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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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Church to be Named...

There's no bad ideas in brainstorming, right?  Here are some submitted names for the Baltimore City Project that didn't quite make the cut. Which of these potential church names is your favorite?

1.  Christ Ripken Church
2. St. John's Hopkins House of Mercy and Hope
3. First Church of Immanuel Ben Carson Baltimore
4. Church of the Star-of-Bethlehem-Spangled Banner
5.  Armour of God Church
6.  Domin-O-Say-Can-You-Sea-of-Gallilee Church
7. Baltimore Church of Praise God, Hail-Ray-Lewis!
8. I'm-Not-Even-Greek Orthodox Church of Baltimore (Wire references FTW)
9. Plague of Locusts Point
10. He-Gave-it-all-timore

-Courtesy of Dr. Ken Camacho. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

These Days

Here's an update on what our life looks like these days...

  • Finishing well at Revolution. We are eager to begin working on this new church. However, we are working hard to leave well in Annapolis. The move into the elementary school (logistics & volunteer team expansion) was my last "major" project.  There are, however, ongoing loose ends to be tied up. This will continue to be a balancing act, as Revolution deadlines are already beginning to intersect with new "the Church with no name in Baltimore" deadlines.  The lack of a name demonstrates one of those deadlines. We love Revolution, and are committed to finishing well. 
  • Enjoying Baltimore. Rhythm and routine are important to all families - but we feel that's especially true of us. We knew B'more very well before we lived here, but are discovering new things we love about the city every week. This will only further refine the kind of church that is planted here in 2013. 
  • Being a good neighbor. We are trying to learn the names of the people on our block. We're figuring out who is outgoing and loud. We are learning who doesn't like the "new" side of the neighborhood.  While this process can sometimes be daunting, it's also pretty fun.
  • Hosting a home group. Each week, there is a group of us gathering to study God's word and live in community with one another. This has been a huge blessing. 
  • Getting involved in the community. There are a variety of ways to do this. I've coached soccer, Amber is active with the PTO and has applied to substitute teach. We frequent some restaurants and coffee shops, trying to figure out how others who live here perceive the community. 
  • Talking about Baltimore City & the new church with whoever will listen. In the past month, we've been able to connect with big & small crowds in a variety of places from the Northeast to the mid-west. Some times, it's yielded the sounds of crickets. Other times, it's yielded prayer. It's even brought us a few potential team members.
  • Hating the Steelers. It's Steelers week, you know. I always, and still do, loathe the black and gold, despite the respect I have for the organization. 2 of the next 3 Ravens games are against the Steelers. The Ravens D isn't what it was, and Flacco is inconsistent on the road. The next three weeks are for the division. GO RAVENS.
  • Getting away. As this year comes to a close, I realize that I have run at a blistering pace. While I traveled much, I rarely took time off. I've been trying to remedy that a bit before we are in full-on prelaunch mode. We'll get away this weekend to celebrate Amber's birthday, and will spend some time with family over the next few weeks. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Happy Birthday, Revolution.

This weekend, Josh Burnett and I will head to NYC to teach a Church Planting Class for students at Ozark Christian College. While I am mostly apathetic in the "what is the most awesome of the Bible colleges," I think this class is one of the cooler opportunities out there. We'll have an opportunity to teach and share stories about what God is doing here in MD. Additionally, we'll be able to do the "If I could turn back time..." segment, and hopefully spare at least one teachable person a heartache or two.  If you can forgive my Cher reference, please continue reading.

We officially started this journey two years ago. I can remember when Tim, Josh and I sat at Panera the day after launching Revolution Annapolis, wide-eyed and exhausted, thinking, "what are we going to do now?" Faces have changed, teams have grown, and I'm now just a little over two months away from the full time work of venturing out to start a new church. There is so much to celebrate. Some days, I think we're starting to figure it out. Other days, I know we're not even close.

Maybe it's because my time at Revolution is coming to a close. Maybe it's because I haven't written in two months and I don't feel like writing another blog about how October was strange in its massive amounts of travel, the death of my grandmother, and the preparation for Revolution's move into a new facility.. Maybe it's because I don't want to spend my time thinking about what to name the church in Baltimore (if this was easy for some of you church planters, please share your secret). Regardless of my motivation, here are my favorite Revolution memories so far, in descending order:

5. Feed 40K. There have been bigger feeding events since, but the line of people continuing to come in the door will forever be burned into my brain. While logistically it was my worst nightmare (as a details guy), in my heart I've never been so overwhelmed by seeing people come together to do something.

4. Preaching my first sermon at Revolution. Largely, I remember this because when I closed my eyes to pray, an angry, intoxicated man rushed the stage and threw a note at me.

3. A night of LR when Dr. Kenny Camacho used American Transcendentalism to clarify doctrine.

2.  Revolution's first baptism service. I can remember being  blown away by the spontaneous applause in the room .

1.  Two friends standing in front of the church sharing how God saved their marriage.

Revolution has many more great moments in its past - and plenty of other great moments to come.  Happy Birthday, Revolution Annapolis

Thursday, August 23, 2012

First Month in Bmore

Exactly 23 days ago, we took the next round of steps to planting a church in 2013 . We moved to Baltimore City. While we will remain with the staff of Revolution Annapolis through the end of the year, we thought this move would give us a glimpse of one possible church planting scenario in 2013 - which is planting a church in South Baltimore. This is an area we certainly have a heart for, and one that we think is ripe for a new church. However, having never lived in a city, we found living here first to be a necessary piece of our cultural research.

