Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Life Change equals proof, and other stuff (but actually 395)

My friend Michael wrote this today. I started to comment on it, but my comment grew longer than I feel is appropriate for a comment, and is really a whole other thought, and since I haven’t posted in forever, I thought it would be appropriate as it’s own thought. Please read his post first.

(edit)

I think people say they want one thing and do another. I think it's easier to watch "The Biggest Loser" and feel good about eating a salad than it is to work towards a healthy lifestyle. I think it's easier to sleep in and watch football on Sundays than to commit to a community. Easier to show up five minutes late and leave five minutes early so you don't have to talk to anyone.

I'm not being pessimistic, I just know my own tendencies, and know that most people will say they want depth, but won't go deep because it's not convenient. Depth in action is scary because it requires life change. And this is my greatest struggle as a leader of a group. When God exposes brokenness (usually my own) and I ask hard questions in my class, people tend not to come back. The struggle is that I know it's not up to me, it's God's work. My role is to speak the name of God into their lives and then to pray that they listen.

But that doesn't make me feel any better about the thousand that say they want depth and community, but then only ten show up for it. I know my job is to focus on the ten and I do. I love the ten to the best of my ability. I am content with what God is doing and who he’s bringing. The reality is I can’t handle more than that right now. I know God is protecting me, protecting Shannon and the kids.

Dr. Peterson wrote “a person has to be thoroughly disgusted with the way things are to find the motivation to set out on the Christian way.” I guess the 990 just aren’t disgusted enough yet.

Michael, I think you’re right. More than ever people want proof of the remedy before they’ll buy. And the only proof Christianity has to offer is a life well-discipled. So I’ll keep working with my ten, hoping their lives will prove to ten more.

Monday, 13 October 2008

FOM running log (but actually WAY over.)

I spent the weekend at Ridgecrest producing one of Lifeway’s Festivals of Marriage. What follows is a running log of my weekend.

Thursday Oct. 9

4:00 pm: Pull out of the Lifeway parking lot. Nashville traffic. Awesome. But the car’s got an aux line in. Now if I only had an 1/8” cable…

4:30 pm: The ankle’s bothering me pretty bad. I don’t know what the deal is. I don’t recall doing anything to it. Pulling off around the Hermitage to get a new wrap, a cuppa and some drugs. And if I pass a Walmart? Perhaps a 1/8” cable…

5:30 pm: Who am I kidding. I got the other stuff 45 minutes ago. I NEED that cable. I’ve got “Growing Up Live” and “Studio 60” and a 6 hour drive ahead of me.

6:00 pm: Back on the road. Was the cable worth two hours? At least the traffic’s thinned out.

7:30 pm: In goes Peter Gabriel’s “Growing Up Live”

7:35 pm: Holy Crap Growing Up Live is brilliant.

7:45 pm: BRILLIANT!!

9:00 pm (eastern): Pulling off in Knoxville for some food. Talk to Shannon for a few minutes. Ankle feels worse. I tell her I might have to go to the doctor when I get back.

10:00ish pm: Have had a religious experience with “Growing Up Live.” Seriously, I found myself wishing we sang Peter Gabriel songs in church. In goes “Studio 60.”

Friday Oct 10

12:00 am: Pull into Ridgecrest. Check-in and see the “Watch out for Bears!” flyer, it makes me chuckle, even though my ankle feel like someone hit it with a sledgehammer. Decline the meal plan. I’m in Black Mountain baby!! My Father’s Pizza! The Madison Inn! The Dripolator! El Camino! Thai Basil! I’m a Black Mountain local!

12:10 am: Two FOM couples check in right after me. In their defense, the room numbering in the Mt. Laurel hotel is bizarre and has absolutely ahnothing to do with floors. But they take the elevator the conference level, where there are no rooms. I look at their room number and tell them where to go. They’ve got a cart so I let them take the elevator without me. Mainly I don’t want them to see me limp. One of them asks me if I’m a “famous christian singer.” I find this bizarre but merely say, “no ma’am, I just work for Lifeway.”

12:15 am: Of course my room is at the end of the hall. I start to laugh the pain is so bad. And perhaps I need to visit the ER in the morning…

12:30 am: I’m giggling like mad because I can’t get my act together as I keep leaving stuff on the opposite side of the room. Grit my teeth and go back down the hall to get some ice.

