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Wednesday, October 31, 2007


If you didn't already know how much I admire Rob Bell and his work then make sure you check out the latest Nooma vid.

It's online for 48 hours, well less than that now. It will be up in full until Nov 2 at 9a pst.

You can see it here. It's called name.


she said? 

There's rumors afloat about a possible Office spinoff. Not sure how I feel about that.

Maybe it will take place in a mid-sized paperclip company.



Monday, October 29, 2007

momentum pt 3 

Original post, pt 1.5, pt 1.75, pt 2

Section 1 - What is worship?

Hmmm...in many ways how we respond to this question will ultimately shape which direction and tone that the rest of the conversation takes. This is after all an open and interactive conversation and has become much more than just my thoughts and ideas.

I guess worship can be broken down to both personal worship and then corporate worship. For the sake of our discussion I think we will try and focus on the idea of corporate worship, though I think there may be some strong undertones of what it means to "personally worship" during a time gathered with other people.

To gather as a body of God. If I recall my understanding of the Desert Fathers (someone correct me if I stray too far), for those of you who don't know who they were, they were a group of men who in the 1st or 2nd century, came to a radical decision to abandon all comforts and distractions and live in the midst of the desert to be completely devoted to understanding God, think monks, but old school. These men would be in solitary situations, scattered throughout the desert regions, but once a week they would take the time and effort to come together and spend time sharing and encouraging one another. In essence here we have one of the earlier forms of "corporate worship" at least within the Christian tradition; synagogue, that's a (slightly) different discussion.

In my mind I hold the understanding that at least worship can and should be a place for those of us who spend our time in the "desert" to come together and reflect on our time apart and what God has been doing during that time.

Worship for me at least, is a profound, set apart time where we (I) get the chance to fully and undividedly seek God and do that in the company of others. In addition, it seems like the act of corporate worship needs to be put right smack within the frame of what it means to fully sabbath. To stop (here's the silence and momentum connection) and find peace and quiet amongst our overly busy lives, seems as important, if not more important more, now than ever.

The questions I start to have when I think about corporate worship leads us towards questions of content and purpose of content. First let me say I like liturgy and hold it in high regard, the number of episcopal and catholic and even lutheran services I've been to have something almost "magical" or "mystical" to them. Maybe it's the tradition part, maybe it's knowing that others around the world are doing the same thing as I, or maybe it's just the fact that there is a simplicity to following liturgy. Side note, I have really, really enjoyed the time I have spend engaged with the Divine Hours, which in a way is liturgy for daily personal (and sometimes corporate) worship.

When we worship as a community, is it about what we do or how we do it? The components of the service or the attitude/posture we take while doing them? The sermon or the reflection? The sounds or the silence? Or is it all of these? Where is the balance that makes room for those who have different understandings of what worship is or is supposed to be?

I guess all of this will lead us to our next section about who is worshipping.

One last thought, have we made the act of worshipping too complicated?

What is worship to you?

coming soon...
Section 2 - Who is worshipping?
Section 3 - Worship reflects culture.
Section 4 - How to worship (spaces and format).
Section 5 - Other issues.


EmergentSoCal Nov 1 

Just a reminder EmergentSoCal will be having an event this Thurs Nov 1st at Fuller Seminary. Go here for full details. Hope to see some of you there.


Friday, October 26, 2007

ghetto 81 

New SPECIAL Ghetto Blog


Thursday, October 25, 2007

momentum pt 2 

Original post, pt 1.5, pt 1.75

Just a few words before we get into the meat of this all. A reminder: my blog is a place where I throw out thoughts that I am having. Many times they are uncensored and not completely formed. Which in some cases may lead them to seem "one way", they are intended in most cases for me to start to process thoughts. I hope that when we engage with them we are doing so in hopes of a starting point and not a final say in anything.

A note about me and church: While many of you may know I have more than a few "issues" with church, I have not given up on church, nor will I stop from trying to find ways to participate in and with church. Though I find myself in a place where I do want to explore ideas about church and how and why church operates."

First let me thank all of you for participating in this discussion, even though it may be taking place both here and at Matt's blog. I encourage you to continue with the discussion either in the comments or on your own blogs (if you do write your own posts let me know so I can direct people that way).

Second I need to clarify a few thing in regards to comments made on my original post. In regards to criticizing church methodology: I try and not to come across as criticizing, but if anything I try and take things that I notice and have decided that I want to explore more in depth. And in many ways they happen to be areas of the church that are not commonly talked about. Which in many ways leads me to seemingly be picking on one thing. Instead I want to view it as bringing up an issue that may just need to be talked about.

