Thursday, September 30, 2010

mobile camp

I met today with Tim Lyon, the founder and director of Quakerdale's Mobile Camp. After meeting for only a short time with Tim, one discovers the calling, the prayer, the persistence, and the passion Tim has for Mobile Camp, a five day Christian day camp on wheels. In fact, I met Tim two years ago in March, when he approached me with his vision of running a five day camp in multiple locations over the summer. Just three months shy of summer, Tim had no staff, very little money, but loads of vision and enthusiasm. I prayed with him and encouraged him to shoot for one, maybe two camps that first summer. June arrived and Tim was staffed and funded for five camps. Oh me of little faith...I forgot to include God in the math!

This year, Tim and staff led four mobile camps: two in Waterloo, one in Marshalltown, and one in Des Moines, reaching out to 180 kids. As you can see in the video, the camp staff does a great job over five days in bringing community leaders in, playing zany games, building caring community, loving kids, and sharing Christ with joy. Mobile Camp, not strongly funded or widely promoted, is a little diamond in the rough in our community.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

kisses from katie

I urge you to spend a little time on the Kisses from Katie blog today. (see link on left) Katie doesn't post frequently, but when she does (as she did yesterday), I sit with her posts cutting into my heart and mind and life for days after. Oh, God....

Sunday, September 26, 2010

book recommendation

The Invisible by Arloa Sutter.

I met Arloa in Chicago last month during CCDA. A group took a field trip to Breakthrough Urban Ministries of which Arloa is the founder and executive director, and Arloa led a workshop on ways to connect the rich and the poor.

I love the challenge and beauty found in Arloa's writing as she shares her story of living and working in an inner city neighborhood of Chicago. Arloa does an excellent job addressing the following questions found in her book:

"As wealthy Christians in America, what is our responsibility toward the poor? Is there a better way than guilt and obligation? Can we really experience the blessing of God by being engaged with the poor? Can we learn about our own poverty from those who know their reliance on God for their very survival? Can we be blessed by understanding our own poverty and need for God?"

Saturday, September 25, 2010

classic Saturday

From Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510) in her writing entitled Life and Teachings.

"The selfishness that is within us, however, is so contrary to God that God cannot induce us to do his will except by a clever strategy: promising us greater things than what the world can give-even in this life- and promising a kind of consolation that the world does not know. God does this, I think, because he knows how much we are attached to pleasure. He knows that we are the kind who will not leave our one little toy unless we are offered four!

If we could see what we will receive in the life to come (as a reward for what we have done here), we would cease to occupy ourselves with anything but the things of heaven."

Friday, September 24, 2010

life within

The upper left picture is of my son, Nathan, with one of his best buddies, Ben. Nathan was planning to go to Ben's house after school Wed., so I was surprised at 9:30 a.m. Wed. to hear the special ringtone on my phone that Nathan has rigged for incoming calls from Ben. Our conversation went something like this.

"Hi Ben. It's 9:30 a.m., aren't you in school today?"
"Hi Laura. No, at 3:30 in the morning we had to take my mom to the hospital because she was having really bad stomach cramps and abdomen pains."
"Oh, no. Is she okay?"
"Ya. She didn't know she was pregnant, and I had a baby sister!"
Stunned silence. "Beeeeeeen, are you joking with me?"
"No, really! I have a baby sister! I'm so excited!"

It's true. In some miraculous manner, Baby McKinlee grew to 5 pounds 7 ounces inside Amanda over 36 weeks without Amanda being aware she was pregnant. Her monthly cycle stayed the same, she didn't pooch out like most of us mamas do, and she felt no baby movement. Isn't that crazy?! They went to the ER thinking she was having an appendicitis attack, and instead she had a baby right there in the ER! What a beautiful life, a blessing, a miracle!

I've been thinking of this so much over the past few days. In my prayers this morning, as I prayed for their family, God reminded me that I have life dwelling within me. The life of Christ lives within me, and it is my prayer that I live my days aware of this, nurturing and yielding to this life so that His life flows out of me. This, too, is a beautiful life, a blessing, a miracle!

