In the chaos of faith, rebellion and obedience

Archive for May, 2009

Jesus, You Crazy Man

Posted by justicetabernacle on May 29, 2009

i was listening to a podcast this morning about Jesus being the fulfillment of the law.  very interesting stuff-  i’d recommend anyone who wants to hear more about who Jesus really was and claimed to be- to check out matt chandler of the village church in tx- (click below and look for this date and title)

11.30.08- Jesus, The Fulfillment of The Law- Luke (Part 34)

basically he lays out that Jesus was not a great moral teacher- and was really totally crazy (i believe he uses the word loon!) if He just made up all of the stuff that He actually asserted. This is a play off of c.s. lewis’ description from his book ‘mere christianity’

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” (Lewis, C.S. (Clive Staples), Mere Christianity, revised edition, New York, Macmillan/Collier, 1952, p. 55 ff)

i believe He is Lord…



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Posted by justicetabernacle on May 27, 2009

we have been reading dallas willard’s ‘renovation of the heart’ in our bi-weekly zone meetings. it has been quite a journey through the book, with plenty of amens and frustrations along the way. all in all though, i think the heart of the book (no pun intended) is right on. it basically says that in order to truly lead a Godly, Christ-centered life, your heart has to be renovated.

the first half of the book basically lays out the foundation that our heart is in need of renovation in the first place. to some this might be a ‘duuhh’ moment… however, for many in our day, the human heart is not seen as depraved, rather it is viewed as inherently good. willard goes to a long extent, showing the evil that is in the hearts of humans as a result of the fall and rebellion against God.

the second half of the book then goes through the process of encouraging the reader that a renovated heart is possible, and provides some ways to which this process can begin.

so last nite the chapter brought us to a place of discussing the difference between justification and sanctification. it was a lively discussion that led to some concluding questions. one of these had us wondering how well our people really understand these two concepts. and above that, how well we facilitate situations, which allow for our people to grow in the sanctification process.

it is really a difficult concept to wrap your mind around. the fact that we are saved by grace alone imparted to us by God through the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, thereby defeating sin and death**– and embarking on a journey of life thereafter, which is led by the close following of the Holy Spirit, who allows us to live a life producing good fruit and embodying the fruit of the Spirit**. it is at times difficult to reconcile the fact that we can only stand before God by way of Christ**,**, but at the same time we must be an active part in aligning ourselves with the Holy Spirit, who leads us to righteous living and true joy**,**. there is some mystery involved in this process- which makes it beautiful- but also frustrating for the logical, contemporary western mind…

(blue asterisks** have further scripture references to each point)


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Sister Lakes

Posted by justicetabernacle on May 22, 2009

today i’m off to sister lakes, mi.
looking forward to the ‘official’ start of the summer cottage season.
it is a beautiful place, with beautiful people.
i’m looking forward to a weekend of relaxation on the boat, on the golf course and at the picnic table.

back on tuesday-


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(Divine) Appointments

Posted by justicetabernacle on May 22, 2009

i had a ton of ‘appointments’ over the last two days.
to be totally honest, sometimes having a full calendar of meetings can seem a little overwhelming- but at the end of the day it is a true privilege to be able to hear people out on a number of issues, ideas and initiatives.
to help them hash through a thought or random musing of life.

the last two days have been specifically inspiring to me. you see, my position here on staff has always been a precarious one. i don’t really fit into a specific role or have a true title. my portfolio spans a few departments and the projects i am involved in are all over the map. but when i get to sit down with people and help them process through an idea, i really feel like i am in the right place at the right time. i feel that i can be an encouragement to them, and they are in turn just as motivating to me.

the talent, potential and energy of people who come to dc, and land at ncc, never ceases to amaze me. we have some really amazing people around here. the trick is getting them connected and in the places where they can thrive and make a difference in a short time. but that is why we rely on the Holy Spirit- for the divine appointments…

by the way- all of this is an answer to prayer- i remember sitting in a cafe berlin a few years back, thinking about how much i would love to be able to have a job that allows me to sit in a coffeehouse, meet with people of passion, and talk about the Kingdom of God…
i am grateful for the last 24 hours…


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The Great Language Debate

Posted by justicetabernacle on May 21, 2009

there is a little language debate going on around here.
we are thinking about using a song in services this weekend by derek webb called the ‘wedding dress.’ the lyrics include both the words whore and bastard.

