Thursday, December 21, 2006

Soul rest becomes impossible

Man's greatest moment of pride and character is when he is pushed beyond what he thought was his breaking point and succeeds.

I don't know who first coined that phrase but the man who made me and 45 other teenage boys memorize it was Jerry McDougall, my high school football coach. He is one of the winningest coaches in CT history. While I played for him we won two state championships and at the end of my JR year were ranked #13 in the country. He was the National Coach of the year. When he told us to do something we did it.

So I memorized that sentence and tried to live it. And it served me well for the last twenty years. Playing football in college, dealing with relational hurts, tackling the corporate world, even in ministry, those words echoed in my mind. I have willed myself to do things I didn't think possible. Gail will tell you I even claim to be able to will myself to not get sick when the rest of the family comes down with some nasty virus.

This belief that I can control outcomes has gotten me thus far. the level of responsibility in my life increases, daily, it seems, controlling outcomes and willing myself to succeed has become exhausting. I am tired. My soul is tired. I am learning there is much I cannot control. Then I read this paragraph from Dallas Willard this morning:

"...pride is the root of disobedience. We think we are "big enough" to take our lives into our own hands, and so we disobey what we know to be right. This distances us from God and forces us to live on our own. Soul rest becomes impossible."
(Willard, Renovation of the Heart: Experiments in Spiritual transformation p 145)

I have spent my life trying to control outcomes. I don't like the idea of giving up control. I know that is what it is supposed to mean to follow Jesus. You give control of your life over to Him. And all these years, I guess I thought I had done that. I have let God lead an extent...but then it has been my job to insure the proper outcome.

Jan Johnson, co-author,
Renovation of the Heart: Experiments in Spiritual transformation, suggests starting with this prayer as a way of "abandoning outcomes to God:"

" I trust you, O God. I want to simply rest in your life as you give it to me. Show me how to be at peace...Help me to look to the heavens and exclaim, 'Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. I'm thrilled O God to dwell in your house, O God, forever.'"

I'm, by no means, ready to give up but I want to 'simply rest.'

I don't believe God wants me to abandon the drive and determination I learned under Coach McDougall but at the same time I know God wants me fully surrendered to Him and to the idea that outcomes are His deal, not mine.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Random Bumblings

In the sad state of affairs department:

I have only been posting roughly once a week...that sucks.
I haven't had a real day off in very, very long time.
The assumption that Sunday school is boring. I had a conversation yesterday with a counselor about a child dealing with ADHD. I mentioned the child's difficulties in "Sunday School" and the counselor grimmaced and said Sunday school is especially hard for children with ADHD because it is so boring. The counselor had no knowledge of the specific church or program I was referring to. The assumption was Sunday school is boring...period.

On the lighter side of things:

I went Christmas Caroling on Sunday.....and had a really good time. I'm not, what you would call, the stereotypical caroling type, nonetheless it was a cool afternoon. We visited, what I could only describe as a housing project for seniors in the middle of suburbia. There were probably 25 or so of us, maybe 3-5 of whom had any business singing in public. The youngest caroler was 2 and the oldest was 52ish. I think we really brought a small piece of joy in to some folk's lives. We received hugs and handshakes and were even asked if we would take a donation. (We said no.)

Gail finishes her finals on Thursday.

Jared's Christmas thing for his preschool is tomorrow night. He is shepherd #3. His line is, "He will be a King someday, let's get started right away." The grandparents will be in town and I will have the video camera cranked up. (Anybody ever see the movie parenthood?????)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What do you bring as a symbol of your love and devotion?

That's me with the camera phone and my buddy Gary right before his wedding. It was a great day. He cleaned up real nice for the occasion about 80 friends and family were in attendance and despite my colossal lapse of memory it went off without a hitch.

What did I forget you ask? I forgot the friggin' rings. As the supposed responsible best man I was given the rings about 8 weeks ago because the bride and groom were afraid they would lose them. So Gary and Lexi are standing on the altar and it dawns on me....I don't have the rings. I turned to the groomsmen next to me..."I don't have the rings" Haha very funny was the reply..."No I don't have the rings."....hahahah again.
At this point we are starting to create a little bit of a ruckus at the altar. Finally, the groomsmen last in line and I go downstairs. I send him off with the keys to my house and God's speed to get the rings which were sitting on my dresser approximately 5 miles and as many traffic lights away.
I get back upstairs just in time to do my assigned reading. We all sit at this point as the ceremony progresses to two short slide shows at which point I tell my friend Rich who is conducting the ceremony, I don't have rings. I demand his off his hand and his wife's. Fortunately she was sitting right behind us; my plan was to use their rings just to get us through the ceremony if need be.
The ceremony continues. Ian, the speeding Groomsman, comes back upstairs, and discreetly passes, or so we thought, the rings down the line of groomsmen to me. Come to find out later everyone in the church was laughing at us. Then with the grace of a charging rhino I hand one ring to the matron of honor and with that Rich says Gary, "What do you bring as a symbol of your love and devotion?" "This ring" says Gary and looks at me and I calmly and coolly hand him the ring. Neither he nor Lexi were aware of the chaos spiraling around them. If I hadn't have told them at the reception they would have never known.
Like I said it ended up being a great day.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

One Punk under God

I saw this video from MTV over at It tells Jay Bakker's, the son of Jim and Tammy Fae Bakker, yeah that Jim and Tammy and Fae, story. Jay and his church Revolution are also the subject of a new Sundance series called One Punk under God

Of all the reactions a kid could have to the circus that was his life, starting a church for the disenfranchised and the people the rest of the church have chosen to overlook is pretty cool.


Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ethos NYC

I spent the last 2 1/2 days at the ETHOS NYC event, a leadership expereiment, at Columbia University. The event was lead by Erwin McManus and several of his team from Mosaic LA. I'm not a good note taker so here are some random quotes I jotted down.

Unless otherwise noted the quotes below are form Erwin McManus:
Ethos, defined as, The fundamental character or spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, and practices of a group or society, cannot be created, cannot happen with only one person.

The Church as it exists right now is an institution, what Jesus started was a movement. Somewhere along the line, we lost our motion.

The predominant mindset will become the ethos.

The majority will not lead, a small group willing to risk greatly will lead.

Mystics live in relationship with invisible realities. (Could be my favorite one)

Talent doesn't point to passion.

Ambition is good, selfish ambition is bad.

We have screwed up Jesus' command in Matthew 28:20. He did not tell us to teach all nations all things but to obey all things...most of us already know too much, the question is how much do we obey?

Drawing the line of faith too close creates high maintenance discipleship. Pushing the line out...followers of Christ are those who give all.

If we listen well enough, most people will tell us how to lead them to Christ.

In response to what is the most effective thing you are doing to reach people for Christ:
"We throw parties. Our first party one person came, now 80-100 show up."
one of the Church planters of Mosaic Dusseldorf, sorry I am spacing on his name
"Instead of building a church building we built a coffee shop that sees 600-700 people a day. And we hold a couple services there on Saturday Nights"
Mark Batterson, pastor of National Community Church Washington DC

Emotional health and spiritual maturity are inseparable. It is not possible for a Christian to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.

Most people, in our congregations, live off other peoples spirituality.

My message has to be done by Thursday so I can take my day off on Friday and Sabbath on Saturday.

