Category Archives: Books

Messy Stories

Faith is a never ending messy story of how we live out our relationship with God.

Tonight, I taught a class on how to live your life on mission, as part of our joining our church. Last week was part one. Tonight, was part two and we talked a lot about our faith story.

I shared with the class my faith story and how my story hasn’t ended. I told them that I still don’t have it all together. I still don’t have all the answers.

One of things I look forward to most is hearing everyone that’s in the class share their story with each other. They share in small groups where God has brought them from and what God is doing in their lives right now.

It’s amazing to hear God at work in people’s lives. At work in families. At work in messy situations.

I was reminded last night of how messy our journey is. I was reminded of a few quotes from “Messy Spirituality” by Mike Yaconelli

“Spirituality isn’t about being finished and perfect; spirituality is about trusting God in our unfinishedness.”

“…it turns out that what disqualifies you and me from “spirituality” – the mess of our lives and our crippledness – is what most qualifies us to be chosen by Jesus… Some of us actually believe that until we choose the correct way to live, we aren’t chooseable, that until we clean up the mess, Jesus won’t have anything to do with us. The opposite is true.Until we admit we are a mess, Jesus won’t have anything to do with us.”

The power of our story is that our story is a beautiful mess. A mess that is filled with real people, real situations, and real questions. A mess that is beautiful because it is filled with real people, real situations, and real faith.

As we talked tonight, I was reminded of how messy my faith journey has been…and of how it’s not missed yet.

I’m so thankful for my journey and where God has led me too.

I’m so thankful for the church I am in that allows people to lead a beautifully messy journey as they discover how to follow Jesus.

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From My Eyes

Have you ever wondered what my desk looks like? Be honest. You probably haven’t.

If you never did, I will excuses you to go look somewhere else. But if you have ever wondered what my desk looks like on a normal day…here you go. =)

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My view on a Friday…preparing for the weekend

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The Books I’m studying from for this weekend…

Your turn. Share with me you pictures of your desk/work area.

Getting Inked and Invasions

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In just a few hours I will be heading to downtown Pittsburgh to get some tattoo work done. I love getting work done on my tattoos, mostly because its actually very relaxing but also because I love having conversations with my tattoo artist.

I will upload some pics later to show you what I am getting done. But until then,would you let me know your thoughts on this…

“When Jesus talks about heaven and hell, they are first and foremost present realities that have serious implications for the future. Either can be invited to earth, right now, through our actions. It’s possible for heaven to invade earth. And it’s possible for hell to invade earth…Because with every decision, gesture, comment, action, and attitude, we’re inviting heaven or hell to earth.”-Rob Bell (Sex God)

(1) If every decision and every gesture we make is inviting heaven or hell to earth, then in every thing I do, from the way I walk to the way I talk is either inviting others in heaven or hell…why is inviting them to hell more common for me?

(2) What does an invasion of heaven in your life look like?

(3) What does an invasion of hell in your life look like?

Surprised By Hope (pt. 3)…The Ascension

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I am in the midst of reading “Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church” by N.T. Wright. This is the 2nd part of 5, that looks into the book and it’s challenge to help us rethink Heaven, Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. You can find part 1 here and part 2 here.

“We can glimpse it in the book of Acts: the method of the kingdom will match the message of the kingdom. The kingdom will come as the church, energized by the Spirit, goes out into the world vulnerable, suffering, praising, praying, misunderstood, misjudged, vindicated, celebrating: always-as Paul puts it in one of his letters-bearing in the body the dying of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be displayed.”-NT Wright

In the second part of “Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church” looks to the ascension of Christ and to the second coming of Christ. Wright writes about two of the modern interpretation of the second coming of Christ (which he points out correctly can be seen through the ascension). Many of us have spent time and effort exploring deeply the birth and death of Christ. But the great truth is that the story, of our redemption, doesn’t stop there. For “Christ has died, Christ has risen, and Christ will come again.” After spending time with his disciples Jesus ascends to be with the Father. But what does this ascension mean for you and for me? Does it matter for your daily faith and daily life? Does it effect the church?

“To embrace the ascension is to heave a sigh of relief, to give up the struggle to be God (and with it the inevitable despair at our constant failures), and to enjoy our status as creatures: image-bearing creatures, but creatures nonetheless.”

The Ascension gives me:

(a) Hope– I have great hope for two things: 1) He is the first of many–I have hope because I too can ascend to the Father 2) He is in charge–Jesus is Lord of the universe.

(b) Action– I must take action in two way: 1) I will make him my Lord 2) I will live out this hope and give this hope to others.

