Wednesday, June 30, 2004


I drove home tonight from Link Group terribly frustrated. As I turned my radio off and began to pray, I asked God to show me where my frustration was stemming from. I am really not sure where it is coming from. But I know I am frustrated and that something just isn't right.

After Link Group tonight I voiced my frustration with the prayer time we had earlier that evening. It was the wrong thing to say and the wrong time to say it. I should have kept my big mouth shut and talked things over with Dave Reichley and Jenn later about the way Link Group went. I should have done it in private and in a more calm way than I did it. But it just came blurting out of my mouth. I think that my frustration with the prayer time was just a small piece of my overall frustration.

As I talked to Dave about it later that night, he listened as I tried to think out loud about where this frustration is coming from. I think part of it is not being known. People at Horizon really don't know me. They don't know my gifts and they don't know my personality. So it is tough to come in and immediately be "on staff" while people are still in the process of getting to know me. And I am definitely still trying to get to know people here at Horizon. There isn't anyone here I know really well. But some I do know a little.

I guess I just haven't been myself since I have gotten back from seminary. I haven't gotten to use my gifts for ministry. I haven't gotten to really find my place and just be me. I think that is because so much of me was reflected in my good friends back in Texas. With them not around, it is hard to truly show people who I am and have them understand.

Other frustrations are my desires to see stuff change at Horizon. I haven't been here long enough to really have a voice in things. I have been allowed to work on our Horizon brochure and the Creative team. I have helped to create the look and feel of various Sunday mornings and I have helped to articulate what the vision is at Horizon. All of this behind the scenes stuff is great, but no one but the leaders I work with know that I am involved in it. As far as most of the church is concerned, they barely know I am even here.

I want to step up and lead A.S.A.P. But my leadership style tends to be dominant. What I mean is that I want to lead, but at the same time I don't want to step on toes. I want to voice my ideas. But right now my ideas aren't worth as much weight as other people's ideas. So sometimes I just bite my tongue and let others get their say in.

I guess some of my frustration is that I am going through a period where I am "earning my stripes" so to say. And that can be annoying. I feel like I have been "earning my stripes" for the last 7 years in school only to find myself starting over again here at Horizon. I guess it might be a respect thing. My friends back in seminary knew me better. They new the books I have read, the sermons I have preached, the endless conversations we have had, the fun times we have shared and the solid trust that we built. They knew all of these things, and because of them they had a good bit of respect for who I am.
Starting over at Horizon means having to "earn" that respect all over again. It means that the respect I have enjoyed for the last three years has vanished and, in the eyes of Horizon, I start at ground zero. Not a fun place to be.

So while I am guessing that these things are the source of my frustration, I am still not really sure. I don't have a good handle on it right now. I am praying that God will help me narrow it down a bit. I do know that I haven't felt fully myself just yet. Horizon hasn't seen me be me 100%. I haven't given all I have to give. But hopefully, that will change in time.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

nothing much

I have to be honest. As of late I have had little of importance to say. I am dry as far as blogging goes. I am not sure why that is. In seminary I could have blogged for days. And sometimes I did. But now, even though I am reading, I can't seem to find words important enough to blog about.

I could talk about my day. But that would bore even me. I guess in seminary I was being intellectually challenged on a daily basis. So after a few days of fueling up, I would have something to blog about. I guess now that I think about it, I do have stuff to blog about. My mind is still twisting with the questions of romance and love. But I have already blogged about this. Theologically my mind is wondering about the sacramental tradition of the Christian faith. But I haven't gathered enough information to have a good opinion on it yet. So my thoughts are deemed un-blogworthy.

I could dive into my personal life, but I am a bit nervous to do that. I am scared to tell of my latest crush or my recent fears and frustrations. I think it might be because I have a church full of people that might be reading this. So as soon as I divulge any juicy info on myself, it could be turned into instant rumor in the church. Not that people at Horizon really care. I just feel a bit limited by what I should share, not what I could share.

