Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Food Packing This Weekend

I'm incredibly excited about the opportunity that we have this weekend to pack 80,000 meals for people in Haiti.  What a great chance to actively participate in bringing relief to a nation that has been completely crippled and devastated.  I get even more excited when I think about the fact that the elements that will go into this Sunday were put in place long before the earthquake struck on January 12th.  By listening to God we were able to get ahead of the need.  And I know Parkside well enough to confidently say we'll continue to address the needs (in a very hands-on way) for years to come.

So let's celebrate together what God is doing this weekend through all of us at Parkside.  Both campuses will be pulling together to do something great.  Lots of us have invited friends and neighbors.  Talk with people in your circle of influence and come on out this Sunday.  See you then!

Salem Rd Campus: 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
River Campus: 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Quote I've Read Again Recently

I reread a quote recently that always strikes a deep cord within me.  This is an excerpt from The Present Future by Reggie McNeal:

The difference between planning and preparedness is more than semantics in the biblical teaching.  God does the planning; we do the preparing.  It is God who declares: "I know the plans I have for you," he says in Jeremiah 29:11.  He does not say, "I am waiting for you to develop plans I can bless."  I am not against planning.  I am just suggesting that there is a dimension beyond planning that is critical for us to understand.  We can settle for our imaginations, our plans, and our dreams.  In fact, I think the North American church has done just that.  We have the best churches people can plan and build. But we are desperate for God to show up and do something that only he can get credit for.  God wants us to pray and to prepare for his intervention.

God knows, we need it.

I pray about this for us at Parkside every day - that God would reveal His Kingdom to us rather than us trying to assert our kingdom on Him.

Farmer's Market in a Basket

This past week our family signed on with a local farm co-op.  Basically, we partner with 12-15 other people, pay $20 a month and get a basket filled with fruits and veggies.  This was our first week and I was well pleased with what $20 bought.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Pants in the Family

I'm usually very skeptical about what I'm about to tell you.  It's like Publisher's Clearing House or something.  Does anyone ever REALLY win in that stuff?  Anyway...

My wife is very good (read that: VERY good) at being frugal and saving money.  She carries a three-ring binder filled with coupons to Kroger.  She reads blogs to know what deals are out there.  She's sharp, I'm telling you.  If Y2010K strikes, come on over to our stash in the basement.  We'll all live for quite a while.

She got word that Dockers was going to be giving out a free pair of pants to the first 2000 people who responded once their ad was shown during the Super Bowl.  2000 people isn't many when you think about a whole nation watching (arguable only 1 1/2 % knew about the gimmick ahead of time, but that's no matter here).  So my wife had completed the form and was trigger-ready as soon as she saw the commercial that night.

And we won!  That's right.  I now own a new pair of Dockers.  We actually received them yesterday, which might I add is very prompt on their part.  I've included a picture just to prove it's real.  Pretty cool, huh.  Thanks for letting me wear the pants, honey.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Outreach Leadership Team

I've had the opportunity to work with the leadership team of our Outreach Ministry for the last few months as they've collaborated on some big discussions.  They've worked very hard and the results are showing.

We launched the River Campus back in the fall of '09 in the East End/Columbia Tusculum neighborhood as a complement to over 25 years of ministry that has been going on in that area through the Outreach.  They've been a concrete way that the love of Jesus has been made known.  [If you've never volunteered at Outreach, I can't encourage you strongly enough to do so.]

Now that team is looking diligently at how they can deepen their ability to see movement in the lives of guests/clients and perhaps figure out a way to become more mobile (both to address crisis needs in other areas as they arise and to be able to go ahead of our next campus - whenever that happens).  The reconfiguration will mean that Outreach volunteers will be able to actually sit down with a guest/client and talk to them, both to get information about their immediate physical needs but also talk about spiritual needs and family concerns.  Since this process will require more room for people to sit down together and talk (currently all of the guests/clients are on one side of a counter), we'll need to rehab the building in which they meet.  [Another sidenote: If you're good with construction and want to lend a hand with the renovation, contact our office and let us know...we'll give you more information and connect with you once that project begins.]

They are also searching for a used, 14-ft box truck to replace the old yellow one that spent it's last gallon this past fall.  This truck will help with picking up food and operating the food and wellness operations.

