Thursday, December 21, 2006

See, it works!

Check out this article: Humanitarian aid: winning the terror war

Seems that Jesus was on to something in the Sermon on the Mount when he tells us to "do good to those who hate you" (Luke 6:27). Maybe it's time to start listening to Him.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Please get out of the new road, If you can't lend your hand...

Are young evangelicals leaning left?
by Venessa Mendenhall
Online NewsHour with Jim Lehrer 11-22-2006

"Your deeds, Mr. President -- neglecting the needy to coddle the rich, desecrating the environment and misleading the country into war -- do not exemplify the faith we live by," stated a letter of protest signed by over 800 students, faculty members and alumni at the conservative Christian Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., objecting to the commencement address given by President Bush in May 2005.

Twenty-two-year-old biology major Nathan Haan was a junior when the protests erupted on his campus. As the co-chairman of Calvin's Environmental Stewardship Coalition, Haan felt strongly that the president was not living up to his responsibilities as an evangelical Christian.

"The two primary tenants of the Christian faith are to care for the poor, and to care for the earth. The Bush administration wasn't doing a good job on either" Haan said.

Although few Christian leaders today would disagree that charity and stewardship are important religious values, the question of priority is another issue. According to Paul Froese, a sociologist of religion at Baylor University, such disagreements are threatening to divide the Bush administration's evangelical base.

"There is tremendous strife within evangelical groups in terms of what issues should be collectively prioritized," Froese said. "I've been to evangelical conferences where the speaker insists that poverty is all evangelicals should care about, and I've seen some in the congregation nod their heads in agreement, while other members of the audience walk out in protest."

And according to data provided by the religious research and advocacy organization, The Barna Group, it may be young evangelicals who are leading this challenge to the current conservative politics of their religious elders.

Not only are they more liberal on several of the hot button issues currently driving conservative politics, many evangelicals in Generation Next want to change the conversation all together, putting traditionally left-leaning concerns such as the environment and social justice to the forefront of the evangelical movement.

Cooling hot-button issues

According to experts, there is a notable generational difference at play between how younger and older evangelicals approach the controversial issues of abortion or gay marriage. For Froese, the reason is simple: exposure.

"I've been to so many churches where a preacher will say something about homosexuality, and all these young people will get upset about it," said Brandon Rhodes, a 22-year-old evangelical from Portland, Ore. "We have a much more nuanced and compassionate view. When your sister or your friend is out of the closet, you can't just say, 'Oh you sinner.'"

According to "The New Gay Teenager," a book published by Harvard University Press last year, the average gay person now comes out just before or after graduating high school.

The chances of a young evangelical making it through their teens or their early 20s without befriending someone of a different religious background or sexual orientation are getting remarkably small -- and, experts agree, this new reality is beginning to change a generation's approach to these issues.

According to preliminary studies by The Barna Group, 18-29-year-old, born-again Christians are some 15 percent more likely to find homosexuality morally acceptable than their religious elders.

Further, less than half of them favor a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

"They care about losing marriage, but they aren't going to scapegoat gays and lesbians for the breakdown of the American family," explained Jim Wallis, left-leaning Evangelical leader and author of "God's Politics."

Acording to research by The Barna Group, born-again Christians actually have a higher divorce rate than non-born-again Christians, and this reality has influenced a generation's view on the problems facing marriage today, said Wallis.

"They know from experience that divorce is the far deeper cause of the breakdown, and they are frustrated that their leaders aren't speaking out against it. Young people have gay friends, and that proximity brings compassion and understanding," Wallis said.

Although young evangelicals generally oppose abortion rights, their views on the issue are often similarly nuanced. Nick Price, a 22 year old who lives in Chicago, believes that better health care, rather than criminalization, should be the Christian response to the problem of abortion.

"I would love to see a government that makes abortion obsolete," Price said. "Criminalizing abortion doesn't get to the heart of the matter. Instead we need public policies that support women and children."

Rhodes, the young evangelical from Portland, agreed. "We are becoming politically ambidextrous," he said, referencing a quote by Christian activist Brian Mclaren. "We'll be pro-life, but we'll be pro-circle-of-life as well. ... After all, family values means taking care of future generations."

For Rhodes, this concern for the future has turned into a mission to turn the attention of his evangelical peers away from such issues and toward the problems of social and environmental injustice.

"If you love the Creator, take care of creation"

In November, a few dozen young religious leaders from around the country descended on Washington, D.C. to present the federal government with a statement on global warming signed by over 1,250 evangelical college students. Brandon Rhodes was part of this Evangelical Youth Climate Initiative.

"We want politicians to know that the next generation of Christians considers dealing with climate change to be a moral and biblical mandate," Rhodes said.

"We'd like to speak with [incoming House] Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi, and I think she might let us in. . . But I don't know about George [Bush]."

According to preliminary data from the 2006 Baylor Survey on Religion, over 80 percent of 18-25-year-old white evangelicals believe that the federal government should do more to protect the environment.

For Peter Illyn, founder and president of the nonprofit group Restoring Eden, this position emerges naturally from a post-modern world view that worries about the environmental costs of contemporary living.

"Environmental stewardship resonates very strongly with this generation. It goes hand-in-hand with their faith. Removing it seems artificial," Illyn noted.

The struggle ahead, Illyn said, is not in convincing young people to recognize the environmental problems we are facing, but rather to persuade their religious elders that it's an issue worth prioritizing. "I really believe that this is not just a fad or a phase. I honestly think that there are enough of them that they are going to change the conversation significantly."

Bucking the status quo

For many young evangelicals, the complex realities of poverty and disease often lead them to challenge -- if not repudiate -- the moral conservatism of their religious elders.

According to Nick Price, evangelicals have a special calling to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic both in the United States and abroad. From his point of view, that call is not exclusively for abstinence-only education.

"People are dying, we have to deal with that issue first. Teaching about condom use is necessary, and it definitely helps," Price said. "If you want to argue about it, go to your own corner and argue. But don't get in the way of those of us trying to stop this disease."