In regards to my needs. I think it is fine for me to bring up things that I desire. While I may contextualize them into a broader topic, it is from my experiences that I draw, when I talk about issues that are close to my heart. It is never my goal to sit and pick on something which I acknowledge that I am a product of and a contributor to, but that does not mean that I will remain quiet about issues that I want to explore.

Matt: in your initial post on this topic, you address the fact that I have not been a part of "Sunday morning worship planning over a long period" which may be true in the simplest of facts, but you know that I have had a long standing relationship with youth ministry and have been directly involved if not responsible for planning weekly services/groups. Yes there are differences to the two, but in many ways they are very similar. Also it must be noted that I do have a vast knowledge of the inner workings of church life and in my many years in working with the church I would like to think that I have gathered more knowledge than most in the how and process of planning worship services that I can draw upon for many of my thoughts.

Thirdly: I think my statement about the leading of the spirit may have been taken out of context. In many ways I was comparing the differences between many presbyterian and mainline denominations to the practices and culture of evangelicals and pentecostals. I was not inferring that pastors and worship directors do not gain leading from the spirit during their time of preparation during the week before the service. But it was a comment more about an openness towards changing and amending a schedule in the midst of a service, as opposed to being tethered to a schedule.

Now on to more thoughts and ideas about the larger topic of corporate worship and space and silence.

After reading all of the comments to Matt's response and then the subsequent responses to the comments, I have decided to move towards Dani's larger questions about worship as well as Tony Myles' questions about groups (both minor and major) within worship. Which will in turn lead us towards Mary's comments about culture. Which hopefully will lead us towards Anastasia's comments about how worship spaces are set up and the structure of worship (and the idea of freedom during worship both in movement and involvement). (So I hope to touch a little on what everyone has said.)

Let's break this down a bit more, which may benefit me in being able to break this up into a few more posts, so that I'm not up all night writing one uber post.

Section 1 - What is worship?
Section 2 - Who is worshipping?
Section 3 - Worship reflects culture.
Section 4 - How to worship (spaces and format).
Section 5 - Other issues.

At this point I'll start a new post with each section.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

momentum pt 1.75 

Original post, pt 1.5

Matt has followed up on his response post by responding to some comments that he's received on his post, here, here, and here.

Please head over and read those and sometime wed night I will get a chance to respond with my thoughts. So hang in there, join the conversation either here or there and we'll see where we end up.


Monday, October 22, 2007

momentum pt 1.5 

Original post.

Matt has posted a response to my momentum post here. I will post more thoughts soon.


Sunday, October 21, 2007


Looks like the Lofgrens are having to evacuate due to the fire up near their house in santa clarita. I will be playing host to refugees tonight.

Prayers for those who are suffering loss in the multiples fires here in so cal.



Even though I've been going to church for the last few weeks (yes, I know that's pretty big for some of you loyal readers), I've decided to take a break this week.

I'm going to use some time this morning to reflect on some of the things that I have noticed about the way church operates that makes it a little hard for me to be there.

This isn't a wine wine wine post, but more of a serious thoughtful expression of the things that no one probably notices that make a huge impact on how I (and me alone for the sake of this post) worship.

My main area that I'd like to spend a little time thinking about this morning is: speed.

Much of what I am about to talk about comes from my experiences and practices with contemplative practices over the past few years, and that core values of those practices which I think could greatly add to contemporary church life (services).

Most of this you won't be able to think about until next week when you are sitting in church again, but I urge you to think about them and notice next time you sit in worship.

The hour of power, 60 minuets, the 11th hour. Yes there needs to be time constraints built into how we do church, and while I do not come from a pentecostal background, time limits can be good. Though more often than not it seems that time restrains or schedules lead to making sure we get everything done on schedule and in an orderly fashion (yes I know that last statement was very presbyterian). Sometimes this even leads us to rush. Cut a few minuets off of the sermon because announcements went long. Play and extra song because the offering was short. You get the point.

In many ways my discontent comes from the aspect that sometimes worship seems a little to planned. You know what I mean? It's my "stand up, sit down, fight fight fight!" theory. There's not a lot of room for the leading of the spirit, yes this is moving towards pentecostalism, but hey even us presbyterians could learn something. Schedules in my opinion can stifle what God may want to be doing. Just look at your bulletin that you brought home this week. Does it look the same as last week, same story only different names? Plug and play?

