Best Beers of 2012…so far

The best beers that I’ve tried this year are as follows.

1. Widmer Bros. Oatmeal Porter
Truly an impressive Porter. The creamy texture coupled with the flavor of toasted oats makes it taste like you’re drinking a Mocha. Possibly the best porter I’ve ever had.

2. Logsdon Farms Seizoen
Everyone is trying to brew a good Saison right now, and no one does it better than Logsdon Farms. Both the regular and Brett versions are fantastic. If you can find the regular version on tap, order away!

3. Pelican + Gigantic Schwatzenfreude
Gigantic is a new brewery that appears to be opening up in SE Portland possibly this summer? I tried a sample of this Baltic Porter at Hawthorne Hophouse and was impressed with the rich chocolate and coffee notes. Looking forward to trying their other beers.

4.  Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye
I’m loving the addition of Rye in IPA’s. Strong, smoky malt character really compliments the sharp piney NW hops. Pretty tough to beat the packaging on this one as well!

5. Fort George Sunrise Oatmeal Pale Ale
Smooth and creamy malt ends with a long-lasting citrusy punch. Honestly after a drink it would linger for about 5 minutes! AND it’s only 5.3% alcohol which as I’m getting older I appreciate more and more.


Elmer Gantry


In Sinclair Lewis’ fantastic satirical novel “Elmer Gantry”, he tells the story of a young man who pursued ministry for all the wrong reasons and ended up getting booted (initially) because he was sleeping around.  But as he worked as a salesman he noticed…

“…he missed leading the old hymns, and the sound of his own voice, the sense of his own power, as he held an audience by his sermon.  Always on Sunday evenings (except when he had an engagement with a waitress or a chambermaid) he went to the evangelical church nearest his hotel.  He enjoyed criticizing the sermon professionally….When he encountered really successful churches, his devotion to the business became a definite longing to return to preaching: he ached to step up, push the minister out of the pulpit, and take charge, instead of sitting back there unnoticed and unadmired, as though he were an ordinary layman. ‘These chumps would be astonished if they knew what I am!’ he reflected.”

Usually when someone attends Evergreen and tells me, “I used to be in ministry” I think “oh no, this is trouble” because many times (not always) the individual feels some kind of sense of self-importance, or wants to desperately prove they are a peer and understand what it is like to “do ministry.”  They want you to know that they have experience in this and want to be recognized not just as a “layman”.  This of course is a misunderstanding of “ministry” and who is “called to do it” (everyone!).  But it’s also very frustrating. We have also had individuals who used to be doing full-time ministry come and be very humble and helpful at Evergreen.  But these seem to be more rare.

What is it about positions of ministry that can make us such prideful, arrogant people?

(I have a LOT more to say about Elmer Gantry, which will come in time!)

Disciplined Habit

“Disciplined habit is so extraordinary fruitful.  Sometimes a good habit will carry me along when my heart is not in my work.  I have had people tell me that they go to church not particularly interested in being there.  But it is Sunday morning and they go to church.  There are silly people who ask, “What good is going to church out of habit?” Because that is the number one reason to go.  And those who go out of habit often find they have unexpected extraordinary experiences.  Habits will carry me through the times when my heart is not in it.  If you don’t think those times will occur-well, you know better.”  

Fred Craddock

A Good Word of Caution to Franchise and Video Venue Churches

“Every cult of personality that emphasizes the distinguished qualities, virtues, and talents of another person, even though these be of an altogether spiritual nature, is worldly and has no place in the Christian community; indeed, it poisons the Christian community.  The desire we so often hear expressed together for “episcopal figures,” “priestly men,” “authoritative personalities” springs frequently enough from a spiritually sick need for the admiration of men, for the establishment of visible human authority, because the genuine authority of service appears to be so unimpressive.  There is nothing that so sharply contradicts such a desire as the New Testament itself in its description of a bishiop (1 Tim. 3:1ff).  

“The Church does not need brilliant personalities but faithful servants of Jesus and the brethren.”  