12:45 am: Icing my ankle doesn’t feel as good as it should. Spend some time writing to give the ice time to work.

2:00 am: Turn off the computer and take the ice off my ankle. Ice didn’t seem to help a bit, but if I can get to sleep it should be fine.

Unspecified time: Awakened by pain in ankle. Can’t find a comfortable position.

5:30 am: Can’t go back to sleep. Take the Gayle Cocktail (4 ibuprofen, 2 acetaminophen. To the makers of Advil & Tylenol (respectively), I’d be happy to give you credit if we can work out some sort of promotional consideration). Manage to drift off to sleep after awhile.

Unspecified time: OW! Cramp! Cramp! In the same calf! Sweet mother Cramp! I can’t stretch it out because I can’t flex my ankle! AHHHH!!

8:00 am: Alarm. There’s no way I’m getting up.

8:45 am: Up, can hardly stand to put weight on it. Hobble to the shower. Call Satterfield to tell him what’s what.

10:00 am: Compromise with Shannon by telling her we’ll find a doctor or nurse at FOM registration to look at it. If it’s bad enough I’ll go to the ER.

10:15 am: Into the Black Mountain Rite Aid to buy a cane. That’s right, I bought a cane while at Ridgecrest. How many people can say that?

10:29 am: The lady at McDonald’s tells me I was the cut-off car for breakfast. Ha HA!! I’m awesome. Suck on that car behind me, I’m gettin’ the last Sausage Mcmuffin!

11:15am: My computer tells me it’s going to take 10 hours to transfer 2 gig worth of Propresenter background files off the Lifeway server. That shouldn’t be a problem at all. (Event starts in approximately 8 hours).

5:30 pm: Haven’t left my chair, ankle one big continuous throb. Spent the last six hours entering songs into Propresenter the hard way. Seriously, this is why we have interns. The network kicks me off about two-thirds of the way through the transfer. I guess that’ll have to do!

6:00 pm: Hobble up to the booth. Putting the show together, finding backgrounds, actors still haven’t shown up, and Mark tells me they have tech cues. The two RCC house guys can’t get the speaker’s mics to work. House opens in thirty.

6:10 pm: Slamming announcement slides into Pro. The tech guys just unplugged the wireless receiver rack and are hoofing it downstairs. Mark is having a panic attack. House opens in twenty.

6:15 pm: I’m barely ready to run media for the night. Actors show up. Mics still not patched. Oh wait, the screens aren’t on.

6:20 pm: Pro freaks out, nothing on screens. I’m having a panic attack now. Mics still not patched. House opens in ten.

6:22 pm: Get the screens working. Sound is a crapshoot. Mark has clumps of hair in his hands.

6:25 pm: Restart my computer. Screens go black while this happens. Mark about loses it until I tell him that was supposed to happen. Mics still not patched. House opens in five.

6:30 pm: House opens. Slides and preshow music roll. Mark brings up the drama’s light cues. Mics patched (we hope).

7:00 pm: Go flight. Show starts, people laugh at the video.

7:04 pm: Mark’s mic doesn’t work.

7:07 pm: Here’s a dirty little secret, I’ve never run Propresenter, Media Shout, or Powerpoint for any show or worship service. This is a lot of pressure!! My backgrounds are haphazard, and I discover, too late, that some of them wash the words out! Plus I’ve never worked with this worship leader, and while his notes say what he’s going to do, he doesn’t always follow it. Wait, what’s wrong with those backgrounds? Why are they so glitchy???

7:25 pm: The guy running lights sees something goes wrong with the wireless rack downstairs, so he takes off to fix it right as the drama WITH LIGHT CUES starts. It’s chaos in the booth as the sound guy and I struggle to cover it.

9:00 pm: The carnage is over. Plan time with the techs on Saturday to make sure the sound issues are worked out well in advance. Apologize to Mark, promising it’ll be better then next night. Set an appointment with the speaker in the morning to work out the rest of his slides. Talk with seminar leaders for a bit.

9:45 pm: Say goodnight to Mark, head into Black Mountain for food. Talk with Shannon, who’s working a puzzle with Jacob. Don’t want to wait at My Father’s for pizza. Get some Taco Bell. Head back to RCC.

