Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Oh Hell



I have been reading a little too much Martin Luther of late...He was so messed up that I'm actually starting to feel better about myself. One thing that I have been noticing is his emphasis on death as penalty for sin. In essense, death is evil and not part of God's perfect design. To make it simply a passage from one reality into another benigns it too much. Theologically speaking, death sucks. There is nothing good about it. Luther's lack of attention to Heaven and Hell are also noteworthy, especially considering the popular notion that he was motivated by a fear of hell. His focus seems to be more along the lines that Death (the anticipation of, event of, and continuation of not living) is Hell. Heaven, then, is the hope in Christ that we will live again without fear of death after death has passed.



For some reason, thinking this way has made me despise and fear hell more (annihilation is so much more scary to me than eternal fire) and realize that I have all along been longing for heaven...if heaven is simply a secure and eternal life with God.



For a few of you this is heresy...so forget about it and pick up the new comic book series "Brath" by Crossgen...its pretty cool.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

A Parable to Share



I wrote this today after reading John 15 and reviewing Henri Nouwen's book, Lifesigns.



House of Fear



Once upon a time there was an old man, a widower, who had two grown sons. The old man and his loving wife had raised their boys in a small, simple cottage overlooking a quiet stream. The house was small but rugged. It had weathered many storms and many years. The old man himself had built the house with his own hands many decades earlier and was quite proud of it.



It came to pass that the old man grew sick and called his boys to his bedside in the small, simple cottage. “My sons,” the old man said, “Your father is dying…and I am going to be with Momma soon. Everything that I have is yours. I have thought long and hard about how to divide the inheritance between you.” The old man then proceeded to give the small cottage and the furniture within to youngest brother, while the oldest brother was given the old man’s life savings, an amount considerably more than anyone expected. Both brothers seemed pleased.



It wasn’t long before the old man passed away and the younger brother moved back into the small simple cottage. He left the place just as it was, not wanting to disturb any of the memories of his youth or of his loving parents. He missed his father, but somehow being in the house made the pain more bearable.



The older brother, who loved his father but was always ashamed to have to live in a small, simple cottage, took his father’s money and constructed a very large and impressive house for himself. It was, by all accounts, a mansion…the biggest house in the entire town. It had dozens of bedrooms, two kitchens and a guesthouse three times bigger than the old cottage. The brother spent what was left of his father’s money furnishing the house with exotic and expensive items from all over the world. When the house was completed, the older brother held a huge banquet for everyone in town in his father’s memory. He quickly went deeply into debt as he tried to manage the affairs of his new house and his newfound popularity.



As the brothers began to grow older, they also grew apart and spent less and less time together. The younger brother found a good job at the mill and married a nice girl from the next town over. Before long, they also had two children, two boys of their own, who filled the simple cottage with love and kisses and lots of noise. Sometimes the brother would think about his older brother living in a large quiet house and he would wonder if he was happy. He would wonder why he never came to visit and if he was embarrassed to be seen in the old cottage after living so many years in the biggest house in town…most of the time, however, the younger brother just smiled and loved his life: his wife, his children and the gift of his father’s old house filled with a legacy of love.



Life was not as joyous, for his older brother. His life was busy…busy working at the office, busy socializing with the town leaders, busy keeping up the house, busy trying to scrape together enough money to pay the bills. He found his mansion to be quite cold and empty…and, above all, frightening. He hated to go home at night and would often sleep in his car so that he wouldn’t have to face the dreadful loneliness of such a big house. He would curse his little brother under his breath for being so simple-minded and na├»ve. He even began to hate his recently deceased father for forcing this life upon him by giving him so much money.



It wasn’t long before the older brother snapped. He lost his job and began sleeping on the overgrown front lawn of his house in a small tent. His friends all left him and the school children poked fun of him as they walked to and from the bus stop. His hair and beard became as wild and unkempt as the house he owned. His entire existence was miserable and he would lay awake at night in his tent hoping in vain that someone would just come and kill him and move into the dreadful house.



Early one morning, three visitors appeared among the weeds and trash surrounding the older brother’s tent. It was his younger brother, accompanied by two young men.



