Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Emerging church = deeper, more substantial, quality relationship?

I'm not so sure anymore right now. Despite a few holdouts, people are still people, no matter what tag you pin to thing....it's just the same ole donky sometimes.

We talk a great game relationally, but we inevitably get pulled elsewhere. By the time we are called to investigate how serious we were back when, are we finding we were really as serious as we thought we were? So much time is lost contemplating...wavering...we don't quite ascertain what we do to flounder our contingent faithful.

Are we being inwardly changed/transformed in all of this ourselves, or are we still flailing in our strength, pounding away on things, trying to issue a massive pump-knot on the noggin of our circumstances?

It starts off good and all....moving from one stage of loneliness and longing and finding others in comparable boats. And some of the vessels were welcome sights....appearing as mighty, tall-masted ships on the horizon bringing comrades-in-arms. So you tie off to one another and continue the voyage, floating to who really knows where, but it's okay, because you're all together, believing the Captain has formed the armada.

But the sea roils, boils and upends, testing our seaworthiness. Some are tragically inundated. Some of us have walked and are perched on planks of our own handiwork, daring the next swell to do its thing. Nicer ships entice to mutinous proportions as well. Some of have cut rope and drift along. Some have to have unbelieveably long tethers and can barely see the fleet.

All around me, my ministry peers that I treasure more than anything....the people I've journeyed with and for whom I'd die to bring up in this way of life....effort has tended to be less than half-and-half (myself included). But I KNOW....this is life. And I KNOW I can't see/know everything. And I KNOW I'm weak, wounded and need sharpened and this vainly skews my perspective. But maybe I just don't really know HOW yet.

The loss-to-gain ratio is puzzling because you can never get a grasp on how things currently "are" with ministry, with your leadership, your people, your friends. Most of the time the encumbrances are daunting and feel mightier than the advances, and the damnedest thing is that I might be the problem most of the time. If I were better than- more than- what I am now, how much more so would those around me be?

I am a relational mutt and I err in holding on too tightly because the pervasive feeling that I've lost so liberally. Early in my life, the security of relational boundaries were muddied profusely and often and when I came to the One Who'll never leave nor forsake, well, I tumbled headlong. So I thrive on the security apparent and possible (but not always manifested) within brothers and sisters in Christ when they say, "here am I." So I guess I just don't do well when these relationships are tenously unclear. It's risk, risk, risk...pure risk, and my weaknesses are not as safe as they once were.

Neither being the spokesman nor the paragon of healthy, consistent relational modeling, suffice it to say, this is why this is hard sometimes. For me at least.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

What Do You Do With This?

After a refreshing conversation with CMarsh Thursday at our usual haunt, Barnes and Noble, I received a phone call from my mother. It was one I could have never even dreamed up myself in a million years.

She informed me that my Aunt Pam (her sister) had been diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and has about 47% lung capacity at present. I just buried my Great Aunt Juanita back in July from this disease.

"The doctor said hopefully about 5-8 years left....."

My mother's voice trailed off in my head a bit. Then I heard the word, "Germany."

My cousin is a supply sergeant and had been in the Iraqi theater recently and isstationed in Germany. Mom said Aunt Pam was going to move there to be with her daughter. She didn't say so, but she's probably going there to live the rest of her life.

"Glenn.....I'm going too."

I'm still wondering what to feel about all of it. Frustration, futility in the face of age/demise/impending death, abandonment, bewildered.....calm and assurance. I sort of childishly and selfishly thought, ...for the first time in my life, I won't have physical access to my mother.... I just can't "up" and go see her. But even more, will I see my Aunt Pam again on this side? I just wasn't prepared for the dynamics of such an adjustment....and so quickly. My aunt is flying out next Thursday and my mother to follow not long after. I'm sure we'll try to unite before the move, and that I'm missing the finer points and all, but it sure is a gnarly situation to sift through.

I talked to my Aunt Pam last night. She's by no means on her deathbed and is full of much more life. We talked about now how she has the blessing of knowing that she can choose to really, REALLY live each day in its fulness. To me, that was somewhat of a blessing, in the truest sense of the word.

