Finished our Screening last night and had a great journey!

HeaderLast night our faith community finished watching the documentary, "Purple State of Mind",.  Produced by some new friends of ours, The Priddy Brothers, this documentary follows a relationship…a good relationship between old friends and college roommates.  The conversation is filmed in all of its raw freshness.  It is full of emotion, reality, conflict, resolution, feeling, insight, intelligence and, most importantly, love.  The thing that struck our community (we viewed it over four weeks…allowing ourselves to watch one conversation a night) was the integrity of this friendship despite considerable political and theological differences.  Here is a synopsis of the film from the PSOM website:

Welcome to a conversation between two old friends. Welcome to a real
conversation about the things that divide and unite all of us: our
memories, our identities, our beliefs, our choices.
  Craig Detweiler and John Marks have known each other for twenty-five
years. When they roomed together as sophomores at Davidson College,
they were devout Christians. It was Craig’s first year in the faith,
John’s last. After college, they parted ways, and when they met again,
years later, they never talked about what happened… until now…

       
       


Their conversation starts as a bull session between pals and becomes a
story about how people make friends, and how they lose them; how people
change, how they grow, and how they deal with the big stuff: death,
sex, the meaning of life, God. The conversation between Craig and John
captures in all its intimacy and difficulty a one on one reckoning
between two people who want to understand each other but won’t
compromise their beliefs.  At a time when the
country is ever more divided over questions of faith and doubt, welcome
to a new way of talking… welcome to a new territory of the heart.
Welcome to a Purple State of Mind.

I don’t know how to state it any clearer.  Our community discovered that following Craig and John’s journey made an impact on each of us.  It reminded us about the power of love and relationships…it showed us the power of listening and respecting someone despite differences.  It is truly one of the most "missional" films you will see…it gives people a picture of what relationships can be and how we can love as Jesus loved.  If I could afford to buy a bunch of copies and insist that the friends I have who are involved in a new "kind" of ekklesia watch it in the context of their faith communities and journeys, I would do it.  All I can do is encourage you to check it out on your own.  Following this conversation between Craig and John sparked significant conversation, questions, and insights within our community and it will in yours as well.  Hey, I’m saying all these things without the knowledge or encouragement of anybody related to the film…it is worth it to me to tell you about it! 

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Sometime Whining Pays off!

Ist2_2635490_whiningHey, I have to admit this…maybe it has to do with my morning discipline of "cleansing the soul"…but some whining on my behalf recently paid off!  Frankly, whiners should all be put out to pasture…but when I received an email from a group of blogger friends recently and did not find my name on the list of "new blogs" to read, I started to whine.  Yep, I emailed that group of buddies moments later crying out for some blogger love!  And, I am ashamed to admit, it actually worked.  In one day, the number of people visiting this site increased dramatically.  So, can we come to the conclusion – some whining pays off?  I don’t know…it is not a habit that I want to get into…but under the circumstances, it worked for me…at least once!

An End to an Era in my journey!

Ylilogocolor_4In 2003, I felt the call from the Spirit of God to leave the local church after pastoring for over 25 years to be able to join the staff/faculty of Azusa Pacific University.  Jon Wallace, the President of APU and Kevin Mannoia, Dean of the Theology School, offered me a position as the Executive Director of a Lilly Endowment Grant program.  I accepted the position…to lead the program for four years, spend 1.7 million dollars and explore and design new paradigms of leadership development and spiritual formation in the lives of high school and college students.  It has been quite a ride.  After two years, it was very clear to me that the Youth Leadership Institute was not going to be sustained within the University environment.  There are many reasons for that…let’s just say it was the right decision for APU.  Today I’ll be meeting with the current Dean of the Theology school to wrap up the program.  The grant money is just about gone…the program needs to be shut down.  It is a melancholy time in my life…after a four and a half year journey, YLI has had the opportunity to involve over 600 students in a program that has birthed a new passion in each of them to pursue faithfulness to the call of the Kingdom of God.  Sally Miller, my partner and Program Director, worked closely with me over the past years in bringing encouragement, enablement and challenge into the lives of each young person.  We’ve had the likes of Mike DeVries, Mike Erre, Jim Burns, Scot McKnight, Nathan Barnes, Dave Moore, Rickard Bjerkander, Brian Martini, Steve Gerali, Kara Powell, Dean Mellerstig, Chris Yambar, and Sarah Sumner in our teaching team…we had students from all over the USA and Canada as well as from Germany, Japan, Korea, Romania and Argentina in our program.  We’ve had close to 100 college aged young adults as staff members…we’ve had the creativity of Chaya Martini, Aaron Dugall, Ben Kroeker, Trace Bundy, Harp 46, Christine Clark, the Fanellis and a host of others who have helped us craft a new paradigm.  It has been quite a journey.  At the end of the year, YLI will cease to exist.  Thanks to each of you who have prayed and encouraged Sally and me along the way.  Thanks to my wife and best friend Vicky for her companionship and partnership all along the way.   And thanks to the Lord and APU for this opportunity.

