Wednesday, October 21, 2009

finding courage

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (New International Version)

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

Courage, or the need for it presumes fear. What then are we afraid of? And what is the effect of fear?

For me, i have a deep seated fear of failure. I flunked a lot in High School, and flunked out of my 1st 2 years of college. There are also a host of other failures all that seem to bundle together and whisper "you are failing" in your ministry, family, personal life, etc. Most of the time i can keep these "demons" at bay; but if you add enough exhaustion and pressure to the mix they are quickly at my throat.

When this happens i slip into paralysis and survival mode. I go through the motions, watch tv, and allow a slow and deadly creep of depression to wash over me. I start to believe i am a failure and no longer have the energy or motivation to try and fight again. Hope and joy look like a mirage and it is here that i find myself check-mated by fear.

in my story, there is where Christ steps unto the stage of my life over and over again to rescue me. When i am a little black sheep curled up in a fetal position of fear i am usually a long way from Christ. I never mean for this to happen, i just get too busy, too overwhelmed, and i even view pressure as coming from Him. Pressure to be moral, a good example, etc. Then, time slips through my hands and Bible study fades, prayer becomes perfunctory, worship stale, and in general i neglect my relationship with God to the point of apathy and avoidance. But HE doesn't! He waits patiently for me to run out of gas, for the pressure to become too much, for the emptiness to become overwhelming, and for the loneliness of my soul to finally provoke my awakening. And then finally I call out for rescue.

And then the good shepherd comes. I may being laying in the frozen rain, trapped in some thornbush but i can see his lantern as he slowly comes towards me. Sometimes i want to hide, but mostly i feel hope and expectation. I practice my apology [as the prodigal son did] but when His intimacy gets close i start to hear his voice and remember how foolish this is. And when i see his broad and loving smile-and he lifts me up with his warm hands and carries me on his strong back-i just cry and cry and cry. His presence alone brings back those three things listed in the scripture above. His presence brings encouragement and the light of his love, his perfect love, casts off the darkness of fear. And hope returns, good hope-not my hopes for success and meaning-but his hopes for love, compassion, grace, mercy, and renewal. And when He is close I again start to feel strong. Not 'my' strength, but his strength being renewed in me.

And this is where i find myself today. After about 8 weeks of woundedness. The news of my mothers cancer had just overwhelmed me in the midst of so many other pressures. For 8 weeks i slowly dissolved inside and fell into paralysis, fear, stagnation, and depression. Not that i couldn't function but i wasn't functioning in His strength, His encouragement, and His hope. But today i can feel Him carrying me again. I feel His presence healing and awakening me. His strength is pouring into me as our relationship has become "real" again and not just theoretical.

But this relationship is always 2 sided. And i must stay with Him. I must stay dependant upon Him. And I must guard my busyness and make time for Him and take my pressures and pains to Him.

May you given good hope...and be encouraged. By the One who gives these good gifts to His children and friends. And who rescues us...over...and...over again

Monday, October 5, 2009

Every Christian finds themselves on the threshold of deep passion from time to time. This passions is a seed of transformation that the Holy Spirit has often planted with a desire for change. We sense fully that something is very wrong, or something should really be made right; and at this place there are some deep choices that must be made or all will be lost.

pardon this adjust to scripture: from Matt 13

When anyone feels deep passionate conviction about the kingdom, Church, or Christ and does not integrate it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. It is trampled down because it is just a concept, mere idealism, wishful and noble thoughts. It must grow by becoming real in the person, then it can't be trampled on the path. In fact the path will have to work around this person because the idea has become so real, so big, and is producing so much fruit that it is unavoidable and unalterable. These are the intellectuals.

The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. This is the idealist who wants his passion without the pain of crucifying their flesh. They want a great marriage, or to worship deeply, or authentic community, or serving the poor...but don't want and are not willing to pay the price to actually do something about it. They talk big about it for a while, but it fades as their hypocrisy slowly drains adrenaline and they finally accept defeat from their lack of disciplines, sustainable actions. These are the emotionalists.

The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. These people hear the word, understand its implications and feel its need to be acted upon. But they are master craftsmen of excuses. They have rationalizations and excuses for everything they do and don't do. They are perpetual martyrs, whiners, complainers, and act defeated and doomed about everything. For them Christianity is a hope that can never actually be embraced. These are the compromisers.

The one who received the seed and showed it to everyone but never planted it in the ground and watered and pruned it is the braggart. These are the prophetic idealists who tell everyone what they should be doing but never do anything themselves. They accuse the Church but never transform the church by their example. The blow trumpets, write blogs, have passionate debates, and in general annoy people with things others should do but they don't do. These are the idealists.

the problem you see is two things. 1 the kind of soil you have [attitude, actions, etc] and 2 the kind of discipline you employ.

frankly it is easy to be idealistic, because it costs you nothing. It is fun to be prophetic, critical, and cynical in smug and self righteous and condescending ways. But to actually be an example and to allow that example to transform others is hard and patient work. It takes character and consistency. and who wants that?

thus we end up with two insufferable people:

1. the person who does nothing [for a variety of reasons] but annoys people with what THEY should be doing [even though they themselves don't]
2. the person who does something and slips into self-righteous, unbalanced, abrasive, condemning, legalistic, accusatory, and prideful wickedness [in the midst of doing something good]

what we need instead is a transition that looks like this:

a. feel conviction
b. look up what God's word says
c. pray about how God wants you to implement this in your life
d. implement it secretly
e. grow character and wisdom in this through consistency
f. invite others to join you
g. help them...others...the church...and the kingdom be transformed by your example
h. kill any self-righteousness, condemnation, or pride that as a weed grows alongside this good seed
i. maintain a humble, servant spirit
j. repeat with the next conviction and learn to balance these convictions with the whole of your life being ever more conformed to the image of Christ.

remember...the problem is never OUT THERE [in accusing others] it is always IN HERE [and in what you should be doing]

THUS the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."

do you want godly fruit to come from your passions...then look at this backwards

fruit will show up in big ways
but first it shows up in small ways
it's in you 1st, before it can be planted in others
it needs to actually be produced before fruit or anything else is possible
you must understand it and its implications

so wherever and whoever you are as a christian

PUT up, or shut UP [and candidly when you do PUT up...shut up anyways and be a servant example of Christlikeness]


nobody follows a critic, and critics never create revolutions, and critics live in crowds but die alone.
prophets can gather a crowd, but if you don't do anything it won't last long.
to know and not to do is to not know.
seeds don't win ribbons at the fair, fruit does.
talk is cheap, but actions are expensive
leaders earn the right to be heard through actions not rhetoric.

most transformation happens through example and encouragement...not theory and condemnation

that you want to see OUT THERE, must happen IN HERE 1st. we must BE the change we wish to see in the church.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Most Young Adults Think They are Spiritual: A survey conducted by LifeWay research indicates the vast majority of unchurched young adults consider themselves spiritual. This contrasts a view of young adults as uninterested in God or spiritual matters. 73% of 20-29 year olds said they think they are spiritual and want to learn more about "God or a higher supreme being." Among those 30 and over, that number is only 62%. 89% of 20-29 year olds said they would be open to a conversation about Christianity – 14% higher than those over 30 years old. 63% said they would attend church if it presented truth to them in a way that "relates to my life now." 58% said they would be more likely to attend if they felt the church "cared for them as a person."

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What happens when it all goes wrong. No, a non religious / reality based way, how do we respond to the great ripping and ravaging pain of life. It seems like people can turn to God or run away when the pain really goes deep. Is God of any practical help when your guts are totally kicked out and you and your faith are left mangled on the floor?

So there you are with your spouse burying your 1st child...and then you are standing with them looking over the ashes of your home with no insurance almost all of your personal assets liquified in flames...finally you send your wife and 4 daughters to visit family. They leave on a ship, which encounters a storm...and you get a text message that says...saved....alone... what would you do...what would faith mean? Can you stand in those shoes for just a minute and feel the sickening nausea fill you up. Your chest scream...tears break out and explode across your face. And your heart and mind start racing, and grieving, and searching for an answer...a reason...something to hold unto. and on the airplane flight out to be with your wife what would you be thinking, feeling...what would you tell her. This is what Horatio Spafford wrote...this was the comfort he gave his wife...this is what faith meant to him when his life was shattered.... this is a true story, from one of my brothers in my faith

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea-billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
"It is well, it is well with my soul."
Though Satan should buffet, tho' trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin - oh, the bliss of this glorious thought,
My sin - not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul.
And, Lord haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend,
"Even so" - it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Horatio G. Spafford was an attorney in Chicago during the year of 1874. He and his family were members of the Fullerton Avenue Presbyterian Church. Spafford and his wife had learned what it meant to completely trust God in every situation. First their only son died and then in 1871 most of their personal property were burned in the great Chicago fire. But their greatest testing came in 1874. Mrs. Spafford and their four daughters boarded the French ship "Villa de Havre" on their way to England. But just off the coast of Ireland the ship sank with 226 persons losing their lives. Horatio finally received a cable sent by his wife. It read "saved alone." As he traveled to England to comfort his wife, he was able again to gain his strength from God with the verse, "All things work together for good to them that love the Lord" (Rom 8:28) He then penned the words to our hymn "It Is Well with My Soul." (The tune was written by Phillip Bliss)

