In the chaos of faith, rebellion and obedience

Archive for March, 2010

1 John 3

Posted by justicetabernacle on March 26, 2010

i had the chance to reconvene with the amazing group of guys that i meet with on a semi-regular basis to drink beer and talk about theology.  this time around we all shared a few life updates (it’s amazing that each of us is going through a ‘significant’ life change at the moment)  we also discussed 1 john 3.

this is a chapter of scripture that can challenge one in thinking through the paradox of something that at first comes across as very black and white and simple- yet is totally complicated and nuanced.  like the delineation of concepts such as ‘lawlessness and righteousness.’  the discussion quickly moved into a hashing out of what it means to be faithful to the ‘truth,’ of both the gospel, but also our own personal actions- those which come out of the well of faith in our lives.  what does it mean to love in deed and truth (vs. 18)?

for me, these kinds of questions are very relevant as i think about the way that i am approaching doing ministry in berlin-  it is a place that is very post-christian, which means that there are a lot of people who have no category for God.  perhaps they do not even have any preconceived notions about what christians are like- or what the church looks like.  in that there are challenges of course, but even more, i see opportunity.  the opportunity lies in that we can really build something that aspires to present the gospel in deed and truth- rather than in word.  it gives us the opportunity to build up a core group of people who really love one another, so much that it is an actual testimony of our faith- and a true manifestation of both 1 john 3:23 and well, all of 1 john 4 for that matter.  it’s all about love- and though we throw this word around a lot, there is a deep spiritual implication to it- and it is folly for us, as the church, to not passionately pursue understanding of what it means to love our brother or sister.



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Into the gospels

Posted by justicetabernacle on March 24, 2010

after spending over a month in places like job, jeremiah and lamentations, our ncc bible reading plan finally landed in the gospel of mark.  it has been really interesting to dive into a new testament gospel after spending so much time in some pretty tough old testament books.  in a way it has already shown me how the great story of God is so big and diverse (of course i knew this already) and how nuanced His great plan for this world really is.

so today, i was back on blog duty and wrote on chapters 7 & 8.  you can check it out at fromgardentocity.com…

i love the two professions of faith in these chapters- both of them pronounced with the looming backdrop of the skepticism of pharisees and obliviousness of the crowds-


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Posted by justicetabernacle on March 22, 2010

so it took me a good week to really feel like i completely arrived in dc.  and though it took a week- that week seemed extremely long.  the week has been full of joy and fear and perplexity- but at the end of the day, i have never felt more convinced that God exists- He is real- and He is inextricably intertwined into the most fine details of our lives.

as this berlin story progresses, i am finding that it is allowing for me to become more acutely aware of where God has taken me over the past 11 years (that being from the first moment i stepped on german soil) and where He has destined me to go.  the latter of course is still very unclear- yet it is not void of the promise that it will be good- and good does not mean easy, or comfortable, or pleasant… it just means good.  His good.

and the sooner we realize what the heck it is that we are a part of the- the sooner we will be able to truly live moments in life.  when that happens, we begin to see what is real-
and reality is good, because when connected to the sovereign Creator, it is beyond time and space- and that is a new kind of understanding of what reality really is…


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Back in the District

Posted by justicetabernacle on March 17, 2010

upon a return to the capital of this country, i was greeted by spring.  amazing change of pace- from life, schedule, and even the weather.  it is amazing what three weeks away from your ‘home’ does to your perspective and rhythm.

in coming back to dc, it was wonderful to see friends and co-workers (who i actually really love) housemates- even neighbors… and it gives you an interesting window into your own life-

distance gives you room to breathe and reflect.  space allows for contemplation and thought.  it forces you to assess things in a place that is not overridden by the influence of busy.  it keeps you from being saturated by obligation.  it safeguards you from distraction.

i was trying to explain to someone today how it feels to go to europe for me.  because of all of the years that i lived there- it is very much a second home- not only in familiarity of sites and sounds- but of approach to the day.  the ‘Alltag’ as they say in german.  it is something i recognize and am quickly used to again- but it is always perplexing to me how different it is and feels… i’m always saying, ‘i’m the same person’ yet life is just a bit different.

so these are the things i ponder upon returning- when the reverse is also so prevalent and noticeable.  welcome to my complicated head.


