Tuesday, December 30, 2003

I don't know why I'm doing this but I just decided I need to write. I'm going to be more vulnerable than is probably suitable for a blog but then again, the real world is full of some who are community to you and some who are more comfortable judging you. And frankly, it matters not to me anymore.

During Christmastime every year, I not only reflect on what's important, but I also annually feel a deep sense of pain. I, like many of you, struggle with depression that never seems to go away. It waits in hiding for weak moments, and then preys on me with dark thoughts and accusing words. All I know to do, is not to take pills, but to meet it head on and process the pain, admitt that I'm hurt and then move on, not to look back. I woke up this morning in pain. Memories of a thousand times my brother beat me bloody because he was mad that my Dad wasn't around. I idolized my Dad and brother, and have harbored such hatred for them throughout my life at times, sometimes uncontrollable. Having spent the last few days with my brother and his family (i see them about once a year) it brings all these memories up again. And then he starts to bully me, over and over like we were kids. I have no respect for him. I have nothing in my heart for him and inherently it means that I don't even comprehend the love of Christ. He doesn't respect me, he only thinks of himself, I have no value in his world. Some wounds just don't heal.
I have to tell my Dad as well that I can't make it to his other daughter's wedding ( i missed one already this year because of another committment) because its another commitment I made for a ministry event. I have already been told that my younger half sister will be devastated if I don't come. The guilt has already been set. This all seems unfair. I never gave them a guilt trip when I spent my entire life without a Dad to hug, touch, talk to, receive from, be encouraged by, disciplined by etc. etc. When I spent my teenage years feeling utterly alone and desperate, telling myself in the mirror that tomorrow really was worth waking up to and that the jars of pills should stay unopened tonight. When I excelled on the sports field but my Mom had to work all day and go to school at night cuz he didn't have the pride to keep a job or his marriage, so I walked off those fields triumphant in the eyes of the spectators but alone the moment I realized that none of them came to see me. I picked up my stuff, drug it to my car and knew that I was alone. Those fields, during game times, were the only moments I felt good about myself. I miss those days. So do I deserve a guilt trip for being the man that my Dad never was or will be? I'm keeping jobs, keeping committments, being responsible, putting others before myself, living to be all that he never was. But yet I'm the bad guy, again alone.
I feel pain within me, and I see pain around me. I really don't know how to function without pain, it makes me feel alive, let's me know that I'm living. And it must be in some twisted way an idol that I can't rid myself of. I long for Kingdom Come and a world where there is no more pain, no more dying, no more tears, no more sickness, no more being alone. But we are not there yet and so I look within, put my head down and take another step forward. I will not let the enemy and my depression pull me down, but I will take the time to feel the depth of my wound. If it wasn't for the sake of others, I'm not sure I would keep fighting. But since Christ came for the sake of the world, his call is what compels me.

"Pain is God's megaphone for a deaf world." - C.S. Lewis
Are you listening, Chris?


Monday, December 22, 2003

I saw "Return of the King" for the 3rd time tonight (this time with my wife) and I'm just seeing it at different levels. Please withold judgment of my idol worship cuz y'all got 'em, so leave my addiction alone. I can stop anytime I want! (Anybody out there not seen it yet and need somebody to go with you just call me :) )

Anyways, just gets me thinking about the sin that so easily tangles us. The precious that we love and hate at the same time, our idols. We loves 'em ands we's hates 'em. You name it, food, shopping, lust, money, power, stuff, toys, clothes, ambition, self pity, arrogance, ego, pride, self-worth, image, beauty, status, popularity, need to be needed, acceptance, self promotion etc. etc. etc.

Here's where I've seen it lately:
1) Watching MTV reality show "Rich Girls" of a couple of teenage daughters of multi-millionaire parents in the fashion industry. They said they wanted to grow up and be hippies while having a $400 lunch. Its sounds sooo cool to be new-ageish and hippie-like, but don't they see that hippie is about down with corporate America and its excesses? Hippie is about simple living, not $1,500 shoes as one of them bought in the show. Hypocrites and naive. Love our excess and hates our excess.

2) Watching Keyshawn Johnson (ex NFL receiver) talk on a pre-game show about how the league is just trying to make more $$ by fining players for excessive celebrations. He spoke about the "league" as if he had nothing to do with it. This "league" has given Keyshawn his entire life. His house, his cars, his following of women, his jewelry, his identity, his false image etc. etc. Don't go biting the hand that feeds you or you'll end up getting hungry. The "league" is his payday, he isn't separate from it. He hates the precious and yet he needs it.

3) Sunday morning makes for great T.V. preacher watching. I can't get enough, truly more of an obsession to me than Lord of the Rings. Preachers who preach in the name of self-agrandizement, love the center of attention, love the power to hold a microphone where hundreds/thousands have to listen to them and their opinions. I wonder if its possible to teach publicly without looking like a circus act. I have nothing against proclamation, I just don't trust those who sound like their trying to talk me into a great deal on a time-share in Florida. I wonder if their precious is the need to be important, compensating with a stage and captive audience.

4) The only problem with pointing out everybody else's idols is that I have to face my own. Christ following is so inconvenient sometimes. Regardless of what Jesus said, I have managed quite well to see around the plank in my eye to point out the specks in my neighbor :) I am painfully aware of the ugliness that still rages within me. The pull of the "precious" to seek worship of something else and not the Lord God. Something else to take center stage, something else to help form who I am, something else to seek for peace and contentment, the burden of the precious leaves us in misery. Unless we try and destroy it in the fire of self -denial and holy living. Oh that I die to me and become more alive in him. That he burns away the chaff in my innards and grows within me a hunger for right living. That I see the deceit and the lie of the precious and all my idols and that I have the will and the Grace to destroy it when given the chance I'm just honored that as I walk my own journey to destroy the sinful nature within me, I am not alone. Many of you form a faithful fellowship to me, as I to you on your journey. Even though at times hope seems dim, as long as the fellowship stays true, we may yet destroy the precious. Evens though wes loves to hates its.


Friday, December 19, 2003

Merry Christmas to me!

Got a very unexpected Christmas bonus today from an annonymous parent, which whenever I get one I customarily spend on my wife for Christmas so I'm geeked to go do that after work today. Today is last day of school and tommorrow starts a 2 week break = stoked to sleep!

Went to Dr. today for the results of 7 blood tests on my liver to see if I have the hereditary auto-immune Hepatitis that my sister has, which could explain all my ailments the past 3 weeks. All the results were NEGATIVE!!!!!! I ain't got it, so the disease and the fear that surrounds it can kiss my arse. In fact I had 3 viruses that compounded on one another that explain the way i've been feeling. So hopefully I'm just ending up my last of the viruses and I can enjoy my time off and Christmas with my family. Thanks all of you for the prayers, support and encouragement.

And to the Evil One who continues to seek, kill and destroy those in the Way of the Kingdom, I have listened to your accusations and your voices of fear and intimidation, and I have found them to be lies and feeble attempts of one who is losing influence in my life. I am not backing down, I am not letting up, I am not hiding out, I'm not toning it down and conservative religion has never fit me very well. What I know is that I have sonship, Abba dwells within me. I have his character, I have his hope and his mission burns within my soul. Come "Mayhem" and the swords will be drawn. We're coming to your gates, we understand that war is upon us and we have no fear. Kingdom Community unite, this is a time to celebrate the Incarnation of Kingdom Come and let the sounds of joy reign. It is war, and I once again swear allegiance to the King. Hallelujah, Immanuel, God with us, we will not fail.


Wednesday, December 17, 2003

The King Has Returned . . . and he doesn't disappoint!

Went to a midnight showing this morning with a bunch of my senior students (thanks for the invite, guys) of "Return of the King" with pretty high expectations and it exceeded all of them. This movie is truly Epic (and I don't mean in the sweaty Len kind of way). I'll give a more full review when some of y'all have had a chance to see it, like tommorrow :) Got 2 1/2 hours of sleep and I'm going back tonight to see it with the fight club boyz at 9:30, my addiction/obsession is at full throttle. This movie was incredible . . . but I"m a freak.


Tuesday, December 16, 2003

"For a child has been born - for us!
the gift of a son - for us!
He'll take over the running of the world.
His names will be: Amazing Counselor,
Strong God, Eternal Father,
Prince of Wholeness.
His ruling authority will grow,
and there'll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.
He'll rule from the historic David throne over that promised kingdom.
He'll put that kingdom on a firm footing and keep it going
With fair dealing and right living,
beginning now and lasting always.
The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies will do all this." (excerpt from the story of Isaiah 9 from The Message)

Friends, he invaded our world (The Incarnation) with the truth of Kingdom Come. It is all around us. Its not about heaven and hell, its about the truth and reign of ultimate reality, that is the Kingdom of God. Heaven and hell are just the eternal states of this present reality. The Kingdom is here. Stop and notice it today.


Thursday, December 11, 2003

The point of the Incarnation was for the "Word to become flesh", for the "Light to be shown in the darkness" for the Kingdom of God to invade this corrupt and decaying world. And how far has this gotten us? I have been coming face to face these past couple days with ingrained church culture that has set up the battle lines, its "us" vs. "them". Our evangelism has more to do with telling "them" that we're right and "they're" wrong. Our whole message has still more to do with the Crusades of the Dark Ages than a lowly incarnation. When we have a series of big "evangelism" meetings we call them crusades. When we have a co-worker we hope will see the light, we say we are trying to "win" them. We memorize verses from our "sword" to slay them with if they try and refute our advances. Our sophisticated seeker approach to evangelism is to "target" them. All of this is conflict language, war language, yet the Incarnation was a different sort of invasion. Jesus came vulnerable as an infant. Dependent on human parents. Exposed to the natural elements of the cool night and unsterile birthing place. Jesus took on all the risks in the Incarnation. He risked being hurt by those he loved. He risked being rejected by the very ones he once helped form in their mother's womb. He risked the loss of a dream, disappointment, broken heartedness and a life lived in vain. But the church is not willing to make these concessions. Come to our turf. Change and be like us. Let us argue you into our mindset. Come and feel uncomfortable in our culture that we call "family" and you take on all the risks. Come let us evaluate your life in an unsafe enviornment. 2,003 years or so later, we don't have a freakin' clue about the lowly incarnation.

