06/21…of the day

Verse of the Day:
“You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
The sacrifices of God area broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise. ”
~Ps 51:16-17

Quote of the Day:
“So what inspired Paul to be a hopeful realist? The answer is the cross and empty tomb of Jesus. The grotesque violence of the crucifixion explodes our ideals about life. The raucous cry of dereliction shows us that Jesus Himself teetered on the edge of disillusionment with God. But Paul had learned that the cross is not the terminal stop in following the way of Jesus. Ending up on a cross is inevitable in following our Lord, but to follow Jesus to the cross is to exit out of a tomb. The resurrection is the sign that new creation is in the works, on the way and sweetly bursting out of the cracks into our present sphere. The resurrection infuses our struggling, cross-bearing lives with hope that all things will one day be made new. The resurrection makes hopeful realism possible … and cynicism obsolete.”
~“How to be a Realist Without Loosing Your Soul” by Andrew Byers in Relevant Magazine

Lyrics of the Day:
“Would you fall to pieces
If I never came back?
Tear it all apart
Til there was nothing left
Would you fall to pieces
If I never came back…
Spent so long waiting here”
~“Fall to Pieces” by Matt Nathanson

currently listening to “Barton Hollow” by The Civil Wars – STILL slightly obsessed with “Poison & Wine”.



11/15…of the day

Verse of the Day:
“The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
He rescues them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”
~Ps 34:17-18

Quote of the Day:
“It is not enough to do God’s work; we must do it in God’s way. And that way is no more evident than in Jesus. We cannot keep justifying our methods by saying so long as people are “coming to Christ,” it doesn’t matter how we do it. The division between our message and our methods is a false dichotomy.”
~Glenn Packium “The Irony of Christian Celebrity” in Relevant Magazine

Lyrics of the Day:
“You tipped my world up on its side,
but it’s all downhill from here.
Mountain tops, level like parking lots
Cause it’s all downhill from here.”
~“All Downhill from Here” by Amy Kuney

currently listening to “The Bakman Tapes Part Two” by Susie Suh – Particularly love “In the Moonlight”


Original blog post here

11/03…of the day

Verse of the Day:
“How was its foundation poured,
and who set the cornerstone,
While the morning stars sang in chorus
and all the angels shouted praise?
And who took charge of the ocean
when it gushed forth like a baby from the womb?
That was me! I wrapped it in soft clouds,
and tucked it in safely at night.”
~Job 38:6-9

Quote of the Day:
“The point is not to live rightly by some detailed code of conduct—far from it. What I am speaking of is graceful life—the free will of humankind drenched to the bone in God’s abundant grace. Some people say there’s no freedom in religion. Jesus said there’s no freedom in enslavement to our own selfish desires. Time after time we find ourselves returning to the prison cells where we no longer belong. Confinement and legalism can be comforting, but only for a while. Sooner or later we realize we are no more capable of earning our salvation than a smelly old sock is of walking to the washer and cleaning itself. Grace beckons each of us; true joy and freedom are its constant companions, inviting us to live as we were meant to live; inviting us to live as we desire to live. This is the invitation to the life of a graceful Christian, and we’d be foolish not to accept.”
~Excerpt from “Dirty Grace” in Relevant Magazine by Luke Barnhart

Video of the Day:

So beautiful!  (Both the song and the video)

currently listening to “Incredible Machine” by Sugarland


07/28…of the day

Verse of the Day:
““May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God’s gift can be bought! 21 You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God. ”
~Acts. 8:20-21

Quote of the Day:
“There comes a time when you can only run so far from Love. And then, he catches you. Love is not what you think. No one can fathom His ways. Oh, we would like to. But Love is the greatest mystery known to man, the most unstoppable force. God is Love. God is Holy. God—we cannot understand Him. He is the love for which the world looks. The love for which the world desires. We look for Him in a thousand ways, in a thousand places! He is not a feeling, or a philosophy, or an idea. He is the only one who matters. We must pursue Him, because He has pursued us. He chases us in the darkest times, in the silence. We wonder what Love is, but there He stands. His love does not change, His love does not stop. In our most unworthy times, He is there—with His undying, unconditional acceptance—reckless, even.

We have scorned Him in every way. Each day we bring Him fresh disappointment. Too many days we have turned our backs on Him, ignoring His words. Unworthy, we break His heart. But always, He accepts, casting our faults as far as the east is from the west.

