Thursday, June 29, 2006

when God speaks

Every once in a while, if I get quiet enough, I can hear the whisper of God. Its always a mixed bag of reactions from me. Today, just driving a 30 mile trip between Dayton and Cincinnati, I hear the voice and a myriad of things begin to happen.

1) I'm absolutely floored that the One who is orchestrating the universe is taking time for me. By definition, that makes me valuable because He is ascribing value to me. For a kid from a divorced home who always thought he had to "achieve" something to be valuable, I get overwhelmed by this reality. I am His son, and I matter to Him. un-freakin'-believable.

2) The overwhelming realization that I'm not worthy. There is sin that must be confessed, failures of selfish living that don't measure up to the Kingdom reality. His presence is Holy, and I realize quickly that I am not.

3) He reveals the blessings in my life, particularly relationships. People I am in community with and I just begin to pray for them. My physical family, my spiritual families (OCC and Elpida), the people in my contexts day in and day out. I realize how much affection is in me for these people. I long for them to be blessed by God.

4) Then comes some sort of challenge. I hear Him say, "Chris, do you want to go all the way w/ this?" What does He mean? What is His point? The Spirit reveals and its all about the Kingdom now and the spiritual war we find ourself in. I miss Palmer, I miss Chad and I long for more Kingdom. I want their legacy to live on. I want to see and experience the spontaneous expansion of the Church into the broken places of our earth. I want those outside of Kingdom community to come inside and beging to experience the Truth of their existence. I dream of more, much more. More for me and the world I live in. In every sense, I want to see His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

5) With a challenge comes responsibility. To go all the way, will I deny myself more? To be more humble, am I willing to be humiliated? To dream long-term, will I be disciplined in the short-term? Will I make my life not about myself, but about Him and my neigbor? Those are the questions my life has to answer.

When God speaks, creative things happen. I want to be a part of that Creation.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

i've been a bad blogger

I've been a bad blogger, not doing well to report or give views on stuff that's happenin'. Safe to say a lot has been happening and its mostly good stuff. Had dinner last night with K-Rains and Jim Henderson of the Off-the-Map empire. Its so good to hear OTM doing so well and Jim having the conversations he is so passionate about creating. He is changing people's minds about evangelism, little by little, its good stuff. Rains and I will be at the next OTM event in Seattle November 3-4 to stir up some trouble (i.e. teach a workshop)and perhaps be in on a forum with Georga Barna, Brian McLaren and a couple other folk in the emerging church world. We'll see what works out but should be a good time nonetheless.

Our house church has begun reading McLaren's "The Secret Message of Jesus" one chapter a week to discuss and I just really like Brian's writing. Its a very easy read but gives a basic overview of a Kingdom theology. I think its perfect for a community discussion format. This week is ch. 2 and the Political Message of Jesus.
I've become convinced that although Jesus' message was personal, it was not private. . . (Jesus) challenges every existing political movement to a radical rethinking and dares everyone to imagine and consider his revolutionary alternative. What is that alternative? It is to see, seek, receive, and enter into a new political and social and spiritual reality he calls the kingdom (or empire) of God, or the kingdom (or empire) of heaven. . . And you find your identity - your citizenship - not in Rome but rather in a spiritual realm, in the presence of God. . .

You won't nestle snugly into the status quo, but you'll seek to undermine the way things are to welcome the way things coud and should be.

So with July 4th right aroung the corner, when was the last time you considered the political message of Jesus?
Am I thankful to live in and raise my family in America? Yes.
Do I pay my taxes and vote? Yes.
Do I support the troops even while I disagree with the war policy? Yes.
Do I pledge allegiance to a flag? No. I swear singular allegiance to the King and cannot bow to a man-made idol.
Do I agree with the American policy in Israel (or for that matter the American evangelical church's view)? No! I pray for the peace of Jerusalem, the freedom for the Palestinian people and an end to the hatred and dehmunaization that causes terrorism.
What am I working on to be more true to my beliefs? Living more simply, eliminating all debt in my finances so that I am not a slave to this world's system. With that freedom, I can give more freely and affect change in causes Jesus cares about. (of course its not mutually exclusive, I'm just saying I could do more w/out debt)

I hardly ever talk politics, and I know its always a lightning rod, but I thought I would leak out a few of my views for folk to hit me back with.

