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The Winter Gathering

Several years ago (2004) I convinced the family to take a long road trip out to Illinois for a summer music festival called Cornerstone. We were much more accustomed to attending “that other festival” up in Pennsylvania, but Cornerstone had Glenn Kaiser – one of the founders of Rez Band, and currently playing the blues! (Really – that’s what I wanted to see).

Cornerstone turned out to be a very cool festival and very (VERY) different from “that other festival”. There was much more diversity in music, heck – there was just MUCH more music. There was also several days of seminars that one could attend. Being the stalker that I was being, I discovered that Glenn Kaiser was going to be leading a discussion on church leadership and associated issues that church leaders experience I thought, “that’s cool – I’m a youth leader at my church…I’m in!”

Toward the end of the seminar, someone passed around a sign-up sheet for a moderated chat group that one could join to more or less continue the discussions, ask questions, vent, seek advice and support, and whatever. I signed up and joined a group called “Theophilus’ Journey” and have been involved ever since.

The member of this chat group – much like many in the blogging community – have become an extended family of sorts, and are very close brothers and sisters in the Lord. There is much diversity in terms of age, experiences, mission, and the like – but we (most of the time) get beyond all that and enjoy the fellowship of believers. So much in fact, that long ago it was decided that once a year at Cornerstone just didn’t cut it – so the Winter Gathering was born.

This weekend Leah and I will travel to central Indiana to fellowship with our extended family of “theophilites.” We’ll be picking up a few folks along the way, and are looking forward to great fellowship and comraderie. The Gathering itself is graciously hosted by one of our members at the Hebron Center where he works. The Hebron Center is a residential recovery program that is dedicated to the spiritual rehabilitation of men in alcohol and drug addiction and their families. It’s always a very special time – the residents look forward to hosting us, and we look forward to spending time with them and hearing their stories of recovery. The highlight for many of us is shared worship with the men on Sunday morning. There is something very special about hearing the stories of people that have very literally been SAVED by God.

Stay tuned…I’m sure there will be stories to tell upon our return.

2009 in review

As most people likely do at this time of year, my wife and I have been reflecting on the past year and what has transpired in our lives. 2009 was a particularly exhausting year for me, and as I look back over the year I begin to see why…

My “day job” took me to Florida, Massachusetts, Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky,  Washington DC, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and western Maryland.

We started the year driving to Indiana for a gathering of friends whom I’ve gotten to know over the past couple years through an online chat group. I was supposed to take my daughter Rachel to Chicago in January, but her best friend’s father died suddenly so we had to change our plans.

Then Leah hurt her shoulder…

Rehab, phyiscal therapy, and finally rotator cuff surgery ensued for her. She is getting better, but still has several months of PT ahead of her.

In April we celebrated Sarah’s 18th birthday and fulfilled her wish to have a moon bounce at her birthday party. Everyone enjoyed the moon bounce – we highly recommend it for all ages!

Both Rachel and Sarah had their wisdom teeth out. Sarah had surgery on her foot to repair a damaged tendon. Leah contracted MRSA while at the hospital for Sarah’s surgery, and she ended up in the hospital herself for five days – including surgery on her face to deal with the abscess that grew on her face. (That’s a total of five surgeries in the household – in a three month span).

Oxycodone has been flowing in my house for about 11 months now…

Our daughter Megan decided to become a day care provider, so we had to put the house in order which included building a fenced-in play area in the backyard. A retaining wall, several tons of fill dirt, and one picket fence later – we have “Hannah’s Playground.”

Megan had to go to court a couple times in Annapolis to secure sole custody of Hannah which was awarded in the summer.

Rachel and I did make it to Chicago finally – we hung out at JPUSA and got to see an exclusive Harry Potter exhibit at the museum.

We vacationed in Williambsburg twice (March and November)…

…and went to Ocean City twice (Labor Day Weekend and for the Alive 2009 Conference).

Over the summer we got to meet several of our blogging friends – and even had them over for a picnic lunch over the 4th of July!

