Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cell Phone Woes

Red , originally uploaded by Ð×ßîŋά ♥.

Well, I have had a lot to blog about and I've had limited access to the technological world lately. My internet has been out at home which means that I have had to be more mobile in posting. Not that being mobile is out of the ordinary for me, but after about two weeks of being away, it's hard to squeeze time in for the practice of blogging when I am out and about--seems like I'm always running into people--which is always a good thing. (Although maybe I should watch where I'm going--guffaw!)

On top of the limited access to the web, I also lost my phone (actually I think it may have been stolen but I'm not sure by whom). It was a (PRODUCT) RED phone, so a portion of the cost of the phone went to the global fund to fight against aids, tuberculosis, and malaria--just trying to be an advocate!!!

So I've been scrambling around a bit trying to find someone with a phone I can use temporarily until I can get my phone (with nearly 1000 contacts--maybe yours was in it?) replaced.

If you called me earlier this week, I assure you I have been paying my phone bills--I turned off my phone so someone else wouldn't be able to make a bunch of calls on it.

One of my dear friends let me have her old phone so I am back on the grid.

The really weird thing about it all is that I realized how integral the cell phone and computer have become to working efficiently in our world. I was literally off the grid for about 24 hours. Being off the grid is great if it is intentional, but when it isn't it is frustrating.

How often do you use a cell phone or the internet? How much would it break the rhythm of your life to be unplugged (on a monday at that!!!)?

The cool thing is that our lives and our callings aren't dependent on technology--in the middle of it all, I have been able to respond to God in gratitude for the tools He has allowed me to have to connect with others, but these tools are NOTHING when compared to the GIVER of the gifts.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Do They Know It's Christmas? Part I Commercial Christmas

Last night we started a new series at h2o called Do They Know it’s Christmas that will take us to the end of the semester. This week in particular we looked at a story Jesus told about a man who had so much stuff he found himself needing to build bigger barns. Before Jesus tells the story, he warns people to guard themselves against covetousness and tells them that their life consists of more than the abundance of their possessions.

Essentially, he says the exact opposite of what modern marketing gurus would like us to believe. Many of us have heard the story multiple times, and yet, when we are succumbed to over 30,000 commercials a year (on average) not to mention countless billboards, neon signs, and newspaper ads, it is easy to drown out the voice that tells us we have more than enough.

In the words of Ron Sider in his book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, “The increasingly affluent standard of living is the god of the twenty-first century in Northa America, and the adman is its prophet.” His book doesn’t say that Christians are the problem, he just argues that affluence is not our god. But you know, if you were to look at the average American household, you might be tempted to think that our source of strength was found in the amount of stuff we could hoard. It is so easy to get caught up in “building bigger barns” or believing the lie that life does not consist in more than the abundance of our possessions. And so we go out and spend money like crazy to buy more stuff—last year Americans spent $455 billion during the holidays.

It’s not that buying things is bad either. Especially around Christmas time it is nice to celebrate the arrival of our Savior by exchanging gifts since God gave us the ultimate gift in Christ. But do we need to be so excessive in our spending? Sometimes I feel like we can get caught up in “building bigger barns” as the holidays arrive. I don’t want to seem trite or judgemental or even seem like I have it all together—because anybody who knows me well knows that I don’t. I still oooohhhh and aaaaaahhhhhh over every new release that apple makes.

But maybe, as we scurry about this holiday season, we can think about gifts and giving in a different vein. Last year, I made photo albums for my family and sort of wrote a little “book” for them. I think it might have been the best gift I had ever given. Instead of giving them more stuff, I gave them something that I took time and care and LOVE and placed them all into this unique gift.

My mom made me a quilt and a scarf just a couple of years before she died. While I won’t see my mom again until the day I go to be with Jesus, every time I see the things she has made, I am reminded of the intense love she has for me, and that she took the time to care for me many, many times over the years of my life. And to me, that’s the most meaningful gift of all.

Seems like it rings familiar of another story I read where someone else loved so much that He worked tirelessly to give us what we really needed in the greatest act of love history has ever known.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if our gifts echoed that this year.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

West Virginia Hills

West Virginia Hills, originally uploaded by J Fred.

