Monday, December 22, 2008


Psalm seven, verse 1 and 2 pretty much sums up my Christmas shopping experience today...

1 O LORD my God, I take refuge in you;
save and deliver me from all who pursue me,

2 or they will tear me like a lion
and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.

dedicated to my fellow last-minute Christmas shoppers

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Inital steps

I should be sleeping right now.

I have to get up in less than 4 hours to head in to church but I can't stop thinking about the future. I have begun the initial steps toward a new future as a church planter/site pastor at Freedom Valley. The concept is still very new to me, but I can feel God's joy over my willingness to sacrifice my own ambitions for His and that is what I want. His will be done...(Step one)

So, I am going to jump out in the middle of traffic and try my best to get my ducks in a row. I have changed my reading habits. Instead of manuals on melody, pitch and worship I have begun to read leadership books and, planting for idiots manuals! Instead of worship preview cd's I have begun listening to podcasts from well known leadership gurus because I have a lot to learn...and fast.

Most of all, I am looking at the Gospels, because I want to learn to minister like Jesus did during His time in the ancient dust near and around the Galilee. I am reading Acts because I want to begin to think like God's favorite people did. (Step two.)

I am doing these things because I sense that the time is short. Jesus is coming back soon and I want to be found ready. So I have trimmed my lamp, filling it with the oil of intimacy and the result of this intimacy is a keen awareness of the work that must be done. (Step three)

Is it possible that God could raise up another group of disciples in this day that will turn the whole world on it's ear again? We won't know until we offer ourselves up to His crazy ambitions and die to our own.

"Dear God, I am way out of my element here, so it's gotta be you and not me! Help me throw my desires and ambitions on the altar of your passion daily. Make me a better evangelist than singer, a better pastor than musician and let my worship manifest as I open up my mouth to preach the good news! I am yours."

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Painful steps...

Feeling small today.

Worship was incredible and the time we spent in Simply Desperate rocked me to the core.

Hebrews 11 says that "By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead."

God is calling me to offer a better sacrifice. I am in competition with yesterday's sacrifice, not Cain. This morning, I heard Him ask me to drag my desires and dreams up onto the altar, still kicking and wriggling, and slit them from ear to ear. God help me have the faith to yield those things to you!

I surrender all my ambition and dreams to Christ and ask Him to help me to remain focused on His to-do list today. Like Abraham, I know your promises are true but I can't see beyond this sacrifice. I trust you with everything...

Monday, November 17, 2008


Thirty-two sums today up pretty good.

Dedicated to Jay Fitch.


Friday, November 14, 2008

What the heck is that all about, God?!?!

So, it's been nearly a week since our last "Simply Desperate" prayer service where God came in an unusual way. You may have God all figured out, but there are some times when all I can do is look to Heaven and ask, "What the heck is that all about?" That sums up the way I feel about last week's silent treatment...

Let me explain. During prayer last Sunday morning God totally interrupted our nice prayer service and shut things down, in a good way...I think. Music and prayer turned to silence. Twenty minutes of it. Talk about awkward, but also very stirring. I was completely moved, as was most everyone else who was there but I don't think a single one of us can nail down what God did in that extended period of silence. That bugs me.

I want to be on the inside. I want to know why, how, what, when and where. So why is this such a mystery a week later? I think it's because God needs us to understand that there are some things that we'll never get. And so, I resolve to swallow my pride and ask God to do something, ANYTHING in me, whether I get it or not.

I may never understand what happened last Sunday morning, but I do know that I trust His hand in my life. I felt Him rewiring me and softening my heart at a time when I am on edge with Him. He always comes through and shows me that He cares...

...even if I don't get it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Restoring spirituality Pt.1


For some people it conjures up images of new-age crystals, chanting, dark rooms with shady personalities. For others, spirituality is pie-in-the-sky sensationalism with no roots in reality. Is there a Godly path to being truly spiritual? Are we really willing to search God out in places we cannot see clearly? God created us as chiefly spiritual beings, but most of us do not connect with the spiritual element of our being which is as real as the physical element that we can perceive.

