SpiritFarmer


February 28, 2003, 11:24 am
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Wednesday night was great. Jason and Brooke are fabulous hosts to all comers. It was great to see Randy Buist and Joel McClure from the Water’s Edge community in Michigan. I had met Randy last May at Seed Stories, but had only read Joel’s writings. Good guys – I really wish I had more time to talk with both of them. They have watched God work in and through them in unexpected ways, and they have a tangible, deep sense of what true community is. I also met Eric from the Water’s Edge family and another Michiganer (or is that Michiganite? Michiganian? Michigani?) named Tom, who is a church planter. Oh yea, there was also Paul Kortman and his girlfriend Becky from the Breakpoint community in Michigan. All great folks – looks like God’s up to something up there!!

In addition to these fine people, Jim Henderson from Off the Map stopped in with his wife and a couple of friends. I didn’t get to talk to them beyond a quick hello.

I think the highlight for me for the night (I’m guessing I’m not alone in this) was when Tom and Lollie shared their story with us. They are from South Africa via Colorado Springs. We got to pray for them and encourage them. Soooo good to be a part of this worldwide family. Humbling and joyful.

It was cool to see Trey and Kristina from the Matthew’s House family again too. Trey and some of his college buds wrote the book Four Souls, which is an awesome adventure that I’ve been enjoying on my PDA.

Whew, what a night! I’d love to have about eight more of them.

Thank you God for new friends and a new glimpse of how big the Kingdom life is.



February 26, 2003, 10:33 am
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Really looking forward to hanging out tonight at Jason and Brooke’s place with some folks who are in town for the big Emergent Convention. I’m either not cool enough or don’t have enough of the green stuff to go to the convention, so instead I’ll just hang around listening to other people’s stories about it. All the people who came to San Diego from the snowy lands east and north of here for the convention are getting a nice dose of a SoCal rarity – rain! And not a little bit of it either. Sorry guys, but we like it.



February 25, 2003, 1:22 am
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Dear readers (both of you):

I am posting here a (long) letter that I’ve written to the leadership at my church. I am doing this in order to gather any thoughts that you might have before I actually send it to them. It came out of what I believe to be a Spirit-driven day of fasting, failure, long discussion with close friends, and restless thoughts as I lay in bed tonight. Feel free to e-mail any comments or input you might have. Sincere thanks, friends.

Joel 2:11-19

The LORD thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty are those who obey his command. The day of the LORD is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?

‘Even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’

Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing- grain offerings and drink offerings for the LORD your God.

Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber. Let the priests, who minister before the LORD, weep between the temple porch and the altar. Let them say, ‘Spare your people, O LORD. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?”

Then the LORD will be jealous for his land and take pity on his people.

The LORD will reply to them:

‘I am sending you grain, new wine and oil, enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations.

(NIV)

Brothers,

I write these words in humility and out of a sense of inadequacy. I must write them, though. I believe the time has come for us to carefully consider these words of scripture, and to radically heed them – indeed, we are overdue. We have agreed in principle to the value of repentance and spiritual renewal, and yet I fear that we have yet to fully yield ourselves to the Spirit of God. We have yet to place ourselves so completely before our God on behalf of the people He has called us to serve and feed that we “weep between the porch and altar.”

I confess to you that despite the mercies of our great God and despite the trauma that the past year has brought about in our church and in my own life as a result, I have not yet fully taken a full sacrificial stance before our Lord. I have not allowed Him to thoroughly break through the hardness of my heart and my own insistence on comfort and cheap peace (which is no peace at all). I have not planted my face in the ground and cried out to Him for compassion and relief from the judgment that I and we deserve. I have given my time and my energy and my words. I have given my heart and prayer to a great degree. I count all of that as rubbish before a holy God. You have yet to see me passionately bare myself before you and our people. I confess this to you as sin and in God’s presence I ask for His grace and your forgiveness.

I have been a weak and defensive leader. I have often been more interested in patching up the broken things just to get by, and trying to obtain an artificial and shallow version of relationship. I confess to you that even as I write this, I want desperately for people to have a high regard for me and for us, and I am tempted right now to continue approaching my role as a leader in the same ineffective ways. And while I can only speak from where I am in this very moment, I commit myself to casting off the fear of man, the pride, the false comforts, and the desires of the flesh in order to obey the Holy Spirit. I will speak clearly and plainly in love, with boldness where that is needed, and gentleness where that is needed. I can guarantee that I will fall short in these efforts, but my strong desire is to give myself to this. I will gratefully accept your help in this.

I have a deep conviction that we as leaders need to prostrate ourselves before God with weeping and mourning, and beg Him for mercy. We must “rend our hearts and not our garments.” In our case, it won’t be good enough to have a Church Relations Ministry or precise verbiage in our Constitution and Bylaws. Putting a new structure of Elders in place won’t be good enough. It won’t be good enough to be organizationally excellent. If that’s all we’re doing, we are accomplishing little of kingdom value – we are whitewashing our tombs (Matthew 23:27), completely disregarding the rotting bones inside.

