Monday, April 27, 2009

Gay in the News

There's been quite a bit of banter over the issue of person beliefs in the news lately. Miss California expressed a personal belief in a national setting and those who view things from the right-wing are calling foul. I've not been too wrapped up in it but applaud the gal for saying what she said in the tone in which it was said.

I keep an casual eye on how denominations are handling this pressing issue. I especially watch what the Presbyterian Church (USA) does with this issue because of a personal connection we have there.

Sarah and I spent two great years at Pisgah Presbyterian Church, Versailles, KY, and loved the people there. It was a wide mix of beliefs--liberal t0 conservative. In that setting I really got my feet wet and really had to defend my understanding of the Scriptures as they address/don't address homosexuality and other topics. I was glad to read that the PCUSA has defeated a move to allow for the ordination ofopenly homosexual clergy. Here's a link to one report of it. The local Presbyteries (Districts to all you Wesleyans) turned down a proposed ammendment to the Book of Order. For now, the PCUSA is standing in a Biblical position. Another report, here, details a little more of how the vote shaped up. It's a bit disconcerting though as it reports more and more presbyteries are moving toward approving this measure.

"Maranatha!", meaning either Our Lord has come or Come, O Lord has significant meaning in times like these. Yes, we desire for our Lord to return. But let's not forget our Lord has come and as a result we must, as his representative body, live like we represent Him.

Tough questions abound for the church--not just this area. Pray for the church universal as we engage our culture and as the culture engages the church.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Because I'm up

Because I'm up I decided I would write a few lines.
The biggest event of my day was chatting with my friend Troy. He and his wife just returned from an incredible adventure. They recently were able to adopt a 2 year old girl from Swaziland (I believe). They have some crazy stories of their time in Africa to bring her home and are all recuperating in the home in British Columbia. We wish were were closer to them in location...a coffee and some stories would be great.

Troy and I have been connected since our seminary days at Asbury. I was a lonely single guy and and he and Teresa invited me over for coffee once. I accepted their offer and really only left their apartment to go to class. (Not really, but I certainly hung out there a bunch.)
From those chats in their living room he and I began meeting weekly, with Ale-8's in hand, to pray with and encourage one another. He's been my accountability partner for a long time.
As he says, he a brother from another mother.

I'm excited for the commitment they've made to raise their sweet girl. They already have a great boy and from the conversation today their kids are treating each other like siblings already.

Many blessings to them!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Good Friday ... Great Sunday

There was a great crew assembled at our church last night for an "experiential worship service". Josh--our Discipleship Pastor--planned and coordinated a great night. 8 Stations were experienced by everyone present as we traveled from room to room in small groups. It was very tactile and was even a good thing for our young kids. (It was cool too because there were tons of kids there.)

The evening closed with communion and it was incredible to share that meal with our community of believers. Someday we'll share it with our Savior!
It was also incredible to serve William communion for his first time. It's cool to see his love for Jesus and was an honor see him experience this means of grace.

Sunday's service will be great. 2 friends are getting baptized. Great music will be played/sung. Let's just hope the preacher pulls his weight and has worthwhile to say.

Today we'll hit our community Easter egg hunt. The volunteer firemen host it and we enjoy the opportunity to connect with our North Branch neighbors in this type of setting. And, the day is forecasted to be the warmest (and least windy) of all the years we've done this.

Christ HAS died.
Christ IS risen.
Christ WILL come again.

Monday, April 6, 2009


I've been wanting to blog recently but haven't done so. I even began the process of opening up a new blog because there's an itch in me to write openly and candidly. I was going to start the new blog, keep it anonymous and use it a means (almost a spiritual discipline) of speaking/writing more courageously. But I didn't do that.

You see over the past few months I've been on an enjoyable/unenjoyable journey. It's enjoyable in its outcome but has been fairly unenjoyable throughout. It's a journey I shared with my church last Sunday and a journey I fully intended to avoid. But I believe God had a different design.

There have been some rough edges in me, some dark days & weeks, and some spiritual issues I've not addressed. I believe it has taken its toll on my family, my ministry and me. It's been tough.

The real problem I have with it is I could have sidestepped much of it if I had been willing to listen to God. In early January I read from Psalm 15 these verses,
Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?
He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart?

There they are in bold letters. The words intended for me and the words which I tried to crowd out of my existence. Ironic, isn't it? Yes, and somewhat sad.

So I stalled. I figured "God would let me off the hook" and those things I didn't want to face and those words I didn't want to speak...well, he'd understand. But if you've ever done this kind of dance with God you know (just like I already knew but chose to believe otherwise) that God doesn't let people off the hook--at least not without consequences and not after an immense season of grace and conviction. He poured on the latter two in massive quantity.

At the root: trust.
And why? I have no stinkin' idea. Well that's not totally true, I have some thoughts.
And now, how will I become more trusting? By trusting others and giving myself more fully.

That is hard for me.

I am able to position myself well. I can give the appearance of committed and connected all the while keeping my cards very close to my chest.
So I'm learning to play the game with joy again. I know I can't simply flash my cards to everyone at the table (to keep my euchre thought process going) but I do know that I there has to be a certain level of trust on my part as I sit at the table and engage with those in the other seats.

The freedom to speak again, to cry again, to begin trusting deeper came through the love, grace and mercy shown to me by my wife. She truly is remarkable. In her I felt the hands of my Savior receiving me and forgiving me. In her I see the marks of grace. In her there is a supernatural ability to love. I am a blessed man.

So I told my church some straight up stuff 2 Sundays ago.
We are in the midst of a retooling endeavor called, ReVision. As part of it we are digging into stuff like Mission and Core Values, etc. As part of the process we are sharing our work with the church--in small groups and in corporate worship.

I stood 2 weeks ago with a bulletin insert of ReVision info in my hand. I stood there knowing that the information and the process we are in is stuff some people in the church have been through before. Perhaps they've been through it at NBWC, perhaps somewhere else. Perhaps they've been through a process like we are in and at the end all of it all it just gets filed and begins collecting dust. Perhaps they've been through such a process only to have the Pastor leave during or shortly after its completion.

As I stood to share from the document my heart was at peace. I believe God freed me to speak in a way I haven't done in some time--if ever. I spoke a bit about my journey the past few months. I spoke of how I spent time online looking for open ministry positions. I spoke of how I spent time dreaming and praying that God would "get us out of North Branch". Then, oh then I spoke of how God has placed me here. Sarah and I cannot shake the calling we know we have to this place and to these people. I got to tell my congregation that I am not leaving. As I held that piece of paper in my hand I told them my plans are to stay. I told them that although I shouldn't be in North Branch, Michigan (from a human standpoint) I belong here. I wanted them to know that I believe in the future of our church. I believe in the change possible in our community. I believe the process of ReVision is good. I believe when ReVision is over I will still be here.

It's been a week + 1 day since I spoke.
People have been incredible. It's fun to receive their love...and to give it in return!
Old habits and thought patterns still invade. Ben Witherington, a fave ATS professor, always used to say, "God has to rewind the mind and retread the head."
I'm up for that journey, honestly.