Friday, December 31, 2010

My Last Book of 2010

Just finished the last book I'll read in 2010.
It was the book, "A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies."
If I quoted the book, you probably wouldn't believe it. The Spaniards made the Nazis look like neighborhood bullies.

Here's the summary from the book jacket.
"A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies' is... the story of the Spanish Domincan Priest Bartolome De Las Casas, who came to the Americas in the 16th Century. Immediately, he was struck by the inhumane ways in which the Native people's were treated by the European explorers and conquerors. Las Casas went on to be a leading opponent of slavery, torture, and genocide of the Native Americans by the Spanish colonists. [the book] is his personal account, with chapters covering Cuba, Nicaragua, Hispanolia, Guatamala, Venezuela, Florida and many other areas conquered by the Spaniards.
De Las Casas (1484-1566), was a 16th century Spanish Dominican Priest and the first resident bishop of Chiapas. As a settler in the New World he witnessed, and was driven to oppose, the torture and genocide of the Native Americans by the Spanish colonists and pushed for rights of the natives appealing to the imperial court of Charles V. His stance for the African slaves' rights was later than the one for Native slavery."

What a stud! We really ought to substitute "De Las Casas Day" in place of Columbus Day.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Party in the Desert

If I were a sports writer (and my love of sports and love for writing occassionaly prompts me to fantasize about that) I'd start my column with the following line:

"The nightmare of a season had a fairytale finish." Something like that...

Link to ESPN article and highlights.

In Iowa bowl lore, Gabbert to Hyde will come in second only to Tate to Hollaway.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Colbert and Christmas

Christmas Holy Week
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogMarch to Keep Fear Alive

Jesus Is a Liberal Democrat
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogMarch to Keep Fear Alive

“if this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we’ve got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition — and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”

Monday, December 27, 2010

Paul the Pacifist (?)

In the somewhat near future, I'll be leading the congregation through a study of Romans. I've started the long process of preparing however, and at the advice of the NT professor at Nazarene Theological Seminary, I'm starting my study with Reading Paul.

An early section discusses Paul's conversion. Paul was converted from the mission of violently eliminating and protecting purity of doctrine and commitment to God (by killing those wayward Jews who worshipped a cursed man, Jesus) to proclaiming the inclusive and life-changing Kingdom and gospel of Jesus through means that were nonviolent to his enemies but resulted in violence to himself. Paul had "the combination of zealous religiosity and violence that is something with which we are all too familiar today." But after Paul's conversion, he "abandoned his former, violent zeal for a zeal for the Lord defined by accepting rather than inflicting suffering."

Author Micheal Gorman goes on to pen this gem of a section:
"It is easy to think of Paul as a preacher or pastor, even as an example. It is more difficult for us to see him as a critic of empire or a peacemaker, much less a pacifist. Yet the turn to nonviolence is at the very heart of Paul's conversion, and his gospel. Paul's pacifism, as we will see further in chapter 11, was rooted in his gospel's proclamation of how God in Christ had treated enemies and insurgents against the divine order with reconciling, suffering love (Romans 3:9-26; 5:6-11; 2 Corinthians 5:18-19). This nonviolent divine love was then manifested in Paul's own practice of absorbing violence without retaliation (1 Corinthians 4:10-14) and communicated to his churches as the only appropriate lifestyle for those converted by and to the love of God (1 Thessalonians 5:15; Romans 12:9-21). We do not hear the whole gospel according to Paul - or perhaps we do not hear it at all- if we do not hear this essential dimension. Nonviolence is not negotiable for Paul the convert and apostle.

"In Paul's day, Jewish zealous nationalism that focused on Israel's internal purity was not the only temptation to violence. That nationalistic zeal was also directed outwardly, toward an oppressive, violent regime - the imperial power of Rome. Paul would become a critic (at least an implicit one) of that form of violence, too - violence in the name of justice, peace, and security. Based on a misinterpretation of Romans 13:1-7, Paul is often portrayed as a political conservative who supported Rome, and perhaps all forms of political authority, even tyranny. However, like Jesus, he was a critic of imperial values such as domination and of imperial claims like diving status for emperors and divine blessing on the empire's ambitions. Paul mocked the Roman claim of providing pax et securitas (1 Thessalonians 5:3), offered an alternative form of divine justice, and proclaimed as Lord a criminal crucified by a Roman power - rather than Roman power incarnate (the emperor). A politics of subversion, not intentional but as an inevitable consequence of the gospel, is central to Paul and to those who read his letters as Scripture. In that sense, Paul was a good, prophetic Jew."