We violate the image of God in us when we don't practice taking sabbaths.
Pete Scazzero, Founder, New Life Fellowship, Queens, NY

Those are my notes, fragemented as they are. Lots of stuff still churning in my head, may be another post to come on ETHOS NYC: the aftermath

Monday, November 20, 2006

Don't mind me while I rant

A blogging friend recently asked if it was okay to repost some comments I had left. I was told ahead of time the thoughts would be edited; I had paid my friend a compliment in the comment and she thought it too self-serving to reprint it. In the reprint, I was cited as the source. Asking permission to repost my stuff was a very courteous gesture, while not necessary, I appreciated the thought.

Now let's travel to the far end of this spectrum we shall call blogging integrity. Over a year ago, I read and printed for reference, an article on leadership from a favorite e-zine. I recently read a post from a widely-read emerging missional(whatever you wanna call it) blogger on leadership. As I read, I thought "yeah this makes alot of sense." Then another thought occurred to me, "Hey this stuff sounds kind of familiar." I walked away from my computer. A day later, I dug up the old article I had printed. Wouldn't you know it, almost word for word, the article on leadership from the e-zine got jacked, lifted, pilfered!!!! I realize that there is nothing new under the sun; almost all ideas are old ideas revisited. But this was word for word. That's just poor. I don't care who or what the source or who or what the author you don't do that. There wasn't even a token, "I don't remember the guy's name but..." or "I read this someplace else..."
Maybe I'm just being naive. Maybe if you put something out on this crazy internet thingy, you should do it, knowing that someone, somewhere will probably steal one of your ideas and claim it as original. Call me an idealist but blogging integrity is not something to be taken lightly if you take your blogging at all seriously. One would never publish something in print form that was someone else's work with citing the source. I am not suggesting footnotes according to Strunk & White but the simple "Hat Tip" will do; something to give credit where credit is due.

Here endeth my little rant.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

When God breaks through...

So I have been reading through Renovation of Heart: Experiments in Spiritual Transformation by Dallas Willard and Jan Johnson.
In praying through and thinking about the experiment for Day 32, Next steps towards Love, Joy and Peace, I had a huuuuge a-ha. I was considering what the book refers to as the "destructive feelings" that exist in my life. I have gone through my adult life with a bad habit that I didn't know existed. If I have a bad day, a tough exchange with someone, if a program I planned didn't go well, you get the idea, then I am entitled to some sort of compensation for that unpleasantness. Say something goes wrong, I get home, I replay the day and think to myself, that was miserable I am entitled to....not just a glass of wine with dinner but one after the kids got to sleep, or a giant stack of oreos, or 3 hours of video games that end at 2:00 am.
As I thought these things through I realized that I was standing directly in the way of God's work in my life. The bible talks about "God turning what man intended for harm into good" and "God working all things for the good of those who love him."Instead of acknowledging God's ability to work even in the crap of my life I chose to handle it myself.
I prayed and asked God to forgive me for getting in his way and for the faith to trust Him to handle even the crap in my life.
I love it when God breaks through.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Scot Mckinght on an "Evironment of Honesty"

Scot Mcknight has some insightful thoughts on the Ted Haggard Mess that has been/is unfolding.

Haggard's troubles point to larger problems within Evangelical Christianity not just the sins of one man. According to McKnight
1. Christians, and not just pastors, do not feel free to disclose sins to anyone;
2. Christians, including pastors, sin and sin all the time;
3. Christians, including pastors, in evangelicalism do not have a mechanism of confession;
4. Christians and pastors, because of the environment of condemnation of sin and the absence of a mechanism of confession, bottle up their sins, hide their sins, and create around themselves an apparent purity and a reality of unconfessed/unadmitted sin.
5. When Christians do confess, and it is often only after getting caught, they are eaten alive by fellow evangelicals — thus leading some to deeper levels of secrecy and deceit.
Therefore, we need to be diligent about correcting the above. We need to be diligent in creating an "environment of honesty." Please read Scot's full post here.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Love compels us to action

I taught this morning at Crossroads about the how the love we have received from God compels us to action, living beyond ourselves. Sometimes, I take for granted that I live with one of the best example of self-sacrificing love I have ever met.

That's my wife, Gail, playing UNO with the boyz. It's 7:00 on Sunday night. We spent the morning at church. The afternoon was spent watching football with a bunch of the college guys then Dinner at my mom's.

She doesn't complain about the hard parts of doing full-time ministry. She always puts the boyz and I before herself. I am obviously biased but she is truly amazing.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Pleasant Surprises

Have you ever been really pleasantly caught off gaurd by something?

I was, this evening. An old friend and his fiance came over for coffee and dessert. My friend has seen alot of life. A few years ago he made a series of bad decisions that just sent him into a spiral. I did everything I knew how to, to be there for him; gave him rides, gave him money, offered advice, went to court with him, listened to him. Unfortunately, each bad decision seemed to make him withdraw from me all the more.

As he withdrew, I continued attempts to reach out to him. It became increasingly difficult to catch up with him. His phone got disconnected, his cell was destroyed in a car accident. Towards the end, even when I did manage to catch up with him and arrange times to meet he wouldn't be there. We lost touch.

A mutual friend was home for a visit. We were telling stories and rehashing memories. We decided to go find our long lost friend. We went to his last known address and just happen to find him home. He seemed genuinely happy to see us. That was about a year and half ago.

He has since got back involved with a local church, has a steady job, seems to be making some good decisions and has a beautiful fiance who loves him.

So back to tonight. He handed me some money and said there would be more coming. I never expected him to pay me back when I gave him the money but he did. The money doesn't matter to me but the fact that he is dealing with his past in a constructive manner made my whole month. He seems to be in a genuinely good way. I couldn't be happier for him. As he was leaving, he shook my hand, looked me straight in the eye and said "Thank you."

Did I mention I was pleasantly caught off guard?

Monday, October 16, 2006

it's tough being a raider fan

Anybody want to make a comment about the raiders performance last night. I can take it. Whatever the comment might be I'm sure it's deserved.

My buddies and I have this deal where the one whose team has the highest draft pick (read worst record from the previous season) has to host our annual "NFL Draft Day party." I will be sending out an email later today asking if anyone has any special requests for the Draft day menu. It's a sad day when I know will be hosting....and it's only October.

"Commitment to, uh...mediocrity....whatever"


Friday, October 13, 2006

'til I'm old and grey

I started doing Student Ministry as a Young life volunteer. I had a "real" job ( I sold toilet paper and lots of it...don't laugh everybody needs it right?) and lived a normal life. I never would have guessed that 14 years later I would still be hanging out with middle school and high school kids and doing it professionally. Over the course of that time there were phases when I would look ahead and think I'm gonna do this 'til Johnny graduates. Then Johnny graduated and I said I think I can do this until Suzy and Joey graduate. Most recently, I said I think once Russ, Zak and Steve graduate I'm done. That would be June '08.

This past Wednesday, I drove a car full of freshmen guys from our weekly meeting over to the local fast food joint. Football players, skaters, honors-class kids and gamers; great homes, broken homes, dysfunctional homes; leaders, followers, and rebels, all who have allowed me into their amazing, wacky messed-up lives. We laughed and joked the whole drive. We piled out of mini-van and I watched the six of them walk into the restaurant.

I smiled and thought to myself I gonna do this 'til I'm old and grey.


Is God Green?

I hate politics. I especially hate it when it gives God a bad name. I hate it even more when "God's people" give God a bad name. There are those instances, which are way too rare, when a few folks who claim to be followers of Christ stand out in the parade of political nonsense as admirable and worthy of imitation.

