Eugene Cho

the voodoo video i couldn’t show at quest

still_sebastians_voodoo_02

Thanks to the collective wisdom of our larger staff, I pulled this “voodoo video” from last week’s Good Friday service.

But I still really like this video.  Very thought provoking so I’m now sharing and showing it here on my blog – for your viewing and commentary (video below).

It’s disturbing on several levels including the usage of ‘voodoo’ in it’s title which isn’t the best word in a church context but from an artistic level, this is an amazing video. The incredible animation is created by 26 year old artist Joaquin Baldwin.  I don’t know him personally but after watching this video, I suspect he may have been influenced by Christianity in some shape or another.  When you watch the film, you’ll see some Christian parallels.  Had I shown it, it would have taken some good explanation why I was showing the clip.

Here are the reasons this video really made me think: Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: christianity, church, culture, emerging church, faith, religion, ,

resurrection people – he has risen!

caravaggio_doubting_thomas

By God’s grace, we live as Resurrection people.  Through Christ, we are reconciled to God and because of Him, we are called to the ministry of reconciliation.  Do not be afraid…He has risen.

Happy Easter, everyone!

The word of the Lord from the Gospel of Matthew 28

Jesus Has Risen

1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

The Guards’ Report

11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

The Great Commission

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Filed under: bible, christianity, church, , , ,

all jesus wants is to eat with you

last supper by leonard da vinci

There are numerous significant theological and biblical meanings behind the Last Supper (Passover Seder) and while the pursuit of those meanings are worthwhile and powerful, here’s the most simple and as significant:

Jesus wants to eat with us.

Let me say that again.  The Triune God of the cosmos not only created the world and humanity but desires fellowship, communion, and friendship.  And when sin entered the world and humanity to wreak  havoc and choas, God intervened again – with the redemptive mission of restoring Shalom – all that which God intended for us.

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood (John 1:14 / The Message)

Throughout Jesus’ journey, he was eating with Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: bible, christianity, church, emerging church, Jesus, quest church, , , ,

our jesus riding to his own “inauguration” on an ass

jesus riding on a donkey

The image of Palm Sunday is one of the greatest ironies.  Jesus Christ – the Lord of Lords, King of Kings, the Morning Star, the Savior of all Humanity, and we can list descriptives after descriptives – rides into a procession of “Hosanna, Hosanna…Hosanna in the Highest” - on a donkey – aka - an ass.

Jesus rides in on an ass at his own Inauguration.  Goodness gracious.

My friend, Shane Claiborne, shares that a modern equivalent of such an incredulous image is of the most powerful person in our modern world, the United States President, riding into a procession…on a unicycle.

I’ll be honest: I would have asked for a chariot or at least an Aston Martin.  But that’s just me.

But Jesus does this for a reason.  In fact, everything he does has a reason.  His whole life is a model of the Kingdom of God.  But if that is so, why are we as Christians so enamored with power?  Why are we – even as Christians – still so enamored, fighting, and jostling with who gets to the sit by Jesus at the table?

How do we continue our call to be Light and Salt; to love mercy, seek justice; to preach and live out the Gospel – all while modeling the very nature of Christ?

I enjoyed the reflections of another friend, Christine Sine (from Seattle) who as part of her Are You Ready for Easter reflections on Palm Sunday, shared the following thoughts: Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: christianity, church, ,

the coming evangelical collapse?

ob100005

Some of you may have already seen this article entitled The Coming Evangelical Collapse [@Christian Science Monitor].  There are certainly some good things for ruminations, discussions, and considerations but like many things written for the purposes of drawing attention, it makes some grandiose statements.

I’d love to hear from you regarding your thoughts and commentary about the article [below].  Do you agree? Disagree?  What stood out to you?

And if you believe the Western church is in trouble, here’s the million dollar question:  Why and what can be done?

