Friday, December 30, 2005

Rob's Place

Rob of the Orangejack blog has a new web address. He is now located here. Link. Nice looking blog Rob!

I can't believe you thought Michigan would beat Nebraska on the Bowl Mania pool! I guess that is as stupid as me believing Colorado would knock off your Clemson Tigers. Oh, well, so far it has been a fun pool. Who is in first place?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Finding God In The Land Of Narnia #1

I just started the book Finding God In The Land of Narnia by Bruner and Ware. I zipped through the introduction this morning while on a short break. Wow, is it ever an incredible read (I don't ever remember saying that about an introduction before!) . I am a pretty right brain dominated person, I guess I don't have a creative bone in my body (call me boring). So, I haven't thought too deeply before on how a persons faith can be linked to fantasy. I guess it is a natural link, but I didn't understand it much before. C.C. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were certainly gifted and I have enjoyed their works for years. They created so many opportunities to explain the gospel in new and creative ways that people who are insensitive to religion and Christianity can absorb.

I want to push the limits and explore the possibilities of explaining the gospel in new ways over the next year. I suppose many of those who live in a right brain world won't understand, but I have a feeling the world is a lot more left brained that I am.

On page xv in the introduction the authors use a quote from Lewis that I loved. It states,

Some people seem to think that I began by asking myself how I could say something about Christianity to children; then fixed on the fairy tale as an instrument; then collected information about child-psychology and decided what age group I'd write for; then drew up a list of basic Christian truths and hammered out "allegories" to embody them. This is all pure moonshine. I couldn't write in that way at all. Everything began with images; a faun carrying an umbrella, a queen on a sledge, a magnificent lion. At first there wasn't anything Christian about them; that element pushed itself of its own accord. It was a part of the bubbling.

This reminds me of another favorite quote from a Pastor friend, "Too many pastors prepare so hard to preach a sermon. Prepare your life and preach from your life".

Maybe sometimes we just try too hard to push the gospel to the point it becomes an unnatural part of ourselves. It should flow out of us naturally as the Lord fills us.

I'm looking forward to making my way through the book, it sounds awesome.

Resolution Thoughts

Last night as we were worshipping the Lord our worship leader said something that made me reflect on New Year's resolutions. He said, "Let this song be our New Years resolution for 2006." After thinking about it for a while I agree. Here goes:

Lord prepare me to be a Sanctuary
Pure and Holy, tried and true.

With thanksgiving I'll be a living
Sanctuary for You!

I can't think of a more meaningful New Year's resolution for 2006.

But, in addition, I will still do the meaningless, selfish, pointless task of establishing resolutions that are measurable sometime during the next week. Have a great New Year's Day.

Just for grins, here's a list of my goals for 2005. They came out of my posts from last January. Link, and Link. I didn't do very well in attaining them. An even mixture of accomplishment. The ones in Green I accomplished, the ones in Red are still in progress:

My Goals for 2005:

1. Family:
Develop deeper relationships with my wife and kids:
- Start a weekly family Bible study
- Marilyn: Have a night/lunch out with Marilyn at least twice per month
- Matthew: Go with Matthew to Student Life Camp. Support him better at Boy Scouts (Although I supported Matthew he is in the process of dropping out of Boy Scouts)
- Bethany: Take Bethany to lunch monthly

2. Faith: Take the love of Christ to the unchurched:
- Find a compassion oriented organization for The Gate to partner with for student ministry projects
- Continue to direct The Gate student ministry
- Continue to pursue church planting directions. Become an ordained minister (I am on the way; I get licensed next month) and an approved Acts 29 church planter this year (in progress, but not complete)

3. Physical: Take better care of my body:
- Average at least 10 minutes per day exercising. Be able to run the Scott Air Force Base running trail loop (6.5 miles) nonstop by August 1.
- Stop eating ice cream after 6:00pm. I can't go cold turkey on ice cream, but I can limit my intake.

4. Community: Foster relationships in the real world and in cyberspace:
- Average at least 1 blog entry per day. (I only have 91 so far this year)
- Continue developing a deeper relationship with the brothers and sisters in the Acts 29 network

5. Intellectual: Make a major push to complete my PhD:
- Complete my PhD dissertation by Christmas 2005 (I am sadly very far behind)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Digital Cartography (Map Making)

Here's a good article on about map making in a digital world. Link. It is a little bit different from what I do for a living, but the principles are still the same.

Christmas Vacation?

When we moved to Illinois 11 years ago it had been a long time since we lived in a neighborhood. The last two places we lived (Dover, Delaware and Sacramento, California) we lived out in the country with plenty of land and not many neighbors, and we loved it. But at that time we didn't have any children. So, when we moved to Illinois we had two small children and we thought for their sakes, and against our own desires, we should move into a neighborhood so that they would have an easier time building friendships as they grow up. We looked in several neighborhoods and finally found one we thought was good. And to top it off it was in the school district of the top rated elementary school in Illinois, Wolf Branch Elementary School. The elementary school taught students from grades K-8 and then passed them on to the local high school.

Wolf Branch is a great school with some wonderful teachers. But one of the reasons the school district was rated so high is because they pile on the homework.

The neighborhood has grown quickly and two years ago, right across the street from the elementary school Wolf Branch Middle School opened. My children moved right across the street, along with about half of their teachers to the middle school. The middle school has had a couple of problems with misuse of funds by the administrators (like purchasing PalmPilots for every student and then realizing the students can cheat by using the IR beaming function and as a result not handing the PalmPilots out, but keeping them in the book storage room) but in general it is the same high quality education that we found at the elementary school. Unfortunately, along with the teachers the pile of homework followed the students across the street too.

I am not against homework at all, but the school has gone way overboard. Almost every night I come home from work and my wife and I spend from dinner until bedtime helping my son and daughter with their homework. It has gotten to the point where I am seriously questioning my ability to finish my PhD dissertation. This year on Christmas vacation my son has been inundated with projects that are due the day the students return from school. I'm sorry, but it isn't much of a vacation for the students or the parents if there is 4 hours of homework to do every night even when school is out.

Anyhow, I am ranting. but if you can't rant on your own blog where can you rant?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

2006 Bible Reading Plans

Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

One of the programs I have participated in for the last 10 years is the Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan. Discipleship Journal has several plans to either read the entire Bible in one year or to read the New Testament in a year. I will be starting another reading plan on New Year’s Day and wanted to invite each of you to participate. Nothing replaces in-depth Bible study and prayer for growing and deepening your walk with the Lord and increasing your knowledge of God’s will, but I also enjoy the daily reading programs to help me get a better overview of how the Bible is written and how it flows together into one story, a love story of God’s love for us. I once read that the average Christian only reads 2 chapters of the Bible per year, so it is no wonder that we get chewed up and spit out by the world when we try to relate our faith to those living around us.

This webpage includes highlights of the plans that Discipleship Journal offers. They are all free and downloadable off the web:

The main plans Discipleship Journal offers are:

1. The 5 x 5 x 5 Reading Plan located at:
This plan is a New Testament reading plan that only requires 5 minutes a day for 5 days per week. If you haven’t tried a Bible reading plan before or have never committed yourself to reading the Bible daily this is a good plan. It requires minimal amount of time to make it through the New Testament.

2. The Book At A Time Reading Plan located at:
This plan takes you straight through from Genesis through Revelation in a year by reading 6 days per week, two readings per day. It requires a little more time and dedication (3-5 chapters per day), but still helps keep you on track. The plan is printed out on a paper and folded to insert into your Bible.

3. My favorite and the one I will do again next year is the Original Bible Reading Plan located here:
There are PDF and Word versions for you to download. The Original Plan gives you four readings per day; one each from Old Testament, Psalms, New Testament, and Gospels. The amount of reading is also between 3 and 5 chapters per day. The plan uses 25 reading days per month, so there is time to get caught up if you fall behind. I like this plan because it keeps me fresh from reading from four different places.

One of the cool things about the Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plans is that they are dated, so if something happens and you miss a few days you can pick right back up and start the program again.

Take care and God bless you as you begin the journey into god’s Word. If you care to join me please let me know in the comments section below and we can keep a running dialog going all year.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Part 2

As I said in an earlier post FBC O'Fallon rented a local movie theater and we all went to go see the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Thursday night. It was a fantastic time. I've read several reviews on the movie and most of them are very positive. The symbolism of Aslan as a Christ sacrificing Himself for our sins, and his subsequent resurrection was wonderful. But even if you don't have a relationship with the Lord this is an awesome movie to go to.

1) The plot of good versus evil is well played out. Although both the White Witch's and Aslan's forces are made up of animals that have quite unusual traits, such as Tomnas who appears to be part goat and part human, the animals of Aslan's forces seem to act and live much more consistently humanlike than those of the White Witch.

3) The costumes are incredible. I expect that The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe will win several oscars for costumes.

