Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Road to Recovery

Yesterday's services went as we had prayed they would be. Filled with hope, love and life. The sanctuary was packed, our family is so thankful for all the support we have received. We came home after the reception last night and just absolutely crashed w/ exhaustion. We've been passing around all kinds of sicknesses, but mostly ignoring them these past few days for grieving. Now they are here in full force. Nicki is drained w/ an illness, Zach and i are still recovering and the girls seem to beginning their own. Today is just about rest.

It will be a long road of emotional recovery, but we are committed to Rob and Becky for life. I am Sydney's god-father and Nicki is Paige's god-mother, roles we take very seriously. Let alone our family connection and that we are in a covenant faith community with them. In fact, Nicki and I have had our final resting places purchased during all this drama which means what we have said with our words will ultimately be true, "that we want to spend the rest of our lives in Cincinnati and be a part of God's Kingdom coming to earth". That is our specific calling. Its a bigger idea than being in ministry, planting any one church, teaching in any particular place etc. We are here to do God's will on earth, whatever that looks like, specifically in the context of Cincinnati.

Pray for rest for our whole family, its been a very rough and sleepless past few days. The future days of recovery may involve some anger before acceptance comes, pray for this as well.


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Hope and Life is our Rebellion

I'm preparing for Kate's funeral later on this morning. Its 3:45 a.m. now and I think I've slept all I can. Zach has had a fever for 2-3 days and is up w/ me. The Dr. office has been closed because of the holidays and obviously we don't have time to take him today. And in the circumstances, it makes us feel pretty uneasy having him sick for a long period of time. The coroner report is that Kate died of a sudden onset of infant pneumonia.

Last night, Ordinary Community Church had a gathering for and with Rob and Becky and it was so right. We shared hearts, we grieved, we cried, we prayed, we prophesied, we loved and we encouraged one another. God showed up in a very powerful way. We talked of the big picture of the Kingdom of God. We talked of being warriors who call back the darkness. We talked of being a people of the Resurrection with whom life and hope is our rebellion in a world of fear and death. We talked of the brokeness of our world and longed for the day when everything will be made right again. We lauged in the midst of grief. Love filled the room. I walked away feeling like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. I feel hopeful and ready to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ today. I'm in a completely different mindset because we experienced Immanuel . . . God with us. And quite frankly, that's all we need.

Everyday we are in a war to fight against the forces of darkness that stand opposed to God's Creation and His purposes in this world. The question is, will we show up in it? Once again, I learned that the community of faith that I belong to was and is ready to suit up and bring the fight to the enemy. About five years ago, we planted this community with that dream in our hearts. We are reaping the fruits of a labor sown in love.

Call back the darkness in your community today. Live with the reality of the Kingdom that hope and life is our rebellion.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas is rough

As the shock is wearing off, the grief is increasing. Having to wait until Tuesday to get some closure is kind of difficult. Atleast for me, my feelings are getting more raw. The loss just hurts. There is no sense in it and frankly, I'm tired of hearing people trying to find logic in it. For me, it doesn't help, doesn't make anything feel any better. We have to deal with the fact that our world is broken, it doesn't work right. We have no real control. All sense of control is illusionary.

I'm still congested from my illness last week which is messing w/ my head constantly. I feel fatigued and exhausted. I can't imagine how Becky and Rob feel. I'm hoping for strength and wisdom for Tuesday's funeral.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Day of Tragedy

I received a phone call this morning from my sister-in-law, Becky, and found out that our niece, Kate, had stopped breathing in her sleep last night and they found her blue this morning. CPR and a 911 call didn't save her. She passed in her sleep at the age of 19 months. There is no known cause. She had a cold recently, but nothing serious. There seems to be no ryhme or reason. My wife was Kate's god-mother. Rob and Becky's kids are like surrogate kids to us, spending half their time in our home and we love them as our own. This is really hard to understand.

I spent my day doing the best I could to be the Spirit of God to Rob and Becky. I walked with them through having to talk about funeral arrangements, picking caskets, choosing cemetary lots and putting together a funeral service. My Father-in-law decided to purchase lots for all 3 of his kids' families, 20 in all together. So today I stood on the place on earth where they will bury me with my wife and children as well, that's quite an eery feeling.

When we planted Ordinary Community Church 4 1/2 years ago, we never wanted to bury one of our children. Its not right, its not the Kingdom of God. Its not the way its supposed to be, everything about it is wrong. I reject death, I oppose it, I hate its stench. I hate the look of pain I saw in the eyes of Rob and Becky today. I so wish there was something I could do to take their pain away. Somehow, God remains patient to let us mourn. I am so weary of crying and the general feeling of sorrow. There was nothing to prepare us, no illness, no accident, nothing. The suddeness is overwhelming.

The funeral will not be until Tuesday because of the holidays. So as best we can, we will celebrate the birthday of Jesus, without first having closure on the passing of baby-Kate. It will not be an ordinary Christmas. Lord, teach us to grieve well.

I will try and lead the funeral on Tuesday. Our theme is not of despair but of hope. We don't know the answers, but we rejoice in life. You see, life is our revolution, we are the People of the Resurrection. Hope and Joy are ours in Christ so we are claiming them. Friends, if you think of it, pray for Rob and Becky, we need a Kingdom Community.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Prediction: Bengals 31 Lions 3

The Bengals play at Detroit on Sunday and this will be one of those times where the Tigers show the lions who the real King is. We're going up there just to toy with them. With a win this Sunday, the Bengals clinch the AFC North division title and guarantee a home playoff game. This will be the 1st of 2 trips to Detroit this year for the Bengals. They will be there in early February to win the Super Bowl as well :)

Did anyone else notice the Linz family from here in the Nati won the Amazing Race? They showed their Bengals colors throughout the race and gave shouts of "Who Dey" as they were victorious. I thin their victory was a sign of things to come for the Bengals.

Its time for another Who Dey weekend.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Its a Wonderful Life

Ok, I'm gonna geek myself out here a little bit. I am a HUGE "Its a Wonderful Life" fan, like HUGE. I haven't watched it yet this year, I'm saving it for just the right time. I need some warm coffee in my hand, my wife and kids nearby, the house lights turned off, candles and christmas lights only. I love the human story, I love watching a man of integrity serve his heart out on behalf of the good of his community, and when he needs it most, he gets blessed beyond measure.

Well, I would like to testify as well to my own "Its a Wonderful Life" moment. Last week I was wrestling with all kinds of controversy of perceptions around me, my teaching, my ministry, my personhood, my intentions etc. It was personally a bit difficult. It is presently being processed in a much healthier manner. But, I have to testify to the personal support of the many who took the time to express their love and gratitude towards me. You see, my love language is "spoken words" and I was completely overwhelmed. Words can't say what you all meant to me, but here's my list of thanks you's:

1) Ordinary Community Church - you set aside our community agenda and made me the agenda. As you layed hands on me, the peace of God dispelled fear. You are the people that I belong to, a true Church.

2) CCS students - my surprise birthday party complete w/ a Bengals cake, a pile of over 40 heartfelt letters on my desk communicating the impact of my life on yours . . . unspeakable joy they mean to me. I'm not sure it was the letters or the means by which they were given, students randomly walking in all day and dropping them on my desk without a word said, so rock star like :) And of course my white board being filled every inch with well wishes and love.

3) Network friends - Klinefelter, Doc, Palmer, Bean, Creech, Canipe etc. etc. My brothers always have my back, I live daily with friendships that I would lay down my life for.

4) Landing Place Kids - your emails carried so much weight, filled with meaning and hope. I'm hoping to get up to C-bus over the Christmas break and see the Palmers and send my greetings to LP.

5) Blog readers - I know you prayed, I know you care. People ask me, "Why would anybody blog?" Well, I guess its because I'm addicted to authentic friendships and community.

6) My wife - you reminded me of the reason that I fight, you put my sword back in my hand and told me to get back on the battlefield. You vowed that you would always believe in me, and well, once again you proved that you do.

The angel Clarence wrote to George Bailey: "No man is a failure who has friends". I'm living a wonderful life.

Take the time to invest in real relationships today,

Monday, December 12, 2005

Getting over a case of Vertigo

Some friends, the wife and I went to Cleveland to see the 4 lads from Ireland known as "U2". And . . . it was an amazing show. Man, there are few experiences I have in life where I just feel comfortable in my own skin, but I think I was designed to enjoy U2 live. There is just so much to it that I appreciate . . . their ethic as a band, their meaningful teachings, their connection to their audience and of course their passion, night in and night out. Truly a great show.

I am as well a bit overwhelmed with something my Father-in-law celebrates called "early Christmas". It usually is some simple, practical gifts from a drugstore given in early December. I have received toothbrushes, jumper cables, power stips, ice scrapers etc. etc. Well, this year he gifted us with generosity that completely overwhelmed me to tears. It will help to relieve stresses that I've been carrying for quite some time. I am a receiver of blessing so I need to go and bless those in my world today.

Stop and notice the Kingdom around you today,

Friday, December 09, 2005

Snow Day!!

Couldn't be better timing, a 3 day weekend for my birthday. Yee haw.

Gonna spend our day going to see Narnia at noon w/ the family. We've been reading the books at bedtime for a couple months. Right now my daughters are out back looking for Aslan's footprints in the snow. After the movie it will be time to do some sledding then the obligatory hot chocolate.

