Thursday, May 31, 2007

Visioneering

As I am praying about what my part is in the Vision God has for 5 stones I am reminded of Andy Stanley's excellent book on the subject. It is worth all of our time to think about some of these concepts. So I am including them here for you to percolate on. I have adjust these concepts to make it more understandable, and I have subtracted some redundant ideas and added a few as well from other sources. You will also see many of these concepts fleshed out in the book of Nehemiah.

  1. A vision begins as a concern: Jesus primary concern is the lost becoming found, and the found becoming mature followers.
  2. A vision has a timetable contingent upon providence and obedience: God's timing cannot be sped up or slowed down...but our obedience can.
  3. Pray for opportunities and plan with wisdom and a sense of expectation: God desires that His kingdom be fleshed out. He allows our personalities, passions, and purposes to be a part of that kingdom.
  4. God is using your circumstances to prepare and position you to fulfill His purposes for your life: Nothing is an accident, everything is redeemable.
  5. What God originates He orchestrates: He WILL build His church; He will open and close doors; Miracles are normative for Him. He cannot concieve of an obstacle or challenge.
  6. Walk before you talk; investigate before you initiate; listen before you leverage: The wise builder calculates, case-studies, and dialogues with others.
  7. Communicate the vision as the solution to a problem that is imperative: Gods vision is never trivial, it is always epic.
  8. Leaders must be the greatest risk takers: Your level of sacrifice, courage, and obedience sets the standard for everyone else.
  9. Account for the flesh and Satan to devise sabotages to the plan: We battle not with flesh and blood, but with powers and principalities...who often manifest through the flesh.
  10. Good ideas will always sap the energy, resources and momentum needed for the great things: Saying no is just as strategic as saying yes.
  11. Unity is only possible when everyone is focused on something besides themselves: "It's not about you...it IS about God and others."
  12. Consistency and character trump charismatic personality and "cool" fads.
  13. Kingdom visions are often most misunderstood and criticized by the "religious" people within and without your church.
  14. Allign all resources with a solid strategy and timeline: God owns everything so everything needed for the vision is available. However, God's means to that end is through human beings whom he seeks to deliver from selfishness, materialism, and slavery to self.
  15. The Vision comes from God and always leads back to God: Anything that doesn't do that isn't His vision.

food for thought.


          1. In your eyes: Peter Gabriel

          2. Giving you the best I've got: Anita Baker

          3. Loving the alien: David Bowie

          4. Dear God: Ultravox

          5. Give me something to believe in: Poison

          6. It can happen: Yes

          7. Sanctify yourself: Simple minds

          8. One thing: Finger eleven

          9. Higher love: Steve Winwood

          10. Folsom Prison blues / Ring of fire: Johnny Cash

          11. Vertigo: U2

          12. Invisible sun: The police

          13. Jesusland: Ben Folds

          14. Lord of the starfields: Bruce Cockburn

          15. One Vision: Queen

          16. Personal Jesus: Depeche Mode

          17. Pray to a new God: Wang Chung

          18. Wunderkind: Allanis Morisette

          19. Providence: Marc Cohn

          20. Shelter me: Joe Cocker

          21. Showdown at big sky / Testimony: Robbie Robertson

          22. Spirit in the sky: Doctor and the medics

          23. The last honest man: Stan Ridgway

          24. The sound of silence: Simon and Garfunkel

          25. Best Friend: Queen

          A few of these repeat from another list. Here is the funny part about our Bible. Paul uses a stoic poem about Zeus "In him we live and breath and have our..." to talk about Jesus. For me there are plenty of people who may or may not know my Jesus but still write things that are conduits for my connection to Him.

          Nightmare

          I have woken up 3 days in a row having had a nightmare. This may not be strange to you, but it is VERY strange to me. I haven't had a nightmare since I was 9 or 10 years old. I awaken rattled, anxious, and afraid.

          But upon further review...

          One of the things a mentor taught me was the importance of knowing EXACTLY where Satan is and what he is trying to do in your life. Usually I have a pretty good handle on this. But this is a new strategy.

          Thus.

          I take comfort knowing that he seems to be rattled by something.

          And so I smile and resolve myself that every morning after awakening I will pray for Ashland, the University, and ya-all. This will be my response. If he wants to mount pressure on me while I'm sleeping, I will leverage pressure while he is awake. Now then, reverse Psychology may or may not be a good path for spiritual warfare...but I'm betting he will back off. And I'll just keep praying anyways. So that his days can be filled with fear, anxiety, and dread. After all, his time is short. He may not have expected this, but this only forces me deeper into the trenches, he should know me enough by now to know this would not make me back off. But...he's stupid. And this will be his stupid-tax.

          So:

          "Jesus please be with the people of Ashland today. Greet all of them with your grace and whispers of love. Be with all the students who are gone, protect them, and be with the incoming freshman in a special way. Envelope the president of the school, the faculty, and the staff with your peace, passion, and vision. And touch the Seminary with holy fire for you and your word! And for every member of 5 stones give them a mission today for them to do for your glory. Something fun and real...some act of servanthood and love...so that they can feel your leading and strengthening in them. Make today a little piece of heaven for all."

          take that!

          Wednesday, May 30, 2007

          The gates are burned by fire,
          long ago,
          and seasons have passed,
          the coming and melting of snow,
          yet still there are embers,
          and desire.

          Memories fading,
          wounds healing,
          the fullness of time ripening,
          the spirit moving.

          The fortress of love can never fall,
          Salem awakens,
          the city on a hill cannot be hid,
          she will not be forsaken,
          the rebuilt temple,
          an eternal call.

          A Biblical echo is my light,
          and resonates,
          in the canyon of my heart,
          we who have suffered,
          may never recover,
          yet still fight.

          Nehemiah,
          alone at night,
          walks broken walls,
          calculating, praying, planning,
          angels whisper,
          and take notes,
          far away.

          And the lion of Judah roars,
          so far away,
          so faintly,
          that at 1st it feels like imagination.

          focus

          can you hear it?

          the 1st to hear it,
          are the 1st to move,
          slowly,
          deliberately,
          resolutely,
          flint-faced,

          stronger from the truth inside,
          than the lies outside.

          And as they move out of the shadows,
          thier swords glisten in the dawn,
          and the darkness quakes,
          fleeing from thier presumptions.

          And then everyone,
          picks up thier nails,
          thier hammers,
          and the blueprint,
          comes to life,
          piece by piece,
          brick by brick,
          word by word,
          deed by deed,
          thought by thought,
          soul by soul.

          Swords in hand,
          brothers and sisters in arms,
          claiming birthright,
          claiming destiny.

          And the secret church,
          is reborn!
          And the temple fire is kindled,
          and the light flows over the valleys,
          and the seekers, sick, and saints,
          come home!

          after captivity has ended

          when spring comes again.

          And those that sowed in tears,
          will reap in joy!

          hope

          This is a piece of art my friend Pat McCauley gave me years ago. It is "the shadowlands of hope." It's always fun for me to look at it.

          If you notice you will realize that you can't see the sun directly in the picture. It is obscured beyond the frame of reference of the artist and the audience. There is a dark cleft with water pouring down on both sides and a lot of black and grey both nearby as well as on the far off horizon.

          But that doesn't mean the light isn't there.

          We can see the light glimmering off the waterfalls. And a haze all around the obstacles of our vision. The light is just about to burst forth, we can feel it, yet we must wait for it patiently.

          My youngest daughter "Mikey" and I had an interesting conversation like this the other day.

          She said: Daddy I can't see my face

          I said: But you know it's there silly...don't you?

          She said: Yes...but I can't see it

          I said [in fake shock] AAAARGH I can't see my face either, or my eyes, or my ears.

          She giggled.
          She said: So how do you know they are there?

          I said: Because I can see and hear through them even if I can't see them. Come over here honey.

          She comes over and crawls up my lap

          I said: Can you hear the music?

          She said: Yes

          But can you see it?

          She said: No

          I said: Close your eyes [and I start to brush her hair and tickle her face]
          I said: You can't see me can you?

          She said: No

          I said: But you can feel me, and know I love you can't you?

          She said smiling: yes

          I said: It's just like that with God. Sometimes you can't see him, but you can still feel his love. And sometimes you crawl up into his lap and even though you can't feel him...he's still there.

          She said: You're silly daddy...I know that

          And she wandered off

          I wish sometimes...I knew that

          on revival


          Dwight Moody was asked by a small town to come and preach a revival. He was not feeling led in that direction but kept being pestered by the city leaders and so eventually he relented and came to visit them to dialogue about it.

          Once there he was disturbed by the leaders belief that "he" could bring revival to the city. They were meeting in the towns school house so Mr Moody gave all the city leaders a piece of chalk and made them spread out across the room. He then said.

          "Take the piece of chalk in your hand good people, and draw a circle around where you are standing."

          When they had all completed this he then said.


          "God's desire to revive his people is always
          unquestioned. But for you to expect me to bring revival is an abdicaton of your own personal responsability. Do you see that circle around your feet? Look hard at it...that is where revival must begin! In you right now! If you desire to see your town catch fire...catch fire yourself; if you want to see healing rains fall...pray for the rains for yourself; and if you desire to see others become true followers...become one yourself!"


          he paused to let it sink in...then said:


          "When the circle that surrounds you contains revival, and you begin to move through your city expanding that circle, you will find that you needed only Christ and not me...that you needed only to find yourself...not an outsider. So then gentlemen...what will it be?"


          indeed

          what will it be?

