Monday, September 15, 2014

When God Walks...



I recently made an interesting discovery as I was reading my Bible.  From the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation there are many, many accounts and descriptions of Jesus/God going on;

A Walk

Before I make my larger point, let me give you some examples.

*  In the book of Genesis, just after Adam and Eve ate the proverbial fruit of the tree it says, "Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was WALKING in the garden." (Gen. 3:8)

*  When Jesus was beginning his ministry in Galilee and recruiting his first disciples, the Bible says, "As Jesus WALKED beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew." (Mark 1:16)

*  One of Jesus' most famous miracles is when He WALKED on the water; "About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, WALKING on the lake.  He was about to pass them, but then they saw him WALKING on the lake, they thought he was a ghost." (Mark 6:48-49).

*  One of the first sightings of Jesus after he is resurrected is when he is on a WALK on the road to Emmaus; "As the two men talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and WALKED along with them." (Luke 24:15).

And there are many, many other texts in the Bible depicting Jesus/God on;

A Walk

Maybe you can think of more examples.

What is the significance of this?  Well, on it's face there is, of course a practical dimension to walking in the ancient Middle East.  Walking was one of the only means of transportation.  If you were going to get from point "A" to point "B", and you were poor, as the disciples and many early people were, you would walk.

However, I think there is a deeper, more spiritual thing going on when Jesus walks.  I have always felt that when Jesus was on a walk, he was listening for God's voice, he was praying, he was contemplating larger things.  Perhaps it was in the combination of physical motion, and Godly thinking that inspiration came to Jesus.  There is a dignity in Jesus' walk.  Even in the face of great adversity and evil Jesus walked.  Jesus WALKED to the cross.

We might ask ourselves, why aren't there any descriptions in the Bible of God running?  When Peter and John find out from the women in the garden that the tomb that held Jesus only a few nights before was empty, the Bible tells us that there was a veritable running race between Peter and John to get to the cemetery; "So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb.  Both were RUNNING, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first." (John 20:3-4).  There are no descriptions in the Bible of Jesus running.  Even when Jesus' friend Lazarus died, Jesus does not run to save him.  Though the Bible does not say, one gets the feeling that Jesus simply sauntered his way to meet his friend who was dead.

Walking is a deliberative, paced, metered, thoughtful, discerning mode of movement.  There is a slow, foot after foot, step after step dynamic to walking.  After a run, a person can feel winded, and tired.  A run requires a short burst of energy.  A walk requires an ongoing expending of energy.  C.S. Lewis was famous for his long walks through the countryside, or in-between his house at The Kilns and Oxford.  Lewis would often say that the walks were a way of stimulating his mind, and his body.  There was a spiritual dimension to Lewis' walks.  The actor John Travolta once said on actors theater that the most important thing to learn in acting was not what you say, but how you walk.

I used to compete in Oratory at a national level, and I remember that my coaches would always tell me that my walk up to the front of the stage was as important as the first words that I said.  A speech tournament can be won through a good confident walk and it can lost, even before you utter your first word, through a sheepish, scuffling or scared walk.

Each morning when I wake up and think about this great effort that we are on to start a new church, I say to myself, "Just remember, Graham, that all great things of God are a WALK, they are not a running race or a sprint.  Just WALK through this day, and then WALK through the next day, and the day after that, and Jesus will be walking with you."

And he will WALK with you as well!

All For Now,

GB




Monday, September 8, 2014

The Persistent Widow



One of Jesus' most interesting and enigmatic parables (stories) is the parable of the persistent widow.  The parable is unique in that the lead character (a nagging, haggling, in your face, side-swiping, jabbing widow), is lifted up as the heroine of the story.  And she is admired for one single and particular quality - PERSISTENCE!  Not giving up.  Here is the parable in case you have forgotten it (I had);

In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men.  In other words he was a bad law enforcement official.  And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, "Grant me justice against my adversary".  We don't know what justice this woman was asking for, but we know that she kept coming, day in and day out, morning noon and night.  In those days, as is the case today, a person never got a second hearing from a judge (that would be double jeopardy), but she kept coming.  She was totally annoying.  For some time he refused.  But finally he said to himself, "Even though I don't fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming."  I love the honesty of the judge here.  He is ready to pull his proverbial hair out.  This widow was a down-right pain in the back side.  She was relentless, unremitting, in-your-face, a thorn in his side.

