Sunday, August 23, 2009


Recently I read Robert Lupton's book Compassion, Justice and the Christian Life: Rethinking Ministry to the Poor as part of my internship at the Nehemiah House. (Why are the titles on "christian living" books getting longer?) The book is divided into chapters and parts. Pastor Scott Yetter asked us to write down our thoughts on each of the four parts presented so the following is what I turned in with a few additions.

Part I

I was elated (and I don't use that word often) to read the first chapter of Compassion Justice and the Christian Life because it felt like Lupton wanted to break our vision as soon as he could. I assume the idea was to foster a new vision in the church with the rest of the following chapters. Right away he tackles the fact that we have the two greatest commandments strait from Jesus' mouth- love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. Collectively, we put these on the shelf, rarely to be practiced. Christ even said that these two commands contain the whole law. How is it that most of us are so guilty of ignoring them? The book focuses more on the second of the two commands. I assume Lupton focuses on loving thy neighbor as a means of loving thy God. Lupton finalizes his charge against the lot of us with the statement, "A Christian training institute (or church for that matter) that steps over these basics on the way to 'deeper' theological pursuits can hardly be considered biblically faithful." (Pg. 17) I want to emphasize that the church is supposed to be a training institution itself. Since we are the church, we need to start with ourselves and base our lives on these two greatest commands rather than ignore them.

Part II

The difference between "betterment" and "development" is something incredibly important to keep in mind while working with communities. "Betterment does for others; development enables others to do for themselves. Betterment improves conditions: development strengthens capacity. Betterment gives a man a fish: development teaches a man how to fish." (pg. 39) Our intentions may be good, but our methods need to be checked regularly. It should be our goal to truly love our neighbors by finding a cure for as many ailments as we can (both theirs and ours). (As Pastor Scott reminds me, often times loving our neighbors means suffering with them rather than finding a cure. This, of course, is very true.) The idea is not to keep them addicted to our medicine. Hopefully those we are helping will be able to walk on their own and do the same for others.

Part III

Recently I heard someone native to another country say that everything in the U.S. is big. He made an accurate observation. Our grocery stores are huge. Our hefty consumption is more than most countries combined. Our churches and community institutions seem to be no different at times. I think one of the scariest things about most mega churches is that they seem to be out of touch with the communities around them. They take the land, and dominate the street parking of the neighborhood all in the name of numbers and raising more money for the latest entertainment technology without ministering to people's most basic needs. "Every community needs healthy institutions. Whether social, religious, educational, recreational, cultural, economic or governmental, institutions provide a society with stability and help preserve its quality of life. No community, however, can become or long remain vital if it is dominated by ever expanding institutions that use up dis proportionate amounts of its land at the expense of its residential fabric. A growing church that tears down houses to expand its parking capacity can find itself at cross-purposes with community health, even as Catholic sisters' treatment center or an expanded homeless shelter can. Their community friendliness depends largely upon the appropriateness of their scale." (Pg. 103) Any community program that pushes residents out and sucks up all of the local resources will find either a neighborhood resistance or silent absence.

Part IV

The word gentrification brings negative thoughts to mind whenever I hear it. Countless conscious hip hop artists speak of it's evils on my media player. In most situations I think I would be very critical if someone spoke of a "gentrification theology," but I think Lupton presents a good argument for it. As stated earlier in the book neighborhoods need diversity of all kinds including economic backgrounds. "We need gentry whose understanding of community includes the less advantaged, who will use their competencies and connections to ensure that their lower-income neighbors share a stake in their revitalizing neighborhood." (pg. 116) This may sound pretty one sided, but it's the "gentry's" job to love their neighbors just as much as it is everyone else's. Why not give everyone a chance to have an exchange in life? It is true that one of the greatest tragedies today is that the rich don't know the poor when they are both so broken. As Scott Yetter stated on my paper, "This reflects true reconciliation where the rich and the poor are changed together." Amen.

