Thursday, December 22, 2011


He hungered - but He fed thousands...
He was wearied, but He is the Rest of them that are weary...
He was heavy with sleep, but He walked lightly over the sea...
He prays, but He hears prayers.
He weeps, but he causes tears to cease.
He asks where Lazarus was laid, for He was Man; but He raises Lazarus, for He was God.
He is sold, and very cheap, for it is only thirty pieces of silver; but He redeems the world...
As a sheep He is led to the slaughter, but He is the Shepherd of Israel, and now of the whole world also.
As a Lamb He is silent, yet He is the Word...
He is...wounded, but He healeth every disease...
He dies, but He gives life...
If the one gives you a starting point for your error, let the others put an end to it.

Gregory Nazianzen, c329 - 389/390 AD
(from T.Oden's "The Word of Life", p185)

Thursday, October 13, 2011


There's a standing rule in our household; when I'm preaching and I'm going to tell a story involving Sarah I need to give her a heads up and sometimes get permission.  It is a system we have worked out.

What I am about to share needs no permission.

Today she was remarkable to/for me.
I arrived home for lunch and she knew my morning had been heavy.  Although I did not want to dump on her, when she asked a simple question the avalanche made its descent from me to her.

She listened and calmly asked questions.  She heard my anger and spoke into it.  She picked up our nearly one year old and directed our almost 5 year old to better activities -  continuing to carry my weight while taking the weight of others too.  She heard disappointing news and swallowed it with dignity and an incredible level of understanding.

I love her.  I have loved her for years.
She loves me.

And that is good.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Curve Ahead

In 1992 I spent a school year in England.
Yes, it was very cool. Thanks for asking.
It was then that I was introduced to Roundabouts. They seemed to be everywhere! (In fact, estimates are that there are 25,000 of them in England.)

What's a roundabout?
See for yourself…
It is a traffic management device.
Rather than car coming to a complete stop there is a yield process and then a series of "spokes" that a driver chooses in order to continue on a journey.

When you first experience a roundabout it's just plain nutty! Especially in England where drivers drive on the other side of the road, it all seems a little out of control and hard to navigate.

Sarah and I travelled to England together in 2003. We hired (rented) a car and were literally tossed a set of keys, a map and then pointed to the top floor of the parking garage where our car was waiting for us. No training, no pointers, no tips…just a car and a map.

So we set off and within no time at all encountered a roundabout. Then another, and another, and … you get the picture.

We managed, but it was tricky at times.
When you are used to stop lights, exit ramps and right turns a roundabout messes with your head!
When you grow up in Wyoming, driving in England really messes with you.
Hello! Anybody out there?
Here's the thing.
Roundabouts are being proven to be safer, more efficient and more cost effective.
And they are beginning to show up in the states more and more (2,500 at last count).

I was in the backseat of a buddy's car recently as he attempted to navigate 3 roundabouts in city in Michigan. It was a sickening experience. He didn't have a clue what he was doing and where he should go. In fact, to get to our destination we navigated those 3 roundabouts twice! Then we had to go through them once more on our way out of town. Blimey!
But you know what? On our exit, he had kinda it figured out.

Here's what I wonder?
Is there a curve ahead for the church which will be big?
The shift from Right Turns and Stoplights to Yields and Roundabouts is big.
The shift from Church as we know it to Church as effective in reaching our community is BIGGER.

In America, we don't get roundabouts.
In England, they get them. They are raised on them and trained to drive around them.

We have a learning curve (pun intended) ahead of us.
It will take time. It will require training. It will include uncomfortable experiences.
But we must learn and put it into practice.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Recently I had 232 miles of alone time in the car.  So rather than listen to repeat episodes of Adventures in Odyssey I tuned on NPR and heard a cool interview of Dan Koeppel.

I've never heard of Koeppel, but I've heard of the topic he was talking about:  Bananas.  Ya, like America's favorite fruit.

  It was a great story.


Did you know;

  • bananas didn't always used to be the #1 fruit.  Apples were.  We grow apples in the USA…bananas had to be imported.  It was a huge undertaking to get them to the states.

  • bananas we eat now are not the same variety our grandparents (and maybe parents) ate?  That species got a virus that wiped it out.  It was a better tasting fruit than what we love now--which also has a virus in other parts of the world.  Predictions are that it will die out in the next 10 years.  Then what?

  • bananas only start ripening once they are cut from the tree?

