my inner monologue...
site by Andrew Seely
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
this via KC's blog.
Pastor Toby Nelson, formerly of Sierra Presbyterian Church, Nevada City CA, called me on his cell phone today with this report. He was "activated" Sunday afternoon as part of a FEMA Response Team, and flew out to Little Rock, then on to Louisiana by vehicle (presumably bus). He says new Orleans looks like a war zone. Indeed, looting and general unsafe conditions required that an armed National Guard unit escort the team into the Superdome, the site of their assignment. He said media is not able to paint the full picture. The situation in the Superdome is dire, critical - no power, darkness, no water for plumbing, with all kinds of crimes taking place including stabbing and rape among those trapped there. He discerns significant demonic activity and a great spiritual darkness over the New Orleans region. Significantly, for the first time in his service with FEMA, his Team asked him to pray over them before entering the city.Pray my friends, pray.
There's a guest blogger over at the Ghetto Blog. Check it out.
If you recall I went to the 2nd Emergent So-Cal Cohort meeting a few weeks back (see here). My new friend and one of the organizers Aaron has put together some of what we talked about into a mp3. Thanks to Trevor for recording.
You can listen in to the conversation here.
Please feel free to contribute to the conversation via the comments.
And we'd love to see you at the next one. Check the Emergent So-Cal site for more information.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
I will preface this post with a clause, that I probably don't have too much merit to post this since I don't really do it (the money part).
Thinking a lot about the whole hurricane mess (no need to link since it's everywhere).
Got me thinking about relief efforts and the Christian response.
What should our response be. Give money? Pray? Go there to help? Nothing at all? Talk about how God is somehow a part of this?
The two most obvious answers, I would argue, would be prayer and giving money.
Prayer, great, do it, and do it often. Leave a TV on and let it be a reminder to pray for people. As of Saturday my heart has been aching for those who were going to be affected and through Sunday my heart continued to ache as the impending was coming, and Monday as footage came I continued to feel the grief that these people were feeling and today I want to keep in fresh in my mind that while for the rest of us this is primarily over, they will have to deal with this for the next coming months and years.
insert preface statement
And how easily we have forgotten Dec 26 2004. These people now a 1/2 year later are still dealing with putting their lives back together. But our funds have already been diverted from helping them a few times, the resurgence of crisis in Africa and the ONE campaign, the buying of little yellow bracelets for cancer research, and I could go on.
I am not saying that these are not noble things to be supported.
But what to me appears to happen is a transference of funds from one place to another.
I as a Christian who gives has budgeted $50 a month to give to some charity. So I faithfully give to my missionary from our church. Then Dec 26th hits, that money now goes to help in the tsunami relief. Then the ONE campaign comes along, and then the money goes to help them, and now the hurricane comes so your money will now go to help them. Do we ever stop to think about the consequences of our "charitable" acts. What about the missionary from your church? Will something bad have to happen there for your money to return to their cause?
The point I wish to call into focus is the need for our Christian response to be one that builds upon itself. So we start with the $50 that's going to our missionary, then when Dec 26th happens we dig deep and offer an additional 20 a month to them, so now we are spending 70 a month. Then when ONE comes along we say how much more can we afford.
Instead of continually shifting our funds around to the "most urgent" or "most recent" place that needs help.
I remember that shortly after the tsunami hit there were a few reports coming from aid workers in Africa who were pleading for monetary help because all of the funds they had come to rely on, were now being deferred to south east asia.
Please, please, please do not get me wrong. I know some of you will say, "Andrew it just sounds like you have an ill sense of giving." My point here is we need to re-examine our Christian idea of giving. We need to make sure that we are giving in a responsible way. I am not saying we should not be attentive to need or hurt when it occurs. But we should not be like reeds in the wind, being swayed by the changing of the winds.
If you have no more to give, don't divert funds from other places that need it just as badly. Dig deep, find a way to give above and beyond.
And pray harder and for longer. Prayer is always free. Money is not always the solution.
I know it's been a long time, but for your enjoyment:
a new ghetto blog
Monday, August 29, 2005
As I've started down my journey of the daily offices (see here), I am off to a slow start. Between last Friday when I got the book and today, I really have only participated in 2 (now) of the readings.
