Sunday, December 29, 2002

Sabbath Day 31

I'm off to Six Flags Magic Mountain today with my very good friends Kenny, Doug, Joe and Tommy...I could take or leave the rolly coasters (as my dad calls them), but I couldn't pass up the chance to hang with these guys for 36 hours.

Saturday, December 28, 2002

Sabbath Day 30

Only five days left of this wonderful gift in my life. I am both sad to see it draw to an end and excited to see what the coming year will bring. If nothing else, I am dangerous again. I have many ideas about life, work, future and church...I think that some of them are pretty good ideas. (But I always think my ideas are good ones!) I feel like a stabled horse who is ready to run. I just hope that I can run strong with a better pace than my last race.

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Sabbath Day 27 (Christmas)

My wife is at the ER with a severe throat infection. This is her second in five weeks. Christmas has been a bit of a downer because the kids and I have missed having Mom healthy. I must say that we are blessed to be healthy most of the heart goes out to those (some of you no doubt) who have seriously ill family and friends this Christmas. My prayers are for you.

Thanks to my friend Sabrina for sharing Christmas with us today...little did we know how much we would need your help when we invited you to spend the day with us!

Please pray for Debbie.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

Sabbath Day 23

I saw Two Towers for the second time today. It rocks. There are these uncanny moments when Peter Jackson shows me exactly what I pictured in my head. My favorite part of Fellowship was left out of the movie (the part where Sam, Merry and Pippen lecture Frodo on what friendship is all about. "We are going with you whether you like it or not...") My favorite part of Two Towers (and of the entire trilogy) is the discussion about the power and truth of story that Tolkien puts into the mouths of Frodo and Sam on the path to Mordor, just before the Gollum's betrayal. It was in a subtly different place in the movie, but still very moving. I personally think that it reveals Tolkien's key desire for writing the epic tale: story is more powerful (read: more real, more true) than facts. Modern people have a huge void in their hearts. We are the world's first anti-mythical, a-narrative society. We are addicted to facts and figures that choke out all creativity and paradox. In our pursuit of truth we have overdosed on data and suffocated in our own trivialities. We are the self-proclaimed sages of history and the first people foolish enough to believe that the most essential questions can be aswered in any other way but with a story.

Whle I'm ranting about story as truth...shame on us Christians for deflating the true story of the Gospel for a series of facts leading to some formula for eternal life. If there is a lack of respect for the power of the story in this culture it is the Church's fault for mishandling the most magical and true story ever told. If our theology and ecclesiology has moved past story to something "deeper", then we have been duped. It would be the equivalent of me leaving my family and friends for ten years to write an encyclopedia on true love. It's just modern Enlightenment crap to think that information matters more than narrative, but it's crap that all but fuels many of our lives and churches. I thank God everyday that I live in a novel and not a dictionary!

This concludes my movie review of The Two Towers.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Sabbath Day 21

Three of five weeks now completed. I must admit that at this point "doing nothing" is starting to feel quite normal. I'm both excited about the new things that January will hold and a little sad to think about this season ending. Hopefully, these last two weeks will continue to prepare me for working again. I am excited to blog about what I am confident is the "next thing" in my life, but I need a few more weeks of prayer and consulting before I go public with it.

I've dropped a little over ten pounds and I am starting to feel spiritually and emotionally lighter as well. Debbie and the kids are doing well-just dealing with the joys and frustrations of having me around so much!

Our house is finally set to close (again) tomorrow. We have been staying with Chris Duncan since Thanksgiving and he has been a gracious host...I'm off now to eat a low-fat Turkey meatloaf. Pray for me.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Sabbath Day 16-A Fresh Understanding.

I have had a rather peaceful breakthrough in this third week of resting.

Some thoughts about my calling into simple church life:

I would honestly rather live a life true to my calling than live a seemingly succesful life outside of my calling. God has called me to follow Jesus with my friends in simple church life. He has called me to pray for a church planting movement in my city and to encourage anyone who has the same calling on their life (whether they be Christian or pagan). As far as church and mission go, that's pretty much it.

Here is the peaceful breakthrough: It might not work. It might fail and I might look incredibly silly. I might embarass all of my Christian friends who used to be so proud of my "potential" to do amazing things "for God". I might even be an embarassment to myself and my family. It's all OK. Because I would rather be a faithful failure than a secretly disobedient success.

So if everyone in Apex leaves and goes back to the megachurch of their choice, I will be supportive of them and faithful to my call to simple church.

If there is no more money for Apex to support me, I will not worry or complain, but I will get a job and be faithful to my call to simple church.

If my closest freinds are called away from this vision and encourage me to go with them, I will miss them, but I will be faithful to my call to simple church.

If the media labels us a cult and calls me an extremist, I will pray for them and not respond, but I will be faithful to my call to simple church.

I would rather die poor, lonely, unnoticed and faithful than die comfortable, beloved, famous and a liar.

In the words of some other reformer, "Here I stand. I cannot, I will not recant."



Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Sabbath Day 13

I am so refreshed right now that it is hard to believe how frustrated and weary I was just a few weeks ago. I had no idea how much I needed this time to prioritize my life. I want to thank my friend Mike Steele for seeing this need in me. I would also like to thank the Apex community for this gift of time.