My birtday gift from my wife this year is an overnight trip to Cleveland on Saturday for a nice dinner and then the U2 concert. Needless to say, i'm pretty stoked about that. This will be my 2nd U2 concert, last went in 2003 in Philly. Bono fascinates me, I admit I'm in love. In a platonic, respect your views kind of way :) His theology, his compassion for the world, his passion for life, his genuine character, his artistic craft, his politics etc. etc. I've been hooked for quite some time.

And . . . this will be a serous date night with my wife, who is the real love of my life. This is the best gift I could receive, alone time with my beloved. This has been a very trying week for us, its not the first one in our 12 1/2 years of marriage, but a trying one nonetheless. Her pep talks this week brought a lot of things into perspective, she most assuredly completes me. Our lives exist together as a stumbling block to the enemy's work. We are comitted to God's purposes on earth, His Kingdom has come. If anyone questions that, they just need to get to know us.

Have a Kingdom Come kind of weekend. Peace,

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Matt. 18 continued

Its amazing that when Jesus says something, and we actually do it, we find that it works. Its almost as if he understands human relations and may have even had something to do with the wiring of our hearts. Jesus didn't ask us to believe in his teachings (give mental ascent to), he was teaching them so that we would actually follow them and thus find our Freedom as human beings.

I won't go into details, but the situation I'm dealing with will be ongoing for awhile. However, the pressure/emotion has been released because of Kingdom conversation with those involved. Its my 33rd birthday today and being relieved of this stress for now is gift enough.

Can't even put into words how much support and prayer I have gotten from people who live in community with me and are spiritual family to me. I'll share more of this later.


Matthew 18:15-20

"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

. . . my heart hurts.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Mark 14:32-35

They went to a place Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, 'Sit here while I pray.' He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 'My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to t he point of death.' he said to them. 'Stay here and keep watch.' Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 'Abba, Father,' he said, 'everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.'

peace to your and your house today,

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Poustinia: A walk in the desert

Poustinia is the Russian word for "desert". The Finan Reading of the Celtic Daily Prayer says this today:

"To go into poustinia means to listen to God. It means entering into kenosis - the emptying of oneself. This emptying of oneself, even as Christ emptied Himself for us, is really a climbing of this awesome mountain right to the very top where God abides in His warm silence. It also means to know 'how terrible it is to fall into the hands of the living God' . . . and yet how delightful, how joyful, and how attractive! So attractive, in fact, the soul cannot resist."

I am convinced more than ever that the American evangelical church has no idea what poustinia is and its role in the true and authentic rennovation of a follower's heart. Silence, solitude, quiet, desert . . . not terms I learned growing up in church. What I learned was program, do more, try harder, don't ask questions, don't think those thoughts . . . etc. The answer to our spiritual hungers and longings may not be in the dynamic and the extraordinary. The older I get, the more I realize that the power and beauty of the Kingdom of God is found in the ordinary and in the Now. In America, we "strive" for everything, including our next spiritual fix. The answer as I understand it, is not in striving, but in sitting, getting quiet and connecting with the stream of the Spirit that is all around me already. The spiritual connection to this Christmas season will not be found in the perfect execution of gift exchanging, but rather in the company of warm friends and in the quietness of a reflection of that night in Bethlehem.

Al Martin can give testimony to this, but I'll never forget the night I got lost in Bethlehem with 3 other friends. We went out wandering at about midnight during our study over in Palestine and Israel, about 7 years ago. It was real dark I remember, and we got lost wandering the streets of Bethlehem. The road we were on kept narrowing and each of us was getting a bit anxious about being lost in a foreign land, particularly an Arab one while the U.S. was presently bombing Iraq under President Clinton. That road eventually led us to Manger square by chance. It was about 1:00 a.m., the air was cool, the streets were black and off in the distance past the church of the Nativity the only lights we could see were flickers of fire in the fields. There were shepherds that night, around their fires, keeping watch over their flocks about a mile from the site of Christ's birth. We were absolutely stunned by the realization that this is what it looked like some 2000 years ago. The Incarnation of Jesus happened at this place and because of it, our lives will never be the same. We sat and reflected, mostly in awe. Our fears had turned to hope, joy and peace.

Go take a walk in the poustinia/desert today and connect with the reality of the Hope of a Kingdom Come.


Sunday, December 04, 2005

Reality: Bengals 38 Steelers 31

Ding dong the witch is dead. There is a changing of the guard in the AFC North, the past is the past, Marvin Lewis has orchestrated one of the greatest franchise turnarounds in sports history. 15 years of famine, now we are guaranteed our 1st winning season. If we play our cards right, and I think we will, we will win the AFC north division, be the #2 or #3 seed in the AFC and host a playoff game here in the Nati. What's better, I will have a ticket to that game when its played. I was at the last home playoff game in Cincinnati in 1988, so its only appropriate I attend the next one.

Now let's celebrate for the night and move on. Starting monday, its Cleveland week and that's always personal.

oh yeah, and now I don't owe Canipe any coffee. However neither of us is disappointed as this coming Saturday night we'll both be seeing U2 in Cleveland. And well, it doesn't get much better than that.


Friday, December 02, 2005

Prediction: Bengals 24 Steelers 17

If the Bengals defense put 9 in the box to stop the run and cover the TE, we win by a touchdown and will be marching to a home playoff game in the Nati. Its a big, big game. Arguably the biggest game for the Bengals in 15 years. With only more big games to come. Let's get this party started.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Open Letter for CCS Parents

It has come to my understanding/attention that some things I have written here on my blog has caused concern enough to go to my superiors here at school and also to local pastors who don't know me. All I want to say is that if you have concerns, you can come to me. I am a person, I have a 4 year history with CCS, I have 15 years of history in student ministry, I have 16 years of history following Jesus, I am a father of 3 and a husband to 1. I am a person you can come to and talk with. I am not above criticism and I've even been accused of being a decent listener in the past.

I recognize that I have a lot of influence over students and its a position I take very seriously. I also recognize that I can be a bit intense for some and that my passions can be misperceived. To be perceived of as someone who is more a part of the problem, rather than the cure here at CCS is a perception that I grieve. I don't know if the perception is a reality or not, but I'll never know if we don't talk to one another.

If I am anything but an agent of the Kingdom of God to CCS students and staff, I would wish that I be confronted personally by those concerned. I pray that I would do the same.

peace in Christ,

Deep shadows to Radiant Light

"2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. For those who lived in a land of deep shadows - light! sunbursts of light! 3 You repopulated the nation, you expanded its joy. Oh, they're so glad in your presence! Festival joy! The joy of a great celebration, sharing rich gifts and warm greetings. 4 The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants - all their whips and cudgels and curses - Is gone, done away with, a deliverance as surprising and sudden as Gideon's old victory over Midian. 5 The boots of all those invading troops, along with their shirts soaked with innocent blood, Will be piled in a heap and burned, a fire that will burn for days! 6 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. 7 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. God Answered Fire with Fire." - excerpt from Isaiah 9 (The Message)

This was our passage at house church on tuesday evening and I'm stil chewing on it. My more recent tradition has been to get my Christmas shopping done early so as to focus the rest of my Advent season on enjoying relationships, sharing joy and basking in the drama of the wait for the King to come in the middle of the night and completely take over.

Jesus changed everything. His presence on earth made right what was unright. The baby wrapped in swaddling clothes was a maker of justice. He brought a Kingdom to earth that has no end. Friends, it has no end!!!!!!!! There are no limits to the wholeness that He brings. We lived without hope, now we are a people filled with expectant hope.

The beauty of that night is overwhelming to me. I can smell the shepherds fire flickering into the cool of the night. I can hear the crackling of the dry wood. I can feel the quietness of their routine until all was disturbed with the angelic proclamation. How amazingly cool would it have been to be the ones to whom got the news first that THE child has been born for us and that now everything will change??????? Man, I would have loved to be there.

My reality is that the Kingdom has come in that little baby, and that His Kingdom is still coming. His Kingdom will come today because it lives in me and I seek to give it away to all who have ears to hear. We are a part of the Story, and the Story lives in us.

peace of Christ unto your day,

Monday, November 28, 2005

Who Dey Holiday weekend

Doc and I did some pre-game tailgating and then onto the Bengals game where they got their 8th victory of the season. Tonight, I'm a big Colts fan so as to get a game up on those Pittsburgh squealers. Next week is the game we have to have. My hope is that we find a way to stop the run (which we haven't all year) and that Pitt. has a short week to get ready for us. Nonetheless, it should be a better game than the last meeting and it has major implications for the off-season. Canipe, how bout double or nothing on that coffee?? :)

Had my best 10k run on Thanksgiving morning in downtown Cincy. I ran 10 min. miles which is the fastest I've ever run a 10k, felt very satisfying. Now its on to about 3 months of winter training til the next 10k in mid-March. I will be training this winter to run the 1/2 marathon at the Flying Pig in Cincy again in May. I'm too much of an extrovert to be a very good monk, running helps my aspirations to do better monking. It combines long times of prayer and reflection with my competitive nature. It also excuses me to do some serious holiday eating ;)

On a separate note, my Dad called me on Wednesday just to check in before the holidays. That is a BIG deal, I cannot recall any other time that my Dad has actually called me. Our relationship is distant but warm, mostly I've had little expectations which keeps me from being disappointed. But it really meant a lot to me that he called. This may not mean a lot to many of you out thre, but its quite a huge deal to me. I have longed my whole life to have an actual relationship with my earthly father, so when I get glimpses, even for a few minutes, I stop and cherish it.

