Thursday, December 31, 2009

How God Showed Up

This Sunday we who make up the Creekside community are gathering to celebrate How God Showed Up in 2009.

I like that. I think God likes that.

The story of God's people is replete with admonitions to remember; monuments, rituals, celebrations, all given by God to help us remember. God wants us to remember how he showed up.

How did God show up in 2009?

In many ways the question is the exercise, in many ways the question is the answer. If it takes you a while to answer, then the question has served its purpose. How did God show up? How did he not. Do we celebrate only the big things that break "our way?" Or, does God "show up" when nobody notices, or maybe do we just not notice when God shows up.

What if this year we spent each day trying to capture notes for next years celebration of How God Showed Up? I think we would have a bit more -- more stories, more joy, more peace, more satisfaction, more God.

STOP. Look around you. The Kingdom of God is near.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Hopes and Fears of all the Years

I love everything about Christmas. Everything.

Every year I intentionally try to slow down time so the season does not get behind me. I’m not kidding. I look at the calendar in early November and think, “it’s almost ‘the Christmas Season!’” From the time Thanksgiving is over until the first Monday of January (I include New Year’s and the College Football bowl games in “The Christmas Season”), it is Christmas. And, I try to soak in every moment, I always have.

Until relatively recently, I took my love of Christmas for granted. I assumed it was the same for everybody. Oh, I knew that there were a few people for whom Christmas was a dark and difficult time, people for whom the best part of the Christmas season was that it would soon be over. But I never really thought much about the struggle that Christmas was for these people; after all, Christmas is a jolly time.

Recently, I have begun to think more about those for whom Christmas is hard. I still don’t understand it, I can’t relate to a feeling I have never had. Yet, I’ve become more and more convinced that it is to those for whom the season is hard that Jesus is most naturally drawn. Like Mary, His mother; confused yet hopeful, afraid and cold, in a stable, having just given birth and then having to lay her newborn baby -- the baby that she alone knew for sure was special -- in a makeshift bed, a dirty animal feeding trough. “This cannot be how God planned it; something must have gone wrong – did I somehow mess this up?”

Hopes and fears, disappointment and regret, they often share the stage together. They mingle in a demonic dance where hope is seemly killed, done in by fear and her supporting cast.

And then Jesus enters the scene.

Yet in Thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in Thee tonight.

The hope that is spoken of in the Christmas songs is the hope spoken of by Jesus when He told people why He had come; to proclaim good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

I love Christmas, I always have. Yet, so many people do not. I have never really understood how that could be, but Jesus always has. Jesus mourns with those who mourn – especially at Christmas. The words that He spoke were the Christmas promise realized.

The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Him tonight.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Question for a Christian

So, was thinking today. How often to people who are not Christians really get a chance to ask questions of a Christian? I mean if you search the web, there are a lot of places where Christians claim to know it all, but most of them come across as know it alls.

I think people would welcome the opportunity to engage in the conversation without an alternative motive of conversion. Others will answer questions, but they are not Christians, just people trying to refute Christians,. How can you answer questions about something that you are not a part of. Really only a Christian can answer questions for Christian.

So, I set up a website Ask A Christian. I come from a point of view, of course. But, I will not dismiss questions and will say when I don't know.

Pass on the link to people who have questions.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The True Meaning of Christmas

It's not the point of the story, but it's the point of Christmas -- sacrifice for others because we know we have a hope outside of ourselves, so we can live (and die) for those other than ourselves. This man demonstrated Christmas with his death.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The prize for best trivializing of Jesus' gospel goes to . . .

I was driving around today when I came upon a pick-up truck with a couple of bumper stickers on it. The first one, said Jerusalem, only the 4th, 5th and 6th letters were bigger and red white and blue -- clever. Don't know what it is supposed to mean, but clever (I never noticed that USA was in the word Jerusalem, but then I've always been really bad at word search puzzles).

After my "hey, USA is in the word Jerusalem" moment, I noticed the above sticker. It made me wonder about the guy driving the car. I wondered how he would describe his understanding of what Jesus bought with his death? I wonder what his family, friends and neighbors would say what Good News was for him. I don't mean to judge, I don't know this guy. But, at the same time, I don't think -- even in an era where a reductionist gospel is the norm -- that I have ever seen the salvation Jesus offers trivialized more grotesquely.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Death and Re-birth

I am in morning. I am in the midst of loss.