Is God Green? recently aired on PBS and you can view it in it's entirety here. It was an intestesting combination of why I hate politics, more and more, why I want to distance myself from the religous right and a few individuals whom I would do well to imitate.

Despite how I feel about politics it was a great piece. Thought provoking on many levels and worth the time to watch it.

On a side note, if you watch this thing, there are several clips of congregations singing. Why is it that the media shows only those congregations that are tone-deaf and/or rthymically impaired?


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Movin' on up...

So, our leadership team at Crossroads has been in talks with a local Epsicopal Church to see about sharing their building. After several months of discussions and more importantly praying and seeking God's leading it looks like we are going to be moving down the street into actual church building.

I'm excited about this move for a number of reasons. (not in any order)
It means a semi-permanent home for us. Regular set-up and take down will be minimal.

It means a building that looks like a church. Believe me, I am the first to say and try to live out. "We don't go to church, we are the church...we need to be the church." That being said one of the the peculiarities of New England is a love/hate relationship with tradition. We currently meet in the gym of the local YMCA. Many visitors and would-be visitors have expressed a concern or issue about the facility. I'm not just talking about "church people" looking for the right place to meet their needs either. At the same time, some of those same folks are concerned that meeting in a building that looks and feels like a church will drudge up baggage from their uprbinging associated with their parent's church or some other sort of unpleasantness. Like I said it's a love/hate thing. While this might be a detrimant in some contexts I believe here in the enigma that is New England it will help.

Moving into a traditional building provides us with a great opportunity to re-purpose things like the stained glass windows and the kneelers. How cool it would be to provide people with an opportunity to see tradtional church trappings from a new perspective...We are all keenly aware that the new building looks like a church so we are already in the process of brainstorming ways to make to sure we don't define ourselves by our building, to make sure that we continue to be about much more than a place and a time.

This move means a chance to do something with very different community of faith. We will maintain separate services, sunday schools and all that good stuff. Simply the fact that two churches are sharing a space like grown-ups has huge potential to reach the surrounding community.

Our leadership has taken on a much bigger "kingdom" attitude about the whole thing. God is calling us to do this thing. We may or may not benefit from this at all. It's possible that the reason we are doing this is for the other congregation.. Who knows? But the fact that we are thinking of Christ's Church and not our church is very cool.

Anyway, like I said I am excited. Please pray for the people of Crossroads and of Grace Episcopal and for the next leg of our journey together.


Monday, October 09, 2006

Recent Readings

I have been struggling to get back into a discplined habit of bible reading. I recently read through 1 & 2 Timothy and came away with a little surprise. There is an often quoted portion of a verse in 2 Timothy 1 verse 7, "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power..." That's where the quote usually ends. In it's entirety the verse reads "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. "

God gives us a spirit of self-discipline. I got such a boost out of that. The spirit of God is at work on my behalf even in self-discipline. It also knocked me back a step. What bad form to take bits and pieces of scripture to meet a given need. Shame on me!

I have also been reading through Renovation of the Heart: Experiments in Spiritual Transformation by Dallas Willard and Jan Johnson. Dallas Willard has always been recommended to me as one those guys you need to read. "It will stretch you" people said. I don't know if I'm an idiot or what, but for the life of me, I haven't been able to get through a Willard book. Renovation takes small excerpts from Willard's book of the same name and supports them with daily experiments in spiritual transformation. Finally, I feel like I am making some progress. I have really gotten into each exercise that follows the reading. Maybe I am just a slow processor and need that extra time to contemplate the deep thoughts from Dallas. I am thinking about trying to pull some folks together this winter and work through the book as group. Maybe meet once every other week and talk about how we have been reading and be continued


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Weekend o' sports

We had a great weekend. Thursday Night Jake and I went to Yankee stadium and watched the Yanks get almost no-hit. Jake's line of the night, "Even though they lost it was still the best night of my life."

Friday Night, I hung out with some college and high school folks watching the Golden Eagles of Trumbull High dismantle the black knights of Stamford.

Saturday was at the UCONN/Navy game. My Father-in-law went to the naval academy back in the day and is still a die hard fan. It was pretty cool to sit amidst all the midshipmen and former and present sailors as Navy kicked the snot out of UCONN. Man I miss football!!!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Wanna go for a walk?

I have been thinking about/ had the images of the account of Jesus transfiguration stuck in my head for going on a year now. Even after a year my thoughts on it are still pretty disjointed so please add your $.02 or ask for clarification.

My really rough paraphrase is this: Jesus asked his three closest friends to go for a walk. When they got to where they were going things got funky. Jesus started to glow. Then two other guys who had been dead for hundreds of years show up. Not knowing what else to do, one of Jesus' three friends, Peter, suggests they set up camp so they can all hang out for a while. Then this voice from the clouds starts in, " This is my son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him."
Petrified Jesus' friends bury their faces in the ground. When they look up, everyone is gone and everything is quiet. Jesus helped them process through what they had just seen and asked them not to discuss the whole thing with anyone else for a while.

The actual account is recorded in the book of Matthew.

Jesus spent three years, pretty much 24/7, with Peter, James and John. They got to see Jesus do all kinds of amazing things and what I imagine must have been all kinds of mundane things.
We don't know if Jesus was aware of what was about to happen when he asked the three to go for a walk with him that day. Nevertheless he asked and ended up sharing one of the high points of his life on earth with Peter, James and John.

They didn't balk at his invitation. They were used to Jesus sharing not just his work or ministry with them but his life as well. It was not out of the ordinary, again my really rough paraphrase, for Jesus to say to Peter or James or John or all twelve of the disciples, "Hey I have to run a few errands, wanna come with?" In sharing his life, his friends got to see how he responded to the valleys, to the plateaus and to the mountaintop experiences. Jesus' "training program" was no program at all. He simply lived life out in the only way he knew how and invited others to come along for the ride.

Finally, after Jesus and the twelve had been together for a while Jesus started to ask them to run the errands by themselves. They would go off and do their thing, with varying degrees of success and return to Jesus and tell him about what they did.

So what? So if I call myself a Christ-follower, then I need to be intentionally developing relationships, intentionally sharing my life with others. Not simply reading through the gospel of John with Harry or Sally on alternate Tuesday evenings but opening up my life and allowing others to see how I walk with and respond to God in the valleys, on the plateaus and on the mountaintops. Have them over for dinner, ask them to go to Home Depot with me, tell them I am volunteering at a soup kitchen and ask them to help out. We never know when God might break through in the middle of the mundane and do something amazing. How cool would it be if we could share it with someone?

If you are on the other side of that coin, trying to follow Christ or figure out if He is trustworthy to be followed; ask someone you know who has been doing it for a while. Ask them if you can tag along?

Like I said a little disjointed, but some really important stuff in this story about Jesus and his friends going for walk.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

....not every man really lives.

If you were rich but you had to work, you know there was a law or something that said everyone had to have a job what would you do for a job and why?
That question is supposed to tell us what we were made to do. I’m not sure how reliable the question is but I do know this. Each of us has dreams, passions and talents inside of us. And if we don’t let them out, we die a little bit everyday.

You hear people say we only use 10% of our brains or whatever it is. I think the large majority of us only really live 10% of our lives. We settle for something way short of what I think life was meant to be.

As a high school student, I remember looking out into the Adult world and thinking to myself is that all there is? Go to school; get a job where I work crazy hours to get a promotion so I can work crazier hours so I can buy a car with the right emblem on it?

