Sunday, February 26, 2012

children's gift

 At the end of each month, Harvest has something called "Children's Gift" in which the younger children go in front of the congregation and share a song in worship.  I usually teach Sunday School there the last Sunday of the month, so it's my joy to experience Children's Gift on these Sundays.  The kids went up right after John and Brion rapped a song they wrote.  God was glorified through quite a great variety of music at Harvest today!

no under-resourced church

Last month at the end of Orchard Hill's leadership retreat, I caught up with George Marshall, our partner from Harvest/Walnut.  I asked him if he heard any language or comments through the morning that might cause him to cringe.  Sometimes we struggle to know what language to use around Orchard.  We want to talk about God's call for us to care for the poor, but we don't want to perpetuate paternalism and our own poverty in our own thinking and talking.

How did George respond?  He told me that there were no cringe factors, and then he went on to say, "I think it's fine if you want to talk about our partnership working to reach out in an under-resourced neighborhood.  Just don't ever call Harvest an under-resourced church.  There is no such thing.  God resources his Church and is all-sufficient as He leads His Church.  The only time a church is under-resourced is when people in the church are under-utilizing their gifts for the Kingdom."

I love that.  It goes along with a teaching I heard not too long ago.  The teacher spoke about leading in the things that matter to God.  We can lead in things that seem hard, scary, hopeless, because if God is passionate about it, then He is also responsible in getting it done.  He just wants us to offer Him what we have for the work.

Monday, February 20, 2012

CCDA Des Moines

 Dave Clark shared an overview of the eight key components of CCDA with about 150 folks gathered in Des Moines for a CCDA Intensive this weekend.
Sixteen of us traveled from the Cedar Valley for the gathering.  It was a very good day of hearing from Dave C. and  then from Craig Wong on "Strategic Partnerships."  Harvest/Orchard/Youth Art Team even had the opportunity to share a bit about what God was up to in our friendship.  

the making of a video

I love, love watching the parts of the Body of Christ work together to create something new and beautiful together. We're making a new Love Cedar Valley promotional video for 2012, and it was all hands on deck above.  I wrote a script, Katlyn was the amazing artist who drew out multiple pieces for a storyboard, Rajan and Eli, both 9 year olds, get to be the hands and the voices to the video, and Jonny and Jeff are the design/technical brilliance.  Can't wait to see the finished product!

Monday, February 13, 2012

race- are we so different?

I saw this exhibit in Washington D.C. this past summer and was excited to see that it's in our local UNI museum until June.  It's a must go see for any who live around here!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

new wineskins

Mark 2:22

"And no one pours new wine into old wineskins.  Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined.  No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”

I believe God is taking Christ’s Church through transition from old wineskins to new.  The models and structures of church as we have known it might just continue to fade, making way for a whole host of innovative ways that God wants to send his people out to lovingly engage their neighbor and incarnate the Gospel.  

A friend of mine is leaving a position at our church to go full time into property management.  His boss is investing in real estate and is buying up properties with the intent to be a just and responsible landlord and to help physically create and restore affordable living spaces for many who are lower-income in our community. His motives?  I hope and believe Christ is motivating him to be a good steward of his gifts and resources, to meet real felt needs in our community, to work toward just rental practices, and to be a light and witness for Christ through all of it.  This is just one example of a new wineskin... of being the Church where we live and work.  

What about you?  God has some new wineskins for all of us if we dare pray, dream, follow..

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

knowing better

I listened to a great audio teaching in a Bible Study yesterday from Rich Nathan, a Vineyard pastor of a congregation  in Columbus, OH, I believe.  He began his teaching talking about the following categories of "unknowns" and "knowns" in our lives:

There are some things we know we know.  I know I know my name.  I know I know how to tie my shoe.

There are some things we know we don't know.  I know that I don't know how to knit.  You could give me knitting needles and yarn, and I know I would not know how to make anything you'd like to wear.  I know that I do not know how to program a computer.  I scarcely know how to turn one on and get to this page to type a blog post.

There are some things we don't know that we don't know.  There are whole bodies of knowledge that I'm completely unaware exist.  I can't even give you an example of this one because if I could, then it wouldn't fit in this category.

Then, there are some things we know that we make unknown.  This is the realm Rich talked about.  The things we know but pretend not to know.  The things we turn a blind eye to, live in denial about, choose to walk away from, to "forget" and "unknow".  Rich gave the example of intelligent bankers in our nation who knew that they should not have given loans to people who would likely not be able to repay the banks but chose to anyway.  Or persons in an affair who knows the truth of their situation but continue on anyway.  Or people who know of the principles and practices of health and nutrition but choose to ignore them.  Nathan goes on to speak of Deuteronomy as the book where God calls his people out of unknowing knowns into rememberance...Remember God when life is hard...Remember God when life is easy...Remember God by remembering our need for Christian community.

I was thinking about these last two categories as related to the pursuit of justice and racial reconciliation as Christ-followers.  There are some things we don't know that we don't know, but there are an awful lot of things that we know but are choosing to keep "unknown".  All we have to do is read the Bible, read the paper, look around our segregated communities, listen to the news reports, etc...We'd have to live under a rock to not know that things are not as they should be.  What do we do with this knowing once we turn from denial and acknowledge our awareness of it? That's a key question that is leading me these days.  That's why diverse Christian community (across race, socio-economics, cultural) is such a critical need for me...if I am only in Christian community with people similar to me, I will likely remain ignorant, and worse, to pretend to remain ignorant.  Being with people who are different from me forces me to live in the reality, grapple with it, and hopefully "know better" so that I might grow and act as an ambassador of Christ.