Monday, October 31, 2005

The England Journal: Saturday 22 October

Well, this was an interestingly great day. We got out on the Tube at 10:30 to go to the London Eye, that Sheryl and I had done before in 2000, but we wanted Kinsey to go on it. We met up with 6 other team members and the 9 of us did it together. It was great and Kinsey had a blast. We got some really great pictures up there.

From the eye, the three of us went with Lesley Cromer and Chris Adcock over to Westminster where we got the obligatory pictures of Big Ben and Parliament (“Look kids! Big Ben! Parliament!”) and then over to Westminster Abbey, my favorite place in all of London.

Unfortunately, it’s not very kid/stroller-friendly. We got to see quite a few things that were great: the Tombs of Elizabeth I, Henry V, and Richard the II. I went over to Poets’ Corner again and saw all of the memorials to the British writers: Wordsworth, C.S. Lewis, Shakespeare, Austen, and the tomb of Geoffrey Chaucer. I even got the experience of doing some quiet time in a little chapel, called St. Faith’s Chapel. It’s a small chapel built around 1250, and it was a great place to calm down and meditate on God and just kind of take a break from all the tourist stuff.

After that, Kinsey started getting cranky/tired, so we headed out, just as she fell asleep. On the way up Whitehall Street, we met up with Tracy Dean, another team member, who’d been out alone. We all went to an Italian restaurant for a late lunch, then to somewhere else Sheryl and I hadn’t been before, the Covent Garden Market.

It, too, was amazing. It’s basically an outdoor mall, but it was so packed with people that I sometimes felt like I was using Kinsey and her stroller as a battering ram. We finally got down to a less crowded place call the Jubilee Market Place, where we picked up a few souvenirs.

At this point, it was time for Tracy and Lesley to get to their show for Saturday night, Guys and Dolls with Ewan McGregor. Chris stayed with me, Sheryl, and Kinsey and we went back to Leicester Square and just saw tons and tons of people. We decided to take Chris over to Piccadilly Circus since it was dark and all the lights would be on. We did and it was very cool.

We decided to head back over to Westminster and get some night shots of the landmarks. We did get some great ones and then headed back to the hotel.

Which is when things got interesting.

I waited in the lobby for Bart to come back from Guys and Dolls. While I waited one of the girls on the team came back and said that her purse had been stolen when she was out. She wasn’t as upset about the purse or the cash as she was about her camera and her pictures, including some of me, Sheryl, and Kinsey. I completely understood how she felt. It made the night a bit more traumatic.

Bart and I ended up going out anyway and talked about a lot of things. It was a great time and I was glad we had the chance to do that. We went back to the hotel and I had another conversation with another member of the team for a while. I don’t know how much it helped, but I tried to be a listening ear.

We have taxis for tomorrow to take us to Heathrow, so since it’s 1:45, I’m going to try and get just enough sleep to be ready for tomorrow.

Sunday 23 October

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The England Journal: Friday 21 October

This ended up as a pretty good day. We got to the Loughborough train station at about 7:20 with Norman (forgot to get a picture with him and Brenda though; I’m really disappointed with that). Kinsey did pretty well on the train by falling asleep. It was really crowded for one stop up to Leicester, but then a bunch of people got off and all of us could sit down and put our luggage up.

We got into London about 9:45. At that point, four of the team got taxis to get all the luggage to the hotel, including the luggage from Michelle Irwin, the missionary who lived in Loughborough before returning the States. Michelle also apparently collected bricks and cement samples from how heavy the bags were. Kinsey and Sheryl were two of those on the taxis. The rest of us got on the Tube at King’s Cross (passing Platform 9 ¾) and got off at Bayswater. We took a slightly circuitous route to our hotel, Princes Square Kyriad. But once we got there, we saw that our luggage and our team were waiting for us.

We took a slight breather, then headed our again. Another member, Lara Beth, and I had to run back to the hotel and grab a couple of things and we ended up meeting the team at Buckingham Palace. We walked back up toward Trafalgar Square where the English government was preparing for the 200th anniversary of Lord Nelson’s death and they were doing some very cool stuff with the decorations around the square.

