Friday, December 30, 2005

The right of God...

This is something I have been turning over in my head for while. It started as a message/conversation with some high school folks.

While he was on earth Jesus exhibited his power over the things of this world; wind and rain, loneliness, sickness, classism, racism and sexism. In his resurrection he exerted his power over death. So Jesus offers us the gift of forgiveness in the shape of the cross and offers us the gift of life, the life God intended for us here and now and life eternally with Him in heaven, in his resurrection.

How do we take hold of those gifts?

In Jesus' own words: “Follow me.” Follow Jesus, oh man, I'm gonna have to change, I'm gonna have to become all churchy, I'm gonna have to be sad and mope around and pray and stop having fun. Huh??? What????

So what does “Follow me” mean? I think Jesus himself answers this question in Matthew 6

So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well
Matthew 6:32-33 NIV

Our jobs as followers of Christ is to seek first the kingdom of God. What is the kingdom of God?

For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God. And other people will approve of you, too.
Romans 14:17 NLT

For the Kingdom of God is not just fancy talk; it is living by God's power.
1 Cor 4:20 NIV

Follow me is not necessarily saying the right things. Follow me is not necessarily doing the right things. It is much more than that. Those who thought they were saying the right things and doing the right things, the religious leaders of Jesus' day, were missing the point. To many of them, the appearance of kingdom of God did depend right action.

In Luke 17, a group of these religious leaders asked Jesus when they should expect the kingdom of God. He said don't look here or there. Look within. The Greek for within means the soul or the very deepest part of who we are. The meaning of the term for kingdom is not a literal physical kingdom rather the right to exercise authority or rule over.

The Kingdom of God, might roughly be defined as the right or authority of God to rule over the very deepest part of who we are.

At the very deepest levels of who we are God wants to be there. What's there now?

Other people's opinion's of us?
The pursuit of worldly desires?
Is it fear?

What is it that is ruling over the very deepest part of us? Following Jesus needs to be about a daily turning over of the deepest parts of who we are to God. This needs to be our concentration; making room in our soul for the God who loves us, died for us and rose from the dead for us.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Catching up!!

It's been slightly over 2 weeks since my last post. It has been quite the whirlwind two weeks at that. I got to teach at our Sunday Morning services on 11/27. Here is the link if you want to have a listen. The message that morning was on Philippians 3: 10-17, Pressing on and finishing the race.

Two days later, we left to meet my in-laws at Disney, the most "magical" place on earth. Gail and I spent our honeymoon there and we ventured back a second time to catch up with high school friends. It was a much different experience this time. Seeing and experiencing that place through the eyes of my 4 year old and 7 year old was something else. Almost too much. The guys, suffered from serious sensory overload. Jared fell asleep at lunch on two different occasions, once he actually dozed off mid-sentence. Jake's favorite part was the Indiana Jones stunt show which we did twice and Jared's was the Star Wars, Star tours ride, which we did 3 times. (Gail bowed out on round 3). It was one of those vacations you need a vacation from. It was great to see my brother-in-law for the first time in over year. He and Gail's sister Karen were great sports when either Jake, Jared or I had one of our moments. I think my highlight from the trip was the dinner all the adults got to share at the Artist's Point restaurant while the boys hung out in the Cub's Den. The food was great, the wine was outstanding and the company and conversation made the meal.

We returned to the cold and snow of the Northeast. I really don't like Kennedy Airport, but I don't want to start ranting. Friday the 9th, we got our first serious snow of the year. Even though I work out of the house and the snow has no real bearing on my ability to do my job I still love a snow day. We knew it was coming, so we rented a couple of video games and movies, purchased the fixins for gravy (that's the red kind) and stoked up the wood stove. It doesn't get much better than that.

The 11th was Gail's birthday. Special occasions are tough for us when they land on a Sunday. I was out of the house by 6:00 am. At least 5 people got to wish Gail a happy birthday before I did when I finally caught up with her in the hallway at church. After set-up, two services, take down and a student ministry leadership meeting, I wasn't home until 4:00. We celebrated that night with some Italian take out and cake.

And....I think I'm caught up.

Monday, November 28, 2005

a new life emerging: Please Stop It.

this is definitely worth the read.
My thoughts are far too muddy to try to write. thoughts????

Sunday, November 20, 2005


A friend, who runs our children's ministry, asked me to put together a little slideshow from a recent Sunday morning event. No problem...Import photos into iphoto, import song into in itunes, mix well, kick the whole thing over to iDVD then burn...15-20 minutes tops. 4 1/2 hours later I was still at it. I couldn't figure out, for the life of me, why the discs wouldn't play in our DVD player.
I sat back, took a deep breath and in a startling moment of clarity I remembered I had my ipod hooked up to the computer to charge. I really don't know why this would effect a DVD burn but I unplugged said ipod and tried again. Bingo!!! It worked.
I bumbled into bed at roughly 1:30 am, only to have get up a mere 4 hours later to start my Sunday. Needless to say I am iexhausted. Getting sleepy... eyes closing... very cranky...nite nite.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Unexpected gift

I received an unexpected gift two nights ago. I was at fundraising banquet for a friend who is on Young Life staff. Fortunately, I got to sit next to an old friend named Nick.
Our wives were making small talk with the folks sitting on either side of them. Nick leaned in real close to me and in whispered tones started telling me a story about something he and his wife recently went through. He described to me how they could see the effects of spiritual warfare in their lives, how they dealt with it and how they could see God's hand moving when they dared to live the life God intended; really a very cool story.
The coolest part though is Nick himself. I met Nick 12 years ago when he was a high school student. He started coming to a young life club we were running. Over time, he came to know and follow Christ. What an amazing thing to think back 12 years ago and then to sit there and listen to this man tell me stories about God in his life.
How I wish, every person who invested time in, reached out to, and hung in there with a high school student could have a conversation like the one I had with Nick.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Celebration of discipline 6&7-Simplicity & Solitude

I have combined my thoughts on chapters 6&7 because I needed to catch up. But as I went through Foster's chapters on Simplicity and Solitude (silence) I realized it makes sense to discuss them together. Foster's take on Simplicity and solitude comes down to a matter of trust.

Trust as it relates to Simplicity seems, well, a fairly simple concept. We entrust our possessions to God. We trust that God will provide, we trust that God will care for our stuff and we trust that if we give our stuff away God will honor our act of sacrifice.

Trust, as it relates to solitude, IMHO is a more complicated matter. It is trust indeed that that allows us to embark into solitude. Foster tells us that solitude and silence go hand in hand. Here is where the trust comes in: "We are so accustomed to relying upon our words to manage and control others. If we are silent who will take control? God will take control; but we will never let Him take control until we trust Him. Silence is intimately related to trust."

So...Do I trust God? With my possessions? I have good days and bad days. When money is tight I am much more likely to say, "okay God I'll take the wheel for a little bit."
This is one where I could really see Jesus looking at me and saying, like he said to the disciples, "Are you still dull?" He has provided for my family in miraculous ways, time and time again. And yet I still feel like I need control over my finances.

Do I trust God? With my silence? When it is just me and God, I have grown to really enjoy these times of silence. More to Foster's point, however, when there are others involved I am much more likely to break the silence. I attribute part of this to leaders I have worked and served under up to this point. Each of them very dynamic, outspoken, often opinionated men who lead with their words. At some level, I feel compelled to a more verbose leadership style. It often feels awkward and not at all my style. The rest is exactly like Foster describes. I often speak to control and influence those around me. I speak to make sure people leave me with the impression I desire. I need to trust God with my Silence.
If I can do that, I think I could actually be a more effective leader, husband, friend, father. If I were to concentrate on my silence I would be likely to "say what needs to be said when it needs to be said." I would hear more of what people are trying to say to me. People might leave with the impression that God desired rather than the one I desire.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Darth Jared

We celebrated my younger son Jared's 4th B-day this week. It was a Star Wars birthday; the gifts, the decorations, and the cupcakes. (Gail is an accomplished cake/cupcake decorator.)

