God and People

The message last week in church (will post a link if I can find the video) was inspired by John Ortberg’s book, “When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box“.  It’s had me thinking this week, as I struggle with priorities.  There’s just too much to do in my life, how do I decide what the important stuff is?

The answer is: God & People.  These are the two things that do not “go back in the box” at the end of this game we call life.  I don’t know why I was surprised to learn this considering Jesus said that very same thing when asked what the most important commandment was:

Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord.  And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

– Mark 12:29-31

That’s got me asking myself what I am doing to improve my relationships in these areas.  The 60-60 Experiment is all about me and God.  Last night, before bed I read this verse, which just affirmed this idea:

You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.

– Psalm 16:11

That’s the “way of life”.  Having the joy of God’s presence, living with Him.  Forever.  Pretty cool.

The rest is about helping other people to find that out too.

Panning for Gold

Ok, so that’s not quite the analogy I am looking for, but was the closest I could come to describing what I’m going through today. I’ve been looking for the big gold nuggets in among all the little ones.

After two intense days at the Leadership Summit, I am now sorting through thoughts and ideas, and re-reading notes to try to see what pieces of what I heard need to stick with me. I do NOT want to come away from this Summit unchanged. I do NOT want to go back to life as usual. I MUST learn and grown and incorporate the things I am convinced God put out there right in front of me.

But what are those things?

I’ve been flipping through the Summit Book*, and I think the three biggest ideas that I’m taking away from this are:

1 – Where I am now

Bill Hybels, in Session 1, started the session off so powerfully, with his humility and passion. He drew a chart of the path of a Christian. There were four stages with the last two being the “Growing Christian” and The “Christ-Centered Person”. The growing Christian says “God bless my program” and the Christ-Centered person says “My life is yours.” I’ve been standing on the edge of the big chasm that separates the two — the chasm that requires that life-sized leap of faith.

Best quote (aka Axiom):

If something feels funky…engage.

2 – What I needed to hear

Gary Haugen’s speech, in Session 2, hit me really hard with his story of going mountain climbing with his father and brothers. Fear paralyzes me so much of the time. I’m consistently searching for ways to make life safer. And while becoming safe, I am becoming stuck.  I came away from this session with this quote:

“Jesus didn’t come to make us safe, he came to make us brave.”

3 – Where I go from here

John Burke, in Session 4, was probably the speaker that motivated me the most. The message of grace that he lives is what I want and need to hear more of. I am SO ready to read his book, “Soul Revolution“, but was crushed to find that it hasn’t even been released yet! I’m ready NOW! 🙂 I have pre-ordered it, printed out the first couple chapters, and joined the Soul Revolution beta community.  I’m ready to do the 60-60 challenge…the goal being to put my energies into connecting with God on a regular and frequent basis.

Best quote:

“Stay connected. Fruit happens.”

*Thank you so much, by the way, to the Willow Creek staff for putting the note taking sheets in between session summaries, and the many sheets in the back half! Very useful!

What is “being a leader” anyway?

I just spent an amazing day (1 of 2) at Community Christian Church, with my coworkers, attending a satellite session of Willow Creek’s Leadership Summit 2008.

To say my brain is full would be a huge understatement. Pastor Dave posted a summary of the speakers today on his blog, >>Velocity.

What does it mean to be a leader? I told a friend (and coworker) today that I didn’t really WANT to be a leader. I must have surprised her, based on the look on her face, and the “Why not?” I got in response. I answered that I didn’t really want the responsibility that comes with being a leader. I think that’s partly true. It can be a burdensome thing.

However, I am still faced with the fact that quite a few people in my life have told me that I am either meant to be a leader, or already am one. So, what is that supposed to mean? Is it good to be a leader? What if you don’t want to be? Is it a calling? Is it something you can say “no” to? Thinking through Bible stories, I can recall more than one person that God called that initially said “No thanks!”, but ended up being drafted by God anyway… So, if that’s the case, do I have a choice?

And #2 – leader of what? A rebellion? An alliance? (Too much Star Wars in my brain?) What if you don’t feel that you have anything/anyone to lead?