As with all new things and disciplines I think this may take quite a bit of time to get into a regular habit.
Also I am finding a hard time finding the meaning in the words. While quite a solitary experience, and it's purposefully set up to be that way, I am still looking at it like a book. Therefore, I quickly read and do not quite immerse myself in the practice of the offices. I need to slow down, make the experience something that allows me to gain a deeper understanding of what it means for me to take time out of my daily schedule to dive into this mystical tradition of spending time with God.
If you have ever done the Daily Offices, I would love to hear what the experience for you was like at the beginning. Continue to pray that this will manifest itself as a meaningful practice and habit in my life.
(all events occured on Saturday evening)
I proudly get to announce that Jacob Spaun and Krista Shrader are now ENGAGED!!!!
Jacob and I have been one of my best friends since college and so I knew this day was coming for a little while but I couldn't say anything until it happened. I a little less than a year I get to be part of this wedding. The cool part is that I've known Krista just as long as Jacob has, since she was a resident in the dorm where I was an RA, we used to play ping pong together.
Other than this great news.
A group of us went out to Old Town Pasadena the other night and after getting gelato (ummmm....gelato < drool >) at this place. We wondered around for a while and finally decided that maybe we wanted to stop into this Tapas bar and try some. When we finally got to the place we noticed a sign out front that read:
Upscale Attire OnlyNone of us were anywhere close to "upscale". About the time we were going to walk away, one of the "nice dressed" guys who worked the door came out to us and said,. "I'll let you in if you pay a bottling fee." This perked my attention a little, so I asked what a "bottling fee" was. He explained that for only $250 we could get a bottle of Grey Goose and he would let us in. My immediate recation was: WHAT!?!?!?!?!?!!! $250?!?!?!?! I then calmed myself and asked cooly, "Is it a 750ml or 1.75L bottle?" The guy replied 750ml. While Grey Goose is one of the best vodkas around, a 750ml bottle should only coast around 30-40 dollars. Quite absurd!!! I got a hoot out of the whole experience.
As of today (Monday) I will be spending a few days in San Diego on a "working vacation". I need to get away for a while, but I do need to do a lot of work as I prepare for the upcoming fall at church. I'm really looking forward to the time and relaxing as I spend a few days away from thr hustle and bustle of LA.
I'll probably be blogging as I'm away, as I'll be doing a lot of thinking and processing.
Especially as I work to try and come up with some new and different ways of doing Youth Ministry. Your prayers are welcomed.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Today I finally got Phyllis Tickle's book The Divine Hours - Prayers for Summertime. The companion volumes are The Divine Hours - Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime and The Divine Hours - Prayers for Springtime.
I have been really interested in The Daily Offices, since I read Tony Jones' book The Sacred Way. And I only really put off getting Phyllis' books cause they are a little pricey. I paid too much for this one cause I didn't order it from the internet, but when I get the other two I will be sure to get them on the net.
I met Phyllis when I was at Emergent back in May (see this post). What a woman!!! Being around her you can seriously sense the presence of God.
I look forward to trying to make time to do the Daily Offices as a regular practice. If you didn't know, I do like liturgy. I love the discipline part and the history and the tradition that it brings.
I'll say it again. I like liturgy.
Another thing I want to start soon is a real sabbath/retreat/contemplation.
Here's my plan. See I have Monday's as my day off. Starting soon, I will take the 1st Monday of each month and travel to a local (either LA or Santa Barbara)(let me know if you know of any) monastery and spend Monday through Tuesday morning there. During my time I will pray and possibly observe silence, or maybe participate in whatever the monastery has to offer. It will become regular and I hope something that pulls me closer to a Godly understanding that will flow over into my ministry. It kinda goes hand in hand with me starting the Daily Offices too.
I'm looking forward to it.
The other thing I have been kicking around is spending a good chunk of my week in coffee shops, the only problem is in LA (at least in the San Fernando Valley) there aren't really many "good" coffee shops that are independent, so I'm pretty sure I'll be at Starbucks (I know not my fav either). I know a lot of other pastor types do this on a regular basis. Such as Dan Kimball and Aaron Flores to name a few. My goal would be to interact with people who are searching for God. Since I'm not too much of an outgoing person (when it comes to meeting people I don't know), I think I would spend a few hours a day there, with just a sign that read "FREE PRAYER". My hopes would be that people would at the minimum ask me what I am doing and in the best of situations I would be able to pray with people and develop relationships. I really just want to be in a situation where I am feeling like I am actively interacting with the community and people in real life, away from church as the backdrop.
