Sunday, September 16, 2007

Lost in the WILD

You can get lost in the Angeles Forest, and eventually the sun will set. This was the lesson derived from our wilderness excursion last week.

It was Sunday morning, and Beccs was going back to N.C. to visit with family and help with a conference on Monday. The design of the hike was to get out in the woods for roughly 6-7 miles and just get some good time together before she left for the week. Little did we know how much our marriage would be tested on this trip.

We were told by one of the people working at the park that there was an amazing loop trail in some high elevation cedars that people often spotted big-horned sheep. We could not refuse, as it met our initial criteria of seven miles. That and we really wanted to see some sheep.

It was GORGEOUS!!!! We summited the mountain at 8,036 feet and sat down in a small dug out spot between some cedars and pulled out the ol' back packing stove and made some hot soup, sandwiches and tea. All this while breathing in the cold upper elevation breeze and the smell of the surrounding cedars. It was quite ministering to our souls as we both had moments of feeling God in His creation. We also did a little hiking and climbing up there as well.

Oh but how we did not know where the trail was. As we exited the mountain and hiked all the way to the other base, we came across a sign that all but told us we had gone the wrong way. "Nonsense" I (Josh) thought, we must be very close. After roughly three miles and the sun starting to set, I sucked up my pride and confirmed, we are not going the right way. So after re-climbing the mountain and backtracking another 7-8 miles, we got back just as the sun was fading over the mountainside. Legs intact but numb, food and water completely gone, and two exhausted hikers eyeing their car like it was a newborn baby. It was an amazing hike. In the course of getting lost we stumbled across beautiful fields, lush GREEN cedars, and all this backed right up against the desert. More importantly, we got some great time together and both of us would concur that our marriage was strengthened and bettered by our time of being lost in the Angeles Forest. I hope you enjoy the pics and get lost in the woods for 15 miles sometime soon.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Book Review: The Forgotten Ways

Hey all, this is a book review I just did for a class on Alan Hirsch's The Forgotten Ways. I know some people are kind of wondering what this book is about, especially those who have read the The Shaping of Things to Come. So here is a quick overview. enjoy.

The Forgotten Ways is author Alan Hirsch’s follow-up book to the coauthored The Shaping of Things to Come. It picks up where this book left off with fleshing out what the missional church looks like not only practically, but it delves more into the Biblical and historical aspects of the missional reality of church and evangelism.
For his models Alan focuses first on his failures and successes in the missional church in his home of south Melbourne, Australia. He goes on to focus on the Jewish understanding of Torah and also on the rise of the Chinese Christian church. He reveals that in his assessment of the Jewish culture, which Jesus understood and grew up in, God was a part of all that is life. “Therefore, everything – one’s work, one’s domestic life, one’s health, one’s worship – has significance to God. He is concerned with every aspect of the believer’s life, not just the so-called spiritual dimensions.” (91) This gives a model of what the church was and still is: a group of believers where God is the center of everything they do and are. He goes on to also look at the Chinese church’s rise in Christianity, despite the religious persecution over the years. Alan thinks that because of the persecution and forced choice to have to operate without a center of authority, there was a huge development of cell groups and shared leadership. This allowed the Chinese to share the Gospel in a way that was personal, relational, and with great risk. (85)
A great deal of the book centers around a model that Alan created which he calls mDNA. This stands for the missional DNA and represents the core elements that must be present for a missional movement to take place. It is the culmination of his research of the Jewish church into the apostolic church directly after Jesus, combined with his research of the Chinese Christian church. (For clarification, when I refer to the Chinese Christian church I am referring to what would be seen as the Chinese underground church, not the Three-Self Church.) The core elements he gives are: Jesus is Lord, Disciple making, Missional-Incarnational Impulse, Apostolic Environment, Organic Systems, and Communitas. All of these deserve greater detail than what I can give them, however; I do want to touch on one of them. His emphasis on discipleship gives the sense of paramount importance. This he thinks is the one asset outside of Jesus being Lord that will destroy a church the quickest. He says: “This is so because it is the essential task of discipleship to embody the message of Jesus, the Founder. In other words, this is the strategic element and therefore a good place to start.” (102) One will see over the course of the book that embodying the message of Jesus is at the heart of the entire work. The author seems to view this as a truth of the faith, one which permeates its core existence. In the closing paragraph of the book he makes the statement, “The discovery of great truths brings a certain responsibility to live by them.” I think for Alan he is speaking of the potential of individuals as the keepers of the Gospel of Christ and their responsibility and innate capability in being able to provide it to the nations.
Overall, this book is extremely challenging for those of us who enjoy the confines of the church buildings. This is because Alan shows that God does not reside in those buildings, but within the people who inhabit them. This is not a book that should be read with an objective mind, but should be taken with an openness and excitement that gives you the reader a freedom to exist outside the margins of your understanding of the Gospel and what your relationship is with it. One should be ready to encounter the forgotten ways of the Church.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Get ready to live