SHC (student house church) continued on Sunday evening with a bit of discussion on community and denying our selfish natures in order to really experience the freedom that Christ brings. We got our leading from Galatians 5 and some thoughts from Bonhoeffer's "Life Together". Community is precious and deeply meaningful for those who give themselves to it.

Advent is upon us, I love this time of year. The drama of waiting for the Messiah to be born. The Incarnation of Jesus saved my life, I never tire of celebrating that.

Stop and notice the Kingdom amongst you today,

Sunday, November 20, 2005

A Weekend of Fullness

I am so tired, it was an amazing weekend. Here are some highlights:

1) Being with Keck when he tried Skyline Chili for the 1st time on a late Thursday night run.
2) Picking up Bishop and his son Jackson from the airport, watching the reality of our coldness hit their southern Florida skin.
3) Lunch at Andy's Mediterranean is always a good time and great chicken
4) Receiving unbelieveable generosity from my brother-in-law Rob in providing dinner for Friday for all of us
5) Seeing Keck and Rains with their faces scorched black as they torched art into industrial drums turning them into the coolest fire barrels in history
6) Friday's party was off the charts, 85% of my favortie people in the world at one place. So much laughter, so much great conversation, so much love. My head didn't hit the pillow until 3:30 a.m., that party could have lasted for a week.
7) Worship and Eucharist as a community on Saturday was oozing with authenticity and spiritual maturity.
8) Praying for Palmer was powerful, emotional, Spirit-driven and filled with life and hope. The manifestations of the Spirit were desperate, in all the right senses of the word. It is joy and not despair that is writing this story.
9) Craig Spink's U.S. wedding reception at the Underground on Saturday was maybe the coolest wedding celebration I've ever experienced.
10) Sharing body art with 3 of my closest bros is unspeakably meaningful to me. We have reminders that we're never alone.
11) Fish and chips with Joe and Julie Long was an unexpected treat. I wished I lived closer and saw more of them.
12) Ohio State beat Michigan!!!!
13) The Bengals never stopped the Colts offense and thus showed we are a playoff team, but not a "great" team yet.
14) Putting up our Christmas lights and beating the rest of the neighborhood to the punch. ha ha ha ha
15) The beginning of a student house church around a fire, under the stars and with some open honesty. We'll see what kind of story God wants to write.

Its Thanksgiving, a short work week and another 10K race. Gotta catch up on some sleep.

I am extremely thankful for all these blessings and love living in the ways of the Kingdom of God.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Party in the Nati

This weekend starts on Thursday and rolls through Sunday. Great friends, Great community, Great conversation, Great encouragement, Great worship, Great prayer, Great food, great, great, great. I'm really stoked.

So we will gather to pray for Palmer's body, that God would cleanse him of the cancer and bring complete healing to his body. The reason we ask is because God can and our prayer is that He will.

We don't fear death and we don't fear disappointment. Contentment has been our friend in all circumstances. We are people of hope, we are people of resurrection, we are people of the Story of God, we are His people.

There will be war when we pray for Palmer, and its one that we enter willingly. Our weapons are faith, truth, love and hope. We listen to the One who authors life and speaks Creation, and out of our listening we prophesy life over dead bones. We come expectant as the People of God, we don't know of another Story.

I have few words left to say, I want to see God's hand move.

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on us.

blessings on your weekend,

Monday, November 14, 2005

the deconstruction of fear

How much of our daily lives and choices are ruled by fear?
How much of what we try and accomplish is directed through fear?
How much of our planning and illusion of control is really just the fear of failure?
How much of our anxiety and stress is the bondage of fear?
How much of our sleeplessness is due to fear?
How much of our lack of progress in life is stunted by fear?
How much of our theology is rooted in fear?
How much is our lack of intimacy the result of fear?
How much of our unfulfilled dreams are the captive of fear?
How much of our unanswered prayers are because of fear?
Can fear and faith co-exist?
Is there a positive category for fear?
How much of fear is a flaming arrow of the enemy?
How much of me is still influenced by fear?
Wasn't it fear that kept the disciples huddled in the upper room on Easter morning?
Wasn't it the lack of fear that caused Mary to get up while it was still dark and cold that Easter morning?
Can fear be the fuel of Kingdom hope? (this is what Im presently experiencing)
There is a fear of God that is Holy Other, that is the fear that is fueling me and I'm open to His movement.

If your having the crippling kind of fear from the enemy, meet it straight on, put your hands on its throat, and strangle the life out of the demon in the name of Christ.
If your having the kind of fear of God that comes through consecration before Him, receive His Spirit and walk ahead with Hope.

In the name of Jesus, bring complete healing to Palmer's body.


weekend report

Sunday morning I got up and ran the Ribs Run for the Marvin Lewis foundation in downtown Cincy. My niece, Gabby, ran the 5k and came in 7th in the women's division (pretty good considering she's 14). My nephew, Cory, ran in the 10K with me and he got 14th overall (he's 15). I beat my previous 10k time which was cool, but I saw this as another training run for the big 10k which is thanksgiving morning at the Bengals stadium. Running continues to be an escape for me, energy for my lifestyle and time to pray and reflect.

We had our annual OCC thanksgiving meal and worship time on Sunday afternoon and it was as always . . . REALLY good food and lots of it. Afterwards, we spent some time in worship, reflection and prayer. It was a bit hard to focus when the the turkey hangover was tempting us all towards a holy nap. With the Bengals on a bye week, it was a pretty peaceful Sunday.

This weekend is gonna be huge. Thursday night art show for the re-opening of St. Elizabeth's in Norwood, arguably my favorite church structure in the universe. Some of my favorite peeps are coming in this weekend for conversation, kingdom community and lots of love. Kecks from Vermont, Henderson from Seattle, Bishop from Florida, maybe Hale from St. Louis. Then the usual suspects from the midwest posse, Rains, Creechs, Bean, Palmers, Johnsons, Longs, Allis, VC crew, Klinefelters etc. etc. Its a plethora of great minds and hearts involved in the emerging/simple church world. Saturday morning we will worship, pray and encourage one another. Saturday afternoon is the U.S. wedding reception for Spinks who got married in Brazil last month. Then there is an after-party for him at an Irish establishment in Covington on Saturday evening. I sold my Bengals ticket for this coming Sunday so I could free up some time for a new ministry I'm beginning. Ministry before Bengals I suppose. But make no mistake about it, I will be watching the game as we give the Colts their 1st loss (sorry Bean) :)

If any are interested, I will be fasting on Thursday and Friday in preparation for a time this weekend to lay hands on Palmer and ask God for a complete healing of his body. If you would like to join me in this fast do so in your own way and pray intentionally for Palmer this weekend. We will never give up the fight.

Stop and notice the Kingdom amongst you today,

Thursday, November 10, 2005


In my previous post, I spoke of war and rebellion. Let me clarify that I don't mean that in a political or physically violent way, but as a spiritual metaphor. If that language is too intense for some, just be assured I'm a pretty peace-loving kind of guy. But until we see w/ spiritual eyes and understand the war we are in, we will only be building man-made kingdoms. As for the CCS community, I will be an advocate for peace and authentic Christ following, I have no other agenda. The students are my concern and nothing else. If any of you have questions or concerns of my intentions, please come and we can talk it over.

I spent 5 days in Memphis, TN with 150 high school students for their missions trip. I haven't gone on one of these trips in 4 years for numerous reasons, but for this year I sensed God asking me to attend. I perceived through the Spirit that I would have the opportunity to come alongside students and do some prophetic prayer and helping them be released from strongholds and spiritual bondage. And well, that happened. Next on my agenda is to begin a student house church out of my home and invite students who have no faith community to come and be a part. I pray that a community of authenticity will be birthed and that students will build hope that Christ following is possible without programs and buildings.

I am both in a state of encouragement and concern today, its an interesting paradox.

Today, Jesus asks us to be an offering. I think I'm game for that.


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

feeling hopeful

Yesterday morning, my wife and I met with our public school resource for trying to get Zach help in his speech and social development. We met with the school asst. principal, pre-school teacher, speech therapist, school psychologist and occupational therapist. They have all done observations of Zach either in our home or at their school and gave us their reports and recomendations. I was pretty amazed at their level of personal attention, the 1st time in this process that we felt that. We walked away feeling like this was a team effort between them as educators and us as parents. Everybody in the room had concern for Zach and were committed to unlocking his intelligence. As an educator myself, I much prefer the paradigm of personal education to the sterile/impersonal medical field.

Zach qualified for special ed. IEP pre-school which means we don't pay anything. He will begin most likely on Monday, 4 days a week starting at one hour a day and working his way up to 2 1/2 hours per day. They will be personally helping him develop his speech and communication skills, as well as his ability to be in groups and submitt to adult imposed structures. The structure will be VERY new for him and will undoubtedly cause him some stress. But given the fact that we have time and now resources, we feel very hopeful.

If your the praying type, pray for Zach's transition to this structured enviorment. Pray that as he learns to communicate better, the world will be less limited to him and thus less stressful. That he gains confidence with new skills and that confidence unlocks the intelligence that is within him. We're looking long-term and believe in God's story for Zach.

