Posts Tagged ‘community’

Love & Belonging

I know most of us these days enjoy captivating, attractive speakers who entertain and inspire. Or perhaps we enjoy well-proven theologians/scholars with shelves of published achievements, or a blog with millions of followers. But there is a growing necessity for us to listen to those who quietly serve with the heart of Jesus, without seeking fame or notoriety. Here are some phrases I pulled out to whet your appetite – but I encourage you to watch…there’s much more within…

“Each person is precious. We’re in a world filled with communication, but frightened of presence. People don’t get lost, if there are enough people to hold their hands. Young people become lost in a world where the only objective is “normality”, success, economy, power, & control.

Community is not the place of security, community is necessarily the place where there can be divisiveness; cause community is about welcoming difference…Unity comes as we learn to live difference.”

For anyone who loves Jesus…church…community…Henri Nouwen…etc.

Or for anyone who really despises church or religion or even what they’ve heard of Jesus…

This is incredibly good to watch:

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for the love of donuts.

Paul writes in his letter to the early church in Rome, “For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race” (9:3)  This was mentioned in class today, in example of just how important it was to expand and increase the knowledge of the Love of God in the communities we love.   “I donutsdon’t think I’ve ever loved a church I’ve served that much!”, was said with a smile to many nods in the crowd.  As much as I’ve loved the Church, and the church I’ve served at – I don’t think I would ever elevate them above my love for Jesus.  I don’t think Paul was either, but was rather making an emotional appeal to explain just how passionate he was to see his fellow countrymen knowing the Love of God.

But being in “Church History” lectures all of this week, I can’t help but think about the history of God’s people seeming to put other seemingly good things ahead of the Love of Jesus throughout thousands of years.

Each time I’ve driven between my hotel and seminary, I’ve noticed new things like a kid who is somewhere they’ve never been before.  I’ve driven past a large national cemetery, with it’s rows of white grave markers.  I’ve driven past a large Finnish paper products plant, that I should probably purchase stock in for the sake of my family’s use of paper plates.  But two places I’ve noticed on each drive seem to stand out in their contrast and commonality with one another:  A small local donut shop that closes when they sell out late each morning, and a large commercial bakery with loading docks and trucks lined up to a giant warehouse building.

Both of these endeavors could be labeled “successful”. It would seem silly for someone to approach the small local shop and prod them:  “Don’t you care about sharing donut goodness?”  “Don’t you want the masses to enjoy the same donuts you’ve enjoyed?”  “See the bakery down the street?  Surely they have a truer passion for donuts!”

Yet so often throughout history this same mentality has crept into the church.  We take the “Great Commission” not as a direction to live and love, but as a mandate to succeed at with all the resources and power we can amass.  So we divide and conquer.  We establish.  We claim.  We protect.  All in the name of a Jesus who came to die.  To give away.  To release.  To submit to the will of the Father.

Yes – I love Jesus. Yes, I want the people in the community I love to know the freedom and New Life offered in receiving His Love and Hope by Faith.  It has transformed my life, and continues to even as I don’t deserve it.  I’m sure the giant bakery I drive by is run by great people who truly love their baked goods.  But I suppose what I’m saying is – it’s really good for us to remember our love for Jesus above our love for everything – even the church.  That may lead to heresy.  But it might just lead to some amazing donuts as well…

..and what might happen if, the church continued to be filled with and sending out people of all ages and every background who were passionate in sharing their love of donuts?  We may not even need the trucks. 😉

 

 

 

 

 

Political Climate

As we walk forward, toward the unknown we begin to roam in new altitudes,

and attitudes mixed with platitudes have begun to make it hard to breathe

the hot air just a little too thin, sunlight begins to dim and I realize

I’m in flip flops stopped at the bottom rock looking at the top of a mountain I’m unprepared to climb.

And I’m here today to say, I think that’s okay.

Because this is Mount Political Climate.

You may have noticed a slight decrease in temperature because it’s cold

A system way too old for anyone to question, we’ve steam-rolled the bold ways of discovery

And fell deep into the well of “this is how it’s been done”, and the sun continued to rise

so our decision must be wise. We disguise the misguided attempts at others to deconstruct

Those who might call it corrupt, because they’re simply outsiders, underperformers,

Unprepared misfits who couldn’t handle the climb

But it’s time those of us not clinging to the ledges to look up

And realize what we seek, might just not be the peak

Of Mount Political Climate.  Refuse to Climb it.  Walk Around.

Walk Around.

The sounds should astound us at first, like a thirst that’s unquenchable

Things unmentionable aired out for public consumption, because that shows gumption

Whatever that is.

And the fad is growing to start showing your opponents weaknesses before they get a chance

To show you with your pants down.  The town meeting ignores the fact that

you’re running to be a leader,
Because deep down, they’d rather be amused.

