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Location: Liverpool, NY

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Accepting The Embrace of God: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina

I'm going to try out Lectio Divina with some youth this weekend. This site is a great one page introduction to Lectio. Here is the opening paragraph ...
A VERY ANCIENT art, practiced at one time by all Christians, is the technique known as lectio divina - a slow, contemplative praying of the Scriptures which enables the Bible, the Word of God, to become a means of union with God. This ancient practice has been kept alive in the Christian monastic tradition, and is one of the precious treasures of Benedictine monastics and oblates. Together with the Liturgy and daily manual labor, time set aside in a special way for lectio divina enables us to discover in our daily life an underlying spiritual rhythm. Within this rhythm we discover an increasing ability to offer more of ourselves and our relationships to the Father, and to accept the embrace that God is continuously extending to us in the person of his Son Jesus Christ.

A verse for meditation

Psalm 119:63 (King James Version)

63I am a companion of all them that fear thee ...

Master Sgt. Tulsa T. Tuliau, 33, of Watertown, NY

These links are press releases about the death of my friend Master Sgt. Tulsa T. Tuliau. He was a communicant of Trinity Episcopal Church in Watertown, NY. When stationed at home he and his wife, Kate, and two daughters, Vanessa and Sofia, faithfully attended the 8 am Mass with Kate's dad, Gene Ellis.

Honestly, these are some of the most delightful people you could ever meet. My heart grieves for them. Please pray for Tulsa's family and our community.

Department of Defense Press Release

Fort Drum Press Release

WWWNY-TV Press Release

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


I'll be off on some fun adventures soon. I get to travel to Utica, Binghamton and Elmira doing front work for the evangelist I work for. But beyond that ...

This weekend I'll head to a camp south of Syracuse to be the a youth retreat speaker for the teens from Grace Covenant Church in Clay, NY.

After the retreat is over, I'll be heading directly out to Cleveland for the Great Lakes Conferences Pastors Retreat at St. Joseph's Christian Life Center located right on Lake Erie. I shall see The Revinator, Xorey and BJB. Let the fun begin!

Our retreat speaker will be Dr. Keith Matthews.

My family will be joining me for the trip and staying at Xorey's palatial estate. We'll visit with other friends while in town also.

Death in Iraq

I knew it would happen eventually living in a military community. For the first time I got a phone call letting me know someone I know was killed in Iraq yesterday. He leaves a beautiful wife and 2 young daughters. His father-in-law is a dear friend of mine. I'm stunned. How very, very sad.


Please note changes in the right hand side bar.

Thoughts at the Moment

Welcome J Baehr and his Thoughts at the Moment to my list of esteemed blogs. I have no idea if he has anything of substance to say, but he's cute ... talk about eye candy! Whoa!

Watertown Church of the Nazarene

For the past several weeks I have been attending morning worship at Watertown Church of the Nazarene with esteemed pastors Greg Gates, Dan Hazelton and Rebecca Cash. Average attendance: 320.

This has been really good for my soul. Any time I go to church anywhere I'm constantly aware of and evaluating methodogies, building layouts, stuff that happens in the service, etc. It can really be annoying. I've enjoyed going here because that has been minimal and I've just worshiped. I have so appreciated Greg & Dan's encouragement and support.

Normally I would attend an Evangelical Covenant Church being an ordained Covenant pastor but the nearest one is Grace Covenant Church about 70 miles away in Clay, NY.

Thanks be to God that His Spirit is not confined to one church and one place.

my artsy side

Absolute beauty.

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So are any of you usingAdSense for your blog?

Monday, September 26, 2005

This Isn't Your Grandfather's Crusade: Part 1

I've been thinking about the pro's & con's of crusade evangelism and it's relevance in our culture. Is crusade evangelism dead?

Billy Graham preached his last crusade in NYC this past June. Over the years he has been the epitome of crusade evangelism. His organization is still considered the standard bearer and its strategies are still employed by evangelists all over the globe. Rightly or wrongly, many evangelist still think "It works for Billy, so it should work for me."

Now that his reign is coming to an end, there are many speculating that crusade evangelism has come to an end also. Sure there are other well known evangelists: Luis Palau doing festivals, Greg Laurie, Reinhard Bonnke the German evangelist and even Billy's successor and son, Franklin Graham. But no one believes any of these preachers are going to fill Billy's shoes, and many believe the whole era of crusade evangelism is over.

Even the word 'crusade' has come under attack by many including myself. For some Jewish or Muslim persons, the word evokes memories of the dark times of Christianity when "missionaries" were sent out to lands to wage war and kill in the name of God. The Holy See would grant them an indulgence but I'm betting it didn't get them far with St. Peter.