  • bananas must be shipped in refrigerated containers to keep them from ripening?
bananas emit a chemical amongst themselves that activates the ripening process in each other?

  • grocery stores work very hard to get bananas on the produce shelf at just the right moment?

(You can actually listen to the story here and check my facts--I'm writing from memory.  And some of the banana's story is not all pure and wholesome.)

The whole thing was intriguing to me.  I love bits of information like that.

But what really got my attention was the fact that environment matters to a banana.
 It grows in a particular climate, it must be shipped in a specific climate, it ripens in just the right environment.  Even organic bananas--that variety of banana we should all be so conscious to eat--can only be grown in a particular environment (above a specific altitude and with specific guidelines).

Environment matters.


Teachers know this.  They talk about "hidden curriculum."  Those things that aid/inhibit teaching regardless of what is being said; colors of the wall, temperature of the room, lighting in the room, etc...

You know this too.  If the building looks dingy you are wary of going in.  If you don't receive a warm welcome you wonder what kind of people these are.  If the classrooms are smelly you won't likely leave your children there.  And certainly, if the message and relationships are flat…you are out of there.  (Sound like church?)

Environment matters.

If we are going to mature (ripen) in Christ,  the environments we create matter.  

*I am indebted to guys like Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner, Carey Nieuwhof and others for using the term environment in talking about church.  It has shaped the way I look at what we do, what we say, how we do what we do, and how we say what we say.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Life today

Today is a day of remembering for our family.
We mark September 22.
It is the day, 2 years ago, our Annie died.

Within moments of her death we were thrust into doing all sorts of weird things.  They were like out of body experiences.  The kinds of experiences where I remember looking at Sarah saying, "are we really doing this?"
  • We drove away from the hospital with an empty car seat.
  • We began planning her funeral.
  • We even posted on facebook the news of her death. 
Strange experiences.

A day or so after Annie's death I drove by myself the couple miles from our home to the funeral home.  That drive replays through my mind in slow motion;  the long hill leading down into town, the gas station and all the people with their fountain drinks, the hardware store owner standing in the door of his shop.

I remember thinking, "No one has any idea that I am on my way to deliver an outfit for my daughter to be buried in."  There, on the seat beside me, were her clothes.

All around me life was still moving. Yet right beside me were the reminders of the end of Annie's life.

Today is like that.

William went to school and has soccer practice later.
Kate is taking her regular afternoon nap.
Eliza is on her second nap of the day.
Sarah has been leading the girls through their day.
I kept a commitment on my calendar that took up my entire morning through lunchtime.

Life keeps moving while simultaneously intersecting our grief.
(I still don't know what to make of that reality.)

I am anxious for our family to be together tonight.
We will spend time remembering Annie.
We may watch home videos of her or read through the journal we have of things we remember about her.

Whatever we do, we will move...forward, not on.   
*By the way, Sarah's thoughts today are captured (beautifully) here.  She's amazing!

Friday, July 22, 2011


My wife shared a post with me this morning.  I listened as she read some lines to me and digested it a little bit.

I'm now at the office and took a moment to read it for myself.

It's good.
Here it is...

Love is Patient.
I am often impatient with others.
Sometimes it is to the point of being filled with pride over my ability to be more timely, quicker and a better multi-tasker--listen, I'm a guy who multi tasks even while brushing his teeth. 

But even if I can do all kinds of things and I don't have love I am just a resounding gong, Paul says.
And if I do not love I am certainly not being patient.

The blog Sarah shared includes great words on being patient with others.  
For us, it is being tested even as I write.  Our son, who is amazing, left the deep freeze door open just a smidge last night.  Even after repeated reminders to be sure the door was closed, the door was not closed.  Sarah is currently wiping it down and assessing the damage---all the meat seems frozen still, thankfully.

So I've been thinking, does my impatience with others indicate an impatience I have with myself? 
  • I'm 37, shouldn't I have more of my life figured out?
  • I've been in full time ministry for 11 years now, shouldn't I be better at it than this?
  • I've been a Christian for lots of years and grew up in a Christian home, shouldn't I be able to find the book of Hezekiah quicker?
Am I alone here?  Doubtful.
I wonder if I mask my impatience with myself through being impatient with others--demanding that they fill in the gaps of my own personal impatience.

Henri Nouwen suggests that  “[t]he word patience means willingness to stay where we are and live out the situation to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.”

Love is Patient.
With others and with self.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Here's another site.
This one is full of great images and such for us in ministry. 
Many freebies available.

