Sunday, December 23, 2007

What a Long Strange Trip it's Been

A year ago, as I prepared to make my traditional Christmas dinner (see post tomorrow) and looking at the new year, I felt like crap and was making plans for dialysis in the new year.

What a long strange trip it's been.

One year later, I'm sitting here having started the day with a 3.6 mile run (I've run 5 times this week) and am making plans to go to China -- for a class in my Doctorate and a side trip with my wife Kelly to check out Kunming for possible (maybe probable) relocation and ministry -- Lord willing -- starting in August.

What a long strange trip it's been.

Hopelessness (though with a sense of hope but unclear what it would look like) one year ago.

Hopefulness (with a wonder at how blessed I am)

A friend said to me the other day "are you nuts, thinking about going to China?" "I mean, you've got a great house and a good life here." "But there, man, it's a pit -- why would you do that."

My response is thankfulness to God for my illnesses and uncertainty that they have exposed me to. Think of all the people God called to minister in "hard" conditions -- so very many of them were "blessed" with poor health and disease in their past. I'll let you in on a secret: Going to "suffer" in China sounds so wonderful, it feels like I've won the lottery to even be considered by God as a candidate to be used by him as a blessing to widows and orphans -- like the homeless little girl at the top of the page walking past policemen who seemingly don't care, and the baby in the grime -- in a place with such great need. I'm a naturally selfish guy (I don't have to try hard to want my own way). Yet God, God alone is able to mold missionaries -- so often through prying our fingers away from the things that we normally want to get our comfort in.

"You'd be making such a sacrifice." Really? Huh. It doesn't feel like it at all -- and I know that's not me,'cause I'm actually not a very good person.

What a long strange trip it's been.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Missional Church

Over coffee at the Blue Mug the other day, my friend Geoff and I got talking about what it means to be a missional church. Must it mean -- as Geoff and I had tended to agree it did previously -- that the church as a body moved saw itself as part of the Missio Dei and thus acted outwardly (in mission) together. Or, might it mean also a church where the individual members lived lives of missionality?

Put another way, does the church have to act together or can it be comprised of people who incarnate Christ to the world individually. I'm tending to think both.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Audience or Church

Just finishing up Exiles by Michael Frost -- good book, recommend it to everybody.

Anyway, in talking about the flow of how what we think of "church" happens -- referring the "church" event, Frost makes several very good points about the communal worship experience needing to flow out of a community of people who love God, are part of his mission -- feel a sent of joint sentness -- coming together to corporately to express their worship of God together. A couple of points that were particularly interesting, first, Frost's list of distinctive between an audience and a church (which sounds more like you when you enter your church?)

1. Critical (you paid money and you want a decent show)
2. Unconnected to anybody else (highly individual)
3. Expectant (hoping the show will be good)
4. No relationship with the performers
5. Facing the same direction
6. Focused on receiving not giving
7 Generally passive
8. Easily Bored
9. Expected Norms (You'll be silent, you'll stay seated until the end)

1. A family of deep trusting relationships
2. A body of interconnected, interrelated parts
3. Everyone is gifted and expected to contribute
4. Compassionate, caring
5. Generous, hospitable
6. Focused on giving
7. High priority on unity
8. A royal priesthood, everyone enjoying access to God.

Which one of these two, call them A or B as opposed to church or audience actually looks more like most of our churches? Which one of these looks more like what is described as church in the bible.

You say, "oh, that's our small group, not our church."


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Belong, Believe and Behave -- or, um Behave

This video from my friend Alan's blog is brilliant. Give it a look (for those of you who wouldn't normally click the link do so just because it is a skit that involves fruit, which is always cool).

Seriously, give it a look.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Blessed Are The Children

God has a special place for the children -- so honest, not yet learning to put up the fronts that we all put up to make ourselves look better in others eyes.

I watched this little child as she walked down the street -- in this picture right past a group of police -- and at each trash can reached in to her elbows to pull out pieces of food. The bottom of her pants filthy, the front of her shirt soiled from the dirt of the waste baskets that she came in contact with each corner.

