Tuesday, May 23, 2006


I've learned something this week ... I'm co-dependent on a lot of people. We have some of the best friends in the world (some of whom are undeniably pictured above). The past week has been a whirlwind of activity at our new house. We've cleaned, painted, put down new flooring, and a lot of other stuff. The bottom line is that we couldn't have done it on our own. There's no way. The other thing is that we didn't ask anybody for help. It just came, and it was and is one of the most beautiful things I've ever experienced. On top of that, our 24 date friends put off watching the 2 hour season finale until we could watch it together. Who does that? Who helps paint until 2:30 in the morning ... and then again until 1:15 in the morning two days later. Who stays until 2am putting in floor? What kind of crazies am I surrounded by? I'm really not sure the answer to the last question. All I know is that the love of God has been on display through many beautiful people in our lives.

Thank you for those who have helped, who are going to watch Jake, who are going to clean, who are coming to help move stuff, who put off watching 24, and who have patiently allowed your spouse to be apart of any of these things. The sacrifice you've made is humbling and a wonderful overflow of the joy of the Lord. May the Lord bless your commitment to being great friends. Holly and I love you and appreciate you more than you know.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Sleepless in Seattle... and San Marcos...

While this does sound like the title of a girl's blog, in my defense I've never watched the movie ... well at least the whole thing. It's true. That's Holly and I at the original Starbucks in Seattle. Coffee was more of a requirement than a luxury last week for us as we spent most of the week, well, sleepless.

Once or twice a year I get wind of a conference that I'd actually like to go to. Most of the ones have to do with topical church things that I frankly could care less about. The Reform and Resurge conference hosted by Mars Hill Church was appealing to me. The pastor is Mark Driscoll, and he's a controversial, outspoken leader who recklessly and faithfully pursues the fullness of God. While I don't agree with everthing he says, I have been very sharpened and influenced by his work and research. What set this conference apart is that it focused on theology more than ideology. In other words not the how to, but more of the why to. And pardon the Sunday School answer, but it was a lot about Jesus.

I told my staff about the conference in December or January and told them I thought we should go, but that I couldn't garuntee that the church would be able to pay their way. Quickly we decided that we would trust God to provide for us to go which included paying our own way if we had to. We also decided to invite our wives along. The most unappreciated role in the world is that of a pastoral staff's wife. Every day our wives willingly sacrifice us to the common good of the church and everyone else. Every day our wives suffer more activity from the devil himself than anyone else. Every day our wives hurt when we hurt and are mother and nurturer to not only our kids, but to the church. Every day, our wives are the strength behind our ministry. They are rarely thanked even though they are more than major players in all of the ministries we are involved in. Because they end up being so involved, it was great for them to be involved in the training that we received. Because we received a generous donation from one of our partner's employers, we were able to pick up the tab for the entire team to go to Seattle.

We spent 16 hour days listening, learning, crying, laughing, worshiping, praying, thinking, planning, processing, and meeting together. It was intense. It was more Jesus than I ever expected, and my life will never be the same. We did work in some sites, but more than that God actually awoken parts of me in the midst of my sleeplessness.

I feel my sleeplessness in Seattle is actually giving way to sleeplessness in San Marcos. God used a week in the most beautiful city I've ever seen to refresh and refocus my heart. He reminded me of why we came to San Marcos. We came to reach a lost college campus, to redeem the city, the make an impact, to make a difference, to be a church that would be missed if the doors closed. That's why we came. I have to confess in my own life that what has actually gottten sleepy is my personal vision and pursuit of those goals. Meeting new people, building new relationships, prayerwalking, and serving my community has given way to maintaining a church, leading a staff, having a bunch of meetings, and surviving the weekly worship grind. That simply will not due any longer. It's time to do what we came here to do, by the grace of God.

If you're a River Stoner reading this, I pray that God would grant you your own personal sleeplessness for San Marcos. I pray that we would start dreaming dreams, having visions, and being the Resurgence that God has called us to be in our community.

Now, that's just a glimpse of what happened, and to be frank. I'm tired and going to bed.

Blessings to you. God Bless.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Big Daddy Ibex

Please forgive my gap between blogs. I've been meaning to get this one down for a while, but I think it's worth the wait. Last week I actually took a day off - it was wierd - I admit - and took my family to the zoo. Jacob had been talking about it for a week, and it was part of his reward for his continued progress in peepeeing in the potty. Anyway, it's been a while since I've been to the zoo, and we had a great time. Like all zoos, the smell was atrocious, but it didn't prevent us from standing in awe and wonder of the detail and majesty our creator put on display in each and every animal. Every one unique, specifically adapted, colorful, inspiring, scary ... it's all there. So, we walked around, saw everything, and were about to leave when we stumbled on to something amazing ... the IBEX exhibit. At first glance an Ibex looks like a cross between a goat and a deer - crazy looking little things. As we were approaching them, a zookeeper said if you look closely, one has just given birth. Sure enough, less than 5 minutes before we got there a baby Ibex had been born. You can see him there in the picture. Momma was still down from the birthing experience, and when we got there there was no Daddy in sight. Within a few minutes, Momma had licked the baby clean. Within another few minutes he was trying to stand up. He's not even ten minutes old, and he's standing up - amazing. I was impressed. Then I was scared. I was scared because Momma decided she wanted to give birth up on a cliff. As this baby Ibex was stumbling around for the first time, he was making his way very close to the edge of the cliff. There was no way his tiny body would survive a fall of that magnitude. I found myself getting mad. I couldn't believe that this precious Ibex 10 minutes old was going to come crashing down to a horrible death. Worse than that, Momma was unable to help because she was unable to move yet. I couldn't watch anymore. I'm serious. I turned my head because I didn't want to watch. Then out of nowhere, Daddy Ibex lept up the cliff and nudged the Baby up to safety. What I didn't see, that I see in this picture is that it looks like Momma was crying out, and then Daddy came through. After he saved the baby, he never got far enough away that he couldn't quickly come through for the baby.

It just made me think about God coming through for me - saving the day, making a way for me to be safe - in Him. Sometimes I venture out too close to the edge, and He's always nudging me back to where He knows I need to be. It also inspired me as a Dad to give my son freedom to explore, but to always be there to keep him safe - to never be so far away that I can't come through for Him.

That's what I learned from the zoo.