\”Concepts create idols, only wonder grasps anything.\” – Gregory of Nyssa

Emergent

Unconditional Gratitude – An Open Letter to Brian McLaren

LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS 1I tend to like the dark. Truth is, I spend most of my best reading time in the dark; staying up late into the night in bed with my book in front of me and my small little reading light curled over the top of it as I envision the author standing before me speaking the words I’m reading as though we were engaged in a deep conversation. I’m not sure why but I feel like my mind is just more focused that way, more willing to engage in what the text is saying.

It was a few nights ago though that after starting Brian McLaren’s new book ‘Naked Spirituality‘ that I came across a conversation he expressed having about gratitude that deeply disturbed me. I usually am greatly inspired by his writing which is why it took me back so much when reading it. Try as I might, the discontent would not leave so I thought it best to put pen to paper and express my thoughts in an open letter here. Will McLaren every read it? I do not know but, I hope by verbalizing it we might all grow to find a deeper, more unconditional spirit of gratitude.

Dear Brian McLaren,

I remember the first time I ever picked up one of your books. I was in  a Chapters book store here in SW Calgary looking for something different and came across your writing of ‘A New Kind of Christian‘. Like most other times in book stores, I began reading it in one of the aisles and found I could not put it down. Most often I like to read apologetics or theology books and it is my wife who reads the narratives and biographies but your thoughts in this book where mesmerizing! Needless to say I was finished it in 3 days and on to find the 2 follow ups after it.

Since then I have gone on to read a number of your other books including starting most recently your latest work in ‘Naked Spirituality‘. After hearing so many of your thoughts in your other books though I must admit to being a bit distressed in a story you speak of regarding a spirit of gratitude. You say,

When I was still a teenager, my friend Mary asked me, “How much money would you give to keep your eyesight if you knew you were going blind?”

“A lot,” I answered. “Everything.”

Then she asked, “What if it was your ability to walk – if you had a disease that would leave you wheelchair-bound unless you could pay for a cure. How much would you spend?”

“Everything,” I said. “I’d liquidate everything I own and go as far into debt as I could to save my mobility.”

“How about your hearing?”

“The same,” I answered.

“How about your sanity – your mental health, your intelligence?”

Finally I asked, “What’s your point?”

“I’m just trying to save you from BYTS – the Big Yellow Taxi Syndrome,” she said, evoking the newly released Joni Mitchell song. “If you were to loose any one of these abilities, you would pay millions of dollars to recover it, so each one is worth millions of dollars to you. You would rather have the ability to see or hear or move or think then tens of millions of dollars in the bank. Well,” she smiled and gave me a little shove, “you have them! Which means you’re better off than a multimillionaire! You have to know what you’ve got before it’s gone.”

Box FramingI realize that we live in a world that likes to box frame such things as success, richness, blessings, normality, and capability but in honesty I can’t help but feel personally towards this story. In open truth, here I am, in a wheelchair, paralyzed as a quadriplegic after a car accident 18 years ago, reading this story, and what I’m hearing is you would rather do anything, including go as far into debt as possible, then become like me!

Why? What is wrong with me? What am I lacking that makes your abilities more valuable then my own? Should I then go and do “everything” to not be this person in a wheelchair?

Let me share a story with you which comes from an experience I had prior to the car accident that has placed me in this wheelchair and is strangely similar to your encounter under the stars. It was about a year before my life would change in such a dramatic way and like most days I was found dribbling a basketball down the street. I was always athletic competing in just about everything and being a 6 foot 210 pound 15 year old I was as invincible as you could be!

Growing up in the church I understood the concept of God but I really didn’t take the conversation seriously. Anyways, there I was, dribbling down the street towards the courts and I distinctly remember an inner voice speaking to me. It said, “How would you like to be in a wheelchair for the rest of your life?

Now my mother had worked with people in the health care industry before who had been in wheelchairs and so it wasn’t like I wasn’t aware of some of the challenges these people face in life. Still, without really taking notice of who I was talking with and the implications of what I would say, I shot back, “Sure, I could do that! It would make me cool, unique, and I’d be some what revered!

Let’s be honest here; I had no idea what I was talking about. More to the point, I had no idea who I was talking too! Looking back now I can honestly say that I know I was talking with God that day and he was preparing me for what was going to become very shortly, a new projection to the pilgrimage of my life. Still, what was I looking for here? What was the deeper desire? Maybe even, what would make me grateful to be who God created me to be?!

Let’s look at it from the perspective of the secret vision of Jesus. (Thought you might like that term ;) ) Jesus’ disciples loved asking questions and they were constantly asking him about the “why’s” in life. One time they were walking on the streets of Jerusalem and they came across a blind man begging on the side of the street. His followers turned to him and said, “Teacher, why is this man born blind and disabled since birth? Is it because he himself has displeased God or did his parents offend God?” (John 9:2)

Jesus looked at them and answered, “It is neither because God is displeased in this man or offended by his parents. It is so that he can do the incredible works of God through being who he was created to be!” (John 9:3) Blindness was seen by Jesus not as a lacking or deficiency  but rather a personification of God given character and identity. This man was special, unique, and cool because of who God made him to be!