Us vs. Them. Saved vs. Unsaved. Found vs. Lost. Fully devoted follower vs. Seeker, Chosen vs. Reprobate, Redeemed vs. Rejected, Born Again vs. Carnal, In Christ vs. Under Adam . . . you choose the terminology. I say, as long as we have such well defined cultural and language barriers (and by the way, let's hold yet one more seminar/conference to sure up our language and semantics on this topic as long as we don't have to do anything about it) to separate ourselves from "them", we state with our actions that we don't give a damn. The issue at heart is not technique, motivation, program, relevance, annointing, gifting, approach, opportunity etc. etc. etc. The issue at hand is that we don't give a damn about those who are living outside the Kingdom reality. As long as we get ours, we get our worship fix, we get that preacher to make it relevant to me, we get entertained with our consumer goods, damn those who don't have the sense to go to church. (does it matter that church is not someplace you go but a people you belong to?)

The lowly Incarnation. A life of vulnerability towards those who are not living their created destiny, that is a relationship with their Creator. Do you remember, that used to be "us"? And when it was "us", we gave a damn.

Father, that the coming of your Son was not in vain. Change our hearts.


Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Many things to report.

1) Friday night at the Brownhouse in Norwood with the family of Veritas, Canipes, Vineyard Central, LP Palmer, VBCC Creech, Mark from Indy. Great shared meal, community time, prayer and ministry to one another. So good to see my brothers and sisters and enjoy one another. We also prayed for the simultaneous gathering in Eagle, Id and apparently the Spirit of God fell on them as well. God is good.

2) Many are registering now for Mayhem on Jan. 9-10. You need to make sure your a part of the party! More info. and registration at www.not-alone.org.

3) Had a OCC leadership meeting at our home on Sunday. We read from Isaiah and talked of the Incarnation and its signigicance to the Kingdom. And how re-enacting the Incarnation is what our lives should look like. Jamie and Todd shared of their friendship with an Indian family and how their Kingdom life of service was rubbing off on this seemingly Hindu worldview. The Kingdom Way is ultimate reality. All other worldviews pale in comparison. He is the Lion of Judah. When opportunities come to sit at a round table in a pluralistic culture, let the Lion out of His cage.

4) Yesterday was my 31st Birthday. I spent it at home in bed all day, called in sick. Felt drained and weak, not many other symptoms. Feel about 50% today. I have a Dr. appointment today with a specialist to have more tests run re: my liver. Hope we can get more info.

Lying in bed the past 24 hours, I have had many Advent thoughts that I would like to share more on. Hopefully will blog on those this week.

Peace to you during this time of Advent.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Some blogs need to be read by all humanity. http://quirings.blogs.com/greg/2003/12/atkins_diet_spi.html
This is one of them. Read at your own risk. Thanks Greg.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Sorry for lack of blogging, my site was down yesterday.
Health Update: I will be seeing an internist on Dec. 9 at 11:00. Thanks for your prayers, I'm feeling okay today.

I get deeply reflective during Christmastime every year. I suppose with the new year and family time and all its a natural time to evaluate life. Of course a trip to the ER will get you a bit reflective as well :) Every year though I look for an Advent medtitative thought, something to give me perspective and literally ponder for weeks its significance. So this year I found mine on K-Rains' blog. "Every moment, a gift. Every minute pregnant as Mary with Christ's presence." Mary traveled from Nazareth in southern Galilee, down through the rocky terrain of Samaria and thru the outskirts of the Judean wilderness, through the hustle and bustle of Old Jerusalem to a little town about 4 miles south of it called Bethlehem. Have you ever traveled with a deeply pregnant woman? Have you ever been the deeply pregnant woman doing the traveling? Discomfort, aggravation, pressure in the womb, car seat not designed for it, potty breaks, back pain, nausea, leg cramps, annoyance with all other travelers, cravings, indigestion, weariness, expectancy, ignorant husband etc. etc. etc. and so forth, yada, yada, yada. (Ok gals, fill in my blanks and show my ignorance but please don't gross us out)
But here's my point. Mary was an ordinary uncomfortable pregnant woman and each of these moments was jam packed full of the hope of the world. I mean, one wrong jostle from the donkey and out could pop the very One who has giving meaning to my life. The One who said that I mattered. The One who introduced me into a world without end. Each of those traveling moments was pregnant with the life of Christ. Each ordinary moment is pregnant with the life of Christ.
Friends, slow the heck down! Stop and notice. The answer is not in the next thing (or next sale). This moment is pregnant with the life of Christ. If we keep chasing the extraordinary, we pass right by that man and his seemingly pregnant wife trekking south thru the rocky terrain. Why don't you stop and visit them today? Create a rest stop, treat them to some time and attention, and they will tell you of the wonders of being visited by angels and to be awoken in the night with the news that your fiance' will give birth to the light of all nations. Stop and notice the Kingdom today, each ordinary moment pregnant with the life of Christ.


Saturday, November 29, 2003

Happy Thanksgiving to me!

In case you haven't heard, I had a more eventful thanksgiving than I hoped for. For a few days, I had been feeling a pain in my upper back, sometimes sharp. Thanksgiving morning I woke up with it having moved to my chest. For most of the day, I felt really uncomfortable with this pain and didn't eat much. Then around 3, I started feeling really nauseated. So I went home to rest but had this feeling in the back of my mind that I should have this checked out. So I drove myself to the ER and by the time I got there, the pain in my chest was increasing all the time. They put me on pain medication that both made me really loopy and like I wanted to come out of my skin. I felt like a really tired crack addict, not a good combination. I stayed in the hospital for about 24 hours. I won't even begin to tell you about my nightmare of a roommate who grunted, snored, screamed, moaned, urinated all over himself and the floor keeping me from sleeping half the night. I had a heart stress test, multiple EKG's, blood work and x-rays. all having normal results. In fact as far as my heart goes, its stronger than normal and there is no cardiac history in my family. So after a day in the hospital, not much is known and the chest pains have gone away.
However, the doctor is concerned as I am for what is history in my family, that is liver disease. My grandfather died suddenly in his young 50's of a liver condition. My Dad has struggled his whole adult life. And my sister has just been diagnosed with auto-immune Hepatitis C. Well, her symptoms are the same as mine. So I'm going to have more tests towards checking out my liver and the possibility of Hepatitis. I don't know much as far as treatment goes but I do know that I detest drugs and the corporate health care system that wishes we would all become zombies hooked on their narcotics. So, Happy thanksgiving to me. I scared the bejesus out of my wife and in a week or so, I turn 31. It looks like a more healthy lifestyle is no longer a fleeting goal, but a neccesity if I want to be around to experience the Kingdom in this world. And if your thinking this has any connection to the spiritual realm, this past week, I nightly had nightmares and visions of the evil kingdom of which I've experienced in the past under seasons of spiritual warfare. Take what you will out of that. For now, I'm gonna rest.


Tuesday, November 25, 2003

"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." -Matthew 6:33 The Message

I use worry and fear to deceive myself into believing that I can control my surroundings and my circumstances. If I can control, then I won't get hurt again. When will I grow up and be willing to trust again that God is sufficient for the right now? Peace of Christ, purge my anxiousness, that I may be transformed into your likeness.

Friday, November 21, 2003

The Power of Story

On Thursday evenings at 8:00, our weekly family bonding has been watching a human story unfold named "Survivor: Pearl Islands". Its been a few seasons since I followed the show religiously but my wife, 2 daughters and myself have been hooked from the first episode this year. I think its just fun being engaged in something together as my girls are growing older. But my eldest daughter, Alison, has been especially captured by this story. She is 7 and has my make-up. She has a flare for the dramatic and gets deeply involved and enveloped in stories. (Thus my freakishness towards Lord of the Rings) Like many viewers, our family had fallen in love with the passion and valor of Rupert. But it was a matter of time until he got stabbed in the back and voted off as a threat. About halfway through the episode last night, Ali was beginning to realize that Rupert was going to get casted off the island. And so she began to whimper and sniffle with real tears. By the time they got to tribal council, she was beginning to let the tears flow. As Rupert walked away having his torch snuffed out, she was at full scale sobbing. She cried as she went to bed, and my wife reported that after 10 minutes or so, Ali still wasn't asleep because she was still crying. Her heart was completely broken for her friend, Rupert.

Now, you may think I'm a bad father, but I love seeing my daughter "feel" and experience intense emotios. Its how God made us, its a part of us. I don't mean to get all melodramatic and manic about it, I just mean, not allowing the world and its arrows cut off your heart from feeling, its a part of life. I felt so stifled growing up in Church. I had passion and emotion just welling up in me and yet I was taught to be super-rational and calculated about faith and life stories. Well, I now think that the people/institution that wanted to keep Christ following in the realm of the logical are COWARDS. there you go, i said it, and they are fighting words. Afraid to feel, afraid to be vulnerable, afraid to admitt weakness (even though its a prerequisite to honest Christ following). I was told, you can't trust your heart by people who had been burned and determined to never go to the place of intimacy again. Keep Jesus in the cage, let him out on holidays and formal meetings. Well, I reject that line of cerebral Christianity. And I know that the arrows will keep coming, and the more tender I keep my heart, the more I will find myself sobbing like Ali, but its part of life and its part of the faith story I'm enveloped in.

If you shut down your heart, you shut down half of the adventure of Christ following. Pain makes life ever so real. Embrace it, bring it near and reveal the wound within the intimacy of a Father who delights in you. I just hope that Ali finds the story of salvation history, the horror of the cross and the glory of the Resurrection to be as compelling as the story of Survivor. If she starts crying because of what they did to her Jesus, well, I may just join in the weep fest. Keep your heart tender, its worth the risk.


Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Found myself last night feeling saddened at the many stories (including my own) that I have been running into lately of people doing a lot of activity, but not living in the reality of Kingdom now or their belovedness. But the restlessness we feel for the that experience is only a confirmation that we have tasted it and are on the journey for more, not that we are empty and void of it.

