Friday, December 19, 2008

Rick Warren picked for inauguration

Barack Obama chose Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration. The AP is reporting that not everyone is happy about this. Some liberal groups who are advocates of gay rights are very upset. I'm sure that some conservative Christians are not happy with Warren for being agreeable with Obama.

I am glad that they both represent a willingness to dialogue with others who think differently. This is better then those who shoot arrows from a far, but never get in close enough to get to know people who are different then them. This will upset the extreme left or the extreme right who don't see a point in trying to understand each other.

How do you feel that Obama chose Pastor Warren to be a part of the inauguration?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A memorable gift

In this gift giving season,it is a great time to remember the greatest gift ever given.

"For God so loved the world that he GAVE his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The incarnation

"The mystery of the humanity of Christ, that He sunk Himself into our flesh, is beyond all human understanding."
Martin Luther

Monday, December 15, 2008

"I love Osama Bin Laden"

A statement like this sounds so shocking. A man who has been a leader of such evil. But isn't this what the Bible calls us to do. Doesn't Jesus teach us to love our enemies? (Matthew 5:43,44) Doesn't Paul tell us to bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse? (Romans 12:14) Doesn't Peter tell us to return evil and insult with a blessing? (I Peter 3:9) Isn't loving those who do us evil the core of who God is calling us to be?

This is not only hard for an enemy like Bin Laden, but is difficult in everyday relationships. Can you take an insult and return a kind word? Do you seek to do good to those who have wronged you?

Do you think that God is calling Christians to love Osama Bin Laden?
Is He calling us to love the person who has done wrong to us?
How do you practically show love to someone who mistreats you?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

CCDA Promo

This is a promo for the Christian Community Development Association which is a group of churches and organizations involved in engaging the needs of the poor in the name of Jesus. Find out more at

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Caring for "the poor"

Is it wrong to talk about “the poor” as a category? Many Christians, myself included, talk about our responsibility as the children of God to care for the poor. God’s heart for the poor is referenced from what is stated in the Word of God. Christian compassion is at the core of who we are as believers.

But something doesn’t feel quite right about talking about “the poor” or “the oppressed” as a category. It seems in some way demeaning. It gives the impression that they are less than. I get the feeling that to talk about the poor puts a separation of them and us as if they are different.

This becomes especially difficult when you know people who would be considered “the poor”. They are your friends. They are people you live close to.
To me, it is hard to hear them described as “the poor”. I think of them as … my neighbor, or someone I who is a part of our church, or as John Doe (insert any person’s name). It seems that there is a tension to speak of “the poor”, when the poor are the people you relate to. They are who you associate with.

Is it helpful to talk about the poor as a category or does that already cause us to treat them as different? Does anyone else relate to this tension that I am describing?

Governor arrested by the Feds

This morning, the Governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, was taken into custody by the Feds on corruption charges. Our former Governor, George Ryan, is already in federal prison on corruption charges. Welcome to politics in the land of Lincoln. There is obviously a heritage of corruption in how business is run in the government of our state.

What is your reaction to the news today? Does it concern anyone that this is where Obama cut his political teeth?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Love and truth

"Love without truth is hypocrisy, and truth without love is brutality".

Wives and Husbands

We are going through the book of I Peter as a church. Sunday, we will be looking at I Peter 3:1-7.

Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

There is a lot there. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A little creative humor

A little humor for those familiar with Emergent Villege.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Here is an informational video that we put together about the PURSUE program.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Total Church

I am reading a book right now called Total Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. I have found it to be quite engaging. They are leaders in a church community in England called The Crowded House. They focus on being an intentional gospel community and focus in urban communities with many social needs.

Here are some things that I have been reading:
"In any Christian ministry, including ministry among the poor, proclaiming and teaching the word of God must be central. And that is because the greatest need of the poor, as for us all, is to be reconciled to God and so escape his wrath. What makes Christian social involvement distinctively Christian is a commitment to reconciling the poor to God through the proclamation of the gospel."

"If we do not keep people's eternal plight in mind, then immediate needs will force their way to the top of our agenda, and we will betray the gospel and the people we profess to love. The most loving thing that we can do for the poor is to proclaim the good news of eternal salvation through Christ. It is by no means the only loving thing we can do for them, but it is the most loving thing we can do. It would be a crime of monumental proportions to knowingly withhold such good news."

These authors put a great emphasis on the responsibility of the church to be intentionally engaged in the lives of the poor and marginalized in society. But they also keep in perspective that the Gospel is the most important thing that any person needs.

Can we really care for people without being willing to share the Good News with them at some point?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Family Photos

One of my greatest joys in life is being a husband and a father. I can't say that I love getting the family together and taking family pictures, but I do appreciate the end result.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Total Church

"Church is not a meeting you attend or a place you enter. It is an identity that is ours in Christ. It is an identity that shapes the whole of life so that life and mission become 'Total Church'." from the book Total Church

Are your life and mission so connected that church is who you are and not a place you go?

Is your identity wrapped up in your church or is it just a part of life?

Is it reasonable to expect people to see church as a part of the core of who they are?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Voting patterns among Christians

There are no two voting blocks closer to one another in personal standards of morality than white evangelicals and black protestants. And there are no two voting blocks further apart.

How can this be?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Capitalism and the Kingdom of God

During this political season, Barack Obama has been and continues to be branded as a socialist. With that indictment comes the assumption that socialism is in fact evil and capitalism is good. I am personally questioning whether capitalism is actually inherently good. As I see it, capitalism, socialism, and even communism have their strengths.

The problem is humanity. The problem is sin. The problem with each system is that sinful people are involved in the system and so they end up being hurtful to people.
As a Christian, I see things differently then the world. I see the greed, the selfish ambition, and the ignoring of the poor and oppressed that often is evidenced in a capitalistic society. I also see that a system like socialism which is geared more towards community and the common good is often adulterated by corruption, arrogance, and the desire for power by a few.