Monday, June 22, 2009

New York Trip Fund Raiser June 27th

On Saturday June 27th our church will be hosting, our own, Tavo and El Milagro live in concert to raise money for our mission trip to Brooklyn, NY. Come out and support ministry all while enjoying great live entertainment. Here's the info:

1356 S. Albany St.
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Show starts at 7PM

$5 at the door
$5 for food
$5 for a CD
It's the 5-5-5 deal! How can you go wrong with that?

Andrew Marin and Chris Huertz Discuss the Issues between the Church and the Gay Community

This interview is far too short. I respect both of these men a lot, and I wish they went a lot deeper in this video. Never-the-less, I feel like they hit on a few key points, and I posted these videos to get the conversation started amongst myself and you the readers.

Ok, go talk about it with someone.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New York Night '09

Last Friday night was our team's seceond annual "New York Night" fundraiser. We decorated the church basement to look like a New York subway station. There was food, an art auction, a presentation of what our trip is about and what we will be doing in Brooklyn, and a stock exchange where attendees could buy "stock" in the team members. Many people from the church and beyond came out to support us. We're very thankful to God for giving us an enjoyable night, and for providing prayer as well as more funds for our trip.
Keep praying for us. We need God's presence with us in Brooklyn. We also need about $15,000 to pay off the trip.
(the guys waiting for the their train to come)

(Pastor Doug Moore praying over the team)

All pictures were stolen from John Freiberg as usual.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Brookyln, NY Missions Trip '09

On July 26th through August 4th I will be co-leading a missions trip to Brooklyn, New York with our church's youth group

This will be our second year in a row going to Brooklyn, and last year's trip changed the life of our entire church. The parents' trust in letting their kids leave home for a week grew. Our small church bonded in unity as they all chipped in to send us to New York, but most importantly, I think our confidence in ministry grew- especially with the students. It was amazing to witness them see God's calling on their lives for the first time.

While we are living in the 2nd EV Free Church of Brooklyn for a week we will be: leading every aspect of a 4 day vacation Bible school, tutoring in a learning program at the church, cleaning the church, and prayerfully sharing the gospel with everyone we meet along the way. Internally we hope to learn a lot on this trip and recieve knowledge regarding God's kingdom and our commission to serve others with humility. We need your help. Please send us with your prayers. If God is not with us on this trip, we might as well not go.
Each member of our team needs to raise $750 to go. This amount pays for a round trip ticket, food, shelter, and the cost to run the B.U.M.P. program. Since we are from a small church, we need a lot of financial support. If you would be so generous as to help us we would greatly appreciate it. Below are instructions on how to give money for the cost of our trip.

If you feel led to contribute financially you can mail a check to First EV Free Church L.A. 1356 S. Albany St. Los Angeles, CA 90015. Put a note somewhere in the envelope stating that you are contributing to John Tallacksen's New York fund or to the whole team. Please do not write my name anywhere on the check. This will ensure that your donation will be tax deductible.

Thank you to all of you who supported us last year, and to all who have or will this year!

I Find It Hard To Say (Rebel)

This is a song that has blessed me over the last few weeks. It was written for a specific situation (Amadou Diallo), but I find it to be true as I take a step back and look at humanity in general. The thought of everyone waking up from their comfort and rebeling against the ways of this world is beautiful to me. Please wake up and seek Heaven in the here and now. Don't wait for it, and don't try to define it. Let God define you.

