Category Archives: Interviews

Skid Row is Holyground

Recently we came across a great online video magazine called Enoch Magazine. It intrigued us. So we decided to find out more. After finding out more about them, the more we liked them and their vision. Here is an interview we recently had with Nate Smith, Managing Editor of Enoch Magazine.

Tell us a little about Enoch Magazine. What is it? And why is it?

Enoch Magazine is a non profit media movement that exists online. We travel and film documentaries that show God’s glory in unique and different ways. We also interview bands, have dj mixes, articles, and more. Our big focuses are the homeless and finding out what people’s perception of Jesus is. We started Enoch because we were frustrated with a lot of the Christian Media available out there. It seemed so much of it was living in the Christian bubble and it was frustrating. We wanted to take a different angle. We wanted to find people who are truly serving God but their not famous or anybody special and document that.

What obsticles do you face with running the magazine?

Well honestly finances and time. Its hard to fund all of our trips when we give all our content away for free. That’s ok though. Look in the Bible and never once did they charge to hear Jesus speak or did the disciples ever ask to be paid. We live in an age where we are constantly being bombarded by the digital and print world. If you don’t have a lot of money than you can’t advertise or if you don’t have a lot of time to post your content all over the internet people might not find it. I still work a part time to help fund trips and its hard sometimes to find a good balance.

How has Enoch challenged your faith?

That’s a great question. It seems with Enoch I take it a day at time. Most of the time you don’t know who is reading the articles or watching the videos so you can’t directly see God working. It’s made me remember that in faith God is always behind the scenes and always working and many people don’t give him the credit he deserves. Its made me grow in my trust in finances. We are moving our magazine to Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles and I have no money and barely enough to cover the gas to get there but I am trusting God a day at a time. It makes me realize he will take care of me. It sounds cliché but he seems to always come through. I definitely have thrown in all my cards with God so I have no choice but to be faithful.

Tell us more about the documentary Skid Row is Holyground that you guys created a few months ago.

A little over a year and a half ago my partner in the magazine Carter Theis wanted to go to a place he was scared of and see God show up. He wanted to go to Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles and film a documentary about what the need was there. For those of you who don’t know Skid Row is a 9 by 9 block in Downtown Los Angeles where they estimate 15,000 to 20,000 homeless people are living. For us it was about also growing in faith and trusting that the Lord would protect us in what is considered one of the most dangerous places in the United States. That was out first trip and we’ve been back 4 times since then. Over the last year and a half we have released a series of videos called Skid Row is Holyground on the Enoch Web Site. We hope to eventually put out a DVD of our whole experience. We are moving there in a few weeks and we will putting out weekly videos on the Enoch Magazine site and also on Skidrowisholyground.com.

Enoch is moving their headquarters to Skid Row in LA. Why the move and how did the passion develop within you guys for one of the most dangerous communities in California?

Every time we were out there on the streets we hated leaving after we had connected with that community. By just making videos we felt we were not doing enough. We wanted to be down there every day truly making a difference. So, after a few trips we decided that we should move Enoch Magazine to Skid Row. There is never a dull day on Skid Row. It’s exciting! There are so many ministry opportunities down there too. You can do anything from Street Evangelism to music to feeding to discipleship and so much more.

What are some of the needs you are facing?

Well our number one need right now is finances. We have partnered with a ministry called the Jonah Project (jonahproject.org) and we are in the process of buying a building on Skid Row. This building will not only serve as the Enoch Magazine Headquarters but also as a place that will be open for the homeless everyday. They will be able to get fed, get new clothes, go to bible studies and services on Sundays. We also want to have a place to throw concerts that are specficially for the homeless. This building will also be a place that mission groups can come and serve and stay. We want people to come to Skid Row and have the same experience we had on our first few trips. We actually have a website for the building called Skidrowisholyground.com

How can people connect with you?

People can connect with us by going to Enochmagazine.com or Skidrowisholyground.com. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace or email us at info@enochmagazine.com.

