Friday, October 31, 2008

today's activities: the carpet bomb of love

to promote "eat your heart out" at the winds, mexican j and i are going to be posting street signs in a variety of parking lots this morning.

look for these around jackson at: richmond agency, culligan water, big b's coffee, arrowswift, drake waters (cpa), and a few other spots tbd.

here's a sneak peak at the signs:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

the afterglow of our sexual acrobatics (excerpt from eat your heart out)

Our Sexuality is the portal of union and communion in this world with God, with others, with our true selves as image-bearers of God, and with the world.

Because that’s what we’re seeking: a way to be whole, to be un-separate, to find ourselves.

Of course, there are many distractions along the way – especially concerning our sexuality.

Many of us, for example, try to find complete wholeness through sex. But this is an illusion. Sex itself, having sex with another person, is not able to supply what we need.

No one ever believes this, though; we all seem pathologically incapable of grasping the fact that no orgasm is good enough, big enough, quick (or slow) enough, or repeated often enough to cure the sense of isolation we feel.

As soon as it’s over, we feel alone again, unless we are Loved.

But – again – no one believes this.

Sex is so much fun, it’s easy to put off the bothersome tidbit of loneliness we feel in the afterglow of our acrobatics. But the more we live the more we require to stave off that feeling. We have become a culture of sex addicts – always needing another quick fix – in order to just make it through another day.

sex on fire (some bullets + illustrations prepping for sunday)

We are made in God’s image, imprinted with His spark inside of us.
We are separated, sex-ed, and cut off.
There is something inside of us which longs for wholeness. That something is the Divine Spark. We want to be wholly with God, we want to be whole people.

The desire for wholeness with God is our spirituality.
The desire for wholeness as a person is our sexuality.

That Fire inside of us is the drive towards wholeness, whether spiritual or sexual.

Wholeness occurs through covenant.
The covenant between man and woman is marked by sex.
Wholeness happens through covenant marked by sex.

We want to be whole so we are driven to have sex; however, in the absence of covenant, sex doesn’t make us whole it commodifies us.
Sex must be exclusive and perpetual to be covenantal.
Sexual wholeness comes through exclusivity and perpetuity before God.

It is God who makes us whole sexually as author of the Covenant.
It is God who makes us whole spiritually as author of our humanity.

The Fire inside of us is the drive for wholeness, which can only be experienced through complete union and communion with God – whether sexual or spiritual or, most accurately, both.

greg boyd: the myth of a christian nation

there is no such thing as a christian nation

when i was a little boy a great tragedy overcame canada: we were no longer, officially, a christian nation.

pollsters had realized that less than 51% of canadians professed to be christians, and so our "status" had changed forever.

this was something that was lamented in every church, christian school, youth rally, pastors gathering, etc. from then on (and continues today, albeit in a less "raw" sense).

but - here's the thing: i'm not sure canada was any different when i was 28 than when i was 8 or 18. the cultural issues were largely the same, the sense of dislocation felt by christians was largely the same, and the irrelevance of the church was still a big issue.

thing is, i don't think canada was ever christian

statistically, even when we were 75% christian, most of that was a cultural version of french catholicism practiced predominantly in quebec and among other francophones.

that's not to say that catholics aren't christians, just that most francophones consider themselves catholic much in the same way that midwesterners consider themselves christian even when neither group has paid any attention to jesus, the movement of the spirit, the mission of god, prayer, daily investment in the scriptures, etc.

their christianity is cultural, like a civil religion

if the olive garden is italian, these people are christians
if vanilla ice is rap, these people are christians
if the detroit lions are a pro football team, these people are christians recap...i don't think that the label of "christian nation" ever truthfully applied to the beautiful, honorable, greately missed, great white north.

but neither do i think it applies to the united states of america.

and neither do i think it rightly applies to any nation on the planet...ever.

of course, i make these claims for entirely different reasons.

see, i think that the idea that a nation is christian based on how many christians live there is entirely flawed. even if canada were 100% populated by christians, you could never call canada christian.

everything written about nations in scripture refers specifically to the nation of israel. so, when scripture talks about a nation being saved it's referring to the covenant people of god coming clean before god and making themselves right with god.

it's not talking about canada, america, mexico, uruguay, etc.

furthermore, in the second testament we're made to understand that christians are a nation unto themselves - meaning, christians are the people (read, nation) of God regardless of where they live.

you and i live in the same "christian nation" as our christian brothers are sisters in india. we are all part of the city of god. we all live as the people of god. and our "of-god-ness" has nothing to do with national or political lines on a map.

there are no christian nations because the real christian nation is comprised of those who follow jesus, regardless of wherever they live.

this is a difficult concept to grasp - i get that - and by talking about it i run the risk of being dismissed as abstract, obscure, or idealistic.

but the apostle paul himself refers to this as a "great mystery" in ephesians.

because it is so hard to grasp.

there is no such thing as a christian country. our countries are not good because they are christian.

our countries are good only to the degree that our policies and laws, practices and agreements, bring life to the world...but that doesn't just happen because the people who make those policies claim to be christians.

now, a couple closing caveats before anyone goes weird on me:

1. nationlism is still ok - love your country, serve your country, support the leadership of your country, but don't confuse loving your country with loving christ, and never think the former is somehow equal or (god forbid) more significant than the latter.