A few new ideas have crystalized over the last four or five days. I am very excited about them. I would have to say that I have a spirit of anticipation and honest hope for the future unlike anytime in the last three or four years. Finally, a little mania to mix into my depression! God is rapidly expanding my worldview and faith to see Him in so many arenas. Again, your prayers are coveted as my Sabbath nears its midpoint.

Wherever you are may He give you peace...and rest.

Friday, December 06, 2002

Sabbath Day 8

I am slowly falling into a daily pattern. I have been working out in the mornings, followed by a time of prayer and scripture reading. (I'm reading Ezek. now.) My mind is slowly defragmenting. I have had some new and refreshing ideas for the first time in a long time. The biggest learning so far is that I have severly limited my vision of what is possible in my lifetime. As much as I have tried to live simply and denounce materialism I have dicovered a hidden fear of not being able to make enough money to provide for my family and to help provide for my larger household. This fear must be honestly replaced with faith in a providing God. I know the opposite danger is to be idle or lazy and call it faith...I haven't known myself to be drawn to those sins. If anything I am tempted to work too much.

This all boils down to risk-taking is some form. So...for those of you who think that I am already a rather risky individual I am tempted to say, "You aint seen nothing yet." But that is a rather cheesy expression, so I will allow it to remain a temption and ask for your continued prayers for my faith and courage.

Your resting friend,


Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Sabbath Day 5

Resting is so hard...I don't know how. Today felt very frantic and busy. I have lost five pounds and shaved my Kevin Rains memorial beard. My 2 day trip to San Diego was good but one day too short. I felt that I had to leave as soon as I was breaking through. I will try to get back to where I was tomorrow. I did get to hang out with my new friend Jason Evans. You can read his blog...

I will try to refrain from anything close to a revelation until next year, but here is a journal entry from 2 nights ago as I sat alone and wrote my passing thoughts while meditating on the patio of a seafood place, eating Mahi Mahi and pondering the bay and the people passing by:

I'm sitting alone in a romantic restaurant on the San Diego coast...That would be a great opening line for a country song, except that this is exactly where I want to be.

The water ripples to prove that there is a wind that my face cannot feel.

From where I sit, I can see only one star, but I can hear three different languages.

I'm starting to feel that romance is unique to the human experience. It is not a lie and yet not quite a blessing. Just a mystery...Romance is a great human mystery...unless it is a Divine mystery that has somehow leaked onto us from above.

Of all of the manmade eyesores pushed against and into this harbor, one is most repulsive. The industrial plant seems evil tonight.

We are all deathly afraid of the dark. This would be such a scary place without the gas lamps and flickering candles.

The waters whisper to a traveler that there is peace a mile deep just one inch below the chaos.

Of all of the vile pollutants we have unleashed on the earth, nothing is as deadly or insidious as our constant rediculous noise-making.

There is something magical about the surface of the water that seperates us from the fish. We can fairly easily, though often inconveneintly, go to visit them whenever we want. But they cannot climb out to look at us. I wonder if there is a magical surface that seperates us from God...Perhaps it is the sky? No, it can't must be something of a different dimension than what seperates us from the fish...could it be time? Yes, it might be time. We cannot climb out of time because we breathe in time just like the fish breathe in water. But He can come to see would be as easy (and inconvenient) as me standing up and jumping into the bay. This is, of course, incarnation. To a fish it is a miraculous intrusion into aquatic history. To me it is exactly the opposite of a miracle. It is the humility of jumping off of a perfectly dry pier.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002


Today begins a 35-day sabbath. I am to learn to rest and pray. Please pray for me that I will not misuse these days. I am also going to begin a healthier lifestyle in regard to diet and exercise.

I will be going to San Diego this weekend to pray and isolate myself. I am thinking about attending a conference in New Mexico Dec. 27-29 by Richard Rohr, a Franciscan who has influenced me of late. Other than that I will be here in Vegas attempting to simplify and create space for God.

My friend Megan has agreed to save my cat...and there was much rejoicing...

Friday, November 22, 2002

Save My Cat?

Will anyone out there (in Vegas) save my cat? He is very groovy and friendly. None of the no-kill shelters will take him because he hasnt had his shoots for a few years. The pound is the only option and they will kill him if he isn't adopted within 72 hours. This could be a great lesson in the doctrine of redemption! E-mail me if you can help. I need to find him a home by Monday.
A Rather Difficult Week

Hello all. I have just finished moving all of my stuff into a storage unit. My house is set to close this afternoon, but it might get pushed to next week now. We are living at my friend Chris Duncan's house until ours is completed in May/June. Moving is hard.

Debbie, my wife, has been very sick for the last few days and was unable to help much with the move or with the kids. They thought she had mono, but now think it might just be strep (is that how you spell it? ) She is doing a little better today, but it sucks to be sick and homeless. I feel really sad for her.

The time has come for us to give up Cosmo, our cat of seven years. He doesn't seem to fit into our current or future living arrangements very well. I am sad about it, in a manly "its-just-a-cat" sort of way. I am searching for a no-kill shelter in town since all of my friends seem to despise the feline race.

There is nothing like having a deathly ill wife, an empty house and a lame duck family pet to make a creature a wee bit emotional.

My Sabbath starts this coming Thursday. Please pray for me. I may or may not blog during my sabbath.

