Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Halfway through my two weeks here in Birmingham for my Doctor of Ministry course, Biblical Theology for Ministry.  The class has been good, but today certainly marked the high water mark of the trip.

This morning, I visited the Church at Brook Hills.  Listening to David Platt speak was like listening to a kindred spirit.  Those of you who know my journey of redemption from church growth strategies and their subsequent pressures, will appreciate the story that David shared.   When he first became the pastor at Brook Hills, he poured through all of his church growth books which encouraged him and his team to pinpoint “Brook Hills Bob”, the emblem of their “target audience.”  The Brook Hills team rejected this kind of thinking and decided to go after “Brook Hills Burudi” – a non-Christian man living in a region of North Africa closed to to the Gospel.  I loved it when Platt added that he no longer reads those church growth books.  They are preaching and living the whole Gospel for the whole world – not just a target audience.  Now here’s what’s really cool.  As Platt told it, one of their Brook Hills Bobs, a typical upper middle class Birmingham businessman, and his wife,  started a small group two years ago because God was calling him to invest his life in other couples.  This morning in their worship service, they commissioned a young couple from that small group will be moving to a remote region of North Africa to plant a church for Brook Hills Burudi – all of those people who have never heard the Gospel.  This resonates so much with what I have sensed the Lord doing in me over the last 18 months – stepping away from all of that “cool church” jazz to just be the church, living in the world as a witness to Jesus Christ. 

On a side-note, I was amazed that probably 99% of the 2000 people I worshiped with this morning carried their Bibles into church!  Awesome, awesome!

Following worship, I went to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.  The museum was amazingly sobering.  The tour begins with exhibits describing life in Birmingham before the Civil Rights movement and then begins the Civil Rights struggle with Rosa Park’s and the Montgomery Bus boycott and follows it through the late 1960’s.  Two highlights of the museum for me. 

First, the exhibit on the Freedom Riders.  They have the burned out shell of an old grey hound bus (not sure if it is one actually involved in the ride, or not) and old footage of the freedom riders talking about what they did and why they did it.  I kept wondering if I would have had the chutzpa to have been one of them.  Only time would have told and only time will tell if I rise to those kinds of challenges in my own time.

Second, looking at two water fountains that were actually marked “white” and “colored” was mind-boggling.  It is hard to believe that this happened in an America not much older than my generation.

Walking down the street to go into the museum, I was just across the street from the famous 16th Street Baptist Church, which was very much at the center of the Civil Rights movement.  In September of 1963, the church was bombed and four little girls were killed in the bombing.  I also learned that on that same day, two African American boys, were also shot by white assailants in Birmingham while out riding their bikes.

While I am not a fan of many of President Obama’s policies, I gained a deeper appreciation for what his election means for our country – the healing of so many wounds – and why it is so momentous for so many of our fellow Americans.  I won’t add much more because, like I said, it was really very sobering.


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Well, I’m back from West Virginia.  Had a nice couple of days there.  Max and I had a good time together.  He listened to The Magic Tree House, Just So Stories (Rudyard Kipling), Geronimo Stilton and Stink (Junie B. Jones little brother) on his I-Pod.  Apparently  he spent most of his time with The Magic Tree House because the trip was peppered with little gems of real wisdom and knowledge that he was learning . . . like the definition of patriots, how firemen tried to stop the great San Francisco fire after the 1906 earthquake and how the Titanic sank.

For my part, I spent some time worshiping and listening to some sermons by John Weece (Southland Christian Church in Lexington) and Mark Driscoll (Mars Hill Church in Seattle).  Boy, Driscoll preaches for a long time . . . usually talking for anywhere from 50 minutes to an hour and fifteen minutes.

On Friday morning I got up early and went to Pipestem State Park and hiked a ways into the woods where I read and chanted several Psalms out loud and dug into a full reading of the Gospel of Matthew.  Later in the day Max and I went and walked around Sandstone Falls and then grabbed some hot dogs at the Dairy Queen in Hinton, WV – undoubtedly the world’s best chili and slaw dogs!

