LIFE Nuggets

The purpose of this blog is Essentially to Chronicle our personal faith journey and that of a place that we call LIFE House West. Why Life Nuggets? Because Nuggets bring to mind a sense of fun and enjoyment, show me a child who is sad when they get to eat chicken nuggets..... Things like life, and following Jesus should be fun and we want to explore those things in a light hearted and fun way, so please, enjoy...

Location: Hagerstown, Maryland, United States

30 years old, married, Father of four children (2 boys, 2 girls) 2 cats and 3 dogs (black lab, english bulldog, and pug)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Back Home

I am now back from New York City. Actually, I got back last week, but I got so busy that I did not get the chance to sit and put down any thoughts. Now I find myself sitting in the meeting hall here on Salem Ave. and in the quite of the day, before any construction begins, I wanted to just take a few moments and journal some thoughts that I took from the conference that I attended.

First, I thought that the information I received was great practical stuff. It was delivered in an excellent format which, while there was product to buy, did not feel like a commercial. Second, the time with the other church planters that I went with was great. It is cool to know that I am not alone in the struggles that I face. Sitting in a room with men and women who have to different degrees been through the same stuff in really cool. There is a certain sense of brotherhood that you cannot help but feel.

Third, and most important, was the sense of seriousness I walked away from the conference with. As I listened to the speakers, my mind went to the group of people that want to call LIFEhouse West their home. They want to be a part of the launch team that is planting this church. I guess the part that struck me is that I now have a "flock". I know that is a silly church word, but it applies. God has given me a group of people that I am responsible for. That is neither bad nor sacry. It is good, in fact, it is a very humbling, marvelous, and beautiful thing. to take a group of people and work to see them grow in their relationship with God, to spiritually father (or mother in my wife's case) others is an honor that we do not deserve. I am grateful for the opportunity that has been afforded to Cindy and I.

Another sense that I get is that for me, the challenge is to always make sure that my life lines up. That what I tell others to do, I am doing. The "call" of God, if I use that term for a moment, to vocational ministry is very serious. I think that sometimes people think that it is just going to lunches, counseling, and sitting with other pastors and goofing off. Everyone forgets that you have to deal with people in some of the hardest (and yes joyful also) circumstances that they face. At that moment, whatever things you say or do, ring hollow if your life is not lived with integrity. Now this is not meant to be a pitty me statement, I cannot imagine myself doing anything other than what God has me doing. I love it.

What I am trying to say, is that for me, I feel a strong sense that I live under a microscope and I also live my life for the betterment of others. The call to serve means a life of inconvienence. A life of sacrifice. There may be other paths along the way which seem easier as this call is processed, they must be avoided. They lead to a weakening of our testimony to others. Part of this call is more of God dealing with my junk than it sometimes is God using me to deal with other people's junk. I have to be willing to, with God's help root out anything that keeps me from not confronting my issued and working to be a better follower of Jesus. What a strange and yet wonderful journey God is taking me on. I trust that as you read my random musing, that you too are compelled to look inside and see what God wants to change. Let him do what he does and enjoy the process.


Monday, January 22, 2007

New York!

Man I am in New York City right now bringing you a very tired update. Briefly, everything is great so far. Good conference and great food tonight at a place called Carmines. I will blog more when I get back home. It is terrible. I am already homesick, and waiting for a call from my wife. I miss her and the kids. More soon.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Jesus and Bono

Once again welcome back to LIFE Nuggets! I was working last night in the building on Salem Avenue and I found myself removing nails from old flooring. The nails were old and rather rusty. They were hard to see on a black subfloor. I had to laugh when as I ran my gloved hands over the floor looking for nails, that U2 was playing and Bono was singing "I still haven't found what I'm looking for." It was kind of a humurous moment. Maybe it is just being alone in the building and singing to myself at a time like that which makes it funny, in any event, I laughed.

Then it got me thinking. Alot of people listen to the lyrics of that song and condemn it as blasphemy. I used to unitl I began to think about it. The lyrics of the last verse speak of a relationship or a spiritual encounter with Christ. Then the chorus again plays. Many people have said that it means that the sacrifice of Jesus was not enough and that Bono is saying that he has not found what will bring him fulfillment. As a kid I can remember people in Sunday schools roundly condemning the evils of secular music and the messages that it preaches. I had to watch a video on that kind of stuff once. It had that strange, kind of evil music playing in the background as the narrator spoke of the evil in these songs. Now, I do have a problem with alot of modern secular music, one because of the message, and two because alot of it has little or no originality, I find it hard to get into alot of modern, or should I say, popular music. We need to make sure that we are filling our minds with good stuff, and I think that I can safely say that "Smack Dat" is not going to be a church anthem anytime soon.

