Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What's Not Working and Why?

I've been reading a lot these days about how the church is dying.  I'll say up front that I don't agree.  It may be in decline...but dying?  Please.  I think that Jesus had something to say about this to Peter, the "rock of the church", when he proclaimed that "the gates of hell cannot stand against" the church that would one day thrive and flourish.  In other words, the church isn't going anywhere any time soon.  I do think that in many ways, the church is losing, or has lost, its high and lofty position in the eyes of the culture and it seems at times to refuse to budge.  To do so, in the eyes of so many, would mean the church is "selling out" or "preaching a false gospel" or is "becoming too much like the world".  As best I can remember, people said the same thing about Jesus.  I want to offer something up today and I will admit that these thoughts have been brought on by a wonderful book that I am reading called, "Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church".  I am moved to offer a few things for whoever comes across them.  They represent my observations based on my 9 years as an Episcopal priest.  If it makes one person think today, then that's a victory in my book.  The question; what do we need to think about as the church tries to navigate its way forward?

1.  People want to know what "commitment" to the faith really means:  I'm not sure that we articulate this one very well.  We tell our people to commit and to "live the Gospel" and to "give their lives over to Jesus", but we don't always explain it in a relevant way.  The ideals are there, but they don't always match up with real world experience. "Jesus said don't judge and forgive everyone for everything, tithe your income, read the bible."  Awesome.  How do the members of your church live those things out?  What if they don't?  What do your members "do" with the constant struggle of, "I know I should, or shouldn't...but..."?  Ideals are not a bad thing, but they must be realistic and they have to at least seem remotely possible.  Otherwise, all we are doing is adding to the frustration of the people in our pews who, when they take the time to think about it, realize that they are falling short.  It would be a good idea to ask, "how does a person actually do these things that Jesus calls them to do, especially when they might seem, on the surface, to be impossible?"  Too often the church gives the hard teaching and then charges its people to "go and do likewise" without any thought as to how it can be realistically done.

2.  Why should people commit to the church?  We say this all the time don't we?  "God is calling you to be committed to the church."  What does that mean?  Why is it important?  Is it the level of giving; is that what you mean?  Is it worship every week? Bible studies?  Ministry involvement?  If the answer is "yes" to all of the above, then, why?  Why is it important to commit like that?  Again, we tend to give the same canned answers.  The church tells its faithful that they are "expected" to commit as part of the "discipline" and "growth".  If they don't "support" the church then who will?  Sounds a lot like "duty"'s your "duty" and obligation" to be committed to your church.  Do you thing that resonates?  Probably not.  I'm not sure I want people in my church committed out of "duty" anyway.  I think, as pastors, we might spend some time over a cup of coffee with other pastors to talk about why the church is relevant and important in people's lives by asking...what difference are we really making in the lives of the people in our pews? Are they committed out of a love for God and a love for the people around them?  Would they answer, "because it's where I encounter God" if asked, "why are you committed to your church?"  Are their questions being answered?  Is there room for doubt?  Is real dialogue happening?  Why or why not?

3.  Is liturgy transforming people?  Being a part of a liturgical church is amazing and I love it.  It's all I have ever known.  The Eucharist is the driving force in our communal life. I wonder though, is the liturgy changing lives?  Are people, as a whole, experiencing God through the prayers we say at the table?  If we could take an anonymous poll where we could ask, "do you experience God on a regular basis through the Eucharistic prayers", what would people say?  In my denomination, the prayers have gone unchanged since 1979.  There are 6 options I can use.  There are other options available, but ultimately, most of us stick to the 6.  That's it.  Sure, I can do what we call "Rite 3" where I can be creative in the context but the end result will most likely always wind up sounding and looking something like what we already do on Sundays.  I don't know the answer here, but liturgical churches might do well to think about this one.  We've prayed the same prayers for over 30 years it time to do something...don't crucify me here...different?  Can the form of service take a different shape and sound?  Can we be, dare I say, a little more creative?

