Friday, March 31, 2006

common grounds

Last night we had a little coffee caper. It was really great. We invited our friends from the library to try some samples from Stone Creek Coffee, since we all share the love of a good cup of coffee. Over the last few years we have developed a close relationship with them; there is just something about the library that just oozes community. I guess because the library is such a natural place for people to learn, read, and explore.

The librarians have a very service oriented attitude about them. As we sat and talked last night, our conversation gravitated toward the subject of “homeless people” in our area. Maybe it was steered there by the fact that in our dining room there is the painting I did of John Carryman, or maybe there was something else guiding our conversation. Our friends shared about the various experiences they have had with homeless people coming into the library, most of them seeking shelter from heat or cold. They too had come in contact with Bill (John Carryman’s real name).

Maybe our theme “common grounds” was quite appropriate, since we all have a common thread; we have all felt like at one time or another that we have no place to call home leaving us with a deep sense of loneliness.

I really don’t know what will come of our coffee caper, but I look forward to what happens next. I start volunteer computer tutoring there next Tuesday. I am glad to be associated with the people of the library and the good deeds that take place there.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

has the Kingdom Come?

I am reading a great little nugget of a book Kingdom Come. It really is helping me to grapple with some of the difficult words of Jesus. Jesus says, “But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you.” Answering St. John’s question “are you the one or should we expect another?” Jesus says , "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me." Matthew 11.

This being said, my daughters still get incredibly sick have awful skin infections and my friends suffer great affliction in life. So has the kingdom come? It seems as though it is not on earth as it is in Heaven.

As I was reading Kingdom Come this morning, I was reminded of a real life illustration. My daughter brought home a small seed planted in a cup. The cup has her name written on the front. Darla has been nudging that we should plant it in our garden. Well I have been some what reluctant to plant the thing because it is a cabbage seed. I don’t care for cabbage. Here are the facts, the seed is in the cup, the seed has all the potential to become a 40 pound cabbage plant if given the space to mature. The question is do I want it?

God has a little cup too. On the outside it reads Heaven and Earth. Inside the cup there is a seed. The seed is Jesus. Inside Jesus is the full germination potential to grow into the on earth as it is in Heaven reality. We have yet to fully realize the magnificent garden of fully restored lives. As Paul says to his fellow men “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed” Romans 8:19

Thank you Allen Wakabayashi for helping me to scratch another layer of the mystery of God, I think you had help!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

collision of spiritual significance

What does it look like when on-Earth-as-it-is-in-Heaven breaks through? According to Jewish tradition the gap between what we call spiritual vs. secular was very thin. There was hardly any delineation between the two planes. The spiritual realm for the Jewish people was a plane on which things are as God intends them to be. In this heavenly realm things remain for eternity in their “original design” state. This “original design” state is not rigid but fluid in composition and is held together by the very being of God or by his will for it to be as he intends. The atmospheric reality of this plane is one of peace, not void of war, but a sphere of divine harmony where everything is connected or integrated into one another.

The second plane was an earthly realm. This earthly realm was also created by the very being of God or by his will with “original design” intent. The atmospheric reality of this plane was also to be one of peace with the same sphere of divine harmony where everything is connected or integrated into one another. This beautiful earthly realm was given to mankind to nurture, tame, and cultivate.

Driven by greed, throughout history, mankind has taken this gift and exploited and consumed all its resources to satisfy our lust for more. The divine sphere of how-God intended-it-to-be was fractured. So mankind roamed the earthly realm conquering it tree by tree, river by river, people by people building an empire for ourselves. Mankind’s vision was and still is to create a world where things are as we want them to be.

In history the first century B.C. was a symbolic epic climax of man’s world empire. An invisible collision, greater than any Richter scale could measure, shattered the momentum of man’s empire. Like a divine magnetic explosion, the forward progress of greed was being reversed, a reversal that results in the restoration of the “original design.”

