Monday, December 12, 2011

Toronto's Sanctuary Church

One of the best things about the Training School so far has been our visits to Sanctuary Church in Toronto. Maybe you have read the book God in the Alley? If not, I recommend it! 

The church is the most tangible expression of the Kingdom of God on earth that I have ever experienced. Truly all are welcome and all are free to act however in the safe space Sanctuary creates. They truly emoby their name and become a sanctuary for people who are marginalized and ignored by just about everyone else, including me. 

Because Sanctuary has been so formational to me, I wanted to share with you a few articles written by someone who has imbedded himself in the Sanctuary community, is living out of his car and on the streets, and is writing about his experiences. I got to walk with him for two weekends while in Toronto debating fun stuff like journalistic objectivity versus subjectivity and exploring though conversations why in the world this guy would want to live on these cold jaded streets for a month straight! 

Here are the links to the articles Stephen was written and that have been published through a not-for profit out of Carmel called World Next Door: 

Article One:
Article Two:’s-god-that’s-god-that’s-god-–-part-i/#

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Images of Jesus

In light of Christmas (specifically christmas shopping) coming up and the Occupy Movement that has been gaining momentum the past two months; these images of Jesus seem rather relevant and provocative: 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Some Recent Quotes

Here are some recent quotes we have been wrestling with in the training school:

"Sometimes I would like to ask God why he allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when he could do something about it."
"Well why don't you ask him?"
"Because I am afraid he would ask me the same question."

Christ has no body on earth but yours
No hands but yours
Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion for the world is to look out,
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good
And yours are the hands with which he is to bless us now.
-Teresa of Avila

The greatest hermeneutic of the gospel is a community that seeks to live it.
-Larry Mitchell

Back in the Game

I haven't been blogging much at all lately. Which is super odd to me since I am processing, learning, and experiencing more than I probably have in any other season of my life. The Training School has afforded me all types of new experiences and space to live in community with people. So I should have tons of thoughts, ideas, and questions to share all the time, and I definitely do! Yet, my blog says otherwise. My theory is that so much of what we do is so hard to quantify into blog posts let alone conversations when someone makes the mistake of asking me how Training School is going.

I think I will try to be a little more intentional about processing and sharing my thoughts and experiences through the blog from here on out.

I think I will start now:

Just two weekend ago some of us from the Training School made a trek up to Toronto. It is amazing how formational a quick weekend trip can be when you go with the intentions of walking together in intimate community and go with open eyes and hands for what the streets have to offer.

What I learned:
1. I don't walk much.
I was physically sore from walking wherever we went in the city.
2. I don't live below the surface very often.
Walking with friends that want to have conversations that revolve around meaningful, emotional, and spiritual concepts for basically three days straight causes me to be emotionally and physically drained. My lack of stamina for such conversations led me to deduce I don't live below the surface very often.
3. I am a communist.

Just Kidding, about that one. But we did stumble into a park that was being occupied by people in support of the Occupy Wallstreet movement. It was pretty awesome to walk around and interact with the diverse group of people that had committed all kinds of time, energy, and money towards the movement.

The protesters were occupying St. James Park for five weeks in the heart of downtown Toronto before they were evicted.

They occupiers had literally created their own little community equipped with a kitchen, first aid tent, general assembly, and even a library full of more than a 1,000 books.

This guy was cool. He came up with this idea of setting up portable tables for dialogue. Aren't conversations, debates, and arguments better around a table where people know each other's names and aren't posturing at one another??

We just happened to be there on a day that they marched throughout the city. There were probably only about 100 permanent tents in St. James Park but nearly 5,000 people turned out for their march through the city.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Where I've Been & Where I'm Going

What a journey I have been on since I graduated from Butler University last spring! I just recently started working part time for Young Life Carmel and I am also embarking on a journey with my Church that I will explain later. 

My senior year at Butler was a season of transition as I wrestled with what would come after graduation. I was accepted into a graduate program in theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York City but was also feeling God tug on my heart to stay in Indianapolis for one more year. As I prayed and had conversations with friends, family, and mentors I felt that it was not the right time to take the financial leap into graduate school. 

