Well, I’m rested and working on a longer post…since I won’t have a computer until Tuesday, I’ll talk to you then.
Well, I’m rested and working on a longer post…since I won’t have a computer until Tuesday, I’ll talk to you then.
I’ve been awake for about FIFTY-TWO hours right now. Yep. I’ve been awake since noon on Wednesday, putting together my final project for scene design. I have never–never pulled two all-nighters in a row before.
I’ll be honest, it’s actually been a really fun two days. A few good friends of mine were also stuck in the scene design room all week, so even though it was a lot of stressful, tedious work, it was kind of a party. We ordered pizza, played hangman on the chalkboard, or hit 7-11 when we needed a break.
You know, every person I talk to says that this has been a really difficult term for them. It’s certainly been the most difficult college term I’ve ever had. I have friends who are having financial trouble, relational trouble, time trouble…the list goes on and on. I don’t know what was going on in the world for the last three months, but whatever it was, it was an epic struggle.
I’m a little tired, so I don’t really have the mental capacity to say anything meaningful about stress or dating or money or school or any other trials and tribulations, but just know, if I’d had some sleep, I would :)
On this day, the 66th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, I can do no better than to link readers of this blog to a transcript of Chuck Colson’s daily radio broadcast, Breakpoint. This broadcast, titled “Forgiving our Enemies,” deals with the wonderful testimony of Jacob DeShazer, a POW in Japan. What you won’t learn by reading the transcript is that DeShazer was a Central Oregonian, having grown up in and around Madras.
Be sure to check out the new Antioch Kids’ web site. It’s amazing!
As most of our friends know, Ken is Dutch.
Celebrating St. Nicholas Day is a tradition passed down from Ken’s family that we have carried on with our girls. The actual day is December 6th, but we have always celebrated it on the 5th. Not too sure why (honestly, I think Ken just got a little confused the first year we were married, but the date sort of stuck…so that’s when we celebrate. Fine with me. I’m not Dutch, so I think getting a present or two anytime before Christmas is pretty exciting).
So, anyhow, tonight the girls and I celebrated St. Nicholas Day with a couple close friends. It’s always a lot of fun with the excitement and energy that come from a 2, 4 and 6 year old at a gift exchange.
But tonight’s party was nothing like the real Dutch celebration. We were introduced to that earlier this week at the Dutch Club Saint Nicholas Party with Oma and Opa (Ken’s folks). That was an experience! Mary Joy and Esther were both frightened to death by the “Zwarte Piets” that came in passing out gifts. It was their first exposure to the real Dutch experience.
In case you don’t know much of the legend here’s something I pulled off the Internet:
“Sinterklaas (Dutch name for St. Nicholas) arrives in the Netherlands by way of steamboat from Spain 2 weeks before his traditional birthday, December 6th, along with his helper, Zwarte Piet (Black Pete), who will help disperse the gifts and candy to all the good children. Sinterklaas, along with the zwarte piets, will go abroad at night and stride about the countryside wearing his red mantle, his mitre, and his golden crosier and sporting a long, white beard. Referring to his book that lists all the good and bad children, Sinterklaas will deliver presents to all the good children, but watch out if you’ve been bad!”
This story is reenacted every year in full costume as standard celebration protocol along with singing and lots of interesting food. The kids set out their wooden shoes–like we set out stockings, only they leave a carrot instead of milk and cookies–and then are left with a nice gift from Sinterklaas sometime in the night. (Come to think of it, that’s probably why we celebrate it on the 5th. We never really set out the shoes at our house, I just thought they made cute seasonal decorations. Can you tell I’m new to this Dutch thing?)
With Ken in Uganda for 9 more days it’s been good to keep the girls distracted with fun activities. We’ve gotten quite a bit of mileage out of the St. Nicholas celebrations, now we’ll focus on some fun Advent traditions and our count-down chain that keeps track of the days until Daddy gets home.
Today, we were fortunate enough to receive a phone call from Ken. With the time delay that occurs with international calls, five minutes wasn’t a lot of time to split between four girls. But, we were glad to hear his voice and get to tell him how much we love and miss him.
He said the trip has been really amazing so far. I can’t wait to see his pictures and hear all of the stories of his experience.
I went out to sing karaoke with some friends last night, and we took a girl with us who had never sung karaoke before. She swore she wouldn’t like it, but after two duets she was scouring the songbook for another song to sing. There’s one more karaoke addict in the world…yay!
P.S. The movie Hit Man isn’t really that great :(
At Antioch, we’re in a sermon series called Elements. Pastor Ken opened the series last week with “Earth.” Today, Brandon Groza challenged us with “Wind.” He shared that throughout the Old Testament, the Hebrew word ruach is translated both “wind” and “spirit,” and that this “movement of God” (wind/Spirit) has been at work in the world since the beginning. In OT human history, this movement rested on particular people for particular seasons. This Spirit was at work in and through Jesus during His ministry, death and resurrection, and then (in the events at Pentecost recorded in Acts 2) was given permanently to all those who became followers of Christ.
