Thursday, November 16, 2006

Collision

Tonight was good. We did our every-other-week-downtown-hot-dog-cookout, where we go give hot dogs to homeless people and drug addicts. What was different about this week, however, was that it is “homeless awareness week.” Now, I don’t know if this is just something Grand Rapids is celebrating, or if it’s something that’s more on a national level, but it was good none the less. We’ve been doing this pretty much every other week for the past seven months, so we’re getting to know many of the people who stay at Mel Trotter Ministries.

Tonight, though, we were given the opportunity take a tour of the facility. Normally, our world collides with the world of the people in drug rehab and homelessness for approximately an hour and a half on a street corner in downtown Grand Rapids. But tonight we were able to step into their world…the place where they live and work and eat and share life with one another on a daily basis. It was good to see the impact we’re able to have on people’s lives. Everyone was so excited for us to go through the ministry center…to get to see how they live…they welcomed us in with open arms because they’ve had the chance to get to know us throughout the past several months.

Mel Trotter is working right now on an initiative to do away with homelessness. To me that seems like a lofty goal, but I wonder what it would be like if there were no more people curling up in the doorways of shops, sleeping under bridges, begging for money outside of restaurants, or collecting pop cans during concerts downtown. I wonder what it would be like to no longer have to feed homeless people hot dogs. It’s one thing to go set up on a street corner and give away food, but would we be just as comfortable having these people sit down around my dinner table? Because if we’re serious about doing away with homelessness, then we may have to open up our homes to people who need a place to stay. As welcoming as I am, I’m not sure I’m ready for that. I want to be ready for that, but I’m not sure I am.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Journey Continues...

so, i've used other blogs before. yes, i'm a part of the myspace world, i've used xanga. i'll still use those to keep in touch with people, but this will be my thought space. this will be my place to spill it all. this is where i will craft my writing. this is where you, my readers, will hopefully be challenged and entertained and changed. quite a dream for a modest blog. enjoy.

some people's lives seem to just happen without much heartache, without much struggle, without pain or suffering, without every questioning what's going on, without wondering what's going to happen next. sometimes i wish mine were that way. i wish i didn't have to struggle through leadership issues at church. i wish i didn't have to fight so hard to do what God has called me to. i wish i didn't have to wonder how long i will be in a certain position or how long i would have influence over people around me. sometimes i wish i could settle into security and stability without any hint of the unknown.

but then i wonder if i would really be happy there. i mean, my personality thrives on change. while i certainly value deep friendships, especially with my wife, i feel most alive when everything around me is changing. right now everything is changing. i'm in the process, with several other people, of starting a church. this is nuts. i just gave up a well-paying job to help pastor a new church, and we don't even know for sure if it will be able to financially support me and my wife. but, this is obedience...this is faith. i will see God move just as he has in so many ways with my past circumstances. maybe stability and security is not meant for me. maybe i would be miserable with a typical 9 to 5 job. maybe i was created for something different.

it's sort of ironic that i'm planting a church since i've come to have a love/hate relationship with the church. i think most of our churches have simply become a subculture of the society that we live in. the american church is typically a few years behind cultural and technological trends, and thus is always playing catch up with the culture around them. just when something is new in our culture, the church is doing something that was new three years ago and is now outdated and irrelevant.

in fact, why should we even try to be a part of our culture. Jesus' message was counter-cultural to the society he lived in, and as i look at the depths of his message, it seems that it is even counter-cultural to our society today. i mean, does our society really say, "deny yourself?" does it really say, "sell all you have and give it to the poor?" does it really say, "forget everything you've ever learned and become like a child?" no, it says, "look out for number one...save enough money to retire...keep climbing the ladder to maturity."

well, i say a life well-lived...at least for me...will be one where i don't stop fulfilling the burning in my heart to live the way Jesus lived. this might mean i'll never be able to retire. this might mean i'll never be able to buy a vacation home or a boat or a fancy car or a bigger, nicer house. but, i'm ok with that...i think.