Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Seeing Jesus in a food court

I admit it. I'm a Pot Belly Sandwich addict. I think the secret is in the bread, combined with the perfect combination of hot peppers they put on their sandwiches. At least once a week I find myself at the EP Mall food court eating "The Wreck" with a bowl of chili and an Arizona Ice Tea. Yummm.

Usually during this time, I'll have a book to read or the newspaper. Just sort of disengage from everything and focus on......nothing. Yesterday was different though. Yesterday, as I sat down, I had this tremendous burden of what it would be like if Jesus was sitting in the food court. How he would be viewing and engaging the people. The people in the food court suddenly weren't a distraction but rather an attraction. Knowing that under all of the hurry and busyness - there is so much hurt, so much sin, so much aching for purpose and meaning and.....God.

I wish I could say that these thoughts lead me to have a great interaction with someone and share the story of Jesus with them....but it didn't. But it did move me closer to being more like Jesus - even in the food court. A very small step - but I don't think an insignificant one.

Where have you seen Jesus that surprised you?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Meeting God in a bathroom

Okay, so I don't usually look for God analogies in the bathroom. Anyway - as I was, let's say, finishing up the other day in a local eatery's facility - I noticed how it is all set up to "limit" what I can use.

The toilet paper dispenser is one of those annoying ones that tears off after you pull with the force of a gnat - leaving you with 4 completely useless pieces of see thru paper. Of course, this forces you to repeat this procedure numerous times - adding to the joy of the experience.

The water faucet is one of those types that automatically shuts off just after you get soap on your hands (hey, at least I washed...right, guys!) forcing you to push the button, move your hands quickly to the water, and repeat - adding to the joy of course.

And speaking of the soap dispenser - I really hate those foam jobs - the foam tends to cling to the dispenser and just at the last minute (usually when you briefly move your hands from under the dispenser to push that stupid water faucet button) it releases and lands in the growing pile of greenish, white goop growing on the floor. Again...adding to the joy.

Finally, you come to the wonderful paper towel dispenser. This one happened to be one of those that distributes one towel at a time - about the size of an envelope. Again, forcing you to repeat the process over and over and over - adding to the joy.

I'm so glad God hasn't given me his "least"....

"I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of." John 10:10 (Msg)

And He wants to grow my joy.....

"I've told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature." John 15:11 (Msg)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Confirmation Class *shudder*

Confirmation - that word still sends shudders thru me (in a bad way!). I'm not even sure why. I didn't go thru "confirmation" class as a kid. (My only childhood memory of church is making a turkey out of indian corn for Thanksgiving.) So I don't know why I have this bias toward the word as it relates to attending a class to confirm one's faith. All that being said.....

We just finished our first "confirmation" class at our church - and it was very cool. We combined Youth Alpha (YA) with our New Members (NM) class. Did Youth Alpha last fall and just finished the New Members piece last night. Here is what I loved about it.....

* Relationships, relationships, relationships - so many of the messages and discussion focused around our relationship with God and then with each other.
* Surrounding the students with adults of all ages from 22-70+! Adults serving youth by cooking dinners, small group leaders, giving talks, helping with faith statements, playing spider ball, worshipping together, eating together. "Church family" indeed!
* This process served as a great opportunity to talk with PARENTS! I haven't talked with so many parents ever until we did this. Their concerns about what the expectations are for their child's faith statements, about attendance, about expectations, etc. Wow - I learned so much about the hopes that parents have and the struggles and insecurities they have in talking about their faith with their kids. What a great time to come along side and encourage them.
* A different crowd - many of the youth came because their parents heard this was out "confirmation" class and they really encouraged their kids to be there. Opened some doors to engaging students we hadn't seen before and showing them Christ's love.
* Faith Statements - some of the stuff they wrote down blows me away.....maybe for another post I'll share some it.

Good stuff. God stuff. Who knew? (God did....)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Kid quote

"Mainly grandparents should play Monopoly 'cause they don't have anything to do all day anyway.....except sleep."

