Thursday, January 25, 2007

Prayer Summit

This weekend I am going away with my church worship team for a prayer summit. This will be our sixth. Each one has been a unique experience, and God is so faithful to always meet us there.

I am going this year in a pretty good place, but with some things on which I have been challenged by God in the last year or so. A friend commented on one of my earlier posts and mentioned that she is discussing some of the same things I have been thinking about. Her group's discussion questions are great:

1)What if a fragile world is more attracted to God's vision of interdependence and sacrificial sharing than to the mirage of independence and materialism?

2)What does it mean to live incarnationally?

These are probing questions. Between this and the recent "Calling all Peacemakers" series by Rob Bell from Mars Hill, there is much to consider. What if America just up and gave clean water and sanitation to the entire underdeveloped world? We could do it for somewhere between 16 and 23 billion dollars. For a country as rich as ours, that isn't so much, I think, considering we spent 9 billion on Christmas gifts in one day - Black Friday.

Anyway, for me there are two questions. One is, "Am I living simply enough to give enough away?" And the other is, "How can I live more communally?"

I'll be thinking about it at Summit '07.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Belated Friday Five

How appropriate that this belated Friday Five is about birthdays. I always seem to be the one wishing belated wishes! On with it now...


1. "It's my party and I'll [blank] if I want to..."Favorite way to celebrate your birthday (dinner with family? party with friends? a day in solitude?)

I love dinner with friends and something musical of which I am not in charge. Several years in a row the friends and I have done this very thing.

2. "You say it's your birthday... it's my birthday too, yeah..." Do you share your birthday with someone famous? (Click here to find out!)

Drew Bledsoe, Florence Henderson, and Jack Benny, among others.

3. "Lordy Lordy look who's forty..."Milestone birthdays: a) just like any other birthday--they're just numbers, people; b) a good opportunity to look back/take stock; c) enjoy the black balloons--I'll be hiding under a pile of coats until the day is over; d) some combination of the above, or something else entirely.

Definitely b, but also d - an excuse to have an entire "birthday season." If the "holidays" can be a month, why can't I have at least two weeks? And, last year when I turned 40, I did. Three parties, six cakes, flowers, dinner, a pub, and a limo. Whoo-hooo! Let's be 40 every year.

4. "Happy birthday, dear... Customer..."Have you ever been sung to in a restaurant? Fun or cringe-worthy?

Well, I am the wrong person to ask. I am not the least embarrassed, but I usually cringe at singing. Especially since when my high school band sings it is beautiful four part harmony.

5. "Take my birthday--please"Tell me one advantage and one disadvantage about your particular birthday (e.g. birthday in the summer--never had to go to school; birthday near Christmas--the dreaded joint presents)EDITED TO ADD: This could also simply be something you like/dislike about your birthday (e.g. I like sharing a birthday with my best friend, etc.).

It's Valentine's Day. So people steal my thunder. Plus I am not all that fond of Valentine's Day.

Wired for Community

I am listening to the most fascinating book on my iPod right now. It's called Blink, and it is by Malcolm Gladwell. You could check it out here on Amazon. The book explores that thing that we do when we "thin slice" input and come to decisions that we would call "going with our gut."

One of the studies Gladwell mentions is about autism. Studying the brain through focused magnetic resonance imaging shows that we use a very sophisticated part of our brain when we are recognizing faces, as compared to a much less sophisticated part of the brain which engages when we are recognizing object. This is why we remember the faces of our friends many years later, but will spend half an hour searching for our luggage at the baggage claim.

Later, I was reading an article in a magazine. Did you know there is actually a special hormone that gets released when we are around people that gives us the "warm fuzzy" about being with our friends? This same hormone turns down the hunger message. It's almost like when we are hungry, part of that hunger is not for food but for family. Think about that feeling you get when you spend time around the table with your friends or your family. That feeling is hardwired to your physiology. Cool, huh?

All of this should not be the least bit surprising to a Christian. God created humans to be in fellowship - with Him and with each other. We are meant to live our lives in community - we are wired for it, specifically.

The next time you feel yourself becoming isolated, make an effort to connect with someone. It's what our Creator intended.

He wired us for community.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

The beginning of a new year always feels hopeful to me. I look forward to what good things will happen, have that sense of expectation, always make a couple of private resolutions.

This year I have no resolutions, actually, because I had already started making some changes in my life. I really feel like 2007 is going to be a good year. And I know that whatever happens, God has it all in hand and "all things will work out for the good." So I guess in a sense, it is almost impossible for any year to be anything but good when you can depend on the sovereignty of God.