Is there merit in saying this? That we get too caught up in our feelings, especially regarding worship. Whether our worship is for God matters a good deal. But whether or worship comes from a feeling of God’s righteousness and goodness, that’s irrelevant. To paraphrase Eugene Peterson, our feelings come as a result of true worship to God, not the other way around. We get so tied in knots trying to summon some kind of emotional response before we praise God. Continue reading
I love this quote: “”If you think about church, there’s very little that’s bad. It’s singing awesome songs, hearing interesting talks, thinking about improving yourself and helping other people — and doing that in a community with wonderful relationships. What part of that is not to like?” This comes from an atheist named Sanderson Jones. Jones and his partner Pippa Evans are two British comedians who started Sunday Assemblies. Sunday Assemblies are “atheist mega-churchs” that draw atheists together for camaraderie of a congregation without religion or ritual.
If atheists view the church this way, why are we so quick to criticize? Yes, criticism does help make us better and less quirky but at our core the Church is God’s chosen way to interact with His people. We do get it right more often than not. Does it really take an atheist to help us to see that?
I blog a whole lot about the past. It’s probably because the present isn’t really anything to blog about at the moment, and maybe I’m just an overly nostalgic, past-looking person. It probably gets annoying just hearing about my past all the time. And I will admit–I’m obsessed with the past. My own past, the past of the country and of the world and of humans…history. I love history.
History tangent aside, fifth grade was the beginning of everything. If life is a book, I’d probably consider that the inciting event after a ten-year exposition. Although everyone grows a little every year, I feel like many people have a year where they “really grew up.” Fifth grade was that year for me. I got my big-kid eyes. The obnoxious kid I was at the beginning of September was nothing like the shy-ish girl in June.
It’s not like everyone actively sought me out and attacked me the whole year. It wasn’t like that. In fact, for the first few months of the school year, nobody really talked about me at all. I’d walk by and get the classic eye-roll. People just walked away from me. I was pushed out of groups. For those months, nobody went out of their way to hurt me–they just excluded me and showed a general contempt for me. A quiet contempt. For me, that was almost as bad–feeling like I was too crappy to even be crapped on. Continue reading
I didn’t feel the need to be anyone different than myself. I was Abigail, and I was happy with that girl. My writing wasn’t generally dark or sad. Overall, I loved third grade. Sometimes I wonder if my entire life peaked that year, at eight years old, but I know that’s silly.
So, you’d wonder why I decided to completely remake myself into “Abigail 2.0: the cool kid” going into fourth grade. I wonder, too. Suddenly, I wasn’t “sweet little writer princess” anymore; I was “sassy class clown kid.” I think I was obnoxious, honestly, but I don’t think my classmates thought so. And if they were, I was too oblivious to know or care. It was me and this other boy–we were the loud, funny ones. We were unashamed. Unafraid. I had spunk.
I’ve just re-read yet again How Wow: Boost Your Youth Ministry Creativity written by Jeff White. It is published from Group Publishing. Once again I find this is the one youth ministry resource book I go to again and again and again.
I have never understood why I don’t hear more about this book so I’m going to talk about it. Basically Jeff White gives us a short book of reasons to brainstorm ideas for your youth ministry so it is unique to your church and the gifting of your leadership team. The reasons are inspirational and open vs. authoritative and cookie-cutter. Plus you are given at least 30 brainstorming ideas! 30 creative ways to get your group thinking outside the box and dreaming dreams for your youth ministry!! The ideas alone are worth the price of the book. And while some of the examples have become dated over the years, the ideas work.
It was originally published back in 2004 which puts it out of print through Group. The good news is now you can pick it up for cheap at Amazon, probably from some other youth worker who never understood the value of these creative ideas. That is your gain.
I don’t have “normal” nightmares (whatever normal is). I’m never chased by drooling monsters or ogres. I don’t end up in a cannibalistic tribe at lunch hour. My nightmares, at least for the past three years, have been memories of things that have actually happened or realistic experiences creating the same feelings to arise as actual events that have happened.
Last night, I had one of these nightmares–not of one specific event that has actually happened, but more of a combination of several events and feelings I have had. I was at a sleepover. Of course. (If you haven’t read all my posts, I haven’t had a generally good experience with sleepovers–at least not until three months ago.) I was my current age–fourteen–but with the logic and reasoning of my ten-year-old self. Everything was going well at first. As time wore on, however, I began sensing that something was not quite right. Why was there so much hushed giggling? Why were the girls not interacting with me? How come every time I said something, all the guests would exchange glances and stifle laughter?
I knew, when I walked into the kitchen, that everything I’d feared was true. Two of the guests were whispering. “I know, right? It’s like, she’s such a freak. Nothing she does makes sense. Nobody cares about her.” Something broke in me at that moment. I whirled around, instantly in tears, and began screaming between gasps and sobs. “I was finally starting to accept sleepovers, but you ruined everything! How could you do this to me?!”
