Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Leaving NA

I'm about to catch the shuttle to the airport. I can't believe the conference is already over. In upcoming weeks and months, I will be writing articles and blogs based on my interviews. In the meantime, read all about the sessions on the New Attitude liveblog. The messages will also be available for download.

Monday, May 29, 2006



I left worship tonight marveling at the bigness of God. Eric Simmons gave a stirring talk on evangelism. "Start the conversation," he challenged. "Sow intentionally in your community."

This weekend the gospel has been brought to the forefront of my heart and mind. It's amazing how rejuvinating that is to my faith. The gospel is so much bigger than the day-to-day stuff. When we live in light of it, we cannot help but be radically different from the world.

On the way back from dinner tonight, a homeless man asked us for money. I didn't have cash and used that as an excuse, as I often do. My friend pulled out a five and asked the man for his story. Finding work has been difficult, he said. He has a family.

"What's your name?" my friend asked.


"May I pray for you, Pete?"


She prayed for God's provision in Pete's life and that Pete would be drawn to God's heart.

Why didn't I think of that?

Evidence of a changed life. Acting against one's fallen or even logical impulses. My friend admitted she doesn't react that way every time. But living in God's grace changes your perspective. For God does not punish us as our sins deserve. How often I forget. Remembering — and extending that mercy to others — is an act of worship.

The People

The past few days at New Attitude have been a whirlwind of interviews, messages and walking miles for a meal. Yesterday I met Ezra. We stood in line together for 45 minutes at Subway. You really get to know someone when you stand in line with them for 45 minutes. Ezra is a college sophomore (for my Clubhouse Jr. staff: he carried the Clubhouse Bible. Yes, I feel old.) Ezra lives in New Jersey and has big plans to pursue International business. He has a heart for other cultures and a love for New York style pizza. Ezra put his sales enthusiasm to use and helped me pass out free music download coupons from Boundless. Also in line was Connie, a teacher. She was the first woman I met near my age. Connie introduced me to Ricky, who works at Covenant Life church and wrote the copy for the New Attitude literature and Web site. Ricky is a journalism student. A conference like this gives everyone common ground. It's exciting because as we share the things we have in common, our passion grows.

The people I have interviewed so far have passion. Eric Simmons has a passion for singles and evangelism. Carolyn McCulley has a passion for hospitality and community (and good perfume). Justin Taylor has a passion for blogging and truth. Bob Kauflin has a passion for worship — not just music but living a life of worship. Mark Dever has a passion for the church. I have gleaned enough insight and wisdom to keep me pondering for months. Each person has offered something new and yet there is a common thread that runs through every conversation — the gospel. I am seeing now more than ever how the gospel is that connecting feature. The fact that each believer has experienced Christ as their substitutionary sacrifice is enough to bond us together in gratefulness and love. Dividing differences among Christians do not arise from the spirit of the gospel. They arise from arrogance. Humility is the key to presenting truth effectively. A passage I have been meditating on recently speaks to this:

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!—Philippians 2:1-8

That kind of says it all. Humility is a priority for each person I've interviewed, and that humility is evidenced in their lives and ministries. Jesus Himself was not arrogant (though he had cause to be!). Who are we then to not also humble ourselves in light of the unfathomable grace we have received?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Humble Orthodoxy

Orthodoxy: the practice of observing established social customs and definitions of appropriateness.

Saturated. That is how I would describe my state of mind having passed through my first 24 hours of New Attitude. I have to admit, I didn't know what I was getting into. The surprises have been both good and challenging. I am an oddity here. I do not attend a Sovereign Grace church, and I am over age 25. I have always loved 1 Timothy 4:12, where Paul encourages the young man to not let people look down on him because he is young. The 2,500 attendees of New Attitude embody a bold answer to that call. There is an urgency here — in everything from worship to witnessing on the plane to conversations with friends — that is so often missing in young people.

Last night, Joshua Harris talked about rediscovering a "humble orthodoxy." He charged us to be a generation that faithfully handles the truth as Paul encourages in 2 Timothy 2:15: "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth." Instead of viewing the gospel as play dough that we can shape into something new and innovative, Josh encouraged us to view the gospel as a diamond. How can we best hold up God's truth, untarnished, for all to see?

The first step is to live the truth personally. Paul compares believers to vessels in a house (v. 20). Some vessels are set aside for honorable use and some for dishonorable use. The dishonorable vessels are followers of Jesus who continue to dwell in sin. Paul says, "flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace." (v. 22) Though we often think of lust in a sexual context, Josh pointed out that in this context Paul seems to be encouraging Timothy to put aside the arrogant and impulsive attitude of youth.

This was convicting. Our generation is proud. We act as if we have it figured out. We forge ahead without counsel. We bristle at accountability. We reject authority. And yet these are the very things that God uses to cultivate greater righteousness and faith in our lives. Part of faithfully handling the truth, Josh said, is representing the truth with humility. We have not earned the gospel, so we have no reason to be arrogant about it. "We need to be humbled by the truth," he said, "and, in turn, share that truth in humility. Rediscover what has always been true. Embrace a humble orthodoxy."

Friday, May 26, 2006

Venting OK?

I received an e-mail from Jason concerning my article "Venting and Losing." I wanted to call attention to his feedback here. From the e-mail:

I agree with all of your supporting arguments, but they still left me wondering about your central thesis. I try to stand out by refraining from complaining [in public settings]. That was why I felt like venting to friends; being able to admit aloud that I felt overwhelmed and unfairly attacked. Our conversation centered around doing things with the same attitude that I serve God, laying my overwhelming burdens at God's feet and trusting him to help me through, and being grateful and content.

