Category Archives: Family/Friends

March

Made a habit to start using my lunch breaks effectively. Five days a week, I’m making about half an hour of progress through Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. It’s fascinating. To say I think it will change the way I eat is an understatement.

I’m also coming close to finally finishing Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy. His comments on what it means to be a student –a disciple– of Jesus strike a challenging balance between “wow that’s really profound” and “why aren’t I already doing that?”.

Behind on the podcasts, because my earbuds are out of comission. Totally gimpy reason– just missing the little foam cover on one bud. But it won’t stay in while riding my bike without it. And that 30 mins a day to and from work is prime podcast time. So what I’m saying is you still have plenty of time to recommend a new podcast for me to try to work into my rotation. Daily is great, but I’m open to weekly. Writer’s Almanac is daily, and I could supplement it with a weekly for Monday, a different one for Tuesday, another updated on Wednesdays, etc.

Family in town a lot recently. That’s been great. Lots of time spent out at Red Rocks. Pictures here. Dad’s coming at the end of March!

Considering a joint blog-through of a book sometime on the horizon…

Time to get going again

Not a single post in June. Oops.

The rumor is true: I did resign from my youth ministry position in Durango. No burnt bridges… I still have a very supportive group of friends back in Colorado. There’s a lot to discuss about what precipitated that change, and it will surely come up in a future post. Actually, I think that’s part of the reason I’ve put off writing here for a while. Felt like I was in the middle of something so huge that I couldn’t blog and not write about all the resignation/moving to Vegas stuff.

Rumor #2: Indeed, I am living in Las Vegas. Close to both sets of Nina’s parents, and a much cheaper plane flight out of McCarran to go see my parents. (Durango was upwards of $400/person for roundtrip almost anywhere.) Also, Nina’s best friend from high school lives here, so it’s good to have a little bit of a preexisting support network. The focus for us being in Las Vegas is to get plenty of quality time together, enabling us to build the kind of foundation our marriage needs for being able to get back working in a church full-time.

Speaking of work, we’re searching. Part of the reason for choosing Vegas to relocate to is its relatively un-recessing economy. There are still plenty of jobs that need to be snapped up here. I’m on the waiting list for my background check to clear with Clark County Parks and Recreation, for a temporary summer position. It would just be something to bring in a little extra money over the summer, but the cool part about it is that it would get my foot in the door for one of the two new full-time positions they just got funding for.  My backup plan, by virtue of timing and desire, is an electrician apprenticeship. The construction trades in Las Vegas aren’t slowing down at all. I probably passed the aptitude test that I took a while back, and as soon as I confirm that I passed, I’ll be able to schedule an appointment for an interview to get into the program. However, I have good reason to believe that this appointment won’t be any sooner than September or October. And I will need to be working somewhere before that…

Over the past couple years, my work provided a lot of theological springboards and whatnot for blog fodder. Now, I’m a still hoping to read and write a lot, but it’ll be totally on my own time. No worries though, I should have a lot more time for myself with this new work/home-balance arrangement.

A board game is calling me. And I must answer.

More later.

“Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.” -GK

Spirit of Blogging

I haven’t written much in a while, and the reasons for this lack of activity are actually some pretty important stories. But I haven’t felt like writing them down. I’ve been pushed a lot recently, which has been great, but tough. And not always entirely appropriate for public consumption (yet).

So, combine this with my noticing of many people returning to what blogging started out as… which correct me if I’m wrong, was more about being a conduit, predominantly about linking to other people and interesting information.  I especially appreciate it when people amicably link to people they may not agree with, not to blast them but to include their voice in the conversation…. and anyway, I’ve decided make my first post in a long time one where I point to some other good stuff for you to read:

Other people you should read in lieu of my consistent blogging:

Enjoy!

mission of God

Last week, in our class discussion, we explored how the recovery of missio Dei (the mission of God) might be tied to church renewal. One of the key articles for this discussion was titled “Recasting Theology of Mission: Impulses from the Non-Western World,” by Wilbert Shenk. If you can find the article, I encourage you to read it. I’m not sure about the copyright implications of posting it here though, so you’re on your own, unfortunately.