I have been in a wheelchair for many years now and gained much more wisdom and appreciation for the gifts God has placed in my life because of the wheelchair I live in. As such I must admit to recognizing that you probably are writing this false understanding of gratitude without realizing the danger nor damage this sense of false gratitude can create. But, we must see beyond the world’s sense of segregationalized and marginalized gratitude. Our eyes must be blinded by the glory of the cross which drives gratitude straight to the hearts of the segregated and marginalized!

I have been around some incredible people who face incredible physical and mental challenges in life and one thing that has been greatly impressed upon me is the real spirit of being able to accomplish all things through Christ’s inspiration and guidance. (Phil. 4:13) Perhaps something I am most grateful for is the encountering of Christ’s presence through such relationships and events!

We have met one time before a few years back when you came to Calgary to speak with Bob Goudzwaard on your book ‘Everything Must Change‘. After your talk I came up and shook your hand while you signed my copy of ‘A Generous Orthodoxy‘. Perhaps this is something else that must become more generous in recognition and must change in our society’s understanding of appreciation. A real spirit of gratitude is not an appreciation for what we quantify as the justifiable right in our life; but rather the physical, mental, and spiritual diversity and beauty God has placed in each one of our lives both individually and communally. Sharing those things together as equals and sharing full equity between each other despite differences; those moments are truly miraculous and filled with the glorious spirit of eternal gratitude!


Inception – God at the Movies

Inception

In a world where technology exists to enter the human mind through dream invasion, a highly skilled thief is given a final chance at redemption which involves executing his toughest job to date: Inception.

DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, a specialized spy or corporate espionage thief. His work consists of secretly extracting valuable commercial information from the unconscious mind of his targets while they are asleep and dreaming. Unable to visit his children, Cobb is offered a chance to regain his old life in exchange for an almost impossible task: “inception”, the planting of an idea into a target’s subconscious.

Inception – an act, process or instance of beginning which is often shaped by our encounters with a dream and vision to our future hopes and desires in our lives. Dreams are powerful in nature and we would be wrong to ignore their significance and meanings. In some cases our dreams may very well be God’s spoken guidance into the fabric of our being and purpose here in the world. Elihu, Job’s friend and wisdom imparter reminds him saying, “For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while they slumber on their beds, then he opens the ears of men and terrifies them with warnings, that he may turn man aside from his deed and conceal pride from a man; he keeps back his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword.” (Job 33:13-18)

Yet there is a danger also in the conceptualization of our dreams; if we choose to box their meaning in, stifle their implications, and bring our own singular interpretations to them, then to often these dreams can become ideological and lead us head long into the paralysis of idolatry. The writer of Ecclesiastes warns us, “For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity, but God is the one you must fear.” (Ecc. 5:7)

Join the Expressions Community this Saturday for God at the Movies when we will watch the film ‘Inception’ and explore the themes of Dreams & Ideologies. We will have snacks and drinks available as we look forward to seeing you here. If you and a friend are able to join us please email erik@expressionscommunity.org to ensure seating availability.


Living for Potential (Audio) – My Message at CCCF

Potentiality

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak at Canyon Creek Christian Fellowship on Sunday January 2nd, 2011 about Living for Potential while focusing on Matthew 5:48. Although feeling a little rusty, here is what I shared…


Expressions Statement of Faith – Any Thoughts?

Statement of Faith

This is a first draft to Expressions Statement of Faith. I would love to hear any constructive feed back from my tribe and readers!

Purpose/Mission

The Purpose and Mission for all of our members is Seeking Expressions of Jesus as Lord in Life and Community (Matt. 16:13-20). This mission is accomplished as we take the gospel message of Jesus into the relevant and daily life experiences we encounter both individually and as a community (Matt. 28:16-20).

Beliefs and Statement of Faith

  • We believe in one God in three persons; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Eph. 4:4-6; John 4:24; John 10:30)
  • We believe God is the creator of all that there is seen and not seen, understood and mysterious, questioned and answered. (Gen. 1:1; Isa. 42:5; John 1:3; Acts 17:24;26)
  • We believe in one Lordship over all things, places, contexts, and people through Jesus Christ as the son of God. (Matt. 16:16; John 1:14; 10:30; 14:6-7; Col. 1:18)
  • We believe Jesus suffered and died for our sins as he was crucified on the cross, that three days afterwards he was resurrected in body, that he ascended into heaven, and that he lives eternally at God’s right side. (Mark 16:19; John 20:17; Acts 1:9; Rom. 4:24b-25)
  • We believe that all people can find redemption, forgiveness, and righteousness through holistically enacted faith in Jesus Christ. (John 3:16; Acts 2:38; Rom. 10:9-10; James 2:18)
  • We believe that the Bible is the whole and complete Word of God meant to equip, teach, and inspire all followers of its reading. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
  • We believe in the unity of one church under Christ Jesus through Biblical Christian practices. (John 17:20-21)
  • We believe that all followers of Jesus are blessed and gifted according to the good works Christ calls them too through his Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:4; Gal. 5:22-24)
  • We believe in the full immersion baptism of all who hold these beliefs to be true as a physical commitment and representation of God’s grace before all his followers. (Acts 2:38; 41; 16: 31-33; Galatians 3:27; 1 Peter 3:21)

Values

We each acknowledge ourselves being within our own unique contexts, experiences, history, and relationships but are united by Expressions Mission and Five Interlocking Values. As such we seek community by balancing a holistic practice of all said values within our faith and in everything we do.

