Friday, December 17, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

This song taken up residence in my heart since I heard it for the first time this past Sunday. Goosebumps, I tell you, goosebumps! How many greats have become the least for me? Only one. That, my friends, is the message of Christmas.

This is Jesus, "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped and made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:6-8)

A father's son. A king. Humbled. Rejected. Despised. Lowered. All for me. And for you.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What kind of king, indeed?!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Captain, my captain...

...or should I say "show boat?!" Nah. I love this goal and am thrilled that this kid is wearing the blue and orange this season. Yet another reason that I think this is just going to continue to be a fun season for the Oil...I've said it since the beginning of this season, they may not win a bunch but it sure will be fun to watch.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

One of the things about this time of year that I enjoy is the plethora of "best of" the year lists that come out. I find them fun and fascination and, if I'm being honest, a little disturbing when I consider how few of the items I've heard of on some of the lists. Talk about head in the sand, Sparshu. Where have you been!? Anyway, Chapters has out their best of 2010 list. Books, movies and music. Just fun.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

When you do your Christmas shopping this year, try keeping this in mind:

If we can resist the trap of giving easy gifts, and if we can reject the assumption that giving expensive gifts or many gifts is the best way to express love, something else might begin to happen. We might experience moments of relational giving that our friends and family will care about and remember. Our kids will learn what it means to give gifts that are personal and meaningful. Our neighbors and coworkers and friends will watch us celebrate Christmas differently, and they’ll hear the good news loud and clear through the seasonal static. (Advent Conspiracy, Rick McKinley, Chris Seay and Greg Holder)

Who's the jerk?!

"We don't wait well. We're into microwaving; God, on the other hand, is usually into marinating." -C. Peter Wagner

As I've been walking through the Christmas season this year, I've been particularly aware of the sense of waiting that fills the advent season. The Christmas story is filled with waiting.

The Israelites waited for the promised one, the coming King, for over 400 years. I wonder if they'd given up, thinking that God had failed to "come through" or if impatience filled them. I wonder if they forgot the promise over time or if they still passed it on from generation to generation with the same sense of anticipation. I don't like to wait a couple months for something, let alone 400 years!

Then there's Mary and Joseph. Greeted by an angel and promised a child and yet they wait for His arrival. I'm sure if God wanted to, he could have done it another way but He chose to bring His son into the world through humanity's reproductive process, couched in waiting, anticipating and preparing.

Then there's the shepherds. Oh, and don't forget the wisemen. They were waiting too.

Generally, as North Americans, we don't do well with waiting. We grumble in lines (I hold firm that it's the poor service that agrivates me, not the believe me, right!?), we road rage, we have instant coffee and fast food, and we use instant tellers and high speed internet.

Instant. Now. Forget waiting.

I freely admit that I'm not a patient person. Once I've made my mind up about something, I want it, well, like yesterday. But God waits. Maybe there's something for me to learn about waiting this Christmas season. If advent is about preparing - not just 'for the season' with baking, shopping and decorating but truly about preparing my heart to fully experience the joy of Jesus at Christmas - then perhaps, just perhaps, there's something to be learned about the discipline of waiting this Christmas.

Friday, December 03, 2010

I love this! A Christmas classic for sure!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

"Answers to prayer are wonderful, but they are secondary to the main function of prayer, which is a growing, perpetual communion. It is out of this refreshing life of communion with Jesus Christ that answered prayer comes as a happy by-product" (Richard Foster).

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My friend, Katie, has been posting through this list of pictures, one per day, each with specific criteria. Your facebook profile. A picture of you a year ago. Things like that. I couldn't bring myself to play along (although I was tempted) but have been enjoying this picture lately and thought I would post it just for fun. See. Fun. I told you.

Current Read

Spiritual Rhythm: Being With Jesus Every Season of Your Soul, Mark Buchanan
I hate to admit it but the pattern of my posting over the last year is a sad but true microcosim of the rest of my life.

