Wednesday, October 27, 2004

WHO DEY!! Just getting back into it after taking Tuesday off following Monday Night Football here in the Nati. Had a great time with Joe, Paul and Gabe, the infamous Bengal Bus and 65,000 of my closest friends in Bengal stripes. The Bengals played the way we believe they can play and if we can keep it together over the next couple weeks, we're right back in the thick of things. This goes into my top 5 favorite Bengals experiences, very satisfying.

Been talking with many lately about the polarization of our country in regards to this election coming up. It just isn't even civil and amongst the Christian population, it seems if their choice isn't elected then the gates of hell are going to open up and swallow up America by November 5th and no later than November 7th. It will be an imminent destruction. As a follower of Christ, I just don't think this is the case. Rather, this too shall pass and history can prove it.

Romans 13:1-6, Paul lays out his views on government. He states that we should submit ourselves to governing authorities. And Peter, in I Peter 2:11-17 says that we should submit to authorities instituted among men. He also states that we are aliens and strangers in this world, so why are we putting so many eggs in the basket of this election? I do believe that we have dual citizenship. We are to be present as salt and light in our communities, and I apply that as voting, paying taxes, obeying the laws etc. But that we are also citizens of another Kingdom that is unshakeable. So I won't get too upset if the canidate I vote for doesn't win and I don't think the world will end.

By the way, Peter and Paul couldn't vote for their emperor and Nero was a madman. It amazes me that Peter and Paul wrote these words of respect and honor to a governor who would eventually behead Paul and crucify Peter according to Church tradition. It must be that they were anchored not in this world, but in a world that was unseen. The Kingdom perspective changes everything.


Saturday, October 23, 2004

Had one of those parent experiences last night that will haunt me for awhile. Our son, Zach, is 2 and he fell down a couple stairs and split his chin open with a gash. I was about to leave for our school football game when Nicki called me from her mom's with the news. So I met her at the Urgent Care facility and it was obvious that it was going to need stitches. Zach was already having one of those melodramatic days and he wasn't co-operating. He wouldn't sit still or sit at all. So they put him on a board that had 4 sets of straps on it and strapped him down so he couldn't move. One over his head, one over his arms at the shoulder, one over his hands at the waist and one around his hips. This obviously made Zach very frustrated and he screamed and cried the entire time to get himself free but couldn't get out. I would be okay if I lived the rest of my life and never saw Zach in that position again. Now I wanted the doctor to do his job but it was really hard to see Zach in this state. His screams pierced my heart and I know Nicki was feeling the same. When your 2 year old son is screaming in agony, your instinct is to pick him up and bring him near, not fight to hold him down. Zach kept looking at us with that look of "why aren't you doing anything about this?" He felt betrayed by us at that moment. I'm sure many of you out there have had similar or more intense experiences with your kids with injuries or illnesses and you can relate.

Without being too cliche, driving out of the parking lot after it was over flooded me with immediate thoughts of Abba watching his son be tortured, ridiculed and die mercilessly on a piece of wood. How did he sit there and watch it happen? When Jesus cried out for his father to help, he was left to feel forsaken. How hard must it have been to be a father and watch that happen to your son? But that suffering had a purpose. He forsook his son that afternoon so that he could bring us near. It tore his heart so much that we had left him that he was willing to have his son go through that so that we could come home in Him. And how much do I still go my own way without any regard to the suffering of Christ for me?

Abba, I awake this morning with gratitude in my heart for your Son and his sacrifice. I don't know how you stood and watched it but as a result, I have found my way back to you. Forgive me this day for the things I do out of selfishness and indulgences of the flesh. i want to honor you with my entire being out of gratitude of your unfailing love. Amen.


Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Do you ever just hear a song and it makes you feel what the writer felt when they wrote the song? Do you ever empathize with a story? I mean jump into it so your a character in it taking it all in? You become a part of the plot, a part of the action, a part of the scenery. I was moved in my truck just minutes ago with my daughter, Ali. Her and I wear our emotions on our sleeves and we listened to the song "I'll be missing you" by Puff Daddy Sean Combs (or whatever he's going by nowadays). This is not my typical genre, it just happened to be on the radio and we began discussing the song until we began to feel the song. I explained how the artist had lost his friend to a gunshot and he was remembering their good days together. Ali seems to always be up for a "sad" song so she listened quietly. I think both of us just allowed ourselves to be moved. Do you ever take the time to be moved? I mean, let something affect you on the inside. Don't fight it off as childish, just let your heart feel something. For me, I do this to feel alive. To know that I have the capability to feel and reflect. I love to reflect with good artists/song writers/storytellers (not that Puff Daddy fits that description). I desire a life that isn't only linear. Wake up, put the appropriate clothes on, go to job, come home, do the right things, stay in control, minimize risk etc. etc. etc. I want to live and know that I'm alive. I mean, after having taken care of responsibilities, I like to check out of the linear world and have overwhelming experiences. Wasn't it Descartes that said, "I think, therefore I am". My mantra may be, "I feel, therefore I am". I want to hold onto a passion for life, people and the reality of Kingdom come. I want to experience all that it means to be alive, the good and the bad. I don't want to check in and check out of life, I want to upgrade to the deluxe model of life. Drama has its place in the real world, its just not a reality to be in all the time. Passion is one of the core values of OCC and one of the things that I admire most about Jesus. He took time to weep, even though he could fix things. He laughed, even though nothing surprised him. He got angry, he got annoyed, he got fed up and he got fired up on his favorite topics. He was alive and pursued his purposes accordingly. Passion is about living the life that you were purposed to live, and it might not be the one your waking up to in the morning. Don't just get by, live! Live fully, drink deeply from the wells of the Kingdom and take the time to pay attention to the artists around you. They might paint a picture that invites you to get in and be a part of. Now that's living.


