Saturday, April 30, 2005

Game face is on

Got my race bag packed and my clothes laid out, its time to get a few hours rest because the 4:15 a.m. alarm will come soon. I feel as ready as I can be. I have never completed 13 miles so I'm looking forward to accomplishing this distance for the 1st time. There are a lot of hills and 7 thousand other runners which is intimidating, but it will be sunrise in some of the most scenic parts of the Nati so that part I'm looking forward to. Palmer and Amy will be at the finish line and it will be pretty sweet to see them there.

I wanted to thank all of you for your prayers and financial support of this run. Your encouragement is much appreciated. I have a sign on the back of my shirt that says "I'm running for Palmer . . . Not Alone". I am running on behalf of all of you that take our Kingdom kind of community seriously. Much love and Godspeed.


Thursday, April 28, 2005

Reading for Palmer

And the River keeps flowing. Check out Doulos Christou books for another great way to support Palmer and get some amazing books at the same time. I'm definitely getting in on some of these. Check the link if you love books and love Palmer.


I'm back . . .

The more I ate yesterday, the better I started to feel. Then as I awoke this morning, all feels well, 100%. Talked to Palmer last night and found out that him and Amy are planning on attending the race and will be at the finish line, that's all the motivation I need. So I am no longer feeling trepidation or fear about the hills on this race, rather I say "bring those bad boyz on!" Had the Ipod shuffling going in my truck this morning and as I pulled into the school parking lot the Rocky Theme song came on . . . . I am back and ready to run.

The donations continue to pour in, it seems that the Cincinnati Enquirer story may run on the front page and the Kingdom continues to come amongst us.


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

In the land of the half-living

What's better than 2 days of stomach flu? 4 days of stomach flu. It completely knocked me down and I am back to work today working at about 50% capacity. My strength is drained, my head is somewhere in a deep haze and my body temperature changes every 10 minutes. Other than that, its good to be back :)

I'm a little blown away at the generosity of those who are giving to Palmer's need. We are receiving donations from all over the world from people who mostly have never met him but have been moved by his situation. Some of you have given even though you had nothing to give. I got to school today after I was out the past couple days and found a coffee can full of change and cash that my students have been passing around to do their part. The Kingdom rolls on.

I have 4 days now to try and recover strength, stamina and lots of water.


Sunday, April 24, 2005

T minus one week

Its one week until the big race and how did I prepare myself this weekend? I have spent 2 days on the couch dealing w/ a nasty stomach flu. I am not having any fun and won't be at school tommorrow either, one more day and hopefully I'll be back at it.

In trying to raise awareness for Palmer's need, the Cincinnat Enquirer has decided to do an article of me running for Palmer. Its supposed to run in the paper next Saturday, the day before the race. They are coming to take some photos this week. I think they find it a compelling human story. Just wanting to see if we can do all we can to raise some funds cuz Palmer needs a Kingdom break. As well, kids from our house church are collecting pledges for their own walk-a-thon for Palmer. They are really excited about it and want to contribute.

Jesus, we depend on you, we have no other.


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Running for Palmer . . . Not Alone

Come 6:30 a.m. on May 1. I will be running for Palmer so that he knows that he is not alone. I will run the 1/2 marathon of the Flying Pig in Cincinnati with a sign that says exactly that. And I am raising support donations for Palmer because of his condition and treatments, he will have medical bills in excess of $75K and his insurance will not cover it. Most of you know his story and it is just more and more testing of our fortitude. I will run 13.1 miles and pray for his healing. Please consider helping us out with a financial gift. We will be posting a paypal opportunity that is set aside specifically for his medical bills. More information will be coming.

Running for Palmer . . . Not Alone.

Where are the streets of gold?

I've been reflecting a lot lately on the realities of life after death and the nature of that passage. In my senior Bible courses we've discussed how Heaven is not so much a place of gold where we go someday but a state of being in perfect communion with God. And that hell is less of a place of flaming flesh but an agonizing state of alienation from God and one another, in this state God gives us over to our sinful selves who have chosen death over Him.

Its become abundantly clear to me that if you take intimate relationship with the Creator out of the construct of our theology of Him then we are left with lifeless religion or vain superstitions. "Now this is eternal life: that they may KNOW you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." (John 17:3). Its not about hanging on til Jesus comes back, its not about living in consumeristic idol worship til we go to the "by and by" someday, its about intimacy with Him. He knows us and has made Himself known to us. He invites us to come to Him, He invites us to His table . . . not later but NOW. Now is the KNOWING.

I believe that the "later" part that is yet to come after this life is the completeness of what we now experience. Then is fullness, now is glimpses. Then we'll see clearly, now we see dimly. But now we see better day by day as we are in relationship w/ Him. His Kingdom is accessed through this relationship, I don't believe there are any other gates. I want to taste it today and long for its completeness.

