An Experiment

Hey folks. Just wanted to let you know. I will be starting a new blog page. It’s an experiment really. Sometimes I don’t post stuff to because this has become a place to share my various phiosophical musings (as the page header explains.) But, I thought it might be neat to keep a record of what happens all 365 days in 2006 using this nifty blog technology.

Thus was born

I will begin posting to this page on Sunday, January 1, 2006.

Happy New Year!

All In One Day!

We left our house at 9:30am on Wednesday, heading for a quick visit with much of my extended family in Springfield, OH. We would be having dinner with my cousing at his Grandma’s house (along with some amount of the rest of his family) and then crashing that night at his place with his new bride. We were looking forward to it.

Now, if you know anything about us, we are pretty good at traveling usually. We are not usually sprinters, we are marathon runners. We know how to hunker down for the long haul. Dude, we have traveled over 1000 miles in one day with three kids. I’d say that qualifies as a marathon! Well, on this day, we were not going to do the marathon, since we had a schedule.

We stopped for lunch (almost an hour late!) at Skyline Chili in Cleveland, OH and met some friends who have lived in Ecuador for the past decade or so (but are now in the States for a little over a year). We had a pretty quick meal with them, catching up on the past four years or so. πŸ™‚ (Not really, but sorta…) They have four kids as well, who are growing up! Was fun to spend a quick 45 minutes or so with them!

Then we were off! Headed now to Springfield for dinner. We stopped only to get gas, and let the pregnant lady walk for 10 minutes, and then we pressed on to our destination for the night.

At 7:00pm, we finally arrived at my cousin’s Grandma’s house, and when we came in, there were lots of people there! My cousin Jimmie, his sister Sarah, then their Grandma & Grandpa, and also my cousins cousins. πŸ™‚ It was a nice full house! So we had a great Grandma-like meal (pot roast, home made noodles, home-made mashed potatoes, etc, etc, etc) while chatting with Jim’s side of the family. That was fun. Kirstie had a blast with a new Grandma and Grandpa to play with! πŸ™‚

Later that evening my Aunt and Uncle came over to the house to visit. So we saw that whole side of the family there that night. πŸ™‚ We were fairly exhausted by now, about 9:30 or so, and happily headed back to cousin Jim’s house.

When we got there, they had some presents for the boys, so they opened those while I helped get the baby bed ready and got her laying down. The boys played with their new toys (and Kirstie was trying to sleep with her new toy) πŸ™‚ and we talked for another hour or so, before we started getting the boys ready for bed. After a little set up of the room, we got everyone in bed by 11pm. Whew! We were tired!

The next day, we saw the rest of the family! We had breakfast with Grandma Alta (my Mom’s mom), lunch with my other grandparents, and my aunt and uncle on the Campbell side, and Jimmie and Sarah joined us as well! After lunch we hit the Goodwill store next door to the restaurant, and then picked up a christmas present from Grandma and Grandpa at their house, before heading back to cousin Jim’s for a nap! Whoa!

So within less than a day we had visited with all of my extended family in Springfield, OH! On our way out of town, we stopped by Young’s Dairy in Yellow Springs, OH (a GREAT, FUN family tradition) and played with the goats and cows and pigs and then got some free ice cream cones c/o my Aunt Sara (from lunch earlier that day!)

We got to my parents house that night and had dinner with them and opened christmas presents, and then well….

We were tired.


My Bad!

Hey folks! Welcome back! Don’t know how long the page was down for you, but due to some communication errors from the domain registrar, I was unaware that the domain was expiring on December 28th! So, I was trying to get my mail (at this domain) on Thursday and found out that the domain was in fact EXPIRED! ARGH!!!

So, thanks to my great domain registrar (they really are!) we are back in action here!!!

Sorry for the inconvenience. πŸ™‚

The End

Jake Colsen

We have referenced the online book by Wayne Jacobsen a few times before, but I thought I would post the link again here, since the book is now complete. Stop by the website and download the book in PDF format, or just read it right there in HTML. Great story. Well told, and is not too far off from ours. Except for hanging out with John the Baptist…

(Just read it, and you’ll see what I mean…) πŸ™‚

Two Thousand Five

Sometimes you get to the end of a year, and you say, “I can’t believe we’re already at the end of ______!” (Insert current year there…) I don’t feel that way this year. It’s been a good, full year. Must have been not too full? That’s nice.

