peace: puzzle

Every Thanksgiving and Christmas growing up we had a puzzle. I guess I have always been pretty analytical because for as long as I can remember, I have loved puzzles. I am not sure what it is about them.
Maybe it is the fact that it keeps me busy for a while.
Maybe it is the the frustration of it all.
Maybe it is the beautiful pictures of wagons and snowfalls and pumpkins...surely that is not it.

Maybe it is seeing chaos turn to something beautiful.

The Greek word for "anxious" finds its root in a word that means "to divide or separate into parts."
It makes perfect sense.

Those times that we get stressed out about the future,
the times we get nervous about paying bills,
the days we worry about our health or the health of a loved one,
the moments we fret about the job we are unhappy with,
the seconds we spend thinking about why he or she left...

we have separated life into parts.

I have learned over the past few years that somehow everything is connected. No moment or circumstance can stand alone. The more I am aware of that fact, the truer it is. Something had to happen to allow another something to happen and so on.

My life is a testament to that truth.

But there are moments when the connection between the past and the present and the future is cloudy at best.
I love puzzles.
So, I try to figure it all out. I want to know how yesterday led me to today. I want to know what the combination of the two means for my future.
But more often than not, the pieces do not quite fit.

So, I stare at the pieces...
focusing on them...
concentrating on them...
distracted from everything else...
distracted from the present...
distracted from the puzzle.

That is when I get anxious.
When I make life about the pieces and less about the picture in the puzzle.
When I am distracted from the the truth.

That is when I lack peace.

Just as "anxious" finds its root to mean "separate into parts",
"peace" finds its root in "to join".

We are all searching for peace. We want purpose and meaning to our lives. We want to know we are where we need to be. We want to feel the serenity and calm.

We want it all to join together.

Peace, though, does not come from trying to make it all fit.
Peace comes from knowing that it DOES fit.

Peace is not seeing the pieces of the puzzle, but seeing the puzzle in the pieces.
Peace is accepting that while today may not fit with your yesterday or your tomorrow, it fits in the big puzzle of life.
What if we lived life with this awareness? How would it change your perspective on your seconds? On your moments?

Peace came on Christmas day thousands of years ago.
Because when He came, it made it all fit together.

Peace be with you.
True peace.


joy: invest

Shepherds? Really?
That was the plan all along?

Ever think that there had to be a better way to let the world know about the birth of Jesus? I understand the fact that a massive text message would be highly impersonal and technologically impossible at that time, but there had to be some other way.

Shepherds were famous (or should i say INfamous) for their storytelling. Their stories were, at the very best, embellishments of the truth. It reached the point that a shepherd's testimony, even an eye witness account, was not admissable in a court of law.

And God chose them.
To share the good news.
To announce to the world that Peace had come.

While the shepherds were not highly valued by society, they played an important role in the economic and spiritual culture of their town of Bethlehem.

They raised the sheep that were sold for sacrifices.
They raised sacrificial lambs.
They "kept watch over their flocks".

As they are guarding the sheep, angels tell them that they have glad tidings of great joy...for all people. The angels have a message, they have the good news of great joy...and they tell the shepherds first.

Because the shepherds have already invested.

See, the shepherds know about sacrifice. They lay down their lives for their sheep. In this case, they would raise a lamb until it was fully grown and acceptable for sacrifice. They fed, protected, cleaned, led these sheep for years...only to sell them to die.

And we wonder why God chose the shepherds.
If anyone understood it...
if anyone "got it"...
if anyone invested...
it was them.

Because of their investment, they understood joy.
Because of their joy, they wanted to tell the world.

But their joy would not come without knowing what it is to sacrifice.

Many of us go through life never really knowing joy. We grow bitter when things don't go our way. We get bored when it is not how we want it. We start to call things mundane and irrelevant. We may be physically present but soulfully absent.

Because we have never known joy...
because we have never invested.

