Saturday, December 30, 2006

set theory 301

Andrew Jones, the Tall Skinny Kiwi, has done it again. If you need to get up to speed on "set theory," start at this click. If not, check this out:





Sunday, December 17, 2006

But is it george harrison or keith richards at 2:22?

I have already blogged the lyric and some interpretation on the U2 song "Window in the Skies" song here)

but NOTHING has prepared us for the official video. ..
How many people can you name in it (and watch carefully, U2 ARE in it) "
If you need help, get in on the debate on who's who here

Have fun:

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Review: "Off-Road Disciplines"

" have never heard of Earl Creps? He is amazing!," one of my mentors gushed in astonishment.

"Tell me more, o Master.."

"Well, for one, he speaks on all the same issues you know, church and culture stuff. I think he even uses U2 clips like you do. Secondly, dude, he is YOUR AGE and a cool guy. I mean how many guys your age are cool?," he winked.

It turns out my mentor was right.

On all counts.


The catch is: this mentor of mine is younger (!) than me (and even younger than Earl Creps..turns out Earl is 53; I am a mere 47!). Mentor Kevin-- young, passionate church planter --is all of..34! What can I..seasoned and reasoned old man with a seminary master's degree; pastoring my third church (especially after becoming a bit famous and infamous in my second church), learn from such a young buck?

I have lost count of the ways.

But I didn't know what to call it (this process of learning from "the younger") until Earl Creps' new book, "Off-Road Disciplines: Spiritual Adventures of Missional Leaders" hit. Of course, a title like that would've enticed did the glowing blurbs by Leonard Sweet, Todd Hunter and Ed Stetzer (more cool guys "my age,") on the back cover...

...but my mentor's recommendation; that sold it.

It's "reverse mentoring."

One of the things I love about this book is, that in a non-cheesy way; eschewing the seduction of reduction(ism), Creps coins phrases that capture a category of reality that missional leaders must wrestle with: "sacred accidents," "situational geography," "tiempos mixtos" "orthodoxy creep" (no, it's not me!) . A key category throughout the book is "the sought,"
as alternative to what we have called "the lost." And the whole book is a huge and holy help in aiding old modern farts like me jack up their "get-it" factor regarding this "new species" of humanity that is the younger crowd: "homo postmodernus." (43)

Divided (united, actually) into six "personal disciplines" (personal transformation, sacred realism, "POV," reverse mentoring, and decreasing) and six "organizational disciplines (missional efficiency, blending differences, discernment, making room, surrendering and passing the baton), this book focuses on cultivating our being and identity; as opposed to knocking out "Twelve and a Half Easy Steps to a Porpoise-Driven, Seeker-Sensitive, Power-Point (I love Creps' three rules for his use of Power Point..but I beg you to buy the book to find them..on page 45) Sermon through Prayer and Bible Study.": Creps is not one to knock prayer and Bible fact, this books builds on those foundational "on-road-disciplines," and suggests that only through complentary "off-road" disciplines will they be "bolstered" in a way that is (as our church calls it ) "engaged to Jeus and engaging culture".

Indeed, "The only answer is found off-road." (53)

My friend, who is head of a vital ministry that counsels those wanting out of sex addiction, often says that any given time, the client's chair in his office is occupied by a tired saint who has been told by well-meaning pastors and leaders, "Just pray and read the Bible....and if that doesn't work...try harder." Earl Creps understands that "trying harder" is just trying...and harder. Especially in these changing days, only off-road disciplines; worked creatively into our on-road "prayer and Bible study" adventure as missional leaders will bolster us.

So I will center this review around one of those disciplines; highlighted in
Chapter Four: "reverse mentoring; " as it is arguably central to the book; but definitely to my learning curve on the off-road adventure.

"Reverse mentoring," then, is---and nearly every word here is loaded and leaded---:

"A very specific form of friendship in which the junior instructs the senior, not as a replacement for other forms of mentoring but as an essential complement to them." (42)

To the painful point:

"Do I possess the humility to accept instruction from a nine-year old?" (51)

Wait, a 34-year old is one thing, Earl, but continue...

"Jesus said that things hidden from the wise have been revealed to 'little children' and that entering the Kingdom requires becoimg like them. How many times have I missed the Kingdom because I insisted on being the adult in the relationship?"

Uh, Ouch.

And oh, thanks.

It could be that our church is perhaps a bit ahead of the curve on this one. In a mode that
is hopefully more "postmodern-sensitive" and interactive than the old wineskin "children's sermon, we
desire to give prophetic place...even preference.. to children. They sometimes lead the way, as we "interview them" about their Godlife; or have them walk through a picture they have drawn during the worship service. (But then we are often offroad enough to occasionally have "adults" lose their adulthood and construct collages in a church meeting..Yes, I mean in "the" Sunday morning service ; and not "in place of" the sermon; but as the sermon. Go figure. Pictures, and story of that zaniness here).
So at this point, I felt encouraged that we have been doing something right. But on a related point, Creps nailed me. I repent. And tell this story:
Recently, a single dad in our fellowship; a new attender, brought a teenage daughter...maybe a "sought one," as Creps would have it. After the gathering, someone told me how glad they were that she ...a real live "homo postmodernus had come, but asked if I had noticed that throughout the service..even during the preached messsage, she was apparently text-messaging someone on her cell phone.
That's odd, I thought. I congratulated myself and this other saint that we had not fallen into an "old whineskin" response of judging her for "not paying attention (passively, as Jesus of course wants it) during the (holy)sermon/lecture" ...we just though it odd; but a sign of the times. And yes, a bit disrepectful.
I repent.
I just learned from my (elder) mentor, Earl Crepps, that I might just literally post in the back of the church for me to remember:
"If they are not texting, they are not listening."
That line was worth the price of the book; though it almost lost/cost me.
"As a result, when speaking to millenial audiences, I now request that they text at least one time during my presentaton, asking only that the message pertain to our subject in some way." (48)
Now, it may well be wishful /wistful thinking to assume that this young gal's text message was "Hey julie, i m visiting this kool chrch..its gr8..the pastor is way cool..4 his"( or ideally, "jules..i am listening to a kool sermon on 4givness, & i realized i may have not 4given u...")and not: "hi dad made me come 2 church..this sux.."
Creps elsewhere notes that in the seminary classes he teaches:
"I encourage every class particpant to be online at all times" (148)
The author backs up that hardwon thesis with a moving and must-read story(183) , including transcript of an email that a student of his received from his son...during class..yes, related to the topic.
This sheds new light on the old-school teacher's sarcastic and shaming line upon "catching" someone passing a note in class: "Can that be shared with the whole class?"
Perhaps nowadays, the question is inflected with on-tiptoe hopefulness; and the expected answer is "Of course!"
How many of us--in a public place-- have been annoyed by overhearing someone's cell phone conversation; or having a stranger overhear..even comment on..our "private" cell phone conversation? Instead of griping about the evil postmodern shift that allows at celebratiung and expoliting the good news of that irreversible shift.
Crepps gives account of learning this, from "reverse mentors," and, in a memorable vignette, in an airport.
I realized as I read, that though I have not made official what I recently did by default: allowing (even requiring?) text-messaging "in church. And I have already (even pre-Creps) made the leap to allowing (bordering on requiring) that cell phones be left ON during worship...because as I sometimes announce with a smile : "We might get a phone call from God; and we don't want to miss that!" (Ironically this paradigm shift happened in me after reading the exact same book (Doug Pagitt's challenging "Preaching Reimnagined") thjat Eral Creps was reading in the airport the day he received his wake-up/shake-up call regarding cell phone culture).
In God'subiquitous humor and eccentric economy, one Sunday, as I was "leading in prayer"; my cell phone rang. Actually, it vibrated (it was in my pre-enlightened days as a pre-postmodernie)..I only later played the message; it was my bank letting me know my account was in danger of being overdwawn! Glad I didn't take that call in church(:
Or perhaps it would have been a huge God-moment for the whole flock!
But more recently a first time attender apologized when his cell phone rang during announcement time. We were able to laugh and say "Well, actually that is not against the rules here..we actually encourage it.. Go ahead and get it; it might be a call from God. "
It was.