We went on up to Leicester Square, which is a place Sheryl and I didn’t get to see when we were here in 2000. We had lunch at Pizza Hut with Kinsey while the rest of the team went to a noodle bar. After that, we all Tubed over to the Tower of London, where Kinsey fell asleep, which was good since we had a late night planned. We all went ahead in anyway, since we were paying for it, but most of us didn’t stay long. Sheryl and I didn’t go to much of the things that we saw before, mainly due to Kinsey being in her stroller, but we did get to see the Crown Jewels again.

Sheryl, Kinsey, and I separated from the group at this point, since we were going to a different show than them (us to the Lion King; them to Les Miz). We took the Tube back to Trafalgar Square where we went to the Texas Embassy restaurant for supper (good old Tex-Mex). From there, we went up to the Lyceum theater to see the show.

It was spectacular. The way they did the animals was incredible with puppets and stilts and costumes. And best of all, Kinsey loved it. She watched every second and clapped at the end of every song and gave a standing ovation at the end. She was quiet while it was going one and just absolutely loved it.

After the show, we Tubed back to the Hotel and Sheryl and Kinsey went to sleep, while I went out to the lobby to wait on the rest of the group that went to see Les Miz. It’s 1:30am now and I’m giving up and going to be.

Saturday 22 October

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The England Journal: Thursday 20 October

A gorgeous day today. The sun was shining, the sky was mainly blue, and the countryside was amazingly beautiful. Today we drove about 90 miles northwest of Loughborough to Chatsworth, the home of the Duke and Duchess of Derbyshire.

The house itself was amazing with its paintings and sculptures. Kinsey was not on her best behavior though and like any four year old, wanted to touch a lot of things that she wasn’t supposed to. Thankfully, the house part didn’t take very long, and we got out to the grounds.

The grounds were absolutely stunning. The gardens were blooming with flowers and there were a myriad of paths to go down. We went through a coal tunnel where the servants had extracted coal from and we did a maze on the grounds that took me about 15 long minutes to get through. We imitated statues, took amazing pictures, and generally just had a lot of fun.

We’d also planned on taking Kinsey to a farmyard, but it was an extra cost, so we decided to forgo that.

When we got back to Loughborough, we prepared for another night with some of the youth. We had the huge fish and chips again, woke Kinsey up from her late nap (again), then met with everyone.

We had another blast, playing the biggest game of NERTs I’ve ever played (people running to where they could put their cards), played Mafia, then had a short devo. We said goodbye to everyone and again just were amazed at the closeness of all of us.

We got back to the Hills pretty late and had to pack for an early train tomorrow, which meant none of Norman’s stories. Kinsey fell asleep about midnight, so we’ll see how all the travel to London goes. I’m looking forward to it, but I know that I’m going to miss this town a whole bunch.

Friday 21 October

Friday, October 28, 2005

The England Journal: Wednesday 19 October

Well, first off, Kinsey’s fever was gone this morning which was fantastic. The night’s sleep did her a lot of good.

This was the last day of the HBC and it went great of course. A couple of the kids didn’t come back because they went away on holiday, but we had a great group still. We did all the fun songs and played a few more games and just had a whole bunch of fun.

After the HBC, many of us worked around the church for a while helping organize a lot of the cabinets and supplies in the back of it. I actually ended up at Marks’ place for a while to download some pictures to a disc so that I had plenty of room on the memory cards were Chatsworth and London.

Others went to a senior center and entertained them and got entertained. They all said that they had a blast.

After we got done, we ate and then got ready for the church meeting that night. There were about 40 people at the service, including us, and I did my talk that I had planned for Sunday and just adjusted it for a discussion time. I thought it went really well and got several compliments from people, which was nice.

