Tuesday, December 30, 2008

so this is the new year

so this is the new year.
and i don't feel any different.
the clanking of crystal
explosions off in the distance (in the distance).

so this is the new year
and i have no resolutions
for self assigned penance
for problems with easy solutions

so everybody put your best suit or dress on
let's make believe that we are wealthy for just this once
lighting firecrackers off on the front lawn
as thirty dialogs bleed into one

i wish the world was flat like the old days
then i could travel just by folding a map
no more airplanes, or speed trains, or freeways
there'd be no distance that could hold us back.

there'd be no distance that could hold us back

so this is the new year
-the new year--death cab for cutie

looking forward and looking back...we begin another new year sunday at fude. see you at 4.
peace to you,

Sunday, December 28, 2008

the upper room in our living room

the upper room will get together tonight in our living room...(call if you need directions)...fude is open for business, so we are going to go back to where it all began...our living room.
peace to you,

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

upper room family christmas

this week we will be getting together at derek and heidi's to celebrate christmas together...with turkey and all the trimmings. we will not gather at fude, so if you want to join us, send me an email and i will get you the details.
peace to you,
p.s. next week (the 21st) we will have a candlelight christmas at fude.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

a sunday night with ray

we will not be gathering at fude restaurant this week. we are getting together with andrew from ray (resource assistance for youth). if you want to hang with us and see how we can be of 'assistance' to the at risk youth in our city, meet us at 4 at broadway and young.
peace to you,

Sunday, November 23, 2008

great gift idea this holiday

*hint* *hint*...i want a pair (or six).
peace to you,

Thursday, November 20, 2008

MIC Check

we got together tonight and tried to come up with a statement that reflects not only who we are, but gives us direction and focus for our shared future as a community. we really like the words missional, incarnational and communal. we like the idea of being with people the way that jesus was with people. we wholeheartedly buy into the idea that we could actually follow in the footsteps of jesus and be disciples. we really love hanging out together and forming the sort of intimate relationships that jesus had with his disciples when he was here. missional...living for others. incarnational...living like jesus. communal...living life together. it's time for a MIC check. we have the audacity to think that it might actually be possible. that there might actually be more to life, more to faith, more to church than what we are currently experiencing. so let's do this. it has to start somewhere, it has to start sometime; what better place than here, what better time than now.
peace to you,

Sunday, November 02, 2008

new orleans is sinking...and i don't want to swim

i had an amazing time in new orleans with starbucks...refocused and re-energized...and not in the ways i thought i might be...i'll tell you all about it tonight at fude.
peace to you,

Thursday, October 09, 2008

happy thanksgiving

we will not be gathering at the upper room this week as many will be celebrating thanksgiving with their families. so eat lots of turkey, watch lots of football, be extremely grateful and be thankful for the abundance that is in our lives.
peace to you,

