Tag Archives: Heaven

Future-Present Hope

From my devotions this morning… I did not write this. Instead, as happens so often in my devotional time, God had for me exactly what I needed to hear today. I bolded and underlined the sentence that struck right to my heart and filled it with Hope.


John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (NIV).

You may identify with the concept, “A mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child.” It is hard not to get dragged down by the struggles of your children. Jesus recognized this tendency and offers a solutionÑan eternal perspective. When you are certain about your future, you are better able to face the present. An eternal mindset will help you maintain a hope-filled perspective because our home is not of this world!

When you or your kids are suffering, remember that Christ has conquered the world, and one day we will be with Him. Until then, beware of desiring pleasure on this earth more than Christ. Take comfort in knowing that this life is temporary and let your pain lead you towards dependence on Him.

Remember that your home is not in this world, but in heaven.

Mom’s Day

I didn’t know home was a person. But then I felt homeless.
I don’t think home is a person. But it’s been seven short years since I’ve heard the voice of home.
When will I be free? From these chains of misery.
On this day of remembrance, this day of celebration, all I want to do is go Home.
This is not my home. Nor is she. But she is there.
Most times I miss her in the fall. Most times I’d rather be there. But today I just wish she was here.
Today, I wish I could hear her. I wish I could hear the voice from home.
I love you. I’m so proud of you. I hope you can see me.

Dream reflections

In response to Jim Unger’s comment on my post from a few days ago…

(here’s the link to that previous post: https://schmittmike.wordpress.com/2009/10/27/dreams-of-sand-storms-comets-and-destroyed-society/)

Perhaps.  It’s strange for me to remember a dream.  Even stranger that I would remember it with enough clarity and be able to write it down.

At first, I wanted someone to interpret it for me.  Then as I wrote it out I understood it more and more.  I think the part of the church that we knew would still be standing is the part of the church that’s based in Christ.  It’s not that the institutional church as we know it today is all bad.  It’s not.  We are each followers of Christ in part or in whole because of it.  But only part of it is based on Christ.  That’s the only part that will stay standing.

God waited until we were frustrated and upset and praying earnestly to do something about healing the land.  I think that’s because he doesn’t want us to sit idly by and wait.  He’ll wait to act until we too are passionate about seeing change happen, like he is.  Only when we’re upset about something are we really willing to make a change that will cost us something.  So sometimes we wait on him and his timing, yes.  But sometimes I think he waits on us to get excited and passionate enough to really do what he desires to be done.

Only when we’re frustrated are we willing to really act.  Only then do we lose our desire for our own safety first.  Only then do we put ourselves second in order to pursue the prize first.  And it’s then that he gives us a glimpse of what he has to come.  That glimpse is the spark that ignites the refining fires of change.

The survivors we found after the storm had cleared were perhaps the people who were following Jesus already, but so blinded by the institution of church they couldn’t see him in it.  Maybe they didn’t know where to go, but they knew he would be with them and somehow save them.

Or maybe they’re my homeless friends.  The islands floating amidst society that God looks out for especially.  When all is grim and hopeless they simply hold on.  Realizing that life itself is a great gift from God, they holdfast to the gift; awaiting salvation.

The new society is begun and based on love.  I think it’s this idea that we are fragile and beautiful.  God is good.  But we’re not always safe.  No longer can we walk away from our brother in need with the rationalization that God will take care of them another way.  The new city realizes that God has commissioned us to care for each other.  And there is no plan B.

I think in not only realizing our capability to help each other, but with realizing the necessity of each of us to play/be our part in the whole comes a great and beautiful understanding of not only each other’s value, but of our own value.  Our inherent value; not based on anything we do or accomplish, but simply on our being.  This is something I know I struggle with daily.  It’s not only that God loves the world; he loves me.  It’s not only that God wants to be with his children; it’s that he wants to be with me.  It’s not only that he’s commanded me to love and serve the people of the world; it’s that he’s commanded his followers to love and serve me as well.  It’s not only that God has gone on a great and sacrificial odyssey to be able to rebuild the relationship he lost with people around the world… he did it to rebuild the relationship he lost with me.  And he did it for you.  It isn’t only that God so loved the world, but that he loves me in the world.  And it’s not just that he loves me.  He actually likes me.

