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 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.