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In light of my last post, I decided to take care of the issue, by having the youth today participate in a prayer exercise.
Please feel free to steal, use, pass this on to anyone and everyone.
Even though it was world news, not many of the students had heard about the earthquake as of this morning. I didn’t really expect them to have but oh well.
The exercise was to help the students rationalize how many people had actually been killed so far and for them to spend devoted time in prayer.
Since last I had heard around 3000 people had died I thought that would be a nice round figure to go with.
As part of prayer we counted. 1 to 3000.
If you count at about 1 a sec it takes almost 50 min to get from 1 to 3000.
I instructed them to count from 1 to 3000 and during the time they were to think and pray about Indonesia and the lives that have been affected by this earthquake.
Most of the students got done in a bout 30 min (which I expected), but is far longer than I thought some of them would last. I only got to around 1000 in the 40 mins we had for the activity.
It was hard even for me to stay focused that long. But in our post-activity we had some good discussion about the activity.
Most of the students were blown away by how large a number that really is, when they stopped to acknowledge each person all the way to 3000.
Overall it was great way to continuously pray, for a long time. I really hope you will get a chance to do this sometime this week or even pass it on to others, as we need to hold this region in prayer as their lives have been thrown into turmoil too many times in the last 18 months.
I thank you for your comments and discussion, I hope we can further look into this issue. Also feel free to post links to your own articles if you like.
With another major disaster in the world…is our first response to pray or to feel over burdened?
Hopefully we will pray and pray hard. Hopefully we will give, and give lots and without abandon.
Maybe we will put aside singing “patriotic” songs this sunday and sing songs of grief and sorrow and of hope.
You can find my sentiments about memorial day and church from last year here.
Well here’s the update. I’m good to go…well sorta.
I got my wi-fi card today in the mail. This started a chain of events that finally ended about 15 min ago.
When I first saw the box, I thought to my self, “oh crap”, you see the box they sent was for a fax modem from like 1993. Not exactly what I ordered. I almost had a fit, that I’d have to return the thing and wait another 2 weeks to get the right part. Luckily when I opened it was the right thing.
No CD with the driver though. So just one more thing that I had to do to make the thing work. After installing the driver, it didn’t work. Crappers. I tried again and again, no luck, couldn’t get the thing to work.
Finally my roommate Carlos showed up and I asked him for help, which I didn’t really want to do, because I would like to think that I’m smart enough to figure things out on my own. I feel ok now, since it turned out to be something out of my league. We tried a few different things, and eventually had to connect to the online HP support center and tried talking to a rep to see if they could troubleshoot the issue.
As with most tech support things we ran around in circles and I ended up feeling like I was being treated like someone who had no idea of what they were doing. Carlos and I did eventually get far enough to figure out that all we needed to do was install Windows Service Pack 2.
I have never really liked what came with service pack 2 and therefore didn’t ever find a reason that necessitated me installing it.
But for now that seemed like the only viable solution other than going out and buying another wi-fi card. So since after finally spending copious amounts of time downloading and installing service pack 2, things finally work and I’m back up to speed.
I’m pretty tired of this computer…as soon as I get a chance I’m going to get something new. Unless I do like Bob Hyatt and start begging for contributions for a new laptop. Though Bob’s actually got a good idea and I’m in no way inferring that he’s pathetic. Actually if you can help the guy out.
So it will be nice to be completely mobile again. Well there’s the update. Hopefully this will be the last down installment for a long time or until I can get a new machine.
In other news, Fridays off the 405, was really nice. It’s just a cool atmosphere. Next month I think we are going to bring our own bottle of wine and have a jolly good time with friends. You are more than welcome to join the fun.
In order to be more a part of what’s happening in LA I’ve wanted to start going out more. Do things and see things that make up the cultural scene in LA.
This event happens once a month and is an event usually with music and the getty being open later.
Also I’m super excited to hear Jimmy Tamborello do a DJ set. John Tejeda will also be spinning. There’s also a photo exhibit by Robert Adams that ends on sat so I’m glad I get to see that while I’m there.
If you live in around LA you should think about coming out. I’ll see you there.
I have this picture of a boat (photo by Joy White) on my office wall. It’s a black and white picture of a small older looking row boat that is faced towards the camera on one end and the other is pointed towards the water. The thing is that this boat is sitting on dry land. From the angle of the picture it doesn’t look like it’s broken, just that it hasn’t been used in some time.
As I look at this picture of a boat, caught somewhere between ready for use and abandonment, I think about my current state of ministry.
As I sat staring at the picture, the first image that popped into my head was of me in the boat just sitting there waiting for something to happen. As if the tide was out and would soon come back in, taking me out on the water. I soon came to realize that this was an incorrect perception of my current situation.
