Saturday, April 29, 2006

Who do you say God is?

Having stepped out of “Big church” nearly 18 months ago, I have wrestled with what does it mean to be an expression of faith on earth today. Over the last several months it has become increasingly clear that it really doesn’t matter what I say I believe about God, what matters is what does my life speak about how I live who God is.

Here are some questions to explore:

If I say that God is like a Father, but yet I hold a grudge against my father till the day I die, then do I really live what I say to be true?

If I say that I believe that Jesus was the atonement for the wrongs of all generations, but at the same time I consistently refuse to forgive others, then do I really live what I say to be true?

If I say that I believe that God created the heavens and the earth with the power of his words, and yet I consistently choose to rip people apart with my words of criticism and slander, then do I really live what I say to be true?

If I say that God is best expressed in my limited vocabulary as a Community of Oneness (Father, Son, and Spirit), and yet I can’t stand to be around other people and have no interest what-so-ever in getting together with other people who are curious about God, then do I really live what I say to be true?

If I believe that Jesus conquered death so that I might know true life, and yet I walk this earth as a dead man without hope by constantly refusing to face the decay and pain in my heart by numbing it with materialism, chemicals, or any other substitute, then do I really live what I say to be true?

If I believe that God gave up his only Son for generations of people he has never met, but I can’t part with my favorite _______, then do I really live what I say to be true?

If I believe that “church” is the expression of Jesus on earth now, and all I do is go to a building with a steeple on the top once a week and label myself as a “church-goer”, then do I really live what I say to be true?

If I believe the words of Jesus when he says “anyone who wants to find real life must give up his life now,” and yet I wouldn’t dare risk leaving my successful career in order to share and give my life away to a group of people that I have never met, then do I really live what I say to be true?

This was just a starter list for me…what if I went through all the list of things I say that I believe in and I find that nowhere in my life do I see evidence that I am living out these core beliefs? Is it possible that I am not really who I say I am? As much as society would have us to believe that our identity is based on a list of things we say we believe in, I just don’t think that is a reality of who God sees as an expression of faith on earth today.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

sick and tired of being sick and tired

Monday night I checked into our local Urgent Care facility after battling with sinus pressure and sneezing for the last seven days. The diagnosis was a viral infection to which I was prescribed a nasal spray and a magic pill that was supposed to make feel better. Mostly I feel weak and light headed with a runny nose.

All of that said, I am very excited about meeting Darla’s friend Candace and her husband Brian last Sunday. What an incredible journey they are on! I think about them everyday. My hope is that the One who holds all things together will give them wisdom and focus for the path that He has laid out for them. After sharing our stories together for eight hours straight, I got a sense that we share the same passion to see the movement of love-hope-and-grace move forward.

The Creator only knows how far reaching his Project will bring together families, friends, and strangers to fulfill his purpose. May we all keep our eyes and ears open to hear what the Spirit of God is saying. May it be on earth as it is in Heaven.

PS. I am glad Jesus’ mission includes healing the sick, especially those like me who are sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Friday, April 21, 2006

the formation of a family of faith in Tallahassee

Over the last few years it has become apparent to us that there is more to this life of hope than just attending a church building on any given Sunday. Not to discredit the fact that despite our miserable attempts to “do church” the One who is Truth seems to redeem our acts of service and worship in any given setting. In our journey over the last 18 months, we have experienced a variety of seasons, extreme pain (leaving the Intuitional Church & enduring the after effects of a SUV roll over accident involving our entire family), acknowledging our wounds (admitting the self inflected wounds as well as those from our friends and family), a healing time (being willing to forgive others and ourselves and to move towards re-entering the larger community of faith).

By no means does this mean that we have it all figured out, far from it. What it does mean is that we are passionate about what it means to Love God with all of our being and to love others in the same way that we love ourselves. We sense that we have been brought through these various seasons for a reason. One is to connect with our ancient fathers of the faith who experienced the painful departure of what they knew as home, deal with their own inner demons, and then make the turn towards a life of giving hope to others who are afraid to step into real life. Two is that we are meant to be connected with people who are searching for a real expression of faith that is not dependant upon one fixed headquarters but that is good news goes where ever we go.

