31 March 2012

A Bailey Blog

I have another, temporary blog for the puppies we are raising. I'm doing a "Photo of the Day" each day that we have them. Go to www.baileypups.blogspot.com to check it out.
     Here is today's photo, called, "Puppies Lounging."

30 March 2012

Bailey had Pups ...

I was awakened last night by Susy's voice downstairs: "Brian!" she called out. It was about 2:45am and I was in a sound sleep.
       I staggered down the stairs and there was Susy leaning over the whelping box as our three-year-old Lab Bailey was giving birth to the first of NINE puppies. In all it took 5 hours for bailey to give birth. Susy and I stayed up with her the whole time.
       At 8:30 am I went into the office because I had work to do. I kept thinking to myself, "I feel like I did 20 years ago when Carly was a baby and I did not have a full night's sleep." Then I realized that that's EXACTLY how I feel because it is reality! And then I thought to myself, "I'm too old for this stuff!"
       Welcome to the nuttiness of our lives for the next 8 weeks as we have 9 puppies and two adult Labs in the house! How fun!

29 March 2012

"What do you DO?"

I have heard the question regularly in the past weeks and months. A friend who lives in Europe and serves an immigrant community is asked the question by people quite a bit. My friend and I joke with each other and ask the question to one another:
       So, what do I DO?
Here is my somewhat unconventional answer:
I help people confront their prejudices about people unlike themselves.
Huh? Ok, ok. So what do I really do?
       I really try to help people confront their prejudices about people unlike themselves.
       Most especially I desire to help Christians - those who follow Jesus - deal with their own "stuff" toward people they would otherwise dislike, or even despise.
       Some Christians have a "naive realism" towards certain cultures - for example, perhaps they believe that because the Jews are God's "chosen people" they are above correction. Or perhaps they believe that because someone is a Muslim he is "beyond hope."
       This is all about the walls we build between those who are very different than us. We can think that the walls protect us (high fences make good neighbors), but in the end they only isolate us.
       The apostle Paul tells us that Jesus is our peace, and that he is all about breaking down walls of hostility between Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 2). But this can only happen because of Jesus - the prince of Peace - and not because of some well-meaning humanitarian efforts.  The walls are simply too strong for that.
       So as my friend in Europe and I ask each other, What do you do??? 

28 March 2012

Oh, the Church, the CHURCH!

This photo captures something of what I believe the Church is to be - joyful, vibrant, fully alive, attractive. This past weekend I visited a church like this - and I came home jazzed about The Church.
       Flying back to Denver on Monday I reflected on what makes that church so alive. A few things struck me:
1. They are fully bought into God's mission in the world. This church was "missional" long before the word existed!
2. The only person this church is about is Jesus. It's not about a pastor and how good his sermon is or anything like that;
3. The church is extravagantly generous. They understand well that it's all God's anyway, and they have the privilege of investing His money;
4. They are innovative and risk-taking, not satisfied with success or the status quo;
5. The are corporately self-less. it's just not about them - not about a program or a building or survival or reputation. It is all about God and serving others for the Kingdom sake!
Oh, what a living-giving church!

27 March 2012

The Launch of Brain-Pain

I am thrilled that my friend Brad Klingenberg has launched Brain-Pain here in Denver - a new initiative to help those who are battling mental health issues in one way or another.
       I love the tagline of Brain-Pain ... Where Grey Matters! Is that great or what? I just love it!
       I love that Brad is not a professional counselor; he is just a pretty ordinary guy who has struggling with Bipolar and has done so with honesty, integrity, and a realness that is contagious.
       I love the down-to-earth nature of this movement. It's not flashy or "cool" in a sense.
       I love that it's raw ... and practical ... and birthed out of the very real-life experiences of Brad and his family.
       It is a privilege to walk alongside Brad as a friend and colleague. Brain-Pain is part of a network of groups which I am part of that seeks to reach out to and come alongside people who are often overlooked and marginalized.
       So here's to Brain-Pain and my friend Brad - Grey really DOES matter!

24 March 2012

Passover is in TWO Weeks!

The first night of Passover is in two weeks - on Friday, April 6th (it just so happens to be Good Friday). If you are interested in doing a messianic seder with your family and/or friends, I have written a Passover Haggadah (order) for the evening which you could use.
     Contact me at bnewman5280@gmail.com if you would like to order copies. They are $4 each which includes postage.
     Don't miss this great opportunity to enrich your faith and introduce others to the greatest redemptive story ever!


~ Brian Newman

19 March 2012

Going on the Record: Peyton Manning is a No Go

I am disappointed that the Denver Broncos will sign Peyton Manning as their quarterback and will thus release Tim Tebow.
While it is predictable that John Elway (VP of football operations for Denver) would make this move, I think it is wrong for a number of reasons.
       First, it gives no value to Tim Tebow's character as a person and player. In the end I don't think Elway had a clue how to deal with a player such as Tebow who refused to complain or attack critics. Tebow's class as a person freaked out Elway, and Tebow's popularity with fans caused Elway to feel stuck with him,
       Second, Peyton Manning has had a very serious injury related to his neck. I doubt that he should ever play again. If he gets hit hard by a defender he could be paralyzed. Does John Elway want to carry that risk? I suppose he does.
       Third, Peyton Manning will get a 5-year contract which will take him to 41 years of age as a quarterback. Really? 41 years old with a guy who has had three neck surgeries.
       I realize that professional sports is all about competing and winning a championship. I think the Denver Broncos chose a guy who used to be able to throw a football and may still be able to, and gave up on a guy who has not been able to throw a football well but may be able to learn. Both of these men are winners - I just think Tebow is a "winner" in so much more than football.