4.  It's time to live into "the church welcomes you".  Period.  I chuckle when I see churches that are militant over sexuality issues and the ordaining of women clergy, who then put out the sign, "all are welcome".  Sounds more like, "you are welcome here...unless...".  I'm not judging really.  I am just saying that when the church does this kind of thing, people can see right through it.  And they don't come back.  Ever.  There's that line we like to use...hate the sin love the sinner.  I'm thinking out loud here, but if our posture with someone walking through our doors is to identify what they are doing wrong and what we don't like about it, or worse, what God doesn't like about does the church preach that Gospel of grace?  Do we realize that those same people come to the church hoping for a sabbatical from what everyone else might think about them?  The people around Jesus could never figure out why he liked to hang out with the worst kind of people.  Maybe it's because no one else would.  Maybe that's why so many were drawn in.  All were welcome.  Jesus showed this by touching the people that were untouchable and holding the people that were living on the fringes.  Jesus didn't stand in front of people and condemn them or hate them.  He never said, "I hate your sin Mary but I love you".  If we, as leaders, spend chunks of time praying about how we can love people and welcome them, then we are living into that teaching upon which hangs all the law and the prophets.

Think about it.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lizards and stuff

It's been on my mind for years.  What is that little pink thing that sticks out of a lizard's (gecko's) neck?  I've wondered this for most of my life, which may at first give you the impression that I have no life.  Whenever I see a lizard crawling up the window sill on my back porch I wait like my 5-year old waits for the approaching ice cream truck to stop.  I wait for the lizard to pause, look at me curiously, and then bob his little head up and down until that little pink thing protrudes from his little neck.  After a moment of head bobbing, it disappears to who knows where.  Then he goes about his business as usual, oblivious to my presence and my sense of total fascination. What just happened? Was he (or she) communicating with me?  Was he showing off like a peacock shows its tail?  Was he threatening me?  Was it a sign of affection?  Makes me wonder.  I could "Google" this or ask on Facebook and find out exactly what it means.  I could Tweet.  I don't want to.  I don't want to know the "truth".  I prefer to leave it to my imagination; it serves me well.  I can interpret this odd behavior as a sign that, in the eyes of the lizard, I am a worthless human being.  That is, of course, if I've had a bad day.  I can just as easily see it as a sign of love and affection. That's for a good day.  If I knew what it really meant then that all goes out the window.  I prefer to leave it be.  

Same with the songs that I've never known the words to.  I remember the disappointment I felt when I learned that the "Go-Go's" song that I sang in the shower was not called "As long as I see you".  It's "Our lips are sealed".  Bummer.  There's a commercial that plays on this.  They use "Rocket Man".  They show people singing the words as they have always believed them to be.  At the end, you find out that the line is "burning out his fuse up here alone".  What???? It's not "burning up the sea of heaven" (pronounced heh-eh-vaughn).  I used to ponder what those mysterious words meant.  Sea of Heaven.  Wasn't there something about that in the Bible?  Rocket Man went to the sea of heaven.  It's a song about Jesus or something.  Wow.  No.  It's a song about a very lonely man in space. I like my Rocket Man better.

They say that "Psycho" is the scariest movie ever.  Show it to a 15 year old and they'll laugh out loud.  Why?  Because now, the horror flicks show it all.  Blood, bodies, etc.  Psycho was so scary because during that shower scene, you never really got to see the "killer".  You didn't see all of the gory stuff.  Its mostly left to your imagination.  And imagination pales in comparison to anything they show you on the screen.      

