Monday, October 15, 2007

be hospitable...

I was reading an article this morning that was quite challenging. The article focused on the practice of showing hospitality --- not just "entertaining". Check out a quote from it below and tell me what you think.

In earlier issues of the Missional Journal I have discussed the need for us to speak the good news and embody it. In a culture of alienation, hospitality becomes a powerful means of incarnating the truth that God in Christ has welcomed us. Christine Pohl, in what is arguably the best book on the topic, writes: “In hospitality, the stranger is welcomed into a safe, personal, and comfortable place, a place of respect and acceptance and friendship. Even if only briefly, the stranger is included in a life-giving and life-sustaining network of relations. Such welcome involves attentive listening and a mutual sharing of lives and life stories. It requires an openness of heart, a willingness to make one’s life visible to others, and a generosity of time and resources” (Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition [Eerdmans, 1999], p. 13).

Particularly important for modeling the gospel is hospitality directed to those living on the margins—the poor, the handicapped, the infirm, the immigrant. Jesus actually warns against throwing parties for friends, family, or rich neighbors. Such hospitality may have more the character of commercial exchange than of gift. Instead he counsels inviting those who cannot themselves repay. In this, he says, “you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:14).

I will be the first to admit that such hospitality is a challenge to western Christians. Most of us have little contact with people on the margins. We are often too concerned with our own safety and security to provide a safe place for others.

The busyness of life also diverts most of us from effective missional engagement. The practice of hospitality is quickly experienced as an intrusion: “It requires one to stop a busy, demanding routine for a period of time and focus attention on the stranger for the sake of the stranger. . . . It is an act that forces us to confront how our lives are driven by agenda and by demands that push away any relational encounter with another” (Alan Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk, The Missional Leader [Jossey-Bass, 2006], p. 157).

The Missional Congregation: Practicing Hospitality

by David Dunbar

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

an insightful poem...

I've been doing a fair amount of reading, thinking and praying lately. In my reading, I came across the below poem. It really struck me as insightful. What do you think?

When my brothers were too young to be wise

When my brothers were too young to be wise
But too old to name things creatively,
They invented a game called:
Let’s take turns jumping off Tom’s roof
And throw the cat after the person who jumped.

At least they took turns…

Later, when my brothers were too young to be wise
But old enough to put their scientific knowledge to use,
They played a game called:
Let’s pour gas over this giant pile of weeds
And then light it on fire.

At least the doctor said
That their eyebrows will grow back…

Later, when my brother was old enough to be depressed
But too young to know how to cope,
He would play a game called:
Let’s go to Tom’s house and do a lot of drugs
And drink all his step-dad’s beer.
At least there was that one English teacher
Who asked if something was wrong…
But what could you say?
We are so poorly equipped to deal with these troubles,
And there are so few doctors of the soul these days…
What is there to do?
I know some people who fight it all their lives,
Kicking against the goads till they bleed to death.
Others, like Dad, ignore it,
Thinking that hard work, sunshine, and
The passing of time will resolve it.
Still others, like Mom, ostracize and cast blame
By leaving condemnatory, evangelical polemics taped
To your bathroom mirror.

But now my brothers and I are old enough
To begin to be wise,
Yet still young enough to climb the cold roof
To talk and to smoke.
So I will play a new game with you called:
Let’s get together and bear one another’s burdens.
At least I will not laugh at your pain,
I will not try to fix your problems,
I will not ignore your suffering
Or condemn you with my piety…
I will simply lie here next to you in the cold
While we breathe our smoky prayers to God.

-- Raeben Nolan

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

turning around...

"To repent means to turn around, to stop what you're doing and do the opposite. To repent means that even though you used to assume one thing was true, you now know it's wrong -- all wrong -- and you will now believe and act upon something totally different. Repent is a good, strong word, full of hope and new beginnings. In the context of Jesus' kingdom, repent is an invitation to another world, another life, a way of being that was supposed to be all along and can be now......
.....Repentance means that we choose to agree only with God's perspective. That He alone is God and He alone understands the blatant ways in which our own hearts deceive us. Evil that we will never notice exists in us and around us.... To repent is to say to God: "I'm blind. I don't see, but I want to. Please show me Your heart in everything."

