Tuesday, May 30, 2006
As I listened to them, part of me really grieved for them. Not because I judge people in the whole "bump and grind" dance scene, but because they had not experienced the joy of dancing the way that I did. They didnt like dancing because it was too much pressure, too much groping, and and too unsafe to them.
You see for me, both yesterday and today (when I dance), dancing is about having a safe way to touch and talk and get to know one another. It is about just goofing off and having fun. And, I felt like my friends missed all this.
Last year I went to a couple of wedding receptions. I tipped back a few screwdrivers like the good friar tuck is known to do on such occasions, and then I took people out and started dancing with them. With one hand on their hip and one hand on their hand I would spin and dip, talk and twirl. I would take the 60something spinster aunt and point our hands out and march across the room, twirl her around and march the other way. And occasionally, on a really slow song, do more of a huggy bear dance and visit about life and love and all the joyful and important stuff. And, to country songs we tried to stumble through a two-step. This may sound corny to some of the under 30 crowd that reads this...but it was fun and joyful for all involved. It was a way to be romantic and affectionate, and maybe even make a move or two on someone you liked. And strangely enough, the good friar's dance card was full that night. Somehow, with all that is happening in our culture and our schools, we miss a lot of the joy of dancing these days I think. But maybe I am just old fashioned.
In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is kind--Erasmus
The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook--William James
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby becomes a monster. If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you--Nietzche
New opinions are always suspected and usually opposed without any other reason than they are not already common--Locke
Everything flows and nothing stays. You can't step twice into the same river.--
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
constantly slipping past
at the same
a slow moving
steadily rubbing away
at the same
a slow moving
what it is
Monday, May 22, 2006
Willow Creek and the Da Vinci Code
Telemarketers shouldn't mess with Brotha Buck
A quote on judging others
A funny little YOUTUBE video
Fun with Blogger security codes
Celebrate with the Queen of Corn
Dreams and the American Dream
San Nakji's Photo Shop Creations
A fantastic little article on Chastity pledges and teens (free registration required)
Colorado Flora and Fauna
Lorna's Canadian Adventure
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Part of this has to do with my work situation. While I have dealt with trauma and crisis is my work situation before, I have rarely had to deal with what is staring me in the face here at First Baptist of Colorado Springs. What is that you ask? FAILURE! Complete and utter failure.
For those of you not familiar with life in the church world...sadly it is a very competitive business. Especially when you work with youth. When you are a youth worker, the expectation is that you will draw youth into the church, who will in turn bring their parents, and thus your church will grow. And now...with my position as the young adult minister as well, I am expected to be a pied piper to bring them in as well. This pressure not only comes from within the local church you serve, it comes from the ministry world as a whole. If your attendance is not growing, than you simply are not doing a good enough job....and your whole livelihood and future feel tenuous.
This has not been that much of an issue at every other place that I have served. Because...while the church struggled to maintain attendance under the senior pastor, the youth groups at least doubled in my tenure in the churches I served at. I had frustrations, trials, and tribulations, but by every measure (individual students growth, leader development, numbers of kids at youth group) I was a success. And the same thing was happening here at First Baptist. The attendance was sharply increasing. The parents were amazed at how many kids were starting to attend. And then the bottom dropped out.
Not so much that our core people left, as they just chose to be less committed. One extended family had a major fight. Lost two students there...because they stopped coming with their cousins. Another family had major mental health issues. A student dropped out of high school and moved. Yet another family started up heading to the slopes to ski or going to tournaments to play soccer every weekend. Another family had extended family issues/crisis. And our little group that could had the same kids attending, but less regularly and less passionately.
Add to this that we began a second service, of which the weight falls mostly on me to lead and coordinate. And this service pushed our youth group time back, which in my opinion did not help us much at all with attendance at youth group.
Now as for the second service...I tried to put this service on the track to be led by teams of leaders who would plan and coordinate the service, and all I would do was put together the order of worship and teach. Well...the key leaders on this team (and also my youth team mind you) went to my boss and said that if the service was not started and soon that they would look at leaving the church. So...as the middle management of the church world as an associate pastor, I end up with all the pressure to push forward the service prematurely. Which means that I put a lot of work into it (like youth group) and it is poorly attended as well. Which makes me feel like....TWICE THE FAILURE that I was before.
