Friday, May 28, 2004

greetings friends and loyal readers. i am sorry for the neglect. on wednesday evening i decided to take advantage of a ridiculously low jetblue fare and jet down to tampa/st. pete for the weekend. so i left the infinite march of massachusetts behind for the beauty of the tropics. good times...

after a few short days of respite, i don't have anything really significant to say, but thought i could at least throw you the following frickin' bone.

life lessons from tampa st. pete

1. occasionally, two year olds can tell a great joke. they then proceed to run it into the ground.

gillian bennett, the eldest daughter of rick and kristi bennett--my gracious hosts, has been running around the house saying 'i'm john kerry and i approve this message.' that was hilarious the first three times i heard it, and has been diminishing in humor ever since.

2. note to self regarding future offspring. when the two year old's attempt to say 'car' comes out 'ca ca,' don't encourage her to connect the unwitting curse to the word 'head.' she's been repeating that phrase, which is the only i've truly 'coined' to date, quite regulary as well.

3. potty training is hell.

4. everyone shares one love language: listening. through prayer and motivational self-talk i tried to remind myself that the best way i could love rick and kristi was to listen to them. of course, i've been offering advice on a wide variety of subjects (not related to child rearing or potty training) for the past 36 hours. Lord, fill me with your Spirit so that I might listen to people, and so love them well.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

to the chagrin of rhetoricians and the barely stifled glee of late night comedians, President Bush has announced plans to make one speech a week until the U.S. Provisional Authority officially "hands over" sovereignty to the Iraqi people on June 30th.

fortunately, the major networks have decided not to televise these offenses to intelligent communication. apparently Americans want their CSI: Hong Kong more than they want this President.

what's your favorite "bush-ism?" mission accomplished? axis of evil?

mine is the following:

"its like they say back in Texas, and probably in Tennessee, 'fool me once, shame fool me can't fool me again!"

kellie and i have watched jim sheridan's In America two times in the past week. if you are interested in experiencing an incredible re-creation of the gospel story, you need to check it out. sheridan stands in a centuries long line of irish storytellers who are able to explore the manner in which the original story of redemption is woven into the joys and struggles, strife and reconciliation of our own lives.

Lord God, we long to have eyes to see, ears to hear, hands to touch, tongues to taste and words to express your gospel in earthy, engaging ways. Thank you for this offering of Jim Sheridan. Enable us to tell your story in a similar way.

Monday, May 24, 2004

lately i have been thinking a lot about tension. it seems to me that tension is one of the most prominent characteristics of the Christian life (i.e., in the world, but not of the world) and of our Savior himself (fully God, yet fully man; his uncanny ability to afflict the comfortable, yet comfort the afflicted). anyway, since this tension motif has been on my mind as of late, i found the following passage from a church planting paper written by Timothy Keller of Redeemer Pres in NYC quite interesting:

"...a gospel centered church should have a social justice emphasis and effectiveness that greatly exceeds the liberal church's. Meanwhile, it should have an evangelistic fervor that greatly exceeds the ordinary fundamentalist church's. a gospel-centered church should combine 'zeals' that are ordinarily never seen together in the same church. this is one of the main ways we make people look twice and take our message seriously."

simple yet profound, eh? now, if i could just learn how to lead a community that incarnates both of these zeals, i'd be getting somewhere.

by the way, my wife just told me to remind you, loyal reader, that i am quite married and unavailable. indeed, the 'pimp driven life' is now far behind me.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

in lieu of an engaging sunday morning service, i bring you an exclusive report on my sunday afternoon melancholy.

over the past year and a half i have been leading sinners and saints christian community and have been a part of the leadership team for city on a hill christian community. city on a hill is a small collective of christian communities (currently including 3 home churches--including s & S, one congregational church and a few affiliated christian workers) that is trying to effectively incarnate the gospel of Christ in the greater boston area. although we don't have a comprehensive vision statement, or the fancy powerpoint presentation that usually accompanies such vision, we are marked by a passion for: proclaiming the gospel in a relational manner, extending Christ's compassion to the weak in our communities (often through organizations like Beverly Bootstraps and doing life together in sacrificial community.

if my explanation of city on a hill seems underdeveloped, that is because our community has little understanding of our identity. for all of our idealism and passion for relational expressions of the church, our network is a mess. our founding pastor recently left in order to tend to the needs of his elderly parents, one of our homechurches has little desire to affiliate with the other two and our leadership currently consists of bi-vocational leaders who often find it difficult to lead a homechurch on a weekly basis, much less cast a vision and provide oversight for an entire network. thus, although i can readily identify signs of life in our little community, including a couple of new members in the past two months and the return of several leaders who have been on hiatus, most days i feel much more jaded than optimistic about our future.

today, has been one of those latter days. this morning, while half-heartedly participating in sunday morning chores, i tried to pray for our fragile little community. i prayed for my afternoon meeting with one of our newest members, i asked God to give me the passion and ability to lead and, mostly, asked God what the hell i am doing in this situation. my earliest ministry experiences were with rapidly developing willowish mega-churches. in those contexts i witnessed dozens of conversions, lived for the excitement of 'pulling off' engaging services and, at my first church, lived for the increasing challenges of growing responsibility. in my current context, i feel like i am failing to provide adequate leadership or helpful vision to a community full of individuals who seem more interested in fulfilling their narcissistic spiritual needs than sacrificially serving the poor or intentionally incarnating the gospel to this hope-less world. i worry that my full-time job is severely limiting my ability to serve and i wonder if i am wasting my gifts on a lark of a ministry.

perhaps these feelings are legitimate or perhaps i am merely afraid of the risks that relational ministry require. but...that's where i'm at right now.

by the way, when i provide such musings i am not begging for affirmation or sympathy, i'm merely sharing the load that is laying upon my chest. thanks for listening.