I Find It Hard To Say (Rebel)
by: Lauryn Hill 

I find it hard to say, that everything is alright
Don't look at me that way, like everything is alright
Cuz my own eyes can see, through all your false pretenses
But what you fail to see, is all the consequences
You think our lives are cheap, and easy to be wasted
As history repeats, so foul you can taste it
And while the people sleep, too comfortable to face it
His life so incomplete, and nothing can replace it
And while the people sleep, too comfortable to face it
Your lives so incomplete, and nothing can replace it
Fret not thyself I say, against these laws of man
Cuz like the Bible says, His blood is on their hands
And what I gotta say, and what I gotta say, is rebel
While today is still today, choose well
And what I gotta say, is rebel, it can't go down this way
Choose well, choose well, choose well...
...choose well, choose well, choose well
And while the people sleep, too comfortable to face it
Your lives are so incomplete, and nothing, and no one, can replace it
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no
And what I gotta say, and what I gotta say
And what I gotta say, and what I gotta say
And what I gotta say, and what I gotta say
And what I gotta say, and what I gotta say
Is rebel... rebel, rebel, rebel, rebel, rebel, rebel
Rebel, rebel, rebel, rebel, rebel
Repent, the day is far too spent, rebel... rebel!
Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up...
Wake up and rebel
We must destroy in order to rebuild
Wake up, you might as well
Oh are you... oh are you satisfied
Oh are you satisfied
Rebel... ohhh rebel
Why don't you rebel, why don't you rebel?
Why don't you rebel?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Joe Finally Hanging Out At The Berrics

 (Joe's buttery Boneless about 3/4 of the way through the video)
  As seen above, my friend Joe hung out and skated at The Berrics here in downtown Los Angeles. You can watch the video of Joe and a bunch of other kids having a hay-day at the Berrics HERE
  A lot of people are not familiar with The Berrics especially if they aren't into skating so I'll set up the story of why this is so cool... Up untill recently, The Berrics has been a secret indoor skate park in LA only accessible to pro skaters. Owned by Steve Berra, The Berrics has a website where skaters all over the world can peek into what it's like to hang out at a beautiful private indoor skate park with a bunch of pros. Most of us have been drooling over the website planning missions to find the Berrics' location and beg to skate inside. Recently Steve Berra posed a "Willy Wonka" type of offer where if people would go watch his friend's film Explicit Ills at a specific theater, he would let them skate in The Berrics complete with a pizza party. Needless to say Joe got a golden ticket and the result is the video linked above. I'm glad you got to skate your heart out Joe. You deserved that rare shot at bliss.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Take A Trip Inside My Mind

My heart has been burdened with a number of things in this life, but one subject in particular torments me. I'm talking about art, or more specifically mankind's ability to discern what is good or what is bad in art. This has been a thorn in my side at varying levels pretty much my whole life. The book pictured above (Art and the Bibleby Francis A Schaeffer) is somewhat of a milestone for me because reading it is my first step in actually addressing the specific issue with God. I've studied art since I was a small child, but this marks my first efforts to understand my questions, and search for answers.

Most reading this have probably already tuned out by now, and that's a shame. It's that apathy that has brought me to these questions. Most people that I have encountered, including myself, treat art, or have treated art, as something that is expendable. We see art everywhere. In an age of communication where sensory overload is high subconsciously expected, we have devalued art in our minds and general culture. When recession hits, and budget cuts are rampant, the arts are the first to go. Today's most popular films and musicians are a grotesque representation of what real artists are doing outside of the public eye. It's so hard for a deep, hard working, artist to make a living or get any recognition. What does this mean for our society in general? Have we lost our ability to appreciate good over bad? If God is an artist, why then do most people consider my convictions about art as petty compared to the Gospel? Is art important? Isn't the Bible mostly a collection of art in various forms such as: verbal story telling, poetry, music, and letter writing? If we can't appreciate man's art here on Earth, how can we appreciate God's art? What does God think about art, and it's value? How does a Christian make art without being cheesy. Are there any good Christian artists out there? What does it look like for a visual artist to worship God with their work in a church setting? If I'm right, and art is a vital connection with God the creator, then why does most art produced by Christians look like uninspired watered down Sunday school lessons? Why aren't we tapping into our God's creativity, and making the best art out there? How do I invite the Holy Spirit to collaborate with me and turn my art from vague expressions of myself into prophetic messages to all peoples? Do I really know what I'm asking for? 

The questions go on and on. This is what keeps me awake at night. I will continue blogging about my journey through this seemingly sparsely charted territory. If you have any resources that you think I should check out please send your suggestions as comments to this posting.

