Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Restore

The time is coming.  Nov. 3, 7:00 p.m. in the South Pole (see map at right) we'll have our first Restore worship time together.  This time of worship is designed to draw people from the undergraduate student, graduate student and faculty groups together for a time of worship and prayer.  As we have been developing each community it has become apparent that we would all benefit from times together.  This time is a ROC family time.

But it will also be unique in that it will be different from the worship times we already have in our Cross Walk or graduate student gatherings.  This time of worship will include a time of communion and a unique time of prayer. 

Since we are part of our culture, we are consumers.  Over the years worship has become another thing for which we "shop."  Perhaps you have heard people say things like, "I just didn't feel like I worshiped there" or "I didn't really like the songs that we sang" or "it just didn't do it for me."  The focus in this sort of language is on me.  However, worship is supposed to be about God not us.  We are seeking to bless God.  We are seeking to offer ourselves to Him; to allow Him to do in us and through us whatever He desires--which often stretches us beyond what we desire.

Worship is also something that invites us into the mission of God.  As we present ourselves to God and offer all that we are to Him, He calls us to love those He loves, to care for those in need, to be Jesus in the world through words and actions.  Therefore, our Restore worship times will be times in which we ask ourselves four questions: What is God doing in me?  What is God doing through me?  What is God doing in us?  What is God doing through us?

These questions will focus our attention on what God is doing.  We will breathe God in, if you will, only to breathed out in service and mission to our community.  We will "consume" Jesus by partaking of the elements of communion in order to be consumed by God so that we are empowered to be Jesus' hands and feet here in Athens and beyond.

I hope that you'll join us for this special time of worshiping our Lord together.  I hope that you utilize the Lectio that Jared prepared for us so that we all are meditating on the passage from Luke 10 as we prepare for Restore.  I ask that you pray that God would Restore us to Himself and His mission as we open ourselves to Him in worship and prayer.  I look forward to being with you in worship at Restore!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Retreat poem

I ended my retreat talk about Ephesians 1:3-2:10 on Friday night with a video clip from a Veggie Tales video, A Snoodle's Tale.  After the video segment I concluded with a poem following the Dr. Seuss-esque approach of the video.  I was asked to share it here on the blog so here it is:

So ROCers of OU and not Gildamanjoo
Forgiven, Adopted and given hope too

Let's hold close the picture painted here by this Paul
That we might extend God's love, grace and mercy to all

To all those in Athens, this town and this county
This country and world to share God's goodness and bounty

We need not wallow in old dead religion
But soar with the angels the Spirit's our engine

Though our hearts may be heavy and sad and frightened
As we give ourselves to Him He can surely enlighten

Our packs stuffed with things that weigh us all down
Instead, oh ye saints, he has bestowed on us crowns

We are His so you see and His love it is real
The down payment received with His Spirit as seal

So don't turn away keep the picture close by
And you too will find the strength of being to try

Your being is being coming from His great goodness
His doing we do - not flowing from should-ness

But as His workmanship we are created
To reflect his life in the world consecrated

Till we all get home to see His loving dear face
We will live to the praise of His glorious grace

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cross Walk @ South Pole

Beginning Wednesday October 13, Cross Walk will meet at the South Pole (under Nelson).  The time is still 7:00 p.m. but the place has changed. 

Don't forget the move and bring friends!  See you there.

Monday, September 13, 2010

cookout and yard games!


Saturday (9/18) join us for a cook out and vard games at the Howard Park site (Howard hall site--the corner of Union and College streets). 

We'll be there at noon.  Come ready to eat burgers and hotdogs, hang out, play some games and just relax!

We hope you can make it.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

ROC intro Pizza Party!

Come join us in the ROC House on Monday (9/6) at 5:30 for FREE PIZZA and hear about the ROC community.  Meet new people, have some fun, eat some pizza!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August e-update: Listening

This month ROC board member, Patrick Wersell, shares with us insights about listening to God:

I often have a hard time hearing God amidst the busyness of life.  I was preparing a sermon for the nursing home a few weeks ago on Jude and my son, Eli, came down stairs.  He asked me if I would play with him and I told him that I was busy doing something right now and could play with him when I was done.  He said o.k. and went away.  About five minutes later he was back, with a ball and said, “Dad watch me” as he bounced it on his hand.  “Yes Eli,” I replied, “Good job, I’m busy.”  Five minutes later he’s back again, flipping.  “Good job, still busy.”  “When are you going to be done Dad?”  “In a while, why don’t you play with your cars for a while?” The cars were on the floor next to the couch I was sitting on.  So he starts to play, and he begins to sing a song. 

