Thursday, December 29, 2005

Lord Reign In Me

I've really been thinking a lot about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, and what it means to be living in the Kingdom of God. Many people have written books about the subject, but it is a very radical concept, and one that finds a hard time getting a voice in a world with so many other competing voices and competing kingdoms. There are so many other teachers that people are following. Jesus says that his yoke is easy, and at the same time it demands that we take up our cross. The first part of that last sentence is very comforting to me and the second part is world shaking, but we must consider them both if we are to follow Jesus.

I've also been thinking about vision and the future of our campus church in Morgantown. I get these ideas, and I just want to run somewhere to write them down, but I have had minimal access to a computer, and minimal time for writing. Thankfully, I have had time to think and reflect. I have also been able to spend more time in prayer. Rather than running to write down ideas, they are getting more and more time to "percolate." I have been praying for each member of our church, and also for many people who have very little, if anything, to do with our small faith community.

This time in Amsterdam has been exhausting at times, and extremely refining. I believe that the Lord is sustaining me through His Spirit and your prayers (so keep it up!). The name of the conference is Awaken, and I feel like God is stirring me personnally very deeply. Ephesians says "Awake sleeper and rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you." Ironically, this verse has not been quoted in the conference, but it is one that God keeps bringing to my mind.

At the conference there are people from Poland, Ukraine, Germany, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Canada, United States, and the Shawnee Nation (can I get a whoop for the Shawnee people?) It has been amazing to be packed in a small room (maybe half the size of the sanctuary at the waterhouse) with 250 people speaking and singing in many languages).

I have heard some of the best teachings during the conference so far. My friend JR gave the best talk I think he has ever given (or at least the best one I have ever heard) last night. I only heard the last part of it, but it was really compelling.

Take some time today and reflect on what following Jesus means. Maybe God also wants to speak to you about new ways you can begin to follow Jesus as well.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Just arrived

Many stories to tell in my first bit of the journey . . . but for a later time.

Right now, I arrived at 4AM EST. It is now 5:30AM, and I am going to go grab lunch? Weird.

It's snowing here. First snow of the year. It's beautiful, but a little colder.

Gotta run.

Monday, December 26, 2005


Ironically, I tried to post this last week, and my internet stopped working.

As I reflect on my last 99 posts, it has been cool to check out the lessons God has been using to shape me, and also see where blogging has been very helpful for me to both reflect and connect with friends and family (and show off some cool pictures). I am looking forward to blogging a bit about my holiday experiences in the future, but right now, I am feeling the crunch that occurs before long travel.

In the midst of my travels, I am planning some extended time for reflection, solitude, silence, prayer, study, and meditation.

Who knows what God has in store for the next 100 blog entries? I am looking forward to finding out as we journey together into the new year.

I can tell there is something missing when I don't blog for a while. One of the main things missing is my connection with you. I hope that can be remedied as blogging becomes a more regular discipline in my life as the year wanes to an end.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Out for Repairs

So I finished my English paper, and started working on a budget for h2o for 2005. Even though the year is winding down, I feel like I am winding up for the new year. I just met with my English professor today to talk about my paper, and he had some really cool things to say.

Ironically, in the middle of this end of the year stuff, I am currently without a computer. It's amazing how dependent this little Indian has become on technology. Really, so much of what we do is geared around the lcd screen and keyboard. What would you have done with the time you spent reading this blog and surfing the internet if you didn't have a computer?

It's been difficult keeping up with "life" without technology. Although, I have been finding myself able to engage with God and others in some fresh ways. If we don't have the technology to get things done really quickly, then we have to slow down.

So in a sense I've felt unproductive, but its caused me to be able to tune into the work God is doing in me. I am looking forward to getting my mac back, but in the meantime, it has been good to have a (sort of) technology fast. My roommate nic and others have helped me out by letting me use their computers, but my time of being unintentionally unplugged has been very enlightening.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Ploughing through life

This week has been very antithetical to the way I strive to live my life. I've had my nose to the grindstone, and I've had very little opportunity to relax this week. I am very glad that while I do set a pretty steady pace for life, I am able to make time for reflection.

One thing I have noticed in the world of the rat-racers I've felt myself dwelling in this week. Lot's of stuff gets done, but the quality is questionable. I am thankful that God has equipped me to survive and be able to overcome in the midst of the rat-race, and at the same time, I am looking forward to spending some time with my soul group in the woods during the early afternoon.

Life has seasons, and right now I am anticipating the season of soaking in the songs that abound in the wilderness, and connecting with a couple of close friends who have had similar weeks.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Long week

After getting back from Amsterdam, I have had a lengthy battle with a URI, and it has really slowed my life down. Right now I am feeling way behind on a number of little projects including a final paper for my English class. Although I am feeling a bit behind, I am still hanging in there.

Here's a little something I think about from time to time on those rare occasions when I get sick. Maybe God is trying to encourage me to slow down. So, I've been making it a point to start my day off by slowing down. I an early time in the day thinking about what God may be doing in and around me. Rather than thinking through all of the things that I've got to try to do on a given day, I try to teach myself how to re-think. I reflect on my past day, and look for life lessons that may be in the midst. i also spend more time just listening.

While I do this process off and on with regularity, it seems like here lately it has been happening more and more. It has been a great way to start my day. I am not nearly as anxious as the day progresses, and it seems like I am more keenly aware of Kairos moments that flash on the radar.

Heading back across the big water

Exciting news!!! GCM is hosting its first ever European conference Dec 27-31 2005. Churches from all over europe will be joining together for this historic gathering, and I am going to go help out!

Please pray for the conference as well as for my contribution over there. I have friends in Europe who have been part of LTs and Ignites before, and I would love for them to get a spiritual renewal through a conference like this.

I also ask for prayers that the necessary funds would be able to be raised in the next three weeks to pay for this short term support venture for Great Commission Europe.

Thanks again for lifting this whole faith venture up to the Lord. As much as I am asking for prayer for myself, I also ask you pray for the people who will be travelling from all over Europe to Amsterdam for this event. Please also pray for the handful of American travellers who will be journeying over to provide additional support for the Amsterdam church which is hosting the conference.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Back in Motown

I forgot that when we travel internationally, we have additional security to go through. As a result, after we went through security the first time at the aeroport, I suggested that we grab a bite to eat before we went to our gate. Bad idea.

As we were walking to our gate, a security person comes running up to us to tell us that we are delaying the plane, and that we have an addtional security check to go through.

As he started us running to the gate, he explained "You are not nice. You are rude. You make the whole plane wait." I guess we made a bad impression on him. We were polite and courteous with him as we ran and went through security, but you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Ironically, we ended up arriving 30-40 minutes early in Dulles.

It took about an hour to go through customs, and then it was off to the van, and then to morgantown.

We arrived at around 8PM, and I was unpacked by 8:30-9PM.

I checked some email and did a little reading, and then it was off to bed.

and this morning I woke up at 5:30AM.

I may need a little time to readjust to speaking English again. I found myself still speaking dutch on the plane.

It's good to be back, and to slaap lekker (sleep yummy) in Morgantown.

Cycling in Nederlands

Well, a trip to netherlands wouldn't be complete without riding a bike in the city. Tuesday night, after the red light district, and dinner at todds, I rode "amsterdam style" on the back of todds bicycle. We went across town with me on the rack on back.

Later in the week, I did the same thing with melissa. It was with melissa that I was able to successfully attempt the running jump onto the back of the bike. This is said to be a dangerous feat, but I like a little danger from time to time.

What is really cool about the city is that Bikes have their own lanes, and their own traffic signals, and it even appears they have their own right of way across busy streets.

Dutch people typically aren't obese--maybe its from all of the cycling that happens in the city of bicycles.

Riding a bike in 30-40 degree weather is cold, but also invigorating. I'm glad that my friends allowed me the privilege of riding in this style.

I also was able to borrow a bike to ride to the grocery store on Sunday to purchase gifts.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Andrew and Pete

These are the names of two of Jesus' disciples.

They are also the names of two gentlemen I talked to in the red light district Tuesday. They were from Britain and in their fourties. They had come to Amsterdam on "holiday" as many do. They had gotten separated from each other when I befriended andrew. Actually, I think Pete may have been procuring the services of one of the prostitutes in the area. It is the only thing I can think of that would have left these two friends separated in the city.