I literally used to live in fear of life as the walking dead; like the opening scene from Joe versus the volcano. An army of grey suited drones schlep into an awful grey tinted, fluorescent lit, cubicle enclosed world, day after day after day. It was my definition of hell on earth A girl I dated, once played this song for me called Ordinary Joe. She told me she meant it as a compliment. The song is about this guy who goes to his cubicle everyday and does nice things for the people in his office. He just lives an ordinary life doing nice things. I freaked out. I was so pissed I couldn’t even speak. “Is that what you think of me? I’m just gonna be some schmo in an office?” It still irritates me and that was a long time ago.

I think the reason it made me so mad was there was nothing about working in an office that lined up with the any of the stuff I dreamt about or was really important to me. I have come to realize that those dreams, passions and talents are a part of who I am, a part of who I was made to be. I don’t know what all of you guys think about God or even if a God exists but I believe in God and I believe He put those dreams and passions and talents inside me and inside you.

There is a verse in the Old Testament written by a guy named Jeremiah, he was a prophet, a messenger from God that says:

I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out--plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

12"When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen.

13"When you come looking for me, you'll find me.
"Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, 14I'll make sure you won't be disappointed." GOD's Decree.

The God of the universe places dreams and passions and talents inside each of us. He wants to see us live the life He intended for each one of us. When we come to Him, He will help us live the other 90% of life that so many miss. It won’t necessarily be safe or worry-free, but it will be a life fully lived.

“Every man dies, but not every man truly lives.”
~William Wallace~

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Origami Hustle

A friend and I recently entered this video in an Art show. The theme of the show was feet. The piece was his idea and his craftsmanship I just helped him put it on video and do a little editing.

Enjoy it.


Sunday, September 10, 2006


We held our annual baptism service this morning. The people standing at left were all the baptizees. The weather was perfect. The day is always important in the life of our little community of faith but today was even more so for me and my family. I got to baptize our oldest son Jake, founding member of Kayos. That's him, leaning forward, in the red trunks.

I looked at Jake and asked him, just loud enough for the two of us to hear, "You ready buddy?"

He nodded with a big smile. I grasped his hand and said "Jake, I" .......... Long pregnant pause.....I was overwhelmed at what was happening. My oldest son was placing a stake in the ground, in his words, " I want to spend the rest of my life with God." I choked back some tears, "Jake, I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." I dunked him, then yanked him up out of the water and gave him a huge bear hug.

It was a good day.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

George Barna's Revolution

I read Barna's book back in March and wrote this about the same time. I saved it as a draft and forgot about it. Here it is, better late than never.

From George Barna's Revolution p. 49

The above is the graphic depiction of what George Barna has labeled the next great age of church history, the Revolutionary Age. I spent the last two weeks reading and underlining and dog-earring pages in Barna's latest work entitled Revolution: Finding vibrant faith beyond the walls of the sanctuary. In a nutshell, Barna's research has led him to the conclusion that the local church, it's attendance, bank roll and importance in the lives of believers and seekers (I don't like that word but don't have a better one) alike, has been and will continue to wane in importance. The lives of those truly trying to follow Christ, as defined by following Christ in the way of the apostles, are being shaped by influences other than the local church. Barna contends that "there is nothing infherently wrong with being involved in a local church but association with a church no more makes you a follower of Christ than "being in Yankee stadium makes you a professional baseball player."

Barna refers to those who are at the heart of this movement as Revolutionaries. He lays out seven traits of the early church which are, according to Barna, at the heart of the Revolution as a movement and the Revolutionary as the individual. He also draws upon his years of polling and research to see how the local church measures up to the early church.

Every believer was expected to worship, not attend a service but a commitment to respond to the greatness and glory of God, every day, both in private and in the company of other believers.
For those who participate in a local church... Worship happens only in the context of a service once or twice a week. Only 50% of all Christ followers say they have entered into God's presence in the last year.
Faith based conversations pour out of the revolutionary; springing from the very excitement that one has about their own relationship with Christ.
For those who participate in a local church...Most will die without leading a single person to Christ. Most cite lacking the gift of evangelism as rationale for not sharing Christ's love with others.
Intentional spiritual Growth happens as individuals actively pursue it; not sit back and wait for it to happen.
For those who participate in a local church...Most spend more time in a year doing just about anything else (t.v., music, hobbies, reading other books) than reading the bible. Success is hardly ever defined in terms of their relationship to God.
Servanthood Nothing reflects Christ, his love and his message more than selfless of acts of service
For those who participate in a local church...Most would rather give money than be personally involved in helping someone. Only one out of four in the local church actually serves others and in most cases it is other congregates
Resource Investment The apostles shared "everything"as they had need as good managers of what God had entrusted to them.
For those who participate in a local church...The average yearly donations total roughly %3 and that is self perceived as sacrificially generous.
Spiritual Friendships Intentional relationships built on accountability and encouragement were the one of the centerpieces of the early church
For those who participate in a local church...The biggest influencers are the law, media and other family members. Fewer than 1 in 6 have an intentional spiritual relationship.
Family Faith The home was the primary vehicle for spiritual growth and development of all family members.
For those who participate in a local church...Fewer than 10% worship, pray or study the bible together outside of church. Most families feel they are not doing a good job at spiritually growing their children

The bottom-line according to Barna is that placing all our hope in the local church is "misplaced hope." The implication is that because the local church, as Modern America has constructed it, does not look like the early church and is not sufficient unto itself to support and/or facilitate life in the way of Jesus; the Revolution. As Barna himself writes, "A healthy local church will always have a valid and valuable role within God's kingdom...The revolution is about recognizing that we are not called to go to church. We are called to be the church."

The Revolution also marks a departure from the other major movements within the church. According to Barna, " it's impetus [The Revolution] is not salvation among the unrepentant but the personal renewal and recomittment of believers...In the end the Revolution transforms believers so that they can transform the world." This is the part of the book with which I have the greatest trouble. If the Church, those who call themselves Christ followers, becomes completely introspective (which I take Barna's use of the word impetus to mean) it will have failed. Our natural inclinations, are always to turn inward. We want to surround ourselves with people who look like us and act like us and think like us. This type of mindset quickly becomes us and them. This mindset is antithetical to Jesus' ministry. Jesus had hard words for the religious people of his day for just such a mindset. Jesus' impetus was "to seek and save what is lost." In my mind, the bottom line on this issue is the Christ follower's job is "to make disciples of all nations," believer, seeker or otherwise.

Barna suggests local churches have 2 responses to the revolution: 1) Fight it and defend turf, territory and traditions but he adds why fight it? Barna's interpretation of scripture is that the modern church, as we have constructed it, is absent from scripture. He relies on several passages from the Book of Acts as a blue print for the Church. (Acts 2:42-47, 4:24, 31-35, 5:17-18, 27-29, 40-42) The requirement that he points out is one of continual worship in spirit and in truth. Therefore, whether someone is connecting with God and other believers on blogs, in a Starbucks or within the walls of a church does not matter.

So in reality, in Barna's mind there is only one choice; figure out how to become part of the Revolution.

