The Next-Wave Next-Wave: Church and Culture | The Next-Wave Ezine Sat, 20 Aug 2011 21:07:24 +0000 en hourly 1 Being Jesus in Oslo, Being Jesus in Nashville (but then again, why should you listen to me?) By Jim Palmer Sat, 20 Aug 2011 20:58:41 +0000 publisher The reported spike in anti-Islamic attacks in the United States, including the burning of a mosque in my home state of Tennessee, leads me to believe that the Evangelical Christian machinery wrapped around Jesus today views him in a way that makes other religions a threat. That threat was tragically realized in Oslo last week leaving 76 people dead from a religious division couched in the name of Christianity, not in the name Christ…or Jesus of Nazareth if you asked me.

But why should you listen to me?

I’m just some guy who’s now an outsider to organized religion. It’s true that I have a Masters of Divinity degree, was trained for ministry at the largest Christian church in North America, and was a successful Senior Pastor of my own church for many years. But that was all before I walked away from corporate Christianity and took my place among all the nobodies of the world, no longer one of the religious somebodies running a church.

Why should you listen to me? I’m just a former pastor-turned-author who receives disapproving emails from Christians after discovering my latest blog post about my friendships with people of different religions or those with no religion at all. Even in a society that supposedly promotes free speech, my voice is shut out of certain Christian circles under the accusation of my being a “universalist,” which is a dirty word to those Christians who draw a religious line in the sand and insist you are either for Jesus or against him, which makes accepting people of different faiths fraternizing with “the enemy.”

This was the same mentality motivating Anders Behring Breivik in the Oslo massacre, who was found to have ties with a U.S. religions group Knights Templar. The Knights Templar trace their origin back to the 11th century Crusades, which were Christian sanctioned military campaigns to rid the Holy Land of Muslims. A 1,500-page manifesto believed to be authored by Breivik speaks of carrying out brutal attacks to stop “the ongoing Islamic Colonization of Europe.”

But again, why should you listen to me? I’m just a guy with a conviction, a conviction that Jesus stands with all humankind and equally affirms the divine worth of every human being, whatever their religion. My most recent book is about Jesus as a unifier. After submitting this manuscript to a major orthodox Christian publisher with whom I was signed to write 2 books, my contract was canceled because the book’s message did not “lie within the bounds of biblical, orthodox Christianity.” This in spite of being signed with this publisher because they had expressed a desire to reach a non-traditional Christian readership, which I had succeeded in doing with my first two critically acclaimed books.

The hallmark of Christianity seems to have become who is excluded, which can include anything from a theological litmus test to what you wear to church on Sunday mornings. Since leaving institutional church and writing about my journey of shedding religion to find God, I have received hundreds of emails from other nobodies who feel judged and marginalized by Christianity, including Wanda the Waffle House waitress who’s only crime is having tattoos and wearing her Waffle House uniform to church, where people stare at her like she’s a whore and avoid talking to her after the service.

I wish I could tell Wanda and every person that they are born into this world as complete and whole human beings with equal worth to God as Jesus of Nazareth. In the eyes of the religious establishment we might be nobodies but we are divine nobodies, as much a child of God as that nobody Nazarene carpenter. This is the message I would like to get through to fellow survivors of childhood abuse. It’s the message I would have wanted to express to the 10-year-old girl sex slaves I encountered in brothels in Southeast Asia in my work as a human rights activist. As an ordained minister, it’s the message I wanted to deliver to a Christian friend who said, “I am a piece of shit to God, which is why I need Jesus.” It is very difficult to convince people that they are good and beautiful human beings when religion has sufficiently convinced them that they are “sinners” and despicable to God. It’s also difficult to deliver this message when institutional Christianity has convinced us that acknowledging the divine in every human is a betrayal of God.

But once again, why should you listen to me? The last few years off the grid and under the radar of institutional Christendom, I have been unpacking Jesus’ divine nobody message in my own life. I began thinking of myself as Jim of Nashville, and set out to “be Jesus” for the world where I live. Time and time again I saw how the greatest need among people was to simply know of their inherent goodness and worth as human beings and feel the stamp of God’s approval.

So, I became the stamper! Whether it was my next-door neighbor, my car mechanic, Facebook friends, or the homeless in Nashville, I began relating to everyone as if they were Jesus just like me, complete and whole in God’s eyes just as they are and who can be instruments of love and peace in the world. It became common for me to encourage people to see that their own names could be written into Christianity’s most popular Bible verse, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave… Jim of Nashville… Dara or Oakland… Byron of Brooklyn… Abdul of Abilene… Mei-Ling of Shanghai… and Fabian of Oslo.

Now an outsider turned divine nobody, I’ve discovered a message that could change the kind of religious objectification that precipitates a tragedy like Oslo as easily as the disenfranchisement of a waitress at the Waffle House. But who am I?

Oslo is the latest call to start listening for a message that is bigger than one self, bigger than one tribe, bigger than one nation, and bigger than one religion. That’s the difference between propping up some abstraction called “Christ” versus learning to be Jesus in your own community, in your own nation and in the world. What would the world you live in look like if you were being Jesus in your neck of the woods?

Some say that I am preaching that Jesus came to “end” religion. But, Jesus was not trying to end religion; he was out to eliminate what doesn’t work about religion for all humankind, not just Christians…or Jews, since he was one. Jesus was both divine and human. That translates into the oneness of humanity not division, power for some, and hatred.

Whatever the fulfillment of religion, it is no more than what Jesus demonstrated during his lifetime. As my friend Steve McSwain recently argued, when Jesus said “I am the way and the truth” he did not mean Christianity is the only way. When Jesus of Nazareth walked the earth, there was no Christian church and Jesus wasn’t a Christian. Jesus had followers of his message not some propped-up, holier-than-thou, figure head divining hatred towards others.

The inflated sense of personalized religious power being expressed not only by extremists but also, subtly and insidiously, by everyday Christians here and abroad only serves to make others the enemy. The real enemy is within; the journey is inward. When will we attack that feeling that we are not whole, complete and perfect just the way we are?

How many more Oslos will there have to be before we finally get, “when you push the demonization of populations, you often end up with violence,” as Heidi Beirich, the research director of the Southern Poverty Law Center said of the tragedy. And what happens when the pusher is Christianity…in the name of some abstract idea of Christ? Oslo gives us a vivid example.

