Thursday, January 25, 2007

We have moved… well our blog has anyway!

Please come see us at our new home at

Hope to see you there… the site is going to be way cooler!

Till next time… Peace!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Here is a hard one to swallow..

God never asked us to be ‘successful’, just faithful. I ponder this as I sit here at the tattoo shop with no one coming in this week. Now in my rational mind, I know that this is a slow time of year for tattoos, and business will pick up in a month or so. I know that the people I have worked on are happy, and they came back for more work. So rationally, things are progressing at an expected and normal rate. However… part of me does wonder “what if no one else ever comes in? What if this ministry simply will not sustain itself? What if…..?” You get the picture, right?

The problem is that all those outcomes are possible. But as I look on these things, I run smack into a very difficult truth. God wanted me to be faithful. Faithful is a process of sorts, more than it is a product. It is growing of the fruit, not the actual fruit itself. Somehow that makes it all just a little harder for me. Why? Simple, it’s not easily measurable. Success is generally measurable by such questions as; Did you meet your intended goals? Did you check all the things off the to-do list? Are you operating in the black? These are all questions that are generally easy to answer, not much thought involved if you know what I mean. But what about the question; Are you faithful (and to what?).

God calls us to the process, and we tend to run headlong toward the product. People are funny that way, at least I sure am. So in a world where you are told at every turn to be successful, and by successful they mean buy our products, remember to listen for the call to faithfulness. It is a call to a lifestyle more than a comfort level. It’s a call to a verb more than a noun. It’s a call to a love affair, not just physical relations (keepin’ it G rated here).

So if you are thinking about a tattoo, stop buy! We seem to have time. And in the meantime, I will remember the real reason we are here, and try to not focus on the easy answers.

Till next time… Peace!


Monday, January 15, 2007

“Can you see the real me… can you?”

I don’t know how many of you know (or liked) the Who’s album Quadrophenia, but I did. The song “The real me” is one of my all time favorites. I like it for a couple of reasons actually. For one thing, it has a great bass riff that runs all the way through it. For another, it speaks to me. You see (now I am sure this is going to be a shock to anyone who knows me), I never really have felt like I “fit in”. It’s ok, I’ll give you a minute to recover. Just breath deeply... there you go. Most of my life’s story seems to be that same old square peg in a round hole kind of thing. Now I am sure that everyone feels that way, it’s not just me…. Right? However, some things happened this week to really bring this to mind. You see I had a couple of people come into the shop to see who I was, and what I was about. Everyone was very polite and civil, especially for a tattoo shop, however it was very clear that I was being judged, categorized, and pigeonholed. But then again, that isn’t anything new is it?

One of the things I have learned since I left the pulpit, is that things are all the same. It doesn’t matter if you are sitting in ‘a men’s business meeting’ in some small town in the middle of nowhere, or a tattoo shop in south warren, the paradigm is still the same; “that is just not how things are done”. I have heard essentially the same sentence come out of the mouths of dusty old men in ill fitting suits, as well as inked out young bucks who are running out of places to shove metal through their bodies! Now who would have thought I would see such a parallel in these two different places? But there it is none the less. Things have history, and that is a simple fact. The past is an inescapable fact when you live in a world that has time. But all too often we allow ourselves to become the unwitting slaves to that history (that past), or at least to our perception of it. Why do I say perception of it? Because none of us on this side of the dirt are truly objective. We all see the world through glasses tinted by our previous experiences and beliefs. There is no escaping it, we seem to be wired that way. And it is not a good or bad thing, it just is a fact (or at least my perception of a fact). You say the word “minister”, and a whole set of assumptions leaps into play. You say the word “musician” and a whole other set of assumptions come to life. These assumptions are based on our past experience, coupled with whatever knowledge we assume to be true. The result is that we have our minds made up, to a certain extent, about how things should be before we even give them a chance. As long as real life doesn’t do anything to buck that, we think all is right with the world. But once something or someone doesn’t quite fit in with that script we have written in our heads, then back up the truck we have a problem! Let me try to explain with yet another story…

