Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Great Article Defining "Emergent"

This is bodaciously long, but it is wonderfully wise. Must have been hard work. You guys might recognize the author, Michael Patton. He's the poor soul I raked over the coals for saying "God is mainly interested in the doctrine you believe, not in what you do." Well, I'm tippin' my hat to him today. Go read Will the Real Emerger Please Stand Up?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

It's like Ultimate Fighting, but With the Bible

Okay, I think I get it. Preaching is a competitive sport, and the one who can interpret biblical truth in the most extreme and stringent way is the winner. Say it with style and it's like a slam dunk, except the spectators say "amen".

Hagee Clip. Huh?

I found this on a site quaintly called "Hard-Preaching-Dot-Com", on the "Heresy" tab. What do you make of it? What's the point he's trying to make? What could he possibly mean that "Jesus did not come to be the messiah"? I wonder how he explains why Jesus' disciples refer to him as "the christ" some 515 times?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Southern Baptist Seismic Activity

Interesting article from iMonk, Michael Spencer. Short and telling.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Professional Player loves Jesus?

Got this today from my friend Jeremiah. Went to LCC with him and he has definitely taken things in a different direction then we thought. I know it is sometimes hard to reconcile these two worlds, but if we really are to embrace the world around us, why not be a financial planner, a software developer, or even a professional blogger/poker player? This may be a source for some good discussion (or maybe not), but regardless, would you mind lifting him up in prayer?


Tomorrow I head back to Vegas for the 2009 World Series of Poker. Last WSOP was an incredible experience for me; I've never had that much fun playing poker or developing relationships. I'm incredibly excited about this summer...I am in a great spot this year for both working and playing. However, what I'm really looking forward to is renewing the relationships and friendships I've developed in the poker community over the past few years. Obviously, there's larger issues at stake for me than how my next podcast turns out or how I played in a given tournament.

One thing I'm going to need a lot of this summer is prayer support; Christians are few and far between in the poker community. If possible, I'd love it if you could include me in your regular prayer time these next several weeks. If you're interested, I'll send you at least a weekly email with bullet points to pray for. If you're not interested, that's too bad and I'll just spam your inbox :) Of primary concern to me is my relationship with Melissa; I'll be going back and forth a couple times and she's used to me traveling for work, but it's always tough being away from her and the pooch.

My schedule is very full; I hope to collect enough "data" for articles and such through the end of the year. Here's what I'll be doing:

  • Producing a series of strategy videos for
  • Weekly tournament articles for (newest one here)
  • Cash Plays podcast for - link
  • I've had a number of requests for articles/blogs etc...gotta figure out what to do/not do
  • Playing 10-12 tournaments (May 30, Jun 1, 3, 6 coming up quick)

I'm really hoping for a little more of Matthew 13:33 this summer:

"The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough."



Monday, April 27, 2009

The Hidden Curriculum

And yet another one from Leadership Journal...

Your Hidden Curriculum: What do people learn from you about the Christian life? Sometimes it's what you never intended to teach.

Here's what Sr. Scribe JoeB had to say about the article:

If the invisible curriculum of my own life hasn't shouted it down, you may recall my many rants on this subject. I call the invisible curriculum the "Unwritten Rules", and I believe the Bible calls them "spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenlies."* I imagine all of his superb examples fall in the category of "reverse beatitudes", the ways of the world. Power before love; expedience before justice; victory before mercy. The shabbily dressed are welcome...if they sit here, at my feet. The meek inherit the soon as the powerful are done with it, and they've decided where the meek must stand.

I think these "spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenlies" begin as individuals' shortcomings, but people play along with them and they become institutionalized. They become prescriptions for attitudes and behavior. And people master the curriculum just by breathing the air.

The invisible curriculum can be positive, by the way. And it is overwhelmingly powerful. I have experienced communities that overflow with love in the holy spirit, and it is earthshaking. In evangelism terms it is like the irresistible force.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Traditionalism vs Reforming Tradition

Another great article from a friend:

Something Old, Something New: Combining liturgy and postmodern culture leads to fresh forms of worships in the U.K.

A few choice quotes:

"...the goal isn't to be trendy. The gospel always comes to us wearing cultural robes, speaking the language of its own time and society."

"the contemporary worship movement structured itself around bands that led blocks of singing followed by preaching and responses. In the 1970s and '80s, this movement was an exciting recovery of freedom of expression in worship. But over time, in many places, contemporary worship has gotten stuck, and what once felt radical and alive now feels a bit past its sell-by date."

