Monday, January 31, 2011

The Huddle before the Double, and a new Southlands logo.

Last night's Huddle was simply electric.225 Volunteers crammed into the Southlands theater, laughing, worshiping, and listening - a community leaning forward with intentional faith for a new season.

Todd and Lisa Proctor who lead Rock Harbor joined us.He's been a catalytic leader in Southlands' recent journey, and his words to us were so appropriate.Speaking out of 1 Thessalonians 1, he urged us to allow, "the melody of the Gospel amongst you, to ring out from you in new ways at this time. God has played a very sweet melody amongst you as a community for many years. The melody has rung out in the leaders you have raised up and the churches you have planted. But it is time for the melody to ring out in new ways to your city and county. It is your time."

This Sunday we go to double morning meetings. 9am and 11am. You can't lose. If you come to the 9 you get more fun in the sun, if you come to the 11 you get more sleep. or you could come to both...

We begin a new series too. Love Re-imagined - a journey through 1 Corinthians with a new set and some creative surprises to boot.We thought a new series and service times and season needed a new logo. Thanks Luke Takahashi from Related Grey for your sterling work! You'll see it above. We have invite cards that you can pick up at the Gallery with new logo and new service times.Please come and get them and use them to invite you friends.
Onwards! Upwards! Together!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Urban Renewal 2011.Results of design vote

Okay. Thanks for the buzz around voting.I've never seen so much actionon
my blog!
It was pretty close. But in the end, Design 1 came out on top, with
around 60% of the votes.
Here is an edited version of it.
So thank you for voting. Now if you register at
before February you can still get an early bird discount.
Would love to see you there.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Urban Renewal 2011. Word. Spirit. Mission.

What is it to ask God to revive the church for the sake of the world? That's what we are asking at Urban Renewal 2011.The last time the church in this nation experienced a revival that resulted in a significant missional impact, was the Jesus People movement of the 70's. It's been 40 years since then. Renewals have ebbed and flowed, but tragically, most renewal has remained within the four walls of the church.
We are boldly asking for God to revive the church with the life of the Word and power of the Spirit for the sake of His mission.

Dates are May 19-21st. Speakers include Mike Pilavachi(UK), Jon Daniel(Australia), Tim Chaddick (Reality L.A),Chris Wienand (Southlands) and Todd Proctor.(Rock Harbor) For early bird discount register before February at

A new event needs a new design, wouldn't you say?
Here are the two possible designs. Please vote for the one you think we should use, on the lower right - hand side of my blog page. Gracias!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Do you love me?

How do we know that we love Jesus? I mean, love is a word charged with emotion and introspection. How much is enough? Can I ever repay Him for what he has done for me?

I am a romantic. I one of those rare men that enjoys the idea that that book of Song of Songs is an allegory for our relationship with Jesus. I am comfortable with the idea of Him as my lover.
However, In the gospels Jesus seems amazingly unsentimental in hIs measure of a persons love for Him.
"Peter do you love me?" "Take care of my sheep"
Nothing about passion,intimacy or romance. Peter's love for Jesus was tested by his care for Jesus' church. Infuriatingly practical.
I believe that ultimately our love for Him is also measured horizontally, in our love for other believers.
This is heart of volunteerism. It is horizontally expressed love for Christ.
Sometimes serving people hurts like labor pains. Paul called it a 'labor of love'.
Not that I would know exactly how that feels, but I've been close to know that the process is brutal. But the pain is forgotten when the baby arrives. It's sometimes similar with serving.
"my dear children for whom I am in the pangs of labor until Christ is formed in you."
The dignity of serving though, is that what we do for the least of these we do for Jesus himself.
And the benefit of serving is counter - intuitive.
You'd think that serving makes you weaker.
Actually it's Gods way of making us stronger.
"the whole body builds itself up as each part does its work."

Monday, January 10, 2011

God is not a Janitor

God is not a janitor.
While His overflowing grace and unlimited patience mean that He cleans up and sets in order the mess of our lives, His grace does not mean that He is satisfied with maintaining things as they are.
He is not a status quo God.
Neither is He a rewardless God who gives us an incentiveless faith.
I am not talking about eternal life here, or the unconditional love of God.
I am talking about abundant life, and the rewards that await us in heaven.
They are not unconditional. There is a 'well done' that awaits us.

