Sunday, January 31, 2010

Godspeed, WayPoint!

Shortly after I arrived here on the Peninsula, one of the local churches lost their building to a fire. The former Vaughn Church has been somewhat homeless ever since.

Tonight, WayPoint Church officially dedicated their brand-spanking-new home, right alongside the highway out of town. It's a beautiful building, and a great platform for all sorts of future ministry. God has been good to them.

And they are in good hands. Pastor Tim is an excellent, compassionate, and fun pastor. Their youth pastor isn't such a bad guy, either. I think they are poised to do some powerful work for the Kingdom.

So congratulations Pastor Tim and all of WayPoint Church - on behalf of Lakebay Community Church, we're happy for you!

Friday, January 29, 2010

The good thing about blogging and social networking

The whole time I was at midwinter, people kept asking "how's your eye doing?" And yesterday at breakfast I met a young man, a youth pastor who had used one of my blog posts to stimulate conversation with his youth staff.

I was reminded again of the good ways, the powerful ways that technology can be used to maintain worldwide friendships and connections. A nice walk with Ann, a brief conversation with Randall, a coffee hour with Dale, even a two-minute 'hello' with Brad - all people with whom I primarily connect through email, blogging, and facebook. And all those conversations were richer because we communicate online throughout the year.

It's good to remember there are real people and real lives on the other end of these computer connections. And it's also good to find out people are checking in on my life, as well. Relationship - that's what's so important. And I was glad to discover again that technology really can enrichen real-life relationships.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Book Review: Mark Greene - The Best Idea in the World



The Best Idea in the World is a deceptively simple book, calling the Church back to its primary calling of loving God and loving others.

The idea, of course, is both profound and essential, the lifelong task of all who take their faith seriously. The commands are there, we know the call, but how to live it out in our 21st Century world seems to elude many.

This is the exciting part of Greene's work. While he lays a good biblical groundwork, while he does his theology, he spends the bulk of his time exploring what love and relationship look like to those just trying to survive, to make it through today, to the lonely and the lost and the broken. Through story, example, and suggestion, Greene offers help in learning to live out our call in the marketplace, in the train station, in the office, at home, in our churches. Real people and their very real problems pepper the pages of The Best Idea. This is not so much a book for pastors as for those who get up and head to the public workplace every day.

But let me be clear about something else: while making the case that it is our call and duty to love God and love others, Greene shows us that this is no drudgery, no mundane task, no law to be followed. For it all begins with the fact that God loves us, that God chooses to be in relation to us. That God is present, seen in Jesus and the Spirit; that God is faithful and will never leave, that God is close to us and for us in this world. We can experience the fulfillment of our own deepest longings, our own loneliness, our own quiet desperation as we live into our relationship with God. As we do that, we can turn and share that love with the world around us. And as we do, we will see God's Kingdom lived out in our lives, and in the lives of those around us.

As I said, it's also a simple book. The kind that takes a couple days to read, the kind you can carry along and read in the waiting room of your doctor's office (I did) or on a plane flight (my current location). It's the kind of book that skims along nicely, and then arrests your thinking with a profound nugget, forcing you to stop and reconsider the ways you live in the world, the choice you make, the ways you treat people around you. If you're not the type to read much, even if you don't think you have time to read, this is the book for you. Interesting, stimulating, full of stories, the kind of book with real feet on the real ground. And it's about the most important thing on earth, so it can't hurt to give it a go. I recommend that you do.

Thanks to Zondervan for sending me a free copy for use in this review.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Denver

I've been in Denver this week for the annual Covenant Midwinter Conference. And I'm having a good time.

Each Midwinter is different for me; some have been about encouragement, some about growing and learning, some about worship. This one seems to have been all about connecting. Beginning with the plane flight out, it's been one good conversation after another.

Of course, that first conversation definitely rates as memorable; Doug and I sat next to a woman who practices acutonic therapy - acupuncture using sound instead of needles. She rings a planetary gong and reads your spirit, and then applies sound to release healing and realign your body and soul with the positive energy of the universe. Or something along those lines, anyway.

Since then I've sat and talked with old friends from California and Oregon, connected with a few missionaries we know; tonight I enjoyed coffee with Dale Kuehne, author of Sex and the IWorld, a book I reviewed not long ago on this blog. After that, I went to dinner with the youth pastor at Cornerstone, the church I served in California before heading up to Washington. We had a quick meeting of the Feast 2011 team, as well, which got me excited once again for that whole endeavor. Oh - and I've had the joy of meeting face-to-face with a number of people I usually only see online, which is definitely a pleasure.

On the whole, the worship has been rich, and most of the speakers have been encouraging and challenging. Tonight I had the privilege of being one of the communion severs. It was a powerful experience. Even at Lakebay, I hand the elements off to the servers and let them serve, so it's rare that I get to stand and watch face after face pass by, experiencing the risen Christ right in front of me. It was good.