I believe that we should seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness/justice.

So why do many Christians treat capitalism as if it is God’s way?

Why is socialism branded as “evil” by many in our society?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

First Black President

No matter who you voted for, it is an amazing moment in our countries history. Historic. I can't begin to imagine the emotion that most African-Americans are feeling. Congratulations to our President elect Barack Obama!

How do you feel about this historic moment?

Monday, November 3, 2008

AI to the Detroit Pistons

Eight time all-star Allen Iverson was traded today to the Detroit Pistions for Chauncy Billups and Antonio McDyess. This seems like a risky move by the Pistons to me considering they won 59 games last year and barely missed the NBA Finals.

What do you think?

No Intelligence Allowed

Last night, I finally got around to watching Ben Stein's documentary EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed. Stein goes on a fact finding journey around the world interviewing scientists. He is trying to figure out why those who consider Intelligent Design worthy of study are being shut out of academia. It is quite interesting to say the least.

Stein, a scholar in his own right, stares Darwinism in the face and holds it to the light. Most of all, he is questioning why Intelligence Design is not even allowed to be considered with being "black listed" by the scientific community. Stein is mainly calling for the freedom to ask questions and explore.

Has anyone else seen this movie?

Do you think Intelligent Design is given a fair chance in the scientific community?

Inspiring young minds

If you watch the video in my last post, you probably had the song ringing through your head. I did like the song a lot and so I watched more than once, but I was equally impressed by the students knowledge and enthusiasm about politics. I get excited about examples of good schools. So I did the obvious and googled the Ron Clark Academy.

As I checked out the site a bit, I was impressed with what I saw. Innovative teaching. Engaged students. Exciting learning environment. Quality across the board.

We need more schools like this where the teachers go to great lengths to help their students learn. I believe that all children can be inspired for greatness.

Friday, October 31, 2008

You can vote however you like

I know some believe differently, but I think that you can be a Christian and vote right or left.

What really bothers me is how angry, passionate, even hateful that people get about politics. I am especially disappointed when Christians become so judgemental and extreme. Groups like Focus on the Family have gone way over the top in my mind.

That being said, I enjoyed this video. Kids reminding us that talking politics can be intellectually engaging, but also fun and relational, not mean spirited and hateful.

When it comes down to it, you can vote for whoever you see fit as the best leader. I can still respect you. I can still be your friend. We can still go to church together. God is on the throne today and He will still be on the throne on November 5th. I hope that you are not so tense about this thing that you cannot enjoy this fun, non-partisan song.

Anyone else tired of all the hate in politics?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

History of Planned Parenthood

The history of Planned Parenthood and its targetting of the poor and often black community in America has always been a huge issue of justice for me. Barack Obama's lack of any type of real conviction on this issue is one of the most disapointing aspects of his presidental platform to me. Not that McCain is a wiz on these issues either.

Have you been disappointed with Barack's stances and opinions about abortion?

Concern for the poor

I just returned from the CCDA annual conference. The CCDA spends a lot of time and attention seeking to bring the love of Christ to the “poor”. I have heard other Christians say that there is no mandate to care for the poor.

Do you think that Christians have a responsibility to care for the poor in society?

What Biblical evidence to you have?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A man who loves his family

I saw this first on my friend Chris Brook's blog. Of all the things that I would like to be, I hope that people know me as a man who loves his family.

Monday, October 27, 2008


"If you are going to lead the orchestra, then you are going to have to turn your back on the crowd".

Thursday, October 23, 2008

African Proverb

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

A theology of celebration vs. suffering

Earlier this year, I heard Soong Chan Rah speak and was so challenged and intrigued that I decided to attend his workshop. He talked about a theology of celebration and a theology of suffering and how they look very different. It is fascinating. It is eye opening. It is convicting.

One thing that I have realized is that white evangelical Christians (of which I am one) do not like to be told that our theology is wrong or in this case incomplete. We feel defensive and want to argue the point.

Dr. Rah talked about a theology that does not understand suffering is incomplete. He challenged us that we need to learn from each other and realize that if we do not than we are left with bad theology. So the racial divide that often exists within the church is not only a problem by itself, but it also creates an incomplete (wrong) theology. So we must know and engage each other across racial and economic because we have so much to learn from each other.

Most minorities in America are OK with the fact that they have things that they must learn from white Christians. A large majority of white Christians in our country have no thought that they have something to learn from Christians outside there race. Often they don’t seek out those relationships, because they feel they get all that they need spiritually within there own race.

I understand that I am painting with a broad brush here without being able to flesh it all out, but it is long past time that the “white church” in America begins to learn from the “Latino”, “Asian”, or “Black” church.

I know that I personally have been so blessed by the instruction that I have received and the relationships that I have built outside my ethnic heritage. It has enriched my theology and sometimes even changed it. It has given me a different perspective on the world. It has humbled me. It has reminded me that I have so much to learn.

Have you ever been around people who think very different than you and realized that some of what you had thought was wrong?

A challenge to keep Christ central

Coach Wayne Gordon spoke this morning at the conference. He started out as his usually energetic self, but then became very serious and said that he wanted to share what was heavy on his heart about CCDA. He said that he wanted to warn us as an association about some things that could become detrimental to the work. There were three things that he talked about:
• Charisma without character is catastrophic.
• Bigger is not necessarily better.
• Success without spiritual depth is superficial.

The first one was a reminder that just having good leadership and energy is not enough. The character of the individual is vitally more important than anything else.

The second one was a warning about not believing that because something is big it is the best way. The opposite of that is that just because something is small does not mean that God is not at work and doing amazing things.