We think joy is found in victory.
I would say true joy is found in sacrifice...in investment.

That is why He chose shepherds. They had invested. They had sacrificed.

Therefore, they knew joy.


love: participate

this summer, meredith and i had a chance to go to a major league baseball game. it was the final game of a three game series between two division rivals who were both in contention for first place.

let's just say it got heated at times.

at different times throughout the game, a ground swell of noise would make its way through the domed stadium. it would happen and then people would stand.

like we were pavlov's dogs and the bell had rung.

there were certainly good reasons for this outburst of emotion and fist pumps:
a full count, 2 strikes with the tying run at second base, the final out of the game...

but as i looked around the stadium, everyone was not standing. people were actually sitting down. intense moments in baseball lore were happening and they sat through them. the moment was happening whether they stood or not, but

they missed the depth of the experience because they refused to participate in it.

i actually heard some "sitters" telling the "standers" in front of them to sit down because they couldn't see.
they were offended and even grew bitter because other people were excited and participating in what was happening.

because that is what happens when we sit...

we get offended.
we get bitter.

we think we are experiencing all there is, but the truth is we are not even close.
we may be in the stadium, but we are certainly not experiencing the game.
we may even experience part of it, but when it gets really intense, our comfort is more important.

it happens at concerts, too.
and theme parks.
and churches.
and in love.

the experience is the fullest when we participate.


hope: what-is

this year, Christmas is exactly four weeks from Thanksgiving Day. 28 days.

28 days to get your tree up and decorated. (unless it has already been up for a month)
28 days to put those moving fake deer in your front yard.
28 days to finish crocheting your stocking.
28 days to figure out how to thank your aunt for that sweater....again.
28 days to memorize every line of Elf or A Christmas Story.
28 days to shop.
28 days to worry about if he will like what you got him or wondering if she is even worth that much money.
28 days.

four weeks.

the "anticipation" in the air at this time of year is quite noticable....maybe "anxiety" is really more appropriate.
what would it take to get back to a spirit of anticipation and excitement?
what will it take to put things in perspective?

it is a latin word which means arrival.
it is an old tradition which is built upon the expectation of a coming Messiah..
the restoration of all things.
it is a period of...

four weeks.

each week has a different focus or theme:

this week, the first of four weeks, the theme is hope.

we, often, do not anticipate well because we do not hope well. we are anxious, nervous, dreadful perhaps because we have a lack or a misconception of hope. we miss the glory of the buildup, of the tension, because of that same lack or misconception of hope.

we view hope as something that comes from the outside of our circumstance.
from beyond the here and now.
from the what-could-be.

maybe hope actually springs up from the inside of our circumstance.
from the actual here and now.
from the what-is.

we want to be rescued from a situation and we, therefore, view hope as the expectation of that evacuation. we want hope to sweep in and save the day. what if hope actually saves the day from the midst of the storm rather than as a wind from beyond it?

the Jews for generations looked for a Messiah, Hope, to come in and save the day. they wanted Hope to be a source of political strength, an overthrow of the Roman government. others wanted Hope to cleanse the world of its unrighteousness through the destruction of all that was unrighteous. they all wanted Hope to come from the outside. they looked for Hope to come radiantly from beyond the mess.

but Hope came from within.

Hope was born into a family with a geneology that included great leaders and faithful men and women.
Hope was born into a family with a geneology that included prostitutes and liars and outcasts.

Hope was born into the world as the child of a pure woman.
Hope was born into the world as the child of an unwed mother.

Hope was born into the world as the child of a just man.
Hope was born into the world as the child of a man who wanted to do good, but could not figure out what good was in the midst of a bad situation.
Hope was born into the world as the child of a man who thought the answer was in a quiet divorce.

Hope was born in a stable.
Hope was placed in a feeding trough to sleep.
Hope was rejected because it was too late for a room.