It is at this juncture that we find ourselves today. It seems the next step is to ask the One who gathers together those who wander in order that we might be brought together in his expression of faith in this community of Tallahassee.

May you the Creator of all things bring about the formation of a family of hope. Let not our eyes be blinded or jaded by the outward appearance of our new brothers and sisters. Rather give us the eyes of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to see your hands at work in the hearts of our fellow man. Come with haste lest we grow weary in the journey. May our divine mission be as was yours: to bind up the broken hearted as you have bound us, to proclaim liberty as you have liberated us, to open the prison doors of despair as you have release us, and as we go about our day may the good news about what the LORD has done for us be on our lips. Thank you for hearing our prayers for you are the Faithful One. Amen.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

stories from the road of faith

With permission of a close friend, I am sharing this email with my fellow travelers on the road of faith.

Last Friday I was driving from Denver to Colorado Springs in a little 1994 LeBaron (picture it...not very studly). Right outside a little town called Monument, the serpentine belt slipped off and the temperature gage shot up. I drove it to the only mechanic in the town and had a rental agency come deliver a car while he kept mine for the weekend.

Getting back on the freeway, in a much nicer ride, I saw and old Indian or Hispanic man with luggage standing by the road. I just had a strong feeling I was supposed to pick him up and give him a ride. Maybe it was because I had just experienced the desperation of not having transportation. As it turns out, he was on his way back to Phoenix after visiting a relative that was sick in Denver. His name was Ordell Iron Shell. After some small talk about his native Indian culture he told me how similar some of the old Indian spiritual lessons were to those found in Jesus' teachings. Then he spent the rest of the way to Colorado Springs telling me how Jesus had changed his life after being in the military. He explained several ways he's experienced having new life in Christ...being dead to self but alive in Him. He sang one of the Christian worship songs he has set to traditional Indian rhythms/chants and told me how he is focused on sharing Christ’s message through his music.

Listening to this extremely optimistic and focused man caused the trip to pass really quickly. I dropped him off in a parking lot close to where the Interstate splits toward Phoenix. He thanked me and I thanked him for reminding me how God cares for us in all situations, especially those in which we can’t see the future. I drove off with him standing at the edge of a big restaurant parking lot sprinkled with cars. As I made a U-turn, I thanked God for the image of a man that had “nothing”…no transportation, no financial security, no impressive job tile…but who continued to openly praise God. After making the quick U-turn, I glanced back to wave. The big lot was still sprinkled cars, but I didn’t see Ordell anywhere. I thought about the scripture of “entertaining angels an our midst” and just thanked God for my powerful life lesson

After reading this I couldn't help to realize that the One who holds all things together is larger than I could ever image, but small enough to squeeze into the knicks and crannies of everyday life.

May you experience great joy no matter what lurks just around the curve of life.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

we're all travelers on the road of faith

Today was so beautiful. The sunrise service at Lake Ella was just inspirational. We worshiped in song and prayer in remembrance of the resurrection of Jesus with our family and with family from Watermark and other neighboring churches.

We celebrated God’s restoration project by walking around the Lake and observing all of his creation. It was in the cool of the morning, did we hear the steps of the LORD among us?

Maybe it was the fountain springing forth from the water that gave the sense that we were walking on holy ground or maybe it was the love of our our family enjoying a worship time together or maybe it was both.

At Maclay Gardens we once again returned to remember where it all began, in the garden. As we walked through the rows of flowers and shrubbery, Darla commented, “This must have been what it was like to walk in the way God intended it to be.” I agreed.

Just as we were about to leave, we stopped at the gazebo looking over Lake Hall. We came upon a young man and woman. He was reading a bible, she was leaning back talking on her cell phone. We talked for several minutes about life and God. It was really amazing. We shared our journeys. We realized that all of us knew that there could be something more to this walk of faith than just going to a building once a week. They also were into the Hebraic roots of the Christian faith. As we drew our conversation to an end we prayed and thanked God for his goodness and for Yeshua. It was an amazing time of community. We will continue to remember Tim and his sister Bethany as they walk out their expression of faith and love in their local community.