I look forward to your comments and suggestions as well as your support and encouragement as I begin on these endeavors.
Friday, August 26, 2005
I finished Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis yesterday. Though I am going to hold off on writing a review for now. I want to read it again. It's short enough.
This time I'll keep a pencil in hand and really examine some of the statements he makes.
Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the book. If you haven't gotten it, go now!!!
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Today is our church staff retreat.
I'm not really sure what to expect.
Would you please pray.
Pray that the vision of Christ may be made more evident in our church life.
If you haven't already read these posts go for it.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
I did finish reading Post-Rapture Radio by Russell Rathbun. He is a pastor at this church.
And since I did receive a free copy I feel somewhat obliged to at least mention the book and some thoughts on it.
I enjoyed the freshness of this book. Rathbun's ability to take the model of McLaren's book A New Kind of Christian and flush out what may seem as the daily and inner frustrations of a Pastor who is caught up in the struggle to make a difference.
The layout of the book, with it's letters, sermons, notes and journal entries, provides a provocative look into the struggle of a leader caught in the midst of thought and structure of the everyday church.
At times the book presented much to chew on and even provided a whimsical quip here and there. At the heart of the book we begin to grasp the frustration of many, through the central character, who are fed up with institutional church. We are taken down an journey of exportation and risk as one man tries to pull his current situation alongside the desire to explore a God that is big and everchanging.
Through the sermons in the book we as readers are challenged to come to a place where we begin to dive a bit deeper in our taken-for-granted view of God. With a congregation that is more about image and show than content as his back drop we see the sermons and journals take issue with the way his church is currently being run.
While I did not feel that I had been hit over the head with a wave of revelation. Rathbun paints a interesting picture of a dangerous place that may or may not reflect either the current or not so distance future of the church.
If you have read A New Kind of Christian, this book gives readers an inside look as to what a pastor's thoughts and daily struggle may be like if he or she is working towards change and progression.
If you have not read A New Kind of Christian, then I would suggest that first as it is more of a linear story of one man's journey of question and doubt.
You can find more reviews here and here.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Post-Rapture Radio today. The end of the book inspired the post below, missed.
Will have a review tomorrow, since I got the book for free at Emergent.
I woke up. It was Friday. Thank goodness only one more day to struggle through. One more day of the job that drained every ounce of my life from me. One more day of having to deal with Jack, my co-worker who incessantly asked me to borrow a dollar so he could get a can of soda from the machine. Rarely did I get repaid. He never seemed to think ahead, yet he got one everyday. Maybe I should stop carrying cash, so I have a good excuse not to give him any more money. And then there's Samantha, our receptionist, whom I can see from my cubicle. Her high pitched whine of a voice all day gabbing on the phone about who knows what and who's boyfriend did what, and how cute her new cat is. You've had it for 3 years, it can't still be that cute.
I make it downstairs, put the coffee on, grab my Bible from the coffee table. My morning devotional, the only respite in my day. My quiet time.
I make it to work in record time. Crap I could have slept in an extra half hour. Is it a 3 day weekend or something? There just weren't as many cars on the road. I didn't have to stare at people picking their noses or putting on eyeliner as we inched along the freeway.
Oh, well, I guess I get to go home early today.
Work goes by too quickly. Both Jack and Samantha seem to have taken the day off. It's always tremendously easier when one of them is sick for the day, but never have both of them been gone at the same time. Time seems to soar.
Finally, I punch out. The weekend has begun.
Time to sit at home, be with the kids and mow the lawn.
I love my lawn, I just can't stand a perfect Saturday mowing the lawn that is interrupted by my next door neighbor Ron. Ron is gay, and there always seems to be one car after another in his driveway. I am always getting introduced to so and so, right in the best part of my day, when I'm mowing the lawn. Always having to pretend that I'm interested in whomever this new guy is. We talk football occasionally or about art, whatever the wind blows.
