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.


Friday, August 01, 2003

Its 10:42 p.m. and I'm in an internet cafe in Kyiv, Ukraine above a punk club with raging music this friday night (lovin the vibe). Europe rocks! Its like 30 years more progressive than U.S. cities and 30 years more postmodern. The trip here was okay, pretty cramped flight over the ocean, but all in all, not bad. Been here in Kyiv (Kiev) for 2 days but leaving in the morning to travel west for a week to the more rural parts of Ukraine south of Chernobyl. Food has been good, a lot of chicken, potatoes, veggies, bread, tea, strong cafe' and the such. Spoke today at a church planters conference and of course managed to pick a few fights. The Baptists were downplaying the charismatic movement so I had to step in for my Vineyard brothers and represent. Of course I consider myself to be a charismatic as well so it was pretty legit. Been connecting with discouraged African american church planters in our group and coaching them thru some depression from running the "machine". Unplugging from the matrix is painful regardless of context. Have gotten the attention from some pretty cool young urban planters here in Kyiv. They are 25 and under and building communities amongst the addicts, street kids and postmodern groups of inner city Kyiv. They are looking for a sister church in the U.S. who understands them and would support their efforts. Yes, I''m going in for the kill tommorrow to make a proposal. All is well, won't be blogging for atleast a week, keep me in your prayers. May his Kingdom come, may his will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.