Hope was proclaimed by many men and women and children.
Hope was proclaimed by these men and women and children who were known as liars and storytellers.
Hope was proclaimed by people whose testimonies were inadmissable in a court of law.

Hope came from within.
from within the messiness of relationships.
from within the struggle to do right.
from within the busyness.
from within the dirt and filth.

Hope has come.
not like we wanted it to come.

but like we needed it to come.



we have such an innate ability to make life so much more complicated than it was ever intended to be. i suppose that is how we have always been.

there was that whole incident with the fruit and the snake in the tree.

there is something within us that has a hard time dealing with simplicity. it is almost as if simplicity is more threatening than complexity. simplicity scares us.

simplicity requires commitment.
complexity leaves excuses for infidelity.

while simplicity can move us to explore the deepest parts of the ocean at a pace that allows us to take in its beauty, complexity can get us swimming at a record pace only to find we could have stood up and just walked.

somehow, we have deceived ourselves into thinking the more complex the equation, the deeper our understanding. i have found, though, that the most simple equations have the surprising ability to keep showing up in our everyday lives.

simplicity will develop depth while complexity will keep you shallow.

we often determine that a church is deep in its message by the number of programs they have going on. we determine the depth of a person's relationship with Christ based on the number of verses they have memorized or the number of Bible studies they attend.

truth is a multitude of programs actually distract from the mission.
truth is memorizing verses and attending Bible studies actually keep us from committing to any one thing.

the greatest threat to your depth is not another deep commitment, it is the multitude of shallow ones.

when we are deeply committed to the simplicity of the One thing, everything else is affected.
it is not that our commitment to the One thing eliminates commitments to everything else,
it is that everything else somehow finds itself committed to the One thing, as well.

maybe it is time we get back to the simplicity of loving God and loving others.
maybe when we do that we will find ourselves in deeper than we ever imagined.
maybe we just need to make it


yes, it has been a while. for the two or three of you who read my blog, i am sorry it has been so long.

i will be blogging more regularly, now...for the two or three of you who read this.




i watched the presidential debate last night. i am impressed by how much knowledge the two men have. it is particularly impressive how they know so much about so many topics. i guess when you are passionate about something, learning is not an obstacle.

one of them made a statement that i think applies to where our generation finds themselves.

the two candidates were debating the war in iraq and one of the men said that the next president of the united states would not have to decide whether or not to go into iraq, but decide how to remedy the situation.

it seems like a simple idea and one that really would not require much thought.
it is true.
our troops are already in iraq. we have already gone in.

i think many times, we can find ourselves in a similar place in regards to the church.
our generation, and others, are quick to judge what has happened. they are quick to judge and criticize where we find ourselves today.

but the question is not whether we should go in. the question is how are we going to remedy the situation.

essentially, it is what it is.
we are in a place where many have turned away God because of the behavior of His church.
we are in a place where being a Christian is determined by how you vote on abortion and gay rights rather than how you live your life.
we are in a place where being the church has tragically been replaced with going to church.
we are in a place where churches are growing because Christians are unhappy at one church and move to another one.
we are in a place where a critique of Sunday morning becomes the centerpiece of Sunday lunch rather than the lessons learned.

i am tired of my cynical perspective.
i am tired of saying i would have done it differently.
those things do not help the current situation.

i fear that we have spent to much time discussing and debating how we got in, rather than how we will fix it.

it is in our debating and discussing and arguing that we have gone from being in captivity to now holding others captive.

yes, we are far from where we need to be.
good observation.
now, let's do something to get back to where we need to be.




this weekend we hosted a conference called react.

it turned out to be a pretty cool weekend.
we centered the whole weekend around 6 verses: acts 2:42-47.
a bunch of my friends (go orange crew!) helped out and made it a weekend i hope many will never forget.

a good friend of mine, richard durbin, did an amazing job setting up and leading our worship through music as he played with blake moore, chris spinks and others.
josh abernathy, one of my very best friends, also did a lot to lead us in worship while another friend, jared gunter, of canvas church ran the board and created an environment that presented a chance to worship without distraction.

