Sunday, July 22, 2007

the simplicity of despair

I'm not proud of this, but the emotion that I've struggled with the most since I entered my foxhole has been despair. (Newer emergesque readers won't know about the "In the Foxhole" Series.) The whole point of the foxhole series was that such despair is unwarranted in the clear and more certain light of revealed truth, but my common addiction to mere temporalities has meant that I've had to fight against this debilitating emotion.

But some time ago, I began asking God if perhaps I had learned all that I was going to learn through this pain (not that I claim full insight into whatever He may be doing by allowing my circumstances) and perhaps He would be pleased to just fix the situation!

Amazingly, one week ago today it seemed that God was pleased to grant me my request in a major breakthrough in my situation. I still don't completely trust it, but so far, so good.

And I feel kind of lost.

I've mentioned this before, but this past week I've definitely experienced it: when you are in the midst of a very troubling situation, it's easy to define your happiness around the resolution of that situation. It is, of course, a fiction that our deepest happiness will result from any financial, relational, medical, vocational, etc. breakthrough, but when you spend so much time focusing on these kinds of problems , it can be easy to have faith that their resolution will bring true happiness. It's lead to my thinking about Paul's remark:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV)
Paul's point, of course, is that Christ must be our sufficiency in plenty or in want.

And so I am sobered and encouraged to renew my efforts to find my sufficiency in Him. He must be my all in loss and in gain. I must be reliant on Him when things are going great and when they're not. A poet has written,"my place is of the light; this place is of the dark." We must hold this place lightly and keep our eyes ever fixed on things above (Col. 3:1). As Malcolm Muggeridge has written in his wonderful Chronicles of Wasted Time, "It is misers and Don Juans who moan; spendthrifts and saints are always laughing."

I preach, of course, to myself as I try to learn that life is not finally defined by whether I am in or out of the foxhole.

- the complete "In the Foxhole" series

Wednesday, July 18, 2007 in Second Life

's Second Life auditorium

Bobby Gruenewald,'s Innovation Leader, posts about the joys and challenges of launching a new church site within the Second Life environment.

The recent article I wrote for Leadership Network focused on's Second Life and Internet Campuses (though they technically consider their Second Life Island to be a part of their Internet Campus) if you're interested in learning more about how they did this and what is doing online.

your opinion please

thanks for your thoughts when I asked earlier about going to Wordpress or Typepad. I'm probably going to use the former.

Question: do you think that I should retain the name "emergesque" or just use "faithmaps blog?"

I've always had the url for emergesque which has understandably confused people. Some folks deal with this by just googling emergesque or my name. So whatever name I end up choosing, I'll correct that by using the same url.

Your thoughts are welcome!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

"Missio Dei: In the Crisis of Christianity"

Fred Peatross, an editor with New Wineskins, has just released Missio Dei: in the crisis of christianity, which can be purchased here.

The book is already receiving significant praise.

Alan Hirsch, co-author of The Shaping of Things To Come writes:

"Articulating the contours of the church that will thrive in the 21st century with lucidity and simplicity would be a very difficult assignment, but to enounce it with the clarity that assures every reader an accurate understanding takes a rare talent. Fred Peatross does just that.

Many writers resort to simply rehashing outmoded and outworn paradigms. Fred proves to be a trustworthy guide laying out a clear and practical framework around which to contrast (or reconstruct) an authentically missional church. In doing so he manages to be both fresh and inventive. This work is a welcome contribution to the literature exploring practical approaches to missional church."

The book should be more widely available in traditional online outlets in a few days.

Fred's a friend and I'm happy to see his influence widen with this book! America's 50 Most Influential Churches


"The 2007 survey was emailed to leaders of more than 2,000 of the largest non-Catholic congregations in the nation in April-June. Participants were asked to recommend up to 10 churches they considered to be among the nation’s most influential. A total of 77 churches were recommended. A total of 53 percent of all church leader recommendations named the five churches. The top 10 churches received a total of 65 percent of all recommendations."

