Wednesday, March 25, 2009

the life of the party

i haven't written in a while because my mac is injured at the moment. i spilled an entire cup of coffee into the computer. INTO the computer. its not pleased.

the other day i was in the gym with my good friend andrew for our daily workout. and when i say workout i really mean being at the gym laughing like crazy at whatever jokes and commentary we can throw at each other. honestly we laugh most of the time we're supposed to be lifting. well this particular time i laughed hard enough to almost drop weight on my head and fell off the bench. this of course drew a little attention from other gym patrons, but they didn't think it was as funny as we did. they looked at me like i was stupid. and they're right i'm sure, but i got to thinking. is there a rule about laughing or smiling in the gym? do we have to hold looks of intensity or can we genuinely enjoy the few hours we're there?

and then i started thinking about the life of Jesus and all the parties he went to. he ate and drank enough for the religious leaders to accuse him of being a drunk and a glutton (that makes me laugh by the way). when people came to Jesus, they threw him a party, and he enjoyed it. matthew becomes a jesus follower and invites all his buddies over to the house to meet Jesus. i think this was because Jesus was a joy to be around.

Jesus was a joy to be around.

i love thinking about that simple statement. he smiled. he laughed. he gave high fives and used puns in his stories and chased kids around and hugged people. we are supposed to live the same joyful lives. it should be said of us that we are a joy to be arond. people should like our company, not run from it. why is it that sometimes christians are the most serious, unfunny, stern-faced individuals in a crowd? why can't we be the most exciting?

now i don't know that we should be dancing on tables next time we go out to eat, but maybe you can chase your kids or tell a joke or throw a party just because. maybe we can grin a lot and be the kind of people who get invited over to dinner. maybe we can be like the Jesus who was a true joy to be around.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

communities of forgiveness

i remember some good times in college. i feel like one of those almost old guys who talks about his college experience and roomates more than anyone wants to hear. but i can't help it. i had a great time and even better roomates. as good a guys as they all were, sometimes 5 guys in a 3 bedroom apartment got to be a little much. there were a few disagreements, and a few of those turned into heated discussions... and a rare few turned into near brawls. i think in 2 years there was only one physical fight (me and kirk).

one things that always made me thankful was the forgiveness given to each other in the apartment. my roomates weren't like the typical guys who would scream at each other and then never talk about the arguement again. they actually asked for each others' forgiveness. we would sit down over wings and hash it out. and that forgiveness was contagious.

when we would hear two guys fixing problems they had with each other, it would loosen the tension in the house. it would put everyone at ease. but it would also set a standard for how to do community.

maybe when we forgive it rubs off on others. my friend kirk wonders if Paul telling the church "whoever you forgive i forgive" tells a bit of the story of community forgiveness. maybe forgiveness is contagious. kirk asked the question, "are we creating a culture of forgiveness? maybe another question might be, is my ability to forgive expanding others' ability to forgive?" and i think its a question worth asking. how does your forgiveness, or the lack there of, affect those around you?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

they wrote it in their songs

forgiving is hard. its not implanted in us to give it or ask for it or be impressed by it. i remember fighting with lakyn, my little sister, when we were young; we would always have to apologize if we were caught fighting by our parents. i made her cry way more than my parents knew by the way. but i also remember it being just as hard to give forgiveness than to say i was sorry. Lakyn was ready to forgive, but me, i gave lip service to the word through gritted teeth and plans stewing in my vengful little brain as to how to get my cute little sister back for whatever she did.

Jesus was such a disciplined forgiver that it was a part of his character. God, when proclaiming his name to moses says, "the LORD, the LORD... forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin..." It was a part of his name, an attribute of his divinity, a description of his self. i'm always intrigued by how many psalms are devoted to forgiveness. they wrote it in their songs. what a beautiful picture...

i wonder whats written in our songs? i wonder if our lives sing of revenge or mercy? do we sing out grudges or love? do we beat the drum reminding everyone where they've wronged us or do we play the strings of forgiveness? what do you sing?

forgiveness is releasing someone to rebuild whats broken. and much of the time its hard. its hard to repair things, but its such a beautiful song.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

the speaklisten project

we're about to start a photography outreach art project thing called "the speaklisten project." the hope is to create dialogue between the church and outsiders. our college students are pretty excited about it i think.