She swung her basket like any playful child would -- but where does she go at night, where does she lay her head. I so wanted to go up to her, but what could I do -- it is not her who cannot speak, but I. And, where, in this country where 1/3 of all orphans are uncared for, would I take her.

Jesus loves the little children -- and calls us to demonstrate that love to them (even if it means learning Mandarin and going to China to do so).

Hey, I'm in China

Well, I made it safely to Kunming, Hanan, China. Left early early on Monday -- 12:45am and got to my hotel at a little after noon on Tuesday.

God gave me a glimpse of what it must be to live as a marginalized person, maybe the poor in the US. I was in Beijing and had to change planes, but my 1st plane was late, and I did not speak the language, and the sighs were unclear and as I was running through the airport to the wrong gate (I was told the wrong gate by the ticket lady) and then ran to the other gate, totally confused and feeling lost, I though how often must the marginalized or really poor fell like they have no way to be heard. Anyway, just a thought.

Tomorrow is all meetings -- from 8:30 until 4:30.. Today, after check-in went out to lunch, a really good rice and dried beef thing with veggies (2.50 American) and walked around the open market. Tonight we are going to walk around, see the lights.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Off The Map

Up here in Seattle for the Off The Map Conference which I am attending as part of my Dmin degree at Bakke Graduate University.

I heard something particularly interesting and new. In all the talk about the unprecedented age that the Church is in now -- in a culture that is post modern, post Christian, etc., etc., I had never heard the perspective presented by Dianne Butler Bass, author of Christianity for the Rest of Us.

Ms. Butler Bass states that the times that we are in and that the Church is facing is not unprecedented, but rather consistent with 2,000 years of Church history. Specifically she said that in western culture there has been a dramatic change every 500 years -- a significant shift in world views, most recently with the reformation in the 1500’s. She asserted that it is more than just change in technology or taste, but in the ways people think about the universe. She stated that this is where we are on the historical time line, that the Church in our time is like the Church in each one of these transformation periods. And, that some new form of Christianity emerges at each of these transition times.

I had never heard this before and found it fascinating.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Back Home

Well, we are back home as of noon today (Friday). Our house is still here, our stuff still here, lots and lots of black soot covering everything, and the smell of smoke everywhere.

Many many people went back to their homes only to find them gone - piles of rubble and pieces of medal. I'm thankful that we didn't have to go through that. Primarily because of all the energy that it would take to go through all the bureaucratic red tape -- how do you continue your full time job while navigating the insurance and building process? I feel for those people.

I'm thankful that I am not in that position, and I'm thankful that God has shown into my heart that most of my stuff doesn't mean that much to me. Is God using this evacuation experience as a call to further simplicity? Could be.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fire Part III

So much devestation, so much saddness, so much loss.

Many many good friends, however are back in thier homes and safe blocks away from other homes that are now rubble.

We are still evacuated -- the fire near us 0% contained. We were told to call back Thursday to see about the evacuation status. Found out today that an arsonist was arrested in our neighborhood about 2 hours after we were evacuated yesterday -- just can't get my mind around that one.

The winds are beginning to turn around, which means more moisture, more humidity and the fire being forced to turn back on itself and die -- good things.

Blessings, blessings, and more blessings to all who are going through this.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I woke up to a friend from Pasadena calling and asking if we were ok. Telling him that it was really smokey, but no word yet about how close the fire was, I saw a sheriff's car with lights flashing out my bedroom window "THERE IS AN IMMEDIATE MANDATORY EVACUATION IN PROGRESS, EVERYBODY MUST LEAVE THEIR HOMES IMMEDIATLY." We had loaded most of our important stuff (which surprisingly fits easily into one car)-- I really could do without all the rest of the stuff, but that is another post for another day.

Up 65 miles to Orange County and the folks' house, a nice restful day and now an evening watching fire come over the crest about a three miles away. 15 fire engines just passed by the house to the fire, so that is a good sight. As for now, we are refugees...kind of. Nothing like so many people the world over experience. But, a reminder of how little the stuff we have really matters.

