coming up to breathe

•June 5, 2010 • 2 Comments

no, the blog isn’t dead. it’s just been taking a nap. so here’s another round of updates:

-i finally wore down and gave bon iver a chance. not regretting it. after a few tweaks here and there, he gave me a great pandora station to have on while studying. right up until panera‘s internet time limit kicked in. not cool, panera. very not cool.

-speaking of studying…i am no historian, but i think every christian should take a cursory swim through the history of christianity (or a slow wade for that matter, just get in the water at least). it’s a fabulous mess of people and movements—sometimes awesome, sometimes awful—but always revealing the undeniable grace of God. it did me well to realize i live on one small branch on the big tree of christianity.

-perhaps my favorite blog post ever by my wife.

-i love me those big fatty straws that panera puts in their frozen coffees, except when you get to the bottom of the cup and can’t slurp anymore. what’s a guy to do?

-year one at bethel seminary is complete. the school celebrated by launching a new website apparently.

-have you ever read through a used/borrowed book that has comments written throughout the pages? it always makes me wish i was as smart as those people that wrote those comments. it also makes me wish i had cooler handwriting.

-i’m moving to texas where i can be an east dillon lion with coach eric taylor. i’m gonna work with riggins rigs, deliver pizzas with matt, and hang out with buddy garrity. but mostly i’m just gonna follow coach taylor everywhere. clear eyes, full hearts…

-lastly, here is some dude with a justin bieber haircut hanging out with my kids.

a round of updates

•May 19, 2010 • Leave a Comment

What does this site and the Edge stage have in common? They were both in need of some serious facelifts. Well, last week it was time to change things up in the Warehouse (the beloved home of the Edge every Sunday morning). So here’s a peek at some of the preliminary work we did, and when I say “we,” I really mean the team of Rik, Dallas, Cicco, and Todd (b/c of the number of Todds around, this Todd goes by “Ol’ half-a-day-Davis”). After some brilliant thinking by a bunch of beloved volunteers, we came up with a few goals:

  • Simplify the stage. Less clutter from our previous set-up, which involved lots of risers for levels. (The bass player was basically standing on the shoulders of the drummer). Less levels. No rugs. If we could cut the drum kit in half I would’ve. Clean and simple.
  • Pull the band closer together. Because of the giant screen which comes down for the sermon, the worship leaders were separated from the band by a big chasm of space in the middle of the stage. No-space-no-more.
  • Less light on stage. Rather than large amounts of white light washing the stage, we wanted tighter, focused light on people. Also, we had been using LED panels from above for color washes, but never really liked them for that. We decided to mount those on the floor for architectural lighting, including the drum set and Todd-the-bass-player’s rear end…(see below)
  • Move most of the moving lights to above the stage instead of above the house for a change. This way you get to see the actual fixture moving, which is fun. It’d be even more fun if we could get haze to work in this room, but alas…
  • Break up the brick wall at the back of the stage. The brick fits with the warehouse-feel of the room but it also reeks of a comedy club. So we wanted a stage backdrop to help us overcome that. Cheap, yet cool and colorful. When cheap is needed, we go to Home Depot.
  • Design a focal point right as people walk into the Warehouse. There’s a half-wall at the entrance that is a great spot for some artistic displays to set the feel of the room and that day’s service.

We’re not done, but here’s some phone-camera pics from this morning.

These next two show the design pieces. Ol’ Ricardo had the idea of taking some plastic diffusers commonly used for for flourescent lighting, put one above the other, and build a frame out of 1×2 plywood. Hang it from above and shoot the LED panels up from the floor. These panels put off a lot of color and break up the comedy-club-brick-wall back there. It almost seems like on big big canvas to throw color on (or 6 small ones), which our lighting volunteers can have a lot of fun with.

There’s something about candles and wrought-iron that signals communion, so we went with it. Simple worked there today, but we’re going to switch it out for some artistic variety here and there. Paintings, old instruments, a jazz flutist, more candles…looking for ideas…since we’re in a series about Nehemiah restoring the wall around Jerusalem, maybe we’ll drop a pile of rubble on the pew. Btw, if it weren’t for the flintstones, I wouldn’t know what rubble was.

