Friday, June 29, 2007


I had a great meeting with one of our worship leaders this summer, Nate. What an awesome guy, with a huge heart for God, ministry, missions, and worship.
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I'm always humbled and amazed at the privilege of working with men and women of excellence and heart, and wisdom and teachability. I look forward to learning from him this summer, and I hope you do too! His leadership helps take us into the throne room of God...what can be cooler than that!
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He's an intern, and so I haven't checked the books but that usually means we are paying him in food-stamps and loose change from the till.
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so...
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somebody...yes YOU! Needs to make sure he's taken care of. Take him out to lunch this week after church. Order him a big fat steak by golly, and finish him off with some obscene dessert.
and everybody else...give him a hug and a thank-you for giving his gift to God and us.
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And the other picture at the top. I typed "worship leader" into flickr and got this picture and it just captivated me. The woman is in a rapture, her emotions are deep on her face, and filling her whole body. She's in the grove, and intimate with God...you can just FEEL it.
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Which leads me to my final point. If you really want to honor Nate and God this Sunday, come ready to worship. Ready to follow his lead in the spirit. Ready to pour your alabaster heart all over the feet of Jesus. Don't wait, come ready. Get up a little early and pray, and worship, and read some Psalms. And when the first song comes out try to blow the band clear off the stage, and see if you can get Jesus to really feel loved and welcomed...let's get HIM to smile, enjoy himself, and feel the love of our hospitality.
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Remember, always remember. WE are on the stage, and we are all playing to an audience of one. JESUS
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PS: Pray for him and his discernment about going to Ireland in January

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I'm here!!!



I made it here alive! [comatose in many ways, but alive]

After driving some 20 hours through hurricanes, tornadoes, monsoons...me and more importantly...the bike are now in Ashland.

I am staying at a super-secret brethren hostile for advanced spirituality. The people here are teaching me how to meditate, levitate, and con people out of money...you know...typical pastoral skills. They plug me into a MATRIX like machine every night and I wake up more skilled and holier than ever.

I hope tomorrow to learn how to call down hellfire and brimstone, move mountains, walk on water, and a few other tricks of the trade. [if I hit your house with any of this stuff I'm sorry, please forgive me as I am a novice]

Plus the foods great, and the brethren dali-lama and his wife are great company.

Talk later. Must work on sermon, and wander about town and pray.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

sunday


2 days left till I'm out of town.


Today Chip had lessons on the weed-whacker and some other power tools. He was complaining a bit about the heat, and getting the lawn done. Suddenly I fell on the ground and started laughing my maniacal laugh. mmmmhhhhuuuuuhhhhhhaaaaaa! "What is your problem", chip asked in embarrassment and chagrin; and i said "next week this time I will be sitting in the shade somewhere with an ice-tea while you have to do all this yourself. mmmmhhhhhhhhuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhaaaaaaa!


he wasn't amused. actually he was but refused to crack a smile till I upped the volume on the laugh and started thrashing on the ground.


man it's fun being a dad, and doing all the things to my kids my dad did to me...plus some new ones.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

garage sale







Garage sale day! [it's craptacular!!!] and really makes you think about some of the questionable purchases...and fashion choices of the last decade.
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Trying to lighten the load, and simplify. We found a great trunk to ship the girls in as well, up in the attic!
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Very sad to finally sell my 80's lp's...flock of seagulls...adam and the ants...level 42...DEBBIE GIBSON!!!...yikes where the "hoo-ya" did that come from?
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also...found some old SPANDEX!
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remember SWATCHES...and a few lime-green Generra "miami vice" sweaters...and stirrup pants...
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PS: Wish you were here
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PSS: We're still doing it...so any 5 stones members get stuff for FREE! just come and get it



Friday, June 22, 2007

indulging redneck fantasies

Not everybody that has a trailer is a redneck in Texas, but owning one is a badge of honor. I have had redneck envy for years looking at people with dirt-bikes and wave-runners on the back of trucks laden with Nascar stickers. Alas my poor little metrosexual truck doesn't have a hemmie, but the little rice-burner is happy.

Amy said when she kissed me good-bye the other morning that I said "be careful in the truck sweetheart, now that he's got a hitch, he's feeling frisky"

I deny having ever said that...but it's funny.

Pray about the weather, I was gonna leave Tue but we are supposed to have an Evan-Almighty deluge that day so I may leave Monday night just to get ahead of it. And, candidly, I am nervous about driving a trailer...it's my first time...and I hope the road will be gentle with me.

Upstairs and the garage are now show-ready, and downstairs is close. We have had a lot of lookers but we will get a real-estate agent pretty soon.

Big garage sale Saturday...fun.

I'll chime in later...that's it for now

PS: "rice-burner" and "redneck" are meant as terms of humor and not derogatory in any shape or fashion.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

i just woke up


I just woke up, which is rare. I am usually up between 5 and 6 am. Yesterday I had a fireman friend over and he helped me with a project that I never could have done...then we had dinner...and then a doctor friend of mine who is on-call for the midnight shift came over and did some painting with me till about 2am.


so I'm a little groggy.


But I'm also deeply appreciative. I have had some ourtageous acts of love and compassion given to me over the last few months. It always humbles me. One family gave me some money and said "it's a sad state of affairs when you have to give money to your friends to get them out of town." It was funny and bittersweet all at the same time.


I guess I want this post to be a praise to God. He has given me more friends of a higher quality than I could ever deserve; he has given me the greatest privilidge and responsibility in the world in being a pastor; he has shown me more love and longsuffering patience than anyone [even God] should have to give anybody; he has given me spiritual, emotional, and financial gifts that are just ridiculous; he has paid for my education, bought me houses...he has given me the greatest woman on the planet and the coolest kids that have ever existed. It just all seems so humbling and wonderful to me today. He has cerainly put me in some wild and weird places, but never alone, and as such my biography of trying to follow him isn't boring.


It's funny, Amy and I were talking the other night and we laughed and said "Well there's one thing that's consistent...God never bores us!"


And thus I suppose, I never try to bore people with God.


I just think God is the wildest, coolest, hippest, dynamic, adrenaline rushing, peacefull, roller-coastering, gentle, patient, passionate, ... thing in the world. I am still convinced that anything in the world that blows your socks off...God laughs at because it is a fraction of what His capacities are.


So the day...er...afternoon starts with praise.


amen

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


I guess Satan got bored today.