The last one was a key. He challenged us personally to be people of great spiritual depth. To not be doers, doers, doers who were not really close to God personally. This is such an important warning for the busy urban minister who has a million “urgent” needs always in front of them. It was a reminder to not build “kingdoms” or “ministries” that look for successful, but lack real spiritual depth. He challenged everyone to spend at least sixty minutes every day alone with God. He talked about spending at least five minutes of that in silence. I know that I struggle to take this time alone with God.

We were warned not to put Christ on the “margins of the page”, but to put him at the top of the page. It was a clear reminder that all that we do should be centered around Christ. We were reminded that we should not spend all of our time talking about our programs and never talk about the significance of Christ in what we are doing.

I appreciated the emphasis that he gave today and hope that all who were present have ears to hear.

Have you seen charisma take people far while they obviously lacked character?

Do you find yourself believing the lie that bigger is better?

Is God using you to be “successful” in serving Him, but without a real spiritual depth to that work?

CCDA Conference

I’m excited to be in Miami, FL for the annual Christian Community Development Association conference. It is a bit disappointing that I have been here more than twenty-four hours and have still not seen sunshine. It is raining right now. But the conference is full of encouragement, seeing old friends, meeting new friends, and challenging instruction. I look forward to all the ways that God will stretch me and renew me while I am here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

GIVING when times are tough

All of the talk lately in the media is about the economy. I have been thinking about how this affects peoples giving. People’s giving habits can have a great affect on the lives of others. At our church, Lighthouse Christian Fellowship, we have no paid staff, no building, no real overhead cost so a decrease in giving only affects what we are able to do.

But many churches and organizations are dependant on people’s generosity. In a small organization like Vision Nehemiah where I work, if people don’t give then we can’t make payroll (which unfortunately is the case right now). For the PURSUE program that I lead, if I can’t find people to give towards our scholarships, then we will have less scholarships to offer which could keep students from going to college. I also think of my friends at Breakthrough Urban Ministries where my wife works. They have two sites and over 50 people on staff. If people don’t give, then they will not only have to cut services, but they would also have to let go of staff.

That leads me to my thoughts about giving. Some of these things are my personal struggle in being generous when times are tough economically. So let me begin with a question.

Do we give first or do we give out of what is left over?

It seems to me that we have often given out of our abundance. After the bills are paid and we get what we “need”, then we give. As I consider this, I think of I Corinthians 16 where Paul challenges the Corinthian church to set aside money at the beginning of each week. I also had to look at II Corinthians 8,9 where Paul spends a couple of chapters talking about giving.

It seems to me that a main purpose in giving was to share in God’s resources so that there could be equality in the body of Christ. II Corinthians 8:13-15 says:
“Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little."
It almost sounds like a voluntary Christian socialism, but I will leave that point alone.

I see in chapter 9 verse 6 that “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”

And also in verse 7 that giving is more about the attitude than the amount.
“man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

My favorite verses in these two chapters are verses 12,13 of chapter 9.
“This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.”

This is what excites me most about giving. Not only that it meets needs, but also that it will validate to a watching world the faith that we claim. Wow.
So I am going to strive to be a giver despite the economic outlook. I guess that is more where faith begins in the giving process, when you can’t see how it can all work out outside of divine intervention.

How has the current economic situation affected your giving?
What has God taught you about giving over the years?

Friday, October 17, 2008

A culture of disrespect

Whether you like George W. Bush or not, he is still the president of the United States of America. I think that it is completely shameful that a movie would come out mocking a sitting president. W. opens in theaters tonight and I hope that no one shows up.

It is very disappointing to me that U.S. citizens would participate in this total disrespect of the office of the presidency. Other nations around the would must sit back and laugh at how we have shamed ourselves. We are a nation that lacks respect for authority. We lack respect for our history. We lack respect for the position of leadership that is the presidency of the United States. It is one thing to respectfully disagree with decisions and policies. It is quite another thing to disrespect authority.

I think that this attitude will continue no matter who is leading. People no longer have a basic respect for authority. Our generation seems to have little concern for respectfully disagreeing.

To what extent should we respect the authorities that God has placed over us?
(Parents, teachers, boss, police, government, pastors, etc.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Back to school

I am taking the big step of returning to school. I have applied and been accepted into a graduate program at Wheaton College. The program is Christian formation and ministry. I also have been awarded a full tuition scholarship through the Billy Graham Center for my involvement in Urban Ministry.

I am both excited and hesitant about this opportunity. I love to learn and look forward to the chance to be back in a classroom in the academic setting. I also am very grateful for the blessing from God of the scholarship that I have received. But I know that I already have a lot on my plate and wonder how this will fit in with all that. My prayer is that God will give me balance with being a husband, father, elder/pastor, coordinating PURSUE, and student.

I hope that this program will not just benefit me personally, but also my church and community.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

From the mouths of children

A little boy was overheard praying: 'Lord, if you can't make me a better boy, don't worry about it. I'm having a real good time like I am.'

After the christening of his baby brother in church, Jason sobbed all the way home in the back seat of the car. His father asked him three times what was wrong. Finally, the boy replied, 'That preacher said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, and I wanted to stay with you guys.'

A Sunday school teacher asked her children as they were on the way to church service, 'And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?' One bright little girl replied, 'Because people are sleeping.'

A father was at the beach with his children when the four-year-old son ran up to him, grabbed his hand, and led him to the shore where a seagull lay dead in the sand. 'Daddy, what happened to him?' the son asked. 'He died and went to Heaven,' the Dad replied. The boy thought a moment and then said, 'Did God throw him back down?'

A wife invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to their six-year-old daughter and said, 'Would you like to say the blessing?' 'I wouldn't know what to say,' the girl replied. 'Just say what you hear Mommy say,' the wife answered. The daughter bowed her head and said, 'Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?'

