Wednesday, November 5, 2014

"The Barge"

This last Sunday we celebrated our time on "The Barge".  It was so cold ------ which I think was a good reminder of why we need to go inside.  When you don't have walls up at a church ------ both metaphorically & physically ------- there is some extreme discomfort that comes with that.  But, we have also experienced what worship can be like.  It can be in open spaces, it can be in the public square, it can be easy & simple, it doesn't have to cost a lot of money, it can be open to people from all walks of life, and it can be a time to live into God's Kingdom in imaginative and creative ways. 

As I have reflected back on our time of being on "The Barge" I am overwhelmed with the generosity of Carl Marshburn, who owns the Henrietta III and "The Barge".  He has been so kind to us and so generous with his resources.  I can't say thank you enough. 

Also, I am in awe of the many people that have made The Anchor their home through our time on "The Barge".  You all have truly been a blessing to me and words cannot express how grateful I have been to journey with you all through this time.  You all are passionate in your love for the Lord and in your love for one another.  I have beautiful images in my mind of standing and singing ------- and people are walking along the River Walk getting a glimpse at what "church" can be.  I have images of eating donuts and drinking coffee ------ and in that simple moment walls of division come tumbling down through that grace-filled act.  I have images of dogs coming to worship -------- and in that simple act God smiles as all creation tells of God's glory.  I have images of strangers holding hands and praying ------ I have images of people sharing their experiences with tear-filled eyes ------- I have images of reading scripture -------- I have images of black people & white people & asian people singing with one voice ------- I have images of children running -------- and in that moment, I hear Jesus say: "I make all things new". 

Thank you for a great summer of worshiping together with all of you saints of God.  I am humbled by the fact that I can call all of you my friends.  Let's live lives that are radical ------ and let's do it together.  Let's cast aside all the religious baggage, and the dividing walls of hostility.  And instead let us live lives for the common good ------- for in that grace-filled act we are proclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Hebrews 11.1-19

This coming Sunday we will be focusing on Hebrews 11.1-19.  This has one of the most famous passages from Hebrews in it.  It is verse 1: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."  This sets up the rest of the 18 verses.  Over and over again we hear the words "by faith".  We see "by faith" in vv 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 17.  And in the midst of this pericope we then hear of a longing for a heavenly city.  In v16 it says: "But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one."  The question that comes to me from this verse is whether we desire that better country? that heavenly one?

In Burlap to Cashmere's song titled "The Other Country" they sing:
Draw near the lamb's awaiting
Where the river runs thru the sky's align
From that painting of a ship
We have all been chosen
To the painter's creation
In his dream design
I can feel it over the line
I see the other country
I see the other side
Do not be afraid of this earthly city
Do not be afraid when the pharaoh's nigh 

In the midst of the stressful and divisive political season let us remember that we do not need to be afraid of the pharaohs that are trying to divide us and strike fear into us.  Our hope is in something greater than the republican party or the democratic party.  Our hope is found in something that is bigger than the political juggernaut that is trying to destroy everything in its path.  Instead, we as the church see something different.  We see with eyes of faith another city ----- a heavenly city ------ a better country.  For the slain lamb of God has called us to his side.  And uses people like us to make things new.   

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hebrews 1:3

Hebrews 1.3: "He is the reflection of God's glory and the exact imprint of God's very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word.  When he had made purification for sins, e sat down at teh right hand of the majesty on high."

In Jesus we truly see who God is ----- and in Jesus we see the imprint of the divine that has come in the flesh.  He has impacted us with the good news of God's grace.  That impact truly changes us and has caused humanity and the very cosmos to change. 

Christ's word has power ----- the power to sustain all things.  That sustaining word holds together the very fabric of the universe.  And the telos is found in Christ becoming the all in all.  For this great God YHWH has made a purification for sins.  Before, this bend that humanity caused in the creation had great influence upon the very cosmos.  But now, Christ has made a purification which affected that bend and is making straight the path before us. 