my good friend doug garvin, who is the lead pastor of canvas church, did the teaching for our first main session on friday night and did an incredible job of setting the tone for the weekend. he talked about how great things happen when we find ourselves in awe of God, when we are struck with such great respect and wonder.

saturday morning, one of my best friends, mike thompson did the teaching. he talked about sacrifice. he essentially reminded us, from acts 2:44-45, that community is built through sacrifice. mike did such an amazing job of getting us clued into this idea of sacrifice.

saturday night, we wrapped it all up by talking about communion. we discussed verses 46 and 47 and came to the conclusion that communion, or the eucharist, is more than a monthly thing we do.

it should be a lifestyle.
we should live a life of communion.
of breaking ourselves open and pouring ourselves out for the healing of the world.
we can and should be the answer to the world's prayers.
reacting to the influence of God can happen in many ways, but it must always be centered around that one thing.

we had a really cool experience saturday night. we all walked silently outside and gathered around a long line of tables with bread and a cup on them. the tables were set in the middle of the street. we stood around them and sang and witnessed communion in a new fresh way.

i am interested to hear what those of you who attended thought...more importantly how you were affected and in turn, how you have reacted.
[we are working on the podcast - www.react.mypodcast.com - it is giving us problems.]

i am blown away.



i came across this quote the other day:

"change is the essence of life. be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become."

needless to say, it crushed me.
i actually like change. i look forward to it.
when i was younger, i would close myself in my room and rearrange my furniture for no good reason at all.
truth is, that change probably made me feel good.
i always did sleep well that night knowing things would be different when i woke up.

it would be interesting to go back and watch my life to see if that was a response to some innate need for change.
but that is neither here nor there.

but in my fondness for change, i had really never considered its true significance until i read that quote.
i believe that while all change is not necessarily meant for good, it can still be used for good.

change really is the essence of life.
change is a tangible expression of grace.
it is a picture of redemption.
of restoration.
of salvation.

without change, things stay the same. it seems to me that was never the intent. the same only works once...when it was new. when it was the change. even routine works when it is the change from the lack of routine.

i wonder what would happen if we were able to embrace change.
what if we valued it?
not because it is easy or safe.
but because it is hard and risky.

change is coming.
for our young adult community it means gathering on monday nights instead of wednesday nights.
(a change that arouses the question, "well, what are we going to do on wednesday nights, now?")

all i know is that holding on to what we were will never make us what we could be.




this past week at selah, we did what we call "selahX."
we want to provide an environment to eXperience.
instead of doing church. instead of looking at the backs of each other's heads.

from what i understand it went well. people were impacted. hopefully, lives were changed.

here are a few pictures that blake took.

there are a few changes coming for our ministry.
i will blog about those this week.



"i was not sure if i was going to be able to eat today. weekends are tough, everything shuts down."

once a month, we go out to forsyth park, here in savannah to
try to intentionally impact some lives.
before you stop reading, i really mean impact lives.

we don't pass out tracts (ask me about that some time) or wear Christian t-shirts, or carry signs around.
we pass out hot dogs and cold water.
you see, we have come to the conclusion that we talk with our mouths entirely way too much. we want to talk with our conduct first. so we pass out food and conversation happens.
don't get me wrong, i am not suggesting that all the world needs is hot dogs and cold water.

"i was not sure if i was going to be able to eat today. weekends are tough, everything shuts down."

i have been studying the concept of sabbath a lot lately. this idea that we can stop doing, stop creating, stop striving and producing....and just be.

i learned something today, though.
i learned that we can bring sabbath to other people...we can bring rest, we can bring a sense that we do not have to keep working and striving.

we can assure them that it is not what they do, or earn, that merits love...it is simply who they are.
they are created in the image of God.

we cooked almost 120 hot dogs and fed a steady line of homeless and needy men and women, today. it was a great day. as we were leaving, a man came back to get some more water and he said:
"i was not sure if i was going to be able to eat today. weekends are tough, everything shuts down."

he ate today.
because of what he has done?
because he earned it?
because we fed him?

or simply because God can provide for us even when we cannot provide for ourselves.
sometimes, he uses us to bring sabbath to others.
even on the weekends...

when everything shuts down.

