Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sadening Stats that Should Not Come as a Surprise

Katie was reading through one of her teaching books and came across these stats. As much as I have studied youth culture and church culture over the last four years I cannot help but become sad when I hear stats such as these.

- The Average Child receives 12 minutes of attention each day from his or her parents

- By age 18, most American have spend more time in front of the television than they have with friends or parents

- The average adolescent spends more then three hours alone everyday

- Loneliness is the number one problem of the elderly, many of who are afraid to venture out of their homes or apartments.

Wong, Harry K. and Rosemary T. Wong, "How to Be an Effective Teacher: The First Days of School" Harry K. Wong Publications 2005, pg. 76

The sad part is that these stats are no different within the usual Christian family. It is no wonder that our teenagers are leaving the church in droves after high school and our elderly are held up within dying churches or elderly homes. I guess by the time that most adults have grown up they have completely bought into a consumerist culture which convinces them that their wants and desires should be at the center of all of their choices, leaving their children and parents to care for themselves.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

What is Normal but a Setting on a Wash Machine?

I have been thinking a lot about how many of us get comfortable with the way things are. Many of us do not like change at all. For instance, about a month ago a new coffee shop in the Glendora area closed its doors. This coffee shop had become a home away from home for me. I knew almost every employee by name and I had many good spiritual conversations with the owner. Sadly, the coffee shop had to close its door because a lack of funds. This news made me really sad, not only for the owner and his employees, but for myself. I had gotten into such a routine and when I was forced to change that routine I became uncomfortable.
I think many of us are like me, we get use to going through our daily life becoming more and more comfortable with our routines and the normalcy we see around us. We almost never take the time to raise questions concerning our routines and the normalcy around us, we just accept it for what it is.
The musician Conor Oberst has a song called, "I must belong somewhere." The song raises questions about normalcy. Oberst sings, "Everything it must belong somewhere, they locked the devil in the basement and threw god up into the air, yea everything must belong somewhere..." Obsert seems to be asking if everything, even himself, are where they belong and as they should be.
Reading through the gospels I cannot help but notice that during Jesus' ministry he never really stays in one place for very long. It makes me wonder if he did this to avoid normalcy to avoid life become to routine. Instead it seems that Jesus fought against everything that seemed normal, routine, and just the way things are. I mean the man walks into the temple and just goes nuts! He turns over tables, kicks people out and questions the way things were during his time.
I have to wonder if during all of life's normalcy, somehow I have allowed my life to become clogged up by money changers and sellers? Maybe I have failed to take the time and question what has become so normal to me? Maybe I have allowed my life to become to much of a routine that somehow I have missed the beauty lost in every moment? I even wonder if the Church, like myself has become like this?
You see, I think we all need times where we turn over some tables, whether it be in our own life or even in the Church itself. I think we all should fight against what seems normal and start asking questions. Why is this, this way? Is this right? How did things get this way?
May we all start raising questions about what seems normal. May we all turn over some tables. May we all begin to be uncomfortable. May we all begin to question what seems to belong. All in hopes of growing, hearing, and being as God has called us to be at that moment, until we let another one pass us by in the midst of our routine.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Life update: Moving from Winter into Spring

It has almost been a good three months since I have written a blog. Much of the reason for that is that during much of January through late March I was bogged down by homework from school. Last, quarter was for sure the hardest quarter of my school life. Not only was Hebrew really hard for me to learn, but I lost my job in December, and was going through some random medical stuff that turned out to be really nothing. After tests and multiple visits to the doctors it turns out I have Vitiligo, which is a disease that causes your skin to loss its pigmentation. Luckly, I am so fair skinned that I have had the disease for years now and never realized it!
Now that is all over and I am into a new quarter life has begun to feel much less stressful. I am in my last quarter at Fuller Theological Seminary, only taking 6 units (12 units are full-time, so I am basically half-time), and I am looking forward to moving on with my life. Yet, with this movement also comes change. For the first time in my life I am looking for a full-time job. I pray--and hope you pray with me--that I will find a job in youth ministry, which I have been studying for over the last four years. Sadly though because the economy is so bad everywhere right now, churches are not really hiring as much. On top of that many churches are cutting jobs so many more people are out there looking and applying for the same few jobs that their are. I have really worried that I will be stuck at a nine to five office job where I will hate every minute of my life more than anything. Please, please be in prayer for me about this!
At the same time, as I stated above, this movement brings about change not only in having to get a job, but in possibly changing locations. I need to stay in California--sorry all those out in Utah and CO land--because my longtime girlfriend Katie is getting her California teaching credential. Both Katie and I have also come to love this area of California and the good friends and family we have here. So that hope is that we will stay in the Glendora/Pasadena area, but we will have to wait and see.
As April comes to an end and May starts I will move into my sixth week of my final quarter at Fuller and life will continue you change. Here's to trying to put it all in God's hands.
Blessings to all, as you are a blessing to many.