4) There is some violence, but it isn't overdone. It is part of the plot and is necessary in the development of the movie. Aslan's death and the final battle have some violent scenes in them.

5) The scenery is fantastic. My wife now wants to move to England! I have lived there a couple of times for short stints, and it is beautiful. Marilyn has been there once, and loved it, but she now believes that it would be a great place to live again. This is a major step for Marilyn, as she has never wanted to live anywhere else but here in the US.

I highly recommend this movie. But, I also recommend you do what my kids did before seeing the movie. They both read the book and it helped them underdstand and enjoy the movie even more.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


With final exams going on this week at McKendree College our collegiate ministry didn't meet last night. So, I had the opportunity to speak to our church's Junior High youth group (called 610) last night. I spoke on "The Life of a Spiritual Salt Shaker", which was a sermon on missional living taken out of 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Matthew 5:13-16 targeted at the Junior High age level. I was very encouraged being in the same room with so many on-fire young believers. They really want to reach their friends with the message of the gospel. I was lucky enough to spend a week of my vacation last June as a leader at Student Life Camp with this same group and some High Schoolers also. They will be a great group to pass the leadership baton to as they begin their lives of service to the Lord.

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

Our church has rented out the local movie theater for us to all go together and see The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe tonight. The tickets sold out in a day. I haven't read the Chronicles of Narnia series since I was in college and I am looking forward to going tonight. My kids are excited, they have been reading the series and love it, and the critics are saying good things about it. I'll let you know how it goes in a post tomorrow.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Free WiFi Hotspots

Thanks Yahoo for a good article on free WiFi hotspots. Here's the link. Link.

It is good to see Panera Bread/St Louis Bread Company get recognition for providing free WiFi. I visit there all the time and have had a link to their site off to the right for over a year. I love holding ministry staff meetings there, it is such a great place.

Here's a link to a good free WiFi hotspot finder. Link.

Erin, they even have Canada listed. Is there a location near you?

I don't see The Gathering at First Baptist O'Fallon, Illinois listed. We will get The Gate listed as soon as we have WiFi installed.

PS: I just sent WiFi Freespot an E-Mail to add The Gathering.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

A Short History of Thanksgiving

The following exceprt is taken from General Duncan McNabb's (the Commander of the US Air force's Air Mobility Command, where I work) Thanksgiving message to all Air Mobility Command troops. It gives a short, one paragraph, history of the Thanksgiving Holiday.

....Thanksgiving Day was first observed at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. In subsequent years, states set aside one day in the fall to commemorate the harvest until 1863 when President Lincoln made the last Thursday in November the national holiday. His Thanksgiving Day Proclamation intended to heal the wounds of the Civil War and it remained the day for giving thanks until 1941…when Congress decreed that Thanksgiving would be on the fourth Thursday of November. This day affords us an opportunity to give thanks for all that makes this nation great....

I find it interestering that the first National Thanksgiving Holiday was intended to preserve the union!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Back Home

Well, I am back home after another week long trip. The good thing about traveling are all the wonderful people you meet. The difficult thing about traveling is the time spent away from family and friends.

I had an opportunity in Spokane, Washington to spend some time with an old high school friend who is a church planter there named Kurt Bubna. Wow, what a great family Kurt and Laura have. They have some wonderful kids and have experienced a flurry of weddings this past year. Their family is doubling at a very quick rate. The church Kurt pastors is Eastpoint Church in Spokane Valley. Eastpoint has been meeting for about 3 years now and has 900 regular attenders. They have rehabilitated a vacant K-Mart in a strip mall and are doing great work. It is pretty exciting to see what the Lord has done there in such a short amount of time. God is really blessing their ministry.

It was so good to finally get home and see the family again. I missed them so much.

I have one more trip the first week of December to Las Vegas, Nevada. After that I will be home for a couple of months. I need the time to catch back up with my family and complete all my house projects I have lined up. It was a good trip, but I was more than ready to get back home!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Traveling Again

Well, I'm on the road again. I think I have only been to church once since mid September due to my traveling schedule. I spent November 1 and 2 in Las Vegas helping write some Air Force Regulations on how we visualize the battlespace. My company provides some solutions for the Air Force that are kind of Google Earthish in nature. The solution is called GeoBase. We help the Air Force visualize our US installations and those overseas that we may want to use in the future. It is a wonderful capability that save us lives and time in evaluating where we want to beddown our forces when we do expeditionary (new overseas locations) operations.

This week I am in Tacoma and Spokane, Washington, visiting McChord and Fairchild Air Force Bases. I evaluate their GeoBase programs and provide help if any is needed. It has been a lot of traveling since September, but I only have one more trip planned this year.

I will be back in Las Vegas December 3-8 for the Air Force's Installation Mapping and Visualization Council Meeting. The trips to Las Vegas are good times because I get to visit my brother Steve and his wife Tracy. Steve has cut his hair and they both look very good. Anyhow, I'm looking forward to seeing them again next month. Then I have no more trips scheduled until late January.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Another Big Game

I'm looking forward to the Nebraska-Oklahoma game this coming Saturday. Neither team has had a great year, so I believe Nebraska has a good chance to beat Oklahoma Saturday. Go Big Red!

Traveling Thoughts

It has been a long and exciting week of traveling. I spent Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday in my old stomping grounds of Fayetteville, North Carolina. Fayetteville is the home of Ft Bragg and the 40,000 paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division. It is also the home of Pope Air Force Base. I was stationed at Pope from 1982 until 1988 and I hated every minute of it. Fayetteville is the roughest town I ever lived in. The town and the base look a lot better now than it did 17 years ago when I left. Just to show you how bad it was when I left in 1988, my MBA thesis in 1987 was "The Reduction of Prostitution in Fayetteville, North Carolina 1977-1987". It was a fun topic with no shortage of police case studies of busted "Prostitutes" and "Johns". Fayetteville had the highest per capita murder and rape rate of any U.S. city over 100,000 in the 1970s. It is nice to see they really did continue the cleanup of the town. The downtown prostitution area burned down to the ground and they built the new police station and county government building on top of the remains of the most notorious strip bar in town, Rick's Lounge. That is one way to clean up the area. It has really changed.

I have spent Wednesday and Thursday in Charleston, South Carolina. I will be flying home tomorrow. Charleston is a very nice town, but I'm sure I wouldn't like the weather so much in July or August. We spent a nice evening eating dinner at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company in downtown Charleston. It was a wonderful meal in an incredible old historic town. I was impressed.

I fly out tomorrow and then hit the trail again on Monday afternoon and will be in Las Vegas, Nevada on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I am tired of traveling this week and will really be tired at the end of next week. It will be great to see my brother Steve and his wife Tracy in Las Vegas. I haven't seen them in about 3 years. At least I will be able to spend some time with family while I'm gone away from home.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Everyone Welcome Here!

Thanks Erin for letting me know that the comments section of my blog was restricted to "members only." It must have been a new setting that Blogger added. Well, it is fixed now and everyone is welcome to comment! I still have the word verification program turned on due to spamming commenters. It is easy to use and only takes a second to have your comment posted.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Blown Out By Missouri

I watched the Missouri-Nebraska game today. It was a great game for the Missouri Quarterback Brad Smith, but not so good as day for Nebraska. Living in St Louis we hear quite a bit of press on Brad Smith, and he sounds like a wonderful kid. Oh well, there is another game next week. I still think Nebraska will end up going 10-2 or 9-3, which is so much better than last year's 5-6 mark. On to Oklahoma next week for another test!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Go Big Red!

I come from a long line of Nebraska Football junkies, and I fall right in line with the family tradition. This is a big weekend for Nebraska football. Big Red is 5-1, and if they can beat Missouri tomorrow the SEC and Big Ten biased media will have to admit that Nebraska is back. They may not be winning games in a pretty style, but they are winning none-the-less. I think they have the capability of closing out the season on a winning roll and end with a record of 10-2. If they can beat Colorado they could be in the Big 12 Championship Game and face either Texas or Texas Tech. Although they only lost to Texas Tech by 3 points I'm not sure playing either team in the Big 12 Champtionship Game would be a good reward for winning the North Division. Oh well, my alma mater UCLA still looks to me like they will be the only team to beat USC!

Hello Again!

I feel awful. I haven't blogged in so long! It seems like whenever I am home I am so busy at work that I hardly ever have time to blog any more. I am leaving on Sunday for a trip to Fayetteville, North and Sumter and Charleston, South Carolina for a week followed up by a week's trip to Las Vegas. I should have plenty of time to blog the next two weeks. My two favorite teams in baseball, the St Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Angels, both lost in the last round of the playoffs, so although I will watch the World Series games while I'm gone, and cheer on the home state White Sox, I won't be glued to the tube. I'm hoping for some quiet evenings with some time to blog, devour the Word of God, and work on my dissertation.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Secular Bible Text Developed For Public Schools

Yahoo had the following link to a Christian Science Monitor article. Link.