There is much that desreve close analysis in Barna's effort. I see real life people and their stories that match Barna's data. Sadly, I see how the modern church does not reflect the early church. But I am not ready to throw the baby out with the bath water. Barna paints a utopian picture of revolutionaries and their impact on the world. Are there people out there who are completely sold out for the cause of Christ? Absolutely. Is it possible for people to grow in Christlikeness outside of a "church" context? Sometimes. I appreciate Barna's book as a reality check. The seven passions of a revoltutionary are things, that as Christ followers, we should all be passionate about. How I am doing as an individual in these seven areas? How is the church that I am part of doing? What can I do to make these seven things happen in my context? What should I stop doing that might allow these seven things to happen? However, it almost feels as if Barna is encouraging folks to leave their churches in search of Christ. Even more than that, if you are serious about Jesus than you must leave the local church. He throws in the occasional, well sure there are churches that are healthy and those are good. It feels almost like a token gesture.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006


This was the sign hung on the door to the men's restroom of a local fast food place. I am a big fan of clear, concise, pointed directions.

I wonder how many "unfortunate incindents" there were before this sign was hung?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Footprints Washed away in the Sand

Found this awesome new take on the old poem Footprints. Please go visit this guy Sean who rewrote the poem. Just to give you a little taste, here are my favorite lines:

Footprints guy to Jesus:And I gripe, “But I thought you were the nice guy that would never make me struggle if I didn’t want to!”

And Jesus would reply, “Seriously, if you want someone to carry you, first you’re going to have to lay off the donuts. And second, find a god that doesn’t care so much about you.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Rain Down

When I was a junior in college I read a novel called Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins for my American history 1945-the present class.
One particular passage stuck with me. I think about it on a regular basis, even now some 16 years later. I had occasion to read this passage again this summer. This time it was presented to me as an example of choosing a good attitude. Here is the passage:

As was my custom in such elements I hunkered down against the rain, drew my head into my collar, turned my eyes to the street, tensed my footsteps and proceeded in misery. But my hosts, I noticed, reacted in a quite a another way. They strolled calmly and smoothly, their bodies perfectly relaxed. They did not hunch away from the rain but rather glided through it. They directed faces to it and did not flinch as it drummed their cheeks. They almost reveled in it. Somehow I found this significant. They accepted the rain. They were not at odds with it, they did not deny it or combat it; they accepted it and went with it in harmony and ease. I tried it myself. I relaxed my neck and shoulders and turned my gaze into the wet. I let it do to me what it would. Of course, it was not trying to do anything to me. What a silly notion. It was simply falling as rain should, and I another phenomenon of nature, was sharing the space in which it fell. It was much better regarding it that way. I got no wetter than I would otherwise, and if I did not actually enjoy the wetting, at least I was free of my tension. I could even smile.
So tonight, as I stepped out into the pouring rain, the words of Tom Robbins again ran through my head, as drops of water ran down my face. I relaxed and let my shoulders droop into their normal position. I set out on my somewhat long walk to the car. I smiled.

How about you, ready to be at ease in the rain?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

R & R

I had full intentions of getting back into regular posting when I returned from the last trip with our students. Alas, twas not to be. Scrambling to get caught up on 3 weeks worth of work due to trips and getting ready to be away for another two of R & R with the Fam didn't leave a moment to breathe.

It's been great so far. It kicked off with my cousin's wedding in Boston. The event was top shelf the whole way through. The rehearsal dinner in the north end was amazing, my cousin looked beautiful at the wedding, ( I would post a photo but my digital camera took a swim on the canoe trip but that is another post) the reception was a great time of eating, drinking , dancing and catching up family I haven't seen in way too long. The brunch the next morning was a great ending to a great weekend. The icing on the cake was that Kayos looked like perfect little gentlemen in their suits and ties (again insert picture here) and pretty much acted like perfect gentlemen. And yes Jake and I lost the mohawks before the wedding.

The quote of the weekend goes to my cousin-in-law Derek. He was supposed to lead everyone in some response type prayers. The whole thing was scripted for him, including phonetic spelling of family names. At one point, before he was supposed to go up front I heard mumbling coming from my right. I looked over and he was practicing what he was supposed to say out loud. Needless to say, he was really nervous about the whole thing. The service ends and he was never called up to do the prayers. We all stand and applaud my cousin and her new husband as they recess down the aisle. Derek looks at me and says, " F---in' A, What the hell? He forgot to call me, the priest forgot to call me up to pray." We both laughed and followed the bride groom down the aisle.

I met a guy named Mark who was in the army and served in Iraq for 13 months. He finished his commitment and signed up to go back as a civilian contractor building military installations. He works 13 hour days in 115 degree heat for 4 months at a time. He then gets 10 days of unpaid leave: R & R. Man, I thought I needed a vacation....

Posting will be sporadic until September. I hope everyone is having a great Summer.

peace and prayers.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

1000 mph

Life continues to move at a blinding pace.

I spent last week in the Adirondacks with a group a middle school and high school folks rock climbing, conquering the ropes course and canoeing. It was pretty hard core. No bathrooms, no deodorant, no ipods. Everybody was challenged physically, mentally and spiritually. Concepts like choosing a christlike attitude were taught through our experiences away from the comforts of home. God showed off for us in some the nature that we got to enjoy. This was the view of Long Lake from our campsite the first night out in the canoes.

This week has been full of meetings and prep for next week's missions trip to Schuykill County PA. If you are the praying type please pray for our efforts to serve the poor, homeless, young and old of the this once great coal mining region.

Oh yeah...below is shot of Jake and I with our mohawks. It's become kind of a summer trip ritual. This year Jake wanted in on the action.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

"You cheated"....."Pirate"

I can't believe my 100th post on Bumbling Forward is gonna be one of these goofy "what would you be" things but I can't help myself. When I see one, I am compelled to find out what type of drink I am, or flavor of ice cream or in this case Super Hero. As it turns out I am most like Capt Jack with William Wallace and Maximus close behind

Captain Jack Sparrow




William Wallace


The Terminator


Indiana Jones


Batman, the Dark Knight


Lara Croft


El Zorro


The Amazing Spider-Man


Neo, the "One"


James Bond, Agent 007


Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with

(HT M Squared T blog)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Movie Quotes

My buddies from high school and I can carry on entire conversations without speaking an original word or uttering an original thought; not because we are incapable but because we love to quote movies. One of them, Slink, will call out of the blue, every so often and just say something like...."You ask for miracles Theo...I give you the F....B...I...." and I am obliged to reply something like "Yippee kaiyee Mother-'F'er" or another line from...come on now...Die Hard. Slink's wife, who is a very nice woman doesn't speak movie qoute. He needs to share with someone who will appreciate him on that level. That's why I'm here.

I had been married for roughly 2-3 years when my wife and I finally watched the movie Caddyshack together. It was the first time she had ever seen the movie. About half way through the movie she looked at me with this I caught you red-handed kinda grin.

"You're a jerk," she said
"Huh? What did I do?" I replied
"All this time I thought you were a funny guy when in reality all you have been doing is quoting this stupid movie."
I laughed sheepishly..."Yeah...what's your point?" I shot back rather pleased with myself.

You see there is a subtlety to correctly using a movie quote. Slipping a line into converstation, where if someone were paying enough attention and familiar enough with the line, they would reply with the next line of the movie. If the person on the other end of the conversation missed the reference, there might a be a brief pause, as if to ask with their eyes, "I'm sorry what was that?" If the line was subtle enough and appropriate enough the question never really gets asked.

