Sunday, May 31, 2009

Skyline Chili Celebration Game Night!

We had a great time Friday night celebrating God's goodness together. Erica & Sue, thanks for the photos.

I've had some requests for the recipes. If you made a dessert or side and would be willing to share, please just post it in the comments. Thanks!


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Randomness on the Church, the Cross, the Trinity...

I want to move forward.

I am tired of the consumer church of my youth. I am tired of clergy catering to what makes a congregation "feel" spiritual. I am coming to believe that oftentimes feeling spiritual has very little to do with actually being followers of Christ.

Gone are the warm fuzzies of my earlier faith. I want to be involved in a movement that binds the wounds of the brokenhearted - a movement that helps people not only get back on their feet but helps them learn to run in the grace of God.

I want to help lead a group of people who know they are broken. I want to humbly submit my own brokenness and allow God to use me as He sees fit and help others to do the same.

I don't want to fear the working of the Holy Spirit, but I have no desire to perpetuate a spiritual experience as the end goal.

I believe we are blessed to be a blessing. We are called to intentionality. By that I mean we are called to look for opportunities to extend grace and love - whether those opportunities arise in our neighboorhood, in our christian communities or in our own homes.

Jesus paid the ultimate price for each one of us. His death - his choice to go to hell and back for us - gives us the freedom to live fully. His resurrection gives us power over death - and not just bodily death, but also power over those things in life that lead to death. We have power through Jesus to partcipate in fixing the brokenness and easing the suffering caused by sin. His ascension to the right hand of the Father established God's Kingdom here on earth. If we desire to further his Kingdom, we have the privilege and responsibility to look for where He is working in the pain, suffering, and brokenness and jump in as agents of grace.

This decision to jump in means that we have to take on a Kingdom mindset. It is not appropriate for us to chase after the idols of our day. We are called to live with people who are deluded by worldly success, financial security, and the praise of men, BUT we are called to be separate in our identity. There is a better, truer way.

Each & every one of us are in need. We all have empty spaces. I dream of a community where we come to focus on Jesus and allow Him to transform our hearts. We then go from that gathering, pick up the cross of Christ and become witnesses to the amazing difference his love and grace and truth have made.

I love the view of the trinity as a beautiful dance. Father, Son, & Holy Spirit - all one and yet all distinct in their roles. I want to dance with friends among the trinity. I want to be so safe in my commuity that I am free to be me and free to let others be who they are.

In the trinity there is no jockeying for position. They live and move and work as one. The goal is set and they dance in unity to move toward the goal.

We have been blessed by the ultimate model of community. God creates, Jesus saves, the Holy Spirit guides. How fortunate we are to interact with them all.

People ask me what goals I have for a community of faith. I do see things like lives being put back in order, hungry people fed, lonely people befriended, naked people clothed. I also see captives freed. I want to live the true life in such a way that the fragrance of Christ overwhelms.

I don't want to bait and switch. I don't want to minimize the cost of Christ to "get people in." I want to pick up my cross daily - knowing that this life of emptying myself is the only way to live fully. And as the Holy Spirit brings people along, I want to be used as a tool to help navigate faith.

It is a costly life, for sure. It often means going against what I want, what my needs are, and becoming a vessel to be used. But I see no other way. I have lived much of my life living only for me. And that life brings heartache, endless struggle, and depression in a downward spiral.

So counter-intuitive, but so meaningful is my life when I am laying it down for others. I have found no greater joy or fulfillment than giving of my time and resources to someone who is in need.

How do we foster that type of community? I'm not entirely sure. I think it begins with realizing the amazing gift of life we've been given in Christ. I think it also begins with laying down our individual comforts and agendas and collectively picking up Christ's agenda. It begins also with submitting our will to God's will and the the will of the community led by Him.

I don't expect it to be a perfect process. I see the selfish parts in me that die hard. But I believe there is enough at stake to be willing to try. God has certainly put his faith in us. He is counting on us to step up to the challenge with humility and love. If He - who created us and knows us better than anyone - believes in us, then who are we to question?

I would love to hear your thoughts? Do you believe consumerism is wrecking things? How do you think we can become all Christ created us to be? How do you picture the trinity?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What Would Happen if We Just Read the Book?

Check out these video clips Bill Couchenour posted on the Be The Change website.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Becoming the Answer

I just finished reading a book by Shane Claiborne & Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove called, "Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers." Here is the excerpt that I am pondering:

"One thing we have learned from conservative Christian believers and from progressive social activists is that community can be built around a common self-righteousness or around a common brokenness. Both are magnetic and contagious. People are drawn toward folks who have it all together (or have figured out how to look like they do). People are also drawn toward folks who know they don't have it all together and are not willing to fake it. Christianity can be built around isolating ourselves from evildoers and sinners, creating a community of religious super-piety. Christianity can also be built around joining with the broken sinners and evildoers of our world crying out to God, groaning for grace. That's the Christianity we have fallen in love with (p. 47)"

There are times I want to hide my brokenness. Why do I do that? It's like a little kid who plays peek a boo by covering his face with his hands, thinking the other person can't see him. The reality is that I know I'm broken. I know we're all broken. I'm dreaming of a community where we don't hide our brokenness and we don't hold our brokenness against each other. Rather we each learn to face up to our brokenness, lay it at the foot of the cross and teach others to do the same. The silhouette of my brokenness against the backdrop of what Jesus has done for me is more beautiful than a sunset off Mallory Square.