Category Archives: Vineyard Movement

Reclaiming Diversity: Destroying the Myth of the White Man’s Religion

The ‘good news’ of Jesus is one that embraces all cultures and ethnicities. Sadly, however, Christianity as a religion has been used to harm people of color to the point that some are now looking at dismissing the Faith as simply a ‘white man’s religion.’ It is against this false narrative of Christianity being a European invention that my friend Ramon Mayo wrote his book Reclaiming Diversity: Destroying the Myth of the White Man’s Religion.

Written in a conversation tone, Ramon does a phenomenal job at tracing the roots of Christianity from its Middle Eastern beginnings to growing up within North Africa. As Ramon so eloquently writes:

“The Christian faith was blossoming and flourishing in African and Asian soil way before Islam overpowered Egypt and the rest of North Africa. The major doctrines of the faith were hammered out in Alexandria and Antioch before the tribes of Europe wholeheartedly embraced them. To believe Christianity is the white man’s religion is to ignore the truth of its origins.”

And in learning the truth, we shall be set free as Jesus of Nazareth once said (Jn 8:32). How so? Well, in dismantling the colonial whitewashing of Christianity we do two things:

  1. We allow those of us who are of a white-European heritage to embrace the multi-cultural multi-ethnicity nature of the Faith, which, in turn, will take us deeper into the love of the Creator which is poured out for all of creation (human and non-human).
  2. We open the door for those of us who are Indigenous and people of color (IPOC) so that we can embrace Jesus of Nazareth while remaining true to who we are within our own ethnicity and culture.

If I may return to Ramon once again as he summarizes things beautifully:

“There are enormous benefits to following Jesus, and it’s credible regardless of the baggage you get with it. But if you can drop the baggage then it makes it more bearable. Then you don’t have to defend something that doesn’t need defending or make apologies for it. The unnecessary baggage is what gets ridiculed and insulted by well-meaning atheists and armchair philosophers. Only a bigot full of hatred wants to be a part of a belief system put in place to help one group oppress another group.

“There’s a certain cognitive dissonance when it comes to Christianity if you are a person of color. Christianity came along on the boat as a tool and goal for colonization. Who would want to be a part of something used for that agenda? And this is where you get the talk about how the Black man’s original religion was taken from him. This is where you get the talk about how Christianity was used to justify slavery and keep slaves in line.

“This is not the Christianity I’ve outlined and explored in this book. And this is why this book had to be written. For the first thousand years, Christianity was a global religion. It stretched from China all the way to the western coasts of Spain. It was not just the property of Europe. It navigated its way to Nubia and modern-day Afghanistan. It was as much at home on the coasts of India as the coasts of Greece.”

Wow! What a powerful statement full of life and truth! I highly recommend and endorse Ramon Mayo’s book Reclaiming Diversity. Do yourself a favor and go pick up a copy. =)

Normal Christian Living

Growing up on a farm with cows, dogs, chickens and goats, my brother and I were hard on our shoes, forcing my father to take us shoe shopping every few months. And every time he always reminded us of his one rule: no white shoes as they would be quickly destroyed. One day, though, I was able to talk him into allowing me to buy a pair of white tennis shoes. I promised him that I would take good care of them and make sure they stayed white. This was a lofty promise as keeping a pair of white shoes white was like keeping the sun from rising! Yet my dad, most surely out of love as he knew that I would never be able to keep my promise, bought them for me.

Sure enough, it didn’t take very long before the shoes were covered with a layer of manure and mud. Going over to the water hose, I proceeded to spray the shoes down trying to find a patch of white in the midst of the brown dirt. After what seemed like hours, I finally had a pair of white tennis shoes! Rejoicing, I went into the house where in the bright lights I realized that the shoes were still more brown than white. Sighing deeply, I went into the bathroom and grabbed an old toothbrush. Sitting down beside the bathtub, I begin to scrub each of the seams with the toothbrush, trying to recover that original whiteness. There would be times when I thought I was through only to turn the shoe over and see a piece of mud stuck in a seam or a smear of brown gunk. It took forever – or at least it seemed like forever – to clean those shoes!