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

a shocking revelation

i picked up a book last week that i had been in search of for quite some time. I had read a quote in brennan manning's 'the ragamuffin gospel' and ever since had been keeping my eyes peeled for flannery o'connor.
i finished reading her short story revelation as was once again moved by the shocking grace of god.
i feel that those of us who would consider ourselves 'respectable' christians will be a little shocked at the procession we find at the pearly gates. we may also be shocked by the place of prominence that those who are less 'respectable' find themselves in.
in the story the main character, mrs. turpin, is a good, white, southern, upper class christian. she has people work in her cotton fields. those people may not be slaves, but they sure are close.
she thanks god that he did not make her "white trash" or a "(n-word)".
in her revelation however, her world is turned upside down.
'a visionary light settled in on her eyes. she saw the streak as a vast swinging bridge extending upward from the earth through a field of living fire. upon it a vast horde of souls were rumbling toward heaven. there were whole companies of white-trash, clean for the first time in their lives, and bands of black (n-word) white robes, and battalions of freaks and lunatics shouting and clapping and leaping like frogs. and bringing up the end of the procession was a tribe of people whom she recognized at once as those who, like herself and claud, had always has a little of everything and the god-given wit to use it right. she leaned forward to observe them closer. they were marching behind the others with great dignity, accountable as they had always been for good order and common sense and respectable behavior. they alone were on key. yet she could see by their shocked and altered faces that even their virtues were being burned away. she lowered her hands and gripped the rail of the hog pen, her eyes small but fixed unblinkingly on what lay ahead. in a moment the vision faded but she remained where she was, immobile.
at length she got down and turned off the faucet and made her slow way on the darkening path to the house. in the woods around her the invisible cricket choruses had struck up, but what she heard were the voices of the souls climbing upward into the starry field and shouting hallelujah." flannery o'connor - revelation
now this story was written about a time when racism was common even among those who would call themselves lovers of god. mrs. turpin's vision it was a shocking revelation.
what about us? what about our city? who would you be shocked to see entering the procession before you?
the truth is; god's grace and mercy are much bigger than we could ever imagine.
we just might be shocked by the people who enter the kingdom before us.
peace to you,

Sunday, August 24, 2008

we are all blind.
we live in constant denial.
we say that we can see, but clearly we cannot.
we are all blind.
jesus help us.
spit on us.
save us.
mark 8:22-26

peace to you,


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy

this past sunday at the upper room we planned to discuss how god reveals himself in the ordinary as well as the extraordinary. that we do not really need a sign for god to prove that he exists, that we need only to open our eyes, for there are signs everywhere. signs, signs, everywhere signs.

we had a relatively small group show up and more than enough food to share, so brenda went down and invited a few people up for supper.

we ended up sharing our table with five young adults that were hitching their way across the country. three of them were from out east and were heading west. one of them was from victoria and wanted to experience an authentic manitoba winter, so had decided to chill (pun intended) in winnipeg until spring. and the fifth had been all over, was heading back west for a bit, then overseas, and back to winnipeg in the spring.

we started talking about the beauty of this vast country (many of them have seen things we do not take the time to appreciate). we talked about how god reveals himself in the simplest things...the majesty of the rockies, the beauty of a prairie sunset, a meal shared between strangers.

one of them said 'the lord is constantly revealing himself, and too many people call it coincidence.' truth spoken around our table...from a hitchhiking teenager.

as the last of them got up to leave, they thanked us, said the food was awesome, and that it wasn't the least bit awkward...(at which point it proceeded to get a little awkward.) :)

we were reminded again that god is constantly speaking, constantly revealing himself, and we just need to open our eyes, or our tables, or our hearts and see.

sir isaac newton once said. 'in the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God's existence.'

god reveals himself all over the place...in nature, in sharing a meal, and in the thumbs of a hitchhikers truth.

peace to you,


Sunday, August 10, 2008

signs signs everywhere signs

the pharisees came and began to question jesus. to test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. he sighed deeply and said, "why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? i tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it." then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side. mark 8:11-13

i find it funny that the pharisees were asking for a miraculous sign after witnessing the feeding of the five thousand. after jesus had healed a blind man. after demons were cast into a herd of pigs. after he had fed another group of four thousand people. yet they still asked for a miraculous sign.

i wonder how many people do not believe in god because he has not chosen to break into their work in an abnormal or miraculous way. that they are waiting for him to alter the universe somehow to prove that he is real.

the lead singer mewithoutyou penned some incredible lyrics that i resonate with my heart more than the hearts of the pharisees.

daniel broke the king's decree,
peter stepped from the ship to the sea
there was hope for job like a cut down tree,
i hope that there's such hope for me
dust be on my mind's conceptions
and anything i thought i knew
each word of my lips' description,
and on all that i compare to you
the preference of the sun was
to the south side of the farm
i planted to the north in a terra-cotta pot
blind as i'd become, i used to wonder where you are-
these days i can't find where you're not!

