An Impossible Challenge: $1 for 1 Day

Today is World Poverty Day. Surely you’ve heard by now statistics like “Over 1.25 BILLION people in the world live on less than $1 a day.” Yes… that’s Billion, with a “B.”

I wanted to challenge myself and friends to get through the day on only $1 per day… to try and identify with brothers and sisters in Christ around the world suffering extreme poverty… But it’s impossible. It is simply impossible to even force yourself into that kind of poverty as an experiment in empathy…

Here’s what I mean: Have you ever let yourself identify with that harsh reality? Not just in a “poor them” kind of sympathy, but really try to imagine that bare bones existence?

  • To be honest, if you happen to see this via twitter, tumblr, or facebook, then you’ve probably already exceeded your daily allowance – what we spend on the cheapest data plan for cell phones or internet service at home is close to, if not more than, $1 per day…
  • Imagine all of your utilities are free – electricity, water, sewer (forget about TV, netflix, DVR, etc)…
  • Imagine the cost to get to work or school is free – car payment, gas money, insurance, tag fees, transportation fees…
  • While we’re at it and since we’ve mentioned a place to live, work, and get an education, imagine all of those things are free too – mortgage or rent, tuition and fees, any qualifications or even basic wardrobe and hygiene needed to be employable (let alone successful)…
  • Imagine your health needs – insurance, medications, vitamins, even something as simple as clean water… not just branded and from a bottle, but from the tap… that’s all free too…
  • And we haven’t even mentioned FOOD…not just $1 item on a “value meal” but food for the whole day every day.

We can’t even pick ONE of those things and try to manage $1 a day in ONE category! And even if all of those things were “free,” (which is the best we can imagine, since we can’t escape these obligations to banks, service providers, and employers for the day… we can’t unlearn our education or undo the physical and mental development resulting from a lifetime of proper nutrition and basic healthcare.) we still can barely stretch our imaginations to picture only $1 a day left to live on for everything else…

So, again, It’s only 8am and as I drink my second cup of coffee, finish a quick blog post on my laptop after reflecting on my daily reading I downloaded from my church’s website and a tweet about #WorldPovertyDay from my smart phone… I realize I CAN’T imagine life on $1 a day… I can’t even fake it…

It’s simply impossible to fathom… it’s a tragic injustice… in light of all the buzz lately about “Occupy Wall Street” and everywhere else… people bent out of shape about the obscene gap between the 1% and the 99%… Let’s stop focusing on ourselves “deserving more” and remember that well over a Billion people live on less that $1 a day and that pretty much anyone in the U.S. already has more than 80-90% of the world’s population – an obscene gap exists between our daily reality, no matter how budget-conscious, and the struggle for survival of Billions of people on this planet who happened to be born at a different latitude and longitude than we did…

This isn’t about feeling guilty about what we have – it’s about doing something about the fact that so many people DON’T have. It’s not about “UNDOING” something temporarily in our lives – it’s about DOING something for the sake of eternity in other people’s lives.

I can’t even imagine…

But I know something has to be done.

Being Right. (an iota of difference?)

I haven’t blogged in quite a while… I’ll be turning this site into a portfolio and future blog posts will be on my new tumblr (you can comment on this post here, since I can’t get my wordpress comments working…

2 Tweets this morning finally pushed me over the edge in something I’ve been rolling around in my heart and mind lately…

1. Rob Bell is moving to LA to write a new show for ABC with LOST’s exec-producer (link from @jonacuff http://www.jonacuff.com/stuffchristianslike/2011/09/sclq-new-show-from-rob-bell-exec-producer-of-lost/ )

2. T.D. Jakes was invited to the next Elephant Room (link from @challies http://www.challies.com/articles/macdonald-jakes-the-elephant-in-the-room )

Now I’m NOT saying I do not personally hold the orthodox view on Heaven, Hell, or the Trinity… I do. And I’m NOT saying the church shouldn’t guard orthodoxy and hold Christian leaders, especially Pastors, to a higher standard…

BUT my question is: WHAT MUST A PERSON BELIEVE TO BE A CHRISTIAN? TO BE SAVED? TO BE PART OF THE CHURCH AND FELLOWSHIP AS A BROTHER OR SISTER IN CHRIST?