It feels like forever since I've been back in these hills. I think it will always be home for me. Although I didn't take this photo, I really love it. More than the photo, I love the sites and sounds of home.

California was great and I really enjoyed seeing friends and family out west, but as my friend Dave Nancarrow is fond of saying, "It's like the hills envelop you and give you a hug to welcome you back."

It's good to be welcomed back with a hug from these West Virginia Hills!

Monday, November 19, 2007


Delayed!!!, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.

So my last day in California has arrived. But, it's a long one. My dad and I woke up at 4.30AM and started our journey west to go east. We connected with a few different friends among the 17million folks who call LA home, and eventually we made our way to the airport. The high today was in the 60s along the coast so it was a bit chilly.

We were in Anaheim, El Segundo, Culver City, Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Marina Del Ray, and then Burbank during the course of the day today--we spent significant time in each of those places too. How about that for a last day tour!

We felt a little pressure to arrive at the airport for our getting seats, but the fog has kept flights delayed. You can read about the delays here.

What's amazing is that we have no choice but to deal with delays at airports. I don't know about you, but I feel like I get stressed out by delays in most of my life situations. It's like I'm always in a rush to get somewhere--but why? Today, I can honestlysay I just enjoyed the journey.

May we all learn to respond to delays and realize there is Someone greater in control of our lives than ourselves. Maybe that's the point point of stress--we forget that we aren't in control, and sometimes we get so deluded. Today, I can honestly say I'm glad to yield any presumption of control. I hope you and I can both learn to trust the One who knows every hair on our heads and not get stressed out by the little delays that come at us each day.

Keep on going, and remember, a delay is usually not a cancellations, it's just a slowing down--and who can't use a little slowing down in this fast paced world!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Untapped Energy

While visiting my brother in California, I've seen some different commercials on TV, and this one in particular I thought was really cool. It's a Chevron commercial talking about the oil industry and alternative energy sources. There's actually two or three I have seen no--including one that proclaims that chevron is the worlds leading producer/developer of geothermal energy. I hadn't really considered this type of energy until during the commercial it was shared that one plant could provide power for 7 million people. Pretty cool stuff.

My brother works for chevron, so I think it is cool to see the company he works for launch out and engage culture with the desire to work for solutions and pursue alternatives. Often the oil industry gets a bad rap as gas prices increase and make our lives a little more difficult.

But, in the spirit of the commercial, I have to ask, what about us? Are we getting innovative about getting around from point A to point B? Yesterday I was on a freeway in LA and I noticed that the overwhelming majority of cars on the road were single passengers. One evening I actually took a picture of an exquisite sunset through the smog produced by these vehicles (perhaps a future blog entry?).

As energy prices increase and we are tempted to complain, maybe it is time to start asking ourselves some hard questions about our own consumption habits. Do we really need multiple vehicles? Could we walk or bike instead of drive where we are going? Could we carpool--I mean really--do we all have to drive by ourselves to a place where other people we know are going? I could generate many more questions, and as I write this, I realize I need to contemplate this as much as any other person.

As I watched the video and thought about the concepts of this video, I think it would be easy to take it a step further. What untapped energy and potential are you not using? As the week comes to an end, maybe the next couple of days could be times of evalation and change--Sunday is the beginning of a new week after all!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Dad's Restaurant

Dad's Restaurant, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Monday as we were traveling from Burbank to El Segundo we made a stop at a place called The Grove in Los Angeles near my buddy JR’s apartment. The Grove is an outdoor mall of sorts (complete with it’s own trolley) built around an old farmers market. The farmer’s market includes both fresh vegetables and a variety of food establishments, including this little place that bears my dad’s namesake. I thought it would be cool to get a photo of him in front of the place. Ironically, we didn’t stop to eat there as we walked through, but we did have some ice cream nearby.

It’s been a lot of fun traveling with dad. He is a champion walker too. Yesterday he and I walked a total of 11 miles on three short loops we did at different points of the day. Today we went for a hike in the desert with my brother so he could scout out an area for a 5 mile hike on a future weekend for some boy scouts (including my nephew). By the way, my nephew is Senior Patrol Leader for his troop which is a pretty cool honor.