Finding a house to live in proved to be a terrific challenge. We looked at numerous places, and made a a variety of offers on the ones that didn't look like college dorm rooms or dungeons. One rejected us because we had kids - another because someone outbid us. The process was exhausting, particularly when presses against the tapestry of Emery needing to start 1st grade somewhere this Fall. When we finally found a place, (right next to the park and school we wanted to be nearby) a neighbor told us that we were unsafe - and had not business moving our kids here (right in front of my kids, by the way). While we see things a bit differently than this person - it was an off-putting start to our adventure. 

No matter how prepared you seem to be,  moving is emotionally and physically exhausting. We're coming out of the clouds - and starting to feel human again (just in time for the Honda to break down - woot). We're figuring out our neighborhood - what we like, what we don't, and where we fit.  I've been to Baltimore probably over 500 times in my life - but as with any place, it's different when you live there.

Here's what we love so far.
1. Walkability.
2. The O's. By the way, it's almost September - and the O's are still alive!
3. Harborcue
4. Emery enjoyed her open house and is excited about school.

Here's what's hard so far.
1. Figuring out where we fit in with the neighborhood. We have met other families, but none are on our block.
2. Parking.
3. As of today - the Honda. It needs major repairs (Head Gasket -boo). Decisions need to be made.

Pray for us in these ways:
1. To build a rhythm as a family that allows us to finish well at Revolution while engaging our new neighborhood.
2. Cultural Agility
3. Wisdom, vision, and discernment as we begin the next phase of our plans for 2013.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Dresser & Bed Frame

We need to share a few more pieces of furniture with the rest of the world prior to our Aug 1 move to Baltimore. email me at to declare them yours.

6 Drawer dresser - originally purchased from Value City Furniture. Dark Cherry "Caribbean Breeze" finish - Made by Progressive Furniture, Inc. Mirror is detachable. Dresser dimensions are 5 1/2 (w) X 2 1/2 (h). Mirror dimensions are 3 ft, 7 in (w) by 3 ft, 3 in (h). Bed frame is a queen size sleigh bed - mattress & box spring NOT included. Head board is 4 ft. tall.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Life is going back into boxes.

Today, I made the drive to Ikea only to figure out that the item I went searching for was not in stock. Minus great seats at the O's game (game not withstanding), that was symbolic for the way today has gone. As soon I got there, I remembered that I could have checked the stock online. 

Life has been a grind this week. Our life is getting packed up into boxes to move into a house that, as of right now, still hasn't returned a signed lease on their end. Is it a big deal - yes, only in that we still have to get Emery registered for 1st grade somewhere over the next few weeks. The large kitchen table we've had for our whole marriage is getting tucked away at my parents house, in the event that it may be "too large" for our space. The reality of the unknown is getting more real.  The 'next step' that seemed so far away when we moved here in 2010, is inching closer and closer. While excited, I find myself having to constantly, daily, preach the gospel to my push up against the safety, security, and checklists efficiently falling into place. 

The upside of the White Marsh visit to Ikea, which resulted in no money spent (minus the tunnel), is that it helped me remember. After all, it was a 2008 visit to White Marsh that was a catalyst to this journey. I tried to, even just a few minutes time, recall things that God had done in our journey up to this point: 
  • Meeting Josh at an Assessment; getting a job I wasn't looking for 25 miles from where I wanted to plant.
  • Northview accepting, celebrating and supporting that move. (and continuing to)
  • Our House in Indiana selling
  • Revolution at one service. Revolution at two services. 
  • Meeting Jeanne, John, a crew of people from UA, and others, all who challenged me to think differently.
  • providing a great network of friends at Revolution 
  • a fireside chat at an Orchard Retreat that breathed a ton of courage into me. 
  • Providing partnering churches for a 2013 church plant. 
This is the 60 second, lighting round, version. As I lay down tonight, I plan to keep going. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Some Downsizing for Baltimore

In a couple of weeks, our family will move into a new rowhome in Baltimore City. As a result, we are trying to sell some pieces of our life that will not fit well into our living space. I've posted the links from facebook. If either you or someone you know is interested in one or more of the pieces and would like to make an offer, please email me at

Friday, July 6, 2012


Despite now being gone for almost 2 years, the folks from NCC do a great job of updating me with what's going on in their ministry on the West side of Indy. Over this time, we've had the privilege of celebrating some cool stuff that's happened since I moved to MD.  Today, we mourn (and celebrate) the loss of a friend. 

Every church has their characters. Jack was one of Northview's. Sometimes he called me "Opie," other times "the riff-raff (or some variation therein)".  The only time I ever got to church before him was when he or his wife was struggling with health problems. Once I went to church at 5 a.m. - looking for a quiet place to prepare for a sermon. Jack was there, turning on lights and brewing coffee so strong that all who drank it grew chest hair. When you couldn't see him, you could hear his cowboy boots clicking down the hall.  If you found him, he'd taunt you for being late, ask you if you earned your keep, tell you a story (he had a story for every place I've ever visited), and then say, "welp, let'cha go."  

