Saturday, February 26, 2005

Maybe I've been watching too many movies lately, (Constantine last night and re-watching The Last Samurai now), but the whole idea of war and fighting has been on my mind. I believe that I am not just made of flesh and blood, but that I am also a spiritual person. My battles are not fought in the physical world, but in the spiritual realm and it has direct effects in the physical realm. I believe that the Kingdom of Heaven and the stench of Hell are nearby and at certain times and in certain places, I am more aware of their presence. One of my favorite lines from "Fight Club" is: "Its not until you've lost everything that you are finally free to do anything." War with the Enemy is a one way street, once your in, your in. For whoever puts his hand to plow and looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.

I live at peace with all my neighbors but my heart is at war. I war against pain and hardship, despair and injustice. I war against hate and suffering, evil and my own selfish nature. I long for the day when the coming Kingdom is complete and the war will be over, but for now it wages on. I don't understand a Gospel without a war, I don't understand a Church without an army, I don't understand a pastor who is not a warrior. I don't love the fight, I just understand its reality. The Enemy is here to destroy the work of the Father, but the Kingdom is an unstoppable force. I war for the King.

Fear not for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.


Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Things seem to be stirring within the spiritual realm. Since Saturday night those who were present in prayer or actively in prayer for Palmer have been having dreams, seeing visions, woken in the night to pray, visited by demons and some of us have also manifested some of Palmer's symptoms all while Palmer is feeling well, energetic and hopeful. Things are happening, God is with us and the enemy is all around us. Maybe this is always the way it is but now our sight is just more ardent and clear. Palmer warned us that we were putting ourselves in harms way by entering this battle but I crossed that line a long time ago. I don't fear the enemy nor his schemes, but more than that. I'm not sitting back just waiting to return fire. I am waging war in the spiritual realm that has direct connection to the physical world. Our weapons are love, faith, perseverance, prayer, truth, hope, humility, courage and the resources of an unshakeable Kingdom. We rush to meet our enemy on this field. I will not stop bringing the fight to where I find him. Lord Jesus, bring complete healing to Palmers body.


Monday, February 21, 2005

Body For Life Update:
At the conclusion of week #7, I have lost 25 lbs. and about 2 waist sizes. Strength training is thinning me out and giving me stability for my running. My goal was to run a 5K in March and a 10K in April but I'm pretty far ahead of schedule so the plan has changed. I will be running a 10K on March 12, a 15k on April 3 and a half marathon (13.1 miles) on May 1. This is a very aggressive plan but its just right to keep me focused.

Tonight I did something I've never done before. I ran 5 1/2 miles. I've been running 3 miles, 3 times a week for a few weeks so I just about doubled it tonight. Its a little over an hour of running for my big frame and I almost stepped on a skunk, but all is well. Looking forward to a couple days of rest until the next run but its definitely a feeling of accomplishment.

Its amazing how much my physical progress has affected me spiritually. Winning some physical battles has energized me for winning spiritual battles. I have a lot more energy for serving, teaching, thinking, loving, leading etc. I think I'm a better husband because I have more energy to help around the house and lighten the burden for my wife. I notice that I am playing more with my kids and my confidence being up in front teaching has increased. In addition, I'm sleeping well and that affects everything. If any of you are looking for a plan to make some positive changes in your physical life, I highly reccomend Body for Life. Its not rocket science and its not a magic pill, but its a good plan.


Sunday, February 20, 2005

Last night was, well, special. Shared a common meal with many like-minded folk at the Brownhouse, thanks once again to the Rains for their hospitality. Around 6:30 we moved upstairs to a more private room and had a time of listening, worshipping, annointing, proclaiming, Scripture reading, declaring, loving, speaking, seeing, believing, hoping and healing for Palmer. Those present were the Palmers, Klinefelter, Brocks (thanks for the worship), Mcgillivary, Johnsons, Rains, Creech, Beans, Kenny O and myself. It was an intimate, holy time. The presence of our King was powerful and we sought to bear the burden of our brother. While my hands were on Palmer, I received a vision/word from God that was as clear as any I've ever received. It was re: his healing and it seemed to connect with him in a way that only God can orchestrate. The vision alone had me in tears, then when I opened my eyes, I looked down and the physically challenged Kenny O was under me kissing Palmer's feet. Friends, it was holy ground.