My dad has been getting me into shape a wee bit on this little vacation. I’m amazed at how far and frequently he hikes, and it’s been cool exploring with him. Maybe before we head back east we will be given another opportunity to stop at his restaurant and give it a try.

Here’s to getting in shape, or at least getting out and walking more—not to mention spending time with family and friends!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cooking with Jesus

JR and Lenny, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
While JR was showing us around town, we stopped at his church in East Hollywood and he gave my dad a tour of the space. As we were walking around he introduced us to a guy named lenny who fixes two meals a day for the homeless people in the neighborhood. Lenny was a really cool guy who’s passion for Jesus shined through during our conversation. While I would like to capture for you everything he said during our short exchange, I’m afraid it would be extremely difficult, so I will just touch on highlights.

Lenny explained to us that he had been doing this ministry for a long while and that he was amazed at the food that was produced because with his limited ingredients, he couldn’t make food that tasted so good. But he was not alone in the kitchen. He was cooking with Jesus, and he said that Jesus made every meal very special and added something special to the meals to make them taste so good.

Lenny talked about cleanliness, and how much easier it is to keep something clean than it is to let it get really dirty and try to clean it. I feel like different area’s of my life have been a testimony to both sides of this story over the years too. Lenny provided me with a good reminder to keep on top of things the best I can. He said that as we let things go that they become burdens, and Jesus didn’t come for us to have burdens. We experience freedom when we don’t allow burdens to pile up on us day-by-day. Pretty cool insight.

As we talked Lenny shared with me a fresh insight with regard to the Bible being the “living Word”. He said that one of the ways the Bible comes alive is through us. You see we give the words life when we live them out. When we become advocates for the poor, or when we take the time to care for someone who feels like they can’t be cared for, we make the word of God come alive for that person. Sometimes I think we can get so self-centered in our faith that we forget about caring for this good world that God that has made, and all of those who inhabit it.

A few years ago, Lenny started cooking two meals a day for homeless people in East Hollywood. When he started, there were about 25 people each week who would come out. Actually, he said it was twenty five total people coming, but it was really the same five guys who all lived near the church. Sometimes only one or two would make it to a meal because the others were drunk and hungover. But Lenny labored, and shared His faith with these men and impacted them—one by one. And now, today, Lenny cooks food for about 60 different people each meal. God has expanded his ability to give, to care, and to impact the city with his meal ministry. He started the ministry, and he continues the ministry as a way of being Jesus to the world, and sharing His love and His hope in his neighborhood and beyond.

When we do care for the poor, the suffering, the downtrodden, the lonely, and the hurting in obedience to Jesus, we become his hands and feet to the world. We become the only Bible that many people read, and we change the landscape. Personally, I think the world needs to see more people who have trusted Jesus for their salvation being Jesus to the world around them. How are you being Jesus in your neighborhood?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Writer's Guild Strike

Writer's Guild Strike, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Monday morning around 8.30AM, my dad and I arrived in sunny Burbank, California at the Bob Hope Regional Airport. It was a bit odd to be in the middle of this big urban sprawl, and land in such a “tiny” airport. (I think it had about 15 gates).

When we arrived we were quickly picked up by my friend JR who lives in East Hollywood, and who showed us tons of kindness and gave us a tour as we made our way to El Segundo, California where I left my wallet (Inside joke), and we met up with my brother for the next leg of our journey.

While driving through Burbank, we went by a few Studios, including this shot at the Universal Studios back lot, and witnessed firsthand the Writer’s Guild Strike.

How ironic—I mean, I just recently took the plunge and got cable for the house, and now the writers of all of those great and highly addictive TV shows like Heroes are going to potentially run out of material. (I was really looking forward to at least a five season addiction with this show!)

So the guild is on strike, but why? According to one banner I saw, the reason is greed. As we were driving down the 101 toward Hollywood, I saw a “banner” (big spray-painted sheet) which said, “Six greedy moguls are killing LA!!!”

