The insecure security of resources and safety

I’m often confused by Christians who use the apparent threat of resources, safety, and security as a reason/platform for saying NO to things, especially issues for people and community. This fear is natural, but powerfully played by the enemy to stop us in our tracks so we remain in neutral, moved by the winds of life instead of the power of God.

Our communities, co-workers, and all of humanity need the resources of God’s kingdom to be activated, that means we need to be there looking for the solutions, not just saying no out of fear or lack of understanding the full picture. From personal relationships, local issues, all the way to national and worldwide problems; in Christ we can cooperate with the world to engage where resources, safety, and security are needed, rather than trying to protect just our own. We all have a mission, and we all share the same resources, which we have been given to take care.

We are not promised these things, in fact we are encouraged to risk them for people and our communities. The enemy plays the game well, using the lack of resources to strangle life, or the abundance to create apathy and false security. We have the power of God, the wisdom of God, and the commission to make disciples. He is the great caretaker and provider, and he asks us to go into the harvest, where often our resources, safety, and security will be threatened. However, He will take care of it all to expand His Kingdom, where these things are not in short supply.

Being interdependent on our brothers and sisters goes against the grain of our western independent mindset, yet this is the template shown to us by the early Church, and for good reason. Fellowship creates trust, resources, and faith. It can also be scary, hurtful, and messed up – but this is why Paul showed the example of holding people accountable, calling out the issues in their church communities, and calling them to cling to what is good and right, to adjust course and not abandon ship.

Let God fill your sails with bravery and courage in all things, engage the fear with the wisdom and love for all humanity that God has, letting him begin where you end. Which in my experience, means letting Him begin at just about the beginning.

It’s a journey, often with fear and lack of knowing all the details, but the rewards are unfathomable faith in situations that most would just give up on, and peace in times of great upheaval.

His Kingdom is near and far

Something that is not often discussed is the fact that people in God’s Kingdom are held to a different standard, order of operations, and transparency; while those who are yet to surrender to Jesus as King, are not held to the same. This is immensely important to understand the natural culture and societies we find ourselves in. Within the Kingdom we must mutually encourage one-another, hold ourselves accountable to others, and be transparent about our struggles.
It seems that our (at least from my American perspective) christian sub-culture tries to apply these values universally to all, to somehow affect culture without inviting people to know the King first. We’ve turned the Church into a club, when really Jesus “lived out Church” with the disciples and shows us the Church is for fellowship and gathering as a result of being salt and light in our communities.
Kingdom citizens have zero reason to expect anything of Kingdom values from non-citizens. The only way to address non-citizens is with compassion, an offer of friendship, authentically share our lives, which leads to why surrendering to Jesus is life changing. Ultimately it is about everlasting life, with the Father or not, and for here and now, it’s about the supernatural, the ability to do more than this broken nature allows.
Many struggle with the bad things in this world, with the horrific stories in the Bible, and with the horrific history where God didn’t seemingly intervene. Friends, this is the natural-state of our world, the one where we do not fight against flesh and blood, but can not see the true battle until we know the King. What we as Kingdom citizens know, is that with God we have supernatural abilities that point to the true creation that God originally intended and which still exists behind the veil.
Remember his Kingdom is near (we who have surrendered to Jesus) and far (not yet here for all).
Have hope, this is not the end, it is only the beginning. 10,000 reasons and more to come.

Christian altruism and a new start

I’ve had this blog since November of 2002, often it has fallen victim to the needs of life, expectations to be more than me, and simply being low priority. Today I hope to start anew… again… for the 1,000th time. Maybe it will stick this time… maybe.

I bought a new domain name (for $1) so I guess I have some motivation… I better post at least one new entry… is that worth $1?

So I figured I’d start by explaining the new name of this little place “Romans 12 us” – as you can imagine it comes from the book of Romans, chapter 12, in the Bible. I came across this idea because I was trying to think of something which would describe my values for this place, but not setup any expectations or box me in. I started with ideas like “”, “” and “” – but they were all taken domain names.