This imprint that God has placed upon the universe is found in a person.  In the person of Jesus we see the powerful word revealed.  In the person of Jesus we see humanity being created again.  In the person of Jesus we see God's glory.  In the person of Jesus we see YHWH ----- the great I AM. 

This changes everything.  For Christ sat down ----- so that we can know how to stand.  Christ died ----- so that we can know how to live.  Christ was born ----- so that we might know how to die.  Christ spoke ----- so that we might know how to listen.  Christ healed ----- so that we might know how to trust.  Christ fed ----- so that we might know how to eat.  Christ purified ----- so that we might know how to be.  Christ rose from the dead ----- so that we might speak from the ashes. 

A long time ago I wrote in a poem: "I am heaven and you are my answer."  There is a question ----- I am not sure what it is ----- and I am not sure where it comes from ----- but, I do know the answer to it.  It is us. 

The question is found in the homeless guy on the platform in the NYC Subway saying: "The angels have dirty faces."  The question is found in the loneliness and isolation of the man who sits at home by himself listening to televangelists and memorizing his Bible ----- but can't bring himself to be in fellowship with other believers.  The question is found in the business owner asking: "What's in it for me?" ----- knowing the whole time that wasn't the real question.  The question is found in the jailer who falls as Paul & Silas's feet saying "What must I do to be saved?"  The question is a heart beat, a smile, a step, a drop of water, a blade of grass ----- and the answer is us! 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hebrews 2:9

I was writing in my journal about Hebrews 2:9 and I thought I would share a portion with you.

"but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone."

I don't feel crazy for seeing you ----- but I do feel a great deal of love for you.  I do see Jesus.  I see you in DeAnne and our kids.  I see you in my friends.  I see you in baptism.  I see Jesus while mowing the grass.  I see Jesus in sunsets and dirty walls.  I see Jesus in the homeless guys waiting on a ride Sunday mornings to go and eat breakfast.  I see Jesus in marriage vows and confession.  I see Jesus in forgiveness and scripture.  I see Jesus in communion.  I see Jesus in the river.  I see Jesus in love and repentance.  I see Jesus in his disciples as they laugh together.  I see Jesus in my parents.  I see Jesus in my grandmother telling stories of God making us all different ----- like snow flakes.  I see Jesus in our inabilities and lack.  But I do see Jesus.

Jesus' glory is based on his suffering ----- and it is through his suffering ----- God tastes death.  I love you Lord ----- and I am thankful that you tasted death for all of us.  It is because grace that you tasted death.  It is God's grace that allows us to see you.  It is God's grace that made you a little lower than the angels.  It is God's grace that makes us part of the everyone.  

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Acts 17.1-9

This coming Sunday we will be focusing on Acts 17.1-9.  In this passage Paul & Silas go to Thessalonica.  While in Thessalonica they go to the Synagogue and argue for 3 days about how the Messiah was to suffer and rise from the dead.  Many people believed what they were saying ----- and not just the Jews ----- but also the Greeks.  Because of this many of the Jews became jealous (v5), and formed a mob and set the city in an uproar.  They went to the city government officials and said: "These people have been turning the world upside down" (v6).

Imagine just for a moment being the people that are accused of turning the world upside down?  What a great compliment that would be in today's day and age.  The church would be living into its peculiar and radical nature of proclaiming that there is another King ------ and it is not Caesar, or President Obama, or Shimon Peres, or Senator Kay Hagan, or Senator Richard Burr.  Instead our allegiance is to the God who overcame death, hell, and the grave.  Imagine the powerful establishment throughout our cities forming mobs to thwart this proclamation.  What a compliment that would be!

So my question is ------- why does this not happen? 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

One Year

I have been contemplating a lot lately what a year can do.  We moved to Wilmington, NC on June 18th, 2013.  As a family we have thoroughly enjoyed the friends we have made, and the many doors of opportunity that have opened for us to be actively involved in the life of our community.  I feel like starting in a new place as a family has granted us a time to grow closer with each other. 

