Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Durangos and Christ: When Perspectives Collide

Last week my wife and I were in downtown Philadelphia. We were picking out foam for a mattress...sounds fun, right? I thought we should let Judah see historical Philly for the first time, so we made an afternoon of it. Amidst protests and countless tourists taking in the sites, this thought emerged...

"You know there are a lot of baby strollers around here today," I observed.

"Yeah, I noticed that too," replied Christianne.

"Hmm...you think its like that car thing...the second you buy a certain car you always see a different owner with the same exact model on the road..that you never would have noticed before," I contemplated.

"I think that's right," said Christianne.

What a valuable lesson in spirituality, understanding our nature, and being missional. Let me explain.

It was not until I had a baby and thus a stroller, that I noticed that tons of other people out there have babies and strollers. In the past, those people never would have gotten my attention. I would more or less be oblivious to there presence. Before I bought a Dodge Durango years ago, I said to myself...I want this car...not a lot of people have this type of SUV. Then I purchased one (which altogether is a whole different lesson on my spiritual walk), and all of the sudden my eyes were opened to how many other people had Durangos!! It blew my mind!!

The valuable spiritual lesson that this caters to is: worldview. One definition of worldview is:
the overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world. So, we all have this in our lives..our worldview...Previously, I had very little room in my worldview for babies...now, I have an abundance of room in my worldview for babies. When I walk into a room full of people, the first thing I will notice or pick up on is if there are any babies in the room. So, what I am projecting here is that are worldview is largely formulated around the current place life has us at, or current circumstances we are involved in. To understand this limitation, yes limitation, is key...and here is why.

I used an example of babies. Whether or not I notice babies isn't a life or death matter. However, there are things that demand to take up our worldview no matter what, and this is the spiritual application of all of this. I am not poor. I live in a home, have a TV, a car, etc. My worldview in and of itself, if taken strictly by the limitations of how I assumed worldview earlier (only care about it if the things is happening to you), does not allow me to pay much concern to the poor. If I am not poor, generally speaking, I will not think about or notice the poor. If I do not have a Durango, I will not think about or notice Durangos. This is HUGE! Because our worldviews govern the perspective of our lives. I would intentionally have to give energy to praying for the poor, acting on behalf of the poor, etc. if I am not living in poverty myself. Contrarily, if I lived in inner city Philly, had no car and had to travel by foot or bus, struggle month to month to make ends meet...all of the sudden I would be able to identify with the poor, and they would be intrinsically in my worldview.

And this is the challenge we have as Christians and as we think about living missionally. The good news is that we can overcome these worldview limitations by the "transformation and renewing of our minds", by "being conformed to His image". We can actually make a dramatic shift in our worldview by the power of the Holy Spirit in conforming us to Christ. We can now see the world how He sees it. And the beautiful part about it is that we have the inspired Word of God to inform and direct this process. Jesus has much to say about the poor. Therefore, as my worldview revolves around His life and teachings, I am no longer bound by the limitation of not caring or noticing the poor around me just because I happen to be middle class. This allows me to live missionally where I am now, even if I am not doing overseas ministry. My eyes can be opened up to see the beggar on the corner of my street, or the Palestinian family who has a home down the block..not just the family with a newborn.

So dear brethren, please catch the worldview of God. Of Jesus. In His worldview He noticed the poor, even though the riches of the world are His, He comforted the adulteress, even though He committed no sin, He welcomed the Gentile, even though He was a Jew, He healed the blind, even though He could see everything, He loved His enemies, even though they hated Him, He noticed and saved little ole me, even though I never noticed Him...Let the "overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world" be dictated by Christ. When this happens, when our worldview is lined up with Jesus, amazing things happen....

Monday, April 20, 2009

Crazy Love: Francis Chan

Some of you know that I was asked to write book/CD/DVD reviews for THEOOZE (http://www.theooze.com/), a web-based community that encourages the Church to engage our emerging culture by developing relationships and resources. I gladly accepted the invitation...

This is my first installment: Crazy Love: An Interactive DVD, by Francis Chan..

I must admit I was a bit skeptical when I started reviewing this interactive DVD. A huge fan and owner of all of Rob Bell’s NOOMA series, I immediately found myself comparing the two. I was pleasantly surprised as I made my way through the DVD to find that Chan’s presentation was unique and thought provoking in its own way….

Style and Format
First off, the DVD coincides with a book, and I believe in order to get thorough insight into his DVD, I strongly feel one must read the book with it. The DVD also has a very thoughtful flow from beginning to end, namely that Chapter 1 is set in the early morning and Chapter 10 concludes at night time as the lights go out. This is a distinct difference from Bell’s work, and I found myself drawn to the continuity (this isn’t a criticism of Bell). I still think Chan’s communication style is a lot like Bell, yet he lacked the ability to tug at my heart strings as much (this is not a criticism because in my mind Bell is one of the most effective communicators around).


I noticed at the beginning Chan seems to be dealing with our own one-on-one, personal relationship and walk with God. This laid a great foundation for the DVD as a whole. What I was especially impressed with was his ability to ask tough questions, forcing one to critically think about the answers. However, the brilliance wasn’t just the in questions, but that the questions were supposed to be addressed and answered in a communal context, thus enhancing vulnerability, transparency, and accountability. Brilliant and inspiring move by Chan.

Chan then seemed to move from our own personal, intimate walk with God and how that looks, to the out flowing of that walk into a missional lifestyle. This is where he really drew me in. He continued to ask tough questions, but this time to challenge the status quo of how Christians think and act. He really left me asking: am I really in love with Jesus; am I really obsessed with Him and His Kingdom; how does this look/not look right now in my life? He was very blunt that this was a focal point of the DVD. Again, the fact that these questions and challenges are supposed to be contemplated and answered in a communal setting adds to the immense value of the DVD.

I would recommend this DVD for a discipleship group, youth group, community group, etc. that is looking to be challenged and stretched on what their walk with God looks like and how they live out that walk in the world around them. If done properly, with the Holy Spirit working in individuals/community group willing to rethink their walk and apply the DVD in their practical lives, it could yield amazing results!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Reflections

Many of us celebrated Easter last week. Growing up, Easter was mainly about eggs, family, pastel colors, and candy. As I got older it became more about Jesus. When I began maturing as a Believer it became so much more...it also became more for me in 2009....

Ever since the Lord radically stepped into the chaos of my life in my mid-twenties, I have been drawn to Holy Week. However, my draw was not to Sunday, but Friday. The Passion movie only fueled the fire. Easter was nice, but I felt closer to God on Good Friday. Why is this? One thing I have found out is that I can more vividly picture Jesus' last week before His death, than His presence after the Resurrection. Of course, Scripture is filled with lots of stories about His life before His death, and very few after the Resurrection. I am sure this plays a part. I also feel that I moped around as a young Believer, focusing mainly on my depravity, guilt, shame, and sin...this somehow led me to associate easier with Jesus dying for all of that.

As the years have gone by in my faith journey I have had a new kind of aweness of Holy Week. Good Friday is still precious to me, but the Resurrection has been opened up to me as well. I believe this has happened as the Spirit has given me a greater balance of understanding the awesomeness of the Resurrection. How does this play out in my life? Although I am full of sin and desperately need Jesus to cleanse that through His blood, I am also now a child of God, a new creation, fully redeemed with new life because Jesus died AND rose again. I am also struck by the fact that the disciples were moping around after Jesus' death, wondering if they had made a mistake...until Jesus reappeared...and it was only after that reappearance that the world was set on fire...