Shocked but relieved at our unorthodox but technology-freindly church ettiquette, he excused hismelf and took the call. As a result we were able to a group.. for this "sought one"'s father, as he was rushed into emergency surgery.
These lessons about technology shift all trace back to reverse mentoring. Crepps gives numerous accolades to younger folk from the emrging trible who have explained the culture (even "language") of newer technology. I guess my only regret about Crep's book is I would love to hear more on this. Im particular, because he is from a Pentecostal stream with openness to prophesy among the Body, what would he say about what I have called "open-source Wiki-church"? What would he say about our common mentor Bono, who has moved into pomo text-messaging?
I guess the other place I wanted more was to hear him say clearly what he has implied: ideally we shouldn't call it "reverse mentoring," as that still implies the "other way" (Top-down) is "forward" and thus the correct way. When I teach my class on cross-cultural communication for leaders, I love to start with: "Fill in the blank with the first thing that comes to your mind regrading these two questions: 'In England, they drive on the ____ side of the road.' and 'The direction of the Hebrew language script, compared to our English left-to-right flow, is ____."
You may have guessed that "wrong" is the wrong first answer; and "backwards" is the wrong second answer. Those choices still assume an ethnocentric, starting with-and compared to-me ethnocentrism/imperialism. In England, the left side is the right side. Hebrew language is forwards as it flows right to left.
These cultures do not see themselves as wrong and backwards.
I know Creps would agree..he speaks of "reciprocity" (51) and longs for the day when so-called reverse-mentoring will become normative and formative for Chrisleaders. Once, I stopped myself from introducing my young friend as "someone I am mentoring,"...or more appropriately, "someone who is mentoring me." I instead, with a quick grasp at the right words said "We have a symbiotic, mutual-mentoring thing going on."
Needless to say, I love the book. No weaknesses to name so far; only the aforementioned places I wanted to hear more. Hey, I would love to know if he has taught on "bounded, centered and fuzzy sets,"( read more about them, and see some at this link) and I will do my best to talking him into including such in his next book.
A professor once taught me that a book...and thus a book woefully incomplete and basically useless unless the reader can grab a baton and cite an "action point; " a lesson learned from the book that one is at least experimenting with; and at best incarnating and making pratical by taking it to heart, and to the streets...
Here's mine. Since our congregation is now meeting in a room next to the Babylon Nightclub (literally!), I might as well get real about touching the offroad real world!
Keep me accountable.
This is my action point. It's way off the beaten road for me; but a discipline I dare to believe is God-ordained for me.
And in the league and lineage of Ole Anthony's "Truths I Never Learned in Church, " it's something I never learned in seminary..
I vow to move towards doing some...most...okay, all??!! "sermon preparation" in a "secular arena."

Did I just lose my seminary degree? Or at least my salvation?
Actually, I went to a really cool seminary that might even amen this...especially certain professors.
Being an older, modernity-groomed Boomer; but one who passes much of the hilarious " You may be emerging if ..." test here; but still a 47 year old white guy with a wannabe goatee..making me an emerging church wannabe....
I have tended to view "sermon preparation" as something to be "done" in the prayer closet, ivory tower, pastor's study. I have baptized this idolatry with my Myers-Briggs introversion preference; and spiritualized it with sanction by all the right mentors (but not of the "reverse" tribe)..
In recent years, as an increasing number of my younger...or even "my age"... pastor friends have made the coffee shop a sermon-prep place; I have been befuddled. How do they do it? Are they just extroverts? Caffeine addicts? Multitaskers? And what about all thse interruptions..
..that are not interruptions at all!
When I grow up, I want

to be more like Earl Crepps:
"Over time, drinking coffee and writing sermons in the presence of the sought cultivated changes in my approach without ever involving a conscious decision....I blame Bob and Ran (his reverse mentors). Under the influence of their friendship, drinking coffee with the sought became almost sacramental., convincing me that (emphasis mine) sermons sbould be composed only among them. (69)

Earth to Earl!
Pastors study? Seminary library?
Dang, he's right. He's on Earth.
Excuse me, I think I am now on the way there; to St. Arbucks.
And on the way to an off-road way.
I will likely run into way of 'sacred accident, " my trusted "reverse" mentor (the one who introduced me to Earl Creps material, thnk God..I think!).....and more importantly; the sought...
..who can and must mentor me as well.
I have recently been calling myself a "goatherder," that is, a pastor-type for non-Christians (pre-Christians? seekers? No, the beloved "sought". But so far the only sign this is my calling is to goats is my goatee (Earl's is cooler). The true sign is where I spend my time..and my preparation.
I need help and healing to be found "arranging my life so God gets the chance to take the initiative. This means spending time in places where God is very active,..'
How would you finish that quote; where is God particularly"very active"? I hope just as St. Earl does:
",,,in other words, among the sought whom God loves so much." (186)
So, here I go: goatee trimmed; computer in tow, and on my way to a latte..
To paraphrase Willie Nelson, "Off the road again..."
There I'll be able to tell my (reverse) mentor (who actually reverse-mentored me into getting a myspace...even before Earl Creps got one!)
"Dude, you were right...again.. this time about Earl Creps."
Who I trust would be glad if, though we gleaned from his book, forgot his name and fame; and got to the adventure of seeking the sought...
...which means I can end this review, with the same words and spirit that "Off Road Disciplines" (nearly! last paragraph) ends with; an evidence that I am finally as an old dude, getting missional; getting to the mission of the Great Commission:
"I'm outta here."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

genuflection to academia and thus a theatre of morality

(The Church of Ireland) is so beholden to the Enlightenment, to the mores of modernity, and so in genuflection to academia, that the Church is suspicious of faith in any experiential sense, and has become a theatre of morality ...(15)

I think I understood grace instinctively before I did intellectually...A MOTHER'S UNCONDITIONAL LOVE--AGAPE-- leads to grace. Without it, religion would suffocate because it creates an impossible standard.. (18)..(I prefer) Christ's attempt to bring you out of religiosity to an impossible standared one can't reach without grace...Grace is the reason I have kids. Grace is the reaason I'm here (21)

Bono in "The God Factor" by Cathleen Falsani

Monday, December 11, 2006

All the Jesus clips in one place...enjoy

The response has been wonderful to the famous dubbed clips of old Jesus movies we have been showing for worship. I have posted some of these before; but because so many are asking, I'll post them all here.