I slaved a way for a good part of Friday on tomorrow’ sermon; the second in a series on joy.  Let me tell you, I really struggled with the passage (John 16.16-24).  I am praying that God will use my study and my work tomorrow morning to do what he wants to do with it.  I began to wonder if some of my difficulty with the passage arose from just how much the enemy does not want his people to ask for Kingdom things in Jesus’ name.  Afterall, Jesus promises that if we pray for kingdom things in Jesus’ name, God will give us what we asked for.  Pretty awesome!   All the way home, I found myself praying for things in Jesus’ name.  I’ve always done this, but after working on the passage all week I think I had a deeper understanding of why I was praying in Jesus’ name.

BTW – Mark Driscoll’s sermon on the cross – from his Doctrine Series – was fabulous . . . go to I-Tunes or the Mars Hill website and give it a listen (or a view).

I just heard from my mom.  Max is still with them and he had a great time at the Virginia Tech scrimmage game and a lot of the players signed his football and his baseball cap.

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Here’s this week’s copy of the e-letter that will go out to all GCF’ers on Friday morning . . .

Goodmorning GCF’ers,

My parents are arriving today for a quick visit before heading back to West Virginia late tomorrow.  My Dad is going to work with me tomorrow on cleaning out about five Japanese Honey Suckle shrubs (not to be confused with the Honey Suckle vine that smells so sweet) that have taken over the fence between our house and the adjacent farm.  The stuff grows with a vengeance.

Japanese Honey Suckle is so dangerous to other species of trees and shrubs and yet so resilient that the Raven’s Run Nature Preserve in Fayette County is spending a $1,000 per shot for a chemical that can be injected into the stump of a Japanese Honey Suckle shrub to destroy the root system.

 Sin, injustice and unrighteousness run deep in this world.  So deep, in fact, that we can even see it at work in the nature around us (see Romans 8.22):  Japanese Honey Suckle overcoming native species, various types of moss feasting upon trees until the trees have no nutrients of their own, and Dutch Elm disease (a fungus) killing some 20 million Elm trees in the United States since 1960.

 Like nature around us, we are also faced daily with the wages of sin and injustice in our world.  Anger drives us to contempt.  Lust drives us to relational brokenness.  Greed drives us to injustice.  And so it goes.

 But, just as a $1000 shot can destroy the root system of the Japanese Honey Suckle, there is also a “cure” for the wages of sin in our lives.

 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of Life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. – Romans 8.1-2

 Here are a few things I want to cover in this e-letter:

 (1)     Bonfire – April 4 @ 7pm

(2)     1-1-1

(3)     The Final Anchor

(4)     comMISSION ‘09

 Bonfire – April 4 @ 7pm:  Max started playing t-ball on Monday of this week.  While I was talking to Max through the fence at Sim’s Field here in Wilmore, Kyra called for me.  She asked me if I had a GCF business card in my wallet.  She had just met a family that was new to the area and had attended a couple of churches, but were having trouble finding one they liked.  Kyra used the opportunity to invite this family to come to our GCF bonfire on Saturday, April 4.  As you think about the bonfire on April 4, you might also think about inviting a friend or family member who does not have a church home to come with you.  We’ll roast wieners, marshmallows, play flag football, volleyball and close the evening with some worship around the bonfire.

 1-1-1:  Are you praying?  I have kept my 1-1-1 card on my desk this week and have been praying at least ONE time a day for the family that we are going to invite to join us at GCF for the bonfire on April 4 and for worship on Easter Sunday.  Deep in my gut, I cannot escape the feeling that as we pray Biblical prayers for the people that we want to invite to GCF, that the Father – as we invite them – will lead many people to GCF and to Jesus!