It seems that the parts of the North American church who have been swept along by the idolatrous tide of nationalism and put their faith in the myth of redemptive violence rather than the crucified-but-now-risen Lamb desperately need to rediscover the Paul of Scripture.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Christmas Story

This is from the 12th chapter of Revelation.

Revelation 12

The Woman and the Dragon
1 Then I witnessed in heaven an event of great significance. I saw a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head.2 She was pregnant, and she cried out because of her labor pains and the agony of giving birth.
3 Then I witnessed in heaven another significant event. I saw a large red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, with seven crowns on his heads.4 His tail swept away one-third of the stars in the sky, and he threw them to the earth. He stood in front of the woman as she was about to give birth, ready to devour her baby as soon as it was born.
5 She gave birth to a son who was to rule all nations with an iron rod. And her child was snatched away from the dragon and was caught up to God and to his throne.6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where God had prepared a place to care for her for 1,260 days.
7 Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels.8 And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven.9 This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels.
10 Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens,

"It has come at last—
salvation and power
and the Kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Christ.*
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters*
has been thrown down to earth—
the one who accuses them
before our God day and night.
11 And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb
and by their testimony.
And they did not love their lives so much
that they were afraid to die.
12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens!
And you who live in the heavens, rejoice!
But terror will come on the earth and the sea,
for the devil has come down to you in great anger,
knowing that he has little time."

13 When the dragon realized that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.14 But she was given two wings like those of a great eagle so she could fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness. There she would be cared for and protected from the dragon* for a time, times, and half a time.
15 Then the dragon tried to drown the woman with a flood of water that flowed from his mouth.16 But the earth helped her by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that gushed out from the mouth of the dragon.17 And the dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest of her children—all who keep God's commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus.
18 Then the dragon took his stand* on the shore beside the sea.

Thank you, Lord for invading our world and freeing us from the tyranny of sin.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"God Sought Me Out"

I don't need to share all the details, but Susan has had enough terrible experiences in her own life to equal that of five other people who we'd describe as having rough lives. I hope that sentence makes sense.... she's had an incredibly difficult life. To go along with these two posts, 1 and 2, she's been to various gutters.

As she's gotten older, Susan has begun to sense that God was trying to find a way back into her life. As a result of her life situation, however she had no way of trying to seek out God on her own. So she was left with this lingering question, "how was God going to find me?"

Almost one year ago, while hanging out at the bar in which she spends a lot of her time, Susan felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned to see the smiling face of Sara Weems, one of the members of TFC's Love Wins: LGBT ministry. That act of a hand on a shoulder lead to Susan, almost a year later, choosing to give her heart to Christ. Looking back on the development of her relationship with the Love Wins team and the response to the love of Christ she knew was somehow seeking her out, Susan describes that hand on her shoulder as "the hand of God" and the fact that some Christians would leave their comfort zone and choose to enter a gay bar for the sake of building relationships that would share Jesus' love with the bar patrons as "God seeking me out."

I would describe it as Incarnation; the act of God putting on flesh. We celebrate the incarnation of Jesus every Christmas. As followers of the Jesus who chose to become human so as to introduce us to the love of God, we also are to incarnate the love of God. We are the flesh and bones of God's love and we're to take that love to the people who don't yet know that love.

We aren't all called to gay bars but we are all, every single person who claims to follow Christ, called to incarnate the love of Jesus for the people with whom we interact. And following the same act of self-giving that Paul describes in Philippians 2, we're to take the love of Jesus (embodied in our very person) to places that are out of our comfort zone and outside of the regular path of most Christ-followers.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

God's Provision - again

In what could be considered a follow-up to this post, I'm going to share some thougths I wrote in my journal the other day. I'm just copying right out of the notebook that serves as my prayer journal.

"Our house has turned into The Money Pit. New Garbage Disposal - $160, new washing machine - $225, new hot water heater - $870, new doorknob - $8 (not too bad, that one), vacuum cleaner (though covered by warranty) and added to that list, some car repairs equaling about $500. Last night, our dishwasher started leaking water and it poured through the floor and through two ceiling tiles in the basement. (I've since found out we'll need to replace that, too).