Maybe God has us here to help my elderly parents evacuate -- hope not, but you never know.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Spent the day watching TV coverage as fires ravaged the county of San Diego, while walking around my house each half an hour or so to see if there was any smoke or flames closing in on us.

After a night filled with wind and more wind, woke up this morning to early calls from multiple friends told to evacuate, but no call for us, no flames visible, but enough smoke for watery eyes and parched throat. Now we are packing up the car -- still no fire real close -- but preparing ourselves what promises to be a long long night of watching and waiting, 90% sure that the fire won't come in the night to take our home. It's that 10% that's the kicker, right?

Prayers out to all of you who have had to evacuate -- so far more than a quarter of a million people, to all whose homes have been lost my prayers and my sadness.

Who could imagine that sitting around doing nothing all day would be so physically and emotionally exhausting.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Help Desk

Somethings apparently never change. Check out this quite funny video for about the universality of time, language and cultural use of the Help Desk.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

I'm Back

Ok, so I consider myself computer savvy -- to the point that I have to confess that I give my wife a hard time for the fact that she has trouble with what I consider somewhat basic things.

I must eat humble pie.

I wanted to blog with pictures from our trip to Colorado for the CRM US Ministries conference in Estes Park, but I could not sign in because I could not remember my password. I tried "forgot password?" and had a new one sent, but even that didn't work. Well, without giving anything away, I'm back on and not as computer savvy as I thought I was.

So, a bunch of us are up here in Anaheim for the first few days of the week to discuss the direction of our ministries, lessons and applicability to the broader mission of Church Resource Ministries. Normally it is team leaders and now that includes leaders of Communitas -- what we are involved in -- which is essentially starting and mentoring those who start missional communities (see post number one). So, I will make an effort to write on anything that I think you (the 3 readers) might think interesting (this one does not count).

Meetings start tomorrow and now I'm in a hotel alone (above is a picture of me in said hotel room) waiting for others to show up and perhaps go out for a bite and a brew.

Next post to come shortly.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I feel great!

Two weeks ago today, I was in the hospital, being prepped for a kidney transplant. My friend Michele volunteering to undergo surgery and give me one of her kidneys.

Now, this is my third transplant -- a testing or trial that as you can imagine I cannot fully (or really 1/2 fully for that matter) understand. It's an exercise in trust, really. And I know that God is always teaching me to trust Him more -- and how I desire that too.

The surgery went really good (I'm told, I slept through it you know). My kidney numbers are really good with a few exceptions that are still a bit out of wack. But, I feel great. I have not felt this good in so long. I wake up at 6:00 and can't wait to get out of bed while the house is quiet, to read God's word and meditate on his goodness. I was so tired before, I looked forward to having energy back. I know with every fiber of my being that I am blessed. There are people on dialysis for years and years, yet after 5 months a transplant for me.

Today is the 4th of July, and independence day means something special for me today. Independence from feeling like crap all the time, yet asking God to help me hold it loosely, to realize that every good day, and every good gift, and those things that I cannot explain are from Him, a loving God who is for me.

"Lord, I feel great!" "Please help my feelings for you to be independent on my feelings for me."

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Are You Called To Start A Church?

Ok, here's my theory. Well, maybe it is not a theory so much as something I've observed several times and extrapolate to broader application (Yeah, that's a theory, right?). Here goes:

If you sit down and talk to people in their mid 20's who grew up going to church, you will find that for many, they at some point stopped going to chruch. Mosst of these will tell you that one of the main reasons they stopped was that they just didn't seem to fit, or that their seemed a lack of something real going on there and so they stopped, no anouncement, no declaration, they just stopped going. And if you ask them, the problem wasn't God, it wasn't Jesus. The probem was church -- even if they couldn't really explain what exactly it was. And, they felt a little guilty about it. Some of the these people are back at church, some arn't.

