I had the blessing of going to a three day conference this past week with my brother Garrett Warfield called “Total Church 2.0…I will Build My Church.”  It was a small conference for people thinking through what it means to be the church.  The main speakers were Steve Timmis (church planter and one of the authors of Total Church) and Michael Goheen (professor of Theology and Worldview at Trinity Western University).  We were also blessed to  sit in discussion groups with many other men and women thinking through this together. I was blessed just as much from personal conversations with brothers and sitting in small discussion groups as I was from the large teaching portions of the day.

Here are some bullet-point thoughts that stuck out to me on what it means to be the church.  Hopefully these will be encouraging to you and spark your own thought on what it means to be the church.  I hope to post more on what God taught me in the future.

This is a Gospel Project and will only work to the extent that we believe the Gospel (Steve Timmis speaking of being the church on mission in community)

Is our community ‘temporary associations of me’ or ‘missional others-focused communities’? (Drew Goodmanson)

Aim for mission, hope for community. (Drew Goodmanson)

If the church is to be faithful to its mission, it must be more deeply rooted in the events of the cross and resurrection. (Mike Goheen)

The Gospel is like a caged lion…it does not need to be defended, just released. (Goheen quoting Luther)

The primary role of the leader is culture creating.  (paraphrase from Steve Timmis)

Sunday becomes an idolatrous time…it must fill my need for solid teaching, community/fellowship, and worship. (paraphrase from David Fairchild…speaking of Sunday as an event rather than as a gathering of God’s people)

Instead of Sunday giving you the strength to make it another week, Sunday becomes a time of celebration for what God did all week. (David Fairchild…speaking of Sunday as one of many gatherings of God’s people)

Acts 1:8 gives the church our identity…’You are My witnesses.’ (Mike Goheen)

Powerful cultural idols (individualism, consumerism) are the most dangerous thing to the church today.  The only power that can deliver us is the Gospel. (Mike Goheen)

When we are enslaved to the opinion of others, then you are not free to serve them.  (Steve Timmis)

If church is just the Sunday event, how does it give a foretaste of the age to come? (Steve Timmis)

Jesus’ commission in Matthew 28 is the sending of a community…not as task assigned to individuals, but an identity given to a community. (Mike Goheen)

The church is affected by cultural idols because of believing two myths: the myth of a christian culture and the myth of cultural neutrality. (Mike Goheen)

Mission is the primary purpose of the church in the world, and community is the primary method of mission. (Steve Timmis)

God’s ultimate purpose…to bring all things together under the headship of Christ. (Steve Timmis)

You cannot serve this world until it has nothing to offer you and you are no longer enslaved to it.  When we realize the world has nothing to give us, we can live openly and with prophetic invitation to the world.  (paraphrase of Steve Timmis)

For the audio from this conference, go to: http://www.churchbootcamp.com/

The audio is not posted yet, but last’s year’s audio is up and is really helpful.


littleleagueAs I sat at Starbucks this morning, trying out the new Thanksgiving brew from the new Christmas cups, I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation between two couples about their sons and baseball.  Essentially, they were conversing about their sons’ involvement with travel baseball teams and their hopes for their sons’ futures.  They were there before I sat down and continued to talk about this for the next hour and a half…the philosophy of coaching, the age when you should get your son involved in travel ball (8 years old!), training techniques, their most recent trip to Coopertown, and more.  Without knowing these people and their thinking (a huge disclaimer), it appears that they have wrapped their lives around the baseball careers of their 12 year old sons…practices 5-6 days a week, year-round training, multiple trips across the country, and a lot of money.

Unfortunately, this conversation is all too common in Southern California (and probably across the US).  I’m not against travel sports (I played club soccer…therefore it can’t be wrong) and I’m all for using God-given ability, but some families in my city have turned the athletic success of their kids into an idol.  Some may do it for the guaranteed college scholarship, some to live through their kid’s achievement, and some for the recognition it will bring among their peers…who doesn’t want to say at your next Christmas party, “Johnny’s bowling team won the World Amateur Bowling Championship again this year!”.  The hope of gaining these idols of success, achievement, security from a scholarship, or recognition control people…these idols control their time and their money.  As parents, it’s easy to write it off as, “I just want what’s best for little Jerry.”  However, so often our identity and happiness is wrapped up in seeing our kids succeed.

