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

Sunday’s Sermon

This past Sunday, as part of our missionary conference, I preached a story about an African missionary named George Grenfell.  I find his story to be one of the most inspiring, amazing, humbling stories I’ve ever heard. You can hear the message by clicking here.

Here are some cool coincidences [Providences] surrounding this sermon: Continue reading

An Old/New Way of Ancient/Future Thinking

rader1a.jpgPostmodernism/emergentism loves paradoxical/slash thinking/reading so I thought I’d take a shot/stab at it.

Not really. Too many slashes would be annoying/unkind to you, my merciful/forgiving reader/visitor. Really. I’ll stop. I’m done. Seriously.

Can I say that I’m alarmed by some trends in the church today? Mostly in terms of theology. The alarming trend bouncing in my brain this morning is the changing view of the church’s and Christian’s mission. Continue reading

Thailand Sex Industry

One of the guys I went to college with is Jim Larson. We were freshman together at Wheaton College. I only went there one year, mainly because I couldn’t afford it any more than that. So I lost contact with a lot of my Wheaton College friends.

Jim however graduated and went on to launch a great ministry.


Jim recently emailed me. It was a totally cool blast from the past.

Even better is the ministry that Jim is doing. He moved his whole family (except one grown up kid) to Bangkok, Thailand. They’ve moved into the middle of the prostitution district. They are helping rescue young girls out of a life of prostitution and sex-slavery.  Amazing stuff.


The ministry is called The Well (for similar reasons that my church’s young adult service is called The Well).

The Well primarily operates by showing unconditional love to these heartbroken, exploited young women. They provide housing and shelter. They also provide job-training so these women can make an income some other way than selling their bodies/souls.

studentsstudying.jpg     I’m really proud of and humbled by Jim and his family. If you want to read something really powerful, check out Jim’s blog.   It’s indescribably sad what these girls have to go through.  Jim tells the story in a way that is sensitive, but it’s still heart-wrenchingly graphic, so you’ve been warned.

You can also visit the ministry’s website: The Well.

How about sending up a quick prayer for Jim and The Well in Thailand?

“And the King will tell them, ‘I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” Matthew 25:40, NLT. 

Margi’s Memo: Some Morons I Met

Margi’s Memo
April 18, 2007
Margi.  A wife, mom, attorney, professor.  Married to a pastor.
All the Gals in our Church
Some Morons I Ran Into

As a parting shot, I called out, “You morons!” Then I hustled my daughter to her ballet class.

The morons in question were total strangers. The event was me rushing to get Josie to ballet on time. The occasion was them stealing my parking spot. The bottom line was how well I represented Jesus Christ. Not very well, I’m afraid.


Downtown Redding is confusing. Josie’s ballet school is downtown. One thing you should know about me is that I am extremely time conscious, or at least I was until I had children. I now understand why people are late.

Click here for the rest of this entry.