2. believing for your country to be saved is still ok - we can mine the scriptures for all kinds of hope and promise about canada, or the usa, being healed and made whole; about violence diminishing and cities being rebuilt and children being looked after. but don't confuse this with the notion that we are a christian nation and everything we do is in service to God because we've won this label.

3. believing that your country should be ethical is still ok - we should still demand that our governments make ethical decisions (and hold them accountable when they do not). we should still oppose evil, as a nation, wherever it is found through political, economic, and - yes - sometimes military intervention.

so...what am i really saying?

1. the church has to retain its right to criticize the government. that is the role of the prophet in scripture: to keep leaders honest before god. too often our churches have gotten political, and then there's no one left being spiritual. our role is to uphold ourselves, our world, and our people before god and demand that our politicians do the same to whatever degree they are able.

2. the state + its bureaucracy are soulless, meaning they are neither good nor evil. our goodness is determined by our actions. do we heal or harm? do we cultivate life or end it? does our intervention preserve justice or compromise it? we must insist on adjudicating our nation this way, rather than simply assuming that what we do is good because of who we are; or, as has become much more popular lately, assuming that whatever we do is bad because we think our current administration is evil somehow.

3. the people of god have a responsibility to live differently in this world. we often abdicate our moral responsibility to the state and then blame them for our own lack of courage. if you want to be a genuine follower of jesus christ then live differently. don't wait for america to become a christian nation in deed as well as in name; you should begin living now as a follower of jesus in deed and in name, and when that crosses over with your duty to your country (as it must on nov.4), you should spend deep time in prayer seeking the counsel of God and the movement of the spirit and vote with your conscience.

anyway, i write all of this out of concern for christians. many of us have swallowed some bad mojo about what it means to be a christian come election time.

many of us think that christians should all be republican.
many of us, an increasing number, have found that republicans don't really feel all that christian and so we're excited (almost unthinkingly) about being democrats.

but being a christian has nothing to do with whether you land as a republican or a democrat. neither party is the party jesus would support.
neither party is godly to its core.

every choice is a choice made despite our misgivings and in spite of our disappointment.

every christian is a republican with misgivings.
every christian is a democrat with misgivings.

it's not the party that makes us christians.
it's the misgivings and what we do with them that make us christians.

Ephesians 2.11-22
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

...just because i'm still a little boy at heart

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

election day, nov.4

found this in communication arts a few issues back...seems appropriate:

excerpt from the blue parakeet (scot mcknight)

God chose to give us a collection of books, what I call wiki-stories of the Story, and together these books form into God’s story with us and God’s story for us. Acts 7 is a good example of how to read the Bible as Story even though Stephen’s speech in Acts 7 is only one wiki-story of the Story. Again, each author in the Bible is a wiki-storyteller and each book is then a wiki-story, one story in the ongoing development of the big story. These are the major elements of that story:

1. God and creation
2. Adam and Eve as Eikons who crack the Eikon
3. God’s covenant community, where humans are restored to God, self, others, and the world
4. Jesus Christ, who is the Story and in whose story we are to live
5. the church as Jesus’ covenant
6. the consummation, when all the designs of our Creator God will finally be realized forever and ever

What we discover in reading the Bible is that each telling of the Story, each wiki-story, was a Spirit-inspired telling of the Story in each person’ day in each person’s way. God spoke through Moses in Moses’ ways for Moses’ days, through David in David’s ways for David’s days, through Jesus sin Jesus’ ways for Jesus’ days, and through John in John’s ways for John’s days. God always speaks a “contemporary” word. The genius of the Bible is the continuity of the Story as each generation learns to speak it afresh in its days and in its ways.

Furthermore, each wiki-storyteller, each author in the Bible, tells a story that will lead us to the person of the Story: Jesus Christ. As Moses and Isaiah look forward to that person, so Paul and Peter and Hebrews look back to that person. Jesus Christ, then is the goal and the center of each wiki-story.

This leads me to a major strategy in reading the Bible. Every author in the Bible was divinely directed through God’s Spirit to tell a true story of the one Story. This means that your task in reading the Bible is to “map” the elements of the Story in each wiki-story. If we keep our eyes on the six elements of the Story as outlined above, we will have all we need for reading the Bible. These six elements govern the story of the Bible and each book focuses on one or more of these elements.

facebook is a graveyard

this is why facebook depresses me to no end.

i go there to mourn my dead relationships

while i'm there i exchange brief quips with people i wish i saw more but know i won't;
i spend my time ignoring those who try and chat me up at the strangely-innapropriate-yet-ever-present-funeral-wake/bbq;
i view pictures of people i used to know, like ornaments around a coffin at a funeral, and lament the fact that i didn't know them like i wish i would have when i had the chance.

i'd never go to facebook again, except for how proud i am that my mom knows how to use it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