As I was draining the water into the bucket, I wondered (contrary to my usual rationalistic approach) whether our house was under demonic attack. Or following a more normal pattern of my thought, whether God was "breaking" me - since I spend so much time obsessing over money. Or maybe God is retraining me. Because he's providing - again. A friend gave us $250, stating "I sensed God telling me to do it and I'm just being obedient," Erin was paid $150 for doing the costuming for GCT's Christmas show, we sold our old Christmas tree for $100, my parents just said they're sending us money for Christmas and I'm getting extra hours at work (with it being "peak"). And Bill Melvold is helping us with repairs - since I'm worthless as a handyman.

In The God Journey podcasts, they were talking about trusting God. We can't just decide to "let go" and "let God." Rather, we're able to trust God when we accept how much he loves us. If there is love between a parent and a child, the child will naturally trust the parent. It's the same with God.

But contrary to what most people define as "trusting in God", we don't trust to get what we want. "I'll trust God and he'll replenish my savings account". That's not trust - but manipulation. Rather, trust in God is the ability to be solid in your relationship with God even if all life goes the opposite way it "should." Like me learning Jesus is enough, even if I"m not "successful" in ministry. Having to decide to choose to love God even if he never would've made us parents. Trust is saying "God is enough, even if my savings account hits the red - or if any other fearful scenario comes to pass." To quote Wayne and Brad, "trust is not in a result but in a person." "

I realize this post seems like two ideas mashed together, or almost two contradictory ideas in one blog post but I heard that podcast while driving home from work, before seeing how so many of those financial hits were replenished through the generosity of others. This time, trust did result in what I deem to be a positive outcome. But what about the future? What about when things do turn bad and don't recover? Will I still trust? Will I trust in the person of God rather than the result I want God to bring about?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A TRULY safe place

TFC has always been described as a "safe place." A place in which people who don't feel comfortable in more regular... churches feel welcomed as well as a place in which people who have never been involved in a church also feel safe and accepted. My leadership inadequacies would make a long list, but I'm glad that creating this type of safe and welcoming environment has been a leadership strength of mine.

In 2007, we really stretched our congregation's ability to continue to be a "safe place" by launching our Love Wins ministry to the local gentlemen's clubs. While we got some pushback from other churches (though we also received large amounts of financial support from surrounding churches as well), we received very little pushback from within our congregation. The only real pushback we received was from a group thinking we needed to go into the clubs and tell the ladies what sinners they are. While that approach does fit within the practice of many North American churches, it is 180 degrees removed from the approach Jesus modeled in the gospels. When faced with doing what most church people do and what Jesud did, we went with Jesus. That group eventually moved on from TFC.

But in the summer of 2009, we pushed the limits of this Jesus-like model of engaging "sinners." I use quotation marks because most church people define "sinners" as those who do sinful things that aren't like their sinful things or are worse than their sins - i.e. stripping in a club or engaging in same-sex eroticism. If the cover was pulled back from the lives of most church people, we'd see that they have as much sin as non-church people, they're just better at either excusing the sin or showing how their sin somehow isn't as bad. But I digress...
We pushed the limits of TFC's ability to be a "safe place" by expanding our Love Wins ministry from sharing the love of Jesus within strip clubs to also sharing the love of Jesus within the Lesbian / Gay community of downtown KC. We announced the begining of Love Wins: LGBT in August of 09 and within about one month, we began to experience the fallout of launching this ministry within TFC. Over the next year, 1/5 of the families within our congregation left TFC stating Love Wins: LGBT as either one of, or the main reason for, their leaving our church (or they told someone else and it eventually got back to me). Ironically, one church that a former TFC family believed would be "safe" from this type of ministry has now begun to partner with us in this endeavor.

I guess sharing Jesus' love with women stripping in clubs and men 'boucing' in those clubs, while a bit of a stretch, can be supported by church culture, but supporting a ministry that shares Jesus' love with people living a gay or lesbian lifestyle is just too much for people accustomed to the mindset of North American evangelicalism. A mindset that says that the sin of homosexual or lesbian activity is somehow worse than other sins or that our engagement with people practicing this sin needs to be approached differently than people practicing any other sin. I addressed some of this mindset in these two posts: Gutter I and Gutter II

So we've lost a lot of people, at least partly, as a result of a ministry, that according to my District Superintendent (who said he's tempted to resign his position so as to work directly with our ministry but knows he should stay in his role to "protect" us from people who would give us grief) is the only one of its kind among Nazarene churches in North America.

But you know who have come in to fill some of the openings left by people who chose to move on? Two groups of people: 1) those who helped launch Love Wins: LGBT in the first place and 2) people who live within the LGBT community of KC. Yes, you read that right. People who have been rejected by the church culture at large are meeting God for the first time or returning after decades away within the church community of TFC. I want to cry as I write those words...