Now, I can certainly see biblical arguments for the above hot topics, but is there a biblical justification for not being sure about eternal hell or how the mystery of the trinity works being worthy of declaring someone “not a Christian”? (Again, I am fully aware of Church history, creeds and councils, and these things making “an iota of difference”… a little seminary trivia… homo- vs homoi- )

I grew up a mega-church staff kid and realized that without being told so, per se, my understanding was that a person must be “right” about certain things in order to go to heaven and really love Jesus, otherwise being wrong meant you were going to hell and didn’t really love Jesus. (and being “right” naturally meant being in agreement with me/my denomination/church) The kicker was that those non-negotiables were NOT directly about faith in Jesus… they were things like baptism, maybe even communion, and the end times/eternity, for example…

This has been especially difficult, even in my own church, as my 5 yr-old daughter voluntarily prayed a beautiful prayer of repentance and lordship and desperately wants a personal relationship with Jesus, but I was plagued by doubts of whether she would be deemed “legit” and worthy of the baptism she also desires… This is heartbreaking and tragic. Like I felt pressure to not allow my daughter to follow Christ, falling in love with Him because I was worried that even though she could answer all the questions “right”, maybe she didn’t REALLY understand everything “right.”

Has “being right” been elevated over “being in love” and “having faith”?

Love & War & The Sea In Between (FREE ALBUM)

You. Want. This. Album.

Josh Garrels has blessed the world with another free gift (click here for a previous post linking to his other freebies) – He felt lead by God to give the new album away for FREE for a full year! It is his act of faith, a personal year of Jubilee of sorts…

So, how do you give away one of the best albums of the year, especially in “Christian music” (sorry, but we all know that Christian music is just now starting to rise to the level of transcendence it rightfully deserves). Somehow he makes his eclectic sound not only natural, but spiritual – as if anything less wouldn’t do justice in expressing his thoughts and feelings for the Lord of all Creation. Josh Garrels is the real deal. Yes, talented, but gifted wold be a better description. Because His ability is clearly a spiritual gift that he, in turn, uses as his offering of praise back to God. Plus he freely gives it as his gift to us as well. Did I mention that it is completely FREE? Read about it all in his own words.

Listen here and download it in just about any format you want (I’m a nerd so I grabbed the FLAC for listening while I work and lossless for my truck, phone, iPod).

So, what do you do? What are your gifts? How are you sharing them with the world to the glory of God?

Thank you Josh, not just for the great album, integrity and creativity in Christian music, but for your living example of walking by faith and your unspoken challenge to trust and glorify God in all we do.

So GET it. SHARE it. BE encouraged. WORSHIP God. FOLLOW The Spirit. REST in Him. STEP OUT in faith.

Expose’ on Teen Sex & Dating (Free Kindle & Nook)

A couple of weeks ago I was able to meet a few people deep in the trenches of ministry with teenagers while attending a meeting for TH1NK, the student line of books from NavPress. Andy Braner was one of those passionate servant leaders. In addition to being a writer, Andy runs Camp Kivu, an intensely focused time of outdoor adventure designed to instill a passionate Christian worldview in teenagers. Andy has devoted his life to next-generation discipleship.

His new book “An Expose on Teen Sex and Dating: What’s Really Going On and How to Talk About It” (NavPress) is intended to give parents and youth workers a glimpse behind closed doors, so to speak. Download a free copy to your Kindle or Nook this week only (ends May 22). As a parent of three little girls and former youth pastor, I’d say this is a must read – or at least check it out. I haven’t finished it yet, (I’m reading it in bits on my phone’s Kindle App) but I appreciate the urgency of Braner’s straightforward approach AND that from page one he does two things:

1. He admits that there is no specific biblical model for dating, because dating didn’t exist! He then proceeds to speak to biblical truths that are present, primarily that God is sovereign over every tiny detail of our lives – this is the central reality even in dating.

2. He humorously confesses that he’s not going to “Kiss Dating Goodbye” as the only or best God-honoring solution for young Christian teenagers… and neither are most teenagers!

