29 April 2005

Simon and Natasha's wedding is nigh...

Simon and Natasha with their friend, Kate (in the middle)

Christel and I, along with the rest of the fam, are getting ready for my son's and his bride to be's wedding. A lot of feelings are careening through my mind and soul as we approach the celebration and sacred ceremony. We are very excited for the two of them and anticipate it to be a blessed time.

24 April 2005

The inside...

I don't want to give anyone the impression that I am down on the youth. They are just like everyone else was at this age. I am, however, talking about this time and the church americana. We demand outer obedience and we judge based more on behavior than heart. Outside vs inside.

It is understandable. We think the inside disqualifies us. The inside is messy like a garage and we keep that garage door shut. The inside has thoughts of fear, revenge, lust, envy, anger... No one else has the thoughts, dreams, images, deeds that we have in our heads and hearts. So we protect and put up the facade.

We keep God out, so there is no redemption. We keep others out so there is no fellowship and understanding. The church has not provide a place for the heart and soul, just the behavior. In only judging the behavior we never deal with the wounds that perpetuate the behaviors. We preach behavior, seldom true identity. We point fingers of judgement, rarely hands of help. It starts with the robes. Teach the Redeemer for a while, instead of the Judge. Are we people of redemption then we must allow the Spirit to speak to the pain and bring the light of Jesus in.

To bring Light into the dark place allows God to heal, mend, forgive, and rename us. In this time and space we need to allow all of us to be open to His love, power, heart, mind and strength, so that we can be a people set free indeed.

23 April 2005

"Something happening here, what it is ain't exactly clear..."

I have a large group of friends who are all in ministry. They work at retail stores, inns, foundations, hospitals, camps, churches, urban and neighborhood centers, Christian schools and universities, lecture tours, some foreign, some in the USA, etc... They give their lives daily to that which they know that God has called them. They wake up each day and get ready to teach, clean, cook, counsel, decide, host, care, preach, provide, correct, sell, consult, coordinate, learn, feed, account, sing, design, build, talk, dream... Some work with their families and spouses, some see them at the end of a day, some don't see them for days or weeks at a time. There are people who get to work with their hands, minds, talents, and gifts, They don't get paid much, some get paid better than people living in the secular market. Some have their homes provided and some have huge mortgages. Some have great bosses who inspire, some wonder how the guy got in his position. Some deal directly with people and others no one knows their names outside of the office. At the end of the day they all talk to God and close their eyes and sleep.

Many of these people are in the midst of great turmoil; relationships, issues with money, expectations, leadership, confusion, trust, vision, faith, hope... It is not easy. There is an uneasiness, things aren't stable, less certainty, more ambiguity. That which once sustained is now worn out and dry. It is not confusion, yet that which seemed true once now brings doubt. Deep integrity missing. Change.

There is something in the air, like a new wind before a storm. One can sense it but not feel or see it. We are reaching for something that is farther than our grasp. Names don't come mind and vision is foggy.

The church has blended with the culture. Paris Hilton speaks of God. The pope is elected with media coverage and commentary. Icons are tattooed on pastor's arm. California is 50% hispanic and English is the only language most mainline churches speak. Good neighborhoods have iron gates at the entrance. Movie stars are governors and presidential candidate have botox injections. Rappers sing of destructive sex, win awards, and thank Jesus, their lord and savior, from whom all blessings flow. Churches don't say anything about the genocide of tribes but complain when the 10 commandments are not allowed to be in a courtroom hallway. Child care is a greater topic at elder meetings than child abuse and neglect.

My dear friend is in great pain and doesn't know what is going on in her body because the tests are inconclusive. More test, less results. Her laugh is missing from the office and she hasn't painted in quite a while.

I have a deep sadness but a deeper joy. I don't want my faith defined by a bumpersticker or a t-shirt. Peace cannot be provided by Homeland Security. This Jesus has got to be real and my life needs to start reflecting that which I believe to be true. The reality of the Kingdom has got to sustain my life in an environment which is not conducive to the spiritual world, even in a christian ministry or industry. I need to open my eyes to the reality of that which has been propagated over the last few decades did not produce a generation of strength. This generation more identifies with Paris Hilton than Mother Teresa. Things will never seem right as long as we are more concern with the outside than the heart, the songs sung than the message, the candles than the Light.


18 April 2005

Hearing the Spirit...

Last Sunday night, before the Time & Space meeting began, the leadership was praying and I heard very clearly, "everyone should be praying in preparation for worship tonight, not just the leadership." So I finished praying with the team and gathered everyone in the foyer to ask God to prepare our hearts for worship. We prayed and it began something. Then we walked into the sanctuary together to worship. It was sweet.

15 April 2005

The chef who plays the piano...

I needed to think a bit before heading up to camp and ended up at The Grind. While I am getting ready to think, (get a cup of coffee, plug in my 12" Powerbook G4 (Thanks Jordo), close my eyes, breath deep, sip) in comes a disheveled guy with a cup and sits close by. I don't pay too much attention because I am here to think. Then he starts playing the piano. Yes the Grind has a piano open to the public. I get a little upset, "I can't think with this guy playing the piano!" He keeps on playing and starts playing some cool stuff. I quit thinking and began listening. He plays for about 15 minutes. Then he stops. I thank him. He looks familiar. I introduce myself and he introduces himself. He is a chef at the Tenaya who plays the piano. He told me his kid went to Sugar Pine Camp. We talk a few minutes then he says he needs to head to work.

