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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

ghetto 114 

Saturday, February 21, 2009


This has been quite a week.

Really I came with few to little expectations about the time I was going to have in Louisville. I knew that I was going to be a part of the beginning of something. I knew that we were at the start of a journey. I knew that most likely nothing "groundbreaking" or "earth shattering" would happen.

This was definitely going to be a step for Presbymergent and that the week would be full of conversation and thought.

At the least I knew that I would be able to connect with a few old friends whom I love and miss because they live around the country. And I had hoped to walk away with 3 or 4 people that I really connected with.

All said and done I made some meaningful connections. I knew that I wouldn't be able to speak with everyone there on a level that I would have desired, but that's partly due to our schedule and format. The people I did connect with I am very grateful for. They pushed me, accepted me, challenged me, listened to me and loved me.

One of the great things that I always walk away with from meetings like this is the sense of community that I share with these people from moment one. Even though I may have never met them before, it always feels like home. Many times during our time together I wished that I could just transplant the feelings of belonging and community I was having back home with me.

More than once I felt as if I was engaged in some of the deepest worship that I've experienced in a while. The simple act of sharing openly and vulnerably, became a sacred act. The stories of hope, love, renewal, despair, anger, frustration all interwove to paint a beautiful picture of the work that God was doing through us and around us. It's times like these that renews and strengthens my faith that God is active and alive in the world.

A fact that I have too easily forgotten since not being active in full time ministry is that people who work in ministry are wounded people. I left ministry wounded and still bear the scars to this day. I have continued to heal, yet it was not until this week that I remembered how hard (and great) it is to be in active ministry. I ask blessing on all my new friends who are returning home to congregations, that are messy, broken, difficult and Jesus filled. It's through these communities that God is at work, and that is something we must not forget.

It's easy for me to that everyone knows as much as me. Yet I forget that I've been a part of the "emergent" conversation for a number of years now. And while that number is not large by any means, it still often is larger than most, and my involvement has been quite in depth and with many of the influential people. I never thought of myself as a storyteller. Someone who is given the task of sharing history and background to much of the work that we accomplished this week. This is not to sound high and mighty, but to help me recognize the fact that I do bear a sense of responsibility to shepherd others on their journey of discovery and conversation. Each person must grapple with the ideas and questions that come their way, in their own time at their own pace. It's too easy to forget that I went through the same process. And there was nothing anyone could do to speed me along. All they could do was be there with me at that place at that time. It's too easy to want people to move faster or to discover what you know sooner. At best I can nudge and poke at people, but I must ultimately be mindful of the exact place they are and be there to support them. I must be reminded of this more. Especially as we push forward into trying to help facilitate conversation around the country. People will be coming from a myriad of backgrounds and places in life. With different size wounds that need different kinds of attention. It will be an exciting journey, yet it is not MY journey. At best I can share my story. And at least I can listen to theirs.

The final thing that happened, at least personally during the week, was an unintended spiritual direction. When I happened to meet amazing people, it seems that God used them to do amazing things. I don't want to say too much right now, but suffice to say that God was working through people during the week. I now have a group of people who are pulling for me. They were confirming my call to ministry and lifting me from a place of maybe not going back into ministry into a place where I know there is something out there for me, I may just have not even found it yet. I did in fact, kinda get a job offer...(thank you for that) though I don't know if I will be pursuing it or not.

I'm excited to see what more is going to come from our inaugural Presbymergent Coordinating Group meeting. This is a group of talented and passionate people who love God, I expect amazing things to happen. I am honored to be a part of it and cannot wait to see what happens in the future.

If you are interested in learning more, be sure to visit presbymergent.org

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


I think I've blogged about this before. I'm a part of a group of emergent minded people who happen to still believe in the denominational structure of church called Presbymergent. Being a presbyterian, some people I know thought it a good idea to start our own sub-section of the emergent movement to affect change and start conversation in our denomination.

I was asked to be a part of the initial coordinating group, who's role is to discern what the direction for this conversation is going to be amongst our denomination.

This week I'm headed to Louisville, Kentucky to be a part of this initial gathering of people to share, fellowship, support, think and dream about how we can further spread the discussion in the presbyterian denomination.

It will be great to meet a bunch of new people who are excited and passionate about being a relevant church in our post-modern culture as well as seeing some old and dear friends who I haven't seen in a while.

I'm not sure if I'll be blogging much during the week. Though I will be twittering for sure and I know others will be as well. We'll be using the hashtag of #pmergent to identify our tweets during the week, which you can follow here.

