Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Religion and Jesus don't mix

There is a religiosity in the air sometimes and its stench wreaks. Usually it comes out in the form of judgmentalism towards others and guilt/shame within ourselves. Jesus called us to love our neighbors and experience freedom for ourselves, but somehow religion is just easier to do.

I kid you not that in my classroom that as I projected images of the hurricane in order to spur on a time of prayer, some students chose to mock it and be glad for a judgment on those sinners in Mardi Gras, or that the frenchies down there deserved it. Now I understand what hormones are, and how guys like to show off in front of the ladies and how sarcasm makes you noticed and cool, but this was too far. Some were just stating what had already been taught them re: this storm at church or home. Frankly, it enraged me. I honestly don't know how to teach in that moment. The students are used to me being easy going, but there's a side of me that is tired of the religiosity and wants to overthrow tables. How far should my compassion go in the ways of "boys will be boys" to "sometimes you need a swift kick in the pants"? We'll see how today goes but I just thought I would point this out lest we think the Pharisees died a long time ago.

I hate religion, I love the ways of Jesus. Teach me today Lord to know the difference between the two.

Stop and notice the Kingdom around you today,

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

An Invitation

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavey or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." Matthew 11:28-30

Been meditating on this invitation the past couple of days and having students journal on it, so I thought I'd blog it. We are studying the topic of Spiritual Formation which is all about the unforced rythms of grace. I admit that I"m still learning exactly what that means. Its a mystical and spiritual process of being drawn into His presence and walking in it completely changed from the inside of my heart. Today in my heart, I feel sad for those suffering through the hurricane. I can hear the cries of people calling from their underwater homes last night. Some of them left their life on earth last night as I slept. I pray that God knows and is present with them.


Monday, August 29, 2005

God is good

Am in the middle of training for another 1/2 marathon on 10/15 in Indy w/ Bean and Bowen but am struggling to up my miles. Yesterday I did another 6 miles and then dehydrated before I could finish the 7th. I have 7 weeks to be at 13 miles . . . great googly moogly.

Now to the God is good part. I had the privelege of being invited to go with Todd and Jamie Minniear from OCC to Todd's mom's house for a conversation with her. Cheryl has been wrestling with cancer for I believe 5-6 years and is now at the point of it being terminal. She is having lots of questions particularly about life after death. We were able to share w/ her about God's grace and salvation through His Son in the life we have now and the life yet to come. She shared about her life and powerfully confessed some personal things that have been on heart for a long time. It was a time of reconciliation and making things right, very cool stuff. Then we shared more about the love of Christ and a life in God. We had a time of prayer to conclude and Cheryl entered into the Kingdom of God during that time. As well we prayed for her healing as she wants as much time as she can get with her family and enjoy her grandkids. When we came, her face was full of fear. When we left, the burden had been lifted and peace ruled her heart. I am in awe that God uses us to communicate and embody His love for His missing children. Truly, truly, God is good.

Now I'm to try and communicate this love and truth to Christian High School students who have heard it all before.

Stop and notice the Kingdom around you today,

Friday, August 26, 2005

Did I mention I was filthy rich?

The reality of my wealth in social capital was proven yet again last night. Its been about 5 months or so since we had a full blown "fight club" meeting and it started back up last night. Rains, Canipe, Johnson and myself sipping coffee, cracking jokes and pondering on Kingdom topics. We just picked up right where we left off, that's when you know that friendship is deep. It was great to catch up. These meetings just put my life in perspective and energize my faith and leadership. It is not good to be alone, finding just one or more others that you can bear your soul with is to be sought after more than gold or silver.

George Barna is coming out with a new book in which he describes "Revolutionaries". He says he can now quantify that there is a population of 20 million Americans who have left church in order to more authentically follow Jesus. Meaning 20 million have left church but not Church. He says many of them have gone underground in spiritual mini-movements in which house churces/missional communities are one version of. He also estimates that in the next 10 years that # will double. The jury is out on why this is happening or if he's completely right in his estimations. What I do know is that he is describing me. I am not at all angry w/ church, (well atleast not anymore) but I do know that I feel at home in small missional communities and am willing to spend the rest of my life asking for God's Kingdom to come in my neighborhood.

We noted last night that the power of these spiritual mini-movements is in that they are contextual. There is not one cohesive idea or model that everyone needs to embrace. America no longer has just one culture. America is a mosaic of diverse cultures and sub-cultures and the Church should look the same. The issue is not models, the issue is the Incarnation of the Kingdom of God. Mini or mega or something in-between, figure out who you are and get about living it out. I don't have time to argue. With my time left on earth I want to invite others into the experience of Kingdom Come and take on whatever sacrifices that entails. Be the Church today.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

Holy Moses I am tired

pause for a moment of complaining: Yesterday was a long day, teaching in my day job from 8:00 - 3:00, then prepped for my night teaching job 3:00-5:00, then got home to say "hi" to my family, eat dinner and leave to teach my night job from 6:00-10:00. I got home around 11, in bed by 12, woke up at 3:00 a.m. with anxiety (which has happened most nights this week) and then up at 6:00 a.m. to start again. The teaching is all going well but for all my effort, I can only just barely keep up with simple bills. I work 4 different jobs (1 full time and 3 part-time) and my wife works 1 part-time and we can still barely make ends meet. Thank God we don't have much debt outside of our mortgage. Its just frustrating that maxing out my workload is bare minimum to get by. At the same time as I complain, people around the world are starving and have no employment, so my venting is in context. Nothing is guaranteed in life, and faith is not w/out struggle. I thank God for His provision but still feel the tension of my toil and tiredness. Ok, moment is over.

