the next great philanthropist/social activist?

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I just read an article by Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker about Pastor/Author Rick Warren. In this article Rick talks a little bit about the newfound fame and wealth that his book "Purpose Driven Life" has brought him. Here is a short excerpt from that article:

"In the wake of the extraordinary success of "The Purpose-Driven Life," Warren says, he underwent a period of soul-searching. He had suddenly been given enormous wealth and influence and he did not know what he was supposed to do with it. "God led me to Psalm 72, which is Solomon's prayer for more influence," Warren says. "It sounds pretty selfish. Solomon is already the wisest and wealthiest man in the world. He's the King of Israel at the apex of its glory. And in that psalm he says, 'God, I want you to make me more powerful and influential.' It looks selfish until he says, 'So that the King may support the widow and orphan, care for the poor, defend the defenseless, speak up for the immigrant, the foreigner, be a friend to those in prison.' Out of that psalm, God said to me that the purpose of influence is to speak up for those who have no influence. That changed my life. I had to repent. I said, I'm sorry, widows and orphans have not been on my radar. I live in Orange County. I live in the Saddleback Valley, which is all gated communities. There aren't any homeless people around. They are thirteen miles away, in Santa Ana, not here." He gestured toward the rolling green hills outside. "I started reading through Scripture. I said, How did I miss the two thousand verses on the poor in the Bible? So I said, I will use whatever affluence and influence that you give me to help those who are marginalized."

He and his wife, Kay, decided to reverse tithe, giving away ninety per cent (over $14 million in 2004) of the tens of millions of dollars they earned from "The Purpose-Driven Life." They sat down with gay community leaders to talk about fighting AIDS. Warren has made repeated trips to Africa. He has sent out volunteers to forty-seven countries around the world, test-piloting experiments in microfinance and H.I.V. prevention and medical education. He decided to take the same networks he had built to train pastors and spread the purpose-driven life and put them to work on social problems.

"There is only one thing big enough to handle the world's problems, and that is the millions and millions of churches spread out around the world," he says. "I can take you to thousands of villages where they don't have a school. They don't have a grocery store, don't have a fire department. But they have a church."

CLICK HERE to download the entire article (PDF)


blood:water mission

Last weekend I led worship at a multi church, multi denominational community worship night. There were several leaders involved both in musical worship and in leading short segments of prayer, and exhortation. I was asked to do a little of each. The music part was easy to plan for. I’ve done that a million times. However, speaking is not my strong suit. I did have a message on my heart though, so I took a deep breath and dove in. Here’s what I said:

“Thanksgiving… How many of you have something to be thankful for? Personally I have so much to be thankful for. When I take a moment to sit back and count my blessings I feel a responsibility to give back a little bit. I want to do something for those in need. To whom much is given, much is required.

About a week after Hurricane Katrina a few friends and I drove a truck load of supplies down to Louisiana and Mississippi. It was amazing to me to see that with a fairly small investment you could have such a huge impact on a community. Let me ask you a question. What was the first thing that hurricane survivors asked for? What was the most urgent need?” The unanimous response was WATER! I held up a water bottle and continued.

“This water is fairly cheap and we’ve seen the huge impact it can have. You cannot sustain life without clean water. After returning from Louisiana I became acquainted with the organization started up by the guys of Jars of Clay called ‘Blood:Water Mission’. I learned that two of three children born into third world countries will not reach adulthood because of one thing: unclean water. I also learned that with a fairly small investment we can help. For a few thousand dollars we can dig a well that will provide clean water for an entire community for years to come. In a room this size (about 500 people) if each and every one of us gave up Starbucks for just one day we could dig this well. It’s not a huge deal, just one mocha."

Then I said, "I’ve placed two water cooler sized water bottles at the corners of the stage and during the next few songs I want you to get out of your seat and come down to the water bottles and put your Starbucks money in the bottle to provide clean water for those in need. This is a very real way that we can be the hands and feet of Jesus to the fatherless, the widow, and those in need. Jesus called that ‘true religion’ and tonight we want to be a part of that.”

Then I prayed and started leading the congregation in the doxology, and then we sang Grace Like Rain. It was really hard to hold back tears as hundreds of people came up and gave as an act of worship. It was a beautiful thing.

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I was hoping for around a thousand dollars but I was blown away at the final count. When all was said and done our group of worshipers had given over $1800.00!!! I am absolutely amazed at the generosity of these beautiful people and am extremely humbled to have been a part.

If you would like to be a part CLICK HERE to go to Blood:Water Mission’s website and click the “Donate Online” button. Join us and give up your coffee money for a day or two and be a part of a life saving effort to bring clean water to Africa.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the work of Blood:Water Mission



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What's crazy is, the attendance was up by 200 percent that weekend...


poster child for christianity

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Meet Margaret Perrin.
Margaret was a part of the television show "Trading Spouses" where the mothers from two diverse families trade places for one week while the cameras roll tape. Margaret is from Louisiana, and is a church going, Bible believing, Revelations quoting, "God warrior". She spent a week with a new age family as the new age mom spent a week with Margaret's family. What a wonderful opportunity for Margaret to be an example of Christlike grace, love, and acceptance. Unfortunately Margaret couldn't get past the "dark sided" ways of the new age family she landed with. She didn't really make too many friends in the family. It did however appear that she reinforced many preconceived notions about Christians being close minded, narrow, unloving, selfish and unaccepting.