The YLI strategy is being absorbed into Re/New Ministries…our missional community and ministry headquartered in Eagle, Idaho.  You can check it out HERE.

It is our hope to be able to continue on with TEAM conferences, T3 Wilderness Expeditions and the like through Re/New.  Keep us in prayer…keep me in prayer as this next step in the journey unfolds.  I’ll still be teaching as an Adjunct Professor in Biblical Studies @ APU…there are other things in the works as well.  In the meantime, I thank God for these last four and a half years!

Here’s a prayer that meant a lot to me today as I prepare to face some "new waves" of life – it was posted by the intrepid Brother Maynard:

St. Brendan’s Prayer

Shall I abandon, O King of mysteries, the soft comforts of home? Shall I turn my back on my native land, and turn my face towards the sea?

Shall I put myself wholly at your mercy, without silver, without a horse, without frame, without honour? Shall I through myself wholly food and drink, without a bed to lie on? Shall I say farewell to my beautiful land, placing myself under Your yoke?

Shall I pour out my heart to You, confessing my manifold sins and begging forgiveness, tears streaming down my cheeks? Shall I leave the prints of my knees on the sandy beach, a record of my final prayer in my native land?

Shall I then suffer every kind of wound that the sea can inflict? Shall I take my tiny boat across the wide sparkling ocean? O King of the Glorious Heaven, shall I go of my own choice upon the sea?

O Christ, will You help on the wild waves?

Back @ it!

Bookworm

The doctoral journey gets back on track today after a week off the track.  The Missional Order Gathering…being in Washington state…finishing up some issues with the Youth Leadership Institute and working toward a new ministry with a media resource company called, Transfer have kept me out of the dissertation pool.  Today I’m jumping back in!  My goal is to finish up by the end of the calendar year…today’s work is a literature review and a quick overview of the chapter I recently finished about the cultural issues/pressures facing an today’s youth ministry.  So, if you are my journey in some way, pray for me OK?  If not on my journey, pray anyway!  My topic is Adolescent Spiritual Formation and Leadership Development within a Missional Context.  Ok, got my intellectual "speedo" on…now it’s time to jump in!  Adios!

Brilliant!

There were many great thoughts and conversations that came out of the Missional Order conference this past week in Seabeck, WA.  If I’ve got some time, I’ll summarize some more…besides the Alan Roxburgh blast, here’s some insight that was worth its weight in gold:

If the farmer worked like the current church, he would:

Plow in the barn;

Plant in the barn;

Pray that it would rain in the barn;

Harvest in the barn; and,

then burn down the barn and call it revival!

Alan Roxburgh gets off a blast…good one too!

"99% of American churches are caught up in aesthetics and narcissism".  Oh yeah!  Bring it!  I tell you, Canadians are very smart and perceptive.  Of course, I should tell you that the comment came on the heals of a discussion on "video venues" and that some mega-churches are broadcasting their pastor’s services not only to multiple locations within a city but also outside the state to a satellite congregation that worships, er, likes the preaching of that pastor.  So, once you get the context, Alan’s comment makes sense.  True, Alan’s not feeling good…he’s got a bad case of bronchitis and an ear infection…he might be a bit grumpy…but he is very right!

One of the proofs that I’m Old!

Caution_footinmouth478x460Foot in Mouth disease…I’m getting it in spades.  As I am wrestling with my age, I’m discovering that I perceive of myself as much younger than I actually am.  Example – today at the Missional Order conference, I’m talking to Pete Askew of the Northumbria Community.  I say to him as we are talking about students and missional communities, "Pete I need to talk to you about this because I perceive that we are about the same age…I’m 52…how old are you?".  He says, "I’m only 34".  Doh!  One of the proofs that I am getting old is that I think I’m younger.  I’ve got to come to some manner of accepting my age without acting my age…accepting my age without being in denial about the implications of it.  Oh well…it used to be that I would be able to be "flattering" to students by purposely telling them that they looked older than they actually were; now I’ve got to be careful about not telling adults that they are older than they actually are.  The tragedy is that I look around rooms now and sense that I’m really not much older than these people…and that’s when I’m hanging out with college students.  You see, it is a matter of perspective, isn’t it?  I think I’m going to buy the warning sign above…foot in mouth problems have got to be addressed in my life.  How about yours? 

