Another return flight. It’s somewhat amusing thinking that up until 15 months ago I had only been on one round trip flight in my life. Now I have been on 7, three of those coming in the past two months. It’s amusing thinking that two months ago I was actually quite content being single and remaining single. My heart remained in Colorado and I had no intention - or desire - to relocate.
Two months. I piss on two months. Two pages from a calendar. I have youth group plans through June. Two months is nothing. But it has changed my life. Actually my life was changed the day I discovered Shay - and I knew the moment that I saw her. This two months has been the beginning of the result of that change.
I asked for her parent’s blessing to marry Shay. Her mom had a mom moment, and dad said, “Right on,” like a classic child of the 60’s. Within hours there were SIX pictures of Shay and I up on the fridge, another in front of the computer, and one next to mom’s bed. That got me thinking about the significance of ceremonies in our culture. I talked to the parents out of respect and formality - nothing else. If they had said, “No,” bummer. Guess they don’t want to be involved in the lives of their grandchildren. I knew what they were going to say going into the evening. Yet there was something significant about that event to all the parties involved. Mom was thrilled. Dad (I believe) was thrilled. Brother and sister were kinda like, woah… And for Shay and I, we simply looked at each other with a goofy grin. For some reason it became more real. Nothing explainable changed. My commitment to her is still the same. My love for her is still growing at the same rate - more with every moment. And our intentions together are still the same. But that was a significant milestone in our relationship.
What is it about the significant ceremonies in our lives that hold symbolic meaning? Things like weddings, baptisms, or funerals. They don’t make the people involved any more in love, religious, or dead - but they are the milestones that mark the meaningful events in our lives. I certaintly don’t understand it - because one would logically think that the cause of the event is the significant moment. Perhaps the ceremonies are vehicles of translation from head knowledge to heart knowledge? What do you think?
Well - my heart may be in Minnesota, but my head needs to be here. Youth group starts in four hours, 26 minutes - and I’m cruising at 36,000 feet somewhere over Kansas.
I’m officially here in Minnesota for another fabulous five days with my beloved. God bless flexible youth ministry schedules!
I have been thinking about how to write about this since Sunday night. I still don’t know, but I’m going to try anyways. The topic of identity was tackled at pierced Sunday night. It is so challenging for many of us to accept our identity from God the “Father” due to the connotations that it raises with our earthly fathers. It is pretty hard to think of God as a Father when the only father that I knew abandoned my family and myself and then committed suicide. The sermon took the avenue that we all know - that God loves us more than we will ever know, he will never let us down, there is nothing that we can do to make him love us more or less, blah, blah, blah. We have heard it all before. I could have written the sermon notes within the first sixty seconds of the introduction.
But I still cried. I knew what was coming, and I still cried.
How often do we neglect and take for granted the core truths to our lives, because we “know” them? I think that so often our heads know these truths - but our hearts are good at forgetting. It’s so important to remind our hearts of these essential truths more often than we do now.
My students and I wrestled with the topic of “What does Jesus think about homosexuals?” this past Sunday. Special thanks to JR Briggs for his teaching notes from a couple months past.
It has been fascinating going through these tough topics with a small group of high school students. I have a sign up in the youth room that says, “No Sunday School Answers Allowed.” They have done a fine job of adhering to that rule. So when we dive into these tough topics, they open up - and oftentimes the discussion takes an avenue towards the core issues that they have questions about.
High school boys. Talking objectively about homosexuality. It makes me laugh just thinking about it. Their favorite response to anything that they don’t like in the slightest is, “That’s gay.” You could hear a pin drop in the room when I delivered the big point of the study. “Homosexuality is wrong, but it is just as wrong as out judgmental, unaccepting, and unloving attitude towards them.” I really hope that it hit home for some of them. I cannot imagine what it must be like for them (homosexuals). Put ourselves in their shoes for a moment. Take your deepest struggle in your heart and turn it into a social taboo. For simply having a struggle you have become outcast from society. When I think about it like that, and I think about the homosexual friends that I have, it definitely brings those thoughts home.
This week I tackle drugs and alcohol. Should be interesting as well. A couple of months ago in a game of “I’ve Never…” I discovered that at least a third of my students have drank before. That one goes directly to my heart - because I don’t want to see them walk down the road that I have already traveled.
On a lighter note, I am flying out to Minnesota to see Shay in 36 hrs, 11 minutes. I’m very much excited - except for the cold of course. I’ve been wearing sandals and Hawaiian shirts here in Colorado for the past several days - weather that the Southern California boy in me has no desire to leave. Speaking of no desire to leave, several months ago I would have told you there was no possible way that I would be leaving Colorado any time soon. I even considered the possibility of a woman - and my conclusion? She would be moving here. Period. I was wrong. Funny things we do for love.
“In this book I do not directly address the question of why men and women are different. This is a complex question to which there are many answers, ranging from biological differences, parental influence, education, and birth order to cultural conditioning by society, the media, and history.” -John Gray, Ph. D: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus
No it’s not. It’s a simple question with one answer. We were designed differently. Men carry the masculine traits of God and women posses the feminine traits of God.
But that answer does not work for science.
Have you ever noticed how close science comes to explaining so many things while completely missing the point? All those influences listed by Dr. Gray are completely valid - but the miss the root of the issue.
Every Sunday morning there is a “Children’s Sermon” which more often turns into “Congregational Entertainment.” Before Christmas in one of these the kids were asked what they would like to see under the tree. One boy answered, “A machine gun!” The body burst into laughter as the mother hid from embarrassment. The father was not very involved in the boy’s life - I can GUARANTEE you this wasn’t a product of “parental influence”. Shortly thereafter a girl answered “A pretty dress.” Now we know where cooties came from. What a stark difference in these children from the earliest points of childhood!
We in the emerging church talk often about communicating the greatest story ever told to a postmodern culture. We have the answers to questions that society lacks. Yet in the past generations we have lost the power of the story. We ourselves are active characters in the metanarrative of this world. How do we, as emerging leaders, bring life back into this story so that it again captures the hearts and minds of a relativistic culture?
Today as I was leaving the office John vaporized in the upstairs hallway of the church. This took me off guard in the first place because the church is locked up during the day. I introduced myself, and saw something in his eyes that I haven’t seen in a long time. Hurt. We went downstairs to find Matt the senior pastor and the 3 of us talked for about 40 minutes.
It was interesting seeing and hearing this man. He got hit with a number of unfortunate incidents that sent him from living well to rock bottom in a matter of weeks last November. None of it was his fault. He had needs; food, rent assistance - but he talked about this stuff first to get it out of the way. What he really wanted and needed was God. He asked us to pray for him.
John had a need - he was at rock bottom - and he went to church. He had never been to the church I work at before. It was very encouraging to me - seeing that glimmer of hope that there is somebody in this society that still desires to seek God in their times of depravity. Our need for God is written onto the tablets of our hearts and programmed into our wiring - and it breaks my heart that so many people fill the void with whatever it is that will make them feel happy - and they always come up short.
Pray for John - pray that he finds community and love that leads him to God.
Adam Cleveland, a member of Planet Emergent recently used this idea with his blog. I love it. I would love to hear from those of you who I know and don’t know and see what sort of community we have in this place.
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