Wednesday, December 23, 2009

JUST SAY YES - The 80/20 Principle

The Top 10 Highest-Value Use of Time - from The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch

1. Things that advance your overall purpose in life, individually, family, community, organization
2. Things you have always wanted to do.
3. Things already in the 80/20 relationship of time to results.
4. Innovative ways of doing things that promise to slash the time required and encourage positive results.
5. Things other people tell you can't be done.
6. Things other people have done successfully in a different arena.
7. Things that utilize your own creativity and tap into your imagination.
8. Things that you can get other people to do for you with relatively little effort on their part.
9. Anything with high-quality collaborators who have already transcended the 80/20 rule of time, who use time eccentrically, effectively and creatively.
10. Things for which it is now or never.

The 80/20 Principle is a principle of life, not of business. It originated in academic economics and it works in business because it reflects the way the world works not because there is something about business that particularly fits the 80/20 Principle.

Business and free-market systems are basically procedures and processes, the envelop of life and activity, but not the contents. The most precious part of life lies in the inner and outer lives of individuals, in personal relationships and in the interactions of these people with the larger society and culture.

JUST SAY NO - The 80/20 Principle

The Top 10 Low-value uses of your time: The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch

1. Things other people want you to do.
2. Things that have always been done this way.
3. Things you're not usually good at doing.
4. Things you don't enjoy doing.
5. Things that are always interrupted.
6. Things few other people are interested in.
7. Things that have already taken twice as long as originally expected.
8. Things where your collaborators are unreliable or low quality.
9. Things that have a predictable cycle.
10. Answering all your e-mail.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Solstice Blessing - Neelah Grace & Carson Robert

Please join our Open Hand community Sunday evening, December 20th at 5:30pm sharp for our annual Solstice Celebration and family dedication for Neelah Grace Biswas and Carson Robert Crane. Light pitch-in dinner immediately following the commissionings.

Monday, December 7, 2009

OPEN HAND "Ubuntu" 1997 - 2010

"Ubuntu is very difficult to render into a Western language. It speaks of the very essence of being human. You share what you have. It is to say, "My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours." We belong in a bundle of life. We say, "A person is a person through other persons." It is not, "I think therefore I am." It says rather...."I AM HUMAN BECAUSE I BELONG." Desmond Tutu

I am often amazed when I reflect on our Open Hand global community and the unique fabric we have woven together over the past twelve years. From the beginning we decided to relocate as intentional neighbors embedded in urban Indianapolis near Tabernacle Presbyterian Church. The prophetic words we received and lived into said that from here the nations would come and bless us and from here we would go to the nations and be a blessing. In creating our organ-ic community we apprenticed ourselves to processing an influence and quality of being together, capable of generating systemic multi-cultural life forces.

With an open source architecture and global mobility designed into our community DNA, we generated over the years a robust network of multi-tasking Kingdom opportunities. These include but are not limited to:

1. Emerging Faith Community / table fellowship - Surrounding all of our activities, is a subtle natural rhythm drawing us together in Christian worship, as we join our Lord in the banquet table feast. Our community is continually refreshed and challenged by the telling and retelling of our Kingdom journey's, creating myths and cultural symbols that help us understand who we are. We celebrate the sacraments of our shared lives together with weddings, baptisms, commissionings and a sprinkling of lively special occasions. Our windows into the Kingdom of God are wide open, encouraging a prophetic imagination and passion for inviting people from all over the world to join us on our journey.

2. Mana Deschisa Romania (Open Hand) - We helped launch Marshall McKenna in 1997 by commissioning, sponsoring, and encouraging his life among the street kids of Bucharest. This connection continues to thrive today with a dynamic relationship of mutuality including the input of countless individuals, churches, and organizations in the USA and Europe. Our expanding global network is creating a labor of love for those homeless and disadvantage young adults of Romania. Over the past several years Open Hand has commissioned and sent out other explorer's to establish and connect missional networks worldwide. (Kenya, Norway, Holland, Australia)

3. Church-State Faith-based Initiatives - In 1998 Open Hand helped establish the first applications of faith-based initiatives in urban Indianapolis, combining the activities of church and state (DCS) in providing Faith-based / Home-based mental health services to juveniles, children in need and families in crisis. Over 500 families have spent between 3-6 months of weekly interaction with our Christian counselors in their homes exploring the dynamics of spirituality and family emotional process.

4. Coaching, Counseling, Consulting - For over ten years our community has provided dynamic faith-based interventions for individuals, couples, families, and organizations in crisis and conflict. With a systemic orientation combining the insights of Christianity with Natural Systems and Marriage & Family Therapy, countless people (including many in positions of leadership) have apprenticed themselves to new ways of conceptualizing their lives and the surrounding relationship systems of extended family, workplace vocation and congregational life. Lives have been powerfully impacted, marriages rejuvenated, leaders empowered and relationships restored in the process or our global coaching, counseling and consulting.

5. Global Learning Community as YWAM Associates - Pioneered by Rod and implemented by our community, thousands of Youth With A Mission students from around the world (Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and North and South America) have tasted freedom as they personally explore vital new understandings of healthy, dynamic faith and empowering relationships. We teach in YWAM classes (University of the Nations) worldwide and will be traveling to Singapore, Hawaii and Brazil in 2010.

6. Arts - All of the arts are celebrated and encouraged in Open Hand and embedded in the culture of our community for the nourishment of our hearts, minds, bodies and souls. The Starkey's have pioneered excursions out west, sharing art and faith with young Native American's in an effective effort to multiply this nourishment. Artists Julie Ball and Derek Powell have sponsored art shows, installations and the annual gatherings of select artists in the Limner Society.

7. Urban Practicum -Internships / Outreach - In connection with our faith-based counseling and YWAM relationship worldwide, our community has been selected by several organizations as a training and equipping site providing practical hands on internships for local and international graduate students completing university work. Many YWAM students from around the world have subsequently lived in our Open Hand community while completing a three month urban practicum with us.

8. Publishing: Teaching / Coaching Materials - From the idea of the open handed metaphor, Rod and others of us are constantly developing life and faith coaching materials and book manuscripts. As a community we apprentice ourselves to a wide variety of biblical, scientific, and scholarly authors in helping shape and inform our understandings of what it means to live and work intentionally in the global community for the Kingdom of God.

9. Hospitality - We continue to create an open space within our community where guests can enter for a short period of a few days, extending to several weeks or months as necessary. They are encouraged to explore their freedom as human beings created in God's image and are in a safe space for processing life - for falling apart if necessary and coming together, for experimenting with new ways of being and being with, one another.

10. Peer-based Networking - As a global learning community, Open Hand values dialogue and diversity in an attempt to explore and process the manifold mysteries of life and faith. A high value is placed on education and sharing the fruits of social networking.

11. Excursion and Resource Teams - Open Hand organizes, sponsors and launches local and international outreach teams to the nations, seeking to lure the larger world into the Kingdom of God. We have had teams recently in Italy and Romania and plan to reach out to Kenya, China and Romania in 2010.

