Friday, September 30, 2005

So you want to ask Jesus into your heart?

And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed, and a sword will pierce even your own soul--to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed. -Luke 2:34-35
The fall and rise of many...opposition and a sword piercing your soul, not they typical Sunday morning sermon fodder is it? Not the usual neat little quote in bold on the inside of the church bulletin or on the zippy sign to the next "getaway" or "retreat."
Walking this path is one that will make you, that is too soft a word, one that brings memories of little old ladies dabbing their eyes with white hankies.
No, the prophet Simeon nailed it will be like someone mercilessly shoving a double bladed sword right through your chest, ripping through your heart and plunging deep into the inner most vulnerable and life crippling part of you...your very own soul.
It's all about getting torn wide open to God...being naked and exposed or being laid open and bare as the writer of Hebrews puts it. It's not pretty is it?
You can try to paint it all up in the prettiest of melodies, you can craft deeply theological treatises and blather on and on in shallow and trite sermonizing but in the end when you are agonizing with a sword of the spirit protruding horrifically from your broken soul those words don't seem to cauterize the bloody flow.
God is after our hearts...little did I know that when I invited Him to come into my heart that He would be bringing a sword...

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

No Direction Home...

I watched the Martin Scorsese film called No Direction Home about Bob Dylan, the last two nights on PBS. I thought it was amazing. I am still trying to formulate my thoughts on the many different aspects of the film that seemed to move me deeply and I have not got there yet. But a few things that jumped out at me and grabbed me by the throat were:
This lyric form a live clip of him performing: It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding):
From the fool's gold mouthpiece
The hollow horn plays wasted words
Proves to warn
That he not busy being born
Is busy dying.
-Bob Dylan
Not busy being born, is busy that jumped on my chest like a frantic parent trying to resuscitate a drowned child.
I was also so moved by seeing the power of poetry in that era. Hearing and watching Dylan pour out his guts in all his unfettered rawness was so freaking inspirational to me. I was mesmerized. I also thoroughly enjoyed the portions of conversation with Joan Baez. She was your face in a good sense, refreshingly spunky and full of grit.
The whole 60's part of the film was more moving than anything I have ever seen on that part of our history for some reason. The film seemed to capture something of the idealism and unsettling upheaval for me. Maybe I simply had not seen and heard about that time through the bard's eyes.
It also made me long for a time when poetry might again be the combustible material it has the potential to be.
Oh Lord of the Flame give me Seraphim's fire on my tongue again.

Monday, September 26, 2005

LeeElla and I spent the weekend in Seattle picking up a painting and on the way home we stopped to see Julianne who runs a farm with her husband Guy Evans, above Lake Chelan, WA. This is their home, made out of rock from the tunnel that connects the town to the highway. What an oasis from the hectic world we live in. A couple hours here was like visiting Eden. I was humbled by the simplicity of life, the hospitality shown us, the abundance of fruits and vegetables and wine.

The pace and rhythm of the farm was like a splash of cold water on my dry and shriveled up soul. The joy in Julianne's face and her smile and that sparkle in her eyes evokes a lump in my throat. Her pride in their farm and its beautiful bounty was rejuvenating. I was stunned by the holiness of the experience. Being in the garden and touching the dirt and smelling the many fragrances was deeply revitalizing to my gasping spirit that has been choking in the cloud of problems that have been poisoning my inner life here in Spokane.

I am so thankful for being able to witness life as it should be lived...hard working, simple, close to nature, organic, clean and with love and joy and the companionship of animals and friends.

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Do not fear O land, rejoice and be glad, for the Lord has done great things. Do not fear beasts of the field for the pastures of the wilderness have turned green, for the tree has borne its fruit, the fig tree and the vine have yielded in full.-Joel 3:21-22 Posted by Picasa

Getting a kiss from Monita.She kept kissing me on side of my face, it was tender and sweet, if a guy can say that about an animal without sounding weird.  Posted by Picasa

Just hanging out with a few of the goats, friendly little animals, they loved their cheeks scratched. It was so healing to just sit with them and give and recieve simple love. Animals are a gift from the Lord and I needed some time with them, more than I realized. The goat on top kept nibbling on what is left of my hair, I guess she thought it needed a trim. Posted by Picasa

