Monday, January 31, 2005

Our Retreat was a lot of fun, lots of snow, lots of family time and our time of worship, conversation and prayer was a perfect diversion from real life. But I am in post-retreat coma, the head is in a complete daze. Come on diet mt. dew, do your thing!

I read this and it got me thinking this morning. is a revealing article/response of Brian McLaren to a critique of the emerging church written in Christianity Today.

I resonate with a lot of what Brian has to say and the way in which he says it. And the longer I journey in this story known as "emerging church", I am realizing that its fundamentally not about doing church differently, but about trying to understand the Gospel and live it out without the parameters placed on it by modernism and traditional evangelicalism. It has more to do with Gospel than it does church. Our 1st question ought not to be "How should we worship? or teach?" or "Where should we meet?", but rather, "What does it mean to really be a follower of Christ?" That is the question that I am interested in. And out of that will flow the neccesary structures to build His Kingdom on earth. What I know is that the Gospel is not strictly about a place called heaven and hell, but rather I think its the Way to live and find your reality in. Its the experience of Kingdom Come in the now, and which certainly will find its fulfillment in the "not yet". Kindom is ultimate reality, just living with and near people and inviting them to the Kingdom experience is what Gospel means to me and its the most fulfilling journey I've ever been in or will ever find. It is the reason why I exist at all.

Please pray for Palmer. He is beginning 6 weeks of treatment (chemo/radiation) that are 5 times a week in order to shrink the tumor. Then he will have 6 weeks off of treatment leading to surgery to remove it. He is in a lot of pain now, and the treatments will most certainly debilitate the energy that he presently has. Over these next 6 weeks, I am calling for a fast for Palmer on Wednesdays. You can fast and pray in whatever form you are called to, but our brother needs us and this is a call that we need to answer. Feel free to email me with any questions,


Friday, January 28, 2005

Leaving at 4:00 this afternoon the first annual Ordinary Community Church Family Winter Retreat. The intent is really focused on the kids, but we'll be doing some cool stuff w/ adults as well a little more in depth. Our theme is "Super Power Weekend." The 1st session is "God's Super Power" from Mark 2 of Jesus healing the paraplegic. The 2nd session is "Our Super Powers" from Judges 16 and Samson's giftings. The 3rd session is "Super Friends" from Luke 10 and The Good Samaritan. We'll be having a couple hours of prayer and worship for adults on Ssturday night and a Super Heroes Birthday party after dinner Saturday with all the kids in costumes. 32 of us are going, half of them kids. Its so Kingdom just to get away and spend concentrated time w/ our children. Oh yeah, and we're going to do some serious sledding, snow football, there's a huge indoor gym for hoops and volleyball, roast smores around the fire and lots of chill time. We're heading to Camp Burton in NE Ohio which is a good 4 hour trip for some community time. We're looking forward to a great weekend and the experience of God amongst us.


Thursday, January 27, 2005

"One day in one of the villages there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus he fell down before him in prayer and said, 'If you want to, you can cleanse me.' Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, 'I want to. Be clean.' Then and there his skin was smooth, the leprosy gone." -Luke 5 (The Message)

My brother/friend, Palmer, found out last week that he has a tumor behind his rectum. This is the news that I referred to that kind of rocked my world. Considering his wife, Jennifer, crossed over to Kingdom fullness a year and a half ago at 26 w/ stomach cancer, the irony just smelled so much of the enemy's stench.

And so I come before you Lord, I come with the knowledge knowing that if you want to, you can heal him completely. That you could glorify yourself with your power amongst us. Jesus I ask you to "want to". Jesus, would you clean this sickness out of Mark's body? Would you touch the part that is unclean and renew the flesh? God, hear the prayers of your people, rising to you from all corners of your Body, on behalf of a fellow servant who lives a life of allegiance to you solely. God I want you to "want to"! You speak with words of life, speak into Mark's body today. Heal him and magnify yourself in that community. God, I want you to "want to".

Please pray for my friend.

Stop and notice the Kingdom amongst you today,

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

I have never cried in a movie theater before in my lifetime, until Saturday night. My wife and I took our date night to see "Hotel Rwanda" and its a great and important film. It tells the story of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and how the western world powers, including the U.S. sat by and did nothing. In 100 days, 800,000 people were killed mostly by machete. While Clinton was getting sexual favors in the White House office, horror was happenig in Rwanda and our institutional gov't structures couldn't cope. Of course it was justified at the time that leadership and personal integrity are not related issues, the important leadership issue is the economy. Tragically wrong.

