Update: Quest is currently renovating our new space and will be hosting our first service in our new location on Sunday, September 13.
I have some big news to share – news that will likely solicit mixed emotions for many people.
If you’re an internet junkie, it’s possible that you may have already heard as I’ve been receiving my share of texts and tweets. About two weeks ago, Quest Church – the church I lead – purchased Mars Hill Church (Ballard). Yes, that Mars Hill Church.
Since then, there’s been a trickling of blogs, online news, and television reports that have covered this. As such, there’s also been a trickling of criticism of why we would do business with MH, questions about the transactions, and simply, erroneous info about Quest on the blogosphere.
No, Quest is not a social gospel church. No, I’m not a socialist. No, we’re not an emergent church. No, I’m not an Angry Asian (OK, only sometimes). No, Quest is not a cult. No, I was not in a boy band in the 80s. Blah blah blah.
UPDATE: Guns. Let’s be honest. Roseburg and Umpqua Community College has come and faded. Our 36 hour collective frustration and fury is put to rest…until the next mass shooting. But then again, people with guns kill every day in all of our respective cities.
Whenever I or others advocate for gun control, some – without even listening or reading the whole article – construe it as “GUN ABOLISHMENT.” No, that’s not what I mean.
Update: It’s been a heavy and reflective week here in Seattle in light of the recent shootings at Seattle Pacific University (June 5, 2014). We have been mourning and hoping with SPU and grieving the passing of Paul Lee – the 19-year-old freshman student who I had a chance to meet once during his couple visits to the church I pastor. Two days ago (June 10, 2014), there was another school shooting at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Oregon.
Yes, another shooting.
How many shootings?
If you’re keeping count, that makes 74 shootings (wait for it…) at schools…since Sandy Hook Elementary (Newtown, CT).
Let that sink in. 74 school shootings in the past 16 months in America.
And yes, I understand the distinctions that not all 74 shootings were mass shootings like Newtown. According to CNN, 15 of those 74 shootings were similar to Newtown and the rest were shootings in schools that involved “personal arguments, accidents and alleged gang activities and drug deals.” It’s painful to speak to some teachers that I know (who mostly attend my church). For them, it’s not a matter of if…but when. Has this now become our new reality? Our new normal?
I am not suggesting we abolish guns altogether. Not at all. Please refrain from sending angry emails, or questioning my salvation, or telling me to “Go back home” or to “Move to Canada then.” I am asking that as we continue “the gun debate”, we – particularly the Christian community – ask the question:
Do we elevate the Constitution above all things, including the Scriptures, and our faith and love in Jesus. The commandments to Love God and Love People. If so, isn’t that idolatry?
And yes, yes, yes…we can’t hide the conversation of mental illness in the big picture and in connection with guns but as we discuss gun violence, we can’t avoid discussing guns. Which begs the question I ask in the original post below: What would Jesus do with guns?
What would Jesus do with guns?
Would he own guns? Sell guns? Perform miracles and multiply guns for 5000 people? Would he use guns? Would he ask his followers and disciples to own guns? I’m no expert on the topic of Jesus andguns but I do know Jesus and for this Jesus who encouraged people to “turn the other cheek” and gave encouragement to be “peacemakers”, my guess is that he wouldn’t be a member of the NRA.
I know that Jesus has many names but he is also the “Prince of Peace.” Right?
The sad truth is that guns and violence are no laughing matter.
Today only marks a week since the horrific mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School at Newtown, Connecticut. Even as of today, families are burying children and loved ones. A week later,we still can’t make sense of something so senseless.
When the shootings at Columbine took place in 1999 that left 70 shot and ultimately killing 13 people, I heard some pundits explain that we need not fear and that Columbine was going to be an isolated once-in-a-lifetime incident. Since Columbine, there have been 181 shooting at schools across the United States. 61 mass murders since 1982 and 6 alone here this year including one about 3 miles from our home that left 6 people killed on May 30, 2012.
We are now in the Lenten season and let me begin by first sharing the conclusion of my post in case you have an attention span of a 2-year-old:
Lent isn’t about you
or about what you’re giving up.
But we’ll get to that soon.
For those that might not be familiar with Lent, it is the 40 day period (not including Sundays) between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday that has traditionally been a time of preparation for those who were preparing for baptism and later expanded to include the larger Christian community. It marks a time of prayer, penance, repentance, humility, self-denial, and soul-searching as one draws closer to the Passion of Christ and ultimately, culminating in the celebration of the Resurrection. You can check out my sermon to get a crash course on the history of Lent – and how it started (likely) as a 2-3 day event and eventually became a 40-day rhythm by 325 AD at the Council of Nicaea.
I appreciate the Lenten season for many and various reasons. In fact, the Lenten season is important to me because it helps me create rhythm in my life – something especially helpful when busyness, chaos, randomness, clutter, and lots of noise inundate my life. I deeply appreciate Lent because it helps me prepare for Passion Week – the final week of Christ. And while we know Easter brings upon us the celebration of the resurrection, I am grateful that the Lenten season more thoughtfully and deeply prepares me for Crucifixion Friday or known by most as Good Friday.
This year, I’m choosing – along with some other things – to give up “coffee” during the Lent season. Trust me, for someone that runs a cafe, has his offices in a cafe, and has access toStumptown Coffee, this will certainly be a “test” of self-denial.
Several weeks ago, I had an extensive phone interview with a reporter from the New York Times about the growing popularity of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in the wide and nebulous net of “evangelical churches.” The reporter had come across one of my previous blog entries and contacted me.
The NY Times article came out today (February 2, 2010). You can click here or the image above to read the full article.
My hour interview was reduced to basically one quote:
“I don’t live for the Jesus who eats red meat, drinks beer and beats on other men.”