I'm walking on streets of gold already in Him.

Please pray for my bro, Palmer. Abba, we need you.


Friday, April 15, 2005

Somebody start shoutin'

My drive to work is sometimes just plain dangerous. Some mornings it just all hits me. All of it. That I am a child of a God who stands outside of time and space and all the while pursues me with an intimacy that makes life worth living. That He is completely and Holy "other". I get overwhelmed w/ Grace, I get overwhelmed w/ the unfettered power of God, I get overwhelmed w/ His manifest presence . . . I get overwhelmed in my senses as a mortal in the presence of Eternal and Almighty.

It all makes me just start shoutin'! I cry, I weep, I am vulnerable before Him. He is my all. I don't have eloquent things to say in that time with the exception of "thank you, thank you, thank you". He is everything and He is enough.

I want the unadulterated power and presence of Christ to spill over into my students today. I want burning coals for their lips. I want burning coals for the places that ail them. I want Truth to divide hearts like a sword. I want deliverance of the Enemy from their lives.

Enemy, yes, once again I have felt your presence and now I can see your eyes. I don't fear you. You don't move me. I won't shut up. I won't be silent. I will not give up. I am not alone. I oppose you and I will get my orders today to disrupt your plans. The mountains tremble with a whisper from the King this morning, and I am all ears.

its time for the saints to start shoutin'


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

En Fuego

Sometimes it seems that I have to be really still, disciplined and attentive to notice the Kingdom around me. That has nothing to do with the Kingdom, but rather just my distracted heart, restless spirit and the pursuit of my fleshly desires. All of that affects my vision.

Then there are times that I seem to be in presently. The Kingdom seems to be stoked around me where the heat is warming my days. Opportunities to proclaim that Kingdom Come seem to be following my brother-in-law's healing. There is a stirring to start a couple new house churches designed around specific life stages with make-up of these groups being Kingdom outsiders or those considering walking away from Christianity. Well, that demographic group happens to be my passion area and isn't it like God to match up our giftings with opportunities for Him to work.

We go through seasons in life. Seasons of sowing and seasons of reaping. OCC appears to be on the brink of a season of reaping. In the words of Jamie Minniear from my house church, "Let's get a little freaky with this God thing". Let's heal marriages, let's heal broken bodies, let's mend bruised souls, let's worship w/ primal urgency, let's teach w/ prophetic insight, let's reach out w/ extravagant love, let's pray unceasingly, let's proclaim hope in dark places, let's invite others into our communities, let's re-introduce the missing back to their Father, let's stick a sword right up the hind end of the enemy wherever we find him and his schemes, let's not stop until the final consumnation of all things.

Lord Jesus, may your Kingdom keep on coming on earth as it is in heaven.


Monday, April 11, 2005

Training report

I have re-started another 12 weeks of Body for Life, but a bit modified from the more stringent first 12 weeks.

In preparation for the 1/2 Marathon on May 1, yesterday I completed 11 1/2 miles in 80 degree heat. I'm quite a bit on the sore and tender side today but am encouraged that I recovered from my "dead legs" period last week that I didn't think would end.

Had an amazing bbq on saturday night to celebrate my brother in law's healing and a chance to break out my new 60,000 BTU 5 burner stainless steel grill that is a monstrosity of manliness. I'm looking forward to bonding w/ that thing all summer long. So many good friends. I played 80's new wave "name that band" w/ my ipod around the fire which was fun and Paul Mcgillivary was the last to leave around 1 a.m. after much good Kingdom conversation. I love this stuff.


Thursday, April 07, 2005

Turning to the positive

Really, really good insights from y'all out there on evangelism and the Church. There is no question that we sometimes narrow it down to a sales pitch of information only, and that as Barry points out re: Phil 1, even in bad attempts at least Christ is preached. And the reason I bring it up and want to continue this theme is that I do believe mission to be central to what the Church is about. We exist not just for personal transformation, but that the transformation into Christ's likeness drives us to draw others into this relationship w/ the God who created us. For my ministry context, I refer to what I do as planting "Missional Communities". They aren't just communities for community sake, they are on a mission, its one of our non-negotiables.

So let me share with you today at least one way that I see as effective evangelism and its one that we often don't consider. Its what John Wimber called "Power Evangelism" and if you read Eric Keck's blog, he is often posting profoundly on the subject. Displays of God's unparalleled power on earth draw people into having to consider what it is that they have seen with their own eyes. The Gospels and Acts are chock full of signs and wonders and people being drawn into the Kingdom as a result.