Peace to you.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Too Many Saints, Too Little Time

St. Martin of Tours was a very cool dude. He started a monastic community planting movement thing in the days immediately following Constantine. (late 300's) His biography is public domain. Click here.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Be Ready

As followers of Jesus we are called to be ready and alert. Nearly every book in the New Testament eventually gives this command. I have come to believe that the opposite of being ready is being busy. The opposite of being alert is being distracted. Another way to see this command is to say that Jesus has called us NOT to be busy or distracted so that we can be ready to move with him (follow him) at any moment.

This is not the advice that you will find in the Management/Leadership section of your local Barnes and Noble. The "succesful" gurus will tell you to be proactive. Jesus says be reactive. The world will say prepare yourself and your environment. Jesus will say prepare yourself so that you can react to your environment.

I am currently preparing to wrap my life around three disciplines. I honestly believe that if I can create the proper space in my life for these disciplines God will take care of all of my secondary dreams and desires. I have come to see that devotion to these three expressions will lead me into all truth, so long as my heart is right before God. My disciplines?

1. daily prayer and solitude

2. repetitive reading of the Scriptures

3. extensive time with my friends

Sunday, November 10, 2002

See This Movie Fast

There is a Jerry Seinfield movie called Comedian (click here to go to the official site) in limited release and fading quickly...I've seen it twice. It is a must see for anyone who has ever thought about stand up comedy...Jerry freaken rocks...

Thursday, November 07, 2002

A Glance at the Dashboard of Life

My life friend and mentor Kevin Odor is always asking me about my "fuel tanks". He makes me gauge my energy level in three areas of my life: physical, emotional, spiritual. I hope to come out of my upcoming Sabbath fueled up in all three areas.

Today's readings:

Physical: I am less than half a tank. I am tired and have been a bit gluttonous of late. I have been much worse than this in years past, but I have been much healthier as well. After two nights of 8 hours of sleep, I am gaining momentum.

Emotional: Historically this has been my lowest reading of the three. However, I would have to say that I am at 3/4 right now. (I have never been full emotionally, so this is great news!) I can never remember a day when this was my highest is both encouraging and a little scary.

Spiritual: I am empty...just some fumes. I am not so much drawn to sin or evil (I seem to not even have enough energy to will to sin, if that were possible.) I just have no capacity to participate in the disciplines or to honestly love people these days. This tank is in crisis and must be the first to be addressed during the sabbath.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002


I am so weary these days that I cannot imagine having the energy to wake up the next day. When I am this tired, I hear the criticism of my life much louder than the encouragements. I have had some difficult criticisms of late that quickly internalized.

I am taking a five week Sabbath from Thanksgiving to New Years. I am so grateful for the time to rest and pray...but it feels like years away. I feel like a marathon runner in the twenty-fifth can I finish with absolutely nothing left to give me energy? I must trust God to keep me alive and alert...I look forward to being rested again someday soon. Rest is a gift from God and the only one that I desire today.

May He give you rest, dear reader.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Simple Church Explanation, Because People Always Ask...

This document came from our last No. American DAWN meeting...

A certain “DNA” seems to be present within the indigenous simple church movements of North America. This DNA, though unplanned, shows that God is moving in a universal and mysterious way among peoples who were not influenced by the same people or ways of thinking. Like all organic beings, the church has a DNA, a basic make-up that makes her what she was intended to be. The three categories that are making up the DNA of simple church movements in North America are:

1.) A commitment to truth as revelation through Jesus and the Scriptures.

2.) A commitment to an understanding of gospel that is fundamentally relational, nurturing and familial.

3.) A commitment to understanding that every church is apostolic (sent out) and missional (on a specific journey).

In English, we can use “DNA” as an acronym to teach these truths:

D - Divine Truth

N - Nurturing Relationships

A - Apostolic Mission

Divine Truth includes the following concepts:

· The Living and Triune God of Israel and our ancient Christian fathers and mothers is the rightful King of the universe.

· God’s Kingdom has come to us in Jesus Christ.

· The universal church is God’s people, living within the continuation of the true story of Israel, Jesus and the church.

· Jesus is himself the essence of Truth. Truth, then, is a person, the Divine Word.

· Jesus is the head of every church and He holds the agenda.

· The Holy Spirit guides the church into the reality of God and his ways.

· The Holy Spirit is at work today healing the hurting.

· The Bible is our sole curriculum for teaching, training and mission.

· God is in ongoing communication with his people in many ways.

Nurturing Relationships includes the following concepts:

· The primary metaphor for church is that of a family.

· Most churches will remain small in order to operate as a family.

· Leadership within the church closest resembles parenthood with spiritual mothers and fathers.

· The church family is inclusive to all people regardless of age, sex, race or socio-economic status since it is a witness to the availability of God’s Kingdom.

· The church is made of people who have voluntarily submitted to serve each other for God’s sake.

· The church is a participatory community, in which people share their lives with one another.

· Children are a blessing and a vital part of a church, showing adults how to truly enter the Kingdom.

· Each church is committed to loving other churches of Jesus-disciples since they are part of a wider family within the Kingdom of God.

· Finances and resources are shared as needed within a church family. Abundant resources are then given to the poor and to support church planting.

· Every church is a community of priests.

Apostolic Mission includes the following concepts:

· The church itself is apostolic (literally, sent into the world).

· The church is committed to encouraging and releasing disciple-making movements.

· “Organic” simple churches allow for churches to emerge within walking distance of every person.

· People are attracted to the church by the transformed lives of sinful people, the unique lifestyle of the church family (holiness), and the unconditional love that the disciples have one for another.

