Friday, April 30, 2004

This is the Great Big Moving Day. There is no place left untouched by the chaos that has hit this place like a hurricane.

Anyway, I'll be offline for the next few days...(cable doesn't get hooked up until Monday, so clearly this is going to be like visiting the dawn of time)...I'll post a report on the transition when I return.

Peace all.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Ok, so I went to therapy for my shoulder yesterday. I really was dreading it, and had come up with an image in my mind of what it would be like. I pictured a dark stone walled cavern, with lots of chains and a rack where I would be bound hand and foot, while a pale hunchback would laugh maniacally and turn the wheel that pulled on my hands and feet.

I couldn't have been more wrong. He wasn't a hunchback at all. I must say though, there were times when he was moving my arm around that I thought for sure he was wearing a devil costume and sparks were coming out of his nostrils.

It turns out that there is good news. He (the therapist) believes that I don't have a torn rotator cuff, but that I am suffering from the bones around the joint impinging on swollen muscle tissue caused from the strain of swatting down the football. My therapist was obviously from India, and he said as I was describing what had happened, "Well, I don't know much from foot-ah-ball, but I suppose the movements that are used are somewhat like this...", and he started flailing his arm around.
I hesitated for a moment...then replied "Well, when I'm playing, yes."

Later on I was explaining that I need to get the use of my shoulder back for surfing, and again he said he didn't know from surfing. It got me wondering what sports they play in India.

Cricket. Apparently, they're really in to it. I would have thought something else...something more exotic, involving elephants. But no....just plain old cricket. And frankly, I don't know from cricket...but I assume the movements involved are something like this.... (please imagine me flailing my arms around now.)

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

The reality of this move is starting to close in on us all. The day after tomorrow is when it happens. Memories have begun to seep through the walls here, and like the giggling ghosts of children I catch them out of the corner of my eye. All the boxes and things out of place somewhat obscure the familiarity of this house, yet I can still trace the lines of ceiling and walls I know so well.

I remember Sally the turtle.
I remember the little girl's eyes when Sally had to go.
Below my knees two little boys wrestle through the hallway.
I remember the Great Big Tornado Scary Night. Holding hands and morning walks.
The Shadow's love of old men and hamburgers.

I remember Mark and the late night fist fight over the doctrine of non-resistance. Brief tramploline days. I remember tears and shouting and laughter that rocked the walls. A shaved collie in shame. The long stare after Eilene went home.
Cold afternoons with the Jelly Bean and strings of Christmas lights.
The Homecoming Queen's flowers hanging on the wall.

Like a long sigh, they keep coming to me.
But a house is just a house. The memories are of the ones who lived together and made this home. We'll move on to something new and paint the walls with new memories. Yet that knowledge still doesn't seem to stem the surge of this bittersweet mood I'm in today.

Maybe I'm just nervous about starting therapy for my shoulder today. I'll report on that when it's over.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

The sky is falling!
Actually, it's just a new roof being put on this house by the new owner. This is my "old" place now. I haven't even moved, nor have I signed anything that tells me I have a "new" place...it's just a promise. Even though I live here, and my accumulated stuff is here...it's really not mine anymore. I'm just a resident, a hanger on. I'm waiting for a new place, and already my heart is there.

In Celtic spirituality, places where people feel most strongly connected with God's presence, where the distinction between heaven and earth are less tangible, are referred to as "thin places". It's strange how this house has become a "thin place" to me. Not the house itself, but what is happening here. I'm living a parable of what I'm living as a follower of Christ. I have this life on earth...and earth is where I keep all my stuff...but it's oh, so temporary. I have a new place to go to. I haven't seen it, except in dreams...it's just a promise, but my heart is there already. I'm just a resident here, watching as roofs come and go...waiting until the day I move.

It's good, and sad and perplexing.

