Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Left Colorado for Orange County on Monday...which means you will probably hear from me more in the next couple of days.

Am here until the 9th

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Book Lust

Every once in a while I need to make a list and confess about all the books I have been lusting for bust have yet to make my own. Here is a recent list of books I want

Waking Lazerus
Five Disfunctions of a Team
What Happy Companies Know
Never Eat Alone
Day with a Stranger
Forty Million Dollar Slaves
Rick Warrens Bible Study Methods
Reflections for Movie Lovers
Hip Hop Church --E Smith
Laughing Pilgrims --Macy
It Came from Within
Wild Man, WIld Alaska by McElven
Importance of Foolishness--Manning
Kill the Indian, Save the Man--Churchill

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Infinite Value

When I was in seminary, I had a professor of evangelism and church growth named Dr. Russ Jones that was wonderful. He taught will passion, and he had a lot of practical advice on leading churches. One time, he shared with us, he was visiting with a person skeptical about the Christian faith. This person asked him to put in one sentence what the Christian faith was all about. My friend responded, "The Christian faith is about the infinite value of each human being to a loving God." I thought that was very well said, so much so that I remember it to this day.

The Bible tells a story. And the story is about a shepherd. The shepherd brought his sheep to the destination he was heading to, and he realized that there was one sheep left behind. So the shepherd left the rest of the sheep to fend for themselves while he went and looked for the one lost sheep. This passage has always frustrated and confounded me. Why is he leaving all these other sheep unguarded? Why does he value one sheep so much? And the answer I came to is the answer that I also heard from my professor. We like the sheep have infinite value to God. God will go to almost any length to draw us to himself.

In Ephesians 5:1 we are told to be "imitators of God, as dearly loved children." Many times when we hear this we hear this as a call to purity and holiness. In part communicated by the WWJD drive a couple of years ago, we see being imitators of Jesus as a call to ethical living. Indeed, that is a very important part of the message of what it means to walk in Jesus footsteps.

However, if we are to be apprentices to Jesus, and we believe that Dr. Jones is right, than a big part of doing what Jesus did is to communicate to people that they have infinite value in God's sight. We need to communicate this in the words that we speak to spiritual seekers, and to one another. As a matter of fact, we are called to commuicate this truth in all that we do or say.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Dave Matthews Band - Everyday

This is my favorite video of all time. And it is my favorite video because it speaks so much to the nature of my calling to the ministry.

For example, look at how difficult a time he has at the beginning of the video, and how the movement he is a part of begins to grow and grow as he goes along. In the end other people are beginning to catch on and he no longer has to be the center of the mission.

Also, look at his ordinariness. He is a fairly plain, average looking guy dressed in very average garb.

It also speaks to the essence of the gospel, communicating to each person their eternal value to God.

Amazing video.
U2 and Green Day

A Brilliant Moving Video and song. Based on a punk song from over 20 years ago. The benefit album with four songs on it goes on sale digitally next week.

Blizzard 06

After being 70 degrees the day before it started snowing in the early morning on Thursday, and was like this by late morning. Today it is in the 50s.





Thursday, October 19, 2006

Some good tunes



A friend gave me this album. I love it! It has a little bit of a country flavor, but still remains typical Jimmy Buffett.

The first track "Bama Breeze" is a song that is both fun and sad at the same time, as it reminisces about a bar. In the video it was damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

My favorite song is the sixth track, which is all about in-betweenness. It is called Nothin' But a Breeze.

Buffett has two songs that give some thought to the end of time and the end of things. The first is Regaebilly Hill, which sounds a lot like a calypso version of the I Have a Dream Speech and Flannery O'Connor's short story REVELATION. The second is more about an eternal party with dancing and New Orleans Jazz. It is called Silver Wings.

A little sarcasm for your day

A song review



A couple of weeks ago I received a generous gift of CDs to listen to from a friend of a friend of mine. I have not gotten to all the songs and the music, but one album I have played over and over. That album is the John Mayer’s Continuum album. One song that caught my ear was the first track on the album called “Waiting on the World to Change”.

The character in this story in the song, according to several interviews with John Mayer, is trying to explain why his generation seems apathetic toward most efforts to make this world a better place. As the song says, “we see everything with the world and those who lead it, we just feel like we don’t have the means to rise above and beat it.”


