Monday, June 29, 2009

South Ridge Church

Yesterday, I had the distinct pleasure of seeing and talking with several friends as I visited South Ridge Church, in Fairmont, WV. If you are looking for a church in the Fairmont area, I highly recommend this little faith community. They've been at it for about five years now, and the community has grown TREMENDOUSLY in the last five years. South Ridge Church has a gret community of small groups, awesome youth programs, and great messages that help people understand and apply the scriptures to their lives. SRC was started when a team of people from Chestnut Ridge Church, led by my friend Seth Broadhurst, stepped out in faith to care for a new community.

I shared a little bit about Nuru during the church's Mission Sunday. As Seth introduced me, it brought me to tears. He could have just introduced me as a friend who was going to talk with folks about Nuru. Instead, he told about how God used me to help him grow with God nine years ago. I had no idea the significance of my impact on his life.

And the truth is, most of us rarely realize the impact we have on other people's lives. In the lobby, a gal by the name of Twyla came up and introduced herself to me. We went to Governor's Honor Academy together MANY years ago. She recognized me, and told me how great it was to see me there serving. She works at my former employer, Mylan Pharmaceuticals. As we talked, and shared a little bit of our respective life journeys/adventures, she pointed across the room to her husband, Brian. And then she nearly brought me to tears as well. She said, "That's my husband over there. He just got saved about 18 months ago. Seth led him to Christ. Thank you for pouring into Seth, because God used your friendship with Seth to reach my husband with the gospel."

I was floored. I had no idea. We rarely do have any idea. I wonder how many people we all impact in significant ways through our care for other people. Here was a guy who I had never met in my life, and yet, we were connected through God's work in my life, in Seth's life, and in Twyla's life (and many others). No wonder Paul said, "One plants, another waters, but God causes the growth."

My friends at South Ridge had a profound impact on my life yesterday. They were an encouragement that I can't put into words. They were a reminder that the little things we do can have significant impact beyond what we see presently.

As you go about your work today, as you go about your relationships today, I want to ask you to be considerate of one thing. Love. Love deeply. Care about the people you are serving. Whether those people are family, co-workers, or customers. Speak the truth in love. Take time for them. Be mindful that your work, your time, in whatever you are doing, is NOT insignificant.

God has blessed each of us with wonderful people made in His image that we can love them and love Him. May you walk in that love. You may never see the impact of that love in this SUPER SMALL segment of our eternal lives, but WOW! When we pass from this life to the life eternal, what rejoicing and delight there will be as we see the fruit of our love, and even more so, the GREAT OBJECT of our love, Love Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wrong side of the road

Just passed through Louisville and got this sweet picture of a bridge.
It wasn't the image I was hoping for though.
What I wanted was a sweet picture of the Ohio river.
I love rivers, and the Ohio is my favorite. Probably always will be.
But being on the wrong side of the road, I missed this potential pic
of the river and got a bridge instead.
And so the travel continues... May you find yourself enjoying the view
whatever side of the road you are cruising along.

On the road

After three humid days at a conference near the gateway to the west,
our team is now making the return drive to Almost Heaven.
Usually when I travel, it happens with a frequency that breaks any
habits I start while back home in Morgantown. This time was different.
I was able to continue to eat healthily and exercise each day.
Usually the limited selection of food and time for exercise derails
positive habits, but as I awoke each morning I was reminded that God
didn't give me a spirit of fear (or laziness) but of power, love, and
self-discipline. That can be a huge motivational truth wherever you are.
No matter where you are or what you are going through God has given
you self-discipline.
May you walk in this Spirit today wherever you are. These are my
thoughts from the road.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

River Water

For the next couple of days, I will be staying in the gateway to the West, St. Louis. The photo above was actually taken over two years ago on a similar trip for a conference out here. The water on the Mississippi is much higher right now. In fact, much of the area below the trees appeared to be underwater as we drove by yesterday.

It's kind of wild to look at a river, and think about the flow of the water. I live near the Monongahela River, and the water that flows past Morgantown goes into the Ohio. The Ohio River starts in Pittsburgh, and travels past where my best friend in the whole world, Willie grew up, and on down past where many people in my tribe lived, and goes past my dad's house in Parkersburg. And then, that water, travels around Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois as it makes its way to the Mississsippi, a little south of st louis.

All of that water is constantly traveling, and it stays it's course. That water that runs in Morgantown, eventually makes it's way near St. Louis. It's hard to imagine in a world of planes, trains, and automobiles that travel by water was once a fast and convenient way to travel.

There's a lot that can be learned from river water. It's pace is steady. It's goal is clear (even amid it's twists and turns). It has a power to carve through the landscape and leave an unforgettable mark on the land it covers, as well as the land that surrounds it. Maybe you can think of some other lessons too?

