Friday, November 11, 2005

Launching the Pat Patrol

Back in the 1990's sports fans around the country engaged in the "Wayne Watch" - a vigil to see when Detroit Lion's coach Wayne Fontes would be fired. It became an ESPN staple as the flamboyant Fontes rode the roller coaster that is Lions football.

I'm starting the Pat Patrol. Our purpose is to catalog the seemingly endless series of inane remarks that flow from the mouth of Pat Robertson. The secular media loves Pat, because he is a great source of inflammatory remarks and material for late-night comedians.

His latest pronouncement is a doozy. He is telling the people of Dover, PA not to call on God if a calamity comes their way, because they rejected school board members who favored the introduction of intelligent design. What God is he talking about?

Even in the Old Testament Prophets where Israel was getting pummeled for their idolatry and neglect of God's laws, God made it clear that he wanted them back. Sure there were consequences, but there was always some hope of redemption after repentance. Pat didn't seem to leave much room for repentance and redemption in his comments.

Intelligent design is a watered-down Deistic theory that nature is too intricate to be left to chance. The Designer is as vague as the Higher Power in AA meetings. It's a start, but it is only a small step. Why on earth would a Christian call down fire and brimstone for a half-measure at best? If we are going to toast some people, let's at least make it a real hill to die on. Not a molehill as this one is.

I reiterate my call to take away Pat's microphone before he speaks again.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Dig a well

I love this modern parable about well diggers and fence builders. It harkens me back to my days in the South Dakota Department of Agriculture when we were helping protect rangeland by promoting cross fencing and water system improvements. It rapidly became evident that 1) Cows aren't stupid; and 2) if you want the cows to move away from the streambanks, you have to provide alternative water sources.

The cows, in pure self-preservation instinct, stay close to the water supply that they know. They will destroy all of the grass around that area if water in another location is not provided. And even after the water is available, the cattle have to be led to it. And putting up cross-fences with gates is a good way of getting them to go to the new pastures.

There is a ministry lesson there. First, we need lots of water sources to steer people toward. And not all of them have to be inside the church walls. Second, we have to lead and prod when necessary. Cows get comfortable with the known, and tend to stick with what they know works. Churches are like that too. Sometimes it takes a leader to move them to new pastures and new sources of sustenance. The trick is finding a leader willing to lead and matching him/her with a congregation willing to move.

The churches who don't move end up with weeds along the banks and little good food and muddy water. And they wonder why they don't thrive.



Stuffing the Dog

What a mental image that is. Not that we are thinking of it in light of the previous posts about our dog's health issues. Rather, it is about our tendency to hang onto that which has passed. Instead of burying the dead, we tend to try to hang on to it, like Frank in the Hotel New Hampshire. He stuffed the family dog in an attack position as a Christmas gift. The law of unintended consequences causes a grandparent to open a closet, the stuffed canine to fall, and the grandparent to die of a heart attack. Lesson here - bury the dead or bad things happen.

Check out this article on this subject. Too often in the church we hang on to programs and services that have had their day and need to be buried. I'm not going to go into the holy wars over service types and times. But numbers and interest do not lie. If the people have walked away, bury it, hold a service and move on. Put your energy among the living and energetic. Jesus didn't spend his time converting Pharisees and Saducees. He went where there was potential and interest. He didn't go to the field of dry bones, he went to the living. And we should do no less.

Friday, October 28, 2005

A long goodbye

We received some good news this week. Hannibal, our beloved 12-year old Lab/Golden Retriever mix, is not as near death as we thought he might be. The vet told us he had about 6 months to go in April, and he is noticeably thinner, but she said he looks pretty good, all things considered. But even in the midst of the good news, I managed to find a negative. I began to think that he might die in the winter, which will greatly complicate our plans for his final resting place. I can't dig a hole in frozen ground very easily.

God forgive me. Here I am worrying about how this will inconvenience me as a rush to say goodbye to someone who has selflessly given himself to me for so long. He has been the best dog we could have hoped for since his days as a little furball chewing machine through our children growing up and beating on him and now in his golden years the stiff movements and confusion that seems to be setting in.

I know he is a dog, not a person. But we can learn a lot about grieving, love, suffering and friendship from our pets. Sometimes I have to carry him up stairs or pick him up when his hips give out. I have to entice him to eat by changing up foods, adding special treats and other things because he is losing weight so rapidly. But I owe him that.

