"how bout them apples"

Tuesday, September 30, 2008
What a fantastic weekend, we loved having Nathan and Jeremy up here for a weekend of planning strategizing and an all around great time.

We got to show them tons of the stuff that we have been doing, things that they have only been aple to hear about via phone calls and blog entries. I have been light on the blogging recently becasue for some reason my content blocker has seen fit to knock out the blogger website. So, I am going to try to figure this out so I can get back on the horse letting you guys know what is going on here in Fargo.

I want you to see this article I found and look at city number six under population 150,00-500,000.

We love living here!!

Carpe Diem: Seizing the day

One of the pastors at the church I am interning at posed a question to us today that really got me thinking. He asked us why God has called us to Franklin, TN?

I just got back from an awesome extended weekend in Fargo talking, walking, and surveying the city seeking what God wants us to do and be there. I am so excited about moving there and seeking to share the Gospel with the city and this weekend made me want to fast-forward eight months, but that question this morning reminded me of something. It reminded me that God has a lot of great stuff planned for Pam and I here in Franklin the next few months and if I spend the remainder of my time here counting the days before we leave I will be waisting time and opportunities to be a part of His mission in Franklin.

I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 7:18-24. Granted the passage is not necessarily talking about me working in Franklin, but the idea of embracing our situation really speaks to where I am at. Discontentment and seizing the moment have been common issues in my life over the last few years. Ever since I started seminary it seems I have been preparing for my next step. Whether it was moving to Nashville to marry Pam, or working at the church doing maintenance until something else popped up. It is hard for me to focus on where I am at when the next step is looming in front of me.

We are about 8 months from leaving for Fargo, but that is 8 months where I can grow more as a leader and church planter, influence the lives of people, grow in my marriage to my wonderful wife, grow stronger spiritually, and enjoy the fellowship of a great church.

The answer to pastor Eddie's question for me I believe is this: I am called to Franklin to learn more about church planting, grow in my relationship with Christ and others, influence the community of Franklin and the community of Ridgeview Community church, and to experience ministry along side my wife.

So my question to you who are reading this is why are you doing what you are doing? Why are you working the job you are working, living in the neighborhood that you are, interacting with the people you are? God has got you where you are for a purpose and you must ask yourself what that purpose is. For some you may have to ask yourself if you are using your circumstances for the promotion of the Gospel of Christ Jesus or for your own personal gain.

"there's more to life"

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

We have all heard the age old phrase "just be yourself" and yes there is tremendous truth to the statement, we don't need to change with the prevailing wind but "just be yourself" only goes to far. Think of the missionaries that go to foreign lands and have to do some sort of inculturation. Now you don't abandon who you are of course but you also don;t just blindly say, "just be yourself" you adapt, change some of your cultural defaults etc.

So why do I do this rant, well, I went on a little shopping excursion today. Abby and I have been going to some different places where there is high concentrations of people who do not know Christ. As we are hanging out in these places, I, don't act surprised, stick out like a sore thumb.
I know I know who would have thought that oxfords halfway unbuttoned would ever not be the rage, but as it turns out that has happened. So I pose this question to you, how are you trying to blend into the environment where Christ has placed you. Are you looking for things in you that might be hindrances to those you are ministering to. Now I have to say this isn't saying that you just dress to be cool etc. But it is saying if looking like a college professor could be difficult for the teens you are ministering to then maybe tone it down. If wearing jeans instead of khakis is smart, do it, t-shirt rather than polo, do it.

Thanks for listening to fashion tips by John

Spirit Led Ministry and Pragmatic Methodology

Monday, September 22, 2008
I have been thinking a lot lately about the biblical idea of being "filled with the Holy Spirit." It is a debated doctrine among different Christian traditions, that is not what I have been thinking about. Rather I have been convicted recently that my focus in ministry has not been on being filled with the Spirit, but on pragmatic methodology.

Sadly I believe this is a common problem in the western church today. We are all about strategies, methods, and leadership philosophy and often ignore or forget about the work of the Holy Spirit in us and in those we are ministering to.

