10Q10Q -- faith, life, rethinking church, following Jesus...stuff

Come join in the discussion of faith at the Koinonia Page where scripture and life intersect in conversation and exploration. Visit on Facebook, Twitter, and Dave's Web Page too! I'd welcome your company at Palmyra First United Methodist Church, where I hang out, too, come and see!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

When Life Gets Busy

It's been way too long since the last post. I get busy, distracted and whoosh there goes a month, a goal, a hope. So, I've been getting some things back in order.

A little order includes time for prayer and meditation, exercise, some attention to diet, a little less work, and a little more reflection and play. In the midst of this I've been digesting two things:
  1. Karen Armstrong's book The Case for God, which is an engaging history about philosophy, theology, religion and science as they dance together; the other is
  2. Tom Miller's CD training (published by CareerTrack) Self Discipline and Emotional Control, a systematic and fun look at Albert Ellis' basic Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy.
For me both of these are windows on God's creation and practical handles on priorities. They give me someone else's ideas and perspective to jog my soul and stir my mind.

How's it going? Thanks for asking, it's going pretty well. Not perfect, but then that wouldn't be a reasonable expectation, now, would it. The key for me is having people to help me. I have a spiritual direction relationship, my wife, other friends, and even work goals that are supporters in getting things back in order.

It's amazing how easily I wander from he good stuff. It's a gift that I have help finding my way back.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Doubts & Delights

Whether it's the dictionary or the web I get side-tracked by interesting things on my way to the goal. That's how I ended up on a Buddhist's site, an atheist's site and overhearing a few other blogged conversations.

Doubts and defensiveness caught my attention, as I read, and those same emotions sparked my own reflection. First the doubts and defensiveness of authors explaining either the errors or evils of Christianity drew my eye. (I am a Christian, but not of the TV, intolerant, sort.) Second, and more significant it was the thoughts that began to churn up in me.

I'm reminded again that doubts come with the territory of believing. Mostly, because I don't have all the answers, or the perfect explanations, nor am I even interested in that most of the time. I follow Jesus because it's the absolute best path I know.

I'm not here to undo your path. I'm here to be honest about mine. I think it has a lot to offer. I know that if you scrutinize my mistakes or the mistakes of others who have walked as followers of the Way, that any skilled rhetorician, philosopher, or mean-spirited critic can find fault. But, I'm not looking for fault (I hope I'm not). I am looking for light, hope, love...a powerful way to live.

So on with the doubts and the foibles and the conversations. Doubts sharpen understanding. Foibles sharpen graciousness. Conversations done well deepen trusting relationships.

Join me. What conversation would you like to have with someone who's willing to listen, devoid of all the answers, and interested in what you think?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Trying Something New

I tried something new this week.

As a preacher, I'm accustomed to listening for a preaching direction in the quiet of my study. Then, the pattern continues, following God's lead, and delivering the end result as a monologue (or dialogue with a silent partner on a good week). This week there were too many ideas to fit into one message. I was sure of the theme, the possibilities, but not the focus.

It was then that it hit me (God, the Holy Spirit, a good idea, frame it as you wish), why not invite the congregation to notice what's in the scripture story and invite them to ask questions? (Instead of me imagining the questions and needs, and simply speaking to them.)

I could only think of one good reason not to do it...besides my apprehension. That's not how I was taught to prepare a sermon! But that's just what I did.

First, I wrestled with my own insecurities about doing something new. Then, I reflected on the practicalities of this unfamiliar event. Finally, I did it.

I was amazed at the holy conversation that took place right there in worship. God showed up!

I'm never surprised that God does good stuff or that God is always doing things in worship, or that God always shows up on time. I do have to fight the demons that whisper in my ear that someone will be unhappy, or that "this is crazy...this will never work."

It did work. People were engaged, inspired, and energized in fresh ways. They said so. They emailed so. They showed it with their questions, their eyes and their words.

God is always doing something new. I wonder what it will be tomorrow? I hope I notice and decide to join in. It's always good.

How about you? What have you tried new and different lately? What did God do in the middle of the adventure?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Be Still

A rainbow arced across the dark clouds above the sunrise this morning. My wife pointed it out to me. I could have missed it. Ah, such a beautiful start to the day. So often I start with a sprint or a jolt, or, sad to say, a groan. But today began with a moment of beauty and stillness.