Various forms and degrees of spirituality surround us, from ghost stories to faith healing we are daily bombarded with all kinds of spiritual representations. This begs the question, "What should the uniquely Christian perspective on spirituality be, and even more specifically 'American-Christian' perspective on spirituality be?" I say this largely because the American church, has disavowed any knowledge of spiritual things, abandoning spiritual Christians to a "no-man's land" called the fringe. We have often done this in an attempt to appear more appealing to western minds and in the process it has had the opposite effect. Of course, this is a sweeping statement and is not meant to be as sensational as it sounds. It is strange to me though, that every other major religion is hailed for it's exploration of spiritual things while Christian religious thought is relegated to just that; a set of doctrines and beliefs that must be believed in a vacuum of spiritual near misses and uncertainties. Let me give you an example that stands out to me.

I was watching a segment on a news program that was exploring the phenomena of "whirling dervishes". These Muslim men spin in one spot for hours with their eyes closed and their heads tilted to the heavens as a form of prayer. At the end of the segment one commentator remarked at how beautiful and inspiring this form of prayer is, as the rest of her colleagues nodded their approval. It was beautiful and inspiring. That is not the point. My position is that Christianity should be leading the way, but we often hide in the shadows of our theology and doctrinal position papers while other world religions embrace experiential spirituality and thrive because of it. Why are we so ashamed to be spiritual?

My life in the church has always been immersed in spiritual reality, but it seems that we have always had a hard time openly admitting that it is ok to be spiritual. Maybe this is because of our western world sensibilities or age of enlightenment high-mindedness. Maybe it is because we fear reprisals from smug joksters like Jon Stewart or Bill Maher. Or maybe we simply have a hard time describing the deep things that move us beyond words. Spiritual reality is hard to nail down, but I am not suggesting that we try to nail it down, just come to terms with it, breathe a sigh of relief and let belief be belief, and not merely mental acquiescence to a set of doctrines. Can Christians come out of the spiritual closet and really be at home in our own skin?

How does that look, anyway? First of all, there must be a revival in the importance of prayer in the Church at large today. We must push ourselves to spend more time in prayer, individually and corporately. As indivduals, we must live a life in a state of prayer and intercession. Colossians 4:2 says, "Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart." As a church, we should encourage our people to create more opportunities for the faithful to gather together and pray for the world and one another.

Faithful Muslims know how important prayer is. Devoted Buddhists and Hindus commit themselves to a "prayer consciousness" that makes their beliefs central to their existence, shaping who they are and how they relate to the world around them. Can Christians say the same? Does our prayer life bubble over into our everyday lives so that those around us are deeply stirred by the elements that characterize our faith; love, joy, peace and forgiveness. I believe we must first restore prayer to its rightful place in the arsenal of Christian faith. As we do, we will begin to affect those around us with the spiritual energy that should be part of our identity as Christ-followers everyday.


Action Point:
  • Find ways to incorporate more opportunities to pray into your everyday life.
  • Seek out a special prayer service and ask God to meet you there.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Life is good, even when it doesn't feel like it.

I know that faith is not just believing a buch of stuff that is handed to me, but that faith is only faith when my beliefs move me into some kind of action. The truth is that this kind of faith action is rarely a pleasurable fact, I am realizing that the faith Jesus taught was not a "fix-everything-in-your-life" faith, but that the minute you hear God's voice is the last peaceful minute you will ever live. So I resolve to do what I must do with all my heart, confessing that "life is good...even when it doesn't feel like it." I just have to learn to ignore my feelings sometimes...

The Great Oxymoron

I have spent much of my life asking God what He has for me to do. However, what I am discovering is that this question is only answered by daily walking after Him. Letting Him lead every step.

Understanding this and living it out are two completely different things. Most people are only aware that they need to follow Him, but we should not strive to be 'most people.' Our desire should be to get closer to our Savior each and every day. Yet, if you attempt to do this with any amount of success, there is something you should know. This nugget of wisdom is the power of following after God's Son, the Great Servant.