Membership Requirement - a. faith of a mustard seed, b. the ability to say "yes" more than no to life's challenges, c. a valid passport to the global marketplace

OPEN HAND opportunities - 1. participation in our Table Fellowship, 2. utilization of our open source system for the development of new Kingdom opportunities, 3. networking partnerships - creating new Open Hand missional communities worldwide, 4. imaging new adventures and leading outreaches for our community involvement, 5. partnering with us in launching new social businesses to help sustainability while focused on the urban marginalized youth and families

OPEN HAND Worship - Sunday, Dec 13 5:30pm

Please join us for a candle light worship service this Sunday evening December 13th - 5:30pm at 3174 N. Delaware Street. (Baby sitting provided)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Sacrament of Sexual Union

Wendell Berry

Highlights from The Art of the Common Place (from the notes of O'Steven)

The most dangerous and most immediately painful consequence of the disintegration of the household is the isolation of sexuality...the division of sexual energy from the functions of household and community that it ought both to empower and to grace. This is analogous to that other modern division between hunger and the earth.

When sexuality is no longer allied by proximity and analogy to the nurturing disciplines that bound the household to the cycles of fertility and the seasons, life and death, then sexual love loses its symbolic or ritualistic force, its deepest solemnity and its highest joy. Sex loses its sense of consequence and responsibility as it becomes "autonomous" to be valued only for its own sake, therefore frivolous and destructive, even of itself.

Those who speak of sex as "recreation" only acknowledge its displacement from Creation. The isolation of sexuality makes it subject to two influences that dangerously over simply it: the lore of sexual romance (sentimentalization of sexual love) and capitalist economics....and by means of them, young people have been taught a series of extremely dangerous falsehoods.

1. that people in love ought to conform to the fashionable models of physical beauty, and that to be unbeautiful by these standards is to be unlovable

2. that people in love are, or ought to be, young - even though love is said to last "forever"

3. that marriage is a solution - whereas the most misleading thing a love story can do is end "happily" with a marriage, not because there is no such thing as a happy marriage, but because marriage cannot be happy except by being made happy

4. that love, alone, regardless of circumstances, can make harmony and resolve serious differences

5. that "love will find a way" and so finally triumph over any kind of practical difficulty

6. that the "right" partners are "made for each other", or that "marriages are made in heaven"

7. that lovers are "each other's all" or "all the world to each other"

8. that monogamous marriage is therefore logical and natural, and "forsaking all others' involves no difficulty

Believing in these things, a young couple could not be more cruelly exposed to the abrasions of experience - or better prepared to experience marriage as another of those grim and ironic modern competitions in which the victory of one is defeat of both.

The exclusiveness of the sentimental ideal gives way to the possessiveness of sexual capitalism, and failing as they cannot help but fail, to be each others all, the husband and wife become each other's only and the sacrament of sexual union, which in the time of the household was a communion of workmates, and afterwards tried to be a lover's paradise, has now become a kind of marketplace in which the husband and wife represent each other as sexual property.

In the isolation of the resulting sexual "privacy" the disintegration of the community begins. Sexual energy that is the most convivial and unifying loses it communal forms and becomes divisive. The disintegration of marriage which completes the disintegration of community, came about because the encapsulation of sexuality, meant to preserve marriage from competition, inevitably enclosed competition and the principle that fenced everyone out fenced the couple in; it became a sexual cul-de-sac, and the model of economic competition proved as false to marriage as to farming.

The narrowness of the selective principle proved destructive of what it excluded, and what it excluded was essential to the life of what it enclosed: the nature of sexuality itself...sexual romance can't bear to acknowledge the generality of instinct, whereas sexual capitalism can't acknowledge its particularity, but sexuality appears to be both general and particular. One can't love a particular woman, for instance, unless one loves womankind, if not all women, at least other women.

Sexual romance leaves out this generality, this generosity of instinct; it excludes Aphrodite and Dionysus, and it fails for that reason...though sexual love can endure between the same two people for a long time, it can't do so on the basis of this pretense of the exclusiveness of affection.

The sexual capitalist - that is the disillusioned sexual romantic, in reaction to disillusion makes the opposite oversimplification; one acknowledges one's spouse as one of a general, necessarily troublesome kind of category.

These attitudes look on sexual love as ownership and the sexual romantic - "you belong to me" and the sexual capitalist believes the same thing but has stopped the crooning....each holding that a person's sexual property shall be sufficient unto him or her, and that the morality of that sufficiency is to be forever on guard against expropriation. One tends to exploit one's property and to protect it....and the tragedy is that what is exploited becomes undesirable. The protective capsule becomes a prison, a household of the living dead.

Marriage shrinks to a dull vigil of duty and legality and husband and wife become competitors necessarily, for their only freedom is to exploit each other or to escape.

A more generous enclosure is a household welcoming to neighbors and friends, a garden open to the weather, between the woods and the road. It is possible to imagine a marriage bond that would bind a woman and a man not only to each other, but to the community of marriage, the amorous communion at which all couples sit; the sexual feast and celebration that joins them to all living things and to the fertility of the earth; and the sexual responsibility that joins them to the human past and the human future.

It is possible to imagine marriage as a grievous, joyous human bond, endlessly renewable and renewing again and again rejoining memory and passion and hope.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Generation to Generation

The Family Reunion

In an old house there is always listening,
and more is heard than is spoken.

And what is spoken remains in the room,
waiting for the future to hear it.

And whatever happens began in the past,
and presses hard on the future.

The agony in the curtained bedroom,
whether of birth or of dying,

Gathers in to itself all the voices of the past,
and projects them into the future.

T.S. Eliot

Sunday, November 22, 2009

OPEN HAND Innovation & Mission as an Emerging Faith Community

Over the past twelve years our OPEN HAND International Christian Community has been part of a sometimes deliberate and sometimes random recalibration of what it means to be the church today. Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch in their book The Shaping of Things to Come - Innovation and Mission For the 21st Century Church insightfully express many of our surprising communal experiences with God, including ongoing redemption, transformation and atonement. It is always encouraging to see folks like them highlighting what is happening worldwide and to recognize that we are right in the center of it all. We didn't plan it this way, but graciously give thanks to God for leading our OPEN HAND community onto the roundabout of the global emerging church. I have highlighted some of their book and hope your are as encouraged and challenged as we are by their wisdom and insights! Amen.

Postmodern expressions of what people are looking for in the church today:

1. Belonging - sense of welcome, acceptance and place where they are known
2. Adventure - challenge of being stretched, deep longing to live into full potential
3. Empowerment - expressive opportunities to co-create life, individually and communally
4. Sensuality - experiential community, tasting, touching, sharing, expressing life
5. Celebration - joy of salvation, embracing life in its fullest, meeting deepest desires
6. Liminality - transcending self, in touch with mystery of life, profound spirituality

Christendom - the standardized historical model (stuck in the past and almost irrelevant in popular culture today) is an expression of faith stemming from the post-Constantine period with a heavy Greek influence. It is an out of touch mode of engagement that is primarily attractional (come to us) rather than missional/sending (going out among). It has a strong focus on dedicated and sacred buildings / places of worship and an institutionally recognized, professional clergy class functioning primarily as a hierarchy of pastor/priest. Also there is an institutionalization of grace in the form of sacraments administered by licensed priesthood within the confines of the attractional church format.