What has been so convicting personally is that for the last several weeks, even months, I have been so focused on strategy and methodology in Fargo and at Ridgeview that I have thought little about the Holy Spirit in my ministry. It hit me a few days ago as I was listening to a sermon in my car that I have no clue what the heck I am doing. I am not smart enough, not talented enough, not social enough, definitely not cool enough, and obviously not creative enough to do what I am doing now or what I will be doing in Fargo.

I have realized that the things God has placed on my heart to do are totally above anything I am able to do. Church planting requires someone much more talented, much more intelligent, much more creative than me. Yet it is exactly what I am called to, no doubt in my mind.

Acts 1:8 says we will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon us to be missionaries (witnesses is the same thing). I take a lot of refuge in that verse right now, because without it I would have not hope for what I am going to do in Fargo. All through Luke and Acts the phrase "he/she was filled with the Holy Spirit" occurs and what follows is always amazing. It is my greatest desire to be filled with the Spirit. To be empowered to do what I have been called and sent out to do.

My challenge to those of you reading this today is this: pray to be filled with the Spirit. If you are a believer you have the Spirit, so I am not advocating some kind of second experience or baptism; rather pray that the Spirit would provide you with the power, ability, strength, authority, courage, and conviction to be a missionary as we are all called to be.

"4:30, 4:30 in the mornin tryin to find a way to get back to sleep"

Saturday, September 20, 2008
We had a fantastic night tonight. The Night began with a wonderful dinner with my bride at The OB. We had a fantastic tasting meal, beer cheese soup has become a favorite of mine.

Then off to the Plains Art Museum for the High Plains Reader 14th Birthday Bash. We got there a little late but had so much fun, and yes Abby and I had to wear wrist bands that said Pabst Blue Ribbon, we had a good laugh about that. The Birthday party bled over to Aquarium over Dempseys bar. We had a ton of fun listening to live bands suckin down our sprite and and regular COKE. Then our date ended at a new trendy hangout called Teaberry. A little different but so freakin good. There was a much younger crowd there (high school kids). Yeah we were worn out by the end of the night.

After a quick nap it was back tot he PIT for the Bar rush. I was the supervisor on duty so I took this one especially serious. It is interesting that I am always the one working the line of Bar nights. I guess I move it efficiently. Loren and Rick were great, especially staying till like 10 after to help me finish up some things.

The good news is that I do not have to open tomorrow. I am blessed that Ryan is giving me the weekends off so that I can do some work on and with the Church plant. Thanks RYAN, you ROCK!!

Where else would I

Witness a woman easily in her 50's lay it on so thick with a 20 yr old Pita Pit worker.

Have a guy buy two Dagwood Clubs and add a full piece of chicken to both.

Be cussed out in what was supposedly Chinese

See some of the same people before Noon and After Midnight in the same day.

See a mentally challenged man blatantly pick a fight with a drunks guys girlfriend

See a Drunk guy carrying a sponge Bob toy with him everywhere he goes.

Meet such kind drunk people

Have an ex co-worker come in trashed and be crazy go nuts.

Laugh and Laugh at Loren and Rick.

Get off work at 4:10, eeesh long night.

Pardon the typos I can't keep my eyes open!!

Lending a hand in Franklin

Thursday, September 18, 2008
Ministry is sometime one of the most overwhelming things to be involved with. Just turn on the TV and watch MTV for a few minutes and you will see just how overwhelming the lostness in our culture is. Or maybe watch the news and see just how many murders, drug busts, and rapes there are. If that does overwhelm you maybe you should come with me the next time I go out with Willie Otey from Feed Franklin First.

I went out with Willie today for about three hours. Feed Franklin First is a ministry that Willie started about 8 years ago. Almost everyday he goes to grocery stores in the community of Franklin, TN (where I am interning at Ridgeview Community Church) and picks up the out-of-date bread to bag up and give out to needy folks. In addition, Willie works with churches and organizations to provide food, clothes, and other essentials.