Is that really what Christians are about? Why would anyone want to be a part of that family?

CLICK HERE to see the clip from "Trading Spouses"
CLICK HERE to hear Margaret's new single from her upcoming album

**NEW** CLICK HERE to see the Margaret Perrin Bobblehead figurine!


you had me at Jesus Juice

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A Los Angeles couple has petitioned the Copyright office in an effort to market a wine labeled "Jesus Juice". The label features a man looking an awful lot like Michael Jackson in the pose of the Crucifix. That's not distasteful at all.

I'm sure they have the best intentions.

CLICK HERE for the full story
CLICK HERE for the winemaker's explanation


questions facing the early church

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I'm watching a fascinating documentary called "from Jesus to Christ: the First Christians". It is all about the cultural setting that Jesus was born into. It also follows His ministry, crucifixion, and the aftermath for the newly formed community of the followers of Christ. It's about a four hour documentary and I'm only two hours in, but already I've seen some fascinating stuff I wanted to talk about. The thing that struck me was that the early church faced many of the same questions that I face as a follower of Christ who wishes to be true to my faith while maintaining cultural relevance. Check this out. One of the commentators was talking about the struggles of the first generation of Christ followers, much of which is documented in the book of Titus. They had several questions that they had to sort out:

How Greek am I to be?
How Roman am I to be?
How Jewish am I to be?

When read in context these questions mean this:

How Greek am I to be, how strongly do I identify with my nationality, race, and heritage?
How Roman am I to be, what is my place in the political scheme of things?
How Jewish am I to be, do I have to be a religious person in order to be a follower of Christ?

These are the problems that the followers of Christ faced as they asked themselves, "what is my place in today's prevailing culture?"

These are relevant questions for today. I see a sense of national pride in the USA, and have seen the terms "American" and "Christian" used interchangeably, yet many things that are done in the name of the good 'ole USA are not Christlike at all. Should I speak up, even if I seem unpatriotic? I've seen churchgoers used as political collateral, and told en masse who to vote for by someone in leadership who has done all the thinking for them. Do I follow the rest of the sheep, or do I rock the boat? Is it even my place to be talking about politics? I've also seen so many people who love Christ but want nothing to do with organized religion. Is there a place for them in Christianity? How "religious" do we need to be?

One of the first major controversies that the early church faced was based on the last question. How Jewish am I to be? With the spread of the gospel of Christ came new converts. The first question a heathen (gentile) convert must ask themselves is,"must I become Jewish (religious) in order to be a follower of Jesus?" Did they have to take on the Jewish rites? Did they have to follow the letter of the Levitical law? Did they have to leave behind all connections to their family and their community? Did they have to become circumcised so that they could take on the appearance of the Jews? Did they have to look religious in order to be a follower of Christ?

I knew it would be interesting to watch this documentary but it was fascinating to me to discover that I could relate to some of the same questions that they faced.

How American am I to be? Do I have to stand by everything that is done in the name of the USA even if I feel like it is contrary to what is true, and right, and Godly?
How Political am I to be? When I decide to become a Christian do I vote with the rest of churchianity and leave thinking to the qualified?
How Religious am I to be? I hate neckties. I like beer. I cuss every now and then. Do I really have to listen to that music? Do I have to learn to talk like other christians? What the hell does "traveling mercies" mean anyway?

I truly love Jesus Christ, and I really want to live my life in a way that would honor Him. So I struggle my way through these questions because I really want to know:

What is my place in today's prevailing culture?



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Nudist pastor holds naked services.

Pastor Robert Wright has begun hosting Nudist Church Services at a naturist resort near Brisbane Australia. His services have drawn as many as 200 naked worshipers to partake in the Lord's Supper in the buff. Pastor Wright says, "I am not trying to get Christians to become nudists, I am catering to Christians who are nudists. There are more Christians in it than people realize. We are not into sex orgies, we are very well-adjusted people."

The problem is, everyone can clearly see when he's "adjusting".


sometimes you can't make it on your own

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In the current issue of Rolling Stone there is an interview with U2 lead singer/activist Bono. It’s a fascinating read, and shows some great insight into this mans spiritual life and his views on modern christianity. Here’s a small excerpt from the article:

Soon after starting the band you joined a Bible-study group -- you and Larry and Edge -- called the Shalom. What brought that on?

We were doing street theater in Dublin, and we met some people who were madder than us. They were a kind of inner-city group living life like it was the first century A.D.

