Tag Archives: jesus

Passover Seder Guide

This Christian Seder Guide is designed to walk you through the whole process of preparing for, hosting and leading a Christian Seder. Feel free to download it to use or just to read. I hope you find it encouraging.

Passover is the oldest Jewish religious festival, commemorating God’s deliverance of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt, described in Exodus 12. The Passover Seder is a ceremonial meal designed to guide people through a communal meditation on God’s work of redemption for His people.

Many Christians have adapted this tradition into an insightful meditation on the New Covenant inaugurated by Jesus at the Last Supper. Unable to find a Christian Seder guide that fit our church’s needs, I cobbled one together myself last year using several sources. Our community group used it and it was a really cool way to enter into the drama of Passion Week in preparation for Easter. So it’s back this year, with a few edits and the addition of discussion questions at the end. I’m looking forward to the experience again this Thursday!

GenerateHope: Open!

A friend from my church started an organization dedicated to helping sexually trafficked women and children escape from forced sex work. Susan hatched this idea almost two years ago, but honestly up until yesterday I had my doubts about whether anything would ever come of it. But yesterday GenerateHope opened the doors to it’s first safe house here in San Diego, and two women moved in. I am utterly amazed and really stoked. Today Susan was interviewed on local public radio station KPBS. Continue reading

Amen… vomit

Good insights on prayer from Brian that got me thinking…

What would God say to me?
How would God actually respond if He was walking beside me, here in my neighborhood, listening to my verbal vomit? How would He reply to my claims, my grievances, my confessions, my version of the story? What would He discern between the lines? What truths would He point out, and which ones would He leave for another time? What questions would He ask me? What council would He offer? What would He say? Continue reading

Thoughts on Music Worship

I think leaders for music worship have two roles that can often be in tension with one another. I’m calling the roles “worship leader” and “lead worshiper”, and I’ve written down some half-baked ideas about them. I’m sure others have already thought this through with much more wisdom and clarity.

My pastor Dick Kaufmann was the first person I heard use the term “lead worshiper”. I like the concept. The “lead worshiper” leads by example, showing people what worship looks like by actually worshiping. It brings to mind images of David going all Soul Train in his loin cloth before the Lord and not giving a rip about what anyone thought—his personal commitment to worshiping God an implicit invitation for others to join in. Continue reading

Secret Salvation

God never makes private, secret salvation deals with people. His relationships with us are personal, true; intimate, yes; but private, no. We are a family in Christ. When we become Christians, we are among brothers and sisters in faith. No Christian is an only child.

-Eugene H. Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

It’s Not Hip to Quote Bono

The thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma. You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions. Which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff. I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep shit. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity. I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness—and there’s mortality as part of your very sinful nature. And, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, so that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humble. It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.


Bad is Bad

God is sovereign and God is good.

Ever since our scare with Mellie and cancer, I have been tripping out on this. The two concepts get along great while everything is sunshine and lollipops. But when life falls apart it is really difficult to believe both of them at the same time. If God is sovereign it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the things that cause our suffering are part of his design. Sickness, war, injustice, loss, misfortune—he is able to stop them, but he doesn’t. How can God be good and still let these bad things happen? How can we be comforted in our suffering?

I don’t like being hit over the head with Romans 8:28, the one about God working all things for our good. Don’t get me wrong, that verse is a great encouragement to me—when I’m clear enough to think it through. But the way it normally gets used sounds like Christianese doublespeak for saying, “Cheer up! Bad is really Good!” It’s just a flat contradiction of what I’m actually experiencing, what I’m actually feeling. Most of the time I don’t find that helpful. But recently I found, and oh how I prefer, 2 Corinthians 1:3-7. The God of all comfort, who comforts us in (not in denial of) our troubles.

The real triumph of good over bad is so much richer than finding out that “bad” really was “good” afterall. The richness is fully illustrated in the paradox of the cross. “There on the cross tis fairest drawn, in precious blood and crimson lines” (thank you, Isaac Watts). The suffering and death of Jesus is the worst thing that ever happened. The suffering and death of Jesus is the best thing that ever happened. These contradictory statements are (I believe) both true. And the mystery that they somehow fit together is a deeper well of comfort for me than any attempt of mine to believe that bad is actually good. Because suffering is real—it aches, it dislocates, it grinds, numbs, destroys, it has real consequences. I am not going to pretend that revulsion, avoidance and mourning are not proper responses to bad things. I see Jesus in Gethsemane, sweating blood, desperate for a way out. But I also see Him on the other side of the tomb, with scars in His hands and side. The wonder is that instead of erasing the suffering of the cross—instead of somehow making it go away—Jesus’ resurrection redeemed His suffering. It was made new. The resurrection has such power that it transformed the foul blotch of Jesus’ shameful death into the brightest jewel of God’s glory and the centerpiece of His plan to rescue the world.

