Thursday, September 27, 2012

...and then Jesus farted.

The following observations are not just true of the social media world, but real human conversations that happen daily. I'm noticing Facebook and twitter interactions are generated easily on topics of kids' quotes, creepy-lazy-eyed naked dolls, foodie delights, every and any sports topic, entertainment of all kinds, and farts. Yes, farts. Did you just smile like a 5th grader, or scowl like librarian? Because I have this huge grin right now. I'm fully smiling. I just say the word, "fart," and have to smile.
(Pray for me).

Now, smelling them is a completely different topic. I will admit I have actually vomited due to a hand full of farts. Well, two farts to be exact. And yes, one of them was my own, but I won't go into detail unless I get a resounding bunch of feedback to do so. Which, based on this post, could just happen. (Ladies, wait! Don't click away in disgust, yet, it gets better. Men, this is what drew you in, wasn't it?).

I digress.

Well, no, I don't.

We all know how funny, (most of the time, and at least for a few moments before the stench kicks in), those God-created, floating air biscuits can be. Especially when they come out of the bottom of a kindergarten child in the middle of "circle time." See my status from September 20th, here.

And let's be honest. When you wanna get a laugh, or a good reaction, break out the fart jokes. Tell a good self-deprecating story of a fart on a first date and you're the hit of the party. (Check this blog story out, you will pee, and fart, yourself laughing). Status updates about farts, sports, entertainment, and witty rants to the unknown person, (Dear Lady who cut me off), will always get lots of likes, "lol's", and Haha funny!" Both in real and virtual life.

Consider me guilty! I love all that stuff. (and will continue to generate such content:)

But when you want to do the exact opposite, when you want to completely stop a conversation (online or in real time), elicit comments,  and initiate the immediate chorus of crickets chirping, say something about Jesus.

Cue crickets: ....Chirp. Chirp. Chirp.

Ok, that may be extreme. Or is it?

Let me just say,I'm so glad for those that regularly comment, and share stories of their experiences with God (along with witty postings discussed earlier). I also love engaging with others online who aren't following Jesus, but are interested in a genuine dialogue about God based those postings ( I love how social media can be used like that).

But it might just be me, but I notice a lack in these types of postings since returning to Facebook after my sabbatical. Obviously from my last post, I've been in a different place so maybe I'm just especially sensitive to these things.  But wouldn't you agree that posts we poke fun at life are a lot more interesting to the facebook world then posts where people people ask for prayer (unless a person or pet dies, that people come out in droves), post scripture, or try to be vulnerable? Maybe it's just because that's what's really on our mind most of the time, so we post what's on our mind? (I don't really believe that).

I see a few people regularly write out scripture in their status updates. The comments are usually few. The equivalent of crickets in my opinion.  So,  intentionally I've been commenting and interacting with such posts. because I know as someone who posts similar things, it can be really encouraging to be on the receiving end of even something as small as a "like."

But, I admit, it's easy to pass those posts over scouting out for something juicy funny like those "Some E-cards." (How hilarious and right on are those at times?).

Because, come on, it's just easier, and safer, to not only post the silly stuff, but troll around for the comical comments and pictures.

It just may be too risky to post something deep, or take the time to comment on some one's spiritual authenticity online.  For what if I comment get linked into something I'm not willing to be associated with? We may not post meaningful or spiritual updates for fear our boss, neighbor, or politically minded relative might get offended.

All too often I've thought, if I share my opinion, or detail what God is doing in my life,  I get pigeon holed, or worse yet, what if someone deletes me because I virtually O.D. on God in my postings. (Some of you maybe be fully over THIS blog for that reason).

This type of sharing is risky, and requires a bit of commitment, boldness, and acceptance of what may come.

Otherwise it's just easier to refrain from saying anything at all.

Isn't this true in real life? What if I say too much about God? What if I get mocked for having my Bible in my cubicle, or get rejected trying to initiate prayer or talk about my church?

I've been so convicted both in the real world, and in the virtual world, with wanting to make the time to go be intentional about engaging with God, and engaging with others. And, this comes at a price.
What if we interacted intentionally MORE in real life AND in social media about real issues? What if we saw every conversation as the potential to go deep? Then what great stories we could share! We'd probably see a whole lot more interesting updates to comment on...........or ...not.