We will never love, real love, until we have received His. We will never live life more than empty, unless we live life following Him. Sometimes faith may feel blind, the dance unsure, as He takes the lead. But through it all, we must listen to the whisper that says, ‘Trust me.’ ”
~”A Love that Chases” in Relevant Magazine by Karissa Sechrist

Lyrics of the Day:
“If it’s gonna be a rainy day
There’s nothing we can do to make it change
We can pray for sunny weather
But that won’t stop the rain
Feeling like you got no place to run
I can be your shelter ’til it’s done
We can make this last forever
So please don’t stop the rain ”
~“Please Don’t Stop the Rain” by James Morrison

currently listening to “MonsterMonster” by The Almost


04/06…of the day

Verse of the Day:
“How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter
in the shadow of your wings. ”
~Ps 36:7

Quote of the Day:
“I see that His plans for me are greater than anything I could have imagined. God hears my cry for significance and whispers, ‘I put those longings in your heart because I have plans for you. I gave you that voracious hunger for greatness and beauty and purpose because I’m calling you to serve Me and reveal My purpose.’”
~ Shirin Taber in “Trapped by the Search for Significance” in Relevant Magazine

Lyrics of the Day:
When your faith is stretched so thin
That you can see right through your soul

And you cant find a nickel to buy a smile cuz all ur pockets all got holes
You wanna shut the door and
Hide before the day can get much worse
I wanna be the one you reach for first”
~“Fall Into Me” by Sugarland

currently listening to “Songs for You, Truths for Me” by James Morrison

02/21…of the day

Verse of the Day:
“How the king rejoices in your strength, O Lord!
He shouts with joy because you give him victory.
For you have given him his heart’s desire;
you have withheld nothing he requested..”
~Ps 21:1-2

Quote of the Day:
“Redemption is about our Creator processing the wounds of our lives, the scars on our faces, the evils we have endured and turning them into an even grander story of grace. That means God takes what should have destroyed us and does more than fix it—He redeems it.
~ Ed Gungor “Damaged Goods” in Relevant Magazine

Video of the Day:

Love it!  The entire speech was spectacular  you can watch it here

currently listening to “The Fall” by Norah Jones

01/07…of the day

Today it’s simple

read this article by Jonathan Merritt for Relevant Magazine.

The smell of hops and corned beef clung to the air. Green, red and blue Christmas lights blinked faithfully along the cracking wooden beams that spanned the ceiling. On the wall hung propellers, dimly lit lanterns, and an oddly placed oil painting of Robert E. Lee. A mysterious paper airplane whizzed through the air and slid to a stop on the sticky bar, which probably contributed to the sanitation score that was displayed all too publicly. The floor creaked. The bartenders hurried. The Christians drank?

Walking into a bar across the street from NC State University to attend a church-sanctioned outreach event didn’t even feel real to me. It was eerie and unsettling. I thought organized Christianity and a sticky, stinky, crowded beer joint were mutually exclusive. It was mixing the unmixables. Oil and water. Donald and Rosie. I kept waiting for a camera crew from Punk’d to bust in and have a good laugh with everyone.

This may not sound that extreme to you, but I grew up in the bible belt where children have to change the lyrics to “99 Bottles of Beer.” For me, this was beyond unconventional. Yet, as strange as I may have felt, mixing ministry with alcohol is losing its taboo as many progressive and emergent leaders are rethinking the place of drinking in both personal life and ministry.

I first ran across this sort of thing while surfing the websites of churches in the Acts 29 Network, a community headed up by Pastor Mark Driscoll of Seattle’s Mars Hill Church. At the time, I admit it seemed like a fringe movement, something that I would never personally encounter. But, nearly two years later, after moving from Atlanta to Raleigh, I sat and watched a segment on NBC’s Today show called “Beer and Bibles: New Churches Lure Young Members” that described a St. Louis congregation doing outreach in a local pub. Without looking hard, I found other churches with similar methodologies in almost every state with ties to various denominations and even Roman Catholicism. My interest was piqued, and I decided to see firsthand what this was all about.

I didn’t have to look far to find “Theology on Tap,” hosted by Raleigh’s Vintage 21 church. On the second Tuesday of every month, leaders invite friends and members of the community to come to Mitch’s Tavern for discussions about life and spirituality, with hopes of opening up individuals to the Gospel. Lead Pastor, Tyler Jones, says that the event is “an entry point for someone who would never go to church otherwise to sit down in a non-threatening environment like a pub and have a conversation about God.”

There was plenty of conversation, and much of it was surprisingly frank. The list of suggested topics included the connection between the mouth and the heart, the nature of God’s revelation and the effectiveness of prayer. “Our generation is spiritually-inclined; they love deep content,” says Jones. “So we don’t give them watered-down spirituality.” Looking around the room, I saw a mixture of what Vintage calls God-doubters and God-seekers engaging with Christ-followers over a pint of their favorite brew. The rules are simple: “Have a good time and drink responsibly.”

Jones admits feedback has been mixed, and I didn’t have to look hard to find an assortment of opinions. Heather, a Theology on Tap regular, believes that by being more open in this way, the Church seems more approachable to outsiders. “People sometimes feel they can’t come to church with their questions,” she says. “Those questions are welcome here.” Her friends agree, noting that they have had the opportunity to plant seeds, build relationships and invite friends who would otherwise not come to church, all the while challenging people’s preconceptions about Christianity.

