Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Fun Day

Originally uploaded by paddlepastor
What a great time I had on the river yesterday. Jesse and his eldest needed some father/son time. Eric hasn't been on the water in a couple of months. And Cody was out from Minnesota visiting his dad, but really wanted to go kayaking. And it all worked out. What a sweet opportunity to take the kayaks the Lord has blessed me with, and put them to good use providing fun & fellowship for others.

I love the water. Getting out in my kayak provides a real soul restorer for me. Beauty, solitude, fellowship, exercise, the coolness of the water on a hot summer day, these are just a few of the blessings available when I go kayaking.

I love to share this experience. Over the last 20 years I have literally taken out hundreds of people. I can count on one hand how many have NOT enjoyed the experience. So many end up remarking on the same qualities of enjoyment as me. And quite a few have made purchases as a result (hey, kayak/canoe industry, you owe me a commission!).

I am really happy that the Lord has blessed me with a ministry that includes kayaking.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Let's Talk

I had a mom who was a stickler for grammar. All through my childhood and well into my adulthood she would correct my speech if I slipped even a bit. "Don't end a sentence with a preposition." "That's a double negative." "That's lay down, not lie down." (Or is it lie down, not lay down? I don't remember). Yep, oops, yes, this got old very quickly, and I admit I put a stop to it later on in my life. But I have to say that it really did teach me a lot of correct speaking, and today I value what was drilled into me. The irony of this for me is that my mother was southern born and raised (the south has sort of been looked upon as linguistically inferior to the north), and she never went to college. But she was educated, nonetheless, and, by golly, (notice all the commas, I hope I got them all correct, darn it, correctly) she was going to make sure her kids got it right.

I came across this test on the web, and having taken it, I was intrigued by the results. I can definitely see some Kentucky influence in the 20%, and the 5% midwestern is from my dad. By the way, General American English really means Californian. We speak it right out here in the Golden State!

Have a great day.

Your Linguistic Profile:

55% General American English

20% Dixie

10% Yankee

5% Midwestern

0% Upper Midwestern

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Telling All???

John has written an interesting blog today over at Smulospace. How personal should one get about their life on a blogsite? Most of what I have seen in the Emerging/Missional blogsites centers around ideas, beliefs, and book reviews. Sometimes someone may get intensely personal about their own experiences. But it seems fairly uncommon. Sometimes someone may rant and rave over a particular issue or pet peeve. And then there are many blogsites I've perused that read rather like a diary, but usually pretty light-hearted. I guess I haven't seen a lot of mixing going on. But when a blogger is going through a particulary tough time, a personal crisis, tragedy, or duress, how honest should they get? I suppose this is up to each individual.

When we are really under the gun, it is important that we not stand alone. This is the time when the devil can really pick at us if we bear all the burden of trial upon our own shoulders. The Bible commands us to bear one another's burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ. This isn't only about my willingness to shoulder someone else's pain, but my willingness to reach out for help when I'm in pain, as well.

But there is a deep core of fear in most people's hearts that opening up honestly and sharing our burdens will make us vulnerable to rejection, ridicule, and even betrayal. Many who grew up in dysfunctional homes can well identify with the experience of being shamed or humiliated when as a child they may have tried to express something tender, or sensitive, or sentimental. Others of us may have experienced this as adults, on the job, or, unfortunately, even in our marriages. Precedent dictates that it seems safer to hide our pain.

Recovery teaches me, however, that I need to disclose my real self, to be honest with God, myself, and to another human being, and perhaps to several people. The trick is to find a safe place in which to do so. In most 12-step recovery meetings, there are rules that are in place to create this safety, rules such as anonymity, confidentiality, no cross-talking, judging, or advice giving. I have personally found that when these rules are in place, respected by all and followed (or enforced), the meeting becomes an incredible place for healing. Where they are absent, the possibility of further trial or harm becomes likely.

On the web, then, on blogsites, the question is, "how safe is it to disclose?" Some may bare their souls and may find they are not alone. Some may feel it is worth the repercussions. And some may feel quite wary. If we think this, then let us quickly seek out other safe places to share our burdens and trials. If we don't have any resources available, then we should at least start by emailing someone we think we can trust and see if they are willing to dialogue privately. And let us not feel like we are unqualified to teach, blog, share, or explain on our blogsites, even if we are going through a hard time. It is important to keep talking. At least I have found this in my own experiences in life.

Finally, I want to note that many of us experience the love, respect, and camaraderie of others when we are giving something good and valuable, when we're strong and well. But let us not forget that deep down in our hearts, there is an ache, a genuine need to be loved, accepted, and even esteemed, when we are hurting or not doing well. One will never know the depth of true love when one hides themselves in the time of need. When we are hurting, and when we risk disclosure, we will find a love that goes far beyond the love we get when all is going well.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Synchroblogging: movies and Christianity

My first attempt at synchroblogging. And I don't think I got it right. Oh well, here's my thoughts on the subject.