Ok, another online and real life observation.

One day, in a "Usual Suspects" kind of way,  I noticed most of my posts' comments were all of the female species! I often notice that those willing to interact, share honestly, initiate prayer, and post about deep things are women. To date, all of the people who have come up to me in person to converse about my blogs, are, you guessed it, ladies! (Most of them are related to me, too. Thanks mom and mom-in-law).

What would I do with out you fanatic stay-at-home moms and smart phone working women, taking the time to shout out and share your  responses online. (You obviously have the unfair advantage above men considering that you are so good at sharing your feelings and multi-tasking!).

 But I must admit, one day, hovered over my laptop, I started having doubts about my manhood. Maybe I should be posting about bad referee calls, UFC fights, and monster trucks more or something.

Not sure what to make of it.

Or maybe I'm making a plea. Men? Please! Please?

Join me.I  want to be a man of God, and join other men of God in this interaction. I welcome feedback from you men, and I expect it from you women :)!

So, what are you feeling right now? Are you are uncomfortable, ticked off, annoyed, bored, or even tickled (who says that besides my grandma?) reading this post. If you are any of those. Keep reading. I have one more thought.

How awesome would it be if the the apostles' writings would have included a fart moment with Jesus?

Yes, I said it. Fart and Jesus in the same sentence.

 Ok, now I now I've lost some of you, and others are ready to write a letter to get me fired from PCC.


Simmer down, Pharisees, I'm just having some fun.
(And go and read my last post at the bottom # 10). 

I mean, come on! You've never thought about it?  Jesus was human. He got tired, he cried, he bled. I always wonder what it was like for him to deal with bathroom issues, especially in the 1st Century.

 I think about it a lot. And I thank God for toilets and toilet paper.

TMI? Sorry.

Because if those moments were in the Bible, they would solve all my online comment insecurities and  problems. And more men would be posting scripture! Think how many comments those postings would get? Luke 9:75..."and then Jesus farted."

 Just imagine, Peter, John, and the rest of the twelve praying around a fire. Poor guys, it already smelled bad back in those days without deodorant and CK1. They had eaten their fill of fish and bread and Jesus would be teaching them about true discipleship, when all of a sudden he lets a huge one rip. Bartholomew begins to chuckle. James shoots him one of those "Sunday school teacher looks." Peter tries to hold it in but he can't help but burst out in laughter. Then Jesus would smirk, shrug his shoulders, and point the blame finger toward Judas and all the disciples would crack up! Judas would whine, "It wasn't me, everyone blames me," and he would storm out all mad. Jesus would say, "I'm just having some fun," and wink at the other disciples. He'd chase after Judas saying,
"Let's talk about it, Judas! We are men! We were meant to talk about these things. We can joke around AND be deep, too . "

Let the comments, or crickets, begin.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I want to be dangerous

It's almost been three weeks since returning from Sabbatical. I, now, know why it is so easy to have those momentary "spiritual highs," or mountain top experiences, on retreats and such. We go away, have uninterrupted time with out distractions and busyness. We experience God in extraordinary ways, eat good food (usually), laugh like crazy, re-energize, and refocus on what's really important in life.

It's during some of those defining moments, where we truly believe life was meant to be lived in such intimate communion with God. But then those retreats, mission trips, or sabbaticals, in my case, have to end and we have to return home. We have to go "back to the grind," and "back to reality." And then we forget. We find ourselves in the same ordinary routine, rut, or schedule we were before. Others can't relate to our experience, or aren't even interested in hearing about it. We forget the fun, the freedom, and those moments of laughing until milk comes out of our nose. And sometimes, or maybe most of the times, we forget what God said to us, we forget the closeness we experienced, and we forget what happened wasn't just meant to be a week-long/end experience or three month break. What if, what happened in those moments, when God had our full attention and spoke to us in intimate ways, was the life pattern he intended. I believe he means to speak to us ALL THE TIME.
I wonder, though, what would happen if we really believe that?