They were expectant of signs and wonders; lived a kind of early-church religion. It was a commune. People who had cash shared it. They were passionate, and they were funny, and they seemed to have no material desires. Their teaching of the Scriptures reminded me of those people whom I'd heard as a youngster with Guggi. I realize now, looking back, that it was just insatiable intellectual curiosity.

But it got a little too intense, as it always does; it became a bit of a holy huddle. And these people -- who are full of inspirational teaching and great ideas -- they pretended that our dress, the way we looked, didn't bother them. But very soon it appeared that was not the case. They started asking questions about the music we were listening to. Why are you wearing earrings? Why do you have a mohawk?

How did you end up leaving that?

I think we just went on tour.

And forgot to come back?

Well, we'd visit. If you were going to study the teaching, it demanded a rejection of the world. Even then we understood that you can't escape the world, wherever you go. Least of all in very intense religious meetings -- which can be more corrupt and more bent, in terms of the pressures they exert on people, than the outside forces.

What draws you so deeply to Martin Luther King?

So now -- cut to 1980. Irish rock group, who've been through the fire of a certain kind of revival, a Christian-type revival, go to America. Turn on the TV the night you arrive, and there's all these people talking from the Scriptures. But they're quite obviously raving lunatics.

Suddenly you go, what's this? And you change the channel. There's another one. You change the channel, and there's another secondhand-car salesman. You think, oh, my God. But their words sound so similar . . . to the words out of our mouths.

So what happens? You learn to shut up. You say, whoa, what's this going on? You go oddly still and quiet. If you talk like this around here, people will think you're one of those. And you realize that these are the traders -- as in t-r-a-d-e-r-s -- in the temple.

Until you get to the black church, and you see that they have similar ideas. But their religion seems to be involved in social justice; the fight for equality. And a Rolling Stone journalist, Jim Henke, who has believed in you more than anyone up to this point, hands you a book called Let the Trumpet Sound -- which is the biography of Dr. King. And it just changes your life.

Even though I'm a believer, I still find it really hard to be around other believers: They make me nervous, they make me twitch. I sorta watch my back. Except when I'm with the black church. I feel relaxed, feel at home; my kids -- I can take them there; there's singing, there's music.

What is your religious belief today? What is your concept of God?

If I could put it simply, I would say that I believe there's a force of love and logic in the world, a force of love and logic behind the universe. And I believe in the poetic genius of a creator who would choose to express such unfathomable power as a child born in "straw poverty"; i.e., the story of Christ makes sense to me.

How does it make sense?

As an artist, I see the poetry of it. It's so brilliant. That this scale of creation, and the unfathomable universe, should describe itself in such vulnerability, as a child. That is mind-blowing to me. I guess that would make me a Christian. Although I don't use the label, because it is so very hard to live up to. I feel like I'm the worst example of it, so I just kinda keep my mouth shut.

Do you pray or have any religious practices?

I try to take time out of every day, in prayer and meditation. I feel as at home in a Catholic cathedral as in a revival tent. I also have enormous respect for my friends who are atheists, most of whom are, and the courage it takes not to believe.

How big an influence is the Bible on your songwriting? How much do you draw on its imagery, its ideas?

It sustains me.

As a belief, or as a literary thing?

As a belief. These are hard subjects to talk about because you can sound like such a dickhead. I'm the sort of character who's got to have an anchor. I want to be around immovable objects. I want to build my house on a rock, because even if the waters are not high around the house, I'm going to bring back a storm. I have that in me. So it's sort of underpinning for me.

I don't read it as a historical book. I don't read it as, "Well, that's good advice." I let it speak to me in other ways. They call it the rhema. It's a hard word to translate from Greek, but it sort of means it changes in the moment you're in. It seems to do that for me.

You're saying it's a living thing?

It's a plumb line for me. In the Scriptures, it is self-described as a clear pool that you can see yourself in, to see where you're at, if you're still enough. I'm writing a poem at the moment called "The Pilgrim and His Lack of Progress." I'm not sure I'm the best advertisement for this stuff.

What do you think of the evangelical movement that we see in the United States now?

I'm wary of faith outside of actions. I'm wary of religiosity that ignores the wider world. In 2001, only seven percent of evangelicals polled felt it incumbent upon themselves to respond to the AIDS emergency. This appalled me. I asked for meetings with as many church leaders as would have them with me. I used my background in the Scriptures to speak to them about the so-called leprosy of our age and how I felt Christ would respond to it. And they had better get to it quickly, or they would be very much on the other side of what God was doing in the world.

Amazingly, they did respond. I couldn't believe it. It almost ruined it for me -- 'cause I love giving out about the church and Christianity. But they actually came through: Jesse Helms, you know, publicly repents for the way he thinks about AIDS.

I've started to see this community as a real resource in America. I have described them as "narrow-minded idealists." If you can widen the aperture of that idealism, these people want to change the world. They want their lives to have meaning.

CLICK HERE to read more of the interview at rollingstone.com
CLICK HERE to subscribe to the podcast of the audio from the actual interview