Friday, September 4, 2009

Labor Day Weekend

My summer has been rapid-fire with meetings on top of meetings. It culminated with an important decision by our church family last Sunday.

Sooooo, I'm gonna kick back this weekend. (Still bein' a pastor and preachin' on Sunday.)

What are you doing?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Held Hostage!

We have all been moved deeply by the recent story of Jaycee Dugard, who was kidnapped at age eleven and held captive for eighteen years. The years of separation from the rest of the world outside the home of her kidnapper will take added years of therapy to deal with.

Her two daughters, who, until now thought she was their big sister, have never been to school and have only known life in a hidden compound. If anything, their pain and confusion will be even more difficult to heal.

None of us are surprised at the immensity of the damage they have incurred and our hearts are broken at the painful journey they are on. Let's not lose sight, though, of a deep truth which blares at us through this story: people need each other!

We are fallen, broken, often-selfish, angry, moody human beings. And we need each other. That's because we can also be kind, considerate, serving, and friendly. We can offer a listening ear or a cryable shoulder. We can learn how to navigate the storms and sail the beautiful seas of life by spending time with others. Therefore, we know...we KNOW that life without such contact and interaction is unhealthy. So we recoil when we hear about people who have been removed from it.

But what if the person is held hostage by their own choice to live inwardly and shut out the world? What if, for reasons of insecurity, lack of trust or simply a bad attitude someone locks their soul into their own little private, secretive compound? We can no longer blame some dastardly culprit. But can we deny that the damage is just as real?

That's why "Messies" need others. And that's why the Church needs people who are willing, even hoping to hang out with messed-up people. It's because sometimes a broken, inward person gets low enough to look for a way out. And the pain is great enough that the woman or man is willing to take a huge risk and poke their head out of the shell.

That can be where miracles begin.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Celebrate! Celebrate!

My bride is celebrating her birthday today. Yayyyy. She's 35!

Well, actually she's not 35, but she IS young. How young?

Young enough to be best friend to three very special little ones. Happy birthday, Grammy! We love you!
"My Grammy is the best because she helps me bake cookies!"
Chickie, Age 3

"My Grammy is the best because she plays with me and gives me hugs!"
Molly, Age 2

"My Grammy is the best because she makes me laugh!"
Zoodle, Age 1

p.s. My birthday girl asked me for clarification about The Messies yesterday. I'll include it tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Messies

A lot of us avoid the Messies. The Messies are those people. You know, the ones whose lives are so...

...well, so messed up!

Take the guy who stopped in to my office recently. He has messed everything up. Let me tell you, his mess is a doozy! He's so messed up that he wants to change!

He has found out that it will be impossible to clean up his mess by himself. Now, that's a problem! Who would ever want to help him?

Mmmmmm, how about a Small Group? A group filled with other Messies? Yeah, they will know what to do! They are all getting "cleaner" -- helping each other with one mess at a time.

I'm sure glad they all took Step Two: Grow Together Relationally!

p.s. Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday, Beth and Becki,
Happy birthday to you!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Who do you love?

Yesterday, I talked about how easy it is to lose our way, even when what we're looking for is Now, I admit that I'm a male. You female readers know that we guys have a genetic disorder called "never-ask-for-directions-find-your-own-way." That's why God created something called a GPS (or, at least, surely inspired the creator). It's so we men can have someone tell us the direction we should go without us having to ask for it. (Wives have done that for centuries, but we won't talk about that.)

Anyway, in our church, we developed a down-to-earth, three-stop process. We encourage people to take step one. Then two. Then...well, you get it!

Step one is Love Jesus Passionately. I often give men a hard time for loving, say, football passionately. Or it could be NASCAR. Or monster trucks or ice hockey. Guys go to games and make fools of themselves, but come to church and sit stoically. "I'm not expressive," they say with a voice hoarse from last night's big contest.

Expression during worship is just one of the ways we need to love Jesus passionately. And the truth is, I have a lot of room for growth on this one. Take the following musings...

Is it my passionate love for Jesus that causes me to freak out that something isn't "just right" on my car before I leave on a trip? I don't mean something like a speck of dust on the dashboard. But certainly not anything mechanically dangerous, either.

Or, take this one. Why is it that I freak out when the internet goes down for a few hours. I mean, I feel so disconnected from my cyberworld! But I can disconnect from Jesus for days and barely notice it.

That's when, "Who do you love?" shows up to haunt me.

So. Who do YOU love?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Turn Left, Then Turn Right, Then...

A few years ago, Cathy and I decided to sign up for a fitness class at the local community college. Arizona Western College is about a half mile from our house and we discovered we could sign up for the class, then get to use their fitness center for the semester. We audited the class -- it was fitness we were after -- and the cost was much less than a commercial health club.

We noted when registration was open and drove over to the campus to sign up. We had our identification and residency information ready as we hopped out of our car. Then we walked toward the administration buildings.

Problem. We couldn't tell from the signs which building to enter. It seemed like we walked around to two or three different buildings or entrances before we finally figured out where we were supposed to be.

Once signed up, we were directed to the business office to pay for the classes. Again, we had to search to finally arrive at the right place.

I should say here that neither Cathy nor I are blind. At least one of us (ahem) has a pretty good sense of which direction is North. And we both know how to read maps. After finding our way that first time, we had a pretty good idea of what was where.

On the other hand, had we been less motivated, we might have just got back in the car and drove home.

Once you have been to a place, you can pretty well figure out how to get back. (Unless, I discovered, it's in Boston -- but that's a whole 'nuther story.)

We had to face a question in our church a couple of years back. What if we looked as challenging to new attenders as AWC was to Cathy and me? Not that our campus is that big or confusing. But we frequently have attenders who are trying to figure out what their next spiritual steps are. What if they attend Stone Ridge and leave as directionless as they arrive?

Those questions drove us to simplify what we do to three, easy-to-remember steps. Love. Grow. Serve.

I'll tell you more tomorrow.