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Transcend and Include

Filed under: church,God's movement — 12:58 pm

These two words are trying to change my life…if only I would let them.

I’m learning that true growth doesn’t happen by rejecting where we were…but by including it into the next season.  Or said another way, “step four” is not a rejection of steps 1-3, but the inclusion of all four steps.  In fact, you never would have arrived at step four without the gifts of step one, two, and three.

It seems that we face two great temptations:  First, to simply believe everything we were taught and never move beyond it.  Or second, to realize that we were only taught part of the story, and then completely reject that part of the story in favor of something brand new.  But both miss out on the great reality and opportunity of Life.

And so the simple (but incredibly difficult) solution is, in the brilliant Ken Wilber‘s words, to transcend and include.  We can’t stay where we’ve been, but we must honor and embrace the journey that has led and will lead us into a new future.

Let’s get really practical:  Math.  My 7 year old son Henry is currently learning addition and subtraction.  To his mind, these are the only ways to engage numbers.  But soon he will discover multiplication/division and be presented with three options:  (1) Head in the sand:  Ignore the new and be content with the math of his youth.  (2) Reject the old:  Feeling lied to by his addition/subtraction teachers, he could vow to never add again in the name of the revolutionary new multiplication table.  (3) Transcend and Include:  Bring his addition/subtraction skills into a more powerful way of engaging numbers: multiplication.



Or let’s get a little deeper:  Religion.  If we’re honest, it can be very easy to critique the tradition we most recently came out of.  We can find grace for other traditions and religions, but have nothing good to say about our last church.  We left that for good reason…right?!?  But what if the church of your childhood (or the community you just left) is the tradition you needed to bring you to the point where you know you need more?  In that way it has been an incredible gift that will stay with you forever.

My friend Jeff has been doing some of that work.  He recently shared a beautiful reflection on some of the best parts of the Christian tradition he grew up in but has since left:  The Plymouth Brethren.  (Side note:  I grew up in the Plymouth Brethren tradition as well, so this post was especially moving to me.)

These days I’m working really hard to transcend and include in as many ways as possible: faith journey, politics, family patterns, etc. But it’s not easy for me.  My kneejerk is “transcend and reject,” which isn’t transcending at all–just rearranging the chairs.

What about you?

It there anything you’ve been rejecting that might need to be re-embraced into your new, bigger story?

How hard would it be for you to make a list of the best parts of your old church?  Or the biggest strengths of the political party you no longer align yourself with?  Or the best characteristic of a friend you don’t hang with much any more?

May we be people who people who transcend and include.


Why is Discipleship SO important?

Filed under: church,Discipleship,God's movement — 12:55 pm

These are powerful and prophetic words about discipleship and the role of the church in the world.  I think the world of Dave and find this perspective both challenging and inspiring…



Double your money in the name of Peace

Filed under: God's movement,Palestine / Israel — 4:58 pm

If you’re looking for a way to make the most impact with your giving this December, The Telos Group has received a matching grant of $50,000.  Every dollar you give to Telos in 2013 will be matched.  Let me tell you why this is so important…

The Telos Group is at the leading edge of building a Pro-Israel, Pro-Palestine, Pro-American, Pro-Peace movement in America and around the world.  They are intelligently, courageously, and graciously convening a new kind of conversation about peace in the Middle East, and in my opinion, this has the potential to change the world.  And they need our support.

Would you consider giving toward this movement?

I’ve been on three different Telos tours, two Telos conferences, and have become friends with the founders. These guys are the real deal, and if you’d like someone to vouch for them, please send me an email.  I’d love to answer any questions you have.

Let us not just pray about peace and hope for peace, but actually roll up our sleeves and help make it possible.  Join us!

A few of us praying at the Wailing Wall

A few of us praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem



Peacemaking often Begins as Troublemaking.

Filed under: God's movement,leadership — 4:07 pm


Yesterday, after sharing Lynne’s powerful words about peacemaking in the Middle East, I stumbled upon my friend Austin Channing Brown‘s killer post called “Making Peace”.  So if you’d be so kind to allow me back-to-back peacemaking posts, check out Austin’s gloriously subversive perspective.  She’s pushing us beyond the idea that peacemakers are “hippies that just want everyone to get along”…and into the boldly prophetic picture the scriptures paint of the Prince of Peace.  Here’s where she really gets rolling…

“If we really look at the lives of the people we have dubbed peacemakers, it would be glaringly obvious that peacemakers are seeking something far more profound than a lack of conflict. We are calling people to pursue justice and equity no matter the cost. We are calling people to rebel, to protest, to organize. We are calling people to a life of speaking truth to power, a life of prophetic speech, a life that may stand in direct opposition to the status quo your church, your neighborhood, your community is trying to maintain. I’ll be your peacemaker, but remember that means I have to tear some stuff down first and it won’t look or feel very peaceful.

