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Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Difference 6 Months Can Make

I'm nearly at the end of my first unofficial official sabbatical. I wasn't given paid leave by my educational institution. I wasn't told it's time to rest and refresh my heart, mind, and soul by the Church. Nope. I simply knew it was time to take a step back from the "official", organized church experience and garner a new perspective from the heart of God.

It all started back at the end of July. I was finishing up my second masters degree at the University of Dayton and was recently hired by a high school on the west side of Cincinnati to be a school counselor. I was also the part-time interim youth pastor at a local church here in south Dayton. Lots going on. I needed some time away to gather my thoughts, seek some direction, and process what God was up to in my life.

So with the blessing of my wife, I flew to San Diego to spend some time with a couple of great friends and mentors and their families to sort through through my soul (Thanks, Ed/Linda and Marko/Jeannie!).

After some conversations and much prayer about taking a sabbatical from church, I took the unconventional step of faith into this new place. And it's been good, very good, for me.

Here are a few of quick learnings and healings:

1. God has been so good to me. Specifically for me in this season that has practically translated into this deep sense that He is being very patient with me and very gracious. Who walks away from "the bride of Christ" and feels like the Groom is saying, "Go for it. It's all good. In fact, I'll be right there with you loving my time with you."?

2. The Church is a wonderful people and place. I'm excited about re-entering the stream of community that is so vital to me (and the rest of us for that matter) as we live life on the mountain tops, valley bottoms, and every terrain in between. I'm excited about using my life, experiences, gifts, and faith to love and lead people to Jesus.

3. I find myself spiritually healthier as I experience the family of God that gathers in formal and informal settings. What does that mean? I find myself less cynical, critical, and even bitter at times as I walk with the broken people of God and the organism charged with going into all the earth to join with the active work of God in redeeming a lost and broken world. Because I feel I have been judged harshly in my work for God, I was turning around judging the work of the Church more harshly, too. I sense that God has been healing that area in subtle and profound ways...grace. And I was in turn giving that grace back to the people and place that hurt me...grace. Grace received. Grace given away.

There is so much more and I am slowly understanding it. Patiently. Graciously. Courageously.

My family (Kelly/kids, immediate family/parents/bros/sis) has been great...thanks! Some key friends here in Dayton and around the country have been good for me, too, asking questions, pushing my thinking, and praying for the whole of me. Thanks!

I know more stuff will rise to the surface of my life in the next six months and beyond - healthy and unhealthy. And because of this intentional sabbatical, I am better prepared to receive that stuff (whatever that "stuff" is), work with it alongside Jesus, and be transformed.

Friday, April 23, 2010

FIFA World Cup Commercials

I loved playing soccer growing up. Played for almost 10 years. But as I got older, I grew a little cold to the game I played for so long. Often I took the stance of my favorite radio sports personality, Jim Rome, who says "soccer is a only a reason to riot".

With that being said, my heart has been thawing as I watch the 75th NFL Draft on ESPN. They have been running these brilliant adds marketing the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. They have used voice over work from Bono and the music of his band, U2, in the commercials. They are awesome.

Makes me wanna watch soccer again. Here a couple of my favorites for you viewing pleasure:

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Post Easter Humpday Reminder

Just a reminder to live in light of this game changing truth and event. Just because Easter is "over", doesn't mean we forget it and stop living in light of it.


(bu to Marko)

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

What If...

You know they can take the man out of youth ministry, but you can't take the youth ministry out of the man. It's really true. I've been out of youth ministry for almost 6 months, but yet find myself thinking about nearly everyday. Not sure why. Regret? Guilt? Meditation? Future planning? Who knows.

One of the things I was thinking about the other day while I was walking the dog (real dog not yo-yo) was events/programming. Worship services vs outreach events and environments of faith vs environments of show.

If we are going to help our students live real, authentic, intentional lives in the real world, I think we need to help them live by faith. Times/places in their lives where they trust God with who they are, what He cares about, and how that intersects to impact people with the gospel.

Faith that pushes them to live in community with deeply caring and committed people who will walk with us in those scary places and during those scary times.

Faith that invites us to know ourselves better: how God has made us to point people to Jesus and what experiences God has allowed to go through in order to share the story of God in our lives (and other's lives).

Faith that causes us to lean into God and love him and others by what we do: inviting others to understand God and his gospel more clearly, share with others our story and God story and how they can experience amazing grace, caring for others by meeting their physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual needs even when we don't think we have the skills, experience, or knowledge how to.

How do we help our students live in faith filled ways? What environments are best suited for helping our students trust God in his kingdom theater? How do we hinder our students/kids from living lives of faith?

Let's commit to helping our kids understand their gifts, wiring, and passions. Let's help our kids use their gifts, wiring, and passions to advance the kingdom in their world. Let's help our students engage their friends, culture, and world in relational ways that tell others about life and love of Jesus. Let's create environments - small/big and/or showy/simple - that helps students join in and see God show up.

Friday, April 02, 2010

John Mayer's "Free Falling"

Tom Petty's "Free Falling" is an all-time favorite of mine. But this John Mayer version is better than the original IMHO. I know Mayer can be one of those love/hate or hot/cold kind of artists, but I think you have to admit this pretty amazing. This cover is right up there with other great covers like Alien Ant Farm and their take on "Smooth Criminal".

(bu to Graham)

Blow Us Away

Think the world could be better, greater, kinder, or more beautiful. How about more creative, more teachable, or more inspiring? Listen to this young lady and ask yourself, "Maybe being childish is part of the answer and solutions."

I love the line at the back end of the presentation that basically calls adults, mentors, teachers, youth workers, and youth pastors to "create environments where kids can grow up and blow us away." Love that idea!

Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity." 1 Timothy 4:12

The Hunger Site

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