Quoted from "This Beautiful Mess" by Rick McKinley

Monday, July 2, 2007


The time has finally come and the process is over. Alena is ours and we are back home. We honestly wondered if we would ever get to this point. It has been a 1.5 year journey.

The trip to Russia, the ten day stay, and the return trip went very smoothly. We hit a couple of speed bumps along the way, but God made sure it didn't delay the process. Our agency (ABC Adoption out of Kansas) has two representatives in Russia that are very special ladies. Natasha and Nadya took fantastic care of us and treated us like their own children. We will forever be grateful to them. There are many stories from the trip that I am sure I will write about in future posts.

Now on to Alena. We couldn't have asked for a better child. Alena is a true gift from God. She has a very pleasant demeanor and rarely cries. When i say rarely cries, i really mean rarely cries.....on the 20 hour trip back from Moscow, she cried a total of about 30 seconds --- then we figured out that she had to go to the bathroom. She is adjusting well to the new home and boys already. The boys really love her and enjoy entertaining her.

It's good to be back and we look forward to what God has in store for us as she grows. Thanks for all of your prayers along the process, God did make the path smooth.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

up and down...

tonight i went to see my dad. it was late, about 8:45 or so when i showed up. he was in his room laying in bed messing with the tv channels. i walked in and his face absolutely lit up. he was so happy to see me....this made me feel really, really good.

he wanted to go for a walk as we normally do and so we went downstairs and outside. we sat outside on the bench and talked for about an hour.

dad was so happy to see me until he finally realized that i wasn't taking him home tonight. once he realized this he was quiet and solemn. he told me he just wants to go home to fort wayne. i reassured him that i do not want him to stay there any longer that he has to, but we have to wait for the doctor to say it is ok. he told me that this makes him depressed. he feels helpless and alone.

this makes me sad.

i am not sure what it is, but i think tonight i just realized how much my dad means to me and how much i hate to see him in this condition. i know it sounds weird that i just realized this, but it just really hit me tonight. i miss my dad.

Monday, April 30, 2007


I have found a fantastic daily prayer to get my day started off right. It is from "Victory of the Darkness" by Neil Anderson:

Dear Heavenly Father, I honor you as my sovereign Lord. I acknowledge that you are always present with me. You are the only all-powerful and all-wise God. You are kind and loving in all your ways. I love you, and I thank you that I am united with Christ and spiritually alive in him. I choose not to love the world, and I crucify my flesh and all its passions. I thank you for the life that I now have in Christ, and I ask you to fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may live my life free from sin. I declare my dependence upon you , and I take my stand against Satan and all his lying ways. I choose to believe the truth, and I refuse to be discouraged. You are the God of all hope, and I am confident that you will meet my needs as I seek to live according to your Word. I express with confidence that I can live a responsible life through Christ who strengthens me. I now take my stand against Satan and command him and all his evil spirits to depart from me. I put on the whole armor of God. I submit my body as a living sacrifice and renew my mind by the living Word of God in order that I may prove that the will of God is good, acceptable, and perfect. I ask these things in the precious name of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

I find this to be a great reminder and level set for the day....

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

time and generosity...

Quoted from "The Rest of God" by Mark Buchanan:

Generous people have more time. That's the irony: those who sanctify time and who give time away -- who treat time as gift and not possession --- have time in abundance. Contrariwise, those who guard every minute, resent every interruption, ration every moment, never have enough. They're always late, always behind, always scrambling, always driven. There is, of course, a place for wise management of our days and weeks and years. But management can quickly turn into rigidity. We hold time so tight we crush it, like a flower closed in the fist. We thought we were protecting it, but all we did was destroy it.

i can't help but think of Jesus when i read this quote. he was very often interrupted and lived with the mindset that "people matter". i want to be more like this.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

emails and cell phones and IMs, oh my!

i am a very large user and abuser of technology. i love the convenience that comes with being reached anywhere, being able to reach anyone all the time, being able to just shoot off a message to convey a thought or idea. i use email, cell phones, and IMs each and every day.

