Loving and Responding Well

A few months ago I shared my “Interreview” of Picking Dandelions: A Search for Eden Among Life’s Weeds by Sarah Cunningham. Among other things in the book, Sarah recounts her experiences going to serve in New York City after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. I’ll admit that this section of the book wasn’t what struck me when I read it. But I was in Chicago recently with Sarah and she had been caught up in a flurry of radio interviews, article requests, and phone calls asking for her thoughts about the recent plans to build a mosque in New York City.

What an opportunity to respond well to controversy very much in the public eye, to a situation where people are likely just waiting to point the finger at Christians for being unloving. What an opportunity to do just the opposite and love…love as Jesus would love…love our enemies…yes, even go so far as to pray for them.

Loving and serving selflessly doesn’t usually come easy for many of us. But, it’s amazing how naturally those things flow when we find ourselves in the middle of crisis and turmoil. My prayer is that we learn to love well and respond accordingly…even to controversial issues…even to our enemies, whether that be the current situation in New York or our neighbor whose dog keeps us up at night and whose kids throw garbage on our lawn. And let’s not wait for a disaster to do so.

*If you want to read more of Sarah’s response to the current situation in New York check out this article or her blog.

*Haven’t read Picking Dandelions: A Search for Eden Among Life’s Weeds yet? Starting September 13th you can download the electronic version for FREE on Amazon. If you are like me and prefer the real paper and ink kind of book, you can buy it here

Choosing Silence

“I think television has betrayed the meaning of democratic speech, adding visual chaos to the confusion of voices. What role does silence play in all this noise?”
– Federico Fellini

I’ve been asking that question a lot lately, “What role does silence play in all of this noise?” Visual noise. Audible noise. The noise of ideas, words, blogs, tweets…the list goes on and we are surrounded.

It seems that “taking a break” from the noise for personal reasons (refresh, renewal, etc) is a popular thing these days. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. But, I wonder how different things might look if we served others, rather than ourselves, by choosing silence.

If we didn’t tweet 20+ times a day, update Facebook statuses every hour, and blog incessantly. If we chose to be silent…to have a stronger filter for what we broadcast, perhaps we wouldn’t burn others and ourselves out with all of the noise.

Just a thought.

Why I Never Thought About Leaving

The church I left at the end of June is just a year and a half old. I moved to Appleton with the pastor and his family in October of 2008 to start laying the ground work and looking for gathering space. When we found a place we started holding unofficial gatherings on Sunday nights in February of 2009 before our official launch on April 19, 2009.
When the adventure started, I never thought I would leave. My plan was to be at this church with this team for the very long foreseen future. I did ministry with my pastor for seven years and really never thought about the day that wouldn’t be the case.

But there’s an ugly side to why I never thought about leaving and it’s called pride. With just the pastor and myself on staff, I did just about everything except preach, cast vision, and do counseling. Whether I wanted to admit it or not there was a part of me that thought, “If I leave, the church will not survive.” Honestly, when God started whispering in my heart that it was time to go over a year ago, that was one of my thoughts. “God, that is crazy. The church isn’t even a year old, I’m comfortable here, I’m just getting settled, and I mean, let’s be real, this church needs me.”

Woah! Time out. That needs idea is a dangerous one.

God in His graced showed me that my church didn’t need me. And I hate to break it to you but your church doesn’t need you either. And to be really honest, I don’t think God needs us either. In His grace & mercy He uses us as tools to accomplish His purposes here on this earth. He graciously blesses us with the gift of being able to partner with Him in the spread of the Gospel. If He wanted to do it without us, I think He could.

That is something I need to remind myself of daily. And it’s one of the reasons I left the church. I recognized that for myself, where I was at, I needed to spend more time focusing on my relationship with God and not what I was doing for Him. What I was doing was becoming more important than being in relationship with Him.

I think for many who work in the church it’s a slippery slide from planting the seed and watering it to planting the seed and thinking we’re responsible for the growing. Before we know it we can get to a point where we’ve cut God out of His Church.

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
1 Corinthians 3:5-7

What helps you stay focused, remembering that it is God who makes things grow?

Same is Boring

I’ve been in Nashville over a week now and it’s safe to say that I’ve spent at least a third of that in a variety of coffee shops. Some local, some chains. I love the variety. If they were all exactly the same I would be bored. Each seems to attract a certain type of cliental to some degree. Each has a different vibe. And I haven’t yet heard anyone complain about the variety. I haven’t heard anyone say that all coffee shops should be the same or that there is a best or even better way to run a coffee shop. Yes, people have their favorite places but they recognize it’s a matter of personal preference.

We are okay with variety…in many cases demanding it…in so many areas of life. Why is it then that when it comes to churches so many have the idea that they should all be the same? Or that there has to be a best way or even a better way to be a church? Yes, there are guidelines laid out in Scripture but there are also a ton of details that we aren’t given a lot of direction about.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am just as guilty of this line of thinking as the next person. But, my prayer is that we can get to a place where we embrace variety, where we are able to distinguish between what must be the same based on Scripture, where it’s okay that each church is a little different, and where we don’t insist on a better or best way.

Thoughts? Am I totally off base or is variety something we need to embrace?

Photo Friday…The Painter

I worship in nature. I see God in nature. So I love that at the start and end of every day God paints the sky. And each painting is as unique as the day. For me, it’s a great reminder of who is in control from beginning to end…THE Painter.

Here are a couple of great sunrise/sunset photos I found.



The Mighty One, God, the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. – Psalm 50:1

A Year Ago

A year ago
I had just discovered I wasn’t the only one asking “why?”
the thought of leaving my position at my church had never crossed my mind
Nashville wasn’t on my map
I didn’t know half of the people who are most important to me now
I was blind & didn’t know it
I was comfortable
I thought I was living by faith

What did your life look like a year ago? Would you trade your life today for your life a year ago? I wouldn’t.