Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Street I Wish I Lived On

I drove past this today and think I should live on this road.
So should my college roomate, Scott Dooley.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Thoughts While Falling Asleep

This was our interchange tonight as Hudson was going to sleep.

Hudson: Daddy, I don't want you to leave, I'm scared. I'll be alone.
Me: Hudson, you aren't alone. Mommy and Daddy are right here in the house and Jesus is always with you.
Hudson: But I don't want Jesus with me, I want you with me.

We want someone with skin on, don't we? Jesus is an idea to most people, especially people who are far away from his influence. And in the beauty and genius of Jesus' message and strategy, we are now his hands and feet, his presence to people falling asleep in the dark.

People don't want Jesus with them, they want someone that matters to them with them. To whom do I matter?

Friday, July 25, 2008

When to Burn Someone At the Stake

What do you do when you disagree?

What about when the issue at stake--at least from your perspective--is a pretty important one?

Practice for some period of time in the Church's history was to burn the people who didn't agree with the standard orthodoxy. A we-know-you-are-going-to-hell-because-you-don't-agree-with-us-so-let-us-send-you-off-in-a-fitting-manner way of going about solving disagreements.
And very endearing to the hearts of people everywhere, right?

A good friend and I were going back and forth via email about Brian MacLaren--somewhat of a lightning rod for the conservative set. We disagreed. Here was my take on how to handle our position(s).

I really don’t like labels (conservative, liberal, etc.), but I would say I am on the conservative “side” because I hold to all the creeds of the Church, believe in the primary authority of the Christian Scriptures, and believe and do my best to live like Jesus was raised bodily from the dead. If conservative means something else, then no, I’m probably not that (which is fine by me).

I do think you’re right that some in (
a certain group of thinkers) take it too far to the left, but then some on the far right take it too far too. So I guess it’s a matter of who you listen to…I want to be, as I said, for the truth, no matter who it comes from (i.e., “liberal” or “conservative”).

I hope this isn’t coming across like “I’m right and everybody who doesn’t agree with is wrong.” Because I don’t think that and don’t want to make people think that either. Tim Keller at Redeemer Presbyterian does about a good a job I know of dismantling the conservative vs. liberal thing in favor of the Gospel (that speaks to and judges both, by the way).

I want to be done with “labels” because they only alienate and keep people away from each other. And when you are away from each other, you can’t love each other.

So does any issue ever get big enough to part ways? Or is St Paul right when he says "love covers a multitude of sins?"

Friday, July 18, 2008

Loving the Truth, Part 4 (aka, truth in advertising)

I went to heat something up in the kitchen at our church office and found the above can staring back at me when I opened the cabinet door looking for a plastic fork.

"America's favorite instant Mocha Cappuccino" it intoned, featuring an image of a Monk to ensure the integrity of the statement firmly ensconced itself in my mind.

I was a bit suprised by the claim because I've never actually heard of Cafe D'Vita Instant Mocha Cappuccino. Perhaps it's a form of cultural elitism to assume that what I've heard of is all that counts. But I'm pretty sure no one has heard of Cafe D'Vita.
Even once.

I can only assume they put that on there to heighten the chance that someone would buy it, hoping for this sort of internal monologue to drive sales: "Hmm. I'm not sure what brand of instant mocha cappuccino to buy...oh, wait, it says here 'America's favorite brand.' They wouldn't just say that, so I guess I'll buy this."

In other words, they lied in order to get me to buy something.
Let me repeat that. They lied. In order to manipulate me.

And here's the ridiculous thing: I didn't mind it at all. In fact, I've come to accept that false claims are just part of the consumerist ball game. And if you're like me, you probably have too.

Which makes me wonder, in what ways do we do this in the church? Do we do this when:
  • we print a stock photo of 'idyllic family A' to advertise the friendships in our small groups?
  • we tell people that if they'll come to "x" event/or join "y" Small Group it will "change their lives"?
  • we entice people to serve by telling them they will find the fulfillment they've always been looking for?
  • we send out advertising to the community telling them that we've got exactly what they are looking for?

Do we oversell our claims in attempt to get people to buy out religious "product"? What if we loved the truth instead?

"Here's a picture of some of the old, wrinkly, slightly cantankerous people in our congregation. But they really will love you if you can see past the exterior that our culture doesn't prize very much."

"Come to "x" event and you'll have a good time, maybe deepen some friendships, maybe make some new ones."

"Join "y" small group and the relationships will take you a long time--maybe a year--until you really feel safe. But it's totally worth the investment."

"If you find a place to serve, your life will be busier, you'll have to say no to something else, and you'll often feel frustrated. But our model of serving is about sacrifice, not fulfillment."

"If you come to one of our services, you'll have the chance to encounter God, meet people who could become life-long friends, and find hope. But you'll have to make the investment for it to actually happen."

