Thursday, June 11, 2009
One of the shelter staff told me as she left that she hopes my evening is boring. Then she paused, looked at me and said, "Because boring is good." Yep....striving for boring is my goal for the evening.
The other background noise is in the TV room - NBA finals are blaring complete with guys cheering for their teams. It's all good....
As long as I can keep the sleeping guys asleep and the NBA guys from getting to loud. Otherwise "boring" may be lost....
The last time I volunteered was about a month ago and I was happy/sad to see some familiar faces. I recognize at least 4-5 of the guys. I don't think any of them remembered me.
When the guys were let in tonight I was surprised that about 6 of them were riding bikes, one brought in a pair of crutches attached to his bike, and another man brought in a fishing pole with him. Seeing these guys and how they value what they have is humbling.
Back to praying for peace....and for a boring evening.....Lord, send Your peace.
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Monday, June 08, 2009
Thursday, June 04, 2009
It makes me think back to the Dove ad campaign a while back.
I have two daughters and two sons. My prayer is that they each see themselves as "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14); know they were created "in the image of God" (Genesis 1:27)....and find their true identity in Christ.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
The Passage - 1 Cor 1:1-9 (NIV)
1Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,
2To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours:
3Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5For in him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge— 6because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. 7Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
Stuff I notice - and thoughts/questions it brings to the surface of me.
1) Paul is writing with his friend Sosthenes.
- Who are my friends and encouragers in my journey? Am I building into them or just waiting for them to build into me? In what ways do I acknowledge them?
2) Paul's letter is to the church and all believers. Seems to be to both "the body" corporately as well as individuals who make up the body.
3) Wow - what a prayer/message of Thanksgiving in verses 4-9. The words that jump out at me are:
- "enriched in every way" - I LOVE that! So often I have to deal with my own questions or the questions of others about what difference does it make to be a Christian if I just try to do good things. I serve, I care, I contribute. That is such a stumbling block for me at times to answer - and this verse simply says....God can use that and do it better. Better than you can possibly imagine. You won't know the difference until you let Him in - and that's a hard wall to break down. But oh....when you surrender your "good" works to Him and let him enrich your speaking...your knowledge. I LOVE that and find great comfort and challenge in it at the same time.
- "our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you" - who has helped lead me, through their testimony...their love, compassion, lifestyle into my relationship with Christ? Have I thanked them? And who am I sharing my testimony with? (With my words and knowledge enriched through my relationship with God) My hope is that it will help lead to them confirming their relationship with Jesus some day.
4) As a body - we are not lacking in any spiritual gifts. How cool - and points to my need to be in community to experience the fullness of Christ supernaturally. I also love the phrase "as you eagerly wait" - nice contrast to be eager and waiting at the same time. What a sense of expectation - and makes me ask is that the attitude I bring - expectant, eager, watchful, intentional. What's my attitude?
Wow - 9 verses and LOTS there. Good stuff to keep rolling around. Feel free to share your own thoughts and how the passage impacts you this day!
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
If you are in - what are some ways we can stay connected and encourage each other along the way? Please feel free to share your ideas and thoughts!
Friday, May 22, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
It does have to do with kissing....and maybe even Holy kissing.
Greet one another with a holy kiss. 2 Corinthians 13:12
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I'm a regular "lurker" at Grant's blog. I've never met Grant but I have come to respect him through his writing. (I would even encourage you to read his blog regularly....more so than mine!) Grant is a follower of Christ, husband, father, former youth pastor and a new lead pastor. I also believe he is a builder - of relationships and disciples and that he is helping to speed the breaking through of God's Kingdom in the here and now.
When I read the post about the phone call he received from a school district employee regarding his son.....
....it made me joyful. Being the parent of 4 children I can relate to what it's like to get calls like that. Starting off from "Oh no, what's my son done?" and ending at "WOW, that's what MY son has done!" is a great day.
....it made me hopeful. As a Christian, reading about the impact of our attitudes and our serving of others reminds me again it's not about what goes on inside the walls of our churches.
....it made me wonder. How do I respond when someone asks why I do/don't participate in something. And I got hung up on the phrase "Because, I love Jesus". And it has continued to resonate...convict....grow....and just won't leave me. As I have tossed that phrase around in my head I have come to love it. (Yes, you can put the well deserved "Well, duh" in right here.)