Of course, the Spirit of God is still active 2000 years after the events recorded in the New Testament, and Brandon’s challenge was to ask whether we are putting up our sails and allowing God’s ruach to move us according to His will, or whether we are piling up barriers to shield ourselves from Him.
To ensure that we keep this challenge fresh in our minds, God has provided our area with a continuous strong barrage of gale-force winds that began last evening and shows no signs of abating. Let’s hope He doesn’t give us a literal illustration to enforce next week’s element, “Fire.”
It’s bitter cold and rainy here in Portland. Last night I was standing out in the downpour hanging onto a box that weighs a ton and being knocked to the ground over and over; this morning I was covered in blood, lying fully clothed in a bathtub for two hours, and I had a blast…shooting a short film :)
You ever take a second to look at yourself and think, “What on earth am I doing right now?” I’ve been in a few of those situations this term. The short film is one; the dancing I’m doing for my friend’s choreography class project is another. I seem to get caught up in a lot of those little projects and diversions…I think it’s because I love people.
People are fascinating. We have so many incredibly varied passions, hobbies, angles, insecurities, quirks, private pleasures, and internal lives. I watched a friend of mine get frustrated as we left a restaurant today because there was no way to recycle her plastic drinking cup. This same friend doesn’t like the idea of cutting down Christmas trees because it kills the tree–classic Portlander. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that at all…like I said: I just love people.
Attending a secular university has been an enlightening experience for me. It’s funny: when you grow up in church it can be easy to think that “good people” go to church, and people that don’t go to church or don’t behave a certain way are lesser, or bad. The truth is, there are lots of truly wonderful, life-enriching people in the world that don’t believe anything like what I believe. Maybe it sounds weird to say, but I feel like Jesus would agree with me…he loved a lot of unchurched people too.
Still, at the end of the day, the people I connect with the most powerfully are people that share my beliefs, because their priorities are ordered the way mine are, and they are excited most by the things that excite me most: living compassionately, meaningfully, and purposefully, and making the world a better place. I imagine that’s why God designed church to be (as Ken likes to say) his “plan A” for changing the world, because it’s engineered to inspire, sustain, and restore the people within it and the people without it.
It occurred to me over the course of this term that I tend to hold myself back artistically. I like to compare myself to other people, and as long as I’m doing as well as everyone else, I feel like I’m doing well. But what I realized is that measuring myself according to other people only works as long as there are people to compare to, and once I’m out of school I really won’t have that luxury anymore. So what’s going to keep me doing art once I graduate?
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that for a really long time I’ve been operating as an artist without any passion. I’m writing, acting, composing, singing, or whatever simply because I can, and I assume that as long as I’m “doing a good job,” I’m doing okay.
But the truth is–and I got this listening to my writing teachers–that the best reason to do art is because you love it. You have to love it…you have to love the creative process. That’s probably self-evident to most people, but it was a rather profound discovery for me.
“Do your best at art because the art deserves it. If you truly love your particular art and truly respect its power and beauty, do it justice.”
That’s what I’m so bad at doing. I figure as long as my art is good enough that no one will think it sucks, I must be doing a good job. I guess, in the end, passion is a much more satisfying reason to be an artist, because it frees me from being dependent on other people’s approval for success.
Ultimately, it seems to me that the most powerful reason for doing art is that it satisfies some deep, personal need within me. If I’m not driven to the writing pad or the piano or the stage by something powerful and spiritual, I’ll never really enjoy art, and I’ll certainly never create anything meaningful.
I couldn’t think of anything exceptionally profound to write about today, so I thought I’d just say hello :)
I grew up in Bend, but I’m currently a theater student at Portland State University. Ken has been an essential friend and mentor to me ever since he moved to Bend, so I’m looking forward to guest authoring on his blog and conversing with you.
Happy November 29th ;)
Bags are getting packed and I’m off in the morning to Uganda.
I’ve asked my friends Ben Larson and Rick Gerhardt to be “Guest Contributor’s” to the blog while I’m gone. They’re two of the most interesting and well written individuals I know!!
Tamara also has author rights…
So enjoy all their thoughts and writings, which will certainly be more interesting than the stuff I come up with!!!
Be back in 15 days…
We had a great staff meeting this morning and one of the phrases that came out really struck me.
The comment was that the staff are the chief servants. We choose to give all that we can and wear ourselves thin. Weather the word “chief” fits or not (there are tons of servants at Antioch) the truth is that ministry can be exhausting.
I’m reminded of the woman who touched Jesus’ robe and Jesus “felt the power leave him.” Whether its a great application of that text or not, I still think of that image when analyzing ministry… it can be draining.
The question then is, “Why would people pour themselves out that much?” That’s what got me excited… Our staff wouldn’t be doing what they’re doing unless they were committed to the vision of the church and to being used by God to minister to others.