And that's it.  That's the parable.  Jesus finishes with the thought that we should be like this woman in our faith and in our lives.  We should keep pushing, keep going, keep moving on, moving through the tough challenges of our lives, and through the tough challenges of our faith.

Now, I don't know what the image you have in your head of this widow is, but for me I have always thought of her as a tiny little Babushka, a hunched over old krone, a toothless angry old woman.  But what if that wasn't what she was like at all?

What if she was beautiful?  What if she was a fashion goddess?  What if the persistent widow was hilarious, a cut-up at any dinner party?  What if she was relentless in her ability to cut people down with jokes?  What if she preferred the first century's version of Prada instead of black sack-cloth?  What if she was more like….brace yourself…Joan Rivers?

As I watched the news this weekend of the late comedian Joan Rivers' funeral, I was struck by one singular and important quality of Joan's life.  She too was persistent.  She was unrelenting, unremitting, unquenchingly tough.  She persisted through many difficult things in her life.  As one of the first women comedians of her time, she worked in a purely male dominated world.  As a Jewish woman she worked in comedy in a mostly WASPY world.  She experienced the back-hand from one of those WASPY comedian men, Johnny Carson, when he never spoke to her again after she began her own TV show.  Then, her husband committed suicide (so she really was a widow too!), and she raised her daughter Melissa by herself.  Joan experienced poverty, and bankruptcy, and tough times.  Doing comedy is one of the hardest ways in the world to make money.  If there ever was a quality for a comedian it was persistence.  You have to just keep at it, even as your audience is with you, or they are against you.

Now, for those who are reading this blog-post and who are inclined to disagree with the comparison of the persistent widow in Jesus' story to Joan Rivers, let's return to the story.  There is nothing about the moral quality of the widow in Jesus' story.  There is nothing about the faithfulness in God, or the deep prayer life of the widow.  There is nothing about her spirituality.  There is only one descriptor - she was persistent.

Once, while being interviewed by Larry King, Joan was asked why she made jokes about all kinds of inappropriate subjects (death, sex, genocide, murder, etc….).  She said, "Because, if you can laugh at something, it no longer has power over you.  I am Jewish, and I guarantee you that if I was in Auschevitz, the death camp where millions of Jews were put to death, I would have found a way to make a joke about it.  You just have to push through things in this life, you have to never give up."

Neither Joan nor the woman in Jesus' story is a perfect character.  Far from it, they are both deeply flawed people.  And a lot more is required of us in our faith walk than simply persistence.  We must have humility, we must know and love Jesus, we must turn our lives to God, and away from ourselves.  We must be generous, and thankful and contrite.  And there is no indication that either the widow or Joan did these things with their lives (though we do not know).  But Jesus, the one who persisted, and still persists with us, would have loved and admired one singular quality about their lives - their persistence!

And he loves it when we persist as well!!

In Christ:-)

All For Now,
GB





Monday, September 1, 2014

Trusting Your Gifts


This Labor Day weekend I celebrated by watching several uninterrupted hours of US Open Tennis on TV.  One of my favorite players was playing - Scottish born Andy Murray, who is the 9th ranked player in the world, and who finally vanquished his Russian counterpart A. Kuznetsov in the fourth set.  As Andy was playing, American commentator, Jim Courier made an interesting comment.  He said;

"Andy has some big decisions to make in his future.  If Andy wants to have a long career, he will have to ease up on the hard work.  Andy is always working out very hard in the gym.  He's always pushing himself too hard and too far.  Andy works way too hard.  Andy always says; 'I win my games because of my hard work.'  But that's not true Andy wins because of his talent.  I sometimes think that Andy doesn't trust his talent enough.  Trusting your talent is one of the great keys to success in life."

As watched Andy Murray run around the court, I noticed Jim Courier's point being played-out (no pun intended), right before my eyes.  When Andy was smiling and seeming to enjoy the game, and his God given talent, he was winning.  When Andy was angry and upset and straining, and working, he was losing.  As he was trying to push himself beyond his own talent (when he was working), he was losing.

The distinction actually reminded me a little bit of the now old movie, "Chariots of Fire" which featured two excellent but very differently motivated runners.  There was Harold Abrams who was motivated by winning and excellence.  He often came in second.  Then there was Erik Liddel, the Presbyterian minister who was motivated by God and by God's gifts in him, and the pleasure of running.  He said, "I believe the Lord made me for a purpose.  He made me for the mission but he also made me fast, and when I run I feel his pleasure."  In a sense, Erik was the most successful as a runner when he was enjoying the pleasure of God's gifts through him.

