Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Inequitites, Part 2

These are reflections on my previous post about some inequities I experienced the other night from about 3 feet away on the Metro coming home from Busch Stadium. It raised some serious questions for me:
What does it mean that there are massive inequities in the world?
Am I supposed to feel "white guilt" for my station in life?
Am I supposed to feel sorry for my African-American brother and his station in life?
What can I even do to address inequities on this scale?

Where I am born and to whom I am born is beyond my control. A large part of what I experienced the other night was due to factors of our birth. We like to think that we are largely self-made people, but that's really a myth of the modern world. While we are certainly responsible for making something of our lives, and this is without a doubt the 'land of opportunity', the material we start with and where we start with it determines more of who we are than we care to admit.

Things don't make a person happy. A cultural myth that is heavily marketed to us is that money+stuff=happiness. Love, relationships, family, warmth: These are all ingredients money can't buy. If you've ever been to a third-world country, you've likely walked away thinking: how can they be so happy?

The American Dream is really a new form of aristocracy. The things we've come to expect out of life are things that for the majority of human history were only available to royalty. It's great that a higher standard of living is available (who wants people to intentionally suffer?), however a short reflection on history will hopefully fill us with gratitude.

Feeling sorry for someone is a waste of energy. Feeling sorry for someone often has the effect of making us feel superior. "Oh, those poor people!", which really can mean "I'm so much better than them. I'm glad I'm not like them." And when we feel superior, we can no longer move to help as a fellow human being. Our help comes tainted with self-righteousness.

Admit the disparity. It doesn't do any good to refuse to acknowledge the inequities. Look them square in the face and say that they are there. Then do something. The inequities would have been even greater if I'd talked about the families I've met in third world countries. Hand-wringing over their existence does nothing. Act.

True living means giving. In God's economy of things, giving is actually a better way of living than receiving. Jesus says it's actually the best way to go about life. The consumerism of our society wants to reverse God's economy and tells us that it is better to receive than to give. In contrast, if we follow Jesus and have, we give. We work for justice. We pay attention to inequities. We live simply so that we can give.

What are your thoughts on the inequities you see in life?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Monday Thoughts (on Tuesday)

  • Since our August month of abiding, I've been out of my rhythm in terms of weekly speaking. I see how a rhythm helps with communication. I felt "off" on Sunday. It happens. I really love speaking and love the challenge of getting better.
  • Really challenged the way we see Church yesterday. In the west, the way we see Church is typically like a fortress. We want everyone to come into the fortress, we might send out raiding parties to get new people into the fortress, but we've basically failed to see that living thusly leaves massive territory completely in our enemy's hands. I think Mike Breen is right. Satan has made a pact with the Western Church. He'll let the church get as large as it wants in the fortress model as long as we take no new territory.
  • Conservative stats say 60% of America does not attend fortress, I mean church, on Sunday.
  • Theological proviso here: This does not mean God is not present or working in that 60%. It means we are not present or working in that 60%. And for some reason, God chooses to do the majority of his work of setting people free through people.
  • I'm an ENTP on the Myers-Briggs inventory, which means I have to fight, fight, fight to do things the same way again and again. (I'd drive home a different way every day if I could) This is important because systems that allow leadership to expand and grow require doing the same thing over and over again. The apostle Paul said it: I die daily.
  • To lead means to be heavily involved in your own sanctification, which means painfully facing your shortcomings everyday.
  • My job description: growing leaders who are like Jesus.
  • Leaders are measured by the number of leaders they produce, not the number of followers they have.
  • My Huskers are back. Go Big Red!
  • Been wrestling with the implications of a word given to me at the Senior Pastor's retreat a couple weeks ago: "Your first sermon is your marriage. Your second sermon is your family. Your third sermon is what you say on Sunday." Painfully, I don't think I've had the order right. I'm thinking differently so I can live differently.


Someone gave us four free tickets to last Friday night's Cardinals Game, 13 rows up from the 3rd base dugout valued at $400. An incredible job perk. I did a funeral and the funeral director passed on tickets to me.
He and his wife worked the Cardinals game in concessions, by the grease pit where they could only hear the cheers when the Cardinals routed the Padres 14-4. A job perk, I guess.