I thought it would be fun to make a list. So, here you go: (Warning, this list will most likely continue to grow…)

My Top 50 (or so…) Things from 2005 (in no particular order)

  1. Finding out we were going to have another baby, and all is still well.
  2. Podcasts
  3. My own podcasts: basicmm radio, then Buffalo Bills Review.
  4. Publishing my first book, A Journey Shared
  5. Watching our daughter Kirsten move from infant to toddler, though she still won’t talk… πŸ™‚
  6. Watching God patiently transition us through various stages of our journey with him this year
  7. This blog page – and all the great chances to think life through with so many of you
  8. Apple. What can I say? I am a huge fan. πŸ™‚
  9. The Tones Family. They’re our neighbors, and great friends.
  10. Old friends (local): Stupins, Weigels, Velasquezes, Joneses, Schoenfelders
  11. New friends (local): Mahoneys, LaBarges (J/C), Shoemakers, McHenrys (the last three are new in that we never really got to hang out as much as we did in 2005)
  12. Doing another Growing Kids God’s Way class with those last three families, and the several times I stuck my foot in my mouth (thanks for your patience everyone…)
  13. Ian turned seven. Seven. We have a 7-yr-old.
  14. PCTC 2005. A fun weekend with friends (our band: Mike, Ben & Jesse) and we even grabbed a great recording from it!
  15. Basketball on Wednesday mornings with Steve
  16. A great return trip through Florida, visiting family and friends – even a free visit to Disney!
  17. Kirstie Turned One! πŸ™‚
  18. A very nice wrap up to three great years with Crosswinds
  19. A new venture:
  20. Discovering that there really is no science to pulling a tooth. I paid a man to use a shiny pair of pliers to yank a tooth from my head. No special technique… just lots of yanking.
  21. A crazy new schedule with lots more time for family, and friends. (With a big reduction in the number of meetings and gigs and other obligations.)
  22. Seeing God provide work for me in web and graphic design, and watching him provide for our family through that.
  23. Chill & Grill. πŸ™‚
  24. The Apple Store at Eastview Mall. Only 20 minutes from our house. Waiting in line with 1000 other crazy Apple fans for the grand opening, getting 5 free (COOL) t-shirts!
  25. My Grandma’s 80th bday party, and my cousin Jimmie’s wedding – with almost all extended family present! Fun!
  26. Traveling to Clinton, NY in heavy snow to sing for 10 people and then nearly getting snowed in that night on our way out to the hotel. On top of that, the driver side windshield wiper FLEW OFF (and broke). Very nice. πŸ™‚
  27. Getting to talk with three former Buffalo Bills (Don Beebe, Darryl Talley, and Frank Reich) in in-depth interview for the Buffalo Bills Review. That was fun.
  28. Going to FOUR Bills games this year!
  29. Having great conversations with friends about the reality of God in everyday life. Over dinners, over IM, on the phone… wherever and whenever God arranged for that to happen.
  30. Hearing our baby’s heart beat. Seeing our baby moving.
  31. An amazing weekend with my wife, whom I love, in Maine – WITHOUT KIDS – thanks to her amazing parents!
  32. A great rest of the week with our kids up in Maine exploring waterfalls, playing games, watching the Dukes of Hazzard and eating great food.
  33. Swimming in an outdoor pool in 30ΒΊ weather! (It was heated… but still…) πŸ™‚
  34. Dukes of Hazzard. (Deserved a second mention)
  35. Netflix.
  36. A full year of using this amazing office my Dad made happen. (I work from our attic… that one year prior was completely unfinished. He’s pretty amazing, too.)
  37. Being the recipient of my parents’ amazing generosity. My in-laws too.
  38. Catching the winning touchdown pass while falling down in the end-zone in overtime in the 8th annual Chili Bowl
  39. Singing a million and one Christmas songs in various coffee shops and other retail locations around Rochester, NY this December.
  40. Have I mentioned Jen? Another year with Jen is always a privilege. God continues to shape me through her.
  41. Watching Alex love football. He really, really loves it.
  42. Setting up a fun computer station for the boys. (and kirstie..)
  43. Online chats – what did we do before IM?
  44. Skype is pretty cool, too…
  45. Introducing Tara to Skype πŸ™‚
  46. Janet Reiprisch
  47. Tuesday Night Bowling
  48. 1st Fridays at Reflections
  49. Cici’s Pizza and Skyline Chili within minutes of my parents house in Ohio
  50. 100,000 miles on our faithful family van
  51. Watching Ian learn to read, better than most 5th graders. (He just turned 7 yesterday.)
  52. Reading with my daughter after her bath at night
  53. Seeing Alex smile.
  54. Reading the Bible with my boys when they wake up at nine-three-oh.
  55. Monday Night walks to the Library.
  56. Making home-made pizza with the boys.
  57. Making Christmas cookies with the family.
  58. Alex asking, “Is there football on tonight?” on Tuesdays.
  59. “Discovering” Swift’s Landing park
  60. Watching Star Trek at the end of most days with Jen
  61. Free hot donuts at Krispy Kreme!