At the end of the service, Mark gave all of us historical picture books about Loughborough and thanked us for the work that we’d done this week, and we ended the night with some really good fellowship and amazement at how close we’d grown with this congregation in just 4 days.

However, Kinsey fell asleep at 6pm again and woke up at 8, which meant that she didn’t fall back asleep until 1am again. She still seems to be on Nashville time somewhat and I’m really scared she’s only going to be on England time when we get back home.

Thursday 20 October

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The England Journal: Tuesday 18 October

Today was another tough/good day. Kinsey woke up with a fever again and a very wet (or chesty, as the English say) cough. We gave her some Tylenol and then Sudafed and she fell asleep very quickly and slept for almost two hours. We think it was the medicine cocktail.

At HBC today, I played Gideon in a skit with Dan Norton and Amanda Vick, the Banana Kids (Rotten and Ripe, respectively). It was a lot of fun and we’ve heard some great stories about how much fun the kids are having, as well as seeing it first hand from the. I’m kind of sorry that tomorrow is the last day.

After HBC, Mark took us to see some sites around Loughborough. We went to Mount Saint Bernard Abbey, just outside of Loughborough. We got some really great shots of the church and the area around it, including a really nice walk called the Calvary walk. Although Mark apologized for the lack of sun and blue sky, Sheryl and I found it a quintessentially English day.

From there, we went to Bradgate Park, where the ruins of the house that Lady Jane Grey lived in. It’s another beautiful countryside area and we got another slew of great pictures (I’ll have to buy another memory card tomorrow).

We ate supper back at the church and then did the young adult meeting. We did some icebreaker games and then Dan gave us some spiritual chewing gum about life and the lack of promise for ease in life. It led to some great discussion and thoughts from both the Brits and Americans. Then we hung out some more with the gang and I got brought back to Norman and Brenda’s.

Kinsey still has a fever, but we’re not giving here anything tonight in the hopes that it breaks finally. Tomorrow, the last day of the HBC and the Wednesday night meeting.

Wednesday 19 October

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The England Journal: Monday 17 October

Last night didn’t end up very easy. After Kinsey went down, she didn’t fall asleep until 1:30am, probably because she fell asleep at 6pm at church and woke up at 8. I’m afraid her body is still adapting to England time. She also woke up with a slight fever, but we gave her some Tylenol and she was fine of the rest of the day.

This was also the first day of the HBC, and it went very well. We had 18 kids and they all had a blast. I noticed one girl that hadn’t been at church, so that was nice. The kids did really well and we really liked talking to them, singing songs like C-O-C-O-N-U-T (just don’t reverse the song…) and the Hippo song and telling the story of Noah.

After the HBC, we had lunch until 1:30, then had afternoon tea with some of the older members of the congregation (and with all the eating today, I understood what the Hobbits were talking about with “Elevensies” and “Second Breakfast”). We also did a trivia game with them and it was a lot of fun. From 4 to 5:30, I wandered around Loughborough for a bit looking for an electrical travel adapter and a couple of other things. I came back for dinner and then went to Mark Hill’s house for some guys’ time together with a few of the young adults. We laughed a lot and told some jokes.

I came back to Norman and Brenda’s house where Sheryl put Kinsey down and then we listened to Norman tell more stories. He quite literally has a million of them, and they’re all hysterical.

Tomorrow for more HBC.

Tuesday 18 October

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The England Journal: Sunday 16 October

Another very full day. We got off the church at about 9:45, which is late for my family’s usual leaving-for-church time of 7:10. We went to the Bible class taught by Paul Hill, Mark’s cousin. He was very entertaining and he had some interesting thoughts. Tony Saunders spoke at the worship service and I liked what he had to say about Priorities and was sorry to hear about the death of his 20-year-old grandson who died on Thursday of cancer.

We had a meal in the building behind the church for lunch and after that sat down to plan the HBC. Several of us then made a run to Sainsbury’s (a supermarket) for supplies and then to Woolworth’s, which I didn’t know still existed. We came back and did some painting for the HBC backdrop. We came back out to the auditorium for the evening service, then had snacks, and finally, Chinese for dinner. My family went back to Mr. and Mrs. Hill’s house where he and I forced Sheryl and Mrs. Hill to watch football highlights. Norman told some great stories and now we’re off to bed.