          Every morning I think about this...I think about my own circle and ask if revival is happening in it. This post isn't about me likening myself to Moody, it is about all of us asking God to birth revival in us first, and then in those around us whom we touch. This is the 1st question I ask myself every day, this and a habit of Jonathan Edwards that I will tell you about later.

          What's going on in your circle today?

          Tuesday, May 29, 2007

          memorial day [the 40]


          Memorial day always has a different effect on me than others might expect. My Grandfather was highly decorated in WWI and my father fought in Korea. But while I have deep respect for thier sacrifices for america there is something different that always effects me on Memorial day.


          the sacrifice of the martyres. [Matthew is pictured]


          For just as my freedom was secured for me by soldiers, my faith was secured for me by my savior and the lives and deaths of the saints who passed it on to me through history. Saints who kept the biological faith alive by dying for its sake. I live with a keen awareness that thier lives and sacrifices demand a response from me. A response worthy of thier jumping on a grenade for Jesus and me.
          • Jim Elliott
          • Perpetua
          and thousands of others [research "voice of the martyres" and "Foxes book of Martyres"]


          As I have seen 300 this year and Gladiator is one of my favorite movies. In that spirit here is one of my favorite stories. The story I told my son on memorial day after reading to him Hebrews 11.


          the 40


          In the winter of 320 AD, Constantine was Emperor of the West and Licinius was Emperor of the East. Licinius, under pressure from Constantine, had agreed to legalize Christianity in his territory, and the two made an alliance (cemented by the marriage of Licinius to Constantia the sister of Constantine), but now Licinius broke the alliance and made a new attempt to suppress Christianity. He ordered all Roman soldiers to offer a sacrifice to the Roman gods to repudiate it on the pain of death. His edict reached the "Thundering Legion," stationed at Sebaste, Armenia (now Sivas, Turkey), and the order was passed down to the legionaries.


          The Roman Governor stood resolutely before the Forty Roman soldiers of the Thundering Legion. “I command you to make an offering to the Roman gods. If you will not, you will be stripped of your military status.” The forty soldiers all believed firmly in the Jesus. They knew they must not deny Him or sacrifice to the Roman idols, no matter what the governor would do to them. Camdidus spoke for the legion, “Nothing is dearer or of greater honor to us than Christ our God. They refused to obey the edict, choosing instead to obey a higher authority: “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol… You shall not bow down to them or worship them.”


          The governor then tried other tactics to get them to deny their faith. First he offered them promises of money or imperial honors. Then he threatened them with torments and torture with the rack and with fire.


          Camdidus Replied, “You offer us money that remains behind and glory that fades away. You seek to make us friends of the Emperor, but alienate us from the true King. We desire one gift, the crown of righteousness. We are anxious for one glory, the glory of the heavenly kingdom. We love honors, those of heaven.


          “You threaten fearful torments and call our godliness a crime, but you will not find us faint hearted or attached to this life or easily stricken with terror. For the love of God, we are prepared to endure any kind of torture.”


          The governor was enraged. They were ordered to remove their armor and clothing, herded onto the middle of a frozen lake, standing there naked to die a slow, painful death. He set soldiers to guard them to prevent any from escaping. They were told, "You may come ashore when you are ready to deny your faith."


          The forty encouraged each other as though they were going to battle. “How many of our companions in arms fell on the battle front, showing themselves loyal to an earthly king? Let us not turn aside, O warriors, let us not turn our backs in flight from the devil”.


          To tempt and increase the torment of the Christians, fires were built on shore, with warm baths, blankets, clothing, and hot food and drink close by. The mother of the youngest soldier was present and encouraged her son from the bank.


          The men began to pray, “O Lord, 40 wrestlers have come forth to fight for Thee. Grant that 40 wrestlers may gain the victory!” As daylight faded, 40 warriors continued to resist, courageously bearing their pain in spite of the bitter cold—some walking quickly to and fro, some already sleeping that sleep which ends in death, and some standing lost in prayer, rejoicing in the hope of soon being with the Lord. Finally, one legionary could endure the suffering no longer, succumbed to the temptation and left the ice for the warm house that was guarded by a centurion named Sempronius and his men. On the ice, the remaining thirty-nine men stood firm. Still the petition went up from those able to speak, “O Lord, 40 wrestlers have come forth to fight for Thee. Grant that 40 wrestlers may gain the victory!”


          Their prayer was answered. To the surprise of everyone, Sempronius the centurion was touched by his comrades’ bravery, and the Holy Spirit moved upon his heart. He threw off his armor, weapons, and clothing, and ran to join the 39 remaining Christians on the ice, confessing Jesus as Christ, crying out loudly, “I am a Christian.” They welcomed him into their company, and so the number of the martyrs remained at forty. By morning, 40 glorious spirits, Sempronius among them, had entered into the presence of Christ.


          that is our call, in particular the call of men



          These are the cats.

          As we all know "cats are evil." If you have not seen the documentary "Cats and Dogs" I highly suggest you watch it. The fact that most of the general public is unaware of thier agenda and conspiratorial mission is completely baffling to me and proof that most people are blind sheep. But me...I see them whispering...I hear thier voices of contempt...it's not paranoia if it's true.

          So why would I invite these creatures of the night, bent as they are on world domination, into our house?

          I have no idea.

          My son owns the ultimate-fighter pictured to the right. His name is Boon. Boon is an african name for coffee. But its latin roots are expresso driven feline maniachal demonoid...or something like that.

          The cat on the left is mr weasly. It used to be ginny weasly from H Potter. But he/she had a surprise for us that we discovered and so we changed the name. This is the cat the girls rescued from the alley behind our house.

          We are thier pets.

          However I am still urging the troops in my village to topple thier evil regime. But because the cats when they are angry scent our clothing and leave 'milky-way' bars in the tub...they are still afraid of them.

          So for now I play the cabin-boy. I clean kitty litter, wipe up hair-balls, and other unspeakably disgusting things for them in thier decadent Neroesque existance in my house. I buy them food, toys, and pay thier vet bills. But someday...

          someday...

          my tennis raquet will need restringing

          Other family members

          Introducing:

          Merton Beckett Sherwood

          When Amy was 16 she wanted a sheepdog. So I got her one. This is the third one we've had in some 20 plus years together. He enjoys you petting him; telling lies about his abuse and neglect, and wrestling.

          • He cannot fetch, catch a frisbee, or swim.
          • He also assumes he is a lap dog
          • He refuses to chase the cats we are roomates with
          • Be he does cuddle [in a small polar bear sort of way]

          When you meet him you must pet him ceaselessly your entire visit. If you wrestle with him he will nibble on you, it isn't biting, he is "herding" you.

          He is also AMY'S dog. He follows her everywhere with slavish devotion. When I leave the bed to go to the bathroom or otherwise I return to him being cuddled with her in the bed and a look on his face that is a cross between "Dream about it buddy, " and "you snooze you loose."

          He also has a neighborhood fan-club of people that know him [not us] by name. One is a little old lady named Mrs Margret. She comes by once or twice a day like clockwork with his fresh cooked bacon!

          He is named after Thomas Merton and Thomas Beckett [two of my heroes]

          We must resolve ourselves...

          Thomas Merton when asked about spiritual maturity commented:

          "We must resolve ourselves that not only are we
          just beginners, but that, that is all we will ever be."

          Saturday, May 26, 2007

          Pray for us


          We need some prayer. We are headed into the homestretch of getting out to you. But we need a few things to come together to get there. These are the things we would ask you to talk to God about.



          1. Selling the house. In about 2 weeks on the market we have had a lot of calls and looks, so we are in good shape, but we are asking Jesus to sell the house as quickly as possible.

          2. Finances. We have had to throw some money at the house to get it ready to sell. Total is about 2,500.00 I will not have an income for the next month, and Amy will be working for only about another 2-3 weeks we think.

          3. Moving. What to keep and sell or give away. And the transition team's strategies for getting us up there.

          4. Time. My excel spreadsheet of things to get done in the next month shows about 213 man hours of work. I need to work effectively and efficiently on a lot of things to be out of here by July 1.

          5. Emotions. Saying goodbye to friends and family is fun but a little exhausting at times. Anxiety has had a real foothold in all of us.

          Funny story. There is an older lady who is / has been praying for me for years. About a year ago I had the chance to go to her house and help pack it up for a move to Florida. So me and some guys from the church went over and started packing and filling up a u-haul. Everything was fine till I found myself, suddenly alone outside with no more boxes being brought to the truck. I wandered my way inside and found that everybody had joined this lady in her 6foot by 5foot bathroom...and they were laughing loudly...at me. You see she was explaining to them about how she prays for me. This is the scene:


          Small bathroom. Toilet on one side and a small bakers-rack bookcase about 3 feet in front of toilet. The only object on the third shelf is a picture of me.


          yes you guessed it.


          She prays for me specifically while she sits on the toilet and can look me eye to eye while on the porceline throne. This seems oddly violating to me on a lot of levels. She told everybody this. And they were laughing....loudly...at me. This disturbing image haunts me, disturbs me, and makes me laugh. Honestly, I try very hard to not focus on the visual details of it. "I can just see her grabbing the toilet paper as she says AMEN."


          but it matters, and i can feel it.


          So now I pray for her to be constipated so I will get prayed for more. Seems fair to me. Poetic justice.


          you. Please just pray for us when you feel led, or set apart a specific time to do so with the 5 things I listed above.


          but please...pretty please. Don't have a photo of me in the bathroom. Or if you do NEVER tell me. and certainly don't tell all my friends while they are at your house and i'm in the other room.


          unless you have a GREAT sense of spiritual humor.

