Monday, June 28, 2004

Holy exhaustion, Batman! I've been procrastinating on a job for almost a year. Friends of ours offered us their swingset and mega-cool fort if we came to their house, took it apart and hauled it to our own yard. I did the swingset last summer and the fort has been hanging over my head since last 4th of July. I spent 9 1/2 hours on Saturday tearing this beast apart with the hope of putting it back together again. Spent 7 hours today hammering my brains out to put it back together in a secure fashion. The job is done. I have about 7 blisters on my hands but it looks pretty good if I do say so myself. I added a tarp roof for good measure. Fireman's pole, rope ladder, climbing rope, slide, sandbox, roofed fort and 4 swings. Can't wait to hear which of my kids will be the first one to say "I'm so borrrrrred". I'll start telling stories of how I use to have to walk to a park up hill both ways when I wanted to swing or slide. Oh well, i have that 'good' kind of tired and sore thing happening. I thought school teachers were just supposed to sit on their butts and watch soap operas in the summertime? i hope your back feels better than mine.


Friday, June 25, 2004

Been doing lots of homework for the Europe trip and the skeleton plan is set as follows:
July 28 - direct overnight flight to London from cincy
July 29- fly from London to Kiev, Ukraine
July 30-31 - teach at pastor's conference in Ukraine
Aug. 1 - Hang out with missional community in Kiev
Aug. 2- Fly to London in the morning, travel via train to Northumbria Community (Celtic new monasticism)
Aug. 3 - Day of solitiude and retreat at Northumbria Community
Aug. 4- train to Edingburgh, Scotland stay at hostel
Aug. 5 - free day in Scotland, stay at hostel
Aug. 6 - train to Manchester, England, visit record stores, stay in hostel
Aug. 7 - train to Cambridge, visit University, train to London, stay in 4 star (priceline) hotel
Aug. 8 - free day in London, stay with Paul McGillivary's family in Hethfordshire, England
Aug. 9 - train to Oxford, visit University and famous pubs of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien, stay in Hethfordshire
Aug. 10- train to London and fly home to Cincy on direct flight

umm . . . I am really excited. I pray this is a true spiritual pilgrimmage for Palmer and I. That we experience the Kingdom in different cultures and give it away to everyone we come into contact with. and . . . errr . . . the pubs probably won't be bad either :)


Thursday, June 24, 2004

Been getting lots of "thank you" cards from students who graduated this year and some of them remind me why I'm in this fight to begin with.

"Thank you for all you've taught me this year, I've learned so much from you. In the past year my desire to learn more about God, read the Bible, and develop my own opinions has grown. Thank you for showing me that following a bunch of rules doesn't mean I love God, and for showing me Jesus Christ loves me. Thanks again for everything. I think I am finally beginning to understand what a relationship with Jesus is."

By definition, Jesus draws and His Kingdom is a virus that cannot be contained. I'm content to be a carrier of that virus.

Stop and notice the Kingdom around you today,
What a good day. Made some bookings for the Europe trip. Palmer and I will be staying 2 nights at Norhtumbria Christian Community in north England and then moving from there for 2 nights in Edinburgh, Scotland at a hostel. Have more work to do planning the rest of the trip, but the 1st half is now in stone.

Met up with Johnson from Veritas for a pre-dinner showing of "Saved". It has a lot of parallels to my day job. I didn't know whether to laugh at it or just feel really sad that its close to the reality of a Christian High School. I imagine there are many out there in the sub-culture of Christian enterprise that are not thrilled with this flick. However, I didn't like the quality of the movie. I give it 1 1/2 stars. Or maybe it just means that I'm too old to appreciate it.

Had fight club dinner with Rains, Klinefelter and Johnson yet again. Really good conversation about our thoughts on local gatherings, regional gatherings and national gatherings. And it looks as if the Bishop down in Fla. is on the same page as us in his thinking. We need another missional community (christian) love fest so we can all enjoy the company again. I'm always up for a Kingdom party and am missing many of you whom I haven't seen in awhile (bishops, kecks, evans, miah, michigan crew, PA folks, Hunter etc. etc.)

