Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Past Week ....

The last week was a very long and tough week. I don't think that I can/will get into most of it, if any at all, but I am just saying that i am glad that it is over. Yesterday was an unbelievable day and I told you most of it, you would not believe that it could have possibly happened, let alone in a 7-hour time period.

I really need to go over to the church office and finalize some work for tomorrow and get a jump on next Sunday since i have a "short week". The short week means that on Thursday morning, I am flying into Charlotte and not flying back till Sunday afternoon. Thus, my time on getting everything done will be limited a little.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Struggle

Here I am sitting at my desk and I have knots in my stomach.

The last 48 hours have been a roller-coaster ride of emotions and life. Unfortunately, the last 48 hours have not been abnormal, they are normal. The life cycle seems to be constant in this manner. Here is a little snapshot of what I am talking about ---- and it will be brief.

Sunday night was a great night at Sunday Night Live. We had 45 individuals who attended. We had 30 children/youth and 15 adults. Out of those 45 individuals who attended, 30 of them are "new" to Zion. There is excitement in the air. The kids are really grasping the virtues and the parents are building relationships with one another.

However, there seems to be "regulars" who are no longer interested and stepping away for various reasons and that makes me sad and "forces" me to go back to the drawing board, on what I (we) can do to make them connected with the life of the church and for us to be community together (if that is even a possibility).

On Monday morning, I had the opportunity to work on details for a preteen mission trip. Once again, I am extremely excited and pumped about the 8 kids who are going and what we will do. However, I am saddened by those who are not choosing to team up with us. But, I am overjoyed that we have new children connected to the ministry who are willing to go on the trip ----- that simply ROCKS.

During the day on Monday, I had the opportunity to work with a number of individuals who are really working hard on getting jobs and turning their lives around. Then at the same time, I am connected with and watching people who are using and abusing the systems and making it so much harder on themselves and destroying opportunities for those who are really trying to get out of the system.

On Monday night, I walk into church council and am shell-shocked at the conversations and decisions/indecisions that are occurring. I try not to air bad things about the church and the ministry that is going on within our church, but this is where the struggle for me lies. We spent another 90 mins talking about capital campaign for our church (sanctuary repairs) that 55% of those connected with Zion never see or use.

The thing that really gets under my skin is the amount of time that we have been on this issue. We have been talking about it since I came on staff. Well, the conversations and planning occurred well before I came as well. The last two and half years we have spent entire meetings and additional meetings on capital campaign and we are still not even close on the repairs needed and the amount that it will take and how we will pay/finance it.

We have put off major ministry decisions all in the name of, we cannot do anything because it is capital campaign time. Here are a few small *cough* examples.

In 2008, we did not / would not make decisions on worship times because we did not want to upset people because we were getting ready to do a capital campaign.

In 2009, we did not do budget pledges or pleas for financial contributions because we were getting ready to do capital campaign.

In 2010, we cut our budgets well over 15% including mission and outreach because we are going to do capital campaign.

For 3 years, we have made decisions (non-decisions) because of the capital campaign and the capital campaign has not occurred. Not only has it not occurred but we may be further away from any answers.

What will it cost to fix the sanctuary ??? Maybe a million dollars or more. We do not know, it depends on the ceiling/roof, the brick and mortar and the stained glass window.

If, I believed that we are doing this because the building is a tool of ministry, I might bite or if we would pick up the speed of the campaign, we could do this, or if we talked about ministry and not let this affect ministry ... or ... the list could go on.

In my dream world, I would love to see what would happen to us (Zion) and other churches if we (them/us) spent the amount of money we do on buildings on ministry. What would happen if we spent the 200+ hours of meeting time talking about ministry, reaching people and serving instead of talking about how we are going to "fix/repair" the building.

Then today, I had a wonderful conversation with a friend for about 45 minutes about Sunday Night live, the mission trips, the teens that are coming to our church and what is happening. There are some great things occurring. We are making a difference.

Unfortunately at times, these highs are wiped out for me because of the "negative".

I really wish that we could focus our time and energy loving and serving and ministering with people instead of talking about the building and unfortunately when I hear the building talk, I hear preserving history and not building a future for those we can/are reaching.

So, I struggle. This is a little longer than I promised and there is a lot more that I could write on about this .... more later.

