Tuesday, August 26, 2008


What is a Christ-follower, believer, disciple or whatever label you place on those who call themselves Christians? I consider myself a Christ-follower, but I am not sure I line up well to others who may attach the same to themselves, especially those of the evangelic ilk.

I have actually voted for a democrat...am I a Christ-follower?
I tend to prefer jazz to contemporary Christian music...am I a Christ-follower?
I prefer radio sports talk to radio preaching...am I a Christ-follower?
I don't know many hymns...am I a Christ-follower?
When I am in a crisis my first response is not always to pray...am I a Christ-follower?
I tend to think that many evangelics are a bit reactionary...am I a Christ-follower?
Too often the significance of communion does not grab me like I would like...am I a Christ-follower?
I don't like to argue with Mormons, or Jehovah Witnesses when they come to my door...am I a Christ-follower?
I don't like to put Christian bumper stickers on my car...am I a Christ-follower?
I shy away from Christian sloganed t-shirts...am I a Christ-follower?
If I miss a Sunday in church I don't feel guilty...am I a Christ-follower?
I enjoy the secular side of Christmas...am I a Christ-follower?
I love the Easter story, but also appreciate a chocolate bunny...am I a Christ-follower?

I sense the presence of God in my life every day. God's reality consumes me, but not like others tend to express it in their life. I am very appreciative that God's working in and through me is not dependent on someone else's definition.

Am I a Christ-follower? I know so, because God's word tells me my standing is in the cross. And the cross alone.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


My wife and I attend a church plant called Harvest. We "opened" our doors October of 2007, so we are a not yet one-year-old community of believers. We started with about 35 or so folks. Today we had over 100! It was exciting to see the number of faces that I did not recognize. We are slowly growing. We are reaching people in the communities that surround us. It is a very young congregation. Most of those we are reaching are in there 20's and 30's. It is fun for us as those in their 20's are our kids age. It is like attending church with them, which is nice as our kids are many miles away.

We are a very community minded church. We have fully invested ourselves in serving in the community for the community. As a result of this community involvement the leader of our Chamber of Commerce as begun to attend. We have been birthed as a church that wants to be in the community for the community. We will do all we can to keep this as mission-critical. We are reminded that people do not want to hear what we believe, they want to see what we believe.

What was really cool is that today we commissioned a family to go out to another church. This family was not part of the launch team, but joined us shortly into the adventure. They were active in our children's ministry. It turns out one of the churchs that helped get us going was in need of help in with children. They accepted the call to go out! We believe this will only be the beginning of the investment of people we will make.

I attribute this DNA in our church to the excellent leadership of our Lead Pastor and wife. Brad and Heidi have a tremendous vision for Harvest and the area we are called to serve. It is their vision that keeps us motivated. It is their heart for people that keeps us engaged. It is their passion that reminds us we made the correct choice to participate in what God is doing in this corner of His Kingdom at this time of His history.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


The Monon Trail is a wonderful bike/skate/run/walk path in Indy. It stretches roughly 15 miles beginning in Carmel and ending in downtown. I believe it use to be a portion of a rail line. It runs through portions of quaint areas of Carmel, Fishers, and Broadripple. There also are parks and beautiful wooded areas.

Today I went on a bike ride. I did a turn around. Went about 45 minutes down and turned around and ended where I parked my vehicle. I estimate I traveled about 19 miles. I like to think it was not an evangelistic estimate.

There are many interesting people on this trail. One thing I noted was the number of very "stout" people riding bikes. Their physical stature did not represent bike riding as an effective weight loss method. Well, maybe today was their first day actually fulfilling a New Year's resolution. At least they started.

In line skaters are scary. They weave and move their arms so erratically it seems they are going to swoop from their side of the path right into you. When I saw them heading at me I was a bit nervous.

Slow walkers are the biggest hazard. I was not sure why they even were allowed on the trail. Talking and meandering down the asphalt path. Do they not know leisure walks need to be reserved for nature trails and not BIKE paths!

My favorite sight was the lady running with a dauschaund (you know, a wiener dog). She was keeping a fairly brisk pace, but this little dog with its long torso was doing pretty well. Well good for her and the dog. I can imagine that little pooch will sleep very well tonight.

It was a glorious day. Good exercise and a great deal of interesting folks.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Today was the last day of the Leadership by Design Class. We discussed missional organizations. How they might be defined? How they might be composed.

We defined a missional organization as tool for achieving the incarnational presence of Jesus through helping people live transformed lives in order to transform lives.

We listed the following components as those that may be a part of the make up of such an organization.

Missional leadership (those who understand the missional culture)
Ebb & Flow Leadership (shared leadership dictated by ability)
Empowering systems (people can decide at the nearest point of impact)
Flat organization (few, if any layers)
Flexible organization (speed boat)
Team trust (transparent authenticity)
Clarity of purpose (no misunderstanding)
Accommodate disagreement (safe places for people to speak)
Ease of communication (blogs, social networks, texting)
Agenda harmony (agreement on end results not necessarily path)
Mission intolerance (rudeness regarding the mission)
Ministry tolerance (variety in living out the mission)

These were our thougths. What say you?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Today in the Leadership Class we had a conversation about the relationship with being friends with those we lead, and being a leader. Out of this discussion came this observation: All leaders come to a time when they have to choose between being liked, or being respected. A leader can be respected, but not liked; and a leader can be liked, but not respected.

This is a tension point for most leaders. We all prefer to be liked, but there are times when we have to make "unlikeable" decisions. Decisions made rightly will result in respect for us, but we may have to trade off likability.

It is not easy, but leaders should choose respect over likability. Respect is a result of making the tough calls. It is choosing the difficult over the easy. It is the courage to confront clearly. It is telling the truth in love. It is the willingness to risk friendship in order to say what needs to be said. It is leading forward in the face of people who want us to ease off and pull back. It is defining reality. It is being honest with oneself and others.

It is true, leaders may not always be liked, but they can be respected. They are not the same. They cannot be pursued at the same time. They can co-exist, but if one does need to go...choose respect!

Monday, August 11, 2008


Yesterday I had the opportunity to preach at my home church. I enjoyed it greatly. I spoke on being a church of significance. People responded well.

Today I traveled to Frankfort, Indiana. I am teaching a class on leadership, "Leadership by Design." Six are in the class. Each of them are active in full time ministry. This allows for conversation on real ministry stuff. Each is living in the cauldron of experience. No philosophical discussion. No conversation on inexperienced musings. It is built around talking about applying principles and insights into authentic experience of daily ministry encounters. It makes for fun dialogue.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


There continues to be the assumption that we North Americans all think the same. This impacts our gospel presentation and what we are asking people to accept in our twenty-first century culture. We want people to accept our Lord, instead of THE Lord. In my movement we want people to become excellent Wesleyans, as if that is the hallmark of a Christ-follower.

It is our perspective that a genuine follower of Christ will exhibit the characteristics of a Wesleyan. Any conduct outside those parameters is questionable. I believe other movements encounter the same holy delusion. We do need to honor our chosen denominational heritages, but not at the expense of sequestering Jesus in our limited understanding of Christ followership.

Charles Van Engen in his book, Mission on the Way, states: “…to confess with one’s mouth and believe in one’s heart Jesus is Lord---that is all there is. Nothing else really matters. All else is to be held lightly. Everything else is negotiable. Thus when we call people of other cultures and faith to confess ‘Jesus is Lord,’ it is not our Jesus (exclusivist), nor is it a Jesus (pluralist), nor is it amorphous idea of Jesus Christ (inclusivist). Rather, it is Jesus the Lord, who calls for conversion and transformation of all who confess his name.”

He brings to the fore that the gospel story calls for biblical conversion and transformation apart from any “other” perspective imposed additions, or traditions. The call is to radical Jesus Lordship, not denominational Lordship. A particular movement may help us refine our commitment to Christ, but it must never define it. And therein lies the challenge.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


I have been getting in a running groove the last few weeks. Consistently running 5-8 miles averaging under an eight minute pace. It doesn't get me in the Olympics, but it was excellent for me.

About a month ago I started having some soreness in my left foot. It began as a minor inconvenience. Typically after a mile or so it limbered up and it had no effect on my running distance or time. That was until about ten days ago. I went for a "prior to church" Sunday run. The foot was a little sore, but I continued on with my previous "in about a mile it will loosen up" mantra The problem was it didn't. I, however, continued to run. I got in five miles, but toward the end I had slowed to barely a ten minute pace. It was sore!