Check out the video below from last night's newscast:


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

what questions are you leading by?

Brenda Salter-McNeil, in her workshop at CCDA, spent a good portion of the time finding out what the most pressing questions are in the audience around the topic of multi-racial churches.

She then went on to say that her organization has been studying a model of change called the S curve. She said that at the bottom of the S curve, where it's most chaotic...where people are groping in the dark...where there's no structure and people are asking, "Lord, show me what you're doing and what we should do next."....That's the place where the most questions are being asked and the most innovation is going on.

Salter-McNeil stated, "Where innovation stops in organizations is when we stop leading by questions and start leading by answers. Where questions are the driving force, innovation is happening."

What questions are keeping you up at night these days?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Picnic in the Park

Though Picnic in the Park was a rainy 50 degrees yesterday, it was a great day in the park!

* We mastered the canopies without Brian Carr present! Terrell, Perry, and Al, along with Carolyn, myself, and my children (and some hints from Craig Patterson) figured out how all those poles fit together! Hurray!

* There were fewer people in the park for the meal due to weather, but it seemed like there was an even greater sense of community because of that. (Could it have been because we were literally all huddling closer together under two canopies?!)

* The spirit and hospitality of the OHC volunteers was awesome. Thanks to Jean Gedlinske for walking over to Harvest's clothes closet and picking out some coats that would fit some of our more dressed-for-summer friends in the park.

* A friend in the park talked with me about her restless night's sleep under the bridge the night before. Her story, along with the story of so many others, gives me strength as I witness the strength God has given so many to endure through hardship, to look out for one another and rely on one another for survival, to persevere in a spirit of hope and gratitude.

giving and receiving

I would be a fool to think I have only to give to those who are considered "least, lost, last" in our society and nothing to receive. In my experience, this often gets turned on its head, and Jesus gives me more than I can ask or imagine.

Yesterday at Picnic in the Park, Diane, a faithful park guest, walked up to me with a gift bag, telling me that she had made a gift for me. Inside was a beautiful hand-crocheted lap blanket. "God gave me the gift of crocheting, and I use it to bless people," she said.

I was touched, surprised, humbled. I received the warmth of love from both God and Diane on this wet, cold Picnic in the Park Sunday. The gifts don't always come in the form of a tangible blanket like today, but God most definitely has much for my heart to receive about loving God and loving neighbor each time I'm at the park.

How about you? Can you share an experience of giving that turned into an experience of receiving?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

a Walnut vision

Waterloo has many admirable initiatives and many committed people working tirelessly to affect positive change in people and places which are considered under-resourced. What if there was a collective vision and entire neighborhood in which restoration was happening with Jesus Christ as the central leader and motivation?

What if salvation isn't only about individuals but is communal as well? What if Christ came to save our souls but also our cities and our systems? What if because of the redemption we have experienced personally, we respond in gratitude and allow God to work through us as individuals and families in His redemptive mission for our community?

What if we became the people spoken of in Isaiah 58:12, "Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called repairer of broken walls, restorer of streets with dwellings."?

What if we concentrated on doing it together in a concentrated location?

I believe it might look like the following vision in the Walnut Neighborhood of Waterloo:

