Tuesday, December 29, 2009

somewhere a knife.

somewhere a sharp knife cuts into the side of an orange.
somewhere the song of a piano plays an unrecognizable chorus.
somewhere someone is looking for something but can't find it.
somewhere questions are left unanswered.

snow falls on the trees and blankets the ground.
it resembles a peacefulness that is strangely unobtainable to many.

the blanket of peace comes up short and my feet are cold.

doesn't it make you feel good? to be lost? and cold? and without answers?

somewhere a dull knife splits an apple; core and seeds now exposed.
somewhere the frosting has been licked off of the cupcake.
somewhere an instrument is being tuned to the wrong key.
somewhere a truck passes by on the interstate; as does life.

there is no time for rest. no slowing down.
the snow does not stop coming down - while discontent and frustration freezes the soil.

the blanket of chaos dulls the luster and smothers the fire of life.

doesn't it make you feel good? to be lost? and dreary? and without answers?

somewhere a dirty knife penetrates the heart of a pomegranate as the full passion of life is discovered.
somewhere a solution is dancing wildly on the horizon.
somewhere a melody is filling the air with truth.
somewhere rescue is coming.

snow falls on cedars, compelling shelter to be sought.
the warmth of the fire within burns brightly and melts away frozen souls.

the blanket of hope comforts the whole.

doesn't it make you feel good? to be lost? and warm? and without answers?

waiting and hoping and seeking...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

living a good story

recently - i finished reading Donald Miller's new book - A Million Miles and a Thousand Years. the essence of this book is 'story'. what kind of story are you living, am i living? the book is full of stories, basically, that discuss and look at what it might be like to re-write and edit one's own life story.

one chapter talked about risk and how overcoming risk makes for a great story. the wheels began to spin in my mind: what risks have i taken? what stories are memorable? here are a few things that came to mind... most of which my (or may not) be risky - but they are not what i would think of as normal... so thus maybe, perhaps they are good stories?

  • Exploring and climbing into an abandoned barn - only to realize once inside i couldn't get out.
  • sneaking out of billy's grandparents house by climbing out second story window - trying rope to bed
  • Seeing George Brett play baseball up close and personal.
  • riding around in the trunk of a car all night - returning to campus - only to go back out and drive all night around Lexington, KY with Jay Pope.
  • Midnight impromptu dance party with friends in a field off the highway, as These Are the Days by 10,000 Maniacs played on the car stereo.
  • Driving west and attending film school in Los Angeles.
  • Successfully creating, pitching and producing a tv show.
  • leaping into a new profession as Youth Director.
  • Driving 6 hours to 'see about a girl'... a year and a half later, marrying that girl.
  • My wife and i taking up running.
  • Jen taking me to an Explosions in the Sky concert in ghetto Cleveland
  • Taking the youth group on many trips and adventures: retreats, mission trips and the like.
  • going with my parents on a makeshift family history tour - traveling to Randolph, NY + Crestline, Ohio and many places in between, interviewing people and videotaping the entire event.
  • Family vacations @ Lakeside.
  • Starting our own photography business.
these aren't examples of great stories - but they are just a glimpse of a few of my stories. some were risky... some were not so much. thinking about them compells me to make new ones.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Donald Miller - A Million Miles... review

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I cam upon this book at just the right time. I've been fascinated by the idea of 'story' as of late - and A Million Miles and a Thousand Years is about just that: story.

Donald Miller is a good story teller - in person and in word form.

Admittedly, i haven't read Blue Like Jazz - his most notable book - but this book seemed to grab my attention more.

Basically Miller lays out in creative form the need for 'story' in the lives of humans... and if given the chance - how many of us would change our very own story?

If we could all start over and give our lives a 're-write' how would things be different? I was whimsically challenged by this book... if nothing else - to take more risks... to make my story memorable (something you can't do while sitting on the couch).

It was an easy read and i could probably read it again. it's not that anything profound was really shared - lots of movie vs. real life comparisons - but it was gently inspiring.

Miller writes in a conversational tone which i enjoyed.

View all my reviews >>

Friday, December 11, 2009


After the seas are all cross'd, (as they seem already cross'd,)
After the great captains and engineers have accomplish'd their work,
After the noble inventors, after the scientists, the chemist, the
geologist, ethnologist,
Finally shall come the poet worthy that name,
The true son of God shall come singing his songs.
~from Walt Whitman :: a passage to india


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

introducing: Creative Kerygma

i've been making videos for a while now. i've dabbled in making worship-related videos over the last few years as well. so i thought it was about time to start sharing my creations with others.

we recently started a new alternative worship service called Kaleidoscope. the idea behind the name is 'broken pieces made beautiful.' when you look through a k-scope, you'll see fragmented glass or plastic - that when turned and pointed towards the light, something beautiful is created and formed. it's kind of the same way with man and God: when our fragmented, broken selves meet the light of Christ, something beautiful is formed.

Kaleidoscope is a multi-sensory worship encounter - aimed at providing opportunities for people to connect with God in new and fresh ways.

K-scope will become a monthly alternative worship setting starting in January.

We've had two test runs. This last one had the theme: Satisfied? for that one, i created a short film that resembles a Rob Bell-Nooma video. i will admit, his style was an inspiration - but we wanted to do something original.

So now - i aim to make, on a regular basis, more worship related films under the name Creative Kerygma. Kerygma is greek for 'Proclamation.' These films are meant to be a creative proclamation of the Gospel, in some way, shape or form.

here are the first two Creative Kerygma short films. Sheep and Shepherd. Shepherd is adapted from Sheep - if you watch them both, you'll understand.

enjoy. leave feedback or use 'em in your worship. if you use them, let me know how you used them. Thanks!

sheep from Tim Beck on Vimeo.

shepherd (psalm 23) from Tim Beck on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Still Waters (book based on the 23rd Psalm)

Still Waters and Skyscrapers: The 23rd Psalm for the 21st Century Still Waters and Skyscrapers: The 23rd Psalm for the 21st Century by Dave Tomlinson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Still Waters and Skyscrapers is a very gentle book that digs deeper into the most quoted Psalm of all, the 23rd Psalm.

It was refreshing to read and investigate deeply the power behind the 23rd Psalm. There are many parallels in scripture to Jesus being the Good Shepherd. the 23rd Psalm reminds us that we are not alone.

At the heart of it all, Psalm 23 is a story. Citations of the gentle shepherd bookend the low times of our lives so that we are reminded of God's caring, loving nature, through it all.

Still Waters was an easy read and an enjoyable read, as well.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Three Simple Rules (book review)

Three Simple Rules: A Wesleyan Way of Living Three Simple Rules: A Wesleyan Way of Living by Reuben P. Job

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Do Good.
Do No Harm.
Stay in Love with God.

Three Simple Rules. A small, but profoundly inspiring book by Rueben P. Job.