Monday, April 26, 2004

What a great weekend at the men's conference. Jon Courson was excellent. I really admire men like him. When I had the chance to talk one on one with him, I got so stoked it was insane. I always worry about how these guys from Calvary Chapel are going to react to how we do stuff at ECF. There's a part of me that still assumes we are going to get in big trouble for having so much fun. But don't you know, as I started explaining our vision and desire for simplicity, instead of eyeing me with suspicion, he got excited as well...even wanted to know where I was sitting for lunch so he could keep talking about it. He told me about his dream of setting up a church in San Francisco that has no building, no overhead, no kids meetings, no school, no retreat centers...just small gatherings at Denny's and public parks, to teach the Bible. I still get goosebumps just repeating it.

I really enjoy it when I'm challenged to color outside the lines. That's where I'm most satisfied...in that sense of wonder when we discover things aren't as complicated as they seem. I can still feel the rigormortis of familiar structure wanting to creep over ECF at times...if I fear anything, it's that...as much as Peter Pan resisted growing up, I resist that. So every once and a while, we need to kick things around...even if it's just little things...just enough to keep the cobwebs to a minimum....until God throws open some other door we hadn't noticed, that leads to some world we hadn't known about except in dreams.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Back at Easter, a fairly well known author had come to our area, and was looking for a church to hang with for the holiday service. She never made it to ECF...but she did write a nice letter...and here are some excerpts:

One afternoon while we were relaxing at the campsite, I phoned three churches. I asked each receptionist the times of Easter services and, "what might we expect if we would attend your services?" Two had pat answers, prepared descriptions of their church, their style, and their order of service. There's nothing wrong with that, of course. They know who they are and what they're about. Then I phoned your church and got a pleasant woman who wasn't quite sure how to describe the church to me. She didn't know my background or what kind of church I was looking for, so she simply described the couches and the casual mood and then mentioned the sunrise service on the beach that your church was participating in. "It'll be more traditional than our service. We're doing something kind of different. We're just going to sit around on the couches and read the Easter story from The Message." It was so refreshing to hear her be a real person describing a very simple gathering of believers listening and...remembering. Together.

In the end, we couldn't figure out how to pack up our stuff, go to a service and still get out of town in a timely fashion, so we ended up going to the sunrise service...the setting was so real and, shall I say, "organic," maybe, to sit on the beach literally on and around God's creation (I adore the beach and Gulf). I wish the service could have been equally organic and real.
What stood out to me the most that morning was that the most normal people who presented during that service were your guys. Was it your guitarist who led the singing on the two simple songs? I could have sat on that beach and let him lead us in a dozen songs. A guitar on the beach? What can beat that for the simplicity of a sunrise service. Quite a contrast to the lady singing to the trax, and although she did a fine job, I felt more connected with a guitar and a sincere fellow singing without any need for effects or backups. Just a guy worshiping the Lord, offering the option to sing along if I'd like to. And I think it was also one of your guys who read the New Testament passage from John. Normal. He just read it, real, not overly dramatic, not with a pastoral voice with its affectations, nor with the flat tone of someone not connecting with the words on the page. I think he is your youth pastor. He just stood up there and read it, letting himself be moved by the image of the two disciples racing to the tomb, of the tender image of Mary with her Master. I got more from his reading than I did from the pastor who preached. I don't say all of this to compare and make the others look bad in comparison...I guess I felt compelled to tell you that there was a family from out of town, away from their own friends on a significant day on the church calendar, finding a spiritual attraction to your people, not only fellow believers, but perhaps believers on a similar specific path when it comes to relating to God, listening and responding to Him, obeying, belonging to Him alone.

...Thank you for stepping out in faith to become Eastgate Christian Fellowship.

Anyway...that had Riley, Robbie, Brian and myself pretty stoked. Simplicity. I don't want to try and impress people with our great theological views or our pretty stuff...I want people to give a sigh of relief when they brush against the purposeful simplicity that's found in following God.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

One of the biggest fears I had about getting married was that this person, with whom I would theoretically spend the rest of my life, would really get to know me. I mean, know me. That can be a disconcerting thought, if you've not been very close to many people.