Missional church:

a. On the other hand is incarnational rather than attractional in its ecclesiology - not creating isolated and sanctified spaces into which unbelievers must come to encounter the gospel, rather the missional church is mobile and able to disassemble itself, seeping into society in order to be Christ to those who don't yet know him.

b. The Missional church is also messianic rather than dualistic and adopts the world-view of Christ rather than that of the Greco-Roman empire which sees the world as divided between the sacred (religious) and the profane (nonreligious). Rather it sees the world as Christ sees the world and God's place in it is holistic and integrated.

c. It adopts an apostolic rather than hierarchical mode of leadership, recognizing the fivefold model of leadership detailed by Paul - apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, pastoral and teaching

Values of the missional church include: a desire to be adventurous, playful, surprising, chaordic, relevant, improvisational, with sensual-experiential-participatory worship, deeply concerned for matters of justice-seeking, mercy-bringing, unity in diversity, placing a high premium on community, flexible, less structure, broadly biblical, Christ centric...

Shared traits of missional communities include: 1. proximity spaces - places where Christians and not-yet Christians can interact meaningfully with each other 2. shared projects - valuing the development of joint endeavors between the Christian community and its host community...intrinsically valuable activities for the entire society 3. sustainable commercial enterprises that bring more intrinsic value to the broader community and those less fortunate that it serves 4. indigenous faith communities - emerge within the local culture (anti-clone of the existing traditional model of church) infiltrating and transformational....

Incarnational mode - creates a faith community that is a dynamic set of relationships, friendships, and acquaintances...enhancing and flavoring the host community's living social fabric rather than disaffirming it....thus creating a medium of vital connections through which the gospel can naturally travel.

Centered set (not bounded set) - the membership is not defined by some artificial (and often socially prescribed) set of criteria, but by proximity to Jesus...think of a watering well in the center of the land where everyone comes for refreshment, rather than a land fenced in to keep folks in and out....a lifestyle of love, generosity, healing, hospitality, forgiveness, mercy, peace, joy, and belonging.

Missional-incarnational community - lives, eats and works closely with its surrounding society, developing strong links between Christians and not-yet Christians. Recall the movie Chocolat - celebrating life, good food, laughter, romance, storytelling, fantasy and imagination.. offering non-judgmental and compassionate relationships, offering practical help as well as a context for honesty and truth telling....entirely open to innovation, experimentation and creativity.

Gathering spaces - modeled on household space, neighborhood pub, lounge rooms, place of friendship, hospitality, safety, feasting celebrations...for the entire community.

Missional objectives - real connection for the not-yet Christian to participate in the host community.... presence, partnership, inquiry, demonstration, access, encounter.

Critical Contextualization - missional community takes the Bible seriously, recognizes the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of all believers, sees the church as a hermeneutical community, within a global network, thus ensuring a broader international perspective...

Whispered - many people are whispered into the Kingdom slowly and graciously over time... and the communal church fulfills the yearnings for corporate faith and worship that is experiential, participatory, image-driven and communal with an infectious lifestyle, provoking a sense of wonder and awe, showing extraordinary love, exploring how God is touching our lives and focusing on Jesus.

Hebraic Spirit vs Hellenistic consciousness - Hellenistic thinking is speculative in nature, whereas the Hebraic spirit is much more concrete.... Christendom (historical perspective up to modern church) have been overly influenced by Greek notions... and fascinated with abstract and speculative ideas about God and faith - even the creeds (Apostle's Creed included) are primarily focused on the doctrines of God and Christ, saying little more about anything else, avoiding talking about right living, while stressing right thinking.

Orthodoxy - assumes that if we change a person's thinking, we will change the way they live, but there is lots of evidence to the contrary.

Orthopraxy - is a system that believes right living provides the context for us to embrace right thinking... as Pauline Epistles constant references to righteous Christian living as the framework for Christian theologizing.

Fully Biblical - missional community can embrace both orthodoxy and orthopraxy, with God-in-the-mess perspective found in the incarnation... Hebrew mind incorporated "religious" existence into all of life. As such there is no distinction whatsoever between the secular and sacred in the Hebrew world-view.....

Leadership styles: 1. the entrepreneur (apostle) - ground breakers and strategist who initiates an organization 2. the communicator / recruiter (evangelist) - takes the organization's message to those outside and articulates it to them 3. the questioner (prophet) - disturbs the status quo and challenges an organization to move in new directions 4. the humanizer (pastor) - provides the organizational glue by caring for the individuals inside the community 5. the systematizer (teacher) - organizes the various parts into a working unit and articulates that structure to the other members....

Missional community development - a. is organic with the systems held together by the unique distribution laid out in the community DNA, b. it is reproducible both in the local and regional setting, a ministry matrix that is inherent in the community itself, always able to find and reach people, c. it is self-sustaining and self invigorating / regenerative, and grows itself up, with built-in mechanism for maturity.

Pioneering - Pioneers set out to explore and discover new lands, and once it has been opened up, settlers come along and build and establish themselves... without pioneers there would be no place to settle and without the settlers the pioneers would never see their work bear long lasting fruit.

Creativity - is the entire process by which ideas are generated, developed, and transformed into value, it encompasses what people commonly mean by innovation and entrepreneurship, it is the art of giving birth to new ideas and the discipline of shaping and developing those ideas to the stage of realized value...John kao

Imagination - one of the working definitions of poverty is not just lack of resources, but the lack of a dream, a vision, and a hope, people without a dream.... and it is one of our core tasks to help people and the community dream again.

Structure of meaning - good leadership stirs and awakens and harnesses the dreams and visions of the members of a given community, providing a deeper coherence by means of a unifying grand vision that helps tie together all the multiple dreams of the members.

Courage - imagination takes courage as it involves risks and the supreme gamble in which we stake our lives upon a conviction... it is far closer to raw courage than to mere belief, a missional community is as imaginative as it is bold, and willing to try new things and risk it all if necessary to embrace the Kingdom coming.

Paradigm shift - from pre-Copernican to the Copernican, from the Newtonian to the Einstenian, from relativity to quantum, from Christendom model to missional model, a community always embraces the search for truth and a true paradigmatic shift involves the following: 1. we begin with a well-established paradigm, though dominant, it encourages a sense of expectation and searching, and so the quest for answers goes on... 2. an increasing sense of anomaly develops, an awareness that something is wrong...something awry, 3. a slow growing recognition of problems that need a new solution....the beginning of a new process, 4. a new paradigm (answer) begins to emerge, most often with opposition by those who still hold strongly to the established ways...

Fringes - the renewal of church generally comes from fringes, on the edge, with a radical openness to and engagement with real life...