  1. my clutch is done, but needed other work

  2. they can't find the tire I need for my bike

  3. I painted something black at the house, told the kids to stay away, and my youngest walked in it and got it everywhere. Then I yelled at them, and then walked to the other side and leaned against more black paint and got it on me. Her guilt foot-print is found above [they had all claimed innocence]

  4. the cats urinated on something again, and the other can of paint I needed I couldn't find...then found it...and it was dried out

  5. and the guy who was supposed to fix something hasn't come by, and won't answer his cell phone

  6. The kids spilled cereal all over something I had just painted with oil based enamel...and I have no idea how to clean it up

I'd kick the dog, but he hasn't done anything wrong


So I am going to read some Psalms and listen to David Crowder till I get my head on straight again.


an aside


I was reading a blog of an Iraqi teenager in Baghdad last night for about 2 hours. It was heartbreaking. I wrote her an e-mail telling her how sorry I was and that I was praying for her. Given the pitiful smallness of my trials this entry now seems so...small.


I suppose that is the thing that helps with frustration. Perspective. Having been reminded by the Spirit of her plight...my problems now seem microscopic.


and that does help

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Please tell me what you think, anonymous or otherwise. E-mail or commentary. More of...less of...go jump in a lake...

1 week from today


1 week from today I will be 1/2 way to Ohio. Or on the side of the road heading in that direction.
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1/2 way will be Springfield Missouri. I will be spending a night there; hang out with my mother-in-law; and probably stop by and see Marge and Homer as well.







The argument was popularized by the French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal (1623-1662). The same can be found in his unfinished writing, Pensées (literally, "thoughts").
Briefly, Pascal's wager posits that it is a better "bet" to believe that God exists than not to believe, because the expected value of believing (which Pascal assessed as infinite) is always greater than the expected value of not believing.






"God is, or He is not." But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide nothing here. There is an infinite chaos which separated us. A game is being played at the extremity of this infinite distance where heads or tails will turn up ... Which will you choose then? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You have two things to lose, the true and the good; and two things to stake, your reason and your will, your knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to shun, error and misery. Your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather than the other, since you must of necessity choose ... But your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is ... If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.
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To recap, Pascal argued that:



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To live as if God exists, and turns out God exists: heavenTo live as if God exists, but turns out no God: neutralTo live as if no God, but turns out God exists: hellTo live as if no God, and turns out no God: neutral.

nuff said


Thomas Merton quote




Every moment and every event of every man's life on earth plants something in his soul. Most of these seeds are lost to him because he doesn't understand how to root them, prune them, and bring forth fruit from them. But God is not hard to find, his words and wisdom are, as the book of Proverbs says, in the ants and in the air all around us. Finding God in such a light becomes almost comical, for awareness is all that is needed. Like a blindfolded man submerged in lonliness who is suddenly given sight and looks around to see that he is in a stadium full of people. It is when we finally awaken from our great darkness of spiritual slumber that we finally see that God is surrounding us with seeds. Seeds of love, hope, teaching, grace, compassion, mercy and a million other things. Yet again, most men never find God because they never slow down long enough to find themselves. And what hope does a man have of finding God, if he cannot find himself?

Transparency


My leadership style has a lot of transparency in it. With that in mind, some people have asked how I'm doing. Which is a great question with a lot of answers. I will attempt to answer it.


  • Excitement about starting a whole new life, reinvent myself in some ways, make new friends, etc.

  • Grief over leaving a decade of ministry, friends, and churches here.

  • Relief over getting the house ready to sell, packed, and knowing exactly where God wants me to be.

  • Fear of failure.

  • Passion about using my gifts, being a missionary in Ashland, and loving and leading the church.

  • Anxiety over the house selling and my family's transition.

  • Wonder and worship.

These emotions blend and blur, fade and resurface because of choices I have to make in my mind and heart a thousand times in any given day. There are moments and hours of keen worship and connection to the spirit; and there are moments of keen spiritual opposition and the gnattering accusations and dark whispers of the evil one.


This is life. This is normal. This is Christianity and its experience. I used to try hard to avoid some emotions, but this was exhausting and usually a failure. Now I try to sit with my various emotions and let each of them bring me thier gift. Some gifts are fine in small dosses [grieving] because it forces me to pray and connect to the Spirit. Some gifts are just great, and when "peace like a river" floods over me I try to saturate my heart roots in it, so I am soaked in it for the times that are coming when I'll be dry again.


I'm a pretty holistic guy. By guys do have compartments. So the three compartments I am try to see maturity in are mind, emotions, and will.



  • Getting my mind aligned with God

  • Allowing the Spirit to steer my emotions

  • Allowing God to pull the trigger on decisions of action

I'm not normally an emotional roller-coaster...or at least not as much as I used to be. But the events in front of me will be a rollercoaster. I know this. Thus I can either choose to hate it and cringe at every turn...or...embrace it as part of the thrill of life and something to experience fully.


I firmly believe a great day should have these 7 components in it, and I aim at this every day



  1. My mind needs to be challenged by Gods word to understand and enjoy and obey Him more.

  2. My heart needs to give and recieve love from God, others, and even myself.

  3. My body needs to be stretched and tested, pushed and strengthened.

  4. If possible a good day should always end with grass-stains on the knees. In a pinch do at least one sommersault outside.

  5. An unchurched person should be touched by God in a significant way.

  6. Cry hard at least once, preferably in prayer for someone else.

  7. Laugh hard and fully with deep joy from God.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Garbage picking culture


The Apostle Paul at Mars Hill [Athens Greece] took a stoic poem about Zeus and used it to introduce a non Jewish culture to Christ.


He was garbage picking.


So do I.


I watched Ghost Rider tonight and again was amazed that the story of Satan, and the reality of his lies and schemes, was made plain by a comic book and movie. It's not like it was great theology, but it was great narrative about the big stuff. Satan is bad...he lies...he kills...don't trust him or make any deals...they will bite you in the butt.


I'll give you a heads up. This summer MAY have another one. In this movie there will be a war between two worlds, good and evil, that slips into our world. TRANSFORMERS. One side trying to protect us and one side trying to kill us. And they can look like normal stuff...kind of like angels and demons and the whole MATRIX ideaology.


The fun for me is to watch some of this, with my kids, and tell them what is true and false in it. We have great conversations. Much better conversations that are far more memorable than say watching...my little pony, scoobie-doo, or spy-kids. This isn't the way God calls all families to respond to culture, but it is the way he calls ours. The important thing is for all of us to teach our kids about truth, lies, 1/2 truth, and 1/2 lies that saturate our media. And. To be gracious towards each other knowing that God has different convictions and callings for different people. I've been around long enough to see Christians demonize a lot of stuff:



  • power-rangers

  • rock and roll

  • U2
  • Telly-tubies [which one was gay...I can't remember]

  • the Matrix and even Constantine [I had a brief conversation with the protestors outside the theatre I watched it in]

  • and yes even the Smurphs...remember...there was a sorcerer

I wonder if CS Lewis hadn't been a famous Christian if everybody would have gone nuts about the white-witch etc. I'm sure if he was writing today he wouldn't be on a lot of thier interview shows.