"Communion is another precious old gift in the treasure house. We have improvised by putting Communion back in the context of a meal in homes or around tables in a café."

I also liked the part about NT Wright's example of "faithful improvisation," and us being in the middle of the fifth act of the Bible. Discuss.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Regarding Spiritual Gifts...

Barna Survey Describes Christians' Spiritual Gifts Awareness

(Feb 9, Ventura, CA) - The Bible teaches that all followers of Christ are given supernatural abilities by God to serve Him better, known as spiritual gifts. Two-thirds of Americans (68%) who say they are Christian noted they have heard of spiritual gifts, according to a national survey by The Barna Group. That represents a small decline from past surveys, which found 72% awareness in 2000, and 71% in 1995.

Awareness of spiritual gifts was most common among self-described Christians who live in the South (75%) and West (71%), and least common among those living in the Midwest (63%) and Northeast (58%).

Such awareness also varied within the various segments of the self-described Christian population. For instance, 99% of evangelicals have heard of spiritual gifts, far more than the 74% among non-evangelical born again Christians and 58% among notional Christians. Similarly, there was a large gap between Protestants (75%) and Catholics (54%) in awareness. Even within the Protestant community there was a noteworthy gap between those who attend a mainline church (68% awareness) and those who attend a Protestant congregation not associated with a mainline denomination (78%).

Which Gifts People Claim

The survey asked people who said they were Christian and who claimed to have heard of spiritual gifts to identify which gifts they believe God has granted to them. The most commonly claimed gifts were teaching (9%), service (8%) and faith (7%). Those were followed by encouragement (4%), healing (4%), knowledge (4%), and tongues (3%). The gift of leadership was mentioned by just 2%.

There were significant differences in the answers provided by evangelicals, non-evangelical born agains and notional Christians. Evangelicals were more likely than people from the other faith segments to say that they had gifts of teaching (28%), service (12%), encouragement (10%), and administration (7%). The non-evangelical born again segment was the group most likely to claim the gifts of faith (10%) and hospitality (3%). Notional Christians were most notable for having the largest percentage who said they had no gift at all (37%, compared to 16% of evangelicals and 24% of non-evangelical born agains).


The percentage that claims to have the gift of encouragement has grown steadily from 2% in 1995 to 6% today.

Since 1995, the proportion of born again adults claiming the gift of evangelism dropped from 4% to 1%.

Those who do not know what their gift is rose from 8% in 2000 to 13 today.

False Gifts

The survey also found that many people who say they have heard of spiritual gifts were not necessarily describing the same gifts outlined in the Bible. Among the gifts claimed that are not among those deemed to be spiritual gifts in the passages of scripture that teach about gifts (Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4:7-13, 1 Peter 4:10-11) were a sense of humor, singing, health, life, happiness, patience, a job, a house, compromise, premonition, creativity, and clairvoyance.

In total, one-fifth of all the gifts cited by respondents (21%) were attributes that do not fit the biblical lists of gifts given by God.

Thoughts on the Meaning of the Results

The survey data point out several interesting conditions.

Between those who do not know their gift (15%), those who say they don’t have one (28%) and those who claimed gifts that are not biblical (20%), nearly two-thirds of the self-identified Christian population who claim to have heard about spiritual gifts have not been able to accurately apply whatever they have heard or what the Bible teaches on the subject to their lives.

A specific set of gifts, commonly described as the charismatic gifts, are widely possessed by Christians. Overall, 13% of Christian adults claimed to have one of more of those gifts (e.g., healing, interpretation, knowledge, miracles, prophecy, tongues). The people most likely to say they have a charismatic gift are woman (twice as likely as men); people without any college education; born again Christians; and people 45 or older. Intriguingly, although 13% say they have one or more charismatic gifts, the survey revealed that nearly twice as many (23%) described themselves as charismatics.

One of the reasons the evangelical community may seem to be so verbal about its faith and faith-driven convictions relates to the fact that more than one-quarter of them (28%) claim the gift of teaching. Possessing that gift might also raise people’s expectations regarding the quality of sermons and other teaching received at their church, triggering the often-cited high turnover within evangelical congregations.

By the same token, the fact that evangelicals were far more likely to claim the gifts of administration and service also reflects the widely-cited tendency of the group to be well-organized and to be generous in donating its time and energy to causes it deems worthy.

