Monday, July 28, 2008

A Tale of Two Kingdoms

I've been a little overwhelmed with requests for a copy of my fairy tale that I read this weekend at VCC. I'm happy to share it with anyone who'd like to read it. The easiest way is to read it online. I posted it a while ago at I read two chapters this weekend, but all nine chapters of the first book are online. The second book is about half finished.

Lots of people have asked about publishing. I've tried rather half-heartedly to get it published through the years, but nothing has come of it yet. I may give it another run now and see what happens, but I think the main thing is to make it available if it proves helpful to people.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


I spoke a few blogs back about being tired. I am thoroughly surprised at how tired I am. It's not tired like I want to sleep or even waste a night in front of the TV. I'm idea tired. Maybe it's a full year of writing messages, screenplays, stage plays, videos, strategic plans and stories. Perhaps my current level of creative exhaustion has something to do with the amazing level of creative freedom I have been given lately. New ideas are normally the most exciting thing you can throw my way, but for the last two weeks they haven't done it for me. New ideas have been bouncing off me as if they were made of rubber. To be honest, writing this blog is a bit of a chore tonight. And as you can probably tell already, it's not even that great of a post. There is no way this is getting into my blog post hall of fame five years after I retire from blogging. But, alas, at least it's honest.

This coming weekend should be my last great creative burst before some time away. I can already foresee some excitement in the next run this fall. If I were Brett Favre I'd retire and come back in three weeks...but as it is, I'll just take a vacation.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Here and There.

I had a great time at Southbrook Christian Church this weekend. It was fun to see our old friends Shawn and Amy Case, as well as Fred Brooks and his family from my home church in Worthington. I think I've had six or seven speaking engagements since moving to Cincy. It has all been part of the strange journey this year - thrown back into vocational ministry with a little whiplash to prove it. I have always enjoyed finding that ebb and flow between being grounded in a local community and visiting other places from time to time. It gives you a broader perspective on the state of the church and, at least it my case, stirs up my passion for life on the homefront.

Next week we'll wrap up The Lord's Prayer series at VCC. I'm looking forward to that too. And...speaking of the homefront, Dave's new book, The Outward Focused Life, is now available. Check it out below:

Friday, July 18, 2008

Vacation Awaits

As a general rule of thumb, when you don't have a "real job" you can't take a "real vacation." Two ways of thinking about that I guess. Since I was primarily freelancing for the last five or six years, we could never really leave town for an extended period of time. The upside to the downside was that whenever work slowed down, I'd find free time to hang with the family or do whatever. Life was full of mini-vacations.

Things are different now. I'm hitting the eleven month mark at VCC and starting to feel one-year tired. (I've found that there are different levels of tired - one-day tired, one-week tired, ten-years tired.) They all require different forms of rest to recover from. One-year tired is best solved with a few weeks of doing none of things that caused you to be tired in the first place...and that's what we are doing. Our first real vacation since the kids were babies. It all starts Aug. 5 and I will be completely ready for it.

Before then, I have three more weekends to teach and a few dozen meetings to attend. This week I'm up at Southbrook Christian in Dayton and then we wrap up the Kingdom Cliffsnotes series at VCC the following week. I'm hoping to finish strong and rest hard when it's over. (And then come back...the best vacations are about two days too long so that you want to come back.)

Hope you find some rest this summer too...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Recommended Kingdom Reading...

We are knee-deep into Kingdom CliffsNotes, our VCC series on The Kingdom and The Lord's Prayer. Here are nine books I recommend for further study on the topic if you have an interest. This is an Amazon link, but you can also get them through the VCC Bookstore if you are a Vineyardite.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Way to go, Miah!

My friend Jeremiah Smith has had a pretty good week. Miah finished 146th out of nearly 7,000 in the main event of the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. He was actually leading the world championship at the end of Day Three (Thurday). He busted out earlier today taking a few unlucky flops with better cards. I couldn't be more proud of him.

Miah and I first met when he was a pastor in Manchester, NH. Right after we moved to California, Miah and Melissa moved to Vegas. They literally took our place at our house church and Miah was able to teach some at Apex in my absense. In fact, my first blog post ever was written at Miah and Melissa's house in NH on August 2, 2002...the first day I met him.

God is using Miah in a unique way. His recent press is well deserved...please take the time to read this article at ESPN. It's more about his faith than poker: Jeremiah on

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Wall-E is my movie of the year so far. It's Pixar's version of The Matrix, attempting to craft the existential issues of our time into a new mythic world. Joseph Campbell, George Orwell, Ayn Rand and Isaac Asimov would be proud. It's a kid friendly movie for thinking adults...high recommend.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Parable of the Brick Wall

Imagine a brick wall.

What you are imagining is not nearly big enough. Imagine yourself standing in front of a massive brick wall. Now, look to the right. The brick wall continues as far as you can see. Now look to the left. It has no end. Look up. As far as you can see - past the clouds and into outer space. The brick wall never ends.