Shenk’s first mention of missio Dei is an assertion about its central role as the foundation for the theological concerns of the New Testament church. As I read this sentence, I could not shake from my mind the Acts 6 story of the apostles delegating food-distribution duties to other believers “full of the Spirit and wisdom.” On the face of it, this story could be improperly read as an example of the apostles’ humanity, an unfortunate record of an arrogant refusal to “get their hands dirty.” But what if the apostles teach us to each fully embrace our unique gifts in the service of the message of Jesus Christ? Contrary to the easy misinterpretation, this story is about nothing less than rolling up one’s sleeves and engaging the world in Christ’s name. For the apostles, spending even an hour doing something other than preaching and teaching was a disservice to the movement. Likewise, they expected the differently gifted believers to step forward and serve the common cause by organizing food distribution. The western response to this situation might have been, “Well, go find some more believers to sell some land and we’ll hire someone to make it happen. And let’s not repeat the Ananias incident this time…” Preposterous! The apostles refused to simply “write a check” to solve a problem.

It is when we as individual Christians reclaim our own potential to contribute to the mission of God in a hands-on way that we will see renewal in the western church.

To ponder…

  • Is missio Dei a piece of flawed terminology? In other words, does it employ an elitist linguistic device (namely Latin) to describe a term focused on egalitarian involvement in invoking the Kingdom of God?
  • Does the western church excessively write checks to solve problems? Or does it have its sleeves sufficiently rolled up?
  • How does the apostles’ delegation story strike you at first glance? At second glance? After detailed exploration?

P.S. – I’m beginning to understand why my seminarian friend Shedden blogs so much when his classes are in session.

1-2-3 Meme

I have been tagged for the 1-2-3 Meme by good friend Matt Shedden. The game is to grab the book nearest to you and turn to page 123. Find the 5th sentence and share the next 3 sentences with everyone. Then you tag five people.

My book is Family Based Youth ministry by Rev. Mark DeVries. On page 123, the 5th sentence is:

In an extensive study of the effects of divorce on children, one fact stands out as a stark indictment to churches. Less than 10 percent of those children of divorce who were interviewed “had any adult speak to them sympathetically as the divorce unfolded.”

A convicting passage for me, no doubt. I have students from divorced homes, and I’m guilty of the indictment. Ouch.

Reflections for Christmas Eve

Philippians 2:5-8
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though hewas in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave,being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, hehumbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.

My beautiful bride Anina and I are visiting my parents in Texas forthe holidays. We just got home from a nice happy Christmas Eveservice. Some carols, lots of candlelight, everyone standing at dramatic moments… you know, the usual. Now don’t get me wrong. It’s great that we celebrate Christ’s choice to come live as we do. It’s totally something only God could do… to choose to take a step down the “social ladder” of the universe. Not up. Down. How often do I choose to do that? So, have you ever heard that phrase, “Imitation is the highest form of flattery…”? It means if you really think something is cool, you copy it.

I guess what I wonder is, if this is the season where I really celebrate how cool Jesus is, what am I doing to copy Him? If I was going to take this Philippians passage and sum up what Jesus did, in one word, I’d say “give.” Jesus Christ gave. Thankfully, this season brings the perfect opportunity to give. (Semi-relevant confession: Anina and I opened our presents early.)

So it’s getting late into the evening on Christmas Eve, and you’ve probably gone out and finished all your shopping for gifts to give to family and friends.But take a moment tomorrow morning, and think about giving a little bit more. Is there a soup kitchen in your community? Is there a food bank? Is there a clothing donation center? Is there a womens’ shelter? Get creative and think of one more way to give before you go back to school or normal routines.

Because Jesus Christ gave to everyone…

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…

Catalyst 2007

Tomorrow morning, Anina and I will be flying over to Atlanta for the Catalyst Conference. I’m pretty excited to go, for a lot of reasons. (Here’s a preview video…)

  • I can’t wait to see what Guinness World Record we’ll break this year… I wouldn’t be surprised if this is one of the best kept secrets leading up to the conference!
  • Fun (and free) room and board with Nina’s aunt and uncle, in a beautiful historic 1890’s neighborhood right downtown. Virginia Highlands, FYI.
  • Hanging out with Stacy & Taylor, at their cool new home.
  • Six Flags.
  • Carter Library.
  • Atlanta Zoo.
  • Hole-in-the wall BBQ joints (note: no hyperlink, and that’s the way it should be).
  • …among other things.