While these changes are very important, I've more enjoyed seeing this team collaborate together and discuss how this one ministry more effectively makes disciples who make disciples (both with the guests/clients and with volunteers).  They model how effectively a team of Christ-followers can work together for the Kingdom when it doesn't matter who gets the credit.  Thanks, team.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

And I Like Storying

So far today I've been able to have two conversations about last night's story in Lifegroup, which was the parable of the sower.  It reminds me of a few reasons that I love storying.

Honestly, storying is the most I've ever really discussed the Bible in a small group environment.  In past times (and I've done small groups intensely for over 10 years), I've focused on (and taught others) to spend some time "hooking" the group with an intro question.  Usually 10 minutes or more.  And prayer time was about 10 minutes.  And then opinion sharing and trying to compose the right kinds of questions to avoid long, painful silence consumed 30 minutes.  That usually meant that though Scripture was the foundation of the lesson, like most foundations it wasn't seen once you actually got inside.  So I like how storying has us talking about the Bible more than anything else.

I also like how I'm not the one talking the most.  No, seriously...I do like that.  Most of the time with small groups the leader feels like they have to carry the conversation and ask the right questions (as above).  But the combination of storying and they way that listening connects to our discipleship path means I should hush more than articulate well my every thought.  Come to think of it, I'm probably not the only one in my group that is glad I have to talk less and listen more.

But I also like storying because of what happened today.  In those conversations two different people told a brief story and I was able to say, "That reminds me of story from the Bible that we just discussed..."  It was much more natural than saying, "You know, the Bible says this or that about __________."  I am more likely to share the story.  It's more accessible.  I can't tell you the number of times I've tried to remember chapter and verse to no avail.  But I can remember the story (as testified by my incredible ability to recite Goodnight Moon from memory).

Talking about God's story also reminds me that I'm a part of His Story.  That's important on a personal level because I want to remember that God loves me.  Really loves me.  Not because of what I do or lead...just because.

First, I hope you're in a small group environment.  Second, I think it's awesome if you're small group environment is storying.  May the story of God be a holy, contagious infection in all of us.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The God Who Invented Community

What we process (debrief, discuss, experience) together not only bonds us but also means that our thoughts will have greater clarity and more closely reflect the thoughts of a God who experiences Triune Community every day.  We need each other.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Just Lower the Bar

My wife was doing a craft with our girls today (mostly because that is just the kind of mom that she is and partially because like activities maintain a sense of sanity throughout the winter) when she noticed a familiar phenomenon.  The craft required that the girls place beads on a string to make a bracelet or necklace.  One of our girls picked up the lacing thing very quickly and was off and running.  Her twin sister, however, didn't seem to have the same mastery.  That is when Jen noticed something hauntingly familiar.

When my one daughter had tried for a few minutes to place the beads on the string as instructed but with no avail, she simply reverted to what her Fall-inflicted human nature said she should do - she settled.  She accepted less than the best.  She shifted the win.  Whatever you want to call it, my daughter flipped from lacing beads to organizing beads in the little metal pan.  She couldn't master what was new to her and, rather than fail, she simply reverted back to sorting and organizing and categorizing and color-matching and all the things that she new she could do.

It's hauntingly familiar because that is a part of our common, broken humanity.  We settle for less than God's best.  We punt at fourth and long when God knows (though its seemingly unattainable) that we're about to get a first down.  We aren't willing to let God use us as a medium to create a masterpiece that we can't see or conceive.  It's a fear of failure of sorts, yes.  But it's more than that.  It's a sign that our self-reliance is more important than a God-dependence.  And while that is nothing new, it is frightening for me to see it spring up in my daughter so early.

In a few weeks we'll embark on this year's all-church journey, Free.  We'll be looking at ourselves in light of Jesus' promise that His Truth would bring freedom.  As I think about my daughter and her simple shift this morning, I find myself thinking also about how I have shifted and, therefore, experience bondage rather than Freedom.  I want to be Free.  I think we all do.

If you're aren't in a group yet, don't forget to contact us and we'll be happy to get you into a group.  Hey, you're always invited to our group (Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m.).  If you're in a group, I hope your group will take the challenge to go through Free with the rest of us.

We will know the Truth and the Truth will set us Free. (Jesus, John 8:32)