Beautifully Unfinished

[[image:IMG_6384.jpg::right:0]]I haven’t posted for a while due to just being busy on the road and lack of chances to hook up to some high speed love. I’ve been in europe for almost two weeks now and so far it’s been a great trip. I was able to spend some time with my wife and mother in London for about a week. It was such a great time. The highlight of our time together was probably going to La Portes Des Indes in the Marble Arch area for some fine Indian cuisine. It’s probably my favorite restaurant in London, if not the whole of Europe. Yummm!!

So far, this has been an interesting trip for me. I am not sure why, but I think I’ve been getting nudged into some unexpected introspection. I don’t know about anyone else, but introspection is not fun for me. But that’s probably why I keep finding myself suddenly taking inventory of who I am because I’m sure as hell that I’m not the one kicking off these ideas in my head. I feel this nagging outside force that’s calling me outside of myself, exposing that I actually don’t have a super man cape flying around my neck. It’s exposing a judgmental mind, a lazy soul, and a hardened heart. From this, so far I have come to realize that I’ve become so comfortable in my life. I’ve failed to accept the challenges that are so clearly looking me right in my face. So far, from all of this I’m beginning to think that to be floating along in my life of comfort is a dangerous and irresponsible place to be. Maybe more importantly I can begin to admit that I am capable of evil I may not have expected. I can say all day long that I’m a sinner and “fall away” daily and I can be sincere, but can I truly look at the pain that I’ve caused squarely in the face even when that pain hasn’t confronted me first? You know when you’re “right” but the WAY you’re “right” is just ending up hurting someone else. Even in our moments of being correct, we can be so incorrect in a much larger scale. I think of Walter Sobchak from The Big Lebowski when he keeps asking “The Dude” very angrily “Am I wrong, Am I Wrong?!?” and The Dude replies ” No, you’re not wrong Walter, you’re just an asshole!”. And Walter replies contented,”Ok then…”. It’s ok that he is an asshole, as long as he’s right. It’s one of my favorite lines in the whole movie and maybe for good measure. Maybe we all have a little Walter in all of us. I do for sure.

This is not to say that I’m in any way at the end of the road when it comes to really taking a look under the hood and seeing what needs to be tweaked or for whole parts that need to be replaced……but I am becoming more comfortable with this period of questioning who I really am. I’ve been asking myself what kind of person others around me think I am. Am I someone who is really making the lives around me better? After asking these kinds of questions and, more importantly, getting to know some of the answers a little bit, I was beginning to feel so self absorbed and clueless. After a some fairly serious introspection…I’m beginning to feel a large sense of humility but also a budding sense of optimism. Not optimism in the sense that I’m getting near the end of the process, but that I’m beginning to embrace the fact that there is a long way to go. Simply being aware that there is some serious renovation to be done can get you excited for the improvements, no matter how painful or costly that renovation may be.

I’m currently in Barcelona and today I had the day off. I took advantage of this incredible city and hopped on a tour bus with some friends to take it all in, soak it up. I’ve been here a few times before but have never really attacked the city as I did today. There is a temple here in the middle of the city called La Sagrada Familia. It is a temple that has been under construction since the late 1800s and it was designed by a brilliant Spanish architect named Antonio Gaudi. Gaudi’s architecture is found all throughout this city but this church is his most heralded and adored. I spent about two hours total at this church and was just amazed at the artistry, the story telling, and the incredible beauty that this place, unfinished even, possesses. Gaudi died in a car accident in the 1920s and was unable to finish the church but his family had hired new builders and architects to continue the work based off his original design. They are expecting it to be completed in about eighteen years from now. As I spent time at the church in the duality of the beautiful artistry interwoven with a gritty construction zone, it seemed very fitting. Many times we visit huge, impressive cathedrals and we enjoy the beauty without the benefit of seeing the actual work it took to make. With this church, that’s not the case. You see the beauty and the hard work side by side. The stain glass AND the dusty scaffolding. There is even a forklift sitting idle right in the middle of the church floor!

I left the church with optimism. I felt God has been shaking me lose that past few weeks just in time for me to see a glaring example of how beautifully unfinished we are and that he loves us in whatever stage of construction we may be in.

I’ve posted many of the photos from my time at the church here. If you don’t believe me about the forklift, help yourself. Continue reading

Mosaic Podcast

[[image:mosaic.jpg::right:0]]I just found out from a friend of mine who goes to Mosaic in Los Angeles that there is a Mosaic Podcast of the teachings there. Erwin McManus is the lead pastor and I think he’s pretty amazing. I really enjoy listening to him, it’s always very powerful stuff. Not only is he a great pastor but also a great author as well. He has several books out that I’m sure are worth reading. I read some that were great but haven’t read all his stuff. Check out what Erwin has to say here. Thanks to Mike Souder for the hook up. Continue reading

Slept Through an Earthquake

Apparently there was an earthquake this morning in the L.A. area around
8 or so, but I wouldn’t know because I slept right through it. I am
sort of famous in the crew for being the guy that can fall asleep
anywhere under most any circumstances. For me this ability has come in
handy over the years of bumpy van rides and sleeping on a hard wood
floors. So I’ve always thought of this ability as a good thing until
this morning. I have never been in an earthquake before and would have
loved to experience it to the fullest. I guess it was a very mild quake
so hopefully no one got hurt. Maybe I could turn this experience into
an anecdote packed full of symbolism…that might be fun, but I’m just
bummed I missed out on my first earthquake. Continue reading