- Imagine LinK Christian Community Development Corporation birthing with the commitment of neighbors and the Body of Christ to link arms and fuse lives in order to work together for the development of people and places in order to be all that God intended for us. Linking people. Linking places. Linking with the mission of Christ.
- Imagine a mix of income and race moving into the neighborhood to live together as neighbors and friends. Imagine streets safe to play on, relocators purposely moving in to link with Christ's mission of reconciliation and transformation. Imagine people taking the risk together to join with those who have found community and solidarity in the struggles commonly found in under-resourced neighborhoods. Imagine gentrification happening with justice.
- Imagine Harvest Vineyard continuing to reach out wholistically through their church in the neighborhood. Sharing the truth and love of Christ in word and deed, discipling and empowering people, shining Christ's light as a beacon in the neighborhood.
- Imagine Harvest adding on an arm to their church with a transitional home for men in the neighborhood. Imagine linking together to rehab a house on Walnut St. that was built in 1908 and is a beautiful, historic presence in the neighborhood.
- Immanuel Lutheran School/Church, the corner and the gateway of the neighborhood, is now for sale. Imagine if Christ wanted to use it to serve and empower the neighborhood? Imagine the programs and outreach that could be headquartered there!
- There's a beautiful old, huge home that has been divided into four apartments in the neighborhood. Imagine LinK CCDC acquiring the home, rehabbing it, and having it serve as a "graduation" apt. unit for men from the transitional program.
- Imagine if new homes were built on the many vacant lots to fit the historic neighborhood look and provide housing opportunities for people of mixed incomes.
- Imagine Chuckster's, Sookies, the urban clothing store, Talk Shop Cafe, Poor Boys Soul Food, and the Candy Shop all benefitting from the life in the neighborhood. Imagine more businesses locating along that stretch of 4th Street so that the neighborhood increases its economic vitality.
- Imagine friends who are well-resourced stewarding their passions and their professional and leadership gifts for the glory of God to empower and develop leaders from the neighborhood.
- Imagine a neighborhood where the kids get several positive "touches" a day from caring adults. Where they have a network of adults who know them, encourage them, mentor them....neighbors, coaches, tutors, program leaders, friends of the neighborhood who live and/or spend time in the neighborhood. Imagine kids coming to Christ, graduating from high school, going to college, with some coming back to continue being change agents for Jesus.
-Imagine if other churches inside and outside the neighborhood join the vision of being "with" the neighborhood not just "in" the neighborhood or "for" the neighborhood. What if the Church began to reflect "Thy Kingdom come on earth" as we act in Christ to be his love, his hands and feet, his voice in the neighborhood?
-Imagine that the non-profits in the neighborhood feel supported and included in theneighborhood. House of Hope, Boys n Girls Club, LilyFergurson Daycare, Lutheran Social Services. What if they caught the whole vision and became partners and players in it? What if the Body of Christ brought the vision to them by loving and serving within those non-profits?
- Imagine people pooling together to assist home owners in the neighborhood who are aging and who have aging homes. Last Spring, a few small groups from Harvest and Orchard Hill helped two of these home owners by cleaning, painting, and doing minor repairs. What if that became the mission of a group of handymen, women, and youth? What if we even intentionally taught folks job skills in the work that's being done?
- What if it was a common sight to see small groups of people prayer walking through the neighborhood and praying for/with neighbors?
- What if it was a common sight to see the neighborhood celebrating together...whether it be at the Triangle Park or another common area? We saw this vision as reality in August at the National Neighborhood Night Out. A grand party with about 150 neighbors and friends in the neighborhood. Imagine authentic and deep community being experienced.
-Imagine Christ mutually growing people across economic, racial, cultural lines so that each person grows more fully in their identity and purpose in Christ.

What if there was a shared vision with the Gospel being the very reason for and power by which all takes place? Who knows how God might shape the vision and play it out, but I do believe we are not to re-create and multiply ourselves to maintain the systems and the economy of separation that currently exists. God wants to do something new, and I believe He's calling us into this new thing.

Isaiah 43:19 "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

classic Saturday

Thomas Kelly (1893-1941) in his work A Testament of Devotion, writes about how we are to develop the habit of ordering our mental life on more than one level may be active and busy in our outer life, but at the same time we have ordered our inner life to be in ongoing prayer and adoration.

"There is a way of ordering our mental life on more than one level at once. On one level we may be thinking, discussing, seeing, calculating, meeting all the demands of external affairs. But deep within, behind the scenes, at a profounder level, we may also be in prayer and adoration, song and worship and a gentle receptiveness to divine breathings.

Between these two levels is fruitful interplay, but ever the accent must be upon the deeper level, where the soul dwells in the presence of the Holy One, forever bringing all affairs of the first level down into the Light, holding them there in the Presence, reseeing them in a new and more overturning way and responding to them in spontaneous, incisive, and simple ways of love and faith."