There are some more famous moments too...strangely, all of which I seemed to miss. Most of them moved Jack from "character" to "legend." There was the intentional flashing of a pastor visiting him in the hospital. There was his love of leisure suits. Most famously, the desire to do automotive repair work in swimsuits that would not be "CIY-approved;" then, later using that same swimsuit, coupled with cowboy boots, being worn to mow a friend's yard. 

Jack will always remind me of the beauty of God's kingdom - the simple truth that God uses an amazing blend of people to bring glory to himself. In a world where Cookie-cutter Christians enter the church sizing up one another and asking to be entertained, Jack's "irreverent-reverance" for the Lord, and His church, was a breath of fresh air. 

Thank you, Jack, for being a genuine follower of Jesus. 
Thank you, Jack, for the bear hug you gave me last month in Indiana. 
Thank you, Jack, for beating me to church almost every Sunday of our 9 years together.
Thank you, Jack, for making the coffee and unlocking the doors. 
Thanks you, Jack, for standing by those same doors to greet our guests. 
Thank you, Jack, for asking me how I was doing - and meaning it. 
Thank you, Jack, for being yourself. 

Well done, my friend. Welp, let'cha go. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

What is the Solution?

Al Roker was in Baltimore AND the O's swept the Pirates. What a big day for the city.  I celebrated with a crab, Mac & Cheese hot dog at Camden Yards. Sorry friends, I'm not yet to the point with instagram where I'll take a picture of every meal I eat.

On another note: I heard this today and could not stop thinking about the possible implications- .  

"The culture is us. It’s you. You’re a participant. How could you possibly be the solution.”

Praise God. 

This has been my biggest struggle over the journey of church planting. I didn't have to grow to love my location. I've loved Maryland all my life. My biggest journey is this: what do we have to offer ANYBODY - (them, us, rich, poor, black or white). It's not that I don't know my giftedness; this feeling isn't some exercise in false humility. Simply put, the journey to church planting has been an opportunity to pull the curtain back from the daily "churchy" life we were living and ask ourselves: "what impact are we really making?" Are we busy shuffling another group of Christians from one church to the next - trying to create the best show of preaching that "feeds" the loudest group of people on the communication card? Or, are we really helping people under the gospel, exposing the fruitlessness of idolatry and the hope that is found in Jesus.  

Whether it's in the context of the "safe" suburbs, or in the vastness of the "scary" city, there's a huge difference between being a church that celebrates the solution and being a church that acts like it is one.  The failure of EVERY man-made institution to address the real needs of a city in dignity based ways is obvious. May our new church be not just another man made institution.  

Friday, June 1, 2012

I'd send you all that I'm thinking

After an evening of singing medley of 90's R & B tunes to celebrate our 9 year wedding anniversary, the month of May comes to a close. Oh KC & Jojo, thanks for saying what we all feel.

Here are a few highlights from the month gone by: 

To start the month, I spent a weekend in Brooklyn with the Church! of Park Slope. This church launched by starting not just a church, but a cafe right along the main street of Park Slope (Postmark Cafe). It  is a great church with a great coffeehouse. Brad and Joy are great examples of how to be the church in a place that's less than welcoming to their picture of church. Every time I was in the cafe, it was busy with people from the community.  The church gathers on Sunday morning at a local community center, but has recently started a Sunday night service at the cafe. This evening service (appropriately called Dinner Church) was a great time of discussion. As we went through the service, there was a steady stream of folks who stopped in, thinking the cafe was open for business. While none actually stayed, it was a great indication of the presence that Church of Park Slope has in their community. You can learn more about them here: 

Last weekend, Amber and I paid a visit to Buffalo to visit the Village - Buffalo. This church, started last Fall by our friends Jeremy & Audra Hazelton, is right in the heart of Buffalo's Elmwood Village Neighborhood. It was great to see the new church doing so well. Both their family and the churches family are in the process of expansion, as Audra will have their 3rd child this month. 

The homes of Elmwood Village are made for community. Much time was spent in Elmwood Village on porches and in the street playing KanJam. Neighbors spend time on one another's porches, and are in one another's homes. The Village Church provides the same level of hospitality with a greater intention. The leaders of the church know their neighbors and help engage a greater mission. I was challenged and encouraged. Some buffalo wings and a trip to Niagara Falls brought the trip to completion. Read more about The Village Buffalo here

As KC & Jojo bring May to a close, my little red book is full of ideas and best practices. Each day we move one step closer to making these dreams and thoughts in a little red book into a reality in South Baltimore. 

The month of May came to completion with one more piece falling into place: our first committed church partner for the new project. 

God's working here. Please keep praying for us as we move where He's going. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Church Planting through the Eyes of a 5 Year Old

Amber and her friend Kim went to the Orioles game this past Monday night
   (Unfortunately, with the O's having played 17 innings the day before, they
   didn't see much). Having just returned from a trip to NYC, I decided to take
   Emery and Reese out for dinner. On the ride to California Tortilla, their
   current flavor of the month,  a conversation arose about our move to
   Baltimore. As we talked about the relocation, slated to happen this summer,
   Emery proceeded tell me all about her impending Urban life.