Christians often refer to talent as giftedness.  According to the apostle Paul, God gives all of us separate and important gifts; "Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.  To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and still to another the interpretation of tongues." (1 Cor. 12:7-10).

Wisdom
Knowledge
Faith
Healing
Powers
Prophecy
Distinguishing (Discernment)
Speaking
Interpretation (Understanding)

These are some of the gifts of God.  And there are many more that Paul doesn't list.  One of the keys to life is figuring out what our particular gifts are.  What is not often discussed or talked about is the equal importance of not only identifying our unique gifts, but ENJOYING THEM.  And trusting in them.

For example, if a person is given is given the gift wisdom, there is nothing that can make a person more wise through hard work.  Hard work might help us to gain more information, but not wisdom.  If a person is given the gift of faith, there is nothing in hard work that can make a person more faithful.  Hard work might be the application of faith, but it does not make us more faithful.  If our gift is in distinguishing (discernment), there is nothing in hard work that will make us more distinguishing.  A therapist, for example, might get more adept through many years of work, but not more distinguishing or discerning.  And so, we must simply take pleasure in our gifts and TRUST THEM.

One of my gifts, I have been told, is in public speaking.  Working hard on my speaking can make transitions more smooth, can make illustrations more relevant, can make connection points more alive, but it cannot make my speaking any better.  Speaking is a gift.  As I have grown older, I am learning, like Andy Murray, to trust that gift, rather than simply to work it to death.

So, that's my blogpost for this LABOR DAY weekend.  Less work.  Less Labor.  More Trust.  More Pleasure in our gifts and talents.

What gifts has God given you that you need to trust more today?

All For Now,
GB


Monday, August 25, 2014

Uncertainty


So, every morning, I read the newspaper (usually the New York Times), and my favorite part of the entire newspaper is - the obituary section.  Don't' worry, I don't have a morbid curiosity, or a deathly fascination. I just enjoy reading about the contributions and the life stories of people who have come before me.  A well written obituary is like a mini-biography of great (and not so great) people.  You can learn more life lessons from a good biography (or well written obituary) than any self-help manual or motivational talk.

Last week I read a fascinating obituary about a man named James Schiro who died too young (at 68) and who was the CEO of Goldman Sachs, Pricewaterhouse and Zurich Financial.  In other words, Schiro was one of the world leaders in the financial global industry and investment strategies.  It was his lessons on leadership that have stayed with me since I read about his life:

"People don't like change, but they can manage change.  The one thing people can't handle uncertainty.  I think it is the job of leaders to eliminate uncertainty."

Schiro's right!  Change is uncomfortable.  Change forces us to evaluate the way that we have been doing things in our lives, and to alter time honored behaviors.  Change means that the rhythms that we create for our lives, ordered around the activities of our lives have to be altered.  Humans thrive on good rhythms and routines.  Most of our life rhythms are functions that our bodies and souls engage in which we don't have to think about any more.  We just, as the saying goes, "Go through the motions."  Change means that we need to begin to think again.  And thinking is hard work.

Another great leader said, "Leadership is helping people to move through change at a rate they can tolerate."

Since we have moved from Colorado to California, our family has had to go through many changes.  The stores that we once shopped in for food and clothes are different.  The computer programs that we relied upon for basic functions have needed to be changed.  The schools our daughters attend have changed.  The house that we are living in has changed.  The way that we drive from here to there has changed.  In the words of the late poet, William Butler Yeats, "All has changed, changed utterly".  And change isn't always fun, but it can be.  When changes are difficult, we have managed these changes.  And we have grown through these changes.  We know that the changes we are experiencing won't last forever.  And we are stronger because we have experienced these changes.

As Schiro says, we can manage change.  We can say to ourselves, "I'm in the midst of change, change isn't comfortable, but things will get more comfortable as we go along."

It's the second part of the thought piece which is has caused me to pause and think even more.

People can't handle uncertainty, It's the job of a good leader to eliminate uncertainty.