A much higher percentage of born again Christians claims to be a leader than cites having been given the spiritual gift of leadership. This suggests that perhaps many Christian leaders are torn between relying upon their natural talent and training rather than depending upon God’s gifting to empower their leadership. This issue may be even broader than the struggle of leaders. Spiritual gifts are provided as “special abilities” that enable believers to serve each other (as indicated in 1 Peter 4:10 and Romans 12:7). The struggle of the aggregate Christian Church in America may be related to the fact that a large share of individual believers who engage in ministry do so on the basis of personal preference and natural talent rather than supernatural capacities, resulting in ineffective ministry.

The stagnation of evangelism relates to many factors, but one of those is probably the fact that just 1% of Christian adults (self-described or born again) claims the gift of evangelism. While the Bible never suggests that one must possess this gift in order to share the gospel, the depressed proportion of believers who identify with that gift reflects the stalled growth of the Christian body in America.

Research and article copyright Barna Group, 2009. Visit their website to subscribe to their fine newsletter!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fine Article From a Fine Pastor

"Southern Baptist Fight Decline"
From Ramblings of a Hoodlum Pastor Pat Hood, Smyrna TN.

Yesterday's article in the Tennessean on the decline of the Southern Baptist Convention was very revealing. For instance, the article revealed that we've lost 455,000 children in Sunday School in the last 36 years. I'm no mathematician, but my trusty calculator tells me that's a loss of 12,638 (and some change) each year. At the same time, our population has increased by 46%. If that's not depressing enough, SBC baptisms have declined to the levels not seen since the 1950's. Last year, more than 9000 churches reported 0 baptisms. Do you see what I mean by REVEALING?

This is not why Jesus established the church. I've heard people say the church is the only organization that exists for those who are not yet a part of it. But, I think I disagree. The church exists to be the Body of Christ for the GLORY OF GOD. Now, living for the Glory of God always results in people seeing & falling in love with Jesus... it's the produce, not the purpose. But, just like any organization in existence, the church has to fight hard against the urge to be self-serving. Have we not fought hard enough in the SBC? Have we lost the fight? Have we given up the fight?

I've talked to many pastors who've entered the fight by trying to develop new strategies & innovation in such areas as Children's Ministry only to get beat up by people with good intentions who simply don't want to change. The boat is taking on serious water, but rather than getting in another boat, they just try to paddle harder & faster, & they continue to go down.

So, many pastors are faced with a decision to either lead their church to make necessary changes to continue building God's Kingdom or keep everyone happy while the ship goes down. This tension has led to many churches claiming rapid growth, but the growth isn't from new believers, it's from discontented Christians moving from churches trying to engineer new ships to churches just trying to stay afloat. (Forgive me if this sounds a little...cynical, but I've seen too many Christians lose focus on THE Kingdom & be more concerned about THEIR kingdom.)

I'm so thankful for pastors & leaders like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Ed Young, Andy Stanley, Mark Driscoll... (the list could go on & on) who have stood strong in the fight, giving inspiration to those of us in the trenches. Any dead fish can float down stream, but it takes someone with strength to go against the flow.

I'm also thankful for the people who make up LifePoint Church. You have stepped in the ring & fought hard to build God's Kingdom. LifePoint is full of people who have laid aside their own agenda to passionately pursue God's Agenda. Some of the changes we've made over the years have been tough, even for me, but Lifer's have stood strong in the battle so that kids & adults alike can see & fall in love with Jesus. It's an incredible joy & tremendous privilege to lead a people who are so passionate for the supremacy of the Glory of God in all things.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

David versus...Driscoll?

Speaking of Pastor Driscoll, check this out. I don't think I would have posted this article if not for a lunch meeting I had with a certain prominent person who ended his association with Mr Driscoll. The article explains it in just the same way as that fellow did. My thanks to old buddy Brian Daugherty for the link! My point in posting this is not that M Driscol is evil. I still love his message and style. Rather it has to do with the corrosion of basic Christianity when it gets infected by fame and BIGNESS.

I once had a friend who worked under a very famous mega-church pastor in the 1980's. That is, until he refused to put the good pastor's socks and shoes on him (which all the rest of the staff dutifully did each Sunday. Seems he was just too busy to bother with dressing himself for church. What with all that praying and all.) About a week later her was "exposed" in a sexual scandal that ended his ministry. Now he writes and lectures other ministers, men who have not disgraced their office, who line up to hear how and why they should keep their britches pulled up.

Sometimes I think they're all speaking Klingon. A normal person should not understand this stuff.