Maybe when we realize not only our value in his eyes, but also our necessary role to play in the Kingdom… maybe then living for and giving him our whole life, all the parts, will become the norm for each of us; rather than a regular concerted effort we need to be constantly reminded to re-begin.  Maybe then we’ll see the answer to Jesus’ prayer… To see God’s Kingdom come and His will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Moved into the neighborhood

John 1:14 (my reading for the last couple of weeks):
“The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.”
(The Message version)

Moved into the neighborhood…

Since I’ve been accused of not doing my homework before (even though I always do it), as a sort of preamble, here are a few specifics that are shaping the following thoughts:
The word here is often translated dwelt. It’s probably a good word, though in my mind (and I think mostly because of the misuse of this verse taught to me in my past) dwelt has a bit of an abstract, sort of alusive quality about it. I don’t ever say I dwelt with someone. I’d say I hung out with someone. I lived with someone. Or maybe I spent allot of time with someone. But not dwelt… That’d just be weird.

The Greek word here is eskayno’sen (if I can figure out to put the actual Greek letters here I’ll change it). The root is skayno’o. Here’s a little more of what it means: to pitch tent, encamp, to tabernacle, to dwell, have one’s abode.

Now this is not about camping. Or at least not how we think of it. Living in tents was a way of life for many people back then. Paul was a tent-maker. That doesn’t mean he worked for the New Testament version of NorthFace. People lived in these tents. When the people this was originally written for heard a word like skayno’o they were thinking of living places. Maybe even thinking back to Exodus times when the whole nation was living in tents and even the Ark of the Covenant, the very presence of God, was kept in a tent… a tabernacle.

Now, allot can change depending on the tense of a verb. An example in English might be, “I have eaten” or “I have been eating.” Both mean you were eating. But the former means you are done eating while the later means you may still be eating. This same idea is true in Greek although it’s much stronger. The tense of this word is the Aorist Active Indicative. In this verse it is used in the 3rd person singular.

All Aorist Active Indicative means is the simple past. It doesn’t give any indication as to whether it happened in one instant or if it went on for years. But it does mean it’s over with. It’s entirely in the past. Third person singular means the verb is talking about just one person and that person is neither the one speaking nor the one hearing (or reading).

So when we read “moved into the neighborhood” or “tabernacled” or “dwelt” it should be noted that he isn’t still. It happened entirely in the past. Now, I’m not saying Jesus isn’t still here somehow. I believe he is. But that’s not what this verse is talking about. This verse is talking about an event or a time that happened in the past; entirely in the past and is going on no longer. This word is also talking about a single person. John’s not talking about Jesus and disciples. And he’s not talking about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is singular… just one person; namely Jesus.

This verb is talking about a physical happening. There’s nothing mystical about someone moving into a neighborhood. A neighbor moves into the neighborhood and now he’s here. Period. He lives next door to me or across the street. At some point he’ll move out. Then he won’t be living in the neighborhood anymore. He won’t be tabernacling with me any more. It’ll be over. Past. Done.

I grew up thinking church was a place. I also thought it was an event. It was sort of like work back then. I mean, I didn’t have a job, but my dad did. Work was a place. It’s somewhere he went regularly. He had to wear a shirt and tie and sometimes a suit coat. Work was also something that happened while he was at this place. And so church in my mind had allot in common with work. Some of you may get a little up in arms about me saying that. Just relax… I’m talking about work from a kid’s perspective which doesn’t involve a boss or paperwork or stress. It’s just this thing that is somehow a place (where you usually have to dress nicely for) and this action that only happens while at the place. But it’s the same word used for all of it.