While it’s easy to point the finger at the moms and dads yelling at the refs on the sidelines, we all do this same thing.  We make our kids’ academic success into an idol, their social success, and even their spiritual health.  We make our joy and meaning dependent on whether or not they get into that college, they have friends who like them, or they end up being a godly young man or woman.

Is it wrong to desire success for our kids and help them achieve it?  Absolutely not…the problem comes when our life, meaning, and joy becomes contingent upon their success.  Often without realizing it, we have made their success into our god…responsible to give our lives meaning, purpose, and joy.

The problem is that when we do this, instead of helping our kids…we crush them.  When the expectation is placed upon them, often unsaid, to bring you ultimate joy and meaning in life, you are placing a weight of expectation on them that they cannot handle.  They cannot give you the ultimate joy and meaning you seek.  All the sacrifice you make for them to succeed may look good on the outside.  But without knowing it, you may be crushing them instead of helping them live.  Even though its somewhat cliche, there is a lot of truth to the overplayed theme in movies of sons who are driven away by their father’s unrealistic expectation.  Father’s turn their sons into gods…looking to them for meaning in life…and in effect crush their sons by the weight of expectation.

This same crushing expectation will ruin careers (when your joy and meaning is dependent on your own career success), will ruin relationships and marriages (joy is dependent on your spouse), and ultimately yourself (when joy is dependent on your own personal success).

There is, however, One who wants to take the weight of your expectation and can actually bear it.  He calls us to come and cast our cares upon Him.  He will give rest to the weary soul that has been trying to carry this weight.  Our loving Father is the One who is actually able to offer ultimate joy, meaning, significance, and life.  He calls to us,

“Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat.  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.  Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?  Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance.  Incline your ear and come to Me.  Listen, that you may live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, according to the faithful mercies shown to David.” (Isaiah 55:1-3)

How does our Father offer this ultimate joy, life, and meaning so that we can truly enjoy our sons and not crush them by expectation?  He offers it by crushing His own Son so that we would not need to crush ours.  Rather than placing our need for joy and meaning on our own sons, God the Father placed our need for joy and meaning on His own Son, Jesus.  And Jesus delivers.  Rather than being ultimately destroyed, Jesus rose three days later in victory and is able to carry the extreme weight of our expectation and need for joy and life.  Therefore God tells us, “Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

When we look to our heavenly Father for ultimate joy and meaning, then we will be able to truly enjoy our careers, our marriages, and our kids.  Instead of crushing them, we will give life to them and enjoy them as they were designed to be enjoyed.

Only when God is your ultimate joy and hope will you be able to truly celebrate your son’s next home-run.

A_small_cup_of_coffeeI’m missing some people in my life…the lost.

Even though they’re the ones who are lost…needing the transforming hope-offering power of the Gospel, I feel like the one who is lost…not really having any non-Christians that I truly share life with.  One of my struggles as a Christian who gets to put all his time towards serving the Church is that I am around Christians most of the time.  I work with Christians, I live with a Christian (my beautiful wife), and my close friends are Christians.  While I am thankful for the people God has used to grow and bless me, I also know that I am struggling to be a light as God has called me to be.  Sure, there are non-Christians that come to our church gatherings…but I want to live life among and with non-Christians.  I don’t want to do this by myself, but in a community of missional believers.  In order to do this, I need to be intentional.

At times I feel paralyzed by this…feeling like the relationships I’ve slowly built at Starbucks aren’t really going anywhere.  But, this blog post by Johnathan Dodson I read today encouraged me and reminded me of how I can do this in everyday life.

He offers five ways to live everyday life with Gospel intentionality:

  1. Don’t eat alone.
  2. Be a regular.
  3. Hobby with the city.
  4. Be a good neighbor.
  5. Serve your city.

He explains each one and it is well-worth reading.  It has reminded me that living out God’s mission does not have to be as complicated as I make it.  It starts with me and a community of believers being intentional with everyday life.

Here’s the whole thing…


baby-safety-equipment_header-179008I, along with most of my brothers, use accountability software on our computers.  I would recommend it to everyone who spends anytime on a computer.  I’ll list some of the better programs below in case you’re looking for one.  These programs function as barriers for crusty hearts.  I’m very thankful for these and for the ministries that make them available…especially the ones that don’t bog down your pc (which can be easily bogged down…oh to have a mac).

