Thursday, September 27, 2007

"Surely We Can Change"

Here's a sample from Crowder's newest CD "Remedy". The song is called "Surely We Can Change"

when all the love in the world is right here, among us,
and hatred too, so we must choose what our hands will do

Where there is pain...let there be grace
Where there is suffering...bring serenity
For those them be brave
Where there is misery...bring an expectancy
and surely we can change, surely we can change

Saturday, September 22, 2007

3:10 to Yuma and Next Week's Forcast

Last night went and checked out 3:10 to Yuma. It was excellent. Christian Bale is definitely the man. Also, the red headed guy from "A Knights Tale" had a supporting role, he was the only bright spot in that Heath Ledger chick flick in disguise. I digress. 3:10 to Yuma was not only an excellent update on the classic western genre, but also an excellent title to mess with. Ex: "Hey, let's go see that 4:30 to Ukealale" or "I'll have one ticket for the 1:45 to Yukatan Peninsula". It's probably not much funnier online than it was in person, but I got a kick out of it. I'll spare you some detailed deconstruction of the plot, if you can stand violence, you'll love it.

More on this next week, but we're looking at maybe one of the best weeks of all time here:

Friday (yesterday)- Chipotle opened practically right down the street from my house.

Tuesday the 25th- HALO 3 RELEASE. DAVID CROWDER'S NEW ALBUM RELEASE. Although at different ends of the interest spectrum, you don't have to have 3 guesses to know what i'll be doing Tuesday.


Friday the 28th- My lady friend comes home for the weekend.

Doesn't get much better than that. More on those as the week progresses.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

At Last

Finally some hard data. I had always wondered why everywhere I go people stare at me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


There's been lots of good comments over the "Rich Getting Richer and Poor Getting Poorer" post below. Readers who might not know everyone involved need to know that the posters are all close friends of mine and people I've partnered in ministry with. I really respect all the different views and opinions.

I think it boils down to balance.

Balance of salvation through Jesus covering the spiritual AND the physical. If you go merely spiritual, it's easy to fall into apathy and a distant, pharisaic, vague, pseudo-spirituality. However if you put all your theological/spiritual eggs into the physical basket, you're in the pit of merit based works righteousness, and that is missing the point just like detached asceticism.

Balance of reality and vision.
Now, let me quantify that statement. What I mean is, a balance in discerning the way things are vs. the way things could be. Again, I believe Jesus changed the world and as his followers we are to take part in his continuing shaping of our world. At the risk of sounding extreme, you don't get crucified for keeping the status quo. So in my assessment of wealth in St. Louis county, it may seem zealous, ambitious, foolish, naive, or idealistic to think that 1. this can change and 2. the church must be the body that models the change; but I don't care if it sounds naive or idealistic, because I am filled with the hope that God will use us as he pleases for his will to be done. But we have to temper the way things are with the way Jesus calls us to live, because the hope contained in faithfulness to Christ must guide us toward a better way of living.

Balance of our community with our needs, and communities with needs around us. People in West County need love, hope, and a savior just like people in the city do. So it is more than just simple economic distribution. My church needs to be equipped to minister to people in our context. We are building a new facility which we believe can help us accomplish this in a better way. All I'm saying is that by being exposed to the way others in our own backyard live, we can be transformed and adjust our attitudes about what is important and what being blessed is like on many levels (not just physically, but intellectually, socially, etc). Downtown the problems are many- crime, inadequate living conditions, unemployment, STD's. But in West County we have tons of problems too- self worth being tied to GPA for students and "success" for adults, hyper-consumerism, and an over scheduled, over committed, burnt out culture of first place or bust. However, it's easy to say it's not just about economics or physical needs when all your physical needs are met.

Balance of what is really needed vs. what we think is needed. Here's a tough one. If we really were to get down to it, even an average income of $30,000 in St. Louis city is so much more than many of the people in the world will see in a decade. So all of you out there could say: "Well Adam, if you're so down with helping poor people why don't you sell that laptop you're typing on!" Ahh, touches! You know, part of me wants to say you might be right! Let me list other luxuries I enjoy that are not essential to physical life: car, cell phone, iPod, digital camera, dvd's, books, furniture, too many clothes, air conditioning, expensive watch, a $1500 Taylor Guitar, Nintendo wii, tv, this laptop, I could go on. So if it was simply about gettin rid of all things except meager shelter, food, and water I wouldn't have a leg to stand on. But that's too simple. The issue is much more complex than that. But I have found that "de-accumulating" is a better way to live. In case you're wondering, I have sold clothes that I didn't need along with most of my DVD's (I kept the ones I got as gifts, and the boxed sets). What I've discovered as I've shed some posessions, and have been living in a house that won't let me accumulate much more than I already that I really don't need all the stuff I thought I did. It's been over a month with no cable. The more I give away, the more I appreciate what I have, and the less I have to worry about. So in our discussions about distribution of wealth, a tough part of the discussion is that we really don't need all that we think we need.

