Saturday, May 24, 2008

Two Challenges

I sent an email to our staff last week. Got some words of apprecation - so I thought I'd share it with all of you. I gave them two quick words of challenge as we head into the holiday weekend.

1. What are you going to do with a day off? Next week we have Monday off as a holiday. I think we have to be as intentional about our rest as we are about our work. So what are your plans for a) family, b) God, c) personal refreshment d) blessing others in your neighborhood or sphere of influence, during your quick day of reprieve. I know it sounds weird, but I was actually challenged in prayer last night about being intentional with Monday. So I'm actually praying about what God wants me to do with that day - I'm sure it will have something to do with a, b, c, or d.

2. What are you doing with your Economic Stimulus check? I'm not going to pretend that the best thing for all of us to do is give it to the church (although, we could sure use it!). But there is a "best thing" for you to do with yours. My challenge is to make it a matter of prayer as to what that "best thing" is. The question is, "what should we do with windfalls?" Unfortunately there is no generic answer. But I bet if you asked God, "What should I do with this particular windfall?" That He would be faithful to give you some direction.

Hope you have an amazing holiday weekend and a day of reprieve next week.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Ayden Didn't Quite Get the Miracle Right

So we were talking last night about what the kids were learning both from School and from Sunday School lately. Ayden (our 3 year old daughter) got very excited to tell what she had learned in Sunday School. She got very animated and started taking deep inhales between each phrase. She kind of missed the point of the punchline of the big miracle though. Her story went something like this:

Kim - so tell us about what you're learning Ayden...

Ayden - well all the guys with Jesus (deep breath) they got in a boat and sailed way way way (deep breath) way way way out into the water.

Kim - really - and then what happened?

Ayden - then a huge rain came... and thunder... and lightning (deep breath) and the waves were so big they almost covered the boat.

Kim - wow! then what?

Ayden - then Jesus came out (deep breath) and he got in the boat with his guys

Kim - oh man - then he must have done something pretty great next!

Ayden - yeah (deep breath) next he let the boat drift right into the storm (very deep breath like she had just finished the story)

Kim - didn't something happen after that?

Ayden - (somewhat annoyed) yeah....we had a snack.

Monday, May 19, 2008

We Saw Prince Caspian

Took the boys to see Prince Caspian amidst an absolutely crazy weekend. It was really good - captivating. Here are some random thoughts about the movie:

1. the setting was beautiful - some of the scenes, especially the children sailing back into Narnia, were just breathtaking.

2. the acting was way better this time around.

3. it was really violent - a lot of battle scenes. Chase handled it, but was pretty scared at some points.

4. the brief scene with Jadis (the white witch) was one of my favorites, both because it was so visually captivating, and because it did such a great job of painting the picture of the reality of temptation - especially the temptation of success at any cost. All the characters were drawn to it - except Edmund of course who had seen the results of giving in to that kind of temptation.

5. Maybe the best acting of the whole thing was done by the man who played Trumpkin the dwarf - he was awesome.

6. I haven't checked back in my book yet -but I think there was a scene added that wasn't in the book. Peter led an ill-advised and under-prepared attack on the Telarmine castle - it seemed out of character for Peter and a little out of place in the story. I wonder if it was supposed to be a political commentary on our current situation. If so - I didn't appreciate it's insertion into this storyline.

7. Susan's character was cheapened a bit by a weird little flirtatious thing that went throughout the movie with Caspian - I don't remember the Jr. High melodrama from the book either - but I could be wrong.

8. Reepicheep the mouse was hilarious and a very endearing part of the story. I laughed out loud at several spots in the movie as I did in the books. He also plays a really funny role in Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

9. Aslan was somewhat absent - but was in the book too. His relationship with Lucy wasn't as developed in the movie - but I'm aware that not everything can make the final cut.

10. I definitely thought that there was a softening of any spiritual themes througout. Which may explain why Walden and Disney didn't do the big marketing push to Christian audiences and churches this time around.

Overall it was very good and worth the admission price. I don't want to be one of those weirdos that always says, "the book was soooo much better," but, the book was so much better...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Leadership and Prince Caspian

I'm pretty pumped to see Prince Caspian this weekend. I am a huge CS Lewis fan. His books have influenced my thinking more than any others except the Bible. I have literally waited since my childhood for these books to be made into movies - and I'm excited that it's happening while my kids are little so that I can enjoy it with them. I absolutely love the story in Prince Caspian - it is my second favorite to Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe in the Narnia series. The best line in the book and one of my favorite leadership quotes is:

"He (Aslan) led them to the right of the dancing trees - whether they were still dancing nobody knew, for Lucy had her eyes on the Lion and the rest had their eyes on Lucy."

All Christian leaders would be wise to heed the example of Lucy. If there are those that have their eyes fixed on you as the leader - you had darned well better have your eyes fixed on the Lion...whether the trees around you are dancing or not.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Back and Forth With Will

Will's comment on my last post got deleted the other day for some reason, so I wanted to share an email exchange between Will and I with you that clarifies the meal on the beach thing and some good back and forth about the details of scripture...

From Will:
First, I very much agree that the meal on the beach is an "echo" of the Last Supper. Regarding John not reporting Jesus's blessing of the meal. I've just assumed that he did bless it & it is unreported. I'm pretty sure that John doesn't report him blessing the Passover meal either. He (John) just reads to me as more of a "to the point" kind of writer. I'm just wondering what, in your experience, makes that stand out. I'm thinking that maybe I'm missing something.

