Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Since we're all friends here right?

First I'd like to preface this post by saying I never meant to be wrong. I have been trying to be aligned with Christ since the first day I recognized his voice calling me from my despair. Jesus continues to work on me just like he works on you. I'm not making excuses just kind of a "positional statement", or nope, its an excuse.

Monday evening I started thinking about the AIDS epidemic and my position and the church's position and realized, to my horror that 1) I hadn't thought about it seriously in a long time (even though we pray daily for Pantso LeFatso whose family has been decimated by the virus)and 2) That I changed my position on it as it relates to the church. You see, much of what I've learned from people defined AIDS as God's consequences for promiscuity, homosexuality, and intravenous drug abuse. I hate that I had that position as much as Jesus does but we are called out to feed his sheep and well, what if we don't like sheep? What if we'd been told that sheep are bad and cattle is really where God wants us. Isn't it Christ's job to change our hearts? I rejoice again and again over this simple change in heart. I told myself it probably doesn't mean much more than an outward sign of an inward growth. When I got home I told my wife that my new thought on the AIDS epidemic is that if it is of God its only to separate the wheat from the chaff of the church by seeking those with compassion for those suffering from the societal implications of this runaway scourge. She said it was funny that I should say that because she was asked earlier that day to accompany a friend to get the results of her AIDS test because she didn't really know how it would come out and she needed someone to be there with her in case she was positive.

I'm sorry humanity for denying you my prayers and my compassion. I'll keep letting Jesus take the wheel and save you from me.

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener"

Ultimately, every human circle is doomed to dissolution if it is not caught up in the life of the only genuinely self sufficient circle of sufficiency, that of the trinity. For that circle is the only one that is truly and totally self sufficient. And all the broken circles must ultimately find their healing there.

Dallas Willard

I was contemplating the person of Jesus this morning during my drive into work and how we are the branches of the true vine. I thought about the cross-section of a vine and what it might look like compared the the cross-section of one of the branches. Both circles and quite similar but also very different. First of all, the branches aren't connected to the root so as branches we have no root unless we abide in Christ. The vine is then the source of nourishment for the branch. A look at the outer bark of the branch and of the vine also is revealing. Our skin is tender and supple and yielding. The farther the branch is away from the vine, the more tender and vulnerable it is. That is where we can be easily wounded but it is also where the fruit is produced. The closer the branch is to the vine the stronger it is but a short branch with thick skin bears no fruit. We need to count on Christ's strength and purposefully let him pour his life into the tender vulnerable parts of us so the fruit will come.

Another observation is that I've never seen a huge bunch of grapes hanging from a solitary branch attached to the one true vine. A grape vine has many branches and they actually help support each other when the fruit is produced so that by the strength of many they can stay attached to the vine and not be separated by wind or sleet. So then I will daily live my life as a branch among the branches, securely at one with the vine, reaching out in tenderness and vulnerability and allowing Christ to burst forth fruit in our advance.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

As Solomon said, "There is nothing new under the sun"

In necessaries unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritus

“In essentials unity, in doubtful questions liberty, in all things charity”

St. Augustine 418 A.D.

I've never heard a Christian disagree on the fact that we have an omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, omni-omni God. I listened to a debate yesterday between Doug Pagitt, (a leader in the Emergent Church conversation) and Bob DeWaay (wow, Bob, your name is synonymous with your viewpoint). The debate was very interesting and I can certainly see both viewpoints but I really pray that somehow, as The Church we can allow charity and liberty to grow us to unity. To think that the Holy Bible or someone's own personal statement of faith, or a statement of faith of an entire church for that matter should limit how we worship God or how we communicate his presence to each other is in fact suggesting that there are some limitations on the power of the Holy Spirit. I am resistant to that. I am excited that Joyce G. shared in church this past Sunday that the words we speak somehow are not only poured out on one another but are also absorbed in our own hearts. I know that Jesus taught us to love each other. I don't know how far we are supposed to take that in some respects but I trust that the Spirit within me will be my guide. I also trust that the Holy Spirit is the litmus test for what it means, personally, to "abide in Christ".

Sunday, March 26, 2006


Vanity, of heart of mind
a soul with all the answers
brings not a thought or word divine
but rather is a Cancer

humility on the other hand
with Love and Grace outpouring
will fill our hearts and fill our minds
and send our spirits soaring

In Advance Mode

Church today

awesome sermon on charism today by Rev. Ken Nash, more specifically healing. I had a difficult time not shouting a "Wooo" and punching the air. I would have but I try to be sensitive to the seekers at this service, don't want to chase someone away their first day visiting, and one was sitting right in front of me. This particular "service" is held in our high school gym due to the lack of room at our sanctuary and to the reluctance of some seekers to enter into a church building. Its an outreach. After this service we went to the sanctuary where about 70 of us worshipped together and discussed Galations 2:20. To be honest I didn't have any thoughts prepared on the verse. The time together was great though and its a chance to just build a relationship with a bunch of people I don't get to be with often. The talk ventured from the verse into practical living in the truth of the verse and I certainly have a lot to say about that.

