Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Advent... Close

And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; and we [actually] saw His glory (His honor, His majesty), such glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth. – John 1:14 (Amplified Bible)

I mentioned before that I don’t see Jesus “popping in” on our world. Jesus arrives, and he arrives in the context of hope and fear and joy and pain. Generally speaking, I can accept this. But I wonder if this concept gets more difficult to embrace when I recognize that Jesus’ coming is more than to a generic context… but to a very specific world- yours and mine.

Jesus comes close.
Jesus tabernacles among us.
Jesus moves into the neighborhood.
Jesus enters my personal space…

…And I wonder I can bear it.

It's easy for me to keep God at a distance. I pretend to be comfortably close by critiquing God’s plan, questioning God’s motives, or protesting God’s fairness. I fear closeness through my preference to activity over stillness and my addiction to noise over silence.

God is near. I wonder if I can bear it.

Spirit, come near. Gently enter my personal space.
Reveal your presence and challenge mine.

Help me learn to be present, to be attentive, to be expectant.

Come close.

This is my prayer, my cry, my declaration.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Advent… a journey of anticipation

Today marks the first day of Advent for the Christian Church. Over the past few years, this has become a more significant part of our family’s preparation for Christmas. I think we miss something if so much emphasis is put only on Christmas. Christmas celebrated today feels like Jesus “popping in” on the world and the world is just supposed to “get it.”

I don’t see Jesus “popping in” anywhere.

Jesus comes in context. As we read the Scriptures, we see the unfolding story of God, the pursuit of God toward his creation, and we see the faithful longing for the day that one will come to rescue and heal the world.

The church in the sixth century understood this. As the rhythms of the church calendar were developed and followed throughout the year, attention was given to Advent. Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. It’s readings take us through the story leading up to the Birth of Jesus (with the Church calendar continuing after Christmas- Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Pentecost…).

I think the church calendar is more important than ever. We live in an era where people’s assumptions about the Christian story are limited or non-existent. Even in the church, we tend to focus so much on Christmas eve/day, we miss what leads up to it… an incredible drama of anticipation, fear, misunderstanding, doubt, joy, danger, and hope. It’s a drama, I believe, that we still experience today. Our own lives are filled with hopes and fears and this time of year can be especially filled with joy and pain.

And, in this context:

Jesus has come…

Jesus comes (though God’s Spirit to us daily)…

Jesus is coming (once and for all to make all things right)…

Join me in this journey this year. Celebrate Christmas in context. Allow God to speak through his word and lead through the journey of Advent. See this link for Daily Advent Readings to guide you on this journey. Maybe you’ll want to ask someone to join you on this journey.

Advent is a journey of anticipation…

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

Sometimes I get so caught up in all I’m to be thankful for… that I don’t slow down long enough to merely live in thankfulness and contentment.

I look forward to embracing this day… finding beauty in the little things, experiencing joy in the people I love, having hope in God’s care, and feeling peace through simply being present with others.

Peace to you this day, friends…

Monday, November 21, 2005

YS Convention: snapshots and promises update...

So... the great part about posting my promises! was that it helped me think about what I was doing for the YS weekend. I actually had people asking me about them at the convention... whew, the pressure!

Without boring you by going through my list again, I'll just mention that I desperately needed the centering in the prayer room as was grateful for it (thanks YS team for carving out that physical space), my running was on target though I ran on the treadmill because I was up early and did more interval training. I still have my backpack to give away, and I didn't get to any completely different seminars like I did in Pittsburgh due to the time crunch. I heard some amazing stories from people. I just think we all need to hear more kingdom stories that inspire us. I didn't get to grab a beer with Marko or Tic (they were a bit busy!), but I did get a great big hug from Marko in the elevator... which may have had the same effect as a beer for me!

Below are a few pics I took. Hopefully, they'll bring back some good memories for some of you fellow attendees (for some reason, this post looks better in explorer than safari. I can't figure out why, so my apologies if this looks confusing!)...

Van Halen has been stuck in my head since last weekend...

youthworker necessities…



elvis lives (my impression with rock star youth pastor, Don Helton, from Indiana)

ron wondergem- Grand Rapids, MI church planter (Lighthouse Village) and Reformed Bible College prof, steve, mark riddle- The Riddle Group founder , dave Livermore- Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, Intersect, awesome friend

our Saturday seminar, intersecting theology and youth ministry

free stuff! Thank you sponsors!

proof that I'm just taking ONE freebee

One life. thank you to all who worked on the AIDS exhibit. This is more than a cause...… it's an emergency.

