Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bold Persistent Experimentation

In May of 1932, then New York Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt (running for President in a Great Depression era) called for "Bold, Persistent, Experimentation" in dealing with the failing U.S. economy.

I love the phrase already! Bold. Persistent. Experimentation. I think it would be a great church mission statement. Bold proclamation and presentation of the Gospel in a clear, relevant, and holistic way. Persistent evangelism, though with humility and incredulous love, and persistent discipleship not relenting until the transformation into Christlikeness is substantial; and persistence in fulfilling the Great Commandment and Great Commission; frankly, persistent in everything - taking so seriously that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few and that the local church is the hope of the world! Experimentation is such a great way to describe the humility it takes to try new ministry endeavors. Don't announce you are going to try this new such and such program for here on out; announce everything as a (bold, persistent) "Experiment"! Then when you experiment for bold, persistent effectiveness you can evaluate and adjust because you've given yourself an 'out' because it was just an experiment.

Above all, it seems that "Bold, Persistent, Experimentation" is an ideal motto for Church Planting!

You Never Let Go

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even when I’m caught in the middle of the storms of this life
I won’t turn back
I know You are near

And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?

Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me

And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
We’ll live to know You here on the earth

Yes, I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
Still I will praise You, still I will praise You

Matt Redman - You Never Let Go
From the album Passion 06: Everything Glorious

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Why Run?

Why Run by Adam Monaghan 9/24/08

1. It is fun! No matter what the occasion or conditions or context, running is fun. Even when it's not fun (i.e. temporary pain, discomfort, being lost on a trail, tripping in mud, having your shoes come off stuck in the mud, coming in last place or whatever) it's still fun because in the big picture, running is fun!

2. You feel good! So far in 5 years of running I can guarantee myself that I will always feel better after a run that before: mentally, emotionally, physically, and even spiritually. Even on the rare days when you are sore or it is uncomfortable, you still always feel better after than before in every way. And running isn’t easy, for the record. There are always days when you have to talk yourself out the door and one step at a time. The feeling and satisfaction of finishing a run is a great feeling. And, wow, that feeling when you cross the finish line of any organized run, especially a marathon, is the best!

3. It's an adventure! You see the world, make observations on outdoor life, other athletes and retreaters. You get to observe culture, road construction, vehicles, river life, and when and where the sun sets. You become an expert weatherman and forecaster from spending time outdoors. Even the everyone in a while indoor treadmill run is an adventure because you’re watching CNN and trying to read the text at the bottom of the screen but still keep running without falling off the machine. Running with tens of thousands of people at a marathon in Chicago or New York or running with 39 people at a 50-mile trail is both a great, unique adventure. I’ve encountered skunks, snakes, squirrels, rabbits, plenty of adventurous cars (they honk and wave and tell me I’m number one and that they don’t like my running shorts – go figure) and bicyclists who are going way faster than me and expect to have the right of way on the trail. What an adventure!

4. What a relief! If there’s a better way to unwind, decompress, de-stress or ‘chill out’, I’m not aware of it. After a hard day’s work or a stressful meeting, running helps me to focus and relax.

5. It’s a real life image of the spiritual life! Life isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon, maybe even an ultra. Holiness, and transformation into the image of Christ, likewise is a long, slow run! Running for me parallels my spiritual journey. Sometimes I feel like I am running the narrow road. Sometimes I feel that on that road I am joined by tens of thousands and other times while I know I am covering ground on the way to the finish line, it feels I am lost on the trail. Running gives the best analogies and metaphors for sharing my spiritual journey and challenging others to a spiritual journey towards Christ.

6. It’s a great way to connect! While it’s true that I’ve done about 98% of all my running and training all by myself, I do like to run with others. I like to run with friends, students, up and coming runners, whoever! Times flies and competition soars when you run with others. I’ve experienced some of the richest fellowship ever while running marathons and ultra. In marathons you can learn the basics about someone’s life and semi-connect. In an ultra you can hear their whole life story and then some! And I really do love connections!

7. It helps me feel healthy! Of course, I run to feel healthy and be healthy. I’ve tried to biking a little here and there too, but nothing makes me feel as healthy as a good run. (Studies and science tend to agree as far as I’ve read too, the most calories burned per mile as a sustainable/reasonable time/pace.) Also, I have this ridiculous fear (I know it’s unfounded and unreasonable and it’s certainly not going to happen to me!) that one day I will grow old. I don’t want to wake up one day (a long, long time from now!), realize I am old and wish I’d have lived. Running is one way for me to “live” right now!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Right Now!

