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Posts from March 2011

"I pray that no more death will be caused by this earthquake", Mika Goto in Japan

My friend Mika Goto was stuck in Tokyo tonight after the earthquake and I asked her some questions for the blog. I am posting it unedited.

TSK: Did you feel the earthquake in Tokyo? What is happening there now?
MIKA: I and co-workers, felt the earthquake in the central Tokyo.
It was the biggest earthquake in my life, intensity 5 in Tokyo area.
After emergency escape, we are told to go home or to go safe place,
but trains were stopped, there were traffic jam,
so that, there were lots of people walking to go home, or to finde warm and safe place.
some of co-workers, who live near central Tokyo, they walked home.
some of us, who live away from the central, we stay at office for tonight.
hotels and restaurants were full, lots of people are staying in some building to keep themselves warm.
from around 11pm, trains started moving in tokyo area.
   phone line has been too busy, we lost contact with each other.
I kept calling to my parents, so that I could reach them to find that they are safe.
(my father is also stayin in his office in the central tokyo.)
tokyo, is ok, i gues, but the area close to the origin of the earthquake,
people there are facing difficult stuation, with collaption of buliding, landslide, seawave.
one of my co-worker, her family is in Miyagi, near earthquake center,
inside of their house is messed up, but the family is safe and their hous is ok.
I heard, the paretns of a guy in our church, live in Sendai, which is also near earthquake center, he hasnt reach them yet.
TSK: Have the churches begun to respond in Japan? What do you think they will do?
I dont know if they have begun, without any info,... but I hope, the churches aound the epicentral area will help, such as offering them place to stay, food, blanket, caring of those who lost their family...
TSK: People around the world are praying for Japan right now. And we expect that churches and organizations everywhere will want to help in any way we can. Which organization is the best one to donate money to help Japan?
I dont have any chruch org in mind now. I will ask some of church friends for this...
TSK: How can we pray for your country?
it will be great if you pray for Japan, asking Jesus what to pray.
I pray that no more death will be caused by this earthquake,
and that God will use good of this for the future benefit of this country and the people in this country... (coz this gave us oppotunity for us to think what is really important in our lives.)
no photo for now......and,,, i m going to sleep... hope i can go home tommorrow moning.
thanks for your prayers, mika goto

Thinking about Japan

I was woken up by another aftershock here in Christchurch, something that happens every night. But now I learn of the earthquake in Japan that was 8000 times stronger than ours, and the number of missiong people from the tsunami is already in the thousands, and it puts things into perspective. Their loss is so much greater than ours and we pray that God will bring peace and relief to those who have lost family and friends.

I have emailed my friend Mika Goto to see if she is OK. After my visit to Japan some years ago, to spend time with the new emerging church leaders there, she has managed to stay in touch and keep me informed of what is happening in the fresh expression scene there. I was really inspired by what I saw and often tell the Japan stories to encourage others.

Hope they are all OK and I wonder how we can help.


update: Mika is awake. She says

i, thanks, yes, i m ok, staying at office in the central tokyo, because trains have been stoped...
and will stay over night...for tonight, with some of my coleague.
i found that my parents are ok.
for some people around me, i heard that they cant contact with each other,
because phone line is too busy or trafric stopped.

YWAM - Around the world in 80 days

Last night I did some teaching and storytelling at the YWAM Oxford base, just north of Christchurch, NZ. The 50 students were mostly from a new initiatve called "Around the world in 80 days". Participants in this DTS (Discipleship Training School) buy a round-the-world ticket and try to change the world wherever God leads them. Its full on nomad-itinerant-Spirit-led-wanderer stuff. I like it!!!!!! Thanks Noah and Kate for the invitation.

Ywam oxford

We had a fun time. My kids loved being there also. Really cool people. These guys are the "couch-surfing apostles" that I predicted a decade ago.

If you were there, please keep in touch with me and let me know how your travels go, esp. if you keep a blog like I suggested. That piece on "global nomads" I read was from my blog - right here. That other piece I wrote will come out in a book soon.

Jamie, the very worst missionary

I just supported Jamie, who is, in her own blog description, the world's very worst missionary. I noticed her blog last year and it was so refreshing to hear someone be HONEST and VULNERABLE about their mistakes and the mundane parts of their life - even the life of a missionary in Costa Rica, and her husband.

Shadow_image_110778-3 She needs some $$$$ and I really loved her honest and awkward appeal which included an admission of her foul mouth (not her mission agency's fault, she claims) and stories about strippers and crack whores and the lizard-in-the-undies stories that you dont normally get in a typical "Support my ministry" appeal.

