Posts Tagged: "faith"

church fantasies I have

note: picture above is from our last community outreach event just before the pandemic hit—our annual Toy Give

the other day in a staff meeting, a question came up about whether or not we should do more explaining to the church about why we are currently not having normal worship (congregational singing) in our services.

I think we probably could do a better job of communicating what we are doing and why

I also feel torn over raising the subject.

there are people who would be happy to gather for church and break all the COVID guidelines with maskless singing and the return of kids classes and big hugs with germs all around

and there are people who are still not comfortable coming to church until COVID is under control and 80% of the population has been vaccinated

so, reminding everyone why we are doing what we are doing probably won’t make anyone happier or change their view on things

the ones who want to break free from all the regulations will be unsatisfied with our explanation

and the ones who aren’t comfortable coming to church will still be watching from home, if and when they think of it

I wish…

I mean…

I have this church fantasy

that everyone would applaud our careful following of the rules

that everyone would see that our caution is out of concern for the vulnerable

that everyone would be proud of our church for doing the right thing

that everyone would thank the pastors for leading well

but I know it’s a fantasy

I wish it would happen

but I know it won’t likely

and that got me on a wave of thinking about my fantasies (I have more)…

I fantasize that our church would be:

wildly diverse yet unified in purpose

completely over and done with judgment

quick to embrace the arts and celebrate beauty

resolute with Jesus at the center of our identity and practice

worshiping like the black church – all-in body, soul, spirit engagement

moving with ease between charismatic expression and quiet contemplation

deeply committed to caring for our local community through service and generosity

in our feels – quick to laughter and easily moved to tears

informed by the Sermon on the Mount in our politics

a storehouse of good food to share

really gifted at throwing parties

safe, humble, and gentle

working for justice

*   *   *

I know fantasy isn’t a Bible word. Maybe I’m talking about dreaming of the impossible. That might sound a bit more biblical…

There’s a verse in the Bible (Romans 4.18) about Abraham—and it says he, “against all hope, believed.” This has become an expression in the English language, to “hope against all hope.” It means to continue to hope for something even though it seems unlikely to happen.

Exactly. That’s what I’m talking about.

This is my fantasy and you can’t talk me out of it.

 

NWLife Weekly Conversation—Ray and Reyna Bardo

Here is our fifteenth NWLife video podcast featuring our weekly conversation.

Today’s theme: A story of faith and love with Ray and Reyna Bardo

Today, on Father’s Day, I’m sitting with our wonderful friends Ray and Reyna Bardo to hear their story of faith and love and survival.

The video begins and ends with some words from Pastor Andy Jones. Pastor Kyle Wheeler and Georgia Carlton, along with our band, lead us in worship from the stage today.

I hope you’ll take 17 minutes and join us for some church!

The Lord brought me out into a wide-open, spacious place. He rescued me because he delighted in me.  —Psalm 18.19

 

The Great Stripping Away (or—how I lost some of my faith)

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Thankful Notes (#23)

I will always think of this past year as the Great Stripping Away. There were things I intentionally chose to remove from my life, there were things that just happened naturally and in their season, and there were things that felt more forceful, not in my control… more like a taking rather than a giving or letting go.

This past year…

We sold our big 3,000sf home of 10 years in the neighborhood where Ashah grew up

We gave away most of our furniture

I gave away 3/4 of my clothing

My dad started having memory problems

Ashah graduated / turned 18 / has boyfriend / is heading to college – including a study abroad program

We began a complete gut-and-remodel of our little lake house while living in it… which included no heat or water during the snow storm and power outage this winter

We had to move out for some days when the staircase was gutted (leaving no access to bedrooms and the only remaining usable bathroom)

The main level of our house had no walls, no insulation, no lights, etc. for a while

I slept on a cot in the construction zone for a month or two

We had no kitchen, no way to prepare food at home other than with a microwave

We ran out of money to pay contractors and had to borrow in order to keep going

We began a remodel on our rental house so we could sell it

We sold our rental house

We decided to close our Kent campus after some significant setbacks – the youth pastor left to work at another church and took much of the band and our workforce with him; at the same time, an elder/pastor left because of a pending divorce

The church I grew up in, now a multi-site megachurch in our community, hired our youth pastor without any prior contact or conversation with me. Our youth pastor left to work at one of their campuses and took… Read More

Advent Day 17: A Word About Doubt… The Struggle is a Sign of Life

Not long ago, a friend corresponded with me—asking some questions about faith and admitting that they, for a while, had been struggling with doubt. To the best of my ability, I tried answering the questions posed. Then I responded to the part about doubt… this is what I said:

Just a word concerning doubt and uncertainty… the struggle isn’t bad, the struggle is a sign of life. Faith without struggle, without resistance, without doubt isn’t really faith at all.

God can handle your doubts and your struggles.

Certainty isn’t the goal. God doesn’t fit neatly into our theological boxes (He never asked us to put him in there anyway). Those boxes leave no room for wonder or mystery or “I don’t know.” I’m happy to hear that you are alive, struggling, fighting… it’s… Read More

Hitting The Wall

Doubt, uncertainty, the “dark night of the soul,” finding yourself in unknown territory where the faith you’ve always known doesn’t seem to be working, hitting the wall…

Nobody wants to be there. And when we find ourselves there, we wish we could just cancel it, wipe it off the books entirely.

But hitting the wall is a necessary part of our growth and development.

In Brian Zahnd’s new book Water to Wine, he describes developmental psychologist James Fowler’s insights on the matter (I will paraphrase):

There are stages of spiritual development in… Read More

Some Shoutables (Serious – Ya Gotta Take A Minute Or Two And Read These Great Posts)

On Today’s Sunday Shout-Outs, here are a few shoutables…

 

sarah bessey guard your gates

This post, Guard Your Gates by Sarah Bessey. Here’s my favorite line: “So, no, I don’t guard my gates against simply terrible or scary things anymore. Instead, I want to guard my gates against what diminishes wholeness and holiness in me. I guard against the influences that make me the worst version of myself, the influences that feed my… Read More

I Wouldn’t Even Mind If You Read These Three Posts (They’re Not Mine)

I wouldn’t even mind if you read these three posts (they’re not mind). Actually, I’d love for you to read them. And I kinda think you will love reading them. Um, what are you waiting for???!!?!

 

benjamin coreyThis post, A Few Things I’ve Learned As A Christian Outsider, by Benjamin Corey. Here’s a brief sample: “Theological labels have a way of making us crazy– we allow them to define us, give us identity, give our lives meaning, and all kind of other things that ultimately take the place I’ve learned only Jesus can fill.”