I guess what I'm trying to say is DISCERN what is best for you and your core relationships. Me, I will keep showing my kids where culture accidently [providence?!] trips over God's truth, where they are obviously opposed to God, and where the gray is. [Chip and I looked through some Green Day lyrics yesterday and talked about them and God]


I want them sober, awake, and aware. "Be sober minded, your enemy the devil, prowls about seeking whom he may devour." Indeed, it's hard to be sober about what you know nothing about. So thanks Hollywood, for giving me some great eye-candy and object lessons to teach my kids about spirituality. The church can't afford the special effects, so I'm glad God sometimes hijacks tinsel-town for His own means and ends.

more than meets the eye


"I hope they stop 'hanging thier feet'"


This my friends is "Amy-speak."


You have to be fast on your feet, think quickly, be creative, to be able to understand it. You see, she mixes puns and metaphors a lot without knowing it. This was a combination of "hanging on" and "dragging thier feet." I cannot count how many of these she has invented, but there are lots. And when I can't figure them out I am usually silent because I don't wish to appear stupid. At times I wake up at 2am and finally figure them out.


also in "Amy-speak."


Amy apparently is a multi-pan-dimensional being. Therefore she may TOTALLY change conversation subjects [mid sentance more often than not] and not tell you...or warn you...or even clue you in when it is obvious you have no idea what is going on. Again, I am usually silent so as to not appear stupid. They say men think linear and women like a spiderweb. This is sort of like a spider, on meth, having bitten Keith Richards on the neck, while drinking thier 8th espresso of the day.


Amy-speak is the most challenging language I have ever studied. And like Ebonics it is always changing. But it is very creative, fun, and entertaining. Unless she is trying to tell you to do something, and you cannot understand it to save your life. Then she gets red in the face and angry and you wish you were never born and wonder if you can lock the garage from the inside because for all the prayers you have just prayed you cannot understand her or read her mind to save your life. And you really neeed to. To save your life.


But mostly it's just fun.

heat index today 102


oh
I
cannot
wait
to
leave!
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Heat index was 102 today in pergatory [texas]. I was in a sweatshop all day [the garage] and the good news it is 80% packed up and all the junk for the garage sale is on the front porch. As an added bonus I found a ton of missing tools and killed cockroaches with a baseball bat.
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[There he is, the fat 40 year old pastor dripping with sweat in his shorts chasing around cockroaches with a baseball bat...just the sort of thing I imagine Billy Graham doing all the time]
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Pack-rats should be shot on sight in season or out. Oh...that's me. Nevermind. I must have sweat off 10 pounds today, or the mosquitoes just took it with them.
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Also we took the truck in to get a new clutch, and Amy rented movies for the night. She and the girls are watching some chick flick [so obviously I'm blogging] and Chip and I will watch Ghost-Rider later.
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The house is 80% packed. Had 3 more people call about the house and 1 drive-by. Mandatory projects are pretty much done. Amy will probably be in pretty good shape when I leave next week tomorrow.
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Pray this place sells soon! We have a variety of back-up plans but none of them sound like a lot of fun, so I wish to avoid them. Although I did think about burning it to the ground twice today so it's probably good that I am leaving.
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Tomorrow I will get up early, fry a few eggs on the pavement for breakfast, and tell you more incredible stories and adventures in packing.

Sunday, June 17, 2007




I grew up on Marvel comic books in the 70's and 80's. My favorite 3 "heroes" were Daredevil, the Vision, and the Silver Surfer. All were loners, all were missunderstood, all had huge identity issues and all were thankless heroes. I didn't grow up reading the Bible so my ideas of heroism were cut-sliced-pieced together a different way than most Christians. Although, sadly, christianity, particularly Sunday School, in many ways defines even thier own heroes just as poorly.

what do I mean?

In Sunday school, the media as well as comic books and thier movies most heroes are defined by making a great choice in very harrowing circumstances. Moses at the red sea; the soldier who jumps on the grenade; the silver surfer betraying Galactus to save Earth. And yet, while these moments are impressive...they are a shallow view of heroism.

The Bible defines heroism differently if you really look long and hard at it, but offers some some similiar results. The Bible defines heroism as something earned and learned through the development of honor, courage, faith, righteousness, and goodness through the slow plodding path of experience and disciplines; trials and temptations; failures and success.

For example:

David learning to worship alone in the fields and learning to protect the sheep from bears and wolves over years. Sharpening his skill at throwing the stones...as well as learning to have the heart of a lion...and the faith of a saint.

Daniel choosing to live differently from those in Captivity around him, and thus maintain holiness-seperateness, and a deep connection to God that allowed him to hear God with unusual clarity.

Samson wasn't much of a hero at all in this light. He was someone who became a hero in many ways only in the last moments of his life when he finally got it right in one outstanding moment.
But Samson never would have had the character and courage to face the sort of path that Jeremiah had. It would have eaten him alive. He wasn't tough enough. Strong and courageous yes, but not tough. He was a compromiser, liar, and fell to temptation over and over again. He just couldn't take the beating, the traps, and the temptress. And if he had gotten the cards Job was dealt he would have curled up in a corner sucking his thumb crying for mommy.

Which is why I like the old Silver Surfer comics by Jack Kirby. The Surfer sacrifices himself to save his home world [a great event...but not very heroic, because it is based upon his selfish love of his girlfriend back there]. However when he comes to Earth and saves it, it is far more selfless. And as the comics unfold he keeps saving Earth even though the people of Earth always seem to missunderstand him and guess wrong about his motivations. But he keeps doing it. In fact in one of the 1st five comics he fight Satan, which is facinating to me in hindsight. The Silver Surfer ends up growing up into a hero...and that my friends...is pretty Biblical.

  • How many of us want to be heroes? Many of us if not most.


  • How many of us are willing to sacrifice, face the anvil, experience the pain, and be disciplined enough to become one? Far fewer.
Which is why I suppose there are so few heroes left; and why the TV show Heroes is so wildly popular...we get to cheer on heroes instead of having to be one.
Which always leads me back to the heroism of Christ. The Cross was an event like no other in terms of courage and sacrifice. But it is also the smaller moments which stand out. Saving the woman caught in adultry; saving the grooms parents from humiliation at the wedding feast; touching the woman at the well with His grace; all those little things adding up. Did they also grow Him up?
To be clear. Every major Bible character fails at something. This secures one great truth in the Bible. There is only one true hero, top to bottom, all the time...GOD!
So are my / our little things adding up? Will we be ready when God lights the stage for the big moments of sacrifice or courage? On Fathers day this gives me pause to remember the great responsibility I have as a Father and more. To be heroic, as well as the raise my children to be so.
Secretly I wish I could just be safe, and that I could keep them safe. But I can't, not really. But I can teach them to fight through adversity and the adversary by spending time on thier knees learning obedience. So that when the moment comes, that won't need to get ready, but will smile cooly because they are ready.
Amen God, may it be so.
For your glory, your story, and yours alone.


a new way of doing things


With Nehemiah, I am going to explore a new way of doing things. I don't know anybody else doing it quite like this, so I will ask for your patience and participation in it.