St. Augustine said, "My soul is restless until it rests in you, O God." All the impulses and idols of the world keep us in the restless stage, never satisfying. Offering us only pain and decay, not satisfaction. Nouwen continues, "I know that the fact that I am always searching for God, always yearning for the complete truth, tells me that I have already been given a taste of God, of Love, and of Truth. I can only look for something that I have, to some degree, already found." (Life of the Beloved)

These stories I am hearing are of those who are still looking for life's answers outside of themselves. The grass must be greener in a pasture just around the corner. My next job, my next accomplishment, when I lose the weight, when I finally graduate, when I meet that special someone, when I get that promotion, when the house is completed, when my kids grow up, when I finally stop my addiction etc. etc. The answer in living in complete contentment of our belovedness is to come home. Stop running to the things outside of yourself and looking for life in things that are fleeting and dead. Just come home. Inside of you, if you are quiet enough, lives and indwells the Spirit of Christ. In fact all the so called prophets looking for end times signs at the building of a new Temple in Jerusalem are full of crap. In you and I, within our very souls, is being built the New Jerusalem. The city of peace dwells within us. When we stop, slow down and listen for that voice within, telling us that we are his son/daughter, with whom his favor rests, that Temple is being built brick by brick.

So be encouraged today, the fact that you yearn for that peace and contentment means that you've once tasted Kingdom Now and you would like some more. Stop and hear the voice of the Beloved within you today. Then watch as the rebuilding of Jerusalem becomes your very life.


Monday, November 17, 2003

Finally finished off the basement yesterday in our home, started last Easter and now complete. Very pleased with it and kudos to all my bros who helped make it possible over the past months.

What's the deal with the weather? Make up your mind, Ms. mother nature, cold or warm? which do you want? Make a choice and stick to it, dang it!

Thanksgiving is next week, Next Week! that means its Christmas season already. What the heck? November is a blur.

Tomorrow comes out the extended version DVD of The Two Towers. I will receive it tomorrow but don't see me watching it til Thursday cuz of scheduling conflicts. What's up with that? I thought I chose a life of simplicity and I have to wait 3 days to see my favorite movie? Maybe sleep isn't that important.

I seem to be fighting off a sickness in which I'm feeling drained all the time. No other symptoms. I'm sleeping but never feeling rested. We'll see how that turns out. Having dinner tonight with my friend Jon Bogart who calls himself the "person formerly known as found". He has found evangelicalism to be completely hollow. On a lot of points, I can't disagree with him. Its always a good time hangin' with him.

peace in Christ to you today,

Friday, November 14, 2003

Just an Update on the goings on:

Had an emotional day on Tuesday which was Veterans day. We had a pretty cool assembly at the school I teach at and the strangest thing happened. I felt the presence or maybe the strong memory of my grandfather who passed away 3 years ago but helped raise me. He was a WWII Navy veteran and I've always had an enormous respect for him because of that. So without offending my deeply pacifist friends, I found myself very thankful for those who risked their lives or gave their lives so I can be free to raise my family here in America.

Had dinner with my step-dad last night after we moved some furniture for my mother. We are so different, come from different worlds but I have always respected him. He is nothing like my birth father of whom I've inherited all his genes. My step-dad is stable, even tempered, respected by everyone and completely dependable. My kids are in love with him. We had a great conversation about the nature of Church and community over dinner. I'm a church planter in the ancient Celtic Tradition and he's a long-time Gideon Bible Regional Director. But we agree on so many points and have mutual respect. Why do I staty connected to many of my traditional church roots at some level? Because the Kingdom of God is the big idea, and is pure elitism to think we have any corner on the truth.

One of my best friends in the world is coming down from Michigan tonight to stay with me for the weekend. Kevin Grand and I have been best friends since college years where we began doing youth minsitry together. We were quite the pair. I was the big, athletic, up front guy working the room. He's a smaller stature, skater type, behind the scenes guy who is perhaps the funniest and most godly guy I've ever been blessed to be around. He has taught me so much about Kingdom and Christ following. He has lived a personal hell and went to the bottom of his faith, only to re-build it one step at at a time and is now reaping the benefits. I can't wait, we may not sleep all weekend, way too much PS2 to play on the big screen.

OCC is having our annual Thanksgiving feast on Sunday. Big meal shared together, kids time of teaching, worship, thanksgiving, communion, prayer for one another, its so good to be in community. Have a great weekend, all, I know I will.


Monday, November 10, 2003

Had a great weekend. Friday night was family night. Saturday night we had 5 other church planting families over for dinner, games, fun, fire, laughter, encouragement etc. I would say that it was all Kingdom time, but as soon as guys vs. girls in any board game begins, the Flesh comes out for some fun. Trash talking, superiority complexes, cockiness, blaming, accusing, cursing the game and its makers, and that was just the girls! (he he) good time, good peeps, could do it every night.
Sunday was my eldest daughter's birthday, Alison turned 7. She had a "cheerleaders" party so Zach and I kept to ourselves. Ali is growing up soooooo fast. Can't believe it, she acts so grown up sometimes. You tell me if she has my genes, here's a line from her 1st report card, "Ali is not afraid to question things and likes to take on challenges" I'm raising another non-conformist :)

And I have to say one thing, some students of mine from school have fallen upon this blog world of mine. Guys, this is my world outside of CCS and this is the real me. What you get here is raw, and some of my bloggin' friends are rawer :) But its real, its real people trying to find their way in this world and seeing the Kingdom of God as not a one time decision, but a lifestyle of self denial and Christ following. Its not the safe church world of rules and regulations where life is sucked out of you. its the dangerous place of being in the world of not of it. I love you guys and am not afraid for you to see the real me, but you need to add your own comments. Join the conversation and put out your own thoughts and struggles, its safe, all of it. Here, I am not your teacher (Mr. Marshall), I am just Chris, or cmarsh, or marsh or other expletives that come to mind :) Let's get honest, let's get real, its not CCS, its reality and its underground.


Friday, November 07, 2003


"We have found a coherence and identity within the Desert and Celtic monastic traditions that has made sense of God's leading in our lives. We believe that here, in Northumbria, the Lord is touching peoples' lives in the same way as He touched the lives of our forefathers and mothers in the faith who first brought the gospel to us. We too are experiencing a call upon our lives regarding the nature of our faith, a call to repentance, to self denial and a resisting of evil. A call of God to find a Way for Living that relates to being a Christian in society as it is today. We are not escaping from the world, nor is there any condemning of the Church of which we are members. There is no intention to set up some new movement, strategy or programme, but simply an exploration into how we should live as Christians in a changing age with all its challenges and opportunities. We have not sought to replicate the so-called Celtic Church nor, when we talk about a 'new monasticism', are we talking about joining a religious order or the need for the renewal of the old monastic institutions. What we are seeking to embrace is the 'heart' of monastic spirituality and its application in our contemporary setting."

Came across this description of Northumbria Celtic Community and I want some of what they say to be true for us in the missional community movement of Spirit. We are not a "new" church, we are not replacing anything. Like Jesus fulfilled the OT and the Old Covenant, we are a fulfillment of all that has been attempted in the name of "Church" in our history. Whether we agree with our ancestors or the ones who have traveled before us or not, we are all mixed into the same casserole. Yes, we want to reform and lead the church to a more honest and authentic community, but we are not the 'end all'. We are part of a story, not writing a new volume. We have a responsibility to present the truths of the Kingdom in our real world, but so have all who have gone before us. I'm young, but I don't want to be stupid nor arrogant. I used to be the poster-child for being all things postmodern ministry, now I just want to be a Christ follower and lead others into that experience.

I follow leaders who have the strength to be humble, I aspire to be that kind of leader.


Thursday, November 06, 2003

Here's my review of "Matrix: Revolutions"

Special effects/fight scenes/Action sequences = off the chart, over the top, overwhelming at times, best action sequences I think I've ever seen. Rating = 10

Storyline = I have always had low expectations for story in the Matrix trilogy. It has never completely captured my imagination or challenged me. I am a rarity who really liked the philosophical conversations of #2 and Matrix #3 was just redundant. Nothing new. Nothing more to say than that "choice" is crucial, even amongst providence, and the highest choice is "love". My largest rant is way too much SAP. It was so awkwardly sentimental in places, trying to tie up loose ends with sappy scenes was totally Hollywood and lost its sense of Epic. Rating = 5

Ending = my largest fear going in was that the trilogy would have no consummation. that Neo would wake up and the whole thing was a dream, he's still just a computer programmer by day and loser hacker at night living in the city. This was not the case. They wrapped up the Trilogy with a true climax and still left it open ended to increase wonder (#4 down the road???) What I was really pleasantly surprised with was an ironic twist in the ending. Without giving it away, Neo gains an allie in a very unlikely place and I honestly didn't see it coming. I like being out-thought. Rating = 8 1/2

Soundtrack = I think I'll have to get it. Really intense digital rythymns. Captures futuristic, raw struggle. A few times in the movie I stop watching the images and just took in the music. The music is still in my head this morning and it effected my dream sequences last night I think :) Rating = 9

Overall = 8 1/2, amazing action scenes, average story, good ending. The Lord of the Rings triology is another dimension above Matrix in my mind and Dec. 16 is coming. Its fun to live in a time when movies are capturing imagination and helping us recapture the depth of story instead of giving in to the shallow, hollywood crack addicts.


Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Tonight we see if the prophecy is true!

Countdown is on. 9:30 tonight, 8 guys, 1 digital theater, 1 consummation to a triology of story, bring it on!

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Met with Dan Peterson last night, the exec. director of our church planting family and had a great time for dinner in our home. He just got back from the Ukraine a few weeks ago and reported that the leaders of the church planting movement over there have vehemently requested that "Chris Marshall" guy come back to talk with the younger leaders/planters about this missional community gig. So now its decision time again. Here's how I see it. If I go back, my wife Nicki has to come with me, no exceptions. As well, we would stay in Kiev and hang with the house church network that I partnered with last summer and throw a bunch of parties with them for their urban neighborhood. So, if I go back, I not only want Nicki with me, I'd love to bring a larger team from Ordinary Community or the larger network of missional communities around who are interested in a cross-cultural adventure to the former Soviet Union (with a stop in Paris most likely) and to spread the virus of organic, missional thinking across the globe. I'm requesting prayer for the decision, cuz finances have to follow, and I'm wondering if anyone else out there is up for the adventure. Dates are July 28-August 10. Nicki and I, if we go, will probably spend a few extra days in Paris on the trip back just to re-kindle our romance (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

Acts 1:8, "And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea, and Samaria, even to the ends of the world."

