Tuesday, July 24, 2007

where’s dave?

Yeah, I know…the worst thing in this universe (or any parallel universe, multiverse or metaverse, for that matter) for a blogger to do is not post for weeks. The worst. I just got horribly behind.

SOS happened…which is total overload for our staff and literally hundreds of volunteers. And then I got sick as a dog, as my mom used to say. Fever, chills, headache…I’m really close to bleating again, aren’t I? Then I took some time off…my wife Anita and I went to Florida and stayed in a friend’s house for a week. With no internet there. Spent some hideaway time working on a book for Baker Publishing on outward-focused thoughts that was due last Friday.

Anyway, very, very sorry, gang, for being extremely tardy.

Let me catch up with a few thoughts here about the past few weeks.

First of all, for those of you on the outside, I can’t fully describe what really happened at SOS. Summer Of Service combines our best values at VCC. We had over 700 students come in from all over the Midwest. We actually have to cap it at that to be able to handle the outreach logistics. About twenty-five buses pulled up each day to take all 700 students to locations all around greater Cincinnati to simply serve others: free car washes, block parties complete with games and prizes (everyone wins…), face painting and big blowup bouncy things that kids pile into, mural painting in the inner city, housework for urban ministries, free water giveaways, etcetera etcetera. They do an outreach in the morning, then we take lunch to them, and then another outreach in the afternoon. They come staggering back between 3 and 4pm, have some free time, dinner at the church, and then a worship extravaganza in the evening along with a message. A ton of fun stuff is thrown in as well. Our student ministry gang handles all the speaking including the weekend…which is awesome for me: I get to lead some outreaches and don’t have to worry about writing a message that’s relevant to a 14 year old. The last night of their time with us we held an extended cranked worship set with baptisms…about fifty students decided to get baptized. Beautiful.

The following weekend we launched into the TXT series. On the first week, I asked people to take out their cell phones and text in the Big Question they have about God, the Bible, life, whatever, while one of our worship leaders, Jim Zartman, played a beautiful simple song called To Find An Anchor. It really created the right atmosphere. The questions were profound and at times intensely personal. We took the top five most asked questions and created the series. Adam Dressler took the next weekend and did a great job. Matt Massey, pastor of a church we planted nearly five years ago called Northstar Vineyard, was his always engaging, funny and passionate self. It was great to have him back. Andy Ransdell followed him this past weekend. Andy was sent out from us last January to launch LifePoint Vineyard in Monroe, Ohio. I love his heart for people who don’t yet know Jesus. Andy is a true pastor/evangelist…and a good friend.

Anyway, enough rehashing of history. Let me throw out something philosophical to get the thought processes pumping again.

I want to post something that was truly revelatory for me personally from the last talk I gave. It was the opening talk on how we all have big questions for/about God. And they’re typically driven from a very personal—and sometimes wounded—perspective, such as David’s opening lyric to Psalm 13: "How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?" That’s an intense longing for a personal answer.

But it hit me as I was studying for this that even knowing all the answers doesn't insulate me from pain. I think an impetus for wanting answers to our questions is that it would somehow ease the anquish we feel. But I’m not so sure. Consider this: Jesus knew a lot. He not only knew the “how’s” of life, he knew the “why’s”. He knew how Peter was going to die, but what’s more, He knew why. We are quickly coming to the point where we will be able to know what genetic disease we will succumb to; already doctors can pretty much determine through DNA testing if you’re heading toward Alzheimer’s. Would you want to know that? It still doesn’t answer the throbbing question: why me, God?

Now think about this: Jesus actually knew the “why” but was still referred to in scripture as “the man of sorrows”. He cried at his friend Lazarus’ grave. He wept over Jerusalem. Even if you knew the answer to everything, it doesn’t protect your emotions. Jesus knew how He would die…and why He would die, but still sweat drops of blood and wept in the garden of Gethsemane: “Father, please take this cup away from me.”

Don’t fall for the trap that if you knew the answer to everything—to all your questions—it would be easier to follow God…or to simply go through life. God Himself shows us that’s not the case. That doesn’t mean you can’t ask God questions, He welcomes them. Just remember it doesn’t solve the emotional and spiritual—and sometimes physical—pain we may have.

Now that was a new thought for me.


  1. The man returns! Good to have you back, Dave.

    I think we've underappreciated the degree to which having people back has been good for our congregation. The response to Matt and Andy was awesome... I've had a ton of conversations where people say "It was so good to see them again." That was a definite win, and I'd love for you to swap pulpits with those guys once a year or so. We got a ton out of it, and it would be fun for everyone we've sent out to know that we value them and the pioneering work they're doing.

  2. It was very cool to have Matt back, I had forgotten how passionate and engaging he always was. Andy always has great visuals. I agree with Micah it'd be cool to see them once a year! Glad your back blogging!

  3. our gang love sos...serving, worshipping, caring, having fun...their host bravely allowed 22 people to live in her house...only requirement boys could't use her master bathroom...something to do with rugs and guys?/?/ they came back charged most are doing our summer internship called d-16 serving on Weds various outreaches and training...In my humble, unbiased opinion...the best thing SOS going at CincyVineyard may it long continue perhaps SOS 25...

    Glad you are back! as usual great postings always thought provoking...


  4. I'm very glad you've taken time to refuel and recharge- we all need times like this, how much more our Church pastors and leaders! Don't cut your time short- we miss you but we're OK :-) May God bless you and meet you in your rest.

  5. Everybody deserves/needs a break now and then to rest and refuel. Especially after SOS. I served in SOS for the first time and facilitated 4 car washes. I got to serve with Anita one day, and another day we broke the record with over 60+ cars being washed! What fun! Glad your back!


    PS: How can you post a cover of People Magazine like that and then say 'Don't even ask'!?

  6. Dave,

    Welcome back from your much needed retreat.

    There's a guy who really needs to hear from you. Sounds as if you have spoken with or emailed him in the past. Check his comments under your t-ball theology post...

  7. Dave!

    Hope you are finally feeling better and managed to at least enjoy some of your break in July. Uhhmm, since you were gone and I couldn't ask you in person. . .well I thought you wouldn't mind. . .uhhmm. . .sort of nominating us for a contest in 2008:


    We really do have great bathrooms at VCC, and since they serve as both public restrooms and classrooms (ultimate training ground for business blast servant evangelism) I figured we are a shoe in as one of the best in the country!

    Your buddy!


  8. Nice to have you back, Dave.

    Even my men's group of ten cynical guys going through midlife crises together liked Matt and Andy and Mark. But one of the wives won't come to church unless you're there...so, Hey, welcome back.


  9. I love that last paragraph. after years of battling illness after illness, I've stopped asking why or how. there were days I'd settle for just a simple "what's going on!? i.e. a diagnosis would be nice" I've learned the why doesn't matter any more to me, because ultimately God created me and that means I've got whatever health, skills, etc. that I'll need to fulfill my purpose here, so while some days suck, there will be days when I am able to do just what He needs me to do, as little or as much as He requires of me. (like the days I got to spend doing an SOS outreach and still felt great afterward then another day that week barely had any strength or energy but was able to hang out w/ kids in the nursery so other parents could go serve)

    oh yeah -Definitely glad you're back!!