Since we’re traveling to see friends & family, and the pets have been a huge news item recently, I’ve been uploading a lot of video footage of our pets to Google Video so we can show them off wherever we are. Go here to see is Rusty the Doxen rolling around on the floor, as only a weenie could. In the sidebar of that video page, it should show “More From This User”, so you can find all the other super-cute pet videos from there. Enjoy!

Student Ministry Blog

After too much red tape (and too many HTML headaches) to get a youth ministry page posted within my church’s website, I decided to just let WordPress help out. Got the “Why didn’t I think of that before?!?” idea from a colleague of mine who also uses a blog format for his youth ministry page.

It’s here: http://1stpresdurangoyouth.wordpress.com

Head over. Check it out.

  • What could be done to make it more functional, specifically for use as a youth ministry communication tool?
  • If you’re in youth ministry and use a blog for getting info out to your students, what lessons have you learned?
  • Thinking about adding a Flickr widget for ministry photos… potential privacy issues? How did you address them?
  • Have you been able to make it foster anything near the community that the social networking sites promote?
  • What cues can a blog take from the standard youth ministry webpage?

Checked out

Tuesday, August 7:

My brain has officially checked out for the next 6 days. :)

I’m done! I survived today, a day that spanned the gap between being out of town with work for 2 weeks and heading out to Los Angeles and Santa Barbara for a much-needed vacation.

As far as traveling for work the past couple weeks…

I’ve been to Indiana, for an event called the Presbyterian Youth Triennium, which entailed rushing 15 sr. high students through 2 different half-hour layovers in major airports, only to show up at Purdue University to be melded into and herded around in a crowd of 5000 people. (Maybe I’m using a bit of overstatement… overall, it was a great experience.) Stressful from a leader standpoint, but positive nonetheless.

Upon returning from Purdue, I had a couple days in the office to basically sit in meetings and hear about what I had missed. Not that I could do anything about it; there’s just a set of stuff that has to be covered. The couple days in the office were about catching up. Then I took a couple days off, for a combination of resting from what I just finished as well as preparing for what was coming up. So for Thursday and Friday, I was focusing on what lay ahead. For the upcoming week, I was headed off to speak at a great camp that the kids from our church go to (Sonlight Christian Camp). Thursday consisted of getting the thematic skeleton laid out for how to address the week’s big idea. Honestly, I had had this on the back burner since January, but it really never got much thought because all the day-to-day pragmatics took priority. On Friday, I got the chance to attach some specific ideas and references and whatnot to the skeleton.

An aside techie note: For this speaking engagement, I tried out a new idea-mapping program, Compendium Open Learn. I’d recommend it; Open Learn is a great hybrid between left-brain outlining and right-brain visualization.

Wednesday, August 8:

So when I showed up at camp, I had a basic idea of what each day should consist of. Each day entailed a couple hours of making speaking notes, putting together a powerpoint, double-checking scripture references, etc. The week turned out to be great. I left with the impression that the biggest ideas I wanted to drive home really stuck with them. Thanks be to God! The content of the talks merits its own post later.

Mentioning powerpoint made me think of a post I read recently over at Out of Ur. It’s well-written, and makes me double-check myself to make sure I’m not using technology in a manipulative fashion (which is especially easy to do with media-inundated sr. high students).

This morning we left the house at 5:00am, to fly out to Los Angeles. Got out of Durango pretty smoothly. Saw some friends from church on our flight out. I love small towns. 14k people and you’re almost guaranteed to see someone you know at 6:30 in the morning at the airport. Anyway, the flights were pretty uneventful, which I guess is the ideal. Sitting on the runway at Salt Lake City, there was some super weird new-agey music that it seemed only Anina and I could hear. I was listening everywhere to try to track down its source. But I just looked goofy standing up, or putting my ear against the window, or feeling the vents for vibrations, because no one else could hear it. Turns out that somehow my armrest headphone jack was specially equipped to become a speaker instead of a jack. My armrest was emitting the offending tunes! It was definitely funny to witness, but basically, you just had to be there.

On the bus leaving LAX, I couldn’t help but overhear a fellow passenger calling home to let someone know he landed safely: “Oh honey you wouldn’t believe how beautiful it is here… 70 degrees, clear blue skies…” If by blue you mean gray, yeah sure, I’ll buy that. I’m not bashing LA’s smog or that guy’s definition of blue, but it’s just funny… it’s muddy gray here overhead compared to places like Durango.

I love being on vacation!