Thursday, January 22, 2009

Help With The Hamper

I think I have always been one of those people that was pretty eager to accept help. I think it goes back to this trip I was on when I was like 11 years old. My Mother, who has always been directionally challenged, was driving us from Mobile, AL to Columbus, MS. Now I know that is not a far drive at all, but then, I thought it was forever away. To make matters worse, there were large detours because of a bridge that was out. So, not only was my Mom not sure where she was going, now she was taking even less traveled roads to get there. At one point, after we had been on the road for hours, we saw the sign welcoming us back to Alabama. I don’t know if it was the downpour of rain, my screaming little sister in the car seat next to me, or the fact that I had watched too many horror movies about people getting lost in the country, but for some reason, seeing that sign welcoming us back to Alabama and knowing we were far from home made me panic. I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t pull over and ask someone at a gas station for directions, though at this point, this far from the main road, I wasn’t too sure about that option either. So, I have never been afraid to ask someone where something is or admit that I have no idea what the answer is to a question, which isn’t a good thing when my manager is asking me questions about the new menu items and I seem as if I could care less what the answer is. I really do care; I’m just honest about it when I don’t fully know it, rather than trying to BS my way through it.

Last night I was standing up at the host/hostess stand at Brock’s and I saw a woman, who I knew was a guest in our restaurant, walking toward me. Eager to act is if I was taking care of company business and always ready to help the guest, I locked eyes with this woman and asked if she was looking for the restroom. She looked at me as if I had just asked her if she knew where her own head was and sternly told me, “It is through those doors. I know exactly where it is.” Taken aback by this, I told her, “Well there is a mirror in there and you might want to take a look in it before you return.” Not really. But it would have been pretty sweet if I would have. It was as if she was so irritated that I would think that she didn’t know where the restroom was and that I would offer to help her by telling her where it is.

I think we find this problem in churches a lot today. We all walk in like we don’t need help or if we do, it is only a little bit of help. I'm doing great brother! Great! How are you!? Galatians 6:2 Paul commands Christians to carry each other’s burdens. One of the things that struck me about that when I read it a few days ago was the context of Galatians 6:1-5. This is a spiritual brother/sister restoring someone who has been tempted and is caught in a sin. I don’t think this is “catch me if you can” kind of caught but “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” kind of caught. When are churches going to be the places where people admit their struggles and believe that real spiritual restoration will occur because the Holy Spirit is going to work through Christian family? When is John going to be transparent with the community and tell us what sins he is caught in and what burdens he needs the community to help him carry rather than telling us what sins his neighbor or family member is dealing with. When I guest preach at churches and preach on the prodigal son, I always hear stories of how someone is a prodigal that needs to come home. The kicker is that it is always some telling about someone else who is a prodigal who needs to come home. The person talking to me never thinks he/she is the prodigal!

Where does this start? This starts with the leaders and teachers in the church being transparent and honest about struggles in their lives. We don’t have to air out every bit of our dirty laundry but to act as if it is all clean in that hamper is a lie, a lie that Satan will be glad to help you keep up as long as possible. What dirty secrets are in your hamper? Do you have anybody in your life you feel is safe enough to confess to (James 5:16)? Is anybody in your life safe? Do people think you are a safe person to confess to?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sweet Monday Action

This has been a great day! I am still pumped about last night, I am actually getting pulled in to the inauguration hype, and I am watching a MLK documentary (KING) in celebration of MLK day.

I posted Tal's sermon from last night here.

I posted Tal Prince Live from last night here.

(My heart sinks as I watch a national cable channel recount the bombing at 16th Street Baptist Church, a horrible tragedy that occurred just a few miles from where I sit and type now.)

Last night was a great night at Tapestry. As we sat and prayed over our gathering (something we do every week for about 20 minutes before the gathering) I could feel the Holy Spirit moving in me, letting me know this was something special we were doing tonight. People often say that as soon as they walk in the room where we worship, they can physically feel the presence of God. That isn’t anything you can conjure or make happen. God just chooses for it to happen and all you can do is be thankful for it and not overlook the wonderful blessing you have. Of course, we are gathered, asking for God’s presence among us and we set the atmosphere as much as we can with lighting and music but in the end, it is God’s decision and I cannot make Him do anything (nor would I want to).

I read Isaiah 44:9-20 from The Message and I could hear that the community was really hearing the words of this Bible passage. Sometimes Peterson hits the ball out of the park and I think his translation of Isaiah 44 is one of those home runs.

