Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Multi-Cultural/Multi-Generational Christmas 2006

We had our first multi-cultural/multi-generational Christmas Day yesterday. We shared the holyday with our friends from Taiwan (Ken and Richard), our friend from Japan (Miho), and our friend from the coffee shop (Mr. Dillon). We had an outstanding time. One of the highlights was the gingerbread house competition. I think the girls won. Thank you Ken, Richard, Miho, and Mr. Dillon, for making our family Christmas Day a memorable one.

In the picture (from left to right): Caryn, Cayla, Miho, Ken, Jeremiah, Mr Dillon, and Richard (in the foreground)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Los Angeles

I had a great time in Los Angeles. I went with my friends, Roy McClung and Joseph Cartwright, to spend some time dreaming and processing some kingdom thoughts with our friend, Neil Cole. Between meals (isn't that how it always is?) we talked philosophy and theology for the kingdom and coming harvest.

From left to right you have Roy, Neil, and Joseph. We're enjoying the SoCal weather and a cup of coffee from It's A Grind. It's always great to find out that I am not a freak because of the way I think the kingdom should grow...or that I am, but at least I'm not alone! Thanks, Neil, for your gracious hospitality. I'll be posting more on my thoughts from our "think-tank."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Snow Day!

Last Wednesday, as I drifted off to sleep, the snow was falling and the wind was blowing. Thursday morning, we awoke to somewhere between 4-8 inches of snow. Snow? It's only November! And, from what I read this morning, more could be on its way.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


Caryn and I spent Thanksgiving night with some new friends. Our friends, Ken and Miho, own the Yamagata Japanese steak house on W. 82nd. They were closed for Thanksgiving, but wanted to use the down time to decorate for Christmas. Caryn and I helped decorate, and then the 5 of us went to TGI Fridays. The 5th person with us was Ken's older brother, Richard. Richard is new to USAmerica, but is having a great time. One of our friends, Parke, helped make Richard's first night in America a much better night than it would have been. Richard was stranded at D/FW airport because he missed his flight to Lubbock. Parke took great care of him and made sure Richard got on the plane to Lubbock the next morning. Thanks Parke!
Yamagata is a regular part of our week, so Ken, Miho, and Richard have become regular friends in our week. We are thankful for our new friends, and encourage everyone in Lubbock to give Yamagata a try. The food is great and the service even better! If you stop in, tell Ken that you read about them in my blog!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Turkey Day

I just wanted to tell everyone "Happy Thanksgiving." I'm settling in to watch the Cowboys beat the Bucs. Have a blessed and relaxing weekend.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Be still and KNOW

Being still is such a hard thing to do. I mean, here I am sitting on Lake Austin, at what may be my favorite coffee shop on the planet, Mozart's, and I'm working...

I discovered Mozart's about 11 years ago by accident. Caryn and I lived here right after we got married in 1996. I was serving a small country church as the Youth & Music Minister, and coffee shops were just becoming hip. I was surfing the internet checking out the local coffee scene when I happened upon a review of Mozart's. We loaded up a van full of teenagers and came to listen to jazz music on the deck that overlooks the lake. It became a regular outting for us. Caryn and I would come here often and just sit on the deck. I would have coffee and she would get a smoothie from the health store next door. There's a funny story I always think about when I'm here. After Caryn and I moved away, we would come back to Austin and meet with former students who were now adults. One of our former students had just met a girl at the university where he was attending, and wanted us to meet her. He brought her over, and we all sat out on the deck. Right in the middle of our conversation, a bird swooped down on her and pooped in her hair! She was mortified and embarassed. We were all very comforting, assuring her that it could have happened to any of us. Her greatest fear was that we would only remember her as "the girl that got pooped on at Mozart's." Well, they didn't date long. And sure enough, when we talk about that fateful day, we don't remember her name. We just say, "Remember that girl that got pooped on at Mozart's?"

So, anyway, here I am 11 years later, and it's just like I remember it, except they have wireless internet now (which didn't exist when I first came here). I'm out on the deck, literally over the water of the lake. Ducks swim by. Birds are chirpping. A gentle breeze is blowing. I couldn't ask for a more ideal setting (other than the guy having a conference call on SKIPE next to me would hang up or move away!). The guy two tables over has his headphones on and can't hear his cell phone ringing, but everyone else can. There's seven of us on this side of the building, perhaps 20 more on the main deck. Almost to a person, there are laptops, cell phones, PDA's, Blackberries, and briefcases everywhere. I've got my headphones on listening to my Lounge Worship collection (who knew I liked lounge music? hahaha). Strangely enough, though, it's peaceful (again, accept for headset man next to me). My heart is beating somewhat slower. The breeze rolls by at just the right moment to make sure that it doesn't get hot out here. And, somehow, I feel like I can hear God better. It's weird, I know. How many of the people here are experiencing what I am? Maybe all of them. Probably not. It occurs to me that I am precious and wonderful to a God who put this lake here for His glory and my connection. It's a divine moment. Like the water, God brings life and refreshing. Like the breeze, He moves where He wants, His timing perfect. Like the birds, He creates a symphony unmatched by any other. And me? I'm like one of the speed boats over there that zips and zooms through it all oblivious because I'm moving too fast. That is, until I run out of gas. That's the real danger, I think. I think we can miss what God is doing because we are so busy and so surrounded by distractions. We miss who He is because we are so caught up in trying to be who we are. Take a moment this morning (a much needed moment I'm sure) to stop and breathe. Breathe God in. Breathe Him out. Notice Him in the world around you. Are you tired? Stop. Be still. KNOW that He is GOD. Look for Him. Those who seek Him find Him and find eternal life. In Him we live and move and breathe. And when we do find Him, He is able to use us to exalt Himself in all the world; but especially our lives. Shhh. Rest. Wait. Hope. Breathe. It's gonna be alright. Look for Him. He's here. He's waiting. He's moving. Just stop and wait.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Life on the Road

The last two years, when DNow (Disciple Now is a retreat done usually by local churches for their students) season hits I get swamped. I didn't realize last year that this year would be even more hectic. Last weekend was the only weekend I didn't have a trip scheduled (and I did take a trip rapelling in Palo Duro Canyon. You can see the pictures here: http://www.theheightsfellowship.org/youth/canyonexcursion.htm ). This weekend it was a bit different. The DNow was in town, and I had a great time. Next weekend, NOTHING! and then the next is Thanksgiving, followed by a college retreat in Birmingham, AL. Then a trip to California, and then it's just about Christmas time!
Thanks to all of you who have been praying for me as I travel. God has done some amazing things.
I leave in the morning for Austin, and a much needed break. I'm looking forward to getting to hang with some friends, eat some good ol' Austin food (Chuy's, HydePark Grill, etc.). If you are down that way, drop me a line. I'm still looking for an affordable place to sleep! Maybe I can get some Barry and Cory G. time!
Anyway, things are going well with The Journey. We're actually starting to see folks step up and take on the ministry. We're starting to multiply our efforts and God is blessing.
well, that's it for now. It's 1:30 a.m. on Sunday night/Monday morning, and I'm off to bed.
Peace in the East,

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

And a part of me died...

Aroma's, my favorite coffee shop, changed ownership last week. The new owner seems to be a very personable lady. She's swept in and is making changes. Some of them very necessary and very good. She's working on the music system, rearranged furniture, adding live music, changing the art and decor. Business seems to be picking up. From a business standpoint, it looks very good and promising. But, I knew that some of these changes were going to be painful and difficult the first day she was "at the helm." I walked into Aroma's Therapy (the new name...) and instead of the familiar waft of coffee scent that greats my senses when I walk in, my pallet encountered the smell of berries from a strong scented candle. As I entered I noticed celaphane gift baskets on the counter. That's when it happened: my brain screamed, "the coffee shop has been feminized!" And a part of me died...

Monday, October 30, 2006

A Black Day Indeed

I just found out that Aroma's is being sold. That may mean that my time with the current staff is limited. For the last 18 months this has been my 3rd place. Will it continue to be? Will I be starting over with a new staff? Man, Oh man.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Hank Hill Would Be Proud!

I just got back from a great conference in Littlefield, TX. FBC there (one of The Journey's supporting churches) held a Global Impact Conference. They brought in missionaries from around the world, and treated us like heroes all week long. It was a humbling experience, to say the least. To be included in such a group of great men and women was quite an honor for my family. Thanks Joe, and everyone else from FBC, for a great week!

On another note, Littlefield is a rural town outside of Lubbock. I was without wireless internet and a coffee shop. HOWEVER, R & W Supply (the local propane suppy store) was kind enough to allow me to use their confernce room and cool coffee machine. So, at the local propane store I had wireless and great coffee. Hank Hill would be proud!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Coffee, music, art abound
all a shallow facade
That represent the path of life
most have chose to trod.