The highlight of the b-day festivities was the Darth Vader Voice Changer. The thing spouts out quotes from the movie, does the heavy breathing bit and morphs your voice into a James Earl Jones replica.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Thougts on "Please no more doing church for them"

Ryan Bolger has started an excellent discussion on creating church services for "spiritual seekers." His premise is that we shouldn't because {my really rough paraphrase} :

  1. inevitably we will screw it up
  2. it defines following Christ as an hour a week
  3. it perpetuates an us and them mentality (both sacred vs secular and laity vs clergy)
  4. perpetuates a McDonald's form of spirituality (producer/consumer)
A couple of themes emerge from the comments:

  1. Total agreement with Ryan's points
  2. Why does a church service have to be either/or
This one, might be my favorite, as it hits very close to my suburban home:

What would it look like to be missional, that is, to apply your principles, in rural Wisconsin, (where IÂ’m from) or the average suburb? It might look more like what too many on the emerging church scene deride than they would like to imagine.
Posted by: David

I live in the cliche that is Trumbull, CT. A suburb, in the truest sense of the word. For the last 2-3 years I have struggled with totally resonating with the hopes, dreams and concerns of the emerging/missional church while living and ministering in the stereotypical context of the seeker church. As I wrestle with this paradox, I am drawn back to this thought from Ryan:

What Christians need to do is create meaningful worship through bringing their very own lives to God. Worship must reflect the culture of the community that is currently part of the church...Instead of mimicking other church cultures, the community collectively brings their own idiosyncratic ways of life to God, whatever they may be.
As I have contemplated this post, what excites me, what has eased my sense of struggle is, our little community is emerging in its own right. I think someone would be hard pressed to label Crossroads as seeker-sensitive or emerging or whatever. What that says to me is we truly are "reflecting the culture of our community," we are bringing our "indiosyncrasies," whether they be seeker-oriented or missionally-oriented, to God.

I am indeed grateful for this conversation and the ensuing mental gymnastics it inspired. Many thanks to Ryan and all who contributed.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Numb3rs !@$%#!

I have had conversations with youth guys and gals from around the country that just flat out make me sad and angry all at the same time. One youth pastor friend told me he received this direction from his Sr. Pastor: "Don't worry about spiritual development get more kids to your program. You can worry about the spiritual growth stuff later" No joke, that was a real conversation.

I talked to a couple of guys who run regional youth ministries for a megachurch. They have to call or email their boss the day after their programs and report attendance numbers.

I used to be a part of a ministry where we would brag about squeezing 100 kids into somebody's living room.

I run a youth ministry now where, on a big numbers night, we get 30 students.

I have never been more convinced that numbers just don't matter. The only number that matters is 1.
That 1 student who would never darken the door of a church but shows up at frisbee every week...
That 1 student, who is so hyper and obnoxious, you have to sit on him to get him to stay still...
That 1 student who steps up and leads...
That 1 student who shows up at your house because there is no one at his house who cares...
That 1 student who says thanks you are doing a good thing...
That 1 student who reaches out to his friends because somebody reached out to him...
That 1 student who says I'm never gonna believe any of this God stuff...
That 1 student who finally gets it...

I'll take that 1 student over the 100 anyday.

Celebration of Discipline 5-Study

Important bullets from the Discipline of study:

Good feelings will not free us. Ecstatic experiences will not free us. Getting "high on Jesus" will not free us. Without a knowledge of the truth, we will not be free.

What we study determines what kind of habits are to be formed.

Arrogance and a teachable spirit are mutually exclusive.

Remember that the key to the Discipline of study is not reading many books but experiencing what we do read.

Study produces joy.
Each of the above caused me to stop and think but what really captured my attention was Foster's discussion of the study of nonverbal books. Foster suggests that we devote time to the study of nature, relationships, technology, culture, institutions and ourselves. All of the above, seem to me worthwhile ventures. I was, however, taken aback by the thought of studying myself. At first it struck as mere navel gazing. In light of Foster's further discussion it seemed a more valuable and daunting endeavor. Foster suggests, "We should learn the things that control us. Observe your inner feelings and mood swings. What controls your moods? What can you learn about yourself from that?"

The two things that jump to mind as controlling factors in my life are my circumstances and other people's opinions; the results of growing up in the home of an alcoholic. Perfectionist tendencies and people pleasing can often bear way too much influence on my actions and decisions. A friend helped me make the connection between my family of origin and these two behaviors. (Foster's point about live discussions as part of the study process played out)
I know these factors exist. I even have an idea of when they are most likely to come into play. What I still need to learn, to study more on, is how to let the Holy Spirit work in, through, around, and hopefully instead of perfectionism and people pleasing.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Stories from St Bernard's

We got home from Louisiana late Saturday night amidst a downpour, the likes of which, I have never seen. I'm not sure what that is... irony? a reminder of where we just were? I don't know but it struck me as odd.

I met so many incredible people while working in St Bernard's Parish. The first person I met was Pastor Randy Millet. Randy lived in St Bernard's all his life. He lost everything, as did everyone else who lives in the Parish. He lost his house, his church, his community, he lost an aunt and uncle, whose bodies he found. And yet through it all he cannot be kept away from the people and the parish that he loves so much. Randy is the man running the relief center where we were working. As people came to the center, many of them returning from their homes for the first time since Katrina hit, Randy would greet them and through tear stained eyes he would give them a smile and a hug. In Randy Millet, the people of St Bernard's, find hope and strength. As we were preparing to leave on Friday Randy pulled me aside and thanked me for our work and compassion. I told him I wished we could do more. And then get this....he asked me what he could do for me.
As we hugged, Randy said, "Go home and tell our story, people need to know what is going on down here. Please tell our story."

I met a woman named Tina. She is now housing eleven members of her family who lost their homes in her temporary two bedroom apartment. Her family ranges in age from a grand-niece who is two months old to her mom who, I'm guessing is seventy-something. I carried some water to her car for her. She said "Thank you baaaby," as only a woman from New Orleans could.
I helped her mom June, get into the car. June told me how proud she was of Tina. All I could do was agree with her. June looked at me and thanked me for being there. If anyone has right to be bitter or angry it was Tina and June. They weren't. They were sad and heartbroken over their loss but they were the most gracious and grateful people I have ever met.

I met a man named Gene. Gene and his dog Humbug decided not to evacuate and brave the storm from their home. Gene, a proud 76 year old man, with a healthly swath of white hair told us his story. On the day Katrina hit, Gene told us he fell asleep on his couch for about an hour. He woke up and put his feet down on the carpet and thought little Humbug had had an accident. Then he realized his entire living room was under three inches of water. He told us, with a big smile, he knew Humbug wasn't a big enough dog to make that big a mess. The water in his home rose quickly. Gene and Humbug retreated to his attic then to his rooftop where he survived on Ensure for the next 8 days. Gene told us he got tired of waiting. So he attached Humbug's leash and they swam for it.
I said "you did what?"
Gene replied, "Oh it wasn't a big deal, I was a great swimmer in college. We just swam from rooftop to treetop to a floating piece of fence and just kept doing that until someone rescued us."
Gene told us how he was being treated like a celebrity, his senator even called to wish him well. Again with a big sly smile he told us how he kind of liked all the attention he was getting.