You see, I spent over 20 years of my life with little to no relationship with my earthly father. Even now, it consists of about 2-3 phone calls a year. Growing up, there were multitudes of nights where I cried myself to sleep and would talk out loud to a God that I wasn't even sure existed. I would say that if I ever had a son someday, I would make things different. Being a father is very personal to me, its a cherished role. One of my life goals was to experience a father-son relationship first-hand. Growing up, I coveted my friend's relationships who had Dad at home. I threw myself (anger and all) into sports and found my whole identity there. But no matter how many home runs I hit, points I scored, or tackles I made, the game would end and I would go home alone. Nobody there to see me play, nobody to enjoy it with and I lost interest. At 18, I transferred that ambition to ministry success. While I hope it was helpful to the Kingdom, I found myself at 26 empty and feeling alone as well. That's when I had my ABBA experience, a resting in the arms of my heavenly Daddy.

Now I can rest in the fact that I have 3 amazing children, a community of faith that I journey with that has loved me over and over and a ministry to a multitude of other lost sheep that need the same direction/attention I needed in that awkward time known as the teenage years.

I don't understand of a life outside of the hope of a Kingdom come. God is good.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Can you keep a secret?

Ok, its not a secret. November 17, 18 and most likely 19th, maybe even some 20th, a Midwest party is forming. Emerging church folk, simple church folk, house church folk, missional community folk, cool folk, semi-cool folk, partially pretty-cool folk etc. will be hanging out at Vineyard Central for the re-opening of St. Elizabeths (art party) on the 17th, then on the 18th it seems we're gonna do a common meal together and party into the night. There will be Kingdom conversations and topics being tossed around and knitted into souls within the framework of true community. I guarantee that there will be many like-minded Kingdom people there sharing hearts and minds over the elements. As folk come together, I imagine there will be opportunity for spill over parties on the 19th and 20th. Some is planned, some is spontaneous . . . all is of the Spirit.

For any out of towners that would consider making the pilgrimmage, feel free to contact me for free housing. I can arrange to have you stay at some saint's house and receive some Nati hospitality. As well, contact Rains at Vineyard Central.

It is good when Gods people come together. So many of us have chosen to do church in micro-communities, once in awhile its good to be in a corporate setting.

Oh yeah, Palmer is coming. We're going to ask God to move his hand and bring complete healing to his body. And when God moves, we're gonna sing new songs.

p.s. Your invited.


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Jesus could not do miralces

Mark 6:5-6, "He could not do any miracles there, except lay hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith." This is Jesus in the hood he grew up in, Nazareth. Jesus could not do miracles . . . errrr . . . what? Are there laws governing the miraculous that are unseen and at times unattainable to even Jesus? Are they not even laws, but part of God's wonder and mystery that can't be measured with laws? How was Jesus limited? Why was Jesus limited? What does this mean to my theology of healing? All questions I'm thinking about.

Last Thursday, Kevin Rains and I sat on his new "courtyard" deck (extreme sweetness i might add) and pondered many questions, but one being this ongoing battle for Palmer's healing. We analyzed and reflected and concluded that what we know is that its a fight, a spiritual battle and one that we are all too happy to keep showing up in. We are not tired, we don't fret. We're hopeful, we're expectant, we're vigilant, we're showing up in the fight in our own way both personally and corporately.

Went camping this weekend with Paul McGillivary and Glenn Johnson. Around the fire on Saturday night, we pondered more theologies of healing and God's sovereignty. We reflected and prayed within our hearts for Palmer. Then our conversation turned to the star ridden sky above us and we reflected on the infinite # of galaxies out there, on the existence of black holes and parallel universes, on string theory and the heavenly realm. All of this made me conceive of the vastness of Creator God and the perspective of my life here on earth. God is writing a REALLY big story, and it is so far beyond us. Prayer ought not be demands coming from our little worlds, but said in humility before the God of Creation and His throne where all reality streams from.

So, go and worship the God of wonder, vastness and mystery. Stand in holy perspective before Him. And if he calls you into a battle, go without fear. Grab your sword and go where the Enemy sleeps in the night unleashing Hell on his doorstep. We belong to an unshakeable Kingdom, let's live like it.


Sunday, October 23, 2005

Ouch, that hurt

Steelers 27 Bengals 13

They really beat us up pretty badly on our home field. We played very young and very inexperienced. The run defense is continually an area of concern. We're still in 1st place, but its obvious that we still have a lot of growing up to do. We are more talented than most, but aren't executing on the field. Did I mention that this loss hurt???

And worst part is that I have to buy Steelers-fan Canipe some Starbucks Jo now. I eat crow and he drinks coffee. Make it a venti coffee for Chad, I'll be the one eating humble pie . . . this time :) I feel bad for you Packer-backers coming into the the Jungle this week, we'll be looking to get back on track at your expense.

Who Dey!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Marriage as Rebellion

Tomorrow night I am marrying 2 good friends who have been participating in our house church for the past year. Last night was the rehearsal and I could sense the Holy Spirit in all of it. Nicki and I have walked with them through some pretty difficult times in their pre-marital counseling. They are the only Christ followers in their families, and both sets of parents have divorced during their engagement. How's that for wedding preparations?

But for these 2, they have chosen a different path. They have chosen the ways of Christ and the reality of His Kingdom on earth. So they talk about everything with brutal honesty, they forgive, they serve. They receive love from Christ and thus understand how to love one another. They live within the context of close Christian community and thus have support, love and accountability from others. This world sees marriage as a contract, we see it as an act of rebellion against our selfish nature and thus living and learnig what true union looks like. Its a spiritual union of souls to God and then to one another. I get so geeked about that, the ceremony and then the subsequent days of marriage are a way of sticking it to the enemy and our sinful nature. Marriage is an act of rebellion and its been one of the most redeeming experiences of my life. Outside of Jesus' Cross, it has been my savior. I get a few minutes in the middle of the ceremony to proclaim Kingdom, I"m looking forward to that.

I'm also looking to a fun reception and a date night with my wife. She got a new outfit for the occasion, and well, she just looks pretty hot! As I read the vows in the ceremony, in my heart, I am renewing my vows to Nicki. I couldn't be more happy to be 12 years into marriage and completely in love.

Love is the Jesus rebellion, learn it and live it at high volumes.


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Enter the Mystery

"Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God, turn your backs on the world's 'sure thing', ignore what the world worships; The world's a huge stockpile of God-wonders and God-thoughts, Nothing and no one comes close to you! I start talking about you, telling you what I know, and quickly run out of words. Neither numbers nor words account for you."

"More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to God."

"That's when God's Word entered my life, became part of my very being."

(Psalm 40 The Message)

Entering into the mystery of God is such a bigger idea than getting saved. When we reduce the Gospel to being only about going to heaven or hell, we suck the mystery and power and wonder out of our life in Christ. What I know is that river of God is not in heaven only, but also on earth. If I get quiet, practice solitude and begin to seek Him, I can hear its waters. Jesus came with the keys to the Kingdom and in some mysterious way, He was/is the Kingdom. Taking the time to commune with Him is about taking off your shoes and stepping into that river, the stream of his unadulterated Spirit. When you do, life comes into perspective. You begin to have God-thoughts. You begin to feel the things that are on the heart of the Father. I don't know about you, but I often see visions. Visions of the mystery, visions of God's desire and intent, visions of His missing children, visions of a battlefied, visions of the plans of the enemy, visions of answered prayer. Its a mystical place that I can't describe in scientific terms, nor do I care to. For me its my center, its home. Its the place where God becomes part of my very being. The notion of "getting saved" seems to be a pretty poor substitute for communing within the mystery of Christ. In the words of Eldrige, God is offering us a Sacred Romance. So then why do we settle for the prostitute? We trade the Holy for a whore. Friends, there's so much more if just take the time to remove our shoes and step into the river.

Stop and see the Kingdom around you today,

Monday, October 17, 2005

Its another Who Dey Monday!

In the midst of my soreness, let me just dwell on another Bengals win at the hands of the Tennessee Titans. The Bengals are now 5-1 and have possession of 1st place in the AFC North. But this is Steelers week. The Pittsburgh Squealers are coming into town on the Lord's Day this week and their many towel waving ya hoos. They have always played more physical than us and have given little to no respect to the rising of the Nati Bengals. Well, let the dead bury the dead. The rising takes another step this week.

""It's going to be a big week," said defensive lineman Bryan Robinson. The Steelers "have the mentality that we're nothing, and rightly so. We're just the Cincinnati Bengals. But I'm telling you, we've all decided enough is enough in here."



Saturday, October 15, 2005

We Ran for Palmer

It was really, really hard. I wasn't as well trained as I had been for my 1/2 marathon last May, but I did finish okay. Throughout the run, people came up to us and asked us about Palmer because we had signs pinned to our backs. It gave us a chance to tell his story and offer some prayers up for his peace and healing. My body is healing, but its going to be an uncomfortable couple of days.

I've got a lot on my mind that I hope to blog on this week. I'm sure you'll all be waiting in eager anticipation ;) Let me just take a moment and say thanks to all my loyal readers, you bring meaning to my life more than you know.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

We'r running for Palmer

Come Saturday morning, Bean and I will run 13.1 miles in Indy because we've prepared ourselves to do so. But its more than that, you see, we're running for Palmer and we'll wear signs that say so. At each mile marker, as we drink some water and as much as our minds don't turn to mush, we will offer up simple prayers for the complete healing of our brother. We're running for Palmer, our pain will be in perspective.