But here, stirring, growing
from deep within my soul
An engulfing, eager longing
to express that I am whole

And in expression, perhaps, to see
in another's face
A similar anxious longing
to live in Jesus' grace

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Love Proceeded

For the last few weeks I've been pondering something that first occured to me while sitting in a little bistro here in Lubbock and listening to Dr. Skoob and the electric groove (great local band). The question that popped into my ears is, "Is it true that giving and generosity are always preceeded by love?" The question came as a result of hearing a conversation nearby during a break in the music (you know how it goes. Two people talking really loud toover the music when it suddenly stops...it was funny!) In the break, I caught most of the question and really began to mull it over. Does love always preceed giving and generosity? My friend Jib posted an article by his dad, that does an excellent job of hitting the nature of giving in his article "Community: Rich With Joy, Ripe With Hazzard." As he asserts, there is an element of selfishness in our giving. But the question still remains do we give as a product of love? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Cloning Culture

As you have read in a previous post, "Cloning Culture, Killing Life," you know that I don't think it's healthy to try to recreate culture...that is, unless you are Weird Al. He Rocks! Check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWs1FF-BS7c I think the most disturbing thing is that so much of White & Nerdy's life looks like mine...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

My 4-day "Retreat"

Thank you to so many of you who have been praying. Many of you may not know that I have been in the hospital since Saturday afternoon. Late Saturday night I underwent an emergency apendectomy (sp). It seems that my appendix had not ruptured yet, but had been seeping infected fluids into my abdominal cavity. So, now it is Tuesday morning and I am still at Covenant Lakeside (rm 516) awaiting word that all the infection from the seepage (gross word) has been killed. I have LOTS of staples in my stomach. It's kinda cool looking; like a zipper across my midsection. I have four holes from the laproscopic procedure. The down side is that, as many of you know, being off my feet since Saturday is driving me nuts! We were hoping I'd go home yesterday morning, and then hoping again this morning, but so far, no word. Thanks for praying for us. Caryn and the kids have been troopers. And many of you stepped up to help watch kids, visit, and make sure that the Bishop family was well loved/cared for. I appreciate that greatly. So, keep praying.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Good Stuff

Have you ever eaten somewhere that you eat all the time only to realize that you like more than you remember? Freebirds is that way for me! Freebirds world burritos Rocks! We ate there last night, and it's still on my mind, and possibly on my schedule for dinner tonight!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Centering Prayer

“Choose a suitable time for reflection and frequently consider the loving-kindness of God.” -Thomas a Kempis

Welcome back. Prayer can be a time of making our requests known to God. It can be a time of crying out for help. It can be a habit before a meal. We forget, though, that prayer can be a time of moving toward utter stillness and listening. This type of prayer is called Centering Prayer. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon reminds us that, as humans, we should be careful to approach the throne of God with few words, writing, “Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.” That stings a bit! I can almost see this sacrifice of fools in my own life: that I approach God with my busy life, offer many words that I think should be important to God, and go away the same man. Centering Prayer can be traced back to the writings of one of the desert fathers named John Cassian (c. 360 – 430), who came from the west to the desert to learn the ways of contemplative prayer. If you can get it, read his book, The Conferences. It’s a collection of his thoughts and conversations with the desert fathers written to acquaint the Western Church with the teachings of the desert fathers. In this work, he writes about a conference with Abba Isaac on the topic of true prayer. Abba Isaac prescribes a formula for prayer that will assist us “to maintain an unceasing recollection of God” by keeping it ever before us. The formula, Cassian writes, is this: “O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me.” Obviously, there is nothing magical or mystical in the mindless recitation of a mantra. But should you recite it with a heart-felt stirring, a desire for God to really do as you are asking, Isaac says the result is that “by God’s light the mind mounts to the manifold knowledge of God, and thereafter feeds on mysteries loftier and more sacred…the prayer wherein, like a spark leaping up from a fire, the mind is rapt upward, and, destitute of the aid of senses or of anything else visible or material, pours out its prayers to God.” [Pennington (1980) 11,12] It is this approach, brought forth by Cassian, that was the primary influence on monastic practice for over 1000 years.

In the 14th Century, there was an anonymous mystic who wrote The Cloud of Unknowing. This is the first of the spiritual classics in our language, and is a reaction to the intellectualization of theology and spirituality. This work admonishes follower of Christ to return to a prayer of the heart, giving techniques and ideas on moving into existential realities of contemplation and silence. This unknown mystic takes the prayer of Abba Isaac and combines it with the discipline of utter stillness and silence in an effort to accomplish a centering prayer. Johnston writes, “Here is what you are to do: lift up your heart to the Lord, with a gentle stirring of love desiring Him for His own sake and not for His gifts. Center all your attention and desire on Him and let this be the sole concern of your mind and heart. Do all in your power to forget everything else, keeping your thoughts and desires free from involvement with any of God’s creatures or their affairs in general or in particular. Perhaps this will seem like an irresponsible attitude, but I tell you, let them all be; pay no attention to them.” [Johnston, ch. 3]

Unlike the Jesus Prayer, it’s not a repetitive model. The one praying is encouraged to choose a simple, monosyllabic word, like “hope” or “Christ.” During this time, when the mind is distracted or chooses to wander, the word is used to bring it back to focus. In The Cloud, this silence is pointed to as the quiet of Elijah in 1 Kings 19. The NRSV calls it “sheer silence.” The anonymous mystic also points to Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus in Luke 10. While Martha goes about the rigors of preparation and necessary tasks of the “active life,” Mary sits at Jesus feet serving as an example of the contemplative life. In the midst of the busyness of the moment, Mary forgot all and was completely wrapped in His presence, turning to Him with all of her heart. It’s not that she observed Him, noting His body, voice, or odor, but she centered on Him and is basking in His love for her. This is what makes Centering Prayer different from Ignatian meditation (a form of meditation where the one meditating place themselves into the Biblical narrative and imagines being there in the action as the narrative unfolds around them).

In Practice, the Centering Prayer has been practiced with many minute differences, but these 5 steps are the essentials that seem to be in common with all of the various forms.

Step 1: Find a place to sit comfortably, and with your eyes closed, let yourself settle down. Let go of all tensions, worries, thoughts, sensations you feel and think about God’s love for you. Begin to rest for the moment in God’s love as Mary did. Remember, He is the God that dwells in you.
Step 2: Effortlessly, take up a word, a symbol of your desire/intention to give yourself completely to Him and His presence, and let that word be gently present, a murmur of your mind rather than an asserted point. The word should be monosyllabic and should communicate God’s love to and for you.
Step 3: When you become aware of your thoughts, or you begin to notice sensations, or as internal sensations arise, use that as a signal to return to your word again. This helps to affirm your desire to separate from the external and to go rest in God’s presence.
Step 4: If your thoughts do subside and you find yourself resting or restfully aware, you can even let go of the word. Just be in that stillness. When thoughts begin to stir again, gently return to that word. Answer your thoughts with that one word. For instance, as I practiced this method, my word was “peace.” As I sat in silence, and began to rest, my mind drifted to a retreat I was planning for. My internal “to do” list popped up. But, in response to that desire to plan/prepare/work, I said, “peace.” “Jason, you need to be getting ready.” “Peace.” What if no one shows up?” “Peace.” What if it doesn’t go as planned?” “Peace.” “peace” was my response to my thoughts, questions, and anxieties.
Step 5: At the end of your prayer time (I’m working towards 20 minutes in the morning and 20 in the evening), take a couple of minutes to come out of the silence, like coming back into reality at the end of a massage. This is a great time to express your thanks to God for His care for you, and to lift others to Him for His care.

Give it a try. See what happens, and check back for more later. If you’d like to read more about his topic, and some of the others I’ve been talking about, check out www.lectiodivina.org/centering .


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Jesus Prayer

"Let all your thoughts be with the Most High, and direct your humble prayers unceasingly to Christ." -Thomas a Kempis

The Jesus prayer began, so it seems, as one young man's attempt to discover how to really pray without ceasing. In his travels, he discovered an old hermit that explained to him that "The ceaseless Jesus Prayer is a continuous, uninterrupted call on the holy name of Jesus Christ with the lips, mind, and heart; and in the awareness of His abiding presences it is a plea for His blessing in all undertakings, in all places, at all times, even in sleep. The words of the Prayer are: 'Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.' Anyone who becomes accustomed to this prayer will experience great comfort as well as the need to say it continuously. He will become accustomed to it to such a degree that he will not be able to do without it and eventually the Prayer will flow from him." {Jones p. 60} The hermit pointed the young man to the ancient writings of Desert Fathers in a collection called the Philokalia. Through the use of a prayer rope and this prayer, the young man began to build this prayer into his life as a repitition, a habit that became an essential part of his life. The young man later travels the country side of Russia teaching this prayer to all who would learn. You can read about his travels in the anonymous book The Way Of The Pilgrim, a journal of his travels.

His discovery has actually been a foundational part of Eastern Christianity since the early 1400's. It seems that this practice of the Jesus Prayer can be traced back to Abba Philemon of the sixth century. The Jesus Prayer is a combination of Greek asceticism (excercise/training) and hesycahsm (quietness) seeking to combined the mind and heart in a unified prayer. The early church fathers taught that when this is accomplished through the quieting of the mind and focusing of the heart (through the use of this simple repetitive prayer/phrase) the believer will be illuminated, particularly with the truths fo Scripture. This Jesus Prayer speaks to the very nature of our travails in life; the fact that God is always ready to enlighten us, but our own nature seldom remembers the need for it.

In our times, the Jesus Prayer has been amended to have a tag that makes it read like this: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." I prefer to leave the last phrase off because I am no longer a sinner if I've been redeemed by Christ. The New Testament calls me a saint. However, if the goal of this repetetive prayer is to remind us of our need for God's mercy, it may be an appropriate tag for the exercise. As I've put this into practice, trying to recite it as many times as I can during the day, I am finding that as my mind quiets, my lips purse and the prayer comes out. It's bleeding into my subconscious. The practice has become somewhat of a mantra for me. The desert fathers suggested recitation of this prayer upwards of 5,000 times a day! I'm nowhere near that, but with this prayer on my mind, it slips into my day and reminds me contstantly of my need for Christ Jesus.