Amy Jonason, 20-year-old co-chairwoman of Calvin College's Social Justice Committee, agreed.

"Having a personal relationship with God mandates a critical engagement with the world. Where we choose to live, what we choose to buy and how we tend to vote are all things we should be thinking about as Christians," Jonason said.

Global poverty has been the central focus of her student committee, with an emphasis on fair trade and labor practices. Her group also educates the student community about the genocides in Darfur and northern Uganda, and raises money for Christian world hunger relief organizations.

Although some of her more conservative peers accuse her group of trying to convert students to the Democratic Party, such liberal opinions among young evangelicals are more common than many people assume.

For instance, the 2006 Baylor Survey on religion found that approximately 60 percent of young people affiliated with an evangelical church believe that the federal government should work to redistribute wealth more evenly. An equal percentage also agreed that the government should regulate business practices more closely.

Taking "liberal" stances on the issues of poverty or the degradation of the environment, however, is a distant cry from actually voting that way. It is this discrepancy that leaves open the question: Just what political impact will young left-leaning evangelicals to have?

Will they mobilize?

Young evangelicals, like many of their elders, are looking to politics and the government as a way to implement their religious beliefs. According to the Baylor study, nearly 70 percent of them believe that the federal government should advocate and defend Christian values.

Although the Republican Party lost votes across all age brackets in November, it was the youngest voters who registered the most dramatic shift to the left. According to the Pew Research Center, support for Democratic candidates jumped from 16 percent to 26 percent for 18-29-year-old white evangelicals between the 2004 and 2006 elections.

Yet, thus far, social justice or environmental concerns aren't driving voting patters, according to sociologist Paul Froese.

Nathan Haan, the student from Calvin College, isn't convinced that this is going to change anytime soon.

"It is something that worries me," Haan admitted. "I don't think that care for the environment is going to trump abortion for mainstream evangelicals."

Brandon Rhodes from Portland, however, remains hopeful -- and angry. "The pro-life platform is total lip-service from the Republicans. Evangelicals are starting to realize this, and that should scare the hell out of every Republican in office."

I bolded the areas I particularly liked.
10 points for anyone who gets the refrence in the blog title.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Negitive Campian Ads

I am so sick of these things. I cannot believe how rotten campaign ads have gotten. Jim Talent hates veterans; Claire McCaskill hates my grandma, come on people! You can make anyone sound like a jerk by taking things they have said and done completely out of context, your ability to do that says nothing to how well you can represent Missouri in the US Senate.

Then I read here that this stuff actually work. Sad. Sad that people who we look to run our country are the kind of people who would sell the sort of lies they sell about another person in order to get elected. Sad that we (U.S. citizens) are the kind of people who actually buy into their lies. Something has got to change. Any campaign ad saying anything other then "this is what I plan to do when I am in office" should be banned. So much money goes into these ads that tell us nothing except how well a candidate can manipulate information to slander there opponent. All this is doing is making the American political system look like a filthy joke. Imagine what would happen if a candidate used all that money they spend on attacking each other on helping the causes and people they claim to want to be serving.

On November 7th there is no way I am going to vote for either Jim Tallent or Claire McCaskill (if anyone from the McCaskill camp happens to find this through google or whatever, that means you have lost my vote because of your ads attacking Talent). So, after a little research I found an alternative, you can count my vote for Missouri's US Senator for Progressive Party candidate Ms. Lydia Lewis. Someone who, at least in my viewing area, hasn't run a single ad attacking anyone, hasn't run a single ad at all for that matter, more power to her. This will be the first time I have ever voted for a third party candidate, but if these ads don't stop it won't be the last. From now on every time I see one of these ads I am going to get on-line and see if there are any better options then the candidate indorsing the ad.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh: PART 2

In almost all societies of which history and anthropology have record, this has been the case. The male of nearly every society has ruled over the female, often to the point of holding her life in his hands. This is not just sexual desire,. It is the natural affinity of the female for the male, often including even the nurturing tendency of womankind. It is strong enough that often men can--and do--manipulate women unfairly by taking advantage of it in many ways, both petty and important.

Some Christians have used this verse to justify the exclusion of women from significant participation in the life of the church. But the church is a society of the redeemed. The church should model the Orders of Creation and Redemption, not of the Fall. In creation, female and male are formed equally in the image of God. In Christ, the Redeemer and Lord of the church, there is neither male nor female. In the church, the body and bride of Christ, that should be the basis of polity and practice.

So, my question is, has the church, men in the church, men who profess to know and follow Jesus Christ, are we living in the Order of the Fall or in the Order of Redemption?

It is what living a Christian life is all about, living and acting out the Order of Redemption. It is imperative for Christian men to start holding their wives up as equal partners, as two come together as one flesh. Not oppressing them or holding them down as someone to meet your every selfish desire or submit to your selfish demands. I may be getting a little heated about this, but I can not fathom for the life of me how a Christian can look at the example of Christ, the love of God, the Orders of Creation and Redemption, the kingdom coming, and have any inclination that they have the right to hold an oppressive power over another human being, especially the one who knows you better then anyone.

It is about time that Christian men raise up and start acting out the Order of Redemption in every are of our lives, especially in the most important of all human relationships, that between a husband and wife.

Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh: PART 1

NOTE: Blogger was acting wierd and wouldn't let my post the whole thing at once, so you get this one in two parts.

My pastor (and friend) Josh let me borrow this: "Ezer Cenegdo: A Power Like Him, Facing Him as Equal" written by Nazarene Theological Seminary Professor Joseph E. Coleson. What an amazing read. I wanted to share a part of it that particularly peeked my interest. (emphasis added)

Genesis 3:16b: He Shall Rule over You
To the woman He said: "_________________
Also, to your man shall be your desire,
But he shall rule over you."