Some days its cool to see the students "get" it. I've been trying to lay a foundation this quarter for the need of spiritual disciplines in our lives to give God space to work. Instead of relying on events, emotional highs and guilt ridden sermons, I am trying to shed light on the monastic way. Prayer, solitude, meditation, Scripture reflection, wholistic spirituality. For their quarter project, I gave them the option of writing a paper or trying a basic fast of something sacrificial. Some are trying a food fast, some are challenged with a media fast, but they have the option of sacrificing anything they depend on. One of the girls asked today if she could fast the need to look in a mirror for 24-48 hours. I found this to be an incredibly mature and introspective idea. A teenage girl wanting to deal with her vanity and need to be noticed or physically relevant. She wants to put her Christ following before her vanity. Friends, that's just good stuff. I look forward to reading her reflection of that experience. Teenage girls deal so much with body image and self-hatred because of their looks and their body types. I would love to see a revolution of Kingdom minded females who know they are more than what they look like and anchor their value in the fact that Abba is in love with them. I want to see my female students set free to be themselves and love who they are. Sometimes students "get" it and it makes my day.

Its a privelege to announce the Kingdom to those who have ears to hear. The Kingdom of God is pervasive reality, love it and live in it. Jesus did.


Thursday, October 06, 2005

having troubles breathing

Got some news this morning that has taken my breath away a bit. My family is good and healthy, its nothing like that, its work related. But its a huge blow to my purposes here at CCS. I'm mostly speechless and a bit petrified for my future. Its been a bad couple of weeks in my vocational employment, it just got worse.

On the flip side, there is light around the corner and its in the form of a great community weekend. My best friend since college, Kevin Grand, is coming down from Michigan to spend the weekend. We always laugh our guts out together. My daughter, Megan, has her 7th birthday sleepover party on Friday night which should be entertaining. Then on Saturday is our OCC Harvest Fiesta w/ hayride, pumpkin patch, cider donuts, chili dinner, fire w/ smores, outdoor movie, worship, communion and camping out in my backyard. Much, much, much conversation and I'm coming into this pretty needy. Can't wait to be with my community.

Then Sunday night the Bengals are on Primetime, ESPN. Will be our toughest game yet. 5-0 is within our grasp.

For now, I'm gonna try and just concentrate on my breathing. My future presently looks like a walk by faith, it won't be the 1st time.


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

blue wednesday

Listening to a Coldplay song presently and the lyric goes "we live in a beautiful world", but sometimes I wonder. I still have this ongoing conflict and it continues to weigh me down. I have gone out of my way to talk in person, but they are continually made unavailable to me. Bascially, they don't want to deal with it, so I'm supposed to move on until something small happens in the future and it becomes bigger than its supposed to be. I'm not comfortable with this, but I'm getting really angry and having lots of guilt around it. Don't try to fix me, I'm processing, blogging, I'll be fine.

If you haven't gone there yet, read Palmer's blog today. The last paragraph is a teaching that pierced my soul. His life brings perspective to mine. I so wish my brother didn't have to suffer. We live in a beautiful world? sometimes i wonder.


Saturday, October 01, 2005

heartbreaking homecoming game

first, let me just say to the students and former students that responded to my previous post, thank you. your words meant more to me than you know. You are the sole reason I am at CCS and I want you to see and experience the true Kingdom of God. Sometimes my role is to stand against the tyranny of religious influences, and in those times, you have my back. Thank you.

Last night was an absolute blast. We lost our homecoming game by an extra point in overtime. That was heartbreaking. However, the guys played their guts out, i was soooo proud of them. To those senior football players who read this blog, I have nothing but love for you, you left your heart on the field. I am still a bit heartbroken this morning with you, trying to get over it. At the same time, my chest is puffed out, I was so proud of my little brothers out there. I saw courage, I saw leadership and I saw warriors showing up in the fight. Good good stuff.

I'm chaperoning homecoming banquet tonight and I have asked my daughter Alison to be my date. Nicki already had the "talk" with her a few weeks ago (she's 8) which is more of an ongoing conversation about healthy sexuality. Tonight I am taking her on a date and showing her the way she deserves to be treated by any dude that takes her out in the future. That is, any guy who has the guts to look me in the eye and tell me their intentions :) I'm looking forward to a fun night w/ Ali, she loves being around the older students.

Oh yeah, got a free ticket to the Bengals game tommorrow vs. the Houston Texans w/ my brother-in-law. Can you say Who Dey again? A big win tommorrow will help me get over the heartbreak of friday night. Regardless, I should lose my voice by the end of the 1st quarter. Prediction: Bengals 31 Texans 17. I'm going to wake up and run 8-10 miles to start my Sunday, that should be good times too.

peace to your weekend,

Friday, September 30, 2005

mmmmmmmmmmmm . . . conflict

Conflict is so fun, so energizing, so full of life, so fulfilling, so meaningful, so . . . whatever. Here are some slogans . . . "Conflict, tastes like chicken", "Conflict, the other white meat", "Conflict, better than a sharp stick in the eye."

Would you guess that I'm in the middle of a conflict on this fine friday? Not only is it just good old fashioned conflict, its with in theory, one of my superiors :) This is a situation where mostly I am just caught in a cross-fire having intended to just try and offer help. Well, sometimes the helper gets it in the behind. What saddens me is the inability to be adult, let alone Kingdom hearted folk. Why does everything have to be personal? If we were secure with who we are in Christ, then we can just talk about the issue. Why can we turn things to be all about "me" and everybody is against "me"? Why can't people's words be taken for what they are, instead of being perceived and seen through our baggage? Conflict is so much fun. I have attempted to "clear the air" with this person and correct any misperceptions, but they have made themselves unavailable to me. I have become the lightning rod of their conflict with many other people, which is a pretty sweet deal for me. I honestly have nothing personal wrapped up in the issue, but I do get the opportunity to carry the emotion of it all weekend or until whenever this individual will meet with me.

You see, I've been here before. Many years ago as the youth pastor on a mult-staffed growing church. The Pastor was hurting and needed help. I offered help and led the staff to try and help. The elders behind all our backs turned to me to take on more of the pastoral leadership behind the pastor's back. The Pastor perceived me as one of the ringleaders for a coup. That wasn't the case, I was trying to help him because I cared, I didn't want his job by any means. But I was the lightning rod. The most mature thing I could do was resign for the better of the Body, I couldn't compete with the perception. (oh yeah, that was the last time I was in formal ministry) The Pastor ended up having a nervous breakdown while in the pulpit a couple months later. What followed for me was about a 4 year depression, that was good times. I don't think this situation will be like that, but that one blindsided me as well. Like I said, conflict is awesome.

I'll part with these words today. Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

monking in the real world

I keep coming back to this topic over and over, because I want to be better at it. I want to learn to immerse my life in spiritual disciplines, or as Willard puts it, "off the spot" training, all while living and being in mission to the real world. The Incarnation is our model, the purity of God, becoming man and dwelling amongst them. I am by nature missional, its the monk part I really have to work on.

In today's Finan reading form Celtic Daily Prayer it says, (re: Celtic monastic Christianity) "People could opt for an ordinary life in the world, living the faith within the normal structures of human and political life, or could withdraw from everyday concerns and pursue their Christian vocation either as a solitary or as a member of an intentional community. This radical new alternative was obviously particularly attractive in a time of social upheaval."

I'm learning that the more I quiet my soul with spiritual disciplines, the better leader and apprentice to Jesus I am. I'm also learning that the Kingdom is too much of a "kept secret" and needs to be announced and proclaimed in every sector of the society I live in for the sake of Christ. Monking in the real world is more of an art than a science I suppose. Its a life concept that I never want to give up on, it seems to be what Jesus perfected.

Stop and monk in your world today,

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Happy Birthday Creech

Rains, Klinefelter and myself hopped in the car after work yesterday and hauled down to Lexington to party at the new Creech's home (beautiful, spacious community building home). Bean was there from Indy, the Vine & Branches crowd, some folks from St. Patricks and others. Good, good time. Sharing a meal together, givig Crecch some gifts, spontaneous live music and singing, lots of life happenings being shared, theology being knocked around . . . and oh yeah, lots of laughing. Good time. I'm hurting in the sleep dept. today but that's the breaks for this rock n' roll lifestyle being a part of the midwest regional emergin' church dealio.

Will fight through the tiredness and try to do some decent teaching today on the Canon of the N.T., fasting and the spiritual disciplines.

peace unto your day,

Sunday, September 25, 2005

3-0 WHO DEY!!!!

The Bengals dismantled the Bears in Chicago today to go 3-0 and they have throttled each of their opponents. I am working on getting tickets to this week's home game (freebies of course) so I can lend my voice to a deafening crowd vs. Houston. Its been 15 years since we made the playoffs and we are ready to leave the desert and taste the promised land. This city is so hungry its about to burst at its seams. We hosted a Who Dey tailgate party for the game today, I hope its the first of many, including some games in January. Forgive my enthusiasm, but its been a long time since we've had a legit good team here in the Nati. I am ecstatic!!