 The Final Anchor:  I am excited about worship this Sunday (9am and 10.45am).  Bekah Witzer, an AC student who was in China this past summer working at an orphanage will be sharing some about her time there.  We’ll also wrap up our five part-series on hope, called The Anchor.  This series on hope has been pretty life-changing for me and I hope that it has been the same for you.

 comMISSION ‘09:  I really enjoyed having the Rapach family with us in worship on Sunday.  I asked Matt if he wanted to do the announcements during worship, for old-time sake, but he turned me down on the offer.  The video clip of the work that the Rapaches did with the YWAM team in Brazil and Peru gave a terrific snapshot of what the team going to Mexico Missions (in Cancun) will be doing this summer.  There will be VBS in the mornings and evangelism events at night.  We need at least 8 people (and preferably 10) for the work we’ll do in Cancun.  So far, we have only 3 people signed up to go.  It may be that you are one of the five (or seven) other folks that God is calling to Mexico.  If you are one of the ones, then let me know ASAP.

 See you Sunday morning,

Pastor Jason

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A few years ago there was a relatively well-known commercial for Special-K cereal.  The add featured blue-collar, middle class men saying things like, “Do these jeans make my hips look big?”  The idea behind the add was that men don’t talk about things like that.  Consequently, if women would only buy and eat Special K for breakfast they wouldn’t have to worry about it either.

Well, I’m going to break the pattern of men not talking about weight.  I have struggled with my weight since I was in the third grade.  About five years ago – for several reasons – Iwas motivated to do something about it.  I started eating really healthy and started running.  How well I remember those first runs.  At 287 pounds (I had weighed 320 at my biggest – I lost 30 pounds over a year or two by simply switching to Diet Soda), it was all I could do to make it a third of the way around a 1 mile track.  In fact, I had to teach myself that it was a real accomplishment for me to get up every morning at 6am and go run 1/3 of a mile.  Within about a year, I had lost 120 pounds and weighed 167 pounds.  I was running about 4 miles a day, four to five days a week.  I felt great.  That summer I took part in my first-ever sporting event and ran a 10K.

Several transitions then took place.  We bought a house and I changed jobs.  Through that change of routine and stress, I slowly began to slack up on my healthy eating and exercise habits.

As of last Thursday – nearly 3 years after changing jobs and 4 years after the purchase of our home, I had officially gained back 77 pounds – more than half of what I had lost.  I weighed 244.4 pounds.

Thanks to a good friend at church, I have been coaxed and prodded into getting healthy again.  Since last Thursday morning, I have not consumed more than 1500 calories a day (all healthy stuff) and I have been running again.  It has been great despite the fact that I have had to get over the disappointment of being taxed after running only a mile or so.  At any rate, as of yesterday morning I weighed 241.2 pounds.

And I am going to keep going.  Weight loss is one thing, but my bigger motivation at this time is to feel good again.  I simply  do not feel as good or have as much energy at 241 pounds as I did at 167 pounds and running 16 to 20 miles a week.

Posting this here is sort of like my public accountability mechanism.  At least once a week, I am going to post my progress and hope that it will not only keep me accountable but also encourage others who may need to start (or re-start) this same journey with me.

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Well, I was supposed to leave for West Virginia in about 45 minutes with Max to go and pick up an LCD-TV that my parents bought for us.  Thanks, Mom and Dad!  Unforunately, I got a call at about 9am that Max had thrown up at school.

I picked him up, got him some Motrin and some Gatorade.  Got him home, put him in bed with a movie in the laptop and a few minutes later he rushed to the bathroom for another go-round.  Poor kid.

Stomach illnesses are my weakness as a Dad.  I don’t do well with cleaning up the end-results.

I was reminded of a very disgusting story that I’ll tell in short form – only because I have nothing of any real seriousness laying on my chest to write about today.  A kid in my first grade class threw up on the way back from lunch.  Within in about 30 minutes, more than half of the others kids in the class (including me) had also thrown up.  One nasty chain reaction.

So, here’s hoping that Max’s stomach illness (which hit Sydney earlier in the week) is the last link in the chain.