Now he’s not even paying attention to me, he’s playing with his cars and he’s just singing to himself.  The song went like this, “Oh won’t you play with me, Oh why won’t you play with me?”; repeated over and over in a soft 5 year old voice.  It took me a couple of minutes even to hear it.  As I sit here typing and wiping my eyes, I don’t think that I’ll ever forget it. 

Needless to say I did not preach on Jude.  I taught on the importance of listening to God; of being able to hear His still, small voice, and realizing that Christianity is built on relationships, my relationship with Christ and my relationship with others.  We often spend so much time doing the “really” important things, that we miss the things that are actually important to God. 

The folks at the nursing home may not have received a heavily researched message on Jude, but they did receive a message from God, and more importantly I did.  My sermons don’t mean much to Eli, he just wants me to spend time with him.  And my intelligence isn’t especially impressive to the creator of the universe. No, he wants the same thing my 5 year old does, to be important enough to me that I will set aside what I’m busy doing and just spend time with him.

Your brother in Christ,
Patrick

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Time with Jesus

The circled window on the 2nd floor of the building on the
right nearest the tree is where I stayed.
I've just returned from a personal retreat. This was my sixth visit to Gethsemani (yes, they spell it that way) monastery West of Lexington, KY. God often grants me insight into myself and my service during these retreat times. This time I was fascinated by an invitation given by the “Guest Master,” Fr. Damien. He invited the retreatants to take part in an “Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.” He said that both Catholics and Protestants were welcome.

When he made the invitation, he stated that they didn't do anything but pray for an hour. He also stated, “If you want to get to know Jesus, you have to spend time with Him, you know?”

I went to the chapel and got there early (around 4:05 p.m.) though I thought I was arriving late. When I arrived, there were already people there. Sitting. In silence. I waited. I read Scripture. When Fr. Damien arrived, around 4:20, he put on a stole, unlocked and opened a box on the wall, and removed a small, lovely jar/bottle sort of thing. This ornate container he placed on the altar and then took a seat. He said nothing. There were about 15 of us there together. A few people read silently, some watched silently, others prayed silently. Everyone sat in silence. (It looked as if Fr. Damien may have fallen asleep a time or two—but if he did so, he did so in silence.)

At around 5:20 another of the monks came in and sat next to me. I thought that it was potentially going to be a bit embarrassing to break the silence in order to explain to him—older as he was with a hearing aid and cane—that he should go up past me when it came time to partake. Since I'm not Catholic, I would not be allowed to receive the Eucharist. Around 5:25 Fr. Damien got up, approached the altar, took the container, made the sign of a cross with the bottle and put it back in the lock box. The “exposition” was over.

I didn't have to explain anything to the old brother monk because no one partook of communion at that time. We just sat with Jesus—we watched and we prayed. I wondered how many of my Protestant brothers and sisters would sit in silence with one another for over an hour receiving nothing more than Jesus' presence. I recalled Jesus' own words in another Gethsemane, “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” (Matthew 26:40) and I thought that three times a week there is a small band in a chapel at a monastery in Kentucky where people are doing just that; silently watching with Jesus for an hour.

Friday, July 30, 2010

July e-update: Haiti & the widow's mite

This month, Jared shares insights about the Haiti trip with us.

"As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 'I tell you the truth,' he said, 'this poor widow has put in more than all the others.'”         --Luke 21:1-3

The story of the “widow’s mite” is likely a familiar one to us. It is found in the 21st chapter of Luke’s Gospel, and also in the 12th chapter of Mark. It is a touching illustration of how God is pleased with true sacrifice, regardless of the world’s standards. Great, but what does that have to do with Haiti?


I think this story ties in very appropriately with the trip two students (Joe Morris and Nate Luke) and I took to the devastated Caribbean nation this July. To begin with, we saw a great deal of poverty, and people in difficult situations. In a country with upwards of 80% unemployment, there is need everywhere you look. It is possible to see the widow’s faith in many of the Haitian nationals who gathered with us for worship on Sunday, and placed their meager offerings in the plate that was passed.

As richly blessed Americans who are rarely found in true need, the environment was eye-opening for those of us on the trip. It is simply overwhelming to see people living in tent cities with no immediate relief in sight. What could we possibly do to help? What could we possibly do of any value?

This is where this story of the widow intersects our story. In leading basketball camps for young neighborhood boys, throwing a birthday party for children at the orphanage where we served, or helping to paint a newly constructed building, we were simply offering up what we had. It didn’t seem like much to us, but God has the great ability to take our seemingly meager offerings and do big things with them!