But, for ever one of these church disatisfied but not God disatisfied people, there are 15 or so others in thier sphere of influance, people who they grew up in church with, who had a similar experience, but were not so thoughtful about where the problem lay, instead they chucked it all -- God, Jesus, church. The put them all in the no or I don't know catagory. And they are not back in church.

That's my theory, this 1-15 ratio. People who are disatisfied with church but not God and people who are less thoughtful who have chucked the whole thing.

The theory gives rise to a call: While none of these 15 would go with you to church, they'd all come to your house -- if your one of the 1's (even on a regular basis) to share a meal, share concerns, share prayer requests, and even share questions about the Word, written and incarnate.


So We Tried To Stop Them

This morning I was reading in Luke 9 the sad, sadly funny and completely contemporary exchange where John comes up to Jesus to excitedly tell him the great thing he had done for the cause: "I saw people doing kingdom work, but they weren't part of our team, so I stopped them." The bible merely says that Jesus told John not to stop them, because if they are not against us they are for us -- you've all heard the quote. But I wonder what his expression was, or what else was going through his head. I think that maybe he looked at John like I look at my dog when he gets all tangled up in his leash. He does it time and time again, and it is so stupid, but I love him and untangle him.

This week I heard about a controversy at a church we are close to. They are having a conference with the subtitle "Are Science and Faith Compatible?" I did not know that that question was still up in the air, but that is another post. The point of this is the controversy -- hostility and threats from the church, threats to resign membership and more. The young pastor who was put in charge of the conference at the last minute and has received dozens of hostile e-mails, said, "This was supposed to be an event to bring non-Christians to and now I'm afraid our members are going to picket."

So, you ask, what is this huge controversy? One of the speakers believes in an old earth (and our church's official position -- if we even have one -- is a new earth, literal 24 hour day creation and all). And so, we are allowing someone to speak on a Wednesday night who does not believe exactly as the church does (even though he is not speaking on anything related to old/new earth!) And so he must be stopped, the conference must be stopped.

One exchange took place at the end of one of the largest (hundreds of folks) Sunday school classes. One of the lay leaders loudly telling others that he had resigned his membership because "(the senior pastor) lied to me, he said we would never have anybody in the pulpit who did not believe that the bible is the infallible word of God." This over a guy who believes that God might have created the earth in days that were longer than 24 hours. Now, that issue for me, I don't really care. God created it and that is a wonderful thing. But the hostility that has in this case risen to the surface -- we will stop the work of the kingdom if it is not done by people who are with us -- it's really sad.

This story is merely the dirty laundry of one unnamed church (it could be many church's), but it is a symptom of the inward, inbred, nature of so many communities of faith. Jesus started his ministry proclaiming that the Kingdom of God was among the people of his day and that he must go and proclaim that good news. Well, the Kingdom of God is still among us, and now we are charged to proclaim that good news. When we stop those who are doing Kingdom work, or we fight against those doing Kingdom work, or gossip about or look down our noses at those doing Kingdom work, because they are not part of our particular tribe, stripe or group we are quite frankly working against God's kingdom, rather than for it.

I guess that's all I have to say about it. Let's all look for opportunities to partner with someone who is doing Kingdom work -- maybe they don't even know they are doing kingdom work.

What a head scratcher it will be for them when you tell them.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Where Has Civility Gone?

So, I try not to post on dialysis days -- the mind just doesn't work well and the energy level too low and the quality suffers. But, this short post could not wait -- WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS DISTURBING CONTENT.

After dialysis today, my family made a stop at the always pleasant Costco. While there . . . to put it delicately . . nature called. I opened the door and . . . ok, I'll just say it, some animal of a human being had peed all over the seat. Apparently he could not use a urinal and upon his choice to use a stall could not be bothered to lift up the seat -- even with his foot. "What an animal," I said out loud.

Dumbfounded, I told my tale of broken humanity to Kelly upon my exit. Her response? "I don't want to hear about this, put it on your blog."

Done and done.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

This means war! Are you a part of it or not?

