Monday, July 31, 2006


It's not the kind of move a mega-church pastor makes during a $7 million fund raising effort, especially when you're short $3 million.

Unless, of course, you are the founding pastor and you can preach a series called the "Cross and the Sword," urging the church to keep away from politics, avoid moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming that the US is a "Christian nation" and stop glorifying US military campaigns.

Dr. Gregory A. Boyd, founding pastor of Woodland Hills Church (WHC) in Maplewood, Minnesota, began tiring of requests to rally around, endorse, condone and introduce various issues, politicians, pamphlets and guides from the pulpit. And why not hang an American flag from the platform, since the country was engaged in battle?

Essentially, Boyd has concluded that, among other things: "When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses. When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross."

In this day and age, such commentary stands in opposition to the current of present-day evangelicalism, at least as popularized by major media. Yes, you know the ones......those aligning themselves with and known primarily by the Republican party.

The interesting thing is that this is news now. Boyd delivered the sermons shortly before the last presidential election. In the time transpiring, it seems WHC has lost around 1000 of its 5000 members. Perhaps the knowledge of such may help to percolate sales for his newest book, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Nation, which was released on May 1 of this year. The book is based on the aforementioned sermons he delivered at the time. It is one of a only a handfull on the subject from other authors.

From his Letters From A Skeptic to Satan and the Problem of Evil to God of the Possible, I have appeciated Boyd's writing style and ideas. Most of his material in what I've read is carefully and painstakenly presented.

Boyd balks at the premise that this makes him a "liberal," who was educated at Yale's divinity school and Princeton Theological Seminary. In fact, Boyd's book, God of the Possible roused an unsuccessful attempt to shoo him from the Baptist General Conference.

While not hinting at his political preference, he maintained that the sermons were not mounted attacks at the Religious Right or the Republican party. He was decrying the sad state of how both sides of the right and left had become steeped into a political idolatry.

And what of Boyd's first sense of dis-ease? While at another megachurch's Fourth of July service some years ago, the service concluded with a choral rendition of "God Bless America" and a video of fighter jets (for Jesus I presume) flying over a hill silhouetted with crosses: "I thought to myself, 'What just happened? Fighter jets mixed up with the cross?'"

Boyd's assertion is primarily this: the role of Christians was not to seek "power over" others with controlling governments, legislation and waging wars. On the contrary, Christians should seek to have "power under" others by winning people's hearts through self-sacrifice for those in need. His contention is that this was the model of Jesus.

Boyd also argues that America is not a "Christian nation" and was not founded as a theocracy.

It is true that a certain very vocal, powerful segment of Christian so-called, "evangelical" elitists are jockeying for position in ways and realms that don't belong to them. It remains to be seen how much of their authentic Christianity must be laid at the door once given access to the coffers of wealth, prestige and influence. The closer you get to the hot core of the machine, the more you are melded into the likeness of its cause and effect. It is never the other way around and by the time this is known, the tiny compromises add up.

It is no simple thing to ascertain just what role Christians should play in the political machinery of nation-states whose ruling elite are led by avowed occultists and pawns for multi-national, corporate conglomerations. While only God truly knows the hearts of men, I do know that our "Christian" president has never issued a letter of remit to the occult Skull and Bones, perhaps one of America's most powerful secret societies (to whom he still adheres). I don't guess it isn't enough either that Jesus never said anything in secret. Anyone honestly willing to sustain inquiry long enough into the matter will find in evidence that light and darkness cannot co-exist. It isn't a matter of siding with either of a two-party, hijacked political system either.

Can conscientious Christians vote or be involved in some level of the governmental process? I reservedly say we can at present, but we just better know who the gatekeepers are, and this is not an easy task in the flux of all that we have at stake. Anyone trying to act for decency and justice even on the local levels of our governing seats know this. Most people know too, that not all involved are demons from Hades bent on thwarting all things Christian. But the resolve to be willing to call some things for what they are is being lost in the fracas over three-dollar-a-gallon gasoline and the endless war on terror.

We know that we are children of God and that the whole world is under control of the evil one. 1 John 5:19.

see the full article on Boyd here.

Friday, July 28, 2006


If I ain't a right-proud pastor-dude by now......this is some pretty hot stuff, coming from our young lady, Shirley Wang, a former Veritasian who graduated from Miami University this past spring. This young lady is going to do much good in this world.

Shirley is going to investigate sexual violence across the globe, gaining cross-cultural perspectives.

As a winner of a $26,000 scholarship, she's going to observe at the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization in Switzerland, Victoria University in Australia, the International Center for Research on Women in Washington, D.C., the Taiwan Ministry of the Interior and Taiwan National Cheng Kung University Medical Center. She'll plan on incorporating narratives with statistics for a series of journal articles, a guidebook, a resource list, and other publications in conjunction with UN agencies (from the Summer 2006 Miamian).

Did I say I was proud?

Click here for the whole article.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I am a pastor. I have been for sixteen years. I can't help it. For the non-pastor-types out there, I am a junkie for the Kingdom of God, for people and I try to be instrumental in helping seekers find their way with the express, written consent of God (you have the same, incidentally). It's just that I've determined to center my life around what to me is a calling.

