"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15

Monday, December 26, 2011

God with us

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”  God with us.

“God with us”—is there any three words that hold greater grace and power?  Jesus saw fit to identify with us as man; facing human temptations, trials and pain, so that he could be one with those he came to save.  But if Jesus was simply a man he would have no power to save.  And so Jesus became a holy enigma—both wholly man, and wholly God for our sake.  “God with us.”  In those three words is wrapped the beauty, mystery and splendor of the incarnation—a love that extends infinitely beyond our comprehension.
Anyone who has ever sat on the bench, stood on the starting block, or peeked from behind the curtain before a show, knows that feeling of excitement and anticipation when you are about to fulfill a purpose.  I wonder if that was what Jesus felt like before entering the realm of humanity through the womb of a virgin girl.  Leaving the glory and splendor of Heaven; the eternal Son willingly left his Father and thrown to be born as a humble baby boy.  He replaced heavenly robes with strips of swaddling clothes, a majestic thrown with a feeding trough, and the company of angels for that of cattle.  How peculiar that the creator of the universe would choose to make his debut appearance displayed helplessly in a bed of hay.  Immanuel—“God with us.”  It’s as if God were saying, "I’m serious about this!"  Look how far I’m willing to go just to be with you—to be one of you.  And he would reach lower still.
It is hard to clearly grasp the concept of Jesus being both God and man…to really wrap our minds around “God with us.”  It’s far easier to lean to one side or the other.  But Jesus was a man—he bled, cried, hurt, and hungered.  He was God—he cast out demons, healed the sick, walked on water, and spoke with ultimate authority.  The book of John illustrates Jesus dual nature well.   When Judas brings a battalion of Roman soldiers along with the religious leaders to betray and arrest Jesus, he asks them, “Who are you looking for?” 

“Jesus of Nazareth,” They reply.

“I am he.

In this three word sentence, Jesus reveals his divinity.  “I Am”—the name of God first spoken to Moses in Genesis, and now as Jesus utters it—those who came in force to arrest him…stumble backwards and fall to the ground!  Such amazing authority!  Then, Peter hacks off a soldier’s ear, and Jesus simply picks it up, dusts it off, and hits the divine “edit undo” button.  Jesus scolds Peter, reminding him he could ask the Father for twelve legions of angels to protect him if he so desired.   And yet, he chose to hang on the cross instead.  Authority so great that the mouth that once spoke creation into existence now knocked men to their feet.   Humility so great, that he humbled himself to the point of handing over his life.  Humanity so real that when his heart stopped beating, he died.  Divinity so real, that three days later he conquered the grave and rose again!  What beautiful humility. 

Immanuel.  God with us.  There is no question of God with us, but rather us with God.  Jesus stooped as low as he could possibly go—the depths of Hell—in order to be with us—to save us.  If we desire to be with God we must humble ourselves as well, because that’s where Jesus is at. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Visiting a new church can be exciting and intimidating.  In my own experiences with other churches, I have found that in some, the visit becomes nothing more than sitting in a pew, one stranger lost in a sea of others.  Sadly, some churches are as cold and hard as their pews.  I have visited other churches however, where though I’m among strangers, there is the overwhelming warmness and reality of worshipping with family—these are my brothers and sisters in Christ.  The Holy Spirit that lives in and works through them is divinely evident, shining brightly.  As a congregation invites strangers in with warmth and welcome, the stranger experiences God in a very real way, because it’s the Spirit of God working through the church to touch the life of the person who has walked through their door.  I tell you, with that kind of love a stranger won’t remain a stranger much longer.   When the Holy Spirit is alive and moving within a church, there is no sense of strangers amongst strangers, but rather the beauty of oneness in Christ Jesus.

I had a friend in college who conducted a social experiment that every church should hear about.  He grew a scraggly beard, disheveled his hair, wore dirty, worn out clothing, and did not bathe.  Yeah, I know—isn’t that what most college guys do?  Well maybe, but the next part is not.  He went to several of the most influential churches in the city looking like a homeless man to see how they might respond.

One church greeted him warmly at the door, but didn’t do much beyond that.  In two others he was not spoken to at all; only met with confused and bewildered glances in one, and cold darting glances accompanied with whispers of “…who is that….what’s he doing here…he doesn’t belong here…” in the other.  In the last church, he was warmly welcomed, even being offered some money and an invitation to someone’s home for a warm meal following the service!  I know which church I would return to.

I wonder what I would have done.  How would I have responded?  Would I have squelched the Spirit within me and missed my opportunity?  How are we perceived to those who visit us as a church?  Do they see oneness and love, or strangers amongst strangers?  How will we respond to those who come through our door?

Jesus, the night he was arrested, after praying for his disciples…prayed for us.  “My prayer is not for them alone.  I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me.  May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:20-23   

Thursday, November 03, 2011

His Story

History.  What images does that word conjure up for you?  For some it brings up images of sleepy afternoons spent drooling on gratified school desks, staring blankly at a dusty chalk board, the dull hum of a dry lecture from a monotone teacher sneaking in their inattentive ears.  For others, the word summons movie screens of adventure projected on the wall of the mind; decisions—both good and bad—made by strangers of the past that directly affect their present.   For them, history is the earlier pages of a script they have a part in, a story still being told.

Do you see the big picture—that this life you live, this world you experience is part of a grand piece of art?  We are just single brush strokes on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel!  Being one brush stroke doesn’t make us insignificant, no, quite the contrary—this is where we find our significance—we are part of something bigger than ourselves, something beautiful!  Our lives have purpose; one scene in the ultimate story written by our creator. 

The great temptation is to let our eyes role back in their sockets so that we are inward focused, spending all our time centering on ourselves and concentrating on our own little stories; refusing to acknowledge the great story that God has invited us into.

Our church has been participating in the video series The Truth Project these last couple months.  A recurring theme continues to appear.  Man chooses to ignore the truth, instead governing himself by lies—he becomes his own authority; because to walk in truth means there is a higher authority than one’s own desires and opinions—the authority of God.  We are not in charge.  In our self-focus, we forget the Sovereignty of God—His ultimate authority.  He is the author of history.  He is in control.  Isaiah 46: 9-11 illustrates this point well.