Last night we watched Jesus Camp.

It was really uncomforable -- on so many levels. It made me so sad. If you have seen it you will know what I mean. It made me sad to see Ted Haggard talking about purity (In no means do I mean to trash him, it was sadness I felt, not condemnation). A short post today, mostly just quotes from the film (they make me sad to type them)

- If you don't open your mouth, the Holy Spirit can't talk.
- I don't need to tell you that we are in a war against culture. . . and we will win.
- Galileo made the right choice by giving up science for Christ.
- Whenever I meet a non-Christian, my soul feels yucky.
- We can't have phony sinners in the army of God.
- This means war! Are you a part of it or not?

The saddest thing about the movie is that maybe once or twice the Christians mentioned Jesus, instead repeatedly it said that Satan is after you, fight Satan, fight against the Godless, fight against the culture.

Now, I know the movie has an agenda, but if you have not seen it, you should -- especially if you are a follower of Jesus.

Virginia Tech Wound

I recieved this from my friend Lainie:

Our trip to Tech was very sobering... we felt such a
blanket as we turned off the highway and onto the
campus. Not of looming darkness, but of the severity
and sorrow of these senseless murders. My first
thought was, "This is the aftermath of a war zone." I
sensed it so strongly. I have never lived in a war zone,
but it must feel like this... beyond words...

The mood was as expected... still, like a blanket of
grief. It was moving to be on the very grounds of this
horror, see the memorial and walk right up to the
police barricade saying "Crime Scene... Do Not Pass."
There was overwhelming concern and intercession
that was so evident by the writings, flowers, candles,

And witnessing these expressions caused me to feel
so very proud of the immense care and solidarity we
as a "people" showed the Tech family. I sensed a true
oneness. We discretely poured a full bottle of olive oil
on the grounds there. We sat and cried and hung our
heads in disbelief. I believe we were truly "with" them,
and represented each of you and others who could not
be there in body.

Then we met up with four Tech students there and
had lunch in Owens dining hall. They seemed to want
to talk of light-hearted things. They talked of the
week a bit, but mostly wanted to keep the talk light.
We told them how much everyone loved them and how
helpless we all felt... wishing there was more we could

Daniel asked them what message could we bring back
to others not in the Tech family. They said that
prayers were the only thing they could use. Many of
the other "well-meaning" things people did and said
were really not useful to them.

We told them we could understand that, and that we
would pass on this message that they continue to
need prayer, desperately! It will be much later, after
the shock has worn off a bit, that many questions,
nightmares and struggles will begin. So please don't
let the time-lapse stop our prayers for them.

Families are just beginning to experience their loss.
One friend wrote me of a detail that deeply affected
her police friend at the Crime Scene. Please allow me
to share this "scene" so we can get another picture of
the terrible horror these loved ones have experienced
starting early Monday when they heard of the

"My hometown in VA is only 45 minutes from
Blacksburg. A high school friend of mine is on the VA
State Police. He was involved in photographing one of
the classroom crime scenes after the massacre. He
said it was horrible seeing those students, but the
worst part was that the entire time he was in that
room, all of their cell phones were ringing non-stop. It
broke his heart to know that they were calls from
loved ones desperate for them to answer. "

Those "unanswered calls" launched the horror that
began for these families. Please, let's keep these dear
people in our hearts and prayers this month and
weeks to come.

Monday, April 16, 2007

33 People Gunned Down

Today, a psycho gunned down more than thirty people at Virginia Tech University.

What to say? Nothing. Why does this type of thing happen? I heard President Bush pray that the families of those effected receive comfort "from a loving God." And I pray the same thing, because there is no hope of any sort of real comfort outside of God, because comfort in this situation is not natural.

But when I heard the quote, I thought how many people's first reaction will be, "loving God?" "How could a loving God allow this to happen in the first place." An age old question, a good question. And I think one that we in the western world who follow Jesus are less equipped to answer than others -- because of our comfortable Christianity. We live in a society where often the answer to the question, what does a Christian look like, is a person who drives a nice navy blue SUV with a fish on the back for each kid in the family, and goes to church.