Like most people don’t like their jobs, I didn’t really like going to church. Mostly just because you had to dress up in these uncomfortable clothes that you weren’t allowed to get dirty and you had to be quiet and you couldn’t have fun “cause we’re in church!” Weird now that I look back at it.

All that being said, I love Jesus. I love following God and though I screw it up all the time, I’m trying to with my whole life. As I’ve learned to walk with Christ I’ve developed this aversion to church being much of anything like what I grew up with. I mean, making little boys dress up (which they should never have to do) and go be taught that Jesus doesn’t care about what we look like, but only what’s on the inside is just a confusing mess anyway. You’re really asking for trouble.

I feel like God has called me to plant churches. But of course I don’t want to plant churches like the one I grew up in. So I tend to have this aversion to church buildings and regular or traditional things. I used to say I like to think outside of the box. I once heard Rob Bell say something about thinking outside of the box that made me decide to never say that again… He said, “The problem with thinking outside of the box is that the box is still your reference point. Throw the box away and start thinking fresh.” That revolutionized everything for me.

As I set out to plant churches, however God wants me to do that, I need to try not to make the same mistakes of the church I grew up in. That’s true and good. But I also need to not do things in reaction to those mistakes or the possibility of making those mistakes. I need to try as hard as I can to learn lessons from the past while not running away from it either. Whenever you’re running away from something your focus is on what’s behind you rather than where you’re going. That’s no way to run through life. And I do want to run through life. But I don’t want to be thinking about what’s behind me. I want to forget what is behind and press on toward what is to come. I want to be focused and excited about what Christ has yet to come, not where demons won in the past.

So if I feel called to plant churches I need to not do things in reaction to the past, but try to just follow what the Spirit tells me to do.

My aversion to church buildings is largely due to my past. I need to shed that. But I would be remiss not to take the opportunity to learn from mistakes of the past as well. Church is not a building. I think it is a group of people, a community. It’s not just any community though. It’s a community formed in the name of Christ, to reflect him here on earth by living out the Kingdom of Heaven here and now and for eternity, by loving God and one another and teaching others to do the same.

So I feel like God has called me to plant a church in Detroit. In the middle of Cass Corridor and Midtown where the homeless and the college student populations meet and overlap. We’re going to open up a coffee shop, a small concert venue and have a big house where a bunch of people core to that community live in community. It was January 17th, 2009 that God started to give me this vision. For months now it’s excited and scared me. I want to follow him and see and be a part of all of the adventure that goes along with that. But I don’t want to plant a church that turns into a building.

That’s why this verse has meant so much to me recently. He moved into the neighborhood. There was a place. Now hear me carefully, church should never be a place. But that doesn’t mean it’s not ok for a church to have a place. A church should always be the community we talked about before. But I think it’s ok for a church to utilize a place to do things in. People are probably always going to slide towards church being a place. That’s something that will maybe always require addressing. But that’s no reason not to do what God calls us to. I am excited to see what happens in the unique community, this jungle of the Corridor as this new community, this crop of Dandelions is planted and begins to spread. I’m excited to see what happens as we as flesh and blood move into the neighborhood. May we then see the glory with our own eyes and I pray others do too, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, like disciples. As we are generous inside and out, true from start to finish. May we see the weeds of the earth become the beautiful flowers of the Kingdom of God, on earth as it is in Heaven.

All that from “moved into the neighborhood” … Dwelt just doesn’t quite cut it.

Mother’s Day

I didn’t know home was a person.
But then I felt homeless. 

I don’t think home is a person.
But it’s been seven short years since I’ve heard the voice of home.

When will I be free,
From these chains of misery? 

On this day of remembrance, this day of celebration,
All I want to do is go Home.

This is not my Home.
Nor is she.  But she is there.

Most times I miss her in the fall.
Most times I’d rather be there.
But today I just wish she was here.
Today, I wish I could hear her.
I wish I could hear the voice from home.

I love you.
I’m so proud of you.
I hope you can see me.