God's statement here to the woman (and then to the man) have more the character of predictions that of judgments. Now that sin had entered the world, the order of the world had been changed. But these changes introduced by sin were not (and are not) the arbitrary judgments of God; rather they were (and are) the inevitable consequences of choosing separation from God.

We may even see in these changes God's arrangement of things in the best way possible, now that sin had come into the world. At the least, we should not regard the new state of affairs that God outlined here as permanent and unalterable throughout eternity. God already had announced the promise of redemption through the Seed of the woman (3:15). According to Paul (Romans 8:18-25), all creation ultimately will share in this redemption, begun already in the Christian through the work of Christ.

The woman had sinned first; God showed her the consequences of her sin first. God's second pronouncement usually has been taken as God's command--or at least as God's permission--for man to dominate woman. Given God's original intention as seen in the Order if Creation, given God's ultimate intention as seen in the Order of Redemption, God's command is precisely what this cannot be. If it is God's permission, it is so only in the most remote sense, in the same way that God usually does not actively prevent any person from committing any evil. In the end, men who take selfish advantage of women will come under God's judgment.

God simply was saying to the woman, "You will desire a lover, you will get a master. The man will take advantage of your desire and bend it to his own ends." The woman, in giving the fruit of the tree to her husband, had bent him to her desire. Now her desire constantly would be bent toward him, even when it was to her disadvantage. Her desire would be so strong towards her husband that it would give him the leverage to rule over her.

Friday, September 15, 2006


Earlier this month Derek Webb (formarly of Caedmon's Call) released his 2005 album Mockingbird for FREE download at I recommend downloading it as soon as possiable and then telling all your friends about it.

You can read my review of it on my "Top Albums of 2005" blog post.


Wait, there is more!!!

Also, some friends of mine and I are doing a year long "mix tape" trade. We each basically assemble a mix and design album art for it and each month one person gets to post their mix for the rest of the group. Well, I am making my mix available to all!

It's called The Wanderer. It is a made up songtrack to a made up movie about a guy who goes through a sorta life crisis thing. He freaks out, leaves his family, his faith, everything he holds valuable and takes a long walk. As he is walking he runs into people, experiences, and spends some time alone wrestling with his thoughts and yelling at God. Through all of this he learns that there is a confort in not always knowing the answers, in his doubt, in the unconfortable. He finds hope, love, faith and even God in the unanswered questions.


Monday, August 14, 2006

What a mess we've made

I have been thinking a lot lately, as most people have, about the mess in the Middle East. I think it is easy for us to look at what is going on over there and blame it on extremists, or warring sides, or differences in religion or any of the other numerous things we can place blame in to help us disconnect from the reality of it all. But what if we are partially to blame?

Can you imagine what it must be like growing up in a small poor country in turmoil your whole life? Living in a village where the only money comes from other nations (the US) paying and arming the men in your village to kill whoever they don't like at the time? What does that embed into your consciousness? A physical dollar figure is being placed on the heads of those who aren't even your enemy other then the fact that someone is paying to make them your enemy. Then we come into a nation and try and force democracy on a people who have been both being paid to kill for us and being killed by those we pay. Is it any wonder it doesn't work?

In Israel you have a country that for some reason the US has decided to stand by no matter what, shooting missiles into another country that not to long ago we where praising as a great example of democracy working in the middle east. We are sending billions of dollars in weaponry to one side and millions of dollars of aid to the other. What good does our aid do if we supply the bombs doing the damage? Is anyone really suprised that we are perceived as a "great evil"?

It just makes me wonder what could be if we spent anywhere near that much money on feeding and clothing people instead of arming them and giving them an enemy. I mean how many times is that going to come back and bite us before we learn it just doesn't work? We need a serious change in our Foreign Policy direction. It really seems like the middle east has become nothing more then a giant game of Risk played by rich western men in suits who have never farther into these countries then their own embassies. Like puppets pulling strings that effect thousands of innocent lives. It just breaks my heart.

My former pastor, Brain posted a great blog the other day about this, take a look. He is a much better writer then I am.

"When justice is bought and sold just like weapons of war,
the ones who always pay are the poorest of the poor."
-Derek Webb - "My Enemies Are Men Like Me"

Monday, August 07, 2006

Gutsy Faith Weeks 2&3

Okay, I am falling behind already.

We are really getting into some good stuff in the Gutsy Faith group. This is the second time I have read the book, since I designed the cover I read the manuscript almost a year ago, but having this discussion group to share thoughts, ideas, and testimony with has sure made a difference in what I am getting out of the book. If you have the opportunity to read Gutsy Faith with a group I highly recommend it.

Anyways. In week 2 we covered chapters 4-6, and in week 3 we looked at chapters 7-9.
In the group we talked a lot about prayer and wrestled with the idea of God not wanting to say "no" to us. I still am not sure I buy that statement, but I understand now what Jeff is getting at. It isn't a matter of God wanting to say yes or no to us; it is a matter of us desiring God's will. Basically, if God is saying "no" you probably aren't asking the right questions, or at least not at the right time.

Sometime during my college years I heard a sermon about the Lord's Prayer that got me thinking about the way I pray. It seems that even when my intentions are pure that my prayers end up self motivated. At that time I made a decision to pray for God's will specifically by stating it. Ever since then I have prayed for something and then asked that God fulfill that prayer only if it is His will, and if it is not, to shape my will to His. Half of the time it is nothing more then lip service, as my heart still desires what I want more then what God wants, but if nothing else it is a reminder to me set my desires aside and that God surely does have my best interest in mind.

There was one section that really stood out to me in these chapters, not because it is anything I haven't thought before, more because it was a powerful reminder to me of what it means to live Gutsy Faith. Here is what Jeff says in reference to Christ telling His disciples they had the power to move mountains.