After we finished praying, Palmer took the opportunity to say a few words, but make no mistake about it, it was a Kingdom teaching, I'm still chewing on it. He spoke of our physical war against the Kingdom of Darkness and our inter-connectedness in that war. That prayer and our spiritual disciplines are not just abstract concepts that we practice "out there", but they are the real work of battle day in and day out in a War that we sometimes don't admitt that we are in. He was animate about pointing out that nights like this aren't just "neat" to be a part of, they are neccesary if we want to win this war, and for that night, it was a victory. There are many people who are enthusiastic in their initial experiences of this war, but the day in and day out battles is the true test of a solider.

Last night was special, today is a new day, its time to battle again. Do not give up praying for Palmer's complete healing.


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

I want to thank everyone who joined us in our solidarity to blog for Palmer today. The intent was very simple, to encourage the big man up in Columbus and to expose more people to the need to pray. Creech came up with the button for the blogs and that is now the official symbol of our movement :) Go to Palmer's blog and read what a great day he had, let's keep this kind of thing going.

I had a really long day, one of those 14 hour work days. Taught my 7 classes at school, led both the jr. high and sr. high weekly chapels, worked out, got home for 1/2 hour to change and eat dinner then to Indiana Wesleyan for a couple hours of a night job helping them with financial aid. I do this to have the opportunity to lead a simple church. One where it is not my vocation but my gifting and passion. Its not so much the sometimes long hours to make it all work that discourage me, its that OCC tends to get what's left of me and a lot of days that just isn't much. I can tell that atleast for the coming year that I will be teaching very sporadically at IWU in night classes so I applied to Mount Vernon Nazarene University tonight as well as adjunct faculty in education and biblical studies. Just trying to increase my chances of earning extra $ teaching. I figure if 4 jobs isn't enough, 5 has to be closer. Maybe my day job teaching gig will pony up the $ this year so I can cease the evening work and put some more time back into OCC. This is the challenge of being a bi-vocational pastor, but it is still the set of problems that I would rather have.

In order to chill tonight, I sat in my room, turned off the lights, lit some candles and played the DVD "U2 Live from Slane Castle". That'll do the trick everytime. I'll admitt that I'm a Bono freak. I think he's brilliant and secretly wish I was him. His artistry, passion and faith are qualities I want in me. He longs for Kingdom Come and won't accept counterfeits. One of my favorite quotes of his is "I'm a Christian, but sometimes I feel very removed from Christianity." Yeah, Bono, I know what you mean.

I have a Declaration to make: Today is February 16, 2004 year of our Lord and it is officially "Blogging for Palmer" Day! We are as a Body asking our Creator for a complete healing of Palmers Body.
Your brothers and sisters are with you. You, Amy, Micah and Landing Place are in our hearts.

Palmer, this is my covenant to you:
For as long as it is needed I will pray,
For as long as it is needed I will listen,
For as long as it is needed I will believe,
For as long as it is needed I will hope,
For as long as it is needed I will proclaim,
For as long as it is needed I will come alongside,
For as long as it is needed I will walk with you,
For as long as it is needed I will call others to pray,
For as long as eternity, I will experience Kingdom brotherhood with you.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, this is my covenant to you.

I invite the readers out there to post your prayers and words for Palmer today, may they fill him w/ hope.

Enjoy Blogging for Palmer day!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

10 things I love about life right now: (in no particular order)

1) Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and I'm going on 12 years of happy marriage, that doesn't suck.
2) I have solo kid duty from Friday through Tuesday coming up (Nicki in Florida), it'll be a lot of work but its also a lot of floor time with my kids.
3) Pitchers and Catchers report to Spring Training this week. Go Reds!
4) I've lost 21 lbs. in 6 weeks on Body for Life and I'm really liking the plan, its becoming a good habit.
5) I'm on schedule for my training to run a 5K on March 12 and a 10K on April 30.
6) I piece together 4 different jobs to make a living but I'm passionate about atleast 3 of them and am thankful for God's provision.
7) The Church continues to emerge in all its forms and contexts. It isn't always pretty, sometimes messy, but its evident that the Spirit of God on earth cannot be shut up.
8) I think I'm going to India and Germany this summer for 2 weeks and will bring Alison, my oldest daughter, with me for a formative shaping of her worldview.
9) My iPod rules! It may be the best Christmas present I've ever received, not including the Christmas I got my first Huffy bike.
10) My life is loaded with great friendships, They have depth and intimacy. I'm not alone, ever. I live in the reality of community. that rocks hizzy.