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Posted by justicetabernacle on March 12, 2010

the conference has slowly wound down… in a way it was a really interesting feeling- after so many days with the same people- in a hotel- working together, praying together, building relationships.  there is the sense of tiredness and one is a bit overwhelmed- but at the same time, there was a little bit of sadness mixed in; that the whole experience was coming to an end.

the relationships built over the week were ones that will for sure be fostered and bring great benefit to the Kingdom in the months and years to come.  it was very cool to be able to hear and share stories- and realize that behind the movements of God in different cities in europe, there are people-  ordinary people that are dreaming and believing for so many different things.  and the biggest thing that i learned was the idea that there will always be a tension between our responsibilities and  God’s sovereignty.  somehow, in the middle of it all through faith, the church is built and the Kingdom is advanced.

unfortunately the last few days have been a challenge with some spotty internet- so i was not able to blog much on the sessions-  on top of that, my twitter account, where i was trying to get out some good one line quotes, is totally messed up.

but i have taken good notes- and journaled quiet a bit.  and my prayer at breakfast this morning with some of the team- was that  God would take and filter all of the mass of information that was gathered and filter it in a way that what is pertinent to us would stick, and what can be left alone, will fall away.  so this afternoon, i will spend some time reflecting on all of the things i heard- all of the moments of the Spirit- and hope that God expands my vision, speaks clearly to the things that i need to focus on personally, and continues the time of preparation for this new adventure to come.

tomorrow is a free day- which will hopefully create some margin before getting back into the craziness of washington, dc.  either way it will be nice to get back- to share this experience- and to excite those around me with what God is doing in europe.


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Jeremiah 18-20

Posted by justicetabernacle on March 9, 2010

i was on blog duty today for our ncc year through the bible plan.  our staff is posting everyday on the daily readings.  you can find my thoughts on it at fromgardentocity.com

the ironic part is that i have actaully blogged on this during this past fall- i used jeremiah 18 as a basis for what i shared at our small group kaboom retreat.  funny how that worked out…

another great day at the church planting institute.  d. a. carson brought some heat in talking about the gospel.


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Floodgates Opened

Posted by justicetabernacle on March 9, 2010

so- the first conference here in amsterdam was just an annual meeting for city team leaders of the reach global organization in europe.  today the second phase began, to where people on the city teams as well as other partners have come to participate in a 4 day event called ‘the church planting institute.’  160 people from 24 european countries.  whoa, look out- very awesome.  it will be a new batch of people- kind of extending a ring of influence and structure.

events started tonite, and we had a free day until 6pm, so i went into the actual city with a bunch of guys.  we did a bit of touristing-  mike and i of course couldn’t help but make it a cafe’ tour-  checking out the dutch style and comparing it to berlin.  we learned some things.

this evening was just the opening session for the conference.  tomorrow the sessions will begin- both main and breakout.  the real treat is that d. a. carson will be kicking off the next 3 mornings with devotionals.  i am looking forward to being inspired by the teaching on the gospel.

after all the main stuff this evening however, i had a great opportunity to sit down with some of the other germany folks who came in for this.  i was able to talk about the project a bit more- and really dig into some of the small details, like demographics, neighborhoods, theology, gospel, church forms, etc.  it was pretty nerdy- but invigorating.  the real challenge was doing it all in german.  i’m definitely being stretched in that-  tough getting the rust off, but at the end of the day, i’ve been encouraged by my overall ability to communicate and articulate some of the vision.  after some more time here, it should be no sweat.  it’s just so unbelievably important for me- to really have the language- it always has been.

the biggest insight from the discussion this time around was the amount of ncc values that poke through the description.  to some degree, i at times fear to see how this (outside of me being a part of it) this is going to genuinely reflect ncc.  and what i am coming to realize is that it is going to be all about the core values- as well as the dna of our thinking about church and the Kingdom… and less about ‘form.’  this will still need to get hashed out a lot- but the Lord is really starting to connect some dots for me.

so another late nite to bed- but it’s all worth it.  sleep can come at a later date.


