Ten Missiological Principles

Many moments of learning to be faithful lead me back to simple things like God’s desire to be near and close to humanity and creation. The God of the Bible is not one to be distant, full of vengeance, or cold-rigid-frigid. Incarnational, caring, compassionate, just. That’s the God of the Bible.

Followers of Jesus are called and sent into the world to be a certain type of person, live by a certain morality, and represent a King that is transcendent…yet in our midst. We are to live a compelling life that looks and feels like the heart of Jesus.

Ronald Rolheiser has become a spiritual mentor through his writings. I hope to have coffee, lunch, or dinner with him one day. In the piece he wrote here, there are ten missiological (being on a mission) principles to help us live out our faith in a secular society.

This spoke to me at a profound level:

“3) Spirituality is peoples’ birthright. The secular culture hungers for spirituality, but is largely spiritually illiterate. People go where they get fed.”

Ron Rolheiser

You’ll have to read the article for the other 9. Worth the read.

Vices To Avoid, Virtues to Adopt

In Nehemiah 9, there are two words that I’m curious about. They’re marked by a transition in the storyline, “But they…”, which signifies a turn.

The writer had just recapped all the things the Lord their God had done for them. It should have translated into a life of gratitude and humility. Instead, Nehemiah says they “became arrogant and stiff-necked”.

There is pride that is about a worthy pleasure or satisfaction of a hard days efforts. But this sort of pride being described is about arrogance. And arrogance is about about an exaggeration of someone’s importance or abilities. It reminds me of certain presidents we’ve had in our history, business leaders that have come and gone, and certainly spiritual leaders who struggle with this vice.

Arrogance…an exaggerated posture of our abilities and worth.


The other phrase is being stiff-necked. A commentary says,

“The imagery is that of an animal that struggles against having a yoke placed on its neck.”

Breneman, M. (1993). Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (electronic ed., Vol. 10, p. 239).

This image and phrase is about being stubborn. To be stubborn is to be so fixed on one’s position, even in the face of truth or good reasoning.

Arrogance and stubbornness.
Exaggerated views of self and an inability to be be open to sound reason.

A posture of gratitude and humility however, acknowledges that we have reasoned enough to know that we are limited in our knowledge, don’t know everything, so we’re grateful to receive from others, especially from God.

To live by virtues of gratitude and humility is to own our deficiencies and our limited resources and reasoning. That’s why we can follow leaders who are transparent, vulnerability, and who own their limited resources and reasoning.

In the context of a God-humanity relationship though, the stakes seem higher. The Nehemiah 9 passage is labeled as a confession of sins storyline. It acknowledges that there is a God who has chosen a people, is from everlasting to everlasting, glorious, exalted above all, gives life to everything, and is faithful. This God also hears our cries and sees our suffering, and then delivers and makes it right.

The writer does another “But” to transition yet again. This time, the transition signals a turn to acknowledge who God is:

  • forgiving
  • gracious
  • compassionate
  • slow to anger
  • abounding in love
  • does not abandon us in (even when we abandon God)
  • Gives His good Spirit to instruct
  • Sustains them in the wilderness

Sounds like the kind of life I’m looking for. For my marriage, parenting, work, friends, and inner life. These are great virtues to live by which are shaped and formed in the context of a covenantal relationship and Lordship to Christ Jesus our Lord.

I keep turning to God because I met by his loving kindness, compassion, and sustaining power! God keeps abounding in love for me and the world! That’s enough for me to keep devoting my life to Jesus.

Lebron James and Home Building

Home is still the primary place where we shape and form the future. It’s a great reminder for me to be (and live out) what I want my kids to become in this world (what a tall order!).

And it’s also a reminder that the Church is called to be a social communal reality of God’s presence as family. It’s why there are more and more people who don’t care to show up to a church service on Sunday, but will share a meal during the week, spend time with others in other settings for the sake of having honest, loving, truthful relationships.


“You can have all the support in the world while you’re at school or while you’re at basketball and while you’re playing sports or anything, but if you go home and it’s not stable and you don’t have any stability there, you can resort back to the negative things or the bad habits that you might have.”

Lebron James, https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/28007714/lebron-james-help-build-housing-promise-school-families

The Laundromat Movie – Theology Review

“The meek will inherit the earth…” Matthew 5:5

A movie about power, money, and corruption has this two characters that quote this verse. One quotes it in a church after hearing the priest preach about it. The other quotes it after their husband dies and is looking for justice.

Both characters were taught that to be meek meant to be passive. One had an eschatological view (end of time) that the meek would inherit the earth sometime when Jesus returns. But certainly not in the present time.

To be meek, biblically speaking, is to not abuse power or not to be arrogant and oppressive. It means to use power under the Lordship of Christ. We use our power for the benefit of others; not at their expense.