This Saturday is different. I get through my entire lawn without being interrupted. Ron's car is even in the driveway. I say a quick prayer of thanks. There must have been a Queer Eye for the Straight Guy marathon on today. Tonight I'm going to rent a movie and be with the family.
Sunday finally arrives.
My day with the Lord.
Church is where I go to be with my God. I love the place, except for those few people who sing out of key a little too loud. Or those members with the mental handicaps who always seem to want to hug me. It's not that I don't care about them, I just easily tire of the hugs that last a little too long that begin to seem awkward. And the people who every week, keep responding to the altar call. Sheila, this one single mother of 4 who struggles with drugs, is like clockwork, every week out pastor makes the call, she comes moping down, audibly crying, tears running the mascara off her eyes. You can set your watch by it. This week our Pastor is right on. I leave feeling calmed and satisfied. Probably since it seems like the usual distractions weren't there, for whatever reason. Pastor even repeated the altar call when Sheila didn't come down as usual. I think he wasn't sure if his mike was on loud enough.
Sunday afternoons are when I read the paper.
Today's headline reads: "Everyone Needs A Holiday". The story goes on to talk about the perpetual prostitution problem in the "poor" area of town and how this past weekend there were none of the usual arrests in conjunction with solicitation. The cops were so relieved, it was like a vacation for both them and the prostitutes. In the world section, there is a smaller story about the disappearance of thousands of people in Africa and Asia, as those most affected by starvation have gone missing. Analysts are suggesting genocide or political upheaval. Well that's one check I won't have to write this month. I guess we'll see Sandy and Patrick home this month and they can preach about their missionary experiences. As I continue to read the paper I notice that the homeless shelters were empty this weekend, reports blame the unseasonably warm weather and the beginning of the month.
For the next few weeks, life is grand, there seems to be less crime, less cars with bad exhaust problems. Less of Jack, Samantha and Ron, I guess it's vacation season. Less news of people dying of starvation. Things seem good.
Waking up today I realized it is Sunday again. I'm looking forward to enjoying another day with God. Only when my family arrives, we find people in the sanctuary crumbled in heaps, balling their eyes out. Naturally we are perplexed. Slowly our Pastor approaches, people are shoving their way out, some with looks of disgust, some in awe, others ready to give anyone a good shiner for no good reason, most of them headed for their SUVs or BMWs, he begins to say something. I can barely decipher what he is saying, all I really catch is. "...we've missed it, we've missed the whole point..." And I was just starting to think life was on the up. A sudden wave of revelation and disgust with myself washes over me. My head gets light. The Bible I am clutching in my right hand, slips, plummets to the Sanctuary floor, falling open, creasing the thin translucent pages. My vision gets blurry and as my Bible has done seconds before, my body gives in to gravity. Everything is black.
Slowly a face appears. It's not my wife. Or one of my kids. Or my pastor. I don't recognize the face, yet I feel as if I should. There is frustration in his forehead, disappointment in his eyebrows, tenderness in his lips, strength in his jaw line. Most importantly there is hope and love in his eyes. Those clear and vivid eyes, staring at my soul.
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Monday, August 22, 2005
After doing a few things this weekend my thoughts turned to understanding how small churches must address the issue of working together.
I'll take this in the context of youth ministry but I'm sure much of what I say can be related to whole congregations as a whole.
WE HAVE A PROBLEM
Ministry is being done. But on a limited scale. Not meaning that poor ministry is being done, but meaning that there is so much potential for lots of ministry to happen but we are stifled from doing it.
The problem lies within resources.
A paid youth worker on 10-20 hours just doesn't have enough time to sink into a ministry to make it grow, at this time length all we can do is maintain and survive.
It gets even worse when we start talking volunteer status, with no paid person above.
I am learning that growth (in numbers but more importantly in quality) is directly proportionate to how much time one can spend in active ministry to a group of people.
Ministry takes TIME. If you do not realize this then there is a serious disconnect.
Again I find myself wondering, baffled, dumb-founded as to why churches can't make the commitment to resource for youth ministry to happen. Yes, I realize that many churches just don't have a lot of money to throw around. And I realize that churches have other needs for the money, such as buildings, bills, mortgages, and such.
