Tuesday, April 26, 2011

WILDERNESS

I mentioned yesterday that I feel like I'm at a crossroads. I've been having a beautiful and tough conversation with a good friend...and she mentioned maybe I'm in a kind of "wilderness". I'd agree. I've been in them before - one especially. It began when I lost my dream job in St. Louis radio, working with my hero and mentor, and moved back to Greenville where I found a glamorous job bagging groceries. That wilderness was super-tough and lasted two years. But it ended with me meeting my wife.

As I told my friend, I'm demented and masochistic enough that I enjoy these wilderness experiences. Enjoy might be a stretch...But even when I'm not "enjoying" them, I know they lead somewhere. And that's what I'm looking for.

As part of this one, I seem to be revisiting things here and there. I felt the need to re-post a blog entry I wrote about a year ago as the Dirty Roots Revolution was coming to an end. From a personal standpoint, it benefited me to read this again. From a writing standpoint, as Johnny Cash said in the liner notes to the reissued version of his classic "Live at Folsom Prison" album, "there's some stuff here I'm proud of"...


IN CONCLUSION
Originally posted August 24, 2010

My fellow revolutionaries,

Our Lord has taken us on quite an adventure through the Dirty Roots Revolution over the past year. It has been a year of challenges, growth, blessings, hard work, inspiration, and – most importantly – positive world-changing in the name of Jesus Christ.

I have told you before that the main focus of the DRR leadership has been to make very certain that the reins of this project remain in God’s hands – not ours. This effort has consistently been rewarding and humbling. At times it has been scary, requiring us to step out on faith with little knowledge of what the future would hold. We have now reached another of these times.

The Dirty Roots Revolution is too large to be small. At the same time, it is still too small to be large. It has grown very quickly. And the administrative and organizational duties associated with it have become a full-time job. This work has required more and more attention and time. I have begun using personal vacation time from my work, not to spend time with my family, but to tend to DRR business. The administrative duties and creative requirements of the DRR consume more and more of my attention, my time, and my efforts.

All three of which should be primarily devoted to my young family. A wise man once told me to be careful never to sacrifice my family on the alter of my personal ministry.

Following too many days, weeks, and months of burning the candle at both ends, in mid-July I found the middle of my wick. I called a meeting of our board of directors and following a lengthy and emotional discussion, our official stance was that the DRR was entering “a time of prayer and fasting”. During this period of several weeks, we put aside all tasks related to the DRR. I canceled and declined speaking engagements, we let our Facebook page go quiet, and – in light of our difficulty recruiting volunteers this summer – we suspended our weekly homeless outreach indefinitely.

This was a challenging time for us as we sought “be still” and seek the voice of God. After several weeks of listening for God I became fully aware that I was going to have to walk away from the Dirty Roots Revolution. I was heartbroken. In my frustrated prayers, I cried out to God for some kind of understanding, clarity, wisdom, and peace. And, as always, He was moving in ways I hadn’t foreseen.

To make a long story short, my wife, Amber, and I felt an undeniable nudging from God to remain in our leadership position of the college ministry at our home church – the First Christian Church here in Greenville.

The Dirty Roots Revolution was basically born from our involvement in that ministry. And as we attempted to work through whatever was happening with what the DRR had become, we felt the call to take things back to where they started. “Back to the basics,” as my Dad would say.

While the mission of the DRR has always been about encouraging people to make a difference in the world in whatever way they see fit, it has clearly been the weekly Homeless Outreach that has captured the hearts of our community. In working through the past few weeks, I could not get past the negative feelings I had, associated with the discontinuation of this project.

So, we’ve opted to move it under the umbrella of Wired, the college ministry we lead. The DRR largely started with the homeless outreach and the homeless outreach has primarily been made possible through the volunteer efforts of college students. In fact, one of my original ideas for the DRR was to have a board of directors made up largely of college students.

I want to stress that other than a change in the “parent organization”, there will be NO changes to the Homeless Outreach. IT WILL REMAIN OPEN TO ANY AND EVERYONE WHO WANTS TO PARTICIPATE, REGARDLESS OF THEIR CHURCH AFFILIATION. We will announce more specific information pertaining to the Homeless Outreach in the next couple of days. Please keep your eyes peeled for this information and have a look at it when it’s released. It is our hope and prayer that you’ll remain involved in this initiative if it has meant something to you.

