Reflections on Little Miss Sunshine.

I loved this movie.  there are som many things I want to say about so I think I will break it into a few posts.  so the first one is about the “little Miss Sunshine” beauty contest.

You show up at a contest because the 1st place person who should be there cancelled and now you the 2nd place person gets to go in her place.  All the other kids are dressed to the nines, have cooler outfits, can sing better, have better hair, better make up, dance better, and look much much better than you ever will.  But you still go on stage and do your thing a dance that looks ridiculous, (more like a strip routine) but you don’t know that.  people walk out because you aren’t playing the same game they are.  you begin to hear boos and cat calls but you continue because you practiced and worked hard.  Your little show goes on long enough that the people that put the show on try and kick you off, they chase you around the stage and try to catch you.. but wait….. your Dad gets up on the stage and instead of making you leave He begins to dance with you.  then the rest of your family joins you and encourages you as you finish your act.  The plastic airbrushed, well kept people are disgusted and angry with you but your Dad is proud.  you tried, gave it your best, and didn’t give up.  this scene in Little miss sunshine defines for me what following Jesus is like.

Most of us try and hide all of our blemishes and stuff under airbrushed religion and well practiced rituals.  And then there is this person who gets on stage and acts like a stripper but gets it.  the routine is goofy at best but it is real, authentic and beautiful.  it makes plastic people feel uncomfortable because it isn’t fake.  I want my faith to be like that.  I want to be someone who has enough courage to dance even when I feel really out of place.  I want to be the kind of discipler/father who jumps up on the stage with my kid and goes crazy with them.

What if the Church gave you permission to be yourself?  What if you didn’t have to pretend anymore?  What if you got so wrapped up in the big Love that the God of the Universe has for you that you forget about the failed relationships, the shattered dreams, the attempted suicide, and the birth defects that keep you out of the club you think you want to belong to?

I want a faith like this, I want to hang out with people like this.  it is messy..  And as I read the Scriptures I   actively see and hear God encourage me in this audacious life of wild abandonment.

damn it feels good to be free and alive in Jesus!


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the precieved wall comes down.

Growing up I heard a lot about how much Jews and Muslims hate each other kinda like Lutherans and Catholics or maybe Protestants and Anabaptist, I heard about how it all started with Issac and Ishmael and I wondered even as a kid, “doesn’t God call us to love each other”.  I read BBC in the morning cause I like it and it gives me a global perspective, but i came across this article that fascinated me.  In attempts not to ruin it for those that are going to click the link below and read it I’ll sum it up.  A Mosque was attacked by a radical group of Jews who burned a carpet and a bunch of Korans and wrote in Hebrew “Mosques, we burn.”  A Prominent Rabbi came to the Mosque and gave the Imam new Korans.  In a media driven world that is saturated with Koran burning pastor, anger against a mosque being built near ground Zero, I found this article interesting.  I am impressed with the Guts that this religious figure in Israel showed,  I am sure that he has been labeled traitor by some, or Liberal by others but I think He is doing something that is deeper and tells more Truth about the God He worships than most I have come to know.  To Love thy neighbor is the greatest call for Christians.  Jesus says the greatest commandment is to Love God and Others, i believe even when we disagree with that person at the core of who they are we are still called to love.   I would love to get some feedback and thoughts about this from my peeps.  If a Rabbi can walk into a Mosque and give the gift of love to a brother then what kind of love are we capable of?

grace and peace

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the movement of the Spirit.

Thanks to my friends Marquetta and Gregg, I have had the blessing of being introduced to Church of the savior in Washington D.C. the pastor there Gordon Cosby, and his right hand lady Elizabeth O’Conner I have been enthralled with a church who has dared to listen to the Spirit.  Gordon seems to be a quiet man with a deep conviction about mission, community, and formation.  before it was cool to be missional, Church of the savior was at work in the down and out areas, and the up and going places in D.C.

As I have been studying at Biblical theological seminary over the past two years we have had many conversations and discussions around different authors, pastors and theologians who have been leading the way in the missional discussion.  All have enriched my life and ministry but upon the discovery of Elizabeth O’Conner’s servant leader, servant structure, what I found was not just another book about missional thought and practice although there is plenty of that in there, but I found the original artifact, a book that doesn’t even know the terms and ideologies that make up missional thought and theology.  this is the guy who started it all(I am sure that there are others) but for me this is their earliest other than Wesley, Barth, and the Salvation Army.  At the height of there size they asked the Spirit to speak into the organization structure, the pull was to add more staff but the Spirit moved elsewhere and God spoke and the church split into smaller churches so that people could be known as they walk in and that people would see community on a deeper level.