Regardless, may you be purposeful in your flow today as you impact the landscape around you, and may you have a positive impact at that!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hunger for God

Over the last few months, I've been slowly working through one of the best devotional prayer books I have ever read. The book is actually set up to walk you through it's pages in eight weeks, but it has taken me closer to eight months. Maybe that means I have just attempted to do WAY too much over these last few months. I'm slowly working my way through the final parts of this book. It's called Developing Intimacy With God. I know, catchy title. Every time I've opened this book, it has guided me through some powerful encounters with God. The week by week practices have challenged me, and I have been striving to spend a few weeks on practicing the concepts that emerge in this little book.

My friend JR Woodwardrecommended this book to me a year ago, and I'm immensely grateful. I was wrestling through a big life decision, and I was looking for guidance, and my friend recommended this book as an aid to growing in my awareness of God's direction in my life.

So as I was reading a wee bit today, I came across this quote, and it made me think about my tendency (and I don't think I'm alone), to indulge in treats of various types as part of my dietary habit. The quote is actually from an article written by a guy named Cornelius Plantinga. Here it is.

"Self-indulgence is the enemy of gratitude, and self-discipline is usually it's friend and generator. That is why gluttony is a deadly sin. The early desert fathers believed that a person's appetites are linked: full stomachs and jaded palates take the edge from our hunger and thirst for righteousness. They spoil the appetite for God."

After this quote, Alex Aronis, the author of the book says, "By experience, we know that culinary pleasures have a seductive power. They can take over and choke the word. (Mark 4.19).

Perhaps there is a connection between our general spiritual malaise in the West, and our indulgent lifestyles. I've thought about this a few times before, especially when considering verses of scripture like Ezekiel 16.48, but it's just been impressed on my mind again, so I thought I'd share it with you.

As we go through our day, may we all learn the self-restraint it takes to resist indulging in a culture that flashes alluring indulgences at every turn, and may we at the same time grow in our hunger for the Creator of the Universe.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Iphone 3.0 Software Released

I was recently given an iphone by my best friend in the whole world, Willie, and I am mesmerized by this little phone like contraption. It's an ipod that plays videos, and it's a phone. It's also a web browser, and it's able to accomplish a number of other amazing tasks.

With the latest advance in the software, it also includes a number of new applications and is making life with an iphone even more amazing.

Last week also marked the release of a brand new iphone, but for now, my recently gifted iphone has plenty of features to distract, er uh, make my life more simple and streamlined.

If you have an iphone, I recommend connecting your iphone to your computer and downloading the update. It's like opening your iphone again for the first time.

Now, if only Morgantown's 3G network would get established, then this iphone celebration would be complete--at least locally.

Family Meal?

This past sunday, a group of folks from Chestnut Ridge Church's college ministry got together for a small 'family' meal at Rio Grande #3 in Morgantown.

I took this picture for a few reasons. One of the foremost is that I don't know of many restaurants that would be able to accommodate a party this large (I think there were nearly 30 of us sitting together). A second reason is this. How many groups of thirty people do you know who would want to sit down and enjoy a meal together? A third reason is simply to capture the many conversations that were all happening at the same time around this table. People are totally engaged in one another's lives.

To me, it's a beautiful reminder of the fact that in Christ, our family has extended beyond our immediate bloodlines to all of those who call on the name of Jesus Christ. It's a reminder that even our nationality is now more intimately connected to the Kingdom of God than any particular earthly government or culture or tribe. And more than these, it's a great reminder of the feast we will one day enjoy with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

May you take some time in the near future to trully enjoy the community of your extended family in Christ. Consider the nations that this family includes, engulfs, and transcends. I hope you also can enjoy a 'family meal' like this on earth before you enjoy the GREAT BANQUET MEAL.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

John Piper's Jam From Twitter

Not gonna make this a lengthy blog entry. Much like the video I shared yesterday, this one speaks for itself.

But I will write a "few" words. Sometimes it is easy to get so caught up in enjoying the gifts that we forget the giver. I can remember times when I was a little boy, I would get presents for Christmas or my birthday, and I would get so caught up in enjoying them and playing with them that I never took time to show my appreciation for my parents who gave the gifts.

Sometimes, I think we are that way with God. I mean there are whole belief systems built around what we can "get" from God. God is infinitely generous and merciful, and while He treats us far better than we deserve, He is the greatest Gift of all.

Wherever you are today, I hope you can take a moment to reflect on the abundant provision God has given you, in HIMSELF.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


My friend Dave Williams shared this short film about parking validation with me. Well, it's about parking validation and so much more.