Who's feeling it?


Monday, November 03, 2003

"Everytime you listen with great attentiveness to the voice that calls you the Beloved, you will discover within yourself a desire to hear that voice longer and more deeply. It is like discovering a well in the desert. Once you have touched wet ground, you want to dig deeper." - Nouwen, Life of the Beloved

I've been talking a lot lately about portals to the Kingdom that are all around us and that we have access to through the Spirit of Christ. What this passage from Nouwen reminded me of is that there is a portal within us as well. Christ dwells within us and whispers to us all day long, calling us His Beloved. If I quiet myself, quiet my heart, quiet my mind, quiet my body and its cravings, I hear this voice and it spurs me to dig deeper and hear that voice more clearly. I long for communion with Christ today. I am intentionally seeking to quiet my being in the coming weeks. Seeking wholeness spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. I want to live in and experience my Belovedness. Some portals are outside of us, in the universe, just waiting to be discovered. But there is another portal, another access point that dwells within us. Christ has pitched a tent right in the middle of our brokenness and said, "I want in". Stop and commune with the Spirit of Christ today.


Thursday, October 30, 2003

Ok, It' On! Let's get this party started . . . Mayhem is coming, and your invited!

Postmodern. Post-Christian. Post-Programs. Emergence. Subversion. Chaotic. Communal. Ancient. Future. Simple. Mysterious. Missional www.not-alone.org
Everybody is talking about answers for the emerging church. Everybody is reading the next book that will solve our dilemma. Everybody is trying out the flavor of the month in hopes that the magic pill will make sense out of our present reality. And what is our present reality? Some call it postmodernism, a radical deconstruction of all our previous cultural assumptions. Others call it post-Christendom, a transition time for the historic church where it finds itself on the margins of society. Others label it a fad, a bad dream that we will someday awaken out of and get back to the way things used to be and ought to be. We call it Mayhem. Not sure how to label it, not sure how to define it, we just know that we’re in it and we’re not alone.
We want to invite you to a gathering, a conversation centered around the reality of Mayhem and what is emerging. Out of this reality is growing an underground movement of Christ followers who are not afraid of their surroundings and not surprised at the shifting ground underneath their feet. These are people who resonate with an old faith in a new world. These are people who are passionate about words such as community, natural, organic, simple, missional, monastic, relationship and Kingdom.
We want to invite you to a “thin place”. In Celtic Christian tradition, certain locations were called "thin places", where the division between heaven and earth was said to be at its narrowest. It is understood that in some places the veil that separates the eternal from the temporal grows thin and becomes permeable, so that in such places, the things of heaven are felt and experienced with greater clarity. When you find yourself in Mayhem, you need clarity. We believe that our faith is rooted in the truth that the Kingdom of God is both now and not yet. We have glimpses now, portals of the Kingdom that can be accessed through the Spirit of Christ. The fullness of the Kingdom is not yet, but in reality not altogether foreign for us. It is at this intersection, in the thin place of the Kingdom now that we declare you are not alone.
We want to invite you to a gathering of “not alone”. As we are moving forward into the future in co-operation with the Kingdom in whatever form of Church you are an architect in, we are not alone. Mayhem can be chaotic, dark, lonely and cold but you’re not alone. Mayhem is being hosted by an emerging network of missional communities in the Midwest. It is a 2 day gathering where Brian McLaren will help lead the conversation to make sense of our present reality and point us towards the future. The gathering will be highly interactive and relationally driven. In addition to Brian McLaren, there will be round-table conversations led by practitioners who are making attempts in the new mayhem. The “thin place” will be sought through community worship, monastic reflection, common meal, communion, prayer and new friendships breaking out all over.
Mayhem is taking place January 9-10, 2003 in Cincinnati, Ohio at St. Elizabeth’s Church on 1757 Mills Avenue. Doors open at 5:00 p.m. on Friday for the common meal and close at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday. We will be providing housing for a limited number of participants based on a first come first serve basis. We take hospitality very seriously and want you to feel welcome, as well as keep your costs down.
We are also proud to partner with and associate ourselves with Off-the-Map, Next-Wave & Allelon who will help lead our conversation. You can register @ Mayhem . The cost is $40 for one registration and $70 for two registrations - any two people registering together. Our space and registration is very limited so plan ahead. (Cost includes Friday evening common meal.) If you need more information, Email us at info@not-alone.org

It’s Mayhem, and you’re invited!
Registration starts today and its real limited, let's get the party started.


Wednesday, October 29, 2003

This is in today's paper as a new publication for things to do in here in the Nati. The pun just cracked me up, make sure you "sin weekly". I prefer my sin hourly, or nano-secondly, but make sure we all meet our quota of sin weekly.

Tha Nati is a unique place to live, I'm never leaving.


Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Coldplay "The Scientist"

Come up to meet you
Tell you I'm sorry
You don't know how lovely you are
I had to find you...
Tell you I need you
Tell you I set you apart

Tell me your secrets
And ask me your questions
Oh let's go back to the start...
Running in circles; coming in tails
Heads on a silence apart

Nobody said it was easy
It's such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard
Oh take me back to the start

I was just guessing at numbers and figures
Pulling your puzzles apart
Questions of science; science and progress
Do not speak as loud as my heart

Tell me you love me
Come back and haunt me
Oh and I rush to the start
Running in circles, chasing our tails
Coming back as we are

Nobody said it was easy
Oh it's such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be so hard
I'm going back to the start

This just seems to be my story with God. Ebbs and flows. When my mind and training compartmentalize Him into a system, His Spirit and my restless heart just break through. And its not easy to live out the disciplines as communion with Him but its so sweet, so filling, so overwhelming to the soul. But back at the start, back to my primal needs, back to a reckless love and a Grace that is always abounding. My faith is a story with God, a story of pain and heartache and joy and peace. As I listened to this song this morning, my heart just lept out of my chest. I'm so in love with my God, I'm so in love with my community, I'm so in love with the missing children of God who I will encounter today. The Kingdom is here and it has not slowed down a notch regardless of our perceptions. May the gates of hell rattle some more today as the Kingdom invades the world through us today. Be free to enjoy the Kingdom today.


Monday, October 27, 2003

Reading "life of the beloved" by Nouwen. Coming to the realization that my self-worth is not based on success has been one of the top 3 conversions in my life. Now I'm just trying to keep re-learning it over and over so I believe it and live in it in some sense of normalcy. He says, "Aren't you, like me, hoping that some person, thing, or event will come along to give you that final feeling of inner well-being you desire?" I find myself always looking for the magic pill. As an extrovert, just one more party with lots of people, laughing, entertaining, having a great time and then my heart will feel content. But its not enough. As an obsessive personality, throw myself into one more hobby, one more theory, one more story/movie to make sense of, one more obsession to figure out and master and then I'll be alright. As a perfectionist leader, do something really relevant, really outstanding, really popular, really powerful, but its never enough. Lose myself in a movie, lose myself in a meal, lose myself in one more dark beer and cigar, lose myself in success, lose myself in trying to be loveable and relevant in this world. All of this is meaningless.

What it must have felt like when Jesus came up out of the water at his baptism and heard a voice from heaven say, "This is my son whom I love, with him I am well pleased." As I sit here real quiet before my day, I think i hear that same voice calling me. "Chris, you are my beloved, with whom I take delight in." I deny the voices in my head today towards self-rejection. I am his beloved, and this is in a mystical sense, enough.

Stop and notice the Kingdom today.


Thursday, October 23, 2003

Rumor is this book is out come December 1..
"A thoughtful and provocative collection of sermons by a group of preachers from across the international church spectrum who have been moved to theological reflection on the art and work of U2. This book will appeal to fans of U2, students of homiletics, and everyone interested in the intersection of art, popular culture, and religion."
RAEWYNNE J. WHITELEY is vicar of Trinity Episcopal "Old Swedes" Church in Swedesboro, New Jersey. She is the author of many articles and published sermons.
BETH MAYNARD is rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Fairhaven, Massachusetts and past president of Gathering the NeXt Generation, the Episcopal Church's network for postmodern ministry. Her publications include books, pamphlets, sermons, and several articles.

I AM SO THERE!!!! I think this calls for me to go home tonight and put on a U2 DVD on the HDTV precious and just check out of life.

Get it straight:
Nov. 5 = Release of "Matrix Revolutions"
Nov. 18 = Release of "Two Towers" extended DVD
Nov. 18 = Release of "U2 Go Home" Live DVD at Slane Castle in Ireland
Dec. 1 = This U2 book comes out
Dec. 17 = Release of "Return of the King"
Dec. 25 = Celebration of the birth of the Lord Jesus (priorities straight)


check out www.ordinarycommunity.com, Creech helped me re-design and it looks a lot better. What do u think?

Had Fight Club last night with Rains, Canipe and Glenn. Always a good time, did some Mayhem thinking and tried out the new "Red Robin" here in north Nati. Afterwards, Glenn and I went to get some ice cream and ended up talking til 11:00 p.m. which is rough when i get up at 5:30 a.m. (Glenn, thanks for the wisdom) But the World Series game wasn't even over when I fell asleep at 11:30. Marlins won, series tied 2-2. Go Fish!

Taking my Alzheimer's Grandmother to our school fall play tommorrow night so I let the kids know that if she has a fit of cussing not to take it personally, she's just having an episode. 60 years of being a fundamental baptist sunday school teacher and now that Alzheimers is taking over, all of her repressed feelings, constipated emotions and passive aggression comes out in cussing me out at times. Isn't it actually more spiritual to let out our cuss words a little at a time over life like pressure release so we don't have them pent up for our old age to take out on our innocent grandchildren? i suppose its easier to judge one another on our choice of words and blacklisted terms rather than challenge each other to live lives of love and service to the King.