Monday 17 October

Monday, October 24, 2005

The England Journal: Saturday 15 October

Well, the trip was a really good one. First off, it was the first mission trip for my entire family: me, Sheryl, and Kinsey. Secondly, it was to England. More on that on another day perhaps...

Anyway, here's the journal starting from the Saturday...

Saturday 15 October

This was a pretty difficult day travelwise. We left Nashville at 2:30 pm on Friday and got to Chicago at about 4. After our layover, we took off at 6:30. I had a great flight myself. Apparently slept for 5 hours and halfway through Batman Begins. Kinsey slept for about 4 and Sheryl for almost 1. She did not have a good flight at all. But we landed at 8 am at Heathrow.

Travelling through Heathrow wasn’t very fun either, trying to drag our stroller and bags and the rest of our stuff, plus simply traveling with 11 people at varying speeds. We got through customs and onto the Heathrow Express pretty well. From there, it was a quick walk over to St. Pancras station, then a fast run to the 10:30 train for Loughborough, which we got to just in time. We had to spread out over a lot of the train and find little holes to put our luggage. Both Kinsey and Sheryl fell asleep and I worked on my sermon.

It took us about 90 minutes to get to Loughborough and get picked up by Mark Hill, the paid minister at the Loughborough church. He took us to the building itself (built in 1889 for 500 pounds). We dropped some of our stuff off and went out on the town for a bit. There was a fair going on so we wandered around that and ate lunch at a little Italian place.

After lunch, we wandered around the town some more: walking through Queen’s Park, seeing the parish church of Loughborough and I even got a Chelsea Football Club jersey for 25 pounds. We went back to the church to pick up our stuff, and then went to Mark’s place to plan for the week.

It was there that I learned that I wasn’t actually preaching on Sunday, something I’d been really looking forward to. There had been some miscommunication and there was another preacher scheduled to come in. I was obviously disappointed, but it seems like a good opportunity to learn some well-deserved humility.

We talked about the rest of the week and then went out and got some fish and chips for supper. Holy cow, their fish are huge. You have to hold the whole thing in both hands and they don’t skimp on the chips either. As a result I think the six of us left at Mark’s house went through a couple of bottles of ketchup.

After supper, Mark took me, Sheryl, and Kinsey to his parents’ house where we’re staying (although they don’t get here until tomorrow). I ended up watching some football highlights while Sheryl got ready for bed. And now to bed, where we’ll quickly collapse.

Sunday 16 October

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Thanks for all the words of prayer and support. It was a great trip and I can't wait to type up my journal for all of you.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Getting Better

Thanks for all the prayers, gang.

She went "home" early last night and ended up sleeping for about 11 hours. She had a fever when she went down and a smidge of one this morning. We didn't give her anything and by the time HBC was over, she was all better.

This afternoon, she's back to being her normal bossy self. So thanks again for the thoughts and prayers.

I am keeping a journal of the days and I'll post that when I get back.

Thanks again.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Kinsey's sick

Hey y'all.

Kinsey's come down with a fever each of the last two nights and today's lasted longer than Monday's. Please pray that she gets over it quickly. She's tough enough now just going to the church. I can't imagine trying to get around London with her in this condition.


Monday, October 17, 2005

From Loughborough

Hi all. Greetings from here in England.

Had the first day of the HBC today and it went very well. Had a lot of fun with the kids. Didn't do my sermon yesterday, but that's a story for when I get back.

Thanks for the prayers and I look forward to sharing the stories when I get back.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Off Across the Pond

Well, here we go again. For the second time in my life, I'm headed to England with my wife and now with my 4 year old daughter as well. Twelve hours from now, we'll be at the airport getting ready for our 2 hour wait until we get on the plane. We're looking forward to spending some time there with the people of Loughborough and ministering to them and getting ministered to by them.