He has been our ever-present companion for years. He protected my wife when she was pregnant, guarded the kids, played with the neighbors and kept the squirrels off of the pumpkins on our porch. He was always ready to play, tolerated us dogsitting for friends, and traveled from South Dakota to Michigan several times.

It's hard to watch him go slowly. But his quality of life is still pretty decent. And I keep reminding myself it is not about me. It's about me serving another. It's about compassion and love, not scheduling.

Pray for me. This is a life lesson I need to learn. It won't be the last time I lose a friend and loved one.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

My new favorite word

I love words. I love new ones, big ones, ones that mean interesting things, and ones that just sound cool as they roll off your tongue. I heard one several times this week that I had not heard in a long time, and I love it.

Bloviate (ing) - to speak or write verbosely and windily.

I'm watching the spectacle of bloviating Senators lecturing John Roberts, nominee for Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, under the guise of questioning the nominee. Some, such as Swimming Ted (hic!) Kennedy and Plagarizing Joe Biden, had to be repeatedly reprimanded by the Judiciary Committee chair to allow Roberts to answer the question they had just posed.

These blowhards in the Senate are so used to hearing their own voice that they cannot even ask a question and allow time for an answer before they begin talking again. Howard Kurtz nailed this embarrasing practice in his column "Supreme Blather."

It seems that the Senate in particular has become increasingly detached from society and reality. I fear for our democracy. It's as if it is all about them, and the actual process of governing is a secondary business for them.

God help us.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Foot in mouth disease

Day 2 of the Pat Robertson digesting his foot saga is upon us.

Now, the leader of the Christian Coalition (that name makes me wince because of his propensity to step in a pile) says he was misquoted yesterday about advocating the assassination of Hugo Chavez, the democratically elected president of Venezuela.

Robertson claims he meant kidnap or something other than kill Mr. Chavez. Hmmm. Here is the quote and I'll let you decide:

"You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we are trying to assassinate him, we should go ahead and do it," Robertson said Monday. "It's a whole lot easier than starting a war, and I don't think any oil shipments will stop."

Gee, I can't imagine why anyone would think Robertson had it in for Chavez after that statement. Clearly The Associated Press made the whole story up out of whole cloth.

Someone take his microphone away before he brings more embarrassment on himself and further damages the cause of Christ.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Stop him before he talks again

Will someone please take Pat Robertson's microphone away? What on earth was going through his head when he advocated the U.S. Government assassinating the leader of Venezuela? Click here for the story if you missed it.

How is it a good idea for a Christian minister to advocate the cold-blooded murder of another individual? It's one thing to kill someone in combat, e.g. Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay. There at least they chose to fight and die as a result of their actions. But to advocate murder is beyond the pale.

We need to denounce this kind of idiocy in the strongest possible terms. It is not Biblical and it does nothing to advance the Kingdom of God.

Pat, please retire. Now!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Fools rush in (Second in a series)

1 Corinthians 1:17-31 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. 18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, "I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE." 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God as chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God. 30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 so that, just as it is written, "LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD."

Foolishness. That word brings up a great deal of mental imagery, and almost none of it is positive.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Down the Rabbit Hole

First in a series.

I love The Matrix. I love sci-fi to start with, but I really enjoy The Matrix for many reasons, including its grounbreaking special effects. I love the way it can enable one who thinks on such things to view it as sort of a modern allegory to Christ

Some of the similarities are obvious, and I won't recount them here. For more on that go here. But several things struck me as I watched it recently with some friends.

First, The Matrix is a modern day Alice in Wonderland, where up is down and down is up. In the Matrix reality isn't real. What you think you know to be true isn't true. The Red Pill/Blue Pill scene where Thomas Anderson takes the pill that allows him to step out of the false world he lived in really speaks to me. It was as if the scales were lifted from his eyes and his ears were opened for the first time to the truth.

This is oddly similar to a series of discussions that occured nearly 2000 years ago between an itinerant Jewish teacher and the religious leaders of the day. This Galilean rabble-rouser turned the conventional wisdom of the day on its head with his pronouncement that
"many who are first will be last, and the last, first."

This pronouncement did not sit well with the religious leaders who were convinced that their public piety, service to the letter
(but not the spirit) of the law, and maintenance of community order during the Roman occupation would entitle them to special privileges in the afterlife. The Pharisees were greatly disturbed by this teaching because they viewed themselves as better than the average Jewish citizen and had no problem displaying their superiority.