Then there are those quotes that just get shouted out of nowhere for fun. Our friend Cynthia, lived with us for a couple of months, several years back. She and my wife our best friends. The two of them spent a lot of time watching A Few Good Men while she was here. There was an awful lot of:

"You want answers?"
" I want the truth."
"You can't handle the truth"

I have a new line to add to the databanks of favorites, from The Chronicles of the Narnia (as my four year old calls it) or the Chronic-what-cles of Narnia as my friends Chris Parnell and Andy Sandberg would call it.

Mr. Tumnus: (of Aslan) "He's not a tame lion."
Lucy Pevensie: "No... but he's good."

Do you speak Movie Quote?


I dreamt last night. The subject of the dream is irrelevant. The point is that I dreamt. In the midst of my dream, I became I aware that I was dreaming. I was happy, almost blissful, in that moment in my dream. I knew that if I was dreaming that meant I was in a deep sleep.

I don't remember when I dreamt last. I don't remember the last good night's sleep I got. Last night I got both.

"come back here you rabbbbittt.....nighty night"

Monday, June 12, 2006

Bubbles, bad guys, bubbles and blue skies

We spent a couple of hours over at friend's house ysterday afternoon. His wife was away so he was home alone with his two boys, ages 8 and 6 for the weekend. Doing more than the regular amount of Mr Mom activity lately, I felt for my friend. I called him on Saturday and left him a message asking if he wanted a break on Sunday afternoon. I told him Gail and I would bring our boys, whom I have affectionately been referring to as Kayos recently, over and play with his guys and he could go get a cup of coffee or take a nap or something. He called back and said that would be great.

It was an unbelievably gorgeous day. The kind of day that makes you think of every other beautiful day you've experienced. The memories seem to magnify the beauty of the now. It actually got to the point where Kayos actually had to ask Gail to stop saying "what a beautiful day it was."

We arrived at my friend's house, our boys bounded out of the car and his kids came leaping out the front door of their house. After the initial confusion, we got everyone settled in the back yard to jump off swings, not swing on mind you, but jump off of and climb trees and jump on trampolines and blow bubbles, and chase bad guys. My friend decided he would use his kid-free time to hang some wall paper and cut the front lawn. It wouldn't have been my choice with a few hours of babysitting time but hey, it's his time.

My friend's 6 year old, P. is an amazing little guy; blonde 1950's crew cut, thickly built, like a little linebacker, and full of energy and enthusiasm. He and I spent most of the afternoon blowing bubbles. I held a 32oz bottle of bubble juice that he would stick the bubble wand into and blow with all his might. Whether it was a two or twenty, the bubbles were shiny and no matter what shape they came out of the wand as, they ended up as perfect spheres.

Sometimes he would chase the bubbles and step on them, sometimes he would try to catch them in his mouth. Sometimes he would release the bubbles from the wand and they would take off on little gusts of wind and we would watch them float above the trees and dissapear into the perfectly blue sky.

Gail had the other three guys well in hand. They had moved onto riding bikes and big wheels on the front sidewalk. P. and I were still in the back yard blowing bubbles. Over the course of the afternoon, P. and I exchanged maybe three or four words. We didn't really need much more than that. We had the bubbles, the breeze, the blue sky; at the moment it seemed like all we needed. Unfortunately, those are all the words P. really has. You see he suffers from autism; a disorder which drastically impairs his ability to speak, impairs his ability to interact with others, and effects his interests in a way that causes him to fixate on those things you and I might find inconsequential.

I am thankful for my afternoon with P., hopefully there will be many more like it. I went expecting to chase some young boys around the backyard, get frustrated with them for playing too rough, maybe have someone blow their nose in my shirt tails and hopefully help my friend catch his breath for a moment. I left having learned some things. I always respected my friend and his devotion to both his children but especially P. but I learned a deeper respect for him. I learned what a horrible disorder autism is, how it effects not only the child inflicted with it but his brother and parents, and their every waking and many sleepless minutes. Again something that I knew but only at a very superficial level. I learned or more correctly, P. helped me remember what an awesome thing bubbles can be.

Friday, June 02, 2006

You are what you drink

Below are my beverage personalities. Pretty accurate....
How about you?

(Ht to Subvervise influence)

You are a Black Coffee

At your best, you are: low maintenance, friendly, and adaptable

At your worst, you are: cheap and angsty

You drink coffee when: you can get your hands on it

Your caffeine addiction level: high

You Are Guinness

You know beer well, and you'll only drink the best beers in the world.
Watered down beers disgust you, as do the people who drink them.
When you drink, you tend to become a bit of a know it all - especially about subjects you don't know well.
But your friends tolerate your drunken ways, because you introduce them to the best beers around.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Loverboy and church

Found some really thought provoking stuff on Pastors "working for the weekend." The majority of our time and energy is spent prepping for one hour. What about the rest of the week?

Below is the stream consciousness that came out of the Loverboy post:

what if we occasionally cancelled Sunday morning and as a local community went and did something, you know as the hands and feet of Christ?

What if Sunday morning was “learn by doing time?”
Maybe a given Sunday Morning was all prayer? Not a message about why we should pray or exegeting great prayers of the bible but the whole community actually praying? Something we are supposed to do without ceasing gets center stage…

I think saying it (There is more to following christ than sunday morning) over and over is a good idea also. In addition to saying it, what if we took a sunday morning and asked the question to the community how can we make Sunday morning part of your journey instead Sunday morning being the journey?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Origins Conference

I spent the last few days in sunny Pasadena Ca at the Origins Conference hosted by Erwin McManus and the folks at Mosaic.

I have read Erwin's stuff before and heard alot of the concepts and ideas that drive Mosaic. A few things hit me this time around.

Creativity is a natural result of Spirituality.
Every person is created in the image of a creative God. As each one of us begin to understand who we are and where we come from creativity should be the result.
Creativity is not the possession of the few but of all. The creative process reflects and glorifies God. Creativity's natural home is the church. We have reduced our gatherings to nothing more than a lecture surrounded by often times completely irrelevant music.

The F-word
The word fellowship is kicked around christian subculture like a hacky sack. According to the folks at the origins project, the bastardized (my term not their's) version of fellowship which so many people settle for kills churches. It causes the people of a given community to become internally focused and they cease to reach out to those who are hurting and lost. They exchange warm comfortable discussions for dangerous messy life changing relationships. Peter Jackson painted a more biblical picture of fellowship in the first Lord of the Rings movie than most churches do. Fellowship is supposed to be what Christ followers do together to reach others with God's Love.

Phrases worth remembering:
Talent can crush character
Adults only learn in crisis. In order to develop character we need to create crisises.
The gospel brings out the beauty of a culture.

Contextualizing conference stuff:
The pace and values of Fairfield county, CT are killing people from the inside out. How do we help people discover the individual they were intended to be?
The church needs to open it's front doors as wide as can possibly be imagined. At the same time the church must narrow the stair that allows people to positions of influence and authority.
Where am I taking wrong turns on the journey of developing Christ-like character?

Origins and Ethos are coming to Manhattan November 28, 29, 30th, 2006. If you are an east coaster and hesitated to make the trek to Cali you won't want to miss this. Click here to check for info as it becomes available

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Hank Hill goes church shopping

I don't kow whether to laugh or cry....

Friday, May 12, 2006


A friend from the "real world" has joined the ranks of the blogosphere. Stop by her blog and show her some love.

Welcome to it Trace. I'm glad you are here.