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Living the Book of Acts

Posted by justicetabernacle on March 6, 2010

it has been a really interesting morning, listening to the vision and the development of the reach global missions community.  the teaching has been rooted in acts, as well as the epistles, observing how paul developed his church planting.

it is refreshing to be in a room with so many people that are open to figuring out how to create gospel-centered transforming communities and environments, open to being led by the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and have the commitment to break down barriers and build partnerships across all kinds of different lines.

the discourse has included reflecting both on the missionary side of things, but also how to connect with local churches in the united states as well as other areas of the world.

this time has been inspiring- and it has invigorated my spirit- i am grateful to be able to dig in deeper with this group of people and it has confirmed so much in my heart, that this is the right connection and network for me, for ncc, and for this project in berlin.

i understand more fully what this thing is all about- and i am excited to get started in pursuing and stepping into the thing that God is doing in europe.


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Ezekiel 13

Posted by justicetabernacle on March 5, 2010

the Lord was definitely speaking a lot during our time of prayer and fasting today.  it was a really great mixture of worship, personal reflection, sharing together, praying for one another, and speaking out of prophetic words.

earlier in the day i had a verse out of hosea 2 that i read aloud- but i’ll blog about that later or tomorrow.

instead i want to share with what i got out of ezekiel.  we were talking about diversions from ministry as well as dreams for the cities we are working in.  i felt led to ezekiel 13:20-21-

“Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I am against your magic bands with which you hunt the souls like birds, and I will tear them from your arms, and I will let the souls whom you hunt go free, the souls like birds. Your veils also I will tear off and deliver my people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your hand as prey, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”

i felt like this was a word for berlin, but also for the whole of europe.  that the Lord is going to set people free from the claws of false teaching and false prophets.  i love how He says He’s going to set the souls of those free like birds.  this is cool on so many levels.  first of all- it says that we cannot control it- we have to wait for the Lord to set people free.  but secondly, the promise is there that He will indeed do it.  and the challenge is to gather up these souls that are now free like birds.  to gather them in and let them lead the charge on spreading the gospel throughout new europe.

our challenge, goal and dream in berlin- is to find these souls- to bring them in and send them out.  that they would be leaders of a new reformation in berlin.


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Across Northern Europe

Posted by justicetabernacle on March 4, 2010

today i arrived via train in amsterdam- well, it’s just the airport complex at schiphol- but nonetheless i’m here in the netherlands.  i will be participating in two different conferences, both linked with the partner organization that we are working together with for the project in berlin.  it was hard to believe that i was leaving germany this morning, as i shuffled through the hauptbahnhof at 6am.  so i got myself some bakery breakfast and hopped on the train, cruising across foggy northern europe for six hours.  got some sleep in, some worship in, some podcast listening in- and just layed back and relaxed on the train, which i absolutely love.

so now phase two of this trip will begin.  the time in berlin, especially the two days i took to spend in the city, was really great.  i definitely got a dose of reality- in that it began to sink in that i was actually going to be moving there.  it is such a great city though- so as hard as it’s going to be, there are a lot of really exciting things to look forward to.  the re-immersion part that i blogged about last time definitely started to take root.  the most exciting part was that even after a week, i felt like the rust was already coming off of the language.  i even had three solid opportunities to share about the idea of the project, in german, to non-christians.  this was an important litmus test for me.  it is really tricky to paint the picture- but i feel like i’m getting there with how to best do it.

finally, mike and i had a great day yesterday on a final neighborhood scope out in berlin.  and at the end of it, we actually stumbled upon an empty building space that was about as close as what we’d been dreaming about that we’ve seen so far.  we’re not getting ahead of ourselves with it yet, but it was at least a good confirmation that such places exist- and even if this is just an ‘example’ it was a blessing from the Lord to allow us to actually see something.

so now, i have to shift gears from berlin specific- to more of the greater european context.  times of prayer, strategy and more overall theological discourse will be in the plenty and i’m looking forward to get the bigger picture… not to mention meet some other folks who are laboring here all across europe for the Kingdom.  this is the beginning of some exciting networks and connections, no doubt.


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