If our church had developed the way I'd originally hoped and planned for us to develop, we never would've been in the place to launch a ministry like Love Wins: LGBT. If we were a larger church, I'd be more concerned with keeping church people happy so they'd continue to support the structure and financial obligations of a larger church. But the fact that we've shrunk so much over the two years has put us in a place in which we're free to take a crazy risk like sharing Jesus' love with the LGBT community. I almost feel like Gideon, who had to have his army shrunk exponentially to bring Gideon to the place of realizing that 1) it wasn't his army in the first place, 2) God moves his people around to the place they can best be used and 3) the victory is God's to be given, not ours to win.

But that's not all that is happening. The Love Wins: LGBT team has been invited to speak at the M-11 Conference, a national conference of the Church of the Nazarene. Their intent is to educate the broader church in how to relate to and share Jesus' love with the LGBT community. That conference is using the hot buzz-word of "mission" and Love Wins: LGBT is a wonderful example of the mission of Jesus being lived out. While many people within our denomination approach the LGBT community with judgmentalism and retreat from the community with an isolationistic approach (both of which are reactions born out of fear), the 'top dawgs' of the COTN are empowering us to live out this mission.

But that's not all that's happening... The amazing results of Love Wins: LGBT from this past year has prompted the Advisory Council of TFC to make what might be the biggest decision in the history of our church - a decision that was meant to be made at the very beginning but has been five long years in developing. But that's for another post...

From the people who have recently joined our church in worship to the chance to share at the M-11 Conference, the fruit of the Love Wins: LGBT ministry is so much greater than we'd ever imagined, we have nothing to do but admit it was God who brought all this about, not our amazing skillset. While the Advisory Council of 2009 did have to say "yes" and the Love Wins team had to overcome their fears to step into a foreign mission field, it was God who brought (and will continue to bring) the victory.

So maybe I can't really take credit for TFC being a "safe place." Maybe, just mabye, the same Jesus who was a walking "safe place" for those rejected by the religious culture of his day is the same Jesus making TFC a "safe place" for those rejected by the religious culture of our day.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tony Campolo demands an apology from former President Bush for the Iraq War

I'm a regular listener of Tony Campolo's podcasts and really appreciate the fact that he takes the teachings of Jesus seriously, through his ministry Red Letter Christianity. Obviously, if you take the teachings of Jesus seriously you're not going to be a very big fan of war, especially wars that don't measure up to the Christian Just War Theory and according to the National Council of Churches, the Iraq war does not fit into Christian Just War Theory.

So here's the direct quote from Tony Campolo's latest podcast, in response to the stat that while there were 1 million Christians in Iraq, now there are less than 200,000. Those 2000,000 are still leaving, in response to the recent attacks on Christians.

"It's about time that George Bush and Tony Blair issue a statement of repentance. We went in there, lives have been lost by the thousands, yeah, hundreds of thousands. Billions, yeah, trillions of dollars have been spent - for what? For what? The Iraqi situation is much worse today than it was during Sadam Hussien. Nobody is going to question that. The church, for the first time, is being persecuted.
What happened after the invasion was that there was a free election and the Shiites got elected. And you say, 'hurrah, hurrah, hurrah, we've got a democratically elected government.' You don't have a democratically elected government, if in fact you have the rule of the majority. You have a democratic society when the minority is safe. The Shiites have gotten elected. The Sunnis, who have aligned themselves with Al-Queda are attacking like wildfire because they were in control under [Sunni] Sadam Hussein.... Now the Sunnis are attacking the Shiites and this is going to go on and on. And we are responsible.
It's about time that George Bush, instead of writing a book that states, 'I have no regrets over any decisions that I have made' and Tony Blair states, 'I have no regrets, I think we did the right thing.'
You didn't do the right thing. It's about time to stand up and apologize. To go to the United Nations and ask for forgiveness because there can be no reconciliation of warring groups without repentance.
You know, in the US, we all love that verse (2 Chronicles 7:14), "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." It's actually on the Liberty Bell.
I believe it's time to with the Bible. I want repentance and I want restitution. But you've gotta do it the Biblical way."

Preach it, Tony!

