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.