Tomorrow we fly home, stopping briefly in Salt Lake City, a place I've never been. And I hope to resurrect this blog sometime soon upon returning. For now. . .I need to go pack the suitcase.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

sorry

I know this place has been a little quiet as of late.

I've been wondering lately about frequency, and the pressing need to always say something witty and charming and intelligent; wondering if I posted a little less, would I be able to think more deeply and broadly, process a few things at a more soul-ful place. Wondering, if I blogged a little less, would I actually write with greater impact.

That, and I've been spending a lot of free time charting out some orchestral parts for Easter. I know, it's still three months away. But I figure if I can do one part per song every couple nights, that's going to take a couple months. So better to work at it now, and not panic later.

And it will be glorious,. Easter at Lakebay with brass, cello, woodwind. It might just be a "Happy Day," since we know that "My Redeemer Lives" and he is "Mighty to Save." Once all is said and done, we should be able to rejoice over "What the Lord Has Done in Me,' knowing that "I Will Rise' because of his accomplished work.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

For those of you following the story of my eyeball

The doctor who performed my corneal transplant is based over in Seattle, a good 90 minute drive away. He recommended I find a local optometrist to take care of my day-to-day needs, including fitting me with a new pair of contacts. I found one out here who took our insurance, and went in to her office, hopeful and excited that I would be entering into a new day of painless vision.

The day I first visited, the primary doctor was out, and a sub was there in her place.

To put it kindly, he didn't know what he was doing. Without going into detail, he had no idea how to handle the fact that I'd had a transplant (hint: it shouldn't have mattered at all. But he wouldn't accept that).

Still, he ordered me a contact; the regular optometrist, for whom he was covering, suggested I try it out, and we'd go from there.

I tried it out. It worked. Sort of. But not really.

I went back to see my surgeon, a corneal specialist. He looked through his machine at my eye, and groaned. Or was it a laugh?

But I was due back at my new optometrist the next week, so I went in. She agreed it didn't fit, and told me she would order a new one.

That was well before Thanksgiving. I haven't heard a word back from her, since. I did stop by her office right after Christmas and left a message, but still no word.

So I went back for my check-up with the corneal surgeon. He looked (again) through his machine. This time he swore. "It looks like they just grabbed any old contact and threw it on there."

So we're on to plan B, which involves heading over to Seattle and letting the specialist fit me with the *correct* lens.

Oh, and this from the specialist.

"You seem to have a little cataract in your right eye. Your left eye, too. Nothing to worry about, except it's rare in somebody as young as you."

And the journey continues. . .

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How to help Haiti

There are a lot of places now collecting donations to help with the disaster relief in Haiti. Many of these are excellent relief agencies and worthy of our trust.

But if you need help figuring out where to donate, might I suggest:

Covenant World Relief

One Day's Wages

World Vision

Compassion International (they have over 65,000 kids under their sponsorship in Haiti)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Do you remember this moment?

It's one that has stuck with me. Maybe the one Olympic Moment that I remember above all others.

Perhaps because I was living just a little north of Calgary at the time, and had the opportunity to experience a bit of the 1988 Winter Olympics. We'd spent time in Calgary, headed up to Lake Louise for a weekend, taking in the visions of athletes swirling past, the colors of nations, the breathless excitement at potential medal winners, the beauty of the Canadian Rockies.

Brian Orser, the Canadian, was up against Brian Boitano, the American, for the gold in men's figure skating. Being an American in Canada, I took pride in Boitano's victory, and no little smug satisfaction in the disappointment of the Canadians around me.

But then, at the post-competition skating exhibition, Orser came out and skated this, a dance of beauty perfectly matched by a beautiful song. I'm no figure skating fan, really. But this took my breath away; the poignancy is breathtaking; truly a transcendent moment. There might be disappointment at missing the gold, and yet with one song he swept that aside. I don't really remember much about Boitano. . .but when I think of the Winter Olympics, this is the one moment I remember above all others.



The story of my life is very plain to read
It starts the day you came, it ends the day you leave
The story of my life begins and ends with you
the names are still the same, and the story's still the truth


I was alone, you found me waiting and made me your own
I was afraid that somehow I never could be
the man that you wanted of me


You're the story of my life, and every word is true
Each chapter sings your name, each page begins with you
It's the story of our time, and never letting go
And if I died today, I wanted you to know


Stay with me here, share with me, care with me
stay and be near
And when it began, I'd lie awake every night
just knowing somewhere deep inside
that our affair just might write


The story of my life, it's so very plain to read
It starts the day you came,
and ends the day you leave

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Book Review: Think Orange



Reggie Joiner is rightfully concerned that the Church, in general, isn't doing a very good job at family ministry. At youth ministry. At children's ministy. He's also rightfully concerned that families are struggling like never before, and that, in that struggle, our society is facing turmoil and upheaval at its core. Think Orange, the book and the philosophy, is his response, a challenge to the church to partner with the family in order to raise up generations who know what it is to walk "in the way," and in order to strengthen families in the here and now.