If you've got a few minutes, watch this video. I hope it brings a smile to your face, and inspires you to bring joy to others.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Why I Tweet

And what is tweeting anyway? Tweeting is both what a bird does (some of them also hoot and make other calls, but that's really not what this post is about. This post is about the rise of social media (like this blog), facebook, and of course twitter in the way people communicate, share ideas and the like.

This past weekend, I had two people point out this BRILLIANT John Piper article about why and how he is using social media. I highly recommend reading it, and more than that, I recommend considering how God may want to uniquely use the mundane activities of your life to bring Him glory and inspire His worship. In the article, Piper says that He believes that because God intends to use all things for His glory, that things as seemingly trivial as twitter are not an exception.

I would have to agree. When I first signed up for twitter in May of 2008, I thought, "this is it?", "this is what all of the hype is about?" I really don't see the point. Over the last year though, as I've experimented with the media more and more, I'm seeing it's benefits. I've seen a number of people, organizations, and even news channels begin to use the media. I've seen a mix of self-promoting entrepreneurs, and straight-up garbage mixing in with the world of twitter and other social media as well.

While it would be easy to write off such disembodied pursuits like twitter and facebook as a waste of time, I tend to disagree. As I write this, I think about all of the different things that people twitter about. While these social media forms are no substitute for face time with real people, there are some pretty amazing things that I'm becoming attuned to through twitter.

For instance, because I follow International Justice Mission's twitter, I was able to discover that they had a partnership with a coffee company that gave 100% of their coffee sales revenue to IJM for the month of May. That's pretty phenomenal. Also, because of these media (as I have blogged before), many friends were able to send words of encouragement and support when my dad suffered a heart attack.

There can be a tendency to shy away from new media because of the potential negative effects it might have. That happened with radio and with television in the past. And there is definitely a fair portion of garbage on the web as well as television and radio. But if and when you and I blog, or twitter, or facebook, or whatever the next thing is, we have an opportunity. We have an opportunity to be a message of hope or to point people to good things that are happening in this world. We can tell people about God, we can encourage folks to smile for a moment, or we can even bear one another's burdens in new ways.

I tweet for all of these reasons and more. Part of it for me is an opportunity to encourage others toward good things that I discover while sailing the waters of Spirit and Life. Part of it is to share new insights about life, and maybe an adventure every now and then. Part of it is to stay connected in ways and with people that I now live far from but who I care about very much.

But, my hope is all of it helps people grow in their joy, their peace, their patience, their love, and so much more.

And as you read these words today, I hope you will consider how you use not just 'social media' but all of your resources for the glory of the Creator of the Universe. For from Him, through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

David Carradine Died Today

Every day, the people I follow on twitter help me see many things going on in the world I might otherwise miss (and in turn, miss sharing with you). Today, my best friend Willie just informed me that David Carradine died.

Apparently, some people are saying it was suicide. He was in Thailand and he was found hung in the closet of a luxury hotel room in Bangkok where he was in the middle of production of a new film.

In the early 90s, I used to watch old re-runs of the TV series Kung Fu. I dabbled in the art, and so I definitely thought Kwai Chang Caine was among the coolest characters on television. I even bought Carradine's memoirs entitled "The Spirit of Shaolin". There was something about his character's humility that many, including myself, found appealing. He was an itenerant servant who traveled the land on foot, looking for work, and aiming to help those who were in trouble. Who wouldn't find such a character appealing.

And though I look back on those memories of watching that TV show fondly, my mind moves toward concern now for his family as they must be torn with grief at their loss. May the Spirit of God grant them the things they need most in this moment of broken-heartedness and mourning.

Lawson Reunion

The photo above is of a bluegrass group known as Lawson Reunion. These folks are an incredible group, and aside from our mutual love of bluegrass music and Jesus, we are also members of the same American Indian tribe. Many of these folks have served on our tribe's tribal council faithfully for years, and the entire family is incredibly talented musically.

So why am I writing about Lawson Reunion today? I'm writing about them because I heard they are the headliners at a music festival called the hard times acoustic festival that's happening in southwestern Ohio. And the whole day festival is only three bucks. As the promotion sign reads, "Fun for all ages . . . even if your dough flow is slow." If you are living in Southwestern Ohio, hearing Lawson Reunion alone is worth it, but the event is an all day affair. And if you are a picker or a grinner, bring your instrument for an open jam at the end of the night! The location is the Johnson Farm. Not sure where that is? Try entering this address into google maps. 2610 Camden-West Elkton Rd Camden, OH.

I'm really excited to see some shawnee people launching out successfully in this world. I've been proud of the Lawson's for a long time, and it's an honor to be able to share a little bit of what they do with you. Again, if you live in Southwestern Ohio, and you enjoy bluegrass music, I feel like this festival would be a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Why 40 years?