it is always interesting when things like this come up in the church. and to be honest, the last thing i want to do is open it all up for a big long debate. my thing on language in the church is always about putting it through the lens of scripture. so first of all, if a word is actually in the bible… then how in the world could we censor it (of course unless it was not being used appropriately)

what about in our daily lives? here are the new testament verses that i can find, which address the issue:

ephesians 4:29
ephesians 5:4
colossians 3:8
1 timothy 4:12
1 peter 3:10

most of these have to do with the root of the language- Jesus says in matthew 12:34 that out of the heart the mouth speaks…
but they also have to do with a general example of what is pure and correct.

now what pure and correct means, is probably the one thing in this whole conversation that is debatable. my line of discernment usually has to do with the subject matter. if the subject matter is sinful, then speech surrounding it; done in a jovial manner, would be inappropriate- as it would encourage or justify the subject matter. however, the even finer line would be words that are deemed ‘crude’ or ‘filthy.’

the biggest problem in the crude or filthy category probably comes down to the words that describe fecal matter or manure- the word dung or refuse is used throughout the old testament in some very vivid and drastic ways (see 2kings 18:27 and malachi 2:3) and paul even uses it here in philippians 3:8

so if it is alright to refer things that are negative as dung or refuse in the bible, what adaptations of that word are to be approved today? where is the line between dung, poo, crap, and shit?

such struggles we have…
i think this issue boils down to all such grey areas in life- discernment. can we trust that the Lord will help us discern these matters in the different situations of life? what is our default? if you go back and read the entirety of the ephesians passages, it really boils down to the source of your action, speech and living. it’s not really about what words are ok and what words are not- it’s about a greater context of your life.


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A Wide Gap

Posted by justicetabernacle on May 20, 2009

the more i am in ministry within the church, and the more i live in the world- the more and more i witness the gap between those who are in tune with the Spirit and genuinely try to follow, and those who completely ignore it. and contrary to popular belief, it is a gap that exists in both people attached to ‘christianity’ and those who are not.

the gap really exists on a surface level though. aside from some who are wildly apart from their created state (that is in the image of God, whether they recognize Him or not), most people, if you dig deep enough, will encounter a struggle. whether this be a struggle to figure out their existence and purpose therein, or a struggle with their struggle of their existence-

sadly, few of us ever get into a vulnerable enough position with one another to discuss such things. even the best-hearted Christ followers will have difficulty in finding a place to authentically share. so the question is why? outside of the fellowship of believers, one can understand to a certain extent- but within the covenant body of believers? what barriers are in the way? is it culture- society- our depraved nature? these are important questions to think through, especially in the realm of discipleship and community building. it is one of the main topics i tried to hammer home in the may term group. the fact that we cannot really overturn injustice as individuals, rather it takes community… but in order to even build the kind of community that can scratch the surface on overturning injustice, you have to build relationships that go deep enough to encounter the reality of our souls. anything less than that will lead to superficial acts that create marginally successful results. often- iniatives started under this superficial nature will lead to a lack of commitment, burnout and disillusionment.

so how do we get to those places of authentic community within the church? do we believe it is something to which it is worth aspiring? i believe so- and when we do, we can shine as an example to those outside, who encounter the same gap- and perhaps their hearts will be effected, causing that gap to narrow…


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Posted by justicetabernacle on May 19, 2009

the time has just been starting to pick up this spring and memorial day is just on the horizon.

things around here are starting to get busy and crazy as well. everything from the may term to the summer small group experiment to travel and concerts and all the rest.

it’s definitely bitter sweet when it comes to all of that- on the one hand, it feels like you are really embracing all of your days- on the other hand, it sometimes makes you feel like you are running non-stop. but i guess that’s just life- and it is really a privilege that most around the world don’t have… variety.

when life gets hectic, i always try to put it in the perspective that the majority of those around the world live lives that are fairly static- whether it’s gathering food, water, providing for the family, working in a factory- there are a lot of places that don’t have the luxury of a diverse schedule. so as i reflect on my calendar, i try to think about all of the things i am doing in a greater context. being intentional and thankful always.