On Sunday we had "Church in the Park" in Bel Aire. We used the following Van Halen song, "Right Now" in our outdoor church service. One person painted the cross on a big white sheet while another held up the lyrics to this song. During the solo, we showed John 3:16 and Jesus' words from Luke about our opportunity to experience the Kingdom of God 'right now'. What a fun and unique portrayal of the gospel!

Don't wanna wait til tomorrow,
Why put it off another day?
One more walk through problems,
Built up,
and stand in our way, ah
One step ahead,
one step behind me
Now you gotta run to get even
Make future plans,
don't dream about yesterday, hey
C'mon turn,
turn this thing around

(CHORUS) Right now, hey
It's your tomorrow
Right now,
C'mon,its everything
Right now,
Catch a magic moment, do it
Right here and now
It means everything

Miss the beat,
you lose the rhythm,
And nothing falls into place, no
Only missed by a fraction,
Slipped a little off your pace, oh
The more things you get,
the more you want,
Just trade in one for the other,
Workin' so hard, to make it easier, whoa
Got to turn, c'mon turn this thing around (CHORUS)

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Hardcore Running Weekend

As I am now in peak training season for this fall's running events, this past weekend contained back-to-back hardcore runs!

Saturday, I ran a 21 mile "free-for-all" run in Topeka, Kansas sponsored by the Great Plains Running Company. The run started in Dover, Kansas and winded on highways and country roads back to Topeka. It was a warm, muggy morning but it was a great day to run. I met some very nice people along the way and finished happy and feeling good in about 3 hours and 45 minutes.

Sunday morning was the Wichita 1/2 Marathon, which is my second year in a row to run it so I think that makes it a tradition! (The best part of the tradition is running through the finish line and then several blocks to my car and then drying off, changing clothes and going to church!) So on sore legs, I still beat last years Wichita 1/2 Marathon time by three minutes and finished in 1:45:28 (my person record for that distance!). It is a great course with lots of participants along the Arkansas ("Are-Kansas") River. I averaged slightly slower than 8 minutes/mile and actually got faster instead of slower as the race went on. I probably passed 75 people in the last three miles - which is a really good feeling. I finished 160th out of 844. I feel so good (more mentally than physically but still) that I am headed out for a run today (Monday) in Haviland where I am spending the day on campus at Barclay College visiting with students and participating in their annual Missional Leadership Conference (formerly known as Missions Emphasis Week).

Wichita 1/2 Marathon results:

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Last Saturday, September 13th, I ran a 25-kilometer trail run at Lake Perry (15 miles or so away from Topeka, KS). It had rained all week long and was raining Saturday morning as the run started. It was warm and muggy and overcast. I anticipated lots and lots of mud and was suprised and pleased that overall I didn't encounter too much until the end. It was wet and slick, however, with lots of standing water (but luckily with often a clay underfoot instead of dirt which would mean mud). I did a 'face plant' about 4 miles in, tripping on a rock that was submerged in water and landing in a soft, muddy spot. I was covered from head to toe on the left side of my body. I got up, laughed, and kept running. The guys running around me laughed too. I had the pleasure of running several miles with my new friend Gary Henry (Lunar Trek, July). It turned out to be a good day, though by the end of the 15.5 miles, I was covered in mud almost completely and ready to sit down after running for 3 hours, 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

The race is called the Rock Creek Trail Series and put on by the Great Plains Running Company out of Topeka. To see final results and info:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Communicating for a Change

I just finished perhaps the best book I’ve ever read on communication (public speaking, teaching, or “preaching”) called Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones. The book is very practical, very helpful, and very challenging. Some of my favorite quotes:

Let’s face it, the reason so many churches are half full on Sunday morning is because a whole bunch of people decided not to come back. Why? The preacher didn’t give ‘em anything to come back for. There were plenty of points, but nothing worth coming back for the following week. 115

I find something disingenuous about the speaker who says, “This is very, very important,” and then reads something from his notes. Constantly referring to notes communicates, “I have not internalized this message. I want everybody else to internalize it, but I haven’t.” 135

How you say what you say is as important as what you say. Presentation determines your audience’s attention span…The point is, when we are engaged, time flies. When we are not engaged time stands still. The issue is not the span of people’s attention. The issue is our ability to capture and hold people’s attention. 146-7

My assumption is, if I don’t capture the audience’s attention in the first five minutes, all is lost. 154

My style can become a smoke screen for any number of bad communication habits. Through the years I’ve heard too many preachers and teachers play the style card to keep from having to change and improve. Boring is not a style. Boring is boring. Confusing may be a style. But it is still confusing. Each of our communication habits, both good and bad, are part of our style. But bad habits need to be eliminated from our style, not defended as part of it. 170