And to be honest, I think that all of this is my fault. That attendance would be up if I was more charasmatic. If I was better looking. If I was thinner. Of course, for those long time followers of this blog, you know that part of the reason I think this way is because church leadership had a meeting with me where they said that I was too fat, dont have nice enough clothes, and generally dont fit the image they want to project...and that I had to make major changes or be out of a job. But part of the reason I feel this way is that I feel IT IS my responsibility to turn this church around. And that some how I am not because I dont measure up. Or because I am just a loser.
In my personal life I felt like I had some close friendships with people, and I think they would even today consider me their friends, but I feel like I have been abandoned and betrayed in the friendship. Both because they were a part of the team that did what I described in the previous paragraph, and because I have tried repeatedly to spend time with them only to be rebuffed. And I wonder...what is wrong with me? Not only can I not get work right, I am not good enough to be anyone's friend it seems. Why do I choose toxic people to be my friends?
And then there are my physical problems tied in with stress. There are a lot of times I can feel my blood pressure rising each time I come in the door. It takes me two hours of laying down before I can sleep because I get so upset and wound up in the political drama and that I might crumble under the weight of juggling all these different things.
Saturdays are especially difficult. Why? Because I dread Sundays. And I get nautious and I get headaches and sometimes I even visibly shake just thinking about how much I need to do and how much I really do not want to do it.
I am generally at the church from 8am-10pm. I have Sunday school to lead. Then I have to put on a different hat and help lead our traditional service. Then, I have a youth leader team meeting, and youth group, followed IMMEDIATELY by leading the second service. It is not so much the workload that bothers me. It is the innability to be present in each situation. When I am in youth group I am thinking about the EDGE service, and what I need to get organized in my mind, and whether the team is going to show up on time..(they usually dont). And when in EDGE, I am thinking about what happened in youth group...and frustrated that I cant spend the time just hanging out with the kids that are there afterward. And then when I finally get to EDGE, half the time it is so sparsely attended I want to quit. Then throw in fundraisers on the first sunday of each month, special outings, and sometimes I am trying to juggle five or six different ministry hats on Sunday...and I feel all alone in each of them. And I feel like I am working so hard to do a lot of stuff that I am not doing anything well. And you also need to throw in that I am leading a junior high and a sr. high trip, and that both my leaders on each trip quit the week that my mom went in for surgery on her neck and I went to Alaska...and you begin to see my drama.
(this is the point where you point out that ministers only work one day a week...right?)
(Little tidbit from personal experience I have learned--the amount of preparation for a group of 50 or 100 and the amount for a group of 10 to 20 is about the same.)
Anyway...it is not the busyness that bothers me. Anyone who knows me knows I like to work. The struggle is that
1. I feel like a failure
2. I feel alone in everything I do...which makes me feel like a total loser.
3. Because of the awful way I have been treated here by leadership. Having been told that I have to go on a diet for people to accept me because I did not fit their image. (Too fat, not nice enough clothes) Having been told that if I want to do the "authenticity thing" and be honest and real and transparent that nobody will support me or like me by my senior pastor, and having been manipulated by those I cared about most here, I don't feel like I can trust anyone either.
4. Because I am failing here...I am not sure I am going to be able to find another church without taking a "step back" in salary and position. So I feel like one poor decision (coming here) is going to cost me more than I ever imagined.
And all of this has led to me doubting everything I am and am called to be. To the core of my being....I am questioning everything in my life. I want to escape. And yet I feel trapped and stuck where I am right now.
I am waiting for the shoe to fall.
So keep me in your thoughts and prayers. And ask that this dark, dark time may soon fade into a glorious dawn of a new day.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Friday, May 19, 2006
She stands strong
with work to do
as the the midnight sun
sets behind her
and the arctic wind
howls in her face
She stands strong
with little women to raise
as the deep creek
mumurs to her right
and the waves clammer
to her left
She stands strong
with adventures ahead
as seabound boats
float toward her
and skyward planes
She stands strong
with a life to live
and though the earth
shook beneath her
and the sky
crashed down on her
she stands strong
It is the song Doubting Thomas by Nickel Creek, which I discovered thanks to Becca.