So until my thoughts change, I won't have anything good. Sorry.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

more on love

Love seems to be a topic people like to talk about and have their own opinions about. Because of these things and because I am reading a book that has a romantic sub-plot, I will continue the adventure into the conversation on love.

The book I am reading is called the Alchemist. A young shepherd boy from Spain goes on an adventure to find treasure near the Pyramids of Egypt. While on the journey he finds love in the form of a bedouin girl who lives in an oasis village. All along his journey he tries to read the omens that will direct his path. His confidence in these omens rests in the belief that they come from God.

This all got me thinking a bit more about love. I wonder about the love of God. God is a good place to start when discussing love, I have found. He is the source of all of our love. He is love. So why does God love us? Does he have a good reason? Well, we are his creation. I seem to like things that I create. I might even love something I create that is of great value. So I could rest my hat on the idea that God loves us because we are his creation, his children.

Growing up protestant, I have been bludgeoned with the truth that we can not earn God's love. No action of my own will make God love me any more or less,... so I have been told. But I have never really heard anyone venture into explaining the love of God. Sure it is unexplainable, just as God is. But there are some things we can know of God, so there must be some things we can know of his love.

In the Alchemist, the shepherd boy's lover tells him this just before he leaves the oasis, "One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving." It got me thinking about reasons for loving. Did God have a good reason to love us? It seems that he did. We are his creation. And yet, it is possible for me to not love that which I create. Many parents neglect their kids. Many artists hate their own work. So its possible for us, as co-creators with God, to not love our own creations. Is it possible that God could have not loved his own creation? Not likely. God is love. But for me it opens the door for the possibility that God loves us for no reason at all. We certainly give him reasons not to love us. Our continuous sin should be more than enough reason not to love us. Yet he does.

If anyone could love without reason it is God. We frail humans need reasons to love. Even if those reasons don't come from the person in which we are loving, we are still called to love because God first loved us. That is our primary reason for loving everyone. We love them because God loves them and loves us. So we have a reason. And a really good reason to love. But God certainly didn't command us to love romantically. So where does this come from?

We see images in scripture of God and Israel and Christ and the church playing out this romantic love relationship. We learn from Genesis that it is not good for man to be alone. We learn from Paul that if you can avoid getting married then stay single. We learn from the Gospels not to divorce and from Hebrews that the marriage bed should be kept pure. Clearly God loves marriage. He loves its covenant, its sacrifice, its romance, and its daily serving of one another. He loves the picture of two becoming one. Its as if Christ was the sex act of God where two became one,...that is humanity and divinity.

So we have reason to love people. God loves all people. But do we have reason for romance? Reason probably isn't a great word to use here. Romance seems to fit more in the category of which the young lover spoke. "One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving." Loving romantically seems to manifest itself in action and doing rather than analyzing, in sensing rather than knowing, in thoughtfulness rather than thinking. And this is why it retains its mystery.

Mystery is grasping at water. It is experienced but cannot be fully contained. Why do we keep asking people "How do you know..." questions about being in love? Love hovers in the places of poetry, not prose. Knowledge seems too cold, too "hospital", too Starbucks for love. Yet love seems to dance in Common Grounds. It seems to nap on old couches that sink down and envelop you.

So I don't know much about love. But I guess its less about knowing love than feeling love. Its less about a reason to love and more about a person to love. And I don't have a person to love romantically, but I guess I will one day. In the mean time, I will do my best to enjoy those in love around me.

Monday, June 14, 2004

profound paradox

What a mystery is this thing of love. The more I meet and hang around married people and the more weddings I attend, the more mysterious this whole idea of love has become. I know more and more people that have no business being together. Why in the heck to some of these people get and stay married?

What was it that caused the ultimate decision to love or to get married? Why did they choose that person over all the rest? Christina and I had a great conversation about this today. What in the world are people thinking when they decide to get married and spend the rest of their lives with that one person? It's so bizarre.