And just for good measure, here are two quotes from a book I'm currently reading entitled "Rethinking the Good War" about WWII. It was written by Dr. Laurence Vance, a biblical scholar, history professor and Libertarian party author. "A president who cannot entrust the people with the truth betrays a certain lack of faith in the basic tenets of democracy" (speaking of Roosevelt's covering up of the US' aggressive acts that lead to Japan's preemptive strike in Pearl Harbor, maneuvering of Navy personnel into vulnerable positions and refusal to listen to and eventual firing of the Military leaders warning of the impending and eventually imminent attack).
Finally, "Japan made a preemptive strike against the US just like the US did in Iraq" (referring to WWII vets who still hold a grudge against Japan for Pearl Harbor).

What the heck, here's on more from that book, "Why is it that the 9/11 attacks on America are considered acts of terrorism but a 1,000 plane bombing raid on Tokyo after the dropping of the two atomic bombs isn't?"

"No country, army, or navy air force, terrorist organization, or individual aggresses against the US for no reason. We may not like or agree with the reason, but there is always a good reason, at least in the minds of the attackers. Japan did not attack the US because Japan was 'evil' and America was 'good.' Japan sought to gain control of Southeast Asian resources. The attack on Pearl Harbor would prevent the US Pacific Fleet from interfering. Secretary of War Stimson acknowledged after the war that 'if at any time, the US had been willing to concede to Japan a free hand in China there would have been no war in the Pacific."

Okay, so I got off topic. But what I want to see happen, what I believe Christians have the responsibly to do, is to call the government to accountability while at the same time, not believing the "we're good, they're bad" or "this war is for freedom" rhetoric. We must go beyond the emotional response and blind patriotism to the underlying reasons. As the saying goes, "Truth is the first casualty of war," but followers of Jesus must not let the truth of why we're killing fellow bearers of His image get swept away by our national leaders. While hindsight is 20/20, we can know that Bush was (at worst) lying or (at best) seriously misguiding in ordering the Invasion of Iraq. A couple hundred thousand civilian deaths later, the former president and our entire country owes the Iraqi people an apology.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Gutter Part II

In a follow-up to the post below, here's a great "gutter" story.

"One morning, early, the phone rang. I picked it up and it was Dave, calling me to tell me what happened to him the night before. He said his wife, Allison, had gone to bed, so he decided to take some photographs of the city at night. Since his camera bag was in the car, he headed over to the alley where the car was parked and began searching for the bag in the trunk. He then heard a young male voice behind him, 'Hey, I couldn't help but notice how cute you are. You want to party with me?' Dave had never been hit on by another man, and he was a bit stunned.

"'I declined, and found ti funny when he drove off kind of irritated,' Dave said. But then he began to realize he'd blown a great opportunity to get into the gutter - an open invitation, even. 'As I was walking back to my place, I thought to myself,' What would've happened if I'd said, 'okay,' and gotten into the car with him? What would we have said to each other, how awkward would it have been? Or would it have been awkward at all? Could I have found myself in a bar at 2 AM, with a complete stranger whom I know had very different beliefs from me? Would I have been able to offer him a love he wasn't expecting? A genuine love of persons, the tpe of love Christ would have offered?"

"Bold, gutter-defying notions.

"Dave continued, 'I realized I might have missed an opportunity not just to witness but to engage a person's life in a way that would have given him hope and a memory of somone who loved him as he was.' As he examined his own heart about this encounter with the guter, he began to realize fear is what kept him out of it that night.

"Okay, I can't even imagine coming in at 2 a.m. after hanging out with a guy in a bar all night. What would I say to my wife? How would I explain it? What if I saw people I knew? These questions and a zillion others went through my mind (and they're probably going through yours) - and they're all perfectly legitimate reasons why I would not have done it. I probably would have jokingly told the story to my friends about getting hit on by another man.

"Not Dave. He told me the story that next morning, and yes, we laughed and I gave him a hard time about it. But through it all, I could hear that he genuinely wished he could start that night over again so he could go to the gutter."

The Gutter

I just finished re-reading a book that greatly influenced my ministry approach, The Gutter by Craig Gross. Gross is one of the founders of, a ministry that both helps Christian men overcome the addiction of pornography and shares the love of Jesus with people working in the porn industry. The books shares some hilarious, inspiring and saddening stories of how his ministry has helped Christians, touched the untouchables (by Church standards) of the porn industry all the while taking some serious attacks from Christians.

The point of the book is that in coming to save us from sin, Jesus got down into our gutter, not being worried about getting "dirty." And as his followers, we're to do the same. So often however, Christians are worried about getting "dirty" by getting into these gutters. At the same time, many of them are quick to throw stones at those following Jesus into the gutter, if that ministry isn't the way they'd do it.