Completed my longest training run this evening in the rain. 10 miles and I was a soaked puppy which made it both more refreshing than the heat, but weighed me down as well. Bean completed his 10 miles yesterday so we are both on track for our Oct. 15 1/2 marathon in Indy. It is so hard training for these races, really takes a lot out of you but at the same time is a big source of accomplishment. This is the longest run on our training regime until we run 13.1 on race day. Christ have mercy.

I'm excited to hang with some regional brothers and sisters tommorrow, more on that to come in a report on Tuesday.


date night good (insert caveman voice)

thanks to many of you for your encouragement, I breathed it all in, peace to the greater community of God out there in blogdeom.

My wife and I had a great date night last night. No movie, just a progressive night of lots of talking. Great fish dinner at BoneFish Grill (thanks to Rob for the gift certificate). Then we hit a new coffee shop nearby and talked what was on our hearts and the areas we haven't been connecting in. We talked over some future options for me vocationally and for additional schooling. (more on this to come) Our talk brought me great peace and joy, marriage is good :) Then we hit a new local grille by our house that I have been hangin' out getting to know some folk there and we played NTN Texas Hold'em poker. I taught Nicki how to play and we won more than we lost (no real $ of course, just computer talk). Just a great night of connecting that was way overdue. Probably another reason why anxiety has crept into my heart, I literally can't breathe in this life without my wife. I grew up fiercely independent, she has changed all of that. I need her and pray that I provide for her as much as she does me.

Bragging here: My daughter Ali played like a warrior yesterday morning in her soccer game. She prefers defense and plays stellar there, but her team needed to try her on offense. She scored 2 goals and almost scored on 5 more. She is not particulary big but has more speed than anyone on the field. What I love most is her intensity and the way she coaches her fellow players on the field, directing the flow of the team. Hmmmm, an intense leader . . . i like that stuff.

Today is the day the Bengals go 3-0 if they can avoid costly turnovers in Chicago. Prediction Bengals 28 Bears 14

Stop and notice the Kingdom amongst you today,

Friday, September 23, 2005

taking the Kingdom personally

"From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 'You do not want to leave too, do you?' Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.' " - John 6:66-69

This passage is in the context of Jesus feeding the 5,000 and his teaching that he is the Bread of life. He is trying to say something that is really a big idea but some couldn't hear it. This seemed to affect Jesus, it seemed to break his heart a bit. Rejection is not much fun, particulary when you care about people and want them to have life.

I sometimes wish I had stuck to teaching Bible as an academic subject instead of diving into the new paradigm of Jesus' kingdom teaching. Because my entire heart is in that teaching, and when students are disinterested, its hard not to take it personally. And I see them in their religious systems, I see them dying, I see them lost, I seem them on paths of self-indulgence and misery, but I can't get their attention. The Kingdom is a difficult teaching and it messes with our presumed worldviews. I can't get out of the way of the message, I take the Kingdom personally and it hurts to care that others do too.

I observe that when Jesus felt overwhelmed and burdened, he got away to be with the Father. That sounds like a good plan for today.

Lord I am hungry and I have nowhere else to go, you have the words of life.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

kingdom reception

"Jesus went through all the towns and villages . . . preaching the good news of the kingdom."

sometimes I wish I didn't care if people understood that or not.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


excuse me, 911 . . . I'd like to report a robbery.

After countless weeks of being sucked into the gravitational pull of RockStar: INXS, the unthinkable happened. J.D. won. J.D. WON?? The world is more fallen that I had previously supposed. INXS just showed why they have been irrelevant for the past 10 years.

The clear choice was Marty. He has the maturity and the flexibility to take them to new heights. Instead, he'll get his own band and outdo whatever INXS does after the hype calms down. I would have prefered Marty do Nirvana's "Lithium" though instead of the Pink Floyd number.

Mig is a stud. He's a lot of fun to watch and brings energy. He killed Bohemian Rhapsody last night, absolutely fabulous. Somebody may pick him up, but he seems most fit for a dramatic stage.

When J.D.'s name was called last night, I hid in my closet because it blindsided my wife and she is not all too happy today. Nicki McGilivary guaranteed her that J.D. wouldn't win and now she has some explaining to do ;) All in all, good show. I hope they do it again with a band that is a bit more relevant and less self-absorbed. What am I talking about, its rock n roll. Next up . . . Amazing Race begins next Tuesday. Honestly, outside of sports and Monster House, this is the only TV I watch.

may your day be filled with lesser travesties.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Kingdom as irrelevant to students

So, I'm teaching about the Kingdom of God, utilizing Dallas Willard's "Renovation of the Heart" (student ed.) as our textbook for seniors and some juniors at a Christian High School. However, some are extremely attracted to the topic of the "Kingdom" and many could care less. All claim to be in the category of "Christian" but it seems to affect not at all their choice of words, general attitude, treatment of others, sensitivity, love etc. etc.

Basically for some what we're discussing are words to live by, and to some they are completely irrelevant concepts. And this 2nd category of students kinda wear me down because they actually embrace religion to a level that won't last.

So is it just choice? We choose to not care or learn.

Is it that their church experience has not given them a framework for the Kingdom? They have no access points outside of language about heaven, hell and getting saved.

Is it my teaching? I lack creativity or simple enough communication of deep, spiritual topics.

Puberty? They can't get over themselves or see past themselves. Class is a place to be social and show off.

ADD? Its after lunch and the exceptional amounts of sugar intake is too active to overcome.

Classroom management? Because I choose to teach in a relational enviorment without many regualtions, its too loose to be productive.

Its probably a combination of all of the above. Whatever it is, I wish it wasn't so.

Who Dey!

Bengals 37 Vikings 8
The 2005 Bengals are 2-0.

vrrrrmmmm, vrrrmmmmm. That's the sound of the Bengals playoff bus filling up with a full tank of gas for the long haul. There are still a few seats available on the Bengals bandwagon, anyone interested?

Friday, September 16, 2005

The Power Team comes to CCS

So what's not to like? Here are some quotes from their website:

"Proven effective for almost 30 years .
New Integrity and Accountability in place, and maintained by Oversight Boards.
Powerful Results: 2-3 out of every 10 who come, make decisions for Christ.
Averaging a 20% church growth within 12 months following crusade.
Averaging 60% "Unchurched" visitors nightly!
Over 20 world-class athletes performing feats of strength and sharing the
powerful message of the cross.
Rated as the top school assembly, with over 15,000 assemblies completed.
Endorsements and referrals, from hundreds of pastors and government officials."

Well, here is what I didn't like:
- Celebrity driven platform speaking
- Hype
- namedropping to make presenters sound more dynamic
- embellished dynamic stories to manufacture a specific response
- focus on external physical body/strength
- awkward/inappropriate skit between adult male presenter and female teenage student
- fear and guilt as a short-term motivator
- teaching a reduced gospel that involes only being "saved from a devil's hell"
- defining "gospel" as information given
- shameful decision time, pointing out the students who didn't have their hands raised were "in trouble and heading to a devil's hell"
- no focus on the reality of spiritual journey and conversion process
- reinforcing cultural stereotypes of "cool" and "uncool"
- bashing professional wrestling antics while re-enacting them with a Christian label

Was it all bad? nope. I sensed them to be guys of integrity and taught for the beginning about the love of Christ. I'm down with that stuff. I just believe its important to be discerning about everything we are influenced by, regardless if it has a Christian label on it or not. I hope some of my students at least thought about it, instead of just being entertained.

Stop and notice the Kingdom around you today,

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

a Kingdom that has come

Mary ann mentioned Kingdom Come in her last comment. I'm sitting here in bed watching Rock Star: INXS and reading a little N.T. Wright "Challenge of Jesus". This is a book I've decided to re-read and in chapter 2 I came upon this quote:

"When they longed for the kingdom of God, they were not thinking about how to secure themselves a place in heaven after they died. There phrase 'kingdom of heaven' which we find frequently in Matthew's Gospel where the others have 'kingdom of God' does not refer to a place, called 'heaven' where God's people will go after death. It refers to the rule of heaven, that is, of God, being brought to bear in the present world. Thy kingdom come, said Jesus, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus' contemporaries knew that the creator God intended to bring justice and peace to his world here and now. The question was, how, when and through whom?"

That is such a big idea, I can hardly grasp it. Kingdom has come, and even tonight as I still am hurting a bit, I know its presence is right here. And that comforts me.

peace to your house tonight,

now it makes more sense

I've been wondering why I had this melancholy song in my head listed below. I had forgotten that there was a 3rd interview with our son Zach at home today with my wife. Its the school district giving us some attention. They are pushing ahead all of the paperwork but have bigger concerns. They are concerned over some sensory issues w/ Zach and will send an occupational therapist out to observe him in the next few days. We are thankful for the help and the resources, but frankly it makes my wife and I a bit emotional. As far as we know, it was just a learning disability issue. Now it seems that we will be testing him for many other issues.

All of that just breaks my heart. I don't want my son to suffer. I don't want him to be sick. I don't want him to struggle. But there are no guarantees in this life are there? Our human condition is ruined and sometimes that hurts. so . . . today I hurt.