Oh, by the way. Please, never let me pose for a picture that has me sitting all cool as the gatekeeper at heaven's stairway. Please, oh please...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Evolution of Blogdom

If you haven't noticed by now, a lot of the GOOD stuff is now being discussed over at the unchurch blog. That doesn't mean we are locking the doors here at Java Jesus, it just means more of our discussion is leaning away from "how to DO church" towards... Well, towards something else.

Go on over and check it out. Check back here once in awhile, just in case something crops up. We have great diversity in our interests, so you never know.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


(This was posted as a comment on another blog by fiber_tech. I thought it was perfect for Java Jesus.)

In his book Confessions of a Reformission Rev, Mark Driscoll does a good job of making the a case that both the institutional mega-church and the organic simple-church playing a vital part in a comprehensive approach to being Christlike in ministry.

"Jesus' incarnation itself is in itself, missional. God the Father sent God the Son into culture on a mission to redeem the elect by the power of God the Ghost. After his resurrection, Jesus also sent HIs disciples into culture, on a mission to proclaim the success of His mission, and commissioned all Christians to likewise be missionaries to the cultures of the world (e.g., Matt. 28:18-20; John20:21; Acts 1:7-8). Emerging and missional Christians have wonderfully rediscovered the significance of Jesus' incarnational example of being a missionary immersed in a culture."

"But sadly, they are also prone to overlook the attractional nature of Jesus' earthly ministry. In addition to immersing himself in a culture for a mission, Jesus' ministry was also marked by the large crowds that were drawn to him because of his preaching and miracles."

"One important example of the attractional elements of Jesus' ministry is found in the sixth chapter of John's gospel. A very large crowd, numbering thousands of people, came to see Jesus perform miracles and to hear him preach. Jesus appears to be modeling attractional church growth strategies of doing what was needed to gather many people to hear the preaching of the gospel. Jesus then fed the entire crowd by miraculously multiplying a little boy's lunch, which would only have increased the crowds that thronged to see him."
"But Jesus then preached that he was the bread of life, which drove many people away from him in confusion and disagreement. We see that Jesus not only gathers a crowd, but also intentionally drove many people away because they were not among the elect chosen for salvation (John 6:37). Some disciples, however, remained with Jesus and continued to be trained as missionaries by Jesus. They were later sent out to follow his pattern of incarnating in a culture, attracting crowds, preaching hard words that harden some hearts and soften others, and then training those who believe to be missionaries who follow Jesus' principles of attractional and missional ministry."

"Missions once solely meant sending American Christians into foreign lands and cultures to live among the people there and to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to them in a relevant way. But reformission also seeks to determine how Christians and their churches can most effectively be missionaries to their own local cultures."

"Reformission, therefore, begins with a special return to Jesus, who, by grace saves us and sends us into reformission. Jesus has called us to (1) the gospel (loving our Lord), (2) the culture (loving our neighbor), and (3) the church (loving our Christian brothers and sisters). One of the causes for the lack of reformission in the American church is that various Christian traditions are prone to faithfulness on only one or two of these counts. Consequently, when we fail to love the Lord, our culture, and our church simultaneously, reformation ceases, leaving one of three holes: the parachurch, liberalism, and fundamentalism."

Gospel + Culture - Church = Parachurch

"First, some people become so frustrated with the church that they bring the gospel into culture without it. This is referred to as the parachurch and includes evangelistic ministries such as Young Life, and Campus Crusade for Christ. The parachurch has a propensity to love its neighbors but not to love the church."

Culture + Church - Gospel = Liberalism

"Second, some churches are so concerned with being culturally relevant that, though they are deeply involved in the culture, they neglect the gospel. This is classic liberal Christianity. Liberal Christians run the risk of loving their neighbors and their Christian brothers and sisters at the expense of loving their Lord and His gospel."

Church + Gospel - Culture = Fundamentalism

"Third, some churches are more into their church and its traditions, buildings, and politics than they are the gospel. Though they know the gospel theologically, they rarely take it out of their church. This is classic fundamental Christianity, which flourishes most widely in more independent-minded, Bible-believing churches. Fundamental Christians are prone to love their Lord, and their brothers and sisters, but not their neighbors."

"The only way out of these holes is repentance, which enables reformission. Through repentance, Christians and churches are empowered by the Holy Spirit to simultaneously love the Lord, love their neighbors, and love their Christian brothers and sisters."

Gospel + Culture + Church = Reformission

"Reformission combines the best aspects of each of these types of Christianity: living in the tension of being culturally liberal yet theologically conservative Christians and churches who are absolutely driven by the gospel of grace to love their Lord, their neighbors, and their fellow Christians."