elizabeth barret browning wrote

earth's crammed with heaven
and every common bush afire with god
but only he who sees, takes off his shoes
the rest sit round it and pluck blackberries

i find it hard to ignore god. he seems to show up everywhere. in the moment i see someone curled up asleep beside garbage bins at a downtown coffee shop. in a conversation about hope for the future with a colleague at work. in the sunshine, the blue and the green, the scent and the sound. god does not need to break in and give us a sign...we need to wake up and open our eyes.

peace to you,


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

re-creation not just recreation

then jesus left the vicinity of tyre and went through sidon, down to the sea of galilee and into the region of the decapolis. there some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man.
after he took him aside, away from the crowd, jesus put his fingers into the man's ears. then he spit and touched the man's tongue. he looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, "ephphatha!" (which means, "be opened!" ). at this, the man's ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.
jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. but the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. people were overwhelmed with amazement. "he has done everything well," they said. "he even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."
mark 7:31-37

i love this seemingly innocuous story from the life of jesus. i see so much of his heart in the way this goes down. notice the details mark shares. some people bring to jesus a man who was deaf and could hardly talk. what does jesus do? he takes the man aside away from the crowd. he does not make a spectacle of this man. the miracle is a personal encounter with jesus. jesus opens his ears and loosens his tongue.

why does his put his hands in his ears? why does he spit? we will talk about that sunday.

the thing that really gets me is that jesus pulled the guy aside and made him new again. jesus still is in the business of making things new, of doing everything well. he is into re-creation...not just recration.

what about us? is our faith about re-creating the kingdom here? is it about doing everything well? is it about meeting people as individuals and having god make them new? or is it more about recreation...hanging with a group of people who like the same things we like...believe the same things we do?

things to mull over until we meet on sunday at 4...see you at fude.

peace to you,

Thursday, July 03, 2008

dogs under the table

jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of tyre. he entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. in fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an evil spirit came and fell at his feet. The woman was a greek, born in syrian phoenicia. she begged jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.
"first let the children eat all they want," he told her, "for it is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs."
"yes, lord," she replied, "but even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs."
then he told her, "for such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter."
she went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
mark 7:24-30

this sunday night at fude we will be talking about the dogs under the table...come with questions...see you at four on sunday night

peace to you,

Thursday, June 12, 2008

happy father's day

we are going to take this sunday off to honor our fathers. we will not be meeting at fude this weekend. we will be back around the table next sunday at four at fude. have an awesome father's day and give your dad a hug.
peace to you,

Friday, May 30, 2008

hard hearted harbinger of haggis

there is a phrase that occurs a few times (at least 35 on my count) in the bible that causes me to scratch my head.

this week at the upper room we are looking at the miracle of jesus walking on water.

the disciples have recently returned from preaching in pairs; many were healed and delivered. they are tired, so jesus decides to take them away for a little r&r. their plans are foiled when a large crowd gathers on the shore as they arrive for their much needed rest. jesus begins to teach. the day gets late and the people are hungry. the disciples tell jesus to send the people into town so they can go get some food before the markets close up for the night.

'you give them something to eat' was his response. go see how much food you have. five loaves and two fish. jesus prays, breaks bread and the multitude is fed. pretty amazing.

the disciples are still exhausted so jesus sends them back into the boat to head across the lake for some time off.

they get half way across the lake and a storm kicks up. jesus is not with them. what are they going to do? he was on his way to pray on the mountainside.

there in the mist a figure appears...some sort of ghost. the disciples are terrified. then jesus calls out. "take courage! it is i. don't be afraid."

then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. they were completely amazed, and then the bible says "for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened."

now i have all sorts of questions about this episode in the life of jesus. but my biggest one is this: "what does it mean to have a hard heart?"