9 Remember the former things, those of long ago;
   I am God, and there is no other;
   I am God, and there is none like me.
10 I make known the end from the beginning,
   from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
   and I will do all that I please.’
11 From the east I summon a bird of prey;
   from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose.
What I have said, that I will bring about;
   what I have planned, that I will do.

To deny God and his hand in history draws our focus onto ourselves.  If there is no God, then there is no purpose to life beyond what we individually desire to make of it.  “We live. We die. We become worm food. Game over. The end.”  There is no greater cause we are accountable to then our own pleasure, “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die!”  If there is no personal God to hold us accountable for our actions, we can manipulate history to tell us what we want to hear; rewrite it to teach others what we want them to believe.  Dr. Tackett, the tour guide through the truth project, uses the example of the Mayflower Compact.  Most of us in our History classes read the opening lines to be something to the effect of, “We whose names are underwritten…having undertaken, a voyage to plant the first colony…” but there are some key phrases missing.  “In the name of God, Amen.  We whose names are underwritten…having undertaken, for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith…, a voyage to plant the first colony.”  The whole story is not told.  It is left devoid of the true purpose…devoid of God.  What we are left with is an incomplete story, or in other words, a lie.  This is nothing new; the serpent in the garden hissed, “Did God really say you could not eat from any fruit in the garden?”  Satan revised history right from the beginning in order to convince Adam and Eve to believe what he wanted them to.

The Roman Guards who stood watch at the tomb of Jesus at the time of his resurrection were likewise encouraged to revise the history of the event.

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.’ Matthew 28:12-13

These are the two most significant moments in history.  One is a lie—bringing about sin and death—and the other is attacked by a lie—deceiving people from believing upon the Lord—the only one who saves them from sin and death! 

History is important to God.  Throughout scripture God continually tells his people to Remember!  When Israel forgot the things God had done, they began to walk their own paths, living out their own selfish stories, forgetting their purpose as the chosen people of God.  Their gratitude and obedience to God vanish with their dissipating memories of him.   Whether we actively revise history or passively forget what God has done, either way, we will begin to believe the lie that this life is about us. 

Pastor Skip has a question he continually asks us every Sunday: “So What?”  Why does this all matter?   Dr. Tackett states, we tend to forget the things we should remember…and remember the things we should forget!!!  When we make history into a little story about ourselves, neglecting to see God’s full picture, we tend to focus on the petty things—personal annoyances, personal injustices, personal preferences, personal privileges—these become the things of utmost importance.  This is unfortunate…because these are not the things of utmost importance to God.  God has a much bigger vision for us—to love God and love people (God’s greatest command) and to go and make disciples (the great commission).  How unfortunate when we allow little things to derail the train from pressing onward in the will of God.  The lost must be found, the blind must see, the deaf must hear.  Only when we look at life through Christ’s eyes (seeing the bigger picture) and not our own (self-focused as we are), will we begin to discover…and fulfill…our role in history—His Story.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Shape your culture

After standing at the base of that significant tree, I am sure those sweet, juicy bites of fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil sat like cement in the stomachs of Adam and Eve, sending up bile of bitter regret.  The irony of Satan’s lie is that he told them eating the fruit would make them just like God, yet they—the crown of creation—were already created in the image of God!  It is our sin that pulls us further from God and his image, further from what he intended us to be.  Satan’s lies will always pull us in the exact opposite direction of God’s intentions for us, yet his lies are enticing; so much so, that they often become the cultural norm.  The sweet fragrance of the vile fruit stills lingers in the air, and oh, how quickly we grasp for it!

Speaking with a high school student recently, it was obvious how great this cultural pressure weighs on him.  He feels desperately alone as he strives to live a life pleasing to God, and often wonders how he could ever make a difference in this overwhelmingly evil culture.

I’m encouraged that Jesus has used individuals to drastically change culture, pulling people back to the ways of the one whose image they bear.  Jesus tells us that just a little yeast can permeate the whole dough.  Throughout history, we have seen a few people change their world.

I have been reading an excellent book, Why not Women, by Loren Cunningham, founder of Youth with a Mission.  It’s a book that examines God’s word, and history to see how God has used women in ministry, and examines difficult texts concerning women in roles of leadership in the church.  In it, Loren shares some examples of men and women who have transformed their culture.  Here are some examples.

William Wilberforce pursued the cause of abolishing slavery in England for thirty years in parliament.  The law passed the year after he passed away. 

Though the image is absurd to us now, the pubs of England used to have stepping stools for children to order their gin!  General William Booth and the Salvation Army fought against this cultural norm.  It was Christians who spoke out against the atrocity of child labor as well.  In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, children were used in Britain’s mines to do long hours of intense work.   The reason being, if a mine collapsed, children were the cheaper beast of burden—much less expensive than a valuable horse.  Christian’s refused to allow the image of God to be stripped from these children, standing against this inhuman treatment. 

In 1819, after a Spiritual awakening in Geneva, Switzerland, Henry Dunant and some people from his church formed a group to actively serve those dying on the battlefield of war.  Before this point, wounded soldiers were left to die.  This group is what we now call the International Red Cross.

Even within the church, there have been cultural norms that needed to be changed.  A man named William Carey became convinced that God was calling him to bring the Gospel to India, yet this was not something that was done in his day.  When he told the leaders of his denomination his desire, one replied, “…When God pleases to convert the heathen, He’ll do it without consulting you or me.”  William did go to India, and others followed suit, bringing the Gospel message to many other nations as well.

As we look back over history, it is enraging to see the state of what was culturally normal.  Yet, a few people following the Spirit of God transformed their culture.  At times, we may feel we are in the minority as we stand for the Truth, but one person walking with God will always outnumber a thousand walking with lies.