(If I have to explain that these are satrical, have profound prophetic messages to the church, and folks shouldn't be offended by them, you are probably on the way wrong website):

The first are from, are are usually oranized by "Jesus Video 1", 2, 3 or 4 (these are all on one page on youtube here):

Jesus Video 1: Jesus doesn't have time for Peter

Jesus Video 2: Jesus gives rules for First Christian Church, and confronts a follower for missing prayer meeting for the Super Bowl:

Jesus video 3: Jesus tells all the disciples what they have recently done wrong:

Jesus Video 4: Jesus rides on a donkey, cleanses the temple,and steals money from Pharisees:

Here are the clips from Elevation Church; usually in a series called "Misconceptions of Jesus" (these are all on youtube here)

Misconceptions of Jesus 1: Jesus Club-Jesus Loves Righteous People:

Misconceptions of Jesus 2: Jesus Loves Red States:

Misconceptions of Jesus 3: Jesus Sells Insurance:

Sunday, December 10, 2006


If you don't know about

a)The Irish band The Frames, especially the masterpiece song "Fitzcarraldo"

b) The German director Warner Herzog, especially the masterpeice (? I haven't seen it...some call it that...some call it nuts) film "Fitzcarraldo"...

...Learn more about the amazing Frames at their Myspace site or YouTube Steve Stockman, Irish pastor and author of "Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2," interviews lead singer Glen Hansard here.

...Lear more about the film here. The Frames wrote the song about the character in the movie, who was so intent and obsessed with his dream to introduce Peruvian Indians to his passion (opera music!) that he did whatever it took to recah the remote tribe...including pulling a ship over a mountain (!!).

Well, lots of stuff will preach from the film: faithfulness to the vision, Quixotic quest or faithful to the call, etc. The irony is Herzog's crazy quest to complete the film was crazed and intense he says a Latin American priest (filmed on location) urged him to include prostitutes as part of the movie's production crew so the the male actors wouldn't go crazy in the jungle!!)


Back to the Frames song:

Hansard is very intruiging spiritually, he has Christian background and is God-hanuted, In one of my favorite chilling live versions of "Fitzcarraldo, " he strikes me as a great pastor. He introduces the song with "...because all of us sometimes feel like we're pulling ships up mountains..."

Check out the song...lyrics... a small audip sample here..keep seraching, or buy it..

Saturday, December 09, 2006

messianic software and apocalyptic fixes

"A song, an act of rebellion, a piece of messianic software: all kinds of weird and wonderful memes and metamememes are fighting for our imaginations, and pull us out of the apocalyptic fix we're in. So here's the question we're asking for 2007:

Can a global network of culture jammers and creatives--a tribe of fired-up meme-warriors launch a tsunami of cognitive dissonance to wake humanity up?"

-Adbusters, p. 8, Jan/Feb 2007

I have not read a more articulate and loaded depiction of our cultural situation, and the church's challenge in the midst of it! I just wish the words were written by a Christian (they may well have been, but Adbusters is not a Christian magazine....though former editor of this magazine has now launched how own similar 'zine: to the church.

Either way, a word to the church!

See this post for more:

"GEEZ:adbusters, culture jamming, holy fools"

Friday, December 08, 2006

the Devil is God's Devil

the devil is God's devil..
excerpt from
this rant
just in time for my Christmas message, based on the classic Ray Van Der Laan "In the Shadow of Herod" video we'll show..
I occasionally enjoy playing devil's (uh, I should say "angel's") advocate when I preach and teach. I often ask a group "shock-value" questions as a wake-up and shake-up call to the necessity and validity of the vertiginous (yes, it's a word!) encounter; the test of temptation. In light of the fact that "sometimes we can't make it on our own, " and need to go with Jesus to hear, and experience, a challenging and dizzying "Sermon Way Up the Mount," disciples need to remember to remember that in those disequilibrating times when elevation gives birth to vertigo, let the Spirit be midwife, and what will mercifully be born again and again in you is untold freedom and hilarious strengthening. Here, then is the first question I might cast out: "How many ever pray the Lord's Prayer, including the line 'Lead us not into temptation?'"

And since all answers are a nodding "yes and amen," the subsequent question has earned a hearing: "Would, or could, GOD ever lead anyone, then, into temptation?; especially since we have been taught by Jesus Himself to pray it would never happen?" Since most have detected that, by my mischevious inflection and sly smile the expected right answer is "Of course!," it's an appropriate time to take holy advantage of the stunned to silence room and have them turn from their shock to either Matthew 4:1 or Luke 4:1. Either verse reads right on the lines that "God, the Holy Spirit" is without apology recognized; indicted as the Agent leading someone into a very real and literally demonic temptation. And just who that Someone is, is telling and is troublesome: "Then the Holy Spirit lead Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." Granted, and important to highlight: God does not do the tempting; the tempter is clearly the devil, but in God's stunning sovereignty, he has personally arranged the time and place of the temptation; He Himself has set the boundaries and parameters of the boxing ring; He himself is out in front ushering Jesus..and often us..right into a head-on . What in heaven's name and hell's court is going on?


"The devil is God's devil!," a much better theologian than me, but one also famous/infamous for "shock value sound bytes" quipped a few hundred years ago. By that biting byte, Martin Luther has not more than he could chew in, mouth. He meant simply that God is so supernaturally and sovereignly 'in charge' that he is even in charge of, Superintendent of; in fact he created, "Ol' Scratch."..Satan himself. Which is why the Spirit can risk, allow, even set-up our wilderness temptations with Satan. He can trust, that like Jesus, who "at the end of this satanic temptation, came out of the wilderness stronger and more full of the power of the Spirit, and more prepared to minister than ever, " (Luke 4:13-14). We who follow in the footsteps of Christ, even and especially when they lead to the devil's door, we pass the test! And the joke is on the dumb devil, Ol Scratch scratching his damned head as we..the eternally undamned and newly undammed…come out stronger in Spirit. And if Romans 8:28's al- inclusive sweeping claim that "God works all things together for good for those who love God, and are the called according to his purpose" is taken at face and faith value, that "all things" includes "all" all things, including satanic temptation, and Satan himself. With that Romans verse in mind, a more modern theologian, one who is in league with Luther (and U2) in that she was also earthy in a heavenly way, one tested and tempted in the evil vileness and extreme vertigo of Ravenbsruck concentration camp, one Corrie Ten Boom, offered this prescription, "When the devil sticks his gun of accusation or condemnation in your face, just stuff Romans 8:28 in the barrel of that gun, and turn things around by stuffing it back in his face."


