Tag Archives: Rick Love

Random Thoughts on Peace and Non-Violence

Like a lot of people, today has been an odd day with lots of thoughts floating my skull. It started last night though I knew nothing of the Las Vegas tragedy until this morning.

For me, my thoughts started with Thomas Cahill’s book Sailing The Wine-Dark Seas: Why the Greeks Matter which I was reading. In this book, Cahill notes that one of the most cherished philosophical foundation of Western culture is that war is a natural part of life. As Heraclitus (535-475 BC) once said, “War is the father of all, the king of all.” Plato (427-347 BC) would echo this saying years later with his statement that war is a necessity  “always existing by nature.”

Armed with this philosophical foundation, the Greeks developed a fighting style that could help them conquer the known world under the leadership of Alexander the Great. The Romans would later build on this foundation of war, gifting the Western world with the knowledge on how to kill people with great efficiency – as WW1, WW2, the Cold War, nuclear arms, and the like attest.

This morning on the way to work I found myself at a stop light staring at a “peace” sign made up of rifles with the phrase “There’s no peace without guns” next to it. As I sat there, I couldn’t help but think about the sadness of this saying… though it may make perfect sense to some, it seems counter to the way of Jesus of Nazareth who told his followers to turn the other cheek (Mt 5:38-40), love and bless those who hate them (Mt 5:43-48, Lk 6:27-36), and forgive those who harm them (Lk 23:34, Acts 7:60).

A few minutes after I saw this sticker, a NPR story came on about the Las Vegas shooting – which was the first I had heard about the tragedy….

Growing up I had a temper that went extremely well with my red hair. I would purposely pick fights with my older brother (who would then proceed to beat the snot out of me), friends, and various cousins. Though this temper dampened a bit as I grew older, it was an encounter with Jesus during my teen years that started me on a journey of learning how to control my emotions.

Years later I read Colin Woodard’s book American Nations which brought to light some of my feelings growing up. In this book, Woodard highlights the eleven different cultural nations within the United States. The area I grew up in was called the Greater Appalachia and was settled by folks from the “war-ravaged borderlands of Northern Ireland, northern England, and the Scottish lowlands” (a description that matches my family history perfectly). Immigrants from there areas brought with them a culture of personal sovereignty and individual liberty shaped by a “state of constant danger” and a need to protect their livestock (something cultural anthropologist have noted, especially in comparison with more farm based cultures which thrive in more peaceful areas).

I mention this background as I want you all to know that I understand some of the warrior culture that is rampant in the USA today. It is normal to want to fight back – to be on the winning side. It is also normal to want to hold on to the weapons allowed our forefathers to create this nation of ours. And, if I’m perfectly honest, there is part of me who wants to continue living this way. Only I met Someone who wouldn’t let me continue along that path…

The more I get to know Jesus, the more I realize that what I think is “normal” is really “abnormal.” Reading the four gospel accounts of the life of Jesus changed the way I viewed the world around me as well as how I read the rest of the Bible.

Then there are people like Rick Love, Micael Grenholm, and Brad Jersak who challenge me to think though the way of peace and non-violence. And, not to be forgotten, authors like Brian Zahnd, Greg Boyd, Desmond Tutu, and Alexander Venter provided me with additional puzzle pieces to hold and ponder.

Though I haven’t quite figured out how everything fits together; I do know is that I firmly believe that violence begets violence and revenge is something best left for the Creator. I don’t know what that means for public policy nor what I would do if personally attacked. I just know that I must continue my walk towards pacifism as it seems to be the direction Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is walking.

One day, the Creator promised, there will be no more war, no more death, and no more crying. Until that that day, I will cry with my brothers and sisters who suffer at the hands of mad men and women who think that violence is the way forward.

A Prayer

May the One Who Cries hold all those affect by Las Vegas close by,
May He shed tears of sorrow with them,
May He embrace their pain and give them peace,
May He bring comfort in the midst of unanswerable questions.

Christian-Muslim Relations and Peacemaking

My friend Dr. Rick Love, founder of Peace Catalyst International and consultant for Christian-Muslim relations in the Vineyard USA, was recently invited by the Turkish “Building Bridges Gateway” television program to talk about Christian-Muslim relations and peacemaking. This was an amazing opportunity to talk about the Prince of Peace (Jesus) to a global audience 60 million people!!!

