Saturday, December 18, 2004

Balance

I've been thinking recently about how to find balance in my life. How do I live the words of Jesus to be a servant-leader, to be dead to live, to be last to be first. I believe that the only way is to strive for balance. Not just equilibrium, where everything is carefully alloted into it's place, but balance that exists in the changing world; balance that is constantly being upset.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Walter Brueggemann

Last night I got to so and hear Walter Brueggemann speak at a church in Memphis. For those of you who don't know, he is one of the top theologians in the United States today.

I won't get too in depth about what he spoke about, but I will share a few highlights:
  • The power unleashed by the ressurrection is a threat to those in authority. It signifies a 'regime change.'
  • When Jesus conquered death he "unleashed health in the world."
  • "We celebrate that the mystery of Easter contradicts the way we thought we would live our life."

I have yet to process through all of the things that he said, but I just needed to share my excitement at such an opportunity.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Regrets

For our first holiday season as a married couple we took the advice of some people and didn't spend time with either of our families. The idea was to begin setting our own traditions and to avoid conflict over where we would go.

I now regret it. I will never get to have a Thanksgiving or Christmas with my father-in-law. I will never go to Napenthe's with the whole family the week after Christmas. That is forever lost to me and I regret it deeply.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Lost

Where is the balance? Where is the ‘happy medium’ between the extremes? How do I grieve for my Father-in-law but still get on with my life? How do I get on with my life without forgetting?

My wife and I are thousands of miles away from the rest of her family. We don’t have the face to face contact or the task of sorting through Doug’s things and cleaning out his office. We don’t have the opportunities to remember and to grieve. I feel like we are too far away to feel sometimes. Sure we will have moments of memory, but they don’t bring back the sharp pain of loss. It’s muted. It’s distant.

I have done quite a few things since Doug’s loss to try to remember him. He was an incredibly active man and he had just left the track where he was running (at 60 years old) when he was hit. I have started running and working out. I know he would like that. He was encouraging me to join Toastmasters, and I have done that. I know he’s proud. He always told me he was proud of me, just like he said to his own children. And it always made me want to work harder to make him proud.

Doug, you’re lost to us, but you have found rest and a home; save us a spot.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Toastmasters

For those of you who don't know Toastmasters is an organization that is designed to help people increase their communication skills. It is primarily designed for the corporate environment, but it is useful for anyone who needs to communicate verbally (any monks taking a vow of silence need not apply). It is something that my Father-in-law had been suggesting that I join, but I put it off since I had other things to do. Since he died I have been thinking about ways to honor him and to carry on some of his legacy, so I have joined a local Toastmasters club.

It is stretching me not only to meet non-Christians, but also to examine the way that I speak to everyone. I have become more aware of my words and the impact that they have on the message that I am trying to send. In any ministry job my words are my tools. How well I use my tools determines how well I do my job. More importantly, my use of words can determine the picture that people have of God. I know that God can use me in spite of what I say, but shouldn’t I be removing the obstacles to God’s work in my life?

Friday, October 15, 2004

How seriously do we take God?

I have struggled with this question for a long time. I don't think I will stop struggling any time soon. If I believe that God is almighty and that he hears my prayers - why don't I pray for big things. I'm not talking about winning the lottery; I'm talking about healing people, about radically changing people's hearts, about miraculously providing for his people. You know why I don't pray for God to break in to my mundane reality? Because I'm scared; I'm scared that it won't happen and my faith will be in nothing. I'm scared that it won't happen and my faith will be proven weak. I'm scared that it will happen and my life will be proven inadiquate for such a God.

Richard Foster in The Celebration of Discipline suggest that we don't try to pray for the big things right away. We need to work our faith in the small things before we are ready for the big things. We need to pray for God to heal our cold and see that he is faithful before we pray for God to heal cancer. He also suggested praying with your imagination. Picturing Jesus standing over the person that you are praying for and placing his hands on them and letting his light and glory flow into them and over them and through them. Imagine that Jesus envelops them with pure love and light and that their cold is fleeing his power. Then imagine them feeling much better and breathing clearly. Imagine what God can do.

. . .

Monday, October 04, 2004


The beginning of "Jonah" Posted by Hello

... Posted by Hello

Mike Cope refers to the painting as he speaks. Posted by Hello

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"Jonah lost at sea" Posted by Hello

Jack and Jill Maxwell with "Jonah" Posted by Hello

"He Hideth My Soul in the Cleft of the Rock" Posted by Hello

almost done . . .  Posted by Hello

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The picture develops . . .  Posted by Hello

Jack and Jill Maxwell at Zoe 2004 start painting while Mike Cope speaks. Posted by Hello

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Churches like Starbucks(es)

One of the half-dozen or so books that I am reading right now is Pour Your Heart Into It by Howard Schultz. He is the current CEO of Starbucks and pretty much the guy who got them where they are today. I picked up this book after thinking about the amazing success of Starbucks and wonding if it could be applied to churches.

Not everything will translate over, but a lot of his ideas ring true and can be applied to churches. He writes about giving all employees health benefits and stock options, because their entire company rests on the work of their lowest employee. His goal is to give the best benefits so he can draw the best people and keep them.

In the church, the majority of the work needs to happen at the 'ground floor' so to speak. It is not the job of the preacher or the elders to make everything happen. People ought to be invited and informally taught by every member of the church. There is no special class of Christian.

In order to get this message across to the church, maybe we should use the idea of stock options. I'm not suggesting that churches 'go public' and start trading on Wall Street. What I am getting at is that stock options give employees ownership of their company and that motivates them to work harder, because they aren't just working for the boss anymore. Members of the church need to take ownership of the church, but for them to do that it needs to first be given to them. I can't start a church that is my baby. I need to let the church be built and grown by the members so that they know from the beginning that it is their church and not mine.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

In memory of Douglas Alan Thompson


My father-in-law went home on September 7th. He will be missed.

Our lives have been consumed with a trip to California for the funeral and getting caught back up in Memphis with all of the work/school we missed. We have been overwhelmed with support and love from the people here in Memphis. Our church family (who have known us for about 2 months) have provided food and friends and just about everything we could think of. It has been an amazing testimony to the connection that exists in the body of Christ.