The fact that I am alone in my office, laughing so hard that I'm crying, says a lot about how sick my sense of humor is. You'll either enjoy this or be disturbed by it. This might be a good way for me to judge who can be my friend.



One of my favorite things to do is find prayer labyrinths and walk them while I pray. If you're not familiar with the concept of the prayer labyrinth, a labyrinth is a walking path that was used commonly in churches during the medieval period to develop the spiritual discipline of prayer. Below is the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco where Jamie and I used to go and pray with some friends.

A labyrinth is not a maze. There are no wrong choices, just one single winding path to the center and you exit the same way you came in. The suggested way to pray through a labyrinth is as follows: a) As you slowly walk into the labyrinth begin praying and dealing with any sin in your life that might hinder you from hearing God clearly. b) When you get to the center, sit or kneel and silently listen to God speak to your spirit. c) As you exit the labyrinth, thank God for his word to you in your prayer time and ask him to prepare you for re-entry into the world. It may sound hokey, but I've found it to be an extremely effective tool in focusing my prayer time. Depending on the size of the labyrinth and the speed in which you walk it, it can help you to pray for anywhere between 20 minutes to an hour +. It normally took me an hour to pray through the labyrinth at Grace pictured above. This is one of the reasons I believe it is so effective. It will normally take you 15 minutes or so just to clear all the clutter from your head and truly get into your conversation with God. I need to pray for long periods of time more often than I do.

The reason I'm posting on this is that I got to walk a labyrinth tonight. The church where Mollie has her Girl Scout meeting has one behind the building. You can't really see it from the street. We discovered it by accident several months ago. It's a smaller labyrinth and I had to wait on Mollie for about 20 minutes, so I spent some time in prayer. Even though it was a short walk, I was amazed at how focused my prayer was. I don't add that extra step of listening to God nearly often enough when I'm just praying on my own.

There is a great website that is a worldwide labyrinth locator. If there's a labyrinth near you, this is a great way to find it. It even lists the two labyrinths that are here in little ol' Lebanon, MO (the one I prayed at tonight and another in somebody's backyard). Check it out here: http://wwll.veriditas.labyrinthsociety.org/.


Facing the Giants

I showed the movie Facing the Giants to my teens tonight. I wasn't expecting to like it very much. I'm pretty critical of movies and wasn't convinced that a local church could put out anything that I would ultimately enjoy very much.


This is truly a great movie. No, the acting won't win any Oscars, but it wasn't horrible. The movie was shot beautifully. The story was moving and inspiring. But the biggest thing was this...everyone of my teens actually sat through the entire thing and didn't budge. They were totally into it! I've had many youth group movie nights in the past and with multiple groups. I don't believe I've ever had one that actually kept the kids' attention. Usually half the group gets up and does something else or they're chatting with each other and distracting everyone else. Anyway, if you're a youth pastor...show this film. Your kids will love it. And it has an incredible message.


Working the Angles

Well, I finally finished a book I started last fall by Eugene Peterson called Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity. I have an annoying habit of starting a book and then starting 5 more and taking forever to finish any of them. Anyway, this is an incredible book! I've read a ton of books on church life, theology, devotion, and anything else to do with Christianity that most pastors read. But I believe this is probably one of the first books I've ever read that told me what should be my priorities as a pastor. Or what I should be devoting my life to as a pastor. It's nothing earth-shattering, but it IS at the same time, because so few writers write about it and so few teachers teach about it.

Peterson calls all pastors back to what pastors have done for centuries before, but have forgotten or lost interest in in this modern era of mega-churches and trendy religion. Three things: prayer, scripture reading, and spiritual direction. He reminds us that pastors are to be, first and foremost, men who are personally committed to the practice of prayer and scripture reading (because we can't lead people where we're not going ourselves). And secondly, we need to be spiritual guides to the people that God has placed in our path. These things may or may not result in a mega-church (God will choose to give the increase or not), but everything else we do should be secondary to those three.

Unfortunately, what happens for me and pretty much everyone else is that we spend all of our time marketing our church and it's programs. Creating programs and facilitating events to keep people happy or excited or feeling like their church is as great as the one down the street. I'm not suggesting that some of these things don't have their place, but most of us spend so much time on these that we can only hope to have a few minutes in the week to accomplish what should be our biggest priority: prayer, Scripture reading, and spiritual direction.

I especially enjoyed, and was convicted by, the chapter in the Prayer unit that he dedicated to the subject of taking a Sabbath. Most pastors I know don't even take a day off, much less a true Sabbath. He wrote that we need to train our people to the idea that we need a day of the week to observe Sabbath, so that we can continue to help them observe their Sabbath day. I take Mondays off (sometimes), but I don't necessarily spend that time listening to the Father or really rejunenating my spirit. I need to make this a non-negotiable part of my life.

Anyway - great book. Every pastor should read this!!!


True Church

This video is a spotlight of a church in Minneapolis called Solomon's Porch. When I watch this I am almost broken-hearted that I am not a part of a church like this. My heart is constantly crying out for this sort of thing. I want to be a part of a community of believers (and even non-believers) where people are free to be totally themselves, where they are not afraid to wrestle openly with their faith, and people are not accepted in spite of their differences but because of their differences. I'm not saying I agree with everyone at this church, but to me that's part of it's beauty. Rather than kicking people to the curb or devaluing them because their faith is immature or off-kilter, this church gives them a voice and helps them work out their faith. God, please some day deliver me to lead this kind of movement!

It's Official: Britney Wants To Be Like Me!

Really...we could be twins.


Python Trek

Enjoy this mash-up of two of my favorite things: Original Trek and Monty Python!

Resistance to Change

See, we aren't the only ones in history to ever deal with people who aren't comfortable with change.


Tough Week (But Good)

This is been one of the toughest weeks for me personally that I've had in a long time. Nothing major, but I've had to listen to a few caring brothers give me some tough words. The sort of advice/butt-chewing that you need occasionally in life to get you back on course. I'm grateful for friends who come to me in genuine love and concern and make the uncomfortable step of telling a friend words he needs to hear, even if he didn't want to hear them.

Unfortunately, most of the people in my life (or your life) would never do this for you. It's much easier to talk about a person behind their back than to confront them about things face to face. I don't think I'll ever get over how many cowardly, back-stabbing "men of God" there are in the world.

Anyway, thanks to the few, brave souls who will do the hard thing to keep one of God's children from self-destructing.


Isaiah the Chin

Isaiah had a couple of teeth pulled the other day and has now had some infection set in his jaw. He's in a lot of pain, but he looks kinda cool.


I Love This Stuff!

I came home with a load of this Panamanian coffe I discovered on my trip called Cafe Duran. It's flippin' awesome! A daily ritual for me now. I never used to like coffee, but I discovered I just didn't like lousy coffee. I even bought a little espresso maker to brew it in. I'm officially a coffee snob.


Gimme a Freakin' Break!

Check out this CNN article. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/football/nfl/specials/playoffs/2006/02/01/bc.fbn.superbowl.church.ap/index.html?cnn=yes
Apparently, the NFL is hard up for cash, because they are banning churches from having big-screen Super Bowl parties. It's unbelievable how greedy these guys can be!