this and more on sunday night at fude,

peace to you,

Sunday, April 27, 2008

kick it to the curb

then jesus went around teaching from village to village.
calling the twelve to him, he sent them out two
by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.
these were his instructions: “take nothing for the
journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in
your belts. wear sandals but not an extra tunic.
whenever you enter a house, stay there until you
leave that town. and if any place will not welcome you
or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you
leave, as a testimony against them.”
they went out and preached that people should
repent. they drove out many demons and anointed
many sick people with oil and healed them. mark 6:6-13

odd instructions that jesus gave. take nothing. no food, no money, no extra jacket.
don't bounce around from house to house.
and if people do not listen or welcome you, then shake the dust off your feet.

dust on your feet? kick it to the curb on your way out of town.

but why? and why two by two? why bring a staff? why not moving around?

think about it...and bring your thoughts sunday night...

peace to you,

Thursday, April 24, 2008

in my hometown

i was eight years old and running with a dime in my hand
into the bus stop to pick up a paper for my old man
i’d sit on his lap in that big old buick and steer as we drove through town
he’d tousle my hair and say son take a good look around
this is your hometown, this is your hometown

bruce springsteen

yesterday i was back in my hometown.
i was looking forward to seeing familiar faces and catching up with old friends.
and yet i was not looking forward to going back to my hometown.
we were back for a funeral of a dear friend.
it was one of the saddest and most inspirational funerals i have ever been to.
as we listened to the family share, we were reminded of what a special women she was.
it is easy to forget. it is easy to overlook the little things they do to make you great.

sometimes when familiarity should breed a growing respect it breeds an increasing and easy-going familiarity. sometimes we are too near to people to see their greatness.

that is so true of our friend irene.

these words were spoken about jesus when he was back in his hometown. the place where he was misunderstood. the place where people refused to see him for who he was. they were too near to him to recognize his greatness.

i often wonder how people will remember me when i am gone. will i be thought of as the quiet kid in elementary school? will i be remembered for the way i acted as a teenager? (these are the things that they held against jesus when he came into their synagogues and taught with wisdom and authority.) what about the people around me right now? how will they remember me? what impact am i leaving in their lives? what fingerprints have they left on my heart?

what would they say about me in my hometown?

peace to you,


Thursday, April 10, 2008

this little piggie

in the first few lines of mark 5 we find ourselves in one of the more puzzling stories in the life of jesus.
demons causing a man to cut himself with stones as he lived in a cemetary.
jesus confronts the demons and "gives them permission" to enter a herd of pigs.
life and beauty confronts chaos and cruelty.
pigs are destroyed and people are enraged. they beg him to leave. misunderstood miracle.
i have seen this story played out in our day...maybe not with pigs..but...
well, we will talk about that more on sunday night.
peace to you,

Monday, March 31, 2008

he don't even care/who dis is?

that day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "let us go over to the other side." leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. there were also other boats with him. a furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. the disciples woke him and said to him, "teacher, don't you care if we drown?"
he got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "quiet! be still!" then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
he said to his disciples, "why are you so afraid? do you still have no faith?"
they were terrified and asked each other, "who is this? even the wind and the waves obey him!"

heard this story so many times...read it just as many. listen to the rich texture of language. you can totally picture it.

a furious squall.
the waves broke over the boat.
it was nearly swamped.
jesus was sleeping...on a cushion.

such incredible detail in this story. i would imagine if i had been there, it would have been in slow motion. i wonder how many details you would remember if you thought it would be the last few minutes of your life.

and he don't even care.

or does he? he is the calmer of the storm. he speaks. the waves stop.

who dis is? even the wind and waves obey him.

this is true shock and awe...they were terrified.

peace to you,


Monday, March 17, 2008

in memory of j.c.

