Friday, October 29, 2004

Finally finished Blue Like Jazz last night! WOW. I was so hurrying through it so I can get to Donald Miller's next book, "Searching for God Knows What." Such a great book though. I don't think any writer has ever captured my thoughts and feelings and put them into words as well as he did. And even though a lot of those things were things I maybe thought prior to reading them, I never really made them solid in my head (if that makes sense) or was actually challenged by those thoughts. Incredible communicator? Yes, Donald Miller, that's what you are.

Also had some incredible insights from two guys who are a part of this house church "movement" thing and got the chance to see how they "do church." (please excuse my over-use of quotation marks) I also hate describing it as a movement, because movement just has some culturally relevant negative connotation with it. I don't know, it just seems like calling house churches a "movement" makes them more of something that's hip and cool and fad-ish. I'd rather say that the house church thing is a vision than a movement. I like the terminology there much better.

I realized so much through talking with those guys how much we need to BREAK OUT of the stupid box that we often keep our minds in on what CHURCH really is. It is so not a building, it's so not a service, and it's so not what we really classify under its very title. It's the community that takes place. It's the way that Scripture calls for each person to bring something different to the table. I love how we can tie in the breaking of bread and actually eating a meal with family and with community. When a family eats a meal together, they create community. Someone last night said something about a "potluck dinner, potluck worship" and I think that is so beautiful. Absolutely profound. If you think about it, each person who brings something to a potluck dinner brings something completely different (even if it's called the same thing, you know it tastes different!), and it's the same way with worship. We each contribute in a different way. That's what the church seriously needs to capture, and I think some churches are doing that. The church is defined by those who make up that community--the different personalities, gifts, thoughts, ideas, philosophies, talents, theologies, etc. that are brought to the table. And I mean this not to make it sound like church should be completely relative and unbiblically postmodernist. The church can be this and still be biblical. In fact, that's what the church in the Bible began as! Why have we gone so far astray? How did we get there and how do we find our way back to Acts 2?

Thoughts on this? I'd love to hear comments...

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Behind tired eyes...

Back to Lincoln tomorrow...I've had a nice break away from there, even though I've only been home in Streator for the time away. Well, to Streator, back to Bloomington, back to Streator, to Seneca, Morris, & Joliet today, and back to Streator tonight. I've been living out of my packed bags, and hate that but yet can't get away from it. It will be nice to return, finally, to my apartment tomorrow!

I have the most beautiful & hilarious niece in the world. This morning as I was half asleep and she was getting ready to go to the babysitter's, I heard her say "Mandy" completely for the first time! I have only heard her call me "Manny" before so it was cute. I just love her little conversations with herself and with everyone else...especially the way she ends an incredibly long story of foreign gibberish with "yeah, yeah, yeah" as if she's admonishing the words she's just spoken. She's just so darn cute and innocent...taking after me :-)

Other random stuff---
-I want my hair cut like Meg Ryan's in Kate & Leopold. I think I'll do that this week.
-I'm going to Arizona from Dec. 27-Jan. 2 as of this morning. The house church leaders w/ Fuel are going together to the Indian reservation to meet the couples we're supposed to be supporting.
-I have a serious problem with shopping...or at least I have a serious problem w/ the guilt that follows my shopping.
-My friends Becka & Faith want me to move to Cali next year...tempting...but then there's my ministry w/ Fuel...and my family...things I don't know if I can leave.
-Jobs I'd love to do these days: wedding coordinator, songwriter, music journalist, something in advertising, photography....ok so these are things i'd love to do any day, not just these days. but how in the world do i get there?

Saturday, October 23, 2004

I love to be inspired. Tonight I realized that I am extremely inspired by reading other people's blogs. It's like a guilty pleasure. I wonder why the inspiration comes more from reading blogs than actual good conversations with people. Maybe it's because we're more open when writing...unsure of who will ever hear our thoughts, or if anyone will ever even see them. I'll always revert the blogosphere back to Meg Ryan's idea of sending our thoughts "out into the void" as in the good ol' chick flick You've Got Mail. I never quite know whether anyone is going to read these things or not. If no one read this, or even if multitudes and metropoli (?) read my blog, why in the world should I care?

It's like I always hold something back, but not always knowingly. I'm not sure what it is, but I just want my heart to flow freely from my fingertips and from my mouth. It's much easier to find it in my fingertips than from my mouth, but I suppose it will eventually make its way out there. Either way, it's still coming from me.

I think this is a part of my gradual learning about being free. This week as I read to my house church from my journal the previous night, I told them that God has been teaching me about freedom lately. It's like this message that just keeps unraveling further and further. The "theme" this week at Fuel was actually "Conviction in a Tolerant World" but there was much there to be learned about freedom instead. As a part of the 'unraveling' process this week, I realized how little conviction has to do with guilt, shame, sin, judgment, and all other negative connotations that go with it. In reality, conviction is a message of truth and freedom. It's about our faith in general, and about having a conviction for the person of Jesus Christ. Conviction is something that takes place in the heart prior to any future sin; this is contrary to most Christians' belief that conviction is what takes place after you've done something "wrong" and you feel guilty for it. Conviction drives us toward repentance before we even need it. It drives us to the uttermost humility that Jesus was and is.

So where does the freedom message come in? It's just that! I'm not guilty of anything anymore, because Jesus humbly took that on for me! Normally that should drive me to humiliation and embarassment because I'd be completely ashamed of myself for departing my burdens and sins onto someone else, but because Jesus lives for that very purpose, I'm free instead! What an incredible trade!

Don't you love when I flesh out my thoughts onto my blog? I think it's necessary for me to figure out who I am in the long run.

My question is this: Why can I write about all of these things and still it would take all of Home Depot to hammer and nail it to my heart and build it into my life? What in the world am I missing?

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

I'm such a dork...sometimes I like to coordinate my font color w/ the colors I'm wearing or thinking about. I'm wearing some new red pants today so I figured I'd write in this lovely shade of red. Reminds me of the pretty leaves on trees that I get to see so often while driving to all these college fairs lately! I do love driving by myself, I must admit. I have such a great time just blasting my favorite CD's and singing harmonies as loud as I want. I honestly think I have trained myself to sing better & better when I'm driving in the car! It's one of my favorite things to do! I'm realizing lately that singing is seriously one of the things that makes me most happy. I'm so jealous of people who play, sing, & write music, love it, and get paid to do it.

Here's what I listened to yesterday in the car:
*Shawn McDonald "Simply Nothing"
*The Swift
*Bethany Dillon (self-titled)
*old school Plumb CD, "Candycoatedwaterdrops"
*Hillsongs United Live "Best Friend" CD
*Matt Wertz, "23 Places"

I'm pretty sure I'm leaving work early has been so busy lately that I'm just exhausted. Dr. Searby even came in to tell me that I can leave @ 3 if I want to... that was nice of him! (Even though I have lots of extra hours that I could probably have done so w/out permission, it was nice of him to say that as my boss!) I can't wait to go home and put on some comfy clothes! I never thought I'd dream of wearing sweatpants & a hoody, but I sure do on rainy days like today!