Haven't felt like blogging much as I have been pretty busy. Andrea was admitted to the hospital a couple of days ago. They are not exactly sure what is going on, but they are keeping her in and doing some tests to find out. It's a little weird because results could be anywhere from not serious at all to fairly serious. So Simon has to put up with the care of his scattered Dad. Don't tell mom, but we are surviving on crackers and brown bread (must get to the store) and the pile of dishes in the kitchen... yikes! It's getting so big it depresses me. I'm sure if I just ignore it, it will go away.

My spirits were greatly lifted a couple nights ago by the midnight surprise of a visit from my friends, Andrew and Tami Smith. We stayed up til three and and ordered Chinese food and talked and talked. Andrew was getting in to the idea of how the church structures we build are often not neutral as we may think they are, but instead the structure itself has a huge propensity to do evil. The structures can war against relationship and increase spectatorism in a way that is contrary to our most foundational values. Anyway, he sounds a lot like Dave Andrews in his book from a few years back, Building a Better World.


Corporate scandals, downturn in the economy. Is a war with Iraq just good politics??

WASHINGTON - A war of words erupted Wednesday in Washington over the continuing confrontation between Iraq and the U.S. Key Democrats accused President George W. Bush of using the possibility of conflict in Iraq to boost Republican prospects in the November mid-term elections.

God bless those rastas. Arrested Development put out a song a while back based on Revelation 18, the part where Jesus calls his children to get out of Babylon. And they state plainly the need for that kind of departure from the dictates of a contrary society. The song is called Hit the Road, Jack, and I don't know what CD it is on, because I couldn't find it anywhere.

No one, nowhere will escape the day of judgement
Ok, I dare you to do right instead of wrong
Babylon will fall and when them do
There will be peace for us all
But until that day, I stress that you stress that we go away

Hit the road, Jack, and don't you come back no more....

...you think you standin hard as a rock but you ain't intimidatin as a pebble
You look tough but when you speak your voice falsetto like Aaron Neville
And you ain't livin for God then who you livin for, you a joke slowpoke
Afraid to see sin within that makes you yoked...


Need some educatin'??

I just found this article by Rudy C. on the Bruderhof communities, an Anabaptist group that lives in intentional community, yet doesn't withdraw from engagement with the culture, as was historically typical of other Anabaptist groups.



It's been a while since I really liked a worship song, but this one by Tim Hughes, Here I Am To Worship, is really catching me. I always find it a curious thing when simple song can carry so much power. The lyrics say nothing really new, but there's just something there. Hmmm.

And I hear that Brian Doerksen has a new one out, You Shine. Has anyone heard it? I am interested to see if he sounds any different now that he's doing stuff with Hosanna Integrity instead of Vineyard music.

And two of my buddies, who are no slouches when it comes to writing a worship tune, have new ones coming out. David Ruis has one from FOTB called Wide Wide World; and Eoghan Heaslip, Dublinish worship-master extraordinaire, has one coming out, but I don't know what it's going to be called. He did one with Ruis a while ago called Powerscourt 2000, and it's a good one.

Tonight Kim McMechan and I are doing a little folky concert at CMU (Canadian Mennonite University). We will be singing... but no dancing... hahahahaha...


This is the transition from PATRONAGE to PILGRIMAGE.

I like it too.
If you have some reading time, Dan Hughes points to a good discussion going on here (at least it starts out well)...
I just finished listening to Campolo and Gary Bauer in a debate over the Christian response to the War on Terror. If anything, it highlighted to me just how hard the questions are. A Christian's interaction with the state is indeed a precarious thing.

At one point it was making me think how divorced from each other the New and Old testaments of the Bible seem to be. But as I re-think that, I can see that what they hold in common is the notion of human beings humbly handing control over things back to God. In the Old testament, it was done by believing in him to fight the battles, to the point of doing humanly ludicrous things like shrinking your army down to a force of 300 to prove that it was God who was really fighting the battle. In the New testament, it was a rejection of force and violence to the point of giving up your own life, if necessary.

