Word Made Flesh:: John 11

March 12, 2018

I enjoy deadheading roses. 

There's not a lot of thinking that is required and when you have a lot of roses it's a task that can keep you going for hours. If you're not familiar with what deadheading, it's when you turn on some Grateful Dead and eat some Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia while sitting in your rose garden. 

Well, it could be!!

It's actually where you cut the flower that has already bloomed and fallen away from the bush. It's an essential process in roses if you want there to be additional blooms. If you don't deadhead roses you'll get rose hips, which is great for making tea, but it won't help you get any more blooms. 

The rose hips contain seeds to create more rose bushes. These little pods take an incredible amount of energy from the rose bush and they actively block any more flowers from blooming. A part of the rose bush has to die and be removed so that the energy from the plant can be utilized into creating more flowers. 

This week we're going to be looking at death and resurrection. In a fascinating and shocking story from the Bible, a man named Lazarus who has been dead so long he's starting to stink from decomposition is called back to life. This pattern of death and resurrection is a major clue to where the story of Jesus is heading. 


Word Made Flesh:: John 8

March 5, 2018

The story from John that we're looking at this week ends with the statement, "go now and leave your life of sin". 

Based on our different church upbringing and backgrounds, this question can be either incredibly freeing or triggering. The story of the women caught in adultery is a BEAUTIFUL description of a women being reinstated back into her community. However, the statement still remains "go now, and leave your life of sin".  Are you like me that wants to skip this part of the story and scan Instagram instead, or are you pumped by the honesty and straightforwardness of the question? 


Word Made Flesh:: John 9

February 26, 2018

Listen to Leroy Barber talk about the man born blind, the disruptive healing of Jesus and the people who think they are in charge of the movement of God. 


Hillary McBride:: Becoming Fully Alive

February 19, 2018

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

- Galatians 5:16,17


It's not for no reason that Christians have struggled with the ways they view and interact with their bodies. Galatians 5 may be the most extensive and well known treatise about the dangers of the flesh and the virtues of the Spirit, but it's not the only one. 

There is deep truth in recognizing that there are ways of viewing and engaging with our bodies that are deeply problematic, but creating a sharp separation between the body and God's Spirit can be damaging. 

How do we understand our own bodies and experiences in light of Jesus Christ and bring them fully into our practices of worship and spirituality? What if we understand the Galatians and other biblical texts not as a condemnation of our physical selves, but a mindset of flesh versus a mindset of God's Spirit? 

I'm excited that we have Hillary McBride sharing with us on this topic and more!


Word Made Flesh:: John 5

February 16, 2018
Do you want to get well? 

The story from John that we're looking at this Sunday is centered around this primary question. 

Does it seem like a ridiculous question to you? 

If you have to ask this question than you can assume the person being asked the question has something in their life worth being made well from. There must be something wrong to be asked this question. So, who wouldn't want to be made well when something is obviously wrong? 

The most dangerous illness is the one we refuse to acknowledge. One of my professors once told me that people won't change unless the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change. Put in another way, we live with all kinds of dysfunction and pain in our lives and we don't face our dysfunction until its presence in our lives becomes unbearable. 

Unfortunately most of us are living proof that we can hobble along with so much pain, dysfunction and illness. The cost of acknowledging the pain is usually greater than pain itself. We make it work. We find solutions to carry our dysfunction along in the journey before we ever consider facing it. 

Can you live with dysfunction, pain and illness in your life? Of course you can. We all do in so many ways. 
So the question, "Do you want to get well?", isn't about living.
It's about living with freedom.
It's about living in the wholeness we were created for.
It's about moving through life lighter because we've stopped carrying our pain, illness and dysfunction along for the journey. It's a deeply powerful question that's obvious answer causes us to look deeply into our own hearts and motives. 

Do you want to get well? 


Word Made Flesh:: John 4

February 5, 2018

Today I have 4 different meetings with people. Met someone at a coffee shop. Met someone over lunch. Had a phone meeting and a meeting in someone's office. They've been in my calendar for a week now, so I've known they were coming. I was looking forward to each of them because I really, really enjoy meeting with people. I love hearing about how people are doing and the things they are passionate about. I learn something new or create a new connection of ideas that I've never connected before every time I meet with someone. 

I didn't walk into any of these meetings with the thought they could change my life. 

They were going to be good. They were going to be fun. They weren't going to take the course of my life in a new direction. 

Have you ever had a meeting that did that for you? The direction and expectations that you had for your life changed radically from before the meeting to after the meeting? 

Usually you don't know those meetings are coming. They catch you by surprise. You think you are going to talk about one thing and something totally different happens.

Maybe you get told that your position has been eliminated in the company. 
Maybe you are offered a new job in a new state. 
Maybe you are told that your parents love you and each other vey much, but they're getting a divorce. 
Maybe you are told that the test results are positive. 

When the trajectory of our story changes course it feels like everything is upside down. Positive and negative news both cause a disruption that make us re-evaluate our lives. We find out a lot about the foundation of our peace, hope and trust when our circumstances change radically. 