"It's important to understand that since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, God has been about the business of restoring all of creation to Himself. In the Exodus, we see God at work, bringing cataclysmic plagues on Egypt, parting the Red Sea, feeding the Israelites with manna, all in the eventual goal of restoring creation. Through the work of the Old Testament prophets, and the work of the judges and kings of Israel, we see God at work restoring all of creation. In the Gospels, we see Jesus performing miracles left and right, all in the interest of restoring creation. God has worked through nature, through the hands of His people, and through His own presence to bring about restoration.

And in Matt. 21:18-22 we find Jesus telling His disciples that if they have faith and don't doubt, they can and will move mountains. Jesus isn't just giving them challenging word to deal with their daily trials and sufferings. He's far beyond that. He's thinking of Kingdom issues here. Jesus is challenging them to be so close to God the Father, knowing and understanding His voice so clearly, that when they hear Him whisper, "Go move that mountain," they will know it immediately, and in faith will do so because it will be God's power moving it, not their own, all for the purpose of bringing about restoration."

Well, until next week, if you have any incites on prayer or things you can do to improve your prayer life, or anything else this post brings to you mind, leave it in the comments below.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Gutsy Faith - Week1

Okay, this is my first post for the Gutsy Faith discussion group. It's a group of people brought together to read and share my friend Jeff Edmondson's new book Gutsy Faith (I designed the cover for the book!). We are suppose to blog on our readings each week and we get together on Tuesdays and discuss what we have read, so let's get started, feel free to follow along, heck, buy the book and really follow along! I am going to go through the discussion questions on here and I may go off on tangents of my own, but it's my blog, so I can.

Chapter 1 - Where Guts Begins

What does it mean to you to have Gutsy Faith? - To me it means trusting in God with everything I am. Trusting God has created me for God's perfect plan, that God's will is the best for my life, is the best for God's kingdom. It means trusting in God's word, in God's promise to me, trusting God without compromise. This applies to EVERY area of my life. I think we (american Christians) have a serious problem trusting God to provide our every need, we feel we have to earn as much as we can, to get ahead because the future is unknown, we have a terrible fear of the future. Fear seems to drive the very culture of this country, to truly trust God we have to learn to rise above that fear. This has got to be one of the most difficult parts for me.

Name at least 5 people in the course of your life whom you see as having gutsy faith. - This one is hard for me to answer. I am not sure I know anyone who lives a completely gutsy faith, I am not sure it is humanly possible, we are a fallen people. Different people in my life, and some outside of it have been great examples of gutsy faith. My wife teaches me each day what it really means to trust and to love God, just through our relationship with each other. Some people who I would look to as really obvious examples of gutsy faith are St. Francis, St. Benedict, John Wesley, Mother Teresa, and Dorothy Day. These people to me had more gutsy in their faith then anyone. They trusted God enough to give EVERYTHING of themselves for God and God's kingdom. They lived their lives in a manner that put God and other before self. They gave up ways of life, completely trusting God to provide, so they could spread the gospel and lay down their lives for others. This, to me is what gutsy faith is really all about.

Chapter 2- Yes, No, or Later?

In this chapter Jeff is focusing on the idea that it is never God's desire to say "no" to God's children. That is an interesting statement, I am not sure I agree with that or not, it is a pretty complicated idea. On one hand, I don't think God would ever say or do anything outside of His perfect will, and therefore I think God would, and does quite often say "no" to our prayers, because our prayers are often driven out of selfishness, or sometimes even out of good, but misguided, intention. On the other hand, if you are praying as you should, for God's will to be done despite what that means you may have to do or give up, then God would only answer "yes". The problem comes down to interpreting God's will, knowing what that looks like in our lives. I don't have the confidence to claim I have any idea what that looks like, so when I pray I try to pray that God's will be done, whether I know or "agree" with it or not. The hard part is making sure you allow God to take control of your life enough to lead you by God's will.

Chapter 3 - Everything He Asked For

This chapter is based on the idea that God always gave Christ everything He asked for (giving Matt. 14:13-23 as an example of this). My first reaction was "what about that whole 'take my cup from me'" scene in the garden of  Gethsemane? But at the end of the chapter Jeff tells me to hold my horses, he will get to that later, so I will take his word on that. I can't wait to see what he has to say about it. The premises of Jeff's statement makes sense to me though. Christ would never  ask for anything outside of God's will, Christ is the son of God, but at the same time also God. God and Jesus share one good and perfect will, they can not be separated, so to me it makes perfect sense that God answered Jesus with "yes" at all times.

If God always answered Jesus' requests with a yes, do you think it's possible for Him to answer all your requests with yes? - I suppose it is, if my will lines up with God's will, which I am sure, as a fallen being it rarely does. But if I keep my desire set on that, on having my will be God's will, then I am at least growing in that direction. And I know for a fact that is one prayer God does not answer "no" to.

So, in conclusion, I would like to ask that God break my stubborn will, mold me into His own perfect will, make it one with His. This is my prayer as I start this journey of  gutsy faith.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Recent Recommendations

Lately I have been enjoying quit a bit of good music, literature, and some other random stuff. I thought I would share some of it with my loyal readers (both of you).


A New Kind of Christian - Brian McLaren

Okay, I have put up a fight about this whole "emergent church" and "post-modern" thing. They have become such buzz words these days, it drives me crazy. Because of this I have been avoiding McLaren as well. Well, I finally caved and check out A New Kind of Christian from the library.

What an great book! Never before have I felt so much like someone opened up my head, ripped out my thoughts, and communicated them in a much better manner then I ever could have.

I was a little anoyed with how the very idea of the book somewhat contradicts the subject manner, McLaren is defiantly more "modern" then I think he would admit, but I also think that is needed. The book really breaks post-modern thought down in a modern sort of way. For a modern to truly understand post-modernity they need it explained by someone who understands modernity, in modern terms. I could not do this, guys like Donald Miller could not do this, we are to "post-modern", but McLaren is amazing at doing this. I think he is a modern with a strong draw towards post modernity, one who kind of bridges the gap if you will. I highly recommend this book to anyone who might feel like the modern church has left them out in the cold or feeling like a misfit, or anyone who wants understand why the church is loosing my generation at an alarming rate.