In addition to the continuation of the homeless outreach, the Dirty Roots Radio Show will continue unchanged. You can catch it every Thursday from 8 to 10 p.m. (Central Time) on WGRN 89. FM in Greenville, IL or online at www.wgrn.net. Dirty Roots Radio will still be your source for all kinds of unique music, thought-provoking guests, and revolutionary information.

When it comes to the rest of the Dirty Roots Revolution, whether or not it will officially dissolve its incorporation remains to be seen. That is another conversation for a different day. I have yet to meet anyone who has figured out God…and I won’t pretend to know what He has in store.

If the opportunity to direct the DRR as a full-time job should happen to present itself, I would gladly jump at the opportunity to continue this adventure and explore many of the ideas we had worked on, but hadn’t had the time and/or funding to accomplish. We certainly had big plans…But, again, His will be done – not ours.

However, we recognize that without funding to allow this to become an actual job, things simply cannot continue as they have been.

And God is definitely teaching us something through all of this.

Our message has always been that one person can make a difference. And, more importantly, that people can make that difference by doing small things, taking small actions, making small changes, giving small amounts, etc. I tell people that you don’t have to quit your job and become a missionary to Africa to make a difference. You can make a difference wherever you are. You can be a banker and make a difference. You can be a nurse and change the world. You can be a plumber and have an impact.

We can make a difference without leading an officially incorporated revolution.

I want to stress to you that we are NOT giving up.

The revolution is alive within us. And we know it’s alive within you.

You do not need a little non-profit ministry like us to tell us that you can make a difference. You don’t need us to motivate you to get involved. You don’t need us to help you change the world.

You can do this. More accurately, GOD can do this…THROUGH you!

Always remember the words of Joe Strummer: “The world is worth fighting for.” Not physically fighting of course. But, fighting for the good in the world. Our God made this world. It is His creation. And He said it was good. Biblically, this world will continue to “get worse” until Jesus comes back. But, in the meantime, we believe we must strive to increase the amount of light that is present in the midst of the darkness at any given time.

God made all people in His own image. And every life matters.

While the formal organization of how we do this is changing, please continue to join us in our efforts to change this world. Find a cause and jump in. If you don’t know where to start, watch the evening news. Whatever makes you the angriest or tugs at your heart the most….there’s your cause.

Remember, even though they may go unnoticed, small actions matter. Small actions CAN and WILL change this world! Please don’t give up on these small actions. Your choices, your attitudes, your actions – every one of them matter.

Please allow me to acknowledge the leadership of the DRR. Our board of directors consists of Amber Mifflin, Chris Harnetiaux, and Miranda Caulkins.

My wife, Amber, was witness to whatever was brewing in my heart that eventually led to the DRR for a long time before anyone else. She encouraged me to pursue it to see where God was leading. And when things took off, Amber bravely stood by my side, knowing full well the commitment that this adventure may involve. I cannot thank her enough for her patience and support.

Chris Harnetiaux is my best friend and my brother. It’s been a pleasure to have him as my right-hand-man in this adventure. Chris and I shared many late-night cups of coffee, discussing the possibility of a better world, leading up to the formation of the DRR. Chris continually provided a Biblical perspective to the board that was always needed.

Miranda Caulkins was the first person I thought of when forming a board of directors. Miranda truly “gets” the philosophy of the DRR. She is an incredibly gifted photographer and graphic designer, which was a tremendous blessing for our organization. More importantly, Miranda (a sophomore in college when all of this started) is one of the wisest and bravest people I know – of any age. Miranda always encouraged us to take risks and do what we knew God was asking of us, even when we were uncertain or it was uncomfortable.

I have been blessed to serve alongside these three world-changers. And I have been forever blessed to serve alongside each of you.

To everyone who contributed funds, materials, prayers, encouragement, guidance, interest, and support, I say THANK YOU. You have made a difference. You have made this world a better place! Please keep it up!

A few final thoughts:

- One person CAN make a difference

- YOU are the leader we’ve been waiting for

- Silence is the enemy

- If you’re thinking, you’re winning

- People can change anything they want to

Most importantly, let me remind you what our homeless friend O’Lester (a wise old prophet to be sure) told us on one of our first homeless outreach trips: “God is good….ALL the time!!!”

Thank you for the blessing of this past year. All glory to God for what has been achieved!

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