Friday, April 25, 2008

Is this the right way?

I have a friend who just walked away from his church. I say it was his church, because 10-years ago, he planted it, starting with four families in his living room, so, yeah, it's God's church, but it has his DNA all over it. I read his blog almost every day, and today, it was called Q & A. It's about his struggle to give answers that people will accept. What he did just makes no sense, and it's difficult, even for those closest to him to figure this one out.

In the midst of all that, he's trying to convince all of us that he's okay, really okay. Today in particular, he said that all he knows, is what he will do today.

I wonder, how willing am I to just know what I'm doing today? I mean, don't I usually have to have my day, week, month, and even year planned out. I'm working on posting final grades this week, Graduation next week, then Celebrate Life, then I teach a module in our Masters program, then we leave for a week in Brazil, then ACSD, then I speak at a camp, then. . .

See what I mean? Sometimes it would be nice to not know for sure what tomorrow held; to not be able to worry about anything, because I'm clueless about what tomorrow brings, so can't worry about what I'm uncertain about anyway.

For now, guess I'll have to be "content" living life this way . . .then visit interns, go to Dallas, speak at another camp, go to the RD retreat, RA training week, prep for fall move in day, a daughters wedding. . .

I wonder, is there another way, really? I wonder if my friend could tell me what it feels like.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Sissy!

Tomorrow is my first borns birthday. She'll be 24. This week I read a song that she sent me her freshman year in college, talked about mushy stuff that only a father and daughter understand. It basically said how much she loved me, and how I had set the standard high when it comes to finding someone for her to love.

Well first, amazingly enough, that happened.

Second, I love you too. Do you remember sending me that song? Not sure why I read that e-mail again yesterday, but it meant as much to me then as it did the first time you sent it. It still hangs in my office.

I'll be honest, I wasn't sure I wanted you to find someone to replace me, and we've had those conversations. But I'm glad you did.

Brayden is too! Happy Birthday sissy!!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Signs of Life

I was able to spend this weekend with friends in Valpo, what my friend Shawn calls, the vale of paradise. Not sure whether that is what Valparaiso means, but it is a sign of what is going on at that church.

I worshiped today, felt included by a group of people that are on the same page, concerned for their community, and have bought into a common vision and direction. They won't reach everyone in their community, but have carved out a niche for themselves, and are going for it.

What a breath of fresh air it was to be with a group of people who are working together to build the Kingdom of God; not perfect, but working together to make sure that people in their community hear the message of hope. I'm praying that my church can become defined and described in the same way.

Shawn, thanks for including me on a picture of what the Kingdom can look like. You can get a sore throat anytime, and when you do, I hope you call me again.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Coming Together

"It is when what we have in conflict is dominant,
that what we have in common must be emphasized."

This quote is taken from Mike Slaughter's blog, the pastor of Ginghamsburg UMC, from an e-mail he received. It's a great church, and he is a better pastor, digging his heals into a community over 20 years ago, and with God's help, building a church that community needed. I lived 5 minutes from that church for 4 years, and never attended. Why should I? They were the large church in the area to be contended with, you know? I feel like I have little to add to that with his 20+ years of living in the same community I chose to remain in for only 4.

This quote is responding to the many words being said about Obama's pastor and the words he has chosen, or at least the words of his that are being quoted.

In light of this, I'm reflecting on my own church, and our present search for a pastor. A church that is struggling for identity, direction, and a future, I guess not too unlike many churches of our day. I'm just wondering if this quote can become true for the 1200 or so that call my church their home.

In the search for a new pastor, will we draw our battle lines in the sand, coming up with how we define what "church" is, or will we focus on what we have in common? Will our differences become our undoing, or draw us together in an expression of our need for the other? Can I ever again in the church acknowledge that my needs are different from yours, and have us be okay with the differences? That's just about us; what is the message the community hears in the midst of our identity crisis?

My prayer is that we will lay down our swords and come together. Admit that we really aren't all that different from one another. I'm praying for my pastor, whomever that may be. I have my opinion of who that should be, but believe that maybe God knows better than my own selfish desire. Lord, help us all!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Good Conversation

Just spent the day with some good friends of mine, Darrel Harvey, Chuck and Carla Sundberg, and Chuck Hayes to name a few. Had some great conversation around the lunch table today, and it reminded me of a couple of things.

We need to talk more together. I'm a better person when I listen to my friends talk about the things that matter most to them.

We also need to listen better. Thanks for that reminder for all of us Darrel. I was challenged by what you said.

We don't need to be afraid of our conversation. Sometimes we have hurt ourselves by not being willing to talk about the issues we are struggling with. I felt safe with my friends to be me, and tried my best to allow them to be who they are.

We need to be open to change and correction. I don't have this whole mess figured out. Can we deal with and ask the hard questions that are necessary in our friendships? It's the only way we'll get to where we need to go.

I have great friends. I love to talk with them. I love to be challenge by them. I hope I'm always willing to be changed by our conversation.