Stop and notice the Kingdom today.


Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Since I made a confession to the evangelical world yesterday that I have a tattoo. Today I confess to my emergent underground friends that at this moment I am wearing a . . . necktie. Not like the clip on in the photo, a pretty hip one, but a tie nonetheless. Please don't reject me, its picture day at school and I have to look the part for a day. So please still love me and like I told Creech, by dinner time tonight I'll have a hat on backwards looking as thug as I can again. I'm still just a rough kid from philly, I haven't sold out. Confession over.

Lord, may i be acceptable in the sight of my brothers and sisters today. Amen. :)


Tuesday, October 21, 2003

in the teacher's lounge today at lunch, the topic came up of tattoos. 2 of my fellow teachers remarked how tattoos are an indication in society of the haves and have nots. and that they are a simple form of cultural conforming. What? Like wearing pants? Isn't that conforming to culture? Adorning ourselves with jewelry and the such. We criticize other cultures in light of our own being the best, the absolute right one, the one Jesus had. I mean surely Jesus was a white, suburban, baby boomer, college educated, republican protestant evangelical, right??? They just kept going on and on. I wanted so badly to lift my sleeve and raise the flag! I just wasn't ready to end my employment yet. The Celtic Cross branded on my left shoulder is the cross of Christ. The movement I have pledged my life to. It has an inner circle symbolizing my communion with Christ. And it has an outer circle symbolizing my communion with those around me. (Love God, Love neighbor) It is filled with Celtic knotwork which has not beginning or end, its eternal. My communion with God and one another is eternal. And I have the Greek letters of Chi and Rho. The first 2 letters of Christ in the ancient greek and the original symbol for Christ followers. Not a cross, and not a fish. I spent years considering this decision and had it done in Dublin, Ireland where my Celtic roots come from and the basis for the model of church planting that I'm involved with. So sorry if I'm educated and I have ink. When did cultural preference become absolute truth? The answer is everyday here in evangelical America. When will we see past ourselves and see a bigger idea than real Christians don't have tattoos? When will it be about heart transformation and a Kingdom come? That's the Christian story I want to be caught up in.

"I consider myself a Christian, but sometimes I feel very removed from Christianity." - Bono

Monday, October 20, 2003

Reflections on the weekend:
A gathering of emerging church folk from Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

Beginning friday evening @ 6:00 and going til Sunday afternoon for me was another great time of Kingdom friendships. The friday night dinner was of a thousand conversations, good food, pipes & cigars on the porch in candlelight, stories being written, hearts feeling not alone, peace and joy was the atmosphere and that was supplied from the presence of Christ. Saturday morning was the highlight for me. It helped me define better why we exist. People came to our gathering hurting. God spoke to me early in the morning while driving down and said, "listen for stories of pain". And then during worship, he instructed me to read from Ezekiel 37 and the valley of dry bones. This seemed to resonate with many. You see, dry bones are not permanent, they are a temporary state in Kingdom economy. We are the carriers of God's breath within us, as we speak and prophesy into others, dry bones come alive. This is what i saw. As we shared some stories of pain, the community surrounded these stories, layed hands on them and prayed the breath of God over and in them. I saw discouraged faces peel away through the tears and watched as hope and joy landed upon these brothers and sisters. The prophetic words spoken seemed to be sharply accurate. What a privelege to live a dream. To live in full community, live in the present reality of the Kingdom, and to draw a sword in the direction of our enemy who is seeking to steal, kill and destroy. This weekend we took another step into the enemy's camp, not because we enjoy the conflict, but because we are people of the Resurrection and where the stench of death is, we are called to bring life and set captives free. I often wonder how to better organize ourselves, how to be more effective, but this seems to be systematic thinking. The organic approach is more like us. So that means that just being faithful friends to one another, celebrating the sacraments, being people of the Scriptures, promoting peace, humbling ourselves before God, building local faith communities that pay attention to their neighborhood and celebrating joy whenever possible.

Henri Nouwen says, "The greatest gift my friendship can give to you is the gift of your Belovedness. I can give that gift only insofar as I have claimed it for myself. Isn't that what friendship is all about: giving to each other the gift of our Belovedness?" Maybe this is all we should shoot for. A network of Kingdom minded Christ followers who live in their belovedness and give away that gift to the greater community around them.

Abba, thank you for this weekend. We are your beloved and we desire to serve. Help us to stop and notice the Kingdom today.


Friday, October 17, 2003

bad blog week for me, must be in a slump. Or it might have something to do with the fact that I've been up late watching the baseball playoffs everynight and being too tired to think during the day. @#$% Yankees, I hate 'em. But the charm of the continued curse on the Cubs and Red Sox is too funny. I mean, if you rewind and play in slow motion some of the highlights of the last couple days, you can see the exact moment when Chicago and Boston fans hearts literally are breaking in half, again. Pause, rewind, pause, slow mo, rewind. Hilarious. And atleast it was a former Red, but I cursed the day we traded Boone to the Yankees. Never make a deal with the devil, it will come back to haunt you. I've hated the Yankees since I was born with the exception of some great baseball guys whom I can't hate . . . Mattingly, Winfield, Jeter, Williams etc. As of the bottom of the 11th inning last night, I just became a Marlins fan for the next week. Go fish!

* This weekend is gonna be AWESOME! Our basement is about 90% done and we moved in furniture last night to make room for the Best's staying with us this weekend. We'll call it the "Best Suite". Starting @ 6, the Midwest Coalition is coming together to commune with one another, laugh, share stories, laugh, encourage, laugh, ministry report, laugh, resource, laugh, worship together, laugh, eat, laugh, consume some ale and a fine cigar, laugh, meet new folk, laugh . . . All hanging out @ the Brownhouse in Norwood, expecting 60-70 tonight for dinner and many more for our worship gathering on saturday night. I'm so glad we got childcare tonight so my wife can meet and greet without running after kids, y'all need to know her, she's a stud. Looking forward to hangin' with the st. louis crew, Bests, Sherwoods, Allis, Creech, Bean, Johsons, Canipes, Rains, Bell's, Palmer, Brocks, McGillivary's, Bowen's, Todd from Philly etc. etc. etc. The clans are coming out of the highlands and its time to celebrate. Celebrate the coming of the Kingdom of God, the simple truths we live our lives by, the richest of Kingdom friendships. Let's (as the Celts say) live in that "thin place" where its hard to distinguish between the Kingdom now and not yet. Come Holy Spirit, catch us up in a mystical union of you and one another. Amen.


Tuesday, October 14, 2003

"You will not think clearly about your life until you think mythically. Until you see with the eyes of your heart." -waking the dead

Sometimes I wish that I had never seen clearly at all. Remaining plugged to the Matrix has its advantages. As Frodo said, "I wish the Ring had never come to me". Because with seeing clearly the salvation story and the Kingdom that prevails is a blessing and a curse. The burden of not going through the motions, not being able to just shut up and let status quo roll on. I grow weary of carrying the burden. I feel the pain of the people journeying around me and I watch them choose to return to their sin of choice over and over again stuck in patterns of irrational thinking. We hate the Matrix and we love the Matrix. We hate the Ring and we love the Ring. We hate consumerism and we love consumerism. We hate selfishness and we love being selfish. We are interconnected with our own sin, co-habitating and co-dependent. Seeing clearly is painful. It makes you question everything. It changes the way I teach everyday, its annoying. I can get out the pat answers I want to say so that I can move on and can Christianity enough so I can grade it. Instead I'm enslaved to re-frame the story for them over and over in terms of the Kingdom of God and not evangelical catch phrases. I supppose I feel burdened today, it happens every so often. Not sure if its my depression raising its ugly head or a sense of responsibility and inadequacy. I see, sense, feel and smell the stench and pain of evil around me today. Its a burden to carry but atleast I can see clearly.

Stop and notice the Kingdom today.


Monday, October 13, 2003

just reading some of the comments from the gathering of emerging church folk in Atlanta with Rodney Clapp this past weekend and it sounded like another holy love fest. Its astounding to me how like minded Kingdom builders are finding one another and building sacred friendships quickly and organically, as we all dreamed. As an extrovert, it sounded like I missed a great party with great folk. Greg Quiring is a good dude, check out his blog, I feel so kindred with his heart and thoughts.

So how can the Midwest coalition follow up this great gathering in Atlanta? With a party of our own. Come one, come all, rock 'n rollers and out of controllers! Our next "all-group" weekend is upon us beginning with a shared meal at Vineyard Central on friday night, ministry and resourcing on sat. morning and a worship gathering on sat. evening for the whole family. So looking forward to hanging with some of my favorite leaders/friends/brothers/sisters. Receiving wisdom, support, care, and the kind of friendship I always dreamed of. More folk are coming from out of town and I say bring it on, but don't go falling in love with the Nati cuz when its over you have to go home and do your Kingdom thang there again :) Let the countdown begin cuz its gonna be another holy love fest.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Going home sick to day with a stomach bug. Suck. Puked in my yard before leaving for work this morning. Memories of a lifestyle gone by many years ago. Sorry this blog has no edifying spiritual value, just ordinary life. Hope its of the 24 hour variety. Home to rest for awhile.


Tuesday, October 07, 2003

My daughter Megan is 5 today. Happy Birthday Megan! She is an incredible little girl. Her smile is so sweet, She is so tiny, so sensitive, so much of a goofball. She is our middle child and I am in love with her, she smiles at me, and any day becomes just fine. I wonder what she'll do as she grows up. I wonder if she'll become a carrier of this Kingdom virus her parents have been infected with. I wonder if she doesn't already have it. I'm not interested in her getting "saved" and praying the prayer based on historical facts. I'm interested in her making a decision to live and love as Jesus lived and loved. I see glimpses of that kind joy in her eyes and I rejoice. Stop and notice the Kingdom today.