I decided to take a week off from running. Instead I focused on elliptical and bicycle. This past Sunday (August 3) I decided to give it another try. I got one-quarter mile down the road. It was evident it would not be happening. I turned and limped home. At the prompting of my wife I called the doctor and set an appointment. In the mean time I set about my own therapy.

I returned to the elliptical to allow my foot to rest. This past Tuesday it was feeling much better. Could be I didn't need that doctor appointment after all. I put in four miles on the treadmill, but when I was done it was evident that it was a baaaadddd idea. Back to elliptical.

Today I visited the doctor. After pushing on my foot, asking questions and taking x-rays the diagnosis was in: I have a stress fracture.

I have to admit I felt a bit honored by this. After all, lots of athletes get these. It is from working out hard and regular. I imagined myself an elite athlete.

Once beyond my world of elite status, I inquired of the treatment. And when he told me I was both happy and sad. Sad, as I am unable to run for the next 4-6 weeks. But I can do other forms of fitness. I will learn to love the elliptical. Happy as he told me that it would be best to wear Birkenstocks as often as possible. Awesome!

I get, I mean have, to wear comfortable sandals. Even to work! I can hardly wait. When my co-workers see this their initial reaction will be, "There is Stevenson trying to push the casual envelop again." And I get to tell them, "Doctor's orders!" I might even wear a suit and tie (which I seldom do), but to offset them with Birkenstocks...now that would be worth it.

This is a reminder to me that all of life has upsides and downsides. Frankly, I would rather be healthy enough to run...but the Birkenstock trade off will be lots of fun.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Today I traveled to Bartlesville, Oklahoma. This is a community of about 35,000 folks situated roughly 40 miles NE of Tulsa. It is HOT here! Low nineties. I am here for the Tri-State District Conference.

I am staying at the Phillips Hotel. This is an old hotel with a great history and a lot of class. I enjoy staying here. It is not your typical chain accommodations. It is warm and welcoming.

I do have a dilemma I am attempting to figure out. I connected on a flight through Minneapolis. I had a two hour lay over. While there I got some crackers individually wrapped in cellophane...do you know what I am talking about? Anyway, when I ripped them open, the little piece that came off stuck to my hand. Has this ever happened to you? I mean it clings. I tried to remove it off one finger and it simply attached itself to another finger. I don't know if it is static electricity, or some sick joke being played by those who package those crackers; but it can almost be designated a sport. Who can open their crackers and get the cellophane off their fingers the fastest.

I did finally get to eat my crackers. It really wasn't that difficult after I learned to hold them with little cellophane pieces stuck to my fingers. Actually, it made holding the cracker a bit more sterile. Kind of like little individual latex gloves, only cellophane. What?

Monday, July 28, 2008


Spent a wonderful week with all of our kids and spouses on an Alaskan cruise. Ryan & Desyrae Stevenson (Natomas, CA), Drew & Megan Simpson (Roseville, CA), Scott & Ashley Stevenson (McKinney, TX) and us Phil & Joni Stevenson (Fishers, IN). Friday, we departed from Seattle, WA and cruised full speed to Juneau, Alaska. A leisurely over night trip to Skagway. A day at a glacier. A day in Prince Rupert, Canada and then back to Seattle.

There was glorious scenery. We saw bald eagles, baby bald eagles, humpback whales, Orcas, playful porpoises, seals and many very interesting people. Here is a quick overview of my memories.

  • Being with family and laughing alot
  • Walking the interesting streets of Downtown
  • Watching them throw fish at Pike's Market
  • Drinking coffee at the original Starbucks
  • Eating Pizza for my wife's B-day
  • Running through the squirting fountain
  • Eating repulsive jelly belly's (e.g. vomit flavor...can that be a flavor)


  • Being with family and laughing alot
  • Ping pong (Ryan & Drew won the doubles tourney, Scott and I lost to Joni and Megan in round one...we will never get over that)
  • Drinking lemonade in the jacuzzi on a cold day
  • Running with Scott & Ryan from the jacuzzi to the pool...not a bright idea
  • Dressing up for dinner
  • Eating breakfast with the family and watching the glacier from a few hundred yards
  • Watching the shows
  • Playing canasta
  • Sitting and talking
  • Dinner around a nice round table with the whole family
  • Telling our server, AJ, excellent while extending two thumbs up
  • Getting lost on the ship the first day out...they are really big and I didn't have my glasses on.
  • Drinking Seattle's Best Coffee early in the morning
  • Seeing Orcas
  • Watching a large group of porpoises run with the ship


  • Being with family and laughing alot
  • Bus trip to the glacier
  • Going in shops
  • Purchasing an jade grizzle bear with a Salmon in its mouth


  • Being with family and laughing alot
  • 15 mile bike ride...mostly downhill, but the uphill into the wind made up for the downhill
  • Espresso after the bike ride
  • Walking with family around town


  • Being with family and laughing alot
  • Eating fish & chips
  • Playing darts with Ryan where we ate fish & chips
  • Playing pool with Ryan where we ate fish & chips
  • Tim Horton's (my Canadian friends know what I am talking about)
  • Visiting the Sunken Garden

This was just the tip of the iceberg regarding my recollections. But enough said for now.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Today I got pictures of Brophee at eleven weeks in the womb. This is my designation for my grandchild. If he is a boy his name will be Brodee, and a girl Sophee. Thus I have dubbed he/she Brophee.

The little person has long legs. His dad has long legs, so the child comes by it naturally. In one picture the baby has his/her arm resting on the forehead. He/she is very much lounging. This is where the resemblance to me (Pappy) comes in. I am very good a lounging.

September we find out the rightful name as that is when the sex will be noted. Whether Brodee or Sophee I believe he/she will be very cute and adorable. I have great plans for this child. Lots of fun. I can hardly wait.

Monday, July 14, 2008


I flew into Mason City, IA this morning. This is THE smallest airport I have ever flew into, and I have been in some small airports. The terminal has two gates and one airline. When I fly out tomorrow I will probably get an incredible amount of scrutiny. It seems the smaller the airport, the less they have to do, so the more they observe those coming through. I'd be leery of folks who might fly out of such a non-descript place myself.

I drove forty-five minutes to Charles City, IA. I am here to participate in the Iowa-Minnesota District Conference. I arrived around noon. Too early to check into my hotel. The conference did not begin until 7pm. I went into downtown Charles City. The traffic was a bit congested, but I managed to find a neat little coffee shop. It had excellent coffee (by excellent I mean very strong) and free wifi. I spent close to three hours working in the peace of this environment. If I lived here, and I hope I don't, I would enjoy hanging out at this place.

I had dinner with my good friend Al, his wife Pam, and several of the leaders from his church. He even treated! I had steak :)

I attended their district family celebration. Lots of awards. Tons of clapping. Ron McClung, the District Superintendent, is a wonderful leader. He is has instilled much vision into his pastors. He knows how to honor folks. I am glad I got to be with them.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Today we had the small group we participate in over for a grill out. We have always called this a bar-b-Que, but here in the Midwest it is called a grill out. It makes sense. We didn't bbq anything, but we grilled everything. We grilled hot dogs, brats with little cheese balls build right into them and hamburgers.

Other folks brought great extras. We had an outrageous homemade onion dip. It was hot and cheesey. The only other onion dip I have had was onion soup mix blended with sour cream. I like that too, but this stuff was, well...just let me say I could have buried my face in the middle of the dish and eaten my way out! We also had some homemade bbq (not grilled) beans. These too were excellent. We then finished the whole meal off with some lemon meringue pie and coconut cake. I liked the cake, not a real lemon meringue kind of guy. See no use for meringue. Nothing but sugared air.

All and all a great afternoon. We sat on the back patio under the umbrella. Ate, talked movies and other stuff. Nothing really of eternal value except relationship building...which is really the most eternal work we can do.

Friday, July 11, 2008


It's July and for me that means my annual physical. Today was the day. This year I broke two of my physical rules: I had an afternoon appointment and I didn't strip nearly naked when they did the weigh in. Let me explain.

I typically prefer a morning physical, first thing if possible. My reasoning is that the Doctor should be reasonably alert first thing, thus no mis-diagnosis. The doctor has not seen other patience recently, so no mixing me up with someone else. I have eaten little if anything, had only a small amount of coffee and I can dress in shorts, flip flops and a light cotton shirt. This leads into my second rule broken.

I typically hate to get weighed. It makes no sense to have to step on the scale. And they have you do this ALL the time. I went in once just to pick up a item and the nurse had me step on the scale. I am sure they do this not for health reasons, but for personal enjoyment. One time, as the nurse wrote my weight in my chart and she verbalized it (supposedly so I knew what it was) I heard a voice from the reception station say, "who had over 200?"

