missing yac
Friday July 22nd 2005, 7:30 pm
Filed under: personal

my friend mikey reminded me that this sunday would have been yaconelli’s 63rd birthday. man, i really miss him. he continues to have a profound impact on my life. all day today i’ve been soaking in a sermon i’ve giving tonight and sunday at my church, and i can see yac-influence all over it, all over me. my memory of him has taken on some holy-spirit-like qualities — which is pretty funny, if you knew yac. i can often sense him (imagined or real?) peeking over my shoulders (mischieviously) or looking me in the eyes (either with grace or conviction or a strange combination).

love’s as warm as tears
Thursday July 21st 2005, 7:40 pm
Filed under: thinking...

a poem by C.S. Lewis…

Love’s as warm as tears,
Love is tears:
Pressure within the brain,
Tension in the throat,
Deluge, weeks of rain,
Haystacks afloat,
Featureless seas between
Hedges, where once was green.

Love’s as fierce as fire;
Love is fire:
All sorts — infernal heat
Clinkered with greed and pride,
Lyric desire, sharp-sweet,
Laughing, even when denied,
And that empyreal flame
Whence all loves came.

Love’s as fresh as spring,
Love is spring:
Bird-song hung in the air,
Cool smells in a wood,
Whispering ‘Dare! Dare!’
To sap, to blood,
Telling ‘Ease, safety, rest,
Are good; not best.’

Love’s as hard as nails;
Love is nails:
Blunt, thick, hammered through
The medial nerves of One
Who, having made us, knew
The thing He had done,
Seeing (with all that is)
Our cross, and His.

wrestling with light
Wednesday July 20th 2005, 8:04 pm
Filed under: faith, thinking...

so, i’m preaching this weekend (and next) at my church. and i’m going to talk about identity (the series title is “embracing our identity”). and i have this highly annoying thing going on:

i’m building a three-part sentence — or, at least, that’s the plan at this point. the first section is you are. this is an existential reflection on the fact that we are created beings. and, moreso, that we are created in the image of god. i’m planning on spending a bit of time on one of god’s chief characteristics: passion. and that we have this god-trait in us also.

then, the second section adds a word to the first sentence: you are god’s. this is, obviously, talking about the fact that we belong to god.

the third section, in my current very-rough draft, is: you are god’s chosen. This won’t be a discussion of election; rather, my plan was to talk about what it means to be chosen to be the image-bearers of god in the world.

but i have two rubs:
1. the second week of the series, i’m planning on talking about what it means — given our identity — to live missionally in the world. but this third section seems to be already going there. and my wife — rightly so — is concerned that i’m going to spend too much of my time on “doing”, and not enough time on knowing that our identity is in “being” the beloved of god. so, i’m wondering if i should just stop after the first two sections, and leave the third for next week.
2. then, i feel like i’m supposed to use the little C.S.Lewis short story The Man Born Blind, and talk about Light. i feel like god gave me a nudge about this. but it’s so esoteric, and i’m both concerned that the people in my church won’t get it (i’m not very clear on it myself); and i’m also concerned that i’m forcing it in here. my thought was to develop it as part of what it means to be the image-bearers of god in the world (jesus says, “i am the light of the world.” but we are also told that we are the light of the world). but again, maybe it’s better — if i use that at all — to save it for the second week.


then again, maybe god nudged me to this idea just so i would wrestle with it and sweat about it and struggle with it — and never preach it.

give me clarity, god.

[[update: i’ve decided to push the third sentence — you are god’s chosen — to next week and make it the whole message then. this allows me to more fully focus on our identity as beloved created beings this week. i may bring A Man Born Blind into it next week — but it no longer fits this week.]]

i have a kilt friend today
Wednesday July 20th 2005, 2:57 pm
Filed under: personal

our consultant, mark dowds, who has just started as our interim COO at ys, is in town this week. today, he borrowed my black denim utilikilt, and i wore my olive twill utilikilt. there’s a massive level of manliness at ys today.