What’s even better, is that, thanks to the internet, we here in the USA can watch the program that originally broadcasted on January 16th.  😀

Now for the a few highlights from the interview:

  • First off, I thought Rick did a great job in sharing the value of peace with the hosts. He also talked a bit about his work through Peace Catalyst International in bring conservative Christians, Muslims and Jewish leaders and lay-people together for friendship dinners. I really enjoyed the points he made when talking about the freedom of religion around the world – as in, people of all faiths should be allowed to build places of worship and talk about their beliefs without fear of persecution. The show hosts and other guest all agreed with this comment, saying how the freedom of religion is one of the first steps towards world peace.
  • Having very little personal interactions with Muslims (there are not many followers of Islam in rural Idaho for some reason…), I was taken back when one of the host’s made the comment that there was no such thing as a “Muslim terrorist.” Basically, according to the host, that label is an oxymoron as people who kill innocent people are violating the words of the Quran and, therefore, fall outside of Islam. He then backed this up with a quote from the Quran and in commenting about how there were Muslims and Jewish deaths during the 9/11 attack as well as Christian (I would add, atheists and other religions…but the show’s host didn’t mention that…). Powerful words coming from a Middle Eastern television personality….

wow…powerful stuff… I definitely recommend watching the program as it gives a different prescriptive on Christian-Muslim relations (especially since the main USA networks have a tendency to…hmm…well…bend things a bit…)


Some Of My Favorite Blog Sites…

A site I have been following recently asked for blog suggestions as they were looking for some new sites to follow. In thinking about that, I decided to list out some of my favorite blog sites for your reading pleasure. Note however that this is a very small list as I have over 80 sites on my RSS feed… yeah, I’m strange that way!  😛

Vineyard Related:

  • Jason Clark – Jason is a Vineyard church planter in SW London, UK, as well as a teacher at George Fox Seminary and a PhD student in theology at Kings College London. He has some great thoughts and conversations on the church, culture, mission, and theology in general.
  • WordHavering – Written by Mike Freeman, a Vineyard Boise (Idaho) pastor, this blog full of amazing “musings/haverings on God, theology, the Bible and the occasional movie.” While it may sound cliche, I would have to say that Mike’s style of write is refreshing and warm to the eyes.
  • As I See It… – Marty Boller is the pastor of the Cedar Rapids, IA, Vineyard church and has been exploring ways to move from focusing on size of a church building, money in the bank account and/or the number of folks attending to really, truly following Jesus and being missional to our communities
  • Peace Catalyst International – Peace Catalyst is an organization seeking to “stimulate peacemaking between individuals and between peoples.” Most of the articles are written by Rick Love, a truly peaceful and loving man, who severs as a consultant for Christian-Muslim relations in the Vineyard, USA.
  • Brambonius’ blog in English – Brambonius is a Belgium Vineyard guy who writes some eye opening posts about Jesus, Christianity and the Bible through a European worldview.
  • Carl Medearis – Carl is an international expert in the field of Arab-American and Muslim-Christian relations as well as the author of “Speaking of Jesus(one of the best books ever!). The thing I love about Carl is his passionate love for Jesus and the ability to separate the culture of “Christianity” from following the person of Jesus. Well worth the read!
  • Verse&Verse – A wonderful blog full of heart felt poems and deep views on following Jesus. It is written by Steven Hamliton who currently in the process of launching a Jesus community in urban Pittsburgh. He is also deeply involved with the Vineyard Anti-Slavery Team.
  • Captain’s Blog – Written by Chad Estes, this blog just oozes the freedom, mercy and love of Jesus to all people at all times. It is definitely a good site to have on your RSS feed.

Continue reading Some Of My Favorite Blog Sites…

The Kingdom in Columbus (Ohio)

Christianity Today recently published an article about the Vineyard Columbus’ (VC) heart to love people of all ethnicity and backgrounds:

“…(senior pastor Rich Nathan) has pushed to make sure VC’s ethnic makeup matches that of Columbus: currently 64 percent white, 28 percent African American, and 4 percent Latino. Since 2001, VC has gone from 10 percent to 28 percent non-majority persons, and each Sunday attracts people from 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties.

“There’s been a serious tipping point,” says Andy Saperstein, VC’s small groups pastor, noting that for over a decade now the church has prioritized reaching international communities and modeling racial diversity. Pastor (Bill) Christensen says outreach to African Americans began in 2000, and to immigrants and refugees in 2006. Now people from 104 of the world’s 196 nations attend weekend services, whose total attendance tops 9,000.”

