Monday, November 2, 2015

It's the End of the Blog As We Know It...

November is upon us, and the next couple of months promise to be full of challenges and adventures. My work as chauffeur, personal assistant, official hand-holder and nurse to my dear friend Lisa Jewett will continue. After her surgery on the 10th she will be living with us for several weeks during her recovery period. On the 17th of the month Marilyn, Will and I will be seeing the original Beach Boy Brian Wilson live in concert in St. Pete. There's a phone upgrade in my future. Thanksgiving will be here before we know it. In December we will have Will at home on break for several weeks. There is the excitement of the Christmas season. And on the 18th Will, Marilyn, Michelle (and her brother Alex) and I will celebrate Lisa's birthday by seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens - in 3D. Tickets have been purchased. Life is going to be interesting. But will it be blog-worthy?

Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us that, "There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth..." The seasons of life keep turning. Since August 26, 2009 it has been the right time, as well as a pleasure and a blessing to write this blog. It has given me focus, a chance to dedicate myself to something worthwhile, and an opportunity to reconnect with many old friends. It has also helped bring new people into my life who have taught me much about grace and friendship. But now, after 1900+ posts, it feels like the right time to stop. It is simply a matter of inspiration- or a lack thereof. Lately there have been more and more recycled posts and deeper struggles with creating new material that are not too intensely personal. Everyday my heart and my mind turn to the same subjects and the same issues, and it feels like I am wearing them out. So today is the day. It's the end of this blog as we know it- and I feel fine.

From the beginning, this blog has been about the things Jesus has done and is still doing in my life. It's been about the people who mean the most to me and the events that have shaped me. I've shared my biggest failures, my joys and my sorrows, my pain and my happiness. I wrote a novel and shared it with you. I have shared stories of faith and doubt. Through this venue my life has been an open book. But now it is time for a new chapter. To paraphrase Olivia Newton-John, I love you guys- but right now we all know I've got somewhere else to go. Going forward, it is my hope that God will inspire me to reach out and to tell my stories in new ways. For the foreseeable future there will only be posts here if there is important news to share or respond to. You can still find me on Twitter, by e-mail ( or by phone (813-919-3755). But until further notice this blog will still be here, but will remain dormant.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have supported me with comments, words of encouragement and simply by taking the time to read my words. It's been a great run. Please understand that this is not a bad thing- there is nothing wrong with me, nothing that is dragging me down. I just need some time and space for my head and my heart, and I have important work to do in the days ahead. I covet your prayers, and look forward to our future adventures together. Please stay in touch, and if it's not asking too much, "keep me in your heart for a while..."

Because of Jesus,

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The "Dangerous Wonder" of Mike Yaconelli

Mike Yaconelli was killed in a car wreck on October 30, 2003. I've never met anyone who was quite like Yac. Co-founder of Youth Specialties and creator of the Ideas Books, he is considered by many to be the father of modern youth ministry- a title which he would have hated. He was much happier with his own description of himself as a man who had been kicked out of Bible College and was for the last few years of his life the pastor of the "slowest growing church in the country." I first met Yac at the YS National Youth Workers Convention in 1982, and I was immediately overwhelmed by his passion and his personality. His early morning bible studies at those events were legendary, and I seldom missed one. Over the years I fortunate enough to attend numerous seminars which he led, and we sat and talked on several occasions. His heart for Jesus was enormous; his love for youth workers knew no boundaries. Seldom does a day go by that I don't think of Yac.

I remember his stories about youth ministry and the ever-present Jones Memorial Carpet. I think about the time I was standing at the front desk of a fancy hotel that was hosting the NYWC, only to feel a finger-blaster go whizzing by my head and hit the clerk. I turned to see Yac laughing hysterically- having fired the shot! His story about serving communion using orange juice and stale hot dog buns inspired me to use OJ & Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I remember spending 2 days with him as part of a small group in a spiritual renewal seminar just soaking in prayer and scripture, being reminded how important it is to be still. No one who ever encountered Yac will ever forget him. Just before his death I made arrangements to have him deliver the Sunday message at the Tampa church I served at the time the following February. I couldn't wait to see the wild, messy and totally unpredictable Yac blow the roof off the place. That day was never to be...

Today, I want you all to understand that Mike Yaconelli was all about a dangerous faith.  He challenged everyone he encountered to step outside of their comfort zone and follow the radical teachings of the Christ. This passion often made him a critic of the institutional church and of corporate student ministry. The 3 quotes below are from his book Dangerous Wonder. They tell you a lot about Yac. They tell you even more about what is should mean to follow Jesus. Read them. Re-read them. My hope is that you will be overwhelmed by his words just as I have been- over and over again.  If they make you uncomfortable...GOOD!  Then I know I have used them well.  I have said before that I have known 2 men in my life that I know really "got" Jesus.  Rich Mullins was one.  Yac was the other.  I was blessed to have known him. Enjoy his words.

If Christianity is simply about being nice I'm not interested... I'm ready for a Christianity that "ruins" my life, that captures my heart and makes me uncomfortable. I want to be filled with an astonishment which is so captivating that I am considered wild and unpredictable and.. well... dangerous. Yes, I want to be "dangerous" to a dull and boring religion.  

How did we end up so comfortable with God? How did our awe of God get reduced to a lukewarm appreciation of God? How did God become a pal instead of a heart-stopping presence? How can we think of Jesus without remembering His ground-shaking, thunder-crashing, stormy exit on the cross? Why aren’t we continually catching our breath and saying, “This is no ordinary God!”?

It is time to find the place where the dangerous wonder of faith can be discovered—a place landscaped by risky curiosity, wild abandon, daring playfulness, quiet listening, irresponsible passion, happy terror, and naive grace. In a day when most of us are tired, worn-out, thirsty, and starving for life and joy and peace, maybe it is time to become a child again. Maybe it is time to quit college and take a year off to go to the mission field, or give up a secure job and go back to school, or leave the corporation because the work is killing our souls, or give up the possessions that are possessing us. Maybe it is time to live this dangerous wonder of faith, take our shoes off, roll up our sleeves, and have such a romp as no one has ever seen. Maybe it's time to play in the snow once again.

Because of Jesus,