The solution that the character in the song offers is simply waiting until some time in the future when the world is a better place and making a change seems easier. He suggests that this may happen as the older generation of leaders passes away and younger generations are able to more easily transition into places of influence and do the right thing.

The Bible suggests a less withdrawn position toward the world around us. It challenges us to remember that God can use us to make a difference while we are still young (I Timothy 4:12). Jesus told us to be the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14), and to be “the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). Jesus told us that God loves the world (John 3:16), and that he is sending us into the world on his behalf (John 17:8). He tells us not to fear the evil in the world as we go to make a difference because he has overcome the world (John 16:33).

From early on, I have always seen my ministry in churches as having two missions. One mission is to do the administration, outreach, discipleship and ministry tasks that the church has asked me to do. The other was to use whatever influence I have to foster healthy transformation of churches so that they can be more engaged with and active in the world around them. When I shared this with a denominational executive when I was in an interview in seminary, he told me that I needed to have courage to make one change in myself for every change I was asking the church to make. I took that advice to heart. And although I am not perfect, I hope that people can see that I am a person that allows the Holy Spirit to grow me, however slow that may be.

What change do you want to see in the world? Do you wish people were better mannered in public? Go out of your way to be courteous to others! Do you want to see more young people in church? Make yourself more open to working with young people! Do you want to see a loved one be more connected to God? Become more connected to God through prayer yourself.

Soakin Up the Sun

I have recently become a big fan of Sheryl Crow. Besides the fact that she is a very attractive woman, she is also a brilliant lyricist. Her music is mellow and easy to work with.

The last couple of days a couple of lines in "Soakin Up the Sun" have hit me as good words of wisdom. Here they are:

"I don't have a master suite, but I am still the king of me"

"Its not having what you want, its wanting what you got"

"Every time I feel lame--I'm looking up"

Another mission trip pic

This is from the waterpark in Gulfport. I am already missing the warm summer days! Posted by Picasa

First Snow of the Fall

This is a tree right outside my office. The loft apartments are in the background. We had snow Tuesday night, and it was one of the earliest snows on record for Colorado Springs. Today it is 50F and sunny. Go figure. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Depressing Expectations

I remember when I just got out of college and was in seminary. After the initial rush of being in a new setting with new people and new challenges, I started feeling a little down. I began to realize that one of the things that made me feel down was that my social life was not all that active. I would usually do church work most of the day Sunday, most of the time I would do something social either Friday or Saturday. That would leave me one weekend night either going to a movie alone, or sitting in my dorm room by myself. Or, once in a while watching video travel movies checked out from the public library by the international students.

I began to feel like something was wrong with me. What normal adult social life consists of a night of watching travel movies from Sweden made in 1970 with foriegn exchange students? Doesn't everyone else have all sorts of fun every Friday and every Saturday night? Whats wrong with me?

Soon, I made friends with one of my best friends named Shawn. I respected Shawn. And, I came to realize that many weeks a lot of their social life consisted in me coming over once a week with DVDs and watching them once the kids went to bed. Then I began to get to know the commuter students. And when we would go out for drinks after bible classes they would say that this was about as much of a social life as they had at the present time. I came to understand that my unrealistic expectations about my social life were getting me depressed. I was comparing my life to what I saw on television, or some urban myth instead of real life. And, I learned to enjoy staying at home and reading or sneaking out on some adventure in Kansas City by myself. I discovered I was not really that lonely, I was just taking on external standards of what my life should be like. An my adoption of those ill fitting external standards had made me depressed.

Sometimes I have also come to realize that my internal standards are a little overrealistic too. Although I can come off as a laid back, roll-with-the punches kind of friar, there is an inner perfectionist which drives lots of my self talk. My inner perfectionist has a hard time accepting things the way they are, and compares myself to an internal standard for myself that is higher than any external standard I could place on myself. I want to never fail. I want to always be more successful that the day before. And that can get me down. It is at those moments when looking at other people's internal standards can be helpful. Do most other people I know feel like they are a failure because they have not written the great american novel? Do most other people have this sense that if they have not accomplished great things in their field of passion that their life is a miserable joke? Maybe a few. But most happy people I know live in the joy of the present moment, and feel good about themselves if they make ends meet and have a few good friends.

