Friday, October 31, 2014

Damn.

A pastor friend of mine once told me of one of his first pastoral visits. A woman in the church had become widowed far too early in life.

The pastor was heading over to visit with her. He had his seminary training in his back pocket. He had Scripture verses of comfort memorized and ready to share. He was confident he would bring comfort and hope. He got there...did all the professional pastoral moves that he had been trained on. And the woman feigned gratitude for the visit. As he was wrapping up his theologically and pastorally successful first visit, a great friend of the grieving widow came. She embraced her friend fiercely and just said, "Damn" over and over.

The woman would later tell the pastor candidly that while his visit was appreciated, it didn't have nearly the value as her friend who simply cussed.

To be sure, there are many things we can do as God's people to care for the hurting and heartbroken and maybe swearing isn't the most edifying of options...

But sometimes things are lousy. Yes there is grace. There is unconditional love. There is relentless hope. I have cemented my life into these truths. That Jesus can make ashes into beauty. That he can make dead hearts beat again. That with Him, the worst thing is never the last thing.
But there is also the reality that things aren't the way they are meant to be and while hope and beauty and love are absolutely and completely true in Jesus, there's also the reality that things can be really really lousy.

Had a "Damn" moment today.

Chaia still has a pseudo tumor in her head that is putting pressure on her optic nerve. The pressure has been quite high and the thought was if increased doses of meds didn't do the trick, we would have to be more aggressive to save her eyesight.

Today was the day to find out the pressure levels from eye doctor. Results are that the pressure is still too high.

So, it looks like we're heading toward another procedure or two at the Cleveland Clinic. Big question is fenestration or shunt, which we'll figure out after meeting with neurologists in two weeks.

But in the meantime, Shaina and I saw the cloud of weariness return today. We will do what we have to do. That's the calling of perseverance. It's the calling of parenthood. And we will cling to hope, because He has shown Himself immensely faithful throughout generations and throughout our story.

But there is ache in this story.

Ache to know that this little lady who has been a fearless overcomer has to suit up for another battle. Sure the battle is relatively minor compared to the other fights she has been in, but frustrating nonetheless.

Ache to know that even when things are relatively good, there's still a caveat.

Ache where your expectations don't match up with your experiences.

Ache to know that the healing we've pleaded for is already but not yet.

You don't have to have a kiddo go through something like this to know this ache. This melancholy. This sadness.

And I think the word I want to share with you in that ache is two fold.

Damn (because things aren't the way they should be).

The best is yet to come (because He holds the future in His hands and His hands are good, secure, and strong.)





Monday, October 27, 2014

The Journey of Fasting

We are in a really interesting journey through the book by the prophet Zephaniah.

He goes through a series of things, ideas and values that the people in Judah and the surrounding lands were hoping would preserve and save them.

Self made saviors.

Thankfully we have evolved over the last 2700 years and don't turn to things, ideologies or values (or people or nations or ______) to save us. (#sarcasm)

So we're inviting C3 to join us in fasting from some potential self made saviors.

Fasting has been practiced throughout our story as the people of God. People seeking God's face. I've heard that part of the gift of the discipline of fasting is that we say no to things that we can say no to now, so that later on we can say no to the things we can't say no to right now. It builds up our dependence on God.

So last week we kicked it off with a church wide fast from food for 24 hours, praying and asking God to move.

This week, we're inviting everyone to fast from wealth building. Jesus cautioned over and over about the danger of serving two masters and storing up treasures here where moth and rust destroy. The idea is that for the month of November, whatever you'd save for car or housing or 401ks or vacation or a PS4 or college funds or retirement or ___________, you don't save for a month and you give it away where you see God at work.

It's been funny to watch people's reactions to the invitation to fast. The week we are inviting people to fast from screens happens to be the week of a big football game. People were upset. The week we invite people to eliminate spending/shopping happens to be the week of Black Friday. People were upset.

Maybe that is exactly the point. Where you get most defensive and upset might indicate some treasure and heart things.

The invitation to spend time seeking God rather than the things that keep us comfortable and complacent is hitting a nerve for many of us. I hate it and love it all together.

Join us and see what God does.

Change starts here.



Monday, October 13, 2014

Leadership Advance!

It is perhaps the most important thing we do at City Campus Church.

We don't meet 4 Sundays a year.

And one of those Sundays, all the leaders and apprentices get away for a weekend called the Leadership Advance.

It is essentially a family vacation. 16 of us in one house on Lake Erie.

Praying. Playing. Laughing. Crying.

Shaping the things to Come.

My primary task as the leader of City Campus Church isn't to shape or cast vision.

It isn't to study and preach the Word.

It isn't to develop killer systems that do nice things.

It isn't to care and shepherd.

All of those things are important roles, but the primary task is to pray for and replicate leaders.

Jesus didn't hang out with the 5000 for very long. He knew that great teaching and shock and awe miracles would never sustain a movement. He knew he would be required to continually "one-up" himself to keep the crowds engaged.

But to focus on 12? To invest in 12? Jesus knew he could change the world.

He entrusted not just his teaching or his insight or his wisdom to those who followed Him, He entrusted His life.

And the world has changed drastically because of that move.

Shaina and I are not Jesus (shocker!), but together we can invest in 12. We are clearly not as skilled or wise or strong as Jesus when it comes to making disciples, but anything that is worth doing is worth doing badly. We will get better and better at it.

And while Jesus led his 12 to change the world, maybe we could let God work in such ways that we could at least change some neighborhoods in our city.

I can't do more than I can do.

But if what I can do is show others how to do what I can do so that they can too show what they can do to others, discipleship happens.

And last time I checked, if you follow Jesus, this is your calling.

Has anyone ever showed you how they do what they do as they follow Jesus? Are you showing anyone how to do what you can do as you follow Jesus?