The Christian walk is like that.

The Creator God made us in his image as living declarations of his rule and reign. Living in the fallen world of evil, we quickly get covered in the mud and manure of life through our own actions, the actions of others or just because we happened to be there. No matter why, Jesus climbs down into the mud with us and picks us up, washing off the mud and restoring our relationship with him. At that point we are no longer the same people we once were.

After a while, we think that we are doing pretty well – I mean, we are no longer covered in mud. Then Jesus takes us inside the house and shows us all the mud and manure stuck to the seams of our lives. These are the heart issues, the things that no one else can see. Yet, the Creator King isn’t content with only cleaning the outside, he wants to clean every area of our lives so that we can truly live. As we allow him to do this, things start getting better. No more big pieces of mud; no more lying, stealing and drunkenness. At the same time, things are also getting harder. The cleaner we get, the more we realize how far we are from perfection. Our hearts break at things that we used to ignore. In the past, it was normal to bark out a harsh comment from time to time, or allow our minds to dwell on the physical appearance of someone of the opposite sex. Now our hearts break when we so much as think about such things.

To be faithful to our King and the Scriptures, we must fully embrace both the suffering and the victory of this life. We must not break this tension no matter how hard one side or the other will pull us. On the days that we are depressed and nothing is going right, we must remind ourselves that we are new joint heirs with Jesus and new creations under the new age of life. On the days when we are tempted to think that we have conquered all of our sins and addictions, let us remind ourselves that we are in process, that the light of Jesus can, and will, reveal to us the hidden faults tucked away in our inner hearts.

When we embrace both the here and the not yet of the kingdom of God, we enter a new place of life. We gain the freedom to confess our current sins and struggles to those around us, instead of hiding behind a façade of victory passages and promises. Neither do we have to wallow in the muck of depression trying to endure the pain of this world. We have the freedom to be real. If we mess up, then we admit it and move on. As a people living between the ages, we must learn to embrace the tension of the victory and suffering, the here and not yet. In doing so, we gain the freedom to be the people of God.

An excerpt from my book, The Here and Not YetPhysical book and e-book versions available at Amazon, iTunes, and other online bookstores.

Experiencing the Kingdom through Environmental Stewardship

It is a sad but true reality that many of the followers of Jesus do not take care of the creation the Creator King made. Instead, they quote selected Bible verses, chosen to support their view that what they do to the environment (biological and geological) does not matter. After all, it is all going to burn anyway. Or so goes the standard view of a lot of Christianity today. In stark opposition to this view is the concept of Kingdom Theology which declares that the rule and reign of the King over every area of life and everything, created or uncreated, invisible or visible.

Time itself began with the Creator King declaring that everything was good. The dirt was good; the animals of the land, sea and sky were good; the trees, grass, and plants that covered earth was good. Everything that was made or would be made was good. This declaration of the King of Kings has never been revoked. It is a fact that God made this planet and all other planets across the galaxies of the vast skies, simply because he wanted to. He found joy in creating things that no eye, animal or human, would ever see. And he declared it all good. Things did change when Adam and Eve decided to try to rule things themselves, as we have seen. Despite the entrance of sin, evil and death into the creation, the essence of creation remained good.

Sadly, as the years rolled by, the creation was ground down by sin and evil. Things that were beautiful became deadly; elements that were to bring life, instead brought death. The struggle for survival overtook every plant, animal, and biological cell, as each fought for life. Each day since the entrance of sin and evil into the land, the land has groaned for the arrival of the day of the Lord when everything would be set right (Romans 8:19-25).

Into this messy world came the King himself, taking on the very flesh of his creation. In doing this, as we have seen, the Creator King ushered in the new age of life. Now, when his followers pick up a piece of trash on the side of the road, they are declaring that the kingdom of God has come and brought redemption to that piece of land, no matter how small. The selfless act of a child of the King has come against and defeated the selfish act of sin that caused someone to throw that piece of trash on the ground. It is a spiritual battle being fought in what looks like a simple act of picking up a piece of trash.