There was once a man who hurt his leg. So he build himself some crutches. They helped him, and worked great. He was so impressed with how much they helped him, he made a set for everyone in his family, then taught them how to use them. Before long, everyone in the village aspired to have a crutch. Some were gold, some were carved out of marble, and some were just plain wood. Schools sprang up with professors who expounded on the many uses, and moral rightness of crutches. Before long, no one walked on their own two legs any longer, till one day some people from another country were shipwrecked, and walked into town. What a scandal, walking around like that! Simply relying on their two legs!!! They were immediately jailed. However the idea got out, and some counter culture malcontents tried to walk around without their crutches. The movement grew, and soon the village was divided. It was eventually brought to a court to settle the matter once and for all. The defense simply allowed a man to walk around upright without the use of crutches, and pointed out that this was in fact completely natural. The prosecutor said that it is impossible to walk this way, and the person has simply deluded himself into believing that they are really walking, when in fact they can not and therefore were not. The judge banged his gavel and agreed with the prosecutor. The matter was settled, because you see, they had also all grown blind. They had lost their sight because they had refused to see for so long.

Putting aside our preconceptions of people and things is not an easy thing to do is it? But we need to try. It is kind of like the effort involved in growing pineapples as opposed to eating canned ones. (If you don’t get that one, read the blog about pineapples I wrote). If we are going to help people, if we are going to try to be Jesus in this world, if we are going to pass through this life and try to leave it just a little nicer then when we found it, then we had better start trying to see people for who they are, as opposed to who we think they are. Now notice that I said ‘we’, because I am just as much to blame for this as anyone, if not more so! But here is another secret I have found. The more you can see people for what they are without piling on your subjective preconceived notions, the more clearly you begin to see yourself.

I have trouble seeing the real me! I am not all that sure who I really am yet, and I don’t think I am alone. All too often we allow others perceptions of us to dictate and color our own view of ourselves. Just take a quick look at the fashion industry, or even your target ad, and you will see that there are a lot of people who are paid a lot of money to try to tell me who I should be, and how I should look. And I am sorry to say that there are a lot of people who listen to that, and try to adapt to fit that view of who they are.

So what about all of this? Well as I see it, we have one good option here. Try to be like Jesus (wow, what a novel concept huh?). It seems to me that when Jesus met people, he saw souls with needs. Not prostitutes, religious professionals, and lepers. No, just souls that were precious, that also had needs. How would our day today change if we could actually see everyone we met as an immortal soul that had needs? Not religious affiliation, political party, or even if they listen to country music (yea, I know, this last one is hard to swallow, but stay with me). I know this is an over simplification of things, but hopefully you get what I am trying to say here. Of course there is a context we all live in, and that can’t be ignored. But perhaps there is a way to put that context, into context? Ok, that one hurt my head a little, so I better wrap up here. So since I started with a quote, I will leave with one…

Here’s looking at you…


Monday, January 08, 2007

Please allow me to inflict my pineapple story on you…

This story has been bouncing around my head for a few weeks now, and oddly enough has found a number of applications in my life. So many in fact, that my next tattoo is most probably going to be a pineapple. Yea, I know, not very cool, but hey, I never really have fit in anyway.

So the story goes like this (don’t worry, this is a VERY abridged version) ; There was a country that grew pineapples. They decided to share what they were doing with other countries, so they canned them and sent them off. These other countries that received them were thrilled! Their cooks started to come up with all sorts of recipes for canned pineapple to dazzle the senses and tempt the appetite. After many years, canned pineapple worked it’s way into the cultural backdrop of some of these countries. Now all this is fine and good, however these countries missed out. They never knew anything about planting, growing, tending, and the joy of eating, fresh pineapple!

I fear this is our story in many ways. Looking at it from a church perspective for a moment, let’s assume that something like a “postmodern” worship service in the Pacific Northwest is the pineapple. Someone out there decided to plant, tend and grow a particular flavor of worship. It thrives, and they want to share the information with other churches. They write books, they give seminars, maybe they even record the services and send them out. They do all of this to share what God is doing in their neck of the woods. So far so good. Now other congregations read about it, and think “Wow! That’s must be what we need to do!”. Then off they run to make something that looks like what they have seen, heard, or read. Now all this is fine and good, and there is nothing inherently wrong with any of this. However, when this happens, people miss out on the process of planting, growing, tending their own crop of fruit. They have no experiential knowledge of the process required to produce that particular fruit. Not to mention the fact that it is possible that they should be growing bananas instead. Not that there is anything wrong with pineapples, but maybe for where they are, bananas would be better for them!