This one will be worth reading again and again from time to time.

based on the writings and teachings of John Wesley.

View all my reviews >>

Pagan Christianity (book review)

Pagan Christianity: Exposing the Roots of Our Church Practices Pagan Christianity: Exposing the Roots of Our Church Practices by Frank Viola

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
i liked the historical documentation of the beginnings and traditions of the church. the book brought about some interesting conversations with others, as well. but by-and-large, this book sort of sucker-punches the church, brings it to its knees and then gets in its face and taunts it.

ok. maybe that was a harsh analogy, but Viola and Barna spare no punches.

what i value from this book is that it asks questions that nobody ever asks. questions like, why do pastors wear robes? and why do choirs sing? and why do we tithe? they then answer said questions with historical information. the end conclusion: there are a lot of things that we do that aren't in the scriptures. many Christian practices and traditions have 'secular' pagan roots. but in the end, how much of it really matters?

i actually found this to be an easy read and i finished it in a week. it tended to get me worked up over some of the things pointed out. then, after a few days, it just didn't matter that much.

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

love create share respond

a few weeks back i was planning a youth worship service on the theme of Community. while doing research and prep - i stumbled across Ian Adams' blog (thank you Jonny Baker)

this post inspired me greatly.
When combined with ‘the big idea’ [see the previous 'ways into... no 3'] a good spirit can produce something truly creative - a community that in small ways begins to reshape us and the world around us for good. So it can be really helpful in beginning a new community to identify what we hope the spirit will be, describe it, and begin to try to live it.
As i thought about our youth community (i am a youth pastor) and what we aim to be - i began to think about what i/we hoped the spirit of our 'community' would be.

and out of that, an ethos was born:

love God + people (matthew 22:38-40)

create + inspire others to connect with God. (made in the image of God - man can use creativity to inspire others and help others connect with God through interactive, out-of-the-box methods. because of creativity, we are made new.)

share your story + God's story. the Good news can be shared through words and actions. St. Francis said 'preach often. if necessary, use words.' whatever methods, we encourage people to be real and to share their stories with others and along the way to share God's story of love and redemption. the cool part is when people begin to see the connection between their story and God's story. may our stories inspire generosity + genuine community as we share the truth of Jesus. (matthew 10:7)

respond to the needs of others + to the call of Christ. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says 'pity a man who falls and has no one to help him up.' we want to be aware of the needs of others. remember that Jesus said 'whatever you have done to the least of these, you have done to me. and whatever you have not done to the least of these, you have not done to me.' we desire selfless, not selfish community.

now comes the challenge to 'live it out.'

below is the video that sums up our ethos.

love create share respond from Tim Beck on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


"Prayer makes us vulnerable to others. It's difficult to cling to our defenses, our prejudices, and even our anger at another person when we're praying for them. The more we pray for someone, even an enemy, the more God softens the heart toward that person -- the more that person changes from enemy to friend. Prayer makes it more likely that we can move from seeing someone as "garbage" to actually, seeing the person as a child of God."

~ Mark Yaconelli (from the book Downtime: Helping Teenagers Pray)

Monday, October 19, 2009

religiosity. pt. 2

from an interview with the Boston Globe:

Boston Globe: I’m struck by the fact that I don’t hear a lot of explicitly religious language, or mentions of Jesus, from you.

Rob Bell: I think we have enough religious people who are going around trying to convert people. My guard is up when somebody is trying to convert me to their thing. Are you talking to me because you actually are interested in this subject, because you care about me as a human, or am I one more possible conversion that will make you feel good about your religiosity? I don’t have any embarrassment about my religion, and it’s not that I’m too cool, but I would hope that the Jesus message would come through, hopefully through a full humanity.

my thoughts:
Christianity can't fit into a cookie cutter mold. yet we try and try to make it fit, perhaps because it makes us feel successful. but perhaps its not about success. perhaps its truly about discipleship and truly following Jesus.

there is a ministry at the edge of town that has a sign out front that reads '652 Salvation's' or something like that. everytime i see it i am reminded of McDonalds and how it would say 'over 1 billion served'. I don't like to think of 'salvation' as a fast food product that is bought and sold.

i know that God can and will reach people and save people through various methods - but i would feel a little uncomfortable using the 'used car salesman' approach to advancing God's kingdom.

i think i would rather spread the Good news of Jesus through relationships and conversations and actions that are consistent with the teachings of Jesus. Loving God first and Living all people next. Treating people with respect while showing them an example of the hope that is within me.

Salvation is not a commodity - and getting people 'saved' is not something i do so that i can get another notch on my belt.

i guess i look at it this way: if a man were drowning in a lake - and he cried out to be saved, the lifeguard would throw him a life preserver and thus salvation would be at hand.
but once out of the water - drowning man must then learn to swim before jumping back in the lake. the learning to swim is discipleship. learning the art of being like Jesus. the lifeguard - presumably would show drowning man the Way to life. (John 10:10)

if said life guard 'saves' drowning man but then moves on, how genuine was the saving? he saved only because it was his job - not because it was his passion for the drowning man to have life.

as a follower of Jesus - i want people to understand the saving grace of Jesus. but i want them to understand that and to SEE that through my love and my actions.

it is my prayer that there would be a genuine, consistency within me and that God would give me the boldness to proclaim the gospel to one and all - through word and deed. i hope that is your prayer, too.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Drops Like Stars review

Drops Like Stars: A Few Thoughts on Creativity and Suffering Drops Like Stars: A Few Thoughts on Creativity and Suffering by Rob Bell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Drops like Stars is not like many books on anyone's bookshelf. as a matter of fact - it's dimensions make it difficult to literally fit on my bookshelf. it's more of a coffee table type book.
filled with creative art and stunning photography with words sprinkled throughout, Drops Like Stars is author Rob Bell's attempt to connect creativity and suffering.

in fact, the tag line says that: A Few Thoughts on Creativity and Suffering.

that's just what it is... a few thoughts... stories... anecdotes... and what not that attempts (mildly successfully) to show the connection between man and God during difficult times and how that suffering can bring about a new perspective. the ability to see things that are often missed... those God moments, i'd call them.

in the end - we all suffer. and it is going to shape us.

as he writes: we'll be bitter or better...closed or open... more ignorant or more aware. etc.

in the midst of it all, Bell reminds us of how God connects through us - through our suffering - because his son suffered once and for all, so that we may live... a life to the full.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

religiosity. pt. 1

Rob Bell has his share of fans. he also has his share of enemies.
recently he was interviewed by the Boston Globe. you can read part of the article HERE. the 2nd page of the article from the BG website is from another BG article and so, sadly, the completed article is missing.

some people, like this guy have gone bananas over quotes from Bell from the BG article. based on the comments left on that guys page you'll see some very loving christian responses, too. sweet! Jesus must be so proud! i find it interesting that none who commented on their disdain for Bell seemed to have bothered to check the facts. "He doesn't mention the name of Jesus enough" they say. (kinda sounds like how Contemporary Christian Music used to keep track of JPM's in its music... JPM's = Jesus' Per Minute. The more JPM's the more likely your song would get made.) But alas, apparently Bell was largely misquoted or taken out of context in the BG article. this guys big stink is about Bell's quote on the word 'evangelism. others here are a little perturbed, too.