[my wife took these pictures...she is amazing.]



i am learning that we really should never stop learning. there are always new things to know.
new angles to see from.
the hard thing is that learning new things often exposes the fact that we did not know it in the first place. which for some of us, is a tough thing to admit. but the truth is, if we actually knew it beforehand, our lives would be a bit different.

i am learning the importance of character. its not as though i did not already know what character was or what good character looked like, i am just starting to realize the way it manifests itself in a daily, active, tangible sense. i have learned that even though we do the right things...we may not have good character....or integrity.

i can be a critical person. cynical, even.
but i am learning that unless i am being the change i want to see, i have no room to be critical.
there are things i want to change about our world, about our churches.
but i can influence no change there unless i can allow change in my own life, first.

i wish i knew how to communicate what i have learned and how that has impacted my life.
at first, it impacted what i said. i didn't talk about change or look for innovation.
but i am learning that it should inspire me to change my life. not inspire me to keep my mouth shut.

if we are inspired to do something, we need to let it affect our character.
especially as leaders.
our "passions" should come from who we are, not what we do.

some people think they have a "passion" for the homeless...but they wait for the church to start a homeless ministry before they act on it.
some people think they have a "passion" for discipleship...but they wait for someone to offer a class on discipleship before they actually disciple someone.

what are things that you want to see changed in the world?
let that sink into your character.
then you cannot help but to act on it.
but lets stop talking about it....while we do nothing about it.




i am growing more and more convinced that a lot of our struggles are grounded in our lack of ability to accept love.
i am not sure if it is an american thing or not, but we really have a hard time accepting love, and accepting grace.

we talk as though we don't struggle with it, but our actions say otherwise.

maybe we have been hurt too many times.
maybe we can't trust because someone has betrayed that trust.
maybe we have betrayed someone's trust.

we so desperately want to be loved. we want to be accepted. but when it comes down to it, we just can't take it.

you see, we have been trained to earn everything. respect. forgiveness. acceptance. friendship. trust. loyalty. love.
so we work.
for some of us, that means we spend 60+ hours each week at our jobs.
or we spend our days on the computer trying to earn friends.
or we spend our time proving our worth by what we look like and what we wear.

but in the end...it is never enough. we are never satisfied, never filled.
and our response to the emptiness is to try harder.
which only leads to more emptiness.

what if we just stopped?




i think if we all got back to the basic idea of sabbath, all of us would feel the impact.
if we all decided that we could just stop.
stop trying.
stop working.
stop creating.
stop earning.
and just accept.

i think if we all got back to celebrating rest, we would all benefit.
rest teaches us to let go. it teaches us that it is ok to not be in control.
rest teaches us to accept.

the power of sabbath to me is not in church, or not working a job...
to me it is in the strange, daunting practice of accepting that who i am is more important than what i do.

it is in that mindset that i can accept God's ridiculous love for me.

may we all prepare ourselves to rest.
may rest teach us more about ourselves and about our God than any act.

may peace be with you.



for the past few days, meredith and i were in florida with some of my family.
we were able to relax and just chill for a few days.
i got sick.
but i am feeling better.

as we sat and watched fireworks on friday, i thought of a few things:

- i really do not like loud noises...i am certain that hell is full of popping balloons.
- rocks and shells do not make for comfortable seating.
- i love my family.
- i love diversity.
and finally...
- our country has really weird traditions.

as i watched miniature bombs exploding i realized that no one talks during fireworks. here we all sit, decked out in our red, white and blue...and we stare...and stare...and stare. we adjust our necks for a brief second and then...stare.

if aliens were to invade our planet and watch our country on the 4th of july, they would realize how easy it would be to overtake us.

