Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Random Response

I was once asked something like..."Are you gonna put all your focus into leaving a legacy?"

Made me think... I don't know how enjoyable life would be if I spent my time making sure people can look back at my life in awe. I'd much rather be able to look at the lives I interact with on a daily basis and be awed at who they are and can be for the sake of the world. And I think can do that.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gori Hearts, Youth, and Oklahoma City...

While in Oklahoma City, we visited the memorial for the bombing back in '95. Remember that? They set up a sort of interactive museum so we could get a feel for the experience those in the building went through. One room was set up for a conference meeting with a speaker phone in the middle of the table. They closed the doors and a recording of an acutal business meeting from the day of the bombing began. A lady was talking out a list. You can imagine a group of business folks sitting there. And then you hear the bomb. You feel it. You hear the fear in the voices from those at the meeting as half their building was blown off.

I began to think. I began to feel (I guess the exhibit worked on me). The people who set up this bombing were filled with something we can't fully describe. What is that thing?--the ability to kill people and feel proud. What is it? Where does it come from?

I've been recently very influenced by Eboo Patel's book Acts of Faith. I guess I'd have to say that somewhere along the lines at a young age Timothy McVeigh and fellow bombers were taught to think this kind of thing is good. They were given passion. In a sense they were discipled into a story of hate.

I have two lingering thoughts:

1. We really have to think critically about the ways we teach and disciple young people. We have to be active in discipling them into a story of love.

2. Through the various exhibits, we were able to get a sense of how devastating this bombing was for the families of the 166 people who were killed. But a fellow youth pastor pointed something out to me. Bombings are happening all the time in Israel and Palestine. Just yesterday the people in Gori, Georgia were on a killing spree. We never set up memorials for them. We never cry for them. We never have moments of silence for them. And we always think of them and "them."

Lord, we pray. Give us hearts to feel the cries of those who have been killed in Gori and their families. Give us passion to be active in Your story of love. Let it be.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Maybe One Day...

I just got back from Oklahoma City. We took the students on a mission trip. This is kind of a unique move for a non-profit, but we did it. What wasn't unique was the last night of the trip when a couple younger students decided to sneak out of the college dorm we were staying in. I guess there's an unwritten law that demands students to go crazy on the last night of a trip.

Their plan changed quickly when the first one slid out the tiny window opening onto the most intense bed of thorns and stickerbugs I've ever experienced. Yes, I experienced it because I had night duty and had to rescue him. I carried him out over the security wall.

He was dangling from the window when I got to him. His face was covered in shame and tears. His arms were bloody from being continuously scraped against the brick wall as his roommate struggled from inside to keep him up from touching the bed of nails. Their grip on each other was fading.

After bringing him in and letting the nurse do her magic on his medley of cuts and bruises, I asked the question that makes us designated parents at times, "What were you thinking?"

His response almost made me laugh. With most sincere face and high pitched elementary voice he said, "It's the last night. You're supposed to have fun." You might have to know this student to find this as funny as I did. He really believed that was a valid excuse.

And it made me think. Maybe he has a point. I might regret writing this, but... I think that life--for everyone--would be really boring if kids didn't push the limits. I didn't tell him that. But maybe one day I will.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Not Sure Where to Re-Start

Returning to an old blog creates a cloudy feeling within me, but I think it'll be okay.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Mentally Handi-capped?

Once a month I get paid to watch college sports on TV. That probably sounds fun for many but I'm not the biggest college sports fan (or a fan of watching any sport on TV). What is fun is that while watching these sports I hang out with a 20-year old (not sharing his name) who is mentally handi-capped. I use that term "mentally handi-capped" knowing that he is far from such a description.

In his room, stands a sort of prom picture with a girl and him embracing each other. Of course being the tease that I am, I comment with: "Oooh I saw a picture of you and a girl." In his somewhat contemplative loud voice he responds, "Yeah...that's Sara (not real name). I liked her a lot. She like me lot." I continue, "Oh yeah? Ooooh." And then he throws me into a new world. He responds, "She died earlier this summer." I pause with an internal regret for ever bringing her up. But I decided to keep going in humaness: "Oh. Does that make you sad?" Reponse: "Hmm...yeah, but I liked her a lot. And she liked me a lot. We really liked each other."