This is why I like to go to my physical as scantily and discreetly dressed as I can. Having an afternoon appointment waylayed that strategy. Fortunately it was casual Friday, so I could be a bit less dressed up. But I did have bluejeans on (denim is very heavy), shoes that weigh quite a bit, my watch (1lb) and money in my pocket which I am sure was 3-5 lbs in money clip wieght alone. I thought it was a doctor's office so seeing people in their underwear could not be all that odd, but I resisted the urge to shed any un-necessary weight.

I boldly stepped on the scale. And to my delight the lower slider never had to get close to the "200" number. I was ecstatic. I asked, "How does it compare to last year?" The nurse informed me she would have to check. Another indication they do this primarily for fun rather than fitness. But I pushed the envelop and would not rest until she gave me the comparison. 16lbs less than last year!

The physical went great! The stuff that was suppose to be lower was. The stuff that was suppose to be higher (e.g. good cholesterol) was. The doctor used adjectives such as: Fantastic. Great. Wonderful. He was very delighted at the results. I still had to endure the "latex glove," but all things have their challenges.

I have felt I am in the best shape of my life. This physical was a tangible evidence of this. So what did I do? First, I called Joni and bragged. Second, I had a brownie with ice cream, chocolate syrup and whipped cream. Come on, nobody likes to be good all the time. Not to mention it is twelve months until my next trip to the doctor.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Today was the district conference for Pacific Southwest. This is my home district. I always enjoy being here. Great people! Great enthusiasm! Huge vision. Two years ago this district spun off a Hispanic District. Now they are cultivating the growing Korean population in their district. I would not be surprised if they spin off a Korean District in the not too distant future. It goes to show you that believers multiply believers, churches multiply churches and districts can multiply districts.

Two HUGE highlights for me: First, Vicki, the church administrator at the church the conference is held, brought me a apple fritter. Never mind I have been begging her for weeks to bring this the morning of conference, that she did it was greatly appreciated. I have no idea where she gets these, but they are the best fritter I have ever had. Second, and really THE highlight, was getting to hang out with my oldest son. We sat next to one another. Shared some laughs. Just simply got to be together. I don't get to do this enough so it was awesome.

I head back to Indy later today. Ready to be home for three whole days before heading to Iowa.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Began today very early. I am on the west coast, but on east coast time. I woke up every hour on the hour from 1:30am on. At 5:15am I decided to get up and get my run in. I ran a bit over five miles. I had forgotten the number of hills in San Diego. I am a flat lander, so got a bit more work out. Still I finished my run mostly intact.

I had coffee with Jim Bogear. He is the Lead Pastor of The River Church in Sacramento. He has a great heart for those in his community, especially those disconnected from Christ. They had not seen the number of folks come to Christ as they have in past years...and this bothered him. Nice to come across a leader who is concerned they are not reaching people for Christ as opposed to some other fringe concern. Winning people to Christ is our main thing. Jim wants to keep it that way for his congregation. May his tribe increase.

Drove to Oceanside. This is a community about 45 miles north of San Diego. I had lunch with Mark Williams. He is the Vice-President of Dynamic Church Planting International (DCPI). They have trained thousands of church planters all over the world. God has really enlarged the "I" of dcpi. His heart is to see churches plant churches, so we get along marvelously.

Tonight, however, will be the highlight of my trip. I get the privilege to pray for my friend Jeff Jennings. He is getting ordained tonight. He has asked that I pray over him during this service. It is a high honor. Jeff is an incredible leader who develops leaders. He has a deep passion to see people come to Christ. He wants to see the church he has just been called to Pastor to multiply many congregations. He is called, gifted and been granted a God-sized vision. I am thrilled to play this small role in his journey.

Different people, doing different things, in different places...but this they have in common: They are uncommon leaders relentless pursing their God-given visions!

Monday, July 7, 2008


Today I have made my way to San Diego. I am here for the Pacific Southwest District Conference. This is my home district and my home town. I always enjoy visiting. I arrived on a beautiful day, as if there are any other kind here.

I got to spend some time with my mom and oldest, older sister. You see I am the youngest of three and the older two are sisters. So I have an oldest older sister and a youngest older sister. And regardless of how I refer to either of them, and no matter how we all age, I am still the baby.

We had a nice dinner at Chili's. Wonderful conversation and lots of laughter. Our family likes to laugh. It is a gift from my dad. He had a great sense of humor. He passed it onto us and, fortunately, it has passed on to my kids.

All three of my kids are hilarious. They enjoy laughing, and kidding each other. They all view life a bit oddly and see the humor in most anything. Joni and I are blessed.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


This week-end we, with friends, traveled to Chicago to attend the "Taste of Chicago." This is an annual event held downtown. It features many eateries making their secret blends of herbs and spices..., wait that is KFC. Anyway, there is a great deal to indulge in.

I don't typically like to travel anywhere on three day week-ends. Too much traffic, too many people. I would prefer to stay at home, go to a movie and simply watch all the traffic and crowds on TV. However, our good friend Scott is the CEO of International Teams (ITeams). This is a inter-denominational missions organization. So he and his wife invited us, along with another couple (The Haymonds), to make the trek to join them on this adventure. So we did.

In preparation for The Taste (this is how the locals refer to it) I ran eight miles prior to embarking on the journey. We took the train from Elgin right into Union Station in the heart of Chicago. This is only the second time I had been on a train outside of Disneyland. It was my first train trip with a ticket. My first time on a real train I did not have a ticket, but this is for another time.

Disembarking from the train we made the 10-12 block walk to The Taste. The tender inside the Taste are tickets that you purchase...twelve tickets for eight dollars. You then exchange these tickets for full portions, or "tastes" of offerings at a variety of booths. And I do mean a variety. There is much to choose from. All kinds of ethnic food are on display. My personal favorite was something with a very fancy name. What it turned out to be was a lump of dough deep fried and sprinkled with powder sugar. Now that is what I call healthy and tasty. I determine long ago I will pretty much try anything deep fried.

Once making our way through the various taste venues, we ventured down Michigan Avenue, part of which is called the "magnificent mile." This mile is littered with many stores all providing you the opportunity to spend money. Fortunately we resisted. The one store that really caught my attention was called a Basement. Here is the interesting thing: We took an escalator to gain entrance into a store known as a basement. Does this stike anyone else as a bit odd? Once there, I spent my time looking for the way down to the attic. Made perfect sense to me.

Other week-end highlights: Riding in a water taxi, eating at Cheesecake Factory, walking with friends, Starbucks stops (twice), sitting in the shade looking out over Lake Michigan, laughing, almost getting separated from the others and me the only one without my cell phone, deep dish pizza, Burnt Toast (a restraunt, not a bread's condition), making fun of Scott for how he backs up a 15 passenger van, Fair Oaks Farms, memories that will last most of my life, if I don't forget.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Tonight I replaced our doorbell. To many this would not be a big deal. But I am not a "fix it" guy. I have limited tools: Basic ratchet set, hammer, pair of pliers and one Phillips and Flathead screwdriver. I know how to use the hammer best. Unfortunately this job demanded the Phillips and Flathead.

Replacing a doorbell demands a multitude of skill sets. I had to remove one bell and replace it with another. I needed to disconnect and reconnect two wires...this is huge! And I did it. I was so excited that it worked I intentionally locked my wife out of the house so she would have to ring the bell to get in.

I am so stoked I am considering removing the ceiling fans I purchased last fall. I am not saying I will attempt to install them, but taking them out of their yet unsealed box would be a show of extreme confidence. I may be a "fix it" guy after all!

Monday, June 30, 2008


Ken Blanchard is known as a management guru. One of his most well know books is the "One Minute Manager." He is also a fully devoted follower of Christ. In an interview he did for REV magazine he made a very challenging statement: “Right now we’ve killed the word ‘Christianity.’ It’s associated with judgment, evaluation, sorting people out, and all that.”

This is indicting! It is true we believers tend to be known more for what we are against than what we are for. Recently a group of "Christians" were up in arms at Starbucks for their logo. It seems the depiction of, I believe, their mermaid with long hair hanging loosely over her breasts were deemed as pornographic. They were demanding that this depiction be removed

WOW! Who were they protecting? I frequent Starbucks. And their accusation caused me to look a bit more critically at the cup my delicious coffee was served. I have to say, I got nothing. What I perceive pornography to be, and what this cup revealed, did not really seem to be the same thing. I said to my wife, "No wonder the world things Christians are whacked."