There’s obviously so much more. I might add a few more if I think of them. But, that’s a pretty decent list. We’re going to be traveling at the end of the year here, so this will probably be the final post for 2005. (Or, maybe not.) Hope your year was as great as mine.

By far the best thing this year though has been the amazing transformation God is working in our lives as a family, and especially in me personally to learn to trust Him more every day and to live in the reality of Him every day in every place. Deeper than I knew possible.

That has been my 2005.

The Emerging Church

Have you heard this term? It seems to be cropping up in many circles. I am not certain as to the totality of the meaning that phrase might encompass, but essentially, it seems to be the catch phrase for a new way of “doing church”.

It’s not necessarily a generational thing, though it does seem to have some foundation in the genuine relational aspects desired by the generations after the so-called Generation X. It’s not about the “Seeker-Driven” services made popular by the mega-churches, like Willow Creek in Chicago. It’s primary focus, it would seem, is in equipping believers to live life every day with Jesus and to go out into the world and make disciples, like the Great Commission says.

That’s all great! I am so for that! I love the fact that God is moving people’s hearts to long only for him, and a familial relationship with his people that transcends any building, or meeting, or pre-planned program. The church is far bigger than any box we can build! And it’s so much more than just planning great, engouraging, life-infusing programs and seminars that encourage people, but only leave them wanting more.

But. (You knew there was a but, now didn’t you?) πŸ™‚

When I heard the mission statement of an indie Christian band today that included a line specifically referencing “the Emerging Church”, I became a bit flustered. While I love the heart of what people (and I believe, God) are doing with the renewed vision for what the church can be, I was so deeply saddened at the recognition of yet another reality we are attempting to capture in a catch phrase.

We have seen the previously mentioned “seeker-driven” mentality, where the focus of believers is (correctly) on the people who have not understood the Good News of the gospel. That’s great! We need to have eyes open to people around us who need to drink deeply of Father’s love – who have never understood that before. But, once we had a name for it, it became a formula, and now thousands upon thousands of churches emulate each other in planning perfectly honed programs that focus on those in attendance who have not yet trusted their lives to Jesus.

We have also seen the various “worship” movements. The transition from hymns to “choruses” and now the full-blown modern juggernaut that is Christian Worship music. The infusion of life, and real, honest lyrics, and modern music that the culture can relate to (somewhat akin to the seeker services) is a great thing, and brings the reality of our Father to a new level. Some really great fruit has been produced through this modern wave of change. My wife and I have seen some of that first-hand. And yet, when it has taken on a name, (such as “the modern Worship Movement”, or “Worship Evangelism”, etc.) or been passed along in outline form at a convention of Christian leaders, or written in countless books – it takes its place as another attempt to bottle something that can’t be contained.

I do believe in the emerging church. I have seen it. We have toured the country (in our musical travels) and visited so many churches in so many forms. In many of those locations, if not all locations we have seen God doing one main thing. There is a disdain for not just the old, or the traditional, but the institutional. There is a hunger for genuine relationships amongst believers. Various ways at achieving this have been proposed and even attempted. From changing the lighting or the furniture arrangement at a corporate gathering, to changing the name or the format of that gathering. In some cases, even the gathering itself was eliminated, and believers met at various times through the week in various places. However it is being fleshed out, the hunger in people’s hearts seems to be for an authentic, daily relationship with the living God, and with his people.