So what does that all mean? I guess it means that if I want to be happier I need to be living less for what should be, and spending more time trying to make the best of and grow from what is. But that is easier said than done.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Suicide Ettiquette



Although I may sometimes come off like I am full of a lot of piss and vinegar, I think I tend to be a very patient and compassionate person. I am very forgiving. I am a good listener. I know this about myself. If you know me very well, you know this too.

In my years of youth and young adult ministry, I have often had to deal with situations where students want to end their lives. It is heartwrenching when I have to hear this heartache from students. It is even worse when you have to visit someone in the hospital or mental health facility after a suicide attempt. My heart goes out to folks like this. It is a confusing place to be when you look at life and feel like it will never get better, and that you have nothing to look forward to. I try to assure them of my love and acceptance, and even more of God's love and mysterious purpose for their lives.

There is, however, some people who have tried my patience when I worked with them through this process. And, one of the things that tried my patience was that this person did not have proper suicide attempt ettiquette.

So, if you chose to inform me of your desire to kill yourself, please keep the following rules of propriety about doing so in mind:

1. If you are suicidal, do not try to begin an emergency phone conversation with 5-10 minutes of small talk. Do not ask me about my day, about the weather, or about what I ate at lunch that day. I may just say that I am busy and decide that I do not have time to exchange pleasantries. This is especially true if it is your 4th or 5th suicidal call of the day.

2. Please allow your vocal effect and body language to match the emotional state you are trying to communicate. When you tell me you are suicidal, do not do so sounding like a cheerleader, following by saying "Isn't that cool?" Do not do so tilting you head and with a smile. Do not tell me you are suicidal and then ask me what I am doing, and when I share that I am watching the ball game, say you will call me back in a half of an hour and hang up. If you are suicidal, it is your job to appear either angry, morose, or depressed. Or act like a zombie. The more drama the better if you are suicidal. It lets us know you are serious, and allows us to gage our response accordingly. If you are not going to be suicidal with passion, there is no point in being suicidal at all.

3. If you are reaching out to me for help via phonecall, please inform me of your whereabouts so that I may find you and do my level best to help see you through the crisis. Don't call, tell me you are going to kill yourself, and then not disclose your location or plan to get help. You make me think you are making threats for attention, and I am less likely to want to care or listen to what you have to say.

Thanks for listening, and being suicidal with proper manners in the future.

Friday, October 13, 2006

One of my few forays into Celebrity Gossip


A few months ago, Mr San Nakji honored me with a birthday greeting from this fine looking woman all the way from his home in New Zealand. I was very honored that Mr. Nakji would be so thoughtful, and that he would be so right on about who I think is one of the most gorgeous women in all of celebritydom.





















Thus when I read about her husband as his antics, I just have to shake my head. If the accusations are true, one has to wonder if this man is on some prime meth straight from the streets of Ames, IA or just the stupidest man on earth.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Check out Jen's Blog

My friend Jen has a blog that she has started that features her poetry and photography. It is really neat.
You need to check out Continued Contemplation and give her some encouragement!

The Difference between optimism and faith

There is a huge difference in my opinion between optimism and faith.

Optimism is all about always seeing the glass half full, and always seeing the good part of every situation. The problem is, life can really suck sometimes, and it does no good to half a false optimism about how everything will be perfect in the near future when you know things will never be the same again.

Faith is about trusting God that I will be taken care of someway and somehow and that everything will work out for the best. I can have faith, even when I feel down and pessimistic about things. Things may never be the same, and may never be as good as I once had it, but I can have faith that God will be with me through the good times and the bad.

Obviously this theory needs more thought in order to be articulate about it, but that is the theory for today.

A Strange Tipping Point

A young man comes into church. He seems like a normal high school boy. He comes to youth group more out of a quest for his girlfriend’s approval than for any sort of spiritual nourishment. In the midst of family turmoil and a search for something bigger than himself, he comes to ask Christ to come into his life. His girlfriend breaks up with him, and he is devastated. Somehow, this spurs him on to grow deeper in his faith.