One of the phrases that has resonated deep within for me is the phrase “inward and outward.”  Here is what the church is founded on and in my opinion is what all churches need to figure out how to do well.  The church that helps people meet with Jesus through silence, prayer, meditation, journaling, corporate worship and deep community, is one that responds outward to the world.  they look to Christ to give the vision and passion, He becomes the Senior pastor and the church as a whole is on staff with Him.  This inward outward thing has got me thinking in many different directions I find myself thankful that God has shaped my life and ministry this way since I was young and didn’t know anything, now I am older and don’t know anything.  But what I know is that what changes people is Jesus, we need to help get people into close proximity with Him.

Another thing that impresses me about the way this church is set up is the commitment they have for education for the sake of formation.  this what I have had the blessing to experience at Biblical.  I went to seminary and have found myself radically transformed because my education is done as an act of worship and for the purpose of the kingdom of God.  The education process goes on for 2 years for those who are seeking to become members at the church, and from what the book reported most people continue to take courses after they have finished.  the courses range from OT and NT survey, to Ethics, and theology, to call and Mission. again the purpose is not just for the sake of knowledge but knowledge for the sake of mission.

I am not saying that every church needs to do exactly what this church is doing!  but what this book is saying… Engage the Spirit, He will lead us to the places we need to go!  He will give us our mission and He will help us accomplish all that He lays on our hearts so that we can lay it at the feet of Jesus in worship and adoration to the King who is bringing the kingdom and has asked us to announce the kingdom and its Good, and Faithful King.

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monday morning

this morning feels like the end of a long trip.  One more 6 hour trip and we will be home.

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rafting and driving

Today started at 7am.  we woke up and drove to the Occoee rafting place in TN.  as I was driving there I was telling one of the first timers that it is fun and not that dangerous which is true………  then we got in the water, I was in a raft with Chip, Jared, Steve(a guy who joined in last min.) franke, and laura.  great crew, our first rapid was a class 4 called grumpy.  we set off hit the first drop and 5 out of 6 of us were in the water, I come up for air and see Jared, and steve stuck in the hydrolic I look down and see Franke moving at light speed down the next et of falls and Chip and I are holding onto the boat with Laura and our guide pulling us up.  I got in and everything seemed to be going in slow motion, I was shaken up but we weren’t out of trouble, Jared was still stuck in the hydrolic, I watched his head come up and go under 3 to 5 times and thought my brother is going to die, I have never been so scared in my life.  it was crazy, he ended up getting pushed out of the hydrolic and swam down river for 300 yards, (when I say swam what I mean is he got hurled down river at a quick pace.)  our trouble was still deep, we got the raft stuck in the hydrolic and we were surfing, and man it was scary our raft was doing 360’s and water was running fast over the boat and into us.  when we finally got out we had lost 2 people, 3 paddles and had one of Jared’s shoes, he had lost both his shoes, his paddle, and was wiped.  Amazingly he rode out the rest of the trip but was shaken up, the guide said that almost everytime someone goes in there they break a bone or bones. Jared was fortunate and  it was intense.

We caught up later down stream and I asked him what happened.  His first response was I am never going rafting again with you, he blamed it one me because the last time we rafted something similar happened.  He recalled the experienmce and said he was struggling and trying to get out then he remembered to just let the water move him so he relaxed and got free. when he finally got out of the hydrolic he was so wiped out that he couldn’t do anything but let the water take him.  Jared said “that was the scariest thing that ever happened to me, I couldn’t control anything.”  for the person watching I can say that was the scariest thing that I have ever experienced.  watching your best friend almost go down like that puts some huge berspective in my life,  and being a pastor I am going to tie it into spiritual things.

1. we always are called into the river, Jesus calls out and says come experience this adventure.

2. our Guide, or spiritual director who has been down the path before is extremely important in our journey.  We call this our mentors, community, pastors, and friends, Here we can add the word to this as the map that gives us the story to follow

3. Danger, our walks will have spills and thrills, great victory and great defeat but in our defeat we must submit to the river and let it take us, like Christ, we can fight and try and figure it all out on our own or surrender to him and trust that He will take us.