And just for grins, this is from our pre-service run-through. JJ (“the doctor”, far left) is enjoying some momentary power which he is using to threaten me if I talk too long during the service….like that has ever happened before…whatev.

thoughts I’ve had while not posting:

•March 21, 2010 • 2 Comments

Gold-star charts have officially begun in our house. If you’re 2 years old, you get a star for using nice words, not hitting your brother, and going pee-pee before your rest. I’m petitioning Allison for my own gold-star chart b/c it looks like fun.

John 3:17 is crucial to understanding John 3:16. I think I’ll start making posters of John 3:17 to wave at football games.

What makes an idea good is as much the timing of the idea as the idea itself. One of the hardest things for me to do in planning worship services is to say, “let’s wait on that.”

Lucy got a new book about Easter. Her favorite part is “daddy on the horse.” I don’t have the nerve to tell her it’s Jesus on a donkey. Is that wrong?

As I finish up a class on church history, I can’t help but be completely discouraged with how quickly and frequently things got messed up once Jesus left. Division, heresy, crusades…the list goes on. And yet, God has continued to use the Church as his voice and vehicle in the world, just like the Isaelites in the Old Testament. So hope reigns.

My fellow worship pastor, who we’ll call “Bruce” said that people who write and read blogs are “kinda weird.” So that’s you and me. To Bruce I say, “People who wear pearl-snaps are weird.” Oh wait, that’s me too. Dang.

On what day was it that God created allergies? I wonder if he ever regretted that.

Lastly, is Facebook losing its luster?  You tell me, because I’m on the fence.

the stories that make the Man

•March 9, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Luke 5:1-6:16

I love how with each little story Luke unfolds more of who Jesus is. Sometimes it’s hard to read these stories that I’ve heard many times without thinking, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard this one. He’s gonna heal the guy. Pretty cool. Next.” But how often do I read each of these stories and then put all them all together? When I do that, I come to a fuller understanding of who Jesus really is and why he lived. He healed the sick, he forgave sinners, he overcame Satan, he spoke with authority, he was concerned for the outcast, he was angry with the self-righteous—he was no ordinary man. The next couple pages in my Bible are filled with red ink. I think Luke might be setting us up. He’s been building his case for who Jesus is, now we’re about to hear more of what Jesus has to say. So am I going to read Jesus’ words thinking “Oh yeah, I’ve read this before,” or am I going to read his words thinking, “This guy clearly is something incredible, so I should pay close attention to what he has to say” — ?

when Jesus picks a fight

•March 8, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Fellowship started up an online reading of the Bible back in January, affectionately called Fellowship Journal. as a church, we’re reading through scripture together and inviting people to share their thoughts and prayers as they do so. so since my posting has been a little scarce as of late,  i’ll start posting some of these passages and my own reflections on them.

Luke 4:14-44

Drama!!! Conflict!! What caused people to marvel at Jesus one moment, and then be filled with wrath at him the next? These people in Jesus’ hometown are fine with him as long as he remained that “little boy of Joseph who grew up so well.” (I wonder if a few of the older women in the synagogue pinched his cheeks whenever Jesus came back home!) They loved their hometown boy but weren’t really listening to what he was saying. Jesus knows this, so he goes on the offensive and says, “I’m not Joseph’s son. I’m God’s son! And all of you are like those who killed off the prophets!” Jesus was picking a fight! He knew that since the people of Nazareth were still looking at him like Joseph’s son, they were missing the point of his message. When he claimed to be more, they got angry, they got offended. They said, “Who do you think you are?!”

Like those in the temple, I often nod my head at Jesus and say “Amen!” But I wonder how much I miss the fullness of his message because of my stubbornness or self-absorption. How often do I interpret his message only in terms that I’m comfortable with? There are times when Jesus might have to pick a fight with me in order to shake me up. God, I want the fullness of you and your message in my life. Help me break out of my comfort and familiarity for this to happen.

wherefore art thou brad?

•February 17, 2010 • 2 Comments

lots of fun is being had during my two weeks on campus at bethel seminary. but everyday i’m reminded (by myself and others) that i’m not from around here:

–when the weather climbed into the upper 20s, most native minnesotans embraced the balmy temps by breaking out their tank tops, but i’m still bundled up like ralphie’s little brother from christmas story. yes, i did buy a big puffy coat specifically for this trip. no, i won’t be wearing it again until i come back next year.