“Go ahead, boys. Introduce yourselves.” The younger brother spoke to his nearly grown sons. The oldest spoke for the both of them, “Hello, Uncle…we…that is…momma and dad says that if you want to come home…”



The estranged older brother looked up at that moment with tears in his eyes. He did not say a word, but began to cry and reach toward his brother.



The younger brother fell to his knees and embraced the weeping man. “My brother, come home. It is a small simple cottage, but there is room. The boys have agreed to share a bed and I’ve added a bathroom where mama’s roses used to be…there’s plenty of room.”



Through the tears, the older brother managed to speak, “Thank you, thank you. I am ready…I’m ready to go home.”



To this day the older brother’s mansion remains empty and unkempt as a memorial for all of the people in the town to the difference between a house and a home.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

General Updates



It's been a good week thus far. I had a good lunch with my friend Shane Philip who is the pastor for The Crossing, a church that Canyon Ridge started the year before Apex was launched. Speaking of The Ridge, this Sunday is the tenth anniversary celebration and Debbie and I are planning on being involved in some of the festivities. It's rather odd to think that I was around for nearly seven years of the first ten...It will be good to reunite with some old friends this weekend. Even though I'm the "house church" boy that they don't totally understand most of the time, I sure am proud to be part of the extended family.



I have been wanting to write more this year and it looks like I am going to take a stab at a screenplay based on the life of Martin Luther...I'm rereading Here I Stand by Bainton along with a few other biographies to prepare. If you have any Luther stories or ideas that you want me to work in, just shoot me an email sometime.



My improv classes start next week and I am still very excited to see what they will be like. Hopefully they will be relational enough that I can make some new friends while remaining typically aloof...we'll see.



The boys are both a little under the weather, as is our roomie Chris...so some prayers in that direction might help.



25th Hour rocks.



We had a small but powerful house church meeting tuesday night...one of those obvious moments when God revealed his plan for our time together.



That's about all the news for now...peace to you.

Monday, January 20, 2003

I'm moving to Canada



I was watching the news tonight and saw something that troubled me enough to honestly consider renouncing my American citizenship. Sure, I have had issues in the past with my country, but this is something that I cannot imagine being able to deal with in the weeks to come. It is relatively current news, so if I have to be the one to break it to you, I am sorry...



Kangaroo Jack is the #1 movie in America. God help us all. (Click here at your own risk.)



Seriously though, if you were one of the people who forked over 17.7 million American greenbacks to see this movie please e-mail me and tell me what the hell you were thinking. (On second thought, just don't let me know...I'd rather us stay friends.)



Sunday, January 19, 2003

Something is Wrong



Peace and Joy...we cannot rightly proclaim the Christian message without bursting with peace and joy. God, something is terribly wrong with us.

As I look back on my life I see struggle and pain and definate growth and transformation...I see the cross and Joe hanging on it....but peace? joy? Man, I need a Savior...That's it...I need a Savior. Why do I feel sick to my stomach everytime someone says "Jesus saves?" Because I think they don't get it? Or because I'm still somehow running from the idea? Jesus saves? He heals? He delivers? I'm just broken enough these days to have to believe it. I am so glad that Peter answered when Jesus asked the 12 if they would abandon him just like the 5,000 full-bellied turncoats had. I'm glad Peter answered because he was honest: "No...we ain't leaving...we got nowhere else to go." I am even more glad that Jesus was perfectly pleased with Peter's answer. I got nowhere else to go today either.



Here's the kicker...I'm actually in a good mood today, just feeling ultra-honest...so you don't have to email me the name of a good shrink...save that for next week!



Jesus, keeper of the zoe-logos, save me.

Friday, January 17, 2003

Catherine Zeta Jones and Phil Webster



I saw Chicago tonight. It was very good...a high recommend. Along with Moulin Rouge, my favorite on screen musical...yes, better than Sound of Music...



and...my good friend Phil Webster has entered the blogging universe.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

The Rock that is Higher: Story as Truth



I am only 50 pages into this Madeleine L'Engle book. So far it's GREAT! I'll keep you updated. Here's a quote:



"This (the story of Jesus) is the story that gives meaning to my life...and if it isn't story it doesn't work. The life-giving, lifesaving story is true story that transcends facts. There's been considerable interest lately in checking the Gospels and trying to decide what Jesus really said, what he might have said, and what he surely didn't say, and too often the result of such academic research is not illumination, but loss of story. For such academics, miracles have to go. The Resurrection has to go. The story gets edited unitl there's no life left in it and there's nothing worth believing in."