Friday, January 22, 2010

I See You

I have been thinking of those words from the movie of Avatar. It was a very good movie. However, I was thinking ------ what would happen if we actually saw people in our daily lives ??

The Song Lyrics

Walking through a dream
I see you
My light in darkness breathing hope of new life
Now I live through you and you through me
I pray in my heart that this dream never ends

I see me through your eyes
Living through life flying high
Your life shines the way into paradise
So I offer my life as a sacrifice
I live through your love

You teach me how to see
All that’s beautiful
My senses touch your world I never pictured
Now I give my hope to you
I surrender
I pray in my heart that this world never ends

I see me through your eyes
Living through life flying high
Your love shines the way into paradise
So I offer my life
I offer my love, for you

When my heart was never open
(and my spirit never free)
To the world that you have shown me
But my eyes could not division
All the colors of love and of life ever more

(I see me through your eyes)
I see me through your eyes
(Living through life flying high)
Flying high

Your love shines the way into paradise
So I offer my life as a sacrifice
And live through your love
And live through your life
I see you
I see you

The Song & Movie Clips

From Vimoh

When the Na’vi meet, they greet each other with, “I see you”. The phrase is more than a simple greeting though. “I see you” is an acknowledgement.

Think about it. Why tell someone you see them? Isn’t it obvious that you see them? Obvious unless you are implying something more than the obvious when you say “you”.

In India, the common greeting Namaskar or Namaste is no simple Hello. When one says Namaskar to someone, what it means is that he/she acknowledges the spark of the divine that is present inside them. Hinduism believes that God is an all-pervading force that envelopes all beings and things.

A great metaphor for this concept is The Force from the Star Wars movies. It is an invisible field of living energy that spreads across the galaxy and connects every creature in it to every other. In Avatar, the natives of planet Pandora realise this connectedness of all things too. Only, they call it Eywa instead of The Force.

What this acknowledgement means is simply empathy. It means that you acknowledge the other as one like yourself. It means that the ‘I’ and the ‘You’ are the same – parts of a bigger whole. Empathy and compassion are at the root of all great religions of the world.

What this awareness does is that it makes the individual recognise his place in the world. It makes him humble (like Yoda from Star Wars) and it makes him care for the world around him (like the Na’vi in Avatar).


Today, let us "see" people.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


We can always come up with legitimate-sounding reasons not to get involved. But if our compassion doesn't translate into action, we haven't really answered Jesus' call

I am working on a lesson about compassion for the youth on Sunday and the above sentence is swirling around in my head. I think that there are many individuals who say that they have compassion and their willing to extend a hand but it is often lip-service.

Keeping it at the lip-service stage is understandable. Acting on compassion is not easy. It involves taking emotional, financial and physical risk. Each individual probably holds one of those three to a different light.

Thomas Merton says the following:

To say that I am made in the image of God is to say that love is the reason for my existence, for God is love. Love is my true identity. Selflessness is my true self. Love is my true character. Love is my name.

I think that we need to be God's love and that means that we need to extend compassion.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Alabama Wins

The hit that sealed the victory

Texas QB Garrett Gilbert fumbles the ball as he is hit by Alabama linebacker Eryk Anders in the fourth quarter.

From the AP, on the sack and fumble:

Alabama 24, Texas 21.

The game that was seemingly lost was now a three-point contest. The Texas defense held again. Alabama punted and with 3:14 remaining, Garrett Gilbert walked out on the field, the same field he played so poorly on, huddled up his teammates, the same ones who couldn’t be faulted in doubting his ability, and told them they were about to drive down the field to either tie or win the BCS title game.

“We’re going to take it down there,” Gilbert said.

They believed him.

From the sideline McCoy saw the blitz coming from Gilbert’s blind side. Gilbert said he felt it too. Alabama linebacker Eryk Anders was coming fast, faster than Gilbert realized. Anders crushed Gilbert, springing the ball loose. For a split second, before he got buried into the turf, Gilbert saw the comeback, the game, the championship bounce away.

He prayed one of his guys would get it. They didn’t. Alabama did on Texas’ 3-yard line. A few plays later the Tide scored. Later they scored again. The game ended with Alabama taking a knee and Nick Saban getting a Gatorade bath and a crimson-and-white confetti shower.