   Emery's most excited about living within walking distance to the Science
   Center, the Aquarium, and Camden Yards. She loves the city and the "cool"
   houses. She loves how close everything is, and that there is no shortage of
   fun things for her to do. She loves that she'll be close to Annapolis, so
   that she can still see her family and friends that are nearby. She also
   likes that there's a California Tortilla on Pratt St in Batlimore, and that
   Berger cookies are made there. At current, she's least excited about not
   having a garage or a backyard anymore.  She's also a bit worried about how
   often she'll see her friends in Annapolis. The idea of a new church is
   shocking - mainly because she simply cannot imagine that there are people
   who do not know about Jesus.

   There you go: church planting through the lens of our five year old. Truly,
   Emery's sentiments mirror my own. There is so much for us to be excited
   about over the months to come, and much along the way that must be placed at
   the feet of Jesus. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

6 run 10ths & Adele Impressions.

Maybe it's because the Orioles had a six run 10th, and are still in first place as of April 17 (humor me, because April is all I have for baseball optimism)....

Maybe it's the fact that this Barista reminds of Adele - accent and all - which makes me want to do my impression. (I think you'd like it, unless you're a hardcore Adele fan).

Maybe it's the fact that it's 80, sunny, and crab season...

I'd say it's a combination of three, with a heavy dose of finally feeling refreshed. I'm not ready to sing a muppets montage or anything, but I am feeling content and at peace for the first time in a week or so.

We re-announced to Revolution on April 1 that we were leaving to plant a church in Baltimore at the end of 2012 - and moving there this summer while we finish at Revolution. The announcement led to some great conversations with folks who have a connections to the city (a person, a resource), or know it well enough to know why we're going. Then, with NCC's Mission team here in Annapolis, we did several projects in Baltimore, which only served to fuel the flames of excitement. We topped off the week with having 299 people attend Revolution for Easter, which was awesome.

Then I crashed.

It started with the fatigue from a week of long hours and little sleep. Then, I was hit with a fever whose prescription was not more cowbell, but shutting down completely for about 36 hours - even having to cancel on a friend I really wanted to see who was visiting DC. (If you know me, you know that I NEVER do stuff like that). Upon attending a conference planning session for PCTC, I knew I'd have opportunities to talk about Baltimore; yet, as people asked, I felt fear and self-doubt creeping in (accompanied by headaches and other after effects of being sick).

I think those in "Kingdom Work" need seasons like this - for two reasons. First, it reminds you that you're not superman. Vince Lombardi said, "Fatigue makes cowards of us all." If you're doing big things for the Kingdom, take care of yourself. Sleep. Spend time with friends. Sabbath. . Sometimes, if you don't unplug, your body will help you do so.

Additionally, "the crash" helps you check your motivations. It's been good remember that we are not the answer for Baltimore, despite my closet of hoodies and my church planter approved reading glasses. . That's good news, because I've been to enough conferences at this point to know that I would struggle to live in any city that "needed" that...especially if "I'm going to ask condescending questions because I'm smarter than the breakout speaker" guy is there. We are not the hope, but we can play in supporting role in what God is doing in a city we love...and we do love Baltimore.

God has encouraged and refreshed me over the course of the past two days. I'm grateful for a bigger story than the story of the Ancarrows.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Homage to 2008 - Hope for Today.

A few years ago, I started this blog to keep the parents of our 2008 X/NCC MD mission team updated on our day to day endeavors.Those who have listened to the extended version of our story know that the 2008 trip to White Marsh was one of the most formative moments in our journey back to the east. To this day, I think about that trip: the funny moments, the doors slamming in our face in Dundalk, and a young Tyler Yentes trying to make a guy in a liquor take donuts from him for three consecutive days. There was chewed up bananas, being upgraded to the Hilton because the Hampton lost our reservation, hoosiers discovering Five Guys (before it was everywhere), me backing into fire hydrant, and Taylor Utley spilling tea on herself in a way that, to this day, is the spill most closely resembled someone looking like they have peed their pants (when they had not actually done so). To this day, there are songs that make me immediately take me to a moment of that trip - ranging from "No One" by Alicia Keys to "A boy brushed in in black and white" by Underoath.

Before we even went on the trip, I felt God was calling me Eastward. By the end of the week, others seemed to know it too. A month after the trip, many of our leaders in Danville knew the same. A trip I hadn't even planned for us to go on was a catalyst to something I was never planning to do: plant a church on the East Coast.

I still think and pray about the people on that team. I pray that, through their questions, and assorted next steps on their respective journeys, they would live the stuff we learned on that trip. I pray that they would pursue more than a "because my mom said so" Bible belt faith that makes many pre-Chrisitan people so cynical, and that they would allow that faith to stretch them beyond the places that are comfortable for them. What's more - that they would become the next generation of church planters, core team members, and residents in neighborhoods where the gospel needs to be made known. I'm hoping one or two of them (if not more) may slide out this way to do it.
In about 48 hours, the 2012 X Mission team will pay a trip to MD. This time, I'm on the other side of the journey. It's going to be a great trip - and will be a huge help to both Revolution and the future Baltimore Project. What's more - I pray that it would cultivate even greater stories four years from now - in Danville, in Maryland, and beyond.

