Sunday, September 26, 2004

Ok, the Bengals stunk today but I had an absolute blast!! Tailgating with Joe Long, Glenn Johnson and the 3 McGillivary brothers starting at 8:00 a.m. Cornhole, football throwing, charcoal grilling, listening to the ultimate Bengal tailgate CD mixed by D.J. j-long with a few thousand of our closest friends. Tailgating is just an amazing piece of American culture. It has all the makings of religious fanaticism. My highlight was walking over with Joe to the "Bengal Bus" which is owned by a friend of his. Met up with about 5 of my wife's cousins and a hoard of other crazy Bengal fans in which we packed into the Bus which is completely decked out in leather lazy boy chairs, bar stools, bengal stripe carpeting, surround sound, DVD player, bathroom and the works. I was able to be a part of their ritual of a 12:05 pep-talk from coach Wallace. That's William Wallace. They put in the Braveheart DVD for the famous "speech" and battle scene where they confront and defeat the English at Stirling. It was blaring, 25 guys sitting on top of each other, crammed in a small bus painted in Bengals stripes screaming like Celtic Warriors getting pumped up beyond measure, better than any pep rally I've ever been to. The testasterone was oozing. After screaming in the bus for 15 min. we poured out and got to the stadium for a Bengal loss :(
it was just so much fun being in the party, so much fun being with some of my favorite people, so much fun being around football in the fall. thanks to my wife for giving me the day off to do what I love to do, which is party with my friends. hope your weekend was well and now its back to work.


Friday, September 24, 2004

I'm a big fan of fridays, especially in the fall when football season is at full speed. Football has always been a diversion for me in my life, its something I'm genuinely interested in and hope to continue my coaching career in the future. (come on, Zach, keep growing!) Tonight I will check out our high school game, tommorrow is college football day with the Buckeyes playing at night and this Sunday is reserved for tailgating starting at 8:30 a.m. for a 1:00 Bengals game. 6 of us guys are going down to tailgate and meeting up with a host of other folk down there we know with shouts of "Who Dey?" heard at all times. Its community time :) My prediction: Bengals 17 Ravens 14.

I've been in a season of real encouragement of late. Just appreciating all that God has given me and all that he has provided for me. It wasn't but a few years back that I felt so unstable, unsure if I could provide for my family and do something I love. And now I can say that we are doing just fine, all of our needs are covered, and a few wants as well. I'm teaching what I love to teach and seeing the results of that investment almost daily. I belong to a community of faith that is seeking out with true authenticity what it means to be the people of God for the sake of the world. Having grown up without a Dad around, I am enjoying immensely the role of Dad to my kids. They are so much fun and I just relax when I'm around them. I have been blessed with the wife of my youth and each day I find new reasons to respect her and admire her, she's an amazingly caring/thoughtful person. I am living in the days of Kingdom come and today I stop to appreciate that the Gospel has been good news to me.

"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are - no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought." - Jesus
(Matthew 5, The Message)

peace of Christ unto your weekend,

Monday, September 20, 2004

WHO DEY!! Bengals 16 Dolphins 13

Went to the game last night with some of the boyz and it was an ugly win, but a win nonetheless and I'll take it. Got home at 1:30 a.m. and the alarm came early this morning. But with the taste of victory, its a little easier to get up. Next Sunday afternoon, going down with the boyz again for the Baltimore Ravens game and hopefully another home victory. I love football season.


Thursday, September 16, 2004

I'm starting to get back on the mend and feel like myself again just in time for the weekend. BBQ for college bound (and already started) students tommorrow night, that should make for a good time. The rain is imminent though, it may turn into a guy movie night which is better than a sharp stick in the eye.

I've been wrestling with a "label" that has been used in reference to myself and others that I am in community with. For those of us doing "fill in the blank here" (simple church, house church, organic church, missional communities), a label that has been thrown around in description of us as leaders or as people is ANGRY. I've heard it a few times as a criticism of me and I've heard friends of mine share similar criticisms they have received. Often we have laughed about it (can you laugh when your angry?), but its been on my mind over the last couple weeks. Is it a label that I wish to wear?

I will admitt to my brokeness. I will admitt that I planted Ordinary Community in a crisis of faith during feelings of desperation. I will admitt that I feel pain deeply and have high expectations for the ideals of Kingdom. I will admitt that I'm a kid from philly who wears his passions on his sleeve. I will admitt that I will speak openly about the things I believe are right. But honestly, anger is not a daily reality for me. I have never felt so loved in my entire existence. I have never felt so at peace. I love being a Dad, husband, friend, teacher, spiritual director, evangelist (in my own way), community member, son, sports fan, pastor etc. etc. I never knew that I could experience the contentment that I have today and the risks taken to get here were the best decisions I ever made. I'm in for the long haul now, I'm not hanging by a string. I feel the privelege of picking fights with the enemy on a daily basis and feeling very confident that I am an agent of Kingdom change here on earth.

So how is it that I'm perceived as angry? Am I angry because I refuse to use my giftedness (pastoral leadership) as a vocation? Am I angry because I ask hard questions? Am I angry because I am better at creating than I am maintaining? Am I angry because I measure success differently? Am I angry because I believe that small is strategic? Am I angry because I want $$ to be a non-issue for ministry? Am I angry because I reject business/consumer models for church? Am I angry because I don't conform well? Am I angry because I'm not a traditionalist? Am I angry because I'm emotional? Am I angry because I view relationships as an end and not a means? Am I angry because I dwell in the middle of major paradigms that are shifting and its hard for us to understand each other?

What is more accurate is that I have probably been too critical of views outside of my own, that's not anger, its immaturity and I'm starting to see the light in that area. I am pro-Kingdom as long as we all understand that form influences function, which is true of all forms.