Bell's quote: "I embrace the term evangelical, if by that we mean a belief that we together can actually work for change in the world, caring for the environment, extending to the poor generosity and kindness, a hopeful outlook. That’s a beautiful sort of thing."
He didn't mention Jesus which got people upset.
from Christianity Today: Rob Bell has responded to the Globe interview on his Twitter account. He says that most of what he said was left out of the interview, and calls it "maddening." He also goes on to clarify the historical roots of the word "evangelical."

from Bell's twitter page: A bit of history: the word evangelical comes from the Roman Empire propaganda machine- it was an announcement proclaiming Caesar is Lord...The first Christians took the phrase and tweaked it, saying "Jesus is Lord." That, of course, could get you killed. No one challenges Caesar...To confess Jesus is Lord was to insist that peace does not come to earth through coercive violence but through sacrificial love...That is still the question, is it not? Whose way? Jesus or Caesar? Power and might and domination - or bloody, thirsty, hanging on a cross?
And so things were left out of the Boston Globe article.

it bothers me that some christians seem reluctant to give the benefit of the doubt. it is too easy to point the finger, i guess.

Jesus seemed to say something about that, though...
How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. ~Luke 6:42

maybe there are more important things for us to be focusing on right now. like giving up our inner pride, perhaps? or maybe taking care of our own business? Loving God and loving people? practicing empathy and humility?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

carried through

many children have that special thing that serves as a pacifier of sorts. Linus from Peanuts© had his blanket. Andy from Toy Story© had Woody. when I was a child, I had this stuffed teddy bear who was dressed in a train engineer outfit... Blue stripped overalls. Red handkerchief. Train engineers hat. I called him Choo Choo Charlie.

One day, i was playing and decided "wouldn't it be cool if Choo Choo Charlie got into some sort of train accident? So i found in my sisters room some lipstick and i smeared it all over Choo Choo's face and arms - so as to resemble blood, i guess. (disturbing, I know). When i was done playing 'train accident' i discovered that said lipstick would not come off. His fur was permanently scarred. the bear was damaged goods.

But i didn't mind. despite his flaws, i loved that bear. over time it became even more flawed... ripped clothes, frayed fur, etc. by any stretch - it was broken; certainly less than perfect. but regardless, i still loved that bear. Why? because there was a bond. a connection. a shared comfort. i carried him proudly.

it was a part of me.

i think it's kind of the same with God. we have our cuts and bruises. some manufactured by us. some caused by others. but despite our flaws - our ripped souls and broken hearts - we are still loved by God. Why? because there is a bond. a connection. a shared comfort. God delights in us. believe that. we are his pride and joy.

and he carries us proudly.

When the water's too high
When the water's too high
I will carry you
I will carry you

When the night is too black
When the night is too black
I will carry you
I will carry you

Save Me O' God

Thursday, September 17, 2009

what a disciple looks like

A Disciple:

One who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another.
A follower of Jesus.
A pupil.

It is enough for the student to be like his teacher. [a]

Do not live according to the sinful nature. Live according the Spirit.
A mind controlled by the Spirit brings a full life of peace.
The Spirit is powerful. Follow Christ, truly follow Him. Follow Jesus closely. Close enough that His dust covers your clothes. That dust will be the outward sign to the world that you are truly His disciple. Live like him.
Do not be a slave to fear. Share in his sufferings in order that you may also share in his glory. Be empathetic. [b]

United with fellow disciples.
Take care of others.
Share. Give freely. [c]

Lend a hand to the poor and weak. But not do bring glory to ourselves and not only when it is convenient. Ask "how can I help?"
Take on the troubles of the troubled, just like your mentor and example, Jesus.
Be in harmony with one another. No personal agendas.
Get along with others.
Be alert for what's on the horizon.
Remember: the personable God is dependable, steady and warm. May He develop maturity in us. [d]

Preach. Proclaim. Share the Gospel, the Good News.
Through words and actions. Not one without the other. Ever.
The Lord will confirm His truth in you when you obey.
Do not be discouraged. [e] [f]

Conduct yourself in ways that are not contradictory to the Good News Jesus proclaimed.
Live like a follower. No pretending.
Do not fear those that oppose you. And you will face opposition. if you don't, you may not be following Jesus as closely as you think. Perhaps.
Your courage, strength and unity will show those who oppose you what they are up against.
There is more to this life than trusting in Him. Suffer for Him, also.
Did He not suffer for you? [g]

Live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
Love life.
Keep your words pure.
Pursue peace. [h]

Be eager to do good.
If you suffer for what you do, you are blessed.
Make Christ Lord in your heart. Be cautious with your heart. The temptations to fill it with other things will be prominent.
Give a reason, to those who ask, for the hope that you have, but do this with gentleness and respect.
Keep a clear conscience.
Remember: Christ died, once for all - for the righteous and the unrighteous so that all may be brought to God. Remember all of the truths of Christ: the living water. the blood sacrifice. the removal of our grime. the salvation He gives. The resurrection, as well. [i]

Your actions are your response to God's amazing grace.
That grace accepts us, assures us, sustains us and embraces us with divine love.
Radical grace prompts a radical response.

[a] = Matthew 10:24-25
[b] = Romans 8:5-25
[c] = Acts 4:32-37
[d] = Romans 15:1-5
[e] = Mark 16:19-20
[f] = James 2:14-26
[g] = Philippians 1:27-30
[h] = 1 Peter 3:8-12
[i] = 1 Peter 3:13-22

inspired by: A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God by Shawchuck & Job

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Things that happen:

Stupid arguments. Lousy outcomes. Lack of preparation. Unmet expectation. Misunderstandings. Different perceptions. Numbness. Self doubt. Chasing After. Life unscripted. Sickness. Panic. Differing opinions. Wasted money. Lack of desire. Unbridled passion. Joy. Pain. Loss. Gain. Gentle breezes. Warm summer nights. Howling wind. Cold winter days. Reluctance. Perseverance. Physical exhaustion. Communication. Spontanious community. Pen to paper. Fingers to keyboard. Wasted time. Television watched. Creativity. Relationships developed. Broken spirits. Lost art. Movement. Resistance. Silence. Peace. Grace.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Novacaine Baby!

i had a tooth pulled once. a wisdom tooth at that. the bad thing was that i had a cavity in said tooth but didn't get it filled. one day while eating a salad at the Golden Corral i chipped said tooth on a crouton. yes, a crouton. long story short, it needed extracted. the worst part of the extraction was the sounds of the dentist pulling and tugging and using some sort of weapon, a saw, i think, tpo get the tooth out. but honestly, i didn't feel a thing. Novocaine, baby! Despite all of the pain that my mouth was enduring, i didn't feel a thing. I was numb.

the other day a friend of mine blogged about the art of becoming comfortably numb.
Think about your life. The heating/air conditioning keep us from the cold/heat outside, not to mention having to chop wood for the fireplace. We watch TV or read books as a means of escape. Some of our greatest societal ills are the result of trying not to feel anything, or at least only what feels good: Alcohol, drugs or even caffeine, anyone?
i don't like to feel pain. not just physical pain. any kind. most people don't like it at all. and so we cope. sometimes in productive ways. sometimes in not so productive ways. whatever vice we use, it'll only mask the pain. like novacaine. it blocks the pain, but it doesn't take it away.

the other nite we received our latest Netflix movie: Revolutionary Road. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet star as Frank and April Wheeler, a young couple starting out their lives together, wanting desperately to be 'different' and to not end up like everybody else.