I'm all for studying the Bible in puiblic schools. In fact I took a Bible as Literature class at the community college I attended. But, it is a very hollow feeling for a Christian to look at the Bible as purely literature and not the inspired Word of God. And it is very frustrating when the professor or teacher doesn't agree with your view on the Bible's authority and inspiration. The Bible is worthy to be studied as an incredible assembly of literature, but it is so much more than a good read.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Dad's Health: An Update

My Dad continues to improve slowly. I talked to his wife Sharon yesterday and the doctor told him that the reason he was vomitting was due to a viral infection. He appears to be doing better physically. He still is not doing well as far as memory and disorientation. They have been referred to a neurologist for him to undergo testing to see if he has an onset of dimentia or alzheimers. His memory has been fading over the last few years, but we have written it off to aging. Maybe it is more than that, so it will be nice to know. But, for now his health has improved to the point where he is not in critical condition. I will continue the updates periodically. Please continue to pray for him, Sharon, and our family. It was a scare with the possiblility of a stroke, but now we have a little more time to work with. You just never know when the Lord will be calling you home, and it is sobering when you realize you don't have any control over the end of your tiime on earth. Please don't wait until it is too late to trust in Jesus Christ. Do it now!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Dad's Health: More Progress

I talked with my Dad a little bit today and he sounded fairly coherent, but tired. He said he was feeling better, but that he has a lot of things wrong with him. He wasn't very forthcoming with information. I have a suspicion that there is something major wrong with him and he is afraid to tell us. I'll keep probing. But, it was good to actually talk with him today.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Dad's Health: A Little Progress

Well, my Dad had a little better day today. He ate a little more and spoke a couple of more words. He still seems disoriented, and is very shaky, to the point that Sharon must feed him. But, he is making a little progress. Because he felt a little better today they did not go to the hospital. They will visit his doctor on Monday and she will probably admit him for more tests.

I am still worried about him, and I think it was either a stroke or a very quick onset of Alzheimers. Either way the prognosis isn't good.

Please pray for my Dad, his name is Dick. Please pray the the Lord gives strength to both him and his wife Sharon as they go through this. And please pray for the salvation of both of them. They both attended church at times in their lives, but neither one has ever given their life to the Lord. I have been praying for their salvation daily for about 10 years, but it is never too late.

Thank you for your prayers.

Friday, September 16, 2005

My Dad's Health

I got a phone call from my Dad's wife last Saturday and she told me she was taking my Dad to the Emergency Room. He had bee vomitting all day and was very shaky. They couldn't find anything wrong with him other than his upset stomach so they released him. I have been trying to call him all week and would get Sharon, but she said he couldn't talk because he wasn't feel up to it. The last two days I haven't been able to get through. Finally I got through this afternoon. From what she told me today it sounds a lot worse than she told me at first. It sounds like my Dad might have had a stroke. He has been vomitting all week, has only said 2 words since last Saturday, is shaky, and very disoriented. They will be going back to the hospital tomorrow for more tests. Please pray for his health and for all of us surrounded by this situation.

A 30 Year High School Renuion Shocker

As you can tell from the last post, this hasn't been a very good week. Last night wasn't a good time either.

I haven't had too much of an interest in High School reunions. But, this year marked my 30 year reunion. I live in St Louis, about 2000 miles from the high school I graduated from (Crescenta Valley High School in La Crescenta, California), so I didn't attend, but have had some wonderful connections with my old classmates through E-Mail and our alumni webpage. In particular I have gotten to spent time with Mark and John a summer ago and have had a flurry of E-Mail traffic come through from my fellow Fremont Elementery School alumni. They are a great group of people.

But, last night I was looking through my alumni webpage and noticed that a favorite friend of my named Nancy had passed away. I knew Nancy from Junior High and High School and we had attended church together for many years while we were in school. I was a bit troubled by the write up about her on the alumni page.

Nancy was one of the sweetest and most caring people I knew. But the In Memoriam write up said,

Sadly, Nancy passed away in January, 1995, shortly before our 20th reunion. Since learning of her death, it's haunted me that I couldn't help her. If only I'd known of her troubles, I might have been able "be there" for her. So, this is my way of "being there". Nancy was a lovely, kind-hearted person, who gave of herself. As a very talented artist, she saw the world through, perhaps, different eyes, but eyes that saw and interpreted the world beautifully in her art. She was a free-spirit, but down-to-earth in many ways. Nancy had a way to make you feel "better", like everything was going to be OK. And it usually was. Unfortunately, Nancy made some choices that eventually took her away from all of us. She will forever be remembered for the dear person she was, and her friends will hold close to them always, the memories of the true angel that she is.

This doesn't even sound like the same Nancy. So, last night I E-Mail one of my freinds, the one who wrote the in memoriam and asked him what had happened to Nancy. Larry told me she had passed away from a heroine overdose. I was floored and am still floored today. This can't be the same person I went to church with and thought was so sweet.

Apparently Nancy had met someone that she later married that got her into all sorts of things I could never have imagined. I am left speachless. How does someone who walked the Christian walk abandon all that they stand for and end up perishing from a herione overdose? How does someone ruin another persons life, a person they love so much that they marry and plan to stay together forever, so completely?

I guess I'll be pondering these questions for a while. I didn't sleep much last night after hearing Larry's explanation of what happened. If you have any words of encouragement please leave them here in the comments for all to see.

I praise God that I know I am secure in my relationship with Him, but hearing this scares me for the type of life my kids will grow up living. They love the Lord, like Nancy did when I knew her, but it is hard to think that this could happen to them. It kind of shakes your world.

I Used To Be A Fervent Christian

"I used to be a fervent Christian". This is the second most disappointing statement I have heard in a long time. It came right after the most disappointing one.

A week ago our ministry at McKendree College hosted a good friend and a dynamic brother in the Lord, Phil Nelson. Phil is the collegiate evangelism strategist for the Illinois Baptist State Association. He is so bold in the faith and shameless in his witnessing that I feel convicted about my lack of witnessing every time I am around him.

Before our Thursday night service Phil and I had dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Dr Jazz in Lebanon, Illinois. A lot of the students active in our collegiate ministry work at Dr Jazz. Last Thursday we were served by a young lady that had been to our ministry a couple of times last year. One of Phil's callings is to make Jesus Christ an issue in every setting he is in. He also never wastes an opportunity to try to get people to refocus on their relationship with God. So, after we finished eating he asked our server his first questioin , "I am a campus minister and I always ask, If you were to die tonight where would you go?"

Knowing that the server had been to our ministry and had heard the Gospel explained last year I knew she would say, "I'm going to heaven." And she did! I was very proud.

Phil's next question is, "Why do you believe you will go to heaven?"

Knowing that the server was well trained last year the few times she attended our ministry I knew she would say that she believes she will go to heaven because the blood of Christ her Lord covers all her sins.

What was her reply? "Because I have done right with most of the people that I come across."

What? I couldn't believe I heard her say that. She thinks she will go to heaven because she is a good person? To hear that out of someone you have taught Bible Study to is shattering. It was the most disappointing statement I have heard in a long time. It made me reevaluate what I have been doing and whether or not we are reaching students with the proper message in our ministsry.

Then Phil askes the server if she has any religious affiliation. And her reply? "I used to be a fervent Christian." Another horrible thing to hear.


"Because there are just too many hypocrites in the Christian faith," she responded.

Phil did what I thought was an excellent job in explaining to her that her relationship with the Lord is a personal thing and she shouldn't let the hypocracy of others get in her way of pursuing a relathip with God.

I was floored, maybe I take the ministry we do at McKendree too personal, but it really shook me last week. We can't make students believe in the Lord and we can't force them to make a commitment to Him. That isn't our responsibility. Our responsibility is only to present His word. I guess I took comfort in one of my favorite passages,

Isaiah 55:10-11:

10 For just as rain and snow fall from heaven, and do not return there without saturating the earth, and making it germinate and sprout, and providing seed to sow and food to eat,

11 So My word that comes from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please, and will prosper in what I send it [to do]."

Praise God that if we present His word it will not return empty!

I know that the server at Dr Jazz will be running this scenario over and over through her mind the next few weeks. And I know that because of Phil's obedience to witnessing she will be pondering her future. Praise God for the faithfulness of servants like Phil.

Thank You Erin


I owe you the world's biggest apology. I am terribly sorry and deeply embarrassed that I haven't pass on a word of thanks yet for the tea and the encouraging note. Your envelope came while I was on vacation and when I returned I was immediately immersed in a new semester at the McKendree College Baptist Collegiate Ministry and then leading the Air Mobility Command geographic information support for Hurricane Katrina. I walked into my kitchen at home last night and began shuffling papers around and uncovered your envelope. I felt terrible. I can't believe it was covered up for nearly 2 months! I guess it shows what a state of panic I have been living in lately.