Even amongst current uses of the word, crusade is not used positively. When someone is said to be on a crusade, they are always looked at as an extremist or vigilante. No one likes extremists. They are too, ... well, ... extreme and not tolerant of other viewpoints. People on a crusade are not about diversity unless their crusade is about diversity which just brings up the whole logical flaw / conundrum with the tolerance/diversity camp.

So some evangelists have gone to using words like Festival or Encounter to be more friendly. My 5 y/o son Benny came up with his own word: Ingathering. His big sister would go to these big events for Girl Scouts called Ingatherings. When we were having a crusade evangelism event here in our city, he never took the term "Encounter". He always called it the Ingathering. It will never stick, but I like it. Innovative for a 5 year old.

So is the crusade really dead? Yes, it is. Yet, no it's not. I think that's the wrong question. Is crusade style evangelism, called by whatever moniker you want to give it, still relevant? I think so and I'll tell you why in the next post.

This Isn't Your Grandfather's Crusade: Part 2

Many arguments made against crusade evangelism are made against a stereotype or just a certain portion of the event. Immediately we begin thinking of the gold cufflinked hucksters and swindlers, the perfect-haired phony and fear monger and those whose message is near to nonsensical to the unchurched.

The focus of the criticism is frequently against the evangelistic sermon and the celebrity status of the evangelist. If you have been thinking along the lines that crusade evangelism is dead, I'm asking you to read further and consider some ways the crusade evangelism is relevant.

Believe it or not, the evangelistic sermon and altar call, even the actual crusade services are a small part of the process. There are months of preparation events that lead up to the event and months of follow-up ministry after the event is over. The actual crusade event might be 3-7 days long but what happens before and after the event are just as significant and it is in those events that we will find the most relevance for our churches and community.

Crusade preparation often takes upwards of a year. We did it in about nine months here. Our events included a kick-off rally, concerts of prayer, a prayerwalk, a spiritual leadership seminar with Dr. Elmer Towns, a ladies tea, a volunteer recruitment rally, a youth rally, a business and professional breakfast, counselor and follow-up training, numerous organizational meetings, an Encounter Sunday promoting the event in churches, and a lot of fundraising with some development training. All of these contributed to the unity and well being of the community and benefited our local churches. The church gained leaders from this event.

A good proclamation evangelist knows that it's not all about him or her but about Jesus Christ and Him alone. In a good crusade people come to know Christ before the Crusade services, at the services and for years afterward.

Crusades heighten the evangelistic senses of a church. They train members with a way to share their faith and a way to disciple someone. Sure it's propositional and maybe not the most pomo way of doing it. But the very fact that it trains and motivates them to do something about sharing their faith is relevant, and could likely lead them to pursuing other more relevant ways of sharing Christ.

In theory, after a Crusade is over, the churches are left with a community of saints excited about doing personal evangelism and churches that are motivated to work together in common mission. More evangelism should happen after a crusade is over than at the crusade itself.

In our community a Billy Graham Evangelism Associate, John Wesley White, led a crusade in 1981. There was a young man who went forward to receive Christ. He is now a teacher in the city high school, involved in youth ministry and is involved in leading a local chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Nearly 24 years later that small crusade that was hardly remembered has had ripple effects on young people in the community. A good crusade produces that effect multiple times over, often with stories that only God will see.

Crusades are about Christian unity. Several years back I enjoyed a book entitled, The Word and Power Church by Douglas Bannister, which described the breaking down of walls or blurring of lines between charismatic/Pentecostal and Bible churches. Elsewhere, I have read about disparate groups finding common causes in things like pro-life, anti-war, sex education, etc. Traditional lines amongst churches are being crossed more and more. A crusade can cause that to happen exponentially.

Unity is exemplified in the witness of a community's churches ministering together in common mission. The world takes notice when that happens and all hell trembles. If there is anything our communities long to see, it's churches that work together, and not just swap members and snide remarks. How often do we hear the questions about why are there so many different churches and wondering why they can't get along.

Jesus himself prayed for our unity that it would be a witness to those who don't yet know him. There are very few other methods or events that bring together the church catholic in a way that an evangelistic crusade does. The leadership team alone for a recent event in my city had the following denominations represented: Episcopal Church USA, Evangelical Lutheran, United Methodist, Assembly of God, Church of God, several independent/non denominational churches, American Baptist, Southern Baptist, Independent Baptist, Mennonite, Presbyterian and Wesleyan. Other denominations were represented amongst the several hundred volunteers. That doesn't happen too often in any city. Since this event there is a hunger for this to happen more and more in my community.