It was a great game and I am glad that the boys and me got to stay up till 12:30 in the morning watching it. Jacob was a hoot to watch at times, he was really rooting for Alabama ----- when we moved to Alabama, he quickly picked them as his team.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Francis Chan / Balance Bean / Risk

I really enjoy reading and listening to Francis Chan. His Crazy Love is a great book and what their church does is amazing. I really wish that churches lived out a crazy love for their neighborhoods.

Here is a small piece of a message/sermon about Risk. It may not be his best illustration / his best point BUT ..... I am "wrestling" with risk and pushing people to risk. Watch it.

Are you playing it safe ?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Broken ....

I have had many conversation today and I have seen a lot of people who are broken. They are in a tough spot. Life is hard and it is rough and if we were honest, life has plainly dealt them a bad hand and they are having trouble playing with the hand that they have been dealt.

At times, they just want to "call" the game or fold.

Here is a stolen thought:

If we are the body of Christ - and Christ came not for the healthy but the sick - we need to be fully present in the places where people are most broken. And it has to be more than just a financial presence. That helps, of course. But too often money is insulation - it conveniently helps us from ever having to come face-to-face with a man or woman whose life is in tatters.

We, as Christians, are too afraid to take risk though and truly be present for people. Will you be willing to be present to the broken ??

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Networking .. ?? ..

Earlier today, I posted this status on facebook:

wishes there was more networking among churches, came across something today that made me think about it. wish i had more space here to write about it, i am going to do a blog post on it, i do believe

So, I am going to place a small blurb on my blog since I mentioned that I was going to do it on my facebook status. I am not sure if networking is the word that I want to use. The reason is that, we studied about networking (cooperation) not long ago at Sunday Night Live and here was the definition:

I believe that if we as churches worked together and focused on the Kingdom of God; that great things would occur. However, too often, we are worried about our own church, our own members and what the numbers look like for us. You know, the good old abc's. If you are not familiar with the abc's, here you go:


At times, I think that we, at Zion, even get into this trap and it drives me crazy. However, I do not want to look at this as a large scale issue today. I want to take a look at it from a very small and microcosmic standpoint. This may seem minute and it may seem crazy, but it got me thinking in a sense ----- how pathetic (in my opinion), we really are and how un-connected we are as churches.

Early this morning, I was taking 10-15 minutes to catch up with individuals on facebook and what they are doing and what is occurring in their lives and I saw a post that mentioned that her daughter was reading the bible ....

Now this caught my eye but not a great deal of it till I saw some of her comments and it "clicked". The comment was the following:

you are the 3rd parent who's mentioned something now! We are focusing on one of the spiritual disciplines each week of January. I love these kiddos!

The individual that made the comment is a children's pastor and she has seen numerous of the parents who attend their church make a comment about reading the bible. I think that this is super cool that she ( parent and children pastor ) is seeing kids reading the bible. The reason that they are seeing them read the bible this week (in my opinion) is that on Sunday morning, the kids had a lesson on navigating the bible

To make this post even longer then it should ...... the church is going through 5 Faith Skills and the 5 skills are the following:

- navigate the bible
- personalize Scripture
- dialogue with God
- articulate faith
- worship with your life

I know that the church will be studying this because we are using the same curriculum that they use and have been using it for awhile. I remember a year and a half ago that I was up at their church for a youth minister meeting and saw information and talked to her husband ( I believe ) about the children ministry / curriculum / characters that make up the story ......

We could go large scale and talk about how we could/should possibly team up and do the ministry together. We could pull our resources together and have more children, more volunteers and more ........

But, once again, on the very small scale ..... I think that it would be cool that we were connected / networked in a small way that our kids at our small downtown church know that there is another church - larger - different denomination could know that kids are learning the same thing and vice-versa.

Thus, when the kids are rubbing elbows with each other at school on Monday - Friday, they could talk about these faith skills. They could ask each other the following questions:

- so, are you finding your way through the bible ? (navigating the bible)
- so, how does the bible story that we had yesterday apply here ? (personalize Scripture)

and so forth .....

I am done rambling.

There are many areas that we need to network and cooperate and many steps that we need to take place. The facebook status and comment from a children pastor prompted me to think of how I wish that we could do even it in the small very baby step format.

I am going to work on some ideas, not only just for that church, not sure if they would be interested, but the overall aspect ....