I go to movies to be moved more than any other reason. I like to laugh, and some light-hearted fare provides some good temporary escape from the demands of life, but I long to be moved in my heart by what I've seen and heard on the big screen.

And redemption themes ring my bell more than any other. I will NEVER, NEVER forget the scene of Jesus hanging on the cross, blood running down His arms and legs, mingling in with the flowing rivulets of storming rain water, spreading down the mountain and across the land, as Miriam and Tirzah are suddenly healed of horrific leprosy in the movie Ben Hur. I viewed this on tv at the tender age of 15, six whole months before I would discover my Savior for myself. I tried to swallow a sudden squeak, a cry climbing up from within, trembling, wanting the rescue that they received. I look back now at the not so tender age of 50, and the movie seems oh so 1950's melodramatic. But that scene went inside of me to a place that has never relinquished the hope I received that day.

Other redemptive favorite moments? When Shoe-less Joe Jackson looks at Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, and says, "this was all for you". When Luke Skywalker begins crying, "Father, save me" in Return of the Jedi. When the victim and the murderer, the itinerant cotton farmer and the widow, the adulterer and his wife, when the orphan boy and his sister pass our Lord's cup at the very end of Places In The Heart. There are more, many more, but these are some of my best.

Monday, May 14, 2007


We had the wonderful priviledge of hearing Pastor Fred Tumwezabe speak to us this last week on two occasions. Hailing from Uganda, he is in the States bringing God's word to us, and raising awareness and support for his outreach program in Uganda. Burdened for the millions of children left homeless by the AIDS epidemic, he has set up a broad program that includes schooling, orphanage, fostering services, and vocational assistance. Several of his American supporters who have visited him in Uganda have come back inspired at the work the Lord is doing through him. As to him being missional, well, I was inspired by the story of a well that was funded by American contributions and dug on church property to provide clean water. The villagers thought the well was only for the church people, but Pastor Fred has opened it up to the whole community. It has made a big impact for the work of the Lord!

Last Saturday, we held an outdoor church get-together/service at Mather Lake. Hauling out around 20 kayaks, we had a good time paddling around the lake, with teens, kids, and even some retiree's with us. Then the bbq started with our hamburger flipper Corey braising up a feast of burgers and hot dogs for us. After eating we gathered everyone together, had three worship songs impomptu, but done wonderfully by Carol, Mary, & Dave, and then Pastor Fred got up to speak to us. The breeze kicked up, but it was though the Holy Spirit was clearing out the junk in our heads and hearts so we could hear the good word the Lord spoke through Pastor Fred. I personally got convicted and am so thankful to the Lord for speaking to me through Pastor Fred!

How important it is for all of us American Christians to get out of our small, ethnocentric view of our faith and hear what God is doing in His WORLDWIDE church. How wonderful to be taught by a man from a far away land who loves Jesus and brings many valuable insights to us.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

God For People Who Hate Church

John Smulo & I are here at the above named conference. A panel of speakers just finished presenting different ways to be out-reaching to those who don't know the Lord. The emphasis in this conference, though, is two fold:

1. Learning how to show love & respect in our approach by using language that is unassuming and unoffensive.

2. Being a people of action that affects the welfare and immediate needs of the community and individuals we know. This is sometimes known as the "social gospel" but is known around here as the gospel in action.

A lot has been said about becoming very excellent listeners, something that seems to be lacking in the evangelical world. "People won't care what you say, unless they know that you care." "Preach the Gospel and when necessary, use words." I think St. Francis is the author of that last quote.

Earlier this morning there was a panel discussion with three atheists who told us of their world view and how they view Christians and Christianity. Since so many Christians have treated atheists as the enemy, as almost unhuman, they do not trust Christians. But in reality, atheists, like all other groups of people and like Christians, are humans.

I've also met some wonderful Christians here, and I'm excited to read many of their blogposts. That's all for now.

Steve R.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Missional Thinking & The 12-Steps

When I read so many missional/emerging conversational web sites, I get excited because so much of it rings true for me. I am no longer alone in my thinking or my experiences. I also get excited for another reason. Many of the issues I see others grappling with I realize I have found some very certain answers in the program of 12-Step recovery. I have known for a long time that this program of recovery has power to address many afflictions, not just drugs & alcohol. Little did I realize how much this program would be relevant to the experiences that have brought me to the missional conversation today.

It is exciting to see that John Smulo has brought up the topic of the 12-Steps on today's posting of his blogpage, and I am grateful that he has mentioned River City Ministries. I am wondering how many others out there in the missional blogosphere have had exposure to the 12-Step program of recovery, whatever form it was (alcohol, co-dependency, gambling, debt, etc.), and if it has been helpful in adding to your understanding of the way God works, & the way as Christians we outreach to the world. I find strong missional parallels.

There's a ton of things to talk about in this, and in the weeks ahead I will be posting topics that I feel overlap the missional conversation and 12-Step recovery.

So how about it? Any of you been positively affected in your faith by the dynamics of the 12-Step recovery?