Monday, October 18, 2004

Alot of people criticize blogs that are about the details of our lives as being only narcisistic. So I'll go ahead and post one and confirm their suspicions.

- Had a great time with one of my best friends I've had in this life. Kevin Grand and I have been friends since college and we have logged thousands of hours together in ministry, life, fun and tears. He's going through an unwanted divorce and it was good to give him a weekend of processing and pressure releasing laughter. My daughters are in love with him. They went into mourning the moment he left on Sunday morning. Kevin and I couldn't be more different and we couldn't be better friends.

- Had our OCC annual harvest party on Saturday in the freezing cold. We took a hayride in the pumpkin patch and picked out some pumpkins, as well as ate too many cider donuts. We came back to our house for a chili and cornbread dinner, caramel apple pie, pumpkin pie, hot chocolate etc. etc. We had a big fire outside that the men congregated around for conversation and then after dark we make our own drive-in theater. We projected a DVD on the side of my house with stereo sound and the kids snuggled in their sleeping bags for the halloween themed film. Very cool, we'll definitely do that again sometime. Community time never disappoints.

- I still feel sick from the Bengals game on Sunday. The great deliverance out of slavery in Egypt apparently never happened. We look and feel like the same ole Bengals. Another Sunday pathetic debaucle followed by poor excuses. Is it too much to ask for that we just be good? Not Super Bowl team, just decent, instead of the easiest team on everybody else's schedule. I was so excited to go the first Monday Night game in Cincinnati since 1990 next week with some of the boys. Now I'm just excited to hang with the boys, the Bengals are an afterthought. Yes, I still feel sick to my stomach.
But my Philly Eagles are 5-0, so there's hope for something.

- I have the final step in my hiring process on Friday afternoon for Indiana Wesleyan University. I will be teaching Bible Electives in night classes one night a week. In order for me to remain at CCS as a high school Bible teacher financially, I have to get another income somewhere that makes sense. Now I can teach Bible in my day job and my night job. Ideally, I would love to teach at the college lever full-time. Maybe this is a step in that direction. For now, it is very part-time. I thank Abba for the opportunity to make a living at one of the things I do well, regardless of how much I have to do it just to make that living. This will increase my workload, but also my opportunities to announce the Kingdom, so its a trade-off.

- I loved spending time with my kids this weekend, they are so much fun and fill my life with such meaning. This just in, my wife is an amazing person. She juggles 3 kids, a business, friendships, admin. of our community, hospitality needs and still has time and attention to date me. I only hope that I enhance and support her life as she does mine. My future is bright with her in my corner.

peace unto your house,

Thursday, October 14, 2004

So I say good morning
to the God who raises my countenance and lifts my head,
to the God who speaks and light appears,
to the God who walks and mountains tremble,
to the God who walks out of tombs and opens graves that were seemingly shut,
to the God who touches eyes so they can see,
to the God who tells lame men that they can walk again,
to the God who sets captives free,
to the God who makes accusers drop their stones,
to the God who was, is and always will be,
to the God who created an unshakeable kingdom,
to the God who takes the orphan in an embrace,
to the God who formed me in the womb,
to the God who rescued me from myself,
to the God who makes new beginnings,
to the God who has never let me go,
to the God who passionately pursued me ever since the Garden,
to the God who lives within me this day,
To you, O God, I say Good Morning.

peace unto your day,

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

In the words of the infamous 70's music sensation, Geroge Clinton: "WE WANT THE FUNK, GOTTA HAVE THAT FUNK!"

I've been feeling funky, but not in the hip/groovy kind of way, in the "why is my head in a haze?" kind of way. I suppose its the reason for my lack of blogging, I just having been feeling very introspective. I really feel like I could benefit from a retreat day, a day to get alone and just think/pray/read/get my inner house in order. But that day doesn't seem to be on the horizon. The weekend is packed (w/good stuff) and I can't afford to take a day off work right now. I'm not feeling empty or dry, I'm quite content and learning new stuff all the time, just feeling funky. I go into stints where my mind and heart want to contemplate deeply about issues either within me or I see around me in the world, and if I can't take the time to process it, I just have troubles functioning in the real world.

