Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last One

Last blog of 2009. Eventful year. A little employment adjustment, I went bionic, another wedding in the family, Anita gets a book contract, we inaugurate an African-American president, and the Cubs just miss the playoffs :).

For the most part, a good year. God used a whole lot of thing to grow and mature me. For that I’m glad. God’s not done with me yet and there are opportunities galore.

It seems that the next few years are going to continue to be interesting. The promised return to prosperity is taking awhile isn’t it? The disparity between rich and poor continues to grow. Political unrest is the reality of they day. Islam grows in both popularity and influence. Many of the moral moorings of our culture are being dismissed.

So, we stand in the gap between challenges and opportunity. What do we do?

Here’s some ideas:

Take the high road. The public debate on any issue is both heated and way too personal. Whether we’re talking about the Cubs, climate change or health care pundits are all too often taking the low road. And it’s not just pundits. We do it. We do it when we pass on that e-mail that wasn’t fact checked. We do it when we believe the next hot rumor instead of casting a skeptical eye on what doesn’t pass the sniff test. Character assassinations have become art forms. Maybe we need to start ignoring all those who major in attacking, defaming, and throwing mud. What if we asked for accountability in our own lives and asked others to remind us of the high road option whenever they notice us stooping down to a less civilized level?

Build bridges. We categorize, stereotype and buy into generalizations about situations and people. What if we boycotted stereotyping and majored for awhile in building bridges of understanding? There’s a mosque a few blocks from my home. What if I wandered over a few times this year and started to get know folks who are strangers to me? What if Republicans started to love on some Democrats? What if Sox fans bought a Cubs fan a beer? What if …?

Get involved. One of my favorite conversations this year was with someone who was wondering why we help the poor overseas when we have so many needs here? When I asked him where he put his time, talent, and money locally he admitted (after some hemming and hawing) that he didn’t give his time, talent, or dollars towards much of anything that addressed the needs in our culture. I walked away from that conversation muttering under my breath. Someway, somehow we’ve all got to find ways to invest ourselves in the crying needs of our day and age. We’re way past the day when we can only talk a good game.

Keep learning. Just yesterday I heard about a 72 yr. old widower who bought himself a Kindle. Gotta love it. He’s a reader. That’s always a good sign. The future belongs not to the learned but to those who want to keep learning. How many people do I know who have stopped reading, investigating, exploring, and questioning? Too many. There’s too many who don’t want to tap into the treasures of the past, keep current with today’s thinking, and chart a course into the future.

Stay faithful. It's been said that we play at our worship, worship our work, and work at our play. More and more I realize that I am created by a good God who wants me close. In relationship. 24/7. He doesn't want me to play around with that relationship. He wants it front and center. I'm yearning to be a better student of the scriptures, more present in prayer, and more cognizant of the movement of the Holy Spirit in the here and now.

Can’t wait for 2010. Wonder what God will do next in all out lives?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Cooped in. Feeling guilty.

The day started productively enough. Some snow shoveling. A workout at the gym. Time spent with a couple needing some coaching. Then a trip to the grocery store.

Now six hours later not much has beeen accomplished. Just laying around. Watching TV. The tail end of Goodfellas and 10,000 B.C. (not highly recommended).

It's a good day to lay around. The snow around here keeps falling. Some estimates are around ten inches. Too slick to be driving around. And so we're cooped in. Because I wasted time instead of being productive with it I'm feeling a guilty.

You see, I have a to do list as long as my arm. There's all kind of things I could be doing, maybe even should be doing. But I'm not doing any of it. I'm procrastinating. So I'm dealing with the guilt of it all.

If truth be known I'm also feeling guilty about feeling guilty. (that good old Catholic School indoctrination kicks in again). Feeling guilty about feeling guilty. Does that even make sense? I think I put the fun back in dysfunction.

Very simply, I'm programmed to want to feel and be productive. When I'm not I get the sense that I'm disappointing someone. Often that person is me. It's a stupid way to live.

So, instead of accepting the fact that it's OK to do nothing I get these little waves of anxiousness that flow over me. I'm thinking "What if something falls through the cracks?" or something like that. It's all pretty silly because things always fall through the cracks.

So I'm cooped in and feeling a little guilty about not using my time wisely. What if this was the day God intended for me to discover and implement world peace? What if I missed the opportunity?