The last two weeks of August, I spent camping along the North shore of Lake Superior.  Excitement filled me like a natural helium…I’m sure I was floating two feet off the ground.  But my balloons quickly popped.  Very rarely is there a convenient time to lock your keys in your car.    The first evening I stopped to buy some groceries in Two Harbors.  When I got back to my car and reached for the door handle, the door didn’t respond the way I expected it to.  No squeaky hinges opening.  It was locked—as were the other doors.  They were still locked when I walked around the car another five times to check each door again.  The simple truth is I could jiggle the handle all I wanted, but without the key, I wasn’t getting in.

Many times in life we rush towards our big decisions, but we are destined to crash into a closed door because we forgot the key.  Prayer is our spiritual key.  Perhaps we see no better example of this then in Mark 9 starting at verse 14.

Jesus was walking and in the distance he saw a large crowd.  In the middle of the crowd were some of his disciples, and the religious leaders were arguing with them.  When the people see Jesus in the distance they run to him.

“What are you arguing with them about?” he asks.

A man answers Jesus, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech.  Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”

“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me” (vs. 17-19).

When the demon sees Jesus, it becomes violent; throwing the boy to the ground…he is convulsing, rolling around, and foaming at the mouth.  When Jesus asks how long this has been happening, we learn that this is a normal day in the life of the boy—he has been tormented by this demon since he was a young child.  It is such a serious situation that the demon has actually attempted taking the boy’s life by throwing him in fire and water.  The father’s plea is desperate,

“…if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us” (vs. 22).

Do you find yourself approaching Jesus the same way?  “Jesus, if you can, could you help me?”  Do we attempt to limit God-sized answers with human sized expectation?  Do we really believe that God can answer our prayers?

“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus responds.  “Anything is possible if a person believes.”
I think there is a lot we can learn about belief in the father’s response.
“I do believe, but help me not to doubt.”

We often associate belief with our heads—beliefs are something we think.  But our actions, behaviors and choices show our true beliefs.  Though it was hard for this man’s head to ‘believe’ that Jesus could help, he chose to trust.

After Jesus drives out the demon his disciples ask him why they could not.  They have driven out others, so why not this one?  This demon was different—it was deaf and mute.  Jesus said that this kind can only be cast out by prayer.

Just as this boy was held captive by this deaf and mute demon, Satan holds the world captive to his lies, deafening their ears to truth.  We can be captive to the lies as well.  Sometimes we choose not to listen to truth.  It's easier to believe the lies.  Prayer is the key to freedom.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Follow me

The theme at New Life bible camp this summer came from Isaiah 43:19, which says,

19 For I am about to do a brand new thing.
      See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
   I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
      I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

In this passage God is speaking to his chosen people, Israel.  The people were in captivity, bound from the freedom they once knew. These were the consequences for their idolatry, but God chose to save them, showing them his greatness and love, something their idols could never do.  Not only did they face physical captivity, but God was showing them that idols bring spiritual bondage and that only he could break their chains and set them free.

Though our idols may not be made of wood or stone, we’ve all turned to idols and felt the sting of its consequence.   We’re all in desperate need of the living God who can do a new thing in our lives.  We all need the freedom that only he can bring.

Idolatry comes in many shapes.  I think of the story of the rich young ruler in Luke 18.  Here is a young man who wants to experience something new!  He asks, “Good teacher, what must I do to get eternal life?”
Jesus’ response is not what I would expect.  “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “Only God is truly good.  But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother.’”

What is in this response?  First he says that only God is good.  And then he lists off a few commandments—laws that if we could obey, would make us good.  It is interesting that Jesus chose to use the commandments that deal with relating to other people.

The young man believed that he had kept all these commands his whole life.  But didn’t Jesus also say that if you look at a woman with lust, you commit adultery?  If you have anger in your heart, you are guilty of murder?  Sin is not just the things we do; it’s the condition of the heart.  Jesus had to help this young man see that.

Jesus said, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

After telling the young man to obey the commandments to treat others right, Jesus strikes to the core with an impossible challenge—sell all you have and give it to the poor.  The mask is off, the condition of the young man’s heart is revealed.  He could believe that he was doing pretty well—on the surface he was keeping the commandments and living a holy life, but when he had to give something up for the sake of others…well, that was something else completely.  The idol of his heart was revealed.  Leaving his treasures behind was a challenge too great.

Why would Jesus respond in these ways—asking this young man to do the impossible?  This reveals a truth to us all.  We’re all in the same spot as that rich young man.  The young man asked what he must do to receive eternal life, and by naming the impossible, Jesus made it clear that there was nothing he could do.  None of us can do anything to earn eternal life—we just can’t be good enough.  But Jesus said to this young man that only God is good…and we know that Jesus is God!

After challenging with the impossible, Jesus offers a simple invitation.  Follow me.  Because it’s impossible for us to be good, we must follow the only one who is.  We are utterly dependent on him “What is impossible for man, is possible for God.”

This person is left with the same decision all people must face.  Whom will I follow?  To what will I cling?  Will I lord my life, and bow to my wealth and idols, or will I will I recognize true faith as dependence on the only one who brings eternal, life--starting now.    

Jesus says, "Follow me."  the story ends with the young man's head drooped in sadness as he walked away.  Which direction does the story go for you?  For me?  

Who will you follow today?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Its not about me

At the end of July twelve youth and leaders hopped into a 15 passenger van and a suburban anticipating a week of seeing God move in and through us; impacting a community that lives a life of poverty foreign to us.  My very white, middle class, small-town youth group made its way to NE Minneapolis. God, in his faithfulness, did move in us and through us, and opened our eyes to some new things about ourselves.

I was nervous about this trip.  I stressed about funds—could we raise enough money in time?  Stressed about unity—would the two youth groups meeting for the first time on this trip get along?  Stressed about the unknowns—what is this all going to look like?  Stressed about our youth’s engagement—will my group enjoy themselves, will they jump in and participate?  I was stressed about what God would do…and what he would ask me to do—God, will you show yourself this week, and will I be willing to join you in what you are doing in NE Minneapolis?  But God revealed to me that all of these concerns funneled down to one point—ME. What will people think about me if this trip is a flop?  I’m responsible for this trip and so if things don’t go just right, I’m the failure. 