I'm excited and ready to have some great conversations.

update 9:13p pst (12:13a est)
Here at Ryan's house got in late tonight due to priceline picking what time your flights are when you name your own price. Missed the opening introductions, but I hear some people are getting in late tomorrow as well.

Troy Bronsink is staying at Ryan's as well, haven't seen that guy since we both we at the Emergent Village coordinating group a number of years ago. Already have a great feeling for what's going to happen over the next few days.

Off to bed now, lots to do tomorrow.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


For whatever reasons this year valentines day was quite hard for me. This post is not to be a pity party post but a close examination why it seems that many single people are upset by the glorification of love.

While emotionally yesterday was a hard day for me, I did try to examine what the underlying reasons why I was having such a hard time with the day.

I think I can begin with my friend Alex Roller's (PS go bug him to join twitter) facebook status that turned into a mini conversation.
Alex is anti-Valentines. This day sucks.
Some conversation followed but I think Alex summed it up quite well with:
Valentine's is a day when all the single people are reminded of what they DON'T have. Driving around today seeing all the flowers, the couples...ugh...so depressing.
It was the part about what single people don't have that got my mind wandering the most.

I've never had anyone in my 28 years on earth to celebrate Valentines day with. Not to say that I haven't tried or wanted to. It just has never worked out that way. It is something that I extremely long for, yet at the same time, I may place unreal expectations on.

Though what got to me the most yesterday is the fact that my hopefulness in wanting to be in a solid, stable, healthy relationship, has yet to be fully put to the test. In no way am I saying that I have it all figured out or that I'll be the perfect boyfriend or husband, it is more about the chance to. A chance that keeps eluding me.

With a divorce rate of about 50% in this country, chances are that my eventual marriage won't work out. But for all the people who are in dysfunctional, vapid, and unhappy relationships, I want my chance. I want to give it my all to be part of the 50% that make things work. I come from a divorced family, and my deepest fear is that I will end up that way too. I think and think about how I want my marriage to work, so that I can be the best spouse that I can be. I desire that chance.

I deeply long to be able to shower someone with abundant grace that they do not deserve. And to know that they shower their grace on me as well. I want someone to hold me in their arms as I do them. I want my energy and love to feel like it has a sole purpose.

I am not naive enough to think that I am going to end up in some storybook relationship where people fart flowers and I can whistle and my horse comes. I know relationships take real work, that things are not always easy and that it's as much my fault as anyone else.

The one phrase that I constantly hear is "there is someone out there for you". Honestly I can't stand this with all my being. It is a hope that I do not wish to follow. If you know me at all, hope is one of those things that I revere quite highly. Though to hear over and over that there is someone out there for me, sickens me. It is a phrase that is suppose to make things all better. Yet it makes me feel no less lonely, no less remorseful for the past relationships that I've had and haven't had. No less closer to the day when I actually will meet someone meaningful. I am here, I am in the now and I am single. Those are the facts.

Sometimes I just feel like the last kid to be picked for the kickball team. The majority of my peers are married, have kids, or are engaged or in long term relationships. And then there's me. I don't enjoy "the single life". I'm not looking to "date" a bunch of people. I don't buy the enjoy your freedom line.

I believe in love.

I hold on to the notion that I am meant to live my life with someone else. Yet day by day it seems like that dream is slipping away from me. Or at least less likely to occur.

I am weary. Spending most of your life waiting for something takes a lot out of you. Not even feeling like I've made progress towards understanding who I am, when I am in a relationship only means that I have that much more work to do when/if I get into one.

Like I said, I'm ready to give it a try. I see so many relationships/marriages fail, I hope to be one less that does.

It pains me to have to sit around on a day when the focus is on love. But the unintended consequence is it only brings to light more about what I DON'T have. I understand love should be celebrated. I understand I will fully celebrate my love when I find it. Though I vow not to leave those behind who are still searching. I vow to support singles, and not pass them off as others until they are "completed" by marriage. I vow to find ways to incorporate singles into my life as a married, in ways that support them and validate them as whole and complete. I will work to transform the church into a place that is not divided into married/single. I hope others will join me.

Let me state this again, this post is not to be a pity party, you do not need to try and reassure me. I know who I am and what I desire. I don't need to hear that there is someone out there for me, even better than those who have come before. I don't need advice. I write this to explain myself and my sorrow and longing after a day such as yesterday. I write so that you know that I am extremely hopeful and ready to work to sustain a relationship. I write to be open and honest. I write so that you may know me deeper.