I took the boys to the park this afternoon. The winter has birthed a protective/controlling spirit in me over the dog and the boys. I found myself calling them back when they got just a little outside of around 200 ft. Once I noticed this I sat down and became an observer rather than a keeper. Coleman would "race" out in ever-widening circles and return yelling "I win!" as I pulled him into me and planted a kiss on his forehead. The dog chased birds out of sight but came racing back. Calvin, ever the independant one, barely knew anyone else was around but didn't venture too far, just far enough to gather pockets full of acorns. It was peaceful to hear the mourning doves singing their love songs, the teens leisurely playing a game of horse, and watching my sons make guns out of sticks and conquer the entire park. They are fierce. The boys are warriors.

Prayers up for an increase in the movement of the Holy Spirit in our church. Prayers up for my son (I think I still have another one) who is flying to Arizona tomorrow for Spring Break. Prayers up for those who have lifted their butts out of the pews to join in the battle, may they be strong in the Lord and not be discouraged. Prayers up for my older daughters who are blooming into absolute beauties. Prayers up for my life-giver, my beauty, my crowning jewel of creation, she sure has her hands full every day with these toddlers. Prayers up for Tim and Chamille, they've recently joined a different statistic and need encouragement and wisdom. Prayers to you, whoever you are who took the time to read this bit of life as it is being lived, in advance mode.

Book Rave

Since I started down the list of the 40 books that precipice ezine calls a "post-modern canon for the emergent church" and am very pleased with Richard Foster's "Streams of Living Water". I find it encouraging when I compare what is going on in my local church with Foster's report of "church" somewhere around 425 A.D. in Hippo. The congregation of the day was interractive with St. Augustine as he preached, "It was common for the congregation to break into the sermon- applauding when they were pleased, interrupting when they were confused, shouting and heckling when they disagreed." I'm encouraged because I feel, in my heart, that is the type of "togetherness" Jesus expects. I feel like a complete idiot sucking the life out of our young pastor and relying on him to bring us the next big "ahah" when it should be our desire to "put on the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." To that end I pray that I bring, Good Father, what promptings, musings, longings, questions, etc. that the Spirit presses on me to your Body in celebration of the Sabbath.

Last week we had someone ask what the reader meant by "seeking" God (the reader repeated the word 'seeking' many times as he discussed different scripture) when God is omnipresent. I, like my wife, sensed a little hostility in the questioners tone. Leslie was concerned that this type of thing might be offensive to some and create fear in the Body so that people didn't share. My personal feelings on this is that the question was handled well and the spirit in which it was presented was thoroughly under attack evidenced by the questioner insisting he explain "he wasn't trying to put anyone on the spot" to me as we were leaving. Oh how our Father lays bare our iniquities in his truth. I trust that this is one more way that God is preparing us for even greater ministry, opening our festering wounds to cleanse and heal. Its so easy in the traditional church model for a myriad of sins to infest the bowels of the church like a worm and causing anemia in the fruits. And as always, "The truth shall set you free".

Hesed Shalom

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Oh Great Joy!

All week I've been longing for a little quiet time. Leslie and a bunch of the church ladies (is bunch the correct term or should it be gaggle?) had a "pamper me and eat together and worship and study" time at church so she came home refreshed. I was working (I do side work close to home) with a young friend of mine and spent a great deal of time in fellowship. I'd really like to share some beauty about our discussions but I can't until the right time comes. I returned home about the same time Leslie did. We shared some time together, played with the little kids for awhile then served them some dinner. The house got so loud and the time spent outdoors this morning made me tired and impatient. My superfresh beauty and my awesome daughter took the kids to the park to let me have some quiet time. I didn't ask her, she just gifted me with it. Wow! It seems like its been forever since I could call out to Jesus out loud and have a sit-down conversation with no distractions. Thank you maker of all things for pouring into me. Thank you for the heart wash. I've been reading alot about the emergent church. I think there is some misconception by either me or alot of other people. I don't think its as dangerous to doctrine and "religion" as some do. I don't think its even something that is intentional (by that I mean an organized assault on the traditional church model) but rather a response to an increase that I have definitely noticed. By increase I mean the movement of the Holy Spirit, the desire of the Church to be more effective in sharing the good news, a desire for "a closer walk with thee". This "modern" and "post-modern" talk is new to me. What I know is this, without using a large vocabulary, people meet Jesus through love, people grow in Christ through fellowship. People become like Christ because they die to their fleshly desires and surrender themselves to be made anew. I like the idea of taking God out of the church and into the lives of people.