Most of these people wouldn't really be friends if they weren't married. What I mean is that, separated, erased of all memory and thrown back together as singles in a crowd, I wonder if all these married couples would decided to marry each other again. Each husband and wife seem to be so different. Communication styles are different. Interests are different. Ministry goals and ideas are different. How in the heck did these people fall in love?

Half of people's married life is spent bickering and disagreeing. And those are the good marriages. And I just can't believe these people got together for the sex. I heard one guy say that getting married for sex is like buying a jumbo jet for the little bags of peanuts. So there must be some other mysterious reason why two decide to become one.

Paul, at the end of Ephesians 5, lays out what I understand to be a biblical model of mutual submission in marriage. Then at the end he quotes Genesis 2:24 about two people becoming one flesh. He then says this, "This is a profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the church." (v.32). I think Paul does something beautiful here. He taps in to the profound mystery of love. He uses this unexplainable phenomenon of marriage as an illustration of how mysterious Christ's relationship is to the Church.

How does one go about explaining how we are all the body of Christ as we worship Christ? How does one explain that we are called to be like Christ and be united with Christ? How does one explain that we as the Church are the present incarnation of Christ and that His Spirit apparently dwells in and among us? All the while trying to grasp that Christ Himself was both fully human and fully divine, both the Son of God and "God with us"? These are mysterious realities. And the closest mystery with the same sort of profundity is the paradox of marriage. The only illustration or word picture that can even come close to the likeness of the mystery Christ and the Church is the mystery of romantic love and commitment.

This is both frustrating and encouraging. This truth reminds me that my attempts to figure out intimate love will fall as short as my attempts to understand the mystery of Christ. And yet, I am hopeful because of the beauty that is generated from this profound paradox.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

an apology of Horizon Church

Horizon church, the church I now work with, has been taking some heat lately. It seems like every other conversation I am in, someone is upset with the way Horizon does its "thing." I have tried to listen to all the arguments and see where they have good points. I have also attempted to defend Horizon at various levels without getting defensive.

I, more than most, have a critical eye. When I look at things I usually can spot what is wrong before I can see the good. That is just how I am wired. I have been critical of Horizon at times myself. After coming on staff here at Horizon, I still see many weaknesses. In fact, I think most people here in leadership are not under any illusion that Horizon is without flaws. Even some major weaknesses are apparent even to a visitor of the church. I would offer that the people who know the greatest weaknesses of the church are those who are infact involved the most in leadership. Especially the people who have risked their financial stability on the success and health of Horizon.

So as I listen to all the complaints, I file them away and allow my brain to process through them. I certainly agree that Horizon has holes. We are one big slice of swiss cheese. But in the end, I am often on the side of defending Horizon's approach to things. I am usually one of the people trying to articulate the vision in order to help the disgruntled member come to a better understanding of their place here in this church. Why is this?

Why would someone who has recently become very aware of all of the many weaknesses of a community, still decide to defend it? Well an easy answer is that they pay me to. But I was defending Horizon philosophies (and I would argue Kingdom principles) back in seminary before I was even a full part of the body we name Horizon. I think for me, like many of the leaders, we see something happening here that we can't dismiss with a bunch of critiques. Try as we may with all of our arguments, God is moving in the midst of this community. And He is doing so in a very unique and powerful way.

Some people get frustrated with Horizon because they are afraid of change. Others do so because they worship change and wish there was more of it at Horizon. Some want more structure, others less. Some want more teaching, others less. Some want more biblical exegesis, some just wish there was more "hanging out" time. In the end, Horizon is a community of people pursuing God together. And because people are in that equation, it is bound to be messy.

At its core, I believe Horizon church is attempting to be more like the Kingdom of God than most churches I have been apart of. Its not the music, or the cool graphics or the model of leadership that makes this thing work. Its the fact that God is allowed the freedom to move in people's lives. Its the fact that people are allowed to be honest with God and with each other. Its that love is a genuine reality that can be felt in our midst and not just a topic of bible study in 1 Corinthians.

