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,