I was doing okay for a long time. I was posting fairly regularily and, at times, with some intelligence. I was enjoying the outlet it provided. I looked forward to posting. It was fun to "create." Then the rest of life took over and I put this poor little blog on the back burner. Often I would have a twinge of guilt over how I had let it get away from me. I would find a quote or a be processing something and think that I wanted to post but just not get there. Sometimes, perhaps while at work, puttering in the yard or on a bike ride, I'd even draft a post in my head. Let me assure you, it wasn't for lack of having something to say! After a while, I just wasn't motivated at all. Lately though, I've been working on getting 'back in the habit.' It's been in fits and starts. Some days I'm more motivated then others. I'm not sure what my problem is or how to get back to where I was, how to get back to the good habits I was in before. One of the biggest things for me to overcome is the frustration I feel at having let it get this far...but I'm working on it. Fits and starts are better than nothing. One day at a time.

Now if only it was just blogging. Working out. Real solid bible study. Journaling. Music. Things that are just good for me. Things that I miss.

It makes me sad that when when I allow life to get crowded, the first things to get pushed out are these things that I enjoy, are refreshing and are good for me. Life isn't likely to get any slower or less crowded for me but for my own good and, in some ways, for the good of those close to me, I'm working on bringing some of those good things back.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Advent Challenge

This is one of the things that we're doing at Journey to enter into the advent season:

As we enter the Advent season here is a glimpse into the next sermon series that will begin on Sunday November 21, 2010. You can make an impact, are you up to the challenge?
WORSHIP FULLY: We too often get lost in the frantic rush of the holiday season. We will celebrate a season where we put down our burdens and lift up a song to God. November 21

SPEND LESS: Canadians spent 36.8 billion dollars in December 2005. We will celebrate simply, freeing ourselves from the compulsion to buy expensive gifts. November 28

GIVE MORE: At Christmas, Jesus gave himself to us. We will give meaningful, relational gifts to the people we love rather than buying gifts out of obligation. December 5

LOVE ALL: Jesus loved the poor, the forgotten, and the sick. We will join him giving some of the money we saved to help those who need the most. December 12

Living Water International has been part of the Advent Conspiracy from the very beginning. We connect congregations to communities in need of water. Every dollar is accounted for. Every project is reported, with GPS coordinates, stories, and photos.

Because of the contributions of Advent Conspiracy congregations, hundreds of thousands of people are now drinking clean water from hand pumps instead of carrying water from swamps and rivers, all because people decided to celebrate Christmas a little differently.

It's hard to know what is more sacred-the family deciding to give gifts that really matter, or clean water dribbling down the chin of a child for the first time. At Living Water, we have a hard time seeing the difference. Find out more and download resources at

THE CHALLENGE For the next 4 weeks, make water your only beverage. Save the money that you would normally spend on sodas, coffee, and sport drinks. At the end of the 4 weeks, contribute the money you saved to Living Water International for the drilling of wells. Churches, youth groups, clubs, school groups, and other organizations have all participated in The H2O Project.

At Journey we will take a special offering on Sunday December 5, 2010 that will go towards Living Waters International. All the money we would normally spend on beverages would go in to the offering. I am willing to give up my Tim Horton's and Starbucks for the next few weeks Will you join us? Get your, family, the kids, your small group and anyone else to participate, it's a great challenge and the benefits are huge.

If any of you want to join us, feel free.

PS. I've decided to put a small twist into the challenge. I'm not giving up my drinks this season. Darn gingerbread lattes are only here for such a short time and there's really only so many things I enjoy quite that much (maybe another reason to give them up but I'll explore that another time) BUT I've decided to do a matching activity. For every $ I spend on drinks this season, I will match for the water project.
Today is American Thanksgiving. It's also November 25 which means only one month until Christmas. I love Christmas. (I know, I know...if you've read this blog at all you already know that and just rolled your eyes at me yet again. Fine.) I figure those two facts put together (Thanksgiving AND Nov 25) mean that it's high time to get my yuletide on. Yup. Time for Christmas decorating, Christmas music and Christmas treats. Okay, okay. Perhaps the treats have started thanks to my friendly neighborhood Starbucks (mmm...gingerbread) and Sobey's (selling eggnog since October).