Think about that. The cross was the worst evil ever done. God knew it. But God was able to turn the tables on evil so completely that the worst Bad became the greatest Good. If that is true, what suffering is He unable to redeem? Should I not trust him with my own suffering and the suffering of those I love? Trust Him not to erase it, not to make it go away, but to redeem it.

Bad is bad. It really is. But Good is so good that it transforms the worst things into the best things. That is real cause for hope. That is sweet comfort. God is sovereign and God is good.

Jeremy’s Mosaic


Today we went to the unveiling of Jeremy Wright’s incredible mosaic. The project covers the outside of God’s Extended Hand Mission, wrapping around the entire front of the building at 16th and Island in downtown San Diego. I say it’s Jeremy’s mosaic, but it is actually an amazing community project, created by over 90 people over the past four years, including homeless, students, neighbors and friends. It is truly magnificent to behold, and it was super cool to see it finally completed. Jeremy was on hand chatting it up, taking pictures and telling stories from the last four years of this project. He’s already making plans to expand to the intersection’s other three corners.

I stumbled across the work-in-progress about a year ago and immediately knew Mellie would dig it. We came back together and it turned out that she knew Jeremy’s mom from her north county days! Small world. We were super stoked when Jeremy invited us to join in. We went back a few times to add our little bits to the project and even brought Nate and Sarah along. It’s fun to think that the pieces we contributed will probably last longer than we do.

God’s Extended Hand is the oldest rescue mission in San Diego, and has been providing meals and shelter to homeless folks since 1925. Over the years the building had fallen into serious disrepair. When Jeremy showed up the city was threatening to declare it a blight and give it the wrecking ball. You know you look bad when you’re declared an eyesore in that neighborhood. I love the fact that this beautiful community art project adorns the ugliest building around, and has brought new life and hope to a pretty hopeless place. What a picture of grace.

Check out all the photos here!


No one looks healthy in a hospital. The confident surgeon, the caring nurse, the visiting friend, the coffee cart worker, the smiling child in her mother’s arms—all of them sickly. The proximity of the suffering patients and their grief-stricken families, glimpses of red-rimmed eyes and shattered countenance behind swishing curtains, pacing past knotted clots of coagulated whispers in the hall—the dying diffuses through the air, bending the light in some unflattering way, highlighting an ugly commonality. The same broken lines etched across our faces, the same hinting hue in the soft blue shadows beneath our eyes. We are all residents of the terminal ward.

Standing in the bathroom outside the third floor Post-Op, recognizing these things in my own reflected face, doesn’t prepare me for her pale lips and large dark eyes swimming above the gauze-obscured wound at her throat, iodine-yellow. She is the color of milk. There is a dark red line drawn across white bedsheets, beginning at her neck and ending at a machine crouching in the corner making sucking noises. We are in a crowded room full of clatter and wheeled gurneys and beeping machines and hurrying people. Her eyes unfocus, slip off me to the movement behind. God, her eyes are so dark and so large. The air crowds in, bending the light.

When Jesus Christ walked the earth he healed our diseases. He multiplied our food and we were full. He calmed our storms, he restored our community, he freed us from spiritual oppression. He pulled the money we needed from a fish’s mouth. We had no lack of wisdom. Even death obeyed him. He claimed he could forgive our sin.

All of this, every conceivable need of our sickly race, met in himself. And yet he had the audacity to say, straight-faced, It is for your benefit that I am going away.

And he did it. He left us here, in sickness, in hunger, in poverty, in conflict, in sorrow, in hospitals, in ugly commonality, for our benefit. He left us here, where his own sufferings flow over into our lives, in between resurrections, for our benefit. He left us here, part of a body and in the company of a counselor, for our benefit.

It is a strange gift, and I can’t get my mind around it, lying here at 3:00AM on a makeshift bed of chairs, red-eyed behind swishing curtains, listening for her breathing.