Family is back so I'm gone.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Father Knows Best

I had a question from a co-worker this morning and whether it is unusual for a company to have rule regarding “fraternizing” between employees. It seems that he has a friend who is upset about someone getting favorable treatment by a manager due to a personal relationship (not intimate, just friendship outside the store). Its difficult to put myself in the shoes of the people involved but I have been given one morsel of wisdom as a gift of letting go of many years of frustration and it is very applicable here. Relish being put under the authority of others no matter whether you “think” you should be or not. God has a plan for our life and in his infinite wisdom he is infinitely in a better position to know what is good for my heart than I am myself. I see the world through a limited, wounded, selfish viewpoint whereas God knows every choice I will make beforehand and has had the consequences in place since the beginning of time. What a freedom it is to put the outcome in God’s hand and live a life of being his student. Yahweh look what you’ve done for me!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

This is bliss

I have six children. My oldest son is 16, almost 17. I have two daughters 14 and 15 and a daughter 4. Finally, I have twin boys that are 3. These pics are of the little ones in blissful slumber. I love to see them sleeping with not a care in the world, worn out from living life to its absolute nth degree and not apologizing to anyone for it. They are teaching me much about the Kingdom of God.

My Desire in Shortstroke

I was reading "Streams of Living Water" last night after men's group at church and come to realize that for the past year or so the Holy Spirit has been at work "de-churching" me to open my heart. We discussed the heart transformation last night and how sometimes we are to commit to study, worship, fellowship, prayer, etc. out of obedience and love for Jesus and while we present ourselves "before" God in our obedience he changes us. No amount of diligence on our part can create this change in us (showing why many secular methods of treating certain psychological disorders may show short-term success but lead to long-term failure) because WE do not make the change, we only come to the feet of he who makes the change. The world desires and needs people who have put every personal agenda and desire for personal gain aside and can meet people eye to eye and face to face and hand to hand with a sincere desire to love them where they are at and to help them as they need helped. This is what being a disciple of Christ means, not entering into discussions of sacraments or beliefs or any of that stuff that causes division but to unite in the Son and find the commonality of the body of Christ. Hey, if you like to burn incense when you contemplate the person of Christ, great, I never have but I'd sure like to try it and I think I'll pick some up at the store this afternoon and give it a go.

Love and Peace!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Sam and Leslie Posted by Picasa

Should've explained "A Day in Advance Mode"

Matthew 7:12 "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been suffering violence, and the violent have been seizing it by force."

Now this doesn't mean that I have declared some kind of physical "Holy War" but rather I feel that in order to advance the Kingdom of God we need to take every opportunity to serve with complete abandon wherever and whenever we are called. We are to hit our knees in the midst of want. We are to hold priceless the value of the human heart and go to the outer limits of our comfort and resources to protect the hearts of the people that God puts us in contact with.

Phoebe Palmer and a morning of JOY

If you get a chance check out the life of this lady, wow what a difference she made in the lives of men and women she impacted in her lifetime.

I awoke this morning at 5:10 a.m. to my wife coughing and wheezing. So many times we are faced with undesirable circumstances yet fail to reach to the promise, the path, the power that Christ affords through the spiritual gifts he afforded his apostles and continues to pour out in our lives. If only we ask for that extra energy, that precious wisdom, that spirit of truth, and healing (be it physical, emotional, or spiritual). I asked and received. I touched my wife on her arm and prayed a prayer of healing and comfort and rest and returned to peaceful slumber for another hour.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I start as a blogger

I wrote to Shirley Nielsen today in preparation for my trip to Kokhanok. I'm tired of waiting for something to happen that I can be a part of, I'm going to start something. Something rich, something real, something full of pain but well worth the cost. Don't we all count the cost? What if the cost balances out to the most fulfilling LIFE I can possibly imagine? Wow is it hard to concentrate on doing just life the everyday office affords. I need to feel the wind in my face and the frost on my head. I need to hear the still soft voice riding on the tortured landscape of Alaska. I need to shout to the mountains that there is victory in Jesus and that he is not safe, not tame, not lying around eating grapes and telling parables! He's walking for hours in the dust and lying down beside a well, parched and dry, to tell a slut that he is the source of living water and that he loves her.