How would that fly?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Planning to Do Good

This is David. He’s one of my heroes. He regularly leverages his time, his talent, his energies and his wallet to do good.

In this picture, he drove over an hour from his business to meet me at Reid Elementary—our church’s adopted school—to help organize a Beautification Day for the school. We met to figure out how much material and man-power would be needed to pull it off (actually, we met so I could follow David around while he figured all that out. He’s a lot smarter than me) in conjunction with some good people from Capital One. The school needs the help and David stepped up.

What strikes me as a stern reality in our world is that he represents a spectrum we all live on. On one end are the people planning to do good (then going and doing it), on the other end are the people planning to do evil (then going and doing it) and in the middle are the people (the majority, I think) who aren’t planning anything. They’re just waiting to see which way the wind blows.

Which side are you on?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

How We Can Go On

"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us."
1 John 4:16

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A Little Catalyst Serendipity

When serendipity happens, it's a beautiful thing.
(serendipity, n. - an unexpected gift or grace.)

The folks at Catalyst have been calling me non-stop for the last few days, leaving messages, asking me to call back, etc, etc. They have a bang-up leadership conference they do every year and I just assumed they'd put their follow-up program on steroids--hence their incessant phone blitzkrieg. I'd already emailed to say that I couldn't make it, so I was just (respectfully) ignoring their calls.

I knew something might be up when Sabrina called and left a message saying that she had the entire Catalyst Team on the phone with her (*cue loud team scream*) and wanted me to call her back.

So today, I did. And it was serendipity. Like every other doof in the world, I'd put my name in the hat for a drawing they were doing for a couple of free airline tickets to anywhere USofA. And, unlike every other doof in the world, I won! Brad Lomineck, their fearless leader, called me with the entire team in the background to be the herald of this great news.

They recorded our brief conversation and I think the call may be on one of their future podcasts. (one of my favorite podcasts by the way...and no, I'm not just saying that because I have been duly hooked up)
So, my beautiful wife and I are off in the near future to some TBD locale (sans kids) for a little R&R. I'll post some pics of the trip when we finally decide when and where.

Thanks Sabrina, Brad and everyone at Catalyst for ignoring my ignoring! We are the humble recipients of your generosity and will gladly schlep the name of Catalyst with us on the trip (maybe wearing a "this trip brought to you by Catalyst" t-shirt??).

I should note that last year we won a $1000 gift card to a local furniture store and then later won a $100 gift card to Maggiano's at the intermission of one of our student's plays. Both times, I just somehow knew "we're going to win." I have to say that I had that same feeling putting my name in the hat for the tickets. Weird, I know.
I think it's safe to say that the last two years of winnings makes up for 10 years of doing overnighters with Junior Highers.

A Boy and His Dog

My close friend Doug has done a good thing in letting Hudson claim his dog--Chandler--as his very own. Doug and his wife live just around the corner so Hudson gets a dog. I don't have to take care of a dog. Everybody wins.
At preschool yesterday, Hudson had this to say about his dog and his Doug with his teacher Miss Shanna.
H: Miss Shanna, guess what?
S: What Hudson?
H: I have a dog!
S: You do??
H: Yes, his name is Chandler Bing and he stays with my friend Doug.
S: Really?
H: Yeah, Doug is my best friend.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Hedging Your Bets

This is the Jerusalem Mile recently installed at Richmond Hill. It is a prayer labyrinth modeled exactly off of a famous labyrinth at a cathedral in Chartes, France.

It's a literal way to walk your prayers. The path meanders and turns and changes direction and goes out when you think it should go in and goes in when you think it should go out--much like life and the life of prayer. (You can read Ben Campbell's--Richmond Hill's pastoral director--moving meditation about the Jerusalem Mile by visiting this link and downloading the June 2008 Update. If it's not available yet all of Ben's pastoral meditations are worth reading.)

It's a literal reminder that what you pray for isn't necessarily going to go the way you think and that to pray, really pray, you have to enter fully into the journey. But that's hard. Hard because real prayer requires surrender--of attitude, control, expectations, and even outcomes. Hard because prayer (and life) aren't fundamentally about being in control and getting my way. Prayer moves us closer to the center, not necessarily closer to answers.

Here's Hudson on the same Jerusalem Mile holding a gun (a cap pistol). A great picture of how most of us approach life and prayer. He's hedging his bets. Maybe, we think, if praying my way through life doesn't work out, well, then I've got it covered.
Just in case.
If things don't work out like I hoped.
On the off chance I lose control for a bit.
I will bus'-out-my-nine and take charge (that was my best attempt at gangsta speak).
So what 'guns' do you bring with you to prayer?
"...the eyes of the Lord range throughout the entire earth, to strengthen those whose heart is true to him."
2 Chronicles 16:9