The Final Countdown

Tomorrow morning, Emily and I will head to Ball Memorial Hospital just before 8am. After getting checked in and prepped, we will head into surgery for the planned c-section delivery of our new daughter at 10am. I’ll do my best to post some pictures and info on how things are going. We’re pretty excited. Emily is nervous (rightfully so, I mean, they are going to be yanking a baby out of her belly). We definitely appreciate your thoughts, prayers, and good vibes!

Are You Lost?

This weekend, I was reflecting on how offensive and irrelevant the language of the church can be…to those inside and outside its walls.

I know that I’m guilty of using a vast amount of Christianese. So, any thing I say here, I’m also saying to myself.

How many pastors have you encountered that talk about sanctification, justification, salvation, and other churchy terms in a manner that assumes that everyone listening knows exactly what they are talking about? If you use words only seminary graduates understand, you might want to define them. It’s not wrong to use them, but give an explanation…help bring others up to speed.

How many pastors do you know that just say, “turn to Philemon”, without giving people a clue that a) yes there is a book of Philemon in the Bible, and b) that it’s near the back? Too often, we just simply assume that if you are here, you must know how to find the books of the Bible.

Then, the one that tends to set me off the most is referring to those outside the church as being “lost”. Of course, I’m not sure that our other terms are much better (non-believers, non-Christians, un-churched, de-churched, and so on). But, when we say, “The lost are those who don’t know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior”, those who agree with us get it. But, what about those we are referring to?

Many of the “lost” don’t know that they are “lost”. They may ask, “Lost from what?” They might be offended by Christians saying, “Wow, you are lost”, when they feel like they have it all together.

It’s one thing for me to say “I once was lost, but now am found.” It’s a completely different thing when I say, “You are lost and need to be found.” And, of course, we take this idea of the “lost” to another level when we go ahead and fully determine who is lost. Many may say that if someone is gay, he/she is lost…if someone drinks, he/she is lost…if someone listens to “secular” (another churchy word) music, he/she is lost…if someone watches Curb Your Enthusiasm, he/she is lost.

To be honest, there are times when I’m surrounded by Christians that I couldn’t feel more lost…I have a great relationship with Jesus Christ…I am a pastor…but there are times, due to the way Christians sometimes talk and behave that I feel like I just don’t fit in…that I’m lost. Then, I wonder, how many other Christians feel lost in the church?

So, maybe we could get creative and find new ways to refer to people. And, maybe it’s just that…having the humility, compassion, grace, and love to see people as people…rather than categorize them as “lost” or “found”.

Do You Snuggie?

This evening, I became a part of the Snuggie Nation! Is it a blanket? Is it a robe? Is it something that I can wear to go out to the mailbox? I’m not sure…but it really is warm! And, the one I received is stylish…sort of a zebra print.

This was all thanks to a roast/man shower at the church. I received a bunch of hilarious gifts to help prepare me for the arrival of our second daughter…latex gloves, masks, air fresheners, diapers, tongs for the diapers, and so on.

And, the Snuggie also came a reading light. And, the person who gave this gift (I’ll allow him to remain anonymous for the time being) also brought a ridiculously large print of a picture of me from my high school marching band days. Hilarious.

But, as I put the Snuggie on and realized how warm and comfortable it is, I began to wonder…are there others out there who openly Snuggie? Is there a special social network for those who use the Snuggie?

Are You Crazy?

As the day of our second child’s arrival draws near, we have had many people ask what our plans are after we return home.

So, I thought I’d take a moment and briefly share our plan.

Over the past three years, we have been blessed by Center Chapel. They have allowed me to work from home. This has given me the opportunity to be with Sammie and “raise” her. It has been awesome and we have definitely seen the benefits of this situation.

With a second child on the way, we have realized that it is fairly unrealistic for me to “work” and watch both of the girls. We looked at our financial picture and determined that we could live off of my salary and Emily can stay home with the girls…which is something she desires to do.

So, officially Emily will be taking a leave of absence through the end of the school year. At that time, we will re-evaluate our situation to fully determine if we can make this a reality. We don’t foresee any problems, but we want to keep our options open. So, most likely Emily will officially resign in the summer of 2010.

If Emily were to return to work, half of her salary would be tied up in childcare costs. And, truth be told, we strongly desire to raise our own children. God has blessed us with the ability to do that. We have chosen a lifestyle that permits us to make these kinds of changes. Some choose to live in a way where both spouses have to work in order to pay the mortgage, make the car payments, and so on. I’m not downing that…after all, it is the American dream to have every thing we desire. However, we have chosen to live differently. We live in a nice house…but it’s not fancy. We live in a decent pocket of a below average neighborhood. We drive older cars that are completely paid for. And, we can live off of my modest salary (just to be honest…after 5 years in Muncie, I still make less than I did in Elkhart…obviously we’re not in this for the money…and I think God has blessed that).

Some think we’re crazy. We’ve heard the argument that, “in this economy, you just don’t know what can happen…so shouldn’t you both continue working?” We’ve heard the cautious, “Well, I hope it all works out and you can feed your children.” We have also heard some say, “Oh, we wish we could do that.” My response is that you can if you truly want to…if both have to work…you are probably living beyond your means. Emily’s cousin Bob once said to her that it’s always wise to live off of one salary…just in case something were to happen you wouldn’t be in over your head.

We aren’t entering into this on a whim. We have prayed about it. We have practiced living off of one salary. We have built up our savings to provide in the case of an emergency. We have seen God faithfully provide for us. We are stepping out in faith. We believe that God has called us to live differently. We believe that God has called us to demonstrate that there are different possibilities out there. We believe that God will sufficiently provide for our needs. We believe that this is what God desires for our family.

So, that’s our plan. You may think we’re crazy…and that’s okay…we probably think you are crazy! Just kidding…well, kind of!

Are You Groovy?

My favorite line from the U2 article in the latest Rolling Stone is a quote from Bono:

“Look, sometimes our audience isn’t as groovy as we’d like. “

As I read that line, I found myself thinking, “Yeah, I understand.” From my days playing with various ensembles, bands, and artists to my days in the realm of speaking & preaching, I’ve had my fair share of times feeling that the “audience isn’t as groovy” as I’d like.

Sometimes that is an indicator of the audience’s lack of ability to groove. Sometimes it is an indication that the performer just isn’t connecting with the audience. So, who needs to take the responsibility when the groove isn’t there? Can one place the blame on the other…or do we all share the blame?

I believe the groove is important because that is where the performer connects with the audience. There is something transcendent when the performer and the audience find the groove. There is a unity between the artist and the observer that goes beyond explanation. The lines of distance between the performer and the audience begin to disappear. The performer and the audience mold into one.

If you’ve ever experienced the groove, you know what I’m writing about. In the midst of experiencing the groove, one attempts to hold on…to lock-into the moment. After one experiences the groove, he or she begins to once again search for another encounter with the groove. You may have experienced the groove at a concert, a spoken word event, a worship gathering, a drum circle, a dance recital, a conversation. The groove is happening..the groove is out there…waiting for others to participate.

The article goes on to point out that American audiences tend to be a little “less groovy” compared to others.

Are you in the groove? Are you a hinderance to the groove (if you clap on 1 & 3, you probably aren’t in the groove)? Are you seeking to participate in the groove? Or are you simply “less groovy” and have given up all hope of experiencing the groove?