July 29, 2003, 11:09 am
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Whew! Busy days, I tell ya. Good days, but busy ones. In particular, it was a busy, but really good weekend. I got to co-lead a couple of workshops for pastors and college ministry type folks on Saturday with Jason. It was fun to work with some very sincere, mostly conservative evangelical, denomonationally-oriented folks and poke and prod and ruffle some feathers, but not just for the sake of doing it – I actually hoped to help them think a bit and continue thinking after the day was done. What I really enjoyed about the day, though, was the in-between session when Jason and I didn’t have a workshop, so we were just able to hang out for an hour and talk. I got some good insight into a “community of communities” (as Darrel Guder puts it in Missional Church) that I’m considering being a part of. Jason is an encouraging dude, to be sure, but I love the fact that he’s got a punk rock mentality that he’s submitted to the will of Christ. What an asset!

On Sunday, Michelle and I went on a worship/nature hike, and then went to a birthday party for a friend. We were treated just like family in this home, and it was so cool. I alway groove on watching a loving family express their love and commitment to one another in ways that are totally unique to them – in this family’s case, they yell at each other a little, poke fun at each other a lot, but over and over, they pay attention to one another at significant levels that show how much they care.

This afternoon I’m meeting with a pastor in San Diego . . . I’m pretty sure he’s going to try to get me to come on staff with him – mostly in a transitional position that is intended to become a church planting thing. I really like this dude a lot – he breaks the “rules”, is all about the Kingdom, and doesn’t mind when the truth offends people – and I’m sure he’s got something worth listening to. Buuuuut man, I’m really going to have to have a clear direction from God if this is supposed to happen. It would probably mean a significant delay in the church planting efforts.

In other news, on my way home from work this morning I got a traffic ticket! Now, I’ve had tickets before, and I’ve never even thought about fighting them because I knew I deserved them. But I got completely ripped on this one! I hate the thought of going to traffic court over this, but I think I may. I completely disagree with the officer’s judgement. Nevertheless, God, I pray that you will bless officer Dean as he goes about his work today. Keep him safe on his beat, and reveal yourself to him in a way that will refresh and renew him.

July 25, 2003, 10:33 pm
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Well, I seem to have successfully navigated the computer bug fairly well. The ants, though, persist. This reminds me of an incident from earlier in my week . . .

After I got out of the shower at 4am to get ready for work, I paused while preparing to put a sock on my left foot. On top of my foot there was a small, almost unnoticeable speck of something. I looked more closely to figure out what it was. The shape was familiar to me, I thought. Then I identified it. It was the tail section of a small creepy-crawly. We call these bugs pincher bugs, but I have no idea what their real name is – long, skinny bugs with an armor type shell, many legs up and down their bodies, and at the end, there’s a little claw like a little crab or something. Curious, I thought, to have just gotten done showering and finding a bug part on me. Then I looked a little farther up my leg and I saw a dark smudge, and then another one on my other leg. And then I knew . . . the pincher bug had been hiding out in some random fold of my towel as I showered, and got caught as I toweled off, and then became like a moisturizer to my normally insect-free skin.

At first I was repulsed by the thought, and then in my knack for spiritualizing things, I realized this was a teachable moment for me. How often do I/we think we are doing the right thing – doing the things we think are good for us (like showering), only to find out that we’ve made a bigger mess of things than when we started? We use our thoughts, our plans, our learned behaviors, our formulas for success, our tools, and we end up with bug guts smeared on our legs.

God’s grace is so available, so there for us. I’m so glad to have had this time of sharing with you. Sweet dreams friends.

July 25, 2003, 4:29 pm
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Crimony!!! My computer keeps trying to have near death experiences. I’m trying to get stuff together for a couple of workshops I’m doing with Jason Evans at a collegiate summit tomorrow, and my pc is having issues. But hey, I blog on, right?

July 22, 2003, 1:14 pm
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So this past weekend, after my first week working part time, I began feeling a little discouraged, in part because I felt like I hadn’t “done anything” in the area of the church plant. And then I remembered why I took the job in the first place – to meet people in the community and begin developing relationships. So I’m pleased to report that I met a bunch of new people in the community last week, and I’m beginning to develop relationships with them!

I was also encouraged by a thouht that popped into my head as I was pondering the whole church thing, and what the heck I’m supposed to be doing with my life. It goes something like this – “God wants me to plant a church more than I do.” I guess I could take that in a couple of different ways, but I chose to receive it as encouragement. God’s desire is to be glorified, and I have the privelege of doing my own little part.