Friday, March 9, 2012

On Kony2012, Driscoll, & Manning

I've had a bit more down time than normal this week to imbibe media, particularly of the facebook variety. Its been an interesting week to do so.

At this point, you're probably familiar with Kony2012, a 27 minute movie posted by Invisible Chilldren that calls for the trial and arrest of Kony. Many feverishly retweeted and posted the film, while others feverishly used it as an opportunity to scold those retweeters/reposters on how IC uses their funds, and even whether or not stopping Kony really was ever a problem to begin with. (I'll say that many of these people are retweeting responses are seemingly no less informed than the people they are scolding with their repost).

Here are some thoughts on Kony2012:
1. The church has more opportunity than ever before to be informed about what is going on in the world around them. There is an opportunity in this to shine. Imagine the power that could be activated for the poor and oppressed...a good challenge to redeem our time online.

2. Yes, there is a healthy dialogue to be had about where and how non-profits use their donations. Charity Navigator, and other sites like it, are helpful tools, and should inform us about funds. However, those who want to be most snarky should also consider where and how their shoes, clothes, are manufactured. Also, you may want to reconsider giving Wal-Mart all your money.

3. Neither posting a video or a response to the video replaces Christians getting off their computers, and off their butts, to engage the people around them with the love of Christ. Additionally, neither replace generosity of partner with organizations that are fighting injustice. Be the hands and feet of of Christ, and not the fingertips that say bold things behind the keyboard. There are no easy answers to solving injustices that exist around us. The fact that there are no easy answers does not mean that people should do nothing.

You may have also seen that Mark and Grace Driscoll are making their rounds on the media circuit, promoting the book Real Marriage (I've not read the book yet). The segment was disjointed and weird....and exposed that Barbara Walters is a class act. Kudos to her for making something the segment while several of the ladies pouted in their corners. It's amazing to me how people who people rail on how others are "intolerant" are often more intolerant themselves.

Lastly, this week, the Indianapolis Colts said goodbye to Peyton Manning. Living in Indiana for almost a decade, watching Manning made me do what I was raised never to do - take an interest in a team owned by an Irsay. While I understand the circumstances surrounding the release, it makes me sad to see things end the way that they did. For me, it is the end of an era -specifically, the era of me caring about the Colts. I started following the Colts in 2003 for three reasons 1. They were a local team, thus easy to follow and talk to others about 2. Tony Dungy is as classy as they come 3. Peyton Manning is the kind of quarterback you get to watch once in your lifetime.

Well, I'm back in MD now, Dungy is on NBC, and Manning (and it looks like the rest of the talent) is saying goodbye. All the best Indianapolis - I'll be cheering for you when you play the Steelers or the Pats.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Check Engine Light, take 3 (or 4). Who's counting?

I'm currently in my 6th hour at the Severna Park Starbucks. This is the fourth time I've been to this Starbucks this week. Normally, this would excite me (especially if I'm not paying). Not this time, for this is where I go to work when my car is being worked on. Lately, I know this place too well. For the fourth time in the past five days, my car has given me the "orange light" that says, "How much is this going to cost me?"

(NOTE: Three things I miss about Danville, Indiana: Mechanics, Dentists, and Hair dressers I trust.)

Back to the issue at hand. My Honda, for 10 years, never had any issues, outside of routine maintenance. For 10 years, my honda has behaved like an Honda. This week, it feels like an 84 Chevette. It's now on its 3rd Engine Coil #4 this week. Each time, I've gone back to the place of the original drama that resulted in my December, "Breakdown in Hagerstown," because the coils are under warranty. As I sit here, waiting to hear the "why" on the coil failure, a few thoughts are on my mind:

1. Why didn't I learn more about how to fix cars?
2. Seriously, how much is this going to cost me?
3. Why does stuff like this drain me so much?
4. Seriously, how much is this going to cost me?

More than the waiting, and more than the money, I'm probably most frustrated that I'm so frustrated. I deal with big things pretty well, but I find "first world pains" so draining. On matters of comfort, I so easily trade trust and honest prayers with flippant self-pity . Comfort and control are so easily worshipped, and so easily are hidden by the surfacey sins that come accompany how you deal with being angry. One moment, I see God provide over and over for us, and on the next moment I find myself wondering, "God, why aren't you providing for us."

I don't like that the car is broken, and will probably cost more than I want to spend to fix (though I'm not doing that here). More than that, I hate that these situations expose idolatry in me. Even, more than that, I hate that I'm in hour 6 of having to let that fact speak to me. God, be patient with me.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Triumph of the City

I read a great book this month - Edward Glaesar's Triumph of the City. In it, Glaesar makes the case that cities are one of man's greatest invention. Here are a few of the things that I found most thought provoking:

Cities are about flesh, not concrete -"Cities are a place for ideas to move person to person within dense urban spaces, and this occasionally creates miracles of human creativity." The power of the city lies in its ability for iron to sharpen iron through the exchange of ideas. Improvements in information technology have only increased the amount of face to face interactions amongst leaders.

Cites revive when they have a blend of: Competition (small and large business who are innovative), Connection, and Human Capital. Any city that is not diverse in its economic strategy will simply, long term, be a boom town.