Thank you YS team! You make us feel...… amazing.

It's been a great season. I look foward to the ripple effect from these gatherings.

Peace, friends!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

An open letter to YS Exhibitors…

Dear YS exhibitors, I’ve just finished walking through the exhibit hall at the YS National Youth Workers Convention… and I’m feeling a bit angst-ridden…

Let me start by saying that I am overwhelmed with the passion and zeal I see through the plethora of ministries represented, and the enthusiasm of those at the booths who want to serve youth ministry leaders. I do not question your heart, nor your spirituality and I am convinced I have much to learn from each of you.

However, I need to let you know that I walked away from the exhibit hall dizzy from the experience and wondering what kind of message you believe you are sending. I think I can safely assume that we all agree with the adage that, “the medium is the message.” I believe that’s why your ministry exists… to help youth leaders better communicate Jesus’ message. If that’s the case, I’m wondering if I might ask you a few questions…

• What do giving away iPods, computers, programs, videos, etc, etc. through raffles and contests have to do with your ministry?
• In your booths, how much is gimmick and how much is substance?
• Is it possible to take things too far… like when I’m asked to take a shot at a picture portraying an ‘annoying middle schooler,” and “elder” or a “Sr. Pastor?” (yes… with a real BB gun).
• Is there ever a case where maybe one might overstate their purpose, their claims, or what their ministry can really do?
• Is there a reason why we might want to sell t-shirts that encourage people to say that, “Satan is a Nerd?”
• How much candy do we need?
• How much media is necessary?
• How loud does the music have to be?
• How many pens do I have to take (and why are you offended when I kindly respond “no thank you”)?
• How many rubber bracelets can one wear (no matter how catchy the acronym is)?

Do you ever feel that maybe this all is getting out of hand?
Do you ever feel like exhibiting has escalated to where, each year, one has to have a bigger, sexier booth just to get noticed?
Do you honestly think this is worth your valuable time just to get my 30-second attention?
Did you know that youth ministry professors send their students through the exhibit hall because they are using you as case studies?

If you haven’t left my post yet, thank for sticking with me this far.

I don’t want to be a blamer or a complainer. I’m not anti-exhibit hall, and honestly, I believe that in the end, content not commercials win the day. I just wish there might be a solution to something that, to me, seems to have gone wild.

I suppose I could write Marko an email and tell him to “do something.” But that feels like someone calling the youth pastor demanding her/him to monitor the dress code for a youth group of thousands. I don’t think that’s Marko’s job.

It seems to me that you ministry exhibitors are more than capable to monitor yourselves. But, someone has to make the move to back down and refuse to let this continue to escalate. Someone has to be the first to think of creative ways to communicate their message that gets beyond a gimmick-ridden approach. And the toughest part will be that somebody has to go first. Whoever has the balls to do that will have my greatest admiration.

One trick of a preacher, when s/he doesn’t have much to say, is to be louder and funnier. I hope this isn’t what you are doing. I want to believe that you have something to say… and I want to hear it.

In your attempt to help clarify the church’s message… don’t lose yours.

Thanks for hearing me out.

Peace to you-

ETREK: Re-Imagining Youth Ministry

Got a chance to connect with my good friend and youth ministry guru, Mark Riddle at YS Nashville yesterday.

If you’re looking for a great way to interact with other youth leaders who seek to critically discuss youth ministry, check out what Mark is facilitating through Biblical Theological Seminary. Riddle has invited Kenda Dean, Ginny Olsen, Tony Jones, Dan Kimball, Mike King, and me to be guest faculty for the course.

I think this will be a great resource for potentially amazing dialogue on youth ministry issues and well be worth your investment. If you're interested in graduate level dialogue, check this out.

Registration is available now.
Gatherings are Feb. 9-10, & April 20-21, 2006

Check out the link for more information.

Personally, I’m very, very excited that Biblical is hosting this course and that Riddle is facilitating the gig.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

that’s what we do…

Often, I don’t like the word “ministry.” It has too much baggage associated with it. “Ministry” feels too much like a job (“I’m a minister"), too professional sounding (“ministry” over and above “volunteering”… another word I don’t like), or too patronizing (I’m going to “do ministry” to you… gee thanks). But since I’m at the National Youth Workers Convention in Nashville, and we are dealing with “youth ministry,” I’ll use the term as shorthand for what I think people really mean.

