Thursday, March 24, 2005

Spring Break is upon us

At 2:54 p.m. our Spring Break begins. By 4:33 p.m. we will be pulling out of our driveway for a trek southwards to the great state of Florida. We're staying in Orlando at a condo for 7 nights and visiting Universal Studios. I'm looking forward to a great time with the family but not the 15 hour drive. We are driving through the night to beat traffic and travel while the kids are sleeping so pray for us to be attentive and alert. I loaded up my ipod last night and even downloaded the NT Message on it for some Scripture time. We'll be back in time for my next race which is a 15K (9.3 miles) on April 3.

I have my ipod and itrip all ready and also my laptop w/ Creature II speakers as a DVD player for the kids. We've rented a Tahoe for the trip and will be turning it into a roving DJ home theatre.

Most of all in this time off, I'm wanting to reflect on the suffering of my Christ. Like Apostle Paul, I want to know him personally and the power of His Resurrection. I'll be bringing my Celtic Daily Prayer for us to reflect on in the evenings together as a family.

He is Risen!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Some guy popped "the question" on me

I shadowed another High School Bible teacher yesterday at an independent Baptist School in Kentucky. Our school is moving to block scheduling next year so we're observing to see the longer class times in action. Let's just say that this guy's style and philosophy of teaching is quite opposite of mine. They are a strict dispensational theology school, I didn't know those kind still existed :)

So in the first 30 minutes of conversation, it was inevitable in this atmosphere that he would pop me "the question". "So Chris, are you premillenial then?" I didn't know outside of 1974 that people still asked this question. Are you kidding me? This was before he knew if I was married or had kids. This question comes before, so Chris, you follow Jesus? The important question seems to be if I have the whole Bible broken down into scientific dissections of time and micro-theologies so as to have absolute knowledge which must mean sound doctrine. I just don't get it. I should laugh, I should cry, I should just move on.

peace to your day,

Sunday, March 20, 2005

11 miles and counting

I just completed an 11 mile training run. I'm not sure if I should feel good about myself or have my head checked. It was really hard. Anything after 7 miles for me just feels like pain and isn't fun right now. We'll see if that gets any better.

Today is a holiday for me, its fantasy baseball draft day, doesn't get better than that.


Friday, March 18, 2005

A night St. Patrick would be proud of

Last night was therapeutic for me, so much laughter just released the stress of the week. It was an honorable fellowship represented by Creech, Brandon, Klinefelter, Canipe, Johnson, Rains and myself. A Pope action-figure had center stage at our table and drew rave reviews from the many inebriated patrons of the Dubliner. I got accosted in the restroom for wearing my London Underground shirt on St. Patrick's Day in an Irish pub by a looney Irishman. I think he wanted to harm me, but it was hard to decipher in between the f-bombs he was throwing. I let him know that my lineage runs through Belfast and I wasn't afraid to show my affiliations. It was then that women started coming into the Men's restroom because the line in their restroom had reached an unbearable point. So I guess I was off the hook.

Around some coffee and dessert later in the evening, we had a pretty compelling conversation about the nature of organizations and servant leadership. Structurally, what did Jesus mean when he called us to be a "diaknos"? And do we take that call seriously even to the point it hurts? I got some things off my chest and found them on welcomed ears of brotherhood. I love my friendships with these guys. I honor and respect their gifts, leadership, minds, hearts, actions, communities, theology and their love for me and one another. This was a Kingdom evening that came just in time. I am so blessed.

Stop and Notice the Kingdom amongst you today,

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Wearing Protestant Orange

I grew up in Irish-Catholic neighborhoods in Philly and my family heritage goes back through Belfast in Northern Ireland as militant Protestant Irishmen. If any of us was caught by my grandmother out wearing green on St. Patricks Day, we were ordered to go back inside and change and put on our orange. So today I am wearing my orange to honor my grandmother who passed this year.

Im just being humorous with my colors today, but it is a sad reality of the violence between Protestants and Catholics in Ireland and beyond. "Broken bottles under children's feet . . . " the lads from U2 have protested these tragedies through their music for years. I am pro-peace, which is the stance of Christ, period.

St. Patrick I would say is in my top 5 of influential people in my life. His approach to church planting and being missional fundamentally changed the way I do ministry. I honor him today, his courage and his heart and his God.