–it’s really, really hard not to start talking with long o’s. “minnesoooo-duh.” it just happens. the best will be next week after re-entry into arkansas and the two accents start fighting each other. if you look at me strange when i’m talking to you, i’ll understand.

–i don’t care what you say, cars aren’t supposed to drive out onto frozen ice. people aren’t even supposed to walk out there! don’t you know that’s how george bailey went deaf in one ear? i hear myths about “lake towns” that are built 5 miles in on top frozen lakes, complete with housing, satellite tv, and parking lots. i don’t believe it, that’s just not right.

–apparently 22 inches of snow is not enough of a cause to cancel schools up here. little rock has had a total of 3 inches of snow over the past couple months and has already cancelled school 5 days. when minnesotans hear of a possible few inches of snow in the forecast, they see it as just a dusting. in little rock, it means you need to go buy lots of bread and milk.

–by the way, the seminary had an “olympics” one night, and i whooped up on all the northerners in the sledding distance competition. however, i lost the overall competition to a woman (but she was pregnant, so i don’t think she should count since she was sledding for two).

loving my time here, but missing my little rock crew. more stories from the north to come!

the joy of mess

•February 2, 2010 • 1 Comment

tonight as my daughter was attacking a cup of vanilla ice cream, i did my fatherly duty and wiped some that started trickling down her chin. she immediately looked at me as though some grave injustice had been done. “no daddy!”

“what? i was just cleaning your chin. it was messy.” she furrowed her eyebrows, clutched her cup of custard close to her chest, and continued to recklessly wield her spoon like a proud toddler. she’s usually one to clean up her own messes (surprising for a 2 year old, i know), but tonight she obviously wanted to to show her dad how to truly enjoy some dessert. it made me wonder how often i thoughtlessly oppress my daughter’s vibrance in the name of cleanliness and order. she’ll have plenty of discipline and organization in her life, so what am i doing to encourage her to venture into the chaos of carelessness if in the end it means joy and creativity? my thoughts then turned to myself. how often do i not just allow, but push myself to make a mess? to abandon my need to control things? to wander from routine into the realm of unrealistic possibilities just to see what’s there?

my daughter kept on attacking her ice cream with no intervention from me. eventually she even started flinging spoonfuls of it around the kitchen, because apparently, that’s the best way to enjoy a cup of ice cream.

finding God on the way or in the way?

•January 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

…Instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their “God projects” that they didn’t notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling. Isaiah gives us the metaphor for pulling this together:

Careful! I’ve put a huge stone on the road to Mount Zion
a stone you can’t around.
but the stone is me! If you’re looking for me,
you’ll find me on the way, not in the way.

Romans 9:30-33 (The Message)

reflections of God’s imagination

•January 26, 2010 • 1 Comment

i don’t really know how i stumbled across this album in my playdate with google this this morning. but i’m not complaining. it’s free, it’s good, and it’s written by a bunch of artists in a church—that’s a tough combo to achieve, so thanks The Anchor Fellowship for achieving it. they describe this project as a “reflection of God’s imagination.” you gotta love that. here’s to more “reflections” like this one coming out of churches today.

“Make Up There Come Down Here”

•January 21, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Sometimes people pray a version of the Star Trek prayer to Scottie: “Beam me up.” Many people think our job is to get my afterlife destination taken care of, then tread water till we all get ejected and God comes back and torches this place. But Jesus never told anybody — neither his disciples nor us — to pray, “Get me out of here so I can go up there.” His prayer was, “Make up there come down here.” Make things down here run the way they do up there.

Jesus told us to pray, “Bring heaven down here.” We begin with our body, our mind, our appetites. Then it spreads to the office, our family, our neighborhood, our church, our country.

God doesn’t reveal himself to us just to make us happy or to deliver us from loneliness. He also comes to us so that we can in turn be conduits of his presence to other people. He invites us to join him in making things down here the way they are up there.

Excerpt from God Is Closer Than You Think – John Ortberg