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.