Quoting Brian McLaren

August 31, 2004

I just read something from Brian McLaren on Leadership Journal. In the article, Mr. McLaren writes:

“…We praise God for holding us close, for keeping us secure, for making us feel loved and blessed and forgiven and warm and cozy in our electric blanket of eternal security (with a warm comforter of national security thrown in too). We congratulate God on how well God is meeting our needs. When we say, “You’re such a good God,” it sometimes sounds like comforting words spoken to a pet.”

I’m not the sort of person who wants to be pegged as a Brian-McLaren-quoter. Nor do I want to be accused of being the sort of person who defines leadership through Leadership Journal. Nevertheless, the article is noteworthy.

In it, Mr. McLaren points out something that many have been pointing out for years: modern worship music is too individualist and self-centered. The content isn’t exactly revolutionary, but the fact that it is in the pages of Leadership Journal is.

Our church plant, Missio Dei is starting its larger gathering this week, and because of this, we’ve had to wrestle particularly with the question of “How will we handle music?” We all want something creative, collaborative, and rich. We also want it to be theologically tight. Our goal is to have music hit on themes that are raised in Scripture. The funny thing is, it is incredibly difficult to find a good supply of music that fits. We want to write some of our own stuff–but the fact that existing stuff is so dang anemic and relatively un-diverse in terms of style and content is just plain sad.


August 31, 2004

I’m pretty happy right now. As you may know, I am a church planter, and starting a church is costly and difficult on many levels. Though we have a good deal of help, things are tight. Today, a friend of mine from Seminary (she’s in the Marriage in Family Therapy Program) lent me her drum kit for a while. She’s open to selling it to us as well. Almost all of our sound equipments and stuff has been provided with little to no cost to us. That makes me happy.

A word of wisdom to people in church plants or to those thinking about it: a wide network of friends and fans is worth a LOT. It is more valuable than money. With a network of friends (which is the reason, by the way, it is worthwhile to affiliate with a group–in my case the Baptist General Conference), you can get alot of stuff given or lent to you. You get encouragement and challlenge. You get an aweful lot. Don’t be a loner in this. The more people and churches you know, the better.

the Darkside of Leadership

August 31, 2004

This is a tool being developed by one of my professors at Bethel Seminary. He’s an insightful guy, and I appreciate his work a great deal. Check out the test below:

Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership Personal Inventory and Profile

And then buy his book:


Basically, the book explores the darker motivations all leaders have for leadership. We all have some drive to find psychological completeness through leadership. Healthy leaders realize their darker motivations and submit them, continually to Christ. That is what this book will help you to do. Many books may mention such stuff in chapters here and there, but this is the only one I know of that is devoted to the subject.


August 30, 2004


I’ve finished my can of Whoop Ass. I am, at best, ambivalent towards humanity. I believe Jones Soda Co. is guilty of false advertising. At least I got 310% of my daily Riboflavin.


You know, the church is alot like a can of Whoop Ass. It claims alot, but mostly fails to deliver. People stick around, because they think it is good for them, just as I, though disappointed in my can of Whoop Ass, take comfort in the fact that my Riboflavin needs are met for a few days.

Drinking a can of Whoop Ass

August 30, 2004

I’m sitting at my favorite coffee shop (2nd Moon on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis). Amy and I are both working on our laptops working on stuff (ESL prep for her, a sermon for me). I finished my coffee, and wanted something refreshing, so I went to their refrigeration unit that holds all their carbonated beverages. They have an energy drink called “Whoop Ass.” The label reads: “Whoop Ass Energy Drink: Revitalizes Attitude & Restores Faith in Mankind.” I bought this so called can of “whoop ass.” I’ve finished about half of the can, and I have to confess: I think I was ripped off. So far, I am still cynical. I remain skeptical as to the merits of mankind. I’ll let you know if something magically happens after consuming the rest of the liquid in my can of Whoop Ass.