What is hard for me is why we get so caught up on asking questions like, "Where are all the kids?", instead of getting really excited about maybe the 1-3 kids that show up on a regular basis. Should we say, "We (as a church) are so happy there are 3 kids here, please allow us to make it possible for you to spend as much time with these students so that you can nurture and grow them to be leaders as well. And if, but we really don't care, more students show up, we'll be even more grateful."
Sometimes I think that more "real ministry" happens on the youth ministry level than it does on the whole congregational level. And yes, this is me being cynical and optimistic, so don't harp on me.
coming down to reality
Here's an idea to chew on: What if we as churches got over our egos and started combining programs. Not just youth departments, but churches as a whole.
There are plenty of "small", "dying" congregations that can barely support themselves already.
Please note that I am not against community and the value of being with a small group of people who care for one another. I actually love this very much.
But what if...what if we started to pool our resources? We already live in a society (at least in any semi-major city) where people will commute 40+ miles to go to a certain church. So it's not like people aren't capable of driving themselves anywhere. And people are already driving pass 4-6 churches in their very own neighborhood to make it to "their" church.
What if...we took 2-3 "dying" congregations and made them one?
I love being a Presbyterian, but man oh man can we be stubborn.
Imagine if we starting paying pastors and youth workers full-time and allowed them to do MINISTRY, instead of having to give life support to programs, because that's what the church sees as ministry?
Many people I have been talking to (who are part-time in ministry) are stuck in the position of maintaining a "program". It's either do a weekly program or visit kids in what we like to call "relational ministry". We most always have to defer to the program because, one it is visible, two people who give money to churches like visible, and three it fits nicely into our conceived idea of "ministry".
What if we give these part-timers more hours, to do things that maybe aren't as visible, but really focus on relationships and growth. We (as youth ministers) are not asking for the world, we just want to be able to spend time with people and share Christ and maybe be able to do it as our primary occupation.
It gets real tiring and old, when you have to work at a job you don't like, come home tired and then want to pour yourself into students' lives, but you are just too tired because you have to wake up at 5:30 the next morning to make it to work.
God bless those of you who continue to do ministry while you do other things. I should give you much of my (little) salary.
At this point it may just seem as if I am only complaining, and maybe I am.
But stick with me.
One of my goals, while I may not get congregations to combine, I can at least work towards getting youth workers to combine their efforts to look outside their own congregations and start to come together (in maybe the program sense) and see students understanding that there are other people out there who desire Christ, but never see this because there are only 7 students who show up to their own church's program.
I am starting to work with a few other churches in my area to make this happen on a regular basis.
Yes it is going to be more work at the beginning. Yes, we run the risk of students wanting to go to each other's youth groups. But isn't that what the kingdom of God is about. They are not MY STUDENTS. I should be grateful that they are being part of a community. Somewhere, anywhere.
We are going to be working towards making sure our students know who each other are so when they are at school they no longer have to wonder if they are the only person there who follows Christ because no one from their immediate youth group goes to their school, but maybe some one from another church does.
The "business model" of church has seeped into youth ministry.
It's time for that to stop. I shouldn't claim my students as solely mine. Now is the least opportune time for us as youth ministers to be hoarding students. Now is the least opportune time for resources to only exist at one or two churches out of a dozen.
Why are we still focused on numbers...as a church and as youth ministers? Probably in youth ministry because that's all we hear from sessions or church boards, but maybe because we still haven't gotten to the place where we really are satisfied if only 3 students show up.
How precious are those lives?? Why are we consumed with validating our ministry by claiming that we minister to X number of students?
Mike Yac said it best when he lays claim to the "slowest growing church in America".
I am blessed that God is choosing to grow my ministry pool. But we should stop being disheartened when our pool dwindles.
Maybe it's God telling us to focus our attention on a few instead of the masses.
Now is the time for our churches to come together. Empower your youth workers and pastors to minister instead of having them administrate.
Close one or two churches in your denomination and make one that has the resources to flourish, not just monetarily, but because the mandate to minister to people is being followed and as a larger entity you now have the resources to make that possible.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
I have a few housekeeping things.
