The Continentals

We had a group called the Continentals at our church last night. They are a group of 27 Christian young people (15-25 years old), from around teh country and actually 2 other states, who travel for 3 months straight performing in churches, community centers, etc. They sing, the dance, they dance some more, they speak truth, the dance some more.

I loved the students. I even hosted two of them (both guys) at my house and had a great, great time with them. We played on the X-box until 2:2o am at Joe and Heidi's house and then came home to crash.

I just question that kind of ministry. I don't know what role it serves in the Kingdom. Kelly asked me if the purpose of this group was to give Christians kids a place to perform and travel. It really seems that way. It clearly doesn't connect with my students, and as I talk to other youth pastors they feel the same way. So, is the ministry justified even if it primarily impacts those who travel in it? I guess yes. It is just painful for the rest of us to sit through those type of things sometimes.

Positive Observations:
I will say that they had about a dozen good dancers.
Some tremendous singers.
An amazing Kenyan dance/song.
Great smiles.
Good hearts.
And they made me laugh...

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We're Having a Baby

Kelly and I found out that we were pregnant last Friday. It was confirmed by our doctor yesterday. Friday was the one year anniversary of the day we found out that we lost our son Elijah. I was out of town. Kelly took a test to begin this dreaded and dismal day. The second pink line suddenly appeared. She looked. Blinked. Looked again. Called my cell phone numerous times (I was in class and it was off) leaving 911 messages for me to call her. I called her on a break and we celebrated. We can't believe it! What timing. What perfect timing. The very weekend that we have been fearing, dreading, avoiding any discussion about... came and went with more to celebrate than to mourn. The Lord wanted us to celebrate life, rather than wallow in sorrow. This does not negate Elijah's death. It does not minimize it. It does not lessen its impact on us. It does not make it less meaningful for us. It simply give us life when we needed it most.

The doctor took another test and then transfered us into the ultrasound room. We thought we were 3 weeks pregnant. They told us we are 5 1/2 weeks pregnant! As we stared at the ultrasound of the "perfect, round, centered" embryotic sac the doctor saw something. The nurse and I peered in. There was movement where we weren't expecting it. We didn't know that it was 5 1/2 weeks old yet, but this confirmed it. The heart develops between weeks 5 and 6. We were staring at a "heart flutter" or "cardiac movement". I was witnessing one of the most basic, earliest detectable signs of new life... the formation of our babies heart. The movement or the heart, in its pre-heart form stage. It was amazing. It was life giving. It was real. I can't wait to share it with everyone... when I am allowed.
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75% is a C... Right?

Living in community sharpens, cuts, chisels...

It is a raw challenge at the core of who you are...
in your relationship with God
in your relationship with your spouse
in your relationship with others

We don't live in the same house, apartment complex or even the same street as our community. We began this experiment in intentional community last February... almost 9 months ago. Our commitment to one another was simple...
Share supper with one another 4 days a week (M-F, except Wednesday)
Always be honest
Always be open
Always be REAL
Always be willing to make your own sandwich if you don't like the food
Seek Christ
Share what you find

Those simple beginnings have blossomed into amazing relationships. We were friends before and now we are family. We shared stories before and now we share our lives. We talked about our strengths before and now we challenge each other's weaknesses. We hugged and smiled at our spouses in front of one another before and now we fight, enter with obvious wounds and leave hugging and smiling usually.

It is amazing to me, that with all we have been through with these brothers and sisters I can still leave embarrased. After all we have shared and accepted about each other I can still leave wishing I didn't share that one last feeling. After all the intense weaknesses that we have laid bare, I still wish they didn't know that I sometimes choose to stay up and watch sports rather than go to bed with my wife.

The community that we are experiencing is one of the most exciting things in my life and one of the scariest things in my life. Society has raised me to hide my feelings, to "be a man", to work on my weaknesses in private, to keep a cloak over my sins... all of these are impossible in true community, and that is why those who follow that code of conduct often lack true communion with God. When you aren't honest with other, you usually aren't honest with yourself. When you can't admit your weaknesses to a group of fellow travelers who can and will pray for you, over you and with you, then you probably can't admit them to yourself. True community draws you closer to the heart of God, as you reveal the deep parts of your heart to others and God reveals the deep parts of Himself to you... often through each other.

Tonight the questions was simple... Do you guys go to bed together?
Joe and Heidi... 98%
Benji and Sarah... 99%
Chris and Summer... Absent, but 98%
James and Kelly... 75% (which is up from 50%, since I sacrificed fantasy football this season)
... I love sports. Monday night football, the baseball playoffs, Saturday or Sunday night football show... there is always something, some lame reason a couple nights a week that I surrender the priviledge of going to bed with my beautiful bride and talking until we slumber. I don't want to do that. It isn't a sin, it isn't a trap that leads me into sin, it isn't going to send me to hell, and no one is saying any of those things. In fact, no said anything and no one had to. I got the point. I knew why the question was asked and they knew why they were asking it. We all already knew the response that each couple would give. We all already knew who would leave pondering the question the rest of the night.

I hate community... or I love it.
I hate it if I don't want to be challenged or change, if I am satisfied for what I know of God, if I am complacent about my relationships with others.
I love it if I want to be challenged on the things that matter. The things that will change my life, improve my marriage, push me toward the heart of my Savior, form deeper bonds with my Christian brothers and sisters. I love it if I desire to constantly be growing, pursuing, seeking, journeying, leaping on my God-walk. I love it if I am okay with not always appearing perfect. I love it if I am okay with the fact that I will never live up to the expectations I have of myself. I love it if I realize no one else has those same expectations for me. I love it if I come to grips with the fact that I really should boast about my weaknesses, rather than coyly reveal my strengths and victories. I love it if I really think that the book of Acts is true.

I guess I love it.
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Many conversations lately. I couldn't even begin to list them all, let alone give an adequate picutre of their impact. I have been blessed with so many voices in my life. Voices that spark radical living, voices that shun the mundane, voices of welcome reason, voices of loving support, voices of challenge. I have those who push me to new places and those who help me process the dead ends and complicated mazes I find myself lost in. I feel blessed to be on this journey. Kary Oberbrunner calls it a Journey Towards Relevance, for me it is simply a Journey towards the heart of Christ. If He allows me to be relevant on the journey I am blessed. It He allows me to feel liked by others I am thankful. He has allowed me to begin this journey though and for that I am grateful.
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