"this is what they do? they just stare at explosions? oh...this is good....real good."

and all of that to celebrate freedom? i mean that is how we choose to celebrate our freedom? by watching fireworks?

i may be the only one, but it seems odd.




i think last night went well. i have learned, though, that the "success" of a service lies not in the emotion or flow of the night but in what happens down the road. so, i guess you could say i am holding off on determining how well selah went.

all that being said...

i enjoyed it.
i was surprised by it.
i was challenged by it.
i needed it.

last week, i really had a hard time communicating what God was laying on my heart.
i felt like i just did not get the job done. there are nights when i feel like i just did not do what i needed to do.
last night, though, i felt better. i had wrestled, i mean really wrestled with what God was doing in me. we had other plans for how it was supposed to go, but finally resigned ourselves to let God have it.

i really hate when i get in the way of that.

we talked about "nanotheology." i get so caught up in the "big" things that i miss out on the little things, the things right in front of me...like loving my neighbor. i really needed this study. i needed this perspective.

the podcast is up.
check out the pictures that mikey took.

may we always be aware of those next to us.



when i am older, i want to be the biggest supporter of younger generations.
on some level, when i am older, i want to be cool.
i want to be hip.

but even if i am neither cool nor hip, i still really want to support those who are.
i don't want to think that i have "paid my dues" and so now i get what i want.
i want to pay more dues, for other people.

i want to discipline and train myself now to have a heart for other people. to have a heart for people who think differently than i do. i want to stay outside the box.

i want to be used to encourage all generations to experience true freedom.
freedom that is only found when valuing other people more than ourselves.
i have to live in that freedom, myself, first.

each week, i study...and i am convicted.
i am made painfully aware of my own shortcomings and my own areas where i lack.
and i cannot stand in front of people and teach something i have not yet learned myself.
i want to have more integrity than that.
not because it gets me anything.
not because it makes me feel better about myself.
but because it makes a difference.

i am tired of the dichotomy between what is said and what is done.
i want to live in the freedom of integrity.



This is the intro video for Selah tonight.
I am really convinced that the reason so many young adults leave the church after high school is because the "God" they have been taught is too small for the world we live in.

We have been given a strict list of rules and a shorter list of places to find God.

I believe God is everywhere. I believe we have been given freedom to find Him there.



like usual

You would think it wouldn't phase me anymore.
At the very least, that I would catch on to some sort of a pattern.

It just wasn't a great day, all around. It is tough to have too great of a day when you start it off with a two and a half hour staff meeting. I mean who lives for that?

Wednesdays for me are a marathon day. 8:30 AM Staff Meeting followed by another meeting for Sunday School. Usually followed by lunch. Today I had to visit a couple of hospitals. I had a counseling session. I had to finish up some stuff for the talk tonight and get the room set up.

I started off this week really stoked about Selah tonight. I love that time we have together and I love the time leading up to it: the studying, the creative planning. I was looking forward to tonight because I knew my heart had been wrecked by what God was doing and my eyes were opened to a ton of new things, and newness always excites me.

This afternoon I heard from some people that they would not be there tonight which probably shouldn't get to me as much, but it does. Then we ran into some complaints about the changes we were making in the room which really got me pretty discouraged. But, it made me go back to prayer and let Him take it. So, I texted our leadership/core team and just let them know that I was discouraged and that we needed to pray and saturate tonight in prayer. Our team is awesome, I got text after text back saying they were on it.

It seems that each time Wednesday starts to fall apart, we have an incredible night.
Tonight was no different.
All of the previous stuff happened, then my mic was not working so we couldn't podcast. But, God doesn't need a mic, or a fancy room...He just is.

No matter what.
In our weakness He is made strong.

