Tuesday, March 07, 2006

How Strange It Is

Recently, I have had a lot of "How strange it is..." moments.

For instance, the one or two evenings that I actually sat down to watch historic Olympic moments, I was struck by how strange it is that from the comfort of my own living-room I can watch with perfect clarity and superb sound the happenings in Torino, Italy. This is amazing.

Another for instance, I was driving my newly refurbished Blazer, and pondered what a marvelous and strange thing a car really is. I cannot comprehend the mind that can figure out how to make a series of nuts and bolts work in such a fashion. I can comprehend how someone could come up with such a thing, but to actually make that thought into reality...astounding! Or for that matter, the computer, the internet, the refrigerator, every modern convenience.

A final for instance, last Sunday I was sitting in worship at PUMP enjoying a great sermon on Moses and all his unheroic like heroism, when the thought struck me of how strange it is that I worship in a two-story house crammed full of people in Portland, Oregon. How strange it is that a 23-year-old (almost 24, three cheers for my birthday this month!), white, single female from Lubbock, Texas found her way to Portland and has worshipped for the last two years with an urban church intent on shaping children into disciples of Christ.

This can't be the norm. In fact, I'm almost positive that it is not the norm. Yet the longer I live here, and even as I look toward heading to Colorado, I am growing more convinced that being a disciple of Jesus--being His student, His apprentice--requires a little, possibly a lot, of strangeness.

Jesus was not the norm throughout His life here. For some He was a breath of fresh air--the chance to live in freedom. For others His strangeness offended their way of life, which was totally unacceptable. Yet in all of His strangeness Jesus knew what was most important--to know God and be known by Him.

So maybe living life a little bit strange in an effort to remember what is most important is well worth it. It means having a Kingdom heart and a Kingdom life. It means putting new wine--apprenticeship to the strangeness of Christ--in new wineskins--a Kingdom reality lived out here and now. (Matt. 9:16-17) It means not loving my father or mother more, my son or daughter more, or any other thing more than I love Jesus. It means taking up a cross with full knowledge that the privelege of the prize--adoption by God--is greater than any pain I might endure. It means that whatever momentary pleasures offered by earthly life--physical, financial, or other--can be lost in order to live the fullness of a Kingdom life here and now. (Matt. 10:37-39)

Hmmm, maybe it is worth it to be a little bit strange...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Change in Velocity

Today brought a slow to the ever-increasing velocity at which my life has been spinning the past few months. I woke this morning and drove to Multonomah Falls, a beautiful waterfall in the Columbia Gorge. Once there I took the mile hike to the top and admired God's grandeur.

Standing watching water gush over the cliff, I spent some time reflecting on the past two years of my life--my time in Portland, Oregon--a time that is now coming to its end...

Only a few short months ago, Emily arrived at PUMP, our first Micah Project intern. Her work with the church and Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center (POIC), an alternative middle school and high school in North Portland, richly blesses our church and community. The lessons we have learned together are invaluable, and I have been so blessed by her coming.

During these months, we have been confronted by the blessings and the truths of what it means to run a year-long internship program. As we began Emily's internship, we discovered the true call of Micah Project--to transform Christian men and women into radical disciples of Christ and also realized the immense needs of our interns--—for discipleship, leadership training and nurturing.

As a small urban church, most of PUMP'’s resources and individual members'’ time are largely tapped in current ministry. Many of our church body are not in a position to provide the necessary nurturing interns require and continue in nurturing the current church body and their own families. Therefore, at this time, PUMP does not have the capacity to fill the need of future interns.

Realizing this, on the recommendation of Emily and I, the PUMP church leadership has decided to suspend Micah Project until the time when PUMP demonstrates the necessary capacity to nurture a team of interns. It is our great hope and prayer that Micah Project will return in the future. We fully believe in this ministry and its potential effectiveness for the Kingdom of God.

So this means changes. Emily will stay here through August, finishing her internship and working with the PUMP Summer Program. As for myself, I am making plans to attend Fuller Theological Seminary in the fall at the Colorado Springs extension campus.

The next two months will be spent saying goodbye to Portland, PUMP, and all those I dearly love here, traveling to Texas to love on my dear ones there, and moving to Colorado to settle in and prepare to start school in September.

I would appreciate your prayers as I make this transition. I am excited for what I will learn during these months of "sabbatical." It will be a grand adventure!