Before too long, years have past. Children were born and their suburban, mid-1950's lifestyle had not become as spectacular or special as they had hoped. Little by little, their lives began to fall apart, their goals and dreams put on hold, trapped inside a cavern of numbness that began to take away hope. When you take away hope, you take away life.

slowly, both Frank and April, in their own unique ways allowed the mundane to bring on atrophy to a once vibrant life, full of hope. Frank feels he is ending up like his old man, something he swore he'd never let happen. he takes the train to work at a job where he finds little enjoyment. His fears keep him from becoming anything other than what he is. April wants to live in Paris, France or somewhere 'special' but feels trapped in the 'burbs, wishing her life was different; it is evident that both crave something more. something deeper.

i couldn't help but see the parallels to today's world. Fear grips us. The numbness traps us. and our lives slowly wither away. We crave something more. We want to feel something deep inside. But our pain blockers end up stealing away our joy as well. How can we experience true joy if we don't have pain to compare it to? we just sit, comfortably. on the couch. watching television. eating ice cream. and all the while life passes us by. before we know it, we're 60 and what do we have to show for it?

trapped. wanting out, but not knowing what we need to do to get out. our muscles tired. our mind turned to mush. it's the novacaine principle and it can take over our lives.

This craving for something more has plagued man's heart from the beginning of time. Augustine wrote about it. We can want something more so bad, talking about it, planning how to get it but getting out there and searching for it takes a lot of effort. and it's all too easy for the years to pass on by without any of us finding that which truly fulfills.

i believe that there is one place where we can find that fulfillment. it starts with becoming a follower of Jesus. not by going to church or by learning the ABC's of the salvation that Jesus offers. Fulfillment is found when we have faith and trust in Christ alone. A follower is more than an attendee or casual observer. A follower is a disciple. Disciplined. Dirty from the dust of the Rabbi's sandals. Nothing casual about that. We have a lot of church goers who know all the right things to say - but being a follower is so much more than speaking. Words without action are merely wasted air - draining the energy of the person who speaks them.

Jesus said that he came to give us life and life to the full. Paul reminds us that (if we are true followers of Christ) we are new creations - the old is gone. The mundaine is put to rest. The numbness subsides. And as a follower - no Novocaine is desired. we want to see and feel pain. ours. others. the worlds. and we rejoice in suffering because we trust that it will produce character and hope.

And hope does not disappoint us. and because of hope - we obey. And after all, that is all Jesus really asks of us... it's not all about 'feeling good'... it's about obeying the Master, Jesus.

Friday, August 28, 2009

sitting on the back porch on a rainy day, thinking about grace.

the other day it rained. after the rain, came the mist and that smell. you know, that smell that comes after it rains? it's a musty and yet fresh smell.

there i was... sitting on the back porch. letting it all sink in.

thinking about how grace comes down - under pressure from the clouds - and rains upon us... when we are hot... and in need of a cooldown. grace comes when we need it.

like the gentle summer rains that come in the late afternoon - leaving behind a stillness. a beauty. a sound and a smell.

birds slowly come out from hiding. making music that compliments the stillness. drips of water slowly come down, one at a time, off of every tree branch and leaf. falling to the ground. so that the saturated earth can regenerate itself... regenerate life.

and grace falls down and re saturates our state of being, regenerating life along the way, if we let it.

grace abounds. and covers me. whether i think i need it or not. i don't deserve the rain. but it comes anyway. i don't deserve my thirst to be quenched. but quenched, i am.

grace like rain. capture the moment.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

virtue reality

God has called us to be lovers and we frequently think that He meant us to be saviors. So we "love" as long as we see "results." We give ourselves as long as our investments pay off, but if the ones we love do not respond, we tend to despair and blame ourselves and even resent those we pretend to love. Because we love someone, we want them to be free of addictions, of sin, of self -- and that is as it should be. But it might be that our love for them and our desire for their well-being will not make them well. And, if that is the case, their lack of response no more negates the reality of love than their quickness to respond would confirm it. ~ Rich Mullins (Virtue Reality, July-August, 1994)
We don't need to be saviors. we need to be lovers.

we don't need to see results. we need to see those who need love.

we don't need to offer the 'feeling' of love. we need to offer the virtue of love.

we don't need to use love to buy good behavior. we need to love as God loves.

we are not called to save or to change others. we are called to love with real, genuine love.

love is not dependent upon someone responding to it.

Salvation is possible because real love is there. True love flows from God to those who know Him - and truly live and walk like His Son, Jesus.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

no alarms and no surprises, please

(the swine flu is coming to get you)
90,000 people could die from the Swine Flu this year! 2 million could be hospitalized!1!1!1 omg. run for the hills. take cover. this winter there's gonna be widespread panic (at the disco, perhaps, even.)
this is gonna be huge. massive chaos, i tell you. (or it could be "much milder" says CDC director.)

so H1N1 (a.k.a. Swine Flu - which, by the way, would be a sweet name for a hip hop star) could be the biggest pandemic since full blown AIDS hit the scene when Magic Johnson got it in '91 or it could be just another typical flu season (20,000-40,000 people typically die from the flu each year... 63,000 died from the influenza in '01) so basically, if Magic Johnson gets Swine Flu this year, they'll probably call a press conference to announce 'the end is near'.

it's good to panic, though. because it makes hindsight all the more zany, in the long run.
i suppose that in 9 or 10 months we'll all look at the Swine Flu outbreak and with whimsical opines we stand around the water cooler joking at how this 'pandemic' only killed 45,000 people instead of 90,000! ha. i can hear the waves of laughter carry through the halls now.

meanwhile, in the time it took you to read this, 20 people died of hunger. 15 million children will die of hunger this year. in the United States of America, one out of every six children is at risk of hunger. [stats]

but nobody 'panics' about that.