Through Painted Deserts - Donald Miller

I have become a fan of Miller recently. He is most famous for his book, Blue Like Jazz which is also I great book I would recommend, but Jazz left me with wanting more from his writing, the idea of the book defiantly out shined the writing style of it. Jazz kind of felt drumbed down and simplified. Not so with Through Painted Deserts. This book to me seemed more honest and pure then Jazz. It is actually a story of a road trip Miller took with a friend earlier in his life, leading him from where he grew up in Texas to where he now resides, in Oregon.

What I like the most about this book is how he takes the simple events of this journey and really lets the reader reflect on how God moved through him during those few months. There is no set out structure of "God will do this, God taught me this, God proved that to me" it is just an honest memoir of his travels that allow the reader to learn from those experiences in any way God is teaching them through Millers story (very "post-modern"). I think that is something really lacking from books in the "christian industry" where there are way to many books that tell you what you are "suppose to" get out of them instead of letting God use the book in your life any way He sees fit. Props to Miller on this one. I recommend it, esp. for anyone in a transitional period in their life.


Ships - Danielson

This is by far my favorite new album of 2006 so far. I also can tell you right now that not all of you are going to like it. Danielson (aka: Brother Danielson, the Danielson Famile, Dan Smith) to me represents the basic musical emotion of honest child like joy and innocence. If you are someone who takes things very seriously you won't get it, so don't bother. It is the kind of music that if you can bare with for a few minutes it will force you to smile and you won't stop until the album is over. Danielson touch's on some very deep and sometimes dark subject manner with his writing, but there is a constant thread of hope and joy strung through everything he does that to me is a perfect example of that child like joy and faith that can be found in Christ. Danielson is truly one of the most creative Christian artists to come around in a long time. You can witness what an effect creativity can have when you witness how successful he has been outside the "christian industry". Sadly it is also evidence that sometimes the world values creativity more then Christians do. That needs to change.

So, if you want something completely new, completely dif rent, and completely wonderful, check out Ships esp. tracks 1-4.

The Eraser - Thom Yorke

The Eraser is Thom Yorke's (front man for Radiohead) solo debt album. It is a wonderful beautiful piece of art.

If you are a Radiohead fan, this album is a must. If you find Radiohead inaccessible or weird, this album may be a better place to start then a Radiohead album. It is basically a tamer, easier to listen to and easier to understand Radiohead. Not as groundbreaking as each new Radiohead album, but just as beautiful. Get it!

Reprieve - Ani DiFranco

Ani has never been one who was afraid to speak her mind and tell you what she thinks about something.  That alone is reason to love her music. Then she combines it with a creative brand of folk rock that only she can bring and her passionate vocals that make you believe she really could change the world.

Whether you agree with her world view or not, this is a great musician with a lot of heart that anyone could enjoy. Give Reprieve a listen.


Kansas City T-Bones baseball: Because the Royals are terrible and Independent League baseball is fun.

Mt. Magazine State Park: Because the Rockies and Cascades are to far away.

My blog (shameless plug): Because in the next few weeks I will be going through a book called Gutsy Faith (which I designed) with a group of people and discussing it each week right here.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Barack Obama at 'Call to Renewal'

Here is an excerpt from the keynote speech Senator Barak Obama gave at Jim Wallis' 'Call to Renewal' conference. I have added the link to the Call to Renewal website to the causes™ section of my left side menu. The rest of the speech can be read here or you can go to iTunes Podcasts and search for Barak Obama. It's an amazing speech by my favorite politician right now, so I highly recommend reading or listening to it. I do think I take more of a hard stance on using my biblical beliefs to direct my political ideology then he makes it sound like in the speech. For me it is the very reason I have a feel strongly about social justice, peace, moral budgets, even the first amendment and making others of different faiths feel comfortable in the same country as me, all of that stems from my desire to be Christ-like. I do agree with what he is getting at though.

While I've already laid out some of the work that progressive leaders need to do, I want to talk a little bit about what conservative leaders need to do -- some truths they need to acknowledge.

For one, they need to understand the critical role that the separation of church and state has played in preserving not only our democracy, but the robustness of our religious practice. Folks tend to forget that during our founding, it wasn't the atheists or the civil libertarians who were the most effective champions of the First Amendment. It was the persecuted minorities, it was Baptists like John Leland who didn't want the established churches to impose their views on folks who were getting happy out in the fields and teaching the scripture to slaves. It was the forbearers of the evangelicals who were the most adamant about not mingling government with religious, because they did not want state-sponsored religion hindering their ability to practice their faith as they understood it.

Moreover, given the increasing diversity of America's population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.

And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson's, or Al Sharpton's? Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount - a passage that is so radical that it's doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application? So before we get carried away, let's read our bibles. Folks haven't been reading their bibles.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Lessons from Mahatma Gandhi

My wife and I just got through watching "Gandhi", and it really has got me thinking about violence, war, and pacifism. Bare with me, I am partially venting, but just partially. You are allowed to disagree here, and I would love to hear your reasons why.

It really amazes me how history can repeat it self so many times in the forms of war and how little we learn from it each time. Was there ever a war started for reasons outside of revenge for something? We always feel we have to "pay someone back" for the wrong they have inflicted, which of course brings them to the same reaction. It amazes me how much we have so bastardized the word "justice" that it looks just like "revenge". How can two things that should be so opposite become one in the same?

I use to believe there was a time for war, for defense or to protect those who don't have the ability to do so. But, in the last few years I have moved farther into pacifism. I don't understand how some many people who follow a savior who said to turn to your enemies your other cheek, the one who said love your enemies as yourself, the one showed us the ultimate example of how we are to be during our time on this earth, how can these same people be in support of war of any kind.