In practice, I've tried to focus on a rhythmic pattern. As I breathe in, I say, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God." Then, as I exhale, I finish, "have mercy on me." Give it a try and let me know how it goes for you. It's been a great thing for me.
Next up, centering prayer...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Silence And Solitude

"In silence and quietness the devout soul makes progress and learns the hidden mysteries of the Scriptures." - Thomas a Kempis
"Hectic" best describes most of our lives. "Noisy" and "Busy" come to mind as well. The wisdom of Proverbs admonishes us, "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." (18:21) The Scriptures attest to this in several places. The ancient fathers bear witness to its truth, as well. And yet, we live lives that are contrary to the consensus of these witnesses. They agree that much talking is a vice and that silence is a virtue. I know I forget that often. The greatest witness to this is Jesus, Himself. Although He taught publically, He also valued times of silence and solitude, seeking to emerse Himself in prayer and reflection. He also prepared for times of distress with times of solitude. But that word frightens many of us today. Solitude, silence, the idea of being alone and left to ourselves rattles us. For the Christ-follower, we're never turly alone, and silence is only a greater opportunity for us to listen. To quote the book I'm reading, "All in all, no spiritual discipline is more universally acclaimed as necessary than the practice of silence." Rufinus, Jerome, Benedict, and even modern day pilgrims like Willard and Foster commend silence as a necessity. But why solitude? It really isn't about withdrawing to avoid evil or people. It is about posturing ourselves to better listen to The Father. Richard Foster, one of my favorite all time writers, connects solitude with silence, saying, "Without silence there is no solitude. Though silence sometimes involves the absence of speech, it always involves the act of listening. Simply to refrain from talking, without a heart listening to God, is not silence." The need to listen requires silence, and the need for silence requires solitude. It's no wonder that with all the noise of life (iPods, CD players, TV, cell phones, etc.) that we have a hard time hearing God's voice. All of the ancient writings point toward silence and solitude being foundational in developing our love of God, self, and others.

In addition to needing to hear from God, silence and solitude provide us the opportunity to find what we can learn from ourselves without the external stimuli that are around us. St. John of the Cross (1542 - 1591) says that this type of silence often leads to The Dark Night Of The Soul. We can't truly pursue silence without ending up in a season of deep dark doubt where we hear nothing but our own depravity. Our desire to be plugged into God, fully listening and fully aware brings us to a place of dealing with that which hinders us most: ourselves. But when we enter into that lonliness, that deep dark doubt of our own inner struggle, we emerge with more patience and fortitude. We hear and are made stronger for it. Our faith is bolstered. We become aware of our true selves when we're "swallowed up" in God; realizing the freedom of being rather than doing. And when we discover this new self, fulfilled only in our immersion into Christ, we begin to bear fruit. It is in The Dark Night Of The Soul that the soil is replentished. Then the seed takes root and fruit is produced. John Climacus writes, "Intelligent silence is the mother of prayer, freedom from bondage, custodian of zeal, a guard on our thoughts, a watch on our enemies...a companion of stillness, the opponent of dogmatism, a growth of knowledge, a hand to shape contemplation, hidden progress, the secret journey upward." Richard Foster's quote on the product of silence and solitude bears great weight in whether it is worth the pursuit, He writes, "the fruit of solitude is increased sensitivity and compassion for others. There comes a new freedom to be with people. There is a new attentiveness to their needs, new responsiveness to their hurts." Summary? Being quiet and being alone on a regular basis makes us better people and better disciples. It makes us more useful, more set apart and more aware of the work of Christ in and around us.

Will you join me in the practice of regular silence and solitude? I am building into my life this discipline by working out 2 hours a week (not necessarily consecutive) of silence. I will be building to a 1/2 day a month and a two-day retreat a year. I've already contacted a monastery in Pecos, NM, about the use of their facility. Like any other worth-while things in our lives, we must make them a priority and get them on our calendar. Will you put silence and solityde on your calendar?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Lectio Divina

The first of the Via Contemplativa (the way of contemplation) that I want to bring to the table is that of Lectio Divina, or Divine Reading.
All too often, Christ followers come to the Holy Scriptures for advice or to prepare for a lesson instead of a contemplative reading that allows Scripture to shape us as God sees fit. I know that my life is full of reading. That reading is usually around an event or a need, rather than a contemplative or meditative reading. Sound familiar? Thomas a Kempis counseled believers saying, “Do not read to satisfy curiosity or to pass the time, but study such things as move your heart to devotion.” The Scriptures and early church fathers testify that by entering deeply into the text of God’s Word as a believer gives God an avenue to reveal Himself to us, to speak to us, and to direct our lives. Paul affirms this in 2 Tim. where he says that Scripture is inspired and profitable. St. Benedictine (c. 480 – 550) found this such a primacy that he built it into the practices of his monastery, cementing this practice into Western Monasticism. Indeed, on this topic of Divine Reading, Guigo II (c. 1115 – 1198), the ninth prior of the Grand Charteuse (a Carthusian order in France), gives us great insight into what he called “The Ladder Of Monastics.” He says divine reading consists of four “steps” that I want to encourage you to put into practice this very day.

The first step is reading (lectio). Find a distraction free place, which is hard to do in our society. Also, grab a copy of God’s Word that is free from distraction. That is, find an easy to understand translation. I would also encourage you to get something that flows freely without study notes. Too often we allow the study notes to be what we take from God’s Word, and not The Word Himself. The New Jerusalem Bible, or the William’s NT are great for this. Sometimes we don’t think our reading places through, and a lack of light, or a stirring hunger, or a lack of sleep keep us from giving the text our full attention. We must give this time of lectio divina our full effort. Once you have all the distractions removed, choose a text and ask for/expect direction and insight from God.

Oh, one other thing; read slowly! Savor each word. Educator Michael Casey reminds us, “we need to slow down, to savor what we read, and to allow the text to trigger memories and associations that reside below the threshold of awareness.” As you read in this fashion, some things will stand out to you. That brings us to the second step.

The second step is meditation (meditation). During meditation we grasp the “interior intelligence” of the text. We wrap our minds around the values, the underlying assumptions, and the presumptions of the passage. It’s in attending to these deeper meanings that we begin to meditate. Dwell on the things that stand out to you, and explore the feelings and emotions that are conjured in your inner being. Embrace the sorrow of lamentations, the joy and sorrow of the Psalms, the tension and passion of the Passion week. Explore and chew on what your mind is fed.

The third step is prayer (oratio). Engage The Father in meaningful conversation about what you’ve just taken in. Allow Him to speak to you in the moments that follow. The Master Teacher wants to instruct and embrace you with His guidance, wisdom, and direction.

The last step of the lectio divina is that of contemplation (contemplatio). This final step will prove to be the hardest of the four. True contemplation drives us beyond words and intellect; into what Tony Jones calls the “thin space” where time and eternity almost touch. He says, “It’s in moments like these that some of the greatest saints in the history of the church have had a ‘mystical union’ with Christ. This step requires us to imagine our existence in the new paradigm of what God has just shown us. To think back to how life would be had we already been practicing the lesson of the Teacher, and to think ahead to how life will be different marks real contemplation. Don’t just converse with God about the lesson of the reading, ask Him to paint a picture so vivid it’s beyond description. Contemplation is the embracing and dreaming of that vision.

A lot to chew on, I know, but worth the effort. Next up will be Silence and Solitude. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Shaping Of A Soul

Welcome back. I've been reading a book called "Soul Shaper." It sat on my shelf neglected for the better part of a year because it looks like the Owner's Manual for a new car. Last week, I picked it up and started to read it. What a refreshing surprise. The book covers one of my favorite topics: Spiritual Disciplines. Over the next few weeks, I want to share some of those with you here. I will be sharing two catagories of disciplines. The first is the Via Contemplativa (The Way Of Contemplation). The second category covers the Via Activa (The Way Of Activity). I hope you'll come back and feed your soul on what's about to come.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Signs, Signs, Everywhere there's signs...

Planting a church has opened my eyes to many things church related. I've noticed how many churches choose to market themselves through their marquees. Living in the Bible belt, I see lots of church marquees. And I'll start by saying that I've never seen a good church marquee. I quite often ask myself, "What were they thinking?" Seriously, do these marquees bring people into the kingdom? Do people drive by and say, "You know, they are right. I need to go to that church."? If you know someone who came to faith because of a church marquee, would you comment about it below?

The signs I see are mostly Christian wittisisms that speak to the people inside more than they speak to the people outside. If they do speak to the people outside, it's usually negative because the people inside don't understand how to speak to those on the outside. A church marquee near my home dares people to try their web site. If they really understood people, it would double-dog dare you to try their web site. One sign says, "Tell Satan to go to hell...He needs to go home." If you are reading this, and you are in charge of your community's signage, just put your service times up, or special events you're having. As a tool for advertising, advertise your product instead of saying, "Come inside...We're prayer-conditioned."