Surprised By Hope (pt.2): New Creation

wright_hopeI am in the midst of reading “Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church” by N.T. Wright. This is the 2nd part of 5, that looks into the book and it’s challenge to help us rethink Heaven, Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. You can find part 1 here.

“The challenge is in fact the challenge of new creation. To put it at its most basic: the resurrection of Jesus offers itself, to the student of history or science no less than the Christians or theologian, not as an odd event within the world as it is but as the utterly characteristic, prototypical, and foundational event within the world as it has begun to be.  It is not an absurd event within the old world but the symbol and starting point of the new world. The claim advanced in Christianity is of that magnitude: Jesus of Nazareth ushers in not simply a new religious possibility, not simply a new ethic or new way of salvation, but a new creation.”

It is the new creation, this new world, that Jesus has ushered in that we are invited to live in. To be citizens of the new creation, of the new world. What if this new creation really is on the loose? What if Jesus really did beat death…what if he really ushered in a new world?

A new world that began at Easter is a world of hope. Not a world where we escape from ours but a resurrection of our world-a  new world of beating of death, sin, and all thing things that are associated with it. A new world of life, sinless living, and all of the things associated with God.

“And this is the point where believing in the resurrection of Jesus suddenly ceases to be a matter of inquiring about an odd event in the first century and becomes a matter of rediscovering hope in the twenty-first century. Hope is what you get when you suddenly realize that a different worldview is possible, a worldview in which the rich, the powerful, and the unscrupulous do not after all have the last word. The same worldview that is demanded by the resurrection of Jesus is the shift that will enable us to transform the world.”

It leaves these question to be asked:

  • Are you living in the new world or the old world?
  • How are you transforming our world, from the old world (of sin and death) to the new world of (love and hope)?

Easter was when Hope in person surprised the whole world by coming forward from the future into the present.” (N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope, 29)

Surprised By Hope (pt. 1)

I am in the midst of reading “Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church” by N.T. Wright. Wright is a beautiful writer (that’s right beautiful-ha!) who I first learned of when reading his book “Simply Christian” which is like a modern day “Mere Christianity” .

Wright writes in “Surprised by Hope”, “From Plato to Hegel and beyond, some of the greatest philosophers declared that what you think about death, and life beyond it, is the key to thinking seriously about everything else-and indeed, that is provides one of the main reasons for thinking seriously about anything at all.”

I tend not think of death very often. I don’t think about things like hell or heaven nearly as much as I think about places like Butler,PA or California (not that either of these is hell or heaven). But I tend to skim over the parts about heaven, resurrection, and death in the Bible. It’s not that I don’t believe in them…I do. I strongly believe the resurrection (Easter) holds the most key place in our faith (that it is more important than Christmas, despite modern churches lack of pointing this out).

The resurrection is central to our understanding of life today and our hope (our strong confidence) for tomorrow. We don’t die simply to go to a better place (heaven), but we beat death…we aren’t reincarnated but death loses its victory.

Do you live like your going to beat out death?

Do you live like heaven is real? Like that if everything else in life failed, would you keep living for God because of heaven?

Do you live like Jesus beat death?

Because this is the great mystery of our faith: Christ has died, Christ had risen, and Christ will come again.

Be Better

PrintIt’s been a while since I’ve taken the time to blog. No excuses, I will be better!

In life it is very easy to get so distracted by all the things we have going on in life that we forget to live the kind of life God wants for us…even as someone involved in the church and in ministry is is easy to slowly begin finding yourself not doing what God consider’s important.

Have you ever asked yourself:

  • What does God consider important?
  • If God were living my life today, what would he give his time and energy to?
  • What does God think of how I spend my time, what I make my priorities?

I know how easy it is for me to be doing good things, that aren’t God things, so I have put together a list of things to do (this week-cause apathy is never a option) to be more involved in the God-things. But I’ve also found that there are good things I must stop doing to them in order to do the God-things. Here are 3 good things I won’t do this week:

  1. Spend More Than An Hour Reading
  2. Spend More Than 8 Hours Video Editing
  3. Spend More Than 5 Hours Straight In My Office

What God-things can I do this week?

1.    Buy Something for Someone Who Doesn’t Expect It
•    Buy someone a coffee
•    Buy someone a hot meal

2.    Give Something to Someone Who Needs It
•    Give someone a Christmas present
•    Give someone a Christmas dinner

3.    Love Someone Who Doesn’t Deserve It
•    Meet a local poor person
•    Form a friendship with a drug addict

4.    Be A Better Husband •    Go home early
•    Go to bed early with my wife

What can you do to move from good to God?