books i read in guatemala
Tuesday July 19th 2005, 4:49 pm
Filed under: books

i love good non-fiction. but i need a bit of story here and there. and, lately, i’ve been craving some fiction. this week i finished , by Audrey Niffenegger. it’s a very creative story of a man with a chromosomal abnormality that causes him to time-travel (mostly back in time, some foreward) spontaneously. sounds like science-fiction, i know, but that’s not really the tone. it’s primarily a love story, with strong themes of longing and waiting and life-values. karla yac had read it, and found it reflected so much of her mike-stuff. i saw that in the first chapter, but then didn’t see it again for much of the book. but the last chapter just about slayed me!

then, i read three illustrated books. i love illustrated books (i suppose you can call them comics — but they’re full books, novels with full illustrations). a month or two ago, time magazine had a list of 5 illustrated books they were highly recommeding, so i bought three of ‘em:
, by Daniel Clowes. a collection of odd little people in the fictional town of ice haven, all trying to find a bit of meaning in life. really enjoyable.
by Jason. the weirdest of the group, in terms of illustration. his “human” characters all have animal heads — mostly dog heads. i suppose you could call this book a murder-mystery. but what i really enjoyed (in addition to how much emotion and lack-of-emotion the author/artist can convey in the line-drawn face of a dog!) was the — warning, this is going to sound pretentious — humany of the characters, specifically, the goodness of the characters.
and, my favorite of the three was , by Manu Larcenet. it’s also the longest of the three (which gives a bit more space for character development). the illustration is fantastic — really adds to the book. there were many pages where i enjoyed just staring at the drawings for a while, as you would in a museum. it’s the story of a nominally-depressed guy named marco (hey!) who’s trying to find his way, amidst a struggling photography career, a dying father, deep questions about good and evil and redemption and change, and a tempermental cat. i highly recommend this book.

convention end
Monday July 18th 2005, 1:44 am
Filed under: youth ministry, youth specialties

the guatemala youth workers convention (i should say the youth workers convention in guatemala — because a full 1/3 of the attendees weren’t from this country) has come to an end. lucas spoke in the final general session this evening, and he BROUGHT it, again deconstructing many of the wrong-headed ideas that permeate the church in this part of the world (and in the states also!). he bashed the pervasive idea of wanting to be the top dog in a church, and held up barnabas as a great example. he talked about jesus smelling like sheep, while so many pastors seem to prefer to smell like a microphone. but it wasn’t a “negative” talk — it was extremely encouraging, but challenging.

he told me later this evening, at dinner, that he was praying ealier today, and asking god that we (ys) would be ready for the impact of and reaction to this event. he is — rightfully — concerned that we may not be ready for the time, people, and resource demand this will place on us, as a new-generation church revolution starts to pick up speed in latin america.

we had dinner tonite with several of the US speakers who joined us this week: wayne and marcie rice, rich van pelt, and others; and with several of our key friends who have supported these conventions through the years in argentina: junior zapata (from guatemala), jeffry de leon (from guatemala, but living in miami), german ortiz (from argentina), keith king (from the US), abel lopez (from the US), and others. we were also joined by a handful of the amazing volunteers who made this event happen in guatemala. these are just stellar brilliant people who gave of themselves to make this happen.

i spoke for four hours today, and am dead tired. i did a 2 1/2 hour critical concerns course on leadership and change. had a great time — the audience was very responsive; and i made it more of a workshop, with reflective exercises around many of the things i’ve learned in the past two years from bob carlton and mark dowds. luckily, my last 90 minute seminar was on young teens, probably my biggest passion, so i was able to get pumped up all over again, and had a great time. hardly any youth ministries in latin america do anything for young teens (youth ministry typically begins at 14 or 15 here), and it was great to be with 100 people who were HUNGRY for some validation of their odd calling!

i’ve said it before, but i really mean it: it’s just such an honor to be part of this thing, part of this obvious movement of god.

