April 14, 2008


Well, only a decade behind the times, I joined facebook this last week. It is an interesting cyber-place. I have found some old friends there that I thought were lost to the pages of time. We are truly living in a unique age. In any generation before, it would be impossible to find lost friends - people from high school, college, and days gone by. No longer. I have been enjoying a lot of good memories that go with each name that pops up on my homepage.The only problem I can see is the massive amount of time that could be consumed by trying to keep up with a lifetime of friends all at once. Oh, who am I kidding. I can't even keep up with the 3 friends I have now.

April 7, 2008

morning wisdom

“The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice. A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.”
-- Proverbs 12.15-16

Oh, that I would not be a fool today.

April 3, 2008


This morning I pulled out of the garage and turned up the street. I noticed a woman in an SUV pulling big bags of trash out of the back and trying to cram them into my neighbor’s trash can. In that split second, I waived cautiously and she smiled guiltily.

I was only a second or two down the road when the whole scene registered. Too late I realized that she was doing something she probably wasn’t supposed to and my little wave probably encouraged her! So, with righteous indignation churning through my veins, I pulled around the block and circled around to my own house again – knowing what I would see.

She had now precariously perched two HUGE bags of trash on top of my trash can. I rolled down the window. “Uh. Oh. Good. I was trying to catch you. I needed to put my trash somewhere. You don’t mind, right,” says she.

“Only insofar as it is about to rain and now my trash can is going to fill with water – then give off that distinct wet trash odor for the next few weeks,” says me.

“Oh, well. I ran out of room in my can and the trash man told me to just do this. He is just around the corner, so it should get too wet,” says she.

Not for nothing, but I am quite good at timing my trash output to coincide with collection. In my neighborhood, they only come once a week and you must get it all in the city assigned can. Mine was perfectly full. Then she came along and overflowed me. What would the neighbors think? “Boy, that Ryan doesn’t know how to manage his trash output. Shameful. Let’s shun him from the next Neighbor’s night out.”

I would have loved to ask this trash bandit why, if what she was doing was at the behest of the trash man, didn’t she do it in her next-door neighbor’s can? Why drive all the way to another block at 8 am with all that refuse stacked in her car? And, if the trash man was standing right there giving instruction, couldn’t she have just thrown it in the truck right then?

Jesus probably would have opened his trunk and offered to take it to the dump for her.

April 1, 2008


The following was originally published in the April edition of our uzine, "The Encourager." The complete edition can be found on our website at http://news.uchurch.tv/Encourager/April%202008%20for%20web.pdf

Some nights I lie down for bed and try to figure out whether or not I was faithful that day. I review the events of my day in my mind’s eye. I let the images roll one after another. Sometimes I smile, sometimes I cringe, and sometimes I just fall asleep! Most days have flashes of pride, frustration, and weakness – though they typically pass before they cause me to really regret the day.

If I am very honest, it is not the days with small outbursts of sin that I really regret. I tend to lament the days that pass where I neither look more like Jesus nor does the world look more toward Jesus. It happens more frequently than I care to admit. I think back across the course of my day and realize that I was little more than very busy. I ran from sunup to sundown. There was a blur of meetings, quick conversations in the hallways, and perhaps some small project or writing assignment at my desk.

At the end of the day, I am a tired guy who looks no more like Jesus than when I woke up. I can’t imagine that Jesus was ever “hurried.”

Even as I force myself to undergo critical self examination, so also should the church. We should be examining our corporate life together. At the end of every day, month, year, we should ask whether as a body we look more like Jesus and if the world looks more toward Jesus because of our activity. I have no doubt the church will have been a busy place – a hive of activity. The critical question is whether we are living up to our missional calling from Jesus Christ.

Vision is the best remedy to busy days that bear little eternal fruit. A vision is a picture of the future as God desires it to be. A vision allows us to fix our eyes on Christ and journey down a path that develops our personal holiness and advances his Kingdom. All of our activity and action can be measured by a vision.

The process of visioning is not so different from self examination at the end of a day. To catch a glimpse of God’s vision for our church, we need only project our mind’s eye into the future and let the scenes of our life together roll. Rather than reflecting on what has happened in the past, we allow God to show us what the coming day could be and should be.

At University, we seek to measure our activity – not by the sheer number of programs and activities, but whether at the end of each day we look more like Jesus and the world looks more toward Jesus. To put it simply, we are called to make disciples for Jesus Christ.

We are created that we might take people who are alienated from God and introduce them to Jesus (Meeting). Then we are to share the teachings of Christ with these new disciples (Message). Once they have the news of Jesus, we can help these true disciples claim their calling and be deployed in ministry for Christ (Mission). At the end of this disciple-making journey we should discover a trained discipler who can engage others in this life changing adventure.
Church, I call on us all to be ruthlessly honest about ourselves and our ministries. Let us reflect on the days we have had even as we vision for the days to come. Let us labor everyday at the ministries of meeting, message, and mission. At the end of our day – when our Lord returns, I pray we will find that we will all look like him and the whole world will be looking toward him.


One of our new church members and his wife sent me a series of text messages suggesting possible names for the new Contemporary Worship Sanctuary in the North Campus. I was cracking up for two days as they continued to come in over the airwaves. How about you? Any fun ideas? Enjoy.

The house that U built
The Skateuary
JC Arena
Temple Beth-Ball
The King's Court and Fool's Flooy House
Let's Go Praisy
Praisy for Loving you