So what do you guys think about all of that? One of the reasons that radio/tv talk shows are so popular is that they're so polarizing- they offer neat answers to messy questions. They are often not designed to provide rational discourse but rather entertaining sophistry. No one would want to listen to a show where the hosts repeatedly said things like: "Ya, I see your point" or "It's really not a simple sound byte solution". Hopefully people will want to read blog posts that try!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Devotion: Martha and the Machine

I have staff devotion duties tomorrow, here it is for your viewing pleasure.

-Luke 10: 38-42

Yesterday I was able to spend a lot of time getting ready for my wedding. It’s almost exactly 9 months away. There is a lot to worry about! For good reason! It will be the single biggest day of my life thus far. It is a big deal. But I believe the same thing that happened to Martha can happen to me with my wedding and it can happen to EUMC and it can happen to the church as a whole.

But before we look at the big picture, lets stick with what I started with- weddings. Frankly, as special and wonderful an occasion it will certainly be, it can also just get plain ridiculous. Have you ever picked up a bridal magazine? You need two hands. This will probably be a gender bias question, but have you ever stepped foot in a David’s Bridal? It’s like a matrimonial wal-mart. Here’s something a little more “male oriented”: over/under 23,000 for the average cost of a wedding? Over. According to a May 2005 article on the average wedding costs $26,327. That means in 2005 over $125 billion was spent on weddings. That’s about the size of Ireland’s Gross Domestic Product.

A little out of control isn’t it? Let’s not even get into the cultural impact of shows like “Bridezilla” and movies like “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. What has been a right of passage throughout human history- two people joining their hearts for life- has morphed into a cultural and economic juggernaut. Somewhere along the line what should be “the main thing” about weddings (the bride and groom’s commitment before God and loved ones) becomes almost a footnote to the endless list of things to be bought, arranged, registered, and coordinated. It is so easy to get caught up in the pressure to have the huge cake, the flawless flowers, the magnificent string quartet, the most elaborate meals, and the most extensive guest list. But all of that is crap in comparison to the whole point of the wedding. The hype and preparations for the wedding can turn it from something simple and beautiful into a machine that monopolizes all your energy and runs on money.

So lets go back to the context of Jesus. Scripture tells us that he’s traveling, and that Martha opens her home to him and his followers. Obviously this is a big deal. There are preparations to be made! Her sister is listening to Jesus teach, giving him her attention instead of helping Martha with all that needed to be done in light of the occasion. This gives Martha reason to be a little miffed. Her sister is hanging out with the guests and leaving all the work to Martha! Martha was “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” She protests Jesus “Tell her to help me!”. When my sister and I were young, that two syllable name of mine was like a rallying cry: Aaa-duuuuuuum! This is probably a stretch, but I can just hear Martha: Je-suuuuus! Tell her to help me!

But Jesus flips the script and tells Mary to relax, that “only one thing is needed”. To sit at the feet of Jesus. After all, what good is making all the preparations and missing out on what all the preparations are for in the first place? Mary chose what would last, which trumps even Martha’s best intentions.

I believe it’s the same with my wedding, and it’s the same with the church. Even with good intentions, we can become so focused on all the preparations that we miss the point. I can focus energy on my ego and on how I want to be perceived at my wedding instead of focusing on my love for Sarah and the celebration of our commitment to each other. Martha focused on getting the house ready or whatever she was doing instead of spending time with Jesus.

As a church we are to be building the Kingdom of God. I believe even with best intentions, we can instead be running a machine. Now the tough part becomes sorting and discerning the kingdom from the machine. So let us not forget in our effort to serve God that we must always chose to sit at Jesus feet, may we have the wisdom to focus on things that will last and gently lead others out from the machine and into the kingdom.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Book Review: Justice in the Burbs

On Adam Caldwell's suggestion, I ordered this last week and finished it up a couple days ago. The book is written in a particular flow- the author(s) Will & Lisa Samson present a fictional scenario of a suburban family who starts a relationship with the leader of a downtown mission and the courses of their life change. Following that there is a commentary by both authors (usually Will I take it) discussing real life application/theology about the things depicted in the story of Matt and Christie. After that there is a short meditation from other authors. (the meditations I didn't care so much for, part of me felt like it was just a way to get Brian McLaren or Doug Paggit's name on the cover, but that's very cynical of me, so we'll give the Samson's the benefit of the doubt.)

Frankly, I didn't think I was going to like the format but they did a really good job! I was concerned about the fictional family- a high "cheese factor" possibility, but it was very well done. Also Will and Lisa discuss "emergent" theology/ideas very plainly, with no pretentious attitudes, which was again, very well done.

In terms of depth, it was ok. There wasn't a lot here I hadn't thought/experienced myself, but I think that is kind of a good thing. It's sort of like having a discussion with a friend you really agree about something with, it's just not as exciting as a good ol' point-counterpoint. But that is a little shallow of me to critique.

All in all, I would recommend this book, especially for folks who might have a small inkling that there's more to life than their kids schedules and ralph lauren clothes and want to look into making some life style changes.

Justice in the Burbs- an excellent book to spring board lifestyle change and kingdom theology. Creative yet accessible format. Pretty cool.

(by the way, i'm blogging from a very...let's say..."non-traditional" location right now!)