I met a man named Sam. This one started off a little rough. We loaded up the suburban with food, water and safety gear. We set off into the neighborhoods and were offering our supplies to the folks who were either working on their homes, meeting insurance adjusters or just trying to retrieve anything that might have survived the hurricane. We wanted to take pictures to show everyone back home just had bad things were. But, we also wanted to be sensitive to the people whose lives had been turned upside down. There was a crew from the power company working on a house. Two of the crew, or so we thought, were leaning against a vehicle taking a break. The house behind the crewmen had a sailboat resting on its roof. We slowed down to take a picture. It turns out that one of the crewmen was Sam and it was on his house where the boat had come to rest.
He said, "that will be a $1.50."
And we all kind of chuckled.
He said, "no really, you're gonna get that for free, that'll be a buck-fifty."
Realizing he wasn't joking, Todd, one of the guys in the back seat of the suburban, leaned out his window and offered him something to eat and drink. We stopped and talked for 1/2 an hour or so in front of his house. We talked about the damage to his house and his neighbor's houses. We talked about what he did before Katrina hit. We told him where the relief center was set up and ask him to please come there and take a rest and get a hot meal. He said "okay...maybe" and we parted ways.
Sam came by the relief center 3 or 4 times in the next two days. During one of those visits, Karen, one of our team, apologized to Sam for taking the photo of his house. She told him how she wanted to be able to show everyone back home the extent of the devastation. She told him how she hoped the pictures might encourage others to come down and help.
Sam replied, "if that's what it takes I'll put my house on the internet, I'll invite people into my living room so they can see first-hand how bad things are."

There are many, many more stories to tell. There are many, many more people who need someone to listen to them and to offer them a cold bottle of water. It's the volunteer relief workers who are doing these things and who will be needed to keep doing these things, and to help with the clean-up and to help with the rebuilding. If you are thinking about volunteering please check out one of these sites.

To help out in the Gulf Region:
Samaritan's Purse
American Red Cross

To help out in your local area:
America's Second Harvest

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

St Bernard's Parish, LA

There is too much of everything to describe what is going on down here. We have been working a relief center in St Bernards Parish, described to us as the most devastated part of the greater New Orleans area, that has been opened back up. We unload trucks, hand out food and water, pray with a few people and listen to their stories. The people's stories of heroism, sadness, devastation and loss are heartwrenching. We all have pictures but they still won't explain what it is really like. the whole thing is very surreal soldiers with M-16, helicopters, the scenery is what I imagine a war zone would look like. Trucks where boats should be, boats where trucks should be, boats on rooftops.

We went out into some of the neighborhoods today to hand out food, water, gloves, and breathing masks for people who were trying to salvage remnants of their homes. I have tried to stay away from the media coverage of this thing but I wish the media would go into some the neighborhoods and try to capture what these folks are going through...still.

What has amazed me the most though, is the overwhelmingly positive attitudes and gratitude of the people of New Orleans.

... needs here are still overwhelming. We have been told donations and volunteers are down.

...more when I return next week.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Going to Louisiana

Posts have been few and far between recently.
I wrote the week after Katrina hit about the things I thought I should do and our community at Crossroads could do. Well not long after that I started feeling like I needed to go to New Orleans to do what I could. Here we are a couple weeks later and I am headed down to Louisiana tomorrow. We are bringing a small team of folks from Crossroads to help clean-up, pass out food and water, hang out with kids while their parents try to reassemble their lives, basically do whatever is needed. We partnered up with an organization called PRC Compassion out of Baton Rouge.
Please continue to pray for the people of the Gulf Coast. Pray for our team that we might have servant hearts and flexible attitudes. Pray that God might prepare us for whatever it is we might see and have to do.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Celebration of Discipline Part 3-Imagination and Prayer

How surprising it was to me, in a chapter on prayer, Foster spent a great deal of time on imagination; imagining answers to prayer, imagining God's power surging through you as the one praying, imagining the light and love of Christ.
When you stop and think about it makes perfect sense. In athletics, we are coached to visualize the game saving tackle, in business we are encouraged to visualize closing the big deal. I don't think I ever took the time to imagine a prayer through to it's successful completion.
As I sit here, I imagine my college roommates discovering Jesus. I imagine my mom happily remarried to a man who loves her and loves the Lord. I imagine my boys as grown men reaching out to hurting people with the Love of Christ. I imagine the students God has entrusted to me owning their faith. I imagine Gail and I, all old and wrinkly, sitting on the front porch waiting for the grankids to arrive. I imagine....Amen.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Celebration of Discipline. Parts 1 & 2

Two lines jumped out at me from the very first page of the book.
The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.
In fact, the disciplines are best exercised in the midst of our normal daily activities.
I would love to be thought of as a deep person. I would love for that to be the case as witnessed by those who see me in my "normal daily activities." I think the ability to be deep in the midst of our everyday lives ties directly into the concept he talks about in Chapter 2 on Meditation, Otium Sanctum: " holy leisure" p 20. If I am guilty of idolatry in any area of my life it is in relation to my schedule. If I am not doing, if I am not running from one meeting or program to the next, if I am not "stressed out," then I must be doing something wrong. Foster's answer to my predicament is to "pursure holy leisure with a a determination that is ruthless to my datebook." Ouch!!

What will people think of me if I am not constantly moving? What if I exhibited peace instead of stress? What if my schedule reflected balance? Ssomeone might accuse me of being deep.


A great tool that I have found for guided contemplative prayer is Sacred Space. It is a daily prayer site run by Irish Jesuits. I have found it really helpful in the process Foster describes as, "emptying the mind in order to fill it"

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Links worth a look

Usually, when I get pointed to a new blog and I find it compelling, I will drop it in my feedreader and just go about my merry way. I was recently pointed to Jesus the Radical Pastor written by John Frye and knew I needed to let more people know about it. John's writing is down to earth, insightful and challenging. If you are serious about living life in the way of Jesus then you need to check out Jesus the Radical Pastor.

Steve of Ragamuffin Ramblings has set up A Virtual Celebration to journey through Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline. I have read the book before but look forward to the group-think of this classic.

Last month's issue of Wired magazine offered an article on the best of the audioblogs. The recco that I have enjoyed the most is Music for Robots.


Thursday, September 01, 2005


I actually started a post about Katrina last night. As I was writing it the news came on and I was overwhelmed, I deleted what I had written and went to bed.

Not sure why necessarily, but after reading Steve's post on Katrina and her victims I felt moved to do something.
So I will pray and I will give. I am encouraging our community at Crossroads to do the same. I would encourage you to do the same. Pray for the victims and their relatives, pray for the rescue workers, police and National Guard trying to restore order.
For those of us geographically far removed from the area send financial support.

Here are links to Americares and the Red Cross. I reccomend these two because very high percentages of our donations actually go to help those in need rather than bankrolling big bureaucracies.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Days are getting shorter

After a whirlwind couple months of trips, of life change, of soaring highs and tragic lows the days are getting shorter, my boys have gone back to school...summer is over.

A number of images will stay with me long after the days of this summer have gone. The one that has replayed itself the often in my head was our trip to the National Seashore on the east coast of Cape Cod. Earlier in the summer, Gail and her mom had taken the boys there while I was in Philadelphia. By all accounts it was the perfect day. The water was warm, the breeze was slight and the waves were perfect for a seven year old to ride his boogie board with his mom.