Earlier this morning, I was trying to find some information about the length of time it would take to make the journey from the Red Sea to the promised land for Israel (apparently it would be about a month if you made a direct route), and I found this video about a hiking trail running from the red sea, through israel, and ending at the border of Lebanon.

Of course, we all know it took about 40 years for Israel to make the journey, and during that time God led them by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Why would God be so inefficient with time. I mean Israel gathered everything and left Egypt in the night. They moved so quickly, they couldn't even wait for their bread to rise. So why would God have people take such a long time in the wilderness.

The big answer is God is about a relationship. He's about a relationship with each one of us, and with all of us together. He's about us learning to live together, and he's about us learning to trust Him. Imagine the level of trust you might have if God had delivered you without going hungry, growing thirsty, or letting your clothes and shoes wear out in 40 years. Maybe you would know His love in a greater magnitude than you would if you had walked through the wilderness in a month.

God takes time with us just like he took time in Israel. Relationships take time. People take time. Tonight, I'm supposed to talk about the idea that God wants more than just Sunday at our 17three college and post-college summer event tonight. I think maybe part of the reason why we see such a breakdown in our families and a lack of commitment in our relationships in the west is because we have grown so independent of one another, and soooo busy, that it is hard to take the time to walk with and care for another human being. Sure, we all like the idea of loving others, but when it comes to actually doing it, it's another story altogether.

I wonder how many teachers get their degree only to find out that every student doesn't just want to learn everything they have to share. I wonder how many nurses study their field because they love the idea of helping people, but then find that helping people isn't all that easy.

THis week, take some time from the business of your schedule, and prioritize other people. Actually physically be with them if you can. Sit down with someone and have a meal. Talk to each other. Go and care for the sick, the downtrodden, and the broken hearted.

Go and learn through a relationship what it is like to love and to trust. And of course, spend some quality time with God. God took forty years to cultivate a loving and trusting relationship with Israel. Give God your time, and grow in your trust of Him. As you do, you will find your capacity to love and grow in the trust of others will increase as well.

And, as John Piper points out in the video below, people are simply fascinating. They are made in the image of God, and they are filled with little interesting nuances that reflect that image to others. Take time to make some time for others.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

American Journalists Held In North Korea

Two american journalists working for Al Gore's news organization current are awaiting trial in North Korea for crossing the border from China along with other "hostile acts." They were taken into custody in mid March, and their trial is set to begin this week.

The leader of North Korea has recently tested a nuclear bomb, and has also begun testing a series of short range missiles, and this has had the international community in an uproar.

As I think about the fate of these two courageous young women, I'm reminded of the severe injustice that permeates this planet. I can't even begin to imagine what it has been like for these two young women. Here in the states, we take for granted that we won't be thrown into prison or taken to trial for the things we write or say.

Here's a little more of the story of these women, and how they are potentially being used as political bargaining chips. Mind you that these are human beings who are made in the image of God. They aren't bargaining chips, they are people, people with families!

As you read this blog, I want you to be mindful of the injustice that is all around you, and even the injustice that lies within you. May you begin to stand up for those who are victims of injustice, and as you see yourself tempted to execute any type of injustice, may you yield and ask God to give you the strength to seek justice.

Please pray for these women, and the many more who are detained unjustly in different parts of this world.

Happy Birthday To My Dad!!!

Ok, so the picture is a couple of years old, but it is still my dad. Yesterday was my dad's 68th birthday, and because I'm a knucklehead, I didn't take any pictures of him while we were together.

But, it was still his birthday, and he has still walked this planet for 68 years. And when I say walked, I mean it. Until about a month ago, my dad walked twelve miles a day. But, he had a heart attack about 5 weeks ago, and has been on the road to recovery since then.

Right now, he is walking a mile at between 20 and 22 minutes. I know a lot of people my age who would have trouble walking at that pace. Yesterday, he walked three miles during the course of the day. Of course these distances were broken up a bit, but he's still walking, and he's getting out and about.

Among other things on my dad's birthday, I was able to cut a bunch of limbs out of one of the trees he has in front of his house--it was a lot, so I hope it gets taken by the refuse truck.

I haven't been able to see my dad as often, so each time I see him, it is readily evident that he has made huge strides in mobility and strength. I can't believe that just five weeks ago my dad had his chest ripped open (twice) and veins removed from his leg to bypass his old arteries in four places!

It was great spending time with my dad, and getting some exercise in with him as well. Since it was his birthday, we allowed for a little cheating on his heart healthy diet (he's officially starting this thursday, but we've been slowly making adjustments), and we had a little Dairy Queen dipped cone action. It was a delicious way to wrap up the day, and I look forward to seeing how much further along he is the next time I see him.