I think this way about fear.  I have learned in my years (not that I am an old man or anything), that when I am afraid of something it is usually a figment of my imagination.  I can conjure up the worst of scenarios.  The plane will go down.  The lap bar on the roller coaster will disengage during the ride.  The ship will sink.  If I were to give in to all of that then I would never fly, ride, or sail.  Gee, what I would miss.  Not all fear is imagined.  It is the body's natural defense mechanism that can get our guard up when necessary.  I am afraid of tornadoes.  I hide from them (in the bathtub).  I don't chase them. I've seen the movie "Twister" so I know what can happen.  I have to think that most of what I fear is being conjured up in my own little brain.  Fear of public speaking; no one will listen, they'll laugh, they'll think I'm stupid.  Fear of commitment; what if it doesn't turn out "right", what if I'm surprised by what happens, what if it's not a good fit for me.  Fear of failure; I'll look ignorant, I'll have egg on my face; I'll never get another chance.  Most of that kind of stuff comes directly from my imagination.  It can keep me from living into who I am.  It can keep us from understanding other people.  It can keep us from seeing ourselves, and one another, for who we really are.  Think about it.      

I looked it up.  Dad gummit I went and looked it up.  That little pink thing?  It's a neck pouch.  It can be shown as a sign of agression.  It can be a sign of fight, flight, or flatter.  In other words, who knows? So, turns out I can still imagine whatever I want to imagine.  But a lonely Rocket Man all alone in outer space?  Still like mine better.          


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

You know what they say when you assume...

The scene:  

Husband comes home after a long day at work.  Wife has just cooked dinner and is now in chair folding 2 laundry baskets full of clothes. Husband comes in, gets beer, lays across couch to watch Monday Night Football.  Husband appears oblivious to wife working.  Wife gets more and more irritated as the minutes go by.

Wife:  (forcefully) Uh, are you going to sit there like that all night or are you going to help me with these clothes?

Husband:  (innocently) What?

Wife:  (angrily) I said, are you going to help me with these clothes???  Why is it that every night you come home and lay on the couch and drink your beer and never bother to help around here??? Can't you see I need help????

Husband:  (clueless)  Help?  If you wanted me to help then why didn't you ask?

Wife:  (now fuming) I SHOULDN'T HAVE TO ASK!!!!!!!

Husband:  (blank).

Now, be honest.  Has this happened in your home?  Married couples call this "communication".  It's standard operating procedure in millions of homes around the world.  And it's not communication. The scenario you see above is called "assumption".  We assume that someone else knows what we want.  We don't come right out and ask for what we want, we assume. The word that usually follows is "incorrectly". Assumption will lead right down the path you see above on almost every occasion.

I've noticed that we have no trouble at all asking for what we want outside of our home.  Have you ever pulled up to the drive thru (why is it always spelled like that) at the Dairy Queen and sat in your car in silence when the girl asks you what you want?  She should know what I want because I've been here a thousand times before and I always get a Belt buster with cheese and extra mayo with a large fry and a side of cream gravy for the dipping!!!  Uh, ok.  When I order from Amazon, I don't leave the order form blank.  Don't they know by now what I like?  Nah, I ask for what I want.  Seems there is a serious lack of communication going on outside of the marketplace.

Our culture doesn't help out much with our diminishing ability to communicate.  It encourages it.  The first time I got a text from a friend who was sitting directly across the table from me I knew that the times were changing.  Note:  the text I received did not say "you have mustard on your chin" or "check your pants".  It was something like, "wassup".  We've also grown accustomed to culling down our language with this new found way of "communication".  I wanted to meet a friend the other day so I texted this..."cn u b at FS wed aft"? His response was "np".  At first, I thought he meant to say no and that his auto correct had messed him up.  So, I asked what he meant.  I use the word "asked" loosely, all I did was this, "?"  He replied, "I meant no prob dud".  He couldn't even spell out his explanation.  No problem dud (dude).  I can't wait until this translates into communication outside of our IPhones.  Imagine walking up to the counter at Taco Bell and handing them a note like this; "I want a TBG XC BS XS NLT with a side of SCEHS".  And the guy writes back, "np dud".  Then a big screen will flash your ready to pick up order; ON5RFPUP.  But you have to go to the restroom so you text BRB.  Who was that guy that sang, "what a wonderful world this would be"?  If our communication reaches that point at Taco Bell, imagine what it will be reduced to at home?  A series of grunts and snarls.  We are right back to square one.  Assuming.