I wonder, then, if a modern day goverment could ever dare to truly go either way. I think I might be kind of impressed with the American government if they said, look, this is how we are going to fight the battle. God is on our side and he will give us the victory, so we are not going to do it on our own strength. We will send a handful of priests and pastors to march around Baghdad, and God will strike all the bad guys dead. Never happens, does it. A friend of mine points out that, if we are going to embrace the OT model, it might in some cases require us killing every man, woman, and child we conquer. Yeesh, this option is getting less and less attractive.

The other side of the coin seems even less possible. Can you imagine a New Testament nation, a nation of Christ-followers? Similarly, we would declare that God is in control, so our military efforts would be completely unnecessary. Our weapons would be prayer, kindness, and compassion, blessing our enemies with the good things that have been given to us (wow, one wonders what effect that would have in the spiritual realms). Our job would be to live as Christ instructed. The outcome would be entirely in God's hands. It really comes down to the degree to which we trust God to be in control.

I don't know if I believe in the possibility of a "Christian nation". Perhaps we are meant to be "aliens and strangers", a political threat to the nations we are in, simply because our allegiance is not to that nation. But I do believe in the second coming of Christ, and I believe that therein we will discover how a "Christian nation" should really be done.

For Christians looking for a biblical response to war, these are really the only two options that scripture gives us. Funny that we take neither of them very seriously.


Something true in these too:

"I may not know much about God, but I'd say we built a pretty nice cage for him."

- Homer Simpson, after helping some island natives construct a church


A man had been stranded on the proverbial deserted island for years. Finally a boat comes into view, and the man frantically waves to draw its attention. The rescuers turn toward shore and arrive on the island. After greeting the stranded man, one looks around and asks, "What are those three huts you have here?"
"Well, that's my house there."
"What's that next hut?" asks the sailor.
"I built that hut to be my church."
"What about the other hut?"
"Oh, that's where I used to go to church."


This sounds true to me:

Don't be fooled by window dressing. Most of these churches are still hierarchical, still centered on the big gathering, still are not reaching their communities, and do not truly empower anyone. Most of these churches have no intention of releasing control of their people (and thereby their cash flow), and most have no idea what is really happening in the culture around them.

You can manage an audience, you cannot manage community. If you do, it dies.

You can build an audience, you can only grow a community.

You can program groups, you can't program community.

From Len H.
Ok, I've taken this Japan net-surfing thing too far, but I did find out some interesting things about us western men:

1. Western men consider the sexes to be equal and, as a result, they are willing to share household chores. Western men are kind and openhearted, they are willing and able to express their love for their wives and they will continue to love and cherish their wives as they grow old.

2. Western men clearly express their opinions and intentions with words and always make decisions after fully discussing the issues with their wives. Japanese women feel these traits make it easier for them to understand their husbands and will also allow them to feel relaxed and to act naturally in the presence of their husbands.

3. Western men care dearly about their families and their lifestyles are centered around their families.

4. Western men are tall, strong and handsome.

No, really. Check for yourself. It has to be true; I found it on the internet.
You know you are excited about going back to Japan when you start visiting all your old expatriate internet haunts.

This is so true.

And this is the kind of quirkiness that really makes me love Japan...
Dan Hughes highlights an article about Japan:

MASAMI HAS SEX with several of her pals, she admits, rotating among partners who themselves enjoy numerous liaisons. Her promiscuity is not uncommon: Surveys suggest that many young Japanese maintain multiple sekusutomo �literally �sex friends.� According to a joint study... in the Shibuya section of Tokyo recently, 43 percent said they keep five or more sex friends at a time...

They form social groups that�like their jobs�are part time, low stress and temporary.

My friend Brian responds:

It is quite similar to the attitudes of the late '60s hippie crowd, actually, who were going through the "Mother of all Cultural Shifts". With the seperation of the old generation and it's strict rules of how to function in society from this new care-free way of thinking and behaving, the hippies produced a hightened sense of global morality and no sense of personal morality. Sure, it was an emphasis on relationship and community (loving one another, man) that produced this. But, I can remember even in the Woodstock movie that was filmed for theatre release in 1970, there was an interview with a teenage couple who were asked "are you guys a couple?". The girl answered, "no, he's not my boyfriend or anything". The interviewer pressed it further to get a bit of definition on what this relationship consisted of (he could probably tell there was something else going on), and the girl responded, "we're not dating. I mean, we ball (60's slang for having sex) and everything but we are not a couple". It was the way then...and now, as Japan goes through it's own cultural shift, it is the way again.