10:30 pm: In the room, take the Gayle cocktail, watch “Charlie Bartlet” which I think is pretty decent. Obviously draws from “Ferris Bueller” and “Rushmore” but I like Anton Yeltsin and RD Jr. always great.

Satuday Oct 11

12:45 am: Think about writing. Think better of it. Turn off the light.

7:00 am: Alarm. Ignore

7:45 am: Meeting in forty-five minutes with Speaker. Have to get up.

8:30 am: No time for breakfast. Ankle feels better today. Meet with speaker, get notes for slides.

9:00 am: Make slides, finish entering songs, build show for tonight. Find Sports bar in Asheville to watch football.

11:10 am: I’m late! I’m hungry! I’m getting a caffeine headache! Hobble up to Clouds for a RCC “Starbuck’s” cuppa.

11:30 am: Headed into Asheville for football and wings. This is the one thing I want to do for myself this weekend.

12:00 pm: Pull in to the place right as OU/Texas starts. I’m awesome. And LO! What’s this? .25 wings? .50 oysters? Yes!

12:30 pm: I’m a multitasker. Eat wings, reencode background vids so they’ll play right. Read through a play a friend has asked me to direct. Keep an eye on TX. The Michigan couple next to me is not having a good time.

3:40 pm: Game runs long, no time for a shower. But TX wins, So I’m okay with it.

4:30 pm: Meet the tech guys, who ASSURE me the mics are good to go. Finish reencoding vids. Preselect backgrounds to go with songs. I’m awes.

6:30 pm: Doors open. Mark is much calmer. I am much calmer.

7:00 pm: Service goes off mostly without a hitch. Mostly. Worship leader freestyles a little more tonight.

9:30 pm: Seminar leaders make me feel good by calling Mark out in front of me, asking why I’m not writing this year. Mark takes my cane.

10:00 pm: Tonight it’s Wendy’s. Pushed my lunch too far to go to My Father’s tonight. Of my daily $35 meal allowance I have spent $34.72. I’m awesome.

10:30 pm: Room. Gayle Cocktail. Watch “Redbelt.” Wendy’s forgot the spoon for my Frosty.

Sunday Oct 12

12:30 am: Holy cow. Mamet delivers the goods. Chiwetel Ejiofor rules. Amazing.

7:30 am: Alarm. Up. Shower. Pack. Ankle feels MUCH better today.

8:30 am: Head into Black Mountain for food. I AM GOING TO THE DRIPOLATOR. I CANNOT LEAVE BLACK MOUNTAIN WITHOUT EATING AT ONE OF THE LOCAL PLACES I LOVE.

8:35 am: Dripolator doesn’t take credit cards. Crap.

8:36 am: Turn around, I’ll pay for it out of my pocket.

8:37 am: I don’t have any cash. Crap. Crap. !!

8:38 am: Settle for the gas station. Boo.

8:40 am: A guy approaches me as I get out of the car and asks for change. I offer to take him inside and get him something to eat. He says the owner will call the cops if I do that. I have one dollar. I give it to him.

9:00 am: Back at RCC, finishing slides and backgrounds.

10:15 am: Mark starts the giveaways. A church brought 32 couples. That’s awesome.

11:10 am: Speakers do the “longest married/shortest married” thing. There’s a couple here who’s been married eight days. Wow. Later I find out that a couple has been coming off and on to the FOM for seven years. The guy finally accepted Jesus last night. Amazing.

12:00 pm: It’s all over. We pack it in.

1:30 pm: Texas Roadhouse. We get steaks bigger than our heads.

2:30 pm: Quick stop at the ‘Bux for a cuppa. On the road. Listen to the Mamet commentary track on “Redbelt.” That guy’s the deal. More Studio 60 after that.

7:00 pm (central): Nashville. Lifeway. Home.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Breaching Whales (but actually 722)

My bro-bro’s PJ and Mike and I have a theory that we’re like whales. We like to swim in deep water, but every now and then we have to surface and just blow it out our blowholes. (hee hee) I’ve been pretty deep lately. I’d say the broken arm post was me starting to come up. The last post I was breaching. I can’t be sure, but at least tonight I feel like wallowing on the surface, smacking my tail around.

