sorry for all the kafluffle…but after about a month with wordpress i realize i just don’t like it.
so…i’m changing (for the last time) my blog to http://www.shadowinggod.com
simple.easy to find.
again – thanks for your patience
finished part one of “shadowing god” around 2am this morning.
feels good…glad i ditched “jerm” in favor of the new title…feels less forced, more like me, more true to my concerns and perspective
it is seriously cold in my office…have a blanket wrapped around my shoulders and a space heater shooting up my pants legs (not a metpahor)…hoping that the ‘fires of my imagination’ count for something more than warm thoughts
anyway…just an update
thanks for your prayers.
during the course of this week and all that has accompanied the death of randy, i’ve been amazed at how good sadness can be.
i mean, we’re all very sad. we loved randy and miss him very much.
but christ has offered us a completely different brand of sad – the good sad.
the good sad has few regrets, for randy has left us well and we honor him in our hearts
the good sad has very little bitterness, for we know that randy is far happier and more contented now than when he was here (even before he began suffering with his cancer)
the good sad asks questions but they are not furious, because we understand (in some measure) that god has not wasted randy’s life…nor has he thrown it away…nor is so riduculously over-simplified answer been offered to us through scripture as to why randy left us now…we wrestle with our questions, but take comfort in the grandeur of a god who invites us to do so.
perhaps more than anything else during this time, i’ve been struck by how true and real christianity is.
looking at beth and seeing her courage and her faith…well, it’s supernatural. she’s not pretending to be joyful – she’s actually filled with the light of christ as she rejoices in her dearly departed husband.
walking through westwinds i’m struck with the genuine love and enthusiasm to remember randy and wish him bon voyage. there is no falsehood in this…just jesus.
and it’s very cool.
we have something peculiar in christ – the good sad
and i’m wonderfully thankful for it.
Blessed are those who die in the Lord;
They may rest from their labor
For their deeds follow them.
I hate sermons at funerals; yet I find myself in the ironic position of having to deliver one.
With whatever strength was left to him at the end, Randy asked me to tell you about Jesus. He had Faith like a Vice, and he believed that the God who ennobled him to face death, fight cancer, and love until he expired was present and active in this world.
And that God loved you.
But Love is a concept too frequently removed from our lives…because there is so much heartache in this world, so much sorrow.
Much of this heartache revolves around the fact that we don’t know who we are. We don’t know where we come from. We have lost ourselves.
But I know you are. I know what you are. And Randy has asked me to remind you that we are all fundamentally spiritual people.
We are spiritual – whether or not we want to be, or choose to be, or pretend not to be.
We are made in the image of God. The Hebrew word here means “shadow.”
We are God’s shadows.
We are not made to keep rules and make rules. We are not made to judge. We are made to love.
We were made to be whole – but we have broken ourselves and scattered ourselves and become a hateful, proud and religious people.
And so we live and move and find ourselves cut adrift from our worth in this world. We are often lost and confused, hurting broken and sad.
And so, as a partial remedy, I’d like to tell you a story – the story of God and this world.
It begins with God, who is three in one. It begins with oneness and this one god creates our world and puts us in it in His image, puts us in it whole.
Just like He is one, we are made whole; we are made one.
Yet through our selfishness, our pride, our preference for pleasure placed over our desire for Love, we destroy that oneness. We tarnish the image of God. We diminish it and oneness is compromised.
The whole story of the First Testament is of the people of God coming to terms with their brokenness and isolation. They are ashamed and shattered and they have no sense of who they are. When they recapture that sense, they lose it again quickly.
The story of Jesus Christ, the true story of the one god coming into the one world, is a story inviting us back into our true selves – our whole selves, ourselves as shadows of God. Jesus prayed, “Just as I and the Father are one, I pray that you would be one in me as I am in Him.”
We are in the middle of the story and we find ourselves now in the tension of knowing we were made whole but are not now One.
So what is the problem? What is the source of our brokenness? Of our lack of identity?
And what is sin?
Sin is distortion in any direction – God, self, others, world.
Sin is the breaking of relationship.
How do we get rid of sin? How do we make things right? How do we become whole?
For starters, the ultimate healing for sin is found in the ultimate relationship – a relationship with the God of the Universe. Sin is so powerful, it requires a greater might to exhaust it.
So we go right to the top.
God – the being above whom there is none other – has power to defeat sin. You need that power. You need God. God is only met through Jesus Christ, His Son. There may, it has been said, be many paths to Jesus Christ…but Jesus is the only true pathway to God.