When we returned it appeared to be another perfect day on the Cape. Jake couldn't wait to ride the waves with me. He was chomping at the bit, like a horse waiting in the gates before the start of a race. As we descended the walkway to the beach I couldn't believe all the people. Blankets, umbrellas, buckets, coolers and bodies as far as the eye could see. I noticed something else though, all those people on the beach and only three people in the water. The next thing I noticed was something that sounded like a never ending peel of thunder. Wave upon wave crashed, receded and ran into the next that crashed on top of it. I looked at Gail and said "You two rode those things. "
She replied "they were...uh... different"
We got settled and Jake strapped the leash of his boogie board to his wrist, grabbed me by the hand and shouted "Let's go."
We stood at the shoreline for while. As the waves broke over my feet and shins I felt a dull pain. It was the chill of 59 degree water that was aching me. It didn't seem to bother Jake at all. "Come on Dad let's go, let's go."
"You sure bud?" I said.
"Yeah, come on," and all of a sudden we were standing in the impact zone of the waves.
"Okay, let's go." We paddled through the first waves to beyond the break. I spotted the next big one, "Here it comes bud, kick" I shouted over the waves. Sharing the same board, we kicked and caught the wave, which was way bigger than either one of us expected. It tore me off the board, flipped me over and pounded me into the rock and sand. I found my feet and popped up looking for Jake. I saw his feet and the red of swim suit rush by me as the next wave broke on top of him and knocked me for another loop. I again righted myself and began to search frantically for him. Another wave dumped him with in arms-reach and I grabbed him.
We were both bruised and scraped and wearing about 12 pounds of sand but otherwise okay.
Gail came rushing down to see if we were okay and comforted Jake as only a mother could after a harrowing experience.
I was bent over trying to catch my breath. I replayed the last two minutes in my head. I realized what a stupid thing we had done. As I look around, I also noticed that our little adventure had attracted a small crowd of people who were in that frigid water up to their thighs. As they recoginized Jake was okay they dispersed.
In that instant, for that brief period of time, a small group people had come together because my son was in trouble. They got out of their chairs and up off their blankets and braved the sting of the cold water and the harshness of the waves to try to help Jake. For that moment, we were connected and I was moved by the concern of complete strangers for my son. I am grateful for their efforts. What an awesome picture of otherwise disconnected people coming together for the sake of my son.

What thoughts from the Summer of '05 are gonna stay with you?

Friday, August 26, 2005

Sad News

The phone, at my in-law's, rang early this Monday morning. It was our friend Stacee calling to tell us there had been a terrible accident. Our friend John had had a massive heart attack while riding his motorcycle and died late Sunday night. John leaves behind his wife Sarah and two children Emily 5, and Luke 2.
This week has been a blur for their family of emotion and activity. Please pray for them, for comfort and peace and rest and for God's presence to be with them, now more than ever.

Friday, August 19, 2005


We had a great week, last week, at Young Life's Saranac Village with our high school students. A couple of our kids made first time comittments to Christ and others took huge steps on their journies. Oh yeah and we managed to have a blast too!!!

Now I get to go away with my own kids for a while. Nothin' but beach and sun and rest and getting to know each other again after a really hectic summer. So... I won't be posting for the next week or so.
Peace and prayers.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Intergen stuff happening

There are several conversations going on in the blogosphere regarding intergenerational ministry. This one at emergent-us had a great original post and handful of comments, then the whole thing got derailed and wound up in some nasty name calling and finally landed on a discussion of Marxism, I think. So check out the original post and the first 10 or so comments.
Matthew over at M Squared T blog has some good thoughts too.
In the real world, our Sr. pastor gave a message a few weeks ago about change and why it is so important and how hard it can feel and actually be. He used a phrase that has stuck with me, "We need to make room for each other."
In my mind, that phrase sums it all up. The task of not only crossing age barriers, but cultural barriers, financial barriers, ethnic barriers will be much easier if we could simply make room for each other.
We have been hard at work to make room for each other at Crossroads. Several weeks ago, all of our music was rap. Three of our college-aged guys wrote and performed all the music that week. This past week, our band consisted of Richie age 13 on guitar, Sam age 20 on drums, and Brian age 40-something on bass and vocals. They opened with this reworked version of Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. It's definitely worth a listen.
Did eyebrows raise as Sam, Richie and Brian led us in worship? Yup. Were some people a little uncomfortable with the music style? Yup. Did the place erupt with applause when they finished? Absolutely. We are not there yet...but I get really excited about this picture.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

An amazing week in Philly

That's all 21 of us on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, you know, the steps Sylvester Stallone ran up in the original Rocky movie.

The week was truly amazing. Each one of us was stretched way outside of our comfort zones. We hung out with folks in the parks of west Philly, sang songs and visited with seniors in the area, worked in local food pantries, repaired roofs, painted and cleaned up.

Each night the worship experiences were powerful and moving. (Despite the fact that the first 2 days we were there, there was no power and no a/c and the thermometer hit 100) I prayed prayers of commitment, prayers of confession and prayers of surrender with several of our students. God truly did amazing things in us and through us.

I think the thing that excites me most is our students saw that in serving others, they might realize the "life to the full," that Jesus describes in John 10.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Fuge in Philly

We are taking off tomorrow a.m. on Crossroads first missions trip. I am bringing 3 other adults and students ranging in age from 11-20 to reach out to the people of the greater Philadelphia area with a group called MFuge. I have the usual garble of pre-trip emotions excitement, anxiety, stress, anticipation. It's all good. I truly believe God is gonna do life changing stuff in and through us during this trip.

If you are reading this, please pray for our safety, that we might have servant hearts and attitudes, and that we might all look and act a little bit more like Jesus when we return.

Peace and prayers.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

What is the gospel?

Over at Wade, Wade is asking the question, "What is the gospel?"

It seems like a simple question with simple answers found in the bible.
God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son...yes!
Love God and Love Others....yes!
Look after orphans and widows in their distress...yes!

Living it, is quite different. Jaimie, a 10 year old friend mine is living it. Yesterday was his birthday. You know what he did to celebrate his birthday? He remembered an elderly woman who he sang Christmas carols to in December. He remembered that he shared a birthday with her. All day long he bugged his parents about going to wish her a Happy Birthday. Last night, he dragged his Dad out to go tell a 90 year old lady that he remembered her and wanted to wish her a Happy Birthday.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Sometimes other's words are better than my own

I ask for the grace to believe
in what I could be and do
if I only allowed God, my loving Creator,
to continue to create me, guide me and shape me.

Sacred Space..The prayer site run by Irish Jesuits.

I need you
To be here now
To be here now
To hear me now
To hear me now

I need words
David Crowder Band

Monday, June 27, 2005

Intergenerational bumblings

Over at M Squared T Blog, Matthew has a couple of great posts about connecting folks with God across generations.

I would add the following to reasons why intergenerational worship, I would widen the thought to intergenerational communities of faith, is so danged important.

I believe it would help retain some of the fallout that the church experiences of the 18-25 year old demographic. In other words, it may help solve the "okay I'm too old for youth group but too young(or too bored or too whatever...) for anything else" mystery. We ask students to go from an environment of sometimes barely controlled chaos to a shall we say "more subdued" Sunday Morning experience. Making Sunday morning the primary worship experience for all ages would provide some contituity. In order to effectively engage a wide span of generations could take considerable retooling of the worship experience. That might not be a bad thing either?

(Let me preface the next reason with this; I acknowledge that there is much more at work in the emerging conversation than a generation gap. With that said....) The seeker movement grew out of a generation's discontent with their parent's way of doing church. The emergent movement has grown out of generations' discontent of their parents' way of doing and their lack of being church. 18-20 years from now, I can easily see, another upheaval, grown out of yet another generation's discontent with the current manifestation of church. Being church across generations, truly being church across generations, including people of all ages in everything from music to teaching to leadership to service has to minimize the generational discontent. If up and coming generations of Christ-followers are allowed, and encouraged to provide input into their communities of faith they will shape a future they will be more than content with.