Passionate SpiritualitySpiritual Reading (Scripture); Spiritual Speaking; Spiritual Breathing; and Spiritual Acting

Radical DiscipleshipInvitational Living; Incarnational Living; Infusional Living; Inspirational Living
(Please See (i)Living Covenant)

Authentic CommunityHospitality; Unconditional Acceptance; Intentionality; Relevant

Transformational MissionRecognize a Need; Collaborate; Acknowledge a Kingdom Relevance; Take Action

Holistic StewardshipPeople; Wealth/Materials; the Environment


Further Thoughts of Christian Plodding and the Dangers of Consumeristic Church

No Explanations Inside the Church

It seems in the past few years I have been confronted by a growing dichotomy which seems to be taking shape within our Christian Church. Set up between two frontlines the Missional and Emergent tribes seem to call for radical reformation while the more streamline and orthodox seem to take this as a personal attack claiming these thoughts as being a loss of accountability at best and at worst, borderline heresy. So which is it and where do we find God at work within it all? Most importantly… where does politics give way to Kingdom love?

Not that long ago a friend of mine quoted Kevin Deyoung from a blog post called ‘The Glory of Plodding’. He said, “What we need are fewer revolutionaries and a few more plodding visionaries. That’s my dream for the church — a multitude of faithful, risk taking plodders.” What an inspiring deliberation and yet I wonder; can you be a faithful, risk taking plodder without running the risk of cultural revolutionary reactions?

The Apostle Peter was a plodder too and while he stood before thousands of people he spoke from his heart, “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17) Much like Peter perhaps the plodders of our time have a dream in uncharted waters; and our visionaries are leading us towards a revolution – one which is counter cultural not counter Christological!

The dangers of consumeristic church are most definitely rooted in a lack of commitment and the spiritual cannibalistic practices of “what’s in it for me?” My fear is that this reality has become not just individualistic in practice but also corporately expressed through the ideological expectations of set ecclesiological mandates. Let’s face it, Christian accountability is something which is centered not on maintaining an existing ecclesiology but upon the commitment to the missionary plodding of sending all of Christ’s followers into the world united with an impassioned vision for God’s Kingdom drawing near to every fabric of life.

So what of love for God’s Kingdom? Richard Neuhaus once said, “It is easy to think that we love an abstract, spiritualized, de-historicized Church just as it is easy to love abstract, spiritualized, de-historicized people. In truth to love abstractions is not to love at all; it is but a sentimental attachment to our own whimsies.

In truth I can say I love God’s Kingdom but in so doing I am in love with God’s people; in all places, forms, traditions, and diversities. To not recognize the riches of this virtue brings heed to Jesus’ warning that, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls.” (Matt. 11:17)

Does the dichotomy between Missional/Emergent and Main Stream Church demand revolutionary mentality? I do not know but, in the words of Martin Luther King I’ve been hearing a lot lately… “I have a dream today!” Maybe the church itself should spend some time dreaming too.


Letters from the Fringe in Plodding

Compass

A close friend of mine recently wrote a post called ‘Plodding’ which I’ve been thinking a lot about over the past few days. As such I’ve written a lettered response which I thought I would share for your dialogue too. Sometimes by our reading into others lives we too can find insight and a glimpse to life and faith which we did not expect.

It’s been hard trying to wait till now to get in on this conversation as this post has been on my mind the last few days. Between balancing a “steady job” and the health concerns of life in a wheelchair I’ve been slow to find the time to write.  I hope I’m not jumping in too late!

Just what do we mean here Brad by “leaving the church?” I mean are we talking about a specific event, building, and organization; or do we mean a community of people doing life together? It seems important to identify this because much of the unspoken realities in “service representation” that are mentioned in the linked article and conversation seem to pertain to a singular weekly event (VBS, greeting, Singing/choir, ect.).

If you ask me, “ecclesia” seems to be far more richer when understood as more closly connected to daily discipleship then being a matter of weekly attendance. After all, the kingdom of God is near (Luke 10:9b) whenever I enter any “door way” with a heart of adoration, a mind of focused learned attention, and a spirit of unrestrained joy! I am first and formost a FOLLOWER of Jesus in any and all contexts; in which I ENCOUNTER, EXPERIENCE, and REFLECT the church as a community of grace and unconditional acceptance.

Is everyone a “Rock Star” and Bono mentality? I hope not! But, what is the church doing to equip, develop, support, and build the leadership which might find itself on the fringes of so called stated “class” – white, middle class, married, and with two and a half children. Is Christian discipleship and expression solely based free of creative ingenuity to the marginalized and “un-classed”? If it is anything I think Jesus stood up for it was that HIS church would not be based upon demographics but upon personal confession! (Matt. 16:15-17)

I’ve read Kevin Deyoung’s book ‘Why We Love the Church’ and it has caused me to think deeply about my missional roots but I am bothered by his undertone to “Christian, but more spiritual than religious and more into social justice than the church.” What is the church meant for if not to be born in spirituality (John 3:1-15) and deeply involved in community transformation and social justice (Matt. 5:1-13; Luke 4:18-19)? Is there meant to be a separation between church and para-church? I think not.

Ben, I think you are right in identifying this sense that our generation has sometimes abandoned our sense of “community” for consumerism in self gratification. It is important to plod towards a vision of discipleship and accountability. It is equally important that this accountability however hold more balance between daily active missional impulses, worshipful learnedness, and an attentiveness to graceful evangelism.