Do followers of Christ need to make a stand against the evils in this world? Absolutely! But with the myriad of stark and rank evil that exists in this world it seems that a long haired full figured mermaid should not really get much of the attention.

Lets regain our genuine voice in our culture. Lets attack the real domains of darkness. Lets invade ungodly space with deep authentic godliness. Lets be the light that reveals the tough stuff. Lets do this with the genuine love for those we interact. A love that drove Jesus to the cross with an unwillingness to condemn those who placed him there. When we rail against the darkness in love people tend to listen much more intently.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


I was returning from Wisconsin this past Friday. I was in a small 34 passenger jet propelled plane. These are your basic yellow buses in the sky. I was very happy to be on board. It was a standby flight out of Central Wisconsin Airport. I was the last one on. I got the back row of seats to myself. There were four seats side by side...much like the back row of a Gray Hound bus.

I sat in the seat right at the end of the aisle. This allowed me to stretch my legs out right down the row. Being in the back, in that seat, was much like being in first class in a larger plane. I may have been the last on, but I felt I had the best seat. Then again, I was so happy to be on the plane I would have felt sitting on the drop down seat outside the cockpit would have been the best seat.

There was a great deal of thunder activity around us. This did not have much impact on us until we got into the vicinity of Detroit. Here there was weather around the airport, so we were placed in a holding pattern for about ten minutes. I am not a big holding pattern kind of guy, and this is amplified when there are thunderheads to be navigated around.

We were released to make our decent into the Detroit. It was a bit of a bumpy ride. I am not a fan of bumpy rides. It was not the worse I have been on, but it was not the smoothest either.

I find that when I get in bumpy air I like to close my eyes. Not real sure why, but for some reason it gives me a bit of comfort. I am reminded of a child who places their hands over their eyes and feel they have rendered themselves invisible. I guess when I close my eyes I somehow feel I am not really hundreds, if not thousands of feet in the air being tossed around like a plastic cup in the open ocean. It doesn't really change anything, but I believe it must. That is until I open my eyes and discovered I was still on the same small cylinder hurling through inconvenient air.

It is easy to fall into the "eyes tightly shut" syndrome in leadership. There may be kinds of stuff happening around us, but instead of clarifying the situation and dealing with it we shut our eyes. We believe that by doing so the challenges, obstacles and problems will somehow take care of themselves. It rarely happens. When we open our eyes we discover not only are the circumstances we were trying to avoid still very much there, often they have increased in their severity.

Seldom does ignoring our leadership challenges fix them. Going on with business as usual when it is anything but usual does no good. Things fester and become an epidemic that could have been avoided if only dealt with earlier. So what are we do to? Close our eyes tighter! Sooner or later things have to go back to usual.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Today was the annual Fishers Freedom Run. Fishers is the Indianapolis suburb in which I live. Each year, typically the week-end prior to July 4th, they have their Freedom Festival. This is kicked off with their 5k run/walk and family 2 mile walk. Since I ran both last year and now this year, I guess you might say this is an annual event for me.

Last year I ventured out on my own, but this year several friends and family joined in on the festivities. Bob & Lisa, and Heidi and her dad Steve. My lovely wife Joni walked in her first ever "official" run/walk event. Which I was very proud of her for doing. She is just AWESOME!

It was a great day. My goal was to run the course in 24 minutes or less. I finished in 22:54. This was very exciting for me. The others finished in a more extended time, but they did finish. We then all went to breakfast at The Original Pancake House. The truth of it is, I am motivated to run in these events for two primary rewards: 1. The tee-shirts; 2. food. They had bagels for the runners and walkers, but I deferred to the pancakes...yummy!

I had three little pigs in a blanket. This is a cute name for a pork sausage wrapped in a pancake. Each little pig got its own blanket. They sprinkle a bit of powder sugar on them. I add plenty of butter and syrup and you end up with a health food. Come on, how fattening can three little pigs be? Granted, if they were whole pigs we would have a bit of a dietary challenge, but this was just a very small portion. Yes, it is a spin, but what can you do?

Great run! Great friends! Great food! A marvelous way to begin a week-end.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I was at the Wisconsin District Conference today. Joanne Lyon was there. It was her first Conference since being elected General Superintendent. She did two things I really liked. First, when she gave her State of the Church Address, she did not run through a litany of stats. She simply mentioned they were in the notebook and available for their review. She then launched into a visionary challenge.

She had five points: 1) 1000 Kingdom lights (churches that will invade secular space); 2) 1000 churches to experience ministry of deliverance for people; 3) Global Wesleyan Education Systems; 4) 90% of our churches become involved in global issues (e.g. human trafficking, poverty, HIV/AIDS, etc...) 5) Living under the resurrection power of Christ.

Can we achieve all of this in twelve months? I don't know. This is not the point. The point is it is a compelling vision. Details can be worked out as we go.

Second, she allowed the DS to chair the conference. She was there as a resource person. The DS did an excellent job.

I liked this because I feel this is how it should be. Nice change.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I have been working on a project called Leadership by Design. This will be an elective for a program called Rekindle. This is continuing education for those in ministry.

The goal of the class is to deal with leadership from several angles: Personal Leadership, Developing Leaders and Organizational Leadership. Each has its own unique set of opportunities and challenges. My hope is that we will have lots of interaction as many of those attending will be in ministry and have applications and war stories.

War stories are good. Nothing like a group of leaders with Purple Hearts and leadership scars. It keeps us all invigorated. Often in dealing with students who have yet to be in the trenches of leadership there is too much idealism. The problem with philosophical leadership is that it does not factor in people. People tend to clog up leadership idealism arteries. People are what leadership is all about, but they also make it difficult.

What I am most excited about is that those attending will begin to develop a personalized leadership fitness plan. Something they can take with them and implement.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I have known this for several weeks, but my daughter had me on a gag order. She wanted to be sure. She wanted to be able to tell some key folks in her own time and in her own way. This has all been achieved, so she informed me I can be more aggressive in my telling. What am I talking about? My one and only daughter is pregnant! That is absolutely correct. I am going to be a granddad! Yipppeee!!!

I have been told that this is the greatest thing for parents. When your kids have kids things really change. I was once told by an experienced grandparent that if they would have known how much fun grandkids were they would have been nicer to their parents. This tells me grand parenting must REALLY be fun, because I was pretty darn nice to this grandchild’s parents.

I am finding there are some interesting tidbits guiding forthcoming grandparents. One, and I had no idea about this, we get to pick what we are called. I just figured we would be grandpa and grandma. But you don’t have to leave this to chance. If you get your name in early you are able to be “branded” with your special moniker.

It actually makes perfect sense. After all, this new little person will only know what something, or someone, is labeled when the adults in their life point and say…. Well you fill in the blank. This being the case my lovely wife has declared herself “Gram” and my daughter has determine that I will be “pappy.” Evidently only the ladies get to pick who is called what. I was actually going to push for the “Grand sage.”

Second, we get to purchase all kinds of stuff for the new baby. The stuff doesn’t have to be practical, nor quiet. It just has to be fun. I like that. When we bought for their parents it was regulated by price and practicality. With grandkids it is regulated by, “We are Gram and Pappy and we believe the little guy or girl will like it.”

Third, we get minimal input into names. It seems the parents prefer total and complete control over this. And they have no problem whatsoever expressing their distain for “Pappy” suggestions. What is wrong with Phil for a boy and Phyllis for a girl?

Still much to learn! And I plan to learn it all each step of the way. I AM GOING TO BE A PAPPY!

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Today we celebrate thirty-three years of marriage. I guess if you are a stickler for details we actually won't be celebrating until around 4:30pm Eastern Daylight Time. It was thirty-three years ago @ 1pm on the West Coast we began the ceremony. I don't remember how long it lasted, but I figure the final "I dos" had to be between 1:30-1:45. Currently we live in Indiana on EDT, so that places it at the four thirty time frame mentioned earlier.

Regardless of the time, we actually began to celebrate yesterday. We went to a movie. Saw Get Smart. Those who recall the TV version will thoroughly enjoy. But even if you are like my older son who said, "It was on TV?" will also enjoy. It is fun, funny and corny. Exactly what you expect from such a movie. We then went to dinner a Qdoba (is this advertising) for dinner. We chose this since the movie coupon got us free chips and salsa.

We continue our celebration today. We enjoyed a relaxing breakfast at Paradise Bakery. Did some chores around the house. Now we are sitting on our back patio in the Indiana sun. Joni reading, me blogging. Later today we have friends over. Life is much about the friendships you make during the journey, so having them over makes perfect sense as part of an anniversary.

