Friday, May 25, 2007

sometimes i just need to hear stuff i don't understand

to my American friends (living in the country) I pose a question:
Do you ever get tired of hearing the English language?

I know that I do. Some days I simply long to hear something I don't understand. Today it's African languages. Thanks to the wonder of the Internet, iTunes allows me to listen to an African radio station. Some days I find stations from the Caribbean, or - if I'm feeling particularly homesick - from the Netherlands. It all depends on my mood.

But it all boils down to the fact that I get tired of hearing the English language spoken with American accents. I love foreign languages, and hearing them - even though I have no idea what the people are saying - settles my spirit in a way that I don't totally understand and can't begin to explain.
I just know that it works. And today, African languages seem to be working the best.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

which way?

how do you decide on a direction when there's no clear answer from God? when both (or all) choices would be good?
How do you know which way is right? Is there a "right" way? Is there a "wrong" way?
My heart is torn, and if I had to decide today which direction to take my life... there's no way I could choose.
Either choice is good (great actually). Either choice would also mean saying 'no' to something or someone that's gotten into my heart. Either choice would mean saying 'yes' to some possibilities but 'no' to some others.

A year ago, I thought I knew. But then things changed. And I don't know if the changes are from God, or if they're just a really good distraction.

Have I been distracted, or re-directed? How do I know? What's the difference? Is there a difference? Will God somehow make room and time in my life for both?

Two dreams. Two directions. Tremendous good can come from saying yes to either one. Tremendous sorrow would come from saying no.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

What do we really want?

I was struck by a thought last night:
I don't think the Church knows what it really wants.

I know we tell people what we want: we want to see people establish and grow in their relationships with God, we want to see people healed and set free.

But do we?..... Really?....

I hear a lot of local churches talk about wanting to be "the Acts 2 church", which sounds like a good goal. After all, the believers whose stories are told in the book of Acts gathered together every day. They prayed, worshiped, gave generously and served sacrificially. They also grew exponentially. God added to their numbers daily.

And while it sounds noble to say we want to be like the Acts 2 church, I think that what we really mean is that we want to grow like the Acts 2 church. We want the numbers. And so we develop strategies and launch marketing campaigns, trying to "get the word out" about who we are and what we do. We try to develop web sites and print material that are unique and edgy, and that show people that we're different... "this church is different, and here's why".

But here's the thing... the whole world is marketing something. Everyone is trying to sell something. Whether it's a car, a mortgage, or a hamburger.... Our fancy fliers and postcards are simply added to the stack of advertisements that people receive in the mail everyday. We're using the same strategies and techniques as the rest of the world, to try and convey the message that we're different than the rest of the world. And in doing so, we look just like the rest of the world.

So what if we just stopped? What if the time, effort, and money we put into fliers and postcards and posters was used for something else? What if we really became like the Acts 2 church and simply served people? Radically, generously, sacrificially served people? What if we showed up in the same neighborhoods week after week and offered free car washes? Free bottles of water on hot summer days? Free coffee on cold winter days? What if we unconditionally offered to fix someone's broken front door - for free? What if we helped an elderly woman cover her windows in the winter to keep the drafts out? What if - like the Acts 2 church - we gathered in a public place to worship? (Notice that the Acts 2 church didn't have their own building. They went to Temple to worship and pray.)

It seems like Western churches have fallen into the trap of trying to market a product. But Jesus isn't a product. He's a Person. So what if we stopped all the fancy campaigns, all the pretty postcards, and all the "edgy" posters, and simply got to know people - and in the process helped them get to know Jesus? What if we stopped relying on how we look and started trusting in Who He is, and who we are in Him?