August 28, 2008

On A Crowded Street

Isn’t it great to walk in somewhere, regardless of the size of the room or the number of people, and feel like you belong there? For some reason I've been thinking about this lately and it made me think of a story that describes a radical act of hospitality by Jesus (Mark 5:24-34). I read this story and am blown away by Jesus’ willingness to be hospitable in an almost impossible situation. There were two things that really struck me about how Jesus was able to create an intimate setting for hospitality on an overcrowded street...

The first is that Jesus noticed the individuals around Him, regardless of how busy or how large the crowd got. What a great remedy for the “large church” syndrome of feeling disconnected or feeling as though you're lost in the crowd. Even while He was on His way to somewhere else, He was present with the people around Him.

The second is that Jesus sought people out. Not only did Jesus take the time to notice people but He went a step further and sought them out to make them feel welcome. Even, or maybe better said especially, in a large crowd Jesus looks for a way to practice radical hospitality by connecting with others on an individual level.

Jesus recognized that it wasn’t simply about being hospitable but rather about touching someone’s life. Radical hospitality touches individuals’ lives in way that makes them feel not only welcome but like one of the family. Imagine the impact this kind of radical hospitality could have on the life of your church family, the individuals you notice and seek out around you, not to mention yourself. Now, I’m not suggesting that if you and I practice this kind of radical hospitality like Jesus did some sort of healing will take place…or maybe I am?

August 24, 2008

A Different Kind of Judgment

A lot of people struggle with judging others, deciding whether or not it is the right thing to do or if it depends on the situation and circumstances. It seems that a lot of Christians are confused by this whole passing judgment thing and often times are too quick to do so. I think there are definitely times when we have a responsibility to other brothers and sisters in Christ to make them aware of things in their life that may be in conflict with the way Christ calls us to live.

The more I've been thinking about this the more I've started wondering if maybe we're missing the things we should be passing judgment on. I don't think it is anyone's place to judge the state or eternal destination of someone's soul but maybe instead we should be "judging" when someone is hurting or lonely and instead of responding by passing judgment, responding with and because of, the love of Christ. I wonder how much hurt could be avoided in people's lives if we "judged" with an attitude of service and love as opposed to an attitude of arrogance.

August 19, 2008

Weekend In Review

I hope it's not too late in the week to do a "Weekend In Review" but that should give you an idea of how crazy the last couple days have been for me. Not that anyone really cares about what my weekend consisted of but I'll share some thoughts anyways...

Friday - I had a wedding rehearsal that Tai came with me to because the couple invited us both to the dinner afterwards. It went pretty smoothly and dinner was quite enjoyable. Both the bride and groom's families were extremely nice and welcoming, so that was cool.

Saturday - Volleyball practice in the morning. Came home and got cleaned up to do the wedding in the afternoon. The wedding went well, at least I thought so but maybe I'm a little biased. I learned something about myself from doing this wedding...I might be a freak. I say this because I was a sweaty mess up there. What is utterly confusing to me is that I really, truly, honestly was not nervous and yet it must have seemed to anyone that might have seen the sweat beads rolling down my face that I was scared to death. So after I got down drying myself off, I headed home to pick-up Tai for an outreach event our church had with the IU Cru band leading worship. The band sounded great though I'm not sure people were expecting a worship concert. From there we headed downtown to hear one of our friends play as well as one of my wife's favorite bands, Faun Fables. If you have ever heard their music, it is fairly theatrical to say the least. They really were pretty good at telling some interesting stories.

Sunday - I get excited when I get a chance to meet new people at church, not in a stalker sort of way, just in a it's-cool-to-meet-new-people way. We had an outreach lunch after our late service and had it catered by the Kolache Factory. It was ok, not great, not awful. My softball team made it to the championship game of our janky league with only 4 teams in it but hey, a trophy is a trophy and really more importantly, a tshirt is a tshirt. There's no better feeling than wearing a tshirt that you actually "earned" as opposed to picking it out at the Goodwill because you thought it looked sweet. After the big win I promptly headed home to get cleaned-up because my boy Rob, through his sweet hook-up was able to hook me up again with VIP tickets to see Chris Cornell at VWMC. I have to admit that I was pretty excited to see Cornell perform especially with the fact that I didn't have to listen to any other crappy bands, in and out. It was that easy. Unfortunately, Cornell didn't really sound that great and I kind of thought his new stuff was so-so. His band however "outshined" him.

I really enjoy live music so overall I would say a pretty good weekend...and tomorrow is Wednesday.

August 13, 2008

Did You Hear Something?

I'm not sure we're very good at listening. I know I struggle with it at times as there are so many things going on around me that I fail to really listen because I get distracted by this or that. And then I know there are other times when, because of one thing or another, I don't really want to listen because I might not like what I hear or because it doesn't quite fit into what I'm thinking or want to believe.

We like to hear things that make us feel good or prove our point or show that we were in the right and someone else was clearly in the wrong. I think there are times when we get so upset or have been so badly hurt that we only hear what we want to, regardless of what is actually being said. If only we would stop and really listen to what is being said or not said. I find it almost humorous at how badly our ability to listen becomes when we have already determined what we want to hear because of pain or anger. When I stop and think about it, I wonder how many things I have missed that have been said to me (if I'm honest, probably things I needed to hear) because I had decided I would only hear what I wanted to. I guess James really knows what he's talking about when he says that we should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry. Who would have thought that really listening to what someone says might actually make a difference?