Monday, August 31, 2009

the death of christendom

i wanted to clarify my own thoughts on this, so here goes. christendom is a term that basically means that christian ideas and values at some point so saturate a culture that those things inform everything that is created, rejected, or continued in that culture. In my case, this is what happened in America from her inception till...i guess the 1960's or so. But christendom also can mean simply propping up old and discarded values in forms and functions that the culture and her people no longer really believe. in such a case christendom is nothing more than nostalgia and narcissism for conservatism. It becomes a currency for dialogue using things and words that no longer matter much like the fact of having "In God we trust" imprinted on money that we spend on pornography. In our culture we [the christians] often spend a lot of energy propping up the relics of christendom. We fight for the 10 commandments, prayer in school, marriage ammendments to the if forcing the form on other people would conform them to Christ. it doesn't. It simply makes Christianity appear to be another totalitarian cultural regime seeking dictatorship. Without a relationship with Christ, these are simply manipulation and pseudo-religious affiliations that are rammed down people's throats. The truth is, we have already lost the war for people's hearts, souls, paradigms, and perspectives. enslaving them to religious and moral constructs will do little to woo them to relationship with God. Christendom is doomed, and i for one am truly, truly happy. Why? It's obvious isn't it. or at least it is obvious to me. When we finally stop bombing people with our morality we may finally have the chance to love them. The sick need a doctor not smart-bombs, protests, legal-coalitions, and all the other weaponry we level at them. As archaic as leeching and electro-shock therapy is for the mentally ill, so are our techniques and tortures for this culture. Look at the middle-east, they hate us. We keep claiming we are liberating them as our bombs fall, our torture is rationalized, and our policies disrespect thier beliefs. The fact is: Christians are trying to water-board gays, abortionists, feminists, etc. "you only hurt the one you love," true...but confusing as hell for them. So then, finally we are running out of bombs and christendom can finally come to her fatal end. Amen. She has become such a religious prostitute of hypocrisy anyways. We are pimped out by politicians from both sides, and neither are indwelled by the fullness of Christ and his kingdom Gospel. At last the full wreckage will be revealed. Christendom in all her religious form and fury will be dead and paganism, humanism, mysticism, sensuality, science, etc. can reign supreme. And then, after the smoke has cleared we can finally get back to our business. Building the kingdom. Most of the church buildings will be gone or converted to art galleries and coffee houses. We will be 10% of the population or less. It will be like Rome in the time of Paul. And we will grow again of that i am sure. Because the death of christendom will purge the social, political, and other advantages of christianity from the church. Those who are left won't be televangelists. It will be unpopular, rare, and costly to be a Christian again. People will have to count the cost, because all the advantages [o this earth] will be removed. And what will win people over? The things we are supposed to be great at but have forgotten. We will again be great at trusting God and God alone as our everything. Not in some vague philosophical way, or emotive way...but in a substantial all-or-nothing way. God will again be our air and without him will will suffocate. And we will love again. We will desperately and death-defyingly love God and each other. And we will be great at suffering again. Prison, corrective thought facilities, all this and more will teach us how to smile, forgive, and die again. And the world...choking on the vomit of it's selfishness will see these people who are so disconnected to this world of lies, pleasure, and pointlessness and will be in awe. Like they used to be. Christians will look like st Francis again. They will walk and talk like st Patrick, Augustine, and others. Joy will again sustain us in our great pain. Our communities of love will shine like an oasis from heaven in the desert disaster of porn, disposable relationships, and empty romance and sexuality. Oh yes, the great hulking edifice of Christendom will totter topple and fall in a great flaming heap of ruins. And from those ancient and archaic ruins a seed will again be born. The seed of the true Church. The unstoppable force of God in this place. An irresistable revolution will be born-again. An impregnable fortress of joy, awe, and wonder will again have to be recond with. The Church will become the ark of truth, love, mercy, hope, and meaning in the great sea of insanity called humanity. Let's not call it a funeral, let's have a wake for the old girl. Her time came and went, and she lost herself in the living. But when she awakens on the other side she will be made new. And God knows she needs to be made new. Say something nice at her funeral, it's a lie, but say it's what people do. But even as she dies, she is giving birth to a daughter who will live on. She will live on thankfully NOT knowing her mother. But her Father...her husband [Christ] and the Spirit will make her great. Her freshness will fill the world with laughter and light. Go oh Christendom, go away...and come Church, come and be born-again. The world needs you. The world will want you. The world will kill you. And you will forgive the world and go home to God. And the world will see this, and repent.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

missional sanctification


As the stories of our lives intersect, there are transformations that take place. This is a story of transformation, but not in the way that you might suspect.

The word “missional” gets kicked around a lot these days. Mostly it becomes a covert word for evangelism through social justice, altruism, or servanthood. Missional is rarely talked about as sanctification or incarnation or discipleship. But I suggest that missional living has two primary impact points. One is the effect that God has on the world through his people, and the second is the impact these moments have on God’s people when they are with God in his missions to the world. We want to be a church people that are moving into the world in such a way as to bless it, love it, rescue it, and transform it.

At 5 stones community church we are just exploring what it means to be missional. We have formed a leadership team to do this; reallocated a lot of our budget in this direction; and begun to search the scriptures to see how we can join God in his ongoing mission to the world.

Enter a phone call. On the other end of this phone call is a man who has lost his job, has no place to live, and a wife that is overwhelmed. There are drugs, alcohol abuse, and a huge warehouse of negative history for a couple that have lived most of their lives outside of Gods will and ways.

The phone is picked up and a church responds to this story with as many resources as can be found and bought. Rent on a new house is paid, furniture and clothes found, appliances purchased. And two people who know God enter into the lives of two who do not.

At first this story heads in the romantic direction we all so wish it would. The couple attends church services, begins to make friends there, and tries to kick the bad habits that they know have been destroying and enslaving their lives. Christ seems to be pressing into them with his transformational love, and they seem to be responding.

But then there is a fight, the loss of another job, and another night of binge drinking. Followed by promises of repentance and reform.

And those that have been investing in them don’t know what to do. They pray, they call, they visit…but the more they reach out the more it seems like this couple is slipping through their fingers. Finally after weeks of unreturned phone calls one of them visits church, and tells of the affair-the drugs-and the divorce papers being filed.

And this is where the heartbreak of being missional begins. At the juncture where romantic ideas about spirituality crumble and we are faced with the stinging truth that peoples lives are never clichés. Here is the fork in the road for Gods people, and here is the place of deep sanctification. For in this place we must be transformed the most deeply or we will exit the mission of God.

First of all we must stop trying to figure out who is to blame. When things go awry from our expectations we usually look for a source to assign guilt to. Sometimes we stand like a prophet on the wall and blame God; sometimes we blame those we are reaching out to; and often we blame ourselves. But if we stop blaming and start really feeling we can be transformed. Because if we would be missional and Christlike we must be called into his heartbreak for the world. To allow the worlds rebellion and lostness to shatter our hearts as Gods heart has been shattered. To sit with Jesus and watch the rich young ruler walk away, and to weep over a Jerusalem that will not come home. And when we let this heartbreak form in us, and we take it to our heartbroken God he can then fill us with his compassion, long-suffering, and faithfulness. Missional heartbreak opens the door for our hearts to be ravaged and transformed into the very heart of God.

Secondly we must become resilient. Jesus warns us that we will be battered, rejected, imprisoned, etc. and yet we often act emotionally surprised when these things actually happen. We say things like “I’m just not called to this; it’s too hard; or I guess this doesn’t work.” If we aren’t wise we will quickly stuff our pain and frustration into a simplistic and convenient excuse jar and reference it every time we feel called to again engage in the rescue of a dangerous world. But Jesus experienced the same thing. In some places he was rejected, in others no faith meant no miracles could be performed, and at other times his own disciples didn’t understand what he was saying. But Jesus always saw the “joy set before him” and understood the magnitude of the mission. The event or relationship before us is microscopic not macroscopic. We must like Jesus set our eyes on the prize not the person in front of us. Missional living is not an experiment it is a mandate; it is not a moment it is a lifestyle; and it is not about momentum but about obedience. We must learn to be a tougher and more resilient people, a people of tenacity and training. We must learn to deny ourselves, pick up our crosses, and follow Jesus as he leads us.