From Derek:
You absolutely could be right - it may have just been an omission by John - something that he didn't consider important enough to report - a detail that he simply left out, etc. The other gospel writers include the returning of thanks at the Passover meal but it's true that John does not.

However, John does include the returning of thanks by Jesus at the feeding of the 5000 in John 6:11 "Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish." My point is certainly not to create a mountain out of a theological molehill - or to try to make scripture say something that it doesn't. My goal in noticing details like this and reporting them is to try to encourage others to foster a closer reading of the scriptures.

Too often people just do their duty of reading the bible, but I love to read it by putting myself in the scenario and asking all kinds of questions of the text and try to notice little details like this and ponder them. Simply that holy imagination that I talk about in class. But that being said, I also would never build a belief system or theology on any of these unsupported observations - just a way to help people to ponder scriptures from a slightly different angle.

Friday, May 09, 2008

When Jesus Didn't Pray Before Dinner

I don't know what your pre-meal prayers are like. At different life stages and in different settings, I've experienced the "God is great, God is good..." variety. I've also done the "Bless us oh Lord in these Thy gifts which we are about to..." thing as well. Sometimes in recent days one of the kids will want to pray before dinner and the younger two tend to simply go through each item and thank God for it. They do this while looking around the table at each item and just naming it. They include butter, and pepper, and utensils - everything! I love it - I think it is a beautiful and simple reminder that God deserves credit for everything. His provision for his children is wonderful.

Before communion at the staff retreat this past week, I shared some insights from the story of Peter's restoration in John 21. I'm convinced that this encounter with Jesus was hand-crafted for Peter and was filled with a bunch of flashback moments for him. One of the details that I found interesting was that there were significant similarities between the breakfast on the beach that Jesus served in John 21 and the last time the disciples had eaten with Jesus at the Last Supper. Especially the verbiage used in verse 13 to talk about the serving of the meal, "Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise with the fish." Sounds like the Last Supper minus the wine.

But there is another noticeable difference in the two scenes. On the beach Jesus didn't return thanks before serving the meal like he did in the upper room. My hunch is that Jesus was already taking on his glorified form - he was "fully God" at this point and no longer "fully man." He didn't need to ask "a blessing" - his hands on the bread and his presence at the meal was "the blessing."

Any other theories out there about why Jesus may not have said his prayers on the beach?

Monday, May 05, 2008

Little Boys, Forts, and Jesus as the Light of the World

Yesterday afternoon was awesome. I decided to set aside research and planning that I needed to be doing for the staff retreat this week, and spend a few hours with the boys. They've got a fort started in our back yard - so we worked hard on the fort for quite a while. It's Caleb's design and Chase's manpower - wait until you see it when it's done - gonna be pretty cool.

I was taken back to my childhood big time. I loved forts. For a kid - a fort represents your spot. It's the place to get away to. The place where you're quite sure no one will ever find you. It's safe ... it's yours. In the midst of all the hard work - we took a popsicle break. And as we were sitting there admiring our work - I was remembering the Feast of Tabernacles that the Israelites celebrated (don't ask my how these things pop into my head).

So I started telling the boys about it. There was an 8 day festival that the Jews celebrated - and during that period people left their homes and lived in booths formed of the branches of trees (just like their fort) out in the sreets of Jerusalem. The booths reminded them about the wilderness wanderings and how God had provided so miraculously for his people.

So I had my boys imagine what it would be like to take their fort to downtown Erie and live in it for 8 days (sounded like a nightmare to me but they thought it would be cool.) And what it must have been like to have been delivered out of Egypt and wandering in the desert led only by God. You would be pretty dependent upon God, you would really need to trust that He knew what He was doing.

And in Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles if you were to walk down the street through the city at night - you would also see that each of these little booths or forts was adorned with a lamp. Each family in each booth would light their lamps at night to symbolize God’s leading as the pillar of fire by night during their wanderings. (I hope that this detail didn't give my boys any ideas because we could be left without a woods in our backyard if they take this lamp thing too seriously).

Anyway, at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles, all the lamps were extinguished, and the city returned to normal. And it was at the conclusion of this festival (just after all the lights had been extinguished) that Jesus offered these words from John 8:12, “I am the light of the world – he who follows me will never walk in darkness.” Jesus was cleverly applying all the symbolism of the pillar of fire to himself. He was claiming to be God. The God who led his people out of slavery and into deliverance. Jesus was demanding to be followed in the same way that the Israelites followed the pillar of fire. He's the one providing the light after all - how else would one know where to go in the dark?

It was fun to talk with the boys in the midst of our little project about how important it is to follow Jesus wherever he takes us because it will always be the best adventure of all.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Fun Night for Grown Ups

Tomorrow night is going to be awesome. The last Meta Cafe was a great night for adults to get out of the house and get with some other folks and just have a blast at Grace - here are the details:

Friday, May 2 from 8pm-12am: coffee, drinks, and snacks for sale, free wireless internet, games, Rock Band, Wii Sports, and volleyball.
Meta Cafe is a great place to come either on your own or with a group. Come on out and meet some new people.
Visit here for updated information.
PLEASE NOTE: Meta Cafe is for those 18yrs and older only. Leave your kids (if you have them) with a babysitter and come on out. I'll be coming out after football practice...