The cool part about the article was the recognition of the tensions that exists whenever two or more cultures overlap:

“Is there tension? Absolutely,” says Christensen. “What do you do when a subcommittee has a highly organized American, a very organized Kenyan woman, and a Hispanic woman from Colombia who says, ‘I want to make sure we just feel really loose and let this thing happen’?”

A lot of times churches tend to either ignore these culture tensions or, sadly more common, force those of the minority culture to either leave or conform to the majority. From what I can tell (having never visited the church personally), it seems that the VC is doing what it can to try to blend multiple cultures and ethnic groups into one body of Christ.

Continue reading The Kingdom in Columbus (Ohio)

What are the most influential books in your life?

It is no secret that I am a bibliophilia (i.e. a lover of books). It is a strange thing as I used to hate books – that is until 4th grade when my brother and his best friend turned me onto Louis L’Amour. The rest, they say, is history.

Recently a friend was asked what where the top 10 influential books in his life – a task that proved to be very difficult. So much so that he decided to limit himself to 22 books.  Today I have decided to follow his example and list the top ten most influential books in my life (and yes, I have kept my list to 10).  🙂

The Short List (i.e. this is my running list of books that have had the most impact on my life)

1) “From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya : A Biographical History of Christian Missions” by Ruth Tucker (1989)

This book fueled my love of following the Goose to the crazy parts of the world. It also started me on the journey of enlarging my view of the Global Church.

2) “Foxe’s Book of Martyrsby John Foxe (1563)

A faith builder for sure. Oh to have a faith like these saints! May the Lord grant me the strength to stand firm each day.

3) “Breakthrough: Discovering the Kingdom” by Derek Morphew (1991)

Kingdom Theology 101: Probably the most influential theological book I have ever read. Continue reading What are the most influential books in your life?

Muslims, Magic, and the Kingdom of God by Rick Love

I know I wrote a reivew of this book before… but was while I was still in the first half of the book. I have now finished the book…so, by my rules, that means I need to write another review. Tongue out

Don't worry – I will make it quick, simple and fast. Laughing

On your mark…..get set….GO!

Don’t let the title fool you – it is not JUST about working with Muslims. In a lot of ways, it has helped me understand the post-modern worldview and the mindset of fringe groups here in the USA.

How? [@more@]

The book deals with how someone can claim to follow Islam (ie. a formal religion) while still using magically charms and spells for everyday events (ie. folk religion). This same breakdown is happening here in the USA where people claim to be following one religion while actually doing something else. This book helped me to understand how that is possible – and how to ministry to people living this way.

Oh – did I mention that that the book also gives a great Biblical, sane, practical view on spiritual warfare? In fact, I think Rich Love does more in one chapter then a lot of books do in 20!!

Trust me, this book is not just about Muslims – it’s about ministering to people bound by magic, charms and folk religions.




See that wasn't that painful. Simiple, short and too the point. Laughing

Muslims, Magic, and the Kingdom of God

I picked up an amazing book this last week while at the Missions Conference:  Muslims, Magic, and the Kingdom of God by Rick Love.

While I have not completed the book yet, I have read enough to recommend it to anyone interested in ministering to Muslims – or anyone outside of their cultural.

Dr. Love (yelp, he holds a D.Min and a Ph.D.) is the International Director of Frontiers (an organization dedicated to loving Muslims).

In this book, Dr. Love draws out the difference between formal Islam and folk Islam (read an excert here). Basically, to the majority of Muslims in the world, the formal religion of Islam answers all the ‘hard’ questions of heaven, hell and where we come from.[@more@]

But if they want their crops to grow good, find a job, or overcome a disease – they turn to the spiritual world around them (ie. the trees, ancestors, charms, etc). It is this folk Islam that really runs the show – not the formal religion.

This makes me wonder how many “Christians” are really folk Christians… They may confess a belief in Jesus, but when it comes down to the day-to-day struggles and happenings, how many people turn to charms, favorite prayers or rituals to gain God’s favor?

Formal Islam

  • Cognitive, Truth -oriented
  • Legalistic
  • Ultimate Issues of Life: Origins, heaven, hell, purpose
  • The Quran
  • Sacred Traditions
  • Institutional
  • Supplicative

Folk Islam

  • Heart-felt, Emotional
  • Mystical
  • Everyday Concerns: health, guidance, success, prosperity
  • Spiritual Revelation
  • Inspirational
  • Manipulative