Today was truly a day that the One who holds all things together has made! Amen

Friday, April 14, 2006

return to the Garden

Last year, as a tribe of the Zoo people, the Winn family made a tradition breaking exploration to celebrate the Day when the way it is in Heaven broke through on earth. It is a day to celebrate, a day when Love covered a multitude of hate, Good defeated evil, and when life conquered death. In America, we call this day Easter.

For the first time in many years, we woke up Easter morning not in a frenzy or frantic pace to adorn ourselves in our newly purchased attire, but in a state of anticipation of what the day might hold for our family. Packing up a basket of food and drinks, we made our way to Maclay Gardens. I had been thinking about how truly brilliant the Creator is, and how he crafted the most life-giving message that began and climaxed in the setting of a garden. So off we set to find ourselves in the story of the garden, literally.

“The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.” Genesis 2:8

A garden is a place of fully loaded potential. On many levels a garden is a place where something comes from the source of all things. What was once just dirt becomes an incredible organic mystery. The garden is where Hope emerges.

“Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.” John 19:41

As we roam this earth and see all the death and decay, it is easy to question whether or not all the good, the fully load potential, has been pushed out or destroyed. But alas, Hope is not lost, for someone has restored the original beauty of the garden. He is One.

Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!" John 20:15

So once again, we will find our way to Maclay Gardens this Sunday to celebrate the LORD’s Day. With our hopes alive, we will look to find Him, and see that He is with us. With His fully charged potential, we will grow as a one, a family, the core of community.

No matter where you plan to be this Sunday, may you find yourself in the story of the Garden. May the Gardner of souls make His face shine upon you. And may you know his Love once more anew. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Actively bringing about a change...or ...Keepin’ it all in line

Catalyst...or ...Conductor

Moses…or …Aaron

Who are you?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

the cactus story continues

About nine months ago we started a thread on the labeled "church planting," we had no idea where the journey would take us. There was a post about a Cactus, a wedding gift that Darla and I had been given nearly 14 years ago. The gift was a small cactus in a 5-gallon planter. The cactus saw 9 different homes in our first 10 years of marriage. Needless to say the cactus is a good metaphor for our marriage, sometimes prickly and other times it is the aloe of healing like no other natural remedy.

It wasn't until moving to Tallahassee that we finally planted it in our garden. This picture is the cactus after our surgery some nine months ago when we removed some branches that were too heavy, causing the plant to fall over and to start to uproot itself. It must have really needed pruning.

After removing the branches, we placed them in a wheelbarrow and put them in our garage. It took some very careful preparation and care to deal with these prickly branches. In our marriage, we have also carefully given each other space to grow and grapple with our own thorny inner demons.

Over the last few months the branches have started growing in the wheelbarrow. I am just blown away by how this cactus can grow inside my garage with no water, no soil, and very little sunlight.

Sometimes new growth comes in the most hostile environment. There must be something special inside that cactus that can cause it to withstand being out of its natural habitat. (I can't help but to think our spiritual journey from the "institution of church" into "becoming the church.")

As Darla shared in her post about our oldest daughter giving up "running to home plate," we are really beginning to see growth in our marriage and our children as we have been in this season of "intensive family care." Thank you to the One who wants to heal our souls, our families, and all our relationships. He has done good things for us!

Is this cactus gospel ready to go mobile? Can it be planted into the rich soil of those who want to receive the seed of Jesus and his incredible message of hope and restoration? This is my prayer.

We also planted a couple of sprouts in two more large 5-gallon planters and here is what they look like today.