So when we saw a young boy’s face light up in joy at accomplishments on the basketball court, or witnessed 16 boys come forward to accept Jesus after the devotional on the last day of camp, we knew that God was indeed at work. Though our offerings seemed small, having the faith to give simply of what we have is often all that is required to be a conduit of God’s love and grace in big ways.

I pray that in whatever circumstances you find yourself, you may also be able to see God at work through your offerings. We are thankful for the ways you sacrificially offer support to this ministry, and that we all get the joy of watching together the big things God continues to do on this campus!

Jared

Friday, July 9, 2010

Continuing to reimagine

I have neglected to post for a while about our ongoing summer conversations.  Sorry it's been a rather hectic time.

Two weeks ago Chip led a discussion re. Reimagining the Church Meeting in which Viola argues for a more open meetings (as in welcoming interruptions from members during worship times) of the church creating a dialogue with one another that enables and emphasizes the mutual encouragement/edification that the early church experienced as well as mutual expression of gifts.

Last week we discussed the chapter, Reimagining the Lord's Supper.  Viola argues that the supper really ought to be true to the practice of the early church, which, he argues, was a full meal or "supper" and not a "cracker crumb" and "shot glass" of juice. 

There are certainly things that could be addressed here for both of these chapters.  However, since these have already been discussed in group, I sense the urgency to move on to the next chapter for a couple of comments about, Reimagining the Gathering Place.

In spite of his initial comments regarding his desire to be constructive, the tone of Viola's writing continues to disparage the church in its current form and practice. 

Viola points to the common practice of home meetings of the early church (Acts 2:46; 20:20; Romans 16:3, 5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; etc).  These home-based church meetings are "normative" (p. 94) in Viola's view though he does acknowledge that on "special occasions" they met in the temple and Solomon's porch.  However, the Acts 2:46 text which he uses to support this assertion states that the church was meeting daily in the temple as well as in homes. 

Viola argues that the home is primarily an informal, nurturing environment in which believers may feel at ease and open to mutual participation and thus edification.  The lack of formality that is afforded in the home is seen to enhance the family atmosphere of the church and enable an "unthreatened and uninhibited gathering" where people can be themselves.  Conversely, Viola argues that the formal setting of most church buildings is not conducive to mutual participation but rather promotes a clergy centrality and dependence as well as a spectator mentality.

This is certainly possible.  The passive nature of many worship times in the contemporary church leads us to believe that being a Christian is about "observing" others do things rather than actively participating.  This is a danger.  However, it is also just as possible to be in someone's home and not contribute to the time together.  It is possible to sit passively and not engage.  The particular structure does not determine the atmosphere of the gathering of the church.  The people's willingness to welcome and submit to the Spirit and their engagement with one another in community has much more to do with the atmosphere of intimacy and spiritual authenticity than does a building (home included). 

It seems to me that the focus of the gathering place, rather than whether it means in someone's house, should be on how to enable God's family to be connected as family during the time they are together.

An important point that Viola does raise is the issue of building debt and upkeep.  A closing question to this chapter reads, "Does it bother you at all that Christians spend $9 to $11 billion a year on church buildings, and that many of these buildings aren't owned in the clear, but instead, represent great debt? Explain."  Yes, explain indeed.  However, rather than an issue of gathering place, this is an issue of stewardship.  And that, I'm afraid, is a discussion for another time.

What about you?  Do you think that it is necessary for the church to meet in a home?  In a church building?  Thoughts? 

Friday, July 2, 2010

June e-update: Reorienting

In these days of hand held GPS (global positioning system) devices, there may not be many who are familiar with orienteering with map and compass. I’m no expert. In fact I could probably easily get lost even with a compass in hand but a friend taught me the basics years ago. Though the GPS is much more accurate there is something rather endearing to me about the “old fashioned” way of charting one’s course using compass and map.

There are times, however, when you do need to get reoriented. There are times when you thought you knew where you were but the land marks you see don’t match with what’s on the map. This is very disorienting!

There are also times in the life of the disciple when we need to reorient as well. In fact the initial decision to follow Jesus requires a huge reorientation away from self toward Jesus as Lord. We recognize that we are not God and not capable of fixing our brokenness. We need Christ to be the center of our lives and it is only with Him in control that a true orientation is achieved.

This sort of reorientation is an ongoing journey in the life of the Jesus follower. As we grow in relationship with Christ, the Holy Spirit speaks to us about the misdirected parts of our lives. Hopefully we respond to the Spirit’s prompting with obedience and gratitude and reorient ourselves afresh to Christ.

I have seen this in the lives of people over the years as they have recognized that the direction they were going just wasn’t right. One girl called and said, “I’ve been doing the bar scene and I need to turn back to Jesus and get connected with Christians, can I get involved in ROC?” She did. Another student confessed behavior from which he needed to repent. We prayed for God’s grace and healing.