Kelly suggests repeating inwardly, over and over, short and simple breath prayers, and to keep coming back to that prayer when we recognize that we've forgotten God for an interval. Progress comes with much practice and grace.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

communicating vision- a tour of Lawndale

The best way, perhaps, to share the vision of CCDA with you, is to give you a brief picture of Lawndale, a neighborhood in Chicago. Thirty years ago, Coach Wayne Gordon, his wife, Anne, and their Bible Study youth began a church in North Lawndale. Over the past 20 years, by loving God and loving their neighborhood, Lawndale is now a concrete example of Christian Community Development. We spent the afternoon there last Thursday. Let me walk you briefly through the photos in this post.

First pic. is Theo. Theo was our magnificent tour guide. He's a member of Lawndale Community Church, is a certified clown (literally), and works with kids. I loved hearing Coach Gordon publicly edify Theo and affirm him as a "pied-piper to kids". The next photo is a pic of the gym at the Health Center. This is where Lawndale church services are held on Sunday mornings. We took a walk through the health center and fitness wing, a 30,000 sq. ft. bldg that has created 350 jobs for the neighborhood. Just down the block, Lawndale Christian Community Development Corporation has purchased land for a 60,000 sq. ft. addition to the health center that will have 15 dental units, several more doctor offices, and more jobs for people.

Hope House and Lou Malnati's Pizza Place work in conjunction with each other. Hope House is a transitional program for men in recovery, and part of the program helps them to get work. Lou Manati's teaches them job skills and by working for no pay there, they "pay their rent" at Hope House. It's a beautiful partnership. The Malnati Restaurant chain guarantees a paying job at any of their restaurants across Chicago for any man who puts in 800 volunteer hours there.

The next few photos depict a fire house purchased by Lawndale Christian Development Corp. It is being renovated into a youth art center that will have recording studios and music laboratories on the main floor, a culinary arts school on the top floor and rental space upstairs for groups to rent for parties while young people learning the culinary arts cater to the party groups.

Next on the tour, we visited the youth center which houses a technology/computer center where skills are taught to young people. The next photo shows the progress being made on an apartment complex a few blocks away called the MLK apartment complex. Martin Luther King Jr. actually lived on the site at one time. These apartments will be for mixed income renters, and look beautiful. Next photo, is a bldg that looks like an old school being used for youth programs and for legal counsel. Lawndale CDC has hired a lawyer who moved into the neighborhood and is a legal advocate for people in the neighborhood. The building also houses a Jobs for Life program, helping people to grow sustainable work habits and skills and helping them to secure and keep employment.

The last two pictures are just two of a long, long block of greystones that have been renovated in the neighborhood. Absolutely beautiful.

I didn't even take a picture of the church. You can't tell from the outside that it is a church, actually...if it weren't for the lettering on the outside of the building "Lawndale Community Church". The church offices and space are housed in a couple existing buildings along the road...all extended property gained after their church started up in a little store front that is now just a part of the row of buildings they own along the block.

So, that's some of the "look" of Lawndale, but let me share the "heart" of Lawndale. Here's the deal:

1. Though the physical development of the neighborhood is very impressive, it's nothing compared to the development of people that has and is happening at Lawndale. Everywhere we went, Lawndale members were welcoming us with joy, teaching and inspiring us, and love was the supreme feel. We met many indigenous people leading programs and ministries, and we met many relocators who have moved in to join the neighborhood to share life and gifts in community. You couldn't help but feel like God-given gifts were being exercised and human potential was being pursued with great passion, freedom, and intention. Everywhere we went the word DIGNITY came to my mind.

2. All we met were clearly on the same mission. The heart and soul of Lawndale is Jesus Christ. Their mission of "loving God, loving people" is tangibly experienced. God was unashamedly glorified and community was palpable.

I'm reading a book called Jim and Casper Go To Church. Casper, an open-minded atheist, joins Jim, a devoted follower, on a "field trip" to several kinds of churches throughout the U.S., and he shares his reactions and observations. One of their field trips was to Lawndale, and after several pages of dialogue about what Casper experienced at Lawndale, his conversation with Jim at the end of the section goes like this:

"This church integrates Scripture with deeds with proof. ...To someone like me who doesn't believe there is a literal God that we're going to meet someday in the sky, a God that can't be proven otherwise...well, to me, proof of good deeds like they deliver here at Lawndale count more than anything..."