Quick story...

I was working out this morning (fulfilling one of my promises!) when I ran into April from the Salvation Army. She shared with me her experience of serving people at the Houston Astrodome after the hurricane. A truly heroic effort. I told her, “Thank you” and to tell her team “thank you” for all that they have done. She replied, “That’s what we do.” Can I get an amen/right on for that?

I think ministry is really about people expressing… “that’s what we do.”

I was thinking about this as I heard David Crowder tonight (those of you holding me accountable to my promises, I’m not worshipping David Crowder, honest). What moved me to night was Crowder’s lyrics. I think they are brilliant. The words capture the feelings of heart, of worship, of expression that seems to resonate with me and others. I think David would say, “that’s what we do.”

What if ministry was done out of true expression instead of other things?
What are the “other things?”

You can probably fill in the blanks just as well as me…
- guilt
- fear
- significance
- competition
- anger
- grandstanding
- fame
… yuck… I’m feeling sick that I can rattle these off so fast. Maybe this is a form of confession.

If ministry is really out of true expression, however… then we live with the attitude of “that’s what we do,” “that’s what we’re called to do,” “that’s my place in the grand symphony of love that God plays for the world of which I’m (by the grace of God) a part.”

It’s at this point, that David Crowder isn’t the only one who gets people to sing along (“you’re not alone, so sing along…”). Each of our expressions, if done purely, can inspire others to live and love with an renewed sense of calling, passion, and love.

Ministry is just short hand for “that’s what we do.”

Friday, November 18, 2005

I’m Headed to YS in Nashville today… and I Wonder Why I’m so Excited…

Maybe it’s because of the spectacle of the event… even more… because it’s something I believe in…

Because of the Triune nature of God… I believe in the value of the gathered community.

Because of the Sovereignty of God… I believe that each of us is gathered for a reason.

Because of the Love God… I believe that we offered the opportunity to love God back and love others.

Because of the Missio dei… I believe that each of us is called to a purpose.

Because of the Story of God… I believe we know where and to whom we belong.

Because of the Mystery of God… I believe we are called to faith.

Because of the Word of God… I believe God speaks by his Spirit, through the Scriptures, in community.

Because of the Glory of God… I believe we are called together to worship (and this goes beyond singing).

Because of the Imago dei… I believe we are the actual, physical, tangible presence of Jesus (“You are the body of Christ…”).

Because of the Holiness of God… I believe we are called to examine ourselves and weep over personal and corporate sin.

Because of the Compassion of God… I believe we are called to serve the least of these.

Because of the Cross of God… I believe we are called to sacrificial living.

Because of the Grace of God… I believe we are called to bless and serve others as co-redeemers with God.

Because of the Will of God… I believe each of us is called to a journey.

Ever-present God, I pray I will listen with my ears and see with my eyes and feel with my heart, and be filled with anticipation because of who you are and who you call us (me) to be. May this excite me more than anything else.

Monday, November 14, 2005

My YS- Nashville Promise

While at YS, I promise…

To be still for at least one hour in the prayer room.

To spend more time processing ideas in seminars than looking for free stuff in the exhibition hall.

To not pretend to ask people questions that only set me up to talk about my own ministry.

To refuse bringing up numbers, percentages, or projections about how huge my ministry is or is going to be.

To run at least 10k in the streets of Nashville.

To admit that every person attending YS is probably smarter, nicer, more godly and more faithful than me.

To hug any protestor I see standing outside the convention center.

To go to a seminar that has a topic I know nothing about (thus admitting that I am narrow-minded and have much to learn yet).

To give away my cool YS backpack to a teenager.

To thoughtfully fill out a seminar evaluation form.

To not take more than my allotted “one freebee” at each plenary session.

To worship God… not David Crowder (my own temptation).

To sit in the front row of the seminar I attend. Not the back.

To not complain about my pastor, my leaders, or my students.

To be real with at least one person about how my life is really going.

To reflect on changing one thing on my “inside” before I make one more change to my ministry “outside.”

To buy books only if I read them in the next three months.

To take Marko and Tic out for a beer if they accept my invitation.

…To see, in every youth worker, 10 students they love, and recognize that this convention isn’t about 7000, but 70,000… and then I will pray, weep, and say “thank you” to God who lets us love “the least of these”… teenagers.