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Rich



I was able to spend some time with Rich Mullins in my teenage years and his music is still my "heart music". This song has been an anchor for me for the last year:



Be With You



Everybody each and all

We're gonna die eventually

It's no more or less our faults

Than it is our destiny

So now Lord I come to you

Asking only for Your grace

You know what I've put myself through

All those empty dreams I chased



And when my body lies in the ruins

Of the lies that nearly ruined me

Will You pick up the pieces

That were pure and true

And breathe Your life into them

And set them free?



And when You start this world over

Again from scratch

Will You make me anew

Out of the stuff that lasts?

Stuff that's purer than gold is

And clearer than glass could ever be

Can I be with You?

Can I be with You?



And everybody all and each

From the day that we are born

We have to learn to walk beneath

Those mercies by which we're drawn

And now we wrestle in the dark

With these angels that we can't see

We will move on although with scars

Oh Lord, move inside of me



And when my body lies in the ruins

Of the lies that nearly runied me

Will You pick up the pieces

That were pure and true

And breathe Your life into them

And set them free?



And when You blast this cosmos

To kingdom come

When those jagged-edged mountains

I love are gone

When the sky is crossed with the tears

Of a thousand falling suns

As they crash into the sea

Can I be with you?

Can I be with you?

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Story as Gateway to Wisdom



I gleaned this thought from a book I have been reading:



Facts draw a line in the sand and force people to take sides.

Stories build sandcastles and draw people into common discovery.




I saw the Las Vegas Second City Troupe tonight. They were great. I'm really looking forward to my upcoming classes with them.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

This and That...and more of This



My lovely wife got me improv. acting classes for Christmas through Second City. (I'm not sure if that means she thinks I am a good actor or a bad one!) The classes start Feb. 3 and run eight weeks. I am very excited and a little nervous. It's supposed to be for real actors, but they are letting me in.



Kenny Parker, a good friend and roomie to be, and I have been thinking through an idea to start a new business in the performing arts arena. I hope to unveil it to all of you in a week or so. I am very excited about what it could become and the potential to see the gospel sneak into our local culture through the arts.



I had lunch with my life-long friend and mentor Kevin Odor today. He means so much more to me with every passing year and has taught me the true nature of humility and servant leadership.



Tomorrow my wife and I will celebrate eight years of marriage (our anniversary was dec. 31, but babysitters are hard to come by these days...) It has been a wonderful journey with her and I am so blessed to be accepted and loved by her. I hope to be able to drive her a little less crazy this year than last year!



Thanks for the e-mail, Heidi.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

A Thought and an Obscure LOTR Reference



I have had a few people comment on my entry from Dec. 14 (see below if you want). I just want to say how tempted I am today to disbelieve all of that stuff...sometimes you just want to do what is easy. It seems easiest to just try to believe what everyone else wants you to believe...a constant temptation, but something in me just can't give in.



We must never forget...the ring wants to be found!

Monday, January 06, 2003

A New Blogger!



Hey everyone. My good buddy Tommy Peterson has started his blog. Click here to visit.

Sunday, January 05, 2003

Go Bucks!!!



Having grown up about five miles from The Ohio State University I feel an obligation to gloat, gloat, gloat...



Right, Jerry?



Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Sabbath Day 34



This is it! The last day before heading back to work tomorrow. I feel ready. My hope for this year is that it is fun...and risky. I hope that my friends will feel secure in my love for them and that those of us who have been called by God to share our lives together will love each other in a real and deep way. Tomorrow I meet with Greg and Jeremy to discuss some things that I have learned. Sunday is the same sort of meeting with an extended group of people from Apex. After last year I am a little cautious of things and almost expect some level of conflict to be everpresent in my life. I hope that God will take this cup from me for a while. I want some time to just enjoy my life and my calling with those who fully desire to live life with me.