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Humility & Art

One of the greatest blessings of the Antioch community over the years has been the world-class artists God has brought us.

Our friends, Connie and Jason Gabbert, are one of the best examples. Not only are they award-winning designers, but they’re also amazing people and parents.

As a part of the series on The Fruit of the Spirit at Antioch, the art team produced the video below of Connie working on a piece centered around the theme of humility and gentleness.

It pretty much captures all that is awesome about Connie.

If you like art, or if you like the intersection of art and spirituality, treat yourself to the four minutes it takes to watch this.

Humility from Antioch Church on Vimeo.


Who Will Save the World from You and Me?

Photo Credit: Leonski, Creative Commons

Guest Post by Paul Louis Metzger

Have you ever met people with messiah complexes? Such individuals are scary. They often end up making a mess of things as they throw their good will around.

Unfortunately, I am often tempted to cultivate such a complex. I have to catch myself trying to help people who appear to be weaker and who seem to possess less resources than I, but yet who have not asked for my help. I am often blind to the fact that they are often relationally richer than I am and could help me in significant ways. Instead of trying to solve their problems for them, I need to share life with them, if they will take me.

No doubt you have heard stories of charitable endeavors where projects were started overseas but to no or negative effect. An African friend, Michael Badriaki, shared with me a story of how a European country provided genetically modified seed for African communities to use, even though they were told by the Africans that the seed would not grow, and it did not. Michael also shared with me how Westerners have built latrines in African communities, even though they were told the latrines would not be used because of uncertainties and fears regarding where the human waste would end up. The latrines have since gone to waste. The Westerners should have listened to the tribal peoples to see what they themselves claimed that they needed.

This overriding tendency on the part of the West is sometimes called “white man’s burden”: the propensity of many white Westerners to do good to people around the world by ruling over them. Such imperialism often parades with acts of charity. But the underlying motives are not charitable. As Michael says, many Westerners used to come with machine guns; now they come with briefcases—and with cell phones made with minerals they have mined in Africa at great profit to themselves.

I am so glad Jesus the Messiah did not have a messiah complex. If he did have such a complex, he would have fallen when tempted by the Devil and would not be able to save us. I believe Jesus’ time in the wilderness helped prepare him to listen and pray and wait on God rather than take matters into his own hands.

It is important that the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil for forty days prior to his public ministry (See Luke 4:1-2). The temptation was not an obstacle, but an opportunity for strategic spiritual growth and development. I believe Jesus went through severe testing (Luke 4:3-12) to prepare him for the challenges that lay ahead. Jesus had to die to any presumed messiah complex in order to be the true Savior of the world; those with messiah complexes end up destroying others because they possess the grand ambition to rule over them rather than listen to them and serve them.

Although Jesus passed each test, Satan never gave up. He planned to reappear at an opportune time and try again (Luke 4:13). The tempter’s aim was to get Jesus to seize control rather than depend upon and obey his Father’s will disclosed in Scripture and listen and live among the people in the midst of their suffering. Jesus had to experience what they did.  As the writer of Hebrews made clear, Jesus had to learn obedience through suffering (Hebrews 5:8). If Jesus were to be prepared as the Messiah to save the world, he needed to be delivered from various perks that reward strength and comfort over against weakness and suffering.

Those with messiah complexes come to save those around them; but like the religious leaders in Matthew 23, they end up making the beneficiaries of their good will twice the sons of hell that they are (Matthew 23:15).

Unlike messianic pretenders, Jesus has no delusions of grand military, economic or political conquest bound up with surpassing strength and a powerful personality. He operated far more robustly and strategically by holding firmly in humble dependence to God’s Word. In view of Jesus, humility, not hubris, is the mark of missional engagement.

It is striking how Jesus used Scripture to combat the Devil at every turn. Jesus did not depend on clever forms of argument or charisma and passion in his responses to the temptations, but Scripture. What do you and I resort to when we are under duress? Do we think we are invincible? Do we struggle with messiah complexes that favor ingenuity to the exclusion of prayerful and fast-filled dependence on God’s Word? Satan would have it that way.

In his testing of Jesus, Satan used various forms of temptation that address needs and desires such as the provision of food (Luke 4:3-4), ambition (Luke 4:5-8), and protection (Luke 4:9-12). It is recorded that in two of the temptations, the Devil challenged Jesus to prove he is God’s Son and perform miracles that will benefit him (Luke 4:3, 9): instead of trusting in God for his provision, Jesus was encouraged to turn stones into bread; he was also encouraged to throw himself down from the pinnacle of the temple so that God would deliver him.