I don't know of many other things that would cause this type of unity to happen.

I hear Boomer pastor friends of mine bemoan the fact that Gen Xer's in their church have spotty church attendance. From their perspective, if these people were really committed they would be in church every week. But Gen Xer's are committed ... to authentic relationships, many of which they have outside of church. When they have these treasured relationships, they are considered so valuable that church attendance takes second place to the birthday parties, wedding weekends, camping trips away with friends, etc. Connection and community are such a high value that when church interferes with them, it takes a backseat.

But it's not just Gen X, we are a culture of 'networkaholics'. We love to connect and love the feeling of finding the six degrees of separation between us and our new friend. We love it when the world feels small like a village where we are known and know who's in the village.

Crusade evangelism fosters new relationships and networks. Serving on a ministry team, attending a ladies tea, praying together at concerts of prayer, attending business and professional luncheons, bringing friends to affinity events and the crusade, attending counselor and follow-up team training classes, and doing so without regard to which church one is from creates a tremendous sense of community. One of my favorite memories of our event was of me, the Evangelical Covenant ordained pastor, serving an Episcopal Church, teaching a counselor training seminar in a non-denominational Pentecostal church, organized and hosted by the Training Team Leaders, who were 2 Southern Baptist pastors and another independent church guy.

In soliciting feedback for the event in our city, one of the common refrains is that "I feel like I have friends in all the churches." And there is a belief that more will happen for the cause of Christ because of the friendships and relationships built throughout the church.

But there is more. So many community business leaders were generous to the crusade with their financial and other resources. A respect for each other was built and there exists a stronger sense that we want to support each other's business.

Clergy relationships were not bad in our city. But the crusade caused them to get much better. I personally grew an incredible respect for my ministerial colleagues. I was amazed at their humility and servant hearts. I now know of great pastors all over the North Country, most of which I did not know before. I'm excited for their ministries and have felt their support in new ways.

And at the heart of every crusade, there is a heightened sense of responsibility for every believer to have relationships with the unchurched that respect their dignity and exemplify the love of Christ.

For those who just came into a relationship with Christ, there is a follow-up team that is intentional about building bridges between that one and a church, and having someone mentor them in the faith.

Relationships are the life-force of crusade evangelism, just as they are at the heart of our culture. There is a longing both inside and outside the church to be connected. Participating in a crusade contributes to meeting that need in a godly manner.

There's more ....

This Isn't Your Grandfather's Crusade: Part 3

I too see the shift from a word driven culture to an image driven one. I believe it is important for the church to recognize that paradigm change and utilize that understanding when making decisions about how to communicate the gospel. Evangelists, albeit slow to get on board like the rest of the church, recognize that shift also. Perhaps they are not doing it well yet, but this is certainly a trend they are picking up.

But why are we so afraid to say that the spoken, preached, proclaimed word is still effective? Are all churches that have sermons without multimedia and PowerPoint really ineffective? Letterman and Leno still do their monologues. Oprah preaches. Joel Osteen seems to draw a good crowd. The 11 o'clock news still has a talking head. NPR's audience is huge. Garrison Keillor still enthralls us with his stories. Though our attention span may be shorter, we still listen and receive information through the spoken word.

When done well, proclamation evangelism is still extremely effective. I've seen it many times where somehow God heals a heart, or brings conviction & repentance, or pours out joy & encouragement, all through a sermon — sometimes, even my sermons. There are indeed cultural shifts we need to pay attention to when communicating the gospel effectively, but let us not forget that preaching still works.

Crusade evangelistic preaching is simple. In a bygone era and to a very small extent now, the preaching was emotion driven, over utilizing fear and guilt. In our recent Encounter, there was no pressure or arm twisting, no pulling at people's heart strings, no scaring the hell out of people. It was just a simple call for people to recognize the Spirit's work in their hearts and to come forward and receive a Savior they desperately need.

The gospel of crusade evangelism is a high commitment one both for the convert and the converted. Crusades call us as individual believers and churches to stand up and be counted among those who call themselves Christ followers.

Believers are called to demonstrate boldness by inviting their unchurched friends to hear the gospel. There's no backdoor evangelism where you invite someone to a fun event, and oh by the way, here is the gospel. When we invite someone to a crusade we're saying "Here's a message you need for your life. You need to repent and follow Christ." It is very bold.