In the movie, The Laundromat, both characters had a different biblical interpretation that in some ways, shaped their lives and decisions. It matters how we interpret and how we theologize. It’s partly why I’m constantly reading and reflecting. I’m seeking integrative truth to believe and live from.

The one character (Meryl Streep) who is seeking justice from a corrupt political and banking system ends up going under cover to expose the companies for their deceitful practices. She used meekness to seek justice. The other character (Antonio Banderas) misused his power and knowledge to take advantage of others, not wanting to know what these shell companies were actually doing. They called it privacy. But this was not privacy. This was a sin of omission…a failure to know their clients and their business purposes. In fact, they did know what their clients were doing but kept hiding behind “privacy laws”. This is the exact opposite of what meekness and justice are.

From an eschatological perspective, we don’t wait for Jesus to enact justice at the end of time. We’re to seek justice with an attitude of meekness. If something is wrong, we’re to do something about it. And we’re to do it with meekness and Jesus does.

The movie is a great reminder to keep doing the work of theology to deepen our understanding. It takes work and effort to think through ethical matters and biblical understanding. We need an integrative approach to keep seeking truth. And it’s a great reminder that integrative theology affects how we do business, runs companies, and do life together.

Oceanside Church Planting Update

Letter Ethnos Network Global Church Gathering 2019


To My Ethnos Network Fam:

Hi!  Roy here from Oceanside, CA (San Diego North County).  I wanted to say how sad I am that I can’t be there with you this week.  

Some Family Updates

Recently, my mother in law had life saving surgery.  She was going into septic shock and the doctors were able to find what was happening and correct it immediately.  Unfortunately, she has had some setbacks and my wife Christina and I have become her caretakers. She has been in and out of the hospital several times these last 6 weeks.  

The good news is that the doctors now think that she is improving and needs to keep resting.  My mother in law is a strong woman of faith and I’m grateful for that since she’s been through a lot.

As you could imagine, I could not–in good faith–leave my family and be out of the country.  While Christina does much of the attending to her mom, we have two young teenage boys–Christopher and David–to attend to.  My family is my first church to pastor.  

Church Planting Updates

We’ve had to put the church plant on hold for now to attend to my mother in law.  But God continues to give me a love for our beautiful city. I ask that you help pray for the following:

  • My mother in law’s health.  Her name is Victoria.
  • Our marriage and immediate family so that we might be good caretakers.
  • My ministry as a pastor in the marketplace.  I pastor 600 employees, supervise two chaplains that each serve different clients.  In total, we serve close to 1000 employees in the San Diego area (and their family members).  God is up to something in the marketplace!
  • For the City of Oceanside.  That God would plant vibrant, multi-ethnic/cultural/class churches that serve the marginalized, the poor, and underserved for the sake of Jesus.

We’re grateful to be in partnership with you and hope you have a deep time of refreshing and renewal!

Practicing Becoming Like Jesus in the Workplace

Being in the marketplace is a gift to see how God is shaping and working who you and I are becoming. Most of our becoming is happening in the daily grind.

Our mindset and resolve to be like Jesus requires desire and duty. Desire is birthed out of our intimacy with Jesus. Duty is sustained by grace.

One practice that is helping me stay focused on who I am becoming is to pray in the morning, midday, and afternoon. I was eating lunch with a group of employee friends and someone made a comment about the scripture I was reading. We ended up talking about how we eat three times a day and I responded by saying that humans don’t live by bread alone, but by the very words of God.

Here’s an excerpt from a book of prayers that I read each day:

“Lord, my God, King of heaven and of earth, for this day please direct and sanctify, set right and govern my heart and my body, my sentiments, my words and my actions in conformity with Your law and Your commandments. Thus I shall be able to attain salvation and deliverance, in time and in eternity, by Your help, O Savior of the world, who lives and reigns forever. Amen.”

Tickle, Phyllis. The Divine Hours (Volume Two): Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime (p. 75). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
link: amazon

By midday, some of us are wondering who is really Lord. Is it my manager, the company owner, the stock market? Whose really in charge? Can I, in the middle of my work day, say, “Lord, MY God and King”. Imagine what that prayer does to our hearts and minds you just got into a conflict with a coworker or your project isn’t flowing you planned it.

These written prayers, inspired by the Psalms and the Bible, help give me language to pray. They also fill my heart and imagination to see how God is at work in my life.

If you haven’t heard, God cares about the workplace, the tasks, and the people. In fact, God longs to redeem and renew each aspect of the workplace.

I’m glad you went to church on Sunday. But it’s Monday and the worshipful response now starts. It starts with simple prayers, meditation, listening, and being mindful of God’s presence shaping and forming you to become like Jesus.