"Christianity isn't a religion about going to Sunday School, potluck suppers, being nice, holding car washes, sending our second hand clothes off to Mexico - as good as thost things might be. This is a world at war. Something large and immensely dangerous is unfolding all around us, we are caught up in it, and above all we doubt we have been given a key role to play." - Waking the Dead, Eldredge

Does this measure up with your reality? Sometimes I wonder if I'm too dramatic, too much of a showman. And sometimes I wonder if I'm a hiding prophet who won't have the faith to articulate what he sees and hears from the heart of a God at war. I see and hear the pain of a people wrapped up in all the wrong values, not tasting the fruits of the Kingdom, but bearing the name of Christ. I live in this realit everyday amongst students who have heard it all before but not once tasted the Kingdom. And I don't know how to communicate it without being measured as such a threat that my job is in jeopardy. God give me the grace to be an agent of your Kingdom today. Amen.


Monday, October 06, 2003

"Call it a clan, call it a tribe, call it a network, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one." ~ Jane Howard

"We were created to draw life and nourishment from one another the way roots of an oak tree draw life from the soil. Community - living in vital connectedness with others - is essential to human life." ~ John Ortberg

"Human beings who give themselves to relational greatness - who have friends they laugh with, cry with, learn with, fight with, dance with, live and love and grow old and die with - these are human beings who lead magnificent lives." ~ John Ortberg

* These quotes were stolen (I mean resourced) from Jim Best's blog. They describe how I felt this weekend.

Friday night was family night, a couple DVD's, popcorn, my wife and kids and our new big screen TV (not a member of the family, yet). Just relaxing and doing nothing but cuddling. As a kid from a divorced home and growing up without a Dad, I cherish these times of touch.

Saturday morning is devoted to watching my girls play soccer, Ali is really getting pretty good. Then we had a baby dedication gathering at our home for Maggie Drake. The community moved from our home to a farm for some animals, wagon ride, pumpkin picking and a corn maze. Then back to our home for 3 different kinds of chili, cornbread, cake, hot chocolate, smores and dough-boys (new pastry idea over a fire). Then the kids are playing, conversations are happening inside, football is being watched on our new "ministry" TV and some of us spent about 2-3 hours around the fire outside just chatting about life, church, faith, jobs etc. etc. etc. What a great night! What great community!
Sunday morning we were back at it for our monthly leadership/business meeting for Ordinary Community. With 4 house churches going now and new people joining/hanging around them, intentionality/organization is becoming more of a team project. And God has built that team. We worshipped, commissioned the Bowens and strategized together how to strategically give away more of our income from tithing. We keep about 10% of our income for internal purposes and try to strategically give away 90% of our income as we can find need. This may be the most satisfying thing I have ever done in ministry. Everybody makes a sacrifice and we can tangibly love others with financial gifts. Almost too much fun to be Christianity :)
And then Bob Bowen and I did some hard core business work on the "mayhem" event coming Jan. 9-10. Have I mentioned this before? Oh, yeah, can't talk about it yet. I promise there will be a website launching within days and then you can scramble to register you and your communities for a "coming out" party about missional communities.
God bless you as you build the Kingdom today.


Thursday, October 02, 2003

I would blog this morning, but I just read 2 superior blogs about the deep, core shifts in how we do church and our part in it. You have to read Alan Creech's blog and Paul Mcgillivary's blog, really, really good thougths/reflections. They are linked on the left. enjoy.

Stop and notice the Kingdom today.


Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Glutton for punishment here. Just got my shipment of books from Amazon (sorry Bean, should of gone through you) for a few months worth of reading, 10 books in total and David Crowder's new worship CD. Authors include: a couple more Nouwen books, Newbiggin > "Gospel in a Pluralistic Society", Roxburgh "The Missionary Congregation, Leadership & Liminality", Stanley Grenz "Primer on Postmodernism", Dan Kimball "The Emerging Church", Guder "Missional Church", Webber "New Evangelicals" and a couple others. Still reading "Waking the Dead" right now by Eldredge.

What books would you reccomend be bought next?


Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Feeling discouraged today. Don't know why. Maybe its that I get discouraged at my job sometimes. The Christian School enviornment does not represent the Kingdom that I feel so passionately about. In fact, my view of the Kingdom is a threat to the whole system of things. They want control, discipline, simplistic theology and kids in dress code. Does it matter that 95% of the students find Christianity completely irrelevant or compartmentalize it into an emotional high from time to time? I feel alone sometimes, like its Halloween everyday. I put on my mask, pretend that I'm towing the company line but knowing that I long to be real/honest and that would be the end of my employment so better have a back-up plan.
Is it that unless I find another way to subsidize my teaching salary, I can't stay here past this year anyways? Our church planting support runs out this year and it helps us afford the monthly bills with my teaching job. So in the back of my mind is this timer that is ticking. "what are you going to do, Chris? Do you have a plan? shouldn't you be working that scenario now so you're ready? . . . worry, worry, worry . . ."
Is it that I'm not completely using my gifts? I have lots of leaders I would like to coach but can't take the time to coach them. I have lots of ideas/revelations that I would like to teach but I have no way for teaching them? I have lots of thoughts that I would like to formulate, study and write on, but not the time to sit down and do it?
Is it that I do not take the time for solitude and thus get my heart in order? I get up early enough to get to school to prepare for the day, come home to soccer practices, community meetings, workouts (ha) and family time, weekends are packed, so where is quiet? (Quiet is on vacation)
Is it that I look for life in things that are dead?
Is it that I'm a control freak who never settles?
Is it that I measure myself and success based on faulty goals and values?
Is it that I'm not sleeping enough each night?
Is it that I'm in the thick of battle, in a war each day I rise? Leading a revolution against an enemy who wants complete destruction of me and all the blessings God has given me.
Is it what C.S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity, "this universe is at war"?
And war can be discouraging.

So which of these is the reason? Yes, on all accounts.

discouraged? yes
down today? yes
depression hovering? a bit

hopeful? always
defeated? never
quitting? kiss my arse, I'll never give up

Battle is upon me, to battle I go.
Christ in me, the hope of my salvation.


Thursday, September 25, 2003


check out this link of an article by Brian McLaren on "Emerging Values"

Did I mention that Brian is coming to the Nati to participate in the conversation of "Mayhem" Jan. 9-10?????
Hold on, I'm not supposed to talk about Mayhem yet. . . more on this later.

"Our present life and the next. When we hear the words eternal life , most of us tend to interpret that as a life that waits for us in eternity. But eternal means 'unending', not 'later'. The Scriptures use the term to mean we can never lose it. It's a life that can't be taken from us. The offer is life, and that life starts now." - Waking the Dead, John Eldredge

Are you experiencing Kingdom life now? I mean "right now". I really believe that I am. So much convergence has been happening in my life over the past few years. The Spirit of Christ is living in me, I feel it in my bones. It makes me behave the way I do. It helps me say/write the things I say/write. His nature and my nature are communing. Of course I still war with sin and fall to temptation, but its grip is loosening. Not sure how to explain it, but I am seeing and experiencing more and more this Kingdom kind of life now. The majority of these experiences or glimpses of the Kingdom come from you guys, my community. I have the best friends, you guys empower me and spur me on towards love and good works. I thank God for you. I want to be the kind of influencer in our community that helps lead you guys to a Kingdom life now and not just later. Love and peace to all of you.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Home sick yesterday and today with "pink eye" and a severe sore throat and congested head. So I bought my anti-biotics, rented some movies and am chilling at home. Just finished watching "Bowling for Columbine" and have mixed feelings. Its a good thought provoker on our culture and its fascination with fear and violence. I'm just not sure that our best hope is emailing our legislature Michael Moore suggests. One fact I didn't know is that the NRA was formed the same year as the KKK. Heston was interviewed and said one of the reasons that we are so violent as a nation is because of "mixed ethnicity". So a good white world would be perfect and no need for guns. This is the same Heston who is the spokesperson for videos of the Holy Land to walk where Jesus walked and of course his famous role as "Moses". Moore backed him into a corner during the interview and Heston spewed bigotry, corporate tag lines and a worldview of fear and reaction. Sounds like the corporate church I grew up in. The "religious right" is in bed with the NRA and needless to say, they don't represent me. I'm not a gun freak. I've never touched one. Its not a personal issue to me. I also say that its not the reason Columbine or other school shootings happen. They happen because of isolation and lack of community. Sub-cultures and alternative worldviews arise out of a void for meta-narrative or grand story. Kids who have been neglected, abused, warped and left alone gravitate towards the only meta-narrative that they can make sense of, chaos. No meaning, nothing has significance, everything is random, darkness rules the day. There is no story, no sense of belonging, no sense of purpose, no sense of hopeful reality, no meta-narrative. Guns and bullets are tools of chaos, they are not the cause. The root of chaos is isolation, lack of community. It is a complete disconnect with our created purpose. A Trinitarian God who created humanity with the need of belonging to the story of one another. Take this away and we have only darkness. Heston and the evangelical church have the idea of reaction in fear to this dark world. Heston will stockpile cash and bullets, 2nd amendment buttons for his lapel and spin doctors for his rhetoric. Evangelicals will amass campaigns of hate towards the secular culture. Down with Hollywood (unless of course they promote our apocalyptic cinematic crap), down with that "rock" music (unless its CCM), down with MTV (not TBN), down with pre-marital sex - as it might lead to dancing :) (yes I'm for abstinence outside of marriage so don't go there) "Down with this dark world - it scares us, oh please Jesus, come back soon, we can't handle it. Our story isn't big enough. We've reduced your gospel deal to getting the unsaved, saved. We have no idea what the hell that means, but we can sure rally around the idea of telling those damned people they're wrong and we're right. Isn't that what our story is about? Having the right information system? Mental ascent to the correct set of beliefs? That's what will keep those kids from shooting each other up with those darn guns, get 'em saved from hell. Hold a rally, get them to throw their stick in the fire, make it big, make it dramatic, get 'em all emotional then bring in the closer and get 'em all saved from hell, then it'll be ok.
Our evangelical story sucks. It is not a big enough idea. It has no room for the actual gospel, which is Kingdom transformation, Kingdom communities, Kingdom people who think missional, Incarnational living in the real world, love for orphans/widows, creative arts & culture, people who serve before being served, communities that live love, communities that offer belonging and are missional about that offer, people who embody hope in neighborhoods, who are good news to their neighbor. Our weapons against the emerging darkness are not bullets or fear, they are love and hope. We are not to lock the door and hold a loaded gun. We are not to cast a stone and frantically pray for the rapture. We, as children of light, run into the darkness. There is no hope because we are not there. I reject the evangelical gospel, its not a big enough story. I make another decision today to embrace the larger Kingdom reality. Sorry Mr. Moore, instead of emailing my congressman today, I'm gonna be-friend the lonely. Real community is the Kingdom Now. It is my hope. It is my story, the one I belong to.