"So let me get this straight," Jim said to Casper. "You're saying that Lawndale is providing the kind of compelling evidence someone could reasonably point to as evidence of a God being active in and through people?"

"Yeah, Jim. I am. And I'm also saying that even though I don't believe in God, I see evidence of the idea of God being a good thing, a great thing, right here at Lawndale." p. 71

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

forming a guiding coalition

For being an association thousands strong, Christian Community Development Association does an amazing job of forming a guiding coalition that is strong from the center out. First and foremost, this group emphasizes and reminds one another continuously of their guiding philosophy and core values that come from Scripture. Secondly, you can find this coalition modeling and living out the philosophy and core values. Thirdly, you can find this group in deep and authentic friendships with one another...sharing life and ministry together with love and passion. This apostolic community is magnetic. Much like the Early Church, this community draws people unto itself...even though much of their mission requires sacrifice and mess in life. The result is one that I've felt at every one of the four conferences I've been to...a sense of family.

Locally, I've watched who God begin to draw together "a guiding coalition" of sorts over the past few years. As God continues to lead us forward in CCD work, those involved must be involved in some corporate practices:
- praying and discerning together - developing honest friendships and relationship
- sharing stories - serving together - reading Scripture
-encouraging one another -being challenged and inspired through books, speakers, field trips - recognizing one another's unique giftedness

Monday, September 13, 2010

a sense of urgency here

"1 Killed in Shooting" was last night's local frontpage headline. Our Cedar Valley is no stranger to the problems that are plaguing our cities across the country. What is the responsibility of God's people but to be light in the darkness, love in the hate, hope in the despair?

One thing I love about ccda is that it is church-based. The Church throughout history has always extended herself and addressed the pain of society...feeding the hungry, visiting the imprisoned, caring for the sick...with the love and hope and promise of Jesus. Here's how the ccda web-site words it:

"It is the writer's position that nothing other than the community of God's people is capable of affirming the dignity of the poor and enabling them to meet their own needs. It is practically impossible to do effective wholistic ministry apart from the local church. A nurturing community of faith can best provide the thrusts of evangelism, discipleship, spiritual accountability, and relationships by which disciples grow in their walk with God. One problem today has been that the church is not involved in developing its communities. Often, the church has been an unfriendly neighbor in communities across our country. Churches are guilty of being open only on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights and being almost irrelevant to the needs of the people around them. Because of this, many para-church organizations have started to do the work of loving their neighbor that the church had neglected. Christian Community Development sees the church as taking action towards the development of its community."

When I compare the needs and gifts of my church homes to the needs and gifts of the under-resourced community, I see puzzle pieces that fit beautifully together for mutual growth and development. When I'm at Harvest, I see a ccda church in action...a community of faith in love with Jesus, wholistically ministering to many who've been marginalized- working to empower, disciple, develop folks. When I'm at Orchard, I see a faith community in love with Jesus and full of joy, full of love for kids, full of leadership and professional gifts and skills. When I'm around the Walnut neighborhood, I experience a solidarity born out of shared struggle and need for one another and a longing for something better. As I weave my way in and out of these three communities, I cannot help but think we are all meant for one another. What better time than right now to begin to link together so that Christ might redeem broken lives and places, and so that His people might reflect His life and light to a watching world?

creating a sense of urgency-ccda

A few years' back when I was going to Dallas for the Missional Renaissance Leadership Community, Reggie McNeal suggested that we come up with a BHAG for our congregation (big hairy audacious goal). He then said that we need to do the following things to get moving on the BHAG: 1. Create a sense of urgency 2. Form a guiding coalition 3. Create and communicate vision 4. Create short-term wins

CCDA has the goal of restoring under-resourced communities throughout our nation. That's a big, hairy, audacious goal. In the Cedar Valley, we believe we are being called to set up a model of a neighborhood practicing Christian Community Development. That too is a big, hairy, audacious goal. As I come back from the CCDA conference, I'd like to spend this week processing and blogging the conference in terms of these four a ccda level and at a local level.