Ask for what you want.  Don't be afraid.  From a guy's point of view I can honestly say that if the Cowboys are playing the Redskins we may not be paying a lot of attention, just like when your watching "Lifetime" or "Ellen".  Fair is fair.  My wife once let me practically die of heatstroke when I was cutting grass because it was Oprah's last show.  She never noticed the sweating, nearly fainting shell of a man pushing the mower.  Ask.  Water please?  Help with the socks?  I guarantee you that if asked repeatedly then it will begin to register. And please don't text me from across the table, or even across the room.  If my shoes don't match just say so.  I won't hold it against you.  Iz np I cn asur u.  Ltr duds!                    

Friday, May 18, 2012

How did we survive?

I'm beginning to wonder how we survived.  Those of us who grew up at any time prior to say, 1990, were subjected to some things that could have been highly detrimental to our well being.  Maybe that's what's wrong with us.  How we were able to grow into adulthood without being electrocuted, filled with high amounts of lead, or suffocated by a sippy cup is beyond me.  Being a parent these days not only takes a lot of work, but it also requires that we spend an awful lot of time "childproofing" everything that we own.  Nothing, and I mean NOTHING can be left within reach of small children these days.  Every light socket must be covered, every drawer has to have those very hard to install "locks" that don't work half the time (my son once pulled on a "locked" cabinet door with all of his weight, when the lock gave way his hand slipped off and he fell backwards, hitting his head on the hard floor which then led to an hour of traumatic screams); nothing can be left out on the tables or the kitchen counters anymore.  Have small children evolved into something different than before?  Did I miss something?  Please don't misunderstand, I am a fan of all of this new safety stuff.  I just wonder how I survived childhood in a house where scissors, "bobby pins", and meat cleavers were always well within my reach.  Maybe I once stood at a light socket with a long, thin metal object with the thought that I would see if I could make my hair stand up like Yosemite Sam but I don't remember it if I did.  I used to ride in the bed of my dad's truck flying through Houston at 90 miles an hour; dad's only instructions were to "stay off of the fender well".  What fun!  Dad would have come to know the letters "CPS" very well had this happened in the new millennium.  I'm assuming that small children are prone to chew the walls in their bedroom because you can't have lead paint anywhere in the house.  Had I put my mouth to the walls I would have had much more to worry about than lead in my blood stream.  Lead in the tummy would have been the better option I assure you.  If you are over 40 years old, do you remember car seats?  No? That's because they didn't exist.  I'm not even sure if I had to wear a seatbelt back then.  I do remember that little triangle shaped window in the car that you could open to allow the air to come in.  This was before air was "conditioned" of course.  And my parents smoked in the car.  How did we survive?            

Again, I'm all for this new stuff.  I'm all for safety.  I do have a little trouble understanding how "sippy cups" are dangerous now.  Have you seen them?  What could be so bad about a cute little "Dora the Explorer" sippy cup??  I don't know, I think we survived our childhood because our parents worked real hard at teaching. Relentless, mind numbing, over the top, repeat yourself every 5 seconds kind of teaching.  It worked.  Teaching that a finger in the outlet could kill you.  Yes, my parents said the word "kill".  If you eat McDonald's every day then that could cost you your health so no, son, you ain't eating McDonald's today.  They could have cared less about how loud my screams would become.  It was still no.  Lesson learned.  My mom used to threaten me within an inch of my life (death was apparently a great deterrent for me) if I even thought about opening a kitchen cabinet.  Chew the walls?  I wasn't even allowed to touch them.  I can also tell you that the closest I have ever come in my life to long periods of silent meditation were the times when I had to sit at the table until I had eaten every bite of my liver.  You try staring at a cold piece of liver for over an hour and see how quiet you get.  I always ate it.  I didn't like it, but I ate it.  