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Lenten ponderings....

Lent - such a season of "in-betweens" for me. More often than not, Lent feels like I'm swimming around without direction more so than the typical increased focused time on Jesus. Maybe it's because I feel like I don't spend enough quiet and reflective time with God anyway...then Lent comes around....and I increase my guilt quotia rather than my hope/joy thoughts.

Our family has given up TV for the past couple of years. This year we all seem to be doing our own thing - for some it's TV, others a "limit" on TV, others certain food. I was asking our youth group the other day if they chose to give up things for Lent - about half of them were. I still hadn't decided if I was going to or not and since we were already 3 days in my choices were becoming limited to that which I hadn't already taken part of or in.....rule based guy that I am. *YIKES*

Well - after pondering a little today I have decided the following:

I am choosing to give up not eating together as a family. I am going to try to gather us more often during this season to sit down and eat together. Of course without the buy in of everyone else this may be a problem but it is where my heart is.

I am also choosing to give up TV and look for opportunities to play more family games with my kids/wife/neighbors - whomever.

I am also going to try to read thru the Gospels - already behind on that plan but I did start today.

So - there you have it. I really feel like I need to focus on relationships - family/friends and thru these will be more connected to God....because God is ALL about relationships, and going deeper with us. So in the midst of all the people He has surrounded me with...I am going to try to search for Him there - in the people - and see what happens.'s not about rules.....start something today.....don't beat yourself up....just start.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

30 Hour Famine Poem

One of our leaders wrote the following poem as he reflected on our 30 hour famine's very cool! (Thanks for sharing Mitch!)

30 Hour Famine

Students checking in tonight
The mood is fun and spirits light
Excitement fills this sacred space
While tummies rumble on.

Leaders working at their post
“I haven’t eaten” students boast
Drew looks grumpy, he’d like to eat
While tummies rumble on.

Laughing, singing, making folders
While feeding the hungry rests on their shoulders
Just being together is part of the fun
While tummies rumble on.

Large group activity, no one can hear
The kids are obnoxious, but I have no fear
Time for a juice break, more hugging and laughing
While tummies rumble on.

Spider Ball, Spider Ball, that great active game
While the older girls choose something quiet and tame
Spirits are good, surprisingly high
While tummies rumble on.

Jacob sits out, he’s not feeling well
Is it hunger or illness, it’s too hard to tell
Drew is now happy, he so loves to play
While tummies rumble on.

They’d play all night, if we would allow
But tomorrow they’ll work, so it’s time for bed now
They need to rest and save their strength
While tummies rumble on.

An early start with blankets to make
They’ve sprung into work, make no mistake
They have joy in their hearts and wear headbands of scraps
While tummies rumble on.

“David’s amazing; he can tie, like so fast”
I wonder though, will the energy last?
Count ‘em up Dave, forty-nine…and fifty
While tummies rumble on.

“You guys are awesome,” our goals are a blur.
Four grand and fifty blankets we’ve past them for sure.
Gather ‘round to bless the blankets
While tummies rumble on.

These kids just keep going; I’m amazed with their drive
Earning money, making blankets, to help others survive
It’s time to deliver and spend time with the homeless
While tummies rumble on.

Back from our visits, the kids just don’t look their best
Twenty-six hours of fasting puts a kid to the test
Sharing experiences with love and compassion
While tummies rumble on.

“I’m not even hungry.” It seems, nor am I.
“I guess I’m just tired,” one says with a sigh
“I’m so sick of juice.” “How long ‘til we eat?”
While tummies rumble on.

It’s time to work and they make the transition
Twenty-eight hours of famine, yet so much ambition
I’m feeling mellow, and the kids so impress me
While tummies rumble on.

We’re on the home stretch just a little ahead
Some prayer and worship, and “Yeah, we get bread!”
Such a great weekend, I’m so proud of these kids
While tummies rumble on.

You must hear the benediction before you can run
And a big “Amen” Yeah, they really had fun.
Get out of the way, “It’s time to eat!”
While tummies rumble on.