We each got one another funny cards. I have to mention I included a Starbucks card in the one I gave. It had thirty-three dollars on it, representing...well thirty-three years. The card I received had the inside of a card. Not to complain. It would be one of the few times I thought ahead.

Our anniversary celebration may not seem romantic or that significant to you. But we have discovered that our marriage is not about impressing others, nor over celebrating. We enjoy our relationship. We don't even have to impress one another any more. We have a deeper love than we did on our honeymoon night and even better...well that is for us to know. The reality is, after thirty-three years we can pretty much celebrate anyway we choose. And we have. And we will.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I went to lunch today at Mo's Irish Pub. They have wonderful food and this really great drink. Now before you jump to any conclusions regarding my drinking habits at a pub, it may not be what you think. I had a mango, non-caloric, high energy iced tea. I had it before when eating here, and knew it was mango. But our server today added the non-caloric, high energy, I assume as a "selling" point. What she didn't know was I would have ordered it even if it infused fat into directly into my veins and caused me to fall into a deep sleep. Did I mention the tea tastes really good?

Preparing to head back to my office I asked the server, "May I have a cup of tea to go? I would like a large cup."

"All we have is 8oz cups. Except that child's and they are even smaller." She sounded apologetic. She probably sensed I may have been mentally reducing the tip by percentage points. "Are you sure?" I was almost pleading. But I resigned myself to the inevitable.

She returned with the "tiny" cup. It was like a shot glass of tea (what do you expect at a Pub?). My longed for afternoon of sipping my mango, non-caloric, energy iced tea was gone. I tried to nurse the cup as long as I could, but it was gone by the time I returned to my office. All of two miles from Mo's.

I will go back. And I believe I will take my own "to go" cup. Possibly a 32 ouncer. Did I mention the tea tastes really good.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


This morning I got up and had a nice run. Out the door a bit before six AM. I got in a decent paced five miles. I always enjoy my day more when I run. It is as if I get something achieved right off the bat. This sets the temp for the rest of my day.

How do you begin your day? Do you have something that gets you ready? An activity that gets the blood going? A bit of fitness? If not, I encourage you find that something that helps you begin your day fresh.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Here is what happened today. I went to Paradise Bakery (a great eating establishment) to get lunch for myself and a variety of treats for my team members. I ordered a fruit bowl, two salads, a blueberry muffin, double chocolate brownie and a large iced tea. Once I got back to the office and handed out the orders I reviewed the receipt. I noted that I did not get charged for the brownie.

I could not let this pass. Call it conscience, my upbringing, or a desire to live out my relationship with God in an authentic manner; regardless I needed to go back and pay them their money.

On my way home I stopped in at Paradise. I still had the receipt. I walked in and said to the young lady behind the counter, "I was in here earlier today and order one of those brownies." For emphasis I pointed at the stack of brownies displayed in their case. "I need to pay for it."

She, along with two other co-workers, looked at me as if I had just told them, "I had to hurry as my space ship was doubled parked."

Sensing their seemingly inability to translate my words into an understandable language, I reinerated my intent to pay for the now devoured brownie. Breaking from their 'deer in the headlights stare' they informed me they would not take my money.

"It was our error, so you don't have to pay."

"You don't want my money?"

"No, but thank you for your honesty."

That was it! They didn't take my money, but they were amazed at my honesty. I turned and walked out with a smile on my face and a bit of mixed emotion in my spirit.

My mixed emotion was a feeling I should have given a bit more credit to Jesus for my honesty. I was not just being a good person, although I feel I am. But my goodness, at least for me, I think, is a result of my relationship with God. I did not know how to communicate this to them. I mean what do you say? "I did this because Jesus lives in my life."

Frankly that would seem a bit contrived and inauthentic. But what do you think? What would you have done?

Monday, June 16, 2008


Today is a fly day. I am traveling west (Sacramento, CA) to east (Indianapolis, IN) via Minneapolis, MN. I am quickly adding three hours to my day.

Fortunately, prior to my West Coast departure, I was able to get in a five mile run. This helps to add a sense of achievement to a mostly “sit on your butt and exert little effort” day.

While waiting for my connecting flight in Minneapolis, I am getting to watch the 18th hole of the US Open Playoff. Tiger just birdie, as he did yesterday, to force a sudden death playoff. What a great competition! In this match there will be no loser. A winner yes, but no loser. Sadly I will not get to watch the conclusion, the call of a flight connection.

A lesson in this competition is to do what you can. Play your game. And when those two things are done you can walk away with a sense of accomplishment.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Tonight I am relaxing at the home of my oldest son and his wonderful wife. They live in Natomas. This is a small community just north of downtown Sacramento. He is on staff at The River Church. An eight-year-old church that is doing an outstanding job of reaching its community. This church was daughtered by Arcade Wesleyan, the church I was privileged to lead for six years.

It has been a very busy, but productive week-end. I spoke to 100 men at a retreat located at a beautiful retreat center on the shore of Lake Tahoe. I spoke Friday night. Three times on Saturday. Then wrapped up early on Sunday AM with a communion service. We then made our way down the hill from the lake to make the first service at The River Church. I spoke for their two morning services. Needless to say it was a bit draining.

The real highlight of the week-end was getting to spend Father's Day with my oldest son, his wife, my daughter and her husband and my son's in-laws. We grilled, laughed and watched Tiger Woods make the tourney tying putt on the last hole of the US Open. It was GREAT!

I write this as the Celtics are make every effort to complete their bid for the NBA Championship against the Lakers. And being a Sacramento Kings fan, who has had their share of run-ins with the Lakers, we are pulling for the Celtics.

It has been a wonderful three days of ministry and family. I head back to Indy early tomorrow. I miss Sacramento, but know I am where I need to be at this time.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


General Conference is over. Some interesting things happened. Not sure what they all mean, but I do believe it is time to move out!

We elected our first woman General Superintendent. The response to her election said it all. People are ready to move out. She has vision, credibility and an extreme amount of ability. She is not the best woman for this job, she is the best person for this job. She, too, is ready to move out!

There was a push from the general conference floor not to simply accept business as usual. They want a voice, input, an opportunity to participate in something bigger than anyone person. There is a rumble from the crowd. Folks no longer want to settle. They want to move out.

I was thrilled to have been re-elected. It was a wonderfully positive vote. I believe it was an affirmation of where we need to go. I have attempted to be clear as to what we need to be about. I have attempted to keep the vision firmly in front. People genuinely seem to want to move out.

It is a new day! There is an opportunity to lead in pro activity. Four years from this time, what might we want to celebrate? Let's decide. Let's be clear. Let's move out!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Tomorrow my wife and I leave for Orlando. We will be attending the General Conference for The Wesleyan Church. This happens every four years. It is our version of the Republican or Democratic (you choose your party) Convention. Business is conducted on issues related to our movement. Some issues are of vital importance, but as in life the majority of the time is pretty mundane.

I have attended these before. The past two I was a delegate representing my district from the West Coast. This was an enjoyable experience, but for the majority of the time I was somewhat disengaged. Don't get me wrong there were some exciting and unexpected things that happened, but mostly it was a yawner.

This one is much different for me personally. I serve in a position that will be voted on. Could be that this time next week my future will change. If I don't get re-elected then I am looking for something else, somewhere else.

I have been voted on before. This is the nature of the movement I am in, but it was in a local setting not one as wide spread as this. Most of the folks (delegates) voting really don't know me. Most are not that well versed in what I have done, am doing, or will do. I guess that is why even with the human element of voting in play, there is a expectancy of God's participation.

Truth be told, I am confident regardless of the outcome. I did not solicit to get this position so it is really not mine to hold onto any longer than God chooses. My desire has always been to do what I thought was best for the multiplication movement and let the chips fall where they may...even though in my denomination the only chips that are allowed to fall must be in a bag with the word "potato" in front of them.

I will not be doing any blogging until after this is over, so enjoy your days ahead and I will blog at you later.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Today I needed to have conversations with two different people. Both centered around something they had written. One was a statement about me. The other was a communication regarding an ministry I work with.

Both were misleading, in my opinion. Both could have caused a spirit of spite, or a kernel of bitterness to lodge itself in my being. Both could have been fuel for an inner fire that many of us have looking for an excuse to stoke and allow to manifest itself in anger. Both written statements were a bit biting.

What did I do? I talked to the person. I know...we typically don't do this. I was able to chat with one face to face, the other I had to call due to distance. Either way, the conversation was needed and the results were positive.

