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Fresh Dirt

Reflections on Theology, Ministry, and Life from Justin Spurlock

Updated: 2016-09-07T23:29:53.336-05:00


Great Leaders Do Not Manage Time


Great leaders use time and the random events that occupy time throughout the course of the day as a way of guiding their organizations.  Rather than attempting to manage their time, they lead the people they encounter as time is taken by each person, event, and meeting.  This article from Harvard Business Review explains:

Meeting Jesus at the Corner of Deerfield & Rosemary


I've always wanted to use Joan Osborne's "What If God Was One of Us" in worship.  On Sunday, CUMC's Betty Merta sang it as an introduction to my sermon entitled "Meeting Jesus at the Corner of Deerfield & Rosemary" (which is where CUMC is located).  

5th Sundays


My congregation uses the four 5th Sundays each year to do very unique worship that is children-oriented, lively and engaging. Besides the great benefits to the kids, the congregation gets the benefit of participating in non-traditional worship. I personally love the challenge to stretch my creativity and imagination to come up with a very unique worship service. Its a whole lot of work, time,

My Article is Featured on Immerse Journal Homepage


An article that I have written called Sort, Keep, or Toss is currently being featured on thehome page of Immerse Journal.  Go to their website and check it out.

A Prayer Shaped Life- Intro


"For at last I believe life itself is a prayer,and the prayers we say shape the lives we live,just as the lives we live shape the prayers we say;and it all shapes the kingdom which expresses itself in and among us,and for which we are guerrillas."(found in introduction of Guerrillas of Grace by Ted Loder)I find Loder's words to be right on. There is a mysterious interaction that takes place

Predestined 3: Characters, Plots, and Scripts on the Stage of Life


Like many raised in the church, I grew up thinking that I must discover God's will and plan for my life. God's sovereign will seemed to be very specific, involving very detailed plans of everyday life as well as the large decisions of life. This divine plan had to be sought out daily in prayer, reflected over while pouring over the Holy Scriptures, and always seemed like something that was just

Faithful Stewards & the Unscripted Life


When we give up the illusion that we can control our lives and destinies, when we forsake the idols of self-worship and being self-made gods, when we depart from the way of pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, we have the chance to live by trust on the road of the unscripted life. This is the journey of following Jesus who is out in front of us forging the way to a place we cannot even

Sovereignty, Predestination, and the Unscripted Life


Are some predestined to for salvation? Did God fore-ordain and elect some before the beginning of the world? Are some predestined to damnation? Do we have free-will? Is God in control of everything? Are we just robots in some cosmic game? These and other similar questions bubble to the surface in Christian conversations, especially in Reformed circles. Usually the conversations take place

Killing Cain


For many years now I occasionally ask other Christians a simple question, "Why is the story of Cain and Abel in the Bible? What is it meant to teach us?" Most often the response is something like the following, "It teaches us that killing is wrong." Others in the conversation often agree and then look at me and say, "I'm guessing you disagree." I have always been amazed at this little story.



So I saw an advertisement today for a whole new way of being church that is both post-modern and post-missional! Really? I mean, really? I am certainly someone who has defended the use of the "post-" reality world, but are we really going to talk about being post-missional? Isn't that akin to being post-purposeful or post-worshipful? I guess the "missional" seminars and cookie-programs have

And Darkness Was Over The Face of the Deep


Darkness. Abyss. Nothingness. Ignorance. The unknown shrouded in mystery. The universe is shrouded in a perpetual darkness. The more we see, the more we don't see. The more we learn and know, the more we realize just how much we are ignorant. We expand farther and farther outward gazing at the cosmos, while examining deeper and deeper discovering every quark or nuance of matter and energy

Abysmal Life-Giving Knowledge


"Revelation is not somethign that confirms what we already know. Basically, it has to do with knowledge of God and ourselves that is utterly surprising and disturbing. It is an event that shakes us to the core. Although it comes as a gift, offering us a glimpse of 'the very heart of mystery,' it si resisted because it is so threatening and frightening. The knowledge it conveys is an 'abysmal