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

New RSS Feed

Note: I have switched my rss feed from atom to feedburner. If you are currently subscribing to my feed, please resubscribe using the new feed. Click the icon on the right sidebar for more information. Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. Also, if you are using Firefox and want to subscribe to this feed - you can go to Paul McGillivary's Tech blog, PaulTech, to see a short tutorial on how to do that.

When the gospel isn't the Gospel

You know I have been accurately criticized in the past for being angry, reactive, overly emotional, arrogant, boat rocker etc. etc. etc. I once was a poster child for an evangelical leader and through various scenarios, I became depressed when I discerned that it was all maybe a lie. That the Gospel of Christ that I found so compelling was actually different altogether from the system I found myself in. I wasn't trying to be critical or judgmental, the whole situation leveled me to the core and I felt pain more than anger initially.

Anger came later but being responsible under God, I tried to balance my anger/deconstruction with real hope/construction. I didn't want to sit around and complain, I wanted to create the community that could embody what I thought the Gospel was about. So I fired myself from a vocational pastor position but was left with few options for working for a living. I wasn't sure how else to make it work so I took a job at a Christian High School and believing that it would help me process my anger and pain.

In many ways it has, giving me a platform to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom in the way that I understand it and within the context of real, ongoing relationship. But my hope has taken a tumble. In a situation I tried to stand up for what I believe the Gospel to be about and it was rejected by the administration above me. I can't share details but its a blow to my recovery in my cynicism. Sometimes I feel like it is all a lie. Sometimes I have no idea what we are claiming to be about. Sometimes I realize that the Gospel just doesn't work in top-down institutions where the law is easier to govern by.

I can't separate my heart from the Gospel I teach. It has no power if its only an academic subject. And if its just an academic subject then I am a whore, a sell out to the purity of the truths of Christ and His Gospel of reconciliation. I feel like I represent a lie, it makes me sick to continue today. Sorry for the gloomy blog today.


Monday, March 14, 2005

From - Nova

elegant universe
Finally crossed something off of my to-do list. I watched the 3 hours of streaming video off of the Nova site regarding "String Theory" or Einstein's hunches that a theory of everything exists. The link to the videos is above. I am poor in math and science but the theory fascinates me. It suggests the mathematical realities of parallel universes and hidden extra dimensions. I wonder if they are stumbling into the physical reality of the spiritual realm. I believe that the fullness of Kingdom (our historic view of heaven) is not a realm far away in the sky but actualling a dimension near to us that is acceisble through the spiirtual disciplines. String theory seems to be dabbling into such ideas that are not new at all to anyone who follows the Script of Yahweh's Creation.

They think they have gotten closer to explaining the nature of the Big Bang but still can't account for where the particles or membranes came from that exploded. They reject the idea that something came nothing which is logical. They also reject the idea that whatever put the particles there must have pre-existence or be eternal. They are no closer to explaining the origin of the universe as they ever have been. I still find it all very fascinating and I learned a lot.

The series is called "Elegant Universe" and they agree that it is made up of incredible design. Then why is it so hard to believe that it was made by an intelligent designer who was the uncaused Cause to all things? His Revelation of Himself is the Theory of Everything. Its a metanarrative that makes sense and answers my deepest longings. For now, I'll so some more researching on string theory.


Sunday, March 13, 2005

Got the internet results of the race yesterday, I finished 101 out of 135 10K runners, and in the 30-35 year old age bracket, I finished 6th out of 6 :) However, I think I finished 1st in the super heavyweight division if they had one. And I figure I finished in front of the other 300,000 30-35 year olds in the area who were home waking up from their hangover or having a donut breakfast. (mmmmm . . . donuts) God did not make me a long-distance runner, he made me as a linebacker who can run with a little discipline. :)

peace to your sabbath day,

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Ran my first race today, the Emerald Miles 10K run (6.2 miles). It was a fun atmosphere, just getting a feel of the enviorment for these local races. There are real runners and then there are the rest of us. My goal was to finish with a total time of 1 hour 13 min. or so. Well, we had the wind at our back for the last stretch and everything felt good, I finished at 1 hour 5 min. That was fun, running past the Reds and Bengals stadiums and along the Ohio River. This is the 1st step towards the Flying Pig 1/2 marathon on May 1. That is the finish line I am shooting for. I just read over that course and it has a 2 1/2 mile steep uphill portion to the top of a peak in the Nati. Let's just say that my training has just begun if I'm going to conquer that kind of giant. I love a competitive challenge and I have my hands full.

peace to you this weekend,

Friday, March 11, 2005

Ok, I would like to now cover a few really important issues:

1) UC lost in their 1st game of their own conference tournament . . . ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha etc. etc. etc. Moving to the Big East next year should crush them.

