Archive for May 2007

Fragrance or Stench?

May 31, 2007

I’ve been reading a few books written from a very different perspective than those I usually read. I needed to get a glimpse of how people who aren’t Christians perceive those of us who are. And I am sobered. Embarrassed. The sting is especially painful because one of my sons is experiencing a strong allergic reaction to “Christians,” who seem to him to often be proud, narrow, shallow and condemnatory. (more…)

“I’ll Do It!”

May 28, 2007

famine.jpgI understand that I can not personally do everything, but I often fall into the trap of thinking that if I don’t have the time or energy to do something, then it can’t be done.  You see, I’m not great at delegating.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I usually want to be involved in the details of things.

This is part of the reason why I never signed our youth group up to do the “30-Hour Famine.”  I haven’t had the time to plan it and run it, so I figured it wasn’t something that our group could do.  Enter Olivia Koenig. (more…)

High Winds Alert

May 26, 2007

doveleftcorner.jpgTomorrow is Pentecost. Can I ask you to pray today and tomorrow morning for God to pour His Spirit on our gathering and to prepare each of us for what He wants to do in our lives? Jesus, our Master and King, encourages us to pray in this way:

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; everyone who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers or mothers, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?

So let’s ask, shall we? Let’s ask as we go about our business today. Let’s ask as we wake up in the morning. I think God would really love it if each of us also took a few minutes to be alone with Him, expressing our desire for more of Him, and asking Him to prepare us for whatever He wants to do tomorrow. Will you do this? I sense that it will make a difference for all of us — the whole BRC community — and, I trust, for you as well.

I’m looking forward to worshipping our great and awesome God with all of you again.  

Bad At It Now, But…

May 24, 2007

A couple days ago one of my friends told me that she was really eager to see where this 24-7 prayer idea would go because she had been admitting to herself that she was having a very hard time praying lately, and didn’t know why or what to do about it. I could identify. I have a long and erratic history with prayer, too — everything from consistent heartfelt intercession that felt real, almost like my lips were right up against God’s ear, to a dogged dutiful-but-dead bare minimum ‘just-let-me-get-this-over-with’ sort of thing.

I imagine that more than a handful of us felt a little wary or nervous as well as excited when Rich talked on Sunday about amping up our praying. Sometimes our sense of inadequacy drains away our motivation; sometimes our disappointments make us skeptical. Some of us have only recently escaped a duty-bound, obligation-based religion and have absolutely no desire to offer ourselves up to that stranglehold again.

But we all want to experience the living God.

I’m reading Red Moon Rising, the book that tells the story of how the 24-7 prayer movement began, and it’s stirring something in me. It’s making me want to pray more and more. And so I am. And instead of that making me feel satisfied, it’s making me want more, MORE.  It’s strange: reading this book, you know that to experience God’s presence and voice like that could end up taking you almost anywhere in obedience to Him.  But at the same time, you aren’t tempted to back away; your inadequecies and fears seem like things to just disregard in order to get at the prize of this adventure.  And it really helps to read, “…we knew that God was calling us to pray. We also knew that we were bad at it.”  Personally, I’m really glad that they were bad at it.

So… this is going to be interesting, don’t you think?

And the Story Isn’t Over Yet

May 22, 2007

I’m so happy to have this way of letting all of you know about what’s happening with our KIDS HOPE USA ministry.  And letting you know how God is working through this ministry in ways that are truly His. We are mentoring 15 children at Van Corlaer Elementary School, as many of you may know already.  What you may not know is that there are 15 on-going stories of relationships being built, stories with chapters about children opening up to a mentor, children shutting down, children in trouble, children doing better than ever . . . . as many stories as there are mentoring sessions.

One story in particular affirms my certainty that God is at work in our Kids Hope USA ministry. And the story isn’t over yet!   (more…)

Do It Anyway

May 21, 2007

Yesterday we talked about what it takes to make disciples. I’m convinced that it takes the sort of nose-to-the-grindstone, go-for-broke inner posture described in this poem by Kent Keith.  I felt blessed and challenged by it. 

People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered – love them anyway!
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives – do good anyway!
If you are successful you will win false friends and true enemies – succeed anyway!
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow – do good anyway!
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable – be honest and frank anyway!
The biggest people with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest people with the smallest minds – think big anyway!
People favor underdogs and follow only top dogs – fight for some underdog anyway!
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight – build anyway!
People really need help but may attack you if you help them – help people anyway!
Give the world the best you’ve got and you’ll get kicked in the teeth – give the world the best you’ve got anyway!

Here is another quote, this one from the philosopher Nietzsche, which Eugene Peterson, author of The Message, draws from for the title to his book, A Long Obedience.

The essential thing in heaven and earth … that there should be long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.

Unexpected, Unrequested Help

May 18, 2007

Months ago we pulled together a few people to pray, think, and brainstorm about our Alpha Course. One of the issues we were concerned about was the Alpha Weekend. (We’d had to cancel our reservation at the retreat center during our last course, and had lost our deposit money.) We’d noticed particularly that new people (as opposed to already-BRC-assimilated people) felt some reluctance to go on a retreat, and for some people it was just about impossible to arrange — given work schedules, tight budgets, and elderly parents or young children needing care. The idea that surfaced that evening was to have the Alpha Weekend right here. We have such a spacious, interesting building; we have many willing workers; it would be cost-effective; people could sleep in their own beds and nobody would have to travel.  Around our circle, heads were nodding. (more…)