Along comes Jesus to tell them that the Kingdom of God is not attained through their actions but rather through simple faith. In Matthew 5, Jesus declares war on the Pharasaical system of the day with a series of teachings.
  • Matthew 5:3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
  • Matthew 5:10 "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
  • Matthew 5:20 "For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven."
The last one is a direct shot at the Pharisees. Telling them that despite their piety and rules, their righteousness is nothing in God's sight gave hope to the masses and drew a line in the sand. From that point forward the Pharisees were gunning for him. Just like the machines in The Matrix. Neither side could risk the truth getting out to the masses because it would upset the order of things and revolutionize the world.

And their ox would be gored.

Are your eyes open? Can you see the things of God happening in the world? Or do you see the world as you think it is. Dark, futile, pointless, warring, hateful? Or do you see souls waiting to be freed from bondage? Only Christ can open your eyes to see what is present but unseen. Seek Him through his word and get ready to find out how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Ending Poverty

For the poor will never cease {to be} in the land; therefore I command you, saying, 'You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land. Deuteronomy 15:11

On July 3 the world was treated to a bevy of musical artists coming together to ask the G8 nations - Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Russia, United Kingdom, United States – to forgive the billions of dollars owed by African nations and other poverty-stricken areas of the world. They want the G8 to declare a year of Jubilee The intent is that if the debt service burden were lifted from these nations, the inhabitants of those countries would experience an increased level of affluence.

All politics aside (I question whether the situation will change for the average African if the same corrupt governments are still in place) this was truly an amazing event. Sure, the whole world focusing on debt relief was cool, but where was the church of Jesus Christ on this issue? The only openly Christian band performing was Jars of Clay, though other bands doubtlessly have Christian members. Various Christian websites have links to the One campaign to end poverty, I still wonder what would happen if the Western church invested as much in education, compassionate ministry and economic development as it does in furniture, choir robes and buildings. What would Africa look like if the church poured its resources into helping these people instead of spending most of its budget on its internal issues?

Sadly, we may never know.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Everybody Hurts

When the day is long and the night, the night is yours alone,
When you're sure you've had enough of this life, well hang on
Don't let yourself go, 'cause everybody cries and everybody hurts sometimes

Sometimes everything is wrong. Now it's time to sing along
When your day is night alone, (hold on, hold on)
If you feel like letting go, (hold on)
When you think you've had too much of this life, well hang on

'Cause everybody hurts. Take comfort in your friends
Everybody hurts. Don't throw your hand. Oh, no. Don't throw your hand
If you feel like you're alone, no, no, no, you are not alone

If you're on your own in this life, the days and nights are long,
When you think you've had too much of this life to hang on

Well, everybody hurts sometimes,
Everybody cries. And everybody hurts sometimes
And everybody hurts sometimes. So, hold on, hold on
Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on
Everybody hurts. You are not alone

The quintessential Post-Modern band REM touched a nerve in many lives when they released this song. The song speaks of the despair of someone who has lost hope and feels isolated. I've been there. Just recently in fact as we earnestly prayed for guidance about the situation at our church. Ultimately God told us it is time to move on, and now we are in the grieving process as we enter an new phase of our lives.

Grieving is such an individual process, no matter what Elizabeth Kubler-Ross says. We grieve for many things - dead friends and relatives, shattered dreams, broken marriages, moves that force us to leave people and places we love - and each person grieves at his or her own pace. Some do it publicly, others do it very privately. I tend to be one who works through grief in spurts of seemingly disconnected events. But the disconnected events are just the outward expression of the discussions that have been occuring in my head.

Pray for us please. Pray for the kids who are no longer attending the only church they have ever known. We don't leave on bad terms, but it is not the way we had hoped it would happen. And for that I am sorry. There is some unnecessary complication here, but that is probably just attributable to human reactions.

But it still hurts.


The 9 days in Guatemala were an incredible display of the Holy Spirit intervening in the lives of people. While we were there showing the Jesus Film, nearly 1000 came to know Christ and we helped plant 2 churches. For more details on the trip, go to our pastor's blog.

The photo shows that even the dogs in Guatemala want to hear about Jesus. A new variant on "The Rocks crying out?"

Thanks for your prayers for our safety. Despite 2 earthquakes and a near miss from a hurricane, we had a great time and saw the hand of God move in a mighty way.

Now if only we could do that in the USA.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Pray for us

From May 14-22 I will be leading a Jesus Film Ministry Team trip to the Xela region of Guatemala. The Church of the Nazarene has partnered with the Jesus Film and pledged to show the Jesus film to 100 million people during this decade. So far, it has been shown to more than 33 million people and nearly 4 million have made a decision for Christ.