This movie raises the question of evil in this world. Where does it come from? Why can there be so much hate? Why are we so cruel to one another for very little reasons? What is the source of our hate ideologies that justify inhuman cruelty? What can I do about it?
All questions I've been wondering about. Of course I know some of the answers, but to feel the weight of these issues, we need to wonder more and conclude less.

I found this artilce interviewing Madeline Albright and her reaction to Rwanda as she looks back:

"Where does Rwanda sit for you, on a personal and emotional level?It sits as the greatest regret that I have from the time I was U.N. ambassador and maybe even as secretary of state, because it is a huge tragedy, and something that sits very heavy on all our souls, I think.

Why a regret?
Because I wish it had been possible for us to do more, and President Clinton has said how much he has regretted it. I have reviewed the record a lot, and I don't think actually that we could have done more. I just wish that it had not been something that the international community was not capable of dealing with. So it's a huge regret.

I have been to Rwanda many times. I went and I met with orphans and widows. I went to see the mass graves. I saw the blood in the stadiums. So it's just a horrible, horrible story.

Why is it different from other tragedies?
This was such a massive killing in a very short period of time. Hundreds of thousands of people died very quickly. … I think going to Rwanda was one of the biggest shocks for me, and flying into a place that the church was actually the killing ground, because the Church was so strong there. People ran to the churches in order to flee from killing.

… Then there was a mass grave right next to it where the U.N. workers were excavating. There was a small skeleton that they had managed to excavate, which was about the size of my grandchild at that time. You could see the machete mark on the skull. Then going to this stadium where there was blood all over--

What had happened was that they herded the people into the stadium, and then cut their tendons at night when they'd run out of ammunition, so that they wouldn't run away."

How long oh Lord, do we have to sing this song? How long, do your people need to suffer? Some things I just don't understand.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

YO ADRIAN!!!!!! WE DID IT!!!!!!!!
Ok, I can remember the night, it was a cool January evening in Philly where I grew up, I was 8 and my heart was broken. Why? Because the Eagles had just lost the Super Bowl to the Raiders 27-10. Now 25 years later. we're going back to the Promised Land, that's right, the Super Bowl! I will announce it here, the Super Bowl party is at my house. The Menu? Philly Cheesesteaks, philadelphia style soft pretzels and east coast pizza (thin crust and greasy) that you need to fold to eat. After 4 tries, we finally won the NFC Championship game and now T.O. will be back for the Big game. Oh yeah, for the pre-game entertainment at my Super Bowl party will be an exclusive viewing of Rocky 2 so that we understand the heart of a Philadelpha champion. I couldn't be more pumped up, just waiting to see who our AFC opponent will be. Apollo Creed couldn't beat us, Clubber Lang couldn't beat us, Ivan Drago couldn't beat us and Tommy Gunn couldn't beat us, so what hope do the Steelers/Patriots have?

I leave you with a quote from Rocky 2. Rocky decides to leave retirement and fight Apollo Creed again for a re-match while watching Apollo trash-mouth him on national TV and then there is a knock on the door. He opens the door and standing there is his old manager, Mickey. These words follow . . .

Mickey: (looks Rocky in the eyes, pauses and says) "I think we should know his block off!"
Rocky: (replies with a stone face) "Absolutely"

It is so on!!!!! The train to Jacksonville just left the station.


Thursday, January 20, 2005

have you ever had the wind taken out of your sails? I got some news from a friend this afternoon that rocked me to my core, the shock is still settling. I will share more details as it becomes appropriate. For now I am reminded that I'm in a war, that there is a battle raging in a field not far from me and the enemy is still seeking to steal, kill and destroy. But I reject that outcome, the Spirit w/ in me breathes life, death has no sting. The enemy has shown his ugly face once again but I don't reccomend he get comfortable because he's not staying long. For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that mocks the armies of the living God??? We will face our enemy on this field, no matter how great, and we will win victory for His might is within us. So until I get different marching orders, I'm going in through the works of prayer and fasting and I'm not going to stop swinging until He speaks clearly. Come Lord Jesus, we need you this night . . .

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

I'm challenged this morning with the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from "Cost of Discipleship." I've been a little discouraged lately of my place of labor and how it doesn't match up with what I would want or plan for. Its not where I intended to be and at times I wish I was elsewhere. But these words pierced me today:

"(re: the disciples) Their work is to be Christ-work, and therefore they are absolutely dependent on the will of Jesus. Happy are they whose duty is fixed by such a precept, and who are therefore free from the tyranny of their own ideas and calculations . . . The choice of field for their labours does not depend on their own impulses or inclinations, but on where they are sent. This makes it quite clear that it is not their own work they are doing, but God's . . . If Christ will not let us preach the gospel in any particular place, we must give up the attempt and abide by his will and word. Thus the disciples are bound to the word and to the terms of their commission. They can only go where the word of Christ and his commission direct them."