So yeah, I'm all about car seats and toys being pulled off the shelves because they have lead.  I'm all about locks and bolts and medicines placed on high, far away shelves.  Don't dare speed down the freeway with your child in the bed of the truck.  Sorry dad, but that's just dangerous.  Just don't let all of the newfangled safety stuff replace the teaching.  Things can hurt you out there.  You won't always be shielded from every hurt and harm.  Know what to do when you encounter real danger and understand that if something can "kill you" then you better file that away in the "never do that" file.  Good advice for me too.

Now, get this.  When you put the safety cap on a light socket, guess what you have to do.  You have to stick the the light socket.  What twisted person thought of that?  Risk electrocution to save your child.  I guess plastic is not a conductor of electricity.  Or is it?  Beats eating liver.             

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Did you know that Beyonce is the most beautiful woman in the world? It's true.  I saw it on the morning news today; People magazine has named her the most beautiful woman in the world.  Did you get that? In the world!  I want to give kuddos to the staff of People magazine for this work.  Can you imagine it?  Sifting through the pictures of every woman in the world!  How long does that take?  Millions and millions of pictures to cull through.  After this arduous process the team must then begin trimming down the list until finally arriving upon what? A top ten?  A final four?  I'm glad that I don't have to figure out who the world's most beautiful or "sexy" woman is for the calendar year 2012; the work must be "all consuming".  If you serve on this team of experts then I suppose you have to be sequestered for some length of time because you only have a few months to complete your assignment.  I remember just recently that another publication picked the most beautiful woman ever!  Like, starting with Eve and working down to Jennifer Anniston!  I would not want this job!

I wonder what criteria they are using here.  Maybe I'll Google it and find out.  Hair color might be a factor along with the number of visible blemishes.  Judging from the list, it would also appear that some level of fame/fortune is necessary as well.  Movie stars, recording artists, and swimsuit models dominate the field so it stands to reason that this makes the culling much easier...just throw out the women who aren't rich, famous, or otherwise worthy of big time notoriety and I guess it eliminates about 3/4 of the women in the world.  You have to start somewhere right?  I've also noticed that your wardrobe helps.  If you typically show up in public places with the kind of outfit that leaves very little to the imagination then you are going to move to the top of the list.  After all, since the judges can see most everything it gives them a much better impression as to how beautiful you really are.  Kate Upton?  Top of the list!  Angelina Joile?  A shoe in after that dress she had on the other night!  Lady Gaga?  Obviously trying to get the votes!

So, I salute the folks at People Magazine for their work.  I must say that if you decide to have a "most beautiful woman in the world" award that you are setting yourself up for quite a task.  I just have to stay this to you though.  Based on the obvious criteria, there will be a few women that get tossed out year after year.  They will not get past the first cut.  Maybe you could consider them please?

Immaculee Ilibagiza
Mother Theresa
Elizabeth Edwards (deceased, yet worthy of consideration)
Susan G. Komen
Ellen Besson (my wife)
Carol Young (my mother)

Start with those.  If you don't know the names then you can look them up.  Call me if you need further info in regards to the last 2 on the list.  You'll need to block out some time if you choose to contact me about them because they're beauty goes far beyond what you'll see on the outside.

From a grateful reader...

Mike Besson

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The word is "faith"

Well, this one certainly caught my eye.  "Forget the Church".  I'm not sure what possessed me to read an article whose title I so adamantly disagree with but I figured, what could it hurt?  I mean, the Bible on my desk clearly identifies the "church" as the "Body of Christ" so the separation of the two seems to be a stretch...what could this guy "Andrew" be getting at?  So out of curiosity I read it.  The article began by saying that "if you go to the second floor of the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., you'll find a room containing an 18th century Bible whose pages are full of holes.  They are carefully razor-cut empty spaces, so this was not an act of vandalism".  Sullivan is referring to the infamous "Jefferson Bible", a project that the 4th President of the United States began to undertake when he was around 77 years old. He literally took a razor and removed the passages that "he thought reflected the actual teachings of Jesus of Nazareth".  He cut and pasted his way through until he had created a "slimmer, different New Testament".  His criteria for removal, according to Sullivan, was anything that Jefferson believed represented the "very words of Jesus", leaving behind the "misconceptions of Jesus' followers" that were expressed "unintelligibly".  The snippets of the "real Jesus" were described as "diamonds" in a "dunghill" that was fraught full of "the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man".  Jefferson apparently determined that the Incarnation, Resurrection, and "various miracles" were "dung" because they hit the chopping block right away.  The "message was the miracle".

