The Lessons: February 2016

There is so much out there to learn, all we have to do is open our eyes and ears and pay attention.  Here are a few things I learned in a Leap Year February.

LESSONS-2

 

  1. Families Still Work: It is easy to get depressed when day after day we hear the drumbeat of the ills of the American family.  If you ever need a break, just go to a Cub Scout meeting.  We sponsor scouts at our church and last week I attended the annual Blue and Gold Banquet.  There were awards and announcements and even a dessert contest to judge (this is a rough job after all) – but more than that there were parents and grandparents and neighbors and volunteers loving, serving, encouraging and nurturing the children of our community.  It is enough to make a cynic smile.
  2. Facebook is Trumpbook: I’ve been following the Presidential election pretty closely the past few weeks, but even if I wasn’t, I couldn’t avoid it. That’s because my Facebook feed is filled with Donald Trump – serious news, funny memes, exasperation that he is still winning and how to tips on moving to Canada. He is everywhere. It is an important conversation, and one I know the church has to be involved in, but sometimes you just want to see pictures of dogs, the latest exploits of your nephews, and posts on how awesome the 2016 Cubs are going to be. Speaking of…
  3. Baseball is Going to be Fun: It’s fun to be excited about the baseball season again.  My North Siders have been in rebuild mode ever since, well maybe 1908, but this year might, maybe, don’t want to say it, be shaping up to be a fun year. Rizzo, Schwarber, and Bryant plus Zobrist and Heyward – it has the potential to be really good. It is enough even to force me to do something I’ve never had to do before – cheer for John Lackey. Fandom makes you do strange things.  Being you know, nine hours away from the Friendly Confines, we don’t get to go to too many games, but we’re going to make sure we can watch plenty through MLB TV.  After all, anybody can have a rough 100 years.
  4. Joy is in the Small Things: It sounds like pink text from a Hallmark card, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.  We’ve had a good month at church.  Not the stuff of major headlines – although we’ve had a couple of those – but the stuff of slow and steady progress that comes from small wins.  The kingdom breaks in to people’s lives in fits and starts, and it has been fun to celebrate the victories with some of my new friends and community.  (Sometimes it happens at Waffle House.) There will be setbacks and struggles, there always are. But one of the lessons I am trying to remind myself is that if I can learn to pay attention to the details, small and ordinary, I’ll be able to spot God doing the work that makes a difference in the lives of people.
  5. Rest or Else: The most important thing I’ve learned this month is that rest matters.  However I name it – burning the candle at both ends, running myself ragged, not enough hours in the day or days in the week – it has been one of those seasons in life. And this season has worn me out. There has been plenty to do, a lot of very good and gratifying work, but it finally caught up with me in February. The catching up reminded me what I’ve known for a long time – Sabbath matters.  There is a God, and that God is not me, and so the world will keep turning even if I take a day off to watch it work. So today I am resting, reading, watching House of Cards and letting the world go by without me. I imagine it will all work out just fine. Hopefully, I’ll get better at doing that more often.  Whatever is going on in your world, enjoy rest and take care of yourself my friends.

photo-1422190441165-ec2956dc9ecc

That’s not my selfie, but it looks like what I needed.

I found a lot of good stuff on the Internet in February. Here are a few of the best.

Pages: To Pray and to Love, Roberta Bondi: I’m reading this with some folks in my church right now.  It is really hard to beat wisdom from the Desert Mothers and Fathers in teaching us how to pray and reconnect with God.

Links:

Death, the Prosperity Gospel and Me, Kate Bowler: A powerful reflection on the true nature of blessing and how you can still be blessed when the news you get from your doctor sucks.

Why This Election Makes Me Hate the Word Evangelical, Russell Moore: The president of the Southern Baptist political arm on how this election is damaging and twisting the word and the movement.

Pod: The guys at Homebrewed Christianity posted this interview with Walter Brueggemann on the fidelity of God and the real challenge of discipleship in our economic and political life.  It is so, so good – I’m still trying to figure out what to make of it.

Ipod: Magic Hour, Aoife O’Donovan.  Anyone who sings with Sara Watkins and Sarah Jarosz is going to be in my playlist.  Such a great voice. Enjoy.

Driving Badly: I’ve been writing in February on some ways that we get distracted and lose our way in faith.  If you missed them, you can read about the dangers of Noticing the Wrong Things, Being an Analytical Jerk, and Worshiping Your Twin.

Thanks so much for reading.  I am so grateful for all of you, and, in the words of The Donald, let’s make March great!

Thank You So Much For Sharing...

The Lessons: January 2016 Edition

There’s plenty to learn if we will just pay attention.  Here are a few things I learned in the last month.

LESSONS

1. Fargo is more than a movie.  

When The Men in Blazers call something The Best Show since The Wire, well, I had to check it out. And it didn’t disappoint. Fargo has great and interesting characters, beautiful scenery, and insight into the big questions of life – all without a wood chipper. Billy Bob Thornton is frighteningly convincing as a serial killer in season one and Kirsten Dunst is excellent as a wife trying to make the best of her life while being chased by various branches of the mob in season two.