On top of all that, this Sunday is officially the first season of advent, a season of anticipation and redirecting our attention so that, when Christmas arrives, we're in a position of preparedness to celebrate the joy of Christmas in all of it's fullness.

This advent, our church is joining in with a number of churches North America wide to participate in the Advent Conspiracy. There's so many inspiring things that have been done by churches across the continent as they attempt to turn their direction back to the true meaning of Christmas. It's about focusing more on Jesus and on giving to people the way he did than on the commercialism that is so easy to get caught up in. And it's not that gifts are bad, they just need to be put in their the foot of the cross.

I love the "things" of Christmas. I love finding a great gift for someone. I love the treats, the lights, the music, the time with family, the celebration and the colors. I anticipate it. I hope, though, that in all of my celebrations of Christmas, I can keep my eyes on Jesus and his revolutionary, radical love for me...and for you.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

12 Tomatoes: A fun cooking blog I stumbled on. Lots of great recipes!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

‎"To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless." ~ G. K. Chesterton

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A friend of mine just gave me the heads up to a blog that he reads. It's the worship pastor from a church in Texas and there's some great stuff. Check out Sound Doctrine. The post I just read on there was a good look at the difference between living by religion vs living by grace. Great stuff.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

"God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain."

C.S. Lewis

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

1 Corinthians 10:12-13


Monday, October 04, 2010

Need a little brain break. Time to play a game then back to work...

1. Put your iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc. on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
4. Have Fun!

Rejoice - Chris Tomlin

What Can I do? - Paul Baloche

Thy Mercy, My God - Sandra McCracken

Rock What You Got - Superchick (I didn't even know that was in my library!)

Another Dance - Pride & Prejudice Soundtrack

Under the Gun - The Killers

Wishful Thinking - Joel Plaskett

Spies - Coldplay

Such Great Heights - Garden State Soundtrack

Adam's 3 Step - The Duhks

Weightless - Katie Herzig

Everything About you - Oceans Above

Traffic - Marie Digby

Hold My Hand - Hootie & the Blowfish

I've been waiting - Sixpence None the Richer

Wreck of the Day - Anna Nalick

Goodnight and Go - Imogen Heap

Can't Stop Now - Keane

Saturday, October 02, 2010

I realized today that I don't actually dislike fall. Maybe that sounds silly so let me clarify. To me, fall carries with it the end of summer and the impending winter. That just makes me sad. I've always blamed fall but I guess it's really not it's fault. It hasn't helped this year that most of September (and July and August!) was cloudy, rainy and just downright cold here in Calgary. I haven't really enjoyed fall. Most years, it seems to mean the start of a whole new level of busyness too. School starts, programs kick in and people are back at work and so traffic increases. So long gone are those summer days, the days I love.

Today, however, I found, while looking at the positives, that there are some things to be enjoyed about fall.

Perhaps it was because today was actually 28 degrees and we were able to lay sod in my back yard. Or maybe not. I feel like this has been brewing for a couple weeks.

I love those sunny fall days (and they don't have to be 28 although that really does help) where the sun is shining, it smells crisp and fresh and the colors are incredibly vibrant. Not all fall days need to be cold, rainy, overcast and dismal, especially in Calgary. The sun still shines. The sky is still blue. The colors are beautiful. I feel like, on those days, my camera should be nearly attached. There are so many moments to capture the beauty of what God has created in the fall.

One of my favorite fall photos - a shot from just outside of Vernon a couple years ago.

I've felt so many of those moments lately. Last weekend I drove to Edmonton for a family thing. The whole drive there was a chance to reflect on the changes of nature brought on by the changes of season. I went for a walk along fish creek yesterday with a friend and was amazed at the beauty all around me. Each kind of tree does it's own thing, the animals react differently and the air has a peculiar feeling reserved only for this time of year. This morning, we drove out of the city to pick up the sod and I was again amazed and thrilled by all that is fall.