What courage it takes to be converted at a Crusade! To literally stand up before friends and family, and by the very act of getting up and walking forward you admit your weakness and need of a Savior. Friends and family might not understand or think you've lost it but you go forward because God has called. And then working with someone to be discipled, possibly finding a new church. This takes incredible commitment.

I don't think our culture wants a low commitment religion that has no entrance standards and no requirements for being a follower. People want to be part of a church that stands for something and calls them to a higher way of life. The gospel presentation and call to conversion at a Crusade does that very thing.

Crusade evangelism also calls on our dollars. Crusades aren't cheap, although some are cheaper than others. Churches & believers take special offerings and sacrificially take money out of their budget. Area business leaders donate the majority of the cash budget but sometimes give gifts in kind like meals, car loans, hotel rooms, staging or lighting, decorations, etc.

The gospel at a Crusade is not one of cheap grace where it's easy to get in and doesn't require much of you afterward. The evangelist brings to the forefront of what Christ has paid for you and calls you to live your life with that thought prominent in your being.

The media gets involved in a crusade. They look for dirt on the evangelist or on those leading the event. They attend the event looking for an angle of who might be offended or for noteworthy citizens involved or attending the event. They want to know where the money goes and look for some impropriety. The Crusade team leaders and local churches have take stock of their life's witness for Christ during these times of scrutiny.

Individual believers are also more careful about their witness as they know they will be inviting their friends, relatives, associates and neighbors. When the Crusade comes to town, Christians want to put their best foot forward. I think that is a good thing as it causes people to look inward and think about how their life impacts others.

That's enough for tonight. Tomorrow I will tell you how Crusades are not relevant and how they could be tweaked.

Sunday, September 25, 2005


I spoke with a friend this evening who told me about a Bible class she is taken. It's a quasi Bible school class from a church with a significant teaching ministry — a moderately large church that has created it's own school of ministry and has some oversight from a regional Bible school. Not seminary, but not Sunday School or a small group Bible study either.

I asked if she had a reading list for the class. She said, "No. The teacher even told us not to be reading other stuff. He only wants us to read the Bible and hear from God not other people." I was instantly annoyed.

(Sarcasm and hostility begins) Sure don't read other books and listen to other people, but obviously the teacher of the class wants my friend to listen to him. Oh sure, the Holy Spirit hasn't had anything to say for the past 2000 years. We don't need to read any commentary from godly scholars who have committed years of their live to studying single verses or chapters.

There are literally hundreds of godly biblical scholars out there who do their research and writing with the leading of the Holy Spirit, let alone the thousands of saints through the ages who the Spirit has inspired to right their learnings in journals, books, etc. But we don't need them. We just need God and the Bible.

You know, if it's just your basic Sunday School class or small group I can understand not bringing scholarship in the picture. But when you are supposedly "school of ministry", even a low end one, and charging a fee, even a small fee, there ought to be some level of expertise brought into the classroom.

Now for my friend, English is her second language although her English skills are very good. But the teacher demands the class work out of the KJV.

(More sarcasm) Oh yeah, only the KJV is the authentic Word of God. Only English speaking people have the Word of God. Reina Valera? It's crap. (Extra heavy sarcasm!) I'm not even sure the original autographs were inspired and authentic, only the KJV.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

This is Holy Cross!

This is a dynamic Episcopal Church with a good website. Click on the welcome from the rector (that's Episcopalianese for head pastor) for a short but well done video clip.

I've grown to enjoy the Anglican way of worship and when I see churches like these I wish there was one styled like them close by. There's another one I like that I'll post in a moment: Holy Spirit Church in Dulles, VA.

Church of the Holy Spirit

Recently, online journalist David Virtue, was commenting on Rick Warren speaking to a bunch of Anglican Church leaders. David was ripping Warren's purpose-driven model and saying how it was incompatible with the Anglican Way of worship.

Immediately I thought of this church, Church of the Holy Spirit, which seems to have loosely adopted a purpose driven model with their 101, 102, etc classes.

This great site also allows one to read or listen to The Rev. Clancy Nixon's sermons (or whoever else might preach), which are very good. He deals with some good topics.

Chianti Classico

My friends in the ¡alive@5! Band bought me a bottle of wine. They are so good to me. Who cares if it tastes good, the label on the bottle beautiful! I wonder how Frederick III, Eleanor of Aragon and Pope Pius II would feel if they saw their picture on the front of a wine bottle. I'll give it a try tonight. The back of the bottle reads ...
"The fresco of the Introduction of Frederick III and Eleanor of Aragon by Pope Pius II, painted by Pinturicchio, depicts the brilliance of the Renaissance era in Siena. This historic painting shares its Tuscan heritage with the wine of the region, Chianti Classico. Banfi Chianti is a rich ruby red wine made from the area's famous Sangiovese grapes. Fresh and well-balanced with pleasing aromas of cherries and plums. Banfi Chianti Classico is a perfect match to hearty stews, grilled meats and red sauced pasta dishes." Bottled by Banfi s.r.i., Montalcino, Italy. Imported by Banfi Vintners, Old Brookville, NY.

