Friday, December 17, 2010


Wow.  Um ... wow.  I do not endorse all of what Colbert says in this video (hopefully clearly).  But I think it could make for some interesting dialog ...

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Whaddya Think?

"I don't get upset when salesclerks don't say 'Merry Christmas' because I'm a fan of the 3rd commandment." - @jaredcwilson via Twitter.

Here's commandment number three in an old school version (King James): Deuteronomy 5:11 "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold [him] guiltless that taketh his name in vain."

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

Soma School Quotes

These twitter-y quotes are encouraging, cahllenging, and helpful.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Verge Network

The website has launched with videos from their February 2010 conference, including this one by Hugh Halter.  I'd also watch the ones by Vandersteldt, Chan ... and perhaps I'll recommend more once I've watched them ... 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Tangible Kingdom Primer

Update: The video was messing with the appearance of the blog. So you can link to the video externally here.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Tangible Kingdom

I have found "The Tangible Kingdom" to be one of the best resources on living the Gospel life that I have ever read.  Overstated?  I dare you to decide for yourself.  It's a book as much about our own tranformation together as believers and followers of Jesus Christ as it is a book about the mission of God to extend his kingdom through his people.  And it's mostly through stories!

"So, Burly, if you were to suggest the best resources for helping communities of believers plant the Gospel, what would they be?"

Well, I'd probably recommend starting with "Total Church" as a foundational resource for that type of mission.  Then I might work through "The Gospel-Centred Church" with a small group of people.  Then if you (and the group) are "trackin'" with what you've read together, I'd move on to "The Tangible Kingdom."  After having read it independently (and others in your group have read it independently), I'd go through "The Tangible Kingdom Primer" in smaller groups, as the homework is heavy-duty (in a good way).  By the way, this suggestion (re: "The Tangible Kingdom" and the "... Primer" are not based on actually having done this).

Regarding "The Tangible Kingdom Primer," Hugh Halter (one of the authors) said the following over on Ed Stetzer's blog:

"The biggest thing you'll probably notice is that the 8 weeks feel like you're starting over with Jesus. Because we have so many stories of conversion, people often use it as evangelism training for small groups, but we actually wrote it as a spiritual formation exercise. We have found that what truly gets in the way of becoming a disciple is "individualism, consumerism, and materialism." Everyone says they would love to live missionally BUT, BUT, BUT and then we get a list of all the reasons we don't. In actuality, all the aforementioned 'isms' are rooted in sin and Galatians teaches that the ways of the flesh are in direct opposition to the ways of the spirit and you end up not doing what you want. We've learned therefore that you can preach missional living all you want and call people to be disciples, but it goes absolutely nowhere unless you create a spiritual formation pathway that actually challenges our self orientation. The Primer does this."

"Hey, Burly, who made you the expert on what I should read and do."

Why are you being so confrontational?  You know that I know what's best for you and everyone else ;o) ...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Francis Chan

Francis Chan is a man who follows Jesus Christ.  Earlier this year, he left his post as Senior Pastor of the church he founded.  This update was encouraging and challenging to me.

Worth the Drive?

Brent Thomas asks whether it's worth the drive to your non-local church.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Not Enough Pastor Jobs

USA Today had an article posted online two days ago regarding the fact that there just aren't very many jobs out there for Protestant pastors.  The article is talking about the lack of full-time, professional, pastoral positions. 

I remember back in my seminary days being annoyed by the fact that seminary students were not told by the administration that pastoral positions are few and far between. 

Let me ask a barrage of questions:

*Why do people who are gifted to minister the Gospel solely look for full-time positions in order to minister?  *What if the economy doesn't recover?
*What if you [hypothetical reader in the category of one looking for a place to minister full-time in a professional pastoral position] never find the ministry "job" you're looking for? 
*Will that prevent you from functioning as a pastor/shepherd/minister?

