The Beauty of Being Irrelevant


True story from seminary days:

I stick a Tootsie Roll in my lip,” he said. 

“A what where why?” I said. 

“Well, the guys in my community all chew tobacco, and I don’t. So the Tootsie Roll turns my spit brown. I can relate to them better that way,” he said.

“Oh,” I said.

He was a young pastor in rural upstate New York — to a redneck tribe of pickup trucks and flannel shirts. And chewing tobacco. In the spirit of becoming “all things to all people,” my seminary roommate took up the Tootsie Roll habit, that he might better relate to the men he wanted to reach.

I love that spirit.

But I’m not so sure about that practice.

Aside from the risk of getting busted, “Hey Jimmy-Bob, got a plug of chew I could have?” “Nah, just Tootsie Rolls…” there’s a flaw in the thinking. Being relevant does not mean coloring your spit, faux-hawking what’s left of your hair, or sporting hipster glasses. It does not require LL Cool J on your iPod or misspelled Hebrew tatted on your forearm.

Being relevant means BEING YOURSELF, connecting with a tribe different than yours, and offering hope for a way out. If God has called you to cross cultural barriers (age, language, ethnicity, nationality, religion, education, social status) for the sake of the gospel, then the people you’re reaching need three gifts from you: Continue reading

The Spiritual Life of Jesus Christ, pt 2

powerlift.jpegThis article is the 2nd of a 2 part series. Please scroll down for part 1.

We’re talking about the spiritual life of Jesus. It’s important because most people don’t think he had one. We simply assume that he was born full-grown, overlooking the shattering impact of the Incarnation. He really was a baby. He really thought like a baby. He really grew up.

And he did all of that as a human, though he at the same time always was and always will be true God. Continue reading

Faith Like Potatoes

I read this excerpt from a book today and wanted to share it with you. 

elnino.jpeg“To hell with El Niño!”

I looked out over the vast crowds gathered in King’s Park Rugby Stadium, and I knew I had their full attention.

“To hell with the drought warnings and the fear and the worry! We are not listening to the lies of the devil. We are listening to the promises of God!”

My audience looked at me in stunned silence. They had come to Durban in September 1997 for the Peace Gathering hosted by Shalom Ministries, and they knew weather as only farmers can: they knew it could make or break them.


Continue reading

The Cost of Discipleship!

bears.jpgFirst, GO BEARS! Great game last night, defeating the Green Bay Packers, and making this Chicagoan extremely happy! Final score: 27-20, Bears!

Second, THANK YOU to everybody who weighed in on their interpretation of the very tough Luke Passage on Discipleship (scroll down 2 posts). You guys did a great job, and are very brave.

So, now I’ll stick my neck out. Here is my interpretation of this key passage on discipleship. I’ll start by saying that, like many gospel passages, the failure to do justice to the larger context causes an INVERSION of the meaning. That is, most interpreters actually REVERSE the intended meaning! (And I don’t use exclamation marks frivolously!!!!) In my humble opinion–and you may disagree with me–this passage has been turned on its ear to place a price-tag on discipleship that neither Jesus nor Luke ever intended. Continue reading

The Cost of Discipleship?

disciplesjesus.jpegIf the great task of the church is to multiply disciples (Matt 28:19, 20), then we ought to be crystal clear on what a disciple is, right? So, would you join me in considering that issue? What’s a disciple? What does a good one look like? How is one made? And how am I personally (you, the dear reader) doing at it?

Today… let’s consider the cost of discipleship. Continue reading