I thank you for allowing this place, this blog, to be a place where I may freely share my journey through life.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

surface deep 

I've been thinking about the 25 things meme I did a week or so ago.

I've seen a few news articles about the meme and it's cultural icon status. It spread like wildfire and continues to be one of the most talked about things on the internet.

Part of me started to wonder why it was such a huge success and frankly haven't seen much exploring the deeper underlying reasons why we seem to desire connection and information about people.

In case you somehow have missed out on this, the point of the meme was to give 25 facts about yourself, either common knowledge about yourself or lesser known facts.

When I begin to think about the way we connect with other people there has been a tangible shift in the last 5-10 years. With the popularity of blogs and online social network sites and even services such as twitter, there seems to now be a virtual wall between ourselves and the others we now call community.

Getting to know people in some ways has shifted from personal interaction and physical time spent with people to a new understanding of viewing information offered up by the other party. Think about how much you can learn about someone from reading their facebook profile or watching someones twitter stream for a week. It can paint a pretty clear picture of who this person is. Even friendships no longer rely on personal presence. Pretty much everyone I know can point to a friendship or a relationship based entirely on the internet, never having met the person in physical space or IRL (in real life).

This changes the dynamics of how we interact with people and how we get to know people. Though it also precludes us in many ways of building deep and meaningful relationships with people that come from spending large amounts of time with someone in their presence. In a system that is based on me getting to know a person from only the information that they offer up, is not the same as interacting with someone and being able to ask questions and explore the depths that come more naturally through face to face interaction.

I can think of many a late night conversations with people that have produced levels of intimacy and vulnerability that have led to a deep intimate knowledge of who that person is. Though in a virtual "offer only what you want people to see" community having those types of conversations is almost an impossibility.

Don't get me wrong, I am engrossed with online interaction and communities, but in a way they sometimes lack the depth and substance that I desire.

For a while there was a sense that many of my online interactions were missing something. And I could never quite place my finger on it. Though the 25 things meme helped me start to determine what we seem to have been desiring.

Finally people were offering up (in many cases) information of depth and substance that didn't naturally come out during typical online interaction. We were in a way being shown a whole different side of people we thought we knew. And it's fascinating, for the reason that I think we really truly desire to deeply connect with others.

Maybe we are just redefining the understanding of relationship. Before social networking, I'm sure there are a good number of people who you probably wouldn't have kept in contact (or didn't keep in contact) with if it weren't for facebook or some other social network. But now you do. It's easy, you can put as much or as little effort into the connection and it seems fine to both parties. Yes there are connections that you truly value that only came back due to a social network, but let's think about the ones that are not ones that you would have sought out pre-social networks. It's a shift, one that has largely been seen as good. Though at what cost?
his personally even in my non social network relationships. In a way because I offer up so much of myself on services such as twitter and facebook, I almost expect people to know what I've been up to or what has happened in my life. I feel as if, they should know, and I don't need to tell them.

It almost feels like more work to keep track of who knows what about my life. Either I end up telling people twice about things they already know about, or I leave them out completely because they are not connected to my online presence as much as I hope they are and as much as I stay connected to others lives.

My fear is that we are unlearning how to connect with our fellow human beings. Is this all affecting how we understand marriage and commitment? Is the next generation going to be so devoid of knowledge of how to be fully intimate and present with others?

While we claim to live our lives within a fishbowl for everyone to see, in many ways we are the guardians of what those observing see. The barricades to our inner selves have be reinforced under the guise of offering more information. Though those watching are too busy doing the same to notice that we are now more disconnected from those around us than we think.

In world where 25 things offer an epiphany into people's lives we may need to start to be more aware of the ways we are now building and maintaining the relationships around us.

I desire to know others deeply and be deeply known. Maybe there will be a time that I need to ditch all the social networking, and focus solely on face to face relationships.

Though I believe that social networks can strengthen our existing relationship. If we are cautious enough not to think that they will do all the work for us. Social networks are a tool, not an ends to the means. They will not do the work for us. We are still obligated to be in relationship with others. Which takes lots of time, a willingness to desire knowing others and being vulnerable enough to share the true self.

I hope that I am in the latter category. And feel free to call me out on it. That's part of deep friendships, the willingness to not let things slide. Which is far to easy in online communities.

I offer myself to you to be known and I need to try better to know you. It's a two way street.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


Today is my blogaversary. It's been an interesting ride. Still trying to discern how to continue with this blog. Thoughts are appreciated. Glad to have all of you along for the ride.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

vlog 31