Monday, April 24, 2006

The Day I Grew 1/4 of an Inch

It would be anticlimatic if I said, "The day I grew 1/4 of an inch was last Thursday," so I will say more. I've been having numerous physical ailments from a perpetually inflamed achilles and knee on my left leg to muscles spasms all over. Well several weeks ago a friend said to me that he had went to a specialist, Amy Sable, in San Anselmo and that her help had made him realize some noteable success in his back/neck issues. He gifted me some visits to Amy, which to me is priceless.

So I went and filled out the form and then she measured my height. I was about 6' 3 3/4". In high school I was measured at 6' 4". So having shrunk was news to me. She then had me sit on my bum, straighten my legs out and try to reach toward my toes as far as I could. She measured me in a way that is too complicated to write for some reason. Anyway, she looked down at my fingertips and said, "Jason, I'm so glad you are here." Okay, so she then says roughly that I'm about 11 inches from an average person's reach. So, I'm less than average. My daily look in the mirror and memories of reports have told me as much.

She stretched me with the help of a machine with a pulley and such. I was expecting something more Adams Family; I was gladly disappointed. So for 1.5 hours she worked me over. She then measured me and I was a little over 6'4". Ah, and the best part was no growing pains.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Holy Week

So, it's sunny outside. Quite bright. It seems as if the earth has moved closer to that orb over tha past two months, which I guess, actually did happen. What did they call that? Oh, the axis.

The past weeks have been quite good. I've been reading through the Gospel of John and have really had some good study/devotional/prayer times while reading it. There are a lot of details that have been added to that story thanks to Earl Palmer's great but short book, "The Gospel John Wrote." He says so much with a third-world economy of words.

I recently met a man who is a church planting strategist. He's quite the fervent communicator. He is an ex-Marine who served in the Philipines during the 80's. While he was there, from what I understand, a nine-year-old girl came up to him and preached to him that Jesus was the only man that would ever end war. That moment has forever changed him. He began to follow Jesus. I was thinking of him today, mid-ways through Holy Week, and how he and his wife need some special prayers these days.

It's busy around here but things really can't get any better. Barb is healthy and happy and our relationship is totally rockin' right now. Perhaps it is the ballroom dancing classes we've been taking. Last night it was Salsa, the Swing, Foxtrot and general goofiness.

I hope that on the eve of Good Friday, that beautiful but scandolous night, that you since God's presence and pleasure. It was scandolous for him but has worked beauty for this world. May the deepest blessings from heaven be yours.


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Landslide of Grace

No, I haven't been under a landslide lately, well, at least not the same as some residents a few miles away. It has been quite busy here lately. Living in two worlds is hard. I desire to finish well here in Marin and also need to get prepared for the work and life ahead in Memphis. Last night we conducted the Good Sense Budget Course. Some Hillsiders came up to me and were totally jazzed about our move (I think that's a good sign) and were asking a lot of questions. Questions beyond, "Isn't that where Elvis . . ." and more toward, "Why Memphis? What's the draw? Any good bbq there? What's a home cost?"

There's a lot of details I just don't have time to write but I'll make it as quick as possible, the phone's ringing.

Last July Barb and I went to visit my family in north Mississippi. One day we took a trip up to Memphis and hung out in Cooper-Young, a district in Midtown Memphis. We prayed and just asked some residents there what the area was like. We got a good vibe, I guess you could say. So we came back home (Marin County) and started praying and talking things out with Robert and Mandy. There was a lot of freedom to pursue this.

Last December we let the leadership of Hillside know, which was an important step. I wanted feedback from Prince and other leaders and believers who know me. We sent emails to our friends who had made similar moves and opened up a hugh dialogue. Barb and I prayed and fasted and really sought God's direction for us. We understood that it was big decision and had a lot of ramifications upon scores of people. We didn't want to leave the Bay Area prematurely and wanted to really discern what His desire was for us.

In early March we went to Memphis and spent some time with Robert and Mandy and saw my family for a few days. We all talked about it. We met with a pastor and a strategist for the Memphis area. It was quite a wake up call for me. The word from God was that it was going to be the hardest work I've ever done and that I'd have to trust Him in unbelievable (ironic wording) amounts. That moving and working in Memphis would be about things with eternal consequence.

Barb and I talked for hours each day and prayed. We prayed for very specific things and they were all answered in a way that pointed toward Memphis. That being said, let me tell you what I'm not saying. I'm not saying that I'm not sad about leaving our friends and the great things that God's doing around here. I'm not saying that Hillside is not important to me. I think about the people everyday. But what I am saying is that God has spoken and I feel compelled to pursue this dream while working with a team.

So these days are busy as we contemplate our first months there. We are all thinking about how to organize, reach out, serve one another and our community. We are getting in to the Scripture to really understand the nature and role of Christ in the church and what we as the church should do. It's beyond seminary--it's life.

So in a way as things have been saturated in prayer we have found ourselves covered in his knowledge, forebearance, patience and love.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Three Months Notice

This past Wednesday my resignation letter was published in the Hillside Newsletter. Today Prince made a public acknowledgement of it. I was greeted before and after each service today with hugs, affirmation, sadness and questions. The first line of my resignation went something like, "It is with bittersweet emotion that I write to inform you . . ." Let me talk about that for a moment.

I have always hungered and longed for a place of worship where there was great music, great teaching, great volunteers and a place where lives are changed. Three years ago I was asked to speak at Hillside as Prince was away on a reading break. Only a half of handful of people knew me. I was warmly received. I was asked back a few months later to speak three times. After that Prince said, "Why don't you and Barb just keep coming and let's see what happens." I really liked that. I had been of a sour church experience or two growing up, and even was part of a very sour experience just a few years before. I had lost my faith in the church, mostly in leadership. I had never really seen godly, humble, self-effacing leadership. I had seen authoritarian, jealous, possessive and not trusting. And it had gotten me into a world of hurt. I was happy to hear, "Let's just see what happens." Because in a way it was allowing me to settle in softly.

We were living in the city and commuting over to Hillside. It was worth it. Several people surrounded Barb and I and made us feel welcomed and wanted--an opposite experience we had while visiting a church in the city just prior to that. I was working a full-time job and two other part-time jobs at the time as Barb was working part-time and finishing her credential at SFSU. Prince approached me and said, "Hillside would like to buy some of your hours." That was a relief. God had begun to awaken my love for the church and more responsibilities were given to me. I can't say I hit very many out of the park, but I got a base hit or two.

Eventually I was asked to be full-time. It has been so rewarding. My giftings, which had laid dormant for a few years, were awakened and sharpened. It's great to be hired to do what you're wired to do. I have never felt unappreciated by the people, staff or council. I've had encouragement all the way and I have been surrounded by volunteers who have chosen to live beyond themselves. I have had phone calls, emails, and short conversations in the church and out in the community where people have just lavished upon Barb and I words of encouragement.

Anyway, there's more to be said. There is also the future posts about the calling to Memphis, to work that desperately needs to be done there, and the pursuit of creating a church where one can come and hear truth and hear it gracefully. There is also the pursuit of a dream that is happening with team, as Robert and Mandy have gone before us and have really laid some great foundations in contacts and getting to know the personality of Midtown Memphis, especially Cooper-Young. I'm extremely excited and energized for that work in Memphis. I truly believe that I would not be energized or equipped to plant this church with the team if I had not been at Hillside.

I look forward to the upcoming months of finishing well here at Hillside. I've got great teams all around who are ready to give these missional initiatives their all. Hope all is well with you.