Either there is an alien growing in my ankle or I’ve cracked/broken/torn something, and I have NO IDEA HOW! I was explaining to Shannon that every now and then it gets a little stiff, but usually goes away. Tuesday morning I got up and it was kind of stiff. I didn’t think anything about it and went about my day. Wednesday morning I got up and it was stiff. I went ahead and worked out, and it was kind of twingy, but not too bad. By Wednesday night I could hardly walk. Now it’s swollen and I can hardly stand to put weight on it. And I can’t for the life of me figure out what I did! Here’s the funny part: As I drove to Ridgecrest tonight to PD an event this weekend I told Shannon I might have to go to the doctor on Monday. In and of itself that’s not so funny except as hobbled down to my room I thought I might not make it to Monday, I might need to go to the ER tomorrow. This part isn’t funny either except I remembered that at some point in the recent past I gave my insurance card to somebody who was taking one of my kids somewhere, and I can’t remember who. So I’m at Ridgecrest without my insurance card, and my ankle’s mysteriously the size of a softball. It’s sound terrible, but I keep laughing about it, so it must not be that bad. Of course it’s 1:15 in the morning, and I’ve been up since 4:30.

So I’m pretty sure I had a worship experience the car tonight with Peter Gabriel. I say pretty sure because I was singing at the top of my lungs, grinning like the village idiot while driving the North Carolina hills. I was “listening” to “Growing Up Live.” “Listening” is a word used here to mean I had the DVD in my cpu playing through the car stereo. (I would steal an occasional peak at the screen.) I have to say, whatever you’re doing right now, stop it. If you’re sleeping, wake up, get in the car and rush to your nearest purveyor of live concert DVD and purchase this. Stop reading!! Put the computer down and rush, I say, rush to get it. Barilliant. Brilstinkinliant. Kevin Jordan, I blame you for not introducing me to this sooner. I could have seen this years ago! And why doesn’t Kevin have a Facebook so I can properly berate him?

Anyway, I say ‘pretty sure’ because I’m having a fantastic time singing with Peter Gabriel, and I think to myself, “you know, people talk about what they hope Jesus says to them when they get to heaven, but when my time comes, I hope Jesus shows up singing ‘Solsbury Hill’ to me.” And then later I thought, “and my response to Him will be ‘In Your Eyes’

He’ll sing:

My heart was going boom boom, boom
Son, he said, grab your things, I’ve come to take you home.

And I’ll answer:

In your eyes, the light, the heat
In your eyes I am complete
In your eyes, the resolution
Of all the fruitless searches
In your eyes, I see the light and the heat
In your eyes
Oh, I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light
The heat I see in your eyes

And I realized I was worshipping in a way that’s very rare for me: I was completely unconscious of it. And I think those are the sweetest moments for me: when find myself ten feet deep in worship without the slightest idea of how I got there.

One final thing. I got here (RCC) around midnight. On the check-in counter is a flyer with big letters at the top saying: “Warning! Bear Sightings!”

Go figure.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

500 words of random drivel (but actually 451)

I’m really trying to like “Fringe.” I really am. But it’s really kind of terrible. Apart from the J.J. Abrams injected unknown/supernatural/thriller elements there’s nothing good about it. And I mean “ah-nothing.” I could forgive the clunky dialogue if the character development was any good. I could forgive the cardboard characters if the plot was any good. I could forgive the paint-by-number plots if the story arcs were any good. I could forgive the frozen tv dinner story arcs if…you get the point.

I’m terribly disappointed in it, and while I want to go on detailing it’s failings, I feel it would be belaboring the point (for me) and boring (for you). I haven’t yet given up on it, but I don’t know why. I keep hoping it’ll get better, but I don’t see how unless someone wrests control from everybody involved with it (except Abrams. He gets to stay). I think it’s because there’s nothing else on (I gave up on “Heroes” a long time ago). Maybe “Crusoe” will be better, and I’ll probably watch “My Own Worst Enemy” just to see how they handle it. I like Christian Slater well enough—he’s got all the makings to be a great action hero in the Bruce Willis vein, if he’s tough enough, and that’s the question mark.