See you there, gang…

Friday, November 11, 2005

YS Nashville- National Youth Workers Convention Seminars: My Picks…

With 80+ seminars to choose from at the YS NYWC… how does one choose? All deserve a look and the great thing is that there are a plethora of options for all kinds of youth leaders.

If I had to narrow down my picks, here’s some that I would consider…

Doug Fields (Thursday, 11/17-18 Critical Concerns Course)
Starting Right: Your First Two Years in Ministry If you’re new to youth ministry. Invest your time with Doug.

Dan Kimball (Friday, 11/18, Seminar 1)
New Generations, New Questions: Issues We Need to Address that Our Emerging Culture is Asking I think Dan does a good job of thinking through the issues of our emerging culture in the context of the existing church. If you’re a youth pastor in an established church, I’d go to this.

David Brown (Friday Night, 11/18, 10PM)
Forum on Reconciliation. The more I talk with my pastor friends and thinkers, the more I’m realizing that reconciliation can no longer be a side issue when it comes to ministry and expressing the gospel.

Tony Jones, Duffy Robbins, Dan Kimball (Saturday, 11/19, Seminar 2)
See my reflections on this conversation from the Sacramento seminar.
Postmodernism: Good and/or Bad? A Brotherly Conversation A huge topic that everyone needs to have a conversation about.

Walt Mueller (Saturday, 11/19, Seminar 3)
Mars Hill Ministry: Reaching Students Through Pop Culture I’ve heard really good things about Walt’s seminar. He’s a great resource for helping our parents of teenagers.

Katie Miller (Saturday, 11/19, Seminar 4)
Ministering to Middle School Girls Guy youth leaders, we need to be sensitive to the needs of the girls in our youth groups supportive of our female youth leaders. Make sure you take in one seminar that addresses the needs of females. Also, see my post from Pittsburgh regarding Kara Powell’s seminar Finding Balance as a Women in Youth Ministry

Tiger McLuen (Sunday, 11/20, Seminar 5)
The Temptations of Leadership Tiger (such a cool name!) is a youth ministry vet. He’s got a lot of experience and worth listening to.

Will Penner (Sunday, 11/21, Seminar 6)
Sacred Journeys: Recapturing the Value of Pilgrimage Great guy. Awesome topic. Walk away from room full of ministry displays… and center.

Ah… so many great seminars… so little time! Rock on, friends.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Youth Specialties National Youth Workers Convention- Nashville – November 17-21, 2005

We’ll be presenting at our third NYWC in Nashville, next weekend. It’s been great to be with so many youth workers at each of the conventions this fall. Nashville (or Nashvegas as many of my friends are calling it) will be the biggest NYWC of the three. Over 7000 are expected to attend. Crazy.

Dave and I will be presenting two seminars here. Here are the descriptions and our scheduled times. Also, let me know if you’ll be at the convention. I’m always available for a good conversation over your beverage of choice.

Nov 19 (Sat) 2.00-4.30 PM (Super Seminar)
  • “Pursuing a Theological Matrix for Youth Ministry: Intersecting Theology with Real-Life Youth Ministry”

  • Our approach to shepherding has been to recognize that there are many lenses that create our own matrix of understanding and interpretation that quickly spill over into our leadership, shepherding, and following of Jesus. We’ll share what we’re discovering and move it very quickly toward case studies and group dialogue.

    Nov 20 (Sun) 8.00-9.30 AM (Seminar 4)
  • “What is the Gospel?: Helping Students Articulate their Faith”

  • This has less to do with “evangelism” and much more to do with how we frame the story of God and help students embrace what they (and we) are actually a part of.

    Hope you can make it. We're pretty passionate about fusing youth ministry and theology.

    loving and seeing...

    We had the privilege of hosting Stuart Briscoe at GRTS yesterday. He spoke in chapel, met with some of our Residency Mentors, and taught the homiletics class. The students loved him.

    Stuart is an important person in my life as I grew up at Elmbrook Church, under his teaching, and had the privilege of leading the high school ministry there. Stuart used to tell us, “Don’t’ take yourself too seriously, but take your ministry very seriously.” That’s been good advice for me (as I probably take myself too seriously), and I’ve seen Stuart live this out as he passionately and joyfully serves all over the world.