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Scouting the Divine: An Interview with Margaret Feinberg

Recently we had a conversation with Margaret Feinberg, author of the new book, Scouting the Divine. We asked her questions about her pilgrimage across the US, caring for a flock of sheep, and Wal-Mart. And this is what she had to say…

Have we heard incorrectly or did you recently come to Oregon, our neck of the woods (or should we say “God’s country”), to spent time with sheep?

I love me some Oregon. Seriously, I HEART the Pacific Northwest. After spending five years living in Alaska, it’s hard not to fall in love with your region of the country. Almost a decade ago, I met a woman from outside of Portland who took care of sheep. I never forgot our meeting all the rich spiritual insights that emerged from her simply talking about caring for a flock. Last spring, I tracked her down, cold called her, reintroduced myself, and garnered an invitation to spend time in her home and among her sheep. The experience was unforgettable.

Why ‘Scouting the Divine?’ Where did this concept come from?

I’ve become increasingly aware that the agrarian world of the Bible is distant from my modern suburban lifestyle, so I decided to be intentional about closing the gap. I went on my own “stay-grimage.” or “spiritual pilgrimage” in the United States. I spent time with the shepherdess in Oregon, a farmer in Nebraska, a beekeeper in Colorado, and a vinter in Napa Valley. With each person, I opened the scripture and asked, “How do you read this—not as a theologian—but in light of what you do everyday?” Their answers changed the way I read scripture forever.

Can you spend a minute and tell one of the truths that impacted you personally while writing Scouting the Divine?

There were so many spiritual discoveries. One I’ve been gnawing on lately came from my time with the beekeeper. I asked him why he thought the Promised Land was described as a land overflowing with milk and honey. The land could have been described as anything—the land of ginormous pomegranates or luscious olive oil. Instead, God chose to make the land famous for overflowing with milk and honey. When I asked the beekeeper, he noted that a land that overflows with honey means that everything is working in its proper order. The winter snows don’t melt too late. The summer heat isn’t overwhelming. The rain falls at its appointed time. The first freeze doesn’t arrive too early. If any of these factors are out of alignment then the grasses and flowers can’t bloom to their full potential and the bees can’t produce honey in abundance. That means that one of the defining characteristics of the Promised Land is that everything works in it’s proper order. I want to enter that Promised Land in my own life.–where I’m living in the season of life God has placed me in to my full potential.

On a side note, we’ve always been impressed – from following you on Twitter and reading your blog – that, despite the busyness of ministry, you prove to remain passionate about your relationship with Jesus. What are some practical things that you do to keep that passion fresh?

Even in the midst of a busy schedule, I try to take care of myself. This may sound so unspiritual, but I try to make sure I’m getting enough sleep. I carve out mornings when I allow my body to drink in as much sleep as it needs. Why? When I’m well-rested, I’m less like to make foolish decisions that lead me into sin and it’s easier to connect to God and respond to His leadings and nudging. I have a hunch the people of God would be far more effective if we were well-rested. In addition, I love to read what I call Bible nerd books. I read commentaries, studies on ancient Israel and obscure books that really feed my spirit and soul. And Leif and I read a Walter Bruegermann prayer aloud together. It’s one of the sweetest moments of our day.

When does Scouting the Divine release and how can people purchase it?

Scouting the Divine is available October 1 and the accompanying six-week DVD study releases from Lifeway in January 2010. You can check it out on amazon.com, borders.com, or my own site—which is launching all-new in October!–www.margaretfeinberg.com. For all you Facebookers, I’m on as Margaret Feinberg and for all you twitters, you can find me @mafeinberg.

Next time you’re in Oregon herding sheep, you’ll have to stop by and say hi.

Would love to! I’ll be speaking at Living Hope Church in Vancouver, Washington, and George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon, in November.

BONUS: When I think of Wal-Mart, I think of … the hidden story of Sam Walton’s heart for caring for the poor that isn’t heard or heralded oenough. I just got back from Bentonville, Arkansas, home of Wal-mart, and discovered countless stories of outrageously generous and good things being done by this shopping behemoth. You’d be surprised at just how much!