Moral of the story, clarity trumps style. Clarity trumps just about everything. 175

Friday, September 12, 2008

I Am the Gate for the Sheep

God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.
Even when the way goes through Death Valley,
I'm not afraid when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd's crook makes me feel secure.
You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.
Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.
I'm back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.
Psalm 23 The Message

Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. "I'll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn't listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of."
John 10:9-10 The Message

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Quaker Vision

“The Quaker Vision”
By Lewis Benson
(New Foundation publications, No. 4, Winter 1979)

The central thrust of Fox’s critical attach on organized Christianity is aimed at its failure to bring men to a knowledge and experience of the power of God. If the gospel is the power of God, how can we preach it, or receive it, or be gathered into a gospel fellowship, if we are strangers to the power of it? Fox sees the evidence of power everywhere in the New Testament, and in so far as he is calling for a revival of primitive Christianity, it is the power of primitive Christianity that he is trying to revive…For Fox, a gospel that does not bring men to the experience of the power of God is not gospel.
The power that Fox knew experientially was a power with a name, and a voice, and a redemptive purpose for mankind. (p32)

The church of the cross is a community that obeys together and suffers together. It does not divide and scatter under persecution. The church under persecution, says Fox, should be like a flock of sheep on a high hill in a winter storm, standing together with their backs and tails against the weather. He says, “No longer do you keep in the fellowship, but as you keep in the cross of Christ…therefore it is called the mystery of the fellowship of the cross of Christ which is the power of God.” (p35)

The Christian conception of redemption is incompatible with all schemes of spiritual self-culture. Man cannot solve his basic human problem by controlling and exploiting the forces of nature. Redemption is in God’s hands. In love and mercy and grace he comes to all men with the free gift of redemption which is Jesus Christ. (p45)

The universal message of George Fox is a proclamation concerning Jesus Christ. Fox is telling us that Christ is alive and that he is present in the midst of all who gather together in his name. Christ is not only present in the midst of his people: he is actively present. He actively leads and guides his people. He teaches them what is right and gives them the power to do what is right. He is the living Head, and King and Ruler of God’s people. He is the living Priest who intercedes for them and has the power to forgive. He is their living Prophet, like Moses, who reveals the righteousness of God, not by giving a new legal code of morals, but by giving himself as their living moral teacher. He is a living Orderer who guides his people into a disciplined, ordered gospel fellowship. (p53)

The proclamation of this revolutionary gospel message in the 17th century produced explosive consequences. But the preaching of this gospel soon ceased to be the first concern of the Quakers. Gradually, the concern to lay again the gospel foundation in all the world drifted into the background of Quaker life. The gospel message that Fox preached became a fading memory. His vision of the recovered apostolic gospel that was to go to all nations ceased to kindle apostolic fervor in Quaker hearts. After three centuries the Quakers have come to accept the self-image of a small sect in a big world. (p54)

Monday, September 8, 2008

What Kind of Carpenter Are You?

These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.
But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don't work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.
Matthew 7:24-27 The Message

Friday, September 5, 2008

Plead Your Case

How would you communicate this message if your eighteen-year-old son had made up his mind to walk away from everything you have taught him, morally, ethically, and theologically, unless he had a compelling reason not to? What would you say this morning if you knew that was at stake? Because for somebody's son out there this may be his last chance. Now quit worrying about your outline. Go out there and plead your case like your own son's future was at stake.

Andy Stanley, Communicating for a Change p. 98-99

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Pray for "Sedgwick Small Group"

"Sedgwick Small Group" is a ministry outreach of Crossroads Friends Church to youth of Sedgwick, KS (and surrounding areas). All Junior High and High School youth are welcome (as of Fall 2008)!

"The New Crib"

Since mid-August, my brother, Andrew, and I now call this house on Munnell Street "home" (or something like that!?). We live near downtown Wichita.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Let Your Roots Grow Down Into Him

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Colossians 2:6-7 NLT

It Should Be A Holiday!

When the first big cool front of the year comes in to give relief to the hot, humid summer, everything should shut down for a day. It should be a national holiday! That's my opinion. How refreshing is the cool, dry, air blowing briskly from the north!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Dream Big

I ran the "Dream Big" 5k benefiting the Kansas Joint & Spine Institute (second year in a row to run this) on Saturday and finished third in my age division (25-29), and 19th out of 110 with a time of 20:03. Race Results: My dad and step-brother T.J. came to watch. T.J. just might be inspired to run a 5k of his own sometime soon. I forgot my camera at home.