I was reminded once again that the best way to deal with potential misunderstanding is to talk with the person who can help clear it up. The person who also has a stake in the outcome. How often do people talk to others about someone, instead of talking to the right one? I am reminded of a principle I learned many years ago, and do try to implement: If you are unwilling to talk to the person, don't talk about the person.

Do you have someone you need to converse? Why not take the time to do just that?

Monday, June 2, 2008


I spent my morning in Starbucks writing. I don't know what it is about this place, but I am always productive when I am there. The smell of coffee. Activity around me. It is wonderful. They have cornered the market on places to be. I am glad they have.

Friday, May 30, 2008


Since Henry Ford rolled out the first Model T cars have evolved in safety. Seat belts, first then air bags. Did you know that car fronts of been re-engineered to help pedestrians bounce up instead of getting knocked down when hit? I didn't know this. And I am glad I have never had the experience to test the engineering from either side of the car-pedestrian equation.

Now there is a call for car makers to install air bags on hoods to protect cyclists. You got it! A cyclists hits the hood and a airbag deploys cushioning the impact. I wonder if they will take into account the deployment velocity. It may reduce the injuries from car impacts, but it may increase injuries of cyclists launched, who knows where, when the bag deploys. Or, it may result in the first cyclists to orbit the earth.

Here is my real point. Cars have stayed basically the same since the Model T. They have wheels (usually four), a chaise, a body, seats, steering wheel, etc..., but they have dramatically changed. Automakers are always looking of ways to adapt the basic car to the newness of the environment in which the car must function. Functionally it remains the same, but it's form changes. It still, basically, moves a person from point A to B, but the way and speed it makes that journey has transitioned.

I wonder if this might apply to churches? They need to maintain the integrity of their foundations, but adapt to the new environment. I think, I think, that if some church leaders where in the car business they would still be manufacturing Model T's and declaring it sound doctrine.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


I spent yesterday with eight leaders from the Wisconsin District. Dan Bickel is giving excellent leadership in church multiplication. He is steadily, but surely leading toward this team becoming a m3 (Missional Multiplication Movement) District.

They have planted eight churches in the last seven years. Their vision is to plant, at least, twelve more by 2020. Ten percent of their district budget is directed toward church planting. Dan challenges all of his Pastors and local leadership teams to participate in the parenting of new churches. His passion and heart is catching on.

One church in a very rural area has committed ten percent of their budget to invest in new churches. Two other churches are beginning plans to daughtering a church. The passion to infiltrate this district with the life changing message of Jesus through planting new missional outposts is expanding.

This team of leaders could have identified all kinds of reasons why they could not move toward missional multiplication. They could identify the large number of small communities with populations under 5000 as not open to new churches. They could have bemoaned the fact that their larger churches (the ones most leveraged to daughter) were not close to their major metropolitan areas. They could have used a lack of financial resources as leaving them short of funding as they would like. They could have used a variety of reasons as excuses; instead they simply decided to do!

Many can find excuses not to participate in missional multiplication movements. Why not simply make the call to get involved? Do what you can!

Monday, May 26, 2008


The unofficial beginning of summer. Gotta love it! We had a summer like day. We slept in. Had coffee in bed while watching the Today Show. We then pulled ourselves out from under the covers and made our way to the new Paradise Bakery about three miles from the house. We enjoyed our favorite muffins as we sat outside on the patio. It was a warm morning.

We then made a stop at Lowe's for items we needed around the house. We met friends and enjoyed the fourth Indiana Jones movie. I grew up with this guy! And I have to tell you ole Indy made the new Senior adult crowd proud. He moved a bit slower, but he still took care of business. It was great fun.

We had a late lunch, then home to do chores around the house. I actually did a tune up on my lawn mower. Anyone who knows me is right now picking their jaw up off the ground. I did it! I changed oil, replaced an air filter and...well I was unable to get the spark plug out, but two out of three steps is not bad.

Overall great day! It is a wonderful beginning of summer.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


I am not really a big fan of mountain or central time zones. The TV programs I like come on way too early, so I miss them. One positive, however, is I do get to watch the beginning of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. In my city this comes on at 11:30pm. This translates into seldom viewing the humor of Jay. But in the mountain or central zones this moves to the 10:30pm hour. Much more viewer friendly for people like me. What kind of people? Those who are a bit older and don't mind falling asleep earlier than later.

Last night Jay quipped: "They are looking for water and ice on Mars. Hey! We have water and ice here, why not look for oil. We need oil." I thought this was hilarious.

Why do we look for more of what we have, instead of looking for that which we are limited, or are in need? I don't look for patience, although I need it. I tend to go after that which I already possess...like things to laugh about. I laugh fairly easy, and I enjoy it. Nothing wrong with this, but there are things I should pursue that might balance this out. Like being still, or quiet, or not getting in the last word.

Will I make the choice to attempt to be still, quiet or resisting the last word? I like to think I will, but hopefully as I do I will find reasons to laugh as well.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I arrived in Rapid City, SD late last night. Once I got to my hotel and settled in it was way past my bed time.

I did get up in enough time to get in my run. I got in about five miles. It was clear and cool, but not cold. A few hills, but not too bad. But I really don't like hills.

We had a very productive Wesleyan Native American Board meeting. Lots of material to cover. And we got through the key items. Afterward we made our trek to a small community called Hill City.

This town rests at the feet of the Black Hills. It is beautiful. In this tourist village resides a eatery known as The Alpine Inn. After hours of conversation and decision making it is the perfect place to eat. Each dinner includes a lettuce wedge with house dressing, baked potato, Texas toast and a steak. The only decision you have to make is 6oz or 9oz portion of meat. It is perfect! I also had some bread pudding. This is one of my two favorite post dinner entrees. It was covered in Carmel sauce. And YES! I will run tomorrow.

We then took a trip to view the "Big Heads." This is popularly referred to as Mount Rushmore, but I prefer "Big Heads." Why? Easier to say and I think it is funny. I my be in my thoughts of humor regarding this self-imposed moniker, but so what! Nothing wrong with a self-induced smile.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I arrived in High Point, NC this morning. I had the opportunity to make some great connections. Had lunch with the Gaspersons. A super couple who planted a church and now are pursuing some other ministry endeavors.

Spent time with Jerry Lunston. He is the Assistant DS for the NC West District. He has a great heart for strengthening churches and moving them toward multiplication.

I then was able to have dinner with the Leroys and Mullins. They are the DS and Assistant DS for NC East. Great time of conversation!

I picked up Jim Dunn at the airport tonight. It took me longer than anticipated to get there. I had rented a GPS. Unbelievably I got lost using it. I have better luck with mapquest hard copies strewn all over the passenger seat than I did with the GPS voice "talking" me through.

Jim and I are here to conduct our Intentional Missional Church seminar. This has been received well by leaders. It is a great opportunity to emphasize that evangelism and discipleship are two sides of the same coin. A mature disciple will evangelize and genuine evangelism always results in a person becoming a maturing disciple. This is Great Commission stuff. It is the stuff we need to be about doing.

Tomorrow when we wrap up I head for Rapid City. I get in there late tomorrow night. So I don't' anticipate blogging much prior to Tuesday.

Friday, May 16, 2008


I walked the grounds of the retreat center I was using for my personal day away. It was a beautiful spring day with clear skies, mid-sixties, plenty of sun. There is a path that has been nicely laid out. It meanders through a wooded area. It is canopied with tree branches displaying a variety of the color green. Sunlight eeks its way through exposed slots in the canopy. It is quiet. A gentle breeze made its way slowly along the path as well. Birds chatted. I could hear my footsteps fall as I navigated the terrain.

At sporadic times benches had been built for path walkers to rest, reflect, and relax. As is typically with the Catholic retreat centers I have frequented, the “stations of the cross” are displayed. These stations are comprised of thirteen images of the arrest, trial, rode to the cross, crucifixion and removal of the body from the cross. The resurrection is blatantly absent from these scenes. This has always caused me pause. I know the Catholic Church believes in, and highly regards the resurrection of Jesus, but in these placements they have chosen to not honor it. I need to ask why? Not in an indicting kind of way, but a genuine interest in the thinking behind it.

On my walk I simply basked in the quiet. I did not hear from God. I did not receive a revelation. Truth told, I thought mostly about nothing. This for me seems to be the norm. I have developed quite the ability to dwell on absolutely nothing. When I run I think on nothing. When I carve out quiet nooks I think on nothing. When I rest in solitude I think of nothing. This could be my mind needs the respite from busy contemplation, or I have not yet developed the ability to hear from God in the quiet moments.