          Thursday, May 24, 2007

          new blog feature: quotopia

          quotes matter to me. Somehow they tattoo my insides just like scripture does. Thus, they become values and ways of seeing life and assistants in times of decision. This is why it is SO important what you allow your mind and heart to be exposed to. Some things [good and bad] that I have seen or heard are attached to me permanently. As I have grown older I have learned to have more discernment and discretion about what I allow into my temple, and which things I allow to visit and which things I invite to stay. Be sure when you let someone into your house, that you are prepared for the consequences!

          The Bible itself says "Whatever things [speaking of non-biblical information] that are good, noble, and have a good reputation...let you mind dwell upon."

          AW
          Tozer:
          "It is questionable
          if God has ever
          used a man greatly whom he has
          not 1st wounded
          deeply"

          3 books you will eventually hear about


          I have had some people e-mail me about 'my' vision for the church. So I thought it might be good to stop for a moment and address that question.


          1. I don't have a vision. But GOD does! The issue then is simply hearing from God about that vision and alligning everything with it. You see this in the Bible all the time. God has a vision for Abraham to move; a vision for Israel through Moses; a vision for the church that Paul works out and Peter sometimes struggles with. So? So I have no agenda, formula, blueprint. [and I hope you don't either] but God does.


          ok. That's pretty vague. How do we get there?


          glad you asked.


          I use a variety of tools to get there, but i will highlight three of them. They are based upon the idea that God has ALREADY said some things about the vision, and that He will also give us SPECIAL revelation. What he has already said is in the Bible. What will be SPECIAL is what he will say, or is already saying to us.


          So #1 is the Bible and prayer. This is the anchor of Christian churches. This is the great wisdom storehouse He has given us as a gift of things He has already said and wishes to remind us about.


          #2 is a book called "The purpose-driven church" by Rick Warren. It is NOT a book of theories or strategies, it is simply a theology of the church. You may have read his "purpose driven life" book [it was a NY times best seller for over 2 years] and it was packed-out with scripture. The same thing with this book. It is simply looking at scripture and figuring out what God has already said about being a church. It ain't perfect, but it does give some good handles. Rick is a wise and godly guy who has produced some excellent fruit, and the book of proverbs says to listen to men such as this.


          #3 is a book called "aqua church" by Leonard Sweet. It is NOT a book of answers, it is a book of questions. Every chapter ends with about 3 pages of questions every church should be asking itself. Again, it isn't perfect, but it is a great place to start and submit key questions to God and each other through prayer and dialogue. It might be fun for a small group to do this in the future.


          There are other books of church transitions, turn-around churches, 5 star churches, organic churches etc. [I probably have 50 of them]. But if you want to get ahead on some of the dialogue I will place before us, you might want to look these over. And if you are a leader [or soon to be one] these will be MANDATORY reading. Nobody has to agree with them, but they will need to be conversant in them.


          Vision is the destination

          Mission is the strategies to get there


          with all of that in mind you might want to memorize this quote. You will hear it a million times:


          "The church may very well be the only
          global organization
          that exists primarily for the benefit of her
          NON-MEMBERS"


          It's not about me...or you...it IS about what Jesus started and His MISSION [loving and teaching people] and His VISION [so that they might embrace the love of God and become fully devoted followers of Christ]


          Thus. We will act urgently, passionately, and resolutely about what God has already said ASAP. And will will listen actively, reflectively, and permanently for special things God wants us to do uniquely as individuals and as a church family in the near future.

          Virtual earth


          I don't know if any of you have messed around or downloaded the google and MS program called 'virtual earth' but it is the coolest pastoral gizmo. You can zoom in from outer space unto any city and neighborhood in the world. You can then view it up close from any arial view, road, or hybrid and can look at stuff in 3d. Cities like Seattle and NYC are just awesome to tool-around.


          so how is this pastoral?


          Well, late at night I take the address listings that Jamie sent me and troll around the neighborhoods of ashland. Union street [I love that ladies flower boxes], Arthur [you've got a roof leak], West Walnut [man that guy needs to cut his lawn]. It's sort of spiritual-stalking...or...prayer ring-and-run...or...angelic I suppose. Even now I may be hovering over your house... creepy huh? [and yes I can see your check-book, how's that tithing coming along...and by the way it's time to have the termit guy back out]


          I can't wait for it to be more of a close up, so I can really watch...and sound would be great too. But I suppose if your house was under surveilance and wire-taped we would be a cult...and nobody wants that.


          So look up at the satellites tonight and you may discover that I am looking down. But even if I'm not watching...HE...is! And he looks down with joy, and peace, and grace. He looks like Jesus always looked at people. And he hears and knows everything.


          take comfort in that as you go to sleep tonight. He is watching over you.

          Practicing on the 2nd choice

          I don't know how many of you know all of the search-story of me and 5 stones and God. So I thought I would tell you a component that I find thought-provoking. By the end of April I was still in dialogue with a church planting group; a church of a 1,000; a multi-site church of 4000; and a church of 10,000; and 5 stones. 5 stones had by far the majority of confirmations but I had already scheduled a week-long interview and preaching engagement with the 10,000 member church in Detriot [called Kensington] They were looking at me being one of thier 6 man preaching team. The problem was that all I had on my heart was 5 stones. I had already prayed and worked on my sermon for 5 stones and really didn't sense anything else from God so I TEST-FLIGHTED the sermon I did at 5-stones at Kensington the week before I got to be with you. [You can order the dvd or cd from Kensington if you want]. For some reason I just find that funny. Usually you test-flight at the smaller church I suppose. At the end of the week they asked what I sensed God was telling me, and although you hadn't voted yet I told them that 5 stones was where I needed to be and that for some reason I thought it was important that they know they were my 1st choice. I think they found that wonderful, I know it cost them a lot to have me out for the week, but the executive pastor said "if it cost 5,000 dollars for you to find where God needed you to be it would be money well spent." Ya gotta love that.

          And just to make sure you aren't thinking I'm noble or courageous or anything silly like that, the decision was just obvious. 5 stones was all I was thinking and praying about; i sensed it was God's will and have read Jonah enough to know you don't step out of God's will and not pay-the-price; and you were already lodged in my pastor's heart.

          Wednesday, May 23, 2007

          stoned

          As I work on the house I am captivated by the memories it has. We moved in 8 years ago and it feels like yesterday. All kinds of friends came by to work on it. But as I was painting the duplex part tonight I remembered a funny story. I was chaplain for a band back then called Travail. The guys came over after a practice and were helping me when we were painting the inside with KILZ [parental warning]. The inside of the house hadn't been painted in about 25 years and everything smelled of cigs and cigars. To kill the smell we bought the paint called KILZ because it also seals in the smells. But there is something I didn't know about KILZ....more in a bit. Anyway we were painting for about and hour an 1/2 when somebody said something stupid [with Travail it didn't usually take that long, but tonight it did] anyway, one of us started laughing and then all of us were laughing...and then all of us were on the ground laughing so hard we were crying...and then 45 minutes of this rolled by and we started to suspect something was wrong so we crawled over to the 5 gallon bucket to read the label on the KILZ. It seems that this paint gives off fumes. Silly, roll around laughing to you cry fumes. So we opened the windows, went outside for a while, and giggled through another couple hours of painting. The next day I had a headache that would put malt liguer or mad-dog 20/20 to shame. I can honestly say that that was the only time that genuine fellowship included accidental narcotics in my house.

          ahhh. Good-times.

          So when we get to Ashland, if you come over to paint, remind me to open the windows. I don't want you to get a hangover from hanging-out.

          the garage



          While we are making progress on all fronts the garage is another thing. The cars have never seen the garage. They cry when it rains and hails but I have never shown them mercy. But the motorcycle, power tools, and go-cart are nestled into bed and tucked-in every night. This is my sanctuary, the kids don't even get to come in. This is where I putter about like an old man and fix things, hit my hand with the hammer, and hide from the honey-do queen. All that to say I cannot imagine packing it up. Everything else seems reasonable. But tonight I just stared at the complete chaos like a deer caught in the headlights. I think I'll go paint or something that seems reasonable and measured. After I tuck in the motorcycle and tell it a good night story. Or maybe I'll just take the TV out there and let it watch "easy rider," or go rent him "wild hogs."

          The picture

          Over on the right is a sidebar with a piece of art I got from a friend [Melissa Baldwin] for my Birthday in January. When she gave it to us she said "I don't know what these 5 stones mean...so...whatever." Curiously I had just done something with 5 stones. Phone interview or questionaire I can't remember which for sure. What I do remember is the oddity of irony in the context of providence...destiny...fate. So we have had it up on the wall as a question and now a confirmation. Thought you might get a kick out of that. I enjoy the fact that God is both obvious and subtle at times. And am amuzed that when we want the one he often chooses the other.

          Tuesday, May 22, 2007

          Casa

          If you want to see our house go here

          http://www.2261hurleyavenue.com/

          you can go back later and we will have more pictures as well. It was a rent house for 25 years before we bought it. BROWN...outside, walls, matted carpet, ceiling, yard...it was bad

          but it was fun restoring it

          that's what we do!

          Concerning burnout. I've had a few people share candidly with me that they are a little ragged these days. So I have a few words to say to help move people forward. However, they are not as comforting as I might like. Not because of a lack of empathy, but because of experential and Biblical reflection. It is relatively easy and tempting to put a salve on an open wound, but for the true surgeon that is concerned about thier patients survival and healing he must often cut out the infection before the salve is applied. So if you have a bullet lodged in your heart we will go right past the hand holding, whisky drinking, and cut the thing out. So if you have been in leadership and feel a bit fried...take a deep breath...