There joy together was more important than his sadness for her death. He granted an illumination that I have been to selfish to truly consider. He taught me a little of what it means to love and be human. In his world, death is not all that odd. People die. In our world, we are obsessed with making sure people live as long as our machines can provide life. How would we live with each other if we realized that the people in front of us could die tomorrow or even today? I don't know how to answer this, because my Western influence draws me to label the question morbid and dismiss it. It's not morbid. It's human life. I think we would care for each other with a stronger love if we accepted that we are human; not immortal. Perhaps we would enjoy each other.

Just a thought I have been recently called to ponder: To enjoy each other is to enjoy God.

memorabilia to throw away.

I remember a time when I would pray for God to help me with a decision and try to discern the answer through the feeling I had by the moment I said, "Amen." I write this because this wrong. It is the result of gnostic influence on Protestant churches. Thank God we (the Church) are currently being purged of such teachings. Christian teenagers around the Western world now have a greater opportunity to live life on earth. Thank God for the Incarnation. Thank God for Jesus who prays and leaves the results to the interaction between human free will and our Holy Spirit. Instead of praying for situations to work the way we want, perhaps we should pray for new hearts; for the very Love of God in our being. Perhaps we can pray for the courage to love and be vulnerable to misfortune. May we live in and among Creation and be thankful.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Desktop Confessionals

I used to hate the word "pastor." Even during my first 3 years of undergrad while studying for ministry, I simply could not stand the idea of that word being attached to me. But you know, maybe that feeling was not so odd. I mean who wants to be called the very thing that has seemed irrelevant for the millions of thoughtful people who reject being part of the Church? Who wants to spend a good 20 hours preparing a message that must be spoken and heard through a forest of yawns? Who wants to accept the title that also describes people who have exalted themselves only to hurt people in the end through verbal, emotional, and even sexual abuse? The idea of "pastor" seemed completely irrelevant and even ugly to me for a while, but not any more. So I ask: who would be willing to accept the title of a hurtful and seemingly irrelevant group of people? God.

God in humility allowed "human" to be attached to Godself. When we read Jesus saying things like "The Son of Man has come to seek and save the lost," we could read it (with integrity) "The Human has come to seek and save the lost." When humans are killing and cheating each other for the sake of selfish gain (hurtful and irrelevant to Life), God becomes flesh (human) and accepts this title/being for the sake of redeeming it. I currently attend a church in which I am experiencing the position/title of pastor being redeemed. My pastors--Mindy and Josh--are a married couple probably around 27 years old. Their care for the church is not simply that we would grow or that we would feel good. They are patiently calling the church to be faithful disciples--potentially martyrs--for the Kingdom. Sermons are intentionally creative but only as much to let the Message lead and be heard. And leadership is available for all and in many ways demanded. This isn't a church growth method. Actually our church is committed to being small--about 75 people. If we get to 100, people are encouraged to leave and start a new small church. Our church doesn’t claim nor govern any of these new churches. Well all of this is to say: I don't hate the word "pastor" anymore. I know this because I am willing to be one if God leads me that way. But if that is where I'm led, I hope to be there redemptively. Thanks, Mindy and Josh.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Horrible News

Sadaam Hussein was sentenced to death today. I shed a tear—yes, for a sinful man. I am not convinced that a sentence to be killed (hanged in this case) heals anything. Well perhaps it fulfills the desire for revenge, but that’s not Gospel. Perhaps it puts a Band-Aid over the fear some may have about what’s happening in the world, but that’s not Good News. That’s Horrible News. If you would like to read this Horrible News, below is a link to the article on the BBC news website. May we be moved to ask, “Is there another Way to live in this world?” and never give in to accepting “No” for an answer. And may we hear Jesus when he says “Do not be afraid,” even if that means living among "wheat AND tares."

(The picture above is from the day they captured Sadaam in Iraq. It's taken from some guys sick website in which death and revenge is glamorized with words like “God bless America.”)