I didn't send her much on paypal - just a little stingy token. But I know it will help. Its hard for missionaries to ask for money. In fact, we are sending out a letter really soon to those on our mailing list to thank them for their support and ask them again to help fund our work in 2011.

Last year these wonderful people helped us get into 25 countries to help support local missional entrepreneurs. This year we will are adding Asia to the schedule and some interesting countries that we can only talk about in our private emails with supporters.

But enough about me. Jamie, your blog rocks and we hope you keep on blogging your boring, pathetic, cruddy life! [heh heh]

Tallskinnykiwi in Christchurch like . . . this Saturday.

Its really last minute but I am doing an informal meeting tomorrow in earthquake-devasted Christchurch, New Zealand to meet with a few young church and mission leaders who invited me down here. We will meet in someones house which doesn't have running water so use the toilet before you come.

A lot of you have expressed your empathy for the city If you don't live in NZ but have an encouraging message for me to pass on to the leaders here then please leave a comment or send me an email if it is longer. tallskinnykiwi at gmail dot com

If you live in Christchurch and have been reading my blog over the years and just want a tea or coffee or perhaps some pizza, then come over. I don't have a strong message and I don't know why God allowed this earthquake (Christians usually get that one wrong anyway) but I would like to hear some stories of what the people of God are doing and where they think God is leading them as they rebuild the church in this city.

Saturday 7pm, March 12, at Noah and Kates house. Ask for directions.

Related: Christchurch: Churches talk about rebuilding, Christian leaders respond to earthquake

Rob Bell on being something of a universalist

@robbell wasnt sure why he was being denounced by American Christians or why people kept sending him twitter messages saying "Farewell @robbell" because he wasnt going anywhere. And why on earth would a web designer in the north of England be branded a heretic?

Rachel Held Evans interviews the web designer @robbell who was trending worldwide for 2 days regarding his new popularity and his views of heaven and hell. In the interview, @robbell confesses 

"I support the theory that it doesn't matter what you believe in, as long as you are nice to other people and do no harm…which I guess makes me something of a universalist myself."

As for the preacher Rob Bell in USA, "the other Rob Bell", who goes by @realrobbell on twitter, well . . . no one really knows for sure.

What the heck is a Universalist? Read Mark Galli's article.

Related on TSK: Before you read Love Wins

2 years on the road: THANKS!

Its been two years of living full time on the road. We left Scotland on March 10, 2009 in our 4x4 overland truck that we built. Remember this?

Fixing truck

Since then, we have been in almost 30 countries, visiting and encouraging fresh expressions of church and helping to launch new social enterprises that will change the world. Our truck is awaiting us in Europe while we visit Asia-Pacific.

Its been an amazing time but not an easy one. Thanks to all of you who have been praying and supporting us. And thanks to our amazing children who have sacrificed a lot more than I ever did.

Before you read LOVE WINS by Rob Bell

Some people are amazed at all the blog chatter regarding Rob Bell's upcoming (Mar 15) book Love Wins: A book about heaven, hell, and the fate of every person who ever lived.

Love wins book by rob bell  I am not surprised. Its a huge issue and its much bigger than Rob Bell. In the world of evangelical demi-gods, John Piper is doing battle with N.T. Wright in the skies over atonement theories and eschatology and its becoming evident that this new generation, apart from a few new-Calvinist oddities, are siding with Wright or at least the way of thinking represented by Wright.

There is a power struggle going on that ventures beyond doctrinal categories and theological correctness. It's a battle for the empire! And if you dont understand that, you wont appreciate the intensity of the Reformed backlash. Or why John Piper broke Lausanne etiquette by veering from his script to add "eternal suffering" to his Ephesians talk in Cape Town last year. I was there. I heard the murmurrings.

A Christianity Today report says it this way. "Naturally there were grumblings. While John Piper was a favorite expositor for many, others resented his importing controversy over eternal suffering into an Ephesians text that had nothing to do with it. Some regretted that N. T. Wright was not invited to speak, sensing an underlying attempt to steer the evangelical movement toward a particular kind of theology."

I don't think I will bother buying "Love Wins" because I don't appreciate being manipulated by publishers and the "evangelical marking machine" [hear PirateChris on this] and I am not convinced Rob Bell will go beyond Wright's Surprised by Hope, apart from offering his own bias and making it more accessible.

Or in other words, we already had this conversation a few years ago. Why should I buy the book?

