Monday, November 14, 2005

What is the gospel?

So, I have not posted in awhile. (I have a term paper that is sucking the life out of me – hopefully I can post on it soon.) I had that one post about how churches drive me crazy, but I deleted for two reasons. First, my apologizes to the united way, the facts of my comments may have been erroneous. Second, my negative voice in the end I felt was unhelpful. My post was about the institutionalization of the gospel.

We touched on the topic today in my cultural hermeneutics (how to interpret culture) class. Apparently Robert Gundry said something similar a few years ago, and called evangelicals to rethink a fundamentalist stance (see Jesus the Word, and John the Sectarian). In essence to reclaim our place as a sect protesting a decaying world, not the empire than evangelicalism has become. He has a point, but not quite what I had in mind.

Is it possible to “protest” a culture but still love it? By protest I mean proclaim the message of hope, of repentance and forgiveness. I think what is comes down to, is that we need to proclaim the gospel, but none of us seem to be able to articulate the gospel. So let me put it out there, how do you define the gospel?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Badgers win, Gophers disappoint me once again

As a man true to my word, I have placed this "W" for the badgers upon my blog. After taunting my friend Steve, a current Michagan resident and Badger alum, about last week's Minnesota/Michagan game and the upcoming Badger/Gopher game, a little wager was made regarding the Minnesota(my alma mater)-Wisconsin game yesterday. Had Minnesota not gut wrenchingly blown their amazing lead yesterday, and had not God clearly wanted the Badgers to win (how else can you explain it), Steve would have a large Minnesota "M" on his blog. The Gophers rushed for 400 yards and still lost this game. I'll make excuses, becasue I can; we all know the Gophers would have won this game had they been able to play their starting QB, Bryan Cupito, instead of this redshirt freshman QB Tony Mortensen. Alas my Gophers have once again let me down. At least there is alawys hockey.

Here's to you Steve and your badgers.

Steve's blog can be found at

Friday, October 07, 2005


I love U2. I am sitting here alone, it is late and I cannot really sleep. I listen to U2 and my soul is comforted. They always have that effect. You should listen to them. “Running to Stand Still” has a particularly strong effect on me; as does “Whose Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses”.

I meet this band late in life. I think I bought my first CD at the age of 18. And it has been a slow process of failing more and more in love with them.

U2 presents a messy spirituality. Following Christ is not easy, and does not always make a lot of sense. These guys are really honest about that, and I find that comforting. Their lyrics have just a sense of truth accompany them.

Aside from that they are really trying to make a difference in the world. Championing the cause of the widows and orphans in the world, and that is pretty sweet. The songs reflect the values of God’s kingdom, peace, justice, faith, hope, love, and worship.

I could say a lot more, but I think they are sweet. They’ve got some awesome skills.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Pacifism, I have really been struggling with this one lately. When I read the teachings of Christ, this seems to be at the core of Jesus’ teachings. Turn the other cheek type of thing.

I have been reading a lot of church history these days, and it is interesting to see that the early church, first 3 centuries of Christians were all pacifists. The church did not allow Christians to partake in military service. Christians never fought back if they were attacked. As many know hundreds upon thousands of Christians were persecuted and literally slaughtered without even putting up a fight at this time in history.

This all dramatically changed with the conversion of Constantine and the emergence of a Christianized Roman Empire. If everyone was a Christian it made it hard to build an army to protect the empire if everyone was a pacifist. This eventually resulted in Augustine’s writing Just War. He details when war is appropriate and when it is not.

However, I am wondering if Christians have strayed from the teachings of Christ, which never condones violence. I am not asking about the legitimacy of military, or even a government. I think governments have a certain right from God to defend themselves and go to war. I am wondering, what is the role of the Church and pacifism? Is there ever a time to defend or attack as Christians? We as Christians are called to peace. Peter was chastised for picking up the sword in the garden of Gethsemane, and Jesus harsh words are those who live by the sword will die by the sword. Is not our fight against powers and principalities, entities of the spiritual world? We are people called to peace.

If my wife is being attacked do I step in and fight? Can a Christian in good conscience enlist in military service – kill in the name of a government? Is not my responsibility to the values of the Kingdom before the values of my government? If I am unwilling to serve my government with military service should I enjoy the rights extended to me by that government? Should Christians take up arms against violence, or respond with some sort of creative passive resistance? What are your thoughts?