Please discuss.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Constitution of the Upside-Down Kingdom

Keith Dow, husband to Darcie Dow who is the good friend of my sister-in-law Heidi (got that?) wrote the following Constitution of the Kingdom of Jesus.  I hope it stirs you:

Constitution of the Upside-Down Kingdom

We the people of the upside-down Kingdom proclaim a revolution of repentance. We will no longer be conformed to the counterfeit-power of politics but will stand transformed in the resurrection-power of the Prince of Peace. We bear witness to His strength made perfect in weakness and the joy that is perfected in suffering. His Kingdom dwells among the dead and the dying, the wounded and the helpless; for it is not the healthy that need a doctor and not it is not the living that need new life.

We refuse to legislate life and death but instead join in the death-to-life renewal that begins with poverty of spirit and ends in richness of faith. It is not we who decide where the sun shines or the rain falls, nor do we bless or curse. The gavel of judgment is too heavy for our feeble human hands to hold.

We renounce the world as it has been told to us, the world of kings and princes, and look instead to the world of slaves and paupers, of widows and orphans. Here the least are the greatest and these are our masters, our monarchs. From the eyes of the one without a home a palace is commissioned. From the whisper of a muted voice, a herald is ordained. As I look into the soul of my neighbour-other, my response signs my soul. It is at this moment that I proclaim or betray my allegiance to the Kingdom of repentance.

We reclaim the back alleys, the crack houses, and the minefields as holy ground. We sanctify the shelters, the ghettos, and the street-corner grates. Our war is not with flesh-and-blood, but within each kingdom-citizen. We obliterate indifference and apathy. We attack hatred, spite, and judgement. Even the will to justice succumbs to its fulfillment in mercy, and other-love submerges a legion of sins.

We mourn together the loss of the garden, the birth of god-lust, and the claiming of the power of good and evil. It is only the fruit of life that fills famished souls, not knowledge-power wielded over one another. As Adams and as Eves together we stumble back to the gardens of humankind, tending to the withering and dying and tearing out the weed of desire to be divine found festering in each soul.

We demand no earthly King and call for no holy war. We ourselves are the infidels and the pagans, who know not what we do. Were we even to recognize an enemy, we seek not victory but the martyrs death: To be witness, to proclaim the King's death, to hear "Well done." This is our battle cry.

We dictate no foreign policy or trade embargo; The choices we make are of conscience not control. We refuse to condone the violence of economic oppression or knowingly enslave our global neighbours for the sake of passing popularity or the latest lust. In each transaction we relate not to an 'it' but to a 'you,' not to a brand but to a brother, and each dollar is either a helping hand to bring one to their feet or another drop in an ocean of indifferent economic subjugation.

We believe that giving our children good gifts means not comfort but creative compassion, not fortification but the strength to forgive. It is not weakness that prevents our hands from lifting the sword to protect those we love or ourselves, but the assurance that the victory lies in having fought the good fight and finished the race. Defeat lies not in death but in words betrayed by actions, for each enemy we encounter is both a stranger and a friend, a foe and a brother to whom we are bound. Uncompromising love is what we have witnessed and unrelenting mercy is our prototype. To abandon our Saviour-King at the call of His cross is to be found unworthy of His Name.

We are the few and the foolish. We will never be the majority, the crowd, or the many. Narrow is the path we walk, a path not of practicality but of passion, not of wisdom but of weakness. It is the foolishness of the cross to which we cling; the madness that to suffer is better than to sin; the absurdity of relinquishing rights rather than resisting. To watching eyes we bewilder and confuse, but we are a sight that will not be quickly forgotten. Our dying prayer is that every adversary's eyes will eventually rest upon the crucified Christ.

We the people of the upside-down kingdom work expectantly through the night, confident that the dawn of a new day will soon be upon us.
Reposted with permission.

Jesus is Lord and King

My friend Tim has become a broken record.  On his twitter feed he keeps writing things like "The Lord Reigns," or  "The King is on the throne."  Then we have a prayer meeting and the first prayer out of his mouth is the acknowledgement of Jesus as king.  Then we partake of communion and he wants to propose a toast: "To the King." 