What would have happened if Jesus had fallen for the tempter’s tactics? No doubt, he would have eaten well if he had turned the stones into bread (Luke 4:3-4). He would have received riches and honor and glory if he had bowed the knee to Satan (Luke 4:5-8). He might even have been protected, or at least would have protected himself, if he had thrown himself from a very high place (Luke 4:9-12). But Jesus would not have been able to save the world, only harm it, just like the various messianic pretenders; such autonomous acts aimed at saving the world have always led to the world needing further salvation. The only way to help is to depend on God, not oneself. Jesus demonstrated that he was the one and only Son of God, for he alone constantly depended on God, not himself.

All of the temptations in Luke 4 seem logical. After all, Jesus needed food to stay alive and accomplish his work and attain his goal. And wasn’t his goal to reign over the nations and kingdoms of the earth? Satan offered to get him to the top of the world by taking a shortcut—all Jesus had to do was bow the knee to him.

But what good would such actions of following the Devil’s advice ultimately do? Jesus would have disobeyed his Father, just like God’s son Adam in the Garden and God’s son Israel in the wilderness over forty years. No matter how many miracles Jesus could have performed, no matter how magnificent he could have revealed himself to be, it would all have been smoke and mirrors since he would not have been reflecting God’s character and obeying God’s will as God’s Son.

Jesus is God’s one and only Son. Even so, we are tempted to take matters into our own hands to try and prove we are God’s sons, too. Rather than respond to God’s call in obedience, we are prone to manipulate circumstances and seek to control our own destiny, and the destiny of others. In the short term, we may look as if we are doing all right when we are self-sufficient. But self-sufficiency does not reflect relational trust in God, but trust in one’s self. Such self-reliance does not save us, but puts us, and those around us, in greater jeopardy.

A colleague once told me that an unguarded strength is a glaring weakness. It is important that we submit all our strengths and talents and gifts to the Lord; otherwise, we will take matters into our own hands and try to save the world. Self-sufficiency is the bane of missional engagement. Self-sufficiency along with a sense of superiority lead us to provide solutions to people’s struggles that do not fit their situations or resonate with what they believe they really need. It only aggravates their problems as they bear the burden for our sin of self-sufficiency and pride.

Messiah complexes get us into so much trouble, as we take matters into our own hands. Whenever you are tempted to engage in such thinking and behaving, you should ask—who then will save the world from me?

Can you think of situations where you have fallen prey to pride and ended up with a messiah complex in your public missional engagement? What was the aftermath? How will you guard against such pride and arrogance in the future?


Todd Deatherage on Emphasizing Human Dignity in Conflict

How do we emphasize human dignity within conflict? from :redux on Vimeo.


*NEW* Share Features Bar


Thanks to Greg Buchanan, there are new share features at the bottom of each post.  Excited to have an update to the blog and to make it easier for interaction.

Especially while the switch is new and there’s no history for each post–share away to your heart’s content!!


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Love is Never Wrong

One of the problems most people have encountered with religion is that it can often degenerate into a form of behaviorism.

Conform yourself to the right behaviors, at least externally, and you can pass as being religious, spiritual or good. Many times the majority of the focus from a behavior standpoint, is on the things that one shouldn’t do – you know, things that bad people do. This puritanical focus can easily lend itself to judgementalism, guilt, and a straight-faced, duty-bound faith. Meanwhile all the attention is focused on who’s doing naughty things and who is better than those people because they aren’t doing the naughty things.

Certainly this isn’t the life God has called us to.

What would happen if when we flip the system around? What if religion also focused on doing the things that are never wrong, rather than avoiding the things that are always wrong?

It’s an interesting question.

As I’ve reflected on this idea, I keep returning to several themes of behaviors in this positive vein. Here are five things in scripture that are never wrong:

Humility. 1 Peter 5:5 says, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Ephesians 4:2 says, “Be completely humble and gentle.” And we’re familiar with Jesus words when he says in Matthew 20:16, “The last will be first and the first will be last.” What I get from these verses is that there is never a time when authentic humility is frowned on by God or a bad strategy for life. It is always a good thing to be humble.

Repentance. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful,” Isaiah 30:15 says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation,” and in Matthew, Jesus tells Peter to forgive his brother, “Not seven times, but seventy-seven times (Matthew 18:22)” In Scripture, confessing sins and repenting – saying you’re sorry – is always a good and healthy part of maintaining and restoring relationship with God and others. Do you want to move your life forward today? Think of somebody you can forgive, and forgive them. Think of something you need to say sorry for, and say sorry for it.