Anyone else have any stories of funny things that you have heard children say?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I'll take half!

A sad picture of where a bitter divorce can lead. This Cambodian couple decided to saw their home in half and he moved his portion.
What are your thoughts on divorce?
Is it always wrong according to the Bible? Is it ever OK?
How do you see divorce being destructive?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Thoughts for our financial situation

Matthew 6:25-34

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 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? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Does anyone else think this relates to our current situation?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Sometimes we can make our children's sports more of a priority than they should be.

"If I teach my son to keep his eye on the ball, but fail to teach him to keep his eyes on Christ, then I have failed him as a father."
Voddie Baucham

Questions for Brian McLaren

Brian McLaren continues to write books and speak on his ideas about post modern theology and ideology. A recent Christianity Today article by Scot McKnight shares positively about McLaren, but then asks some questions in three areas.


McKnight ask what is the problem with having some answers. What is the problem with clarity?

McKnight takes issue with McLaren's reducing the act and message of the cross to a protest against violence.

McKnight questions why McLaren emphasizes the kingdom of God without ever talking about the church as the agent God uses to initiate the kingdom.

I found the article quite fair and reasonable. These are questions that demand answers. McLaren cannot simply rewrite the message of the cross and expect that everyone is just supposed to fall in line or have no questions. I pray that McLaren would answer these "questions from a friend" and return to a sound doctrine and the whole message of the gospel.

Have you read McKnight's article?

Do you think that the questions that he is asking need to be answered or are they unimportant?

How should the church of today respond to McLaren and his writings and teaching?

God speaks

Monday, October 6, 2008

Is hip hop music angry in tone?

Sorry for the absence from posting. I have had a lot going on.

I came across an excellent conversation on between John McWhorter and Ta-Nahisi Coates that began by discussing hip hop music and then ventured into the role of race in our nation. I would highly suggest taking the time to listen if you are interested in the influence of hip hop music or on issues of race. You can find it here. I am a big fan of McWhorter's books and I found myself agreeing with a lot of what he said, but also found great insight from the perspective that Coates offered.

One of the points that McWhorter makes is that a key element or central ingredient to the genre of music that is hip hop is anger/rebellion/a sense of disrespect of authority. Because of that, he suggests that although it may express emotion it offers little in terms of solutions.

What do you think? Is hip hop music, at its roots, angry?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Questions about church

Last night, I spent some time meeting with some church leaders here in Chicago. The focus was about churches being a place that focuses first and foremost on making disciples. Some interesting questions were posed. Here are a few:
  • Where in the Bible do you find the idea of a "senior pastor"?
  • Does the Bible teach that people need to be "ordained"?
  • Why do we transliterate the Greek word and make the office of deacon rather than just translate and get the natural translation of servant?
  • Why do we assume that most of the churches financial resources should be spent on facilities and salaries?
  • How do we best reach the unchurched and not just steal sheep from other churches?

These are just a sampling. It seems that so much of how we practice church is based on traditions. Some of those traditions can actually distract us from our ultimate goal of making disciples who make disciples. I think that it is good to question how we now do church and make sure that it is best geared at our goal.

Any responses to some of the questions?

Any other questions that are good to ask in evaluating church as we know it?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Learning about the city

A friend of mine, Scott Lundeen, is producing video and other materials to introduce people who are unfamiliar with the issues that exist in our urban centers to ways that they can be involved. The website states that "Urban Entry is designed to generate conversation that leads to action around a variety of what have been considered “urban” issues: poverty, race relations, justice, etc."

If you are a Christian who cares about the problems that exist in the cities of America but are not sure how to get involved, I would suggest URBAN ENTRY as a first step in learning. Take the time to peruse the website and even watch the videos.

Are you looking to show the love of Christ to the problems of our inner cities?

What are some other resources that others might use to learn about how to be helpful?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Chop Chop

The Ambassador drops his new album today: The Chop Chop - From Milk To Meat.

I have listened to a few of the tracks on the web and I am looking forward to checking this project out. It is encouraging to have brothers who are bring a meaty message in the language of the street.

Monday, September 22, 2008


This is not meant to be a political endorsement of any person or political party.

I have to admit that abortion is a big issue for me. I am utterly opposed to it. For me, it is an issue of justice. If we are not a just society to those who have the least control then it will be difficult to be just at all.

For me, it is also a race issue. This website gives the best details that I have found to show that abortions are being specifically targeted at the black community. The website states:

The purpose of this website is to reveal the disproportionate number of black babies exterminated by the abortion industry in America.
Although black women constitute only 6% of the population, they comprise 36% of the abortion industry’s clientele. The leading abortion providers have chosen to exploit blacks by locating 94% of their abortuaries in urban neighborhoods with high black populations.
This high rate of abortion has decimated the black family and destroyed black neighborhoods to the detriment of society at large.

The founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, had roots in racism and aimed her organization in that direction. An organization that had from its very inception had a group of leaders who used abortion as an attack on a race.

The whole thing idea of abortion is appalling to me. To consider that it is legal in our society causes me to question the idea that we are in any way a civilized nation.

Most of all, abortion is an issue of the image of God. The taking of human life is an attack on God himself. What God "knit together" man destroys.

I pray that God will awaken our nation's conscience to this sin and we will repent.

How do you feel about abortion?

Reaching the unreached

Yesterday in our church, we had the privilege of hearing from this young man Samuel Weber. He has a sincere heart from the unreached people of the world and is seeking prayer support along with financial support. I have enjoyed meeting and getting to know Sammy a bit over the past month.

It was also a reminder of the many people in the world who have never heard the name of Jesus.

Contact me if you would like to pray for Sammy regularly and I will put you in touch with him.

Do you think that the church is focused enough on taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What is the kingdom?

