Monthly Archives: March 2008

Definition of Missions

I was reading through Transforming Mission again this week and found this definition of mission that I really enjoyed:

Mission therefore means being involved in the ongoing dialogue between God, who offers his salvation, and the world, which – enmeshed in all kinds of evil – craves that salvation. (Bosch, p.400).

The qoute acknowledges that first and foremost mission is above all God’s mission (missio Dei).  He is reaching and at work in the world.  It is because loving the world with the Gospel of Grace was first God’s mission that we the church are able to do so, both in word and action.  That is the other reason I like the quote so much, it is broad enough that it does not give priority to word or deed in defining mission.  For so long the church has tried to give an order of importance when it comes to mission.  Do we preach the Gospel or do we live in such a way that fights for justice and love our enemies as ourselves?  We must realize that you can no longer separate the two.  There is no either/or.  It is time that Christians “repudiate as demonic the attempt to drive a wedge between evangelism and social concern.” (Bosch, p.406).

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The World is Gone…

I was looking through some of my books in college and found Soveriegnties in Question: The Poetics of Paul Celan, by Jacques Derrida. I don’t remember what class this book was used for (maybe Contemporary Religious Thought?), but I remember not being able to read it very well! In the book Derrida tries to interpret, or struggle, with the meaning of Celan’s poems (a man who himself is hard to read). There is one section that we read that I found very interesting and always seem to pick up the book to read it again. The chapter deals with a conversation between Derrida and Gadamer, but it is the Celan poem that I find so interesting. The last line of the poem, carrying the charge of the poem, reads, “The world is gone, I must carry you.” I have always found this line fascinating and it obviously speaks of a relationship.  But who is the I and who is the other?  I often ponder what it means when viewed in the context of my relationship with Jesus.  It very much seems to speak of a relationship of deep love and devotion, what greater relationship is there?  So who is the I and who is the Other in the line?  I think the line can be interpreted both ways, the I is me and the Other is Jesus and vice versa.

The first interpretation seems negative at first glance. It seems to suggest that Jesus is powerless and without his followers or the church He would simply cease to exist in this world (although there is still the Holy Spirit, so He would still have a presence in the world). I don’t think that is what the line means at all. Rather it should be interpreted through a hermeneutic of love instead of power. It is not necessarily that the world is gone, or the world of the Other, but my world is gone, turned upside down, forever changed. The world is gone, I must carry you because what you did for me. As Derrida writes, “as soon as I speak to you and am responsible for you, or before you, there can be no longer, essentially, be any world.” He continues, “I am alone with you, alone to you alone; we are alone: this declaration is also an engagement.” So rather than a relationship of power, where only one is vulnerable, it is one of love, where both are vulnerable. Did Jesus not make himself vulnerable when he entrusted His message to us, the fallen humans that we are? But does that not make Him that much more beautiful? His love for us that much more beautiful? “To bear this poem is to put oneself within its grasp, to put it within the other’s grasp, to give it to the other to bear.” To accept Jesus’ love is to put oneself within His grasp, but He is also putting himself within ours’, entrusting us to carry out His message, His love, and Himself to the world.

The second interpretation is also beautiful. It is truly one of salvation – the world is fallen (gone), so I will carry you. It becomes a picture of divine love. His love compelled him to carry us through, to be with us. Our response can only be this: “I only believe in Jesus Messiah; I am carried away and enraptured in him, in such a way that ‘I do not live, but the Messiah lives in me'” (from Giorgio Agamben’s The Time That Remains).

I do not think that either interpretation is very different from the other. Both, I think, when interpreted with love, show a beautiful relationship between a fallen creation and a loving God. A sublime picture of reckless abandon for each other.

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Small Group + Coffee + Cookies = Outreach!

This is a blog that Wayne wanted me to type up for the church website, so I thought I would post it here as well. It kind of gives you insight into the way that Crosspoint tries to reach out to Spring Hill.

Small Group + Coffee + Cookies = Outreach!

Hello Crosspoint!
As most of you know, small groups are now in full swing and many of you have had the opportunity already this semester to reach out into our community in some act of kindness. We have made a huge commitment to find some way to serve Spring Hill every week this year and so far, in large part through small groups, we have been able to do so. I just want to say thanks to those who have jumped into this with us and if you are in a small group that has served so far then you rock! Hopefully this blog will be an encouragement to everyone involved in outreach, but especially those small groups who have not been able to serve yet!
Amber and I lead the college small group and back when timed jumped ahead we did our outreach project. Taking advantage of the lack of sleep everyone was about to get that night, we decided it would be fun to give everyone coffee for an extra jolt the next morning! So that Saturday our small group gave away single packets of Folgers Coffee outside three of the shopping centers along highway 50 and it was a blast! We would hand people the coffee with an outreach card and told them not to forget to set their clocks forward. People loved it! A lot of them look at us funny at first but then left either smiling or laughing. And, as always, we got the why question quite a bit. We simply told them “We just wanted to show you God’s love in a practical way, no strings attached, and we figured everyone could use some extra caffeine in the morning.” Some people asked more questions and some did not, and that is ok. Now we just have to trust that the Holy Spirit is working in their lives and that He used that interaction to speak into their lives.
This week we also baked cookies. Our small group actually meets in an apartment complex and many of the neighbors see this big group of college kids coming around every week. So we decided to bake cookies for everyone in the apartment complex and invite them to celebrate Easter this Sunday! While the girls cooked, Jonathon Lamb and I delivered. I love seeing the reaction on people’s faces when you give them a gift! People were genuinely thankful and surprised! Better yet, they now all know that we are there and some even expressed interest in coming to the group! It was a simple act, no pressure and no strings, yet we have faith that God spoke into those people’s lives and fulfilled His purpose (Isaiah 55:10-11).
The heart of our small groups must become a reflection of the heart of our church and our first core value is that people matter to God! All people! That means those inside of our walls and those outside. Lets stop waiting for them to come to us and lets take the love and grace of Jesus to them!

