Sunday, October 29, 2006

Love compels us to action

I taught this morning at Crossroads about the how the love we have received from God compels us to action, living beyond ourselves. Sometimes, I take for granted that I live with one of the best example of self-sacrificing love I have ever met.

That's my wife, Gail, playing UNO with the boyz. It's 7:00 on Sunday night. We spent the morning at church. The afternoon was spent watching football with a bunch of the college guys then Dinner at my mom's.

She doesn't complain about the hard parts of doing full-time ministry. She always puts the boyz and I before herself. I am obviously biased but she is truly amazing.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Pleasant Surprises

Have you ever been really pleasantly caught off gaurd by something?

I was, this evening. An old friend and his fiance came over for coffee and dessert. My friend has seen alot of life. A few years ago he made a series of bad decisions that just sent him into a spiral. I did everything I knew how to, to be there for him; gave him rides, gave him money, offered advice, went to court with him, listened to him. Unfortunately, each bad decision seemed to make him withdraw from me all the more.

As he withdrew, I continued attempts to reach out to him. It became increasingly difficult to catch up with him. His phone got disconnected, his cell was destroyed in a car accident. Towards the end, even when I did manage to catch up with him and arrange times to meet he wouldn't be there. We lost touch.

A mutual friend was home for a visit. We were telling stories and rehashing memories. We decided to go find our long lost friend. We went to his last known address and just happen to find him home. He seemed genuinely happy to see us. That was about a year and half ago.

He has since got back involved with a local church, has a steady job, seems to be making some good decisions and has a beautiful fiance who loves him.

So back to tonight. He handed me some money and said there would be more coming. I never expected him to pay me back when I gave him the money but he did. The money doesn't matter to me but the fact that he is dealing with his past in a constructive manner made my whole month. He seems to be in a genuinely good way. I couldn't be happier for him. As he was leaving, he shook my hand, looked me straight in the eye and said "Thank you."

Did I mention I was pleasantly caught off guard?

Monday, October 16, 2006

it's tough being a raider fan

Anybody want to make a comment about the raiders performance last night. I can take it. Whatever the comment might be I'm sure it's deserved.

My buddies and I have this deal where the one whose team has the highest draft pick (read worst record from the previous season) has to host our annual "NFL Draft Day party." I will be sending out an email later today asking if anyone has any special requests for the Draft day menu. It's a sad day when I know will be hosting....and it's only October.

"Commitment to, uh...mediocrity....whatever"


Friday, October 13, 2006

'til I'm old and grey

I started doing Student Ministry as a Young life volunteer. I had a "real" job ( I sold toilet paper and lots of it...don't laugh everybody needs it right?) and lived a normal life. I never would have guessed that 14 years later I would still be hanging out with middle school and high school kids and doing it professionally. Over the course of that time there were phases when I would look ahead and think I'm gonna do this 'til Johnny graduates. Then Johnny graduated and I said I think I can do this until Suzy and Joey graduate. Most recently, I said I think once Russ, Zak and Steve graduate I'm done. That would be June '08.

This past Wednesday, I drove a car full of freshmen guys from our weekly meeting over to the local fast food joint. Football players, skaters, honors-class kids and gamers; great homes, broken homes, dysfunctional homes; leaders, followers, and rebels, all who have allowed me into their amazing, wacky messed-up lives. We laughed and joked the whole drive. We piled out of mini-van and I watched the six of them walk into the restaurant.

I smiled and thought to myself I gonna do this 'til I'm old and grey.


Is God Green?

I hate politics. I especially hate it when it gives God a bad name. I hate it even more when "God's people" give God a bad name. There are those instances, which are way too rare, when a few folks who claim to be followers of Christ stand out in the parade of political nonsense as admirable and worthy of imitation.

Is God Green? recently aired on PBS and you can view it in it's entirety here. It was an intestesting combination of why I hate politics, more and more, why I want to distance myself from the religous right and a few individuals whom I would do well to imitate.

Despite how I feel about politics it was a great piece. Thought provoking on many levels and worth the time to watch it.