At least, it was inspiring to read a quote passed around Twitter from Fabian Stang, the Mayor of Oslo. It said, “We shall punish the terrorist, and this will be his punishment: more democracy, more tolerance, more generosity.” In that statement Fabian of Oslo was being Jesus.

Sometimes we have to disentangle God from religion, yes even disentangle Christ from Christianity, to find a way and a truth that allows us to fully experience and express with others the divine worth in each and every one. In John 17, Jesus himself said we share the “same glory” given him by God and that this is the basis for all humanity to be “one” with God. I was told in my religious training that it was sacrilege to view myself on equal footing with Jesus. But even Jesus said in John 14:12, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

Here’s a thought: What if we could all be Jesus for one another in Oslo and in Tennessee? Jesus was special, but not because he was more divine then the rest of us, but because he was courageously more human than most.

Jim Palmer
Jim Palmer is the author of Divine Nobodies: Shedding Religion to Find God (and the unlikely people who help you), and Wide Open Spaces: Beyond paint-by-Number Christianity. He encourages the freedom to imagine, dialogue, live, and express new possibilities for being an authentic Christian.  This was originally posted on his facebook notes page. His blog is at

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Should the Church Accountant be the One Called the Worship Pastor? By Dan Kimball Sat, 20 Aug 2011 02:23:48 +0000 publisher Accountant The title of this article and question that I ask is not one I am totally serious about – and not really suggesting we actually do call the accountant the worship pastor. But I do have the question of how we have overwhelmingly defined “worship” to primarily be music and singing.

I have become very aware of the power of words—and the power of defining words. In the Christian culture we have created I don’t believe we can ever assume anymore when we say the terms “gospel”, “Jesus”, “salvation”, “inspired”,  ”evangelical”, “evangelism”, “missional” etc. we all mean the same thing. I have learned (and sometimes the hard way) that you need to be asking definitions of terms with specific meaning to understand how someone else uses a term that may differ from your definition.

One of these terms is “worship”.

If you were to ask most teenagers and young adults what comes to their minds when they hear the word “worship” it will likely be singing. I understand why they do, as we have pretty much defined worship to them over the past 20 years or more as worship = singing. Now it is totally true that we worship as we sing. But that is only one aspect of worship. We have subtly taught (in my opinion) a reductionist view of worship limiting it primarily to music and singing as what defines the word and practice.

I try to pay attention to reasons why we define worship mainly as music these days. And it is not too difficult to discover. What do we call the person in a church who leads the band or singing? It is normally the “worship pastor” or “worship leader”. When our music leaders say, “Let’s now worship,” that is when the singing begins. When a sermon begins or when the offering is received we often don’t say “”Let’s now worship” like we do when the singing starts. When we think of Sunday gatherings of the church and when does worship happen, we generally think of the singing – not the teaching or the sacrifice of people who are worshiping by volunteering time in the children’s ministry or other things happening. You look the Christian albums and as we call them “Best of Worship” or “Worship Greatest Hits”  that reinforce the idea that music is the primary—or even only—form of worship. I just read on a Facebook post how a group was bringing in a guest person to “lead worship” and of course this guest person was a musician. We constantly, constantly reinforce by how we use that word casually all the time that it primarily means music and singing.

I recently attended a college-age gathering, and after the time of musical worship ended (I personally try to always say “musical worship” ), the person up front who announced that the offering would be taken referred to it as a time of sacrifice as we give our finances as an act of worship. The word sacrifice really stood out to me as being defined with worship.

I also fully am aware that there are times when “worship” occurred without any actual physical sacrifice. but when you study the whole of the Bible, you will see that worship so often involved the sacrifice of something. Romans 12:1-2, after the first 11 chapters teach on the act of Jesus and His sacrifice for us, tells us to “offer our bodies as living sacrifices.” This kind of sacrifice includes all areas of our lives, and it is costly. We choose to refrain from something we may otherwise want to but is could be sin, so we sacrifice aligning ourselves our ways to God’s ways. The Old Testament was filled with times of coming to worship and sacrificing something. Generally something that was costly with animals or grains – as it showed that worship was a sacrifice of something worth something to the worshiper, but offers it back to God who owns everything anyway. You read in 2 Samuel 24:24 “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.”

What is intriguing is that as we primarily define worship as singing, in terms of sacrifice – singing doesn’t cost us too much. We mentally and emotionally bring ascent to our thoughts as we sing and focus on God. But we aren’t really sacrificing something. Are we? Maybe I am wrong and would love to hear other thoughts. But it is pretty easy to come into a room and sit and then “worship” by singing (which is worship). I am super glad in our church we have worship times of singing. So I am not saying at all that I don’t thoroughly believe we worship in major ways as we sing. But what I am saying is that worship through singing doesn’t involve much sacrifice or cost us. It is probably one of the least sacrificial ways we do worship. Worship it is of course when we sing. But I can’t say it is too much sacrificial worship.

As you look at sacrificial worship, in today’s world what are the two most sacrificial things that do cost us something as we worship? It seems to be our time and most of all, our finances.

At the college-age gathering I attended, I watched the bags being passed around for the offering, and maybe one out of every 20 people put anything at all in the offering bags. I fully understand that people give online, and people may give bi-weekly or monthly, so this isn’t an accurate representation of how much actually was given that morning. Still, this interesting to watch response to the request for financial sacrifice served to illustrate how easy it is for us to worship God when all that is required is singing a few songs, and how difficult it is for us to worship God by giving financially or giving up some of our precious time.

Church accountant In  hyperbole way, I have been thinking about why we use the title of “worship pastor” or “worship leader” to designate the person who leads an area of worship that doesn’t cost us to much to participate in with our singing songs. So why don’t we switch the title to the person who does lead or oversee the area that people generally sacrifice the most – is finances – so shouldn’t the title of “worship pastor” or “worship leader” be the person who oversees the finances of the church?  Usually the church accountant. Isn’t that person the one who truly oversees the most sacrificial worship of the people of the church, not the person who leads the music when people sing?

Now in our church, we don’t do this. Our bookkeeper is called the bookkeeper. It would be confusing calling the accountant the “worship leader”. We actually try not to use too many titles for people and on our bulletin we don’t even distinguish between paid staff and key volunteer leaders in our church leading major areas of ministry.

But I am curious about whether anyone also has thought of this? Whether we unintentionally have reduced the power and true meaning of the word worship by generally assigning the title to the person who leads the music? Have we incorrectly and unintentionally taught youth, young adults to think of worship primarily as singing by how we title roles and use the term? Try listening in your church gatherings to how the word is used during the gathering. I know in our church we try our best to always say what aspect of worship we are doing. “Let’s now worship God as we sing” “We are now receiving our sacrificial worship of giving finances” etc.  Even on our actual offering envelope it says “Sacrificial Worship” instead of just giving or offering. Try paying attention to how you generally see the word “worship” used in the Christian world in general. It is fascinating. Words matter. Definitions matter.

Dan KimballDan Kimball is the author of numerous books, including They Like Jesus But Not the Church. He is also the pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, California. This article originally appeared on his blog – He is part of the creative team launching the Origins Project.

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Preaching Without Words By Len Hjalmarson Sat, 20 Aug 2011 02:13:48 +0000 publisher “Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words.”

This little dictum is attributed to Francis Bernadone, later known as St. Francis. And if you are like most, your first response is a rational one.

“All very nice, Francis – but who will hear the message if there are no words?”

Psalm 19 leads off like this,

“The heavens are telling the glory of God,

And the firmament declares his handiwork.

Day to day pours forth speech,

And night to night declares knowledge.

There are no words – their voice is not heard -

Yet their sound has gone out through all the earth…”

Hmm. A paradox. It is possible to be “heard,” according to this Psalm, without using words. But this is poetry; surely we aren’t meant to take it seriously?

Have you ever known something, but not been able to express it? A lot of poets play around with this apophatic way. Two of my favorites are found in Bruce Cockburn and in U2. In “Burden of the Angel-Beast” Bruce Cockburn sings,

“Those who know don’t have the words to tell,

Those with the words don’t know too well…”

Which is to say, using more words is not evidence that we KNOW something. We can make a rational argument for God and for faith, and many do, without actually having entered into the experience. And sometimes those who can barely articulate a doctrine know it by experience. I’ve seen this true many times, in particular with folk who are mentally challenged. Their faith can be profound – I feel put to shame – yet their intellectual knowledge of God in Scripture is very limited. They haven’t even read Karl Barth (!)

Or as Bono sings it,

The more you see the less you know,

The less you find out as you go,

I knew much more then, than I do now…

“City of Blinding Lights”

And that experience I also share. While in my fifties the body of my knowledge has expanded, perhaps doubled, since my forties, I often feel that I know less than ever. The sensation is climbing a mountain in the fog. One has a sense of mastery of a small space; but mastery is the sensation. But as one nears the peak and the fog grows thinner, the vista expands. Suddenly one feels very small – and the unexplored territory dominates the horizon. And I thought I knew this place!

But back to the title “preaching without words.” Still a paradox right? Or is it?

We confess that our faith is by revelation. Apart from the work of the Spirit in a heart, words remain merely words – dead letters. We may “convince” by an argument that Jesus is alive. We may testify to the experience of the Spirit, and our testimony might be convincing. A person might even “pray the prayer” in response. Does this mean that regeneration is automatic? Or must the Spirit show up? No one is saved unless the Spirit comes as a seal on the heart.

A few years ago we had a young lady in our home and we were speaking of faith. She confessed belief; yet there was lingering doubt. We could almost sense the veil of blindness hovering over her mind. Our words were not breaking through. So we asked if we could pray.

As we did so, asking for witness of the Spirit and for him to make Himself known, we could see her visibly relax. (It’s handy to pray with eyes open in this kind of situation, while the one you pray for has her eyes closed). And as we continued to pray, it was as if we could see a light begin to shine from her face. We finished praying, and sat for a while, as did she, with her eyes closed. Finally we asked, “What is happening? Has God been speaking to you?”

She had finally met God and was at peace. It was not our words that made the difference: our words created a hunger and an openness and a desire to share our experience. But it was God who did the work and who will bring it to perfection. In those quiet moments of prayer, the Reality who upholds the Universe came into that small room, and made Himself known.

* * *

It’s funny that I hesitate to share this story. I fear being labeled “charismatic” and then written off. But worse would be for us to forget that “apart from Me you can do nothing.” The Spirit, as Francis Chan puts it, “the forgotten God,” goes before us in the world, and walks alongside us. More – he makes his home in us, and it is through Him alone that we make the connection to the Father of Life.

We live in a noisy, wordy world. Yet sometimes the Word makes himself known only when we are able to embrace the silence.

As Dallas Willard tells it, there are two broad categories for spiritual practices: disciplines of engagement and disciplines of abstinence. We are fairly capable with disciplines of engagement, not so good with disciplines of abstinence. The practice of contemplation, the practice of silence, the practice of fasting – these are difficult ones for us who know a sense of mastery with words. But perhaps those disciplines are the very ones that can give our words meaning, by creating a larger space in our hearts where the Word can make himself heard.

Len Hjalmarson is a a writer, pastor and missional navigator living in the fruitful and warm south Ontario region, among the fields and orchards. You can find his writing at

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Lessons from Missional Church to Tea Party By Fred Peatross Sat, 20 Aug 2011 01:40:35 +0000 publisher People by default are resistant to almost all change. I have friends who left their job because computers replaced manual systems. I know some who hate electronic readers and digital books. They would rather have a paperback in their hand. “It just feels better.” Borders understands all about electronic readers and the inroads digital books have made on the traditional book store. Change never comes easy. People resist individual change and the strength of an established long standing institution can enforce decades or more of resistance to any movements attempt to change the structure of what has become “the normal conventional way.”

For a minute think about established institutions, specifically churches and governments. Think of the people who are employed, elected or supported in a multitude of ways by the currents models of these two institutions. For most it’s all they’ve experienced and known. Thousands are supported by the conventional church and our government and its spending ways. Many believe in these system — others find comfort in them — it’s all they know. Their livelihood depends on it. Change within these “bigger than life” models seem overwhelmingly impossible. But change does come…slowly. Rarely, if ever, does change happen immediately with the exception of violent coups or tragic wars. In civil societies change is achieved via a gathering conversation turned viral culminating in a movement.

The difference between a conversation and a movement is a movement’s chatter has to be sustainable beyond initial, passing curiosity. People may gather around a water cooler and discuss last night’s game but it doesn’t make these fleeting events a movement. A movement has sustainable chatter, with ebb and flow, but it’s always there. Think of it as a buzz on steroids.

It’s been ten years+ that I have been a part of the missional church conversation and it has yet to become a bonafide movement. Unlike the missional church conversation the tea party has become a movement at an amazingly rapid pace changing the conversation in the three branches of the government. But, nevertheless, changing the government’s addiction to spending will not be complete overnight or even the next two years or three. As Ben Stein said on CBS today, “Impossible.”

I love how David Bosch draws the distinction. “The difference between an institution and a movement is that one crosses boundaries the other guards them.” The Tea Party movement proved that when a movement gains momentum, it’s a hard force to ignore. But like the missional church the tea party needs to take it’s victories one step at a time. And more often than not victories comes with small gains.

Many pastors with missional persuasions have been hired by traditional established churches in the last few years. It’s not a complete take over but these are small victories taken one step at a time. The ripple effect of these missional minded pastors now participating in traditional institutional system can spread ideas and make the movement itself viral. Overreaching or rigidly pushing too soon in an attempt to gain more ground than is possible in a moments time will set a movement back rather than advance its cause as well as destroy any influence gained.

Finally, when and if a movement culminates in replacement of an institution the cycle begins anew. A conversations forms … a movement starts and another fight for change begins.

Fred Peatross is a Christian who lives and worships in Huntington, West Virginia. He has been a deacon, a missionary, a pulpit minister, and shepherd. Presently Fred is responsible for carrying out the Great Commission and directing a Nuclear Medicine department.

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Generation Justice by Palmer Chinchen Mon, 18 Jul 2011 16:07:37 +0000 publisher I have a name for this generation.

No one’s been quite sure what to call the emerging generation. Some call them the Millennials, or Generation Next (that’s makes no sense, every generation is the next), Generation Y, Generation 13, Generation I, Generation Digital Natives… but none of these labels say what this generation is most about… Justice. They are. And that’s why we need to start calling this generation of 18 to 28 year-olds by a new name, Generation Justice.

I know this is true because I’ve watched how they live. They are most about pursuing justice for the marginalized and being a voice for the silenced and oppressed. They want to repair this world and make it beautiful like Eden. They live out the mercy of God.

The contrast to prior generations is striking. I went through college with the Yuppie Generation. We were a self-indulgent lot. Everyone wanted to drive a Beemer, wearing a Member’s Only jacket — with the collar popped on their pastel Izod.

Not this generation. They wear Tom’s shoes because Tom puts shoes on bare feet in places like Bolivia. They’ve made scooters cool again because you can ride a hundred miles on a gallon of gas. They embrace simplicity because they want to share more with people who have less. That’s the heartbeat of Generation Justice.

I say that with confidence because of twenty-something year-olds like Jennifer Preyss. Jennifer is a young, energetic reporter for the Victoria Advocate; Texas’ oldest newspaper. Last year Jennifer traveled to Malawi, Africa and spent several weeks loving and caring for orphans.

In October — still bothered by the extreme poverty and the lack of simple basic needs like shoes — Jennifer read about The Grove’s Barefoot Sunday. She was captivated, compelled, and certain God wanted her to hold a Barefoot Sunday in Victoria, Texas — then send the shoes to children in Malawi. Jennifer says she “stalked” me on Facebook until I answered. Her urgent plea read something like, “Palmer, I want to hold a Barefoot Sunday for the entire city of Victoria! Can you help me?”

It sounded audacious. I told her I would do my best. But her plans seemed lofty, and South Texas was a long way from Chandler, Arizona. I was a skeptic.

Jennifer kept working. Her passion was infectious. Three more reporters in their early twenties joined her cause. A date was set, February 27th. A goal was established, 1,000 pairs of shoes.

When I showed up in Victoria, the night of their Barefoot Sunday, I saw how Jennifer had inspired a city. She and her team had rallied participation from 20 churches, 4 schools, 2 colleges, and a Synagogue. An entire class of second graders insisted on going barefoot when they took their shoes off for Africa. The reporters drove around the city picking up piles of shoes in newspaper delivery trucks… after their deliveries.

On Barefoot Sunday Jennifer ended up with a mountain of more than 5,000 pairs of shoes to send to Africa.

Right now Generation Justice is flooding the U.S. Government office for Nonprofits with applications. Their aim is not to grow massive aid or charity organizations. They are far more organic than that. They are simply living their passions. They are responding to the needs of desperate people that grip their heart. A recent report on volunteering in America reveals that this generation has fueled a national spike in volunteers, “Led by teens and young adults accounting for almost half the increase, about a million more people volunteered last year.”1

Every time I visit my son at college I’m reminded of the pervasive mercy spirit of Generation Justice. The walls of every hallway are littered with posters promoting the students’ causes. Students recently held a Live on a dollar a day week. They erected cardboard shacks in the middle of campus and slept there for a week to champion the need to end extreme poverty. The last time I was there it was Barefoot Friday, because students were giving their shoes away. A sophomore named Christian has founded Beacon of Light. On Wednesdays at 5 o’clock her student volunteers crowd into her cramped dormitory kitchen to make piles of pb&j sandwiches. Then load into cars, drive downtown, and give the sandwiches away to men and women who live hungry on the streets of San Diego.

Something very spiritual is happening.

Generation Justice has taken to heart Jesus’ kingdom-cry to feed the hungry, give clean water to the thirsty, put clothes on the naked (and shoes on the barefeet), and care for the sick — and end the pandemics.

Salad Days

Developmental psychologists refer to these years (18-28) as the critical years. Because The most important things we do with our lives are often determined by the choices we make, the values we form, the decisions we follow, the affections we develop, the allegiances we create during the critical years.

Shakespeare, Saturday Night Live writers, and Wheaton College students call them the Salad Days. These are the best days; the days in which we grow and flourish and thrive.

In the critical years you hold life by the tail. The world is yours for the taking. The doors are all open. You may live in any city you choose. You can take any career path you like. You can marry whoever you like… well, not really – but you get my point.

So much of who we you are is defined in those few developmentally important years. Think about your parents for a moment and the music they listen to. I can bet cash money it’s not Lil-Wayne or Usher. Your mom is still playing her Michael Bolton cassettes and your dad’s waiting for Kiss’s reunion tour.

In her seminal work on this formative life-stage, The Critical Years, Sharon Parks writes about the motion of faith. She argues that this period is a unique and identifiable developmental stage. Parks writes, “A Central strength of the young adult is the capacity to respond to visions of the world as it might become. This is the time in every generation for renewal of the human vision.”2

While at Harvard, Lawrence Kohlberg (considered the preeminent thinker on moral development) once taught a course on moral choice. Ethicists, who studied the effect the course had on students moral reasoning, reported that these young adults sense “a deep obligation to relieve human misery and suffering if possible.”3

This is why Jason Russel, Bobby Bailey, and Laren Poole founded Invisible Children. These three aspiring film-makers, in their early twenties, traveled to northern Uganda because they were disturbed by the atrocities taking place in Dufar, Sudan.

While looking for a way across the border they found themselves in the middle of a human tragedy. Thousands of children who feared being abducted by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), to fight as child soldiers, were walking miles and miles every night from their rural villages to seek refuge in the towns of Gulu and Lira. The concrete floors of bus depots and hospital basements became their beds.

The three friends couldn’t believe what they were witnessing; literally, a flood of children filling the towns every night. Why hadn’t anyone told them? Why was the world silent?

They began to film the atrocity, produced a documentary, founded an organization, met with government officials, and called the world’s attention to the tragedy in northern Uganda. People, churches, schools, and governments have responded. The tide has turned. Kony is on the run. Children near Gulu are again sleeping in their own beds at night.

Do you see why I say it’s Generation Justice that is leading the charge to rescue children in places like Uganda — places like hell on earth?

The Rest of the Gospel

From my vantage, the Americanized version of the gospel is incomplete. We’ve focused our attention on an intellectual relationship with God, and for the most part we’ve neglected his call to live out this gospel of the kingdom – show mercy, pursue justice, love the marginalized, and free the oppressed.

I fully realize that it is good and necessary to have a mind after God. I have a PhD, I get it. But simply knowing your systematic theology doesn’t do it. Jesus flat out told the Pharisees they had no clothes. He was fed up with their pseudo-religious intellectual piety.

I think it’s the trophy hunters in Africa that got me.

I’ve spent about half my life in Africa and I can’t tell you how disenchanted I’ve become with the trophy hunting preachers. They come from churches and mission organizations to preach in villages and ask for a raising of the hands. Then they return to their country exclaiming a count of how many souls were saved.


They’ve missed it. They’ve missed the rest of the gospel! They miss the part when Jesus says, “care for them, feed them, love them, free them.” They never ask about the babies dying of malaria, why the stomachs of the malnourished swell, or who will care for the toddlers orphaned by aids.

They came to take a trophy, not to bring a kingdom.

But Generation Justice has heard the cry of the ancients like Micah and Amos and Isaiah, and they’ve started to live out the words of Jesus.

And they have begun to bring Christ’s kingdom to earth, just as it is in heaven.

That’s why as I type this sentence, eighteen year-old Allie Cestmat is in Malawi going village to village, with our team from The Grove, putting 8,000 pairs of shoes — from places like Victoria — on bare feet in Africa.


1. Mark Hrywna, Young Adults Fueled Spike in Volunteers. Non Profit Times, July 29, 2009. Accessed at

2. Sharon Parks, The Critical Years (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1986), 30.

3. Carol Gilligan, Moral Development: In the Modern American College. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1981), 139, as quoted in Parks, 105.

Palmer Chinchen

A rising voice in the missional movement, Palmer Chinchen is a popular speaker and author — True Religion: Taking pieces of heaven to places of hell on earth (David C. Cook, June 2010) and God Can’t Sleep (David C. Cook, June 2011).

Palmer grew up in Liberia, West Africa, witnessing firsthand the ravaging pain of the AIDS and malaria pandemics, the atrocities of civil war, and the daily burden of extreme poverty. For many years he served as a College Pastor in California and Wheaton, IL. Today he is the Lead Pastor of The Grove, in Chandler, Arizona.

Palmer is passionate about the need for Christians to respond to the problems of affliction and injustice, and share the love of Christ. He holds a PhD from Trinity International University (TEDS) and a BA and MA from Biola University.

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Review: Erasing Hell By Francis Chan – An Important Book and Topic By Dan Kimball Mon, 11 Jul 2011 13:38:41 +0000 publisher

Erasing-Hell Yesterday I got to hang out with Francis Chan as we are 1-hour-and-15-minute away neighbors now. He moved up to the San Francisco area and I am down in the small but wonderful village of Santa Cruz on the beach. It was good to catch up and we had a great time chatting about many things including church and the deconstructing church experience I went through after some weirdness being on a megachurch staff that I was on (by the way, I do love megachurches but when they get unhealthy like any church big or small, it gets weird).

We talked about evangelism, home churches, and structures of leadership in churches. Francis and I had some great discussion and also talked about writing books and publishers…. And we also talked about hell.

I wrote an endorsement which is in Francis’ new book “Erasing Hell: What God said about eternity, and the things we’ve made up”. So the topic of hell was obviously one to talk about because the book came out on July 5 and I had read the manuscript. As I wrote in the endorsement, “Erasing Hell is an extremely important book”. I can’t overstate that. The reason is because hell is an important topic because it does effect a lot of things both now and eternally.

I KNOW WE NEED TO FOCUS FOREMOST ON LIFE ON THIS EARTH AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS NOW AND TO COME. So this is not a “pray to Jesus so you avoid hell” type of thinking I have or what Francis wrote about. It is true that faith in Jesus and what He did on the cross effect eternity and hell for sure. I talk about the joy of knowing Jesus in this life. And about the life-changing aspect of following Him here. That is the foremost message and how I explain what it means to know and follow Jesus. But that doesn’t mean I just forget or downplay that there is an afterlife. Which is a lot longer than this life.

Hell is a topic I have been thinking about for years and I wrote an article last year in Outreach Magazine you can read here. And another about universal reconciliation here a few months ago. I have read a lot of books on hell, both Christian and not Christian and explained why in those articles. So to me, Francis’ book is an important one and as I read it, many times I felt like crying. Mainly because I felt and understood the struggle he had writing it. Wanting to talk about it, but also not wanting to talk about it. But also knowing it it too important to not talk about it, even when you don’t want to.

I’ll let the words in the beginning of the “Erasing Hell” explain this that Francis wrote:

If you are excited about this book, you have issues. Do you understand the weight of what we are about to consider? We are exploring the possibility that you and I may end up tormented in hell. Excited would be the wrong term to use here. Necessary would be more fitting.” …… “Even as I write this paragraph, I feel sick. I would love to erase hell from the pages of Scripture.

I so resonate with those words he wrote. And at Vintage Faith Church, I know I hate talking about hell. But I also know I must talk about it. I sensed the same thing from Francis in this book which is why I connected with it at a deep level in that regard.

What I really, really appreciate about this book is that:

  • it comes from a heart that is broken about hell. The pages themselves almost weep it is so heartfelt written. I know that sounds kind of corny, but it is true. This is written from a broken heart on the topic and that makes all the difference.
  • it stresses how even when you wish something wasn’t in Scripture or in the words of Jesus, we have to be very careful we don’t then ignore it or create something else from our own human thinking or hopes – instead of what is in Scripture. If we create theology or beliefs from our own hopes or feelings of what God is or isn’t like, in many ways we then create God in our own wishful image, rather than what He revealed in Scripture. We may say we don’t want to follow a God as described and revealed in Scripture, and that’s a choice we make. But then whether we realize it or not, we then create and follow our own version of “God” instead of what Scripture does reveal. We certainly may not like when hell is in the Bible (who does?). But when we alter Scripture or create a God or Jesus from the parts of Scripture we like while ignoring other parts is other words is not good biblical hermeneutics in my opinion. Very often (sadly) I keep hearing people describe Jesus, but only talk about aspects of His teachings that they like while ignoring other parts of His teachings. Or entirely ignore Paul’s writings or other parts of the BIble and dismiss them as being wrong or not inspired. So we can do a pick and choose Jesus and a pick and choose God using passages from the Bible that align with our often good and understandable hopes or desires. But again, this is not good biblical hermeneutics. It may align with culture easier and may then be easier to talk about God to those who don’t know Him. But we then aren’t faithful to the whole of Scripture and what God revealed in Scripture about Himself. Again, one may not believe in the Scripture as inspired. So they then can do that and say that Paul was wrong or focus on parts of the Bible and not others.  But for those who do believe that the Scriptures are fully inspired, then we have to be so careful with creating theology to match what we may wish God is like or isn’t like.
  • it is not a “here is every answer on hell” book, but it leaves questions and mystery in places about hell where questions are needed to be left. But it also states what is more clear in Scripture and in the teachings of Jesus too.
  • it is not a just written with a “pray a prayer so you get to heaven and avoid hell” mentality. When a reductionist form of the gospel happens and following Jesus for people is about avoiding hell, that is not what they Bible teaches. The sadness of if that develops, it then becomes easy to ignore those in need and desire to see change happen in this life and just wait for “heaven”. Jesus taught on the Kingdom of God here and to come. And for those who follow Jesus, our role is to be involved in justice, compassion and caring for the needy. What I appreciate about Francis, is that he is very passionate about those in need around the world. In fact, I don’t know how public he will be about this, but for those who may even think this book is written because it is a hot theological topic right now and is jumping in and will generate big book sales and money etc. – Francis is not making any money from this book. He is giving all the money to charities and to the needy that comes in from this book.
  • it is from a pastor, but Francis also brought in theologians to help with this book. For one, Preston Sprinkle, the co-author of this book has a PhD in New Testament from Aberdeen University in Scotland. But it didn’t end there. he also had scholars from Cambridge University, St. Andrews University, Westmont College, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary also involved in looking it over for theological credibility. So Francis has theologians (multiple ones) look over the book so it wasn’t just Francis’ thinking on it.

I could go on quite a bit about this book as you probably can tell as it is an important book. Not just for the topic and the theological education in it, but that this topic really is about people’s lives. I will be getting it for our staff and it is something I highly recommend for people to read no matter where you stand or not stand in beliefs on this topic. Eternity is real. And we can’t ignore this topic, because hell is in Scripture. I am thankful that Francis didn’t avoid writing on this topic. And there was angst in writing it and and I know he didn’t want to write about. But it is too important not to. Because people are important to God and this is not just a theological topic, but it is about people.

You can watch a video that was made while Francis and co-author Preston Sprinkles was writing the book here. And read the chapters and more about it here where you can do the “Look Inside” function to see the Table of Contents.

Lord, help us understand the truths of Scripture. The ones we like and the ones we may not understand or like. But keep us faithful. And may our hearts break as we approach this topic and what the Scriptures say or don’t say about it. “All Your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.” (Psalm 119:160). “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12). “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:11-13).

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The Financial Transition From Full-Time Ministry to Simple/Organic Church By Felicity Dale Mon, 11 Jul 2011 13:17:28 +0000 publisher Stethescope
About twice a month, I receive an email that goes something like this:

“I am currently in full-time ministry as a pastor/youth minister/worship leader,  but sense the Lord is calling me to get involved in organic/simple/house church. The problem is that ministry is the only thing I have been trained for, and I have a family to support. Do you have any ideas as to what I can do?”

I often begin my response with our story.

Tony (my husband) and I both trained as physicians in the UK, but when the Lord called us to move here to the States, our medical licenses didn’t transfer and it would have taken four to five years to relicense. That didn’t bother us, because for the previous few years Tony’s  had headed up a ministry that worked with people in the caring professions, teaching them how to bring their Christian faith into their professional lives. This had spread to several other countries, and we assumed, (naively, as it turned out), that the Lord wanted us to start it here too.

The ministry failed spectacularly here in the States. Doctors just weren’t interested in what we had to share. Only the Holy Spirit could have shut the doors so firmly.

What were we to do?

We soon ran through our savings. No one wanted to employ two unlicensed physicians, and so we found ourselves doing all kinds of menial work in order to put food on the table. We sold door-to-door during the hot Texas summers. We worked in flea markets. I learned how to feed a family with four kids on 4 ounces of hamburger meat per meal (the answer lies in oatmeal). Our kids were clothed from thrift stores. We struggled to make a living. It was hard, humiliating, and financially unrewarding.

However, it was very good for us. It was character forming. We quickly lost our “entitlement mentality” (I’m working for the Kingdom and therefore other Christians should support me.) We easily related to others who have to work hard for a living. Rather than live in a Christian bubble, we had lots of not-yet-believing friends who we met in our various business endeavors.

After nine years of this, the Lord gave us the idea that now provides for us. For a long time we had been praying fervently from Deuteronomy 8: 18:

But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

We asked the Lord to give us an idea that would create wealth, and one day He dropped an idea into our minds. Within three or four days, we had started a business, and within a week it was obvious that it would be profitable. Over the years, it has grown to the point where we are now free to do whatever the Lord calls us to do.

Why nine years? I believe it was God’s training school on the backside of the desert, preparing us for the things we now involve in and for the influence we carry.  Who knows, maybe it took that long for Him to deal with our character issues.

Would I choose to go through it again? No way! But I’m very glad we did live through it for the incredible lessons it gave us. We proved from our own experience that God always provides; He is always faithful.  We learned to be ordinary rather than on the pedestal of  being a physician or full-time minister. We relate to the struggles of those who are challenged financially. These kinds of life-lessons are invaluable and cannot be gained any other way.

Felicity Dale, of House2House Ministries, is author of An Army of Ordinary People and co-author of The Rabbit and the Elephant. You can read her blog

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What Is Your Dependence Day? By Charlie Wear Sat, 02 Jul 2011 18:17:06 +0000 publisher

July 2

What is the anniversary of your “dependence?” For the United States of America the official independence day is July 2, 1776.

From the History News Network article, Top 5 Myths about the 4th of July:

America’s independence was actually declared by the Continental Congress on July 2, 1776. The night of the second the Pennsylvania Evening Post published the statement:”This day the Continental Congress declared the United Colonies Free and Independent States.”

So what happened on the Glorious Fourth? The document justifying the act of Congress-you know it as Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence-was adopted on the fourth, as is indicated on the document itself, which is, one supposes, the cause for all the confusion. As one scholar has observed, what has happened is that the document announcing the event has overshadowed the event itself.

When did Americans first celebrate independence? Congress waited until July 8, when Philadelphia threw a big party, including a parade and the firing of guns. The army under George Washington, then camped near New York City, heard the new July 9 and celebrated then. Georgia got the word August 10. And when did the British in London finally get wind of the declaration? August 30.

John Adams, writing a letter home to his beloved wife Abigail the day after independence was declared (i.e. July 3), predicted that from then on”the Second of July, 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival.” A scholar coming across this document in the nineteenth century quietly” corrected” the document, Adams predicting the festival would take place not on the second but the fourth.

How the United States came to celebrate the Fourth of July is an interesting and involved story, as is the means by which the Declaration of Independence was signed and published. But these interesting historical facts are not what I am writing about on this July 2. The question I am asking is simply, “Are you free?”

For those of us who are followers of Jesus, especially those who were raised in a church, it might not be possible to declare the exact date and time that we began our journey as his follower. Even more difficult, for those of us who have been raised in the cocoon of fundamentalist legalism, is the concept of freedom. I was raised in a group that believed that the following activities were sins: dancing, drinking alcohol, drinking caffeine, attending movies, playing cards (using real cards!), engaging in work on the sabbath day, eating unclean meats, getting divorced, and so the list goes on. These are only the “don’ts.” There were a lot of “do’s” as well. It was hard to keep all of these rules. It was also hard to feel free. I have the same problem today. The religious part of me wants to constantly sit in judgment of my behavior. And when I am “keeping the rules,” that is the list I currently adhere to, I feel pretty good. And when I fail, I can feel pretty bad. Rule-keeping in this group was the path to heaven.

Jesus came to set captives free. I think he was referring to captives of religion. He didn’t see much value in the religious practices that were considered of great value among the institutional leaders of his day. Ostentatious performance of good works was its own reward as far as Jesus was concerned. He declared that he was the embodiment of truth, and that the “truth shall set you free.”

I believe that Jesus also encouraged a lifestyle that was less connected to the material things of this world, you know, the things that we worry so much about. His words:

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. — Matthew 6: 25-34 NLT via

In that way, following Jesus, depending on God as your life source, if one can truly get into the Jesus mindset, means being free from worry, free to live a life of love. The more I think about it, the more I believe that this is the essence of good news. So why not declare today as your “Dependence Day?” The day when you say for the first time, or say it again, I am a follower of Jesus and I will depend on him. I am setting aside the chains of captivity to religion. I am setting aside the chains of worry about the material things I need. Today I am declaring my freedom as a follower of Jesus!

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Profoundly Disturbed on The Fourth of July (redux): God, The Flag, and the End of America By Bob Hyatt Sat, 02 Jul 2011 17:45:35 +0000 publisher Author’s note: This article was first published in the summer of 2003. Shortly thereafter, my church employer and I…uh… parted company. It was God’s way of getting me off my rear and into the church plant that I am now leading, but at the time it was a little scary. To their credit, the church, in letting me go took good care of my family and did their best to put a positive spin on things (both of which I am very grateful for). But the bottom line is that in this era of charged political debate, the evangelical church in America seems to have come down on the side of those who say dissent is somehow unpatriotic and that to be a Good Christian also means being a Good American. This is especially true in time of war— when the danger is that we might be tempted to believe that to disagree with a policy is not to support the troops. I again offer this article in the hopes that those who have planned a good ol’ patriotic Fourth of July Service will think twice… and perhaps instead of singing the Star Spangled Banner, will spend time praying for victims of war and terrorism alike, for our enemies and for peace in our world.

Our call to worship that 4th of July weekend was This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land. After the Color Guard presented the flag, we stood, said the Pledge of Allegiance and then sang The Star-Spangled Banner. Our worship set included The Battle Hymn of the Republic, My Country ‘Tis of Thee, America the Beautiful and God Bless America. We even finished the service by asking the congregation to sing along with Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA (“I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free…”).

And through the whole thing I couldn’t help but think how moving it was with flags draped from the ceiling, how well-done the music sounded with the drums beating a military cadence throughout… and how incredibly wrong that we were doing any of it.

Who Are You?

The word that the New Testament uses to describe those of us who belong to God’s Kingdom, yet still reside here on earth is ”strangers.” The idea is that our citizenship has shifted to another country, that we have become aliens- people who reside in one country, but whose allegiance, heart and destiny lie with another. The writer of Hebrews says it this way: “For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come. ” (Heb. 13:14, NASB). He praised those who were able to recognize their status here: “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.”

Strangers, citizens of another Kingdom, those whose heart is set on another place. Yes—we are to pray for our leaders and seek the peace and welfare of the area where God has placed us, but we need to be exceedingly careful of becoming attached to this temporary residence of ours- even when it comes to its finer qualities.

So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt?

As I read the Old Testament accounts of exile, particularly the story of the children of Israel in Egypt, I’m struck by the picture that God was drawing: His people, under oppression in a country not their own, longing for the one who would come and lead them out to the promised land. I have no doubt, and we can see from their complaints in the desert that the region of Goshen where they resided was nice, relatively plague-free, perhaps less wicked than the areas of Egypt that surrounded, but it was still Egypt nonetheless. Can you imagine if the Israelites had become so enamored of Goshen that after almost 400 years there, they had begun to write songs about Goshen, pledge their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to Goshen, and had begun to think of Goshen as being the greatest land on the face of the earth (“God Bless Goshen!”, “And I’m proud to be a Goshenite, where at least I’m still plague-free!”). I think an objective observer would have rightly asked, “You foolish people! Are you forgetting that this is not your home?”

While we can appreciate the ways that God has blessed us here in America, to lose sight of our status as aliens, to become enamored of this land in which we live, to forget that someday One will come and lead us out would be nothing less than foolish.

More than just foolish, I think some of the ways in which we celebrate our “Godly American Heritage” in the context of a worship service may even be directly contrary to the Gospel. Jesus said, quoting Isaiah, “My House will be called a house of prayer for all nations…” as He rebuked the temple authorities for falling down on the “house of prayer” part. I wonder if, by allowing nationalistic displays into our corporate worship time, into God’s temple the Church, we are falling down on the “for all nations part.”

No, there’s nothing wrong with patriotism in the sense of rooting for your team and appreciating your country. But when it becomes more than that…For C.S. Lewis patriotism could be dangerous in that it could serve as a means to wrest man’s focus from where it belongs toward something very temporal indeed.

“Let him begin by treating Patriotism… as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the cause, in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments in can produce…”

“A man may have to die for our country: but no man must, in any exclusive sense, live for his country. He who surrenders himself without reservation to the temporal claims of a nation, or a party, or a class is rendering to Caesar that which, of all things, most emphatically belongs to God: himself.”

And there it is…What was bothering me so much during that 4th of July service wasn’t so much that we were celebrating America (believe it or not, I actually do have some warm feelings for my country). It wasn’t so much what we were doing, as what we weren’t. We had taken a time that belonged to the worship of God and turned it towards the appreciation of a country, a political system, a flag. We said that we were worshiping God through the singing of those patriotic songs, the saying of the Pledge of Allegiance and the rest, but in fact, by the true definition of worship- recognizing worth- we were worshiping America.

The End of America

It’s not wrong to love our country. We can be proud of our humanitarian efforts throughout the world. No one gives more money and other types of aid to developing nations than the USA. We can be proud that we are slowly coming to live out our creed: All men are created equal.

But even in our more patriotic moments, we shouldn’t forget some of the painful aspects of our history such as our treatment of Native Americans, the damaging effects of which can still be seen today. We shouldn’t whitewash our history of slavery and our support of dictators around the world when it served our purposes. And most of all, we mustn’t forget what America really is. In Adventures In Missing The Point, Tony Campolo puts it this way: “America may be the best Babylon the world has, but it is still Babylon nonetheless.”

We live in Babylon, folks. It’s a world system that transcends borders, is dominated by American-style consumerism and exploitation, and is fundamentally opposed to the Kingdom of God. More than that, it’s a system which will someday be brought to a terrifying and glorious end by the coming of God’s Anointed One. Yes, someday Jesus Himself will sweep America, along with all the other babelistic towers we have built, into the dustbin of history.

And, the Bible says, at this the people of God will rejoice. (Revelation 18:20-19:4)

So if we know that someday we as the Church will cheer the fall of America and the rest of the nations of the world, what should be our attitude now?

How Should We Then Celebrate?

We need to make sure that the message of our worship environment (the message people intuit when they walk into our building or sanctuary or gathering space) is consistent with our doctrine: Our allegiance belongs to Christ alone, we are citizens of another country, and we are looking not to the country in which we live, but to a heavenly one. Probably the best way to do this in the context of the 4th of July would be to honor God and worship Him as the one who brings freedom of all kinds, not the least of which may be freedom from tyranny.

We can thank God for His blessings, ask His forgiveness for our national sins and offer the freedom of Christ to all who are there, American or not.

Expatriate or Ex-Patriot?

I lived for two years in the Netherlands as an “expatriate”- someone who lives as a non-citizen in a country not their own. I learned a lot of things, but most of all, through the homesickness I sometimes felt, even in the midst of loving my experience of living abroad, I learned an excellent model for our time here on earth. We are, all of us who know Christ, expatriates- living for a time in a foreign country. We can enjoy it, but if we ever stop feeling homesick, we are in trouble.

So, next Fourth of July, go ahead and light off some fireworks, thank God for the freedoms you have, enjoy a nice parade or picnic… but maybe leave the Star-Spangled Banner out of the worship set, okay?

Bob Hyatt is a contributing editor for Next-Wave and is the leader of Evergreen Community in Portland, Oregon. This article was first published on Next-Wave in 2003 and then again several times over the years. It’s sentiment is worth thinking about.

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God Without Religion – Can It Really Be That Simple? by Andrew Farley: Review by Bill Dahl Sat, 02 Jul 2011 17:31:58 +0000 publisher God Without Religion – Is It Really That Simple? – by Andrew Farley

A Review by Bill Dahl

In August 2009, I reviewed Anrew Farley’s first book, The Naked Gospel. I was blessed by it.

I said:

This book is a rarity. Most precious gifts are. I hope you will be blessed by it as I was. It’s a book that I will revisit regularly now.I felt somehow lighter after I finished this book. Distinctly unburdened. My prayer is that you will receive a similar gift from your reading of it.

Well, he’s done it again! In God Without Religion – Can It Really Be That Simple, Farley is one voice that must be seriously considered. Frankly, devoured. Farley is better than good – this isHis treatment of the cross, Jesus death and resurrection – and the finality of it all – is carried out in a manner that is unique, powerful and straight forward.

This book, following on the heels of Rob Bell’s Love Wins, is sure to provoke controversy from the ranks of fundamentalists.

Once again, freedom in Christ is Farley’s thesis…one that reawakens the soul and provides “lift” for the sojourner.

For me, God Without Religion – Can It Really Be That Simple will be read once a year from here on out — right after I finish my annual re-reading Farley’s The Naked Gospel. P.S. I NEVER read books twice!

Farley is simply that GOODA TREASURE!

Bill Dahl is a freelance writer from Redmond, Oregon. He blogs at

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