I've done the work of introspection and I'm honestly going to chalk this one up to the language barrier between differing worldviews. We don't know each other and its hard for us to communicate because we use different language and rest in different values. But the Kingdom is a big idea and I frankly lack the time to be angry. I'm having too much fun being creative in His Kingdom playground.


Monday, September 13, 2004

Forgive me if its because its 5:00 a.m. or the hangover effects of the weekend fever but I woke up with these thoughts.

I've been reading alot out there in blog world about the tension many are feeling about forms and function of church as we seek to move forward in various aspects of minstry that we feel called towards. And I believe these issues to be quite complex and yet the Gospel incredibly simple. Here's my best take:

1) If we're honest, our personality make-ups have a lot to do with the forms of church/ministry that we're involved in. We gravitate towards our passions and naturally choose the ones that fit our ways of thinking. (this is coming at it from a more psychological viewpoint.)
2) According to Willard in "Rennovation of the Heart", all of us have been spiritually formed in good and bad ways and discipleship is to be transformed back to our original created selves. When it comes to ministry, all of us have been formed. Some of us have embraced certain traditions, assumptions, worldviews and church forms that we have no need to question/threaten but rather to just work the plan because there is still a LARGE amount of people going to churches on Sunday mornings and its a harvest. Some of us have been formed by painful negative experiences in church that have led us on journeys to question everything, go back to the Scriptures and try to figure out what the Kingdom that Jesus was talking about means and re-discovering ancient forms of Christianity that have been lost through the years, particularly in mainstream evangelicalism. (simplicity, community, availability, vulnerability, monasticism, contemplative prayer etc.) We speak, feel and react out of our formative experiences giving us our present worldview.
3) The 2 very general worldviews described above are strikingly different in a host of ways. They don't see the world the same way, they don't speak the same language, they share and practice different values and they have contrasting assumptions about the world they live in. They read the Gospels of Jesus to different conclusions. They define and practice evangelism with completely different styles. These worldviews are clashing in many private and sometimes public ways. And if Chuck Killian, one of my seminary professors is right (a prof. with whom I had epic battles with), he said, "ministry happens on the other side of tension", then this clash is a good thing for the Church, let's not run from it.
4) Experientially speaking, I have been in thousands of these conversations about this divide as its a part of my story. I grew up and was formed in category one and have grown through the desert to be formed into category two. (that's desert, not dessert) And in all of these conversations, I can make one emphatic statement, I haven't met one inherently evil person yet and I have found each to be passionately in love with the Christ. Now there are hundreds of things I question about motives, traditions, modern forms, power, control, hierarchy, money, pastoral roles, ego, etc. etc. but have not yet found one person to be inherently evil. Now I have been accused of the following, heretic, not saved, liberal, off the edge, misfit, angry, non conformist, "out there", different, an enigma and my personal favorite "wreaking of postmodernism" :) But I have found all of these comments to be evident of the language barrier between these 2 worldviews and the passions we have towards the ministries we have gravitated towards. And not one person is speaking outside of their own experience of Christ.
5) Out of my worldview and philosophy of ministry, I do believe that form is very influential on function. I won't go as far as to say that it "dictates" function, but it does highly influence it. The systems we create generate certain behaviors. Our systems are fueled by our formations and theolgies and the way we see the world. All of us who are intentionally doing something in ministry are thinking and acting within a form of system. For some it may be tradtiional/seeker/emergent, for others it may be organic/relational/monastic but its a system nonetheless and they all generate certain behaviors. Yes, the Spirit redeems, inspires, moves within, corrects faulty assumptions and can genuinely empower his ministry of reconciliation in either system. (my peeps are going to hate me for using the word "system" so bring it on)

I'm not sure I've said anything new here or if I've made it as clear as mud, but its stuff I've been thinking about (yes, out of my worldview). Feel free to push back, I can take it. Besides, I already assume your not evil :)

Stop and notice the Kingdom around you today,

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Not a Banner Weekend

Left work early on Friday and then proceeded for the next 24 hours to have a fever that I could not get under control. Was up all night on friday and later the day on Saturday it started getting worse. At about 8:00, Nicki checked my temperature and I was approaching 105 degrees and had sustained that for about 30 hours. So we loaded up the car with the kids and headed to the only thing that was open, the E.R. I felt like I was going to lose consciousness in the waiting room. I had about 3000 mg. of aspirin in me and that finally broke my fever. After an hour of sweating it out profusely (sorry for the details) they hooked me up to an I.V. to stop the dehydration and administer stronger anti-biotics. After 2 hours of IV, they let me go home. The diagnosis: Strep throat combined with a nasty sinus infection. My sicknesses tend to be like my personality, all or nothing. I can't just get the sniffles, I have to go to the ER with a 105 fever. I scared my wife and kids, they don't like seeing me that sick. Trying to do nothing but rest, drugs and NFL football today. (sorry guys, i have to cancel student house church again, you don't want a piece of this action)

thanks for your prayers out there. all of these things have me thinking about getting this "earth suit" more healthy and taking better care of myself. My wife said this morning that her ministry is keeping me alive so that I can affect others (or infect others) with Kingdom teaching. I like the sound of that.


Friday, September 10, 2004

umm, the "test" was to see if I could post something from my school computer because I hadn't been able to for awhile. I was not being quirky or clever, I'm not that artistic.

suffering with virus today, hoping to go home and go nite nite early.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

"There is a contemplative
in all of us,
almost strangled
but still alive,
who craves quiet
enjoyment of the Now,
and longs to touch
the seamless
garment of silence
which makes whole."

-Alan P. Tory

Stop and notice the Kingdom around you today,