I really had very few close relationships growing up. There were actually only about two people whom I considered to be close friends...with the definition of "close" being, I could drop my guard, and somewhat be myself. Baden was probably my first close friend. We were both artists, with aspirations of being famous comic strip creators. The other was Aggz, who was my companion during my foray into party animaldom. But even those two...when there were moments where I would start to open up, leave off the jokes and express some deeply ingrained angst from my psyche'...they would shift a little uncomfortably and mutter things like "yeah, I know how you feel.". Don't get me wrong...that's a good enough response when you're a teenage boy with a limited range of thought. But it was awkward enough to make me realize that I'd be better off just keeping those things in lock down. There's only so much of that part of me I can disclose.

I knew when I got married, this other person would see me...would glimpse the hidden stuff of me. Would she be okay with that? That was my fear anyway. Would I ever get to a place where I could blurt something out that felt important but sounded stupid, and not be afraid of how the other person would react?

That was my concern almost twenty one years ago. I'm not sure when it really dawned on me, and I don't know exactly how the process went, but I am close with this woman who is my wife. She knows me, I'm not afraid of her. She may roll her eyes when I act like a little kid and obsess over action figures, but I know the roll of her eye is affectionate, not judgmental. How did this happen? When did we get this close? When did I drop my guard and let the hidden me skitter out into the living room? I don't know. Maybe it was over time, maybe it was just one of those "soul-mate" things (even though I really don't believe in that concept as it is popularly described).

What I've come to understand is this: when I can be myself with this woman who knows me, and loves me still, I am free to be transparent anywhere else in life. If this is just a point of reference to help me understand my relationship with God, then the principle applies spiritually as well. Do I realize that God knows me? Have I quit playing "spiritual man" in order to win His approval? Have I come to the place where I can be myself, and sit quietly with Him, just enjoying His nearness as I ponder the day. This is what a close relationship is like with my wife...this is what I want with God.

It's been years, but I think I still have a few lingering legalist issues that plague me personally. It's like finding a trail of ants in the kitchen. At the first sight of one, you squish it...and then refocus your eyes and realize that there's a whole line of them leading toward the patio door. It's been taking some time, getting legalism out of my system...but it's my goal. Pure, raw, and real relationship with God. I won't settle for less.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

My shoulder has gone stupid. Actually, it went stupid back in February, whilst playing football with the kids from church. It was a cold, drizzly day, and I went out to keep up with a pack of adolescents without the benefit of stretching, or thinking.

At one point in the game, I was moving in on the other QB, and he cocked his arm to pass the ball. This was my moment. I could hear the cheering crowds in my mind, the banners waving in my honor, as I single-handedly would put a stop to the opposition drive. The middle aged, squishy pastor saves the day! As the ball released from his hand, I reached up and swatted it down like a grizzly bear scoring a salmon! It was beautiful! My football player son thinly disguised his great admiration for me with the comment "C'mon old man, it's our ball now, open your eyes!"

The next morning my shoulder was really sore. The aching muscles of a gladiator, I thought. Next day, it still hurt just as bad, and I noticed that I had lost a whole range of movement. Hmmmm. Not good.

It's been almost three months now, and it's been hurting me every day. I finally went to see a sports doctor (which I must say I liked the sound of..."yeah, gotta' go see the sports doctor, he specializes in sports injuries, for those who are involved in the playing of sports, and activities of a sporting nature...." ). His first recommendation was to give me a cortisone shot. If you don't know what that is, it's a strong muscle relaxer injected directly into your shoulder by means of a needle the size of a turkey baster. It was while I was waiting the estimated three hours for him to come in and administer said shot that it occurred to me that doctors should never tell a patient he's going to get a shot. They should just dismiss the patient, as though he were going to the counter to settle accounts, and a group of orderlies should jump him in the hall, put a bag over his head, and then just jam the needle in and out while they hold him down. That would be better than waiting around for the turkey baster to be inserted.