To add to my misery Anita's is in the final throws of her book project. So, while I'm idling away my hours she's pounding away on her keyboard trying to meet deadline. Her example adds to my exasperation. And my example will probably prompt her to add another chapter. This one about 'lazy husbands'.

This is one of those days when I feel like I'm in the middle of a Seinfied episode. I'm blogging about not much of anything and there's actually people who will read it because they're wasting their time too. Misery loves company I guess.

The good news is that it's almost time to shovel and snowblow again. The snow is tapering off. Finally, usefulness. There's something about a clean driveway that builds self-worth. One can look back at the end of a day and say with some confidence 'at least I accomplished something today.'

So, I'm getting ready to jump start the snowblower. Driven by guilt I'll probably do the neighbor's walks too. They'll think I'm a good Samaritan. What they don't know won't hurt them?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ice Storm Christmas

Last evening the weather experts warned all to stay at home. Treacherous conditions. Ice slicked roads. A prelude to Armaggedon.

So, with a triumphant shrug we defied the doomsayers and drove 20 miles to Willow Creek Church and joined about 6,000 others to celebrate Christmas. Anita, John and I have made Willow Creek a holiday tradition. This year son Kevin, his wife Joanie, and my daughter Erin joined us. It made it all the nicer.

We serve, as you know, at Christ Church of Oak Brook. So, why do we go to one of the 'competitors' for Christmas? :) Easy answer. So we can worship. Sometimes it's hard for those who minister to actually worship on their home turf. Sounds funny but it's true.

So, we went to Willow and God met us there. As He will this afternoon when we 'serve' at CCOB. But sometimes you just need to go someplace where there is no responsibility and expectation. And it is there that you can listen and let yourself go and put yourself at the feet of the 'God with us'.

As we listened to the weather reports in the late afternoon yesterday we considered not going. Risking life and limb isn't always the way to go. But the pull to go was greater than the need to stay safe. That actually explains much of the life of faith. Safety and security beckons but there is a greater call to go and trust God. And so we should often find ourselves pushing away from more natural inclinations and venturing out into what might pose some risk.

We all yearn for a God who can meet us at the place of our greatest need, who can help us rise to live beyond our modest expectation, and who gives us a work to do that has meaning and requires us banding together with others. Christmas reminds us that the God we seek 'comes' and is here with us. He speaks. He acts. He calls us to Himself. Always.

It was a good day yesterday. The roads weren't nearly as hazardous as the media experts claimed. The balm for a weary soul was found in a place of wonder and worship.

In a few hours I'll assist at a Family Service at our church. People will be blessed. God will be in the house inhabiting the praises of His people. There are no ice storms in Chicago today. But there will be those who will listen to inner voices telling them that a Christmas Eve service is unnecessary and inconvenient. My prayer is that they will listen to the voice of God beckoning them to the manger to worship the King of Kings who came in the most humble, vulnerable and tiniest of packages. In the manger they will indeed find the a God of relationship who loves them. And they will be forever changed.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Seriously Disturbed

I've been reading a biography of Rick Warren call "Prophet of Purpose". It's written by Jeffrey L. Sheler. It's a good read, at least it was for me.

In the book Sheler writes about Rick's wife Kay. Kay became a 'seriously disturbed women' went God ripped off her suburan, evangelical, soccer mom blindfolds. For the first time she was able to see a whole world filled with hurting people. Her life took on renewed purpose and sense of mission.

Rick Warren, himself, had a moment when he was also wrecked by God.He was reading Psalm 72, a prayer of Solomon. Solomon, as we know, was rich and powerful beyond description. "He prays, God I want you make me more influential. I want you to bless me and give me more power. I want you to make me famous. I want you to spread the fame of my name to many nations."

And why was Solomon praying this? It was so the king (Solomon)"may support the widow and orphan, care for the poor, defend the defenseless, lift up the fallen, release the captive, help the foreigner, and the immigrant.

Warren say, God basically said to me. The purpose of influence is to speak up for those who have no influence."

Wake up calls. One to a soccer mom who was living an insular existence. Another to a pastor whom God had blessed with influence. Together, they became an even greater force for good galvanizing God's people to open their eyes and to take action.