I was sitting upon a self-focused thrown, concerned about the praise of others, but this wasn’t my mission trip—it was God’s.  It wasn’t for my glory, but for his.  Even if I failed, God could not. 

As we presented the gospel to children this week, we were challenged to help them see that sin is not just the bad things we do like lying and disobeying our parents—it’s the condition of each and every person’s heart—a condition that we are born with.  It is making ourselves king of our lives instead of making Jesus our king.  Its making this life about me.  God challenged me in that this week.  For a trip with the purpose of focusing my heart on God and others, I sure was spending a lot of time thinking about myself!  How easily I could have missed out in truly ministering to people in my pursuit of fabricating the perfect mission trip product for our youth to consume.

I can’t help but think of Jesus inviting the little children into his presence.  His disciples wanted to turn the children away.  Maybe they were concerned that Jesus wouldn’t look “professional” enough—that he couldn’t take care of the really important things if a bunch of snot-nosed kids were clinging to him.  But it wasn’t about the disciples, or the way Jesus looked to others.  It was about who Jesus is.  He is love, and he desired to show children the depth and beauty of his love.  This was the purpose of our trip too—to show children the love of Jesus Christ.  The trip was not about me, it was all about bringing children to the lap of Christ.

On your Facebook profile page there is a section where you can write a bit about yourself titled “about you.”  One of my friends simply wrote, “It’s not.”  This life is not about me.  As Christian’s we are never to be a bright neon sign blinking “Look at me!” but rather a  shining city on a hill illuminating the glory of Jesus Christ, it’s ruler.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fishers of Men

Being the program director at New Life bible camp forces me to ask myself what the purpose of our camp is.  Two weekends ago was Men and Boys retreat.  Old gray headed men and dirty faced little boys both enjoyed spending time with friends, playing games, worshiping, and learning new things together.  There was plenty of great food, a few games of horse shoes, golf, baseball, archery, laughter, and campfire stories—all in all, it was a great weekend

Camp is a fun place for me, filled with a lot of fond memories, but if that is all that it is, I’ll miss out on an eternally significant purpose.  As I think about the purpose of camp, I think back to the illustration Pastor Skip has used of two different types of ships—the cruise liner and the battle ship.  We can look at camp as a cruise liner—a fun and relaxing place to visit for a while, or we can look at it as a battle ship—a ministry with an intense and urgent mission, a tool fighting for the souls of men.

I have an opportunity to invite men, women and children to camp this summer; a place where they might for the first time hear the message of a God who loved them so much, he came down to earth to die on their behalf, inviting them into eternal life with Him.  We then have the opportunity to continue building relationships with these people, inviting them into our church family.  In doing this, camp becomes more than another summer vacation opportunity; it becomes a chance for us to invite people into an eternal saving relationship with their creator, and into continual fellowship with a body of believers.  That’s a perspective with purpose.

The speaker at Men and Boy's retreat shared with us an illustration about the Titanic that he took from a book by Ron Hutchcraft.  The “unsinkable” ship brought death to 1500 people that fateful evening April 15, 1912.  Though there simply weren’t enough life boats for the amount of passengers on the Titanic, the sad truth is that even still, most of the boats rowed away from the sinking ship less than half full.   Many people desperately cried out “Help me!” as they splashed frantically in the frigid water begging to be saved, but shockingly, those in the life boats paddled past the desperate cries.

3 days later when funeral ships returned to the scene of the horrific event, 328 frozen bodies were found floating in life jackets.  These people did not die because a ship sank.  They died because those who could have saved them refused to help. 

There is a healthy dose of perspective in this illustration.  As Christians, do we recognize we sit in a life boat amidst thousands of drowning souls?  Countless people all around us are perishing without the hope of Jesus Christ, yet most Christians paddle by, concerned to take the risk of reaching out with truth.  Will you? 

We are not on a comfortable cruise, we are on a rescue mission!  I pray we remember our purpose and that we live it out.   Are we extending our hands to those drowning in the water, or are we paddling away from there cries for help?  Jesus called his disciples to be fishers of men.  Let’s pull drowning souls into the hope that we have.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The mat or the miracle

It is illegal to eat a hamburger in St. Cloud on a Sunday.  Why?  …I don’t know.  My guess is at one point in time there was some legitimate reason for such a law, though I could never guess what that might be.  Laws generally don’t just happen—most often there is a reason.

My guess would be that if you were to go to McDonald’s in St Cloud on a Sunday, there wouldn’t be an officer waiting outside the door saying, “Excuse me, I’m going to have to see what you have in that bag.”  The law carries no benefit.  Avoiding hamburger on Sundays will not make a person into a better citizen of St. Cloud. 

In the bible, we see that the Jewish religious leaders made up many of their own rules to help them keep God’s laws.  For example, God’s law said, “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy”.  The Pharisees added 1500 other laws to this one in order to help them keep the Sabbath holy!  But here is the problem: those rules became so important to them; they became equal to scripture itself.  They missed the heart of God’s law, and reduced it into a bunch of rules that if followed, would make them better than the next guy.

In John 5, there is a man who lies on a mat by the pool of Bethesda.  For 38 years he has been lame, unable to walk on his own.  The bible doesn’t reveal much about this pool, but apparently it was believed to have healing powers.  For this man to be so close to this pool, yet unable to walk to its waters must have been an unbearable heartbreak.  And then, one day, he meets Jesus.

 “Would you like to be healed? … Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”

After 38 years, to stand once again, to take your first steps, to feel the ground beneath your feet--what an amazing moment!  But somehow…the Pharisees missed it.  This man had picked up his mat and was carrying it.  By the Pharisees rules, that’s work, and you cannot work on the Sabbath!  Their self-righteous rules blinded them to the miracle of Christ!  A man who hadn’t walked for 38 years was standing right in front of them, and all they saw was the mat in his hand. 

Do you see the irony?   The original intended purpose of their rules was to help them be close to God, but their rules prevented them from accepting the Son of God who was right there amongst them!  After all, why would they need Jesus to make them holy if they could do it on their own by following some rules?