It seems to be the right thing to do, given the circumstances. In that way, I'm okay with it. They have each other now and they don't want to take anything for granted, to miss out on what they HAD taken for granted. None of their family remains in Knoxville anymore. Grandparents, parents, brothers, aunts, uncles...either passed away or moved. And that is a foreign thing to grasp because so much of my formative years were there.

So they should go. I bless it to be. I don't want it...with all of my heart I don't want any part of what this situation is all about. And I remember my own sense of abandonment I lugged around. But Jesus touched that a few years ago. He covered that part of me and that healing spreads over even now, so that I can say, "go...live....love" and know that it isn't about me. There's calm and peace there. Besides, I love my mother and Aunt Pam and my cousin too much.

I just long for the lost years sometimes.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

In the earlier days of my faith (ca., 1985-ish), I used to be offended by this bumper sticker ("Jesus Caves") sold by Bob&Bob, a caving equipment supplier.

Now, there is something different about it that registers amusing....with the high-falootin' font and all.

But it's true now. Jesus, in effect, does go caving with me. He is present with my brothers and sisters in Christ when we are underground. He is present in the beauty of his unique, physical handiwork there too.

So, yeah, kinda having a hankerin' for the underground right now.

GOOFY, KIDDISH THING TO BE THANKFUL FOR TODAY: Jesus made the earth the way it was so that caves were possible. He's made is so I can go in them too.

Friday, September 08, 2006

CELLCHOSIS: The Oblivious Plight of the Typical Miami Student

I am a hero. Everyday, I rise to that status. Everyday.

Okay, in my heart, I'm a hero.

But everyday, I bring my bus to a stop somewhere just safely short of a completely oblivious student in the middle of the street, hanging onto some conversation being mediated through a cell phone on the other side of their head.

I watch them try and converse while just trying to get home or get to class or get across the street. Their attention retreats (you can see it in their eyes); their gait becomes slowed, if not cumbersome and zombie-like. They miss their stops on the bus because of the cell phone and they want to blame me for their having missed it.

-Sorry- I don't stop at every stop unless someone wants it.

-Well, you were on the phone when we passed it....

And so on....

Cell phone firmly placed to the ear, they forget the concept of right-of-way at a four way stop, yet I/we lurch to a stop to keep them from hitting us. They keep talking.

There is something a tidbit mind-altering when you are on the phone, engaged in conversation. There is a slight mesmerization and an affectation of the faculties necessary for survival in an urban environment. I call this induced state of mind, cellchosis. Cellchosis is the state of dulled perception and motor function enveloping the user while in the midst of a cell phone conversation. A person is said to be cellchotic when they are standing out in the middle of the street talking on the phone with a 40-foot long 36,000 lb bus only feet away from them- that after having screeched to a halt, preserving their lives and their conversations. Then they glare at you and complete their jaywalk. That is cellchotic.

It's a willful condition by virtue of the fact no one is being coerced to hold the device to their head. The prevalence of these devices are going to collude with some calamitous events one day, I'm afraid, resulting in something bad, like a pedestrian vs. a car, or a bus. We've had those, but I am flabbergasted that it hasn't happened more, or that more serious injury hasn't occurred.

We need to outfit collegiate cell phone consumers with GPS monitoring systems that communicate with a vehicle's speed, distance and approach rate so that it would trip a pre-recorded, deafening message to the phone holder to retreat in no uncertain terms. Perhaps, once cellular devices become seamlessly implanted into our tympanic membranes, I'll have my wish. I'll probably be out of a job by that point in our technological prowess though.

Till then, I'll just be a hero.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Installment 2
Not a novel idea, but I have my own visual sensibilities about the poor souls, who for some reason or another, were split asunder at birth. Perhaps their progenitors, beholding their monstronsities, couldn't fathom a world without my filial matchmaking acumen, which I am always on ready to do.

How about a Derren Brown caricature of quintessentially astute actor-for-the-ages Sir Anthony Hopkins......and, Gollum, quintessentially destitute sad sack of Lord of the Rings fame?