Another word that I hear thrown around a lot is "kingdom". Kingdom values. Kingdom living. Establishing His kingdom. This word is used by Christians to promote a lot of different political views, social responses, and even theological positions. Often opposing views are formed using this same word is the evidence that their view is correct.

My friend Aaron asks some questions about this.

I think that our understanding of the kingdom will have a great deal of affect on how we live and what we believe.

So what is Jesus talking about when he refers to the kingdom?

What does our understanding of the kingdom tell us about how we should live?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

What is justice?

There is a lot of talk in Christian circles now a days about justice. But justice is rarely defined.

So how would you define justice?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Jesus Christ crucified

I Corinthians 2:1-5
When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.

How often do we focus on the wrong things and the wrong methods?

The spread of Christianity

"Christianity was born in the Middle East as a religion, moved to Greece and became a philosophy, journeyed to Rome and became a legal system, spread through Europe as a culture- and when it migrated to America, Christianity became big business."


Paying for good grades

The latest idea to improve education in Chicago Public schools is to pay students for good grades. $50 for an A, $35 for a B, and $20 for a C. Are you kidding me? Do they think that our tax dollars just grows on trees?

Some obvious problems:
  • Teachers pressured by parents to give good grades
  • Where will all this money come from?
  • A bigger motivation to cheat
  • Fast cash, no delayed gratification ~ this is not how life works

This idea is quite a stretch in my mind. Maybe I am just old fashion.

What do you think about this idea of improving education?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sarah Palin and the complementarian

I have noticed that the nomination of Sarah Palin has not only livened up the presidential race, but it has also generated a lot of discussion on the roles of men and women in society. Many who are excited about Palin's nomination also hold to a complementarian view of the family in which the man is the head of the household as talked about in Ephesians 5. So I have a series of questions for people to consider:
Can someone support Sarah Palin in her bid to be the VP and be a complementarian?

Is there a difference between male and female roles in the home and in society at large?

Does supporting Palin mean that men and women's roles in the workplace should be exactly the same?

Is there any correlation between male and female roles in the home, in the church, and in society at large?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Where is the outrage?

Several others have alerted me to the fact that at least 125 people were killed over the summer here in Chicago. This report compares this figure to the reported 65 people killed in Iraq over that same time period.

I am wondering, where is the public outcry. People gather for big protests over a war in Iraq. Few people seem to notice when twice as many people are dying in our city as in a war torn country.

Why is this not a bigger deal to people? Where is the national outcry for all of the lost American lives?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Multicultural Ministry

For anyone involved in a multicultural church or who would like to see their church be more multicultural, I would recommend David Anderson's book Multicultural Ministry. As someone who has spent over ten years in multicultural ministry, I found Dr. Anderson's book to be quite helpful and encouraging. He is an engaging author and also a veteran practitioner.

I personally believe that more of the church should be intentionally seeking to be multicultural and this book can give churches some helpful insight into how to move in that direction.

Has anyone else read this book? Any other suggestions of good resources for multicultural ministry?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Young and unashamed

I am encouraged. Over the last month or so, I have been noticing a common theme. The theme is in a group of young people who are not ashamed of the Gospel. When I say the Gospel, I am speaking of the message of the Gospel that Paul talked about in Romans.
The message that says that all are sinful.
The message that says that all deserve punishment.
The message that says that Jesus died to save sinners.
The message that says that God is sovereign and in complete control of past, present, and future.
This is the Gospel that I am speaking of.

The people that I have been noticing are people who I have been around the most lately. I have listened to them. I have conversed with them. I have observed their passion.

This group that I am talking about is for the most part under thirty years of age. Some of them are just teenagers. They are almost all from the city. Most grew up “poor”. All lived or live in the “hood”. Many of them don’t have a relationship with their earthly father. Most of them are black. Some of them are Hispanic.

They are actually all individuals. All of them have names and individual stories. Each have their own personality. Some are very soft spoken and others are bold. A lot of them know each other, but some of them have no earthly connection.

But they have a so many things in common.

They share a common commitment to the Gospel as I began with. But they are not postmodern in their gospel like many of their white suburban counter parts.
They may dress more casual then their “modern” parents.
They may not be bound by a sense of strict rules like no dancing or no rap music.

But they are committed to the traditional Biblical Gospel.
They are committed to the authority of scripture and sound doctrine.
They believe in pursuing holiness as a lifestyle.
They care deeply about the lost.

They are not looking to follow the trends of “enlightened” new theology. They care about the poor because the poor are in many cases their family, their neighbors, and their friends from childhood. But they have not put concern for the poor ahead of the centrality of the gospel like many of their white urban counterparts.
They still talk about Hell.
They still say that there is only one way to God.
They call abortion and homosexuality sin.

I could list their names, but the list would be long. Most of them will never receive worldly recognition. But their faith and their stories are an encouragement to this quickly aging urban Christian.

I am inspired by these urban prophets, reformers, evangelists, and servants.

“Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.”

Has anyone else seen this younger generation of reformers?

Any thoughts? Sound off.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

God is in control

Last night, some men from our church spent time discussing Romans 9 and the fact that God is in control. The sovereignty of God is comforting, but sometimes the situations of life still seem overwhelming. Here are some examples of circumstances that Christians in our community have faced or are facing:

  • Preparing for college when most in your high school will drop out before graduation.
  • Your brother steals your identity leaving you in debt and with bad credit.
  • You find your 20 something neighbor dead in her bed.
  • Trying to trust God and others knowing you have been abused.
  • Being harassed by police for “looking suspicious” while walking down the street.
  • Moving from place to place as a child because your mother can’t keep a job or pay rent.
  • Your 12 year old brother is shot and killed while riding his bike.
  • Your mother is fighting for her life with cancer.
  • Trying to follow Christ knowing your mother has AIDS and your brother is in and out of jail.