we take time this week to focus on the unfathomable sacrifice of jesus on the cross. we remember the searing pain and respond to the shed blood by falling to our knees in humility. you gave so much...the least we could give is our lives. thank you jesus. thank you.
friends, take time this week to survey the wondrous cross on which the prince of glory died. respond to the immeasurable of love of god.
peace to you,

p.s. enjoy this video by my other favorite j.c.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

all about the green

this sunday is all about the green...
not golf...
or frogs...
or money...
the significance of palm sunday
the symbolism of st.patricks day
the sweet allure of green jello (ok maybe that's a bit much)
so study up on your palm sunday and your maewyn succat...
peace to you,

Monday, March 03, 2008

riddle me this

he said to them, "do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? instead, don't you put it on its stand? for whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. if anyone has ears to hear, let him hear."
"consider carefully what you hear," he continued. "with the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him." mark 4:21-25

riddle me this…riddle me that…who can understand mad phrasing from this hep cat?

it seems that jesus taught in parables to make things more plain; to give us a tangible example of some invisible, untouchable reality. but this passage requires a little mind workout. i wonder if that was also part of jesus’ plan. almost as if the phrase, “if anyone has ears to hear, let him hear” means…stop and think about this for a minute, or wrap your mind around this one for a second.

i love the fact that jesus’ words are not always immediately accessible. that for one to understand what he was getting at, you have to dig, think for yourself, ask questions. this is no teaching for the light of heart or weak of mind. following jesus requires all our heart, soul, mind and strength.

and yet if we come to scripture with the heart of a child…the kingdom is ours. this is the glory of the paradox of faith. a path not at all easy to figure out and live perfectly, yet so simple a child can comprehend and walk it.

so unravel this riddle for me…what is this parable all about? lamps under beds, hidden things brought to light, measures used and more for those who already have?

peace to you,

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

digging in the dirt

the parables of jesus are pure genius. the master storyteller, weaving truth in fiction. farmer and seed…scattering on soils. most people don’t understand. left scratching there heads. i count myself one of them on this one. i get the soil story after the explanation that jesus gives. but why does he only let a few of them in on the deeper meaning of the dirt?
jesus words to the disciples before he explains the significance of the soil are these:
"the secret of the kingdom of god has been given to you. but to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that,
" 'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'"
yeah…that’s what he said.
what does that mean to you?
i think i may have to do a little digging in the dirt this week
i’ll let you know what i find on sunday.
peace to you,

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

hey hermano

then jesus' mother and brothers arrived. standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. a crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, "your mother and brothers are outside looking for you."
"who are my mother and my brothers?" he asked.
then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, "here are my mother and my brothers! whoever does god's will is my brother and sister and mother. mark 3:31-35

jesus refered to his disciples as family, as brother and sisters, mothers and friends. what seems to be the prerequisite to one of those titles?
saying the sinner's prayer?
memorizing the ten commandments?
being a kind and generous person?
exactly what is obedience to the will of god?
if jesus were to give you a title, would it be hermano?
things to ponder until we meet,
peace to you,

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

what the what?

"i tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. but whoever blasphemes against the holy spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin." mark 3:28-29

what the what?

peace to you,

how he loves us

Friday, February 08, 2008

ooo! ooo! pick me mr. kotter

some of you are too young to remember the sweathogs, but i totally thought of them as i was reading this week about jesus picking the twelve disciples. they were quite a rag-tag bunch of hooligans. like horshack, washington, epstein and barbarino, you had impetuous, sometimes immature, guys who formed this close knit gang with jesus. peter shooting his mouth off like epstein and john, 'the one who jesus loved', raising his hand in the front like horshack.
it made me think of what that crew would look like if jesus were to pick them today. would they have piercings, mohawks and tattoos? or would they look like they just walked out of an old navy ad? would they be eccentric musicians and artists or perhaps math nerds who play world of warcraft? who would jesus choose today? would i have been one of the twelve? would you? i think we might be surprized.

peace to you,

Sunday, January 27, 2008

a new law

over the past few weeks we have been discussing jesus and his 'sabbath-breaking' tendencies. we have realized that all too often our tendencies are to make lists and rules and we may even have the audacity to place those rules above compassion and love for others. this video captures the heart of that. it is by an artist that often inspires and always challenges me...derek webb. enjoy.
peace to you,