It's not that I have never noticed it before it's just that today I really noticed it. Today I felt it. Today I appreciated it for what it is in a while new way.

I'm not just about the weather either. A couple weekends ago I was able to take advantage of the harvest. Peppers, peaches, plums and apples filled my kitchen. I felt a little like a less criminal version of Martha Stewart as I chopped, diced, canned and preserved.

My canning pot at work!

I made up a couple batches of hot pepper jelly, apple sauce, apple pie filling, canned peaches and a delicious plum vanilla preserve, all canned and ready to be warm treats during the cold winter ahead.


Plum-vanilla preserve, apple sauce and hot pepper jelly

My mom does tons of this stuff every year and I have always appreciated the love that goes into it and the presence of those jars of goodness all winter long. I'm not sure why it has taken me until this year to really get into the swing of things but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I've got a couple other recipes and bundles of produce just waiting...

The farm kid in me seems to come alive in the fall. I love driving out of the city and seeing the harvest play out. Rows upon rows of swaths creating a maze in the fields. Combines blowing and churning through them. Hay and straw bails littering the fields. Farmers' markets take on a whole new life. And there's the vegetables!! Pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, onions... I miss having a garden!!

I guess what I'm learning is that there is so much to be appreciated when you really anything, but right now I'm thinking about the seasons. Summer will always be my favorite but I think that fall, with all that it offers, may actually be coming in a close second. Yes, there's good things all around. I may have to be reminded about that when winter hits. I might have to start thinking now to find them. Or perhaps I'll just keep finding more things to enjoy about fall.
With the start of the season approaching, I'm getting back into the mood for hockey. A bit of poking fun at the Americans seems like a fun way to start off the banter!

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Difference of a Letter

This is an actual billboard one would find if you were driving down the street last week in a certain US location. And we wonder why our North American literacy rate is suffering!

Read more here.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

While outside, everything is winding down for winter, the TV season gears up in the fall. I confess that more and more, I'm learning to enjoy a good TV show, relaxing in the middle of someone else's story and shutting off the real world. Couch time can actually be a very valuable, very spiritual thing, I think (That's probably a whole different post in the works right there!! ).

While I'm anticipating the return of my few favorites this season (House, Big Bang Theory, Chuck, Fringe and Grey's Anatomy...not to mention hockey's back in just a few short days), there's a whole host of new ones coming. I'm going to have to be picky about what I add to the watch list.

For a list of this year's new shows, check this out.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I don't like socks. I don't like shopping for socks. I don't like laundering, matching and folding socks. I certainly don't like wearing socks. I don't like brand new socks. I don't like old socks with holes. I don't like tight socks. I don't like loose, stretched out socks. I don't like them sliding down or moving around. (Why won't they stay put anyway?) I especially don't like socks that get abnormally wide towards the toes. I don't like trying to find the missing sock the dryer somehow always eats. I don't like that socks always end up different even if you bought them in the same package. I don't like socks.

I've been pretty happy for several months now. It's been flip flop, bare feet and painted toe nail time. The last several days, however, have required socks.

There's only one reason for that. There's something that I dislike more than socks and that's being cold. Cold feet are awful.

Now, I admit, there have been days in which I have suffered through cold feet because the idea of going to the drawer, pulling out a pair of socks and putting them on makes me shudder a bit but now, with September feeling suspiciously like October (which makes sense since August felt like September), I'm donning socks.

I was complaining about having to wear socks the other day when I was asked if it was the socks or what they represent that bother me. I had to think about that for a minute. You see, as we've already established, I don't like socks BUT since I also don't like cold, particularly winter which I find significantly more distasteful than socks, it seems fair to make the jump that perhaps it is, in fact, the approach of winter (and therefore the passing of summer) and NOT the socks that is the problem.


Do you know what I decided?