Let's take the test. Only two possible answers for each question below: A)God or B)Devil. Choose only one each time. Sounds easy, so take the test, without looking up the accompanying Scriptures until you have turned in your exam. (Number two pencil only, please):

1.)Who sent an evil spirit to terrorize Saul? (1 Sam. 16:14; 18:10)
2.)Who sent a deceiving and lying spirit? (1 Kings 22:22)
3)Who authorizes satanic harassment of Job (Job 1:12)
4)Who can destroy both body and soul in hell? (Matthew 10:28)
5)Who sent a deceiving influence, so that wicked people are damned? (2 Thess. 2:11)

How did you do? Isn't it obvious that the only correct answer to each of the above is..God!?
Huh? Is that the good news or the bad news, you ask? Whose side are you on, anyway? Cool down, mama! Now you can look up the Scriptures, and triple check that I am not just making this up, or nuts. I think the lesson, though so much more should be said to be sure our theology is biblical and balanced, is: God is so sovereign that he uses..and even though we are not as comfortable as these Scriptures sometimes are in saying so, He is some sense "sends"…. evil, and wrings good purposes out of them. He is not evil, nor the author of evil; and does not enjoy our suffering and evil; he does not want AIDS, cancer, rape, slavery, etc…...but the devil is God's devil. God is either good and sovereign or not. These Scriptures, stretching and shocking as they are, actually steer us towards his radical "in charge-ness," He is ridiculously sovereign. The devil is active, but he is on a leash…a long one, granted..but God's grabbing the other end.
OK, four more questions. Ready? Of course not! Same two possible answers, God or the devil, for these below:

1)Who sees to it that a sinner is saved? (1 Cor. 5:5)
2)Who is the god of this world? (2 Cor 4:4)
3)Who helps keep Paul humble? (2 Cor, 12:7)
4)Who teaches Paul not to blaspheme? (1 Tim 1:20)

All done? You got an "A" of course, if every answer above is, as verified by the verses, .the devil! Don't get me wrong, the devil ain't good, but he works for God at the end of the day. Church folks don't get this. Bono gets it. As much as he hates, and campaigns against the devil's evil (and he and we should) …God uses evil. He wins. Satan is trumped and checkmated in the End. This is the full-orbed gospel.
Yes, these are the other shocking questions I love to ask at church gatherings. Did they work?


"This generation will be remembered for three things: the Internet, the war on terror, and how we let an entire continent go up in flames while we stood around with watering cans. Or not," Bono preached to evangelical congregations on his Africa awareness tour, hoping for crumbs from our generous spread and table. "Let me share with you a conviction," he often challenged a hushed church, " God is on his knees to the church on this one. God Almighty is on his knees to us, begging us to turn around the super tanker of indifference on the subject of AIDS."

He is right. Even though we can lean back on the lavish and wild sovereignty of God to work good out of evil, nowhere does that justify us doing nothing so that evil (temporarily) prevails because we know that it will (at the End) be vanquished. And there is enough evil and suffering in the world..and in us; we don't need to ask for any additional of either, even if we know they force us to grow....


C. S. Lewis, as previously mentioned, is such a lamppost...
Lewis was at his best at reminding us of eveything we should've known: there are not two gods, God and the devil, who have always existed and are opposites in the all-American "good guy, bad guy" scenario. This ridiculous theology, though, is often our default, unconscious understanding. Many evangelicals will actually suggest that the devil has always existed, and always been bad; forgetting that "Evil is only fallen good," and God made Lucifer; made him good; he simply chose to fall and attempt to claim God's throne.

That is Christianity; the "good and bad eternal opposite" jive is dualism, related to the hell of extreme Hellenism. But the radical monotheism of Christianity, by design is a one-God deal; and He so big that the buck stops with Him, meaning laments like "Jesus.. I know You're looking out for us..but "sometimes Your hands aren't free?" are doubts cased in honest faith, which can stand up in Gethsemane, Vertigo or hell-on-earth

"The Truth Isn't Sexy"

 The Truth Isn't Sexy
My first thought on seeing this "Yeah, it is!".

But that's another blog post.

Click the banner for a worthy cause...

(it should take you to www.thetruthuisn'

Thursday, December 07, 2006

U2's Streets..over the years

I so often use these clips of U2's "Where The Streets Have No Name," that I decided to put 'em all in one convenient place...for my sake, and for those who've asked. It is many folk's vote for most chilling God-song. It flexes a bit each tour, but as the boys have said it is the one song that always "achieves liftoff" or "allows God to walk through the room."

Some of the versions available:

Shooting the video in downtown L.A. Typical madness on top of a liquor store, where the streets have names (7th and Main):

From Rattle n Hum movie:

Mexico City, 1997..starts with Bono on his knees in prayer...will he make his cue?:

Last night of POP Tour, 1997, Johannesburg:

New Years , Midnight, 1989/90:

Boston, 2001, braodcast live as halftime of NBA Playoffs! ..starts with a congregant's hand raised in worship, followed by Bono praying from Psalm 116: "What can I give back to God for the blessings that he has poured out on me? I'll lift high the cup of salvation. A toast to God.. I pray in the name of God, I'll complete what I promised God I'll do. And I'll do it together with his people." Bono completely lost in worship at 4:22 as he (as my son says) "starts flying":

Slane Csste, 2001: Wow.
Many have asked to see this clip below; having heard me teach on it. The set up:

How about this amazing live version of U2 doing "Where The Streets Have No Name" only days after Bono's father died ("It was his send-off") you have the

incredibly emotional prayer/death wail/tongues leading into outright worship-in/midst-of grief including an old-fashioned "glory run"...and that all in the first minute and half before the song "starts"! (read about this phenomenon in the aricle and comments here)....Then at the close of the song, "like the heavens have opened..Bono appears to be actually experiencing the beatific vision at stage right" (Beth Maynard,p.120, "Get Up Off Your Knees: Preaching the U2 Catalog")...."Note how the band behaves at curtain call moment at the end (p. 180)." What is drummer Larry looking at, Who is Bono applauding? Why can't guitarrist The Edge keep his eyes open? (from 5:01 till the end).Watch the clip already:

(of course, U2 are no strangers to a theology of "death and Jesus" THIS for my teaching on all that)

Super Bowl, 2002 Halftime...What can be said? On the heels of 911, Pastor Bono is allowed to speak/prophesy over's way better than that other famous Super Bowl halftime musical wardrobe malfunction, but a different Psalm prayed (twice) than usual: Psalm 51:5: "Oh Lord, open Thou my lips, that my mouth may show forth Thy praise." :

Chicago, 2005,,,starts w/spiritual warfare for Africa...connecting the principalities with US African connections:

Brazil, 2006: localizes the prayer to Latin American nations:


Amen, Kev

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Jon Piper is bad

John Piper is bad:

Extended version with Piper commentary:

Dare you to climb...better yet, ride a the top of the Andes

I am missing Peru today.

Some of you reading this will know that ache by this time next year.

Someday (manana) I will figure out how to transfer some digital photos from my movie camera; but in the meantime this page will be full of borrowed and stolen photos.

