Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Different Voice

I recently saw this picture on a blog I frequent, and was inspired by it's use of Photoshop to make a prophetic statement about God and how we ought to speak on God's behalf.

God's message is definitely meant to be heard, but God's voice is never one of judgment and condemnation, and ours shouldn't be either. Too often the 'Good News' of the church to the rest of the world has failed to actually be good news. We must continue to present the truth of God to a world that desperately needs God's saving grace, but we must find a more creative way of voicing that truth, one that actually becomes 'Good News' to a broken and hurting world.

This Is How I Pray

I had forgotten how funny this clip was. Enjoy!

HT: The Corner

Funny Comics from ASBO Jesus

In case you don't know, you need to know about "The Ongoing Adventures of ASBO Jesus". This is a blog by Jon Birch, a resident of England, who uses comic strips to lift his prophetic voice to the body of Christ in our current situation. Here are a couple of great examples from this past week:

HT: ASBO Jesus

A Climbing Video from this Weekend

This is a collection of videos and pictures from 3 out of the 4 days that David and I climbed while he was in Seattle visiting us and the University of Washington's Graduate School. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Last Few Days

David flew out of Seattle yesterday afternoon, but it was a great weekend having him here. We did a lot of climbing, a lot of sight-seeing, and a lot of laughing. It was so good to see my good friend again as I've missed seeing him over the past few months. We won't see each other again until February, where we will be going skiing together in Montana for a long weekend.

I am so appreciative of the friends in my life that are lasting despite the long distance. I look forward to seeing how my relationship with my Sioux Falls friends will endure even though we don't see each other often. Thank God for weddings each summer that will allow us to return to the Midwest.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

David's Trip So Far

My best friend, David, is in Seattle visiting this weekend, so needless to say, I've been a little too busy to blog over the past 3 days. David was my climbing partner back in Sioux Falls, so we've been doing a lot of climbing while he's been out here. We climbed for about 3 hours on Friday at the climbing gym where I work. I thought that David would really love that style of climbing, and he did. I also accomplished a feat that I've been working on in the gym for quite some time. The following video is one of my finally getting this huge dyno (jump from rock to rock). I've only ever seen one other person get this.

Friday night we met some friends downtown on the waterfront and took a ferry over to Bainbridge Island. Once there we walked around for a while and then had dinner at a mexican restaurant and enjoyed great ice cream for dessert. The last time Mandy and I were on a ferry was in November when we were visiting Seattle and the seminary and trying to decide whether we should move half way across the country. It was so fun to be back on that boat and to see how far God has brought us in the past year. What a ride it's been!

Yesterday, David and I spent the day rock climbing outside at this place called Exit 38, cleverly titled due to its location along I-90. It was so fun to be in Creation and see the changing leaves and enjoy a day with David like old times. We had a blast. I'm sure there will be much more to report later, but that's all for now. Peace.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Failed Campaign Slogans

These were a couple of campaign slogans that didn't quite make the cut for our 2 major presidential candidates.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Almost Peed My Pants

There are few authors on this earth that truly stir my soul and lead me down the path of a revolutionary lifestyle. Shane Claiborne is one of them. His book "The Irresistible Revolution" has radically changed the way I see the world, and his book "Jesus for President" really opened my eyes in the area of politics and empire and how the church succumbs to the pressures of the empire.

Having said that, the reason I "almost peed my pants" is that Shane will be coming to speak at our church, Quest, on November 9. Since the smoke of the election will not have settled, I am in eager anticipation of his words, especially in light of our country's new-found knowledge as to who our next president will be. I had heard rumor that Shane was going to be coming to our church to speak about "Faith & Money", but I just didn't know he would be coming so soon. The following are a couple of links about the conversation he will be having that evening in our sanctuary. The first is our pastor, Eugene Cho's, blog about Shane coming to speak. The second is the link to the Quest Church website which speaks more about the evening with Shane.

Eugene's Blog About Shane's Upcoming Visit

Quest Church's Information About the Conversation with Shane

Monday, October 20, 2008

Funny Pic

I ran across this picture on another blog tonight and just had to share it 'cause I got a kick out of it. Enjoy!

Construction Worker Sabbath

Right now where I work, at Stone Gardens Climbing Gym, we are undergoing a huge construction project. We are enlarging our weight room and adding a new bouldering area on the second floor. Thus, each day I spend a decent amount of time with the crew who is doing the work. I've been really impressed with that team. They are hard workers and do a great job as well. They don't mess around or spend their time chatting with each other. When they are supposed to be working, they really ARE.

The thing that has really caught my attention, however, is their willingness to take breaks. They work hard for a while, but when it is time to take a break, they really know how to rest. They enjoy each other's company and are often seen taking walks together to the local coffeehouse, steeped in conversation.