Every day I walk by the wheelbarrow in the garage and the plants in our garden and I wonder when the time will come to go out and plant more? What are we waiting for? I think we are just scared we are going to mess it up or something... I pray for courage and humility. I pray for wisdom and guidance. Did I mention we also have 5 bags of 40 pound potting soil in our garage too?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

this is an audio post - click to play

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

noticeably different

“When God delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt, he gathered them together at Mt. Sinai in order to give them the law (the Way). He instructed them, through Moses, about what it meant to be his special people. The law was not a way for Israel to earn God's favor; rather, the law was meant to tell Israel how to live so that they would show the rest of the world what it meant to serve the living and true God. In his Commentary on Exodus, Old Testament Scholar John Durham writes that to be a holy nation meant to be "set apart, different than all the other people by what they ate and what they are becoming, a display people, a showcase to the world of how being in covenant relationship with Yahweh changes people." Allen M. Wakabayashi author of Kingdom Come

You know I always heard the "set apart" as a way of justifying the Christian sub-culture. But now I hear it differently, more as "noticeably different" but still right in the middle of current culture to "put on display" the Way of living in harmony with God and restoring His creation.

“So when God gave Israel laws about how to treat one another and how to treat the alien, the poor, the orphan, and the widow, God did not mean to say, "Ok, you do this; then you get into Heaven." Rather, he meant, "Do this to show the rest of the world what I am like and what I desire for humanity. Act in these ways so that the world knows that I desire loving relationships. Show them that I love the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the alien." The law was meant to reveal the true and living God to the world through his people.” A. Wakabayashi

Sad to say, most of the time I don’t feel “noticeably different,” but I really want to know the Way!

Monday, April 03, 2006

an invitation to the secret message of Jesus

Darla and I just ordered Brian McLaren’s new book The Secret Message of Jesus. I flipped through it at Barnes & Noble and it looks like a good book to wrestle with. We are opening up a discussion forum on theRealZoo mBoard for this book. Maybe this will give us some “off the map” territory to roam together. This might be a good way to explore questions, doubts or whatever as they come up. Our hope is that this will create some space for spectators to become participants in the uncharted waters of faith.

In addition to that topic, we also added a link to the daily Lexionary readings here (side colomn under the clock)and a corresponding discussion forum for the readings. I was encouraged by RJ’s reading of Jeremiah 31 on Sunday, and was compelled to seek out the history of the ancient liturgical readings. I find it somewhat romantic knowing that I am joining in with my brothers and sisters across the globe in reading the sacred text and praying the laments of the patriarchs of the faith. For our story is their story and their story is ours. May we all experience a deep connection with those who have come before us and with those who will come after us.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

church 2 church

Tonight I had a great evening with some of my brothas’ and sistas’ from another motha’who meet in a rented coffee bar in mid-town Tallahassee as a new community of faith called Watermark. They have been sharing life together for about a year or so and have a small group of college/post-college folks who seem very interested in being Jesus to the community.

It was cool to come from “www” to the “real world” and connect with other disciples of Jesus. RJ, the guitar guy, introduced me as the guy he met online who has an online community of faith called theRealZoo. When he said that, I realized that an online community is just one slice of God’s Big Project that I see people of faith being called to be in the world today.

My dream is that theRealZoo will continue to be an online community but that also has real world connections with the people we find ourselves in natural connection with locally and nationally. From the schools our daughters go to, to the people we work with, and the places we patron every day like the Library or Tropical Smoothie are all part of theRealZoo community because when we are there we bring the community of faith with us. I believe we are all part of the mobile Gospel on the largest network of history.

It was good to sip and sing with the people of Watermark. I connected with RJ as he sang about “Help us Lord to love mercy, Help us to love justice, Help us to love all people.” I believed that RJ believes what he is singing, and that makes all the difference. This is the kind of people I would gladly join hands and hearts to serve the poor, the oppressed and marginalized in Tallahassee, Florida. May the One who holds all things together by his Word bring forth his plan in his timing and may we church to church partner with one another so that no needs go by unmet.

As we left, we had candles that we lit to represent our prayers of faith that the way of Jesus would be realized in the communities we call home. Thank you Michael Anthony, RJ, Stratton, Caleb, Jim, Dave, Trisha, Jim, Rob the tattoo guy for welcoming a total stranger into your community like a brother in the faith.

May each of you who read this find yourselves engaged in bringing Heaven to earth in whatever expression of faith the Creator calls you to be. May you be the good news wherever you go.