Are there meaningful “rights of passage” J? I think there are! Of course we need to guard against them being ideological and institutional but as I’ve learned from Deyoung before; there is merit in Baptism, the breaking of bread in Communion, and Spiritual Disciplines.

For some time now Brad as you know I have found myself on the fringes of church (organizational) acceptance. I often wonder has the church itself become lost in a state of complacent consumerist expectation. Does this demand revolutionary mentality? I do not know but, in the words of Martin Luther King I’ve been hearing a lot lately… “I have a dream today!” Maybe the church itself should spend some time dreaming too.

I suppose that’s all I have to say for now. What do you guy’s think?


I Believe in the Enigma of Expressions

“Where were you when Crosby scored the golden goal?” That was the question I woke up to this past Monday morning as I sat there sipping my hot coffee and watching the Global Morning News. Like 85% of the rest of Canada I was sitting on the edge of my seat in front of the TV praying for a miracle!

As I watched the highlights one more time the theme song of “I Believe” crept into my thoughts and I began to wonder, just what is it that I believe in? Over the past few weeks Canada has been swept away in a spirit of national and global pride, of communal unity, and the celebration of gifted success in athleticism. But that belief also came in the form of unique and diverse accomplishments of greatness.

As a follower of Jesus I believe faith is united through the crux that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah and Lord over all of life and creation (John 3:16-17). But I also believe that this enigma is expressed through each individuals passions, gifts, and talents as they grow in relationship with Jesus (Matt. 16:15-19). I suppose that is where the story of Expressions Community begins and why I follow a mission of Seeking Expressions of Jesus as Lord in Life and Community.

This mission has led and continues to lead Bonnie and I through some amazing Expressions of Jesus such as our Re:Genesis group which offers support and inspiration to those who face challenges in life. Re:Genesis is meant to inspire people who face many challenges; and not necessarily just physical examples either but all trials in existence, to find a sense of new life and values which encourage us with purpose and significance in God’s calling.

God at the Movies has found Expressions of belief and truth in today’s parables and silver screens. I laughed as my friend Mike who is not a follower of Jesus (yet) began to grow in faith as he said to me, “Going to watch a movie and talk with my friends at Expressions just didn’t seem like going to church!” I couldn’t help but see the paraphrase in Jesus’ words to his disciples (Matt. 13:10-17).

Expressions has also led us to take on many transformational missions such as Conversations in ESL and Expressions of Compassion at the Mustard Seed each month. I am particularly looking forward to our Adventures in Mars Hill mission this April as we lead a group down to the Body, Soul, and Spirit Expo to share about a Kingdom which makes the unknown God known to those who are seeking the truth (Acts 17:23). We did this last September 2008 and were blown away by the miracles we experienced. We were touched after receiving a letter from Perry who we had developed a friendship with while at the Expo as she wrote, “You were the unplanned special gift that will hold a sacred place in my heart when I think of my Calgary trip. The light and radiance you two send out into the world is like a magnetic veil of pure unconditional love.”

The mysteries of belief are not always an easy road to travel as even Jesus said, “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matt. 7:14) I count myself blessed and privileged to be one of those who finds himself in the midst of expressing that enigma of belief.
Perhaps you are asking too “Who do I say Jesus is?”, “What is it that I believe?”, and “How do I express that belief?” Perhaps we can explore that enigma together and what it means to follow Jesus as Lord in Life and Community. Perhaps together we can find Expressions of Jesus – www.expressionscommunity.org.


Searching for the Real Avatar – “I See You!”

Last Friday evening I had the opportunity to sit in a packed theater and watch the film Avatar for the first time. I was blown away by the amazing effects and swept into the story line by the many cultural connections with our world today. Like so many other films have done in past, Avatar grappled in its undertones with real issues such as environmental concerns, native relations, and military movements with stunning pictures of wildlife and language uses such as words like “Shock and Awe” and subtitles for native speech.

I must admit though that this is not what toke my heart away during the course of the film. What really got to me was the central storyline with the character of Jake and his questions behind identity as a paralyzed marine. Sitting in my own wheelchair I began struggling with the same uncertainties he was facing in the light of a new world.

Who is my Avatar? What would it be like to have a new body? Or as Col. Miles Quaritch said to Jake; to have my real legs back? Who is the real me?

Being a gen X’er, the word avatar always seemed to me to be an image you put on your facebook page or blog address to which people identify you as. It surprised me to realize after looking it up in a dictionary that the word avatar actually means “the embodiment of something: somebody who embodies, personifies, or is the manifestation of an idea or concept.

In that sense really think about it for a moment and ask yourself; Am I the same person at work that I am at home? Are you the same person on Sunday at church? How about when you are standing with the other parents outside the school while waiting to pick up your kids? How many Avatars do you have? Which one is the real one?

There is this moment in the film when Jake and his new found friend Neytiri are arguing over the fact that she does not see him as being authentic. In a sense she is saying, “I do not know who or what you are!” It is during this moment that the spirits of Ey’wa, the Na’vi’s understanding of God, descend around Jake and it becomes a sign to Neytiri that even if she cannot see the real Jake, Ey’wa could see him.

It is easy for me to conceal who I truly am in character as a husband, son, pastor, or follower of Jesus behind shadows of personal conception and agenda. In some sense it seems as though I can get lost in these avatars myself and forget who the real me is. No matter how hard I try though it doesn’t seem to change the fact that God still seems to know me as he whispers the words of Jeremiah 1:5; “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.” It is a mystery I still wonder about today.