          My thoughts: [which take much of thier cues from 1 and 2 Peter, which was also a man who had to pastor some people via letter in the midst of thier struggles and challenges]

          Burnout is real. It has two major roads that lead to dead-ends and one off-ramp back onto the freeway.

          Dead end 1:

          Basing emotional expectations on others performance. When we do things and look for our primary encouragement and comradery from others we allow them to emotionally hold our emotions hostage and subject to their actions. The more we are disappointed with others the more we tend to disengage from them, isolate ourselves, and seek to be protected from deeper damage by exiting anything that holds a trigger for former pain. We are indeed victims, and always will be; what we do with that reality is the difference between burnout and survival. In the Bible Elijah, Jeremiah, and Habakkuk are the best examples of this. In all 3 situations God’s cure is to lower expectations concerning others and focus on serving and following Him alone with a whole heart. Read thier stories! Read slowly, and feel thier pain, and listen to God as he addresses you through them.

          Dead end 2:

          Basing emotional expectations on self. For both the perfectionist and the procrastinator drawing on personal skills to manifest God’s kingdom eventually shows the resources of our flesh to be both bankrupt and blemished. In the Bible this is either the victim language of Moses or the mistaken Pride of David. God must again and again crush our self sufficiency and self-loathing and expose them for the pride and narcisistic actions they are. Thus broken we can repent and agree “that apart from YOU we can do nothing…and that with YOU all things are possible.” In the midst of great pain the last thing we want to discover is we have done something else wrong, but the fact of the matter is often we have; and hiding from that reality only prolongs the healing we need.

          The freeway:

          We base our emotional standing on the finished work of Christ and His calling on our lives. Our emotions are to be solely yoked to Jesus and the active work of the Paraclete within us. Thus Paul says, “In all things I can rejoice…chains, beatings, whatever!” This doesn’t imply we won’t have heaviness of heart, but that our heart will be heavy as it beats with Jesus…not in our religious isolationism. We will be broken by what he is broken by, and healed by His nearness….but when we wander off we are neither on His emotional page, nore available for his emotional restoration. We need to look not at others or self but keep our eyes firmly on Christ the author and finisher of our faith. In such a situation numbers, nickels, etc no longer matter, they fade away to one crucial question: are we obeying? Success is obedience! Even good, better, best or failure dim in this view…God is not depending on us; He will build His church. He is forming us and flowing through us, but he isn’t dependant on us! Freedom is resting in this fact, and doing the best we can to simply trust and obey. Yes there is a time to re-evaluate, take Sabbath rest, and re-calibrate our boundaries and self maintenance, however, after all is said and done it is not the therapist or therapy that will reenergize our healing it is reengaging our personal missions that most often allows God to reconstruct our hearts. Notice: All Biblical people who faced burnout were given some space to breath by God, a confrontation about sin, and a firm but forceful call back into mission. None of this is deeply comforting to me because I really wish Oprah and Dr. Phil could fix me or offer me pharmaceuticals. But God has a better plan, one that makes sure we don’t fall-off-the-grid as so often happens to us when life is hard.

          The Myth of the Balanced Life

          Much of the advice I have heard about avoiding the emotional and physical exhaustion associated with burnout involves striving for "balance"-- the elusive ingredient we need to keep life in perspective. Without balance, it is said, we're likely to become overly involved in ministry and burn out. And the key to being balanced? Learning to say no to requests for time, as there are more worthy causes and needy individuals than we can possibly respond to.

          I believe that seeking a "balanced" life is not only unbiblical, but potentially dangerous. When we leaders focus on being balanced, learning how to say no and protecting themselves from the demands of ministry, we can easily lose sight of the gospel. Little in scripture implies that spending too much time serving others is harmful. Jesus doesn't teach "Don't put all your eggs in one basket." Rather, Jesus calls for a costly commitment: "Seek first God's kingdom, … and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33); "No one can serve two masters" (Matthew 6:24); "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matthew 10:39).

          Jesus' message is clear: we gain life by pouring out our lives for his sake and the gospel's. That's not to say that too many activities can't cause burnout. They can. But simply saying no and cutting back on our commitments to others is not a sure-fire antidote, either. In fact, if we begin to view ministry as something we need to be protected from, something that saps life from us, we may actually cut ourselves off from life-giving experiences God wants for us and plunge further into feelings of burnout.

          So how can we avoid or recover from burnout? I believe several key principles are illustrated in the lives of two ministers of God--Elijah and Jesus. Elijah experienced burnout, and God responded to him in his time of need. Jesus avoided burnout by making wise choices in situations much like those we face as leaders on campus, saying both yes and no to seemingly endless opportunities for ministry

          Elijah: Feeling Like God's Lone Workhorse

          The prophet Elijah certainly ranks as one of the all-time big hitters in the hall of fame of faith. Yet 1 Kings 19 records how even he struggled with burnout.

          A chapter earlier, Elijah had won the showdown of the century against 450 prophets of the local god Baal. He and they had assembled at Mount Carmel, and both had called on their god to bring forth fire from heaven; but only Elijah's God, Yahweh, delivered. When the people saw Yahweh's power, they helped Elijah slaughter the prophets of Baal. Talk about a mountaintop experience!
          Back at the royal palace, however, Queen Jezebel was not happy with the outcome of the match. She threatened to kill Elijah upon his arrival home, and so he ran away into the desert.
          Though he has just seen the power of God at work, Elijah is now exhausted and depressed. He wants to die. After forty days God asks him what's wrong. Elijah complains, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left; and now they are trying to kill me too" [1 Kings 19:10]

          Elijah was suffering from burnout. He felt like God's lone workhorse, and he wanted a break.

          Embracing Our Dependence on God

          God's response to Elijah's complaint is interesting: "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by" (v.11). God doesn't seem to address Elijah's complaint at all. Rather, he invites Elijah to experience his presence.

          Like Elijah, we Christian leaders on campus desperately need a sense of God's presence in our lives. If we try to minister to others without letting God minister to us, we will, indeed, barrel toward burnout. More than any earthly father, God cares about our needs. In 1 Kings 19:5-8, in fact, before God and Elijah ever conversed, God sent an angel to Elijah twice--not to communicate some startling revelation, but simply to fortify him with the food and water he so badly needed.

          As leaders we sometimes forget our own limits and lose perspective on where our responsibilities end and God's begin. Have you ever believed that you are the only one in the church who is trying to be faithful in some area? The only one committed to evangelism or the only one with a heart for missions or the only one while will get the flyers printed up and posted? Sometimes those feelings will be accurate--humanly speaking. But the bigger reality is that God is more committed to evangelism, missions and even our publicity campaigns than we are. Elijah succumbed to burnout in part because he was feeling alone. God, in his compassionate response, made it clear that God, not Elijah, was running things; and from where God sat, everything was still under control.

          We need to be leaders who operate with a clear understanding of our dependence on God in all that we do, and even in all that we don't have time for. One way we can do this is to take a Sabbath rest to spend time with God and let him renew us. In contrast to saying no to ministry opportunities to protect yourself from burnout--a decision made out of fear--taking a Sabbath rest involves faith that God is the one giving you life and energy for ministry, and faith that God can provide for the people you may need to leave behind for a day.

          Recovering a Sense of Purpose and Partnership

          After Elijah stands in the presence of the Lord, God again asks him what is wrong. And Elijah makes the exact same complaint as before! Once more, God's response is not what we might expect.

          He doesn't offer a shoulder to cry on. Rather, God's response to Elijah in vv15-18 is, essentially, threefold: I've got something for you to do; I've got a partner for you, Elisha; and you are not, in fact, as alone as you believe, for 7000 people in Israel have not bowed down to Baal. God is reminding Elijah of his purpose and of his need to be in partnership with God's people.
          Purpose. God helps Elijah recover his sense of purpose by giving him direction. "Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel" (vv. 15-16). To avoid burnout, we Christian leaders need to experience a deep sense of the purpose of our labor too. Even exciting tasks can cause burnout if the underlying purpose is forgotten--and conversely, even the most mundane responsibilities can be energizing when the purpose behind them is keenly felt. Ask yourself: Do I sometimes resent God for calling me into the drudgery of leadership team? Do I tend to forget that the purpose of this time-consuming skit is to make 5 stones more enjoyable and inviting? Do I care more about being noticed for all the hard work I am putting into publicity than I do about helping make the gospel more accessible?

          Many leadership teams spend time before the beginning of the year deciding what the group's purpose for the year is going to be. If I agree with that purpose statement at the beginning of the year then we should remind ourselves of it throughout the year. With a clear sense of purpose--and a clear sense of how we as leaders are called to help accomplish that purpose--we can be energized to continue working toward our group's goals, long after our initial excitement has worn off.

          Partnership. Elijah became depressed because he thought he was the only man of God left in Israel. God responded by giving him a partner, Elisha, and by reminding him of 7,000 others, "all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him." (v.18)

          Burnout is most often caused by too little dependence on God and his people--not by too much devotion to the needs of others. Ask yourself these questions about your fellowship's leadership team: Do I feel that the leadership team wants what's best for me? Do I have partners on the team who know my limitations and lifestyle? Would they challenge me if I am working too hard, or falling short on my commitments because I had taken on too much?

          If you are in a team but you approach ministry like a single workhorse, then you are probably not relying on the partners God has already given you. What steps could you take to partner better with others on your team?