I know I personally can’t stop us from taking another great thing God is working in his church and trying to package it. I can’t. I won’t even try. Perhaps though, as you read this, the hunger he is building in you might be stirred? Perhaps you know exactly what I am talking about because our Father is drawing you to himself in a similar way. That doesn’t mean you and I should try to trace our steps and prepare detailed instructions to pass along to others so that they too can follow our step-by-step directions to achieve similar results. And no, it doesn’t mean we should give it a name! πŸ™‚

Whenever we name something, I believe we have birthed a new entity, which, in the end, will only become a substitute for what we were initially hungering for – a realtionship with the real Living God.

Consider these words from an online book I have mentioned here before. This is from the most recent chapter posted last week:

β€œThat’s what happens when an institution tries to do what it cannot do. By providing services to keep people coming, it unwittingly becomes a distraction to real spiritual life. It offers an illusion of spirituality in highly orchestrated experiences, but it cannot show people how to live each day in him through the real struggles of life.

β€œ… in the first days of a new group forming the focus is usually on God, not the needs of the institution. But that usually fades over time as financial pressures and the desire for routine and order subvert the simplicity of following Jesus. Relationships grow stale in routine and when the machinery siphons off so much energy just to keep it running, it will grow increasingly irrelevant.”

I have seen this so, so often. Friends who give their entire lives to the furtherance of an institution because in so many ways it represents their own relationship with Father. It indeed, in a very subtle way, has become a substitute. Not by their own choice, or even usually, by their own admittance. But it has. All of their life and energy is devoted to maintaining the systems they have created – whose noble purpose is to encourage people’s relationships with God.

But no matter how noble the intentions to start, whatever system we might create – and whatever we may name it – always siphons the energy from us and ends up becoming our master. It demands our time, and energy and committment. Only God is deserving of that. And only he can fulfill the hunger in us – no system or institution or movement can satisfy that. Not one.

Organizing is not bad. Names are not bad. But in the end, there is only one name under heaven by which we can be saved. Only one name, of one person.

No, it’s not Wesley, or Luther, or Presby. (There really is a Presbyterian minister named Presby. Really! I’ve met him!) It’s not Mohammed, Buddha or Joseph Smith, either. It is not the Seeker-Driven or Purpose driven church that will save. It’s not the Emerging church or the Missional church. It’s not the House Church movement, or the Relational Church movement, and it’s definitely not the Bowel Movement. πŸ™‚

If you’re looking for a name for your daily journey with God…

His name is Jesus.

Intelligent Design

You know, I hesitate to say anything about this, because, I am really not concerned at all with the details of this story, but it was fascinating enough to me that I can not help but comment. (I do seem to have that problem, don’t I?) πŸ™‚

Last night I was watching Special Report with Brit Hume on the Fox News Channel (my Mom would be proud!). I rarely watch news programs, since I mostly don’t get into political goings on, or disasters, or homicides or things like that. Call me crazy, but I am not all that excited by such things… πŸ™‚ But last night they did a story on a school in PA that had decided to (if I understand correctly) teach a theory that some people believe everything that exists is the result of Intelligent Design. Not a particular deity (like, Jesus, Allah, or Buddha or something) but just “a greater force”, or however they word it. I thought, alright, that seems fine. They still teach evolution as well… just offering different possiblities.

Well, 11 people took the school district to court, alleging that this was a violation of the good ol’ church and state thing. (Not that again!) And the crazy thing is, they won! The judge said that teaching Intelligent Design was a violation of the constitution? That seems really really crazy to me. I mean… how is that any different than teaching evolution? Evolution can’t be proven? Neither can intelligent design. They’re both theories, and both have strong proponents.

As I said before, I am not concerned with the details. I think the whole thing can’t work because you’re trying to teach one large group of kids the same thing, and all of them come from different backgrounds, and don’t think or believe the same thing. SO…. you’re going to have things that you don’t necessarily agree with. What really amazed me was that people would actually think this so important that they would challenge it in federal (I believe) court and attempt to get the idea banned from being taught (or mentioned?) in the school’s curriculum. They did not replace evolutionary theories with intelligent design theories… nor did they espouse one particular brand of religion. They just offered an alternative view.

