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Category Archives: transparency

mixedseedsAlright all you church planters in Austin, I know you’re out there because you can’t pick up the Austin American Statesman without reading a story about a new church plant. What is your response to the genius that is Jon Birch? If you don’t subscribe to his blog, you need to because his no nonsense approach to questioning our perceptions about ourselves and the church is sorely needed in today’s world of churchianity.

sunset_thru_trees, originally uploaded by carlmc.

Sunlight falls where it may
Shadows fall at will
Green springs forth and
Pathways lead us between

i thank you God for most this amazing…

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

–e.e. cummings

As the school year ends, we stand at the waters edge and reflect… What do you see?

trees on Guadalupe River

Guadalupe River Texas

Swimming at Barton Springs, originally uploaded by carlmc.

The trees are out to get us!!!!

Austin must remove part of the canopy surrounding Zilker Park and Barton Springs Pool according to the consulting firm hired to assess such matters.

Officials made the decision to remove the trees after they got the results of an assessment done by the Davey Resource Group, an Ohio-based tree care and consulting company, in the fall. The city paid $250,000 for the work, which includes the assessment, the treatment of damaged trees and the replacement of dangerous trees, Passmore said. –American Statesman

Here’s a question, and it’s really just a question. Would the consulting firm hired by a city find a need to replace some trees if it helps the bottom line? I mean, would they be more likely to find it necessary to remove and replace trees if that’s what they get paid to do? OK, a few questions… A firm from Ohio to tell us about our Texas trees? Don’t we have any good urban foresters who live and work in Texas? I know SFA has a forestry program, we gotta have some grads from there who started consulting firms!

Fear is a powerful force that is gripping us as a culture. We don’t have an evil empire to fight (unless we count ourselves as such), we don’t have any real needs (at least those of us who live in suburban comfort, and yes I count me in that bunch). We are searching for something worth living for!

So, we have to find things to frighten us, to give us something to rally against. It’s the Swine Flu that forces us to use sterilized, pre-packaged communion elements and cancel all UIL athletic events. Or, it’s the Republicans or the Democrats! Or, you get the idea…

The cycle must continue unabated, lest we be able to think about someone else really in need. Like people who lost their homes in a fire, or children without shoes, or (insert your own viable cause here).

The trees are next in this endless cycle and next month it will be something else.

Because we can buy almost anything our heart desires, we find ourselves searching for that which elevates us above the transaction. We’ve grown tired of buying, we need to find something else to sustain us…

“Being frightened is an experience you can’t buy.”
—- Anthony Price – Sion Crossing (1984)

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Waves by David Sifry

Waves by David Sifry

The post-Christian world has been proclaimed in Europe and is certainly making serious inroads in North America. I hope the prognosticators are correct, I am hopeful that “Christianity” as we’ve defined it in the west for the last 500 years is dead (or dying) so that it may be reborn, resurrected, redeemed for God’s purpose instead of ours. I have to keep reminding myself that the church is not the creation of man, that we are only here to participate in what God is already doing. We are here to provide witness to the beauty of the church and to seek justice…to practice love of God and each other.

Sometimes, I catch a glimpse of what it means to be the church in ways that don’t disrupt my sensibilities (I was not brought up in the church and I still get the creepy, heeby jeebies when church is being done as a proposition to be bought).  This week in Austin, I was fortunate to see the church being what I believe the church should be. A group of people who cared not for themselves, but instead cared only for others who needed them.

Tragedy struck an apartment complex in a consuming fire that left many families homeless. During times like these it is often the burden of family and friends and the Red Cross that provide most, if not all the help available to victims. This time was different.

I was checking my twitter feed that evening after work and noticed a lot of chatter about this fire from some local church leaders, Brandon Hatmaker from Austin New Church , Michael Stewart from Austin Stone, as well as  Justin Lopez.

From what little I know, Austin Stone ,who is moving into this St Johns neighborhood in northeast Austin, teamed with Ebenezer Family Church (Iglesia Centro Familiar Ebenezer) and stepped up to the plate to take care of these neighbors in a time of deep vulnerability. This is to be commended, but this is to be expected of neighbors.  But, what’s really cool is Austin New Church and my tribe Journey Imperfect Faith Community, and probably many other churches I’m not even aware of joined in this effort with volunteers and basic necessities. (If you are part of one of those churches or know of them, please leave a comment to let me know.)

I am not speaking as a church leader, and I’m not speaking for others and I can’t speak to how this help mobilized in other faith communities, but for us it was a couple of emails and a commitment by the group to provide clothing from our stash at the church and an agreement to go shopping for other needs. Wham! Just like that, less than 24 hours later our small community of people delivered on our promise to help. The power of people with the willingness to ask how can we help is I believe the unstoppable power of love. Like waves crashing the beach in succession the very earth is transformed!

And you came upon me wave on wave,
You’re the reason I’m still here.
Am I the one you were sent to save,
when you came upon me wave on wave.
The clouds broke and the angels cried,
You ain’t gotta walk alone,
That’s why he put me in your way,
And you came upon me wave on wave. –Pat Green

“I’ve never seen Austin churches partner in such a unified effort.It’s been amazing to see” -Red Cross Volunteer

But, I know this is the exception, not the rule. Otherwise, why would the Red Cross Volunteer be so amazed at the effort? I think we’re like the lost robot in this video; we need the kindness of strangers to help us get back on track, to help us find our way back into the journey we’ve been called to by our maker.

Once again, I’m speaking as just a guy who has not bought into any leadership or church model to redeem the world. I’ll leave the details to God. But, I will continue to ask questions of those who will listen. I’ll talk about that in my next post.

In the meantime, thank you to all my new friends and may we continue to bless those who need blessing. The seasons will change, but the needs will continue; so, may we commit to watch over each other, to listen, to love without condition.

We went to dinner for Fat Tuesday tonight. Had a big burger, a shake, and some fries. As we’re getting in the car, I hear “Dammit!” from the backseat. My sweet little girl has just shouted her first curse after she spilled her shake. I know I should be upset, wonder where she heard this before (hmmm, I wonder). But, all I can do is try to keep from laughing. Of course Bailey ruins it by breaking out in laughter. So, for Lent we’ll be giving up cussing around the kids.ally_nose_pic

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New Year…New Desire to become reconciled to God, to me, to you. Don’t know how well I’ll do, but gotta start somewhere right?

“You won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil.”
—Genesis 3:4-5 “The Message”

I’m tired of hiding half-naked in the trees, so God I confess I think I know better than you. They say admitting the problem is the start of the solution, so there you have it. I have sold out to the lies of evil in this world, but I’m ready to give it up, to surrender, to recognize that I don’t have all the answers.

So…my question to God is, “Where do we go from here?”