Thursday, April 29, 2004


i'm sure i've mentioned my love of pc gaming. if not, let me mention it: i love pc games. i started playing a really enjoyable and challenging new game this week. it's called TOCA: The Ultimate Driving Simulator. so far i've spent most of my time spinning out, but i'll get the hang of it...i hope. i enjoy driving and cars as much as any guy, but i feel like a complete neophyte in this town of milan. most of the guys in the high school small group i led are genius mechanics and know everything there is to know about tractors, cars, trucks, gear ratios, nitro, turbocharging, etc. i've got the highest admiration for them; i think they know cars better than i know the bible. NASCAR is huge around here, too. there's a guy in the church who was part of the penske pit crew team. every restaraunt has got pictures of dale jr. or jeff gordon plastered on the walls. sometimes i wonder if my ignorance of the auto subculture limits my effectiveness at communicating the gospel in this community. maybe playing this simulator will help me learn the appeal of the country's fastest growing sport. i know it's not NASCAR, but it's in the same genre (at least, as far as i know...).

Now if I could only find a guitar simulator...

Friday, April 23, 2004

tales from the briar patch

i found a cool blog called "Tales from the Briar Patch". this post caught my attention:

I've started listening to worship music again...

For a long time I quit listening to worship music. Part of it was due to my own sense of disconnect and part of it was the increasing commercialization of VMI under the auspices of BMG (if it works let's find the formula and run it into the ground). And then several months ago several things happened to shift my thinking.

The Vineyard shifted control of Vineyard music from under the auspices of BMG and back to the church.

Their motto is: By the church, for the church....That resonates with me.

Heres the other thing that got me jazzed.

They gave away over fifty thousand dollars worth of music to Prison Fellowship and as a result the folks at prison fellowship are starting to incorporate worship into their ministry...awesome!

So I started listening to worship music again.

The bonus has been a marked increase in my ability to hear the Spirit's voice once again and a growing sense of clarity about what I'm called to do.

I really like what is happening in the Vineyard generally. There seems to be more of a responsiveness to pastors and an openness to change.

I like the fact that we have guys like Lance Pittluck, Rich Nathan, Bert Waggoner, Don Williams, and others involved in our direction. I like the fact that the Vineyard is steered by pastors trying to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and not by professional administrators.

I like the fact that these same pastors are continually growing churches and mentoring new pastors, the fruit of that is that, statistically the Vineyard as a movement is growing younger instead of older.

And ultimately that gives me hope for those of us in the Southeast that struggle to plant kingdom oriented churches in the Bible Belt.

amen. good stuff.

Monday, April 19, 2004


had the privilege of attending an adoption hearing today. what an awesome thing to witness. the judge was great - funny, serious, encouraging...loving, even. you could tell he felt the weight of his authority, and also felt the joy of making a decision that would forever change a young man's life for the good. plus, it was great to see the support and love that surrounded the family.

in many ways, it was like a birth, but without the ugly hospital gowns and physical exhaustion. i have a feeling the emotional exhaustion was even higher, though, what with a several year long labor, and the child conscious of the whole event as well as the parents.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

spring cleaning

it felt surpisingly satisfying to make major headway in re-arranging the offices at the church over the last couple of days. cleared out a large project workspace, another room that can serve as a meeting room, and set up a multi-purpose office. over the last few years, the office space had to accomadate about 50% more staff than it was designed to handle. When most of the staff was finally able to relocate to the ann arbor offices a year ago, must of the stuff stayed behind. the end result was clutter and chaos that we slowly became oblivious to.

wendy and i emptied the offices of about 5 car loads of obsolete equipment, useless books, outdated files, and dilapidated furniture. strangly, it was an emotional experience for me. i came across projects and equipment from my first days on the church staff as youth pastor and business manager. felt exhilirating to shot put into the dumpster an old compaq computer that had cost me tens of hours on hold with technical support trying to fix, all to no avail. somehow, it had stuck around in closets for 8 years before meeting it's end today. got choked up seeing the names and photos of volunteer youth leaders who pioneered the youth ministry with me, and of students who are now helping lead the youth ministry. almost lost my resolve to pitch stuff. persevered though, and only kept stuff that evokes especially significant memories, or still retains practical usefulness. the "clean sweep" team would've been proud.