For example, this week at Liberty House Church we were reading from Matthew 9 and it starts w/ a story of friends bringing a parapalegic to Jesus in front of the Pharisees and he forgives the man and heals him which creates a stir. Then the narrative flows seamlessly to Jesus calling Matthew to "follow Me", undoubtedly one of the witnesses to thise event. And then Jesus is in Matthew's house eating with other sinners and is criticized again for being a friend of sinners. Jesus responds with "who needs a doctor, the sick or the well?" My point is that the narrative leads from a sign of healing (power) straight to mission, Jesus drawing others into His Kingdom. Being a conduit of God's power on earth can be a converting experience for those looking on and seeking truth.

My brother in law, Rob,last week was diagnosed with kidney cancer so severe that they were going to remove one of his kidneys today. As a church and as a family, we decided to fight this diagnosis. In the meantime, Rob found out that his unbelieving employees decided to pray for him and his healing as well because they wanted the best for him even though they are not sure God exists. As well, Rob has been a long time studly beach volleyball athlete with many friends from that context in the area. Most of them living a liftestyle outside the Kingdom. So they are watching too. Rob played what he thought would be his last tournament on Saturday for a while and many of this crowd came to watch. Rob won the tournament and let them know that its always possible that God would heal him. So the church prayed and unbelievers prayed. On Monday, Rob gets the call. The doctors want to make a complete change to their diagnosis with no explanation. What they were so sure they saw has somehow changed with a new catscan. No cancer, no tumor, rather just a shrinking cyst. Either the doctors were incompetent last week, or God showed up in POWER. But he showed up in POWER with non-followers watching and participating in a Kingdom Now experience. Rob's now having a lot of fun having these conversations with his friends and employees about whether God exists and answers prayers. On Saturday night, we're throwing a BBQ at our house and inviting all involved to come and celebrate what God has done.

God is not afraid to use our suffering for mission and his ultimate Glory. When God shows up in POWER, all of His creation is drawn to Him as the source of all things. And its just fun for us to be a part of the process.

Stop and Notice the Kingdom amongst you today,

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Do we care?

I'm taking a couple weeks to discuss the topic of evangelism with Senior Bible students. We have been watching "Off the Map" interviews where we recorded word on the street videos and interviews w/ lost people in live events to encourage feedback and discussion. Let's just say that the news isn't good. The word on the street is that we suck at Evangelism. Our only category for inviting others into the Kingdom experience is through linear historical information, guilt and one-sided monologues. We need to change what we count. Focus more on relationships and conversations than our sales pitch. It seems to me that Jesus lived Kingdom, proclaimed Kingdom, shared Kingdom and invited others to follow Him in Kingdom living w/ out ever having to tell them how wrong they are.
Not to be only negative, because I think that being missional is the heartbeat of the Church. But here is my bottom line. Our ineptness w/ evangelism is not because of bad strategies, faulty approaches or lack of information. Our failures start in the heart. Frankly, we don't care. We're more concerned w/ our own agendas, lives and frivolous pursuits than to take the time to ache over those outside of Kingdom. The issue is not technique, its that we don't care. We don't like confrontation, we dont' like being vulnerable, we don't like risk, we resist discomfort.
In Matthew 9, Jesus saw the crowd and had compassion on them. Its starts w/ noticing that they exist, and then allowing that to enter your soul. Let compassion mull over in your heart, long for those outside of the Kingdom. Think incarnationally where you take on the risk and the vulnerability like Christ carrying a cross. Evangelism starts in the heart, but do we really care?


Sunday, April 03, 2005

Resting and Racing

We got back home @ 2:30 a.m. on Saturday morning after a horrendous drive home from Florida. We hit major traffic 3 times which added 5-6 hours to our trip. We were completely exhausted. However, we had a great vacation. 4 days at Universal Studios, 1 day at water park and 1 day at Disney World. No wonder we were exhausted. Lots of memories made and we got some good sun time as well.

I tried to rest as much as I could yesterday because this morning I ran the Cincinnati Heart Mini-Marathon which is a 15K or 9.3 miles. It was beautiful weather but within the first 2 miles I had major cramping in my right leg, I believe due to 19 hours of driving on Friday. I had to do a little walking and stop to stretch it out real good and wonder if it would loosen up at all or if I'd have to turn and walk home. By the 3rd mile, blood was flowing and I found a pain-free rythymn. There were a lot of hills on this course, in fact the whole race is up and down hills and I wasn't used to it. After 7 miles, it got to be a matter of survival. I finished as strong as I could but not in the time I was hoping for. Some days you go out to run and you just don't have it and all you can do is push through it. This was one of those days for me. I now have one month and I'm running the Flying Pig 1/2 marathon (13.1 miles). Its gonna require a good month of training for me but that all starts tommorrow. For tonight, I will rest, eat some pizza and watch the opening night of baseball cuz then its back to work.