You enable us to be present for these times of reorienting. Thank you for your partnership whether financial or in prayer. God continues to call people to Himself through ROC’s ministry and we are grateful, blessed and honored to be part of that.

In Christ’s peace,
Rich

PS Please pray for the Jared Ott (and Crystal while they are apart), Joe Morris and Nate Luke as they prepare to leave for a mission trip to Haiti July 5-15!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Witherington on Viola

Jeremy emailed me with the following link.  For those of you interested in other reviews of Viola's book, check out the extensive comments by Ben Witherington III, NT professor at Asbury Seminary http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/2008/09/frank-violas-reimagining-church-part.html

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mark on Viola

I'm trying to post a comment by Mark but there seems to be some difficulty...so I'm trying it as a post.  Again this is from Mark:

Here is what I would say to Viola, via my (sometimes not sufficiently) humble opinion. Putting aside for the sake of charity his opening claim to have been motivated by boredom to pursue this reimagining of the church, and putting aside his claim, which seems incredibly arrogant, that people in the “institutional church” were not being spiritually transformed (a claim that, it seems, would have to entail extensive knowledge not only of the spiritual lives and pasts of all of those church members, but, infinitely more problematic, of how God is acting in the church), I believe that he is well-motivated. He ultimately seems to aim for the church to consider carefully its priorities and its character, to think long and hard about the ground of the church’s existence, which is its Lord, and the saving action of God through God the Son. So far I’m happy as can be.


But here is where the difficulties begin. He starts and bases his whole project on a, to put it delicately, highly contestable assumption, sort of along the lines of Adolf Von Harnack’s late 19th century argument: you have the pristine, ideal church and Gospel in the first century, and then you have everything else. The latter being purely human creations, additions, modifications, and so forth, beginning in the second century. You’ve got the Bible, and then you have Greek culture (among others), which is not only a later addition to and co-opting of the Bible and early Christian faith, but is also neatly detachable from the two (being motivated to do this sort of surgery precisely because of the claim that such cultural “additions” are human creations and harmful distortions of the text).

I would say this is a vast and deep misreading of the history and of the Bible itself (that same Greek culture was in place and at work long before any of the books of the New Testament were written. And early Christian writers, including New Testament writers like Paul, Luke, and John, made plain their awareness of their intellectual surroundings, and wisely deployed a variety of those philosophical tools and concepts to their own evangelical advantage. This wasn’t the Hellenization of Christianity, but a thoughtful Christianization of certain aspects of Hellenism). But, for argument’s sake, let’s give him all of this anyway.

The real, fundamental problem that results from his approach, so it seems to me, is that ultimately he loses the very thing that he wishes to place at the heart of his program: the Bible. I would point out to him that first century Christians did not have the Bible as we have it. The canon of Scripture was not formed until a couple of centuries later, and it was formed (though I may be sitting by myself at the next Church of Christ potluck for saying this) it was formed in conjunction with the early creeds and the apostolic faith that was passed down to those church leaders. They were explicit about this. They had 3-4 criteria for figuring out which of the myriad texts should be seen as falling within the “measuring rod” and which should not: the use of these particular texts in worship and catechesis, their commonality among the churches, and their fit with the apostolic faith (a criterion which emerges from what came to be the New Testament itself, in the book of Acts: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teachings.”) Finally, some also saw antiquity as a fourth criterion for the legitimacy of these texts. And when these early church fathers elaborate on this set of conversations involving legitimate and healthy teaching, they also point to those summary statements or creeds, which were not meant to supplant or “add” to the text, but to articulate it in a healthy way. After all, even when the basic canon was as established as it would get, prior to the Reformation, the church leaders could not simply say, “all we need to do to avoid heresy and remain of one mind, is read the Bible.” This is because (a) not everyone had or could read the Bible, and (perhaps more importantly) if they did (b) those on both sides of the various debates were still coming away from their reading of the text with heretical doctrines (Arius, for example, wasn’t advocating that the church stop reading the Gospels. He thought that the best way to read the New Testament in conjunction with the Old Testament portrayal of God was to say that Jesus was a mere creature). The church’s response had to include a description of how rightly and healthily to read that Gospel. This was what motivated the early baptismal and liturgical creeds, and this was what motivated the early church councils. The church was threatened by division and heresy, and the church leaders had to say something. So they ask themselves, what is the best, the healthiest way to read these texts?