It is awesome to be along for the ride.


There are moments when some pieces of this mosaic of life start to reveal their purpose in the grander scheme and tonight I saw some revelation.

Meredith and I were able to spend some time with Mikey, Doug and Shelly and it is in times like those that you really start to get a sense of God's grand plan and a sense that you really are not alone and that rescue is coming. I need times like that.
I need moments when I am challenged to not accept the status quo.
Moments when I am forced to ask myself some dangerous questions.

I am always challenged in those moments.
I am always challenged to seek God.
I am always challenged to make myself better. Not because of what I can gain, but what others can.

I need challenge.


Selah in the Park [May 08]

We grilled 80 hot dogs and I only dropped one of them on the ground.

On most blogging occasions, that would be good enough. I could stop right there. If anyone has every seen me try to pass the grilled, simmering hot dog from the grill to the bun, you know what I mean.

Suffice it to say, 79 out of 80 is really really good.

There are a few things that concern me. Please do not misunderstand. A lot of good happened this weekend. We fed a lot of people, most of whom were homeless or at least struggling to make ends meet.

My biggest concern is that a lot of people missed out on being Jesus' hands and feet that day.
A lot of people had a great time.
A relaxing time.
A selfish time?

Maybe I am too cynical.
Maybe I am too judgmental.
Maybe I expect too much from people.
Maybe...no...certainly, I expect more from a Christian than I do from anyone else, especially one who "knows" better.

Selah in the Park started off as an opportunity to serve our community. It began as a scheduled event we were to use to intentionally get out of our comfort zones, out of our gray chairs, out of the four-walled, safe confines of our church.

It appears to me that we have become really good at just moving our whole comfort zone.
I think we should all attach a "WIDE LOAD" sign to our backs, like those semis who move whole houses down the interstate.

What began as a chance to display our love for others has turned into a chance to display our love for ourselves.

It is scary to notice that no matter where we are, the same people sit with the same people on the same side of the room/park/van. Have we become that good at being comfortable that we can "make ourselves at home" everywhere?

At one point there was a line of homeless men waiting for the hot dogs to come off the grill.
...And ONE WOMAN serving them drinks and preparing their plates.

While everyone else stayed in their seats, next to the same people, comfortably eating and drinking food that was made for them.

And we wonder why our churches aren't growing.
We wonder why people are turned off by church.
We wonder why Christians are looked down upon.
We wonder...and wonder...and wonder...
...in our same seats, next to the same people, comfortably consuming what was prepared for us.

I wish I could say we are different. I wish I could say that Saturday was an aberration. I wish I could say we were all just tired from a long week. I wish I could say that is a poor reflection of our ministry.

It may be the truest reflection of us, all.

On a typical Wednesday night,
we sit in our same seats, next to the same people, comfortably consuming what was prepared for us.

We sit. We may stand to sing. Because if we didn't while everyone else did, that would be just too uncomfortable.
We sit by the same people. Because if we sat anywhere else, we wouldn't be comfortable.
We consume. Because we need to be filled to be comfortable.

While a line grows...and grows...and grows...
But we just sit, next to the same people, consuming what was prepared for us.


Selah | 05.21.08 | Belts, Sandals and Cloaks

Well, last night was our first night in "The Attic." I have to say, the room is coming along nicely. There is plenty of space and it is very conducive to the type of environment we would like to create.

That being said, we ran into a few glitches last night, which I am learning are really not a big deal, but at the time are pretty frustrating. The computer that is up there to run our videos and worship lyrics is antiquated at best and the system used to send the video to the displays is a little weird. It will just take experience with it to get us familiar with it all.

The number of people who come has never really been too important to me. I mean, it is certainly discouraging when one week we have close to 40 people show up and the next week we have barely 20. I just keep reminding myself that God is still in control and that He has there the people who need to be there. The concern I have is that we are not concerned enough with people outside of our ministry or outside of our church. That is something I will have to work on myself, first.