Here are the top 10.

  1. Willow Creek Community Church - South Barrington, IL - Bill Hybels
  2. Saddleback Church - Lake Forest, CA - Rick Warren
  3. Fellowship Church - Grapevine, TX - Ed Young
  4. North Point Community Church - Alpharetta, GA - Andy Stanley
  5. - Edmund, OK - Craig Groeschel
  6. Granger Community Church - Granger, IN - Mark Beeson
  7. Lakewood Church - Houston, TX - Joel Osteen
  8. Mars Hill Church - Seattle, WA - Mark Driscoll
  9. The Potter's House - Dallas, TX - TD Jakes
  10. Seacoast Church - Mt. Pleasant, SC - Greg Surratt
Also looks like our friend Mark Batterson's church - National Community Church in Washington, DC - made the list for the first time at #39!

You can see the rest of the list here.

And here's last year's list.

I've posted previously about how lighthouse churches seem to replacing denominations in some circles. Someone recently posted in comments on that post:

"Doesn't the list of 'Lighthouse Churches' emphasize sheer numerical growth? Is this really the way in which Jesus intends the Church to impact the world?

I know this is an old topic of conversation..."
Yes, it's old but I think that it's a legitimate question. My response is that numbers don't intrinsically indicate anything. However, numbers can be one evidence of spiritual fruit. One must dig more deeply behind the numbers to determine if genuine spiritual stuff is going on. So I would simply say that here are 50 organizations that warrant our investigation to determine if they have anything to teach us. I know I have learned from some of the churches listed here.

It's also important to stress that the absence of large numbers in a local church also isn't a necessary indicator of a lack of real spiritual stuff going on within that community.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Scot McKnight on Peterson's Eat this Book

The Best Book Ever on the Bible is Eat this Book by Eugene Peterson.


Any view of the Bible that doesn’t lead to formation isn’t reading the Bible for what it is intended to do.


I sat out to read this book in an evening. After all, it is only about 180 pages. Was I in for a surprise. Captiving prose, elegant imagery, and a fire that starts burning as you open its pages and increases in flame as you turn from page to page. I poised myself over its pages for two days — often looking up in thanks and gazing into my back yard lost in pondering over the richness of this book. Marvelous. I’ve read books on the Bible ever since I was in college when Harold Lindsell through the first pitch to begin the battle for the Bible, but I’ve not read one book that I thought got the job done as well as Peterson. If you read this book it will lead you to Eat the Book of all Books.
Scot McKnight on Eugene Peterson's recent Eat this Book in this post.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

John La Grou on Marriage

Later today, John's speaking at a friend's wedding. Here's part of what he's going to say:

In tough times, you will remember how you waited a good third of your life to find each other: this memory will be a constant catalyst for healing and reconciliation

Know that sometimes marriage can be like a series of earthquakes. There’s a rule I want you always to remember – let’s call it the earthquake rule: when you find a fault, don’t dwell on it.

Marriage is a continual stream of ripples and waves, just like little earthquakes. But the reality of marriage is that you may not always be on each other’s wavelength. Tolstoy said it well: What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.

See, marriage isn’t about thinking alike, but thinking together. This means that rather than always being on the same wavelength, you’ll simply need to ride along with each others’ waves. When those magnitude 7.5 earthquakes rock your world, the marriage commitment keeps you together until the dust settles....

Jonathan Livingston Seagull author Eric Segal said love means never having to say you’re sorry. When I first heard that, I thought.. that’s nonsense! Married people do stupid things all the time – we always need to forgive each other. But as I thought more about it, I realized the truth in this saying. Forgiveness in a healthy marriage becomes more than words –more than an occasional conversation. Forgiveness becomes a state of being. The words forgiveness and marriage become almost interchangeable.

Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu said “marriage is three parts love and seven parts forgiveness.” The late Ruth Graham said “a happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”

Marriage means you are no longer in control. You now belong to each other – you are connected in a mysterious, spiritual manner where two beings become united into one body and one heart. You, Ian, now belong to Kristin, and Kristin you now belong to Ian.

Friday, July 13, 2007

pls pray for Molly McCoy

Many of us know and read Steve McCoy. This morning his wife, Molly, is undergoing neurosurgery to correct Chiari Malformation.

Would you please pray for them as you think of it?

Updates will be posted here (Steve's live blogging during this brain surgery).

UPDATE: You can read the history of Molly and Steve's discovery and struggle with this condition here.

The Narrow Chamber of Suffering

Steve McCoy has chosen to share with us his thoughts via liveblogging as he waits for his wife Molly to come out of brain surgery. He's doing that here (2 sections - the top section is what's going on with Molly and the bottom section is Steve's thoughts) and just posted this wonderful quote:

The keys of men’s hearts hang up in the narrow chamber of suffering. And he who has not been there can scarcely know the art of opening the recesses of the soul.

Charles Spurgeon

More pics from the Buzz Conference...

...have been posted here.

- Metapost on the 2007 Buzz Conference (Session Notes, Audio, Video, etc)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bob Hyatt's "Why I'm not Done with the Church"

Quite a bit of serious conversation is erupting around Next-Wave Editor Bob Hyatt's July Cover Article "Why I'm not Done with the Church" in comments.

Late to the Party: White Stripes

I think I first noted that the single Icky Thump was selling pretty high on iTunes, gave it a listen and liked it. I then bought it and ended up buying the entire album.

I had no idea the White Stripes were this good. I've liked every single song I've heard on the album and I can't remember the last time that was true.

image from wikipedia

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Must See Videos from the Buzz Conference

Washington, DC's National Community Church's Mark Batterson has just announced that they've posted the winning videos from the June 2007 Buzz Conference File Festival which can be viewed here.

They are hilarious. Trust me.

- Metapost on the 2007 Buzz Conference (Notes from all Sessions, etc)

Buzz Conference Audio: Craig Groeschel's Friday 29 June 2007 Talk

Audio from most of the main sessions of the Buzz Conference can be downloaded online here.

However, because of his conference schedule, the Friday 29 June 2007 talk by Craig Groeschel, which has received high praise, will not be posted until October 2007. Notes from that session can be viewed here.

Nevertheless, National Community Church in Washington, DC - who sponsored the Conference - has just informed me that the CD of this session can be ordered by either snail mail or phone for $12, which includes shipping and handling. You can either send a check to

National Community Church
205 F St NE
Washington, DC 20002
attn: Amanda Norwich

or if you'd prefer to use a Visa or Mastercard over the phone, you can call Amanda Norwich at NCC at 202-544-0414.

I just ordered my copy; this talk was a great challenge to personal holiness and accountability that I'm still processing.

- Metapost on the 2007 Buzz Conference (Notes from all Sessions, etc)

- image courtesy of snaptography

Metapost on the 2007 Buzz Conference

UPDATED: 7/11/07

This post aggregates all the separate posts by date and speaker on the 2007 Buzz Conference sponsored by National Community Church in Washington, DC (and others) on Wednesday 27 June through Friday 29 June.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Voices of the Virtual World

The Wikiklesia Project has announced the 23 July 2007 publication of Book One in their projected series.

Contributors include

I was also asked to contribute a chapter which will be entitled "The Legitimacy and Limits of Online Relationships."

Specific chapter titles can be found here.

An audio version of the book will also be released with each chapter being read by the author.

Here is the full press release:

Publication Date: 23 July 2007
Distributed by:
Wikiklesia Press, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-9796856-0-6


Voices of the Virtual World explores the growing influence of technology on the global Christian church. In this premier volume, we hear from more than forty voices, including technologists and theologians, entrepreneurs and pastors… from a progressive Episcopalian techno-monk to a leading Mennonite professor… from a tech-savvy mobile missionary to a corporate anthropologist whom Worth Magazine calls "one of Wall Street's 25 Smartest Players." Voices is a far reaching exploration of spiritual journey contextualized within a culture of increasingly immersive technology.