1. Images of Atonement, Message 7, Dave McDonald
2. Real Sex, Lauren F. Winner
3. The Four Loves, C. S. Lewis
4. Soul Cravings, Erwin Raphael McManus
5. A Woman’s Place, C. S. Cowles
6. Death by Love, Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears
7. Fed on Lies About Love, Message 1, Dave McDonald
8. Liquid Love, Zygmunt Bauman
9. Marriage, A History from Obedience to Intimacy, Stephanie Coontz
10. Searching Issues, Nicky Gumbel
11. Sex God, Rob Bell
12. Slaves, Women, and Homosexuality, William J. Webb
13. The Three Hardest Words, Leonard Sweet
14. Organic Unity, Message 6, Dave McDonald
15. Paul for Everyone, Tom Wright
16. Project Love, Andrew Marin
17. Three Philosophies of Life, Peter Kreeft
18. Forgotten Among the Lilies, Ronald Rolheiser
19. Life is High School, Ben Redmond
20. The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman
21. The Holy Longing, Ronald Rolheiser
22. Mating in Captivity, Esther Perel
23. Original Blessing, Matthew Fox
24. Why Guys Need God, Mike Erre
25. Simply Christian, N. T. Wright
26. PowerPoint sources
27. Leadership, Currents

SEXY TIME (an introduction to "eat your heart out")


In 1969 the world was shocked at the first appearance of stark, sexual imagery used on network T.V. This footage featured a man and a woman in bed together for the first time on screen.

That deliciously seductive show? The Brady Bunch.

The Brady Bunch was the first show on television depicting a husband and wife sharing the same bed, and even showing them in bed together – albeit clothed in modest pajamas. Prior to this, shows had either neglected to depict the bedroom altogether or chosen to show husbands and wives sleeping in separate beds a la Fred and Wilma Flintstone.

We’ve come a long way, and – wow – things have certainly loosened up.

Over the course of this last week (October 2008), watching “normal” TV, I have seen images of startling sexuality (meaning, much more graphic than the Brady Bunch) on the following shows:

• the X-files (syndication)
• Lost
• Fringe
• Pushing Daisies
• Battlestar Gallactica (directed by Ron Moore, 2004 - )
• Firefly
• CSI Miami
• the Office
• Chuck
• Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles

Now, you might read that list and think that it’s really just a matter of choice. After all, of course you’re going to see sex on a show called “Dirty Sexy Money” or “Sex and the City” or “the ‘L’ Word.”

But that’s precisely my point.

We live in a day and age where such shows are not only permitted on network TV, but they consistently top the ratings.

These are the most popular shows on TV (barring reality television…which brands its own kind of sexual cavalcade).

Sex is everywhere; and, because of that, the Church needs to do a better job of framing sexuality in the right way.

After all, sex isn’t dirty, or clandestine, or taboo.

Sex is good…great even! And it was created by God for us to enjoy within a marriage between a man and a woman.

So this Teaching Atlas is a foray into the wonderful, exciting, stimulating and energetic world of kinetic sexuality and spiritual submission to God.

Those two things do go together, by the way…more on that later.

A couple caveats, first though:

1. This isn’t a how-to manual.
There will be no diagrams, illustrations, or “steps” you can follow. This is not the Christian kama sutra, nor is it a guide to bedroom trapeze. This is an investigation into the sacramental nature of sex.

2. This isn’t always going to be comfortable.
Talking about sex is awkward. In my case, Carmel and I are very private about our own sex life; so, at times, I may be sweating more than you will be while reading this. That’s fine. This is still something we need to address, even if it feels weird. But be careful how much you expose your children to; then again, if they’re in elementary school, chances are they know more than they should anyway, so exposing them to straight talk from a biblical perspective on human sexuality may actually be a good thing…but still, exercise discernment with your kids.

3. This isn’t all about intercourse.
In fact, most of what this Teaching Atlas will cover is about what sex IS when properly understood, not how to HAVE better sex. We believe that sex has been so distorted by our media and our culture, that it remains the task of the Church to straighten those distortions out…which is largely an issue of understanding, not a technical issue.

Now, with all that behind us, here is a brief preview of what we’ll cover in the following chapters.

Chapter one will cover the idea of gender-as-separation and sex-as-wholeness. We’ll explore what it means to be erotic, meaning full of eros (passion), and talk about a holistic chastity. Chastity, here, refers to enjoying everything fully in its appropriate context.

Chapter two will look at all the different ways in which we love. We’ll explore those loves as healthy loves, and also caution ourselves against distorted versions of those loves.

Chapter three will be a collection of all the issues I have no desire to address because of their controversial or graphic nature, chief among these being homosexuality. I encourage everyone to this chapter closely, and not to assume they know what I will say or what I will emphasize – though it is fair to note that I am a conservative pastor, and that obviously frames my outlook on these issues.

Chapter four will talk, finally, about sacred sex and the holiness of sexual covenant. We’ll explore the biblical promise of marriage and the formation of a household. Additionally, we’ll be talking through “things we wish we’d known” before getting into our married lives.

Some final notes:

• First, let’s all begin by acknowledging that we are – each of us – deeply flawed and wounded by our distortions about sexuality. Beginning here, it is easy to understand that scripture may have something to teach us about being whole.

• Second, perhaps more than anything else, this Teaching Atlas is about how to live differently from here on out. Many of us have painful memories and mistakes in our sexual past, and the good news is that we can move past these things and into a new future. Jesus promises us new life, and that new life can help us forget, move past, and make right our previous errors.

• Finally, let us all be aware that – even if we feel fine about sex and even perceive it as something worth joking about – many of those who will journey with us in this life are decidedly NOT fine. As such, we must understand that it is not okay for us to joke about them, their sexual errors, their sexual struggles, or make light of their pain.