During the series I will blog about the message every day. I will be one week ahead of you so you will actually see the posts 1 week after I have completed the blogging. The blogging will share my insights, homework and personal application, and ideas about how to teach the principles.


I think it will look like this:



  • Sunday: Possible personal applications, accountability and small group studies from the sunday message

  • Monday: Prayer requests related to those applications

  • Tuesday: Ways to teach the principles to children

  • Wednesday: Insights on how it is going so far [Midrash] hopefully others will share what they have done and we can learn from each other

  • Thursday: How to handle the opposition of applying these things

  • Friday: Probably a re-cap from my journal entries for the week that I think might help

  • Saturday: Things that didn't make the sermon, but are good stuff. Resources that are available

This is tentative, and will be hard to pull off the 1st week while I am on the road. But this could be good. Really if you just check in on Sunday and Wednesday you should get some practical help moving this stuff forward in your life.

I'd love feedback on what you think about this...or ways to improve the idea [just click on comments, right below this post...when you put your cursor on it, it turns red...click and it will give you a box to write things in]


The 30 Life Principles [from C Stanley]


30 Life Principles (for print)


Principle #1Our intimacy with God – His highest priority for our lives – determines the impact of our lives. Learn more.
Principle #2Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him. Learn more.
Principle #3God’s Word is an immovable anchor in times of storm. Learn more.
Principle #4The awareness of God’s presence energizes us for our work. Learn more.
Principle #5God does not require us to understand His will, just obey it, even if it seems unreasonable. Learn more.
Principle #6You reap what you sow, more than you sow, and later than you sow. Learn more.
Principle #7The dark moments of our life will last only so long as is necessary for God to accomplish His purpose in us. Learn more.
Principle #8Fight all your battles on your knees and you win every time. Learn more.
Principle #9Trusting God means looking beyond what we can see to what God sees. Learn more.
Principle #10If necessary, God will move heaven and earth to show us His will. Learn more.
Principle #11God assumes full responsibility for our needs when we obey Him. Learn more.
Principle #12Peace with God is the fruit of oneness with God. Learn more.
Principle #13Listening to God is essential to walking with God. Learn more.
Principle #14God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him. Learn more.
Principle #15Brokenness is God’s requirement for maximum usefulness. Learn more.
Principle #16Whatever you acquire outside of God’s will eventually turns to ashes. Learn more.
Principle #17We stand tallest and strongest on our knees. Learn more.
Principle #18As children of a sovereign God, we are never victims of our circumstances. Learn more.
Principle #19Anything you hold too tightly, you will lose. Learn more.
Principle #20Disappointments are inevitable, discouragement is a choice. Learn more.
Principle #21Obedience always brings blessing. Learn more.
Principle #22To walk in the Spirit is to obey the initial promptings of the Spirit. Learn more.
Principle #23You can never out give God. Learn more.
Principle #24To live the Christian life is to allow Jesus to live His life in and through us. Learn more.
Principle #25God blesses us so that we might bless others. Learn more.
Principle #26Adversity is a bridge to a deeper relationship with God. Learn more.
Principle #27Prayer is life’s greatest time saver. Learn more.
Principle #28No Christian has ever been called to “go it alone” in his or her walk of faith. Learn more.
Principle #29We learn more in our valley experiences than on our mountaintops. Learn more.
Principle #30An eager anticipation of the Lord’s return keeps us living productively. Learn more.

Nehemiah...in 2 weeks


Why should you care about studying Nehemiah?


Because Nehemiah shows us what it is like for somebody to rebuild something that is badly broken or in fact devestated. The principles God fleshes out through Nehemiah's life are universal in impact and truth. So if you...or an unchurched friend have something to rebuild. This series will really help.


Some examples:



  • Rebuilding a relationship, family, or marriage

  • Rebuilding a career, calling, or vision

  • Rebuilding finances

  • Rebuilding hope and faith

  • Rebuilding your thought life or emotional landscape

  • Rebuilding what is most broken in your life...is God's speciality

Nehemiah can point you in the right direction...but as always with God's word...you will have to do the work in fleshing it out with God.


Who was Nehemiah?


Like a missionary or expatriot, Nehemiah was living in another culture, working in a position of responsibility there. He was cupbearer to the king sort of a low end-high priority secret service agent. When visitors arrived from his passport country, he asked about the folks back home and about the capitol city. However, much more important than his occupational title were his personal characteristics and disciplines. When he heard that the people back home were disgraced and the walls of the city were burned and broken, he cried hard, mourned, fasted, prayed, and planned. What he accomplished was spectacular.


He was or became:


Compassionate. He cried and grieved for other people.
Caring. He fasted, prayed, planned and took action, encouraging the people.
Committed. He got the job done, cared for his people, and was faithful to God.
Consistent. Even those he reprimanded could find nothing negative to say about him.
Courageous. He persevered in the face of threats, ridicule, and opposition from both the outside and inside.

Friday, June 15, 2007

God

I love you Jesus, and thanks for giving us a new church.

And I'm sad about you having to die on a cross.


Sweet and caring, when people are nice. I care about them.


Jesus is caring, he knows everyone, he talks to us in our minds...he will tell you what to do if it's right and will tell you if it's wrong. He will give you signs. He wants you to believe in him so you can go to heaven where it is peaceful. When you are there you will see if all the things are true about God. When he's around you like him and it's fun to be with him.


You know it won't be the devil if God is gving you a feeling about Him. So you better know where your fellings come from, if it is God or not.


You love Him because you know him and he is nice to you all the time. Believe in him and he will come to you and give you his love and hope to understand.


Give ALL your heart to Him. At least you'll know it's him when he comes to you in your mind. He loves you very much...always know that.




if you are unfamiliar with the Screwtape letters, they are fictional letters of a senior demon [Screwtape] to a lesser demon [Wormwood] about how to tempt and torture human beings. CS Lewis wrote it to help describe a practical understanding of evil and demons. I have highlighted my favorite part of this letter as it still effects me to this day:




PS: When Scewtape talks about the Enemy he means God and the Patient is the human under Wormwoods watch.




MY DEAR WORMWOOD,
So you "have great hopes that the patient's religious phase is dying away", have you? I always thought the Training College had gone to pieces since they put old Slubgob at the head of it, and now I am sure. Has no one ever told you about the law of Undulation?