"Be still" prompts the Psalmist (Psalm 46:10). Then the 1974 pop tune by Mac Davis gave us "Stop and smell the roses." Counselors, self help gurus, and friends also echo the wisdom of our Designer, saying "slow down", "take it easy", "one thing at a time." All that counsel and help you'd think we'd be a culture of contemplatives, but not so.

Today I'm going to try to take this wisdom to heart. A little stillness. Some attentiveness to the gifts of life. A few deep breaths and a sticky note to remind myself to "be still," allowing others to help me make space for life.

So how do you keep space and sanity in your life?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Finding Confidence

I'm energetic, optimistic and joyful as a rule. I'm also introspective and prone to over-thinking. So, some days, I have to go looking for my confidence. I can cloud my joy by taking people more seriously than God (usually fueled by the over-thinking thing).

Good news is that with my propensities, I don't get over-confident, at least not for long, nor do I get gloomy for long stretches. I do go up and down. I'm finding that experience and time is helping to modify this inner thrill ride, but I haven't left the emotional amusement park altogether.

I'm noting this here because we all have our stuff. I find that fact strangely comforting, that I'm not alone in my humanity. I was reading a bible story (Luke 24:36-48) and noticing that even the disciples, with three years personal coaching from the Master under their belt, had disheartening and confusing stuff. The rest of the story is that God knows, and offers them coaching, along with some potent promise, to move through the stuff of life.

That's all. Life's got stuff. God's got bigger good stuff. Paying attention to that works for me. Life's an adventure. Let's go live it together, you, me, and God.

Monday, April 20, 2009

When Stuff Doesn't Fit

I sometimes feel a bit odd. (No affirmations of oddness please.) I feel different from others. Perhaps that's just my ego trying to stand out, but I think there's more. I believe that people make choices based on values and that I don't always understand their values.

For instance: I go to church, before and after Easter, because it's part of my relationship with God. I value a relationship that has continuity. I don't get how people around me can say they come to church, because it's part of their relationship with God, and then just stop coming after Easter, or disappear for the summer.

I trust that if I could fully understand each person's values, heart and thinking, it would make more sense to me. Right now I don't understand and I have trouble making sense of it all.

That's not the only place I feel odd. I feel odd when I value following through on my word, while so many seem to value an "end justifies the means" kind of dismissive efficiency.

I feel different when I set boundaries for what I will and won't do, while those around me seem to lean toward either trying to be all things to everyone (nurturing to the point of exhaustion, if not wishy-washiness), or not much to anyone (self-contained, isolated, if not selfish).

I wonder if I'm a part of a minority when I believe that love is more important than money and that God is bigger than any challenge I face: those around me act in ways that, appear to me as, putting money highest, in stuff and status; many seem to value practicality and perceived reality as far more sensible that claiming an ancient-present truth of interdependence, including an intrinsic need for the Holy.

Deep down I know I'm both unique and also remarkably similar to those around me. I understand that the mysteries of life unfold one day and one relationship at a time. I simply want to better understand those around me. I basically want to act with both a deeper respect of each person I meet, and a greater courage to challenge any of growing values to the fullness of life, wholeness and joy that God makes available. I want others to experience what I experience and more. (It's not important to me that the experience matches my own, but that the experience offers meaning, hope, love, peace, and joy.)

So how do you fit in? Where do you feel out of place? What would you tell me to help me understand? I'm ready to listen. Perhaps, we're all a little odd and a bit the same. I'll know better when I hear more from you.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easter is Messy!

A friend died this week. He was a genuine man with a servant's heart and a playful spirit. His faith and spirit together truly made him a gift. His loss leaves a hole. His departure got me to thinking...Easter is messy.

How inconvenient to have him die! No one asked me if I was ready, or if the calendar would permit, or...well no one asked me. Yet, there it is. Life...and death happen. People die and so do things like dreams, expectations, ideas, friendships, hopes, projects, pets, and more. It stinks when they go. It hurts. It tweaks the world like looking through a soda bottle, nothing looks right.