Don't get me wrong, we should absolutely fight for the rights of others, we should fight for social change, for justice, for the least of these, for the truth. As Christians we are called to fight for these things. Gandhi fought his whole life, he fought to his death. The results are a free India. But he never took a life. Why do we have this idea that to truly get make the world a better place for all people we have to kill people? How does taking life do anything but perpetuate the cycle of revenge that started with Cain and Able?

We are all made in the image of God, we all posses the ability to be creative, and I believe we are called to be creative in all that we do. War and violence are absolutely the least creative solutions for any problem. After much thought, I firmly believe that violence has absolutly no place.

Here are some quotes from Gandhi:

"I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent."

"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."

"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?"

And just to be safe, these are some things I DID NOT say in this post:
"You can not be a Christian if you are in the military"
"You can not be a Christian if you support war"
"Supporting our troops is the same as supporting war"
"George W. Bush is going to hell"
"Gandhi is perfect"

Friday, April 21, 2006

What's your theological worldview?

You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan




Classical Liberal


Roman Catholic


Neo orthodox




Reformed Evangelical


Modern Liberal




What's your theological worldview?
created with

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Christian Bookstore

Being someone who works in the Christian book industry I found this article both interesting and sad. I am greatful to work at a company which I feel has done more to change the industry for the better then to encourage it's faults. In the end the store is going to stock what sells, you can argue whether that is right or wrong for a "Christian" store to do, but that is often what it boils down to. It is sad to me that these are the kinds of books that sell at Christian bookstores. (also, I love his comment about Carter...)

The Christian Bookstore

by Brent Bourgeois (Sacramento News & Review)

“Shun profane and vain babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer”-2 Timothy 2:16-17
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”-Ephesians 4:29
Somewhere in the corner of your local suburban strip mall, tucked away between the Nail Salon and the Chinese take-out restaurant is a curious American phenomenon known as the Christian bookstore. If you are a not a Christian, chances are you’ve never set foot in a Christian bookstore. Many people who call themselves Christians have, in fact, never set foot in a Christian bookstore.

In general, if you want to buy a Christian-themed gift for anyone, your local Christian bookstore is the place you want to go. If you want to delve deeper into the beautiful mysteries of Christian theology, or the leading role of Christians in Western history, or if you, novice or scholar, have any questions about what is in the Bible, there is no better place to start than your local Christian bookstore. Despite their Precious Moments interiors, they have always been a nice, safe place to take the kids for an hour on a Saturday afternoon- all of these stores have a children’s section and most are running Veggie Tales videos at any given moment. Veggie Tales are genuinely funny stories acted out by computer-generated vegetables with the kind of wit and sarcasm rarely seen in humans who subscribe to their theology. It is funny and sad that it takes a dancing tomato and a singing cucumber to inject any sense of irony into the Faith.

It is with a great deal of disappointment that, while doing research for a book I’m writing, I discovered a darker side to these stores that deeply offended me as a practicing Christian and a follower of Jesus Christ. I started out looking for signs of political bias, as I was writing a chapter on liberal media bias, and wanted to find out if any political bias existed in Christian bookstores. Much of what I found was predictable enough. There are no less than eight books on Ronald Reagan, a half-dozen on George W. Bush, many dealing with his prayer life (one I found amusing: The Leadership Genius of George W. Bush: 10 Commonsense Lessons from the Commander in Chief, kind of like Mao’s Little Red Book), biographies on Condi Rice and Bill Frist, and many books by Oliver North. Harder to find are books by former president Jimmy Carter, who has put more walk in his Christian talk than the rest of these people combined. There are several books that lay out the Christian case biblically for war, but you’ll probably have to go to Borders to find the Christian case against war.

What caused me to nearly fall off of my non-violent wagon was a book that I found prominently displayed in several area Christian bookstores. Written by right-wing talk show host Hugh Hewitt, this bit of heavenly advice is called If It’s Not Close, They Can’t Cheat: Crushing the Democrats in Every Election and Why Your Life Depends on It. The poor fellow at the register in one store was just going about his business when I marched up to the counter, book in hand, and said, ” I know you just work here, but is this a Christian bookstore?” “Yes it is”, he replied. “Then how can you sell this?” I asked as I slammed a copy of the Hewitt book down on the counter. “Wha…” was his attempt at a reply as he apparently looked at the book for the first time. “I’m a Christian and I’m really offended you’re selling a book called ‘Crushing the Democrats’-that’s not okay”, I said to the now attentive clerk. “It says that?” was all he could reply as I walked out the door. I’ve never been good at finishing this kind of conversation. At another store, I brought this book to a nice lady in customer service and she looked at it and replied, shaking her head, “I don’t know why we’re selling this, either. If it was up to me, we wouldn’t”. Obviously, many of the people who work at these stores don’t even realize that they’re selling this kind of book.

This sour experience got me curious as to what other books these stores were selling. The following is a list of books that I found either on site at a Christian bookstore, or for sale at their online store:

Same-Sex Marriage: Putting Every Household at Risk

The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today

The Gay Agenda: It’s Dividing the Family, the Church and a Nation

Outrage: How Gay Activists and Liberal Judges Are Trashing Democracy to Redefine Marriage

The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought

Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America’s Youth

Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity

Liberals Are Killing America: How Their Loss of Courage, Lack of Leadership, and Constant Deceit Are Destroying Americans

Hour of the Witch: Harry Potter, Wicca Witchcraft, and the Bible

Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left

The Many Faces of John Kerry: Why This Massachusetts Liberal Is Wrong for America

Liberwocky: What Liberals Say and What They Really Mean

Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Liberty Over Liberalism by Sean Hannity

The Second Amendment: Preserving the Inalienable Right of Individual Self-Protection

The Enemy Within: Saving America from the Liberal Assault on Our Churches, Schools, and Military by Michael Savage

Shut Up and Sing: How Elites from Hollywood, Politics, and the UN Are Subverting America

