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After Noon Prayers



Most days my sight
avoids the intersection
of creation and sorrow.


Others are standing there.
I see them; they are caught mid-step
by the weight of loss.


Grieving in Mogadishu;
running as Rohingya;
neighbours on the other side of my heart.


Oh, that I could run.
Together we could kneel
before One who knows the hours.


We would cry
for mercy.


Did I tell you about Monday?

Did I tell you about Monday, when I a wore a shirt inside out all day long and nobody said anything till the end of the day; till like 10 PM, “Did you know you shirt is inside out?” By that time, I had been a lot of places and had a lot of meetings.


I didn’t know.


It wasn’t a purposeful act of rebellion. It wasn’t even an act of style.


I just didn’t know. And to look closely — you would know.


So here’s what I’m left trying to figure out:

Did all those people who I sat directly in front of and talked with me for about 45 minutes at a time

also not notice or not care?

or feel too embarrassed to point out a problem?


Or maybe its me. Am I not approachable, accessible, and receptive to questions and criticism?

Have I created a culture around me that is reluctant to point out what might be wrong?

There’s a proverb that says, “He who builds a high gate invites destruction.” (Proverbs 17:19)


This is a problem. We live in a day when “our insides are out” a lot! Words are showing what is in the heart. But are we reluctant to do the Gospel work of inquiring about what is on display. It appears that criticism and truth-telling is considered disloyalty… even if the emperor has no clothes on. Perhaps the most valued capacity for the future is moral courage.


Well at least I had clothes on.


These are the things a leader must wonder about.

So here’s permission: next time you see me with my shirt on inside out, please tell me. I’ll appreciate you. I’ll probably go change it because it means I did my whole morning routine without my glasses, and didn’t notice!

You know who said something? My wife. She knows she has permission! Plus, she loves me.


I am a white ethnic and white supremacy is wrong.


Its my holiday and I don’t really want to be writing. But what in the world are holi-days really for?

White supremacists gather in Charlottesville.


The gathering of white supremacists in Charlottesville, VA at the University of Virginia over this past weekend screams out as reminder of the spiritual battle for human hearts. The delusion of race + supremacy powerfully overtakes the human heart and fills it with death. This gathering shed light on the violence we are capable of when identification as victims and a latent anger is mined by leaders. White supremacy is so wrong, its not right. It violates the Gospel of Jesus and opposes not only His teaching but His very identity. Sure, I don’t have to be offended that people I don’t agree with may have sought to gather legally under the guise of free speech and political discourse because of plans regarding a statue. However, I am offended, and I do have to advance that the notion of white supremacy which is motivating and undergirding these people is morally and theologically wrong.


Stepping out of my most segregated hour.


I am follower of Jesus Christ, I am a man, and I am white. I grew up in “The South.” But a research project twenty seven years ago opened me up to the power of the Gospel and the need to actively engage in its barrier-busting boundary-crossing work.


During my senior year at the University of Georgia, I was granted permission by the speech communications professor of my social movements class to unpack a question: Why are there so many different culture-specific churches when the movement of the Gospel is supposed to be the gathering of the ethne under Jesus Christ? I’m forever grateful to this professor who did not have to approve my “religious project” but took a chance on it anyway. I was exploring the questions of difference and sameness, unity and autonomy.  I was able to delve into the work of theology and sociology for the first time. And I was able to explore my own sense of race, culture, and language to appreciate the power these constructs hold in our lives.


At the time McGavern’s homogenous unit principle was the dominant influence in the church planting and missions realm. The idea of multi-cultural churches was just being explored in some urban areas. The American church was notable because of its most segregated hour status, 11 AM on Sundays.  This was especially true in my network of churches called the Southern Baptist Convention. Anything other than an English gathering was known as a “language church” or a “Black church.” I had never experienced the global array of “church gatherings.” I really only knew the gathering of either white middle-class people or white mountain people.


For a whole term I gathered Sunday after Sunday with a variety of churches and recorded my observations from participation in African American known then as “Black churches,” Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Vietnamese, Korean, and Chinese congregations. I was an outsider by language and culture, but I was also a member via our family connection in Christ Jesus our Lord. His body and blood purchased our inclusion in His Church. While my work was likely sophomoric, the experience and effort created a persistent and rich trajectory of cultural engagement and appreciation. From then on, I understood that as a white person I was also an ethnic, a member of the nations, a participant in a people group. I was just one among many in the world God is redeeming.


