Thursday, January 26, 2006

Robert and Mandy

Well, Robert and Manday and Adam are moving. The truck is packed and they will be headed westward later this week. It's been good working with Robert He's one of the best worship leaders I've been around. He is respected and loved by those he has worked with. Mandy herself made quite an impact at the elementary school she worked at for the past 5 years. She has reached out to the community and brought parents, teachers and students together for some really moving music programs. My prayer is for safety and rest and that the furniture and things makes it to their new place on time. God speed.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Architecture and Archaeology

Hmm, today I was viewing a dvd on leadership. It was good stuff. From time to time I do that over breakfast and into the late morning. It prevents me from watching the local morning news (we have basic cable), which really doesn't offer me more news that a cursory look at Yahoo!. Carson Pue, who ministers in Vancouver, B.C., spoke about the various phases of mentoring, which was captivating to me. I think it may have been him or the previous speaker who said that growing as a seeker and follower of Jesus is more like archaeology than architecture.

Now, Barb and I have a brand new friend, Amanda, who just moved into the area and got a job at an architecture firm. So, in fear of loosing this friendship over this simple post, I want to say up front that I am in no way downplaying the importance of architecture. Without architecture we'd have, according to the name, no archs. Archs seem very important. Doorways would be boring and perhaps we'd have no major fastfood chain that has a clown for its mascot. Nevertheless, let me go on to the next paragraph.

The truth, the brass tacks of faithing and living life with Jesus in mind, is not about putting on a nice exterior, of going modern, medieval or even postmodern. It's not covering a delapidated interior with a nice shell. Faithing, living and so forth is about going deep, not about building up, at least at the beginning. It's about discovering the heart, or what's under it all. I know I've built layer upon layer and later I discover that the core of that part of my life was not good. It's hard.

I know that as a leader, or growing leader, and really and bluntly, as a follower of Jesus, I cannot escape that. Jesus was obsessive about the crucial role that the heart plays in our life. He denigrated preconceived roles, rituals, religion and formula and went to the heart. He really wasn't shy about talking about what's underneath. One time he told a bunch of religious guys that on the outside the architecture was nice and white like marble, but just a few feet under that facade was filth.

So we dig it out--escavate it and bring it to the light. It's hard stuff but it's good stuff. Who really wants or needs to be carrying around bags and layers of filth? Who wants a landfill heart?

That's what I'm thinking about tonight.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Luxurious Worth of Our Soul

Tomorrow we celebrate the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. Many have an appreciation for his work and life and for others who live lives of service. He was really good at painting a picture of the ideal, of stirring within your mind and heart a beautiful picture of what could be. His wife, Coretta, said about his, I Have a Dream, speech where he repeats the refrain, "I have a dream that one day . . .", "It was as if the kingdom of God came down, if only for a moment." He spoke of a desire for a new day to dawn.

This past summer Melba spoke about her experience of growing up in the segregated South and specifically Little Rock. It seems that there are always those who go before us, pave the way for others, who live hard lives so that others may have a better one. I believe there is a Chinese proverb that talks about how one generation plants a tree and the next rests in its shade.

Luckily, MLK, Jr. was not the first to care about the worth of a person, the dignity of a man or woman, or even the undeniable, priceless, even luxurious worth of our soul. His life and thought stemmed from what he had heard and learned about Jesus. At the Christmas weekend celebrations we sang a song that applies to these thoughts, O Holy Night.

The song talks about how the whole world, you and I, lay in our brokenness, longing for things to get better. That we ourselves are shackled by that brokenness, and that it makes us slaves and others seem like enemies. But there is good news, that, "It is the night of our dear Savior's birth," that upon his advent in world history, and, I think, our personal history, the soul feels it worth, that it is a new day. There is a thrill of hope all all the weary rejoice, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morning.

Perhaps today, even this very moment, can signify the rise of a new sun, the breaking in of a new day, a day of hope, a day of praise, a new day of purpose and worship.

Shall we pray.

Jesus, you did teach us to love one another
Your law is love and your gospel is peace
Chains you shall break, for the slave is our brother
And in your name, Jesus, all oppression shall cease
And sweet songs of joy and choruses of gratefulness we raise to you
For all taht is in us praises you and your name
Christ is the Lord,
So ever let us live beyond ourselves
In the name of Jesus, the Bright and Morning Star. Amen.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A Sign in Heaven, A Shirt Down Here

I don't know if there are any signs in heaven, like, "one way," "do not enter," "Ped X-Ing." But today I was thinking about that briefly, and I thought that there might be one sign, "No Perfect People Allowed." And then I thought, "It's quite ironic, that when we think we are perfect that's when we mess a lot of stuff up." It's usually when we are broken and humble and sense the depth of our God-need that we usually do okay.