This isn’t just his personal musing either. Two years of research went into this book (In addition to the daily interaction already mentioned). So grab your free copy on Kindle or Nook and spread the word while it’s still free to other parents and youth workers (feel free to purchase physical copies of the book too). This is a conversation that we need to be equipped to recognize and address from a biblical perspective – whether or not anyone agrees with every point in this book (or any Christian book, for that matter) is not the primary issue. The great thing is that Andy is seeking to open the eyes of our generation to what is happening in the next generation and how to guide young men and women through this ever-present issue in a way that honors Christ. (It’s a conversation, that quite frankly, parents and churches just aren’t very good at having).

Thoughts? Comments? Other recommendations? @JRMaxfield

Seryn… WOW.

Seryn. Think Anathallo from Texas. …Sufjan, Sigur Ros, The Low Anthem, Mumford & Sons, even Guster… BUT, here’s the kicker, all in worship. Seryn is hands down the best thing to come out of the Texas Indie scene since Explosions In The Sky. The closest comparisons would be hints of Josh Garrels or Gungor’s eclectic and atmospheric folk/worship. I can’t get over the creative resurgence in Christian Indie music. It’s like a second Renaissance. Creatively and theologically, there is a sweeping trend through our culture… the Church is seeking truth and beauty and expressing awe with integrity. No more shirking spiritual labels, yet still refusing to be pigeonholed by any genre. Unapologetic in faith and artistry, the result is wholly inspiring.

Can’t wrap your mind around that? Listen here. (Click on the arrow in the music layer for a free MP3 download of “We Will All Be Changed.”) Snag the 180gm white vinyl and digital copy of the whole album…

Freebies: Matt Jackson & Catalyst (no relation)

There are so many great free resources up for grabs right now that I thought I’d share a few…

The Healer from Matt Jackson on Vimeo.

First, this is seriously good (and gets better with each track – the last two being flat-out incredible). Birmingham’s own Matt Jackson is giving away downloads of his new EP (and you can pre-order the vinyl). Further evidence that great things are happening in the world of Christian songwriting. Think Indie-Rock meets Southern-Gospel (complete with horn section as the killer album art suggests). Not only is this quality songwriting, it was mixed by Grammy-winner Darrell Thorp (If you’ve heard the last several albums from Paul McCartney, Beck, Radiohead, or Thom Yorke, then you’re familiar with his work… yeah, he’s the real deal.) Musically, this album sounds nothing like any of those (that would be impossible), but the quality is that caliber. So go get Matt Jackson’s new EP and spread the word at iammattjackson.com

Also, Catalyst is giving away tons of free stuff just for signing up for info about Catalyst in Atlanta (October 5-7), including ebooks (Veneer, Gracenomics, more), music (Thad Cokrell, Seryn, Gungor, John Mark McMillan, Aaron Ivey, Aaron Keys, Lecrae, Sleeping at Last… more), and their “best of” from past speakers (Andy Stanley, Bill Hybels, Don Miller, John Maxwell, more)… too much to name, but some stuff worth checking out… seriously it’s a ton of stuff. And if you’ve never been to a Catalyst leadership event… it’s quite an experience. Think about it.

Do We Appeal to the Flesh in Faith? (Francis Chan)

Francis Chan takes a break during his video shoot with BluefishTV to share his reflections on the intense faith and sacrificial life of Believers. Take a minute to consider God’s call on His Church around the world and in America. Is there any difference in what is expected of people in the West and in the Rest?
Is your faith real?
Is it intensely distinct?
Are you different from the world around you?

Check out another great video moment with Chan at the RightNow conference, speaking on the “New Middle Way” (And if you’re not familiar with BluefishTV and RightNow check out this video)

Yep. It’s a Book About Books (Besides the Bible)

Read any good books lately? Something you’d call a must for someone’s summer reading list, vacation book, or bucket list reading? Besides the Bible is a new book making its case for the 100 most significant books shaping Christian culture. Sure, you have classic Christian masterpieces like Dante’s Inferno, but it’s not just “Christian” books – it’s everything from Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree to The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I’m intrigued. And this is a time I really wished my comments were working… I’d love to know what everyone is reading/recommends.