Pray for our team of 10. We will be in Quetzaltenango, Momostenango, San Juan, Antigua and Guatemala City during our trip. Pray for the people we will minister to. Pray that they will be open to the gospel message. Pray for our safety and that we will represent Christ well while we are there.

I'll try to post an update while we are there.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Here we go again

What is it with the national media that everytime an attractive white woman goes missing, it is a national news story. I understand the tragedy of those who have died - Laci Peterson, Lori Hacking - and many others that have slipped my mind. Add to that the recent Runaway Bride story from Georgia, and you have a media feeding frenzy. The national media is all a-twitter about her motives for running, her method, her fiance blah blah blah. Read Keith Olberman's inane nattering on this subject. For the life of me I cannot understand why this is national news.

The cynic in me wants to believe it is because they are attractive and white. Women of color go missing every day and it is often several days before their local news picks up the case. But it seems that every young, attractive white woman in the US who does not return from her errands suddenly is more important than the shenanigans in Washington, D.C., the war on terror (body count has dropped and so has media interest), the problems securing our borders etc.

The more forgiving me wants to believe that the media believes their scrutiny will aid in the investigation and ultimately help return these women alive, or sadly, dead in some cases.

This is an imperfect society and I am fully aware of that, But it does seem a bit odd to me that the only women who go missing and received national attention are white and under 40. The media that prides itself on fairness and progressivity needs to examine it's editorial decision making policy, in my humble opinion.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Eyes that see

WARNING - Seriously cheesy movie about to be discussed.

With that out of the way, I'd like to discuss a movie that I really like despite the high cheese factor and the presence of Kevin Costner. Field of Dreams is a movie that grows on me each time I watch it. Not because I didn't get to play catch with my dad (he was never interested in that) but on a more spiritual level.

There is a scene near the end of the movie where Annie's brother Mark is trying to get Ray to sell the farm and field to him and his investors. If Ray doesn't, they will foreclose on the mortgage. Mark cannot see the players on the field, he only sees an empty baseball diamond. Then Ray and Annie's daughter falls off the bleachers and begins choking. One of the players on the diamond has to decide whether to rescue the little girl (he's a doctor) and give up his ability to play baseball or keep playing. When he saves the girl Mark exclaims "where did all of these baseball players come from?"

It was as if the scales were lifted from his eyes and he was able to see. Just minutes before he had been haranguing Ray and Annie about their stupidity, and suddenly he could see what was right in front of him. When his eyes were opened, he was amazed at what he saw. Deuteronomy 29:4 talks about a time when Israel suffered from this affliction "Yet to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear. "

There was a moment in my life when God lifted the scales from my eyes. I began to see not what was apparent, but what was going on behind the scenes. I began to see people's actions in light of their personality and history, not just for what they appeared to be. But most magnificently, God began to show me what could be, instead of what is. That is both a blessing and a curse. Because there are a lot of Marks in the world. They see only what is there, and they berate, chastise, harangue, curse, oppose and (insert term of your choice) anyone who differs from them.

I find this true in the modern church. Seeing things differently, asking "what if we tried this?," and generally having big dreams makes one an enemy of the status quo ante. People like this threaten the established order and must be stopped, at whatever the cost. It is as if traditions and the "way we have always done things" have become more important than reaching the lost. The form has superceded the function, and that is almost always a bad thing for any organization, especially the church. Read this post from The OOZE on how some churches have lost sight of their mission to become refuges from the culture rather than change agents for the culture.

My fervent prayer is for the leaders who don't see to try to open their eyes, rather than shooting the messenger. And when they come across members of their flock who are shooting the messenger, they lovingly work with them to change their behavior toward others who may have a different take on things. The game is before us, but we cannot play what we cannot see.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Collateral Damage

I attended a PRSA Detroit luncheon today Dick Martin, former head of PR for AT&T, gave me something to chew on that I had not thought about before. He was talking about the PR and other gaffes AT&T made since the 1984 breakup settlement with the Department of Justice. In Martin's opinion, one of the things that put the final nail in AT&T's coffin was the Worldcom fraud. Worldcom drove the price of long-distance down so far that it sucked the profitability out of the business. Then they hid it by making up numbers to satisfy Wall Street.

I never viewed AT&T as a victim of Worldcom's fraud until today. I always viewed the employees and shareholders as victims, but I had not thought of their competitors as victims before. But they were. They were competing on price against a company that was just making up numbers to keep the shareholders happy. And in the process, AT&T killed itself.