with all of the convenience and availability comes a cost however. i am becoming increasingly aware of the fact that these good things, like anything else in life, can become abused and overused. i have often been proud to call myself a "man of moderation". i like to keep things balanced and not too extreme. if i am not careful, the very good things in life can become bad things just due to excess use and misuse.

one problem with the constant use of the technologies mentioned here is the "always on" mentality. as i become more aware that God calls us to live in rhythms that he has set forth (i.e. work six days, rest one) i realize that i am never really "off". i always have my computer and/or cell phone in very close proximity -- likely on my lap. this is not God's design.

one other issue that is very dangerous is the lack of full human interaction. we are told by experts that somewhere around 90-95% of our communication is non-verbal. if this is the case, we have the propensity to be misunderstood by our electronic messages. there are absolutely huge benefits to being able to communicate electronically, however, there are certain situations that may not be appropriate. i am convinced that God designed us to connect at deeper levels than we do. part of the reason that we do not is we are relying on 5-10% of our communication process that he has given us --- using electronic methods to communicate rather than face to face.

so, don't be concerned if you try to reach me sometime (likely a Sunday) and i don't answer my cell phone and don't respond to your email. also, if you hear me say "let's get together over coffee", you'll understand that i am trying to work with God's help to apply what he is laying on my heart.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Our Russian Princess

Alena Katerina Svetlana Maley

We've just returned from "trip one" of a two trip process to adopt our daughter. She is a precious 17 month old girl from Ivanovo, Russia. We will be making a second trip to in May to bring her home. We are very excited that God has allowed us the privilege of going through this process. The fact that it mirrors the process of us being able to become adopted children of God is amazing. This is shown in the verses:

Rom 8:15-17
(15) So you should not be like cowering, fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God's very own children, adopted into his family--calling him "Father, dear Father."
(16) For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we are God's children.
(17) And since we are his children, we will share his treasures--for everything God gives to his Son, Christ, is ours, too. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.

The trip to Russia was a good experience. We look forward to being able to bring her home and make her part of our family. We appreciate your prayers and support.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Time is something often talked/quoted about; “Look how time flies”, “Time is just standing still”, “I’m just killing time”, “time is of the essence”, etc, etc, etc….i’m sure you can come up with more. I’m always blown away how it is human nature to look back in the past and wish we would have “spent” our time differently in situations. Often I find myself doing this….sometimes it is deeply disappointing. I may look back at a day and wish that I spent more time cherishing the moments with my wife and children. I may look back at the week and wish I would have spent some of my work time more appropriately. I may wish I would have taken the time to work out or play basketball. Most often, however, it goes back to wishing we had spent more quality and quantity time with the ones we love.

Most people that take the time to read here likely know what is going on with my dad. He has had an accident and has been in a coma for the last 12 days. Things have been pretty stressful because it has been an emotional roller coaster through the whole process. If you want more details about what is going on, go HERE.

As I think back over the last couple of months, I recall several times that I really stopped to enjoy my dad’s time and company. He often likes to show off his knife collection and decided to do so for the 5th or so time to me. At first I remember thinking, “I’ve already seen all of these, what is he thinking”; however, there was another voice that said, “enjoy your time with him”. Boy, I’m glad I listened to the second voice. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to him tell me about his Case, Sheffield, Buck, etc, etc, etc… I recall another conversation that I was able to have with dad on the way to the hospice center where my grandfather had passed away. It was a 30 minute ride each way, and I remember thinking how sweet of a time it was. He told me about how proud he is of each of us kids and how he loves my kids (his grandkids) to death. He was just beaming when he spoke of my kids. This makes me happy. He told me that he knows that he hasn’t done all the right things in his life, but he really loves the Lord. I am thrilled that I got this “time” with my dad.

Time is a funny thing. We use it up like it is unlimited. Unfortunately, it is not. There is a limit to the time we are given and every week that goes by, we have spent 168 hours doing something…..was it worth while? If the thing that God has always wanted most is “relationship”, did I spend my time building it with him and others? With dad in the place that he is right now, I sure do think a lot more about time – and the lack thereof. I just hope that this isn’t a temporary reflection that I lose sight of after all of the drama.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

about me..