Andrew told me that he had bought himself some tobacco and "some other stuff" and was looking to have a good time while in Amsterdam.

He thought I was in my early twenties, and that I was an "american spoiled brat kid sent to europe for an education", I assured him that it wasn't why I was here.

I asked him about Jesus and faith, and he told me he had thought about "turning to Jesus", but had reservations. He couldn't understand how God could have taken away his brother and father. Andrew began to weep as he told me this. It was just him and his mum and sister now. I told him I didn't know the answer to that question, but that God was good, and that He loved Andrew very much.

I then told him that I was in Amsterdam to tell people about how they could turn to Jesus, and even tell about my own story of turning to Jesus. He asked me "Are you a Bible Basher?" I assured him that I had never bashed a Bible in my life. He asked if I was religious, and I told him no, but Jesus has definitely changed my life--and he wants to change yours as well.

Just then Pete sat down with us, and we continued the conversation for a bit. I asked Pete if he had ever considered turning to Jesus. He told me that he belonged to the scripture union in scotland when he was younger, but that something had happened to turn him away from God.

It was clear that Pete was much more uncomfortable with the conversation than Andrew, and he assured me that they had to leave, they had to get going.

I can't help but think that our twenty minute conversation on a bridge in the red light district will be a life defining moment for them both. They will probably remember it more than they will remember any other event during their time here in amsterdam.

As they left, I saw them make haste through the crowded street and it looked like they were still talking about our conversation as they went out of sight.

Pray for them. I am convinced that God has His hand on both of them, and that our conversation was a very significant moment. I believe they are both going to turn to Jesus soon--and I'm glad God let me be part of reminding them about his love.

As they went out of sight, I said that no matter where they went in the city or the world, God still loves them, and Jesus still loves them--no matter what they've done, they can turn to Jesus.

No matter what we've done, we can turn to Jesus. Remember that as the holiday season is upon us. You can turn to Jesus no matter what. No matter what.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Bridges

The bridges of the Redlight District are where dealers like to hang out. It is also where we chose to hang out. Already, because of the regular presence of missionaries in this area, dealers and prostitutes and junkies are being reached. God is using his people to slowly transform the heart of this place.

For a long time no dealers set foot on the bridges. It was as if we were preventing them from operating. God was putting up a barrier and undermining their work. They stood on either end of the bridge, and moved around a lot. They didn't really talk to us. I think they knew who we were and why we were there.

Drug trafficking was being interrupted for a few hours, in the heart of the red light district. God's light and love were shining through a few missionaries who made themselves unbusy for a few hours.

I believe God want's to change this neighborhood. What do you think he wants to do in yours? Do you think he might want you to be a part of it?

De Cleft

De Cleft is a ministry of Youth With a Mission (YWAM) in Amsterdam. Tuesday afternoon we went with one of the pastors from the Zolder to work with De Cleft and do outreach in the Red Light District of Amsterdam. We definitely weren't in Morgantown anymore.

The Red Light District is sadly what comes to mind when many westerners think of the city. It is the home of prostitution in the city, and it is also the center for drug activity.

Seven of us stood on a bridge that spanned across Voorburgwal. One block away from us was Oude Kerke (old church). It is the oldest church in amsterdam. I think it is several hundred years old. (By the way, the place where we are staying is over 500 years old).

One of the guys from the cleft started playing guitar. He put a sign out saying that he was playing for free and to not give money. The sign also said Jesus loves me!

Before we went out, we spent some time praying for the prostitutes and the dealers, the junkies and the homeless. Then, we entered their world. In two other posts I will tell more specific stories. In a sense, this will need to serve as a preface (even though it is farther down the page than the other posts will appear.)

Hundreds of people walked by us on the small bridge. Police walked by. Dealers walked by. Junkies walked by. The homeless and the tourists were intermixed. Across from the Oude Kerke there were a number of tall windows. Nearly naked women made gestures to entice men to enter. Some laughed and mocked them. Some looked away. Others entered and the curtain on the window would be drawn close for a period. Sex Shops were also abounding around the Oude Kerke. It was 2 in the afternoon, and the heart of the city pulsed with dark business.


Stamppot, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I had this for dinner Monday night. It is called Stamppot Zuurkool Worst. Stamppot is like a mashed potato dish with some kind of meat. The meat in this one was Worst. (Like a kilbasa or something). And this Stamppot also had Zuurkool--like sour craut in it.

It was delicious.

Indian in Amsterdam

Indian in Amsterdam, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Zondag Avond (Sunday evening), I had an awesome privilege. I was able to speak to a church in Amsterdam. I dressed in my traditional Shawnee attire, and shared a Shawnee perspective on thanksgiving and the gospel. It struck me as a bit ironic.

You see, the first missionaries came from the netherlands to the native people of america with the gospel, and gave us hope by telling us of the Sacred Visitor.

And here I am going back to Amsterdam to tell them about the One they have forgotten--Jesus Christ.

It brings tears to my eyes to think that maybe somebody who I shared the gospel with Sunday night was a descendant of one of those first dutch pilgrims to leave from Leydn in the 1600s.

What a privilege to be the first Shawnee to speak at the zolder!

Monday, November 21, 2005


Yesterday morning a group of us from the Zolder, and a few locals joined together to play a little football. Well, european football. Soccer.

It was pretty funny. We had enough to play 6 on 6, and all morning and afternoon while we played, we were being photographed by people who were out walking. We played on the museumplein. It is a large grassy area which is surrounded by one of the most popular concert halls in the world along with the royal museum of amsterdam, and the vincent van gogh museum.

The people who played were americans from the church and our team, an austrian, a german, an italian, and a british guy, an asian, and a couple of locals.

The italian guy just came out and joined us, and gave us a reason to keep playing. His name is Francesco, and we were able to invite him, and some of the others to the zolder zondag nacht. (sunday night) Aaron saw him watching us play, and so he walked over and invited him to join in the game.

Francesco didn't come to the zolder that night--he told us he was an athiest. Then he corrected himself and said he believed in god, but it was his own god. He had been travelling in Amsterdam on "holiday" (vacation) for three weeks, and we were the first people he met that showed such kindness to him. We are hopeful to get a phone call from him before he leaves, but the cool thing about our short interaction is that he knows we are Christians. He knows that we cared for one another, and for him, and he thanked us two or three times for making his morning very special, and the best time he has had in amsterdam.

Pray for Francesco, and pray for more opportunities to communicate the great love God has for humanity.


Dwazezaken, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
This word translates to Foolish Things. It is the name of a Christian cafe just outside the redlight district of Amsterdam.

Saturday evening we journeyed there together to grab a little dinner, and to connect with some of the people of the city/missionaries who are in the city long term. It was a very relaxing evening with some great conversations.

This cafe is located across from the train station, and it is absolutely beautiful.

The food was great, and it made for a great way to spend the evening. Because we stayed for a while, we were able to get a feel for the pulse of the city and observe.

One thing remains true no matter where I travel--people are really similar. You steer away from the language, and some of the foods, and really we are all very closely connected. We all laugh and cry. We all have hurts and triumphs. We all carry wounds, and at the same time want to make a difference in the world.

Pray that our small team can make a difference in this place.

As I write this, I am praying that you will make a difference where God has you today!

Amsterdam Crew

Amsterdam Crew, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
This is our crew. Our peeps. Our WV connection.

Left to right. Greta, Kelly, Becky, Aaron, and Melissa.

Greta, Kelly, and Aaron our our team.

Becky is a friend of Kelly's from London who visited us on Saturday.

Melissa is has been stationed here in the Jordaan district working in a hostel. She was a part of our mission team in 2003, and she came back to serve in the city for nearly a year. One of our goals as a team was to connect with her and her co-workers and bring them a little taste of america, while we serve zolder 50 and reach out to the city.


Canals, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I think this is Singel Gracht. Isn't this city beautiful? The whole centrum of the city is filled with these canals that prevent Amsterdam from being completely under water.


Haring, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
A dutch delicacy is raw herring (Haring) with pickles and onions. Aaron and I split a portion of this dutch treat at a fish market in the Jordaan district of Amsterdam.

Our friend Melissa took us to the market which is only open on saturdays. We also ate some really old cheeze, and some dutch licorice.