007A popular speaker at churches and leading conferences such as Fusion, Catalyst, and LeadNow, Margaret Feinberg (www.margaretfeinberg.com) invites people to discover the relevance of God and His Word in a modern world. Audiences love her ability to connect the practical with the spiritual. Recently named by Charisma magazine as one of the “30 Emerging Voices” who will help lead the church in the next decade, she has written more than a dozen books including the critically-acclaimed The Organic God and the Sacred Echo (Zondervan). People of all ages connect with her relational teaching style. Margaret currently lives in Morrison, Colorado, with her 6′8″ husband, Leif. When she’s not writing or traveling, she enjoys anything outdoors, lots of laughter, and their super-pup, Hershey. But she says some of her best moments are spent communicating with her readers. So go ahead, become her friend on Facebook, or tag her on Twitter at @mafeinberg.

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Anne Jackson: What Are You Rethinking?

Rethink Monthly: Maybe it’s a passage or something that God has been laid on your heart. Maybe it is someone who has spoken to you, or if you’ve sat through a service that may have impacted you. Or maybe it’s the message you are bringing with your book. The simple question is, “What is God causing you to rethink right now?”

Anne Jackson: The biggest thing that God is causing me to rethink is how we, the church in America, look at the church globally. The church in America has a great heart in that we care for the poor, and there are definitely churches doing really amazing things in countries that need our help, and at the same time, I think that there is so much more for our eyes to be open to.

I have had the experience in the last year of being able to travel to three third-world countries. I have been to Uganda, the Dominican Republic, and just recently to India, and the churches there don’t even have basic technology such as running water, toilets, air conditioning, or mattresses. I mean there are so many basic things that we just take for granted in our own world that they don’t have. To see how the Holy Spirit moves inside those churches without the modern technology is just incredible. I think we have a lot to learn from them, and we also have a responsibility to equip and resource them.

It talks in the New Testament that if a man has enough money to live well, then he should be generous with the poor. I also think that since all of us are in this economic struggle and we have things we are struggling with financially, comparatively to the rest of the world, we still have a lot of money too, as well. We have roofs over our heads and cars and debt, (laughing). For most of us it is not hard to figure out how we are going to eat. Definitely in America we have access to clean drinking water, so we have this wealth, and it is our responsibility to be generous to those who don’t. I think that is something God has been showing me, and challenging me in my own world, is what? Not that we should all sell our houses, go live in trailers, and not go to a drastic extreme, but He does say to use our money responsibly, if we have enough to live well. We need to seek His will for each one of us, and it will be different for each one of us. We need to be obedient to that because it’s going to require a sacrifice. I think that is what makes it obedient, is that it is sacrificial.

RM: Do you think we have reaching out to people locally, down? Do you think we need to work on that first or do you think we need to tackle both? How do we go about doing that?

AJ: I don’t think the Bible discriminates and says only go into third-world countries and resource people. Here in Tennessee, I read a really startling statistic that one out of every three children under the age of 18 do not have access to food all the time. That’s just in Tennessee, which is the south where we have big cities, and that really surprised me. I think it was one of out of six adults who don’t have access to food. They don’t know if they will always get a meal. There are definitely huge needs here, especially with the economy.

I think the church is always praying for opportunities like, “God, show us how we can share your love to the world; show us how we can share your love to the community.” Could we have asked for a better opportunity that is staring us right in the face? The church I am on staff at is located in a poor part of town, we have a lot of suburban attendance on weekends, but during the week we have so many homeless people that need assistance like money for gas or for food; everyday there is just an influx of people with these needs. You can tell by looking at some of them that they are homeless, you can tell their skin is weathered, had it rough for a while. Some of these people used to work in a hospital but they got laid off and they seriously don’t know how they are going to pay their rent. So, it is just the church looking to what opportunity God has placed in front of them. For Compassion, specifically, God has placed relationships in the Dominican and in India, and right here in Nashville. It’s just being obedient to what those things are. Some people are going to be all over the world, and some people are going to be within six blocks of their church. It is an “opening-our-eyes” thing; God where do you want me to serve, and then doing it. You know how when you go on a mission’s trip and you do something good or serve someone how you feel so good afterwards? I think that is because we are living out our purpose, because our purpose in life is to love people the way Christ loves them. Once people start doing that, they will get hooked pretty easily and that can have a huge impact on the world.