But today I get to fill the ache, and God-shaped hole..with a few pix and links to sign up a few of you for that ache. Come with us next year.

How did I ever wind up here (third from left below, next to Jesus...uh, Pastor Jesus) on top of the Andes, where many gringos croak due to lack of oxygen?:

I mean, the view from 17,000 feet from the lake at Mt Huaytapallana is fabulous, as you can see ..

...But to find out how I got coaxed up there (not knowing we would watch some of these glaciers suddenly melt into avalanches before our eyes...uh, due to prayer!?) is another story (read it and weep here)...

I mean the trip from Lima to Hunacayo was "interesting" enough..
Only 120 miles..but there is a reason it can take 8 hours! Read about that wild ride here (see the section delicately titled "Elevated Vetigo makes me sick") and catch a view or three of it below..

The bus route passes and parallels (as if that word ever applies to these winding roads!) the highest railroad bridge in the world ..

But it's worth it to arrive at our beautiful "home" in Peru, the mountain valley city of Huancayo...11,000 feet and 500,000 beaufiful people:

Some of the beautiful people include these four (two of which are the adopted daughters of our church members (and current missionaries in Huancayo) Ken and Cathie Metz. Can you guess which are Gabby and Sheyla?:

And if you don't fall in love with our ministry team there (jazzed to Jesus here below about the new truck some of you reading were able to buy them):

...And if you are umoved by the kids of Huancayo: may be beyond hope!

Besides, St. Christina and the others who venture on the next trip there will want to meet St. Hector, pictured below. How many ex-Satanists do you know. Read his amazing story here, and participate in the sequel next year (Leave me a comment to reserve a spot)

Monday, December 04, 2006

postmodern phone call from hell

For a song that is "supposed to be" about "a guy making a phone call from hell...but he admits he likes it there," (Bono's usual spin); the classic U2 piece "The Fly" sure works on multiple levels.

For such a mysterious and multiplex song; which teases a lot about what "the secret" is...the secret is pretty open on the recent tour:

And it is, in recent incarnation, not just/anymore a "phone call from hell," but also/instead a "text message from heaven." But like many words from God, there a few places where God doesn't spell out the whole revelation...we get to, by faith and guesswork, piece together the message.

What do I mean?

What does this text, prohected as a backdrop to THE FLY mean?


I _____ my friend
she always _____
it never really _____
What is the _____
Why do you _____
You fill in the gaps
You are the difference

You need to watch the amazing video below. But for context..

As she often does, Beth Maynard offers hugely helpful insights on the most recent concert version. Please preview her 3-part series on the song here, here, and here...with the third post full of good stuff on the intent behind the "text message" version you can watch here.

The video version I have chose in extra intriguing; as it was filmed in Brazil, and incudes some of the "fill in the blank" projections in Portuguese...

Clip of English version:

The secret is BEHIND YOU
The secret is INVISIBLE NOW
The secret is LOUD ENOUGH
THE SECRET IS WHAT YOU never want to see/never want to hear/never want to believe

Click this

Thursday, November 30, 2006

"Hide the Beer, the Pastor's Here"...tons of great church and beer articles

Did Jesus endure the cross just to keep us in line?

"Just to keep people in line, we build our own Christian civilization and then demand that everyone who believes in Jesus become a good citizen. It's hard to imagine that Jesus would endure the agony of the Cross just to keep us in line. .."

Erwin McManus, context and comments here.

See also, Did Jesus Come Just to Kick Your Ass?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

interviews w/Wolfgang Simson and others re: simple church

Video...interviews w/Wolfgang Simson and others re: simple church/organic church:

Menopausal Death Crone; "Jesus went off and had a few beers and then went bowling"

From "Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith" by  Anne Lamott:

The day after Sam turned thirteen, we were going through our usual hormonal transformations together, which is to say, sometimes the house gets crowded. There was Sam at thirteen-usually mellow, funny, slightly nuts. But when the plates of the earth shifted, there was the Visitor, the Other. I called him Phil. Phil was tense. Also sullen and contemptuous. There was me at forty-eight-usually mellow, funny, and slightly nuts-and there was the Menopausal Death Crone.
Some days were great, because Sam and I at these ages were wild and hilarious and utterly full of our best stuff; but other days, when Phil and the Death Crone dropped by, were awful. We sniggered impatiently, and sighed and gripped our foreheads, and we fought. We fought mostly about homework and church, neither of which works for Sam-but then again, neither does flossing. It's hard for him to sit still for school and church when he'd rather be hanging out with friends or playing at the computer, and I hate to make him sit still, because I want him to be happy and to find an authentic spirituality, and because his resistance pollutes my home and my worship.

The usual things helped: some distance, prayer, chocolate. Talking to the parents of older kids was helpful for me, since parents of kids the same age as yours won't admit how horrible their children are. There's a great book on adolescence that I can turn to, Get out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall? by Anthony Wolf. I taped things to the wall that give me some light to see by. One pink card says, "Breathe, Pray, Be kind, Stop grabbing." Another card says something I heard recently, that you can either practice being right or practice being kind. Screaming in the car helped.

But what helped most of all was walking. I had been going up on Mount Tamalpais to walk and be quiet and pray nearly every morning for years. I started to do this because I had heard that Jesus did so, although my friend Father Tom recently clarified this. He said that we are not sure whether Jesus actually did this; people had to explain Jesus' absence by saying he was going up to the mountain to pray, but for all we know, he went off and had a few beers. Then he may have gone bowling, slinging the ball bitterly down the alley until he felt better.  link

Today's Devotional From a Serrated Skylark

Douglas Wilson, who penned the other immortal words:
.. one edifying thought experiment (there are many such) consists of William Tyndale paying a tumultuous visit to Tyndale House, publishers of the inane Left Behind series. One pictures broken windows, crying secretaries, sirens, a major scene, an arrest, and a board meeting the next day with the suits and haircuts trying to decide if they should press charges against this very troubled man. At the end they decide to just make him pay for the damage he did to the sign out front -- the sign that had his name on it. This is an obvious point, but a certain kind of mind still misses it. This is because a certain kind of mind couldn't hit a bull on the ass with a banjo"
(A Serrated Edge, p. 40, Douglas Wilson)

is behind today's "devotional":


Their Bibles are more underlined than other people's. They showboat their way up to the stage where the pulpit used to be....And they like being called doctor

...they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi.'

8"But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ.[b] 11The greatest among you will be your servant. 12For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Matt 23:7-12

In the old days, this had to be accompished by means of respectful titles like "Rev." But nowadays, in these egalitarian times, the attitude of spiritual conceit has had to be a a little more creative,a nd a pastor shows his prowess in humility by asking people to call him "Joe". Behind the scenes, he is a fierce, hard-driving CEO,and reads those CEO magazines, and acts like a CEO on airplanes, right down to ogling the flight attendand in first class. But out in front of the congregation, sitrting on that stool, fitted out in a Mr. Rogers cardigan, he is open, transparent,and shares the
s truggles of his heart--the struggels ofa simple guy...named Joe. He is about as deep as a wet spot on the pavement.