Yeah, talk about a cheapening of love. But if the North American track record is anything to go on, eventually people wake up to the reality that "tonight" love leaves you empty and longing for "forever" love. In a way, these times of radical independence might be good, if only for teaching people that there is really something deeper and spiritual to sex than just the physical.


Some good videos (you might want to right click and do "save target as"):

1. The dangers of love on the cold Canadian prairie...

2. I know this one is a classic, but it still makes me laugh...

3. Sports fans will like this one...
This is pretty good. And this one is for Republicans everywhere.
Ok. It's been way too heavy in here for the last few days. I'm off to look for something funny...
Stanley Hauerwas reflects on September 11 (via Chris Smith).


That last post was inspired by this article. Leaders, the supposed good guys, lie and spin as they see fit. I don't think I would much care if they would just stop putting their aims in religiously righteouss language. But I guess that is the job of almost any government in history, bar the communists - to convince the people that "God is on our side".

Mr Bush spoke of the tens of thousands of opponents of Saddam Hussein who had been arrested and imprisoned and summarily executed and tortured � "all of these horrors concealed from the world by the apparatus of a totalitarian state".

But there was no mention, unfortunately, that all these beatings and burnings and electric shocks and mutilations and rapes were being merrily perpetrated when America was on very good terms with Iraq before 1990, when the Pentagon was sending intelligence information to Saddam to help him kill more Iranians.

With no other superpower left to oppose it, the U.S. is looking more than ever like the Roman Empire. And I think that is helpful comparison for Christians living in the West, as early Christians had the same challenge of working out allegiances as we do now. The Roman Empire always assumed that its values and its goals were the right ones. Christians within the empire knew this was not true. They didn't see the Roman Empire as intrinsically good or intrinsically evil. In fact, the Roman Empire proved itself to be capable of both extreme good and extreme evil. But the early Christians never melded their "Roman-ness" with their allegiance to Christ.

That is where it gets confusing for us nowadays. The American Empire often uses the name of our Leader, but doesn't pay much attention to his teachings. The teachings of Christ don't mix well with the goals of nation-building (as the Romans seemed to understand), but co-opting his name seems to be useful for giving people a sense that whatever the nation is up to is right.

What a dangerous thing then when the church starts to look more intently on Jesus.


Iggie is talking about what it means to be an apostle, and it doing so, he inspires us with the life of Rich Mullins. Mullins has meant a great deal to me also, and I really identify with what Iggie is saying about Mullins way of marrying moving lyrics with a life that left no doubt about what he believed in.

Here's one of Mullins songs that I can still rarely get through without tearing up. I never heard a song that so perfectly expresses that life of a Christian - torn between two kingdoms.

Land of My Sojourn

And the coal trucks come runnin' with their bellies full of coal
And their big wheels hummin'
Down a road that lies open like the soul of the woman
Who hid the spies who were lookin' for the land of milk and honey
And this road she is a woman, she was made from a rib
Cut from the sides of these mountains
Oh these great sleeping Adams who are
Lonely even here in paradise
Lonely for somebody to kiss them
And I'll sing my song,
I'll sing my song in the land of my sojourn

And the lady in the harbor
Still holds her torch out to those huddled masses
Who are yearning for freedom that still eludes them
The immigrant's children see their brightest dreams shattered
Here on the New Jersey shoreline
In the greed and the glitter of those high-tech casinos
But some mendicants wander off into a cathedral,
They stoop in the silence and there their
Prayers are still whispered
And I'll sing their song,
I'll sing their song in the land of my sojourn

Nobody tells you when you get born here
How much you'll come to love it and how you'll never belong here
So I call you my country, but I'll be lonely for my home
and I wish that I could take you there with me

And down the brown brick spine of some dirty blind alley
All those drainpipes were drippin' out the last Sons of Thunder
While off in the distance the smokestacks were belching back
This city's best answer
And the countryside was pocked with all those Mailpouch posters
Thrown up on the rotting sideboards
Of these rundown stables like the one that Christ was born in
When the old world started dying and
The new world started coming on
And I'll sing His song, and I'll sing His
Song in the land of my sojourn


I heard someone talking about delegating responsibility a while ago. They said that sometimes delegation is giving to someone else what God gave you to do. I think that sort of sentiment lies at the core of my lack of energy for institutional church and contributes to my tendency toward a sort of Christian anarchism (I am being very specific about it being Christian anarchism, as history shows that the kind that doesn't embrace a transcendant divine love gets real ugly real fast).