Above is Union. It sits on on the upper east side of Manhattan right next to Columbia and Harlem. 

This summer I spent a month volunteering at Timberwolf Lake in Michigan as a Work Crew Boss. The Work Crew is comprised of around forty high school kids that have volunteered a month of their lives to live and serve at a Young Life camp. As a work crew boss, my role was to lead a group of six Work Crew kids in our daily physical labor but also (and more importantly) I was leading the group in all spiritual matters. In other words, I was disciplining, mentoring the high school kids that had come to serve for a month. The experience afforded me amazing opportunities to grow as a leader and in my individual relationship with Christ. 

One of the best jobs the Work Crew has is to welcome the busses that are dropping of hundreds of high school kids about ready to have the best week of their life and maybe here the Gospel for the first time. 
I was the Outdoor Crew Boss and these were the six guys and girls I worked with daily. I learned so much from their willingness to serve and dig deeper in their relationships with Christ. 

This is us on one of our nights off. We threw the junk in our lives that was holding us back from following Jesus into the fire, sang songs, and drank root beer. 

While graduate school seemed to be the most prestigious option for my life, I felt God pulling me towards a different path for the year ahead. After many conversations I decided to commit to a year long journey with Common Ground Christian Church called the Kingdom Living Training School. 

Do not be deceived by the title. It is not really a school, and I am not really being “trained” in anything. It is a journey with a group of 15 other people that have committed to intentionally walking with Jesus for the next year.

 Practically this looks like three classes a week from 9am to 12 where we sit in a classroom and are lead in conversation by our teacher and guide Larry Mitchell. We also take five or six vision trips to places like Toronto, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Tijuana. There is no curriculum only our guide and the direction the spirit leads the community in conversation with each other, with questions, with people we run into on our long walks through the city, with books, and with God.

It is so clear to me now that God lead me to the Training School for so many different reasons. In fact, God reveals something new to me every day. The best way I know how to describe the training school is a very intentional time in your life where you make space for God to really get into the cracks and crevices of your life that you have kept hidden from yourself and God. It is a period of refining that is sparked by the intentionally of the group and the community we are trying to live into. 

This is the group on top of the hostel we stayed in overlooking the Toronto. Which is the 5th largest city in North America and one of (if not the most) diverse cities in the world. 

We walk everywhere! And because we walk every where we are constantly in communication with each other, with the city, and with the people that line the streets of the city. 

We ate like this for the whole week. On the ground, in the middle of the city, sharing, tearing bread with our hands, and always sitting in a circle. 

The whole group! 


Outside of the Training School I was hoping to find someway to make money to pay bills, eat, pay for the training school, and save a little for graduate school. I was really hoping to do this by finding a job that I am passionate about and that would provide good experience in ministry and non-for profit work.  

I was blessed to be offered a part time Young Life staff position with Carmel (the area I have been leading at the past four years.) It has been such a blessing to work on staff in Carmel. I get to work alongside my best friends and already have a solid base of relationships with high school kids to work from. 

Part time Young life staff means I am doing all of the same things I did as a volunteer leader but also taking on administrative, organizational, and non-profit management roles to create space for other volunteer leaders to build relationships with high school students. 

So far my time on Young Life staff has been an absolute blast! There is some really amazing momentum and excitement right now stirring in Carmel Young Life. God is doing some amazing things in kids lives and setting this leadership team up to meet hundreds of new kids that maybe have never heard the good and true news of the Gospel.


Every month we have a Thanksgiving dinner potluck style. We probably had close to sixty kids show up to eat and have community with us. 

This was "Double Dog Dare you Club" Jake was Moonrock and I was Danger. 

Campaigners so far this year has been amazing! It reminds me of how badly kids want to dig deep, ask hard questions, and wrestle with stuff that matters. Nothing gets me more excited than sitting in a circle with young people and wrestling with matters of the heart. 