Anyhow, I read the incredible note, brewed some wonderful tea, and relaxed for a few minutes last night; exactly what I needed. Praise God I have a wonderful friend like you. Please accept my apology and a heartfelt belated wish for a happy blogging birthday!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

This Week At The Gate

Thanks to all of you who came out this week to help us kick off a new year at The Gate. We appreciate the great turnout.

Wednesday Night we had a super Bible Study with Emma leading us in "Being Real With The Lord." Thanks Emma for a wonderful evening dedicated to knowing what it means to be truly broken before the Lord. It fed right into Thursday Night when Phil Nelson came and shared with us about our responsibility to make the Lord an issue in each class we take and use our lives on campus as an opportunity to tell others about our Lord. Thanks Phil for a convicting evening. I came away knowing that I haven't taken my responsibily to share Christ as seriously as I should. I let way too many opportunities to make Christ an issue slip by.

Please join us this week. Here's what we have planned:

Monday Sept 12:
Men's Bible Study at 8:00pm at Mike Cheeseman's Apartment in West
Women's Bible Study at 8:30pm at The Gate

Tuesday Sept 13:
Prayerwalk at 6:30am in the McKendree Quad

Wednesday Sept 14:
Bible Study at 7:30pm at The Gate

Thursday Sept 15:
Bible Study at 7:30pm at The Gate
Lounge Worship at 9:00pm at The Gate

The Gate is located at 225 N. Monroe St, Lebanon, Illinois. Here's a link to a Yahoo Map of the Gate. Link.

Visit our Blog located at for the latest information on meeting times, events, and news.

I hope to see you this week. God bless you all.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Help

Hey everyone,

Below is an E-Mail from Serena Butler of the Illinois Baptist State Association to the BCM Directors. She is planning a hurricane relief trip during Christmas break. Please see the details below. Please keep this in your minds as you plan for your vacation.

God bless you

Rick Marshall

Subject: Hurricane Relief and Mission Trip
Date: Tue, 6 Sep 2005 10:38
From: "Serena Butler"
To: BCM Directors

I hope that the first two weeks or so of school are going well with you. On top of regular things that students deal with at this time, they are now feeling the effects of Hurricane Katrina. I have several students from my group at ISU that have been effected by family members losing their homes and not knowing where to go for help. One student was planning to begin seminary at New Orleans in January, so his plans have changed.

Many of you may know that I took a group of students to Florida over Christmas break to help with cleanup after the hurricanes of last year. I have received several emails about a trip to the Gulf Coast this coming Christmas break and am in the process of planning such a trip. If you or your students would like to go, or would like more information, let me know. There is a strong possiblilty that we could send several teams to different places if there is enough interest.

By now you should have also received some bookmarks to help with promotion for Axiom.

If you have specific prayer requests, please let me know so that I can intercede for you.

In Him,


Friday, August 19, 2005

Thoughts on Google Earth

Well, just incase you haven't heard of it before, Google has unveiled the BETA version of its latest product Google Earth. What an incredible program. It takes us a step beyond MapQuest and Yahoo Maps. Although it doesn't provide the same level of detail as MapQuest and Yahoo for driving directions, it does provide some great information that is wonderfully designed. Instead of providing maps it provides digital imagery for those who may want to visualize the world in a little more real fashion that the static maps provided by internet mapping tools.

Google Earth is also supported by the Google Earth Community. The community provides support, news, archives, data searches, and a bulletin board. As of August 19 there are already over 83,000 members. The community can be used for posting.

Why do I like Google Earth so much? Google Earth is a very valuable visualization tool. I can describe to someone how to locate my house, and I can direct them to MapQuest or Yahoo Maps to see the street and address structure, but the best way to find my house it to provide someone with a visualization of where my house lies in relation to other things (houses, intersections, landmarks). It provides someone who is looking for my house with some situational awareness while they are out looking for my house. Google Earth does this much better than any other mapping tool I have found.

In my current job as a consultant to the US Air Force we are creating a product very similar to Google Earth, but it is designed for the Air Force to visualize its installations and the battle space. Imagine a 3-D version of Google Earth with real time aircraft traffic, weather, and installation data on it. An aircraft can depart from an Air force installation and you can follow it as it transits the world. When it comes close to its destination you can zoom in to find a deeper level of visual and annotated detail on a seamless, integrated image. That is similar to where we are headed in the next couple of years. What I do isn't Google Earth, but a similar product. It is a very powerful tool that senior commanders will use to visually remain aware of all the thousands of moving parts in the military system.

Tips for using Google Earth:

1. Remember that the imagery is static and doesn't depict real time pictures. You can't see your car parked in the parking lot right now. Most of the imagery is "flown" once or twice per year and some of the imagery can be several years old.

2. Remember that some of the annotations on the imagery may not be accurate. The annotations can be provided in an open format, so they may not have any quality control before they are posted. If John found an ATM down the street he can place the location of that ATM on Google Earth, even if he is a block or a mile off.

3. Create your own address books using the "Add Folder" and "Add Placemark" functions. You can do some really creating things with the program.

4. Google Earth is free. Don't buy the upgraded version unless you have to. Most people will never need the capability to use the tools the upgraded version contains.

5. Google now owns Google Earth and Blogger. Both are currently free programs and I can hardly wait until they have both integrated into a tool that leverages the visualization tools of Google Earth ease of blogging with Blogger. The images from Google Earth are a little too large for posting on Blogger right now. The detail on Google Earth isn't used well on Blogger.

Monday, August 08, 2005

A Missional Vacation

The history for this post starts out a couple of weeks ago. We have owned a camping trailer for several years, but the trailer had bunkbeds for the kids and was getting a little small for us.

My son and daughter are growing up and the bunkbeds are no longer able to endure the stress for someone who is bigger than I am. So, my wife and I found a 9 year old motorhome for sale at a great price and headed off on a family vacation to the mountains of North Carolina.

At the last minute we decided to tow our car behind us, a decision we will never regret and never have to make again.

When we left Interstate 40 near Knoxville, Tennessee headed for Cherokee, North Carolina we understood why got such a great price on the motorhome. The transmission gave up on us and we were stranded in Sevierville. We were stuck and had to be towed into the nearest campground, the Knoxville East KOA. It was a long and very hot day and although we weren’t amused, the Lord had His hands on everything that was going on.

I called the campground to see if they had room for us and the owner said they had one nice spot left that was long enough for us to be towed into. Off we went on a tow to the campground. What a great place! The campground owners (Gary and Jane Carty) waited around for us after hours and helped us get parked at a wonderful campsite. When the motorhome was being unhooked from the wrecker Gary invited us to attend a church service they have in the KOA campground store on Sunday mornings. I told him that I was a campus minister back home in Illinois and it started an 11 day conversation that just got better and better. Gary came back and offered us a free home made pizza that the campground sells to campers and we loved it. Some of the best pizza we have ever had, and it came at a time when we were at a low spot. Thanks Gary and Jane for the help.

We noticed when we were being towed into the campground that it was located on a hillside overlooking the baseball stadium hosting the Tennessee Smokies “AA” baseball team. All the campers moved their chairs to the edge of the hill to watch the game. It was nice to relax after a difficult day and Gary and Jane and a few others came by to ask how we were doing and to give us some moral support.

Sunday morning church service at the campground was excellent! There were about 3 or 4 families who worship regularly at the campground and several other campers there. I estimate there were 25-30 people at the service. The Lord worked throughout the service. Lee led us in worship and Lenny preached the message. Gary and Lenny did a great job leading communion. They are three wonderful servants of the Lord.

Sunday night we watched another Tennessee Smokies baseball game and it followed with a “Building 429” (One of my favorite Christian bands) concert at the stadium. It was like sitting in our living room and watching it on TV. Good stuff.

On Monday we had someone look at our motorhome and they determined we needed a new transmission. The parts would take a week to get to Knoxville and they estimated it would take one day to fix. So we knew we would be around for at least a week. We studied the map and found out there was so much more to do on the Tennessee side of the mountains than the North Carolina side that we began a series of day trips to explore The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

We spend the better part of the week hiking trails in the park: Clingman’s Dome,

Laurel Falls,

The Gatlinburg Trail, and parts of the Appalachian Trail. We also saw Sivierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg.

We had an incredible time. And all week long Gary and Jane treated us like we were family. My kids bought all the candy they could eat from the campground store and I bought all the Ben and Jerry’s Double Chocolate Fudge icecream they had.

On Friday evening a camper came into the campground that had a family member with a medical emergency at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, about 30 minutes away. Gary and Jane told me about the difficult time the camper was having and we each prayed for him that day. On Saturday we were told that his family member had passed away. When we go through tough times it is so comforting to know that someone is praying for us. Gary and Jane told me this is one reason why they got into the camping business, because it gives them the opportunity to help out people in all sorts of situations. They are true servants of the Lord, and God placed them in our path when we needed some help. I didn’t hear back on the situation that the camper was in, but I know the Lord used Gary and Jane to minister to him.