Is Christianity in trouble?  It really depends on how you look at the situation.  I have shared for some time that we live and have lived in a Post-Christendom Western world for a long time.  But because we dominate the resources of the world including information, we think we still remain the cradle of all things vibrant Christianity.   Having spent some time in other countries and pastoring two years in Korea in the ’90s, the Western world is NOT the center of the world.  I’m not trying to diminish the work of the Church in the West as it’s clear that it’s still influential but the Gospel is flourishing in many places outside the Western world especially in places around Latin America, Asia, and Africa.  Furthermore, while Christianity – in its various forms – are struggling in the Western world, we should also point out that it’s not the case in every situation. For example, ethnic churches, on the most part, are still flourishing in the West…

So, are we in the midst of a collapse or a spiritual recession in the West?  Well, these are certainly challenging times but just like the current economic recession, I see this as an opportunity for the “evangelical church” to re-discover their identity and grow deeper in our mission.  What I’m saying is that decline and talks of death aren’t necessarily bad things since sometimes, those very things will wake us up.  And perhaps through ‘death,’ we see the possibility of life anew.  

In fact, perhaps this collapse ought or needs to take place in order for us to discover ourselves once more from all that which have lured us away from our identity:  both as individuals and as a larger community.

And what’s the solution?  Not enough time and energy to share all my thoughts now but this I will share:  For me, Western Christianity have become victims Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: bible, christianity, church, pastors, religion, ,

the 7 life lessons of craig wong [1972-2009]

craig

Please do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to read this and pass it on to others. I want to share 7 Life Lessons of a younger man named Craig Wong (1972-2009) who despite his arduous battle with brain cancer over the past 15 months, began sharing “Craig’s Life Lessons” to as many people who would listen…

The call of being a pastor has its ups and downs – as it reflects the ups and downs of life.  I believe in the gospel that is Christ and the good news that not even death can separate those that have claimed Christ in their lives.  But there is still mourning and grieving in the loss of a loved one.  As a pastor, there are times I honestly wish I didn’t or couldn’t be emotionally connected to my flock.  But then, that simply wouldn’t be worth it.  This past year, our church came alongside the pain of numerous in our church community. I presided over the memorial service of a newborn baby that died 3 minutes after birth.  Today, I officiated the burial service of Craig – son, brother, husband, father to two, and friends to so many.

Honestly, I did now know Craig well prior to the diagnosis of a brain tumor in October 2007.  He was experiencing headaches so he went in to the doctor on a regular Friday afternoon for what he perceived to be a “routine check-in” only to be told he had a brain tumor.  I remember receiving that phone call.  The brain tumor was initially diagnosed as benign but when they went in to remove the tumor several days after that Friday, it was found to be malignant and the tumor has already begun its ugly growth.  I have gotten to know Craig, his wife, and their larger groupr of family and friends over the past 15 or so months and realized that even in his 36 years of life, he left an amazing legacy.

He loved his wife, loved his children, loved his family, and was devoted to his friends.  And all those relationships were informed by his faith and love for Christ.  This was apparent today as several hundred folks gathered later in the afternoon after the burial for the “celebration of Craig’s life.”

I still remember learning about his first response once he work up from his first surgery upon learning the tumor was not benign but malignant:

“Is this hereditary?  Will my kids be ok?”

I don’t know why this has been so emotional.  I guess they all are in their own way.  Perhaps, it’s because Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: church, faith, marriage, , , , , ,

“new calvinism” as 3rd most powerful idea – according to time magazine

john_calvin_-_young

Time Magazine created a list of 10 new ideas that are impacting the world right now and #3 on their list – incredibly – is an old but new movement called Calvinism or “New Calvinism.”  Listed as some of the movers behind this new movement are John Piper from Minneapolis, my neighbor Mark Driscoll from Seattle, and Al Mohler.  I find it encouraging and phenomenal that this was on the list but think we’re missing something if we think the Holy Spirit is working exclusively through the “new Calvinists.”  Despite our cynicism and reports of the collapse of the evangelical church, the Holy Spirit is working…

Mark – on his Resurgence blog – listed the distinctions between Old and New Calvinism.  He cites four main differences:

  1. Old Calvinism was fundamental or liberal and separated from or syncretized with culture. New Calvinism is missional and seeks to create and redeem culture.
  2. Old Calvinism fled from the cities. New Calvinism is flooding into cities.
  3. Old Calvinism was cessationistic and fearful of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. New Calvinism is continuationist and joyful in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
  4. Old Calvinism was fearful and suspicious of other Christians and burned bridges. New Calvinism loves all Christians and builds bridges between them.

