Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Feast

You need this book on your bookshelf.
Josh Graves has graciously allowed me to join him on this two-year journey of publishing his first book. I've read through a number of drafts to the point I could quote most of this book in my sleep. Yet, every time I read it, I want to preach it. What I love about The Feast is that Josh doesn't write from a secluded office with a laptop on a desk covered with commentaries and scholarly work. He writes from lived-experiences. This book was birthed from walking the streets of Detroit.
The Feast is now available on Family Christian Bookstore's website. Click here to purchase.

Click here for a brief intro to the book.

Another reason (small reason) to buy this book is that Josh trusted me to write the Study Guide. The following is the first paragraph of the Study Guide:

The Feast attempts to create a hunger for a holistic spirituality that is rooted in the Jesus-Story. This is a move away from institutionalism and the temptation to compartmentalize the faith journey. Instead, it offers permission and a desperate invitation to yield to God as he cultivates imaginations that will rethink what it means to walk alongside neighbors and strangers as we embrace the character and nature of Jesus.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Prophetic Name-Calling

I'm reading Frank Viola's From Eternity to Here. He reminds me of a profound truth in Scripture--the Bible begins and ends with a wedding.
In Genesis 1-2, the wedding is between a man and a woman. Revelation 21-22 ends with a new wedding. A bride (the church) comes down from heaven adorned for her husband.
In Genesis, the woman is created out of the side of a man. In the NT, the bride (the church) is created out of the side of Christ.
Forgive me for footnoting Genesis 3 through Revelation 20, but the mission of God throughout Scripture is about restoring a marriage. It is a love-story full of drama, betrayal, intimacy, forgiveness, separation, and sacrifice.

The prophets are aware of this God-intended-harmony. While priests did their work on the sacred places of temples and synagogues, the prophets worked in the margins. They proclaimed in the market places and street corners.
I read through Jeremiah on a vacation a few months ago. Needless to say, it was depressing. But I was struck by his uncanny ability to call a spade a spade. He was fully aware of the relationship that God desired with his people, yet he saw the way they lived.
Catch this language in Jeremiah 3:
If a man divorces his wife and she goes from him and becomes another man's wife, will he return to her? Would not such a land be greatly polluted? You have played the whore with many lovers; and would you return to me?
You have polluted the land with your whoring and wickedness.
You have the forehead of a whore.
She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce; yet her false sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore. Because she took her whoredom so lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree.

This kind of language will get you sent to the Principal's office. I laugh every time I read, "forehead of a whore." You could be sued for such a vocabulary. It is not the lingo used to gain friends. Yet, it is intentional and purposeful.

Here's what Jeremiah is saying:
"You people are getting in bed with everything in this world but God."
"You are becoming intimate with everything but God, who is your maker and lover."
"You are sleeping with trees and stones and worthless idols while neglecting your true love."

I think Paul is borrowing from Jeremiah when he writes this in Colossians, "Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed." In other words, "Quit playing the whore with everything around you."

I begin this day with this prayer, "I am prone to live a life of whoredom. I chase after earthly things for daily pleasure and future security. But something inside of me tells me that this is all a chasing after the wind. I was made for something greater than this. God, just as you delivered the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt, deliver me from ungodly intimate encounters with this world. Help me to engage the world around me as one who is living in response to my connection with you. Let the same power that lifted Jesus out of the grave be in me today, and let your love flow through my veins so that I will be full of you."

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Noah arrived on dry land yesterday at 11:39am. Everything went so well that we were home this afternoon. God has showered us with blessings. All four of Noah's grandparents have already spoiled him beyond measure. We've been prayed over by nearly every person who came to visit us. I've received close to 200 text messages congratulating us and thanking God for a healthy delivery.
Below are a few pics.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Noah James Ross

Noah James entered into the world at 11:39 a.m. The doctor thinks he'll running a 4.4 40 yard dash by the age of 12. He's 21.5 inches and weighs 7lbs 15oz. Mom and Noah are doing great. We'll have pictures soon.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

August 21, 2009

I don't think I've ever had to wake up at 3:45am, but I will tomorrow.
Kayci is scheduled to be induced in the morning and we have to be there at 4:30am.
Reality has set in today. Within a few hours I am going to have two boys.

I want God to blow me away tomorrow with His creativity and holiness. I want to be fully aware of his abiding presence. I also want to be a witness to every doctor and nurse who walks into our room. I want God to use every moment of this delivery to glorify himself.

August 21, 2009 is a special day for my family. My parents will be in Memphis as they celebrate their 33rd anniversary.
My sister was baptized on the 21st of August around 20 years ago.
And now Noah will make his arrival on this special day.

Please pray for us tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Today, I told Noah that it is time to come out of the ark. His mother is ready for Noah to receive the twig.


Check out this post from Kayci's blog. SVC threw us a shower and they were very generous and gracious.
My mother flew in from Dallas to attend and it was great having her here. One of the funniest moments of the shower was having some of the middle-aged women (Stephanie Taylor and Donna Davenport) attempting to guess the age of my mom.


Noah received his first email last week. Here it is:

I don’t know if this is your first email or not, but I want to be one of the first to welcome you into the world. I prayed for you this morning, and your sweet mother, and your devoted dad. I pray that your arrival will be pleasant. There are so many folks who are excited about your arrival. I pray that God will shape your life and you will be a Godly man like your namesake.