Now I have witnessed poverty before, I spend 7 weeks in India and Nepal just over a year ago and have done some ministry in impoverished areas, but there was something different about today. We were going around to houses that are barely standing, with little or no furniture, and hardly any light. And we are in the middle of one of the wealthiest counties in the United States (check this out). I couldn't help but think, how can there be so much need when I drive by multi-million dollar homes everyday?

Don't get me wrong, money is not the answer to this problem, it is much bigger than that. Poverty is a result of many different things, mindset, culture, injustice, economic issues... As our government welfare system has shown, money does not solve the problem, it rather causes many people to continue in their poverty (this is not the case in every situation, but is overwhelmingly true). In addition, food banks and shelters are not the answer for the same reason as welfare, and my wife works for the largest of food bank in Nashville, Second Harvest of Middle Tennessee. Both of these are means to the end, but they are insufficient at best.

So what's the answer? Well that is what is so overwhelming about ministry, finding the answer. In every context there is a different answer. In Darfur the answer maybe foreign government intervention; in India poverty is ingrained in culture and religion. As I rode around Franklin today I thought of some possibly ideas for attacking poverty:

1) As I rode around today I noticed several younger adults walking the streets. It is clear that if a change is going to happen, it must come from the up-and-coming generation. I go to a church of innovative, talented, and motivated people. There are former presidents of companies, musicians, and technically savvy folks, great moms, great fathers, and great neighbors. What if we got into the neighborhoods in such away that we could start classes and mentorships with some of these young folks. A successful business man could mentor a young kid who is running the street, show him how to do something productive and meaningful; or a mom could teach a group of young mothers classes about parenting.

2) Pam and I went to a mini-conference a while back that talked about creating small, low-tech busniesses that people without jobs can work at. The basic concept is to provide a source of pride in work for people. Poverty has a defeating effect on people, causing them to have a low self-worth. Thus, creating jobs they can earn money at would hopefully lead to a better view of self.

3) Obviously one of the biggest issues in needy areas is drugs and alcohol. In order to attack poverty we must develop some kind of help for drug and alcohol abuse. There are all kinds of programs out there, but there needs to be someway of connecting the people to the programs. This maybe an opportunity for us as the church to step in.

These are only my initial thoughts. I hope to write more on the subject of poverty and the church's responsibility to fight it. For now I want to challenge you to think about your context. For many of you, you probably live in nicer areas of your town and maybe totally unaware of the needs around you. I encourage you to go driving, drive down a street you don't usually take; call up a local food bank or shelter and ask questions about the needs in your community. It is our responsibility as God's people to help the needy, so seek out how you can help.

This is a big passion of both Pam and I and the Fishers and we intend to make mercy and justice and big part of our ministry in Fargo. We will be sharing more about that later on so keep reading. If you have any ideas or insights please comment on this entry, I look forward to your feedback.

"lend them a helping hand"

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

You have got to see this In Forum Article.
I would love to hear your input and also to challenge
you to check into the neighborhood that you live. Also
check out your local new paper there is a wealth of
information right there at your fingertips. Find your
local newspaper and look for the website that corresponds
to it. We need to be more aware.

I already love being an uncle!!!

Monday, September 15, 2008
As of September 14, 2008 at 10:55am my sister and her husband gave birth to their first child. A 7lb 5oz, 21in long baby boy. It was amazing holding him only minutes after he entered the world. Here is a picture of him all comfy in his aunt Pam's arms.

I Have Been Blessed

So I don't know if many of you remember, but we have been looking for a place to go to on a weekly basis where we could get to know a lot of people, and become "our spot." Well, we have been looking around ever since we have been here, and we've finally found it.

Every Sunday night, and at least one other night during the week, we go and dine at Buffalo Wild Wings.

This is a picture from their website with some different merchandise that they sell. But we have loved getting to know the girls and guys at BW's. Emilee, Emily, Nikki, Sam, Perry, and a whole host of other extremely kind and wonderful people.

