...thoughts expressed here are not necessarily final.

June 21, 2004-- 30 Year Class Reunion (pictures to come)

Amazing- has it been that long? In some ways it seems so, in others, it doesn't. Thanks to all the folks back home that made it happen. Earnie and I danced more than anybody there I suspect... those lessons paid off. We had fun.

I was surprised how nervous I was in preparing to go to it- am I still that much of a respector of men that I still compare myself to others? Kinda dumb, I know. In worldly terms I am as successful as the next person. In godly terms, I know I am continually putting off the old man. I am not the person I was then, self consumed, driven, pharisaeical. I think maybe the nervousness had more to do with the hopes that what Christ has done in me these past thirty years would somehow show forth to his glory. And then it dawned anew that Christ must be trusted even for, especially for, THIS.

The happy couple having fun...

Then I forgot about me and started concentrating on old acquaintences. I was able to be myself and enjoy hearing from others about how their lives have gone. It didn't bother me, in fact it was a relief that only a couple of people asked me about ME. It's a relief to learn that people are not nearly as interested in how interesting my life has been as I am. :-)

It was very special to see that one of my oldest and dearest childhood friends is extremely happy in her marriage and has a couple of wonderful kids. Or young adults, I should say. One is serving in Iraq, in the volunteer army, and it will be a priority to pray for his safety.

Right: A conflation of Birthday card humor and Gary Larsen.

Some of the class was ready to go home- it was after their bedtime at 9:30! I figured if my Mom's class was celebrating their 50th reunion down the hall I sure wasn't going to hang it up before THEY did!

I was able to reconnect with a few other dear old friends as well. Several people at my table were related to me- (not a surprise) but it was great to see my old friend Barry, He was best man at my wedding and time and distance and God's call on my life had set us on separate paths. Here we are with his twin brother Garry who was also in out wedding. It really is true that it seems with some people you can pick up right where you left off. Well, maybe not REALLY, but it's nice that it seems that way.

What a gift of grace, and there is much to gain from the practice of remembering the precious lives God puts alongside you wherever you are on the path.

I was also a bit surprised that in the address book we got less than ten percent have moved out of state. But then again maybe that's why thy had THOSE addresses and not others. Hmmm...

June 22, 2004 Commentary on recent reading:

Gene Mims says in The Kingdom Focused Church, “The kingdom focused church will develop myopic vision concentrating primarily on the three biblical tasks of making disciples, maturing believers and multiplying ministries.”

How about developing a myopic vision for the Glory of God? That only comes by being a surrendered, transformed, holy people who are lost in wonder, awe, and grace.

I saw a Bobby Welch quote recently that paraphrased says, “the church has no problem that more evangelism won’t solve”.

I would have to respectfully disagree and say that the church has a bigger problem- that it is worldly and unholy and an affrontery to the nostrils of the Lord. Any attempts at evangelism will be inauthentic if the world sees we are talking God talk and not walking the walk of righteousness. We love our toys more than we love holiness. We’ve grown wise in the ways of the wilderness and don’t even recognize it or, worse yet, wink at the notion when we do recognize it. All you have to do is listen in the hallways or the Bible Studies to the topics of conversations to hear that your local church is not exempt from this problem.

In my humble opinion, the problem is not only with those in the evangelical church who have abandoned the role of the more sure word and powerful proclamation and declaration of the Kingdom . Even many of the church growth gurus who DO give lip service to the value of expository preaching are, in the end, no less guilty of hubris and disengenuity when they make statements like ““In a kingdom focused church, the emphasis is on the result and how to meet your people where they are spiritually.”

It is NOT just about results as defined in the book. We are ministers first and foremost to God , and as we become living sacrifices all bets are off in how God will define us as a church.

I thought the emphasis should be on making much of Christ and displaying his all surpassing greatness for the pursuit of the joy of serving Him. Meeting people where they are spiritually is, in the end, missing the point- we know what is the perfect acceptable will of God by being transformed into the likeness of Christ, not from being met where we are spiritually.