A view from the farm garden, overlooking Lake Chelan, WA. Posted by Picasa

This is a small winery they are running off the farm, its called Tunnel Hill Winery.
We bought a nice bottle of red wine too.
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Here is a shot of Sunshine Farm market, Our friends Guy and Jullianne Evans run this small farm market that they have on their farm. They sell all kinds of stuff from their own farm and others from around the region. We took a two hour detour on the way home form Seattle to visit with them and stock up on good stuff. We loaded up on all kinds of fruit and vegetables, soap, oils and bread, simply delicious.
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Sleepless in Seattle

Here is a shot from our room on the 31st floor of the Crown Plaza Hotel in Seattle. It made me weak in the knees being this high but the room view was amazing. It would of been perfect except the Asian family next door that kept singing Jessica Simpson songs and cackling like chickens on laughing gas! Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 23, 2005

LeeElla and I are off today to Seattle for two days and nights of rest and relaxation. We will be staying at this hotel thanks to a generous gift towards our mental stability. We will also be picking up the 48x72 commissioned painting called Jacobs Well. An artist friend of mine has created it at my request to help capture the vision of building a spiritual community that sees its ministry revolving around the "wells" of our city not just inside a building. He blessed us by doing it for only $500, thank you Matt, you rock! I am excited to see the finished work!
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Here is the boy scout built cabin at the top of Liberty creek trail. You can see the rest of our hike photos at: Posted by Picasa

Here is a view of Liberty lake from about 2.5 miles up Liberty Creek and almost 3000 feet elevation. Spencer and I hiked for about 1.5 hours to the the cabin 3 miles up the creek. This was an amazing view. This hike was at the top of my fitness level, most of the hike is climbing up, switch backs and narrow trail, a real tough one but worth it.  Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 22, 2005

some deep thoughts

A man of the world among ascetics, and an ascetic among men of the world.

-T.S. Eliot, describing Blase Pascal and his trips to the monastery


I always thought of Rich (Mullins) as being a little less "caught" than the rest of us. He was the furthest thing from a saint and the closest thing to a true believer that I knew.
-Ashley Cleveland CCM Magazine September 2nd, 2002


Christianity so focused on redemption it has forgotten creation, so focused in heaven it has forgotten here and now and the qualitative life of God's kingdom, which Jesus said has begun on earth. -Dick Staub

Long enough, God - you've ignored me long enough.
I've looked at the back of your head
Long enough I've carried this ton of trouble, lived with a stomach full of pain.
Long enough my arrogant enemies have looked down their noses at me.
Take a good look at me, God, my God; I want to look life in the eye,
So no enemy can get the best of me or laugh when I fall on my face.
I've thrown myself headlong into your arms - I'm celebrating your rescue.
I'm singing at the top of my lungs, I'm so full of answered prayers.
-King David, Psalm 13 (The Message Bible)

This psalms and the songs Not Dark yet by Bob Dylan and 40 by U2 and Starting Over by Audio Adrenaline have been my private dirge lately. If you pray, I could really use your prayers. We are having some extremely challenging issues in my home that have completely battered me to the ground and left me desperately crying out to the Lord for help. Life has a way of filleting us right down to the bone sometimes.

�The Eastern church father Gregory of Nyssa talked about Moses� journey up Mount Sinai in Exodus 19. When Moses enters the darkness toward the top of the mountain, he has moved beyond knowledge to awe and to love and to the mystery of God. Gregory insists that Moses has not arrived when he enters the darkness of the mountaintop. His journey and exploration have only really begun.� -Rob Bell in Velvet Elvis

I think fear was probably a major part of that moment as well, as he was pushing through the tumultuous smoke, the ground shaking thunder, the blistering fire that was engulfing the peaks. His heart must have been pounding with the unknown and the complete lunacy of where his steps were leading him. The way to the Lord of life is so often shrouded in a cloak of death. Pain preceded pleasure in every delivery room. Resistance will meet you before revelation or hunt you down after it.

I know this entire struggle will bear something if only it doesn�t kill me in the process� Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 19, 2005

speaking in a vacuum...

