Thursday, May 27, 2010

Changing Chapters: A Community Garden is born

When I read a book, I enjoy short chapters. The chapters in my book The Runaway Pastor are too long for me. I like to read for a few seconds and knock one off. I like changing chapters because it gives me a sense of progress.

Changing chapters in real life can be more difficult.

A friend's status on facebook today: "Listening to my baby boy cry himself to sleep about moving away from his best friend. These are the moments you wish you could shield your kids from, heart break." A chapter is changing for this family--moving from seminary to their first job in a new church. And with all the dreams of making life better in the world, tonight their decision has broken their boy's heart.

I've made several of those cry yourself to sleep decisions for my family. And while they began as exciting looks into a better world, they included painful leavings behind.

But this week, there is a chapter change that is exciting...even exilarating for me.

Last winter I dreamed of a community garden at our church. We have all of this property, and we use it so little. There is hunger in our community, as well as many frustrated gardeners due to a lack of sun in our forest-living. But as many pastors can tell you, dreams are a dime a dozen, and often go by the wayside soon enough.

Thanks to the determined efforts of a couple who shared my dream, and those whom they have inspired; last night I wheel-barrowed my way through tilled soil. I (before gladly being replaced by a friend, then a friend with a tractor) was beginning the process of adding tons of donated composted amendments to the soil. I looked in front of me and saw a dream come true.

I arrived at the office early this morning and drove my jeep to the garden site, and just stared and smiled. In that soil, dozens of us will sweat. There will be frustrating weeds and blights and cut fingers. There will be stings and failed crops and ignored patches. But a page has turned. There will be new friends made--more than 2/3 of our gardeners are from outside of the church. The local soup kitchen will receive huge quantities of fresh, nutrient rich vegetables. And in one more new way, the stuff our church "owns," will be multiplied for those who need it. Kind of sounds biblical!

Take a look at our facebook page. Join if you want!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hope is Growing

As our church prepares to plow up our soil to serve as a community garden, I'm dreaming of kingdom come. Check out this site .

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Wind of God

I've been thinking this week about the roaring wind at Pentecost. If you aren't familiar with the reference, here is a summary. When Jesus' followers (called disciples) were filled with the Holy Spirit (God's Spirit), it was on the day of Pentecost (a Hebrew Holiday). They were in a room together, when they heard a mighty-rushing wind. So I've been thinking about that.

I think of Genesis 2:7, when the creation story shows Adam, the first man, being made alive by the breath of God.

I think of Jesus (John 3) telling a skeptical, yet interested religious leader about how God's presence is like the wind. You can never tell where it is coming from or where it is going.

I think of Jesus (John 20:19-23) appearing to the disciples after his resurrection. They are all afraid and hiding. They have betrayed him and failed him and watched him die. (Yes, they feel like losers!) He shows up in the room and says "Peace!" Yeah, right. But he says it again and then he breaths on them. Then he tells them that people will be forgiven according to the level that the disciples forgive people. (That's the witnessing part, and I like it. Witnessing according to Jesus here is not making them an offer of, "If you will do this,God will do this." His version here is more that we are to be the present forgiveness of God. But I digress.

So then on the day when God shows up (Acts 2) to move into his new home (surrendered people who love him), there's wind. Sounds like God breathing life into his witnesses.

Taken a deep breath of God's Spirit lately?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Runaway hasn't Runaway

I know my postings have been few and far between for a while. Part of that is due to a busy schedule, many days out of town and plain old fatigue. I'd also have to admit that some of the complacency here is due to a lack of direction about what to write. It happens.

I enjoyed the foray into writing about prayer, and I'm still enjoying the new frontiers in that practice. However, it seems time to move on to something else.

So let me just let you know, if you all haven't jumped ship (I haven't even checked my analytics account to watch traffic in more than a month.), I'll try to get going again soon.

I am enjoying lots of feedback on my book, THE RUNAWAY PASTOR. Thanks for that, and for spreading the word about its message. Perhaps later this year, I will get back to the places that would like a signing party, and other promotion opportunities.

Peace to you, if you are there. :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Choosing prayer for all we're worth.

I think it is time I begin another theme or direction here. It was fun working with the idea of prayer as something that we avoid, even when we want to pursue it. Maybe fun isn't the word. Either way, it seems to me that prayer is tough work, and because of this truth, we often choose to avoid it. If we do what we enjoy and succeed at, then we also tend to avoid those things that make us feel inadequate.

So where does that leave us? What is your take on it? Do you avoid prayer for all you are worth? Or are you growing in prayer?

If I can take a paragraph or so to summarize, I think the beginning place that is most vital is the attitude of humility. Jesus said the pure in heart will see God, and humility seems the best route toward such purity. Following this, I mentioned a need for a place of prayer. No one seems to struggle with that. I think the practice of repeating prayers, especially the Jesus Prayer, the Lord's Prayer, and others is a practice that will help one deepen their prayer life. The use of a prayer rope is a tool that reminds us to pray, and that we are praying while we are in process.

The past several posts have come from this stream of thinking. I hope they have challenged at least someone to be more intentional about time in prayer.

This weekend I travel to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, where my entire family and I plan to hike to Mt. LeConte and stay at the historic lodge on top. On Saturday, I will awaken on top of the world as I begin the celebration of my birthday. I'll try and post some pix here for you to enjoy this journey into the clouds.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Avoiding prayer for all we're worth: A six year old could do it.

I was with an old college buddy of mine this week and he told me a great story of a nighttime prayer with his grandson. The six year old prayed: "God would you make it so everyone does what I want?" And as his papa was leaving his room, the boy looked up from his bed smiling, and said: "I sure hope he answers that one!"

How often do we pray in order to ask for some blessing? Some have lists of things they are asking for. At other times, we pray in the crisis--"O God help!" Both of these prayers--asking for blessings and for help in troubled times--are proper praying. In these prayers we give direction to God. Bless this, help that, or send this or care for that.

But this week I've been thinking about another kind of prayer. In Acts 10 and 11, there is a telling and re-telling of a story. Simon Peter was praying, and so was a Roman soldier. And as they were praying, they received direction from God!

I am trying to learn to pray long and sincerely, without asking for anything but transformation. And I'm finding that often such transformation comes when I'm ready to obey in new ways.