Friday, February 11, 2005

Here's a word from Luke 7 after Jesus had done some amazing healings:
"They all realized they were in a place of holy mystery, that God was at work among them. They were quietly worshipful - and then noisily grateful, calling out among themselves. 'God is back, looking to the needs of his people!' The news of Jesus spread through the country." (The Message)

God, bring to Palmer a place of holy mystery today and heal his body throughout. Amen.

The Kingdom is all around us, just waiting to be seen and experienced. Its waiting to transform us from self-absorbed living to the kind of living that is holy other. Its waiting to use us to destroy the enemy's work today. Its waiting to proclaim through us the hope of a Kingdom come and invite others into that experience. God is at work amongst His people.

Stop and notice the Kingdom around you today,

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Sometimes being a teacher makes me sad. Being a high school Bible teacher, I inherit 143 young minds/hearts everyday coming from a myriad of theological backgrounds and upbringings. Its like seeing a cross-section of midwest evangelicalism: the good, the bad and the ugly. What makes me sad though is that by the ages of 16, 17 and 18, they have lost the awe and the mystery of the Script. Only some of them are rebellious, angry or indifferent. Some have a faith that has the depth of the Christian industry/sub-culture that is sold to them (i.e. attend the most exciting youth group, listen to only christian music and read Left Behind novels = their trinitarian theology). Some are bruised, beaten and defeated by painful home lives and having been caught in the crossfire of so many adult battles, they are brought here for the Christian school to hopefully make them right. The last category are the intuitive ones. They are searching after the real truth and won't accept a counterfeit. They ask a lot of questions, engage in discussions and seek to learn vs. getting a good grade. They seem to realize that parts of Christendom are nothing more than hype, marketing and systems of religiosity, while other streams of Christendom lead them to the truth they are desperately seeking.

What makes me sad is that we adults tend to systematize the mystery. We are always trying to get them to memorize the conclusions and don't let them feel engaged in the mystery of God. Our approaches to control them are all left brained and linear, while Jesus tended to teach in parables to engage the right side of the brain. We are teaching their minds, but we haven't captured their hearts. And then they graduate and are propelled into a world of other kingdoms to try because they never had a chance to taste the real Kingdom.

And so I find myself in a place of influence. In a week, I am leading chapel. How will I capture their hearts with the mystery of God? I have been chosen to give the commencement address at graduation this year. How will I send them out in the power of the real Kingdom? I have each day to teach. How can I be one who proclaims the mystery of the Truth and incarnate it in a real person? This is one of my present callings.

On a side note, I am praying over an invitation I received yesterday to teach at a seminary in India this summer. It would be for 2-3 weeks and I'm not sure I can be away from my family that long . . . but I sure would like to travel India :)

Stop and notice the Kingdom amongst you today,

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Are you supposed to cry on your drive to work? I'm being flooded with intense emotions but I have to suck it up and get to work, no space for solitude. I guess that's how the story goes today.

Was listening to these lyrics from Coldplay as I drove:
The Scientist
I was just guessing at numbers and figures,
Pulling your puzzles apart.
Questions of science, science and progress,
Do not speak as loud as my heart.

Tell me you love me, come back and haunt me,
Oh and I rush to the start.
Running in circles, chasing tails,
And coming back as we are.

Nobody said it was easy,
It's such a shame for us to part.
Nobody said it was easy,
Noone ever said it would be so hard.

I'm going back to the start.

This passage struck me today from Matthew 10:
"What's the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail - even numbering the hairs on your head! So don't be initmidated by all this bully talk. You're worth more than a million canaries." (The Message)

I really hope these words are true today . . .


Monday, February 07, 2005

before I wallow in my immaturity, I'm over the Eagles loss and moving on. I just really had a great time with everybody at our party so it eased my pain quite a bit. Its now time to think about pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training and if my Xavier Musketeers can beat UC this week.

The second reason I have to snap out of it is because there are real needs out there like Palmer who starts chemo today. Lord, Jesus, heal his body and empower him for the journey this week, our hearts ache for you to be glorified in his healing. Hear our prayers.

I'm kind of wrestling today with job issues, being a bi-vocational pastor can really takes its toll on you sometimes. I'm feeling very stretched, a little overwhelmed, a bit discouraged and sometimes trapped. But my kids have never gone hungry and for this I should be thankful.