Jesus himself became an avatar in the sense that he was God incarnate. I guess you could say he was the real avatar. One day he went fishing with a group of fishermen. He spent the entire day with them while learning who they were, speaking their language, and seeing who they truly are. It was then that he turned to them and said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:19) Jesus in becoming one of them saw right through them to their hearts; he saw their real avatars!

Throughout Jake’s journey he was offered healing but it came in two forms. On the one hand Col. Miles Quaritch offered him purpose in being used as a marine and in doing so he would be “given his legs back”. On the other hand Jake could choose to submit his entire being to the wonder and care of Ey’wa in the awakening of a body given through love and the mystery of recreation.

Without giving anything away I admit to struggling with this in the personal sense. It might be easy to expect God to heal me as a paralyzed man on my terms with my own expectations of time, appearance, and significance. But is healing meant to be easy and solely about me or is it really about the relationship which I have with my creator?

It seemed a question to which I might wrestle with for many years to come until I heard a comment William Young, author of ‘The Shack’, stated in an interview the other day. He said, “I do not believe God heals people so that he can use them. I believe God heals people because he loves them; and then he invites them to play.” It was in this moment that the questions seemed to disappear and the visionary wonder of healing and recreation coalesced with the trust that God would find the balance (1 Corinthians 15:35-49).

Is the movie Avatar a Christian film? I do not think James Cameron intended it to be so when he first developed it but; like most created things, if we are willing to extend a listening ear we just my catch the faded whispers of truth from a loving creator who is saying, “I see you.”


Re:Genesis With Dr. Jeff Koep – Finding Health in the Midst of the Greatest Challenges

Last November we had the honor of my friend and chiropractor Dr. Jeff Koep coming and sharing his faith with our Re:Genesis group. He had quite the testimony and spirit for encouraging holistic faith and health while we spoke for about 1 1/2 hours! Jeff offered five practices of holistic health which when applied with our faith can give a real representation of what it means to find health in the midst of the greatest challenges. Here is a letter which he offered at his practice of South Trail Chiropractic Family Wellness Center in the following weeks.

To see a write up on our January Re:Genesis gathering Click Here.

Believe it or not, my goal in last week’s newsletter was not to depress you! In fact, it was meant to a) honor an incredible woman and b) to get you thinking about who in your life might be taken from you prematurely if they keep living the way they are living. You see, that man who died in the gym could have been anyone; even someone you know right now. It could happen to someone you know tomorrow or 20 years from now if they don’t change. I also wanted you to think about what YOU need to change so that you can live life fully right now and for many years to come; so that you can fully enjoy your family, your work, your passions, and your purpose. It is our mission to help you and your families achieve that.

The “part two” of this is that there absolutely IS a better way to live that will ensure a long healthy life. But most people do not live that way. We here at South Trail Chiropractic are dedicated to teaching you this way of living, which we call Maximized Living. There are Five Essentials to Maximized Living and all are extremely important if you are planning on living a full and healthy life and raise the healthiest children on the planet! The 5 Essentials are:

1) Maximized Mind – includes time/stress management, sleep, spirituality, and positive relationships.
2) Maximized Nerve Supply – the power to heal and be healthy is in the spinal cord. When the nerves are interfered with (subluxation), the body cannot function or heal properly.
3) Maximized Quality Nutrition – food provides the fuel and building blocks that your body needs to continue to power and heal itself on a daily basis; you are what you eat!
4) Maximized Oxygen and Lean Muscle – Exercise allows your body to take in higher levels of oxygen and creates lean muscle that keeps both your body and mind healthy.
5) Minimize Toxins – toxins affect our bodies in a negative way and inhibit us from functioning at optimal levels eventually leading to illness and disease.

The 5 Essentials are the core foundation of Maximized Living. Without any of these Essentials, you are unable to live the long, healthy and fulfilled life that you are meant to live. Each of these Essentials work together to keep your cells in optimal shape and your body functioning at its highest levels. If you only focus on one of these essentials, such as exercise, you are leaving out other core elements that keep your body healthy. Of course, your adjustments and spinal correction exercises are taking care of Essential #2, which makes sure that the brain-body connection is fully functional, but what about the other four? Again, we are dedicated to teaching you about them! Starting in January, we will be holding bi-monthly advanced health workshops teaching you the Five Essentials of Maximized Living. As well, we will be holding a one day Maximized Living Makeover to teach you how to regain your health in 40 days.

The exciting part of this is that you CAN regain your health; and you CAN save a life by sharing this information with your friends and family. The North American lifestyle is literally killing people and many don’t see it happening until it’s too late. We will be asking you to bring guests to our events to make sure that we are all reaching out to those who need us. Again, I ask you, what if you gave a dying person the information they need to LIVE? You CAN save a life.

Maximized Blessings, Dr. Jeff


Returning to a State of Just Wondering…

It seems like forever since I’ve been writing here on Just Wondering… In the same sense my time of sharing my thoughts on SE Calgary News over the last three months came and flew by. During that time a friend of mine asked if I would share some of my articles here on Just Wondering so I thought I would return to my reflections on Ecclesiastes as well as interjecting them with some of the articles I wrote for SE News.

Life has been busy here not only with work but with our involvements in our Expressions Community. Anyways, as an opener I thought I would just share some musings which have poked my life as of late!