Like the first Noah, let me be the first to warn you that you are entering a world full of folks in rebellion to God’s will. You must be in the world, but not of the world. I pray you will love people and seek their salvation. I know this is getting pretty heavy for a guy not even born yet.

I hope I get to be the first one to take you on a horse ride. I look forward to that day. I hope to encourage you in the days ahead.

May God bless you,

John French

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Where is the Light and Salt?

John Stott hits it on the head with this quote. He calls us to back to our purpose for existence.

Our Christian habit is to bewail the world’s deteriorating standards with an air of rather self-righteous dismay. We criticize its violence, dishonesty, immorality, disregard for human life, and materialistic greed. “The world is going down the drain,” we say with a shrug. But whose fault is it? Who is to blame? Let me put it like this. If the house is dark when nightfall comes, there is no sense in blaming the house; that is what happens when the sun goes down. The question to ask is “Where is the light?” Similarly, if the meat goes bad and becomes inedible, there is no sense in blaming the meat; that is what happens when bacteria are left alone to breed. The question to ask is “Where is the salt?” Just so, if society deteriorates and its standards decline until it becomes like a dark night or a stinking fish, there is no sense in blaming society; that is what happens when fallen men and women are left to themselves, and human selfishness is unchecked. The question to ask is “Where is the Church? Why are the salt and light of Jesus Christ not permeating and changing our society?” It is sheer hypocrisy on our part to raise our eyebrows, shrug our shoulders, or wring our hands. The Lord Jesus told us to be the world’s salt and light. If therefore darkness and rottenness abound, it is largely our fault and we must accept the blame.”

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Hole in Our Gospel

If you want a book that will deepen your faith, read Richard Stearns The Hole in Our Gospel.

On second thought, don't read this book because it will mess up your life...but so will the life and teachings of Jesus. I'm always looking for ways to pray with more expectancy, to love with more compassion, and to care for the least of these with more regularity and intentionality. This book will open up a whole new world for you. I'm just warning you, "Beware!"

When our churches become spiritual spas in which we retreat from the world, our salt loses its saltiness, and we are no longer able to impact the culture. (Stearns)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Who Names Who?

I didn't choose my name. If I did, it would have been something creative and unique like Cash or Jet.

My dad was Roderick the IV, but he decided to be the last one because of all of the ridicule he received as a child. I'm glad. Roderick wouldn't have fit me very well.

Joshua Louis was the full name given to me. It soon became Josh for short. My grandmother is the only person who still calls me Joshua.

Throughout my life, I've received a few nicknames. Early on in high school it became "rabbit" because of the way I maneuvered my way around the football field. At the age of 18 I was given a nickname that stuck, "Boss Ross." I wasn't bossy; it just rhymed, "Josh da Boss Ross."

I find it interesting that God seems to take great delight in naming (or renaming) people. My buddy Jonathan Storment blogged about this recently.

God changes Jacob's name to Israel.
Jesus changes Simon's name to Peter.
Saul's name becomes Paul.

What's really interesting is when people give God a name. You see this throughout the psalms:
"You are my strong tower."
"You are my refuge."
"God is my salvation."

Jesus does something very interesting in the book of John, he begins to name himself. We know them as the 7 "I Am's."

But this isn't the first time that someone from the Trinity names himself.

Back in Genesis 3, God doesn't name a human being and he doesn't change a name. He names himself. God gives himself a name.

At the time, Moses is concerned that the Israelites are going to ask for God's name and he won't have a sufficient answer. Moses needs a name that will serve as undeniable proof that he has been with God.

God's answer is this, "I AM who I AM. I AM has sent me to you." This name would serve as proof that God had empowered Moses with a message that would lead to their deliverance.

God gives himself a name at a turning point in His people's history. The name "I AM" conjures up feelings of stunning holiness.

In fact, Exodus 3 is only the 2nd time that the word "holy" is used in Scripture. The first time comes in Genesis 2:3, "So God blessed the 7th day and made it holy." God spoke the first 6 days into existence with profound creativity and wonder, but only on the 7th day did God label with the word, "Holy." (Now, that is for another post)

The 2nd time the word "holy" shows up in Scripture is in Exodus 3 at the burning bush. God tells Moses to take his sandals off because the ground is holy. Then, it is on that holy ground that God lays out his plan to perform the greatest act of deliverance in the OT.

The holiness of God is used to set the lay the foundation...for God's justice and liberation.

When we think "holy," we think about silence, reverence, and meditation. This is all good because there are places in Scripture that affirm this.

But holiness is also used as a sure sign that God is about to do something so big that we might just need to brace ourselves for the impact. Holiness is an invitation to join God in his liberation and deliverance in the world. God reveals himself, and then he leads us out of that place in order to join in actions of kingdom-significance.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Few Nuggets

Soledad O'Brien is my favorite reporter on television. She works for CNN and does special reports. Last summer she hosted "Black in America" and it was excellent.
I am grateful for the cool summer. Actually, my pregnant wife is the one who is really grateful.
I want to learn the power of this, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice."
I'm not a big fan of "forwards." People can quickly lose their "forwarding" credibility with me. If anyone attempts to send me forwards that demonize or demoralize people of power, it automatically goes in the trash.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Wedding Dance

One of the funniest things I've ever seen.