The Dark Side of Liberalism: Unchaining the Truth

The Myth of Separation Between Church and State

Moses Was a Right-Wing Conservative

Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton

The Death of Outrage: Bill Clinton and the Assault on American Ideals

How the Clinton Clergy Corrupted a President

The ACLU Vs. America: Exposing the Agenda to Redefine Moral Values

How to Survive the Lions’ Den of the Liberal Media
Painting the Map Red

Big Sister is Watching You: Hillary Clinton and the White House Feminists Who Now Control America And Tell the President What To Do

There are many more, but space constraints prevent me from listing them and, frankly, I got tired of looking. I defend the right of these authors to write and publish as much of this stuff as they want; my problem with it is WHAT IN GOD’S NAME ARE THESE BOOKS DOING IN A CHRISTIAN BOOKSTORE?!? They should be over in the political section at Borders keeping the inflammatory left-wing screeds company. In the interest of accuracy, it is possible to find a modest amount of moderately progressive Christian literature in these stores, books like God’s Politics by Jim Wallis, especially on-line, where the selection is much larger. There is, however, nothing remotely approaching the ‘other side’ of this sad commentary. I wouldn’t expect that there would be. I don’t think hate-filled polemics of any political persuasion belong in something called a ‘Christian’ bookstore. Maybe I’m naïve, but finding books for sale by Michael Savage and Sean Hannity right next to the bibles strikes me as deeply offensive. What is sadder is that many Christians pass by this stuff as if there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of it; this kind of venomous spewing has become the politics of choice for the Religious Right. Why would it be noticed if one goes from Limbaugh in the car to Fox News in the house to ‘Crushing the Democrats’ at the local Christian bookstore?

Among Christians, there should be healthy debate over important issues like when war is just, and what a Christian’s duty is in supporting their government in times like these. These are valid issues for Christians and non-Christians alike, and a scholarly look at all sides of these debates from a Christian worldview is exactly the kind of book I would expect to find at a Christian bookstore. Many Christians are quick to point to the 13th chapter in the Book of Romans, in which the Apostle Paul writes,

“Everyone must submit themselves to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment upon themselves”.
This passage has been used with great regularity in churches all over America, especially when Republicans are in control of the White House. When Bill Clinton was president, you didn’t hear it so much. There is a great debate to be had about just how far you follow your leaders- I’m sure Paul didn’t mean like lemmings over a cliff. What about the Christian churches in Germany in the 1930’s? Were the priests and pastors citing this passage? If so, were they forced to do it, or were they just following a literal reading of Scripture?

There are books that debate these questions, and you can find them in most Christian bookstores. Sadly, though, there are a lot more books like those listed above. These books are nothing more than ‘hit’ pieces from the far right, published by the likes of Regnery Books, many of whose titles are facsimiles of the John Birch-style literature transported forty years to the present. Books like these are meant to inflame, not inform. They are shoddily written, trade gossip and rumor for facts, and add nothing to the debate but hate. I believe that Christian bookstores do a great disservice to the Faith by carrying these kinds of books, 1) by being the purveyors of this kind of hate-mongering ‘literature’ they are acting in a most un-biblical fashion, and 2) they are passing this stuff on to Christian consumers who then contribute to the divisive noise that is tearing this nation apart by repeating what they have read, rather than taking a more loving and healing approach to the unbeliever. This in turn reaffirms the stereotype that many non-Christians have of Christians: that they are all hate-filled right-wing zealots.

“This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings. Like sheep they are destined for the grave, and death will feed on them.”-Psalm 49:13-14

Jesus said, “What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean’, but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean’.” I would hope that Christian bookstores would take the high road when it comes to politics- maybe even stop and think about what is written on those cute little bracelets they sell at the front counter: WWJD, what would Jesus do? I can see it now, after a long day healing the sick and tending to the poor, Jesus comes back to the campsite where the twelve disciples are sitting around, having a bite to eat and talking about their day. Jesus finds a nice spot under a tree to lie down and as He does, He yells, “Hey Peter! Do you have my copy of ‘Liberals Are Killing America’?” “No”, Peter replies, “I’m still reading the Michael Savage”. “Now that- that was a great book!” our Lord and Savior exclaimed.

File Under: I thought the liberals controlled the media!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

April Fools!

I little April Fools satire courtesy of Sojourners:

Final Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?
by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins (Authors of the Left Behind series)

Friends, I need to warn you about the Satanic conspiracy behind this so-called "March Madness." It's all in our new book, Left Behind: The Final Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. But don't just take our word for it! Revelation 13:2 says: "And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority."

Let's spell it out:

• "like unto a leopard" - that's the LSU Tigers
• "feet of a bear" - the UCLA Bruins
• "the dragon" - Florida Gators
• "power...great authority" - look no further than the university of founding father George Mason and his Patriots!
• And if you're thinking that I skipped over the lion part, that's also LSU. Tigers, lions - same thing. Not all of Revelation should be taken literally. Just most of the time.

Every year, millions worship the false idol of NCAA basketball - even though Revelation 11:2 clearly says, "But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not," - i.e. basketball is not Christian, and we are not to "measure" or pick our favorite teams, for all are fallen in the sight of the Lord. Sure, occasionally a player will "give glory to God," but spell NCAA backwards, you get AACN, or Armageddon Anti-Christ Network. Is it any wonder that Oral Roberts U. was eliminated in the first round?

Need more evidence that sinister forces are at work? Let's take a look at George Mason. That's right MASON. As in Freemasons. As in the Illuminati. As in the secret society that controls everything from the pope's shoe size to the U.N. seating chart. Even our founding fathers - aside from the ones who were fundamentalist evangelical Christians who built this country on the 10 Commandments - were members of this shadowy cabal. George Mason's rise to the Final Four is just one sign that their schemes are finally coming to fruition.