*We took our two boys for a fun night out which meant they'd stay up much later than little kids should. It was a special treat that we paid for with grumpiness for two days, but totally worth the experience.
*His two kids were watched, like they are most nights, by someone while their mom and dad worked, staying up much later than little kids should, like they probably do most nights.

*We were all wearing happy, fun Cardinals gear--St Louis Camouflage, as it's called--to get in the spirit of the game.
*They were wearing concessionare, grease-saturated uniforms.

*We rode the Metro down to the stadium because it would be fun for our boys. They loved it.
*They rode the Metro down to the stadium because its there only means of transit, standing for the most part because the train was packed with exhausted fans who were filling all the seats.

*We bought the boys a memento bat each, a hot dog, cotton candy and a root beer. About $40 worth of fun.
*They earned a little more than that for their night's work.

*While on the Metro I stood gingerly in the packed crowd on my right foot I'd recently pierced with a large nail. It still hurt, but my insurance is good and I was able to get the care I needed easily with relatively little cost to me.
*While on the Metro, he had a band-aid on a sore that topped a grotesquely mis-formed set of veins on his left arm. I don't know this for sure, but given his circumstances, I'm going to guess the band-aid was his form of "care." It was what he could get at relatively little cost to him.

*My wife was worn out and beaten down from a week of running after three little ones (a huge job, to be sure).
*His wife was worn out from the constant drain of looking after two little ones, while holding down a fast-food job. I heard her mutter about the strength she needed to carry on in what seemed like an unending future.

I could go on. Tomorrow, I'll reflect on what this all means and specifically what this all means for me as a follower of Jesus.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday Thoughts

Working as a Pastor, I have a gig I do every Sunday. Kind of goes with the deal. And it will help me to reflect on what's transpired in the last week, so here goes.
  • Kyle Rainbolt brought it yesterday, helping us understand the learning circle Jesus outlines in Mark 1:15. Kyle has an uncanny knack for making the complex simple and is a natural communicator. I'm honored to be serving with him.
  • Get the learning circle and you have a life-long tool for processing everything life throws at you and consistently seeing breakthrough in your life.
  • Loved being in Myrtle Beach, SC last week at this hotel with these people for their Senior Pastor's retreat. Come on Lord! Still feel a bit weird being called a Senior Pastor.
  • Especially thankful for the owner who made it available for pastors for $50/night. Hands down the best Hampton Inn I've ever stayed in.
  • Felt like massive breakthrough for me personally this morning in our staff meeting talking about the prophetic and praying for healing. I'm promiscuously and indiscriminately going to be praying for people to be healed in the next 6 months (and beyond). Feeling more comfortable with the prophetic personally as I'm beginning to understand how God speaks to me.
  • Theological clarification of the above statement for you aren't from the charismatic stream of Christianity (like I'm not), the ministry of Jesus involved healing the sick as a sign of the coming Kingdom, and the regular giving of encouraging insight about what God wants to do in a person's life. Hearing the voice of God is the birthright of every Christian (and a thing very often maligned and misunderstood). But, read the New Testament and it's very quickly evident that Jesus' disciples did what Jesus did. Ergo, if we are his disciples...
  • Without truly spiritual lives, church leaders are religious programming directors. I'd like the life of Jesus to consume mine please. I feel something bubbling in our church and community in this regard.
  • My goal: to get as regular and good at blogging as Ben Arment. Always love and am challenged by his blog.
  • Our church structure has undergone a massive overhaul in the last 18 months. Looking forward to seeing the fruit of that this year. We've intentionally built it to support thousands. This is forcing me to make massive internal changes in how I think and operate as a leader.
  • Leaders go first.
  • Even more than that, looking forward to seeing the beginning fruit of our efforts at building a discipling culture. Single most significant thing I've ever undertaken in ministry.

Blogging Sins Confessed

I've been away.
For a while.

A long while. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've committed some sort of blogging sin, alienating my tens of readers with my lack of content.

Now I'm back with a renewed sense of what this blog and what it's for. I'll unpack what I'm learning as a follower of Jesus who is a husband, dad & Christian leader. So a bit more focus, and a bit less theory.