Poverty is a sign of a city's success. Cities attracts the poor, as well as new immigrants, for the hope of a better life. Poverty becomes an issue in areas where there is multi-generational poverty, with little hope for improvement of life. Essentially, if the poor are staying poor, the area is failing. Otherwise, cities become the place for the "American Dream" to be actualized.

We should help poor people, not poor places. Glaeser uses New Orleans as his chief example. The effort to rebuild New Orleans rooted in the right intention, but, he argues, helped the wrong people. Essentially, the money spent rebuilding buildings could given every resident of N.O. and the metro area $400,000. Which would be more effective, long-term, to help restore the city? Glaeser cites a work in Harlem that is doing this well. Having been to the gulf region after Katrina and having seen people trying to dig out their lives a year after the event, this made a ton of sense.

Reurbanization makes for a greener world. While many would think that skyscrapers are hurting the environment, Glaser shares how the suburban sprawl has created an obsession with the car that could be dangerous to our future, particularly if developing nations like China and India pursue surburban sprawl. Living in a city reduces a family's carbon footprint significantly. A person walking through a busy lower Manhattan area requires 9 sqft of space, while a parked Honda Accord requires 100 sqft. Also, city living, even with a car, can help a person use up to 150 less gallons of gas a year.

Government Policy's should help, not hurt, individuals who are contemplating moving the city. Perhaps inadvertently, the US govt is encouraging suburban sprawl, largely through mortgage exemption, which encourages home ownership as a right. Rather than banning the policy, the author advocates a cap of $300,000 on the deduction.

There are tons of other things that made sense to me, but those would be better suited to a cup of coffee and a conversation, so that context could be established. Glaesar is quick to point out how school system SHOULD be legitimate concern for families - though, in all honesty, I think this is a question we'll be answering throughout all of America, not just cities, if we continue to do things as we are doing them.

Anywho, if cities fascinate you, give it a read. If it makes you want to move to a city and be a taxpayer for the glory of God and the good of man, I know one that needs you.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The better side of Sunday

Sunday night's loss was so devastating that I failed to tell two really interesting stories from this past week's Sunday at Revolution. Both are ministry firsts for me, and help support the fact that there is never a dull moment at Revolution Annapolis.

Story One:

During second service, a very uncomfortably pregnant woman came to the lobby, just as I was getting ready to go in to listen to Josh's sermon. It's obvious that her pain is beyond the standard aches, pains, and issues of the 3rd trimester, and she has come to the lobby to make sure that she doesn't audibly express pain during the service.

The lobby, at that point, was comprised of four guys, all of whom are dads. We exchange pleasantries with her, uncertain what to say to a woman we've never met who's contracting in front of us. After all, each of us are dads - which means that we were each scolded at least once for saying something stupid during the labor and delivery process (I talked about food the 1st time, and reminded my wife how much money we could save if she delivered naturally the 2nd time). So,we quietly get here a chair, and, as a group of guys, slowly learn this woman's story. We find out that there is a delivery date already scheduled, and that she suspect these to be nothing more than intense Braxton Hicks contractions....But every few minutes, they keep coming.

The band clears to go on stage. Now it's just her and I. We talk about something. Contraction. Awkward pause. Heavy breathing and muffled groans that last about a minute. I say something like, "okay, you're through that one. Should I go get your friends now?, ok." We talk some more. Contraction, then repeat conversation. I can hear the band starting the last song, and I help her move to another seat in the lobby.

Sure enough, she was right. The baby never came (and hasn't to this point). However, I can honesty say this is the first time I've timed the contractions (albeit, in my head) for a woman I wasn't married to.

Story two:

There are a few ladies who had arranged rides to our 2nd service. One recently left the Mormon faith, much to the chagrin of the LDS church. They've been "calling," - and by calling, I mean harassing and badgering on this lady's departure, which was based on her finding out more about their teachings (like many, she was unaware how it deviated from mainline Christianity). It's gotten so intense that she's had to threaten to call police.
They came calling again last Sunday morning. This time, they brought a van to give her a ride. Knowing she arranged a ride, she assumed it was her ride for Revolution. She gets in the van, and is half way to the van's destination before she realizes that the van is going to the temple - and not RA. She freaks out, and demands to be take to Revolution. The driver obliges. Officially, this the first time in my ministry career (that I know of) where a Mormon picked up a person to take to temple, only to drop them off at my church instead.

If I think about stories like this, rather than the final minute of a football game, then Sunday seems pretty amazing.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ugly losses

It's just a game. It's just a game. It's just a game. It's just a game.

Dropped touchdown Pass

It's just a game. It's just a game. It's just a game. It's just a game.

Okay, Kick the Field goal, see what happens in over time.

It's just a game. It's just a game. It's just a game. It's just a game.

Miss the field goal and go home.

It's just a game. It's just a game. It's just a game. It's just a game.