I kind of think of them like safety latches on cabinet doors and drawers in the home.  You know what I’m talking about…those annoying tabs that are installed once the little one moves from push-up mode to rampant crawling, especially when they’re trucking it all over the place as bipeds.  Our daughter has just started walking in the last month and is pretty good now.  As she becomes even more mobile…I have been faced with the dilemma…do I really want to install those annoying cabinet tabs on all the low cabinets in our home.  If my daughter was trained well and knew that those were off-limits and could be dangerous to her, then there would be no need for the safety tabs…she would stay away on her own if she knew that stern punishment would soon follow the infraction.  Shouldn’t this be enough?  But what if her curiosity and rebellious nature won the day just once…what if she got into the drawer with our dynamite (or maybe just Beth’s fingernail polish)?  It could be bad.  Even though I must focus my efforts on training her heart and mind to obey (rather than just putting boundaries everywhere and letting her do what she wants), there is still a place for the annoying safety tabs.

The annoying safety tabs of internet purity are these accountability softwares (although there not quite as annoying).  The sad reality of accountability (not just internet accountability) is it’s revealing that we are not supremely motivated by desire to please God, but by a desire to please others.  Deep down (even though we sometimes fall into momentary lapses of forgetfulness), we know that God knows our hearts and knows our thoughts.  Our love for God and desire to treasure Him above all else should always be enough to dismiss the false promises of temptation.  But often they are not.  Instead, the only thing that stops us is the fear of what our brother or sister may say to us if they find out.  It seems like this fear is partly the result of knowing the presence of a brother who will slap you if you mess up, but not really knowing the presence of God with you at the moment.  At that time, the brother is more real to you than God.

While I am still thankful for the safety tabs of accountability and would rather resist temptation out of fear of man than fall into temptation…the only real answer is for me to grow in “practicing the presence of God” and keeping the reality of my God and His all-satisfying love in the forefront of my heart and mind.  I must “Turn my eyes upon Jesus so that the things of this world will grow strangely dim.”

Here are some good accountability programs:

x3watch.com– This one is free, but not quite as strong as the next two.

safeeyes.com– a little better than x3 watch

covenanteyes.com– the best one I’ve found…works on pc’s and macs and offers both filtering and accountability (or just one)

Here’s an strategy for fighting temptation put out by Desiring God:  http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/TasteAndSee/ByDate/2001/1187_A_N_T_H_E_M/

This is the only time of year I shouldn’t be surprised to see a body hanging from a tree down the street from our house.  Yet it still bothers me a little bit.  Come on…seriously guy…a fake body?  The fake body is next door to the house with a Freddy mannequin sitting on the front step…bloody face and all.  These are just two examples of the focus on death this time of year.  Why?

While I’m sure there are many reasons that people have turned death, ghouls, horror, and the like into a holiday…one possible reason has stuck out in my head recently.  I think that people want to deal with death by laughing at it.  What else could make death a little easier to swallow than dressing it up with cute casper ghosts or scaring the neighborhood kids with “Freddy” costumes on the front step?  People want to make death a little more palpable…a little easier to digest.

In all reality, these feeble attempts only gain a small chuckle when it comes to death.  In the end, no one laughs at death.  This became even more real to me as I was reading through Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina”.  The main characher, Levin, is about to leave on a journey and has grand plans for life.  Death was the furthest from his mind.  That is, until his brother Nicholas shows up at his front door.  That night, Levin sits on his bed and listens as death gains an even firmer grip on his brother.

“Nicholas went to bed but, whether he slept or not, kept tossing and coughing like a sick man and, when unable to clear his throat, muttering some complaint.  Sometimes he sighed deeply and said, ‘Oh, my God!’ Sometimes, when the phlegm choked him, he muttered angrily, ‘Oh, the devil!’  Levin long lay awake listening to him.  His thoughts were very various, but they all led up to death.

Death, the inevitable end of everything, confronted him for the first time with irresistible force.  And that Death which was present in this dear brother was not so far way as it had hitherto seemed to be.  It was within himself too–he felt it.  If not today, then tomorrow or thirty years hence, was it not all the same?  But what that inevitable Death was, he not only did not know, not only had never considered, but could not and dared not consider.

‘I am working, I want to do something, and I had forgotten that it will all end in Death!'”

Levin could not swallow the idea of Death.  And, try as they may, our world cannot swallow the idea of Death either.  Scary movies, hanging dummies, and casper ghosts will not work…in the end Death will confront everyone “with irresistible force.”

Yet, there is One who laughs at Death!  There is One who can swallow Death…indeed, He has swallowed Death.

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.  For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory, O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?’