How else but by demonic influence could 11 seed GMU defeat #1 UConn? It's unnatural. In the Bible we read - most of the Old Testament (minus 1 Samuel and the prophets) plus Revelation - the idea of the weak defeating the strong is simply unthinkable. The Jesus we know comes on a white horse with a flaming sword to kick some butt. And he's going to kick yours if you don't cast out this March Madness and spend your time more wisely - like, say, buying and reading my books and buying them as gifts for your friends. They're great witnessing tools - who doesn't love sports?

Monday, March 27, 2006

Derek Webb and Donald Miller: A Conversation.

Author Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz, Through Painted Deserts, and To Slay a Dragon), and Singer-Songwriter Derek Webb (Mockingbird, I See Things Upside Down, and She Must and Shall Go Free) on-line discussion:

Check this out. This is a worthwile listen for anyone. Very interesting thoughts about the "Christian counter-culture", art, social work, peace, living out the gospel, ect.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Fantasy Baseball

Okay, over at Circle Six Magazine we are starting a Keeper League, meaning you keep a few of your players at the end of the year for the following year. We are talking serious fantasy baseball here. If anyone is interested please drop me a line, we are in need of a few more people.

Also, I started a regular Fantasy league here at NPH. If you don't want do a keeper league and maybe want to start with something a little less ong term, we have a bunch of open spots in this league too. It is mostly NPH employees, but it is open to anyone. Again, just leave a comment if you are interested.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Sigur Ros - Takk

Every year a few months into the year, I find an album that I regret not putting on my "Best of..." list. Today I found that album.

I just got Sigur Ros - Takk, all I have to say is WOW! I have heard much about this band, but remained really skeptical, they are from Iceland (weird), they sing in a language they invented (weirder), and their last album was called "( )" (really weird). But I finally caved in and bought "Takk".

This album could easily rival Sufjan for the top spot of my "Best of 2005" list, it is another one of those albums that can change the way you listen to music. I am usually a lyrics guy, I love folk music because of it's lyrical value, so these are big words coming from be talking about an album sung in "Hopelandic". Really this album transcends language, I have no idea what the words mean, but I fell like I have a complete understanding of what they are saying. Sigur Ros takes you on a strange, but lovely musical journey that in the end left me feeling suprisingly worshipful. I do not have any idea of Sigur Ros spiritual beliefs, but this level of beauty and creativity can not help but leave me felling moved. I think one reviewer summed it up best when he said "The truth is, if you could see their music... you would see heaven."

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Superbowl XL

Well, not to take anything away from the Steelers, but Seattle gave this one away with stupid penalties. Then the officiating crew helps by give the Steelers a touchdown where there wasn't one and taking one away from Seattle (DJ's "push off" in the end zone).

My Superbowl MVP - The officals.

Monday, January 30, 2006

On Earth as it is in Heaven

This Sunday David Best spoke at our church. The main point of discussion really got me thinking about how we proclaim Christ’s kingdom through the making of things right on earth. He talked about the Lord's Prayer and the line "Your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven".

It seems that American Evangelical Christians have focused so much on the kingdom coming that we have forgotten this part of the prayer. Our time on earth has become nothing more then "riding it out" to get to heaven. By doing this we are only recognizing half of the gospel, half of the truth that can set us free. We justify ourselves into believing that we cannot make a difference in this world, that we cannot possibly eliminate hunger, poverty, disease, wars, and injustice. This is simply not true. God promises that through Him we can do anything He will ever call us to do. How can we believe in a God that tells us to pray for something we think we could never do through Him?

To proclaim Christ's kingdom coming through the making of all things right on earth as it is in heaven is a necessity of the gospel, you cannot preach the whole gospel without a call to social justice. When you hear the gospel and do not feel an urgency make a difference in the world, you have to question whether it is really the gospel you are hearing at all.

We American Evangelicals have created an amazing way of justifying our sins. If there is a sin that can be named, we have a reason it is okay for us to commit it. Take the story of the rich young ruler. We tell ourselves, "I am not REALLY rich", "I could let go of it all if God told me, BUT He hasn't", "God doesn't really want ME to give away everything I have", "I can follow Him AND keep my possessions". These have become nothing more then excuses for ourselves to hold on to the things that separate us from really knowing the heart of Christ.

Derek Webb puts the parable of the rich young ruler to modern terms in this song "Rich Young Ruler" from his newest album "Mockingbird":

(vs. 1)
poverty is so hard to see
when it’s only on your tv and twenty miles across town
where we’re all living so good
that we moved out of Jesus’ neighborhood
where he’s hungry and not feeling so good
from going through our trash
he says, more than just your cash and coin
i want your time, i want your voice
i want the things you just can’t give me

(vs. 2)
so what must we do
here in the west we want to follow you
we speak the language and we keep all the rules
even a few we made up
come on and follow me
but sell your house, sell your suv
sell your stocks, sell your security
and give it to the poor
what is this, hey what’s the deal
i don’t sleep around and i don’t steal
i want the things you just can’t give me

because what you do to the least of these
my brother’s, you have done it to me
because i want the things you just can’t give me

We can say all day, "That is not me, God has not asked those things of me" but has He? Are we really reading the radical call of the gospel? Are we to busy telling ourselves that He hasn't that we can't hear Him when He is? I don't know. These are serious questions I struggle with while listening to my iPod in my car with music I downloaded on my computer in my loft.

Martin Luther King Jr's dream has been adopted by almost every American to be something to push for, but if you really look closely at Reverend King's speech, and life, you see a call to proclaim Christ's kingdom on earth, as it is in heaven. We should settle for nothing short of that.

In celebration of the life and work of Reverend King this month, I strongly encourage each of us to find a way we can contribute to the proclamation of the Kingdom on earth and let go of something that is holding you back from doing so, whether it is money, security, time, comfort, whatever it is. My wife and I have been praying about what that looks like in ourlives. I will report back with what we end up doing. If you have decided to do the same or have any ideas of what people can do, please post about it in the comments section.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


The Seahawks are headed to the Super Bowl for the first time, ever!

My prediction: Seattle - 28 Pittsburg -17