Church Memories

When I was a young kid (into my late teens), I belonged to a church community. From the ages of 10 until I was 20, I attended the same church.

A predominantly Latino American church, we had three services: 830am, Sunday school, 11am, and Spanish service at 2pm.

This is where I learned about Jesus, community, and how to play the drums.

Youth group was fun.
Music was rich.
People were caring.

I couldn’t wait to attend midweek and Sunday services. I loved everything about it. Most Sundays, we had a lunch break and the food was amazing. Or we’d go somewhere to eat and keep hanging out.

I made so many friendships, and mentors spoke into me. I’m a chaplain because of them.

One thing led to another and the church went through a horrible split. Friends left. Families were torn. What we had disappeared in the wind after some months. The next 6 years weren’t any better.

I haven’t been the same since then.

I’m grateful for the two communities we’ve been a part of. But it hasn’t been the same. It shouldn’t.

Sundays, I’d get up early, pray, and head to church where I’d be until late at night (choir practice). I looked forward to it all. Experiencing God and community. It was exciting and memorable.

Sundays have become something else for me. The magic of a Sunday morning is still there, but different.

I’m sad most Sundays. I drive 25 min to another city. I don’t get to sing in Spanish. I miss that.

The music isn’t the same. The musical community and mentoring… Gone.

I don’t get to hear the older women call me over in Spanish and offer me food or ask me how I’m doing.

I’m looking for something on a Sunday morning that had the same community and experiences I had, without the baggage that led to a split.

That split (and a subsequent church experience) hurt me to the core. I’m over it but not OVER it. I carry the memories of something I felt, but haven’t had in a while.

I’m not blaming or trying to say my current Community isn’t good. It’s not them, it’s me.

I know that.

There’s a part of me that wants what I had in the past. But I wouldn’t last in it. There’s a reason it split: good theology and leadership matter.

I have to do the work of finding and building community. That’s now on me. Nobody else.

I do hope that I’ll be able to be part of a community where I hear worship in Spanish and get to smell authentic Mexican cuisine.

Caring for Aging Parents

As a Chaplain, I’ve visited employees’ parents and have prayed with the family as they work through health issues requiring more caregiving from the adult-children.

Stability Undone

Imagine that you have a way of living, set routines that allow you to connect with your immediate family, work at your own pace, and a sense of stability. Then imagine all of that coming to a halt because of an aging parents’ health condition taking a turn. Work and home life schedules destabilized. Concerns of the health condition, finances, and proximity to the parent are all stress factors that are being worked through in real time.

Nonconstructive Responses to Health Issues

How do we respond to challenges such as our parents going through health concerns? We love and want to honor them during a loss of health (among other losses). Howard Clinebell says that people can respond in ways that actually create more of an emotional tailspin, causing more problems than needed. Here are some nonconstructive responses from people:

  • Denial that a problem exists.
  • Evasion of the problem (via alcohol or drugs, for example).
  • Refusal to seek or accept help.
  • Inability to express or master negative feelings.
  • Failure to explore the nature of the crisis and alternative solutions.
  • Projection onto others of major responsibility for causing and/or curing the crisis.
  • Turning away from friends, family, and other potentially helpful persons.

During health changes with aging parents, adult-children themselves need care, nurture, and supportive skills to manage the crisis. The threat of loss can be stressful and anxiety-ridden. An adult-child will most likely feel grief at a deep level, causing anxiety and a sense of being disoriented as they adjust to new normals.

Clinebell says that:

A crisis occurs within persons when their usual problem-solving activities are ineffective, allowing the stress of unmet need to rise unabated. The stress stems from the deprivation of the satisfaction of some fundamental physical or psychological needs.

Clinebell, Howard,McKeever, Sister Bridget Clare. Basic Types of Pastoral Care and Counseling: Resources for the Ministry of Healing and Growth

A crisis has a way of halting our usual patterns of coping in life, causing a tension of new needs and stresses to figure out how to maneuver.

I’ve seen people have more stress and act out in unhealthy ways when the lack of healthy crisis response skills are not sought.

If the problem is not resolved, the inner stress of unmet needs mounts until it reaches another threshold—the breaking point where major personality disorganization (psychological, psychosomatic, interpersonal, or spiritual illness) occurs.

Clinebell, Howard,McKeever, Sister Bridget Clare. Basic Types of Pastoral Care and Counseling: Resources for the Ministry of Healing and Growth

Finding a New Normal

The best I can do as a chaplain is to help the person think through options and goals during this time. Here is where Clinebell really shines in his approach to helping people cope with the crisis:

  • Facing the problem.
  • Enlarging ones understanding of it.
  • Expressing and working through negative feelings such as resentment, anxiety, and guilt.
  • Accepting responsibility for coping with the problem.
  • Exploring alternative ways of handling it.
  • Separating the changeable from the unchangeable in the situation, and avoiding wasting precious energy by trying to change the unchangeable.
  • Surrendering grandiose, burdensome aspects of one’s self-expectations.
  • Opening channels of communication with helpful people among relatives, friends, and professional persons.
  • Taking steps, however small, to handle the problem constructively.