The Christian life was not promised to be easy. Sometimes life can seem unbearable. On our own we want to quit. We may even question God.

But He is in control. He knows best. We must learn to trust him. I have learned that from the Christians around me. I am inspired by their faith and their perseverance. It is a testimony to their belief in a sovereign God.

Do you have trouble believing that God is in control?
Are their situations for you that cause you to question God or his judgment?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

11 wonderful years

Today is my wedding anniversary! I don't know how the time has past so quickly, but I thank God for eleven wonderful years of marriage. It seems like just yesterday that Lisa and I were spending the week together to celebrate ten years.

God has blessed me with a wonderful wife, friend, support, and compliment. Most don't know how much Lisa does to support me in the things that God allows me to be a part of. I have tried to do the same for her as she pursues the dreams that God has given her. What a wonderful gift marriage is.

I look forward to the many years ahead and to my beautiful bride I say "I love you forever".

Friday, August 29, 2008

CT article on Brian McClaren

I received my Christianity Today magazine in the mail today. I am always interested to find out what will be inside. This magazines, if nothing else, tells what is being talked about in American Christianity. This issue contains an article written by popular writer and blogger Scot McKnight about often controversial Brian McClaren.

McKnight begins with some context of how he views McClaren and all things emergent and then asks a few of the critical questions that many are asking.

Questions like: What about clarity? Why does McClaren enjoy stirring up controversial thoughts without explaining what he means? What about the cross? McKnight asks some other questions that I would have about McClaren's understanding of the purpose and significance of the cross. McKnight quotes McClaren's descriptions of the purpose of the cross as a movement of peace and liberation. Nothing about total depravity. Nothing about man's desperate need of a savior. Lastly, McKnight poses some questions about the failure to mention the role of the church in the "kingdom" agenda. He points out that the message is always about the kingdom, but never mentions the church.

McKnight states "according to the New Testament, the kingdom vision of Jesus is, is seems, only implemented through the church". So he questions why the church is rarely if ever mentioned in McClaren's writings.

Overall, I felt that Scot McKnight asked some of the critical questions that need to be addressed. I would have asked more, but it was only a magazine article and not a book so I understand.

McClaren has made a habit of making outlandish statements in the name of Christianity. He also seems to enjoy interpreting God's will from his own personal perceptions of the world how he feels about what the Bible says. He really has a problem with people who simply read the Bible and believe that it means what it says.

I have long been concerned for the many Christians who believe that McClaren's opinions are from the Bible so I am thankful for some healthy critique of his teaching in a very respectful way. I would encourage you to read the article for yourself if you have interests in the emergent movement or any forms of post modern Christianity.

If you read the article, what did you think of it?

What are your thoughts on McClaren and his many writings and teachings?

Knowing God

"The modern scientist has lost God amid the wonders of His world; we Christians are in real danger of losing God amid the wonders of His Word".

A.W. Tozer

Are you accomplishing something?

“Merely because we are busy, or even skilled, doing something does not necessarily mean that we are getting anything accomplished”.

Robert Coleman

Convicting? I know it is for me.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


"The goal of prayer is not to gratify our selfish desires, but to align our wills with God's purpose".

John MacArthur

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


It is a challenge asking people for money. I started PURSUE to support Christian young people who wanted to go to college. I wanted to see those who wanted to stand behind urban young people have a pathway to do that. I have found that people believe in this goal. The difficult thing for me is asking people to give.
I have never liked fundraising. I do it because I want to see networks built. I want those who can help to connect with those who need that support. I like seeing the church work like it was designed to.
I am trying to match a grant by the end of this month to help fund our scholarships. It has been challenging, but every time someone commits to giving I am encouraged.
I thank God for the generousity of His people.
Does anyone have some good advice on fundraising?

REBEL drops September 30th

Lecrae's newest project will be released on September 30th. You can pre-order today at Reach Records.

If it is anything like the rest of his music, I'm sure that it will be hot. What blesses me is the authentic lifestyle of faith in this brother. Lecrae was in Chicago last week for our Legacy
and I was able to talk to him, observe him, etc. a lot. He even spent the night at my house a couple of nights. I appreciate him more as a man of God than I do his music. Glory to God.

Are you planning to purchase this new album?

Update on Lawrice

On Thursday, I posted about a young man named Lawrice who is pursuing his dreams. The story was about a woman named Keri Wyatt Kent who I am connected to. Network. Lawrice had contacted her looking for support in his endeavors. Keri met with Lawrice and his grandmother yesterday and shares her story here.
I get excited about people using their network to support others. I am encouraged when young people who lack a good network receive support from the greater Christian community. This story is a great example of what we are trying to do with PURSUE.
Contact Keri through her blog if you would like to help support Lawrice as well.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

People need people

One of the reason's that I started PURSUE is to offer a network to young people. Many ambitious Christian young people in the city desire to pursue dreams, but they lack the network of support that can help them succeed. I have seen this first hand.

Keri Wyatt Kent, who I have never met, is a Christian author. We have many mutual friends including Arloa Sutter, the executive director of Breakthrough Urban Ministries where my wife works. Keri was indirectly a part of my network. Arloa suggested she contact me this week regarding a young person she knew who need assistance getting to college to pursue his dreams.

This young man, Lawrice, has worked hard, prepared himself, and is on his way. He lacked a network and reached out to Keri. Read her story about this here.

Take time to read her story and if God is leading you, I would ask you to consider helping Lawrice as well and contact Keri about how you can do that. My hope is that Keri's network and my network can become a network of support to Lawrice.

How have you seen knowing people and having relationships help you to succeed?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Still unequal

A group of Chicago ministers are seeking to bring the inequalities in school funding to light. Their method is to ask students to boycott the first day of school to bring attention to this issue.

