Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Message of Jesus

A couple months ago I preached at a church that I used to attend. I talked about the message of Jesus. What struck me is how we as humans, religious or otherwise, tend to push Jesus away and add stuff to his message rather than accepting it and living in it. Conservatives and liberals, wealthy and disadvantaged, men and women.

Can it really be true? That it's that immediate and simple to connect with God and a bigger reality?

Jesus said the Kingdom of God is all around, near us, inside of us-- and all we have to do (any time any place) is to turn towards God and embrace it (turning away from our own actions, ideas, control, 2D reality).

That "kingdom" extends in a limited way to this world and as well as to other worlds and realities. What people refer to as "the spiritual world" is another reality. The Kingdom is also another reality, with different rules and parameters, by virtue of the fact that it is one where God's ways are followed, God's influence embraced.

It seems to me that the spiritual world and the Kingdom of God are not the same thing, although they both interface with the world where we spend most of our time.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Bible in 4D

Jesus was a man of his time and place and yet timeless. He treated the scriptures like the jew he was and also like someone seeing a bigger picture, another dimension.

My problem is that the main ways of seeing the bible that I run into are one-dimensional (either it's "the word of God, inerrant and conclusive" or it's a "culturally bound document to be picked over, vulture style"). Seems like there has to be another way to relate to these writings.

I wonder if it might involve experiencing and living in another dimension, one that is outside of time (this "Kingdom of God" scholars across the board agree is the core of Jesus' message).

This might mean that while there is a pattern and order to these Kingdom-dwellers' relationship with the scriptures it will probably seem weird and even random to people dealing with it in 2D because 3D reality cuts in and out of 2D at odd places. Something that exists on a plane (2 dimensions) relates to a line (1 dimension) in a similar way -- it jumps in and out of the line at odd places, not moving from beginning to end linearly. This seems like a good description to me of how Jesus interacted with the scriptures -- honoring and reverencing them but using them and interpreting them in odd, unexpected and nonlinear ways.

I've recently done a bit of reading about the cultural context Jesus lived in which made sense of some of the strangeness of Jesus' actions, words and relationship to the Hebrew texts. This has been enriching and hasn't minimized the power or beauty of his message for me, actually the opposite. However, it's possible that if I just knew more I would find out that Jesus' relationship to the Torah was completely linear and culturally acceptable, and that this "kingdom" was a well-understood concept not a mind and life-altering other dimension he invited people into.

But then again, I might just find what I was looking for, so I'm thinking hard about what that is, hopefully in 4d.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I feel like a little kid

Are there areas of your life where you feel like a little kid? Like you missed the bus to that school somehow... every day? Like maybe you don't even know where your locker is?

I do.

It's weird. There's just things that I never learned that I feel like "I should know by now." How did I get here? It's embarrassing... which makes it harder to ask for help.

Like what?

- Filling out forms. I recently traded personal coaching time with a a guy who helped me fill out a form. It wasn't that complicated, but I just had a mental/emotional block about it. I've been trying to get it done for several years.

- Changing strings on a tremolo lock guitar.

- Being yelled at. I can handle a high level of emotion and think straight, bring perspective, etc -- as long as the emotion isn't aimed at me. When it is I sometimes shut down. Seems like I should know this by now.

But honestly, we've all got these blind spots and holes in our skillset. Encourage someone you know today to start the process of growing up in an area where they feel like they already should be but aren't.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Growth, Constraint Theory and Getting in Peoples' Faces

My main mentor recently challenged me to think about some of the people I walk with and ask this question: what is the one thing that, if they'd make progress on it, would move them forward significantly and unlock growth in a number of areas?

Flip Flippin's constraint theory suggests that for each person there is just such a personal constraint that if it can be overcome makes an incremental difference.

Once I got a sense of a person's constraint, what if I looked at my own life in that area first, and then got in their faces and asked them what they are going to do about it? What if I came with suggestions, shared how I'm working at it, didn't assume I knew what would be best for them but challenged them to address it because it's core?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Asking for Music Mentors

A glimpse into a recent conversation with God about music mentors:

I don't know how to find them. I'm quick to judge, slow to listen.

Do I really need music mentors? Do you want to give them? I think I do, but I'm scared of being too influenced. Would you help me? I release that to You. Please bring me to the place where I can meet you and receive from those you send to mentor this part of my life, joy, calling and work.

Simplicity. Power. Zeal. Chaos. Joy. Truth. Honesty. Honor. Compassion. Steel.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Now Nashville wasn't originally on our list of potential cities to move to. There's a lot of music there (and it's not all country or Christian) but as far I we could see from online research the visual art scene was meager.

I got a chance to visit a couple weeks ago and do some on-site sleuthing. It was amazing. Gallery owners were not only friendly, they were helpful to a degree that seemed odd even with southern hospitality in the mix. They gave me emails and cell phone numbers of contacts to follow up with. The first gallery I went into featured the abstract works of a Marian monk. There were a number of contemporary galleries with good exhibits. And I met a software programmer from Dublin on the way to a meeting. All that and music too!

Nashville is now on the list.

I know we need to be weaning it down rather than adding to it, but that's how it goes.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


I've had mentors all my life. This is one area I'm rich, and have been as far back as I can remember. What a gift.

From a young age there were older men and women around who sowed energy and time and encouragement into my life. College kids when I was 4 and 5. Pastors and teachers during grade school and high school. Coaches and mentors. It's a fairly ridiculous list. How did this happen? Probably partly because of my parents -- they valued, modeled, encouraged, invested in and celebrated mentoring, formal and informal. Life was meant to be lived in community, small group was church, and they never pretended to have everything their kids needed to grow up well.

Being closely connected to education, teachers, colleges also was a factor I think. Being raised in a third culture missions environment helped. Teachers and coaches who are giving their lives and making sacrifices for something they believe in make better mentors than people just doing their jobs.

I guess it's not surprising that a lot of my life and work is about coaching, consulting and mentoring. And I thought I was so original too!

Freely you have received..

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Choosing Cities

Christa and I planning a move. Our lease ends in less than a month, we travel to Asia for another month, and then come back to find our new home... somewhere in the US!

We've been researching larger cities for several months now, looking for the place that would fit the coming season. We've had the feeling for a couple years now (after regular trips to DC for museum fixes) that it would be good to be in a larger town. Charlottesville is an amazing place, and hard to imagine leaving the mountains of Virginia. It's been ten years now.

Beyond the beauty, we've had some of the best relationships/community here that we've ever experienced. Creativity? Community? Spirituality? That was what our group was about and it has been amazing to spend the the last almost six years with those friends. And now we're moving on. Needless to say excitement is tempered with real, annoyingly persistent and frustrating grief.

Every time we've moved in the past it has been because of relationships, projects or schools. This is a different kind of move. We're taking our time with it. We plan to take an extended trip upon returning from Asia. The trip will serve dual purposes: sharing the music and art that we create from our experiences there and 2. exploring ciites that are on our list of potential ending up place.

I'll post more about this city choosing as we go. Feel free to vote for your favorite US city. (It's been pretty fun to hear how passionate and opinionated people are about cities, even ones they haven't spent much time in.)