Fresh thoughts gleaned from my freefalling friend

One of my favorite blogs is my friend, Heidi’s (Lessons in Freefalling).  Today, she posted some thoughts by Parker Palmer.  I’m not going to write anymore…just let these thoughts bathe over your soul:

"… as soon as we succumb to someone else’s definition of who we are,
we lose our sense of true self and of our right relation to the world.
It makes no difference if those projections make us the hero or the
goat: when we allow others to name us, we lose touch with our own truth
and undermine our capacity to cocreate in life-giving ways with ‘the
other.’

…So the woodcarver resist people’s efforts to name him
from the outside in. With simplicity and clarity, he claims the right
to name himself from the inside out: ‘I am only a workman: I have no
secret.’ When we fail to take this first, critical step of fending off
projections and reserving the right to name our own truth, we become
lost in eternal smoke and mirrors and cannot even find the trail head
of the path into our inner lives.

… What projections surround
me? where do they come from? What drives them? how do they distort my
sense of self? How am I dealing with them, and how might I deal with
them better? How can I name and claim my own truth? Such questions, and
our answers to them, are critical steps on the journey toward and
undivided life."

— Parker J. Palmer,
A Hidden Wholenes

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Sometimes I’m hopeful…sometimes I’m not…today, I’m not!

Well…here goes.  Today I received in my mailbox another issue of a denominational magazine that frequents my life.  Let me say at the outset, I’ve been involved in many, many conversations that, at times, bring me alot of hope about the institutional church.  I’ve witnessed firsthand many leaders and denominational executives asking new questions and attempting to look at the 21st century from a refreshing Kingdom perspective.  There are synods, districts, convocations, and numerous other denominational jurisdictions that are attempting to engage local churches in new conversations about ministry.  Some of my friends think that I’m just plain cynical about the local institutional church…there are times, I must admit, that it is very easy to shoot at such a sitting duck.  What’s the old cliche?  Shooting fish in a barrel?  I don’t know…whatever cliche you want to use, the institutional church is an easy target…especially when you have been on the "inside" for such a long time.  I served in a mainline church/denomination for over 30 years so I feel like I have not only a right but also the privilege of taking some well-placed volleys at something in which I have so heavily invested.  Even so, there are things that cross my desk or computer screen where the old temptation to simply blast the church comes creeping up again.  Like this article that I read in the monthly magazine I received today…the article, "Top 10 Reasons to worship this summer".  The author, a local pastor, went on to list ten reasons why people should come to "church" during the season where attendance traditionally dwindles.  First of all, the assumption in the article is that worship ONLY happens in a building at a prescribed time.  In fact, one of his ten points is that "we all have a limited time to worship".  As I said above, too easy of a target to shoot at…my common sense and incredible wisdom does not permit me from jumping on that.  I stated above that there are times when I have hope for the local church…then there are times where I don’t.  After reading this article, I have to admit…today is NOT a hopeful day.  It isn’t just that the article is there for people to read but it is also prominently in a denominational magazine that is not-so-subtly promoting this mindset and praxis.  I guess I shouldn’t be discouraged…I should simply be glad that there are those who more and more "get it".  So, with that…I’m "done" for the day on the blog.  On to other things…

By the way, don’t forget to check out the Youth Leadership Institute’s TEAM 07 conference coming up in July @ Azusa Pacific University.  If you are youth worker who wants to invest your student’s lives in something that will challenge them intellectually, theologically and practically to live as "difference makers" in the culture, check out the conference @ our website (www.yliapu.org).  Renew_logo4

DeVries shoots another one across the “bow of life”

Yep, read this on Mikey’s blog today.  He didn’t write it or even originate the thought…but he wisely posted it!  So, thanks Mikey for listening to your brilliant and wonderful wife and passing a great quote:

"The greatest cause of atheism is Christians who
acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door and deny him
with their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds
unbelievable."

[Brennan Manning, quoted in Shane Claiborne’s book, The Irresistible Revolution]

The “fun” of Community

Many of you know that over a year ago, we began a new leg of our life’s journey.  We moved to Idaho of all places…feeling like God was leading us to a place instead of a specific ministry.  In the past, our moves were dictated by a new sense of call to a community of faith (aka local church).  This move was dictated by a search for a new place to live and "do" life differently…to live missionally, in community…attempting to experience what we had been talking and dreaming about for years.  Let me tell you about some of the things we learned…especially about this wonderful thing called, "community":

Where we’ve been in our experience of Community and Living the Kingdom:

a.    Romanticism of Community – Community is something that sounds good, comforting and “right” but it really is very dangerous.  The closer we get to the intent of Jesus for our lives together, the closer we are going to get not only to the Enemy’s desire to sow seeds of discord and destruction but also the closer we are going to get to the core issues of our lives that hamper the experience of Community.  Intimacy in relationship is ALWAYS something to celebrate but it is also something that is extremely costly.   We continue to pray for wisdom, love for each other, and spiritual protection as we work through temptations like…