What did a Christian look like in the early church? The bible tells us it looks like people who followed Jesus despite the fact that it meant their houses might be destroyed, their possessions taken, their livelihood jeopardized, and their life threatened or snuffed out. And so when tragedy happened, whether natural of man-made, it was the attitude of the Christians that made no sense. They were the first to care for the sick and jailed, filled with joy even as their stuff was being pillaged.

If the Church looked more like that today, if the church loved that way today -- even when the sky is falling, what different question might the people who the sky fell on ask?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Downtown Missional Communities

My buddy Rex and I drove down towards San Diego to meet a guy named Steve Denney. Steve is a church planter from Reno who moved to San Diego to gather communities of Jesus followers. His church is called CityWalk and it is currently three communities that meet in homes in Downtown San Diego.

As I listened to Steve's story, it had several points in common with others who I have seen God use to grow His church in areas where it does not really exist:

1. Humility
2. Holding form loosely
3. Developing relationship with no ulterior motives
4. A servant's attitude
5. A learner's attitude
6. Not outcome or time-frame driven

What has developed in these communities, like those of other friends who have done likewise, are gatherings of Jesus followers -- expressions of church -- comprised of people who to a large degree had previously never attended church.

In a day where most church growth is transfer growth resulting from people shopping for a "better fit," that is not only refreshing, but obedient to Jesus' charge to go and make disciples.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

God of Disorder

I got this great Jacques Ellul quote on the Church from Steve Addison's blog. He apparently got it from Alan Hirsch. Regardless it's origin, had to post it here, because its a great quote.

No doubt some will reply that God is not a God of disorder, incoherence, or arbitrariness, but a God of order. Of course he is.

Unfortunately the whole of the Old Testament shows us that God’s order is not that which we conceive and desire. God’s order is not organization and institution (cf. the difference between judges and kings). It is not the same in every time and place. It is not a matter of repetition and habit. On the contrary, it resides in the fact that it constantly posits something new, a new beginning. Our God is a God of beginnings. There is in him no redundancy or circularity.

Thus, if his church wants to be faithful to his revelation, it will be completely mobile, fluid, renascent, bubbling, creative, inventive, adventurous, and imaginative. It will never be perennial, and can never be organized or institutionalized. If the gates of death are not going to prevail against it, this is not because it is a good, solid, well organized fortress, but because it is alive; it is Life that is, as mobile, changing, and surprising as life. If it becomes a powerful fortified organization, it is because death has prevailed.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

He Was Dead - - - And Then He Wasn't

God came down to earth in the form of a man, and taught us with both his words and his deeds, taught us that he didn’t come to bring a religion, but a relationship. And the religious people didn’t want to hear that – they had their rules you know. The religious people had the power, they could control people’s actions and people’s money, but Jesus wasn’t so much interested in that, no he was not so much interested in their religious power structure and rules. Instead, he was interested in life, life to be filled to the fullest, overflowing, life that would be filled with joy even in hardship, life that was only found in following him, eternal life. And so they murdered him. They tortured him, they humiliated him and then they murdered him. And there he lay, dead; for 3 full days. A dead body, decaying;

Jesus was dead.

And then he wasn’t.

He was dead, and then he wasn’t.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Amazing Grace

The kids are on Easter break this week, so we had a family movie day -- and a trip to In-N-Out Burgers -- mmmmmmmmm.

Kelly and I choose the movie -- Amazing Grace. While it didn't have the pace of 300 (or 12.5 for that matter) it was a thoroughly enjoyable movie that was visually pleasing and thought provoking. Some thoughts:

1. How often the right thing is considered out of the question because of the financial consequences.

2. How something as despicable as owning other human beings and the indiscriminate de-dehumanization and death inherit therein (and other heinous things) can become so ingrained in the culture that the opposition to the practice is the voice that is "unreasonable."