One more thought for the day. It concerns a book that Michelle and I have been reading together devotionally. It’s not a book I would have bought in a hundred years on my own, but because it was a gift, and I promised to give it a shot, we’re reading it. I won’t mention the title, but it’s in the top five NY Times best sellers in the advice category right now. We’re not quite half way through the book, and I’ve been trying to put my finger on why I’m finding it so inadequate. Don’t get me wrong, there’s lots of things I dislike about the book, but if I’m honest, I have to admit there are some good life principles to be found in the book as well. But it finally hit me – my dislike for this book and the multitude of others like it (formulaic readings of scripture which are translated into absolutely essential principles for success with God) is that it’s a person-centered approach to growth. “Do these things in the right ways, and you’re guaranteed to have a better life, because God wants to reward you for doing them!” Do you see how there is more emphasis on the person than on God? Spiritual, personal growth are more a result of our efforts than God’s grace at work in us. But I’ve noticed the difference between this and the kind of reading that really fires me up. I discover truths about God in a new way, and it has almost nothing to do with what I do – God’s gonna be God, and worthy of my complete devotion whether or not I fulfill the principles laid out in some book. The cool thing is that when I discover these things of God, I get so captivated by his beauty that I end up doing a lot of those things as a natural response, and not out of some self-oriented effort at personal blessing. To test this line of thinking out, Michelle and I read a chapter out of NT Wright’s For All God’s Worth, a book on worship. Sure enough, without me having set Michelle up, after only a couple of pages she said something like, “This book is waaaaaayyy better than the other one!”

O.k., enough said for today.

Alright, I lied. I just had one more insight that I gained this morning: a Starbucks lemon scone may be very very tasty, but at 4:45am, nothing in that store looks good but the coffee.

July 20, 2003, 10:29 pm
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I’ve spent a lot of time this weekend thinking about the holocaust. I’ve watched two films (plus the “making of” material from one of them), read some stimulating writing that referenced it, and seen part of a public television program that dealt with WWII death camps. I am left with two feelings – seemingly incongruent, and yet both unmistakably there. I feel the utter horror and sickness in my stomach that more than six million image bearers of God were savagely put to death. And yet I feel the hope that being an image bearer of God myself brings me – that I am empowered to live a life of love and sacrifice toward Him, whether in this physical body or out of it.

John Piper writes about the “mosaic” of God’s will. When viewed individually, the pieces of a mosaic appear insignificant, ugly at times, small, and meaningless. But when viewed as a part of the whole, they all contribute to the beautiful picture. Our God can take even the ugly things of life and build them into his story in such a way as to make them beautiful. His time for redemption will come, and we will be breathlessly captivated by what he has done.

July 18, 2003, 6:46 am
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Geez, I can’t believe this week is almost over . . . time has flown by me. I guess that’s what happens when you work for a living. It’s also what happens when you spend time with folks. OC on Tuesday, BBQ in the park with my college friends on Wednesday, Padres baseball game (if you can call it that) with my dad, sister, and nephew yesterday, good friends coming over for pizza and hang-out time tonight, plus meeting all my new co-workers throughout the week.

I was asked to do some work on an ongoing side project (more to come on this in a couple months), which is starting to get fun.

July 15, 2003, 9:09 pm
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Good day today. I drove the long distance commute with Michelle this morning, dropped her off at work, then headed north to Orange County. This was during the busy morning commute. I didn’t have anywhere to be until 11am, so I decided to drive as far as I could, and then when I hit traffic, I’d take the next exit and grab some coffee. As it turned out, I hit the traffic and pulled off in Mission Viejo at an exit where I knew a Starbucks store was located. I hung out and read for a while, and then in walked Troy Murphy, who is part of the South County United family. I met with one of his cohorts a couple months back, so I introduced myself to Troy. Cool dude – we didn’t talk long, but it was good to meet him.

I had lunch with a buddy of mine, Jeff. It was good to reconnect after quite a while since the last time we hung out. He’s allowing God to push him into some uncomfortable territory – it’s good to see in one way, but I know it’s hard too. I really want to be a source of encouragement.

I’ve been continuing to plod my way through a couple of books – more slowly than I ought, but hey, I’m working man again, right? Yeah, I started work at a local Starbucks store yesterday. Interesting stuff so far . . . I’ve been learning about their philosophy and culture. Tommorrow I may actually learn how to make something.