So after a long overnighter of backpacking and camping Beccs and I came home to an evening of rest and relaxation. However, Sunday would not prove to be as relaxing as the night previous. "Why?" you ask. Because (in a Forest Gump style of voice) WE WERE MAKING SAUSAGE!

Oh yes, the adventure started at a quaint little Italian shop down the street where the less than able walking owner informed me to my jubilant delight, "Yeh, we's a-got da casings for sauuusage, butta you hafta pay da fuulll price." Though extravagantly priced, I was delighted to fork over the dough to enter into the vast and challenging world of charcuterie.

After a while of cutting and grinding the stuffing would begin. This I documented via my little computer camera.

We are beaming with stuffed pork anticipation.

Hard at work.

Luther looks on giving his own critical analysis of our stuffing technique.

14 beautiful links... we are so proud.

We had fun. We ate jambalaya. We rubbed our tummies afterwards. Hooray.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Youth and College Ministry (part 1)

One of the issues of ministry I (Josh) have been thinking through as of late is the way we as the Church minister to youth and college age students. I have been wondering why we use high school and college ministry as an introductory level job on our way up the pastoral corporate ladder. The truth is, is that the future of our church is being handed the most under-qualified amongst us (being new pastors) respectively. Honestly, I do not want this to look as if I just want to complain, because I am actually going somewhere with this. That is, I want to think that there is a reason we should make careers of high school and college ministry. I am quite passionate about loving the constant new generation of the Church and seeing where their hearts are taking the Church. However, in a time where 15-27 year olds are searching for communal identity, vocational identity, and even more (as we see evident in the rising of post-modern theology) spiritual identity. I think the answer lies in discipleship, the kind that breeds discipleship. This is a great vision for the Church in general, but I think it starts with the youth and young adults. I write this as a 25 year old who constantly battles with his identity in his studies, current job, future vocation, marriage, and especially his relationship with God.

Friday, May 18, 2007


Hey, Josh here,

So recently I had the honor of getting to participate in the United States Barista Competition at the 2007 USBC. This was quite a growing experience in a way that I had not anticipated. The obvious is how much I learned about coffee. Pulling better shots, tasting things I had never tasted before, and talking about coffee in a vernacular which I am only now beginning to ascertain. However, I did not count on the friends and community I would encounter there. No secrets, just excitement. I had just watched a documentary on the growing and exportation of Ethiopian coffee titled Black Gold before going to the competition and had began thinking about what coffee REALLY is. Is it this amazing beverage that through snobbery and years of shelling out big bucks becomes a beverage of the pretentious, or was it something beyond that. After watching some of the most amazing baristas in the world strut their stuff and learning so much with and from them backstage, I found my answer. Coffee is a drink. However, in the right social context it helps people to sit down, slow down and socialize. It can bring people together of all walks of life and make you think, "Wow, up until this cup of coffee I would have never talked to this person." Furthering that thought, I think that coffee is still just a drink. When compared to something the Gospel, it makes me wonder why it is so hard for me to sit down over that and share my love for Jesus with people. Coffee I can do, but Jesus is a lot harder. But why, coffee is just a drink, Jesus is God and infinately more valuable and important. It makes me think that I am trying to share the Gospel, instead of just letting the Gospel speak for itself... kind of like coffee does. Any thoughts?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Welcome to our blog

Hey y'all, thanks for checking out our blog. We are hoping to use this blog to chat about what is going on in our world out here in Pasadena, CA. We seem to have a lot of crazy and sometimes slightly amazing conversations, and we wanted to share them with you and hear what you have to say. On a personal note, I am coming down off a crazy time at the United States Barista Competition, so I will probably be writing on that soon... I think. We'll see. So anyways, thanks for listening, here's Becs.

Hello everyone! Thanks for looking at our blog. My thoughts right now revolve around how to teach piano to 4 year olds and how to in gerneral motivate my students. Josh and I are reading through the Qu'ran for our Islam class and have insteresting conversations on what ministry to muslims looks like. It has been challenging! We'll talk more about that later....