We may look at these laws and laugh at their foolishness, but I think it would be wise to ask ourselves—do we do the same things?  It is pretty easy to cast a judgmental eye on those who don’t fit the mold of our North American Christian culture—those who don’t bow to our churchy rules.

The issue is not obeying a bunch of rules; it’s honoring and loving Jesus Christ.  We must always remember that nothing we can do—no rules we obey; no customs or traditions we practice—can ever earn us right standing with God.  When we think that, we become like the Pharisees who missed out on the one who came to save them.  They were too busy trying to do it themselves.

Let’s not stare at the mat and miss the miracle.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

This world has nothing for me

This week I have at least one thing in common with dirty dish water.  We're both drained (neither smell nor look that great either, but I did say at least one thing in common).  I am drained physically, emotionally, and spiritually--exhausted, frustrated, distracted, stressed, disappointed.  It is amazing how the enemy, and I mean the real Enemy, can quickly derail us and pull our focus from the things that matter.  My created purpose far exceeds my temporary disappointments and distractions, yet these things can blindside me and pull me off track.  So how does one deal with the pains that come with living the human life?  I have no magical platitudes that make pain dissolve away; no special incantations to erase the gnawing scars of depression that some of us face.  The truth is, life is a bummer sometimes.  With the wisdom of a bumper sticker--though tamed down to a G rating--crap happens.  The only thing I can say is that when this world hurts, I must remember I am not created for this world.  I find comfort in directing my focus back to the truest satisfaction. This doesn't make my hurt vanish, but it offers perspective when I see my pain next to the grandness of God.  The infinite Creator towers over my biggest hurts.  God is always faithful.  If He weren't, He couldn't be God--He would be acting against His very character.  He knows pain, and He is with me in mine.

We sang a song called Rescue in church today.  God knew I needed it before I did.  God has brought this song to me at key moments in my spiritual journey; moments of pain and loneliness, and it helps me gain perspective once again.  I hope it encourages you like it does me.

So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. 1 Corinthians 15:58

Friday, April 01, 2011

Clutching to Purpose

When we first step into a new job, the boss generally hands us some papers that explain our job description.  This description lends guidance, gives purpose, and help us stay focused.  John the Baptist was an incredibly focused man.  I'm sure locusts and wild honey make good brain food, but his focus comes from a place deeper than his morning breakfast.  Isaiah 40:3 prophecies of John's purpose hundreds of years before his birth saying,

"Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting,'Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord!  Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!'"

In Luke 1, the angel Gabriel spoke of John's purpose to his father, Zechariah, before John was even born.  Talk about job description--written in prophecy and spoken from the lips of an Angel!  But even with such a grand calling, John was a human being.  Luke 1:15 says that John was filled with the Holy Spirit even before he was born.  He needed the Holy Spirit's guiding to keep him focused on his purpose--keeping the important things in the foreground and letting everything else fade to peripheral.  

The whole purpose of John's ministry was to baptize people as an outward sign of their repentance so that they would be ready for the coming Messiah--Jesus.  "Repent!  For the Kingdom of Heaven is near!"  

Shortly after John baptizes Jesus, Jesus' disciples begin to baptize people too.  You would think that John's disciples--his right hand men--would surely understand why it is they do the things they do, yet when they see that Jesus' disciples are also baptizing, they get a bit jealous.  "...Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him." (John 3:26).

The implications here are huge.  I am sure these disciples had great intentions, and they were doing a great thing, yet they completely missed the point!  Their job was to point towards Jesus, yet when the people went to Jesus...they became jealous!  They forgot the purpose of their ministry in the first place!  But John never did.  His response is, "...He must become greater, I must become less"(John 3:30).  John continually recognized that his purpose was to direct hearts toward the Messiah.

In ministry, it is critical to get in the habit of stepping back, examining our programs, and asking, "Now, why is it that we are doing this again?"  It would be foolish for the UPS man to drive from place to place with nothing to deliver.  We too must continually make sure our purpose hasn't fallen from the truck!

As Christians, do we keep our purpose at the forefront of our minds?  Like John's disciples, we might be doing all the right "stuff", but if we aren't pointing others towards Jesus, we've missed the point.  We've lost our purpose.  It's time to focus!  He must become greater, we must become less.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Silly babies

I love kids.  There is something very therapeutic in watching children.  All the distractions, anxieties, and problems of the day fade away, and you are reminded to laugh.  Being around children brings me into a state of worship because I feel God's utter delight in the beauty of his little ones.  I needed a pick-me-up today.  Thank you silly babies. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Reasons I love my job

1. Last night before youth group started, one of the little girls from Awana gave me a drawing she had made.  There is no more precious gift in all the world than a drawing by a child.  It hangs proudly in my office :)  I love the children at my church.  They are a precious gift from God.

2. Last night after youth group, I prayed with a young guy who really wants his life to be fully committed to the Lord.  It is so exciting witnessing a young person who gets it.  Its so encouraging, because it serves as a strong reminder to look at my own priorities--not just what I say my priorities are, but what priorities come out in the way I live.

3.  I have amazing youth leaders.  I still have so much growing to do!  I am so rough around the edges, and in a lot of ways, I'm still pretending that I know what I'm doing.  One thing I am very poor at is leading my leaders--defining their role and giving them direction.  I need to work on that, but thank God, I have a bunch of go-getters!  My leaders have really made this their own, and are bringing their giftedness to their roles in their own unique ways.  There is a girls all nighter coming up that I have had no part in planning.  Its going to be a great event thanks to the awesome ladies leading.

4.  I get to spend time with some of the coolest people I've ever met--real godly, wise leaders that enjoy spilling their wisdom into me--like Pastor Skip, Larry, our Shepherd team, and my Youth Pastor friend,Tim.  I also get to minister alongside my peers and watch how God moves as we gain from each others strengths.  I'm enjoying growing in friendship with these partners in ministry--Dustin and CJ mean more to me than they know.