Although the Haring doesn't sound that appetizing, it was really good. I think we miss out on a lot when we aren't willing to try new things. It also allows us an opportunity to connect in a deeper way with the local culture.

Try some Haring if you ever get a chance, yum!

Interesting Art

Interesting Art, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
This photo doesn't have the crispness I had hoped. I photographed a piece of art on display in a gallery in amsterdam Saturday night. At first I didn't see the skull, all I saw were the four quare images that made up the picture.

Of particular notice are the top two images that portray the september 11th world trade center attacks. In the lower right hand corner is the murder of Theo van Gogh (descendant of vincent van gogh). He made a film that gave a negative view of Islam, and he was murdered in broad daylight in the Dam square. He was stabbed in the chest with a note.

The lower left corner, I am not sure about. but I felt like it was a very intriguing piece of art that you might reflect on as our group did.

Let me know what you think.

It's an Apple World

It's an Apple World, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Well, while on the town Saturday--our free day, I saw this door in a photo studio. There is also an Apple Store right in the heart of Amsterdam across from the train station.

I think this door marks the digital photo lab of this photo studio. There were some cool underwater photos on display when we stopped there too.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Our View

Our View, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
This is a view from outside our window in the Zolder (attic).

The waterway is Singel Gracht. (Singel Canal). It is one of a series of canals that keep Amsterdam from being underwater and divert water from the amstel river.

It isn't that clean, but the water looks beautiful.

So this is where we are. Hopefully there will be more photos later

Words of wisdom

As we were getting ready to land, one of our flight attendants shared this cool little proverb with us.

To the world, you may be just one person, but to one person, you may be the world.

There's a lot in that little phrase. Remember it as you go through your day today. Think about what significance you may have for other people as they see the glory of God manifest as you reflect His glory back to Him.

I heard this one too. Lee Dubois, one of the staff members of the zolder shared it.

It is the tallest tree that gets the most wind.--Dutch proverb.

As we step out in faith, we run the risk of being buffetted. It is much easier to stay inside or away from danger than to venture out of our comfort zones.

Just a little something to think about.

God or us?

Before leaving from amsterdam, we were having a conversation about how self-sufficient our culture is becoming. Those of you who were at h2o on sunday might remember the story I told about the Chinese Christian who couldn't understand how Americans could maintain lives of faith amid their self-sufficiency.

We often think it is entirely us who are in control of our lives. God laughs at this and says something like, "apart from me you can do nothing." Paul says that it is "in Him that we live and breath and have our being." Yet we like to take credit for things. And, interestingly, God allows us the privilege in playing a part in what He does.

As we were descending into Amsterdam our pilot told us that it was cold, but we were descending into clear skies. Two minutes later, the lights all came on in the plane, and we hit some huge turbulence. Apparently we hadn't quite reached those clear skies. It was odd, but it was just some turbulence.

A few minutes after this minor episode (eqivalent to travelling on an old country road with a few potholes), the 1st officer came on the speakers. She wanted to let us know that there was nothing to worry about. Our plane had just been hit by lightning a few minutes ago but all electrical systems were functioning perfectly fine.

I thought to myself--was it the great electrical system of the plane that had saved us, or was it God who was preserving our lives? Was it the innate skill of the pilots, or was even that skill the gracious gift of God that was working all things for the good?

I have to wonder about what God has in store for our team. We left uncharacteristically early for the airport and made it just in time for our flight. Our plane was struck by lightning on its descent. We have spent one day here in amsterdam, and are just getting oriented to our new surroundings, but I can't help thinking God is going to teach us something far greater about Himself in this process than anything we even bargained for. I believe something more than a heart for evangelism and service (which are both great things) will be the result of this short period across the big water.

Waste Culture

I'm thinking about writing a book. The book is going to be about waste. I've read a few books about it, but I really haven't read a lot from a faith perspective. Not sure whether fiction or non-fiction would be better.

Aaron and I started noticing the waste our one little flight generated. At the security check, they had plastic bags. The suggestion with the bag was--empty the contents of your pockets into this bag, and then put this bag in your carry-on and you will save time at the security check. I took one, and then I started thinking. The suggestion convinced me to do something different than I would normally do. Normally I would just chuck my contents in my bag, or toss them into a bin. This time, I took the bag. Not a big deal, really--it's just one bag.

I wonder how many thousands of people made the same choice as me that day. I wonder what they will do with their disposable bags.

As we had multiple snacks/cups of water served on the plane, I once again thought about waste. I wondered how much waste our one 8 hour flight together generated. Thankfully, the airline at least gave a semblance of environmental care. Cups and cans, and cardboard boxes were all taken up separately, and in theory they will be recycled.

I just bought some paper towels the other day called "Seventh Generation". They were made from recycled paper. On the back there was a break down of the amount of waste that would be prevented if every family in america bought one pack. I'm a sucker for advertising at times. I bought two. When I opened the package, one of the first things I noticed was that the 3 pack of towels weren't individually wrapped. I wonder about our obsession with individual wrapping.

As we walked down the sidewalk toward our domicile early Friday morning in Amsterdam, I noticed the trash. Doesn't seem like the Dutch generate a lot of waste--small bags, and very neatly placed on the sidewalk.

Take a look at the amount of waste you have been responsible for today--is there anything you can do different tomorrow? I'd love to hear your stories.

From Dulles to Schipol

Well, Thursday evening we boarded a plane to head to Amsterdam. We left a little early to get to dulles, and gave ourselves 3.5-4hrs to catch our flight. The irony in leaving so early is that none of us are known for this quality, and yet, I felt like we should err on the safe side. DC traffic can be a real bear (I believe it has the second worse traffic problem in the US), and we didn't want to get caught in early rush hour.

We made a wise choice. The we arrived at our gate just before boarding started, and so we had time for one last minute phone call and a bathroom break. We had a bit of a scare while standing in line too, because there was some baggage that someone left unattended that we called securities attention to. It ended up not being a big deal, but we were all a little concerned about these two random bags in the middle of the line at the international baggage check in.

We did make it to our plane though, and as our altitude increased, our minds moved on to preparation for the mission, and beginning to relax. I read a book on Amsterdam during the flight, and started another book about staying focussed on the really important things in ministry. My TV didn't work on the plane, so instead of watching a bunch of movies I read--I think it was worthwhile--but I would have liked checking out the movies. I haven't watched a movie in a while.

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Old Stomping Grounds

Although I am already in Amsterdam, there were just so many things happening over the last 24 hours that I feel it is necessary to share them.

It's interesting what God has done with our time so far. We left a little late Wednesday night for DC, where we stayed with some close friends. It was a bit surreal for me. I have travelled the road from Morgantown to DC so many times in the last ten years, but this time was really different.

I usually stop and reflect as I pass Friendsville, MD--for many years I spent great amounts of my spare time in this little town. My tribe has land there, and this is the home of my tribe's sacred ceremonial grounds. This is the first time I have been by that piece of land since 2004, and long before I resigned from my chieftainship. I didn't realize how it would affect me, but mainly I was nostalgic. If it weren't for what God has done in my life through my tribal community, I might not be where I am in my walk with Jesus right now.

So, this trip was a new beginning for me. This was the first time I went through this journey to DC without looking to make a concerted effort to connect with my own tribal community. My tribe has helped prepare me, and indirectly, our team, for work in Amsterdam.

We were concerned about the weather when we left, but we had clear skies all the way through our journey to DC, and we have had beautiful weather thus far in Amsterdam.

More news soon.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Final Prep

Later today, four of us will journey to Amsterdam for a fun short term mission. In the mean time, I just want to ask for prayers from everyone that we will be able to be impactful during our time. I am going to go buy some groceries, etc. from a "wish-list" generated by the team. Looking over the list, it is easy to see some of the every day luxuries we take for granted in the US. For instance, I think there were 3 separate requests for stove top stuffing. They can get it in Amsterdam but it costs 2-3 times as much as it does here--and there is never really a sale on that kind of stuff.

I've got a few meetings today, and then it will be time to finish packing, and prep to head out toward DC tonight.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Thanksgiving Dinner

Since most of us morgantown college folks end up going to other places to celebrate thanksgiving, we decided to celebrate it a little earl together. Today, I am going to make an ancient recipe turkey for my friends (and my parents are coming up too!). It should be a relaxing time in the midst of preparations for amsterdam.