So, out of curiosity, I looked at the "Jefferson Bible"; here's a sampling of what Jefferson thought to be "dung":

Luke's description of the angelic visit to Mary.  

Jesus turning water into wine.  

John the Baptist's words to the Pharisees (you brood of vipers).  

Jesus' encounter with Nicodemus.  

John 3:16 (for God so loved the world). 

I could go on.  You can look it all up for yourself.  I'll save you the trouble.  Jefferson took out the hard stuff.  You know, the really challenging stuff, the stuff that makes us uneasy and calls us to have some semblance of faith.  No man could raise the dead, right?  No man could be the Son of God, right?  No man could perform a miracle that defies the laws of nature...right?  Resurrection?  No way.  The Son of God in pain?  Forget it.  If we can't explain it, reason it, or prove it with science and logic and reason then it's "dung" (the excrement of animals).  Cut it out like a cancer before it affects the whole.  Keep the nice, easy to understand stuff that doesn't challenge us on every level.  Keep the stuff that requires little or no faith.  If we can't reason it out then it can't be true.  That's what the Pharisees thought so they killed the messenger in order to kill the message. Funny thing happened, the message remained intact and believed by billions of people for 2012 years by my last count.

I hesitate to say this.  Maybe I shouldn't, lest it trouble the person who took the time to read the words of my blog.  I wouldn't want anyone to decide that I am a fundamentalist, ultra conservative, believer in the inerrant and infallible Bible.  I really am none of those things.  So maybe now that I've got that out of the way I can go ahead and say it.  Christianity is not easy.  Following Jesus isn't all roses, mostly because we don't dictate the terms and we apparently have to spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the needs of others (difficult when the ol' portfolio drops a couple of points, no?).  I often ponder what would happen if we (notice I am saying we) were to take it upon ourselves to live into some of the hard teachings (dung) of Christ?  I wonder what the world might look like if we loved neighbor as self?  I wonder what might happen if we made every attempt to live into the precepts of the Gospels?  I wonder how different things might be if we modeled our very lives after the sacrificial life that Jesus led?  Well, for those of you not quite so familiar with the Bible, I can tell you to read through the book of Acts to see what can happen when ordinary, flawed, uncertain human beings decided to do just that.  You will note healing.  You will note transformation.  You will note peace.  You will note a brief time when poverty was nonexistent.  And yes, you will note the miracles.  I must warn you though, don't read it in the "Jefferson Bible" because the above mentioned events were probably cut out.

One other thing.  If we really do believe in a God that created everything from nothing; if we proclaim a belief in this all powerful, all knowing God that holds the balance of the universe in his "hands"; if we believe that the God that we worship has created some sort of order out of the chaos and some level of good in the midst of evil, then is it that big of a stretch to say that the remote possibility exists that he could turn a jug of water into something comparable to a nice, Willamette Valley Pinot?  I hope so, because I'm staking my life on the far greater miracle that apparently leads me to life eternal.

Jefferson should have stuck to the politics.  Just sayin...      