RM: So, basically, it’s learning how to love a lot?

AJ: You are absolutely right. There is a verse that says if someone has the love of Christ in them, people will be able to tell, because of their actions that have been transformed. So if you love God or serve God just on the weekends or Sundays, or you love your family or your small group, and it is all a very introverted kind of love, then it is hard to see the love of Christ in that, and not that I am judging anyone’s salvation, but if someone has been transformed by the love of Christ on the inside, then it will show on the outside. It has to be like that. Now the Bible says that, not me.

RM: When you were overseas the last time you started the compassion bloggers. Have you seen any benefits from doing that?

AJ: Oh yes definitely! I think there are a few ways personally that I am getting involved and continuing to still listen and seek the words of God. Blogging for compassion has been incredible. They have taken three trips, and I have had the opportunity to go on two of those, and I think we are nearing somewhere like 2,500 children that have been sponsored for those trips. There were over 1,000 sponsored on our last trip to India, about 1,000 for Uganda, and about 500-600 from the Dominican Church.

So that is 2,500 lives, not just the children’s lives, but their families have been changed by that, which is definitely an effective way to get anyone involved. Anyone can read a blog, but it is our job to tell a story of what we see and to pray with people to see that through God’s eyes, and their lives will be changed by sponsoring. Personally, I am truly a believer that if you are not living like you are preaching, then there is nothing solid behind your message.

My husband and I are completely evaluating how we can live on less and give more. We have decided to downsize and are moving into this little 800 sq. ft., one-bedroom cottage that our friends are renting to us for really cheap. We have paid off our credit cards, and it has taken us a while to get to this point, and we are at a point where we are giving “this much” away, and we are evaluating how we spend our money on monthly expenses, so what’s next? What else can we do? We have found that God has always provided. He has placed in our hearts this incredible dream that we don’t have to change the world, but if we can change one life, and Jesus says, “If you do this to the least of these, you have done it unto me.” He didn’t say do it to multitudes, He says if you do it to one person, you are doing it to me. I think that is very powerful, and it can be overwhelming to think that there are a million children that are going to die of malaria this year. And because it is so overwhelming, just focusing on doing on what is in front of you, and who God has placed in front of you, and those opportunities is very empowering and God will equip you to meet those needs. He wants to use us to meet those needs.

Anne Jackson is a former PK, and also has served in a variety of full time ministry roles for the last half-decade. Her blog, www.flowerdust.net, is ranked as one of the highest blogs in Christian leadership with hundreds of thousands of pageviews each month. She is an advocate for Compassion International. Anne and her husand Chris life in Nashville, TN.

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Jud Wilhite: What Are You Rethinking?

Rethink Monthly: In your personal life, is there anything that God is speaking to you that is causing you to rethink the way that you do things in your own life?

Jud Wilhite: Yeah, I think the one thing just this last week, I have been really convicted by is that I think my prayers are too small. I have been reading about the Great Awakening in America and just thinking about how the entire city of Philadelphia went out to a field and heard George Whitfield speak. It has happened before, and like how small my prayers are to imagine the entire city of Las Vegas going out in the desert to hear a message about Christ. I have just been trying to expand my thinking so I will tell you how that played out this weekend. I saw something that I have never seen this weekend. It is one of the things I want to talk to you about on the church side. You know what, I’ll wait. As far as this question goes, I think the big challenge that I have wrestled with is my prayers are too small, and our God is soooo much bigger than I give Him credit. It hasn’t sunk into my life enough and I have really been lit up with that personally. I am just trying to expand my vision of what God can do and who He is, and all that He is accomplishing.