Here are the lyrics. I think it describes my life right now:
What will be left when I've drawn my last breath
Besides the folks I've met and the folks who've known me
Will I discover a soul-saving love
Or just the dirt above and below me
I'm a doubting Thomas
I took a promise
But I do not feel safe
Oh me of little faith
Sometimes I pray for a slap in the face
Then I beg to be spared cause I'm a coward
If there's a master of death
I bet he's holding his breath
As I show the blind and tell the deaf about his power
I'm a doubting Thomas
I can't keep my promises
Cause I don't know what's safe
Oh me of little faith
Can I be used to help others find truth
When I'm scared I'll find proof that it's a lie
Can I be led down a trail dropping bread crumbs
That prove I'm not ready to die
Please give me time to decipher the signs
Please forgive me for time that I've wasted
I'm a doubting Thomas
I'll take your promise
Though I know nothin's safe
Oh me of little faith
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
About a week ago I was hanging out in a park with some 18 yr olds, and they were talking about television newscasters, and which newscasters are hot. Specifically, there seems to be a groundswell of interest in the appearance of certain newscasters on FOX NEWS, especially Shepherd Smith.
This got me to thinking...I need to develop a top 4 list of hottest newscasters in my opinion. Now...I know that my choices are a little broad in scope of the news, but here is my top 2.
#1--Alison Stewart--Alison has been on ABC before she joined MSNBC a few years ago. She is smart, spunky and gorgeous
#2--Dana Jacobson--co-host of Cold Pizza on ESPN...tall, athletic woman with a lot of class that holds her own in talking football with all the guys in the morning.
Any others to add?
Sunday, May 14, 2006
NBA ALL-STAR SHOOTING GUARD
Friday, May 12, 2006
and goes outside. And he keeps on going
because somewhere to the east there is a church.
His children bless his name as if he were dead.
Another man stays at home untile he dies,
stays with plates and glasses.
So then it is his children who go outinto the world,
seeking the church that he forgot.
A Love Poem to God--Poem #2
Extinguish my eyes, I'll go on seeing you.
Seal my ears, I'll go on hearing you.
And without feet I can make my way to you.
without a mouth I can swear your name
Break off my arms and I will take hold of you
with my heart as with a hand
Stop my heart and my brain will start to beat
And if you consume my brain with fire
I'll feel you in every drop of my blood.
Here are a few quotes:
God's exaltation of Jesus vindicates not only him and his cause, but his way; and that way is the way by which his followers to must walk.
Over against the love of power, the ascention of Jesus sets the power of love (103)
The victory of Jesus over evil in the world is not simply a fait accompli which could be disproved by the continuance of evil to this day. It is a victor waiting to be implemented through his followers (104)
It's tyrants that want to blow the world to bits, God wants to re-create it. (60)
I am convinced that...reading the Bible in little snippets--is a second-order activity; the primary activity ought to be reading the Bible in large chunks, to get its full flavor and thrust (xi)
Thursday, May 11, 2006
The word for holiness in Scripture means set apart, it does not mean perfect. Throughout the Scripture God tells his people to"Be Holy as I am Holy". And, througout Scripture, when we violate this command, it is often because we have surrendered to a pattern of sin as a community or an individual. And, often, at this point, in the biblical witness, God's people are told to repent.
As I begin to reflect on what the call to holiness means, I don't think it is exclusive of being morally pure, or as Keith says "a person of truth". But as I think about this, especially after leading a study of Leviticus in our young adult group recently, I see it differently. I think holiness is about living as the unique God-called and God-created self and community of people that God has made you to be. Some of those uniquenesses have to do with structuring our moral lives in a way that keeps us best connected to God and to one another. That is part of claiming your specialness in God. But holiness is also about living out the purposes and passion that God has specifically called you and your community into, and is particular to your specific situation.