Click here for the official site or check it further (and maybe pick it up) at Amazon.

Easter Sunday: Skeleton Bones

HE IS ALIVE!

The resurrection is not just a historical fact, theological truth, or future promise. It is a present reality. It is more than mere doctrine, it is definitive. This is the core of our life as a Christ-followers: New Life. Abundant and Eternal.

We worship the resurrected Son of God. And He has breathed His immortal Spirit into our mortal bodies. By His shed blood, the dead have been granted life. The sinful has been made holy. His love is our heart beat. We live on every word that proceeds from His mouth. Live in this power and freedom as you worship your risen King today!

“Skeleton Bones”

Peel back our ribs again
and stand inside of our chest.
We just wanna’ love you
We just wanna’ love you

Peel back the veil of time
And let us see You with our naked eyes
We just wanna’ love you
We just wanna’ love you

We want your blood to flow inside our body
We want your wind inside our lungs
We just wanna’ love you
We just wanna’ love you

Skeleton bones stand at the sound of eternity
On the lips of the found
And gravestones roll
To the rhythm of the sound of you
Skeleton bones stand at the sound of eternity
On the lips of the found
So separate those doors
And let the son of resurrection in.

Oh let us adore the
Son of Glory drenched in love
Open up your gates before him
Crown Him, stand Him up

Saturday: Closer

“God is dead.” Nietzsche penned his infamous 3-word sentence almost 130 years ago. What he meant was that religious belief in God no longer had a place in society – we didn’t need Him anymore. Or at least, mankind did not live in recognition of a God from whom absolute morality and justice was found. Look at his words:

“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us?”

The irony, we know, is that while it is true that mankind largely lives as if God does not exist, or at least as if He does not have authority and power in our lives and the world, we need Him desperately. Though not as he meant it, Nietzsche’s words ring partially true of the Christian faith and of this holy weekend. He did not remain dead, but in some divine mystery, God became flesh and willingly died at the hands of sinful men. The Creator was murdered by His creation. What on earth is man capable of doing to make right this unthinkable sin of killing God metaphorically, but even more so of killing Him literally?

Nothing. There is nothing we can do.

It hit me a few years ago, that between Good Friday and Easter Sunday exists 24 hours of Saturday. For one day, Jesus lay in that tomb. The stone had not yet been rolled away. God… was… dead… Not in every sense, don’t get bent out of shape theologically if that sounds blasphemous to you. What I mean is simply this: Can you wrap you heart and mind around the historical fact that on Saturday, following the crucifixion, Jesus the one and only holy begotten Son of God was dead. Man had literally killed the divine: Jesus being fully God and fully man… Dead.

And there was no hope for anyone. What was a sacrificial death on the cross without the resurrection?

It is the Light breaking forth on Sunday that is our hope. It is by the power of His resurrection in us that we too experience newness of life. If the story ended with the cross and the tomb and a stone rolled over it, we would have merely sealed our own damned fate – eternally guilty of not only rebelling against God, but murdering His own Son. By His grace alone did He overcome the world and give us hope of redemption.

Don’t rush from the cross to the empty tomb. Meditate today on the fact that Jesus laid in the tomb, His body lifeless, as He waged war on sin and death. Yes, we know that tomorrow is coming. But today, the shadow of death was darkest as Christ was lain in a tomb, wrapped in grave clothes, and sealed in the earth by stone, guarded by Roman soldiers.

We need more than philosophy, science, morality, inspiration, or even religion. Today, we need a God who is real. A God who not only loved us enough to endure the cross on Friday and conquer the grave on Sunday, but to lay in that grave, burying our sins on Saturday – forever removing Death’s sting.

There is nothing we could do to ever draw closer to the God we have sinned against. We are helpless. We are forever in debt to sin unless our ransom is paid. But by His grace, He came to us, not just as the promised Messiah, but through the power of His Spirit, revealed in the gospel and received by faith. We have been set free. And we owe Him the very lives He has given to us!

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
(James 4:8-10 ESV)

“Closer”

Come closer, closer to me.
Find me broken, find me bleedin’
cause I need more now than a fairy tale,
a god who lives in a book.
I need someone real.

So would you come?
Would you come?
If i begged you, would you come closer to me now?

Come closer, closer to me.
Find me broken, find me on my knees,
cause I need more now than philosophy.
Some god in outer space doesn’t mean anything to me.

So would you come?
Would you come?
If I begged you, would you come closer to me now?
Would you come?
Would you come?
If i begged you, would you come closer to me now?

Son of David, do not pass me by,
cause I am naked,
I’m poor and I’m blind.
Son of david, don’t pass me by,
cause I am naked,
I’m poor and I’m blind.

Maundy Thursday: How He Loves

So, it wasn’t until the last couple of years that I knew what “Maundy” Thursday even meant. It comes from the Latin word for “Commandment.” So Commandment Thursday…. What is that all about? And what does it have to do with Easter Week? (Maybe you already know this – but it was a big deal for me.)

On the day before His crucifixion, Jesus met one last time with His disciples. As they celebrated the Passover at this “Last Supper,” Jesus said to His disciples: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 ESV)

The world should see the love of Christ in our lives as His disciples. That’s how they’ll know we follow Him. Not because we go to church on Sundays (or at least on Easter). Love. The Way Christ loved us. That’s what we should be known for. Deep. Passionate. Love for God and for each other. Is this what it means for us today to be a disciple, a follower of Christ? If we’ve turned it into anything else, I pray that this Easter weekend, we let Christ redirect our hearts’ desire.

A few weeks ago, we saw John Mark McMillan at Vinyl – a small bar venue in Atlanta, GA. The worship of our Resurrected Savior was undeniable. And I’m sure the bartenders had never experienced anything like the raucous praise filling the dark room and pouring out onto West Peachtree Street… flooding downtown with the love of Christ.

So for the next few days I wanted to post a video and lyrics from John Mark McMillan that fit the events of this Easter Weekend. What better way to kick things off than with:

“How He Loves”

He is jealous for me
Loves like a hurricane
I am a tree
Bending beneath
The weight of his wind and mercy
When all of a sudden
I am unaware of these
Afflictions eclipsed by glory
And I realize how beautiful you are
And how great your afflictions for me

Oh how he loves us so
Oh how he loves us
How he loves us so

Yea He loves us
Oh how

We are his portion
And he is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in his eyes
If grace is an ocean we’re all sinking
So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
And my heart burns violently inside of my chest
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about the way
He loves us

Oh how he loves us so
Oh how he loves us
How he loves us so

Yea He loves us
Oh

Radical Together: THE GOAL IS CHRIST

This is worth spending our lives on. This goal. This God.

David’s second book is about to release:
Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God

For anyone who has misunderstood or worried that others might misunderstand where David / Radical is “coming from,” (you can read my own confession and watch the video for the first book here) watch this video from Taylor Robinson @ SixFootFive Productions. I think this should not only clear up any confusion, but hopefully stir up your passion to see disciples made of all nations. (And speaking of, be on the look out for some great stuff from DMI/disciple-making international… more on that soon.)

Church Planting

Over Christmas break, I had the honor of being a very small part of a bigger movement of church planting – something I’m deeply passionate about. If you know me, you know that for a couple of years we prayed earnestly about if and where God may be leading our family and some close friends (the Mitchell family) to plant a church… or more specifically, hopefully spark a network of multiplying house churches. After trips to a couple of cities and much prayer, fasting, and research, God made it clear that at the very least, it was not the right time. (For now, God has called me to write and to assist other churches and ministries in that capacity, so that is what I did here – help create the content for a website designed for churches, church planters, and ministry leaders.) But the desire to see churches reproduce is a deep part of me now.

That past experience opened my eyes to the harsh realities of church planting, even in a culture that is not hostile as many countries or even regions often are to the gospel. It is a tremendous sacrifice and step of faith, one for which a man and his family should be as thoroughly equipped as possible. The sad fact is that many, if not most, church plants flounder or fail within a few years. As a staff member of a young church plant myself for several years, I saw firsthand how practical leadership issues can be a struggle when wanting to focus on the urgent needs of ministry in the “real world” instead of on paper (the models and diagrams and vision statements we’ve created).

Not that solid theology, Spirit-lead faith, biblical teaching, and meeting people’s needs should not be the foundations for any church, certainly those are a given. But how do you continue to do that with integrity – how can you be faithful and seek longevity, enduring to the end, finishing the race, walking in a manner worthy of the gospel? God entrusts churches with the gospel of Christ and with the souls of His children. So why are so many ministers and church planters ill-prepared in the practical aspects of leadership if that is what they wholeheartedly believe God has called them to do? The wheels can fall off without integrity in leadership. It’s a shame and an offense to God, I believe.

Now you may or may not agree on the importance of leadership, but even so, there can be no denying this other harsh reality to which my eyes were opened: The vast majority of churches are not reproducing new churches. Biblicaly speaking, the church is a body (1 Cor. 12, Eph. 4) and bodies naturally reproduce (Gen 1:28). Everything in nature reproduces. In overly-simplified terms, if not maturing toward reproduction, an organism has gone over the curve and is now on the descent toward death. You just don’t see any biblical precedent for churches or Christ-followers not being about the business of making-disciples and spreading the gospel. You don’t see a “come be one of us” mentality in the New Testament. You see in Acts 6 the first church delegate leadership responsibility in practical matters so that the Word of God would not be neglected and as a result the gospel advanced, spreading throughout Jerusalem. Those leaders then took the gospel, beginning in Acts 8, and were preaching and reproducing churches beyond Jerusalem after being scattered from persecution. This was the initial stages of fulfilling Christ’s command to reproduce, making disciples throughout the world (Matt. 28:19-20). But this command has not yet been fulfilled. It is still our task.

So, why are most churches (85%) not reproducing? Why are we hoarding our resources in finances, in church leadership experience, in biblical wisdom, and most importantly in the gospel of Jesus Christ? Why not multiply and reproduce, scattering rather than gathering unto ourselves? This is what Mac Lake, Brian Bloye, and Tony Morgan from West Ridge Church (Atlanta, Georgia) have been asking…. and doing. Their relatively young church has planted 50 churches in the last 6 years and has now stepped up their commitment to church planting by partnering with others through LAUNCH – a new network designed to build relationships among church-planting churches and new planters. The strategy is to mentor young men and provide ongoing training and accountability in a holistic approach to church leadership, recognizing both the spiritual and practical dynamics of ministry demands).

I just wanted to get the word out in a very small way (not that anybody reads this blog) and also ask the question to anyone who may actually find this post: Are you reproducing the gospel in the lives of people around you? Is your church reproducing? What will you do to advance the gospel personally and with your own church body?

Are we the eternal exception?

It hit me this morning. I was reminded that the so-called “problem” we as humans have with the idea of hell is not as issue with the following objections:

A. It is not because we have a problem with believing that eternal justice should exist and that evil and injustice need eternally rectified. We believe deeply that justice should be served and evil should be punished and discouraged.

B. It is not because we have a problem with recognizing serious and even deadly and destructive consequences for certain choices, actions, lifestyles, or words and beliefs. We are logical, scientific, cause-and-effect people. And if not we’re spiritual or mystical or aware of nature. Call it fate, destiny, energy, sovereignty, order, natural law… There’s an action and reaction – always.

C. It is not because we have a problem with love and wrath coexisting, even in deity. Love is not apathy. It is not absent of respect and protection. Deep love will always have fierce protection for and sacrifice for the object of affection. No loving parent would not discipline a child. No loving spouse would condone rampant disloyalty from a spouse, and certainly wouldn’t tolerate attack against the life of a spouse, child, or loved one.

Our problem is that we don’t believe any of this applies to us, personally. We don’t believe that we are evil or deserving of punishment. We don’t believe justice is due at our expense, only our benefit. We don’t believe that our choices, actions, lifestyles, words or beliefs deserve consequences (only blessing). And it is because we don’t want to come face to face with the wrath of God, so we deem it unloving, like my pouting preschooler who insists “you don’t love me,” when she’s in trouble. We don’t recognize that sin in any form is spiritual adultery, a deadly addiction, a poisonous cancer to be removed and destroyed, and violent rebellion against a heavenly Father who will do anything to protect His family.

Our problem is not with hell or with God. Our problem is believing that we should be the exception. Other people surely deserve hell – the tyrants and monsters of world history (even modern history). Maybe even some terrible people by whom we’ve been offended or hurt deeply. But not us. And the best way to ensure that we don’t experience the reality of hell and God’s wrath toward sin, is to close our eyes and pretend it doesn’t exist.

We don’t like the “doctrine” of hell because in order to talk about hell and salvation from it, we must also stare in the mirror of the gospel that says we are sinful and under God’s just and loving wrath without the loving grace He has provided in the sacrifice of His own Son, Jesus Christ. We don’t like hell because we have to admit that we could deserve it.

It’s not that we don’t want a loving God.

It’s that we are too in love with ourselves.

The Mission Book

I came across this site today built by my friends at DC for The Upstream Collective. Very simple idea: Create a website (that looks awesome) where people can share brief stories as missionaries and/or people living on mission to spread the gospel. Once enough stories have been collected, produce an eBook… The Mission Book.

A couple of heavyweights whose books on missional and house church planting movements helped shape my view of ministry, Alan Hirsch and Ed Stetzer, kick off the story time. Just pick a book from the virtual shelf or use the arrows to move to the next story. Great use of technology to gather information for the sake of transformation. I hope this site is a great encouragement to disciple-makers around the world… and that the stories keep spreading (to spread the glory of Christ in every nation).

So whatever you do. Do it for the sake of the gospel. Use your gifts and sphere of influence to make disciples and encourage other disciple-makers.

Click the image below to jump over to their site and start reading…

Get it Together… Piper v. Bell’s Ill Communication

GET IT FOR FREE – DOWNLOAD THE AUDIOBOOK.

Jesus: The Only Way to God (Must you hear the gospel to be saved?) is available as a free download from ChristianAudio.com through the end of the month. This bonus download from John Piper is an explicit response to the Love Wins controversy (we won’t rehash that again).

The audiobook is in addition to the month’s free audiobook download: R.C. Sproul’s classic: The Holiness of God. If you’re into audiobooks (perfect for commutes to work or travel) then I’d recommend staying on top of the monthly offering from Christian Audio – the past several months have included: John Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life, Let the Nations Be Glad and Jerry Bridges’ The Pursuit of Holiness. You can also grab sermons and other freebies (not to mention just about everything for purchase too) – I recently picked up Tim Keller’s The Reason for God lectures from The Veritas Forum (another great resource to check out).

 

SISU = “Stubborn Guts” in Finnish

That’s your foreign language lesson for the day. How many Finnish words do you know? Probably one. Now.

I can’t remember the last time I was so floored artistically and uplifted spiritually as when I was introduced to the music of Josh Garrels. Truly unique, but the best I could put it is think: the surprisingly rich soul of Paolo Nutini or Alexi Murdoch, the beautiful realism of John Mark McMillan or Ben Harper, an occasional bend toward the eclectic hip hop of Citizen Cope, the haunting atmosphere of Sufjan Stevens or Gungor, and the middle eastern Mumford & Sons collaboration… all infused with a heavy dose of Holy Spirit. Did you follow that? Josh Garrels takes it to church. I want to see and feel and love Christ the way this guy so clearly does in his music. I want to know this deep kinship with martyrs and our brothers and sisters around the world.

Mason Jar Music Presents… Josh Garrels from Mason Jar Music on Vimeo.

Below are some links to freebies to get you started (including the song “SISU” which was too interesting a title to pass up) and if you like him… or love him… support what he does and buy something and spread the word – fresh, artistic and worshipful music that flows from and into a realm that is anything but mainstream and stale.

Go to his site joshgarrels.com to hear more, download free mp3s (click on the harmonica), link to his vimeo account and check out his store. *UPDATE: GET HIS NEW ALBUM FREE*

Click here to download a free concert from the Relevant Magazine Podcast.