lots of actual cleaning (dusting, vacuuming, etc.) and arranging yet do, but it feels invigorating to have some breathing room. sort of how the spring warmth is feeling now after a long winter. seems like an appropriate, if mundane, way to celebrate easter week. wendy's pretty artistic, so maybe she'll have a chance to add some personal touch to the space, too.

final note: developments today lead me to believe i may have some good news to report on an important project in the next few weeks. nothing confirmed yet, but when (and if) i have more to report, i'll let you know.

Sunday, April 11, 2004


celebrating easter. baptising six new followers of Christ, all of whom bear witness to God's astounding love. dedicating an infant girl who is blessed with a fantastic family and a loving church. worshipping with a passionate church led by humble, extraordinarily gifted musicians. surprising ronni with a simple gift that brought tears to her eyes. seeing colin enjoying life thoroughly. feasting with my family on a succulent meal prepared by my brother in law. discovering some great new music. heaven's got a lot to live up to after a day like this one.

not that there isn't room for improvement, of course: gave two invitations in a row now without anyone indicating they wanted to surrender their lives to Jesus. the red wings fought hard and lost. didn't get to see ronni's family this easter (rotating holidays thing to preserve our sanity). ronni's feeling under the weather tonight--she gave her all over the last week and i think her body decided it needed to shut down for a bit.

ah well, Jesus is alive. he'll take care of all that needs taking care of :) just very, very glad he lets me play, too.

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

good stuff

sunday was a really enjoyable day, despite the time change. tyrone made a visit to the milan vineyard this morning...he loves to worship Christ, and it's contagious. saw him kneeling during one of the songs, and thought it might be a good idea to do the same. really experienced a longing for Jesus to return while on my knees, and tears started streaming down my face. haven't been moved to tears by that particular longing ever in my life. glad to discover it in my heart.

gave an invitation for people to embrace Christ as King of their lives after the sermon. asked people who wanted to respond to stand...first time I've used that particular invitation style. no takers. glad in a way. a pastor I respect once told me that if you never go fishing unsuccessfully, you're not fishing enough. either that, or I have to learn a lot about fishing. either way, didn't find myself discouraged in the least. sad to miss out on the joy of seeing people meet Jesus for the first time, but not discouraged.

after church took my dad out for a "boss appreciation day." for 7 years, or maybe longer, my dad was my boss. as long as I've been in full time service to the church, until novemeber when the milan and ann arbor vineyards multiplied, he's been my only supervisor. truthfully, nearly everything I've learned about pastoring I've learned from him, and learned because he's given me the opportunity. because of all the busyness of becoming two churches, I never had the chance to just say thanks in a practical way. our original plans of going to the piston' s game fell through, because the game got moved up to 1:00 p.m. so we went to damon's ribs, watched the game and ate a lot of food. the pistons romped over indiana--very satisfying. went to coldstone for some ice cream. amazingly good stuff. then went to see Secret Window...middling movie, didn't find ourselves attached to the characters. nonetheless, we had a great time.

meanwhile, Ronni and her sister went to see Bill Cosby perform in Toledo. I'd gotten her tickets for her birthday and valentine's day. seemed like they had a great time, too.

all in all, fantastic day.

Friday, April 2, 2004

april fools

no one tried to pull an april fools prank on me yesterday, from what I can tell. NPR ran a harmless news piece about people getting to keep their zip codes when they move from now on. apparently lots of folks got upset about the terrible chaos that might cause :)

wish I had been around to experience the war of the worlds bit in 1938. an interesting website about the event can be found here. the site's got scans of newspaper articles the day after, and lots of other fascinating info. apparently, some people believe an alien invasion really happened, and that orson welles tried to turn it into a joke.

if anyone can find downloadable audio from the broadcast online, email me with a link; I'd love to hear it.