The most common characteristic that I saw today, overwhelmingly, was passion. Each speaker that we heard seemed to have a real passion for something – some mission, some injustice that needed to be righted, some thing that brought fire, and even tears, to their eyes. I think, in order to be a real, true, genuinely successful leader, you have to have that something. Or that some One.

To be continued…

Old vs. New

You know, my head is still reeling from an email conversation I had last night. It’s this drama about people choosing to call themselves “Christ Followers” and abandoning the term “Christians”.

I have gone to this church in Naperville, Community Christian Church. I had considered it “my” church for a while, but since I have not attended since shortly after J5 was dedicated there, I really don’t know that I’m really an “attender”.

Anyway, through reading one of my regular mommy blogs, Everyday Mommy, I stumbled onto these Mac vs. PC parody videos regarding being a “Christian” vs. a “Christ Follower”. It was really weird to read, on the internet, completely unrelated to my “real life” about someone who was offended by the videos made by CCC.

I posted on E.M.’s blog that I was sorry she was offended, and that they were done at “my church”. We wrote back and forth a couple times and she continued to stress how hurtful they were. At the end of our exchange she sent me to this blog. I will be honest and say that I haven’t been able to read through the whole thing. It honestly makes my head spin. When I got to the part where they were pointing fingers at Beth Moore, who is a woman I deeply respect, I had to stop.

Now, I haven’t been to church at CCC for so long that also I didn’t know about the series called “Christian No More”. The title is inflammatory – and I guess that’s what you want when you plan to grab people’s attention. I was going to start watching the posted sermons/messages from those weeks so I could “hear it from the horse’s mouth” to find out if they’re really “anti-Christian”. I get that they’re not “anti-Christ”, but this seems pretty intense and divisive.

I am going to rant here because I think I’ve exhausted my family’s ears on this topic. Why the hell (pun intended) can’t Christians just ease it back a notch and get along? It says point blank, in Romans 14:

Verse 4 – Who are you to condemn God’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord’s power will help them do as they should.

Yet everywhere I look, as I am trying to find a church home for myself, I run into these horrible pockets of hatred and animosity. Like a friend said last night when I was discussing it with her, “some people are eager to be offended”.

Ok, so am I one of them? Am I eager to be offended by people who are eagerly offended?

What am I even getting myself into by spending more time in the Bible? Is this what is causing my distress?

I really, truly, want to find a church home. I’ve been to the SDA church where my membership resides. It was pleasant. Took J5 to Sabbath School. It was hard doing it alone, I won’t lie to you. There was no way I was going to try to stay for church with J5 wanting to wander and play.

After I went, and didn’t go back, no one followed up with me. That was disappointing.

Of course, I’ve been away from CCC for about a year and the only contact I’ve received from the church in any official capacity is a plea for money to expand one of their buildings.

So much for a church family embracing me.

I am going to try another SDA church nearby, actually it’s the closest one to us. They also have a “Structured Day Care” which interests me, but that’s another topic.

Anyway, as I look at the subject of my post I realize what I was intending to write about was whether it’s bad for the Church to evolve into something that leaves the old behind. I was given a link to an online booklet entitled Free To Live, from a girl I’ve gotten to know through a bible study on the internet. The main thrust of that booklet was that the church must evolve. That the church can and will and must continually change due to the revelations of the Holy Spirit. This book, however, insists that there should be nothing but respect for the church that remains after a new group is “birthed” from it. I believe they’re respecting the Romans 14 verse that even if your faith is stronger than another, and allows you to do more, that you are in no way to offend or harm those whose faith is weaker.

I’d started re-reading that booklet to see if I really agree with what it is saying. It seems that this movement of churches (Willow Creek, Saddleback, CCC) is springing up and out from the traditional view of Christanity. However, there seems to be a lot of birthing pains in the process – much like a teenager who needs to rebel and ends up disrespecting his father in his attempt to define himself as seperate and equal in value.

So, what I really want to know, is who is right? Can they both be right? Can they all just get along? Or is it necessary that one is right and the other is of the devil? That’s what I seemed to be getting from that lighthouse blog. Just a lot of skepticism and negativity.

Well, I’m going to log off for the night. Too much time in front of the computer. Gonna read a little more Bible and maybe a bit of Seventh-Day Adventists Believe – A book from my 2007 Book List.

Good night.