Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Leaving in the A.M. for 27 hours of flights til I arrive in Kiev, Ukraine. I will be trying to blog and update towards the end of my trip when I arrive in more civilized western europe and internet cafes. Until then, peace be the journey. I appreciate your prayers. The Kingdom is here, its all around us, whether you go or you stay, stop and notice Kingdom come.


Sunday, July 27, 2003

Recruiting for intercessors: Here is my basic itinerary for my trip to Ukraine/Austria/Ireland. The ministry portion needing prayer is the Ukraine, Austria/Dublin is about fun and a pilgrimmage. In the next couple weeks I would appreciate your prayers. As well, pray for Nicki (my wife) and 3 kids that they feel safe and comforted as Daddy is gone.

I go overseas as an ambassador of my life motto, to "keep rockin' in the free world"! :)

Wednesday, July 30 Depart Cincinnati for 27 hours of flights
Thursday, July 31 Arrive in Kiev, tour of Kiev, nite at Hotel Rus in Kiev
Friday, August 1 All Ukraine Church Planter’s Conference - Kiev
Saturday, August 2 All Ukraine Church Planter’s Conference – Kiev – travel to Rivne in evening
Sunday, Aug 3 Visit potential sister churches in AM and PM
Monday, Aug 4 Church Planter/Pastor’s Conference in Rivne
Tues, Aug 5 Church Planter/Pastor’s Conference in Rivne, day 2
Wed, Aug 6 Day off, visit potential sister church in evening
Thurs, Aug 7 Visit Day Camps (Dubrovitsa or Mlniv), visit potential sister church in evening
Friday, Aug 8 Visit Day Camp (Dubrovitsa or Mlniv,or Kostopil), Overview to Rivne Baptist Union ministry
Sat. Aug 9 Ministry at Grace Church of Rivne
Sun, Aug 10 Preach in churches in Rivne area, travel to Kiev in afternoon
Mon, Aug 11 Souvenir shopping, Kiev, depart for Transfer city, night in transfer city (Vienna)
Tuesday, Aug 12 Fly to Dublin
Wed. Aug 13 Visit Guinness factory, Irish music hall of fame, Dublin Castle, Trinity College Library and Book of Kells
Thurs. Aug. 14 Travel to Wicklow mountains, visit 8th cent. Monastery of St. Kevin, hike mountains, see cliffs over sea
Fri. Aug. 15 Fly home. Arrive in Cincinnati at 10:00 p.m.


Saturday, July 26, 2003

ok, 4 days til I jettison off across seas and I feel myself preparing, not just physically, but emotionally/spiritually. This is a great opportunity and I want to soak it up for all its worth. I don't want to just travel, I want to go on a pilgrimmage. I want to be accompanied by the saints who have gone before me and I want to journey not to a place, but closer to the heart of God. I want to see the living stones (people) of the areas I visit. I want to see and experience diversity. I want to know what its like to live Slavic, to live western-european so that I don't say "god bless america", but "god bless all his children on earth". I want to take another step towards building a worldview that is more Kingdom than american. I have pride in being culturally american, but no tolerance if it interferes with me as an heir and son in the Kingdom of God. Render unto Ceasar, you know? The learning edge for me as an extreme extrovert and spontaneous personality is to go on this adventure and pay attention to "soul quiet" as well. Meet and greet folk, but retreat to solitude, quiet my heart, and experience the God of all humanity. I anticipate finding beauty in unexpected places. To commune with my savior as he teaches me more about his children.


Thursday, July 24, 2003

Had a great coffee conversation with Paul (my co-pastor) this morning. We talked of a myriad of topics but I expressed my lack of rest and stress over the coming events and as I talked some revelation hit me. I am facing, for I think the first time in my life, a scenario that is totally beyond my ability to control and therefore I can't control if I will fail or not. And I have an enormous fear of failure. With my trip to Europe followed by a trip out west to begin working on my doctorate program, then back to start my teaching job in which I'll be teaching 7 classes everyday, 4 of them in which I've never taught before, continuing to pastor Ordinary Community, continuing to lead regionally in the Midwest in organizing church planter gatherings, heading up with that crew a large event here in Cincy in January, all the while trying to be a husband and Daddy and a son to Abba. There is no way I can do this thru my own talents and abilities. My revelation was that God orchestrated this scenario to push me towards surrender and solitude. That he is calling me to a life of discipline and transformation so that I learn how to feed my soul in rythymns and anchor deep amongst storms. I confessed to God that I couldn't do it and he seemed to say, "Good, I can handle it." John 15, "apart from me, you can do nothing." Do you think he really meant that?