Today we find ourselves in an internal dilemma, will we peddle the crack of greed or will we be the agents of restoration? Will we become agents restoring the sphere of divine harmony, where everything is connected or integrated into one another, restoring the beautiful earthly realm that was given to mankind to nurture, tame, and cultivate?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

a different view

I hadn't watched it until tonight, but this video session with Rob Bell is in a nutshell the teaching that ruined Darla and I. And I mean that in the best way. We are ruined in being satisfied with the idea that just going to the church building is the height of the Christian life. We have been scratching our way into living the gospel today in a raw expression of faith in our little corner of north Tallahassee, Florida. When it happens, in the truest sense, it can't be explained. It's absolutely crazy. It's like a zoo! Hence the name "the real zoo," as a reminder of when we find ourselves in it. We don't have a clue as to what we are doing, but we are compelled to seek it where ever we are and where ever we go.

It is completely worth investing 40 minutes of your life time. There are a few more videos linked on the others on the journey page on which is meant to be a big bucket of resources for those who want to take a swim in the deep pool of life.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

365 degress of reflection

Today marks the one anniversary of stepping into the blogoshpere. Archive files make it easy to look backwards in order to see where we have been, maybe it will provide some direction as to where we are going or who we are becoming. Let’s peak inside:

March 05 - welcome to a relational space to ask questions without assuming the answers

April 05 - we are who we are, wherever we go, even to the Zoo

May 06 - inward journey… the first Abrahamic step of a meaningful journey of faith

October 05 - self-preservation vs. vulnerability in the context of community

November 05 - the deep root of the family circle – sharing life together – The homeless – John Carryman

December 05 - praying “on earth as it is in Heaven”
The Gospel has its own momentum; will I get in on The Amazing Invisible Project?
Anne Rice explores Jesus age 9, I remember fear and guilt at 10.
Narnia speaks!
(eNFp) Heralding the experiences of good and evil!
Courage to look into the unknown

January 06 – creative people must drink a cup of criticism now and then
Agents of good in a wreck of evil - entering the lament of King David
Face to Face sketch “wondering is a period of discovery and cleansing”
A slice of humble pie is hard to choke down – 2 degrees back on path
Friendship is the Blue Flame of Old sketch
Guilty of Murder you Idiot – controlling the thoughts of bitterness

February 06 – The journey of Alex and David begins
Handling the sacred scriptures with care not as a utility source
The passion of ONE
The earth-hands emerge – reading “Heaven is not my Home” by P. Marshall
Jealousy rears its ugly head like a venomous viper
Love take the wheel – a message from my valentine
A true community expressed in the “WORD” picture is my family
“the community you're longing for will be an extension of your love for Darla” Rob
Break on through to the other side…

March 06 – Lent for the 1st time – exploring what is separating me from LOVE
The hidden face of a Liar
Pay attention without going to sleep – Beholding a miracle by L. Kushner
Cleaning the inside of the bowl and the mildew on the outside of the house
Landscaping from the True Gardener
Confessional space heals the wounded heart
Alex and David – where are they going?
The Prayer of St. Patrick
The gospel goes mobile – the community of faith goes with us where ever we go
Loving the Complainer – joining the Exodus story

Well I guess looking back over the last year,

we have entered the creation story,
walked through the deconstruction steps just like Abraham,
and now we find ourselves in the wilderness with Moses and God’s people preparing ourselves to enter a new land full of possibilities where we will plant our own crops and build our owns dwelling communities.

Now that sounds exciting!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

loving the complainer

What do you do when find yourself caught up on the unknown path of faith where there is no map? We find ourselves in this place today. Having tried a small home bible study and failed miserably in conventional measurements, we are still traveling down the path looking for the possibilities of growing new relationships. Surely the Great Map Maker hasn’t left us out here to wonder aimlessly and to shrivel up. Is this what it felt like for my ancient brothers and sisters who traveled in the wilderness for 40 years while Yahweh was molding them into a nation?