All this to say not only that they were not adding to or standing over the text, but were precisely placing these texts, which witnessed to God’s revelation in Jesus Christ, at the heart of their speech about this revelation in Christ (how one could come away from reading any of the church fathers and assume that they were arrogantly and ignorantly giving in to the pressures of Hellenistic philosophy, I must say I do not know). Moreover, by my dim lights, it seems clear that we have to say that if we trust that the Holy Spirit was working through and using these same figures to make choices about the boundaries of the canon, i.e., from within that same cultural milieu out of which we gain the creeds and the statements of the councils concerning the nature of Jesus and the nature of the Trinity, and so on—which I think we rightly do (and which Viola seems himself to do from time to time)—and if we are to look to these texts, i.e. the Bible, first, as we have been taught by those same ancestors in the faith, we cannot simply discard the other things they said and did. (I apologize for that unending sentence). They made these decisions, with the guidance of the Spirit, by looking to their experience in worship and in the church community, the very stuff that Viola seems simply to discard whole-cloth.

Conversely, if we simply throw out everything from the first century onwards, not only are we failing to see that we have only come to our present position, and to these texts, through God’s preservation of His church down through the ages (i.e., we have come to these texts because we trust God and our parents in the faith who have told us about God), but also that, if we were simply to discard all of this, we would also have to discard the precise collection of texts that was gained through the work of Holy Spirit in that same cultural and historical framework. Of course, this is not to say that we must uncritically agree with everything we’re told, or keep in place every aspect of the church’s historical teaching or ordering of the church (this would, after all, be impossible, as there have been so many disagreements about so many things), or put what we’ve been told on a par with the reading of Scripture. On the other hand, I think Brian Leftow puts it well when he says something along the lines of the following: “Historic Christian orthodoxy represents the best efforts of nearly 2,000 years of Christian minds to plumb the depths of God’s nature. It is possible that they were all mistaken, even fundamentally so. But it would be hubris for a 21st century thinker to conclude this before any orthodox approach has been exhausted.”

I would go on to disagree with Viola’s claims about all hierarchy being an intrinsic evil, and the way that he uses metaphors and specific texts, but others have done so elsewhere, as has Rich, so, as I’m sure the reader is grateful, I won’t bother with all that.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Organic Church

Here we go.  It's a challenge to know how much of Viola to quote because some of you have the book and are reading it, others are just reading bits here.  Therefore, I'll experiment a little and hopefully we'll be able to come to some standard in a while.

In chapter 1 Viola is arguing for the restoration of the church to its "organic" nature as opposed to the institution it has become. 
The church we read about in the New Testament was "organic." By that I mean it was born from and sustined by spiritual life instead of constructed by human institutions, controlled by human hierarchy, shaped by lifeless rituals, and held together by religious programs.
To put it in a sentence, organic church life is not a theater with a script; it's a gathered community that lives by divine life.  By contrast, the modern institutional church operates on the same organizational principles that run corporate America. (both quotes from p. 32)
You can see that when he uses the term "institutional" he is talking about a form of church "a way of doing church," as he puts it in the introduction.  He is arguing that the institution has overwhelmed the natural DNA of the church which lives by the divine life reflecting the trinitarian nature of God which is the paradigm for the church's native expression.
Look again at the triune God. And notice what's absent.  There's an absence of command-style leadership.  There's an absence of hierarchical structures.  There's an absence of passive spectatorship.  There's an absence of one-upmanship.  And there's an absence of religious rituals and programs. (p. 36)
Part of me wants to argue that things may have changed in the church since 1988 (the last time he was in what he terms an institutional church).  Later he suggests that there are certain identifiable features produced by the church's natural DNA:
Some of them are the experience of authentic community, a familial love and devotion of its members to one another, the centrality of Jesus Christ, the native instinct to gather together without static ritual, the innate desire to form deep-seated relationships that are centered on Christ, the internal drive for open-participatory gatherings, and the loving impulse to display Jesus to a fallen world. (45-46)
In this chapter he also suggests four paradigms for church restoration: Biblical Blueprintism, Cultural Adaptability, Postchurch Christianity, and Organic Expression.  I can't go into detail here re. all of these.  He obviously is arguing for the last one. 

In his discussion about cultural adaptability, he makes a point that becomes a very important question for consideration.  "The critical question then becomes which practices of the New Testament church are solely descriptive and which are normative?  Or to put it another way, which are tied to the culture of the first century and which are reflections of the unchanging nature and identity of the church?" (39)

I think that's a great question to ask whether or not you're reading the book.  What do you think?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Summer conversations

This summer we will be hosting a series of conversations together.  As a springboard for our chats, we'll be reading & discussing the book Reimagining Church by Frank Viola.  To say that this book may provoke more than mere chats may be an understatement. 