Proposing a toast over the Lord's supper?  How ... appropriate!

I was on the bus this morning thinking about the fact that Jesus is Lord and King.  It excited me, because I know that as I frame my life around this reality (which, by the way, Jesus did the initial framing for me), I will experience such freedom and joy.  Sharing that reality with others is becoming increasingly easier, more natural, and just-plain-gets-me-riled-up in a good way as I experience that freedom and joy

Of course it's a process, but as I'm increasingly sensing the freedom that comes from living under the reign of Jesus, I long to share that joy with others.  That's what the Gospel does.  It helps us live in freedom and joy under the reign of Jesus.

I've often defaulted to thinking about the Gospel as "the-thing-I-share-with-other-people-so-that-they-can-get-saved-and-get-on-with-life."  Deep down, I've known it's more than this, but I have functionally lived my life with a Gospel that is less than the Gospel of the King and his kingdom.  I have lived with a Gospel that is less than all-encompassing.  I've lived with a Gospel that is less than Gospel, really.  It's less than Gospel if it doesn't start with Jesus as Lord and King of everything. 

Am I right?  Am I stating the obvious here?  Maybe so, but I'll take that kind of obvious for the sake of experiencing the freedom and joy that King Jesus paid with his life for me to experience.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mere Churchianity

The late Michael Spencer finished his first and only book.  Here's an excerpt.  Having been an avid Internet Monk fan (the website of Michael Spencer), I am looking forward to reading this book.  Pre-order it if you're interested.  If you read it, I guarantee that you'll be glad and irritated that you did.

The Holy What?

Jonathan Dodson clearly explains the need for a reliance on the Holy Spirit in church planting. Call me crazy, but I do believe this applies to all of life. I resonate deeply with what he says here. As someone who has been trained to think strategically, professionally and academically regarding church planting and ministry in general, this transition in my own thinking has not only been deeply helpful, but deeply freeing. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Slow Church

Here's the deal.  You may just want to de-subscribe from my blog and just regularly visit Tim Chester's, including this latest post.  I think that's becoming abundantly clear to me. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Chester on Shared Life

I feel a little silly sometimes posting things like this that make me feel a bit dense (is that the right word?) after I read them, but it's just so good and refreshing and helpful.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Proactive and Reactive Gospel Intentionality

Tim Chester has a helpful post on proactive and reactive Gospel intentionality.  I recommend making his blog a part of your regular reading diet so that I don't have to link to everything good he writes.

Screwtape's Church Planting Advice to Church Planter "Wormwood"

David Garrison wrote this.  More than just "church planters" or "pastors" should read it.  Included is a very good description of the "Great Commision" and its parts.

HT: Jonathan Dodson

Monday, May 10, 2010

Who's Goin' to This?

Can't promise I will be, but I wanna go to this conference.  Maybe if 10 or 15 of us rent a 10 or 15 passenger van and all share a room at a Motel 6.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Meet Bill Kinnon

I never have met him, but I'd like to.  He's got the same writing "vibe" as the late Michael Spencer (the "Internet Monk") whose blog I loved to read.  I'm guessing he would not feel that he should be counted worthy to be in the same category as the Internet Monk.  But, whatever.  Check out Bill Kinnon's latest honest, thoughtful, prophetic, scathing, etc. (you figure out the best adjective) thoughts on discipleship, leadership and "being the church" (among other things) here.  Let me know what you think.

If I make it up to Toronto sometime, I might try to get coffee and/or the world's best hot dog with him here.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

#1, #3, #7, #8

Those are the numbered "quotes" I especially liked at David Fitch's post here.  The "quotes" is in quotation marks on purpose, as not all are truly quotes.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Pastor is a Disciple

Reminders like this one are so refreshing, challenging and motivating.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

How's about Calling it Biblical Community?