Maybe I should have less agenda for where I am and put more work into my ability to trust Him.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

"A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek;
I want to drink God,
deep draughts of God.
I'm thirsty for God-alive,
I wonder, "Will I ever make it -
arrive and drink in God's presence?" - Psalm 42 (The Message)

I want to be a man of God. I want to be a genuine follower of Christ. I want to be a man of the Gospel. I want to be a man of the Kingdom.

But in all this I fall short. It at times leaves me in shame, that I could be so close and yet still choose my own way and it leads to death. I believe in the power and accessibility of Kingdom Now, but rarely do I remain in its flow. Why can't I unplug from the influences of this world so as to focus more on the Kingdom that is unseen? What payoff am I getting from this unrennovated way of thinking/living? I fear that I am spending too much time teaching Bible and not enough time breathing it in for life itself. I'm wanting a new mind today, one that is craving the things of the Spirit. I want to drink of the wells that give life and pay attention to the Source of life. I believe its an act of will to turn my allegiance to Him, but His grace is always pulling me in that direction. I don't know why I ever resist, I need to let go of myself in His current today.


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

I really like the feeling of realizing that I'm part of a Story that is bigger than myself. Sometimes you get the sense, or pay enough attention to realize that the moving pieces around you are converging for reasons that are other than coincidental. I had coffee tonight w/ the honorable Glenn Johnson and we ended up sharing about ideas we had for our faith communities to partner together. But as we shared back and forth, I got the sense that we were "meant" to have this conversation on this night. That somewhere there was a Script that was being read and this moment had been written into it for purposes beyond my present understanding. I don't know what could/will come out of our partnership, I just have the sense tonight that its meant to be.

I don't think we use our spiritual senses enough in the western world. We are so consumned with the scientific worldview of having things figured out, and corporate business models of proven strategies that we've lost some of the art of living in mystery. And with this loss, we have forgotten what if feels like to be alive. To be alive is to be active in the Story but not know what's on the next page. To be a character in the Script, but not know the entire plot until you see it unfold before you. This is living and thinking with the right side of our brain, the imaginative/creative side.

There are many who theologize that Jesus did not have much self awareness. That he also didn't realize who he was, and that it was revealed to him over time throughout his ministry and not until post-resurrection did he come to full realization that he was the Son of God and Savior for humanity. I don't take it this far but I do believe that Jesus denied his ability as God to have absolute knowledge and therefore took on the limitations to being a character in the Story who had to live in partnership w/ his Father for his work on earth. Jesus lived an adventure of following the Spirit. And follow it he did to fulfilling the crucial role in the larger Story.

When was the last time you took the time to reflect on your role in the Script? You are not a reader, you are part of the narrative. God gives us room to be creative w/ Him, to partner w/ Him as it works towards the larger theme of the Story. I want to know that I'm involved, that my life is in the pages that matter. I want my story to inspire more stories, to have a larger influence than the adventure and time I'm living in.

I thank Him for this realization tonight, but I wonder what His pen will write tommorrow? stay tuned . . .

I can only imagine that families in the devastated portions of Asia are praying this prayer from the end of Psalm 44:

"No, you decided to make us martyrs, lambs assigned for sacrifice each day,
Get up, God! Are you going to sleep all day?
Wake up! Don't you care what happens to us?
Why do you bury your face in the pillow?
Why pretend things are just fine with us?
And here we are - flat on our faces in the dirt,
held down with a boot on our Get up and come to our rescue,
If you love us so much, Help us!" (The Message)

It amazes me that God as Holy Other will take the time to listen to our accusations and pain and care about it. He's patient with our narrow-mindedness and with our limited perspectives. Yet he enters into our pain, cares about our daily mindset and listens to our prayers. In the midst of excruciating suffering, I still believe that He is both good and worthy of worship.


Monday, January 10, 2005

Had a nice full weekend with friends and family. Went out with Joe Long, Paul Mcg. and Craig Spinks on Friday night, took my wife on a date on saturday night and had our monthly OCC Leadership Team meeting on Sunday. In attendance was also Dan Peterson, the exec. director of the MBC (our spiritual family), and it was good to catch up with him as well and report on what we've been up to.