I also have a strong idea that at the core, true, center of altruism is Christianity. Which is defined as:

Disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.
“some may choose to work with vulnerable elderly people out of altruism”
synonyms: unselfishness, selflessness, self-sacrifice, self-denial.

Sounds a bit like Christ, yes? However to become altruistic we need to understand the idea of “renewing the mind” and “becoming a new creature”. I decided to read all of Romans 12 again; the entire chapter speaks to every issue in life, the church, and the world. I was floored, re-inspired, and excited to rediscover the gold of knowledge that is in Romans 12, especially in light of today’s political, societal, and overall pessimism towards the world, both in and out of the Church. Go ahead and read it, this post isn’t going anywhere.

See what I mean? Every nugget in Romans 12 is a building block towards Christian altruism, from there we can focus on making disciples with these traits and characteristics as the aim.

Part two to come… how this is impossible except as an outflow of the faith we have in Jesus.


[Update: 9/27/16 A part two never came, and I changed the site domain and name back to “no small talk” – I look back at this name change as an ill-thought idea, back to our regularly scheduled programming]

The dirty church

Poland January 2010 032.JPG

When people say “church” there are so many things that many people say/think, and it seems these things are mostly negative. This can be an extremely volatile subject, with many people feeling judged, unwelcome, and rightfully pissed off by actions of people in the church. The humanity behind the “church” is a big huge mess, it’s at times so sickening I don’t know how the Church has even survived this long, but then I realize, that’s just it, it didn’t “survive” it’s been supported the whole time, supported by our God. The Church is His design and it remains and continues to serve its function even in an apparently disgusting state.

This isn’t a post about “why you should go to church”, it’s a post about looking at the church differently, not for the failures that humanity has done but for the love that God has for it.  Yes, it is true that there are many distortions, many things that are not “right”, and these things make trusting the Church almost impossible.  So, here’s my challenge, DON’T TRUST THE CHURCH, trust God, trust he is in control. Trust that God, who is working in you, is also working in the Church he created and supports more than 2,000 years later.

Will you feel judged? Probably.

Will terrible things (divorce, secrets, hurt) happen? Yes, the Church is made of humans.

Will you be annoyed, angry, and want to walk out? Probably, at times, and maybe for whole seasons at a time.

Will you seek out true and authentic relationships with others? – That’s your choice.

Will these authentic relationships hurt at times? Most likely.

Will these authentic relationships bring joy? Yes.

Will you see Jesus in these people? Yes and you’ll see humanity’s state, fallen.

This is iron sharpening iron.

This is unconditional love.

This is fellowship.

This is humanity.

This is community.

This is discipleship.

This is His Church, where we grow in character through God’s love, grace, and mercy through OTHERS.

This is the dirty Church.

Don’t let others walk over you, but remember to give grace, walk the high road (humility), and give people an honest, patient, chance to be loved and receive love. Remember… we’ll be together forever, live like it now!  Most of all PEOPLE don’t have power, only God does, allow Him to speak, and if someone says something that offends you, just remember, we are above those offensive words and those words hold no power.

And one final thing… The Church is not your pastor, the administrators, the volunteers, the ministry teams, the prayer team, the sermons, the small groups, the walls, the chairs, the music, or anything else we tend to see/do/be in church, the Church is us, we make the Church and God is the head… and last I checked, he still loves the Church.  So don’t give up on it, live it, breathe it, and be with God through it.



Emma will be four on April 9th and it is incredibly hard to imagine life without her, so cliche, but it really just wouldn’t be the same. She’s a super happy, well behaved, very loving, and amazing girl. She entertains herself and also plays with other kids very well, she enjoys both adults and kids her age and is a social butterfly.

I’m bias but I think she’s “perfect” in all the ways we pre-conceive for children… sure she has her moments, she argues, she whines, she does all the things kids do, but in the end she is my princess. When I think about her I rarely think negative thoughts, except maybe when I’ve just sad down on a peed on couch… and even then love is not in question.