Why so much fanfare for pineapples? Why based on this story would I have one tattooed on me? I’m glad you asked! You see, there has been a lot of discussion about our little tattoo shop mission apparently. I think that is a wonderful thing! But I just wanted to give it the pineapple perspective for a second. I have spent years studying worship trends, church plantings, and ministry strategies. (Ok that sounded much more stuffy and intelligent than it should. Any minister spends time studying these things, so don’t go and think that I know anything special about this!!). We didn’t start this mission to be post modern, emergent, or any other cool church word. We did it because it seemed like the right thing for us to do at this particular place and time. I don’t think everyone should do it. I don’t think we are the only people who should do it. It is simply what we have done (for better or worse). But here is the real surprise for me… It isn’t about the pineapples as much as it is about the farming!!! All of us who are involved in this project have been changed by doing this project. We hope that the ministry will be successful both financially (it would be really nice to be paid for a change) as well as spiritually. But no matter what happens with it, we have been changed forever by the experience. We have planted something, and are in the process of tending to it and seeing if it will grow. I have no idea what that fruit will taste like yet. But I do know there has been a blessing in the process of farming it!

So why the tattoo? I need to remind myself to be open to the experience. I would have never in a million years guessed that this is what my ministry would look like! But there you have it none the less. God has shown me many things simply because I was open to the idea of doing something different. God has changed me simply because I was willing to try something new. I want that tattoo to remind me that there are a lot of different kinds of fruit in the world, and I don’t have to settle for eating only one or two kinds. Pineapples are great (especially fresh ones), but I’m a big fan of apples too! And who knows, in five years maybe I’ll be growing something that no one has ever even heard of yet.

So what does this all boil down to? I have no idea! It is one of those kinds of storied that has applications all over the place, and that is why I wanted to share it with you. For me, it is a reminder that the process is just as (if not more) important as the product. So I pray that God will keep me open to what He has to teach me in the process.

So there you have it…
Till next time… Peace ‘yall!


Saturday, December 30, 2006

Ok, so first off let me apologies for not posting in a while. It has been kind of crazy now that we are open. It’s not that we have been overrun with business or anything, it is just that there was more to get ready than we though. Plus, you can factor in the holidays and all. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone by the way!!! Dan, you wanted to see some stuff, so these pictures are for you. I had to put the ugly pictures of me in there, just to prove to you that I really am doing the work :-)

Well, our first couple of weeks have been interesting to say the least. Not that we have changed the world yet, but we have done some good work. We have honored some people with memorial tattoos, we have bonded with families that came to watch, and we even got one woman who said that she was NEVER going to a church, to admit that if church was in the shop, that she might consider it. And another person who would like to be part of a bible study that we plan to start there.
I can guarantee, that we have a place were “community” is happening whether we want it to or not!

All in all, I think this ministry could really work here. People are hanging out and talking (Yes everyone, even Patrick has sat and shot the breeze in a tattoo shop a couple of times! I am willing to bet it’s the first time that has happened…. But not the last I hope!!). They are getting their tattoos and not walking out right away. It kind of reminds me of the barber shops of the 40’s. Not that I am that old mind you…. I just look it some days. I think God is moving at Sacred Ink, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Keep checking back, and don’t forget to call for an appointment. That includes you Dan & Billie!!!!!!

Till next time…. Peace!


Friday, December 15, 2006

Ta Daaa!!!

Sacred Ink Tattoos will officially open our doors for business this Tuesday. It has been a very long road, and there is still much more of it to travel. But I think this certainly qualifies as a mile marker. So here are some pictures for you. Hope you enjoy, and hope to see you all soon…


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Almost there!!

Well, we have a license to tattoo in Warren Michigan… woo hooo!!! So, technically we are legal, and ready to open. However the reality of it is just a little different. It seems to me that every time we take one step closer to actually launching this mission, we are hit with something unexpected. This time it is a family medical emergency. Basically the next 24-48 hours will have a lot to say about when we can open our doors. I am hoping to be tattooing by the end of this week, but we shall see.

Sorry I don’t have pictures for you yet, but it is like I said, the hits just keep coming. So you will have to take my word for it… the shop looks GREAT!!! I would totally have my work done there! (But I may be just a little biased). So please keep the faith, and check back in a few days. I should know more by then, and may even have pictures. Till then, thanks for all the support you have all given!!!