Anyway....after all that, my shoulder is still stupid. It may be rotator cuff damage, and may require surgery. sucks.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I think I don't fit in.
I'm really intrigued by everything that has been developing on the emerging church front, but when it really comes down to it... when I try to wrap my mind or my acceptance around all the voices calling for revolution...I get tired.
Maybe I'm lazy.
I don't really have a need to start a revolution, or try and change the ©hurch at large. I just want to hang out with the friends I have and love Jesus.
Mike Yakonelli said at the end of his book "Messy Spirituality", "religion is hard on our bones.", and I guess that's how I feel even about all the new manifestos that launch almost daily on the internet.
But I still read them.
And there are some interesting things going on out there...did you know that there are punk monks? DEATH TO THE WORLD BABY!!!! It almost seems like something out of a Mad Max movie. Actually, I rather like these guys...I wouldn't mind hanging with them for a while.
But see...while that stuff really intrigues me...I couldn't see myself starting a punk monastery here. Maybe that's the point. Maybe it's not about fitting in. Maybe I don't have to . Maybe I'm alright just hanging out with the friends I have and loving Jesus in simplicity, without a manifesto that defines us.
Still, I wouldn't mind having a "death to the world" T-shirt though.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

You know what....I know what I want to write about right now. My son, age 18, is in the children's church room, diagonal across from my office, with three little children at this moment. He's watching these kids so that the mom's who brought them can enjoy the women's breakfast without distraction.
I'm listening to him interact with these kids...and I'm so impressed by him. He's playing games with them, and I hear him say something, there's a pause, and I hear them giggle. I peek my head in, and he's playing hang-man with them on a dry erase board. (but I can just hear it now...some incensed mom saying "we don't let our little angel play games that have violent connotations to them...blah blah blah"). There's a little boy and two little girls. My son is a handsome young man...and even at their young ages, I can see these little girls are taken by him...and captivated by his interaction with them.
He looks right at them as he asks them for a letter, then makes a dramatic declaration if they guess one right. They love it, and he laughs with them. He wants to be a teacher. He'd be a good one.

He's 18! I didn't have that kind of character at his age. I couldn't see past my own teenage angst to think about anyone else but poor, misunderstood me. I'm so proud of my kids...but it's strange how the whole familial staging ground works, they so often don't know that I am.

I am so proud of my kids...I'm so proud of my son.

So it's 10:25 the next morning...and I really should be working on the multi-media for my teaching. I have come to this blog and written several things that I've subsequently brushed aside. I don't know what to write here. If I start to think about writing, it seems like I get sort of artsy fartsy, and the writing doesn't sound like me.
But if I start to just ramble on...well...it bores me.
What am I doing here?
Maybe I should start by stating who I am.

I am a husband.
I am a father.
I am an artist.
I am a surfer.
I am a pastor.

And yet, is that who I am? As I look at that list, I realize the truly spiritual person would have put "I am a Christian" at the top of the list.
But I guess I see that differently. I couldn't lump that in with those other things, because my relationship with Christ is the overall heading. The other aspects wouldn't even be there outside of Him.

I really don't even know what to write.
I can see I'll have to work on this.

But some other time....right now I have multi-media stuff to work on.

Friday, April 16, 2004

ok...it's 9:13 and I'm supposed to be working on my teaching for Sunday...but it's amazing how distracted I can get in such a short time. What started as a leisurely cruise through some online commentaries, ended with a strange and curious detour through a maze of Christian and emergent church community blogs.

That's how I ended up writing this particular bit of information...I started my own blog.

It will be interesting to see how well I keep up with it. I have a tendency at times to get fired up and bubbling with creative expression at the beginning of a thing, only to find I've gotten too interested in the next thing to come along to keep up with whatever I started.

Maybe I won't tell anyone about this thing until I've had a chance to fail in it privately.