ABOUT WIKIKLESIA: Conceived and established in May 2007, the Wikiklesia Project is an experiment in on-line collaborative publishing. The format is virtual, self-organizing, participatory - from purpose to publication in just a few weeks. All proceeds from the Wikiklesia Project will be contributed to the Not For Sale campaign.

Wikiklesia values sustainability with minimal structure. We long to see a church saturated with decentralized cooperation. The improbable notion of books that effectively publish themselves is one of many ways that can help move us closer to this global-ecclesial connectedness. Can a publishing organization thrive without centralized leadership? Is perpetual, self-organizing book publishing possible? Can literary quality be maintained in a distributed publishing paradigm? Wikiklesia was created to answer these kinds of questions.

Wikiklesia may be the world’s first self-perpetuating nomadic business model - raising money for charities - giving voice to emerging writers and artists - generating a continuous stream of new books covering all manner of relevant topics. Nobody remains in control. There is no board of directors. The franchise changes hands as quickly as new projects are created.
tags: collaborative ecclesial nomadic participatory publishing wikiklesia

Media Enquiries:
Len Hjalmarson,
John La Grou,
(530) 647-0750

Monday, July 09, 2007

Sprint gets Bad Buzz

"Sprint ditches customers who complain too much"


I predict this policy will change within the next 48 hours as the hue and cry ascends to new heights.

Beth and I happily ditched Sprint some time ago because of dropped calls and one reason I'm not terribly anxious to get an iPhone is because we are very, very happy with Verizon Wireless. They truly do have great network.

The Emergence of the Missional Reformed

Reformed blogger David Wayne posts regarding recent Reformed moves towards missionality.

I consider myself Reformed (though many if not most would not remotely consider me TR because I haven't yet affirmed Particular Redemption, aka "Limited Atonement"), but I'll say this: While I'm not saying that the Reformed Doctrinal System is intrinsically propositional (and I'm using that word as a technical term as it's used here), my years of theological study and reading would lead me to say that if there ever were a modern theological system that through its internal coherency and vast reach could lead one to become a propositionalist, it would be the Reformed System. And some of us might say that we've met a Reformed Propositionalist or two. :)

So that being said, I am very happy to hear about the recent transpropositional moves of many within the Reformed sphere.

The Growth of the English Standard Version

"Growth of the ESV Bible continues to accelerate, as worldwide sales and distribution increased more than four-fold over the past two years and the ESV moved up to the number three position on the CBA bestseller list in June. [The July list shows the ESV in the 5th position.]


With more than 100 creative editions and formats in print, the ESV Bible has also experienced more than 100% annual growth in the Christian retail market for four years in a row" [links added]

Crossway has announced a major restructuring in light of the sales growth of the ESV.

As a Public Service: Google 411

Just learned about this cool service from Tony Morgan.

It's basically a free information service to find and connect to local businesses provided by Google. You can use it like the traditional 411 service when you know the name of the business or you can also have it look up businesses by category - all over the phone.

I've added the number to my Contacts list on my mobile phone and have used it several times.

Very, very nice and very, very free!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

On Alexander Hamilton

I love to read biographies. I believe that through reading them you can learn much about character and organizations.

In the last few years I have especially focused my reading on biographies of significant individuals in American History, particularly American presidents. But as I've read biographies in the past of Jefferson and Washington, the presence of Alexander Hamilton was such a large one and the controversies surrounding him so significant that even though he never attained the presidency, it seemed to me that if I wanted to get a full understanding of the beginnings of the United States I eventually would need to spend some time studying him. And so I decided to read Ron Chernow's recent biography of Hamilton (avail on used for under $3).