If you were to decide to pursue after Christ today, I would say this to you. "You are chasing after a God who wears a crown of thorns and a crown of glory. You are pursuing the One who carries the Father's mercy in His nail-pierced hands in the form of a wooden cross on His shoulder. Christ celebrated with newlyweds in Canaan and suffered death on a Roman cross. Jesus was a man of sorrows and yet, His true followers know a true joy that becomes the strength of their lives. Yeshua plainly declares that you must be last to be first and that only the life that is given away can be lived more abundantly. The Lamb of God is the Lion of Judah. The mystery of God is made simple in the revelation of His resurrected Son. God is a God of paradox- He is the Great Oxymoron..."

This loving Creator has been know to use donkeys, big fishes, locusts, prophets and a child in a manger to communicate both His love and judgment. Listen to the Child to avoid the locusts.


The Gospel according to Radiohead

As I sit here writing, I am listening to one of my favorite songs from Radiohead. The song is called "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" and every time I hear it I am so completely captivated by the music, lyrics and emotion of the song, that all I can do is close my eyes and soak in the experience. The lyrics are melancholy, mournful and morose and the instrumentation is haunting. It makes me think of other songs and artists who reach deep into the human spirit. People like Bob Dylan, John Coltrane, Beethoven and many others throughout history learned to communicate what was happening in their spirits in such a way that the listener can't help but be sucked into the present confusion or elation of the composer. Emotion, fear, loss, peace and joy can be experienced in a musical mural that bypasses our thought processes and permeates deep into our souls.

I used to dismiss the idea that all music was accompanied by spiritual energy, but I can't take that stance with any conviction anymore. I do believe that some music is composed under the influence of evil, holy or animistic spiritual forces and that the artist is a conduit for these powers. I have experienced all of the above and I find that I would much rather submit myself to Godly influence in music based on my understanding of the power of notes, rhythm, melody and lyrics. I can experience primal emotions through the music of those who take a neutral, animistic approach to songwriting with little negative effect or loss of conscience. However, I find that music that is inspired by anger, confusion or hate often creates what I call, "a dirty spirit" in me.

How I pray that Jesus followers would learn to let the Holy Spirit permeate their music to the point that the listener cannot help but embrace the truth, love and power of the Gospel. This IS the music of Heaven, the song of the redeemed...really. Radiohead gets it (sort of), why wouldn't God raise up musicians who are so compelled and surrendered to this great gospel that they compel others to embrace the cross and all that Christ is.

God, raise up a new generation of hymnists, songwriters and composers that will cancel the enemy's hold on the music of today and create a new breed of holy minstrels for Your glory!


Saturday, November 8, 2008

"Awaken" and 72 hours of knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door

The last two days have been furious, fierce and very powerful in my life. On Thursday, I went with Gerry, Marvin and Jason to Pittsburgh for a time of reflection, planning and seeking God's heart for our church, Freedom Valley Worship Center. God met me in a very unique way through Johannes Amritzer (God often uses him this way in my life). I am challenged to reach deeper and draw out humility that hasn't even been used yet when I see his example. Time in worship renewed my heart and the message on the Holy Spirit's role in the Book of Acts peeled away layers of callous religiosity and lit me up on the inside again.

The drive up and back was full of vision, laughter and close calls with the cops (Yes, I was driving. Lord, help me be a better driver :) I sometimes wonder what I am doing in the midst of great men like Gerry, Marvin and Jason, but I am challenged again and again to stretch my faith when I am around them and I am honored to be allowed in such great company.

Which brings me to today. On the heels of this trip, I was swept into our 24 hour prayer vigil and have been there since, (with the exception of a quick trip home to see Cori and the kids). So here I am in hour twenty-one with a heart full of God and a desire for more vision, humility and faith than I have ever known.

Sleep will come eventually, but I know that God is moving even as I sleep. I am filled with anticipation as I think of the great plan of God for us in Gettysburg. God help us to rise up in faith and awaken our hearts. To be aware of the enemy's movements and to stand firm in the face of adversity because it will come. Holy Spirit, you are my Paraclete and I need you to be with me in the coming days, months and years!