          If you aren't in a team, ask God for one or more ministry partners to help; you continue to enjoy the ministry he has given to you. Often overworked leaders delegate their tasks in order to spread around responsibility and increase ownership, but if you only delegate tasks and never seek partners to help you with them, you may still feel isolated and burned out.
          When you do delegate tasks, do so in the context of community. Use teams and lead with them wherever possible. Teams can be formed around many different jobs, including as small group leadership, outreach, drama, youth, children, and worship.

          Jesus Saying "Yes" and "No"

          Even if we carry a keen sense of purpose, depend on God and partner with others, we fellowship leaders cannot possibly say yes to every ministry opportunity that comes our way. And yet vigilant protection of ourselves and our schedules from the needs and requests of others is not a biblical solution. Rather, I believe that we need to use the kind of discernment Jesus showed in saying both yes and no to requests for his time.

          In the first chapter of Mark, we read about a busy day early in Jesus' ministry. After calling his first four disciples, he teaches in the synagogue, heals a demon-possessed man, and then goes to Simon's house where he heals Simon's mother-in-law. After dinner, he says yes to many requests for healing, late into the evening.

          The next day Jesus goes off to pray. When Simon and his companions find him, they exclaim, "Everyone is looking for you!" Now I can imagine Simon having already been busy that morning setting up lines of sick people. Perhaps he had visions of starting up, "Jesus & Simon's Country Clinic" after witnessing so many healings. But when Simon finds Jesus and tells him about the waiting crowd, Jesus replies, No, "Let us go somewhere else--to the nearby villages--so I can preach there also. That is why I have come" (v38). Jesus' answer was, in a word, no.

          The first observation to make from this passage concerns the clear sense of purpose which dominates Jesus' ministry. His authority is evident in every interaction whether with a tax collector in a tree or with Pilate in his governor's palace. Everywhere and all the time his purpose is the same. Jesus' life is lived and poured out for others, extravagantly, like the perfume in Mark 14. From the day he walks into Galilee calling his disciples to the night he tells his them they will all fall away, he lives out his clear sense of purpose in everything he does.
          I like this story because Jesus so clearly models for us how he responded both yes and not to requests for his time. He says yes to the people who gathered about the door late into the night. But the next morning he says no to those who wanted to keep Jesus in one village as the country miracle worker. Jesus could say a willing yes without reserve a straightforward no without guilt because he had a strong sense of purpose borne out of a time spent in prayer with his Father. He knew what he was supposed to be about and stuck to that. Jesus avoided burnout in part because he did what mattered most for others, not self! His focus was SOLELY on following the Father…thus he narrowed success to 1 issue; obedience. Burnout is only possible in the much of agendas, goals, systems, dreams, expectations etc.

          Yes, Jesus grew tired. Purposeful labor is tiring. But in contrast, purposeless labor is nearly always tiresome.

          We can have the fullness of life Jesus, Paul and many others have had. God has made known his presence with us and his purpose for us, and given us partners with whom we can accomplish that purpose. Therefore, "let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:1).
          A quote I have always thought was very wise: “Christians are not called to stop their hearts from breaking, but are called to be so filled with God that the endless supply flowing through them makes the brokenness less noticeable.”

          My own journey has its own stories of up and down. But the Bible shows a way forward so radically different from traditional ‘therapy’ it is worth our time to stop and look hard at the scripture. His cures always involve our deep commitment, while most worldly cures allow us a measure of avoidance, feeling sorry for ourselves, and a variety of medications.

          “Deny yourself…pick up your cross…and follow me.” In that declaration, command, and example are the cures for both the world as well as ourselves.

          Suck it up - is unbiblical
          Quitting - is unbiblical

          Christians are less bulletproof soldiers, than limping marines. And Pastors while seeking to comfort must often confront even the weary...as God did.

          There now, that wasn't so bad to read was it. But there is no anasthetic. [other than DEEP communion and worship with God] invest your time wisely so that you can get up off the floor and move staggeringly forward. Ministry is a M.A.S.H. unit and there are no vactions, furloughs, or cease-fires; and because it will last the rest of our lives we all need to know how to recieve enough healing to keep fighting and teach those around us how to do the same.

          I snap off my surgical gloves and go cry. And the crying bleeds the pain out and makes room for God to fill my heart with joy again. Why? Because some of you will choose to follow this. And for the others there is another spiritual truth. "Wherever you get off the train, is where you get back on." And I'll always be there, with the same map, to the same destination.

          [some of this article was cut-paste from other articles long ago saved in my hardrive but without citation...so if a brother or sister christian wrote some of this...forgive me...sue me...or agree it was all really from God]

          Good movies that help are:

          Heaven Can Wait
          Stranger than Fiction
          The Natural

          These are my personal burnout movies...and they help

          Monday, May 21, 2007

          The morning after

          We had a great day yesterday

          Got a ton done on the house. Listened to worship music all day on the inside and outside speakers. Went to the park and wrestled with the kids in the grass. Showed the house to some people. And late at night Amy and I sat on the front porch and watched the sun go down and talked to the neighbors walking by.

          And last night for the 1st time I dreamed about Ashland. And about Jesus great love for everyone there.

          more later...

          Sunday, May 20, 2007

          Guest blogger 'my son Chip'

          We have had an interesting 2 1/2 years. We have merged a church, planted a church, and started a satellite campus for a mega-church. In the midst of all this we knew God was moving us out of state, but didn't know where or when.

          Thus I ended up doing what most pastors cring at doing...I gave up my church without having the next one lined up. Everything was great with the churches...it was just an Abraham thing..."head north buddy....I'll tell ya when you get there." Anyways in the midst of all this Chip had an interesting insight at dinner:

          Quote from my journal around then.


          Is he my son or my brother?

          There is a subtle shift that comes unexpected and with great surprise when Fathers and Sons find hidden things in one another’s souls. Tonight at dinner I had one of those moments where my son tripped into a 6thsense, and told me something more precious than he will ever know.

          We hadn’tbeen talking about anything substantial or related to what he was about to initiate. My son, Chip said this:

          “Dad you know how someone at Mosaic said that their were people in the Bible that are like you?”
          “What do you mean,” I asked?
          “You know, someone who you look like”, Chip said
          “Like your dad is with Jeremiah”, His mother quipped in?
          “Well I think I know one”, Chip said
          “Like what”, I said
          “Well, you know the guy that was supposed to kill his son, to prove his love for God?”
          “Yes Chip, he was named Abraham…what about him?”


          “Well”, chip said, ”I think that is what you did. You gave up your church because God told you to, and you lost your job. But I think God was just testing you, and you will get another church and another job because you did what he asked and gave up everything”

          I stood there stunned, with tears welling up in my eyes “I hope so Chip, and thanks” I sat through the rest of dinner in silence

          Is he my son…my brother…a prophet…or an angel? I don’t know. I do know that something has shifted deeply in his understanding of scripture…and he is beginning to get it…really get it. And he is moving beyond just being my son, and being my brother-in-Christ. And he did something deep in me, to re-kindle my faith…as it sometimes flickers these days

          November 2005

          chapter 32

          a writing sample. I wrote a book last year, and thought i'd give you a chapter every now and then. Writing is a very important of who I am, and my gift to the kingdom and the churches i serve.

          Chapter 32: Stained Glass

          Two towering pieces of glass adorned the front of the mystic cathedral.Crystal clear. They may not have been perfect, but they were good…very good. And the light from the sun flowed through them uninterrupted with force andprecision into the majestic church. In the bright, crisp morning the glasswas there, drawing the sunlight in, like the oceans draw the rivers tothemselves; and like gravity draws all things to the earth.

          The old architect would come and look at the windows, as the dusk would fall away from the earth…and even then he could see the starlight cascading through them…and in the glow of the moonlight he would smile and then go home to rest. Until one day, he came to the church in the cool of the day and looked up tosee that the windows had been broken. Glass was everywhere, inside thesanctuary and outside in the garden. And his visage darkened as he approached the old doors and went inside the church. He was an old man now, older than any could say, and he was angry at the violence and muttered to himself as he went inside. And there amongst the shards of glass was an apple. An apple with 2 bite marks in it and a poisoned wormhole in the bottom. Obviously, it had been hurled up at the windows in some foolish act of defiance and rebellion. The old man threw the apple back out the windows and it fell far away past the garden and the statue sentries which guard it with flaming swords. Scowling…he left the building for the night. But, unseen to all a small worm crawled out of the apple on its belly and slidback into the darkness of the blackened and blighted Earth.

          He went home to tell his son, for his son was his apprentice and had madethe windows himself by hand. By doing so, the windows had always been special to him, precious to him, intimate to him. He knew his son would be mad…and..sad, and so he was. The son cried through the long, long night of silence. The next day, the Father brought his son to the old church. His son’s fingers were more nimble than his own, and he asked the younger man to pickup the pieces and clean up the old church. And the son, loving his father ashe did, obeyed him and started picking up the pieces. The boy picked up thepieces as best he could, but the longer he worked, the more the shards cut him and stained the glass. But he would not have one piece be lost, so he searched everywhere in the garden and in the church till he found everybroken sliver. He searched like a miser would for a lost coin; or a shepherda lost sheep; or, as a parent would search for a lost child. He pushed overall the tables in the sanctuary, and dove his head through the briary thorns of the garden searching for even the smallest shard. Even the pieces nobody would think mattered, the sort of pieces most of us would just ignore. By so doing he honored his father, and wanted the old architect to have his cathedral back the way he intended. And so for hours and hours on Friday he picked up the pieces, cherishing each one strangely, only half-aware that he was bleeding all over the carpet and the garden outside.