Fix You (Coldplay)

(I'm just loving this song by Coldplay lately)

Fix you

When you try your best but you don’t succeed
When you get what you want but not what you need
When you feel so tired but you can’t sleep
Stuck in reverse

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can’t replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
Could it be worse

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

And high up above or down below
When you’re too in love to let it go
But if you never try you’ll never know
Just what you’re worth

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Tears stream down your face
When you lose something you cannot replace
Tears stream down your face
And i…
Tears stream down your face
I promise you I will learn from my mistakes
Tears stream down your face
And i…

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Monday, September 12, 2005

monday monday

Not a bad weekend at all. Friday night high school football game, very proud of our guys who were outmanned the moment they hit the field. Particularly the seniors stuck it out and played with a lot of heart. Did I mention I was very proud of them?

Saturday morning, my 2 daughters had the idea of selling lemonade to all the soccer game fans behind our house to raise $$ for Hurrican Katrina victims. In 2 hours, we made $68. We'll be doing that again.

I won't mention the Ohio State game from Saturday night because I haven't gotten over it and apparently I woke up the entire house at midnight screaming at the TV in some foreign tongue, because I'm sure that I dont' use those words. But my wife made a point of letting me know exactly what I said :(

Sunday was full. A Community Gathering at our house of OCC and after our meal and kids time, we discussed an opportunity through resettle to use the majority of our resources over the coming year to make a difference in atleast one family by moving them up here to the Nati temporarily or permanently if they like. We are making a year committment to furnish an apartment and make a wholistic lifestyle for somebody who today thinks they have no hope to pick up the pieces. For us, its just a natural application to I John 3:17-18, "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth." This is the biggest commitment OCC has ever taken on and we are stepping out in faith, yet very excited.

Bengals win, beat the Brownies. It was our 1st step to a playoff run. The bandwagon is rolling slowly, anybody want a ticket? If/when the Bengals make it to a Super Bowl again, there will be an Epic party at my house. nuff said.

In my training to run the Indy 1/2 marathon on October 15, I waited til the heat passed and ran 8 miles last night. It felt reasonably good, my first good run in weeks. I've been struggling. Now I'm hopeful I can be ready for the race w/ Bean. However, today I am quite sore.

Come on Monday, let's see what you got!


Thursday, September 08, 2005

well . . . that was a first

Last night was my last class of NT Survey at Indiana Wesleyan University (cincy campus) for this cohort. They took their exam, handed in their final paper and then I gave them my last lecture which was on Revelation. This has been a diverse class of skeptics, seekers and followers. They shared that this class was one of the ones in their program that they were terrified of because of all their negative church experiences. Instead they said it was one of their favorites. This has less to do with my teaching than it does the compelling nature of Jesus' life and teachings.

I explained the typical arguments and disagreements over how to interpret this apocalyptic literature. I gave them all sides to the discussion and then ended with about a 15 minute explanation of my overall view of the Kingdom of God. I proclaimed about the new heaven and the new earth and that we actually partner with God on their creation. That I don't believe the rapture is us leaving to go anywhere, but rather an unveiling of this new heaven and earth (parousia/apakolupsis). That the Kingdom has already come in the person of Jesus Christ. That the Kingdom is all around us in the same quality that exists in the heavenly realm. That death is a passage into the fullness of that Kingdom, now we have quality, then we will have quantity too. That the Kingdom is the natural way to live, it is the essence of being the human you were created to be. That the only way to experience the Kingdom of God is through the person of Jesus Christ. That heaven is not a place far away, but a realm very near to us now. That hell is God giving us over to alienation for eternity, which is what we've chosen all along. That heaven and hell are not so much places to go, but states of being. One in alienation, one in perfect communion with the Creator. And that there are "thin places" here on earth where the presence of God can be encountered in its fullness and it leads to total transformation. These portals to the Kingdom are the spiritual disciplines and any follower of the Kingdom needs to embrace these as breath and life. All of Revelation is a love story of Jesus longing for us and returning to us.

And then it happened . . . they clapped. Never had that happen after a lecture. I believe that they were agreeing with what their souls long for > Truth. God's unadulterated Truth revealed has a way of stirring your soul. I count it a blessing to be a conduit for His Truth and Power.

Its been a hard week, but this was a good night.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

a pondering . . .

so this morning I sit, thinking about it all,
some days its enough to just stand without one fall,
what is my purpose and why am I here?
why does my heart fill with so much fear?
i don't like what I see and I don't like where I am,
and if i thought of the right changes, do I believe that I can?
doubts and questions, ponderings for sure,
there is no guarantee that makes this life secure,
darkness and beauty exist in the same breath,
while somewhere in New Orleans the air wreaks of death,
its not about hope, seems more to do with faith,
just some mornings i wonder how much more i can take,
so today the heart is heavy, i hardly even know why,
i wish i had the time to just let myself cry,
brokeness is not evil, most times it leads to good,
often leads me to the thoughts and the actions i should,
some days its just a battle, the reality is war,
its time for me to wake up for the Enemy is at my door,

may you find peace in your ponderings today,

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Religion and Jesus don't mix

There is a religiosity in the air sometimes and its stench wreaks. Usually it comes out in the form of judgmentalism towards others and guilt/shame within ourselves. Jesus called us to love our neighbors and experience freedom for ourselves, but somehow religion is just easier to do.

I kid you not that in my classroom that as I projected images of the hurricane in order to spur on a time of prayer, some students chose to mock it and be glad for a judgment on those sinners in Mardi Gras, or that the frenchies down there deserved it. Now I understand what hormones are, and how guys like to show off in front of the ladies and how sarcasm makes you noticed and cool, but this was too far. Some were just stating what had already been taught them re: this storm at church or home. Frankly, it enraged me. I honestly don't know how to teach in that moment. The students are used to me being easy going, but there's a side of me that is tired of the religiosity and wants to overthrow tables. How far should my compassion go in the ways of "boys will be boys" to "sometimes you need a swift kick in the pants"? We'll see how today goes but I just thought I would point this out lest we think the Pharisees died a long time ago.

I hate religion, I love the ways of Jesus. Teach me today Lord to know the difference between the two.

Stop and notice the Kingdom around you today,

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

An Invitation

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavey or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." Matthew 11:28-30

Been meditating on this invitation the past couple of days and having students journal on it, so I thought I'd blog it. We are studying the topic of Spiritual Formation which is all about the unforced rythms of grace. I admit that I"m still learning exactly what that means. Its a mystical and spiritual process of being drawn into His presence and walking in it completely changed from the inside of my heart. Today in my heart, I feel sad for those suffering through the hurricane. I can hear the cries of people calling from their underwater homes last night. Some of them left their life on earth last night as I slept. I pray that God knows and is present with them.


Monday, August 29, 2005

God is good

Am in the middle of training for another 1/2 marathon on 10/15 in Indy w/ Bean and Bowen but am struggling to up my miles. Yesterday I did another 6 miles and then dehydrated before I could finish the 7th. I have 7 weeks to be at 13 miles . . . great googly moogly.

Now to the God is good part. I had the privelege of being invited to go with Todd and Jamie Minniear from OCC to Todd's mom's house for a conversation with her. Cheryl has been wrestling with cancer for I believe 5-6 years and is now at the point of it being terminal. She is having lots of questions particularly about life after death. We were able to share w/ her about God's grace and salvation through His Son in the life we have now and the life yet to come. She shared about her life and powerfully confessed some personal things that have been on heart for a long time. It was a time of reconciliation and making things right, very cool stuff. Then we shared more about the love of Christ and a life in God. We had a time of prayer to conclude and Cheryl entered into the Kingdom of God during that time. As well we prayed for her healing as she wants as much time as she can get with her family and enjoy her grandkids. When we came, her face was full of fear. When we left, the burden had been lifted and peace ruled her heart. I am in awe that God uses us to communicate and embody His love for His missing children. Truly, truly, God is good.

Now I'm to try and communicate this love and truth to Christian High School students who have heard it all before.

Stop and notice the Kingdom around you today,

Friday, August 26, 2005

Did I mention I was filthy rich?

The reality of my wealth in social capital was proven yet again last night. Its been about 5 months or so since we had a full blown "fight club" meeting and it started back up last night. Rains, Canipe, Johnson and myself sipping coffee, cracking jokes and pondering on Kingdom topics. We just picked up right where we left off, that's when you know that friendship is deep. It was great to catch up. These meetings just put my life in perspective and energize my faith and leadership. It is not good to be alone, finding just one or more others that you can bear your soul with is to be sought after more than gold or silver.

George Barna is coming out with a new book in which he describes "Revolutionaries". He says he can now quantify that there is a population of 20 million Americans who have left church in order to more authentically follow Jesus. Meaning 20 million have left church but not Church. He says many of them have gone underground in spiritual mini-movements in which house churces/missional communities are one version of. He also estimates that in the next 10 years that # will double. The jury is out on why this is happening or if he's completely right in his estimations. What I do know is that he is describing me. I am not at all angry w/ church, (well atleast not anymore) but I do know that I feel at home in small missional communities and am willing to spend the rest of my life asking for God's Kingdom to come in my neighborhood.