At the end of each chapter you will find a series of questions designed to help your personalize the meaning of each chapter. Those questions are best answered in a group, so you may find one of our Westwinds satellites helpful. For more information on satellites, contact or call the church office at 517.750.1111.

theosis (christianity today article)

christianity today just did an article on theosis, which you can read here.

my friend matt just told me about it, and i'm pretty excited because much of what we've been jiving on at the winds lately is simply a re-formatting of this ancient doctrine.

in the beginning...god danced through existence

(from a series used in fusion)

In the beginning…

God danced through existence in the solitude of Threeness
The tune roared through All
Singing space and keeping time
Until there were angels and heavenly creatures marked onto the score
And the dance got a little bigger.

The universe shouted for joy
And the stars jeted and tumbled
Pieces falling and collecting
Into planets
Into orbits
Into mystery
And in to life.

The dance was joy
And peace and hope
It was holiness and romance
And all who were in the dance were One.

From the farthest reaches of space
You and I woke up to the sound of the drums.
You tapped your toes and I cleared my throat
And we began to dance in our room.

Our invitation came right away
And we accepted.
You dressed up, but I stayed cas’
And we joined in the spinning circles of interplanetary majesty and salvation.

Now, in the dance, we’re looking out at the whole
And we’re texting our friends saying
Come dance, come dance

It’s good
It’s all good

The dance just keeps going on and on
And the pleasure never stops
It’s a party
And a ball
And a prom
And a wedding
And a feast
And it’s never gonna end.


jvo did this cool outreach this past weekend called art apart [or ap(art)]

you can read the local paper's coverage of it here

or jvo's thoughts on it here

or visit jvo's super-cool-bad-boy blog here

and, of course, you can read about how proud i am of him right here:

Monday, October 27, 2008

in the beginning...the universe was created in a big, hot bang

(from a series of creation narratives used in fusion)

In the beginning…

God authored the universe in a big, hot bang.

The universe expanded from an extremely dense and hot state,
and it continues to expand today,
carrying galaxies with it like raisins in a rising loaf of bread.

Yup…it all started 16 billion years ago +/- 2 billion years.

For the first million years after the Big Bang, the universe expanded, the temperature dropped, and nuclei and atoms began to form.
Matter began to come together and make sweet galaxies under the force of gravity.
It started to rotate,
ultimately making spiral shaped galaxies like ours.
Within those galaxies hydrogen and helium were drawn together,
and got hot and heavy – literally, they got dense and warm.

Nuclear fusion commenced – lift off!

This process (still) provides the major source of fuel for stars.
Larger stars burn faster, smaller stars burn like cosmic crock pots.

As they begin to burn out, stars make heavier elements like carbon and oxygen.
Early in the universe (within the fist few hundred million years) such elements appeared only in the core of these dying stars,
but some of these stars blew up,
flinging heavier elements back into the gas in the galaxy.

Our sun is a second- or third-generation star,
a spatial step child
formed about 5 billion years ago by a great coming together of intergalactic debris.
Other debris, close by but not close enough to get sun-sucked,
became the planets in our solar system.

And, at first, our earth was a very inhospitable place.

The planet was constantly bludgeoned by giant asteroids and meteorites,
one of which actually tore the moon loose from the Earth – the first divorce.
Not surprisingly, rocks dating back 4 billion years or more show absolutely no evidence of life.

A piddling 150 million years later, the earth was crawling with life run amok
– a daystar daycare.

All of these steps in the formation of our solar system are now well described and unlikely to be revised on the basis of additional future information…
aka: we’re really, really sure this happened just like this.

Nearly all of the atoms in your body were once cooked in the nuclear furnace of an ancient supernova.

Yes, Paris – that is hot.

You are, truly, made of stardust.

Nothing grew on land until 400 million years ago,
at which point plants appeared on dry land, derived from aquatic life forms.

Beginning about 230 million years ago, dinosaurs dominated the earth.
They all died a sudden and catastrophic death about 65 million years ago,
at which an asteroid the size of Cuba fell crashed into Mexico,
creating what is now the Yucatan peninsula.
Fine crash-ash has been found around the world.
It ruined the environment and killed the dinosaurs.

This gave room for the mammals to take center stage.

That asteroid may have been the only possible way the dinosaurs could have become extinct and we could have come to power.
We probably wouldn't be here if that asteroid hadn’t slapped our neighbors to the South.

Bones of more than a dozen different man-like species have been discovered in Africa, with steadily increasing brain sizes.

The first proof of “modern” man showed up about 195,000 years ago.
Other men-folk appear to have encountered dead ends:
Neanderthals existed in Europe until 30,000 years ago,
and "hobbits," tiny people with small brains who lived in the island of Flores in Indonesia survived until 13,000 years ago.

No serious biologist today doubts the theory of evolution to explain the marvelous complexity and diversity of life.

Evolution, as a mechanism, can be and must be true.

But that says nothing about the nature of its author.

For those who believe in God, there are reasons now to be more in awe, not less.