RM: That’s cool. So how does that play out then as you lead your community of people there in Las Vegas? What has God been speaking to you for them? How you can rethink they are doing their community?

JW: This weekend we had learned from another couple of churches that we had so many people come to save and had taken the next step to be baptized, where we did a spontaneous baptism moment where I just challenged people to come down and commit to Christ, and commit to be baptized on the spot. I have never done this where I’ve asked people to walk down forward. We kind of have our own approach to reaching people and impacting people. But it was a kind of non-emotive message, it wasn’t highly emotional. It was pretty straight forward teaching about what it means to be a Christian or what it means to be baptized. We had like over 1200 adults walk down front, and walk right outside and jump in cold water in their clothes and just get baptized. There were so many tears and so much emotion. So the way this played out for me is I’m standing backstage and we are all in tears, it wasn’t just about numbers for us, it’s about the people that we love and just in awe at what we were experiencing. This guy said, “I remember when this church was only 600 people in size.” And we were going to baptize more than 600 people this weekend,” and I had a moment, this is the moment where I thought about how big God is, and I said, “Now we are a church of 15,000.” I said, “The day will come when we will baptize 15,000 in a day.” The guy looked at me and his jaw hit the ground. It’s not about the numbers, it’s just that God can do that, you know? I am finally getting my mind around the fact that God can do that if He chose to.

RM: If somebody would have told you that four years ago, you probably would have been blown away. If you see 1200 people baptized in a day would be amazing.

JW: Yeah, I’ve been in shock and awe for the last two days since this weekend. I have never seen anything like it. We follow a practice at Central where if a person is baptized, you know they are allowed to baptize whoever they may lead to faith or whatever, so we have a fairly loose view that it’s not so much about who baptizes, but it is the fact that you do it. So I’ve watched teenagers who have led their parents to faith, baptize them this weekend. I watched that happen again and again and again. I watched teenagers baptize their grandparents. That’s amazing, you know? I’m standing there bawling my eyes out watching this happen, and I am thinking that the next generation is going to lead, and they are going to lead strong, and I don’t care what all the data says, I am watching it right in front of my eyes.

RM: In saying those two things, your own personal life and convictions that’s playing out in your church, is there any passage of Scripture right now that God is using to speak to you to convict you of these things or to move your church forward?

JW: Yes, one of the biggest passages God has been convicting me with is in 1st Corinthians where it talks about that God chose the things that are not to nullify the things that are. I think this is a passage that has been ringing around in my heart and in my life in a pretty significant way over the last several weeks. A lot of it is probably because of all the stuff that we have been seeing. 1st Cor. 1:27-31 where it says God chose the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise, and He chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world as things counted as nothing at all, and use them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. Then for me, I love the final part of the whole message where it says, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” Because God has done this in such a way that only He can be bragged upon and boasted in, and that has been the message I have been championing in. God is moving. He is moving across the nation, certainly in Las Vegas, a city that most Christians have written off. I get looked down upon for even living in this town, but God will use the things that are not, to nullify the things that are. It is all for His glory and His fame.

RM: And it seems that you are seeing that in action, too. So that is a wonderful thing.

JW: Oh totally! And it is not just about us, that we are so good or talented, or the church is this or that, but it’s not, we are just broken, messed up people in this broken, messed up city, and God is doing a work for His glory. We get to be part of it, and that is just awesome!

RM: Anything else that you would like our readers to know as we close up your portion of the article?

JW: I just think that it is all about God and what He has done for us in Christ, and that is our primary boast. That is who we brag upon. That’s whose fame we are spreading and not our own, and the longer we stay focused on that, the more sure our footing will be.

Jud Wilhite lives with his family in the Las Vegas area where he serves as Senior Pastor of Central Christian Church. Over 15,000 people attend Central’s campuses along with a global community who attend online. Jud is the author of several books including Eyes Wide Open, Uncensored Grace and Deadly Viper Character Assassins with Mike Foster.

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