Ever wonder if you need a wake-up call? My guess is that most of us would argue that we're pretty self-aware, pretty savvy, and fairly knowledgeable. That's where we fool ourselves. Our self-awareness is always limited, we're savvy about and knowledgeable about some things but when push comes to shove we really have to admit that we close ourselves off, we put boundaries up, and we narrow our possibilities.

Now, there's nothing wrong with focus, good boundaries, and choosing to do what's doable. I'm all for it. Wish more people would get focused and start doing God's work. But in the midst of that how willing are we to let God in, to wreck our plans, and to challenge us to be influential in ways that we can't even imagine?

I've been thinking about this lately. At church we're preaching the Advent Conspiracy. Ugh. The challenge of worshipping more fully, spending less, giving more and loving all rattles my carefully constructed cage. Why didn't we choose something a bit less edgy like give God what you can, do less, go into debt and love those who look and act like you? Hey, I know how to do all that.

Nope. Not God's way. He starts talking about getting disturbed, and praying for more influence and using whatever wealth we have so that it can be used to help others.

You know, the love of God, working itself out in our lives is a good thing. But it demands that we pray to have our blindfolds ripped off. And that probably means that we go places, to people we have religiously avoided. And it means that we might have to be used in places that don't have the appearance of safety and actually feel risky. That's because love always goes to those kind of places. It's there that we get to use our influence to speak up for those who don’t have any. And may I say allowing them to influence us.

In the meantime God places us, during this holiday season, smack dab into the mission field of family and friends. May He give us all the grace to love others in ways we never before imagined. Christmas brings out the best and the worst in people. There's lots of hurts in our immediate families, in our neighborhoods, and with co-workers. Maybe we can be used in some ways to bring a little light, sanity, and love into the lives of those we know well.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Melancholy Christmas

I find Christmas to be a difficult season. It has to do with ‘expectations’ that I’m certain are wrapped in unpleasant memories. It’s this sense that no matter what I do, no matter how jolly I try to be, no matter what kind of gift that I buy …well, it all falls short, at least according to my internal expectation meter and I sense that I’m disappointing someone.

And so, I go into a bit of a holiday funk. It’s difficult to get into the season and I’m happy when it ends. That probably makes me a ‘scrooge’ of some sort. Just being honest.

And so I struggle a bit in this holiday season, wondering if I’m up to the task of the celebration of the season. I confess that I feel a little off, maybe even a tad bit fearful and apprehensive, and unsure of myself .

I know there are others who are approach Christmas with a bit of fear, melancholy and trepidation. Maybe you're one of them. Especially this year with the economic slowdown, if you're at all human, in your private moments, you grapple with the uncertainty that fear brings. For some that fear and uncertainty is caused by an imminent job change, others might be asking God about their singleness or a fragile marriage, some are ill and more than a few are facing financial struggles.

Whatever it is I believe that the hope that Christmas brings is supposed to win out over the fear of circumstance. The angel in the field was very clear "Don't be afraid …. I bring you good news of great joy." Author Kathleen Norris tells us that the “Incarnation is where hope contends with fear.”

And in that hope is a great comfort. God is here. He's bigger than anything or anyone I face. I'm not alone. God's come. I can bring any stuff I'm dealing with to Jesus, God who is with us, in prayer. He's promised to listen, to care, to respond. He's faithful. He loves us. He speaks to our fear and He can speak to the ‘holiday funk’. And in that response we can find that peace that is far beyond human understanding.

I love this little story because it reminds us of the joy of childhood and helps us to see the beauty of the Incarnation through the eyes of a child. It’s written by John Shea and it’s called Sharon’s Christmas Prayer.

She was five, sure of the facts, and recited them with slow solemnity convinced every word was revelation .

She said: They were so poor they had only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to eat. And they went a long way from home without getting lost. The lady rode a donkey, the man walked, and the baby was inside the lady. They had to stay in a stable with an ox and an ass (hee hee) but The Three Rich Men found them because a star lited the roof. Shepherds came and you could pet the sheep but not feed them. Then the baby was borned. And do you know who He was? Her quarter eyes inflated to silver dollars. The baby was God.

And she jumped in the air whirled around, dove into the sofa and buried her head under the cushion which is the only proper response to the Good News of the Incarnation.

