Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Whaddya Do With This?

For several weeks and on a few occasions, I have been observing a little girl in our neighborhood who has seen to make herself available to our front yard and, well....just help herself.

She's not doing anything that I can see that's destructive or suspicious, insofar as a fourth or fifth-grader can do. She's just.....hanging out. She doesn't say anything or engage in any other kind of behavior other than really loiter, I guess.

Jason saw her sitting in our driveway while we were away one time recently. She was drawing with that outdoor concrete chalk. The next time I noticed her, Jason and I were in the front yard, observing my mulberry tree. We both looked and saw her sitting in the yard, kind of straddling the curb and scooping back into the road piles of my freshly mown grass that I taken care to take OFF of the road. She was completely oblivious to us until she got up and started nonchalantly walking down the road. I thought for sure she glanced back at us and cut a wry smile as she strolled down the road as if her job was done.

So today, I am coming home from the weight room and I notice her walking on the sidewalk past my driveway as I am pulling in. I park in the drive and she proceeds to walk into our yard and plant herself under our plum tree as if on an leisurely stroll in the park. She did not even look at me as if to "ask" if it were normal comportment to just hang out in a stranger's yard. I made it a point to look at her to see if I could make eye contact, but no go.

I didn't sense any imminent threat so I went on in. She sat there for about the next ten minutes, just long enough for Jason and Andrea to walk by. Jason knew who she was and they tried to say "hello." All she could muster was a bland stare at them, devoid of any vocalizations. I figured as much.

I did get this picture of her just to make sure she wasn't a ghost. Well, not really for that reason, but this little mystery girl has piqued my interest here and, although, such behavior might be the norm in more urban environments, it's not so much in suburbia. And I don't know what it is about our place that keeps drawing her here, but I have not ever seen her doing this in anyone else's yard. Just ours.

I'll keep you posted to see if I make contact with her.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Jen Leonard is blessing our presence here at 1361 Dana in O-town for the next day or so. That's totally some pretty sweet awesomeness.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Back here in good ol' oihO. And it is a treat to be home. Every time I am away, I invigorated into newer, fresher places of heart for our work here.

Well, to get this out of the way, the flights were fun. A one-hour, ten-minute ground stoppage on the runway in Dayton on my 737 was luscious. Of course I was monitoring the Chicago radar every fifteen minutes, but stopped short of offering my fellow passengers weather updates for fear of not being able to stop myself.

When we did finally get up and make our approach into O'Hare, the pilot was doing some pretty cool maneuvers that I wasn't sure I wanted to see a 737 make, like dips, dives and pull-ups over convective towers, like in the pic I snapped below.

I didn't know at the time, but one of our team members was in Detroit on his plane ready for departure when they discovered a mechanical problem with the fuel line or something. They performed a repair and did a taxi down the runway. I suppose as they were doing so, there was an even greater malfunction and fuel was being sprayed all over the plane. Yikes. No, make that a double yikes. Obviously that flight was canceled and,unfortunately, he didn't get to join us.

Coming back I got to fly in a Fairchild 328, which is Midwest's regional jet. I was scheduled for a United flight from Milwaukee to O'Hare then to Dayton on a 737. But guess who had a ground stoppage when I got to the airport in Milwaukee? They offered me a non-stop on Midwest to Dayton, which I took. You know that when you go up in gate letters and numbers you are getting a rinky-dinkier aircraft. So I got to gate D-52 and out the window there were nothing but turbo-propped "crop dusters" which I knew they weren't about to fly to Dayton, but I had to make sure. And I did. For the next 1.5 hours, I saw one Fairchild after the other land, deplane and take off again. These little boogers looked like mini-cargo planes and I immediately began to wonder how it would handle the turbulence we were about to get into.

It got a bit bumpy going up because the winds were gusting up to 30mph that day. But coming into Dayton felt like a riding with a drunk on a Rock-O-Plane at a gypsy carnival. I suppose a larger craft could have absorbed some of the bumps better but even as buffetted as we were, the crew did a good job landing.

The trip to Wisconsin was quite fruitful. We(our task force) have been compiling our findings from the past several months into some presentable material for our churches and their leaders. We have been receiving feedback from both groups and incorporating it into our material.

