Armed. Can’t wait.

The boys removed my stiches last week – it was a fun time and all went well.

I’m 3 weeks, rehabbing my shoulder. I start to see some good progress, then something will happen that sets it back.  The human body is a finicky thing. Very thankful for the prospect of having both arms back. 

Things I still can’t do:

Crack the ice tray.
Squeeze hug my girls.
Sleep in any position but back.
Make coffee.
Dry myself in less than 5 minutes.
Drive (sort of).

So cool to meet Philip & Jan Yancy last week in Kiev.

First world problems. I get it. I’m able to type now with both hands, arms resting on the desk. This helps me get to work on a daunting list. We have a lot of events in the works, outreaches, worship events, leadership meetings. I’ve also got 2 rather large papers to be written looming. 

Walking around the local cemetery the other day.  It’s a place I go to when I need to feel rooted in what matters, reality. 
‘Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.’ Soren Kierkegaard

If you told me last year this time I’d be reading books on leadership and absolutely loving it – I would think you were crazy.  I’ve leared away from the topic, believing it to be a category of learning reserved for corporate american.  When considering ‘Christian’ leadership, my gut feelings were negative mostly, that the church had only been negatively effected by western concepts of success and organizational strategies.. so why read any of that stuff?

Last night Club 180 youth, all but 2-3 professing born again followers of Jesus, the rest on a journey of discovery. We stayed home, allowing Dima & Lena to embrace larger role – they do a great job creating space for the Holy Spirit.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. I’ve been reading about personal formation, as a leader. I’ve so needed this. Healthy, sustainable rhythms, still growing into these. Leading not only from example, but exemplifying love, elevating those around me, believing in and entrusting those to their giftedness, allowing failure (in my self in others) but maintaining a learning posture.

Our new Lighthouse sign – looks amazing at night, pictures coming soon!  Thank you eKreative for your generosity in donating it!
Cute Claire loves her little kitchen and refuses to use plastic pretend food –

I’ve just finished Haley Barton’s book on building discerning communities. Her ministry goes into toxic or ‘stuck’ leadership groups and helps them navigate from dictatorship style models to safe, open, vulnerable groups that learn together how to wait on the Spirit, listen, and discern together the very real will of God.  If God is to be leading our work, mission, or churches, surely God has both desires and wisdom for us – but we need to create the space for the Spirit to actually be heard.  That takes intentionality, work, willingness especially on the part of the leader to be ‘indifferent’ in the results – to be open fully to the resulting group decisions to look vastly different than the leaders wishes – that this is what it means to lead – not to get your own way, or have folks follow you ‘blindly’, but to influence everyone to move from darkness (ignorance) to light (revelation) – as a group, if there’s any meaning to be had in missional community or family.

I need to post some of my writings, I don’t know why I blog here about stuff I’ve already written on. 

Anyway. We have Collins off in Minsk recording with Peter and the crew as we attempt to finish the LIT worship album before end of year. We’re sponsoring some other events in Minsk as well in a couple of week before LIT – some dude from Hillsong coming and teaching some classes for area worship leaders.  I’m more excited about stuff outside of the local churches myself, but I have to remember it’s where most of the family of Christ hangs out. Why is that? Why do we spend so much time with believers – aren’t we all called to make new disciples?  Who didn’t get the memo?

Working on a new widows care online system for World Challenge, that we will prototype in Eastern Europe.  Excited we’ll have team members from Ukraine, Belarus and our first from Russia next month together for prayer and planning – as well as developing the ministry more together. God is with us in this, our budget has been doubled for 2019!  More hands and feet to those waiting for the love of God.

This weekend a couple of cool things.  One is a dinner we are hosting impromptu with some friends, some just asking beginning questions about meaning, life, purpose and I think holy ‘anxiety’ working in their hearts. Then, Sunday we are visiting a church in Kiev, the pastor is a motorcycle driving, tatoo’d up guy that is in charge of the Cities tatoo fest which attracts +10k each year.  During our kiev trip we are looking at 2 potential houses to rent, finally found a couple that look really good for hosting some evenings soon.