It's hard to be a pastor when you have no one around to pastor. God has seen fit through these years to surround me with people with whom I'm entrusted to love and serve. In some sense, that has been affirmation enough.

One of the most precious commodities for a pastor is time. This is better translated availability from the perspective of the parishioner. A pastor may want/need more time for one thing or another, but who doesn't want their pastor to be available to them? So that is the one thing, in my estimation, that any pastor must be known for.

There was a time (prior to Veritas) when I received remuneration for my availability as a pastor (among other things pertaining to the "traditional" ministry description). This meant that office hours had to be kept; appointments had to be made and observed. Visits were paramount from home to home and the pastor's house often was seen as an extension of the church because that was where the pastor and his wife lived. For right or wrong, it came with the territory and we accepted it, but we weren't wishy-washy with needed boundaries central to our own health and sanity.

There was a time in one stage of my journey while preparing to come to Oxford when I envisioned a church we would start that would, at some point in its development, financially support my family so I could do that ministry. It wasn't a hard-set goal, like I was wanting to get it big enough to do that- it was just the model and structure I was used to. I hadn't seen anything but that in my experience. I didn't come to Oxford wanting to start house churches, simple churches, organic communities and the like. Those things were not even on my radar. There was no relational frame of reference whereby to posit those values into any meaningful ministry picture of what could be.

There was a time when, as an appointed church planting missionary with the North American Mission Board of the SBC, I shared a funded 2 year position with another planter and his family to come start this church. That was the last time I was paid as a pastor. Even then, on the new field of church planting, I could afford to meet people, to hang out and to offer my availability.

Then came the mix of people into our lives who were instrumental in finally embodying for us what it was God was planting in our hearts insofar as what kind of church we were to be. The choices we were given to make at that juncture called me to fathom the right kind of choices that would be consistent with the values with which we were aligning. They had so much to say about personal financial position and possibility in ways that some people may never know.

The timing of gravitating toward the community we were becoming, compounded with the fact we weren't a self-supporting church at the time, compelled me to creatively weigh my income options in order to maintain this value of availability. My support was ending and I was scrambling to secure my main income outside of the church for the first time in my ministry. And I think God, in due time, opened up the unique opportunity whereby I could be around college students, have a relatively predictable job and have my summers free to devote to ministry. The job also afforded me time during the workweek too. I also have a group of co-workers who often look to me as their minister.

The pitfall has been the pay, of course, due to my schedule coinciding with the school year. Essentially, I'm laid off during the summer and holidays. We aren't where we want to be financially as a family and this hinders us in other ways. We aren't suffering by any means and we make do and we have joy in our place. Could I be a better pastor if I were paid to do so, or is that an illusion?

I truly think that I have the best kind of schedule that a pastor can have in doing this kind of ministry, even though I have to work two other jobs, which are flexible as well. In all of the jobs I looked for, not to mention what was available (and maybe those options that God closed), this set up allows me the most flexibility in terms of the availability I offer to my people. I don't know how else I can do it.

So, my time is what I have to offer you. This is what I can give to you. It is given in joy and service but it is borne from sacrifice and toil. It isn't a luxury I commandeered from laxity or slothfulness. It is my gift on the table. Please do not err in the assumption it is for anything else. This is my choice, and nothing but that. I have half a dozen things I could do outside of the will of God. But WOE is me and WOE unto me if I do not do this thing that I do (in other words, I think I'd be miserable if I weren't doing this).

I do not for any moment regret where I am and what I'm doing. I can't see myself anywhere else but with the people I have around me to pastor. EVERY single day, their faces and their well-being weigh in on my heart. Every day my thoughts and joys are trained on them. I don't do what I do to garner recognition; there's none to be had. I won't be a sought-after conference speaker, touting ideologies and methodologies. The work here may not be glamorous enough. I just want to be known that I loved my family, my fellow Veritasians and my compatriots in ministry and to hopefully see God do such a magnificent work that no one but him could take the glory.

.....and boy, do I have a way to go yet.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Just got back from a whirlwind trip to Tennessee. My great Aunt Juanita passed away and had to do the funeral. As always, getting to see my sister, my mom, my Aunt Pam and Uncle Joe was the cream on this cup. You know age is creeping up when the majority of time of what's left of your family of origin's get togethers are for funerals.

Additionally, today we say goodbye to Eric and Christi Osterday. Tough as that will be to do, it helps to know we are sending them off to alma mater no less! So tonight, we'll celebrate their years with us sharing stories and commissioning them to their new journey in ministry. We love you guys! And get ready for us in Loosyville for Thunder too!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

This is the most annoying game of all time.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


Not a novel idea, but I have my own visual sensibilities about the poor souls, who for some reason or another, were split asunder at birth. Perhaps their progenitors, beholding their monstronsities, couldn't fathom a world without my filial matchmaking acumen, which I am always on ready to do.

For starters...dashing, lust-puppy George "Syriana" Clooney...and lust-for-terror Hamas leader, Khamed Meshaal?

Saturday, July 01, 2006


One More Sure Sign Of The Apocalypse