In this message we're looking at a very good and very disruptive meeting that Jesus had with someone that very few people thought he should be meeting with.  The fact that we know the story today hints at the impact of this meeting that started with two people and has sent our a ripple effect to hundreds of millions of people ever since. 


Word Made Flesh:: John 3

January 30, 2018

Way back when my wife and I were engaged I went to her grandmother's house for Thanksgiving. It was a great time of getting to know her extended family and over-eating, but the best moment was walking into the play room. It was a bunch of toys for the now fully grown grandkids and this Mork doll was part of the amazing collection. I didn't know they had even made Mork dolls, much less that one could still exist in the early 2000's. 

My fascination with the doll was noted and guess what showed up in my Christmas gift that year from Sally's grandmother that year?

If you haven't had the privilege of watching this amazing show that aired from 1978-1982, here's some of the things that really stuck. Robin Williams character Mork would sit on him head when asked to take a seat. He would great everyone by saying, "NaNu NaNu" with a very vulcan-like hand sign that turned into an awkward handshake. 

What was so great about the show is that it exposed through an alien culture and system how strange we all are. Every episode ended with a transmission from Mork to his home planet explaining some of our customs as extremely odd practices. By introducing a character who doesn't assume anything we do is normal, it shows us how strange the whole enterprise of being a human is. 

This week we're going to be looking at Jesus comment in John that we need to be "born again" or "born anew". What does it look like to orient your life in a way that takes nothing for granted? What if we take an alien's view of our lives and customs and normalize different values? How does Jesus invite us to make our experience of the world intentionally odd to see, speak and act in a way that brings mutually thriving to all?


Word Made Flesh:: John 2

January 22, 2018

A couple years ago I heard a short story on the radio that made me weep. 

If you don't have 4 spare minutes to listen to the audio in the link above, here's the gist. A father starts telling his daughter about Jesus and she becomes very interested. They read the Bible together most every night and she loves the part where it says, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." One day as they are driving by a church they see a cross and she asks, "What's that?"

The father realizes that he never quite got to that part of he Jesus story. He tried to explain the fact that they killed Jesus because of his message, but that's a hard concept for anyone to fathom, much less a 4 year old. 

As time goes on the young girl has the day off from school because of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. She's interested in who this man was and why they are celebrating him with a holiday. The father explains who MLK was and what his work was to help people not judge others by the color of their skin. The daughter makes the connection that this man is a preacher for Jesus and his message sounds a lot like "do unto others." The father agrees and says that he never really thought of it that way before. 

At the end she asks, "Did they kill him too?"

We're tracking this message series in John all the way until Easter. The road we are walking with the life of Jesus will end with him suffering a political enemies death on a cross. We can try and explain it away by talking about the barbaric nature of the Romans and how they couldn't deal with any kind of disruption, but that's a version of Jesus life that is far too sanitized. 

Jesus was a radical. Jesus made people that were comfortable in their religious system very uncomfortable. To truly experience these stories as they were told, written and lived, we need to feel the discomfort too. Jesus is breaking social and religious norms on purpose to cause us to ask why they are there in the first place. Life has a way of creating these pillars in our heart and mind that were never meant to be load-bearing, and the disruption of Jesus calls that into question. While it can be confusing and at times violent, the space that is created afterwards is always better, clearer and more able to engage with the complexities of the world. 

So, let's get disrupted towards peace together. 


Word Made Flesh:: John 1

January 17, 2018

You may think that pastors are equally comfortable with all books in the Bible, but not so much. 

The Gospel of John makes me uncomfortable. I much prefer the overlap and safety of Matthew, Mark and Luke ad how they talk about the Jesus story. 

If you're not familiar, the book of Mark is likely the earliest written and its stories are almost entirely repeated in Matthew and Luke. There are subtle shifts in how they tell these stories, but the details are largely all the same in the 3 books. And then John comes in and blows the whole thing up. There are stories in John that aren't in the other 3 books. It tells the stories differently and the focus from the beginning is the divinity of Christ. 

When you read and teach out of Matthew, Mark and Luke the overlap helps you more quickly know where the story is going. You pick up patterns faster because the stories sounds familiar, even when you're in a different book. 

If I'm honest, I like the security that familiar stories offer. I feel more in control when I can anticipate the direction, even when the story itself is uncomfortable. Looking at a story that is largely known in unfamiliar ways throws off my equilibrium. I have to get used to being uncomfortable.

My hope throughout the entire message series on John is that we commit to celebrate the discomfort of it all. Jesus came and brought disruption for the sake of real and lasting peace. We need to have parts of our own lives disrupted so that real peace can ever take root. 

If you feel like you're pretty familiar with the story of Jesus, but are lacking peace in certain areas in your life, then maybe there's a disruption in the story of Jesus you haven't experienced before. I hope you'll join us starting this Sunday!


Donna Barber:: The New Year

January 10, 2018

Welcome to 2018! Donna Barber brings a message to welcome in the new year.