· Apostolically and prophetically gifted people lead missional initiatives within the church.

· Clusters of churches are networked and cared for by a team of evangelists, shepherds and teachers who equip disciples for ministry.

· Churches are called to disciple the nations.

· Many of the best leaders of the church are still in the harvest fields.

· The financial and other resources needed for church and mission are in the harvest.

· Overseers who act as models and mentors lovingly lead local churches.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Unrelated Meanderings

I have been traveling a lot of late. My trip with my boys was good. We went to Reno and logged some quality time together. I was able to connect with an old friend there which was very healing. It looks like Paul and Jamie Evans may be going to Reno to start simple churches there. I am excited about the possibility of sending them.

I just returned from the North American DAWN Associates meeting in Colorado. It was encouraging. I will share more later.

I am going to grow a beard becase my friend Kevin Rains looks so cool with his.

Pray about Sabbath for me. I need to rest in God.

I was not hired at the community college. Turns out they want me to be qualified or something stupid like that. That would take a minimum of 2 years, I don't know if I want to work there that badly.

Dave Nixon is coming to lead us in a multi-church retreat in Prescott, AZ this weekend...Dave's my protestant franciscan house renovaten' friend from Cincy...He makes me happy.

Debbie and the kids are going to visit Memaw and Papaw in Indiana this weekend. Pray for Debbie as she will be trapped in a plane with my kids. Pray for the pilot that he stays off the juice.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

This Week

I will be leaving Las Vegas this Thursday with my friends Joe Patton, Tommy Peterson and Jeff Flick. We don't know where we are going...or why we are going. We want to experiment with God and see where he takes us. I'm feeling a tug toward Reno, but we may go to Socal or to a Native American Reservation in Arizona. I hope that we can learn a little something about listening and praying apostolically. Pray for our experiment and I will let you know what comes of our time together.

Also, it looks as though our house has sold to the second people who looked at it. Escrow is set to close December 5.

Monday, October 14, 2002

Trusting or Testing

During my recent blogging sabbath I was confonted with the harsh reality that most of my adult life has been consumed with testing God. Testing is so close to Trusting that it is easy to confuse the two. The 40 day fast of Jesus models trust for us and it is there that we hear him say, "Do not test the Lord your God." What's the difference? I still cannot say that I fully know, but I am inclined to believe that Trust is knowing that God will be on the other side of whatever leap is next. Test is jumping just to see if God is there to catch. Trust comes from being full while the test is an act of empty desperation. It is a leap all the same, but it is the difference between the leap of a child into a father's arms and the leap of a grown man from a burning building. The child fearlessly jumps because the father is good. The man fearfully jumps beacause the fire is bad. Both find a better place.

My buddy Kierkagard would likely say that test comes before trust and I would have to agree with him from my own experience. I hope that he would agree with me in saying that after many years of testing, it sure does feel nice to trust once in a while. I think not that I was so much purposely sinning as a tester, but I now see that real life is saved for those who trust. And so, for me, comes the next and possibly most significant conversion of my Jesus Journey...shall I convert to life within a God-bathed reality and leave behind the matrix of fear and doubt? I think I shall...It is a great irony, but I see that my final test of God might be to actually TRUST him with my whole life.

A conversion awaits me. Yet another night of the soul is about to give way to the light of dawn. I can smell the morning sun approaching and feel the dew of change upon my feet...I will let you know when this conversion in me is at last complete. Until then, I trust you to him, dear reader.

Saturday, October 12, 2002

Another House Update

As it turns out, Tina changed her mind at the last second. We were, however, able to talk with her and may meet her socially again. Another couple is making an offer as we speak.

Today is busy: I spoke at Canyon Ridge, had a good breakfast with Zach and Shad from my hc, im leaving now for Jimmy and Nicole's quasi-hippie wedding, then im hanging out with my improv comedy team, then dinner at the Moreales....

Friday, October 11, 2002

House Update

A single lady named Tina is close to buying our house. Please pray for her. (It would be great for us as well, but my heart has gone out to her for some unknown reason.) It seems to me that God may be using this situation to draw her into the Kingdom. She may be a person of peace as well.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

What's Going On

Hello all. It's been a while. I must say that blogging takes a backseat when life gets crazy. Here's some stuff:

1. We are selling our house so that we can move into a new home in March with 2 other families. We are trying the "for sale by owner" route for now. If you know anyone wanting to move to NW Las Vegas with an extra $157,900 sitting around let me know.

2. I have applied to be a part-time prof. at the local community college in the philosophy and religious studies department. I am slightly less than qualified, but I have a shot and really want to try it. Please pray for God to open a door that I can walk through.

3. On the church planting front, we seemed to have crossed over 30 churches in the Apex network. My friend Ramon has been updating the Apex Website I have heard of 4 or 5 new churches that may have started in the last 2 weeks...that's cool. Apex celebrated five years last week with one of our best gatherings ever.

4. Yo estudio espanol a las community college of southern nevada todos los mates y jueves. Muchos hispanicos vives en Las Vegas (mas de 20% de la ciudad habla espanol solamente.) Jesus amore los hispanicos tambien. Oras por mis amigos hispanicos en Las Vegas.

5. I am leading 2 Tyrannus training classes using a more eastern guru-apprentice style. It has been a wonderful experience in both settings.

6. I am listening to a new John Adams book on CD and reading a book about Caesar's tenth legion. I'm in history-geek mode these days.