Wow. This is a lot. I hope you made it all the way through to the end or at least looked at all of the pictures! In the future my updates wont be near as long, there has just been a ton of transition these past couple of months that I wanted people to be updated on. 

I am looking for financial support for Young Life so if you are interested in partnering with me in my mission in Carmel you can email me at If nothing else, please partner with me in praying for me. Here are some specific areas that need prayer: 

1. My time in the Training School. 
2. Carmel Young Life- that we would be a ministry that is both wide and deep! 
3. That God would provide a part time job outside of YL so I could have more money to save up for school. 


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Whose Song are you Singing?

Monday night at Campaigners we talked about being YOURself. We wrestled with questions like: whose song are we singing? Who wrote the script we are playing?

In the Training School we have been discussing what it means to be apart of God's sweeping story. I do not want to sing a song I selfishly desire up and I definitely don't want to sing a song just because people have gone before me and achieved some sort of "success" by singing some generic song. I want to sing the song the creator of the universe that loves me relentlessly has specifically and uniquely for me.

I waited patiently for the LORD; 
   he turned to me and heard my cry. 
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, 
   out of the mud and mire; 
he set my feet on a rock 
   and gave me a firm place to stand. 
He put a new song in my mouth, 
   a hymn of praise to our God. 
Many will see and fear the LORD 
   and put their trust in him.
-Psalm 40 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Are you a Trader?

I am a trader!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Kirk Cousins Big Ten Kickoff Speech

Rooting for Michigan State to win the Big Ten because of this speech:

Friday, September 9, 2011

Jesus is a Friend of Mine

Any words of mine would diminish the amazingness of this video. so just enjoy.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Parable of the Sower

I have recently been contemplating and wrestling with my understanding of Christ centered community. Today, I read the parable of the sower in Mark 4. It goes like this:

Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.

This time reading through the story I couldn't help but think about how much stock, time, and effort the Church and Christianity at large puts into "planting seeds" or telling people about the good news of the Gospel. This is no doubt something that should be pursued relentlessly by Christ followers. But if this story teaches us anything, isn't it that you can plant the seed (or the good news) in the hearts of people but if the soil (community) they live in is not a rich soil prepared for the seed, it will never grow or temporarily sprout up only to wither and die. 

I propose that the Church needs to be spending equal time relentlessly creating a community (rich soil) as we do the spreading and planting seeds in the hearts of people who have yet to hear or accept the good news of the Gospel. In so many ways the Church always does this. But a bible study, Church service, or a quiet time is not really the full extent of community Christ calls us to. No, a rich soil that a seed can take root in, grow, and flourish in is something much more than those things. I am not sure exactly how to describe this sort of rich soil, I am only suggesting that we need to spend equal time creating space and community for people to be invited into as we do planting seeds of the good news in people. 

A Story

Today a fellow pilgrim in the Training School told us that the skin doctor has found some conspicous spots on her back that ended up being cancerous. She is in the process of waiting to hear how seriousness this cancer will be. It could very well be nothing at all but it also could be a serious game changer in her life. 

I told her this story about when I was in a similar situation: 

Four years ago when I was a Freshmen at Butler I went to the orthopedic doctor that I had grown close to over the years of ACL injuries, broken collarbones, pinkys, toes, etc. For a about a year I had had an aching pain in my knee that I thought must have been something like a torn meniscus. I ignored it for a really long time and the pain would come and go. Eventually it hurt too bad to ignore and I went to see the Doc. He took and x-ray and saw that a pretty good size tumor was making its home on my lower femur bone in the knee the knee joint. Being a good orthopedic doctor and realizing that I was 19 and at the prime age for osteosarcoma he started to bombard me with a ton of questions and worries. I had no idea and my mom (a nurse) wasn't there to explain to me the magnitude of what could possibly be growing in my knee. I felt fine and therefore thought there couldn't be anything significantly wrong with me. I told my mom and played down the seriousness of it but the Doctor said the next step was for me to go to get an MRI. 