Friday, September 19, 2003

Kind of reflective today. Just read through all my blogging buddies, about 20 in all and I'm just amazed at how I resonate with these pilgrims. The exchange of blessings/challenges through comments is just astounding. It is an invisible world of real community and I believe a breeding ground for Kingdom warriors to nurse their wounds and get their marching orders confirmed.

Bob and Kelly Bowen, one of our community planters with Ordinary Community just reported in from vacation at the Gulf shores. It turns out that during some of their pool conversation they ran across another family who home schools and also does "home church". They have been meeting in a house church for the past 5 years but were not aware of the growing network here in the midwest as they live in Georgetown, KY. So Bob and Kelly gave them Creech's info. as they are more local to him and invited them to our next All-Group in October and they are planning to come. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? God is moving. the virus is spreading, an epidemic is on the horizon. Kingdom unite, Kingdom arise. Its a good day to live.

"Thank you for responding to me; you've truly become my salvation! The stone the masons discarded as flawed is now the capstone! This is God's work. We rub our eyes - we can hardly believe it! This is the very day God acted - let's celebrate and be festive! Salvation now, God. Salvation now! Oh yes, God - a free and full life!"
- excerpt from Psalm 118 (The Message)

Stop and celebrate the Kingdom today.


Wednesday, September 17, 2003

This is the start-up week to my new committment to physical workouts. Monday, I ran and I'm still feeling it. Tuesday, I lifted and I'm still feeling it. Today, after work, its time to run again. In the meantime, I'm fighting some sinus infection/cold that keeps me drained and achey. But I have to keep momentum going forward, can't afford to take a day off yet. Push forward, take some more ground, its a battle. I know I have to push through this week to get through the pain of just beginning. Taking it slow but pushing ahead. How did I allow myself to get this out of shape???? Everyday is a new battle. Today its me vs. the pavement in my neighborhood. Who will win? She is an intimidating foe.


Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Ok, been meaning to do this for a long time, but I greatly expanded the "fellow bloggers" section to the left. These are all people who are in this journey of planting missional communities around the world. They are also people who challenge my daily thinking and spiritual formation. Good peeps, all of them. Enjoy.

"The Glory of God is man fully alive." -Saint Irenaeus

Really? seriously? But I have work to do, lesson plans to prepare, things to get to, tv to watch, messages to call back, emails to return, future to plan, finances to secure, basement to finish, office to clean, wife to support, friends to care for, kids to raise, paperwork to complete, wokout plan to execute, car to wash, closet to clean, tommorrow to worry about, events to plan, house church to prepare, grandmother to visit, fantasy football to obsess over, people to please, self to feel important, ego to satisfy, hunger to curve, void to fill etc. etc. etc.

Is the Kingdom really about today and I'm just flat missing it? Fully alive. Sounds like a dream, and dreams do come true, sometimes.

"I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." Psalm 27:13

Look for the goodness of the Lord today and let it outnumber your to-do list.


Monday, September 15, 2003

"Lord, you have been our refuge
from generation to generation.
Before the mountains were born,
before earth and heaven were conceived,
from all time to all time, you are God.
You turn men into dust,
you say to them “go back, children of men”.
A thousand years in your sight
are like yesterday, that has passed;
like a short watch in the night."

This battle that we find ourselves is not a new one. Its not about modern vs. postmodern, traditional vs. progressive, organization vs. organic, mega vs. micro, excellence vs. simple or establishment vs. grassroots. It is an age-old battle of good vs. evil, flesh vs. spirit, Kingdom vs. destruction. If we are to fight this war well, we need perspective. We are not the first ones to lift our swords. We're not the first ones to suffer casualties. But nonetheless, we are here. And our King has seen it all. Nothing takes him by surprise. He is calm, he experiences no anxiety. He is determined to be patient for his Bride to awaken from her slumber and take on his nature. I feel humbled this morning before my God who has always been. You are the great "I am" and I submitt my will and my sword to you this day. Teach me your ways, your nature and I will lead your people to the great battles of your Kingdom in this age. I place my trust in you, you oh God are our reguge and strength. Amen.


Friday, September 12, 2003

Its FRIDAY, i think I've said this a dozen times already today but it still remains true. Its interesting in our culture how we dread through our work week to get to each weekend as sacred time. Its like religion. Know the orthodox protocol: Monday = recover from the weekend, ease into the week, Tuesday-Wednesday = put your head down and just work through the hump, Thursday = hope is seen at the end of the tunnel so cram a bunch in to free yourself for the weekend, Friday= begin to relax, wrap up loose ends, put off anything you can til Monday, then comes 5:00 on Friday and whistles go off, bells ring, happy hour begins. I have nothing but family time tonight and I can't wait. Even though my kids at times don't get along (pastor's kids) I am so relaxed around them. They are my primary community. So what's on for tonight? Go buy a wedding gift for Joe Long (can't believe my boy is getting married), movie night? out to dinner? games at home? who cares? Its family night and probably will involve ice cream at some point :) Hope your weekend is great. Stop and notice the Kingdom around you today.


Thursday, September 11, 2003

Letter to Kevin,

Yesterday tested our friendship, tested our character, tested our sense of brotherhood. I hope in the next 100 years of our lives, we don't experience that kind of raw emotion, but I'm probably wrong about that. But we survived. Not only did we survive, we learned a lot about the good and the bad within us and we're still standing. Remember the line from Fight Club, "What can you really know about a man until you've seen him in a fight?" Well, what you learn is the depravity and the beauty. We have a mix of both, but when push comes to shove, we call out the beauty (the Kingdom stuff) in one another. So, we're still standing. No, check that. We're running to the front of the battle line . . .

I'm learning now that we are making some other kingdom nervous. The enemy is showing its ugly face and delivering some blows and they are painful. But here's the deal, we're getting back up. Do you hear that, you slimy piece of crap? Nobody is down, nobody is out, nobody is alone. The fellowship is strong and battle makes us stronger. Do you really want a fight out in the open where the light reveals the absurdity of your lies and the irrationality of your accusations? Are you sure you want a piece of a Kingdom Community that seeks to serve first before being served? Are you sure that you want to awaken the people of the Ressurrection? Because we hear you loud and clear and sorry that we don't cower into a corner, its just not our nature. We take after our King and He seems rather confident. His orders are clear. No retreat, no surrender, no fear, no hestitancy. You want a fight? You got one big boy. Though we walk thru the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil, for He is with us. Sound the alarm, its on and we're showing up. Kingdom of God, unite, war is upon us.


Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Ok, I've been complaining about a lack of connection with the ultimate reality, no intimacy time with God, no time to connect with my heart. Well, tonight after reading a book with my daughters, praying with them and putting them to bed, Ali starts to tell me how thankful she is for God. Something like, "I'm so thankful for God. He's given us everything. This house, food, our money, all the people I love, everything. I'm so glad we have God, he's so good to us." (all while climbing up to the top bunk and getting in bed). All my whining seems so insignificant. Ali gets it. A small time of reflection. A moment of gratitude for a God worthy of worship. Solitude in the midst of routine gaining perspective for a peaceful night of rest.

"Let these children alone. Don't get between them and me. These children are the kingdom's pride and joy. Mark this: Unless you accept God's Kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you'll never get in." -Luke 18 (The Message)

Thank you for teaching me tonight, Ali. I'm thankful to our God for you tonight.

Finding it nearly impossible to get some time for quiet. I feel like I'm really hungry and thirsty for some solitude, but where? I only need to be at school from 7:30-3:30 but am finding that to fulfill what needs to be done, I'm here from 6:30-5:00. Its even more stressful when the amount of hours required still don't provide a salary that I can support my family on. When I get home I'm exhausted, don't want to do anything but hang with the family and attend community gatherings. I'm a big picture thinker and not taking the time to gain perspective in solitude stresses me out. I feel like I'm only paying attention to the immediate with no connection with the transcendent. Everyday gets a little better, I'm getting a grasp on it but I want to dig myself out. I need time for personal worship/solitude with God and I need time for exercise, for physcially I'm always tired. Is the answer to get up earlier than 5:00 a.m.? Is the answer to dedicate a couple whole days a month for solitude but not much daily? I know I don't like this feeling and I know that I can't maintain it very long. God of peace, I want more than a quick fix, I want a doable plan. Show me the way of discipline. Show me the place for rest in your arms. I miss you.


Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Where else can I turn? You have the very words of life. Why am I consumed by so many other things? Why does my heart stray from the source of life? Why do I seek life out of things that are dead? How utterly depraved my flesh must be. Broken before you I come, Jesus. With not much to offer, I come. My heart is thirsty, I want to drink from your well and be filled. Where else can I turn? You have the words of life.


Tuesday, September 02, 2003

i feel crushed today. physically, emotionally, mentally, the whole deal. A full month of travel followed by my wife's traditional family camp on labor day weekend which I went to straight off my flight back from Boise. Sleeping in cabins, more athletic activity than the present state of my body can handle, our annual fantasy football draft on Monday night and then back to school here on tuesday morning. I'm not adjusting well. I feel behind the 8 ball and trying to dig my way out. I hate being away from home so much, i hate not being in my bed, not being with my family and feeling disconnected from my community. I learned a lot on this trip though, mostly thru listening to the Holy Spirit. I have much to report but not yet. The first big piece of news is that I'm going to drop myself from the DMIN program that I went to Portland to begin. I'll explain later, but have had real peace as a result. Hopefully this week i will have the time to bear my soul a bit and articulate what's happening inside my heart. Its good to be home.