Wednesday, July 23, 2003

ok, its getting down to "go" time and I'm getting nervous. Not sleeping well, not resting well. I think its all the stuff I feel like I have to do before I go and I will only be in Cincinnati for like 7-8 days in all of August. I love adventure, but over the years, my wife has converted me to a homebody of sorts where anything more than 2 days away and I start getting homesick. I'm gonna miss my family in a real big way, i think its starting to steal my sleep in right now. I leave one week from today. Holy spirit, come and give me peace tonight.


Sunday, July 20, 2003

I just had to paste this from Paul's blog (my co-pastor). He couldn't be at the Midwest gathering this weekend but this is his reflection. I love this guy.
"I was bummed that i couldn't go hang out with the church planters. What we're finding over and over is that trust is central. I just have a few things to say to those church planters/missionaries out there who feel like they're lost, up against the world, in a dark room:
Walk in trust. Be in touch with the Spirit. Know that you are not alone. When you feel depressed, alone, unable to express this yearning in your heart; remember that we have been there too. It's part of the journey. Don't let the enemy tell you to walk away. Don't let this burning in your heart turn cold. Don't play it safe. Instead of trying to control circumstances to arrange for the Kingdom of God, draw close to Jesus and the Kingdom will come to you. Watch as He wipes your tears, fulfills all your deepest dreams, draws you into community, fills your needs (but not in the way you thought He would). What would it look and feel like for you to be there? Can you see the light shining into this dark place you are in? Take the steps and watch it happen."
Geez, I'm exhausted, what a great weekend! The Midwest Greenhouse @ the Brownhouse was Epic! I feel filthy rich in social capital. I want to send out a few "thanks" to some of my highlights.

Thanks to:
Tracy Rains- for her hospitality, that chick worked her tail off for us.
Creecher- dude, you are a trip, the many impersonations brought concerts of laughter. Joy and depth pours out of you, I love being a recipient.
Bean- your comment about what we thought was "transformation" can really be our misguided attempt to control a "system" was a provocative thought and I believe to be dead on.
Mark- giving direction to this group of rag-tags ain't easy, thanks for your leadership this weekend.
The Best family- I will never listen to the Monday Night football theme the same again thanks to J.J.
The Bishop- we met in Boise but became brothers sitting in 2 hours of traffic and purchasing the "beverage tank" for the weekend. Your perceptions of the disciplined life took a hold of me, I am meditating on the "only gateways to the graces of God"
Palmers- loved hanging out w/ "the landing place" crew, I long for Jennifer's healing and Ordinary Community will not tire of groaning before God for his Resurrection to be glorified in her body.
The Blaylocks- thank you Sandy for your challenges, don't stop now, keep seeking the truth of the Kingdom of God amongst us.
Owen & Sandy Brock- your wisdom, gifts and graces are more than impacting on Vineyard Central, they have been an encouragement to the Body as whole here in Cincy. Look forward to many years of continued Kingdom building with y'all here in the Nati.
Ken Oester- thank you for hosting a conversation with my daughter, Megan, the beauty of real community is Kingdom come.
Glen & Cathy & Jason - Veritas is always representin', you guys rock, Nicki and I feel so kindred with your journey, we love our being interconnected with y'all
Chad- thanks for the projector (i.e. neccesary liturgical tool), always leading our way as far as high tech. goes, your wisdom and depth are a constant source of encouragement to me
K-rains - Bro, the virus is spreading! I don't think you have any idea of the scope of influence that Christ is incarnating through you (and you not knowing is a good thing), thanks for all your hard work of administration, connecting and leading the cause to get the Bishop here. I honor your sensitive heart and grace, nice contrast to my "bull in the china shop approach". Let's continue to march into the enemy's camp and pick a fight there, mayhem is our friend. Can anyting good come out of Cincinnati? Bring it on.