I updated a lot of the links on the left side, I've moved some people down to quasi-hobos, added a few to all categories including emergent folks.
My friend Joseph "the dragon" Liu is now blogging!!!
Bill Sperry STILL HAS NO BLOG, but he does have a myspace, his is here.
Our DSL at home finally works again. After 3 VERY LONG WEEKS, it came back this past Saturday. To quote Carlos, "we are such DSL whores".
I have a lot to write about this week, we'll see how motivated I get. Stay tuned.
I got Rob Bell's (his church, his videos, his sermons) book Velvet Elvis today. I'm really looking forward to it!!!!
Saturday, August 20, 2005
click on any picture for larger image
Allow me to take you on a journey of Simpsons Season 6.
I've been waiting around since last Dec when season 5 came out and then finally heard that they were going to release season 6 earlier this year, then upsetting news came out saying that they were going to push back season 6 from June to August. Finally we got to see the new box and I was totally bummed that it looked different from the old boxes.
Obviously the old one doesn't fit on my shelf with the other boxes.
But as I began to open the box
I came across this
in case you can't read it, it says:
For all those that fear change...So I called the number.
This is what I heard:
It then sent me to www.simpsonsbox.com
here are what the pages look like
In a few weeks when it comes I'll post pics of the new box.
Otherwise I've really been enjoying Season 6, it's one of my favorite seasons.
Friday, August 19, 2005
I know it's really, really late notice, but in case you are free at 10 am tomorrow Sat Aug 20th then the SoCal Emergent Cohort is gathering.
See here for info and directions.
I'll be there.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
During the beginning of the week at camp, we in our team (our church and some other churches) talked about what we were expecting from the week ahead.
Here was the main answer that was heard from students.
"I want to get closer to God."
This began a flood of thoughts which I'll try to coherently lay out here.
My first reaction was to think, "wow, what a crappy answer."
Then as I began to think more I wondered if this statement was more about student's distance from God of their inability to fully express their desire to grow.
I think when we think about the way we treat students, in their spiritual lives and what we teach them about the presence of God, all we teach them is to utter the words "I want to get closer to God".
We have come to a point (not just with students but with all believers) where we lack the language or the skills to identify specifics when we talk about growing closer to God.
I do think the statement does exemplify a deep genuine desire to grow closer to God. I really think there is a need and desire among students to want to know and experience God in new and exciting ways.
My question lies in how we are teaching students to experience God. Too often I hear from pulpits and even from my mouth, that to fix our problems all we need to do is "pray and/or read our Bible".
< BUZZER NOISE >
I think we need to expand the language that students use to express their desire to know God more intimately. We need to help them identify the specific regions of their lives that need attention.
So often we allow guilt to be the reason that drives students to think that they are not living with God and therefore need "to get closer to God". Guilt should not be the reason, or it should not be allowed to lie to our students. God is ever present and ready to enter into a deeper relationship with anyone who comes seeking.
The idea that what we are doing now isn't good enough for God is what, I think, many people think.
When did we leave behind the notion that God loves us exactly as we are. That whatever we bring as a offering, it is accepted. God loves us and wants us no matter how fucked up we are.
So I began to relate this to students (minus the expletive), that our relationship with God is not determinate on the feeling that we "need to get closer to God", he is here and willing.
What we need to work on is expressing in what exact manner do you want to grow closer to God. Do you need a better prayer life? If so let's take that a step further and explore what part, exactly, of your prayer life do you want to explore, is it praying about the needs of others more, is it understanding the pain of others, is it being able to genuinely express thanks and gratitude towards God?
Hopefully I am expressing the need for us as leaders to help students (and congregations) to understand that since we live under a God who's presence is everywhere, our experience is not dependent on a mountain (camp) or a certain place, or a certain feeling or out of guilt, but all it is dependent is our ability to seek God with all of our heart, for he will meet us no matter the circumstance, as long as we are ready to encounter a God who will shake the foundations of our lives.
My desire is to help people understand that growing closer to God is a continual process, done anywhere and anytime. I want people to know that it is possible to continually experience God's story and presence in our daily lives, that we should not have a disconnect between our daily lives and when "we are getting closer to God", that the two are not mutually exclusive, but are one in the same.