A middle-aged man watches his father die. He begins to become interested in a woman that is part of a cult, and the cult swindles thousands of dollars. His son begins to have discipline problems. Somehow, in the midst of his misery he decides to turn to Jesus. And the very circumstances that you might think would cause him to turn away from God and even question God’s very existence are the circumstances that drive him right into a deeper, more committed, more authentic faith.

It is so strange. Ideally, you would hope that our personal growth would most easily come out of gratitude and blessing. It would be easily to logically conclude that people grow when we are in the ideal circumstances and environment. Sometimes I wish it were so. However, for many of us the opposite is true. It is those moments of failure, of crisis, and of trial that God seems to make himself most clear to us. As the Message translates one of the beatitudes into modern idiom, “Your blessed when you are at the end of your rope, because THEN (my emphasis) there is more of God and his rule.”

Crisis is an odd catalyst, isn’t it? It can be a tipping point to personal and community transformation, or it can be a tragedy that you get stuck in and really recover from.

Why is this? I think it is because moments of crisis put us at a crossroads in our life. We can give up or press on. We can ask “Why me?” or we can ask “What do I do now, Lord?” The difficult and painful moments of life puts us in a position where we can move closer to God or away from God. In those moments of crisis, it our responses and our attitudes that determine whether our tragedies, frustration, and heartache are somehow redeemed by God’s grace and love into blessings and triumph.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The book I am reading these days



Although this is not Hybel's best book, it sure is worth the read. If for no other reason that Hybel's in more open, authentic, and conversational in this book than any other, with the possible exception of Courageous Leadership.

A good read.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Controlling the Squirrel

I have stated in a previous post that we are all part squirrel. Now I want to share with you one way I tame the squirrel.

First of all I have a confession to make. There are times when I just want to shop for shopping sake. I want to go purchase something nice for myself just as a treat. But I do not have enough money to be a high-maintenence squirrel, chasing after big shiny things. So what do I do?

To control the squirel I shop for cheap shiny things. Most often, I shop specifically for pens. Sharpie minis. Sharpie mini highlighters. Staples Xeno pens. Whatever the pen is, I like pens. And one package of pens can often soothe that need to shop for something fun and shiny for only a few bucks.

So, I always have lots of pens in my backpack.

How do you tame the squirrel-like desire to accumulate new shiny things?

A Prayer of Lament

I want
to sing
and
feel
the breathe
of
your Spirit
in my
lungs

I want
to
walk into
your
house
hungry
and know
I will
be fed

I want
a solemn
moment
that tells
me I am
doing right
and all
will be
alright.

Is that too much
to ask?

Somedays

Some days
I feel
proud
to be
me

I feel
like
a
precious
stone

Valuable
Substantive
Worthy of
being
worth something

Other days
I feel
embarrassed
to be
me

I feel
like a
contagious, ugly
terminal
affliction

Needing to
be
quarantined
on a
stony desolate
island

In between days
I hope
for
a coming
together

Of my
hopes and dreams
with my
faults
and fears

That all
will be
beautifully salvaged
with
nothing wasted

Monday, October 02, 2006

Random Thoughts

1. I saw Newt Gingrich (who I think will be a presidential candidate in 2008)on TV the other night. He shared that he thought Clinton and Bush had different ideas about what terror was and how it should be dealt with. President Clinton saw terrorism as crime, and Bush saw terrorism as warfare. I think Newt may be on to something there. Very interesting perspective.

2. I looked through Ray Kurzweil's book "Singularity is Near." A very interesting book. So far, from my read through, it seems he is combining his observations for the direction of humanity in "The Age of Spiritual Machines" with the outgrowth of technology being some sort of technologically driven eugenic reality for most of humanity. To be honest, a lot of what he says scares me. But I want to learn more.

3. I think it is possible the Monday Night Football game in New Orleans was thrown. Do you?

4. I am growing to really dislike Shania Twain. Even though some of her videos are better than watching women on trampolines on the Man Show, she is slowly but surely getting on my nerves. Carrie Underwood is a close second from country music circles.

5. I am secure enough in my masculenity to admit that I love John Mayer's new album Continuum, even though I still think most of his music is too girly for me.