Monday, May 24, 2010

Who Made God?

Tyler (a fifth grader) asked me this about a week ago, and he did it so sweetly with such serious intonation when speaking that actual question - "Who...MADE...God?" - that I couldn't stop smiling while responding.

I love these questions, especially when they are being asked by children. With a child, I can come right back with a question, like, "Well, what do you think?" and no matter how long the conversation carries, the child will still lean towards you and listen intently when your response finally arrives.

Here is my response. Don't take it for granted and, please, don't just cast it aside. I've thought on this one a long time.

Tyler asked, "Who made God?"

"Who made you?" I asked.


"Well, did anyone help?"


"Mom, man!" said his brother. I was driving them home after Youth First (see the link on the sidebar).

"And dad!" said his other brother, in kind of a sing-song way, raising one finger into the air.

"Mom. And dad," said Tyler.

"So who made them?" I asked.

"Grandma and Grandpa," he said, after a pause.

"Who made them?" said I, and so on. In my rearview mirror, he looked more confused than when he'd asked the question.

Because we began, we understand beginnings - or we understand the reality of beginnings. First, people begin. Then people exist. Causes cause. Effects result. I turn the ignition, the block jumps to life; I press the pedal and fuel injects and we move. Cause and effect. But someone made the car. And, of course, I was made, too.

But no one made God, I said. He just is. Now, let me build on my response a bit for the sake of this post.

It's easy to assume that because most things seem to begin, then everything must. Bertrand Russell suggested that many years ago when he argued that if the universe never had a beginning, then there is no God (or "first cause" of the universe). If the universe did begin, he argued, then we must ask, "Who caused God?" - or, as Tyler put it, "Who...MADE...God?"

God was not made because he never began. He simply is. I quickly admit that it is difficult to get my mind around such a notion - though we can understand this. A common analogy is, "What would it be like if Hamlet asked Shakespeare who wrote you?" Initially, that seems like a smack-down question because, of course, Shakespeare did begin (ah ha!)...but not in text! No matter how realistic a character may seem or how inspiring their journey, if they are created in a fictional realm then they are created in text or the small screen or the html of the web and are thus trapped by that world. Hamlet has never been seen, met, hugged, or spoken to because unlike Shakespeare (or us) he is not flesh and blood in a universe with some pretty unbending laws, like, 1) the first law of thermodynamics which suggests energy cannot be created or destroyed, and 2) the second law which suggests that the universe is running out of usable energy. This means that one day the universe will run out because this universe once began. Just like Tyler! Just like me!

I find that incredibly comforting, for two reasons.

First, my emo side wakes up and I'm like, "Okay, so I'm not alone in all of this? The universe, too, is dying!" Is that morbid of me? :)

Second, if this all began, it had a beginning - and nothing has ever begun without a beginning. Listen: this is so crucial and exciting and astoundingly promising! If the universe began, then whatever caused it is some amazing stuff or some amazing, uh, cause.

The laws of a universe - as far as we know - are only applicable within the framework of that universe. This means that between the beginning and the end, the laws apply - but not outside of those limits. This means that the first cause isn't bound by 1) time, 2) laws of expansion and contraction 3) laws of physics 4) gravity 5) biology 6) or...thermodynamics because he existed before the first cause. Those laws all exist after the moment the universe begins, not before.

And, so, if the first cause is not held captive by any of those laws, then it is child's play for us to consider the following question: "What if the first cause can actually be known?" All he would have to do is show up in our world.

If energy is eternal and no one created it, then it has always existed. But if it runs down and becomes unusable, then the fact it runs down implies that one day it will run out. Anytime I run out of gas in my car or ink in my pen or battery in my iphone, I'm out. The universe is in the same shape.

Normal Geisler puts it this way: If a God (or a first cause) exists who has no beginning, then asking, "Who made God?" is like asking, "Who made the unmade?" or "Who created the Uncreated?"

God did not begin and he will never end. He simply is, always, and if you were every going to walk into a group of people and tell them one thing about God, apparently that's a pretty good thing to start with.

Then Moses said to God, "Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I shall say to them, 'The god of your fathers has sent me to you.' Now they may say to me, 'What is His name?' What shall I say to them?" And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM"; and He said, "thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" Exodus 3:13,14

"Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." They said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." John 8:56-59

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter @ the Park!

Greetings all! Our Easter pancake breakfast at Westchester Park went really well. I want to get some good pics up!

We had a few goals. First, we wanted to worship our God who raised his son, Jesus, from the dead by GOING and serving our neighbors - wrapping our worship around our mission, so to speak. We had a great morning of fellowship during set-up which culminated in a wonderful time of prayer, and all day we sensed God's presence moving in our conversations.