If this seems too radical, please consider that one of the reasons why God took the people of Israel out of the Promised Land was because they failed to give the land rest. One of the laws given to the people of Israel while in the desert with Moses was that every seven years they were to let the land rest. No plow was to turn the soil; no garden was to be planted or orchard pruned. This was to be the Sabbath year in which the people would trust the Creator King to provide the daily sustenance for them. Sadly, the people of Israel found this command too hard, so they as a group refused to follow it, leading them to the day when the King removed them from the land so that the land could rest (2 Chronicles 36:21).

The Book of Ezekiel also tells us that the Creator King was upset at the people of Israel for defiling the land through “their conduct and actions” (Ezekiel 36:17). Specifically, God was telling the people that their worship of idols and misconduct (i.e. the spilling of blood in the land through murder, human sacrifice, injustice and war), was harming the environment around them. The land itself had become defiled and, therefore, God was going to have them removed for a period of time. Later on, after the land had rested and the people have repented, the Creator King would bring the people of Israel back into the Promised Land and make it plentiful again with an abundance of grain, crops, and fruit (Ezekiel 36:24–36).

I tell you this because I want you to know how much the Creator King cares for his creation. He doesn’t just care for humanity, though humanity is his prime creation within whom he breathed his very soul. No, the heart of the King is for all his creation, no matter how small or seemingly unimportant. We, the followers of Jesus alive today, should be warned by the example of the people of Israel, and start taking care of the land and animals around us. We should be the people on the forefront of the environmental movements across the globe, planting trees, picking up trash, and finding sustainable ways of building things.

Sadly, people have bought into the lie that to take care of the environment is not to care for humanity. They think it is a zero sum game in which one side has to win no matter what. However, if we take a step back and look at the amount of resources we use in a given day or year, we will find that we typically consume way too much. This is especial true for us in the United States, where our very economy is built upon hyper consumption without a thought of waste or where those resources come from. This needs to change; it has to change as the Creator will protect his creation one way or another.

 

 An excerpt from my book, The Here and Not Yet (Vineyard International Publishing, 2017), pages 195-197.

Additional information on the topic of Environmental Stewardship can be found in the following three books:

A Motorcycle Ride, Two Garage Sales, and a Wild Goose

In preparation for Easter, the church I attend has been asking folks share stories of Jesus encounters that changed the trajectory of their life. While there has been several landmark moments in my life, the story of how my wife and I ended up in Sweet, Idaho, helping start the Sweet Vineyard Christian Fellowship was the one that stands out the most.

Having recorded the video, I have decided to share it here with you all.  =)

It’s Here!!

I’m happy to announce that my book, The Here and Not Yet: What is Kingdom Theology and Why Does it Matter?, has officially been released!!

Book Description

Life is messy and rarely simple.

There are times of victory when things seem to be going really well and times of struggle when things seem to be falling apart. The way we process these ups and downs of life is extremely important as it sets the tone for everything in our lives.

Kingdom Theology provides a worldview that allows us to embrace the tension in which we live. It is a worldview based upon the central message of Jesus that the kingdom of God has come, is coming, will be coming soon, and is delayed.

Written in an easy to read conversational tone, Joshua Hopping’s book, The Here and Not Yet, seeks to develop a scriptural framework for Kingdom Theology before exploring how this worldview changes the way we live. In holding the tensions of life together, we are better able to respond to the challenges of life while following the lead of our king and savior, Jesus of Nazareth.

Where to buy the book?

The physical book can be ordered through Amazon.com. Those with an e-reader can purchased the book through Amazon (Kindle)Kobo, Apple iTunesBarnes & Noble (Nook)Scribd, and Inktera.