Humans are amphibians—half spirit and half animal. (The Enemy's determination to produce such a revolting hybrid was one of the things that determined Our Father to withdraw his support from Him.) As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for to be in time means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation—the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks. If you had watched your patient carefully you would have seen this undulation in every department of his life—his interest in his work, his affection for his friends, his physical appetites, all go up and down. As long as he lives on earth periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty. The dryness and dulness through which your patient is now going are not, as you fondly suppose, your workmanship; they are merely a natural phenomenon which will do us no good unless you make a good use of it.

To decide what the best use of it is, you must ask what use the Enemy wants to make of it, and then do the opposite. Now it may surprise you to learn that in His efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He relies on the troughs even more than on the peaks; some of His special favourites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else. The reason is this. To us a human is primarily good; our aim is the absorption of its will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense. But the obedience which the Enemy demands of men is quite a different thing. One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is not (as one would gladly believe) mere propaganda, but an appalling truth. He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself—creatures, whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His. We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself: the Enemy wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct.

And that is where the troughs come in. You must have often wondered why the Enemy does not make more use of His power to be sensibly present to human souls in any degree He chooses and at any moment. But you now see that the Irresistible and the Indisputable are the two weapons which the very nature of His scheme forbids Him to use. Merely to over-ride a human will (as His felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for Him useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo. For His ignoble idea is to eat the cake and have it; the creatures are to be one with Him, but yet themselves; merely to cancel them, or assimilate them, will not serve. He is prepared to do a little overriding at the beginning. He will set them off with communications of His presence which, though faint, seem great to them, with emotional sweetness, and easy conquest over temptation. But He never allows this state of affairs to last long.
Sooner or later He withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all those supports and incentives. He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs—to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best. We can drag our patients along by continual tempting, because we design them only for the table, and the more their will is interfered with the better. He cannot "tempt" to virtue as we do to vice. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles. Do not be deceived, Wormwood.
Our cause is never more in danger, than when a human, no longer desiring, but intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.

But of course the troughs afford opportunities to our side also. Next week I will give you some hints on how to exploit them.

Your affectionate uncle


SCREWTAPE


I feel like God has given me a gift to see what others may become. Sometimes it's good and sometimes it's bad. It's good when I can see what God is doing in somebodies life; and bad when I can not really help people with what they are destined to do.


I am looking forward to helping others to make the right choice and to lead them on the right path.


I'm 2 weeks away.


Raining here today.


Me and the kids today have:


  • cleaned out and cleaned up the fridge

  • packed several boxes

  • put garage sale stuff on the porch

  • cleaned out another 2 rooms

  • taken garbage out

  • scrubbed floors by hand in kitchens and bath

  • some painting

  • dishes and laundry

Later on we will go get hitch put on truck...then maybe...a DVD rental or go to a movie


Family Maxim I learned from Mom and Dad: "You work before you play"


Which is funny, because in the last year I have taken a ton of standardized tests and interviews and they all said the same thing. "Play more!" Which is either proof they are all lazy weasels...or....more likely...I need to spend more time having fun.


Which is hard for me. And I know it's sin to not rest and experience joy. So pray for me about that. Hold me accountable I guess. I know Jesus wants me to enjoy life...there's just so much to do!


speaking of which. NO I haven't got the the garage yet. But I'm glad you asked. I really need to do that.


fruit inspection

The Bible talks a lot about our lives and churches producing fruit. What does this mean? Let me take a second to explain it, and then I will give you some perspectives on how this effects all of us as individuals and as a church.

We are all planting an orchard called "the kingdom of God" and in a sense we are all johnny-appleseed every moment of every day in the seeds we leave behind in other peoples lives through our words, attitudes, and actions.

Thus we have 2 impacts. One is our personal impact and legacy; and secondly what our corporate [group / church] impact and legacy will be.

Personal fruit the Bible talks about:

  1. Good works. While the New Testament makes it clear that these have no effect on our salvation, they do effect our standing before both men and God. Paul says that we are "predestined" to certain good works which may be a reference to our own personal life-purposes and destiny. But it also includes the basics of kindness, respect, and working hard for our boss. The reputation of all of Christianity is to be found in the good works of individuals. This is also the light-side of holiness. The Bible has lots of "do not..." but sometimes Christians focus far more on these negatives to avoid than on the things to pursue and embrace that God tells us to do. Widows, orphans, and those in prison must be served with love.
  2. Character. Sometimes called virtue which is the opposite of vice. This is the hidden fruit of internal ethics that only you and God really know about. The thoughts, attitude of the heart, and choices we make deep inside. Personality is what people see and character is that which lies beneith. Character is built bit by bit and forged through struggle and temptation and testing. And a persons true character is seen by all when placed under the pressure of circumstances. God tells us that our character is to be be godly...God-like. This is seen through virtues like longsuffering, patience, endurance, etc.

Group fruit the Bible talks about:

  1. In the Old Testament towns, families, cities, and nations are all told they will be judged as individuals and as groups for what they have done. In our American individualism it is hard to imagine this, but it remains in the book. Thus, Ashland, Ohio, and the USA will be judged as a unit as well as individuals in the future. This makes for interesting assessment of being green, foreign policy, etc.
  2. Churches will be judged for a variety of things as seen in the letters to the churches in revelation. These things include: being ashamed of Jesus in front of unvelievers or being courageous in evangelism; loving one another as brothers and sisters...or not; and standing up for truth or ignoring heresy [like the Nicolatians] Paul also says that church discipline is something to be done to keep people on the straight and narrow through tough love.

Interestingly there are also crowns given to individuals who produce specfic fruit through thier lives.

Thus we end up with some practical questions for all our lives. To answer these questions you need to be able to point to real-life experiences and not good-intentions.

  • What is my life-long life-purpose and am I aimed at developing it?
  • What good works am I doing in the lives of the unchurched? When was the last time an unchurched person felt you love them deeply in a practical way specifically because you were a jesus-follower!
  • Is my internal character a well kept garden or a sewer about to explode? What am I doing about it!
  • Is our church loving one another and am I doing this in a practical sense? When was the last time you gave money, stuff, dinner...some act of practical loving to a fellow believer as an individual!
  • Is our church telling people about Jesus or are we ashamed? Besides hoping vaguely that that magically come to church!
  • Is our church courageous enough to discipline one another and bring out the best in each other through tough love? When was the last time a mentor said "I love you enough to talk to you about..."
  • Are our children becoming 'religious' or missionaries? Are they mimicing church culture...or...experiencing God and expressing God!
  • Are our teenagers sucked into the matrix of Americana or are they becoming truely subversive and revolutionary by moving beyond hedonism and cynicism to dare to be holy and loving? Is church a stop-gap in hopes they will turn out ok or is it a training ground for eager explorers, artists, and leaders!
  • Are our Seminary students being prepared for a lifetime of service by what they learn from our church? Beyond school are we helping them get the experience they need.
  • Are the unchurched who come in contact with us pleasantly surprised by how fun, loving, joyful, hopeful, and good we are?
  • Are we serving the students at Ashland knowing this is a crucial time in thier lives? Are you gonna show up on move-in day and carry luggage for them...or not?
  • Are we on page with what God wants to do through us, or, are we searching for what God will do for us? This is the #1 problem with american christianity...the increasing assumption that God wants to serve us and the decreasing assumption that his followers are people who live to serve him.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

tunnel vision...my goals



Everyone usually wants to know what the leaders goal is. That way they can understand his decisions and decide where [or if] they should be onboard and online with that direction.

