Last night, I attended the second meeting of a new Christian technologist's group in Columbus, Ohio called Digital Disciples. Digital Disciples is an effort organized by Gabe Taviano to offer a combination of technical training and devotional discipleship instruction.
It was definitely a good time, and I had occasion to meet Kary Oberbrunner, a pastor (at Grace Church in Powell, OH), speaker, and author of several books, including the newly released title, The Fine Line: Re-envisioning the Gap between Christ and Culture. You can find more about this and other books on Kary Overbrunner's website.
Kary gave a talk called "Thy Kingdom Come," which echoed a chapter from his latest book. It was quite moving when he defined three types of Christians:
Kary challenged us to strive at living out the Sermon on the Mount, pointing out that, despite the claims of others, it is truly for today.
Kary and I talked afterward, and I discovered that his ministry, Redeem the Day Ministries is named after my life verse, Ephesians 5:16! It reads,
15. See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise,
16. redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
- quoted from the New King James Version, with emphasis added
Faith, Hope & Love 2008 was great! To see some photos from the trip, check out the Flickr badge in this post.
I finally met Neil Cox after all this time! He's a very humble, likable guy that cares a lot about his passion, city reaching. He introduced my father Samuel, my brother Rich, and me to the local cuisine at the Unleavened Bread Café in Indianapolis. Let me tell you in no uncertain terms that these were the best pancakes that I can remember. If I've had better, I don't know when.
The deeper story of the Unleavened Bread Café is not the food. The breakfast they serve is only the beginning. The owner, Elease Womack, introduced us to the real bread they offer--the real-life, down-to-earth love of Christ. Elease told us all about the "Jesus Hugs" she gives out. We even received a few Jesus Hugs ourselves.
The Unleavened Bread Café, or UBCafé, is part café, part Internet WiFi hotspot, and part church building. The café, located at the corner of 30th and Central, deep in the heart of urban Indianapolis, offers its facilities to several churches and support groups, including an HIV/AIDS support group and a support group for recovering drug addicts.
This is where we first began our short two-day excursion to the city of Indianapolis. It's also where we ended our trip with an all-too-soon farewell.
Don't get me wrong--I had a great time at Faith, Hope & Love 2008! Did I mention, I had a great time? Definitely great--definitely.
The tough part after such an experience is deciding what to do next. That's the hard part--the aftermath of a powerful spiritual experience.
Screwtape, the diabolical character in C.S. Lewis' book, The Screwtape Letters, advises Wormwood, a devil/tempter-in-training, to "work hard, then on the disappointment or anticlimax which is certainly coming..." This instruction is given specifically in reference to the subject of Wormwood's temptation efforts--the "patient"--but it has a broader application to us, as Screwtape hints in his follow-up statement, "It occurs when lovers have got married and begin the real task of learning to live together. In every department of life it marks the transition from dreaming aspiration to laborious doing." (emphasis mine)
My point is, now that I have experienced FHL, I must decide what follow-through is required, and begin the task of the "laborious doing" of whatever God requires of me in response to what I have seen and learned from FHL.
Again, don't get me wrong--Faith, Hope & Love was not a disappointment! The disappointment comes when you try to communicate how great a concept FHL is to people that have never been a part of anything like it. Or perhaps when you realize that it is impossible to capture the entirety of a mere two-day trip like ours in any format sufficiently, whether it be a blog, Flickr photos, or even video. Or perhaps when you realize that your own laziness, busy-ness, and procrastination can sabotage your efforts to do anything substantial in response to an experience like FHL.
This isn't the first time I have experienced such a phenomenon. While growing up, this was a common effect, especially after attending events like Christian youth camps, concerts, or other impactful services. You can't ride on the emotions forever, but with some effort, you can make the impact from these experiences have lasting meaning.
In an earlier post, I tried to egg Neil Cox into attending the Geeks and God Web 2.0 Conference. I had been wanting to go for a long time, but after I made my presumptuous proclamation to Neil, he introduced me to the reason he couldn't consider attending: Indianapolis' Faith, Hope, and Love Week, held from July 20-26, 2008.
Founded By Merlin Gonzales, Faith, Hope, and Love (FHL) is a ministry that unites Christian volunteers each year in a week of community service in the city of Indianapolis, Indiana. Volunteers meet each day for a time of worship, followed by a day of projects helping people in need. Without trying to explain FHL in an inadequate way, I'll let FHL do its own explaining by linking to YouTube videos from their website, fhlinternational.org.
The reason Neil Cox is missing the conference is becoming the reason that I will miss it as well. My plan is to attend FHL week for a couple of days with some members of my family. We will make the drive from the Columbus, Ohio area to join Neil and friends for the event, and hopefully, we can stay for some of the wrap-up festivities on Saturday, July 26th.
To Rob Feature and Matt Farina of Geeks and God:
Sorry Rob and Matt, maybe next time, but keep up the good work. The work that you produce is outstanding and fills a real need in the body of Christ. By the way, if you could tell others about Faith, Hope, and Love Week, that would be awesome!
I'm coining a term:
What ideas do you have for benevolent cybersquatting? Leave them in your comments.
And just to put my money where my mouth is, I'll even kick in some $bucks$ toward his ticket.
Neil, if you read this, I hope you can free up your calendar for July 24-26, 2008. I also hope you can swing a short trip to the Detroit, Michigan area. It would be great to see you there.
If anyone would like to kick in some money (it doesn't have to be much), donate at the link below!
Removed: donation link.
Update: Neil Cox will not be going because of a conflict with something really important and inspiring. See this post for more information.
Nothing lasts forever, and such is the case with Crossroads Connection, a site primarily serving the Crossroads Bible College in Indianapolis, Indiana. Even though it may be gone(?), the people and ministries that it connected with are still going strong.
My father, Samuel Miller, is a preacher and evangelist. He spoke as a guest at my church today. I can honestly say I was proud of him. He did a great job. His sermon's them was "If you only knew...," based on John 4:1-11. Verse 10 reads, "Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” (NKJV).
He brought copies of his new book, Night of Tears, Years of Joy, and he sold a few. I was glad to see this, especially after such a long time spent producing the book. He'll have to sell quite a few more to recoup his investment, but I have a feeling his goal in writing the book was not to make a fortune, even if that were actually possible. Just cover his cost, that's his goal.
Seeing him worship earnestly meant a lot, and it encouraged me to see past my own struggles and doubts. All in all, it was a good Sunday-before-Father's-Day, and I hope that my faith will grow to the level of my father's faith.
God has a remarkable way of creating fresh starts. However, these renewals are only fully realized when depending on His strength and not our own.
So, this is an attempt at a fresh start for xag.org. I want this site to be more than a museum to an idea that inspired me a few years ago. Rather, I want this site to serve a purpose other than my own fulfillment and self-promotion.
XAG is about seizing the kingdom opportunities we have in front of us through the talents God has given by his grace. A gift--every talent that you and I enjoy is just that--a gift! We are called to be stewards of those gifts, not solely for our own benefit, but for faithful service to God.