Tuesday, August 28, 2007

dear friends

On Wednesday, the 12th of September, as part of our ministry in Tottenham, England, we will begin our first community discussion group on Christian Spirituality. It’s taken us nearly three years of building relationships throughout the community to get to this point, but we finally feel that the time is right. Many of our relationships, however, are with Muslims (predominately), Hindus, and Buddhists, and so this new programming will, no doubt, bring many questions and even concerns for them.

With that in mind, on the weekend of September 7-10, myself and Jamie, as well as our team of volunteers, will be holding a 60 hour prayer vigil for our local ministry in Tottenham and for the beginning of our Christian discussion groups. It is our hope to have people praying with us throughout the world. The following are links to time zone sensitive sign up sheets, along with information about our project and a copy of the prayer guide.

It would be our honour if you would join us in prayer and even find a few of your friends and loved ones who might join us as well. As you can see, the time slots are only 30 minutes in length, so we are not asking for a huge commitment, though we would also be happy for you to sign up for as many of those slots as you like!

Once you and your loved ones have signed up, please send us the details so that we can add you to our own vigil sheet. It is our hope to have somebody praying during each of the 30 minute slots throughout that weekend. It would be great if we could receive these back by the 5th of September, the Wednesday before our vigil is to take place. Incidentally, if you don’t think that you can get people signed up, but would still like to sign up for a slot yourself, please feel free to simply let us know and we’ll get you added to our own vigil sheet.

Thank you in advance for all that your prayers will mean for our community. We will do our best to keep you updated on the work that God continues to do through your support. May God bless you as you serve your own local communities!

Tim & Jamie Miller


Hi readers. First of all, thank you to all of you who have already responded with emails and sign ups. They have been very encouraging for us and we’re excited about the weekend.

By popular demand, below is a form that you can use to easily sign up for our vigil. If you'll be signing up several people, the downloadable forms above are what you'll need. If it's just yourself, the form below will make it easy. Either way, please be sure to download the Information and Prayer Guide docoment above.

the wind

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Dare I take a stab at a topic like this on such a serious and theological blog? Oh, I’m sure I can twist it into some sort of theological debate.

Michael Vick. There’s a lot about this situation that intrigues me.

Take R.L. White’s (president of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP) suggestion that Vick’s admission of guilt should not end his pro career. Can I just say that I’m as sick of seeing the NAACP stick up for criminals, just because they’re black, as I am of seeing rednecks condemn people, just because they’re black. If something is wrong, it’s wrong, no matter what your skin color. Please don’t be afraid to admit it NAACP, you just lose our respect when you suggest otherwise.

Another thing I find interesting is people’s suggestion that Vick “made a mistake”. A “mistake” is when you respond violently to somebody in a night club. Funding both an underground gambling ring, and an underground dog fighting kennel isn’t a mistake. It didn’t happen accidentally or in a moment of momentary mental lapse. He made a wilful decision to break a federal law. It’s not even like it’s an addiction or that he was desperate for money. The guy has all the money in the world and decided to start up and fund a federal offense.

The third thing I find interesting is people’s suggestion that, once Vick pays his time, he should get another shot at the NFL. Show me another company in the world, as visible as the NFL, that would hire back somebody who’s been convicted of the things Vick’s been convicted of. No doubt, we as Christians should forgive, and society at large should probably forgive once he’s done his time, but to suggest that the NFL should give him a second chance is preposterous. Why should they?

The fourth thing that peaks my interest is the suggestion that dog fighting might be a cultural thing among blacks in the South and that they, therefore, see nothing wrong with it. That one has me listening because, if it’s true, there are much wider implications here.

Since moving to London about three and a half years ago, there’s a term I’ve heard thrown around at churches of diversity, all over the city. That term is “African time”. African time refers to the suggestion that Africans, living in the UK, often have a much more laid back approach to time keeping. Specifically, if something starts at 10:30 a.m. you can be sure that the Africans in your congregation won’t start showing up until around 11:15 a.m. I’d like to say that this is an unfair stereotype, but it actually seems to be pretty accurate. I’ve not only heard testimonial after testimonial, but I also witness it myself every Sunday. In fact, the “problem” is so wide spread that it has even come up in divisional strategy meetings (hard as that is to believe).