While talking with JR, he explained to me that there are about 250,000 people who are affected by this strike. 250,000 jobs are being brought to a halt simply because television stations don’t want to pay their writers more money as they expand profits through all sorts of media representations of the writer’s work. For instance, the episodes of your favorite shows that are available online through network websites don’t have any direct benefit for the writers.

Of course it would possible to say that the writers are being greedy too, but, as a writer, I don’t see any problem with defending one’s writing right to receive benefit from their art. I have heard that it has been about 20 years since the writers have had an opportunity to negotiate a new contract. 20 years!!! Just think how much technology and media have changed since 1987, and you might understand the protest.

Twenty years ago, cable wasn’t digital. There weren’t dvd’s of our favorite shows available at best buy. We couldn’t download episodes of TV off itunes, or even watch them streamed from the internet. Our cable wasn’t HD and there weren’t hundreds of channels to chose from. A lot has changed in 20 years that has significant bearing on how we “kick back and watch TV”

What do you think about the strike? To be honest, I hadn’t really considered the reality of what an effect this situation might have until I drove by the studios. Now, I’m thinking about 250,000 people who are in the industry and how your life and mine will be impacted by how this strike pans out. It isn’t just 250,000 people in the industry who will be affected by this—there are even more people who are outside the industry whose livelihood is being affected by this strike. Who is going to be their advocate? When any of us fail to pursue right relationships with those around us, we affect people far beyond our immediate circle—and yet, we so seldom think about that—maybe today could be a little different.

A Different Light

A Different Light, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I took this photo while sitting in the woods along the shaver’s fork of the cheat river while on a retreat with a number of folks from h2o a few weeks ago. We were all just taking some time for solitude, silence, and reflection when I snapped this mid-morning photo.

Over the next few days, I’m uncertain as to the availability of internet access for blogging because of my current location, but I’m gonna try to at least write regularly, even if I cannot post. For me, blogging/writing provides an opportunity to reflect on our world, and even to contemplate how the Kingdom of God comes to bear on everyday life.

On the flipside, as you read, it’s my hope that this blog might provide an opportunity for you to reflect on your own experiences through the day as well. Perhaps, a photo will bring back a memory or a comment will remind you of something God has been teaching you. Or . . .you will read, and perhaps even see the world in a different light.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Gospel According to Moses: Exile and Exodus

Exodus, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.

This week at h2o, we finished up our series The Gospel According to Moses with a look at how ancient Israel had defined itself as the people of exile and exodus.

You may or may not be familiar with the story of how God delivered ancient Israel out of slavery in Egypt, and led his people into the promised land.

Years later, Israel found itself in another period of Exile, and they were patiently waiting for the time when God would make all things right in the world. During this period of exile, they were looking for deliverance once again. It's during that specific time that Jesus came on the scene.

But he didn't come for Israel alone, he came for all of the earth. You see, each one of us has experienced exile from God. It's kind of like we are similar to the people in this picture. Some of us are still in this place where we are the walking dead. We are slaves to sin. We seem to be very alive, but we are spiritually dead.

Into the midst of this scene of exile, Jesus arrives and he rescues us. He leads each one of us out of slavery and into a right relationship with God through the reconciliation accomplished through His death on the cross and subsequent resurrection.

As a result, we who have put our trust in Jesus, can remember the days when we were walking dead, but now we have new life, and a new opportunity to share with others how they may find "life, and that abundantly."

Take some time today, and consider the mission God has given you. When you experience new life in Christ, you have an opportunity to be an ambassador to the rest of this world of how truly great it is to live under the loving reign of King Jesus and no longer be in exile and slavery.


Thankfulness, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.

As I get ready for a week of travel (and potentially infrequent blogging), I've just been taking some time to consider the coming holiday of thanksgiving.

I was just reading this passage of scripture, and wanted to take a moment to share with you and encourage you toward a greater sense of thankfulness as the holiday approaches.

Philippians 4.6
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

As the semester approaches it's end, it is really easy to get anxious. Finals are coming up, and maybe your grades aren't as solid as you might have hoped. Maybe you had some big goals for 2007, and as the year approaches it's end, you are feeling pressure for not completing those goals. Maybe you are just stressed out about big events at work, family stuff, or any of a number of small crises that creep into our day to day existence (like will WVU be able to play in the National Championship?).