>  Wondering “What’s in it for me?”  We came face to face with this issue within weeks…Community is not about meeting “my” needs.  There is nothing like Community to expose the selfishness, narcissism and deep seeded sense of consumerism that has invaded our souls.  Our community has to transcend those temptations…we have to have the love for each other and the desire to work through whatever issues that are presented.  We should enter into our next steps in Community with our hearts knowledgeable of the powerful dynamics that we can and will experience…but we should NOT be shortsighted and overly optimistic…it is not by chance that Jesus said in Luke 14 to “count the cost”.  We will encounter issues like this and the community has to be committed to work through whatever is presented in the journey of our lives.

> Walking into War – There are two things that I know get the attention of the Enemy – transformed lives that make an impact on others and those experiencing the fullness of life together in community.  Community is powerful – transformative and life-giving – each of us in our community dreampt of this for too long…we want to walk life together and experience what God has in store.  That’s exactly what the Enemy will NOT want us to experience.  We have to pray together for spiritual protection and for the Lord’s power to find victory in the journey. 

b.    This is God’s Vision  – all I know is that we are holding a “tiger by the tail”.  I get the sense, as do all of you, that as we embarking on this community journey that we are about something that is not only going to have an impact on our lives and families but on many others.  We don’t know the whole story yet…we don’t have a clue about all God is going to do…but there are many people who are going to be ministered to by the journey that we are beginning together.  This is God’s vision…not something that can be corralled, controlled, or contained. 

Tell you the truth, it was so much easier to just do "normal church" vs. jumping into having more "fun" in community!

Small Vacation from Blogging

Mickey_mouse_2
And now ladies and gentlemen, a small vacation from blogging.  Tough for me in some way but under the circumstances, perfectly understandable!  Beginning tomorrow, Vicky and I fly to SoCal for the BIG, HUGE, STUPENDOUS, MASSIVE, FUN-FILLED celebration of Abby’s healing.  Over two years ago, days before Abby was diagnosed with ALL Leukemia, Vicky, Abby and I were standing in Disneyland enjoying time together.  It was her first real Disney trip where she could start to really have fun in the park as a kid.  Within a couple of days, life turned upside down.  You can follow the entire journey from our discovery of her condition through the healing on abbyupdate.blogspot.com.  Suffice to say, it has been an extremely "powerful" journey.  Abby said after she was finished with treatment that the FIRST THING she wanted to do was go to Disneyland with Nana and Papa.  So, tomorrow we are off!  Four days in San Clemente by the beach…Sea World for a day…and then, THE MAGIC KINGDOM for four days…park hopper passes, Cinderella breakfasts, the Grand California hotel…the whole works!  So, I’m not blogging…sorry about that!  Tell you what…when you think of me over the next week, say "thanks God’ for all the ways He has taught and ministered to our family through Abby’s journey and THEN sing a chorus of "It’s a small world after all"…that will keep you in the mood!  I’ll be back soon…in the meantime, I’m all about the ears!

Abby’s new journey is just beginning – cancer free!

Abby
My lovely and wonderful granddaughter, Abigail, has finished her journey!  After being diagnosed with Leukemia two and a half years ago…after countless pills, pokes, problems, pain and, most importantly, prayer, she is emerging healed and ready to take a step into a new phase in life.  I not only praise God for His graciousness in Abby’s life but I thank the countless people from literally around the globe who have been our partners in prayer and a very loving community as we have walked with Abby through this ordeal.  Here’s what her dad, Mark, wrote the other day:

Well the last pill was given last night. I still put the spoon back in
the chemo container with the remnant pills and put it away. I don’t
really know what to do with it all now. What will we use that space on
the top of our microwave for now? I’m also going to get back about 2
square feet of cabinet space back too. What will I do with such sacred
space? 🙂  Anyway, pray for Abby’s continued healing. I’m excited
to see the gradual change as her body gets rid of these chemo
substances and starts to slowly back to normal. I bet combination of
low altitude, higher blood counts and lots of sugar in Disneyland will
make for one energetic little girl! And one exhausted little girl by
the end of the day!  Have a great day and enjoy the fireworks in your life too!

So, the family is off to Disneyland and SoCal to do some celebrating this week.  First, to the pier in San Clemente for some precious and much anticipated "ocean" time.  Abby loves the ocean.  Then, to Sea World…and finally to the "promiseland", er, Disneyland for four days.  We’re going to do everything in our power to make sure she has a good time.  Like I said, a new journey is beginning!