Many of these ministers are men that I have met and have a great deal of respect for. But I have serious questions about this method of bringing the issue to the forefront.

I do agree with them that education is still quite separate and unequal in this country. I do agree that children in our neighborhood are served with substandard schools while other communities have a shopping mall of learning opportunities in their schools.

My concern is more to do with why ask children to not go to school to highlight the importance of school. Especially since funding is largely based on attendance. These schools will receive less in funding because of these students not showing up. Some of these same pastors led campaigns last year going door to door to ask parents to have their children at school on the first day in order to help increase funding. The messages seem mixed to me.

Do you agree that education is still unequal in our country?
Do you think having kids protest school is a good way to make a statement about this issue?
What can be done to help bring equality in this area?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cullen Jones

Cullen Jones swims for the US Olympic team. He also is working hard to promote swimming among African-Americans. He doesn't just think it is fun, he believes it can be a matter of life and death. In fact, Cullen almost drowned at age 6 at a waterpark. The lifeguards saved his life by doing CPR.

Statistics show that 60% of African-Americans can't swim. Also, African-American children ages 5-14 are three times as likely to drowned as white children in the same category.
I always appreciate those who use their gifts to benefit others and society. I take special interest in those who seek the well being of African-Americans.
Has anyone else been encouraged by the story of an Olympian?

Back to school

Justin, Marcus, & Lamar
Touring the campus
Climbing a mountain
I get excited about young people going to college. I am especially encouraged by young people who have faced many obstacles and lack many educational opportunities, but still pursue a college education. That is a big part of why I started PURSUE.
I just got back from taking on of the students from our church back to Liberty University to start his sophomore year. His commitment to his education is an encouragement to me. Two of our teenagers rode with me for the long ride (12 hours each way). It was a great time to fellowship and also to talk with them about their academic future.
I thank God for the young people who are a part of our church family. They encourage and inspire me. They remind me that the church has a great future.
Does anyone else see reason to hope in the future of the church?

Thursday, August 7, 2008


One week from today, the Legacy Disciplemaking Conference begins here in Chicago. This conference is one of a kind. Not only is it very urban in its style and approach, but the collection of ministers who come to serve and teach is exciting. Lecrae & the whole 116 Clique, Da Truth, Flame, Shai Linne, Paul Washer, etc.

It is exciting to be a part of bringing this event to our young urban leaders. Please be in prayer that God will use this event to spur on another generation of disciplemakers.

Will you be at the Legacy?

Monday, August 4, 2008


"How many lives are wasted by people who believe that the Christian life means simply avoiding badness and providing for the family. So there is no adultery, no stealing, no killing, no embezzlement, no fraud- just lots of hard work during the day, and lots of TV and PG-13 videos in the evening (during quality family time), and lots of fun stuff on the weekend- woven around church (mostly). This is the life for millions of people. Wasted life. We were created for more, far more".
John Piper - "Don't Waste Your Life"

I don't want to waste my life!

How about you?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

AC Green

AC Green speaking with our group
The kids watching him
AC giving my son Joshua an autograph

3BA action
I got to meet AC Green today. I had long admired him as an outspoken person about his faith. His book "Victory" was encouraging to me as a young man as well. Today he took time to tour Breakthrough Urban Ministries and our neighborhood. He showed up at my kids t-ball game and met the kids.
In the short time that I saw him there and at the game tonight, I was impressed with his genuine interest in people. I noticed him remembering and using peoples names. He was meeting loooooots of people and then calling them all by name when he would move on. He also was in no hurry. It is as if he knows that his fame can be used as a platform of influence for good and so he takes seriously his responsibility to do that. If leadership is influence, then AC is a great leader.
Thank you AC for showing the love of Jesus to our community today.
Has anyone ever met someone who had great influence and used it well to promote the kingdom?

Friday, August 1, 2008


Anyone else hear about the 3BA? It is a new league forming. This summer they are touring in several cities. Tomorrow night, they are at the UIC Pavilion here in Chicago. Our family is going free through Breakthrough Urban Ministries. A.C. Green who is coaching the team from Portland donated tickets to Breakthrough. Check it out here. 3 on 3. Full court. 18 second shot clock. The whole concept is quite different. It can be hard to create a new sport or a marketable variation of a sport. Remember the XFL?

What do you think about this idea of innovating the game of basketball?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

How we do church

A long time friend of mine asked me this week about our church. One of the questions he asked was "why we do church the way we do at Lighthouse?"

In our church, we meet primarily in homes. Sunday morning, we have groups in homes. We have children's Bible study at someones house. We have our ladies group in a home. We meet as men at someones house. Much of church life is expressed in homes, restaurants, and other real life settings. We do meet once a month for a corporate service so that all of our people can be together in one setting, but that is more of the exception.

So why do we choose to practice church like this?

There is a lot to it, but I would begin by saying that it is not out of a belief that meeting in homes is the only way that church should be done. I believe that the traditional methods of church in the west are good options.

So here are a few of the reasons that I gave as to why we have chosen to practice church in this way:

  • It costs less money. (We are a small church on the west side of Chicago with few resources. We just feel that what we have should not be spent on a building. Those resources are better used for us by investing in people.)
  • We value people more than programs. (Church being practiced in homes is by nature very relational. We emphasize the "one anothers" of scripture. We emphasize church as "family".)
  • We want to reach the lost and those who have a reason to not like "church". (Some people are looking for something that doesn't seem like church. They want something that feels more authentic and not like a show. These tend to be the people that we attract.)
  • We want to develop leaders. (We are an elder led church, not a senior pastor led church. We have a goal of turning people into leaders. I have seen our style of church allow for all types of people to feel comfortable leading.)