My goal is very simple:

"To turn unchurched consumers into self-sacrificing missionaries for the glory of God."

In order to do this a church must have 2 things that it does very well.

  1. Understand the various means that should be used to present the rescue-story of Jesus to people who don't know him or have missunderstood the message he has entrusted to his followers. A church must be highly skilled as missiologists [people that know how to pull off Jesus mission] and be willing to forego personal desires and ambitions in light of the much higher value of saving people literally from "burning buildings."
  2. Understand how to develop new believers into marine-missionaries. Every believer needs to be mentored and developed into the sort of missionary that God desires. Video/film-maker; blogging; lawn-mowing...missionaries. In order to become a missionary a believer must be fully discipled from a variety of sources and primarily by the Holy Spirit.

Thus my questions about every initiative will be again two-fold.

  1. How does this new thing which will require time and resources allign itself with the mission.
  2. Is this initiative balanced with the mission. IE Do we already have a lot of missionary building initiatives and not enough outreach initiatives.

My assumption has always been the following:

  • People develop best while moving in a direction of service, not by sitting around playing with concepts.
  • People have emotional balance because of worship and connection with God primarily, and with other believers secondarily. If people don't connect with God personally...no amount of fellowship will ever make things ok.
  • Having adventures with God builds internal momentum and creates an atmosphere of hope, expectation, and excitment. Waiting for someone else to lead an adventure is an abdication of connection to Jesus...your true leader who is always up for an adventure with you.
  • Little disciplines build character...character makes the big decisions and actions easy.
  • Nobody becomes a "saint" sitting around talking...it is thier actions that have defined them in history and in our Bibles.

These are general concepts. But they help you start to understand my thinking. A church should never be focused on or accepting of survival or personal or family happiness as a goal. It views itself as a missionary making headquarters for revolutionary world conquest through the love and revolutionary grace of Jesus.

Jesus is something EPIC and so are the lives of His children


Good morning, Christiandom. Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine- the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration, thereby those important events of the past usually associated with someone's death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, a celebration of a nice holiday, I thought we could mark this day as if it were Easter, a day that is sadly no longer remembered with much more than eggs and chocolate, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat. There are of course those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now, orders are being shouted, and demons with flaming arrows will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with christianity, isn't there? Legalism and Cowardice, Judgment and Apathy. And where once you had the passion to act, to think and speak as you felt led, you now have censors and systems of ministry coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. Gladiators have become consumers, and maryres are now mere materialists. How did this happen? Who's to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn't be? personal failure, satanic attacks, religious freaks. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now high chancellor, Satan. Oh you may not have known you turned to him in your compromising, but you did. He promised you happiness, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent. 2 thousand years ago Jesus sought to end that silence of slavery and conformity. He destroyed the Old Temple system, to remind his people of what they had forgotten. More than 2000 years ago our great God wished to embed the Cross forever in our memory. His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives and things which he paid for with his own blood. So if you've seen nothing, if the crimes of this age remain unknown to you then I would suggest you allow today to pass unmarked. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me with Christ...even today, outside the gates of Hell and in the streets of Ashland, and together we shall give them a church that shall never, ever be forgot.

Famous theologian quote

"When I get a little money I buy books; and if there is any left, I buy food and clothes."

Erasmus

and I have a picture with this quote in my library at the house

Theodore Roosevelt quote


"It is not the critic that counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement. And at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. "
thanks Nate

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I will be leaving in less than two weeks. WOW! I am leaving a decade of ministry here and going there.

This has given me some things to think about as I ask God what He wants to use and discard from my experiences here. And many things to think about as he re-fits me for Ashland.

As a pastor in dry-dock, the ole battleship has some repairs going and some things to be replaced and other things to carry forward.

The things I carry forward:

  • Pastoring is being as like Jesus as I can be in my own skin and personality. Nobody needs another performance or cliche.
  • Pastors help keep the MAIN thing the MAIN thing and make sure churches don't get swallowed up in details, distractions, or themselves.
  • Pastors are WAY more afraid of God than people.
  • Pastors are coaches and help saints become more like Jesus, and sinners to surrender thier lives to Jesus.
  • Pastors give up thier rights to a private life. Thier hearts expand to the size of thier flock and community.
  • Pastors don't have all the answers but know who does!
  • Pastors lead while limping.
  • Pastors multiply thier effectiveness and shepherding through discipleship.
  • Pastors are 1/3 of the equation for a churches health and destiny. The other 3rds are God's annointing and will and the people's willingness to follow.
  • Good pastors pray hard, study hard, and play hard.
  • Pastors take God and the mission very seriously...but don't take themselves very seriously.
  • Pastors understand that Satan is very real and has a very real effect in this world.
  • The pastors sermons are in many ways the rudder of the church ship.
  • Pastors must earn trust and respect just like everyone else.
  • Pastors are watchman on the wall and watchdogs in the yard.
  • Pastoring is a journey and not a destination.
  • Pastors help bring the kingdom of God out of the shadows and into reality.
  • Pastors stop sparks before they become fires.
  • Pastors read maps and know where they are going even if they don't know exactly how to get there at times.
  • Be preachable, teachable, and reachable.

This is some of what I do know. There is more to be sure, but because they were the 1st to come to mind I thought they would help.

The rest I am about to learn through you and God.


shopping


What a day. Shopping. I hate shopping, when I don't know much about what I am shopping for. But by the end of the day I know more about types of hitches, weight differentials, strap mountings, and a ton of other stuff than I ever wanted to know.


So here's the skinny. I will get a hitch put on the truck this Friday, and will be purchasing a trailer the following friday. I think this is the cheapest, best use of time, way to get me and my bike...home...to Ohio.


I can't wait to meet everybody, and start to connect faces with names [not my strong suit].


Things i WILL miss about shopping in Fort Worth:



  1. Salvaged food from "Town Talk" not as gruesome as it sounds. Dented cans etc that can't be sold by grocery stores. Marked about 90% off.

  2. 1/2 off 1/2 off. Factory returns on clothing. Again about 90% off everything. Almost nothing in the store is over 10 bucks.