for more info go to

the site will be updated very soon with the guam information. we're hoping to have the show towards the end of april / early may. we'll see how it goes...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


because i've been thinking about the importance of conversation and two sided dialogue this week, i wanted to share one with you...

it takes place in a coffee shop between college aged people.

girl: so youre a minister huh? hows that work for ya?

guy: well, good i guess. jesus means a lot to me, so it...

girl: (cutting him off) really? i mean, don't shit me here... really? cause you seem like a normal enough guy. you really believe in what youre doing here?

guy: (unable to stop laughing) really. and thanks for thinking i'm normal i guess. but yeah, i'm not feeding you a line. i get to talk about what matters most in my life. i know that may sound dramatic, but its true.

girl: see, i never grew up talking about god a whole lot, and if my mom talked about it with me it was pretty abstract and you know, whatever works for you kinda thing. i think i like it better that way. but i don't know. i do actually try to think about god though... i'd consider myself spiritual for sure.

guy: thats respectable. and responsible. i'm glad you think. too many people don't. what do you think through?

girl: lots of things. i think a great spirit probably hovers over our lives, and it may be love i guess... yeah, if i were to say there was a god it would probably be love in the purest form i guess. does that make sense?

guy: yeah, it does. thats really intresting.

girl: yeah?

guy: well yeah, i haven't ever thought about it like that... when youre thinking, what do you think about Jesus, or do you ever?

girl: hmm... well, honestly i don't think i like the idea of Jesus so much.

guy: (laughing again... probably not the funniest thing he's ever heard, but he laughed because it was surprising) really? usually people at least think he's nice or whatever.

girl: well, i mean yeah. i guess he's nice. i don't know. his name and stuff gets thrown around with all kids of stupid shit. wars, manipulation, big churches...

guy: true. it does. it sucks and makes me real sad.

girl: yeah?

guy: well yeah. because see, i actually like him. i hate how he gets thrown under the bus all the time and hate when we do crazy stuff and say "jesus made me do it" and it makes me sick at my stomach how we make him look sometimes... but him. the real him. he's so exciting and weird and good and kind and crazy and... and... good. and i like him. really, i know that may sound crazy to you but i love the guy. a real, honest, deep... love. i love his self. him. its hard to explain i guess...

girl: no... no, that sounds... i don't know.

guy: crazy?

girl: no. like it sounds right or something. i don't know. or just good. you want another cup of coffee?

guy: sure, ill get you one too. another latte?

and that was it. they got to talk more later, and she brought up faith in conversation a few more times. but during that sit down in the coffee shop, they takled about music, movies, and masters degrees. and the guy was okay with that.

Monday, March 2, 2009

dancing dialogue

here are a few definitions on my mind this week...

dialogue: 1. a conversation between two or more persons 2. an exchange of ideas or opinions on a particular issue, esp. a political or religious issue, with a view to reaching an amicable agreement or settlement.

conversation: informal interchange of thoughts, information, etc., by spoken words, oral communication between persons.

a few words caught my attention. INTERCHANGE and EXCHANGE.

i wonder if the christian community (and myself) might look at these words again and evaluate our use of them. that sounded arrogant, and i don't mean it to be... but really, i wonder if we're very good at conversation and dialogue. i'm worried we've traded them in for discourse or debate or argument.

what if we aren't good listeners sometimes? what if we get louder to make a point? what if we don't give the other party a chance to speak because we worry listening is weak or we're threatened by what someone may say? i worry we've disguised our fear of conversation and dialogue with words like "boldness" and "evangelism techniques." many, in the name of boldness use a bullhorn on a street corner or talk TO a person rather than WITH them. maybe its not because we're bold but because we're timid. too many "techniques" (what a funny word to use when talking about the good news of Jesus) trap people or talk them into a corner (not all of course). they sound rehearsed because they are, which doesn't come off as very genuine.

i'm reminded of an idea in one of my favorite books. the author says inviting someone into the kingdom is more like a dance than a wrestling match. in a dance you give and take, step and pause, you make eye contact, and you're careful with the other person. and a forced dance is called assault. a wrestling match pulls, grimaces, strains, and forces one to submit. in a wrestling match there's a winner and a loser. i think a dance may be better.

more thoughts on dialogue later...