Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Filling your cup

I'm looking back on the last three or four months and feeling pretty blessed to have taken as many 1-2 day camping/fishing trips as I did. This is something I haven't had the opportunity to do for a while. Heck, having two days off in a row was something foreign to me for four years until I moved to Kentucky. I learned that these trips fill my cup! They give me energy, joy- they give me something to look forward to outside of the everyday plan (I want to use the word rut- but life has been pretty good lately so I don't think rut applies). I've learned that I love adventure, nature, silence and simple living. It's not what I want all the time, but its what I need from time to time. I now realize it's a part of who I am and something I need to function well. When I knew a trip was coming I focused on getting homework done so I wouldn't have to worry about it while I was out. When I don't have something on the calendar I get bored and waste my time with video games and facebook applications that really distract me more than they pour into me. So, do you know what fills your cup? What excites you, helps you focus, gives you something to look forward to? I'm glad I know (for this season of life anyway) and I hope you can know too!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Meeting a gay friend at Starbucks

I have an interesting story about work today. A regular customer who comes through the drive-thru often, opened up with me briefly today. I was telling him why I was attending seminary (since he asked) when he asked me if I was like those guys that came to his door dressed up in white shirts and ties. I told him, "No, those are Mormons". Then he told me that he had them in one time to talk. They seemed very nice and interested in him until he told them he was gay. When they seemed opposed to that, he told them "it's not my fault God made me this way". Then he just laid it out there and asked them, "Do you think I'm going to Hell because God made me gay"? KABLAM! He dropped the bomb in their laps and their reply was more or less a courteous, but politely stated "yes". So, at this point I think the story is going to work towards a "Christians suck" statement, but it didn't. His next statement about ripped my heart out of my chest. He said, "I really worry about this a lot. I don't want to go to Hell, but I am what I am." And he seriously meant it from deep within his heart and right out of his eye sockets and into mine! I could see it, he was scared! He seemed like a kind, compassionate man who believed in God, heaven and hell and didn't want to be punished for what he was. He told me that his brothers and father stopped talking to him because they didn't want anyone to know that they were related to a faggot! And I knew what was coming, then he asked me what I thought. I told him that folks like the mormons, and even some Christians will say that going to heaven is dependent on doing some things and not doing other things. But I told him that going to heaven is about your relationship with Jesus Christ who wants us to be in relationship with him and end up in heaven with him. To which he replies, "I read my Bible and pray regularly". (I'm going to cuss here, so stop reading if you can't handle it) Damn it, that's more than a lot of regular church going Christians (of course, I just said it's not about what you do or don't do, right). Here's a guy who prays and reads scripture and is gay and tells me he has a relationship with God! So, I tell him it sounds like he is on the right path. So, once again I'm frustrated! I've really seen in my own life lately where if I really allow Jesus to transform my mind than I am able to be transformed more and more into his likeness. I really wanted to sit down with the guy and share my own story and find out more about his and share this concept with him. But I'm selling coffee, not on a church staff. But chances are, this guy isn't going to church, but he is buying coffee. So here is my tension- I love God and I love God's law that leads to truth and freedom AND I love people, who are made in God's image! So, here is my plea to those of us that claim an evangelical view of scripture and God's perfect, sanctified will in our lives and the lives of others: if we are going to look someone in the eye's and say, "because of your desires, celibacy is the best way for you to honor God with your life", let's make sure that our churches and our families are places that they will be able to retreat to and find unconditional love, support and commitment even if they constantly fail in trying to do so. Maybe I'm just a push-over and need to be more stern about the commandments of God (which I fully believe in), but my heart breaks wide open every time a gay person is ostracized by their friends, family and church. Some claim the orientation has always been in them. I'm not them, I'm not sure if that's the case or not? But I do know that many would probably appreciate a Christian ear to speak into along with some Christian friendship, support and teaching. I think one of the important elements is giving unconditional friendship amongst it all. That's stinkin' tough, but I believe is of fundamental importance to the gay community. Well, that was all very stressful for me to write. I need some coffee now. I'd love to hear what anyone else thinks about this:)

Family Camp

Kim, Alexis and I attended a family camp this weekend. It was at Aldersgate United Methodist Camp out in the Kentucky mountains (really hills). It was a gorgeous area between four or five beautiful, tree covered hills. We got to hang out with all of our friends from Sunday School and church (Nicholasville UMC). I played some disc golf, flag football and basketball- which is why walking is difficult today. We all played group games, sat around a camp fire and worshiped together. Shawn M. did a three series lesson on Wesley's three simple rules (do no harm, do good, grow with God). All in all it was a great weekend. Now I need to write four papers, though:(

Monday, October 20, 2008

NCLI Church Planting Conference

Well, I did a lousy job blogging as I attended the NCLI Church Planting Conference last week in Fayetteville, Arkansas. It was because I had to do homework most nights when the conference was over at 6pm. It was a "little sleep" event- I ran off of adrenaline mostly. It was a good conference. They have made quite a few good adjustments since I last attended a few years ago. I am somewhat pleased that there were very few surprise insights to church planting. Hopefully this means I have attended enough of these events that I have learned a good portion of the information needed to get a church off the floor. My favorite speaker was Dr. Elaine Heath from Perkins School of Theology. She has created communities of people that are monastic/evangelistic in nature. They are folks that are tired of the traditional church model that sucks up huge amounts of resources in order to survive. I really relate to what she was saying. Many of our churches lose their missional goals out of survival: keeping the building going, paying the staff, etc. These are communities of people that meet mostly in homes. They worship together, experience genuine community (sometimes even living together) and serve together in a very missional way that often involves not just serving the poor, but knowing the poor. If you are interested, Dr. Heath has two books out that approach this emerging model of church and community:

The Mystic Way of Evangelism, Elaine A. Heath

Longing for spring; a new vision for Methodist ministry, Dr. Elaine Heath

Overall, the conference was a good investment of time. It also represented the light at the end of the tunnel for me. I've very excited to begin life as a senior pastor either in a current UM church or a new church plant opportunity. I've had to meditate and pray quite a bit lately to get my heart to stop racing. And now for homework:)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Let's refocus:)

So I've completely fallen off the earth with the blog thing. My original focus was to cover the life of our family while here in Kentucky. That was good for a while, but I have some other stuff I'd like to occasionally pump in here. So, I'm going to give myself some freedom to do so and hopefully that will get me back in the swing of it. This week I am at a church planting conference in Arkansas called the NCLI Conference. I'm going to blog some different points of the conference so maybe you can glean from it as well. I look forward to sharing more as the week goes on!