Emerging missional church - rediscovers itself as a missionary movement, where it organizes itself as a centered set, as it builds organic structures, gears for metabolic growth, and develops a missional leadership training style

A movement - is something new, and it is just too chaotic and uncontrollable for most institutions to handle and revival and renewal includes: a thirst for renewal, a new work of the Holy Spirit, a concern for being globally counter-cultural, nontraditional leadership, ministry to the less fortunate, energy and dynamism, ideology of articulated values and goals, real or perceived opposition, personal commitment

Centered set - like land with a wellspring at its center, missional community has a strong identity, but porous boundaries, allow all to get refreshment as necessary, holistic, action focused, cross-cultural, grassroots, diverse, networked, passionate, creative, strategic, leadership development, service, nurtured identity, fostering cooperation, shaping youth, pioneering movement, helping birth, contributing to development, actively stimulating, coordinating energetic activity.

Call to the wild - the task of missional communities requires us to call one another to do wild things - to remind each other what we are made for. It has seldom been observed that tame geese can become wild again...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Transformational Community Living - Global YWAM Affiliates

Transformational Community Immersion: Innovation and Mission in the Kingdom of God

OPEN HAND International Christian Community (global YWAM Affiliates)

Duration: 3-6-9 months

Location: urban Indianapolis, Indiana USA / in partnership with Mana Deschisa Romania

Join with us as we boldly face the future with baptized imaginations :

1.) Belonging - offering solace, welcome, acceptance in our unfolding community life

2.) Thriving - a challenging adventure, stretching us all to live into our life potentials

3.) Empowerment - expressive opportunities to co-create life, individually and communally

4.) Sensuality - experiential community, tasting, touching, sharing, expressing life together

5.) Celebration - liberation, joy, meeting deepest desires, embracing of life in all its fullness

6.) Liminality - transcending self, in touch with mystery of life, profound spirituality

Facilitated by: Open Hand community members - Weekly Group Process, Individual and Family Therapy, Leadership Development, Missional Emerging faith community, Global Sustainable Social Businesses - Participation, Dialogue and Community Outreach

Cost: Everything you currently are to become who you truly want to be !

OPEN HAND is an emerging urban faith community founded in 1997 by several families committed to creating an incarnational and international Christian presence in the heart of Indianapolis. As worldwide YWAM associates with a faith-based orientation combining the insights of Christianity, natural systems and Marriage & Family Therapy, many young adults have apprenticed themselves to new ways of conceptualizing their lives and the surrounding relationship systems of extended family, workplace vocation and congregational life. Lives have been powerfully impacted, marriages rejuvenated, families empowered and relationships restored in the process of transformational immersion within our community.

Are you over 18 with a passion for the spirit of adventure, the challenge of discovery and the courage to change and grow beyond the limits of your current life? Then we welcome you to come journey with us for a season as we stretch our collective imaginations and live into our vocational callings as an emerging faith community, powered by global sustainable social businesses focused on our marginalized and less fortunate neighbors here and abroad.

YWAMer's needing outreach credit are welcome to apply. We look forward to your participation as we wrestle together with what it means to live intentionally with one another in our faith community.

Grace, O'

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Community as a public 'halfway house'

Saint Patrick by Derek Powell

A challenge from Parker Palmer - highlighted by O'Steven

Goal - is for the community of faith to become a 'halfway house', helping people move from fear of the world around them, into a role as co-creators of a world which is both God's and our own.

To begin - we must first abandon our idealized image of the family as the foundation for our faith communities in which intimacy is the primary and often exclusive goal - dominated by the expectation of closeness and warmth. Faith communities formed in that image of life together are not likely to prepare its members for full public involvement.

Envisioning - our faith community as an idealized family causes many problems
  • devaluing conflict because we want to maintain a facade of peace - we hide disagreements instead of getting them into the open where we might learn from them, working through our problems
  • apparent unity is fragile and unfulfilling, and behind it one often finds anger, frustration and other taboo emotions
  • church community as an idealized family also hinders heterogeneity (public diversity) - squeezing out people with whom we cannot achieve intimacy (since intimacy often depends on social and economic similarities between people)
  • such a community does everything in its power to eliminate the strange and cultivate the familiar - so it can neither welcome the stranger nor allow the stranger in each of us to emerge
  • such a faith community creates barriers to public life, becoming self-contained, joined only by those who conform to its ideology
Church community then becomes a place of retreat rather than engagement, innovation, and change, paralyzed by a fantasy image of the ideal family, unable to imagine new structures which might help humanize the surrounding public in need.

Redefine - we need to redefine our faith communities, and envision creating spaces which are not mere extensions of private security and familial intimacy, but which bridge our public and private lives - leading us from the familiarities of private life into the strangeness of the public realm.

All faith communities - (and families and marriages) have deep conflict, and the task there as in all human relations is not to perfect or abandon relationships, but to let the conflicts and contradictions pull us open to larger truth. As Christians we understand all our relations - even the closest ones - to be broken and imperfect, but forgiven and redeemed. We are called to live in the recognition of both realities.

God's Kingdom - is unfolding as faith communities resembling family formations - but only in as much as we are able to regard all our neighbors (and societal strangers) as our brothers and sisters; when we can embrace all of the contradictions and conflicts of public life with familial compassion, knowing that under God, in our astonishing variety, we are made as one.

Domesticated faith community - until we abandon the notion of community as an idealized vision of the family and let that word embrace far more than it normally does, we only further domesticate our faith communities by conceiving them in unrealistic and ideal familial terms.

Community as a "school of the Spirit" - is perhaps a better way to envision our faith community, places where God is continually drawing us out of ourselves into the larger public life. Our idealized images of community will always fail us, as they project upon the community such needs for personal nurture and support as can only be met by our relationship to God.

Unmasking - Community life is a continual process of unmasking, of having to let go of illusions about ourselves and others. It is a place where the nudging of the Spirit, holy teachings, show us where the power of life really lies.

The external stranger - reminds us of the inner stranger who we do not want to acknowledge or confront. It is a painful experience, but only as this darkness is "educated" out of us will we be prepared for life together. Such pain is not a denial of community; it is a fulfillment of the role that community can play in our lives, the role of drawing us out into a renewal of public life.

What is missing - are the relations of strangers who will never achieve intimacy, but who meet with a sense of commonality which makes creative conflict possible - meetings of the sort which characterize the healthy public life. Can our Open Hand community learn to model that mode of relationship?

The faith in which our community is grounded emerges from a story of conflict. Never in the biblical record is that conflict finally resolved, we have not been delivered into a utopia of perfect harmony. But in our unfolding story, conflict is the context in which the faith is taught. In the midst of conflict God the teacher moves, offering the gift of reconciliation even when it is refused over and over again.


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Toward a more responsible redemptive social action

Highlighted by O'Steven from John Hay, Jr., D. Min.