I have been reading this. – It seems an odd choice I know for my Missional friends but has offered me an argument to wrestle with; if for nothing else the willingness to let the “other side be heard”.

I have been listing to this. – I have come to love this band and would welcome the opportunity to go and hear them live anytime!

I think this is the most incredible thing I have ever seen and only hope I might get to take the great leap myself one day… oh’ya, one day!

I am going to this.

I can’t wait for this.

I am Just Wondering… what is God going to do next?!


Peter Rollins on Refusing to Lead

I just received my next read in the mail – How (Not) to Speak of God By Peter Rollins. I am looking forward to it as I checked out this:


My Confession to Atheism

For some of you I know this statement probably comes as a bit of a shock but just give me a few moments. For those of you who know me however, this probably will come with easy understanding. Here is something which I have been wondering about over the past week…


Would Jesus Ride This Bus? I know I Would!

atheist-busSitting outside of my mother in-laws bank the other day I started laughing as I heard a caller phone into our local Christian radio station with blasting comments toward an advertisement campaign taking place in our city. It was obvious he was dramatically impacted by the Atheistic view points as he read the sign aloud, “There is probably no God. So stop worrying and enjoy life!” While adding that, “we have a duty as Christians to demand the city removes these ads from the public and silence the Atheist’s lies.”

Don’t get me wrong here and let me say this up front; I am not an atheist and I am not in support of what the ad campaign is proclaiming. I am a follower of Jesus and as a Christian I think we need to fairly ask the question, “Would Jesus ride this bus?” To give the short answer I think he would! Why not?!

If we look at the gospels in the light of where Jesus went and who he spoke with; it seems fair to say that not everyone agreed with what he had to say. Most particularly that he was the Messiah, the Son of Man, and most radically the Son of God. It infuriated much of the religious establishments leading many to judgmental attitudes toward him as they questioned his followers, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Matthew 9:11) Jesus was a radicalist, a rebel to institutionalism and exclusivity. Ultimately, it was Jesus’ wildness (if I can borrow the term) that led to the Pharisee’s putting him to death.

All said, what did Jesus’ message of freedom and truth do? It ignited a firestorm of conversations between all sorts of different and diverse people. Some of which gave conflicting and contradicting answers to the beliefs and teachings he shared. I think of when he asked his disciples, “Who do the people say that I am?” They didn’t answer him all in unison and they certainly didn’t give him the same response. They said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Matthew 16:13-20)

So again I ask the question, “Would Jesus ride this bus?” And I think he would. He would reach out to these people in simple relationship. He would engage with them in the conversation that they were already a part of. He would be a radicalist and love them for who they are and where their passions, dreams, and hopes exist today. Jesus would bring truth into light by his presence and proximity to those who needed him most (Matthew 9:13; 11:19 Mark 2:17).

Maybe we should then ask the question of ourselves, “Would I ride this bus?” and I think my answer would be the same, “Yes, of course I would. Why not?!” It seems funny but, the next morning Bonnie and I were watching the news and they were interviewing people from both sides of the argument. The one pastor explains “This statement seems more of a call out to uncertainty and desire for dialogue.” After a few more blasting and judgment statements from a few others the atheist supporter comments himself, “We are just looking to start a conversation with people.”

I suppose that is where I sit too. I want to be part of the conversation whether we agree on everything or not. Let’s face it; what is in appearance on the outside is not as important as who is driving the bus!


WWJB: What would Jesus Buy?

Right. So after my rant on the WWJD question in my thoughts on Tony Campolo’s Justice Presentation; I came across this:

Talk about Hilarious! What do you think Jesus would buy?


Campolo’s Justice: Reflections & Thoughts

global_justiceAfter visiting with Bonnie’s mom in the Rockyview Hospital and grabbing a quick dinner at Montana’s we headed to Ambrose College to hear Tony Campolo speak on his views of Social Justice and the role of Christ’s followers. I wish that I had invited a few more friends from MTC to come hear him speak but since I had only known about it for the past week it was difficult to let the others know in good enough time; not to mention that it was a week night and therefore harder to get people to come out.

Anyways, we were both looking forward to it and I knew Bonnie would like his comedic storylines. Needless to say we had a few laughs throughout the night and we both got into quite a deep conversation during the drive home about the things we reflected on in his presentation.

WWJD – “What Would Jesus Do?”

I think it was the late 80′s when I first heard the question and terminology “What Would Jesus Do?” It was thought provoking and most definitely influential in the way I think many approached their daily activities. Campolo seemed to talk a fair bit about this in the early parts of his presentation with particular stories of how it influenced his thoughts and actions during the Korean War. It was funny listening to him talk about arguing with his CO’s (military lingo for Commanding Officer) about whether or not Jesus would drop a bomb on the enemy. Coming from a military family though, I find in the reality of the situation that I highly doubt he put up much of an argument less he spent much of his drafted career in the military stockades.

wwjdThe question of “What Would Jesus Do?” has always bothered me though throughout the last decade. If it is implying “What would Jesus do?” then it seems to have an unspoken assumption and bias that he is not currently already present and doing it. This assumption marginalizes and then prejudges contexts and individuals according to the biases and beliefs of a specific person. So that when an individual deems that a person is non- Christian, pagan, unbaptized, and apart from “the Church” it is assumed they are without God and Jesus has nothing to do with or in there lives.