A few days later, my mom called me and told me that various radiologist and my doctor believed that the tumor was in fact ostersarcoma and that I needed to move fast to see a specialist, get it removes, and get a biopsy to find out for sure if it was malignant or just a random tumor. Either way, they dropped the bomb on me.... Cancer. I immediately began to realize that if this was cancer that life would be drastically different. That I would probably not be going back to school, that I would go through kemo, lose my hair, maybe lose my leg, and worse case scenario maybe even die. 

There was five days in between this news and going to see a specialist that would give me a better idea of what was going on in my knee. Needless to say it was some of the craziest most bizarre five days of my life. I was scared and didn't want to lose my the grand life I had been living. Yet, I knew that more than anything God was putting this in my life for some divine reason, even though I had no freaking idea what that may be. 

At that point, I had read the scriptures enough to know what Paul's perspective on suffering was. I began to live into this scripture and ponder that maybe instead of dreading this I should be looking forward to the opportunity to grow into a more Christ like person, to suffer like Christ, to show others how much God has done  in me, to the point that I would rejoice and be joyful in my potential sufferings. 

Five days later I went to the doctor with my girlfriend, parents, and uncle with a very bizarre perception. I had become excited and was looking forward to the opportunity to follow Christ more deeply and to become more like Christ through the suffering's that lied ahead. My parents, girlfriend, and uncle were terrified and I was stoic ready to walk down this road the Lord and laid in front of me. 

The specialist looked at the x-ray and MRI and (metahporically) lit the prior report on fire and told me that those other Doctor's were silly and that he was 98 percent sure all that was growing in me was a benign cyst. Everyone else wept tears of joy while I felt extremely disappointed. The only way I could describe the feeling would be similar to what one feels when you have to miss out on a ridiculously awesome part all your best friends will be at. The Lord seriously did so much to me those five days that I couldn't help but look forward to this time of trial and suffering that I would come to know the Lord better. And now I would be getting this experience that would ignite all of these changes. 

For many years, I had no idea why God had done this to me. Then one day, as I was telling this story, it hit me and I realized that I could never have been excited about such immense suffering if I was not connected to God through Jesus. It doesn't make and worldly sense that one would be excited for cancer. Therefore, I was given a sense that God was putting this in my life to reaffirm his connection with me, for him and I to know that I was no longer wandering lost, no longer half way in following Christ, but all the way in and fully committed to his will and narrative for me. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Journey I'm On

This year I have embarked on a somewhat crazy and ambiguous journey. I have committed the next nine months to being a part of the Kingdom Living Training School at Common Ground Christian Church (the Church I have worshipped at all four years at Butler.) The training school is impossible to describe but nevertheless here is my attempt that will fall terribly short of encompassing or grasping what the Training School is, has been so far, and will be for the next nine months:

The training school is a commitment to be apart of a community chasing after similar dreams of Christ centered community, of living deeper into our walks with Christ, and desiring to live into our call as a people of mission. Practically this looks like 3 classes every week from 9am to 12 where we sit in a classroom and are taught and lead in conversation by our fearless leader, teacher, madman of a guide Larry. We also take five or so vision trips to places like Toronto, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Tijuana. There is no curriculum only our guide and the direction the spirit leads the community in conversation with each other, with questions, with people we run into on our long walks through the city, with books, and with God.

Why? Why am have I jumped into this ambiguous madness of a journey or pilgrimage? To love people better. Not to gain any more wisdom, theological understanding concerning God or community, but to live out what I have been reading and talking about for the past eight years in a very intentional way with others who are also longing to makes dreams a reality and turn theories into praxis.

 I am super excited to see where this river flows and to hang on tight for what is sure to be a crazy ass ride through some dangerous and challenging places.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Reflection, Four Years of Young Life

I have come to understand that in every Christian’s journey there is one fundamental change that we all experience that is more monumental than any other area of growth. This is the move from always wandering what I can get out of church, young life, vocation, and even people to wandering what I can give. Essentially the transformation is from a selfish and narcissistic consumer to a self-less, others focused person who wanders: how can I serve others? what do I have to offer to this group? Rather than only being concerned with what you can consume from church or wandering in what ways others can serve my interests.

