Tuesday, July 28, 2009

So which one are you?

"Let us speak to one another as plainly as possible."

-John Wesley

Try this without knowing who you are and you'll quickly run into an identity crisis. You'll cave to people's expectations and opinions of you and so avoid speaking your mind and being yourself.

Know who you are and you'll think any other way of talking is a waste of time. If you are in the former category, do it anyway. It's the only way to get to the latter.

Friday, July 24, 2009

I'm living into this

"If something hurts you, don't avoid it. Face it, get to the bottom of it, root it out and die to it.
Then resurrection will come."
- Rob Bell


For this simply unbelieveable piece of stop motion artistry Olympus:
shot 60,000 pictures,
developed 9,600 pictures,
reshot over 1,800 pictures,
and had no post-production.

"Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men." Proverbs 22:29

HT: Ben Arment

Why we grieve when an icon dies

The media storm over the King of Pop's death is still raging.
Who was responsible?
Was there foul play?
Where is his body?

Just watch the news. A news cycle doesn't pass without him making the news (and boosting record sales).

Some people have taken it hard. They had a personal attachment to Michael and feel a genuine sense of loss. I didn't have that connection--though I'll admit to trying to moonwalk more than once, no dice--but I've known the feeling. I felt palpable grief when Mother Theresa and Princess Diana died in the same short time frame. My connection: Mother Theresa--one my heroes, Princess Di--long before 24 hour TV, I stayed up until 3am as a 7 or 8 year old and watched her wedding.

So why do we feel this way? We don't know these people. We have no one-on-one connection with them, and still we mourn.

Here's my stab at it
When an icon dies, we mourn because that person's art/life created something in us. Their art created beauty for us, and beauty indelibly becomes part of our soul. This is, I think, how God intended it. We live and die by beauty. So when the person who brought us beauty dies, we go through a small identity crisis. Who am I without this person who gave me so much? I'm pretty sure there's a thick layer of sentiment tied to that, but generally speaking, that rings true.

So where is Michael now?
Aside from my own conspiracy theory that this is a ploy to get Michael out of the limelight and boost record sales to generate income, the question remains for many Christians: is Michael Jackson in heaven? To many, Michael is suffering the due recompense for his (according to them) wanton and flagrantly immoral life. He is burning in H-E-double hockey stick.

He was certainly insecure (why else the numerous face changes?).
He was immature--but I also don't know what forces shape the soul when you have a driven father pushing you onto an international stage from your earliest memory.

Michael is responsible for the person he became, to be sure. But God alone knows what a person must overcome to be who they were meant to be. And what's more, the Gospel means that we are all finally judged in light of Jesus, not our accomplishments and/or dysfunction.

As Dallas Willard says it (and I paraphrase):

God will let everyone into his heaven everyone who, in his considered opinion, can stand it.

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Crying Like a Man

Tim Keel had a great post recently on tears that show up unannounced. It's a beautifully written piece with a lasting quote from Frederick Beuchner, whose way with words is unparalleled.

You never know what may cause them. The sight of the Atlantic Ocean can do it,
or a piece of music, or a face you've never seen before. A pair of somebody's old shoes can do it...You can never be sure. But of this you can be sure. Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention. They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often than not God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is summoning you to where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go next.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I need this

Google never ceases to amaze. They have an uncanny ability to take something complex (in this case, having to manage voicemail on multiple phones) and make it incredibly simple.

I will most certainly be getting this when it's available. You can too. The video explains it.

Now if they could just do the same thing for Facebook, Twitter, email, and IM. Wait, did I just come up with an idea for a groundbreaking technology? Too bad I know nothing about programming.

Friday, July 17, 2009

God is Good

Ended our series "God is...____________" this last week with a kick-it message from Steven Furtick. The little prayer I was taught growing up: "God is great, God is good" contained some profound truths for my life. God is not only powerful, but has good intentions. If only one of those were true (and many people think only one of those is true and so serve a lopsided god), why bother?