In all things, in agreement or disagreement, peace of Christ unto you,

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Father's Day came early

My wife allowed me to go out w/ 2 of my good friends tonight and it was just what the doctor ordered. Joe Long, Craig Spinks and myself ate dinner and talked around an outdoor table at an English Pub in Northern Kentucky for about 4 hours and it was a great time. Its so good to have friends that can seamlessly talk about work, music, movies, families, church issues and the larger themes of the Kingdom of God all w/out skipping a beat. I have been going out on these kinds of nights with these guys and others for about the past 6 years every so often and they always leave me appreciating such good guys to hang around with and generally give each other a hard time.

One of our topics was now that we have discovered how to become the people of God organized in small communities, how can we now get this message out to those around us that are living outside of the Kingdom message? I am as burdened today as I have ever been about not letting this be a secret. We don't want to build structures and systems that require unlimited amounts of resources (time/people/money) to maintain and become the tail that wags the dog. But . . . we're also not okay with keeping private such a freedom giving message as Jesus' invitation to the Kingdom is. We want people to know it and experience it and we're not sure we're doing a great job at that. Its a question we want to continue to wrestle with. In some ways, we're doing a lot better than we ever have been, and in other ways we want to do more. It was just really good to talk about it at length w/ a couple bros.

Thanks to my wife for blessing me with a night out w/ the boyz, it scratched me where I itched. It was a Father's Day present come early.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

Achilles update

Jan. 29 - went down in pain as my achilles had a complete rupture

Feb. 2 - Achilles repair surgery

Feb. 7 - diagnosed with blood clot in leg

Early April - walking cast came off

Early April - began swimming, biking and elliptical training in gym

End of May - began light treadmill training

June 15 - ran outside on track (1.5 mile jog, 10 40 yard sprints)

Am now back running outside, begin training for Fall races.

Nov. 4 - Will run the Mason Mini-Marathon 15k (9.3 miles)

Nov. 23 - Will run the Thanksgiving Day 10K downtown (6.2 miles)

Am going into 4 months of training. I want to run like a monk. Slow, deliberate, focused, on mission.

On November 4th, when I cross that finish line, I will proclaim a full recovery.

Until then, I train my body and mind.

As always, I'm running for Palmer.

peace to whatever your training to do,

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

On suffering

A very dear friend is entering into a painful place and suffering is at her door. I would do anything to keep her heart from breaking, but I know its not my place. She emailed me some questions and this was my response in reflection today. Thought I would blog a bit of it.

I have had a year where suffering has had to be my friend. I lost my niece, 2 of my best friends and suffered a debilitating injury. I have spent many nights
asking "why?"

Here is what I know, God has set up the world in such a way as to give us
choice. All of our choices have consequence, positive or negative. Sometimes
those consequences cause suffering to the individual and the community living
around them. Some of the suffering we go through is a result of our wrong
choices, some is the result of Adam and Eve's wrong choice which created a
fallen world. A life with God is not w/out suffering. Abraham suffered, Moses
suffered, David suffered, the prophets suffered, the apostles suffered and Jesus
suffered. The difference is that suffering is not our end, but a temporary
reality. And that we have access to strength while we suffer. We get our
strength from God himself, and God working through others.

God's will is that we make choices that honor Him and obey his teachings. When
we don't, suffering usually is the result whether great or small. Jesus created
a way for us not have to suffer eternally for our choices, he took on our
suffering on the cross. However, the suffering we have in this life is actually
a means to grow deeper in Christ and become more mature in His Kingdom. That
depends on how we face our suffering. Will we run from it and avoid it? Or
will we have the courage to walk through it, no matter how painful it is? Those
are very big questions. You have an opportunity to hold the hands of those
around you and walk with them through this desert. Face the pain and believe
that healing is on the other side.

I hate suffering but the Kingdom even Now is not without it.