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Automobile

I am convinced that the automobile is the bane of modern man's existence.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Lesson on Redemption from Hardwood floors part 1

I started work on refinishing my hardwood floors recently. (Maybe this was not the best idea with school starting next week, but all in all an adventure.) As Michelle and I ripped out the nasty cream carpet we discovered a true wasteland of what was once a beautiful hardwood floor. The bedrooms were the worst, sun damaged, covered and I mean covered in paint, but not beyond repair. As we sat talking, pulling up staples and nails, a thought dawned on me. Years of negelct and abuse brought the floors to this point, and now we get to make them better. We have the privellage of redeeming them back to their oringal beauty.

I am really proud to own the house we do. I thought wow, we are redeeming these floors; more than that we are redeeming the house. I sat thinking for a moment about the various families and stories that have occurred in our old home before we were there. You see the previous owners really went the house go to the wayside. Not the greatest family situation. Now we are here making this house and hopefully this neighborhood a better place.

As I yanked nails out of the wood, I thought about the process that God takes us through in redemption. It is not always pleasant, but it is always worth it. So, I am learning a lot about home repair, and the nature of God, and how He redeems us.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


I just returned from the most refreshing of vacations. What I love about vacation is that I am away from home at the stresses of home. On vacation marriages are smoother, days are easier, and fun abounds.

Our travels took us to Cleveland, Hershey, Boston, Plymouth Rock, and Niagara Falls. It was blast. The best part was time to enjoy life, and enjoy Michelle.

It causes me to think though, why we tend to need to get away from it all to really enjoy it. Not that I do not enjoy life and it’s activities every day. However, through our holiday (that is what they call vacation in Canada) I find a deeper sense of appreciation for Michelle, and she for me.

So it dawns on me, that stress is rooted in worry, and worry is from the devil and sin. So why do we worry? Why don’t we just live life like it was a holiday, at least free from the stress part?

Matthew 6:27-34 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28 "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Helping the poor...What can we do?

I had an interesting experience today. For the last few days there has been a man standing at the end of the off ramp I use in traveling to my office. He stands as straight as he can in his rags with a cardboard sign written in black marker, “will work for food”. It is always a hard sight to see in life.

Today, I had stepped out during my lunch hour, and on the way back to the office I was finishing lunch in the car. As I took the exit and drove down the ramp, I once again saw this man. I have had more than my fill of my lunch by now, so I pull over and hand him a granola bar and yogurt. He very politely responded, “thank you brother.” Feeling the need to bring God into the picture I replied, “God bless you” and I drove off as a line of cars had built up behind me.

Driving away I thought what good were my actions.

“Sure, this man has a little more to eat.”

“Gee, I hope he has a spoon for the yogurt.”

“Maybe I should get a pizza and sit down with him for a while”

“What can really be done to bring change and hope into this man’s life?”

Connected to this event, last week a Pastor I work with shared with me a note he received from a man looking for some charity. The policy of the church is to help people once, and then continue to help them with the condition that they get involved in our church. The reasoning behind the policy is understandable. No organization can afford to be abused time and time again. Also the church understands change will only come from communion within the body of Christ. However, I do not think a homeless person could ever become involved at out church, nor the vast majority of suburban churches.

How would he receive information without a mailing address, or access to the internet? How would he bring the snack to small group? How would he get to small group? Who would have enough trust, or enough faith to let them into the house for small group?

The needs of a man like this are clearly different. Are they? In our pursuit to reach people through homogenized styled churches, what struggles could he share the other men would relate to in an accountability group?


This is the question I throw out there. My post is not an attack on my church or any other churched. I know that most people that belong to my church want to help this man, but we do not know how. We develop policies to protect us from abuse. Is not charity meant to be abused?

I have thought, we should invite him to live with us, move into the house until he gets back on his feet. This is a terrifying option, because he could be a thief, or worse. So where does faith come in for such a man?

What can we do? Homeless shelters seem to be a band aid on the problem. Christianity has traditionally been built upon the foundation of the meek and the poor. Even Jesus tells us he is homeless, with no place to lay his head. It seems the very people God gave the Kingdom to are being denied it.

So please help me, help us, what do we do?