Monday, August 24, 2009

i don't know anything.

i don't know anything. i think i do but i don't. at times my lack of knowledge can be frustrating. but deep in the heart i know that nobody else knows anything either.

maybe it's not always about knowing, but about trusting.

perhaps our 'knowledge' leads us down the path to heresy. but we're all heretics, really.

as Peter Rollins writes in The Orthodox Heretic "the question is not that we judge between orthodoxy and heresy, but rather how we judge between good heresy and bad heresy."

will i proudly say that i know all that there is about faith? or will i humbly admit that i am in the dark about some things - but i aim to live like the way Jesus exemplified (hopefully without picking and choosing which which examples to follow and which to not follow.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Night Night by Elie Wiesel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
it's the kind of book that anyone could read though, start to finish, in one sitting... it's just a really deep, emotional book about the Holocaust. i feel it would be an injustice to read it quickly, otherwise the disturbing truths found within might not sink in and resonate with my soul.

View all my reviews >>

Friday, August 14, 2009

Irresistible Revolution

The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical by Shane Claiborne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Claiborne gives his unique perception and opinion of what it means to serve like Jesus served or like Jesus would serve.

I enjoyed his style of writing, very personable and real.

My favorite chapter was 'Jesus is For Losers' where he outlines how the gospel is 'good news for sick people and is disturbing for those who think they've got it all together.'

At the heart if it all, Irresistible Revolution is a book about loving others... and truly following Jesus means loving all... including our enemies and people not like us.

Shane lives a unique lifestyle of simplicity and it is certainly something he is called too. he gives meaningful examples of practical living that isn't caught up in the consumerism of the world.

A profound message for the church today...

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Upon this Rock...

{blog posts have been infrequent this summer. i hope this is the first post of many as i aim to blog more and be less procrastinator-like. hope this makes sense.}

the conception of the church, perhaps, can be found in a brief conversation Jesus had with his disciples on the way to Caesarea Philippi. Jesus poses a question (found in Matthew 16:13-20) , "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" Less than remarkable answers are given by some of the disciples. I'd say they are less than remarkable because Jesus doesn't dwell on any of those answers. He quickly turns the tables to the disciples themselves. "who do you say that I am?" Peter answers giving the presumable first reply. It doesn't strike me odd that Peter's answers. Peter always seems to be first to say something, only most of the time he sticks his foot in his mouth. But not know. Peter gets it right.

"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Jesus blesses him and states one of the most profound statements ever recorded: "you are now called Peter (meaning 'rock') and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not prove stronger than it."

This statement is profound because it is here that the church begins, spoken into existence from the words of Christ himself. "I will build my house upon this rock."

Interesting. Jesus chose to Peter. In an lot of ways this 'Rock' of a person often at times didn't get it, often said the wrong things; once was bold enough to walk on water but lost faith in himself and began to sink; fell asleep in the garden when asked to 'watch and pray'; turned to violence over love when the soldiers came; before the Crucifixion denied knowing or having anything to do with Jesus and who kept his distance during the death of his Rabbi. In many ways, Peter failed and would fail. But Jesus picked him to build his church upon.

I wonder if there might be a parallel to the failures of Peter to the failures of the church that was eventually 'built' on that rock?

Later, in Acts 2, despite his failures, Peter connects the dots, receives the Spirit and the house of Jesus, the church, begins to break ground. The church breaks ground, not on land - but on hearts. The church begins to build on the hearts of man and woman and child. Peter is chosen, much like many other 'failures' were chosen. Remember? Jacob wrestled the angel. Moses led the Israelites but because of his impatience never stepped foot in the promised land. Rahab, a prostitute, was instrumental in the Israelites finding that promised land. King David committed adultery and then covered it up with murder. Thomas doubted. Paul held the coats of members of the Sanhedrin while they stoned Stephen. There are many others.

Fact is, God uses imperfect people to do remarkable things. He doesn't call the equipped, he equips those he calls.

But over the years, the church has acted much like Peter, before his transformation. I suppose it is because we are made up of imperfect people... but that is no excuse for our imperfect behavior. In some ways, perhaps, we've lost our way.

I find it interesting that at the end of this section {Matthew 16:13-20) Jesus 'warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.' Maybe it was because he knew that proclaiming Jesus as Lord could potentially get in the way of emulating Jesus their Lord. Perhaps.

It's one thing to proclaim Jesus Christ from the rooftops. It's another thing to live out his mission of Loving God and Loving People and serving the poor and reaching out to the oppressed.

Maybe Jesus knew that the once and future church that would be built on the Rock would proclaim Him with great joy - but yet, not live like Him, perhaps because, frankly living like Christ is intense. Hard. Challenging.

In closing, i give you the words of Rich Mullins:
"And as the skies proclaim the work of His hands, the Church testifies to the work of His Messiah. Red blood and flesh confess Jesus' Lordship, then drop the ball and are baffled by the immensity of that confession. People who are not pointlessly perfect receive an unattainable revelation and then misunderstand and betray the Truth. They foolishly divide and become divisive and yet He makes them one. They stumble and limp and sometimes turn to lesser gods and then are embraced by the One they've abandoned. As Paul says "We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God" and this confession that Jesus is Messiah still changes pebbles into rock and as long as the Church confesses, she will continue to be what is in her genes to become.

We've got pretty good genes. We'll do well to grow into them.'

inspired by Peter Rollins - The Orthodox Heretic & Rich Mullins - The World As Best As I Remember It

Thursday, July 30, 2009

these are things that i don't understand

How tides control the sea, and what becomes of me
How little things can slip out of your hands
How often people change, not to remain the same
Why things don't always turn out as you plan

These are things that I don't understand
Yeah, these are things that I don't understand

I can't, and I can't decide
Wrong, oh my wrong from right
Day, oh my day from night
Dark, oh my dark from light
I live, but I love this life

How infinite is space, and who decides your fate
Why everything will dissolve into sand
How to avoid defeat, when truth and fiction meet
Why nothing ever turns out as you plan

These are things that I don't understand
Yeah, these are things that I don't understand

I can , and I can't decide
Wrong, oh my wrong from right
Day, oh my day from night
Or dark, oh my dark from light
I live, but I love this life

(lyrics by coldplay)


while sitting on the shoreline of the ocean... i pondered the things i don't understand.

why i've yet to see a boat in motion, in the water
why the wind blows
how the tides come with such consistency
how we've got things all wrong for so long (perhaps)
the true vision of love
why healthy food is more expensive than unhealthy food
why Pepsi tastes so good
how sheltered i've probably been
how the gospel gets misinterpreted (perhaps) by so many
quantum physics
how (supposedly) violence can consistently lead to peace?
how the ocean can be so mesmerizing.
how spf 30 can keep me burn-free
why crabs move sideways
why birds seem to aim at our van when using the toilet

perhaps i have more thoughts. perhaps i'll blog them later.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

MAKER MOMENT: the meaning of life

it is our task to create foretastes of the kingdom of God on this planet -- living glimpses of what life is meant to be, which included art and music and poetry and shared laughter and picnics and politics and moral outrage and special privileges for children only and wonder and humor and endless love.
~ Robert McAfee Brown

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Death of Christian Music (and all of its friends)

Contemporary Christian Music (1969-2009)
Contemporary Christian Music was found unresponsive this morning and died, the result of a rather lengthy illness. Once birthed out of the Jesus movement of the late 60's, Contemporary Christian Music (known as 'CCM') broke new ground in 1969 and gradually launched itself into the forefront of 'Christianity' in the years to follow.