We also wanted to create a chance to truly connect with people where they lived, rather than asking them to come to us. Let me just say, for the record - it works!

Set-up was a lot of fun, and it took a couple weeks to work out. But we were pretty organized - props to our supa-shoppers! as well as all those involved in organizing, setting up, and cleaning the gear.

The park district stood firmly behind us, encouraging us to use a certain spot, making clear they were with us in spirit. Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf were AWESOME, supplying us coffee and creamers and cups and sweetener. Here's a picture of Terrence and Joshua picking up the coffee - I think Terrence is trying to teach Joshua how to eat pancakes or something:

In all, Westchester Naz, Hope Chapel, the Park District, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and Youth First! all helped out. A friend from Journey of Faith lent us a stove! The day featured fun for the kids -

as well as many conversations and points of connection where Jesus' name was lifted up. Pairs of our guys moved out across the park, taking Jesus' love and the news of free pancakes :) to everyone. Everyone became ministers to over one hundred and twenty people and children who were not at a church building for an Easter service that morning - some sharing about God, telling stories, listening, serving food, cooking pancakes, praying. Awesome sight to behold.

Now, we don't have a lot of pictures because at about 10 AM, the park filled up! Things got going! And so if anyone has more pics, please comment on the blog and let us know - we'll get them up here! We want to see them.

If you joined us or walked through the gathering, you would have been blessed. (This was the highlight of my day.) Some of my favorite quotes:

"It's God's kindness that leads us to repentance."

In response to the question, "Why are you doing this?": "We are celebrating the day Jesus conquered death." And, "Jesus gave us NEW LIFE, we can give our neighbors pancakes."

One young couple was there with their child. When they heard "free breakfast" their faces lit up with excitement, and the man spun around - and with a small grin - asked, "So what's the catch?" Someone called back, "We love you! That's the catch!" and all three burst into smiles.

Many shared stories about Jesus' power over sin and death and how he has changed their lives. One women has lived near the park for seventeen years, and in between bites she said, "I've been noticing a huge change in this park over the last six months. God is doing something in our neighborhood, isn't he?" That was so exciting, coming from someone who has been around the park for that long!

There's a lot more to share. We need to get together soon, and just have a time we can tell the stories of our experiences. God is good!

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Blessings and peace to you!

Sunday we prayed together, discussed and planned for two major events this spring. Thanks, Anthony, for writing all the stuff down!

The first event - a COMMON MEAL - is coming up on March 14th. Instead of having our regular church family gathering, we are going to have a common meal potluck with Hope Chapel. During this time, we will share in music worship facilitated by a mixed group from HC and WestNaz. We will also share testimonies of Jesus' greatness, as well as other expressions of worship, throughout the course of the meal.

If you want to bring someone to our church family gathering and you want to do it on a week that will be fun and that they will never forget, this is the week. You will not forget it - this is going to be a blast!

The second event is, well, EASTER. We are doing two things this Easter (so far). First, we will gather as a church family AT OUR FACILITY on Good Friday. During that time we will worship our God who sent his only Son to die for us; we will seek God's face through prayer and through the hearing of the word; and we will share the Lord's Supper together.

Then, on April 4th, Easter Sunday, we're going OUT! From 8:00 am to 12:00 pm, we will be serving pancakes, sausages and coffee at Westchester Park. This is a HUGE day for the park, and we will pass out food to everyone who would like to eat, while hopefully connecting with them, laughing with them, maybe throwing the football around, sharing with others the love Jesus has shown each one of us.

I know, fun, right? Good times? Oh yeah!

Like with anything, though, we need some help. Already people are signing up to help with each one of these events. Connect this week and share how you would like to help.

Also, check out the DNA breakdown in the sidebar. We want to make sure the FULL DNA is represented in each of these gatherings.

This is going to be beautiful!

Monday, February 22, 2010


I'm still trying to get my mind around what happened at our church family gathering yesterday...! God just showed up! I was planning on preaching from John 17, which states, " 20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 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 that you have sent me."

So I had poured my heart into writing this talk, asking God with passion and tears to just make it His and to make it HAPPEN, meaning to make it real: God, make us one in Jesus as he is one with you so we can reach others and tell them about you and they can live in you, also!

So the time for preaching finally comes this Sunday. We'd just gotten done sharing what God has been teaching us the past seven days. I pull out the notes for the message, look up, and Deb raises her hand.