We must ask God, with all the honesty we can muster, to communicate what he has for us to do. Once he reveals that, true leadership is not to try to get a bunch of other people to do what he told you, but to do it yourself. The anarchist in me says leave the followership up to God. There are others out there who he is speaking the same things to. And you will find your tribe.

And there will be plenty of others who aren't doing it your way. They might be wrong, or they might just be different. In any case, it's not your call. Listen to them, and let their light increase your own, but you are not called to be them. Obedience to God demands that you do what he's given you to do.

I hope I'm not wrong, or else I should be spending a lot more time in church.

And I know this was vague and cryptic. It likely should have been a poem.
Wow. Those are refreshing sentiments coming from a leader in the Western world.

"You cannot exercise your powers to the point of humiliation for the others. That is what the Western world -- not only the Americans, the Western world -- has to realize. Because they are human beings too. There are long-term consequences.

"And I do think that the Western world is getting too rich in relation to the poor world and necessarily will be looked upon as being arrogant and self-satisfied, greedy and with no limits. The 11th of September is an occasion for me to realize it even more."

Now if only he could speak English.


Does anyone have any good advice on how to track down cheap airline tickets to Japan?
"A good pastor keeps you from forgetting what you need to remember in a time of trouble."

If I have ever heard a modern day prophet, it is Tony Campolo. We often joke about him when he comes to Winnipeg that he tells the same stories every time, and every time we leave crying. Well, he's got some new stories in his reflections on "Christianity after September 11th". He says some important stuff that we need to hear right now.

And here's a hook for some of you: Bono and U2 feature prominently....


Archie Bunker: Now, no prejudice intended, but I always check with the Bible on these here things. I think that, I mean if God had meant for us to be together, he'd a put us together. But look what he done. He put you over in Africa, and put the rest of us in all the white countries.

Sammy Davis Jr.: Well, he must've told 'em where we were because somebody came and got us.
I guess I am just going to have to learn the language. I have been experimenting with online translation software, and it has a long way to go. Here is a message my friend sent me. His English is poor and my Japanese is poor, we conversed in the international language of food. So for email he tried out an online translator:

Hello It is HIOKI. It is a long time truly. Does it live on you energy? I congratulate a baby on birth from the heart. The baby who was looking forward to it thinks a very dear thing. My family is very fine. I am doing the car dealer which is not profitable as usual -- but -- He is enjoyed very much. Is he enjoyed although John also thinks that work is busy? Although many things to talk still more occur, since this text is sent with translation software, it is anxious in whether it is an unclear text.

John -- and please live from the heart forever fortunately with a new family's baby. -- Coming out again -- !!!

You too Hioki! I think that is good advice for anyone - live from the heart forever fortunately. I think I'll start signing my letters that way...


Richard Bott posted some stuff that reminded me of a similar discussion we were having about a year ago. He is talking about how uneasy some people get when he prays for God's blessings on Saddam Hussein.

Such prayers were by and large absent in last years response to the tragedy. It seems to reveal our true colors, and how serious we are about Christ when one of his most challenging and specific commands to his followers is to "... Do good to those who hate you. Pray for the happiness of those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you." The words of Christ aren't compatible with the ideals of anger and revenge.