I’ve learned so much about life, God, and humanity through this little four year old, her silliness, bed-time stalls, and temper tantrums all included. We love going on walks together, smelling the flowers, the trees (like above), and she loves just watching ducks swim around in a pond and being peaceful. Yet, then when’s with her friends she’s bouncing off the walls, running around, and having a blast, we love that she can adjust to her surrounds so well. She’s certainly thought this daddy many things about how God must feel and see us, and since we’re created in his image, it can only be that much greater!

Why I never dated

Alexis and I.jpg

There’s really only three reasons why I never dated, and when I finally decided to enter into a relationship with Alexis, I decided to “court” her instead.  The first reason was all about being intentional, I had intentions, if I was going to “date” it was going to be with the intent to see if marriage was the real deal for us. Second, I wanted to make sure we had shared our callings, that they were compatible, and about serving the Kingdom. Lastly, to ensure there was honor and respect in our relationship, that it wasn’t just about “having” the girl, or “being” the man – that I was honestly seeking to honor her in my actions, and her actions honored me – and through we gave respect to one another.

Intentionality is a word that I put a lot of focus on, I always desire that my actions have a real intention to them, that’s it’s not just “going through the motions” and so I decided I didn’t want to date – dating was like “trying” on clothes and didn’t really seem fair to anyone – humanity has enough problems, I don’t need to be nonchalant in my relationships, and certainly not someone I may end up marrying! So I was intentional, I wouldn’t date, instead I would court – seek to understand a person at their deepest parts (of course I had zero idea how to do this, and in my young pride thought I was so great)… that didn’t really happen well – but I tried, the heart counts!

Another thing I tried very seriously to understand was Alexis’ calling, what she felt God leading her to do, what she thought she was gifted in, etc. Again, something I was far to idealistic about, I probably put more pressure on her than was necessarily good, but in the end I certainly made a point that I was serious about what God was telling me! It was during our courtship that I heard the Lord tell me I would be a pastor – almost nine years later I’m not quite a pastor by “title” but I know it’s where I’m headed. As for her, she’s got an amazing heart for the world, for people, and for serving the Kingdom and seeing people awaken to the Kingdom life.

Then comes what I consider the most important piece giving honor and respect to the relationship, not just to the person you’re courting, but the relationship itself, don’t go fast, explore, learn, grow. I know, it’s wishy washy, and you might be burning with “lust”. Don’t awaken love before its time (Song of Solomon 8:4) let it mature, let others give you advice and wisdom, be transparent from the beginning, and when love finally arrives you’ll know it, more than ever. Every couple will look different, but I’ve never seen a couple who gave respect and honor to the relationship by allowing God to teach and the Church to cultivate (a healthy circle of Kingdom friends/mentors) blow up into a statistic – they’ve either maturely went their ways or entered into a marriage built on a foundation of trust, respect, and honor – which is hard to break apart, even when someone makes big mistakes.

Urban co-housing, we could do this!

< Daybreak Cohousing in Portland - Common areas aren't used a couple times a year, they are focal points for community interaction - click to enlarge; photo by Grace Kim >
< Daybreak Cohousing in Prtland - Common areas aren't used a couple times a year, they are focal points for community interaction - click to visit original article on citytank; photo by Grace Kim >

Urban shared living communities are a very fascinating idea to me; the modern “commune” (now being referred to as “co-housing”)is far from our typical hippy era picture we usually hear about. Today’s living communities focus on the idea supporting one another, and doing the most with the least, rather than being “lead” by a single person, these new communities focus on group decision making and putting the good and needs of the group ahead of the wants of the individual, while still respecting the individual dignity and privacy. I came across a fascinating article about some communities here in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere (I strongly recommend reading the article).  I also know of some friends from our Seattle days who live in a small Christian shared living home with two other families.  When Alexis and I were interns, we had our own mini version of this, with a men’s house and a women’s house across the street from each other, we shared meals together, and did chores together – being mostly young, raised middle-class, and suburban dwelling people – it was rather dramatic, yet we bonded in ways only possible from co-housing.