7. I am thinking about fully converting to Christianity, but I will explain what i mean by that at a later time.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

I'm Back

OK, I'm back. I have nothing to say except that I will blog again someday...

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

A Blog About Blogging

Good Reasons to Blog: To communicate with friends, to encourage others, to creatively vent pain and frustration, to express worship, to share new ideas, to save money on long distance bills...

Bad Reasons to Blog: To brag, to manipulate others, to fit in, to be popular,to be clever, to be smart, to be a smartass, to feel loved, to create a false more likeable self.

I need to work on my reasons for blogging. I'm fasting from my blog until I can feel clean about it again. Thanks for reading my thoughts. I hope to be back in a week or two...

Love you all.


Saturday, September 07, 2002

The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective by Rohr and Ebert

I read this book this week upon the recomendation of my friend Steve Thomason. As a general rule, I oppose all self-help books, but this one is different. The truths within are based on our theological narrative and a strong understanding of man's depravity and need for grace. It is the best book that I have read in 18 months.

Here is a taste:

"Our whole universe has to be rearranged truthfully before individual teachings can be heard correctly. What we have done for centuries in the West is give people new moral and doctrinal teaching without rearranging their mythic worldview. It does not work. It leads nowhere new-or nowhere truly old for that matter. It creates legalists, ritualists, minimalists and literalists, who always kill the spirit of a thing...the Enneagram...subverts our unconscience and truly "mythical" worldview so that God can get in. That was the precise function of most of Jesus' parables.

The subversive rearrangement of reality is called "conversion" and biblically has nothing to do with joining a denomination or accepting a new religious set of practices. I am personally convinced that this transfigured universe is the only thing that Jesus meant by "the Truth." This is the only Truth big enough to "set you free," which any little doctrinal or moral certitudes about anything cannot do."

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Movie of the Year

Go see My Big Fat Greek Wedding. This movie is a breath of cinematic fresh air during an "Attack of the XXX Spider-Clones" summer. Greek Wedding is the kind of movie that I would want to be in (not that any directors or casting agents are asking...) It's the interesting story of ordinary and ordinary looking people...

Friday, August 30, 2002


I would just like to thank "Ernie" Caldwell, Doug Parks and Greg Hubbard for being my friends. As I had lunch with them today I was able to look into the eyes of three grown men and know that I have been looking into their eyes since they were children. I have now lived more years on planet earth as Doug and Ernie's friend than I have lived a life seperate from them. (We meet when I was 13 and now I am 29...) I have known Greg for 11 years, since my Freshman year of college. Another great friend of mine, Jeremy Ohl, often says that "time is the ally of the man who uses it." I just want to thank these three men for moving to Las Vegas with me so that we could make time our ally.

I look forward to watching many of my current friendships grow in the same depth. I am especially excited about the opportunity to live in the same house with Kenny, Kelly, Jake, Gabriel, Doug, Cheryl, Emma, and Loradanna. (Yes, that's 12 people when you count my family...but its a big house.)

I drive a 1990 Toyota Camry and have no wealth accumulated in my bank account, but I am rich...filthy rich...unfair rich in friendships.

I have walked through the eye of the needle and found wealth on the other side.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002


Why do I hate conflict?

It hurts.

It scares me.

It threatens me.

It wastes my time.

It tempts me to prove myself.

It reminds my that I am a sinner.

It reminds me that my friends are sinners.

It reminds me that I must love my enemies...and my enemy is anyone who is hard to love.

Conflict is the tunnel through which love is shared between two sinners.

Jesus is the only person in all of creation who can guide us through the tunnel of conflict.

Jesus carved the tunnel at the cross and broke through the other side three days later.

We must follow him through the way of the cross.

Friday, August 23, 2002

The Gift of Tears

I do not cry often. I want to cry often, but I struggle with the actual making of tears. It sucks. Curses to the lies of machoism and stoicism.

I have, by God's grace, cried twice this month. The last time that I cried prior to this month was June of 2001 when I had to inform my life mentor, Kevin Odor, that I was being called away from Canyon Ridge Christian Church. This is the fist time that i have cried twice in the same month since I was 13 years old. I am so grateful for these tears.

I came accross a passage from the Philokalia while reading today. I would like to submit it to you, dear reader. May He give you the gift of tears...

"The fruits of the inner man begin only with the shedding of tears. When you reach the place of tears, then know that your spirit has come out from the prison of this world and has set its foot upon the path that leads towards the new age. Your spirit begins at this moment to breathe the wonderful air which is there, and it starts to shed tears. The moment for the birth of the spiritual child is now at hand, and the travail of childbirth becomes intense. Grace, the common mother of us all, makes haste to give birth mystically to the soul, God' s image, bringing it forth into the light of the age to come. And when the time for birth has arrived, the intellect begins to sense something of the things of that other world-as a faint perfume, or as the breath of life which a newborn child receives into its bodily frame. But we are not accustomed to such an experience, and, finding it hard to endure, our body is suddenly overcome by a weeping mingled with joy." --Isaac of Nineveh's Mystic Treatises

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Pilgrimage 2003

Maybe I'm still addicted to big churches, big conferences and big ideas.

Maybe I still dont understand the worth in the small, the simple, the normal.

Maybe I still want to be successful, famous or important.

Maybe I am still fundamentally an American consumer who loves a big show.