Becoming comfortable with insider – outsider experiences and the tension they create.


My awareness of the insider – outsider experience was weighted by the experiences of my parents. My Catholic father who had immigrated from Northern Ireland to Canada and then to the States as an engineer knew what it was to be an outsider. My Protestant mother who was raised in Appalachia but had traveled across the United States in her educational and work pursuits and taught in a diverse city school also knew what it was to be an outsider. Their stories shaped my childhood. I also had my own insider-outsider experiences growing up in a mostly racially segmented bedroom community of Atlanta. I had a fuzzy awareness that the KKK still occupied the county next door but my family would have nothing to do with it. All the while though, an unspoken question germinated in my soul,”Why is my church made up of all white people when our neighbourhood is not?”


My research paper for that Speech Communications course at UGA opened up a whole new world for me. I began learning how to wrestle with the tension created when my theological ideals and vision encounter sociological and historical realities.


Leading in racial diversity under Christ Jesus.


For the past 27 years, the ministries I’ve been called to lead have all graciously become or advanced as gatherings of people from diverse backgrounds. We have reflected in some ways the diversity of our neighbourhoods. I have been concerned and had to act on behalf of our members when they experience bias, whether it be inherent or aggressively active.

Adoption has also ushered me into the experience of being a minoritised and racialised family living in Vancouver. I have had to wrestle with the advantages “babylon” grants to those “in power” and the “disadvantages” built into her system often on the biases of race. I have had to wonder if my children would be harassed, disadvantaged, and even attacked because of the colour of their skin or their outsider status in some gatherings. And I’ve been able to delight in the imperfect but hopeful way the ministries I’ve been a part of have advanced the unity available to us at the foot of Jesus’ Cross.

The church has its unity in the blood and body of Christ. Our view of humanity is shaped by our common Creator who is the Father of All. And the Holy Spirit fuels active neighbourology in the Church by pouring HIs love into our hearts. I earnestly desire the members of Origin Church, where I serve now in the UBC campus to be thoughtful and active lovers of God and people. I grieve that members of our community feel the uneasy weight, threat, and pain of people motivated by the delusion of racial superiority and fear that they will be targets. I am angry that some in the Charlottesville crowd would dress up white supremacy as Christian. However, I’m not ashamed of the Gospel nor will I let shame keep us from having a conversation.


So lets talk about it.


Notes: I have been reading and there are several streams of thought echo here.

I break this fast in order to participate in God’s call expressed in Isaiah 58.

Russell Moore — identifies the Anger of Jesus and wonders if the church will be angry too.

Justin Tse — identifies the delusion these men are under and calls for prayer.

The WestCoast Baptist Association voted to denounce the alt-right and white supremacy.

Brian McLaren was in Charlottesville on the weekend and writes about his experience and observations.

UVA administration talk about their experience of the Saturday evening march.

Brene Brown went on Facebook Live, “we need to keep talking about Charlottesville.”

Jump Start Your Church Commitment

Jumping into life in your new University community can be exciting and intimidating. We’ve learned that when moving to a new place its tempting to leave our engagement in church community as a “I will get to it someday” kind of thought. But getting involved with a church on campus could be one of the best decisions of your life.

In the first few weeks of University getting involved in a church may seem like something that can wait. But I encourage you,  don’t wait. Your mind and time is soon going to be truly occupied with study, new friends, and incredible opportunities to grow. If you don’t put your engagement in a church community at the front of your agenda you may never get to it.


First the Benefits

Maybe you have never really had to think about the benefits of being part of spiritual community charged with following Jesus Christ and fulfilling His mission. When you were with friends and family, “gathering with the church” with just assumed. But now that you are on your own in University — nobody is there to bring you along; its your decision.