Think about the innocent victims that get wiped out in everyday life. In years past, many farmers were driven to bankruptcy by rising property taxes created by urban sprawl. When houses went up on the fields next door, it raised the value of the cornfield if it were sold. But if a farmer just wanted to grow crops, he didn't get more money for the crop just because the land was theoretically more valuable. But he did get taxed.

I believe evangelicals are guilty of a lot of collateral damage due to their over-emphasis on the vertical (me and God) relationship at the expense of the horizontal (me and the church) relationship. The attitude of "my sin is between me and God" ignores the damage that a believer's sin causes to others. When a church leader, lay or pastoral, has their sin become public, many people are damaged. Certainly their families are hurt. Their fellow laborers for Christ also suffer. Some lose faith, others encounter more opposition and resistance, and others cannot find the funding they need because of a lack of confidence in church leaders. The thought that my sinful actions could cause a child to reject Christ scares the pants off of me. And when I am tempted to do something that I know better than to do, keeping the thoughts of who might be affected in my minds helps me to remain obedient. It may not be the greatest motivation, but it does work.

Monday, April 18, 2005

800 year old prayers

Yesterday in church we sang a modernized version of "All Creatures of our God and King" composed by St. Francis of Assisi, a 13th Century christian who founded the Franciscan Order of priests. St. Francis is the Catholic patron saint of animals and the environment, and that is something I can see.

My wife and former pastor both affectionately call me a tree-hugger. The environment is a passion of mine. Not the kind of passion that causes me to attack others or impose governmental regulation to protect. Rather, I like to persuade people to change their behaviors to protect the environment, keeping in mind that the world was made for us to use, as stewards would take care of their Master's estate.

That being said, "All Creatures" has always spoken to me. I have a little bit of the gift of seeing God in His Creation. Rich Mullins really had the gift, and I love his music for that. Recently we found out that our beloved dog Hannibal is not long for this world. He is a wonderful 12 yr old Lab/Golden Retriever cross who is wonderful. I feel a little Franciscan in the way I love him and take care of him. We recently have undergone a role reversal where I am the one looking out for him and protecting him, instead of him doing that for my family. He is a little senile, has some arthritis and is rapidly losing weight from a liver problem. It is an honor to care for him this way after all of the joy, protection and companionship he has given me and my family. My girls have always known him to be there, and he watches over them constantly. This will be a hard goodbye, but one with a great deal of fond memories of him. I know dogs aren't people, but I would like to see him again in heaven without his infirmities. Just to play fetch again.

I'd appreciate your prayers. He is fine now, but the vet didn't even vaccinate him this year. As the disease progresses, it will get harder. Right now he just seems like a skinny, older version of himself.



Friday, April 15, 2005

What I am reading

In case you were wondering, I read a great deal. I have always enjoyed reading, and lately have rediscovered the joy and stimulation of thought-provoking books and websites. Below is a partial list of what I have read recently and am reading now.

My friend Kurt has started his own blog with his musings on life.

Leonard Sweet's Soul Tsunami is a brain-bender.

Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline is a wonderful treatise on the spiritual life. His insight into prayer has greatly helped me with a sometimes stagnant prayer life.

Henri Nouwen's Making all things New is a great call to holiness. And an easy read.

The OOZE is a great source of discussion and thought-provoking articles. Membership is free.

Ginkworld is another great site for post-modern musings.

Here are some thoughts on life from a Lutheran perspective.

I hope these help you on your journey.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The wonder of spring

I dislike spring. There, my secret is out. I truly dislike the up and down temperatures, the mud, the garbage that blew in over the winter months. I just despise spring. I realize I am a buzzkill for a lot of people, including my kids, when I go on a rant about spring.

My youngest daughter has been itching to get outside as soon as the snow melted. She got "Real Rollerblades" for the first time and cannot wait to learn how to use them. If the temp is above 50, she is out on the sidewalk, helmet and pads locked in place, practicing her stops, starts and turns. And she does it with a sense of wonder in her eyes that makes me sad for what I have lost.

Spring is a time of renewal. New leaves bud out, birds lay eggs, bunnies are born and the grass greens up again. But renewal is often messy. Fixing dead spots in the lawn requires removal of the dead debris, planting, watering and patience. A great deal of rain must fall to provide the proper growing conditions for many plants to bloom and put out new branches. That rain also brings mud and canceled plans. Spring is very unpredictable, and maybe that is what I dislike so much. I like change. But I like predictable change. And Spring is a reminder of how little I actually control and how Sovereign God really is.