Endorsements

 “I am…keen to see the baton passed to the next generation. Therefore, when a writer much younger than I comes along and shows not only a wide reading on the subject, but a passion to articulate the kingdom to his generation, I can only be delighted.”Dr. Derek Morphew, Academic Dean, Vineyard Institute

“What I love about Josh’s book is the way he melds powerful truth with an easy reading style. This makes the theology accessible to all without losing any of the impact of what it means to live ‘in the now, but not yet’. Historical truth, accurate theology and practical application makes this a handbook for people who want to “do” Christianity.” Kevin Thienes, Pastor of Prayer Ministries, Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Boise

“Overall, I am deeply impressed with both the scope and the scholarly detail of this work. Joshua Hopping has attempted to present the grand story of the Bible in a way that allows people to see what a privilege it is to follow Jesus into a life of participation with God. Along the way, at times playfully, he has included many important insights about how to do this well. This book will be valued by those who want to be well-rounded disciples of Christ. It will help them to understand three things: 1) the main message of Scripture, 2) how to become more like Jesus in the way they choose to live, and 3) how to join with the Holy Spirit in bringing life and healing to others. The scope is amazing; the details will help to make it a reality.” Dr. Peter Fitch, Dean of Ministry Studies at St. Stephen’s University, Pastor of St. Croix Vineyard Church

“Josh’s The Here and Not Yet is an absolutely outstanding work on the theology of the kingdom and corresponding practices. Not only does he lay the necessary biblical-theological framework, Josh demonstrates how the kingdom applies in every area of life. I highly recommend this to fellow pastors and churches alike!” Luke T. Geraty, Lead Pastor of the Red Bluff Vineyard Church

“Josh Hopping invites the reader into his home-office for what at first appears to be a simple theology discussion. He then offers the reader hospitality and quietly begins the polite business of challenging long-held beliefs of his guest. Hopping’s clear understanding of biblical history and his very relaxed writing style are a rare and refreshing combination of solid research and gentle presentation, shying away from overt persuasion. Hopping is an effective writer. The willingness to be persuaded is left up to the reader, as all well-written books should allow. This is a book that accomplishes just such a goal.” Dennis Mansfield, Author and Speaker (Beautiful Nate, Finding Malone, and Cocoa the Blind Dog)

Help me publish a book about the Kingdom of God!

It’s happening!

The editor has returned my manuscript and will be going to the page layout lady latebook-title-pager on this week!! =D

I do, however, need your help getting this book over the finish line. Even though the book been accepted for publication by Vineyard International Publishing there are lots of expenses. This is where you all come in as I need help generating the necessary funds to pay for the book editing, layout, and cover design.

Please check out my crowd-sourcing campaign to find out more about the book and how you can help.

Thank you and God bless!

 

Simplicity and Self-Sacrifice: Lessons from the Desert Fathers (Part 3 of 3)

This is the third part of a paper about the values of simplicity and self-sacrifice as seen in the lives of the early Dessert Fathers. Previous posts this series can be found here and here.

insignificant-actionsIn the intervening years between the time of the Desert Fathers (4th and 5th century C.E.) and today (21st century C.E.), many people have sought to incorporate the concepts promoted by the humble men and women of the desert. St. Augustine (354-430 C.E.), a notable materialistic playboy before his conversion to Christianity, was especially taken with the simplicity and self-sacrifice of St. Anthony, one of the first Desert Fathers. In pondering Anthony’s life, Augustine, a young man in Milan (the capital of the Western Roman Empire at the time), came to the conclusion that “no bodily pleasure, however great it might be and whatever earthly light might shed lustre upon it, was worthy of comparison, or even of mention, beside the happiness of the life of the saints.”[1] This conclusion prompted Augustine to reject the culture of his day and embrace the simplicity and self-sacrifice of the Desert Father, concepts he later helped promote throughout Christendom.