Whirlwind weekend

I flew back from FL thursday night, and began scrambling through a number of different venues. I started working through Sunday's message. I also attended a Regional church conference Friday night as well as an Open mic. I came back and did some more work on a talk that I gave Saturday for the conference. After giving the talk, I scrambled home so I could join my fellow mountaineer basketball fans for the first round of the guardians classic. (Next week we face off against #2 Texas). Saturday night I felt like I was coming down with something. I've been a little fatigued of late. I woke up at 4AM Sunday morning, and prepared for speaking sunday morning. Then I watched WVU play round two of the guardians classic. I departed for the library after that and researched for a class presentation today.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Heading back into the cold north

From the weather I've been enjoying, it appears I am in for a rude awakening upon my return to Morgantown. It is supposed to be down to 32 degrees tonight.

My period of fun in the sun is coming to an end. Amazingly in the middle of all of the class and conference time I've also been able to catch some waves read 5 books, and write three essays. Unfortunately I haven't been blogging as much.

My apologies.

It is interesting to note that blogging provides an opportunity for reflection and introspection. While I haven't blogged, my time floating on the waves also gave time for introspection, and I realized something. I have been missing out on that space. Even while on my rental board it took me a good two hours before I could really slow down and connect with the water. Sometimes everything just feels so rushed.

I do look forward to sabbath rest coming soon. It's important to slow down, and to connect with the would in which we find ourselves.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Being a bonehead

I was just thinking this morning about some of the cool people I have met and taken classes under in the last three years, and I just realized--I should have gotten my pictures taken with them. Those are cool memories, and pictures are great ways to capture memories.

I take my camera almost everywhere, and I forget to take pictures in most of those places. I need to really work on that one.

This past week, I had a class with Alister McGrath, and last summer I was able to hang out with Graham Tomlin and Dallas Willard. I would have loved to have gotten a picture with them.

I could remember and reflect upon lessons learned and experiences gained through and since those courses more easily perhaps with the supplement of a photo.

My roommate nic takes some awesome photos--I look forward to the time he gets a digital camera so the world might see his skill.

What are some cool experiences you've had, that you haven't recorded in some way?

In my experience, recording those experiences helps to seal them in my memory.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

MGM Studios

A convergence of worlds is taking place before my eyes. I feel a bit like Neo in the matrix.

While on the soundstage at MGM, I can look out a window in our lobby and see 100s of tourists walk by each day. I wonder if they even know we are inside the facility recording this theology class?

It's like I can completely see their world through the windows, but they have no clue about mine. Maybe it's like the old testament prophet and his assistant who saw the spiritual reality of the armies of the Lord while everyone else's eyes were oblivious to this reality.

There is also another humorous consideration to being on this set. In the same building as us, the "who wants to be a millionaire" attraction is bringing in droves of tourists. As we come out of the doors of our soundstage, I can't help but wonder if they think we are celebrities. I'm actually tempted to go over to these people being held behind a rope and sign some autographs just for giggles.

It makes me wonder about the perceptions we carry about others--what are legimate, and what are not? It also makes me wonder about our awareness. What events are transpiring around us that we are entirely oblivious to. What is happening just outside your house right now--what's happening next door, or across town that would shock us or thrill us?


Last week was much more packed than I expected, and this current week as allowed minimal downtime for reflection and writing. But, I had a window to share some of what has been happening in my world recently.

Mostly I have been feeling a bit of a crunch because much of this month has me travelling. I am currently in Orlando, FL on one of the soundstages at Disney's MGM Studios. That's right--you had thought it might be the case, and it's true--I'm a star.

Seriously, I am taking a class on Faith and Science and it is being recorded on one of Disney's soundstages. There is this big empty room (8000 square feet) and in the middle of it is our "classroom". Dr. Alister McGrath is our professor, and he is the former principle of wycliffe hall in Oxford (this guy is really smart--he has a PhD in both Molecular Biophysics and Theology).

I still need to upload some pics from vacation and other cool events, but that may have to wait until later in the week.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Snow in October

Snow in October, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
It is snowing in Morgantown. Leaves are still green on the trees in my yard. Every fifteen minutes I hear the crack of another branch as it breaks and falls somewhere in my neighborhood because of the weight of the snow on the still green leaves. The tops are broken out of most of the trees in my neighborhood right now. Powerlines are down, and the power goes out for a few seconds every half hour.

I hope this is not an early indicator of the severity of the winter to come.

Last night I left my class around 9:45. As I walked home it was snowing a little bit (it had been raining earlier). Twenty minutes after I got home, my roommate calls me outside. The ground was covered with snow.

And it is still coming down this morning. . .


vt2005_img_lp, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
So it happened. Saturday night I was immensely blessed. Two of my good friends made arrangements for me to be able to join them (and bring another buddy of mine) in Pittsburgh to see Bono and the boys.

This was probably one of the best, if not the best concert I have ever been to. It is a close call between this and Pearl Jam 2000.

Bono opened up the concert by thanking the crowd for the life they had provided for the band, and said, "we're trying to live it as large as we can!" In other words they were making the most of what they had been given. Are you doing the same?

The last set of the evening was a time of worship (unfortunately this point may have been missed by many in attendance). The last three songs of the second encore were God-ward. "All Because of You", "Yahweh", and "40" ended the evenings events.

The night was a mix of great music, humor, political activism, and incarnational faith.

While many have issues with Bono, it is my prayer that we would see many more people similar to Bono in this regard. . .

That they would live their lives radically and passionately for what they say they believe. Not to the point of endangering others, but to the point that people stand and take notice.

I wonder how many of us really live out our passion. I was just thinking about it this morning, and even among Christians, where identification with Jesus is in itself a little radical, I think many of us are afraid to step out of our comfort zones, and afraid of offending others.

Sometimes it makes me wonder, what do we really believe? Maybe we need to start swimming against the stream a bit more before we get swept away in apathy.

What do you think? Are you living life passionately?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

New Barna Finding and Book

I was just perusing the barna website, and I read this article this morning. I think it is particularly interesting point for reflection particularly for people who are seeking to develop incarnationl, missional, and transmographic faith communities.

Check it out here.

His findings indicate that people are leaving traditional forms of church but not necessarily leaving faith. He cites several million in the US who have left the traditional church to "go deeper in their commitment to God."

Perhaps we should examine our activities and events to determine whether or not we are equipping as we might hope.

a little vacation

Over the last three days, I took my parents on vacation. Sometime in the next few days I am hoping to post some comments and pictures of these events on this space. In the mean time, I just had this thought this morning, and figured I would write it.

Over the last couple of years I have been thinking about the uniqueness of ministry as a career. In some ways, people in ministry have a hard time taking time to rest and relax. (Believe it or not, I'm one of them, but I am learning!)

Eugene Peterson said it best when he said that we pursue this kind of career because we want to be involved in what God is doing in our world, but then as we get involved in our career, we start to believe what we are doing is indispensable--that God needs us. We relegate God to a position of helper, and we pursue our careers to change lives for God.

It's really pretty absurd. I was just reminded of this thought process this week when I left town. I came back to 13 voice mails, and even more emails. I started thinking about how I would be able to get all of the stuff done that needed to get done this week. I wondered who would take care of all the needs of our church. It was then that I realized--God will take care of all of the needs of His church. God will get all of the stuff done--somehow. I'm sure I will play a part in what He is doing, but "He must increase, and I must decrease."

Some might think this is justifying laziness. I mean nothing of the sort--every one of us has a personal responsibility in the loving, inclusive community called the church. Sometimes we just need to keep things in perspective--it's God's church and God's ministry, not ours.

Anyhoo, I felt like there was comfort for me to find in that revelation this week.

Do you believe God is taking care of your personal ministry, or is it all up to you, and God has been relegated to the sidelines?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Morgantown Sunday Morning

Morgantown Sunday Morning, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I was walking from my house to church sunday morning, and the sky was just so beautiful above this valley. The building on the right is the new Life Sciences Building at WVU. The green space was the home of old Mountaineer Field. The stillness of the morning, the crispness of the air, and the beauty of the sky helped to stir my heart toward what a wonderful place Morgantown is.
It is amazing when one is able to enjoy a moment of calm in the middle of a busy college town.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Fighting Fatigue

For some reason, I have been a little "under the weather" for the past few days. Lot's of stuff happening in town, and the days are growing shorter as well. My "soul group" is really doing well--we've had some great conversations, and we are looking to hang out in the Mountainlair (student union) later this week to see what God is up to.