    Yesterday, in GRTS's Chapel, Stuart spoke from Ephesians 1. Verses 15ff say that the Ephesian believers were a community that had faith in Christ and love for the saints. It got me thinking that it's common, these days, to hear about the “love” part, but I wonder if we miss the “faith” part.

    Love is possible because God has made it possible. Love is accessible because God is present. Love is ultimately expressed when we take risks in relationships… and step into the realm of faith with each other.

    We have faith that…
    God is making things new.
    God is changing me.
    God is changing you.

    I wonder what would happen if we looked at people and our world more in light of how God intends people and things to be rather than judge them in their current state? Is this not a more accurate perspective? I think this needs to be the ethos of the gathered, Christian community.

    I think our own picture of Jesus will be most evident by the way we love each other AND hope for each other (faith). Therefore, Jesus’ body (his tangible expression, the church) must pursue and express, “I love you no matter what,” AND ALSO “I see you for who you are created to be.”

    This is loving and seeing.
    This is the church.
    This is the message that I think many in our communities need to hear.

    And, honestly, it’s one I need to hear.

    Sunday, November 06, 2005


    I had to do it.

    Florida in November, for a Michigander, means you must go to the beach. Despite the fact that I’m directionally challenged, I managed to find the beach and catch the tail end of a Gulf sunset.

    I made it, barely. But in enough time to role my cords up and walk in the water. It felt great and I called Jen so we could share the sunset together. I took these shots and then tried to enhance them. I have no clue what I did, but I thought they looked cool.

    So what’s so great about sunsets? How come we never tire of them? Maybe sunsets mark the end of a day and our hope for the next. They go out with glory and something inside us hopes for the next one. It’s as if internally, we’re saying, “Do it again!” Note to self: “Spend more time marveling sunsets. Seek them out.”

    When I wasn’t training, I had some extra time on so I went to Barnes and Noble’s. There’s nothing like picking up a random book and starting to read it. I stumbled upon one by TS Eliot. I learned that, upon his death, a commemorative plaque was placed on a church wall bearing his chosen epitaph (his ashes were sprinkled somewhere else). --lines from Four Quartets:

    "In my beginning is my end. In my end is my beginning."

    Sunsets and TS Eliot brought to life an observation I made at the church I was at this weekend. The majority of volunteers serving this youth ministry were over 65 years old. Someone might say, “That’s nice, gives them something to do. etc. etc..” But that’s hardly the point… not even close. This older generation was serving a younger generation… with joy, with pride, with hope.

    It was a beautiful but sadly, a rare picture for me.

    In a sub-culture called the church, I find that much of the environment focuses on turf wars over power, preference, and one’s own fulfillment. I suppose we can point fingers somewhere, but I fear that the fingers point back to our own self-perpetuating dysfunction in the church. It seems we have communicated (in word and action) a message at says that people can outsource their spiritual needs to the local church and the institutional, American church has been willing to be a one-stop hub, inviting people to get what they need, when they need it.

    It’s not surprising, that when a local church community changes, many in that community feel that it “isn’t their church anymore.” The problem with this thinking is that it was never “their church” to start with. The church exists ultimately for others, not ourselves. She exists to serve the world through humility and love. And she is fueled by the hope God gives that, by God’s Spirit, we might participate in the healing and restoring of our broken and hurting world.

    But generational trenches are dug deep. Some stake their claim in a church and fight to keep things the “right” way. They use theological arguments to promote what seem more like personal preferences and so, in the end, we end up having a church hosting a “community” of strangers that looks more like a mini-mall filled with specialty shops. The faithful are “under the same roof,” but nobody enters anyone else’s space.

    And then I see these seniors serving the youth group with great gusto. I really believed that they thought it was THIER youth group. Imagine that.

    And I thought of sunsets.

    I thought of how each of us will spend the sunsets of our lives… either doing everything we can to prolong our view of how things “ought to be” or to go out in glory cheering on others, excited for the next day and the next generation.

    The American church’s dysfunctional cycle will only be broken when an older generation serves the younger and a new, healthy rhythm begins.

    I realized that I saw many, many “sunsets” this weekend. And they were beautiful…

    Thursday, November 03, 2005

    Florida Bound This Weekend…

    I’m headed to Fort Myers, FL this weekend.

    I’m presenting for Group Publishing’s Group Magazine Live and I’ll be at Crossroads Baptist Church. If you read this and you happen to be in Fort Myers, give me a shout. It’s going to be 80+ degrees there and I wonder how my November, Michigan-acclimated body will adjust to the climate change… I think I’ll be just fine. I’m definitely packing the running shoes.