The rise of popularity and fame was later paralleled by artists who took themselves to seriously (Carmen) and those who saw the writing on the wall (Leslie/Sam Phillips, MuteMath, Switchfoot). This led to a (not-so-subtle) downward spiral that started when Peter Furler's (Newsboys) drumset turned upside down. This was the beginning of a slow, painful imminent death.

A long bout with complacency would soon follow and thus led to atrophy which shriveled away the wee-bit of creativity that was still flowing through its veins.
Despite attempts to regenerate itself through intravenous doses of dated sounds, uninspired lyrics, and cheesy band names (often with days, numbers or colors in the title) CCM's demise was inevitable.

The satirical lyrics of Steve Taylor (penned in 1993) were, perhaps, prophetic words for CCM: "the news of my impending death came at a really bad time for me."

CCM is survived by distant cousins, The Bill Gaither Trio and the Christian t-shirt.

Friday, May 29, 2009

the story of howies®

howies® is a small, but productive clothing company based out of Cardigan Bay, Wales, England. they playfully boast: "we're the third largest clothing company in Cardigan Bay."

playful often comes to mind when looking at the howies® website. i've been drawn to their sense of style, sense of play, and sense of simplicity for quite some time. i think i stumbled upon the howies sight after Jonny Baker made something from the howies® webite a worship trick years ago.

the company began back in 1995 making t shirts in their flat and then selling them out of the back of a BMX magazine. it took off from there, selling clothes designed to last. designed to be worn. designed to get dirty. they went on to make more than just t shirts...

now 14 years later, they have this to say:
The journey is by no means complete. And the journey so far has taught us some important things. Like where we want to go. And just as importantly, where we don't want to go.
The journey is the destination. sometimes we don't find the answers to life's big questions until we venture out on the journey of uncertainty. Sometimes we don't know where we want to go until we, well... go. (sounds a lot like faith, eh?)
[side notes about the connection between faith and journey: luke 9; john 4; acts 9]

although the clothes are higher priced, the company has a reason for such a price tag (as their set beliefs page says):

A higher quality product will invariably last longer. It will keep on performing as it was designed to for longer before it finally needs replacing. And so over its lifespan it will have consumed less valuable resources than an inferior product that will have been replaced many times.

That's why we make the best quality products that we know how. Because ultimately the best thing we can do for the environment is to make our stuff last a real long time.

this t-shirt runs £25 (about $40 U.S. dollars)
this video below shows 'the making of a t-shirt.' who knew a t shirt could be so exciting?

the making of a t-shirt from howies on Vimeo.

i like their home-grown, grass roots approach to things. they are trying to grow mostly from word of mouth. imagine... spreading a message that you want to be communicated to the masses, through conversations?
kind of like the Gospel, right? spreading good news, about t shirts or Jesus... probably best done via the 'word of mouth' technique.

but howies® appears to be more than just a clothing company. they are portraying an image. a way of life. maybe it's a bit cynical to think that they aren't also in it to make a buck. but i think they are on to something with the way they approach promoting not just clothes, but living.

get outside. play. make things. simplify. experience beauty.

they have a series of wallpapers that are pretty sweet. found HERE on their website.

i've never worn or owned any howies® product... probably never will... unless someday i make it over to England or decide to shell out some major coin to order one and have it shipped to the U.S. but i like how they do things.

there just might be a lesson for us all found in the way of howies® (even if they are trying to make a buck).

Friday, May 15, 2009

complicated vs. simplified

Skate - Life is Complicated. Sport is Simple from howies on Vimeo.

humans. at least humans in the western world...
we tend to make things so chaotic and confusing and complicated.
we are busy. and for what? so we can make more money and buy more things and waste more time and sit on the couch in front of the television?

i say i want to be free from it all, but do i really? how much am i really willing to give up?
i'm too busy to think about that right now.

but there is a simple way that i secretly yearn for. you yearn for it to, i'd bet.

a few weeks back, my almost 4 year old daughter asked if i wanted to be a part of her 'Resting Club'. i asked her what they do in the 'Resting Club'.
her reply:
"play, read stories, make things, have a snack, rest, play some more, brush our teeth, go to bed."

sign me up.


something tells me God would delight in such behavior from mankind.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

random musings from our stay in the hospital while my wife gave birth to our third child

Aultman Hospital WiFi Hotspot near the cafe on floor 1R

just some thoughts that are unrelated to the fact that our third child, Silas was born this morning @ 9:31am.

I don’t know what it is about Hospitals. I feel safe here - yet also feel as though one could get sick here.
it’s eerily quiet at this moment. i am on the mezzanine level of the Bedford Entrance to the hospital.
Florescent lights shine brighter than the sun.
that sense of falseness makes one need to go outside with quickness.
i’ve been outside for a few moments here and there today and it was so warm. the sun could not be consumed enough. looking out the window, a window that does not open was almost torture. yet i feel interested here. i could work here, just not as a doctor. seeing that i do not like blood. it’s permanent daylight. there are parts of the building that know not night.
the lights do not go out here. ever. the building is never empty. the doors have locks - but i suppose for no real reason.

right now a security guard makes his rounds. Available for help or assistance or there just to provide peace to all.

yet i thought about the service aspect of being a doctor or nurse.
what a career. a career of service. yeah, they get paid. yeah, it’s a job. yeah, yeah, yeah. but their job... the job they chose is to serve others. sick, nasty, gross, infected, diseased, dirty, sweaty, broken people. that is how it feels to be in the hospital, i presume. you don’t come here if you are healthy.
there are now two guys driving floor mopping 3 wheeled carts, indoors, waxing the floor (poetic). i’d say they cruise at speeds up to 8 mph. back and forth they go. men on a mission. in their wax cars. looking for dirt to mop up. or perhaps on an evening drive. top down and all. except indoors. in a climate controlled facility.
they make floors shiny. a raw form of service. making the hospital as pleasant looking as possible. in small ways, that means a lot to those who come here for a visit or for a procedure. peace of mind begins with a shiny floor. i suppose.
how hard it is to serve others. how hard it is to truly be in the mindset from sun up til sun down. paid or not. service is service.
yeah, you can serve with a humble heart and still get paid. every man has a right to making a living in the way he/she sees fit.
that is why plumbers and doctors make good money. cuz who you gonna call in the middle of the night when the toilet is stopped up and your drain pipe is clogged? and where you gonna go when your (internal) pipes are broken? to the only place where you can be fixed.
two amish men just walked past. they seem happy. i wonder what a conversation with them would be like. it appears that they know their needs and their need-nots. they know how to serve and to be served. no pride creeping in, i suppose.
as i waste time while jen and baby are tended to by friendly nurse nicole, i’ll write for a few more minutes and then return to the room.
maybe i’ll just enjoy the silence and think about what it means to truly serve and how that might look in my day to day life.
p.s. i just noticed that my seating arrangement here is right underneath a security camera.
somewhere in the back rooms of this hospital that never sleeps, there is a security guard watching me type about how he serves this place.