A in the negative, Muse meaning to think, we are a people not thinking

While our patterns go on stinking and bringing about change in ways

we never would’ve chosen On purpose

Getting nervous as we’ve only scratched the surface

The fact is, we deserve this type of leadership, because it’s only a megacosm

Of the micro we live every day

As we live to get paid, and sway situations to shine the sun on our day

I wanna get mine and protect it, and keep others out so they can’t infect it, but don’t try to inspect it,

because – like I told you, it’s mine.

My Mountain of Political Climate.  Refuse to Climb it. Walk Around.

Walk Around.

And so we’ve found that sounding an alarm might just do some good

And it could shake you and I away from what would, toward what should happen, as we’re mapping new routes

As we refuse to climb the foodholds set before us, though others may ignore us, or abhore us,

Our voices join in one chorus,

That healing won’t come by name calling, health is not built by a wall, and one sure way for us all to fall is to try and stand so tall everyone else seems small.

The ball is in our courts, to call our courts to once again view the human in their being.

To start seeing names instead of numbers, to welcome new comers to the table, and perhaps rising above all political noise, is the silent necessity of, Love.

The hidden wealth of nations is not found in vaults, or in banks.

That Power is not found in muscles, missiles and tanks.

That Happiness not found in tickets to Disney and apple pie.

We must go beyond a simple cry for change, and embody what we hope

Facing the ends of our rope, we come together, tethered to something greater than ourselves

Dusting off the shelves of a room we knew well when we were young

Before we became so high strung, and the songs we sung were a lot more inspiring

Not conspiring for one to rise, but to ignore such lies and seek the good of all.

Because, humanity, united we stand, and divided we will fall.

But it’s a Mountain, this Political Climate.  Refuse to Climb It.  Walk Around.

Fall Ave.

The squirrel lifts its head

as acorn falls, alarming all

against the gravity of autumn.
Solemn leaves of orange, pale enlight1against the sidewalk chalked by children who live here,

riding by now, plowing through late morning as Moses through Red Sea-

warning neighbors recently wed, the beauty of life to be,

of life that was, as others’ lives come to dusk, grandparent of the street whose feet shuffle slowly,

feeding birds who greet this quiet community with their own,

interrupted by invitation to observe, daughter has worked up nerve to try,

bike off sidewalk, just a moment but smiles years in practice,

proud to her father, sits on porch swing slow, wind blows and leaves fall like gentle rain,

plainly proclaiming place where life will come again.

Small nod and raised hand sing hello to passersby, one cannot pause – spoils of her morning in hand.

Each front porch presenting welcome demands of slow-worn paths into community,

lit by street lamps that saw grandparents with mud pies.

Confessions of a “Neighborphile”

I grew up on a highway. (Well, not “on” the highway, but you know what I mean.)

There were some great things about this. I remember having a pool as kids, and not being too concerned about who saw you wearing what…or not wearing what. We played football in our front yard, and rode bikes up and down a driveway that was as long as a city block. You could sit on the roof on the back side of our house and see the sunset over miles of fields.

But then, there were a few downsides, too. I remember riding my bike for miles to be there early in the morning when our city’s very own McDonald’s opened. Or making a long list of things needed from the grocery store, because we couldn’t imagine running all the way into town just because we didn’t have ketchup for burgers that night. Mustard never tasted so good.

Then I went to college, where everything was contained in one giant bubble. Life was a bit TOO close. You ate in the same building you retrieved your mail, shopped for books, and met for foosball tournaments. Eventually, I was spit out as a college graduate. I was married, and had everything I needed to begin life as an official “adult.”neighbor-620x330

Life brought us here to Decatur, Illinois…

(Read the rest of my post over at www.redecatur.com !!!!)

changing streets.

I’m still getting used to it.

I grew up living most of my life on M-50.  That stands for “Michigan-50”, as in a “high-way”.  We had a large front lawn, so don’t imagine it so close to the road the truckers could throw their drinks at my window.  But do imagine cars and trucks whizzing by at 60+ MPH while we waited for our bus at the end of the driveway.   Much of the school year in coooold Michigander temperatures.  It was awesome.  Stars seemed they were always visible.clintontrail

We knew our immediate neighbors.  We rode our bikes for hours up and down our driveway (Not to brag, but it was the only one nearby that was completely paved).  In high school, we were robbed by the senior higher who lived a few doors down from us.  We watched the fire department accidentally drive through a closed door, and every so often a traveling group of Indians would set up their teepees in the field across the highway.  In the 20 minutes we waited for the bus, often we pretended we were Ninja Turtles (I was usually Michaelangelo, because I love eating pizza and saying “Dude”.  He was usually Leonardo, because he’s a natural leader and genius.) before we hopped on the bus for the 1.5 hour trek around horror-movie-inspiring cornfields picking up all the other students who lives “outside of town”.  You could say it was a pretty normal place to live.