Joiner's primary image is this: The church is called to shine the Light of Christ in the world, illuminating the work of Christ and drawing people to Christ. (Hint: Light is represented by yellow). Families are the heart and soul of society, families are the primary location people learn of love, acceptance, sacrifice, and relationships. (Hint: Love is represented by red (think Valentine's Day)). When you mix red and yellow you get -what? Orange!

This is the heart of Think Orange - mixing red and yellow. The problem, according to Joiner, is that families are struggling to survive, parents are struggling to raise their children, young people are leaving the Church for the world in droves. . .and the Church is over in the corner, running programs that seem to have no effect in helping any of these problems. The Church, it seems, has developed a host of programs and ministries that help the individual groups: children, youth, and adult, but none of these maintain any synchronicity with a larger plan. The childrens' ministry does its thing, youth ministries do their thing, and adults go their way to study the theology of the minor prophets. Then families go home and struggle to make sense of it all in a confused and confusing world. As Joiner laments, "Most churches are characterized by random acts of ministry to the family." Parents have no idea how to impact the spiritual life of their children. Children don't know how to navigate the multiple messages that bombard them day in and out. Youth have no clue how all this 'church stuff' impacts their larger life.

The answer, says Joiner, is for the church and family to combine forces. "What we should really be concerned about is our collective ability to influence a generation to have a stronger, deeper, and more authentic relationship with God." All of this he summarizes with two important points:

1. Kids need parents who will help them advance in their relationship with God.
2. Parents need churches that will help them know how to be spiritual leaders.

Think Orange is not, then, another book on catchy childrens' ministry. It is, instead, a complete reworking of the junction where churches and families come together to disciple, raise, cherish, teach, and lead children and youth in their pursuit of Christ.

A couple of strengths of this book:
1) One of the earlier chapters lays out an impressive theology of family, something sorely lacking in the overall discussion.
2) The book is biblical - while it includes cultural references and sociological research, the ideas and plans are all soundly based within a biblical framework of ministry.
3) The book has lots of pictures and charts.
4) The book recognizes the reality that no family or church is perfect, that setting impossible standards only frustrates people; it is realistic in the goals it sets out, while still setting a high bar in pushing us toward excellence.
5) The book is a great place to even start the discussion. I bought a couple extra copies for a few people in our church, and hope this stimulates us toward new growth and a stronger overall sense of mission.
6) The book comes with a host of resources, and is backed up by Joiner's Orange Leaders website.
7) If anything, the book will challenge and stimulate your own thinking regarding how you go about your family ministry, the assumptions behind it, and why it may or may not be working very well.

A couple things about which I wasn't quite so impressed:
1) Honestly, at times the whole "orange" metaphor seemed a little stretched. By the time the metaphor was presented, I could have done without the multiple examples of Orange showing up in society. Perhaps, to this reader, it came too close to "cutesy" at that point. So what if somebody sells an orange amp? It doesn't seem to matter to the rest of the book.
2) There were other times when it seemed Joiner was writing primarily to large churches with multiple staff and large creativity budgets. The idea of regularly re-painting your children's area to go with that quarter's theme seems fun and exciting, but how many churches have the people and the finances to do that? Of course, the response would be that we all need to read with discerning ears and take away what we can, but I would have enjoyed some examples of how small churches with small budgets and small, over-committed volunteer staffs can bring these ideas to fruition.

Overall, I am glad somebody sent me a copy of Think Orange. I confess I probably wouldn't have picked it up myself, and I wasn't all that eager to dig into it, but once I did (mostly on a flight to Denver last November), I found myself drawn in, challenged, and encouraged by the vision it contains. As I said, I'm hoping it influences the vision and work of our church; I think it would be of value to any and all who are concerned about families and those who minister with and to them.

Friday, January 01, 2010

New Years Day, in the woods

The day began with three deer in the yard, two with pretty nice racks on their heads. For 10 minutes K and I watched them do the playful headbutt thing. Just as I commented "how amazing is it to live in a place where we get to watch bucks at play in our yard," a bald eagle swooped down and strafed the field, soaring high into the tree overlooking the yard.

Tonight on the drive home from our little Rose Bowl party, a red fox stood beside the road, silently watching me pass by. It's our own little nature preserve out in the woods, and beauty added to a brand new year.

Fitting, since the only wildlife we saw at the end of the last year was the drug deal I broke up in the church parking lot last night.