Third, and lastly, we must grow our interior world so that from it we can have the energy and resources for the mission before us. The immature disciple is still looking for some external event that will provide the motivation and momentum necessary to live the Christian life. They read books, attend worship events, and plug themselves into as many things as they can to acquire passion, focus, or intentionality. But the missional person must ultimately be a mystic. Because the world they are called to minister to is so dark and twisted they dare not find their courage and resolve in what happens “out there.” They must instead be focused on what happens “in here” and work their life…words…actions…thoughts…feelings…etc out from a deep and vitally vibrant relationship with God. In particular the God who has indwelt us with His Spirit. The missional community and a missional people are not naïve nor are they negligent. They have a high view of God and find pleasure in serving Him by serving others. They engage the world anticipating it might change, but are more expectant about the fact that they themselves will change. And it is in this fact that they take refuge and find rest, because he who is within them is greater than anything that is outside them. A person and a people that are spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually mature on the inside can face anything. This is what we had when we lived in the age of the martyrs and it is to this way of existing that we must return.

So is this a happy story? Does this have a happy ending? That my friends, depends on you. If heartbreak, tenacity, and mysticism are things to be avoided than this is a gloomy fable of tragedy. But if the experience of formational empathy, the discipline of resilience, and the call to a contemplative life are to be embraced then this is a narrative of epic adventure.

As Christendom dies in America the people of God will have to be transformed. Our lives, our morality, our politics, our church services have become so much rust and dust to the world around us. But from these ashes we are finding the true embers that lie beneath the rubble. The everlasting echoes from eternity that calls us into Gods deep and transformational love. And when we traverse into this love and are saturated with it, we are then unleashed by God to lavish the world with this love. And love is the backbone of the missional movement. God’s love residing in us being given freely to the world. This is revolutionary. And while Christendom may or may not ever be rebuilt in America, our goal is not to try and force this to happen. Our goals are simpler. To be a person of revolutionary love, amidst a people of revolutionary love, serving a world that is lost without love.

And the story I told you of is not over. The biography of those lives are still being written. Redemption is still within reach and restoration may yet happen. And our faithfulness and obedience have something yet to say on the chapters that have yet to be written. But for the two at our church who have embraced this call, their biographies have been forever changed. And the spiritual formation in them has been profound and painful. But I believe they would smile at you from a deep-deep place of intimacy with God, and they say “join us.”

Sunday, June 21, 2009



chip addicted to waverunner
girls speedboating and on the tube
Amy tanning and cooking


nuff said

Monday, June 8, 2009

Blog post:

Churches united. Ya….right. That will be a cold day in ____.

As a person raised outside of faith I used to wonder why there where so many churches? Why did God do this, or as I was more likely to believe, why did God’s church splinter into so many freaky cults that were always at each others throats? Church folk, as I have found, can be an acquired taste. But I have learned to love and like church people…mostly because Jesus has showed me how. Plus, he loves me…and candidly I am not very lovable at times.

And yet, perhaps it’s not as simple as cynicism always seems to be. What if the diversity of churches was more like the diversity of flowers God has created? What if the beauty of the world-wide church is the diversity? Each accomplishing something beautiful and unique? Variety is the spice of life. And some churches are just a little more spicy and differently seasoned than others.

And most likely, what if there is some truth in both concepts? And what if the churches awoke to this and spent time with one another? Perhaps, just perhaps then the world would see something they long to see. God in us, through us, with us…merging and melting into each other in love. Just like the beauty of a botanical garden. Our distinctive colors remaining intact, but our diversity celebrated instead of condemned. A jambalaya of sorts, with Jesus being the one non-negotiable ingredient.

This then is our dream. To build a unity between the Ashland churches. Where the unity of our love in the person of Christ becomes a singular beacon of hope to all. A single light, seen through a prism of churches, movements, and denominations.

And our hope is that this love will be what Christ promised. “proof that we are His disciples.” The proof is in the pudding they say, and we are pudding together a unity service for any and all Ashland churches July 26th at the High School football stadium.

Come join the laughter, loving, learning, and life of the CHURCH in Ashland.

There might even be a frost that morning somewhere.

David Sherwood lead pastor 5 stones community church.

Friday, May 29, 2009

re-defining success

Metric mania

Or…how does a church, ministry, or leader define “success?” What should we measure and evaluate to define impact?
Let me give you few things to chew on:

The Old Paradigm: most pastors and church leaders would define success from the following measurable quantities

1. Church attendance, membership, small groups, Sunday school
2. Baptisms, conversions, re-dedications
3. Money that came into the church

Notice how much this looks like a business model. It presumes we have products and services to offer and if they are “purchased” we are successful. The challenge of this is…how well would Jesus ministry be defines with this criterion?

quote from CG at swerve: "I was trapped in this for years, my emotions rode the roller coaster of attendance. After a strong week of attendance I felt good about myself and life. After a bad week of attendance, I felt like the world was crashing down around me." The same with budget, baptisms, etc.

Over the last 6 years I have looked at different criterion. The criterion I see God using in His word when talking with His servants.

These include:

§ How many can we bring in AND then disciple AND send into our communities to serve?

In other words Bringing people in matters…but so does Sending them out
5 stones is not doing great at bringing them in yet…nor are we great at discipling yet…but…we are getting much better at sending people out [Spain trip, Missional rev, VBS, etc]

How much money can we bring in AND then send out into the world to build the invisible Kingdom and transform people’s lives in tangible ways?

5 stones is dead-on-target with doing this pretty well. We are becoming a generous church. We no longer hoard money but give it to the denomination, the community, 5th Sundays, etc.]

How much love can we show God AND each other AND the world

In other words the attendance doesn’t matter so much as the attitude of those attending. How can we really love God in worship? Obey his word? And integrate His love for us into a love for one another and the world? How transformed are we by His love?

§ How many can we give AND send to help start new churches?

We are actively working to be a training church for seminary students who want to do this, and we will walk deeper and deeper into this in the coming years
How many Conversations with the world can we have instead of Converts?

IE: The means to salvations are relationships with the unchurched people of the world. Just trying to “convert” them is manipulative and annoying. Instead we should be looking for open doors to serve them and have compelling conversations with them about the substance of our lives. Being Missional w/o relationship is like being a used-car salesman. Instead of that we want to really love people no matter what, no matter how long it takes, no matter the results. And we trust, that love…over time…will transform others just as it has and continues to transform us.

Leaders being obedient to their call…no matter what others do or don’t do

IE: Jeremiah was alone and everyone thought he was nuts, Moses had whinners lining up around the block to complain, and Jesus watched many walk away when he said hard stuff. But when this happens to us we either blame ourselves or blame them…which is a waste of emotional energy and accomplishes nothing. Often leaders define success in weird ways but they need to define their obedience as something that brings glory to God, is the right example, and is worthy of testimony no matter what others think or do. Leaders lead…but also sometimes walk VERY, VERY alone. And in these places the leader must remember that part of the “success” God is looking for is INSIDE you and not OUTSIDE. IT is your character and Christ-likeness that is being defined and developed. Success sometimes is a long, hard, lonely obedience in the same direction. Noah understood this. Biblical success is always intertwinned in suffering and sacrifice. But in this you are NEVER alone.

What other things should we be looking to measure to redefine success in a more Biblical way?


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Extreme ecclesiology and campus ministry: “Church why bother?”


Do college students need to attend a “church?” Especially if they are already involved in campus ministry.

As someone up to my ears in this reality, I would like to make a few theological, practical, and observational points. I will break these out of the following outline:

1. The ecclesiology extremes
a. Barna’s “revolutionaries.” A very fluid understanding of ecclesiology
b. Monastic local churches. A very brittle, enclosed, and isolationist approach.
c. Searching for a balance of church, kingdom, and Church.
2. Fear factors
a. What “para-church” campus organizations fear?
b. What “local churches” fear?
3. Pure and impure desires
a. Impure
i. Numbers and vanity in leadership
ii. College students as cliché’s of energy, perception, and free labor
iii. Rationalizing what “church” is in order to do what we want to do
b. Pure
i. Serve college students
ii. Missional impact to college students
iii. Opportunities for use of spiritual and servant gifts of college students
iv. Mentoring and Discipling college students
v. Getting college students ready for their next “ecclesiological” experience
4. 3rd paradigm possibilities

Prelude to dialogue:

Church or the concept of church seems to be the focal point of many arguments these days. Is church useless; is church just me and my believer friends; is church a building or attendance on Sunday mornings? These questions and many more populate the blogs, books, rants, and questions of students and those he seek to minister to them. An ongoing challenge seems to be that very few people start with a definition of what “church” is. What did Christ intend when he said he would build it? What did Paul and the apostles actually build? While I don’t have time for that dissertation let me say a few obvious things. These are “backbones” of general orthodoxy and not worth arguing over. They are easily proved by a cursory look at the plain teaching of scripture.