Friday, May 05, 2006

National Day of prayer-revisited

So for the past few years our little community of faith has been hosting our local National Day of Prayer Event. Every first Thursday in May, people are supposed to gather in their local communities to pray for our country, our government officials, our troops, our families, our communities, the media, the poor, the aged, the imprisoned, and our youth. Each local session is supposed to start at noon across the country. (I don't know what they do with the whole time zone thing)
The national effort is championed by the Dobsons of Focus on the Family, fame or infamy, depending on your perspective.
I went; more to support my friend and boss who was leading the day's festivities. I had a lousy attitude about the whole thing. When I got there, he asked if I wanted to lead a section of the program. I politely declined. Instead of approaching the afternoon with a sense of hope and expectation of meeting God in prayer I had my back up. In hindsight, I feel like the day has become more of a political event rather than a prayer event. The thing felt like it had an underlying religious right agenda rather than a Kingdom agenda. I'm sure a lot of that is my own baggage and hyper-sensitivity to some of the less than Christ-like comments and actions that tend to originate from the right. Whatever the reasoning, I missed an opportunity to meet with the Father, who loves us all, right, left, middle; independent or lunatic fringe.
I didn't intend it to be but there is my confession.

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Crazy ...Crazy...Crazy

It's been almost a month since my last post. Sorry, this life thing, or more correctly a lack thereof, got way out of hand.

I taught on a Sunday morning. We are discussing the book of 1 John. The series is called Experiencing God. My weekend was called Experiencing God: In Worship. I struggled to put it together but after all was said and done I received pretty positive feedback.

I have done a ton of video editing. We held our last club, our high school outreach, for the school year. I know, a little a early, but we are switching to Ultimate Frisbee for the spring/summer. But I digress. Our last club has become senior night. So for our seniors, I took the last 7 years of video footage from meetings, trips, retreats and hanging out and condensed it to a 20 minute highlight reel. I burned it ( a 12 hour nightmare which culminated with a support tech at apple reading to me from an iDVD manual...ugh!!!) and all the videos from their Student Ministry experience with us into a 2-disc set. The end result was worth it, all the seniors really appreciated it.

We had a drama planned for Palm Sunday which got turned into a video. After the video was shot and edited it got the kai-bash because it didn't express what we were trying to get across. Only to get replaced with another video....more editing.

Both of my sons came down with pneumonia. The four year old, who I have been referring lately to as Crab Man, because his afro is starting to look like the character of the same name from the show, my name is Earl, had only a mild case and was out of commission for a couple of days. The older guy was out of the game for a good ten days, I mean out.

I was asked to read scripture at a local Evangelical Free church at their annual Good Friday service. It's actually six half-hour services that clergy from all over the area lead. It's like a 35 year tradition or something like that. I read at the 12:30 and my boss, Rich, spoke at the 1:00. Jacket and Tie, Platform, really traditional hymns, I felt like a fish out of water. It was good though, to see the body of Christ come together across denominational and traditional lines to celebrate the sacrifice of Good Friday.

That night we held a healing service at Crossroads. There has been a group of 15-20 of us gathering each week to pray, no agenda, just pray for whatever God seems to be leading us to pray for. About half of that group is between the ages of 15-21. Those folks, young people, whatever you want to call them, volunteered to pray for people at this healing service. God worked in huge ways in and through all of us who were there that night.

Family came in for Easter. I had lamb on the menu only to learn my sister and her boyfriend had become vegetarians. So I added a roasted veggie stack and angel hair pasta with pesto to the day's fare. A couple of friends from church stopped by and we spent to afternoon eating and talking.

I was inexplicably overcome with the urge to listen to Carol King. I had this song in my head from elementary school called Really Rosie, from the children's animated movie. I found it online as well as some classics, like, So far away and It's too late. I actually shocked Gail when the sounds of Carol started emanating from my laptop. It's good to know I can still shock my wife.

We went to Boston for two days to visit family and check out the Star Wars exhibit at the Museum of Science. I took some pictures of the life sized annakin and Han solo mannequins. I can't wait to Photoshop my boys faces onto anni and Han. If they turn out okay I'll post them here.

Somewhere along the line, I imploded. I was tired, way over-tired. I was doing stupid stuff like drinking energy drinks to stay up until 3:00am working, only to get up at 6:00 am with my sick kids. My implosions manifest themselves in anger. I'm short with the people closest to me. I live on the edge during these times feeling like I'm always one step away from blowing up. I am in the process of the cleaning up the mess I had let myself fall into and trying to reconnect with my family.

I'm not sure if this post has any other value than for me to see in black and white the ridiculous pace I kept for the last month and maybe try to do something about it....either that or go buy more energy drinks.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

2nd trip to the Gulf Coast

We sent a second team of people from Crossroads down to the Gulf Coast to help out with the relief effort.  I stayed behind this time and playeed Mr Mom so Gail could go on the trip. 

I asked my friend Michael to share some of his thoughts on his trip.  Here it is:

So we were down in New Orleans, in St. Bernard Parish, where some of the worst flooding occurred when the levee let loose Lake Pontchartrain, leaving hundreds of homes under 9 feet of water for over 2 weeks.
We were heading to a distibution center run by a group called Pastors Resource Compassion. They have a huge tent sitting in the middle of a Wal-Mart parking lot where they're handing out food, clothes and other basic necessities to anyone from the area in need. I say anyone in the area, not anyone living in the area, because the area, for all intent and purposes, is destroyed. The 1000 to 2000 people coming through each day are either living in small FEMA trailers on ttheir devastated property or coming in for the day from friends' or families' homes or apartments outside the area salvaging, cleaning, or just staring at what they once had - a home.
 On our way to the center we drive a mile o! r two down the main drag - business after business, store after store, gas stations, grocery markets, banks, car dealers and barber shops, chuches and ice cream shops, you name it, all closed. Not because of a lot of damage, but because there aren't any people to buy anything. The few people in the trailers - they don't have any money - and if they do - they don't  have anywhere to put anything.
 But it's the streets off the main drag, whole neighborhoods, block after block, as far as your eyes can see - devastation - destruction - like I've never seen, like World War II news clips of the Allied bombing of Germany, an all to real episode of the Twilight Zone, like the End Times. House after house after house - total ruins - if it's still standing it's an empty shell - 9 feet of water - 2 weeks - that's a foot of water on the second floor of a 2 story home. Most of them were ranches. Some of the homes have been gutted, ev! erything that was in, is out. Look down the streets and you see big piles of debris in front of empty shells. Big piles of debris in front of empty shells? Hell! It's peoples lives, thier stuff, their valuables, their trinkets, their memories, their hopes for the future their home held for their families, for themselves, for their community - picture frames - the photo washed of its' image, broken dishes from family meals, a basketball, a little pink Big Wheel like my daughters we gave away last year, t.v.'s, couches, tables, towels, clothes - God it's like somebody ripped all your insides out and threw em on the ground in front you - its literally sickening to think what these people must feel when they see this, I'm feeling sick all over again telling you about it. Can you imagine what these people must feel? Can you imagine? God only knows. Only God will heal them. Let's pray. Let us all pray.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

2 Cor 1:3-4

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
2 Cor 1:3-4 NIV

At some level, I have always known, on this walk with Jesus, the self; myself, is at best a tie for number 2 on the priority list...God, others and then me. As I read the verse above this morning I was reminded of this fact. It starts with praising God. We then read how God comforts us. That's nice and comfortable and meets the basic needs we think God should meet. The reason God comforts us is because he loves us....yes but it doesn't stop there. The reason He comforts us is so we can comfort others.
This has been God's pattern from the beginning. He blesses, comforts, equips, provides insights, grows and transforms His people, His children so that they might be a blessing, comfort, meeter of needs, relayer of truth, teacher and change agent in the lives of others.
Pick just about any story from the life of Jesus, He called Matthew and through Matthew "sinners and tax collectors got a chance to meet Him. He raised Lazursus rom the dead so that God might be glorified and because he loved Lazurus and Mary and Martha and so that "many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him."
So I sit here and take stock of what it is God has done in my life. Now I need to fill in the blanks....