Holiness, as Keith intimates, is about being a reflection of God. About being image bearers of God as he is revealed in the Holy Scriptures. Each of us is called to reflect God's light. Some ways of doing that, the Bible claims, are universal to everyone. And some, Scripture also teaches, are about your specific uniqueness and call.
Dare to be special. Dare to be set apart. Dare to claim your uniqueness and live as God made you to live.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Anyway..today was a discussion on the Song of Songs in our young adult bible study. What we were trying to do was answer some people's questions about the book, and at the same time share the Biblical ethic of sexuality in a more positive way. And I thought it worked. Setting out a goal and a vision that Scripture presents in the way of romantic love and human sexuality instead of just yelling NO really loud. My teaching style is more like fascilitating a discussion, listening for and pointing to the work of the Spirit in the group, and being the expert on Scripture. And, in the middle of the whole process I came to the realization that about everyone in the room had more sexual experience than I did. (which is why many times it is more important for me to fascilitate than to dictate when I teach). Then i started thinking about my conversation with my friend the night before...and wondering if I had the gift of celebacy. Then in my mind I screamed "NOOOOOOOOOOO!"
Celebacy in my opinion, is not something bad. In fact, it can be very healthy. Nor do I believe it to be a spiritual gift as most Christians would understand that term. I do believe it, in many ways, to have been a blessing in my life. Strangely enough, I think I am better prepared for relationships, romantic or otherwise, because I have chosen to live this way at this point in my life. And, also strangely enough, the discipline has made me a uniquely honest and open person in a way that I might not have otherwise.
There are some unique writings on the matter:
The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris--there are a few chapters on how celebacy forms one's spirit.
Singles at the Crossroads by Albert Hsu--A brilliant book
The Struggle--As Marko once said--The book with everything you ever wanted to know about masterbation.
anyway..that is what was on my mind
When I say that...people either know I have been reading Dan Kimball's blog, or they look at me pretty funny.
Apologetically, it presents a fascinating challenge for the church. Because it challenges the church to think and work in a new direction on understanding and explaining their faith.
Most Christians, if they have any expertise in the field of theology called apologetics tend to have a lot of training on how to speak about Christianity as having valid truth claims. The aim was to gain inclusivity. Namely, that Christian truth be accepted alongside other truths
Now...with its emphasis on gnosticism and alternative stories, I think the Da Vinci Code leaves us with a different challenge. And that challenge is more about what makes the experiences and truths of the Christian community different from the truth claims of the Masons or any other group.
The task of commending Christianity in the past was to how to commend the faith as on par and the same of other truths. The task of people understanding and explaining the Christian faith in the future will be attempting to explain the uniqueness of its truth.
Monday, May 08, 2006
Thursday, May 04, 2006
I hurt when I feel rejected or alone
I love to laugh
I hate feeling looked down on judged
I hope everything comes together soon for this summer
I hear people say things that never come out of their mouth
I crave a kiss from a sexy woman
I cry alone (always alone)
I care about making the world a better place
I always brush my teeth before I go to bed (mom will be proud)
I long to be perfect
I feel that I feel more than I let on to others
I listen to music constantly
I hide a lot of myself that I dont want people to see
I drive to just relieve stress sometimes
I sing in the car really loud
I dance whenever I get the chance and am in the mood--but especially at weddings.
I write every day
I play on my laptop when i am bored
I miss being close to family
I search for all my options before I make decisions. To a fault
I feel trapped in my life a lot.
I know God is God and I am not
I fail more often than I succeed
I dream of writing a book that influences people for years to come
I sleep late whenever I can
I wonder if I will be in Colorado next year
I want to wake up next to a woman and have the first thing I see be her smile.
I worry I am stuck
I have the best mother in the world
I fight for everything I get
I wait for the next big thing in my life
I need to see as many of you fill out this little survey as possible
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
There are times where our non-work lives happen like this as well. We have our goals. We have our plans. We have all our ducks in a row. And then all the interruptions happen. We fall in love. Unexpected children are born. A car breaks down. We get ill. The life of ministry I live is not that much different than the rest of life. We have all sorts of interruptions and unexpected twists and turns.