Christ Jesus Faces Problems

It seems like Jesus models facing problems head on throughout the Gospels. If someone is sick, He visits. If someone dies, He weeps and goes to family’s home. When religious leaders are misusing power, He deals with it directly.

The ultimate problem is the Cross. He wants to avoid it, not face it when He prays to the Father to find an alternative options. During the prayer, He ends up saying, “Not my will but your will be done”. He does this three times!

As a chaplain, I’m trying to help people see the situation for what it is, helping them face the gravity of the problem and then asking God for the wisdom to walk through it with grace, trust, and peace. Options. Possibilities. Reflecting on the type of people we want to be during this time. Seeking meaning.

For me, as I provide care for my family members who are going through health issues, I want to see myself as a person who is safe, loving, and nurturing. I want to be the type of person that knows God longs to equip and help shape my character to reflect Christ in all circumstances. This means sacrificing, seeking a deeper meaning and purpose to the situation, being a faithful presence.

Becoming Intentionally Worthless

“they followed worthless idols and became worthless”
“They lived a “nothing” life and became “nothings”

2 kings 17 (NIV, MSG)

Before I exposit my deep knowledge, I’ve been trying out different ways to read the bible on a daily basis. I’m not the best at it but I’ve been trying different lectionaries. The Daily Lectionary is based off the Book of Common prayer (and if it’s not, please correct me). It has a New Testament Reading, Gospel Reading, Old Testament (OT) Reading, and Psalms readings. There is a thread of themes weaved into the readings. I highly encourage this mode of reading.

Today’s passages were a struggle. I got stuck looking up Asherah polls and worship from the OT. Why would the people of God keep turning to other belief systems when Yahweh was their belief system?

We tend to be inward, self-preservation type of people. Some of it is healthy. Some of it is destructive when it interferes with personal health and communal vitality.

We believe and behave certain ways because we get something out of it. Because it may appear to work in the moment.

I believe that trusting God as the primary source of making meaning in life is vital to who I am and become. And yet there’s a bit of self-preservation in that statement.

I don’t want to have a “worthless” or “nothing” type of life. It just doesn’t sound appealing or a worthy endeavor.

I’m very curious about how we become who we are. It’s something that has fascinated me for years.

How do we become believers of Jesus?

How do we become good musicians?

I saw a very nice BMW car the other day and the license plate decal spelled the words CREATE WEALTH. For that person, wealth was very important. He had his two kids in this great looking and expensive car and it appeared that he learned how to create wealth. I don’t know for sure because all I see is his high priced car. But does that mean he’s wealthy and has learned how to create wealth. And who will he become in the next five years? Is creating wealth going to help him become a “someone” in life, someone worthy?

The Kings passage is contrasted with Peter confessing that he was a sinner and was not very holy. With Peter praying for a deceased woman who comes back to life and then spends a designated amount of time in this new town. With Psalm 66-67 that speak of God’s creative power and our commitment to make vows with God.

The people of Israel sought prosperity by believing in Asherah worship. Peter and the Psalms writer is seeking direction from the God who created all things.

The people of God ended up slavery. The apostle Peter became the head of the church and a martyr for the sake of Christ, the Victorious one.

The people of God wrestled with their beliefs and allegiance.

Peter wrestled with trusting Jesus to be Lord.

There’s that flippin word again: Lord.

What might happen if I follow Jesus? Will I become worthless and live a “nothing” life? It doesn’t seem to be the case. But I still struggle with this followship effort.

Taking the Reality of the Church for Granted

As I’ve been working on church planting, one thing I’ve realized is that the concept of church has to start with God’s heart (mission) for humanity and this world.

If you’ve grown up in church, then sometimes the language of what church is about seems familiar and “known”.

But I’ve noticed that I’ve taken the reality of Church for granted.

What is the purpose of a church?
Why would someone make a decision to be a part of one?
What is God’s heart towards the Church at large and local church?
What is our role in God’s mission for our local city and the world?
What is the work of the church?

I’m not interested in planting another Sunday service in Oceanside. I’d just really like to worship with others, be reminded of who God is and how I might respond in faithfulness.

I’m interested in partnering with others to grow up to be like Christ in life, words, actions, and relationships.

And I’m interested in doing the work of Jesus via the church with others, learning from each other as we submit to the Lordship of Christ.

I don’t have the darnest clue of how to gather folks to figure this out. But I’m praying that the Holy Spirit is at work in the small seed of desire to be an incarnational presence in our city.