9.29.2008

technology and ministry

One of the biggest banes of my ministerial existence is technology and curriculum. I want things to be easily emailed. I want things to be easily integrated. I want things to look professional.

You can't do that when you are making photocopies of pages. You can't do that when you are switching between various media presentations. And you can't do that when curriculum aren't designed to be technologically savvy.

To be specific, more and more of my children's ministry volunteers are email oriented. It is infinitely easier for me to email the volunteer their weekly curriculum than sending it to their child's (in-house, day school) teacher, who gives it to the child, who MIGHT put it in their backpack, and where the parent MIGHT find it. And it take 1/100th of the time of snail mail. And 1/10000000th of the fuel energy if I hand delivered the items to each volunteer's home.

I am willing to pay more for PDF files because they are more useful to me than hard copies. I am willing to pay more for .mov files because they are also more useful to me than DVDs.

See how that works?

Editorial costs don't change. Production shifts. Maybe it costs a little more, maybe not. The product looks better because you can make things more colorful if you don't have to print them.

My use of the materials looks 1000 times better. People hear about it. They want their program to look better, too. They buy your product.

Bam!
Money in the bank.
More Jesus in the hearts of young people.
Fewer piles of old curriculum stacked up in my office.

9.19.2008

failing.

I'm distressed this morning.

In fact, I woke up before 6am thinking about it.

My 7th and 8th graders don't get it.

They don't know that they are responsible.

For the people in need--the poor, the sick, the ignored.

For each other.

To not just tell people about Jesus.

But to live like him.

It's my JOB to help them understand.

I might be failing.

God help me.

9.17.2008

the Beautifuls

I don't often think of small winged insects as beautiful. In fact, they are quite buggy.

But yesterday, as they floated through the late afternoon sun between the towering trees, it was obvious that the Creator had beauty in mind in their formation.

Wings lit on fire: translucent glowing floating like snowflakes on a warm early autumn afternoon.

Not bugs, but Beautifuls.

The least of these made wonderful.

9.16.2008

creator and creativity

I ran across this Psychology Today article summing a book about creative people today.
The excitement of the artist at the easel or the scientist in the lab comes dose to the ideal fulfillment we all hope to get from life, and so rarely do. Perhaps only sex, sports, music, and religious ecstasy--even when these experiences remain fleeting and leave no trace--provide a profound sense of being part of an entity greater than ourselves.
As I read through the list of brilliantly explained characteristics of a creative person, my mind wandered around the creative people I know well in life. The paradox of the creative person (introverted and extroverted, passionate and objective, rebellious and conservative, so on and so forth) struck me as accurate and very articulate.

My mind turned the subject a bit. What about the Creator? If creative people are mimicking the actions of the original Creator, surely in some respect they are tapping into the Creator's ethos. Rereading the article with the Creator in mind brought me knowing smiles and a few laughs at the obviousness of it all. For instance:
Creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but they're also often quiet and at rest...One manifestation of energy is sexuality. Creative people are paradoxical in this respect also. They seem to have quite a strong dose of eros, or generalized libidinal energy, which some express directly into sexuality. At the same time, a certain spartan celibacy is also a part of their makeup; continence tends to accompany superior achievement. Without eros, it would be difficult to take life on with vigor; without restraint, the energy could easily dissipate.
Surely the Creator had great pleasure in mind when he created man and woman. He inspired the Song of Solomon, created in man sexual desires. Yet he was made manifest in Jesus Christ, a celibate man, focused on his "superior achievement" of saving the word for sin and death.

This is only one example of many I saw. I invite you to dig in and find your own.

via kottke

9.15.2008

why am i so hard on myself?

I have been hard on myself in a very ungodly way of late. I don't mean ungodly in the flippant exaggerated sense, but in the truest anti-first commandment breaking sense.

This is most apparent at work, though it seems to be true across the board.

Two weeks ago, I directed the launch of a new Sunday School program at my church. The experience has been change theory made manifest: there are skeptics, there are enthusiasts, there are inbetweeners. Meanwhile, I am somewhere on the outside banging my head on the wall thinking about all of the things I should have done better, all of the volunteers that I might be letting down, all of things that I have potentially failed at.

The funny thing is, each week these kids are getting together, smiling, praising God together. They are still learning the program. The adults are still learning the program. I AM STILL LEARNING THE PROGRAM. Did I mention we've only had 2 hours of this new program? 2 hours. That's 1/12th of a day if you need some perspective (I do).

We have to learn the logistics so that we can focus on the content. (There are a lot of logistics when there are 75 elementary students involved). We are building the framework for Christ to be shared actively and vividly. It won't happen magically. I've got to be patient.
I think the proper expression is: duh.

Jesus is being shared.
Despite me.
My stress levels.
My increasing amount of gray hair.
My sleepless nights.
Me. Me. Me. Me. Me.

I don't matter. Focusing on my stress and my perceived failures is ignoring the joy of sharing Christ.

My job this week is to focus on the joy of Christ and sharing it.
Focus on the joy of Christ and sharing it.
The joy of Christ and sharing it....

9.10.2008

freneticism turned hopeful

I have felt out of control of my life for several months. On the surface, things are plodding along as normal, but not so deep below, I feel like a frenetic mess. I've felt like I couldn't get a hold of things at work. I've felt like I couldn't get my eyes to fall on a single book for any length of time. I've felt like I can't keep my closet organized. I can't keep my desk clean. I can't stay on top of my budget. I can't make all of the necessary phone calls. I can't keep in touch with the people I love. I can't communicate without coming off as a cynical expletive expletive expletive. And I can't sleep.

It's frustrating and wearing and it's making me sick, emotionally if not also physically. But all hope is not lost. Even in my most brutally cynical of moments, the hope still has a strong descant voice.

I've been slowly reading Isaiah. Very extremely slowly. Chewing and pondering the situation of the Israelites and the Judeans. They were out of control, too. But even in the harshest of condemnations to the people, Isaiah sings a poetic hope over top of the doom.

You will say in that day: "I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me." Isaiah 12:1

There are many things that cause our Lord great anger with me. Many of those things listed above, not excluded is my need to control those things listed above. But our Lord turns away from his anger; our Lord chooses to bring comfort, peace, hope.

9.08.2008

finding the way something more

In the midst of a day-long meeting, a swollen sinus system, and an office that is rivaling Fibber McGee's closet, my thoughts were drawn to something more. Something beyond myself and my mess and my life.

I've floundered about in my busyness and my vagabondage. I haven't Sabbathed in a fully restful way in weeks. I'm exhausted. Insomnia seems to be a regular guest star of my nighttime experience. And though those are physical things, there's something more at work. Something beyond myself and my mess and my life.

I'm finding my way to something more.

I have a sneaking suspicion Something More has been here all along.