Tuesday, October 31, 2006


"The purpose of the church cannot be to survive or even to thrive but to serve. And sometimes servants die in the serving." -- Erwin McManus

and also this...

"Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first." -- Matthew 20:16

and this...

"It breaks God's heart that we are afraid of him, afraid of life, afraid of each other, afraid of ourselves."
-- Brennan Manning

thinking about...

"The secret is that God loves us exactly the way we are and the he loves us too much to let us stay like this, and I'm just trying to trust that." -- Anne Lamott

Friday, October 27, 2006

funny story

well, it's the eve of the big event (for those unfamiliar with the current obsession in my life...i'm talking about the art show) Tonight, I took the night off from 'work' and took my daughters to their fall dance at school and had to leave them with another mother for a few minutes to take my 7th grade son to his dance. I love that they want to hang out with their friends, but it still feels so strange to see them so separate from me -- they are their own people...it's a weird feeling.

So, my funny story?

My funny story starts with a guilty confession. I am a fan of Rachael Ray. I am a fan of her hyperactive morning talk show, too. I tape the show every day and then when I have some time during the week I watch them all (i fast forward through all the commercials and all the segments i don't care about) Last week I got online to order tickets for my birthday month and while I was browsing around on the site, I found a place where they listed topics for upcoming shows and invited viewers to send in their own stories about the topics. One of the topics listed was "Do You Want a Proposal Do-Over?"

Someday, if you'd like I can tell you the story of Brian's proposal (hint: it involves 7-up, pretzels and a gas pump) It's a funny story. I'm glad I married him. I wouldn't want it any other way, but I wouldn't mind a do-over on the proposal. So I sent my whole story.

A few days later, we were all sitting around the family room and the phone rang. Alex grabbed the phone and said, "Mom, it's the Rachael Ray show!" They wanted to check on my story and get a few more details. I was laughing so much and was so nervous that I could hardly talk. The other funny part was that I hadn't told Brian about sending the email and he couldn't figure out why the Rachael Ray show called and I was running down the hall to hide in the bedroom while talking with the guy from the show.

Anyway, the guy told me that my story would be set aside for the producers to see and they'd call me back. So, who knows?!?

that's my funny story.
more details later...

Monday, October 23, 2006


Wow! This has been a busy and intense ministry season.

The leadership at UCCC has been teaching a series titled, "Broken", about our sexual and relational wounding and brokenness.

Again I say...Intense.

They had asked the Creative Arts team -- which I serve as Director -- to provide several dramatic and visual elements for the series. In conjunction, we are holding our first-ever art show which happens to be ...NEXT WEEKEND!! (Yikes!) Today, I'm posting the prospectus about the theme.

I have just been immersed in this theme for several weeks (in reality -- the whole year) because I have also been co-leading a small group in CrossCurrent -- the program that the Broken series is adapted from. I have never in my life been exposed to so many stories of brokenness and yet been so full of hope for people. If you know me at all, you know that this is an absolute transformation in my life. I am thankful.

At the same time, God has exposed more of my own brokenness than ever before in my journey with Him...and still I am full of hope ( exhausted, maybe, but full of hope).

Here are my thoughts about living in the tension of brokenness and hope.

Art Show 2006 PROSPECTUS: "Broken"

"Broken things are worthless in the world, but broken things God can not resist." -- McDonald

It is not an accident that the theme chosen for the Art Show can be viewed from several
different angles. Hold this concept up to the light and, like a kaleidoscope, turn it round and
round. The colors and shapes of the fragments will fascinate you.

Broken, the word, can be used from a place of grief, as in 'my heart is broken.' Or it can be
used to express gospel humility, as in 'The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.' (NASB, Psalm 51:16-18)

It can describe failure in our lives: 'my marriage is broken,' or freedom from prison or slavery:
'This is the kind of fast day I'm after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts.' (The Message, Isaiah 58:6)
Broken can also describe the physical damage of an object -- your son's favorite toy or your
checking account. Turn the lens again and we see broken used in one of the Bible's most
compelling narratives of surrender and worship, 'While He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head.' (NASB, Mark 14:2-4)
In the context of the CrossCurrent sermon series, the word broken defines the relational
and sexual sins and wounds that have made up the patterns of our lives. We have been
damaged physically, emotionally and spiritually by the sin in us and around us. As the imago
, the image of God, we are not what God intended us to be. We are broken.

But there is hope. Great hope.

'With the cross before us, we are reminded that life has broken through all the deadly loves
of the old self. We live out of the new and true self. The cross reminds us that we are
greater than the sum total of our brokenness.' -- Andrew Comiskey, author of CrossCurrent

Broken does not lose its meaning for us once we receive Christ's gift of healing and

Turn the lens again, adjust the light, and you see, 'The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a
broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.' (NASB, Psalm 51:17)

'One of our central core-values at Union Center is 'brokenness.' This is not referencing the
damage of our lives, which may be plentiful, but rather an attitude of teachability, humility
and obedience to the Spirit.' -- Dr. John Hawco, senior pastor at Union Center
In this light, broken describes the beauty of a life that is characterized by compassion,
forgiveness, humility and surrender.