2) My Xavier Musketeers (let's give some love to our Jesuit Christian brothers) are playing at their highest level of the year, everything is clicking. We need to win today and tommorrow to make it into the Big Dance and we wanna go dancing really bad. Go X!!!

3) About a month away from the NFL draft and into the free agency season and Marvin Lewis is showing himself to be masterful once again. Building with what we have, being patient and waiting for the market to come down to sign not one overpriced guy, but a few bargains as he's done in the past. He's a non-conforming genius. Come draft day, I know that he will do the right thing with a plan in mind and that's all we can ask for. Coach Marvin is getting to legendary status in my mind. Bengals are heading to the playoffs in 2005.

4) There is a lot of hope surrounding the Reds this year and for good reason. The offense looks stacked, the starting pitching is very improved and the bullpen doesn't have a weakness. For the first time in atleast 4 years, I'm genuinely excited about baseball starting because of the Reds. We have none of those moron steroid users, our boyz are au naturale. You can tell by looking at them, they are just pure ball players. Its about time to move out the cold and bring home the boys of summer.

5) I'm running my 1st race tommorrow. Its a 10K in downtown Cincy to support Leukemia charities. Im wrestling with a cold so Im giving my body the whole day off today from any exercising. My body definitely feels less thatn 100% but hopefully I can work through any fatigue. The worse part is that we are expecting 1-3 inches of snow overnight and it may be below 30 degrees during the run. Geesh, nice conditions for my first race. The only upside is that its the same conditions I've been training in. I can't wait to get to Florida in less than 2 weeks and run in the warm sun.

ok, enough of the important stuff, peace of Christ unto your day/weekend.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I wanted to thank those of you who took the time to pray for me and encourage me today, it worked :) As the day grew on, my countenance just lifted.

I had a couple of those kind of "off the cuff" conversations with some students today during class that makes teaching worth it sometimes. They wanted to know about my views on heaven, hell and the realm of eternity. And after I finished explaining it the way I've undsterstood them (thank you N.T. Wright and Willard) one student sat back and said: "now, that is cool" and another one said: "your view has a lot of implications for the way we live now" (amen, amen, amen) and a 3rd student said: "its a good thing I took a nap in the last class because I was able to understand atleast 50% of what you just said." I love these kind of exchanges with teenagers, its very satisfying.

Tonight at house church while reflecting during a song on the theme of lent and why Christ took the time to get on a horrific cross for us. During the song, I just felt incredibly loved by God. You can't manufacture that kind of reflection, it just happens to you. It was like the joy of my salvation came rushing back as the time I received it at 17. Then we discussed the narrative of the demon posessed man and the herd of pigs in Matthew 8 and it was a great interaction. It recounted for me the enemy that we face and why I'm driven to have my boot in his teeth. Our King has Supreme power and we have nothing to fear. Let's keep this fight going.

I love my spiritual community and that includes all of you out there in blogdom that has my back. We are one, one Spirit, one baptism, one Faith. You have given me the experience of Kingdom Come today.

my heart is really heavy today, didn't sleep much. I have war happening on atleast 5 different fronts. I really am not at liberty to share on any of them but it is really weighing me down. But it is what it is, its war. Some of it is deeply personal and I don't hide my emotions well. Pray on, press on, show up in the fight today.

On a positive note, after week #9 of Body for Life I have lost 32 lbs. and I ran 9.4 miles on Sunday. Im training for a 10K this sat., a 15K in april and a 1/2 marathon on May 1. The big goal is to run the full Columbus marathon on October 16. The battle to lose the weight and keep it off is a lifetime goal.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Sometimes You Can't Make it On Your Own, U2

Tough, you think you’ve got the stuff
You’re telling me and anyone
You’re hard enough

You don’t have to put up a fight
You don’t have to always be right
Let me take some of the punches
For you tonight