Bonnie and I began to picture how this looked in relationship to our own contexts. After visiting with Bonnie’s mom in the hospital it was easy to identify with how here mom struggled to see how Jesus was a part of her life. It was true that she was not baptized, she did not really know how or in what way to approach prayer and understanding God’s Word in her life, and she was not really a part of a specific church but; she did know love, she did have family who prayed with and for her, and she did care and show compassion for others. She may not have known Jesus in the personal and intimate sense but Jesus does know her!

For Bonnie and I then the question was not “What Would Jesus Do?” but rather, two fold; “What Is Jesus Doing?” and “How Can We Do It With Him?

“The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.”John 1:9-10

Power & Authority

Campolo’s views on Power and Authority really resonated with me. Particularly in his statement that, “The Church needs to speak to the effects of sexual immorality in our culture with authority.” It seems very much that the Church speaks more with the implied essence of power to our culture today rather then with authority and integrity; particularly when it comes to sexual immorality. It gives off a sense of arrogance and false self pride as the Church dictates judgments over homosexuality, promiscuity, and immoral social and economical habits.

Please do not get me wrong. I believe there are great reprehensible consequences to participating in such activities but, as followers of Jesus we must let the presence of integrity and personal life actions give authority to our voice as a church and not let ego or institutional religious conviction be a determining factor to action or voice.

I sometimes wonder if our personal understanding of time is a consequence to our rash actions and convictions as a church and as individuals. Rather then letting our authority of culture and society be shaped through the journey of relational time giving with the focus on communal practices which go beyond any one person or life span; we want change in the time span of now so that we can “see it” and perhaps receive personal recognition for it. Perhaps it is better to receive and recognize the unstated recognitions of Jesus’ promises rather then risk the dangers of worldly acknowledgments throughout history both good and bad.

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence oearth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is wthe second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” – Revelation 20:11-15

The Katinas - Roots – Freedom

Pro Life and the Right to Choose

Throughout the night Tony alluded to issues surrounding the crisis of the infant mortality rate in the United States and the implications of abortion as a woman’s right to choose. Although not spending a lot of time on these issues it seemed he had a very strict black and white approach to such medical practices. I wish he spent more time on this subject.

Abortional practices I believe can have a great strain on ethical responsibilities particularly when we approach the issues of the right to choose as being more of a self motivating principle. However, it is anything but a Black and White issues. Nor do I think we have a right to stand as judge and jury over the past actions of individuals who have been involved or affected by the history of such practices.

If we are to have faith that God can and is working through the power of Jesus’ death on the cross then we must allow for the practices of grace to extend to the many gray issues in life such as euthanasia and abortion. Let me make this clear; I am not an advocate for either practice. I simply think that as followers of Jesus we need to spend more time dialoguing and exploring these issues together in close proximity to prayer rather then insulating and retreating from such issues. Ignorance cannot be an excuse for our lack of action or involvement in any of these issues. It is our love, compassion, and unconditional acceptance of those who have been affected by such issues which will allow for communal growth and restructure in such areas of society.

Stagnation and the Lack of Social Involvement Regarding the Church

Towards the end of the night one of the Profs on stage asked a question relating to Social Activisms and Church Involvements. I must confess that I do not remember the question verbatim but in paraphrase I believe it was stated, “What do you think is causing stagnation to the Churches involvement in Social justice and communal activism?”

This is where I think Tony’s response was perhaps most sketchy and lacking in structure. He articulated a great depiction of how the Church has maybe become a little influenced by a slave mentality to the social norms of consumer practices. Personally I wonder if he isn’t cutting it a little short. If I were to state it I would think that the Church is perhaps falling into the pattern of Religious Institutionalization and the idolization of perpetuating imperialistic or dogmatic practices. I might refer to a previous post I wrote awhile ago called The Christian Church, Ideologies, and Some Random Thoughts (Click Here).

angelina_and_babyIn following his picture of enslavement, Tony gave some basic encouargement for those listening just to go and be involved with social environments with particular focus on adopting children through World Vision. This is a great avenue to being active in the social justice movement but in honesty it seems lacking in substance, structure, and purposeful meaning or mission. If we are to be truly active in the Social Justice Movement both as a Church and as individuals we need to be deeply rooted as missional incarnations and followers of Jesus.

I know that in the conversations of missional and organic practices incarnational living can be diverse in nature and in a lot of ways I think that is the way it should be as God intended his creation to be creative, unique, and diverse. But, with any of these identities it is always important to be first locally present and culturally attuned to the needs, practices, and proximity of those around us; both those who are in the majority and those who are in the marginalized minorities.

As for Bonnie’s and my structure… We just live for Expressions.


Re:Genesis Project

O.K. So I have been preparing for a new group which I am hoping will meet once a month starting on Saturday, January 17th, 2009. My thoughts are that it would be a support and social group for local people who face great challenges in their daily lives. I am thinking that it would be mainly for those who have physical challenges but I would like it to be open and inclusive to those who face other challenges too whether they are psychological, emotional, physical, or spiritual in nature.

To start it off in January I planned on us gathering for dinner followed by my friend Brad sharing his thoughts on how we can “Find New Life in the Midst of the Greatest Challenges.” Something which I thought could be a bit of a catch phrase and theme to the group. Anyways, I was designing some logo images to share with the community and was unsure which would be the best one and I wanted to share them here and see what you thought of them.