They have been opening up their lives, and have been tremendously encouraging to us. Now we are figuring out what we can eat, what we can't eat, and that too much fried food can take a serious toll on you. We order out meal in stages, sometimes even a three course meal, so we can stay around for a while. We also try to leave a tip that will take care of our server for the amount of time we stay there (1-2 hrs usually). We absolutely love it, and they have been so fantastic to us. So if you are trying to find us on Sunday night, this is where we will be. We had been going on Thursdays, but we are looking for another time that might be better.

Friends, look for a place that you can go on a weekly basis where people can start to know your order, your name, or at least your face. Show the people that serve the love that Christ has shown you.  Yeah, it is a sacrifice, and yes, financially, you can take a hit but the ripples you can make in someone's life can be huge. Abby and I pay for ours by me giving plasma every week. I give plasma, an area where I get to meet a ton of people, in order for us to go to BW's twice a week, where we meet lots of people. Now you don't have to do it the way we have, but the point is that you need to find a similar outlet. Where can you get plugged into to get to know people who don't believe the same things you do? How can you start to have an influence on these wonderful people?

4:30, 4:30 in the mornin tryin to find a way to get back to sleep"

Friday, September 12, 2008
Well seriously my life seems to pale in comparison to those in Galveston and Southern Texas. Thanks goodness this week will be the last week of the Fri Double and then Sat open. Thanks to Ryan for changing the schedule around. Abby and I are going to start doing more mercy ministry projects on Saturdays.

But enough of that on to the happenings of the evening.

Where else would I,

Be able to hang out with crazy rick and his bushy hair

Get to drive Sara and Adara home, they are a ton of fun

Be officially dubed Super Pita Man

See 5+ of the same people I saw earlier today

Have to break up another potential fight (not as serious as the last one)

Have to help a guy figure out where he was

Turn away a hundred dollar bill as tip because I knew he had no idea what he was doing

Have a guy buy three steak pitas, FOR HIMSELF, and HE ATE THEM ALL!

Have not 1, not 2, but 4 different dudes reach across the counter just to pat me on the back

It was an exciting night not a crazy one but still exciting and now it is 4:30 and it is time to go to bed. 10:30 will come quickly!!!


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Check out the Haste blog for some great news about Baby Haddon!

"And I'm Out of My League Once Again"

Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Well, today marks a very special day for us. It is Abby's Birthday. My lovely bride turns a special 26 today, September 10th. I wanted to write a blog post on how wonderfully the Lord has been in shaping us, and in particular, how the Lord's glory shines so brightly through Abby.

The pictures you see are from our engagment pictures taken in Bowling Green, KY. Imagine Abby even more beautiful and imagine me even uglier (you know it is true).

As we all know, Abby and I uprooted ourselves from the South and went about as far North as you can go in the continental US. She willingly, and with much joy and excitement, left all the things she knew so well and moved to Fargo to plant a church that would reach out to those who do not know Christ.

To let you know a little about what she has been dealing with, she left a thriving career teaching elementary school students--she is now overseeing before and after school care at two local elementary schools and overseeing a staff of 10 or so. She just started to really enjoy seminary on campus and now she is back to the dreaded DVD's. We were a family of two, now we are a family of three (14 weeks along). She left one of the best churches we have ever been apart of to come and visit different churches while preparing to start the ones the Lord would have us start. She left a part of the country where she knew so many people, and could hang out with people almost every night, to a place where we are starting from square one.

Needless to say, she has sacrificed much to follow the burden the Lord has placed on our hearts. She and I talk often about how we are so conviced that we are in the center of the Lord's will, and that he would have us no other place. She has sacrificed so much, and all the while she has shown overflowing joy. She has never questioned that we are where we are supposed to be. Yeah, our jobs are fairly stressful right now, and we come home wanting to throw in the towel, but at the end of the day when we are lying in bed, we always end it thanking Christ for what he has done.

So on this (what should be) national holiday, go to Abby's blog and post a comment wishing her a happy birthday.

The missional aspect of everything I have just written is God's goodness in marriage. He is so good to show marriage in Genesis and in Ephesians (among others). He has fashioned us perfectly for one another. Often times, we are like sand paper to one another, but what he has created and joined together will never be broken. In our calling to be on mission, he has given us helpmates. For most of us it is a spouse that sacrifices much for us and us for them. For some, it is close friends and family that run this race with you. Take some time to go to those who shoulder the burden with you, go to your husband or wife, and tell them how much they mean to you, and how you see Christ in their lives.