So, it looks like blog tagging is making it's way around. I have been tagged by my brother-in-law mike crawford so i have to write five things that you probably don't know about me. This will likely be difficult since there are probably only two people in the world that actually read my blog and they know much about me. Anyway, here goes:

1) I had a nose job in college. Yes, it's true, extreme makeover style. Actually, my college roommate, dave hoffman, broke my nose during an intramural basketball game.....I had to have surgery, so they made me a new man :)

2) I once had a dog named peaches when i was a very young child. my dad thought it was possessed so he had it put to sleep...that had to do some long term damage to me.

3) Lynnette (my wife) and I will have been together for 20 years this September 17th. i think that i am finally starting to understand her...barely (no fault of hers, i'm just dense)

4) I once got in trouble (grounded for a month) in high school for putting a brown paper bag of dog poop on a girls porch and lighting it on fire. the idea was to have the people stomp out the fire and get their feet dirty....great plan eh? anyway, evidently, i was seen leaving the crime scene and was called by the parents of this girl at my home....needless to say, my parents weren't too excited...

5) I got to go to Korea for work once....for 2 days....I got to go to Brazil for work once....for 2 days....If i could do it over again, i'd push the issue and get a couple of extra days because the travel time to each of those places was longer than the stay.

Well, that's enough about me. Hope you learned something. You can now go check out the following guys, as they have been tagged:

Josh Longbrake

Kelly Byrd

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

thinking back..

I received a flier in the mail today that had pictures of a student from Blackhawk Christian School (my old school)that passed away in 1992 of leukemia. His name was Greg Hindle and his passing had a pretty profound effect on the school. The flier was a reminder of the "Gregory E. Hindle Memorial Endowment Fund". I was glad to get it as i didn't even know it existed.

One of the pictures in this flier showed Greg sitting in a bathtub at school (fully clothed of course). Those of you that read this that are from BCS in the "old days" remember the significance of the bathtub. For those that aren't aware, one of our teachers -- Tom Cashen -- had an old bathtub in his room. We as students were allowed to sit in it occasionally as he read books from C.S. Lewis to us.

Tom had a profound effect on me an many other students.

He consistently encouraged us to LIVE OUT what we believed, not just believe it.

He would do things like come into class with his robe, slippers, messed up hair and coffee while acting out how he wakes up in the morning and opens the Bible. This visual still sticks with me today --- i have also taken on the habit of rising early to open the Word largely do to this.

Tom figured out long ago how to connect with kids and "LIVE OUT" his faith in the workplace. He used to be the driver's education leader and used that as a forum to connect with kids in the car. He still connects with kids today -- not in BCS -- but in the public school system. He has been a great encouragement to me and I hope to be the same to others.

Monday, January 1, 2007

routine, study, change...

Holiday breaks can be the best of times and the worst of times. I often find myself getting out of my typical routine and therefore spending less time with my savior. You would think that the “extra” personal time would turn into quality/quantity time with God, but it never seems to. Over the past couple of days, I have been reflecting on how little time I actually spend studying and pondering the words of God. This reflection makes me sad.

Like any other logical man, I started thinking about what the cause of this is so I can fix it. So what did I come up with? Well, two things came to mind that need to be addressed. 1) things and circumstances are taking up mindspace with the absence of “meditating day and night on His word”; and 2) spiritual disciplines in my life have gone down the toilet. Specifically, the disciplines of mediation, prayer, and solitude are what I am referring to. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that #1 is pretty reliant on #2.

Evidently it isn’t enough that God is pressing this issue on my heart heavily over the past couple of days…..I show up at church and Mitch (one of our teaching pastors) talks about wisdom and how to get it. In his message he talks about submitting our intellect or mind over to the thoughts of God. Once again (he does this several times a year) he encourages us to read a chapter of proverbs per day, a chapter in the NT and three in the OT….I guess God is trying to get my attention.

What I really want to do is study His teachings daily and dwell (meditate) on them throughout the rest of the day --- this will address both of the above issues…I know that I don’t want to make it about how much I read that day or getting a checkmark on my “biblical checklist”, but I do know that there is something about the steady, constant, disciplines of meditation, prayer, and solitude.