Your article listed lots of helpful attitude checks for people in a complaining mood. Couldn't venting be an opportunity to ask your friends to remind you of those same things? If I just wanted to criticize and wallow in negativity, I would have joined in the daily rant. Instead I turned to Christians that I respect because I wanted some help to have a positive outlook on the situation. It seems like your article could have encouraged venting in a Godly manner instead of condemning it altogether. What do you think?

I think Jason makes a good point and points out a possible aspect of "venting" that I may have overlooked. What do you think? Is venting sometimes OK?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Preparing for New Attitude

The New Attitude conference, in Louisville, Kentucky, is only days away. While I am feverishly working to complete my Clubhouse deadlines, my excitement for the conference is growing. I just received an update e-mail that said 2,200 people will be attending! I’m looking forward to catching up with old friends and making new ones.

I attended many of Joshua Harris’ seminars when I was a home school student in Washington State. I also interviewed him while I was a student at Multnomah Bible College (If you’re in the mood for a hearty read, check out the article I wrote about Josh for The Voice.) I will interview Josh again at NA — this time regarding the church.

During the past few months, I’ve spent some time enjoying Carolyn McCulley’s blog, which is absolutely brimming with grace, wisdom and wit. I can’t put into words how excited I am to meet Carolyn. I hear we will be spending some time at Starbucks.

I will also chat with Mark Dever, Justin Taylor and Bob Kauflin. Each holds a unique perspective on the church.

I feel privileged to have the opportunity to glean wisdom from each of these thoughtful, godly individuals. I will also be attending the general sessions and some breakouts, as well as helping man (or woman) the Boundless booth.

I will be blogging while at the conference, so check back May 27-31 for the inside scoop on what's happening at NA. You can also visit the official New Attitude Web site for pictures and blogs.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Legacy Starts Now

This week, I received three chillingly similar prayer requests from three different friends. Each person had lost a friend this week to a tragic — and seemingly random — accident. The three individuals who died were all younger than me.

Such a shocking reminder of human mortality causes me to take stock of my own life. If I died today, would I have made a difference in the world? More importantly, would I have taken every opportunity to bring recognition to God?

John Thomas’ article “The Saint,” was especially timely. He recalls the tragic, sudden death of a friend and mentor. Thomas makes this observation:
Steve was in his mid-50's when God called him home. That's a little over a decade away from me right now, and today as I stood there along the riverbank, a word leapt into my heart: Legacy. I wondered, what will be my legacy? A great question to ask, and one for which we expect to have a decent answer when we're old and gray. But given that we never know when all that will be left of us is a legacy, now — right now — is a good time to think about it. Because it isn't whether I'll leave a legacy — I undoubtedly will — it is what will the legacy be?
This resonated with me. Too often, I live in the assumption that I have 50 years left, when in actuality I am not guaranteed my next breath. And yet those I know who have died young have left, and continue to leave, an undeniable legacy in the lives of others.

May I live every day as if it’s my last — my eyes fixed on eternity — asking, “What would my Lord have me accomplish today?”

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Decision Making and God's Will

I appreciated last week’s article “Decisions Decisions, Part 1” by Thomas Jeffries. Jeffries’ insight on the role of prayer and submission in the process of making decisions was refreshing.

The article reminded me of a book called Decision Making and the Will of God by Garry Friesen. The book was first published in 1980 and recently revised. At first printing, Friesen’s premise was extremely controversial. He posited that God does not necessarily have one specific plan for the believer but allows for various options (based on human decision) within His stated moral will. Friesen challenged the traditional view that for each of our decisions, God has an ideal plan that He will make known to the attentive believer. Instead Friesen advocated the “way of wisdom” summarized in these four statements:

  1. Where God commands, we must obey.
  2. Where there is no command, God gives us freedom (and responsibility) to choose.
  3. Where there is no command, God gives us wisdom to choose.
  4. Where we have chosen what is moral and wise, we must trust sovereign God to work all the details together for good.

Friesen seems to recognize that the concept of God having one perfect will regarding choices such as which college to attend, what career to choose and who to marry, tends to paralyze believers, reducing them to passive, powerless bystanders. Jeffries expresses a similar sensibility in his conclusion:

For now, I can only say that worrying about the future only makes things worse (Matthew 6:25-27, Luke 12:22-25). Sure, it's a lot easier to quote Scripture than put it into practice, but as I've learned to trust in the Lord, He has indeed been a lamp to my feet (Psalm 119:105) and has made my paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6). He proved faithful more than a decade ago, and I've endeavored ever since to never doubt Him again.

I think Jeffries’ article demonstrates that Friesen’s “shocking” view on decision making and God’s will is becoming mainstream for a generation more comfortable with relativism. We see God as offering us more choices, while protecting us from disastrous ones through biblical boundaries. While the concept of relativism has a bad reputation, Friesen’s view does not compromise God’s moral standards. As Friesen states: “Where God commands, we must obey.” The “way of wisdom,” in fact, frees the believer to walk down the paths God provides.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Venting and Losing

This week Boundless published my article "Venting and Losing." I have never considered myself much of a complainer, but as I delved into Scripture dealing with the subject, I was convicted. The Bible challenged me to pursue a new level of contentment, modeled by Christ when He willingly (and without complaint) went to the cross.

The same chapter that tells us to do everything without complaining and arguing also says:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross! —Philippians 2:3-8

Isn't it true that venting is often motivated by pride? I feel I am owed something. What a backwards way of thinking. I, in fact, owe Him everything.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Boundless Discussion

Welcome to Boundless Whimsy! This is a personal blog. It is not an official Boundless blog, nor is it associated with Focus on the Family. As a regular reader and contributor, I wanted to establish a place to discuss all things Boundless. So pull up a chair and let the fun begin!