I'm sure there are more great reasons to create truly intergenerational communities. I 'd love to hear 'em....

The reasons for bringing the generations together are many so are the questions....
How do we, not only include but empower, younger generations to participate and shape church?
How do we make these changes at a deep level not just on the surface?
How do we challenge and encourage the more mature generations to invest what they have to offer (which is an incredible amount) in the younger generations?
How do we challenge and encourage the more mature generations that they can indeed learn from someone half their age?
Where is it appropriate to include younger followers in leadership discussions?
How do we prepare a community that lives in an age-segregated society for a change in age roles within the church?

Monday, June 20, 2005


Someday, when I grow up, I hope to be half the writer that my brother-in-law Ward is.

His blog is midwestward ho.

He has been ranting quite a bit lately, some real beauts. My favorites are of the Katie Holmes/Tom Cruise variety.

Anyway, stop by and show him some love.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Redneck Theology

Originally uploaded by kayos.
I witnessed something this weekend that had a holy feel to it, a redemptive quality about it.

Gail and the boys and I went to visit my Dad in Maine this Weekend. He has a good size piece of property and has quickly assumed many of the trappings of country life. On his property their are 4 structures, a house with a beautiful wrap around porch. The porch is littered with old window sills, ladders jacks, empty flower pots and all sorts of other miscellaneous stuff. Next to the house is a shed, it is a mini replica of the house sans the porch. Siding, shutters, shape, it is really quite a attractive. About fifty yards from the shed is what my Dad calls the boat house. He built it to look like a covered bridge. It definitely did until the blue tarps went up on either end and old lumber and scraps of metal began to pile up on either side. Finally there is a building which Dad calls the lean-to. It stores more old windows and pieces of wood, and laminate beams. And again more stuff piled around it. Behind the boathouse is a firepit. The area behind all the structures is open field. Do you have the picture in your head? Wait just to fill it in a little bit more there are a couple of dog's running around. There are also a couple of kids darting in and out of the picture. My boys are shirtless, one wearing camouflage shorts and the other camouflage pants

My Dad has become a redneck. (As have I by association to both my father and sons) I use that term with the utmost affection.

One of the highlights of our trips to Maine is my Dad's truck. He actually has two, the big one is the cool one though. It is a V10 four-wheel drive monster. I didn't even know they made such a thing as a V10. My Dad will sit Jake or Jared on his lap, behind the wheel of this beast and let them "drive" the truck through the fields. Jared got to go first this time. Dad and Jared circled the wet fields just fine; mud spraying out of the back tires. Jake sat as patiently by as any 6 year old could, hooting and hollering, both in applause of his younger brother's performance and in anticipation of his own turn.

Finally, the truck came to a stop and Jared descended from the cab, grinning from ear to ear. In one fluid motion, Jake was up and in the truck on my Dad's lap ready to go. Dad and Jake took off around the property. You could hear Jake laughing and giggling over the sounds of the truck lurching and tires churning. They were coming to the end of their ride when the truck found some really wet ground. Mud flew everywere. The truck came to a halt. You could see my Dad talking to Jake but couldn't really hear what he was saying. I could tell by watching my Dad, he was engaging the 4-wheel drive. They hit the gas more mud, more tires spinning. Dad put Jake in the passenger's seat, things were getting serious now. He started trying to rock the truck back and forth. There wasn't much rocking going on, just sinking. You could actually see the truck sink into soft muck.

We tried everything. We dug. We put old roofing shingles under the tires. (Of course, there happened to be some old roofing shingles in the lean-to.) My sister's boyfriend and I tried to push. Both of us wearing sandals and shin deep in mud, quite the sight to behold. We brought the little truck over and attached a chain to the big truck and tried to yank it out. Nothing... but more mud and spinning tires...Both trucks sinkning further into the mud. Fortunately, we were able to extricate the little truck but the beast was still stuck. My Dad stopped and said this isn't working and went into the house. He returned and told us he called for help.

About 10 minutes later, the most rugged ol' 1 ton truck you could imagine pulls down the dirt road. An older guy in a tank top and mesh trucker's cap (the authentic kind, that let you know that this guy actually drove a piece of heavy equipment at one time, not the Ashton Kuchar poser kind) emerged from the cab. He and my Dad shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. I was watching from a distance, trying to keep the boys from either being run over by a truck or sinking into the mire. My Dad and his friend walked around the truck, surveying the situation. The older guy was now in the mud and muck right next to my Dad. They conferred for few seconds and then set about connecting the ol' 1 ton to my Dad's very stuck truck. They each climbed into their repsective vehicles, my Dad gave the thumb's up to signal he was ready. Both slowly and cautiously step on the accelerators. The forward truck pulled Dad's truck still stuck. The chain connecting the two vehicles had come loose. After some quick reconnecting and tugging to double-check the chain's connection, both men climbed back into the trucks. The 1-ton pulled away, the chain went taught, Dad jumped on the accelerator of his truck and both vehicles pulled forward onto dry ground.

Everyone cheered and clapped as both men got out of the trucks. Dad and his friend exchanged a few more words, put the chains away and the man in the tank top and mesh trucker's hat drove away. My Dad returned to us, all smiles and proceeded to tell us all about the guy who just dragged him out of the mud onto solid ground.

I witnessed something this weekend that had a holy feel to it; a redemptive quality about it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Keep it simple....

Jake and I were reading his learn-to-read bible before bed last and we came across this version of Genesis 12:1-7:

Abraham loved God
God said, "GO!"
So he went.
He went.
and went
and went.
He went until God said, "Stop!"

How straight forward, how simple, how hard to do...

Friday, June 10, 2005

Book Tag

Got tagged by Wilsonian for the book tour. Let's see what this yields...

Number of Books I own:

In the ball park of 200. (Embarassing side note, as I was gazing over the bookshelves I found the long forgotten classics Investing, Wine and Entertaining for Dummies. I was young...I don't know..)

The last book I bought:

The Out of Bounds Church by Steve Taylor

Last Book I read:

The Last word and the Word after that by Brian McLaren

Books that mean alot to me:

The first two grace, grace, grace and more grace
Traveling Merices by Anne Lamott
Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning
This next one; it's all about character
Uprising: A revolution of the Soul by Erwin Mcmanus

One that is just memorable because it is bizarre and quirky:
Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins
This was one of the two books (the other was Giants of the Earth by O.E Rolvaag) I actually read in college. Hippies and Catholic Church Cover Ups. The passage that has stuck with me from the novel seems somewhat trivial. One of the man characters gets caught in a rainstorm. His stride is different than everyone else around him taking the same walk. The other people all have their shoulders pulled up tight. Trying to suck their heads down into their torso, like they were some sort of turtle. It's the rain walk that each of us does. The main character stands tall and walks upright throughn the rain. His rationale... none of us has an umbrella so we are all gonna get wet. Nothing we can do about it. They are gonna be uncomfortable and look goofy. I'm just gonna stand up straight and enjoy the rain.

Another 5 to tag:

I could be the end of the road... The people who would be on my list have already been tagged.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Being 6 is hard work

That's Jake, the only one in a red jersey. It's been a frustrating season for him. His team last year did not lose. His team this year has not won a single game. It's still fun to watch him play. He is all energy and loves to mix it up. (maybe a little too much)

Friday, May 27, 2005

transforming secular space

I read this on the new blog of Ryan Bolger. I realize his point was in reference to teaching specifically on worship. However, this one phrase, describing emergent churches, jumped out at me...."transforming secular space." It got my wheels turnin'.