Mom's Headstone

At a BBQ talkin’ ’bout a church plant

So today was a beautiful day.  Such a glorious day that the Lord has made.  I am rejoicing and glad in it.

Here’s a story…
So I’m sitting at a table in the park (at 2nd & Selden) today.   I was talking with a few different guys pretty much all afternoon, but there were two guys who were there the entire time.  Grant and Nathaniel are two middle-aged black men.  Both of them are currently homeless and staying at rh Detroit Rescue Mission.  They’re also both followers of Jesus.  These men have lived and seen more in 55 years than most of us will in 105 years.

As we were talking it came up that we’re looking to plant a church next door to the park.  They were excited.  Very excited.  I started telling them that there was going to be a coffee shop and a small concert venue.  Literally, the first words out of Grant’s mouth, “With an open mic night?”  And Nathaniel’s response?  “We’ve been hoping you guys would open up a church down here.”

I was stunned nearly speechless.  There was maybe the clearest confirmation of anything God’s ever told me.  I told Grant, “Yeah actually we are going to have an open mic night.”  He said, “Then I could read my poetry there.”  I nearly cried right there on the spot.  “I would love it if you’d read your poetry there.”

I went on to tell the two of them about the concerts and the karaoke as well.  They both kept saying they were so glad for it.  After a minute or two of a lull in the conversation Nathaniel said, “So you really going to open up a church like that right there?”  I said, “Yeah we really are.”  He smiled really big and exclaimed, “You open up a church and we’re your first two congregation members right here.”

It’s been 7 hours since I first heard those words and they still bring tears to my eyes.  (Even as I’m typing this from my journal to this blog and it’s been two weeks and a day they STILL bring tears to my eyes.)  I just don’t have the words to describe the feeling in my heart from those statements.  “With an open mic night?”  “We’ve been hoping you guys would open up a church down here.”  “You open up a church and we’re your first two congregation members right here.”

We talked a little more and I told them the name.  Dandelions.  “Dandelions?” Grant asked.  “Yeah, Dandelions,” I told him.  “Dandelions?” Grant asked again.  “Yeah, Dandelions,” I told him again.  “What’s Dandelions?” he asked one more time.  I said, “Dandelions.  You know, like the little yellow flower that grows all over the place.”  “Oh!  Dandelions!” he said.  (I have no idea what he thought I was saying or what he was saying back to me before this point… I thought we were both saying Dandelions back and forth.)  He smiled and said, “Cool.  … Why?”

I explained to him that it’s because where the world sees a useless weed, God sees a beautiful flower.

I told him that it’s a metaphor.  That God is the sun and we are the flower/plant.  The sun shines and grows up a beautiful flower.  As we grow, we grow towards him.  And when we die to ourselves, when we surrender, when the flower dies, it turns into seeds.  The wind (the Spirit) will blow and take the seeds anywhere it wants.  When we surrender ourselves to God, the Spirit takes us where ti wants us to be and live.  No matter where the seed is taken, no matter where it lands, the sun (Jesus) can grow up a new flower, a new creation.  No matter how hard the soil, now matter how difficult a place, no matter how hard a place it’s been before, a flower will grow if the sun shines and the water falls (Spirit falling, living water…).

He smiled.  He smiled big.  Grant told me he loved it.  He told me he was going to write a poem about dandelions this week for me.

If anyone is still wondering about what Dandelions Cafe & Church will look like…
It’s going to be a place where felons and ex-attics write poems about flowers and college kids celebrate with them and read it and put it up on the wall in a frame for all the world to see.

It’s going to be a place where color and history and class don’t matter.  Where people with or without money or backgrounds, with socially acceptable addictions and socially unacceptable addictions share meals and stories together.  Where people share love and hope and faith together.

This is the kind of place God has called us to create.  A place where the rules of the world aren’t broken or not… they just don’t matter at all.  A place where the Kingdom of Heaven is more easily seen than the kingdom of America.  A place of life and light and love and hope.  A place that will hopefully, on a good day, taste just a little bit… like Heaven.