Monday, July 25, 2011

preaching in AZ

Long weekend ended yesterday with a drive two hours north with my good friends Cal and Lisa Jernigan to spend some time in the North Az mountains. We sat last night on a deck looking at desert mountains as a storm blew in. The lightning and thunder were incredible and the conversation with good friends was enriching. Every once in a while you get to sit with people who do what you do and understand your challenges and life and struggles and joys without even having to say a word. What a great blessing. I spent the weekend preaching for Cal at four of their nine services in four campuses. the rest of them saw video of me preaching which was recorded on Saturday night. I love this congregation...they are doing such good stuff for Jesus (CCCEVonline). Well, today I started working on my sermon for Sunday and longing for home. But a few more days in the mountain before I get back to Normal.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


well at times my life and my house could be described by this word that I don't even think is real...but yesterday Sara and I went to a real zoo. Yeah...I know I have a reputation for not liking animals...untrue. I like animals just not a big fan (personally) of pets. You are at liberty to have all the critters you want in your house to shed, do their business on the carpet, need walking in 10 degree weather, etc... Just not for me. But a zoo..I'm o.k. with (all right, by o.k. I mean that there's probably not a chance I'd go without sara really wanting to and probably someday with grandkids). Anyway, I am amazed at God's incredible creations. Here are some impressions:

*The lion is the king of the jungle for a reason. He looks like he's in charge and while we were there, he roared and that was impressive (yes I've heard a lion roar before, but I'm just saying...). I see God's strength here....Jesus lion of Judah... I get it!
*Dolphins are amazing (especially when they put on a half hour show in a dome with air conditioning when It's 100 plus heat index). But dolphins are unbelievably athletic I see God's playfulness in them.
*baboons are weird...eating bugs off of their babies...but I see a mother's care and serving one another and God's caring for us in small ways too.
*jelly fish in a tank with ultraviolet lights (or some kind of blue light) are amazing. They are really beautiful as they change shapes and float around. What kind of creativity does our God have?
*Rhinos are tough. The tough skin and the big horn...they just look like they will run you over. Again God's incredible creativity.
*Snakes - can you say Satan? They are slimy and scary and I don't care if they are poisonous or not, I don't want to be around them. I don't like them in cages (or in a room full of cages with lots of snakes). No I don't want to feel one! Hate them like Indiana Jones. I have biblical reason not to like them...hello?! Genesis three. No thanks on the snake exhibits.
*Giraffes....were not out because it was too hot or something...I mean think about it, if they got a sunburn on their neck that would be bad! I really like giraffes and I think they should have made more of an effort. Anyway, I see God's variety in them...though i didn't see it yesterday.
*polar bears are really beautiful creatures (again they were out on a 100 degree day and they are from the North Pole! what's up giraffes?). They are just really pure in their appearance...they look huggable, but don't try that.
*wild dogs. Yeah they had a cage with wild dogs. Kinda weird, but I guess they are a real wild animal....looked more like a hyena to me. Anyway, I have friends with wild dogs...they're called pets!

well, those are the thoughts from my simple brain. No animals were injured in the writing of this blog...just in case you were wondering!

Monday, July 18, 2011

three cool things

I'm still vacating and really starting to miss home and Eastview and all the people I love there...but i know this rest is essential for what lies ahead this fall. So, here are three things worth mentioning from the past couple of days:
1. Went for a long run on Friday morning (got up at 5:30 - yeah some vacation schedule...but wanted to beat the heat) when I ran down this canal walk, at one end there were hundreds of people sitting in lawn chairs (it was still dark...and I wondered why they were there so early). Well, a couple of hours later when I returned (around mile 14) I could hear music. This week was the Indiana Black Expo and there was an African American choir just getting' on it! I was energized as they praised God with great gospel singing. As I entered the area I had previously, there were thousands of people in lawn chairs..some were singing, some were dancing...and chills ran up and down my spine as i ran through the gospel service with hundreds of other walker/runners. It was so cool. Literally carried me along by the spirit. I just smiled and praised God for this pick-me-up at the end of a long run!
2. Sat with my oldest son at dinner Saturday night and had real adult conversation. He is doing so well these days as he continues to find his way with God and life. For a moment, I caught myself thinking this is like having a conversation with a good friend...that was a true blessing. Then he said something stupid and i became dad again (just kidding....kinda).
3. Went to the Reds/Cardinals game in Cincinnati Sunday afternoon and they won (hey God loves red...hello! - blood of sacrifice). Anyway, it wasn't the winning it was the memories of my dad taking me from Indy to Cincy for ball games when I was a kid. Oh yeah, they have skyline chili dogs. If you've never had one...I just can't explain it. Plus what's not to like about anyplace you can eat peanuts and then throw the shells on the floor.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