On a side note, if you watch this thing, there are several clips of congregations singing. Why is it that the media shows only those congregations that are tone-deaf and/or rthymically impaired?


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Movin' on up...

So, our leadership team at Crossroads has been in talks with a local Epsicopal Church to see about sharing their building. After several months of discussions and more importantly praying and seeking God's leading it looks like we are going to be moving down the street into actual church building.

I'm excited about this move for a number of reasons. (not in any order)
It means a semi-permanent home for us. Regular set-up and take down will be minimal.

It means a building that looks like a church. Believe me, I am the first to say and try to live out. "We don't go to church, we are the church...we need to be the church." That being said one of the the peculiarities of New England is a love/hate relationship with tradition. We currently meet in the gym of the local YMCA. Many visitors and would-be visitors have expressed a concern or issue about the facility. I'm not just talking about "church people" looking for the right place to meet their needs either. At the same time, some of those same folks are concerned that meeting in a building that looks and feels like a church will drudge up baggage from their uprbinging associated with their parent's church or some other sort of unpleasantness. Like I said it's a love/hate thing. While this might be a detrimant in some contexts I believe here in the enigma that is New England it will help.

Moving into a traditional building provides us with a great opportunity to re-purpose things like the stained glass windows and the kneelers. How cool it would be to provide people with an opportunity to see tradtional church trappings from a new perspective...We are all keenly aware that the new building looks like a church so we are already in the process of brainstorming ways to make to sure we don't define ourselves by our building, to make sure that we continue to be about much more than a place and a time.

This move means a chance to do something with very different community of faith. We will maintain separate services, sunday schools and all that good stuff. Simply the fact that two churches are sharing a space like grown-ups has huge potential to reach the surrounding community.

Our leadership has taken on a much bigger "kingdom" attitude about the whole thing. God is calling us to do this thing. We may or may not benefit from this at all. It's possible that the reason we are doing this is for the other congregation.. Who knows? But the fact that we are thinking of Christ's Church and not our church is very cool.

Anyway, like I said I am excited. Please pray for the people of Crossroads and of Grace Episcopal and for the next leg of our journey together.


Monday, October 09, 2006

Recent Readings

I have been struggling to get back into a discplined habit of bible reading. I recently read through 1 & 2 Timothy and came away with a little surprise. There is an often quoted portion of a verse in 2 Timothy 1 verse 7, "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power..." That's where the quote usually ends. In it's entirety the verse reads "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. "

God gives us a spirit of self-discipline. I got such a boost out of that. The spirit of God is at work on my behalf even in self-discipline. It also knocked me back a step. What bad form to take bits and pieces of scripture to meet a given need. Shame on me!

I have also been reading through Renovation of the Heart: Experiments in Spiritual Transformation by Dallas Willard and Jan Johnson. Dallas Willard has always been recommended to me as one those guys you need to read. "It will stretch you" people said. I don't know if I'm an idiot or what, but for the life of me, I haven't been able to get through a Willard book. Renovation takes small excerpts from Willard's book of the same name and supports them with daily experiments in spiritual transformation. Finally, I feel like I am making some progress. I have really gotten into each exercise that follows the reading. Maybe I am just a slow processor and need that extra time to contemplate the deep thoughts from Dallas. I am thinking about trying to pull some folks together this winter and work through the book as group. Maybe meet once every other week and talk about how we have been reading and be continued


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Weekend o' sports

We had a great weekend. Thursday Night Jake and I went to Yankee stadium and watched the Yanks get almost no-hit. Jake's line of the night, "Even though they lost it was still the best night of my life."

Friday Night, I hung out with some college and high school folks watching the Golden Eagles of Trumbull High dismantle the black knights of Stamford.

Saturday was at the UCONN/Navy game. My Father-in-law went to the naval academy back in the day and is still a die hard fan. It was pretty cool to sit amidst all the midshipmen and former and present sailors as Navy kicked the snot out of UCONN. Man I miss football!!!