So for all the many people who can spot our weaknesses, more power to you. I doubt you can list more than our staff can. That's the easy part. The harder part is to actually enter into the mess of this community and bring yourself to the table. The harder part is to offer yourself unselfishly to God and to His Body of believers. The harder part is to realize that I have something to learn from the person next to me who has only been a Christian for a few months... maybe more than she has to learn from me. The harder part is to love people who talk to much in Link Group. To love them so much that you will intentionally spend time with them during the week to get to know them. These, my friend, are the true parts of living in community.

I hope all of us here at Horizon can catch the vision. Its not just Dave and Clay's vision. Its not just the vision of Horizon church. Its the vision that God has for the Kingdom of God on earth. Its the vision He has for his disciples. This crazy vision to go and make disciples. This unbelievable call to consider others better than ourselves. This amazing challenge to love people and to love God with all that we are. This is the vision that Horizon is about. The Horizon language we use in which to couch this eternal vision is quite secondary.

So I will go on defending the call, purpose, vision and values of Horizon. Not because Horizon is perfect. Not because they pay me to do so. Not because I think it is a "cool" church (whatever the heck that is supposed to mean.) No, I will defend Horizon because God is in our midst doing things we cannot do on our own. Horizon has heard the call and has stepped out of the boat. We are on the water. We are half a doubt away from drowning and half a step away from a miracle. It is in this tension that we live. It is on this water that we move toward the One who makes all of this possible.

Friday, June 04, 2004

salt and pepper

I have been having some conversations lately about racism and diversity in the church. The more I think about it, the more I agree that America is not a melting pot. Sure, there seems to be some tolerance on behalf of most people. And it is true that we have a variety of cultures here. But a melting pot analogy gives an image of all cultures and sub-cultures blending into one culture. And this just doesn't seem to be the case.

Why did all the black kids sit together in the cafeteria in high school? Well, they were friends. They connected in someway that I couldn't connect with them. Not to say I didn't have black friends. I had a few friends who happened to be black. A few others that were Asian. And many that were Jewish. The strange thing was that the Jewish and nominally Christian people mixed well together. Likewise, the Asian students mixed well into the pot of mostly white people. But the black students seemed somehow to be "other than" the main culture of the school. They seemed to form their own subculture. Much like those of us who really tried to follow and submit to Christ. We too had our own subculture.

So what am I saying? I am saying that it still seems like this "melting pot" we call America is more like the fruit and vegie section of the supermarket than a mixed bunch of fandu cheeses. The races seem a bit more equal these days, but no less separate. Only, this "separate but equal" policy is not enforced by the government but by our own desire. People are staying separated by choice. Subcultures are now dividing themselves from the culture as a whole.

More and more these days we have multiple subsections of subcultures rather than one "American" culture. Sure we see blacks, hispanics, Asians and whites all working together. And we are even seeing mixed couples more and more. But how often to you see white and black folks just hanging out and having fun together. How often to you see an Asian guy, a black girl, and a white guy all hanging out at the movies?

I saw a picture of this the other day. Horizon Church people went out to play ultimate frisbee last Saturday. There was another church up at the school we went to. They called themselves The Rock Church. They were cooking out and playing softball. And there I saw a strange sight. Teenage white girls sitting around with black girls braiding hair. Black men and white men working together as teammates in the outfield. A white girl was up to bat and a crowd of black friends were cheering her on. What was this? What was this unity in the midst of diversity?

There was only one explanation. No PC campaign could create this. No liberal program could manufacture this Saturday of fun. No, this was the Kingdom of God. This church truly was acting as a sign, a foretaste of the coming Kingdom where all tongues, tribes and nations will worship together.

I could see that these people wanted to be together. They spent their free Saturday eating together and playing together. They brought their kids so they could play together as well. It wasn't a program of their church. It wasn't some "racial reconciliation" weekend. This was their daily existence. This was their reality. I was in awe. There they were, together, the salt and pepper of the Kingdom bringing flavor to the world.