I think it is fair to say that almost everyone wants to "get closer to God", but as leaders we need to be sure we are equipping people with the language to express exactly how they want to grow closer and the tools and skills to make that desire a reality.
In case you forgot The Simpsons Season 6 DVDs dropped today.
Go get them!!!
Monday, August 15, 2005
This is what I wrote as a summation of the week at camp.
For this I know, that God's essence is structured into every wisp of time. Being portioned out to each during the prescribed opportunity. Revealing order, mystery, comprehension, and love. That is not bound and will never be tamed.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
As you may know last week was spent at Forest Home for High School camp.
All I can really say is thank you.
The staff was amazing at being true to the words and life of Christ.
The staff was such an amazing encouragement to me this week. They affirmed my ministry and my gifts, which I think was exactly what I needed.
Thank You Angie.
Thank You David and Faith.
Thank You for your prayers and words and your lives.
Thank You High School Staff.
Thank You Forest Home.
But most importantly:
Thank You GOD for never failing to make your presence known.
I have much to write about and will be posting my thoughts from last week, all next week.
Sunday, August 07, 2005
Please read the post "stroll" if you haven't. And if you have please consider posting it on your blog as well.
Ok. Here's the short end of the stick.
I'm going to be a hobo-blogger once again.
This next week I'll be at Forest Home for High School summer camp.
I do apologize for the lack of posts last week and the lack of insightful thoughts and questions that you, my dear readers have been accustomed to.
I will be taking my laptop to camp with me to work on a few other things, which means that I hopefully will have some introspective time to write and think, which means a flurry of posts when I get home. (Leave comments as to which you'd like, a flurry all at once, or spread out over the next week)
I think the post dull somewhat sums up my feelings of late.
I need a vacation or sabbatical or something. The last month has been running non-stop from thing to thing. Planning an event every week has taken its toll. The numerous hours calling students and then preparing and cleaning and trying to do this admist planning for the start of 2 youth groups is quite hard work.
Tonight is more or less an all nighter. I have so much on my plate this coming week and especially the week after I return I am forced to make sure I do things now so that they will not be sub-par because everything is done last minuet.
I do want to leave you with a few thought to ponder.
*change title of post to*
I was at a party last night for a friend who is going away. He had tacked his party on to a pre-existing party for another person going away. Which meant that I wouldn't know a majority of the people there.
Let me make a few statements about parties.
1. I don't like surfacy conversation. (I don't know how I'm going to make it through my 10 year reunion. I've often thought I'd hand out 3x5 cards with a brief summary of the last 10 years and a phone number and a line that says "if you really want to know more call me later" and see who actually calls me. Kinda a jerkstore thing to do but it will quickly weed out those who really care about what I've been up to.) I'd rather have meaningful conversation with a few people instead of having to talk to a bunch of people about this and that.
2. I don't do well at parties where I don't know anyone. This might seem a bit odd since I'm a fairly outgoing person. But I lack the ability to just strike up a conversation with someone and say "Hi, I'm Andrew. Blah, blah, blah." I just can't do it. I do well when a mutual friend goes, "Hey this is ________. Meet Andrew." and then proceeds to introduce a topic of common ground.
Otherwise I just stand around feeling awkward about not knowing anyone and try not to look too out of place.
So back to the party.
It was a double whammy, I didn't know anyone and I couldn't really have any good conversations.
What happened a lot was I'd get kinda introduced to someone and we'd chit chat and such about if I was going to school and then where did I work and things like that. But when ever we got to the "where do you work" question, it seemed like my answer always ended the conversation.
Person at the party: "So you don't go to school anymore. So where do you work?"
It's not like I'm ashamed of what I do or what I stand for. But it's almost like by saying that I work at a church automatically alienates me from being able to relate to the rest of the world, especially those who have little to nothing to do with the church.
I sometimes wonder if it wouldn't be easier to tell them that I work as a waiter or something, then the conversation can at least move past the "where do you work" and maybe onto the "what do like to do" stage of the conversation.
I'm finding it harder and harder to be able to strike up conversation with people about their views about religion without automatically killing the conversation or having them think I want to convert them.