The Lord provided the opportunity for me to preach in the Sunday morning service the next week. I preached from Psalm 73 on how we need to have an eternal perspective when we go through trials as Christians because the Lord has control of all our situations and we need to trust Him that His way is best. It was something the Lord has laid on my heart since the beginning of the summer. Thank you Gary, Jane, and Lennie for letting me preach. I hope the Lord used my words to reach someone.

What did I learn from vacation?

1) I learned a great lesson on missional living. I always think of vacation when I think of camping, but there are a lot of people out there who are camping because they can’t afford anything else. Gary and Jane have intentionally placed themselves in a position to help a large group of people who are struggling through life and the Lord is using them because they have answered the call (Isaiah 6:8). I have taught my students many times that we need to go to where the lost are and share Jesus with them there, not expect them to come to us. Gary, Jane, Lennie, and Lee are living that on a daily basis. Praise God for their ministry!

2) I learned that the Lord really is in control of all our situations. He can use the situations that look the bleakest to us in order to create seams of light that shine and illuminate a lost world.

3) I also learned that I shouldn’t go through life whining about my situations. The Lord gives and takes away (Job 1:21). I should be content with what the Lord has privileged me with.

4) I need to consciously place myself and my family in situations where I can help people understand that the Lord loves them and has their situations under control. Life is pretty messy some times and that is when people are most vulnerable to understanding that there is a higher being in control of whatever happens in their lives.

Lack of Posting

Sorry for the lack of posting lately. We were on vacation and unexpectedly broke down and were sitting in a place for 11 days that had limited, to no, internet capability. I'll be posting again soon (hopefully later today) and I have some great things to share.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Searching For God Knows What

I just finished reading Searching For God Knows What, by Donald Miller, the author of Blue Like Jazz. I really enjoyed Blue Like Jazz, but Searching For God Knows What was even better. Donald Miller has a wonderful way of telling stories that some how or other end up illuminating what it means to follow Christ in a new and deeper way.


In Chapter 10: The Gospel of Jesus: It Never Was A Formula:

Miller writes on page 153:

Each year I teach a class on the gospel and culture at a small Bible college back East. This year I asked the students to list the precepts a person would need to understand in order to become a Christian. I stoood at the white board and they called out ideas: Man was sinful by nature; sin separates us from God; Jesus died for our sins; we could accept Jesus into our hearts (after some thought, students were not able to explain exactly what they meant by this, only saying it was a kind of interaction in which a person agrees Jesus is the Son of God), and so on. Then looking at the board, I bean to ask some questions about these almost universally accepted ideas. I asked if a person could believe all these ideas were true and yet not be a Christian. I told them my friend Matt, for instance, believed all these ideas and yet would never claim to be a person who knows Jesus or much less follows Him. The students conceeded that, in fact, a person could know and even believe all the concepts on the board and yet not be a Christian....

We sat together and looked at the board for several minutes until we conceeded we eren't going to come up with the missing element. I then erased the board and asked the class a different question: What ideas would a guy need to agree with or what steps would a guy need to take in order to fall in love with a girl?

Miller then goes on to talk about how our relationship with God isn't dictated by a checklist, but rather by a love relationship with the Lord. Why do we break down salvation into 4 Spiritual Laws, or the bridge or wheel diagrams? When we do that we oversimplify a dynamic love relationship with God that follows more along the lines of a man and a woman falling in love. Miller's illustrations are brilliant and highlight the difference in belief paradigms between the emerging generations and those who preceeded them.

I'll post more examples in the following days. But, for now, I recommend you go to your bookstore and purchase Searching For God Knows What.

Friday, July 15, 2005

On Being Gay Friendly

Thanks to Steve McCoy and his Emerging SBC Leaders Blog for linking out to this Baptist Press article. It has started a lot of discussion on his website. I like the article and the discussion it has started among my friends in the blogosphere. It brings up a lot of issues about how we show God's love to those who live lives far different from ours. In case you haven't seen it yet please read it and let me know your thoughts.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

It's All A Matter of Perspective

I received the following E-mail from a friend of mine. I thought it was good enough to copy here:

A lesson to be learned from typing the wrong email address! A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier. Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday, with his wife flying down the following day. The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address, and without realizing his error, sent the email. Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband's funeral. He was a minister who was called home to glory following a heart attack. The widow decided to check her email expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted. The widow's son rushed into the room, found his> mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:

To: My Loving Wife> Subject: I've Arrived> Date: October 16, 2004

I know you're surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now, and you are allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I've just arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was. P.S. Sure is freaking hot down here!

Wow, what a shock!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

StudentLife Camp

Sorry about the light posting, but I just returned from StudentLife Camp last week at Windermere Conference Center at Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. Camp has changed a lot since I was a camper. StudentLife has the camp process down pat. It was a grat time of spiritual growth for the 50 students we took and for each of us sponsors. It was a wonderful time to reflect, rededicate lives, and start anew on serving Christ. I made some good friendships with students and fellow sponsors and was able to teach a daily Bible Study and Prayer Gathering. The weather was unbearable hot and humid, but it cooled off for the bus ride home. To all my students out there who I had a chance to work with, Go Blue Team!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Age Division at The SBC

I have been reading lots of posts lately by and about the young leaders at the Southern Baptist Convention feeling like they don't have a voice. Two of the best are Steve McCoy's and Adam Feldman's.

I think a little too much emphasis is placed on the whole age thing. I know the 20 and 30 somethings are finding positions of leadership in SBC churches, but are frustrated that they are not being offered positions of leadership at the SBC. The young leaders are frustrated that their voice is not being heard. I can understand their frustration, but I think the issue goes deeper than age. The emerging church isn't about age, or worship style, but rather about a difference in worldview. My question would not be where are the young leaders in the SBC leadership? But, where are the emerging leaders in the SBC leadership?

It shouldn't be looked at as an old versus young division, but a worldview division. I am probably looking at the issue from the wrong perspective, but when I hear the young leaders asking that type of question I also have to ask, where are the middle aged leaders in the emerging church? I know they are there, but I don't think they are taken seriously by either the SBC leadership or the young leaders in the emerging church. It seems like the lines are being drawn around an age division, when I believe they should be drawn around a worldview division. I guess I get a little sensitive when a person in their late 40s with an emergent worldview like me doesn't fit into either camp. I side with the emergent camp, but age shouldn't be the overriding issue in this battle.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Back Flips Off the Diving Board

Sometimes we make it so hard to trust what our heavenly Father tells us to do.

My family camps in our camping trailer most of the summer at a Christian campground about an hour away called Lake Williamson Christian Center. It is a wonderful campground, and the headquarters of the Illinois Disctrict of the Assemblies of God church, we discovered when I served as a camp counselor there for our church's kids kamp. During the summer I split time staying at home and making the 1 hour commute between camp and work a couple of days per week. The campground has an outdoor pool and last year my daughter learned to do forward summersaults off the diving board. This year she started working on back flips. She is absolutely fearless. And I am convicted about my fears every time I see her do a back flip. When she was learning to do a back flip she would asks me, "Dad, what to do next"? And I would tell her to jump in feet first a couple of times and then do a back dive and move on to the back flip. That lasted for about 5 minutes and now she can't be stopped. She trusted each and every word of mine, like I really knew what I was talking about.

I clearly hear the Lord's direction in my life, but unlike my daughter I let myself get caught up in the ramifications of doing what the Lord wants me to do. How will it affect my life, my family, my work? I long for those simple days of childhood where if you did what your parents asked you to do they would cover for you. I guess I'll just have to trust the Lord as if He knows what He is talking about.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Blogging from Virginia

I am on the last of 3 trips in 6 weeks. I am tired of being gone from home, happy that my travels are over for a few months, and eager to make it home tomorrow. I spent this week in Norfolk, Virginia, which is one of my favorite towns. I attended the Air Force's Installation Mapping and Visualization Council meeting and visited Langley Air Force Base.

While I was at Langley I ran into one of my best friends from Korea, Marcy, and her husband Nate. I was so happy to see them and they were very good short-notice hosts. Marcy cooked us a very tasty dinner at their beautiful house on Monday night and we went out on Tuesday night to the Cheesecake Factory in Virginia Beach. Virginia Beach has really rebuilt the area since the last time I was here about 6 years ago. March and Nate are such a wonderful couple that walk deeply with the Lord. Thank you for the hospitality. You are both great reflections of Jesus.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Our New Family Addition

We broke down and added a new member to our family. Wyatt is a 14 pound Black Lab puppy that we fell in love with on Monday. He is so cute!

