Monday, September 27, 2010

Uggghhhh, snort, sniff, cough, gag, and other things best kept secret

I hate being sick! There I said it.  Those of you who know me well are not surprised by the comment.  For my wife, she can attest that I hate being sick so much that I even neglect taking care of myself and am constantly asking her what do I need to take to fix this!  She smiles hands me some Tylenol, pets me on the head and probably mutters something about me being a child under her breath, but I can't hear her becuase my ears are stopped up!
The common cold - nose running like the Mississippi River, head clogged like it is filled with Missouri clay, coughing like an old tractor engine not quite in time with itself.  You leave a trail of kleenex and pill wrappers behind you.  And you are about as pleasant as a rhinoceros.  Well, at least that's how I feel.
The worst part for me is feeling like I'm stuck in a room where the atmosphere is too thick to breath the air or move around freely.  I feel like everyone is mubbling while they whisper in my direction.  And, I just want this to end.
I wonder if you can catch a spiritual cold?  You know, just that malaise that comes over you every once in a while.  Where you feel thick and spiritually dull?  You don't have anything terminal - you're not caught up in some horrible sin.  In fact, you probably have been growing quiety, steadily and then you wake up with that itchy feeling and you know it is here.
Why do we get stuck spiritually sometimes?  Why do we get to that place where we just feel like we're trying to grab a nickel at the bottom of a swimming pool - you can almost grab it but run out of air and have to resurface empty handed.
My religious background screams that it is my fault!  That I did or failed to do something and thus God has inflicted my with the spiritual snots to get my attention.  Most of the time my religious background, though confident in its assertions, is wrong.
Maybe, I just needed to slow down.  Maybe I just needed to grow deaf to the noise around me for awhile.  Maybe, my spiritual cold, is a reminder that just as my salvation was the complete work of God.  My maturity is His process as well.
I love the lyrics of Keith Green, "My son, my son, why are you striving? You can't add one thing to what's been done for you.  I did it all while I was dying.  Rest in my grace, my peace will come to you." 
Ahh, common cold, my nemesis, my friend.  You will pass as quickly as you came, probably without any help from all the medicenes that make me feel like I'm encased in bubble wrap.  Spiritual cold?  Slow me down a bit, remind of the big hand of God's grace and turn the lights back on when I'm ready.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Let's talk Small Groups

Beginning the week of September 12th The Harbor Community Church will begin a new chapter in our life together.  We are beginning our version of small groups called "Harbor Groups".  Let me tell you what Harbor Groups are not and then let's talk about what I hope they will become for us.

For those of you with a church background you may think you know all about small groups, after all you've been in church and you've done this already - right?  Well maybe. 
Harbor Groups are more than Sunday School
Sunday School was an invention of the American culture from the late 18th and early 19th century. Sunday School started as an innovation in the way churches educated their members; particularly children.  Sunday School was developed to teach children who were basically homeless and orphaned in early American life.  Over the years, the idea grew to include training for all ages and churches begin to build facilities to house these education opportunities.
Now some 200 years later Sunday School happens in virtually every traditional church setting.  The focus is primarily, if not exclusively, to train participants in the doctrinal teachings of the Bible and the particular traditions of that chruch. 
Today, we believe people need more than just information taught in a classical teacher - student relationship.

Harbor Groups are more than Learning stuff
While, we hope you'll learn from your experience in your Harbor Group, we hope you'll learn in a different way.  For most of my life I have been learning almost exclusively with my mind.  I know how to think Biblically and can communicate verbally the great truths of the Bible.  And yet, I have learned that something is missing.  I have not learned with my heart.  My prayer for our Harbor Groups is that they will be a safe place where we can learn with our hearts as well as our minds.  After all, Jesus said, "Love God with all your heart, soul, and your mind."  In each of those Gospel passages loving God with your heart is mentioned first.  Learning with the heart is extremely valuable.

Harbor Groups are more than just another obligation
More obligations - who needs them!  Another night out of my week and two more hours to give up - who really wants to do that!  Our dream for the Harbor Groups is that they will become life giving opportunities that we need to be a part of.  I pray that we will need to learn about God in close fellowship with others. If that occurs, Harbor Groups will not be a burdensome obligation but a life giving value to everyone involved.

Harbor Groups are about learning life together.  Jesus called a few disciples away from the rat race of life to learn from him what life was meant to be.  In the process, they grew and their lives were transformed.

Harbor Groups are about becoming what I am yet to be.  In Romans 12 Paul talks about being transformed through the renewing of our minds.  Harbor Groups are not about information; they are about transformation. They are about growing to the place where Christ is formed within us.

I hope you will take some time to really pray about being apart of our Harbor Groups.  You can find all the pertinent information on our website.  So, please accept this invitation to come as you are for the opportunity to become the person God has in mind for you to be and your heart as always dreamt of being.