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Bethel Worship in Kiev

It’s been ten years since we’ve seen anything like last night in Ukraine. 10k mostly youth gathered from many denominations, areas of Kiev and even neighboring countries gathered to worship Jesus.

Well, worship Jesus, and see Jeremy Riddle. For those that don’t know Jeremy, he’s part of the Bethel Music crew, written such songs as Sweetly Broken, and Fall Afresh. The Ukrainian culture, and Christian sub-culture is still very hungry, and I’d say increasingly so since Maiden, for western culture.  A fairly limited amount of foreign music groups tour through Ukraine these days, so when someone comes in, it tends to make a splash.

This is something that is both useful, and troubling. If the incoming group pushes an obvious cultural colored agenda, it’s troubling. If the incoming group recognizes it’s limitations and respects the indigenous context, they can use their ‘attractiveness’ for larger kingdom purposes.  It’s a balance, it’s hard to judge last night as either good or bad, but a mix of both – in my opinion.

Flashy stages, rocketing choreographed smoke, and all the boom a million dollar sound system can project does not guarantee anything of spiritual significance.  In fact, I would argue those things, in the hands of proud or shallow Christianity only assures an emotional ‘only’ experience.  I’ve lived the charistmatic fun, danced with the best of them and used to consider loud preaching a sign of spiritual ‘anointing.’  Being in a crowd of 10k that hoop’d and holl’rd on cue as the many preachy voices from the stage instructed, brought back many fond memories.  It also left me saddened that for many, they will return home empty, when the gospel is so incredibly jammed packed with everything they need to flourish without the emotionalism.

I was sad that a vast majority last night, I believe, were not interested in yet another western hyped up ‘church service’. They were hungry to wait on the Lord, to focus and give a solid 2-3hrs to declaring Christ as King. The depth of spiritual hunger here is real, it needs a steak, not a cupcake.  Passion, with Louie G. ten years ago did a much better job of exploring the meaning of life, and the revelation of Christ with lasting depth – I still remember his message ten years later – I doubt anyone could remember anything from last night among the 60 minutes of random sermonizing. Last night, for me, was a dazzling display of missing the mark.  Of youthful, immature leadership under the spell that crowds mean success, that huge shouts mean Jesus is super happy.  This is the world of charismatic, Pentecostalism that is sweeping nations. We need to create spaces where hungry hearts can go deeper, and not become mesmerized by well meaning, but superficial Christianity.

Yet, along with the hyper emotionalism, is an innocent expression among the Ukrainians, they will do, say, and believe what folks say about God.  Hunger is hunger. As we left the evening, taking around 20 with us, I was curious how many of our own uncultured ‘in Christianity’ would and will respond.  I don’t know yet – we love our crew, and excited to keep journeying with them in the depths of the gospel, which is not only compelling to the deepest depths in the heart, but changes lives, not just excites for moments. 

Can we have both?  Can we worship in masses and celebrate the King with added technology – I think so. It’s a challenge, it’s something we must do with spiritual sensitivity to the existing work of the holy spirit in our nations.  To swoop in as foreigners, to assume the people are both expecting and desire an American style worship gathering is unwise. There have been times in our worship gatherings where I’ve been super uncomfortable as an American, lengthy pauses, intermittent talking and discussion – it’s been healthy for me to learn that worship is not only beyond ‘music’ , but beyond our forms, and is found in the mundane discussions of friendship, of being transparent and vulnerable – and waiting on the Lord for more than 5 minutes. 

A night of the holy spirit should, I think be primarily about waiting, like the disciples revealed to us. Not anticipating any specific outcome, but to avail ourselves afresh, to lift up Christ, our nation, our friends that don’t know the King. It’s about being, resting, and tasting a piece of heaven in a variety of settings.