As a pastor I feel like this has been a year to grow in faith.  To peal away the many layers of what it means to be the church ------- and attempt to get down to the core -------- it is an intriguing and exhausting process.  Continuously I have people ask me how it is going?  I have learned that I don't even have the language to answer that.  For my vocabulary has changed ------ and that is mostly due to the fact that I can't use words like buildings, land, and money.  When you stop talking about buildings, land, and money ------- what are you left with? 

What you are left with is discipleship, but it is not a discipleship that is programatic or didactic or top-down management.  Instead it is a discipleship that is relational, compassionate, restorative, and eclectic.  It is a discipleship that has to do with following Jesus ------- because followers of Jesus actually follow Jesus.  Therefore, we do not follow buildings, land, money, programing, smoke machines, laser shows ------- which in many ways are just an expensive ad for something cheap.  Instead we follow a revolutionary Messiah who calls us to lay down our own lives for the benefit of others ------ for the common good. 

As I reflect upon this last year I have hope.  Hope for what the church universal can be.  For we are called to a life that is radical ------- but at the same time so simple.  We are called to a life that looks like Jesus ------- not to a life that is a never-ending committee meeting.  The Holy Spirit fills us with the power to embody hope to the world.  And in that calling to lay down our lives, we will find who we are truly to be.  This is the place where we have peeled back all of the distractions of what people have made the "church" ------- and instead we can go and be the church by being a sent people ------- for God so loves the world that he has sent us. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014


I have been focusing much of my time looking at what it means to live out the value of restoration.  This is through the restoration of our relationship with God, community, ourselves, and creation.  So often we neglect to live out the wholeness that the Lord has called us to, for we focus so much time and energy into our personal relationship with the Lord -- but then forget about that relationship being intricately woven together with community and creation.

In the book of Jeremiah 30.17 it says: "For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, says the Lord, because they have called you an outcast: 'It is Zion; no one cares for her!'"  Here the Lord is saying that he will restore the Israelites health, heal their wounds, and restore their status.  God's restoration is holistic ----- it is a restoration of our relationship with creation, with community, and with ourselves.

Lesslie Newbigin writes: "To man thus in bondage and in self-contradiction, the message of salvation is sent.  Salvation means that man is released from this bondage, and that the contradictions of which we have spoken are overcome ..... It means the healing of that which is wounded, the mending of that which is broken, the setting free of that which is bound."

We believe that we are called to live lives of restoration ------ where we live as God's ambassadors in the world ------- offering healing, health, and the restoration of the status of people as children of God.  The Lord has called us to live lives of embodying hope ------ therefore the miracle of restoration can be seen through our actions and words.

An important part of our restoration with creation is our willingness to live simplified lives.  Therefore, we are called to re-use, recycle, and re-purpose.  Because God's restoration is holistic we also know that it is of vital importance that we live out our calling of restoration through simple actions that benefit all of the world. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Hebrews 6.13-20