I probably won't blog while I'm there, but when I get back, I'll post the journal that I'll keep while we're there. Pray for us while we're there to maintain our energy. Pray that Kinsey is well behaved. Pray for me that I'll get my sermon for Sunday written before jetlag sets in.

Thanks to all of you and we'll talk when we get back.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Vespers Service

I spoke last night at Otter Creek's Wednesday Night Vespers service. The Scriptures referenced are Amos 5:6-7, 10-15; Hebrews 3:1-6; and Mark 10:17-31. Here's what I said:

The Scriptures tonight are not my favorite in the Bible. In fact, they are some of my least favorite, because they speak so strongly to my spiritual condition that I find them hard to deal with in a way that allows me to be comfortable.

The Amos one contains some of the harshest language in Scripture towards those in a place of power. Maybe the only harsher words are to religious people later in this chapter in verses 18 through 27 or Luke 6:24-26. And these words are not toward the "sinful" or "immoral" as we might think of them. It's against the rich, the strong, the powerful.

To tell the truth, as hard as the Amos passage is to read, the Mark passage is even harder. Here you have a young man who was a good and righteous man. He had kept the commandments. He had sought out Jesus, which means he thought Jesus was someone worth seeking out for knowledge. And the man wanted to know how to get eternal life. Jesus says that the one thing that is keeping the young man (that Jesus loves) from the Kingdom of God was his possessions. And when Jesus said this, "the disciples were astounded." Why? Because the man had kept all the commandments? Or because he was rich? The disciples' response indicates that they associated wealth with being in the Kingdom and when Jesus subverts that, they were astounded.

Keep those thoughts in the back of your mind for a moment.

This last weekend, I and 1200 others gathered at the Zoe Conference at Woodmont Hills and talked about being the incarnation of Christ to the world, being Jesus. We even talked about mission and mission statements. Leonard Sweet even said, "Did we write New mission Statements because we didn't like Jesus' for us?" In short, we talked about being missional Christians. Christians that have a mission.

Missional Christians. It strikes me that this phrase is a complete redundancy. To say "Missional Christian" should be restating the obvious. Christians should be completely about mission, the mission of taking the good news of the Kingdom to the world. But the sad thing is that "missional" has become the new buzzword in evangelical churches. And it's sad because apparently we had to be reminded that we have a mission, that we were saved to do something more than sit on our pews and sing pretty songs to each other about how much we love God and He loves us.

On Friday I and 12 others will be flying to England to do some work for the Kingdom. Also on Friday, a team will be leaving here to go down to Mississippi and help with hurricane relief. All of these are good works and Godly pursuits. But I sometimes wonder if we get ourselves into a mindset that we do this work when we go away from home. That I can do work with a church if it's in a different country or that we can help the poor or disadvantaged if they've been affected by a hurricane.

There are those in this city today mere miles from this building that are in need of the good news of the Kingdom of God, that need some of the care that we're giving to those in Mississippi. To be a missionary, or rather to be on God's mission, is not only about leaving home; it's also about affecting our home for God. It's about seeing those oppressed by those in power and validating them and lifting them up. And it could be about selling our possessions, giving to the poor, and following Jesus. And to be a servant like Moses was, someone who gave up being a Prince of Egypt for his people.

We don't have to go away to be on God's Mission. There are opportunities all around us if we only have the eyes to see. And while we may not have to go away to be on the mission, we do have to leave everything behind. All those things that we hold onto more dearly than we do to God, we have to let them go.

I pray that as I, my family, and our friends come back home, we can be as committed to be on God's here in Nashville, as we are to be on His mission in England. And I pray that those who go to help in Mississippi (and even those who can't) will be as devoted to helping the disadvantaged here in Nashville as well.

God calls us to be on a mission. Will we answer that call? Will we be like Isaiah and say, "Here am I! Send me!" Or will we go away sadly because we have too many possessions?