It's both!

Socks AND the story behind the socks.

I want my flip flops.

Spare what!?

When I titled this blog years ago, I didn't think it would become as apt as it has. This is the place for my spare thoughts however it seems like there hasn't been much spare in my life lately. No spare time. No spare thoughts. No spare energy. I don't say that to excuse my lack of writing or to complain but simply to state what has been. That said, I've missed this. I've found myself thinking more and more about the exercise that keeping up a blog has been for my mind and how I miss it. Like physical exercise, it brings many good things. So here's the deal. I'm back. Or at least I'm going to try.

Friday, June 25, 2010

"Our membership in the church is a corollary of our faith in Christ. We can no more be a Christian and have nothing to do with the church than we can be a person and not be in a family. It is part of the fabric of redemption."

Eugene Peterson
A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1980), p. 169

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A good one...

Ephesians 3:16—19 (NIV)

"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

Friday, March 12, 2010

Superficiality is the curse of our age - The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.
- Richard Foster

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Grace is God acting in us to help us to do the things he has asked us to do.

~ Dallas Willard

I've been pondering this quote this morning. I like it. I like that it puts not just the responsibility but the privilege of grace in God's hands. Grace is not the freedom for me to do whatever I want and be forgiven, accepted or freed. It is, however, the freedom to move and act, by His power, to do the things He wants. It is Him showing me and helping me want the things He wants. I want to live by grace.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

“Trying to describe the Eternal using earthly words is like trying to scoop up the whole ocean into the palm of your hand. It’s like trying to count every star in the endless midnight sky. All of our words fall so short; every melody failing to capture the true beauty of the Heavenly.”

Vicky Beeching

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I spent a big part of the day today accompanied by the sounds of Cake. This track, Conroy, reminds me why I like them. They're just so creative and quirky.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I love to cook and I love books so it seems only right that I could find it easy to waste all sorts of time reading cookbooks and dreaming up all sorts of fun things thanks to all the ideas the authors have given me (*note* I consider recipes a suggestion or guideline, not a rule). This one is one of my new favorites. When it's recommended by an 18 year old boy, you know it's got to be fun!

The author's got a blog too! How fun is that!!?? And then, on his blog, he recommended this foodie blog. I haven't really read it yet but I'm in love with her photography!

The Comfortable Substitute

By Francis Chan

When I first started Cornerstone Church, I asked myself the question: What things do I need in order to start a church? The answer was obvious: find a building, a person to lead the singing, a sound system, a childcare area, and put together a good sermon. There were other things that I wanted, but these were the essentials. You can’t have church without them. Every evangelical knows you need a building, a sermon, singing, and a program for the kids. Other elements are negotiable, but these are the absolutes.

Here’s the million-dollar question: Is that what I would conclude from searching the Scriptures?

Of course not.

I simply followed what other churches in America had done. I didn’t even think twice about it. But as I look back, I’m amazed that I didn’t consult the Scriptures as my primary resource. Had I done so, “church” probably would have looked different.

If I had consulted the Bible first, I probably would have created a gathering that emphasized loving one another. Instead, I spent years running a service that left little room for love. It quickly became the most popular service in town. It was “successful.” The problem is, we defined success as a lot of people coming, enjoying the service, and receiving some sort of benefit. Our motives seemed pure, and good things were happening, so we didn’t question much.

How would we define success if the Bible were the only standard by which we judged our church? If you had no theological training or previous church experience—if you did nothing but read through the Bible fifty times—what would you consider to be essential for a gathering of believers? How would you measure the success of a church?

This process of starting with the Scriptures alone is what we call exegesis. One of the first lessons I learned in seminary was the difference between exegesis and eisegesis. Exegesis is starting with a passage of Scripture and pulling the meaning directly from the text. Exegesis aims for objectivity. You try to study without preconceived notions of what the passage teaches. You are surrendering yourself to whatever the text says.