2.  The Main Thing Still Makes A Difference

Teaching a weekly Bible Study at my church has reminded me that we don’t have to get cute and overthink how to invite people to church. People are hungry for real spiritual food and when you offer them a chance to come and learn about who Jesus is and how we wants them to live their lives, they will come.

3. The Church Sounds Really Angry Online

Or at least the edges of our church are angry online. Listening to those on the edge spat over various reports and issues convinces me that they have such different understandings of what the Gospel actually is, the ethics of discipleship, and the primary task of the church that it makes conversation and growth increasingly difficult if not impossible. Fortunately, the edges aren’t the only ones speaking and writing and leading. I’m grateful for leaders and writers who help us encounter grace in the midst of conflict and remind us of the truth that One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism makes room for all kinds.

4. On to Leadership: It’s A Lot Easier to Read and Write About Leadership Than it is to Actually Lead

There is a probably a longer post coming on this at some point, but stepping into a leadership role where the buck actually stops with you is a non-stop experience.  There isn’t a day or really a time when you aren’t thinking about what it is important, struggling to decide what issues are worth sticking your nose into, and how you can help people you love and care about grow into the kind of life that God wants for them.  It is a rewarding, yet at times exhausting, task and calling. And you can’t try to do it for any length of time without becoming convinced that it is a calling.

5.  Everyone needs someone who just gets you. 

And my wife gets me. She gave me a coffee subscription which ensured fresh snobby coffee is in our mailbox every two weeks with a t-shirt to match.  Perfect. You can get your own here.

image.skreened-long-sleeve.heather-grey.w460h520b3z1

You know you need one. www.skreened.com

 

6. People Are Still Making Good Stuff

There’s a lot of good stuff out there that will inspire you, make you laugh and help you think.  Here are just a few that I’ve enjoyed this month.

Pages: Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Link: Friendship is the Last Romance, Courtney Martin

Pod: Theology on Mission Podcast

Youtube: The Gilbert and Sullivan Mass, Hilarious satire on mission, preaching and worship. Those Lutherans are funny and, unfortunately, frighteningly accurate.

iPod: Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors: Start here and then listen to everything you can find.

 

How about you?  What did you learn  this month?

Thank You So Much For Sharing...

The Lessons: January 2016 Edition

There’s plenty to learn if we will just pay attention.  Here are a few things I learned in the last month.

LESSONS

1. Fargo is more than a movie.  

When The Men in Blazers call something The Best Show since The Wire, well, I had to check it out. And it didn’t disappoint. Fargo has great and interesting characters, beautiful scenery, and insight into the big questions of life – all without a wood chipper. Billy Bob Thornton is frighteningly convincing as a serial killer in season one and Kirsten Dunst is excellent as a wife trying to make the best of her life while being chased by various branches of the mob in season two.

2.  The Main Thing Still Makes A Difference

Teaching a weekly Bible Study at my church has reminded me that we don’t have to get cute and overthink how to invite people to church. People are hungry for real spiritual food and when you offer them a chance to come and learn about who Jesus is and how we wants them to live their lives, they will come.

3. The Church Sounds Really Angry Online

Or at least the edges of our church are angry online. Listening to those on the edge spat over various reports and issues convinces me that they have such different understandings of what the Gospel actually is, the ethics of discipleship, and the primary task of the church that it makes conversation and growth increasingly difficult if not impossible. Fortunately, the edges aren’t the only ones speaking and writing and leading. I’m grateful for leaders and writers who help us encounter grace in the midst of conflict and remind us of the truth that One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism makes room for all kinds.

4. On to Leadership: It’s A Lot Easier to Read and Write About Leadership Than it is to Actually Lead

There is a probably a longer post coming on this at some point, but stepping into a leadership role where the buck actually stops with you is a non-stop experience.  There isn’t a day or really a time when you aren’t thinking about what it is important, struggling to decide what issues are worth sticking your nose into, and how you can help people you love and care about grow into the kind of life that God wants for them.  It is a rewarding, yet at times exhausting, task and calling. And you can’t try to do it for any length of time without becoming convinced that it is a calling.

5.  Everyone needs someone who just gets you. 

And my wife gets me. She gave me a coffee subscription which ensured fresh snobby coffee is in our mailbox every two weeks with a t-shirt to match.  Perfect. You can get your own here.

image.skreened-long-sleeve.heather-grey.w460h520b3z1

You know you need one. www.skreened.com

 

6. People Are Still Making Good Stuff

There’s a lot of good stuff out there that will inspire you, make you laugh and help you think.  Here are just a few that I’ve enjoyed this month.

Pages: Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Link: Friendship is the Last Romance, Courtney Martin

Pod: Theology on Mission Podcast

Youtube: The Gilbert and Sullivan Mass, Hilarious satire on mission, preaching and worship. Those Lutherans are funny and, unfortunately, frighteningly accurate.

iPod: Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors: Start here and then listen to everything you can find.

 

How about you?  What did you learn  this month?

Thank You So Much For Sharing...