Friday, October 24, 2008

help me to live differently (prayer for fusion, week 6: genesis)















eat your heart out (promo for sex series)

free sex atlas

in case you're curious about what we'll be teaching concerning sexuality, we've made the teaching atlas available in advance as a downloadable .pdf file.

as always, let me suggest that one of the best ways you can actually "get" something from the teaching in fusion (or in any other sermon, lecture, oratory, speech, etc) is to prep a little in advance, and then review a little later on.

trust me - that'll be a whole lot easier with material like this :)

you can download it for free here

(you can also download other atlas pdfs for free here )

great article from guns 'n roses bass player

duff mckegan was a god in 8th grade. i loved gnr, i loved everything mullet-ish and tight-pants-ed.

but everyone grow up and everyone changes; so, duff is now a dad and he is terrified of his daughters growing up in a world like ours, saturated with sex.

you can check it out here

Thursday, October 23, 2008

just finished the flash site for the next series at the winds:

it's simple, pretty, and easy to navigate.

my hope is that people will use the site as a conversation piece about sexuality and spirituality. i want our people to acknowledge that there is a spiritual dimension to sex, that sex is good and god-authored, and that our sexual identity in this world is deeply compromised.

i also want others to come to grips with the stark, honest, and bold teaching at the winds about sexuality. i want them to know this won't be a series about hugging your mom and chastely kissing your husband.

it's about sex.

and sex is spiritual.

and sex is distorted.

and part of our mandate before god in this world is to heal distortions.

and we must be part of putting sex back together again.

so, yeah:

in the beginning...god made the world in an unpopular move

(from a series used in fusion)

In the beginning, God created the universe.
This was a very unpopular move and made a lot of people angry.
They say he made it out of nothing, but I think it’s the nothingness that shows through.

Which is too bad, since there are no aliens we’re his best work thus far.

Space, by the way, is really, really big.
I mean, you think it’s a long way to the East Side Meijer
but that’s just peanuts to space.

Anyway, God made the universe
and then he made the trees –
at least, we think it was him
mostly because no one else could figure out how to get the bark on.

Those of us who loved the trees became One with Nature.
Those of who achieved Oneness, then moved on to Twoness.
I myself am at Two with Nature.

Those who couldn’t harmonize with Nature worked with machines.

On the first day they built a fire.
On the second they built a wheel, and then some aqueducts.
On the third day they made a printing press, but no one uses it anymore.
Because on the fourth day they used our new telegraph machine
and ran a cable under the Atlantic.
Then, on the fifth day they made a car, and then a plane,
and then a spaceship and ran to the moon.
On the sixth day, in reverse order, they cloned a sheep, built the internet,
and split the atom.
On the last day we regretted their decisions and tried to get back
to the way things were.

Because the future isn’t what it used to be.
I’ve seen it and it doesn’t always work.
I mean, it’s here already, but just doesn’t have the right distribution.

Honestly, what can you say about a world where God is dead
but Elvis still lives in Toledo?

These days we spend all our time looking for immortality,
but I’m afraid it’ll go on forever.
Plus, they say that the first real condition of immortality is death.
Who knows – maybe there’ll be another war and we’ll find out.
I don’t know what weapons they’d use,
but I bet the one after will be fought with sticks and stones.

Anyway – this is supposed to be about Creation.

God did it,
we’re working on figuring out the details,
and when we know them we’ll call Mel Gibson and make a movie.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

there is no such thing as premarital sex

i'm reading scot mcknight's latest book - the blue parakeet - and it's amazing. i'm a fan of scot's, and love his ability to make the academic ordinary.

he's a dude.

anyway - in a section talking about the sanctity of the marriage covenant he makes this bold claim: there is no such thing as premarital sex in the bible...all sex constitutes the entry into the covenant of marriage.

now, be honest, how many of you would have lived differently in high school if you knew that you were marrying every one of those ridiculous women in the backseat of your daddy's cadillac?

i guarantee they'd have felt differently about being stuck with you.


in the beginning...god created us in his image and likeness

(from a series used in fusion)

In the beginning…

God created us in his image and likeness -
a little bit lower than the angels, and a little bit higher than the hares.
He told us to be fruitful and multiply -
to rule the earth and to subdue it.

We were a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy people.

But we could not content ourselves with so little.
He made us his shadow,
but we wanted the light for ourselves.
We could not stand that God was Most High
and so we were always somewhat less.

He gave us dominion.
We began our domination.

Domination required instruments…
So we made weapons and went to war.

Domination required settlement…
So we took many women as slaves and there was much rape.

Domination required industry…
So we made buildings, and then we made temples, and then we made idols.

Domination required society…
So we built cities and then we made our Empire

Domination required communication…
So we constructed our propaganda.

Domination required finance…
So we sold our souls.

And then,
Sickened by what we’d become,
God repented in his heart that he’d ever made us.

And so he took it all back.

He took us back to one family
In a boat with the animals
That sailed for more than a month
on a swimmer’s sadness.

And now,
We get to start over.

There is a new beginning for us now.
There is a new creation.
There is now, therefore, no more condemnation
for those who are alive in the Word.

In this new beginning is the Word
and the Word is with God,
and the Word is God.