Next I thought to myself that the mere fact the boat was stuck on the sand if notion that I feel quite stuck in my ministry life right now. And the water is where I want to be.
But how do I go from being stuck to in the water, when there is no tide to pull me out?
Simply I would have to somehow get myself motivated and get the boat in the water myself. Then I might feel as if things were more fluid and not so stuck. At least I’d be able to go somewhere.
I next say myself standing a the end of the boat closest to me, trying to push the boat towards the water. One problem, it isn’t going anywhere. It’s too far up the sand to be able to drag it down to the water. It’s not huge, but just big enough to not be able to do it by myself.
I need help. I can’t do this on my own. After re-reading In the Name of Jesus (see post below), I was reminded of how ministry is meant to be done together. We are not meant to do this alone. Trying to carry ministry alone is like trying to eat soup with a fork. You may get some of the taste and maybe some of the chunks, but ultimately you miss most of the soup.
While I am not totally alone, and I am grateful for the help I have, I am missing the support and companionship of someone who is also in full-time ministry.
I guess if I could have it my way, I really do enjoy team ministry the best. A collaboration of people united around a singe task, all pooling their gifts and talents into ministry.
There are my hopes, my dreams, my frustrations, my sadness, my loneliness, my soul all encapsulated in the picture of a boat. I get so eager to see my boat get off the shore and into the water, that sometimes I forget that I know very little about how to operate one.
I may just need to stay a while longer, on the beach, looking at my boat, examining it, intimately knowing it, assessing and repairing it, before I even get others to venture out with me.
So here I remain. Standing, with my boat between me and the water, trying to hear God’s heart.
And if you haven’t already read yesterday’s post 1+0=1 about the church, relationships/sex and singles, then I strongly encourage you to. Join the discussion in the comments.
There is an official release date for the Simpsons season 8 on DVD.
Save AUGUST 15th 2006. In case you wanted to know this box will be the Maggie head.
Also I finally kinda learned how to solve the ever elusive Rubik’s Cube the other night. I spent probably in excess of 4 or 5 hours straight trying to hone my skills. And I can pretty much do it, with the aid of a cheat sheet but nonetheless one thing to knock of the list. If I had a list, that is.
Fast forward to Dec 30, 2005 and the post prodigal when I recieved notice that someone remembered that they had my copy.
Fast forward to May 22, 2006, I finally get my copy of the book in my hands. I’ve been dying to read it since early 2005, so more than a year later I finally got to do so yesterday.
Yes I could have bought a new one, and actually did, days before I got notice that someone remebered they had my book, but ultimately it came down to the copious amounts of notes that I have in my book that I am fond of.
All that, to say I am extremely happy that I have one of my all time favorite books. And after reading it again, I feel completely challenged and inadequate when it comes to my role as a pastor.
I hope to continue to read it monthly or more as I am always enamored by what Nouwen has to say about the role of christian leaders and how contary his values are to contemporary society.
I think it’s about time we as a church take a good hard look at what it means to be a single person within a Christian community. This largely comes from some conversations I’ve had with other single christians and from my own personal struggles.
Where to start?
I think a good place is with a few statements. I am 25 years old. I have little to no relationship experiences. There’s nothing really wrong with me, I just am kinda picky and really waiting for the right person to come along. My parents are divorced. I am adopted. I’m an asian guy who basically thinks he’s white (see identity). I really am looking forward to getting married one day. I desire to have children. And I’m for the most part ok with my singleness.
The church is really bad about talking about relationships, when it comes to singleness. We’re ok at talking about marriage, but that’s another post. We are even worse at talking about sex and single people.
Some basic things that have occurred since 1900. People started dating. No longer was courting the common practice after the turn of the century. As time progressed dating didn’t necessarily have to lead to marriage. The freedom to choose a mate became more available for both sexes. In the 20th and 21st centuries the average age for marriage continues to climb. With it now somewhere around 27 for women and 30 for men. Which also is influenced by a larger adolescence time span. With adolescence now starting at 10-12 and lasting anywhere between 18-30. Our bodies are biologically wired for sex between the ages of 11-15. While I do not disagree with the statement that sex is reserved for marriage, I think you begin to see that we have a huge problem if bodies are ready for sex at age 12 and these days people are waiting until their late 20′s to marry.
The church hasn’t/probably won’t address this anytime soon.
I hope to at least open the doors of conversation about how the church can start to talk about this issue.
Obviously this is close to my heart. Let me just say it is not easy being sexually inactive at 25. While there are many people who reserve sex for marriage, I know countless single christians who have not followed through on this responsibility. I’m not pointing any fingers (if you doubt me please read chaste ) nor do I mean to make those of you who may have had sex before marriage feel bad. This is not the point of this article. Personal restraint is one thing. Denial of a God given gift is torture. Especially when the majority of talk we hear from the pulpit and married christians is how great sex is, how precious it is to wait and so on and so forth.
