October 22, 2010

Dim then Bright . . . or at least Brighter Than Dim

I've really been thinking a bunch lately.  I'm nearing my 10 year anniversary here at South.  I've been thinking much about what I've done, what I've not done, what I should have done.  Plus, I've really felt like I've been in a rut with my job.  Nothing's really wrong, I guess.  I think that I've simply been doing it for 10 years now, and its become sort of second nature.  That's not good, in my opinion, because you just do the job then, or at least that is how I was feeling.   

Then, a few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to attend the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta, GA.  Simply put, Catalyst is a conference put on to encourage ministers and church leaders to continue on being the Kingdom of God and challenging their congregations to be the Kingdom of God.  It was a breath of fresh air to my soul, especially being in the place I was in before going.

There is not space here to share all the great messages, challenges, and what all that we heard and saw during the whirlwind two day conference.  But, I want to share what I've been thinking so I can try and unpack it out of my head and to hopefully have you all, my five or so faithful readers, enter into a dialogue about what to do with it, if anything.  So, here you go.

It seemed that at every corner of the conference, there were stories after stories of people doing huge things for those in other countries who either don't have stuff they need like clean water to drink or who were being treated with injustice in some way like being held captive as slaves in the sex trade.  These things really made my mind work.  Within 100 miles, we have Detroit, where people live in oppressed situations.  We have that here in Lansing.  There are strip clubs within 2 miles of my house and 1 mile of the church that I serve.  The people we heard from the stage are people who are taking action and doing something about what is around them--what they see.  I have really been struggling with the question of what am I doing here?  What am I seeing? What am I going to do about it?   What is breaking my heart?  Is anything breaking my heart?  If its not, why are my eyes broken?

In light of that, my mind has really been thinking about the freedom that the conference had to share what they shared, how they shared it.  They had covered their costs with the monies from those attending.  They were able to speak freely and challenge us to be God's kingdom here and now.  Their vision/voice was beyond the event.  The questions that bubble up to me then, is what is my vision?  Am I looking beyond the tasks I need to do week to week, or am I thinking in a bigger picture of what do I need to do to help the people at South see?

Even more simpler than that, I question how I am praying?  What am I praying for?  Am I putting myself in the path of God?  Am I praying enough and asking God what he wants to use me, what he wants me to see.  Or, am I simply asking him to provide what I think I need?  These are a few of the questions rolling around in my head.

I've been here almost 10 years.  What have I done?  How have I advanced the kingdom of God here at South?  I've had the privilege to be a part of some great things here.  I've had the opportunity to watch some of my students in the youth ministry understand what they are called to be and chase after it through Bible college and go into ministry.  Those are awesome things.  But, at the same time, I question, what more could I have done?  How much more do we look like, act like, live like Jesus than we did before I was here (not that I am the end all).  

That leaves me here:  Since I can't change the past, what am I going to do from here.  What is my roll in pushing South to become a body of people who love God in a passionate way that we seek out what it is God is calling us to be (like Jesus) and then do it.  What is my roll in helping people encounter that calling, process it, and live it out?  

From there, the question becomes, how do I do that?

This is where my brain is at.  This is what I think about when I drive down the street and see all the people between my house and the church that I serve.  I covet your thoughts and ideas.

My prayer is that God would give me eyes to see, ears to hear, and the moxie to do something for His glory and His Kingdom.

October 6, 2010

Drink Coffee. Do Good.

Having coffee with Chad Cronin at this coffee shop today.  Its a great little shop that has the feeling of the old Hill of Beans from back in my early GLCC years.  Wicker tables and chairs, little nooks in crannies in the house, and, most importantly, good coffee.

Plus, they are doing coffee right, in that they are doing fair trade coffee a step further, by working directly with a grower in Rwanda to make sure that the small growers are getting the money they deserve for their products.  My friend, Cassidy, did some work in this vein when he shot video for the Bicycles for Rwanda project.

What do you need to do?  Drink coffee responsibly.  Make sure it is fair trade--meaning the growers are getting treated fairly in the process.  Also, make sure you are getting coffee from places who use, not abuse those they get their coffee from.  You can certainly buy coffee from places like Land of a Thousand Hills and know that you are being a good steward with your cup of joe.