I think this is such a good picture of what Sabbath is meant to look like. We are designed to work hard, but at the same time called to rest, and rest well. I fear that we, as Christians, fail in this area in a number of ways. We either don't rest at all and find ourselves succumbing to a workaholic spirit, rest too much and fall into laziness, or as we try to rest we still end up filling our schedules with busyness that doesn't allow us to be replenished. May we be people who understand the rhythms of life we were created to live into and be willing to follow this God-given cadence.

A Mixed Weekend

For those of you who frequent this site, I promise that I have some deeper thoughts about life and faith that I am excited to get in writing, but for now I'll just include a quick synopsis of my weekend. Yesterday was a fantastic day of rock climbing. Climbing has become quite an obsession of mine, and Saturday was especially good as it was spent with great friends and I was able to learn and try a new type of climbing that I had never done before. I am trying my hardest to relish the final good weekends we have here in the Pacific Northwest before the rainy season (i.e. the next 6 months) begins.

Today got off to a great start with a morning spent at church. The worship was good, the sermon was fantastic, and it was special to celebrate the Eucharist with our church family. My day got worse, though, upon my return home from church. When I started up my computer and connected to the internet, I was surprised to see that I was getting demolished in fantasy football. I try not to talk about fantasy football on this site because it could easy absorb my blog life as it has my real life, but I can't help but be disappointed by my first loss of the fantasy season. I was 6-0 and in first place in the league, and just got blown out by a guy who was 1-5 (ouch!). Hope my guys (as if we're friends or something) will bounce back next weekend and return me to my elite fantasy status.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Palin or Fey?

I saw this quiz on another blog and thought I would share it with you all. Visit this link for a quiz to see if you can tell the difference between Sarah Palin and Tina Fey. They really look strikingly similar, accounting for me only getting 9 out of 10 correct. Here's the link:,0,2854155,post.triviaquiz

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Gang Member Friends

Last night I was privileged to have one of the most special conversations I've had in quite some time, and it happened to be with 2 gang members. I was meeting Mandy downtown to have dinner but I arrived early, so I walked across the street to wait for her in a park. I sat down next to a few guys and within seconds I was fully engaged with them in conversation. Within minutes they had proudly announced to me that they are in a gang. What ensued was an amazing experience with 2 intelligent, nice, loyal men.

Being from the Midwest I am naturally ignorant to gang culture, so I bombarded them with a barrage of questions as to the nature of being in a gang. They said that they were a part of the Southsiders, which is the biggest gang in America. There are Southsiders in every state and there are 13 times as many members as any other gang. They said that there are Southsiders from every profession, including police, politicians, judges, and pastors. They said that there is a ministry in Southern California that is totally run by the Mexican Mafia, so when it eventually came up in conversation that I am in school to become a pastor, they thought that was great. My new friend (not that we are having coffee anytime soon though), Keo, said that he tries to live by the Golden Rule. I think he has some really messed up theology, but it was interesting to hear a gang member speak so highly of faith. He also talked about how Southsiders see themselves not as criminals, but as outlaws. He said that they don't take from those who have little, but instead, they steal from the rich and give to the poor. He never said that he and his friend have personally killed people (although I think they probably have), but he was clear that the gang takes justice into its own hands when necessary, their own form of vigilante justice.

These guys spoke a lot about the community of gang life. There is pretty intense initiation into the Southsiders, and once you are a member there is much expected of you, including paying 10% of what you make to the gang (too bad we can't get church members to give in this way), attending regular meetings, and regular participation in gang activities. They talked of it as being a family, a tight-knit group that constantly supports each other, looks out for the best interest of their brothers and sisters, and has a well established system of mentoring new members toward fuller participation in the life of the gang.

Keo went on to ask me if I knew what the biggest gang in the world was. He said that it was the Catholic Church. He spoke about the fact that everyone is in a gang. He noticed my wedding ring and commented that I'm in a gang with my wife. He talked about politics, families, and religion all being forms of gangs, of cliques. I think I agree with him. What would the church look like if we based our fellowship on the model of our brothers and sisters in gangs, or all of our community pastors were former gang members? How would the way we care for each other look different? How would our fellowship change? How would our giving increase?