With all that’s on the plate (see posts 1 & 2) there’s not much time for TV, but I’m the sucker that’ll plop down and find SOMETHING to watch. A couple of years ago I was convicted about my TV addiction, so I cut it out except for football. And I was surprised by how little I missed it. Yet I feel it’s important for who I am and what I do (lest I become like the Hollywood execs & producers who are COMPLETELY out of touch). On Demand, the DVR, and seasons on DVD have become my main avenues. So I don’t watch “The Office” in real time. I missed “Chuck”, which I hear is good.

So all that to say…I have no idea what. I told you this post was drivel, didn’t I?

But then after Fringe I had the weirdest dream about bears. I knew I was dreaming, and inside my dream I was camping and someone warned me about bears, and I said I knew all about the bears. Then (still in the dream) I fell asleep and had a dream about a bear attacking me and how to handle it. Then (still in the dream) I woke up to a bear attacking me and I handled it exactly like I did in the dream (inside the dream) and it worked. Then I woke up.

Bears in dreams. Weird.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

So Lorelei Broke Her Arm... (but actually 589)


It actually happened Sunday, but I kept forgetting to take pictures with the cast, and now it turns out that’s a good thing as a trip to the orthopedist today revealed that she broke not just one bone, but both of them down in her wrist.

We were at the zoo for the opening of the new playground. But it’s actually more like a playmegalopolis. It’s three stories. It’s got a corkscrew slide from the top. It has cargo nets and tunnels and secret passages and more monkey bars and spider webs than I could count.

Lorelei and Jacob were on the zipline. (Not really a zipline, but a rail that has a track with a handle on it that you can ride back and forth.) My mother was with them and it was Lorelei’s turn. Mom pushed her, and evidently pushed her hard enough that when Lorelei reached the end of the rail, it hit hard enough for her not to be able to hold on. She fell and landed wrong.

MOM! THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT!!! I PUSH THEM TOO HARD ALL THE TIME. DOWN THE STAIRS…OFF THE ROOF…YOU NAME IT! Seriously, anyone could have done it. I have always pushed them on those contraptions and they always fall it. They’re kids. It’s what happens. And need I remind you that I’m the one who caused Asher to faceplant off the swing just a week ago?

Here’s the bad part.

We put an icepack on it but didn’t think it was that bad. So we continued our merry zoo day. Lorelei and I had a particularly good time in the snake/lizard/frog/spider house. When we got home that night and she was still complaining of how much it hurt, Shannon took her to the emergency room and LO! Broken arm. But the quacks at the ER told us it was just one bone broken. I’m suing. But they did also splint Moosie’s arm (Lo’s stuffed animal), so they get points for that.

That was the end of the trauma, but merely the beginning of the drama. Lorelei got home and told Jacob he couldn’t give her a hug because her arm was broken. She wanted to sleep in her sling. She told Shannon she “can’t do ANYTHING!” because of her arm. My favorite: “I can’t read!” She walked into class Monday morning sharpie in hand for cast signing. Monday afternoon this girl who can’t read because she has a broken arm is swinging in the back yard. Later that night she couldn’t eat her ice cream (chocolate with sprinkles, whipped cream & strawberry sauce, “just so I’ll feel better”) because it was “too hard.”

And then comes bath time.

The Ziploc bag/
rubberband ghetto rig failed spectacularly and the ER splint got pretty soaked. “Inconsolable” is the word I think most aptly describes Lorelei’s reaction. I’m talking out-of-control sobbing and wailing. But the orthopedist appointment was this morning and now everything is right in the world thanks to the sweet pink cast. Although she can’t do anything.



I know my attitude is pretty cavalier. But I figure I’ve got four kids. It’s not a question of “if” or even “when” but “how many” and “how bad”. And considering Shannon’s and my liberal “freedom to fail” policy that we have with them, I’m surprised it’s taken this long for a broken bone.

P.S. Jacob just said, "Mommy, I want to break my arm and get a cast like Lorelei's..."

And here’s Asher as a dragon.


Monday, 6 October 2008

An open response to non-churchgoing believers (but actually 13 c's & some change)

Hi Chris (and those who confess to being like him),

As I read your blog many things came to mind. But as I began my comment I realized it might be longer than your blog and thought that might be a little much for a comment. So I decided to give it full rein and let it be what it is. A lot of people will think I’m criticizing you. I hope you take it as encouragement.

