Category Archives: Family
Stories, pictures, and updates on our family.
Our family got a treat this weekend. On Friday morning Michelle got a call from a North Dakota area code. She picked up and it was my cousin, Tanner, calling to let us know he was in town with his basketball team to play a couple games over the weekend. We had plans Friday night, but we got to go spend some time with him at his hotel on Saturday and then go watch him play against Metro State that afternoon.
We really had a great time. It amazes me how deep the bonds of family can be. We haven’t seen Tanner in over four years, but we didn’t have to think about making the time to be with him when the opportunity came up. It wasn’t awkward being with him, it was a lot of fun. He may even come back to visit sometime next year with his girlfriend (we hope he does!).
My favorite moment of the day was on the way to dinner after leaving the basketball game. Isaiah asked if Tanner was coming with us to dinner and we told him he had to leave with his team. Isaiah said, “if Tanner came over to our house then daddy would get to see his cousin and I would get to see that guy I like a lot.” Leave it to a four-year old to willingly make a new friend in about an hour of real interaction.
When I was in seminary I was usually a little on the “liberal” side in my views on theology and social issues. Back then it was things like believing women should be afforded the same opportunities in ministry as men, thinking we had some choice in our salvation, and that justice was as much a part of God’s plan as the salvation of individuals. I never fell outside what would be considered by most to be Evangelicalism, but I was a bit of a deviant compared to the mainstream.
Fast-forward four or five years and I find myself in a completely different situation. I am a pastor in what is commonly referred to as a “mainline” denomination. These are denominations that have been largely written off by Evangelicals (and mainline denominations have returned the favor) due to their liberal stances on theology and practice. I now find myself in the position of being one of the conservatives in the denominational milieu. My life has flipped in a matter of a few years. It’s odd to find yourself in the position of being written off by the stream of faith you used to swim in (not that people do this personally, but that most of those from my past wouldn’t give much credence to a mainline pastor).
There are a couple lessons I’ve learned along the way that are proving very helpful in my current situation.
- Getting in arguments doesn’t get you anywhere. In my current position I see the immense value in holding deep conviction while engaging others in a grace-filled and dialogical manner. My goal is to love all people, no matter what our disagreements, in the hope that this builds the foundation of meaningful engagement.
- You have to be sure of who you’re serving. Paul’s words in Galatians 1:10 are a compass for me, “Am I now trying to win the approval of people, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people I would not be a servant of Christ.” My call is to serve and follow Christ. At the point my concern about how others from any perspective might view me supersedes this call I have rejected my calling.
- Stereotypes suck. I know they can be helpful in generalizing at times, but a significant part of the people in mainline churches don’t fit Evangelical stereotypes and a significant number of people in Evangelical churches don’t fit mainline stereotypes. If we’d get to know each other instead of labeling each other it would be great.
Let no one ever say that giving your life to Christ is boring. Holy crap I feel like my life has been an insane roller coaster over the past 8 years–and I love roller coasters. Here’s to the fun of God’s life flipping!
Today was Isaiah’s first day of preschool. I called him right after he got home to ask him about his day. I asked what he did and he responded, “I don’t really remember anything.” With a little prodding he finally remembered he had played outside but that was all I could coax out. This milestone for him made he stop and reflect on his life to this point. I am so thankful for the priviledge of being his dad. I love watching him mature, learn, succeed, and fail. He is only four, but already I see the seeds of the man he is becoming and continue to pray that God will grow his courage, love, compassion, and honesty. Congratulations Isaiah on your first day of (pre)school and I look forward to the journey through school we’ll get to experience with you.
The post just below this one covers the story of how we have come to the point we are moving back to Denver. Here are some details about us, the church, and Infuse.
My last day at Starbucks is this coming Thursday, August 20. That afternoon we’ll head back to Indiana to spend a week with our family. Michelle and the kids are flying to Colorado on Wednesday, August 26th and my brother is flying here to drive to Colorado with me. We will load up the truck on the 27th (anyone in Illinois please come help us out at 9:30!) and unpack in Colorado on the 29th. (If any of you Coloradans want to help unload we’d love to have you–around 9 or 10 on the 29th!)
Our new address will be 2165 S. Cherokee St. Denver, CO 80223
Our New Church
September 1st I will begin as Senior Pastor of Mountair Christian Church in Lakewood. It is right on the border of Lakewood and Denver at Sheridan and 14th. It is a beautiful family of believers. They are incredibly loving and have a passion to live out the kingdom of God with each other and in the community. The church is a part of the Disciples of Christ denomination.
