Monday, October 31, 2005


Hebrews 10:
11Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Life For now

Scot Mcknight writes the following here:

Instead, I am suggesting that the language and rhetoric of the Final State is a clue to what life in this world is supposed to be like. Some, of course, might even deconstruct the language of Eternity as warrant for life in this world. I would not follow them “all the way down” (as Rorty would say), but I would say this: the vision of Eternity is not for the sake of curiosity but for the sake of transformation in this world.

Brian McLaren hints at similarar idea in The Story We Find Ourselves In. How well am I preparing for eternity? Am I, as Rob Bell would say, "making earth more like heaven"? I am prone to selfishness, I know that. I am hoping that a vision of eternity would not prompt me to be more selfish, but instead would prompt transformation.

Boston Bruins and the NHL

Well my boy Jurcina got in one game and didn't look too good. He hasn't gotten a chance since. Patrice Bergeron has been great. Thornton looked bad the first couple of games and then missed a few with a bad back. His play was much improved after sitting out. Overall, I like the "new" NHL. The games have a much better flow, though I'd like to see the body checking increase a bit, which it seems like it has.

The Bruins are 0-5-1 in their division. They need to tighten up defensively and they need to do better on the powerplay.


I took some youth and a couple leaders to climb a mountain this weekend. Monadnock mountain in Jaffrey, NH. We started the day by reflecting on the prominence of mountains in the Bible and how God often met people on mountains. (Moses, Elijah, transfiguration, not to mention Zion etc.) During the climb we read some Psalms. It was a small group but a good group. It brought back memories of my first year in youth ministry and reminded me of some of the things I love about youth ministry. It was cold, cloudy, windy and rainy at the top, but the kids were great. One girl was having a tough time, but made it, which was really cool. All in all, a good day.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Gospel

In Scot Mcknight’s recent blog he writes the following:

I have been impressed of late with this thought: how people define the gospel is determined by where they start or, even more interesting, where they end up. Put slightly differently, what is the problem being resolved by the gospel?

It is common to begin, rather abruptly, with the Fall and to see humans as sinners in need of forgiveness. I do not dispute either that we are sinners or that we all need forgiveness. Sometimes, so it seems to me, our sin is understood as little more than a legal standing or a judicial sentence against us, and that means that forgiveness follows in line: it, too, is understood as little more than a standing or judicially.
But, both of these problems — how we understand sin and how we understand forgiveness — are created by beginning at the wrong place.

Instead of beginning the gospel story with the Fall, I am suggesting we begin with the Creation of humans, both male and female, as Eikons of God. That is, as made in the image of God (imago Dei). The gospel begins, and only begins, because humans are Eikons of God.
Instead of seeing humans first and foremost as sinners, we need to see them as Eikons of God, created to relate to God, to relate to others, and to govern the world as Eikons. The Fall affects each of the previous: our relation to God, our relation to others, and our relation to the world. Humans, then, are cracked Eikons. There is all the difference in the world in depicting humans as simply sinners and seeing sinfulness as the condition and behavior of a cracked Eikon. Humans sin, but their sin is the sin of an Eikon. They can’t be defined by their sin until they are seen as Eikons.

The gospel, when it begins with Creation, is God’s work to restore and undo and recreate (whichever image you might prefer) what we were designed by God to be and to do. To begin here means the gospel is about restoring Eikons rather than just forgiving sinners. This gospel is bigger and it is bigger because the human condition is bigger than a Fallen condition.

I love what he's saying here and I think he's right on. This gives a much bigger picture of the good news and it also describes one of the real short-comings of Calvinism. Total depravity is where you start and that allows you to have a real "us versus them" mentality. There is nothing good outside of Christendom because anything outside of Christendom originates from fallen people, rather than people created in the image of God, cracked though they may be.