The fact that staff is often exhausted, and that they are still here and still gladly pouring themselves out, is proof that they are servants… great in God’s eyes… and worthy of honor.
So the point… I guess that I’m just glad to have people I respect and call “friends” working on the team.
Our friends Evan and Lyndsey came over last night and helped us and the girls get our Christmas Tree up.
In case you didn’t know, my friend Jon Lemke at Antioch set up a Christmas Tree lot in his side yard… if you still need a tree make sure you find him!!
So I found out today that I am four days behind on taking the typhoid fever pills before I leave Thursday for Uganda. Not fun.
I asked the pharmacist what I could do and her response was simply, “Pray you don’t get typhoid.” Encouraging…
Yesterday was the first time it was Mary Joy’s birthday on Thanksgiving Day since the day she was born (a neat story for another time!!)
We celebrated by eating on Wednesday night and going to Disneyland yesterday. We thought we were pretty smart, but it turns out that half of California goes to Disneyland on Thanksgiving :)
Anyway, Esther just made the 40″ height requirement so we all ran from one ride to another… I think it was the best day of her life!!
So I started thinking on the road down to California what lessons I’ve learned since we planted Antioch a little over a year ago.
The question has been banging around in my head ever since…
Here are my thoughts as they stand right now (I’m certain I’d change something if I kept thinking about it, but I want to focus on the Turkey and the Dallas Cowboys this Thursday instead of church planting lessons :)
1. Prayer Matters
I hate talking about prayer sometimes because it can sound very cliche. The truth, however, is that Antioch from start to finish has been about prayer. The good things that have happened stemmed from prayer or answers to prayer and the bad things that have happened stemmed from my thinking that I know what I’m doing.
There is nothing more significant to me in the last year than my deep realization that when it comes to God’s church… prayer matters.
2. Leadership Matters
I’m learning more as I read through scripture that when God wants to move in this world he does it through people… ordinary men and women.
These people lead.
They are sometimes assertive by nature and sometimes passive yet with a willingness to respond to God’s call. They are sometimes bold and sometimes timid. They are sometimes project people and sometimes people people. They are many different things… but they are all God’s leaders. Without these people nothing would happen.
In looking back at Antioch over the last year it is becoming clear to me that everything happens because of the leadership and service of a couple dozen people. Without these people nothing would happen.
A prime example is the recent college that was given to Antioch… without Lindsey Taft and Sheryl Bryant it would have been enough to swamp us, but with them it is slowly turning into a wonderful bright spot with exciting possibilities.
3. Selfless People Matter
Church ought to be a movement away from self and toward community. So it is no wonder that church and community grow and develop most through the work of selfless men and women.
I don’t know how to make a person selfless, but I do know that they are invaluable.
(Long live the set up team and the children’s workers!!!!)
4. Creativity Matters
We have been on a journey to rethink church since before we started Antioch. Our compass has always been the New Testament church, the teaching of Jesus and the four commitments that we have: Christ Centered, Authentic Spirituality, Inclusive Community and Missional.
The creativity, ingenuity, innovation and fresh thinking have become what Antioch symbolizes to me. With this it is fun and meaningful. Without it I feel that it would be mechanical, routine and stale.
As I look forward to what is to come, I get excited because I believe in Antioch, I believe in the creative spirit and talent at our church and I truly believe that there are fresh and amazing adventures on the horizon… because at Antioch, creativity matters!!
5. Mission Matters
We just finished a three week series on Human Rights. The in depth look at Compassion and Advocacy has reminded me that church doesn’t exist exclusively for us. Church is a highly effective tool that God uses to reach people in this world and love them spiritually, emotionally AND physically.
I am absolutely committed to making a difference in this world with the life that God has given me… and I know of no better reason to get out of bed on a Sunday morning than that!
Mission matters… for without it, the church would simply be providing entertainment.
Lastly, I began thinking that Antioch matters. If for no other reason, it is the stimulus that I have needed to keep running after, trusting and depending on God.
I sat down to write something meaningful, but the only thing that I can come up with is that Mary Joy (my firstborn daughter) lost her very first tooth today. She’s more proud of it than anything I’ve seen before.
It wasn’t the kind of thing I was thinking about writing, but maybe it’s something meaningful!!
2 days of driving…
1 night in a Best Western with a funky smell…
1 In N Out burger…
20,000 potty breaks with 4 girls…
and we’re now in Pasadena for a little Thanksgiving rest and relaxation :)
Below you'll find Ken's latest messages at Antioch Church in Bend, OR. Searching for a specific video? Visit Antioch's Vimeo page to find more of Ken's messages and other videos from Antioch.
Below you'll find Ken's most watched videos from Redux. Searching for a specific video? Visit Askquestions.tv to find more answers from Ken and many other Christian leaders and thinkers from around the world.