And if you are like me, the interruptions at life and work can sometimes get frustrating. We want to be in control. We want to be in charge of what is happening.
We want to accomplish things. We want to feel important. We have a to-do list and a honey-do list after all.
The thing is, the important things in life (and ministry) often come in the form of an interruption. Both my sister and I came into existence while my parents were using birth control. Yet, my mother consistently tells us were the best thing that has ever happened in her life. We were an interruption. But a wonderful and important one. Which of us hasn’t been taken aback by an unbelievably beautiful sunset? Again, an interruption.
The Bible is full of interruptions. Especially in the life and ministry of Jesus. The feeding of the five thousand happened because everything did not go according to plan. Jesus arrives late to a healing of a young child because he is interrupted by a woman who wants to be healed. Instead of taking away an illness, Jesus then resuscitates a dead person. And, the parable of the Good Samaritan shows us that
the one who can move away from his or her agenda to love and serve another human being is the one who is faithful to the Scriptures and the Gospel. Even the Easter resurrection is an interruption of the grief of the women and the apostles.
So I looked at the interruptions in my plans for the week, and I chose to see them as opportunities and blessings. And I told myself over and over again, “interruptions are not just a part of the ministry, they ARE the ministry!”. And I was blessed. Because once I got past the fact that the interruption were keeping me from all my busywork, I remembered that the interruptions were what I got into ministry for in the first place. It just took more trust and faith in God to see it.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
A kid in my youth group used my computer without my permission when I was gone and uploaded $30 onto my account by accident. He told me to keep it. I was stoked! I purchased these three albums.
My fave songs on each:
Runnin' Block (I know it is not appropriate but is a fun and playful story)
Get Drunk and Be Somebody
A Little Too Late
(You should be able to listen HERE
Have You Ever Seen the Rain (CCR)
Fourth of July
Steady at the Wheel
(You should be able to listen HERE
Seashores of Old Mexico--George Strait
Fightin' For--Cross Canadian Ragweed
As you can tell I was in a country music/southern rock kinda mood
Then a long debate ensued about the level of my marriagability.
My mom tend to hold out hope by sharing about someone who is more overweight than I am that is getting married. This, however, depresses me more. Mostly this because it makes me feel like I am more hopeless than I originally thought before my mom brought up this issue. It is never good for a single person to hear their marital status referred to like a long term illness. It is also never good when someone cites second hand anecdotal evidence as your only hope in a situation. Also, I know my appearance is not the only issue I have to deal with in finding someone to share my life with. I may be a fat man...but I am definitely a good looking man of girth.
Anyway...after mom offered several other explanations on why I am single and things I can do about rectifying this to make her happy, I have come up with a short list of reasons why I think that I am single in addition to the issues of appearance:
1. I am a minister. Yes, I know all of you know ministers who are married. But most of you know ministers who were married in college or soon after. This is because evangelical christian young adults are horny little boys and girls like the rest of us, and yet often committed to abstinence. So they either get married young so that they can have sex like little bunny rabbits right away, or they have lapses of self-control without birth control and get married to raise the Jr. that is coming. Or people feel called into ministry later, when they already have a family.
But I must tell you....ministry seems to be a major turnoff to lots of women. Especially good women.
And the complex thing about me is....I am not churchy even though I am a church worker. I AM THE FRIAR. I wear Corona T-shirts under my suit on Sunday morning just to be ornery. I have a hula girl in my car, and whiskey on the top of my microwave. So, I am not the typical catch for clergy chasing single women either.
2. I am overly transparent I don't have a lot of "game". That does not mean that I am not charming. But it means that I just don't have a lot of tolerance for the cat and mouse stuff in dating. If I am wondering if something might work out between us, I will just ask you if there is something happening. If I have a crush on you, I will be really nervous about the whole issue for a while, then I will get to a point where I decide I need to make a bold move and do something like send flowers. If I am frustrated, I dont hide it well. If I am twiterpated I dont hide that well either. I am generally not the type of person to hide most of my faults. They are many and apparent to all.
Intellectually most women think all this is a good thing. Deep down they want more of the mystery and the game though.
