Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Friday, April 25, 2008


There are few things better in life than a good friend. They are somewhat rare in this world, but you know them when you find them. Slowly you begin to trust them. Over time they prove themselves faithful. You observe their life and find that it is full of grace; not just with you but with others. They are real and allow you to be real.

In my world, people feel like they can say anything to me. Maybe that surprises you. Maybe you think that pastors have this "hedge of holiness" around them that intimidates people and keeps them from second-guessing you. I have never found that to be the case. (In fact, I have met people who think it is their life's calling -- and primary spiritual gift -- to second-guess me!) It is amazing how downright mean people can be to pastors -- I think because we are "safe."

My counseling professor in seminary said that pastors are "shock absorbers." We absorb other people's pain a lot of the time. He told us that people will take stuff out on us because they really want to take it out on their dad, or their boss, or the spouse, or the person who violated them when they were young... but those people are not safe. So we get it. We absorb the shock of others.

And that sounded so crazy in seminary... but it is so true. I have experienced it countless times.

A good friend can absorb your shock and your pain. They give when other people take. They are merciful... they "turn the other cheek."

And all of this is very....endearing. And pretty rare.

I'm very blessed and very thankful... and just wanted to say that before I went to sleep tonight.

Thanks friend.

[no comments necessary]

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A pound of the Eternal

"I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please - not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don't want enough of Him to make me love a foreigner or pick beets with a migrant worker. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of a womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I'd like to buy $3 worth of God, please."

Wilbur Rees

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"We are absolutely confident he will be found alive and well, floating somewhere in the ocean."







Sunday, April 20, 2008

um... well... ah

Headline: "Clinton, Obama ATTACK each other for being too negative." [emphasis mine]

ah.. well.. see... if you...um...


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Joy Suckers

“Strange how one person can saturate a room with vitality, with excitement. Then there are others . . . who can drain off energy and joy, can suck pleasure dry and get no sustenance from it. Such people spread a grayness in the air about them.”

"Travels with Charley," John Steinbeck


It's interesting... I think a lot of people know this. Maybe all of us can point to people to people that, when we get around them, they are joy/energy vortexes. There is just a heaviness in the room when they walk in.

I have often wondered if it is a personality characteristic? Does everyone feel it with that person? Are there people immune to their joy sucking? Or, as I suspect is the case, have these people just been so badly wounded (and never did the "work" of healing) that they take all the good/positive/healing/joyful energy from the room in order to heal their hurt which they will never heal because they don't really want it healed. (All of that sounded a bit more new age than I mean it to... but you get what I mean.)

I'm amazed by the presence of "joy suckers" in my life. I'm amazing by "joy suckers" in the church. In the same vein, don't you love those people who just seem to give life and health and joy? You get around them and you just feel more alive. You feel safe. Protected. Challenged. Encouraged.

Then I ask myself... "Okay, which person am I?" And, is my self perception correct? What would my staff say? What would my wife say? What would my friends say? What would my "enemies" say?

Which person are you?

Is this something God can change? (I suspect... but just asking).

How do you... how do I... deal with joy suckers? How do we make sure we are not one of them?

Friday, April 18, 2008


So blog friends, you just need to know this: If I had my choice, I would not be a pastor. That was my second career choice. Actually, I have a deep, hidden desire to be on the worship team.

I've talked with Patrick and he keeps blowing me off, something about me "not having any talent..bla bla bla..." but ya know... I think I found a way I can make it in.

I suggest we all ask him for an audition and do this...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Blowing Bubbles

I was out working on my car tonight and Lydia and Laura came out to blow bubbles. There is just something really funny/relaxing/captivating about watching a three year old blow bubbles. The light was bad, she was sitting in my garage (complete with garbage cans and my van in the background) so my angles were really limited... but the joy on her face is why I own a camera. For more of the same, see my flickr.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Lifted from darkness

Hey, thanks to all of you who emailed/posted/called and were worried about me. I'm fine. REALLY. I post those things because I want you to know I'm normal. Well, normal is relative.

And I really do think that crashes are a part of life (and for me, ministry). Tonight I have 2 board meetings... and believe it or not... that will actually improve my mood. :)

But just for the record, I'm okay.

I now share with you what pulled me out of the darkness (the "pit of despair") and set my feet on higher ground!

Yes, it's an engineer's guide to cats.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The crash

I have written about the crash before. I was really worried about how my body/soul/spirit would handle moving to 3 services a weekend. Surprisingly, since the 3 services, there has actually been LESS of a crash... and I'm trying to figure out why. (I honestly think some of it has to do with my move to sitting rather than standing... or maybe I'm spreading the adrenaline out?). But the past 3 months have been fairly "crash free."

Until today.

Today I crashed... and crashed pretty hard.