I say these things with the awareness and apologies to those who are experiencing more immediate loss or morning -- of a loved one, of . . . whatever. My loss is more amorphous in many ways yet specific in others. People, Places, Sights, Sounds.

As I come upon T minus 1 week before my departure for Redmond, Washington, the emotions stirring in me are many. I am so excited to be moving -- not from something but to something. I am so grateful to have been asked to lead a wonderful group of people on mission with God and for his Kingdom. I cannot wait to see what God will do with Creekside in the City of Redmond and beyond. I believe He will do amazing things in us and through us!

Yet this week -- working with Rex on his role review knowing that as he reaches his goals I will not be there; speaking to teens and young adults this week who I will no longer see, final discipleship appointments, saying goodbye to so many places, and spaces and faces.


Any and every change brings with it to greater or lesser degrees loss, death . . . and re-birth.

I'm excited, I'm bummed. I'm dying, I'm being born.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


I re-read the words of Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo today and again was amazed at the beauty and truth of the passage below.

Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!

You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things that you created. You were with me, but I was not with you.

Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you, they would not have been at all.

You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness.
You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me;

I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burn for your peace.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

a blast from the past

I was walking down blog memory lane -- sad, but true -- and came across my first ever blog post. "I like that," I thought. So, here it is again:


Imagine what it would would happen if in your community there sprung up 2 or 3 or 6 or 10 or 15 groups of 8 to 15 people who are all committed to being apprentices together of Jesus; to learn what it means to be in accountable community, but saw thier roles as representatives of his Kingdom in whatever setting they spend most of their time.

Imagine if each of these missional communities in learning what it means to be an apprentice of Jesus, in community, adopted a neighbor -- a low income apartment building, or single mom, or family, and just blessed them with food, or time, or whatever.

Imagine if each one of these missional communities gave birth to another missional community that did the same.

Imagine if the people who were blessed by the mercy and grace poured out by these communities began to talk to each other about the strange thing they have experienced in having thier needs met by almost perfect strangers who want nothing in return, and find out that others in need have been blessed as well.

Imagine if the only common denominator between the blessors is not race, or color, or gender or age, but Jesus.

Imagine what it would look like if God's Kingdom were done here the way it were done in heaven.

Imagine what it would look like if people actually did go and make disciples of all the nations.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Transformed Lives For A Transformed World

Nowadays every church wants to be "missional." Some don't really know what that means, only that "missional church" is the way of the future and they need to "do that" to survive -- I do not judge. Others understand the precept that we as a Church have strayed and need to reconnect with our charge as a sent people, sent and sending. Yet they do not know how. How do we move from the idea of being a protective enclave, neither in the world or of the world to a gathered people being sent and finally to a sent people who gather to build up, share stories of the journey, encourage, rejoice and praise?

We have been in a period of prophecy and proclamation -- wise and Godly men and women shining a light on the church and challenging us to reclaim what has been lacking. In this time, there have been very few able to really say what that might look like, to discover the threads of commonality between truly missional expressions of the church and the processes to attain and sustain it. Maybe that is beginning to change. We have been experimenting with a processes of deep spiritual development and engagement with the poor -- taking people on the journey inward, the journey outward and the journey together are coming on the scene, and finding at the end, transformed lives for a transformed world.

We live on the precipice of unprecedented times for the Church. A good time. And exciting time. A time where we will see amazing things done for the Kingdom of God. I feel privileged that God chose me to be a part of all of this.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A Road To, Through and From

I was thinking the other day about the cross. I was thinking about suffering. I was thinking about how much I and you want to avoid suffering. I was thinking about the cross. I was thinking about life.

And began to think about life and the cross. My life, your life, Christ's cross, our cross. I have come to realize three realities of the cross and my life:

All life must must go to the cross. Jesus is both the author and sustainer of all life. We live in a world marked by brokenness and suffering and Jesus on the cross bought for us the ability to partner with God in his redemptive plan to be agents of his Kingdom restoring the brokenness of a messed up world. Our life -- a surrendered life -- must go to the cross.

All life must go through the cross. We cannot avoid the the suffering of this world, we must not avoid the suffering that flows naturally from a lifestyle that rejects the cultural captivity and that suffers loss as it both seeks to bless the world and reject the power systems in it. We share in the sufferings of Jesus at the cross and become more of humanity as he intended and become transformed into a redemptive force for good in the world. Everything worth living comes from dying.