In the end, we all will be confronted with the harsh reality of death and can’t escape it.  Yet, there is hope…because even though we can’t swallow the idea of death, Jesus has swallowed death whole for us!

Halloween props and horror films will only allow us to ignorantly chuckle at Death as it tightens the grip of its claws on us, but Jesus allows us to laugh at Death as those who have been freed from its power and no longer live under the slavery of fearing it (Heb. 2:14-15).

My thesis for my Masters degree in New Testament from Talbot is finally done! After 9 months of thinking, researching, writing, re-writing, re-writing, responding to critiques, adding, and re-writing….81 pages later, the eagle has landed and the baby has been delivered. I picked up my thesis from the duplication center today (had to be printed on a heavy-weight cotton bond paper) and handed it over to be sent off for micro-filming and binding. I’m super thankful to have this off my mind.

The title: Paul’s Understanding of the Reign of Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:20-28

My Thesis: Paul understood Christ’s reign to be both a present reign, beginning with his defeat of death through the cross and resurrection, and a future reign, ending with “the end” when he hands the kingdom over to the Father.

Would I do it again? If you asked me 3 months ago…”No”…a lot more work than I expected (and I expected a lot). If you ask me in a month…probably “Yes.” Actually, there have been many times that I regretted doing this instead of a 2 unit class…however, I don’t really regret. I have learned a lot.

Some important things God has taught me through the process…

  • Christ is presently reigning…therefore, I must live under the reign and authority of Christ my King.
  • It is scary how easy it is sometimes to do biblical studies without being impacted in your heart and changed in your life. Throughout this process, I had to stop often to ask if this was truly increasing my love for God.
  • I like writing…the more you do it, the better you get. Go figure.
  • My wife is the best, most supportive, most helpful wife and friend in the whole world…and I love her a lot.
  • You can do tons of research from your computer…using library databases and catalogues. I love .pdf’s.

Found this quote from Carson’s Matthew Commentary on Steve McCoy’s Blog…thought it was a sweet thing to think about on Thursday night…the night Jesus went to Gethsemane.

Don Carson, commenting on Jesus praying in Gethsemane in Matthew 26:42-44…

In the first garden “Not your will but mine” changed Paradise to desert and brought man from Eden to Gethsemane.  Now “Not my will but yours” brings anguish to the man who prays it but transforms the desert into the kingdom and brings man from Gethsemane to the gates of glory.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Matthew, vol 2, p 545.

VT Wins Game 1


Beth and I are leaving with 9 others from our church tomorrow to Port Alsworth, Alaska. We are going to serve at Tanalian Bible Camp for their 5th and 6th grade camp. We will be arriving at Port Alsworth via Anchorage and our beloved family, JR and Rachel Gates (and Callie and Jill). We will be gone from July 6th to July 18th.

Of course our team has a team blog to keep family and friends updated during the trip. Here it is in case you want to check it out… www.alaska1.wordpress.com

See you in a few weeks (unless you live in Alaska).

For my birthday Billy Blakey got me a beloved i-tunes gift card. Thanks Billy! I love this gift, but it is also one of the hardest gifts to use. I agonize every couple of days over whether or not I should buy a song or not. I don’t want to use up my credits. Should I buy “Freshman” by the Verve Pipe. Should I buy Derek Webb’s new album…its really good. Should I buy “Tonight, Tonight” by Smashing Pumpkins? What about the best of the 90’s…I just can decide.

A few weeks ago I broke down and used .99 cents of my $15.00. I got “My Hero” by the Foo Fighters. I know, not a very deep song…but it pumps me up.

Still $14.01 left…what should I do?

Every day I check i-tunes for Jeremy White’s album, “Asleep in a Storm“. Its still not on i-tunes. Should I wait till its there? I don’t know what to do.

That is until today! While looking for Jeremy White’s album again today, I came across a guy who I had heard of before…Jeremy Casella. He is part of the Square Peg Alliance with Andrew Osenga, Derek Webb, and others. He just released a new album in May and it was put on i-tunes 6 days ago. It is seriously one of the best albums I’ve heard in a long time. The music is original…I don’t exactly know how to describe it. The words carry significance…and they make you think. I am very excited about this Album…you should be too! Jeremy also has a blog…and I actually want to read it. It’s not lame. And he even has a link to Tim Keller!

This was definitely a good buy…

Stink…I still have $4.08 left. What should I buy?

Buy the way, Beth and I leave for Alaska tomorrow. Please pray for us if you think about it.


Blog Stats

  • 3,491 hits