The Bivocational Reader


The End….for now!
July 20, 2007, 11:42 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

OK, time to deal with the fact that when a blog feels like a burden, it’s best to cut it loose. Besides, facebook is more interactive, right?!? Honestly I don’t have enough time just to read for fun anyway, so it’s best to move on. Thanks for any who’ve taken the time to read :).



Prophetic Voices
July 11, 2007, 4:30 am
Filed under: devotional

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“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images. It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.” –Hosea 11:1-4

My current Scripture reading is going through the prophetic literature as it parallels the Samuel-Kings accounts of all the good and bad kings of Israel/Judah. It’s a good reminder of the historical context of the prophets.

At times there is a lot of jarring anger and judgment that is still difficult for me to read. But you also come by passages like this one in Hosea, and you feel the utter betrayal and hurt even. So much for the notion of an impassive God.

It also reminds me that we can forget how poisonous our idolatries become in pushing us away from our source in God. Sure we don’t have gold, silver or wood statues anymore, but our idolatries are no less dangerous: money, power, sex, materialism, entertainment, etc. The prophets shake us out of our little assurances that “everything is OK” and “everyone else is doing it.” I may not like hearing it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need it!



The Zen of Fish
June 30, 2007, 8:36 pm
Filed under: foodie

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This past Monday I went to my first book signing which I heard was happening at Vroman’s Pasadena during an earlier interview on NPR. While I have been a sushi fan ever since moving to LA, this book promised to give an interesting historical tour of what was actually an earlier Japanese fast food. The author was also engaging and witty during most of his 45 minute presentation, self deprecating and yet authoritative and detailed in his research.

The book proves an interesting read, interweaving human stories through the California Sushi Academy (in LA incidentally) with a rich and seemingly twisted history of the foods that came together to give us sushi as we know it. And a lot of it has to do with how pre-refrigerator Asians (which pretty much constitutes most of human existence if you think about it) were able to safely preserve fish for eating for later.

The most practical thing from this was a bunch of postcards the author brought that had tips on “How to Eat Sushi.”  It pretty much rejects most of what I’ve learned about eating sushi from others:

1. Eat with your hands, not with chopsticks

2. Don’t use extra wasabi (and don’t mix it into your soy sauce either!)

3. Eat each piece whole and not in multiple bites–and eat it right away.

For more tips and interesting videos, you can visit www.TheZenofFish.com

All this made me consider rekindling my long lost relationship to sushi chef Ichi-san, who now works in Pasadena (used to be just a block down from where I lived!). But we’ll see if the budget will allow for that kind of “missional” relationship! 😛



Unless the Lord builds…
June 24, 2007, 5:28 am
Filed under: missional living

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Psalm 127:1 states: “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” Eugene Peterson reflects in A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, “Psalm 127 insists on a perspective in which our effort is at the periphery and God’s work is at the center.”

This statement made me realize how I use the phrase “church planting” to talk about my new ministry direction with others, but how it’s really a bit of a misnomer for how I really understand this whole process. I’d rather call it desiring to live missionally or “seeking the Kingdom in all I do” than church planting per se. I think church planting seems to assume that God is going to build this church, although the high body count of failed church plants would give anyone pause. Part of my paradigm shift is seeing that the order of priority should be this:

Kingdom (what is God doing in the world?) -> Mission (how do we come alongside what God is doing?)  -> Church (how do we organize ourselves?)

For a time I just assumed that church planting = Kingdom work.  But now I realize that that’s not always the case. We can church plant without great awareness of what God desires and is already doing, and build our own houses, that in the end are labors that were “in vain.”

One of the greatest implications this has for me is learning patience in the “church planting” side of things.  I can not look to those before me or besides me or more successful than me. I have to pay attention to what God is doing inside and outside of the church and encourage what may not be even beneficial to my bottom line. Seeking the Kingdom is learning where the Lord is building and being a part of it–not in control of it!



“I Lift Up My Eyes to the Hills…”
June 19, 2007, 1:43 pm
Filed under: devotional

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Now that I’m out of class, this blog will be more free ranging and hopefully more accessible for all you readers out there ;P. After all, part of my motivation for being bivocational is seeking to integrate my whole life and faith together.

“I lift up my eyes to the hills–where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Ps 121:1-2).

In my discipling group, we’ve been repeatedly reading the Song of Ascents, Psalms 120-134. It’s associated with pilgrim songs of ancient worshippers as they climbed up–“ascended”–to Jerusalem and the temple. And that above quote has been a great physical metaphor for me as I worship and pray. It reminds me of the humility we have as the created looking to the Creator, but also the great confidence that in looking to God we will not be disappointed. I’ve been finding lots of personal encouragement and ways to pray Scripture back to the Lord through these Psalms. Woop woop!



Emerging Churches, Chs. 9 & 10
May 21, 2007, 5:10 am
Filed under: emerging class

Although I’m no longer attending class, it’s best if I try and finish out the reading and do some of the reflection process.

Creating as Created Beings: This chapter really continues along that broader idea in the last chapter about being active participants. The focus on creativity is rooted in the fact that “God is by nature creative” (p. 175) and taking the Genesis narrative as a grand expression of what we can also become a part of, co-creating (something we can all do as human beings). And from soteriological/missional reflection we also are co-(re)creating (as people of the Kingdom), to be part of God’s redemptive work here on earth.

Personally, I’ve been entertaining how to use my passion for creating organic gardens in a way that can create beauty in urban concrete. Might need to be a non-profit work similar to one I’ve been volunteering at. But even though that might be down the road, I can see the need to be encouraging more creative avenues to both worship gatherings and ministry that go way beyond the usual limited gifts expressed in many of our churches. If we keep going back to the value that God has created us to be creators in our own right, then we can see a greater display of what God can do.

Leading as a Body–What I appreciated about this chapter was that there was a pluralism and divergence regarding leadership more than any of the other chapters. But it did seem that the charismatic single pastor/CEO model was definitely out as groups tried to chart new models that could be messy.

Our group was already rotating leadership of our inner circle, so that no one person is carrying the responsibility of the group. For my outer circle of church planting, I intend to work leadership responsibilities as a core group, as we look to include all the gifts of our gathered group, and through experimenting see what naturally (Spirit-led too) comes to the surface.



Week 8 Class Reflection
May 16, 2007, 4:35 am
Filed under: emerging class

We had a good discussion about the role of the arts in corporate worship. The discussion is actually very similar to stuff I talked about in college amongst the Christian art community. Many resisted the limiting “evangelistic” or didactic use of art. And yet, there was also a desire to be validated as artists in their Evangelical churches, which is why many were attracted to liturgical traditions. I think it’s a positive sign that we want to see more creativity in our churches, but we’ll be retreading a lot of the same discussions and tensions of the past.