We noted last night that the power of these spiritual mini-movements is in that they are contextual. There is not one cohesive idea or model that everyone needs to embrace. America no longer has just one culture. America is a mosaic of diverse cultures and sub-cultures and the Church should look the same. The issue is not models, the issue is the Incarnation of the Kingdom of God. Mini or mega or something in-between, figure out who you are and get about living it out. I don't have time to argue. With my time left on earth I want to invite others into the experience of Kingdom Come and take on whatever sacrifices that entails. Be the Church today.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

Holy Moses I am tired

pause for a moment of complaining: Yesterday was a long day, teaching in my day job from 8:00 - 3:00, then prepped for my night teaching job 3:00-5:00, then got home to say "hi" to my family, eat dinner and leave to teach my night job from 6:00-10:00. I got home around 11, in bed by 12, woke up at 3:00 a.m. with anxiety (which has happened most nights this week) and then up at 6:00 a.m. to start again. The teaching is all going well but for all my effort, I can only just barely keep up with simple bills. I work 4 different jobs (1 full time and 3 part-time) and my wife works 1 part-time and we can still barely make ends meet. Thank God we don't have much debt outside of our mortgage. Its just frustrating that maxing out my workload is bare minimum to get by. At the same time as I complain, people around the world are starving and have no employment, so my venting is in context. Nothing is guaranteed in life, and faith is not w/out struggle. I thank God for His provision but still feel the tension of my toil and tiredness. Ok, moment is over.

Read this today in Celtic Daily Prayer: "Friendship requires honesty. Friends do not need you to be 'up' all the time - instead they enable you to be more vulnerable." For all my complaining about not having much financially, I am filthy rich with these kind of friends. I mean, I have never had the kinds of close friends with whom I can be intimate and real with than I do now. I am poor in finances and rich in social capital, go figure.

peace of Christ upon your day,

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Is brokeness an okay place to be?

I woke up a few times last night, feeling pretty restless. Over breakfast and the drive to work I was filled with prayers for brothers and sisters of mine that are hurting right now. Then it just hits me and I feel utterly broken. I feel broken between what "is" and what "should be". We have an unshakeable Kingdom, but we live in the pig stye. The Kingdom is all around us, yet we find ourselves in darkness. Healing is within our grasps, yet suffering continues. Hope is our calling card, yet we proclaim legalism. Freedom is our destiny, yet we choose our bonds.

Then I find myself pointing out everybody else's "stuff" only to realize the enormous plank in my own eye. I am sinful, I am broken, I choose selfishness, I live in death when life is before me, I am what I loathe, I do the things that cause brokeness not just in my heart, but in the heart of Abba. Not in a guilt trip kind of way, but in a relationally distant kind of way. I long for a different kind of spiritual life for me, one that is in step with His ways. I long for a different kind of Church, one that is communed with His Spirit and Truth. And the gap between that longing and the present reality is what causes me brokeness. And frankly, I would rather be broken than settle for status quo.

So today my choice is to worship and reflect. Find my way back to His heart and dwell there a bit. He doesn't move, I do. He doesn't need to change, I do. So may change follow me today.


Monday, August 22, 2005

Back to School

Today is the 1st day of school and in Christian School style, we began with a 45 min. guilt-trip assembly to keep order. I suppose structure is needed in any group setting but what I can never understand is why teachers/authority require respect but don't seem obliged to give respect to students. I've always notices that when I give students the benefit of the doubt, they respond to me respectfully.

Another side note is that its great having Aaron Klinefelter on staff. Somebody else to interpret reality with and influence students in healthy ways. He is teaching some Bible, doing a Cisco training class and full-time overwhelmed as the resident IT artist. I'm sure he is at full culture shock of the christian school enviorment by now.

Celtic Daily Prayer really struck me today in the Finan reading:
We are peculiar. We have chosen not to go with the majority. Whe shall pray and reflect on the life of Christ: most people don't do this . . . But there has probably never been a time in history when the majority of people were seriously seeking Him!

We are not different because our shirts are tucked in or because our hair is cut short or because I don't have my ear ring in or because my tattoo isn't showing. (all rules to live by here at CCS) We are different because of His transforming love. It changes us, makes us think and live differently. It causes us to seek life instead of dabble in things that are dead. I want to seek the life within His love today.

Stop and notice the Kingdom amongst you today,

Thursday, August 18, 2005

2 weeks since my last blog

Geez, that's a confession. It is due to the end of summer and the busyness of getting back to school rather than things to talk about. Sorry to many of my loyal readers, with school starting on Monday, I'll be back to my normal structure. I am incredibly unproductive outside of a decent structure.

Last night was the 2nd session of my next NT Survey course that I'm teaching at Indiana Wesleyan and the class is incredibly diverse. We are split between a handful of honest religious skeptics, people somewhere in the middle and a few Christ followers as well. It is fun and challenging to teach. I told my wife the other day that it is so much more fun than much of what I done in past ministry experiences because I am on the edge of trying to communicate the Kingdom to those who just don't buy it. Mostly I just sit back and let Truth handle itself, not just in content but in the Spirit as well.

My daytime teaching gig starts on Monday and besides my year-long NT Survey course there, I am teaching 4 quarter long courses to seniors. The first quarter is on spiritual formation and we will be using the student version of Dallas Willard's "Rennovation of the Heart" (Thanks to Bean Books. Check is in process, Bean :) I am really looking forward to our conversations and personally I'm looking forward to learning with them as well. Its all about transformation into the way we were always destined to be in the Kingdom.

Well, I'm off to have coffee w/ McGillivary. These meetings are my lifeblood. I suppose its the equivalent of an OCC staff meeting.

much love and peace to y'all and I promise to be back w/ more Kingdom goodness,

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

busy, busy end of summer

Just returned from 6 days of vacation with my family and my brother-in-law's family. We went to my wife's parents' condo on a plantation/lake/country club down in Georgia outside of Atlanta. It was pretty plush and scenic and hot. Lots of pool time with the kids and tubing off the pontoon boat. Good relaxing time sandwiched in between 2 long drives there and back.

Now I'm home for 1 day before I head out of town for the next 3 days camping on Rains' land with Bean and Johnson. We will catch the Father Creech for lunch on Wednesday and brave the extreme heat in KY. I'm sure adventures will follow and there will be stories to be told. The last time we camped, it was 19 degrees, Wednesday is supposed to be 95. We seem to choose the extremes.

Reading Palmer's blog is just stunning. He's making progress physically, spirits seemed to be high but the reality of a $220K medical bill is unbelievable. There is very little I can do to help, with the exception of continued prayer and emotional support. I don't even have a spare $220 right now to give. So I've decided to go back into training for another 1/2 marathon and dedicate that to Palmer again. Running keeps me focused on the fight and gives me time to pray. I will be running with Bean at the Indy 1/2 marathon in October and then will begin my focus on training for the full Flying Pig Marathon in Cincy next Spring. That would be my first marathon and I will use it to raise funds for the Palmers again. When you don't know what to do, I suppose its best to do something. Marathon training is a huge committment, particularly for a dude my size, but it is turning into a calling with a real-life purpose. In the 95 degree heat, I started my training this morning. One phrase fills my mind in the hard times . . . "I'm running for Palmer".

stop and notice the Kingdom amongst you today,

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

spiritual formation

"We can say, in a preliminary manner, that spiritual formation for the Christian basically refers to the Spirit-driven process of forming the inner world of the human self in such a way that it becomes like the inner being of Christ himself. In what follows we must carefully examine what this means for today. But we can say at the outset that, in the degree to which spiritual formation in Christ is successful, the outer life of the individual becomes a natural expression or outflow of the character and teachings of Jesus." -Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart

One of Ordinary Community's values is Authenticity. What we mean is that we believe that Christ following is basically about transformation. Its not about "going to church", its about becoming the people of God. (going to church may be a means to that end, but its not the whole point) If we want to authentically call ourselves Christ followers, then our life has to look like His. We are to be His apprentices. We must die continually so He might become more alive through us.

I am becoming increasingly more aware of inner parts of me that are not dying well. Why do I clutch so hard to things that are full of death? Why don't I run to the One who offers completeness, wholeness, peace, contentment . . . life?

Nicki and I were doing some pre-marital counseling with a couple I'm marrying this fall and we were discussing "pigitis", or our own selfishness and how it plays out in marriage. Just bringing up the topic causes me to look inward and see my incredibly selfish heart. I have so much dying to do.

Lord forgive me for my pursuit of things that are dead and lead me to the waters that give life. I miss you.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

why is slowing down so hard?

Every year I have lots of goals and objectives for the summer schedule. I have books I want to read, projects I want to write on and time I want to spend in solitude. But rarely do I ever achieve them. My extrovert nature has me running all over the place, meeting lots of people, seeing movies, being productive but not in any sense of solitude. I wonder at times if I run from the intimacy that I so desire w/ the Father? That its just too much and too intense for me. If I sit and take it in, I just want to get up and start doing someting. I want to improve in this area but it requires so much discipline. Will be going camping for 3 days with Glenn Johnson and Bill Bean and I hope that will provide some time for solitude, reflection and big picture thinking.

Running may also help in this area. Am beginning my training for 2 half-marathons, one in September and one in October. These training times make my mind slow down and become disciplined. The physical and the spiritual are intertwined.

Why do I sometimes sabotage what I actually need? Why am I a better talker and thinker than a doer? The conclusion is always the same, I need a Savior. I am not well, my soul is yet sick and needs healing. It wouldn't be just "nice" if I could have some time for Jesus, I am utterly desperate for it. By the way, so are you :) I am feeling a need to commune with Him in some times of intimacy. Why does my heart stray? It just makes no sense.

Jesus, I am desperate for you.