The first sentence of his Preface reads, "After thirteen years of attending scores of churches and parachurch organizations, I took the daring step of leaving the institutional church" (p. 11).  Reasons?  He was painfully bored with Sunday-morning services and he saw no spiritual transformation in the lives of people in those services.

The purpose of his book is, "to articulate a biblical, spiritual, theological, and practical answer to the question, Is there a viable way of doing church outside the institutional church experience, and if so, what does it look like?" (p. 12)  He qualifies his goal by stating that since the church is actually "the people of God, the very bride of Jesus Christ," he's actually concerned with reimagining the "present practices" of the church not the church itself. 

I'm hoping to open our Monday night conversations up to others via this blog.  If you are willing, please comment on these posts, ask questions, answer questions, raise issues, etc.

So what is church?  What is your experience of church?  Let's "chat."

May e-update: Anniversaries!

It was a Friday night, May 25, 1984, I walked down the aisle on my hands. The preacher of the church there thought I was nuts (at least that was the expression on his face). He probably thought I was going to break something—in the church or myself. I made it all the way down without falling. It was my wedding rehearsal and I determined that it was going to be fun. Connie, my dear bride, was feeling under the weather. She was downright sick actually. She was sipping on 7-up trying to keep her stomach calm while we walked through the ceremony. She made it without breaking anything also.

This year we celebrate 26 years of marriage. The Lord has blessed us with many good memories (in addition to the memories we have of our beginning) and three incredible children. This July 1, we also celebrate 18 years of serving with Reach Out on Campus. Two of our children were born during our service in Athens and all three are Appalachian born and raised (Abby was born in Elizabethton, TN).

Anniversaries give us the opportunity to reflect on past years together. If we are open to seeing it, we see the hand of God involved in the writing of our stories individually, as a couple, as a family and as a community of faith. We reflect on the years that God used parents and friends to bring each of us to Himself. We see Him carefully bringing us together through different circumstances and avenues but molding our hearts in such a way that we were attracted to one another and interested in serving our Lord together. We are amazed at the way in which God so faithfully formed us (and continues to do so) and made our home a place where children are nurtured to walk with Jesus. We are blessed to see the way in which our service with ROC has also formed our family in such a way that we relish the many tongues, tribes and nations that will be present in God’s fulfilled kingdom. We are grateful and honored to be called upon to love people ever closer to Jesus and are so thankful for your partnership that sustains us in this service. Thanks for these many years together!

Friday, April 30, 2010

South Pole comments

We performed a bit of an experiment.  For three weeks we held Cross Walk at the South Pole (under Nelson).  The anecdotal evidence suggests that this was a good thing--great room, nice temperature, good size, great time!  But I'd like to hear from those of you who were there.  Please leave some comments for me here.  Thanks!!!

April e-update: Run With It!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

--Hebrews 12:1

Running takes a lot of endurance. This quarter has been full of activity and we’re only at the half-way point, but the students of Reach Out on Campus are running with perseverance and seeking Jesus all the while.


Our spring retreat went well exploring the theme “Out of the Box.” This theme coincided with our Spring quarter theme, “Run With It!” The students desire to take all that they’ve been learning as a community this year and “run with it” on campus, in relationships and in their own lives.

Consequently, we’ve been on campus for Cross Walk for three weeks in the South Pole (under Nelson dining hall on South Green) and upcoming we’ll have a couple more weeks in the amphitheater of Scripps (outside). In other attempts to “run with it” and be more visible on campus, we had a “ROC” table in Baker Center early in the quarter and a “Who is Jesus?” table at the college gate just last week. The students have also been helping two of their fellow ROC’ers raise funds to go to Haiti this summer by selling grilled cheese and fluffernutter sandwiches on Court Street. Our worship team has also led a time of worship with the Middleport Church of Christ youth after the youth completed a 30 hour famine. They’ll be going down again to lead in a time of worship before the national day of prayer.

One of the undergrad students has also invited a friend into a GIG (God Investigation Group). Jared is meeting with the two of them to talk about the Scriptures and Jesus. Please pray as they continue to meet that all hearts are drawn close to our Savior.

Relationally the students continue to invest in one another as well. They have spent a lot of time socializing and building their community through fun activities that draw them closer to one another. Several of the undergrads will be going to WV on a camping trip together at Eric and Kim Thomasons’ home.

As we all continue to run this quarter, we are blessed that you are part of the great cloud cheering us on. Thanks for your partnership!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Show & Tell

The scene is a first grade classroom. It’s your turn to get up in front of the entire class and talk about the rock you picked out of the headwaters of the Mississippi River during your family’s summer vacation. Ready? Go!

“Um…this is a rock. I got it this summer…on vacation. It’s from the Mississippi.”

