Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Coffeehouse Genesis

We publicly launched our church this past Friday. It was really a special time for us, our friends, and some folks who dropped in to see what all the fuss was about and decided to hang out for the rest of the evening. I was not surprised at the crowd that showed up, nor was it a shock that people seemed to enjoy themselves. What blew me away was the incredible diversity of people (age, race, language, economic status, etc.) and the spontaneous interactions and discussion that ensued. We had stretched canvas over two 7'x10' frames where we hung artwork from local artists. The back sides were bare, so we had paints available for anyone to add their mark.
We waited for a while for the first person to step up. Finally, a kid asked if he could paint. I showed him where the paints were and he choose red, yellow, and blue. He then stepped up to the enormous canvas and asked how much he could paint. I told him the whole canvas was open for him. He stepped back, eyes wide with wonder and giggled. He proceeded to paint a swan, the first of many expressions that included all generations.
We all have a story to tell and a gifting to share. Let's see how the Kingdom of God expands when we open up a canvas and invite all to leave their mark.

Friday, October 12, 2007

My Jean-less Junior High Years

Why do we complicate our relationships so much? Why do we choose to hang out with some, and shun or even abuse others? Who do we really feel comfortable with? Growing up, I was not a member of the 'in crowd'. Junior high was not a series of highlight reels for me. I was (am) a nerd. I remember standing in line for gym clothes in the boys locker room in 7th grade being called a ‘slacker’ because I didn’t own jeans. We didn’t have much money growing up, so I had cheap slacks. Oh, how I wish I had jeans. But that probably wouldn’t have made too much of a difference. I was never beat up, but I sure was ragged on by my peers and the older kids. One 9th grader in particular made me fearful every time I saw him. His name was Stephen and he was big. He would push me whenever he got the chance.

Fast -forward a decade and I ended up taking a class with this same guy in college. He came in, recognized me, and sat down next to me. We had some small talk and got along fine. For the first few classes, I wondered why he was being nice to me. As he drove me to my dorm one day, I asked him about his bullying during junior high. He was shocked that he had done that to me and gave a heartfelt apology. As it turns out, we weren't so bad once we got to know each other.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Finding my Name

Today I start to write. It’s funny how long it takes for us to discover how we’re wired. The real tragedy I fear is that altogether too many people never find out what their name really is. They live, work, love and die, but don’t catch the spark that would really help define them. I think that I found my name today. I was hiking with a friend of mine of White Oak Canyon and it hit me. Writer. This isn’t my vocation, but it is a gifting and I realized today that I need to develop and practice this craft. What really blows my mind is that so many people the past few years have commented on my writing, but it has taken until today for me to embrace their words of affirmation. I have no delusions of grandeur; I am neither Shakespeare nor Poe. I am Joe. So as I stumble through these pages, I will try to be more and more like who I was made to be. “To thine own self be true.”

Thursday, October 4, 2007


I hear people talk about "missions" often. Unfortunately though, I often hear missions spoken of as projects or statistics. For example, I may hear of "mission trips" where people go for a week to serve others in a different state or even country. Or I hear about the numbers of people who were impacted by those trips. But what about the other 51 weeks in the year? What about impacting the lives of those we live with and around? Shouldn't the emphasis of missions be a lifestyle that seeks to serve people here as well as out there? To share Jesus incarnate daily with a world that doesn't even realize He cares.

I believe missions is about a process we go through. As we discover the God who created us, we are compelled to help others to discover Him as well. This is about reconnection. This is NOT about converting people to be like us.

Jesus did not come to covert people. He did not come to make bad people good (quote by Ravi Zacharias). He did not come to make “good” people “better” (as well as self-righteous). He came to make dead people live. He came to bring a message of hope and joy to people who hadn’t experienced much of either.

He looked on people with compassion. These were broken people just like us. People who felt that they were not experiencing true life. They felt a great disconnect. That, this isn’t the way things are supposed to be. They could see that there is so much beauty and grace and order to the world we live in. But there is also anxiety and hate, and emptiness. Jesus came to bring out the former and crush the latter. He came so that people could awaken to the reality that the Creator of the Universe actually wanted to live in a relationship with us.

This is the message that God gives the Church to share with everyone. Missions is about seeking opportunities to share the life we have been given to others. It’s about living the life we were created to live. A life of hope, and authenticity. A life, yes, that is often filled with pain. A life that sometimes raises more questions (if we’re really honest with one another) than answers. Yet, a life that has joy because we are walking with our Creator. And we believe that He is in the process of making all things new. He is establishing a kingdom of reconnections, and He calls us to build with Him.