San Jose

I’m off again to work. This time its a few shows in California then a
day off to fly home and THEN it’s off to Europe for a month. It’s
always tough to leave home but it has been a good time being home these
last few weeks. At the moment I’m standing outside the terminal at the
airport in San Jose airport. It’s suny yet cool and breezy. That just
doesn’t make sense to me this time of year. This is the time to cower
from the sun. Me and my friend Rick are standing at the curb asking
ourselves why we live in Phoenix. For now I’ll forget about any
possible answers for that question and just take in the cool breeze. Continue reading

Get Behind Me Coldplay

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I’ve read and heard about many people’s excitement regarding the new Coldplay album “X & Y”. Although the album is a decent effort, I highly suggest that it isn’t even the most inspiring album released this week. The new Whites Stripes album “Get Behind Me Satan” is something that I feel is truly special and deserves much praise for it’s ability to open up the perception of what this duo is capable of. So, not to diss Coldplay, cause that was not the intent of this post (I remain a fan), but do yourself a favor and check out Get Behind Me Satan. At the very least, you won’t fall asleep listening to it and I don’t know if I can say that about “X & Y”. Continue reading

Bring a sack lunch.

I realize that a few of my more recent posts are pretty damn terrible. It is heartbreaking to see that these kinds of things are happening. As we see and hear about what is going on and the stories of these marginalized refugees, it’s like we are staring at a mountain we could never climb. The peak is so out of reach, out of sight even. We don’t even want make the attempt. We feel as if no matter what we do, how much we give, pray, volunteer…..it won’t really put a dent in this world of pain and suffering that so many are experiencing right now.

I was listening to a man named Gary Haugen speak about this very feeling. Gary Haugen is the founder and director of an orginazation called International Justice Mission. IJM is a non profit Christian organization that seeks to truly “spread freedom” for those who are in situations of darkness and hopelessness. They have succeeded in bringing children out of bonded slavery and have rescued women from forced prostitution. They are truly showing those who have no hope and love that there is a GOOD God. Please check out the IJM website when you get a chance and I also encourage you to become a partner with them in praying specifically for their operations all over the world.

As Gary spoke about this helplessness that we all feel when we read the papers and see the devastation, he brought up the story of Jesus feeding the four thousand from Mark 8. Jesus realizes that these people are all very hungry and have followed him for a few days. Jesus wants to send them home, but not on an empty stomach (what a guy!). He asks his disciples to feed them, but the disciples clue Jesus in on the fact that there not enough food to go around. Just seven loaves of bread and a few fish. Jesus asks them to act, but they reply “there is no way, we can’t. how could we feed so many with so little?” Sound familiar? Jesus simply asks them to give him the small amount of food. The disciples hand Jesus the food and after Jesus takes it, he blesses the meal. As the food was passed around there was plenty for the four thousand to eat and then some. Jesus took from his doubtful disciples what was essentially a sack lunch and provided a feast for thousands.

We must be faithful that our God is a God of justice and mercy. From this story we are shown that if we give simply what we have to give, God can provide the miracle that seems hidden from our doubting eyes. As Bono puts it, “God is on his knees calling us to act”. God is on his knees asking for our Seven loaves of bread and a few fish. We can’t sit back and wait for God to act. God is waiting for us. We are the ones we have been waiting for. Continue reading

Policy of Rape

[[image:162.jpg::right:0]]Here is another special report from Nicolas Kristof. Click here to learn about how women in Darfur refugee camps are being systematically raped in order to suppress the will of these refugees and also to simply “wipe out” their kind. Thanks for Nicolas Kristoff for going outside the American bubble and reporting to us what is happening in the outside world. Continue reading

Beautiful Weekend

[[image:IMG_6120.jpg::right:0]]We just got back from Greer, AZ. We spent Thurs.-Sat. taking it easy and breathing in some serious fresh air in the White Mountains of Arizona. Greer is indeed a magical place that we love to go and just do nothing, hang out with friends, enjoy what is one of the most beautiful areas in the state. Thanks to the VanSlyke’s for a great time. I posted a bunch of photos from the weekend here. Check out what it looks like when temperatures don’t reach higher than 78 in the Arizona Summer.

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141 Days of Silence

[[image:20050531_DARFUR_162.jpg::right:0]]Nicolas Kristoff, another New York Times Op-Ed writer, has put together a really interesting piece on Darfur and our lack of awareness and action when it comes to what’s happening there. Click here to view the piece. I hope that anyone who watches this will take some time to learn about what’s going on there at the moment and maybe even write your “elected officials” about your interest in supporting these refugees. As followers of Jesus, we should be ashamed that we have a president who apparently feels no pressure from us in any way to address more seriously these kinds of atrocities around the globe. I guess when you’re desperate to institute “private accounts” in a new social security plan, who has time to actually see how we can become involved in helping more of these refugees who are getting gang raped and hacked to pieces? Silly me. Continue reading