          The next morning his father went to look for him. He found his son, by the altar inside with the glass shards draped closely and carefully in his hands…he had found every one. The son’s eyes were wide open, and tears stillglistened on his face. And he was smiling, looking upwardly…smiling withjoy. But he was rigid and unmoving. He was dead. His blood had dripped and splattered all over the earth outside and all overthe interior of the cathedral. The architect howled in agony and fell to his knees digging his fingers intothe bloodstained carpet by his son’s feet. His screams echoed out and filledthe cosmos with reverberations of anguish and emptiness. He cried and heaved till he was spent with exhaustion, the sky growing dark. He tore down a curtain tapestry in the sanctuary and ripped it to shreds in adrenaline passion and fury. Then when he was empty…the sun came out again and spilled into the world. Later he carried his son’s body outside to rest it in the sun. He held the pieta moment in his heart, with his limp son hanging off of his lap. The sunlight splashed upon his gray face, but the pale body without blood was already turning into a corpse. He turned away, forsaking the moment and then went inside to clean up the mess. He tried to sweep up the glass, but just couldn’t get it all up. Resigning from the chore he wentback out through the large gopher wood doors. When he returned, his son was gone. Like dust in the wind, he had simply turned to ashes and blown away. Nearby the old man could hear the calling of a bird, the sound of a Phoenix. The architect crashed through the bushes searching for the bird, but exhausted hours later he was no closer. He gave up and wandered zombie-like back to the church. Mystery and confusion was written on his furrowed brow. The father sat there with all the stained glass and hung his head and cried, long bitter tears. Then he gathered the glass and went home for the night.

          The next day the father awoke with an inspiration. He would take all thestained glass and re-form the window as a tribute to his son and hissacrifice for a father’s love. He carefully took each piece and put thewindow back together, adding color here and there to tell the story of his son’s sacrifice for his father. 3 days in total passed while he worked night and day in the tomb of his workshop, and then it was finally complete. And when it was done the window was resurrected and stood again in the sun andin the sanctuary of his creation, but this time it was different. This time a red hue colored everything inside the cathedral…and by sunlight or starlight all who came could read the story of the son through the shards that stood up in the light. And in the cool of the day, the great designer could be with his 2 prized possessions again…the windows shattered and reformed, with the blood of his son imprinted on all of them. And deep in his heart was a bitter joy that always captivated him when he looked at it. And he was filled with mystery and paradox deep into the night. Strangely, neither the windows nor his son ever seemed as beautiful as they were now. And he remembered an old saying, lost in a book long forgotten…but nowsomehow fresh:

          “Men without God are like stained glass windows in the dark.”

          And he pondered this deeply all night long. The next morning, on a cloudydawn, he came to the church again to see the windows in the pitch black.When he arrived his heart was full of dread and despair for nothing could beseen at all and he was again haunted by both the loss of the windows and hisson. He then seemed to fall asleep and started to dream. And then the first glints of dawn hit the window and suddenly it was all alive. And he looked up and saw his son smiling at him in the window, smiling and laughing and dancing and singing. And all the glass sung withhim and danced with him in the light. It was then that the father knew the window was a portal, to someplace on the other side of eternity. Magically, somehow this is the enchantment the window now held. And so he reached out his hand to touch his son, and as their fingers touched…he was gone. People still come to the window today, though very few understand it.

          The story is told well or poorly based upon the tour guide’s experience and so some still feel the enchantment while others dismiss it all as myth or worse. Still, they just keep coming back, as I do, to stare at it in starlight and sun. And when nobody is looking, when I sneak in at the early dawn, I touch it hoping it will carry me far, far away. It hasn’t yet. But when I do touch it I can almost hear the son singing my name, and I can seemy reflection in one of the glass pieces. And in that reflection I always see him beside me, picking me up, with blood on his hands. And he holds me while I cut him and he never lets me go. And so I get up everyday to look at the window and to be the window. To let the sun shine on and in me, to let the tears of rain fall off me, and to let others look through me. And I hope that in the stained glass of my red eyes, somewhere they too will see the reflection of the son. That is my only prayer. And for that, I will search and carry my glass pieces for the rest of my life.

          For what else could Ipossibly do?

          Friday, May 18, 2007

          I took a couple days off from blogging just to catch my wind in stuff here. But so you'll be impressed this is what we got done in 3 days:

          1. Door reframed and hung on front of house
          2. Door reframed and hung on side of house
          3. All entry stairways repainted
          4. Duplex cleaned and mopped...again
          5. Doorbell fixed
          6. Back window replaced, reframed and fixed
          7. Painted baseboard in living room and dining room
          8. Painted 1 side of new front door
          9. Filled 2 holes from old furnace in floor, sanded, and stained to match floor
          10. Packed about another 15 boxes
          11. Moved all packed boxes to duplex side
          12. Moved large bookcases to duplex side
          13. Moved paino and polished it
          14. Moved and fixed metro-cart
          15. Replaced broken rails on front porch and painted them

          Now...why...should you care?

          no idea...

          But it helps me to have tidy little lists and to feel like I have accomplished something. Pathetic and anal retentive bordering on obsessive compulsive...probably.

          But it's also a burning part of my DNA. Impact...and Accomplishment. So you've been warned. I have been known to give excel tasks lists to people that are either bored, passive, sleepy, or like to complain. Idleness IS the devils workshop. And I have a very low tolerance for complaints from people who don't do anything.

          oops

          Did I really say that outloud? Maybe I should pull it out. No. No you have got to know all sides of me. The pastor and the prophet. I'm a roll with it, fun-loving guy in a lot of ways...but there is a badger that can pop out every now and then. The Bible, history, and life itself holds no real heroes save for the Lord Himself. Like Jacob...I walk with a limp.

          And the badger's got a few pointy sticks he doesn't like very well.

          Maybe I'll be courageous enough to give you that list sometime [not today]

          Not much of a blog entry...but at least I'm back into the swing of it.

          Tuesday, May 15, 2007

          Simply,

          My daughters took a whole bottle of pledge and sprayed all the floors of our duplex apartment last night in an effort to "help me."

          I have mopped it several times and it is still as smooth as glass and slippery as an ice skating rink.

          So now I have some choices:

          I could get really angry and frustrated
          or I could go skating

          I had to take the day off from work to finish demo of the bathroom and hang the new doors. But I didn't want to get to working yet soooo....

          Here I am sliding around my floors in tube soxs with Bob Segar music screaming in the background. Sunglasses on...I AM Tom Cruise from Risky Business!

          Now there's an image you don't want to have early in the morning. The fat pastor sliding around in his boxers screaming "I love that old time rock and roll!" at the top of his lungs.

          I have also discovered that if you call the dog into the room he will come running at nascar speed but be unable to make the turns and thus wipes-out when he tries to make the corner turns. This is endlessly funny and I have done it a dozen times. Also, he likes to wrestle with me and this gives me a huge "ultimate fighting" advantage. Even now he stares at me panting from the safety of the rug, unwilling to challenge the "dominator."

          I have also discovered that cats spin really well. Recipe for fun: Place your cat on the shiny polished wood. Put your hand where thier belly is and start turning them counterclockwise. Faster and faster and they will uncurl and spread out, unable to do anything. When you have reached peak speed release them and watch them try to get up and slide about and run sideways. In several attempts I have yet to get bored, and in fact have laughed so hard that I have cried. They will probably go pee on my clothes upstairs...but it was totally worth it.

          And today I will look for the hockey sticks and challenge my kids to a game of indoor hockey in the living room.

          Because if life gives you lemons...make lemonade.
          And if your daughters empty a whole cannister of pledge on the floor...sing Bob Segar songs, attack the dog, spin the cats, and play hockey.

          the alternatives are no fun.

          In many ways this is the concept of redemption. Buying back something that can be restored to usefullness. God could have just stayed furious with me, but instead sent His son to die for me and buy me back from the punishment that I literally 'damn well had coming.' So instead of hell and fury I get grace and love.

          and the choice to do the same for others

          or not

          and today you will have to choose as well

          Monday, May 14, 2007

          The rebellion of fireflies

          Tonight there are fireflies outside my house. And they got me thinking. They have an internal flame that pierces the darkness, and because of this they stand out with great drama in thier surroundings.

          Like a city on a hill.

          Like Jerusalem was supposed to be. The city of David singing praises all over the world. The temple of Solomon where the people of the world would come to find wisdom. Like the place Nehemiah returned to rebuild so that that place and her people would again be all that God intended.

          Like we are supposed to be.

          • The church set on hill where all the world can see, with an internal flame the world doesn't understand.
          • Or us as temples of the spirit sent into the world as ambassadors of grace and revolution, with an internal spirit flame lighting us up from within.

          And we shine best in the darkness and gloom of twilight. Sparkling teases of heaven that the world can't help but notice and try to run after and catch. That's what we need to be. So bright and dancing and laughing, and full of peace and joy that simply by our normal nature we infect the world with hope and wonder.

          So I would ask you to remember your place in the world. Fireflies from Forever...Angels of mercy...lighthouses of hope...beacons of truth...flashlights of wisdom. And Satan would desire to drown us in darkness, and yet...that very darkness is our natural glory. It is there where we shine the best and brightest. And when you think you can't do it, remember you can't. It's not about you and your religion or resolve; it's about just opening yourself up to full relationship and simply resonating with God. When we do this we are fully alive. When we do this love is easy.

          So fly in the darkness and blaze a light for all to find thier way home. Burn inside with the great love God has for you. And rest in the wonder of being a new creature in Christ.