I don't know if you'll jump into the air and dive into a sofa but my prayer is that this Christmas you'll respond to God who came in the flesh. He stands before you always saying "I love you very much. Will you give me your life?" My prayer is that you'll say yes. And in that 'yes' you will understand the meaning of Christmas … and you will be filled with joy. That goes for me too. In the midst of the hoopla that exhausts me I look for the ‘Christ’ who will refresh my soul.

Somehow, Christmas brings together the best and the worst of our lives and begs the question – which will you serve? Will you allow hope to transcend your holiday funk? Will you allow Jesus to be Lord of you merriment? Will you allow Jesus to transcend the appeal of consumerism? Good questions all.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Blind Boys

I went to church on Saturday night. Fascinating experience.

First of all, it wasn’t a church service. It was a bar/music venue called Fitzgerald’s. It’s located in Berwyn, an inner ring suburb in Chicago.

The featured act was The Blind Boys of Alabama. The ‘Blind Boys’ have won five grammies and were featured in the movie “O Brother Where Art Thou” awhile back. They are old (70’s my guess) and truly blind. And they are gospel. Pure gospel.

So, the Blind Boys get up in this club and they rock the place. Sure, there were some real fans there but it wasn’t a very ‘churchy’ crowd. But people were dancing, and testifying, and shaking and singing along. I think what happened is that the Blind Boys stirred something, almost hidden away, in the hearts of the audience. It reminds me of something I’ve used in sermons before.

In his book, "What's So Amazing About Grace" Phillip Yancey tells this poignant story about the primacy of grace. Bill Moyers documentary film on the hymn "Amazing Grace" includes a scene filmed in Wembley Stadium in London. Various musical groups, mostly rock bands, had gathered together in celebration for the changes in South Africa, and for some reason the promoters scheduled an opera singer, Jessye Norman, as the closing act.

The film cuts back and forth between scenes of the unruly crowd in the stadium and Jessye Norman being interviewed. For 12 hours groups like Guns 'n Roses blasted the crowd through banks of speakers riling up fans already high on booze and dope.

Meanwhile, Jessye Norman sits in her dressing room discussing "Amazing Grace" with Moyers. The hymn was written by John Newton, a coarse cruel slave trader. He first called out to God in the midst of a storm that nearly threw him overboard. Even after his conversion, though, Newton continue to ply his trade. He wrote the song "How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds" while waiting in an African harbor for a shipment of slaves. Later, though, he renounced his profession, became a minister, and joined the fight against slavery. John Newton never lost sight of the depths from which he had been lifted. He never lost sight of grace. In the film, Jessye Norman tells Bill Moyers that Newton may have borrowed an old tune sung by the slaves themselves, redeeming the song, just as he had been redeemed.

Finally, the time comes for her to sing. A single circle of light follows Norman a majestic African American woman as she strolls onstage. No backup band, no musical instruments, just Jessye. The crowd stirs, restless. A voice yells for more rock and roll. Others take up the cry. The scene gets ugly.

Alone, a capella, Jessye Norman begins to sing, very slowly:

Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found-
Was blind but now I see.

A remarkable thing happens in the stadium. Several thousand fans fall silent as she sings.

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

By the time she reaches the third verse, "Tis grace has brought me safe this far, And grace will lead me home," several thousands fans are singing along, digging far back in nearly lost memories for words they heard long ago. Thousands of voices proclaim:

When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we first begun.

Jessye Norman later confessed she had no idea what power descended on Wembley Stadium that night.

Yancey said - I think I know. The world thirsts for grace, When grace descends, the world falls silent before it.

That’s what happened at Fitzgerald’s last night. Instead of silence people shouted and danced. But the spirit of God was present.

Nice night.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Next Up

I drove into and through the city today. Twenty five miles from my door to a room at Ravenswood Covenant Church. The covenant group I’ve met with for the past few years was gathering. We had a special guest Soong-Chan Rah who’s written a book called The Next Evangelicalism …Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity.

Rah’s book is an interesting and edgy read. Basically, he says that the church of the future needs to move away from the white captivity of evangelicalism. That's pretty provocative isn't it? Are we guilty of making American Christianity in our image and likeness thus edging out the work of God which is far beyond border or ethicity?

