Friday, October 31, 2008


Tonight our backyard was the destination of choice for over 140 children.

We did not do "trick or treat," rather we opened our backyard to the community and two big tractors brought hay wagon after hay wagon full of costumed parents and children.

A roaring fire + pre-packaged "s'more kits" = fun

I was surprised at how many children had never made s'mores. I was equally shocked by the number of parents that had never made them. It didn't take long for everybody to catch on.

I stood in amazement as people mingled with one another and enjoyed watching their children play together.

There were three lessons that I learned this evening.

Kids can eat a lot more candy than I thought. Glad they are going to their own home tonight.

S'Mores are more fun to make than any Wii game. Life's simple pleasures....aaaaah!

The Kingdom of God looks like a roaring fire with lots of friends gathered around.

I did not want everyone to go home...I wanted the evening to go on, but it is now quiet and I can still hear the giggles of kids licking their fingers.

The Kingdom of God is at hand!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I am reading The Shaping of A Life by Phyllis Tickle.

She is a prolific author and has served as the Religion Editor for Publishers Weekly for years. She is a novelist, a religionist, and a pilgrim on the path to authentic spirituality.

She is also a keen observer of American church culture and has recently authored a book entitled, The Great Emergence. It is worth the time to journey through its 150 pages.

But for now I am journeying through the pages of The Shaping of A Life.

Maybe it is an "age & stage" thing. Maybe it is that I am tracking with her writings. Maybe it is because what she writes seems to explain some of the questions that I face.

I was reading along and ran across this statement.....

Reverence may be the road to the sacred

and wisdom may be the natural song of the spirit,

but story is the text of God

and the groundskeeper of prayer.

Reverence the sacred...I want to walk on that road. To often my road takes me through rambunctious alleys and byways. My prayer is that I will travel reverently toward the sacred.

Story....the text of God....I want my life story to reflect His story. To often my story takes precendence over what He wants to do. My prayer is that I will let my story go and fully embrace His.

EM Forster was right when he wrote....

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned

so that we can have the life that is waiting for us.

As a pilgrim, I am learning to let go. I am learning to take His hand. Phyllis Tickle's writings are falling like fresh rain on parched ground.

All of this rain and dry ground is making lots of mud....and that's OK. Jesus did some pretty amazing things with mud.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


There's an old story of a bishop whose cathedral was about to be robbed by a motley crew of traveling bandits. Entering the church, they demanded to see the bishop who was cloistered in his study.

Upon seeing the robbers he was surprised when they demanded the "treasures of the church." He held up his hand and said, "I'll be right back."

The bishop went to the shelter and gathered up the poor.

He returned to the bandits surprise and announced, "these....these are the treasures of the church."

The thugs walked away empty handed.

In the community where I live there are pressing needs all around. The church where I serve is being inundated with calls asking for assistance in these depressed economic times.

Temptation lurks constantly to make judgments about the "less fortunate." We are tempted to look at them and make sweeping generalizations.

I am learning that there is a big difference between "compassion" and "charity."

I am learning that the old bishop was right when he stared down the bandits..."these....these are the treasures of the church."

The scripture takes on new meaning when Jesus said,

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:21

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


After several weeks away from blogging I am delighted to be back on line. Thanks for all who called and asked about Griots Corner. One person asked if the storyteller ran out of stories, and the answer is "no." I have been working on several other projects that I want to bring to life.

Recently I was looking through my writings and notes compiled over the last couple of years.

I found words written in my journal that I copied from a novel entitled, Chasing Francis.

The author is tracing the journey of a pastor who is searching for meaning and direction in his ministry with his congregation. In a penetrating moment, the pastor is reminded that "we have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way." p. 237

With a Presidential Election around the corner, I have been wrestling with whether or not the political process can usher in healing, unity and direction for people who are hurting and broken. My suspicion is that if this were a possibility, then it would be already happening.

I sense that healing, unity and direction will come from those who are a part of the Kingdom of God, from those who follow the King.

The people of God are uniquely qualified to address issues that have paralyzed governments. It will begin as each person who calls themselves a Christ-Follower realizes that they have been "called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way."

This is your friendly Griot, and "I approve this message."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Eugene Peterson, wordsmith for The Message, has a brilliant way of shaping words. Often after I have read his writings, I muse, "why couldn't I have thought of that?"

Recently I was going through some old computer files....sorta of a trip down virtual memory lane and ran across this statement by Peterson.

We live in narrative, we live in story.
Existence has a story shape to it.
We have a beginning and an end,
we have a plot, we have characters."

That statement helps me to understand the complexities of life and it assures me that I have a part in the story.

I thought that I would make several observations and affirmations this afternoon. I just finished lunch and I am in that time of pensive reflection after a plate of ribs at one of my favorite restaurants....(lunch portion size)

Observation #1 It is exciting when you begin to see life as an unfolding story. It is even more rewarding when you realize that your existence is in the shape of a story.

Reflection....If this is true, and I think it is, then what happens in my life and the lives of those around me has a larger purpose. Sadly, what happens to me often obscures this purpose.

Observation #2 Everyone has a beginning and an ending. What happens between those two events really determines the shape of your story.