While I personally roll with the Covenant denomination, I am advocating that we never be an island to ourselves.  I spent most of my early years in Reformed and Presbyterian Churches including two years in Korea at what I perceive to be one of the most influential [but completely unknown to Westerners] churches called Onnuri.  I received my Masters of Divinity degree at Princeton Theological Seminary so I have a good deal of exposure and understanding of Calvinism and Reformed Theology.  It’s clearly shaped a portion of my theology and ecclesiology.

So having said that, I like to think that we’re really all part of One Larger Team called the Kingdom of God.  Thus, if those four traits are the characteristics and commitments of New Calvinism, we should all be BIG fans.  I would certainly be and would genuinely love to see my co-laborers in the New Calvinism team be committed to being Missional, Urban Minded [and not just the Suburbs], led by the Holy Spirit, and Bridge Builders. 

How about you?  Thoughts about the article?

Here’s the article from Time: Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: christianity, church, Jesus, ministry, religion, seattle, , , , ,

women’s day, girl effect, and 10 reasons

womensilence

I am joining others on this day to mark International Women’s Day and in this small way, contribute to the celebration of their voices, gifts, and presence and highlight the need for continual justice.

Each year on March 8 the world takes time to observe International Women’s Day. It is a day dedicated to the celebration of women’s social, economic and political achievements worldwide. In the United States, this official day of observance is rooted in women’s efforts to campaign for rights to work, vote and hold public office, culminating on March 8, 1908, when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter work hours, better pay, voting rights, and an end to sweatshop conditions and child labor. In the early 1910s, the concept gained recognition in the international community and grew momentum as women across Europe continued to fight for the right to work and protest against ensuing world conflict.

There are also others on the blogosphere also highlighting the voices of women in the Bible.  One female voice that has recently spoken to me in surprising new ways is Lydia from Acts 16:11-15.  My church is currently going through the book of Acts and I recently preached on that text [mp3] covering Paul, Lydia, power, and transformation.  Paul went to Phillipi and likely sought out the synagogue [and men] but it did not exist.  He went outside the city gate to the river – again expecting and hoping to meet men since that was his strategy.  I love this passage because we see how it wasn’t Paul’s intent, strategy, or plan but God surprises and blesses him nevertheless by introducing him to Lydia Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: christianity, church, , ,

Christian books that should NOT be published.

Is it ok to sometimes poke fun and laugh at ourselves? I hope so because if not, I’m in some big trouble. As in, I might get blacklisted by the Christian evangelical subculture.

In reponse to the question about the 10 Most Essential Christian Books, I received some fabulous and interesting suggestions. But I also started getting a list from people regarding the most anti-essential Christian books or in other words, books that should never be published so I’ve taken the liberty of listing some of them here.  And if you’re gonna get offended, I have two things to say:  1) It’s not my list or umm, it’s not all mine.  Don’t kill the messenger! and 2) Relax. It’s okay to make fun of ourselves sometimes. I hope.

If you want to laugh even more, check out 10 reasons why men shouldn’t be ordained.

I’ll share my list of essential book soon but for now, enjoy this list of the Christian Books that should NOT be Published from various commenters from this blog.  You folks are mean!

And dare I ask:

What would you add to the list?

Update: I’m adding the American Patriot’s Bible to this list.  The crazy thing is that it’s a real book unlike the list below.

  • Everyone Is Going To Hell Except Me – John MacArthur
  • There’s No ‘U’ in Ministry: A Woman’s Guide – Mark Driscoll Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: christianity, church, emerging church, ministry

10 most essential books for christians

I get numerous emails from both blog readers and folks at my church asking me the following question:

What are the essential books I should be reading as a Christian?