4. our perspective,  after the spill it was tough for the first 30 mins, I was shaking and my heart was racing even the littlest bumps felt bigger then they were.  but after a few nice rapids we were back in the saddle and feeling good again.  sometimes after we fall our courage is weak and we have a hard time seeing past the small things.

Pretty much the rest of the day was uneventful compared to my raftig experience.  so that is all for now

I think this story is going to shape my life for years to come as I think about Jesus and what he has called me to.

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Thursday and Friday.

We ended our day on the job sites with prayer walks, dinner, laughter, hugs, stories, and packing up the vans.  so here is what was accomplished: Living water church, we had over 20 students there and in 4 days,we re-decked and put on a new flat roof, demoed a wall and framed out a new one, ripped out about a 20×14 section of drywall ceiling, and put on new drywall on the ceiling and walls in the place, 2 bathrooms were completed, and trim was put up and almost finished in the sanctuary.

Ophelia’s place (75)ripped up and replaced rotted floor boards, replaced, mudded and sanded rotted drywall, repainted the front porch, and spent time hearing the stories of people taking advantage of her because of her age.

On 12th Ave the team removed a rotted floor, jacked the house up 2 feet, replaced the floor, removed the deck, re framed and reinstalled the deck, removed the ceiling, and paneling in the kitchen and the laundry room.

On 5th st the trim on stairs and bathroom were reinstalled, the kitchen and bedroom had the drywall ripped down and reinstalled. the Kitchen was painted along with the cabinets, ceiling, and a full room at that home.

there were no injuries and our students worked so hard.

they also played hard and enjoyed time hanging out and playing Volleyball, wiffleball, and basketball.

our drive today was great and safe and we will be white water rafting tomorrow morning, then to Christianburg to spend our last night in a hotel.

God has showed up in amazing ways.


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Last night Jesus showed up!  It was incredible, Jared preached about our community, from Exodus 19, a Holy nation, a royal priesthood.  He talked about how we need to be connected to one another and redefined what nation meant for Israel.  Our understanding of Nation means a country with a democracy and army and taxes and a flag.  A nation is a family, people related by God, His chosen people.  It is more like a family that you are born into than a country that you belong to.  so he worked through the importance of living together and landed on the importance in speaking life into one another.  He led us in a love feast and 82 students and leaders hung out and cried as we blessed each other, we looked friends in the eyes and spoke by the Spirit to them into and over their lives.  It was overwhelming!  God was present and there was a sweetness around the room, He was present with us,  I got to look my small group hius in the eyes and individually bless them and speak life to them.  I heard the Spirit speak things to my heart that I got to speak to students and students spoke into my heart.  I have never experienced anything like it before.

Our morning was slow going, our kids were tired but worked really hard, one of our students said “I love building things I think I want to do this for the rest of my life.”  We got to put tools in the hands of students and teach and watch them shine.  Our work is almost done and the memories will last forever.  they have successfully framed out a wall, hung drywall, taped and spackled, painted, rolled out a flat roof, trim work and cleaned carpet, all while laughing, bonding and haveing deep conversations with one another.

We took a break last night and spent the evening at a park and attracted a crowd.  we played wiffle ball 25 vs 25 and about 6 community kids came a played along.  our bases were trees and objects that did not mimc a diamond at all more like a crazy trapezoid.  but our students invited the kids who were watching to join in, this boys were probably 8 at the most, once they learned the names the chanted and cheered for them until they got a hit and each one miraculously hit home runs! it was so cool.

Tonight at chapel we experienced something special, Alyssa is newer to our community that came to us in the fall and has been such a blessing.  Tonight she sang and helped lead worship for the first time, and look out she has got some talent!  2 things that amazed me about watching this, 1. I got to see someone use their gift for their first time, and 2 someone was crazy enough to giver her a shot which brings me to Matt.  Matt is almost 20 and has been a worship leader for ou community this past year and has been leading worship for our week together here in Texas, and he has been stellar.  One of the things that I love about Matt is his heart to develop people, He is truly one of the most gifted worship leaders that I have had the opportunity to work with over the years, two things I admire about Matt, firstly he loves Jesus and is passionate about him, secondly he writes songs that God lays on his heart.  I am thankful for his gift.

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