Here's the real point, though: Your people should be your signs. Jesus made that clear when He said things like, "By this all men will know you are My disciples, if you love one another." or "Let your light so shine before men that they see your good deeds and they glorify your Father in Heaven." Trust me, people living missional (making disciples) and incarnational (the presence of Jesus in the real world) lives are a much better outreach tool than your marquee.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


What a whirlwind! In the last week I have fished and eaten catfish on Lake Texoma, stayed 2 nights at Eisenhower state park, visited with my in-laws and my mom, spoken at Mosaic Arlington, attended their leadership meetings, took the kids swimming Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; been to Six Flags, driven through Weatherford, arrived home, and barely made it to game night last night! All in all, it was over 1,000 miles of driving. The best I can figure, I spent 18 hours behind the wheel of our Saturn in the last 6 days. It was a great trip, but I am glad to be home.
During my trip, I noticed a couple of church signs that were thought provoking. I'll post on that soon.
While I'm thinking about it, check out where this blog got mentioned: http://www.sbtexas.com/default.asp?action=article&aid=3060&issue=7/31/2006
My friends Stephen and Roy are cited their, too. So, I'll be back later with my thoughts on church signs.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Routines, Cocooning, And Sabboth

I never thought of myself as a creature of habit. But, it turns out I am. I realized over the last two months that I need a regular schedule. I've always prided myself on flexibility and my "always on the go" lifestyle. This summer's hectic pace has driven home the reality that I'm not as young as I used to be. Consequently, my age has brought to light my need to rest and relax. So, last week and the coming week, I'm making the most of my time off. We have a trip scheduled for August 3 - 8. Until then, I have some time to kick back, and I've been doing just that. Have you ever hit the wall? I'm near it, but doing nothing won't fix it either. My natural desire is to flop and sleep. God's advice is to cocoon. It's what every Sabbath should be. Instead of freedom from activity, it's freedom to rest in Him, to be refreshed by Him. That's the season I'm in for the next week. It's a habit that I need to make sure I build into my routine.

I'm ready to get back into the routine of the school year. I just don't think I can jump back into the routine and hope for calm. I must receive my calm from The Calmer, and then slip into the routine. On top of that, though, I really feel that this semester will be one of supernatural progress for our family and our church. So pray for us, and pray that we are not blinded to the supernatural by the routine. And be sure to build some cocooning time into your schedule. You'll fare better.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Home At Last!

Well, I'm home after two weeks on the road. It's good to be home, sleep in, etc. The family gets home tomorrow. I'm looking forward to getting back into a schedule and my blogging routine!
Peace - J

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Super Summer

One of the things about Student Ministry that always made the work more challenging is the fact that you have such a diverse group when it comes to interest in all things spiritual. I would spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to impact the student who really wants to dig into God's Word AND the student whose parents drug him/her to the church and the last thing they want is to listen to me...It could be frustrating at times.
But this week I am at a leadership training event for students who want to be better equipped to lead, Super Summer. I've been involved with Super Summer since 1989, and this will be my 23 session to serve in some capacity. It's my privelege to be Dean of the Orange School (students entering 10th Grade). We have 170 students and 30 adults in Orange School this year. My responsibility is to lead this group in teaching (with the help of my Asst. Dean - Michael Murrie and my Team Leader Coordinators - Goose Gast and Mark Tissue), worship (with the help of Jake Turner), and recreation (our 22 Team Leaders). I love it. Here's a couple pictures of the students arriving yesterday.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Drive In Movie

Drive in theaters rock! I always seem to forget that when it comes movie time. Last night I took my family and our youth group to see "Cars" and "Nacho Libre" at our local drive in. The movies were good, but that's not what makes the drive in great. The drive in experience includes several elements that make it a great time:
1) A Community Enviroment - we all brought lawn chairs, blankets, pillows, and pulled our cars/trucks together to watch a movie as a group. We could talk, share food, and enjoy the experience together.
2) Cost effective - in many ways, the drive in provides current movies at prime times for low costs. My kids got in free, and Caryn and I were $5 each. The WHOLE family got into Cars for $10! The drive in also realizes that you can bring your own food, so they price their food and beverages to sell, not to bankrupt you. We ate a late dinner last night for $15. That included corn fritters, nachos, hamburger, corn dogs, and two "glow stick" bracelets for the kids. At the indoor theater, our tickets would have been $25 for our family, and an additional $20 for snacks. Add to that the fact that we could also bring a cooler full of stuff with us, and it's hands-down the most economic movie option for a family.
3) Memories - my kids will always remember sitting in the back of my truck as a family, sharing food and drinks, sharing laughs, and not having to be told to sit still, be quiet, calm down, or anything else you may have to say in an indoor theater. They will also remember sitting in mommy and daddy's laps and snuggling when it got cold (it got really cold last night). I still remember going to the theater with my family for the all-night Godzilla movie marathons. It was a magical time for me that I get to share with my kids. My 4 year old daughter just smiles when we talk about it, and says, "That was fun, daddy." My 6 year old son was amazed at how bright the projector was and how big the screen is.
We'll be going back soon, and I hope you will join us at the drive in. It's a great piece of American history and a good lesson in community.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The West Texas Winds

After a night of storms, multi-car pile ups, and one fatality here in Lubbock, TX, the winds have died down. Here's a couple of pictures from the dust storm yesterday. It's like something from "The Mummy." This wall of dust was 70 - 100 miles in length.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

When Cleaning the Men's Room...

It's important to wear gloves. But, if you wear gloves and then wipe the sweat from your forehead with your hand that is wearing the aforementioned gloves, you've defeated the purpose of wearing said gloves... It's about the same as putting your hands on your knees while wearing those same gloves...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Oh, the agony

My Mavs, My Mavs, once again my heart's been broken as you build my hopes and squash them from a lack of mental toughness.

Not that I'm superstitious, I guess the real problem was with the Dallas city council announcing the Championship Parade Route after game 2. What were they thinking?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Going, Going, Gone

Well, it happened today. Nathan and Elaine officially drove out of Lubbock. For those of you who don't know, Nathan and Elaine are long time friends and original members of The Journey. I've known Nathan since he was a teenager. I've had the opportunity to watch him grow into a Godly man. In the 7 years I've known him, we have walked through some tough times together. He even lived with us for a short time a few years back. More than anyone else in my life, he's been my Timothy. He has been our Lead Worshipper since The Journey began. It was hard to say goodbye last night, even though we know we will see each other a couple times a year, at the least.

I've known Elaine for almost 2 years. She's a relatively new friend, but I've had the privelege of watching the "lights come on" for her in reguards to missional living. Having grown up Church of Christ and then non-denom., what we started at The Journey stretched her sometimes. But she gets it. And, more importantly, she's started living it and teaching it to others. She and Nathan are funny, and fun to be around. They will be sorely missed as they head off for the next chapter of their lives at seminary in Ft. Worth.

Nate & Elaine, thanks for all you've done; your generocity and kindness, and your willingness to step in and do what needed to be done. Do well, be blessed, and keep the faith. More than anything else, cling to Jesus. And always know that you have family in Lubbock.
Peace - Jase

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Unpacking Origins Pt. 3 - Creativity

It's so great to be home, even though the rafting adventure was GREAT!

If you've never rafted, you should give it a try. This was my 4th trip down the Arkansas river. I've hit the Royal Gorge three times. This trip was much more leisurely, though. We had several beginners and one girl from our group who was 12 years old. So, we did Big Horn Canyon. As you can see by the picture, the Royal Gorge can be brutal. But Big Horn Canyon was two soild class III rapids and the rest was just floating at about 2450 cfs. I had a lot of time to enjoy and think as we just floated the 22 mile trip. And, as has happened a lot lately, my thoughts drifted back to Origins. In Romans 1, Paul reminds us that God's invisible qualities are revealed in His creation. The beauty of the canyon reminded me that we have a very creative Deity. Since we are created in His likeness, we are designed with this same creative bent. Too many people think that they must be artistic to be creative. The truth, though, is that as humans we are creative. All of us. We're just creative in different ways.

So, here's my dilema: it seems that much of what we do as a church looks like some sort of cloning of the world around us. I've mentioned this before (Cloning Culture), but with a different emphasis. As I think about this now, I realize that we stiffle the creativity of people by asking them to replicate safe versions of things we find in our culture, or to plug into our prepackaged model that someone else has had success with. As the body of Christ, we possess all the creativity we need to be what the church ought to be; a relevant expression of faith and spirituality to a hopeless world. Navigating The Journey means I am charged with unveiling and unleashing the creativity of our people. Instead of trying to plug them into the mold that I envision, I should be striving to help them develop their character and tap into their divine creativity so that they can do life as God intended. I am giddy with anticipation of a faith community that God uses to impact our culture in a way that no other community can because of the individuals He has brought together for The Journey. The challenge for me is to get out of the way and let the body be the body in a wonderfully diverse and creative way. Instead of designing a plan, simply cast the vision and allow the body to uniquely and creatively accomplish the vision.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Convection Oven Speed Ball

Imagine coaching a baseball team...well, a t-ball team that uses a baseball. Now imagine that team being made up of boys and girls ages 4 - 6. Add to that the fact that it's 105 degrees here in Lubbock, and you can begin to imagine what our first t-ball practice was like last night.

Many of you know of my love for baseball, and that I played ball into college. I love the sport, and was excited that my children have shown an interest in America's sport. So, in my excitement, I signed on to be an Assistant Coach for the Orioles, Jeremiah and Cayla's team. My traveling schedule and my work schedules really prohibit me from doing much more than that, or so I thought and explained to the lady who told me last Thursday that I was THE coach for the team. It seems that as the only one to say I would help, I got the whole thing. And it doesn't matter that I'll be gone for 5 of the 11 games...