    What I’ve always appreciated about Group is their ability to give very practical, hands-on material to youth workers. The seminar that we’ve worked on with Group has sprung from the findings of Christian Smith’s excellent book, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. Anyone who’s in youth ministry or works with teenagers needs to put this book on their “must read” list. Smith’s research, assessment, and questions are crucial for us to consider as we think about life and faith for adolescents.

    And while Smith’s focus is on teenagers, one of his observations is that the picture painted of teenagers’ spiritual lives is not just about teenagers, but is a reflection of culture that points to the current state of most adults. I love it. So when adults who are enamored with their own perfection ask, “What’s wrong with those %$@@**!! teenagers today?” I’m going to answer… “Maybe it’s %$@@**!! You!”

    A more positive response is being expressed through a project that I’ve had the opportunity to work on with Rick Lawrence from Group, and a few other veteran youth pastors. Rick took seriously the critique’s of Smith’s study and has tried to address the critical points Smith makes. Rick seeks to find ways to offer positive and practical ways to shore up areas in youth ministries that Soul Searching describes as potentially problematic. The topics include:

    • One’s View of God (vs. Moralistic Therapeutic Deism)
    • Everyday faith living
    • Articulating what one believes
    • Spiritual formation
    • Creating true community
    • Partnering with parents
    • Missional living
    • Navigating through a post-modern climate

    My contribution to the book was to provide theologically, creative approaches/ideas that might help youth leaders shepherd their youth groups (students, parents, leaders). I hope people will find this a helpful resource.

    What I love most about these seminars I train, is rubbing shoulders with some amazing people who love teenagers.

    Youth workers are truly a holy tribe…

    Tuesday, November 01, 2005

    runners have a better eschatology than most churchgoers…

    So, picking up from my last post, I’d like to reflect on one aspect of my marathon that I found stunning. Call this the fruit of 3 plus hours of running and thinking, or the late stages of delirium, but I couldn’t help but conclude that runners have a better eschatology than most churchgoers.

    Here’s the scenario: I’m running with the 3.15 pacer and a group of runners who want to make a 3.15 marathon. Why 3.15? For most of them, it’s the time that one needs to qualify for Boston (you need to qualify for Boston, you can’t just run it, which makes this April marathon so prestigious). After a number of miles, one of the runners asks the pacer, “Will you tell us about Boston?” And then the poetry begins. The pacer tells of the fans, the scenery, the rush, the landmarks, the spectacle of it all. He paints a beautiful picture. I’ve run Boston once and his description brought back wonderful memories.

    Three quarters into the race, we have a different pacer and again, someone says, “Tell us about Boston.” Another story, more word pictures, poetry… poetry in motion.

    There is no doubt that this conversation is motivating us. It’s pointing to us a goal, a dream, and something that many long to be a part of. What amazes me is that we’re pounding out the miles and starting to feel the burn and breakdown of our legs and minds, and we talk about Boston. What will we do there?

    … we will run.

    Who, after running 20 plus miles, dreams of running 26 more miles?

    Runners do.

    And that’s why I think they have a better eschatology… a better view of what is to come.

    What if runners who qualified for Boston, went to Boston to sit, and relax, and eat junk food? It would seem odd wouldn’t it? I sometimes hear Christians talk about heaven this way. Some day we “leave it all behind” and go to be in heaven and do what we want, how we want it, relax, enjoy “eternity,” “salvation,” “streets of gold… and coffee shops too.” Sounds cute. Even good for a vacation. But for forever? That sounds boring and it’s no wonder to me that promises of “heaven” don’t thrill many (Which is why many Christians threaten people who think heaven is boring… with hell... another thought I’ll post on, in the future).

    What if eternity is like the way runners think of Boston? Runners… run. They continue to work and strive and sweat and pursue. They have goals, they have each other, and they have joy… and they share together an amazing experience that brings tears to their eyes. Is this so far fetched? Is not creation and the first garden filled with work and purpose and togetherness and goals and joy? Is not redemption about a recapturing of all God intended in the first place?

    I think so.

    Eternity must be for active participants, not for onlookers and bystanders.

    Active participants are active today because they realize that eternity isn’t somewhere in the future… eternity starts today…

    ...and I think this is a great eschatology.