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

hand hand fingers thumb

hand hand fingers thumb
one thumb one thumb
shrivelled up and numb

one hand two hands
called him up to the front
the pharisees lean forward
to see the sabbath stunt

hand hand fingers thumb
one thumb one thumb
made right and them some

one hand one hand
the healing over and done
by the love of god’s one and only son

the power of jesus to heal amazes me. whether it is cancer or a disfigured limb, jesus has power over this body. the physical world is under his authority. i do not understand why or how it happens, but there have been times where i have witnessed firsthand the healing power of christ. (i have also had more times than i can count where i have prayed and it seems that there has been no change in the situation at all--maybe that is proof that there is no formula)

i love the story that mark shares in the beginning of his third chapter. jesus is in the synagogue again. the pharisees have gathering in the front row, the place of honor…hoping to somehow trap jesus in leading people astray.

enter the man with the withered hand. he was not born this way. a disease has taken hold of his body and rendered his hand useless. jesus has compassion on him…a stone mason by trade, desperately in need of both hands to provide for his family. too proud to beg. he turns to jesus.

jesus asks him to stand. the pharisees get excited…this is their moment. he will heal this man. they will have him trapped.

the plot thickens. is it lawful to do good on the sabbath or to do evil? to save a life or to kill?

stretch out your hand.

hand hand fingers thumb
one thumb one thumb
made right and them some

one hand one hand
the healing over and done
by the love of god’s one and only son

peace to you,

Thursday, January 17, 2008

wheat kings and pretty things

one sabbath jesus was going through the grainfields,
and as his disciples walked along, they began to
pick some heads of grain. the pharisees said to him,
“look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?”
he answered, “have you never read what david
did when he and his companions were hungry and in
need? in the days of abiathar the high priest, he entered
the house of god and ate the consecrated bread,
which is lawful only for priests to eat. and he also gave
some to his companions.”
then he said to them, “the sabbath was made for
man, not man for the sabbath. so the son of man is
lord even of the sabbath.” mark 2:2
the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath...there is a lot packed into that statement.
we will unpack that phrase...the picking of wheat...the eating of consecrated bread..on sunday at 4 at fude.
peace to you,

Friday, January 11, 2008

slow down and go fast

fasting is not one of my strong suits. let's just get that out on the table. i like food. i thoroughly enjoy the consumption of carbohydrates, proteins and sugars. i take great pleasure in pacifying my palate. i have actually contemplated writing a book on food. certainly not a cookbook, as unless it goes on the bbq, i am quite sure i can make it taste bad. but a book based on the biblical model of sharing a meal. (i even have a couple of sample titles should it become a reality: 'the sacrament of the shared meal - eating together as a sacred act of worship' or 'the sacrilege of the common meal - rediscovering the lost art (heart) of eating together')
that being said there have been times in my life where i have chosen to fast. usually at some point of decision or crisis. not typically as a discipline, more as a desperate search for clarity. it has been in those times, where i have slowed down, skipped a meal or two, that i have thought more clearly and heard more deftly the nudging in my heart and soul. where i sensed god speaking to me. there is something to this sacred discipline of fasting...if not i doubt that jesus would have encouraged it.
in mark 2:18-22 jesus is challenged by the religious leaders as to why his disciples do not fast. he talks about the bridegroom being with them (we will discuss this more on sunday) and he says that when he is gone, his disciples will fast.
so as his disciples, do we fast?
it seems there is a time to feast and a time to fast?
when is your time?
peace to you,

Friday, January 04, 2008

baby dedication

we will be having our first baby dedication for two sweet little girls...sadie and maddy this sunday. join us as we celebrate and dedicate these precious gifts.
see you sunday @ 4,
peace to you,