So, last night we had our first practice. My team has 13 kids on it, 12 of whom showed up, and most of whom have never played. So, in the 105 degree heat, I did my very best to teach, hold their tiny attention spans, and still make progress. It went pretty well, I think. Caryn made much of it happen with the behind the scenes prep (snacks, etc.). Try to imagine playing t-ball in fast forward speed while in a convection oven and you'll get a feel for how it was last night. But this is the ideal thing for me/us to be involved in. The Journey will sponsor the practices, helping with the kids, and serving the snacks at every practice. We'll build relationships with the kids and their parents. The season lasts through July 17th, so we have a few weeks to get to know the families involved. Pray for us! PRAY FOR ME! Tomorrow night, I'll get there early to work with one of my boys, Roosevelt, who has potential to throw both ways. His dad mentioned that he'd love for Roosevelt to learn to do both, so I told him we'd meet early each week to work on it.

And for all you Journey pilgrims, thanks for your help with the snacks last night. If you want to come and help with practice tomorrow night, be there at 5:15 (same place).

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Unpacking Origins - Pt. 2

Envisioning how we train our future leaders for The Journey brings me to the concept of discipleship. Having served in a pastoral role for nearly 18 years in various churches, I believe discipleship is greatly misunderstood among USAmerican believers. There has been a movement among churches to do a better job of discipling their membership. I've even heard people say that they miss the days of "training union," an old term for a discipleship program of the local church. In many of the churches that I have served, leadership realized that they were falling behind in discipleship, and they pushed to introduce programs designed to deepen the faith of the believers in their flock. Along with this movement, publishers have packaged, repackaged, and promoted a plethora of materials for this need. You've seen some of them: Experiencing God, The Purpose Driven Church/Life/Worship/lawn mowing/whatever, Master Life, The Mind of Christ, Beth Moore's stuff, etc. All great materials written by Godly men and women. All designed to help us get a greater grasp on God's Word and will for our lives. The problem, as I see it, is two fold.

1) How much more knowledge do we need? I am constantly reminded that James said that those who hear and don't do are like men who look in the mirror and immediately forget what they saw. Please hear my heart on this. Being one who has a master's degree in divinity, I see the importance of knowledge and study. I've been a student of some sort all my life. But what good does it do for us to have more and more knowledge that we never apply? Sure, we could win Bible Jeopardy, but we're losing our communities. As more and more churches strive to find the right program for their people to have a deeper faith, they need to ask how their people are already putting into practice what they are learning. Maybe the best discipleship model would be to find someplace to spend your free time and practice what you've learned before we move onto the next thing to learn... I am reminded of a story about a young Pastor who came to his new church and preached a great sermon on his first Sunday there. The people were amazed. Then, the next Sunday he preached the exact same sermon. The people were a bit confused, but it was a good sermon, so they didn't mind too much. The third Sunday he again preached the same sermon. The people were a little put out. So much so, that the head Deacon approached the young Pastor after the service and pulled him aside. When the Deacon asked the Pastor if he realized he'd preached the same sermon for the last three weeks, the Pastor responded with, "Yes, I know. And once we start living that one, I'll get onto the next one."

2) Who was the focus of New Testament discipleship? When Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep, Pete didn't call the 12 together for a weekly Bible study on living with purpose and meaning. Instead, he went and proclaimed Christ to the people of Jerusalem and 3,000 were saved. Looking at the Great Commission of Matthew 28, we see that making disciples is tied heavily to the proclamation of Christ as savior and people coming to faith. I believe that we have greatly misunderstood that discipleship includes everyone, especially those who have not yet embraced the faith. Since the ultimate goal of discipleship is making disciples, consider this in light of Merriam-Webster's definition of a disciple: "one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another." As disciples, discipleship is the calling of our lives. And in it's purest form, discipleship is accepting and spreading the doctrines of another (in our case, The Christ).

How do I unpack this? It's paramount that I know the doctrines of The Christ in order to live well and and to teach them to others, especially those who need to be saved by Christ. But I can't wait until I know all I need to know. Like Peter, what I know at this point must be shared. Like Paul, I understand that I must pass along what I know to those who will be faithful to pass it on to others. Christ's call for each of us is to make disciples while being disciples ourselves. I firmly believe that the future leadership of The Journey will be people reached through the discipleship process; that is the spreading of the kingdom and the spreading of the doctrines of Christ. In those we reach, we will invest. This is discipleship, and it's how people will realize their great potential for the kingdom. That potential is what I'll "unpack" next.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Unpacking Origins

Last week, I was honored to attend a conference in LA with Nathan, Stephen, Parke, and Christina. The Origins Project was hosted by Mosaic LA. I must say that it was, at times, much like drinking from a fire hydrant! I am still processing the info, and will unpack some of that here as I flesh out how it fits my context.

One of the most striking things that I brought home is about systems. At one point, one of the speakers mentioned how most faith communities gather their leadership; hiring them away from other faith communities. Two things strike me as odd about this practice:
1) Most churches do not have a system in place to develop leadership from within. They hire it from without...
2) Most of the leaders who are hired from without will not develop a system to grow leadership from within.

With these two things in mind, it makes the current dichotomy between clergy and laity understandable. For the faith communities of the 21st century to make the shift to indigenous ministry among people groups, internal leadership development becomes an imperative. As I listened in LA, I found out that Mosaic LA only hires leaders from within. Most of their hired staff serves as volunteers first, and most of their leadership stays volunteer. One leader even turned down the opportunity to his ministry into his career, opting to stay involved in the public school system.

For The Journey, we must develop leaders from within, and this means developing character and discipling people. This idea of discipleship is what I will unpack in my next post.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Function: noun Etymology: New Latin, from Greek Ethos custom, character:

the distinguishing character, sentiment, moral nature, or guiding beliefs of a person, group, or institution

Today Ethos began. As I understand it, we will be looking at and discovering the elements of helping to shape the ethos of The Journey, and in turn, change the ethos of our community, culture, and planet. I’m excited about that.

On a different note, if you are at Ethos, and have room for 4 people to go to lunch with you, we are in need of a ride. You can contact me by calling 806-549-6221.

Oh yeah, Alex started the session in an interesting way. Look around at some of the other posts from this morning at Voxtropolis.com to find out more!
Peace - The Bishop

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


It's been good so far. I've had a couple of moments of inspiration that I came looking for, as well as great time with friends and like-minded people. Here's the folks I'm with (minus Parke, since he is taking the picture): (l to r)Christina, myself, Nathan, and Stephen. I think we'll be doing some leadership stuff tomorrow as a tag onto Origins. It's called Ethos. I'm hoping for a few more of those inspired moments I came looking for!

Monday, May 22, 2006


We're here. We landed in Los Angeles yesterday in time to worship with Mosaic LA at the Mayan. This morning, we arrived at William Carey University where we found the Wi-Fi cafe and are waiting for Origins to start. I'm not sure what to expect, but I'll post regularly to keep you updated. One cool thing so far is that I've met several people whose blogs I've followed like Dean Sharp, Alex McManus, & Sam Radford. Parke and I were talking about the weird dynamic that has been created in the blogging community. The blogging community has bred a sense of familiarity with people, the feeling that you know them and have access to them, when in reality, you don't. I've dialogued with many people through the blog-0-shpere, and never really thought about that. Now, I see people who have shared their hearts, share my passions, and still don't really know them. It's....weird.
Anyway, I'll post more later!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Having been asked on numerous occasions lately about what I do at the coffee shop all day, I've decided to give you a narrative of a recent day in my life at the coffee shop.

Sitting. Watching. Listening. I enjoy it. Sitting, watching, and listening bring me moments of insight. I office here because I can sit, watch, and listen.

A loud man in the corner demands attention by his commanding presence and booming voice. He's never met a stranger. Abrasive, though, to those looking for a respite. He calls across the room for the barista to prepare some bagels for he and his guest, who looks embarassed by the demand. She smiles and complies.

She always smiles and complies, but I often wonder what she really thinks. She has great people skills and is always friendly to me and my family. She knows our names, and the names of our children. She calls them by name when we arrive. She still addresses me as Mr. Bishop, though, as a sign of respect. On occasion she slips into a more familiar mode and calls me Jason. Today she is training a new employee that will be replacing one of my new friends who has taken a new job.

The other barista tells me about his morning. He woke up late and opened the shop late. It was the first time people had been waiting for him to get here at 6:45 to open. He's had one of those days that seemed to just thrust him out there whether he was ready or not. He seems to have leveled out now, mastering the day that wanted to master him. We both play indoor soccer, and he sometimes referees my games. It gives us a common interest to talk about, and he always has great stories of some of the games he's officiated that involve people we both know. His stories are always entertaining.

Caryn stops by, having just dropped our daughter off at Mother's Day Out. She updates me on her day as we share a bagel and gives me an ETA on when she'll be ready for lunch, then jets out the door with her list of things to do.

Some older men sitting around the big round table in the middle of the earth-tone room discuss business like old friends discussing life. They speak in terms familiar to each other, but somewhat obscure to those within ear shot.

Somewhat listening to the conversation while I unpack my laptop, something said reminds me of a friend I haven't talked to in a couple of days. Why not call him? So, I do. Just in the nick of time, it appears. He's had a rough day and needed to vent a little. Work and life have him running ragged, and I seem to be an anchor to bring him back to reality every now and then. I never really tell him anything he didn't already know, but I serve as a reminder. He wants to get together tomorrow morning at 8, right here. We'll talk, laugh, catch up, and embrace life and faith together, sharing the struggles of living in a fallen world while encouraging one another to keep stepping.