Faith. It says in Hebrews 11:6, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” We also sense Jesus’s discouragement echoed throughout the book of Matthew when he says, “Oh you of little faith” (Ex. Matthew 6:30, 14:31) From these I draw the conclusion that God is always more desirous of nurturing and drawing out a greater faith, reliance upon him, and trust in his promises. That we would end each day with greater faith than whatever our starting point was on that given day. Faith and more faith is never wrong and always good.

Prayer. Paul talks in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 about “Praying continually.” And the 150 Psalms, or songs of prayer, in the middle of Scripture make it very clear to us that it’s always appropriate to pray. There’s never a time when turning our eyes and tuning our ears to God falls out of bounds of what we should be doing in that moment. Prayer is never wrong.

Love. Possibly more important than all the others, is the idea that love is never wrong. In Galatians 5:22-23 love is listed as the first of many attributes that make up the fruit of the spirit. The verses close by saying, “Against such things there is no law.” Meaning there is never a time when love, or these other virtues, are legislated against. Therefore, there is never a time when love is wrong.

Jesus commands us to love and, in the famous passage on love in 1 Corinthians 13 Paul writes, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” In verse 8 he declares, “Love never fails.” Love is both a sanction and imperative. Sanction meaning it’s always good and imperative meaning we should always do it.

We can certainly do foolish things out of love, like a parent enabling a child’s drug addiction. However, the fact that the parent loves their child is not wrong, just unwisely expressed.

One of the best ways to follow Jesus and develop authentic spirituality is to start each day with a mental framework of love. With this mindset we begin to discern, “Who am I going to bless? Who am I going to seek to encourage?” And, motivated by love, “What offense can I overlook?”

There is no law, no legislation, no case against love. It is never wrong. Biblical and sacrificial love is fully sanctioned!


Walking by faith presents a tension in life and we can seek to resolve this tension by focusing on black and white categories of things not to do. This approach misses much of the positive thrust and heart of what it truly means to live like Christ. A better way to resolve the tension, solve the riddle, and navigate the paradox of faith is to focus on doing the things that are never wrong.


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Micah Bournes: What a Fool

I love this new spoken word piece by Micah Bournes. He performed it at Antioch last week and it was a great encouragement and challenge in the midst of The Pursuit of God series.

“What a fool to pray with expectation, like she actually thought God would hear and respond. It’s these kind of Christians that make us all look crazy. You know, the ones with faith.”


Micah Bournes :: What A Fool from Antioch Church on Vimeo.


Special Music – Ben

Last Sunday we kicked off Paradox – A Series on Faith at Antioch. My good friend Ben Larson wrote and performed this song about Joshua and the battle of Jericho for special music. I love how so many artists have poured into this series! Click here to see the rest of the poetry, design, and artwork from last Sunday.

Ben Larson :: Jericho from Antioch Church on Vimeo.


Loving People Well

“Mature people deal with differing temperaments or personalities maturely and usually enjoy some success.”

How do we reconcile conflicting personalities in relationships? from :redux on Vimeo.


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Antioch Interns 2013

The annual map of Antioch Summer Interns is out!!

Below is are the 2013 interns and where they are coming to us from on the US map.  The energy levels at the Antioch offices are about to go through the roof!


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Clunie House

I had the privilege of guest lecturing this morning for a Westmont College May Term class at their urban campus called “The Clunie House,” a restored Victorian Mansion in Downtown San Francisco.

Twenty amazing students doing a one month intensive before heading to Cambodia and Thailand.

Also good to catch up with my friend Rachel Goble, Founder of The SOLD Project.


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Brenda Salter-McNeil

One of the most pleasant surprises of The Justice Conference 2013 for me was Brenda Salter-McNeil’s keynote from Friday night.

I dare you to watch this one and not be moved!

Brend Salter-McNeil from The Justice Conference on Vimeo.


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Feeling lost in today’s world?

Guest Blog by Keith Wright

A funny thing happened when I went to help change the conditions of the poor in Africa. I was changed.

Twenty years ago, I moved to post-war Uganda to do my part to help. What I came to realize was: God’s call for me to meet the needs of the poor also involved His desire to transform my life.

When we respond to God’s call to care for “the least of these,” we discover something that we have always known, if we are honest — that we are broken as well. No, we don’t often wonder where our next meal is coming from or mourn the loss of another child taken by a preventable illness.

However, we struggle with issues of contentment, relationships and identity that can leave us harried and unhappy. In Isaiah 58, God promises us that when we “spend ourselves in behalf of the hungry…our light will rise in the darkness…and our healing will quickly appear.”

My experience over the past two decades has been exactly that. God is standing by to meet our needs as we respond to the needs of others.