1. The Church is both universal [all believers everywhere] and local. IE: It is Glocal.
2. The Church exists to continue the ministry of Jesus. This includes the gospel; the kingdom; healing; social justice; teaching; morality; worship; miracles; etc. IE: it is missional
3. The Church has a structure. Jesus is the cornerstone; saints and apostles the foundation; Pastors; elders; deacons; etc. IE: There is ‘some’ structure to the relationships and these relationships have different leadership mandates and authority. And leadership and authority imply that there will be followers. IE: No loose cannons
4. The Church has a relational imperative. The gifts of church members are for building up, healing, teaching, maturing….each other. IE: Everyone is a contributor and Everyone is a consumer while everyone constructs the “Church.” It is both organic [relationships] and organization [systems, goals, and structures]
5. The Church is constructed with the principles, precepts, and promises of Gods word. Thus we cannot make the word “church” into whatever we want it to be. It is an idea and a living organism designed by God. Therefore we will attempt to build, plant, or rebuild the church always within sight of the obvious blueprints of scripture. IE: Church isn’t just one local assembly, and it isn’t a coach-a few friends-and a dialogue or social justice intervention. IE: He tells us what Church is; we don’t tell Him what “church” we want.

The ecclesiology extremes

In the book “revolutionaries” by George Barna the interviewed people had all abandoned institutional church for a variety of reasons. The veracity of their critiques I will applaud as probably very accurate. However, unlike the apostle Paul [who saw the same problems and more] they have chosen to abandon any form of church instead of focusing on constructing her. Barna never puts in play a comprehensive theology of what the church is, and thus panders to critiques that are to be expected from young idealists. Thus instead of asking “what does Jesus desire the church and me to be,” the reader is left instead to ask “what do I enjoy and want to do for Jesus?” Thus fellowship becomes blogging and slumming with Christian friends, deep involvement in social justice without the gospel being told, and a variety of other things that really look nice but are probably masquerading to some degree a deep seated spiritual selfishness. We become the primary authority over our own lives; we engage what we want, when we want, how we want; in short we get to be single and not enter into married life. Married life being in this case the family of the church. The messy, awkward, weird, fun, hilarious, etc life of the church. Having read probably 10 books and countless articles along these lines over the last decade I simply find this sad, blind, and stupid. The obvious and complete lack of biblical credibility for this seems not worth mentioning. Except for the fact that this position is gaining numbers exponentially and is in my mind a very real threat to the orthodoxy and orthopraxis of the church.

Monastic local churches

On the other extreme are the monastic churches that often believe every reference in the Bible to “church” means a local assembly. This is simply untrue and bad exegesis and theology. These churches believe everything in the church should be attended by everyone in the church family. Outside events, kingdom events, other churches are viewed with either suspicion or downright hostility. In these situations there is no connection between churches, all authority rests in the local governance of the church, and they often see themselves as the final outpost and remnant of orthodoxy. The message is “join us, do everything with us, hide from the world, and hope they join our freakish little cult.”

Searching for a balance of church, kingdom, and Church.

Any church situation needs to begin with some sort of general biblical definition that includes all the exemplary data, commandments, and obvious instructions.

Thus we must maintain balance and avoid the extremes. In other words Jesus didn’t say to the apostles “I am the CEO and I am creating VP positions for each of you. One will be social justice, one will be intentional community, one will be teaching…” Instead he appointed apostles and believers to make disciples that would then build churches [the Church] that would then integrate with one another and affect the world by building the Tangible Kingdom within it. This balance makes is akin to the family unit [the church] being the backbone of civilization [the Church]. Without this we end up splintered and fractured, or to put it another way without healthy local churches [families] we end up with either a highly dysfunctional civilization [see headlines on any given day] or we end up with a “Children of men” scenario where there are no children to populate the future.

This affects the average college student in a very real way. They [as we all do] need a balance of:

1. A fluid ecclesiology of peer relationships. A parachurch ministry at a campus can provide this, and give them natural and organic experiences and relationships to nurture and support one another. But this fluidity needs to be connected to something more.
2. A firm ecclesiology of hierarchical relationships. A local church where they can be mentored, serve one another through their spiritual gifts, be under authority, and be preparing for the fact that this is the last train-station for peer based / generational ministry.
3. A fortress ecclesiology of kingdom relationships. The Global Church connection where they can be a part of affecting the world-wide revolution of Christ. This includes mission trips, support for ministries world-wide, intercessory prayer, etc.

Without this balance they are prey to extreme autonomy; life without protective authority; a lack of family support; unhealthy focus on self spiritual pleasures; inability to enter a generationally diverse ecclesiology; stifling of spiritual gifts…and in general an indulgence of selfishness. And while America has turned college into a rebellious rite-of-passage against parental authority figures…anarchy will not be a reality-based option after they graduate. This delusion has isolated many college students and left them as easy prey for the enemy both at college and immediately afterwards.

Fear factors
What “para-church” campus organizations fear?

Most “para-church” organizations actively support local churches. However they have several fears about them that are mostly valid. These include:
1. Local churches just want free “labor” at their church.
2. Local churches will try to pull students out of involvement with us, and into them.
3. Local churches just want to use students as props of energy and momentum
4. Local churches fear they are getting old and want to “see” some young folks so they can feel better about themselves
5. Etc.

What “local churches” fear?

Most “local churches” want to support para-church ministries, except that:
1. “real” ministry is in the local church
2. “real” church is only the local church
3. Para-churches remind them of the fact that they are irrelevant and they secretly are annoyed at their own failures and displace blame on others.
4. Para-churches often don’t support their distinctive: Calvinism, Charismaticism, …ism’s galore etc.

Pure and impure desires
a. Impurity in the local church
i. Numbers and vanity in leadership IE: the numbers in attendance make me “feel” better about ‘my’ church.
ii. College students as cliché’s of energy, perception, and free labor. IE: “those college kids should run the youth ministry.”
iii. Rationalizing what “church” is in order to do what we want to do.
b. Purity in the local church
i. Serve college students
ii. Missional impact to college students
iii. Opportunities for use of spiritual and servant gifts of college students
iv. Mentoring and Discipling college students
v. Getting college students ready for their next “ecclesiological” experience

3rd paradigm possibilities

It seems to me that there are endless possibilities to facing these challenges creativity. This I will list some sketches which are meant to be erased and redrawn in various situations. They are neither exhaustive nor authoritative. They are ecclesiological dreams.

1. Local churches teaming-up with kingdom para-churches on local campuses. In order to do this:
a. Local churches need to support these groups financially, with deep relational resources invested, and with submission to the relevance of the missional approaches they use.
b. Para-churches need to support local churches by interlocking their programming with churches when possible. IE: don’t do so much programming that there is no room for local or global church involvement.
2. College ministries need to teach ecclesiology to college students in the generalities of the paradigms I have listed above. Most focus on missional, moral, or experiential agendas. They will need to broaden this if they wish for balance in the present and survivability in the future for their college students spirituality.
3. Deference for the sake of unity needs to become orthodoxy in these matters. College students are not clichés, toys, or objects of desire. They are God’s children and deserving of respect, foot-washing, love, care, etc. They are highly at risk in this developmental timeframe and “mom [para-church] and dad [local church] squabbling and getting a divorce, doesn’t help them. In fact this lack of stability and integration may be one of the reasons they are so at-risk to start with.
4. Local churches need to broaden their ecclesiology and para-churches need to narrow theirs. Both need a theology of kingdom to unite and bind them together.
5. We need models of this being initiated, evolved, and adjusted so that we can learn from one another. This is what 5 stones community church is attempting to do.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The 5 D’s of Leadership [modified from swerve blog for our context]

Years ago I did a study of Joseph. On his way to God’s ultimate plan, Joseph (as well as many other leaders) experienced five specific phases on the road to his destiny.

This week we’ll talk about the four phases (or D’s) most leaders experience.
The first phase is the dream. Your destination needs to align with God’s destiny for your life
Long before he had any credibility with others, God gave Joseph a dream.
It is noteworthy that those closest to him didn’t like or understand his dream. In fact, Joseph’s dream of future leadership incensed his brothers.
How do you uncover your dream, burden, or passion? It helps to wrestle with these statements and fill in the blanks.

I’ve always wanted to _________________________________.I believe I was created to _______________________________.
My deepest passion is _________________________________.
I’ve never told anyone _________________________________.
I’ll regret this if I don’t try ______________________________.

Maybe God has planted a dream in your heart to do children’s ministry or youth, or to fund water wells for those without clean drinking water, or to disciple 12 underprivileged kids, or to write new intimate worship songs, or to create Christian movies for children, or to find a cure for AIDS, or something else.

When God gives you a dream, don’t be devastated if everyone around you doesn’t understand. Every leader is first “alone” with the dream. It starts in our private place with God and goes public in God’s timing.

The Living Bible translates Eph. 3:20 like this, “God is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of –infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.”

If God gives you a dream, remember, He is able to bring it about.
What are you dreaming about?

The Second “D”
To pursue your dream, at some point, you’ll likely have to take an aggressive step. Phase two is to make the decision to pursue your dream.
This sounds easier than it is.

A friend of mine who occasionally flies a small plane recreationally once described to me the point of no return on takeoffs. He explained that on the runway, there comes a point that the pilot must be absolutely committed to takeoff. If the pilot isn’t committed at full throttle, he’ll run out of runway and won’t get the plane off the ground.
The same is true of the dream. At some point, you’ll have to make a faith decision.
Your faith decision could be as bold as leaving a job or moving your family to another country. Or it could be as simple as going public with your dream, starting to raise money, or forming a 501c-3.
No matter what the decision, to step toward your destiny will often require a daring step away from your security. In other words, if you want to walk on water, you’re going to have to get out of the boat.
Remember, it is impossible to please God without faith.
When did you make a big faith decision toward your dream? Or… Do you have a decision to make?