-Douglas Wlison,
A Serrated Edge: A Brief Defense of Biblical Satire and Trinitarian Skylarking...p. 36

5Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. 6They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, 7preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called "Doctor' and "Reverend.'

8"Don't let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. 9Don't set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of "Father'; you have only one Father, and he's in heaven. 10And don't let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them--Christ.

11"Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. 12If you puff yourself up, you'll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you're content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

Matt 23, The Message

Erratic, full of crap saints whose lives are a mess...uh, thanks to Jesus

Try these reads:
Demos Shakarian: Jesus has messed up my life every day since I have known Him

Bruce Cockburn: I became a Christian, and my marriage fell apart

"Real Christianity is messy, erratic, lopsided and liberating"
-Messy Spirituality, Yaconelli

"In fact, we should change the passing of the peace from “Peace be with you” to “You’re full of crap and so am I.” Mike Yaconelli once said that church should be a place where we look at each other and say, “What are you doing here?”"
-S Simpson

Monday, November 27, 2006

Mary Rocks!

Every year, about this time, I love preaching on Mary...(and I am a Protestant!..(:

...or am I? Maybe I used to be!..I'm not Roman Catholic, but how important are categories like Protest-ant any more? And what am I/are we now, anyway: emerging, misisonal, ?? Post-Protestant...pre-Christian...whatever!) It began years ago with Jack Hayford's little book "The Mary Miracle" (reisssued as The Christmas Miracle, no doubt because someone feared the title sounded too 'Cathlolic'!!)). In Paraguay in 1998, I risked preaching a sermon in Spanish about how we are all to become spiritually "pregnant" like Mary... (Just imagine how that might have come across..."Come to the altar and get pregnant"..!)

Can't wait to

hear how
I preach it this year(: ...

especially in light of the Nativity movie, and the Scot McKnight book..)

It is tempting to preach something like this..

The point?

"Mary is, to that extent, the supreme example of what always happens when God is at work by grace through human beings. God's power from outside, and the indwelling Spirit within, together result in things being done which would have been unthinkable any other way."

-NT Wright, Luke for Everyone , p. 11.

Come to the altar and get pregnant.

no membership, no dues, just passion & giveaways...sounds like church to me!

My friend SQ...who reads here.. sent me a link to a community he belongs to called SHIFT.

I love the name...Quotes below from their website.

.. fill in each blank with the word "Jesus" or "Christian(ity)" and see how cool and appropriate it sounds. Then click the link at bottom to see what the real missing word is; and then ask what we as church can learn..


SHIFT revels in expressing Portland’s creative ___ culture through events and
___ fun intended to highlight the positive contributions of ____for the
community at large.

As a loose-knit and informal bunch of ____-loving
folks, we ask for no membership, nor dues, only a shared passion for the ____ in
all (his) glory...... as a tool for social

SHIFT, then, is open to everyone sharing in this passion.

And where would the fun be if we weren't at least semi-organized?!
Yes, SHIFT folks do plan, execute, publicize, and get involved in the
celebration of ____ events. We hope you'll be inspired to join in on the ___ fun

Our Activities:

SHIFT also
organizes events of our own. Examples of SHIFT-led activities include coffee
give-ways, socialsl, educational ____ tours, actions to raise awareness about
....death; information-sharing events, "art and ___" parades and more.

Our Mission:
To demonstrate that ____ is fun, liberating, empowering,
sustainable, and environmentally friendly.

click the link to find the nature of the community...



Friday, November 24, 2006

"Face-painters, Cheese Heads, Flatulence Giants,and other revolutionaries"...sounds like church to me!!

"Face-painters, Cheese Heads, and other revolutionaries: Fans who show up sporting a wedge of plastic cheese on their heads, or wearing nothing but a barrel and suspenders, or dousing themselves in purple paint are really just the modern-day, class-defying equivalents of flatulent giants, cross-dressing jesters, and juggling scullery maids of the Renaissance."

“Carnival is not a spectacle seen by the people; they live in it, and everyone participates because its very idea embraces all the people.” -- Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World

“We always strive after things forbidden and covet what is denied us.” -- François Rabelais, The Histories of Gargantua and Pantagruel

-all the above From the Pop Matters article here...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

new U2 song, "Window in the Skies"

Gee, what do you think the new U2 song, "Window in the Skies" is about?

Some great lyric intrerp by Mother Beth at this link..

"Watch" the entire song here..just be aware that though the video below has the audio to the whole song; the video is a fan video (the official video is not out yet):

Most of the song is also in audio form online.... Linked from the 11/09 post on our forum right here ; (later note: It's also now on my myspace jukebox here.

"Window in the Skies"

The shackles are undone
The bullet's quit the gun
The heat that's in the sun
Will keep us when there's none
The rule has been disproved
The stone it has been moved
The grave is now a groove
All debts are removed

Oh can't you see what our Love has done
Oh can't you see what our Love has done
Oh can't you see what our Love has done
What it's doing to me

Love makes strange enemies
Makes love where Love may please
The soul in its striptease
Hate brought to its knees
The sky over our head
We can reach it from our bed
If you let me in your heart
And out of my head

Oh can't you see what our Love has done
Oh can't you see what our Love has done
Oh can't you see what our Love has done
What it's doing to me

Oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh

Please don't ever let me out of here

I've got no shame
Oh no, oh no

Oh can't you see what Love has done
Oh can't you see
Oh can't you see what Love has done
What it's doing to me

I know I hurt You and I made You cry
Did everything but murder You and I
But Love left a window in the skies
And to Love I rhapsodize

Oh can't you see what Love has done
To every broken heart
Oh can't you see what Love has done
For every heart that cries

Love left a window in the skies
And to Love I rhapsodize

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

"He preaches WITH, not TO the damned...and he actually prefers their company"

Uncalculated and uncredentialed.

Two terms Eugene Peterson used here in defending his ...controversial in some circles...view of U2 as prophets.

Those three terms, then (uncalculated, uncredentialed, and prophetic) fit U2 and Johnny Cash well.

Unlike many Christians...let alone pastors...Johnny was honest and "uncredentialed" enough to say...well amazing, uncalculated prophetic; well, read all the quotes here.

Like most prophets; Cash exhibted two more attributes of the prophetic (in Peterson's definition): bite and clarity.

Like most prophets, he died too young.

Read the articles and weep.

Watch this and pray.

Then do something with it.

Preach with the damned, for Christ's sake.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

saddest post ever?

Someone called this the saddest post ever..


try this classic:
Open letter from a young "prodigal slacker"

A good read:

A growing collection of worthwile articles on the topic of "Detoxing From Church" is posted just a click away (right here on our forum)...Since I know that title intrgued you, check it out. It has received almost 20,000 hits; as opposed to most on the same forum topping at under 1000! Someone's hitting a nerve!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Kiwi and Wolf

I have never been so excited about a sequel since...uh, Matrix 2..and that didn't pan out as well as #1 or #3, unless you have a thing for Keanu's bare butt..