This past Tuesday, our young adult community kicked-off with the reminder that following the way of the Rabbi, was meant to be NATURALLY SUPERNATURAL. Ordinary, compartmental, average, and nominal are not words in which would ever be described of Jesus and his early followers. In the book of Acts, I was brought to my knees this week. Like I said in my last post, I was reading of the disciples courage to speak up and live such lives that all who saw were either disturbed, filled with awe, or afraid to join them for fear of dying (See Acts chapter 5 and make sure to read verses 12-16 below).
Acts 5:12-16:
The apostles were performing many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers were meeting regularly at the Temple in the area known as Solomon’s Colonnade. But no one else dared to join them, even though all the people had high regard for them. Yet more and more people believed and were brought to the Lord—crowds of both men and women.  As a result of the apostles’ work, sick people were brought out into the streets on beds and mats so that Peter’s shadow might fall across some of them as he went by. Crowds came from the villages around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those possessed by evil spirits, and they were all healed.

That's radical and different! That's dangerous! This was the Church that Jesus was starting. A movement, and collection of radical followers willing to give their lives and take beatings for the name of Jesus. (Sound like your Church? Sound like a Church you'd want to be a part of?).  His people were never meant to be limited to one day a week, watching someone else worship, and constantly checking their watch so they don't miss a football game.
When people think of the Church gathering today, most,  (including followers of Jesus), picture something else way different that what we see in the book of Acts. And sure, some people have their excuses, or can intellectualize away why things today will never look they way they did "back then."

I cannot accept that.

I must be a part of this kind of community we see modeled through the scripture. This is the WAY it should be. Yet, if this is going to happen, it will require a radical re-shifting of our time, thinking, and the way do things. (I'm curious if any body would like to contribute boldy to this conversation in the comments. What would this look like? How would things have to change?)

When we believe the love of God is so real and his power is already at work within us, we become changed people and people's lives are changed around us. (This is actually PCC's mission).  In fact, people will either run to join us or freak out and NOT want to join us for fear of losing their lives like in verse 13 (IE because of Ananias and Sapphira read the whole chapter for context).

So, my readers, my friends, family, fellow followers of Christ. We have something to live for. We have a God who is alive and loves us. And this life is too short to forget his goodness, to short to settle for the ordinary and the mundane, and too short to think that it's only possible in short weekend or sabbatical experiences. So we, I, must remind myself of those truths and moments when I experienced God and knew his truth, so that ordinary moments are recaptured back for the holy moments they were created for!

So, as I say goodbye to my summer sabbatical, I choose to remember and reflect. So I never forget. Here's some truths and experiences that shaped my summer and gave me passion for the future.

1-God is here. Now. I don't have to pray he shows up. I have to show up. I have to choose to be present, and help and teach others (discipleship) that this is true, also! He is with me everyday, with all of his followers.  Matthew 28:20.

2-My wife is amazing. She serves our family day in and day out. There's just not enough words, flowers, or diamond rings that could ever fully show appreciation to a woman, a mom, who gives her all. Any mom that is home with three (any number of) kids daily, deserves a life-time supply of massages (and/or mani/pedis (yes, I know what those are), girlfriend time, and just the luxury of sleeping in)! I love her and grew to appreciate her in ways I never have. She deserves so much more than I can give her. I got a true gift in my marriage to her. Proverbs 18:22
3. Not wearing a watch is one of the best things ever.. I think of Jesus who just went about his day doing good as it came along. No appointments to rush to, days free of meetings, and open to healing people daily. Acts 10:38.

4--I love being a dad. There's nothing like it to humble someone to how selfish one can be, and nothing like it in the world that helps one understand the love of God. Proverbs 3:12.

5-God is not limited by our limitations. Summers are a bit challenging financially for us as we can make extra income through the year as my wife substitute teaches. This summer, with two big road trips, and two big airplane trips, we had a lot of extra expenses than normal. God provided all of our expenses in completely unique and supernatural ways. People who just gave because God told them, and God opened doors of blessing to make ends meet! He always provides. Philippians 4:19.

6-I grew more love for my family, near and far as we traveled to Illinois, Tahoe, and Socal. We spent a lot of time with family both in Chicago and locally. Family may be the best relational gift of this Earthly life time, as well as the best way to gauge if our love for others is real. There's no one who can see us for who we really are than those that have seen us over a lifetime.