Eisegesis is the opposite of that. We were warned against it, and rightly so. Eisegesis is when you attempt to import a subjective meaning into the text. In other words, you start with an idea, then look for verses to support your idea. This is a dangerous approach because your personal desires can determine your interpretation. In your heart, you desire divorce, immorality, wealth, etc., so you search the Bible for verses that will defend your point of view. In eisegesis, you are surrendering the Scriptures to your desires. In exegesis, you are surrendering your desires to the Scriptures.

While we were taught to study and preach exegetically, I don’t remember being taught to live exegetically. Many teach exegetically, yet live eisegetically. We call this hypocrisy. When it comes to life, do we really search the Scriptures first? Is the Bible really the basis for how we live? Or do we pursue a certain way of life and then use the Bible to justify our actions?

With regard to church, I can justify many different styles of gatherings. The point, however, is not to defend our current models. Rather than pointing to biblical elements in the way we do things, we should build our model from the Scriptures alone.

We have trouble building our churches exegetically, however, because we are surrounded by so many influences, and each of these beg us to think subjectively. My thinking is constantly affected by my Asian culture, my American culture, my Southern Californian culture, my evangelical church culture, and a host of other factors. Then I have my own flesh that begs me to believe what I desire to be true. There is so much in this world that would keep us from simply listening to the voice of God.

When I began to realize this, I prayed that God would allow me to ignore the prodding of my culture, my lifestyle, and my flesh as I searched the Scriptures for an exegetical model of church. I have listed some of my conclusions below.

Understand that I’m not saying we need to “do” certain things in order to become a part of the church. We become a member of His church the moment His Holy Spirit enters us. He is the proof of our salvation. When the Spirit enters us, He gives us a desire for the things He desires. He gives us a passion to build His kingdom through obedience to these commands.

There are many things that could be listed, but I’ll limit it to these characteristics because they seem to be the most emphasized. I mention these not because I found a verse about each of these, but because these are the things that I see over and over in the Scriptures. These practices were obvious in the life of the early church and they appear to have been given priority. If we were to follow an exegetical model of the church, then we would:

1. Love one another (which motivates all the “one anothers” in Scripture) - This would have more to do with actions than with feelings. We would care for each other in such a way that we would be moved to intense prayer and giving in order to meet the needs of the people around us. An intense, love-based fellowship would exist because of our common, deep-rooted devotion to Jesus and His teachings. This love and commitment to each other would continually spread to larger and larger circles.

2. Proclaim His message - Our lives would be devoted to proclaiming the amazing news of the gospel to the world. We would announce that salvation has come through faith in Christ. We would teach people to “obey everything that Christ commanded”—not just assenting intellectually to a few core doctrines, but dying to self and becoming immersed in Jesus, His teaching, and His mission. We would be gathering with other believers to remind them of this gospel and to encourage them to stay focused on the mission. In proclaiming Christ’s message, we would be joining Jesus on His mission to rescue the physically and spiritually impoverished by leading them to an all-satisfying God.

3. Practice Communion and Baptism - This was important to Jesus and the early believers. We need to devote ourselves to gathering with like-minded followers to remember Him. We would make sure that His death and resurrection were always at the center of our gatherings, always our motivation and priority. As we baptized new believers, we would be reminded that they are committing themselves to a new life that begins with the death of the old one.

4. Pray - We would gather with other believers in order to pray. We would come into His presence, asking Him to further His kingdom. We would ask Him to lead us according to His will. We would pray fervently for one another.

After searching the Scriptures, I am convinced that if I gathered a group of Christ-followers to practice these things then I could rightfully call it church. There are other things the church could do, but these are things we must do. Here’s another way to look at it: If I’m not living these things out with other believers, do I have the right to say I’m part of God’s church? Biblically, I would have to say no.

Do these things take place at our “services”? If not, then shouldn’t we make it a priority to create gatherings that center on these elements? Shouldn’t this take priority over maintaining services? I believe what we do in our services is good, but it’s not all necessary, it’s not all commanded. So shouldn’t we first spend our energy on what is commanded? What should we hold sacred: our “services” or the commands?