When I was at SL Fish and I would often talk about how we felt our little traveling family was in many ways more like a church than the ones we attended. We spent MASSIVE amounts of time together talking about life and faith, eating, having devotionals and corporate prayer. We attended hundreds of worship services led by the best pastors and worship leaders out there. It felt a lot like church, and like the church should be. But it wasn’t the church. It wasn’t the church because I never made the decision to be there. I never humbled myself before God and submitted to his process, his plans. I didn’t do any of that because it was my job. Sure, I worshiped, I prayed, I learned. But I was working the whole time. I never submitted myself to God’s ordained community. I’d go to church and feel dead inside, disconnected. “I’ve sung this song a million times. I’ve heard this sermon over and over and over!” I’d leave frustrated, feeling as if church just wasn’t for me.

But singing songs and listening to sermons has very little to do with being a member of a church. What I finally learned to be the truth about the church is not the trappings: the building, the songs, the teaching. It is about commitment to the body. It is Ephesians 5: “just as Christ loved the church…Be subject to one another.” When I subjected myself to the body…when I (as Ms. Ten Boom says) obeyed, my feeling of commitment to the church developed. I spent a year keeping two year-olds, and I loved my church.

When Jacob was born we took the hiatus that we feel we deserve because WE JUST HAD A BABY. And when we came back I felt it all over again. Disconnected, world and church-weary. Every class Shannon and I went to we didn’t fit. Frustrated, our attendance wavered. And then I read this:

“Whether we like it or not, the moment we confess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior…we are at the same time a member of the Christian church…Our membership in the church is a corollary of our faith in Christ…Membership in church is a basic spiritual fact for those who confess Christ as Lord...For Go never makes private, secret salvation deals with people…We are a family in Christ.” (Peterson, “A Long Obedience…, 175)

And I know you know this. You say as much in your post. But the next part is the one that got me.

“…So the question is not ‘Am I going to be a part of a community of faith?’ but ‘HOW am I going to live in this community of faith?” (ibid, 176, emphasis mine)

You don’t get to choose. You have to be involved. The only thing left up to you is how. And I know you know this too. Your acknowledgment and admission of your sin says as much. So I started teaching a class. It was a class I started for all my friends who felt the same way I do. I figured we could all get together here inside the church instead of outside. But none of my friends came. And for six months the class was on life support because I refused to submit myself to God’s plan for the class. Then, in the midst of my frustration, a funny thing happened. People started coming. They weren’t my friends. But they weren’t church-goers either. They were recovering addicts. They were outcasts that didn’t fit elsewhere. They had lived through harrowing and messy divorces. They were single looking for a community, not a date. They were married and were trying to figure out how to be married. They were broken and painfully aware of their brokenness. Our prayer requests didn’t contain health and wealth concerns. We were praying for people caught in addiction, people who were desperately alone, people who needed a community. I felt like I was swimming in the ocean with no land in sight and I heard God whisper “this is your church.” But I was so uncomfortable with these people! I liked my little insulated SL life. I didn’t want them wrecking things! And then I read this:

“You say that you have almost nothing in common with these people. But isn’t that just the point? YOU have nothing in common with them, but God does. This just happens to be the way that God goes about making a kingdom, pulling all sorts and conditions of people together and then patiently, mercifully, and graciously making something of them. What he obviously does not do is pre-select people who have an aptitude for getting along well and enjoying the same things. Of course you don’t have much in common with them. The church is God’s thing, not yours…The church is not a natural community composed of people with common interests; it is a SUPER-natural community. And the super in that word does not mean that it exceeds your expectations; it is OTHER than your expectations, and much of the other is invisible to you… (Peterson, The Wisdom of Each Other, 26-27).

When I read that and got over myself, I saw this rag-tag group of irritating and disturbing liars and narcissists for what they are: a God-collected group of beautiful believers. And it was never easy and I was ALWAYS uncomfortable but I was never closer to God and have never had such a tight-knit group of God community (or the church, if you must).