August 11, 2008

Game On

Like many of you I have been watching the Beijing Olympics and am finding myself completely engrossed in every single event. It could be women's handball, beach volleyball, men's gymnastics or watching Michael doesn't matter in the least, I love watching them all. I haven't watched this much TV in a really long time, maybe about 4yrs or so.

From the opening ceremony, which by the way was incredible, to each and every event so far in the first 3 days of the games the thing that has stood out to me the most is how beautiful the different people of the world are. I was blown away watching the Parade of Nations during the opening ceremonies at how incredibly beautiful each person from each country was. It was a perfect reminder of God's beautiful creativity.

Needless to say I'm pumped there's still 13 days of games to go...

August 9, 2008

UPDATE: A Close Call

Having had a chance to talk with one of the guys last night that was in the accident a few days ago, I wanted to pass along a quick update to say that they are all back home now and doing well. Here are a couple pics from the whole ordeal...

Michael, the one shown in the pic, was thrown from the car and did not suffer a single broken bone. I'm not sure I would call it a miracle but to be honest, I'm not sure I wouldn't...especially after seeing these pics.

August 6, 2008

A Close Call

I had just walked out of a coffee shop a few blocks away from my office when I got a call that 5 of the guys that were in my youth group and are now in my college group had just been in a car accident on their way out to Colorado for a camping trip. The details at the time were sketchy but it was not sounding good. Immediately one of the parents had put a call out for prayers for these 5 guys as family and friends waited to hear what had happened and how each of them was doing.

I remember thinking about what a tragedy it would be to lose 5 such great guys, young guys that all had promising futures ahead of them. There was another thought I remember that quickly followed that God was not done with any of these guys yet, all of this was followed by a sense of peace that is hard to understand or explain. I obviously had no idea how this would play out and yet I knew that one way or another God was doing His thing.

I am relieved to say that at this point all 5 of them survived their car rolling at least once and possibly twice causing 1 of the guys to be thrown from the car. Aside from bumps and bruises and one concussion none of them suffered any broken bones. If I stop and think about that too long, it blows my mind. The guy that was thrown from the car is, last I heard, in stable condition with bruised lungs, one of them partially collapsed, and plenty of scrapes, bumps, and bruises. He is staying in the ICU to monitor his lungs as well as make sure there was no major internal organ damage. I can't help but think that somehow God was directly involved in this outcome.

Please know that I am not naive enough to think that if you pray, things will always work out like you want or think they should. I believe with all my heart that God wants good things for His creation but I must also admit that my definition or idea of "good" is so limited in its scope or understanding. I must trust that God who is the very form of "good" has a better grasp of what good actually looks like for His creation than you or I ever will. I know we lose loved ones and it hurts, I don't understand why or claim to but I do believe that there is a Savior who's love, mercy and compassion are greater than all of the hurt, doubt and confusion the world may ever know.

August 4, 2008

Radiohead @VWMC

I have to start by giving 'props' to my boy Rob for using his hook-up to hook me up with a free VIP ticket to see Radiohead at the Verizon Wireless Music Center last night. VWMC is an open-air venue which worked out great because last night was a perfect night to see a show under the stars.

I was not expecting to go to this show, let alone get hooked-up with being on the VIP list. I have to admit, it felt pretty sweet to roll up to the venue and be able to say that our names were on "the list". I kind of felt like a big deal. By the time we got there, the concert was well underway and Radiohead had already played 2 songs and so we pulled right in to the VIP parking lot, got out and walked right in to the show. We were able to find a place to stand about 15 "rows" up on the lawn in the center section with a great view of the stage.

I mean I'm a Radiohead fan, not a huge fan but I like some of their stuff and I heard they put on an incredible show and fortunately for Rob and I, they did not disappoint. We were both surprised to see how many people were at the show and not to mention the wide variety of people. Everything from Euros, hippies, yuppies and everything in between, including Rob and I. I am not sure I have seen or smelled so many interesting things that could be smoked but needless to say it looked like everyone was having a good time. Remember though, smoking is bad for you.

Radiohead's setlist was impressive and as unpredictable as the band itself. Their light show combined with the pulsing of their music made for a very sweet effect. I am embarrassed to say that I only recognized about 3 songs but despite that, I was impressed by the show. If you are any sort of fan of Radiohead, then I highly recommend getting to one of their shows because you will definitely not regret it. I know I didn't regret enjoying a great show, hanging out with my friend Rob and all of the other tens of thousands of Radiohead fans that made a trip to the cornfields of Indiana to witness quite a performance.

August 1, 2008

Where Did The Summer Go??

Today, as you are probably well aware it is the 1st day of August. We're already in August, that's crazy! I'm having a hard time remembering where the summer went...between 4 weeks of classes, work and a couple projects around the house it seems like summer just started and yet here we are in August.

Though it flew by, I feel like it has been a fairly productive summer and there's still a couple weeks left. I think the thing I'm most excited about getting done this summer was being able to knock out 6 on-campus graduate credit hours in 2 weeks. It was intense but it was definitely worth it.

I have no doubt that many of you have had an exciting and productive summer and I'd love to hear about it, if you're willing to share, even if it's anonymous...