The Third “D”
If you seek Him, God will likely give you a dream or a burden. Once you know you’ve heard from Him, you’ll need to make a decision of commitment to the dream.
The third “D” is not much fun. Not every leader must endure phase 3, but most do. The third “D” is the delay.
Joseph had a dream. After going public with his dream, his brothers roughed him up and sold him into slavery. After being falsely accused, our hero ended up doing jail time.
It appeared that his dream would never come to pass. But a careful reading of scripture shows that God was with him each step of the way.
Someone said, “God’s delays are not God’s denials.”
You may feel like your dream is on hold. God may be doing something in you during the delay to prepare you for what God will do through you.
If you are in a season of delay, let the Living Bible’s version of Hab 2:3 speak to you. It reads, “These things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day.”

The Fourth “D”
If you serve God, Satan will be upset. He will send everything at you to get you off-page with God’s destiny for your life.
The fourth “D” is the crucified life, a life of sacrifices and pain. The fourth D determines the strength you will need for your destination. This “D” will drive you into deeper dependence on God. The fruit of this dependence will be increased determination. The Fourth “D” is the discouragement and determination
Joseph had to endure accusations, and injustice. He was betrayed and hated. People guessed wrong at his motivations and character. And Joseph was at times surrounded by selfish and self-serving people. He could choose bitterness or grace; hope or hopelessness; faith or feelings of failure. But Joseph as a slave or in prison always did the best he could with what he had, where he was. Discouragement teaches us resilience on the anvil of pain.
If you are in a season of discouragement remember these promises and principles:
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 1 Peter 4:12 [ Suffering for Being a Christian ] Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.

The Fifth “D”
God gave Joseph a dream. Even as a very young man, Joseph made a decision to go public with his dream—even though he only faced resistance. If he experienced one step forward, he immediately fell two steps back with unfair treatment and false accusations.
Like many others, he had a dream, made a decision, and experienced a delay before reaching what some would call the final “D”—his destiny. God elevated Joseph to second in charge over all of Egypt.
Some might look at Joseph ruling like they do at other great leaders. People often say, “They are an overnight success.”
In reality, there is no such thing. When God blesses you with what others call your destiny, you’ll know God was with you each painful and grueling step of the way.
Like with Joseph:

§ He was with you when he gave you the dream.
§ He was with you when you made a decision of faith.
§ He was with you in divine delays.
§ He used discouragement to refine your determination

Because He’s been with you every step of the way, you won’t forget Him when you are living your dream. And even if you never get to experience your greatest dreams, He will be still with you.

Ultimately, that’s what matters most.

Friday, May 1, 2009

We are growing as a church. Slowly numerically, good growth financially, spiritually, biblical literacy, missionally…but we also need to grow prayerfully.

It is part of becoming a “sticky” church. Get used to the term, you will hear a lot about it in the coming year.

A sticky church sticks together, and people that come into contact with it want to be stuck to it. A sticky church worships together; plays together; serves together; laughs and cries together and prays together.

Praying together allows our hearts to hear one another and enter into deeper community. It grows our empathy; it ignites our passions; and it teaches us about one another. Public prayer has more than one audience. It is aimed at God, but it also splashes over each other. We hear hopes, wounds, confessions, dreams…and knowing these things about each other helps us to become a deep community. Vulnerability and transparency heal wounds; bind hearts; and draw us into one another.

Thus this Sunday night we will enter our prayer summit with these expectations.

And we will have a rhythm. The rhythm goes like this:

1. Adoration:
a. We will have a time to worship God and thank him for who he is; all he has done; and all he is doing and will do through and with us. Our voices become songs which are prayers.
2. Confession:
a. We will have a time for you to ask God to forgive you. Both of the things you have failed to do as well as have done wrong. This includes our failures as church leaders, missional ambassadors, evangelists, etc. Failure is a NORMATIVE part of the Christian experience of yearning towards and never reaching perfection. Forgiveness and Grace fill us with hope, even as confession empties the burdens of our guilt and shame. Confession is just a healthy short-accounts apology. It helps us be responsible, and pulls us out of the delusions of excuses and rationalization. Confession is always the first step towards true joy, though it seems to be headed in the opposite direction. Confession without forgiveness leads to despair…but we have Christ and His grace…and forgiveness in his hands is hope!
3. Intercession:
a. We will have some time for people to be prayed for. For us to in unity ask God for help. In this way we no longer feel like islands, but feel like a part of a whole. Our voices are no longer monologues, but become a choir singing to heaven. Our loneliness is ended, and our longing is joined by others. In intercession we share burdens and carry one another. Indeed as the poet has said “each of us are one winged angels and can only learn to fly by embracing one another.”
4. Prophetic praise and revelation
a. We will end by having a time for anybody to share a scripture that has come to mind, and encouragement, or a revelation for our church family. A chance to say thanks to God and each other; a chance to see the future; a chance to see better where we are. Any “awkward” words become a chance for our elders to discern. It is a time for whatever God may desire to speak-back to us to be heard by all of us. For when we sing to Him, He sings back!

Hope you can be there, it will be great


Friday, April 17, 2009


Vision is when we invite God to show us what could / should be. That invitation is full of His responding to us by inviting us into His hopes and dreams for us. A great church, a great team, and a great leader enters into this “tent of meeting” with God often. In that place of intimacy with God our church no longer guesses, tries to be clever, or relies on it’s own strength; in that place His creativity, His will, and His resources are put on the table. And we then respond in joy, hope, love, obedience and faith to that which our Father wants us to do.

So I want to take a second to share with you a few things that I have been sensing in that time when I am with God in that “tent of meeting.” As leaders of our church I am inviting you to join with God in these dialogues through prayer. And I will explain each of them below.