We have earnestly sought God’s leading in regard to Infuse. Through that we have decided to morph it from a church planting organization into a not-for-profit ministry that helps people live out their faith in active discipleship. We want to enable lives of unity, mission, and generosity, rooted in Christ. Obviously my full-time job will now be pastoring Mountair. I will still be working on writing in regard to the values that have been birthed out of Infuse, creating resources we can use at Mountair that can be used other places as well, and Michelle and I will continue living missional lives (something all Christians should be doing no matter what their job!).
One piece of Infuse I’m very excited about is our vision to enable the creative pursuit of unity, mission, and generosity, rooted in Christ through grants to disciples who share this vision. For example, Cory will continue his work at Eastwood and as opportunities arise Infuse will be able to financially support what he’s doing there. We hope over time this will spur people on to action who might otherwise be frustrated by financial barriers to pursuing the things God calls them to.
We have come to be very excited about all the changes, even though they’re not all easy! In the coming weeks please keep our family, Mountair, and the people who have been a part of Infuse in Aurora in your prayers. And of course feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.
My next post will cover the specifics of what we’ll be doing in Colorado and when we’re moving, but this post is devoted to telling the story of how this all came about in the first place.
In April, Michelle and I were able to go to a church planting conference in Orlando called Exponential. We were very excited to have some time for just the two of us (a couple days before the conference) and that Cory was able to come down for the conference too. One of the first breakout sessions Cory and Michelle chose to go to a different session than I did (or I guess I chose a different one than they did–that sounded very “the world revolves around me”!). I went to a session led by Alan Hirsch. He was focusing on liminal experiences and their benefit for the church.
Briefly, a liminal experience is when you leave a known and secure place/setting/state of life for one that is uncomfortable and stretching before being returned to the original one–as a vastly changed person often with a changed status. The clearest example of this is with some of the world’s indigenous tribes when boys are raised by the women of the camp, then when they reach a certain age they are taken away and put through rites of passage, after which they return to the tribe as men.
As Alan was talking about this and diagramming it on his famous whiteboard, I had an experience like I’ve only had three or four times in my life. I was overcome by the presence of the Holy Spirit to the point I felt physically impacted by it, and in that time he showed me that coming to Aurora was a liminal experience for us and that we were supposed to go back. You should see the page in my journal when this happened, it’s a mess. The first thing I wrote was, “I think the Holy Spirit just told me we’re supposed to go back to Denver.”
Despite the power of this experience, I immediately started talking myself out of it. “No, there are some good things happening in Aurora, God wouldn’t want us to leave now.” “What would we even do? This is crazy. This can’t be right.” “We don’t even have anything we could do there. God, you can’t be serious.” I kept this up for the rest of the day. I resolved to pray about it–hard–and not say anything to Michelle at least until the next day. I didn’t want to lay something like this on her without being absolutely sure it was God.
By the next morning I knew there was no way around it. God had told me what we should do and I had to tell Michelle. We sat outside at a Starbucks in Orlando as I told her how I thought God wanted to rock our world–again. We both cried. But it was a holy cry–a mixture of joy, sadness, wonder, and the realization that the Holy Spirit was telling us what to do. That morning launched us into a season of fervent prayer as we started asking God what he was doing together.
It was interesting that as we prayed about it we both found we hoped he wouldn’t make us do it. If a year after moving to Aurora you had asked if we wanted to go back to Denver we would have said yes for sure. Now, two years after leaving we found that though we loved Denver, we loved the people and place God brought us to and it was really hard to think about leaving. For more than two weeks we asked God to let us out of it. Multiple times we had ourselves convinced that we should stay in Aurora–until we prayed about it–and then we were unified in the conviction that God’s calling wasn’t changing.
Three weeks after the initial encounter with the Holy Spirit we decided the only thing we could do was start being obedient and pursue what might be there for us in Denver. In that process we discovered that the shape of our liminal experience was not only leaving Denver and going back, but leaving the institutional church and going back as well. I fought that one hard initially. I knew God couldn’t want that for us. But my resistance to his call faded on that count over time as well. There were a few opportunities that came up, and over time God led us to one. I won’t go into the details here, but the way we ended up heading for Mountair Christian Church were miraculous in many ways. There is no doubt God has overseen this process.
So we are heading back to Denver–something we thought we’d never do. Something that didn’t even cross our minds four months ago. We are only doing it because Michelle and I stand together in the deeply-rooted conviction that God has asked us to. We’ve always said we’d follow him no matter what he asked of us, and this is the next step in our lives in that pursuit.
My next post will hit some of the highlights of the move, the church we’re going to, and what happens to Infuse.