Although good things can happen during a service, certain things cannot take place when two hundred or two thousand people sit in chairs, face forward, and listen to people on a stage for an hour. You cannot truly love your neighbor in that type of setting, nor can you practice the “one anothers” in that manner.

As I said before, it’s time for us to stop defending the models we are comfortable with and start pursuing church in a way that allows us to do and be everything that God desires His church to do and be. It’s time for us to make a change.

Some will object by saying this is good information for someone starting a new church, but what about those of us who are part of an already established church? As someone who is in exactly that position, I’m not sure of the answer, but I’m devoting the next years of my life to figuring it out. For starters, I’m going to be consistently explaining to people that church is not something they attend, and they can’t call themselves the church simply because they attend a weekly service.

One of the major changes we need to make in the evangelical world is our speech. We have people claiming to be followers of Christ even though they don’t actually follow Him. In the same way, we have people claiming to be the church even though they don’t practice the “one anothers” of Scripture. If people are going to begin to understand what God designed the church to be, then we need to start speaking rightly about it. It’s not “just semantics.” What we say affects how we think and how we act. If “church” is not a building, then why do we call it that? If we really believe that “church” refers to a people that God has redeemed, then why are we using the word for so many other things?

We have to start gathering believers who are focused on the mission. This should resonate with those filled with the Holy Spirit (Heb 10:24-25). There ought to be a desire to gather together to practice the “one anothers” of Scripture for the sake of the mission. Whether we continue our Sunday services or not is almost irrelevant. What is relevant is that we gather in a biblical way and for biblical purposes.

Practically, I’m toying with the idea of starting a network of gatherings that meet in homes in order to practice the commands of Scripture. They could watch sermons via DVD or have a leader give the lesson. They may even sing together. But the gatherings wouldn’t stop there. They would discuss how to live out the sermon in their neighborhood. They would also pray for each other. They would take communion and remind each other of the mission. They would meet the needs of the members of their group and their unsaved neighbors. Rather than coming to church, they would be the church—not in a sacred building, but in their neighborhoods. Occasionally, we could all gather in an auditorium or stadium to celebrate and worship collectively.

There are many benefits to this type of church network:

1. We can be obedient to the “one another” commands through the interaction that takes place in these gatherings. Whereas before people were spectators, they become active participants—not in a service, but in the joys and needs of the people around them.

2. There’s no limit to growth. The old system limits evangelism based on the size of a building. Every growing church runs out of space with the “build a bigger building” model. But when every home is a potential gathering spot, growth can continue until we actually accomplish our mission.

3. Gifted and bored leaders now have a mission, a place to be challenged and to exercise their giftedness in teaching and leading. With a service, only a few charismatic leaders can use their gifts. But if church is more than a service, then every person can use their God-given talents to edify the body of Christ.

4. There is greater accountability as people learn and interact in a smaller setting led by a lay leader in their community. People are no longer anonymous; now they are vital members of a community.

5. A huge amount of money is freed up for meeting real needs for the sake of the gospel. I can’t even think about how much money we have spent on buildings and comfortable chairs and air conditioning and everything that comes with running an entertaining service. When we focus on the biblical essentials of ministry, then God’s money is more directly and efficiently used to meet the actual needs of our actual neighbors.

6. It keeps people from idolizing their homes, furniture, carpet, etc. By allowing others to gather in their homes, it reminds them that their houses truly belong to God. It also helps us to bring Christ into every area of our lives rather than seeing a church building as the place where ministry and growth take place.


I also want to be honest about some of the dangers I see with a neighborhood church network:

1. It could easily become ingrown. As we become comfortable with our own little group, we can stop caring about and therefore reaching out to the people around us. While this is also a problem in the current church model, the neighborhood church network model seems to pose an even greater danger of this.