Sadly, I think some churches have the wrong signs up, or that some Christians have the wrong t-shirts on (I'm speaking figuratively here and not in cotton-polyester terms). I've gone into my legalistic closet before and put on the nicest, "No Imperfect People Allowed" shirt that legalistic currency could buy. I've actually taught similar material before, I ashamedly say. I've even known some churches who have as their mantra, "No Perfect People Allowed," or at least that is what it seemed like to me, where they/we put burdens on people's shoulders that not even our forefathers could have carried. And those churhces wonder why no one comes. Nobody wants to be around a grump and a pessimissic person. Even in break rooms the teachers (I worked at an elementary school a few years back) could be having a great time, but one person could pull out their, "No Imperfect People Allowed" ruler and the place would get quiet and get empty thereafter.

I'm not saying that churches shouldn't teach the Law or hold to standards or anything like that. I'd be a fool and heretic if I did. However, I am saying that there should probably be, speaking in Betty Crocker terms, 2 parts grace for 1 part Law. Grace without law leads to license. Law without grace leads to legalism. Both are equally dangerous.

In Luke 7 Jesus didn't have the same t-shirt on as the other religious leaders. He forgave a woman with a questionable reputation and a dude named Simon (not his disciple, but the host) said, "If Jesus was a Prophet (prophets can be known for their judgment side) then he'd know who she was and he'd judge her a good one." But Jesus said, "Simon, you guys think you have it all together and you have your nice t-shirts on and appear to have it all together. But the Messiah didn't come for people like you. You don't serve; you didn't wash my feet with water. She washed my feet with her tears. You didn't even greet me, but she hasn't stopped kissing my feet. The person who is forgiven a lot experiences and expresses boundless love. The reason you aren't loving, serving or kind is that you think you don't have any problems." In a way, finishing up, saying, "So, Simon, if you don't mind me saying so, you need a change of heart and a change of clothing. I've got a satchel full of No Perfect People Allowed t-shirts outside, I could get you one if you wanted."

OUCH!!!!! Jesus said it in his own words else where (Matthew 9:9-13), "It is not the healthy who need to go to Kaiser, but its the sick. For I, the Messiah, didn't come for the righteous, but sinners." To have no problems is a problem. So, if you don't mind me showing my skin for a moment, I'm going to just take off this raggedy and tired perfection only and go with a more mild and appealing t-shirt.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Steve and Jessica are Married!!!!

This past week Barb and I were able to celebrate with Steve and Jessica and scores of others up in Tahoe. Steve and Jessica were married at Edgewood Resort and said their vows in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. It was impressive--the scenery, ceremony and friends. Quite the memory maker.
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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Crazy Making Formulas

So, anyway, what I was saying is this, what I've been learning, with divine intervention, is that formulas are not the best way of approaching God. Henry Cloud and John Townsend have this book, 12 Christian Beliefs that can Drive You Crazy. What I realized when I was reading bits and pieces of it is that we all have assumptions that are really formulas. Here are a few: If I have God then I really don't need people to help me or to encourage me; If I make right choices I will grow spiritually; doing the right thing is more important than why I do it; If I'm spiritual enough I will not have pain, sinfulness and most crap that people send my way will not bother me. That's a few that they tackle.

I have a few assumptions and formulas of my own: if I read my Bible everyday I will get smarter and understand God more; If I pray, God will be more happy with me; If I do the right thing then I will be blessed, which means that "God's people" won't get mad; it's better to live in peace than to help resolve conflict; if I don't "hear from God" then I must be doing something wrong or there is "some sin in my life." My other assumption is long gone, "If I blog then I will only get positive and affirming comments." The pen is mightier than the sword, and I have fallen on both!

So really 2005 and 2006 are really tied together for me (check previous 2-3 posts). This jive about formulas puts be further along the road I walked last year when God was teaching me about "being."

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

I guess January is a time to reflect and a time to look forward. The past 12 months or so have been about God teaching me how to be myself. Seems simple. Last January I was steeping in the truth that God created me with certain strengths and weaknesses and I should live within those. I spent most of last year asking this question, "Who is God calling me to be? Why has he created me? What work am I here to do and what am I to be?" It was a time of seeking out the depths of being and doing, one being inextricably linked with the other.

The prompting I've been getting lately is that, for the mean time, I should simply seek God in relationship and not in religion, in friendship and not in formula. Religion has killed many a man and many a faith. It's quite a thought: God being emotionally interested in me, of having that feeling in the pit of his stomach because of his concern for me. I hope to sail further into that bright horizon.

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