Read this today in Celtic Daily Prayer: "Friendship requires honesty. Friends do not need you to be 'up' all the time - instead they enable you to be more vulnerable." For all my complaining about not having much financially, I am filthy rich with these kind of friends. I mean, I have never had the kinds of close friends with whom I can be intimate and real with than I do now. I am poor in finances and rich in social capital, go figure.

peace of Christ upon your day,

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Is brokeness an okay place to be?

I woke up a few times last night, feeling pretty restless. Over breakfast and the drive to work I was filled with prayers for brothers and sisters of mine that are hurting right now. Then it just hits me and I feel utterly broken. I feel broken between what "is" and what "should be". We have an unshakeable Kingdom, but we live in the pig stye. The Kingdom is all around us, yet we find ourselves in darkness. Healing is within our grasps, yet suffering continues. Hope is our calling card, yet we proclaim legalism. Freedom is our destiny, yet we choose our bonds.

Then I find myself pointing out everybody else's "stuff" only to realize the enormous plank in my own eye. I am sinful, I am broken, I choose selfishness, I live in death when life is before me, I am what I loathe, I do the things that cause brokeness not just in my heart, but in the heart of Abba. Not in a guilt trip kind of way, but in a relationally distant kind of way. I long for a different kind of spiritual life for me, one that is in step with His ways. I long for a different kind of Church, one that is communed with His Spirit and Truth. And the gap between that longing and the present reality is what causes me brokeness. And frankly, I would rather be broken than settle for status quo.

So today my choice is to worship and reflect. Find my way back to His heart and dwell there a bit. He doesn't move, I do. He doesn't need to change, I do. So may change follow me today.


Monday, August 22, 2005

Back to School

Today is the 1st day of school and in Christian School style, we began with a 45 min. guilt-trip assembly to keep order. I suppose structure is needed in any group setting but what I can never understand is why teachers/authority require respect but don't seem obliged to give respect to students. I've always notices that when I give students the benefit of the doubt, they respond to me respectfully.

Another side note is that its great having Aaron Klinefelter on staff. Somebody else to interpret reality with and influence students in healthy ways. He is teaching some Bible, doing a Cisco training class and full-time overwhelmed as the resident IT artist. I'm sure he is at full culture shock of the christian school enviorment by now.

Celtic Daily Prayer really struck me today in the Finan reading:
We are peculiar. We have chosen not to go with the majority. Whe shall pray and reflect on the life of Christ: most people don't do this . . . But there has probably never been a time in history when the majority of people were seriously seeking Him!

We are not different because our shirts are tucked in or because our hair is cut short or because I don't have my ear ring in or because my tattoo isn't showing. (all rules to live by here at CCS) We are different because of His transforming love. It changes us, makes us think and live differently. It causes us to seek life instead of dabble in things that are dead. I want to seek the life within His love today.

Stop and notice the Kingdom amongst you today,

Thursday, August 18, 2005

2 weeks since my last blog

Geez, that's a confession. It is due to the end of summer and the busyness of getting back to school rather than things to talk about. Sorry to many of my loyal readers, with school starting on Monday, I'll be back to my normal structure. I am incredibly unproductive outside of a decent structure.

Last night was the 2nd session of my next NT Survey course that I'm teaching at Indiana Wesleyan and the class is incredibly diverse. We are split between a handful of honest religious skeptics, people somewhere in the middle and a few Christ followers as well. It is fun and challenging to teach. I told my wife the other day that it is so much more fun than much of what I done in past ministry experiences because I am on the edge of trying to communicate the Kingdom to those who just don't buy it. Mostly I just sit back and let Truth handle itself, not just in content but in the Spirit as well.

My daytime teaching gig starts on Monday and besides my year-long NT Survey course there, I am teaching 4 quarter long courses to seniors. The first quarter is on spiritual formation and we will be using the student version of Dallas Willard's "Rennovation of the Heart" (Thanks to Bean Books. Check is in process, Bean :) I am really looking forward to our conversations and personally I'm looking forward to learning with them as well. Its all about transformation into the way we were always destined to be in the Kingdom.

Well, I'm off to have coffee w/ McGillivary. These meetings are my lifeblood. I suppose its the equivalent of an OCC staff meeting.

much love and peace to y'all and I promise to be back w/ more Kingdom goodness,

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

busy, busy end of summer

Just returned from 6 days of vacation with my family and my brother-in-law's family. We went to my wife's parents' condo on a plantation/lake/country club down in Georgia outside of Atlanta. It was pretty plush and scenic and hot. Lots of pool time with the kids and tubing off the pontoon boat. Good relaxing time sandwiched in between 2 long drives there and back.

Now I'm home for 1 day before I head out of town for the next 3 days camping on Rains' land with Bean and Johnson. We will catch the Father Creech for lunch on Wednesday and brave the extreme heat in KY. I'm sure adventures will follow and there will be stories to be told. The last time we camped, it was 19 degrees, Wednesday is supposed to be 95. We seem to choose the extremes.

Reading Palmer's blog is just stunning. He's making progress physically, spirits seemed to be high but the reality of a $220K medical bill is unbelievable. There is very little I can do to help, with the exception of continued prayer and emotional support. I don't even have a spare $220 right now to give. So I've decided to go back into training for another 1/2 marathon and dedicate that to Palmer again. Running keeps me focused on the fight and gives me time to pray. I will be running with Bean at the Indy 1/2 marathon in October and then will begin my focus on training for the full Flying Pig Marathon in Cincy next Spring. That would be my first marathon and I will use it to raise funds for the Palmers again. When you don't know what to do, I suppose its best to do something. Marathon training is a huge committment, particularly for a dude my size, but it is turning into a calling with a real-life purpose. In the 95 degree heat, I started my training this morning. One phrase fills my mind in the hard times . . . "I'm running for Palmer".

stop and notice the Kingdom amongst you today,