Saturday, June 30, 2007


One thing that I enjoy doing is smoking meat. In the Midwest, they call it Barbecue. In Texas anything that goes on a grill is called a Barbecue. But, let's just move back to the smoke, the coal, and the challenge to bring a smokey flavor to meat. I just love the process.

It takes a great deal of time, and the risk is that the adventure fails and the meat winds up tough as leather.

Today, I got a brisket on the smoker and it has been on the smoker for about five hours.

It is a slow go, and I think I need to leave this world to go back to the world of smoke.

Fearless Joy,

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Resolution Rant

One of my frustrations with our tribe's biennial gathering is the business sessions. My first GA was in Tulsa, 1991. It was a blood bath of a GA over the issue of leadership and homosexuality. Both sides were foolish.

Over the years, I have voted against many resolutions, because I vote against the resolutions unless I am personally willing to live out the resolution. So, even if I think the resolution is good, unless I am willing to live my faith into it... I feel hypocritical or irrelevant. Both are not what I want to be. Maybe this is just my West Texas perspecitve, of the individual of critical importance.

What gripes me most about the business sessions is this. We have these debates where a person gets a couple of minutes to put together a opinion. So, the debates are nothing more than sound bites. That is what sucks about public discourse. We become nothing more than Ann Coulter's and Bill Maher's very shallow and very strident.

This Campbell-Stone movement cut its teeth on debate. It grew through dialogue. It champions itself as a reasonable faith. We lift up the head above the heart, most times. Our practice as a body to make decisions is the worse of public discourse, the sound bite. Not a reasoned argument, a well-formed opinion, and one cannot come with an open mind and be persuaded. There is not enough time.

I think that is what ails these gatherings. Liberals and Conservatives can't have a dialogue, can't learn to appreciate the gifts that each has to share when we are reduced to every two years of sound bites. We squabble over issues that really are not essentials. Homosexuality is not an essential. It is a non-essential issue. I think Jesus takes people as they are not as they should be.

So, I really wish we were resolved not do this anymore...we won't be. I told a friend that I could be found at the Flying Saucer, a FW pub, during the business meetings. Maybe over a Shiner, I can have a conversation with a person who has a different opinion and through that dialogue my mind and heart might change. So, if you are in FW, I will be at the Flying Saucer in the afternoon and Starbucks in the morning. A seat will be open for you.

Fearless Joy,

Monday, June 25, 2007

To give a moment of grace

For some reason beyond my own fathoming, I get up at 5:00 AM to go workout at White Rock Lake. We are doing a workout with an acronym that I cannot remember. It involveds push ups, squats, lunges, etc. Things that are best done in the early morning hours when few people are around. It is a tough workout and I usually feel it for a couple of days.

Today, on my last 800 meter run, a woman was walking. It was the familiar walk of one who has been beaten by the workout and is just trying to finish. I know it well. I passed her as I was doing my cool down again. I thought, "Guido, you have been there, give her a little encouragement." As I finished up, I walked back down to meet her.

"Are you OK?" I asked.

"Yeah, tough workout for a Monday."

"I know. Remember, your worth as human is not defined by one workout, one race, or one hobby you pursue."

She chuckled, "Yeah. What's your name."

"I am Guido."

"Oh, I heard about you."

I am not sure if that was helpful or not. However, it was a moment when I had a chance to make a difference and perhaps it did. I am not a superhero for doing such a thing, because there were selfish motives in my sharing that knowledge. It helped me. It made such an impact that I blog about it see how self centered I am.

But to live out my mission, I had to do it. This is what it will take for me to be effective as a church planter, more interactions of this kind. It only took me five years to develop enough relationships to get credibility to share such words. Oiy!!!

Fearless Joy,

Friday, June 22, 2007

Marathoning for a cause

This January, Rev. Keith Stewart from Spring Creek Community Church began a sermon series on Africa focusing upon the AIDS and debt crisis. He focused his energy on a Kenyan Village in Katito. Keith was asked by World Vision, who sponsored his trip to Africa, to run the Chicago marathon in efforts to raise funds for Katito.