We currently run 3 services in two different locations at Crossroads; a saturday night service at a community center in stratford and two Sunday morning services at the YMCA in Trumbull.
We ran out of room at the YMCA and at the same time realized we had a large group of folks coming from Stratford up to Trumbull so we launched a 3rd service at the Community center in stratford. We wanted to open up seats in Trumbull so we would have room to invite our friends and feeling like God was moving in stratford, we wanted to be a part of what He was doing there.
We have opened up seats in Trumbull and we are starting to have an impact in Stratford. In both locations part of our impact has been simply because we are in the middle of the community. We are where people go throughout the week. We take secular space and transform it.

People are working their butts off to make this happen. There are three of us on staff and everyone else is volunteer. We transform a cafeteria and gym into a sanctuary and then take it down again every weekend. Our folks look tired. For the most part, people have maintained great attitudes, for the most part. We have lots of conversations about avoiding burn-out.

The question on everyone's mind is, "Will we ever have a place of our own?" That has been the question on my mind as well. Recently though, for me, the question has evolved into "Should we have a place of our own?" Are we more effective being in the middle of the community? Being in a non-traditional/traditional place like New England, would we be more effective if we had white clapboard siding and a steeple? Would that give us more legitimacy in the highly cynical eyes of New Englanders? If we weren't so busy setting up and taking down (and recovering from that) would we have more time to reach out to our friends, to those in need around us? What would we be sacrificing by moving out of secular space? Jesus spent most of his time outside the temple walls, right? If we built temple walls would would those wall become "a refuge from the world or a refuge for the world?"

My world view

Here is my world view as determined by this little quiz I found via Jen Lemen's blog.
You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

Cultural Creative
















created with

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

me and bubba trying to catch a nap

me and bubba trying to catch a nap
Originally uploaded by kayos.

When I used to dream of fatherhood this was the picture that would come to mind. Unfortunately, the nap part is all too rare.

getting your rocks off in NY

My friend Dan taught at the Saturday morning session of our Men's retreat this past weekend. Dan talked about character being central to our relationships; regardless of who those relationships are with. He talked alot about servant leadership and Christ's example, and gave great examples from David's life; examples of moments of really Godly character and not-so-godly character.
He also gave us each a rock. And we talked for a while about how that rock represents the crap in our lives that corrupts our character and harms our relationships. Our challenge was to get rid of that rock before we returned home on Sunday. Dan encouraged us to chuck the rocks off of one of the camps scenic overlooks or to bury it deep in the ground of Upstate NY. That's when somebody chimed in "yeah we can go home and tell everyone we got our rocks off in NY." I got creative and drowned my rock. I threw into one of ponds. I really had no desire to ever see that rock again.

I knew Dan was gonna do a great job with his teaching but I didn't realize how great it was gonna be or how deeply it was gonna impact all of us.

is it broked?

In my continued bumbling, I thought for sure I broke this blog for good last night. If this actually posts all is not lost. Several hours later... I'm not sure what I did exactly...but I think i am back in business and with a 3 column template...just what I always wanted.

Monday, May 23, 2005

360- Men's Retreat

One of the amazing views from Camp Pinnacle, where we took 32 guys from Crossroads this past weekend. It was an amazing trip...guys grew closer to God and to each other. We laughed alot, hung out, got way beyond the surface, and shot each other repeatedly with little round balls of paint.
I haven't digested everything yet so I'm sure there will be more to come

Monday, May 16, 2005

Template #$%!&*)!

Messing with the with everything a work in progress

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

More on the Last word and the Word after that

I wasn't planning on a string of post's on McLaren's new book but it is causing much mental wrestling.

I read these words found on page 121 in reference to the many gospel passages that speak of behavior, judgement and its consequences.

Neil: What's the point that Jesus is trying to make?
Dan: One thing it defintely wasn't just as you predicted. It wasn't 'hold the right beliefs,' 'affirm the right doctrines' or anything like that. Instead, Jesus was clearly interested in action, in what we do, in how we treat others, especially, and in whether we trust him enough to follow his teaching even if it means difficulty and persecution. It was clear that Jesus wasn't just saying anything goes, everything's OK. He was telling people that they would be held accountable that how they live now would count forever.

As I read that, this passage in Ephesians came to mind.

Ephesians 2:8-10

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
My gut reaction, I think mostly from my conservative evangelical background, was "McLaren is advocating a works based theology." I was cringing, thinking okay he is going down a bad road here. Then I went and actually reread the passage from Ephesians, in it's context. When the passage gets cited, verse 10 is often left out. I have read the book of Ephesians numerous times. But as I reread it this time, I was almost surprised as I read v10.

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works..."
Why do we leave that part out? Are we just that lazy? The modern church, maybe unwittingly, has been enabling the bad behavior of Christians. "I believe the right things, I am good, I am covered." When in realilty, through God's grace, good works, especially to those and for those on the edges of society are now our responsibility, our mandate, our mission.

These verses are not our eternal get out of jail free card. They are our marching orders. The gift of grace has been lavished upon us. I can think of no more precious gift, nothing more extravagant, nothing more costly. We must live it out. We have been given much. Much is expected from us.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Something new at Leadership

I have a group of adults who help me lead our student ministries. Last night at our regular Leadership meeting I tried something new. Instead of doing a traditional bible study or training on how reach out to teenagers we did a group contemplative prayer/Lecto Divina kinda thing.
I actually walked our group through the daily prayer for May 9 from Sacred Space, a contemplative prayer site run by the Jesuits.
I was really nervous about how it would be received. I had pictured everything from giggles, to questions about when I became a Yogi.
It was received really well. Everyone was into it. Comments like "that was awesome, I have never done anything like that before" and "I am totally relaxed now" and "What struck me during our prayer time was how grateful I am for all of you and this church and this ministry."
Trying new stuff is worth the least this time it was.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Keeping me up at Night...for a different reason

I was able to spend a little bit of time with the friend I wrote about here.
Now there is something Keeping me up at Night...for a different reason.
He told me that he thought a big part of the reason he came home was to be a part of making our church a place where college folks would want to check out Jesus. He said felt like it was God bringing him back here, like there was something he needed to do here. I couldn't be more excited...for him, for me, for our whole community.
God is good and I can't wait to see what he is going to do next.

Party in the Living Room, Torture in the Basement

This is the title of the 4th chapter of Brian McLaren's new book The Last Word and the Word After That. In the chapter, the main character, Rev. Dan Poole retells the story of his daughter's confrontation with a member of her campus' Christian fellowship regarding the concept of hell.

Rev Dan's daughter, Jess, sums up here difficulties with the idea of hell this way in a previous chapter, "If Christianity is true, then all the people I love except for a few will burn in hell forever. But if Christianity is not true, then life doesn't seem to have much meaning or hope. I wish I could find a better option."

In chapter 4 Jess had decided that becoming a universalist was the best way for her to handle hell. So during a sharing time at a meeting of her campus fellowship she decides to share that fact. Her proclamation was met with silence.
A girl named Joanna catches up with her after the meeting and explains why universalism is one of the worst heresies facing Christianity. Joanna goes on to say that Jess' views on heaven and hell, the Party in the Living Room, Torture in the Basement analogy are worldly. And that Jess lacks an understanding of "God's holiness and justice and God's ways are higher than are ways and whatever..."

I actually stopped and put the book down after reading that section. My brain was cloudy with memories of similar conversations. Conversations, discussions and arguments that took place, 15 years ago in college, 10 years ago with family members, five years ago with high school students, 18 months ago in front of an entire congregation as I helped lead a question and answer day at our church. In hindsight, I am not proud to say, that I was the Joanna character, at least externally. Very matter of factly, very ananlytically stating to friends that " yeah people they know and love will end up in hell." Even before reading this book, the memories of those conversations were not fond ones. The feelings that accompany those memories are ones of regret, of inadequacy, and of betrayal. The Rev Dan character sums up my memories of those conversations later in the book when he says "I had been pretending to know something when deep down inside I didn't."