My mom has been big on health cereals for as long as I can remember. So, it’s no surprise I actually used to enjoy all the 7-grain rice kernel and oat clusters. When I was at a certain age (I don’t remember how old), she gave in and started buying us Lucky Charms.
There was no turning back. I had begun my journey of unhealthy eating. Lucky Charms were only the gateway to a long list of sugary cereals–Trix, Cocoa Puffs, Fruit Loops, Apple Jacks–the worst was Cookie Crisp. It’s considered unacceptable to take a handful of Chips Ahoy and pour milk over them, but that’s what Cookie Crisp is, essentially.
One health cereal survived the competition, the ever-growing craving I had for sweets. Triple Berry-O’s. Triple Berry-O’s were just that–Cheerio-like oat circles with dried raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries mixed in. They were delicious, but had one terrible flaw. The berries would always settle to the bottom of the box. I’d pour myself a bowl, only to get a mound of blah-blah-boring Cheerios. I’d keep pouring with no better results. Eventually, I’d declare the entire box of cereal a dud and threaten to throw it away. As more people ate of the dud box, however, more and more berries would show up, until there would be handfuls of dried tastiness at the bottom of the box. Continue reading
I wrote a Pair of Cleat back in 2009 called “The Homelanders Rebellion.” The gist was how safe and sanitized this upcoming generation is and will that lead to some brave decisions to really live their faith. One favorite line of mine, “Many youth ministry decisions have been made to give teens a safe place and we’ve offered them a safe God in those safe places. Again, with good intentions. But as Mr. Beaver’s famous line about Aslan is, “’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. I’m not contradicting the great resource book, Better Safe Than Sued, here. We need to make safe decisions so teens don’t get injured on our watch. But our teens do not need a safe God.”
The Homelanders is becoming the name of choice for those born after 9/11. The oldest members are now entering middle school. A culture watcher, Matt Straz, has created a list of characteristics for Homelanders for MediaPost.com. This one characteristic gets me very excited. It is:
“Loyal soldiers. Like the Silent Generation that followed the heroic GI Generation, Homelanders will operate in the shadow of the massive Millennial generation. As a result, the Homeland generation will lack leadership opportunities and may not produce any U.S. presidents. But they will play an important role in history. Like the Apollo astronauts, Homelanders will execute the grand plans of their Millennial leaders.” Continue reading
Tonight I went and saw some old Hebrew scrolls with friends. I expected to see, you know, a couple of old scrolls here and there, in a very informal kind of presentation. Instead what I saw was at least 16 unique scrolls, going as far back in their origin as the 1400s (or as recent as 2008). As it turns out, this collection was (truly) the only one of its kind, fulfilling in its entirety all of what we would call the Old Testament in kosher scrolls. Very hard to find. The Vatican claims to have several of such collections, but last I checked, the Vatican doesn’t have the most open-door policy toward college students. Or anyone, ever.
I saw a scroll of Esther, with the names of Haman’s sons enlarged so as to remind the reader that messing with God’s people is a serious offense.
I saw a Torah scroll from a Hebrew kindergarten, stabbed through five times by Nazi bayonets, rescued from the Nazis and hidden by a Jewish grandmother until such a time as it was safe to possess the word of God.
I saw a THIRTY-FIVE POUND TORAH SCROLL, made of unbroken deer skin. Continue reading
I don’t know about you, but the play places were always the best part of eating at fast food restaurants. No limp cheeseburger or poorly-designed Kim Possible toy could ever compare to the feeling of sticky plastic under my clean socks. Play places were unequaled. Unparalleled. Unsurpassed. Wriggling through the brightly-colored tunnels, I was Queen of McDonald’s. Nobody could stop me.
The sound of my mother’s call would interrupt my reign. I knew it before she finished her sentence–Daddy had finished eating. The greasy burger paper and french fry pouches had been thrown away, the chairs tucked back up against the table. Obediently, I began squeezing past other ambling children to reach the slide, which would ultimately take me into the shoe cubby area and out of the play place. All would be going well until I failed to find the slide entrance. I could look out and see the shoe cubbies and eating areas, but I couldn’t find my way out. I was, to put it simply, stuck. As time wore on, my melodramatic side kicked in. I started wondering about having to spend the rest of my life in the play place. Would the cleaning staff throw me cold french fries up through the slide? How would I ever grow up and get married to a perfect Prince Charming? Would I have to kiss a stale strip of salted potato and hope it could be able to magically turn into a man to rescue me?
When you really think about it, life isn’t much different from these play places. Sometimes we’re searching and searching for something and end up walking in circles, wondering how we can ever escape our cramped place of frustration. We might begin to get a little stale or sour, like–well–french fries or Happy Meal milk. Hope exists, but it seems so unreachable, just like how I felt looking down through the smudged plastic windows.