How is it that we have gone so far that even suggesting a nameless God is unconstitutional?

I guess I just thought it was more evidence that we continue to move farther and farther away from God as a nation – when our judges are making decisions like this.

One more note, for the politically minded who read this blog… this will not be solved in the courts. You can’t win enough court battles, or hold on to any sort of legislative power that will make people want to keep God at the core of who we are. That is just impossible. The only way we can move people back toward an acceptance of him is person to person, sharing the love we have with everyone around us. I don’t mean launching a huge evangelistic campaign… just… loving God, and loving people. If God wants to, he will turn people back to him through that. Hearts can not be changed through legislation.

So, no big political push here… just found it amazing how strongly some people don’t like God even being an option.

I Just Wish Money Didn’t Mean Anything To Me

One more thing from Saturday (a very long, crazy day…)

We were out getting a few more things for Christmas, and I was going through the line at Wegman’s (a Rochester-area grocer.) I had the goodies ready to purchase, and as I was ready to pay I recalled the one other item I was supposed to get. The coupon in my hand with the nice picture of it did help jog my memory. πŸ™‚ Well, there was a line, and it was not in that particular aisle, so I just grabbed the change and receipt along with the coupon and headed back hastily to the next aisle to get the special gum I was to retrieve for my wife.

As I was scanning the candy aisle (which we do not usually do) I felt some papers drop from my hand. I was shocked when I looked down and noticed that the papers were in fact US legal tender! I had dropped the $13 change I had gotten from my twenty dollar bill! I was a bit flustered, but just bent down and grabbed all the little green backs. I counted, and noticed one was missing… the ten! Doh! If only I had just lost one of the singles…

So, there I was in line at a very busy grocery store down on my hands and knees, rear end up in the air, peeking under the magazine and candy racks. It was a very interesting sight, I am sure. But I couldn’t find it! Anywhere!! Now I was really getting flustered.

It was my turn to make my purchase, so I told the cashier what had happened, and fumbled with the aforementioned gum and coupon, at least wanting to complete that transaction. After that, I spoke with a couple managers, and they shut down the lane so that we could move stuff and begin the recovery mission.

To our surprise, the $10 bill was better at hiding than it should have been. We found much loose change, and a cool ring, and some other items… but no ten dollar bill! Ahhh!!! How could this happen?! We watch every nickel and dime that we spend, and I just DROPPED a ten-dollar bill?!?!? I was so mad!!!

So, I get out to the car, just finally giving up, and I am steaming. Jen can tell something is obviously wrong. We sat in silence for quite some time. I think I had explained the story to her, but I was not mentally there. I was waging a fierce battle in my mind over the role of money in our lives. Eventually I believe I blurted out these words:

“I just wish money didn’t mean anything to me!”

What I meant, of course, was that most of my struggle was that we can not afford to just be flipping 10-dollar-bills round the floors of various and sundry grocers, carefree and skipping through the aisles. That does not currently jive with our budget. But what I noticed from my own words was much more frightening.

I do care about money. Money to some degree still controls me. If I really believed what I profess to believe, that God is in fact our provider, and every need we have is and ever will be met by him and him only… I would be able to laugh off the silly dissappearing ten-spot. But, that was not the case. My day was ruined because my stupidity had lost us $10. I was crushed, angry… and the day was toast.

What if I really trusted God with our finances. When will I be able to see it is not my own efforts to make or save or budget our monies that puts food on our tables and pays our bills? It is all from our Father, who loves us, and wants to take care of us. That is so, so hard for me to grasp. I am so far from that, it seems. But perhaps this was another piece in the puzzle.

To wrap up the story, God gave us the $10 back. No, Wegman’s did not call and let us know they found it. No, we did not return in the wee hours of the night scouring every nook and cranny to finally discover its secret location. We sold some CDs at a gig the next day… and two people paid $15 each for $10 CDs. Surplus of ten dollars. Exactly what I had lost, and lost so much life worrying over.

How ironic. πŸ™‚