In April, I helped the girls participate in “The Rescue” to raise awareness of the plight of child soldier’s in Uganda. The Rescue was coordinated by the group “Invisible Children” and we got to meet and hang out with Bobby (one of the founders).

My uncle died early in the year and was buried in the frigid cold at Arlington National Cemetery. My stepfather died unexpectedly in August, and my family mourned the loss of Grandpa George.

We finished out the year with everyone either healthy or on the mend. Throughout the year, our precious little granddaughter has been living with us. Hannah wakes Grandpa every morning and helps him to make the coffee. Her presence in our lives has truly been a blessing.

But wait! Before the year ended we got slammed by the 5th worst snowstorm on record for this area – not to mention the biggest snowfall ever recorded in December! The whole family (except for Rachel who was sick) got to enjoy some time in the snow – and we ended up having a white Christmas!

As we look forward to the new year we are praying and hopeful for an UNEVENTFUL year. Leah and I will soon make the trek to our winter gathering of friends in Indiana again, and we look forward to celebrating our 20th anniversary in July.

NT in a year

A college friend has invited me to walk with him through the New Testament in a year. If you are on Facebook you may join the cause and read with us – should be interesting.

Join the cause here:

http://apps.facebook.com/causes/421896

After a seven year hiatus Jennifer Knapp has finally returned to the music scene! Jennifer has been one of my favorite artists over the years, and I enjoy her music tremendously.

She’s working on a new album, and is gearing up for a tour this year. You can check her out at her new website:

http://www.jenniferknapp.com

Here’s a peek at one of her recent performances…enjoy.

Welcome back Jennifer!

Alive 2009

We recently traveled to Ocean City, MD with our House Church Youth Group that we call the Baltimore Area Man Family Fellowship or simply BAMFF. The highlight of the weekend for my girls was being interviewed by the conference people and having their responses displayed on the BIG Screen during the final session.

The biggest highlight for me personally was having the opportunity to hear Paul Young speak. In case you are not familiar with Messr. Young, he is the author of a book called “The Shack.”

Mr. Young turned out to be a very interesting speaker, and hearing from his own lips about his book makes the story that much more remarkable, and it is truly a “God Thing.” I got to give him a big bear hug and invited him to my shack in heaven one day to toss back a few beers – to which he agreed.

I encourage you to pick up the book and read it; the most difficult part of the book for most people to swallow is Chapter 4 – but if you can keep an open mind, you’ll find that the overall book is a great glimpse of the Kingdom of Heaven as well as they way we live in this falled broken world.

Please Pray For Shadoo

A good friend of my daughters’ was hurt severely a couple days ago. He is in the Shock Trauma unit at University of Maryland Hospital in Baltimore with a broken neck.

shadoo

Please pray to Jehovah-Rophe or Allah or Jesus – (however you choose to address the Lord) for complete healing and that this young man may walk again.

You may find out more about Shadoo’s status here:

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/group.php?gid=317217690695

(and I’ll be back here blogging soon Deb!)

Let it be so. Amen.

Striving

I made a comment to a previous post that said “I do not agree that our catholic nor individual purpose is to strive to be more like Christ…”

Someone asked me “but can we agree that we are told to strive to become like him?”  and cited the following verses:

1 Peter 1:15-16

15But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Ephesians 4:22-24

22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

These are good scriptures to start the discussion. The action verb in 1 peter is “BE” and the action verbs in the Ephesians passage are “put off” and “put on.”

Ephesians makes it sound more like a process (and I do agree that there is a process involved) with the putting off and putting on being a gradual thing (any Greek scholars can jump in here to provide more detail). The verse in Peter is quoted more often, I believe, where Peter said “BE” not “try to be” or “strive to be” but simply “BE Holy.”

What are our actions to be if we are “putting on/off” rather than a simple (one time) act of “put on/off”?  How are we to be holy? What does this look like?

I have searched the scriptures (thanks Biblegateway) for the word strive – and it doesn’t really show up that often, and never in the context of Christian living. So where does the idea come from (in Scripture) that this is a process and not simply something we are doing or not doing? Why don’t we simply

Thoughts?