          This is much in my mind today. I have had to deal with rebellion, slander, gossip, and woundings in a variety of people. You never stop being a pastor. And it's funny to me how some people don't even see thier light diminishing because of the things they choose to focus on. Thier wounds and passions are real...but often so misguided and immature...that all they do is damage. But today I have also seen wisdom, encouragement, true fellowship, and edification flow into people and watched the lights inside turn back on.

          And I will pray tonight for all the lights to be turned on inside you. For Christ to walk through all the dark prison hallways of your heart and mind. And as he walks the prison doors burst open and healing, freedom, love and light flow in. The sun rises warmly, birds sing, and the dawn of a brand new day opens up all the possible paths of adventure, rest, and joy with God. Jesus loves you more than I could ever possibly write. He is surprised by nothing you do. And his delight is searching for lost sheep, coins, and children and drawing them back to himself. His tender love even now searches through you with whispers of his grace. Embrace them and let them wash over you.

          Be reborn

          And fly in such a way that others might seek the choices that you have made.

          amen

          Sunday, May 13, 2007

          1. Closer by the Call [my deepest connection with Jesus]
          2. I still believe by the Call [best song after a bad day]
          3. Deacon blues by Steely Dan [reminds me how I felt about life pre-Jesus]
          4. Come home to me by Brent Bourgeios [to be listened to while looking at the return of the prodigal son by Rembrandt]
          5. Light from a distant Shore by Holly Smith [my longing for heaven]
          6. Surrounded by Shipwrecks and Islands [gold records UK]
          7. We Change and Ominous by John Mark McMilan [i wish there was more stuff out there as good as this guy]
          8. Hurt by Johnny Cash [meant a lot more after I saw the video and movie]
          9. Brand new Day by Sting [optimism funscape]
          10. Losing my religion by REM [song came out about the same time I read the book "grace awakening" by Chuck Swindoll
          11. Personal Jesus by Depeche Mode [also my ringtone]
          12. E=MC2 by Big Audio Dynamite
          13. Fireproof by Pillar [I hit repeat when I am doing spiritual warfare and intercession]
          14. Sowing the seeds of love by Tears for Fears [evangelism jumper-cables]
          15. The power of love by Frankie goes to hollywood [surprising God stuff in the lyrics]
          16. Ship of fools by World Party [my anthem to the world that doesn't know Jesus]
          17. My Jesus by Todd Agnew [did I mention how important Jesus is to me]
          18. Everything you want by Vertical Horizon [again...makes me think about Jesus, especially when the chorus changes on the last do through]
          19. One thing by Finger eleven [for me....the gospel]
          20. Children of the revolution by the Violent Femmes
          21. Alive by POD
          22. Run by Ricky Ochoa
          23. Revolution by the Cult
          24. Sing by Aaron Spiro
          25. I will be with you by Margaret Becker

          Man that was hard...but i-tunes doesn't lie

          The importance of coffee

          Amy and I are coffeeholics.
          "Hello we're the sherwoods and we're coffeeholics"

          We have:

          • An espresso maker
          • a steamer
          • a coffee grinder
          • a percolator
          • a coffee press
          • a coffee maker
          • a little temperature gage
          • a thingy for making froth
          • starbucks mugs galore

          It's an addiction. We also usually keep a stock of beans from our neighborhood roaster. Is there a roaster in Ashland...or will we drive to Cleveland once a month for our twitching fix?

          our stock usually includes:

          1. Double french roast [black, sweaty beans]
          2. Italian roast [black bitter beans]
          3. Espresso [dark]
          4. Banana / Hazlenut...when we can find it

          We also have a ton of syrups:

          • Hazlenut
          • Irish Cream
          • Vanilla
          • Eggnog

          And my favorite starbucks is a quad, grande, caramel.

          why do I tell you this? Oh I'm just fishing to see if there are any hyper, caffinated, folks out there?

          Personality [part 2]

          Gary Smalley has a good tool on personalities as well.

          I am:

          Beaver- Organized. Beavers think that there is a right way to do everything and they want to do it exact that way. They like to build things and tear things down that don't work right [see Jeremiah 1 for my life purpose] Beaver personalities are very creative. Border on obessesive-compulsive. They desire to solve everything. Desire to take their time and do it right. Beavers do not like sudden changes. [but I do] They need reassurance. Biblical Example: Moses Case Study: Exodus 3-4 Strength: High standards, order, respect Weakness: Unrealistic expectations of self & others, too perfect, workaholics, perfectionists. Limitation: Seeing the optimistic side of things, expressing flexibility

          Amy is [and we think Chip is]

          Golden Retriever- Good at making friends. Very loyal. Retriever personalities do not like big changes. They look for security. Can be very sensitive. Very caring. Has deep relationships, but usually only a couple of close friends. Wants to be loved by everyone. Looks for appreciation. Works best in a limited situation with a steady work pattern.Biblical Example: AbrahamCase Study: Genesis 12-22Strength: Accommodating, calm, affirmingWeakness: Indecisive, indifferent, unable to express emotional, too soft on other peopleLimitation: Seeing the need to be more assertive, holding others accountable

          Madison DEFINATELY is:

          Otter- Otters are very social creature. Otter personalities love people. They enjoys being popular and influencing and motivating others. Otter can sometimes be hurt when people do not like them. Otter personalities usually have lots of friends, but not deep relationships. They love to goof-off. (They are notorious for messy rooms.) Otters like to hurry and finish jobs. (Jobs are not often done well.) The otter personality is like Tigger in Winnie The Pooh.Biblical Example: PeterCase Study: John 21:1-22Strength: People person, open, positiveWeakness: Talks too much, too permissiveLimitation: Remembering past commitments, follow through with discipline

          Mikey may be:

          Lion- This personality likes to lead. The lion is good at making decisions and is very goal-oriented. They enjoy challenges, difficult assignments, and opportunity for advancement. Because lions are thinking of the goal, they can step on people to reach it. Lions can be very aggressive and competitive. Lions must learn not to be too bossy or to take charge in other's affairs.Biblical Example: PaulCase Study: Acts 9:3-19Strength: Goal-oriented, strong, directWeakness: Argumentative, too dictatorialLimitation: Doesn't understand that directness can hurt others, hard time expressing grace

          the money pit

          The house goes up for sale Monday. And I am reprising the role of Tom Hanks in the movie 'the money pit.' It's about a guy who buys a historical house and seeks to renovate it.

          here's where I am at:

          1. hang new front doors
          2. demo bathroom upstairs and down
          3. finish painting eaves
          4. fix 2 upstairs windows the tornadoes took out last week
          5. make a window for old a/c unit replacement
          6. retile kitchen floor
          7. paint outside steps
          8. pressure wash driveway
          9. repaint outside trim
          10. replace rotten wood in several places
          11. paint back of garage
          12. finish painting kitchen cabinets
          13. start painting cabinets in duplex

          that's the short list. Then there is packing up stuff, throwing stuff out, giving stuff away, etc.

          wish you were here!

          Saturday, May 12, 2007

          This week I got a list of people who attend 5 stones. That's great because now I can start praying for you. But it still lacks something personal. If everything goes to plan i'm gonna try to get some of our pictures into this blog, and what i'd really like to do is have some of your faces sent my way. My e-mail is david@5stones.org and what I'd like is to be able to have a ton of pictures of ya-all to hang up on the wall down here when i'm praying.

          by the way

          there are nicknames people use down here for different churches. Weggies go to a church called wedgwood; lifers go to lifechurch; punksters to deliverance [a punk-rock church]. So what are you guys called...'stoners?'

          which leads me to my sense of humor, which i hope you will learn to enjoy. I try to use humor to disarm people about things that are serious. Churches can be pretty up-tight places sometimes and the unchurched are usually surprised when you can talk about the sense of humor of the church; how much fun you have there; or laughing so hard you need to pee. Which is funny in and of itself. Why would God connect our bladder to laughter in such a way that at some level of hilarity we have to go to the bathroom. Maybe that's His sense of humor. He perhaps laughs, that we are laughing so hard we need to run to the bathroom.

          Ask Will [and the search team] about my sense of humor. I tortured Will with a phone message that I thought was hilarious. Practical jokes are just too much fun. My wife chides me about such things, but I just smile when I think about it. Almost all great memories boil down to 2 things: great pain and great joy. Interestingly they are connected, and laughter is often the best medicine during times of pain.

          some thoughts, so related:

          Church bumper stickers that say "every body must get stoned; get stoned this week at church; or stoner church."

          any thoughts for funny t-shirts or bumper stickers?

          Friday, May 11, 2007

          Favorite soda:

          1. Jones Cream soda
          2. Sobe Black and Blueberry
          3. Coke with lime and vanilla
          4. RC Cola
          5. Jolt Cola [all the sugar and twice the caffeine!]