The Body for Life challenge is going great. I'm feeling motivated to eat right, exercise hard and feel better. I'm already "feeling" so much better physically than I did 2 weeks ago and my workouts are getting stronger each time. I can actually monitor my progress which is cool and I'm sleeping soundly so I wake up rested with energy throughout the day. I'm sure I'll have a wall to work through here in my near future, but feeling good today.

I couldn't be more excited for our first annual OCC winter retreat at Camp Burton in Northeast Ohio. About 30 of us are going January 28-30 for a whole family retreat. Its all really geared towards the kids and I'm sure adults will get a lot out of it as well, plus guaranteed quality time with their kids. Our theme is "Super Power Weekend" where we will be having 3 gatherings around that theme. The kids will be dressing like super heroes and we will all be playing in the snow and doing some monster tubing. I'm just thrilled that the entire OCC community made a priority of this to put it on their calendar. We're gonna have such a good time and trust that God will move amongst us as we gather together away from all our distractions to sit at His feet.

Our theme for that weekend comes from II Timothy 1:6-7, "For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of POWER, of love and of self-discipline."

Stop and notice the Kingdom around you today,

Friday, January 07, 2005

Body for Life is going well, I've adjusted to the eating pretty well and the workouts are killing me, giving me that first week soreness. But even with the soreness, I'm feeling better already and that was one of my goals. I'm sleeping more soundly and have energy throughout the day. Sunday is my free day, so Hello pizza pie.

Our basement took on water yesterday due to the failure of our sub pump. Nicki and I spent a romantic evening last night pulling up all the carpet, tearing up the soaking wet padding and lugging it to the garage. We think we can salvage the carpeting and its under the constant attention of fans and dehumidifiers. Oh yeah, and none of the above is covered under insurance. I asked around for any Celtic prayers for flooded basements, but apparently there aren't any.

I must say that I am already sick and tired of self-rigteous preachers so quick to say that the Tsunami in Asia was assuredly the judgment of God upon people who worship idols, worship ancestors, persecute Christians and are living in disobedience. The candor of these proclamations have been incredibly arrogant as if they were so thrilled that God "got" those heathens. I believe that God can and maybe does pronounce judgment on his Creation from time to time for specific reasons, that's not the point. My point is, why are we so quick to point out the speck in their eyes and not even see the log that is in our own? American Christianity sometimes looks eerily similar to Phariseeism. Why are we so quick to judgment? Why are we glad about it? Will we be as happy when we are the object of His judgment? Where is our compassion for all the children of God? Jesus didn't agree with the culture and people of Jerusalem, but he still took the time to weep for them and over them. So as we are ready to pounce on the opportunity to declare the end of the world and all the prophecies of end times are coming to pass, we ought to remember that one of the signs is that the "hearts of many will grow cold". Some in the American Church can look in the mirror and realize that they are a fulfillment of their own obsessions with these prophecies.

The hard work of Christ following is love God and love your neighbor. Let's be about that today.


Wednesday, January 05, 2005


One of my best friends in the world, Al Martin, a brother of mine from Asbury Seminary has just been taken to the hospital with congestive heart failure in Lubbock, Texas. He's a pastor there and has been in the midst of some really cool "God" things in his faith community. He is in his early thirties w/ a wife (Jodie) and young children. Pray for my brother if you would. Lord Jesus heal my friend, I beg of you tonight.


Sunday, January 02, 2005

Gonna change topics here a bit. Jeremy got his own blog, check it out. Charlie can be seen at his blog or his influence at My desire in this conversation is that it would be educational for all and I think it accomplished that. My next hope is that it has an impact in the way we love our neighbors and shape our faith communities.

Christmas vacation is over and now its back to work (boo hoo). I am also trying to get more healthy this year. So I have begun the 12 week Body for Life challenge which will end when our family leaves for Spring Break at the end of March. Its a combination of a balanced carb/protein low-fat diet and 6 cardio/strenght workouts a week. I wanted a plan that I could follow and this fits my lifestyle well so I'm committed. I also am challenging myself to run a 5K in mid-March and possibly a 10K at the beginning of May. These goals help keep me focused cuz it involves competition and well, that's a bit of my nature. I can only hope that if I am more disciplined in my physical life that it will carry over to my spiritual life.

The Bengals ended the season a strong 8-8 with huge expectations for playoffs next year. Coach Marvin Lewis is up for sainthood in my book. Even the Reds are looking to compete this year by spending a little cash for some solid players. But my next hope is that the Eagles can survive the playoffs and reach the Super Bowl where Terrell Owens will be back from injury. We've lost the NFC Championship game the past 3 years, but not this year! Its going to be a Pennsylvania Super Bowl, Steelers vs. Eagles. Good time of year to be a football fan.