Monthly Archives: November 2007

Thanksgiving Break

Thanksgiving vacation in Monterey has been great. Although this town is like Durango in the transient nature of its young inhabitants, I’ve been pleasantly surprised in how many people from the old days I’ve run into while here. A couple brief conversations with my closest friend Chris, and a longer hangout on the schedule for tomorrow. Great times with my brother-in-law Pat, wondering what it would be like to be Indiana Jones and halfheartedly plotting to drop off “the grid”. A pipe-smoking session with Uncle George, learning about his seminary days and hearing his stories of traveling to Brazil and moving around among parishes.

Went to church a couple times today. First, we caught a service at Shoreline, where I used to work. It’s definitely changed. They’ve built an impressive facility in an old warehouse. I’m really excited for Pastor Howie getting to see his dreams come to fruition. He started from scratch over a decade ago, and now the church has a thriving body of believers. What I admire most about Shoreline is its dedicated core of volunteers that keep at least some portion of virtually every component of the church running smoothly. They’ve got to be sold on the vision Howie’s casted. Major kudos there. Like I said before though, a lot has changed since I was there, as things do. The new facility, while impressive, didn’t quite resonate with me. The sanctuary is very spacious, and has who-knows-how-many thousands of dollars of technology, but it didn’t feel like a church. There were no Christian symbols anywhere. Really, this isn’t a rant… I’m a firm believer that you can’t make everyone happy. I just need my worship space to have some worship aids that push me towards an encounter with God. Anyway, the service was so-so for me, but I’m sure it’s great for the people it reaches. No faith community has a monopoly on how to reach and serve everyone.

This evening Anina and I went to a new house-church, Stone Harbor. It was planted by a respected colleague named Johnny Potter, and another humble Christ-follower named Tom Green. Johnny has this amazing quiet wisdom that makes him such a natural shepherd. Without any discussion, Anina and I both knew he was the one we each wanted to perform our weding (and he did). Johnny pastored at Shoreline almost from day one, but has felt called to start Stone Harbor very recently. The gathering is about 60 people that meet in the Potter home. Really cozy in there, hahaha. It was so organic and no-frills. Quite a contrast to how I felt while I experienced a Shoreline service. Fairly typical layout, with worship songs up front, followed by a brief and easy-to-take-notes-on message, then closed of with a time of singing and praying. After things ended, I was so amazed to see clusters of people spontaneously forming and praying for each other. The norm was for people to socialize for a few minutes, almost inevitably followed by a short but sincere couple minutes of praying for each other. But it was so low-pressure. Like, you know how sometimes people can be praying, and you feel odd if you’re not doing it too? Yeah, not like that at all. It was just what these believers wanted to do with each other. No pressure. Wow.

Originally this post was titled, “The Way It Should Be”. But I realized that I couldn’t use that if I really believe that nobody has the market cornered on ecclesiology. But I’ll tell you what… if I lived in Monterey, I would make my home at Stone Harbor. It was so refreshing.

A couple more days of vacation, and then back to work. More details to come…

Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Lectionary Year C

Time is just like money- it’s so annoying to be standing at the end of the week or month and be forced to say, “Now, where did it all go?” Let me use my work as an example. One practice I’ve picked up recently is taking a pro-active approach with my scheduling. It’s amazing the difference I notice in how I feel about my workload when I take steps to curb distraction. Time is just like money– think about what any financial adviser will tell you about budgeting. Mapping out where it will go at the beginning of the month is the best thing. I’m discovering this principle translates very well into my time. But we are human, and we’re going down this line of thought because, left to ourselves, distraction usually creeps in.

I’m sure you can relate to this experience somehow. Distraction. Even you Type A personalities out there. I mean, do you really always manage to filter out distraction? Raise your hand if so… Ok, no one? Because I was going to offer to let you preach instead of me. We all find ourselves asking where it all went, don’t we?

Time at work… I’ve already covered that one. Time on the weekend… what about that? Who has projects around the house that sneak under the radar Saturday after Saturday because Engineer Mountain’s wildflowers are in bloom right now, or the Denver Broncos are playing right now, or because that storm just dumped up fresh snow on Purgatory this morning, or because Russell needs your help in the youth ministry right now? Yes, we know how to play in this town, and it’s a huge battle for time.