We moved to Nashville. We moved to disconnection. Again the world & church weariness. Again the frustration. I wanted to find a “cool” church. But none of the “cool” churches had a good kids program. Or they were too far away, or in bad neighborhoods. “Cool” churches in the hood are fine if you’re 24 and single, but for a 35 year-old father of four? Not so much. (And the whole “cool churches in funky neighborhoods” is a whole other discussion).

The church we kept coming back to was the church we grew up in and this absolutely galled me. I like the preacher well enough, but I’m not wild about his style of preaching. The worship is too adult contemporary. I don’t find many people like me here. I didn’t want to go to this church.

But here we are. Instead of if we choose how. We choose obedience, and we’re waiting for the feeling. It’s not the ideal church for us, but it’s God’s thing, not ours. A new class, new people, new challenges, new awkwardness, but I’m already fiercely protective of them. I still find small talk impossible as I try to get to know them, but I know that God’s in it, and that’s enough.

And there is the option of starting your own church. You could absolutely do that. I hear the ATL dream team is giving it a go. But I think that, like me, you’ve noticed our nation is filled with thirty year-old mostly empty buildings. We’ve got plenty of churches. We just need to be subject to one another and commit to them. We need to find one, roll up our sleeves and get to the work of allowing God to mold us into being part of his community.

I hope you take this in the manner in which I wrote it. I like you quite a lot and believe you’re one of the good guys that gets it. I know you already know all the answers. That’s not the problem. The problem is living them. The problem is getting over ourselves and realizing that being ministers doesn’t make us above it.

Engage. Participate. Even if it’s uncomfortable. Especially when it’s uncomfortable. Open yourself and see what God will do.

Friday, 3 October 2008

http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifOld College Friends

This from one old college friend. (He said it right in this post.)

Going to have breakfast (right now, I'm late!) with another.

Caught up with a third on the phone the other day.

Nostalgia? Don't think so.

Richness. That's what I'm feeling.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

The elevator and the swing set 2(but actually 534)

I’ve been thinking a lot about the lady in the elevator and Asher falling out of the swing. I guess the thread is the unexpectedness of life. You’re cruising along, the weather’s great, you like what you’re doing, then bam! You fall out of the swing. The question is, what now?

Yesterday Asher wanted to swing. And he wanted to go fast. And he wanted me to push him.

(smile)

I’m not a big fan of using my blog as a devotional tool—there’s guys a lot better than me doing that. And that's why I read them. (Some of them are bookmarked on the right!) But today…

Jesus talked about having faith like children, and we theologize that and hermeneutic it and put it “into practice.” But I really think Jesus was saying, “LOOK AT THE KIDS!! They don’t make it any harder than it already is! They take it as it comes, deal with it as it hits, forget it as it passes! Live like that!”

Asher fell out of the swing and busted his face up pretty good. He came up crying. He wanted me to pick him up and hold him. He wanted his mommy. We pulled the grass out of his nose, cleaned him up and held him until he stopped crying. He wanted his blanket and “do” (pacifier). He wanted to sit on the couch and watch Diego. And then the next day he wanted to swing again.

In other words: he got hurt, grieved the moment, got comforted, then got back to work. The key here is that he wanted me first, then his stuff.

We don’t do that. We get the crap kicked out of us and go looking for solace and comfort everywhere BUT God. In the Asher analogy, when we fall off the swing we don’t go looking for our Father. We lay on the ground and wail. We grab the lighter fluid and the matches and burn the swing set down. We clutch the pacifier and blanket and live on the couch in front of Diego.

Sure we turn to Him, but it’s usually after we’ve talked to everybody and Oprah first. It’s after we’ve self-medicated with our numbing agent of choice. It’s after a month of living in funk of self-pity.

I got on the elevator with someone going to six and asked if they knew who the lady was and they didn’t. I don’t know what I was hoping to accomplish. I think I just wanted to know her name. I’m sure she’s fine and was just emotional walking into the building for the last time, but I still wish I could talk to her again. I wish I could encourage her to run to and be held by her Father, and let Him pull the grass out of her nose. I wish I could tell her to watch a little Diego (because we all need a little Diego) and get back on the swing.

(edit)

It’s flawed, it’s messy, it’s all over the place, but it’s in there somewhere. And I just used three phrases that mean the same thing.

And here's Seth's blog, where he learned something from his kid too.