31 May 2012

Incredibly "Perilous Times"

I was reminded by a close friend today that we live in incredibly "perilous times."
     My heart is heavy. I am praying for God's mercy especially upon the Islamic world.
* In Syria a massacre of civilians over last weekend left more than 100 people dead;
* In Egypt a run-off election will be held in 2 weeks between an extremist candidate and a moderate candidate. The moderate candidate, however, served as Prime Minister under the previous regime.
* In another country, several relief workers have been abducted recently.
     Over the past year or so I have been asked to visit a variety of contexts which could be seen as "perilous" - Muslims imams in North Africa, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon to name a few. I have been humbled by how broken and out-of-control our world really is, and how much our world desperately needs RESCUING.
     Jesus and His Kingdom message resonates so deeply for me at the moment. "Come, Lord Jesus" with your mercy.

29 May 2012

Tim Keller on Homosexuality

My friend Rob posted this on his blog and I think it is outstanding.
     I say relatively little about homosexuality for the reason mentioned by Keller - Jesus said far, far more about greed than he did about adultery. Does this mean that for Jesus matters related to consumption, materialism, and greed were more important than matters related to adultery or homosexuality? I suppose we all need to come to our own conclusions.
     For now I am thankful for Keller's comments here.

28 May 2012

Of Pseudo-Community and Real Community

Very few people experience true community on a consistent basis, although deep in our hearts we yearn desperately for it.
     Those of us who are Christian have an expectation that "church" will be community. Many of us are terribly hurt when we find that what we experience in church is "pseudo-community." That is, there is comradely or commonality around a cause or a person (usually a great preacher), but when the proverbial poop hits the fan everyone scatters like scared cats.
     We want to be "real church in the unreal world," to quote the slogan of a church I know well. And yet we end up being the very opposite - Unreal church in the real world.
     Last Friday night at our sabbath gathering we spoke about the qualities of genuine community:
* It is rarely orchestrated or regimented
* It often flourishes through trial and suffering
* It demands a "giving of one self" and movement toward intimacy
* It looks out for the common good, the good of the "other" rather than myself
* It is celebratory in an unscripted manner
     This weekend I experienced community in some ways. When you experience it you know it - there is a freedom, a calm, an ease to it. As my friend Calvin said, it just happens rather than making it up.
     Here's some photos from one of the community contexts - Shalom Village last Friday evening.

26 May 2012

Steven Graduates High School!

Steven graduated from high school yesterday! The ceremony was at the ever-beautiful Red Rocks Amphitheater.
     Way to go, my boy (who is now a man for sure)!
     While Steven is modest about his accomplishments, I am not as far as he is concerned. So I am going to take a moment and share my pride about Steven:
  * He finished #4 in his class of 421 students;
  * His weighted grade point average for 4.2;
  * He successfully completed NINE advanced placement classes in high school, receiving 4 or 5s on all of them except one.
  * Steven started the philosophy club at Bear Creek High School, part of his legacy to his school.
     Steven has enrolled at the University of Denver for his undergraduate work (having received a chancellor's scholarship which made dad exceptionally happy!).
     Tomorrow night we will be having a graduation party for Steven, complete with live music from his band along with a bunch of other musician friends of ours. It should be quite the bash!
     Congratulations, Steven! Well done, we are very proud of you!


25 May 2012

Step Up Enterprises: Grace first

The first value of Step Up Enterprises is, "Grace gives everyone a next step."
     Bono and U2 put it this way: "Grace finds beauty in everything."
     Philip Yancey says it this way: "Imperfection is the prerequisite for grace. Light only gets in through the cracks."
     Step Up is all about discovering the beauty perhaps buried deep inside a person. We are all about helping light get into the cracks of lives and so dispelling the darkness in our souls.
     We chose the photo below as one to go on the Step Up website. I love the photo because the sun is blasting onto the people and they are full of joy and hope! The silhouette reminds me that these people represent any and all of us ... that grace is not limited to a "holy few," but is offered to the imperfect and incomplete.


24 May 2012

Everyone Has a Next Step

A few years ago, my friend Lizzy and I started a little company we called Step Up Enterprises. The tagline we came up with is, "because everyone has a next step."
     In recent weeks we have been working on expanding Step Up Enterprises and so I have been giving a lot of thought to the notion that everyone has a next step.
     When we started Step Up we also came up with a handful of core values which have helped us flesh out how and why everyone has a next step. The values are:
  1. Grace offers everyone a next step;
  2. Transition is a normal and healthy part of life, and is crucial to our growth;
  3. All of us sometimes need help to work through life's challenges;
  4. Emotionally healthy people give to others and empower the the community;
  5. Everyone can grow and lead a more fulfilling life.

     I am excited about what Step Up offers people - professional counseling, personal coaching, and organizational consulting. We are bringing on another experienced counselor, we are getting trained in ways to help people step up, and we want to expand our clientele.
     Growing a business is a lot of work. I'm thankful that Step Up is a business that I believe in and thus have energy for. 

04 May 2012

They Call Me "the Blue"

Two day ago I had a bizarre experience in which my two worlds collided.
       I spent a day in Indianapolis with the Crescent Project (which trains the Church to reach out to Muslims), flew back to Denver in the early evening and rushed to a baseball field to umpire a game.
       In the matter of about 4 hours I was sitting in a conference room strategizing about Islam and then calling a kid out at first base!
       One of the coaches walked up to me after the first inning and asked, "how does it feel to be called 'the blue?' when you guys where black most of the time?" I chuckled at the question, thinking to myself that nobody in Indianapolis thinks of me as "the blue!"
     I actually love the divergent parts of my life - I go from intense conversations about Islam, Judaism, and matters of faith to calling balls and strikes. I walk onto a baseball diamond, enjoy the game, and walk off and it's over. It clears my head from the complexities of Isaac and Ishmael!