View of the problem - individual moral default
View of the person - moral bankrupt, "project", dependent
Position of the helper - benevolent evangelist, authority over
Nature of intervention - press for spiritual-based behavior adjustment in the dependent
Catalyst for change - conversion
Intended Result - Discipleship
Practices - preaching, teaching, mentoring, accountability
Where is God? Above
What is Salvation? non-material, transcendent
Community impact - individual lives positively impact the community indirectly


View of problem - individual & systemic default
View of person - client, dependent/codependent
Position of helper - professional caregiver
Nature of intervention - call for social-based behavior adjustment in client
Catalyst for change - connect to good resources, will power
Intended result - productive member of society
Practices - assessing needs, procuring entitlements, follow progress
Where is God? Aside
What is Salvation? social stability, relieved of social oppression
Community impact - self-sufficiency, independence impacts the community indirectly


View of problem - personal & relational estrangement
View of person - guest, gift-bearer, neighbor
Position of helper - host, toward mutuality
Nature of intervention - opens possibility for change within guest and host
Catalyst for change - sustained, respectful interpersonal interaction
Intended result - neighboring
Practices - making room, hosting, neighboring
Where is God? among
What is Salvations? realizing hope in relationship, emerging community
Community impact - interdependence between neighbors impacts the community directly

A Few Observations:

1. Hospitality offers a powerful "next step" for many faith-based initiatives struggling to breakthrough to more authentic relationships
2. Hospitality reframes redemptive social action away from specialization and professionalization while maintaining a highly disciplined approach
3. Hospitality is thoroughly Biblical in its grounding and Kingdom focused
4. Hospitality places confidence in the work of God the Holy Spirit to foster authentic relationships between guests and hosts
5. Hospitality creates a dynamic system of true freedom, clear boundaries, and mutuality among participants
6. A paradigm of hospitality is not easy to initiate and it is maintained precariously by constant reinforcement of its principles, practices and open conflict (not competition)

Misso Dei - "Mission of God"

Basilica Di S. Vitale - Byzantine Mosaic Ravenna, Italy circa 548

"As the Father has sent me, so I send you." John 20:21

Missional reorientation - the biblical message of mission is radical, and much more transforming that we have traditionally allowed it to be.....the church of Jesus Christ is not the purpose or goal of the gospel, but rather its instrument and witness.

Ecclesiocentric approach of functional Christendom - has made missions only one more of the many programs of the church and this church centered approach is alive and well in North American congregations - collecting funds and sending them off to genuine mission enterprises elsewhere - rather than viewing the entire congregational budget as an exercise in mission.

Reorientation of theology - has been necessary to help us see that the church is God's instrument for God's mission and the definition of "church" itself continues to present challenges as new faith communities form to prophetically challenge the dominant cultural dynamics and accept their vocation to proclaim the hope, the message and the demonstration of the inbreaking reign (Kingdom) of God in Jesus Christ.

Fundamental affirmations of this missional hermeneutic include:
  • a missional ecclesiology that is biblical where scripture functions authoritatively
  • a missional ecclesiology that is historical - is part of our catholicity (global universality) as we are guided by the church in all its cultural expressions, including those that precede us and those that are contemporary with us
  • A missional eccelsiology is contextual - there is only one way to be church and that is incarnationally, within a specific setting as the gospel is translated into surrounding culture
  • A missional ecclesiololgy is eschatological - the church and its doctrine is not static, but developmental and dynamic, moving toward God's promised consummation of all things
  • A missional ecclesiology can be practiced - and translated into action as the function of all theology is to equip the church for its calling to - "make disciples of all nations..."
Body of Christ - no accident that the church is called the "body of Christ" as it continues as an incarnate expression of the life of God...and no less than for Jesus, this necessitates that the church always takes particular form, shaped according to the context in which it lives....leaving the church never finished, settled or permanent incarnation...its vocation is to live faithfully, to the gospel in a fully contextual manner

Missional faith community - finds expression in a number of different organizational arrangements.....formations of particular communities began in Jerusalem, Samaria, Antioch, Asia Minor, Greece and homes, assemblies in rented halls, riversides or synagogues... with the ecclesial practices beginning immediately, and the structures for continuing Christian witness emerging, borrowing from the cultural context for regular meetings for worship, instruction, and mutual encouragement highlighted by diverse patterns of celebration.

Diverse structural forms - existed as these faith communities each embodied an expression of the one people of God formed by the Holy Spirit to be witness to Jesus Christ...and the structure of connectedness was likewise diverse but present in their common vocational calling.
The challenge is to enable the missional community to function faithfully in its specific cultural context with the structures incarnating the message in its setting.... "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:35

Reign of God - the church is the sign, foretaste, instrument, and agent of God's inbreaking Kingdom and the goal is to organize the church in ways that will enable it to "represent God's reign as its community, its servant, and its messenger." The church finds itself living out the tension between what God has already done and what God has promised to do...with a continual need for confession, renewal, and change.....a continual conversion of the church.

Apostolic instruction - church's task in every culture is to find the visible structural form that is worthy of its calling to be the witness to Christ in that particular place...a faithful response to the gospel, appropriation of the Spirit's empowering gifts for continuing ministry, and the dynamic translation of the gospel into the structure and functions of the community.

Basic form of particular community - is a gathering company of followers of Jesus called by God's Spirit and joined together as God's people in a particular place where this happens concretely in the joining together to worship, to grapple with the Scripture, to be instructed in the faith, to love each other, and to practice the rule of Christ corporately and individually.

Challenge - is to become a missional community, with continual reform and transformation and the resources of the Holy Spirit to guide ongoing structural innovation and to practice radical hospitality that welcomes into the centered community people who are at all stages of response to the gospel...not establishing levels of spiritual status or a spiritual elite.

Overarching sense - of church life is that of a pilgrim people, a movement toward God's promised fulfillment....and the community itself is continually being converted as it follows Christ. Membership can't be defined in terms of achievement, or completion, or having arrived...there is ongoing growth, and a covenanting process.

Calling at Pentecost - what Peter calls a "race, priesthood, nation, and people" (1 Peter 2:9-10), a worldwide multicultural fellowship of witness....a universal community of communities with the particular community in essence, an expression of the church catholic....a common bond, a relationship that is part and parcel of their vocation and their faithfulness.

Reformation - supplemented the "classic marks of the church" from Nicea in the 4th century, with its definition of the "true church" in terms of basic functions: where the Word is preached, the sacraments administered, and Christian discipline as adverbs rather than adjectives...the church's missional ministry is unifying, sanctifying, reconciling and proclaiming, with a focus on the dynamic work of God's Spirit in and through the church, rather than dwelling on abstract concepts defining the church.

Sent church - can't let the need to maintain itself organizationally eclipse the mission for which it is called and equipped - faithfulness to the original apostolic authority which means reconciling, sanctifying, and unifying ways it demonstrates the love of God through the rule of Christ.... further the catholicity, holiness, and unity of the church are rooted in and formed by its apostolicity.....these marks express the sent-ness of the church; they describe what this sent community does and how it does it.