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existing for those outside

Since I began my internship at Crosspoint Church I have learned a lot about loving those outside of the church.  Wayne has taught Amber and I so much about the church existing for those outside of its walls.  For instance, a couple weeks ago when time changed our college small group went out into the community to hand out free coffee packets.  We told them it was for some extra caffeine in the morning!  We also gave them a card that read “We hope this small act of kindness brings some light into your day.  Its our way of saying God loves you, no strings attached.  Let us know if we can be of more assistance.”  People really enjoyed it!  Many of them laughed and were surprised.

Over Christmas I received Transforming Mission by David Bosch.  The book is enormous so I skipped to the good parts that I wanted to read!  One section is about churches becoming more missional, in their actions and theology (missional is certainly a buzz word today, but this book was written in the early 90s by a guy from South Africa, so that makes it even more interesting!).  Bosch notes the there is an emerging shift in the way the church approaches mission.  Instead of missions being something that the church sends people to do, it is becoming what the church is.  He claims that today the “church is not the sender but the one sent.”  We are being sent not to comfort ourselves and better ourselves, but be a light in our own communities.  One that is the source of love, justice, and forgiveness.  A humble entity where community is authentic and always accepting.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from prison, “The church is the church only when it exists for others.”  That means we must find creative, loving ways to be a light in our community.  Many times we have the attitude that people should come to us instead of us going to/finding them.  The church should not be so arrogant but rather imitate Jesus, who when a sheep went missing went out to find it at all costs.

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Surprise!

Yesterday was my birthday and now I am 23.  Old, huh? Just kidding!  Normally I don’t do much for my birthday.  So this year we didn’t plan a party or anything.  It is not that I do not like birthday parties or cake (well, I’m not a huge fan of cake), I just never think too much about it.  Instead Amber had planned on just making me apple cobbler with vanilla ice cream on top and going to Starbucks to sit and read (now that is a party!).  So that is what we did, but when we got there we weren’t alone!  My wonderful wife informed several of our friends of our plans and had them join us.  So when we arrived there was a bit of a surprise party!  My wife is awesome!  Most of our friends were able to make it and now we have enough gift cards, especially Starbucks gift cards, to last us awhile.

Thanks to everyone who came, especially Kayley!

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Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, Ybor

Late Saturday afternoon Amber and I took off to Tampa for the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts (GFoA). On the way we met up with our friend Jessica who came with us (we took her car, less gas on our part, thanks Jessica!). The festival was in downtown Tampa, among the busy streets and tall buildings. We had never ventured this far into the city since we had been here so it was sort of a double treat. It took us awhile to get there, but after a couple of wrong turns we made it with about an hour and a half to explore the roughly four blocks of booths. The show included all kinds of art, but my interest has always been in photography. There were five photographers whose work caused me to stand and stare (and wish and dream and reach for my credit card…just kidding, I wish!). So if I were the judge my awards would have been as follows:

#1 – Lisa Kristine

I have never in my life seen photos were so crisp and clean and the colors so bright! Her work combined rich ethnic scenes with either dynamic color, landscape, or both. Her photograph Dunes, Morocco (they did not actually have titles) displays her ability to combine photojournalism, landscape, and art all into one piece. My personal favorite of her’s was Kumbh Mela, India.

#2 Chris Honeysett

I have given Chris the nickname Master of Mist. His work is so mysterious and beautiful! My favorite photograph of the entire show was Dense Fog, a b&w photograph (I believe all of his work was b&w) where a faint etching of the top of the Golden Gate bridge can barely be seen through the fog. The man is a master of b&w and I am a fan for life! He was also quite the comedian when we me him. Hopefully one day I can start a collection of his work.

#3 Daniel Powers

Powers set the bar high as he was the first booth we came to when we entered the festival. He had a gorgeous portfolio of both b&w and color photographs from all over the world, particularly Europe. I enjoyed the bicycle photographs and the color photo of the door (which I cannot find on the website to give a specific title). However, it was the b&w photograph of the Austrian village that I found on the side of Daniel’s booth that captured me. The village was set on a slope above a body of water with jagged snow spotted mountains in the back ground. I find in interesting because of its seeming contrast with similar Greek and Italiam villages, which are stacked on a slope in the Mediterranean Sea. Whereas those photographs give you a sense of warm, exotic romanticism, the Austrian village seems cold, austere, and yet beautiful.