Saturday, May 07, 2005

A Positive View

I went to my friend’s CD release party tonight, and as he was sharing the background of the CD’s title, it helped me gel some of my thoughts of late. The band is Asherstreets, and their CD is called “Dandellium”. (check them out at Anyway, the background behind the title, is the question, “what are you spreading in life?”

I have to admit I am kind of a half glass empty kind of guy. I know I have always had a critical voice, and as of late I have wondered if all my criticism is helpful in the world. I think we need to take a critical look at ourselves and our culture, but to what extent? I fear I might be spreading poison with my critical voice. Ultimately I just want to be someone who loves people, and loves God. I am amazed by my people like my wife, who are always filled with joy and love.

While things are not perfect, I do not think they are as bad as I tend to make them. Ideals are good, but they are also dangerous. For an ideal is not necessarily to be achieved, but more the mark that we strive for. There is always room for growth and improvement.

As evangelicals, we tend to view the world in a negative light. We take a particular harsh view towards humanity, unless of course someone is a fellow evangelical. Except even God does not take a harsh view towards humanity. We tend to take the view that there is nothing redeemable about a person, unless they have Christ. However, God looks at us, and does see something redeemable. That is why he redeems us. He saw the worth we have, and with joy took on shame to reconcile us to Him. The Bible does present both sides, in that our wickedness makes us totally unworthy of Him; this is not a contradiction though. While as wicked sinners we are unworthy of a perfect being such as God. However, He still sees something worth dying for in us.

God has a positive view towards our situation, and has bought the opportunity to reform us with His own blood. We too need to see the good that shines bright amongst the darkness. I am praying for a change of heart, a step away from cynicism and taking a step towards nourishment and encouragement.

I think criticism is too often born out of a spirit of having to be right. I am not saying we should stop looking at things through a critical eye, but not at the expense of the goodness. We need to question, we need to think. However, I do not want to be remembered as someone who was always right. I want to be remembered as someone who loved God, and loved people. I want to spread hope and love, and the message of redemption.

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think about such things.” (NIV)

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Ideals and Dreams

“We’ve got to follow through on our ideals, or we betray something at the heart of who we are. Outside these gates, and even within them, the culture of idealism is under siege beset by materialism and narcissism and all the other ‘isms’ of indifference”

- Bono, Harvard Graduation Speech, June of 2001

I am and idealist and I am a dreamer, and I am proud of it. I am also tired of the look of pity and scorn I receive from my elders and my peers when they realize my ideals. Why is it that we feel the need to stomp on those who dream of a better world, and who fight their own desires of indifference and security? However, I do not wish this to be an attack on them. This is a proclamation to keep dreaming.

I am sick of being told I will change to pragmatism (as even I am not pragmatic already), that I won’t think the same when I’m are older. The truth be told, I never want to give up my ideals, my deepest convictions, that define me more than anything else. I don’t want the things I believe in to erode away by the pressures of this life (Mark 4:19). I love my dream, and I will fight and rebel against myself, and any others who try to rob me of it.

I fight against myself. I see the temptation to run into the suburbs with a nice house and a nice yard. Where my kids are so over-programmed we all go nuts trying preserve hectic schedules. It makes sense, we all want security. We look out for ourselves. We find security in bigger houses, and cover up the ideals we’ve compromised for bigger TVs and bigger cars. We sell our souls to the advertisers of America, who replace our ideals with products. We then replace relationships with programs. And the whole time no one finds the guts to stand up against it. It’s terrifying, but it must be done.

So, what are my ideals? They are not original, and they are not even mine. I believe that the Kingdom of God is here, ushered in by the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ some 2000 years ago. I believe in a world where people look not just to their own interests, but also the interests of others (Phil 2:4). I believe in a world where the hungry are fed, where the thirsty are given a cup of water, where the naked are clothed (Matt 25:44). I believe in a world where the abandoned members of society are taken care of (James 1:27). I believe in a world where justice is served. I believe in a world where humility is a virtue and pride is a sin (Mark 9:33-36). I believe in redemption, forgiveness, and grace. I believe in a world that is held together by a common love for our marker and each other (Mark 12:29-31). I believe we can live in this reality today if we so chose.

Will I see these ideals fully lived out in this lifetime? Most likely not…but I cannot stop believing, and I will not stop trying.

So to my fellow dreamers, keep on dreaming