I was curious to see where everyone was going to sit in the new room. For years we have had the same room and have sat in the same seats. I was curious to see how that translated to a new room. It was fun to watch that unfold. I do get the sense that we are slowly sliding back into our comfort groups though, and that is another concern of mine. I am sure that has much to do with my other concern mentioned earlier.

The music was good. I am continually impressed with what the guys can do with just the three of them and I have been inspired seeing Blake pick up the bass now and just figure it out. I know he misses and loves playing the acoustic so it is hard for him to play bass each week, but I love his heart in it.

This week's talk really got to me as I studied. We did not have the audio recording working, so we could not record for you podcast listeners...sorry about that. It was weird, I was uncomfortable at the beginning. I am not sure why, maybe because I recognized the importance of the words I was about to say or because I was painfully aware of the impact they have had on my life, who knows. Either way, it took me a while to get going.

People often ask me how I think Selah went or how I thought the talk was. To me, it takes some time to discern the impact of a night like that. It can be great and full of momentum and emotion, but if no changes are made in lives as we walk out of that room...was it still what it was supposed to be?

I would love to hear your stories.
I would love to hear how you think Selah has gone.
Last night or previously.
I would love to hear if Selah is connecting you to God and to each other.

May we never forget the importance and significance of what we do on Wednesday nights.
May we never let little glitches get in the way of our greater calling and purpose.
May peace be with you.



in review

It appears as though I do not blog enough. That sounds a bit better than just saying that I am a lazy slacker. (As opposed to a hard-working slacker?)

So, to remedy that situation, I have a plan.

After each event we do (Selah, small group, Selah in the Park, Hands and Feet, etc.) I will do my best to write a blog in review.

That being said...

Wednesday night we began the process of switching rooms for Selah, which is basically a gathering of young adults. It was exciting and frustrating all at the same time.

Why do churches continue to settle for mediocrity?
Why do churches continue to do things without excellence and without quality?

I just do not get it.

I really want the ministry we have been given to be one of excellence, one that reflects the superior quality of the God that we serve. If we cannot do it to the best of our ability, is it even worth doing?

However, I am excited. Excited to have a space that can be used creatively and uniquely. A space that will allow us to do so much more with what we have already been given.

I'm stoked.




There is something about me that is quite disturbing:
I can separate myself.

Not in a Ripley's-Believe-it-or-Not way, but in a Why-Did-I-Just-Do-That way.
I can separate myself into a physical self, a mental self, and a spiritual self.

I can do things without really knowing why I did them. I can feel one thing and say or do the complete opposite. I can be totally convicted about something and never act on it. Or, I actually can act on it, but I never let the conviction ever drip into the essence of me.

Ironically, I get the feeling that my ability to separate myself does not, in fact, separate me from everyone else. I mean, we all can do that, can't we?

And you hear people say things like,
"I don't know what I did that"
or "You know me, man, I didn't mean that"
or "That's not really who I am" - which is an interesting phrase.

Can we really produce things that we are not?

Maybe our excuses don't really make sense. Maybe they don't really work.

"Oh, I said that? I guess that is something I really need to work on."
Maybe that is more like it.

I get the sense that I can separate myself so well because what I learn and what convicts me rarely makes its way into the essence of who I really am.

I love learning. I can know the "right things."
I am really good at doing. Often times, I do the "right thing."
But that does not, necessarily make me the "right person."

There is something awfully dangerous and vulnerable about becoming the right person.
There is no formula. No charts or plans. No diagram.

What I am learning is that it is not about what we know, or what we do...but it is about what happens between the knowing becoming doing.

It is becoming.

May you know what God wants you to know. May you do what God wants you do do.
But most importantly,
May you become who God wants you to become.



Here we go. I am going to give this blogging stuff a shot. I am not sure who all will be interested, but nevertheless it will be a good way for me to get some thoughts out.

Bear with me.