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We are about three weeks away from starting a new series of messages at GCF.  Called, The Anchor, this series will be based on Hebrews 6.16-18 and will take us through 6 weeks of talking about hope.

As I was sitting in Panera this morning with my Bible open, a blank legal pad and some notes I had taken earlier in the week from some resources in the seminary library in front of me, I was caught by a statement from theologian/scholar Colin Brown:  “Hope is not theological knowledge.  Hope is a lived attitude.”

I had written the quote down earlier in the week because it sounded kind of “pithy” (as my grandparents would say), but this morning the idea stopped me cold in my tracks.  What about hope?  Hope is not theological knowledge.  As a follower of Christ, hope is the basic attitude of life.

Surely, hope is not always smiles, presents and handshakes.  The New Testament uses many other words to describe a hope-filled attitude.  Words like perseverance and endurance.  These are “raw” words.  They describe something undying inside of us that does not allow us to give up precisely when it seems like everything around us, including ourselves, as well, are doing exactly that:  dying.

I’ll have a lot to say about hope through the six weeks of The Anchor series.  I think some of it is going to be formed and shaped by my own wrestling with just how much hope is a lived attitude for me.

Having made a joint decision for Kyra, my wife,to step down from one of her two jobs due to the constraints of her rheumatoid athritis, we are now on the countdown to finding out how that income will be made up.  Some of the options are exciting to think about.  Some of the options bring to mind words like perseverance and endurance.  What does it look like for me to live hope as an attitude right now?

Surely, it goes beyond the trappings of a nice, little, middle class life.  If hope is as fading and fainting as the money and possessions that so often define our identity, then there is no such thing as real hope.  If hope, on the other hand, is the certainty that a new creation is coming – one that I, as of yet, have not been able to lay my eyes upon AND, if hope is the certainty that the presence of Jesus Christ (The Holy Spirit) – someone I cannot physically grasp – is with me, transforming and healing my wayward and hurting heart, then certainly hope is a real anchor for me when the life-sea is casting me about.

Sometimes, you preach sermons.  Other times, you desperately want to live them!  Come on, Hope!

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If you’re from somewhere further north than Lexington, Kentucky feel free to ridicule and laugh as you read on . . .

Seldom do we have a serious snow fall here in central Kentucky.  I’ve lived here for 10 years and have seen nothing like the snowfalls I can remember growing up in West Virginia.  We got at least a good 6 to 10 inches a couple of times during the winter.

But here in central Kentucky, we get something I don’t remember having quite so much of while growing up in West Virginia:  ICE, ICE and more ICE.

So I think there are about 2 to 3 inches of ice on the ground.  Nothing like the huge lake-effect snow storms that folks near Eerie, PA or western New York get, but its enough to bring down the power lines, start snapping the trees and otherwise bringing this region to a near standstill.

And of course, school has been closed for three days.  And it will go to four days tomorrow.

My kids (and their parents) had cabin fever today.  After clearing off the sidewalk and a path down the driveway, (NOTE TO SELF:  consider NOT buying a house on a hillside the next time), I got the family in the car and we went out for lunch and to explore what damage the ice had done in other neighborhoods.

Following lunch, we came home and I tried to teach the kids how to use a snow shovel to sled down the front yard.  Too bad – no matter how hard I tried to show them, they couldn’t get the hang of it.  With numb fingers, red noses and wet clothes, they came inside and, well, it was back to cabin fever again.  Maybe we’ll try again tomorrow.

As I write the snow is falling again.  I have a lot to do this week and a lot of it has not gotten done yesterday or today.  I’ve created some projects that can be done from home; some of which were long overdue in getting to, but nonetheless, I don’t like cabin fever. 

I think we get cabin fever in our relationship with God.  Two days of being locked up in my house and I can’t wait to get my hands on something and get it done.  I face the same thing in my relationship with God.  It’s hard to set still and just let him pour over me and start digging around inside of my heart.  I think I’ll take some time to be locked up in the cabin with God tomorrow!


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