It's been life-giving for us to be a part of this year's installment of the One Prayer movement. Craig Groeschel gets serious props for his vision to bring together over 1,000,000 believers in 1,900 churches. Together we are answering Jesus' prayer in John 17 for unity. Looking forward to it next year and will plan to use it a bit more strategically in the flow of the reality that is summer church life. (To wit, we've had a couple Sundays where there is a 100 person difference in weekend service attendance. Just crazy. I'm glad the church isn't who shows up on a given Sunday. By the way, in case you wonder, the church is God's people in relationship on God's mission for the world. They cannot be contained to an hour one time a week.)

After the message, we asked people to come forward and write the ways they have experienced God's goodness. It was moving. Then through the celebration of Eucharist/Communion/The Lord's Supper (pick your name based on how you grew up) we rehearsed God's goodness by remembering Jesus' death for us. God's presence was a tangible atmosphere in the room. I love those moments.

Here's a sampling of what people wrote (in the interest of authenticity, I kept the case and grammar the way they wrote it). Type a list like this when you know some of the stories, and I promise you won't be able to keep back the tears.

"Moved me home."
"Redeemed my life, rebuilt my relationship."
"He showed me love at this church."
"brought me here to the best people i've ever known and to him."
"He let me live when I should have died."
"invented ice cream"
"HE gave me PURPOSE!"
He gave me a new life
with my new partner
"No matter what He's never let go of my hand."
"He brought me out of sin and gave my kids back to me."
"He gave me an awesome family and strength to leave a bad

"Eric's home!"

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Everyone Runs

I learn best by teaching and doing. If I teach it or do it, I learn about it.

Our SportsCamp is a wrap. Great week of fun, frivolity and friends with over 120 kids from our community. Each night we talked about running the race of life using the advice the Apostle Paul gave to a group of Christians in the ancient city of Corinth. Corinth was home to the Isthmian Games, an Olympic styled athletic event held there every few years. They were a city of over-achievers and partiers, so they knew a bit about running.

Here's what I learned by teaching it to a bunch of kids.

Everyone runs. Everyone is in the race of life. If you don't want to run, too bad, the race has already started. The choice isn't about whether you'll run, it's about how you'll run.

One wins. Run to win. God doesn't see things the way we see things. He doesn't compare your race to someone else's race. He has given you your own race and wants you to win it. Fall down? Get back up. Distracted? Refocus. Ready to give up? Don't quit. God has given you occasions to fight that you might win. His resurrection power is in you. Don't give up any ground that's been given to you.

All good athletes train hard. If you are going to win the race God has given you, it will require your very best effort, your highest potential and your deepest devotion. You won't win it by being half-hearted, half-in, or half-way committed. Be all in.

They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. The race often has spectators who offer distractions, cheap knock-off prizes that look real, and detours to alternate destinations. Don't be fooled. Don't be tricked. Don't be deceived. Don't confuse good things for ultimate things. Have good things, but don't let them have you.

You're after one that's gold eternally. What God offers is ultimate and unending. It never spoils, rots or fades. It won't rip, tear or fall apart. It won't take up space on a shelf somewhere, mean nothing and be forgotten by everyone but you. And he gives it to you now. It's salvation; being caught up fully in the life of God.

The highlight video from Camp.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A Muslim's Advice to Christian Leaders

Great article about what a Muslim teaching an interfaith course at a Christian Seminary had to say to future Christian leaders. In short, be more Christian, not less.

Here's a quote from him from the article:
Remember, the three most powerful narratives on the planet are narratives of religion, narratives of nation, and narratives of ethnicity/race. You cannot afford to forfeit that territory by talking about economics or the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Don't be afraid to be Christian ministers. If you don't use the Christian narrative to define reality for your people, then someone else will define reality for them with a different narrative.

Read the whole article here.

A Tribute to My Wife

We have two boys under 5 and come October, we'll have 3 under 5. My wife is my hero. She stays home with them all. day. every. day.

They are a challenge, to say the least. Crying, screaming, diapers...and that's just me.

Call me sentimental, but this song by Darius Rucker (Hootie & the Blowfish) speaks to me. When my oldest was 6 weeks old (which seems like last week), I was sitting holding him outside a store while Andrea shopped. We were both in serious sleep deprivation mode and I was wondering how long I could take it. An older lady stopped, smiled and said words I'll never forget: "Enjoy it. He'll be in college tomorrow."

It won't be like this for long.