I might be wrong. And I might buckle and buy the book but I very rarely buy the books that everyone says I need to buy. Praise God I never bought Purpose Driven Life and managed to avoid the Left Behind series.

And the book MIGHT BE RUBBISH! Its possible! Publishers tend to send me winning manuscripts rather than dodgy ones or lame ones because they know I try to be honest on my blog. Previous Rob Bell books were sent to me but not this one - although that might be because Zondervan is no longer in the picture. [Why?]

However, I am interested in the conversation and will probably follow it to watch how the Reformed folk prop up their eschatology in the light of new challenges. I hope the conversation does not get bogged down on predetermined anathematic labels like "heretic" and "universalist" - as Mark Galli suggests it might. Instead, I hope the conversation will move back into the Scriptures to see what was really said and the context in which it was said.

A question to hold in your mind when you read Love Wins and the various blog commentaries that either affirm or attack it:

Are the words translated as "hell" in the New Testament INTERCHANGEABLE?

Do these words point to a SINGLE REALITY, as I was brought up to believe? Or do they reference mulitiple realities and events and thus the need for some NUANCE in interpreting them within their respective contexts. We claim the various Greek words for "love" are vital for understanding what type of love. But what about the many Greek words for hell like "gehenna", "hades", "tartarus" and the various descriptive words as well? 

Screen shot 2011-03-10 at 09.54.58
[image from a Jack Chick gospel tract)

This is why I find Challies question difficult to answer. In his review, he asks . . . 

"But what about hell? Is hell a future reality or a present one? Is it an earthly reality or one that exists elsewhere?

To Challies question, I would have to ask what passage of Scripture is he talking about? Which hell? Could the references to hell be sometimes a past reality (eg, the destruction of Jerusalem) and sometimes future (the final judgement of fallen angels)? And if God is a consuming fire, could there also be a present reality of judgement as he disciplines us?

I hope this will all lead to some discussion on the Scriptures themselves rather than medieval theological categories and word-traps set in place for the uninitiated. Al Mohler, I feel, probably SHOULD buy the book because he may have been too quick to label Rob Bell a universalist, just as he was too quick to label him "emerging church".

Here's my take, as one who has not read the book. It's possible Rob Bell has gone too far, if bloggers I respect are correct, on his view of heaven and hell. However, the default position that many of us grew up with in our world of Jack Chick Hell-fire Dante-inspired gospel tracks will probably never again hold the same priviledged position. Where the pendulum lands has yet to be determined . . . thus the battle for the empire.

Related: Rob Bell and Bullhorn Guy, How to Survive a Christian Bookstore

Recommended among the hundreds of blog posts:

- Andrew Perriman on Rob Bell and Kevin DeYoung and also Tim Keller's view of hell. (HT Scott in comments)

- Greg Boyd on why Rob Bell is NOT a Universalist.

- Scot McKnight on Universalism: Waiting for Rob Bell 1 and 2 and on Relevant Mag

- My Aussie mate Jarrod McKenna at Red Letter Christians

Training for global nomads

Tomorrow I am doing a training session at the YWAM base in Oxford (50 kms from Christchurch) for global nomads. About 50 students from two different schools - "Around the world in 80 days" for crazy young people about to circle the globe and make a difference for God, and "Crossroads" which is a training for families on mission.

Thanks to Noah for the invitation. We are staying with Noah and Kate Cremisino right now in Christchurch and they are hosting an event for us in Christchurch for local pastors and mission leaders interested in fresh expressions, emerging church, missional communities, etc and what might be gained from some of those stories that encourage the rebuilding of the church in post-quake Christchurch.

That meeting will be Saturday at Noah's house for a small group. Email me if you are interested in coming. Tallskinnykiwi at gmail dot com

Podcast: New Monasticism as Fresh Expressions

The most hopeful podcasts I have heard all year on the fresh expressions and emerging church. 


"New Monasticism as Fresh Expressions of the Church" as part of the book launch.

Podcast: Number 1 of 3

Podcast: Number 2 of 3

Best part is Bishop Graham Cray's suggestion in the Intro (Number 1) that fresh expressions are not enough on it own and it needs new monastistic expressions which offer 3 things - discipleship, mission, and spirituality. I wholeheartedly agree with Bishop Cray and would humbly add a fourth contribuition of the monastic models - an integration with micro-business enterprise that will help the new expressions become sustainable in the long term.

Hopefully Number 3 of 3 will be released soon and I will put a link to it here.