12 March 2012

Today I have 2 Adult Kids!

Carly and Steven at the White House, summer 2011.
An utterly classic photo of the two of them!!!
Today Steven turns 18 years old. Carly is 20 and soon-to-be 21. Susy and I have two adult children today! WooHoo!
       I could not be more proud of these two offspring of ours! They are so unique (and way different from each other) and have so much to contribute to the world! I am excited for the opportunities they have before them, and I am so proud to be their dad.
       So here is to Steven - aka Ishti Pisti in another life - Happy Birthday, my son. May you soar like an eagle!
As Aaron said to the Israelites, may this be true for you:
The Lord bless you and keep you,
The Lord cause His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.
The Lord turn His face toward you and give you Shalom.

07 March 2012

I Live Between Worlds

I live between worlds – between faiths, and cultures, and worldviews. And now I find myself ‘fitting in” less and less.
     I am a Jew who follows a rabbi – Jesus. I don’t “just” follow him; I have given my total allegiance, reputation, life, eternity to him.
     In the Western World people who follow Jesus are called “Christians” and are often Gentiles. I am not a Gentile, but I am a Christian.
     I spend time with people from Muslim backgrounds and people who reach out to Muslims; in every encounter I must weigh whether it is wise to tell the person I am Jewish. For some it is a great offense to be in the presence of a Jew, for a handful they are moved deeply by meeting a Jew for the first time and sensing some kind of kinship relationship.
     I spend time with people from Jewish backgrounds; to them I am an insider, one of their own … until they find out who I follow. Then they want to know when I stopped being Jewish and started being Christian.
     Symbols often mark a person’s identity. A yarmulke says you are a Jew, a Bedouin head dress that you are a Muslim. Neither of them indentifies whether you follow Jesus Christ or not. I enjoy wearing a variety of head coverings. They help me live between worlds I suppose.

05 March 2012

Modernity Meets the Middle Ages

Grasse, France (March 2012)
My friend and colleague Rogier took this photo of me two weeks ago when we were in France.
       I purposefully set up the photo with a subtle, but profound contrast. I am wearing a Nike shirt (thus the swoosh on my chest if you look closely) and have an ancient Palestinian-inspired headdress draped over my shoulders.
       Welcome to the clash of world views and time periods, which also reflects the tension and divide between European (modern) cultures and Islam (a Pre-modern world view).
       We do well to study and understand how the secular, Enlightenment-inspired European state collides with people from countries dominated by Islam - and a distinctly Middle Ages type of worldview. Granted, Islam is changing and morphing in Europe as people move from North African nations to France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and elsewhere. Nonetheless, it will continue to be a source of great tension and conflict for the coming generation in Europe.

02 March 2012

End of a Fruitful Trip

My friend Vincent lent me a head
covering during meetings in Grasse.
Never mind that it is PLO colors!
I am sitting at Heathrow Airport waiting for a flight from here to Washington Dulles and onto Denver. It has been a fruitful, exhilarating, and tiring trip and I am ready to go home and to see Susy and Steven.
       I spent 5 days in France with a community in Grasse which is led by our friends Vincent and Nicole. 12 of us gathered to consider ministry to and with "the others." It was a rich and intimate time in many ways, as we had the privilege of walking alongside a community of "others" there.
       After our time in Grasse a group of us headed to England and the Christian Associates leadership summit. Susy and I have journeyed with CA for many years now, these folk are "the tribe of our youth" as it were.
       CA is a group in transition and is changing in many ways from what it once was. That has its plusses and minuses, its ups and downs. Overall I think CA is on a good path, and I am grateful that its leaders have allowed us space to form and incubate the Isaac-Ishmael Initiative.
       Here is my major takeaway from the past couple of weeks in Europe: I have a greater sensitivity to the need for PRESCENCE and PROXIMITY for ministry amongst the "other."
       This was so evident to me when I decided to go from London to Amsterdam on Wednesday to visit a long-time friend who is battling cancer. She is not well and I felt that it was right to be present in her home with she and her husband and kids. We sat around the table for several hours eating American pancakes and sipping good Dutch coffee. It was a precious time, but it took me getting on a plane and spending the day traveling to do it. It required INTENTION.

01 March 2012

APEST Backlash

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. ~ Ephesians 4:11-13
       When I became a Christian in the early 1980s the role of shepherd-teacher was the "be all and end all" in the Evangelical Church. It was embodied by role models such as Chuck Swindoll, Charles Stanley, and John MacArthur. Churches grew based on the teaching ability of a central figure who "preached the Word."
       Many of us eventually reacted strongly to that, jettisoning this over-emphasis on head knowledge and the internal focus of shepherding and teaching.
In graphic form, we rejected this version of APEST:
       Alan Hirsch and others have sought to take a new look at Ephesians 4 and the five-fold ministry of the church, an attempt to recalibrate these inter-related callings.
       Interestingly enough, it seems to me that history is repeating itself. In reaction to the church's poverty in regards to the apostle and prophet we have apostolically minded people who... do the very opposite of 30 years ago. Now APEST looks something like this:
       I am wondering if it is possible to have a more integrated approach to this five-fold ministry, wherein the APOSTLE and the SHEPHERD are not only valued in words but live in dynamic tension as they both lead.