From a leadership standpoint, this idea makes a lot of sense.  Uncertainty in a leadership system is never helpful.  When an employee or a person who works in a large organization asks him/herself; "What am I supposed to do?  Who do I report to?  Is my role important?  Does it make a difference?  Why am I doing what I am doing?  How will I be evaluated?  What will determine my success?" it is never a good thing.  A good leader constantly helps to eliminate these uncertainties, to answer these questions.  A good leader affirms and clarifies on a daily basis the certainty of these things:

*  This is the specific task
*  This concrete task is important
*  When this task is completed that's the definition of success
*  This project is important, and crucial
*  This is where we are going as an organization
*  This is how important you are!

These are uncertainties that can be eliminated in a system.

But, as a pastor, I can say that there are uncertainties that can't be eliminated.  Life is full of uncertainties.  A good leader actually sometimes needs to be honest and say, "I actually don't know what the future will bring.  I am not sure how things will end up.  I have studied everything that can be studied, but I honestly don't know what to do in this particular situation."  People, I have found prefer honesty in the face of uncertainty over gossamer laced platitudes.

So, in the end, it isn't the elimination of uncertainty that is called for.  It's the recognition that uncertainty exists and the leader will be with them, through the thick and the thin of things.

Jesus said, "Behold, I will be with you, even until the end of the age." Jesus didn't say that we would understand all facets of life or of our changes or of our futures.  Jesus didn't say we would understand the uncertainties of our lives.  He said, "I will be with you, through all of life's uncertainties."

And that's why Jesus is someone we can be certain of!

All For Now,

GB






Monday, August 18, 2014

Fully Human


I recently completed a paper for my Doctor of Ministry degree (76 pages to be exact…ugh), on the preaching ministry of one of my favorite pastors - Rev. Dr. Earl Palmer.  The assignment, in short, was to pick one preacher that I have respected and learned from over the years, and to try to figure out one singular question - "Who is God?" in that person's preaching.

So, for the last month or so, in addition to starting a new church, I have been transcribing five of Earl Palmer's sermons (incredibly, Earl doesn't write a manuscript, but takes an outline into the pulpit), dissecting them, and trying to figure out who God is, or how God is formed or modeled in these sermons.  And what I have discovered is very interesting.  Earl Palmer embraces a Jesus who is Fully God, and...

Fully Human

Let me explain.  The history of our faith, our historical doctrine as Christians, is that Jesus was and is both "Fully God" and simultaneously "Fully Human.  That is, that Jesus was the very embodiment of God while he was on earth.  Everything about Jesus was God.  As Bible says, "In the Beginning was the Word," and we Christians have always viewed "The Word" as Jesus.  Jesus is God.  And yet, Jesus is also

Fully Human.

How exactly Jesus was simultaneously two distinct and different beings is a mystery.  We humans only understand one form of reality - human-ness.  However, God simultaneously occupies two complete and indivisible characters.  Jesus is Fully God and

Fully Human

As a human, then, Jesus laughed the way laugh.  Jesus felt the way we felt.  Jesus got hungry.  Jesus slept.  Jesus grieved when he lost loved ones or he went through trauma, and Jesus was full of happiness and joy when there was something to be happy about.

Now, what is interesting is that most Christians tend to ignore Jesus' human side, and focus almost exclusively on Jesus' God side.  The way we talk about Jesus is almost always from the angle of the God-side of Jesus.  When we pray, we often pray, "Eternal God," or "Father" or "Savior" or "Dear Lord".  These are God dimensions.  But these descriptors don't always accentuate an equally important aspect of Jesus' being - humanness.

Earl Palmer uses two examples of the human-side of Jesus which are intriguing.  The first aspect is when Jesus is tempted in the desert, at the beginning of His ministry, by the devil.  According to Earl, the three things that the devil tempted Jesus to were essentially to give up his human-side, and be only God.  The three temptations, remember were:

1.  Turn this stone into bread - in other words, don't be hungry, and human.
2.  Throw yourself off of a building - in other words, don't die like humans die when they fall
3.  Have all control of heaven and earth - in other words, take control of the world like a God

Fortunately for us, Jesus says no to all of these temptations.  Jesus fully embraced his hunger, his mortality, and his human inability to take over the world.  The devil was essentially tempting Jesus to deny his human-ness and just to be "Fully God".  But Jesus did not bow to that temptation.  Being human was an important and essential aspect of Jesus' character.  Earl would say that if a person denies the "humanity of Jesus" that is equally as heretical as denying the "Godliness of Jesus."