At the display case a young man tattooed from wrist to shoulder contemplates what style bagel to partake of. He's been eyed by the customers since he came in. His ear disc, rough hair cut, and inked condition have garnered him the suspicious glances of the older patrons. Sitting near the bagel case, I lean over and recommend the green chili bagel. He nods, smiles, and orders the green chili bagel.

The gleem of something bright outside catches my eye. It's one of the regulars who has ridden his hybrid bike here. His helmet sparkles in the sunlight as he climbs the curb with his bike. I'm amused that he rides his bike here. I've thought about doing so myself to save on gas and get a little more exercise in. He gets his cup of coffee, and comes to my table to sit and chat. We talk mostly about airplanes as he is retired Air Force. I always learn something new when we chat, which is just about every day. The funny thing; he'll leave, and be back an hour later for a refill. Arriving this time in his truck, he tells me he needs to get busy with his day and saunters off to meet the day at 11:00 a.m.

As he exits, another new friend close to my age wanders in. Having formerly owned a coffee shop, he and I have struck up a relationship based on my myraid questions about coffee house culture. We visit for a while about his new job, and he invites my wife and I over for dinner in the near future.

Some time later, the girl whose replacement is being trained comes in and sits at a nearby table. She glances over and says she was hoping I'd be here. I'd better close my laptop for this one. She slides her chair over and we discuss life and faith. She's had quite a semester and just wants some encouraging words. Having honored me with the role of Pastor in her life, she came looking for advice and spiritual comfort. Two hours later she smiles and says, "Thanks for listening." "No problem. That's what I'm hear for." And it truly is.

My stomach alerts me that it's lunch time. I should have known it sooner. Next door is a restaurant where Seniors seem to instictively flock like the salmon of Capistrano at 10:45 in the morning! Caryn and I have a lunch date as soon as she is done shopping for our bi-weekly staples. I wonder what I'll miss while I'm gone for lunch. I hope she'll wait just a tad longer so that I can watch for a friend who usually shows up around lunch time. This kindred spirit happened into the coffee shop some months ago for the first time, and we began talking about a book he was reading. I had asked him what he thought and his response matched mine perfectly. Our conversation illuminated our kindred spirits, being brothers in Christ with a passion for changing the world. He's been so many places, and the movement is not new to him. I enjoy getting to pick his brain. As I wonder if he will make it in, sure enough, he's outside my window smiling and waving like he was just thinking the same thing. When he enters, he comes straight to my table and we catch up on travels, family, and faith. He asks if he could have an hour of my time to pick my brain about something. Not today, though. I have a date. Friday it is, then, at 11.

I live among people mostly neglected by the community of faith here. Not many of them have a voice of hope present in their lives. If they are to hear about hope and find the love of Christ that will complete them, I must be here. I've grown to love my "flock." One older Christian observed one day that these people needed to be in church. My observation was that church needed to be with them. So here I am. Sitting. Watching. Listening. Praying. I pray that God will help me to observe the things I need to know to convey hope, love, and acceptance to my flock. It turns out that I pastor a coffee shop where I sit, watch, listen, pray, and share. And I love it.

A Question

I've had a couple of conversations lately about salvation, and Jesus as the only way. I have formulated my answer to this question, but I wanted to see what you think, so be sure to reply:

Can a person be saved if they follow Jesus and believe that Jesus is "a way" to heaven, but not the "only way?"

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Relevant Metaphor

I just got back from a really refreshing hang time with some missionally minded friends. One friend, my planting coach Roy, was using his new book to impart some strategic and inspirational insight into church for the 21st century. I really had a great time picking his brain and sharpening the focus of what we're doing with The Journey. One of the things from his book that impacted me is in his section on consumerism as a hurdle for the 21st century church. He talks about how pastors feel pressure to create a service where people feel they were "fed." I have wrestled with this for years, hearing people say things like, "This church doesn't meet my needs." or "I'm not being fed here." Roy points out that there are some types of people who can't feed themselves in our society: babies, the physically impaired, or the mentally impaired. To quote Roy here, "Shouldn't 'being fed' be a strange metaphor for church life?" Great point! So, when we leave a church because we are not being fed, are we saying that we are babies or impaired somehow spiritually? Or, more to wit, am I saying I think God's people are babies or impaired because I feel I must feed them? Think about it. A close friend who is involved in missional living that precludes her from attending the local attractional church meetings on Sunday mornings was once judgementally asked, "Where are you being fed?" Her response was a classic one, "I believe that the mature can feed themselves." I agree with Roy in that part of the problem has been that most Pastors have trained their people to expect someone to impart the things of faith to them in small, pre-chewed bites that need no effort to swallow.
An imperative for me is to train people to love God and be obedient to His Word. That means they must know how to rightly divide it for themselves. The Journey should be a stew that everyone contributes to and God uses me to stir. I hope that God will use me to develop mature believers who can feed themselves, and who follow His calling to serve where He leads. If you find me doing otherwise, call me on it!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

King Of The Hill

Mark Driscoll mentions a great episode of King of The Hill in his latest blog. Hank Hill goes church shopping, and gets a dose of the mega church...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Sacred Space

How do you make life sacred? In talking with a group of friends Wednesday at Aroma's, the question came up, "Can you make someone go to church?" The question was asked by an older gentleman who works from the paradigm that everyone ought to go to church, and everyone knows that. I, however, work from the paradigm that I am a part of the church, and that I should "bring church" to them. So, with a bit of a lively discussion, my wheels got turning on a side thought. How did the Master Teacher bring the sacred to the secular (for lack of better terms)?
On one hand, it seems simple: we are spiritual people, so where we are is spiritual space. But that can also be said of followers of other religions. What makes the space we inhabit sacred, and not just spiritual? Leonard Sweet, in his book "Soul Salsa," has a great discussion on this. His first chapter is entitled "Mezuzah Your Universe: Soul Artists Sacramentalize Whatever They Touch." What a great tag! Understanding that a sacrament is a symbolic representation (i.e. baptism and communion), we begin to see that sacramentalizing things becomes an opportunity to bring symbolic meaning to the common things of life, like the Jews did with the phylactery and the mezuzah. They built reminders into their every day lives (rituals) to help grow their souls by modulating the mundane into the eternal.
Sweet draws out an important point in this discussion. This point communicates a great way for us to understand our lives as spiritual and sacred. There is a difference between a sacrament, and "sacramentals." In sacraments (again, baptism and communion), sanctifying grace is communicated by the act itself. For instance, baptism is a great picture of one thing: salvation. A sacramental, however, can be an everyday object or life that reveals "the 'signs of the Trinity' (Augustine), which are everywhere in creation when viewed through the eyes of faith." So, what do we do to celebrate and see these signs in our everyday life? How do we build into our everyday happenings rituals that remind us of the presence of the divine around us, and communicate the grace of the Trinity to those who are seeking? How do the patterns of my daily life reveal the grace of the cross to those who watch? Jesus did this in a masterful way. Not only did His life model it, but bread, water, wind, harvest, seeds, children, fire, weeds, leaven, wine (mundane, everyday things) became instrumental expressions to help people see the kingdom. My heart stirs as I wonder how to use my laptop, coffee, books, truck, wind, water, children, family, marriage, soccer, volleyball, clothing to express the simple truth of the kingdom. What a wonderful opportunity looms before modern Christ-followers. Perhaps, by way of comment, you might share some of the rituals you've built into your life as an expression of grace to the world around you.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Tonight I met the owner of all the Freebird's restaurants. His name is Pierre. Pierre is a super nice guy. What I really liked about him was he was genuinely interested in talking with me. Go figure: multi-millionaire with a grand opening in less that 24 hours, and he took time to sit down and ask me about me. It was nice. We talked a little while, and he mentioned that he'd like to visit The Journey at some point. I was encouraged! He just came out to check on us, ask if we had water for the night. He said he just wanted to make sure we had everything we needed. Way cool guy!
Now for why he is checking on us: Marcus, Scott, and I are in tents in front of Freebird's awaiting the grand opening. I got here at 2 p.m. today, and have met tons of cool people from the restaurant. I took a little break to be with my students at The Heights, and now we are sacked out to be the first customers at one of my favorite eateries! Did I mention they have wireless? Rock on!

Monday, April 17, 2006

What was it like?