The life of our Prince of Peace showed us a new way…”

Preach it!  The whole post is HERE.  Austin is obviously navigating a tension here, but I think it’s helpful to honestly dig into the depth and grit and reality of what it might look like to follow Jesus into the work of helping peace flourish on this earth.



If you really want to be a peacemaker…

Filed under: Palestine / Israel — 2:13 pm
Lynne Hybels


…then please read these masterful words about working for peace in Israel and Palestine.

On December 5th, Lynne Hybels presented this paper to a gathering of Palestinian Christians, Israeli Messianic Jews, and American Christians and Messianic Jews, and I think it’s incredibly powerful.

She has been getting attacked a lot these days (called “a threat to the state of Israel”, an “anti-Semite”, “a spokesperson for the PLO”, etc), and she responds with intelligence, grace, courage, and soul. I love this:

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Six Things I Believe

In 2010 I spoke at the first Christ at the Checkpoint Conference in Bethlehem.  I gave a talk called “It’s All About Jesus: A Personal Journey.”  I chose that title because my engagement in the Holy Land was a very personal attempt to follow in the way of Jesus.  I had been spending considerable time in the region and was brokenhearted by the suffering that resulted from ongoing and often violent conflict.  I believed that what Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs, needed most was to see Jesus incarnated in his followers in the Holy Land.  I came to Christ at the Checkpoint with the desire to encourage and lift up the Christians in the land.  To stand in solidarity with them.I had learned by that time that this issue could be theologically controversial.  I was still caught off guard, after my talk, when a Messianic Jewish theologian from Israel told me he believed I had totally violated scripture by talking about the plight of the Palestinians. He reminded me that God had given the land to the Jews, and if the Palestinians were suffering it was because God’s will regarding the land was being violated. If I thought the treatment they were receiving was unjust it was because I didn’t understand God’s purposes in the world.

It was a very awkward and disturbing conversation.

Now, fast-forward two years…

You can read the entire paper here.  Highly recommended.


Stu G at Willow

Filed under: church,God's movement,music — 10:57 am

Last weekend, we had the joy of getting to lead worship with Stu G at Willow.  Stu is the guitar player who largely created the modern worship band sound with Delirious?, but way more importantly, he is the real deal. After spending a week in the Middle East with him this June, I found him to be one of the most thoughtful, humble, gentle, funny, deep people around.  And so he came to share not just his music, but a few stories of what he’s learning about life and God.  It was a great weekend.  Here’s a clip of his introduction and performance of his haunting new song “King of the Stars”…

I’m sharing this for two main reasons…

First, if you haven’t heard Stu’s new EP – “Of Burdens, Birds, and Stars” – definitely check it out today.  The songs are honest and raw and musical and really fresh.  I bet I’ve listened to “King of the Stars” 100 times so far.  So good!

Second, if you are involved in planning the worship for your church or conference, invite Stu to join you.  But don’t just bring him in as a guitar rock star…bring him in as a pastor.  Ask him to share what God is doing inside him, his thoughts about the Beattitudes, what God can do in a human heart through disappointment, and anything else.

And then let him blow the roof off with his guitar.


Something deeper

Filed under: A New Liturgy,church,God's movement — 8:35 pm

I just read a great article about the many young evangelicals that are becoming Roman Catholic, high Anglican or Lutheran.  The contemporary evangelical tradition has taken them as far as it can, and they are yearning for something deeper and more grounded.  To be honest, myself and many of my friends feel this too, so the article connected deeply.  But this paragraph stopped me in my tracks…

Andrea Palpant Dilley explains her own shift from Presbyterianism to apostacy to generic evangelicalism to high church: “In my 20s, liturgy seemed rote, but now in my 30s, it reminds me that I’m part of an institution much larger and older than myself. As the poet Czeslaw Milosz said,

‘The sacred exists and is stronger than all our rebellions.’

Both my doubt and my faith, and even my ongoing frustrations with the church itself,
are part of a tradition that started before I was born and will continue after I die.
I rest in the assurance that I have something to lean against, something to resist and,
more importantly, something that resists me.”

There are no words to describe how deeply this moves me.  Or how badly I need this.




Filed under: God's movement,leadership — 7:00 am


About a year ago, I had the opportunity to visit South Africa for the first time. When not working (partnering with fantastic musicians around Johannesburg), our group got to visit Soweto. We attended a church, toured Nelson Mandela’s childhood home, and then spent a few heart-wrenching hours in the Apartheid museum. Deeply moved, quite messed up, and painfully aware of my ignorance to what had happened, I immediately bought Mandela’s book “Long Walk to Freedom” and dove into it. I can’t begin to tell you how moving and upsetting and inspiring it was and continues to be.