Tal used the story of Marcus Schrenker, how he faked his death (and was horrible at it) because he couldn’t keep up the image. He went on to say how we all need to die to our images but many of us are just faking our deaths because somewhere in the Bible we are told to do so.

I wonder if I am faking my death. Oh, I know I am faking my death. Well, it isn’t really faking my death as much as death to self just doesn’t come that easily. I was totally reminded of it last night and this morning as I signed up for Twitter. Now, I kicked against the multiplying wave of people looking for one more way to update everybody on the minutia of life and keep “networked” for long enough but I couldn’t hold out a day longer. I walked down the aisle last night, and I am tweeting with the best of them. I am not one of the best of them mind you…I am just out there tweeting along with them. Immediately I had two followers…at 4:00 am! Then I started looking at how Tal is following just a few more people than is following him and I thought that is the true sign of Twitter fame…when more people are following you than you are following. I thought of cutting the number of people I was following from 30 down to one so I could have twice as many followers as number of people I was following and then saw what must be the ultimate twitter triumph…Donaldmilleris is following one person while . I just thought of this one…if you could keep your number of followers above your number of updates. Nope. Not a good measuring rod. Barack Obama has 165,414 followers and only 264 updates, but he is following 168,134 people, so that whole followers over updates thing isn’t going to work out.

Why do I care so much about all of this? This is my image! This is the image that I hold up so high, thinking the world revolves around me…when clearly it doesn’t. I love looking at my little map on my blog and seeing where in the world people are who are looking at my blog. Who are you in Brazil? Whoever you are…I love you and you do so much for my little idol of an image. Seriously, this is crazy. I have like 9 blog readers and I think it is some kind of big deal and I am worried about how many people are going to follow me on Twitter now. So, now I am off to try to make my blog really cool like this guy from Atlanta who’s blog is so cool that they did an article on him in Collide Magazine. I especially love the way he has the little Twitter bird at the top of his blog...I need to get one of those.

I don’t have an image problem…I promise.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

KC part 1 (Sunday at Jacob's Well)

Today is a really great day in Birmingham. I had a great lunch with Tal and Marc, the weather is great, I posted the first recording of Tal Prince Live since August, and I just picked up my dry cleaning. What could be better? Now I figured it is as good of a time as any to write about my experiences in Kansas City while I was there to visit Becki during the second week in December.

I am going to start with my experiences at Jacob’s Well Church. Here are some pictures of JW that are on Tim Keel's blog. Since I knew I was going to be there that Sunday, I checked out their website, downloaded a few sermons, and familiarized myself somewhat with their staff. It turned out that familiarizing myself with the staff helped out because the regular teaching pastor, Tim Keel, was no preaching that Sunday. Instead, Deth Im was preaching. Deth is one of the associate pastors and he also serves JW as an elder. They were going through the themes of Advent (hope, joy, peace, love) which was awesome because that is exactly what we were doing at Tapestry! That is the kind of stuff that happens when you are following the church calendar, which is something we do a little at Tapestry but I later learned they do a lot at JW.

Deth preached on rejoice, which he said really means to be glad glad because the re prefix intensifies the word joy. One really cool thing they did was give us all tiny bells as we walked in and Deth asked us to ring those bells when we felt like something said or read resonated with us, instead of using our normal evangelical guttural sounds. That was a really cool thing. People rang the bells after Scriptures were read, people rang bells when they resonated with a truth of happy things in our lives and when they rejoiced even in the midst of pains in our lives. The texts he especially used as he taught were the magnificat of Mary in Luke 1 and story of the Israelites rejoicing in Psalm 126. This all led up to the final question of how does your soul magnify the Lord?

This sermon is an awesome sermon. I don’t always say that, so you can trust that I really believe that. Several things I liked:

ª The opening way he involved the entire audience with something fun AND used the context of the interaction as a launching pad for the sermon.
ª The way he shared personal stories, and what Calvin Miller calls his romance with the text. A lot of times preachers get really jacked up about something in the Bible and don’t understand why the congregation doesn’t get that jacked up too. What we don’t realize is that we had a long time of meditating over this passage before we got jacked up over it. Share the journey that you went through as you came to fall in love with this text.
ª The interaction brought by the bells
ª The way we read Psalm 126 out loud together during the sermon and then he invited people to say what they thought was going on there and what the writer of the Psalm was getting at. He used those thought, at almost the exact middle point of the sermon, as a catalyst to bring us to the end of the sermon.

After the sermon, Mike Crawford led us in “The Magnificat” and “Ring Out O Bells”. You really need to check out his Myspace page and get his new CD. I will be writing more on that later.

How does your soul magnify the Lord?