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Archive for September 2007

Volleyball Rerun

One of our interns invited me to play volleyball this week. It has been years since I have played – for real. You know, theres always volleyball at the picnic or the family-reunion-at-the-beach, but there is a big difference between that and the real thing. There was a day when I played quite well – on the University of Illinois men’s club team. But it is hard to find a great game for a guy who ‘used to be good.’ So, it’s been about 10 years since I really played.
But based on a great recommendation I showed up to play. It was great! 3 on 3 with some good players – good enough to be real fun, but not so good that I felt left in the dust. My level of play – adequate, but not impressive. Good enough to be on the floor…
Now, I had to make some serious adjustments. Being a bit more gravitationally challenged than I once was, I found my vertical leap had decreased to all of 2.7 inches. Jumping was wierd, timing was off and my right quad got so sore that it just about burst off of my leg. But it was fun…tons of fun. I forgot what it was like for exercise to just be fun.
For the past few years, I have been ‘working out’ to ‘stay fit’, but it has not been fun. It’s a discipline that I wake up early to do because it is good for me. Ellipticals, stairmasters, freeweights…ton’s of pain. But volleyball is different. I was so distracted by the sheer enjoyment of the sport that I didn’t even think about the exercise until I was recovering after the games. This is what it is like when exercise is really good. You’re distracted by the joy of it all.
I think that’s what its like when the spiritual life is really good too. It is not just a discipline that you do because it is good for you, like eating lima beans. When you get caught up with God, and love and justice and community and the kingdom…it just feels great AND you look back and found that spiritual development was happening without really knowing it.

What is success?

I had a random thought hit me today as I laid in a catatonic state on the couch while channel surfing.

“Sunday afternoon is all about winning.”

That thought got me thinking about winning and success. Last month I had a discussion with the CCC-Sarpy launch team. Our conversation revolved around answering the question, “What does success look like at CCC-Sarpy?”

Success was described as being a place that is…

  • reflective of the community demographics
  • known for dynamic, interactive worship
  • a place where meaningful relationships and community occurs
  • intentional in helping people on their spiritual journey
  • known for community service
  • a gathering of “other minded” servants

The list above is not exhaustive, but it is descriptive of what should happen at CCC-Sarpy to be “successful.”

Pray with me that God can use us to be “successful” in CCC-Sarpy.

On the Journey,
Steve

Teenage Dad

Today marks the first day of Autumn, 2007…it also marks the first day of a new era for me.
You see, my oldest son turned 13 today. Even as I blog, seven hormonally charged adolescents are in the basement making a ruckus at the birthday bash. Oh, man, a thirteen year old really has the world by the tail.

This means, though, that I am a parent of a teenager. Since my youngest is only four, that means I will be the parent of a teenager every day for the next 15 years. God help me.
From pickup-hoops to post-prom-parties, from braces to broken hearts, from competitions to colleges, the next 15 years will be a challenge and a blast. I wish I had some sober reflections on what this means, some intelligent insight on parenting teens, some passionate ideas about ‘how I’ll do it right’, but it is all blank, just blank. It is the same feeling I had about thirteen years ago when I brought that baby home in his little illini sleeper. (incidentally, today he won’t wear the Orange and Blue…another parenting failure….)

OK, back to my thoughts in 1994. “What in the world am I going to do? How can I be entrusted with this amazing little package? I sure am glad I have a wife. I hope she knows how to raise this thing. I wonder if she is thinking the same thing about me.?”
Life is like an unfolding novel that gets written every day. Looking forward it all seems real intimidating. Looking back, it all just kinda worked out. It did. I realize that as stressed as I was, God was really in control and he is doing good things all the time. Maybe I can chill out more on the next fifteen year parenting cycle than I did on the first thirteen.

On a different note, being a parent of a teen can make you feel old. Seems like my kids milestones make me feel older than my own do! But as all the 13-ers were playing spoons, making body noises, and shooting each other with marshmallows, they also compared their dads ages. Old, old, old…except me…still the youngest dad in this crowd…not even 40? YES!

Dating a Death

One of our web fans writes:
Hey Mark! Today, a few of my friends and I were talking about the apostle Paul. We couldn’t figure out between all of us how he died! I thought maybe he died in prison, someone thought he was crucified, and others thought he died a natural death…do you have any idea?
-L.F.

Thanks for asking, L.F!
Actually, the Bible does not tell us when or how Paul died. There are no references in the history of the time either. What we do have primarily is Church tradition.
From the Bible, we know that Paul was still alive, in Roman house arrest, in A.D. 63, when the book of Acts was written. We can also see that from Romans 15:28 that Paul intended to get to Spain. But we don’t really know if he ever made it.
Eusebius, an early church father, (4th century) relates the idea that Paul was beheaded by Nero in 64-65 AD. 1 Clement, (about 100 AD) however, relates that Paul preached in the “East and the West.” This leads us to believe that he made it to Spain and continued ministry. Some even think that Paul wrote his last letter (2 Timothy) as late as 67 A.D. certainly from some kind of prison, not just house-arrest. In this theory, his death, again at the hands of Nero, could be as late as 67-68.
Interestingly, an ancient Catholic tradition solemnly celebrates the death of both Peter and Paul on June 29. Some think they were killed on the same day…possibly the same year.

The truth is that it is a matter of debate – and probably always will be.

Just like me?

I had lunch a while back with a guy who was troubled by some parts of messages at CCC. He said “At first, I was very suspicious when you said ‘I want this to be the kind of church that welcomes people from all backgrounds – atheists, gays, prostitutes, democrats, the greedy, depressed and spiritually confused.’ Then…I got why you were saying this! You want to make THEM more like US!”

After recalibrating myself for I a moment, I caught myself and said. “No, I want to help them become more like Jesus. And by the way, I want to help YOU become more like Jesus too.”

I still don’t know if he took it to heart. But I do know that this is what we are all about – becoming more like Jesus and helping others to explore, meet Jesus and come to know him in the deepest way.

And it is still true -> regardless of your background, regardless of your past, regardless of your sin level or your intelligence level, regardless of your biases or how you’ve been hurt, you are welcome to explore God, faith and spirituality at CCC.

Something Bigger

I have a quote on the inside of my calendar. A statement that I found myself nodding in agreement when I first read it.

Every person desires to be part of something bigger than themselves.”

This quote from Peter Drucker identifies what many in society are wanting. To matter. To contribute. To be appreciated. To have purpose in life.

I truly believe this multi-site offers an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than yourself in two ways. First, CCCSarpy will allow individuals to volunteer and get involved. A place where they can offer their giftedness to help the church. Secondly, CCCSarpy will also be a beacon of hope to those who are lacking spiritual direction. This location in Bellevue will be able to reach more people who are in need of encouragement and help those who feel they have a gaping spiritual hole in their life that needs to be filled with something bigger than themselves.

The reality of Christianity is that to become bigger, you must become smaller. John 3.30 quotes the Apostle John saying,

He [Jesus] must become greater and greater, I must become less and less.”

These two quotes summarize the kind of life I want to have. I want to be part of something bigger than myself and more importantly, that Jesus is more noticeable in my life to others and I am becoming less noticeable.

That is my prayer for CCCSarpy.

On the Journey,
Steve

P.S. this blog is being done remotely because our server for CCC is not working. If you received an email from me this past Thursday notifying you of an upcoming Friday night and Saturday morning [Sept 7-8] multi-site seminar led by Jim Tomberlin, please call the church office at 330-3360 to RSVP and let us know if you can attend either one or both sessions. We hope to have the server running by this Wednesday.