He was a dad, a son, a husband, a chef, a pianist... There is more to him than meets the eye or the ear (This is why I use the ellipsis)

I wish I could see people who have a lot more sides to them than just the image I see them in at the moment. Their behavior is not who they are. Their job does not define them. They are more than the sum of their parts.

One of the men, who works at Calvin Crest, told me about his family, who is in the midst of trial. I saw his heart, some of his past, and I got a new respect for his present. I saw more to him than just his behavior. I like him more now.

09 April 2005

Changes are a pain...

We avoid change because we don't want to go through the pain. We love to bitch but it is hard to confront. We want to keep from hurting people's feelings yet we are not growing their souls. I know it is hard but we need to be about doing the things of God that chaff us and others. We don't need to be harsh or judgemental, just faithful and loving. Jesus did not come to change but to fullfill. We need to see if what we are doing is fullfilling the Kingdom.

Just a Saturday thought...

08 April 2005

Time & Space

Space and Time
Originally uploaded by progdir.
I want to call our time together on Sunday nights, Time & Space, because this is what is given to us by God, the session and the people who would attend. There is an accountability for that in our lives. What did we do with the time and space we were given. But it is not the name that gives us identification but what we do with the time and space.

The revolution...

“…the revolution should not be an imitation. It should be original and indigenous." Motorcycle Diaries

04 April 2005

"How hard can it be?..."

Last night at Sierra Vista, we launched the new work. It felt like child birth. (I am sure every mother is laughing at me and calling me a wuss!!! Alright I have no idea what that felt like but this was tough.) A lot of conversation prior, articulation of dreams, fear of misunderstanding, fear of people saying, "...and you think you are going to lead this? I am out of here!", not knowing what will happen.

We had a time of worship. Rich told his story (more on that later), Pastor Rick spoke of the elders' heart to give time and space for us to pursue this which we feel God is leading us, I spoke of the responsibility we have to be good stewards of that which has been given and that it will come out of the people in attendance to make this a community of faith. We believe God is raising some people up to take leadership and share gifts of administration, worship in the arts and hospitality, and any other way God is calling them to be a part of this time and space to worship Him and love each other.

Everyone was listening, some knodding their heads in agreement and support, some praying, one waiting for the service to begin. It was pretty still. I finished told them, next week Potluck. Still it was still. Then some questions what time, 6p. More stillness. Then it was time to release us. Then a new voice sounds out, "How hard can it be?" He said he was new to the fellowship and he felt immediately that we was welcomed and excited...

Thanks, Jimmy for a great question...

01 April 2005

The conversation...

I am sorry that the previous post, "Creating a safe place to meet God..." was so brief. But the gist of the conversation was about expressing and understanding the needs of people, regardless of age, who are no longer interested in attending church. Rich, the entrepreneur - more than a businessman, expressed the place that his friends are at. He articulated clearly the mistrust for the institution by these people. The elder, Terrie, who is not the institution but represent it by her position, listened and totally agreed and understood. She is a person who naturally loves people and provides organic ministry through her home and life. She gets it.

The problem is defining the service. What will it look like. It was us trusting each other and looking at each other and asking clarifying questions and listening, etc that we were able to come to some good places of risk.

Part of the problem is that we really don't know what is going on and we are too quick, I believe, to try to define and program the "service" or whatever. What if we provide the space and time to get together, someone lead some singing with an eye on the Spirit and the other on the participant, someone bring a word from the Book, someone share their story, someones pray, participate in the Body and the Blood, clean up the sancturary better than we found it, and look forward to next time we meet. If someone is sick, we pray for them. If someone has a need we try to pool our resources and meet it. If someone has a baby we smell it and kiss it and celebrate, if someone gets married we stand with them, if someone has a question we give room to the Spirit to bring understanding...

There was no formula other than to love each other and trust each other. I learned a lot...

The Garage Church…

When I was in college my friend, Satterfield and I had a garage band, actually it was a bedroom band. He had all the equipment, all the talent, I had the friendship. One afternoon he invited me over and when I got there I walked into his bedroom where he had on his headphones and . So he plugged in another set of headphones for me and he played some more. Masterful. Then he plugged in a microphone, gave it to me and we played some old Beatle tunes. I sang. He had on enough reverb to make me sound good, and I sounded goooood. I loved that afternoon. We played music and we sounded good. No audience. Just us and the music. Then later on we got a gig at a little event and played some of the music we played in his bedroom, this time with an audience. It wasn’t the same. At that point it was about the audience instead of the music.

I have played in a couple of bands in my life and led a bit of worship and I know that when it is about the audience, I suck. But when it is about Him it is good. Playing to attract the right demographics never satisfies, they are too fickle. Today you are the happening, tomorrow passé.

I am looking at this new time and space at our church and think about what it can be. I read a lot and talk to a lot of people about it. I know that if we make it about performing we will suck. But if it is about a time and space to worship Him, it won’t matter if it is in a sanctuary or a bedroom, it will please Him and satisfy our soul and spirit. I don't know if anyone will come, but if it is a few of us who gather to worship Him, listen to Him, wait on Him, love each other, learn to trust each other and enjoy our time together, I will enjoy it again...