I have been stewing over something for a couple of weeks now. It's about Lazarus.
In John 11, we find Christ performing the final miracle of His public ministry. This event profoundly impacted the culture of the day. But the thing that I've been chewing on is: what did Lazarus experience while being dead for 4 days? Was he sleeping? Was he in Paradise? Biblical scholars have held differing views on the state of death. My view on the moment of death is consistent with reformed theology. We leave this body to instantly enter the presence of Christ. No sleep state. No limbus patrum. This, I believe, is true for the Old Testament and New Testament faithful (OT examples: Enoch and Elijah). For more on this, check out Grudem's Systematic Theology, Ch. 41.
So, Lazarus, being dead for 4 days, enjoyed the unfettered presence of God. What must it have been like? And, what was it like to be yanked back to this world? Did he know he was coming back? Did he ask, as Clarke asserts, if he would have to die again? One thing is for certain: this event so changed him that he became a threat to the religious leaders of his day. In John 12:10 - 11 we find that the chief priests were plotting the death of Lazarus as well, because, "on account of him many Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him." A close friend once said, "Death is a life-changing experience." That was certainly the case for Lazarus, and I think is an important lesson for me: my death and new life should be a life-changing experience. It should be one that makes me dangerous to the enemy, the establishment, and the brokers of religion. Can't you just see Lazarus sitting with different groups of people in the bars or city places telling them with great fervor and urgency about what he had seen, and what waits for those who have trusted Christ? God, drive me with that same urgency and fervor, to share with those who need to know, what waits for them on the other side of the grave!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A Little Help Here

I'm designing a new business card, and thought I'd see if some of you would help me with the design. I've got some designs, and one that I like, but wanted to see what you guys thought. So, comment on which one you like the best. The resolution on them is not the greatest here, but you get the idea...You can also click here to see them on our web site.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Gift of Sleep

Do you remember when you were a kid and you could sleep anywhere and through anything? I am constantly reminded by my children of the greatness of childhood. This one was taken during our Spring Break ski trip. My children would wear themselves out playing (Jeremiah was skiing, and Cayla was living in a winter wonderland!). And, at the end of each day, as we made the drive back to the hotel, they would slip off to sleep, exhausted. I desire to live life that way. To live that 1 Cor. 10:31 life that says everything is for God's glory and deserves my all. Live every day in such a way that you've got an "empty tank" by the end of the day. Then, rest in Christ and allow Him to refuel you for the next day.

Well, I guess I slept pretty hard last Friday night, and missed my youth group on my lawn doing some decorating of their own:

Friday, April 07, 2006

Thank God for Great Friends!

Yesterday I had my 6 month evaluation. One of my partners that makes The Journey possible does an evaluation every 6 months. I am blessed to have a friend that does my eval. Terry Coy drove in yesterday to spend the afternoon with me, and to worship with The Journey last night at our gathering. I count Terry a great friend, and am really encouraged by the time that I spent with him.

Another friend that flew in yesterday morning is Stephen Hammond, one of the leaders from Mosaic in Arlington. He, too, is a great friend and source of encouragment to me. Stephen is one of those guys who "gets me." As we spend time together, I am encouraged and inspired in my walk and my pursuit of this dream I am a part of. He and Mosaic, along with Terry and his organization, have enabled me to do something that I absolutely love! I just dropped Stephen off at the airport, and I am not sure what to do next. I have so many ideas rolling in my head, and the future looks limitless! Here in the next couple of hours I will jump back into the mix and begin working on some new ideas, energized and encouraged for my journey.

Terry, Stephen,
Thanks for all you do for me, my family, and The Journey. You guys embody kingdom living, and are a source of encouragement and inspiriation to me. I am living the dream, and could not do it with out you.
For the kingdom - Jase

Woo Hoo!

Well, we've hit a milestone with The Journey's web site! As of this morning, we have had 1200 different IP addresses hit our site! I'm really excited about that. It's a morning of celebration for me. http://www.journeylubbock.org Check it out!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Friends, Dinner, and Theology

Last night was a great night in the life of The Journey. Every month we have a meal to just enjoy the company of new friends. Including the kiddos, we had our largest crowd ever with 19 in attendance last night. This is significant to me not because of the number per se, but that we are really getting to make new friends. Dinner was good, but the way folks lingered afterward to sit, drink coffee, and just share life was a sweet time. For all of you who attended last night, thanks. I really enjoyed the conversations!

In the aftermath of cleaning up, Nathan and I had a chance to sit down and talk theology for a little while as he prepared to speak at a sister church in our community. He's excited to get to share much of what God has been teaching him. As we talked, we got to discussing Hebrews 12:2 and what exactly the "joy" was that led Jesus to enduring the cross. The salvation of humanity? The defeat of Satan? The resurrection? Maybe even the Ascencion? Indirectly, yes, as they are all part of the will of God. Jesus told His disciples in John 4 that His food was to do the will of the one who sent Him, and to finish His work. I think, ultimately, the joy that was set before Jesus was that He could look up from the Cross and say, "It is finished." He had completed what God sent Him here to do. The Christ's goal all along was to do the will of His Father, no matter what the cost. Man, what a moment that must have been, in spite of the pain, to look to the Heavens and KNOW that God's greatest plan had come to pass. That's been on my mind since last night, and will be the theme of my Easter season. Hopefully, it will be the theme of my life.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

An Impromptu Prayer Walk

I know this is last minute, but I got an e-mail from a friend who pastors a church in the area. They are preparing for revival in their town, but haven't had a great turn out for their prayer gatherings. I have a sense of God's leading to go prayer walk the town on Thursday, March 30. I'll probably go in the morning. If you are reading this, and have a desire or a leading to go, call me at The Journey's phone number as soon as you decide, no matter what time it is: 806-549-6221. If you can't go, at least pray for the community around 10 a.m. on Thursday.

The Journey's Conversation Board

Well, due to a "problem" (really, I think it got hacked, but I'm not sure...) with The Conversation board on The Journey's web site, I've had to re-do the whole thing. The good news is that the new one is working. The bad news is that everyone who had registered on it will have to re-register, and the discussion threads are gone. So, if you were a member of The Conversation, please forgive me, and let's get it cranked up again. If you were not a part of The Conversation, now's your chance to get in at the "beginning." Check it out at http://www.journeylubbock.org/conversations

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


I found this brochure called, "If at first you don't succeed, Don't try skydiving." It has 101 funny one-liners. They aren't all funny, but some of them make me laugh, so I thought I'd share the goodness:
Never Answer an anonymous letter.
It's lonely at the top, but you do eat better.
If we aren't supposed to eat animals, why are they made with meat?
He who laughs last thinks slowest.
We have enough youth. How about a fountain of "smart"?

More to follow!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

My New Friend "Dylan"

I've had the opportunity to speak to several different groups in the last few weeks, and all have been a blessing to me. Last night I spoke to the students at the Wayland Baptist University extension here in Lubbock. It was a last minute thing, and I had no idea what I should speak on. I got the call at 4:30 asking if I could fill in, and the gig started at 7:15. I was really nervous, which is unusual for me, but God did His thing, and 8 people accepted my invitation to shift their trust from themselves to Christ for their eternity. It was sweet!

One of the things I touched on last night is something I've touched on in our faith community and the other places I've gotten to speak lately: our love for Christ being expressed through our love for people. That's where "Dylan" comes in. As most of you who read this know, I office at a coffee shop. I'm here every day from about 9 - 3. As a regular, I've gotten to know tons of people who come through here on a regular basis, and some folks who stop by once. One of the regulars is my new friend, "Dylan." Retired Air-force, he keeps a rigid schedule, and does not like change. I would guess that Dylan has experienced more than 75 years of life, although I've never asked. Loud, opinionated, and brash; he doesn't get received well by the other regulars here. But one day, a couple weeks ago, I engaged him in conversation. Now, he comes in and sits with me. We talk about all kinds of things. Actually, he talks about all kinds of things and I listen. Our first real conversation was about the trouble he got into at the V.A. clinic here. The trouble centered around a stool sample, which he described in graphic detail for about 2 hours! The girl behind the counter tried to rescue me that day, but it was okay. Yesterday, we talked about grace killers, military filing systems, and American culture. Today, as I sat and listened to Dylan talk about the self-centered nature of American culture, his daughter's car trouble, and the military filing system (again), God drove home a point to me in the midst of my busy schedule: My love for Christ is expressed by turning my full attention to Dylan and just listening. Today, he came and sat down on what is a very crazy day for me. But because of what Christ is doing in me, I was able to close my computer and listen, interact, and just let this new friend feel that someone cares. He spoke for a couple of hours and I just sat and listened. When my mind began to think of what I could be doing, Christ reminded me that there is nothing more important than worshipping by giving my full attention to Dylan. I smiled and nodded a lot, spoke a little, but looked my new friend in the eyes and embraced him as an expression of my love for Christ. How can I preach to hundreds of people in the last several weeks about doing this and not do it myself? Now for the fun part: as Dylan went and sweetened the tea that he always gets, I slipped off, got him a gift-card for the coffee shop, and had the girl at the counter deliver it to him without an explanation. He's set for his tea for weeks to come. My hope is that he will come in more often, and sit with me so I can love on him in a place where no one else does. In spite of how others feel or receive him, I have a new friend that I will always make time for because Jesus would.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Greatest Sport On Earth!

Oh, how I love snowboarding! We just got back from Telluride, CO. It's the bomb-diggity, yo! I haven't seen the video stuff yet, but some of the pictures are great. One of the greatest things about this trip is that God is bringing to pass one of my dreams: a hobby to share with my son. This was Jeremiah's second year to ski. I can't describe the feeling of pride and joy that I felt as I watched my little boy come trekking over the hill from his Ski class. As he and I rode the bunny slope together, he passed me and giggled the whole way! After I caught him, we stopped, and I shared with him what a blessing he is, and how glad I am to have this common interest with him. Next year, my little girl will start skiing, and then the whole family will have this great sport in common. I am beginning to pray now that she will love it as much as I do, so that one day, we can all shred Telluride together!

This one is of most of the kids from my youth group.