Maybe it's just that I'm a bad conversationalist or even more realistic I lack the skills to move a conversation about trite things into one about spirituality.
I think it's something that I definitely need to pray about and maybe even spend some more time in very secular situations, trying to make sense of my desire to find people seeking God, and finding a way to approach people and get them to be open and honest and not just shut down when I say what I do for a living.
*end second post*
*return to first post*
Well that should be enough to chew on for a week.
Leave comments. Start your own discussion in the comments. The blog is yours for a week. Pray for us at camp. I'll be working hard on blog topics and posts for your consideration. Thanks again for reading. You guys are the best.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Please read the post "stroll" if you haven't.
During a conversation with my friend Laura, she told me about a church she visited recently. It was a mega-church and it happened to be held at a High School where about 1000 people could gather.
Her first impression about the church was about where it was held. In a High School. This immediately sent a message to her that the main focus of the church was education.
Then I began thinking about the places that we meet.
I began thinking about the churches that meet in large stadiums. Why do we usually go to stadiums for sports events or to be entertained. By choosing a stadium as a place for church, are we sub-consciously saying to the people who come that they will be entertained or will see a show.
What about those churches that mirror large theatres, are we merely saying that church is a performance. I think even in the large churches with big stages and theatre chairs instead of pews, church can be seen as a performance instead of an encounter with God.
Even begin to think about what we do before and after our services.
How many of your churches play music before and/or after church? Is this so people won't have to sit uncomfortably in silence before the "service" starts? I know often the justification for music is even labeled "music for meditation". Hmmmm??? Is it because we are scared of silence?
I am not saying church is bad, because its exterior has always said to me "house of God". But if we are not preparing people for an encounter with God, than are we living up to the cross that adorns our steeples and doors?
I do like what the house represents. Community, size (usually small), intimacy. The house church says so much about what often times "larger" churches do not. While not perfect I think they offer something about coming to God that stadiums and theatres do not.
As long as we are being careful and self-critical about what our words, our actions, our statements, our buildings, and our worship says about wanting people come to God, there is little we can do to deter God from doing some amazing things.
Let's make church a place that says come experience God. Period.
Monday, August 01, 2005
It took a week of being slightly annoyed. It took a week of feeling like something was lost. A long week of trying to avoid what I knew was something that I'd have to face.
The conversation started out quite trite. We talked about few things of importance. Often leading towards merely catching up. Speaking of things usually said at cocktail parties or high school reunions.
Eventually we stood at a confrontation. Words that said with hopes of speaking truth. But words that left you feeling raw and sensitive. Statements that were truth without love. Understanding was left for feelings of pain in the back. Questions of knowing intention were left hanging on the walls.
Avoidance was a possible option. Business suited the situation. Schedules and physical distance kept us apart. Intention would bring forth the needed alignment.
Drinks and food, people and laughs allowed tensions to ease. Events and gatherings allowed a veil to cover the wounds.
What had been built for years would not be eroded by superficiality.
The night ran long while the hours ran short. Amends were made, because the strength to withstand was already embedded.
Our words flowed like a river increasing with flow. Our hearts on the line. Words wrapped with truth ascended into the room. We dug deep, we gained understanding. Our ability to share came rushing back like a flood of memories that make one's core warm.
The night grew smaller and physical rest was demanding our attention more and more. Though we both knew we did not want to break the moment.
Fortunately a day remained which we could stay bonded. Food was shared, laughs were abundant and the dread of separation once loomed over what has always existed, only delayed this time.
Farewell yet not goodbye. Appreciation and gratitude. Knowing that only growth in wisdom will keep us.
Thank you Matt Price for being a true friend that I cannot thank God enough for.
A good friend, Nita Standke who is a survior of Breast Cancer is participating in the Susan G. Komen 3-day walk this October.
If you don't know, this event helps raise money for research and treatment of breast cancer. It's an amazing group of people who are willing to support this cause.
As of right now she is about a little over half way to her donation goal. I told her I'd plug her here in hopes that maybe even a few of you might be able to sponsor her or at least put the word out on your blog or webpage.
Any amount of donation would be fantastic. You can find Nita's donation page HERE. Please use this link if you are going to donate so she gets the credit.
Thanks for your help in making this possible for Nita.