Let's take youth ministry for example now. What if kids began to see themselves primarily as image bearers and their focus was on becoming a more and more accurate reflection of He whose image they bear. How might this impact their decisions once they graduate? I think, I hope, it would impact them for the better. See this article for more.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Bart Campolo is Blogging

There are people in our lives who have a great impact on our journey. Bart Campolo is someone who had a tremendous impact on my life, and someone I respect and admire. He's blogging now, and his latest blog is a must read.

Many people know of Bart's dad, Tony. I had heard Tony speak a few times (and, of course, loved it) when I read that a 'Bart Campolo' would be speaking at chapel. (This was in late 1994 or early '95 at Gordon College.) "Hmm, maybe he's Tony's son. I'll have to make sure not to miss that one."

Around this time I had several conversations with my friend Jay from Newark. Jay grew up in Newark where his dad pastored a church. Jay is white and grew up in a poor, primarily black neighborhood. Jay told me a lot about life in that neighborhood and suggested I check out Boyz N the Hood, which, according to Jay, was a pretty accurate depiction of life in his city. When I watched the movie I remember praying, "I wish there was some way I could help." File that one in the "Be careful what you pray for department."

Fast forward a few weeks to chapel at Gordon College. Bart gives a brief advertisement for his ministry, Kigndomworks (now Mission Year.) In one of the few times I've been certain that God was speaking to me (not an audible voice, but a fairly audible voice in my head, and more than, "Hmm, I wonder if this is God or me?") God said, "There ya go." Naturally I responded, "Huh?"
"Well, you wanted to help in the city, there ya go."
"Wait a second, I meant like give some money or something. This, going and living, this is ridiculous. You really want me to go spend a summer in Philadelphia? No, this isn't for me. In fact, I don't think you're you, God. I think this is me trying to trick myself. So there! No, this thing is clearly not for me."

It was right about the time I finished that last sentence when Bart says, "We would especially love it if some of you guys would come. Every year we get plenty of women who want to come work with us, but we struggle like crazy for guys. And there's a lot boys in my neighborhoods that could use a good Christian guy to look up to."

God says, "See?"

I managed to keep my groaning silent. I was sunk and I knew it. Deep within me I knew there was no way around it. I was going to be in Philly that summer, and I was scared silly, to be honest. Bart goes on to give this great talk about Jonathan, Saul, ephods, pomegranate trees and Philistines (which was also a talk about fighting evil, especially in an inner-city neighborhood....hint, hint.) He invited anyone interested to grab an info sheet and write our info on a sign up sheet so he could send us more propaganda, I mean, information (his joke) so I did. In looking over the sheet, I found my out. "We don't accept halves of dating couples." "Hmm," I thought, "interesting rule. I can't get Katie to come with me since she's already signed up to go to Bolivia. I guess I was wrong, that wasn't God speaking to me. Woo-hoo!" Five days later I get an application in the mail with this little note: "Correction: We meant to say 'We don't accept both halves of dating couples.'" Doh!

So in the summer of 1995 I lived in a 3 room (4 if you count the enclosed back porch and 5 if you count the bathroom!) north central Philly row house with 7 other college aged folks. It was like The Real World but without the luxurious accommodations, cameras, and roommate selection designed to promote conflict. Together we ran a day camp at Church of the Advocate (Episcopal), taught Sunday school, and built relationships with our neighbors, focusing on the kids. The idea was to help the church so that when we left, the church could continue to carry on ministry that we started. I was blessed to be part of an awesome team that year.

That summer was the most important summer of my life. It was then that I knew that I wanted the direction of my life to be serving God, whatever that looked like. Prior to that there were competing visions, one with a tennis court in the back yard and a recording studio in the basement. Each week we would go downtown for chapel and Bart would preach. He came over for dinner a couple of times as well and we were a pretty dynamic paddle ball team during a weekend getaway to the Jersey shore. In our final meeting during Kingdomworks at our debriefing retreat, Bart asked me to describe my summer in one word. I said, "Significant." As for Bart, I really admired his passion and energy and love for Lord. I wanted to be like him really. Not be him, but be like him..passionate, inspiring, and helping young people follow Jesus. Over the years, we have kept in touch, mostly via email. We ran into each other at a Lost And Found concert several years ago in Long Island. As if Bart wasn't already cool enough, it turns out that Bart and I have a favorite band in common, and he is good friends with Michael and George. A couple of years ago, a student in my youth group, Brittany, did Mission Year. That was pretty cool.