"Because I love Jesus" - takes the focus off of me and shines it onto Christ. When I make a God honoring decision and I'm in a position to share the "why" behind that decision I'm tempted to say "because it's the right thing to do (probably true)" or "because that's how I roll (okay, I don't ever say this...I'm too old!)". But if I say "because I love Jesus" then it's not because of MY rightousness....spirituality....individual convictions - it's because of the one who has transformed me and shown me a better way. It immediately points to Christ - opens up the opportunity for others to say "What? - c'mon...are you kidding me" and enter into a conversation that isn't focused on me but on what Christ has done for me. And how cool is that. The chance for seeds to be planted and lives to be changed and relationships to be built.
So, as a Dad, I want to be sure to share that phrase with my kids. To give them that "handle" to use in their conversations. And to continue to use it myself. And that when the phone rings, and it is my child's school......well I can hope can't I?
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Fasting: While I don't have a regular schedule that I follow for fasting, it is one discipline that I have found to be very powerful and healthy. (Which of course begs the question why I don't make this a regular habit...hmmm.) Some of the benefits I have found of fasting include:
- Space - by not worrying about what, when, with whom I am going to eat it adds HOURS to my day. Hours that I can use to ponder and/or listen for God.
- Focus - as I turn away from food it automatically reminds me to turn toward God. Without stress, guilt, or other baggage - my focus on God seems to be more "pure" during periods of fasting.
- Humility - this is important for me because I am wired to seek attention. When fasting, I usually have to answer the question "Why aren't you eating lunch?" and then I have a choice - to build myself up (I'm going super-spiritual today, baby!) or to deflect the question with something like...."I'm eating later". To go through the day connected to God...but not overtly sharing that and turning it into a day of "look how hard I work at my relationship with God" day is important for me.
- Fasting also reminds me of God's abundance - that I can get thru a day relying on Him and knowing that He provides, prepares, and perseveres with me through all situations.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
- Letters Across the Divide by David Anderson and Brent Zuercher - I actually have an autographed copy of this book! Apparently I picked it up in 2003. It is a true story of two friends, one African American and the other white, that explores racism, friendship, and faith thru a series of letters they exchange.
- same kind of different As me. by Ron Hall and Denver Moore - I just finished this book a week or so ago and it totally captivated me. It is a true story about a homeless man who started out life as a sharecropper and an upscale art dealer who end up becoming friends. The paths that their lives take to introduce them to each other and the relationships that form because of it are fascinating.
- the beautiful struggle by ta-nehisi coates - I read this book last year probably because I saw someone post about it or read a review in a magazine. It is a beautifully written book. Honestly much of the language that was used was unfamiliar to me - some urban terms, some hip hop, just different. But the phrasing, use of language was too engaging to put down. You should read this review to really get a flavor for this true story of a young black man's journey to adulthood in Baltimore.
Friday, May 01, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I had a stretch awhile back that I was wondering (complaining?) about where God was. Nothing particulalry bad was going on in my life. But it felt like I was just going through the motions.
I fell into the trap of believing that it was God that had pulled back from me. I kept asking God to give me the desire to love Him more....to want Him more....to give me the energy and time to experience Him. I started to apply to him the list of attributes that I was feeling.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
I had some time to kill after an appointment in Burnsville today. Nothing like a mocha and some browsing at the local Christian bookstore to make the time fly by so I ventured into Northwestern Bookstore in Burnsville.
I have recently been worshipping at Sanctuary Covenant Church in Minneapolis and they will often have worship times that include hip-hop, latin, gospel flavored music and I am more of a "The Refuge" (contemporary Christian / Alternative Rock) kind of guy so I thought I'd expand my musical base a little....and maybe start to recognize more of the music I'm listening to and trying to participate with.
First I browsed the "new artist" section and picked up a Remedy Drive CD. Then on to the Gospel Section and picked up The Essential Fred Hammond. Next I ventured into the hip-hop section and...didn't pick up anything at first because all of the cases were empty shells. (Sort of like at Blockbuster when you are looking for a movie!) It was very noticeable because the hip-hop section is pretty small, on it's own rack set apart for the rest of the CD's and is the only section that was presented this way.
Oh yeah, and then there was the sign over the rack that said "Thou Shall Not Steal" - God and NW bookstores.