Sunday, February 06, 2005

Patriots 24 Eagles 21
I'm depressed . . . I don't feel like breathing . . .
Ok, today is "D-day" for the Eagles. The whole world is picking against them which should make them good and angry. I am a Bengals fan first and foremost but my Philadelphia roots are pretty strong too. I'll be preparing for our Super Bowl party most of the day today, having a big crowd coming over. This is just a good excuse for community time. We are watching Rocky 2 for pre-game Philly inspiration so here's another scene to get you in the mood.

Setting: Rocky's new wife Adrian has been in a coma since delivering their newborn son. Before she went into premature labor, they had a marital fight over Rocky not fighting Apollo Creed for the heavyweight title lest he get really hurt and lose his sight which happened in his first fight w/ Creed. Rocky has been spendng his time in the hospital chapel praying for her recovery and refused to see the baby until he saw him w/ Adrian. Rocky spends night and day at Adrian's bedside and decided to drop out of the fight and give in to Adrian's request. But . . . that's until Adrian came out of her coma . . .
Adrian now awake with newborn son in arms comes the following dialogue:

Rocky: Yo Adrian, I was thinking, you know I don't have to fight Apollo, I'm thinking I'm gonna cancel this fight and just spend some time w/ you and the baby and make sure your okay.
Adrian: Rocky, shh, shh, there's one thing I want you to do for me. Come here, closer
Rocky leaning close to Adrian over her hospital bed: What Adrian? What do you want me to do?
Adrian looking into Rocky's eyes: win . . . WIN!!!!!
Rocky sits up from the bed with his marching orders, his trainer Mickey is in the room and screams "WELL WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?????????"

Insert Rocky Theme here and fade into the best 10 minutes in film history, Rocky training to fight Creed, running up the stairs of the Philadelphia Art Museum with a thousand kids jumping around him, the whole city of Philly was behind him and of course he won in dramatic fashion. Well, I predict the Eagles win in dramatic fashion too today.
Eagles 27 Patriots 24

Its all about the eye of the tiger . . . time to get my game face on.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

I'm at the point in my teaching curriculum with seniors this year where we are studying post-Reformation theologies such as Calvinism, Arminianism and the new comer to the block, the open view of God. I always like talking with teenagers over these topics because they only care in so much as it matters to them and don't carry the pride of knowledge as in pastor circles. This whole conversation became healthy reminder to me that the large majority of evangelical church has bought, hook, line and sinker a reduced gospel. One that is only about atonement, forgiveness and where we go when we die. It doesn't matter that the discipleship language of the New Testament is dominantly in the Greek present tense of continuous action. We are called to be followers of Christ and become the people of God, not just get saved. Our reduced theologies have no responsibility for personal or communal spiritual formation. We've so systematized it that we've lost the wonder of the Story that we are a part of.

The Gospel of the Kingdom is that it is accessible now. I love this quote from Willard's Divine Conspiracy by Muggeridge:
"Jesus' good news then, was that the Kingdom of God had come, and that he, Jesus, was its herald and expounder to men. More than that, in some special, mysterious way, he was the Kingdom." -Malcom Muggeridge Jesus; The Man Who Lives.

I don't want to only bring critique to a church at large that has stripped the Gospel of its power for now, I also want to first look inward. I can articulate Kingdom now, teach it, write it, believe it . . . but do I live in its reality? It has direct implications to who I am and who I'm becoming. I want to walk in the power of the Resurrection now and display that power to the needs of people to the glory of God. Kingdom now is the most practical theology for real life and I want to live it and proclaim it so that others can taste of its goodness.

Stop and notice the Kingdom around you today,

Thursday, February 03, 2005

I talked to Palmer yesterday and he begins his treatments on Monday and it will be 5 days a week for 6 weeks. We are hoping, depending on how he feels, to have him down here in the Nati at the Brownhouse on the evening of Feb. 18 or 19 so that we can do some concentrated prayer for a complete healing. Let me know if you could be here for one of those evenings and we'll get down to business.

Body for Life is rockin' and rollin', doing better all the time. I've lost 18lbs. now in 5 1/2 weeks and I'm still picking up momentum. I'm over halfway to my 12 week goal so I'm pretty stoked.

I'm also stoked about my Super Bowl party on Sunday, if your within ear's shot of this, your invited. Just a reason to get together and have a party and oh yes, it has a Philly theme. E - A - G - L - E - S . . . EAGLES!!!