Announcing my next book!

LivingSacrifice_eBookCover_130809-003-BWhat was Jesus doing on the cross?–Try to answer that question and you’ll discover a more surprising question in return–What if Jesus in his death was showing us how to live?

Typical studies on the cross focus on what Jesus was doing for us. There are basic, long-established answers that say Jesus was…

  • Taking our place (Substitution).
  • Reuniting us with God and His Creation.(Reconciliation).
  • Defeating sin, death and the evil one (Christus Victor).
  • Purchasing us out of slavery to sin (Redemption).
  • Yielding to the will of the Father (Submission).

While affirming these magnificent tenants of the Christian faith, I take them a step further: The cross is a way of life. When Jesus died, he was showing us a new way to live. The Apostle Peter wrote, “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2.21) Living Sacrifice is about following in the steps of the example that Jesus left us in his suffering.

Living Sacrifice reveals that the cross is an invitation to an unusual kind of life. The English word “excruciating” comes from the Latin “excruciare” meaning “out of the cross.” It was a word invented specifically to describe crucifixion. Living Sacrifice explores the excruciating life; that is, a life lived “out of the cross.” Ultimately we’ll discover that the cross is a culture for the people of God, a set of behaviors, patterns and values for us to practice.

While rich in theology this book is devotional in nature. It is meant to draw us close to Jesus so that we may survey His wondrous cross.

Release date: Lent 2015

 

Lessons from the Life of a Homeless Man

SermonSeries_LessonsFromTheLifeOfAHomelessMan_TITLETerry Louis Fraser was a homeless man who loved hanging out in the parking lot of Colorado Community Church. On June 10th he laid down next to our building and breathed his last breath. He was a friend.

In my book, The Mercy Prayer I wrote this about him:

Terry is a homeless man whose knees are so damaged that his biggest challenge each day is crossing the street before the light turns traffic against him.  He and I have had many conversations.  When he is drunk, he screams at God at the top of his lungs.  One time he was screaming at me, “I’m just a gnat to God! In the same way I crush a bug, God has crushed me!” When the alcohol wore off, I asked Terry if he wanted to know what the most answered prayer in the Bible was.  He did, and he a has been one of my proofreaders for this book.”

No one claimed him from the coroner so we have–Terry was and is one of us.

We were sent to Terry but God also sent Terry to us.

If you knew him do you have any stories you could share?  Why do you think God sent him to us?  What is the message God wants us to hear?

This weekend at Colorado Community Church we remembered and honored Terry in all of our services.  The video below was my eulogy.

Let’s JAM! (p4)–Jazz and the Church

[This series is a faith-filled celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) and International Jazz Day.]

What if we experienced church like a jazz ensemble…connected, not only to those that we can see, but also with those who have and have yet to follow Jesus?

(Finding the Groove:  Composing a Jazz-Shaped Faith p83)

E pluribus unumE Pluribus Unum

We were all created for community–Beloved Community.

E pluribus unum–out of many, one.  This motto represents the American desire to be a society in which people from the whole world can come and participate.  It appears on the Great Seal of the United States and on much of our money, and it represents our quest and questions when it comes to community in our culture.

It’s a laudable goal, but how do you make many into one?  The answer depends on your metaphor.  The image we have in our mind for community is vital, not just for our country, but for church as well, for our culture will guide our pursuit toward being one in Christ.

Mixed Metaphors, Mixed Results

The Melting Pot and The Salad Bowl were (and still are for many) guiding metaphors for making one out of many.  While both have their strengths they have shown themselves to be fraught with pitfalls when it comes to actually inspiring the many to become one.

Because it is unique to America, jazz also has struggled with e pluribus unum and offers us an alternative way of viewing relationships:  Ensemble–Life in concert with and for each other.

?????????????????????????????????Ensemble Community

What is it that allows the same people to play the same song night after night and yet still be interested in each other and what they are doing?  What allows a jazz musician from one city to walk into a venue in another and join a group she has never played with–and yet they sound as if they have jammed together on many an occasion?

In my book, Finding the Groove:  Composing a Jazz-Shaped Faith, I explain the nuances of ensemble community and what this way of doing relationships can teach the church, especially when it comes to actually practicing Christianity.  Robert O’Meally, summed it up well when he wrote, “Jazz is freedom…the one-and-many e pluribus unum with a laid-back beat”!

Desmond Tutu gets it.

(Click here to read part 1 & part 2 & part 3)

What’s a jazz theologian?

National Day of Prayer: The Mercy Prayer eBook Now Only $3.99

Thursday May 1st is the 63rd annual National Day of Prayer.

The Mercy Prayer3DFor this special day my publisher has reduced all ebook versions of The Mercy Prayer:  The One Prayer Jesus Always Answers.

Limited time only:  $3.99

Make the most prayed prayer in the Bible the most prayed prayer in your life.

Amazon Kindle

Barnes & Noble Nook

iTunes iPad/iPhone

Let’s JAM! (p3)–Jazz and the Bible

[This series is a faith-filled celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) and International Jazz Day.]

What if there is another way to know the Scriptures?  What if we experienced the word of God as a song that sets us free to compose, a melody that has room for our voices to join in with the ancients?

(Finding the Groove:  Composing a Jazz-Shaped Faith p115)

What is the Bible?

What are we supposed to do with our bibles?  They contain the very words of God handed down to us through human personality.  Sixty-six books that all point to a Creator who is actively involved with his creation, seeking, wooing, and redeeming.  So what are we supposed to do with them?

The most obvious answer is that we are to read and study them.  This, for me, still begs the question:  But how are we supposed to study them?