God has done xxxx in my life, and met me in the midst of xxxxx, so that I might be and do xxxxx for others

How about you???

Friday, March 10, 2006

Middle School Weekend at Young Life's Lake Champion

Spending the Weekend with 300+ Middle Schoolers at Young Life's beautiful Lake Champion. Should be a great weekend we are bringing 30 students from Crossroads. Please pray for safety as we travel and while at camp and that God would draw each person there at least one step closer to him.
Oh yeah... prayer for energy and love and patience for me and the other leaders would be good too.


Monday, March 06, 2006

Can't leave well enough alone

Well, I think I found the right combination of layout; three column, and readability. Props to Thur Broeders at thur's templates for doing the hardwork and making it available.

A different take on fasting

Rick, over at a new life emerging, has some great thoughts on fasting. There is something that rings right and true about fasting being a departure from "me-centered" spirituality. I'm still turning it over in my brain but I wanted to pass it along because it is worth the read.

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Word Cloud

This cool little web-bot scans your blog and creates this thing. Thanks to Holly for the link. I like the way Jesus ended up smack in the middle of the thing

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Bumbling may be too generous a term

So I called this blog bumbling forward...Bumbling is generally how I move forward. Tripping falling, grabbing onto stuff to try to stay up, knocking other stuff over but when it is all said and done I usually end up ahead of where I started.

Case and point: Unbeknownst to me, somewhere along the way I did something to my blogger settings that made it necessary for me to approve each comment. Gail was talking to a friend who mentioned she had commented and I was all like "no she didn't." So I started poking around and found the source of the problem. She did indeed comment as well as 18 others.

To those of you gracious enough to comment please accept my humble apologies. If nothing else Bumbling forward is always an adventure.

Monday, February 20, 2006

When everything is said and done: Too close to home three days after I write the last post I taught during our Sunday morning gatherings. The message I prepared was about Jesus as the image of the invisible God. In order to get the best picture of God we need to enlarge our view of Jesus to include his birth, life, message, ministry, death and ressurection. The message was heavy with visuals, scripture on the screen, and a video of various artist's depictions of Jesus.

Our first service starts at 9:00 am at 8:58 am after an hour of rebooting and reconfiguring and tweaking and guessing and switching cables I was unable to get any sort of image from the computer that runs our service to the screen. As I thought back to my post and the article that motivated it, I said "okay God...if want me to do this without any of the stuff I had planned then so be it." One last ditch effort...and it worked. At 9:01 the announcement loop started running and the service started.

God's got one sick sense of humor...

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

When everything is said and done

I found this thought regarding creating church experiences on Church Marketing

Yet the questions remain: How much should I do? What should I avoid? What is cool? What works?

Here's a simple approach I've learned...

If the electricity went out, and your walls fell down, and your biggest givers died, what would you have left? Would you have a community of people still seeking after the heart of God? Would you still worship even without a band? Would you still be able to learn about God even though you can't show a video or a PowerPoint slide? In other words, what you have when everything else goes away is what your church is really all about.

What great questions! I'm not sure if I have great answers. These questions are great filters to evaluate what we do in the name of ministry.

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Monday, February 06, 2006

tag of 4s

Erin over at Biscotti Brain Posted this nifty little tag. Here are my responses:

Four Jobs I've Had:
1: Greens Keeper
2: Bank Teller
3: Sales guy (Consumer paper: toilet paper, paper towels cups plates, etc)
4: Youth Pastor

Four Movies I Watch Over and Over Again:
1: Godfather (only part 1 or 2)
2: Braveheart

Only those 2

Four Places I've Lived:
1: Connecticut
2: Pennsylvania
3: Arkansas
4: Ohio

Four TV Shows I Watch:
1: Lost
2: Scrubs
3: Rescue Me

That's about all I have time for

Four Places I've Vacationed:
1: St Maarten
2: Finger Lakes, NY
3: White Mountains, NH
4: Cape Cod, Mass

Four Websites I visit daily:
1: woot
2: Music for Robots

Four of My Favorite Foods:
1: Steak
2: Penne a la vodka
3: Apple Pie
4: Big D cheeseburger from Duchess

Four Places I'd like to be right now:
1: Fully Here
2: The White Mountains
3: Cape Cod
4: "Sitting on a beach earning 20%" (said in a german accent)

Slink, Greg, Tracie, Uncle Ward...if you guys haven't done this yet feel like playing?

Friday, February 03, 2006

On finding a pastoral response

There is a string of posts and responses swirling around Brian Mclaren's article in Leadership journal. The article, I believe, was meant to focus on a pastor's response, i.e. how does one respond in love and concern to a defining question, such as homosexuality. I do not believe Mclaren intended to answer the actual biblical interpretation of same sex relationships.

Mark Driscoll's response has also garnered alot of attention.

As has McLaren's reposnse to Driscoll's reposnse. Got all that?

I am fairly confident that God's plan from the begining has been for monogomous realtionships between one man and one woman.

That being said, I appreciate and resonate with Mclaren's choice of the word "agonize," in his original article. I agonize over the separation I may have just put between God and someone in a same sex relationship by the first sentence of this paragraph. I agonize over memories of conversations where I have communicated what I believe to be the truth of God's word regarding same-sex relationships and have failed to communicate the truth of God's grace for us all, straight or gay. I agonize over not knowing how to communicate disagreement with someone on something as defining as sexuality while still communicating respect, love and concern. I agonize over the occasions where I feel like I have done all I can to communicate respect, love and concern and what was perceived was none of the above.

Is it possible to disagree with someone on an issue as defining as their sexuality and still be perceived as caring and loving and interested and concerned? Must we choose between grace and truth?

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

What have I learned blogging: Tech stuff

As I think about blogging and why I participate in it, it occurs to me that I haven't learned so much in short period of time since college. And the stuff I have learned blogging I am actually remembering. There is this sum of knowledge that I have been able to gain from blogging that falls into two categories: Tech stuff and ministry in the way of Jesus. Then there is the personal and relational growth that has come with blogging. This post is devoted to the Tech stuff.

All the links below are courtesy of other bloggers, mostly those in the list to the left in my blogroll. I should have kept track of where I found these links or learned about these concepts.

In the tech arena, I have discovered software like FireFox, my browser of choice and Open Office, an open source productivity suite that is fully compatible with MS Office Writeboard, is an online collaborative writing tool complete with RSS feeds to keep track of updates. Speaking of RSS feeds, I can't imagine trying to keep up with any ongoing conversation without a feedreader or aggregator. Gail's laptop has FeedDemon on it, which I paid and I use a free Firefox extension called Wizz RSS.

I have learned some actual html code. I discovered podcasts and actually created a podcast for the weekly messages from Crossroads. I bumbled upon the concept of Web 2.0. As a result of a blog recco, I now have two flickr accounts: one for friends and family kinda stuff and one for ministry stuff.

The above are just the highlights I'm not sure I could ever recreate everything that I have gained from blogging.