Honestly, I have a hard time coming up with my list because it changes so often and I’m biased towards dead people.  So, I’d like to ask you for your help in putting together a list of the 10 Most Essential Books for Christians.  You don’t need to give me your entire list but what are couple books that you would absolutely include on anyone’s list?

Because there’s ten, think broadly so that we’re not just thinking about one aspect of Christianity.  We should include theology, leadership, spirituality, etc., right?  

This should be interesting.

And if you’re interested, you may also want to check a post from last year about people’s personal  influential book.

Filed under: christianity, church, Jesus, religion, , ,

an upside to the economic downturn

serve

The doom and gloom news about all things economy related can be paralyzing.  I know it’s impacting many individuals, organizations, and churches as well.  I’ll share later this week how it’s impacted my family but I wanted to share how Quest is trying to respond.  Last year, Quest was fortunate and just met our budget.  I’m not certain how since a) 2008 was the first year we hadn’t  numerically grown since the beginning of our church and b) 10% of our church have experienced job layoffs.  As difficult as the economic climate may be, this is also an incredible opportunity for the [C]hurch to be a source of care and grace to one another and the larger city and world.  Difficult times are when we can demonstrate our substance and convictions of Loving God and Loving People.

Let’s share some ideas and good news.  Question:

How are you or your church seeking to care for one another and the larger city & globe?

I recently wrote the following letter to our church sharing how we are stumbling our way to care: Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: christianity, church, emerging church, ministry, quest church, seattle

the atheist vs christian bus: war or conversation?

christian-bus-ads-001

One of my blog readers and now newly assigned European correspondent sent us this report from the the UK about the “escalation” of the “There is [Probably] No God” Atheist Bus that I shared about several weeks ago.  In response, a group of Christians have responded in kind with the “There Definitely Is a God” Christian bus.

Mary – my European correspondent [just writing that makes this blog seem that more impressive] writes:

I don’t know much about the group that has financed this response to the Dawkins “There is no God” bus campaign, but I think it is worth thinking about the way they chose to address it.

I find it interesting that the Time article (although being a bit overly dramatic calling it the “London Bus Wars”) mentions the spread of the atheist bus campaigns all over the world.

Does this sort of campaign matter to those of us who believe in God? Should we see it as an attack or a stimulus for dialogue about God? Why does it appear that Christians (as opposed to other groups who believe in God) seem to be the most up in arms regarding the campaign (and thus are the ones who have responded with their own adverts)?

Just some questions to think about…

Couple Pennies for your Thoughts:

What do you think? Is this good? Are these as the Time articles writes the “London Bus Wars?” – a la ‘culture wars?  Or is this good cultural engagement and conversation?

My Thoughts:  I don’t think Christians Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: christianity, church, culture, religion, , , , ,

video interview with phyllis tickle

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I had the joy of  having a great chat with Phyllis Tickle recently and she was gracious enough to shoot this video interview with me. Phyllis’ recent book, The Great Emergence, is making the waves amongst many people and it’s also on my ‘To Read’ list for 2009.  She is one sharp amazing lady and I don’t want to spread rumors but I’m pretty sure she’s on steroids too…just like Scot McKnight.  :)

Whether you agree with her premise of ‘The Great Emergence,’ I think it’s pretty obvious that one thing is inevitable:  CHANGE.  

Change happens and and will always happen and according to many, we’re in the midst of a historic change.  But lest we get think too much of ourselves in the ‘Church,’ this historic change isn’t just within christendom but one that encompasses the larger world. 

Here’s the interview with Phyllis and her bio from her website: Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: christianity, church, culture, emerging church, Jesus, ministry, pastors, religion, ,

why sundays still matter…

worship at quest

In conversations with people about the state of [Western] christianity, people can be all over the map.  And at times, I think it’s because we’re really that desperate, that upset, that disillusioned, or that [insert word here].  And then, there are times we just want to make a crazy statement to sound edgy and prophetic.  Yo, it’s pomo, bro.

One of those crazy conversations surrounds the topic of the corporate worship gatherings known to most people as ‘Sunday worship services.’  