Underdog Pastor

I stumbled across a network of Rural Church Leaders earlier today.  Cool to read of how God is working in rural areas.

Here's a post from one of them.  It's suitable for all Pastors, not just the rural types.

His name is Artie Davis.  He writes of the Underdog Pastor

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Peas and Carrots

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Moses and Aaron
Ponch and John
Fonzie and...his leather jacket?
Forrest Gump and Jenny.

Forrest Gump, 1994
I'm one of those "with" guys. 
I love to know people are with me.

Which is what makes my church's 21 Days of Praying and Fasting so cool.  We are doing this with each other.  For the next three weeks we are reading the same scriptures, wresting with the same questions, and praying for each other. 
I know there are people going completely without food for these weeks.  I know some people have said bye-bye to facebook and other media (TV, online news...).  I know some people are giving up a particular food.  And that's just the people who have shared their commitments with me.  I know there are others who are with us that I haven't heard about.

We are using a prayer and reading guide to move us through this season together.
You can download one here.

For me, there is beauty in doing this with each others.
It's good for me.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Books I'm Reading

I've been spending time in the following books...

Practice Resurrection
A friend and I have been plowing through this book chapter by chapter.  I'm glad we read it slow.  I would have blazed through the book at too quick a pace and missed much of the depth Peterson includes.

Parenting Beyond Your Capacity
The way Joiner and Nieuwhof write clicks with me.  I love their philosophy (here) and their practical look at influencing the next generation for Christ.

Bearing the Cross
I recently re-read Philip Yancy's book, Soul Survivor, (good read) and he recommended this book.  I have never read a book about MLK, Jr.  I'm 150 pages in (450 to go) and I am enjoying it.  The author, Garrow, gives a thorough look at King and the movement he was swept into; eventually becoming face of.

UPDATE:  Not going to make it through this book.  Sorry David J. Garrow...just can't swing it.   :)
Next in line...
Gandhi, Portrait of a Friend
E. Stanley Jones has connections to Asbury Theological Seminary and was a friend to Gandhi in India.  I purchased this book a few weeks ago and am excited to see what it has inside.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Writing over there...

I just posted on our church blog. 
I'd like you to read it.
Click on my head to go there. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Local Jesus

I'm not sure how your community celebrates Jesus.  Maybe your community doesn't do anything.  I hope it does something.   Here's a snapshot at how my town celebrates!

This caught my eye for a few reasons.

Continue reading here...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Stir the Water

For the past couple years our church has hosted Grocery Giveaways.  In a nutshell they consists of 10,000 lbs. of food being dropped at our church on 12-15 pallets.  From there volunteers sort, count and stack it all within an hour and a half.  The food is ultimately given out to folks from our community.  Each time we do this it is exhilarating.  Each time it is tiring.  Each time also brings with it new insights into the needs of our community, the church and my own heart.

We receive our shipment of food around 3:30.
We distribute the groceries at 5 pm. 

Today, and like every other time we get host this ministry, people start arriving to the church early in the day.   Today it was at 8:56 that the first car pulled into the driveway.  8:56 am!

Here's my confession.  I was annoyed that she pulled into our driveway 8 hours prior to us distributing groceries.

And here's the next confession, I said something about her to Pastor Josh.  I said it in a derogatory way.

I was wrong.
It's not my business.
I apologized to Josh.  I apologized to God.

Jesus had an experience in John 5 at the Pool of Bethesda.  Around that pool the sick and the crippled gathered.  They hoped that by going into the pool at the point of the water being stirred something phenomenal would happen--they would be healed.  So there, around that water, people would lie in wait.  All day.  All week.  All month.  All year(s)?

And today she showed up in our parking lot at 8:56 am.  She sat there all day!  She was there 8 hours.  I don't know why she "doesn't go get a job".  I don't know why she doesn't go somewhere and work on her resume.  I don't know why she sits in the parking lot all day for $70 in free groceries.

But maybe, just maybe, she thinks that through the church, the body of Christ, something phenomenal can happen.  Maybe she wants what we have--and I don't just mean our groceries.  Maybe she believes the water is stirred when the people of God serve and love others.   

When Jesus encountered that entire pool of people he approached one man and healed him.  We served her today.  We also offered her an opportunity to hear about Jesus Christ prior to handing out groceries.

I know her because she's received groceries before.  I am guessing we'll see her again.  If she is in the church parking loat at 8:56 am next month I know I will think of her differently.  Rather than scold or sneer I'm going to stir the waters.