Reflection...If this is true, and I think it is, then my task is to make certain that all of life is a pursuit of meaning and purpose. To often we focus on our beginnings and miss the moments that erupt in our life daily. Sometimes we get focused on the end of life and give up when there are still many opportunities around us. I am discovering that "being full present in every moment" is a great way to live between the markers.

Observation #3 Plot and characters.....there are plenty of both. There is plenty of drama all around us. The reason is that we live with 'characters.'

Reflection...The shape of your story will change when you embrace the "plots" that arise in your life and welcome the "characters" inhabiting those plots.

How is the plot unfolding in your life?
What about the characters?
What's the story look like?

Enjoy the moments!

Saturday, October 4, 2008



I love that word.

It means...A job, especially a booking for musicians.

Today the band is playing a gig.

It is Applefest, a celebration of the season of harvest and sweet apples.

I am sitting on hay bales arranged in rows listening to our band play.

They are playing music that makes your heart warm even though the weather is cool.

People are wandering around selecting pumpkins, eating apples, sipping apple cider and enjoying the crisp air.

The band is playing, people are enjoying themselves, and I am blogging. All is well.

Enjoy your afternoon wherever you are, and if you are in the area the gig continues throughout the afternoon and on Sunday afternoon.
It is always interesting when you get a chance to be outside during this time of the year. I am loving the toons, sun and the smell of autumn....

Friday, October 3, 2008


The line jumped out from the page of the magazine that I was reading.

The average church stops caring about outsiders after

nine years and never recovers from it.

I tried to catch my breath and think about that statement.

Ray Johnson is the Lead Pastor at Bayside Covenant Church in Roseville, California and he is the author of that quote.

He was alluding to the fact that as most churches age there is an increasing disconnect between those inside the church and those outside. I think he is onto something.

Here is what I have observed recently as I have been watching the "church scene"....

New church starts and plants tend to grow rapidly during the early stages of their development. People who are new know other new people and are more ready to share the Good News with those that they meet. Established churches are just that, "established."

New church starts and plants readily recognize that the church exists for those outside the church and build all of their ministry efforts around that concept. Established churches are sometimes lulled into thinking that the church is about their preferences, tastes and likes.

New church starts and plants are willing to take great risks because the DNA of the church has not been firmly established. Interestingly, the DNA of most of these churches reflects their outward focus. Established churches grow accustomed to "playing it safe."

None of these observations are earth-shattering or new to those that study these matters. But I am stunned when I think about Ray Johnson's statement.

The average church stops caring about outsiders after

nine years and never recovers from it.

The tribe which I belong to will celebrate our 100th anniversary on Sunday. If Johnson is right we have had 91 years of...well, I think you get the picture.

Now I am radically optimistic that the church can not only recover from malaise and the stupor of mediocrity but can thrive in todays culture.

The church I attend cares deeply about those inside as well as those outside. For this I am thankful.

Later in the same magazine there was a statement that gave me hope...

"what if instead of becoming the church everybody wants

to come to, we also become the church no one wants to leave?

Just a thought...

Thursday, October 2, 2008


In just one hour from now a historic debate will take place.

It is the debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden.

By the time many of you read this entry the debate will be over and the pundits will be working full time to help us to understand what they have said.

I plan on watching the debate for three reasons:

1. I enjoy words and I think they still mean things.

2. I enjoy a good old fashioned debate when the stakes are huge

3. I enjoy watching people articulate their thoughts under pressure

Depending on which media informs your opinion the person you support will be a winner in tonights debate.

My fear is that the American people will be the loser in tonights debate. Their interests will be sacrificed tonight at the altar of political expediency.

Here's my final thought before I turn my attention to this evenings' spectacle...

After tonights debate, I will go to sleep and get up tomorrow and head off to work.

I will work all day and come home and have dinner.

And the next day I will do the same.

I really want to believe that somehow tonight will make a difference in the fabric and future of America. Unfortunately, we seem more concerned about style than substance. Sadly, we seem more interested in how people say things rather than what they say.

So....Sarah and Joe, it's your turn.

I'm listening.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Today I went into my local Christian Books and Trinkets Store.

I was looking for a book entitled, The Missional Leader by Alan Roxburgh, Fred Romanuk, and Eddie Gibbs.

I was not surprised by the fact that they did not have it. I was not shocked by the fact that they could "order it and it should be here in 10-14 work days." ( will be here when it arrives.)

While there my eye caught a shadowy black suited figure perusing the shelves. My first thought was that someone from Best Buy's "geek squad" was looking for a book.

Upon closer examination, it was a Mormon missionary. I knew that where there was one, there was another close by. Sure enough another black suited figure appeared and joined the search for a book.

Let me stop right here and ask, "am I the only one that thinks that it's strange that a Mormon missionary would be shopping in a Christian bookstore?" I am not here to argue whether or not Mormons are christians or not. I am not even here to try to figure out what the Mormons were doing in the Christian bookstore.

What I am saying is that it just struck me as being funny.

Then a thought hit me. Would I ever go into a Mormon Bookstore and Trinket Shop?

Curiosity may take me inside, but it would require something of substance to keep me there.

Today a pair of Mormon missionaries gave me pause to stop and think.

Oh, by the way, they bought a book, but I was so busy observing and thinking that I didn't see what they bought.

I know one thing. It wasn't The Missional Leader. It has to be ordered.