I don’t see how kids do it. One of the teachers at the Training Station gave me two pieces of Halloween cake today, along with a juice box. Good stuff, but my system has OD’d on sweets. To think of the kids eating that and then downing a bunch of candy tonight…. Oy…..
Yesterday I went with Carolyn’s kindergarten class to visit the pumpkin patch. It was Wright’s Market, the one we went to with Riley & Jenna a couple weeks ago. The kids went through the corn maze, went on a hayride, picked pumpkins, had a snack, fed goats, and ate lunch.
There was one little guy who was in my group and sat next to me on the bus. He’s one of the funniest kids I’ve ever known. Some of his quotes:
- As we walked past the goats to get to the corn maze: “I wanna see the animals cuz animals are cute!”
- Yelling, in the middle of the pumpkin patch lady’s little talk about the corn maze: “I love animals!”
- As we started to enter the maze: “I’m allergic to mazes.”
- When the tractor driver closed the wagon door before we went on the hayride: “Thank you, Farmer!”
- Picking out his pumpkin: “I want this one for pumpkin pie!”
- After it sounded like he sneezed and I said “bless you”: “No no, that was a cough actually.”
- “I have big strong muscles because I’m five!”
- While trying to bend my thumb backwards: “Are you tough?”
- Showing me the faded remains of his forearm tattoo: “I got it from a tattoo shop!”
And that’s just one kid! Here are some quotes from other kindergarteners:
- Little girl questioning Carolyn’s full-time assistant: “Where do you work?”
- Another little girl: “I smell purple.”
- And my favorite: One little girl asked how old I was. I told her I’m 32. Her response, very matter-of-fact: “You’re gonna be in heaven soon.”
Kids. Ya gotta love ‘em.
Last Friday night Carolyn and I drove to Oxford, Pennsylvania, to spend the night at Michael & Kristen’s new house (that’s her sister, and her sister’s husband). The house is new for them, but not new–it was built in 1888. Pretty cool. They’ve done a lot to it!
On Saturday morning Carolyn’s parents met us at the house. Steve and I headed to Ridgeview Mennonite Church for our conference’s annual assembly, while the others went shopping at Amish farms.
The assembly was an interesting experience. We met in the church’s sanctuary for the first half. There was a message shared by a Puerto Rican pastor. It was in Spanish, translated into English by an interpreter. It was the first time I’d ever seen a whole sermon done that way. There were reports from various agencies connected to the conference. To some it might have been pretty boring, but it was really interesting to me because I have so much to learn about our conference and about the Mennonite denomination since I’m so new to it. It was like getting a crash course in Mennonite church life.
We had lunch downstairs in the fellowship hall. After lunch we had some more reports. They had asked me to share a little bit about what God’s doing in our church, so I did that and led us in prayer. There were more reports and some round table discussion about decisions facing the conference.
The meeting closed about 3:45 and we headed back to Michael & Kristen’s house to meet the others. We all headed to California Tortilla for dinner. That place is great! They have delicious Mexican food and a ton of different hot sauces… and Carolyn likes it! Somehow she thinks it’s not Mexican–I guess maybe because it has “California” in the name? I don’t know, but I’m certainly not going to tell her otherwise. She’s still “Mexicaned out” (her term) from our trip to Texas over two years ago, when all we ate was Mexican food. It was great at the time, but it ruined her appetite for Mexican food.
(I was supposed to be writing about the conference gathering. How’d I end up on Mexican food? So anyway….)
We got home around 9:30 Saturday night, just in time to catch a decent night’s sleep for church the next morning.
Yesterday at CrossWay we talked about sin. We’re in a three-week miniseries about people. Last week we looked at how we were designed for a relationship with God, relationships with each other, and to take care of our planet. Yesterday we examined how our sin has messed up all of those designs.
For week three this coming Sunday, we’ll see in detail how the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ have restored all three of those relationships.
Exciting post title, huh? Today my father-in-law and I went to our church conference’s annual gathering in the Lancaster, PA area. It was actually pretty cool. I’ll write more about it later when I’m not 96% exhausted.
It’s been raining for three days. I love it! Aahhh, there’s nothing as peaceful, cozy, soothing, and invigorating as a rainy autumn day.
On Tuesday night I went to a Missional Network conference hosted by Oak Ridge Baptist Church in Salisbury. My mother-in-law, Linda, went with me. It was pretty cool. I figured they’d probably have coffee there, but it was better than I expected–the room where the conference was held was actually connected to a coffee shop! Score.
The special guest for the evening was Ed Stetzer, missiologist extraordinaire. I was pretty excited when I heard he was going to be at Oak Ridge, because he’s a great resource for today’s church. In fact, I’m currently reading one of his latest books, Comeback Churches.
Using mostly 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, Stetzer talked about the Kingdom of God and what it means for us today to live as ambassadors of God’s Kingdom in our world.
- Any bad news in the church today is only bad news about the church–not the Gospel.
- Many churches have lost the focus on mission.
- We’ve become accustomed to unpleasant Christians being the norm.
- We should live our lives in such a way that we’re always good representatives of the King.
- We can’t love Jesus and not love people for whom Jesus died.