I was blown away by both the man and the biography. I had missed Theodore Roosevelt's statement that Hamilton was "the most brilliant American statesman who every lived, possessing the loftiest and keenest intellect of his time" (Longtime emergesque readers will recall that TR is one of my heroes) (p. 4). William Howard Taft spoke of him similarly.

Regarding the book itself, of all the biographies I've read, I would rank Chernow's treatment of Hamilton second only to Robert Caro's masterly multi-volume (though not yet completed) work on Lyndon Johnson.

Regarding the man, I didn't realize

  • the massive influence that Hamilton had on the final form of American governmental institutions,

  • Hamilton's prodigious literary output,

  • his initial intention not to harm Aaron Burr in their duel, and

  • his spirituality, which apparently intensified toward the end of his life.
I also did not appreciate the degree of relational dysfunction that apparently characterized both the nation's first executive cabinet and the initial environment that spawned the first American political parties - the Federalists, which was founded by Hamilton and others, and the Republicans (aka "Democratic-Republicans" and not to be confused with today's Republican party), which was founded by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. (John Adams, the nation's first vp and its second president, uncomfortably did not fit into either political camp, though he technically was a Federalist. )

Seemingly exacerbating this dysfunction was the fact that it was far from a fait accompli that the American experiment would be a successful one, and this was true even after the British were dispatched. It's easy in retrospect to sentimentalize this period, but the major players operated under the significant burden of the potential negative consequences if the American government were not a successful one. The founders labored against the backdrop of the French Revolution, which was characterized by anarchy and much violence. Hamilton predicted that such anarchy inevitably leads to totalitarianism and he was proven correct when Napoleon took the role of Emperor of France the same year of Hamilton's death. Hamilton and others feared the same in the US.

So there was a lot at stake during the years that Hamilton worked with others to craft the Constitution, then to get it approved by the States - this was when he and others published
the Federalist Papers, of which Hamilton was the main author - and then to actually execute and apply the Constitution as the first Treasury Secretary, though his administration took him far outside of strictly Treasury concerns.

As Chernow notes in succinctly summarizing Hamilton's legacy in his introduction,

"At a time when Jefferson and Madison celebrated legislative power as the purest expression of the popular will, Hamilton argued for a dynamic executive branch and an independent judiciary, along with a professional military, a central bank, and an advanced financial system. Today, we are indisputably the heirs to Hamilton's America, and to repudiate his legacy is, in many ways, to repudiate the modern world" (p. 6).

Hamilton definitely had his faults, though less than those claimed by his primary detractors. Chernow believes that his illegitimate birth on the West Indian island of Nevis precipitated Hamilton's quickness to respond dramatically to perceived slights of honor. Several times he had been involved in duels. He seemed to be a catastrophist, which sometimes seemed to precipitate overreaction. He was unfaithful to his wife Eliza at least once, in an ongoing affair with Maria Reynolds in the nation's first national sex scandal that became very public and very political.

But it becomes clear that Eliza forgave Hamilton and their marital bond not only survived this but even flourished. She lived 50 years after his death and labored through her life to ensure "her Hamilton," as she liked to call him, was sufficiently honored. They had 10 children together.

The book was so engaging that I was very sad to complete it. I walked away from it with at least two take aways:

- the critical importance of a culture of conflict resolution within organizations. I set down the book believing that the Jefferson/Madison - Hamilton differences were too much treated by the principals as either/or situations rather than both/and.

- the importance of not responding to stressful situations from fear but rather responding to them from a position of strength in Christ. Hamilton definitely seemed to have an insecurity streak that at times seemed to precipitate his "protesting too much." Towards the end of the life, it seemed that his thoughts moved more towards the spiritual, and one can only imagine how his life might have coursed differently if his prodigious intelligence would have been grounded in more consistent spiritual contentment. Reflecting on Hamilton's response to difficult situations has brought me back to thinking on the themes we treated in the In the FoxHole series.