We are, with God, beginning.

los tres amigos

tonight, after work, carmel and the kids are picking me up and we are going out for cheap mexican food.

i love cheap mexican food.

i love that my kids will only be wasting $1 worth of food instead of a $6.99 kids' meal anywhere else.

i love that my kids will not be the only ones out of control in the restaurant (because other parents will be there enjoying the fact that they've saved $5.99 by avoiding applebee's).

yup - i love mexican food

i love my kids

i love my wife

i love my life.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

sex is broken

in all my prep for the upcoming series at the winds (eat your heart out: sexuality and spirituality) there is one simple, recurring thought i've had:

sex is broken.

now, i don't mean that sexual technique is broken
or that people don't enjoy sex
or that sex no longer satisfies like it once did, etc.

i mean simply that sex isn't what it used to be

everything good we now experience in sex
was part of god's design for it
and yet we're missing much of the rest of his design.

for example: how come sexual desire and love are predominantly at odds in our world?
how come people rarely use the same words to describe their fantasy as their spouse?
how come people laugh about lusty weekend getaways, but laugh at the prospect of 'til death do us part?'

because sex is broken

and we are broken because we have been made to have sex
not exclusively, mind you
but it is often overlooked that we are - undeniably - sexual creatures with sexual features given to us by a god who wants us (some would even say requires us) to use them in order to fully explore our humanity, our dignity, and our worth as spiritual people.

of course,
when you start talking this way people typically label you as either a pervert or a chauvinist.

but it's not perverted to find your wife incredibly sexy,
nor to fantasize about being with her (or vise versa).

in fact, it's fantastically (and i do mean fantastically) healthy.

men, after all, fantasize.

all men.

and we're supposed to fantasize about our wives.

so...i'm not perverted.

but others may accuse me of being chauvinistic. but i'm not that either! i don't think my wife exists to serve me sexually, or that all women should be slaves to their husbands or anything weird like that.

quite the opposite.

as a husband i take the call to sacrifice myself for my wife very seriously. i may not always score perfectly in that category; but i'm confident that carmel knows (because i've always done my best to demonstrate to her) that she is my top priority in this world and i want to make her happy.

that's not chauvinism!

so you see...when i say that sex is broken, i mean it. in fact, it's very difficult these days to talk about sexuality without someone labelling you with a kind of brokenness in advance, as if calling into question our societal norms is somehow deviant.

all this to say:

as we get ready to dive into this series i feel a great burden. there is a lot of hurt in our world due to sexual malfunction, and i want to help heal a few of those hurts. i know we won't fix everything for anybody, or even begin to heal anything for everybody, but it's worth trying.

it's worth doing triage for the most profound part of our humanity.

so...get ready for november 'cause we're bringing sexy back in a way that'll make justin blush and janet cover up.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

as the people of god, we suck a bit









poop...stuff there was no time for this morning are the bullets i had to leave out of fusion today in the interests of time

Subduing the Earth
• means shadowing God by fighting our monsters
o international aggression, injustice, oppression
o chaos, corruption, hatred
• means setting the world to rights

We’ve Always Failed
o Adam and Eve rebel in the Garden
o Cain invents murder
o Lamech invents polygamy
o Noah becomes the first drunk and commits incest
o Nimrod is the first warrior, chasing after battle
• We became the monsters God charged us to oppose
• We look more like Marduk than YHWH

The Flood for Failure
• God is grieved
• God re-set His creation
• God remains willing to work towards unity and deep peace between Creator and Creation

Sin has Broken the World
• King
o Our relationship with God has been broken
• Shadow
o Our relationship with ourselves has been broken
• Idols
o Our relationship with others has been broken
• Stewards
o Our relationship with the world has been broken

Saturday, October 18, 2008

what a week!

wow - i spent this week writing the atlas for our upcoming series on sex at westwinds.

for those of you who are curious about how this whole process works, let me briefly fill you in

6-12 months prior i'll decide what i'll teach on during fusion (typically, in response to something i'm noticing in the world, at the winds, or something brought to me by the staff, the elders, my mentors, or one of my friends, then let it float around my brain for a while and try and think of an angle, listen for good sources/teachers, pray and reflect

3-6 months prior i start reading on a particular topic (in addition to my normal reading) and take notes

4-6 weeks prior i start re-reading and re-noting, then breaking up a lose outline for the series

4 weeks out i give all my notes to norma, my assistant, to type up and catalogue. while she does this i take big ideas out from the major notes and group smaller ideas around them. i also begin to go a little deeper into scripture to find something 'prophetic', meaning - something critical, something provocative, something meaningful, something transformational, etc.

3 weeks out i take the whole week off and write the series in my basement non-stop. the days are long - usually 15+hours without any breaks except for meals. my family hates these weeks. at the end of the week i proof the manuscript, write questions for the satellite groups, then send it to the designer to lay it out and add the artwork...since angie has been gone, i've been the designer; so, for the last 3 series i've done the artwork and (except for genesis) the layout as well. on the last friday of this week i send the .pdf to for publishing.