I don’t argue with his assertions. After dialoguing with him today I especially walked away knowing that he has no vendetta against the western church or group of people. He really is offering a prophetic voice to the church in our country. Prophetic voices have a way of rubbing against the grain. We usually don’t like that especially if it causes us pain and/or discomfort.

Let me confess something. I kind of like being a white male. It has carried with it certain privilege and opened doors of opportunity. I have a lot of choices. People who look like me have a lot of power, money and position. That means we’ve gotten to call the shots for a long time. Sometimes we’ve done that well. Not always though. Regardless of success or failure the end doesn’t justify the means. But basically, I can see where being male, white, reasonably well educated, and of course utterly charming has served me well. I’ve been at the front of a lot of lines and for the most part I haven’t minded. (I’m ashamed to admit that by the way. Now, I wonder who’s place I might have taken)

So from the perspective of five decades of living, I know I can’t do anything about the color of my skin but I can recognize that being in the drivers seat can oftentimes exclude and minimize the contributions of others. That bothers me both from a historical perspective and from a life application perspective in the here and now.

I’ve listened to enough stories of people who look differently from me to realize that the kind of power I inherited and yet chosen to use has not always served others well. Sometimes what I believe, how I think, and how we (collectively) think and believe has served to create a culture of faith that serves us well but not the church as a whole.

The truth of the matter is that the melting pot we thought we were is in reality a stew of various flavors, beliefs, people and ideas. And these flavors, beliefs, people, and ideas do not want to be held captive by a faith system that isn’t inclusive and representative of the way God has moved in other places among other people. Nor should they be. And I think it's well beyond making our brand of evangelical Christianity more accessible and diverse. It's more than that. It brings us back to the Scriptures, I think, where we must try to look at what God is saying without the bias of our particular culture and history. That's not easy.

That’s why Rah’s book stung me a bit. I look at our world from a very simplistic perspective some times. And if truth be told I hold a world view that doesn’t necessarily work beyond my comfortable walls of faith and influence. And, despite the lip service given to diversity, the reality is that most of us feel far more comfortable in settings where we know exactly what the next person is thinking and feeling. We like our exclusive clubs where everyone dresses and speaks just like. The problem is that this doesn’t work well when we truly understand the meaning of the notion of the body of Christ.

The world is changing around us. The world that was doesn’t exist any longer. Our country is going to become more diverse not less. Now, comes the hard work of taking a look at our structures and practices and issues. And then we (all of us) have go about the hard journey of recreating many things so that they make sense in a multi-cultural context. And the big question is whether or not we as individual are up to the task? And if we’re not will our churches be able to find a voice in a rapidly changing world?

So, I recommend this book. It will mess with your head. Do me a favor. Read it. Write to me and tell me how many times you threw it against the wall. Then, if you know someone of faith who is Black, Hispanic, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, etc. as them to read it. Then spend a few hours talking about it. Then let me know what you think.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Total Worship

I can’t remember where I read this but I came across a Franciscan Blessing recently. It reads:

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

And the blessing of God, who Creates, Redeems and Sanctifies be upon you and all you love and pray for this day, and forevermore. Amen

I used this to end a sermon called Worship Fully, part of an Advent Conspiracy series we’re doing at church. It struck me that this blessing gets to the heart of the matter of worship. As long as I’m complacent I can’t jump into worship with both feet, walking my talk and not holding back. In order for me to worship fully I need to have some discomfort and discontent in my life that forces me to go deep within my heart where Jesus is calling me to follow Him with no reservations. It’s a call to a healthy skepticism about the things of this world that drives me to respond with all I am to Jesus.

But I struggle with this. I’m a little like some of the disciples in Matthew 28 (The Message):

"Meanwhile, the eleven disciples were on their way to Galilee, headed for the mountain Jesus had set for their reunion. The moment they saw him they worshiped him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally. "

I hold back, not sure about worship sometimes, and certainly resist risking myself totally. What about you?

It's easy to understand. I come from a Christian world that battles both propriety and privacy. And the culture I live in conspires against worshipping anything but the false idols of this age. Why worship God when we can worship our kids, our music, our jobs, what we own, and where we vacation?