We started out with at least a premise that people in North America are largely unreached for Jesus and we aren't doing a very good job at ameliorating the problem. Intially, we were going to identify the barriers in our churches that kept non-professional ministers, (i.e., "lay" persons...regular church folk) from doing the Kingdom work they can and should be about, but have been kept back because of leader insecurity and just plain ignorance.

That is built upon the idea that soley relying on professional, trained church planters- the deployment of which are ridiculously resouce heavy- hasn't cut it. In that vein, we thought we were going to identify ways we could empower "lay" persons (we even have difficulties with the baggage associated with that word) to see that they could engage in planting in ways that- perhaps by perception- were reserved only for professional minister-types.

Well, now we are reasonably sure that the true spirit of what we think God is about in this is not to get people to "start" churches, per se, as much as it is about people being relationally available, persistent and connected to what God wants them to do in their own neighborhoods. When that happens, churches are often born in many kinds of forms that please God. That SBaptists have always taken the Commissioning in Matthew 28: 19, 20 to heart is not novel. More revolutionary in SBC life is that the goal necessarily isn't to pump out churches, but to create simple, redemptive communities where the spread of God's Kingdom is possible. This implies a radically new approach to disciple-making for some, if not many.

Not revolutionary for most of you, I know, but there is a groundswell amongst the everyday Christ follower in SBC churches that we are finding are longing to be released to do this and be free from programmatic/unnatural/inorganic approaches to impacting our neighbors for Christ. To be sure, there are deep pockets of control that factor into this being a bona fide release and empowerment.

But I think when people are free enough to realize their place and identity, God may move amongst us like we've not seen in ages, and in a way that isn't solely to save denominational face or feather the beds of our deep-seeded control issues. It will be something in which God alone can truly be glorified.

This much we knew from our first gathering in Orlando last October, when opening our journey together in a time of prayer, we were pretty literally driven to our knees- our little hotel conference room being filled with God's presence in a powerfully humbling way. It seemed God was telling us that if we were serious about what we were setting out to do, he would be the one to be glorified. I'll not forget that visitation of the Spirit upon us that day. We have a chance here. I know.

I hope.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Stuff You Just Hafta Blog About

God still loves the 'burbs. I love it when he uses the whole creation to show us.

I'm at the Lutheran church tonight at about dusk cleaning windows. It is beginning to get dark enough just to make out the crescent disk of the moon and Venus which happen to be in conjunction tonight. I had known that, but forgot.

I wasn't done with the windows, but there was an inner urgency to get home and get my scope out. And not just get it out, mind you, but something told me I had to get out on my sidewalk just in case I would encounter anyone. Ordinarily, it ain't no big thing that I yank out my scope, but just as I was ready to dismiss the idea and wonder what I would do instead when I got home, I could find the only other thing I was leaning toward was walking up and down Dana Drive and maybe praying. I think God was telling me sumpin'.

I get home, set up and begin viewing the moon and Venus with Cathy, which were both visible in my 25mm eyepiece. That doesn't happen a whole lot. Just then, a lady on her bike with dog in tow, slowed to a stop at my drive. I had seen her before, but had never talked with her.

She asked if there were an "event" going on. I told her about the conjunction and asked her if she'd like to look. She was all for that. I proceeded to take her on a tour of Venus, the moon, and Saturn. She was ecstatic and almost got her shy roomie to come out.

Turns out, Maria's a recent grad of Miami and a botanist who's been working with plant experiments with the shuttle, which includes prep studies for future Mars missions. She had also thought about being an astronaut (and was maybe being "tapped" to become one) because of her small frame, but the one-in-ten fatality ratio of the job made her think otherwise. How freekin' cool is that? She's currently a research assistant at the University of Cincinnati. But, lo and behold, she loves Oxford and wants to stay here (and mentioned she's willing to drive the hour just to stay here). That in and of itself is an anomaly.

She asked what we did, and I told her I was (gulp) a pastor with a lil' house church. She proceeded to share that she had become a Christian while living in the Northeast. And ever since she had been in Oxford, she had never connected to any community of faith.

Big open door here. Yeah, we took it, because this was a divine set-up.