2 weeks prior we print a few "in case" copies at westwinds in case lulu screws up

1 week prior we begin selling the atlases at soundwords.

during the week the series begins my prep time is almost nil. i re-read the chapter for the week from the atlas, make message slides, and pray.

now - i know this sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but i love it. i love that i get to pour this much of myself into my job. i love that this amount of effort has made a real difference in the lives of the thousands of people who read the atlases, download the pdf, download the podcasts, and catch our stuff online.

honestly, it feels so good to believe in what you're doing...i don't ever want to go back to the time of my ministry where i wasn't sure it did, and i wasn't even sure i should bother any longer.

that said, i slept 11 hours last night and just woke up from a nap during saturday morning cartoons (after, of course, coaching jake's soccer game). i needed the nap because monday-friday i slept a combined 6 hours and if i even saw another pot of coffee i'd probably have just died.

anyways - looking forwards to fusion tomorrow and week 6 of the genesis series. that series has been the most personally meaningful to me and i still feel a tremendous amount of passion for the material we'll cover this week and next

thanks for doing the winds with us.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

reading the bible - can normal people do it right?


everyone needs to read the bible and trust what they first understand
and - as time goes by - they need to read and re-read and re-read the same pieces of their bible with new tools, new insights, and new imagination

enter scot mcknight, biblical scholar par excellence, chicago native, and noted author.

he's written a new book on how to read the bible and - so far - it is excellent.

we'll be ordering a few copies to keep around the winds, so i suggest you grab one (it's very easy reading) because knowing how to read the bible is one of the hallmarks of christianity in the world today.

it's a must.

two ways of being a prophet

there are two ways of being a prophet

one is to tell the enslaved that they can be free
it is the difficult path of moses

the second is to tell those who think they are free
that they are in fact enslaved
this is the even more difficult path of jesus.

- richard rohr

monkey suit

i'm like pavlov's dog...preprogrammed for a certain response

i'm wearing a suit for the 2nd time in 8 days and my preprogramming is kicking in. i feel holier, more distant, less concerned with imagination and more preoccupied with's bad.

the suit is fine, actually - i'm pimping out the tom ford look, as best as i'm able - but it's all my associations from the suit-era that make it weird.

even my posture is different, like i've misplaced a bike seat or something.

they say the suit makes the man, and - in my case - it's true.

i'm the man.

the man i don't want to be.

i wonder how my dad does it? he's a great man, in good suits, and they don't weird him out at all. other guys do it too, so it just must be something in my programming.

i've got no politic, no skill with embassy

of course, innovation and politics are usually unwelcome bedfellows, so i guess it's not all bad.

Friday, October 10, 2008

comments from genesis series

i've been collecting comments about this series from several people and thought i'd (anonymously) throw a few out here...because, after all, one of the biggest questions i get goes something like this: omg, this series has been so amazing...i'm curious, though, what kinds of comments have you been getting.

which usually means 1 of 2 things:

1. i love this series...but i'm scared i might be the only one

2. i love this series...but you're getting crucified for teaching it, right?

and, if i'm honest, it sometimes feels like there's also a third option:

3. wow, i'm terrified by this series, but you seem so nice and sincere i'm gonna just pretend everything is okay...unless you tell me others have also been terrified and then i'm gonna fess up about my own anxiety.


anyway, here is a sampling of the feedback i've been getting:

"thank you, thank you, thank you"
- a different middle aged woman and/or middle aged man every single week

"I really appreciate how you are making us think and opening our eyes to new ways to view what the bible is telling us. I am one of those "believe on faith" people and I really don't need to understand the details and am okay with the gray area. However having this knowlege helps me have conversations with those who see it as black or white and not feel like my faith is threathened. Thank you!"
- married woman

"thank you for your courage and honesty. it has helped me find mine"
- elderly man

"YOU ARE WAY OFF BASE MONKEY-BOY!!! (just Kidding....)"
- tom, one of our elders :)

"because of you, i can love jesus again" (my personal favorite)
- middle aged woman

"the current series is great. I think we all need to be challenged, and by forcing the church to face the many issues involved, we are all growing. This series is thought provoking, and I think that is pretty cool."
- young dad

"it is refreshing to not fight over the issues but show how they can be accepted and compatible in god's creation."
- college student

"we continue to pray for you, your family, the series and the soft but strong presence of the holy spirit to draw each individual into a deeper relationship with their creator."
- father of 3

"hey fella thanks for the creation series. helps understand the rub and why we're tackling this. more thanks for taking the risk."
- his wife

"thanks for your great statement about moving out of the past and looking to the future"
- working professional

"I am amazed again with your ability to take on the big issues. A true theological gladiator. You took on tithe, addressed cherubim’s seraphim’s and thunderbirds. And now the big issues with Genesis."
- father and husband

and the most common?

"thank you for the prayers at the end of each fusion. they mean so much to me."
- about a dozen folks each weekend

anyway, i put these few out here (and there are many others i've just not bothered to include, because they say largely the same kinds of things) as a way to encourage those of you who are struggling with this material.

don't run from it.

engage it.

engage god with it. grow in it. others have found this deeply satisfying and it has helped them become more and more hospitable to the presence of god.

because - remember - this whole thing isn't about evolution (or non-evolution)...everything we do is about jesus. we're tackling this subject so that those who've been sidetracked away from jesus because of it can find their way back to him.

so don't let this issue sidetrack you. engage it, grow in it, and - if nothing else - hold on tightly to jesus in the midst of it.

he won't let you down.

my prayer to be a better human

God –

Forgive us for living in this empire,
For swallowing the idols of this world
like pills in a box
labeled for each weak day.

We have thin idols.
We have gifted idols.
We have wealthy and successful idols.
We have idols for work and for sex and for war.

Forgive us for diminishing our humanity
By thinking only of being thinner, happier, and more productive.

Forgive us for abusing our authority
And for outsourcing our responsibility
Overseas somewhere
(we think).