Maybe I'm still pissed off that I was born too late to be a hippie.

Maybe I still want the institutional church to see that we can be big too.

Maybe I still want to win the world for Jesus all at once through an event.

Maybe I am stupid for even bringing it up...

But what if we picked some farmer's field in Kansas and threw all of us simple church freaks (not just us respectable church planters-the whole freaky church) in mama's station wagon...and showed up with no agenda, no speakers and a bunch of tents, guitars and bibles...maybe or maybe not?

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

What about Ben?

I thought that some of you would want to know that Ben (see Ben's story below) e-mailed me. I don't think that he would mind me posting it for all to see:

"hey man. I'm moving up to new york tomorrow. my place is on the upper east side. if you or your buddies are ever around shoot me an email.

I don't need to be saved yet but i'll let you know if that changes.


Two of my buddies (Greg Hubbard and Jeff Flick) are going to NYC in October. Pray for them to find a "person of peace"...hmm...i wonder where they could find one of those...
The Way of a Pilgrim

Why, why, why haven't I read this book before? I'm sure many of you have and I am officially upset with you for not making me read it before now. The book, if you don't know, is the story of a Russian pilgrim in search for continual communion with God, which he finds through the Jesus Prayer. (Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner.)

When I read the first paragraph, I know that his story is my story as well...I am this pilgrim:

"By the grace of God I am a Christian, by my actions a great sinner, and by calling a homeless wanderer of simplest origins, traveling from place to place."

The first scribble in my book? "me too."

Saturday, August 17, 2002

Quebec/Boston Trip Update

Click here to see a report and pics from my recent missioanary journey to Quebec and Boston/New Hampshire.

Friday, August 16, 2002

Battle's End

As many of you know, this has been a rough week for your buddy Joe. Thanks for all of the support and prayers from around the nation.

As I was driving back to my office this afternoon I had a vision of a Roman soldier emerging from the dense fog of a cluttered battlefield. His bloody sword dragging behind him, his armor full of arrows and a significant slash on his left check. He just walked away from the battle, seemingly as the lone survivor. He wiped the carnage from his sword and slid it slowly into the scabbard. He never slowed his pace as he began pulling arrows from his leather shield and tossing them on the ground. He jolted his head to release the tension that had belt up in his jaw. It cracked. He never looked back. He was going home.

So am I. God whispered, "This battle is over, Joe. Go home and rest."

Deep and real peace to you and your beloved, dear reader.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Palmer's Rant

I have a church planter friend named Palmer in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio. I want to share an entry from his blog because its what i would have written today if i had the guts...

"I start simple churches; rather God starts simple churches and I do what I can to help. I do not want to help God start simple churches anymore, but when I try to stop, I can't. What I want to do is write a book, or be on the cover of whatever the newest, edgiest ministry magazine is this week. And I wouldn't mind being on TV, but only long enough to tell people that this will be my only appearence, because I'm too "indie" and "underground" to do public appearances. And I want to be invited to speak at the next "Emerging Church" conference. I could do a talk about "The Emerging Church And How It's Better And Stronger And Faster In Every Way Than How Church Has Always Been Done". And I want people I don't know from LA and NY and Chicago to call me on my cell phone while I drive to my next appointment and ask me to fly to their city and tell them how to do church and then they'll give me a lot of money, but I'll say "I don't need that. I live the simple lifestyle." But they'll insist and so I'll take it. And they'll tell all their apostolic friends about me, and then they'll link my blog to their blog so that the same scenario can happen all over again. And I want to be recognized. And I want to be thought highly of. And I don't want to be a nobody and I don't want to be a nothing and I don't want to die to my self and apparently I don't want to follow the Jesus of the Gospels either.

So I start simple churches. But apparently that's trendy now, too. So maybe if I start lots of these churches, I can call it a network, and I can still do all of the above...

Damn my ego to hell."

What to Expect

God has called some of my friends and me to start simple churches in Las Vegas and beyond. We have been trying to do this in some form or another for a few years now. The last two days have been some of the hardest along the journey. This is a sincere and humble warning to those who may choose to follow the same path...

Attn: Future Simple Church Planters--Count the Cost:

Expect pain.

Expect to be misunderstood.

Expect to be persecuted and expect it to come first from those who follow Jesus.

Expect to be maligned, attacked and ridiculed from all sides.

Expect to grow tired and weary.

Expect to want to give up.

Expect to lose many old friends. Expect to lose all of your friends where the "church" is the central reason for your friendship. Only your deep and Christ-centered friendships will endure.

Expect to be labeled. (a freak, a hippie, a cult leader, a quitter, a fraud, an idealist, a purist, a heretic, a divider, a communist, a jerk, an egomaniac, a devil worshiper) Yes, I've been called them all to my face.

Expect to weep...deeper and stronger than you ever have.

Expect to doubt your calling, your convictions, your path, your faith, and your life.

Expect to be lonely.

Expect to be seen as utterly unsuccessful.

Expect to die...nothing will be left of you. You will cease to exist. The last things in you to die will be your desire to be great for God and your desire to be happy. And then, you will finally...

Live. Expect life. Expect meaning. Expect to finally understand the prophets and apostles. Expect to know Jesus and his life...for that is all that you will have...and that is all that you need.

Jesus, deliver me from my pain and my agenda. Give me faith to love you more. May I share in your death, rejection, pain, and shame.

May I share in your resurrection.