I remember when our city, Eaton Rapids, was about to have it’s very own McDonald’s restaurant open.  The excitement was building for months as we saw the holy structure take form.  The date was set for opening.    It was only about 1.4 miles away, but it was 1.4 miles of M-50.  Intimidating?  Nah.  My older brother was with me.  Plus…we wanted to be among the first to taste the amazing goodness that was fast food, and enjoy the coming-of-age experience of a bike ride to food without adults.

It was a pretty great place to grow.  I’m thankful for it.

Where I live now is more an Avenue than highway.

If a car comes down the cobblestone street going faster than 15 MPH, I stand up and give them my stern-serious look.  If we 1383595_10151693986116339_1342514859_nforget sour cream, we can run out to get it and be back in a few minutes.   Our kids play together.  We celebrate holidays together, and call the cops on each other. (Lovingly, of course.)  There are streetlamps on both sides of our street, straight out of some old-time movie.   If the kids on our street aren’t homeschooled, they can walk down the block to school each morning.

It’s still a bit new to me, this living in closer community.  Where we could walk most places we need to get to within an easy stroll.  Trick-or-Treat season finds mini-vans from all over the city dropping off a load of kids to wander around begging sugar from door-to-door.  We share a water provider, and a sewer system.  It’s a pretty intimate deal. Much of this might simply be adult-hood, but I know the names of most of the families up and down both sides of my street.  We pray for them.  We hope that somehow God’s Love will be known and experienced by the ways that we connect in relationship…whether they know Him already or not.  We draw with sidewalk chalk and play hop scotch and wave at the elderly man who grows herbs in his basement year-round (legal ones).

You can’t always see the stars very well.

But the people sure are great.

any news?

I love getting this question.  I also hate it.

We’re surrounded by so many amazing people in our lives, who’ve connected themselves with what God is doing in and through our lives.  I know that so many of our friends and family carry the burden with us, and bring it to God on a regular basis.  I’m reminded of that every time someone I haven’t seen or spoken to in a while asks, “any updates on Phoebe?”road

Or the even funnier question we sometimes get, “So do you have her home yet?”  Ouch.  That’s right, we’ve been traveling this road since March 2012.  Over 2 years now.  It’s possible to see people we don’t see very often, who honestly think “surely they’ve got her by now.”  So many of you have been on this road with us.  So many of you have given, way more than we could ever have anticipated/expected/asked.  We’re humbled as we are constantly reminded how “not alone” we are.

We know that national attention is being given to so many parents who’ve completed the adoption process, and still are not being allowed to bring their children home.  I can’t even imagine what that’d be like.  But I know I’d love to be in that stage.  I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating.  I had no idea how much simply the journey of adoption itself, would make an impact on our home, our family, and our community/relationships.  My children will not only remember the fact that our family was involved in adoption…they will remember how we prayed and waited on God for years as a part of this.

I know it could have been faster.  There are plenty of countries in suffering, where children are being adopted and brought home.  We celebrate whenever we hear of a child finding a home.  But this was the road we followed God down, and even though it seems like a really hard season to travel…we know that as we’ve offered each step to God, He’s brought purpose and redemption to every moment.  We are not waiting to bring Phoebe home, safe and sound, before we declare “Look, this was indeed the call of God and He has provided!”  We are declaring it even now, even when the road ahead is still long, and the dust gets in our eyes from time to time. 

Because that’s our story as God’s people, right?  That God isn’t waiting until it’s all “made right” to bring His redemption and life-transforming purposes.  The formative years of our home, are being wrapped around having to trust in God.  Our relationships are being flavored by prayer and honest burden-sharing.  Our marriage is strengthened by the mutual “labor pains” of bringing our daughter home.  Children and families in the DRC are being prayed for, conflict/wars are being prayed against, and support is becoming connected to an area of the world that has been desperately needing it for a long time.  Our story is just a small part of that bigger story.

A lot of this came to mind, as I heard a song earlier today that I’ll share the lyrics from as I close:

“We found hope on this long and dusty road
at the table we were fed as he broke the bread
We found hope on this long dusty road.

We found hope on this long and dusty road
In His presence we found truth, that we bring to you
We found hope on this long dusty road.

We found hope on this long and dusty road
He’s alive and brought us peace, now we gather to feast
We found hope on this long dusty road.” – Von Strantz (free download here)

So keep asking us if there are updates. We may initially struggle with getting our answer out…but it’s worth contemplation…:)

 

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