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It's Time

I should be happy.  I'm not so sure that I am.  I am.  And then I'm not.  Tonight at 6:00 my wife and I will take our son to the school that he'll begin attending in the fall.  A full fledged kindergartner. The boy is growing up.  This brings me joy.  And it makes me sad. See, this whole situation is exacerbated by the fact that for the past year and a half my son has been attending the pre-k at the church that I serve.  I can eat lunch with him whenever I want.  I take him home every day.  I watch him play on the playground through the kitchen window and I can sneak into chapel and watch him worship. When the weather gets really bad, which it has been doing quite frequently these days, I can keep a close eye on him and I can rest in the knowledge that if the tornado warning turns out to be more than a warning that I can crouch somewhere in the corner of the building with my son held tightly in my arms.  Even though I know that this will show that I have some level of codependency I am going to say it anyway.  It brings me comfort and peace just knowing that he's in my building.  The other day I did something I shouldn't have.  I said, "Lorenzo, would you rather stay another year at our school because if you do then you will be in the classroom right next to my office...or would you rather go off to kindergarten and leave me here all alone? He looked at me and said, "I want to go with my friends dada".  I felt like I had a knife in my heart.  "You sure", I asked?  "Yes dada". "You're going to make dada cry", I said, half joking.  "Sorry".  Sorry??  That's all he's got?  The boy is growing up.

Being a dad has caused me to do something else that I really shouldn't do.  I have tried to "fast forward" time, which I always regret in hindsight.  I used to say things like "I can't wait until this boy is potty trained...I can't wait"!!  When he was potty trained I said, "It wasn't so bad I suppose".  Then this, "I can't wait until he can feed himself".  When he finally could I said, "I wish I could still feed him every once in awhile".  When he stopped coming down to my bedroom at 3:00am every night because he "needed me" I was a little relieved and a little sad at the same time.  One day he'll stop sitting in my lap.  That will be the day that I start the anti-depressants.  This growing up stuff is not sitting very well with me.  I like the fact that my son depends on me.  He really needs me for stuff.  Now I'm registering him for the "big boy school".  It won't be long before I'm handing him the keys to my Cherokee.  Then off to college.  A wife and kids.  Then no more phone calls.  Then he'll put me in a nursing home.  Good gosh, I have so much to look forward to.

Sometimes I think we resist the idea of "growing up" in another area of our lives.  When it comes to our relationship with God, we can very easily fall into neutral.  It's easy to take it for granted isn't it?  God is always there right?  We can pray without ceasing or we can give it 30 seconds before falling asleep.  We can read the Bible daily or just wait until we hear it read in church.  We can worship as often as we can or we can show up when there's nothing else to do that day.  No matter what, God is going to be there.  God is going to show up.  God can be at the top of our list of priorities or he can be at the very bottom.  He's there.  No matter what.

I once heard someone say that there are only 3 places that we can ever be in our relationship with God.  Forward, neutral, or reverse. One is really good.  The other two are not.  I think that part of it is fear.  We fear growth in this relationship because if we grow then something will be asked of us.  Life might change.  Routines might get shuffled just a bit.  We may have to begin making decisions between the myriad of Sunday options and worship.  Someone might ask us to work the church garage sale or to consider serving as an usher which would then require a commitment of some sort.  Look out if you express any interest at all in working with'll be on the "volunteer list" so fast your head will spin.  We resist growth because we resist change.  I wonder what our biblical story would look like if Mary had resisted her call or if Paul had just keep on killing Christians?  What if Moses decided to remain a shepherd? What about Peter, James, and John?  I suppose we would have never known their names.  

If you're resisting growth then don't.  God is there even if you deny him for awhile.  He's not going anywhere.  As soon as you turn to him then the "host of heaven" will dance.  Continue to seek and you will find.  Don't stay home on Sunday.  Worship.  Sing.  Pray.  Listen. Meet people who struggle like you.  Find God and be open to change. God won't do it for you, but he will show you the map.  He'll be you're GPS.  You need God.  Apparently he needs you.  Otherwise, why would he take the time to seek you?

I remember that I wept at the front door when I visited Graceland for the first time.  I fear a repeat performance when I get to the school tonight.  The boy is growing up.  Not neutral or reverse.  Forward.  I am grateful.

On a totally unrelated note...I have a good friend that has launched an amazing website for folks who are addicted to tennis like I am. Check it out: