Friday, December 18, 2009

Tom and Brenda: They be sober...even at the bar

Who says there's nothing good on TV?

Our own Sts. Tom and Brenda McCann are featured in this KMPH Channel 26 feature story on
"We Be Sober." They just happened to be at a company party at the Elbow Room Bar...not a place they usually hang out!

(Though I have video of Tom hanging at an even more shameful place here..see this secret video, skip to 6:50, click here!! Shhh!)

Watch the Channel 26 video of Tom and Brenda here.
They show up around 1:20. Tom has a killer smile, but they only used the interview with Brenda (:

Story here:

$30 Ride Home can Save you Thousands in DUI Fines

Monday, December 14, 2009


Wow Thanks Dave! I truly feel honored to possibly contribute to your blog.

My thoughts today are still on the miracles I saw last Friday night. I was invited by my nieces to their discipleship conference. Its called "The Threat". I sat next to my nieces friend and for some reason I was unable to speak the whole night to her. This is really weird since as you know I usually have something to say. Well apparently God did not want me to speak at that moment. This 15 year old girl needed to watch these teenagers as they spoke on what the world has to offer and what Jesus can do for your life. You see she was not a christian. Well at the end of the night she went up for prayer from my niece Danny who is also 15, and accepted the Lord. After that I had lots to say to her. It's was just a great reminder that you really must pay attention to that still small voice. If I had spoken before I was supposed to I may have intimidated this young girl. She would not have been able to hear and see the message that The Lord had for her. By watching my nieces she was able to see that other young people are willing to stand up for what they believe. Wow!!! So today I am just remembering that and how much I hope to always hear that still small voice and keep my mouth shut. By the way I am super proud of my nieces too. They are 18, 17, and 15 years old and what diciples they are. Thanks again Dave.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"...I believe in the Israelite"

Here is the U2 Christmas song we talked about today. This song is on a special Christmas album you can get for spending 15 clams @ St. Arbuck's..Starbucks donates a buck to the Global fund for each CD they give away.
Here below is a post pasted in from my blog about the song when it first came out last year:

With the delay of a promising new album until February (hopefully),
U2 fans were of course thrilled to hear that the boys had recorded a special song for release today (World AIDS day) with the launch of RED Wire Music
(video ab0ut the launch below):

But even I was taken aback at what it was.

First, U2 is not (with a few amazing exceptions) at their best at cover songs.
It is a cover of Greg Lake's (ELP) 1975 "I Believe in Father Christmas."

It was actually basically a new song for me.

The vibe of U2's version is great (Edge's chime etc), it's basically a prayer(like all songs they write or beg/borrow/steal/steal back) and hey, the lyrics even mention the Virgin Birth and heaven and hell...
and Bono's third favorite word (hallelujah) ...(:

Though it usually seen as an "anti-commercialism of Christmas song":

"I find it appalling when people say it's politically incorrect to talk about Christmas, you've got to talk about 'The Holiday Season.' Christmas was a time of family warmth and love. There was a feeling of forgiveness, acceptance. And I do believe in Father Christmas." -Lake
"People say it's antireligious...when in reality it was really objecting to the commerciality of Christmas.. it's about the joy of giving" -Lake, audio here

There is some debate over how much for (or against) Christ the original lyric it is. Many see it as disillusioned atheist's profession of hope without Christ. Some even see it as a Lake's way of confessing conversion to Christ:

"They sold me a dream of Christmas,
They sold me a silent night,
They told me a fairy story,
Till I believed in the Israelite.

Could it be that Bono has (in a similar "theological correction" sense as he did with "People Get Ready" see 10/6/05 post here) changed the original "till i believed in the Israelite" (the narrator is talked into believing) to "But I believed". Which changes...everything. No longer is the narrator lamenting being sold a bill of goods about Christmas/Christ, but celebrating belief in Christ in spite of the religious way "they" manipulated him into "believing."

LATER NOTE: As always, I should've checked Beth's blog first. I just found her post on facebook:

Beth is delighted at U2's completely reworking the theology of ELP's "Father Christmas" for their cover of it today, by only changing, wait for it.... *two words*.

ok ok it's been pointed out to me that a switch from past to present tense should count as a word. THREE words.
Oh, now I hear the other lyric tweak, Bono says "I believe," dropping the d, and the doubt.
...DELIGHTED, indeed! Thanks, Beth! She found more:

I had to smile in admiration at the very minor but very thoughtful lyric changes that turn Lake's text into something not just potentially, but authentically, U2ey. Did you catch them? "They sold me a Merry Christmas, they sold me a Silent Night, they sold me a fairy story..." is transmuted into something more like Popmart's "I wanted to meet God but they sold me religion" by one little shift: no longer did "they" keep selling "till I believed in the Israelite"; no, they can try to sell such holiday fantasies all they want "but I believe in the Israelite."

And the end of the original second verse, one assumes the implication is that the once-hopeful little boy awakes, exhausted and bleary-eyed, to witness his father dressed as Santa and realize the whole thing's a shuck ("I awoke with a yawn in the first light of dawn and saw him -- and through his disguise.") But U2 create a whole different feel by taking out that one little "and," so that the narrator now says that he watched in hope, woke at dawn, and "I saw him through his disguise." Another idea that we've heard many times before from this band.
Beth Maynard

Regrading the subtle, sneaky, subversive "through his disguise" change, catch Bono's subtle "holy smirk" as he is about to convert that line; he knows exactly what he's doing! the official version already, by clicking below; buy the song to support a good cause:
Click to watch

Inevitably, it's also on YouTube:

As is Lake's 1975 video, filmed in Israel:

..and his 1994 version:

ELP (and not just P) finally recorded the song as a group.
Here below Greg Lake and his co-writer are interviewed about the song.."it's about the sadness of a child discovering things aren't all they're cracked up to be..." Lake even talks about uh, hiring a stripper for the song:

As the song says:
"The Christmas we get, we deserve."

I dare to believe, though Bono didn't change that last line, in the U2 version, he didn't have to. It now means something completely different. It's not only the prophetic punchline now, it's a theology of grace....again.
Some wonder (see ELP review here) by his later lyrics and interviews if Lake even became a Christian

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holy Hamburgers, Batman

Eating a hamburger within view of the Temple Mount captures for me the sacredness of all of life. Munching on fries while within earshot of worshippers at the most sacred and contested real estate on

the planet..

Is that sacrilegious?

Hanging out and laughing with my son and Charlida ( far right, photo at top); it felt like we were just as much in God's presence and "at worship" as the
Muslims at the mosque;
Jews and Christians at the wall...

as we ate. It was what Wolfgang Simson calls a church "meating." Holy Church.

"Church buildings ARE sacred," Mark Driscoll says,

" everything else."

There is no secular...or spoon.
Or secular spoon, for that matter.
Or secular food to spoon...
Don't stone me, I am just paraphrasing Tozer:
Everything depends upon the state of our interior lives and our heart's
relation to God. The man that walks with God will see and know that for him
there is no strict line separating the sacred from the secular. ..The Apostle
Paul teaches that every simple act of our lives may be sacramental. "Whether
therefore ye eat...."
Eugene Peterson:

"It is common among people like us to look for ways to free ourselves from
the humdrum, escape as often as possible into ecstasy, devise ways to live
separated from the clamor of traffic and family, associate as far as possible
only with people of like mind, and engage in disciplines and ways of dress and
speech that set us apart from 'the others.' Scripture says:

Forget it."

("Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places", (p. 86)

Madeleine L’Engle:
"There is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred; that is one of
the deepest messages of the Incarnation."
And Jesus:
By the way, since Rabbi Adam wants to know..and because it's a great spot,
the restaurant is The Quarter Cafe.. Check it out.

Also, someone has suggested that laughing when someone farts can be heartfelt worship...
(that did happen on the last Israel trip, but I won't mention any names...)
Every place I have set foot is holy ground.
The Temple Mount included.
The toilet included.

Even church buildings might count.
St. Jamie, in an amazing blog post found here, even found Jesus in the most "unlikely of places":
For another take on eating hamburgers in Israel, see this.

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Porpoise-Driven Life

Dark Irish Gaithers Worshipping on Crack..something like that

Duhb is a worship band (uh, something like that..)
that comes out of ikon, the church (uh, something like that..)
that Peter Rollins is pastor (uh, something like that..) of.

Warning: this ain't the Gaithers (or Gaithers on crack, though it may sound like it)..and it isn't that other worship band from Ireland who have also used the "dubh" word..

PS..that word...of course..means 'dark'. Sounds like church and God to me:

Let's start with this 'darkness' thing - not the rock band, but the title and vibe of the CD. Was there a concious effort to create something different to the usual christian happy worship music?

Dubh pronounced Duv is Irish for Black (and not dark as the sleeve note states). But the title is intentional. like the cloud of unknowing, sometimes what we experience is the absence or darkness of God, certainly the inexplicable and unreasonable.

Re mood/vibe :It wasn`t a question of trying to be different, to be alternative to something other than happy tunes . Rather, the CD is a flawed attempt at trying to capture the spirit of an Ikon service: full of questions, fragmented, fragile. And contemplative. Still passionate but also incomplete. Its also important to note that our ikon services are all held in a dingy pub, with the bar open to all. Its hard to see in there sometimes !


Sunday, December 06, 2009

Dessert with 2 Humble Christians

Join us for an informal, dessert-provided evening with two humble Christians....Christian Humble (real name) and wife Brittany..
This wonderful young couple will be joining us to share about their call to Dominican Republic. Come be inspired, learn how to help, pray for them and have them pray for you. Imagine being called to the mission field is times like these..but that call is a version of what most of you are going through is this season of shift..

We have know the Humbles for several years..Christian was raised up in our sister church in Oakdale, then took a leap of faith and moved to Kansas City to another sister church to intern.
Brittany has already lived in the DR, as her parents Rick and Carie (many of you know them...and some of you have been there, as Sonya and I have) are our missionaries there..

Don't miss this night..if you do, you'll have to keep hearing, "Man, you sure missed a great night."

More on the amazing work in Dominican here


539 W. Celeste,
Fresno, CA, USA Earth
just se of Palm/Bulllard, turn E on Morriss by the 7-11, R on Winchester, R on Celeste, 3rd house on left



Christian's Facebook

David Letterman and Sammy Davis Jr. Came to Our Church Today

Yes, we showed these two clips at the gathering today.
What dis these have to do w/anything? Maybe you had to be there
(something to do with Africa, and temple tantrums @Christmastime, isn't that obvious?
If you really wanna know, leave a comment below for scottispottis, he takes the best notes)
...........................but you should enjoy.
If it makes you feel better, we also showed this and this. (:

David Letterman works the McDonalds drive-thru.
Note: he did Taco Bell here

Archie Bunker meets Sammy Davis, Jr.:

Chris Seay on Advent Conspiracy in Liberia:

Chris Seay on Advent Conspiracy in Liberia

Monday, November 30, 2009

"only in America does that happen, " Martin Smith told us

Keltic Ken
(hey, why is Ken not signed up as a contributor to this blog yet?!) and I were able to interview Martin Smith of Delirious..

Click the word "posts" on the podcast box below, then click "Dave/Delirious"..

Several relevant issues to this blog, in order of appearance in the interview:

-Car crashes and discernment
-becoming missional
-the natural end of the band
-Compassion Art
-"You don't have to believe to belong"
-"Where do the record stores file you guys?"
-Getting cult-followers into Christian bookstores

Killer quote:
"That seems to be only in America that they want to do that."

My only argument with Martin is when he
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says, "I'm a poet, not a church leader."

Poets ARE church leaders.
In fact, see this.

More on Delirious:

"What I learned about God/church through Delirious lyrics"

Car Crashes make the Church Delirious

"Is there such a thing as Christian music?"

"Our song 'It's OK' caused controversy because of the word 'hell' in the lyric, and has been pulled from several Christian stores in the U.S., despite the fact it has touched many people profoundly. For us boys, this is a case of 'let's keep anything impure away from the church' when, in my opinion, purity is all about bringing justice to a God-less society.."
-Martin Smith of Delirious
context: an article on Delirious lyrics that God has used

interview with Beth Maynard of U2 Sermons

KKeltic Ken and I interviewed
Beth Maynard
for KRDU about the U2 faith connection.
Full of good stuff, of course.. like the quote "a recipe for distance."

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And what does all this say about God?

So, I'm joined to Fresno in Spirit. If there were ever a group of people in which I felt understood, though miles away, it's gotta be Fresno.

A strange thing this is (I know, I sound like Yoda). But in all seriousness, it is strange. That people so far away would feel like home.

Yet, God seems to operate through oddities (at least in my life).


I believe that God's calling is inherent to every individual and as the "individuals" that we are, some of us are conventional, Sunday church-goers in suits who'd rather not partake of a cup of wine or a cold beer. And it's ok. God sees the heart. Perhaps I may not be able to relate to my suited, non-wine/beer drinking brother in Christ on many levels, maybe I'll feel judged by him or awkward in his presence, but, on a core level, we are part of the same family. We share the same spiritual DNA.

Others (like me and like many of the folk in Fresno) are odd (yes you know you are... and that's why I love you guys), we lead unconventional lives... or not... but the way we view our relationship with God differs from mainstream Christianity.

And that's the beauty of it, that no matter how many times I've walked the streets of my very southern city, thinking that I really don't fit into mainstream Christianity and/or mainstream society and/or life in general... or that the four churches over here really aren't my cup of tea... which sometimes saddens me (couldn't I have been more normal and have felt content in a "normal" church, for Pete's sake?), the truth is that God DOES NOT make mistakes.

Jeremiah 1:5
New International Version (©1984)
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

I'm not a mistake. The way I view life, the nuances that make me, "me"... My hurts, my hopes and dreams, my fears, my questions, my love, my smiles, my songs... these are not mistakes.

Some of us are anti-system, some have a deep questioning of institutions, some of us may feel a bit rebellious, a bit of an outsider (I know I do) some of us walk around a bit blindly, knowing that we love God and Jesus, but hey, that's about all we know.

And it's ok.

Not all of us are called to be spiritual giants or mountains of wisdom. Through our small efforts, through the muck we think we are spiritually, God is operating. Little by little. But rest assured that life and a path given to him (even if we take it back every week or so) will be guided by... him.

Psalm 37:5

5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:

6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.


In God's kingdom, there is something for everyone.

My two years in this city have been marked by periods of extreme loneliness, a mistake or two (which God kindly saved me from, it could have been a lot worse) and a bunch of surprises.

For instance, many of God's blessings came from unexpected people. Mostly gay. I really don't have Christian friends in this city. I tried. I really did. But the only friends that came my way were gay. One was my roommate, whom I met the first day I came here. A lovely man who (though not prone to physical demonstrations of kindness, he says so himself) hugs me, kisses my cheek and just plain shares the love. The other was a colleague who just waltzed into my life and decided I was worth loving with all his heart. These gay friends dote on me, accept me, help me out financially (they furnished my apartment when I had no money to do so). And Christmases and all major holidays are spent with them. They have become family. Did I look for them? No... Was I a horrible sinner that went astray and thus met them... Ummm... nope. Quite the opposite, I was looking for God's deliverance with all my heart back then.

And the support I looked for at church, but did not find, I found in them.

Isn't God odd like that? Or is he "normal" like that?

And how about my "church", the ones I consider MY church? You guys are all in Fresno.

And what does all this say about God?

That God works in mysterious ways? The cliche is true. We may really never know what he's up to in our lives. We may not understand his times, we may be surprised at those he chooses to bless us. All we can really do is keep living, keep praying, commit our path to God, hold on to the faith, not lose hope, help someone out there with time, money, prayers (so much of it is about others, isn't it?) and enjoy and give thanks for the wine (or beer) we have every once in a while with the neighbors.

Love you Guys. Don't forget to drop a prayer or two my way. ;)



8:26 - [In Context]
Also, the Spirit F68 helps us. We are very weak, but the Spirit helps us with our weakness. We don't know how to pray like we should. But the Spirit himself speaks to God for us. The Spirit begs God for us. The Spirit speaks to God with deep feelings that words cannot explain.
8:27 - [In Context]
God can see what is in people's hearts. And God knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit speaks to God for his people in the way that God wants.
8:28 - [In Context]
We know that in everything God works for the good of those people that love him. These are the people God called (chose), because that was his plan.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

"most guys do" : pregnant dancing with the Trinity

We had a great time today, this first Sunday in Advent...I spoke on, as I do every year, what Jack Hayford calls "The Mary Miracle." It's always a
highlight of the year for me.

  • bounced on Rob Bell's trampoline,
  • kicked off the Advent Conspiracy,
  • prayed to U2's "Yahweh,"
  • partook of some deep sharing,
  • read from St Henri's journal,
  • did some Trinitarian dancing..
..and all became pregnant.

.......well you had to be there.
(if you were, post thoughts in the comments section below).
Or see this post from a couple years ago:

Mary Rocks!

Every year, about this time, I love preaching on Mary...(and I am a Protestant!..(:

...or am I? Maybe I used to be!..I'm not Roman Catholic, but how important are categories like Protest-ant any more? And what am I/are we now, anyway: emerging, misisonal, ?? Post-Protestant...pre-Christian...whatever!) It began years ago with Jack Hayford's little book "The Mary Miracle" (reisssued as The Christmas Miracle, no doubt because someone feared the title sounded too 'Catholic'!!)).

In Paraguay in 1998, I risked preaching a sermon (and I evidence right here) in Spanish about how we are all to become spiritually "pregnant" like Mary... (Just imagine how that might have come across..."Come to the altar and get pregnant"..!)

Can't wait to hear how
I preach it this year(: ...

especially in light of the Nativity movie, and the Scot McKnight book..)

It is tempting to preach something like this..

The point?

"Mary is, to that extent, the supreme example of what always happens when God is at work by grace through human beings. God's power from outside, and the indwelling Spirit within, together result in things being done which would have been unthinkable any other way."

-NT Wright, Luke for Everyone , p. 11.

Come to the altar and get pregnant.

This year, several wanted to follow up with the resources on the Trinity, as we noted how Mary got caught up in the perichoresis: the dance of the Trinity (see this) when Gabe announced her pregnancy in Luke .

So here you go..

Here is the Rob Bell clip:

Here are the books referenced, in order from most scholarly to down-home:

You might start with the third volume, I know no theologian more practical and dedicated to living out theology in praxis in community, family and world... than Steve Seamands. The book is hugely helpful in applying the most "theological" and apparently "unpractical" doctrines of all to life and ministry.

How does the doctrine and reality of the Trinity impact everything we say/do/pray/decide?

"The Trinity is the language in which Christian truth is spoken. It gives shape to the truth. The Trinity is not peripheral, let alone optional. It is the marvelous, wonderful heart of our faith." [Chester, p. 17]

Here are several posts from my blog on the topic of Trinity, including

"Trinity as model for church...and computers"


"The Trinitarian Nature of Leadership," by Len Hjalmarson


Trinity: My name's Trinity.
Neo: *The* Trinity? Who cracked the IRS d-base?
Trinity: That was a long time ago.
Neo: Jesus...
Trinity: What?
Neo: I just thought... you were a guy.
Trinity: Most guys do.

"Organic church life is not native to this planet.
It began before time in the Godhead."
-Frank Viola 2/4/09

Thursday, November 05, 2009

News from Peru

Here below are the latest newsletter and plans from Ken and Cathie Metz in Peru.
Just click (or right click) on each page to enlarge, read and rejoice.

(If you have not seen the movies of our previous trips down there, click
this for 2004, and this for 2005.. But a warning, you are basically signing up to go with us next time if you do.)

Note: a helpful summary, with new pics, is here in the Grace Covenant newsletter..

Below: Sept 2009 newsletter
Below that: 2008-2009 report, and plans for the future

Monday, October 19, 2009

Meet St. Shelley of the Pink Cross, former porn star and new friend of ours

Here's a TV feature on Shelley, a former porn star whom we will meet and bless soon..
thanks to Keltic Ken, whose audio interview with her is here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dogs Home Alone

May or may not be true, when the video says,
"These people were always finding water all over their pool deck and furniture, every time they came home, after being away for a few hours. They thought the neighborhood kids were watching for them to leave, and using the pool. However, they could never catch them doing it. So they set up their video cam and watched the pool area. This is what they recorded....
More likely:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Transparency Blessings

Well, I for one have been blessed the last few Sundays when different friends and family at Third Day have shared their recent struggles, missteps, challenges. I think that God opens up so much more healing when we share. We can know how to pray for each other more effectively.

Wow, there is plenty to pray for these days!

I suppose some might think that I don't share much. I know one brother poured his heart out awhile back, and then wondered why I didn't do the same. I don't have any great answer for that, except that I often think that many of my day-to-day experiences and minor struggles do not seem like a "big deal" to me. That may not be accurate, it's just how I feel. I don't want to rob my friends by not sharing enough, though. The truth is that much of the time I feel very blessed and thankful (i.e. not in crisis mode).

One of the things that trips me up is talking in a judgmental or disparaging way about others. I probably behave better at 3D than I do elsewhere, so maybe you haven't picked up on it. Deep down, I want to build people up rather than tear them down. So if you think I've stepped over the line, please keep me accountable, and pray that God would anoint my lips for encouragement. That's my full disclosure for the week.

And thank God that we trust each other enough to be real.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Pickleball champ in the white hat

My dad's picture was on the front page of the Fresno Bee today (though not for the same reason I used to appear there!)..He also appears in the online video accompanying the article..see 53ff in the clip..he is the handsome distinguished man in the white hat:

"Jim Wainscott, 76, a former Equitable Life insurance administrator."

It's all about pickleball!

Article here, video below:

Monday, July 06, 2009

A "Shy" baptism

Note how God sneaks in a word for Shy during the prayer 1:40, Tarzan's cellphone rings to the tune of "I Want to) Walk in the Light."

As is the Spiritaneous post-baptism dance you see at the end:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Seven Signs: part 2

(Note the previous post:

The Seven Signs: part 1),

and for those dying to hear the song "Signs" by the Five Man Electrical Band, video is included!

We had a great time today exploring the second sign of John,
but first we reviewed the concept of "signs"in John,
noting they are all about their sign-ificance and sign-ature place in the gospel.

I make the case that the whole gospel is embedded in what John calls the "first"sign (water into wine at Cana). They way the word "first" works in Greek is not necessarily to feature first as in "first of a series," but "first in order of importance,or maybe best translated "only," not first."

This becomes clear in Matthew 6:33, famously translated and put to song and memory as"Seek (ye) FIRST the Kingdom of G0od...all all these things will be added to you."

But that translation doesn't add up, and does not compute with the context.

Notice we rea not told to seek the "other things "second" and "third," In fact, it's clear in context we are not to seek them AT ALL...they are given to us as a by product of seeking the ONE THING (=the ONLY thing), first (that is, foremost)....or EXCLUSIVELY.

"The Kingdom of God is not the first item on our priority list,"Joel Green says (in a great little book), "it IS our priority list."

So in a sense the first sign is the only one we need.

And the other signs are all commentary on;differing angles and windows on it.

Study it well.

Yet the other six signs are also a key part of the puzzle-picture John has embedded in the book for us.

We compared the seven signs to the Burma shave signs (read upon these here, here,and a postmodern version of them here ), where each sign is part of a series, and the last one is the punchline, revelation,or climax.

This is true in John's case as well. The definitive seventh sign is the raising of Lazarus.

Which is the same as the first sign of wine.

We noted that is common to connect the first sign of John to the first plague of Exodus
(water into wine vs. water into blood) and the last sign of John with the last plague of Exodus (death of the firstborn vs.death of Lazarus)..... the Old Covenant plagues are undone in the new.

In a way parallel to Pentecost reversing Tower of Babel, the signs of Jesus in John reverse the curse of the plagues.

The Greek word for sign John uses is σημεῖον / semeoin (Nowadays we talk about studying semiotics...People (semioticians) like Leonard Sweet (and our former 3d webmaster, Chris McDonald) have reminded us how crucial semoitics is to our day and age).

We often think "We are not supposed to ask for signs."
True, the synoptics cast a negative spin on following signs and not Jesus. But John uses sign in a very different and sign-ificant way. The signs are revealers of who Jesus is, and a summons/challnge to enter them and find deeper faith and meaning. Jesus even chews out those who followed him just because he fed them., and not because of the signs (John 6:26).

The whole point of signs is that they are moments when heaven and earth intersect with each other. (That’s what the Jews believed happened in the Temple.) The point is not that they are stories which couldn’t have happened in real life, but which point away from earth to a heavenly reality.
– N.T. Wright John for Everyone, 21.

We talked today about the fact that the word "mission" or"misionary" appears nowhere in the Bible..


In fact, contrary to what we often hear, the church does not have a mission..

It's the mission that has a church!

Or as Len has..better..said: "It is not the Church of God that has a mission in the world — it is the God of mission who has a Church in the world."

Mission is so fundamenhtal and inextricable to who we are..that it is assumed.

Len posted a wonderful series "Do you think missiology precedes ecclesiology, or it is the other way round?"

More on that here.

And froma great book, "Delighting in the Trinity":
The word 'mission' comes originally from the doctrine of the Trinity. The word mission comes from the Latin word mission which means 'to send.' It was the word Christians used to talk about the sending of the Son and the Spirit into the world. Only in the sixteenh century did Christians start using the term to describe sending people to spread the gospel.

The mission of the church has its roots in the missionary character of the triune God. God is not only God in himself (the 'immanent Trinity), he is also God-for-us (the economic Trinity..)

We experience the Trinity through the sending of the Son and Spirit..the Trinitarian community is not exclusive.
-Delighting in the Trinity
(More posts on the Trinity here.)

It's often been said"God only has one son..and he was a missionary". But all who are in Jesus are in the Trinity, and thus inevitanly sent,missioned co-missioned and commissioned.

Jesus was sent into the world as a sign of God, and we are sent by the Spirit as a sign of Jesus.

It's semiotics , baby.. read the signs.

We rea the signs, as Isiah says.

And we are sent signs.

We spent some time comparing the first and second (Healing of the nobleman's son, John 4:39-54) signs as John has gone out of his way to link them ..
they are the only two signs he has enumerated for us, and they are interlinked and hyperlinked in multiplex ways.

We noted several fascinating relationships between the first two signs, as we:

The first was in a Jewish setting, the second gentile.

The first was a miracle while Jesus was present, the second while he was absent.

The first involved ordinary people, the second nobility.

We pause here to suggest part of the sign-ificance of the signs is to remind us that Jesus came for Jew and gentile, poor and rich...that is for all...

Both the first two signs are followed by folks becoming believers...hmm.

Both were in Cana after a return from Judea..

We notice an intriguing similarity in both signs in that Jesus seed reluctant to perform signs but when pressed and pressured by a persistent person ( Mary in the first, the nobleman in the second), he relented and repented. (Be sure to check out the Brother Andrew book we mentioned,"And God Changed His Mind") Of course part of the reason is as Leon Morris has "Once he performs a a sign, he is on the the road to the cross." It wasn't technically his time yet, but he cannot not respond to persistevering, bold, chutzpah, hutzpah and faith.
Chronos seems to become kairos when we pray like Mary and the nobleman.

We have been following our UK brother Tony Maude's sermons and blogs he is a few weeks ahead of us in his own series on seven signs :

We might think of the signs in John's gospel as signs of the kingdom. In turning water into wine, Jesus shows us the abundance of the kingdom of God. He shows us its joy. He shows us its richness. He shows us that God's kingdom is much, much better than the best that our earthly kingdoms can provide.

In this second sign we see the power of God's kingdom – power to give life and to heal our sicknesses. But we see much more than that. We see the response that we should make when God's kingdom breaks into our world. We are invited to respond with faith, to take Jesus at his word:

"... these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." (John 20:30-31) In this way, we enter into the kingdom of God, become part of it and receive a treasure of immeasurable worth.

Tony Maude

Tony covered lots of helpful ground that we didn't have time to, particularly about the meaning of the second sign and its connection to his whole post (excerpted below) ponder it and post him a comment here.

Oh, two promises I made. First, the video from the George Stroumboulopoulos (the Oprah of Canada) show.
Maybe The Shack was written just so author Paul Young could go on TV to tell Stroumboulopoulos what God thinks about him! See the amazing moment at 12:20ff:

Secondly,I also promised to follow up from two weeks ago, and link you to this next story.

It's found on page 234 of "Floods Upon The Dry Ground,"one of my texts for my upcoming Church History class at the Bible College(join us as an auditor, course website here):

"(It happened) nduring the annual Muslim pilgrimmage to Mecca in 1991, when a number of Nigerian Muslim mullahs were praying inside the Grand Mosque, the holiest place in all Islam. Suddenly, 'Jesus appeared to them and declared he was God.' {George Otis quote}.The Mullahs were converted to Jesus.

George Otis and the Sentinel Group and its "Transformations" videos are the most accessible sources for keeping updated on this amazing season we live in..

Related: bee sure to read this story (click)" from "Stories from the Front Lines" has to do with a n ine year old girl raised Lazarus -like from the dead (How's that for a sign?)

We spent the rest of the morning praying for physical (and other types of healing).

Stay tuned for the updates...Post them below..

It's a sign.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Seven Signs: part 1

picture credit

I am excited about our new series on the 7 Signs of John's gospel; Sunday we introduced the first: water into wine.

I will aim to actually post some follow-up afterthoughts each week. The audio will be on the podcast box; right hand side of page.

We talked Sunday about the uniqueness of John's gospel, when compared with the synoptics (Matt, Mark and Luke). It seems that anytime four people are in a room, three may have affinities, but the fourth may be on a different page altogether (maybe the John of the Beatles is an example..or me in my birth family (or married family) of four. One way John is different in that he is a deep theologian/philosopher and a mystic-heart. He rearranges..sometimes radically...the Jesus material. Here he is literally"on another page altogether." We found this Sunday in that all three synoptics place Jesus' "temple tantrum" towards the end of Jesus'public ministry; while John intentionally framejacks it, and drops it at the beginning of his book.

Right after the first "sign." On purpose. Folks shared some thematic reasons this might be.

This paragraph below is lifted from the Wikipedia article on John; it is helpful, but the last sentence is bunk/basura/skubala (I may edit it, and see if it my edited get edited. For a response to this kind of "all or nothing scholarship , see "'Interrupting Jesus,' Interrupted")

Seven Signs

This section recounts Jesus' public ministry.[2] It consists of seven miracles or "signs," interspersed with long dialogues and discourses, including several "I am" sayings.[3] The miracles culminate with his most potent, raising Lazarus from the dead.[3] In John, it is this last miracle, and not the temple incident, that prompts the authorities to have Jesus executed.[3] Jesus' discourses identify him with symbols of major significance, "the bread of life" (John 6:35), "the light of the world" (John 8:12), "the door of the sheep" (John 10:7), "the good shepherd" (John 10:11), "the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25), "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6), and "the real vine" (John 15:1).[3] Critical scholars think that these claims represent the Christian community's faith in Jesus' divine authority but doubt that the historical Jesus actually made these sweeping claims.[3] The teachings of Jesus are so different in John from those found in the synoptic gospels, that since the 1800s scholars have understood that only one of the two traditions could be authentic, and they have unanimously chosen the synoptics as the source for the teachings of historical Jesus.[11]

If you want John's "number," it's 777.
His gospel is embedded with seven signs, seven "I am" statements, and seven narratives. This kind of structural analysis can be overdone; but here it would seem vital to John's purpose and theme...especially the signs and "I am"s:

Seven Signs:

1. Turning water into wine (2:1-12)

2. Healing the noblewoman's son (4:46-54)

3. Healing the man at Bethesda (5:1-47)

4. Feeding the 5000 (6:1-4)

5. Walking on Water (6:15-21)

6. Healing the Blind Man (9:1-41)

7. Raising of Lazarus (11:1-57)

Seven "I AM" Statements:

1. I AM the Bread of Life (6:35)

2. I AM the Light of the World (8:12)

3. Before Abraham was, I AM (8:58)

4. I AM the Good Shepherd (10:11)

5. I AM the Resurrection and the Life (11:25)

6. I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life (14:6)

7. I AM the True Vine (15:1)

What's intriguing is the signs are found in the first half of the gospel (The word 'sign" is used dozens of times in the first half, and only once in the second half (and then, only to summarize the purpose of the signs..20:30-31). The seven "I am" statements, and the seven narratives rea more evenly distributed throughout John's work of art. This is so obvious that noted scholar has called John 1-12 "The Book of Signs," an chapters 13-21 "the Book of Glory":
The first of these is a series of sign-miracles, coupled with discourses, which reveal to us something of who Jesus is. The second is an extended treatment of Christ’s death and resurrection, together with his final teachings related to the topic of his death and the glory which should follow.


NT Wright helps us grasp John's vantage point:

I feel about John like I feel about my wife; I love her very much, but I wouldn't claim to understand her. I didn't get the job.

In style, emphasis, structure — in all the things that make a book what it is — John stands out from the rest. With Paul we are in the seminar room: we are e are arguing the thing out, looking up references, taking notes, and then being pushed out into the world to preach the gospel to the nations. Matthew takes us into the synagoguewhere the people of God are learning to recognize Jesus as their King, their Emmanuel. Mark, as we shall see, writes a little handbook on discipleship, Luke presents Jesus to the cultured Greek world of his day. John, by contrast, takes us up the mountain, and says quietly: 'Look — from here, on a clear day you can see for ever.' We beheld his glory..'

John does not describe the transfiguration, as the other Gospels do;in a sense, John's whole story is about the transfiguration. He invites us to be still and know; to look again into the human face of Jesus of Nazareth..with our awe and bewilderment reaching its height, to the point where we realize that the face is most recognizable when it wears the crown of thorns...When John says, 'We beheld his glory', he is thinking supremely of the cross...

I want here to explore three out of the dozens of strands which go to make up this extraordinary tapestry. The first one is all about signposts. John is a canny writer; he gets us to do half the work. In one of the early scenes in the Gospel, a passage much beloved of preachers at weddings, he tells the story of the wedding at Cana, and of Jesus changing the water into wine. John's comment, at the end of the story, hooks into the prologue, and at the same time points us forwards into a sequence of signposts.

...John starts off as though he's writing a new Genesis, a new creation story. And so he is. He is talking us through the seven signs of the new creation...
-NT Wright,link

Elsewhere, Wright says:
The whole point of signs is that they are moments when heaven and earth intersect with each other. (That’s what the Jews believed happened in the Temple.) The point is not that they are stories which couldn’t have happened in real life, but which point away from earth to a heavenly reality.
– N.T. Wright John for Everyone, 21.

We talked quite a bit about running out of wine at a wedding was a huge problem in tht biblical culture. Jesus's "frivolous"miracle really kept the family from shame and restored their honor.
Some helpful background info on this is in the Social Science Commentary on the Gospel of John,
and The Bible Background Commentary, two vital resources, both readable online.

Some other fascinating, but sometimes farfetched, resources for grasping the symbolism and strucure are "The Good Wine: Reading John from the Center" and "Mystical Christianity: A Psychological Commentary on the Gospel of John"

Oh, here is the section from "The Brothers Karamazov" where the Cana wedding scripture is read at the priest's funeral.

Bonus: I found that Tony Maude in the UK is a few weeks ahead of us in his series on the seven signs, and he too has been posting us he goes. His post on the first sign is here.

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