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Set Apart: Week 2 Blurb

Posted by justicetabernacle on May 15, 2009

here is a blurb from the week 2 summary for my may term group. last week we focused on setting the biblical basis for social justice. in week two we begin to scratch the surface on a couple of the different issues that are usually lumped into the category. here is a small introduction to what the session entailed:

Set Apart- now what?
We still haven’t really talked all that much about social justice-
Reason Reminder: Why does God set apart certain groups of people? It’s God’s desire to redeem humanity and bring them back to worship of Him. He works through an empowered church to accomplish this. (Great Commission)

Often, in our contemporary world and especially in the church- relief work is compartmentalized. It is often falsely labeled as something liberal- Something for good-hearted people to do- Something for our missionaries or our missions budget. And though I do think that God has assigned certain people to specific works both home and abroad, there is plenty for every Christ follower to be involved in.
As our world has become so intricately “global”, all of us partake in the world’s successes and failures. No one is exempt, as we all participate in the globalized economy by way of our consumption. We absolutely must be mindful of what that means for us. God will hold us accountable to our choices and the more we know, the more we are expected to act. Again, no one is allowed to live in ignorance. No one is exempt- Only greed, selfishness and laziness can excuse our inaction.

We are called to forcefully carry out the advancing Kingdom of God on earth- something Jesus started and we are to perpetuate since His departure. How are we doing? How has the church done in binding together to overturn some of the most serious perversions of created beings and the creation itself? How many of us really look at the world in this way? How many of us live missionally in our daily lives? By the choices we make?

Next week we will look at some practical ways to overturn injustice and live our lives in a way that both glorifies the name of Christ, and is healing and restorative to all that live on the earth. Before we can do that, however, we need to really get a handle on some of the atrocities that occur around the world and in our back yard every day. There are a vast spectrum of issues that we could focus on, but we will narrow it down to four-

-Sweatshop/Slave Labor
-Human Trafficking
-Urban Poverty/Homelessness in DC
-War and Conflict

When looking at such issues, it is important to mix together stories and statistics. Because statistics without stories are hollow and easily brushed off- and stories without statistics can seem overly dramatic or exaggerated with no basis. We have to also understand the biblical underpinning of each- none of these things is something new- the Bible speaks to each. Finally, a lot of these issues are intertwined with each other. That is why it is important to look at justice issues holistically in the context of the greater world.


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Anything for Missions

Posted by justicetabernacle on May 15, 2009

the subject line above, is the tongue in cheek way that we describe our annual participation in the ‘kingdom investors’ golf tournament for missions. it actually is a really great tournament and raises a lot of money for a lot of really great ministries around the world and in the dc metro area.

it is truly a fun event and good time to get out and away from the office for the day- it is one of those things that yes, of course we are raising money for missions, but is also a good time to get some staff from different areas out together in a different environment.

as for the actual golf? our ncc foursome did not bode very well this time around. the 20+ mph wind gusts really did a number on a vast majority of our shots… not to mention the unforgiving scottish style course that gobbles up any shot off of the fairway in some of the tallest rough i’ve ever seen. of course we had a number of highlight drives and puts, and still shot a one over par 73 in scramble style.

all in all it was a great day- for a great cause.


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Community is Hard

Posted by justicetabernacle on May 13, 2009

the more i live together in community with people, the more i am discovering how difficult it can be.  but these difficulties are really a blessing.  what?

i am finding that the difficulty is really just stemming from the fact that average single 20-somethings really have no responsibility to anyone but themselves.  this creates an ongoing socialization that breeds more isolation, self-centeredness, and eventual loneliness.

christian community in my eyes, is really about re-forming the family unit. to rebel against the isolated life.  and to be honest, some of the struggles that we have bumped into over the past year in my house have been nothing more than that of a typical family.  think about brothers and sisters getting on each others’ nerves- parents and children having trouble communicating.  all of these things are re-created in an intentional community.  but underneath it all is love and commitment.  at least that is what the goal is, so that when there is trouble, it is short-lived, and you learn how to navigate it better through the experience.

you see, the challenges are then positive, in that they really just train our responses.  they are great litmus tests for how we are growing in the fruit of the spirit.  because the fruit of the spirit can rarely be tested on oneself.

love- joy- peace- patience- kindness- goodness- faithfulness- gentelness- and self-control…

those are things that find expression in community. and those things are necessary to cultivate, as one becomes sanctified to the likeness of Christ.


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