Listen to me now
I need to let you know
You don’t have to go it alone

The calling to be a pastor has been likened to being like a shepherd. Tonight I am absolutely heartbroken over one of my sheep. I don't know which way this person will choose. But I want them to know that they don't have to go it alone, that I will be committed to shepherding them to the very end. That I will lead them to the Good Shepherd who makes all things new. That if I smell even a hint of the wolf around, I will put my foot on its neck til it stops breathing. I'm not sure if this sheep thinks it can do it on its own, but I know they can't. I don't know if this sheep will let us carry it, but that's what it needs. Pride has been the downfall of many a person, but I don't want it on my watch. I don't know which way the sheep will choose, and it breaks my heart tonight. None of us have to go it alone, ever.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

And so, I saw a vision. It just happened. Friends, we're at war, and its raging. Here's what I saw:

"I was walking at night in a cemetery, I was alone, it was dark, it was cold and the stench of death was all around me. Cement gravestones, cracked tombs with vines growing intertwined all around them, there was no color, everything was in black and white. I was drawn to one particular gravestone in the shape of a cross, it was leaning over like someone had tripped over it. I was standing before it and I looked to the dark night sky and there were what seemed to be spirits of death soaring over me. They were flying in every direction, active in the night. Then I realized that I was no longer standing, but kneeling before this grave. And courage was welling up within me and I screamed into the night a cry of willingness. I looked around a 2nd time and I wasn't alone, in the distance I could many of you kneeling before similar stones crying out to the night. I saw Keck, I saw Bean, I saw Arlen, I saw Joe Long etc. etc. I saw as far as the eye could see saints crying into the darkness and it didn't seem so dark anymore. And then I awoke."

We are all interconnected in this war, we need each other, we need to cry louder, we need to keep our swords at our sides, we need to bring the fight to the enemy with zero fear, we need to meet him, we must not back down, we will win this fight, but we must prepare ouselves and bring it everyday. We are never alone, never. Rain down your HOPE oh Lord, rain down your hope.

I have come to realize that the enemy has been actively seeking to destroy the work that God has been doing through Ordinary Community Church. Seeking to steal, kill and destroy. Its not that he has infiltrated our camp, its that we moved into the same neighborhood. It is indistinguishable our territory from his. We are at close quarters and the stakes have never been higher for us. Well, I'm here tonight to say in the words of Doc Hollywood, "I'm your huckleberry". (thanks Keck)

If you want a piece of my spiritual family than you can come through me. If you want deeper influence, then your going to have to take it from me personally. If you want what is not yours, then your going to fight for it. We walk in the power of the ressurrection and we fear you not. I'm going to sleep well tonight unless Abba wakes me up to pray and then I'll take my orders from Him. Whatever He commands I will do, I know no other way, He holds the words of life. When I awake in the morning, I will be back you slimy bastard. And come death or Kingdom Come in fullness, I will bring the fight to your doorstep. You see, my cries have been heard tonight and its in Him I trust.

Remember the scene in Braveheart after Wallace's big speech in full warrior gear at the battle of Stirling. He turns to his inner circle and they say "Where are you going?" Wallace responds: "I'm going to pick a fight." Then they turn to each other and one says "Well . . . atleast we didn't get dressed up for nothing." Those words have never been so true.

Friends, bring the fight to your particular context, and don't relent. I'll see you on the field.
A new bro has started blogging, welcome my friend Jon Allis.
"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. . . Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love each other, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." -I John 4:7-8, 11-12

I am saddened today to hear of more news of students who have chosen not to become Apprentices of Jesus because of their experiences with other "Christians". Frankly, sometimes in this Christian School atmosphere, Love takes a backseat to legalistic discipline. The message we send is "look" right, not live rightly. But that's not what upsets me. What upsets me is our lack of love. I'm not talking about mushy feeling love, I'm talking the kind of love that turns the other cheek in the midst of adversity. I'm talking about the kind of love that gladly gives up their life for another. I'm talking about the kind of love that sees no prejudice. I'm talking about the kind of love that comes from a heart that has been transformed. Dallas Willard calls it a heart that has become rennovated. Is that what Paul meant when he said to become "complete" or "mature"? This love comes out of a disciplined life of denying self. This love comes from what Nouwen calls "becoming irrelevant" so that we are finally free to love our neighbor.

A lack of extravagant love grieves my heart. May I not be today what I grieve. May the Love of God flow through me.

Stop and notice the Kingdom amongst you today,