Creating a sense of urgency- ccda

From what I heard at this year's conference, the reality of our society today looks like a Body of Christ that is largely being held captive to culture and a world growing in fear and hate. The conference speakers didn't spend a great amount of time painting a picture of the injustices in our cities and around our globe (probably because most attendeees are working in the trenches and are well aware of the deep brokenness), but if you only open the paper, turn on the news, or explore a few topics, you will see suffering and pain of people everywhere on the increase. Broken families, broken systems, drugs, crime, poverty, racism and discrimination...far and wide is the darkness.

I heard the passion and urgency in Perkins' voice telling us to make sure Christ is our solid rock. That we workers of the Kingdom have indeed received the King's forgiveness and are hidden in Him. That Christ is our righteousness and that our lives are the "outliving of the inliving of Jesus". We are to continue on the work of Christ in the power and love of the Holy Spirit. Perkins stressed urgency in getting back to a true, Biblical Christianity and that we listen to God and seek His will, not our own.

He urged Christ's Church toward receiving Christ, discipleship, and service.

He urged Christ's Church toward love and unity.

He urged Christ's Church toward courage and suffering.

He urged Christ's Church to take the Gospel to the children.

Only as we abide in Christ will become a Justice League...loving and working with God to establish His desired will, His Kingdom, here on earth.

Perkins noted several times that the next generation has a thirst and longing to be a part of this be a part of something bigger than look and be different than the culture around us and to make a positive and lasting difference. The Church's responsibility is to disciple and equip them for Kingdom mission.

Perkins most definitely creates a sense of urgency as he admonishes Christ's people to continue the work of Christ on earth and to throw off that which is causing us to stumble.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

classic Saturday

I suppose I should rename this weekly post "classic weekend", as I often to tend to blog this on Sunday rather than Saturday!

Anywho, this week I read an excerpt from Interior Castle written by Teresa of Avila (1515-1582). She wrote of stages of prayer through the analogy of traveling through a castle. Just a bit from this selection:

"God appeals to us through other good people, through sermons, or through the reading of good books. Sometimes he calls through our sicknesses and our trials as he bids us to pray. However feeble such prayers may be, God values them highly."

What people, sermons, books has God used to appeal to you as of late?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

race results

Running with my daughter this summer has resulted in so much more than the physical benefits of the sport. Though it's been terrific to have an avenue of regular physical fitness, even greater have been the benefits of time spent together, being outside in nature, the confidence I've seen grow in Sara, and all the spiritual growth parallels made on the journey. Lessons like: Encouragement makes a big difference. Consistent training over a long period of time equals progress. Perseverance pays off. Discipline is important. Set your mind on the goal. Finish strong.
Today, we ran the 10k that we set as a goal in June. Gorgeous morning. Lots of enthusiasm on the course, and it was just so exciting to feel the adrenalin in the run. We ran the best time we've run together, and what's even more fun is that Sara got 2nd place and her best bud, Kalleigh, got 1st place in the female under 19 category! p.s. They were the only females who ran the 10k in that age division. :)

Friday, September 10, 2010


CCDA is committed to justice for the immigrant. The association believes the United States is in a defining moment in its history in regards to beliefs, practices, and policies around immigration. Therefore, you can hear and see at this conference their desire to grow our awareness.

Daniel Carroll, a speaker at the conference and an OT professor at Denver Seminary, is asking Christians to engage conversation. He knows this is difficult because of politics and polarization. He unpacked two questions he had for us:

1. Where do we begin the conversation?
With statistics? No. With talk about drugs, terrorists, border wars? No. How about with the Bible? He admonished the majority culture to sit with the Bible open and learn about God's heart for the alien, the immigrant. He encouraged us to be reminded from God's Word how each neighbor on this earth is made in the image of God and has value. Each person has potential and has gifts to bring to the table. He exhorted the minority culture to be reminded through God's Word how God is with each person on the journey.

2. Who are we in the conversation?
We need to struggle with our loyalties. Are we Americans or Christians first? Where is our true citizenship? Can we love people and work through wisdom, advocacy, and our God-given creativity to reform the laws so that they are compassionate and just?