After more conversation and coffee at barnes and noble, Johnson and I headed back to the theater for the 2nd part of our double feature. We saw "The Terminal" with Tom Hanks. Now that's a quality movie. I give it 3 1/2 stars. Fun characters, good story, well made, great pace, good villain and the eastern european accent made me think about going to the Ukraine in about a month.

peace to you and your house tonight,

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

just so you know that I'm still alive and kicking, I'll leave a short post. It seems that I don't sit down long enough to blog in the summertime, not sure why. I have all the time in the world, I just don't feel like it. And if you know me well enough, if I don't "feel" like it, I don't do it. One of my downfalls. One of them :)

Had a great Father's Day, steak lunch then off ot 18 holes of golf at the in-laws Country Club. Did not shoot very good, but what can I expect for the first time out this season. I would love to golf more, but I need partners and $ to do so. Neither seem to be happening soon. Sunday night group turned into a roundtable around the fire til midnight. This is the real stuff. Real confessions, real conversations, real passions in life, real community. It means a lot to me that my home is a space where teens can find their faith again amidst histories of legalism and shameful rejections. The Kingdom of God just makes so much sense and I believe the only way to find that reality is through the only gate, Jesus the Christ and a relationship with Him. I know it sounds so basic, but that's where the beauty lies. I pray these guys take their hunger for the Kingdom reality to its fullest extent, I'll hang around to influence them in that direction.

Much family time in the summer and that's a good thing. Today, Ali and I will head out for something to do besides just errands. Let's see what happens.

Am doing tons of planning and researching for Scotland/England with Palmer. Getting really stoked about it, I can't believe we will be taking a pilgrimmage in just a few weeks. Lining up housing and what area we'll be in on what days. The rest of the details are God's for us to find out.

Went out with Rains on Friday night cuz he found a place downtown advertising "free hookah after 9:00". Once the bell chimed 9:00 p.m., we waltzed in and got a table. Had some really good arabic dishes and the fine flavor of apple hookah. It turns out this place was owned by a Palestinian Christian family as they don't sell beer but promote dancing and smoking. There was a graduation party going on in another section with a D.J. and multi-generational dancing. Real dancing that everyone can enjoy and participate in, not the bump and grind caveman crap! So I guess the evangelical tradition of no drinking, no smoking and no dancing actually doesn't harken back to 1st century Palestinian culture. I guess those laws don't originate with Jesus but with the onset of modernism as played out in the Holiness and Fundamental movements. When you get some perspective in the world or history, American evangelicalism just looks silly sometimes. Nevertheless, conversation with Rains is always a good time to dream, challenge and dream some more. I can't get enough of it. And the fact that we found an arabic christian place with free hookah is just surreal. It seems that most of out time together eventually leads to the surreal. Life is good.


Friday, June 11, 2004

Lots going on.
1) Happy 31st Birthday today to my wife Nicki. What can I say, she's the total package. I married over my head.
2) Had lunch with Palmer yesterday to plan our retreat time in England and Scotland this summer. More on this to come.
3) BBQ tonight. The Bests are coming down from Michigan for the weekend so you can be sure we will be watching the Pistons beating the Lakers again on Saturday night.
4) Sunday is the celebration of Ordinary Community's 3rd birthday, we are having a large gathering at a wooded property nearby with an open indoor space we use. We are baptizing 5 children and perhaps one baby dedication. As well we will be sharing testimony of our 3 year journey together so far, counting our blessings and looking back on the story God is writing amongst us.
5) Had my 2nd interview with Indiana Wesleyan this week, I think it went well, I'll know within a week if they are inviting me back for a 3rd interview. I'm hoping this works out as a solid part-time deal for me to go along with my day job and OCC gig.

blessings upon your weekend.


Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Sorry for the blogging hiatus, I've had a couple I started but never completed. School is done and I am trying to adjust to summer. Took the family to our favorite "white trash" drive-in theater last night for the new Harry Potter movie. If your wondering if I'm influencing my kids in witchcraft, know that I want them to grow up with a worldview that includes the mystical and the powers of the supernatural. The teacheable moment is that there are no neutral powers in the world, there is God and the enemy, no hocus pocus.

i need to retreat. I need to cleanse my soul. I know I have junk laying around my heart that doesn't need to be there. I want my heart to be in tune with Abba again. I want experience His presence that can only come with solitude and time spent with Him. I want to worship the way I connect with him. Usually involves some driving, some rage, some weeping, some reflecting, some prayer, some prophetic yearnings, worshipping again in thanksgiving etc. etc. Then when I'm clean, I can read his Truths and allow their power to do some foundation work within. Bread that makes your hunger go away, water that makes you forget your thirst. When I take the time to be with Him, I find that Jesus is all that he claimed to be and more. I need some time away. I have to put this intention into action.

If you haven't listened to Pedro the Lion, you need to. Palmer and Joe Long have influenced me here and its good stuff. Kind of punk, kind of melodic alternative, kind of its own thing. Honest, raw, spiritual, passionate, haunting, everything I love in good music.

peace to you and your house.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Graduation is tonight for the seniors, I'd look forward to it more if I didn't have to wear a tie :(

I'm really, really tired. Been burning the candle at both ends this week. Some of it because of responsibilities finishing the school year up, and some of it just my fault. I'm stressing financially, trying to work out as many options as possible to keep the ship afloat. I think I'm where I'm supposed to be, it just takes 3 jobs to cover it all. Sometimes that responsibility just wears on me and when $ is really tight, I feel helpless because I can't do anything more. I think I'm supposed to stay at CCS, it fits me for the time being, but its financially a real sacrifice.

I am doing odd jobs this summer for my Mom's daycares. I need to re-visit my missionary stipend from the MBC. I am in an interview process with Indiana Wesleyan University for becoming adjunct faculty teaching Bible elective night courses throughout the year and I may also have to break down and do some food service work before I leave for Europe at the end of July. Having to spend all my time working to pay bills makes me feel like I don't have any time to be creative with OCC, present with my family or present in my spiritual life. I mean, my anniversary is tommorrow and Nicki's b-day is next week and they are afterthoughts with everything else. That ain't right. Is this where I'm supposed to be? Am I working the right plan? (or are those all the wrong questions?) Don't get me wrong, I have plenty to be thankful for and have wonderful community around me. I just need to ask these questions.

I know this summer that I need to retreat and I need to read. If I only feed my extrovert animal this summer, I won't have the staying power I need to be obedient.


Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Last night at our Liberty House Church gathering, Mark said something pretty funny. We have been studying Philippians from The Message, just reading it scene by scene and letting the Epistle work its magic of practical wisdom and instructions on humility. It has often instructed us to "love well" and be "full of grace". Mark confessed that his neighbor is somebody whom he finds the hardest for him to love. Now I'm not even sure that Mark would categorize himself as a Christ Follower but this Jesus stuff just gets viral and infects the systems of our selves. This week while he was mowing his lawn, he noticed his dreaded neighbor's lawn also needed cut. And he knew that they were out of town because of some emergency. So he was compelled to love his neighbor by mowing their lawn too. It was so funny as he was telling the story because in jest he was saying how he doesn't want to be thought of as a "nice guy" and if he keeps doing stuff like this, he's gonna stop coming on Tuesday night. We had lots of laughs over the story and I just find it beautiful. The Jesus life is infectious. When we approach his teachings with humility and a desire to learn, something spiritual happens. It gets in our bones and connects with the way we were intended to live back in the Garden. Again, I'm not sure if Mark would categorize himself as a believer, instead, he's behaving like a genuine Christ follower.

Is it true that belonging and behaving precede believing?
It used to be that when someone made a public profession of belief (baptism), then we gave them belonging (membership) and hoped that they would spend their time behaving (discipleship). Is it possible that in the emerging world, this journey is circular and not linear at all? Belonging, Believing and Behaving all work together in no particular order. Just some stuff I'm thinking about.

Stop and notice the Kingdom around you today.