Like my feeble attempts to control the effects of the weather in my little corner of the world, I cannot control God when he decides to change my world or the world around me. He works on a level I cannot understand and does things that I may never understand in this life. But I have to trust him, even when I cannot predict what he is going to do. And that is really hard.

Consider the words of God spoken to Job in chapter 39:
1 "Do you know the time the mountain F432 R1079 goats give birth? Do you observe the calving of the deer? R1080 2 "Can you count the months they fulfill, Or do you know the time they give birth? 3 "They kneel down, they bring forth their young, They get rid of their labor pains. 4 "Their offspring become strong, they grow up in the open field; They leave and do not return to them. 5 "Who sent out the wild R1081 donkey free? And who loosed the bonds of the swift donkey, 6 To whom I gave the R1082 wilderness for a home And the salt land for his dwelling place? 7 "He scorns the tumult of the city, The shoutings of the driver he does not hear. 8 "He explores the mountains for his pasture And searches after every green thing. 9 "Will the wild R1083 ox consent to serve you, Or will he spend the night at your manger? 10 "Can you bind the wild ox in a furrow with ropes, F433 Or will he harrow the valleys after you? 11 "Will you trust him because his strength is great And leave your labor to him? 12 "Will you have faith in him that he will return your grain F434 And gather {it from} your threshing floor?

I don't undertand why God does things the way he does, but I do know that He is Sovereign and that He has our best interest at heart. I'll take a little mud now and then to know that he is driving the bus. And I'll keep trying to be content with being a passenger and stop trying to navigate.

BTW - Autumn is my favorite season. Cool nights, warm days, good fishing. Go out West in September and you will understand.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


I just finished watching U2's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and it brought out some conflicting emotions. I don't want to admit that I am old enough that the music of my youth is being enshrined. But their rendition of "I still haven't found" with Springsteen stirred my soul.

The longing that is so transparent in that song is one that I have found in my own life. I still haven't found what I am looking for. That may be because I don't know with great certainty what I am looking for, but I know I don't have it. To some, it is my way of saying that what I have isn't good enough. I prefer to look at it as a by-product of my idealism and seeking the things of God in their fullest.

I am haunted by the scene from "As Good as is Gets" where Jack Nicholson is in the waiting room of his psychiatrist and asks the people waiting there "What if this is all there is? What if this is as good as it gets?" I live on the hope that it can be better. That we can grow closer to God. That we can build authentic communities built on trust and respect. Because if this is as good as it gets, then it is not good enough.

Share your thoughts with me on this please. I'm going to go play "The Joshua Tree" with the lights off for a while.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

A truly great book

If you haven't read "The Safest Place on Earth" by Larry Crabb, you should really consider it. It is an absolutely wonderful book about creating true spiritual community, not the superficial relationships that pass for community in most churches. Crabb confesses that he is no expert, but like me, he is an idealist fearful that this may be as good as it gets. What if true community cannot happen, and the strained superficial relationships we have are the best we can do?

I'm in the boat of desiring something I've never had, which is a true spiritual community. God is in the process of moving me out of the complacent place I am in now and going somewhere that is unknown to me. And this desire will be a large determinant of where I land. I desire a community where people trust each other, share openly and genuinely, and desire the best for each other.

If you have some insight into this process, please feel free to chime in. I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, February 18, 2005


I've been reading Larry Crabb's book "The Safest Place on Earth" on the recommendation of Marcus on The OOZE message boards. It is a typically excellent Larry Crabb book, but this one really has me thinking.

He spends a lot of time talking about spiritual communities - communities where people are authentic and genuinely love each other - not the pseudo-counseling claptrap so typically found in American churches. Crabb's book, coupled with the paradigm-shifting "A New Kind of Christian" by Brian McLaren, have really started a thought process within me that is leading in a direction that I cannot predict where it will go.

The community Crabb and McLaren describe is almost utopian in its function. I long for a community where people are transparent, authentic and think the best of each other. I can't imagine what it is like to go to church and not have to be guarded in what I say because I may offend someone and have my statements thrown back in my face by someone they gossipped with.

But how do we build this community? Is this only possible in a Spirit-led church plant where you can clearly spell out the expectations at the outset? Can an existing community be led to this style of relationship? If anyone out there has any experience with this, please email me and describe it to me. I'd like to think my dream can become reality.