7-I grew to enjoy an"American past-time". I've never really been into the 4th of July. Sorry, fireworks, parades...never been my thing. But, like I said in #2, #4, and #6, because of family, those moments are more than just holidays or traditions. They are opportunities to create cherished family memories. One of our favorite summer times was in the backyard of my brother's house, on a sweltering hot Chicago night. We sat there drinking iced tea, watching our kids run around with sparklers, and lighting off fireworks. We wanted to freeze that moment in time. It was perfect. Almost. We just thank the Lord nothing was set on fire, and all the neighbors were physically, unharmed. Emotionally scarred, maybe, but absolutely no blood was shed.

8-It's important to laugh at the craziness of life. It's important to expect your one year old to urinate so much in her diaper that in leaks all over your lap, within the first five minutes of a five hour plane flight.

9-This life isn't a game. It's a mission. And Jesus isn't so concerned with us being nice, safe, or comfortable. If we want to really follow Him,  and experience the Holy Spirit, we must expect the unexpected daily! This will either result in awe and wonder, and/or opposition from the Evil One and disgruntled people as we read and experience stories from the Bible (see #11) This is life! Ephesians 6:10-18.

10-Which leads me to my next take-away. Pleasing God is a much more fulfilling life goal than trying to please people. We must get over wanting people to like us and not being authentically who we are in Jesus. We have to be willing to led God really live through us, and make us dangerous. Take some risks. Pray for strangers, initiate spiritual conversations, prayer walk, stand up for truth, initiate change, call out apathy, and be willing to obey what the Spirit is leading. It might not make you popular, (even within the church), but you'll experience God! Galatians 1:10.

11-Although the Bible is a book, with  intellectual and literary value, it's much more. It's a collection of life-changing truth and stories meant for us to know God resulting in a heart experience with who he really is, not just words to enhance our heads and knowledge. If we miss this, we miss God, and we miss LIFE!. John 5:31-36.

I could go on an on. But, let me just stop here, get off this computer, and get on with being dangerous.
(BTW, that'd be a great name for a church).

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Being human can be hard, being fish is harder

It's been twelve days since I returned from my sabbatical. Twelve days of transitioning back to a routine, wearing a watch, and wearing more than just a swimsuit 24/7.  I wish I could say it's been easy.

As I shared in my last post, I experienced a lot of humbling moments this past summer. Particularly in June. My three month sabbatical started in the first month of summer. For the past fourteen summers, those three months have the most amazing and busiest times of my life. The reason? Because the church that I get to serve with has a life changing internship for young adults, lots of great programs, and a pool. Which means lots of great activity with lots more great people around. So, to have some rest from all that, for the first time in fourteen years, is truly a gift. But the first few weeks of my "rest," were not restful at all. It was the opposite. I was restless. I didn't know what to do with myself. I was totally removed from my weekly regimen, cut myself off from email and facebook, and was on a week-long road trip with three kids five and under. MERCY! I felt like a fish out of water, a bit like I had to find who I was again. How do I be me without doing all the things I love to do, in which I also make my living?

 I had many obvious moments in June were God fathered me. He spoke to me to let go of my expectations. These three months, each and every day of summer, belonged to Him. He had plans for me that I couldn't even fathom. I kept getting the image of opening my hands as I prayed and processed my feelings. God wanted me to let go of my expectations. Unbeknownst to me, I had brewed a list of (selfish) expectations of what I thought my sabbatical should entail. He spoke very clearly to me about this one night through my wife. She just repeated back to me things I had said to a few people, when I was asked  how things were going on sabbatical so far. (Keep in mind this was two weeks in to June). When I heard her words, I was so convicted. That person sounded so entitled, so unhappy. That's not who I am, or who I wanted to be. I knew I  needed to change ASAP. I needed to renew my mind. Everywhere I read in the Bible during that time, God affirmed my identity as his Son, his loved one. That's where the devotional, "Jesus Calling", was so amazing. I read it daily and found myself so quickly! (This will always be the case when we live God's word). The beautiful thing about this devotional book is that it uses God's word to create a first person type reading (from Jesus). Through it, I remembered instantly who I was. I am God's, his son, and I can trust him to lead and provide everything I need (beyond my expectations). He showed me my sabbatical, was not just for me, but for my whole family. So I am so happy to look back in awe (especially of July and August), when our family really hit a great stride, I was relaxed, and at a beach or pool daily. We had so many amazing trips and times together, with no agenda other than to be together. It was unforgettable on so many levels.