- The false distinction we’ve created between pastors, missionaries, and laypeople is unhealthy, unhelpful, and unbiblical.
- It is natural for us to respond to people in the same way as the world, but we are called to respond in a supernatural way.
- If you’re a Christian, you’re called to live differently because a new way has come.
- “When Jesus showed up, so did the Kingdom of God.”
- The Christian faith is about a bloody cross and an empty tomb.
- We show Christian love when we understand where people are coming from and take the time to learn and listen to the journey they are on.
- The love of Christ compels us to live differently, to respond to people with supernatural love.
- We are on a mission of reconciliation.
- Jesus’ mission is ultimately our mission.
- Jesus’ mission was to serve and to save.
- In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus was essentially saying: “The Kingdom of God is here, and I am it.”
- We reconcile a broken world to God by serving the hurting in the name of Jesus.
- The church is often defined by what we’re against, but “we ought to be known for the things for which Jesus was known.”
- In a sense, the Kingdom of God is a subversive Kingdom–it overturns the empire of this world.
- “Christians” who don’t love Jesus are one of the biggest stumbling blocks to the Gospel.
- We must be: biblically faithful, culturally relevant, countercultural communities.
- “Biblically faithful” = we need to live as the Bible teaches.
- “Culturally relevant” = looking similar to the world, but living differently.
- “Countercultural communities” = signs and instruments of the Kingdom.
- “Our job is not to moralize the unconverted–it’s to convert the immoral.”
- “You can’t build and then control your own kingdom and expect the Kingdom of Jesus to show up.”
- We need to be obedient to Christ, not to critics.
- Questions we need to ask ourselves and answer: How can we be like Jesus? How can we engage our community? How can we give ourselves away? How can we give the Gospel away?
- “If you’re not serving the poor and sharing the faith, you’re not advancing the Kingdom.”
- “We need to do what Jesus did so we’ll be known for the same things Jesus was known for.”
By the way, notice that his wife Keda sent the video to him. You know you have a cool wife when she appreciates stuff like this!
Recently I shared some notes from my two-day class a couple weeks ago. Thought it’d be fitting to include here some follow-up correspondence with Jesse Johnson, pastor of Media Mennonite Church. This exchange helps to fill out some of the stuff I didn’t include in my earlier summary:
Read your blog today on day 2 of the classes. Sounds fun.
One thing that jumped out at me was the continuous pointing to the cross. That’s good to hear, because too many Mennonites have moved away from the atoning work of Christ to focus too exclusively on political peace and humanist ventures, but here’s what I’ve always wondered about: what is it about the cross that gets us excited? I understand the magnificence of the fact that our God would allow this to happen to His Son, that Jesus would subject himself to it, and that without that sacrifice we would be nowhere. But, that being said, doesn’t the real center of our faith come three days later? Not to downplay the cross, but everyone dies. Every religious hero in the world has died, and some have gone out in tremendous circumstances. But, what sets Jesus apart and confirms Him as the real deal is that he rose again, and that resurrection is what makes Him truly unique. No other had the power to defeat death, and that resurrection life is what I think we’re really about.
I’m pretty sure I’m just splitting hairs, but I that’s what I’m thinking.
Thanks for the email. No, I don’t think you’re splitting hairs at all. The crucifixion and resurrection are obviously inextricably linked, but they’re still separate events. I think your comments were right on.
Looking back on that post, I can see why that stood out to you. Our teacher did in fact talk a lot about the resurrection. At the beginning of the blog entry I said something about how I couldn’t share everything we talked about in class without going to some length to lay a theological and metaphorical framework. Unfortunately, in leaving those things out, it was mostly the resurrection that was omitted.
David Shenk talked about the “high places” that were central to ancient pagan worship. (He drew diagrams for this, which is another reason it would be difficult to blog.) To the pagans, hills were the “pregnant earth.” The sky was where the gods lived. A tree that stood on a hill was like a bridge connecting the fertile heavens with the pregnant earth. (Apparently the pagans never realized that if the earth was already pregnant, continued fertility was not really necessary, but anyway….) That’s why sexual rites commonly took place among trees that stood on hills.
Jesus Christ, as we know, was fully divine and fully human, truly bridging the gap between God and people. And by being crucified on a “tree” on a hill, He was meeting the powers of darkness right in their place of worship, “unmasking them” as the Bible puts it.
As for the resurrection, David Shenk stated: “In rising from the dead, He has broken the power of the powers forever. It is simply astounding. And wonder of wonders.” In His resurrection, Jesus triumphs over death. Today the risen Christ lives in His church, which is why the church is such a powerful tool for transformation.
In defeating death itself, Jesus truly sets us free. After all, if death has already been conquered, what is there to fear? The resurrection brings genuine, complete freedom.
By the way, I’m not saying all this stuff as if you didn’t know it. I just wanted to fill in the blanks on some of the class discussion about the resurrection. There was also some good stuff about the Lamb who was slain who appears in Revelation, and about how the resurrected Christ still had His wounds, which again shows the powerful connection between the crucifixion and the resurrection. But that’s even more complicated.
Do you mind if I post your email on the blog? You raise some legitimate points that would be good follow up to the post.
(Note: Obviously, he said it’d be okay!)