Abby, how I see Christ in your life:



evident joy in Christ

unique way of empathizing with people





putting my desires before your own

unfailing love

following me even when it doesn;t make sense

convicting me of my sin

showing me a better path to take

refining me to be gentle and kind with my words and actions

the beauty you show from the inside

caring touch

loving words

There is a favorite song that comes to mind when talking about Abby!


And many many more

It's her hair and her eyes today

that just simply take me away

and the feeling that I'm falling further in love

makes me shiver, but in a good way

All the times I have sat and stared

as she thoughtfully thumbs through her hair

as she purses her lips bats her eyes

and she plays with me sitting there, slack-jawed and nothing to say

[Chorus:]Cause I love her with all that I am

and my voice shakes along with my hands

Cause she's all that I see and she's all that I need

and I'm out of my league once again

It's a masterful melody

when she calls out my name to me

as the world spins around her, she laughs, rolls her eyes

and I feel like I'm falling but it's no surprise

[Chorus]Cause it's frightening to be swimming in this strange sea

but I'd rather be here than on land

yes she's all that I see and she's all that I need

and I'm out of my league once again"

-Stephen Speaks-

"4:30, 4:30 in the mornin tryin to find a way to get back to sleep"

Friday, September 5, 2008

(* remeber this is written at 4:30 in the morn typos are inevitable*)

Yes yes I know I know it is Friday night so for this weeks installment of 4:30 in the morning I will recap the night. I should Add before I get started that this will be the first official Pita Pit Bar night that my name is in red. The name in red means I am a shift leader. So here it is, one of my co-workers started flipping out, encouraging flipping out, when she saw I was a shift leader so that meant a lot that they were happy for me.

Where else would I

Get pulled over by a cop at 12:15 for not using my left turn signal, I won;t tell you the things I had been putting off but he was kind enough to let me off with a stern warning. He chuckled when I told him I had just come from home, had not been drinking and was heading to work!

See the same customers in the morning and then at night in two completely different frames of mind

Be called hommie a bigillion times by my co-worker

Meet the nicest drunk people

See someone doze off right in front of me while waiting for his food

Have 2 guys in a row, be so out of it that they both add so much to their pitas that they are almost 11$ a piece.

Get to know some of the regulars that have started to get to know me and me them

Since schools been back this place has been hoppin. Once again I am so sure on why Christ has placed me at this job.

So it is such a blessing to work at the Pita Pit with some fantastic co-workers and great people coming in. It is so obvious that the Lord has a reason for me being there. If you are in the Fargo area and reading this come on in and see us, we have a great product I think you will love it.

Why it says the time below I know not it is exactly 4:41AM?

Check, Check, Check it Out

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The High Plans Reader is a great weekly magizine that is widely read by the young, trendy hipsters in Fargo. I love it, look forward to it coming out, and I tell everyone to go pick up a copy. It is well done, informative, compelling, and fairly agreeable. But that doesn't take away from the fact that it is really good reading.

There are three articles that I think you should read from last week.

One is about the worldviews of many people that we interact with on a daily basis, regardless of where you are, with a specific focus on the people we meet here in the South Valley.

Two is on a new group that is meeting here in Fargo. I want you guys to see the different groups up here. While this group uses similar language to us, we have very different theology. There is a lot of confusion out there, and this emphasizes that.

Three I have to preface this by saying that while these articles are raw, it is a result of the climate up here, so understand that before you read them.

Go to the website and check out the new articles. The ones above are from last week, and there are some interesting new ones up now.

"We are Family"

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

This has been a fascinating turn of events in the presidential campaign. Not picking sides, (I would pick neither) but something interesting to notice from the McCain campaign is the news about Sarah Palin's 17 yr old daughter, Bristol.