During Advent we’re supposed to be waiting in great anticipation for the coming of our Savior. But do we? My guess is that most of us have become half-hearted in our worship of God. Natural inclinations towards both propriety and privacy join forces with the cultural inclination to worship anything but the true God of true Gods. And when we pay only lip service to the triune God of Scripture we really do miss out on the adventure of total worship.

This is a tough season for Christ followers. The gods of Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, Walmart, Target and Apple beckon us to bow in their presence. They send as their messengers such things as vanity, ambition, keeping with the Jones’s, an unwillingness to disappoint others …all conspiring to keep us away from the Savior and his call on our lives.

Our culture says ‘it’s about you, spend more, preserve your lifestyle, be proper, keep your faith private, and rationalize your lifestyle. 'But, we’re called to a life of total worship. And when we jump into the riskiness and assurance of faith we will be given the grace to believe that we can make a difference in this world, doing what others claim cannot be done, caring about the people and things that are closest to God’s heart.

So, let's enjoy the season. Let's thumb our noses and our pocketbooks at the gods of the age. Let's peer out behind the boundaries of propriety and privacy. Let's love on those God has given us and extend our reach to those who are surrounded by injustice, poverty, and isolation.

So,think about this as part of the equation for moving towards total worship of a great God... Let's thumb our noses at the unimportant + break free of what binds us + Living with thankfulness for what we already have + investing our time, talent, and treasure in those who have far less = A very merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Random Thoughts

Tiger Woods. Pretty tough. Don’t know exactly what's going on in his life but it's not good is it? Sounds like pretty serious stuff in the Woods household. The media is having a field day. I’m sad to report that I even passed on a joke or three to others. Wish I hadn’t. It just shows how slippy slidey the sin slope really is and how much work God still has to do on my character.

Tiger lives in the public eye. It's not an easy place. Expectations are high and when you fall people aren't eager to pick you up. My prayer is that some good Godly men and women enter Tiger's life, love on him and his family, helping them to move into their true God given potential.

White House Gate Crashers. I wonder what head rolled on this one. The big concern is ‘security’ or lack of it. Duh? You gotta wonder what would compel someone to show up, though, at the White House without an engraved, embossed invitation? I would have just assumed that I wasn’t going to be able to schmooze my way in. Things that make you go hmmm.

What with this and the Tiger thing it’s an early Christmas for the gossip pros, isn’t it?

Chicago Bears. The story goes that practice was suspended because an unidentified white substance was found on the field. Upon investigation it was something called the ‘goal line’. Pundits were not surprised that the Bears were unable to identify something they’ve rarely seen.

The President and Afghanistan. I think it’s a bit risky to announce when you’re pulling out of a war and also depending on Pakistan to step to the plate. Something has got to happen to spur the people of Afghanistan to go to war against evil and do what’s necessary to sustain it. That’s a lesson we’re learning in this country. Evil is ugly. Trying to fix it demands a deep resolve. That’s not easy anymore in any culture that wants nothing more than a quick fix.

Mike and his ministry at Breakthrough. It’s been interesting. I’m discovering, especially, how little I really know about under resourced urban neighborhoods. One thing stands out. In my community (where I live) things get fixed fast. There’s lots of things that don’t get fixed fast or at all in poor neighborhoods. Lots of factors at work. Power, privilege, neighborhood leadership, neglect by elected officials, allocating resources to richer neighborhoods. Lots going on.

God’s doing a work inside of me. There’s a lot my mind doesn’t comprehend. I realized that I don’t yet have a heart connection with the people in the neighborhood or the folks in our shelter. I haven’t heard enough of their stories. I stopped on the way to my car today to talk with one of our homeless guests. It was a good move. We had a great conversation and pledged to talk more next week.

I'm glad God led me in this direction. God's going to use it to grow me up. And I think there's some things I can bring to the table that will be helpful.

Mike and his ministry at Christ Church. I love hanging with the folks in our singles ministry. A week ago we had a nice day long retreat. Good people. Amazing stories. There’s a desire to become more and more like Jesus. Several have helped me identify some of my weaknesses (but not all thankfully so I still have some credibility) and asked if they can be the Body of Christ to me by filling in the gaps with their gifts. Yahoo.

And I love being one of the architects of 2HC, our newest worship service. I love team teaching and being part of a congregation that wants more of what God wants.