My head and my heart are at odds. I want to believe it...and I'll get there, but right now, I'm nauseous. It was there...the table was set. A last hurrah for Ed Reed and Ray Lewis ,a man who has done more for his city than many of the Christians that spend their time calling him a killer on their facebook pages. Baltimore going to a Super Bowl in Indy, the destination of a team and ownership that didn't want to foot the bill for their own futility in the late 70's and 80's, and thus left the city. They slowed down Brady...they did it all right, and the kicker choked. Outsiders don't know how much this city wanted this game. This great city: maligned and misjudged, eager to be put on a national stage.Their reward: two weeks of hearing how great the Pats are, and nine more of wondering what might have been.

It's just a game. It's just a game. It's just a game. It's just a game.

If I keep saying it, maybe it'll feel true.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ugly Wins

Here we are - the Monday before the AFC Championship, and the Baltimore Ravens are still alive. (and the people rejoice). After following the Colts for almost a decade, I know what it's like to lose a game in the playoffs saying, "but we're better than them - if we played best two out of three, or if we were at home..." That's why, despite the national (and even local) crybabying about yesterdays game, I'll enjoy this week. Two of the recent media darlings (and latest bandwagon favorites) went home this weekend. Hmm, maybe these games aren't played on an Xbox after all (Sorry Madden fans, defense still matters)? I'll wear my purple proudly this week, and I'll let ESPN anoint Tom Brady as Super Bowl Champion before the AFC title game is even played. Hopefully, I'll be the one laughing next Monday.

Ugly wins are a part of winning. Not every sermon is your best. Not every show a band plays is impeccable. Not every sales conversation goes as planned. Leadership isn't so much about robotically being perfect every week, but instead finding ways rise about the variables, and pull off the best performance possible. A leader must excel in preparation and consistency SO THAT they as prepared as possible for all of those variables.

Youth Ministry and Church Planting have taught this well. Take yesterday, for example. Yesterday, Revolution had 203 people in attendance. Did everything go perfectly - EXACTLY as planned? Absolutely not. In fact, I could tell you three things right now that I could improve (smoother transitions, not enough chairs in the room, and a thin tear down crew). Other times, (one youth event comes to mind), I planned things ALMOST PERFECTLY. Everything went as written: I marketed things correctly, I did the proper diligence, and built the proper excitment. The result: I was rewarded with an event that went 100% over budget due to poor ticket sales.

If I could tell the 2005 Scott something - it would be, "keep your eyes forward and keep doing your thing." The best thing said about you isn't true, but neither is the worst thing. People will say what they want -and they'll always find something to talk about. It's never going to go away, so if you lose sleep over it, it's no one's fault but your own. Turn critics into coaches in the context of good community - and change things when you need to so that you'll continue to excel. Otherwise, keep winning and move forward."

Go Ravens.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Happy Human Trafficking Awareness Day - Here's to not needing this day 20 years from now

TO START, Please check out this video from Unearthed Pictures.

As for the rest of this blog. I wrote this a while ago - but never published it. Since it's Human Trafficking Awareness Day, I thought I'd share this. It's longer than a blog should be, but give it a try, particularly if you're unaware of the extent of this injustice.

Let's begin with a quick quiz:

Girls and boys are sometimes lured or kidnapped into sexual trafficking – TRUE

The trafficking of human beings for modern day is a lucrative criminal enterprise – TRUE

This issue may happen, but it happens far away from the United States - FALSE

There are always dads who possess the “special set of skills” required to rescue their kids from this atrocity - i.e. Liam Neeson in "TAKEN" – FALSE. IN FACT, FAMILIES ARE SOME OF THE ONES DIRECTLY RESPONSBILE FOR THEIR CHILD BEING IN SLAVERY.

Here’s a few more hard stats (

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) now believes that the number of children trafficked annually is around 1.2 million (2006)

It is estimated that 2 children per minute are trafficked for sexual exploitation.

Annually, according to U.S. Government-sponsored research completed in 2006, approximately 800,000 people are trafficked across national borders, which does not include millions trafficked within their own countries.

Approximately 80percent of transnational victims are women and girls and up to 50 percent are minors.

The majority of transnational victims are females trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation. (2007 Trafficking in Persons Report, U.S. State Department

It is estimated that at least 27 million people are currently enslaved around the world, many who have been enslaved through being trafficked. This is more than double the number of Africans enslaved during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

The U.N. and other experts estimate the total market value of illicit human trafficking at 32 billion -about $10 billion is derived from the initial “sale” of individuals, with the remainder representing the estimated profits from the activities or goods produced by the victims of this barbaric crime. (UNODC)

These numbers make trafficking in persons the 2nd most lucrative crime in the world. The first is drug trafficking. (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2006).

About $28 billion of this is generated from commercial sexual exploitation. (International Labor Organization)

There are a myriad of other stats to throw around. Needless to say, there’s a huge market today for the sexual exploitation of people. As stated above, this doesn’t just happen far away from us in Annapolis, MD. In fact, the Port of Baltimore, coupled with the I-95 corridor, make us a prime area to face this issue.

As a father of two daughters, I’ve asked myself the question, “What if this happened to my daughter(s)? ‘ What would I want someone to do for me - for my kids? So, a few years ago, I helped my friend/former student (w/several other key students) start an organization called LOVE CAN’T BE BAHT, a group that raises awareness regarding this issue. LCBB talks to whoever it can, partnering with the rock community to activate a new generation of freedom fighters. The proceeds go to a safe house in Cambodia, RAPHA HOUSE ( Last Summer, LOVE CAN’T BE BAHT just completed a national tour promoting awareness. Though Tyler has since stepped down from leadership of LCBB, it's a group of people passionate about speaking for those unable to speak for themselves.