5.  My youth group.  Sometimes, during games, I'll just pause and look out over the youth that God has given us, and smile.  These are amazing people, each in a different place with Jesus, but each of us desperately needing him.  I love them all, and pray that Christ will continually grow that love ever deeper.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"What's love got to do with it?"--exercising spiritual gifts in loving unity

I don't know yet how to post audio to my blog.  So until I find a way, here is the sermon I preached this last week in written form.

If someone had explained to me ahead of time how much work a canoe trip would be, I probably would have never gone on one.  Canoe trips are a curious thing.  You are sun burnt, tired, sweating, hungry, and thirsty.  Your muscles ache, and you are continually surprised by the unique places you discover wood ticks on your body.  Paddling across the lake, I would begin to long for the shore so I could be free from paddling, but when you get to shore, you hoist on your packs and portage your canoes to the next lake—the whole time thinking, “I can’t wait until I get back in the canoe so I can be free from carrying all this stuff!”  Even with all this—with stepping from the canoe into two feet of mud, falling into the lake with your camera, digging holes when you need to “take care of business”—the strange thing is…you kind of love it!

Canoe trips provide a person an opportunity to discover what they are really made of.  They are an opportunity to grow in skill and character.

But the thing I love most is the bond that is formed with other people.  You become reliant on one another.  You support and encourage each other.  Each person has their task—digging the latrine, getting the fire going, boiling water, pitching tents, preparing the food—each person must do their part to make the trip successful.

If you want to grow close to a group of people quickly, a canoe trip is a good way to do it.  Having common goals, a task to share—the need to rely on one another; these are the things that bring people together.

Skip has been talking about Spiritual gifts the last few weeks. Here are a few that the bible mentions—apostles, prophets, teachers, those who do miracles, those who have the gift of healing, those who can help others, those who have the gift of leadership, those who speak in unknown languages (1Corinthians 12:28).  We know that at least some—if not all of these gifts are present in this church.  How?  Because there are Christians in this church, and each believer is given spiritual gifts by the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12 :4-7 says, “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord.  God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.  A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.”  Our spiritual gifts are not for our own benefit, but for the benefit of the entire church.  They work best when used together.  In many ways being the church is a lot like a canoe trip.  We face many challenges, and just like a canoe trip, if we desire to journey successfully—bringing glory to God—we need to be a united team.

When believers stop simply going to church, and instead become the Church, we find a bond that is unbelievable!  It is a unity like no other—bound in the Spirit, united in serving each other through our spiritual gifts—living to bring glory to Christ!

Why is unity so important?  Hours before Jesus was to die, he prayed for us—you and I.  John 17:20-21 say,   “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.  I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.  We were on Jesus mind right before he was betrayed to death.  Our unity is that important to Christ!  Through using our gifts to the benefit of the church—we fulfill Christ’s prayer for us.  Our unity is purposed so that the world will believe on Christ!

However, our own selfish desires can trump out this kind of unity.  “Spiritual gift” unity is others-focused.  Our selfish, flesh inclination is to be self-focused.  The sad truth is that often the world doesn’t see our unity, but our division.  In the Corinthian church, even the Lord’s Supper—something meant to unite all believers in the body and blood of Christ—had become a selfish act!  It was celebrated with a feast, and some were scarfing it all down before the others even arrived!  They were creating division with no care of it.

But in the following instructions, I cannot praise you. For it sounds as if more harm than good is done when you meet together. 18 First, I hear that there are divisions among you when you meet as a church, and to some extent I believe it. 19But, of course, there must be divisions among you so that you who have God’s approval will be recognized!—1 Corinthians 11:17

            Our flesh will quickly sacrifice unity on the altar of self-satisfaction.  Who cares if there is unity…just as long as I get my way!

Let’s break this down, shall we?  1st Corinthians 8:1 shows us that love strengthens the church, while 1st Corinthians 12:7 shows this to be the purpose of our spiritual gifts—benefiting the body of Christ.   So…practicing our spiritual gifts for each other’s benefit is an act of love!  Jesus prayed for our unity so that the world will know God sent Him, and he also said his disciples would be known by their love, so…we are to be known by our love—a love that is practiced through spiritual gifts—spiritual gifts that unite us together!

All this is confirmed as we look at 1 Corinthians 13.  Why would a chapter on love be placed smack dab in the middle of two chapters on spiritual gifts?  Because the Corinthians needed to be told that love is the key ingredient to spiritual gifts.  Without love, there so called “spiritual gifts” were useless—they were self-serving rather than other- serving.

On one of my first canoe trips, one of my best friends—a novice at canoeing was in the canoe with another girl.  If you watched closely you could see that she was doing all the work.  My friend was simply dipping his paddle in the water, and allowing the current to pull it back.  It may have looked like he was paddling, but he wasn’t benefiting anyone!
In the same way, are we content to “look” the part for our own glory, or do we desire to work out our gifts to benefit the body of Christ?  Selfishness can mascaraed as the practice of spiritual giftedness, but if spiritual giftedness is not practiced in love, we are not acting from the Holy Spirit’s leading at all.
I never liked puzzles—they don’t make sense to me.  Why would you break a picture into pieces with the purpose of putting it back together again? 

The secret to enjoying a puzzle is that you have to be patient!  The fun isn’t just in seeing the final picture, but in the process of getting there.

The church body is like a puzzle—some pieces you know exactly where they fit—their purpose is clear.  Others are still searching for their place in the picture.  But each of us has a purpose—we each contribute to making the final picture.  If a piece is missing the picture is incomplete!

I find it exciting that right now in our own church, people are stepping in to new roles, excited to put their giftedness to use in benefiting this body of believers.  If we are faithful in this, God will grow us into a stronger church.  But there will be hiccups along the way.  We will fall short at times.  Sometimes we will act out of our own selfish flesh rather than the Spirit of God.  It is a continual process fitting our puzzle together.  Like with any puzzle, as we fit our giftedness together, we need to be patient with one another.  Ephesians 4:2 says, “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.”