Missional community - is catholic when its way of serving Christ is appropriate to the gospel, while modestly recognizing that it is not the only way to be a Christian community...its way of being contributes to the reconciling of the entire church by focusing on the center of the gospel: the person and work of Christ, the hope of the gospel, the promised inbreaking of God's rule already begun in the apostolic mission. God's Spirit (the Sanctifier) works through the community's witness to heal the broken creation, to extend the salvation that Jesus accomplished on the cross.

Holiness demonstrated - in the ways that it practices forgiveness, fostering healing and reconciliation, makes peace, loves righteousness, and walks in Jesus' footsteps...translated into concrete service to the poor, the marginalized, and those subject to injustice....the community makes holy as it lives out the gospel in all its organizational processes, internally and externally.

Servus servorum Christi - missional thrust of the covenant means that we understand ourselves as servants of our companions in the centered congregation....Jesus washing the feet of his disciples is the model of ministry for the covenant community....redefine oneself within the community as a "servant of the servants of Christ"

Missional ecclesiology - must clearly identify and resist all attempts to equip the church merely for its maintenance and must reject every proposal to restore the trappings and privileges of Christendom

Gospel of the inbreaking reign of God - must be upheld as the sole criterion of the particular and connecting structures of the church....that gospel requires of the church that it be open to surprise, to testing, to suffering, as well as to the blessing of joy and peace....

Highlighted from Missional Church - A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America edited by Darrell L. Guder

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thanks Marshall and Larisa !

Jenn, Kath, Steve and Ann in Campina, Romania - We miss you already !

Worlds Oldest Republic - San Marino

Marshall and Larisa McKenna enjoy the view of San Marino, the worlds oldest and smallest sovereign and constitutional republic founded on September 3, 301 by Saint Marinus. The government of San Marino made United States President Abraham Lincoln a honorary citizen. He wrote in reply, saying the republic proved that "government founded on republican principles is capable of being so administered as to be secure and enduring."

OPEN HAND - Emerging Community Themes

OPEN HAND International Christian Community 1997 -2009

Emerging Themes that have been woven into the DNA of our global community structures:

1.) Intentional Faith Community: Emerging Church
2.) Social Business Network: For-Profit/Not-for-Profit Sustainable Businesses
3.) Missional Faith Community: Global Apostolic Missions


Question: "What happens when you meet postmodern Italians in a dark alley?"

Answer: "They offer you a deal you can't understand."

Check out Carl Raschke and his book The Next Reformation on postmodernity.


"The key question that Christianity helps us answer is not 'Is there life after death?', but rather, 'Is it possible to have life before death?'" -- Peter Rollins

So be it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Holding my tongue...for four weeks???

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend my first Friday morning prayer session at Flanders yesterday. I was only able to stay for 30 minutes, but it was a meaningful start to my day. For anyone who has not yet been, I encourage you to force yourself out of your cozy bed while it's still pitch black outside, step your feet onto a freezing floor and make your way to an even colder Flanders (do they even have heat there???). Thanks to Scott, there was some warm coffee I wrapped my hands around to keep my fingers from suffering hypothermia.

I digress....after some readings, prayer and communion, I took Scott's advice and decided to participate in the great bowl challenge (not sure what it's really called but this is what I'm naming it). If you've been to prayer, you know what I'm talking about; and if you've participated in this specific activity, you know why I call it the "great" bowl challenge. My challenge for the month is indeed great - and don't worry, I won't let myself off the hook just because I received it on Oct. 16. I will continue to grapple with it through November 15 at 7:30 a.m. - 744 hours to be exact with approximately 496 of them waking hours (but who's counting?)

Here is the spiritual discipline I was led to pick up: "Seek to go an entire month without gossiping, slandering, or putting down another person." Until you're faced with this challenge, I don't think one realizes its difficulty and just how often your tongue slips into "gossip mode..." especially if you work in an office setting where not everyone agrees with the boss's management style.'s to four weeks of holding my tongue. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Josh sends greetings to Romania

Unell and Josh at the Mana Deschisa campus.

Excerpts from Josh's recollections of his time in Romania with Marshall and Mana Deschisa:

"I was at my parents the other day and somewhat cursing the black walnuts that unpredictably fell on my car when parked in the driveway. The tree only looks like a green, healthy tree a month or so of the year. The rest of the time it looks on the verge of dying as its leaves are half-brown and appear to be hanging on for dear life. The nuts come falling in autumn and they are encased in a hard casing that stain your hands if you touch them. The beauty of them, however, is that walnuts are considered a 'super-food', one of God's best creations for feeding us Mid-
West folks. Super high in protein and omega 3 fatty acids, along with being good source of vitamins B,E and magnesium.

It really makes me glad and excited when people I know are going to visit Marshall and experience Open Hand Romania. It oft feels like another lifetime that I was there five (or more ?) times. It also makes me think of guys like Unell (who I often forget the names of), who is in the picture I've attached. He is a guy who has a pretty awesome conversion-process. I'm not sure if he is with Open Hand anymore but if so, please tell him Peter Reynolds and I said "Buna!" As for the walnut tree, it was in thinking about Unell that made me reflect upon that difficult, but beautiful tree. Marshall has spent the past 12 years recognizing the 'walnut trees' in Romania. I love that about him and think I share a bit of it with him. My dislike of roses is connected to this, for they are so easily recognized as 'beautiful', yet really have much less to offer than those awkward walnut trees. Marshall has recognized the streets of Romania as the tree that litters its walnut seeds about and knows that the messiness of handling them is so, so worth the effort. Unell is one of God's best creations, I believe.....

Have a phenomenal trip and I look forward to hearing about it when you return,

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

OPEN HAND - Intentional Faith Community

Open Hand USA is an emerging catholic, missional and monastic faith community: 1997 -2009
Affiliates: Australia -Holland - Kenya - Norway -Romania -USA

Catholic implies a post-Reformation ecumenical embrace of the church in its numerous world wide expressions.

Missional can be summarized by a global focus on the good of the cosmos (world) with a desire to work for God's Kingdom in transforming love for all creation.

Monastic informs us of the ancient rhythms of intentional community and spiritual disciplines woven into the fabric of our relationships.

Emerging means just what it says - an ongoing process of discovery and formulation as we are continually informed and often surprised by what God is doing here and now in our journey of faith as an intentional community in Indianapolis.

C.S. Lewis reminds us that .....we are forbidden to neglect the assembling of ourselves together. The Church is the Bride of Christ and we are members of one another. As Christians we are not called to individualism, but to membership in the mystical body. The very word membership is of Christian origin, but has been taken over by the world and emptied of all meaning. Today it refers to "members of a class or group" and this definition that stands for "particulars included in a homogeneous structure", is almost the opposite of what St. Paul meant by "members". Club membership consists merely of "units", not anything in the Pauline sense.

We can see how true membership in a body differs from inclusion in a collective by looking at a family. The grandfather, the parents, the grown-up son, the child, the dog and cat are true members in the organic sense precisely because they are not members or units of a homogeneous class. They are not interchangeable and each person is almost a species in themselves. If you subtract any one member from the family you have not simply reduced the family in number, you have inflicted an injury on its structure. Its unity is a unity of unlikes, almost of incommensurables.