I know routines are good and there is much about god that is and always be, but what about that second paradoxical side of god that is unpredictable, the part that leaves us stunned and amazed, because in no way would we have been able to fathomed such a thing?

I need more room. I need more space to sit and think, explicitly during the time we call worship, not just on my own. I think there's something very important, call it community call it the corporate part, of being with other people, but being able to be still with all those people around us doing the same thing. We all sing together, we all say prayers and confessions together, why can't we sit and be silent and listen together, yet separate, thinking about our own personal lives?

I need time. How long is the space between the time of confession and the time of pardon? Never long enough for me. How long is the time between let's pray and amen? Even prayer has become precise and ordered.

I need sheer silence. Why do we wear mics in worship? To make sure people can hear what is going on. But how little (to no) time is spent with the mics picking up nothing?

I think you may see the heart at what I am trying to say. I need less from worship, I need more structured time to be alone with god in a room full of other people. And then I need time with those people to talk about the things that I've realized during my silence. So that we may share our lives with each other, during a time of corporate worship. I also need the time to sing and pray and learn with others too, but for now I want to focus on the things that I feel we are lacking.

Yes many of the things that I just mentioned can and should be done at home or on your own, but there's a reason that we come together to meet as one body of christ. And there's something magical and mystical that happens when we do, so why not put intentional time for those things that (you could argue) should/could be done on one's own or at home.

I think the value is knowing that you are not alone, and knowing that we as a community are willing to spend the time to do these things together, there's a sense of support when we all sit quietly for an extended period of time and wrestle with god, together.

Then there's the value of spending time to debrief with the people around you. And here's why I still think pews are a bad idea (but that's really a whole other post).

I know a good share of pastors, and I know how much time and energy it takes to plan a weekly worship service (heck I've had to do it myself). But how much easier would it be for them to be able to write into the schedule of worship the words.

Space intentionally left blank.

Space intentionally left blank.

Space intentionally left blank.

Space intentionally left blank.

Leaving words out doesn't mean we lose the opprotunity to have people hear about god. It might just even be better than talking about god, since we too often get things wrong. Why not just go to the source?

Maybe it's that I expect too much out of a church service. Or maybe it's that a good ol restructuring could do us some good.

In many ways I desire things to be simpler. Less of us and more of god. Less talking before the time of confession and more time confessing. Less time with the actual sermon and more time wrestling (with others present) about how god is challenging us. Less organization and more space to move, both order and physically. Let me take the time I need to be fully ready to come to the cup (communion), instead of standing in line to come to the cup.

Many of these topics could have their own post as we could explore the value that each element of worship has and how we can best use our time to fully draw out the significance of each.

Maybe that could be my book.

I hope this starts a thought process, it's a lot and a lot fast, but I hope I am touching on truths here, some for my own benefit and relationship to church, but more for the benefit of others and how we all experience worship, together.



It's a beautiful windy day. The amazingly strong gusts of wind make the most queer sounds that demand your attention every time they gust up.

The view from my window of the trees bending to their max and still not snapping in stress amazes me and gives me the pleasure of knowing the creativity of god.

All that to say that the wind knocked out the power at home. I was in the middle of a long blog post (which will be posted above), so in lieu of that I started re-reading Sex God by Rob Bell. Now I'm sitting at a "certain coffee place" only thanks to a gift card working getting the previously mentioned post up and then spending some time readying before I try and find some people to go and have lunch with.

It should be a nice day. I love it how simply life is without power. Though the cause and effect was for me to leave the house, good thing, but then I brought my computer with me which kinda defeats the purpose. But I really wanted to finish my thoughts for the day, so here I am.

update 2:59p
There are a few fires going on in So Cal right now and the smoke from one up in santa clarita has blown down into the valley due to the big winds.

Here are a couple of shots from my bedroom window.

In other news, my friend Kristie Vosper's church burnt down this morning in the latest malibu fire. Go to her blog and let her know you are praying for her church.


Saturday, October 20, 2007


Just wanted to highlight some events (both passed and upcoming).

I missed a few events this year that I really wanted to go to.

The first being the Emergent gathering in Glorietta New Mexico that was at the beginning of Oct. It's a informal gathering time with just a few hundred people who get together and share life for a few days. I've really wanted to go, but for the last few years things just haven't worked out for me to go. Maybe next year. More info about the event here.