Then Easter comes--God gently and purposefully shows up. New life, hope in the midst of loss, fresh starts, and all those things that I believe and hold close. What I think is that in the mess and the hurt and the loss and the stinky stuff, God is able to do important work. I miss noticing lots of it God does, but once in a while I see something. That's a gift.

Easter is messy. I'm glad. If it were too neat and tidy, too clean and clear, too removed from the muddle of life, then I'm not sure I'd really know about the gift. Or maybe without the mess, I simply wouldn't accept the gift.

I can't say for sure, but I'm glad for the gift in the mess. I'm glad for some God stuff that acknowledges my stuff. I'm just plain glad...not because my friend is gone, or that anything else is gone, for that matter, but that God is audacious enough to get into my mess and set up shop right at ground zero.

So for now, I'll grieve and celebrate; I'll receive the richness of knowing my friend and wonder how to fill the hole; I'll experience death and life together and know that in the mix there is good and God.

May the blessings and the mess of Easter come alive for you, bringing hope, life and indeed joy.

10,000 Joys in Jesus

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Things Change!

I received a You Tube video on the exponential pace of change in life. (see it ) It ends with the question, "So what does it all mean?"

I don't figure I have the complete answer to that question. I do know that having a mission, a focus, a purpose, in life helps put that question in perspective. That life grounding reality has never changed.

Today I was reading a story about Jesus (Mark 10:35-45) that reinforced experience--life's not easy. That said, there's a counter-balance. It's name is purpose, or focus, or a mission. That, along with some help that's bigger than we are, can carry us through.

Here's my take on this story, my paraphrase, my thoughts...

Two students of The Teacher, James and John, ask for reserved seats of prestige and recognition. Jesus, asks, "are you willing to go through the tough stuff with me?"

They both say "yes!"

The Teacher, Jesus, replies, "Good! I can't promise you the recognition, but I can promise change and tough stuff."

Ain't that the truth! We can count on challenges with everything that changes.

Change...it's always been around. Foraging to stone tools, wood to iron, knives to guns, walking to space travel, typewriters to laptops...and that doesn't begin to get into relationships (now, relationships, there's a place of some changes!)

I don't think it will stop and that's OK! Things change. God doesn't change...purpose, mission, focus will craft a way through the growing, living landscape of change. Living Love (Think Love of God, love of neighbor and love of self--Matthew 22:36-40) is a dependable way, the way of The Teacher.

I can't speak for you, but I'm curious about what's next, even as I shy from change. I'm willing to play and create in the gifts of each new day, after I focus on the mission, the path, the way. I'm confident that with my purpose, with Living Love, and with the Way of The Teacher. All shall be well. No, better than well...exciting, joyous, adventurous!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Thanks--It's a way of living!

1Q, 2Q, 3Q, 4Q, 5Q, 6Q, 7Q, 8Q, 9Q, 10Q...."You're welcome!"

So goes an old joke. It reminds me to live a life of gratitude. So I put it on my license plate to remind me to live with a sense of thanks.

I've learned that everyday holds reasons for thanks...gifts...blessings...good stuff...all I need to do is pay attention and choose to say "Thanks."

I'm not alone. Authors of ancient prayer practices saw this. My mentors saw this. I've read it in psychology and business writings. It seems to bubble up everywhere. Gratitude is a powerful way to live. Most of all I've experienced it for myself. I'm healthier, more relaxed, happier, and nicer to be around when I'm looking for what is good and what is God. I'm better off when I'm thankful.

How about you?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Koinonia Online

I'm new to the world of blogging and old to the quest to share that which is good & God. Welcome to an experiment in sharing the journey of faith and life.

My hope is to share some thoughts that shape faith and life for me. My desire is to hear what you are thinking as well. My desire is that then we can have a conversation that creates new possibilities.

My community at Palmyra First UMC is exploring Koinonia--Communion with God in Community, this Lent. One-hundred and one of us are experiencing small groups, "Koinonia Groups" as a part of this experiment of experience. Our study is built on the foundations of worship and sermons that are inspired first from the truths of scripture, and secondly from Dirty Word by Jim Walker (Discipleship Resources). We're mixing fun and faith...how cool is that?

What are you experiencing of the holy, the good, of God?

10,000 Joys in Christ
Dave Harris