So, now I'm I have no issues and every thing is perfect. Not quite. The crazy thing is, it almost feels like September may be another, "finding myself again," month. I came back so excited, refreshed, energized, and defined in my passions. And guess what came along for the ride? Expectations. How did that happen? I thought I was done with humility? Gone are the days of open schedules and long walks on the beach. And I guess I had plans for what I thought September would look like, and God simply says, "Keep your hands open." Once again, I'm a fish. Not so much out of water, but in new water, different water. Or maybe it's the same water, but the fish is different? I'm not trying to be all poetic here, but I do know that transition is upon me, again. And so I get to re-learn, or remember what I learned just a few months back. What a great adventure. As followers of Christ, we share his identity and to truly live into that, we must keep our mind in God's truth. Tonight, I had one of those "collapse in the arms of Jesus" moments. It was beautiful. I was reading the Bible with my kids in their bed, and then we prayed together. God used their words like a healing salve to my soul. I realized that I allowed restlessness to creep back into my heart. Silly things like worry, I easily allow access into my life. Why? How quickly I forget the truth. God always provides financially for us, he brings peace to crazy schedules, and will let nothing prevent his will from being done. God loves his children to have faith. And God satisfies us. Jesus said, He gives peace like no one and nothing else (John 14:27).  Through the words of children, my children, I was brought back to the simple pleasure of being God's child, with nothing to worry about, safe in his care. I was holding back the tears as I laid with my kids in their bed. After all was said and done I tip-toed out of their room to leave them to fall asleep, and just fell to my knees in gratefulness and adoration. God is so good, so true, and everything we need. Regardless of what kind of fish I am, or what kind of water I swim in, I rest in the truth that I am created by God, and for God, and that's enough.

Next time, I'll blog about other learning moments from the summer, share some video highlights. and more on transitions.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

As Jack Nicholson would say...

For some reason I can't say the words, "I'm back," without picturing the movie, The Shining. Creepy, right? So although I don't want to produce nightmares for anyone, I do want to jump back into life (and the virtual life of social media) with a bang, (sorta)!

Speaking of social media, probably one of the weirdest things about my sabbatical was #1-the weird reality of being disconnected from knowing what's up through status updates and pictures (I have no idea who's dating, engaged, or pregnant right now) and #2-the realization that checking status updates and pictures actually results in disconnection from reality. Probably not the most profound ah-ha moment but something I'm hoping will look different in my "post-sabbatical" life. With time on Facebook I had time to do many other creative things (which I will share in the coming weeks as I blog).  It's September first and I haven't logged into Facebook, yet. I'm still going to give it a few days. I'm considering some margin around how I utilize Facebook in the future, but still haven't come to any conclusions yet. However, I've jumped back into Twitter, it's much more low maintenance, as I expected, and I like that!

That leads me to my next realization from my summer off. Sabbatical was NOT what I expected. I thought I had no expectations, or tried not to have any, but I guess subconsciously I had a huge list and it quickly became evident that God was leading me in a different summer than the one I had in mind.  I learned an incredible amount about myself and life as a husband and father. I had an amazing time with my family, and had major moments of experiencing God on the way. I especially experienced a lot of humbling and conviction. look forward to sharing those lessons learned through out September as I wade back into life in Redwood City and with our PCC family.

So, unlike Jack in the Shining, I'm not going to be yelling and screaming my way back into community, but I'm taking my time to find my place again. It feels like the first day of school. I have an excited "butterflies in my stomach feeling," craving to hear how every one's summer went, and wishing I had a new backpack. So if you see me around let's swap summer vacation stories and get stoked for what's upcoming on the our fall syllabuses, or syllabi, whatever you prefer.