In my mind, a problem still remains...even if we can save every girl , ala “Taken,” why is this something that happens? Why are girls, as young as 5 years old, robbed of their childhood? Why do people justify the purchase and trade of people for sexual gratification?

Here are two of the issues facing this “issue.”

1. Poverty –

Both globally and locally, human trafficking tends to happen in areas of abject poverty. Sophie, a girl whose story is feature in the documentary “Baht,” was sent by her parents into the arms of traffickers, who had lied to Sophie’s parents by telling them that she was going get a waitressing job in Bangkok. Families who are worried about feeding their children are prime real estate.

In the United states, I would point to the family brokenness. Teenage runaways make up a huge portion of American trafficking victims, with almost 1/3 of them disappearing into trafficking within the first 48 hours. The cycle of broken families in the US has created a wound in many people that seems to contribute to the problem. Wounded people are easily preyed upon, and human trafficking/sexual exploitation is no different.

I know some people who are beginning to help by creating “exports” for certain at-risk areas. Others are using microfinance to help. We knows of a group in Cambodia that has started a Kids Club that meets on their property. In giving these students a meal a day, and teaching them a trade, they are giving them opportunity to contribute to their family.

Fair trade and living wages matter. Abject poverty matter. Unemployment matters.

2. Pornography.

Here's the heart issue. This is simple supply and demand. Traffickers and pimps have to market what sells. If cheeseburgers were illegal and exciting, and elevated to a warped status in a culture, I'm convinced they'd sell them instead. Sex sells, especially to a culture that believes that whatever feels good behind closed doors is both edifying and no one else's business.

James 1 and Romans 1 both speak to sin’s insatiable appetite. Rescue houses and safe houses for trafficking victims are necessary - but are a band aid, at best. So long as guy and gals think it's okay to drive into they city the suburbs and have sex with a women who has been robbed of her dignity, her passport and her hope, who has been hooked on drugs by a predator "boyfriend" and lured into this trip - the issue will continue.

One of my friends tells a story about a time she was in Southeast Asia. She came upon some westerners, a father and late teenage son, about to purchase a young teenage girl from a brothel. As she approached the men, she heard the father say to the son, “Now Son, remember that this is okay here…but not at home.”


Pornography slowly makes people into products. It took a western father and son, and tricked them into thinking that this little girl, who is being held against her will, who is daily beaten, drugged, and then raped, is not a person with a soul.

The porn industry, worldwide, makes more money then the NBA, MLB, NFL, and NHL COMBINED….more than NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX COMBINED.

Pornography creates an appetite that gets harder and harder to satistfy. It distorts sexuality to an unrecognizable version of its intended purpose. It promises much, and delivers little.

Most (especially men) approach pornography with a “who does it hurt” attitude. What happens in the bedroom or hotel room, after all, is our business, right? After all certainly everyone is paid, and certainly everyone wants to be there. What if we looked at it another way:

The lady (or guy) that you’re looking at, getting pleasure from, is somebody’s mom. She’s somebody’s sister. She’s somebody’s daughter. There’s guys right now who are driving from the suburbs into the dark, seedier parts of their cities, exploiting a lady whose name they are never forced to know. But they are known, or were known, to some one.

Pornography’s greatest lie is: no one gets hurt. No, a person is not trafficking a female every time they look at porn. But they are creating and sustaining an economy. Additionally, porn warps your own sexuality. Many of us have a hard time understanding sex tourism right now – but many who are the chief supporters of it now once had that same thought. The desire for gratification takes people anywhere they can find it. This is what connects pornography to trafficking.

So, what do we do?

The church was way too silent during the last great slave trade. Too many Christians, to support their way of life, turned a blind eye to reality - and chose to stand idly by while people were robbed of their dignity in the name of profit. At the same time, it was the church who began to recognize that people weren’t products: men like Wilberfoce, who took unpopular stands to restore dignity.

I’d love to see stiffer laws, harsher punishments, firmer regulations from international governments on this issue. All of this is a good start. I am convinced that the local church can make the biggest dent– a body of believers who are ready to stand for the defenseless – willing to restore dignity to others, when other would exploit. As we see as God sees, we will do as God does. We will love how he loves. We will not just turn a blind eye to the plight of others.

Here are a few “freedom fighters’ that could use your support today .

1IJM (International Justice Mission)- -

2.The Samaritan Women’s Home (Baltimore, MD) -

3. Rapha House -

4. Awareness groups like: Love Can't be Baht - & Love146-, and The Acts 21 Campaign -

These organization could use our support, both volunteering and financial.


1. Pray. For a great list of what to pray for on this issue, click here.

2. Think globally. Be aware of what brother and sisters all over the world are dealing with and facing.

3.Model Biblical Sexuality. Christian guys and gals need to stop making excuses for their sinful behavior. Kill the addictions and make sure you're not part of the problem. Additionally, help those who are struggling with this addiction.

4.Read. Learn. To start having your heart wrecked - check out Daniel Walker's God in a Brothel