Now I know that some Christians out there would criticize me for not taking the time to share the 'gospel' with these men. I feel, though, that I was able to be present to them in some way and I just pray that my non-judgmental, non-condescending language gave them some picture of the gospel of grace and mercy our God has to offer. I count my blessings that I live in a place where I can engage the hurting and broken of this world, recognize my own brokenness in those situations, and seek to bring healing to us all through the life, death, and resurrection of our risen Lord, Jesus Christ. Grace and peace to you all.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Freeway Church

As I recently navigated the mess that is Interstate 5 here in the Seattle area, I was suddenly aware of the numerous ways that the freeway is similar to the church. The main way that I saw this idea unfold was in the way that the cars on the freeway are ultimately connected with each other, as the actions of one vehicle has such drastic impact on all the rest. It only takes sitting stopped in a traffic jam on the highway to realize this truth. The same is true for the church. What those around us in the church are doing greatly affects our lives. As Paul illustrates so beautifully through imagery of the body, we are all spokes in this cosmic wheel of life, where we each naturally and metaphysically impact each other in ways we may never even realize.

Another thing I was thinking about was the way in which people getting on and off the freeway impacts our own journey. If you think about the interstate near you, it is the on and off ramps of the road that cause the most congestion as cars must adjust to their new fellow journeyers. The same is true on our voyage of life and faith. As new people come and go from our lives, we must constantly make adjustments to the way we are traveling as we invite them into our space and we are thrust into their space as well.

A final thing I was pondering was the idea that as we journey through life we must be humble and aware enough to speed up and slow down depending on the circumstances. As we travel in our cars we know that sometimes the best thing is to speed up and "go with the flow" of traffic, while at other times it is necessary for us to slow down and be patient during that stretch of the road. The same is true of our faith journey. We must constantly be aware of who we are journeying with and whether we should move forward with quickness, beckoning those behind to pick up speed, or when to be patient, as we wait for those we journey with to gain ground so we might travel together.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Thoughts on Church

While I'm still years from the day when I will humbly begin leading a congregation as their lead pastor or church planter, my head already rattles with thoughts of what that might look like on that scary day. I recently had some new thoughts about church that I am still processing, so as I share these with you, please offer me much grace as they are not fully developed.

When wondering about what it means to 'be the church' and be 'part of a church', I think that the church fails to be the body of Christ when it fails to embody Christ. We fail to be the church when we fail to put on the ways of Christ and actually embody his life in the world around us. The "body of Christ" is not simply the name of a group, but instead, the definition of a lifestyle. The early church was refered to as Christians, or 'followers of the Way', not because they signed the weekly attendance roster at their house church, but because they put on Christ's skin in a physical, tangible, earth-changing way for the world's sake. Christians tend to treat Church participation as something to put on their spiritual resume, rather than treating their faith life as the resume itself.

With that in mind, my thoughts on church membership are beginning to change. The church is different than any group or club because it is never about membership, but only about action. I fear that churches look no different than your local Elks, Kiwanis, or Rotary Clubs, when the church was always meant to be so radically counter-cultural that it couldn't help but stand out. Church membership seemingly goes against this idea because it allows people to think they are being the body of Christ even if they are not embodying Christ. Membership also puts some people 'in' and some people 'out'. It creates an "other", when the message and life of Jesus was all about destroying those walls of separation.

Rather than membership, I wonder what it would look like for churches to covenant together toward Kingdom purposes. Rather than focusing on simply being at worship gatherings, what if all those in attendance were committing to one common cause of being the Good News to a hurting world? Here's where my humility comes in...I have no idea what that looks like, but look forward to journeying with others so we can lean into God's fullness together, so that we might make heaven a reality here on earth as a covenanting group.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Our Apartment

Mandy and I finally bit the bullet and bought a video camera yesterday. We had been wanting one for quite a while, especially for when I go out rock climbing, and I finally found a good deal on Craigslist for a lightly used JVC camcorder with a 30gb hard drive.

Mandy and I have lived here in Seattle for about 3 months now, but I realized that most of you probably don't know where we live and have never seen our home. So I thought I would use our new technology to show you a quick clip of our new dwelling here in the Emerald City.

Friday, October 3, 2008

A Great Weekend

I told you I would report on how this past weekend was, but I didn't think it would take me a week to getting around to posting. Mandy and I spent the weekend with 6 other people near Vantage, WA. Vantage is located right where I-90 crosses the Columbia River in central Washington. It is one of our favorite views in Washington so far, as basalt cliffs rise majestically above an enormous river basin. It is breathtaking.

We climbed on Saturday at a place called Frenchman's Coulee and had a great time of physical activity and Christian fellowship while enjoying God's creation. We camped at a beautiful campground on Saturday night before enjoying another half day of climbing on Sunday, returning to Seattle that afternoon.

On Sunday I took a fall while climbing a route. The rope was caught between my legs and when I fell (only a few feet) the rope burned my ankle and the back of my knee pretty bad. Other than that, we had a fantastic weekend climbing, camping, and strengthening relationships with some great, new friends.