'The Lord Jesus cannot live in us fully and reveal Himself through us until the proud self
within us is broken. This simply means that the hard unyielding self which justifies itself,
wants its own way, stands up for its rights, and seeks its own glory at last bows its head to
God's will, admits its wrong, gives up its own way to Jesus, surrenders its rights and discards
its own glory -- that the Lord Jesus might have all and be all.' -- Roy Hession, The Calvary Road
And, in this light, all the fragments and all the colors of the kaleidoscope draw our eyes to
our Savior -- the God-man who was broken for us. 'The Master, Jesus, on the night of his
betrayal, took bread. Having given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body, broken for you. Do this to remember me.'
After supper, he did the same thing with the cup: 'This cup is my blood, my new covenant with you. Each time you drink this cup, remember me.' -- (The Message, 1 Corinthians 11:23)
Practically, we want to invite you to pray over this theme. Study the word from different
angles, holding it up to the light of your personal experience. Get on www.biblegateway.com and do a word search -- see how God treats this concept in the Scriptures. Talk to a friend, explore a new medium, look through your portfolio in a fresh way. There is no specific requirement for the artists except that one of the pieces be submitted under the theme Broken, and that you provide a statement of how that artwork reflects the theme.

Above all, I encourage you to speak truth through your art. Avoid the temptation to draw
and paint and sculpt something 'Christian' or 'churchy.' Jesus became man and walked
through the stuff of earth without ever losing His deity. In the same way, He is able to take
the stuff of your artwork and reveal Himself through it.

I am praying for you. I am asking God to encourage us and guide us and protect us as we
take this risk of revealing the imago dei in each one of us. Most of all, I am asking Him to
bring great fame to His name through our obedience and vulnerability.

Ever your biggest fan,

Friday, October 13, 2006

autumn in Conklin

I've been coming home late in the evening all week.
I wanted to tell you what makes me cry every time I drive by...
Halloween lights on the front steps of a FEMA trailer

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

You Are a Piece of Work...

I loved this article I found on Relevant Magazine's website. (love the picture of the church looking like Jackson Pollock's studio!!)

You Are a Piece of Work
Rob Merrill

Have you ever encountered the phenomenon called the Christian bookstore? Jesus is everywhere. He is on witty coffee mugs, flashlight pens, Thomas Kincaid calendars and Testamints. Devotionals and political material are available for mom, dad and even the kids. It reminds me of Psalm 119 when David asked where he could flee from God’s presence. Is the merchandise in our local family Christian store the Church’s best attempt at revealing God these days?

The ancient city of Ephesus in Asia Minor took a similar approach in presenting their goddess Artemis. Ephesus, like the United States, was a melting pot where the East met the West, so it shouldn’t be surprising that Artemis was a conglomeration of ancient goddesses. Her roles included protector of small animals, eternally virginal mother goddess and other such illustrious matriarchal titles. Like the God of the pop-Christian bookstore, Artemis offered something for everyone.

A whole month was devoted to her, called the Artemisia, during which a million worshippers would make the pilgrimage to Ephesus. The Ephesian silversmiths were famous for making the best representations of Artemis. During the festivities, these silver statues would be taken from Artemis’s temple, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and paraded through the city while crowds shouted, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

I can identify with the Ephesians, who made statues to worship, as well as the Christian bookstores that try to market a savior. My labors as an evangelist have been marked by afternoons handing out tracts to San Francisco tourists, “winning friends and influencing people for Christ” by handing out free soda, and even (don’t tell anyone!) performing in dramas narrated by Carmen songs. All this, I thought, added up to being a contagious Christian. But, to be honest, I saw very little spiritual transformations result from these activities.

Paul had a different idea for the Ephesian Christians than the frenzied marketing of their faith. He wrote, ““You are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which he appointed for you to do” (Ephesians 2:10). The word workmanship comes from the Greek "poema," where we get our words poem and artwork. In one sentence Paul turned conventional thinking on its head, telling a city famous for making art of deities that God wanted to make artwork of them.

But it turns out (and I bet my Ephesian brothers would agree with me) that it’s much harder to submit to God shaping His image in me than it is to shape my image into Him. Maybe this is why God gives us a choice to accept or reject him as the artist. It isn’t easy. God’s holiness sheds light on all our fear, anger, loneliness and lies. We begin to stand out and become different and unique, recognized by the scars of our past and birthmarks we can’t scrub off. And He prefers doing this in the context of community? That’s scary! I imagine all the Church might look like Jackson Pollock’s studio. Paint and passion spilled all over the rooms. And hope for beauty.

In community, we learn a frightening but empowering truth—that the great tragedy of rejecting God as your sculptor isn’t just what you lose, but what we miss out on seeing through you. In his poem W.H. Auden wrote:

God may reduce you to tears
On Judgment Day
As He recites by heart
The poems you would have written
Had your life been good.

There’s no science to being putty in God’s hands, but a great painting (like a great life or a dynamic community) can’t be rushed. It requires many coats and shades of paint, and at several points in the process the art looks ready for the trashcan. But then, another set of finishing touches and all of a sudden it is breathtaking. We have to be able to endure those moments of feeling garbage-worthy, knowing our Creator to use every layer of paint to make the end result all the more beautiful. It just takes time.
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