Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Rob Bell Teaching at MHGS

*I originally wrote this post for my school's Experience.MHGS blog. I bring it here to let you know of my incredible excited about Rob Bell coming to teach this fall.

When Rob Bell visited Mars Hill Graduate School in January while in Seattle for his ‘Drops Like Stars Tour,’ he created quite a buzz around campus. When it was announced a week later that he would be teaching a class at our fair institution in the near future, excitement and anticipation erupted within the MHGS community. Needless to say, Rob Bell is highly respected at our school, myself included. He’s sort of a big deal!

Bell is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is the author of four books, including the widely popular Velvet Elvis. He was also the face of the first segment of short films in the Nooma series. His love for the biblical text, awareness of 1st century and contemporary culture, and unparalleled communication style make him one of the leading voices in the church today. Time Magazine has even gone as far as calling Bell ‘the next Billy Graham.’

For many MHGS students, Bell has been a voice of hope in the midst of personal doubt, questioning of faith, and uncertainty about the future of Christianity. Many of us came to this school out of disillusionment with the church, having been burned by the trappings of religion. We love the church but still desire more for her, and Bell has been a guiding light, helping lead us down paths of reclaiming and restoring her for the good. For me and my wife, at various times of difficulty in our life, Rob has served as my pastor in more ways than any local pastor with which I was in relationship, speaking truth into our lives through weekly podcasted sermons and periodical pilgrimages to his faith community in Michigan.

Bell will be a teaching a class this fall on homiletics, the ‘art of the sermon.’ He hosted a conference in Grand Rapids this past summer called ‘Poets, Prophets, and Preachers,’ where he explored the lost art of preaching for three days with thousands of pastors from across the country and around the globe. I was privileged to be there and will be forever grateful for the immense wisdom he shared with us. I cannot wait for Rob to grace MHGS with his presence and to be able to explore these profound ideas further with my fellow students. What a blessing this course will be.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tricking Ourselves into Passivity

Over the past few years a number of theologians and writers have had drastic impacts on my life. One of those thinkers is Peter Rollins. Rollins is the founder of the iKon community in Belfast, Northern Ireland and is the author of three books, including How (Not) to Speak of God. I strongly encourage you to follow his blog and check out his books. He recently wrote a blog post called "Mobsters, Paramilitaries, Children's Books and the Refusal to be Someone's Friend" that is incredibly insightful. He asks the reader to consider the ways that we perpetuate oppressive systems by our desire to befriend the individuals within that system. I appreciate Peter's willingness to make the reader think about whether we ought to take bolder stances against these abusive, systemic evils. Here is a brief snippet of his thoughts:

"A question that these observations raise concerns the profound limitation of the idea that listening to another person’s story will turn a stranger, or even enemy, into a friend. In light of the above there seems to be a problem with this statement, not in terms of its actual claim but rather in its desirability."

Click HERE to find the entire blog post.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Closing of a Chapter

Today marked a somewhat official end of the previous chapter of our lives. For the past year and a half my wife and I have been living in intentional community with 2 other married couples. While we had moved out about 2 weeks ago, we spent today cleaning the old house and getting all of our final possessions moved to our new apartment.

As Mandy and I left that barren, empty, lonely dwelling this evening, we did so with somewhat heavy hearts. We recognized that this last year and a half has been an adventure, a good story, and that as we drove away we were officially ending that tale. It was a good adventure. Donald Miller talks about writing better stories for our lives in his new book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. He says that the best, most-memorable stories are those that are out of the ordinary, that are a bit unexpected, that are both joyful and painful all wrapped up in one. This was one of those stories. We took a risk. We went out on a limb. People thought we were crazy (or swingers!). But it payed off in the end. Not every day was roses, but the experience was incredibly positive. I don't know if I would do it again, but at the same time, I wouldn't trade this experience for anything.

Thanks for the adventure Chris, Meggie, Brian, and Nicole...we love you guys!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Caution Often Needed

Unfortunately this is often true, that caution is needed when approaching some churches. May the church continue to move toward being good news to the world and not bad.

HT: The Ongoing Adventures of ASBO Jesus

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Blogging My Way to Spidey-Sense

*Note: the coming weeks will bring a number of posts about my lack of blogging over the past year, why it has happened, and how I intend to return to this rhythm of life that was once so important to me. I thought I would begin this return to blogging, however, with a post that has been a long-time-coming about why I see blogging as so important.

We at Mars Hill Graduate School quickly develop a new language in our brief time at the school. Within months of enrollment we are all constantly spouting off new words from our new-found vocabulary, one of these words being 'hermeneutics.' Hermeneutics is simply a way of seeing. Traditionally this word has mainly been used to talk about our way of seeing the Bible, often with hard and fast rules about proper biblical interpretation. At MHGS, though, we are less interested in developing prescribed rules for seeing the Bible, and more interested in having our vision crafted in a way where we see everything differently, including the Bible, our community, and the world.

One way that this vision-crafting has happen is through my process of blogging. I began blogging a few years ago with some sort of idea that I had something to offer to the world (which I still believe). I had no idea, though, how much I would be shaped through this writing process. I assumed I would be the one doing the shaping through my insightful thoughts and witty rhetoric, but I quickly realized that I was being transformed far more than I was transforming others. I was being changed.

Blogging has developed within me a heightened sense of awareness to the world around me. When I am consistent and regular in my writing, the world becomes a potential post. In some ways this could compare to a sort of spider-sense (borrowing from the comic world), as I am increasingly and acutely more alert to my surroundings. Each encounter on the bus has potential to teach. Each conversation with a friend is an opportunity for transformation. Each movie I watch or song I hear has potential for deeper understanding. Blogging has helped craft my eyes to better see the world around me. It has altered my hermeneutic. It has changed me forever.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Life Lessons from John Wooden

This past week marked the passing of John Wooden, the greatest college basketball coach of all-time, perhaps the great coach of any sport. As an avid sports fan and someone who grew up playing basketball, Wooden has always been someone I greatly respect. As a coach he won 10 NCAA National Championships in a 12 year span, a feat that no one else has come close to reaching. As a human, though, Wooden greatly inspired the people he was in relationship with, helping everyone and anyone through life transformation.

Some people seemingly live life better than others, and Wooden is one of these people. He carried with him each day a card from his father with 7 wonderful pieces of advice for living well. I had read about these rules to live by years ago, but was reminded of them this past week and thought I would pass them along to you. While these might seem a bit cliche, I have a sneaky suspicion that we would all be better people if we adhered to these pieces of wisdom.
  1. Be true to yourself.
  2. Help others.
  3. Make each day your masterpiece.
  4. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
  5. Make friendships a fine art.
  6. Build a shelter against a rainy day.
  7. Pray for guidance and count and give thanks for your blessings each day.