All this to say that, I no longer feel comfortable, right or good playing the role of Joanna. Nor do I think universalism is the way to go. I am a man without a home. As a youth pastor it feels like a dangerous place to live.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

MAdnesS within

it calls me to the impossible!
it will not relent!
there is no escaping!
This madness that exists within.
it will not let me be]
This madness that exists within.
it was ignited by love/
its flame fanned by passion/
if i try to extinguish it/
it grows/
it is insatiable/
This madness that exists within.
to love the One:.
to love the unlovable:.
to love in spite of the cost:.
to love because of the cost:.
paid by the one:.
who created:.
This madness that exists within.
i am not alone/
i know there are others/
pursued by it/
driven by it/
consumed by it/
This madness that exists within.
there is no therapy]
no program]
no drug]
no cure for]
This madness that exists within.
i am forever in its debt!
i am forever in its grip!
there is no place that I would rather be than with!
This madness that exists within.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Heart pounding

I am reading through the Relevant Church, kinda skipping around. I just finished Holly Rankin Zaher's chapter on Three Nails, an emerging Episcopal Church plant in the Pittsburgh area.
I'm not sure exactly what it was about the story of Three Nails that got me so fired up, but it did. As I read about their planning and praying and discussing what an emerging community of faith might look like, my heart literally began to pound.
There is excitement about the new and untried. There is excitement about maybe reaching people for Christ. There is excitement about something new!!!???

Keeping me up at night

I have been losing sleep lately, not because my kids are sick or I'm stressed out about getting kids signed up for summer camp but over a friend.
A former student from our high school group, decided art school wasn't for him. So he is home now. He did great at school, good grades, made friends; just came to the decision that he wasn't sure he wanted to waste his parents money on another semester of something he just wasn't sure about.
So the thought that is keeping me awake is this: I don't think he really got involved in any kind of church while he was at school. Will he come back to church? The thought that thought grows into is: Once, all our kids leave high school will they find a church? Once their parents aren't there to kick them out of bed, will they get up and go to church? Will they pick up their bibles? Will they search out other people following Christ? Is church, our church, a place, both literally and figuratively, where post-high school age people can come, will want to come, to explore faith and Jesus Christ?
Am I even asking the right question? Is our community of faith, a community that is willing to hang out with young adults?
I am happy my friend is home. It will be good to reconnect with them.
This is a subject I hope to return to often. Its potential upside is huge as far as reaching young adults goes, and it's potential downside is just as large, in that we are at risk of losing a generation.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Blog map

Thought this was kinda cool.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Chained to my circumstances

We started a series at church this week called Life to the Full. I knew it would reach a lot of people right where they are at . I didn't expect to be one of those people. Week 1 was called Releasing the Chains, as each person entered the room they were handed a small card with a picture of a big ol' chain on it. Rich used examples of how Christ freed people from various chains, the paralytic whose 4 friends lowered him through the roof, Legion and the herd of pigs, and the Pharissee and the tax collector at the altar. The service ended with Rich asking us to spend a few minutes with God asking him to release us from our chains, whatever they might be. Then to take that picture of the chain and leave it at the foot of the cross at the front of the room, symbollically asking Christ to free us of our chains.

Up until that moment, I would have said I didn't have any chains. But God's spirit moved in me; showed me how I am chained to my circumstances. Rather than resting in Christ's presence, I slog and bumble and hurk and jerk from one circumstance to the next. High as a kite one moment from an awesome conversation with someone.... dragging tail the next, looking like someone just shot my puppy because the guy at Home Depot handed me the wrong washer and i didn't realize it until I got home. Giddy as a school girl one momemnt because someone just told me how one of my messages really spoke to them...feeling like someone hit me in the stomach with a bat the next, because there is realtional drama amongst our high school students.
I really do want to grow up, to be mature in my faith. Unfortunately, the more I thought about it the more I have allowed myself to be at the total mercy of my circumstances rather than at Jesus' total mercy. So I got up, walked to front of the room and left the chain of my circumstances at the foot of cross.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Retelling of John 4

Check out this modern day retelling of John 4.

Challenging, thought-provoking, beautiful, motivating, confrontational, unsettling, comforting, telling, pick your adjective....I think this retelling captures a picture of Jesus that more people need to see.

Who's afraid of intelligent design?

This article, Who's afraid of intelligent design?, in the Washington post, delivers one of the best and most balanced arguments have I heard for the teaching of the origins and development of life.
I wrote something similar awhile back called More ramblings on Evolution and Stuff.
I believe this may be one of those things we don't discover the complete truth about this side of heaven. That's why it is all the more important for us to have healthy discussions around topics like this.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Leadership-downs and ups

Last year, at this time, I had 11 adult volunteer leaders helping me run our student ministries. It is now down to 4. 5 of them have moved and two (both moms of young kids) stepped down because it became too much for them.
We are still running our programs. More importantly, we are still reaching kids with the love of Christ. God has blessed this ministry with people who are not afraid to invest in kids lives. With fewer leaders, I can spend more time with each of them, discipling and coaching.
This year, I also have two student leaders, a senior guy and a junior girl, who are helping out with our Middle School stuff. Both of them have really stepped up and our impacting kids lives. The other part that is really cool is that our current middle schoolers are asking how they can become student leaders when they are in high school.
God is good. I am incredibly grateful for the leaders that are in place now. I am grateful for God's peace which I truly feel about our current leadership situation.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Free Ipods

Check out this site. Free Ipods. You have to jump through some hoops but it looks legit.

Oh the places you'll go

I found this cool little thing on Stu's Rants.

the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now...

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C /

Go HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Willow Creek Next Gen Conference

I spent 4 days last week at Willow Creek with three of my adult leaders and 6 student leaders. Their new auditorium was unbelievable. 7000 seats??? A coupe of things stick out to me about the trip.
There were only a handful of occasions when I felt like I was leading kids. The students with us truly acted like leaders and lived up to expectations that I placed upon them.
The personal theme for the conference for me was my own personal brokenness as revealed to me in the light of Christ's overwhelming grace and mercy. I'm not in the middle of some major backslide or struggling with a nagging sin but to feel forgivness and grace and mercy wash over me like a river was such a gift. I have been following Christ for 17 years now and it's great to know that God's mercies truly are new everyday.
Maybe the highlight of the trip came after we got home. Bethany, of our student leaders slipped a note in backpack at our Saturday night Service. I didn't find it until the next day. It was a thank you note for inviting her to the conference. She told how she felt like she really connected with God for the first time. She felt a calling on her life; calling to serve others and to serve the Lord. She concluded her letter by telling me she wanted to lead others like I have led her. What a gift to be able to see someone like Beth come into her own, to experience the Lord of the universe and to hear his calling on her life.

Albert Mohler on McLaren's Generous Orthodoxy

I had nearly finished reading Brian McLaren's A Generous Orthodoxy when I stumbled upon this review via Movable Theoblogical by Dr. Albert Mohler. Dr Mohler is the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Dr Mohler writes:

he embraces relativism at the cost of clarity in matters of truth and intends to redefine Christianity for this new age, largely in terms of an eccentric mixture of elements he would take from virtually every theological position and variant.

My take would be a little different. In a Generous orthodoxy I found McLaren affirming and encouraging those aspects of varying denominations which he believes to most closely resemble the early church. At the same time, identifying those aspects of the same varying denominations, that when compared to the church that Christ laid the foundation of, are found lacking. More simply put here is what the Methodist have done well and not done well, here is what the Catholics have done well and not done well, here is what the anabaptists have done well and not done so well, etc.