Get God. Get Jesus. Get rid of sin.
And then what? Once I’ve stapled myself to God…is sin taken care of? Will there be no further distortion? No more pain?
There will be more pain. Sin persists.
In order to live well, to live as your true self – shadowing God – you’ve got to start paying attention.
Randy was adamant that God was speaking to each of us in every moment…and he was right. God is speaking to you directly…but you must quiet yourself in order to hear him. You must lower the ambient noise level of your life and open yourself to His Spirit.
You need to pay attention.
Our spiritual life is comprised of attentiveness. You may be religious because of what you know, but you are only Spiritual because of who you listen to.
We are what we do with our attention.
And – in this world of remarkable information and media – it can be so hard to pay attention to anything.
Which is why we pray. Prayer is paying attention.
Prayer is simple, easy, and sometimes even silly. It is conversation with God. But that conversation changes us. It transforms us. It reminds us that we are spiritual people, that we are designed to shadow God in this world, and that our true identity is not found in numbers and achievements, but in relationship – with God, self, others, and the world.
Pay attention to God, who is calling you to live differently than you are now.
Pay attention to the nudges and nuances, the shifts and shades of His Spirit as He leads you into a better life – a more adventurous, fuller, richer existence.
And if you don’t always understand what you’re seeing or hearing or thinking…then read the Bible – it is the decoder ring for spirituality; or speak with others – in spiritual conversation and friendship, together uncovering the magic of who God is calling you to be.
Because if you want to have meaning in this life, you’ve got to discover who you really are. You have to recover your true self – as a shadow of God, designed to go where he goes and move when he moves.
And the only way to do that is to listen, to pay attention, to devote yourself to the hospitality of the Spirit.
To help people in this regard, Randy (while he was on staff at the Winds) spend some time crafting a creed for our people, and for those in Jackson who would endeavor to follow Christ. At the time, we had taken it as our missional emphasis to focus on community – turning our “I’s” into “WE’s” so to speak. So this is the WE Creed.
As an act of unity and a declaration of our intention to follow Jesus, I’d like us to recite the WE Creed together today.
I give myself to the JOURNEY of knowing and FOLLOWING Jesus and his way
to seeking the truth of the scriptures
to locking arms with the PEOPLE of Westwinds
to responding to the movement of GOD in and around me
to loving and sacrificing for others
that all may experience the full life
God DESIRES for his creation.
You were born in a time like ours
In a place like ours
To people like us.
There was nothing extraordinary about our lives
Until you were brought into them
Nothing to remark upon
Until you interrupted our sadness,
And our isolation
And with those riches that endure.
You came and waited for us to wake up
From the dream of our selfishness
Into the Christmas morning of your mission.
Help us to forget our religious nonsense
And to leave behind our silly ideas
Help us – instead – to heal the world
By being healed, ourselves, through you.
We offer you our hearts
As hosts and homes
Live in us, be born in us, forever.
Our dear sweet Randy passed away quietly last evening at 7:15 p.m. We know that he is with the Lord and at peace….no more struggle.
He loved each of you in a special way and we are so grateful for your love and prayers for us throughout this difficult journey. It has had a strange beauty as well and we are in awe of what God can do.
Friends and family have been gathering here to love on each of us. The kids and I feel so peaceful…and it all is a bit surreal as well. We look forward to the celebration of Randy’s life planned for Saturday, December 27th @ 3 p.m. at Westwinds Community Church. There will be visitation on Friday, December 26th in the evening also @ Westwinds. Due to the holidays, weather, etc, the service will also be livestreamed on the web @ 3 p.m. on the 27th http://www.westwinds.org
Love you all…..Beth, Jenn, Ian & Emma
my good friend randy passed away last night after a brave two -year battle with cancer.
i loved him very much.
there was not another father who loved his children more,
nor a pastor who carried the burdens of his people more faithfully,
nor a friend who more genuinely sought god’s advice for how best to serve each of us.
randy was singular in his ability to love.
he is now, thankfully and well-deservedly, caught up in the laughter of christ. he has been baptized into this new life by our tears, and we wish him extra grace for his new adventure.
Christians live in their own countries, but only as aliens.
They have a share in everything as citizens, and endure everything as foreigners. Every foreign land is their fatherland, and yet for them every fatherland is a foreign land.
They marry, like everyone else, and they beget children, but they do not cast out their offspring. They share their board with each other, but not their marriage bed. It is true that they are “in the flesh,” but they do not live “according to the flesh.”