For me, Carmel Young Life has been the medium God has used to transform me from a person who was constantly self-focused and concerned with what young life or other people can do for me to a person who finds real and full life in being self-less and serving. For the past four years Young Life and the relationships I have had with Carmel kids have been the most important thing in my life. More important than my own family, college grades, friends, my social life, or internships. As a young life leader you are almost obligatorily forced into being self-less. Otherwise, you are going to be a pretty crappy leader. High school kids deserve consistency and persistence in a way in which is only achieved through them being the number one priority in a leader’s life.

Through this “obligatory selflessness,” these past four years have been monumentally transformative and solidified to me that life is fully lived when we are not concerned about “me,” but consumed with the constant battle to turn away from my own selfishness and find a full and adventurous life loving selflessly. Jesus says in John 15, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Through Carmel Young Life I have actualized this in my life, but I have also realized how I still have a life time of struggle ahead of me to truly embody the selfless love Jesus calls us to.

Gosh! I could go on and on about how my experience in Young Life has transformed me into a more confident person, a better communicator and leader, a more articulate Christian, and even a better future father and husband. What is more important than how I am different is the ways in which God has impacted and transformed lives through me simply just showing up in guy’s lives. I will try to incapsulate in a few sentences how God has transformed a handful of lives through me.

I have spent the past four years building relationships and pouring myself into only a handful of guys. When I started out on this journey my hopes for their lives were simple and few. First, I hoped and prayed that God would move in their hearts so that they might know the truth of the Gospel; that God became man in Jesus to die and rise again so that God might restore our relationship and we could experience eternal life in the next life but mostly in this life.

My second priority was helping them realize following Christ is not only about the personal relationship with God but about taking part in God’s sweeping story to restore and redeem this broken and suffering world. Following Christ in not just about quiet times and going to Church but about taking part in God’s massive restoration project that is this world.

Finally, what I have spent countless hours praying they might realize through conversations is what it means to means to be a “man of God.” One of my favorite moments as a young life leader was at the end of a week of a crazy co-ed Wilderness trip. One of the guys that had been on our trip and that I had been challenging all week to serve and love the girls in our group well, stood up during the part of club when the kids were given an opportunity to share what they had learned after a week on the trail and said, “I have learned this week that men (myself included) are called to love women as Christ loved the Church.” All of the girls awed and the guys sneered while my eyes welled up with the proudest and most joyous tears my eyes have ever produced. To think that a seventeen year only kid would know this monumental and gospel truth at such a young age!

There have been so many other moments like this that have helped realize most of my goals I sat out to accomplish with these guys have come to fruition. Not at all by anything I have done other than showing up consistently and allowing the grace of God to work through me. I share with you these goals only to express to you the ways in which God has worked in the live of a number of Carmel high school kids in the past four years.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My Systematic Theology: Heaven

The modern Christian view of heaven is quite construed. Where is heaven? Is it out beyond the stars in some distant galaxy?

It is highly unlikely that one day an astronomer scanning the universe with a giant telescope will ever come across a distant galaxy full of puffy clouds and the righteous drinking pina coladas in “paradise.” Therefore, if heaven is not a “place” then what is it?

It is my understanding, that heaven is in fact not a place but a state between man and God and creation and God. Sin corrupts the sate of God’s relationship with man and creation causing a broken relationship between both of these with God. It is thus God’s main purpose since the fall of man represented in Genesis to restore his relationship with man and creation. This comes to complete fruition in Revelation when John describes heaven breaking in to our present sinfully laced reality to wipe away tears, end suffering, erase pain, and do away with sin. Thus it is my understanding the heaven is not necessarily a specific place (although I don’t discount this possibility) but a state of perfect union between man and God and God and creation.

In this light, Jesus' confusing and seemingly paradoxical claims in the Gospel about heaven and the coming the kingdom makes sense. Jesus says in the Gospels that heaven is now, I am heaven, and that heaven is yet to come at the end of times. Because of Jesus’ work on the cross and the grace one receives through faith, one can experience heaven (as I have described it) on earth, before, death in this present reality. Yet, as long as sin persists in this reality one can never fully experience an unadulterated relationship with God. That is why heaven is also yet to come.