I want to contend –  that whether it’s on a Sunday or another day – that gathering as a unified faith community is very important and healthy.  Or more accurately, it is one aspect of a healthy faith community.

Now, don’t mistake what I’m saying.  I’m not a big fan of big productions, fancy shows, gift giveaways, Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: church, churchplanting, emerging church, ministry, quest church, seattle

video interview with scot mcknight

One of my goals this year is to read 23 books and many of you shared some of the books you’re hoping to read this year in an earlier post.  I had the cool privilege of running into Scot McKnight recently – author of Jesus Creed and The Blue Parakeet [which is on my list].  He also happens to be one of my favorite bloggers although I suspect he may be taking steroids.  How else can he produce so many posts for his blog?  Random test, I say.  

But stupidity got the best of me Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: bible, christianity, church, emerging church, ministry, pastors, ,

blind versus discerning submission

photo by cbc.ca

I received this comment last week regarding my supposed slandering of soon to be former President George W. Bush.  The funny thing was I was trying to defend him in that post about an Iraqi journalist throwing a shoe at him.  Okay, I know he’s not the greatest president and many can’t wait to see him out of office but we should give him some props.  Why?  His work and advocacy for Africa was signifcant and secondly, the reality of extremist terrorists is legit and he navigated the country through uncharted territories especially through post 9/11.  But I still don’t support the war in Iraq.

Anyway, read the comment below.  Good thoughts for rumination by the commenter who I don’t know.  I appreciate the respectful tone in which he communicated his concerns.  But honestly, I get very concerned about Christians quoting Scriptures instructing people to “respect our governing authorities and fall in submission to them.”  

Really?  Yes, let’s respect our leaders.  I agree that it’s important but please don’t blindly submit to your leaders.  Please don’t tell this Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: bible, christianity, church, justice, , ,

i’m okay with not always being okay

I hope it was ok for me to be honest about some of the suckiness I’ve been feeling recently.  Sometimes, I’ll read and hear what other pastors are writing or saying and I sometimes have doubts.  Everything they say, do, or experience about their lives or their ministry seems to be perfect, amazing, and incredible…like totally…like 24/7…every day.  That’s cool if it’s true.

I’m not like that.  I have my share of stuff, frustrations, and pain.  Of course, I don’t use the blogosphere to share alot of that stuff because it may hurt people but I don’t mind sharing – as honestly as I can – that sometimes, things suck.  Simply, I’m okay with not always being okay.  

The things I shared on my last post – When It Rains, It Pours – are stuff that sucked that I could share.  The stuff I couldn’t share were the real sucky stuff.  I don’t want to paint or portray that everything is perfect, beautiful, and rosy all the time.  Because it’s not.

So, what does that mean for Quest?  Nothing…except to say Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: church, quest church, seattle

I desperately need good news

communion

[photos by HageCreative]

Yesterday was a really sucky day.  A tough day for some reasons I won’t share here but I can share one thing.  I woke up to a phone call very early morning that our non-profit Q Cafe was broken into at some point in the middle of the night.  Whoever – broke in, made a little mess, broke into several office rooms, snagged a laptop, and took the cash from the cafe and live music venue.  We’ll get over the loss and damage but it just sucks bigtime to have someone rob your place. 

But in the scope of the bigger world, it’s nothing.  Even before the news of the break-in, I’ve been recently overwhelmed by heavy news: Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: bible, christianity, church, quest church, seattle

stuff, connect, info

one day’s wages | video

My Instagram

Layover. San Francisco. Having grown up here, my heart still flutters. No other city like it. A quick, busy, & meaningful 26 hrs in Wash DC but managed to go for an hour walk for this view. One of the greatest monuments in the world. A true American hero. #AbrahamLincoln I may stand on different sides on several issues with this man but I'm committed to praying for my President.

Honored to be joining Christian pastors and leaders today for the White House Prayer Breakfast. The great wheel of Seattle. Cloudy on top. Sunny on the bottom. Such is life sometimes. Taking a walk in one of my fav Seattle spots before a busy month. Embracing the calm before the storm.

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