Oriskany Battlefield

I was traveling yesterday doing some "invitation cultivation" work as it is called in the realm of evangelists. I met with a very nice ministerial group in Herkimer, NY and then did some networking in Whitesboro and Rome. On my way through I stopped at the Oriskany Battlefield in Oriskany, NY and then passed by Fort Stanwix in Rome. Here's a map in case you are NYS geography illiterate.

Carter asks ...

My 7 year old son Carter asked, "If God is everywhere, how come he is not inside the devil?"

There's a sermon there somewhere.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

My iDisk

I have temporarily posted a great sermon on my web site. If you have never seen Jim Cymbala's message from several year's back about the church being "A House of Prayer" it is encouraging.

The file is 93 mb and titled House of Prayer. It's an .asx file which I know nothing about but I played it on MPlayer OS X available at Version Tracker.

I'll leave it up for a week or so. The rest of my site is pretty empty at the moment. I'll get some new pictures up soon.


We had another great potluck gathering at our home this week with a new record attendance: 51. Thank God the weather was great because we would not all fit in my house. My Latino friends came with their kids and some great food. Karl set up his board & speakers and he, Rog, Patty & Carmen played some great music for us.

The evenings are getting shorter and cooler. I figure we'll do about two more.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Covenant Quarterly

I just read Paul Koptak's introduction to the current issue of The Covenant Quarterly. One sentence in particular stuck out to me as Paul quotes Charles Kimball: "Kimball concludes that these works 'demonstrate how the popular media too often gravitate toward the most sensational and simplistic images of Islam, ....'" (page 1, Koptak, Paul: Comment. The Covenant Quarterly, Vol. LXIII, No. 3, August 2005.)

That made me think. I am often resentful of Hollywood and the media's portrayal of evangelical Christianity as the religion of paedophile ministers, huckster evangelists, ultra-conservative Republicans, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and sports figures who pray in the end zone.

I never feel as if the media represents me and the Christian culture that I am a part of, and in particular my beliefs about God. Almost always, whoever the media chooses to represent Christianity on a particular issue, I feel a sense of disconnect to that person's views. Often I feel a sense of disgust and I cringe in disappointment.

After reading Paul Koptak's commentary, I suspect that there are Muslims who feel the same about the media's representation of Islam. (Now I suppose it would also be true, that if I were the spokesperson the media chose, nearly all of Christianity would be cringing!)

As I reflect on this issue further, almost all of my views and understandings of Muslims are from the media. Almost all. I did visit Jordan, Egypt and Israel on a 2 week tour of the Holy Lands in 1994. I found Arab people to be really wonderful, especially in the little town of Petra but also in Amman. They graciously shared food and friendship with complete American stranger/tourists.

In recent years I have had extensive interaction with wonderful people from mainline denominations — a treasured and liberating experience. Although, sometimes it was frustrating when trying to get them to think outside of their narrow understanding of evangelical Christianity. All too often their views just seemed to mimic the same ones I cringed at in the media.

All that said, there is a general lack of understanding amongst religious people in regards to people of other faiths or sects within their own faith. At first thought, Hollywood and the media are probably the main culprits in perpetrating distortions. But really it's not their fault. It's ours for believing them.

Monday, September 05, 2005

HurricaneHousing.org - Hurricane Katrina Housing and Disaster Relief Help

I'm wishing I had a bigger house and could open up some space for people. It's incredible the offers that have poured in to this site to shelter people. I'm sure stories will come out that people have been taken advantage of, which of course, will be awful. But thank God for people who make themselves available during a crisis like this.

Sunday, September 04, 2005


Matt Drudge had been posting a lot of news stories lately fromBREITBART.COM.

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Emerging Church

Has anybody out there read the book of Acts? That's really the kind of church we need. In Acts the preaching was powerful enough to converts hundreds and thousands at a time. There were incredible miracles, signs & wonders, & healings. The church held everything in common and ate a lot of meals together.

I dunno why I believe this, but it seems to me that if we had a church that had the experiences that the believers in Acts were having, then we wouldn't be having discussions about emerging churches and modernism.

All that said ... everything I read about emerging churches I want to experience one.