Too often we treat the scriptures like a science project.

Depositphotos_4371215_xsRibbit, Ribbit

Remember what happened to the frog in high school science class?  It entered the class croaking and jumping, full of life.  But then it was studied scientifically.  Pinned down on a board and cut open.  We learned what its heart and liver looked like.  Things once hidden were now in plain sight.  In the process, something important was lost–the frog’s life!

Too often we study our Bible’s like a science project and wonder why they don’t feel alive–let alone life-giving–to us.  Jazz Theologian’s believe that the scriptures are a mystery being revealed, a song being sung, a way of life being presented.  They are meant to be sought and experienced and lived because they are alive.  This is why a jazz-shaped faith essential.

More about syncopating and improvising the scriptures (i.e. Jazzaneutics) can be found in my book, Finding the Groove:  Composing a Jazz-Shaped Faith.

(Click here to read part 1 & part 2)

What’s a jazz theologian?

Let’s JAM! (p2)–Believing IN Jazz

[This series is a faith-filled celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) and International Jazz Day.]

Music has found form in jazz.  Poetry discovered existence in jazz.  Literature made the leap and found expression in jazz.  What would it look like to believe in jazz?  To express our faith in jazz?  To convey the glorious gospel in jazz?

FTGPicture1 copyJazz theologian’s have discovered that Ralph Ellison was correct when he said that all of American life is “jazz-shaped”?  That being the case, we must understand the essence of jazz in order to live out our faith in this culture.  In Finding the Groove:  Composing a Jazz-Shaped Faith (Kindle)I tell the story about how I learned that there are three essential components to understanding jazz and while jazz is more than music, music is not a bad place to start.

3 Key Notes

Syncopation:  Jazz swings.  That is, it picks up momentum, presses forward, and searches for what is to come.  Syncopation is the technique that creates this characteristic.  Simply put, syncopation is accenting the offbeat.  This is what causes you to want to move, to dance, to sit with your eyes closed and take on the cool head nod in the corner.  Duke Ellington said it best:  “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.”

Improvisation:  In jazz, the same old song seems like a new song every time it is performed because it is a music of traditions and freedom.  When jazz musicians take the stage, they are there, in part, to take the risk of composing in the moment–improvisation.  As Louis Armstrong said, “Jazz is music that’s never played the same way once.”

Call & Response:  Jazz was conceived, birthed, and incubated in the slave church, in which call-and-response was a way of life.  Call-and-response as and is a way for everybody to be involved in the preaching event.  The preacher calls and congregation responds; horn calls and piano responds.  Call-and-response makes listening to jazz music and adventure as you begin to hear the instruments as voices calling to each other and engaging in conversation.  It’s the essence of community.  Amen?

Once I became familiar with these key notes, I began to see jazz everywhere, for all of American life is jazz-shaped, and jazz is more than music.  Additionally, I began to experiment with them in everyday life and found others in history who had done the same–including Jesus.

(Click here to read part 1)

What’s a jazz theologian?

Let’s JAM! (p1)–Composing a Jazz-Shaped Faith

JAM_logo_verticalApril is Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) which culminates with International Jazz Day on the 30th.

I’m a jazz theologian and I hope you’ll consider becoming one too.  While most people equate jazz with music, a jazz theologian knows that jazz is more than music and that, ultimately, it’s a window into America’s soul.  For jazz was born of the desire for freedom, independence, and autonomy within the bounds and bonds of America.  As such, jazz can be heard in music, enjoyed in sports and seen in literature, poetry & art.  My lament is that Christians have yet to fully embrace a jazz-shaped faith.

What does the church in America need?  Some say revival, repentance, reformation, renewal and revolution.  A jazz theologian believes that Christianity in America needs to experience a renaissance–Harlem, that is.

Most Christians are living a classical faith which found its’ origin in the Italian Renaissance.  However, America also had a renaissance.  Ours was a jazz-shaped rebirth of culture that took place in Harlem, spread across the country and influenced virtually every area of society…except for the church.

We don’t have to choose between these two renaissances, but–unfortunately–I think we have.  That’s why I wrote my book, Finding the Groove:  Composing a Jazz-Shaped Faith (Kindle).  The hope was to raise up a generation of jazz theologians who know what it means to syncopate, improvise and respond to the call of a love supreme.

Let’s wrap up Jazz Appreciation Month by jamming about the difference a jazz-shaped faith can make in our lives and churches.  Stay tuned…

 

 

What’s a jazz theologian?

How did Jesus reveal himself to you?

Christ in skyAs I work on my message for this Easter weekend I so desire for people to have a moment to consider the love of Jesus and what that means for their life.

I’m struck by all the ways that Jesus reveals himself to people and would love to hear your story of the first time you encountered the risen Lord.

When did it happen?  Where?  Were you on a spiritual quest or did he surprise you?

 

If you have yet to become a believer have you ever had a transcendent experience you could not explain?  Do you remember you experienced the presence of God?

Now Online: Immigration Transforum

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Recently Colorado Community Church gathered for a Transforum on immigration.

(What’s a Transforum?)

 

 

 

Watch

Responding to the Call of Micah 6.8

Do Justice:

Whose case can I plead?  How can I involve the person who caused the problem in the solution?  What common ground do I have with those also working on this issue?

Love Mercy

Who is sinning and needs forgiveness?  Who is suffering and needs relief?  What basic human need can God use me to meet?

Walk Humbly With God

What would it look like for God to show up?  What can I do?  What can only God do?

Action:  What is God calling you to do?

Click here to download the Immigration Transforum Tool box complete with statistics, organizations and action opportunities

 

(Click Here to Watch Previous Transforums)

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