  3. Craig's list for the metroplex: From tools to tillers the best way to get a deal on stuff.

  4. LEGAL Garbage-picking. You may laugh but I really have garbage picked about 75% of the furniture we have.

  5. The Tandy outlet and Fry's. Electronic Gizmo's at about 90% off retail. Slightly damaged...but nothing duct-tape and spray-paint can't fix.

  6. Free mulch after every major storm and tornado...provided by the highway and parks department.

  7. The FW city store. Stuff the city sells after it is done with it. I got a nifty pair of fire-fighter boots to wash the car in.

  8. Central market. Gormet food we can't afford...but...playground and free concerts every friday and saturday night outside.

  9. The Container store and Ikea. Anal Compulsive organizational mecca and temple.

  10. The salvage stockyards. Giant place with everything imaginable under the sun. Cars, bikes, fridge...just find it, take out your tools, remove it, and take it home.

There is a lot of horse-trading in Amy's family tree...and I think I have picked it up over the years.


Where are the deals in Ashland and the surrounding area...do tell

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

ok.
I'm a convert

he WAS fouled in the last 3 seconds outside the 3 point arc and should have gotten his shots.

now i'm mad at the sorano's and the NBA ref's

i guess i'm an official ohioan [sp?] now

hey....don't forget



Just a reminder that the Silent Auction to support the Youth Missions Team going to South Dakota is going on NOW at the Ministry Center!

You can stop by any night this week between 5:30-8:30pm to bid, check the status of your bid, or check out the great items! You can also bid online!! Click here, read the directions, and bid away!

On Friday we will host a "Burger Bash" at the Ministry Center to celebrate not only the culmination of the Silent Auction, but to celebrate a great week of VBS. Join us between 4-7pm for food, fun and final bids.

All winners will be announced Friday at 7pm. You don't have to be there to win! We'll make sure you get your stuff!

We are also selling raffle tickets for a 1 night stay in a Whirlpool Suite at the Holiday Inn Express AND a $35 gift certificate to Jake's Steakhouse. What a great father's day gift that would make!!!! Tickets are available at the Ministry Center all week for $2 each or 3 for $5. The drawing will take place Friday at 7pm!

Support the youth this week! The trip is coming up really soon and we still have about $2000 to raise! Help us get these kids to South Dakota!!!!!!

Blessings and Smiles,

Pastor Jaime


Jaime Parsons
Youth Pastor
Five Stones Community Church
jaime@5stones.org


While I don't watch every week I did at one point in time. And I am still fuming over the Soprano's finale. Chris Seay wrote a pretty good book a few years back called "The gospel according to Tony Soprano" or something like that. Anyways, this picture always makes me think of that.
It's funny, how much I can confuse people with a blog without intending to do so. I have used the term van and people have assumed I meant moving van when I intended to explain my own personal van. I have used the term truck with the same results.


I sure hope we don't all get as equally confused by the Bible, however I fear at times the same thing happens.


So


To be clear.


I will leave in about 2 weeks in my PERSONAL truck with my PERSONAL motorcycle and a few changes of clothes, a slew of books, maybe a desk and come to work. I will preach on July 1 for the 1st time as your pastor.


Amy will stay here with the kids until the house sells. Then she will get the house loaded and come up to ohio in her PERSONAL van.


I may or may not fly back at some time to either help load the MOVING van[s] or to smooch my much missed wife and children.


Whew. I hope I have made that clear [as mud probably].


I don't know where I will stay yet. Hospitality offers are numerous, but a park bench may be more adventuresome. Amy thinks I should set up a hammock in the ministry center and take showers at the YMCA which sounds great to me. [I am pretty low maintenance on these sort of things]. We'll see what God says...


We got the moving estimate today...which will be forwarded to ya-all tonight I suppose. Walked a few more people through the house...but no offers yet. Put in 2 more light fixtures, cleared out another bedroom and the hallway. 2 deadbolts fixed, hung a door, mowed and edged yard. We are probably 1/2 way on projects which means I am a little behind. I start on the dreaded garage tommorrow.


maybe

WWTSD [What would Tony Soprano do?]


Monday, June 11, 2007

1 Corinthians 13:4-8


1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Originally uploaded by lizziebee53
food for thought


Brook Shields quoting Plato in Rolling Stone interview:

When asked about the changes in her life while attending Yale university, she talked about taking an introduction to philosophy class that just stunned her with this quote from Plato:


"The unexamined life is not worth living"



This she said forced her to re-evaluate her life for the 1st time.


Then she bought the interviewer a copy of "mere Christianity" by CS Lewis, as they walked through a bookstore on the last day of thier interview.

I double dog dare you to...


Well my friends I supposed now is as good a time as any to ask you to think about inviting your UNCHURCHED friends to look at blog and think about visiting the church when the new gunslinger...er...preacher...er...whatever... comes to town.


This is part of your side of this maverick relationship.


Right now...pick 10 people that you know don't know Jesus yet. People who are friends and family that you love. People that God also loves and wants to be a part of thier lives.


Write them down.


Pray for them every day.


Serve them like Jesus would.


Love them in practical ways as an extention of the love of God [this is our job here]
And then...actually invite them to Church; listen to your story of rescue; your homegroup; etc.


This is the nature of the gospel-revolution. Love exploding and gushing forth on people from the fountainhead of the church and her people. Have fun, enjoy God, be creative, and take courage.


"you can do it!"

lakehouse




Lakehouse mission completed.
Experienced incredible lightning storm [even by Texas standards]; survived tube-test; caught Jonah size fish; and endured my cooking [cajun style] of the most charred hockey-puck hamburgers ever to face the hellfire and brimstone grilling of a former Baptist preacher.
Came home to lonely cats and dogs. Dog for his part spent his time guarding the house...cats scented a few choice areas with thier unique phermones.
again
Cats are EVIL!
Aloe Vera time. Talk to ya later

Friday, June 8, 2007


We are not going to be able to blog for a few days...probably. I am going to my sisters lakehouse for a little r and r.
3 weeks away!
I'm filling the ipod with travelling tunes. Radar-love, stuff like that. Any suggestions?



Friday...pay day.

What will the pastor say about cash? Nothing I want to hear probably. Obviously I should skip this blog entry.

Hmmmm

Why?

There are 2 indicator lights on the dashboard of our souls. And both of these tell us if we are in trouble or not.

1. Is the meter of how we spend our time
2. Is the gauge of how we spend our money

What does your cash guage say?

  1. Debt
  2. Mortgage
  3. Credit cards
  4. Stuff on e-bay I deeply covet
  5. Magazines and catalogues that promise to redecorate our flagging self-esteem
  6. Madison avenue executives who live as predatory stalkers trying to weasel you out of your cash by any means imaginable

Jesus number 1 topic was cash. Why? Because he viewed it as the number one competition for our trust and faith. Reading him talk about it in our consumeristic, materialistic, free-enterprise nation can be stout. But Jesus isn't afraid of us...in fact he wants to liberate us...of our cash.