Now imagine that this brick wall is real. And that it exists in the future. This is the wall that separates the past and the present from the future. Behind the wall exists Heaven. Heaven is a good place and you'd like to be there. What little we know of Heaven is mysterious, but we know that it is a good place - no death, no mourning, no crying, no pain. God reigns in Heaven with a loving rule. Heaven has the power to heal.

Now imagine a homeless man standing in front of the brick wall. He is in his early thirties. He eyes the wall with a crazed look. He clinches his right hand into a fist. The muscles in his forearm tighten. His triceps and biceps bulge. With one massive swing he punches the wall with his bare fist. The wall is unharmed. It's a brick wall. The man's knuckles turn red as he makes his fist again. He punches the wall harder. Blood spurts in all directions. Several bones in his hand shatter. His eyes glaze over like a soldier in a firefight. He wails on that wall. Swing after swing. Punch after punch. Eventually every bone in his right hand is broken. It is mangled - a bloody useless stump. He takes a breath. He thinks. Then he makes a fist with his left hand and begins to punch the wall over and over until that hand too is shredded and useless.

Remember, this man stands in the future. But word of his insanity reaches the present and the past. Someone is trying to release Heaven. This news threatens the powerful - the tyrants and despots, the violence peddlers, the religious con artists, the greedy self-centered tycoons. From the past and the present, these violent men rush into the future all the way to that brick wall. When they see the man, they attack him with sticks and metal rods and rocks. The man takes their blows with an unshakable gaze targeted directly on that wall. When he gets a foot free from their grasp, he kicks the wall breaking his toes. He knees the wall, shattering his kneecap. As the evil men beat him down, he manages one last open handed slap on the wall before he collapses...and then he dies.

Arrogant and proud, the evil and powerful men from the past and present turn around and stroll back to their time and place, leaving the man’s lifeless body to decay.

And then the most remarkable thing happens. One brick, about five feet from the ground starts to shake. The mortar around the brick cracks. The brick shimmies. The magic of Heaven pushes the loosened brick forward until it falls squarely on the back of the dead man.

And then all of history holds her breath as Heaven begins to leak. Just tiny droplets at first. Heaven trickles out of that hole in the wall and lands on the mangled, lifeless hands of the homeless man. When Heaven touches his hands they are instantly healed. Heaven drips on his feet, his knees. And eventually, Heaven splashes on his heart. The man's life returns. He stands to see the hole in Heaven's wall. He sees Heaven beginning to flow out of the future toward the present. He smirks and turns on his heels and sprints from the future, through our present and into our past. He sprints back to first century Palestine and pokes his head into human history. Breathless and battle-tested, he speaks one message to anyone who will listen. "Heaven is coming!" He didn't say, "You can go to heaven," but "Heaven is coming to you." He cried out, "Get ready. Turn toward the future and away form the past and present. Align yourself because Heaven is coming!" Even as he said these words, Heaven was beginning to flow into the past from the future. "Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!" It's all he could think to say to us…it was the whole reason he came.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Power of a Milkshake

When I was 13 years old I moved from Ashland, Kentucky to Worthington, Ohio - just north of Columbus. I was a chubby kid with a thick Appalachian accent, brown glasses and a salad bowl haircut. We moved in the summer just before my eighth grade year. When school started I couldn't buy a friend. I was made fun of everyday for the way I looked or talked or acted. I've had a few rough years as an adult, but 1986 was the worst of my life. Through the real, enduring pain of that year the true course of my life opened up. That year taught me that pain eventually passes, or more truthfully, we eventually pass through our pain. The pain changes us. Without that year of pain, I may not have had the courage to make the big moves of my life - to Las Vegas, to LA, to Cincinnati. Without that pain, I may never have noticed the pain in others' eyes. Everything I do is informed through the eyes of the outcast and unwanted...I see everything in every room I enter through those eyes. As a teacher and storyteller, I see through those eyes.

What got me through the worst year of my life? A milkshake. Specifically, a 28 year-old ex-jock buying me a milkshake at The Dairy Queen on Sawmill Road in Dublin, Ohio. I have no idea what we talked about. I can't remember anything about that meeting except that we met at that particular DQ. I just know that that guy was my first friend in Ohio. I know that he introduced me to some other kids who accepted me. I know that he stood beside me when I made a public commitment to enter ministry. I know that he flew 3,000 miles on his own dime to be my best man in my wedding. I know that I followed him to Las Vegas with my wife of six months because I couldn't imagine wanting to be anywhere else. I know that he was among the first to hold both of my babies. I know that he patiently and selflessly waited for me to learn hard lessons in my own time. I know he continued to love me through my worst mistakes and through my multiple career changes. I know that his brother is the reason I'm back in vocational ministry.

I'm just saying, a milkshake goes a long way. We just spent the last two hours together. This time he bought me coffee. Maybe at some point I should start paying for these meetings...