Author Archive


The Third Day

Christ has Risen!

What does that mean for us?

As I write these words down, all the world seems to be as caught up in its own business as usual. People are going to the beach, others are walking out of church for the first time since Christmas and others are justifying today as another reason to spend or drink.

In my case, there doesn’t seem to be as much peace as I would like…

What does Jesus’ resurrection actually mean, though?

My wife made a constructive addendum to my “Holy Saturday” entry, suggesting that some kind of comment referring to Jesus’ harrowing of hell is certainly worth mentioning. I agree.

Some scholars have argued that Jesus’ descent into hell is to be taken figuratively, not literally. Others have claimed that the descent was into death itself. Still others believe that it was Jesus’ taking on of flesh that establishes Jesus’ time in hell.

What is true is that regardless of what the actual place or condition may have been of Jesus’ descent into hell, the absence of Jesus’ presence in the lives of so many – including those who claim to have him present (but He actually isn’t), leaves an emptiness within and around the human being which is equitable to living in hell.

The fire and brimstone aspect of living there is possibly comparable to the cold & hellish life of loneliness, addiction, self-hatred, lust, self-deception, superficiality of life, loose living, selfishness, ignorance of God (willful and/or unwilling), living without purpose, living without any authentic source of substance to one’s life and/or choices, worldliness, sexualized existence and lack of existential meaning to why we do what we do & think the way we do.

Like Christmas, Easter is commercialized and often we desire to have a perfect day. Life has a way of ensuring a measure of reality for most of us, notwithstanding.

Unlike Christmas, Easter is a time when we need to face the often avoided subject of crucifixion and death. During this time of the rolling year, the empty tomb is sometimes overwhelmed by a bunny and egg hunts – this is included at church, too.

What resurrection means is that we can die in Christ’s service and actually awaken to life itself. That the step into death assures us of an abundant life which is inconceivable for all of us – no matter how close we are to God on this side of the Jordan. What resurrection means is that we do not have to fear the conditions and constraints of this world and its “expectations”. We can live free and radical lives for Jesus. We can surrender things to God and we can turn over our most precious selves to God so that He can do what we cannot and will not ever be able to do, live a life worth living to the honor and glory of God. Anything short of this is to be seen as what it is – counterfeit and idolatrous. We invest and invent an alternative to living in, through and because of Christ. We make the profoundly sinful decision of passing this lie to our children and in doing so, we worship ourselves, i.e., our achievements, bodies, people, material things, expectations and our independence.

Resurrection unveils the lie of death and uncovers for us the condemned state of our existence without Him. The empty tomb comes at an unimaginable price. The price we can never repay. The price which we are not supposed to pay, but woe to any of us who disregard the gift and set ourselves off to exile from God (and His priceless gift).

Easter is about claiming the resurrection as a daily reality for our lives and a constant reminder that we must die to self – everyday. That the empty tomb comes only when we are obedient to God and live obediently within God’s economy – church, marriage, family, home, life, friends, work, etc. All must be under the Christ and all must be subject to His standard for living. A standard that defeated death once and for all and in doing so affords us life beyond our wildest imagination – forever.

He has Risen indeed!



Church Planting, Spiritual Formation

At home… Replanting

Church planting isn’t for the fainthearted. I’ve been through quite a bit since September seeing New Antioch through its unexpected commencement last year in late September and through the challenges endured; and unexpectedly once again, immediately after Christmas.

Ups and downs, moments of excitement and periods of unwanted long-suffering have made this time quite abundant in lessons about the Kingdom and vibrant in how to “do” Church – as God wills it to be. Maiby and I have seen His faithfulness and provision beyond measure, to say the very least.

Now I confess the following:

At several junctures, I felt as if I had failed God, my wife and the congregation.

At various points along the way, I felt as exhausted as a pilgrim walking a medieval road and quite exhausted of “having it so hard”.

Through the days leading to the final decision to “replant” New Antioch, I felt it was best if I went shopping around for a church in need of a pastor and see if I could get hired and that would be enough to grant me financial security and “enjoyment” in ministry. I developed a “reasonable” rationale for why church planting wasn’t for me – at least in the way that it had “fallen” into my lap through the Church of the Brethren.

Through it all, though, God continued to open significant doors for me. PhD programmes, academic fellowships, journal articles to write and preaching engagements, too. So many opportunities and “big breaks”, and here I was feeling “left aside”, “marginalized” and perhaps… “overlooked”.

This is where my “experience as a church planter” ran diametrically opposite my life as a seminary professor. I have had the “dicha” – Spanish for “the blessing”, if you will, to encounter – on a first hand basis, the challenge of living out “theory” in the “real world”. I have grown more accustomed to the dissonance of living out the ministry licking my wounds and feeling “out of season” quite often. Perhaps I felt I deserved a better break than the one given… then one days I saw into the eyes of my wife and heard the words, “No matter what, you have everything… You have God, me and our kids”…

Then I saw into the eyes of my disciple-making students and heard my own words preach and teach everything contrary to what I was feeling…

God is amazing… although I felt tired, marginalized and ineffective, God took my brokenness and utilized it as a source of reflection, thought provocation and prayer. His redemption and restoration has humbled me and caused me to feel shame. How dare I consider myself ill used when my Lord and my God has purposed me to teach, guide and cause others to grow, mature and be nourished at a seminary, a bible study and an unorthodox Brethren “experiment”?

I am blessed and truly highly favored. Sadly, I only now get it. The blessing is what is yet to come…

Grace and Peace