My problem is twofold. Number one, I’m an avid time keeper. If something starts at 10:30, I’m there by 10:15. To me, 10:15 isn’t early, it’s on time. So I’ve always struggled with people who show up late for things (I personally find it to be extremely inconsiderate and rude. I also believe that it makes the statement, to the person in charge of planning, that they are not important enough to show up on time for.) On the other hand, is our insistence that Africans change their cultural clock to match ours just an example of modern day colonization? I ask that seriously.

And so these question goes out to my, mostly, white audience. I’ve been meaning to bring them up for several weeks now, but have been looking for a time to do it.

Is insisting that our “out of town” (whether they be Africans or any other nationality) neighbors a modern day form of colonization?

And second, should we have a different standard in the church? In other words, even if we can expect people coming here from other countries to adapt to OUR way of life, is that the approach we should take in our churches or should we be a lot more flexible (I’m steering very clear of the word “graceful” here as to not bring about guilt votes)?

Those are sincere questions. Your insight would be greatly appreciated as I’m very much trying to figure it out myself.

p.s. The song playing to the right is a song called Fieldtrip Buddy by an artist named Matt Alber. I am absolutely cracking up at this song right now.

Monday, August 20, 2007

are you certain they'll come?

Well, I’ve had lots to write about over the past week or so, but I’ve just not been able to collect my thoughts in any kind of a coherent way. So here I go, into the abyss.

A friend committed suicide while I was in France.

Wait. It gets stranger.

Few people know that, at the age of four, a tie die wearing, long haired hippy showed up, married my mother, and adopted me. Like many single moms, my mother’s decision was based largely on the fact that he got along with me so well. He lived next door, had a motorcycle, a boat, a mustang, and played guitar. He was perfect. At the age of four, I would wander across the yard to his house, and he would feed me popsicles and let me play his guitar. Eventually he and my mother started dating and, six weeks later, got married and, like any other classy couple of their day, spent their honeymoon at Niagara Falls. What a couple of cheese balls. Anyway, within one year, he had adopted me, sold his boat, motorcycle, and mustang (to my horror), become a Christian, and had become the model father and husband. Let me pause here to say, don’t try this at home. Millions of suckers a day think they’ll win the lottery, only one ever does. Millions of women a day think they’ll “change him”, few ever do. The difference is that the lottery will only cost you $5. The other usually costs the lives of the couple and often the children involved. Don’t do it. It rarely works out.

Anyway, having been adopted at the age of four, I really knew nothing else. He was my dad. In fact, I would go through long periods of time (literally years at a time) where I would forget that I was adopted. My biological father was not in the picture. In fact, I had never met or even seen a picture of the man. I didn’t need to. I had a good dad. So, after a few years of forgetting, it would suddenly come up. I remember one day coming home from school and asking my mother if I “looked like dad”. She looked at me for a second, then gently reminded me that dad had adopted me. I looked at her, eyes wide, and shouted “WHAT!” Haha. That happened a couple of times. I just simply forgot. In fact, I can remember attending big youth conventions as a kid and being asked to raise my hand if I was from a “broken home”. I can remember looking around at all those kids and thinking, “those poor kids”, not realizing that the speaker meant me! It was easy to forget, after all, my home wasn’t broken. And so life moved forward with me forgetting for a while, then suddenly being reminded through some happenstance.

One of those happenstances took place about six years ago while I was living in Pittsburgh. One night, in the middle of the night, I received a phone call to let me know that my biological father had passed away. To be honest with you, I don’t remember much about the call, nor even who it was that called me. But I do remember a few things. One of the things that really stood out to me that night was that it was real, and that other people knew about it. That hadn’t really occurred to me but it was something that became a reality once I received that call. The other thing was the realization that I had two half sisters and a half brother living in Colorado. Again, the details are a bit sketchy for me, but I somehow made contact with them that very night. To this day I can’t remember how it happened. How, after all those years, I was suddenly in contact with all these people within minutes. That night I also discovered that I had a grandmother alive and living in Colorado. Suddenly my Beaver Cleaver existence ended, and I was booked on the next episode of Jerry Springer. It was surreal.

Within a few months, I was making the trip to Colorado and meeting my sisters, brother, grandmother, and nieces and nephews for the first time. It was a strange day spent looking at lots of family photos, visiting my grandmother in a nursing home, taking a motorcycle ride with my brother in law (oddly, the one I probably had the most in common with), and realizing that I had very much gotten the better end of the deal. Though they were older than I was, my biological father had left before I was born, and had eventually taken up residence near them. From the stories they told, and even through seeing their own interpersonal relationships, it was pretty clear that my childhood had been a dream vacation compared to theirs. It was a sad day as I realized that I had teenaged nieces and nephews that I probably would never know, a grandmother who was mad at the world, and siblings who really had little in the way of family support. I went away determined to maintain a relationship with them. Shortly afterward, I moved to London.

