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A Rolling Series of New Beginnings

Life is a rolling series of new beginnings that we often fail to acknowledge. It seems that life can be viewed one of two ways, as a series of conclusions, or of beginnings. With the deluge and overlapping story lines of our lives, every day we are rolling through these points. Points that can be viewed either way.

Over the last many weeks I have been watching my own life, and those lives intertwined with my own, to see how we view these moments. There have been many big changes in my life this year that fall into this category: my dad’s passing away, changing churches, and bringing on staff to help Fresh Vine grow (amongst smaller stories). The same goes for my friends, but I won’t write of them here.

I try to look at each of these being the beginning of a new story. My dad’s passing starts the story of my life continued without his council and smile. Starting to attend Mill City has been the beginning of many new friendships and opportunities. Fresh Vine is a different organization than it was a year ago (two new employees, many new clients, amazing opportunities, new branding, and more exposure).

Looking at scripture this plays out as well. When Adam/Eve fell in the garden it was the beginning of the story, not the end. When Christ died on the cross it was not a conclusion, but another beginning. There is life after the fall, there is life after Christ, and there is life after death. This is not mystical hogwash, but reality. Yet many want to look at Christ as the end of faith, yet I believe Jesus saw himself as the beginning and means to a new life. The life that God intended from the beginning and was never possible before Christ. Even death is a new beginning, eternity is not an end but another beginning. There are no last pages in life, only starting points to what is to come.

Starting points call us to live each moment with excitement for where the story goes next.
I can promise you it will be good, bad, and ugly – and I can’t wait.

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My Dad: My Eulogy

Update: Here is the audio of my eulogy

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I have a lot of great memories with my dad. Great trips all over the world, more good meals then I can remember, and at the end of the day a man who was there for me. When my brothers and I were little kids he was teaching us how to swim on Saturday mornings – also known as mom’s time off.

As we got older it was bike trips all over the Midwest with my brothers. As we continued to get older we got introduced to the game of Golf. It took years but I still remember the first time I ever beat my dad, and while the details are fuzzy now I know that there was a great excuse as to how that was possible.

We also took several Spring Break ski trips out west with my cousins. They were weeks with five boys and my dad for skiing and shenanigans. There was one time when the five of us boys were exiting the plane a woman stopped my dad and asked if all five of us came from one woman. He turned around to her, smiled, and told here it was two women. He just left it at that, being in Utah and all.

Another night after dinner at a local Park City BBQ joint my older brother Ryan did what older brothers do best, and started punching me in the street – completely unprovoked I promise – and I called out to my dad for helping saying, “He’s beating me in the street”.  My dad responded to this situation by telling me I was grounded.

It took over a decade for my dad to later admit that this was in his top 5 parenting mistakes. But it was OK because it made for a great story. Just like the time when I was 15 and I drove the golf cart we were sharing into a pond. My dad was an extremely gracious man.

This is really where I wanted to get to, my dads graciousness. Most of you would have no reason to know that I struggled with depression and suicide. Along with this I struggled to understand the decisions my parents made that caused my dad to travel as much as he did when I was growing up. At the time I could not really understand it – so I placed a lot of blame on my dad. For a few years I couldn’t even call him dad because it was to hard for me, so he became Mike to me.

As I grew in my faith with Christ there became a day when I knew that I needed to forgive my dad for what I hurt I believed he had caused me, and to take steps to reconcile my relationship with him. This was in 2005. To my great pleasure the man who I had avoided and the relationship I had abandoned was there waiting for me. In the same way the prodigal son returned to his dad, I returned to mine. Granted I knew just how to get on his schedule, ask to meet him on the golf course. Ever since that summer our relationship has grown deeper, and for me it was a second chance I knew I didn’t deserve.

Many people wonder what faith is, people study and search their whole lives for it. They want it to be mystical, incomprehensible, unobtainable, and beyond the grasp of all but a few. As a seminary student I can attest to the number of books written on the subject. Yet in Mikes gracefulness, in my dads gracefulness he made real one of the key characteristics of God Himself. My dad was a man with a deep, yet reserved and quiet, faith. It was this faith that made him the man we all loved.

In the time since that summer my life has change quite a bit. I fell in love with the love of my life – Jordan, and got to witness the excitement that adding her to our family brought him. My dad has been a long time advocate of my different business ventures, and was a mentor and supporter of mine as we launched our software development company – Fresh Vine. And most of all, seeing him gain a passion for the French people to come to know and love Jesus – whom Jordan and I feel called to live with and minister too – gives me a joy that I cannot begin to describe.

There are many things that my dad will miss out on – us buying our first place, the birth of our children, spoiling those children and ruining many dinners with candy, seeing us move to Paris, start our life there, and starting the first of many churches there. Yet for me, I got a second chance with my dad that exceeded my every hope and prayer. A second chance that was far better than the first chances most people have with their fathers.

And now, for my dad, his faith is now his reality. And someday when we are all raised from the dead, I know he’ll want to play a round of golf and grab a beer. I only hope that he doesn’t get too much practice in before we meet again. I really liked beating him.

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[vimeo 11687568]

A week and a half ago we had our very first meeting of Ignite on May 9th (this will be the monthly college rally for students in the twin cities and at substance church starting this fall). The whole idea of this night was to give a taste of what we hope to do this fall. This way we could get some good media to use in promotions, get some word of mouth buzz, and help us refine our approach.

The message from that night was recorded, and I believe it went pretty well. I would love your feedback (in the comments or via email). So please let me know what ya think of it! The scripture part at the beginning actually took place during worship before the announcements and my message. This was the first time I had a part in the entire production of a service (and not just the message). It is pretty cool how much creativity one can pour into that 75 minutes.

I hope you enjoyed it and found it encouraging. I got help writing the message from Mike Svoboda, awesome feedback from Mark Mellen and Bill Svoboda and I did all the graphic and video editing this time around (filming help from Gabe Hymer and Jordan Prins). Looking for people who would like to help with the creative stuff this fall.

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Sun Setting on the American Century… Really?

According to a new government report, America is doomed….

The next two decades will see a world living with the daily threat of nuclear war, environmental catastrophe and the decline of America as the dominant global power, according to a frighteningly bleak assessment by the US intelligence community.

“The world of the near future will be subject to an increased likelihood of conflict over resources, including food and water, and will be haunted by the persistence of rogue states and terrorist groups with greater access to nuclear weapons,” said the report by the National Intelligence Council, a body of analysts from across the US intelligence community.

Via the Times Online – Link

While i wonder about some of the content of the article (mainly if the world is going to regress back to a fight over basic needs, America hold the vast majority of the worlds arable land and fresh water supplies). Here is to living in the worlds bread basket with over 10,000 fresh water lakes!

So lets look at the numbers shall we. [Read more…]