They busy themselves on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They obey the established laws, but in their own lives they go far beyond what the laws require.
They love all men, and by all men are persecuted.
They are unknown, and still they are condemned; they are put to death, and yet they are brought to life.
They are poor, and yet they make many rich; they are completely destitute, and yet they enjoy complete abundance.
They are dishonored, and in their very dishonor are glorified; they are defamed, and are vindicated.
They are reviled, and yet they bless; and when they are affronted, they still pay due respect.
When they do good, they are punished as evildoers; undergoing punishment, they rejoice because they are brought to life.
They are treated by the Jews as foreigners and enemies, and are hunted down by the Greeks; and all the time those who hate them find it impossible to justify their enmity.
To put it simple: What the soul is in the body, that Christians are in the world.
The soul is dispersed through all the members of the body, and Christians are scattered through all the cities of the world.
The soul dwells in the body, but does not belong to the body, and the Christians dwell in the world, but do not belong to the world.
The soul, which is invisible, is kept under guard in the visible body; in the same way, Christians are recognized when they are in the world, but their religion remains unseen.
The flesh hates the soul and treats it as an enemy, even though it suffers no wrong at their hands, because they rage themselves against its pleasures.
The soul loves the flesh that hates it, and its members; in the same way, Christians love those who hate them.
The soul is shut up in the body, and yet itself holds the body together.
The soul, which is immortal, is housed in a mortal dwelling; while Christians are settled among corruptible things, to wait for the incorruptibility that will be theirs in heaven.
The soul, when faring badly as to food and drink, grows better; so too Christians, when punished day by day, increase more and more.
It is no less a post than this that God has ordered them, and they must not try to evade it.
Some modern abandoned cities are actually parts of functioning cities. Perhaps the best example of an abandoned district is found within Detroit. The Motor City gets its name from its former role as the world’s seat of the automotive industry. Henry Ford’s refinement of the assembly line led to cheaper, mass-produced cars and trucks in the 1920s, and the city expanded quickly. By the 1950s, Detroit, with its two million residents, was America’s third-largest city [source: University of Michigan].
With employment rates and income high in the area, opulent buildings began to dot downtown Detroit’s skyline. Ornately detailed architecture adorned the city’s theaters and office buildings. It was a bustling city, and its buildings reflected the power and the wealth the automobile industry accumulated.
By the 1970s and ’80s, however, the American auto industry entered a decline. Detroit, inextricably attached to car manufacturing, reflected this downturn. In 1979, Detroit’s Big Three carmakers (Chevrolet, Ford and General Motors) produced 90 percent of all of the vehicles sold in the U.S.; by 2005, that figure was down to 40 percent [source: The Guardian]. Since Detroit was something of a boomtown — based on cars, not gold — it couldn’t help but suffer when car manufacturers faced competition from overseas automakers.
But it wasn’t only competition from foreign car manufacturers that led to the demise of downtown Detroit. Suburbanization played a role as well; as people began moving out of the city, their money went with them. The same holds true for the carmakers. Automotive factories became bigger as the car boom went on. With land in the city at a premium, car companies built newer, bigger facilities in the suburbs. Whole sections of Detroit were left abandoned, while in other cases, slumping buildings sat empty alongside struggling buildings that remained open.
Detroit began to crumble. Building owners simply left their investments to decay once they found they couldn’t lease or sell them. Others tried to revitalize or redevelop buildings into new businesses; for example, some stage theaters found new lives as movie theaters. Ultimately, a lack of customers caused many buildings to simply be abandoned. For years, office buildings, hotels, churches, theaters, homes, factories and stores were boarded up and left to rot. Vandals broke windows, spray painted messages and picked mementos from the architecture. Within these buildings, sunlight streams through cracks. Old furniture is overturned in unused hotel rooms. Desks still stand in empty offices. Even the city’s old train depot — a massive, 18-story transportation hub — has been abandoned, its intricate shell a reminder of its past importance.
Revitalization efforts are reforming these districts of Detroit. Many of the abandoned areas are being leveled, with new buildings or parking lots built over their former foundations. And an unusual tradition has had an effect on the urban blight. In the 1970s, vandals adopted the custom of burning empty (and sometimes occupied) buildings downtown on Halloween Eve, a custom that came to be known as Devil’s Night. The ritual continued into the 1990s, but peaked in 1984, when more than 800 fires were set from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1