Friday, February 23, 2007
But wow. Selfish confession here. I so wish I could be up in the mountains today. The day after a snow storm is always a wonderful experience in the Sierra. Check out some of these photos from Yosemite and surrounding areas.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
It's raining here in the Central Valley, and it's snowing up in the Sierra. When I flew back to Cali this past weekend, it was VERY noticeable how dry our winter has been. I saw large stretches of the Sierra bare when they should have been covered in snow. This storm is helping, even if it's just a little.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Monday, February 19, 2007
The Starbucks Experience, by Joseph A. Michelli
Offered some interesting perspectives on how Starbucks' corporate values could be translated into other organizations. Author is definitely a Starbucks fan, perhaps to a fault. But still had good ideas about why Starbucks is a valued "third place" in our culture. Lotta ideas that could be applied in church settings, especially for front-line ministries like greeters, ushers, grounds, etc.
The Gospel According to Starbucks, by Leonard Sweet
Takes the idea of Starbucks' popularity and appeal, and finds some spiritual application. Sweet focuses around the EPIC concept: that Starbucks is experiential, participatory, image-rich and connecting. Sweet isn't a gushy fan of S'bucks in the way Michelli is, but he recognizes the social and cultural impact the corporation has, and he makes a good argument for how Christians can live EPIC lives. Seems like a great book for small groups, or for front-line ministries.
Second-Guessing God, by Brian Jones
Wasn't sure how good this would be when I bought it, but I read it in a span of just about 3 days. Jones tackles some intense topics that Christians face. He doesn't shy away from addressing the challenges -- things like feeling distant from God and wonder where He is and what He's doing -- but he also doesn't offer cheap, simple, easy answers. Wrestling with these issues is part of the Christian experience.
The Rock That is Higher, by Madeleine L'Engle
Great book. Not sure if I agree on every theological tenet L'Engle holds, but she's a superb writer with mature spiritual insight. The book follows her path as she recovers from a car crash back in the 1990s, and she offers her unique brand of wisdom along the way. No easy answers about what comes our way in life, but she's a good companion for the journey.
Preaching Re-Imagined, by Doug Pagitt
Wow, this book has challenged me more than almost any book I've read in the last year. Pagitt makes a rather strong case that our approach to preaching isn't really consistent with how the earliest Christian circles understood or practiced it. He makes the case for "progressional preaching," which uses the experiences, insights and understandings of the WHOLE congregational community -- not just the pastor/preacher -- to create and present sermons that are more than just memorable or cute or funny. He talks about finding ways to interact with the body of believers and battling the image that a pastor/preacher has all the answers to people's challenges. I found myself doing a LOT of thinking in recent days. Not sure if I have any real, solid, strong answers yet, but I'm thinking and praying and wondering how this whole notion could apply to our youth ministry here, and our whole church ministry.
The Three Hardest Words (in the World to Get Right), by Leonard Sweet
We're doing a Love/Relationship/Sex/Dating series all month with our youth, so I've spent time reading through love-focused books. Sweet's book proved a fast read for me: two airplane flights on Saturday. He breaks down the words "I" "love" and "you" to discover how Christ-followers need to receive a new identity, new integrity and new intimacy. Good February read!
Friday, February 16, 2007
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
We walked into the nearest convenience store. He grabbed a newspaper. He paid for it. As we're climbing into the car, we see a kid wearing shorts. The kid was probably 9 or 10. And he was wearing shorts. In the cold. As if it was no big deal.
I was in my dad's car, wearing an undershirt, long-sleeve shirt, jacket, jeans, socks, shoes, beanie and gloves -- and I was kinda cold. Not sure if I admire that kid's bravery or question his sanity. Or both.
I'm back in Iowa for a weeklong visit with my dad and stepmom. It's been snowing lightly for much of the day, and it's really pretty. And I'm glad I'm inside, where I can enjoy it behind insulated walls and windows.
Traveling here was quite an adventure Monday. Here are some highlights:
- Being able to see our church grounds from the air as my flight left Sacramento
- Seeing a layer of fresh snow covering much (but not enough) of the Sierra
- Bouncing all over O'Hare International Airport as my flight into Iowa got moved, shifted, delayed, undelayed, redelayed
- Pulling up with my dad and stepmom for dinner at a pizza place -- only to find that it had closed at 8PM; pizza places shouldn't do such things
- Walking into a nearby Mexican food restaurant and being asked, "Smoking or nonsmoking?" Wow, another reason to love California
- Having a waiter at that restaurant who used "amigos" with every interaction; got old real fast
- Feeling the cold, sharp wind when it was already 20 degrees outside
- Sleeping in this morning!
Monday, February 05, 2007
- IPod maker Apple and the manager of The Beatles' Apple Corps resolved their long-simmering dispute on Monday about who has the right to the Apple trademark.
The settlement offered greater hope to fans of George, Paul, John and Ringo that the two sides could now focus on permitting downloads of the band's music through the iPod maker's iTunes online music service. The catalog of all Beatles songs, including "Let it Be,""Get Back" and "She Loves You," is the largest holdout from iTunes and other online music services.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
I hate dealing with messy situations that I didn't create but I'm asked to resolve. I hate cleaning up my own messes created by my insensitivity or hyper-sensitivity. I hate running into people who think I've got it more together than I really do. I hate feeling the pressure to live an unbalanced life, to do things and be places I'd rather avoid, and to have the right answer for other people all the time.
Perhaps hate is too strong of a word. Today was just a tough day for me. I found myself battling emotions I haven't experienced in a long time. I found myself regretting the way I handled situations. I found myself snapping at people who don't deserve that kind of treatment (does any of us, really?). I found myself wanting to withdraw and avoid and ignore and diss.
Maybe I'm on edge because my mom gets to hear some test results Monday. She'll learn if the combo of chemo and prayer have done their work in overcoming her lymphoma cancer. I'm down here in Turlock to be with her when she gets the results in the morning. I guess I'm a bit nervous at what the doctor will say. And part of me -- the Pentecostal-Charismatic-Spiritfilled part of me -- feels some level of shame that I'm nervous.
Tonight I feel overwhelmed and underwhelmed and hyperwhelmed and angerwhelmed. I know those last two aren't really words, but I can't find the right words to explain what I'm feeling and experiencing and sensing.
I treated one of my student leaders poorly today. He and I spoke earlier, and I apologized. That felt good, to get it off my chest. We need to talk in greater depth this week, but the pastor in me wonders what I should share. When do I take off the "pastor" hat and become "Christ-follower"? Why do I feel this pressure to be more "complete" or "finished" simply because I'm a pastor? Sometimes showing my weaknesses allows me to draw closer to the people around me. And sometimes those revelations seem to become fodder and ammo in the hands of others.
Today is one of those days I hate being a pastor.