To preach the gospel and to say that in Christ there is life without being able to show something of the reality of that life is to speak in a vacuum.


If you are a Christian, don't be ashamed of it. Work out of the fullness of your being and give the best you have. You can never be better than you are. Be ashamed to be less, but you fall into pride and foolishness if you want to be more. This means do not be afraid. Live out your freedom. Do not let this be spoiled by your sinfulness. Sin takes freedom away. Walk in his way, yes, but this must be done out of your own convictions, out of your own understanding, in love and freedom. It is never just the application of some rules, some do’s and some don’ts. It is more real, more honest. It should be a commitment. - Hans Rookmaaker


There is so much that could be said about these quotes, but I am not sure if I could articulate what they really mean to me. They embody a lot of my spiritual wrestling of the last few years. Yearning to emerge out of the vacuum life both personally and as the church. Learning to walk in His way but from my own convictions, which to me means living from who I am, not from whom I or other people, think I should be.

Abandoning perception for reality.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

10 Bags of Doom10 bags of Doom from our summer camp

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I see dead people...

"When the waters flooded New Orleans, they not only forced to the surface dead bodies but long buried issues about America." -Jim Henderson
I know this will stir the pot even more concerning the whole political discussion going on concerning Katrina, President Bush and us, but I couldn't help myself. I am not saying that I agree with all that this man says but it made me think. I know some of you dislike these kind of conversations, debates or whatever you want to call them, if you do...skip these posts. As someone who feels the church should have a voice gained through action, first we need in such situations, the ability to be slow to speak and quick to hear, which means having an open mind to hear other voices too.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Having trouble hearing God speak?

Maybe it is because you are using one of these faulty theories about hearing God.
Ham Radio theory
Walkie Talkie theory
Easter Bunny theory
Bull Ring theory
Paxil theory
Back to School theory
Read more about them here:

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I'm chewing on this one...

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. -Francis Bacon, from Essays on Councils Civil and Moral.
I have finished Wolfgang Simsons book Houses That Change The World. It is simply one of the top 5 best books on the subject of church structures/house church/simple church that I have ever read. I loved it, it will become required reading for anyone I disciple in the future. Brilliant book. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

didn't fully do its job right...

"To the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility,"          -President Bush

The President was asked whether people should be worried about the government's ability to handle another terrorist attack given failures in responding to Katrina. "Are we capable of dealing with a severe attack? That's a very important question and it's in the national interest that we find out what went on so we can better respond," Bush replied. -9.13.05, Tuesday, joint White House news conference with the president of Iraq.

I find these quotes quite interesting in light of all the responses to my posts about Katrina, President Bush and the government's responsibility and response. The above statements probably ring really true to anyone who just experienced Katrina first hand. I wonder what our response will be when the terrorists hit our city? Should there be critical analysis of this whole tragedy in light of the almost positive possibility that we will experience another large scale terrorist attack in one of our major cities? I think so.

Especially since relief, food and water issues, communications, transportation issues, local response, government preparedness and survival options are present realities that need to be fully discussed.

I am simply not confident that the Government both local and national, showed itself ready for anything. After all the money, the restructuring, new positions, etc., we are still sitting ducks. That bothers me and leaves me feeling fairly less confident in this administration.

I personally think it is the citizens duty to engage its government, be involved in the life of our communities, do all we can to ensure the welfare of our people and live out the values and actions of Christ in the process. We are called to live in this nation and submit to the laws of the land. I think being a nation of laws and not men, is advantages to the cause of Christ and not a hindrance. 

We have power and to not use it or allow others to use it for you and relinquish your duty as a citizen is to waste the precious gift we have been given.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Man that water is cold! Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 09, 2005

LOL...ouch, Poor Mr. President is getting slammed on all sides. I voted for him and think he is doing so so. This picture made me laugh, it captures a lot of peoples feelings about the seemingly slow response to the hurricane.(thanks P for the pic)
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thoughts on being the church vs going to church

Church as we know it is preventing church as God wants it.


Church, again, is not a meeting; it’s a way of life.