Does anyone know about the quarterly journal called Image? If there are any subscribers out there please let me know what your experience has been like with this publication.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Visit My New Art Blog

Many readers of Elevate LA were getting confused with all of my art rantings, so I created a new blog. will be my new art blog from now on. On it you will find my latest drawings and paintings as well as some art/animation news. 

Right now I'm posting one A.C.E.O. of mine up for auction every three days on ebay. If you want more information on how to find my auctions visit my art blog. For all ministry news in L.A. please keep Elevate LA bookmarked.

-John Tallacksen

Friday, March 20, 2009

Freddie Joachim: Free Download

Here's another sign of life coming out of the Los Angeles area. Freddie Joachim is, in my opinion, one of the best producers in the game today. He doesn't follow the "what's hot right now" trends that you hear in most tracks. He stays true to the Jazzy vibe that got him noticed by such artists as Surreal. Some producers over use their sound and it grows stale over time, but Freddie somehow keeps his sound fresh every time. Go to his website and download his five track offering titled "Nights Alone" for free. Support independant art!

-End of transmission

Friday, February 27, 2009

Shane Claiborne Interview


I appologize for this video's size. It obviously doesn't quite fit in the space I need it to, but it's good enough and I think everyone will get the idea if they listen to the interview.

There are a few thoughts I had while watching this video... 
Number one: It's not soo bad being bald Shane.
Number two: I completely agree with Shane on the need for community, and what it's functions are. It's exceedingly hard to practice the "One Anothers" (see list below) without living in close proximity to eachother? It takes a deep knowledge of a person to really love them, and you won't get there by only meeting Sunday mornings and maybe on Wednesdays. 

Number 3: Whoa! Did he just mention the creation of Eve without pushing marriage? He did! He referenced Adam's helper as a metaphor for community. That's an incredibly beautiful insite. As a global church, we need to get better at supporting our single brothers and sisters just as much as the married ones. The balance is way off. 
Number 4: No one can afford the American Dream. The "dream" of Jesus and His kingdom is refreshingly different in that we sustain eachother under His leadership rather than stepping on everyone to get the most stuff.

Number 5: I really like Shane's admission of the church's blemished past. We are a broken people who desperately need Jesus to save us from ourselves. That is what church is for. Unless we remind ourselves of this every moment in humility, we will be in danger of misrepresenting Christ.

A Few Of The "One Anothers"
· John 13:35 - "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
Romans 12:10 - Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;
· Romans 12:16 - Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with
the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.
· Romans 13:8 - Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has
fulfilled the law.
· 1 Corinthians 11:33 - So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.
· Galatians 6:2 - Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
· Ephesians 4:25 - Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.
· Ephesians 5:21 - and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
· Philippians 2:3 - Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another
as more important than yourselves
· 1 Thessalonians 3:12 - and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and
for all people, just as we also do for you

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Know Your Roots on

The kind folks at are currently selling prints of my piece titled Know Your Roots. This is a limited run of only 150 prints. The sale starts today (Thursday Feb 26th) and continues for a week or untill the prints sell out. All proceeds contribute to my life of ministry in Los Angeles. Go get it now before it runs out!


Description of piece: 

digital painting mixed with photography

11X17 on an archival pigment print


Know Your Roots depicts musical innovator Kool Herc paving the way for modern day Hip Hop. The colorful roots branching out from him symbolize the diverse future of Hip Hop made possible by his creative experimentation.

Keep Art Legal

  My friends and I are lucky enough to have a "legal spot" to piece at called the Graff Lab. (located on the South East corner of Venice and Union in L.A.) Here are some quick pictures. We have a lot of great discussions about the benefits of not using your art for vandalism, but for self expression and communication with God. The Graff Lab is a great place to practice those values. I highly recommend it. 

(These crazy guys are mine. I had a nightmare about them a couple months back)

(The guys threw up a piece for S.A.Y. Yes in the Nehemiah House)

(At the Graff Lab)