In the years since that visit, the youngest of the sisters and I have stayed in touch. She sends me regular pictures and updates of the family. The story goes that, on Cayrn’s thirteenth birthday, our grandmother told her about me and even gave her a picture. Apparently she had been looking for me ever since. I haven’t, however, been as fortunate with Pam and David. Whether its busyness, or simply a lack of desire, Pam and David just haven’t been very open to having a relationship beyond Christmas cards. Still, they’re often in my thoughts and prayers and I have this hope that one day they’ll see the love of Jesus.

This month, however, some of those hopes were lost when I first received an email to let me know that my grandmother had died, and then received another only a week later to let me know that David had committed suicide. Apparently he had separated from his wife, had been living in an RV, and decided to end it, all alone in that RV.

I don’t write any of that for sympathy. The truth is, I didn’t know David or my grandmother. My grandmother was in her 90’s and David wasn’t all that interested (though possibly a little more interested than I understood as he mentioned me in his suicide letter and also left me some art work.) I mention it only because the first thought in my head, once I heard the news, is that Jesus came to heal the sick. There are a few themes, always rattling around in my head, and one of those is that Jesus came to heal the sick. When I read the stories of Jesus, I always have to ask myself who he would be hanging out with if he came to earth today? I don’t think we quite grasp the enormity of whom Jesus spent his time with. People so reviled, not only by religious leaders, but also by the culture at large, that he was regularly rebuked for it. Yet his response was always that he had come for them.

What good are Christians and churches, hanging out in steepled buildings? I recently had a pastor friend suggest that one of the biggest problems facing the church these days was the “I want it my way” culture that was rising up around us. It is his belief that this culture is leading to an epidemic of church hopping. That, when people don’t have their needs met through a church, they simply leave. And, while I have always agreed with that to a point, I also think it’s a cop out. Why, for instance, aren’t their needs being met? And, furthermore, what are their needs? Answer those two questions and we’ll be well on our way to winning several generations to Jesus.

As my two sisters, and their children, try to deal with the grief of a lost grandmother and brother, all in the space of a week and a half, I can’t help but wonder if there are any Christians nearby, reaching out to them. Do those Christians even know they exist? Or, like so many Christians, are they satisfied with the notion that, as long as that sign sits out front with its catchy little slogan, the sick will know where to come when they finally get desperate enough.

Build it and they will come. A slogan that’s lost nearly all of its certainty.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

parlevue english?

You have to hand it to the French. Nearly every other nation on the planet is learning and embracing the English language, but not the French. They don’t care if it affects their business, their politics, their foreign affairs, their tourism, or anything else. If you think you’re going to come to France and find people who can even muddle through some English, think again. They’re simply not having it. Either learn French or be prepared to really struggle to find what you need. I found that out the hard way.

Jamie and I arrived at the airport on Monday, stood in line to check our bags, haggled with the Ryan Air staff over all of our baggage issues (this airline seems to have restrictions on everything from the weight, to the shape, to the very colour of your luggage), only to find out that Jamie’s passport was expired. I just stood there shocked. Even more so, I picked up the passport and stared intensely at the dates as if I believed that, if I stared hard enough, they would change. They didn’t. As I was going to France to lead worship, however, there was no backing out, so we had no choice but to change our plans. I was going to France alone.

After the shock of it all, we were able to reach the U.S. embassy and get an emergency meeting for Jamie to receive an emergency passport. Still, she and Olyvia would have to come a day later which means that I was on my own. Now, normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but Jamie is the only French speaker in the family and was the only one who knew the directions from the airport to Les Pas Opton. In fact, I didn’t even know where we were going (a really bad habit I have).

And so I got Jamie and Olyvia safely on a train back to London, while I boarded a plane to Nantes, France. Upon arriving in Nantes, I made my way through passport control, picked up our bags (got asked if I was playing at the Celtic festival this week…sadly, no), and headed over to the car rental desk where I was handed the keys to a large bubble on wheels. Then I began the task of trying to figure out where I was, and where I needed to be. I knew that it was somewhere on the Vendee Coast, but I had no idea where. Furthermore, not only did my car rental place not have GPS, but the only one that did wouldn’t rent me a unit without the car (let the French snubbing begin). I was on my own.