But I also spoke with Drew, a former Vintage member who left the congregation over a year ago. He questions the wisdom of hosting events literally on the campus of a major University where drinking is “almost encouraged.” While he had positive things to say about the leadership, he admitted their ministry approach left him and his wife feeling confused. “They love the poor, they preach the word, but at times they overemphasize their preferences at the expense of their message,” he says.

Drew is not the only one who sees alcohol as a wisdom issue. Dr. Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, is head of a vibrant school only a few miles from Mitch’s Tavern. He is an evangelical who is opposed to alcohol consumption and the mingling of drinking with ministry: “Do I call it sin? No. Do I think it is unwise? Yes.”

By making unwise decisions, he thinks some might be crossing a line to being like the world. “Do I need to smoke to reach the smoker?” Akin asks. “I don’t think you have to do this to be an effective witness.” The seminary President seems less concerned with the what and more concerned with the why. As he sees it, to make this type of leap in ministry is to do so unnecessarily.

Tyler and his leaders understand this concern, and are quick to note that they also network, plant churches, disciple people and encourage authentic worship. He points to the 900,000 lost people in his community and remarks, “We need the largest cast-net we can find.” For Vintage 21, the net being cast is merely one component in their effort to evangelize in a way that discourages legalism. They believe this approach is not radical because it is what Jesus himself did. Jones says, “If you study Jesus’ missionality and seek to mirror him, you will be led to do events like Theology on Tap. The counter-question is ‘Jesus did this. Why don’t you?’”

They note passage upon passage where Jesus went into the culture in places comparable to a modern-day bar to minister. He dined with sinners; He drank with sinners (see Luke 7). Since we live in a post-Christian world where people are not always familiar with and may be hostile to our message, they believe we must also travel into the culture even if it ruffles some religious feathers. For this reason, Jones describes his church as “Biblically conservative, but culturally liberal.”

Modern believers like the sound of that. They want a fresh and personal faith that speaks their language. As a result, there is now a tendency to question traditional ideology. Perhaps it is just the sour taste that the artifact of fundamentalist separatism left in their mouths; they certainly aren’t cultural separatists. So, the rethinking of traditional ministry tenets makes movements like this emblematic of the larger emerging mindset. Even among bastions of conservatism, we are beginning to see re-evaluation. Many well-known pastors, who in the past preached drinking as abominable sin, have now softened their stance and discourage it as unwise.

Progressives are quick to point out that this is not a recent phenomenon and feel they gain strength from the stance seen in church history. The Vintage 21 church website calls their event, “a return to the days of Martin Luther.” But it was Mark Driscoll who effectively threw down the historical gauntlet on the issue in his book Radical Reformission (Zondervan) in a chapter titled, “The Sin of Light Beer.” In it, Driscoll points out that many church fathers from Saint Gall to John Calvin were quite progressive on the issue and openly drank. But opponents point out that distillation is a modern phenomenon and with the horrendous destruction the alcohol industry causes in our social context, to compare it with church fathers is to compare apples and oranges.

Driscoll counters that a proper response is to redeem it for God’s intended purpose. “Everything and anything can and will be used wrongly for sin,” he says. “Simply because something is used sinfully does not mean it should be abandoned.” He says this applies to all of life including the internet, food, and God’s word¬–not just alcohol. It is this social-redemption that progressive leaders are implementing into their ministerial philosophies, hoping that others will follow.

But will they? Are these modes a whiff of shifting thought or a sophomoric fad soon to be outgrown? Will they prove to be a depiction of tomorrow’s faith or nothing more than yesterday’s news?

I am reminded of a story told about Albert Einstein who was giving a Physics exam. After the exam was handed out a student said, “Professor Einstein. The questions on this year’s exam are the same questions from last year’s exam!” To which Einstein replied, “That is ok. The answers this year are different.” Indeed, we have found ourselves in perpetual change.

Though we have been asked the same basic questions (How can we worship effectively; reach the lost; gain a sense of Christian community?), from time to time we give different answers.   In recent church history, earth-toned paisley ties fell off the necks of pastors and were replaced by mock turtlenecks and open-collared shirts of every color in the rainbow. Hymnals and organs mysteriously disappeared, perhaps auctioned off to pay for screens on which to project flashy sermon notes and melodic praise-song lyrics. “Sunday school” morphed into “small groups,” exposition began to sound more like conversation, and 3-day revivals went the way of the dinosaur.

The last 20-years of Christian ministry has seen incredible change, each year producing a brand of pop-Christianity seemingly distinct from the year before it. One cannot help but wonder what will be next. What is the next change, the next shift, the next ingredient in 21st-century ministry?

Driscoll and Jones believe this is just the beginning of what will prove to be a significant shift of thought on alcohol. Others like Akin fail to see the frothy future envisioned by emergent leaders. He bluntly predicts, “Within a decade, this movement will decline.” Like all predictions, only time will tell.

In the meantime, both sides agree that unity can be maintained even if there is disagreement over methodology. Our prayer should be that of Jesus: “That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21, TNIV). Let those who disagree do so in love.

“Rethinking Drinking” by Jonathan Merritt