In the meantime, my roommate has been wanting me to share his blog with the world. If you will look to the right of this entry, you will see a link with the name nic culp on it. Give it a look. And let him (and indirectly me) know what you think.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Operation Waterhouse Cleanup

From 8AM-5PM today seventeen of us participated in a massive cleanup effort in the building we were recently granted--the waterhouse. We scrubbed about 90 years of muck off some of the woodwork, and completely cleaned out a kitchen facility (among other projects). It's really cool because as a result, not only do we have a cleaner facility and a better organized space, now there are at least seventeen of us who have a greater sense of appreciation and ownership for this great building.

It was a long and tiring day, and we were confined to indoor activities as a result of the rain that hit, but we have an even greater sense of community as a result.

We have a wonderful facility and location, but it needs a ton of work. It's pretty exciting just to think about the improvements we made today. There's something really cool about manual labor and sweating and seeing tangible results at the end of the day--I really enjoy it.

I am looking forward to a much needed Sabbath rest tomorrow!

When do you take your sabbath?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

living out our calling

I am reading 25 chapters of the Bible/week with a couple of my good friends, and we get together and talk about what we've read on monday mornings @7AM. (I know, we're overachievers!)

Last week we read the last part of exodus and the beginnings of leviticus. I noticed something in a new way as I read through the end of exodus. God had chosen skilled laborers to work on His tabernacle. He had gifted them and they were specifically equipped for the job they were to do.

I couldn't help but think about our calling in association with this. You see, God is building his temple now through us--we are living stones. As each lives out his/her calling, he/she builds up the entire body right?

Well I started thinking about how these guys were better equipped than moses to do what they were doing--moses wasn't doing that work with the tabernacle, and neither were aaron and his sons. They had other work assigned.

I then started thinking about each persons role, and how you might be able to have quality people doing things, but what if it wasn't Christ centered . . .it would be talented, and well done, but it would also have an ugliness to it.

We each need to use our particular talents to glorify God, and need prayer to be the foundation of our work. I think that is probably the main thing--who is our talent and our hard work dedicated to? Ourselves, our peers, or the King of kings, and Lord of lords?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Suffering and Pain and Evil

Over the last few days, I've been hearing some very personal stories from the lives of others. The result has been that I have thinking a lot about the state of our world. I am more and more convinced of the wickedness of humanity the more stories I hear. Sure, I believe deep down that there are people who are really trying to make a difference, and who want to stem the tide. But the truth of the matter is, deep down, our own selfishness is what is the root of so much evil.

We can justify all kinds of evil, and to me that is really scary. I have a feeling that sometimes people don't completely grasp how warped or evil their deeds really are. I don't think we even like talking about evil to tell the truth. Sometimes I feel a little cynical, but more than anything i sweep from being depressed (at the state of the world) to being hopeful (of what the world will one day become).

When I hear stories about the evils committed against some of my friends (these are really too graphic to share, and I wouldn't want to violate confidence), I am heartbroken. I think we like to wear blinders much of the time, and all the while God is trying to pull them off of us, and get us to get involved in being instruments of healing in a world that needs each one of us to be yielded to the rule of King Jesus.

Where is God calling you to bring healing in your part of the world?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Healthy Eating

Over the last couple of months, since returning back from Florida this summer, I have really been watching what I eat. Not that I ate total garbage before, but over the last couple of months I have been both exercising more, and eating a more balanced diet.

I've been noticing a disctinct difference in how I feel on a given day. It seems like I have more energy to expend, and my body is more in rhythm. It is truly great to be in this situation.

I bought a road bike about three weeks ago, and I have been using it for most of my local commuting (the exception being a trip that will involve bulky items). I've also been focussing on carpooling more when that option is available. It takes a little longer to arrive at some places, but the environmental impact as well as the personal health benefit (if I can keep from getting hit) help make it worth while.

When I eat now, I notice more distinctly how I feel if I eat something relatively unhealthy, and it affects me for a while afterward. Not to the point that I am sick, but to the point I don't feel as energetic or lively. Yesterday I ate CiCi's Pizza for lunch, and a buffalo chicken quesadilla for dinner--bad idea in combination.

When I have time, I travel to a local farmers market, and I've been buying organic and locally grown food. Maybe that is part of what is making the difference. It is funny because I'm probably meeting a lot of stereotypes for people with long hair, but I am really thankful for the difference taking place in my physiology as a result of these new eating and exercise habits.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


Alas, the mighty mountaineers have fallen. While I mourn heavily at this tragic loss, as well as the end of a great rivalry, life will go on. A few of my Blacksburg friends, Terri Dewey, Jeannette Staats, and Jackie Koch all called to console me during this very difficult time. Thanks ladies!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Big Story

Over the last few weeks as a faith community at h2o, we have been looking at the Bible as God's great story, and the story in which all of our stories find meaning. Along with each week's message, dealing with the themes of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation, my friend Ryan Huffman has been painting original pieces designed to reflect the theme of the week.

Right now I am looking at the painting done for the theme of consummation. I am talking about that theme this week. This theme carries with it the ideas expressed in Revelation 21:1-8. Check it out if you get a chance. It talks about no more pain or tears being around.

On the painting is the phrase " . . .And they all Lived Happily Ever After". This is how our story resolves. As we become heroes in God's story (He gives us an opportunity to become a hero or a villain), we look forward to a time when we will all live happily ever after. The story reaches its consummation--it is complete, and we are able to experience true Shalom.

I can't even begin to get an idea of what that will be like. I keep looking at this painting, and I am taken away by it. There is a tree, and some hills, and a beautiful skyline. Even Ryan, talented artist that he is, perhaps could only glimpse a shadow of what this time will be like. The painting does a great job of creating longing. Like the fragrance of a flower we have never seen, that is our longing for eternity.

What are some of the great stories that you have read that remind you of aspects of God's story?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

abs and prayer

This morning I went to the Rec Center with my roommate. We've been going 3 times a week for about 6 weeks now--it's nearly a habit. We get up at 5:45AM, get dressed, and go work out for about an hour. Then we grab some breakfast, read, pray, and get our day started. (He is doing rotations to finish his pharmacy degree.)

Each day, we finish up with 3 sets of 5 different ab exercises. He looks over at me today during one of the exercises (called the Bridge), and says, "either you are counting really slowly or I am counting really quickly." I told him that I had given up on counting (you are supposed to hold yourself in a certain position for this exercise--a bridge position--for 20-30 seconds twice per set). A couple of weeks ago I started watching the second hand on a clock in the weight room.

Then I said that I have the external clock, and an internal clock. I try to hold each bridge for thirty seconds, and at the same time, I try to recite the Lord's prayer--with pauses between statements. Both come out to about 30 seconds.

We also do an exercise called a Superman. When I do these, I hold them for 20 seconds and recite Psalm 126.

It is so cool to take time to reflect on the sacred text as we go through our day. I can't say that this is a completely original idea--I am sure many people do this, but I learned it from my brother.

I was thinking about the art of reflection and meditation a couple of summers ago when I was visiting him. He had just climbed Mount Whitney. I asked him what he thought about as he hiked. He told me that he tried to be mindful of his steps (so he didn't die), and be watchful for the other people in his party (so they didn't die), and then he tried to meditate on the Lord's prayer, and Amazing Grace as he walked. He told me Amazing Grace wasn't as cool as he would have hoped because he only really knew the first verse, but he said it was probably plenty to reflect upon.

When I heard this, I thought, "Man, my brother is a spiritual giant, and I am a total slug." But then I thought, "How cool to integrate the eternal into the everyday."

I've been thinking that maybe this is what intimacy really is. It isn't some lofty feeling, but it is including someone like God or another person, into the everyday, not just the emotional portions of the day, but into putting on socks, and doing ab workouts, and riding bikes.

Take some time to include God in your phone calls, your writing, your emails, or maybe your commute to and from work today! (and say a prayer for me while you are at it!)