Though I knew that I was somewhere on the outskirts of Nantes, I really had no idea where. Furthermore, the only map I had came in the French guide book Jamie had packed in our backpack, and it was and is the smallest, and saddest map ever conceived. All I could do was to try and drive southwest, make it to the coast, and then ask around to see if anybody knew where “Spring Harvest” was. I was in for a long drive.

After a bit of effort (and a couple of backtracks), I did eventually find a highway that was located on the “map” (thank GOD for numbered highways!). Problem was, I couldn’t decide which way I needed to head on that highway. There was just no way of knowing. None of the town names on the signs were on my “map” (and I use the term loosely). All I could do was to pick a direction and see if one of the town names that was on my map, eventually showed up. So I drove.

Eventually, not having any idea where I was, nor where I was heading, I got off the highway and pulled into a car wash where I approached a man who was washing his car. “Parlevue English?”, I asked him. Of course not. By some miracle, however, I had just happened to get off where another highway was passing through (Bare in mind that highways over here are rarely like American freeways. They’re sometimes just simple two lane roads. I have no idea why they call them highways.), and also where there happened to be a sign within sight. I showed him where I needed to be on the map and, through sign language and lots of French (he continued to speak to me in French even though I had made it very clear that I did not speak French), he pointed me in the direction that I needed to go. I eventually found a petrol station where I bought a real map and sat through another lesson in directions, and in French.

By some miracle I did eventually find my way to the coast and, once there, also realized that one of the documents given to me by Spring Harvest happened to have an address on it. I just hadn’t recognize it as an address. So, only two hours late for my meeting, and after having seen most of the French countryside, I made it to my destination where I was greeted…in English…sigh.

Now, there are probably several morals within the above story. And if I were Carrie, I would probably point them out to you. But the lesson that keeps coming back to me here is that there’s no such thing as pointless education. You see, In 5th and 6th grades, and then again in high school, I actually sat through French classes at school. I say “sat through” because very little learning actually took place. At least not on my part. I was living in Oklahoma and the closest French speakers were in Canada (I’m not including the Cajans here because they also speak English) and, let’s be honest, who cares? So why in the world did I need to learn French? And so, after more than three years of French, I knew how to tell somebody my name (She’s my pal Tim Miller), knew how to say cheese (fromage), knew how to say green (verde), could count to ten (I won’t go through it), and knew how to stress the word DAM on the end of MaDAM! That was it. And that’s how I found myself driving through the French countryside, in a rental car, approaching strangers, and asking them if they parlevued English (and overhearing every one of them whisper “dumb American”, in a snooty French accent, as I was walking away).

And so this plea of forgiveness goes out to my French teacher, Mrs. Girrard. Mrs. Girrard, you were a Saint (she’s catholic, so that will mean something to her), I was a fool, and I’ve truly paid the penance for my arrogance and stupidity. You were right, and I was wrong.

And if I had it to do all over again, I’d have at least listened long enough to learn how to say “Lance Armstrong owns you! Kiss my red, white, and blue backside!”

: )

Saturday, August 04, 2007


Do all rappers, and/or people who enjoy flashing gang signs in pictures, live on the west side?

How is it possible that Level 42 have a Definitive Collection album? Wouldn’t it basically just include that one song? And, on that same note, wouldn’t Tears For Fears definitive collection basically just be Songs From the Big Chair?

Did you know that, according to British charts, The Goo Goo Dolls are a one hit wonder?

“Do I look like the kind of guy who wears gold chains?” This was my question to a twelve year old who kept trying to sell me “a genuine 24 karat gold chain” out of his pocket yesterday.

Is it wrong to open a worship service with, “To those about to rock, we salute you.”? More importantly, are the French easily offended? I hope to answer both of those questions this week.

And finally, how many roads must a man walk down, before you can call him a man?

Answers to any or all of these questions are appreciated.

In the news of the week, and after a whole lot of work, I got accepted into the University of London, Kings College, this week to work on a Masters in Theological Education. It will take me two years to complete but I couldn’t be happier to put in the work. After that I’m thinking about truck driving school.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

us vs. the world?

Serve them. Love them. And remember that the mission is always right in front of you.

The following video was actually on CNN this week. The man doing the yelling is the priest of the church that sits in the background. I think he forgot the point. Prepare yourself. It’s offensive.