Palmer would even go so far as to say that Jesus' human-ness occasionally caused him to make mistakes (like all humans do).  For example, Palmer says, when Jesus said that the smallest seed was the mustard seed, that was not true.  There are many seeds that are smaller than a mustard seed (not being a farmer, no seeds come to my mind that are smaller than a mustard seed, except maybe a poppy seed).  Palmer says, "Jesus was mistaken, the mustard seed was not the smallest - Jesus must be human".  To say, according to Palmer, that Jesus made an occasional human error, is not to invalidate His ultimate power or authority as God, but simply to high-light an often overlooked dimension of God's entire being.  Being

Fully Human

I am not sure I entirely agree with Palmer that Jesus could make mistakes, since those mistakes would begin to infringe on Jesus' Fully God-like aspects.  It is possible that Jesus was simply using a turn of phrase when he said that the mustard seed is the smallest seed.  However, Palmer's point does make you stop and think a moment.

Being human myself (and on this Monday morning, after preaching yesterday, feeling particularly human), I find the human aspects of Jesus' character the most comforting, the most accessible, the most interesting.  God seems, at times to me, slightly one dimensional.  God is all powerful, God is all knowing, God is all encompassing.  Humans have flaws, and these flaws are what make Jesus unique among all of the gods that history has come up with before Him.  We should embrace the fact that our God is, Fully God and…

Fully Human

All For Now,
GB

















Monday, August 11, 2014

The Last Shaker


This past week I listened to a fascinating interview on Public Radio about a Christian denomination which has very nearly come to the end of it's life.  The denomination is known as at the "Shakers" or "The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing" (in long form).  If you have never heard of the Shakers, perhaps you are familiar with their contributions to innovation and technological advancement.  The Shakers are responsible for the invention of the clothes pin, the circular saw, the washing machine.  The Shakers invented the oval box, and the straight broom.  They were also a source of great creative energy once, writing many of the hymns and songs we now sing today - "Simple Gifts" (later made famous by Aaron Copeland), is the best example.  The Shakers were once a prodigious and foundational force in England and America.

Today there are, get this, just three Shakers left in the world.  Their names are:

Brother Arnold Hadd - 56 years old
Sister June Carpenter - 72 years old
Sister Francis Carr - 85 years old

These three remaining Shakers live on the Sabbath Day Lake Farm in the state of Maine.  The Shakers were once a strong and vital denomination in the United States and world, and numbered around 6,000.  Asked why the denomination had been having a hard time attracting new members, Arnold Hadd commented that the required life of celibacy was a challenge (no kidding:-).  Ironically, Hadd mused, "celibacy is not the largest reason that Shakers have had a hard time gaining new followers.  The biggest problem has been the separation that is required from the world.  If you are going to be Shaker, you have to remove yourself from the world."

As I listened to the interview of these three remaining Shakers in the world, I had another thought.  All Christian denominations have the potential to die.  I, myself, am a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and it's membership has had a fairly consistent rate of decline for at least the past 50 years in the United States.  And, as I consider the largest single reason that the Presbyterian Church has been dwindling in membership, I think it is similar to the challenges that the Shakers experienced.  We too, more often than not, are separated from the world.

Let me make a large, and bold statement.  Christians that separate themselves from the world, in sequestered, removed faith communities, almost always have difficulty in maintaining vitality and growth and life.  Many Evangelical Christians, in my experience, also separate themselves from the world.  Quite literally, many Christians don't live in the space of the world anymore.  They don't have non-Christian friends, they don't read non-Christian books, they don't send their children to non-Christian educational institutions, they don't listen to non-Christian radio.  Everything in their lives is about separating form the world, removing themselves, taking themselves away from, not connecting with the world.

One of the things that I love most about starting a New Church Development (Mission Street Church) is its constant and regular connection to the world.  I am now writing this blog post in the church office, in a downtown public office building.  Outside my office door are five other employees who also rent our office space (an attorney, a social worker, an insurance adjuster, and two public accountants).  There is the potential for a good joke here, but I can't think of one right now.  Quite literally, this church, the one we are starting, is right in the business space, the market place, the space of the world.

