Monthly Archives: February 2008

Staging the House

I haven’t blogged much this week as I have spent most of my free time working on getting the house ready to sell. We have packed up an incredible amount of stuff, rearranged furniture, met with the realtor, and coordinated our plans for our selves and our friends this weekend. We will be having a painting/cleaning party on Friday/Saturday. By bedtime Saturday I hope that it’s all ready for viewings so that it’s next owner(s) will be able to come and fall in love with it. It will officially be “on the market” on Saturday afternoon.

It continues to be an adventure that is simultaneously scary and exciting. I’m sure I’ll continue to update as the process unfolds. In the meantime, prayers for my patience are greatly appreciated.


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30 Hour Famine

This weekend the Ridge Youth are holding our annual 30 Hour Famine Lock-in. We don’t eat for 30 hours as a way to raise money for hunger around the world as well as awareness of hunger in our communities. Many of my youth would tell you that I torture them.

We began the fast at 1:00 yesterday afternoon and gathered at the church at 4:30. We spent our first several hours together helping with the Fish Fry, we served food, cut desserts, and helped clean up afterward. This morning we got up, had “breakfast” (we drink juice throughout the weekend) and then headed off to the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana to work there. We packed up meals for Saturdays and Sundays that will go home with kids in their backpacks.

We’re back at the church relaxing and having “lunch” now and in a couple of hours we’ll head off to see a movie (with no popcorn or snacks of course). Tonight at 6:30 we’ll have a brief worship service that concludes with communion to break the fast. And then we’ll eat dinner.

We’re approximately 23 hours into the fast now and everyone seems to be doing pretty well. Your prayers will be appreciated as we finish up our time together and as I finish my preparations to preach at all three services tomorrow (this should be interesting…).

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Townhouse for Sale

Anyone looking for a nice townhouse in Northwest Indiana?

Heather and I have begun the scary process of planning to get our place on the market. We’ve started reading articles and making lists and we’ll soon be packing “personal” art and books, deep cleaning, organizing cabinets, and doing all of those fun things necessary for “staging” the house.

It would make our lives much easier if someone just approached us out of the blue interested in buying. So, spread the word:

Townhouse for Sale in Highland, IN:

2 Bedroom
1.75 Bath
1,200 square feet
2 Car Garage
Built in ’99

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Everything Must Change

Over the weekend I finished (devoured) Brian McLaren’s new book Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crisis, and a Revolution of Hope. It is revolutionary and I can’t stop thinking about it. Things I hear on TV, conversations I have with friends, stories I read in the Bible, all are being processed through the important points that McLaren raises in this book.

McLaren begins by asking two questions that he has found himself asking time and time again in his life and his ministry:

1.) What are the biggest problems in the world?
2.) What does Jesus have to say about these global problems?

What follows is a beautiful, prophetic, poetic, exploration of global systems and faith. At it’s core, this book is a call to action.

McLaren argues that we’re living in a world that has become a suicide machine, our systems inherently leading to death and destruction while hiding that fact from those of us in the system. A couple of nuggets I keep going back to:

The covert curriculum teaches us what matters and what doesn’t by strategically ignoring certain things. So our public schools overtly teach children that math and reading deserve years of practice. But patience, self-discipline, conflict resolution, gratitude, interpersonal communication, contemplation, or reconciliation have little or no visible part of most curricula that I know of. You can get an A in math and an F in contemplation and self-knowledge, and you are still judged a success, because there is no course called “contemplation and self-knowledge” in the curriculum. That fact itself is a key element of the covert lesson plan (pg. 290).

What is the covert curriculum of the news industry? Why are some things considered newsworthy and others not? Who decides and why? Who makes money from selling us too much sugar and fat and too many new cars? Who profits from making us fear aging, death, celibacy, fidelity, marriage, parenthood, or wearing last year’s hot brand name or hairstyle? Who profits – in money or in votes – from teaching us to fear terrorism caused by others, but not fear the consequences of wars we ourselves start? What are we taught about our emotions, when our teenagers take illegal drugs to numb their pain or replace their boredom, and their parents take legal drugs to do the same thing? (pg. 291)

As I’ve read back through this post I realize that I’ve barely begun to touch on the rich material that McLaren covers and that it would be nearly impossible for me to do his work justice in a simple blog. Regardless of your thoughts about faith, politics, economics, or anything else, I highly recommend this book!