What it means to "crash" looks different for me-- but it mostly involves feeling overwhelmed with the inability to manage what is going on. I feel worthless, powerless, tired, unappreciated, misunderstood... I become very sensitive to criticism and the dissenting voices. I feel like I'm letting people down, particularly my staff and those closest to me. There is this massive jumble of emotions... emotions that really don't make sense, as they are not really tied to anything real.

But the feeling is very real.

So why am I writing this? I have no idea. Why am I putting these feelings out on a public forum? What is to be gained from it? Well, to be honest, I think it is part of being a follower of Jesus. There are ups and downs. There is a battle. This is reality. And anyone who says otherwise is living in fairy-tale land.

Here's the thing: it's not that I don't see God at work. For those of you who were there, our weekend services seemed to have a pretty powerful effect of some folks. It is amazing to see God do that... and fairly consistently at all 3 services. I'm starting to hear the stories already. I know of at least 3 people who made decisions to follow Jesus this weekend. I heard of another tonight at the staff meeting. There were several others who obviously had pretty profound encounters with God. There was a certain "rawness" about this weekend... and maybe that is what I'm experiencing. Raw produces raw.

Funny, for those of you who heard the message... remember all the accusations I listed? Well, those are pretty much what the enemy hurled at me from the moment I stepped off the platform.

"You are no good. If they really knew you they would reject you. You are neglecting people. Listen to the voices that complain. You have to please everyone. You have to have everyone like you. You are a lousy pastor, boss, friend, christian..."

And so now I'm asking, "Is that true?"

(some pastor said I should ask that... and you know... it really does help.)

Is that true?

Well, in a sense. Yea, some of it is true. I do neglect some people. You probably WOULD reject me if you knew me! I'm not the greatest boss, pastor, friend or Christian....

But I don't need to get my value from those things.

Those things... as important as they are... they do not define me.

I am defined by a blood-stained cross. That I matter that much to God. That the One who fashioned the universe and spoke it into being knows my name. And He says I matter. No matter how big or small my church is, no matter how much or little impact I make, no matter who likes me or who hates me, no matter if people are singing my praises or lining up to stone me.

I'm defined by who God says I am.

And THAT is the truth.

"God, some pieces have been taken out of me this week. I have taken some hits. I have poured myself out. I feel broken. I ask that you put me back together. And I will willingly do it again... for Your sake."

Thursday, April 10, 2008


I found this post by my friend, Andrew, interesting for a number of reasons. If you want to go and chime in on the discussion, feel free. I would love to hear what you think.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Conference bound

A group of us from Central are leaving this afternoon for the Shift Conference at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. I'm not sure what my internet access will be, but if you don't hear from me for a while (either by blog or by email) this is why. I hope you all have a great week!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Just in case

I don't want to distract from my previous post, but I wouldn't want my blog friends to miss the end times. This is a link to the site of the guy I mentioned this morning; the guy I have been in a email conversation with who claims to be one of the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation. So I'm sure you will want to stop what you are doing and do exactly what he says.

"Drama" and worship

This week a number of us from Central are going to a conference at Willow Creek Church in Chicago. I'm sure that some of my readers may have negative opinions about Willow (or lump them into all the others in the "church growth" movement), but as someone who has followed them for quite some time, I think they have a ton of integrity and I am always inspired to worship and to love God more when I'm there.

So, I have to confess, I have a love for the dramatic.

Now, I'm not sure that "drama" is the right word, but I'm going to use it and maybe you will catch on to what I mean. I have always been into lights, drama, the set up of the physical space...etc. This is what engages and connects me. In fact, it just hit me this past week: This is often why much of the worship done is "contemporary worship congregations" (especially smaller ones) leaves me cold. There is no mystery. No symbolism. Nothing to connect me with the holy.

For years I have been in a constant discussion with the different people who lead worship at our church to "read scripture, add some creeds, string songs together" and none of them do that. Not one. Years and years of asking. Begging! And really, one morning last week, I just figured out why. It's not that they don't love God (although I always have some questions about Patrick and Kevin)...it's that they worship God out of simplicity.

I worship God out of complexity.

I had this conversation with my current worship leader the other day. He kept saying, "People need to be able to worship God no matter what the band sounds like or if there is no band. I should be able to make sounds on my armpits and people worship to that!" (Okay, I think I said that line, but I will credit him.)

And the whole time I was thinking, "Yea, I agree. Great theology of worship!" And he does have a great theology of worship. (Yea, please don't read this post as an inditement of Patrick. Few people I know have greater integrity.)

He is right... we SHOULD be able to worship to nothing or anything.

But just because we should be able to... does not mean we ought to.

I was created as this multi-sensory being. I was given emotions. I was given an intellect. I was given a desire to connect to my past. I was given a love for art and beauty. I was told, by this God who created me, that I was to engage with Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. So why just sing songs... when we can create experiences to connect with God. When I can be engaged with my mind and emotions... my love for beauty and mystery? Not all the time (not everyone gets into this) but some of the time. Most of the time?