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Zoe Conference Notes

For the last two days, I've been at the Zoe Conference here in Nashville. It's been a great couple of days so far and I've got a lot going through my mind. I thought I'd share some of the notes that I've taken so far from the four classes I've gone to as a part of the Leadership section. I'd like to hear your thoughts as well.

Wade Hodges/John York

Jesus' teaching on the kingdom was mainly about Surprise.

Our primary identity in CofCs has been through differentiation from everyone else.

Kingdom is a difficult concept in a democracy.

Jesus' kingdom language walked the line between Caesar's Kingdom and the expectations of the Jewish people of what the kingdom should be.

Is Kingdom language today called to walk between the Kingdom of America and the traditions of Christendom?

"Anyone who accepted anyone at their table with Jesus was accepted by Jesus, but those who rejected those that Jesus had accepted are rejected by Jesus." Hodges

"In the first Century, who you eat with is who you are, but it was Mainly used for exclusion. Jesus used the table for inclsion." York

"Religious leaders believed that repentance preceded acceptance, but Jesus believed that acceptance led to repentance." York (Zaccheus)

Then - Pax Romana vs. The Shalom of God
Now - Pax Americana vs. The Shalom ot God

Randy Harris/Mike Cope

"We prefer the Christmas Card version of Christmas rather than the way it really happened." Harris

"Jesus was born into scandal and poverty and blood." Harris

Attractional Model - Trying to get people into church
Incarnational Model - Jesus came here to us
"The best hermeneutic of the Gospel is people living it out." ???

Incarnational Ministry doesn't have nice neat little rules.
  • Incarnation teaches us who God is.
  • Incarnation teaches us what it means to be human. Living like Jesus is not what we do to get salvation; it is Salvation.
  • Incarnation means that we know the world is loved by God.
  • Incarnation means our bodies are not evil.

Incarnational Ministry means laying our lives down over and over, believing that God will lift us up.

Leonard Sweet/Larry James

Amos 5:18-24
Amos 6:4-6

We are really good at responding to crisis especially when it's natural disaster because those people are ''worthy" James

"It's theologically incorrect to talk abort the mission of the church; It's God's mission. The question is whether or not the church will join God's mission." Sweet

330,000 churches in the US
75% are dying or declining
24% of the 330,000 are growing from the other 75%
Only 1% are growing from reaching nonChristians

"God's mission is not for 'successful Churches" Sweet

Missional, Relational, Incarnational

Missional vs. Attractional
Did we write New mission Statements because we didn't like Jesus' for us?

Jesus told us to "Go;" we want people to come to us.

Christianity was one of the few if not only non Temple based religions

If we don't think we've become Temple based again, we should look at our budgets.

Relational vs. Propositional

Incarnational vs. Imperialistic

The medical definition of death is a body that does not change.

We don't need mission statement

Three Steps of Change

  • Reframe - Give a new metaphor (mission)
  • Give people a big dream (Relational)
  • Has to be an emotional engagement (Incarnational)

Reason leads to ; emotions lead to

It's not the quality of the performance; It's the quality ot the participation (Sweet)

Jesus' death was largely a socio- theological-political death (James)

To carry out the mission to the poor, we have to relax and trust them. (James)

We can't take Jesus to the inner City; he never left. (James)

We look at the poor in terms of need, because we are materialistic. We don't look at the assets and dreams. (James) This one brought tears to my eyes because I realize that it's exactly how I've always thought.

Becca Stevens/LaJuana Gill
Magdalene Ministries

Difference between healing and fixing
  • Fixing is goal oriented
  • Healing is process oriented
Don't say you love someone unless you're willing to feed them/wash their feet.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Another off schedule post

I know I'm posting off schedule, but you should really read this blogpost from

It contains adult language and situations, so if that bothers you, don't read it. However, if you want a great explanation of the story of Jesus, Legion, and the herd of pigs, and then an amazing followup to that story, read it. It'll give you insight into the story and insight into the writer himself.
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