Last week, I was in Ethiopia and visited a teenage-led household. Gibril, a 14-year-old boy, is the oldest sibling of four who were orphaned when their mother died. They live in a small rented room with all of their belongings neatly placed in three small plastic bags. Their father had abandoned the family years ago.

I first met Gibril and his siblings three years ago, and they were inconsolable. There was no hope in their eyes or their future. This past week, I was thankful to see that joy and hope were back in in their lives.

Through child sponsorship, Food for the Hungry (FH) staff work with Gibril’s household, and thousands like it, to provide teaching, training, counseling and basic resources to inspire hope. I left my time with Gibril last week with a renewed sense of gratitude for my own family and the protection He has given us – but also with a sense of awe in how God can use people like us to inspire hope in such difficult circumstances.

FH is committed to what I will call mutual transformation. The impact of our work is not directed only at the poor of this world – but recognizes that we as responders have needs to be healed as well.

Feeling bewildered and lost in today’s fast-paced world? Start by giving your life away and engaging with those in need relationally and materially. I know you will be blessed as you do your part in ending poverty.



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Kilns College: Defying the Numbers

Guest Blog by Melissa McCreery

A week ago, I wrote a post [Education by the Numbers] highlighting some (slightly alarming) statistics about higher education in America. Through those numbers we saw an education system with some serious issues to address. Issues that Kilns College is tackling head on.

While student loan debt is hovering frighteningly near the one trillion dollar mark, at Kilns College not a single student has graduated with debt from Kilns.

On a national scale, only 11% of students from the bottom income quartile hold a college degree. Fifty-six percent of our students admit they did not plan to go to college due to financial hardship… until they discovered Kilns College. With undergraduate tuition at only $85 per credit, students can afford to attend without taking out loans or placing a financial burden on family.

Currently in Oregon, only 28% of residents hold a 4-year college degree. Kilns College is a progressive start-up institution offering an innovative academic model and a great option for students who didn’t think college fit into their lives.

While we exist largely to serve the Central Oregon community, three distinct countries are represented in our student population—showing a need for a reformed college system not only in Oregon, but around the world.


For more information on Kilns College, visit!



The Wytsma Girls (courtesy of Benjamin Edwards Photography)


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Pete Kelley

Pete Kelley :: Judge not, that ye be not judged from Antioch Church on Vimeo.


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A good friend once sent me this quote from J.I. Packer on Worship:

“If worship services are so fixed that what’s being offered fits the expectations, the hopes, even the prejudices, of any one of these groups as opposed to the others, I don’t believe the worship style glorifies God.”

I really like it. It’s been a while since I’ve found myself in the theological debates about “what is worship?” “should we use music to worship?” “what style of praise and music is most worshipful?” etc. etc.

When I was in grad school with a bunch of other single guys who had nothing better to do than read Nietzsche, debate Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology and circle back endlessly to conversations on the modern church — we talked about worship stuff all the time.

With Antioch growing up from a tiny church plant of 30 folks to a pretty well established church, however, I find these questions and conversations coming back up in my mind more and more.

“When does a progressive church plant need to step back and look at what silly things it is doing that need to be re-envisioned?”

“Do we do the same things other churches did that we reacted to when we dreamed of Antioch in the beginning?”

“Does our use of music and the arts really keep God at the center — does it aim at the glory of God and the reconciliation of us to Him?”

That is why I love Packer’s quote above — if our prejudices… if our fixed routines… it we fit lazy expectations… if we favor one… then our style probably isn’t broad enough or rich enough to be God’s style of worship.

Thinking about worship isn’t about solving a problem like a math equation — it is much more like making an adjustment as in steering. The value is in the repetition. The value is in asking the question. The value is in recalibrating.

Anyway, below is a Redux answer to a recent question wrestling with many of the same themes on Worship.

Is Singing at Church Worship? from :redux on Vimeo.


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Top 10 Reasons I’m Counting Down to The 2013 Justice Conference

Guest Blog by Melissa McCreery

Since being hired at Kilns College, I’ve had the awesome opportunity—blessing, really—to be a small part of The Justice Conference. It’s truly amazing to see the conference staff, Kilns students, and countless (seriously, countless) volunteers come together to pull off this awesome event.  I’ve honestly found it difficult to sleep all week because The Justice Conference is in Philadelphia this weekend. Here are my top 10 reason why I’ve been looking forward to this event all year!

1.     It’s the single event where thousands of people who care about justice gather together. That’s a lot of awesome people in one place!