We traded numbers and she said she'd be here Sunday for our gathering. I hate I have to be gone, but she's in great hands. And what a cool person. We can't wait to get to know her more.

Pray that God helps us to meet a need and possibly embody the kind of community she's looking for.

You see how God ties up things together for his purposes? If God can take our second planet from the Sun and our only satellite, combine it with my nerdy love of the cosmos with a thread of thinking on Kingdom stuff, he can do the same in your life if you're open. And I know, this is old hat for a lot of you out there and is pretty simple, but still cool nonetheless.

If anything, we have a new friend and know how to pray for her. So yeah, another reason why we are here on Dana.

Off To Madison, WI...

Hitting the skies yet again for what is going to be the last leg of my stint with the North American Mission Board's Task Force on Lay Church Planting, which began last October. Altogether, I think my total flights since then have racked up to about 14 or 15, which, if you know me, is 14 or 15 more than I like.

I've really been impressed with the the passion and depth of the people I have served with on this team. It has totally reminded me why being connected to a larger family of believers is so important. Seeing that God is faithful to building his Kingdom no matter where it is we go and to whomever we talk, I'm just glad to be journeying with these people on a larger basis and for all my pipples in the 'Nati and the Oxford area.

Talk back at you Wednesday...

Thursday, May 17, 2007


We are going to open our house for prayer on Thursday mornings now from 6-8am for our community and anyone else who'll come. We are figuring prayer is a good thing to do together.

You know if something is requiring my presence this early in the morning, it has to be God. For the LOVE OF GOD!!!!


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Veritas 2007 Spring

Pic By The Kimminator

....is history. Much thanks to the Convent at Vineyard Central for their tremendous hospitality. It simply gave us the room and space to go to some places we were needing to go as a church.

For some time, I've felt --(and now see many others do as well)-- that we've been at a threshold of sorts for our community. We came together for an overnight retreat to pray, worship, evaluate and dream for things to come. It had indeed been awhile since we had done so.

We had eight of us there and I was frankly amazed at what was already on everyone's heart. It was the kind of situation where you open your mouth to share what's been stoking your heart and what it is you're dreaming of and people say stuff like:
"That's what I've been thinking about too!!" There was a bunch of that happening in our short time together. I just didn't really realize how pregnant this "thing" was, though there's still some gestation to occur.

There seemed to be quite a consensus on a couple of things.

  • We're getting pretty serious about the next phase for Veritas, which stands to be rather enduring.
  • ...serious enough to enter into a concerted season of prayer not quite like anything we're used to
  • It is definitely going to involve some intentional, missional communities.
These communities will be missional because we're stumped by the immense need and darkness surrounding us. And because we ain't got nowhere else to go except to Jesus and He just loves on us and then turns us back out and sends hurting people our way.

We are now convicted of this: the kind of work that we feel like we're being called to can really only flow from and be sustained by
disciplined, embedded communities. We'd eventually love to see them on several fronts here in Oxford and the surrounding area.

Coming back into Oxford this evening, I felt a renewed sense of calling to this place and to these people and overjoyed that I get to be with the people who are around me who are looking to see similar things. That is stupendously overjoying.

We are really in the beginning stages of conversation about this and some other things, which I'll go into a bit later. There's no timing on anything, just words and possibilities to fit a passion and a longing. We talked of things to come with fervor and with tears and I can't tell you how much I've needed to see this.

We're having to let go of some things, some for clear reasons and others for-- well, I couldn't even begin to tell you why. It's just part of the sacrifice I suppose.

The invigorating thing is we've turned the corner for sure because it doesn't feel like we're still high-banking in preparation like we have been. There's the issue of timing, but when that's borne and he gives the green light, it's mostly just pedal to the metal from there

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Since It's Severe Weather Season....

Lightning is a main killer in storms, and this guy is pretty doggone lucky he wasn't part of the main channel that made the connection from the ground to the stepped leader from the cloud base.

Note the plasma discharge from the metal on his bike where his hand is placed.....the charge obviously worked it's way up his kickstand, deployed beneath him on the other side of the bike. You can also hear what appears to be a door alarm tripped possibly by the strike.

WARNING: Some rough language.....but hey, tha dude bout got 30,000 AMPS and 300,000,000 volts.