But think about it. What have been some of the benefits of being part of your church? Have you

1. Had a community that overflowed with a passionate pursuit of Jesus Christ in worship and mission together?

2. Had a community that challenged you and showed you how to grow in your walk with Jesus?

3. Had a community that laid their lives before Jesus and courageously integrated His Word into all that they do?

4. Had a community that rejoiced in an created opportunities to use the gifts given by the Holy Spirit to men and women?

5. Had a community that cared for you and shared life with you even when things were not going well?

This is what church does. And as a follower of Jesus you are called to be a part of making all these things happen.


Choosing a Church

So how do you go about choosing a church? Maybe you have never done that before; it may have been done for you. Maybe you tagged along with friends or were “happily” compelled to go along with your family. But now its up to you. Here’s a few things to do:

  1. Pray. Ask God to help you get situated in a church family.
  2. Search online. Just google it: “churches on campus.” In our case, you can search out “UBC churches” and you will see what’s here.
  3. Make a plan to check out the gatherings — large group and small group.
  4. Settle in quickly. Our suggestion is to get settled in congregation within the first 5 weeks of the term.


Some questions to consider as you visit:

  1. Am I familiar with the tradition or network of churches this (new congregation I’m visiting) is a part of?
  2. What’s the environment like here for lifting up Jesus and elevating God’s Word in life?
  3. Are there opportunities for me to serve, get connected, and to grow?


A church is Jesus’ people. Its the very movement that Jesus started and He calls the church His. Jesus loves the church and will help you, even call you, to be a part of a church family during your university years. Jesus seems to reserve some lessons and some healing in our lives for what will happen in the fellowship of His people. For example, Jesus didn’t show Himself to Thomas, until Thomas had gathered with other disciples of Jesus (See John 20:24-39). So it is with our growth with Jesus. Some lessons on faith, life, love, and ministry will not be learned unless they are learned in relationship with other followers of Jesus. So I encourage you, plan now to find a church a make commitments there. The lessons you learn there and with that people can serve you for a lifetime of mission and discipleship.


If you went off to University and got involved in a church — how did you go about making the decision?


Filed under: UBC Churches, church on campus, Origin Church, UBC, Born for More



Jump Start Your Spiritual Plan


Our good spiritual life habits are most vulnerable when we have a big change in our schedule and location.

Why is that?

Habits have triggers. Your good habits are always in danger of losing their triggers when you change your schedule and your space. Before you got to university you may have had the good fortune of a person who helped you get your spiritual disciplines going. But now you are going to move and they are not going to be right there checking in on you. In fact all the usual triggers that you may have depending on are probably going to be displaced. You are the most responsible person for your own relationship with Jesus Christ.


Soon you will be arriving at UBC if you aren’t here already. So think about it. Let’s jump start your spiritual plan!


What’s going to be beside your bed? 

Bible  – a Bible with a cover and pages. I know… so old school!


Why not your computer and phone?

We have all given in to the competition for our attention! We are so distractible. Help yourself out; don’t include a screen in your initial move toward the spiritual disciplines.


Reset every night.

Before you go to bed, reset all the items required for your Morning Meet Up with God.


Get an alarm clock. 

I know the phone is convenient. But it comes with liabilities! It will mess with your sleep hygiene. And it will interrupt your most important conversation of the day: your conversation with God! You like tens of thousands of other people check messages, the news, and all the random pictures available — before you get the most important word into your life.


Have a plan so you are:

Ready to read a section of Scripture.
Ready to keep a record what is said.
Ready to lift up prayer requests to God.


Find a Partner.

So before you get to UBC for the Fall term, why don’t you reach out to fellow follower of Jesus and ask them to partner with you in this habit. Pray for each other specifically asking the Holy Spirit to meet you both and keep it fresh! Together make a plan to text or WeChat each other with a simple spiritual discipline “check in.”  After you have complete your Morning Meet UP with God check in with your friend. A simple, “I met up with God today” will do. If you are really ambitions, check in with each other once a week with a verse or prayer from your week.

Your life with Jesus is the most valuable relationship you are going to have in University. Its worth planning ahead.


So if you are already in University and have been keeping the habit of Meeting Up with Jesus daily, what has been helpful for you? And if you are just getting ready, What’s your plan?



Filed Under: Jump Start, Spiritual Plan, UBC, Origin Church, Born for More, Discipleship