This book is highly recommended.

image from Wikipedia

This post or article contains a link to Wikipedia, an open source online encyclopedia. Its articles can be edited by anyone at any time. For this reason, finding a link to a wikipedia article on emergesque indicates that at the time the link was added, I found that the article as it existed at that time was worthy of review or reference. However, because wikipedia articles are dynamic, care should be taken to verify information found in its articles.

Friday, July 06, 2007

More Buzz

I just noticed that National Community Church in DC has posted the audio for most of the talks for last week's Buzz Conference here.

Sadly, what some consider the best talk of the conference - Craig Groeschel's 2nd talk on Friday 29 June - will not be posted until October 2007 because of Craig's upcoming conference schedule. However, you can find notes from this wonderful talk here.

NCC has also announced that today @ 5 PM ET they'll post the results of their Film Festival here. I'm also hoping that this means they'll post the actual videos themselves.

Finally, the fine folks @ Buzz have also posted a number of great pics from the conference here.

UPDATE: Mark Batterson has announced that video of the talks will be made available at some point as well.

- Metapost on the Buzz Conference

New Horizons for Kingdom Impact

Leadership Network is soliciting comment on the just published article Social Networking Tools for the Church: New Horizons for Kingdom Impact.

The article explores what various churches are doing with Second Life, Facebook, MySpace, and within other online environments.

If you are interesting in participating, please click here after reading the piece. It's basically a brief survey with the opportunity for comments.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

This is the Truth

Someone has posted this amazing video from Granger Community Church that many of us saw for the first time last week at the Buzz Conference in DC to YouTube.


ht: David Foster

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Word from Buzz... is that they plan to open source the talks from last week's Buzz Conference. The plan is to place the talks here early next week.

If you didn't go, I would especially recommend the 2 talks by Craig Groeschel.

- Metapost on the Buzz Conference

Article on the Recent Buzz Conference and NCC

The Christian Post interviews National Community Church's Mark Batterson.

- Metapost on the Buzz Conference

Monday, July 02, 2007

your advice please...

...I'm considering moving emergesque (and maybe changing the name to faithmaps blog) to another platform.

I'd be interested in any advice people might wish to give on typepad, wordpress, etc. I probably will use another free service but it would be nice to get in on a platform with which I can grow.

And if there's anyone out there who has moved from blogger to any other platform, I'd be very interested in hearing about your experience.


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Relative Superficialities: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

I was a big West Wing fan. I did stop watching it for years after Aaron Sorkin left, but...I think it was sometime last year...after I loaded up my Netflix queue with the rest of the series, I was surprised that I still enjoyed it pretty well, and made it through to the end.

So I was pretty excited when Studio 60 was coming out and loved the season opener.

But then - as, I would wager to say, a majority of critics and fans would agree - the show quickly went south. I stopped watching it.

But I didn't delete it from my DVR timer and - from time to time - I would stick my toe back into the Sorkin pond.

I think I might have missed some episodes, but some days ago I started working thru the last few episodes - specifically, the last 4, which are written as a three-parter and a season (which turned out to be a series) finale.

I was really surprised; they were really good! I think I read somewhere that Sorkin did re-direct the show mid-stream toward a focus on the relationships and less of a focus on the drama of doing a comedy show (a premise that never worked). The last few episodes reflect that and are well worth seeing.

One of the most interesting plot threads as the show moved towards its series finale was the faith of Christian cast member Harriet Hayes and her interactions with others on the show. During some genuine crises, she separately entreats both Danny Tripp - who exec produces the show - and Matt Albie - the show's head writer - to pray with her. They respond in opposite, very real ways.

So if, like me, you liked the concept and beginning of the show but dropped off along with the show's quality, this is just an encouragement that you'll likely enjoy the final few episodes of this show.

You can view them online on the show's site or download them for $1.50 apiece on iTunes.