Shall I abandon the comforts and benefits of my home,
seeking the island of promise our fathers knew long ago,
sail on the face of the deep where no riches or fame
or weapons protect you, and nobody honours your name?
Shall I take leave of my native land,
tears in my eyes
as my knees mark my final prayer in the sand?
King of the mysteries, will you watch over me?
Christ of the mysteries, can I trust You on the sea?
Christ of the heavens,
and Christ of the ravenous ocean wave,
I will hold fast to my course
through the dangers I must brave.
King of mysteries, angels will watch over me,
Christ of the mysteries, when I trust You on the sea.
Having dabbled with book reviews on this blog in the past (and having decided to leave that task to others) I figured instead I would from time to time list the books I've been reading with a quick word about each. This recent collection is overwhelmingly faith-based – especially relating to my interest in re-imagining expressions of Christian community in Phoenix.
The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach the West …Again – a great read about how the Celtic saints reaching the barbarian peoples in Ireland, Scotland, and England. The author draws parallels to the time the church finds itself today in the Western world and offers some insight we can learn from these ancient Celtic movements to bring a freshness to our efforts today.
They Like Jesus But Not The Church: Insights from Emerging Generations – I like Dan Kimball. I get the impression he writes the say way he would speak if you were having a face-to-face-conversation with him. Or maybe it's that I had a conversation with him while he was writing this book which I found myself remembering as I read the book. Either way – I am really glad Dan wrote this book. In it, he's honest about his own failures of isolation as a church leader. His stories of getting out of the church walls to be among those outside the church reveal with great insight the barriers keeping many from exploring the Christina faith. Dan does offer hope from his stories though, many of those he mentions are deeply interested and respectful of the person and teachings of Jesus. This is a simple, but insightful book. It's a relatively quick read and I found myself engaged throughout it.
The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of leaderless Organizations – I normally don't like business books. I hate models, formulas, and how-to-success books. So that made me hesitant when I approached this book. I was pleasantly surprised as I jumped in that this book reads much more like a sociology book than a business one. It's premise is to expose the beauty and successes of non-heirarchial (even leaderless) organizationsas opposed to the typical corporate structureed organization. This books highlights some amazing success stories of movements that have changed modern life in radical ways and yet are without typical forms of organization. The case studies range from Burning Man to the internet itself and highlight a number of web 2.0 & oopen-source phenomenons. Very interesting stuff.
Simple Spirituality: Learning to See God is a Broken World– Just finished this one. I find myself reading more than few books these days that speak of solidarity with the poor as a way to learn and to seek a balance in life. This book is a simple book filled with stories of the authors experiences working among the poor around the world. It's an easy read with plenty of challenging aspects. I am a fan of this book.
Hopefully this helps expose some good reads to someone out there who wouldn't have otherwise come across them.
This morning while forcing some silence/refelection into my schedule, I realized my inability recently to create margin in my life for the things I most need (which happen to be intimately associated with the things most important to me). I am finding little time for solitude, for spiritual practices, for reflection, and for creativity. I am reminded when faced with this uncomfortable reality that those things which demand the most from us in the economy of our lives will get the most of us. We have demands upon us, from others, from family, from those we work for and with, for those we wish to help, from those who we share life with. These are good and normal demands. But with much quieter screams, the person inside us beckons for life, for health, and for balance. To nurture myself is vital to the ability to offer myself to others.
This week I had one of the most moving experiences of my life. I am indebted to the power of art to evoke emotion, to remind, to tell story, to confront, and to recapture my imagination from the prison of the mundane. I am convinced I need art to help me to see the beauty of the world again, to regain confidence in all of humanity as created in the image of God, and to appreciate the love I have for my wife, the gift of my kids, and the sharing of life with good friends. Words can't begin to do justice to the experience and my words become jumbled, cheap, and useless when trying to share the experience with others.
What the art was that invoked this in me isn't as important as the acknowledgment of the power of art to speak into my life and to give clarity to the confusion. I am convinced it is a primary way God speaks to our world.
From April 9th to April 14th, I'll be traveling to the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas to raise financial support for our new ministry initiative in downtown Phoenix. In the days leading up to the trip, I am setting up appointments with those interested in hearing more about communitasPHX and open to sharing resources with us to kick this effort off. Here's what the schedule currently looks like:
Los Angeles leg: (I'll be staying with friends in the Ventura County area)
Wednesday, April 9th @ 9am – arriving Saturday, April 12th @ 1pm – departing for the Bay Area
Bay Area Leg:
Saturday, April 12th @ 3pm – arriving Monday, April 14th @ 7om – departing for Phoenix
If you live in these areas and would like to hear what we're up to these days and discover how you can partner with us in it, email me and we'll set up a time to meet.
A good friend of ours, Rob has posted a short video interview about my upcoming trip to the bay area for those of you wanted a bit more detail. Here's the video.
BTW: Thanks for those of you who are putting me up, hosting groups for me to meet with, or otherwise making this trip happen! You know who you are.
Months ago Kelli and I joined the staff of CRM (Church Resource Ministries) to launch a new "Communitas" team in downtown Phoenix. Communitas is a division within CRM that is focused on creating teams of people that would explore how to engage the people around them who are outside the current reach of the church. If you know me at all, this mission is right up my alley, always interested in how to expose the reality and availability of the Kingdom of God in new, fresh, and creative ways.
The past few months have had us spinning to prepare for this new work – assessments, training, travel, moving, settling in, raising support, etc – it's been pretty crazy. But as we've dug deeper into the support-raising side of things (we raise our own support for this), we recognized the need to get our dreams and directions on paper and on the web ASAP.
So today that's what we did.
If you've visited www.communitasPHX.org in the past few weeks you've found a simple (but good looking I must say) splash page that has no info and links to no other information. Friends, churches, and potential supporters have all mentioned their desire to learn more about what it is exactly we're out to create in downtown Phoenix. As of today (April 1st), we've added a blog to the site as well as an email link for more information.
As of 11am this morning, there's only one post, but on the blog you'll also find some communitasPHX documents that will help shape who we become as well as some links to those we call partners in all of this.
We want to invite you to follow the journey we're on. Check back at the blog from time to time to learn more – or better yet, subscribe to the feed with your favorite feedreader.
Kelli and I are in Anaheim for a week of meetings at the CRM offices. We are amazed at the ethos and heart of those involved in CRM. They have created a number of resources to help those interested in joining with the CRM community in observing this Lenten season. If you're looking for a resource to help your Lenten journey this year, there's an email devotional where once you sign up you'll be sent a devotional each day through Lent. There's even a Facebook group you can join if that's the way your roll. If you're interested, take a look here.