Not to mention...if I like someone...sometimes I stutter. And stare to much. And get really uncordinated around this person. It is kinda pathetic.
3. I am not an extrovert. Most first dates are like job interviews. And while I am good at answering specific questions, and I am good at asking questions, I usually dont switch gears well. When I listen, I listen. I listen to the words. And the words behind the words. But the date comes to an end, and the woman gets freaked out a little. She has told me her life story, and I remember most of what she has had to say, yet she does not know anything about me.
4. My work habits. I dont have weekends. I work most Saturday nights and all day Sunday. I get up late and stay in the office late.
5. My financial situation Most women in their 20s want a good looking man who is sexy as all get out. Most women that I know in their 30s can still appreciate good looks, but even more than looks are looking for a financially secure man. I work for a church. Enough said.
6. I have not made a long term commitment There a lot of women who see a single man in his 30s as a man who has commitment issues. They prefer someone who is divorced or lived with someone over someone who had a 7 month dating relationship their sophomore year in college.
7. I am argumentative If you are my friend or girlfriend for any length of time, I will get in an argument with you that will make you angry and never want to talk to me again. Often, it will happen in the following manner. You will be spouting off you opinions on this and that or the other. You will assume I agree with you on everything. In fact, I am slowly getting angry at your self righteousness and arrogance. At some point I will ask you a question which makes it clear that I think you should think about things from a broader perspective. You will get angry, and feel like I am not listening to you or supporting you.
Issue that is on my mind: girlfriend is kind of angry and kind of an emotional bully. Then this situation comes up.
"Did you see that b***h cut me off right before I pulled out. G** dam**, I am going to get out of this car and snatch her scalp bald headed if she does not get out of my way"
me: silence and increased body tension that is visually apparent
woman: do you think I am a little bit crazy?
woman: Yes (in that calm before the storm sort of tone of voice)
me: I think you are giving that woman a lot of power over you and she probably didnt mean to pull out in front of you. maybe you should look at things from the other persons perspective.
woman: did I tell you I had a pool league tournament this weekend so we wont be able to get together?
8. Being picky. As my mom says about being single...it all depends on how far down in the gene pool you want to go. If you want to fish in the dregs of the human gene pool, you can probably find someone to be with you. I prefer to skim off of the cream of the crop at the top. (I am not talking about appearance when I speak about this)
9. Overly intellectual I analyze everything. I study everything.
10. Can't read signals I feel like there was this meeting of the rest of the world where they discussed how to understand if you are being flirted with, if someone likes you etc. The classes consisted on how to communicate these signals and how to read this mysterious code. I missed it all. So, there are times where I think someone is hinting that they are open to something and they are not (like calling 4 times a week or having me take relationship tests and then telling me how compatable we are or calling me "my prince charming" on several occasions and smiling at me a lot.)
There are other times where I am being flirted with and someone likes me but I dont have a clue because they feel they are communicating interest and I think they are just being friendly.
Again, I dont read signals well.
Which of these sounds the most like you...and the least like you..
do you agree or disagree with my self assesment?
Monday, May 01, 2006
sermons...are supposed to be one of the moments in regular Christian living where heaven and earth meet (140)
If ,therefore, those called to office and leadership roles in the church remain content to merely organize and manage the internal affairs of the church, they are leaving a vacuum right where there ought to be vibrant, pulsating life (139)
The Christian "rule of faith" does not in fact stifle scholarship; even if it provokes the scholar to try to articulate that rule with greater accuracy and elegance, that itself will be a worthy task (136)
The New Testament offers us glimpses of where the story is to end: not with us going to heaven" as in many hymns and prayers, but with new creation (126)
People who had never heard the phrase 'just war' have suddenly discovered the need to think about it--and about biblical impulses, perhaps even gospel imperitives, toward pacifism. (17)
It is wrong to confuse devotion to authority (in relation to Scripture) (32)
part of growing up is learning the art of giving (17)
For the heart to see rightly, the hand needs to give generously (16)
God's goods are not for sale. You cannot buy them with money or good deeds. God doesn't make deals. God gives. (26)
No life worth living is possible without generosity (20)
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