Off to the Missional Order Gathering – Allelon!

Taidan2Tomorrow morning, I’ll be jumping on a Horizon Air flight for Seattle/Tacoma and heading to the Allelon-sponsored Gathering for a Missional Order @ Seabeck Conference Center.  Besides looking forward to what appears to be a magnificent site, I’m looking forward to meeting some people that I have waited for a long time to meet.  In addition, I am looking forward to the discussions and hang out time.  I have some high interest in a Missional Order…not only for our community but also for the students that we have mentored over the past five years.  We "started" a Missional Order of our own with our Youth Leadership Institute students.  I am going to give you an opportunity to download our Missional Order booklet if you like…it will give you an chance to see some of the work I’ve done and YLI has accomplished in giving imagination to a new type of living for a young and growing Christ-follower.  I’ll try to keep up the blog while I’m there…no guarentees…I’m still working on my doctoral project…so, give me some needed space! 

A post from Jim Palmer that is too good to pass up

I’m ripping off Jim Palmer’s post from today on his blog.  I couldn’t have said this better:

just for a moment set aside all objections and religious
machinations, which the mind multiplies as it insists upon either
comprehending all things with the intellect, or demanding that a new
thought immediately fit like a puzzle-piece within a predetermined
system of understandings. for just a moment set all of that aside.

the focus of Jesus’ message was the “kingdom of God.” what if the
kingdom of God is the “end game.” in other words, what if God’s
ultimate desire and purpose for humankind is to live in the kingdom of
God. So, Jesus comes and says things like “the kingdom of God has
come…and is among you…and is within you,” and he taught about the
kingdom of God in parables, and was a living expression and
demonstration of the kingdom of God.

what if the kingdom of God is essentially a spiritual kingdom, which
is inside you. in this kingdom is only perfect love, perfect peace,
perfect contentment, perfect joy, and perfect freedom. the world system
says we must seek, toil, and secure these for ourselves in the external
world through success, achievement, financial independence, becoming a
somebody, doing religious or altruistic works, maintaining a certain
physical appearance, and all kinds of attachments to external outcomes
that the world says will bring love, peace, contentment, and freedom.

but what if he truth is that the only source of all these is God,
and God supplies these qualities from within us, and this is the
“kingdom of God” Jesus was talking about. in fact, Jesus came to
demonstrate this kingdom, teach about it, to awaken humankind to it,
and enable people to overcome every barrier to walking in and being
connected with the present reality of the kingdom of God, which is not
dependent upon any set of external circumstances. what if every thing
Jesus did was oriented towards helping us realize the “end game” of the
kingdom of God. even Jesus’ miracles, and healings, and all the ways he
alleviated the suffering around him was all meant ultimately to help
others along on their journey in being awakened to the present reality
of this kingdom of perfect love, peace, joy, contentment, and freedom.

what if the greatest thing God desires for each of us, and therefore
the greatest thing we could desire for others is to live in the kingdom
of God – right Now. what if Jesus was trying to say, die to the world
system, and be raised up with me into a new reality – the reality of
the kingdom of God. yes, you are IN the world for a purpose, but you
are not OF this world.

what if we allowed the “kingdom of God” to be our “end game,” and
trusted that all our objections and religious machinations would
ultimately in their time either disappear and find their proper place
accordingly. what if we let ourselves depend upon the spiritual
realities of the kingdom of God within us, and let that shape and
determine the rest of our spiritual journey. not a journey solely
driven from our intellect that takes pride in figuring it all out, but
shaped by the perfect love, peace, joy, contentment, and freedom of God.

as we live in this reality, others around us are awakened to the
existence of this kingdom, and the invitation to enter it. like Jesus,
our lives become an open invitation into death and resurrection – death
to the world matrix, alive in the kingdom of God. we don’t allow our
external circumstances to dictate the quality of our daily existence,
we depend on the reality of the kingdom of God within us, which is
dependent upon no specific set of circumstances. we go into the world
and we act, serve, work, care, aid, etc… as the Spirit leads, but all
the while knowing that the “end game” is more than simply altering a
person’s external circumstances and problems, but also desiring the
highest reality for all people – connecting with the present reality of
God’s kingdom.

Surgery went great…coming “home” today

Chaya is coming home today…the surgery went well…as we anticipated and prayed for, the tumor was completely benign.  So, it is all good…she’ll have a few weeks of recovery.  That will be the next prayer…she wants to get out of bed and go right back to teaching spin classes!  Yeah, she’s crazy..but the nuts never fall very far from the trees, do they?