Thursday, October 18, 2007

Shameless Plug

Ok, so I really don't want to use this blog space for announcements and stuff, but I am getting really pumped for the Youth Conference we are going to on November 16th & 17th. I've been looking online at info on the group that will be leading the conference - OneTimeBlind - and it has been like getting reacquainted with old friends. OneTimeBlind is this incredible drama group who used to perform at all of the CIY conferences until about four years ago...and then they dropped off the face of the planet. But now they are touring around, doing different conferences, and they are leading the Youth Conference at Windermere!!! How exciting!!!

Here's one of their skits.

So, anyway, the conference is going to be amazing. I really love how OneTimeBlind communicates truth in such a conversational, real-life sort of way. I mean, I think that is really what we are all looking for - a way we can understand how Jesus and God and the Bible really relates to my life. I was talking to a student last night after service and he was saying how he has went to other churches and they just feel "preachy", like they are talking some foreign language.

I was listening to a podcast from Rob Bell, pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, MI, this morning. He was talking about how truth isn't so much about the words as it is about the actions that the words produce. He was saying that what we believe isn't found so much in our written-down-hung-on-the-wall-in-Grandma's-needlepoint statements of belief, but in what our lives really look like. That really challenges me. So often I am so worried about making sure I say just the right thing in just the right way. When I'm preparing a message, I often feel like I need to make sure I put certain words and phrases in there. But does my life reflect those words and phrases? What truths and beliefs does my life speak about?

I really pray that you get to come to the Fall Conference with us. I also really pray that all of us who go are brought to a place - a crisis of belief - where we have to apply truth to our lives. God Bless -m.e.

Friday, October 5, 2007

A Child of the 80s Comes Full Circle

I know it may be hard for you to believe by my apparant hip cultured up-to-dateness, but I am really a nerd from the 80s. That's right. I wore parachute pants and Batman Underoos. I listened to Def Leppard and Cyndi Lauper. I identified with The Breakfast Club and wished I were Ferris Bueller. I played with Transformers before Shia LeBeouf was born. And, yes, I cried when I saw E.T.

What is really interesting to me, though, is how trends seem to come full circle. All of the old toys from my childhood are suddenly popular again. They are making movies and TV shows based on my childhood heroes. It is really strange to see things cycle. So, as I was surfing the 'Net the other day, I was particularly intrigued to find this video.

How amazing the similarities between a favorite movie of mine from the 80's - The Goonies - and the current pop icon - The Pirates of the Caribbean! Why is that? Creative Theft? Coincidence? Greed overcoming art?

I believe it is deeper than that. I believe all things cycle. Whether its art and fashion or economy and careers or faith and spirituality. As a Youth Pastor and a follower of Christ, it is interesting to me particulary to see how the cycles of revival work. It seems like every couple hundred years, the world becomes a mess. People are living for themselves. Money has become god. A few people start saying it may be the end of the world and...suddenly there is this great revival.

In our world today, there is so much talk about selfishness and disconnectedness and the sad state of everything, but I am starting to see signs of things changing (or coming back around again). There are people out there like Shane Claiborne who has taken a vow of poverty and is working with underprivileged people in the ghettos of Philadelphia...and people are joining him left and right. There are people like Mike Foster who is founding organizations like The Junky Car Club because he doesn't think we need more, we need to realize we have enough. There are people like Andy Freeman and Pete Greig who have been used to start a 24/7 Prayer Movement that is spreading across the world, inviting people to slow their lives down and center themselves on prayer and study with God.

And these things make me feel like I'm coming around to myself as well. They speak to deep parts of my heart and soul that say, "Things aren't as they are supposed to be! I need to slow down! I need to live differently than the world's system!" This current cycle of coming revival is showing me it is possible to be in the world but not of the world, as Jesus prayed for His disciples. That it is possible to not live under this high-pressure, must produce more, must never have free-time mentality.

So, how to wrap this up? I guess I want us to be encouraged that there is a hope for things to be set right. The ultimate cycle is that Jesus is coming back eventually to set an end to all this suffering once and for all. The other challenge is to start that process in our own lives this week. So let yourself have some down time. Create some space to breath and listen to God. Maybe watch one of your favorite shows from your childhood and remember the joy that you had when you were little...and know that within that joy is the fingerprint of what God hopes for us now! God Bless, m.e.