1. We need to praise God and gush over his goodness. To do this sometimes we have to build an alter of remembrance for what He has done. It is too easy for us to forget His goodness. So let me take a second to remind you. From the pastors viewpoint. The 1st time I stood to preach at 5 stones I was overwhelmed with the feeling that this place is hanging by a thread, and that it could be gone in a week. I argued with Him when he pointed to Nehemiah, but looking back He was so very wise in starting with us there. Because not only did Christ start 5 stones, but after a time of turmoil He was about to rebuild it. So there we were…burnouts, wounded, a budget going over a cliff, gossip, back-stabbing, blame, fear…and many of us wondering if we wanted to be here anymore. Then, slowly and methodically He moved. He brought Nate in and we have watched him grow as a man of God in ways that have thrilled and awed us. We watched Josh Derr jump in with Kim and carry youth ministry, even while God was readying Josh Sumpter to become our youth pastor. The eldership formed with John and Dan initially and then Jody and Glenn entering in as well…slowly learning our roles and praying for our church. The deacons [servant board] after being shell-shocked with post traumatic stress syndrome was refreshed, and new people joined, and even more are now joining in a role that once was avoided like the plague. Lenore and Amy have prayed for us with invisible hours akin to the widow’s mite, and their words have helped undergird the strength that we are now feeling. Cindy and the whole children’s team have endured and emerged stronger than ever…how many churches get a free staff member….we are blessed beyond belief. Sarah and Dan have restarted women’s and men’s ministry and we are slowly moving into momentum in these new ministries. Our services have become more and more dynamic through the unappreciated and often unseen loyalty , tenacity, and commitment to excellence of Jon. Then Tony and other people have jumped in and now we have a worship environment that is more and more creative and intimate with our God. Amy Stephenson has created our atmosphere of hospitality and warmth, and her team make our rented space our home. Sandy has made our VBS truly missional joining with other churches, and we initiated the one-service last year with other churches and we had over a 1,000 last year and will have more this year. Heather has led our charge to be missional and we are going and loving people in more and more dynamic ways every day. Jeremy and Paul rebuilt our blogs and websites, did our invite cards, and a million other things. Jody has a team of dancers and God is carrying them around the nation and now the globe with worship-dance impact. We have repaired our relationships with Ezekiel church and Park Street, and others that were wounded in our time of captivity. We have started tithing to our denomination for church planting, we were given great officing space right across the street from the Chapel…and miracle of miracles we sold the ugliest building in Ashland when nobody believed we could! We gave over 10,000 dollars to Pumphouse after the fire; paid for thanksgiving for the Archway people; and are giving away nearly 1,000 a month to people in Ashland in need. I don’t have room for all the stories of what we have done for people! We have become a generous, outwardly focused church…we are becoming missional. This year we moved Nate to full time, brought Josh Sumpter in and now have a church that can really take care of people and families on every level. We were a church with a few college students but this year we have served the University in incredible ways. We moved in the freshmen, gave away all kinds of stuff, feed them at finals and sustenance meals, are about to have a senior service, students are preaching and have internships with us, adult mentors have jumped into the “grow small groups” and doubled attendance from last year, we will soon have some college deacons, filled the chapel with thousands of dollars worth of Bibles, and have helped the Well, FCA and other groups have a better worship environment. Wow! At this point I will slow down, not because I am out of stuff to say or people I could list but I’m not sure you will keep reading. So let me simply say PRAISE GOD!!! I mean really, look at how kind and compassionate He has been in rebuilding and restoring us. Our small groups are becoming a team under Nate Shultz; discipleship is growing deeper with Will; things are becoming what God wants. Our budget is healthy, more and more visitors, we Baptized almost 20 people this year, and are seeing people come and come back to Christ. I’m not making things up or trying to “spin” something from a perspective…this is Gods reality at work. Look at how good and gracious, how strong and mighty, how great is our God. Breath out a word of AMEN! We are not what we were, and we are becoming the Bride He wants us to be. We have passed through being victims, past through just surviving, past through our selfishness and are becoming servants to the community and college. Behold….look hard! Look at what he has done and say thanks.
2. That said there is more coming. And that more will be the things I write that I am asking you to pray about. They aren’t plans yet, they are simply prayers. We will then wait on these prayers and see what God says back as we move forward with and through Him and His strength. These things will take faith and obedience, they will take faith, courage and hope. They are impossible without Him, [as it should always be] for all things are possible with Him.
a. It is time. I have been waiting for 21 months for the day I felt I could say this and I will say it again this Sunday. It is time to grow. The time has past by for just surviving and stabilizing. We have built a good foundation and now is the time to grow deeper into God, deeper into community with each other, and deeper into the lives of the lost around us. It is time for each of us personally and as a church to really focus on these three things.
i. Set aside time for just God. It is time to grow strong in DEEP relationship with Him.
ii. Set aside time for deep community with our church family teams and small groups
iii. Set aside time for people who don’t know God. Really focus on your top 10 list. We now have a church that is ready for them. We aren’t perfect…but we are now strong enough to take care of more than ourselves…it’s time to take care of them. God loves them, and that is why we are here…to continue the ministry of Jesus as His hands, feet, and mouth.
b. It is time to fix a few things. This week we are bringing in some consultants to help us. They are a gift from God, apostles in a sense, and we will learn some wise things from them. Our sound system, the projectors…etc almost all our “stuff” that we use to create a “sacred space” for worship and ministry on Sunday is either cheap, broken, duct-taped, borrowed, or held together with bailing wire. We want to honor our space as the Temple was honored, and we desire to bless A/U which is going through a rough time financially. So here pretty soon we will do some fundraising to fix everything we use on Sunday and to also have better stuff for the center of religious life to use as our partners in ministry. Pray about what your part in this will, could, or should be. Doing things well is a part of stewardship and we want to do things well and bless others in how we do it and share it.
c. Lastly. Our offices are getting pretty cramped. We have an open office in the national office across the street that we pay 250 a month for. Me, Nate, Cindy, Josh…and an intern all try to use it. But it is getting pretty cramped. We need space for youth ministry, more offices, meeting space for the elders, deacons, and prayer teams. A place for the band to practice. Place for storage… And something MAY be on the horizon. I don’t yet know what God is doing, but I’ll tell you what I’ve been doing. I have been praying for us to have a place for us to spread out our stuff and do what we need to do, a place for our youth, a place for prayer and counseling, a place for small groups and fellowship, a place for meetings, a place for outreach, a place for younglife to borrow, and all of this in the context of being close to A/U. Where oh where could such a place be? Well, I have been praying for over a year for the old carpenter’s shop. I have prayed and waited, poked around and had conversations, prayed some more and waited. Nothing seemed to be moving, so I just kept praying and claiming and begging God. But I don’t want to pray alone anymore. So I am asking you to pray with me. The National office hasn’t rented it out yet and we aren’t yet at the place to be able to afford it at what they need. But what can God do?! I don’t know but I am asking him, and I am now asking you to ask him to. It is the perfect location, the perfect layout…we just need God to make the perfect timing, and the money available. Pray that IF this is His will, he will make it known. And if He makes His will known…H e will make a way for it to become reality.

That’s it friends. It has been such an honor being here. Moving here was not easy. It has cost me friends, a house, much heartbreak…but God through you is restoring my heart, my faith, my friendships. I have grown stronger as WE have grown stronger. And for that I deeply thank you.

God is good, all the time…and all the time God is good.

PS: I couldn’t mention everything, everyone has done in anything short of a novel. Rest assured if your name wasn’t listed above…God knows what you have done and He is well pleased. His pleasure with you, is enough. Believe me I know, for I have experienced it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I wonder if Jesus ever gets bored by watching us?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

watching Aslan

it was a long and dark winter,
the wind was knifen bitter,
from the platform i remember
there was snow...down below

and i walked the zoo, nearly alone,
but haunted and hunted by something,
a presence, descending...never ending,
mingled with my shadow,
it leaned into me, through the cutting rain,
and i was awakened,
perception re-emerged,
though veiled thoughts,
at the zoo.

where the lost roomates of Eden,
trapped and transported,
in cages of wire, glass, steel and concrete,
look at us with forlorn eyes...weeping.

and there was a lion

and he stared at me a long, long time,
eye to eye for long-longing minutes,
as if his DNA was awakening to an instinctual dream,
dormant and dead,
but suddenly whispering.

and through his eyes he asked me
"son of adam,
are you here to set me free?
and if so we can run together,
and wrestle,
and laugh as we used to,
as we are supposed to,
before the apple fell,
from those crimson lips."

and he just stared at me, through me

so i answered out loud

"no...i have not come to set you free,
oh son of Aslan, i wish i could,
but i don't know how."

so he looked away, and never met my eyes again,
and the memory faded from his mind.

and creation seemed to groan,
the aches of her ancient heart,
and her lost glory.

and i walked away.

back into the zoo,
I live in,

full of steel, concrete, glass, and string,
back to pacing my own cages,
wondering when i'll be set free,
of the traps around me,
and handicaps inside me,
we are brothers...lost to one another in this time and place.

not just the animals,
but we ourselves.

I walked by the university of bearcats,
and we all passed each other in the streets, doorways.

I wondered for a second if i asked a stranger if i could...
groom them, like the monkeys do...
or run with them, like the wolves...
or play with them and the polar bear cubs...
or wipe away the tear i saw in that one lost little college girl with the yellow hat and brown gloves,
or bring sanity back to the shouting man outside the gyro shop,
or hope to the single mom screaming at her child,
or strength to the old man who asked for a quarter...and the dignity which long ago left his eyes.

but no

we keep ourselves behind our cages,
lest we be devoured,
lest we come to life...and live different.

and i drove back to the convent,
back where,
sacred time and sacred space converge,
where angels drip with water and icicles from the bell towers of saint elizabeth,
where i am no longer least for a spell of days

and i long for heaven,
as aslan's son yearns for the plains of Africa,

displaced time,
what a strange way to evolve?
it's as if,
we were instead,
trapped and caged,
by our own folly.

oh God
set us free!

Friday, February 20, 2009

being and meaning

to be or not to be...that IS the question...

but how do we stop runing so fast and stop to drink in creation and our creator?
how do we enter solitude and silence?

i am cheating!

I am at a vineyard church retreat center that has an old church [lizzy]; an old convent [sister act]; an artist studio; a cafe; and some intentional [communal] communities living near by.

at least 2 times a year i need to stop completely. I need to end my swirling thoughts, exhausted pace, heart anxieties...and stop to be still and silent for a while. To touch the snow, to watch the birds, to eat slowly, to pray for wandering hours at an end, and to walk around and then rest in the strong arms of God's nearness.

It's a chance to give him BIG time, and to have some BIG conversations. To explore avenues of heart, habits, thoughts, choices, attitudes, relationships, ministry, family, love-loss-mystery-and majesty.

i'll share some of this as i go. But today was mostly just winding down. Forcing myself to stop thinking...stop fretting...stop planning...stop everything.

and let REST do her work. peeling my hands off of the world. "de-pimping and re-monking." stopping the worlds ways and going into seclusion to find Gods ways again.

fresh as crisp snow
warm as sunlight
mysterious as fog
warming as the fireplace
near as my own breathing
slow as the dawn emerging
still as 2am
playful as imagination
wise as the great oak tree who has seen so much
holy as the battered church that still smiles over this rugged neighborhood
inviting as the laughter downstairs
saturating as my morning shower
filling as my hot warm meal
observant as a poet
seductive as the Spirit
hushed as a mothers lulabye
protected as a fathers arms
twinkiling as stardust
purposeful as angels on mission

as i sleep away from the world, i am awakening to the other world...the REAL world. And as this place fades into mist, the next place supplants my roots in heaven. an i am upside down i am supposed to be. With my roots in heaven, growing fruit to give to my earth.

but pulling the roots out of earth takes some time...and that is what this time means.

for only when we find our true meaning...can we start being...who we truly are.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The skeleton woman:

this story was heard by me the 1st time at a men's retreat "wild at heart." It is about how men treat women, and how they should. It is a cautionary and redemptive tale...

an eskimo legend:

Once upon a time --- She had done something of which her father disapproved, although no one any longer remembered what it was. But her father had dragged her to the cliffs and threw her over and into the sea. There, the fish ate her flesh away and plucked out her eyes. As she lay under the sea, her skeleton turned over and over in the currents.

