Archives For April 2008

Spring Up the Bluff

Mike —  April 28, 2008 — Leave a comment

I hurt myself yesterday & I’m still in pain.
Not coerced.
Not an accident.
I willfully, intentionally, and voluntarily engaged in a painful endeavor.

Here in Scottsbluff is a wonderful little place we like to call Scotts Bluff National Monument. It’s a nice place. A large bluff that overlooks the valley – great views. On a clear day you can even see Laramie Peak in WY.

Yesterday was not a clear day. Or maybe it was fairly clear, but I didn’t notice because I wasn’t there for the view. I was there for the annual Spring Up the Bluff relay run up to the top. (In a joke that’s surely been made way too many times, we decided we should come back in October when they have the Fall Down the Bluff.) It’s a pretty simple concept. You get 5 of your gullible buddies to agree to one leg (only about a quarter mile each) and the six of you pass the baton up the bluff.

We had about three problems, the first being gravity. It’s not easy to run up a hill. The second was wind. It was windy in town yesterday. It was insanely windy on the bluff! Parts of the run were made uphill against the wind. The third problem was an insufficient number of runners on our team. 6 legs divided by 4 runners meant that two of us ran two legs in a row. Jon and Greg ran the first two legs, then after Scott made his way through the tunnel sections (which had to be the toughest) I did the last 2 legs.

The biggest problem I had though was my own inability to accept the imposed limits of my insufficiently conditioned physical mechanism. I took off at a full bore as soon as the baton was in my hand (I kept hearing the line from Hidalgo about the beginning of the race is just for show). Quickly realizing I had a long way to go, I told myself to ease up a bit. Unfortunately, my self did not listen to me and I kept running… hard.

As I neared the next handoff point, I became acutely aware of how ridiculous I was going to look running through without handing off. (Or maybe heroic if they thought I’d run the whole thing.) But the motor kept turning. I kept telling myself to slow down. Things became hazy around the edges. My self still didn’t listen to me. My head pounded. I could feel my pulse in my cheek (which is kind of an odd sensation). And I kept running.

When I do this to myself, my lungs get pretty ticked off. They’re the part of my body that kept saying “Slow down, moron!” It’s not nice of my lungs to call me names like that, but I’ll give them a little leeway since they’ve been so neglected and abused. So now, I’ll spend a couple days sounding like I’ve been smoking for about 92 years. (If you see me hacking this week, don’t worry – it’s not contagious!)

The best part of the whole day was some good discussion with Scott on the walk back down. (I’m not sure what possessed us to pass up the shuttle?) I’m sore today, and sounding like I just puffed out my fourth pack since lunch, but I’m sure I’ll do it again. I seem to find ways to do this to myself…

Anyone want to go running???

Compassion Blog

Mike —  April 28, 2008 — 1 Comment

Compassion has a new blog. Various writers associated with Compassion talk about child sponsorship, poverty, and issues related to what’s going on at Compassion.

LuAnn and I have sponsored kids through Compassion for a long time. It’s really a good organization that’s making a difference in the world for the sake of Christ. Check out their site and blog. Also, I’ve added a widget to my sidebar that you can use to sign up to sponsor a child. If you’re not already doing this, maybe you should use it…

Amazing Visual

Mike —  April 28, 2008 — Leave a comment

This is just pretty much amazing!

You can see more about Stephen Wiltshire at his site, including a gallery of his other work.

Stuff

Mike —  April 25, 2008 — Leave a comment

I’m usually pretty hesitant to put up recommendations of websites, but here comes one. A while back, Stuff Christians Like was launched. At first, I thought it was just going to be another cheap Christian knock off of another, similarly named popular site. I was wrong.

It’s hilarious. You probably should go check it out if you haven’t already read it. The site pokes fun at some of the silliness that we Christians enjoy, but also brings up some thought provoking issues. Take some time, look around the various posts. Make sure you’re not somewhere you have to be quiet because you will laugh out loud…

NOTE: If you belong to the Holy Church of those who are Perpetually Unable to Laugh at Themselves you will not enjoy Stuff Christians Like. Stay away from there and return to your pickle juice immediately.

What are we saying?

Mike —  April 24, 2008 — Leave a comment

Sometimes in the church we get so familiar with our language that we stop actually thinking about what it means. I try to be really careful not to catch myself talking to students about things like “full life” that Jesus came to bring (or a number of other ‘churchy‘ phrases) without making sure they understand what that is. I often wonder what other people really mean when they are talking about justification, or being saved, or getting saved, or living in the Spirit… Do they even know what they’re saying?

One of the phrases that gets thrown around a lot is “making disciples”. Most churches would, in some form or another, say that their mission/purpose/job/commission/vision (or a major part of it) is to make disciples. A church that would not say this (in some way) is ignoring Jesus, so probably is more of a club than a church anyway; and in a club you don’t have to know what you’re saying, just say it at the appropriate moment.

But for the actual church that is about making disciples, do we really know what we’re talking about when we tell each other to make disciples? Just how do you make a disciple?

Eugene Peterson’s Message paraphrases the Great Commission (Jesus’ command to go make disciples) like this: “Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

The question to answer then is what way of life are we supposed to train people to live in? How is it possible in the 21st Century to live the way of life that Jesus taught His disciples to live in the 1st Century? What does this ‘way of life’ look like in our context?

White Trash Scavenger?