But back to this U2 song. It raises an interesting observation. It almost seems like we can somtimes rely on a past experience to keep us going. Now, let me be clear, I do not think that Jesus has to die for us every day, nor do I think that this idea cheapens what our Lord did for us. Rather, I understand that because God is living and active, I cannot just float through life and not pursue him. Once we begin our relationship with Jesus, we become followers. Sometimes I think that as we pursue the presence of God and what he has that we sometimes forget him.

Perhaps that is what Bono is talking about. I don't know, I may be totally off on the interpretation of the song. Paul talks about pressing onward to the goal of the high calling of Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14). I am reminded of that when I listen to this song. That through all that I have come through, the journey is not over. God is not finished with me , I am not a hopeless case, but rather what Jesus did for me started a journey, it changed the music and rythem of my life and now I am looking for him. To spend time with him every day, to find him in the ordinary things of life, to give him to others, and some day to spend my eternity with him. That journey is new every day and on this side of life I cannot wear it out, nor can I complete the process. God will do that. In eternity, I will find what I am looking for. Till then, perhaps there is some credence to the song. Just a thought.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Categories Versus Lifestyles

I have been thinking a great deal lately about religion. Imagine that huh? What I have been thinking about is an amazing parallel that we can see in our culture and that in which Jesus lived. I have for this illustration set out three religious sects that we can find in the culture that Jesus lived in.....

First is the Sadducees. They were the uppercrust. They were small in number and held more power than what they should have. They had a big problem with the supernatural. For them if it was not in the first five books of the Bible it was not true. This life and moral code was all there was. Second is the Pharisees. These guys were cool with the supernatural, but they were big into external righteousness. It was about what you looked like on the outside. Third are the Essenes. These guys just decided to leave society and form a community of their own and if anybody wanted to get in, then they had to become just like them. They were the only ones who would "make it" and the rest would burn when the end came.

In short, that is a brief and probably somewhat barbaric description of these groups but it serves for the illustration. These groups, I think, represent three different types of people that consider themselves "Christian" today. We have people who while claiming to be followers of Jesus, deny the supernatural aspects of his life and reduce it only to moral teachings. We also have those who are ok with the supernatural, but add so many external rules that it chokes out relationship with God and replaces it with tradition. We also have people who would rather only hang out with people like themselves and just sit around waiting for the rest of the world to burn, living under the assumption that only their group is going to make it.

Here is my point. I find it interesting that Jesus did not belong to any of these groups. In fact, he made the Pharisees and Sadducees mad. The Essenes, were probably too busy with their own stuff to bother with Jesus. He did not fit into their box. I think about this alot because I feel strongly that we have reduced following Jesus to these types of categories.

Jesus did not come and fit into a category, he came to show us a different way to live. I think that part of the field manual for that is Matthew 5-7. It gives us a picture of what life can look like when we really live for Jesus and not reduce him to a category. This type of radical, yet profoundly simple faith is what we can recover. It is part of what LIFEhouse West is about and what we should all, as followers of Jesus, be about. We must understand that God is active and that he sent us his son to die for us and restore us to right reltionship with him. In the midst of that Jesus also showed us a way to live here that we can model and follow. This to me is part of the "now and future" aspect of the Kingdom of God that we can be a part of in Christ. We do not have to limit our lives to external righteousness or hiding away. Moral codes are great, but take away the reality of life after this and you have rules and that is it. We can actually walk through this world like Jesus did and see real change as we wait for the future Kingdom of God to come where we can enjoy eternity with God.

What a journey that we get to take, what an adventure, I am going, wanna come?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Sunday Night

Man Sunday night was great! We relocated the LIFE Group that was meeting in my house into the building on Salem Avenue and we had a great time. It was great to see all the people, watch them connect, and see the dream that is LHW take another step to becoming a reality. What a picture!

It is cool to finally see all the work beginning to pay off. 48 people counting adults and children is not a bad start. God willing we will continue to grow and see more of the dream become reality. Relationships were formed and it was fun to watch. I shared the vision and mission of LHW and it was great to see buy in and acceptance of what I believe that God has spoken to me in this regard.

On Thursday, a new devotional LIFE nuggett to digest.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Finally Back

Hello and greetings again from LIFE Nuggets. I have returned from an extended Christmas vacation and some much appreciated time off. Christmas went well, in all honesty this was one of the best times that I have has at Christmas in a while. It seems that as you get older that Christmas, the holiday season, or whatever you want to call it, just goes so fast. It seems like it has lost some of the fun. Perhaps that it part of growing up.

I decided to do things different this year. I made the decision to spend as much time with family as possible and I must confess that it was wonderful. Taking the time to slow down every once in a while is the lesson that I took from that time.

Now that we are back I will bring another Nugget later in the week.