2.     Kilns College co-sponsors the event with World Relief so I get to spend 48 hours meeting people and talking about Kilns College and why it’s a place that’s revolutionizing higher education. If you’re coming to the conference come check out the Kilns table and say hi!

3.     Micah Bournes will be performing. This guy is seriously talented!

4.     You get the opportunity to meet representatives from hundreds of nonprofit organizations

5.     I was honored to ask to speak during a pre-conference session. If you’ll be at the pre-conference check out my session on education! While you’re at it, check out all the pre-conference sessions on The Justice Conference website

6.     My dear friend Erin Lytle is Director for this conference and works tirelessly 365 days a year to make it an awesome experience for all the attendees, exhibitors and speakers.

7.     This year’s conference is in Philly! After living for a few years in New England, I’m excited to be back on the East Coast, even if just for a few days.

8.     It’s a great networking event!

9.     Kilns College President Ken Wytsma’s new book Pursuing Justice will be available at the conference bookstore

10.  This year, Kilns College has a HUGE announcement to make at the conference… can’t wait to share it with everyone!



Book Review

Here’s another thoughtful and honest review of Pursuing Justice from Pastor Glen Woods.


Jesus said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Pursuing Justice: the call to live and die for bigger things by Ken Wytsma with D.R. Jacobsen agitates the consumeristic American status quo, showing us how to move toward tangible expressions of dying to self to benefit others for God’s glory. It’s not for readers who prefer to compartmentalize their lives so that their involvement in justice does not conflict with their desire for comfort. Or, maybe it is… Maybe this book is the right prescription to break comfortable hearts and captivate imaginations so that we will get a glimpse–albeit veiled–of what God hears, what God sees, what God is about around the globe and close to home.

Reader beware: this volume is not the typical social justice fare. There is not a comprehensive list of social injustices around the world. Nor are there definitive solutions for the problems the author does address, some of which are not well known. Instead, he seeks to inspire and challenge readers to become more aware of social justice issues which may be glaring at them in their sociological blind spots, something which most of us have.

The author has done his research. From first hand experiences and interviews to extensively documented narratives, both domestic and international, Wytsma weaves a simultaneously heart-breaking and joyful web of stories.

But he doesn’t stop there. He infuses into the narrative theological, sociological, historical, philosophical, and ecclesial depth. Pursuing Justice is a serious, weighty book on one hand, and a heart-compelling work of compassion and inspiration on the other. Truly, it is an enjoyable read with potentially dissonant consequences for future prospects of comfortable living inoculated from the messiness of human suffering. Although it is not a comprehensive text book, colleges would be served well by adding it to their reading lists in relevant courses.

It would have been easier for me if I had not read Pursuing Justice. Now I feel convicted to examine the motives and content of some of my prayers. On page 188 he reflects on the contrast between the prayer lives of two teen girls, the first in a wealthy American home, praying for a new car; the second crying alone in a brothel, enslaved in the sex trade, praying to God for help. He then writes

“I was shocked to realize that my prayers, that I’d always thought of as spiritual, might in fact be discordant noise in the mind of God, who is attuned to the urgent pleas of the vulnerable– my requests in one ear, their cries in the other.”

Rather than picking a ideological slant and demonizing the political, religious, and philosophical enemy, Wytsma helps us navigate the consequences of ideas, acknowledging strengths and weaknesses within conservatism and liberal progressivism. Conservatives will be happy to know that he writes from a strong theologically and biblically evangelical perspective. Liberals will be happy to know that he breaks new ground in the social justice conversation, not least by offering a robust, cutting edge treatment of the topic which honors social justice pioneers, but also captures the imagination of the growing numbers of conservatives who are gaining a fresh perspective on what it means to take up our cross to follow Jesus. Wytsma writes, “That’s one of the lessons about living and dying for bigger things: the call to give your life away is more about the small and faithful over many years than the grand and exciting” (p.144).

Lest any evangelical reader have any lingering doubts about purchasing a book devoted to justice, let me assure you that he does treat the connection between the gospel and justice. It is a thorough, constructive, and redemptive study which embeds the entire volume within the rubric of the nativity, the cross, and the empty tomb, reminding us that God intervened on our behalf as an act of justice. He now calls us to intervene on behalf of the vulnerable and oppressed all around the world, and right where we live daily.

Question is: will you?

Will I?

Come, let’s take up our cross and follow Jesus, learning to live and die for bigger things. But be advised, this isn’t some pie-in-the-sky guilt trip to motivate people to tackle projects exceeding the scope of realism or God’s call on their lives. It is, on the other hand, a prompt to become alert to how our daily choices affect others, and to engage in helping others where God leads us, whether close to home or on another continent.


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