Wikipedia has some interesting commentary on the Exodus. Having done some study over the years on the people of the Exodus, I considered them to be a bunch of whiners. Now I find myself one of the chief whiners. This journey is so HARD! It’s like breaking a habit, one that on the surface seems harmless. After living on the accolades of man to sustain our soul, we are looking to the Trinity to affirm our being. I know God has heard our complaining, we are dying over here! We are walking the Exodus story, it’s their story, and it’s our story. The scriptures are not just a bunch of things that happened; it’s a bunch of things that are happening, and they are happening to us now!

What is the manna and quail? What has been the spiritual nourishment while we have been the desert of life? Anne, David & Melissa, Rob, Gaston, Karen, Jeff, Dustin, Rod, you have been the spiritual nourishment of Jesus people loving the complainers. Through your comments, calls, blogs, and IM, you have helped us wrestle with “what is it” questions. We deeply appreciate each one of you! If you could only know how each one of you have held us together, while it seemed like we were coming loose at the seams. We long to be with each of you face to face. You have truly embodied, as the zoo people say, “on earth as it is in Heaven.”

May we stand together on the Mount as the Lord of Heaven and Earth proclaims over us You Are My People! I AM your GOD!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

do you have roaming?

Look around. We have become a mobile society. Every day we are bombarded with advertisements of the latest technology that will allow you to “take it with you.” From the RAZR to the iPod to Instant Messenger, even though you may be “away,” you are still connected with the people and things you associate yourself with. It used to be when you were in your car traveling you were simply unavailable, but now you are accessible as long as your battery is charged. Thank you to Rod Brace who charged my batteries to write this blog.

Why were these devices invented? We, as human, are intrinsically created as communal beings. From deep within our DNA, we have the desire to be connected. This desire drives our thoughts, actions and imagination, the desire to be connected, but yet as one airline company touts, “you are now free to roam about the globe.”

The question is: If we are constantly on the go, have we become less of ourselves? That may sound like a very strange question; so let’s try to rephrase it. Am I defined by where I am? In the past people have been known for who they are by geographical or physical location. But more recently, within the last 50 years because of mobility, people can be away from their “homeland” and still be wholly and completely themselves. An example would be, are the Harlem Globe Trotters less the Harlem Globe Trotters if they aren’t in Harlem? No. They are known by what they do. Another example of a people group who remained a people no matter of the geographical location is the Jews. These fellow men were a nomadic people. Whether in captivity or free, they were still the Jewish people. It was their actions and faith that defined who they were. Have we become Digital Nomads? Are we a people followed by the “largest digital network?” I guess that only applies if you have Verizon.

Now in a thriving mobile society, there seems to be a state of confusion for a lot of people who used to identify themselves with buildings, turf or labels. For those looking from outside, these identity-crisis people make other assumed identity people very nervous. Barna, one research group, estimates these identity-searching souls to be around 20 million. Closely related to their Jewish brother and sisters, they seek to find their identity not in buildings or services but rather in actions of service inspired by faith, hope, and love. In doing so, they have come alongside a movement that is as old as the Earth itself. They have become participants in The Sacred Project, a project that found its birth in the heart of God lived out in perfect demonstration by Jesus Christ. Throughout history many people have had a hard time with the followers of Jesus, yet very few have had a problem with the compassionate Jesus himself. Maybe these passionate seekers of community are trying to reclaim and restore the Spirit of Christ everywhere they go, not just calling people to come in and get the message, but to go mobile and allow the spirit of service and compassion to naturally germinate and cultivate everyone into life-long relationships where something unexplainable happens. People who once perceived life as futile, or who had no hope, or whom were so broken in spirit were contemplating suicide, now find themselves embraced by a love, a compassion, and a justice that breathes new life into their very soul.

So what does this mobile gospel look like? One piece of the puzzle looks like volunteerism. Volunteering as a teacher’s aid, or writing the neighborhood newsletter, or teaching the elderly how to use a computer at our local library are the avenues of service that my wife and I have found to be the most natural way to serve in our local context of community. When we serve out of a genuine desire to help, it creates space for something special to happen. On the other hand, if we were to volunteer out of a materialistic sense of personal gain or some kind of social status elevation, there is less room for organic faith to grow. We find ourselves stumbling through all of this wondering if anything is really happening. If we were to see with the eyes of the divine, I think we would see at least the fruit of genuine kindness and that is a beginning. When we are serving the people of the community around us through these various roles, we have taken The Message mobile. In essence, we can take it with us where ever we go.