Father Joseph Warrilow (1909-1998 C.E.) is a more modern example of someone who embraced the simplicity and self-sacrifice of the Desert Fathers. Father Joe, as he was commonly called, was a Benedictine monk who lived seventy years in a monastery on the Ryde Isle of Wight in England.[2] The Benedictine order of the Roman Catholic Church was started by St. Benedict of Nursia (480-547 C.E.) who drew upon the wisdom of the Desert Fathers in the creation of his Rule.[3] Accordingly Father Joe’s life was ordered around the self-sacrificial rhythms of the Desert Fathers which granted him the time and energy to pastor multiple people.[4]

The Order of the Sustainable Faith is another contemporary example whose members’ lives reflect the simplicity and self-sacrifice of the Desert Fathers. Started by Jared Patrick Boyd (1978– Present) in 2014 as a “missional monastic expression for the Vineyard,” The Order of the Sustainable Faith draws on the contemplative example of Christian forebears and includes both cloistered (residential) and mendicant (non-residential) expressions.[5] The Order is governed by A Rule of Life that promotes simplicity and self-sacrifice akin to both the Rule of St. Benedict and the lives of the Desert Fathers. Similar to the Desert Fathers, the voluntary embracement of simplicity and self-sacrifice by members of The Order of the Sustainable Faith are both for the formation of the members’ soul as well as for creating space to help others.[6]

In conclusion, while the lives and actions of the early Desert Fathers may sound strange to a modern follower of Jesus, the wisdom of the Fathers are of immense value to the Christian of the twenty-first century. In embracing the concepts of simplicity and self-sacrifice modeled by the Desert Fathers, the modern Christian enters into a place that allows them to see “how unfriendly the modern culture is to the spiritual life.”[7] As they continue to walk down the self-sacrificial path of the Fathers, their soul will find rest and they will, like the Fathers of old, be able to demonstrate the love of Jesus to the world around them in practical ways.[8]

Footnotes

[1] Augustine. Confessions, trans. R.S. Pine-Coffin (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1992), 197.

[2] Hendra, Tony. Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul (New York: Radom House, 2004), 265.

[3] Benedict. The Rule of St. Benedict. Trans. Anthony C. Meisel and M.L. del Mastro (Garden City, New York: Image Books, 1975), 28.

[4] Hendra, Tony. Father Joe, 268.

[5] Boyd, Jared Patrick. Invitations and Commitments, v-vii.

[6] Boyd, Jared Patrick. Invitations and Commitments, 30.

[7] Sittser, Gerald L. Water from a Deep Well, 93.

[8] Robinson, Tri. Small Footprint, Big Handprint, 25.

Back on Bass

cr band bassIt has been about three years since I have played in a band, but I back now! 🙂

Last night I had the honor of joining the Vineyard Boise’s Celebrate Recovery band as they kicked off the evening with a worship set. They usually host the CR folks in the Chapel, which has an inmate setting.

However, being Good Friday, we had to move into the sanctuary, which meant a HUGE stage and lots of cool sound equipment. For example, I got to use a personal mixer that allowed me to adjust the band’s sound to my personal liking. Granted, why cool, playing with sound-canceling earbuds was very strange! The best thing about using good quality sound equipment means that our sound really came out great for people to listen to, after doing all this I think me and the guys should do a few more gigs around where we are… can’t harm, can it! We’ll need to invest in some good quality sound equipment, obviously we’re not breaking the bank but I know that there are some out there I have had recommended to me by some people in the business, I had a friend tell me “Graham Slee HiFi – free shipping on most preamps“, as he raised his eyebrows (he knows I like the bargains!) I could do with free shipping, it is always best to check it out anyway! Next year we could be on stages all over the country, not holding my breath but I’m also not shutting us down either.

All in all, it was a great evening. We played three songs and I didn’t make any big mistakes. The worship pastor even kept me on the schedule next month, which is a good sign! 😛

The Now & Not Yet: A Kingdom Theology Class

I’m happy to announce that I will be teaching a class at the Vineyard Boise this coming March on the central message of Jesus, i.e. that the kingdom of God has come, is coming, will be coming soon, and is delayed. This class is the result of ten years of study and is based upon my upcoming book on Kingdom Theology to be released in 2016 by Vineyard International Publishing.

If you are in the Boise, Idaho, area, I would encourage you to attend as it is going to be awesome! 🙂

You can sign up for the class on the Vineyard Boise website. I have also created a Facebook event page for the class that can be shared.

See you all there!! 😀

 

there now and the not yet class invite