3. How the human heart is evil to the core, and each one of us has a blindness to the own evil within us.

The two best lines in the movie:

1. Equiano, the former slave shows the large brand on his chest and says, "They do this to let you know you no longer belong to God, but to a man."

2. The aged and now blind John Newton broken and repentant over the 20,0000 "ghosts" of slaves that haunt him says, "I know two things: one that I am a great sinner and two that Christ is a great Saviour."

Ain't that the truth!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

An Interesting Switchfoot Night

In December, never figuring that I'd be on dialysis, I ordered 6 tickets to one of my favorite bands, Switchfoot. The concert was last night at SOMA -- a club in San Diego. The date of the concert coincided or maybe I should say collided with my dialysis schedule. So, I arranged early dialysis so I could come home and take a two hour nap before we left.

Wow, did I underestimate the draining effect that this stuff has on me. Despite the two hour nap, the concert (standing room only and ending at 11:30pm) was one of the hardest things I ever did. It was a great concert, but the pain and fatigue was almost impossible to take. Yet as I listened and watched from a great position, my weakness led me to repeated thanksgivings to God for his goodness. I was weak, almost passed out twice, but was there with the love of my life and best friend Kelly who kept me going -- and making what would have been a miserable night watching my favorite band, a good night. Ok, if you are interested, here is is the Switchfoot SOMA playlist from last night:

1. Stars
2. Oh Gravity!
3. Gone
4. We Are One Tonight
5. Chem 6A
6. This is Your Life
7. lonely Nation
8. Daisy
9. Learning To Breath
10. Ammunition
11. American Dream
12. 4:12
13. Sorrow (Bad Religion Cover)
14. A Song Made Up For San Diego
15. On Fire
16. Faust, Midas, and Myself
17. Dirty Second Hands
18. The Shadow Proves The Sunshine
19. Awakening
20. Meant To Live

And Two Encores:

1. Only Hope
2. Dare You To Move

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Surgery, traffic ticket and sermon

Ok, so I am trying to set up a time to get together with a guy, Steve, who plants churches in downtown San Diego. In trying to find a day to get together, I told him that I had surgery tomorrow and next week needed to work on my Easter sermon as well as defend a friend in a traffic trial. He replied, "In my world, surgery, speeding tickets and sermons make for a good blog." So, here goes.

The surgery was just canceled, which is a good thing. A wonderful and gracious woman has volunteered to donate one of her kidney's to me! I convinced my doctors to allow me to continue dialysis through my "tubes" and we would fast track the testing and reconsider the surgery if something doesn't work out. Today's dialysis was fairly non-eventful.

I have another friend, I will call him Bill to avoid any embarrassment. "Bill" has a mess of speeding tickets (and other varieties as well). He had let them all slide for a while and was going to show up at court and just say "what do I owe." I told him that this approach, while good with one ticket, can get you in jail when you have many and many of those are old. I also thought it would be a hoot to fight one of them -- which I thought winnable. The trial is next Friday. Should be fun, but have to study speed trap radar law. And, then on Sunday, I preach at the joint service of the San Diego Taiwanese Presbyterian church -- it will be a blast.

Hmmm. I guess it doesn't make such an interesting blog after all. Go figure.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Food to the Poor and Preaching to the Ears

Just got back from our monthly food distribution at the Silverwood Apartments. Located in a multi-square block area that has the fastest growing poverty rate int the state of California. Last year, our missional community of teen-agers adopted this complex -- at least to the extent that once a month we buy a car load of food at the San Diego food bank and then provide a box full of food to our "neighbors." We don't actively evangelize, no tracks or requirement to listen to us to get food (evangelize is our ultimate purpose, not our ulterior motive). Today a man asked, "why are you doing this?" "We love Jesus," I said, "Jesus said to love our neighbors, and you are our neighbors." It's fun -- even causes some of the kids to dance. After we are done, we take the kids to Dairy Queen for a nice soft serve cone. It's all a good time.