Friday, September 23, 2005

My New Class

This semester has been great with school. My class this semester has been looking at pre-civil war African-American protest literature. The interesting thing is that this literature is largely unread by anyone--unless one's field is Black Studies. Even more astounding is that this literature is largely Christian in nature. For instance, in two weeks I will be doing a presentation for my class on a book called Sisters of the Spirit. This book features three gospel testimonies of former african american slaves. I am really excited about this class, and just the expansion of knowledge it has been.

So many people advocated slavery in the name of Christianity, but these educated african-american writers and theologians easily saw how evidently contrary these actions were to the gospel. It's a shame that many more didn't have eyes to see in that day--they were blinded by greed, among other things. It makes me wonder though...what are the issues that our churches are blinded to today?

Here is a quote from Henry Highland Garnet that I just read this morning.

Humanity supplicated with tears for the deliverance of the children of Africa. . . Slavery had spread its dark wings of death over the land, the Church stood silently by--the priest prophesied falsely, and the people loved to have it so.

What issues are we standing silently by today?

Climbing and Cycling

Yesterday was just a great day. I am already experiencing many of the joys that come with better physical conditioning and alternative travel. With the new bike, I can zip through areas near campus that would often leave me stuck in traffic during busy times of day.

I am also starting to feel my legs and my grip come back from climbing. We had four guys out for a climb at Sunset Wall yesterday evening, and we are planning another big excursion monday afternoon. It's starting to remind me of the good times me and my buddy Steve used to have when he first introduced me to the sport.

If it weren't for the biker unfriendly nature of Morgantown streets (and the hills everywhere) this would be a perfect alternative to driving. As it is, it isn't too bad though. I save money on fuel, I get exercise, and I am being a good steward of God's great creation in the process.

Cycling has been providing me with an added perk of solitude as I travel through town. It's good to be able to reflect a bit as I journey to and fro through town. Maybe more people will follow suit, and Morgantown will have some more biker friendly routes develop.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Cycling and Eating right

I took my new bike out for the longest ride so far yesterday. I rode out to Chestnut Ridge Church and back for a meeting. It's pretty cool, because I can really fly on this cycle, and my commute time to the church was only a few minutes slower than driving. Coming back was a different story because I am very untrusting of the cars along stewartstown road (especially near Bon Vista for anyone familiar with the area). Morgantown is not the most bike friendly area. Especially along the main roads. there is some gravel that is washing away along the edge of the roads--but that really isn't good for a bike. Plus, that's where people's broken beer bottles end up sitting.

Yesterday evening my roommate nic and I ventured up to Giant Eagle to get some healthy vegetarian fed chicken and other assorted good foods. Over the last month I have been making a conscientious effort to eat healthier and better balanced meals. As a result, I feel great, and I have been able to have more energy to put into the whole of life.

We also stopped down at the mountain people's co-op for some healthy trail mix and nuts, etc. If I do feel an urge to snack, I want to snack smartly--not with ho-ho's and twinkies (not that I have ever really been a fan of either of those vile foods).

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Back in the Swing

So...It's been a while, but I am back at the blog thing. I just got finished working out with my roommate nic this morning. It's a pretty good situation. I want to not be a slack, and he wants to be cut for his honeymoon. So we get up at 5:45AM, and lift for about 45-60 minutes on M, W, F. It's also a good thing because I tend to let my physical fitness go for the sake of other things that are often more urgent but not nearly as important.

I've also been cycling. I just got a sweet deal on a Giant OCR3, and I've been using that for virtually all of my commuting. I may even start riding it to work out in the future. Since I am rarely in the car with other people, and now that I don't travel to fairmont each week, I can be a better steward of the environment (and my body) by riding when I would drive, and walking when it makes more sense.

It's been pretty sweet so far. I need to look into a headlight for my bike if I am going to do any night riding though. The battery on my old one lasts about 30 seconds and goes out.

I've also been getting out and climbing/hiking with a couple of guys here and there. It's been a really cool way to connect and encourage one another, and it is just nice to get out and enjoy the woods too!

Last Night

Last night during Veritas, we talked about John 3:22-36. It's a pretty cool passage. The Baptist's followers were concerned that more people were following Jesus than John the Baptist. John's response was brilliant, he called himself "the friend of the bridegroom, and talked about how much he celebrated the arrival of the groom.

It's kind of like being at a wedding today. It wouldn't make sense for the best-man at a wedding to try to steal the bride as the groom shows up at the wedding. The best-man, and the groomsmen (friends of the bridegroom) instead are looking out for the bride, and are thrilled when the groom comes to wed his wife. John has the same response. In fact, he realizes that at this time his role is to decrease, and Christ's must increase.

Of course it makes total sense, John isn't supposed to wed the bride--only make sure she is ready for her groom. The Bible tells us that Jesus's bride is the church, the people of God. Isn't it cool that we can also behave as friends of the bridegroom as we serve each other and care for one another until King Jesus returns for His bride to rule?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


It's been way to long since I have blogged--I believe it has been nearly a month. My life has been fairly busy, but I don't think that it has been any more so than usual. I am not sure quite what happened. Wait, now I remember. There was a period of over a week that our house was without internet, and I found most of my time online focussed on gettting emails out and responding to those that were incoming. It is a bit ironic how easily we can cease in a good habit when the opportunity presents itself.

but I am back...Over the last few days I have been thinking about blogging, but the email I received today from my buddy Steve was just what I needed to get back on the blogging trail. I give my apologies to all who have been disappointed by the lack of activity here. This is such a good way to keep up with people, and I've blown it over the past few weeks.

We'll see if we can change the flow of inertia!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

trying to blog

So it has been a while since I have blogged, but in the last three weeks, I have...

Eaten Sushi--the raw kind
Helped a bunch of people move into the dorms
had more meetings than I would care to have in a year
started class--which is awesome
got a new student ID
spent much time in prayer
mudded, primed and painted a room
moved into my house (you may remember I was gone all summer)
cleaned my room
fixed my mountain bike, and started riding again
climbed rocks
had a leadership retreat
gave the first sermon of the semester
had a great open mic night at the Waterhouse (our building in downtown morgantown where h2o meets)
and...started back into fitness at healthy eating with my roommates.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

changing the world

I'm sitting planning out the semester, and a pre-semester retreat time for the small community of faith of which I am part here in Morgantown. In the cafe where I am sitting, I have been taking in a bit of the conversation taking place around me. It seems like times don't really change. In the first century, there were many people with many different agendas for changing the world. the same is true today.

Twenty feet from me a group of three women are working on a mission, vision, and values statement for a feminist organization they are starting to get rid of evil in the world. Their purpose is to expose the evils of different institutions and point to a better way.

Another person I just talked to was on a crusade against Domino sugar for destroying the everglades. Other people all around me are plotting out agenda's for their organizations and their communities.

In a sense, it makes me hopeful--that so many people are looking for the betterment of God's world. In another sense it scares me. How much are these plans I am developing similar to those plans being made all around me. I pray that I would be humble enough to submit any plans I am developing to God's greater plan. I don't want to find myself guilty of presumption with regard to God's purposes for our community of faith in Morgantown.

Please pray for me, and pray for God's redemption to break through in this community. He is the shaper of our destinies, and the source of all true life!

Also, take time to consider how your day is ordered. Who dictates your agenda for life--is it you? Or are you sumitting all of your goals and ideas to the Master of Life?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Long Day

As the day draws to a close, I feel fatigued and refreshed at the same time. Fatigued because the day has been long. Refreshed, because I feel like I was able to see so much of God at work in my life today, and I was able to engage in what he was doing all around me.

I love people. All that I did today was focussed on helping people to get a bigger picture of who Jesus is. In the process, I too received a bigger picture of who Jesus is.

It is no wonder that so much of our faith remains shrouded in mystery. Our God is truly overwhelming in His love. His beauty. His artistry. How could a person explain God. Explain the trinity. Explain an infant developing inside a mother in nine months.

Our God is truly amazing. I hope that as you read this you can reflect on the mystery and the beauty and the artistry of our wonderful Creator.

Abigail Ryan Cogar

Abigail Ryan Cogar, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.

I just met the most beautiful little girl the other day. I was able to see my old roommate's little 2 month old daughter for the first time. In the picture, you can see her posing on a blanket that my mother crocheted specifically for her.