As a marathoner, I just sat stunned. I had planned on running the Chicago marathon this year and had secretly thought in my head that Keith could benefit from the experience of running a marathon. Never told anybody about that secret, not even Amy. Just had that one inside.

When Keith said that...I just sat in stunned silence throughout the service. I took up the pledge to join some Spring Creek Church folks to run this marathon and raise money for Katito.

I am asking you to make a donation to World Vision. Here is what you need to know.

Amy and I are financing my trip, so all money raised goes directly to World Vision. 100% goes to World Vision.

My goal is to raise 500.00 from folks like you and Amy and I will match the donations to $500.00.

All the money is going to Katito.

For more inspiration check out these sermons by Keith. "On a mission from God," the January series.

Thanks for your support,

Levi in Mark

I just caught this in Mark, thanks to the Recovery Bible.
Mark 2:15 "That night Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to be his dinner guests, along with his fellow tax collctors and many other notroious sinners."

Levi invited his friends meet Jesus. A new convert to the faith, to the following, invited folks to meet Jesus. What did Jesus and 'the boys' do? They met them and had dinner and witnessed grace.

Mission-to be in the mission field will send the faithful to places that are a little uncomfortable. I recall being in some people's homes that were a little wild. That is part of the business of faith and following Jesus.

Fearless Joy,

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Getting to Bonhoffer

There are books in my shelf that are what I call my 'should' books. That is an awful title for a book. I dread when somebody gives me a book and says, "You should read this" or "You must read this."

I have a couple of books like that, "Crime and Punishment" by Dostevsky, anything by Kierkegaard, Douglas John Hall's systematic theology, and Bonhoffer's "Cost of Discipleship."

I feel that my life is a little less than complete for not reading these books. Today, after having Cost of Discipleship on my shelf for almost 20 years, I picked it up again. Today, 'cheap grace' made sense. I got it.

"the only man who has a right to say that he is justified by grace alone is the man who has left all to follow Christ." (pg 55)

As I begin to sense the enormity of the task ahead in Visalia and how difficult that will be. Those lines began to make sense. I think my life in the faith to follow Jesus has been fairly easy. Church camp was paid for. A few classes to get baptized. TCU and Seminary were paid by gracious folks. However, this last year of walking away from ministry to rebuild and redefine myself and coming through to a calling has been a step of faith. I am not sure how enormous, but it has been a more serious adventure than began in years preceding this one.

Now, I am beginning life anew.

Grace is a gift and we must respond to that gift. Grace for grace to be transforming, we must live as we are forgiven and in deep need of grace.

In recovery, I am freed from my habits and addiction by my willing ness to do anything to stay sober. That means praying, reading the big bood of AA daily, making phone calls and being rigorously honest.

As a Christian, I must reorient my life through loving God fully and serving others wholly. (The great commandment.) I must also be willing to go and help others in this world who are in need of grace. (The great commission.) That is a difficult prospect, but it is the way of Jesus.

Thanks DB for being patient and knowing that I would pick up the leaves that you left behind.

Fearless Joy,

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


I like this image, because it is a good reminder of faith. I begin this ministry with faith. I am not saying that I am vast resevoir of faith. I sometimes have moments when I have deep fear. Financial fear. Fear of my own limitations. Fear that I will not adapt and be able to reach the people that God needs to be reached. All those at times, cause me to pause.
But, faith overcomes those fears. I move with fear and trembling up the wall. I trust that I have put on my harness right. I trust that I have connected the rope to me well properly. I trust the one who holds the other side of the rope will be capable of holding me as I move up the wall.
Faith. As I think about the core value of this new community. It is faith. It is faith for me to come. But, the first step of faith was their's. They were the one's who had the faith to start. They were the one's who have faith to see gifts in me that will be useful. They are one's of tremendous faith.
So, I am in the harness. I call out "Belay On"...I hear the call out, "On Belay."
I am stepping to the wall and searching for my first hand hold and foothold.
"On Climb" and the voice that calls us has yelled, "Climb On"
I am going to step off the ground this weekend and put my faith in the rope and the belayer who holds me.
Fearless Joy,

(Photo by David Eppstein)