Wolfgang Simson, author of the seminal "Houses That Change the World," is about to bless us with a sequel..and in the meantime, as the Skinny Kiwi reminds us here, it would be a good time to review his earlier masterpiece..and many of his choice articles in this closet..

Ted Haggard, Meth w/Gay Prostitutes...all in 2D

Stephen Shields has good words on all this craziness here


Let's all be in prayer..

Follow the news, see interviews w/Haggard, read blogger's challenges here

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Messianic Betrayal

a)"Translation is messianic"

b)"Translation is betrayal"

Which is it?


Eugene Peterson, in "Eat This Book," is behind both quotes; and I am behind him suggesting they are both right.

"A" is actually a quote Peterson includes from Franz Rosenzweig: "Every translation is a messianic act, which brings redemption nearer." (p.119) ..The quote in context here...

"B," in context:
"An old canard that sooner or later gets introduced into discussions of translation is 'You, a translator? Traitor!' Translation is betrayal. All translation is inherently mistranslation. Each language is unique."

Viola! All translation is both messianic and betrayal.

Kind of like life.

In fact, life is translation.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Chris Seay's VOICE/"Some might argue..but they'd all be Anglo men..."

Chris's Seay's vision of The Voice Scripture project is now happening...two installments out. No way to dsecribe it...but if a "translation" of the Book of Acts retold by Brian McLaren, with commentary by Seay sounds intriguing...

Here's a statement by Seay from his video blog site (He doesn't have a "regular" blog!):

I am honored to be the first to welcome you to This portal is a celebration of God's movement towards all of us and a place to explore the biblical narrative in beauty and truth. I have been a Pastor for sixteen years. In some seasons conversations have been dominated by generational theory, postmodern philosophy, or cultural analysis. But I have found that the most beautiful seasons of my life and ministry were always the times when conversations were focused on telling the story of God, celebrating the beauty of redemption, and recognizing God's work in the world. I have invited the most gifted writers, scholars, artists, musicians, and filmmakers that I know to devote their talents to re-telling the biblical narrative in a way that revives the drama, poetry, and humanity that is unique to the Bible. I am convinced that "The Voice" will be a a gift to the church and that you will experience the scriptures in new ways as you hear the voice.

..and here's a few quotes from the second section of the book, in which various thinkers commen t on "From the First to the 21st Century". These quotes from a beautiful chapter by a tall skinny kiwi, Andrew Jones:

"The mission of God (is) now squarely in the hands of the two thirds world."

"There are some who might argue with Escobar (that the future demands more models of non-paternalistic holistic mission...) on this, but they would all be white, Anglo, middle class men who live in wealthy countries that used to control the global mission enterprise."

Great project/blog/translation....I love Chris Seay (as you can guess by my "Grab a Twinkie and think: does Dr. Dobson care?" post here). My only concern is is seems to be mostlywritten by....well, read that last sentence again starting with "they would all be..." !! Maybe the next volume will be intentionally more international...And/or at least include a "postmodern negro" (: or two..

No offense, I know McLaren and others are working hard at broadening the base of the is definitely needed for the next level..Kudos!

Otherwise I fear everyone will look like me...see Purgatorio's hilarious/tragic test; "You May Be Emergent IF.."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

St. Carla Menagh

Walter Hooper and I baptizing St. Carla in the Jordan River, Feb. 1995:

Reflections at Carla Menagh‘s Memorial Service
October 5, 2006

Dave Wainscott
Given at First United Methodist Church; Delano, California

The family was hoping I had a copy of my remarks. As usual, I didn't; only scribbled notes. But here's what I reconstructed to post.

When I found out I would be helping at the service, I googled her name to see if there was an obituary online, or anything written about her online. I found...absolutely nothing! (later note: see this!) At first, I thought, "Isn't that like Carla: she didn't want a lot of P.R., never had a blog, never made the news...anywhere on the world... But just quietly served without a spotlight (compare me! Google my name sometime!!) But then I thought, "Well, that's not fair. What if someone searched her name online ..even years from now.. to learn about this saint...and found nothing to tell her story." I knew that if I posted her name here, it would soon show up highly on Google soon. So I posted her name a few days ago here, and it almost immediately shot to #1 on Google returns! Then I added the full message below. Now I now someone will at least be able to celebrate a life extraordinarily well lived! -dw

“I can’t type, and I can’t spell…and uh, hi; I’m your secretary!”

That’s basically the first thing Carla said to me; the first time I met her; here in this very building; July 1991.

She looked kind of sheepish and serious; but I knew she was half-kidding.

I saw that smile.

So I teased back:

“Uh, great…Pleased to meet you. What can you do, then?”


“But there must be some reason Pastor Scott and the Staff-Parish Committee speak so glowingly of you.”

Actually, in a sense, it turned out that Carla was telling the truth.

Now, don’t get me wrong. She was a wonderful secretary for my seven great years at this great church. And she COULD type
         ….better than she thought.
                                    And she COULD spell…
                                                but not as well as  Kathy!(:

What do I mean then when I say she was partly right?

It was her claim “I can do nothing…” that was truthful.

But not in the sense you’re thinking.

Let me put it this way: Of all the pictures I have been going through since I heard the news this week about Carla’s graduation to Jesus; many stand out…I have literal photos, videos, but what better; more appropriate picture of Carla to highlight today than the one that Pastor Elmar just read from Philippians 2:3:

DO NOTHING out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others more important than yourself…Don’t look after your own interests, but look after the interests of others…This is the attitude that was found in Christ Jesus.”

Wow, have you ever seen or heard a more accurate description; better picture of Carla? Have you ever met anyone who lived out this Scripture more faithfully than Carla?

Neither have I.

So she did “DO NOTHING…” That is she, like no one else I have met; let alone have counted a close friend and secretary, “DID NOTHING out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.”


I know she wanted Pastor Scott to sing at her funeral. And wasn’t it beautiful? And I know she wanted me to….

…tell this joke!

I just didn’t plan on telling it so soon.

There is an old preacher joke about a pastor talking to and teasing his nicest church member.

“Gee, you are so nice, “ the pastor told her…“You could probably even say something nice about the devil!”

The woman paused for a moment and responded:

“Well, you certainly have to admire his persistence.”

We often told Carla that joke. That woman was her.

Don’t get me wrong. She didn’t admire the devil. But she was so relentlessly and naturally….persistently; consistently; insistently nice…She so well “DID NOTHING out of selfish ambition or vain conceit”….that the devil himself, as persistent as he was, couldn’t get through to her.

She was too much like Jesus.

Persistently so.

Even though she persistently disobeyed the first instructions I ever gave her!(:

Seeing immediately how wonderfully nice, and persistently selfless she was; I figured here at this busy downtown church office, with all kinds of homeless people and transients coming in for help; Carla would likely be TOO nice.

Sure, we wanted to help the people in legitimate need; those God wanted us to help. But there are many who are just working the system, I warned her. She should not be too nice to them; or be quick to give them money or food.

I even hung up a great article from a Christian magazine on her bulletin board .