As a single guy, I've tended to avoid a lot of interaction with wee children (as most single guys do). Partly because of the awkward way people look at you. Partly out of a reverent fear and awe of something so miraculous and beautiful.

Now, as a result of some work God has been doing in me, I don't want to miss out on fully appreciating little miracles like Abigail. When I visited, I held her. I danced with her. I sang to her. I talked to her. Children are so beautiful, and so delicate. I am so glad I am able to enjoy this wonderful gift from God.

If you are a person who avoids children, you are definitely missing out. It's cool to think that we as the people of God all share in the care for one another--including the infants and children of our communities.

Take some time and care for the infants and young people in your community. They represent the future of God's world.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Time in Parkersburg

Around 7AM Wednesday morning, I finished the drive from Mount Hope to Parkersburg. The last few days have been a whirlwind of meeting people and working out plans for the fall semester at WVU. It has been a pretty cool time, because one of the places I have been trying to pull away to work has been a great connecting place for some future WVU students who are interested in our campus ministry.

It has been really cool to connect with a few of the people who help make this ministry possible as well. One of my greatest joys in doing this ministry is that there are so many people who I know and care about who are prayerfully and financially supporting it. There is nothing better than teaming up with friends and family to be part of what God is doing in His world.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Surfing, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Well, I finally made it into WV late last night. I stayed the night at my good friend Sam Fisher's after a very productive and also very fun day in Blacksburg, VA.

Reality is setting in for me more surfing. This sport became one of the main ways I enjoyed Sabbath this summer.

It was also very informative too. The word surfing is used to describe a number of activities including perusing the web.

For me, the sport is exhilerating. I hope to be able to indulge in this rush whenever I am near the ocean.

Beyond this exhileration, I understand more about the water. Often we hear people talk about catching the next big wave. Until one has caught a wave, this metaphor isn't fully understood. There is a patience necessary to catch the wave. If you go to early, it doesn't break with you. If you go too late, the wave has broken before you can get in it. If you don't wait, you will settle for a mediocre wave, and the ride won't be nearly as enjoyable.

I wonder how many times in my life, I've been in too much of a hurry to catch the good waves. I hope as I grow in faith, I will more consistently catch the waves of the Spirit, and I will be able to more fully enjoy the ride.

Whether it be in the Atlantic, or the great oceans of faith--I know I love catching sweet waves!

For all who have never stood on a longboard as the wave carries you along the break to the shoreline--I hope you can understand.

Go catch some waves!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Journey Northward

Over the last couple of days I have been slowly travelling northward toward West Virginia. Along the way, I have been able to meet with many friends and share with them what God is doing in my life as well as hear what He has been doing in theirs.

I sat in traffic for two hours in Jacksonville Saturday, and an additional hour in Daytona to make a nine hour trip out of a six hour drive. I had the privilege of stopping in Columbia for the night to connect with Josh and Dana Kelly. It was pretty cool because, among other things we had pizza at "the mellow mushroom". We had the same waiter as we had during my stop on the way to Orlando. He remembered me, and we were able to connect a bit more. Turns out he is a musician, and has some stuff online--gonna try to listen to it soon and keep connected. Maybe it will be a future friend for the Kelly's in Columbia as well.

After breakfast Sunday morning at the Kelly's, I travelled to Charlotte, where I attended church with Sarah Nelms and her friend Jen. We had some pizza at Brixx in Charlotte, and I continued my journey northward to Virginia.

Sunday evening, I was able to meet and stay the night with my friends the Arringtons in Bedford, VA. We were able to enjoy both dinner Sunday night and breakfast at the Peaks of Otter monday morning. It was definitely a refreshing time of sharing.

After this, I journeyed to Roanoke, and spent the evening dining, conversing, and resting at Marc and Mandy Hinkle's new place.

Today I am meeting with folks in Blacksburg, VA, and trying to crank through as much stuff online as possible.

Goodbye Starbucks

Goodbye Starbucks, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Saturday morning commenced the long trek back to West Virginia for me. Before the last of us Mountaineers left O-town, we had to make one last stop in Starbucks. This was one of my stomping grounds for the summer, and a primary place of contact for meeting people.

Behind my right shoulder is Kateland. She was one of my favorite Barista's over the summer and a great new starbucks amigo! I made friends with quite a few staff, but she was one of the very few working when we left Saturday.


CocoaBeachBaptism, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
It's been a while since I have blogged, but it isn't because there's been little to say. Last Tuesday the space shuttle launched from Cape Canaveral, but a few hours before that something even cooler happened. I had the privilege of baptizing two of my friends in the Atlantic Ocean at sunrise. We were journeying into the water together as this picture was taken. We held hands as we journeyed into the water together (but then we body-surfed back in after the baptism!).

It was a beautiful morning for our LT community, and I consider it a distinct honor to be able to be a part of this step of obedience for these two young followers of Jesus.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

All Done

Earlier this summer, while talking with a few of the staff here in Orlando, I set a goal. The goal was meant to stretch and deepen my walk with God, and it was also meant to be a challenge to encourage others to take major steps of faith over the summer. This goal was centered on the sacred text. I committed to read the entire Bible before LT ended, and I finally finished. It was good to be so immersed in the Word over the summer. God brought a number of fresh insights into my life, and also gave me words that ministered to some personal challenges I have encountered over the summer.

I feel refreshed by meeting the goal, and I feel renewed by the cleansing effects of immersion in this sacred text.

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.--Isaiah 40:8

What a fitting text to read as this rapid journey through the sacred text comes to consummation.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Waiting for the rain to stop

I'm sitting in a computer lab in Orlando with four other staff right now. We have a lot of rain coming down. It looks like buckets. I figured I would leave a quick post while waiting for the rain to stop.

It's amazing how no matter how impervious we think we are to the elements, we still have our limits. I left my goretex jacket in the car so I can't use it right now. All of those proverbs about preparedness just came "flooding" in right now.

Everybody just left, but I am still typing. At least I have my trusty laptop. They've got some guts going out into this torrent, but they don't have laptops with them. That is key for them.

Its kind of funny how technology both enables us and debilitates us at the same time. If I don't have a cell phone, computer, or camera, I don't have to worry about what will happen to them when they get wet, but I also can't enjoy the benefits of them in the dry weather.

Well, those are some thoughts I'm currently having.

try to keep your powder dry

Monday, July 18, 2005

Enchanted Castle

Enchanted Castle, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
From the middle of the Magic Kingdom, Cinderella's castle begins to change color as twilight approaches.

Friday was truly a magical day with family--it's the first time in a long time I have been able to take a full day off with them. It is even cooler that I was able to bless them while they stayed in FL. I hope they had a magical and restful stay.

It was nice being able to bless them. They've worked so hard so that me, my brother, and sister, would have a better life than them, and now we are in a position to be able to improve their quality of life.

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
So much has happened over the past week...

My parents came to O-town to visit and look for a winter home.

My roommate (in FL) got engaged.

and...I visited four theme parks in one day with my parents.

We went to Animal Kingdom, MGM Studios, Epcot, and the Magic Kingdom. I pushed my mom in a wheelchair for 14 miles in temperatures that exceeded 106. I don't know what the heat index was, but I know it was a scorcher. I am so impressed with my parents--I can't believe we covered four theme parks in 1 day. Mom is 59 and Dad is 64, and I don't know too many people who are half their age who could be so energetic, but we were in the "magic kingdom".

Thanks to my roommates fiance, we were able to visit these parks for free--she gave us three complimentary tickets for all of the parks.

The week has been fun, and I am sorry to see my parents go, but we had a wonderful time. We even visited both coasts while they were here. I think the students in our LT program fell in love with them and vice-versa.

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Well, for those of you who have been praying with little if any idea of what you have been praying for...I figured I would post the letter I wrote to my tribe's tribal council last Saturday. It might give you some deeper insight into what you were praying for. Thanks for all of your prayers and words of encouragement, and thanks for being my friends.