As churches develop, very often the tendency is to remove themselves step by step, to be further and further away from the actual world.  The progress of a church often looks something like this.  A church begins in a public space (a school or movie theater).  Then the church builds a building, which is far away from the business world.  Then the church builds an even bigger building, because the old church was spilling too much out into the world.  Then the church finds issue with theological quandaries in it's mother denomination, or has issues with one thing or another, so it moves to a different denomination or it starts a new one.  None of these movements in and of themselves is a problem in and of itself.  Sometimes definitional boundaries are important in an organization.  Buildings and faith statements are important things.  However, the tendency to pull away from the world in which we were created to live in is a great temptation for many churches, and almost always leads to their demise.

The Shakers have left the world an incredible legacy of inventions and innovations.  Unfortunately, it appears that this once great denomination will one day, soon, be no more.  When Brother Arnold Hadd was asked on Public Radio to make a pitch for why anyone would want to be a Shaker and join his community he said, "Well, because we are here…."  Sadly, in a few years, even that existential pronouncement may not be the case for the Shakers.

Or other Christians, like you and me, who do not intentionally live in the public space that God gave us to live within, and to minister to.


All For Now,
GB








Monday, August 4, 2014

THE Mission Street Church


This past weekend, I had the opportunity to speak at a church in the Chicago metro area (Christ Church, Oakbrook, Ill.).  We live about 1 hour north of LAX (Los Angeles Metropolitan International Airport), but driving in traffic, and during rush hour, can be challenging, so I took a taxi cab to the airport.  Also, I love counting the number of limousines that are driving from the Bel Air foothills into the city.  As always, I was fully amazed at the deep and unrivaled life-wisdom of taxi cab drivers.  My driver on this occasion was no exception.  This was his wisdom chestnut:

Southern California is the only freeway system in the world that prefixes all of it's freeways and highways with the word - "The".  For example, if someone gives you directions from one place to the other in Southern California they might say; "You take 'The 101' to 'The 210' to 'The 405' to 'The 110'.  I realized what my cab driver was saying was, in fact, very true.  For example, when I lived in Salt Lake City growing up we didn't say, take 'The I-80' - we just said, take 'I-80'.  When I lived in Minnesota to go to college, we didn't say take 'The 35' we would just say, 'drive on I-35W'.  Then I asked my sagacious cab driver why it was that Southern Californians put a "The" in front of their freeway systems, and he had an equally sagacious answer.  "It's because freeways, highways, interstate roads are the center of our entire lives down here.  These are the oldest freeways in the country (The Old Pasadena Highway still exists and was the first ever built).  Freeways are the centerpiece, the emblem, the talisman of our entire livelihood."  Honestly, I hadn't heard the word talisman since my days at college.  I asked him where he got his education, he said, "Law degree from UCLA".   "Ugh," I thought to myself, law degrees are now a prerequisite for driving cabs….

After I began to think about it, I thought about the fact that it isn't just freeway systems in Southern California that give the "THE" prefix to important cultural icons.  Every city does this with the main symbol of that community.  In New York City, for example, you have not just, "Empire State Building" but "The Empire State Building".  In San Francisco you have not just "Golden Gate Bridge" but "The Golden Gate Bridge".  In Ann Arbor Michigan where UMICH plays football in one of the largest stadiums in the United States you have not just "Big House" but "The Big House."  And so on and so on.  In fact, if you are trying to learn a new culture, somewhere in the world, find that thing that they put the word "The" in front of and chances are it is it's…talisman!?!? (main thing).

Unfortunately I did not have this deep nugget of wisdom when I was thinking about the name for our new church - Mission Street Church (by the way, check out our new logo at the top of the page).  And now, having thought about it, and applying the wisdom of my tax cab driver friend, we should probably make sure to put a "The" in front of the name - THE Mission Street Church.  When naming the church I did, however, have an intuitive sense that we needed to name our church after something geographic and cultural that took a central space and place in the minds and the hearts of the people who live here.  Rick Warren had that idea when he called his church - Saddleback Church, based on the mountain range that flanked his church campus.  Mission Street, as I have said before, was the original name of the El Camino Real, now "The 101".  Missions, at one time ran all the way up and down the coast of California, built in the 1600's by Spanish missionaries who were sent by the Catholic church in Spain to bring Christianity to the native Indians of the coast of California.  On Oct. 26 we will launch - THE Mission Street Church - at the Edwards Movie Theater on - THE 101.

I suppose we could have called our church "The 101 Church" but that name was already taken by another church in town.  My taxi cab drivers well esteemed point seems to have been equally well proved...

All For Now,
GB