We have all come to know the grace of Christ personally. Based on that, let us call out to God and ask him to spare us from calamity. “Who knows? He may turn and have pity.” We as the appointed leaders need to take the lead and pour ourselves out in repentance. We need to repent of all personal and corporate sin. We need to continue repenting and calling out to God until He brings relief and causes us to come alive so fully that we are able to truly minister once again.

When we have done that, we then need to “blow the trumpet in [our church], declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber.”

In order to be completely clear, I am proposing this as an actual process for us – not just a theoretical or figurative exercise. I am calling for this as a matter of urgency. We need to be ready to abandon any preset plans or programs in order to make this a priority. I believe there is a remnant left at our church that is ready to step forward and take back the territory that our enemy, the devil, has taken.

God is calling out to us, wanting us to be pure and holy. God wants to release His abundance of blessing. We need to tell the truth about who we really are. I do believe that many of us have begun that process, but I am not convinced that we have broken through our own desires for peace at any cost, or our demand for comfort.

It is not my intention here to stand in judgment against anyone but myself. Honestly, I believe wholeheartedly that I am not alone in this – specifically among the leaders of our church – but I do not have any individuals in mind. All I can do is write what is on my heart right now and trust the Spirit of God to enlighten the hearts of any who are in a similar position.

My desire in writing this is that God would “turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing- grain offerings and drink offerings for the LORD your God.” What an awesome thing that would be! Not only would He spare us more heartache, He would leave us blessings that we could offer right back to Him as offerings of gratitude and love.

I will leave you now to think and pray these things through as to how you believe we should proceed. Again, it is my conviction that we should work quickly and decisively. I trust you to know that I do not make this plea lightly.

Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus our Lord.



February 24, 2003, 1:30 pm
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The latest in reality programming . . .

On Easter Day, 2003, Noah’s Ark sails again… this time on a virtual voyage of 40 days and 40 nights. Twelve people will be onboard and one of them could be you.

This is the world’s first internet reality game show, brought to you by the smiling folks over at Ship of Fools. Twelve contestants play the game in the roles of Bible Characters, and every four days someone has to walk the plank. Should be a hoot.

There’s still time left for you to be a contestant. [read more]



February 21, 2003, 3:38 pm
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I think I’m one of the worst 5% of youth pastors out there. No really, I am – I really suck at this stuff. I’m not into programs, I have an utter hatred for lock-ins, I’m not enough of a cheerleader, and I don’t babysit very well. On the other hand, I fancy myself as a pretty darn good youth pastor in some other senses – I don’t let my students get away with lazy thinking, I’m not into programs, and I’d rather focus my time on working with the parents and volunteers than the students. Part of why I’m lousy at this thing is that in addition to being the youth pastor, I’m also responsible for children’s ministry, adult small groups, Sunday Bible study, and office administration oversight. I doubt I’d be so inadequate if I could actually spend some time with the students.

All of that as a preface to the rest of my day. I’m going on a quickie overnight campout with the high schoolers tonight. Usually I am marginally energized by these things at best, but I’m actually looking forward to this one. Mostly because there’s no hype, nothing to rah-rah about. It’s just us camping close to home for the heck of it. Yeah, sure, I’ll do some teaching and challenge them and stuff, but we’re mostly just hanging out. When it comes right down to it, culturally they are the people I relate most to in our church – musical interests (except for the boy bands), clothing, pop culture stuff.

I’ve also noticed how much more I’ve enjoyed these kids since coming to a realization that I don’t have much time left with them. By summer I’ll probably be out of their lives for the most part, and I’ve become more aware of the opportunity I have to help them see through the consumeristic crap of the church, and help them see Jesus for who he is, and help them get a vision for living the kingdom life genuinely. I mostly dislike the notion of youth ministry, but in moments like these, I’m glad I get to be a part of some kids’ lives.

As a finishing thought to all of this, I’ve been grateful to read Mark Riddle’s blog. He thinks like I do (or I think like he does . . . not sure which, but I’m willing to give him the credit). Oh, and he makes me laugh too.



February 19, 2003, 8:28 am
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Brian McLaren wrote a sermon for President Bush regarding the coming war. Here’s a snippet:

In this war, Mr. President, if war must happen, I wonder if you would make history by being the first president to share the death toll of our enemy, not as a score of victory, but as another tragic cost of war? I wonder if you could teach the American people to mourn the death of Iraqi mothers’ sons along with our own? I wonder if you could, in this way, deepen our dread and hatred of war, so that if this war happens, it will bring us one war closer to the end of the nightmare, and the beginning of God’s dream for us? When Jesus said,

“Blessed are they who mourn…” (Matthew 5:4)


[read more]



February 18, 2003, 6:45 pm
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David Hopkins has a cool list of peace protester signs from last weekend’s demonstrations on his blog.