Regardless of the scenario, the God encourages on multiple occasions to STOP worrying, and to be thankful for the things that we do have. How often do you take time to consider the ways in which God has provided for you and given to you. We really have SOOOOOO much!!! So this week, as you get ready for the big holiday. Take some time, and start preparing your heart to be thankful. Life isn't nearly as stressful or worrying if you just take time for appreciating all of the little things (and big things!!!) that are going well.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Gold Rush

Gold Rush, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.

Mountaineer fans are popping up everywhere--I love it. I walked by a few folks decked out in WVU jerseys as I walked through the Orlando airport on my way back to the place that's Almost Heaven.

I arrived in Morgantown last night around 4.30PM, and then I began making a number of connections that would eventually place me at Mountaineer Field.

First, our canvas group had a tailgate at one of my friend's house. It was great!!! There was cornhole, community, and even cider.

From there, I had the privilege of joining with a former Mountaineer mascot who was in town because this week is Mountaineer week! He had hooked me up with a ticket to the Alumni Association tailgate tent, and it was phenomenal. I had a rack of ribs, and a bbq chicken breast sandwich among other phenomenal foods.

Then it was time to find our seats. I found my self sitting in a box seat right behind the student section and surrounded by a swarm of former mountaineer mascots--it was AWESOME!!!

So needless to say, my return to Morgantown was phenomenal. WVU won the game, and the theme of the night was Gold Rush. WVU Fans are encouraged to wear gold to every home game, but this game featured an even greater push, and the team even wore all gold uniforms.

It was simply an amazing night, and it was great to see a little Mountaineer Magic in the fourth quarter too! There's nothing that quite compares to being in a crowd of several thousand people all united in one purpose. WVU has three more games, and could be playing in the national championship this year--it's so exciting to look expectantly toward future weeks and celebrate with friends.

The food, the fun, the friends--I think they are all little reminders of what heaven will be like. Although I'm pretty sure heaven will be on a much larger scale. But, I'll definitely enjoy the days I get to spend in Almost Heaven until that day comes!

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Travels, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.

Over the last few weeks I have noticed that I've been on the road a lot. Last week, after going to the Jeremy Camp Concert, I drove to Pittsburgh to hang out with Willie and his family. I left Pittsburgh and drove down the Ohio River (where I took this photo) and visited some relatives in Parkersburg. Then I returned to Morgantown just in time for shifting my clock and going through a full day of meeting and connecting and church services.

After all of this I went home, packed, and got up around 6AM to head out to the airport for a couple of conferences involving the ministry I work for in Orlando. Orlando sounds really awesome this time of year, but it has actually been uncharacteristically chilly--plus I've been inside most of the time--no surfing for me! :(

I gave a small seminar while down here on the value of spiritual disciplines and particularly the value of practicing Sabbath. Good stuff.

Now I am about to board another plane to return to WV and hopefully enjoy some mountaineer football!!! Tomorrow is a day full of meetings and catching up on a weeks worth of emails. Plus there is a regional conference for the association of churches we are part of this weekend.

I love connecting with people, and the travel is also great, and its had me thinking about the bigger story.

In a sense, aren't we all travelers. Aren't we all pilgrims? We're all on a journey and looking to one day reach our final destination. Just like Israel wandering through the wilderness, we are journeying through life--but we have a purpose. Or at least we could have a purpose. As you travel through this life, do you have an end in mind, or are you just going through the motions? May you richly experience refreshment on your journey as you progress toward the destination.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Memories, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.

I'm not sure when this picture was originally taken, or who the original photographer was. It's a photograph of me, Willie's wife, and his daughter standing outside our M'si Kah-miqui (Tribal Council House) in Maryland.

Saturday, I hung out with Willie and his family and I saw this picture, and I just thought it was awesome. There weren't any other pictures in the album we were looking at that had any relation to our tribal grounds.

It's kind of weird seeing an image like this and remembering how very important our Shawnee heritage is to each of us and it rekindles a desire to make sure that our culture gets passed on. It also reminds me of how beautiful our culture and our history has been. God definitely touched many lives through our time together on "the mountain" and gave us a richer appreciation of our faith.