I have a few issues with this.
First many of the people making the above statements are 1) married: it’s kind of easy to say you can’t have any cake when you are already eating some, 2) got married at a much younger age than I probably will, therefore making the time of abstinence shorter, which equals less frustration, 3) made sexual mistakes, i.e. pushed boundaries and/or crossed boundaries that they ask us to be subject to, which in a sense sets up a false expectation.
First of all I want the church to be willing to be honest in it’s sexual mistakes. It’s not the end of the world if you had sex before marriage, but please be willing to admit it if/when you talk about it to single people. Second, please talk more about sex and relationships in front of single people so we can have some idea of how to have healthy relationships and how to deal with the time that we are called to be single (don’t let Desprate Housewives be our only example of relationships). Thirdly, please recognize us as regular people, we are not sub-par if we are not married, we are not just waiting to be set up or enter into a relationship, we have lives that are full and fulfilling just like everyone else. Fourthly please acknowledge that is it becoming increasingly harder and harder to be single and remain faithful to sexual commitments.
Speaking personally, being single and having no outlet for sexual expression, can lead to dangerous and unhealthy habits. Frustration needs to be vented in order not to explode. About 1/2 of my friends are married, the other 35% are in serious relationships and only a mere 15% of my friends are single. In my house alone, out of the 4 guys, I am the only one who doesn’t have a girlfriend. I’m not saying that it’s their faults for having girlfriends, but it does something to a guy when he’s constantly around people in relationships. Cuddling, kissing, spending time together, leaves me feeling alone, awkward, like a 3rd wheel. It’s not their faults but it is a reality that I must face. And church has had nothing to say on how I should deal with this. There are days where I cope by dreaming about the day when I will wake up next to my spouse. I am hopeful, but probably not in the most healthy way. Each day I build up more and more unrealistic expectations about marriage and life with a woman, why? Because I have not had people explain to me what the day to day life of marriage is really like. The church needs to take responsibility for this demographic. Especially if they want to see us return to the seats on sunday mornings.
Please be warned. A “singles group” is not the answer to this problem, more often called a “meat market”. Church is not a dating service, and when you place 10-40 single, frustrated, alone, confused, un-educated people in a room together, you’re one spark away from blowing the powder keg.
By this point in my life, I can almost rationalize the thought, “I should just go have sex, I’ve waited this long. I really, really, really want to know what I’m missing out on. Especially since people keep building it up as, amazing, indescribable, the best thing ever, great, satisfying and so forth. And besides God will forgive me.”
I know this is not what God has in mind, and I know better, but let me just say, there are those days, when you don’t think you can take anymore.
How do we handle this? Really I don’t have a lot of answers. I have a lot of questions. And I want to spark a discussion and help people realize that is this a problem the church needs to acknowledge and confront.
The elongation of abstinence, the over sexualization of culture and the growing frustration of singles is something that the modern church desperately needs to look at, especially as we move further into a post-modern world.
Is there a good way for single christians to deal with sexual frustration in the midst of abstinence? Is masturbation as evil as we think it is? Is dating socially, good for people to experience? Or are we just being put through the “desert” as we wait for the promise that God has for us?
In looking back on my earlier years 16
-22 I would have liked to have seen churches initiate dinners with married people and a single people, no holds-barred, open conversation. Or perhaps more open discussion about what it really means to be a single person, from being a single teenager and what happens if you find yourself a single 20something or even beyond. I don’t think it is too early to talk to middle schoolers about relationships and how to have good ones. With hormones off the charts and their little brains trying to just barely understand what it means to like someone, doesn’t mean that we can’t talk to them about how to communicate or how to make sure a relationship is worth getting into before they start. For if we don’t talk about these kinds of things we doom ourselves to maintain a middle school mentality about relationships based on superficial qualities, which leads us to remain people who are unable to determine what qualities we truly value in a relationship.
If the church truly believes that youth are the future of the church or even better yet, part of church, then we need to do things that help any generation after us, lower the divorce rate and be able to enter into fulfilling and meaningful relationships. I think the fact that the divorce rate for christians and non-christians is pretty equal, speaks volumes to the fact that we must not be doing a very good job preparing people for marriage and especially since we hold it so highly and seem to think that christian marriages are somehow different from secular ones.
Is the church ready for this conversation? Is the church willing to own up to the fact that they probably have contributed to, instead of helped the divorce rate in america? Is the church willing to take seriously the task of talking about relationships and truly preparing people for them? As well as caring for those people who find themselves called to singleness and how to deal with the sexual allure of culture?
You tell me.
As always, I truly appreciate your thoughts and comments. I will try and be active responding and adding questions, please come back often and follow the discussion.