In my spiritual heritage it is the quiet moments I have been told God best speaks. Not hearing from God regularly in the quiet I get a tingle of guilt. I wonder what might be wrong with me. This results in little insight.

But I will say there is a weird kind of rejuvenation that comes from these quiet moments. There is refreshment discovered. It is different from the sense of accomplishment I have when finishing a run. In the discipline of the quiet I feel no accomplishment, but I do get an inner “grin” that in a mischievous way I have stole something my busy life wants to deter me from.

It is this sense of mystery that keeps me returning. It is this ability to sneak in the “quiet” in the noise of life that motivates me to set the discipline to participate in these times. Even though my “task orientation” wants to douse the results of these times with a nagging sense it is a waste of precious time, I rearrange my thinking to accommodate the quiet anyway.

Monday, May 5, 2008


Saturday I ran my first ever mini-marathon. Here in Indianapolis this is the official beginning of the build up to the Indianapolis 500. A mini is actually a half-marathon. It is 13.1 miles! I still find it difficult to believe that I ran that far. It was barely over two years ago I found it life sucking to walk a mile.

But since that time I have lost sixty pounds, reduced my waist size from 42 inches to 34. I am running consistently 20-25 miles per week. Even with all of that I never felt I could run thirteen point one miles without stopping. The furthest I have ever run previously was 8 miles. Yet some friends encouraged me to enter. So reluctantly, I did.

I trained on a special program for twelve weeks. This was developed by a guy name Hal Higgdon. He is a running guy who helps those of us wanting to do this kind of thing figure it out. I followed his training religiously. I have found that when I am moving into areas I have never been before I tend to get very anal. What I mean is I march after the instructions given EXACLTY as they are laid out. I waver very little, if at all.

Building up to this time I set two goals: 1) Finish; 2) Finish under two hours. I DID IT!!!. My time was one hour fifty-eight minutes and forty-one seconds (1:58:41). On my watch this is under two hours.

A contributing factor to attaining this goal was my friend Chris. Chris is a marathoner. He could have easily run this mini in much less time than he did. The reason he did not was he had committed himself to helping me achieve my goal. He stayed with me. He let me know my progress. When we got to the last mile he said to me, “Phil, if we pick up the pace just a bit, we can get this in under two hours, but it is up to you.”

He knew what I needed to do to achieve my goal. I was out of gas, but having someone let me know the goal was achievable and what I needed to do to achieve it, I found the energy. I picked up the pace a bit and even sprinted (whatever that looks like after running almost two hours) the last quarter mile.

It felt great! There are few things in life more awesome that setting a goal; working toward that goal; and achieving the goal. What might it be for you?

Friday, May 2, 2008


I have never been much of an Oliver Stone fan. Most of his films are too long. They make Kevin Costner movies look like shorts. I also feel he is a bit caustic on the issues he addresses. He appears overly critical on the country. He looks for conspiracies in every nook and cranny. Basically he has struck me as a bit of a curmudgeon. You know Andy Rooney without the big bushy eyebrows.

But I made a recent discovery. Oliver served in Viet Nam. He was part of Bravo Company. He received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. This is a difference maker. He went to battle in a time many refused. He fought for the freedom he now exercises. Good for him!

I understand we all have the privilege to disagree, rail against our view of injustice and complain about whatever we pretty much choose. Yet when it comes from someone that has invested something as personal as the potential loss of life, the commentary they offer is much more significant.

I have no idea what Stone’s personal opinion of our military action in Viet Nam might have been. I don’t know if he was drafted, or joined of his own volition. What I do know is he went.

What his motivation might have been has no bearing on the fact he went. Whether he went by choice, obligation or resignation makes no difference, he went. And, from my perspective, his commentary on American society, regardless of my agreement, carries more authority. He has helped shape this world with his actions. He ought to share his version of its present reality.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Last week I was at the Exponential Conference. I heard a bunch of stuff from a myriad of speakers. But the thing that I liked the most. The comment that struck me as vividly profound was a simple statement made during introductory comments by each member of a panel.

There were four leaders who were currently leading reproducing churches. Three of them had planted their church and established multiplication as an aspect of their DNA. One, Derek Duncan, had only been at his church since 2004. The church he pastors is East 91st Christian Church in Indianapolis. This one church recently planted its fiftieth (50) church!

Here is what he said that I have mused on since it slipped from his lips. He said, "I came to a reproducing church."

Do you realize what a HUGE statement that is? It is pregnant with rich reality. When he came to the church its mission would not change. They reproduce! It was not the vision of the previous pastor. It was not something only a few connected with and it faded over time. It was not a seasonal venture. It did not have the character of a summer romance. The need to reproduce had been so deeply etched in the ethos of this community that a new pastor would not be called who might want to change it.

The pastor was called to add to the venture, but there would be no new vision, no retracing steps, no having to catch the heart of God for what is next. They were a reproducing lot and Derek was simply called to take that heart to a new level.

I loved it! I can speak from experience of times my personality and passion has driven the agenda for an organization. But once I was gone they reverted back to what they were before my arrival. Not E91st! They know what they are and call leaders to move them forward in their ministry.

I am more convinced that I will never be sure the movement of missional multiplication that I currently have a role in leading is genuinely a movement until I am gone. When that time comes and it continues on, then satisfaction can be taken in having been a part of something truly Kingdom worthy!

Monday, April 28, 2008


Missional is being sent. God modeled this for us in his sending nature. I John provides us a glimpse of the sending/missional nature of God.

  • "God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world..." (4:9)
  • "This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son..."(4:10)
  • "...we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son..." (4:14)

There it is in its simplicity. God sent his Son. He revealed his missionary spirit by engaging us. He beckoned us to himself, by coming to us himself. Love is best expressed by sending, going, intentionally connecting.

God sent his Son, his Son sends us. Believers are the sent expression of God today. The church is the missional agent of God in the world. The church is foremost a mission agency. We must recapture this spirit. Do less holding on, and more handing out.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


I did it! I ran twelve miles. It took me one hour and fifty minutes. I have never run that far, nor that long before. This may not sound as such a big deal to many, but it was just a little over two years ago I was unable to run around my block. And it is a small block. In fact, it is exactly six-tenths of a mile. To think I am now able to run the distance I am is somewhat hard to believe. Today's run has given me confidence I can complete the mini. Until today I was not sure. It reminds me that experience provides confidence.

I celebrated by having a apple fritter at Starbucks. Not the best fritter I have had, but not the worst either. I have to say it is very difficult to find an excellent apple fritter. They have to be crispy on the outside and a bit gooey on the inside with no lack of apple bits. The best I have ever had was from an unknown bakery in El Cajon, CA. It was purchased and provided for me when I was an interim preacher at El CAjon Wesleyan Church. I will be out that way in July for the Pacific-Southwest District conference. The conference is held at that church. I will have to contact the administrative assistant at EWC and request one for the first morning of the conference. Nothing to lose.

If anyone has a suggest as to a location in the greater Indy area that has an outstanding fritter...don't keep it a secret. Share so those of us in this area can give it a try.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz got it right when she realized there was no place like home. Today was my first full day home in nine days. I took it off. That's right! I am a slacker. Joni joined me in my "slackerhood." I didn't even set the alarm. I got up when I woke up. Took a quick run. We then journeyed to Paradise Bakery for a wonderful breakfast treat and drink. I had coffee, Joni had iced tea.

We meandered through the Kroger's. We have begun to stock up on grilling items. We are not quite to the time when we can grill and eat outside. It was beautiful today, but tomorrow it takes another one of those Midwest temperature dives. I still don't get it!

We went to a movie. Once again we found ourselves the ONLY people in the theater. Evidently we have discovered the very best time to attend movies, or we have the most unique taste in movies, or, unbeknownst to us, they are beginning to make movies just for us. Since there is no scientific way to determine this, I choose the third option.

And, I got to mow my lawn today. The first of the year. I mowed and edged. I love this! I get to actually finish a project. This is a luxury in my life. And there is no phone to bother me, or e-mail to answer. I just to get to be.

In one week I am running in a mini-marathon (13.2 miles). Tomorrow I am suppose to take my last distance run prior to this event. It is my goal to run ten plus miles. This I can't believe. So if I don't blog for awhile it is simply because I am too tired, laying beside the road exhausted, or just decided I didn't have much to say.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I just wanted to share some highlights and comments from today. Before I do, if you want to get lots of great stuff you can go to edstetzer.com and exponentialconference.com to get PPTs and downloads for ipods. If you are unable to be here, the next best thing might be to garner some of the information that is here.