I have largely chosen to keep immigration off my radar. "I don't have time for one more cause." "God isn't calling me to this issue". Unacceptable. As a follower of Christ who is to care about the things that Jesus would care about....I have the responsibility to at least become aware, be touched by people's stories, to grow God's heart for people within me and to share God's heart for people with others through conversation.

This is one of my "put into practice" take aways from the conference. I will no longer just bypass articles that speak about immigration. I will commit to reading and opening my mind up to this issue this year and ask God to open my heart through the learning.

ccda Chicago group

Shy a few people, this is our group that is in Chicago at the Christian Community Development Association conference. A powerfully good time together of worship, inspiration, learning, and challenge for Christ's people.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

ccda chicago

I'm here in Chicago at the 20th anniversary of the Christian Community Development Association conference. The message I hear from ccda rings truest to what I believe God calls us to be when He calls us into His family of faith through Jesus Christ. I have found no better community that preaches the centrality of Jesus, the authority of Scripture, and the mandate that as Christians we are called to passionately be about love, justice, and service among the poor and marginalized as a normal part of our Christian call. As founder John Perkins says, "It's a stewardship issue." How are we stewarding the Gospel with our lives?

Perkins is a modern-day prophet who can speak God's truth and love in a way that I've not heard anyone else. If you haven't read or listened to John Perkins, I'd recommend that you do!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

classic Saturday

I am really enjoying spending each week this year in one of the 52 devotions found in Devotional Classics edited by Richard Foster and James Bryan Smith. This week I read an excerpt from William Law (1686-1761) entitled "A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life". Here's a bit:
"It is very observable that there is not one command in all the gospel for public worship. One could say that it is the duty that is least insisted upon in Scripture. Frequent church attendance is never so much as mentioned in all of the New Testament. But the command to have a faith that governs the ordinary actions of our lives is to be found in almost every verse of Scripture. Our blessed Savior and his Apostles were very intent on giving us teachings that relate to daily life. They teach us:

-to renounce the world and be different in our attitudes and ways of life
-to renounce all its goods, to fear none of its evils, to reject its joys, and have no value for its happiness
-to be as newborn babes who are born into a new state of things
-to live as pilgrims in spiritual watching, in holy fear, and heavenly aspiring after another life
-to take up our cross daily, to deny ourselves, to profess the blessedness of mourning, to seek the blessedness of mourning, to seek the blessedness of poverty of spirit
-to forsake the pride and vanity of riches, to take no thought for the morrow, to live in the profoundest state of humility, to rejoice in worldly sufferings
-to reject the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life
-to bear injuries, to forgive and bless our enemies, and to love all people as God loves them
-to give up our whole hearts and affections to God, and to strive to enter through the straight gate into a life of eternal glory.

Isn't it strange that people place so much emphasis upon going to church when there is not one command from Jesus to do so, and yet neglect the basic duties of our ordinary life which are commanded in every page of the Gospels?"

Foster/Smith have some good questions at the end of each selection. A few to ponder this week:

If, as Law believes, the vitality of one's faith is revealed by one's actions, how would you describe your spiritual health?

What are some of the struggles you face as you attempt to demonstrate your faith not merely in words, but in actions?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

off-line learnings

Our home computers have been off-line for a few weeks now. The only time I've been able to interact on-line has been while at my office at church. That time off-line really gave me some free space at home that I would have otherwise used sitting at my computer "doing one more thing" for work or "one more look through facebook", etc. It's amazing how much free space I found myself having; which is just another way of saying, "I had really gotten attached to my computer at home...even without being fully aware of it." Over the past few weeks, my house feels a little cleaner, I've sat on the couch reading next to our kids more, I've practiced my piano lessons more frequently, and our meals have been a little higher quality. Hmmmm.

We're back on-line. I'm wanting to say that my observations over the past few weeks will prompt me to set some solid boundaries for myself at home with the computer. Stay tuned for a full report in a few more weeks.

This fall, as we have transition time into a school year that so often prompts new resolutions, are there any boundaries or practices you've set into your schedule?