May you type “LOVE” into your internal search engine and hit “GO!”

Friday, March 17, 2006

what to wear today?

This morning I was trying to find a green shirt to wear for St. Patrick’s Day. I guess I still have flashbacks as a middle school kid and getting pinched for not wearing green. I can’t help but to think about St. Patty’s Day falling in the middle of Lent. Does it matter?

I think St. Patrick thought about what he might clothe himself with. Here is his poem prayer from 433:

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the UnityThe Creator of the Universe.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.
I bind to myself todayT
he virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I bind to myself todayThe power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.

I bind to myself today
God's Power to guide me,
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to teach me,
God's Eye to watch over me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to give me speech,
God's Hand to guide me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to shelter me,
God's Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,Whether few or with many.

I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.

Christ, protect me todayAgainst every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ within me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ at my right,
Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the poop [deck],
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

Here is another writer, St. Paul, who also gives great advice on what to wear:

“Don't lie to one another. You're done with that old life. It's like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you've stripped off and put in the fire. Now you're dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.”
Colossians 3 (from The Message)

I am so glad that I found my green shirt today. May it remind me of my brother in the faith, St. Patrick of Ireland, who was once in chains (like Paul), and broke free to go and love his fellow man in service of the sacred mission.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Alex and David part 2

Attention all passengers of Flight 747 to Denver, due to weather conditions Flight 747 has been delayed…

David let out a sigh of frustration. Alex asked if that was his flight. David responded that it was. David was on his way to Cellular Expo 06 in Denver. He was an aspiring designer of a new kind of cellular device. He had been working for many months on his concept and was going to the Expo to share his vision with anyone who would listen.

About that time a 5 second sound bit of U2’s Sometimes You can’t make it on your own played out of nowhere. Alex reached inside his denim jacket and pulled out his cell phone.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Lent is difficult

For me Lent has been a reminder of my brokenness. Broken thoughts. Broken speech. Broken actions. Lent is an individual journey, but I think it is something that can be shared with someone close, if you are willing to enter into it whole heartedly.

The closest person that I can tell my deep dark struggles is my wife. We have come to the place where we are giving each other room to stumble into the mystery of faith. There is no pretending or putting on the mask. Vulnerability is a scary proposition for anyone.

Am I willing to risk the loss of my most treasured friend by disclosing the underground world of my temptations? As I enter into the confessional space with my soul mate, the questions of doubt roll of my tongue. The little voice in my mind tells me she will not understand, she will think less of me, she will think I am weak. Don’t go there!!!

In fear and trembling I confess the ever subtle shades of evil that lurk in my heart. Almost immediately I am internally confronted with accusations of failure and disappointment. Once again I am a child, asking the question, will you still love me if you know what is deep down inside?

Lent is difficult. Sharing this Lent season with my wife may be the closest understanding I can comprehend of the grace of God. A grace made known in the life, death, and resurrection in Jesus Christ. There must be a deep connection between an honest marriage where grace and mercy abound. Just as Darla gives me space to fall, Jesus gives me the stumbling space to explore the fullness of his mercy. Confessional space is where his heart finds mine and we are reconciled to one another. In him the accusations are dispelled and I am found again. I am truly loved beyond all I can comprehend. In my tears, the waves of forgiveness roll in and I swept into his Love.

There is nothing that can separate me from the love of Christ.

May you come to know again the joy of your salvation in this season of Lent.

Friday, March 10, 2006

post this on all the blogs

Dear friends,

Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God's righteousness doesn't grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.

Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don't act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

Paul to the people of God in Colosse

Friday is garbage day for our neighborhood, may it also be for me today. AMEN

Monday, March 06, 2006

clutter and clean

Wow this weekend was so beautiful. Dirt, grime, mildew, all made for one disgusting weekend. One part bleach, one part JoMax, and three parts water, and BAMM you’ve got yourself one heck of an aluminum siding cleaning solution. As I sprayed the side of the house, I watched the grime and mildew melt away. Once I began, cleaning became almost therapeutic. I was determined to finish the project last night, even with having to make a trip to the grocery store for more bleach. As the last bit of sunlight faded, I rinsed the last coat off. It was finished. Or at least we are now ready to work on the next project.

While I was at work on the outside, Darla was busy at work on the inside. Deep cleaning in the closets can be a daunting task. Where do you start? Two thirty gallon bags later, she emerged from the kid’s room. Simplify. That is the way to go.

I can’t help but to see that what we do in our physical life has some reflection as to what is happening on our spiritual journey. I would have rather played golf and I am sure Darla had other things she would rather do than clean the house. Cleansing and simplifying must be spiritual disciplines. Not that we are completely clean and have simplified every area of our life, but at least we are on the journey together.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

i love the library

“The burning bush was not a miracle. It was a test. God wanted to find out whether or not Moses could pay attention to something for more than a few minutes. When Moses did, God spoke.

The trick is to pay attention to what is going on around you long enough to behold the miracle with out falling asleep. There is another world, right here within this one, whenever we pay attention.” Rabbi Lawrence Kushner
 Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 02, 2006

small but deep fractures

Of course the first day of lent will start off good, then at some point eventually turn south. Mostly because I have such strong convictions to do the right thing, but my life is so delicately woven together made up of tiny fractures, eventually I have this sense that things could be falling apart.

It is amazing to me how small those splinters are but how they seem to be so distinctive and so deep within us. One of my fractures is the fear of disappointing others, becasue I have been disappointed before. I find myself willing to go to just about any extreme to avoid having to disappoint someone.

I may leave out a minor detail or present an idea only sharing one side of the equation or intentionally withholding information so that the possiblity of someone being hurt or disappointed by the hard truth won't be so hard.

I can remember as a 9-10yr old wanting something so bad, that I stole money from my dad's coin drawer to pay for it. When I was caught, I didn't want him to think less of me so I lied to prevent him from thinking less of me. That is a deep crack covered by almost 30 years of life. And for what ever reason, the first day of Lent I return to that crack and to how deep it runs. Yesterday I had to tell one of our vendors at the office that we are leaving them for a competitor due to cost and more advanced technology. I could hear the disappointment in his voice and all at once I was that 9 yr old boy again. Can the One who suffered take that from the deepest part of my soul? Oh how I would love for that fracture to be finally "set" as a broken bone of life.

And here is today's reading from the Mars Hill Lent booklet:

"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts F97 ; you teach F98 me wisdom in the inmost place. 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. "

The lament of David... Psalm 51 NIV Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

a season of anticipation and restoration

Today is the beginning of the season of Lent. I have never really appreciated this time of the year. Yesterday my first born child came home very excited about Lent, she said her teacher (in public school) had explained why Lent was observed. She was stirred with passion. Because of her initiation, we are observing Lent as a family.

For me Lent has been about giving something up over a 40 day period, like chocolate or fatty foods. After listening to the Lent discussion from Mars Hill (Grand Rapids) I am coming to an awareness that Lent is about something greater. If God’s big project is about bringing wholeness to a broken people, then Lent is an anticipation of that work realized in His Son Jesus Christ. I am asking myself, where am I most broken on the inside from the Hope that is promised? Many of you know of my bout with jealousy, I am giving that over to Him, because I don’t know how to give it up. I want to be restored and completely made whole from that self-inflicted wound.

Today on the way into work, I got a three wick candle to illuminate my way as I go through the work day. It is a reminder for me that I am being restored moment by moment.

May the scent of the LORD be upon you and guide you through the deepest journey of forgiveness and mercy. May the nostrils of your soul breathe in and out the goodness of Yahweh. May your light shine the Glory of the One who holds all things together. Amen Posted by Picasa