Mims' models are Saddleback, Southeast Christian in Louisville, Willow Creek, Fellowship Church in Grapevine, FBC Daytona. All of his models are megachurches, which make up an incredibly small percentage of churches. Is there not an inference that if we follow his plan we can become a mega church too, and that Kingdom churches are on track to become megachurches?

I cannot find where Mims validates his claims on solid evidence. How do we know these church models are growing Kingdom Christians?

I know members of three of these; Earnie was Counselor for Southeast Christian Academy, the school run by SECC as the plans were being drawn up for the megachurch move in the late eighties. I have family who are members there too. I have friends in Grapevine at Fellowship and at Saddleback and have known former members of Willow Creek.

For all the apparent successes, they also recount struggles that are all too familiar- great breadth but serious concerns over depth, and a ratio of tares to wheat that do not make their scenarios sound all that promising. Any one size fits all model based on the megachurch theme is fairly sure to disappoint.

The Genessee Diary by Henri Nouwen. Leapblog through Jordancooper.com

Much to ponder here, much to change in my life by the Spirit. I thank God that articulate men like Nouwen write of things that dare to bring my own paradoxes into the light to be dealt with decisively. The examined life requires perpective.

"While teaching, lecturing, and writing about the importance of solitude, inner freedom and peace of mind, I kept stumbling over my own compulsions and illusions. What was driving me from one book to another, one place to another, one project to another? What made me think and talk about "the reality of the Unseen" with the seriousness of one who had seen all that is real? What was turning my vocation to be a witness to God's love into a tiring job? These questions kept intruding themselves into my few unfilled moments and challenging me to face my restless self. Maybe I spoke more about God than with him. Maybe my writing about prayer kept me from a prayerful life. Maybe I was more concerned about the praise of men and women than the love of God. Maybe I was slowly becoming a prisoner of people's expectations instead of a man liberated by divine promises. Maybe... It was not all that clear, but I realized that I would only know by stepping back and allowing the hard questions to touch me even if they hurt. But stepping back was not so easy. I had succeeded in surrounding myself with so many classes to prepare, lectures to give, articles to finish, people to meet, phone calls to make, and letters to answer, that I had come quite close to believing I was indispensible.

When I took a closer look at this I realized that I was caught in a web of strange paradoxes. While complaining about too many demands, I felt uneasy when none were made. Whle speaking about the burden of letter writing, an empty mailbox made me sad. While fretting abou tiring lecture tours, I felt disappointed when there were no invitations. While speaking nostalagically about an empty desk, I feared the day when that would come true. In short: while desiring to be alone, I was frightened about being left alone. The more I became aware of these paradoxes, the mroe I started to see how much I had indeed fallen in love with my own compulsions and illusions, and how much I needed to step back and wonder, "Is there a quiet stream underneath the fluctuating affirmations and rejections of my little world? Is there a still point where my life is anchored and from which I can reach out with hope courage and confidence?"

While realizing my growing need to step back, I knew that I could never do it alone. It seems that the crucial decisions and the great experiences of life require a guide. The way to "God alone" is seldom travelled alone. For me there was little, if any, question about the need for guidance."

Heaven (and economics) in Henry County

Kentucky farmer and essayist Wendell Berry talks about what makes people happy. An interview with one of our favorite sons, Wendell Berry.


"The gospels, and sometimes the epistles, are pretty revolutionary. They propose a revolution of about 180 degrees."

"Any religion has to have a practice. When you let it go so far from practice that it just becomes a matter of talk, something bad happens. If you don't have an economic practice, you don't have a practice. Christians conventionally think they've done enough when they've gone to the store and shopped. But that isn't an economic life. If you take seriously those passages in the scripture that say that we live by God's spirit and breath, that we live, move, and have our being in God, the implications for the present economy are just devastating. Those passages call for an entirely generous and careful economic life."

From the personal weblog of Anthony Foster @http://anthonyfoster.com/blog/