These are a few of the reasons that I shared. All of them have much more to the explanation. There are a number of other reasons why we do things the way we do. It is not perfect, but it is the reality that we feel that God has called us too.

What types of things has your church done to be effective in your context? What would you change about the way church is done? Do you think that new forms of church are becoming more common?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

New swingset

Our kids, the neighbor kids, and kids from our church have already been enjoying the new swingset.

Thanks to TGBC

Thanks to the Trinity Grace Brethren Youth Group of Northwood, OH for all of their hard work this weekend.

When did slavery end? Or has it?

In today's Chicago Tribune, columnist Leonard Pitts writes that slavery did not end in America in 1865. He shares some of the methods of slavery that existed long after slavery was officially abolished. He references a new book called "Slavery by Another Name".
Here are just a few of the examples that he shares:
"...the system was so elaborate that businesses could put in orders with local sheriffs to arrest the number of men they needed."
" the antebellum years, a slave represented an investment of up to $2,000, but in this new economy, slave labor was cheap, which made slave life cheaper still."
"...white men were openly buying and selling black men under this system until after World War II."
It is easy to paint hard lines on history. It is easy to say, "that was a long time ago". As we do that, we often ignore what is really going on. We ignore the systems of slavery that still affect our society today. We turn our heads as slavery in its cruelest forms is still practiced around the world.

Do you believe that slavery still exists in America? How should a Christian respond to slavery?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

You must die

"Daily Christian living is daily Christian dying. The dying I have in mind is the dying of comfort and security and reputation and health and family and friends and wealth and homeland. These may be taken from us at any time in the path of Christ-exalting obedience."

John Piper - Don't Waste Your Life

Are you ready to die?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Life lessons

Here are some humorous, but with some truth to them, life lessons that I came across today.

Life’s lessons (and ages at which the person learned them)
-Lending money to friends and relatives causes them to get amnesia. (32)
-No situation is so bad that losing your temper won’t make it worse. (41)
-You shouldn’t leave your fork on the plate when you reheat food in the microwave. (13)
-When you’re too busy for friends, you’re too busy. (48)
-Life is like a 10-speed bicycle—most of us have gears we never use. (59)
-When parents say, “It doesn’t matter what we think—you are the one dating him,” they hate the guy. (24)
-Keep your words soft and tender because tomorrow you may have to eat them. (38)
-The more mistakes you make, the smarter you get. (13)
-If you are still talking about what you did yesterday, you haven’t done much today. (21)

I found some good nuggets of truth in there. I especially relate to the fact that you get smarter from the mistakes that you make. A lot of my learning has come by doing.

Do any of these life lessons relate to something that you have learned?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Goodbye to Starbucks

Many of you have heard that Starbucks is closing around 600 stores nation wide. Our local Starbucks here on the west side is being closed as a part of that. The Chicago Tribune wrote about it today. The Tribune states that the nearest Starbucks is 2 1/2 miles away.

This Starbucks opened less than two years ago. To many on the west side it was a sign that investors were finally willing to start their businesses here as well. It was a sign of hope. And now it is leaving. It may just be a financial decision to headquarters in Seattle, but glimpses of hope that are then quickly removed is a story all to familiar to Chicago's west side neighborhoods.

On a more personal note, this Starbucks has been the site of our weekly elders meeting for our church. I guess, we will be looking for a new meeting place.

Anyone else affected by a closing Starbucks?
Why do you think that businesses refuse to invest in neighborhoods like mine?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


It has been disappointing to me to see the steady drift in our culture towards all out acceptance of homosexuality. Many states have now passed laws allowing some type of gay marriage. The media promotes tolerance. It is an aggressive and in your face agenda. But I can expect these things from the world.

What I have been the most surprised by is the move by many within the "church" to accept this type of behavior as normal. Churches are not only teaching that homosexuality is OK, but they are going to the point of appointing leaders who are open about their involvement in this lifestyle. This breaks my heart. The "church" looks so much like the rest of society instead of like the spotless bride.

Is not Romans 1 quite clear about this perversion? Doesn't the Bible consistently (OT & NT) show homosexual practice to be offensive to God? Why is this clear issue so easily ignored today?

Does anyone else have strong feelings about the way many in the church have handled this issue?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sounding like a conservative

Barack Obama is continuing to champion the message of personal responsibility. Speaking at the NAACP convention in Cincinnati last night he said "...we also have to demand more from ourselves. Now, I know some say I’ve been too tough on folks about this responsibility stuff. But I’m not going to stop talking about it. Because I believe that in the end, it doesn’t matter how much money we invest in our communities, or how many 10-point plans we propose, or how many government programs we launch – none of it will make any difference if we don’t seize more responsibility in our own lives". You can find the entire speech here.

This type of talk does not sound like the typical rhetoric of liberal politics. If you didn't know better, you might think that I was quoting Bill Cosby, Shelby Steele, Armstrong Williams, or some other conservative voice.

Barack is specifically responding to Jesse Jackson and others who have accused him of "talking down to black people". He is saying that he believes government is responsible to help provide opportunities, but ultimately individuals must take responsibility for things as well.

How do you feel about Barack's call to personal responsibility? Do you feel that he is "talking down to people"?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Images of Obama

When does "freedom of the press" become propaganda? This is the cover of the newest issue of The New Yorker. Barack and Michelle Obama in the oval office. Barack as a Muslim. Michelle as a gun carrying militant. Flag burning in the fire place. Osama Bin Laden on the wall.

The sad thing is that there are many in America who believe this type of image to be the real picture.

How do you feel about this magazine cover?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Shayna's Birthday

Today is my daughter Shayna's 10th birthday. She is growing up to be a lovely young lady.

Today, I am reminded how fast time flies. I am wondering, "how did she get so old so fast?".

Are there things in life that remind you how quickly life passes?