I don't think this would have bothered me a couple of years ago...but recently God has been opening my eyes to people who are different than me in new ways. And this little "empty shell" display that required you to get your CD from the clerk up front, combined with the "Thou Shall Not Steal" sign made me angry....and sad. I eventually grabbed the Urban D Unorthodox shell (he had come to Sanctuary a few weeks ago and led some worship time) and went to the front counter. I asked why they had they had the hip hop section displayed this way - and the clerk said that it is because "a lot of those types of CD's get stolen".
Okay, I get that. It makes sense to me for the store to notice that a certain item is more likely to be stolen and try to do things to protect their products from being lifted. But this just struck me as over the top.
First - it seems to say people who listen to hip-hop CHRISTIAN artists are more likely to steal. And I don't think it is a stretch to connect that with specific ethnic people groups/cultures. I know my first reaction when browsing that section and seeing it is the only "product controlled" section was wondering if people were watching me extra close as I browsed. It made me feel uncomfortable just looking at the CD's. (Apparently people who buy contemporary Christian, gospel, latin, alternative or any other genre of music are less likely to steal?)
Second - the bright neon green 8.5X11 "Thou Shalt Not Steal" sign. C'mon. Really? The product has all been removed anyway so what is the point of the sign? All it does is further communicate to people wandering around the store the assumption that people that listen to hip-hop are likely to steal and need to be reminded that God (and NW bookstore!) doesn't want them to. The sign is what really put the whole experience into the category of "stereotype" for me. (To me the sign and way the CD's are displayed is basically silently and indelibly screaming - if you stand in front of this section you better not be one of THOSE people that listen to hip-hop and steal CD's. You should know better and in case you forgot we, the good people of NW bookstore, are reminding you. Oh, and everyone else is watching you as well at this point!)
The whole thing just made me feel icky.
Of course the other part of the ick was that after I left and started thinking thru it all....I thought I should have asked to talk to the store manager - to find out why they had the CD's displayed as they did and then share how I felt as I looked at the CD's. My bad...'cause nothing will change without conversation and engaging people. Okay - fine. I'll go back and talk to them....and blog about it later. Hold me to it tho....I am SUCH a conflict avoider.
I'd love to hear your thoughts as well. Keep in mind - this is ALL told from only my perspective and is subject to over-simplification on my part.
But how does this strike you? And thoughts about how I should follow up?
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Okay - this is the first time I have chosen to interact with people that are homeless. At least in a meaningful, more personal way. Sure, I've handed out money, made sandwiches, and done other such activities - but had never put myself in a position where I would have hours of face time with a person who is without a home. Yep, I was a little apprehensive. But it was awesome!
On a given night there are two overnight volunteers that serve from 5:45 pm until 7:00 am. The three shelter staff start work at 3 pm and leave around 10:15 pm - shortly after all the guests are supposed to be in bed. The volunteers are basically the "eyes and ears" of the staff. We take care of the guests basic needs (there are about 46 overnight guests each night) - handing out supplies, making coffee, directing traffic a little (where to get what), etc. Meeting needs and making them feel cared for and safe. This frees up the staff to meet with guests one on one and do the work of trying to provide better access to care for their guests with the ultimate goal of obtaining permanent housing for them. The volunteers rotate their turns sleeping - one from 10 -2 the other from 2 - 6. I split the difference as I am "shadowing" so I got to try to sleep from 12 - 4...but mainly I just listened to the sounds around me.
My first impression was that this was a lot like a youth lock-in! I've helped organize many a lock-in for high school kids and there were some similarities....especially in the personalities that were present. The introvert, the helper, the funny guy, the really smart guy, the guy that gets picked on a lot, the guy that thinks none of the rules apply to him, the guy who knows how to work they system....but after spending time with them....the facades start to come down and the real stuff starts to come out. Lots of sadness, anger, loss of hope...balanced with gratefulness, contentment, and the beginnings of hope.
I tried really hard to learn names. Thru the course of the evening I had about 10 conversations with specific guests that allowed me to listen to at least part of their stories. It was humbling to listen in on their journeys. Some had been homeless for years....some for just a couple of weeks.
Each face and story was unique - and I tried to respond to each one with love. Thru a smile, an encouraging word, a handshake, cookies and milk, coffee....caring. But of course...in the process I was changed. More on that later.
So - it was an evening of small moments that were incredibly rich. I can't wait to go back. The volunteer schedule is already full for May....and I find myself disappointed rather than relieved. NOT what I expected. But of course with God in the middle of it....what else should I expect!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
"O God, I have tasted Thy Goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, "Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away." Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long."