When we click all of our pieces together, our unity makes an astounding image—that of Jesus Christ.  Bound together in the body of Christ—what an unshakable unity, what a beautiful gift!  What an amazing love.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Best Wedding Blunder

Last weekend I was at a wedding. The bride stood elegantly at the front--full of confidence, excitement and beauty. The groom stood at the front--sweating, clammy, knees bent as to prevent fainting. It was beautiful. I love weddings! They are a time when the sacred collides with the common--two individuals becoming one flesh before God in holy matrimony, and yet has anyone ever been to a wedding where everything went perfect? Nervousness abounds, people faint, unity candles refuse to light, awkward speeches are made, the flower girl picks her nose...

We've been looking through the life of Christ in Youth group. Last week we looked at Jesus visiting a wedding in Cana (John 2:1-12). Like every other wedding in history, things didn't go exactly as planned. Jesus' mother comes to him and says they have ran out of wine. Considering that weddings were week long celebrations in Jesus' time, this is no small blunder. There are several lessons we can take from Jesus' response to this problem. Jesus says,

“Woman, why do you involve me?”...“My hour has not yet come.”(John 2:4)

Interesting response. I admit I don't fully understand it. We don't know exactly what Mary expected Jesus to do, but apparently she believed that Jesus could do something. Yet, Jesus responds, "Its not my time yet." This is a good reminder to us--sometimes we may have good questions, good goals, good desires, but when we bring these things to God we must always remember that His time table is not our own. It might not be time yet.

Mary tells the servants of the wedding to do whatever Jesus tells them to do. This is where the next lesson I see in the story comes. The servants could panic, they could run searching the town for wine to share, they could admit defeat apologizing emphatically. Instead they go to Jesus, listening to and obeying him--even when he suggests something strange! When things get tough where do you run? Do you take it to Jesus first? Do you lean in faith on the arms of Christ?

And then Jesus does something amazing. His time has come! The servants fill six stone jars with water to the brim. Jesus tells them to dip a cup, pull it out, and bring it to the master of ceremonies. What was once water is no longer. It is transformed into wine. That's significant--Jesus doesn't make water into really good water, and he's not offering watered down wine either (Koolaid really wasn't an option back then). He turns water into wine. Jesus is in the transformation business. This is the third lesson I offer. Are we like water made to wine? Have we been transformed? I hope when people encounter me I give off a sweet fragrance and flavor that points out the transforming miracle Christ has worked in my life.

The last lesson is found at the end of the story. verse 11 says,

"What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him."

Didn't the disciples already believe in Jesus? In the previous chapter we here them call him "Messiah" and "Son of God". Before they believed because John the Baptist had pointed Jesus to them, or because they had spent time talking with Jesus themselves. Now they had seen what Jesus could do. We may believe on Christ because he was once pointed out to us, or because we have heard his words. The more time we spend with Jesus, however, the greater our belief becomes because we become witness to the worker of miracles.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

All the single pastors

Two great articles

Sometimes writing a blog post is not necessary because someone else has said exactly what you would like to say.  All I can say in response to these two articles is YES!

Well, and I guess this...

I do not feel called to singleness as a life style.  I actually hope to be married some day with a house full of children.  I do, however, hate the pressure I often feel as a single pastor to "get the ball rolling."  Now, to speak fairly, I don't think my married friends realize the pressure they place on me or how painful it can feel to a single person when their singleness is spoken of as something that needs to be corrected.  But it is painful.  I advise those of you who are married to examine your own hearts and see if you hold prejudice towards singleness.   I do believe, and I think I have pretty good company with 1 Corinthians 7, that singleness--like married life--can be a great gift from God.  I confess that I miss out on that gift all to often because my focus shifts from how I can be using this time of singleness for the glory of God to how can I fix this singleness problem.  That's really unfortunate.  I don't think I am the only person that struggles with that mindset.  I do think that the church can help cure these wrong ideas.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


I have two younger sisters.  I couldn't be more proud of each of them.  I am constantly being challenged by their love for God and humble submission to the Spirit's leading in their lives.  It has been a treat to watch them grow up and see the ways God has--and is--using them.  Since I'm the oldest, I often feel as if I'm supposed to be the spiritual example, but I'm learning so much from them.  They both blog here and here.

Lyss works with a ministry called Living Hope in NE Minneapolis.  She reaches out to young people who have seen things I can only imagine.  Poverty, violence, and brokenness are a reality to these kids, but because Lyss has experienced the living hope of Jesus Christ, she and the ministry she is a part of bring hope to what the world would call hopeless and helpless.  To get an idea of Alyssa's heart, check out this blog post.

I would invite you to consider how you might partner with the ministry of Living Hope.  If you feel stirred to support Lyss or Living Hope financially, through prayer, or in any other way, you can find more info at Lyss's blog.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Behavior is to Belief as Belief is to Behavior?

When we were wild, rambunctious children it may not have been unlikely that at some point we heard our parents say, "I can't believe your behavior!?!?!"  As we get older, there are times when we examine our own lives and say the same thing.  "I can't believe I did that!"  I think that often we default to think that our behavior flows out of what we believe, and this is true; our world view will determine the way we live our lives down to our most basic behaviors.  But often our sinful natures will cry out the exact opposite.  Not " I can't believe I behaved this way" but "I can't bend my behavior to this belief".  What happens when a deep-seated stronghold of a behavior stands in opposition to our world view?  Either the behavior has to change or the world view has to.

Behavior can determine ones world view.

I read a really interesting article on Christianity Today' website called Unreasonable Doubt, dealing with those un-admitted reasons why some people become atheists.

Romans  1:19 states clearly that God has made plane to man what can be known about Him.  And yet, many are strongly convinced that God is nothing more real then the Easter bunny.  How is that?

The answer comes prior in Romans 1:18.  It speaks of how we are capable of suppressing truth through wickedness.  Literally our behavior snuffs out the truth so that we are incapable of seeing it.