McLaren has put together a tour this spring that is being called Deep Shift. The hope is to bring people together to discuss his work in faith communities around the country as we seek to catalyze the needed deep shift in our culture and our world. I’m hoping to figure out how to go to either Chicago or Goshen and I’ll keep you posted.


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Utilizing Gifts

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Indiana State Debate Tournament as a judge. I did policy debate for four years in high school and love the event. It was hugely formative for me in terms of organizational, reasoning, and communication skills. I was very excited to be able to go and to share my experience and my gifts with the community of debaters.

It was a great weekend, but in many ways it was quite frustrating.

Through the entire tournament I only judged 2 policy rounds. The tournament committee was using a computer program to slot judges and experience and knowledge weren’t considered at all. I sat around before rounds and watched parents who had never seen a policy debate round and who knew nothing about the event get a crash course before going in to judge. I’m sure they did a fine job, but they were clearly uncomfortable about doing something they had never done before and there I sat, knowing that I had something to contribute, wishing that my gifts would be utilized.

And as I sat and pondered this over the weekend, a thought hit me. How often do people in churches feel like I felt at the tournament this weekend? How often do people who have skills for teaching, computers, landscaping, leading, etc., sit and watch others who are inexperienced get tossed into situations where they are uncomfortable because no one has taken the time to get to know the gifts of the people who surround them? I know that our church is (and that all churches are for that matter) full of talented and gifted people who have much to share. And I fear that often times we, as the church, don’t fully utilize the gifts that others bring.

I learned a valuable lesson this weekend and I hope to be more intentional about utilizing the gifts of others whenever I have the opportunity to do so.

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Unknowingly Revolutionary

This morning, before one of the worship services, I was approached by someone who wanted to talk to me. I assumed that this woman, like most people I have spoken with today, wanted to talk with me about the fact that at the end of June Heather and I are headed home. She mentioned it briefly, but what she really wanted to talk about was something that happened a couple of weeks ago on Youth Sunday.

She told me that something we did at Youth Sunday was one of the most meaningful things she had ever experienced in Church. She explained:

Having that young girl who was Catholic preach really touched me and brought together for me some things that I’ve been dealing with my entire life. When it was time for communion I went straight to her to recieve it. You see, when I was growing up (a Methodist in Northwest Indiana) Catholics weren’t allowed to come into our churches.* For weddings and funerals they had to stand outside and peer in through the windows.

Wow! The idea of having a young Catholic woman preach at our United Methodist Church wasn’t even fathomable a generation or two ago. I didn’t think a thing of it as we put together our service; the significance of this ecumenical encounter didn’t really even register with me. It was revolutionary and inspiring for at least one of our congregants though.

And so I find myself wondering… What are the big taboos of today that will seem like no big deal in just a couple of generations? What things do we allow to divide us today that will seem unthinkable to our children and grandchildren? And if these distinctions and divisions will be insignificant 60 or so years from now, why do we let them divide us today and what can we do to overcome those divisions today as we all seek to live into the kingdom of God today.

*My hunch is that this was a prohibition on the part of the Catholics, not the Methodists, but I’m not sure.

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The Gifts of Today

As this day comes to an end,
I am grateful.

For the opportunity to rise early,
for a lesiurely breakfast,
for a chance to read and study and pray,
I am grateful.

For an opportunity to share my gifts,
for young people who commit much time and energy to hone their skills,
for words that inspire and challenge, excite and scare me,
I am grateful.

For a beautiful sunset,
for deer grazing in an open field,
for dinner and a movie with my love,
I am grateful.

I am grateful for the gifts of this day,
anxious to greet the gifts of tomorrow,
and awed by the love of God who shares them all.

As this day comes to an end,
I am grateful.

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