Tim Chester has another excellent post re: community where he beats the dead horse that won't die.  He talks about the fact that we as Christians need to live in community for the reasons given in his post.  That used to be plain-ol'-Christianity, now it's called missional community so that it will get a hearing.  I commend Tim Chester for doing so.  I hope he keeps beating that dead horse 'til it really dies and biblical community comes to life in the lives of Jesus' people.

Friday, April 30, 2010

"Abide" by Jared C. Wilson

I got a copy yesterday and perused it.  Looks like a good read on five disciplines of the Christian life, including service and community.  You can buy it here, if you wish.  This intensive review was conducted of my own accord without any payment made to me by the author or the publisher.  Once I actually read it, perhaps I'll say more about it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Love Thy Neighborhood

Jen Janis told me the night before I preached that she found this shirt at the Gap and was going to buy it for me to wear while I preached.  I would have, but $24 for t-shirt? C'mon!

Friday, April 23, 2010

"Christ sweated blood for them ..."

Thank you Tim Chester for this helpful reminder of the centrality of the cross in making community work.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Church Planting?

"I am becoming increasingly persuaded that the term 'church planting' is a significant hindrance to church planting." - Steve Timmis of the Crowded House (not the band)

I agree.  Do you?  Check out what Neil Cole said on the same topic (if I'm understanding Steve Timmis correctly) at the Verge conference:

"Stop planting churches. Plant Jesus and churches will be the by product." - Neil Cole

"It is possible to plant churches and never make disciples. Church is to be the outgrowth of the message." - Neil Cole

And check out the last paragraph of Tim Chester's article here

Monday, April 19, 2010

Doing the Dishes and Preaching a Sermon

Two Sundays ago, I preached my first "behind-a-pulpit" sermon in three years at my church. The sermon can be found here. Anyway, during my sermon I made the comment that when I go out at night with the guys at Herb's or Starbucks to talk about life and the Gospel, etc., we wait until 8:30 pm so we can help our wives with the dishes before leaving. That comment generated incredibly positive feedback from a few women and I got a few "my wife apppreciated the part where you talked about doing the dishes ..." comments. Not what I expected as the biggest takeaway from my sermon.

Anyway, the sermon describes how we got here (Cleveland-ish) and what we're doing in terms of ministry in our town. In a pre-sermon interview (not recorded), I cleared up a couple misconceptions:

1.) The national Evangelical Free Church Planting (EFCA) branch has a saying: "All kinds of churches for all kinds of people."
2.) This means that the Free Church generally and Providence Church specifically supports this idea.
3.) Therefore, Jason and Janeen Oesterling (who preached at the church a couple years ago - I met him once) is planting one kind of church in Medina, Ohio, John and Kristine Meaux are planning to plant a church in the next year or so somewhere in the greater Cuyahoga county area, and Naomi and I have "landed" in our neighborhood to do Gospel ministry (more on that in the sermon or by perusing this blog).
4.) This clarification was necessary due to a.) plans changing and b.) people getting confused as to who was planting a church with who!

In any case, enjoy the semon, if you wish to do so.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tim Keller Gets It

For me to declare that isn't exactly humble.  It implies that I think I get it.  Anyway, read this and decide for yourself if you think he gets it.   

Created to Reproduce

The more I read Neil Cole's blog, the more I think maybe he actually trusts God.  Like in this post.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Simply Profound

Steve Timmis via Twitter:

"Radical mission strategy - groups of people, indwelt by HS, loving God passionately, others sacrificially, commending Christ in word & deed.  I suspect it's too simple to really work but we could take a risk and give it a go. What have we got to lose?"

I'm pleased to say that this might mean we have to stop asking the "but what abouts" and endless "strategy" and talk of "vision" (that amounts to nothing more than talking about the term "vision").

Monday, February 1, 2010

I Like this Guy

From what I've heard about him and read by him (having never met him), I like this guy's thinking.

Monday, January 4, 2010

House Groups vs. Missional Communities

Tim Chester describes the tendency (not the total reality) of house groups vs. missional communities here