day 2: 825pm
analogy: baby in utero - you can feel him move, feel him living within; a deep connection between mother and child that can’t be expressed in words (such a deep connection, many woman go into post-partum depression after baby is birthed), you can know what new life really is all about. you are reformed, reshaped, stretched, tugged at, filled up, uncomfortable, comforted, in love and loved

faith in Jesus (true, relational faith): you can feel him move, feel him deep within. you are connected in a way that can’t be fully expressed with words. you are stretched. your state of being is tugged and pulled and challenged. your heart is reshaped, reformed, filled up, comforted, in love and fully loved.

day 3: 4pm
unwavering trust. (thoughts from jen)
our newborn child. he looks at us expecting his needs to be met. and they are. comfort and care. nourishment, hospitality. warmth.
unwavering trust. do i look to Jesus with the same kind of trust?

it was quiet in the lobby. quiet in the halls. the florescent lights still shine bright. reflecting off of the floor. but quiet. is 4pm normally that still? like a mid day break for all.
there are paintings in the lobby near the cancer center. canvas paintings and mixed art creations of survivors and fighters of cancer. every time i walk by i feel compelled to stop and look. i owe it to them to look. they deserve it. i am moved by art. moved by the stories above each image.
the health care worker deserves much respect. i do not like blood or the sight of blood or internal things or the cutting of skin or shots or getting blood drawn or anything else i may have forgotten. yet, i am drawn to the hospital care worker. giving equal to one and all. equal. that is amazing. i am realistic enough to know that for many or for few it can be, at times, just a job. but i’d have to believe that it takes a special person to work in a hospital.
our latest nurse likes to laugh. the other is freakishly tall. both are pleasant and very helpful.

watching Champions League soccer for the second day, yest. saw Chelsea draw 0-0 with Barcelona. Today, Man U is up 1-0 on Arsenal. [this is leg 1 of the semifinals]

finished A Generous Orthodoxy last nite. i feel good. things are coming together in my mind. now if only i can figure out how to process it all and how to express what is inside me to put to use in practical, everyday life and ministry.

day 4: 9:57am
from an interview with Rob Bell by Christianity Today. April 22, 2009 on their web site.
CT: All well and good, but how is this good news to people with no earthly hope? If I'm dying of aids or cancer, I probably don't give a rip about the renewal of all things. I want to know if my sins are forgiven, and when I die, if am I going to see Jesus or not.

RB: “Yes, and I would say that central to that new creation is the problem with the first creation—death. The Resurrection is about God dealing with the death problem. And central to this giant cosmic hope is a very intimate, yes, you can trust this Jesus. You can trust this new creation. You can trust being with him when you die, when you leave this life, however you want to put it. Yes, there is an intensely personal dimension to this giant story that you and I get to be a part of.”

i love that. “you can trust this Jesus. You can trust this new creation.
one more Rob Bell quote from that interview with CT:
I would say that for 10 years, I have tried to invite people to trust Jesus. You can trust this Jesus. You can trust him past, present, future; sins, mistakes, money, sexuality. I think this Jesus can be trusted.

end transmission. end hospital thoughts.

Monday, April 27, 2009

New Edition

Welcome Silas Andrew to the family!

8lbs 10 oz
20.5 inches

lots of hair

jen and baby Silas are doing fine!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


precursor: a group of 17 youth pastors from 4 different states gathered this week to discuss the state of youth ministry and in particular, the book Youth Ministry 3.0. Check out JoelDaniel's blog for more...

Youth Ministry 3.0: A Manifesto of Where Weve Been, Where We Are & Where We Need to Go Youth Ministry 3.0: A Manifesto of Where Weve Been, Where We Are & Where We Need to Go by Mark Oestreicher

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
An easy read and i would say a must read for anyone in partial or full time youth ministry. i say it's a must read simply because whether you will agree with everything Marko writes, it will cause you to take a step back and think about not only the state of Youth Ministry in general, but your youth ministry.

the first half of the book takes a deeper look at the evolution of youth ministry and the various stages it has gone through. Youth Ministry 2.0 (for much of the 80's, 90's and 00's) has by-and-large been about programs, programs, programs and population. like whoever gets the most kids to show up, wins.

i like the challenging ideas Marko presents.

when programs become more important than relationships, there is a problem.

nothing was intrinsically wrong with YM 1.0 or 2.0, but Marko gives an overview for what 3.0 could look like.... sort of a 'less-is-more' approach where creating experiences for teens to interact with God is key.

i, personally liked the challenge and was encouraged.

i've never been a fan of the 'status-quo' and as a youth worker for 10+ years it is easy to fall into the rut of same-old same-old.

Youth Ministry 3.0 will make you think and hopefully evaluate what Youth Ministry should look like in the 21st Century.

side note: the Notes section at the end of the book are a worthwhile read... don't skip them!

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


i wasted 45 minutes trying to get my printer to print.

it reminded me of two things.
1. i hate pc.
2. time is precious. and i seem to waste a lot of it. it brought on some soul searching.

who knew a printer could bring on such reflection.

by the way, my printer still wont print.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

two years ago

two years.

i'd say pretty much every day i think about it.

times spent together.
the simple moments.
his stories.
his mannerisms.

mostly, i think about questions i never asked him or what he would do in a certain situation.

i'd say that the death of a loved one (friend, family member, parent, etc.) affects people more than anything else in the world.

i hear stories or news reports of older people or celebrities who are celebrating birthdays and if they are older than 70 i think to myself "that isn't fair." my dad lived 70 full years... more than enough. he did so many things. preached Christ. lived a wholesome life... and yet i think, in some ways, that he was cheated out of a few more years.

but i know that just as life happens, death happens.

it dawned on me today... does the death of Jesus affect me as much as the death of my father?

i don't know that i've truly ever understood what Jesus' death on the cross really means. o.k. i know what it means... but i say this because i don't think about it in the same way that i think about the death of my dad... maybe it hasn't become as real as it needs to be.

i need to ponder this some more.

my life has never been and never will be the same again, since that fateful morning two years ago when a heart attack took my dad away in some hotel room in Scranton, PA.

when i stop to think about it, my life has never been and never will be the same again since that fateful afternoon some 2000 years ago when Christ willingly took the pain, punishment and death on the cross so that i may one day live.

the neat thing is that the story of Jesus and his salvation truth was presented to me by my father. for that i am grateful. eternally.

it's weird that it may have taken me two years to correlate the loss of my father to the loss of God's son. that loss means so much more than most Christians could ever imagine.

the memories live on. and everything continues to change.
such is life. what will i make of it?