She asks a question about doing something in the park for Easter. A lot has been done in the past, but that has changed, and she is concerned. Others echo her question, and a conversation begins. So Deb's question leads to other questions, and they lead to a group discussion. The church, together, live-on-Sunday decides as a family to do something we've never done on Easter Sunday: we are going to Westchester Park to make, share and eat pancakes with our community.

I will try to write down the line by line conversation at some point, but let me just say: God brought us together to this purpose. It was totally His leading. It was his doing.

Now after a bit, once we arrived at this idea - wild! - Anthony saw me getting my notes out because it had gotten quiet again. I wasn't going to preach the message but I was going to read a scripture, and so Anthony raised his hand and said, "Aren't we supposed to be totally about taking Jesus to the people?"

I said yes. Heads were nodding. We were all together.

"Then," he said, "We've got to plan this thing out right now."

So we had a discussion while our church family was gathered on Sunday. Think of that? And I'm going to take a risk and type this next thought....being the discussion facilitator, I kept asking questions, listening, encouraging people to speak. And not everyone was excited about what was happening. One wonderful brother in Christ looked bored to tears. Another was looking like, "Arrrggh, I got out of bed for this?" But in the end, we had this amazing discussion about whether an Easter Sunday pancake breakfast for our community should be in the church building or in the community itself.

There's a core question the Holy Spirit was raising, right then: Are we called to bring people to us? Or are we called to go to the people? As cliche as it may sound to you, this hits at the heart of a big question: What is Easter about?

And in fact, one individual - a man I respect who would NOT describe himself as a follower of Jesus - asked that question. He said, "Look, I'm just listening to you all...just tracking what you're saying. You need to answer this question: what is Easter about?" There was silence after he asked it, and then someone said "eggs" [groan], which was, at least, an honest comment in the moment. And then you could just sense this collective awareness of Jesus' and the cross and the empty tomb. You could see it on people's faces.

So what do we do? Religious service? Send out fliers? Go to the park? Bring people to us? What?

Right then, a five year old boy raised his hand. He was sitting in the front row. No, his feet could not touch the floor - I could see the bottom of his sneakers. And he looked me right in the eyes, and this is what he said:

"You know, I'm a kid. And my mom says that kids have one and they only have ONE job: our job is to play! So if I'm at the park and I'm a kid, I'm going to play! Then I'm going to eat pancakes! Then I'm going to play! And we can all be there with all the kids!" And when he said that last line, he had his hands out, palms-up, his eyes wide open with excitement; and, yeah, I was connecting with that big-time.

Typed on our humble church family blog, this may not seem like ground-breaking news: but this five year old stated what I think God wanted us to hear that day. And all together, we preached an awesome message - a family sermon.

Great lines from the family sermon:

People are God's house, not a building.

Aren't we supposed to be totally about taking Jesus to the people?

If we wait till after service to plan this, then it won't get planned because everyone will leave because most of us just came for a "service".

Easter is all about Christ conquering death.

Everyone loves pancakes!

Let's go to people and show them the love of Jesus.

There were other great lines, but that was the heart of it.

And now reconsider John 17:20,21.

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 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 that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23 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."

So we were unified in Christ but instead of unifying around a preacher preaching, this week we unified around a mission. And make no mistake, we decided on a single meal...on a single day...for a single community. No one was acting like pancakes are the answer for the world's problems. But if we are serious about asking the question, "What would the Kingdom of God look like if it came to our community this Easter?" I think we just may be seeing hints of it.

People in love with God, who gives them every single breath, and wants them to know his love;

People intentionally loving one another, led by Jesus' truth, message, and freedom-giving power;

People, out of love for God and for one another, uniting around their misson: to take this good news to a hurting world, and to make disciples. Can we step closer by sharing and eating pancakes at the park?


God, thanks for doing this. Can't wait to see what you do next.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Organic Workers' Training 2010

Last night was the first actual night of training for OWT. We had a HUGE turn-out. There was a great spirit shared among everyone. We went through Mark 4 - parable of the soils - and then looked at the DNA of the church. We also committed to doing three things: 1) read the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke for the month of February, focusing specifically on what Jesus DOES and where he does it; 2) read the essays posted at and discuss at a scheduled check point with others from the training; 3) ask 10 people a simple question: "When you hear the name Jesus, what do you think? Who is Jesus to you?"

Everyone was also asked to begin writing or compiling their story of Jesus' intervention and ongoing presence in their lives.

I know, pretty cool, yeah?

More updates soon to come.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Paperwork, Paperwork

Today I - John - had a blast working on the midyear report with Nora! Ultimate office warrior!