I see this happen in me.  I find that the more I've given in to certain sins over time, the more comfortable I become with them...so much so that I begin to wonder why I thought the behavior was so wrong in the first place.  I'll shrug it off, or maybe even go as far as to look at it as growing up..."maturing".  Maybe this is why so many people have a shift of world view in college.  A lot of college-aged "self discovery" is nothing more than embracing moral depravity and not recognizing sin for what it really is.

We may ask ourselves how it was possible for Christians in this country at one time to own slaves.  Does the Christian world view promote such behavior towards other human beings?  Slaves were useful and slavery was common.  Behavior determined belief.  People were so numb to the sinful dehumanization of slavery that they didn't believe what they were doing was wrong.

How could Germany have supported the Nazi regime?  How did it get to the point that people were cooked in ovens and gassed in showers?  Behavior eventually changes belief.  Its much easier to treat someone that way when they aren't human.

This is a profound truth that we need to recognize.

I think we all have our little pet sins that we like to nurture and feed, hold in our laps and scratch their bellies.  Sure we know that they can be naughty little mutts--barking out against what we say we believe, but they are manageable; they can be hidden and muzzled when needed.  Though these pet sins are perceived as small, they are ferocious dragons ready to overpower both us and the world view we claim.  If we hold on to these "little" pets to long, pretty soon we become enslaved to them,  unaware of how foolish we look walking around on the wrong end of the leash.

Sin can't be managed.  Don't walk your pet sin around on a leash; take the leash and make a noose.  Sin needs to be killed.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Its only cute when babies do it

Have you ever been having a lovely conversation filled with keen insights, good humor, jovial laughter, and then, out of the blue you say, "Hey, I wonder how much of my foot I can fit in my mouth?"  Today I put my foot in my mouth.  My whole foot.  I have a size eleven mouth.  There is a reason saying something stupid and hurtful is called "foot in mouth"--it leaves a nasty taste like sweaty gym sock.  I felt awful.  I've offered my apology, and through grace have been forgiven.  Now its not that I haven't munched my toes ever before (anyone who knows me well also knows I'm capable of saying stupid things) but I hope I've learned my lesson from this experience.  First, I will not be so quick to mutter idiot under my breath the next time someone else sucks their gym sock.  Second, I will be more careful with the reigns of my own tongue--such a wild beast to tame.  Lastly, when I do fail (which inevitably I will) I'll be quick to own up to my mistake and make things right by apologizing.

To any infant readers out there, suck your toes now.  It's not as cute when you're an adult.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

A tall man in a small shop

I love La Blogotheque's Take Away Shows.  What they do is record musicians playing their art in unlikely venues--tour buses, under bridges, up on roof tops, in hall ways, on the street, and in cramped music shops like the one in this video.  This creates an incredibly unique and intimate musical experience.  Sometimes a house show is just as stirring as a stadium of thousands.

Here is what La Blogotheque had to say about this performance by Kristian Matsson, otherwise known as "The Tallest Man on Earth".

"One catch: after soundcheck the day before, Tallest Man’s guitars were locked inside the NYC music venue, Town Hall, where he’d be playing later that night with Bon Iver. Solution: we’d have to shoot somewhere with a decent supply of guitars that he might borrow. A fan of music of all kinds, Jeff, the awesome, museum-quality proprietor of the legendary Music Inn on West 4th Street in Greenwich Village was happy to oblige. The staff took refuge downstairs, where they ripped through some take-out tacos while the Swedish guy played songs from his debut Shallow Grave. The Tallest Man, who inevitably gets talked about in terms of Dylan apparently had no idea he was playing just three doors down from where Dylan actually lived and just around the corner from where the cover photo of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan was shot."

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Blood Money

I watched the movie Blood Money this evening.  I left me swelling with emotion.  I am livid with anger, burning with empathy, and desperately saddened.  What really hurts in watching this movie is that one of the seventh grade girls from youth group--an innocent, joyful, young girl--came to see this movie and was exposed to the great evils of our country.  I am glad she saw it, but it hurts.  Because this sin so rampantly penetrates our society, it is necessary for young people to see truth, even gruesome truth. It is best that they know the truth now, so that they will be ready to take a stand for whats right when that time comes.  It rips out my heart that twelve year old girls are being extorted to make decisions to end life; facing unfathomable pressures from every angle--family, doctors, friends, counselors, and boy friends to terminate a life; facing these pressures from those who should be walking with them in their vulnerable, fearful place and supporting them in the difficult decision to preserve life.  Millions of lives destroyed because of a brilliantly crafted lie fueled by greed for money and the fires of hell itself. 

My anger does not lie with the women who have been deceived into taking the life of their child.  I deeply hurt for them, and desire to show them the love of the God who can forgive them and bring them the peace they need.  My anger is that so many are being deceived into believing such pure evil is good.  How can humanity, the image bearers of God, live out such evil?  This is our depravity, this is our condition without Christ.  My anger is with the deceiver and I want to penetrate his dark lies with the burning light of truth.

To think of the discarded body of a baby, an image bearer of God, in the bowl of a toilet; it ruins me.

  If you are a human being you need to watch this movie. 


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Oh Tom Sawyer, you rascal you...

Here is my latest graffitied thrift shop painting. 

Why did Tom Sawyer have to white wash the fence in the first place?

Conspiracy Theory: Tom Sawyer is Banksy.

For those of you who don't know Banksy, he is a famous, yet unidentified (until possibly now...we're onto you Sawyer...), street artist. You can visit his website here.

It was fun uniting my favorite artist with the stories of one of my favorite writers as a kind of tribute to both of them (though I'm not so sure either of them would necessarily appreciate the tribute). Also a tribute to Jim Daly. It is his painting I defaced, after all (I've colaborated with many a gifted artist this way...they just don't know it).

Banksy is part of a new documentary called Exit through the gift shop about street art, the commercialization of art, what makes art art, etc.  It's brilliant.  Like Banksy himself, the movie is enigmatic.  Its hard to tell if whats playing out is for real or a beautifully crafted hoax.  Personally, I don't care one way or the other. 

Hulu is streaming it here for free!  I warn that the movie is rated R; there is some course language, and, well...graffiti is illegal.