          Favorite Football Teams:

          1. Notre Dame
          2. Buffalo Bills
          3. Anybody playing against the Miami Dolphins
          4. Maybe Ashland University, Ohio State, and Cleveland Browns [they did get the Irish kid at QB]

          Favorite Hockey Team:

          1. Buffalo Sabres

          Favorite Baseball team:

          1. The Yankees

          Favorite Nascar team and driver:

          1. Do I look like a redneck...ooops, I mean...I haven't yet learned to appreciate the finer points of...

          Favorite sports to actually play: [as a fat 40 something year old]

          1. Sand Volleyball
          2. Football
          3. Soccer
          4. Tennis [except with that one kid from Ashland University...I can't remember her name...but she just crushed this one church members face and frankly...I'm afraid of her. Maybe we should make her head Deacon or the "tithe" enforcer
          5. Snow skiing
          6. Mountain biking

          Favorite foods:

          1. Anything my wife cooks
          2. Beef Wellington
          3. Anything with Scallops in it
          4. Lobster
          5. Anything I can put on my grill [and we like it RARE...still twitching, we like our roadkill fresh]

          Favorite resteraunts: [we try to avoid chains...but]

          1. Texas deBrazil. [Those cool Brazilian places with meat on giant skewers and waiters in pirate pants]
          2. Friendly's [believe it or not I worked in one about 20 years ago...and haven't been to one in about 15 years]
          3. Anything French or German [David] Mexican or Weird [Amy] Pizza [the kids]

          Chips favorite football team:

          1. The Dallas Cowboys [boo hiss!]
          2. The Texas Longhorns

          Amy's idea of fun: [from my perspective]

          1. Sleeping in late
          2. Napping
          3. Gardening
          4. Cooking food for 50 people
          5. Playing, praying, and teaching the kids
          6. Chick flicks or movies with a high body count [either / or]

          Cats or Dogs:

          1. Dogs [Old English Sheepdog or British Bulldog]
          2. Concerning Cats...I have 2...and my tennis raquet needs restringing

          Wii, Playstation, or X-box:

          1. I'm a pastor, mariied with 3 kids, and I have a life. So I have no idea about any of that stuff. However my son seems to prefer playstation right now.
          2. The last time I played...I think it was Asteroids...Defender...and Frogger

          Favorite Superheroes:

          1. Silver Surfer
          2. Daredevil
          3. Nightcrawler
          4. the Vision
          5. the Shadow
          6. the Dark Knight [Batman]
          7. Moon Knight
          8. the Flash
          9. Samaria Jack
          10. Machine Man...no wait the Tick...no Too much Coffee man

          Decadent indulgance:

          1. Chocolate truffles
          2. Chocolate covered coffee beans
          3. Rasperry Napoleans
          4. Tiramisu
          5. Cream Brule [sp?!]

          Cars and Motorcycles:

          1. My sweetheart Honda VTX 1800
          2. Norton Commando
          3. 1966 Shelby Mustand with 500 boss engine
          4. Barracuda
          5. 1972 Challenger
          6. Amy wants a hummer
          7. and Madi wants a pink mini-cooper
          8. and Chip wants an F-150 truck

          more later...that's enough for now


          What principles are most responsible for your success?

          Being purpose driven.
          Providence favors the prepared mind.
          Obedience is success.
          An internal compass is more valuable than an external goal
          the 7 habits
          Find God first, find yourself, find the lost…finally find the broken
          4 habits of extraordinary leaders
          Marine’s creed: prepare, adapt, improvise and overcome
          Nobody cares how much you know till they know how much you care
          All of Jesus leadership initiatives began on his knees
          Comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable
          Wait for conviction and then act fearlessly
          All trust points are earned 1 on 1
          Example trumps explaination
          Flywheels and Hedgehogs [from Good to great]
          Honesty is the best policy
          Confront small problems quickly [cancer doesn’t wait for a cure]
          The unchurched REALLY are white unto harvest. “it’s not about you [or me] it’s about Him and them.”
          Challenges are simply opportunities hidden in rags
          Think outside the box
          Stretch the congregation but don’t snap them
          Character matters more than charisma
          Don’t sweat the small stuff
          Never defend yourself
          People who think they are victims…are. People who think they are victorious…are.

          My Testimony

          Lost till age 7. At age 7 at a Christian summer camp called Hickory Hill I had my 1st encounter with God. After a campfire kids were asked to stay if they had any questions. Somehow, this is the question that slipped into my mind that night. I believe it was also the 1st time I thought abstractly. I asked “where does the universe end? It seems to me sitting here tonight that it goes on and on, and if it ends and there is a brick wall or something you could chisel through that and it still wouldn’t really end.” They couldn’t answer my question, so they told me the Romans road, which I didn’t believe but it was obvious they couldn’t answer my question and wouldn’t let me go to bed till I said “the sinners prayer” and so I did. It didn’t stick. At age 16 I was suicidal and atop a pine tree in my back yard I told God to show-up by the end of the summer or I would kill myself. I was very serious. The next day I shoplifted ‘mere Christianity’ from the drug-store, and went back the next few days to steal ‘the screwtape letters,’ and finally ‘the abolition of man.’” By the end of the summer I was a deist, returned the books, and went back up to the top of the pine tree. I didn’t hear a voice, but something inside me said “go to church.” And so I did. Sometime that autumn I was rescued-converted-saved-regenerated by Jesus. I don’t have a date and time, my story doesn’t work like that. I became a standard issue Baptist ultra fundamentalist for a spell, brush cut and a suit, full of clich├ęs and judgmentalism. However, I did learn some great theology. It was all head till age 25. I stuffed myself full of knowledge and ran after degrees hoping that would be the answer. If fundamentalism answered everything with morality, evangelicalism answered it all with knowledge. Both had foundational pieces but I was looking for more. A W Tozer and Richard Foster opened the other doors for me. For a season I spent a lot of time in both the contemplative and charismatic traditions of Christianity. As the last 10 years have unfolded God has taken all of this and put together how I am made and how I enjoy and do relationship with God. I think like an evangelical; feel like a contemplative; and am seeking to act in both the morality of the holiness movement as well as the compassion of the social justice movement. Each of the doors I have opened is a part of my ancient/future faith. I was postmodern before the vogue hit. I could talk forever about what God has done relationally in me, but perhaps that is for another day. Sufficed to say…I am more in-love with Him every day.

          A great church is:

          Connected deeply with the will of God through scripture and prayer
          Purpose driven
          Missional
          Focused
          It’s Budget reflects God’s values
          Gets the unchurched to come because EVERYBODY asks them to come
          Closes the back door through discipleship
          Has a front door that is compelling, warm, relevant, creative, and authentic.
          Searches for the unchurched
          A learning organization and organism
          Committed to excellence
          Ancient / Future

          it's reach is much greater than the corner of king and college---it goes as far as we do, and then we pay it forward often


          Evaluates itself ruthlessly. Fearlessly faces reality.
          Produces good works in the community
          Takes God seriously, is sober about Satan, and does not take itself seriously.
          Plants churches, connects apostolically, and sends missionaries out
          Is in existence primarily for the benefit of its non-members
          Not afraid of case studies that fail
          Kills programming that doesn’t produce fruit
          One that loves each other extravagantly, unguardedly, and outrageously
          “not about you”
          Understands the differences between leaders and managers
          Shifts into new paradigms with enthusiasm
          A place where legalism is treated as an enemy of grace
          Politics are replaced by prayer
          Implementation trumps philosophy
          The call of “the rescue” [gospel] is given unapologetically by creatively and empathetically sharing the Jesus story
          Has Christ’s heart for the poor, social justice, suffering, etc.
          Worships deeply
          Plays, laughs, cries, dances, grieves…with each other
          A place where everyone is a servant-leader and priest of humility
          Where healing happens, lives are transformed, and revolution is SOP
          Afflicts the comfortable, and comforts the afflicted
          The sermon is the rudder, Jesus mission is the North Star, and everyone works the deck to get to the destination
          Church refitting is re-done every 5 years to make sure we don’t get lost and forget that the values are more important than the form
          Diversity, dialogue and deference trump narrowness, diatribe, and domination
          The Spirit can flow freely in the preparation of the services; or spontaneously take over the services
          Creativity is deeply valued
          Fruit is inspected
          Church discipline is operational, normative, restorative, and unafraid

          A chruch is a community of believers,enthused to show jesus love on a continous basis. Able to get rid of our flesh and walk with the spirit.Not only a group of friends but family, willing to drop anything to help all.Also, not to keep it in the walls of our chruch, but willing to overflow into the community therefore effecting a nation.


          What do you think? Let’s add to the list

          What I preach and Why

          Style:

          My preference and the best fruit is when I go through books of the Bible one paragraph a week. I would describe it as very akin to that of Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Fellowship in Seattle. I am getting better at “felt needs” topical preaching, but this is not yet as good. My model in this is Craig Groeshel from Oklahoma City. I also try to preach a narrative sermon 4 times a year. I always have a creative PowerPoint and use media clips every week.

          My philosophy is this:

          • Exegetical preaching teaches people how to think biblically and thus assures them and affords them the ability to know what God is saying in large chunks in context. In this way people get the whole council of God and learn to think biblically over time. I usually go through rotating preaching from the Old Testament and New Testament making sure I also hit the poetic books of the OT in regular fashion.

          • Topical preaching allows people to think with some sense of systematic theology and gives people the breadth of Gods wisdom through gleaning the Bible from front to back. I try to use the concept of a "runner" series 4 times a year that addresses felt needs and is used by the church family as very pointed times to invite thier unchurched friends with more urgency.

          • Narrative sermons bring the Bible back to its original presentation-storytelling and oral tradition.

          Preparation:

          I am typically preparing several sermons at the same time. In regard to weekly preparation I do the following: Read the text and go pray and walk around for an hour. Do the language research usually with the critical commentary series and life application commentaries; and reference at least 4 other commentaries on the passage. This takes about 5 hours. I then sketch the sermon out in PowerPoint and place all the scripture within it. I also try to plot the path for the intellect, heart, and will for the entire sermon. I then get a group of people together for a brainstorming session about what the passage means, how it is relevant, and what creative applications it may bring to the table. This is around another 2 hours. I then do a final draft and try it out once and try to fix mistakes and spend time praying that I got it right. I also make sure I actually integrate and apply the sermon to my own life so that there is some spiritual fruit to illustrate my thoughts and to be a benchmark for integrity as a teacher. Total prep time per sermon and service averages 10-15 hours a week

           

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