why lucas is the right guy to lead spanish ys
Saturday July 16th 2005, 7:24 pm
Filed under: church, youth specialties

there are so many reasons why lucas leys is abso-freakin’-lutely perfect to be our ys spanish guru. but here’s a great example:

the most popular worship band in latin america - rojo - was playing in the general session this afternoon. they’re really fantastic, and they rock the house. and people know their songs, so the singing was very loud. you can picture the scene — 1200 latin youth workers, moshing, jumping, worshipping. then, after too few songs for the crowd (they were begging for more), the band steps off stage, and… a classical choir, in tuxes and formal dresses, with a chamber orchestra (all of whom were ready and set-up on a side-stage, start singing a gorgeous hymn. while this band had been fantastic worship, this move not only validated the worship of those were weren’t connecting with the rock-and-roll worship, it also deconstructed the hero-worship and cult-of-personality that often surrounds modern rock worship (in north america, and very much so here in central america). the crowd hushed. the mosh-pit stood still. slowly, people began to sing along. the room was filled with absolutely stunning hymn singing.

ah. lucas gets it.

i followed all this as the speaker in this general session (maybe lucas doesn’t get it!). i talked about the quicksand we in the church so easily step into by believing that conformity is a good thing; that our churches often act as sand-paper, trying to produce sameness and niceness and complience in us. but god made us unique and odd and strange, as a gift to the church and the world, and we each need to embrace that.

opening general session
Friday July 15th 2005, 6:48 pm
Filed under: youth ministry, church

i just came from the opening general session of the youth workers convention in guatemala.

wow. [choke]

wow. [choke]

it’s so difficult, as i’ve found in the past, to describe how amazing this is. i mean, i love our youth workers conventions in the states too. but there’s something intangible here, something that ramps things up a bit. i’m sure it’s a combination of things:
- the fact that there has never been a youth ministry gathering anywhere close to this size in central america. so these people are in no way numb to the overwhelming emotion that comes with being in a room of 1200 people who share the same passion and calling.
- for many, especially the gautemalans, the event brings a palbable sense of holy revolution, that significant change (in their churches, in their cultures, in the lives of the teenagers they love) is right at the fingertips of their hearts.
- and, then, i’m sure some of the excitement is just cultural — they’re a less jaded and cynical group than we are in the states. there are none of those “backward baseball cap wearing, tattoo sporting, neu-fundamentalist, i’ll keep my arms folded or my hands in my pockets unless you get a mosh-pit going” youth workers here.

anyhow. it’s wonderful and beautiful. i hardly understood a word, but could tangibly sense god’s spirit in the room. maybe that was especially true since i couldn’t understand a word. no cognitive stuff to distract me!

mmm, tasty
Friday July 15th 2005, 2:29 pm
Filed under: personal

at breakfast, liesl asked me, “can we go as many times as we want to the barfay?”

“the what?” i asked.

[hesitantly] “the… barf… ay? is that what it’s called?”

“oh, the buffet.”

feeling conflicted
Friday July 15th 2005, 12:12 pm
Filed under: faith, personal

when i was in junior high, my older sister, lori, went on a mission trip to quetzaltenango, guatemala (the second largest city in guatemala). this provided me with my first impression of guatemala, primarily from her reports, but reinforced by the quetzaltenango pennant she brought me as a souvenier, and that hung on the wall in my room for the next few years. overall impression: poor, needy country

in college, one of my roomates was really “into” the political struggle in guatemala, and came down and spent some time here. further impressions were added.

a few years ago i met junior (the director of a very large and progressive christian schooling system here in guatemala) who helped me understand the culture here to a greater extent. and i met manny (who came to our event in argetina a few times and really connected with yaconelli), who is a wealthy guatemalan (he owns a collection of stores, and the guatemalan distribution rights to brands like CK, Hilfiger, Guess, Polo and others). manny is an amazing, gifted, godly and humble guy who is passionate about serving god and about his country. but he’s rich, in a highly poor country.

early stages of inner conflict set in.

last night, we had dinner at the home of one of the wealthier families in guatemala (their son-in-law is one of the volunteer organizers of our convention). their home is absolutely stunning, and the grounds of their home are better-homes-and-gardens lavish. stepping into the home made me extremely uncomfortable.

then, i experienced their hospitality (which could only be described as warm and freely-given), and witnessed their humility and spiritual passion. notch up the inner conflict: how does a person live in a house like this and have this much money in a country with so many poor, while still maitaining a passionate pursuit of the christ who loved the poor.

of course, forming that judgmental question in my mind brought on the REAL inner conflict: how do i live in the house i do and have the money i do, and live in a country (and world) with so many poor, while still maintaining a passionate pursuit of the christ who loved the poor.

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