Which image do you think is the best fit?

regenesis-ii

regenesis-iii

regenesis


What If Starbucks Used Church Marketing?

I found this in connection to a post on Beyond Relevance and thought it had some interesting ups and downs.


Wisdom (Video)

What is wisdom to you?


Thoughts From Mars Hill and the Body, Soul, and Spirit Expo

It is difficult knowing where to start when describing the impacts which the Body, Soul, & Spirit Expo have had in mine and others faith. Were we called to do this out of bringing Jesus to those who sought after him most? Or, where we there to witness the impacts and expressions of Jesus which would affect those who came seeking and that of ourselves in following his lead? Sitting and listening to the many stories and the many moments of expression coming from those who went to the Expo, I could not help but recognize the depth to which Jesus worked; not just in the hearts and minds of seeking attendees but also in the core of his followers.

There are many stories which I would like to share with you but perhaps for the moment I will share just one. It was the later part of Friday afternoon and we had pretty well just finished setting our area up for people to come in and speak with us. A gentleman named Scott, who was just passing by, quickly noticed our open relaxed format and promptly walked right in a sat next to my friend Justin while asking, “So, what is this all about? Who are you guy’s?”

In truth, we were a little taken back by his upfront approach but we easily explained our affiliation with two local churches and intent to offer a place of hospitality and rest to those who might be down here at the Expo. “That’s cool!” he said. I asked him what brought him down to the Expo and he explained that he had come down for a “Quantum Energy Treatment”. I didn’t really understand what he meant but through conversation I could really sense his need to find a social setting of acceptance and to find a community which would not be judgmental by worldly expectations.

That was what was so cool about being in conversation with Scott. We went from talking about worldly judgments and values to the possibility of a different world’s values and then; the possibility of another Kingdom’s values and judgments!

It was in the midst of this conversation that Justin and I extended our hands out to Scott’s shoulders and we asked if we could pray for him. After asking how, he graciously accepted and following praying for him he asks with a large smile, “Is that it?”

I couldn’t help but sense the simplicity of Jesus’ gospel within these many moments at the Body, Soul, and Spirit Expo. Jesus made it clear, “The Kingdom of God is near!” (Luke 10:9) In the acceptance of that truth, “come follow me.” (Luke 9:23). Is that not what a true disciple is?

I have found so much encouragement out of this experience and can see the great things Jesus has done and is doing through our presence at the Body, Soul, and Spirit Expo. It is with the greatest hope that we return to these people as we share a gospel of love, hope, and faith (1 Cor. 13:13) and remain in their home (Luke 10:7).

Thoughts for the future…

Greater and more Radical Discipleship

We need to plan for Invitations of follow up and places for seeking people to go and encounter more about Jesus as we encounter them at the Expo. Whether it is gathering around ‘Alpha’, ‘The Secret Message of Jesus’, or something else.

Planning for Generosity

We offered free Bibles and donated materials. It is just a thought but, if we could plan for a rather more structured generosity “package” such as a connected Bible, Book (i.e. ‘Purpose Driven Life’, ‘The Secret Message of Jesus’, ect.), and a Daily Bread; I wonder if it might find a greater response.

More Space and Planning of Format

It seemed our 8’ X 8’ booth was quit cramped at times and difficult for inclusive and hospitable practices/values. If we had the opportunity to expand our area as well as the availability to use an electrical outlet we could work towards communicating a Third Place space and the values of Authentic Community in greater fashion. Hospitality can also be improved with better coffee, tea, and atmosphere.


A Second Look at the Mars Hill Venture: Body, Soul, and Spirit Expo (Video)


Gary Collins on Fundamentalism and Liberalism

Several months ago my pastor and friend Norm forwarded me a copy of Gary Collins newsletter which had an interesting comment regarding Emergent – Missional Churches and the tensions between Theological Liberalism and Fundamental Calvinism.

What do you think?

I have followed the emergent-emerging-missional church movement since its appearance only a few years ago. Initially its roots were evangelical but it has expanded in different directions ranging from hard-core Calvinism to a loose liberalism that appears to dismiss or redefine most basic tenets of Christian faith and biblical theology. There is a theological drift in many emergent circles, a lack of accountability, a hyper-criticism of traditional or seeker-sensitive megachurches, and sometimes an uncritical embrace of postmodern philosophies. But this is not true of all, despite the sometimes strong condemnation from a few traditional Christian leaders or professors. At its core, emergent churches, mostly with younger leaders and congregations, are working to reach a contemporary, mostly postmodern, generation for Christ. This is a generation of thirty-somethings and under who consider themselves spiritual and want to know about Jesus. But they are turned off by their perceptions of formal religion. They are described in books like UnChristian (by David Kinnaman), They Like Jesus but Not the Church (Dan Kimball), or I’m Fine with God…It’s Christians I Can’t Stand (Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz).

Along with therapeutic skills and Biblical knowledge, shouldn’t Christian counselors understand the cultural foundations of their counselees and the context in which their problems are embedded? Counselees under 35 or 40 have been raised in a generation saturated by the media, technologically sophisticated, skeptical of your expertise, interested in spirituality but resistant to anything that looks like formalized religion. Even so, they are open to spiritual issues. Counselors can and often do earn the respect and trust of these people but it helps if we are sensitive to their worldviews and able to understand that they may like our Jesus but not like our Christianity.


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