One day a fisherman came fishing, well in truth, many came to thisbay once. But this fisherman had drifted far from his home place,and did not know that the local fisherman stayed away, saying this inlet was haunted. The fisherman's hook drifted down through the water and caught, of all places, in the bones of Skeleton Woman's rib cage. The fishermanthought, "Oh, now I've really got a big one! Now I really have one!" In his mind, he was thinking of how many people this great fish would feed, how long it would last, how long he might be free from the chore of hunting. And as he struggled with this great weight on the end of the hook, the sea was stirred to a thrashing froth, and his kayak bucked and shook, for she who was beneath struggled to disentangle herself. And the more she struggled, the more she tangled in the line. No matter what she did, she was inexorably dragged upward, tugged up by the bones of her own ribs. The hunter had turned to scoop up his net, so he did not see her bald head rise above the waves, he did not see the little coral creatures glinting in the orbs of her skull, he did not see the crustaceans on her old ivory teeth. When he turned back with his net, her entire body, such as it was, had come to the surface and was hanging from the tip of his kayak by her long front teeth. "Agh!" cried the man, and his heart fell into his knees, his eyes hid in terror on the back of his head, and his ears blazed bright red. "Agh!" he screamed, and knocked her off the prow with his oar and began paddling like a demon toward the shoreline. And not realizing she was tangled in his line, he was frightened all the more for she appeared to stand upon her toes while chasing him all the way to to shore. No matter which way he zigged his kayak, she stayed right behind, and her breath rolled over the water in clouds of steam, and her arms flailed out as though to snatch him down into the depths. "Aggggggghhhh!" he wailed as he ran aground. In one leap he was out of his kayak, clutching his fishing stick and running, and the coral-white corpse of Skeleton Woman, still snagged in the fishingline, bumpety-bumped behind right after him. Over the rocks he ran,and she followed. Over the frozen tundra he ran and she kept right up. Over the meat laid out to dry he ran, cracking it to pieces as his mukluks bore down. Throughout it all she kept right up, in fact grabbed some of the frozen fish as she was dragged behind. This she began to eat, for she had not eaten in a long, long time.

Finally, the man reached his snowhouse and dove right into the tunnel, and on hands and knees scrambled his way into the interior. Panting and sobbing he lay there in the dark, his heart, a drum, a mighty drum. Safe at last, oh so safe, yes safe, thank the Gods, Raven, yes thank Raven, yes and all-bountiful Sedna, safe ... at ... last. Imagine when he lit his whale oil lamp, there she/it lay in a tumble upon his snow floor, one heel over her shoulder, one knee inside her rib cage, one foot over her elbow. He could not say later what it was, perhaps the firelight softened her features, or the fact that he was a lonely man. But a feeling of some kindness came into his breathing, and slowly he reached out his grimy hands and using words softly like mother to child, he began to untangle her from thefishing line. "Oh, na, na, na." First he untangled the toes, then the ankles. "Oh,na, na, na." On and on he worked into the night, until dressing her in furs to keep her warm, Skelton Woman's bones were all in the proper order that a human's bones should be. He felt into his leather cuffs for his flint, and used some of his hair to light a little more fire. He gazed at her from time to time as he oiled the precious wood of his fishing stick and rewound the gut line. And she in the furs uttered not a word- she did not dare-lest this hunter take her out and throw her down to the rocks and break her bones to pieces completely.

The man became drowsy, slid under his sleeping skins, and soon was dreaming. And sometimes as humans sleep, you know, a tear escapes from the dreamer's eye; we never know what sort of dream causes this, but we know it is either a dream of sadness or longing. And this is what happened to the man. The Skeleton Woman saw the tear glisten in the firelight, and she became suddenly soooo thirsty. She tinkled and clanked and crawled over to the sleeping man and put her mouth to his tear. The single tear was like a river and she drank and drank and drank until her many-years-long thirst was satisfied. While lying beside him, she reached inside the sleeping man and took out his heart, the mighty drum. She sat and banged on both sides of it: *Bom, Bomm! ... Bom, Bomm!* As she drummed, she began to sing out "Flesh, flesh, flesh! Flesh,flesh, flesh!" And the more she sang, the more her body filled out with flesh. She sang for hair and good eyes and nice hands. She sang the divide between her legs, and breasts long enough to wrap for warmth, and all the things a woman needs. And when she was all done, she also sang the sleeping man's clothes off and crept into his bed with him, skin against skin. She returned the great drum, his heart, to his body, and that is how they awakened, wrapped one around the other, tangled from their night, in another way now, a good and lasting way. The people who cannot remember how she came to her first ill-fortune say she and the fisherman went away and were consistently well-fed by the creatures she had known in her life under the water. The people say that it is true and that is all they know.

[The story is from _Women Who Run With the Wolves_ by Clarissa Estes,a most remarkable book and a most remarkable storyteller.]

ultimately it is a story of salvation. And as we go into John 5 this week and think about a man broken for 38 long years, somehow this old story came to my mind.

i use the story to teach men about loving [and saving] thier wives. But i'll save that for another day.

Monday, January 5, 2009

is seeing believing?

Eyesight, corrective lenses, glaucoma…

We can trust what we can see, right? After all we rely on sight to drive, read, eat, etc. It is completely trustworthy… never fails…pure scientific fact

Unless we are watching a magician, or looking at a retouched photo, or the CGI in a movie, or we are near-sighted; farsighted; have a stigmatism; colorblind; we have taken some illegal drugs…commercials…info-mercials

But most of life isn’t like those extremes. I really can USUALLY trust what I see. But can we trust what we don’t see. What do we “take on faith” or believe because of experience. We turn on a light and we don’t see the electricity running up the wall, but we trust it is there; we throw a football and trust that gravity is part of how to throw it; we push the brakes even though we can’t see the brake fluid or the brake pads. The internet etc.

In point of fact we have “faith or trust” is all sorts of things we can’t see, don’t understand, and couldn’t prove to other people to save our lives. Love; Pheromones; Brain waves; Wind currents; Electrons; Light waves and particles; DNA; black holes…

Yet all these “miracles” of modern science and technology are simply taking our discoveries of reality and placing them in convenient useful packaging. Cellphones, iPods, Wi-Fi, hard-drives, gene therapy…

What then are miracles? Does Jesus just know more about reality and uses what he knows…or is he so far removed from reality that he can shape it any way he so desires? We don’t know. We can’t see him do miracles, and we can’t see how he does them even if we experience one. A lot of people stop asking because they started asking with expectations that it would always happen, and when it didn’t they just gave up.

But do we believe, without seeing, that he can do them? And do we ask him to do them? And do we give him time to do them? And do we let him say no, if he thinks it is best to not do one?

It’s interesting, the Bible says that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing from the word of God.” And yet most people pursue faith by looking instead of hearing. People say “I would believe if I saw…” And yet the Israelites in Egypt saw incredible things, but didn’t always believe. Maybe our faith would grow more if we spent more time listening to Jesus, instead of watching for him to do some big carnival miracle. Maybe we should pray instead of trying to see.

Just a thought…

Friday, January 2, 2009

resolution practicum

New Years resolutions [practical help]

1. Be un-realistic. The surest way to fall short of your goal is to make your goal attainable in your own strength. You should make a habit of anticipating and attaining the impossible ONLY through the help of God and His strength. Any resolution that is done without deep dependance on God is an investment in pride and vanity. A resolution is not a one time choice but the choice of repitition and habit, and the 1st habit is always to be closer to God in all things we do.

2. Plan ahead. Don't make your resolution on New Year's Eve, but let the whole month of January be a time for reflection and adjustment. If you wait until the last minute or do it suddenly or reactively, it will be based on your mindset, guilty feelings, or passions of that particular day. Instead, it should be an ongoing process bathed in prayer and with the input of those around you that love you. Put everything into a calendar like google-calendar and then ruthlessly and relentlessly aim in that direction.

3. Outline your plan. Decide how you will deal with the temptation to skip that exercise class or have one more cigarette. This could include calling on a friend for help, practicing positive thinking and self-talk, or reminding yourself how your bad habit affects yourself, others, and God. Try to replace vices with corresponding virtues. Aiming at NOT doing something is not as effective as aiming TO do something.

4. Make a "vision" and "consequences" list. It helps to visualize what life would be like 3 months, or a year down the line with these changes firmly in place. Also look at the consequences of not doing this and allow those negatives to be part of your motivation.

5. Talk about it. Don't keep your resolution a secret. Tell friends, your spiritual family and others who will be there to support your resolve to change yourself for the better or improve your health. The best case scenario is to find yourself a buddy who shares your New Year's resolution and motivate each other.