The other event that is happening right now is the National Youth Workers Convention put on by Youth Specialities and Zondervan. It's always a great time to reflect on youth ministry and to see old friends and just know there are thousands of other people out there who do the same thing as you. So hi Marko, hope things are going well. Sorry I couldn't make it this year, hopefully next year. See my posts from last year here.

Thirdly, and probably the one that pertains to the most of you would be our upcoming EmergentSoCal event that is going to be taking place on Nov 1st from 7-9p in Pasadena at Fuller Seminary. It's just going to be more of an informal meet up to help introduce people to EmergentSoCal and to do some brainstorming about where we want things to head in the future. So please feel free to join us. All the info can be found here and here's the link to the general EmergentSoCal site.

Sometimes I just wish I could be a full time conference attendee, it would be pretty cool. I'm always hearing about things that I want to go to, but they are usually always too far away and/or cost too much money. Maybe someday I'll work for a rich church that can afford to send me gallivanting around the country bringing back info and research from all these places. Or conversely I can become famous and speak at all these things and then I'll get paid to do it and I'll get free trips all over the place.

Anyone need a youth camp speaker? Feel free to contact my representation (which would be me). I'm serious on this one. I'd love to speak at a camp.

Anyways. I'm up past my bedtime thinking about all the cool things going on and all of my awesome friends that I don't get to see often enough, cause I really only see them at conferences and such. I miss you guys, you know who you are.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

ghetto 80 

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

giving for 

A few posts ago, I asked for topics to write on. Katie suggested forgiveness.

Well I find myself in the midst of trying to forgive, so writing on the subject either will be quite illuminating or quite unfruitful. So here goes...

To find one's self in a place of needing to forgive, in some ways implies that wrong has been done. Hurt, betrayal, mistrust, loss, or injustice. A deep need for us to give when all reason suggests that we should take. Usually we are the ones who have lost, we are the ones left with hurt, we are the ones who feel we are owed something.

Here's where forgiveness loses it's rationality. Forgiveness like grace, defies convention and heals what should be able to be healed, at least by anything we can do.

Forgiveness, reconciliation, love. The mending of things that have been torn or ripped.

Though it seems that often times even when we desire forgiveness, we may state it with our words, or think that it is something that we want, but often enough we never fully embrace forgiveness until we find it deep within our hearts. Coming from a place that is intangible and separate from both emotion and thought. A place that is known only and intimately by God and only God.

This is the mystery of forgiveness. We do not deserve it, we shouldn't be able to give it. Yet it is something that we comprehend only by experiencing it.

I'm not good at forgiving, and in many ways feel like a hypocrite for trying to write about it's mysteries and power. As much as I'd want to be unabashed about forgiving and receiving forgiveness, my selfish heart and soul wins.

For when we withhold forgiveness, both given and received, we retain power. The power to hold grudges or hold onto hurt. When we renounce forgiveness as an option it gives us the upper hand. Yet forgiveness strives to level the playing field, or even lower us to the lowest common denominator. And we don't usually like this. We want the ability to feel like we are in control, for with forgiveness we lose all control and God takes over. As with most things that have to do with God, we lose and God wins. Power's lure is a great and dangerous one. For if we give in to power, it usually only creates greater hurt, greater resentment, greater loss, greater hurt. And ultimately less power. Without forgiveness we only really have perceived power. God shows us that true power lies within the heart of forgiveness. A place where we empty ourselves upon those who we have wronged or who have wronged us. A final act of giving that last coin from our purse into the box of offering, right after we metaphorically have been robbed of all except for that last coin.

Am I ready to forgive?

It is a question we all must face and stare directly into the eyes of. A cold deep penetrating glare of truth.

Most of me wants to say yes, I know it will help me move on. I know it is the right thing to do. Though like I said, the dark part of me doesn't want to. It likes the anger, it likes the bitterness, it likes being the victim.

I like being the victim.

Forgiveness isn't about being or not being it's about otherness. The otherness of knowing that the mere act of forgiving isn't about us, it's about trusting that God is setting things right. Resetting things to the order that only God can create.

Yes I know that sounds very modernistic and not very postmodern, but the truth of God in so many ways trumps both modernity and post modernity.

In the same way the act and gesture of forgiveness trumps everything that is encapsulated within the need to forgive.

All of this is not to say that forgiveness is easy. It is far from easy. As I hope you have gathered. It's downright complicated. But the one thing that it is not is impossible. It will take time. It will take a true heart. It will take more than just yourself.

Full forgiveness, the kind that is embodied in God and God alone, is not something to be taken lightly or given without serious intention. It changes lives. Both of those receiving and those giving.