I have been spending a lot of time with Hebrews 6.13-20 lately. The more I learn about the book of Hebrews the more I am intrigued by it. The writer crafts the words on the page in an intriguing and provocative way. A way that calls for us to respond in a tangible way ------- the way of hope.
In v15 we see that Abraham responds with patient endurance based on God's promise and oath to him. In the midst of that patient endurance he obtains the promise ----- the promise that was embodied in a son. The two unchangeable things are God's promise and God's oath. In v18 we can then find our refuge in those two unchangeable things. For in refuge we can seize the hope ------ the hope that is based on God's promise and God's oath to us. A promise that the Lord will bless us ------ so that we then can live lives that are a blessing to the world. A blessing that embodies hope in real and tangible ways.
In referring to those who have taken refuge, the commentator John Calvin writes: "By these words he intimates that we do not truly trust in God except when we forsake every other protection and flee for refuge to his sure promise, and feel assured that it is our only safe asylum." In this refuge we then find hope from the cares of this world. But it is not just a hope that is future oriented, but instead it is a hope that is found in the now. For this hope denotes a firmness, something that we can hold in our hands.
Continuing to v19 we find the image of the anchor. In this verse we see that the anchor is useful. Sometimes it is useful as a tool, and sometimes it is useful because it gives us hope
just by being on the boat. The anchor gives us hope because we know if the seas get rough, we can drop the anchor to give us firmness in the midst of the storm. John Calvin continues to comment on this group of verses by saying: "As long as we sojourn in this world, we stand not on firm ground, but are tossed here and there as it were in the midst of the sea, and that indeed very turbulent; for Satan is incessantly stirring up innumerable storms, which would immediately upset and sink our vessel, were we not to cast our anchor fast in the deep. For nowhere a haven appears to our eyes, but wherever we look water alone is in view; yea, waves also arise and threaten us; but as the anchor is cast through the waters into a dark and unseen place, and while it lies hid there, keeps the vessel beaten by the waves from being overwhelmed; so must our hope be fixed on the invisible God."
The anchor is sure and steadfast, safe and firm. From the anchor is a cable or chain that comes and links the boat to the anchor. That chain is to be God's people ------ that have committed to be linked together by the very blood of the lamb. For the chain links to the anchor ------ which is Christ. And Jesus has entered into the heavenlies, the inner shrine, as our great high priest ------- and now his followers are linked to him while also linked to the world. In this cable we then embody hope ------ for we are to no longer live for our own best interest ------ but instead live our lives for the common good. This is a life of self-emptying and self-abandonment ------ and in that we embody hope.
We have been impacted by this Jesus and now we are to be trained to be ambassadors of this good news. Ambassadors that proclaim a hope that is bigger than our circumstances and situations. For in that embodied hope we then can find who we are to be ----- one who imitates the ways of Christ in this world.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sunday, April 13th @ 9.45am

The question that we will be looking at this Sunday will be: "What has changed since the resurrection?"

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Sin & Salvation

I was looking over Lesslie Newbigin's book Sin and Salvation and found this great section on salvation. I had to share this challenging question that he lays out for us.
"But when all this has been said, there are still two serious difficulties which have to be considered. The first is this: love must be shown not only in deeds, but in deeds which are actually directed to the need of the other person. If I am drowning in a well and another man jumps into the well and rescues me, while he himself is drowned in the effort, then there can be no doubt about that man's love. He has given his life for me. But if I am attacked by a tiger I need a different kind of help. My friend may jump into the well and drown himself, but that will not rescue me from the tiger. In that case, even though my friend may jump into the well and drown himself, but that will not rescue me from the tiger. In that case, even though my friend gave up his life, I cannot say that he loved me or saved me. Christ gave up His life on the cross, but how does that save me? How does it rescue me from my sin? Unless we can show that there is some connection between Christ's death and my sin I cannot believe that Christ's death is a proof of love for me, or that it has saved me from sin. Clearly it is not enough simply to say that the cross is a revelation of God's love, unless we can answer these questions."

Thursday, April 3, 2014

WikiWorship Question #5

On Sunday, April 6th at 9.45am we will be gathering for WikiWorship at Hell's Kitchen (118 Princess Street - Wilmington). We will be covering this question that came to us online: "Why do Christians tend to pick and choose verses out of the Bible as scriptural support, yet dismiss other verses that may contradict their claims? Is it not okay to view the Bible as bits and pieces, rather than a whole?" All are invited to come.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


This Sunday, March 30th at 9.45am we are covering this question for WikiWorship: "How does the church reconcile the hostility toward homosexuality when it seems that it is no more vilified than divorce or even lust?" This is about as divisive of an issue we can have now-a-days. We see this in the news, and what we find are talking heads yelling at each other about opinions. What I long for is a respectful conversation that allows us to be authentic and real. In this we can embody hope ----- where we can create a place where it can be safe to talk about some of the most difficult questions of life ----- rather than a dangerous place to talk about little to nothing. In the book of Ephesians the Apostle Paul writes: "He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it." [Ephesians 2.15-16] Here we learn that in Christ he makes a new humanity ----- even though there was hostility ----- and this new humanity is reconciled at the cross. I would urge us all to approach this question from the foot of the cross. For at the foot of the cross we find who we are ------ sinners in need of a savior [1 Timothy 1.15].