6. Reward yourself. This doesn't mean that you can eat an entire box of chocolates if your resolution is to diet. Instead, celebrate your success by treating yourself to something that you enjoy that does not contradict your resolution. If you've been sticking to your promise to eat better, for example, perhaps your reward could be going to a movie with a friend.
Track your progressKeep track of each small success you make toward reaching your larger goal. Short-term goals are easier to keep, and small accomplishments will help keep you motivated. Instead of focusing on losing 30 pounds, say, focus on losing that first 5.

7. Don't beat yourself up. Obsessing over the occasional slip won't help you achieve your goal. Do the best you can each day, and take each day one at a time. Let the Holy Spirit coach you. His desire is not to just point out faults, but to be a friend who comes alongside with encouragement, wisdom, and strength for the journey of life.

8. Stick to it. Experts say it takes about 21 days for a new activity, such as exercising, to become a habit, and 6 months for it to become part of your personality. Your new healthful habits will become second-nature in no time.

9. Keep trying. If your resolution has totally run out of steam by mid-February, don't despair. Start over again! There's no reason you can't make a "New Year's resolution" any time of year.

10. Cynicism is pessimistic cowardice. Being a victim [of yourself, others, or circumstances] is the quickest way to negativity, passivity, and self-destruction. People who remain vigilant, laughing, crying, and fully engaged in a responsible resolution move forward and see change. Be tough minded and strong hearted! Your enemy [Satan] prowls around seeking to devour us into his pessimism and pride.

Fast Facts About New Year's Resolutions
63% of people say they are keeping their resolutions after two months
67% of people make three or more resolutions

Top four resolutions:
Increase exercise
Be more conscientious about work or school
Develop better eating habits
Stop smoking, drinking, or using drugs (including caffeine)
People make more resolutions to start a new habit than to break an old one.

Johnathan Edwards wrote these at the age of 23. I think they are worth looking at as we start the new year. I have modernized and changed a few to reflect a more contemporary cultural and spiritual sense of our times.

The thing that is so amazing to me about these is that Edwards did a good job of staying focused on them through the years. I think in many ways he used this as a missions-statement before the term was coined.

I resolve: [written over a 2 year period 1722-23]

Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God' s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my life, without any consideration of the time, right now! Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever. I will gladly suffer to bring others joy as my Lord has done.
2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new contrivance and invention to promote the aforementioned things. I will evolve in studying and learning how to better be a son of God through all means necissary.
3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again. I will wake up, get up, and charge forward again!
4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it. My life will shine as a blazing star pointing to Christ in all i say, think, feel, and do!
5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can. All time is sacred and has been measured and given to me as a precious gift. I will not waste it with the distractions of the world but will take every moment and live fully alive in Christ.
6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live. Carpe Diem!
7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life. I will not live a life that is stockpiling regrets i will eventually be ashamed of and bogged down with.
8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God. I will assume i am the worst sinner who has ever lived and thus be compassionate and gracious to all others that are above me.
9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death. I will remember that death is the great door to love and life above; but while here that door reminds me that i have work to do for and with Him whom i eventually will go home to.
10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell. My sufferings will be mitigated by remembering the sufferings of the persecuted church throughout the world.
11. Resolved, when I think of any theory in theology to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances do not hinder. I will ask the big questions and hunt for the big answers in Gods words.
12. Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by. I will remember that pride and autonomy are the poisons of Satan in all things. My ego is not addicted to self, but to my place of adoption in hrist.
13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality. I will look hard for where i can love people in practical ways here and throughout the world.
14. Resolved, never to do any thing out of revenge. Vengeance is Christ's alone, and I have NO rights in these matters.
15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger towards irrational beings or animals.
16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good. I will rarely speak of 3rd parties who are not in the room to defend and explain themselves.
17. Resolved, that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
18. Resolved, to live so, at all times, as I think is best in my devout frame-of-mind, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world. When confused and angry and off-line with God i will make no major decisions of consequence to myself and others. I will wait as patiently as i can, upon the Lord.
19. Resolved, never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trumpet call me home.
20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance and moderation, in eating and drinking. I will filter whatever is about to go into my body through any of my senses and make sure it is worthy of being placed in the temple of the Lord.
21. Resolved, never to do any thing, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him. I will not become that which i despise.
22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of. I want to make my Father in heaven proud of me in all that I do.
23. Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs and ends of it; I will do as much secret good as I can.
24. Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then, both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it. I will relentlessly hunt down my motivations, my flesh, and the root of my temptations and failures.
25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.
26. Resolved, to cast away such things, as I find do damage to my assurance of Gods love for me and my safe place of security in his hands.
27. Resolved, never willfully to omit any thing, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions. What i don't say or do will reflect wisdom and not a covering of my failures.
28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same. His words shall be as alive on my lips, in my heart, through my thoughts, and in my hands as is possible.
29. Resolved, never to count a prayer worthy that is double minded, selfish, half-hearted, and empty of faith.
30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in Christ-likeness, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.
31. Resolved, never to say any thing at all against any body, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution. "I will not throw anybody under the bus." through gossip or slander.
32. Resolved, to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that, in Proverbs 20:6, A faithful man who can find? may not be partly fulfilled in me.
33. Resolved, to do always, what I can towards making, maintaining, and preserving peace, when it can be done without compromising Christ.
34. Resolved, in narrations never to speak any thing but the pure and simple truth of what God is saying and has said.
35. Resolved, whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved. I will not be dominated by guilt, but by peace.
36. Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it in a prophetic sense that is necissary for the good of the Church or the Kingdom. And to do so carefully and humbly...very close to God in all things after much prayer and fasting and gleaning of wisdom from others.
37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent,- what sin I have committed,-and wherein I have denied myself;-also at the end of every week, month and year. I will journal about such things and seek to understand them.
38. Resolved, never to speak anything that is ridiculous, sportive, or matter of laughter on the Lord' s day. Sabbath will be enjoyed as sacred space and time. I will laugh and cry and feel alive in him and not in the things of this world.
39. Resolved, never to do any thing of which I so much question the lawfulness of, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or not; unless I as much question the lawfulness of the omission. I have freedom, but that freedom must not be ensnared in the foollishness of the world.
40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to what i have let come inside of me that day.
41. Resolved, to ask myself, at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly, in any respect, have done better. I will own my mistakes: make restitution; apologize; and do penance in an appropriate manner towards killing these vices and planting the virtues of God.
42. Resolved, frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptism; which I solemnly renewed, when I was received into the communion of the church.
43. Resolved, never, henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God's; i am not my own i was purchased with a price.
44. Resolved, that no other end but christian spirituality, shall have any influence at all on any of my actions; and that no action shall be, in the least circumstance, any otherwise than the religious end will carry it.
45. Resolved, never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affection at all, nor any degree of affection, nor any circumstance relating to it, but what helps me become more like Jesus.
46. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eye: and to be especially careful of it with respect to any of our family.
47. Resolved, to endeavor, to my utmost, to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good, and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented and easy, compassionate and generous, humble and meek, submissive and obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable and even, patient, moderate, forgiving and sincere temper; and to do at all times, what such a temper would lead me to; and to examine strictly, at the end of every week, whether I have done so.
48. Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or not; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of.
49. Resolved, that this never shall be, if I can help it.
50. Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world.
51. Resolved, that I will act so, in every respect, as I think I shall wish I had done, if I should at last be damned.
52. I frequently hear persons in old age, say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age.
53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer.
54. Whenever I hear anything spoken in conversation of any person, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, Resolved to endeavor to imitate it.
55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if, I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments.
56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.
57. Resolved, when I fear misfortunes and adversities, to examine whether I have done my duty, and resolve to do it, and let the event be just as providence orders it. I will as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty, and my sin.
58. Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and benignity.
59. Resolved, when I am most conscious of provocations to ill nature and anger, that I will strive most to feel and act good-naturedly; yea, at such times, to manifest good nature, though I think that in other respects it would be disadvantageous, and so as would be imprudent at other times.
60. Resolved, whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination.
61. Resolved, that I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it-that what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to be done, etc. I will not be lazy or passive about keeping a firm focus on God in and through all things.
62. Resolved, never to do anything but duty, and then according to Ephesians 6:6-8, to do it willingly and cheerfully as unto the Lord, and not to man: knowing that whatever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord.
63. On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true luster, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, to act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time.
64. Resolved, when I find those ‹groanings which cannot be uttered (Romans 8:26), of which the Apostle speaks, and those breakings of soul for the longing it hath, of which the Psalmist speaks, Psalm 119:20, that I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be weary of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness.
65. Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this, all my life long with the greatest openness and transparency, of which I am capable of, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to him: all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and every thing, and every circumstance.
66. Resolved, that I will endeavor always to keep a benign aspect, and air of acting and speaking in all places, and in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires otherwise.
67. Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, what am I the better for them, and what I might have got by them.
68. Resolved, to confess frankly to myself all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; and, if it be what concerns religion, also to confess the whole case to God, and implore needed help.
69. Resolved, always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it.
70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak.


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