Do not go door to door. –Jesus in Luke 10


The church not only had a message, it was the message. Because the church in itself was ‘good news’ there was no need for proclamation-style evangelism or going door to door. Only when the church as a structure became ‘bad news’, an ill-matching structure for an explosive message, did the need for special ‘good news’ enterprises emerge. Evangelism without a functioning church model is evangelism because of the lack of a working church model, and it provides literally out-of-body experiences and even out-of-body conversions.


The church we preach about is very different than the church we preach to.


Speaking of people attending our religious services…They were attracted, but not included; interested, but not integrated into the enveloping fellowship; harvested and cut, but not gathered into the barn; touched but not transformed. They turned to look briefly at the Way, then turned away, disappointed with what they saw.


The Lord’s supper is actually more a substantial supper with a symbolic meaning, than a symbolic supper with a substantial meaning. God is restoring eating back into our meeting.


Do we need to change from being powerful actors and start acting powerfully?


Excerpts from a book I am reading called: Houses That Change The World by Wolfgang Simson

Thursday, September 08, 2005

I had to do it...

Word Verification System for Comments

Because of all the recent...comment spam...I had to add this one step to posting a comment on my blog. It is easy and prevents automated spammers from sending mass comment spam on blogs. Sorry for adding one more step to posting comments for those who do, but since most of you don't comment anyway, it shouldn't be a problem :)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Solid rock or sinking sand...

Here is a shot from the cemetery in New Orleans that captures the truth of the old gospel song that cries out...On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand...oh man is that true in these days...
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A magnificent sculpture in New Orleans that painfully seems to prophetic now. The pictures were taken on my Dad's last trip there. he has been urging us to go and we had tried to figure a way to do it this last year but it fell through. Now I wish we would have gone.
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A close up of the angel on the tomb. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 03, 2005

In order to discover new lands, one must be willing to boldly lose sight of the shore for a very long time...
I read this the other day and it reminds me of this picture. I feel so out of place in so many ways these days. I see the boat out there on the water and yet I am here on the shore. The longer I stay here, the more internal frustration seems to gnaw at my spiritual and emotional guts. I used to sing a song in the renewal season called There has To Be More...I ache that so deeply right now. There is so much that is attached to this following Jesus thing that seems to be dead weight and it's been sinking me for a long time, like cement shoes.
If I hear or see another Christian push their over zealous faith on a person that has not come to Jesus yet, in order to make another notch in their evangelical witness belt, I am going to get nauseous. Is this really what Jesus had in mind by loving our neighbors? Religiously befriending them in order to begin to spiritually seduce them? Friendship evangelism or evangelism as it is so often pushed on us seems to me to be so painfully disingenuous.
The whole Amwayish salesman like methodology is giving me cramps! I am in need of some serious colon blow when it comes to this stuff. The programs, the latest religious hype, the gimmicks, the books, the ooey gooey spiritual blabbering, the airy fairy lah lah land charismatic prayer warriors stuff, the high pressured emotional spin doctoring, the fear mongering and forced conversion by the tip of the truth sword is mud to me, waist deep mud.
Please, there has got to be something more than a disjointed, once a week hand shake, coma inducing sermonizing, plastic smiles and back of the head felowshipping to this church thing. As a pastor I am looking around and wondering what on earth are we really doing and if we stopped doing it tomorrow would any of this really matter?
Oh God I got to get to that sail boat out there, please give me whatever it takes to get there...

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Friday, September 02, 2005

When you remember me...

When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart. For as long as you remember me, I am never entirely lost. When I'm feeling most ghost-like, it is your remembering me that helps remind me that I actually exist. When I'm feeling sad, it's my consolation. When I'm feeling happy, it's part of why I feel that way. If you forget me, one of the ways I remember who I am will be gone. If you forget, part of who I am will be gone. -Fredrick Buechner
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so true...

Martin Luther said...A law driver insists with threats and penalties; a preacher of grace lures and incites with Divine goodness and compassion shown to us, for he wants no unwilling works and reluctant services; he wants joyful and delightful services of God.

the snail...

The boastful man who journeys in his own strength is like the snail which, though it doth but crawl, yet spendeth its own life and wasteth itself, whilst it maketh but sorry way.–Charles Spurgeon


It is better to think of church in the ale-house than to think of the ale-house in church.
- Martin Luther

What are we seeing in New Orleans?