I wrote this a couple weeks after the disaster last year.
I was awaken by a really vivid dream. I was driving west on the trans-Canada, the terrain looked like BC, with my dad in the passenger seat. We were on the way to Japan. The highway was really busy and we were behind a big, red semi. Suddenly, another big semi comes screaming past us in the left lane and totally cuts off the semi in front of us. He smashes his trailer into the red semi, and then turns and smashes him a few more times, really angry. Dad and I have to drive onto the grass beside the highway to avoid being involved in their collision. Once we get back on the road, we breathe a sigh of relief and continue on. Suddenly we are surrounded by eight or nine people on Japanese racing bikes (Ninjas, and Katanas, etc). I get really tense again because I think it means trouble and I pull over into a roadside stop. They come up beside me and take off their helmets, and they are a bunch of young people. When I say that I am going to Japan, they are totally pumped, saying that they love Japan and it's totally awesome that we are going there. They pledge to drive with us and protect us and do whatever they can to make sure we get there safe and sound.



Well, we got some big news and I was kinda holding off on it because we weren't sure which way it would go. But now it looks like it will be a go, so....

We are going to go back to Japan. A friend of mine phoned from Japan a couple days ago with the ultimate job offer. It is basically a job that will pay big and allow us to pay off debts. At the same time, I will be working only weekends, so there is lots of extra time left over to be building communities of faith (dare I call it church-planting? I had a bit of a falling out with that word) and pursuing the music stuff. We are well connected with friends there, and my buddy who offered the job is a radio DJ in Nagoya and plugged in to the music scene in Japan. So it all seems incredible. Whether it is debts, music, or community, this one answers all the questions in one fell swoop.

And the biggest way I know it is right is that Andrea is into it. She basically has done a 180 since this summer saying that there is no way she would be going back to Japan for years to come. But she feels like this is a perfect fit.

Looks like I will head over in November, come back for Christmas and then take the whole family over in January. I gotta get back into my Japanese language texts.

Oh, and the job.... I will be performing wedding ceremonies. Weddings in Japan are very big deals and they often want a westerner to perform a western ceremony. So that'll be me.

Thank you God to a great answer to a lot of prayers.
Here is a quote I like that relates well to the previous post:

Americans see the isolated individual as the source of all moral virtue and society as nothing more than a collection of these individuals. Evangelicalism implicitly agreed. It spoke eloquently of saving individuals; but it did not take seriously what these individuals were saved into. They preached the gospel of the individuals rightly enough; but as true Americans, they did not see that God might intend to go further and make a people out of these persons. Evangelicalism sought to transform people and so transform the world. They did not see that something might be missing from this vision, something their assumption of American individualism would hide from them. The true Christian vision is to transform people, transforming them into a people, and so transform the world. The evengelicals missed that middle term. They could not see the church as a foretast of the new society; it was a club for the new individuals. The evangelicals simply dressed up American individualism in Christian clothing. They ended up with the new isolated individuals, but in the old society. ("The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Evangelicalism," Voices in the Wilderness, July '86).

I found that quote in Frank Viola's book, Re-thinking the Wineskin.
A good comment from Simon Kiela got me thinking:

Hi John,

This is a very interesting discussion both from you and from James. I am not sure if either of you understand (I hope so) that both of you are speaking from TRADITION :-). Yes, both of you are influenced by your sub-culture. John is speaking from the North American democratic tradition that reinforces our individualism (yes!), OUR responsibility, OUR ability to decide, to question, to think :-). What James is trying to do is to balance (or, more likely, to outweigh) this view with another view - a Community of Saints view. Now, the latter one can also become an abuse if an autocrat usurps the power. However, the hopes are that the Tradition (the teaching) of the centuries in the Church of Christ will prevail.

I do not spit into the well of the history of the Church. The corporate leading of the same Spirit, I believe, continues into our days. Thus, if we come up with a weard interpretation of the Scriptures and don't find any support in a variety of commentaries, consider it very suspicious, no matter how interesting it is :-). Look for support within the Bible, then in the Patristics, then in the councils, then in the middle ages, then in Reformation, then in contemporaries. Does the same Spirit lead us all? It should, shouldn't it? Thus, we all are under His supervision. Let's hold to our responsibility to check against each other. This is where more historical branches of the Tree (the Church) are right, I think.

My two cents worth...

My response was...

Hey Simon

I hear what you are saying regarding cultural bias. Of course we are all influenced by our sub-culture, but you must understand that I am not completely oblivious to the water I am swimming in. To reduce the arguments down to only cultural bias is maybe a little simplistic.