Here's his brothers and sisters at Siever's Kennels in Meppen, Illinois. It was a hard to take Wyatt away from his family. This picture was taken last week, so we don't know which one he is in this picture. They are all so beautiful.

Are" Baptist" and "Biblical" Synonyms?

Thanks to Adam Feldman for linking to this great article by Ed Stetzer. Ed beings up some points that many traditional Baptists might find tough to think through, but need to be sorted out if we will have a future impact on today's generation. The article is located here. Link.

Here's a sample:

It’s interesting. As a denomination we’ve spent more than two decades telling young leaders that we must take the Bible seriously. Should we be surprised that they do? When younger leaders question some long-held traditions, we should not be surprised -- they are the result of the theological resurgence.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Blogging From Florida

Well, I am on leg 2 of my current travels. I am in Panama City, Florida at Tyndall Air Force Base. Man, its hot and humid (93 degrees, 83% humidity). When I talked to my wife today she said St Louis was in the 70s and dry. She also mentioned that the weather back home is perfect and you're not here to enjoy it (a direct hit to the heart).

I've been observing an Air Force exercise called SILVER FLAG where we learn how to deploy to overseas locations we haven't been to before. As you can imagine computer mapping and visualization can be a great help when trying to plan to beddown troops, equipment, and aircraft in new places. There is lots of opportunity for us to build our business for us in this area.

Panama City seems to be a fairly nice town, but it is too hot and humid for me. The beaches are nice, the traffic doesn't seem too bad, and tonight I had the best Burrito I have ever had at Moe's Southwestern Grill.

Tomorrow I'm off to Ft Walton Beach, Florida to do some relationship building with my counterparts at Air Force Special Operations Command.

I'll be home on Friday and stay around for a week and then off on leg three to Norfolk, Virginia for the Air Force's Installation Mapping and Visualization Council Meeting.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

As Many Claim No Religion As Claim Protestant

Borrowed from the Ivy Jungle Campus Ministry Update:

As Many Claim No Religion as Claim Protestant: Results from the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA show that and equal number of incoming freshman in the fall of 2004 checked "None" as claimed "Protestant" on the question religious identity. In total 28% identify themselves as Catholic. 17% say Protestant, 17% say "none", 11% say "other Christian," 4% Mormon, 4% 7th Day Adventist, 4% Unitarian, 3% Church of Christ, 3% "other religions", 2% Jewish, 1% each for Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic and Eastern Orthodox. (Spirituality Report, as reported in CPYU e - update #76)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

God, Inc?

This Yahoo article seems to counterdict what I said in the last post about the misisonal-incarnational church being the model the church shcould be headed to. I guess it all matters whether or not you want numbers or depth. Good article, poor subject. Link.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Missional-Incarnational and Evangelistic-Attractional Church, So What's the Difference And Why Is It Important?

Adam Feldman has a super post on the difference between the Evangelistic-Attractional Church and the Missional-Incarnational Church. Seems as though we have been stuck in the Evangelistic-Attractional model for most of modernity and it is time to head back to the Missional-Incarnational model we find in the New Testament.

Adam's post is located here. Link.

Please let me knokw your thoughts.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Good to Be Back Home

Well, I got back home this afternoon. It is good to be back with my family. I'll spend a couple of days in the office this week answering the 300 or so E-Mails I have and then off to Panama City, Florida for another exercise. I don't like to be gone this much, but it pays the bills!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Blogging From New Jersey

It is starting again. My travel is getting out of hand. Over the next 2 months I will be on a rotating schedule of being home for a week and traveling for a week.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning I attended the Acts 29 church Planters Bootcamp in my hometown of St Louis. Then after the bootcamp I hopped on an airplane and flew to Philadelphia and drove across the river to New Jersey. I got to New Jersey on Wednesday evening and have been spending time at McGuire Air Force Base and Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Site. I have been observing and offering technical solutions as a consultant to an Air Force exercise called EAGLE FLAG and analyzing how they use geospatial informaton to help them plan where to locate operations. It has been an eye opening experience.

I come home on Sunday and then a week later I'll be off to Panama City, Florida to observe and do more consulting at another similar Air Force exercise called SILVER FLAG.

Then home for another week and finally off to Norfolk, Virginia for the Air Force's Installation Mapping and Visualization Council Meeting the first week in June. I am a council member and help steer the Air Force's Expeditionary GeoBase program. The program uses Geographic Information Systems and highly trained personnel to get a bigger bang for the buck for Air Force deployments.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Napoleon Dynamite Sound Clips

KaleoBill has a post about Napoleon Dynamite sound bites. This is Sweet! Thanks Bill, I can't let this one go by. Here's a link to the sound bites. Link. Napoleon is sool cool!

My favorite: Do chickens have large talons?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Acts 29 Church Planter Bootcamp Thoughts

Wow! What an experience!

I am completely exhausted. The Acts 29 Church Planters Bootcamp was that good! Plus right after the morning session I hopped on a plane and I am in the middle of a business trip to New Jersey. It is only Wednesday, but already it feels like a long week.

I'm so tired that all I have right now are random thoughts:

Darrin Patrick from The Journey in St Louis, Paul Westbrook of Metro C0mmunity Church in Edwardsville, Illinois, and Larry Richmond of the Gateway Baptist Association (St Louis Metro East Area), Illinois sponsored the conference. Darrin and Paul both spoke and were excellent. they are both very gifted men that have a deep passion for reaching the unchurched through new church plants. Larry (my personal mentor) didn't speak at the conference, but did hold a pastors luncheon for the 51 pastors in his association and raised over $60,000 for church planting from his pastors.

The keynote speaker was Ed Stetzer, the author of Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age, and director of the Southern Baptist Convention North American Mission Board's Nehemiah Project. Wow, was he good. Ed has to be one of the most gifted speakers I have heard in a long time. Ed has a great website full of resources and doesn't mind sharing what he has found. It is located here. Link.

Acts 29 helps church planters in the following ways:

1) Acts 29 has a strenuous screening process to ensure the church planters they support are gifted leaders that can cast their vision for the church.

2) The network links aspiring church planters with current church planting pastors as mentors. The current pastor knows what the aspiring planter is thinking and is there to help and advise.

3) Acts 29 churches pledge to donate 10% of their income to church planting efforts. This money is controlled by the local church, not Acts 29.

4) Acts 29 is not a denomination, but supports both denominational and nondenominational church planters. Their concern is that the unchurched are led to Christ and develop into fully functioning disciples of the Lord.

Amazing Statistic: New church plants have a failure rate of about 80% over the first 3 years. Acts 29 has come along to help support 60 church plants and after 5 years 59 of them are still alive!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

New SBC Emerging Leader Blog

Charles Campbell from the Illinois Baptist State Association (IBSA) showed us a new blog that gives emerging church leaders a voice. The blog is called emerging and is located here. Link. It is written by Steve McCoy, a SBC emerging church pastor in northern Illinois, and at first glance it looks like a great place to start building community among emerging church pastors and others that minister to the emerging community. I plan to keep my eyes on Steve's blog and will let you all know what is going on.

I am excited that the SBC is beginning to take notice of the emerging church. In many ways it is hard to get a monster as large as the Southern Baptist Conference to begin thinking in new ways; there is a lot of inertia to overcome. But the SBC is slowly starting to come around and there are a lot of wonderful, hard working, and dedicated people in the SBC and the resources they have to help bring God's kingdom to the unchurched are incredible.

The Acts 29 Church Planters Boot Camp is Here!

Tomorrow the Acts 29 Church Planting Bootcamp starts at Metro Community Church in Edwardsville. I am so looking forward to it. Ed Stetzer of Planting New Churches in a Postmodern World fame, and a SBC North American Mission Board leader, will be one of the speakers. The schedule looks very interesting and informative. It looks like this:

May 9, 2005
9-10:15am Session 1 Theology: Knowing God's Mission (Darrin Patrick)
10:30-12 Session 2 Planting: Resources and Timeline (Steve Tompkins)
12-1:30pm Lunch
Option 1: Informal
Option 2: Legal Issues in a Church Plant (Jim Beckemeier)
1:30-2:45 Session 3 Values: Sharing God's Values (Paul Westbrook)
3-4:30pm Session 4 The Leader: Living God's Commands (Darrin Patrick)
4:30-6:30 Dinner break
6:30-8:30 Workshop: Building Systems and Structures (Steve Miller)
6:30-8:30 Workshop: Evangelism and Discipleship (John Ryan)
6:30-8:30 Workshop: Starting a Church from Scratch (Trey Smith)

May 10, 2005
9-10:15am Session 5: Vision: Seeing the Mission Complete (Ed Stetzer)
10:30-12pm Session 6: Core Development (Ed Stetzer)
12-1:30 Lunch
Option 1: Informal
Option 2: Becoming a Church Planting Church (Ed Stetzer)
1:30-3:00 Session 7 Planning: The Strategy of the Missionary (Darrin Patrick)
3-6:30pm Dinner break
6:30-8:30pm Workshop: Building an Internship Program (Rich Budwell)
6:30-8:30 Workshop: Children's Ministry (?)
6:30-8:30 Workshop: Leadership Development (Lynn and Jaime Beckemeier)

May 11, 2005
9-10:30am Session 8 Missional Ministry in a Postmodern Age (Ed Stetzer)
10:45-12 Session 9 Perseverance: Growing the Mission (Darrin Patrick)

Special Wives Track
Monday: Noon - 3pm
Tuesday: Noon - 3pm

The people I have met that are associated with the Acts 29 Network are all top notch. Darin Patrick, John Ryan, Jonathan McIntosh, Paul Westbrook, Steve Tompkins, and Larry Richmond all have their collective acts together when it comes to a heart ripe for serving the Lord coupled with a love for church planting. This will be Acts 29's largest church planters bootcamp ever, with over 50 new church planters attending. I am very excited! I'll keep you updated.