Inherent in this kind of unity is a richness, a diversity and extreme differentiation of persons in harmonious union which we know intuitively to be our true refuge both from solitude and from the collective. This is real organic unity. The society into which the Christian is called is not a collective but a Body. It is in fact that Body which the family is an image on the natural level. Membership in this body is not a massing together of persons, because at the threshold we discover that the head of this Body is so unlike the members that we are summoned from the outset to combine as creatures with our Creator, as mortals with immortal, as redeemed with sinless Redeemer.

The sacrifice of selfish privacy which is daily demanded of us in the Body is daily repaid a hundredfold in the true growth of personality which the life of the Body encourages. Those who are members of one another become as diverse as the hand and ear. Obedience is the road to freedom, humility the road to pleasure, unity the road to personality. Our structural position in the Church which the humblest Christian occupies is eternal and even cosmic, and the Church will outlive the universe - everything that is joined to the immortal head will share his immortality. The collective is mortal, the individual shall live for ever. Amen

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

12 October 1492

"I went to sea at an early age, and there I have continued to this day; the same art inclines those who follow it to wish to know the secrets of this world....I have sailed everywhere that is navigable...Our Lord found this my desire very proper....He opened my understanding with his hand, so that I became capable of sailing from here to the Indies, and He set fire to my will to carry this out, and with this fire I came to your Highnesses." Columbus to the King and Queen of Spain

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Leadership,Imagination & The Spirit of Adventure

"Consider," he said, "that you, as young architects are to be the pattern givers of civilization... you must be the way showers. As no stream can rise higher than its source, so you can rise no more or better to architecture than you are. So why not go to work on yourselves, to make yourselves in quality what your would have your buildings be?" Frank Lloyd Wright

Sunday, October 4, 2009

28 Years later - October 3, 1981 - October 3, 2009

Love you lots! The wife of my youth - Ann, and our offspring - Nick, John, Peter, O' and Annie! As usual, your assignment is to stay out of control and go out in life and have more fun than you should....enjoy the challenge -cheers, DAD

Friday, October 2, 2009

Rabbi Jesus

"Define the hell out of yourself, or someone else will...." Rabbi Ed Friedman

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mind the Gap

Mind the Gap: An Icon for Meditation

The imagery of this icon draws on Aboriginal cave/rock art from ancient times. The Aborigines would put red dirt in their mouths and place their hands on a rock or cave wall and then spit on their hands until an outline remained of their hand. Much like graffiti is used by gangs today, the hand image would mark a territory for a certain tribe or group.

The interesting thing about this image is that it is not a drawing of a hand. The negative (pink) space forms the recognizable shape around the hand. We recognize the form of a hand in the “gap”.

The concept for meditation here is to take the original Aboriginal idea of the hand marking off territory and turn it inside out. At certain times in our lives, we aren’t as concerned with what we own and where we are, but where we’re going. I think the first prayer that pops into our minds is, “God, show me what to do and where to go.” Often a holy silence follows this prayer. At times, it can feel like there’s no response to this prayer. It seems like God could use a hearing aid. Maybe we didn’t word our prayers correctly. Maybe we’re on the wrong path and can’t even remember the way back to the path we branched off. Maybe the prayer is just us talking to ourselves.

What if we had the eyes to see the “gap”? Maybe God isn’t going to show you where to go and what to do, but maybe in your daily life you can see a void of love, peace and compassion in family and friends’ (even strangers’) lives. These are the areas that are crying out to be filled with the goodness of his kingdom. These are the shadowed areas that are in need of light. In this sense, the ability to “mind the gap” is a gift given to us—the eyes to see and the ears to hear a void that is calling out for the goodness and love of Christ. Therefore, “minding the gap” is the ability to see an area of need and acting on that need. Maybe then we can begin to see where our hand—a part of the body—fills in the void. We can then claim this small area for the kingdom.

So, if you are at a point in your expedition where you’re uncertain of which path to take—remember to “mind the gap”. It is one strategy for determining the way forward.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cappadocia - early church

Focus on Strength H.E./R.O.

White Board adapted from Rabbi Edwin H. Friedman DD and his keynote presentation for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy in 1992. (AAMFT)

"In a society oriented towards pathology rather than strength, it tends to measure the toxicity of any condition (physical illness, economic situation, race, gender, aging, boss, board of trustees, any statistical study emphasizing 'risk' factors) as equal to the strength x the number of pathogenic factors in the environment. With H.E. standing for the hostile environment we then get: H.E. = S.N. The hostility of an environment equals the strength x the number of toxic factors in the environment. But that is really not an accurate view of life, for the most part.

It is certainly accurate for radiation, falling out of an airplane or being held under water. Those situations are critically linear. But for most of the problems human beings face, a more accurate equation is a fraction which states that the potential hostility of any condition is proportional to the response of the organism, H.E./R.O., with R.O. embracing such factors as the organism's stamina, resiliency, self regulation, hope, etc. Now, as you all know from the simplest algebra, even a slight increase in a denominator (R.O.) has great power to reduce the value of any numerator (H.E.). More important, when the denominator (R.O.) heads toward zero (which occurs in a passive, victim stance or its opposite, a highly reactive non self-regulatory attitude), then no matter how small the numerator (H.E. i.e. the potentially toxic condition), it takes on infinite proportions.

In a society that is oriented towards pathology, the tendency is to focus only on the horizontal axis. The growth of human beings, however, the maturing of relationships, the evolution of our species, and perhaps all healing that endures, depends more on the qualities that can be measured by the vertical axis.

Obviously, if your major goal is social action and the direct modification of toxic factors in the environment, then the horizontal axis is, and should be, your focus. But I am speaking from a clinical point of view, and in that context, orientation towards the horizontal axis rather than the vertical is counter-evolutionary. Indeed, unless the strengths of family members are supported and promoted, then all efforts to improve the environment will be eroded from within. In other words, improvements in the external condition of families will not last where there is not a corresponding strengthening of our species' assets. Another way of saying this is all healing that endures is self-regenerative, meaning not only that the healing process must be located in the organism to be healed, rather than the healer, but also because then the very act of healing creates more self, i.e. movement up the vertical scale."

The Challenge of Change and the Spirit of Adventure by Rabbi Edwin H. Friedman DD

Mana Deschisa Romania

Check out their new blog, ! Great updates on what's happening in Campina....

