Ancarrow..the blog

Welcome to "Ancarrow...the blog," a place for us to share some random thoughts as we help start new churches in MD.

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Monday, January 31, 2011

Taking the Plunge

This weekend, I joined 15,000 other people in jumping into the icy waters of the Chesepeake Bay. The event was The Polar Bear Plunge, an annual fundraiser for the MD Special Olympics. I wasJoined by the Governor, Raven's QB Joe Flacco (he wasn't busy with super bowl preparation), and a team of brave folks from Revolution Annapolis. Since oil spills are frowned upon these days, DJ Pauly D and his hair stayed on the beach assuaged the masses with his "skillz." Seriously, why is this guy famous again? Oh, and random dad in the crowd: why did you put your daughter up on your shoulders to see him?

The water was cold, but the company was good. Really, that's the take home for me. One of the hardest parts of moving to a new place is saying goodbye to people you care about, and who care about you. While I signed up for the plunge initially just to bond with the staff, it felt good to be with a crew of people that it was fun to do something completely crazy with. While I'm guy that doesn't mind going to a concert or a movie by myself (if I really want to see something), it's hard to go through life having everyone at an arm's length, playing phone tag with friends 10 hours away. So often, it's hard to have to explain your mood, or rearrange a joke you want to tell because you're not sure the people around you will get "you" for saying it. This fact is what makes old friends so irreplaceable. However, this day was symbolic of the fact that, in addition to an old crew that I know is lifting us up, God is providing a new crew of people in this season to do life alongside. I'm praying that I will have the ears to listen and love them well.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

"Fell's Grind" and the "grind" of church planting.

Friday night I ate the biggest, most epic steak that I've had in some time, courtesy of friends who hooked us up with gift cards (and PNC points - quick plug), and some family members who were willing to take my two little monsters for the night. The times of refreshment with my wife, and the ability to allow her to further explore Baltimore's Inner Harbor and Fells Point, were invaluable to me. Though we've been married since 2003 (dating since 2002), I think I can count on my hand the number of times that we've been able to spend time in Baltimore. Though location would not have mattered in the end, being in a place that I've loved since childhood with a woman that I've loved throughout my adulthood had great significance to me. So, thanks Amber, and thanks Baltimore. A special plug for "Fells Grind" - we had a great cinnamon roll with some phenomenal coffee. Check it out if you're in Fells point. Also ,Thanks to those who made this possible - Mom, Dad, Uncle Matt, Aunt Belinda, and PNC. Also, thanks Mike & Jess - it was pretty cool to have an impromptu lunch when we met up in the harbor.

The need for a recharge of my spiritual battery to me was evident on Sunday morning @Revolution. Let me start by saving that we had another Great Sunday - great conversations after the service, great worship together; really, just a great morning. However, it was a challenge. It was the kind of morning that would have been great for someone who thinks church planting is cool because they read a book or went to a conference...because the morning was an uphill battle. It was freezing outside for load-in, which was shorthanded, equipment wasn't working properly, and we found ourselves late in the game doing some last-minute training when one of our morning leaders got called into work. In the end, it's a totally worthwhile endeavor, but one that comes with some fine print that often get looked-over by the young or overly ambitious. When you see your favorite church planter at the next Catalyst event, think of the people around him who loaded and unloaded trucks, stayed late so that he could have conversations with hurting people, served in children's ministry because of the vision, not just because they love kids, or were willing to step into any hole at moment's not because the planter was negligent, but because a last-minute need arose. Today, those are the people I'm praising God for...because those people were the biggest blessing to the Kingdom yesterday @Revolution.

Quick Suggestion: I spoke in the first paragraph of those who blessed us huge-"little" ways. If you have some you know who's a missionary or doing a kingdom work that is emotionally draining, and you're looking for additional ways to breathe life in them outside of the "fundraising" element, here's some suggestions. Here are some little things that have been HUGE for our family in this transition (and what I've seen by observing our staff).

1. Do not neglect praying for them. Let them know it too.
2. Look at little ways to bless them - gift cards, groceries, cheap dates night types of things
3. If #2 is more than you are able to do, consider even a cup of coffee and a conversation that doesn't begin with, "I need you too...." or "Can you..."
4. Take their kids for the afternoon, the evening, the weekend. Name your weekend - don't wait on the missionary. Make them unload.
5. Go visit their location and serve anywhere they need.

Oh, and I may be ordering a cheesehead today.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Local Revolution Reflections, Night 1.

Grew up in Portugal, lived in Argentina...
Recently moved from South Carolina...
Grew up in a former Soviet state...
Former Annapolitan who just moved from Atlanta...
Grew up in DC, awaiting housing after brief stay at a local shelter..
Just moved from Kentucky...
Just moved from Indiana...
And a bunch more stories I didn't get the chance to hear, yet...

The phrases above describe just some of the starting points of folks whom we will try to love, encourage, and be on mission with as a local revolution (Revolution's name for small groups). Tonight, in closing our group in prayer, one of our members thanked God for His providence in bringing all of us together to this city for this season and time. After all, these are not folks who could have been assembled based on an "affinity" outside of the desire to pursue theLord; I mean, my guess is that several would hate my favorite bands, movies, and TV shows. Some would probably stink at ultimate frisbee, and I'm not sure how much we would really understand one another's professions, hobbies, or standard small talk "go-tos." What we have in common is a love for the Lord, and a desire to see His glory made known in our city.

For me, there's not better place to start. Let's go.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Not trying to sound like a religious creeper, but...

I woke up this morning with the feeling like there was a cloud over me. I found it hard to describe to anyone how I felt. At first, it felt like maybe I just hadn't had my coffee soon enough - or that I was dreading listening to the Jets/Rex Ryan lovefest on Mike & Mike this morning - a normal staple (though I'll avoid it this week thank to Rex Ryan and the inevitable Steeler lovefest that will ensue this week).

You may think it was because things went horrible yesterday...they didn't.
In fact, yesterday was my favorite, and in my opinion, the best Sunday we've had at Revolution.

And I'm convinced today that the two are connected.

With great spiritual victory comes much spiritual battle. Ephesians 6 comes to mind. Also, look at Elijah in 1 Kings 18 & 19. This should not be shocking or unexpected. So, why is it always shocking and unexpected to me? I find myself today trusting in God to refresh my spirit as I spend time with Him in prayer. additionally, I'm grateful for an understanding wife, strong black coffee, and the ability to escape ESPN's love affair with all that I abhor about sports on a Monday after one of your favorite teams loses to a team in their ratings-base.

I'm grateful to be part of the fight, and am willing to die with my boots on.