#4 David Rowell

David is local artist from St. Petersburg. He had a lot of photographs of blurred beach photos which I loved! I believe his philosophy was that photography is not meant to record an event but a feeling and his work reflected such beliefs.

#5 Brian Call

Brian is a Florida photographer with an exceptional ability at panoramics. His photograph The Wave is a perfect example of landscape photography; combining atmosphere, water, and land in captivating fashion. One of the best panoramic photographers out there.

We left the festival and headed over to Ybor for the evening. For those who have never been, it is a very New Orleans type section of Tampa; complete with bars, restaurants, Starbucks, tatoo shops, and street cars. What makes Ybor special though is the overabundance of cigar bars. For those who don’t know, Tampa is the cigar producing capital of the U.S. We enjoyed hanging out, but then Jessica was threatening to throw up so we decided to call it a night!

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Best Books of 2007

The title is a little misleading because not all of the books were published in 2007. The fact that some of them were is rather irrelevant anyway. What I mean is the best books that I read in 2007. These books have all in some way expanded the way I see and understand the world, church, mission, and following Jesus. Here is a list of my top five:

1. The Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne

This has been the most refreshing book since Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz, only ten times as challenging. Shane’s struggle to find a middle way between the left and the right (in much more than just the political sense) is both captivating and convicting. The pages are full of reminders that God’s radical love is actualized in His community reaching out to a lost and broken world, not just in special outreach events, but in the way we live of lives. This book is highly recommended for anyone, but I warn you this book “will comfort the disturbed, disturb the comfortable, and invite believers to change the world with Christ’s radical love.”

2. Conspiracy of Kindness, Steve Sjogren

This book was introduced to me this past year by Wayne Cordova, Outreach Pastor at Crosspoint Church. My wife and I intern under Wayne and this was one of the first books he had me read when we arrived. It helped me understand his heart and the kind of ministry he wants to impact Spring Hill with. The book is for anyone who has ever felt nauseous when their church mentions the word outreach. I feel like I grew up subconciously knowing that outreach sucked and was embarrassing, not only for me but it did not seem to honor God very much. This book has opened my eyes to a whole new world. I know longer dread outreach, but enjoy it and look forward to it. The basic idea is servant evangelism. So instead of annoying people, you leave them with a smile. Please check out the book and begin to share God’s love in your community through service (or check out Steve’s website at servantevangelism.com).

3. No Perfect People Allowed, John Burke

This is one of the best books that I have read that deal with practical ministry in a postmodern context. Through telling stories of those God has brought to Gateway Church in Austin, TX, pastor John Burke relates how he and his staff reach the postmodern generation of twenty and thirty somethings. The overall theme is creating a culture within the church that is welcoming, accepting, and transformative all at the same time. He hits all of the issues confronting this generation: cynicism, mistrust, being tolerant but not relative, finding truth, brokenness, and aloneness. Highly recommended for anyone who is working with or a part of that generation or who simply wants to understand how this generation experiences/approaches/deals with life.

4. Glocalization, Bob Roberts

This book has broadened my look/understanding of world missions in today’s context. There is an enormous cry today to end poverty. Bob believes that the church should be at the forefront, not the fringes, of that movement. What he suggests is that large denominational and interdenominational programs will not change the world, but the people sitting in the pews of the church. Bob advocates that church leaders new role is teaching Christ-followers to use their vocations as a means of doing missions overseas in such a way that they are being light and salt while at the same time making the world a better place right now. For me, I never felt right about doing only the type of missions that meets a person’s spiritual need while ignoring his/her physical needs. Jesus clearly met both needs in his ministry. His message of hope was meant for this world, the here and now, as much as for the next world. Also, there have been many changes in the last twenty years that force us to ask new questions when it comes to our mission in the world. The changes that have taken place are called globalization. And it is in such a context that Bob has created an excellent model for Christians to transform the world both spiritually and physically.

5. The End of Poverty, Jeffrey Sachs

There are two feelings that kept me reading this book all the way to the end, excitement and hope. It is written by an economist, so honestly it has its dry moments, but the strong belief that Sachs has that the world can be a better place keeps coming through. As Christians we must learn to love our neighbors the way Jesus intended us to. We must also come to grips with two realities: we do not know how and we have sucked at it! What I mean by that is loving our neighbors does not mean shoving Western ideas/models/structures down their throat. We have only recently come out of the Colonial era and must realize our mistake, that the church was more a part of and not a barrier to the horrors of colonialism. Part of loving our neighbors means allowing them to have the same opportunities we do. We are all equal, according to Paul, and that should include economically. Sachs explains that building up the third world economically does not necessarily mean a decrease in our own wealth, but instead would create a safer, freer world for everyone to enjoy. This book has broadened my view in the world and I think it will for anyone who picks it up.

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