Bart is blogging now and there have been some big changes in his life. You should add his blog to your list or regular reads. Oh and Bart, rock on, brother.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Good News?

There’s a church near me that runs a street hockey out-reach. It’s a pretty cool deal where you come and play at no cost, and midway through the night we gather for a short Bible message. I have been playing there for many years now and really enjoy the opportunity to get away, get some exercise, and most of all, play some hockey- even if it is only the street version. On occasion they have asked me to share during the “break” which I have done.

This week- and I don’t mean to be too critical here, especially of the guy who was sharing as he is a really nice, well meaning guy- but this week, I was really surprised at something he said. He grabbed an 8x11 sheet of paper and used a pen to put a dot on it. He said the paper is eternity, and thus the dot, if we could see it, represents our life when measured against eternity. “We spend so much time thinking about this life, which, if you think about it, is pretty stupid. The majority of our lives in eternity, happens after you die.” He then went on to ask if we knew where we were going when we die, and added, “Guys, I gotta tell you, the Bible talks a lot more about hell than this life.” Really?

Now granted, he’s giving a 5 minute presentation in the middle of a game. He’s not preaching a sermon. Maybe he mis-spoke. Maybe he meant to say “heaven.” (I did a very quick search…54 mentions of hell in the KJV…500+ of heaven, and I didn’t differentiate between the various words that are translated hell…sheoul, ghenna, etc.)
I suppose he could have an argument if he meant to say heaven, but even still, does the bible talk more about life after death than it does life? I just don’t see it.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard well meaning Christians say misleading or untrue things during this sharing time. One guy was speaking against Islam and said, “My God doesn’t tell us to kill others.” I know what he meant, but suppose one of the guys goes home and decides to dust off the old family bible and opens to say, Joshua?

I wouldn’t even write about this except for the timing of it. I had just finished speaking at a retreat and leading a couple of youth groups in a teaching about caring for our world, loving others and being good neighbors, rather than focusing on ourselves and our eternal destiny. (Of course I used Trees)I have also been preparing for a discussion of Brian McLaren’s A Generous Orthodoxy. His chapter, “Why I am Missional” directly addresses this very thing. He raises the question as to whether the good news is good news for the world or just some of us.

More later…maybe.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Loose Ends

I’m trying to tie together some things that I’ve been thinking about the last couple years or so. Here’s some of the thoughts, slightly condensed.

In one of his books, Robert Capon describes the church as being a sacrament, a sign, of grace. The church’s job is not to teach morality, but to proclaim the good news. He has been accused of being universalist, though he claims he is not. I believe he would affirm that God’s grace is for all people, but some will reject it. Capon doesn’t limit God’s grace other than to say that some simply refuse it.

I believe the good news is better than I believe it is and I believe God is bigger than I believe He is.

With regards to Calvinism and my walking away from that theological system…it seems to me that God’s original intention in election was to be a blessing to all people. In the Calvinist system that original intention is reversed and God’s ultimate blessing is reserved for only some.

I believe Jesus is who He says he is.

Okay, so more recently, I’ve been reading The Jesus Creed. In it Scot McKnight says that the Jesus creed is the Shema (redefined) and loving your neighbor as yourself. Jesus redefines loving “God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” as following Him. In other words, if we were to ask the question, “How do we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength?” Jesus would respond, “Follow me.” (Actually, he’d probably tell a story or ask a question in response, but we’ll stick with this for now.)

On October 2nd, Rob Bell preached a sermon in which he discussed (among other things) Jesus comment in the sermon on the mount where Jesus encourages His listeners to “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” There’s something about being the church- following Jesus- that leads others to praise God.