Thursday, July 17, 2003

ok, its 1 a.m. and I'm downloading music to make a CD or 2 for my wife while I'm away on my traveling adventure. I keep listening to sappy songs and find myself falling in love with her all the time over and over again. She has been so good to me, an amazing compliment to all that I'm not. I brought (am bringing) so much baggage to our marriage and she just sticks by me, waits out my ups and downs and waits for me to grow up and mature some. She's an incredibly hard worker, amazing with kids, unbelievable talent when little ones are around. Ain't nobody that has a pure heart like hers. She is the "goodest" person I have ever met, I love that about her. With her, everyone gets the benefit of the doubt, everybody has value and worth, everybody is the child of God that she knows them to be. Mercy flows from her like a river, out of a pure heart and I am often the recipient. She is so sweet, her smile as radiant today as when I met her. I had to fight off a few suitors for her heart and now I am a man blessed beyond measure. Did I mention that she is beautiful? Did I mention that my 3 kids are head over heels in love with her too? Did I mention that her athletic talent was a rush to watch in college - 2 time all american in volleyball :) ?
as I chase the movement of your Spirit, would you remind me of the Kingdom come to my home? Help me to stop and pay attention to Nicole. help me to win her heart everyday with words, actions and real connection. help me to stop and enjoy what you've already provided instead of seeking ahead for some fleeting goal. She is a gift to me, that I be a good steward of her heart and trust. that I cherish her with all that I am, that I seek to serve her rather than be served. Amen.

I love you, Nicole. Life is so much fun with you, I'm so glad we found the Kingdom of God together. Let's take all the Grace we've been given, all the heart that we have, all the gifts that have come from heaven but lives in our bones, and let's pitch a tent in the middle of the enemy's territory and magnify the Kingdom there. Let's be agents of healing, protectors of the suffering, providers for the poor in spirit, teachers of the truth, encouragers amongst despair, family to the lonely, co-laborers in Christ.
With you by my side, I'll cash all my chips at the table and run this race with you. You have always been the love of my life, sorry I don't say it enough. Receive the renewal of my vows this night.


Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Had another great "fight club" tonight. Swapping laughs and Kingdom stories, can't believe we get paid to do this. Hold on, nobody's getting paid. Its about right then.
Plan ahead and keep your calendar clear on January 9-10, 2004. Its secretive right now, can't say much, but let's just say that mayhem is coming to the Nati and your going to want to be a part of it! A lot more to come on this, but just think MAYHEM! can't divulge any more.
The Midwest Greenhouse this weekend is looking like a huge party of church planter freaks from all over. I seriously can't wait. Some of my favorite people. Mike Bishop is coming from Florida (staying w/me), the Best family from Michigan (staying w/me), the Blaylocks from Michigan, the Creeches from Lexington, God-willing the Palmers from Columbus, Mark and Beans from Indy, Johnsons & Jason from Oxford, the usual suspects from Cincy and many more. Its gonna be an awesome time of relational connections. We're having a unique "all group" gathering on Saturday, hope it all works out. Friday night is a bbq, relational time and the first ever "Brownhouse Pub" :) Its all really more fun than Christ followers are supposed to have.
Found this quote in my travel study for Ireland. Its a saying used in Pubs in Dublin to encourage relaxation and good friendships . . . "When God made time, he made plenty of it" = Relax, enjoy your friendships, they are a gift and a living reality of the Kingdom amongst us.


Sunday, July 13, 2003

We had a great "ordinary community" gathering today in our home. I love these folks. Always beginning with a great feast we spent some time in worship, they gave me a chance to cast some vision out of Jeremiah 33 and then we evaluated our past year as a community based on our 4 core values (Community, Authenticity, Passion & Mission). Having journeyed together for the past 2-3 years with these folks, it was really rewarding to hear them articulate Kingdom principles that I (as the planter) have been passionate about passing on before we ever ventured out on this gig. Things like community becoming natural and that we need to be aware of and paying attention to everyone within our circles of influence. That mission is a lifestlye and not an outreach strategy. That Christ following is really hard and impossible without a real community of people who aren't afraid to get in your face and you even give them permission to do so. That passion in life can be fleeting but God desires to unleash the very desires of our heart that he planted there.
Thank you God for my tribe of Christ followers, we're pretty ordinary, but you are continually driving us deeper into your heart. I'm a pretty content church planter today. Don't forget to stop and notice his Kingdom amongst you today.

May your Kingdom come, may your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.