I mentioned money earlier. Maybe your day-planner is tighter than a tourniquet, but your budget has a couple holes. Anina and I are pretty good with this, but we do have a month now and then where we look back and say “We spent THAT MUCH on the pets?!?” And I was utterly horrible at this concept when I first started managing my own money. How many of you students sometimes feel this way with your allowances?

Or here’s one: energy. Spending all your relational energy at work, and when you get home, it’s your spouse or your kids asking “You had a bad day, didn’t you?” When in fact, this may not really be the case, but instead you simply didn’t have anything left to give them when you got home.

Or who’s familiar with this scenario? A loved one passes away. In that quiet, solitary moment after you first find out, or while standing around talking with others at the wake, you ask yourself “Why didn’t I call them more often?” I didn’t deal with the passing of my mother’s mom very much at all, and this is one question that I really prefer not to confront.

All of these situations, and many others, have roots in our living of distracted lives.

I have good news for you: God knows.

And he used a stout and cantankerous but obedient man named Paul to give us some direction. Let’s pray, and then dig into today’s text. Continue reading

Repentance

To paraphrase Rob Bell:

Repentance is the celebration of what God has already done, and then living differently because of it.

-from Bell’s The Gods Aren’t Angry Tour

So much to digest! More to come soon…

It was good. I didn’t catch as many profound nuggets as when reading Velvet Elvis or watching selected NOOMAs, but Rob’s presentation was definitely engaging and worth the trip!

Under Attack

Probably one of the cloudiest areas of my personal theology is “spirit” stuff. Spiritual warfare, Satan’s role on earth, God’s Spirit among us, etc. Money is well-discussed in the Bible, as well as leadership, and a whole range of other things that I feel pretty solid about, theologically speaking. I’m not ready to give my final answer when it comes to most of these spirit topics, but Jon Birch has hit really hit the nail on the head with how I’m feeling at the moment: (Sorry, my blog theme’s narrow post column necessitates the thumbnail… click to enlarge…)

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In addition to his general blog, Jon maintains a cartoon blog full of sharp, dry humor. That’s where this cartoon came from. ASBO Jesus = Brit speak for ‘Anti Social Behavior Order’. Jon reminds me of Shane Claiborne: he clearly believes in a Jesus that doesn’t come along and just make everything peachy, but instead in a savior that messes your life up after you meet him! (I wish I was strong enough to follow this Jesus!) Nothing is safe or exempt from ASBO’s witty criticism, and Birch knows just how to poke at things… add ASBO to your RSS!

Nameless Wisdom

Tony Myles is perhaps one of the guys whose blog I’ve been reading consistently since I jumped into the blogosphere. I think I came across his name in a youth ministry context, but now I really appreciate his wide range of pastoral insight.

He’s got a great post how anonymity might factor into the lives of Christians. If we don’t insist on getting credit for all the good works that Saint James spurs us to, we “taste true freedom, for when we practice positive secrecy we become less enslaved by a culture that hands out trophies for everything.”

I’m making no comment on how –or whether or not– I applied his advice, but you oughtta consider it for yourself and maybe come up with something new…

Ahi

┬áThere’s a lady that sets up shop next to Anina’s drive-thru every Friday. She sells super-fresh fish… way better than anything you can get at City Market or Alberstons. Last Friday I biked over to see Nina for my lunch break, and she reminded me that I should go check out the fish shack. I got a half-pound sushi-grade yellowfin (ahi) tuna steak for $7. Nina kinda gave me the “how much?” look but hey, I’ll just have this be a once-in-a-while indulgence. Anything good enough to eat raw probably costs a little more than normal…

Anticipating a nice easy Saturday grilled lunch, that morning I coated the tuna with some sesame oil, garlic, black pepper, and brown sugar, and put it in the fridge to come back out in a few hours. Well, Saturday was busy. We weren’t home at all.

This morning during the worship service my stomach was audibly complaining; I hope I didn’t disturb the folks in the surrounding pews. You can guess what was going through my mind at that point…

As soon as I got off work, I started the charcoal briquets and began the final phases of the anticipation process.

Then I just seared the steak for about 3 minutes on each side, pulled it off the grill, and was happily savoring the ahi within a minute’s time. Mmm, sooo good!

So if you’re ever in the north end of Durango on a Friday, look for the little fish shack by Joe’s and the Post Office, and stop in and pick something up! You won’t be disappointed…

(thumbnail below… click to enlarge)

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