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The Evergreen Community

This August will mark 6 years since Kelli and I have moved to Portland and have started participating at our church, The Evergreen Community.  As I was reflecting, I’ve realized that this is the longest time I’ve ever been a part of the same church.  I started going to church when I was 15 years old and was part of a great church in Bloomington, IL for about 3 or 4 years until I left for college.  At that point I was a youth sponsor for a short stint until I realized I was not cut out to be a youth pastor (tough job!).  Then I preached at small country churches all over central Illinois for “pulpit supply”.  After I graduated from college I helped to plant a church in Lower Manhattan and was there for about 3 1/2 years and then moved to Tampa, FL where I was a part of a church for about a year until we moved to Portland.

And so Evergreen is the church home I have known the longest and I am not planning on going anywhere soon.  I’ve realized how valuable it is to stick with a community of people for a long period of time.

It’s amazing to see the transformation and growth that has happened with Evergreen in the past 6 years.  When we arrived, Evergreen was about 2 years old.  Now that we’re 8 years old, we are finding ourselves to be a much different people than we were 6 years ago.  One thing that has definitely changed is that we have a ton of kids now!  That will certainly change things.

Looking at our time at Evergreen and where we are currently at, I’m really hopeful about this next season.

I truly enjoy our team of staff and elders.  Our meetings are filled with laughter, care and concern for one another and the community, and true wisdom.  I genuinely enjoy and respect our elders and staff.  It’s a great team!

Relationally and structurally I think we’re at a really healthy place right now.  We’ll always have growth areas (I can think of a few!), but as I look around at what is going on, I’m encouraged.  Like I said, we’ve got a fantastic elder team.  We’re seeing a lot of visitors and are growing.  Our current new people’s group may be the largest one we’ve ever had.  People are caring for one another, bringing meals to new parents, giving large sums of money to families who need it.  Discussions on Sunday are fun and engaging, lots of interaction.  Despite the flaws that we all have, you get a sense that people truly like one another!

I know that not everyone has this positive of an experience when it comes to church, but I am grateful to be a part of a humble, caring, loving church.


Owen Klarke Bagby

O my son, give me your heart. 
      May your eyes take delight in following my ways.  Prov. 23:26

Owen was born on St. Patricks Day, March 17th, 2012 @ 7:13am weighing in at 8 lbs. 8 oz.

Kelli woke me up around 5am and said she had been having contractions since 2am.

We left for the hospital a little before 6am and Kelli had the baby just over an hour later.

We were a little nervous about the higher risks of natural birth after having to have a C-section the first time but the labor went great and Kelli did amazing!  No drugs!  Didn’t even have time to get an I.V. in.  I was very proud of Kelli’s strength.

Gram got to meet his little brother later in the afternoon and loves having him around. Tonight when I was playing with Gram in his room, Owen let out a cry and Gram put his toys down immediately and said, “OWEN!” and ran out to check on him.

So far Owen has been really mellow.  Gram was NOT a sleeper from the beginning but O loves it so far.  Let’s hope it lasts!

Obviously, later this week after we get settled in a bit and figure out what life looks like with 2 kids, I will be brewing up an O’Bagby’s Celebration IPA in his honor.  🙂

Also, thanks to all the Evergreeners who texted us and congratulated us this morning.  Pretty hilarious to get 30 texts at one time.  Nice work!

Bonhoeffer on the resurrection

“The drastic acceptance or rejection of earthly life reveals that only death has any value here.  To clutch at everything or to cast away everything is the reaction of one who believes fanatically in death.

But wherever it is recognized that the power of death has been broken, wherever the world of death is illumined by the miracle of the resurrection and of the new life, there no eternities are demanded of life but one takes of life what it offers, not all or nothing but good and evil, the important and the unimportant, joy and sorrow; one neither clings convulsively to life nor casts it frivolously away.  One is content with the allotted span and one does not invest earthly things with the title of eternity; one allows to death the limited rights which it still possess.  It is from beyond death that one expects the coming of the new man and of the new world, from the power by which death has been vanquished.

The risen Christ bears the new humanity within Himself, the final glorious “yes” which God addresses to the new man.  It is true that mankind is still living the old life, but it is already beyond the old.  It still lives in a world of death, but it is already beyond death.  It still lives in a world of sin, but it is already beyond sin.  The night is not yet over, but already the dawn is breaking.”

Ethics 80-81 (Touchstone edition)