This book is a GREAT read. While I can't even come close to sharing everything, let me share some great quotes. As I'm reading these, by the way, I'm both challenged to push our church further into the gutter and recognizing attacks upon our ministries similar to what Gross describes.

In describing Zacheus' need to climb a tree to see Jesus: "Think about it - here's a lost person trying to get a good angle on the Savior, but can't get into a prime position because of all the people following Jesus, many of whom had probably already decided Jesus was the Messiah. But he is denied acceptance because of his reputation and because of his physical appearance. The same thing has happened over and over and over again on Sunday mornings in pews across our fruited plain. A lost person comes to church, only to be shunned, whether outright or implied, because of the way he looks or because of the emotional or spiritual baggage he carries."

"That's what many religious people do. They stand on the sidelines, critical of situations that don't fit into their box of understanding. The Religious criticized everything Jesus did. Whether Jesus was on the road with Zaccheaus or in the temple with the Pharisees, they criticized and accused, seeking the worst. Instead, they found perfection. They couldn't believe a hay-filled manger in a smelly barn or a cruel timber on a garbage dump could produce a Messiah. They did not think these places could be the dwelling place of a Savior. The gutter simply did not fit into their box."

"Somewhere between the time Jesus ascended into heaven and now, we Christians, the walking billboards for Jesus' life-changing power, have done a lousy job of maintaining His momentum. Those who despised him shifted, too. The religious who once hated Him now advertise for Him. The lost who once hung out with Him now refuse to acknowledge Him. And it's all because Christians changed. God didn't change. Jesus didn't change. His people did. At one point, the God who embraced the gutter was well represented. Jesus walked the streets and took an authentic love with Him - all the way to the gutter. Wherever He went, the unchurched responded while the religious scorned."

In talking about the decision of bands such as POD and Pillar to tour and hang out back-stage with bands made up of hard-partying nonChristians:
"Sometimes I get really pissed off when I see so-called Christians attacking other Christians for getting into the gutter. Look, if God hasn't called them to a particular gutter, like secular musicians, for example, then by all means they shouldn't go into that gutter. But I think they get confused and determine that since they aren't called to that gutter, no one is called to that gutter. So instead of getting on board with a gutter-driven band, they tear that band down and generate division about that band's mission.
It's very easy to sit on the sidelines and criticize those who are going into the gutter so publicly, like musicians. But if we aren't willing to go into the gutter, we must at least support our brothers and sisters in their efforts to go, instead of wasting our time picking apart their every action."

"When it comes to the gutter backstage, and really the gutter at large, you must be willing to go where most people have not gone or say they cannot go."

Speaking of a men's ministry that started at Hooters, "Many struggle with the incorrect perception that if an outreach method doesn't fit into our box of beliefs, then it is either sinful or corrupt."

"Many times, the religious ones of the Church are afraid that by offering grace, they're giving the "sinner" a free license to remain in sinful behavior. But we've all been recipients of grace, whether we admit it or not, and most of us have managed to use it responsibly because we are truly repentant."

"And why do we no only ignore those people, but also the gutters they're in? Are we afraid that they're so dirty it'll eventually rub off on us? Or worse, do we lack the compassion to have an effective impact on them? In my experience, it's the latter more than the former."

"If a Christian doesn't get in the gutter, he doesn't get challenged. And when he doesn't get challenged (and a little bit uncomfortable), he gets apathetic and bored."

"When we go to the gutter, we aren't just changing gutter-dwellers; they're changing us. We're all being changed for the better. Too often we sit through church and when it's over, we think we're done with our work for the week. This is wrong, wrong, wrong. You cannot live out your faith based solely on what other people tell you; you cannot be okay with merely consuming information - including the information in this book. You must be convinced to take action for God."

"I think it all comes down to one word, really: willingness. In each of these examples, people exhibit a willingess to go into the gutter and do what God has called them to do. A willingness to defy the enemy and step into his realm to rescue people from it."

"They go and they go some more because once you get into the gutter, you find that you want to go back. So what are some gutters around you that you can get involved in? You may not have a Red Light Distirct or crack house or biker garage near you, but I can almost gaurantee there's a Starbucks. Or a grocery story. Or a street corner. Or any number of things. Look hard enough and you'll find a gutter you can get in; just look with God's eyes. "

"If you don't go, who will?"

The Gutter: Part II