Monday, November 23, 2009

Community Part 1: Uphold

Again, I ask for your pardon on the lack of posting last week. It has been especially hectic lately, this is both the reason for the lack of a post last week and also an inspiration for this post.

"I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure." Psalm 40: 1-2

Growing up I remember testing the limits with my neighborhood friends. We created an attempted many stunts within the security of our own neighborhood and back yards. One particular challenge I remember was riding down the hill in our neighborhood on our bikes without using brakes and trying to make the turn at the bottom of the hill onto the street that ran perpendicular (90 degree angle). We measured the difficulty of this feat in "houses"... you could only go three houses up and still be able to make the turn onto the street that the one on the hill T-ed into. Any farther up and we would always "chicken" out and use the brakes.

Well one day, I convinced myself that I was going to conquer... very Evel Knievel of me, I know. So, I walked my bike up the (insanely steep) hill: 1, 2, 3, 4 houses! I turned the bike around, had a friend check to make sure no traffic was coming, let off the break and began my descent. I felt the wind in my hair, took my feet off the pedals and gripped the handlebars tight. I reached the bottom of the hill and began making the turn, it was working, I was going to make it! And then, I hit a mailbox. Most people would describe it as a clothesline. I don't remember much after that, aside from tears. But I do remember my older brother coming out of the house, gathering me up, taking me inside, then going to fetch my bike. I remember my brother's help.

The past few weeks have been crazy for me. I've been filled with doubts, anxiety, get the idea. But I've been blessed by a great community and support system. So many people reached out and helped to "gather" me. So to all of you, I say thank you.

Community is crucial. As Christians, even just as people, we must look out for one another and pick each other up when someone falls, or maybe even try to anticipate it and keep them from falling. We have to stay in community with each other. And as believers, we desperately need to remain in community with God. Call out like the Psalmist and trust that there will be someone to draw you from the mire.

Monday, November 9, 2009


"Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to theLord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns." Exodus 20: 8-10

Last week I was going through my normal routine in the morning: coffee, devotion, Bible reading, quiet time, and ESPN. I usually wake up watching Mike and Mike in the Morning (a sports radio show that airs on television). It was the day after the Yankees won the series and I caught the tail end of the discussion. "Greeny" as one of the Mikes is called, was expressing his surprise that there was already talk about how to improve for next year. He wondered out loud if maybe they could take just one day to enjoy the fruits of their labors and celebrate being world champs.
Golic, the other host named Mike, played college and professional football and argued that there was no time to take even the day after such a victory off - arguing that all the other teams were working to get better. In his opinion, if the Yankees (or any team that wins a championship) bask in their pleasure too long, the competition will leave them behind.
I thought this was an interesting caricature of the American culture. Sometimes it feels like the message we receive is that if you ever sit down to rest, someone else will pass you by and achieve more than you. To draw a parallel to a well-known story, many Americans seem to have the competitiveness of the Hare and the incessant drive of the Tortoise. The problem is that we, as limited beings, aren't meant to be constantly sprinting. We need rest.
Mike "Greeny" Greenberg comes from a Jewish heritage. He is familiar with this need for rest. The Hebrew word "שבת" is pronounced "Shab-bat." You may be more familiar with the pronunciation "Sabbath" which translates as "to cease; to stop." I believe that it is because of his being aware of this call for rest that "Greeny" thinks it's important to stop and just enjoy.
Don't let to do lists or ambition get in the way of your Sabbath this week. Relax a while and take stock of all that God has provided for you.

Monday, November 2, 2009


"She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say,
'I will go back to my husband as at first,
for then I was better off than now.' She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold— which they used for Baal." Hosea 2:7-8

Last week I accompanied a youth group on a trip to a corn maze. I had never done one of these things before and was curious to see what it was like - how difficult it was, how entertaining I found 'being lost,' and how the youth would behave during the maze. When it came time to go through the maze, I was partnered with a group of junior high guys. They seemed eager to get started.

They walked the first few steps, then started jogging. I reluctantly quickened my step and tried to post on twitter about the maze as I tried to keep up with the group that kept disappearing around the next bend. It wasn't long before the conversation started, "We've already been here." "No, remember..." We were lost. In a hurry to finish the maze, there was little though going into turns and navigation...most of us really weren't sure if we had "been there" before- it's hard to take mental notes on the run, especially when all the corn stalks look alike!

How often to we get so excited about something that we cannot contain ourselves and "sprint" after it? I am so guilty of this. I find something interesting, pursue it with all my abilities, and then wonder why it wasn't everything I expected. I often find myself way off track and wondering how I got there.

I guess what I'm saying is that I think the cliche "walk with God" is appropriate terminology. Going slowly allows us to be familiar with how we got there. Slow down, take note of the ways that God is working in your life and stop and look around.