Wednesday, August 27, 2003

back to school for cmarsh. Spent 9 hours in the classroom yesterday and will be 8-12 today. Its all been on library resources and search techniques to train us for our dissertation projects but its been unbelievably elementary. Like, "did you know that if you click on that arrow on the top left part of your screen you can go 'back' to the previous page? Its called the 'back' button." this is doctorate work? anyways, having a good time and a lot of laughs. Last night a great dinner with Todd hunter, Keck and Rains, then to an Irish pub in downtown Portland for some culture, then back to our host home and about 2 hours in the hot tub. The tub was overflowing with the amount of flesh in there, but a good time had by all and good conversation. Will be heading back to Eagle (Boise) later tonight after having coffee with Ken and Deborah Lloyd before leaving town. Dallas Willard time begins tommorrow when the Allelon crowd starts rolling in. Can't wait to see some of the boyz. Also can't wait to get home and stay home. You can take the kid out of the Nati but you can't take the Nati out of the kid. Look for Kingdom come today.


Monday, August 25, 2003

Chilln' in Boise with Kevin Rains and some of the Allelon crew. Kevin and I had a great sabbatical yesterday, driving Keck's old VW bus, spent an hour in an arcade and then saw Matrix reloaded at the IMAX. We're driving to Portland today to begin our Dmin classes the next couple of days. will update later. keep on rockin' in the free world.


Thursday, August 21, 2003

Its been back to work this week as I've been dealing with the jet lag of overseas travel. I have ended up with a head cold but could be worse. The downside is that I have to leave town again on Saturday evening and spend a week in Boise & Portland, half of the time beginning the doctorate program at George Fox University, and half of it spending with freinds from Allelon and getting to hang out with Dallas Willard. I'm traveling with K-Rains which of course will be awesome but I'm bumming to be leaving my family again so soon. Trying to get everything for school together before I leave cuz I have to get a substitute for myself the whole first week of classes. I have no idea if I can pull off being a full time teacher, full time correspondence doctorate student, full time missional community planter, full time Dad, full time husband, full time neighbor, full time friend etc. If this doctorate deal doesn't seem kosher, its the first to go. I am deathly afraid of failure and all these responsibilities seem destined for failure in more than a few of them. I know my only hope is to quiet myself and focus on the spiritual disciplines. (which reveals my ongoing immaturity, seeing the transformed life as a means to an end and not an end in themselves) Here are Merton's words that I'm shooting for: "It is part of a continuous whole, the entire unified life of the monk, conversatio monastica, his turning from the world to God." When will I turn from the trappings of the world and its performance treadmill and turn to the quiet submission of a life transformed before God? That is the life he is calling me to, it is the way of the Kingdom. What am I doing??????

Sunday, August 17, 2003

alrighty, back in the USA and recovering from some serious jet lag. Had a relatively smooth trip back with the exception of I-75 in Cincy. It took us over 2 hours to get home from CVG because of construction traffic at midnight, not what I was looking forward to after having traveled 18 hours already. But seeing my family was so sweet, Zach learned to walk while I was gone.
Dublin was all that it was cracked up to be. Craig and I had a blast, ate some great Irish food, visited a few (dozen) pubs :) The Guinness factory was over the top. Much more than we expected, the multi-media and experiential effect was sweet. We took a bus about 50 miles south of Dublin on Thursday to an ancient monastic site called Glendalough. This is where St. Kevin planted a monastic community in the 6th century. The monastic life of ancient Celtic Christianity has been an inspiration to me in the reason I'm about missional communities today. This was holy ground for me, the cemetery and ruins really spoke to my soul. I was getting annoyed with other tourists who were putting out their european cigarette butts on the graves of these ancient saints, walking through the sites talking on their cell phone when the area screamed for some deep reflection. It made me think about the Kingdom of God, some have found the narrow path that leads to life and others choose the wide road that leads to destruction (Matthew 7 i think).
OK, and now the real highlight of Dublin. I got INKED! yes, after about 2 years of thoughts, i did my research and permanently branded myself with the cross of Christ. Since I wanted a Celtic Cross with celtic knotwork design, I wanted to have it done in Ireland for the romantic effect. Of course when it came down to it, my tattoo artist was south african who knew nothing of Celtic symbolism and rather specialized in murals of women and satanic symbols. So much for romanticism. However, he was a good artist and did a great job, I love it. More about it to come.
I had only one regret on this trip, that I wasn't here for the Palmers. A couple of times after reading emails/blogs and separated from y'all overseas, I had to get alone and just weep for Mark and Jennifer. I prayed, I got hundreds of churches in Ukraine praying and when my wife let me know that Jennifer passed, I felt so helpless. I wanted to be with all of you as a source of encouragement but I felt so isolated. I hardly know what to say, my heart is broken for Mark, not in a pity sense, but wanting so badly to help shoulder his pain so its not unbearable for him. I close with a celtic prayer (Scots traditional) for Mark:
"Deep peace of the running wave to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Deep peace of the shining stars to you,
Deep peace of the Son of peace to you."
I love you bro.


Sunday, August 10, 2003

3:00 p.m. local time and I am now back in Kiev. The meeting I spoke at last night before leaving for Kiev was mostly young guys who were converted out of drug addiction. Finally, my type of crowd. So I dropped the hammer and let loose a little passion, it was fun to be myself and get the audience tracking with the restless heart of God and his passionate pursuit of his missing children. The taxi took only 3 1/2 hours where the bus ride previous took 5 hours from Kiev to Rivne. I spent the night in the apartment of Vova, a stud of a missional community planter. We have such kindred visions and passions for church planting. He is teaching me as much as I to him. This has been the best part of my trip. He is also an artist with leather and he is customizing a leather cover for my little travel Bible. These people rock in hospitality! I have learned so much about how I want to host people in my home. It was amazing to hear him talk about his growing community of young professionals and students in urban Kiev. The Spirit has already planted the virus here and I'm just affirming it for them. Friends, we're on the cusp of something huge! We visited an ancient monastery here in Kiev and walked in the catacombs where the monks of old are mummified under glass and worshipped by the Orthodox. It was a bit creepy but cool. I took Vova (missional community guy) and one of his ministry partners to "T.G.I. Fridays" here in Kiev and stuffed them with potato skins, huge cheeseburgers and Oreo sundae = the american meal. They loved it but are stuffed, they never eat that much. It was my first american food in 10 days and it was AWESOME. I stay in Kiev again tonight, shop in the morning, fly to Vienna on Monday afternoon, eat dinner and tour Vienna, stay in Vienna, fly out of Vienna on Tuesday morning and head to Dublin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Green Island is calling me, can't wait to see Craig.
Thanks for all your prayers, support and watching after my family. The Kingdom is so sweet, regardless of what side of the ocean you are on. Keep rockin' in the free world.


Friday, August 08, 2003

Its 12:30 p.m. here in Rivne, Ukraine (western Ukraine) and its about 5 a.m. cincy time so top to the morning to ya. I have spent the past week doing a lot of speaking, teaching and yes, preaching. Because I'm with a Baptist group the people here have not quite found a category for me so they call me a "dramatic Baptist" by my speaking style. I suppose ,Creech, I should lay on them some of your pentecostal slang terms. The last 2 days we traveled many miles by van to a few village churches where some of our teams are hanging with kids. The best one was way up north just short of the border to Belarus, our team of 16 african americans have 150 kids and its a simple village where they have never seen black folk. Its like a freak show. The whole town is there and has police protection 24/7. Some of the black teens have been teaching the Ukranian natives the "playa rulz" for success in attracting the opposite sex. This community is about 30 miles from Chernobyl where the effects are still seen in some of the abnormalities of the people. We also visited with another church planting couple in their 20's at a community that is built around the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. Your not permitted to take pics of the nuclear stacks but of course I snuck some footage. Completely postmodern community and this was a young team getting involved in serving the community rather than building a church building (which is forbidden). I gave them some financial gifts on behalf of Ordinary community since they are much like us. It wasn't much by our standards but about 4 months wages for them. Its fun to come alongside and bless like-minded non-conformist types who care about people and mission.
I will be speaking one more time tommorrow evening then getting a 3 1/2 hour taxi ride back to Kiev before the rest of the team gets there on Sunday evening. I am meeting with another young urban church planter and hangin' with him for a day to see what his community is about. I'm taking the team members from this community out to lunch on sunday and hopefully they will show me more of the secular parts of Kiev, I'm done with all the churches.
the food has been so heavy on starches and fried meat that my digestive tract is beginning to react violently. But am treating myself with much immodium.
The hardest part here has been the stifling church culture. the dominant idea to have traditional services and build buildings, wear ties, never smoke, drink, wear shorts etc. its sad to see the same irrelevance here as we have in the U.S. the large percentage of the young population think the churches are a joke. I can only teach on Zachaeus so many times til i realize that they are just words. So i've begun to lessen the conservativeness of my appearance here and intentionally made some of the church leaders squirm. they say I dress and look like a young person and not a pastor, however my teaching is powerful. stereotypes are stupid. Also a few times in public places we were asked to bring greetings from our churches in America and at the mention of "ordinary community church" there are snickers and laughs. not because they found it funny but because they didn't respect it or didn't think it was a "legitimate" name. I must admit that it hurt my feelings a bit, but again I'm reminded of church culture and its irrlevance to the lost world.
My translator, Ivan, a 26 year old genius type has been a blast! I will get him to the U.S. for you to enjoy, he's a riot and about a third of my size, we are quite the pair. We talk extensively of politics, economic systems, church history, fundamentalism, secular culture etc. I have taught him a lot of american slang. When he sees me for the first time in the morning I now get, "what up dog?" The virus is spreading. I am very homesick of all of you. I miss being casual, informal and amongst people of the same church style. When I see Craig in Dublin on Tuesday I may kiss him dead on the lips just to see one of my peeps. i hope he takes it in the right way. I shall be reporting one more time from Kiev, then off to Vienna, Austria on Monday night, then fly out to Dublin on Tuesday morning. There is light at the end of the tunnel and it smells like Guiness :) :) :)
I bless you to experience the kingdom where you are at, much love from my heart to you.
As for Ordinary Community, i long to return and worship with you, I have spoken so much of you and didn't realize how much of my heart you guys own. i long to be back with you.
As for my family, I can't put into words how badly i want to feel your touch. The picture book you gave me has never left my side. Will call you soon. I love you.