2. Individual groups could stray from truth. More leaders means more potential for things to go in the wrong direction.

3. By deepening involvement we increase the potential for inappropriate relationships. Again, this problem has always been present, but as we encourage deeper interaction, sin has a greater opportunity to pervert what is intended to be good.

4. It can be seen as rebellious or an attack on other established “churches.” Historically, it’s been the angry “I’m tired of church” people who begin gatherings in homes. They are the people who have the attitude that everyone else is doing it wrong.

These problems will need to be addressed. I believe that many of them can be solved through a midweek-training time. By gathering the leaders together regularly, elders can constantly encourage them to run from these issues. We would make use of gifted leaders in the church to train and equip the other leaders, not only during the midweek-training time but also discipleship throughout the week. This would ensure greater unity in doctrine and practice across the network of churches.

Where is all this headed? What do I think the American church should look like? I really can’t answer those questions. All I can say is that I am responsible to God for how I shepherd the church that He has entrusted to me. I certainly don’t want to say that this is “the” model for everyone. It’s just the direction I keep sensing the Lord wants me to head. By sharing it, my hope is that it will encourage others to not only search the Scriptures but to boldly implement your findings.

As I prayed and thought through the way I “did church,” I believe that in many ways I hindered the mission of the church and created confusion about what the church actually is.

I cannot in good conscience call the old model “church.” Jesus created the church when He redeemed us from sin and death by dying on the cross. He is adding new members to the church daily through the powerful work of the Holy Spirit. As the church, we are called into the mission of Jesus. This mission is what our lives and gatherings must center on. The model does not matter unless it pulls us away from our mission.

I believe Satan has distracted us through programs, entertainment, and comfortable substitutes for what the church really is. It’s time for us to wake up, cut the fat, and be who we are: a people redeemed by Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit, on a mission to show the world the glory of God, and waiting for the day when all things are subjected to Him (1Cor 15:24-28).

Francis Chan is the pastor of Cornerstone Church and the president of Eternity Bible College in Simi Valley. In addition to being a pastor, Francis speaks to thousands of youth throughout the U.S., challenging them to deeper commitment. He can be heard on his radio program “Truth Be Known.” Francis has a great sense of humor, a genuine love for Christ and a commitment to teach straight from the Word of God. Francis and his wife Lisa have been married for twelve years and have three daughters and one son: Rachel, Mercy, Eliana, and Ezekiel. He is a graduate of the Master’s College and Seminary.

Current Read

Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Faith Begins at Home, Mark Holmen

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Did it again and got the same thing. Hmmm...
I took the 43 Things Personality Quiz and found out I'm a
Money Managing Self-Knowing Tree Hugger

Kind of makes me want to do it again...was fun once...why not!?

Friday, January 01, 2010

Top 10 Movies of 2009

I was thinking it would be fun to find a top 10 list of movies in 2009. I'm just the curious sort. I'm curious how many on the list I'd have seen and which ones that I've missed I should check out. In trying to find such a list, I realized that I should have been more specific as to what criteria I wanted to consider in defining the top 10.

One of the few lists I've managed to hunt down is the top 10 movies of 2009 based on box office sales thanks to Yahoo. They include, in reverse order:

10. The Blind Side - Total Gross: $184,387,000
9. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs - Total Gross: $196,573,705
8. Monsters Vs. Aliens - Total Gross: $198,351,526
7. Avatar - Total Gross: $212,268,000
6. Star Trek - Total Gross: $257,730,019
5. The Hangover - Total Gross: $277,322,503
4. The Twilight Saga: New Moon - Total Gross: $280,924,000
3. Up - Total Gross: $293,004,164
2. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince- Total Gross: $301,959,197
1. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Total Gross: $402,111,870

That list, in my mind, is a reflection of the opinion of the masses and media/marketing induced hype and anticipation, not necessarily quality. That said, I've seen 7 of the 10 on the list and am itching to see the 8th...and no, it is NOT Twilight.

Anyone have any suggestions on a reasonably all-encompassing list? It doesn't have to be just 10. Anyone have a list they'd like to offer?