Friday, March 10, 2006

An Interesting Verse

As I was looking through the Book of Mark during my study times this week, I came upon something interesting. In Mark 8, Jesus feeds the multitudes, and there is food left over. It's a story that most of us are familiar with. Then, the Pharisees come to him and ask him for a sign from heaven. He says to them, "Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it." I've done some reading on what exactly that means, and have found some info, and wanted to see if any of you wanted to weigh in on the meaning of this passage. Here's what I've got:

Draper (1993) argues that the "sign" is not a miracle, but a banner, totem, or token of the Davidic messiah, associated in various ancient Jewish texts and the Old Testament with a holy war. "This study suggests that in an earlier stage of the tradition the 'sign from heaven' which Jesus consistently refused to give, despite repeated requests, was indeed the raising of the Messianic totem to signal the beginning of a holy war against the Romans."(p21)

G. Mark writes: "Some exegetes see 8:12 as evidence of later interpolation as it appears to contradict the miracle tradition in the Gospel, although its source seems to be Paul, and thus, in accord with the normal practices of the writer of Mark. There is no support for historicity anywhere in this pericope."

Christ cautions against the Pharisees and Herodians. Obstinate unbelief will have something to say, though ever so unreasonable. Christ refused to answer their demand. If they will not be convinced, they shall not. Alas! what cause we have to lament for those around us, who destroy themselves and others by their perverse and obstinate unbelief, and enmity to the gospel! When we forget the works of God, and distrust him, we should chide ourselves severely, as Christ here reproves his disciples. How is it that we so often mistake his meaning, disregard his warnings, and distrust his providence? (Mk 8:22-26)


Friday, March 03, 2006

Mark Driscoll's MMA

Check out Mark Driscoll's new MMA (Manly Missionary Award). It's a fun read!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Free Indeed

My good friend, Billy V. has a great post on his blog about freedom, with this being Ash Wednesday and all. It got me thinking, which is usually dangerous.

As Americans, we have a strong sense of independence and freedom. Our country, compared to others, is not very far removed from the bonds of slavery and oppression. I think this, coupled with some other factors like cash flow, technology, etc. can lend itself to creating a world view that sees no limits to what one can do; i.e. The American Dream. I know I've spent plenty of time chasing the American Dream. My big question is: has the church in USAmerica been chasing the American Dream? More money, bigger "houses," more influence, you get the idea. I'm not knocking the wealthy. I've put a great deal of effort into this very thing (and those of you who know me would never use the word "wealthy" to describe me!). And, if I work hard to get everything I dream of having, shouldn't I be looking out for number 1? It's my stuff, it's my life, it's my dreams. After all, it's my right to have these things. I am free to chase whatever dreams and stuff I want. John said that "If the son has set you free, then you are free indeed!" But did he mean that we are free to have the American Dream? Paul penned, "Everything is permissible, but not everything is profitable." The truth is that we have been freed so that we can become bond servants of The Most High. I love Paul's reminder to the Corinthian Church: "For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord's freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ's slave." We react badly to the idea of being a slave, but that's what we've been called to. We are no longer slaves to sin, our flesh, or the world. However, we are called to be slaves to Christ. And that means sacrificing things that may very well be permissible to you in Christ, but would not be benficial to the Kingdom, or to the body. What does this look like for you? What do you cling as you chant, "It's not a sin."? With today marking the beginning of the Lenten season, I would challenge you to begin thinking like a slave to Christ, and not necessarily as an American citizen. What do you hold on to? What keeps you from true freedom? What would the Master ask of you that you might balk at because of the sacrifice involved? Whatever it may be, it's time to give it up.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Don't be that guy...

I've heard this phrase before, but seem to be hearing it more these days. "Don't be that guy." Maybe it's something that I've heard all the time, but have just started paying attention to it. Anyway, Don't be that guy.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Mind The Gap

Sorry for the gap since my last post. I just got home from Houston, and a Disciple Now with one of my former students, Trey Fleming. He was one of my kids in Smithville, TX. It’s been great to watch him grow into a godly world changer!

Our faith community made me proud Thursday night. For those of you who have served a faith community in a full time vocational position, you’ll relate when I say it’s tough to leave town. It’s tough for two reasons:
1) It’s always hard to be away from home when exciting things are going on. In my ministry, I’ve traveled a lot, and always look forward to being home.
2) You never know what will go wrong while you’re gone. Over the course of 17 years of vocational ministry, I can tell you that things always seem to wait until you are gone to explode. It has always been that way, and I’ve somewhat assumed they always will be.

So, trepadation always sets in when I am leaving town for anthing more than an over night trip. And last weekend was no exception. I left Thursday morning for Houston, and our faith community, The Journey, was going to do our community worship experience outside the walls of our gathering place. Nathan mentions it in his latest blog. Great things are happening here, and nothing went wrong while I was gone. It’s like a Festivus miracle! The Journey has been a blessing to me and my family, and continues to be a great community of friends chasing after God. Thanks, gang, for your faithfulness!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Labor Day In February

In a recent post, Parke mentions celebrating Labor Day in February as a time of talking about the work we do, and why it is important. Great idea! I think many folks use their blog to tell us about themselves, but also as an escape from the rigors of work. For many, we know who you are, but not what you do. Here's what I do:

I am a cultural missionary to West Texas, specifically Lubbock. Under that ministry calling, I do several things and have two careers. This calling as a cultural missionary is a calling to discover the pockets on non-Christ followers in our community and discover the relveant metaphors that will accurately communicate Christ's love for them. I feel that the church in general has lost the art of metaphoric communication that was a significant part of Christ's disciple-making style. Theological accuracey embodied in cultural relevance is what we are striving for. Christ was the master of building relationships that allowed Him to travel in circles that needed to hear His message. In the context of those relationships (i.e. the woman at the well, the rich young ruler, Nicodemus, Zaccheus, etc...), Christ shared the truth of the kingdom in a way that enlightened people to THE Truth, and brought them to faith. That's the passion that drives me! I want to be that man who loves on people like Christ did, communicating THE Truth with them in a way that connects them to Christ forever. In the "terms of the trade," we are committed to living missional, incarnational lives. God's desire is that the 200,000+ unreached and post-Christian people of Lubbock County hear the good news of Jesus Christ. The bigger picture is that God desires to change the world, and that starts here.

As a cultural missionary, my typical day consists of conversations with people. For instance, today, by 11:00 a.m. (CST) I have talked with a young lady who has been around the fringe of The Journey. She has become a great friend. I also spent an hour talking with a good friend and his Jewish best friend. We talked life and faith. Then, I got to talk with the girl behind the counter about the word "religion," and some of the philosophy behind Christian thought and doctrine. Later today, I'll be meeting with a young man who just got out of rehab and wants to get his life back together. Tonight I will be leading a philosophy discussion at a local coffee house just off the Texas Tech Campus. Then, at 11:00 tonight I will be playing an indoor soccer game, and getting to hang with some great guys (some of which don't know Jesus). Then, tomorrow, I'll go about my day seeing who God brings into my path, and do it all over again. I love on all of these people like Jesus did, and in the process I hope to get to share why. And that is pretty much what my day consists of.

In the context of this calling, God has opened two doors for me. My first career is as the Lead Pastor for an emerging church called The Journey. The Journey is a church plant that my wife and I have started from scratch, with nothing more than the afore mentioned calling, the help of a some great faith communities (Mosaic Arlington, FBC Littlefield, and the SBTC), and God's assurance of His care for us. We left full-time student ministry to pursue this calling. I have posted several posts about The Journey that you can read back in my August posts. The Journey serves as the faith community that we believe God will use to reach Lubbock County. I really hope you'll track back to those posts and check it out. My "work" schedule for The Journey consists of preparing for and leading the philosophy discussion group I mentioned above, leading a Thursday night worship gathering, a monthly meal, and hanging at The World Wide Headquarters of The Journey (Aroma's Coffee House on 82nd). I borrowed the nick name from my friends at iWitness ministries! The bottom line is to take the message of Christ to our culture, and for The Journey to be a place where Christ-followers join Him in that mission.

My other career is that of part-time Associate Pastor of Youth and Small Groups at The Heights Fellowship. Most church planters have to raise much of their own support and work another job while they plant, at least at first. This was a bit of a dilema for me, since I am not a great fund raiser, and I have no vocational skills outside equipping the saints. With a bachelor of arts in Christian counseling, and a Master of Divinity with an emphasis in Biblical languages, there aren't a lot of career choices outside vocational ministry. I could just see the manager at McDonald's, "Well, Mr. Bishop, we don't really need anything translated from Hebrew of Greek here. We don't have much use for exegetical preaching or exegesis. And, since you have no real experience flipping burgers, I'm afraid we have nothing for you..." When God called us to reach our culture and plant a church, He also drove home the need to raise funds that would allow me to do that. During a discovery retreat where I was praying through the details of my new calling, God spoke to me about this issue. I've mentioned that before, but the short story is that I have the skills, training, and background of 17 years of student ministry to be a blessing to a church that can't afford a full-time guy. So, I have plugged in with a long time friend, Mike Martindale, to help build their small group ministry structure and get their student ministry up and running. They have really been a blessing to me. For my Sundays and Wednesdays (and some Fridays/Saturdays), I am helping to build the Student Ministry for The Heights Fellowship. During the week, I manage to squeeze in enough time to tweak the Small Group Ministry, read up on Small Group Ministry, and care for our SGM Leaders.

If your heart beats with a similar vision or passion, I'd love to hear about it. I'd love even more to help you. If you live near us, come join us! If you live far from us, join us anyway! Thanks, Parke, for suggesting Labor Day in February!