On the day of Mandela’s funeral, there are so many things to say. But Friday, President Obama articulated something that has been burning in my heart ever since…

“The day that he (Mandela) was released from prison gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they’re guided by their hopes and not by their fears…

O God, may that be true of me.  And every one of us.  May we all let our fears take a back seat while our hopes launch us into a more beautiful future.


the heartache and exhilaration of creating stuff…

Filed under: creativity,music — 1:44 pm

Anyone who has every tried to create something knows the excitement, terror, difficulty, and thrill of the process…especially when going out on a limb and trying something new.

I LOVE this video.

Trent Reznor could easily be on cruise control – just rehashing his greatest hits and cashing in.  But instead, he’s trying to dream it all up again.  And this amazing behind-the-scenes video gives a glimpse into the chaos…


You Can Have it All…

Filed under: A New Liturgy — 5:00 am
available today

available today


Today we are launching the inventively named “COMPLETE COLLECTION”, which is
everything that A New Liturgy has created so far.  Including…

  • Liturgies 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5 (both physical CDs and downloads)
  • the brand new Remix EP (vol 3)
  • Creation (Live on a Sunday) album
  • Remix EP 1-2
  • the Blessed (Live at Axis) video
  • the Making of No 3 video
  • all the chord charts

You can find this, and each individual liturgy, at the new New Liturgy Store.

So may this Collection overwhelm you with helpful ways to create holy space wherever you find yourself.



Holy music for this season

Filed under: God's movement,music,worship — 11:42 am

If your December is as crazy as mine usually is, then we both need some help to create holy space along the way.  A few of my friends have been creating incredible Advent/Christmas/worship music these days, and here are four highlights…



(1) The Advent Project.  Last year, all the worship leaders from around Willow Creek (S Barrington) came together to create a four part Advent liturgy. Each recording is meant to lead you on a 20 minute journey of music, prayer, scripture, and preparation for Christmas.  And the best part is that it is FREE! Download all four at and read the story behind The Advent Project.

(2) The Brilliance:  Advent (part 1, 2, and B-sides).  Of all the spiritual music being created today, The Brilliance is my favorite.  The beauty and depth of their albums move me deeply and will probably be the primary soundtrack in our home this Advent.  Download from iTunes/theBrilliance or bandcamp/theBrilliance.

(3) Page CXVI: Advent to Christmas.  For a couple years, Page CXVI has been releasing absolutely stunning recordings of old hymns, and their new release is no exception.  Haunting and gorgeous and holy and artistic.  Find it at

(4) Eastlake VII: Heavy Hearts, Heavy Love.  This is not a Christmas or Advent album, but it’s new and amazing and I had to include it!  Their last album – Eastlake VI – was one of my favorite modern rock worship albums of the year, and this new one is equally great.  The raw honesty in their lyrics is rare and inspiring. Check it out at bandcamp/EastlakeCC.


Is there anything I missed?  What albums help you create holy space in this season?


What I Would Say to the World…

Filed under: God's movement — 12:26 pm


This week I had the opportunity to shoot an interview for my friend Darren Wilson’s upcoming film.  He and his fantastic team at Wanderlust Productions are working on a film about the Spirit’s role in creativity, art, worship, etc…and I was thrilled to get to share a few thoughts.  He ended the interview with a question he always asks:  “Free shot. What is the one thing you would like to say to the world about all this?”

After a short pause, here’s what I shared…

God is here.  God is everywhere.  We can not be far away from God…or lost…or alone.  The Eternal Creator fills every square inch of the Universe and is closer than the air we breathe.  ”For it is in God that we live, move, and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)  Even as you hear this, God completely fills the room you’re sitting in and envelops you in goodness, grace, love, and holy possibility.  All shall be well.
We are not alone.

The missing piece is our awareness.  We need eyes to see what has been true all along.  We need ears to hear what God is whispering, over and over.

In a similar way, at this moment, dozens of radio signals are dancing around us.  But we can’t hear them unless we tune our radio to that signal.  Turning on a radio station doesn’t create music or convince music to come to us;  the music is already as close as it can be.  But we need to learn how to hear it.

So the one thing I would love to share with the world:  The Reality is that we are each deeply loved by a God who is closer than the air we breathe.  And our primary job is to learn how to wake up and align ourselves with this Good Reality.

No wonder they called it “good news”.


There is no such thing as a voiceless person…

Filed under: church,God's movement — 1:18 pm


Hard words that ring true

Filed under: God's movement — 7:47 am

“Today many would say that Christians have become major purveyors of exclusion, guilt, and shame for too many of its own people, and surely for the other religions, instead of absorbing shame, healing guilt, and living in solidarity with human suffering as Jesus did so clearly on the cross. No wonder so many no longer take us seriously. We are so unlike Jesus and the God he loved. Jesus was totally inclusive in his entire public life, and yet we created an exclusionary religion in his name. It makes no sense.”  (Fr Richard Rohr)


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