We’ve made the world a clinical trial
And have tried to hide the results.

Forgive us for trading away our dignity
And for the exchange of our humility
with the humiliation
of other people.

We have gotten this life so very wrong.

Stoke the embers back to life
And fire the flames of You in Us

Uncover your people.

Excavate our godliness from the Nothing forests.

We want to move with you,
Walk in step with you,
Following, dancing, making, healing
This world
So we can say, together,
with your voice:

It is good.

trip to chi town

just got back last night from a 2-day trip to chicago with our staff. we went to see the wired next fest and hit the east-river galleries.

it was all very cool, though the meals outdid the expos (russian afternoon tea, moto for dinner...yum)

anyway - LOTS of cool ideas from nextfest: aesthetic ideas, teaching rubrics, etc. and LOTS of trajectory info (i.e. you get a really good picture of where things are headed in the next few years in the areas of transportation, sustainability and design, robotics, etc.)

very well worth it.

a couple disappointments, though:

1. it was small...maybe <3,000 sq. ft. i'd expected something 10x the size.

2. many things didn't work. several robots, several displays, and the AI robotic sheep that mow the lawn by eating it weren't operational because it was too windy ( chicago, no kidding!)

3. you weren't allowed to touch anything. you'd think that somebody like wired mag would understand the importance of immersive experiences, but they were too "churchy" with all their stuff. only the pros were allowed to play, only the wealthy were allowed to touch. it sort-of sucked.

anyway, those few things aside, the event was amazing and we'll be trading on it for some time.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

cool promo idea: neil gaiman

this is the coolest "bible" thing in a long time

Commemorating the 30th anniversary of the popular New International Version translation, Zondervan is traveling to 90 cities in 44 states to allow the American people to write a verse in the new NIV Bible.

The ambitious Bible Across America tour kicked off Tuesday from Zondervan headquarters in Grand Rapids, Mich., and will make stops at special events, churches, universities, retail stores and U.S. landmarks. The tour takes shape in the form of a 42-foot luxury motorhome, donated by Spartan Motors, which will be driven more than 15,000 miles by a team of four over the next five months.

"The Bible is America's favorite book of all time. And because of its accuracy, clarity and literary quality, the NIV has become the most successful Bible translation of all time," said Moe Girkins, president and CEO of Zondervan, in a released statement. "We believe that a completely handwritten version of the NIV Bible by people from all across our country will help America rediscover the Bible in a fresh, new way."

"The Bible Across America is a symbol of Zondervan's commitment to make the Word of God more accessible and more relevant to more people," he continued. "We couldn't think of a better way to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the NIV Bible than by inviting Americans to join us on this monumental tour and open more hearts to the Word of God."

According to Zondervan, more people use an NIV Bible than any other English-language translation and there are more than 300 million copies in print worldwide.

The collection of handwritten verses, each written by 31,173 contributors on actual thin-stock Bible paper, will be published as a complete America's NIV Bible and sold in stores nationwide next year. While most verses will be written by regular American people, Zondervan hopes to collect a few from President Bush, the Rev. Billy Graham and others, according to The Associated Press.

The Michigan-based publisher plans to create two original editions, one of which will be offered to the Smithsonian Institution. The other edition will be auctioned off to benefit the International Bible Society, which owns the copyright to the NIV.

The tour stops in Detroit on Wednesday and will conclude in San Diego on Feb. 12, 2009.

On the Web:

citizens of virtue

i love games.

i've been given a new obsession.

at first blush, the site looks like everything i find distasteful about wallpaper christianity...but look closer.

for example, click on the add for passionix - a drug that keep teenagers from getting horny

or, even better, real the bios of the founders of citizens of virtue

or, if you're interested in a little gaming yourself, call the 1-888 number and get all the info you'll need to see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

1000 questions (video from fusion)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Becoming the Answer to our Prayers

reading a great little book from shane claiborne and jonathan wilson-hartgrove called "becoming the answer to our prayers."

from p. 88

"we don't want our love for the church to turn into one more way that the world convinces us to live in fear of death. parts of the church will die. but, what really excites us, is the way our god stirs up the ruins, always eager to give new life. the world will not believe that the gospel is true because we struggle hard enough to save a sinking ship. the world will believe when we practice resurrection where we are because we know the joy of new life."

christianity at j-high

i spoke at j-high today, with mike mason at their world religions class.

it was cool.

there were a smattering of christian kids - some of whom were NOT impressed with yours truly :) - and an assortment of other kids, presumably at varied points along the spiritual continuum.

it felt good to be able to talk jesus with them...because i love jesus, and i love to talk about him, and i love the thought that - in some small way - i may be cooperating with jesus to broker an introduction between him and them.

cool beans.

anyway, one moment sticks out in my mind as particularly "god"-y.

this little girl came into the room, an 8th grader maybe?, and emptied the recycling bin from mike's class. she never made eye contact with anyone. she never lifted her head. she never smiled. she seemed totally afraid.

when she left, i told the class i was going to pray for her. i did. we all did. we prayed that god would overwhelm her with love. we prayed that every moment of today she would feel his pleasure and his presence with her.

and later,
i challenged the kids in mike's class to love this little girl, and to work with the spirit in helping to heal whatever wounds she had.

i love jesus

and he loves that little girl

so i've been praying for her all morning: god, let her know your love.