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

"I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever follows me, though he will die, will live again."

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

A Normal Story

Today is a sad day. It will pass soon. On sad days I read my stories that I wrote on other sad days...for some reason that helps. Here is a normal story...

In another time and another place there was a village. The village was quaint and noble. Most everyone in the village would seem quite normal and kind to us. They all had normal families, normal jobs and normal habits. They ate normal breakfasts and took normal vacations. They had normal dinner parties and normal school dances and normal post offices. As a matter of fact, the name of the village was Normalville. There was only one thing in the whole village that we might consider abnormal…the people. To be quite specific, their faces would not be normal to you and me. You see, every normal person in Normalville had one mouth, one nose, two ears….and three eyes.

There was nothing more normal in Normalville than a three-eyed person. Two eyes placed right where you would expect, and a third eye planted square in the middle of their foreheads. It was this third eye that was the pride and joy of every normal person in Nomalville. Some had green eyes, others had blue, but everyone from the oldest man to the youngest girl had three…it was simply normal.

Now it came to pass that an evil witch who lived on the top of Mt. Normal had devised a most devious and evil spell. Her plan was to destroy the normal ways of Normalville by making every normal person…abnormal. For years she quietly and wickedly planned her attack. Until one exceptionally normal day when she unleashed her abnormal spell into the gentle breeze and rendered every normal person in Normalville blind in one eye.

It was a most tragic, abnormal day when every normal person in Normalville was blinded. The spell was so potent that the third eye of every person simply disappeared without a trace or without a mark. For years they cried and screamed and questioned why they had become abnormal so quickly. Generation after generation, century after century they searched for the reason for their abnormality.

Many years after the tragic event, there was no one left who had ever seen a normal person with three eyes. Everyone in Normalville had now grown accustomed to being people with two eyes. It was, after all, normal. But the people weren’t happy. As a matter of fact, every normal person in Normalville was only sad all the time. The doctors tried to cure the sadness, the philosophers tried to explain the sadness and the entertainers tried to cover up the sadness, but to no avail. Because, you see, something wasn’t right. Something wasn’t normal at all. Until one day, a most abnormal thing happened.

A little baby was born to a most normal two-eyed lady. And you guessed it! The baby had three eyes! All the mother could do was weep because her baby was so abnormal. The people grew so disgusted and frightened by this three-eyed baby that they had him killed “for the normalcy of Normalville”. It was too abnormal to look at…to abnormal for Normalville.

To this day, no other babies have been born with three eyes. And coincidentally, to this day no normal people in Normalville have been able to cure their sadness. Some have even started to say that being sad is just part of being normal.

Why I Am Afaid Today

I am afraid that we are going to screw it up. I awoke this morning with the stark realization that God actually is at work through the emerging simple church movements of North America. I am hearing about new ones literally everyday. It is already too big for any of us to control. I can see a posturing for position on a national level. I can see that not all ego, including my own, has died. I can see the death of our movement before it even has been fully birthed.

There will be, and already are, people who will take glory and credit for this movement of God. By his grace, let it not be me. And may it not be you, dear reader.

We are sinners and full of pride and arrogance. This movement will die the second that we attempt to control it or claim it. Let us never forget the full message that Jesus has brought to us:

"Repent, for the Kingdom of God is here."

Saturday, August 10, 2002

Garage Sale Confessions

Today I woke up at 5:30 to sell crap that I do not need or want to people who either, like me, don't need it or, even worse, actually do need it. This morning I was a capitalist and tonight it feels dirty. I can't stop thinking about the parade of Mexican immigrants who paid one dollar for a grocery sack full of clothes that for some reason I felt as though I should not be wearing anymore. I want to track them down and give them their dollar back. After all that has been given freely to me, who am I to charge someone for something that I don't even want? Ultimately I have come to the conclusion that if Jesus had a ceramic bunny that I wanted, he would give it to me freely without demanding 25 i did.

Some of you will say that I am being dramatic or overly hard on myself. Maybe you are right, but I cannot get the words of the Master out of my head tonight:

"Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you." Luke 6:30-31

Friday, August 09, 2002


Thanks to Kevin Rains for making my blog site look cooler than I am.
A People of The Story

Today we pause to learn from Lesslie Newbigin:

"Perhaps one final point needs to be made. If, in the postmodern world, we tell our story, we will be met with this rejoinder: "Yes of course. That is your story. But there are other stories. Why should I believe this one?" How does the Christian respond to this? Clearly we must resist the temptation to propose some supposedly more fundamental and more reliable truth on the basis of which the story of the gospel could be validated. Certainly we may try to show how the biblical story makes sense of human life in a way that no other can; but even this becomes clear only when one is a part of the story. In the end, the only answer we have to give is along such lines as these: "I have been called and commissioned, through no merit of mine, to carry this message, to tell this story, to give this invitation. It is not my story or my invitation. It has no coercive intent. It is an invitation from the one who loved you and gave himself up for you."

"That invitation will come with winsomeness if it comes from a community in which the grace of the Redeemer is at work. Whether or not it is accepted is not a matter in our power. To be anxious about it, to fret about it, is a sign of unbelief. The one who invites is in control, not we...We have to tell and live the story faithfully; the rest is in God's hands. What matters is not that i should succeed, but that God should be honored."

After the last sentence, which concludes his book, Truth and Authority in Modernity, I have written in the margin, "That sentence, if believed, changes everything." Turns out, for me, it did.