Blessed Dishonesty


I am continually amazed at the Holy Scriptures and the worlds apart they are from our modern day American culture and American Christianity. Living on a Christian college campus again brings up all of the contradictory and complicated aspects of evangelical college student's faith lives. Exodus 1 is one of those chapters that throws a wrench in our nice spinning wheel. In this chapter, the

Bumping Into God


Occasionally my dog gets excited enough to run across the room, try to make a corner, misses and runs into the wall... something that is both very sad and very funny! The wall, of course, does not give at all, it has no way of responding or cushioning or shifting. However, when my dog runs and jumps on me, I move, cushion, and shift in order to take the impact.Is God a wall that does not move,

Naked before God


"Prayer is exposure.  Prayer changes us. It leads somewhere specific and is not just an aimless wandering with no discernible purpose in mind.  Its purpose is exposure to everything that is in us and the willingness to receive the inevitable changes that come as a result."-- Primary Speech: A Psychology of Prayer by Ann & Barry Ulanov

Twitter @ Church


Check out this story at Time Mag online.  I am certainly interested in both the positive and negative consequences of such a shift in church worship and ministry.  When I was in Fresno, teens would often text me while I was teaching... offering questions they did not want to ask out loud, offering contributive thoughts, etc.  I loved it.  However, I can also see a hyper-consumerist side to all of

Does God Have A Big Toe?


The following is an excerpt from the children's book Does God Have A Big Toe? When God first made the world, nothing turned out right, so God decided to start all over again. When the animals heard about hti, they were frightened. They decided to ask God not to end the world. But none of them knew where God lived, so they all flew and flopped, rolled and ran, jerked and jumped, crept and

Monotheism and Literacy


As one looks down the halls of history at the various religions that have existed, it is easy to see that monotheism arises as literacy spreads across a culture.  The ability to read and write fundamentally changes an individual's existence.  The way they think, reason, perceive, and understand after gaining the ability to read and write is fundamentally different than before these skills were

Competing Voices in Scripture


I spend the majority of my bible reading time in the Old Testament.  Since I was a young boy I have always been fascinated with the many stories found in this first testament.  When I was a teen, I found it perplexing that Proverbs seemed to have a different message than the prophets and that the prophets had a different message than the historical books, and the historical books a different

Some Moral Order Restored


Today was a very good day in America.  Indeed, some moral order was restored as President Obama did away with torture.  What has been amazing to me over the past 7 years are the number of Christians who have either looked the other way or outrightly endorsed torture.  Thankfully, as of today, some morality is restored.  We take up the great cause of being compassionate in the face of violence

Theology vs The Bible-- 1.0


From my earliest days, I was immersed in the Holy Scriptures. My parents would read the bible to me each night when I was really young and then somewhere around age 8 I started reading the bible daily on my own. By the time I was 10, I was reading several chapters a day and by 13, I was reading anywhere between 10-30 chapters each day. Needless to say, I'm a bit of a fanatic when it comes to

The Prophet Jeremiah


As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am fascinated with the OT prophet Jeremiah. I even see some parallels between this OT character and a certain contemporary controversial figure. Jeremiah is one of the most complex characters in the Bible never described or displayed in some monchromatic manner. This character has depth and shape and is complicated. Here is a quote from Louis Stulman in

What is Government?


Two blog posts in the past month from very different voices (Tony Jones and Travis Gilbert) have me thinking a lot about the nature of government the past few days. Over my life, I have given much thought to the idea of government, what is considered a legitimate government, and how Christians are to respond to government(s). Americans tend to assume that government refers to the nation-state.

Original Sin, Capitalism, and Socialism


Suprisingly to some of you, I hold a decently historical and orthodox view of original sin. Overall, it seems to me that humans are born in a state of sin that is inherited in some way-- I'm not tied in to any particular theory on transmission, in fact they all seem a little off and crazy. Recently, I've been discussing the ideas of capitalism and socialism with a highschool senior in my former

Render Unto Caesar...


In Mark 12:13-17, Jesus is put to the test by the Pharisees and Herodians by these questions: "Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?" Jesus then takes a denarius (one day's wage-- the sum of money one gets for giving his body to work for a whole day) and asks, "Whose head is this, and whose title?" Jesus then says, "Give to the emperor the