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The End of Theology

"Christian truth is such that it is not lost or distorted upon uniting itself with the concrete, the limited, and the transitory. On the contrary, the truth - or at least that truth which is given to men - is given precisely there when the eternal unites with the historical; where God became flesh; where a specific man, in a specific situation, is able to say: 'I am the truth." Justo L. Gonzalez

"Christian truth is not, never was, and never will be propositional truth. Propositional, or purely philosophical, truth is conditional truth, even if it claims to be about what is unconditional. It can never be made into the touchstone of Christian truth, which is always personal and relational. The Bible is not a system of arguable and debatable propositions. As Kierkegaard says, the paradox of the Incarnation demands faith more than assent. For faith is the total surrender of one's heart, mind, and body to the infinite and Almighty God, who calls us into relation. Scripture is the voice that calls us into that relation." The Next Reformation by Carl Raschke

Monday, September 21, 2009

Open Hand Schedule of Events

GATHERINGS — monthly pitch-in at The Reynolds Home
  • Sunday February 21st
  • Sunday March 7th
  • Sunday April 11th
  • All Gatherings at 5:30pm

WORSHIP - monthly locations to be announced
  • Sunday February 7th (Starkey Home 6:00pm)
  • Sunday March 21st
  • Sunday April 25th
  • Worship at 5:30pm

PRAYER - Crash Chapel (3174 N. Delaware Street)
  • every Friday morning
  • 6:45 - 8:45 am

  • Ash Wednesday - February 17th - Crash Chapel 6:45am - 8:45am
  • St. Patrick's Day - March 17th - Crash Pub - 12pm - 12am

Friday, September 18, 2009

New Found Respect for the BMV

Around the first of this month I received a notice from the Indiana BMV. It was letting me know that the two speeding tickets that I earned over the last twelve months had afforded me unique status among my fellow drivers. I was being invited to join the "Indiana Driver Safety Program"! For only $50.00, four hours of online study, fourteen quizzes, and one "final" to ensure that I had mastered the material; get this - I would be allowed to keep my Driver's License! Of course I couldn't say no to such an honor as this.

Actually, once I recovered from my driven sense of personal violation (NPI), I paid the fifty and logged on to The first image to greet me was a dozen Indy cars racing around a track, "OK BMV... rub it in". The next image made up for that one. The beautiful woman relaxing with her laptop and enjoying the coursework made me think, "I can do this" and I dove into the purpose statement.

The purpose of Indiana Online Driver Improvement is to remind you of many factors related to safe driving on the roads and highways of Indiana. Over time, drivers often forget many of the vital ingredients necessary for survival on the roads in our state. This safe driving program will reinforce many concepts you may have learned when first taught to drive, while also teaching you new methods and laws to practice forever.

It already seemed pedantic and overbearing... "teach ME new methods & laws to practice forever, right."

It took about four days to complete the fourteen chapters and review. Somewhere around chapter five I had to admit that this was really some good stuff. I actually found myself trying to be a better driver. The "rules of the road" that before had seemed so arbitrary were beginning to make sense.

Solid and ofttimes sobering statistics lay behind the boundaries placed on our driving freedoms. Road rage in one driver has the potential to set off a chain of destruction affecting numbers of other drivers and their families. Alcohol is involved in over one-third of all driving fatalities and teenage drivers account for well over fifty percent of all accidents. Aggressive driving increases the likelihood of serious accident exponentially, not to mention the death toll, the permanent injuries, the financial cost of driver self-indulgence etc., these gruesome numbers are beginning to awaken me to the importance of this stuff.

OK... now here is the segue.

At times for me and possibly many others the Bible seems to be a sort of spiritual rules of the road. Arbitrary rules from a bored sovereign who has nothing better to do than make life miserable. "Put off this... put on that... never let this be named among you... don't steal, don't lie, don't worship other gods or commit adultery, don't covet and always forgive... even your enemies" - the list goes on and on it seems. But what if we could see the "numbers & statistics" that God sees? What if the cost (to ourselves & others) of ignoring this wisdom far exceeds the temporal benefit we might personally receive from indulging ourselves by "breaking the rules"? What if our actions or inaction have the power to set off a chain of events that bring blessing or curse? What if we could, like Ashton Kutcher in the movie The Butterfly Effect, actually see the long-term consequences of our choices? Would obeying God make more sense? Would the signposts of scripture make more sense?

Thank-you BMV.

Humbled & Challenged,
scott rieger

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Just Go for It ! "I don't believe in punting...."

With these simple words, Coach Kelley of the Pulaski Academy Bruins has found a profound and paradoxical scheme for winning high school football games. His team hasn't punted since 1997 (when it did so as an act of sportsmanship) and they have over 100 wins this decade including the Arkansas 5A championship last year.

Do the math (according to this weeks Sports Illustrated magazine article) and you can begin to imagine the systemic motivational force field that empowers this team with the mind set of four downs on each possession - instead of the traditional three and punt mentality. They actually morph into more of a rugby team as they effectively throw the ball on most plays that include shuffle passes, end arounds, reverses and multiple laterals.

Talking about imaginative faith in action, tested in the rough and tumble world of Friday night lights across the USA, and you have another expample of what is happening worldwide as emerging faith communities scrimmage the more traditional and inherited institutional church structures that were built around the time of "3 yards and a cloud of dust" mentality.

As we emergent's give up punting, and enjoy playing a wide open game (regardless of the outcome) we might just end up at the local pub buying pints for the other team. I say cheers!
Enjoy the challenge,

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Boundaries with kids

After rummaging through the hords of boxes full of books in our basement I hit the jackpot. Clutched in my hand I held "Boundaries with kids" by Cloud and Townsend. Yes I need reminding of how to set limits with my two year old in a loving way. How do I balance healthy attachment and discipline? How do I build up a positive sense of self worth in my children and let them know they are not the center of the universe but part of it?

This book does not provide the answers to all your parenting dilemma's but it does provide practical ways to help parents implement boundaries in the lives of their children to help produce healthy and mature adults in the future. I need to have an eye on the future when parenting. I am not Isabel and Ariana's friend, I am their mother and, while friendship will develop, it is love, freedom and limits which they need.

One of the most poignant points the authors make is that children need reality based consequences. In other words, do not rescue your child when she makes a bad choice but let her deal with the consequences now. This will teach her. It is very easy to get pulled back into the way your family or origin functioned when parenting your own children. The emotional pull of the system is incredibly strong. Give reality consequences to your children, not negative relational consequences. Don't scream and shout, emotionally react or distance yourself. When dealing with a behavioral issue give them a simple consequence that you can carry out consistently. How I have noticed this in my own life is that sometimes I can feel overwhelmed with the demands of Isabel. I need to understand that I can say "no" to playing barbies or telling stories or whatever it is. It is not her fault for being demanding, it is my responsibility to provide a boundary for her.

Give your child freedom, give them choices, then if they make bad decisions the parent is the only person who can implement reality consequences. Make it easier for the child to choose well, and praise them for it. As Cloud and Townsend say "You are an oak tree that your children will bump up against." Children are not born with boundaries. Parents provide them with external boundaries and children learn to internalize them. This is one of the ways that children build character, can learn to respect all people and have a healthy sense of their limits., nut are not restricted in their development.

I am still figuring out how to do this well. Some days I do very well giving freedom, love and limits and other days I don't. I have realized that I need to continue to get what I need in terms of time away, building my own career and spending time with other adults to get renewed and that way I am a much better mother to my two girls.