Monday, June 12, 2006

My Top 5 books (not called the Bible)

I was doing some teaching from Henri Nouwen's "In the Name of Jesus" this weekend and it made me think about my top 5 books. I'm sure I'll leave something out, but here it is off the top of my head:

1) Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard
2) Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
3) The Challenge of Jesus, N.T. Wright
4) In the Name of Jesus, Henri Nouwen
5) The Way, E. Stanley Jones

Man, as I write that, I have 12 other books just floating in my head. Now that I've been back exercising/lifting 3-5 times a week, I want to tackle my next discipline. I have not been a good reader this past year and my bookshelves are loaded with great books that need to be read or re-read. Bean has recently supplied me with a few new ones to chew on as well. I'm trying to moderate the T.V. in lieu of more reading. Its hard being a teacher, because the moment I read something inspiring, I want to start teaching it, instead of reading more. I love good books, but my passion gets in the way of me actually finishing them.

Going down to the ole' ballyard tonight since its my fault that the moment I blogged on the Reds, they lost 3 in a row. Time to get the train back on the right track.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

Reds are Alive and Kicking

Warning: Sports blog, discontinue reading for anything meaningful.

Reds have won 9 in a row and are in 1st place here in mid-June. They were picked by most to be come in last in their division but the new ownershp has changed everything. This time last year everybody was talking Bengals, now that conversation has been put off until August or so. Its been a long time since we had real confidence in a Reds team. The trades for Bronson Arroyo and Brandon Philips have turned out genius. I'm hoping to get down to a game here in the next few days. I have only been to 3 so far this year, I'm in a slump :)

Pitching, defense, power and speed is a great formula for a long run to the playoffs. Its fun to be a Reds fan again.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Happy Anniversary Nicole!

Yesterday was our 13 year anniversary, I was able to take the day off and then we went out last night to dinner, movie, coffee and dessert. The CCS Senior class gave me a card on my last day there back in mid-March and it was stuffed w/ cash for a night out w/ my wife, so we used it last night. Thank you, Seniors!

Nicki and I reflected last night on our 13 year journey together and we've been through a lot of wars, transitioned or started a few ministries, and made incredible friendships. Have I ever told you about my wife? She's pretty amazing. Works extremely hard at being a Mom, administrates OCC, keeps me organized, serves her friends, manages our finances, supports her family and plays a very mean and physical defense as a soccer fullback. Nicki has brought so much healing to my heart and soul, she was the stability I never had and it has allowed me to become the leader I always wanted to be. Oh yeah, and she's turning 33 next week and is smokin' hot. I'm a very big fan of hers ;)

We saw the movie "Break up" last night w/ Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Anniston. Its actually more of a drama than a comedy, pretty stressful and realistic relational tension in this movie. It made me think of the many relationships out there, particularly marital ones, that are hurting. Where intimacy is not shared because there is such pain and mistrust between the 2 parties. If that is you, I can only say to pursue the dream of what you always wanted your marriage to be. Open your heart to the pain and walk through it w/ the one your comitted to. Our whole culture functions better and lives are more full when marriages in our communities are healthy. Keep the dream alive and pay the price to walk through the tensions.


Friday, June 02, 2006

rainy dayz and missin' my boyz

I'm not sure why it hit me, but as I left the YMCA this morning after my workout, I ran to my car in the pouring rain and all of the sudden sadness came over me. I began to just miss Palmer and Chad. I put on some Deathcab for Cutie on the iPod and listened to it all morning getting ready for work. Sorrow and rain just go together. I feel guilty that I am with my family this day and my boyz are without theirs. Maybe a better way of saying it is that their families are without them since Chad and Palmer probably aren't missing anything at all. Depending on your theology, they are either reigning with Jesus now or sleeping until the Resurrection of the dead. But I'm missing them, as I know their families are. Specifically, I want to call Palmer and just update our lives together. I want to plan with him the next time we all meet at the Brownhouse. I miss that. I want to read Chad's blog and hear him describe the next beautiful thing he wants to create. I want to walk into Barnes and Noble and see him already there, drinking coffee, reading a book waiting for the rest of us fight club boyz who are late. I'm missing my boyz today, it hurts.

CCS has graciously allowed me to give a couple minutes of closing remarks at graduation this Sunday, as well as the benediction. I have been thinking for 2 weeks of what I want to say to the seniors whom I have journeyed with for the past 4 years. But not til this morning did I ask, "Lord, what do you want to say?" There are a lot of questions in life, but only some of them are important.

To the Canipes, Amy, Micah and the LP community, you are never far from my thoughts. Kingdom Now.