I am in need of a change of life. More often than not, on a daily basis. Too many things to list and so much that it would incapacitate me to think of it all.

How to begin this process of forgiving and being forgiven?

Wanting to just doesn't seem to make the cut. It's a start but still not enough. In all reality I have to go with: by the grace of God.

I do know from experience both personal and shared that forgiveness changes lives and restores what was once broken.

It is a journey, a process...

A process I am being put through...

right now.


Friday, October 12, 2007


Some cool and new changes over at EmergentSoCal.

Go check it out!!


Thursday, October 11, 2007

ghetto 79 


Dani Forbess has a BLOG oh joy!!

Give her some blog love!!!



tuesdays with jamie and karen lofgren
tuesdays with katie, bobby, eliane, peter and mike

thursdays with the souzas, amy and justin

good times, good times


Monday, October 08, 2007


Read, write, watch poker? I can't decide.

Well I guess it's write some and keep poker on in the background.

Here comes some major rambling...just to warn you.

First off, I must publicly state once again that I am discontented about the state of this blog (not the design element, that's a different story).

I feel I have let many of you down, in my lack of substance. I realize that most of my posts have revolved around simply either tv or other marginal things. Sorry.

For the most part I'm feeling good about life. Not the best, but not bad. The one part that I really feel that is not the best of situations is my thought life.

I haven't been thinking. I haven't been reading, which usually prompts my thinking and writing. I want more time and desire to be thinking about church, god, relationships and such. I want to be able to sit down and come up with substantial thoughts and questions, but too often I find that I'm too tired or lazy to do such things. Tv, internet, dvds and such are far easier to fall into. They don't require much and are seemingly relaxing.

I have found solstice in at least one aspect of my life. It's quite calming and truly relaxing to spend time walking around trader joe's. It's the one thing that I know will always clear my mind.

I know that sounds a little weird but there's just something about it.

Again, I have to say that I'm blessed with knowing some really really great people. Just the last 3 days have been filled with some great convos that I really appreciate. I truly value the friends that I have.

Well I think I have run out of ramblings for now.

There may be some things on the horizon for me in the near to semi-distant future. Not really ready to talk about them now, but don't fret I'll let you know if thing start down that road.

Let me leave you with this question (which I know I've asked before).

Are there things theological or otherwise that you'd like me to write on. I'll try to follow through on them for you.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Moments away from the season premiere of Pushing Daisies on abc. We'll see how that goes.

TV somehow keeps drawing me back over and over. I'll post more after the show.

update 9:00p
(note: I will not link to the shows referenced below, you should be smart enough to get to their sites)
First impressions of the show: I like it. Take the movie "big fish" and anything by tim burton and mix in some witty and clever dialogue that reminds me even of dostoevsky, along side cute and a children's bedtime story tone and you have Pushing Daisies.

It captures innocence along side a mystery/detective plot. The visuals are quite stunning and (at least so far) there are great potentials. It's definitely focused on relationships and understanding character. Two things that I definitely like in a show. So I guess until lost returns, I have a date on wed nights at 8p.

On to the broader subject of my tv habits.

I went on a longer stretch where tv wasn't something that I made a point to invest time in. Mainly because at the last place I lived the reception sucked and so that made it quite easy only to watch dvds and such and not start into a weekly activity.

All that changed for a number of reasons. Primarily Lost was the start of it all. Such a great show. Then I finally got around to liking the office, and kicked myself for not liking it sooner. Then came heroes, which is equally good. Beauty and the Geek is a little lower on the list but still something I like to follow.

Then there's this fall's season, with the office already on the plate alongside heroes that was 2 nights. Then I started watching chuck on nbc before heroes and that seems good enough so far. I've been a my name is earl fan off and on, since it was before the office, and I even caught the premiere of journey man last week and it was ok. So I think I may have over committed myself. I think I'm up to at least 3 nights of wanting to watch something.

Though I must duly note that I can be a bit freer since most networks have online viewing capability. It definitely came in handy for heroes and lost last season. I could get a few weeks behind and still catch up.

That's the update on the fall tv season. I'm still not a fan of cbs and fox has been lackluster other than the simpsons. I did watch back to you, but was really disappointed aside from the good cast that's on that show. It just felt too predictable and like every other sitcom that I've seen.

What are you watching?


Monday, October 01, 2007


God is so good at putting all my crap into total perspective.

Prayers for my friends, and their family. Lots of em.



ghetto 78