Mike —  April 23, 2008 — 2 Comments

I like to keep things, you know… just in case. There I admitted it. I still have papers I wrote in High School! Mrs. Waschenfelder may be proud, but my wife is not so amused. My boxes of school items are a burning, festering sore in her housekeeping psyche. But, I keep things. Not just old school stuff. My garage is like an oasis of white trash scavenging bliss, hidden among the neighborhood homes. Filled with things like old license plates that could be bent into shape to make… something. Slabs of cardboard to put under the car so I don’t get my back dirty under there – at least not until I actually pull the oil pan plug and dump oil all over my front! Parts and pieces of my Colt that I could (could!) sell on ebay if I can’t find some other way to use them.

But this week I’ve learned two great lessons:

1. Free Day (or week) at the landfill is a good thing.
2. WINDY Free Day at the landfill – not so much.

As I was throwing various stripped parts from my race car, the Men in Big Machines felt it necessary to continually drive around kicking up the dust which then blew everywhere. And by everywhere I mean into my 4Runner. I know it’s just dirt, but landfill dirt… ick!

The good news is in my 2 trips this week and last week I’ve gotten rid of a lot of those miscellaneous pieces of car that have been sitting around in my already-too-tiny garage, plus a headliner, door panels, seats, an old non-functional dishwasher, a broken screen door, a rotting old kitchen table, and two tires (i thought it odd that after all the tire changing I did last season I only had 2 tires to ditch – where did they all go?) .

It’s a little belated, but Happy Earth Day!

…To make sure this would be my white trashiest entry ever, I also gave away the toilet and tub that have been sitting on my back patio since we took them out last fall! LuAnn is happy. But I’m still keeping my sophomore English papers!

Who are you?

Mike —  April 16, 2008 — 2 Comments

We had some good conversation with some of our students last weekend on our trip to Cheyenne. We were talking about how God reveals Himself to us. There are a lot of ways He does that, but one of the most obvious and objective revelations of Himself comes to us through Scripture.

But, why does He bother to reveal Himself to us at all? As it says in Psalms, “What is man that you are mindful of us…”

In James, we are told that the person who reads Scripture but doesn’t do what it says, is like a person who looks into a mirror then walks away and forgets what he looks like. Why do we look into mirrors? To make sure we look ok. This is more than just a catchy word picture to say “if you don’t do what you see in Scripture then you’re pretty dumb.”

We’re made in God’s image. As He reveals Himself to us, He is also showing us who we are/should be. As we look at the reflection of Him given to us in Scripture, we see the reflection of who we were made to look like. As young people begin to detach their own personality from that of their parents, as they begin to discover “who they are” – it’s critical that they come to define themselves in terms of what is revealed to them in Scripture (not athletics, appearance, or even academics).

Jesus talked about us living full lives. We can’t do that if we’re not fully ourselves. God reveals Himself to us so we can know who we are and live the life He calls us to live with Him.

Coffee Drops!

Mike —  April 11, 2008 — Leave a comment

Like coffee? Want to try a little something different? A place in London has what might be the most expensive cup you’ll ever try (or maybe you won’t). It’s basically made from coffee beans “harvested” from fecal matter! Whoah… You’ll have to check the link for details, but I guess this kind of brings the job of “pooper scooper” to a whole new level.

In related news, a new Carribou Coffee opened up in our town this week. Actually, let’s hope it’s not related news at all! Can you imagine… uh, never mind.

Possibilities

Mike —  April 7, 2008 — Leave a comment

I was listenning to a podcast sermon by Erwin McManus earlier today, where he quoted Benjamin Zander, conductor of Boston Philharmonic. This is what he (Zander) said:

“My job is to awaken possibilities in others.”

What more succinct and appropriate description of youth ministry is there? I was reading this morning as Jesus was taking the Pharisees to task for their ‘lordly’ outlook: “Because we know God’s law so well, we have authority to tell you what to do.” Jesus pointed out how they really did know the letter of God’s law very well, but were utterly failing at living out the heart of it. They couldn’t obey, but grabbed for power by trying to make everyone else obey, then pointing it out when those people failed.

Youth ministry can be like that. We who lead in ministries that are geared for youth can easily spot the shortcomings of those we lead. It’s not hard to find their failings and point them out so sharply that our students let themselves be defined by those failings. But what if our view of our “job” really was “to awaken possibilities” in our students? To uncover and draw out what God has placed within our students? Then what would become?

Olympic Mess

Mike —  April 7, 2008 — Leave a comment

Probably nothing focuses the world’s attention on one place like the Olympics. It’s always a big deal when the next host is announced years in advance. There’s always a great deal of fanfare and anticipation leading up to the event – including the torch run.

The Olympic Torch has come to symbolize the games themselves, but this year it seems the run will be encountering some difficulties. Protesters in London and Paris have halted the torch, forced it into buses for protection and turned what is normally a celebratory time into a spectacle of riot gear and tear gas. I think the next stop is San Francisco and I wouldn’t plan on things getting any better.

The way these protests have brought attention to China’s violations of human rights makes me wonder why the IOC chose Beijing to host the Olympics in the first place. I wonder if the Games themselves will be as heavily protested as the Torch run has been? If that happens, what will be the Chinese government’s response? They haven’t seemed to respond too favorably to protest in the past.

I also wonder what is the appropriate response for the church? How should we view a peace-and-harmony-promoting sporting event of this magnitude when it’s held in a place where so many live without justice? Could a door be opening at this time for justice to increase?