ten things

well, I don't know if any one is reading this (or if it's even interesting) but this a list of things I've done over the past few days that equal vacation:
1. Went to a minor league baseball game.
2. Sat by a pool and pondered life while connecting with my inner Charles Spurgeon
3. Began Fyodor Dostoevsky's "The Idiot" (no, it's not about me)
4. went to a local gym to watch a pro-am basketball league...saw two NBA players - for FREE
5. Run daily along a river front (yes I actually enjoy this though I broke my vacation rule...set the alarm to get today's run over with)
6. Read the morning paper with starbucks in hand at a local park (saw the brightest red cardinal I've ever seen and some black bird with bright red and yellow wing markings - who knew, I'm a bird watcher).
7. Read through half of Genesis (noting altars, covenants, journeys, and relationships - I smell a sermon series)
8. Talked with both of my boys on the phone
9. written a chapter and a half of a book I hope you'll soon see.
10. A couple of quiet walks with Sara.

What up next? Who knows...maybe golf a show at a local for a nap...yes a nap at 10:09 a.m.!

Monday, July 11, 2011

preacher vacation

Well, I'm officially on vacation...starting yesterday. What does a pastor do on vacation...well I'll try to give you some insight into this without ruining my vacation :-) For starters, on vacation a preacher enjoys to going to a church that he is not the leader of (this is sort of true, since I always wish I was preaching!). Yesterday, Sara and I went to a stereotypically cool downtown church and were warmly greeted. They had coffee and bistro tables in their worship room in an old theatre. It was good to see how this church of 150 do things....I'm reminded how big and diverse the kingdom is..and I missed Eastview.

On vacation, this preacher also tries not to have a schedule. I spend my life scheduled to the hilt, literally getting on my calendar may take weeks and I'm usually up by 5:00 and go from meeting to meeting, from appointment to appointment, from study to study. Well, on vacation my rule is, no alarm and no advanced planning (within reason). So, I don't know what I'm going to do today. I'm blogging right now, because I felt like it. This leads to another for my time away. No decisions. My job requirers literally hundreds of decision every week. Some are easy because I've been in ministry so long that it's instinctive. Some are excruciatingly difficult...I lose sleep over them and pray about them. So on vacation only decisions like: Pool today? Steak for supper? Nap or read...or both? I am tempted to check my e-mails and stuff, but I'll try not to.

My goal is to hear God's voice in a broader be filled with his word...I'm reading through Genesis for an upcoming sermon series (I heard nine sermons last week at the NACC!). My goal is to rest. I'm tired physically and I hope I'll come back refreshed for what God is doing at our church this Fall. My goal is to be quiet. Pastors talk a I'm committed to staring at squirrels in the park to go days without t.v. To invite God to invade my soul and say what he wants. My goal is to several books with me. My goal is to write. I have two books I'm working on and this will give me a real chance to give them a shot. well, I would write more but I'm on vacation and I don't feel like it...

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th reflections

Heading to Cincinnatti today for the town for a convention this week...more on this in a minute. Anyway, thinking back on those fourth of July's past. I remember it was cool to blow things up. Back in the 1900's we had these things called M80's. Little sticks of dynamite that could overturn a Tonka Truck and take a Barbie's arm clean off (yes...I did that). We also had real fire crackers...don't find them much any we're stuck with smoke bombs and sparklers and those come covered with warnings. Also remember flags flying everywhere. I like the American flag...reminds me of how blessed I am to have been born and to live in the USA. While we're at it, i remember countless 4th hotdogs (is there anything more American) which just seem to taste better on this day...there was an occasional parade, and swimming (or hoses in the back yard for us more ghetto inclined - I actually prefer running through the sprinkler). Of course, the day ended in some park in Indy watching fireworks with about 4,000 strangers and patriotic music. I don't think we have another day when Americans seem more unified...even had some homeless guys wish me "happy fourth of July" on my run this morning.

Well, Sara, Caleb and I are heading to the North American Christian Convention in downtown Cincinnatti. What is this? well, our church is not a denomination, but a loosely affiliated "movement" sometimes called the "stone/campbell movement" - mostly "Christian churches and Churches of Christ". Anyway, for about 60-70 years there is this annual gathering of all these churches where these Christ-followers from all over the country and from this background come (I'd expect about 5,000 to attend). We'll spend the week listening to great preaching (usually four main sessions a day and this year's theme is the book of Acts - go figure). There are also workshops on various ministry topics (literally hundreds of them) and then a variety of meetings and appointments that I'll take in. But it's really reconnecting with old ministry friends - sometimes people you haven't seen in years that makes this thing special for me. It's a very spiritually uplifting time for me. I would guess that in my 46 years, I've been to about 20 of these things (my first one was in Dallas when I was six - which is where this Indy boy became a Cowboys fan! My favorite one was Indianapolis in 1994 where I got to preach to the teen session of the convention and over 3,500 students. All my family and homeboys and girls were there (and yes, I realize Homeboys as an expression is outdated)

So I'm up for some fireworks over the river tonight in Cincy and some fireworks of the Spirit during the week.