In Matthew 25, Jesus describes God as a risky investor in the parable of the talents.
He is a risky investor who fully expects a return on his investment in us.
In fact, the way Jesus describes God in this chapter is quite demanding!
He owns what He entrusts to us, expects us to steward it well, and return it in better state than it was first entrusted. He is pleased when we do that, and not very pleased at all when we don't.

Our whole way of living changes when our vocabulary changes from 'give' and 'own', to 'entrust' and 'steward.'
The good news is that He is a generous and gracious Master, as well as a risky Investor, and if he expects a return on what he entrusts to us, we can be sure that He gives us the means to do that.

God is not so impressed with what He first placed in our hands. We get very impressed with that. "That person is so gifted!"we remark. Or, "They are so smart."
I get more nervous when I see someone who has been entrusted with much, because to whom much is given much is required.
God is impressed with what we did with what we He invested in us.
This frees us from comparison, and stirs us on to faithful, yet risky stewardship.
It frees us from an overly cautious approach. The cautious servant was called a 'wicked lazy servant'!

Stewardship applies to the gospel, finances, people, knowledge, or influence. God fully expects a return so that he can entrust us with more.

Its the main motivation for why we as a community are moving to double morning services in February. It is not about expansionism. God has been a generous and risky investor in us and we want to be faithful with that. Growth is normal in His kingdom. Both quality and quantity growth.
God's grace to us all as we move from maintenance to stewardship.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Slurpees and Mortuaries

This afternoon, on a study break, I took my eldest kids on their bikes to 711 for a slurpee - probably one of the ultimate All-American experiences.If you don't live here, think psychedelic, sugary, icy sludge drink.

To get to 711 you pass the city mortuary. My daughter asks me as we ride past, "Dad, please can we go to the military after we get our slurpees?"
Hoping she wasn't feeling a sudden urge to sign up the Marines, I ask, "You mean the mortuary?' "Yes," she replies." So, slurpees in hand we take a detour through the mortuary.

The saddest grave stones are the baby's ones. Some lived less than three months. This grabs my childrens' attention. There is one plaque commemorating all those that died due to violence. And of course, the wall of remembrance which sparks a discussion on cremation and ashes. I can see this experience is a thought provoking one for my kids.

I take the gap to tell them about an Alphaville song I loved as a teenager called 'Forever Young.' "I never used to think I would really grow old. I thought growing older was for old people. But according to Psalm 90 I'm about half way through this life," I say, explaining how many years '3 score and 10' is.

I try to impress upon them that life is not only fragile, but also very brief compared with eternity, and so we are to live with heaven in mind, making the most of every day that God gives us.

"Teach us to number our days that we may apply ourselves to wisdom," is what the psalm of Moses says. It's a sober rite of passage for them. Sober but not somber.
After all, we are all deeply loved and tightly held by Jesus, who overcame death.
And of course, it's impossible to get too somber with a slurpee in your hand.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

True Story

First Sunday of the year, and we're back in Acts. God has spoken to our community about 2011 being a year of continuity and enlargement. So we're continuing the 'Our picket fence dream' for a month series before we go to double services in February.

I love Acts because its story. Narrative theology is what the clever people call it. Even better than that, its true story - narrative without the airbrush, so the heroes are full of faith yet fragile, and the community described there is compelling and clumsy all at the same time.

One example of this is in Acts 12, the account in which Herod kills James and imprisons Peter at Passover. The church is gathered praying earnestly to God for Peter's rescue, and no doubt mourning the loss of one of the sons of thunder. What follows is an angelic intervention that releases Peter and he ends up knocking at the door of the prayer meeting.

Rhoda the servant girl is sent to answer the door, and when she interrupts the prayer meeting to tell them that their prayers have been answered, she's summarily dismissed. They insist its Peter's guardian angel. Their theology seems questionable and their their treatment of Rhoda seems harsh. Its a clumsy community, but a willing and earnest one, and God is gracious to them. He answers their prayer by releasing Peter,whom they eventually let in from outside! he also brings Herod's brutal rule to a quick and brutal end, and causes the Word of God to increase and multiply.

God doesn't wait until our communities are perfect before they are dynamic.I am not talking about empty triumphalism. This community had taken some serious knocks. But Jesus won through for them. Today He is still looking for willing, earnest communities to be detonators of his purposes with explosive effect. True Story.