meet with God. That’s
why each time I lead worship one of my goals is to create a setting for people to intimately encounter Him and then step aside.
One of my guiding verses is He must become greater; I must become less.
In our lives when we get tired and overwhelmed we often turn
to entertainment and we are distracted for a time... but not deeply satisfied. But the presence of God
that we encounter in genuine worship will satisfy. So this is the goal of each worship gathering; that we would encounter
And as much as culture changes all around us, this core hunger in the heart of each man and woman made
in the image of God remains the same. Listen to the Psalmist pouring out his heart; these are timeless words that reveal this
core longing in all of us!
1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.2 My soul
thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while men
say to me all day long, "Where is your God?" 4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude,
leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.
5 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior
and 6 my God.
I would summarize it this way -- life is hard sometimes - yet I am hungering for God - and I know that
I will experience the goodness of God.
Embracing the longing to meet with God does not mean that we do a half-hearted mediocre job of putting
together our music and visuals for our services. It means we do them with all of our hearts and skills for a reason, and that
reason is to help people meet with God, not entertain them. And there is a difference.
There are lots of places in our culture people can go to be entertained. I have no problem with that.
I love a great movie filled with great characters and story as much as the next person! But we gather as God’s people,
I always remind myself that my first job is to provide a setting for people to meet with God, and no matter what changes around
me in culture, that goal will never change!
Brian Doerksen / Summer 2004
Brian is the writer of the popular praise song "Come, Now is the Time to Worship
all intellectual debates, both sides tend to be correct in what they affirm, and wrong in what they deny."
- John Stuart Mill
is proof that God loves us, and wants us to be happy."
- Benjamin Franklin
If we could shrink the earth's population to a village of only 100 people, it
would look something like this:
would be: 57 Asians, 21 Europeans, 14 North and South Americans, 8 Africans, 30 white, and 70 nonwhite.
people would possess 59% of the world's wealth, and all 6 would be from the United States.
would live in substandard housing, 70 would be unable to read, and 50 would suffer malnutrition.
would have a college education and 1 would own a computer.
- Dr. Phillip Harter
StanfordUniversitySchool of Medicine
In the words of someone else slightly more famous: "To
whom much is given, much is required."