I'm looking pretty closely at individualism, and see that it can be both very good and very bad. Real maturity can only really come through a knowledge of yourself as an individual, but it gets sick if that is where it stops. I think much of the North American mindset is stuck in this independent, its-all-about-me stage. The next step of giving up some of your individuality to become inter-dependent with others is vital; but those relationships are codependent (like parent/child) unless both sides enter into them with a strong sense of their own identity.

I think I will always emphasize the importance of 'individualism" because I believe true inter-dependent community rests on individuals freely choosing to bind themselves together. But without that, community turns into pyramid style control.


Ok. if this seems confusing, that is because I am confused. How do I make this thinner without making the words unreadable?

Anyway, this was a kind of concept-map I drew up for a seminar I did a few years ago. It's me trying to crunch all kinds of big concepts into a simple diagram. It was well received, so I thought maybe it would add to the money discussion....
I was getting back into the swing of things preparing for my history class by going through some of the original source documents we use. I came across this quote from Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits:

"If we wish to be sure that we are right in all things; we should always be ready to accept this principle: I will believe that the white that I see is black, if the hierarchical church so defines it." (The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1964. pp. 139-141)

Such a quote reinforces to me the extremes that an institution will go to in order to have the final say. It is eerily close to the voice of Big Brother in 1984 demanding that "2 + 2 = 5". It is yours to blindly accept the truth of the guys on top. It is not yours to reason your ask questions. Truth becomes solely an issue of who holds the power.

Institutions display a great propensity towards wanting to quash the dissent that is necessary to conversation. Perhaps the main problem with a centralizing of control is that humankind strives to bring under its own auspices that which belongs only to God. And it would seem that our own discomfort with ambiguity is what leads us there. We seem to despise the vagueness that comes with freedom, preferring instead the blacks and whites of the law. Don't tell me that I am not only free but responsible to approach God myself, and determine my steps according to the mysteries of the spirit. Give me instead a rule I can keep to bolster my (perhaps false) sense of righteousness.

Maybe that's what happens in Protestantism with our many denominations. God births something by his spirit that ignites the hearts of many. After twenty years or so the people say, "What a good thing God has done; however, he may need our help in sustaining it, so let's set down a constitution and get a national director to oversee and make sure everything goes as WE desire it." What begins as a free and unhindered response to the spirit becomes codified according to human estimations. Too easily it becomes an extrinsic duty to the way things were rather than an intrinsic cooperation with the spirit of God.

This all relates closely to a debate raging in my head about the nature of "church" fuelled by emails back and forth with James Ferrenberg. I know I've gotta expand it a lot for it to make more sense�.

And speaking of James Ferrenberg, I find this post freakin interesting...
Some comments on the money thing from Frank Dorian:

I'd like to share a few stories. The first is from Tony Campolo. If you know anything about Tony you can picture his gruff New York accent. "I teach sociology at St. Davids. One year I had 8 Jewish students in my class. By the end of the year they had all given their lives to Jesus. One night there was a knock on my door. Two of those Jewish students had come to visit me. When you're at my house we don't get too far before we start talking about the church. Anyways these guy's asked me, "Mr Campolo, do you have insurance." I said "of course I do." They continued, " How do you line up insurannce with Matt 6 when it says take no thought for tomorrow." "Well, I protested, I have a wife and family, If I don't take care of them then who will." These two new converts to the living Christ simply said, "The church." How do you tell two new and excited Christians that the best you can expect from the church is a 50 dollar gift certificate from the deacon's board."

Churches everywhere have money for million dollar structures, to pay for Sunday school materials, for pastor's salaries, for conferences but so very little for those who are widow's, those who are hungry, those who are thirsty, those who are homeless..... and so on. Any church I have been to never had money in their budget for the poor.

The second story comes out of the 40's from Clarence Jordan. It seems that a certain church had an extra $25000. They had to decide what to do with it. In that same town half of the residents did not have running water. They decided to build a revolving fountain on their church lawn. "I was thirsty and ye built me a revolving fountain."