These communities are not “hostel” style, each family has their own living space with bedrooms, bathrooms, living room, and possibly a kitchen as well, and circumstances differ from community to community. Most communities make a point to share a meal or two each week, split up the community maintenance, and help one another out. What I found the most intriguing is that 40% of people living in these kinds of communities said they regularly gave financial support to their neighbors when in need far more than when they lived in our traditional self-contained fashion. Of course living in close proximity with others has its ups and downs; however I believe the benefits far outweigh the shortcomings.

These new communities are not removed from society, rather they are integrated into the fabric of the urban life, in the midst of our dense city neighborhoods where people can easily get to work, grocery shop, and interact with humanity. This sounds a lot like “the good old days” where people valued other people, and more than that, it sounds quite close to something we can read in Acts 2:42-47. This is an idea I can get behind, intentionally living together, sharing resources, taking care of one another, and letting iron sharpen iron.

Maybe someday we’ll be able to buy an apartment building and turn it into one of these living communities, and not just open to other Christians, but rather a mix, and have it be an opportunity to be a light house to others and our community. The idea is huge, but I’m ok with those now, since our call to Poland will no doubt reflect many of these values, maybe we’ll start something in Kraków along these lines?  I know plenty of young adults and families who would probably jump into an idea like this fairly easily – a built in support network, yes, make it so.

What heck is sin?


A while back I ran across an article on regarding some protesters who were demonstrating against Mars Hill Church’s latest Church plant in southeast Portland.  These kinds of demonstrations (from both sides of the fence, read: Westboro Baptist Church and similar groups) seem to only further the divide, certainly these demonstrations don’t encourage a sensible discussion for each side to understand and see the other’s viewpoint (not necessarily agree, but at least get the full picture) and allow for real relationship. It seems most of the time we see “Christians” doing this kind of activity, but it goes to show that every group out there has their extremists.

The world has a hard time understanding how we can call something “sin”, such as homosexuality, because of the long list of connotations “sin” has as a word; and it has become nearly impossible to use the word and not provoke some kind of negative reaction. My definition of sin is simply this: The act of not obeying the Lord either in character as He has asked us through Biblical means, or by direct personal request. It’s also important to note that the Lord sees all sin exactly the same, each one is only one step away, and all He wants is for us to be right near Him – not one step away.

This is why it’s possible for me to see something as “sin” and not have it affect the love, basic human respect, and desire to enter into meaningful friendship with anyone who is willing. We (members of the Church) have to understand and accept the fact that people “outside” can’t possibly understand, and this is why the Good News/Gospel needs to be delivered (evangelism: to deliver the Good News), only the Lord can convict someone of their sin and cause true repentance (change). Our “job” is to live, breathe, speak the Good News as best we can; including recognizing and admitting when we turn away (sin) from God, so we can adjust and move closer to God again, not only as a witness for others, but out of a true relationship with God – as we would for our significant others and friends.

Probably the most important piece to understand is that the process of conviction, forgiveness, and restoration is not dependent on the people in Church telling those outside they are “sinners” – it’s dependent on each individual to accept what they hear from the Lord and be convicted of their position with God (being purposely away by their own choices), ask for forgiveness, and then seeking restoration with Him.

Where we people in the Church tend to mess things up, and it’s a horrible mistake, is taking what’s OK in the Church (holding our brothers and sisters accountable – in a graceful/concerning way, which is another blog post) and applying it to everyone outside of the Church as well.  Nearly every scripture about confronting another person is about brother/sister to brother/sister (meaning another member of the Church) not much is said about confronting people outside the Church, except spreading and proclaiming the Good News (the news of Jesus as our Lord, and free grace to all, change your ways and live a full, never-ending life).