It is my understanding of the Biblical text that at the “end of times” God will enact a process in which “heaven” or the New Jerusalem will break into our present evil and sinful world to fully restore creation and man to God. Everyone that has professed faith in Jesus Christ (including the dead, that are in some state that I do not fully understand) will rise from the dead and experience this new reality, free of sin, evil, and suffering. A new reality that is in fact the heaven we have been longing for and trying to figure out how to describe.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Modernist

The following poem I wrote for my creative writing class is inspired by my modern poetry class.

The Modernist

Poetry is the highest form of


How could one understand the world any other way?

Only poetry.


What nonsense.

While, I have respect for the spiritual

and even the mystical in this world,

look around!

and see nothing.

Nothing except

tears and blood

Surely you can see

that there is nothing to see.

Nothing is at hand.

Nothing is to come.

Fine, not religion

but science is supreme you say?

My friend,

Not everything can be reduced to:










Poetry is supreme.

Knowledge is endless.

It lives in a realm that data

and statistics fail to encapsulate.

Imagination by definition is endless.

Science cannot study the imagination with

data, facts, and analysis

that eventually stop.


the only form that can present the endless.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Becoming Gardeners, N.T. Wright

Here is an exert from a recent N.T. Wright book I read. I love that God never really provides answers about how to follow him. He just says, "Follow me." For example, we are left to find some sort of balance between spiritual discipline and knowing the God is the only force that can transform us to be more like Christ.

"The key is this: the "fruit of the spirit" does not grow automatically. The nine varieties of fruit do not suddenly appear just because some one has believed in Jesus, has prayed for God's spirit, and has then sat back and waited for "fruit" to arrive. Oh, there may well be strong and sudden initial signs that fruit is on the way. Many new Christians, particularly when sudden conversion has meant a dramatic turning away from a lifestyle full of the "works of the flesh," report their own astonishment at the desire that springs up within them to love, to forgive, to be gentle, to be pure. Where you ask, has all this come from? I didn't use to be like this. That is a wonderful thing, a sure sign of the Spirit's working.
But this doesn't mean it's all downhill from there. These are the blossoms; to get the fruit you have to learn to be a gardener. You have to discover how to tend and prune, how to irrigate the field, how to keep birds and squirrels away. you have to watch for blight and mold, cut away ivy and other parasites that suck the life out of the tree, and make sure the young trunk can stand firm in strong winds. Only then will fruity.

and then later...
"Christian, virtue is the gift of God and the result of the person of faith making conscious decisions to cultivate this way of life and these habits of heart and mind. In technical language, these things are both "infused" and "acquired," though the way we "acquire" them is itself, in that same language, "infused.' We are here, as so often theology, at the borders of language, because we are trying to talk at the same time about "something God does" and "something humans do" as if God were simply another character like ourselves."

-N.T. Wright, After you Believe

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Leather Man

I cant remember how I came across this on the internet but I did.

The leatherman was a famous vagabond that was known for his handmade suits made of leather. The identity of this man along with why he lived the way he did remains a mystery. He traveled a 365 mile circuit between Connectuit and the Hudson river living in caves and whatever else he could find along the way. He stopped into towns that he was passing through and as you can imagine the legend grew. So odd right? There is now an effort to dig up his grave and examine the body in the hopes of unearthing the mystery behind this man. Also there is an effort to thwart the attempts to dig up the leather man. Read more here: Also in general just check out wikipedia:

For whatever reason I was so intrigued by this man and was inspired to write this poem for my creative writing class:

Leather Man

Off the road amongst the Connecticut trees

A rusty old man sits in a dripping cave.

Fragments of his life and travels

tattooed on the cave’s walls

the emotions of such fragments

chiseled into his heart.


He hammered his eyes open and shut; hoping,

praying when he opened up his eyes he might be somewhere

warmer, drier, but most of all

somewhere more forgiving.