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It is finished! Gas heats up Cafe.

After five years of documents, frustration, payments and waiting, the Lighthouse Cafe was permitted to turn on our gas heating yesterday!  Natasha, our administrator was in complete shock, because we’ve repeated this ‘routine’ each winter and always seem to come up short with required permits or inspections.  We did meet last week with our friend who works with the gas company, and maybe he pulled a few strings, we don’t know, but we’re so pumped!

Liza Asheichyk from Minsk, daughter of Peter and Inessa is a talented artists we are excited to have with us this week!

For those that have followed our crazy adventure of migrating through Ukrainian bureacracy and corruption, you know we already gas for the Pizza oven (it took only 3yrs!).  However, each winter we have been left scrambling to heat the Cafe, using pellet stoves and expensive electric units.

Today I walked into the Cafe and noticed all the windows were open. The staff had no idea why the place was so warm when it’s a chilly fall day outside. The heated floors had the tile nice and toasty, so we know it works!  It’s now turned down awaiting the chilly months ahead.

So excited to provide a warmer place, and hopeful it will be less costly too!

In other news, Liza from Minsk is finished tracing on our exterior wall some art (hands holding fire of some sort) – she’s begun spray painting! We need a better set of stairs, these would not pass any inspection whatsoever in the west.  Sigh.  Looking.

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Pizza and Recovery

We had a cool time with incoming college students last week during our Pizza Day Event. Pray we are able to once again connect deeply with those who’s hearts are open and love effectively those who are not quite there yet!
Thanksgiving Fest downtown Kiev celebrated Christian themes and over 50k joined a concert at night featuring several International guests.  Such freedom & opportunity.
Our youngest three, good to get them out of the little village we live in to explore the capital city once in a while.  Always happy to get home though, we love Rzyschiv ;0

This week I’ve been attempting to rest my shoulder after surgery. Added to the physical setback and not-so-fun rehab, I’ve managed to lose my voice for the second time in two weeks. I already have such a weak voice, think whisper. Yesterday was a hard day, discouraged by my limitations and weakness.

God’s strength is made perfect in weakness

Some of our crew downtown Kiev – Tucker has surpassed Brent and might now be the tallest in the family at 15yrs old!

What do we do when we fail? Who do we turn to when we can’t lift something, or even talk to someone 3ft in front of you? I’ve been turning to my wife, poor thing. She’s even my chauffeur now – it’s caused a few laughs and she prays its not a sign of the future! 

My new shoulder gear, even have to sleep with it for first few weeks – but on the bright side, they threw in this squeeze ball that my girls thinks is AWESOME – Claire even took a bite out of it already.
My view as Deb drove me around today.  The back seat gives me more room for this crazy shoulder brace – plus makes me feel important.

The Apostle Paul, when confronted with false teachers and accusations pointed to weakness as a sign of his right to speak to the Corinthian church. They had been under the spell of worldly men, proud and self acknowledging. Instead of boasting in his flesh, he affirmed that those who follow Jesus, they have little rights in this world – we are a broken, surrendered people wafting the aroma of Jesus in every place.

I wish I could say that I’ve been pleasant to be around in my physical weakness. I haven’t been. I’ve complained a lot, frustrated at my range of movement and speed. My heart is slowly releasing its stubborn grip. I beginning to thank Jesus that I need not impress anyone, nor perform to be accepted & loved by the Creator. I think this is part of being reminded of our weakness, even our sinful hearts at times – that through this acknowledgment of dependence on others, on Jesus, we find rest in the merits and agape love of Christ – not our own strength.

What deception to find false refuge in the ‘arm of the flesh.’

Strength in weakness. Learning.

“The church is not made up of spiritual giants; only broken men can lead others to the cross” – Bosch


Spent the afternoon, without my brace, working at the table with Sveta, Mir’s new marketing/design staff – We’re mapping out new social media strategy which includes ‘not’ me!  Also a really cool outreach concert event for our City in one month!
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