My youngest son, Scott, turned 23 today. I find it somewhat unbelievable my youngest child is 23, until I realize I am 53 and I am my mom's youngest child. WOW!

One of the member's of today's worship team had a cell phone attached to their pocket. I thought this a bit odd. I mean if they were able to hear it ring, or feel it vibrate would they actually answer it? If not, why do they have it with them at all?

"When the Kingdom takes priority you ask what is the best way? Not what is the best way to make me, or my church, look good." Randy Pope

"Ultimately all churches are evaluated by the quality of their disciples." Neil Cole

"The fact that Jesus is the Christ is the glue that holds us all together." Andy Stanley

East 91st Street Christian Church is over eighty years old. They have just planted their 50th church. Their annual church planting budget is 1.5 million dollars. That is more money than the denomination I participate invests in church planting. Incredible!

Reproducing people will naturally flow into a reproducing church.

Ed Stetzer put up a list of resources he recommends for those wanting to be a reproducing church. One of those was my book, "The Ripple Church." It was thrilling seeing my book on a huge screen. 2700 leaders saw it! I have to say it was humbling stuff.

Andy Stanley stated, "Vision is a mental picture of what could be fueled by a passion that it should be." What vision do you have?

Monday, April 21, 2008


Sunday I left Halifax, NS. After stops in Ottawa and Detroit I made it to Indianapolis. I got to spend a whole nine hours home then I headed back to the airport. Today I am in Orlando for the New Church Conference also called Exponential. It is becoming the event for those involved in missional multiplication movements. It is my first time to attend.

Today I was in a session moderated by Ed Stetzer. Presenters were Ron Sylvia, Stephen Gray and Tom Clegg. Each brought a wonderful perspective to multiplication.

As at most conferences there is an array of displays. As I walked through the vendors, the providers of products and material I found myself taken aback at where this has come. It was not too many years ago that a conference emphasizing planting could have been held in a good sized closet. Now we are at a very large Baptist Church (Orlando First Baptist) with around 2500 in attendance.

I think this is a good thing? I definitely believe we need more people engaging in this area, but I just don't want to get so main stream that it becomes trendy.

We need to stay on the edge. Live on the scary side of our ministries. It will take adjusting, changing, risking, believing, innovating and getting over ourselves.

Often success breeds comfortableness. Comfortableness results in settling in. What begins as a movement can easily erode into maintenance. We have to intentionally keep on the edge. Every time we are tempted to hedge our courage, back pedal or back away from the challenge of real faith we must resist.

We must not become what we push back against: The ministry of the mundane. The ease of organization. The confines of structure. When we refuse to move from the center of our certainties we have begun to become the religion of the acceptable.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Today I had lunch with three wonderful leaders from the Atlantic District. Denn Guptiul, Kevin Wilson & AJ Thomas. We ate at a neat little place right on the water called Salty's. Most of us had fish of some kind. The majority being fish and chips (F&C). Very good! I made sure I had plenty of malt vinegar and some excellent tartar sauce to enhance my F&C. I have had my best F&C in Canada. If you know of a better country to try them let me know.

Denn leads the church planting charge for the district. He planted his church eleven years ago. He has a wonderful facility. They have become the community church. In a few minutes I will be heading out to their Saturday night service.

AJ is in the very beginning stages of planting Deep Water. It is in the heart of downtown Halifax. They currently meet in a theater. This church got a nice jumpstart from Hillside which resides across the bay in Dartmouth. Two different kinds of churches reaching different folks. The beauty of planting.

Kevin just took over a church that was planted, I believe, about seven years prior. He followed the planter, Dean Brown. Hearing his heart and passion for the people of the church and the community he will do an outstanding job of taking this church to a new level. They currently meet in a high school.

If God brings it to mind pray for Kevin, AJ and Denn. They are harvesting fruit in the ministry field of Nova Scotia.

Friday, April 18, 2008


I traveled from Ottawa to Halifax. Left 24c (78d) weather for 13c (56d) weather. A bit rainy, but Denn, the E&CG Director for the Atlantic district promised sunshine on Saturday.

I am here to meet with Denn and some planters. Denn and I will review the district planting strategies. We will be having lunch on the water with the planters.

I gained an hour here. My eleven pm has quickly become midnight. I am looking forward to a relaxing Saturday morning. I will take a run, do some work then meet Denn and his wife for lunch with the others.

Being out here in the field where the rubber meets the road is an enjoyable part of my job. Denn came here over ten years ago with just his family. He dug the church, Cornerstone, he leads out of nothing. They now average over 2oo, but it was not without challenge, frustration, a wondering if he could hang on. But hang on he did. Now there is a vibrant missional outpost here. He even daughtered another church about fifteen minutes away. Great stuff!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I traveled to Ottawa, Canada today. I am here to do a presentation on m3 (Missional Multiplication Movement) to the Central Canada District of The Wesleyan Church. They are determined to make multiplication as a central component of their district. They want to begin the process of re-engineering their DNA. May their attitude begin to infect other districts.

I enjoy my trips to Canada. It is a beautiful country with great people. I get to feel a bit cross cultural without learning a new language. Okay, Canadians do have a bit of a twist on some of their pronunciations, but I mostly understand them. They also have Tim Horton's. I love Tim Horton's. Tim's is a coffee place. I love coffee! And when I am here I drink a lot of Tim's!

Canadian drivers also give "real" right-a-way to pedestrians. By real I mean they actually stop for those folks on two feet who step into the street. In the States pedestrians are suppose to have the right-a-way, but those of us who have walked in streets south of Canada know this is simply a concept.

On this trip I did discover even my Canadian friends have a limits to pedestrians. I went on a jog. It seems deferring to those stepping into streets only applies to those meandering. Which is pretty much the speed I jog, so I am not sure why I was not mistaken for a walker.

It also doesn't apply to those walking across parking lots. I was making my way across a large parking lot heading toward, that's right, Tim's! An older man was turning his car. Now he had the entire expanse of the parking lot to make his turn, but evidently I was in his favorite turning place. He headed right toward me. Fortunately he missed.

Crossing streets and drinking Tim's. This a little piece of out of country heaven.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Today was my first full day home in seven days. I took the day off and got to hang out with my wife. We just did everyday stuff. We picked up some groceries. Walked around a mall. We ate lunch at KFC. We wanted to try their new grilleded chicken. I recommend it. I don't know if it is any healthier than their fried (which I love), but we felt we were eating more healthy. And isn't feelings what it is all about anyway?

We have a new theater that has opened up in our area, so we decided to attend an early afternoon showing. We were the ONLY ones in the theater. I am not kidding! We have been in some sparsely attended movies, but we have never been by ourselves. It was like having a huge screen in our home. We didn't even have to whisped when we talked during the movie. It was very enjoyable. So if you are weary of crowds I recommend you go to a movie in a new theater on a Monday afternoon that is not summer.

Bottom line: We had a wonderful time. Simple moments with someone you care about is always the best.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


The North Carolina East District of The Wesleyan Churchy puts out a monthly newsletter. The most recent one had a statement attributed to George Webber. It is from his book "God's Colony in Man's World." Here is the statement: While we may gather inside the walls for inspiration, instruction and encouragement, the work is outside the walls.

This is a reality of the church today. We need to recognize that the work IS outside the walls! We must not cloister ourselves. We must not limit our service to God to meeting together, worship and interaction with fellow believers.

We must be willing to look outside our walls. It is here we will find the opportunities God has for us. Missional engagement demands the walls of our churches be scaled.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


It has been quite awhile since I etched on the electronic glass. Partly due to schedule and mostly due to feeling I haven't had much to say. Then again this assumes when I do blog I have something to say, but that is left to whomever chooses to check in.

Currently I am on the road with my colleague, Jim. We are presenting a one day seminar entitled "The Intentional Missional Church." The focus is on personal maturity, leadership, discipleship and getting the church to look beyond itself. This is not easy. Most of us prefer to look inward. The outward glance is time intensive and usually will put us in a bit of discomfort. Most don't gravitiate toward such a position.

Ease of existence is most desired. I recently saw an ad in USA Today that said: "No dieting + No exercise = effortless weight loss." This was followed by: Is it magic or is it science? I'll tell you what it is, it is wrong. But this is what we want, results with no effort.

This is the world of make believe. Weight loss does not happen effortlessly and churches do not turn around without effort. The sooner we understand this and begin to invest the time, energy and effort we will see more churches make the tough choices that will move them toward effectiveness.