Monday, August 20, 2007

What would Jesus do?

Authory Tom Taylor has written a book called Paradoxy. He writes:

"Jesus frequently hung out with the unwanted, the immobile, the irreverent and the interracial. Jesus seemed to avoid the bueaucratic, the rigid, the cold and hard hearted, the arrogant and the duplicitous. In essence, Jesus befriended those were spiritually, often physically and emotionally broken and who were more than willing to admit it and ask for help."

Brokenness. Admitting it. Asking for help.

Brokenness. Admitting it. Asking for help.

We're at our best, I believe, when we're in touch with our brokenness and willling to admit that we need the touch of Jesus to heal us.

I think I sometimes believe that I'm OK, that I don't need the Master's touch. That's when I get into trouble.

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Time for a Change

Good time last night. It's always fun to be in a relaxed setting, enjoying each other's company.

We all sense, I think, the need for ASCEND to change. In our hearts we know that what we're doing isn't having the impact we desire. Something isn't right. Maybe it's me. Maybe it's you. Maybe it's us. Maybe it's a lack of clear focus. Maybe it's a 'sit and soak' crowd. Maybe we're outside of God's will. It could be a lot of things. Change is in the air.

I think this is all good. In my reading and discussions with ministry leaders many are coming to the conclusion that our culture is going through a magnum force shift causing massive 'transitional confusion'. I buy it. What worked five years ago doesn't work anymore. Churches which looked like they had it all together are struggling. Service clubs like Rotary and Kiwanis struggle for membership. Schools wonder how to reach today's generation. The things I did in youth ministry years ago won't work today. As a result, everyone is looking for what does work in today's culture. Thus the confusion

ASCEND's model of ministry worked and worked well for a long time. I don't think we can ride the wave of the past anymore. We need to figure out prayerfully how to minister to single adults in this day and age. What does work? What doesn't? Where is God at work in our present ministry? What are we doing that seems to lack supernatural authority?

It's time for a change. What do we do? Oh, I have some ideas but I only see things from my vantage point. I want to hear from you. Check the comments section at the bottom. A window will pop up. Post your response to the question ..."What needs to change at ASCEND". Don't post anonymously. Use inclusive language ...'we' not 'you'. Be honest. Respond to the post other people make. Let's see if we can get some clarity of thought on all of this. Most importantly, Keep praying. Let's see what God does.

Monday, July 23, 2007

More on Living inSanity

Last month I wrote about the dangers of living a 'plate spinning' life. It's crazy. It's 'Living inSanity'.

The hectic pace of my life came to an abrupt end during the ASCEND mission trip to Dominica. No phone. No e-mail. No demanding time tables. I wasn't even able to drive fast because of the twisty-turvy mountain roads we tried to navigate (driving, by the way, on the other side of the road). Life slowed down. It was good. We woke early. The team ate breakfast together. We studied Scripture and prayed. Went to work. Sweated up a storm. Quit work when the heat got to be too much. Then we relaxed. It was a good, healthy rhythm.

I need to figure out a Chicago style rhythm. Back here I drive fast, read e-mail all day and night, carry a cell phone everywhere and slowly but surely feel my blood pressure start to escalate. It's the American way.

Unfortunately, a go, go, go lifestyle isn't necessarily a 'Jesus' lifestyle. For those of us who want to be like Jesus that's important to consider. Jesus took time to be alone. He cultivated a community of folks (men and women) to share life with. He considered His relationship with his Papa to be the top priority. He saw interruptions as opportunities to touch a life. He remained consistent even when life through Him curves. He never seemed in a hurry. He knew where He was headed.

So what's the take-away from Jesus for us? We do live in a fast-paced culture. That's a given. But if we want to be a little counter-cultural start doing this: Take time for solitude, build authentic community, talk to the Lord and listen for His response, plot a course and stay on it, look at all of life as holy, and when the road gets curvy always remember that Jesus is with you. Do this and your life will change.

One other thing. Get away. Go away. Next time ASCEND offers a mission trip or service project be the first one in line. Go on a retreat. Disrupt the normal rhythms of your life, slow down, breath deeply ...experience the heartbeat of the Creator. Get out of your rut. Serve someone. Put your life on the line for something important.

Want to get old quick? Wake up each day with nothing important to live for. Spin unimportant plates. Do nothing to breath life into your being. Care only about yourself. Live like God isn't real. Do this and you'll shrivel up and die.

I'm tired of watching people 'die' in front of my eyes. I want to see people live. That's what I saw happening in Dominica. Our team ...Joyce, Darlene, Coral, Joyce, Bonnie, Sharen, Kate, Nancy, Terry ...were living large. They were living their faith, stretching themselves physically and emotionally, marveling in God's creation and learning from those they came to serve. Every day you could see God at work in their lives. God was real. It doesn't get any better than that.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Plate Spinning

I've been thinking lately about the pace of life. More precisely, the pace of my life!!! Some of you remember going to a circus and watching a performer running around like crazy spinning plates. No sooner does he get one spinning when another begins to wobble. By the end of the act the performer was breathless and so was the audience.

That plate spinning is a metaphor for life. Run fast, spin the plate, correct the wobble, run faster, spin some more plates, correct the wobble, run, spin ...aaah!!!

That's not the way I want to live. This fall we're going to start a series both on Wednesday and Sunday morning called ..Living inSanity. It's a great play on words one of our staff members came up with. How do we want to live? Insanely? or In sanity?

The pace of my life is the result of my decisions for the most part. I am the author of my living insanity. I crowd my calendar, get involved with too much, don't say 'no'. The problem with this insanity is that I end up edging out the relationships and responsibilities that breathe life into my soul. That's not the way I want to live.

Stephen Covey once said, "You will never be able to say 'no' until there is a greater 'yes' burning inside of you."
I need to rediscover my 'yes'.
Yes to the Lord
Yes to my divine assignment.
Yes to my primary relationships.
Yes to my calling.
Yes to sabbath rest.
Yes to leisurely dinners.
Yes to exercise.
Yes to 'reading stuff'' just for the fun of it, not to prepare for a presentation I'm giving.
Yes to adventure.

What about you? What do you need to say 'yes' to. What will bring life into your heart and soul? If you don't say 'yes' to something noble be prepared to live a 'plate spinners' life. You'll run hard, you'll spin like crazy, you'll wobble, run some more ...and then one day all your plates come crashing down. Learn to say 'yes' to what's really important and you'll find it much easier to say 'no' to that which is unimportant.

Life isn't about plate spinning. Not at all. Sane living starts with a clear focus on what's important. My growing desire is for what author Mark Buchanan calls 'the rest of God'. I want more of the Lord. He promises to give me 'rest'. For a recovering, tired plate spinner that's incredibly good news.
How do you want to live life. Insanely? In sanity?
What do you need to say 'yes' to? Start by praying for the 'rest of God'.