Peace on the journey...

Thursday, August 08, 2002

Ben's Story

Last night I caught a five hour flight from Washington DC to the city of my sojourn, Las Vegas. It wrapped up an 8 day church planting trip. I would like to retell the story of that flight tonight. I will tell it as a dialogue, but i will also let you see my thoughts, which will be in [brackets]

I was assigned 19 C.

[Good. An aisle seat.]

I sat down and tried not to talk to the girls in the seats next to me.

[I should talk to them. Its the nice thing to do.]



"Going to Vegas for fun?"

Girls-"Yeah. You?"

[I've had this conversation about a thousand times.]

"I'm going home."

Girls-"Why were you in Washington?"

[I wasnt.]

"Layover. I was in Boston."

Girls-"Business or pleasure?"

[Why did I start this conversation?]

"Both, I guess." [What's the difference, really?]

Girls-"Would you mind moving to the seat behind you so that my friend can see the movie?"


"No, not at all."

Girls-"Thanks, we'll buy you a drink."

[That's not necessary. Anything to serve you guys.]

"Thanks. I'll take a rum and coke."

Now I'm in 20 C.

[At least no one is in the middle seat. Just some kid in the window who looks like he doesn't want to talk.]

"Tonight's feature film is Spiderman starring Tobey Mc..."

[Seen it twice. Kinda cheesy. Better than reading some boring theology book.]

Movie ends some 2 hours later.

[Still cheesy. I should have read my theology book.]

I start up my laptop to read one of my original stories.

[I am a terrible writer. I write like someone who thinks they can write, but really can't]

Five minutes later.

[Did I write that? I'm freakin brilliant.]

I close up the computer and put it away. The kid next to me speaks.

Kid-"You a awtyer?"

{Did he say lawyer?}


Kid-"No. I said, are you an author?"

[Oh. I don't know. I never thought of it like that.]

"An amateur one I guess."

Kid-"So you havent been published?"

[Does "Christian Standard" count?]

"Kind of, I guess. I've had a few essays published.

[Feels like a lie, but its not.]

Kid-"I just spent six months in Brazil writing a screenplay."

[This is going to be a long story. We have another hour, what the hell?]

"Brazil, huh?"

Kid-"Yeah. But now Im going to Vegas to F--- around. Get f---ed up and sh--. Where are you staying?"

[Probably not a Baptist.]

"I live there."

[Dont ask what i do.]

Kid-"What the f--- do you do in Las Vegas."

[I f---ing plant churches.]

"I start new churches."

Kid-"No sh--."

[No sh--.]

"No sh--."

[I'm too tired to start a church with this guy tonight, God. Let me go back to my r&c and we'll call it a missionary journey. I'm all yours tomorrow.]

Kid-"How do you do that?"

[Never mind, God. I'm on the clock for one more hour.]

"We just start simple communities...people like you and your friends. We meet in people's homes, coffee shops, bars..."

Kid-"No sh--?"

[This is going to a funny story. I should blog it.]

"No sh--. We've seen about 30 churches start in Vegas and more around the nation.'

Kid-"You've built 30 church buildings?"

[Do you listen? You're drinking apple juice. If the one who should be a little confused.]

"No, we mostly meet in homes."

Kid-"Do they pay you a fee?"

[No, but there's an idea...]

"No, they just give whatever they want and we use the money to pay for trips like this and for people like me to start new churches."

Kid-"Dont take this the wrong way, but are you a cult?"

[If we were I would say no.]

No. We believe the Bible, same orthodox [Let's see if he knows any big words.] beliefs as other Christians. You know, God, Jesus, all that. A lot of people in our churches havent been to church before."

Kid-"That's me. I dont know anything about Christianity. So you believe in heaven and hell?"

[Yes, but probably not what you are thinking right now.]


Kid-"Do you think God created the world in seven days?"

[That's your second ever spiritual question? I have no idea.]

"I think that's at least what God wants us to believe."

Kid-"I'm moving to NYC. Some of my friends there could use a church like this. Maybe we could exchange numbers and you could visit us on your next trip."

[Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner. A real live person of peace. Thanks, God. I love this stuff. Its a ton more fun than the four spiritual laws.]

"No sh--?"

He laughs. We exchage info. He invites me for drinks at Balleys. I decide to go home and see my first church, my family.

kid-"I'll email you when i get to New York."

[I'll email you tomorrow.]

"Cool, it was good to meet you, Ben. Be good tonight. Call me if you get too messed up."

He laughs: "I will, bro."

Please pray for Ben.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

I am back in Vegas after an 8 day trip to Boston, Quebec City, Montreal and Manchester, NH. I am excited to tell the stories, but not tonight. Im hella tired.

Aidan, my 11 month old, is walking like crazy. He was just stumbling around when i left.

Tomorrow I will write about a guy named Ben who i met on my flight from Dulles to Vegas.


Sunday, August 04, 2002

Tonight I lose my blogging most people I was pressured into by my friends after a few beers. I'm in Manchester, New Hampshire with Jeremiah Smith, an old friend of 12 hours, wrapping up a week-long church planting trip with Kevin Reins, a buddy from Cincy...

Tommorrow I go to Boston for the first time. No lie-I actually heard a guy yell, "Chaage him, Nomaaa!" at an Irish Pub tonight during a Red Sox game. I miss my wife and kids and will see them this tuesday.