To the members of the Tribal Council:

One of my greatest passions in life has been my heritage as a Shawnee. I have a great love for my people, and our common tradition. This passion has only been exceeded by my passion for the Lord Jesus, as it should be. Over the last several years I have had many wonderful memories with our people, in every season of the year, and in many locations. I have great memories of visits to Chief Crow’s house, to the Lawson family church, and many other points in between. I am extremely grateful for the memories we have been able to make together—the modern history of the Shawnee people has been written in my heart by the shared experiences of our lives.

For this reason, it is with a heavy heart that I write this letter, but I feel that it is my only recourse. I do not write it out of malicious intent, but out of strong conviction, and deep regret. I write it because I feel I have failed the Shawnee people who I love. I write it because I feel I have been unable to adequately carry out the responsibilities of my position. I write because it seems the only option left for me is to resign my position as Niishwo-t-okeema (2nd Chief or Vice-Chairman of the Tribal Council).

I am sorry that it has come to this, and I truly wish there was another way, but my tear-filled eyes do not see it. I do not feel that I myself, the secretary/treasurer, or the tribal council have the authority to carry out our respective responsibilities. Also, as a matter of conviction, there are practices taking place among those who are considered spiritual authorities which I believe neither reflect the Bible or Shawnee tradition. Again, I do not write this out of bitterness or malice, but out of a heart that desires to seek earnestly after God.

Beyond this, over the last few years there have been questions of my loyalty and my commitment to our tribe. I have continued showing up year after year in spite of remarks made about my commitment, my loyalty, and my faith. If anything, maybe I have been loyal to a fault, and maybe my commitment has blinded me to the unraveling of our commitment to the Lord Jesus, to humble, forgiving hearts of repentance, and to the deep love all once felt for each other.

I love you all very dearly, and this has been the most painful decision I have ever made. I pray that you will find a better replacement and that our tribe will experience revival. I feel great shame that I have failed our people and great sorrow for what has become of our once loving and safe community.

I understand that my position in the tribe is for life, based on good behavior. I also understand that my commitment to Grandfather God stands before all other commitments. As such, I can not continue serving in my position with a clear conscience while we as a people drift farther and farther apart. I’m sorry I could not stop this from happening.

If anyone would like to contact me with any further concerns or questions I would gladly invite this dialogue and would be honored by your concern.

With great love and a broken heart,

Billy Thunderwarrior Williams

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Hard Decisions

I hate making hard decisions. I really just despise making hard decisions. Right now I am facing one of the hardest decisions of my life, and I am scared. I am terrified, and I don't want to do the wrong thing. Please pray for me to be able to walk in the Spirit, follow the Lord's leading, and lay down one of the most important aspects of my life before the altar of the Lord. Please pray I will do the right thing, and that my actions will be used for the glory of God. I can't say much about it, but I am thankful for any intercession you can make on my behalf.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Blue Like Jazz

So, I flew from Orlando into one of the most beautiful days in Pittsburgh I can remember. As I flew, I read this book by Donald Miller called Blue Like Jazz. It is really cool. Not a deeply theological book, but very real! I have been debating giving it a read for about a year now, and it became "the book" for my flight back north. If you get a chance, give it a read. Don't expect to find any answers to deep theological questions, but you may find a tear or two welling up in your eyes at points. There may also be many laughs emited at other points.

Hey, give it a read.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Weekend Adventures

This past weekend was a little toned down for me--no surfing, no flying, no weddings. I lived a quasi-normal existence. It seems I am fighting some type of sinus problem so I have been a little out of it. I did make one pioneering move though in the area of my wardrobe. I bought a shirt from Banana Republic that is striped and some of those stripes are different colors of pink. It was super cheap, and I had some staff encouraging me to purchase on a miniature "fashion emergency". I wore it to a party Saturday night, and it got rave reviews. My roommates have gone on record to state that I'm probably the only person they know of who could pull it off. I seem to get that comment a lot about my attire.

I was hoping to make my annual pilgrimmage to Ichetucknee Springs this summer, but so far no-dice. We shall see what transpires in future weeks. My folks are coming to visit next week, so I am looking forward to that. It will be their first time in FL since 1986. Much has changed since then, I'm sure.

I will also be flying back north this week for a church planning time in Pittsburgh, PA. It looks to be another full week!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Back on the Court

Yup! Plantar Fasciitis didn't stop me tonight. But I did stink up the court pretty bad. Made a few friends in the process though. A couple of the guys I played against were deaf, and wow were they good ballers. It was fun to run a little bit, but I am really out of shape. Soooo humid down here. Five minutes after we started playing, you could wring the sweat from my West Virginia jersey (of course I had to represent!!!). Now I am really dehydrated. I am completely wiped. Thankfully I have two days to recover. I just hope I am good to go for surfing this week--I am jones'n to hit the surf for some fun longboard waves.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Mariah Keigley

You may be asking yourself who is this person? I would have responded the same way an hour ago. Mariah Keigley is a 14 year old girl who was recently murdered in the hills of West Virginia. After searching for a couple of days, her body was found in her home in Miletus. The story was covered in local news. I just read a second follow-up story that is even more disturbing.

I have had a hard time containing the tears since hearing this story and reading these articles. Mariah's story isn't the only one of it's type. Mariah's story is a reminder though. How often do we turn a blind eye toward injustice? What are we doing to prevent these things from happening?

I'm praying for God to help us be active in participation in His healing of the world. I'm praying that Mariah didn't die to make a headline for a day or two after her death. I'm praying that God would stir us to be awake.

I am really without words over what my friend shared with me about Mariah's story...

Recent Movies

The last couple of nights I have gone to see movies with some of the LT'ers here in Orlando. I saw batman begins Sunday night, and thought it was great. There was a powerful theme of combatting injustice, and that seems to be a theme I've been thinking about more and more lately.

He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

This theme of injustice was repeated in last night's film--The Longest Yard. It's a comedy featuring Adam Sandler. While I appreciated the theme of fighting injustice, I did not appreciate much of the humor (don't get me wrong there were moments). It seems like humor in films is moving more and more toward the crass, the coarse, and the filthy. Maybe it has always been this way, and I just never noticed, but I found myself a little disappointed in the film none-the-less.

With injustice being a common one in the films of the summer, what are some ways we might be able to jump into this aspect of God's story and be obedient to the verse in Micah in the place where we live?

Dance Dance Revolution

Last night I took the plunge and joined with a bunch of staff in Orlando for a little DDR competition. I am terrible. I don't know if you have ever played it, but it definitely has a brutal honesty to the game. Each time one of us would step wrongly, or time things a little off, the game would begin to boo us. (this happened too often for this Indian, so my game ended fairly quickly.) Instead of seeing the words Game Over, when too many mistakes were made, the word FAILED would show up boldly on the screen. I am still recovering!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Busy week

This last week has been very hectic, but fun. I officiated my first wedding on saturday, and drove to Orlando from Morgantown Saturday night. Sunday, when I arrived, I took my friend Cameron to a job training close to the orlando airport. I sprinted back to participate in a discussion with students about moral purity. The rest of the week was a whirlwind of special projects and an intense time of personal development.

I started to feel a bit of the "summer's almost over, what have I accomplished" stress. But I am getting through it. Took a trip last weekend to South Florida and visited/made a number of friends.

Yesterday, I shared with our project a little of the difficulty we experience in attempting to remain "unstained by the world".

This week looks to be better, and I look forward to getting back in the flow.

1st marriage

Saturday, june 18th, 2005. Brett and Amanda Jo Huffman were joined in holy matrimony. I officiated--can you believe it? From all that I heard, I even did a good job. It was a fun day for all of us, and I was definitely privileged to be able to be part of their special day. There is something wonderful about sharing in a day like this with friends like these two. It will be a day remembered for all of my life.

Wow, I love those two!

Cheat lake

Cheat lake, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
It was so nice meeting Brett and AJ's friends and family at the rehearsal dinner the night before their wedding. It was also nice to do so with a view like this.

I love seeing the hills and being enveloped by them. You don't see sights like this in Florida, but it does have its own beauty.

I still love West Virginia, My Home.

Summer Reunions

Whitney, Billy, Brittany, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
While I was in Morgantown, I had the privilege of getting together with a number of friends at my house. I also had a great opportunity to put the ultra-pod (min-tripod) my brother bought me to use to take this picture on my deck with my friends Whitney and Brittany.

I am really excited to see the new faces God is bringing into our community in Morgantown, and I am looking forward to the fall!