Friday, April 29, 2005

School Mistakes Huge Burrito for a Weapon

I have heard people tell me that Mexican Food could be lethal under the right circumstances...but I haven't heard of this before. The headline for a story reported on Yahoo says, School Mistakes Huge Burrito for a Weapon!

Read the story here. Link.

Signs of the End Times

I have heard several times over the last two weeks that Pope Benedict XVI will be the next to the last Pope. Based upon several people's interpretation of the fulfillment of prophecy Christ will be returning after the next Pope.

Yahoo has an interesting news clip on the current Pope and prophecy. It is located here. Link.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Tentative Schedule for Christ on the Quad- 6 May

Here's the tentative Schedule for Christ on the Quad at McKendree College on May 6. Standby for changes. Please be in prayer for all the students participating and those who will hear the gospel presented.

11:30 Noah Oldham

12:00 PINE

12:40 Phil Nelson

1:00 Mike Cheeseman with worship sketching by Cat Hamrick

1:30 Randy Rains

1:45 Andy Rains with worship painting by Laura Cochrane

2:30 Lyndsy Lafenhagen

2:45 Chapel Band

3:15 Gwen Stokes Testimony

3:30 Nick and Jonesy

4:30 Andy Rains

Most Freshmen Say Religion Guides Them

The Chronicle of Higher Education published a new study this week that says most college freshmen say religion guided them. You can find the article here. Link.

The first paragraph highlights a dichotomy in the lives of today's college students. The Chronicle states,

Most college freshmen believe in God, but fewer than half follow religious teachings in their daily lives. A majority of first-year students (69 percent) say their beliefs provide guidance, but many (48 percent) describe themselves as "doubting," "seeking," or "conflicted."

Seems like college freshmen are caught in the same struggle that society in general is caught in today. There is a deep felt understanding within our souls that God exists, but no deep felt desire to commit to following God's commands and desires for our life. There is feeling without commitment. Sad.

Paul says in Romans 1:18-23,

18 For God's wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, 19 since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. 20 From the creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse. 21 For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles.

We all feel the presence of God, but have to conscouisly make the decision to follow Him.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Street Witnessing

My McKendree College students have been taking a weekly trip to St Louis to do street witnessing. A month or so ago four of them went to downtown St Louis for the NCAA Basketball Final Four celebration and witnessed to as many people as would listen to them.

Two weeks ago twelve of them went to the University City Loop (the most eclectic part of St Louis, right next to Washington University). They experienced spiritual warfare like they never had before. Although Satan was battling they made several contacts and presented the gospel to many people.

Last Friday eight of them went to the St Louis Zoo and did street witnessing there. The atmosphere was a little less hostile, but not too many people are interested. They have been a little discouraged, but are still motivated to keep on hitting the streets.

We estimate that they have presented the gospel to over 200 people in the last month. My students want to do more than just talk with people though. They want the people they talk to to walk away with something physical that they can look at a day or two later when the Holy Spirit is knocking on the hearts of those people the Gospel was presented to. So, we are looking at putting together small packages including New Testaments, tracts, and candy for the people to walk away with.

Our next project is called Christ on the McKendree Quad. My students are playing music and presenting the gospel for aobut 4 hours on May 5 at the McKendree College Quad. I am really looking forward to the Christ on the McKendree Quad. Although McKendree was founded as a Christian college it is pretty spiritually dead right now. Hopefully we will set the campus on its ear!

It is so incredible for God to give me the opportunity to work with these students. I have never met a group of college students so mature in their walk with the Lord and bold in the faith. The Lord has great plans for this group, both individually and collectively.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Missional Living

Last night at our Bible Study we talked a little about living a Missional Life. Darryl Dash sums up living a missional life very well in this post. Link.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Ivy Jungle Campus Ministry Update

Here's the latest Ivy Jungle Campus Ministry Update. Link.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Twelve Steps to Raising a Juveline Delinquent

Scott Williams has a great post on Twelve Steps to Raising a Juveline Delinquent. It hits close to home as my son is 13 and my daughter is 10.

Twelve Steps to Raising a Juvenile Delinquent:

1. Begin with infancy to give the child everything he wants. In this way he will grow up to believe the world owes him a living.
2. When he picks up bad words, laugh at him. This will make him think he's cute.
3. Never give him any spiritual training. Wait until he is twenty-one and then let "him decide for himself."
4. Avoid the use of "wrong." He may develop a guilt complex. This will condition him to believe later, when he is arrested, that society is against him and he is being persecuted.
5. Pick up everything he leaves lying around. Do everything for him so that he will be experienced throwing all responsibility on others.
6. Take his side against neighbors, teachers, and policemen. They are all prejudiced against your child. That will be good training for someday when you take his side against the police.
7. Quarrel frequently in the presence of your children. In this way they won't be so shocked when the home is broken up later.
8. Give the child all the spending money he wants. Never let him earn his own.
9. Satisfy his every craving for food, drink, and comfort. See that his every sensual desire is gratified.
10. Let him read any printed material, and listen to any music he can get his hands on. Be careful that the silverware and drinking glasses are sterilized, but let his mind feast on garbage.
11. When he gets into real trouble, apologize to yourself by saying, "I could never do anything with him.
12. "Prepare for a life of grief. You will likely have it.--Taken from a pamphlet entitled, "Twelve Rules for Raising Delinquent Children" distributed by the Houston Police Department.

The problem is that most of the TV my kids watch (The Disney Chanel) pushes this type of treatment. Every one of the sitcoms pretty much tell the story: Leave your kids alone, they will be OK, and besides they know more than you do anyhow!

Friday, April 08, 2005

Can You Show Me God?

Thanks goes to Sudarsun for writing this on his blog. It is inspiring to read and hear his refreshing view on life.

The Question:

Show me God for once, and I will believe in him right now. Can you?

Upon seeing that his atheistic arguments were doing little to shake my newfound faith, a close friend of mine once challenged me with the above question, much like any atheist would challenge a believer. My answer then was a circumlocutory "No", mixed with a suggestion to see God through experiences. Given another chance today, I would still answer him in "No", but with a rather different approach.

(Today at my study table, all of a sudden, I was reminded of that question. I contemplated for a while and then... a spark of light and boom. Thank God for his revelations. This is the second of that sort.)

"Can you show me God?"

My answer: Eyes aren't the only thing God has given us. He has given us ears to hear the wind blow so we can know that there is air, although we don't see the air with our naked eyes. He has given us nose with a sensation of smell so we, even when blindfolded, can distinguish a mango from an apple. He has given us the skin that tells us whether we are standing outside in scorching heat or freezing cold. You don't see the air, but you know it is there. You don't see the smell of a mango, you smell its smell. You can't see the feeling of heat or cold, you just feel it. Therefore, one must embrace the fact that his vision has limitations. If something is too dark, you can not see; at night, turn off the lights of your room and try walking around in the darkness. If something is too bright, you can not see; stare at the Sun for a couple of minutes and try looking around. If something is too far away, you can not see; can you show me the St. Louis Arch from McKendree? If something is too near, you can not see; can you see the tip of your index finger when it almost touches your forehead right between the eyes? Our vision has limitations. We can not see everything with our ordinary eyes. We can not see God.

As seen in above examples, our eyes can not judge the extremeties- too dark and too bright, too far and too near etc. Now understand this, God and mankind stand at extremeties. He is Holy, we are sinful; He is perfect, we are imperfect. Therefore, God and mankind stand at opposite extremes separated by sin.

Isaiah 59:1-2 says: "Surely the arms of the Lord are not too short to save nor His ears too dull to hear. But our iniquities have separated you from God. Your sins have hidden His face from you so that He will not hear." Note the words here: "hidden His face". That's why we do not see God. Because our sins hide His face. Therefore, let's not seek God through our ordinary eyes. Let's seek Him instead with a repentant heart. Let's open our heart to receive Him, to experience Him. Let's employ our ears and listen to His voice. Amen.

