Fresh Air and New Eyes


As I look back on 40plus years of my walk with Christ, I am mindful of some big twists and turns in the road. The journey has not been a straight line. Please allow me to indulge in some personal reflection and then I’ll bring this back into a local church framework.

Have you ever heard a story of a child caught smoking cigarettes by a parent, and in order to “cure” them of the desire to smoke, the parent forces them to smoke an entire pack? Of course, the child becomes so sick, they never smoke again. The unpleasantness of the experience cures them of any future desire.

This is one picture I would use to describes my ministry journey. God has placed me in some toxic environments. They have each made me sick in their unique way. But I’m not throwing the baby out with the bath water. The toxic atmospheres have made me desire good air even more. I long for the purity and health that is the Kingdom of Heaven, that Jesus inaugurated, that God promises us now.

Keep thinking! Continue reading.

Pursuing Good: Exposing Vulnerability

pursuinggood_vulnerability

The world looks completely different.

Sometimes it lasts for a day or even a week.

After reading a really good book it can take time to recover, to reorient oneself to the world outside of the world of the story. The same is true of a concert that elevates us to a new level of heightened experience and emotion.

All of us have had experiences with art that enable us to transcend reality, if even for a few short moments. Whether a theatrical production, film, music, a painting, a book, or design; art resonates with us in a deeply satisfying way. It also connects us to those with a shared experience.

We cannot always put our finger on what it is that is creating this reaction when we feel it, sense it, and experience it. For those of us who do this for a living — crafting experiences and art to move people into closer relationship with and obedience to Jesus — we cannot afford to not know. We cannot afford to guess.

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Pursuing Good: Surprise

pursuinggood_surprise

In my recent post Pursuing Good: The Backstory, I began to process what makes something good. I ran into a couple of articles that really helped propel this idea forward. I even started to address the bad press we give good as opposed to great or excellent. I’ll continue to focus on that tension.

We already looked at authenticity. In this article I want to tackle the second characteristic in my master list of what makes something good:

A service is good when it is surprising.

As usual, let’s define this word in an effort to get on the same page.

Keep thinking! Continue reading.

Great Conversations: Jesus and Pilate

Great Conversations_Jesus and pilate

It has been my conviction shared in many conversations that Jesus did not directly confront the Roman empire. Instead, his focus was on Israel, their failure to repent and follow God, and the judgment they were under, thus Rome.

Consider this famous passage in Mark 12

13 Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. 
14 They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? 
15 Should we pay or shouldn’t we?” But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 
16 They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”“Caesar’s,” they replied. 
17 Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”And they were amazed at him.
Sermons should be developed just based on the flattery they bestow upon Jesus before asking him their “question.” I wonder if our opinion of Jesus often matches theirs. If so, we are missing the point, as His answer demonstrates.
The way I see it Jesus is once again calling them into account for not properly responding to God. The reason they are having to pay the Imperial Tax at all is because they are under judgment. In essence His two-fold answer is pointed in the same direction: Submit to Caesar as he is an instrument in God’s justice and in doing so, submit to God and the work He is doing in the world  (which will entail repentance and new living).
Be that as it may be, although Jesus is not directly confronting Roman rule and any abuse committed by Rome as he answers this question, He is definitely confronting them and their politics which are keeping them from properly responding to God and His rule.

Keep thinking! Continue reading.

Pursuing Good: Authentic

pursuinggood_authentic

In my recent post Pursuing Good: The Backstory, I wanted to begin to process what makes something good. I ran into a couple of articles that really helped propel this idea forward. I even started to address the bad press we give good as opposed to great or excellent.

More on that later.

In this article I want to tackle the first in my master list of what makes something good:

A service is good when it is…

  1. authentic.
  2. surprising.
  3. exposing vulnerability.
  4. interesting (with a by product of engagement).
  5. appropriate.
  6. complete or full (delivers on the expectation).
  7. special.
  8. smooth in transitions.
  9. purposeful (or communicating a point).
  10. impeccably executed.

A service is good when it is authentic.

Don’t just read past this one as something that you already know. There is more to the story here.

Keep thinking! Continue reading.