This post was inspired by this clip. This is from an Easter service... and unfortunately, the person who shot it had a bit too much coffee that morning and they didn't hold onto the last image long enough. But I found myself captivated by it. I honestly think it is beautiful. And it moved me to worship.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The future of preaching

Prediction: This is in the future of the church.

Right now, hundreds (thousands?) of churches are experimenting with video venues. Mostly, this is "live" music and a taped message (although there is at least one congregation I know of that is doing EVERYTHING with video.) Most of the time, each campus has a campus pastor who provides "presence" and coordinates ministry and connection.

Now, certainly churches are not the only ones doing this. Schools, colleges and business have done teaching over compressed video, satellite, etc for years. When you have a good teacher, I think people would rather listen to them over video, than a bad teacher live. And, as a teacher (and someone who loves teaching/preaching) I understand the idea behind this.

But as a theologian, I have some questions.

What does this say about our theology of incarnation?

If the "Word became flesh"... what happens when there is no "flesh."

What if Marshall McLuhan was right and the medium IS the message (or at least a large part of it.)

Is there something lost when the messenger isn't "live?"

I wrestle with this. Wrestle with it with me.

BONUS THOUGHT: Not doing video venues would keep people like me from saying stuff like this and having it end up on utube for people like me to make fun of...

[NOTE: the video caused one of my loyal readers to have problems and browser crashes... and she is way more important than this video.... so I dumped it.]

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

See, it's funny because...

So I have a friend who always has to explain his jokes. I keep telling him that, if he has to explain his humor, he is not funny. But he continues to say, "See, it's funny because..."

So I need to comment on yesterday's post (For no other reason than I don't want that up there past April 1!)

First, it was inspired by a friend and fellow pastor, Trevor, who sent out an email to his congregation announcing that they were building a new facility, complete with coffee shop and restaurant, etc. Trevor is leading a great congregation in Findlay and is doing some innovative things... but they, like us, are not exactly flush with the bucks. So when I got his announcement... I was lost. "What? Where are they getting the money?" Then he reminded us of the date. Very well done.

I rarely remember April Fool's Day. And I would have forgotten it this year if it wasn't for Trevor. He inspired me. (Breaks into Air Supply song --NO, NO, I STAND CORRECTED - CHICAGO-- "You're the meaning in my life, you're the inspiration.")

So, this post is funny because...

1. It begins with my true feelings. Honestly, the first thee paragraphs are pretty much what I would write if I were moving. Paragraph 3 actually brought tears to my eyes as I was writing it. Those are my feelings.

So, to you who said, "I figured you out in the first couple of paragraphs..." I don't think so. :)

2. I can't believe some of you fell for it! (which is way more disturbing than the "I figured you out" group.) I can't tell you the number of people who emailed me or called me to see if it was true! Wow. I'm speechless. Really. "Relevant? Chucky Cheese? Don't feel led but it sounds like fun? More money and bigger office? And, oh yea... talking monkeys? :)

But I'm honored and thankful for those of you who at least acted upset at the thought that I was leaving. One of you suggested the best April Fool's day response would have been to coordinate all of you into responding with the same sort of lame responses: "Oh, that's too bad. Oh well. [yawn]."

But in case you didn't get the joke: as far as I know... I'm still here. I have no plans on going anywhere. And although a move can always happen, I for one, am honored to be at Central and glad to still be here. There is still not place I would rather be and no people I would rather be with.

Oh... and... by the way... I'm pregnant.


I know it seems weird to break this news on my blog, but I will announce it on Sunday and decided that I wanted my blog friends to be the first to know.

Two weeks ago my District Superintendent approached me with an offer to move to a church in the Columbus area. Laura and I have talked about it, and after much struggle, prayer, thought and discussion, I have decided to leave Central and to move to Pickerington Community UMC effective this July.

This has been one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. We really love Central and Athens and thought we could spend the rest of our lives here. I never imagined I would be a part of a church like Central, let alone be the pastor. It really is an amazing place. And part of what makes Central amazing is many of you. I have a great staff, friends, a community that hungers for God... I have been blessed.

But Pickerington is a growing area, with lots of opportunity for building a church (amazing growth potential), they are visible in the conference (a chance for me to be relevant), they own lots of land, already have a really nice building AND they offered me twice the money with a really nice office. It was just too hard to turn down. Now, maybe, I will FINALLY be able to write my book. Granted, I'm not sure I feel "led" in any sense to move, but it just seems like more fun. And there is a Krispy Kream and Chucky Cheese right down the street! How can you beat that! Besides, the talking monkeys came to me in a dream the other night and told me that we should move. And I always listen to what the talking monkeys say. And they said "move" and to wish your friends a happy April 1.