So he tells the story of a widow giving what little she has in an unasuming sort of way.

He tells that God loves a joyful giver.

To show us something about trust and love. Cash = faith...love...trust? Ya, in many ways it does.

Secondly is the truth of stewardship. God owns everything and gives us responsibility to manage those things. In such a place we can either have religious fear or we can view ourselves as something else. Something spectacular.

Let me give you some cash stories from Mosaic, the church I planted.

  1. A guy who had never been to our church was with one of the elders of our church and talked about being a bike-courier downtown. It was a casual conversation WAY outside of church. He casually mentioned his bike was stolen the other day which threatened his job. So the elder came back and he prayed and our church bought a bike for a total stranger we had never met. That is the kingdom...some guy riding a miracle downtown.
  2. A girl in our church heard about the need for water-wells in Africa. They cost a couple thousand dollars to build. We didn't have all that cash so we had some art auctions and other stuff and built a well in Africa for a village we will never go to.

What's your vision for your cash? If it is all for you, then you will never become a happy investor in the kingdom.

Some good books:

  • A theology of material possessions by Gene Getz
  • The treasure principle by Randy Alcorn
  • The blessed life

When God says we will all be accountable for what we do here he doesn't have a scrooge metaphor in mind. He wants to look down and say...see that guy / girl...they built a well in Africa; they bought a bike for a guy who didn't know me; they took care of my servants; they invested in...

Only when the vision of God's posessions dominates our perspective are we really set free to trust him. Obligation, guilt, etc. these things never really capture our hearts and thus never dig very deep into our wallets.

This is one of the reasons I loved being a Baptist for a season. They really tithe. And because they tithe I got to go to Seminary for 1/2 price, land is purchased for new church plants in areas decades before people get there, and missionaries go on the field without having to beg for support. Thus 20 years later my giving has been tens of thousands of dollars. And candidly, I wish I had more to give.

because it's fun. Becaue it's part of a vision. Because it is the means God uses to change lives. And because it helps me make sure I am on page with God in terms of trust.

oh...does the pastor think about getting paid at 5 stones? You bet, but ultimately I am more interested in you being free and generous and joyful. God has always taken care of us and to be honest with you even if he didn't we would still get by. My family did a poverty simulation for a week in a city and begged for food and slept in boxes...it really wasn't that bad. In fact it was liberating to be free of our stuff for a while.

Proof that this is a big deal:

  1. This entry won't be read much
  2. This entry won't be finished much
  3. This entry will have spiritual warfare and defensiveness rise up in some people
  4. It probably won't get any comments, except from those that have the gift of giving or are mature in thier giving [and those people are almost always so humble they don't talk about it]

God's kingdom on earth is built out of a lot of things. Thoughts; attitudes; efforts; ideas...and believe it or not cash. And cash is often the last stronghold to fall in a life dedicated to God. And I am praying for that wall to fall in you...so that God can use those bricks to build the kingdom in other peoples lives.

And when you see your life help build anothers life...you will have all the motivation you will ever need.

And when you see Jesus spilling his blood willingly [for the joy set before him...YOUR salvation] you will know what to do.

Final story...true story. When we were homeless we met another homeless guy on the streets one day. He asked us how it was going, and he knew we were doing a 'simulation' through a ministry in the area. I told him 'not to good we haven't eaten today.' He smiled and said 'wait here.' He walked over to the KFC across the street and came back with a ton of food for us. I laughed and asked him 'so what was your line, man...it must have been a good one.' Then he said this.

and this is BURNED into my heart forever...because he knew we didn't really NEED the food

he said:

"I didn't use a line. I got up this morning and
walked to the hospital [8 miles across town] to sell my plasma for the month. So I had some cash. And I figure...if Jesus was willing to spill his blood for me I ought to be willing to spill some of mine for his children."

honest to God...that is what he said. I cry still thinking about it. I hope someday to be as mature with my possessions as that homeless person. He was BEAMING with joy that day.

God let that heart be in us. Amen

Thursday, June 7, 2007

incarnation


incarnation. Fancy word for Jesus was really a guy/ the God in the flesh who walked around with us and thus understands our world as it really is and feels.


thus said, I have had some people ask about the pics I put on the blog, how I relate to other churches, what I think of emergent christianity etc.


whew!


um, let me answer it sideways or perhaps in a socratic sort of way.


What should church look like?

What should christians [little christs] look like?


now that, and the answers we provide are the true test of maturity.


Rome, Corinth, Phillipi and other New Testament churches looked wildly diverse. Paul tried to standardize a few things but still had to address cultural differences and doctrinal diversity that went too far. All that to say I think there are a ton of good churches that look like all sorts of things. When I was a hedonistic convert who didn't know anything about holiness the hard-core fundamentalist church was exactly what I needed and God's will for my life. When I was transitioning from knowing about God to experiencing God the charismatic church was exactly what I needed. I don't think God has an either / or template for churches, He loves them all as his children. So I don't spend a whole lot of time evaluating them based upon where I am right now. Frankly, it's none of my business.


What I do focus on is what I am supposed to be right now. I have learned from postmodern churches; charismatic; seeker; baptist; methodist; and a slew of other things. That wasn't my plan...it was his.


So now I am trying to be incarnational to my generation. I want to enflesh Jesus to my culture as Jesus did to his...paul did to his...St Francis did to his...Billy Graham did to his...


So I have an earing to disarm people. I read fast-company to know what is going on. I am green because Genesis and the Law tells me to be so. I wear jeans and a t-shirt to preach because I believe that's what Jesus wants ME to do.


If I were 25 I might want to be hip in a shallow sort of way; but at 41 I want to be relevant and incarnational in a Jesus sort of way.


If you have never read "the Jesus I never Knew" by Phillip Yancy I highly recommend it. It is easy to forget how shocking, subversive, revolutionary, incindiary, and wildly unpredictable Jesus was. The traditional religious community was utterly offended and confused.


indeed


the religious community is probably the most likely to be confused about God.


I seek to end the confusion as best I can. By being me...trying to be more like Jesus every day. Odds are I won't bore people, but they may and have questioned my motivations.


Which is fine...this is starting to sound defensive and I'm really not defensive about it at all. All I am trying to say is: If you ever wonder why I am doing what I am doing the answer is this. "I'm trying to be more like my Jesus." Now I may screw it up royally, but trust 1 thing. My intentions were good.


incarnation. Such a simple and strange little christian word. But trying to live that word out, may be the most dangerous thing you could ever imagine. And living that out will be very different for different people with different cultures and missions.


which is why he gave us another word. A word for how he relates to us. A word for how we are COMMANDED to live with one another.


Grace

 

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