I know the Muffin Man

August 30, 2004

My wife befriended a local guy named Julio Caesar who works at a nearby bakery. Julio is from Guatemala. Every couple of days, Julio brings bags full of bread or rolls or muffins, etc–stuff that wasn’t the right weight or shape or size. Hundreds of pounds of bread are thrown out every day, and Julio takes as much as he can share with friends and family. There is nothing wrong with the bread–it just isn’t quite up to specs for delivery to local grocery stores.

Usually Amy is home when Julio stops by. At such times, I stand, dumbly, unable to really understand them as they converse en Espanol. Today he stopped by when Amy wasn’t home. I tried to talk to Julio, but I couldn’t. We just couldn’t understand each other. I hate the fact that I studied Spanish for 2 years in high school and a semester in college, yet I can’t even have anything resembling a conversation with Julio. I need to take a class or something. Every American should know basic Spanish.

Slavery in Sudan

August 29, 2004

I just read an interesting article on Freezerbox about the political and religious conflict in Sudan. The article muddies the waters on the Sudan issue. I do not in any way wish to minimize the suffering of millions, but it is important that Christians understand that there may be complexities in this situation that make it more than just a clear-cut issue of fundamentalist Muslims enslaving and persecuting a bunch of Christians who just want to be left alone. This isn’t to say that I agree with the article (Freezerbox certainly is biased to dislike anything about which conservatives are sympathetic). In fact, I am not remotely qualified to make a statement one way or the other about the issues facing Sudan. Nevertheless, it is important for Christians to understand that the situation may not be as simple and clean as they’d like. And that, therefore, solutions might not be easily reached.

Heretical Anabaptists

August 28, 2004

I had a good chat on Thursday with a couple Jehovah’s Witnesses that came to my door. Before they got into their pitch too much, I shocked them by telling them that I agreed with where they were coming from (that things took a bad turn in the 4th century when the Roman State and the Church became intertwined. The difference between them and myself, I explained, was that they throw out the baby with the bathwater. Many evangelicals today have an anabaptist edge–feeling that the Constantinian turn was a mistake and that the collapse of Christendom is a relatively good thing. But we are orthodox; yet Jehovah’s Witnesses are not. They are heretical anabaptists. I am sympathetic to where they are coming from, but they just went too far.

We had a great conversation–something that is hard to have with a JW, since they are trained not to get into discussions–about what is wrong with the church today. I resonated with what the senior JW (the one training the college aged student who accompanied him) had to say. He had a firm grasp of the perils of trying to forge an alliance between the church and the American Way.

I am passionately Orthodox. I am jazzed about the doctrine of the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, etc., but something in me has to wonder…which is worse: to be, like this JW fellow, a heretic with a Kingdom mindset, or a horribly stereotypical sort of Christain–who is greedy, self-absorbed, consumeristic, and lacking in love, yet who still affirms the creed?

Don’t get me wrong. Orthodoxy is incredibly important. But there is more than Orthodoxy.

Microsoft makes me giggle

August 28, 2004

I was reading a CNet article (which you should definitely check out) about some of Microsoft’s multicultural blunders when I stumbled upon these sentences:

Another social blunder from Microsoft saw chanting of the Koran used as a soundtrack for a computer game and led to great offence to the Saudi Arabia government. The company later issued a new version of the game without the chanting, while keeping the previous editions in circulation because U.S. staff thought the slip wouldn’t be spotted, but the Saudi government banned the game and demanded an apology. Microsoft then withdrew the game.

The software giant managed to further offend the Saudis by creating another game in which Muslim warriors turned churches into mosques. That game was also withdrawn.


Misplaced Music

August 28, 2004

Some friends of mine started an internet radio station…but it is more than that. It’s also a co-op for local Twin Cities musicians. The name of this non profit local music co-op is Misplace Music. The cool thing is that the music is good. And they are working outside of the conventional system in order to foster creativity and enjoy music. Anyone can submit. Their style is ecclectic. That is almost too incredible for words. Even if you don’t care about the local Twin Cities music scene, you should listen to their web radio station to support the idea.

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