I want people to know Jesus, to love Him and follow Him. Yet I am weary of thinking of evangelism only in terms of converting people to Christ. By this I mean it seems that it is easy to think of evangelism only as getting others to think like us. It seems that the gospel is bigger than that and has to be bigger than that. Perhaps, crazy as it seems, loving and serving others is the best sort of evangelism there is.

Saturday, October 08, 2005


For the Red Sox another baseball season has ended. Jimbo sends the following. (Thanks Jimbo.)

The late, great Ken Coleman always ended the final game of the season on radio with a poem written by former Commissioner (and Red Sox fan), A. Bartlett Giamatti.

--The Green Fields of the Mind--
It breaks your heart. It was designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then, just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.

I believe Joe Castiglione has carried on the tradition to this day.

Jesus Creed

I'm reading Scot McKnight's The Jesus Creed these days. I'm not very far into it yet, but so I already like it. I'm hoping to write a few blogs about it in the coming days.

Check out Bonnie's thoughts on being relevant.

In the comments section she posts an interesting theory about goatees. She says in most cases a guy with a goatee is either a Christian or in IT. Is she on to something? It got me thinking about my goatee history. Being the fashion conscious guy that I am, the goat came about, of course, in a well planned out, carefully orchestrated way....that is to say, it was completely by accident. Or boredom.

It was 1993. The Bruins had just be eliminated from the playoffs by the Buffalo Sabres. (Was Moginly still with the Sabres then?) Anyway, I hadn't shaved in a week or so, and set about trimming before actually shaving. My electric trimmer was a piece of garbage and it hurt like crazy, so I decided to leave the goat since that would be less to shave. I figured Katie would hate it, but she liked it a lot. You remember that line in Pulp Fiction, "My girlfriend is a vegetarian, which, pretty much makes me a vegetarian too."? It was like that, my girlfriend liked my goat, which pretty much meant I liked it too.

I shaved it off a year later. I promptly grew it back, deciding to never do that again....shave it that is.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

My Little Rock-n-Roller

Patrice Bergeron

Last year as an 18 year old, Bergeron played and looked like a veteran for the Bruins. He is incredibly strong on his skates and when I visited training camp this year, I noticed he looks a bit bigger and stronger than last year. He flattened a couple of guys and had more than one d-man bounce off him. Check out the video section of TSN's NHL pages for the top 10 shootut goals scored in the preseaon to see two Bergeron gems.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Down Time?

I’ve been working on an M.Div for 10 years or so now. Yes, that’s a long time to finish a 4 year program, but I did take more than a few semesters off. On the one hand, I wish I had just gutted it out and finished the degree a few years ago, but on the other, I really appreciated the room I have given myself to focus on my studies and not neglect my job or my family and still have some down time, which is the topic for today’s little blog.

Last semester for my spiritual formation class, I focused on silence and solitude. Being the hard rockin’ guy that I am, (or perhaps just a little ADD) this is not easy for me. I have a difficult time being quiet, being alone, and engaging in practices like centering prayer. As difficult as these practices are for me, I find that they are necessary. Now you may feel that “necessary” is not the right word, after all, if I don’t do it all that often, how necessary can it be? Further, you could point out that after my class obligations of silence and solitude were fulfilled, my silence and solitude time became increasingly irregular and sporadic. You really could argue that it isn’t necessary. Make the argument if you want, but I will disagree.

I can go a long time without food, but eventually, if I don’t eat, I’ll die. This is true of all humans. Better still is to have a healthy, steady diet. Silence, solitude, and listening for the voice of God- unfortunately I can go a long time without these as well, but it will kill me eventually. Better still is a steady diet of each. I thought of that this weekend when I sat down to work on some blog ideas that I have and I just couldn’t do it. Too much noise in the brain and I again became aware of my oft-neglected need to slow down, to be still and know that He is God. That kind of down time has a strange way of lifting me up.