Kathy remembers it well.

Carla doesn’t.

It was designed for church secretaries, in church offices where a lot of people come in off the street for help; to discern who was “working the system.”

I don’t think she ever read it.

Thank God.

She did nothing…DID ABSOLUTELY “NOTHING out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.”

I’m sure she helped a few fakers; but I would rather err that way than my way.

She was so nice she may well have accidentally helped the devil (Just kidding).

But what’s worse is I may have NOT helped an angel, or Jesus in disguise, as Scripture warns us about.

Carla never missed a chance. She was naturally persistent.

She cried with people, prayed with people, fed people.

She could do no other. She had “the same attitude that was in Christ Jesus” in her.

Nothing; absolutely nothing did she do….out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.


I think Carla was given a raise at the time I came on board.

For at least two reasons, I would guess.

First, I know she was a bit worried about me; she loved Pastor Scott; so who was this new kid coming in? She actually admitted seeing a picture of me before she met me, and worrying she wouldn’t like me(:

Secondly, What is a church secretary’s job description, bottom line? It’s, in a nutshell, to make the pastor look good.

I guess she took one look at my picture, and said “I’m going to have to work awful hard to make this guy look good.” (:

If anything good came out my years here where I looked good, I bet it can be traced back to Carla.

We never payed her what she was worth.

She typed like crazy; she spelled well. She did everything asked of her and more…But she did nothing, DID ABSOLUTELY “NOTHING….

…out of selfish ambition or vain conceit…“ always considering, like Christ Jesus did, others more important than herself..

…Which means she prayed for me. She may have…thank God…disobeyed my first instructions to her….ignoring that foolish sign. But she over-obeyed my second “job” for her.

See this church directory? It’s from my tenure here. To my shame, it looks brand new.
Do you know what Carla’s church directory looked like?

It was a mess.

Not just because she was the church secretary, and it was her job to keep the master directory up to date. Any church secretary knows that is an impossible job….constantly fixing corrections, changing addresses, adding new names in pencil…It has to be a mess.

But the major reason it was a mess, well-worn, stained….was because she took to heart her pastor’s advice right here on page 1 of the directory where it says:

“You will use this directory often for resource purposes. That is primarily what it is for. But let me challenge us to make use of it in an additional, even more exciting way: let’s covenant to use it as a prayer directory. With the convenient roster in the back, we can pray daily or weekly for the members and friends of our church.”

I wrote that.

But I sure didn’t live up to it.

Look at my directory.

Carla did.

She over-obeyed.

She did nothing, did nothing, DID NOTHING out of selfish ambition or vain
conceit…I have a hard time placing those words in the same sentence as Carla!…and always; persistently considered others more important than herself..

…which explains the fact that her directory was worn out, tear-stained, prayed through.

Only God knows how many people in the room, and who have gone before us, owe their salvation , healing, or breakthrough to a selfless secretary who prayed for us selflessly. Year after year after year…



Weeks before I met Carla, as I was about to graduate seminary and move to my first church…not knowing it would be here alongside such a saint as Carla, one of my professors washed each of our feet in a moving foot washing service. And as he wiped our feet each with an individual towel that he would later give to us as a reminder to…well, “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit”….he spoke prophetic words over each of us. To me he said:

“God has given you great compassion, Let it grow.“

I have not done well living out that word. But if I learned compassion at all the next seven years. it was from Carla.

Sure, for all my years here at the church, I had that towel hanging over my diploma to remind me of what was really important in ministry.

But I didn’t need that towel in my office when I could walk to the next office in see Carla Menagh, who lived out that word.

I eventually lost that towel.

Carla never lost hers.

She washed feet for a living; symbolically ..every day. With every phone call, with every newsletter typed, assembled, spelled well and mailed from that office…with every handout of food, with every prayer she spoke over you from this weathered directory…

My professor also recently went to be with Jesus.

I have lost his towel. But with Carla’s inspiration; maybe I can start to not lose his words and challenge.

I know I did not give to Carla a fraction of the blessing she gave to me.

But one thing I did try to give her: I loved to challenge her to do things she thought she couldn’t do.

Like pray through the directory…she put me to shame.

Like pray with people…even over the phone when they called the church office.
She even had a Rolodex of Scriptures on her desk which she used for that.

Like preach! When she preached her first sermon, from the same pulpit I am in right now….against her will, I talked her into it(:….she of course preached a powerful, tear-filled message on (no surprise!) “considering others more important than yourself.” It was called “Others.” In it, she quoted her favorite poem. I can still hear it:

“Others, Lord, Others.
Let that my motto be.

Let me live for others;
That I might live for Thee.”

Like go to Israel!

She almost killed me there.

Because I almost killed her there.

I see many of you in the room that I had the privilege of baptizing in the Jordan River on that first trip in 1995.…Carla was among that number.

She was so thrilled, she smiled the whole trip through…except for one historic, hysteric minute.

You may have hear pastors complain about the step they are to strand on under the water there at the Jordan. It is slippery. They often slip.

Like I did after baptizing Carla.

Of course she was smiling big time when she went down into the water.

But when she cane up…and I have this right here on video...was perhaps the only time I ever saw her not smiling.

Because I was slipping, she started slipping. And you can see a brief panic on her face (photo at top) that for a moment she thought she would float down the River Jordan and die there..(:

In her typical self-effacing style, she blamed it on her weight.
No, it was me.

But you know her baptism “took” anyway.

Because she trusted not the slippery character who baptized her, but Someone Else who was baptized in the Jordan River; traditionally at the exact same spot,

Someone of whom it is written had an attitude that “did nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.” Someone named Christ Jesus whom Carla trusted and held onto there in the Jordan, and in the waters of life and ministry.

And Philippians 2 amazingly tells us we too can be like that.

I cannot imagine being as selfless as Carla.

But what better tribute to Carla than to ask right now:

Who would like to honor her memory?

Everyone here, of course; That is why you are here.

Then I recommend…Then I challenge you (as I did Carla so often) to do something you feel is beyond you: would you be daring and Carla-like enough to pray with me here today that somehow the Lord would make us to be selfless like she was, even to inherit a version of that holy smile she wore.

That we too would “do nothing”.

That is, “do nothing out f selfish ambition or vain conceit.”
That we could trust God enough to make us like she was like Jesus.

Raise your hand if you’d like to pray that.

“Lord Jesus, how we give You thanks for the wonderful gift of grace that is Carla…she did nothing out out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Would You send Your Holy Spirit upon us gathered here, and impart to us a measure of the same Spirit that was on her..
And let her keynote Scripture be true of us…as if she were speaking and prophesying it over us:

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ,
if any comfort from his love,
if any common sharing in the Spirit,
if any tenderness and compassion,
then make my joy complete by being like-minded,
having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

Do nothing

out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.

Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a human being,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

And Lord Jesus, since Carla has ahead of us now kneeled bowed, and confessed that You are Lord …literally in Your presence; we ask that each of us who remain receive a portion of that selfless heart and mind that was Carla Menagh.

Until we meet her, and You, face to face.