You sit down thinking, “Phew! Sure glad that’s over.” So is the class. Where was the zeal, the zest? Where was the gusto? You sat in the very beginning of the great river that goes all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. With one step you spanned the river that continues to host huge coal barges between her great banks. Why didn’t you say something about that? Scared? Afraid someone would laugh? No confidence? Didn’t think about it? I know. Me too.

Show and tell was something my first grade teacher had us do. It wasn’t always fun…but sometimes kids would bring in things that they were really passionate about and we’d all get excited by the story that they told. People love stories. Stories that are told with passion and excitement tend to draw other people into them. Interest is born by the amount of passion with which the story is told.

ROC exists to glorify Jesus through developing dynamic communities that show and tell his gospel at Ohio University. However, if we say something like, “Uhhh….hi….I’m a … I…uhh…I like to go to this….uhhh….Jesus is….well….I guess….” See what I mean?

Some people say that they witness by being nice to other people. That’s great! But really, how will people know you’re a committed Christian who loves Jesus only by your actions? Without some words people might think that you’re simply a Girl Scout or Boy Scout. Showing IS vital! So is telling.

Showing involves being the kind of person that Jesus is. Love, grace, forgiveness, holiness, purity, self-sacrifice, joy, and any other Jesus quality ought to ooze out of our pores and go all over the people around each of us. There ought to be warmth and welcome expressed in Cross Walk and our Bible studies that can only be explained by Jesus’ presence with us. When observed by others wouldn’t it be cool if people said of us what was said of the Apostles, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13)? Ordinary people. That’s what we are. Blessed with more education than Peter and John had but needing the power and courage they possessed in abundance. They had been with Jesus. That’s where the courage comes from. We need to conduct our life as a group together in such a way that it is obvious to each of us that Jesus is here.

But go look up Acts 4 and check out how the rulers, elders, teachers of the law and high priest knew that these guys had been with Jesus. These boys made a little speech. In their response to a question put to them by the rulers, they laid it on the line. There was no stuttering. There was no waffling. They spoke, full of the Holy Spirit, with great passion. The result was that there could be no denying it. Peter and John had been with Jesus.

As an organization and as individuals our purpose for existence is to bring glory to Jesus by showing and telling his story. If we feel unprepared, we need to prepare. If we feel afraid of the response, we need to spend some time with Jesus in prayer and remember that this great work of evangelism is ultimately in His hands. Obedient mouthpieces for the story—that’s what we are. We show and we tell what we know; what we’ve experienced. The Holy Spirit takes it from there. It’s a great adventure. It’s a great calling. It’s our purpose as a group. Let’s do it with great passion and power.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

There and Back Again--a ROC tale

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit…” With these words Tolkien's story of Bilbo Baggins’s great adventure begins. The beginning of another great adventure started in the middle of spring break.


March 24-28 ten of us journeyed from Athens to Joppa, MD then to Sterling, VA and back again to listen, learn and labor. Our time of listening and learning began Wednesday night in homes of host families of Mountain Christian Church. Thursday morning we learned about the passion the Mountain staff has for Jesus’ mission in Maryland and around the world. We learned that their mission, “making disciples—more and better disciples,” drives everything they do. We also learned from the staff of Restore Community Church in VA the importance of living out the values of relationships, serving and generosity. The importance of encouragement and leadership was made tangible through a time of rock climbing in the Great Falls National Park.

But we also labored. We sorted and marked clothes and did various other duties at a food shelf/thrift store called Tabitha’s House and a homeless day shelter both in MD. In VA we helped Restore rake gravel at the Good Shepherd thrift store and helped pack and deliver food to children who don’t have access to food during their spring break.

Those are the details. But the learning continues. On his adventure Bilbo left his hole in the ground and found that the world was much larger than he ever imagined. He found it was a wondrous world and that he had place in it. In fact both he and his nephew, Frodo, discovered that even a person small of stature could change things for the better.

At some point in the story Bilbo states, "The Road goes ever on and on down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, and I must follow, if I can, pursuing it with eager feet, until it joins some larger way where many paths and errands meet. And whither then? I cannot say.”

We hope that ROC students will catch the passion for Christ’s mission in the world expressed by the folks at Mountain and Restore and that they will leave their “holes” and pursue with similar passion the great adventure of being missionaries here at OU. We trust that the Spirit will empower them and use them to change the world as they trust in the One who leads them on this great quest of being Jesus in the world.

Please pray with us that He will do so. Thanks!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

ATTENTION KROGER SHOPPERS!