If you look at Jordan Cooper's site he has a picture of a 193 million dollar Roman Catholic building. Jordan Cooper wonders what 193 million dollars could do for the poor in L.A.. If the site of such a building does not sicken you than I guess nothing else will. I ask you this question. Has Jesus or Paul asked us to build any building (Let alone $193,000,000 structures) to house us. Did Jesus instruct us to feed the hungry, visit the prisoner, shelter the homeless the orphan, care for the widow. You know the answer. Then why have we turned it around? Why does 80-95% of our money go into these very things........ and very little to the poor.

Now there is a teaching that Jesus gave that answers the question to radical giving. He was talking to the rich man about selling his possessions. the rich man couldn't do it. The disciples asked a startling question. We have left all and followed. What do we get. Jesus said, "He who has done that will receive many brothers and sisters and lands and farms and animals and cars and houses in this life and the world to come." This was not a teaching on prosperity gospel but on community. This is how we live in a more radical manner. Our trust is not in people nor community but in the living God Himself. But God gives us community to help and sustain and encourage us.

Finally If the church does not begin to see itself as a community of faith, a community, family and continues in it's institutional ways we will continue to focus in on the minors like church buildings and will continue to ignore the widow, the orhan...........
Tom Sine: The earl believers did not view church as somewhere you go to once a week. It was a living breathing community that met from house to house, breaking bread, felowshipping all centered in the worship of the living Christ.

A quote from one of my articles: God creates a community of people that love, serve and worship him, but man always creates an institution for us to serve.


Man, both the comments box and blogger are quirky, aren't they? Yesterday evening and most of today neither was working. Now it seems all is well. I think.


Oh! My poor Japanese friends! I don't like Winnipeg winters, but I am not sure that Japanese summers are any better. Hope you Nagoya friends have got a good air conditioner (or a garden, according to the article).


I rode home from SK today with Joe, a friend of mine who thinks good thoughts and would do well to have a blog but is basically computer-illiterate (or maybe computer-disinterested). He is living in community with some friends who are working their way out of their addictions. It's an inspiring thing.

Anyway, we were conversing and it is cool how dialogue can be so revelatory. We were struggling through some of the tough sayings of Jesus, noting how often he encouraged people to not save their money, but instead to give it away where there is need. We were getting into how the idea of tithing seems to be somewhat of a western convenience, because from what one can gather from Christ, his paradigm was more along the lines of "give away whatever you don't need". However, such an idea is pretty contrary to our "sound financial planning" culture, but this is where the epiphany occurred.

From what we could tell, you can go two routes with your "investments". One reinforces our separate and lonely individualism, while the other builds community and advances the kingdom. One route is to take care of yourself, and make sure you have enough money stored away to keep yourself comfortable and safe. On the other hand, you could take the risk to give where there is need, and trust that God will take care of you, even when your pockets are empty. Even without a supernatural provision of God, generosity can open up a natural "safety-net" whereby generosity begets generosity. Our example was a friend of ours who has been very generous to many around him. We were in strong agreement that were he ever to find himself penniless, we would be selling stuff to make sure he was provided for. He has made his "investment" in us, and, in the economy of God, it's true what Jesus said, if you give you will receive.

It's interesting how the first option relies on independence, while the second requires interdependence. If you choose what is behind curtain number two, you have to be okay with not only giving, but receiving charity as well, and I am rarely certain which is easier. But in these acts of interdependence, Jesus works on us. The former works on our greed, the latter on our pride.

Alan Creech is reaping the comments from a post on church leadership. Some good discussion to check out.

By the way, I like Alan Creech...

...and I've never even met him.
Well, it's over, and I'd say the first tour was a success. All the concerts went really well and we came home with money in our pockets, even with the van breaking down. Tomorrow I should get to writing some nasty emails to Canadian Tire, as well as some thankful ones to a number of other people. And I will also start working on firming up the B.C. tour for late September. This music business seems to be 80% business and 20% music, but everyone tells me to get used to it. One lead that looks good is TAXI. They are an A&R agency who, apparently, are good at getting songs heard by the right people. From what I have heard it is legit, but of course there is a catch, a $500 yearly membership. But when I can get it together, I think it would be a good investment. Heard anything about them?