All life must go from the cross. We don't stay there in whole. We go to the cross repeatedly, we go through the cross repeatedly and we go from the cross repeatedly as sent agents of incarnation, carrying with us the hope of going to the cross, the pain of going through the cross and the hope of living out a life as new creation, and for new creation; to live lives as a sign, a signpost and instruments of God's kingdom done on earth as it is done in heaven.

All of us to varying degrees and in various ways steer off this road to, through and from the cross. All seek at times to avoid the surrender, the suffering or the sentness that is the reality of who we are. But, there really are no detours. All who travel this road must accept, and then cheer, that the continual journey to, through and from the cross.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Poor You Will Always Have With You

Someone asked me a while back what I thought about Jesus' statement when the people grumbled about the woman who "wasted" so much money on perfume for jesus head. Couldn't the money have a better use, couldn't it be used to care for the poor? We all remember Jesus' reply: "For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me." Amazingly Jesus words have even been used as an excuse to not care about the poor -- why bother, they will always be there. I have been asked about the verse before, and I'm sure I will be again. But, the other day I had a new thought about it's meaning.

What if Jesus was actually being consistent with himself when he said "whenever you care for the least and the hurting you have cared for me?" What if Jesus was saying, "you have me here now, perfume me up, bless me." "And when I am gone, continue to do so when you see me in my distressing disguise." What if it is all about worshiping God, then and now, that all we do and all we are is dependent upon seeking more of God? And, what if that is actually experienced with our hands and feet in service to the underdog.
Love God with all your heart and mind and soul.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
I think these commandments are in that order for a reason.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

My little girl's art work

A dad never gets tired of seeing his baby's art -- even when she is all grown up.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

What, you chicken?

Saw this today, from Song of the Bird by Tony de Mello

A man found an eagle's egg and put it in a nest of a barnyard hen. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them.

All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects. He clucked and cackled. And he would trash his wings and fly a few feet into the air.

Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among the powerful wind curents, with scarcely a beat of its' strong golden wings

The old eagle looked up in awe. "Who's that?" he asked.

"That's the eagle, the king of birds," said his neighbor. "He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth -- we're chickens."

So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that's what he though he was.
Is there a place in my life -- in your life -- where we are living as chickens when in reality God has made us eagles?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Don't Worry, Be . . . About The Kingdom

I guess if someone had to label what I do, they might call me a missionary. A missionary to the mission field we call home. But, that is not quite right. Maybe I am a prophet, to speak into and demonstrate to the Church what it can be. That is not quite it either. Maybe church planter. But, where is my church, where is the building, where is the parking lot. I would say that I am trying to live out a Kingdom ethic and lifestyle that redeems the way of Jesus to those whose observation of "the way of Jesus" would have been pretty unsettling to, well Jesus for one.

That last sentence, when said in an answer to the question "what do you do?" is a real conversation starter -- I mean stopper. In any event, I do what I do through the partnership of others who come alongside me and my family and provide us with the money we live on. We trust God each month to provide. And it is a thrilling adventure (in the light) but a scary alley in times of doubt.

We are living in the midst of rare economic times; there is an atmosphere of great economic uncertainty -- flowing from both quantifiable and less quantifiable data points. The result, however is anxiety -- lots of anxiety. Anxiety that causes those who might give to missionaries, or churches or church planters or whatever, to not do so. There are also some who have lost jobs and who have no money and do not know when that will change. And, their is anxiety in this missionary/church planter/prophet/whatever.

And so for me, I turned today to the sweet and comforting words of Jesus; which I write here, for you if you are anxious too, but mostly for me.

Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his ispan of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

So, today I will not be anxious. Instead, I will be about the King, his Kingdom and his business -- and rely a bit on the fact that he might have a better handle on the future than me.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Everyday Resolutions

I don't do New Years resolutions.

Maybe I just have so many things that need to change that if I waited until the first day of each year to write them down I would run out of paper and ink.

Maybe an everyday resolution, an everyday series of resolutions that I will succeed at and fail at and ultimately grow grow at. There are only four, but they should do Here goes:

1. To See God's Presence Throughout The Day

2. To Trust God Instead of Substitutes for Him

3. To Recognize God's Intimate, Unwavering Love For, And Belief In, Me

4. To See The Opportunity That God Brings Each Day To Incarnate Him