If you are currently enrolled in Kroger Community Rewards, you will need to re-enroll after April 1, 2010 in order for ROC to continue receiving credit for your purchases.  This is an annual program and participants must re-enroll each year.  Go to http://www.krogercommunityrewards.com/ and sign in to renew your membership.

If you would like to begin supporting ROC this way, you may go to http://www.ohio.edu/orgs/reach/ways2give.html and follow the step by step instructions found under number 4 on that page.  You may also go directly to http://www.krogercommunityrewards.com/ and click on "Ohio" to sign up.  Make sure to enter NPO number 83914 or Reach Out on Campus, select organization from list and click on “save changes.”

ROC will receive credit for your purchases, and it will not affect your fuel perks in any way.

Thank you!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Diversity Fair

Today (Thursday, 3/4) from noon to 3:00 p.m. we have a table display in Baker Center on the fourth floor outside the Ballroom.  If you're in Baker, stop by, say hi and hang out for a while.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lost

1Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. 2But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."

3Then Jesus told them this parable: 4"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' 7I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Luke 15:1-7
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It was an accident. He was right there with us. I assumed that he hopped into the car in which he had been riding to winter retreat. The folks in that car thought he was in one of the other cars. Ten minutes down the road my cell phone rang.

“Is Freddie in your car?”

“Uhhh, no. Isn’t he in your car?”

He wasn’t in anyone’s car. Somehow after the revelry just outside Arby’s, jumping in snow banks, etc., Freddie hadn’t seen the car he was riding in so went around to the other side of the building when we all left.

After I had been called, I called his cell and, because he had run out of minutes, I got a recording about it being temporarily unavailable. What to do?

Thankfully Freddie didn’t panic. He was found about twenty minutes later after his car turned around and picked him up.

This sort of thing does happen from time to time when you have groups of people and multiple cars. Sometimes you go searching and can’t find where you’re supposed to be. At other times the group can’t find you.

You may be assured that on the way home, everyone made sure Freddie was with us. No one was left behind because we were all diligent about ensuring that we were together.

As I walk around campus or look out the window of the ROC House, I wonder how many of the people walking around are actually lost. How many of them are living lives disconnected from Jesus? I wonder what it takes to find them.

We’re giving away cocoa at the gate on Friday (2/26). It’s one of the things we do to express Jesus’ love and His desire to find his sheep. He’s willing to leave all the others of us “found” folks in the open field to find one of his strayed sheep. There are other things that we do in order to be part of this seeking Lord’s mission. We’re grateful that we get to partner with Him in His work.

We’re also very thankful to those of you who continue to support this ministry of students and faculty here at OU. Our financial support team has lost a few folks due to lost jobs and reconfigured giving. The current economic climate is difficult for everyone. Please pray for the many families who are without work. Encourage them and help them as you are able. Please also pray for ROC as we continue to seek after Jesus’ sheep.

Thank you!
Rich

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Beginnings

Lots of things begin in January; a new year, a new budget, a new small group and new leadership training, a new quarter (winter), and ROC’s new Assistant Campus Minister, Jared Ott to name a few. Let me share a few things about a couple of these.


This quarter we have a couple of new small groups beginning. First, we have a couple of our students leading “The Truth Project.” This is a world view study put together by the folks of Focus on the Family. A couple of our student leaders were trained last spring to take others through this material and they’re very excited to begin this time together.

Two “Vessel Groups” (module 1 of our new student leadership training) have also begun this quarter with eight students being equipped to serve the ROC community next year potentially as either a small group or administrative leader, leading Bible studies or planning community events and service. This is a great group of students with whom we are honored to be able to serve and grow. Please pray for these students: Adam, Aaron, Hannah, Greg B., Greg G., Bryan, Jennifer, and Mike. Pray also for Jared and me as we lead these students through the materials.

Jared Ott has stepped into his role as Assistant Campus Ministry with ROC and has gotten off to a great start. As he and Crystal continue to settle back in to Athens, Jared is teaching each Wednesday night at Cross Walk, facilitating the student leaders’ meetings, helping to lead the Vessel Groups and finishing up his thesis. Both Jared and Crystal are former ROCers (and former ROC student leaders). We’re pleased they have returned to serve the ROC community. Please pray for them as they continue to build relationships and develop community with the students.

We’re blessed with several new beginnings this month. But new things are usually built on that which came before. 2010 follows 2009. This new winter quarter has followed the fall building upon what was already learned. Our new Vessel Group members have already been involved in ROC and have shown some commitment to the community. Jared and Crystal were involved with us in ROC’s ministry as undergraduate students and now return “home” to serve with us. This new budget year has arrived because of faithful ministry partners, like you, who enabled this ministry into its 35th year.

Thank you for your part in this ministry. We are grateful for you!