Archive for December, 2009

Good-Bye 2009 Hello 2010

Posted: December 31, 2009 in Uncategorized

New Year’s is one of my FAVORITE days of the year.  I know all of this might be whack, but in my twisted (somewhat obsessive-compulsive) mind, it is God’s way of giving me a COLOSSAL cosmic restart button for life.

At the stroke of midnight, whatever failings, habits, sins, mistakes, sadness, negative thoughts, etc. are gone!

New start.  Grace.

What I bring in to 2010 is up to me.  I can carry some of the baggage from 2009 into 2010 (like eating too many Outback Cheese Fries), but at least by way of the date I sign on my checks, I get a moment to decide whether the regrets of 2009 will make an appearance in 2010.


  • What do you need to stop doing in 2010 that you did in 2009?
  • What relationship do you need to graciously end because it is sucking the life out of you?
  • What and who will you listen to in 2010?
  • What and who will you forgive so that you can opt out of bitterness and anger in 2010?
  • What is the life situation that you will finally determine to resolve and move on?
  • What pattern of behavior will you end, or pick up in 2010?
  • What will you allow God to do in your life in 2010?

2009 was a good year.  I have much to be thankful for.  Having said that, I’m not sad to see it go.  I’m excited to see what 2010 has in store.



Posted: December 30, 2009 in Uncategorized

Cleaned the refrigerator this morning.  Pheww…  Too many leftovers pushed to the back of the fridge.

Did you know vegetables can liquify?  Gross.

A Kenyan Party

Posted: December 28, 2009 in Church, Culture, Discipleship, vision

Last Sunday my family and I were invited to a graduation party for Moses Mwaura.  Moses and his family are from Kenya and areall in” at the Living Stones Church (we may send them back to form Living Stones Church Kenya).  He just completed a Master’s Degree and to celebrate, he was throwing a party.  Loved it.  Parallels to what community looked like in early Christianity were coming to mind:

  • There is a Kenyan community in South Bend that exists within a larger community (they would quickly identify as “aliens & strangers” in the context of American culture and society).
  • Their community gathering very much encouraged and supported Kenyan identity.
  • They ate Kenyan food (table fellowship), which by the way was delicious…and included a tradition BBQ goat for any good Kenyan celebration.  Moses was kind enough to help me in the food line so I knew what it was that I was about to eat. 🙂
  • Time is subservient to relationship.  The invitation said 3-6 p.m.  It didn’t get started until 5:00 p.m.  It starts when everyone arrives.
  • Story telling…especially to the children was essential in shaping identity and cultural expectations.  The adults addressed the children and encouraged them through personal narrative in the following:  staying in school, the importance of education, working hard, sacrifice, the role of women in the home and society, being debt free, family, honoring and celebrating the achievements of others, honest employment, and the importance of self-sufficiency.

Examples of achievement were highly-valued (including Moses’ in whom we were all there to honor).  They were used as illustrations as to what children can become.  In the stories included Barack Obama whose father was a Kenyan.  There is great ownership in the Kenyan community of Barack Obama as the President of the United States.  The children were encouraged to dream as big as they want…and with hard work, discipline, and community…they could achieve it.

I wonder how many of these elements would have been present (and seen as absolutely essential and vital) to the earliest Christian community as they attempted to live as authentic followers of Jesus in the midst of a broader culture, and if that is why they were encouraged to not “forsake gathering together.” (Hebrews 10:25)

A Sunday on the South Side

Posted: December 28, 2009 in South Bend


(read here)

That’s the Wal-Mart we shop at (when we go to Wal-Mart).

That’s the apartment complex we lived in our first six months in South Bend.

That is the intersection (Inwood & Ironwood) that’s just a few blocks away from my parents home.

And that is the neighborhood that is two blocks from the church and a block from where I grew up.

It doesn’t feel like “the hood”…but maybe my familiarity is deceiving me.

I wonder if the city would mind if we (the South Side of South Bend) secede from South Bend and establish our own sovereign city, government, school system, etc.

What should we call our new city?  Stonesville?

Y2K Was Just the Other Day

Posted: December 26, 2009 in Personal Reflections

We are about to begin a new decade!!!  2010 is just a few days off!  10 years ago we were talking about Y2K and all the hype about everything in the world crashing (which it didn’t).  Fortunately, I didn’t waste time stockpiling weapons and food for the cataclysmic event.  But it feels like it was just the other day.  It was actually 10 YEARS AGO!!!  10 YEARS!!  Is time moving faster?

Do you remember what you were doing on December 31, 1999 waiting for the big Y2K?

2010 Resoluting

Posted: December 26, 2009 in Personal Reflections, vision

I’m sitting in a St. Louis Bread Company (Panera Bread in St. Louis) resoluting for 2010.  Yea…I’m a HUGE resolution guy.  That doesn’t mean I accomplish my resolutions, it just means I absolutely LOVE making them.  Lists, goals, plans, agendas for everything.  Don’t be jealous of my personality 🙂 .