This compels us to think about something. I am about to be a first time father, so these type of things are rattling around in my head. How would we handle the situation? What would we do to prevent such a situaion? Every life is something to be cherished and celebrated. Would we freak out and take it out on our child? Would we become a tyrant and start making demands of our child? Will we express dissappointment in the decision, but also come along side them lift them up when they need it? Will we talk to them about Christ's plan for families, and still encourage them and be someone for them to come to and talk? I know there is a lot more to this than meets the eye, but as my mother-in-law says, "it is what it is, now what are we going to do with it?" There are so many things that can be considered and I haven't even scratched the surface of the issue, but what I want to get across is the importance of communication before and after. There are so many conversations that can be helpful in preventing the situation, however, such conversations are unfortunately few and far between.

The are some clear missiological implications of this situation. In the context that Christ has placed us, how will we deal with people that are going through similar situations? Christians need to be known as people of love. We need to be known as people that help make the sitatuion better, not worse. Am I for preserving the life of the baby and the mother? Absolutely. Am I pro-adoption? Sure. But before that, I am pro-christlike lifestyle. That means abstaining from sex before marriage, along with loving and expressing the love of Christ to those who are expressing that behavior, and also those who have to deal with the repurcussions of that behavior.

It is funny in some of the places I have worked, people are so timid to tell me they are pregnant or to talk to me about their lifestyle. They will chat it up behind my back, but when I'm in the room, they would either whisper or go somewhere else. After several months, they saw that they could talk to me about it. They could seek relationship advice. It took a while, but I became a counselor to them. They would come to me with their issues, and I had the oppurtunity to speak Christ into their lives.

So, the real question is what would you do, and who will you be?

"The Motivation Proclamation"

Monday, September 1, 2008

I spent a couple of hours in Borders today with the intention of working on Greek, but since my computer only works when it is plugged in I grabbed a book I have been wanting to read off the shelve. "The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher" by Rob Stennett is about a struggling real estate agent who, in order to increase sales, begins to market to Christians, claiming to be a Christian realtor. He has lost of success and begins going to church in order to gain more insight into his clientèle. After a few visits, Ryan decides he and his wife should move to a small town in Oklahoma and plant their own church.

I didn't get to read the entire book, but I was struck both with concerns for the Church as a whole, and specifically for our efforts in Fargo. Ryan is clear that the purpose behind planting a church is for people to admire him and also to get money. Obviously he wasn't too aware of the fact that church planting rarely leads to yachts and vacations in Dubai (my dream), but the first motive struck me. I had to ask myself, are we moving to Fargo and planting a church for some other reason than transforming the city through the story and message of Jesus? Am I seeking to create my little Kingdom where people admire me and hold me up as if I am something great? What is my motivation?

I am not going to lie, I struggle with right motivation and pride when it comes to church planting in Fargo. Whether it be a desire to do something great and become a "church planting rockstar" (trust me we have some); or it is an attitude that I am going to be the savior of Fargo, as if I was a gift of some kind.

Ultimately I know I am called to this work and that Romans 10:9-15 is my motivation, yet Satan is crafty and knows that pride is a weakness I have. I realize that my abilities and aptitude is not up enough to be apart of God's mission in Fargo, but that God's call and the Holy Spirit's presence is more than enough to complete all He desires of us there.

My challenge to those who may be reading this is to question your motives. If you are a believer, why do you do what you do? Are you motivated by Christ's example or by desires of the flesh? Do you want people to look at you as a good Christian, or do you wish to be Jesus to someone else? Read through the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-7 and seek out what pure, righteous motives really are.

If you are not a believer, first I apologize for the back example we Christians have been to the person and message of Jesus Christ. Some have said if Jesus came back today He would not be apart of many of the churches here. But also I ask you to consider your motivations as well. Are you motivated by greed (the desire for wealth)? Are you motivated by fame or popularity or power? Why do you do good things? We believe God created all things for His glory and fame, so we can only be satisfied in our doing good when we do it with the motivation to make him known to others. I encourage you to read the Sermon on the mount as well, and the entirety of the gospel of Matthew, you will see who the real Jesus was.

Pray for John and I and our families as we seek to be rightly motivated.