Saturday, July 12, 2003

its funny, but since I've had a lot more time being in the summer of my teaching schedule, I can't make myself sit down and blog. (shame on me) Had lunch yesterday with Steve Sjogren, originator of servant evangelism, enjoyed a time of catching up. My teaching schedule will be intense next year as I will have 2 new classes to teach (7 classes in all). 2 sections of 8th grade Bible focused on Biblical character development, 3 sections of 10th grade Bible which is comprehensive New Testament Survey and 2 sections of 12th grade Bible which is modern Christian issues. I'm looking forward to this teaching load but know it will be a real challenge for me time management wise. I have also been named the Bible Department head which will give me some administrative responsibilities for overseeing all the 6th-12th grade Bible classes.
On July 30th I leave for the Ukraine. I will be part of a three-man teaching team that is putting on 2 church planting conferences for native Ukranian pastors/planters. I am still learning of the culture and history and hope to spread the virus of missional communities there (no building, no staff, just healthy christ following in real community). On August 11 I will spend the night in Vienna, Austria then head to Dublin for 4 days with my friend Craig Spinks. Can't wait but I'm getting real nervous about leaving my family this long. Real nervous.
If this isn't enough, I have applied to a graduate program at George Fox University in Portland, Oregon to work on my Doctorate. It is completely correspondence and I get to personalize the program under the supervision of Leon@rd Sweet. Haven't been officially accepted yet but am 90% sure its a go. It will take 3 years to complete and will spend one week on campus each year. The first being the last week of August, which is the 1st week of my teaching schedule = horrible timing but a short term cost. This decision feels right for a lot of reasons, but also makes me very nervous of the committment.
Ordinary community is having a worship and planning gathering tommorrow and am looking forward to getting specific about where we've been and where we're going as a missional community.
more to come.

please pray for the Palmers. My heart bleeds for them. check out his blog from my links.


Wednesday, July 02, 2003

This is a snip of a conversation online between the honorable Alan Creech and myself today. It doesn't take much for us to get our passion areas out on the table when it comes to the Kingdom of God and us submitting to it. Let me know if any of this connects with you.

cmarsh222: the Kingdom is not about celebrities, $$ and organizational structure
cmarsh222: until we die to that crap, we will never experience the future
cmarsh222: the Kingdom heroes are shepherds, screw ups, prostitututes, carpenter's stepsons, nomads, outcasts, . . . now you got me preaching
cmarsh222: We have to change what we count and change what we value, if not, we are irrelevant, and not in the good way that Nouwen talked about
cmarsh222: we are still more american than we are distinctively Christian, and that has to end
AlanCrch: aman!
cmarsh222: one cup of coffee and you have me preachin'
AlanCrch: ha lay loo ya!

Thanks Alan for listening to my ranting. The Kingdom is Now.


Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Had lunch today with another missional community leader, Dave and we talked together of our frustration with having seminary degrees that don't help us get jobs in the real world and in being mediators between the emerging church expression and the one we were trained in, get finances from and have some accountability towards. We wondered out loud about the politics of it all, personal compromises and the desperate need to be the pastors we long to be but also provide for our families, cuz no one else will. Through all of that we came to a different conclusion than the one we were planning on. It is simply, "quit whining!" The Kingdom is now. Yes, we don't know our future completely and we don't know what tommorrow will be, but in the now the Kingdom is happening and we are missing it. We are at times despairing, wrapped in fear, lost in the transition and all during that, God is providing for all our needs. And we complain cuz we want security. It struck us that Jesus maintained his joy because he lived in the "now". As we strategize after goals and expectations that will never be met, the Kingdom goes unnoticed around us. Each opportunity to connect with my wife, each opportunity to enjoy my kids, each opportunity to dwell richly in my community of friends gets sucked dry cuz I'm worried about tommorrow. The Kingdom is here and we are still looking for the consumation of all things. We rob ourselves of joy, peace and contentment cuz we are focused on the future and God is now! Oh, that I would stop my striving and running and achieving and building and rescuing the urgent. That I would learn to have joy on the ride. Love the ride. Live for the ride. Some ride the ups and downs of the roller coaster (life) only being in fear of the next turn, or wondering when it will end, or hanging on for dear life with their eyes closed. I need to learn how to enjoy the thrill of right now! Lick it up, dwell richly in now. I have a book on my desk that I've only skimmed written by a Budhist called "The Power of Now". Why are the Budhists kicking our arses in this area of peace, joy and contentment? We evangelicals run the machine known as church. A ferocious appetite for more consumer goods. When leaders burn out, replace them. But keep striving, keep turning the crank, keep doing the same inhuman activity over and over again and believing that this time its really different, this time we will find the magic pill that solves all our problems.
The Kingdom is now, don't miss it. Its the secret to joy, peace and contentment. I'm leaving now, to go sit and be with my wife, right now. Thank you Abba for the joy of now.