This is a man who doesn't want to offend anyone on any side of any argument. That's why it's hard to find the orthodoxy in A Generous Orthodoxy.
I think I understand Dr. Mohler's perspective, i.e., the gospel has the potential to be offensive. I do not however agree (and this is an assumption I am making about Mohler's stance) that a potential to be offensive gives us as followers of Christ a license or worse a mandate to offend in the name of Lord.

McLaren effectively ransacks the Christian tradition, picking and choosing among theological options without any particular concern for consistency. He rejects the traditional understanding of doctrine as statements of biblical truth and instead presents a variant of postmodernism
What is the value is consistency for consistency's sake?

A responsible theological argument must acknowledge that difficult questions demand to be answered. We are not faced with an endless array of doctrinal variants from which we can pick and choose. Homosexuality either will or will not be embraced as normative. The church either will or will not accept a radical revisioning of the missionary task.

At the risk of sounding sarcastic and disrespectful, it must be nice to live in a world that is completely black and white. Difficult questions demand to be answered? Who exactly determines who is qualified to answer those questions?

We will either see those who have not come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as persons to whom we should extend a clear gospel message and a call for decision, or we will simply come alongside them to tell our story as they tell their own.
So according to Dr Mohler evangelism consists of reciting the four spiritual laws. The movement of God in our lives has no place in sharing Christ's love, that would be telling our story. Expressing an interest in someone else's life by asking questions about what they believe or about their past experiences has no place in reaching the lost for Christ either because that would mean we would have to listen to their story.

Honest Christians know that disagreements over issues of biblical truth are inevitable. But we owe each other at least the honesty of taking a position, arguing for that position from Scripture, and facing the consequences of our theological convictions.

At the risk of sounding sarcastic yet again it must be nice to have all the answers. According to Dr Mohler there is no room to say "I don't know." A position I believe to both disingenuous and dangerous. I truly believe that scripture has the answers to many questions. I also believe there are some questions that don't have answers.

I am sure Dr Mohler has and will continue influence people for the Lord. He must have worked incredibly hard to attain a position such as the one he holds. He is due a great deal of respect. My hope and prayer is that he has not become so enamored with his posotion and the respect he is owed to be willing to look and listen to those with opinions contrary to his own.

Authoritative Communities

This post on Christdot has got my brain turning. I'm not sure what to do with it yet. But this concept of authoritative communities; multi-generational, intentional gatherings cannot be ignored. I have been a youth pastor, either paid or volunteer for the better of 12 years now and ministry has always been about identifying groups, youth, 20-somethings, young marrieds, seniors, and ministering to and in those groups. The logic to support this is obvious. Or so it seemed. Now, it feels like we have been wrong all this time and possibly robbing our communities of life changing relationships simply because of a demographic.

Much more work and thought to be done...

Friday, February 25, 2005

Pace and consumption

For the first time in 4 years of full-time ministry I feel good about the pace at which I am running. I am spending time with my wife and kids, I am spending time with folks outside of program and I am not tired all the time.

There is only one disappointment right now. I am not able to spend the time I want blogging. I post, like 2x a month. I almost feel guilty. I read the sites of others and I 'll occasionally comment. But I feel as if the blogosphere has turned into one more thing I am consuming. I want to contribute to the conversation. I fear I won't be able to.

Postmodern children's ministry

Originally uploaded by kayos.
Here is a short review of new book called Postmodern Children's Ministry. I am adding it to my "to read list." I have also recommended it our Children's ministry team.

It will be interesting to hear their responses. My hope and best case is they will see it as challenging and stretching.

Friday, February 04, 2005

My brain is fried

I was gonna sit down and write tonite. However, my brain is not firing on all cylinders and the wife just walked in the door from the video store with Anchorman.
Here's to mindless entertainment.!!

the practice of the presence

I recently finished reading practice of the presence of God by Brother Lawerence. Being continually aware of the Lord's presence, asserts Brother Lawerence, makes God's presence in times devoted solely to Him that much more real and moving. I understood the logic but this morning experienced it.
As I have been going through my days, I have tried to remain in the presence of the Lord; uttering small prayers of acknowledgement and thanksgiving. Not that I would consider myself living in the continual presence of God but I now experience God in places like the gym and while stuck traffic. This morning as I wrestled with the first chapter of the book of James, I felt as if I were immersed in God's presence. The intellecual knowledge of John 1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
is mine. This morning the experiential knowledge, the encounter, with the person Christ as the Word of God, was mine as well.
Thank you Father God for the many ways in which you meet us.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Zechariah 14

I have been trying to get through the books of the minor prophets. I have been trying to understand the bible as one of God's tools for revealing himself. I have been trying to get beyond seeing the bible as my "little answer book." "God show me your character" has been my prayer as I spend time reading the bible.

Then there is the 14th chapter of Zechariah. I have always been taught by spiritual leaders and mentors that God will not, even more, cannot compel someone to worship him. My studying of Jesus reveals to me that he loved, cared and healed people into a worshipping relationship. Yet in the 14th chapter of Zechariah there is this:

Zech 14:16-19

16 Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. 17 If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain. 18 If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The LORD will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. 19 This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.

Most scholars believe Zechariah is speaking of the days after armagedon. This sounds like compulsion to me, withholding sustenance? Will God have had all He can stand by that point? And say "It's my way or the highway!" It actually sounds worse than that. It sounds like, "It's my way or no way."

From a worldly standpoint, it would be totally understandable if God were to use this tactic. He set the world in motion, gave us some loose parameters and let us have at it. We then decide to go our own way; over and over and over again. Finally, God get's to the point where He can't take it anymore. "I'm tired of watching you people screw this thing up. Do it my way or else." But God is not of this world. Therefore, a worldly standpoint is irrelevant.

What part of God's character is this? Does this go into the God's ways are higher than mine and I'm not supposed to get it? Will I get it when all things come to completion? How do I explain a passage like this to a friend far from God? To high school student trying to make sense of the world?

Lord give me wisdom.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Incapable of a significant answer

A comment I added to Tim Bednar's post on
To answer the original question, why the silence Tsunamis?
For me personally, I think it is because I lack the capability. I lack the mental and emotional capability of dealing with something so horrific. I sit in my toasty little home and begin to think of orphans bewildered, searching for their parents and I shut down.
I think of parents weeping and wailing at the loss of their of children. I think of my own children fighting to survive in the torrents of water that wreaked so much havoc and I become paralyzed with fear and sadness.
We were staggered, as a nation at the loss of 3300+ on 9/11, I can't begin to comprehend 155,000+.
Spiritually, I don't think there is an answer of any significance that we, as mere humans can offer. Not only does a signifcant answer not exist, I think we diminish the magnitude and tragedy of what happened when we try to offer one.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Why does church have to be this way?

I just got off the phone with dear friends who called to say they were leaving our church. They have been partners in mininstry, supporters and encouragers. Their daughters are very involved in our student ministries. Their eldest daughter is our boy's favorite babysitter. We have invested much in them and they have invested much in us. They have given countless hours of their time and energy, given selflessly of their resources. To say they will be missed is an understatement.
Were they without faults? No. But they love God and they Love other people. And I love them.

They told me they have felt God calling them elsewhere for some time now. Their season with us is over. I don't want to stand in the way of anyone following God's call. With that said though, I don't get it! I don't like it. And I don't understand it! Why does church have to be this way?

When I was in the marketplace people came and went all the time. It never felt personal like this. It never hurt like this.