I guess here are some questions on my mind:
1) The reality of Kingdom come is all around us, but why do we still worship idols?
2) Does God still work miracles? And if so, why do I not believe it all the time?
3) Do our busy schedules and busy lives make God sad?
4) When was the last time I made room in my heart to care about starving children who have already died today somewhere on this earth?
5) How many widows (single moms) and orphans have I passed by this week that were in need?
6) God is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. Who am I that he should care?
7) Am I more American than I am Christian?
8) Is abortion the only pro-life issue Christ followers should care about?
9) Will I ever improve on the things that I am not good at?
10) Why does my heart feel sad?


Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Rodney Dangerfield, dead at age 82

One of the all-time great movie comedians from the 80's has left us. He did a few Classic films, and a few that never should have been watched, ever.

Here are my top 3 Rodney films:

3) Easy Money
2) Back to School - best line is, "When I die, you can donate my body to science fiction."
1) Caddyshack - one of the best comedies of ALL TIME!! Rodney was at his best in that classic. His dance moves in the clubhouse, his rhetoric on the golf course and his way with the Judge's wife. Way too funny. Must watch again in memory of Rodney.

He also had a big stand-up act with his famous mantra, "I get no respect".
"When I was born, I was so ugly that the doctor slapped my mother."

Thanks for the laughs, Rodney. You have my respect. RIP.


Monday, October 04, 2004

"why throw rocks in the general direction of some nebulous, evil machine. The rocks might hit people you love and who love you."
I wanted to respond to Barry's comments out here because I think its a really good critique. First off, let me own the stuff I need to. Barry, if you took any of the things I said as a statement towards you or your ministry then let me apologize because that is not who you are. I have nothing but respect for the blood, sweat and tears that you have poured into the Vineyard over the years. You, in your own right, have made many courageous and risky decisions in the name of mission and reaching people. I have watched you set aside your own preferences for the opportunity to be more missional towards people. I admire your compassion, creativity, work ethic and gift in teaching. I apologize if the things I said offended you, it was not my intent.

I agree with Barry as I go back and read my comments that i was painting with a broad brush and not being specific. i was trying to speak towards one situation but in reality it probably hit an old wound in me. At the age of 26, I found myself totally burned out, and chewed up in the seeker style of church growth. There are others like me, and there are others who are completely energized and motivated. The 'evil" is not model or strategy, its system. When a system takes the place of a living body of Christ, then many unhealthy things occur. This applies the same to house churching/simple church/missional communities. When we're more loyal to pushing "systems" over people, we probably cease acting as the Body. This is what I wanted to communicate. Its too easy to speak in black and white opinions in this blogworld. So thanks to Barry for reminding me that readers have faces.

So I want to re-state some fundamental values that I hold. 1) I am pro-Kingdom. (i.e. phil. 1) If Christ is preached then we are to rejoice. I am for anyone who is seeking to announce that the Kingdom has come and the key to experiencing it is through Jesus Christ. 2) I am for doers. I am not for complainers, whiners, deconstructionists or those who are happy seeing their angst as an end. If our discontent does not lead us to create, then I wonder if we're talking about the same God. God is the God of creation, he creates, its who he is. Yes, he tears down in the story of Scripture, but only to build up again. I am passionate about networking with doers who are daily taking the battle to the enemy. I don't ever want to be a stumbling block to those who are doers. 3) I love the Church. I love her. Sometimes too much. I am very passionate about her influence on earth. I have given up every area of my life to serve the Church. I love the Church above ground and I love the Church underground. I am driven by the dream of the Church as salt and light on every corner of this earth. When I critique the church, I do it like a football coach who so badly wants to see the team achieve its goal and is not afraid to "not be liked" for a while as long as the players know they are loved. Kingdom is the big idea. Becoming the people of God and announcing his Kingdom on earth is what we're about. We may prefer some strategies over others according to our values and giftings and as long as we are motivated through the One Spirit and not in systems of the flesh, we are in the same battle.

peace to you and your house tonight,

Friday, October 01, 2004

Great dinner with K-rains last night just catching up with one another's lives over some Irish Fish 'n chips, always a great way to end the day. Nicki and I will be hanging out with Bill and Mollie Bean tonight here in Cincy, really looking forward to that time.

Paul McGillivary's blog yesterday struck me as sad and also very telling. Another Pastor who has crumbled under the pressure of performing for Church Inc. I don't want to rant here or anything, I just wanted to say: Is this why Moses parted the Red Sea and Christ endured the cross, so that our leaders could burn out under the tyranny of programs and performance driven church models?

Dallas Willard in the Prelude to Renovation of the Heart puts it this way:
"For our Christian groups and their leaders, it means that there is a simple, straightforward way in which congregations of Jesus' people can, without exception, fulfill his call to be an ecclesia, his 'called out' ones: a touch point between heaven and earth, where the healing of the Cross and the Resurrection can save the lost and grow the saved into the fullness of human beings in Christ. No special facilities, programs, talents, or techniques are required. It doesn't even require a budget. Just faitfulness to the process of spiritual formation in Christlikeness exposed in the Scriptures and in the lives of his 'peculiar people' through the ages."
-This is the kind of activity I want to put my energy into. I want to do this pastor gig for a long, long time.

peace of Christ unto your weekend,