On another front, we are finally up and running, on the internet thanks to my friend Tu Nguyen. I preach each Sunday at a congregation called The Underground. It's the English speaking congregation of a Taiwanese church. My goal, to help them (and me) to realize the Kingdom of God as a reality here and now; as an already and not yet reality. And then, to help them discover what the ramifications of that are in every area of their life. Right now we are in a series called Journeying With Jesus from the book of Luke. Give a listen if you like.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bad Dialysis Day

Ok, so many people ask what dialysis is like (some ask what it is). So, I decided I would give a quick description. I have tubes that were surgically tunneled through my skin for about 8 inches and come out my chest (with an in and an out). The other end goes into my carotid artery. The nice folks at the dialysis unit hook a tube (in and out) to me and then start a pump which pumps out 500ml per minute of my blood. The tubing takes my blood to a filter which is about two or three inches wide and 15 inches long. And for 3 hours my blood is cleaned as it flows through the filter and mixes with a chemical water. And since my kidneys don't work, I can't expel liquids in the "natural" way, so any quantity of liquid I drank over the past several days is somehow leached from my cells in the process. Ok, that is the how.

Today was a really bad day on dialysis. I was going to write something else (I thought about it earlier in the day but cannot remember it now). My blood pressure crashed 86/59 and I passed out for a moment, covered in sweat. But the worst was the cramping -- always a possibility at dialysis. First my big toe turned awkwardly away from my foot -- all of it's own accord. Then the entire foot and calf on my left leg cramped up. Then the middle of my back. The nurse had to pump saline into my body, which meant that I did not get off enough water weight, and will have to take more off next time. It was no fun. All but the cramping and blood pressure crash are three time a week experiences.

Hope I don't sound grumpy -- you asked.

Now, as I sit here, two hours later, my ears are ringing, my thoughts not clear, I'm light headed and dizzy. I'm also very grumpy -- I seem to be that way after each treatment until I go to bed.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Put Away Anger

“But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.”(Col 3:8)

First off, by and large, I did not experience the feeling of indwelling anger today: Lord I'm not angry, help me to be not angry.

So, I'm at the gym (which I used to love, but on dialysis its not much fun) which I now force myself to do three times a week, and as usual listening to a sermon. Who to choose: Rob Bell, Francis Chan, Erwin McManus, and a bunch of others. I picked a favorite who had been out of the playlist for a while, the ever reliable John Piper. He talked on bitterness and putting aside anger.

I know God doesn't want me angry and I know I don't like being angry. I actually don't mind being angry when something makes me angry -- no, I don't like the state of being, where my being is angry. Piper challenged that it is a lack of faith, a lack of belief in God's promises. Yeah, that seems true. So, I determined to wake each day with the first words off my lips a request that God take away my anger and replace it with his peace.

And similar to the dad in John's gospel, I will each morning say I'm not angry -- help me to not be angry.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

I'm Back

Ok, so I have not been posting -- last post New Years Eve. So, I am going to post once a day for a week and see if I develop better habits.

So, since the last post, I have gone on dialysis, which I must do every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Frankly, it sucks. But, there are people out there that have it far worse than me to be sure. I have found that during this season, I have been angry. I walk around at about a 7 on the scale of 1-10. I don't think about being angry - in fact most often I don't feel angry. But, if 10 is blow-up, then I know I'm at 7 or so because I can get really ticked off at really small things. I think the anger is caused by the lack of control that I feel having to be on dialysis. Today, during church, before I got up to preach, while I prayed for those there to participate I thought "I'm also mad that i don't think it's fair that I'm on dialysis again, that my kidneys failed for a third time. And I think that's right -- I don't think it's fair.

And that kind of freaks me out because I am the first guy to counsel people that fairness is not really up for argument. We all really deserve instant destruction, but by God's grace we have life and breath and everything else. Also, as I said above, lots of people are worse off. So, intellectually, it doesn't make sense with what I believe, or what I say I believe.

Yeah, I think I am angry because I don't think it's fair for me to be on dialysis again. Wow, who would have thought. Something to think, and pray, about.