Part of the process is looking at the 2009 resolutions.  Brutal.  And yet, I LOVE this sadistic work.


  • I have resolutions that have been on my list now for several years with no significant movement.  I now need to decide whether I’m going to re-up for yet another year and be serious about it, or concede that at this time in my life, I need to let it go.
  • My church resolutions have far outpaced my personal resolutions.  This isn’t so much because I’m great at what I do in regards to Pastoring but rather because so many of those resolutions are more dependent on God’s faithfulness than my discipline.
  • I have to live life holistically.  I’ve noticed a decline or failing in any of the following – spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, professional, intellectual, relational, and/or financial tends to affect the whole.
  • You can’t have an infinite number of resolutions (which I tend to do).  You only have 24 hours in a day.  Time management and resolution fulfillment cannot be separated.
  • Perfectionism shouldn’t trump degrees of success.  Even if you aren’t there yet, celebrate you aren’t where you were a year ago.
  • If in 2010 I accomplish my resolutions, will it change the world?  Are my resolutions too small or too “about me”?
  • The status quo of 2009 has to be disrupted.  If I live in 2010 like I did in 2009, I will be in this same place twelve months from now.  So…what gets disrupted in the Status Quo?  What will I resolve to quit doing in 2010 that I am doing in 2009?  What pattern of behavior or issue of time management will get overhauled?
  • What can’t wait?  I have three children.  Isaac is now 13.  Five minutes ago he was 2 years old.  Time is ticking.  And in some areas, I only get one shot. There are no “do-overs.”  I can still learn how to play an instrument in 2018, but I can’t raise my son again.

Dear Living Stoners (or anyone else who would like to participate),

Wanting to continue in the mission God has given us to make a difference on the South Side of South Bend, we have taken up a special Christmas Eve offering in which every penny of it will be earmarked and given to two places:

1.  Monroe Primary Center.  After a conversation with Principal Jill VanDriessche, we are in a position to help with some much needed afterschool program resources that include book binding materials (so the kids have experience being authentic writers and publishing their books, logic games, problem-solving kits (real life problems that they need to solve), and a Wii enabling the kids to play some “brain games.”

2. Broadway Christian Parish.  They do amazing work in our community among those who are in greatest need.  And they do so with very little resources and with little fanfare.  We are big fans.  They don’t know we are doing this (and hopefully they won’t read my blog).  Let’s surprise them with a generous Kingdom investment!

So that we might be known for our spirit of generosity, I’m asking you to give.  Many of you already did at our Christmas Eve service, but if you missed the opportunity, we will still receive your offering over the next two Sundays. Simply make your check out to the Living Stones Church and in the memo mark “Christmas Eve offering.”

Thank you in advance for your generous spirits!!!

Last week was a very bittersweet week.  Great things going on in regards to the Christmas season and at the Living Stones Church.  But in the middle of it, we had to say good-bye to David & Cynthia Kneip.  They loaded a truck on Monday and headed to Abilene, Texas, where David is taking a position as a professor at Abilene Christian University.  We knew when they got here that there would be a good chance that when David finished his Ph.D at Notre Dame that they would be leaving.  But it still sucks.  So many great things have happened at the Living Stones Church over the past five years.  David & Cynthia were such a critical part of it all!!  We will miss you friends…but send you with gratitude, love, thanks, and blessing!

December 27, 2009 – 9:30 & 11:30

January 3, 2010 – 9:30 & 11:30 a.m.

Cars Everywhere

Posted: December 26, 2009 in Uncategorized

Drove to St. Louis yesterday.  Yes…on Christmas morning!  Note to self:  do not expect to stop at a Cracker Barrel on Christmas Day for a delicious meal.  It is closed.  Further, any and all restaurants from South Bend to St. Louis via I-55 are closed.  Unless you pack it, you will be microwaving a cheese/sausage/croissant from 7-eleven for breakfast (Merry Christmas!!!).  We finally found an open Arby’s (attached to a gas station) 60 miles past Bloomington/Normal, IL.

We were making the best time ever (no traffic, and nowhere to stop!).  Then we were nearing I-255 close to St. Louis and we came up a hill and out of nowhere…light snow and ice EVERYWHERE (not to mention strong winds)!!  There were literally dozens (yes…I know I’m prone to exaggeration, but this is all true 🙂 ) of cars, SUVs, and trucks in ditches and medians like crazy.  I had never seen anything like it.  It was so bad emergency vehicles could only place a wooden stake with a pink tag in front of the vehicle and move on.  It looked like most were simply sitting in their cars and having to wait hours for their turn to be pulled out of the ditch.  We traveled 10 MPH with hazards on.  Then, we got on I-255 and…it was all gone.  Weird.

What was interesting was that most of the vehicles in the ditch were SUVs and trucks.  You may feel invincible…but your tires can’t beat ice at high rates of speed.