Sudarsun is a McKendree College student from Nepal and was raised a Hindu. He came to know the Lord last fall and has grown incredibly since then. I enjoy his view on Christianity as one who has come from a completely different background. His viewpoint continues to inspire me to thinking about the ruts that being raised in a "Christian" nation allow you to fall in to. God bless you Sudarsun and thank you for the insight.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Opening Day Ritual

Well, yesterday was a great sports day. The fighting Illini didn't fare well against North Carolina in the college basketball national championship here in St Louis, but it was a great game and Monday was one of my favorite sports days. It was opening day for Major League Baseball. I know there was a game on Sunday between the Yankees and the Red Sox, but yesterday was the first day that most of the teams were playing. The Cardinals weren't one of them, they open today. I have a little ritual I do on most opening days. It goes like this:

Watch Field of Dreams and cry like a baby.

I don't know why Field of Dreams affects me this way. I am normally not a very emotional person, but that movie just rips me up. For several reasons I still think it is one of the finest movies ever made:

It chronicles the life of someone who hears a voice, knows his calling and is willing to suffer the consequensces for acting irrationally to follow his calling (I get convicted for not being in the full-time ministry every time I see the film). So needless to say I am in a very convicted mood this morning.

It is a good clean film with a great plot and characters

It has 3 of my favorite subjects embedded in it: baseball, farming, and an old Volkswagen Bus

I played baseball for Crescenta Valley High School and we played against Kevin Costner and Aviation High School almost every Saturday morning in Fall Baseball. It was a great rivalry. When he bacame an actor he moved into our neighborhood about a mile away from our house and I saw him in the local grocery store several times before I joined the Air Force and moved away. I'm still a big fan, although he has made some bad movies lately.

My kids actually enjoy the film also.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

5Q4 Me From Biscotti

Thanks to Erin of the Biscotti Brain blog for passing these questions on to me. I know it was a lot of hard work for her to do all this research. She told me that I must give a "music request"... what Erin should listen to while reading my answers, and why. So Erin, you should go plug in the CD player or the MP3 player and turn on some Third Day. They are my favorite group because I want to live a life of praise and worship, not just do it a couple of days per week. And Third Day is what I am listening to as I type this up.

1. Is flying a C-5 Galaxy as cool as it sounds? Can you describe the experience for those who've never been "behind the stick"?

Well, first off let me say that I'm not a Pilot, but a Navigator. I wasn't the one pushing and pulling on the yoke (similar to a car's steering wheel). But, I do have my pilot's license and used to fly a lot privately. The pilots tell me that the C-5 flies like a small Cessna airplane. There are so many flight computers on board that augment what the pilots do that the flying part isn't all that difficult. The C-5 is the world's largest aircraft and the hardest part was just keeping track of all the aircrew members. Navigators were used to fly Special Operations and airdrop missions, which included the largest amount of aircrew members. A normal C-5 aircrew could be as small as about 7 people. I went on a long trip to Australia that was so popular that we had 31 aircrew members. Imagine how much time it takes for each one of them to check in and respond to checklists before we start engines, taxi, and takeoff. It could be pretty embarrassing if you left one of them behind!

Navigating the C-5 and the C-130 was a lot of fun. On the C-130 we had limited navigation equipment and believe it or not up until about 1993 we still used the sextant, sun, and stars as our primary means of navigation when crossing the Pacific or Atlantic. The primary method of figuring out where you were when we were flying low level (300 feet) and airdrop was by looking our the window and comparing what you saw with what a map of the area looked like. They were good and detailed maps, but it took a lot of skill to navigate by map reading especially at night.

The C-5 was a much more technologically advanced aircraft and we didn't use the sextant in the C-5. It was much more comfortable to fly. My longest flight was a 19 and a half hour flight from North Carolina to Guam. We got off the aircraft and kissed the ground after that flight!

2. You've said "I just remember growing up loving Jesus from day one". How has that helped you in ministry to college students (and particularly cross-cultural students)? Has it posed any challenges?

I think it helps me minister cross culturally (I consider all collegiate ministry to be cross cultural ministry when you are my age) by understanding that not everyone comes to know Jesus the same way. McKendree is a unique college in that it is a Methodist school without much evangelistic push. They don't push religion on the students. I know lots of students that have graduated from McKendree without even knowing it was a church related school. In one sense that is tragic; in the sense that McKendree is missing some incredible opportunities. In another sense it is wonderful; in the sense that our ministry has great opportunities to proclaim the gospel to those who have never heard it before. Praise God that Sudarsun came to McKendree as a Hindu. If McKendree has pushed religion more openly maybe he would have gone to school somewhere else. He is now an incredible brother in the Lord.

So we get a great mixture of students that come to college with a Christian mindset and another group that have never heard of salvation before. Many of the college students I minister to grew up in the church and have known Jesus from a young age. On those students I concentrate my time on encouraging them to reach out and share their faith with others who don't know the Lord. We have had several students come to know the Lord this semester, and on them I am concentrating on laying a basic foundation of discipleship in learning the basics.

I guess I don't buy into the "You're not saved if you haven't experienced a life changing transformation when you gave your life to the Lord" quote so many Christians use. I don't ever remember not living for Jesus, but I also don't remember my conversion experience. I have loved the Lord from day 1 and don't discount my experience because I don't have a definitive conversion date. I believe that there are a few of us out there (one of my old Pastors, Chuck Smith from Calvary Chapel included) who have grown up "knowing the Lord" and feel that we have walked with Him from the beginning. I don't mean to sound egotistical about my walk with the Lord in any way because it hasn't always been deep, and I have rededicated my life several times, but I feel I have always been in the faith.

3. You obviously have the gift of teaching... they don't let just anyone teach others to fly zillion dollar aircraft! Not all teachers have the ability to step back and leave room for peers to teach each other. You've said that watching your students minister to each other has had a deep impact on you. Can you describe that impact?

My biggest reward in ministering to college students is to watch them grow through the use of their spiritual gifts. I believe I do have the gift of teaching, and I am comfortable using my spiritual gifts, but that is not my ministry is right now. My ministry is to proclaim the gospel to the unchurched and to develop today's students into tomorrow's Christian leaders. I believe both of these goals are best done through student to student ministry. A couple of friends tell me "what kind of a ministry is it where you aren't out front teaching most of the time", and I respond that being up front isn't what my job is right now. I teach a couple of times per semester, in fact I taught on Communion last week, but I think the students listen more intently and internalize the teaching more deeply if it is taught by one of their own. When I see the students ministering to each other I get the same feeling I got when my son first started to walk. They are growing up and becoming adult Christians before my eyes. I believe the college years are the most formative years of a persons life. Who you will marry, what you will do with yourself the rest of your life, your idea of who you are in the workforce, whether or not you will continue to serve the Lord are all decisions people normally make in their collegiate years. I feel priveleged to be a part of that process in the lives of these students.

4. You seem to have the ability to recognize areas of your life you'd like to explore, develop goals, plan to achieve those goals, and follow through. What are you currently recognizing as a need or area of your like you'd like to explore?

I am really trying to deal with the whole concept of God calling me to be a church planter. I am scared to death to act out on it. There are problems with my family not being best situated to do this, financial matters, logistics issues, time management problems, and ministry priorities. But the biggest issue is just having enough faith in God's calling to step out and do it. I want to, but it is always easier to talk about when it is months down the line. It is a little more difficult when you get into the weeds of doing it. I lay awake at night because it scares me, but I know it is what the Lord wants me to do, and it scares me even more to think about not doing it.

5. From you bio, I count at least 9 times in your life you've moved. What have you learned about Community and how it can be cultivated?

Great question! I have learned a lot about community over the last couple of years. My last move was on the 4th of July 2000 when the Air Force took me away from my family and moved me to SongTan, South Korea for a year. It was very difficult to be away from my family for the year. But, I did find that in Korea the brothers and sisters in Christ were so much more tightly knit than anything I had ever experienced at home. As hard as Korea was on my family I'll have to say that I grew more in my walk with the Lord during that year than at any other time in my life. When you are all away from home and have a common task that unites you it is hard to believe how close you can grow. I spent almost all my free time with Koreans rather than American GIs because I wanted to learn all I could about Korean culture. I attended a church that was half Korean and half American and traveled almost every weekend with my Korean friends. I still count two of my Korean sisters two of my best friends in the world. No matter where we are and no matter how different our backgrounds are we can be unified in Christ and that is the ultimate community.

I didn't think I would follow in Erin's footsteps because doing the research this 5Q4 trail requires is such hard work, but I enjoyed it and think I will do it afterall. So, if you have a blog and would like for me to pass on 5 Questions for you to answer please leave comments and I will pass the stick on to the first 5 who ask.