*i blogged this today sitting in the same office as the picture above. same desk pad and everything. that is probably 20 years old.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

let your light shine

on this dark night before the coming bright sun...

Brightly beams our Father’s mercy from His lighthouse evermore,
But to us He gives the keeping of the lights along the shore.
Let the lower lights be burning! Send a gleam across the wave!
For to us He gives the keeping of the lights along the shore.
[or Some poor struggling, sinking sailor you may rescue, you may save.]

Dark the night of sin has settled, loud the angry billows roar;
Eager eyes are watching, longing, for the lights, along the shore.
Let the lower lights be burning! Send a gleam across the wave!
Eager eyes are watching, longing, for the lights, along the shore.

Trim your feeble lamp, my brother, some poor sailor tempest tossed,
Trying now to make the harbor, in the darkness may be lost.
Let the lower lights be burning! Send a gleam across the wave!
Trying now to make the harbor, some poor sailor may be lost.

written by Philip Bliss
his final hymn: Hallelujah! What a Savior!
before his untimely death.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Communion By Numbers

Communion By Numbers:

is a unique, interactive time to fellowship together, converse together, seek God together and experience the act of Communion in a new way together. We will remember Jesus and his time spent with the disciples during the Last Supper and we will remember the sacrifice He made, once and for all, so that we may live, and experience life to the full (John 10:10).


presented by the youth group

[a recap]

DOWNLOAD A PDF OF THE BULLETIN HANDOUT WITH ALL OF THE COMMUNION BY NUMBERS ACTIVITIES LISTED: communion-by-numbers-bulletin [right click, save as, or click to print]

SET UP: We had 12 round tables with 7 chairs at each table. 75 people attended. Each table group could go through the Communion by Numbers handout with full instructions, at their own pace, pausing after #6, so as to do #7 & #8 with all tables together.
SUPPLIES: each table had enough of the following for each potential person (for us, 7 of each per table): rocks, nails, small black pieces of construction paper, tea light. Also needed: a box of matches per table, various images of Jesus and various markers.

We did this as part of a Maundy-Thursday service prior to Easter. Our youth group helped design the service. I got the idea from Jonny Baker & Grace Pocket Liturgies PDF download from Proost. (also avail. at Lulu.com)

It could be adapted and used at any time of year for any age group.

Come Thou Fount [worship led by Bryan & Robin Kandel/stool, acoustic guitar, microphone]
composed by the 18th century Methodist pastor Robert Robinson

Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount I'm fixed upon it
Mount of thy redeeming love

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by thy help I'm come
And I hope by thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wondering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee
Prone to wander Lord I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above

BEGIN Communion By Numbers [Introduction & Welcome, Corey + Tim]

1. Introduction and Memorable Meal
Go around table, introduce yourself. On a night like this, just a few days before Jesus would sacrifice himself on the Cross for all humanity, he gathered around a table in the Upper Room for what is known as the ‘Last Supper.’ This became a meal that the disciples would not soon forget.
QUESTION: Think of a memorable meal. Families and friends often gather around the table for a time of fellowship. Share with the group a time that was significant and memorable and meal that was shared with loved ones. What made it so special and memorable?

2. Ebenezer
The 2nd verse of Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing mentions raising an Ebenezer.

1 Samuel 7:12-13 reads “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far has the LORD helped us." So the Philistines were subdued and did not invade Israelite territory again.“

Ebenezer literally translates as ‘stone of help’. Samuel built an altar after God had protected the Israelites in a battle against the Philistines.
With the rocks on the table, build an altar together. As you build share a moment in your life when you felt God’s Real, Holy Presence and Divine protection.
May each and every one of us always be blessed by the grace and peace of Jesus Christ through the Ebenezers that God has placed in our lives!

3. Imago Christi (Image of Christ)
Look at the various pictures of Jesus on the table. Choose a favorite. Share why you chose the image you did.
Share what you want to remember about Jesus.

4. Confession
Think of something that has, at times, taken your attention away from God or has distracted you from God.
Focus, for a brief moment on that distraction.
Pray. Ask God to take away that distraction and to restore your connection to God.
Place an ‘X‘ on the piece of construction paper in front of you symbolizing the elimination of that which distracts us and takes us away from experiencing God.

5. Affirmation
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 reads “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Go around the table and take turns affirming the person to your left. This is a time to lift each other up.
If you don’t know the person to your left very well, offer some encouragement.

6. Nail
Not long after Jesus would share the Last Supper with his disciples in the Upper Room, he would hang on a cross in the company of sinners. In the eyes of the people who wanted him to die, he was a sinner. He spoke the truth about love, relationships, the church, the world, God... and people weren’t willing to hear it.
Sometimes we’re not either.
Take a nail and hold it in your hand and reflect on why Jesus sacrificed himself for all mankind. Think about some of the things that Jesus taught us. Maybe love the Lord your God with all your heart, or maybe love your neighbor as yourself. Maybe you’re thinking about the Great Commission: go out into all the world and make disciples. Maybe you’re thinking of the Beatitudes where Jesus says blessed are the poor in Spirit, for there’s is the Kingdom of Heaven. Or maybe it’s another truth he taught...
Reflect as you hold the nail in your hand. Then share with your group if you feel compelled to.


Show Safe Space Easter movie from Proost (i think that is where i got it) [1 min 30 sec]

7. Communion
After the short video clip and Communion prayer, uncover the bread and break it. We will take communion by intinction. Go around the table and serve each other. Take a piece of bread and dip it in the cup.
The Bread represents the body of Christ, broken for you.
The juice represents His blood, shed for you.
So that you may know and remember the sacrifice Jesus made for you, so that you may experience life and life to the full.

8. Light
Jesus Christ is the true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. (John 1:9) He empowers with these words: You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. (Matthew 5:14-15)
Light a candle and be challenged to let your light shine before all men.

Before you exit, come and place your nail at the foot of the cross on the stage. Give thanks to God.

“for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.” (Luke 1:49-50)

Go in peace.

show The Cross.mov on loop from Proost in background as people place nails at foot of cross.

table set up: pictures of Jesus, markers and pieces of black construction paper, bulletin, communion elements, tea light candles, matches, nail, rocks, etc.

nails placed at foot of cross at close of servicenails placed at foot of cross at close of service

ebenezer altar (stone of help)ebenezer altar (stone of help)

light of the worldtea light candles were lit at the end of the service. "you are the light of the world, a city on a hill can not be hidden."
communion elementscommunion elements

youth helpersyouth helpers

Communion By Numbers