There’s a whole lot more I could attempt to write, but this entry would end up being 20+ pages in size 10 text… let’s just say insert a lot of stuff about Love, changing our ways (repentance), and the reality of human nature (sin), and the big picture that gets painted is that God is far more than the box we put Him in.



I respect people, and I respect what people do, their choices, what they’ve accomplished, and what they’ve “earned” – all great.  However, that doesn’t, in my opinion, belong in the Church.  It’s fine outside, where it is useful to know the title of a person because it describes and defines what that person is responsible for.

But in the Kingdom, also known as the Church, I have a hard time with titles. Mostly because, unlike outside the Church, people attach so much “esteem” and “authority” to the people with titles. Most of these ideas behind the “titles” are completely void of biblical character, it’s simply a mimic of the rest of the world around us.  Even using “earned” titles in the Church, is a bit bothersome to me – like “Dr. Bob” – while, yes, you may be a doctor – does that title really mean anything, does it mean I should listen more? Should I take your words more seriously over my brother’s? Shouldn’t I test the doctor’s words w/ the spirit’s?  – YES.

Yes, the Bible describes certain roles, and we absolutely should understand as individuals what role we play in the Church – these are the gifts to the Church Paul describes in Ephesians (the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers). Each of these roles are servant roles, not positions to obtain and gain authority, but positions which are prescribed by God and confirmed through relationship. We’ve been so trained to be sheep and remain “just” sheep, rather than be sheep with a purpose and personal ministry.

Our culture puts far too much weight (in responsibility, in authority, and praise) on titles in and out of the Church. However, in the Church we should all be servants, regardless of title, if we can’t serve one another, how will we serve the world? Thankfully many churches have began to realize this, and have downgraded the old school titles into appropriate helping verbs or descriptions… and instead of introducing the pastor as “Hello my name is Pastor Joe” we’re hearing “Hi, my name is Joe, one of your lead pastors”.

Just like the rest of us, our titles are not who we are – we are children of God, not Pastors, Prophets, Teachers… we are all children – who have special callings.

Sustainable Christianity

Created to sustain?

Genesis 1:26-31 [NLT] Then God said, “Let us make human beingst in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” 28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” 29 Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. 30 And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened. 31 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.

If the above passage isn’t one of the most “green” passages of the Bible, then I don’t know what is. I’m tired of American, suburban, “mainstream”, evangelical, “conservative”, “Christianity”. I love the Church, but I don’t love the stereo-type “Christianity” that is so prevalent in America, and unfortunately has a loud (and humiliating) voice. As a Christian I see nothing in scripture (nor do I ever hear from God) about politics, lifestyles, or a myriad of other “campaigns” our American evangelical “christian” circles tend to stand (quite strongly) behind.

The translation I used in the passage above uses the word “govern”, other translations say “subdue”, “rule”, “have dominion”, “be it’s master” – etc. It doesn’t say “strip it”, “rape it”, “be greedy and multiply”, “destroy and conquer”, or any other number of things that some of my brothers and sisters would never admit to, but support through their campaigns and political nonsense.

Now, I could continue on and be very critical, and beat up on my fellow believers… many of whom are my friends as well. But instead, I want to point out that I believe (and am convicted and urged by the Holy Spirit) to do my best in sustaining what resources we have (both natural, and human). We, as a Church, should support (and am convinced we are obligated) fair and green trade initiatives where possible and sustainable. The Church should be in support of moving our people around (read: public transit) efficiently, sharing resources where possible (Acts 4:32-37), and realize that we were created to sustain the planet, not abuse it.

There’s a lot of talk about this subject, for now though, I will do what I can.. because ONE (or three) does matter and make a difference. We are working our way to living in a place where we can live as we were created, and govern our lives in a way according to how we were created. Living near our friends, our church, our work; shopping near by from local/fair sources; using renewable sources to power our lives; reusing/recycling what we have; and reducing our footprint in more than just carbon emissions.