My mom used to love going up on our tribal grounds for ceremonies, and so did my dad. But since my resignation from my chieftainship, it just hasn't been the same.

But at least there are memories and photographs--and even more there are ceremonies. Ceremonies that point us to King Jesus, the one who gives every good and perfect gift.

And traditions continue too. For instance, my brother recently received his name. Manitou Thee-po-wa-Thee. He waited a long time for his name, and he and I went about getting the name through honoring ancient traditions--like prayer.

You know there are many ancient traditions that we forget about every day. Studying the scripture, prayer, fasting, celebration, and worship are just a few. My challenge to you today is to soak in one of those ancient traditions, allow your memory to go back to a point in time when God did something beautiful in your life--remember and give thanks, celebrate and worship.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Jeremy Camp Concert

Jeremy Camp Concert, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.

Last Friday night, I went to see Jeremy Camp in concert with around 2000 other people in Morgantown, WV at Chestnut Ridge Church. My dad, my sister, and my best friend and his family joined me for the merriment as well.

The concert was phenomenal on a number of levels. My sister was the one who was really enthusiastic about going, and I wasn't as excited initially. It wasn't that I don't appreciate the music, I just didn't know if a concert with a national Christian act would be just a concert, or a night of Christian music, or a time of worship, or what.

I was greatly enthused by what I heard and experienced. Much of the evening I was crying as I sang along with the rest of the audience. God was taking this time that I had dedicated to a concert to both minister to my heart and to allow me an opportunity to more deeply worship and appreciate Him.

If you ever get a chance to see this guy in concert, I highly recommend it. Through song, scripture, and personal testimony, he really ministered to my life, and encouraged me in my walk with Jesus.

One of the last songs he sang is called My Desire. The chorus of the song states This is my desire, this is my return, this is my desire, to be used by You.

It's a great song to sing, and a great statement of faith. As I sang along with him, I found myself really wrestling with the statement. Jeremy also shared how he wrestles with some of the statements in his songs. Deep down we want to be used by God, but sometimes our selfish tendencies get in the way. Sometimes I think we want to be used by God, but we just don't give consideration to what that would look like.

So I submit it to you, and I would love to read your comments. You can be both general and specific. What does it look like in general to be used by Jesus? . . .and what does it look like for YOU specifically to be used by Jesus? How do you make yourself available on the job, at school, in the house, in the neighborhood to be used by Jesus?

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Gospel According to Moses: Temple

Temple, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.

I took this beauty a couple of years ago while on a mission trip in Amsterdam. This is Sint Nicolas Kerk in the city center.

This past week at h2o, we continued our series The Gospel According to Moses by looking at the Temple. During this series we have been looking at different ways ancient Israel found their Identity and defined themselves as unique people in the world, and the most important symbol of all was the Temple. The temple was believed to be the place where heaven and earth met, and the place where the God lived on the earth. The place where God's presence stayed was in this inner chamber called the Holy of the Holies. Only once per year would a single priest venture into this space. As he ventured, he would take extreme care that he did not carry in any impurity, as that would mean his death.

Jesus took this idea of the temple and redefined it for Israel. He told them that if they destroyed the temple, he would rebuild it in three days. He was talking about His body. You see, when Jesus walked the earth, it was in His body that heaven and earth met. It was in His body that the presence of the Lord dwelt on the earth.

The Bible says that He is also the cornerstone of the new temple, and that we are living stones. It's pretty amazing when you think about it. You see, when the People of God come together (living stones), they become a new kind of temple. And when we are together, united, loving each other, and caring for those who are outside our community, we become a sign of what it looks like when God's kingdom comes and his will is done on earth as it is in heaven.

In essence, we become the place where heaven and earth meet. It is no longer a building where God makes his home, but now He makes His dwelling in the community of faith. Think about it. When you gather with the people of God on Sundays it isn't the building where God makes His presence known--it's amid the people that heaven and earth meet.

Next time you go to church, think about what being the church means--it means that the presence of God richly dwells with His people on the earth, and that is simply an amazing gift!