Tuesday, February 26, 2008

News Flash!

I got a new position, a promotion, if you will, at my current job. I am now a rental service unit adjuster. I will be a licensed adjuster in the state of CT which translates and is accepted by almost every other state. So, no more call center stuff for me. I am actually going to have challenges and be able to freely think and work at my own pace, not a systematic one. I am excited to say the least. God has been very good to me. I thought I was fortunate just to be able to work next door where I work and be able to get a promotion, but apparently there is more to it. I was talking with a guy in my new training class, Patrick, and he was telling me how many people interviewed for the 5 positions myself, he, and three others got and how fortunate we really are to get these positions. Apparently several hundred people applied for 5 positions and I was one of the 5 who got one, me, just a young 24 year old guy. So although I’ve been going through a funky, quiet phase with God lately, I have felt like He is being quiet and I feel kind of isolated, He is still good and always has what is best in mind for me. I’m on the uphill struggle of this funky stage and little reminders of His goodness like this help me further along. So join me in praising God for all He has done for me!

Be Like The Trees

This morning, we met as a leadership team to discuss membership/covenant partnership. I was and am still a little delirious about this idea because it is not specifically touched upon in Scripture; however, we are left with great principles to encourage it though. Being naturally curious, I did a little Google search and found a pretty helpful article. Out of this article the one thing that struck me was a simple quote about some trees:

“The great sequoia trees of California are some of the largest living things on earth. Yet, one seldom sees a sequoia standing by itself. Scientists tell us that the sequoia has a relatively shallow root system and that if storms come, a single tree can be felled easily. Nevertheless, a grove of sequoia trees intertwines their roots together, and that provides support for each other in the face of the storms.”

What a beautiful illustration of what a membership or covenant partnership should look like, in idea. Not a list of tasks one must complete to be a part of some club, but rather a commitment to a community that will support each other upon the foundation of the Word of God. Everything else is pretty vague and gray, but this idea of God wanting us to be a unified body is certain. Jesus prayed that we would be unified as Him and The Father are….so whether you are a member or signed a covenant, the community of support is the goal right? Any thoughts?

Friday, February 22, 2008

New Born

There is something beautiful and innocent about children isn’t there? Why is it we can just watch two children interact and not say a word, but just listen and watch? I lived with and became very close to a family this past year and watched both of their children grow up from infants to toddlers with independent personalities and thoughts. I am a goof ball so I am dramatic in what I do and say, for instance, take the word yes, I say YE-YA instead, it just makes me happy. So now if you could imagine a 2 year old running around the house answering questions with “ye-ya,” you would get a brief picture of the little girl being influenced by me, her uncle Adam. As I look back even at my own short life, I am only the way I am because of the things that have helped to shape me, circumstances, people, getting hurt, family, friends, school, etc. I was born into this world and everything within it shaped me into who I am. That itself is a simple thought. Birth is simple, however, rebirth is not as easy to wrap your mind around and many, like Nicodemus, come across the dilemma of understanding rebirth.

I think I can understand where Nicodemus was coming from when he emphatically asked Jesus, “How can anyone be born when they are old? Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” So, I think people need more of a response than, “Just believe.” Really? Is that why you follow Jesus? One day you decided that you would just believe with no explanation? I say NO ONE follows Jesus without some kind of experience of Him and then from there, their life changed. So, when people ask what being saved looks like, or how is one reborn, we should be slow to think that this concept is easy.

Jesus explained it this way to Nicodemus, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit (John 3:5-8, TNIV)."

What does wind have to do with anything? Jesus uses a practical example to teach a hard truth to a very religious man. Nicodemus was a Pharisee who came by night to see Jesus. It is mentioned that Nicodemus came by night 2 other times as well in the Gospel of John (any time something is repeated in the bible, pay attention, it is important). So Jesus is telling this man who he knows has intellectual knowledge of the Law and God, but isn’t living the life God created us to live by following Him in the Law. Jesus came to offer freedom outside of the religious system the Pharisees had created. Nicodemus did not understand what being reborn meant. Jesus was basically telling Nicodemus that being reborn is from above and that once a person is reborn their world changes, everything they do is different. A child does not choose when they come into the world, the mother’s body does, the child essentially has no control over when it is born. A child from London and a child from North Queens right? The reason they are different is because of the influences they have in their life, what they were born into. The world we are born into shapes us right? So Jesus is saying that once you have this spiritually initiated rebirth experience you will become a different child because your world has changed, because now it is of the Spirit. I guess this the best way I can explain it and make sense of it in my head. The reality is that I can not truly grasp it, but can tell if I am reborn by my actions, by how I love, forgive, live, speak, think, etc., like the wind…

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Break Up Letter

I found this awesome site today: www.theooze.com
I would highly recommend you checking it out.
Here is a letter I found that is amazing to read, check it out and see if you hear yourself a little bit...

Below is a beautiflly written peice of modern expression by Aaron Pluim, not me.

Dear American Dream,I don’t know exactly how to say this to you. I wish it could be easy, and I could tell you it’s me, it’s not you. But that wouldn’t be true. For the most part, it is you. You’re the reason I have to write this letter. You’re the reason we have to break-up.I honestly thought things could work out between us. You had a lot to offer to our relationship and you seemed really great. Don’t get me wrong, for a time I truly loved you. I’d think of you when I was bored or after those draining eight hour shifts at work of asking ungrateful customers whether they wanted fries with their burger. The thought of being with you inspired me to push through some really tough times; you gave me hope for a better life. And the promises you’d make to me sounded too good to be true. After all, who doesn’t want wealth, health and security? You told me I could settle down one day and purchase a really nice house. You even insisted I should have a little white picket fence to put along my property. I thought that was kind of cheesy to tell you the truth now. But back then, you could have told me anything and I would have followed your suggestions. You were my leader, giving me vision for a safe, secure and predictable lifestyle.
ADVERTISMENT Things have changed though, and this is the part that might be hardest for you to hear because, well I met someone else. Yes, there’s someone else. See, I thought for the longest time that you were my life’s hope, but I guess I was wrong. He’s helping me see that. Try not to be jealous, I just have to move on. Move on with Him. I know, I’m crazy to talk like this, but you should hear some of the things he says! You are so different from him, but I think you would really like him if you would just get to know him. Well, then again maybe not. For instance, remember how you kept telling me that I’d be happier when I left my job at the burger joint where a lot of my friends were to make more money at the pickle factory behind the mall? That’s all you ever seemed to talk about, how important it was for me to make more money. Well, he doesn’t care too much about money. In fact, he explained once how I can’t love money and love him at the same time. He said it’s either one or the other. You were all about your Gucci Watches and luxury sedans and I couldn’t understand how you could persuade people that they should drop a thousand dollars so they could have color coordinated pillows throughout their home, when there are billions of starving people in this world, not to mention the homeless and hungry squeegee kids just down the street. And him? He’s all about loving living people, not dead presidents, so he hangs out with squeegee kids and prostitutes and the lonely men who frequent their corners.Then there’s the time I found out in order to get to know you better I had to have a college degree. You said you wanted me to be qualified but then I saw how you treated others with less respect and dignity simply because they didn’t have abbreviated titles after their name. He’s not like that at all. In fact, he doesn’t impose any educational standards on anyone in order for them to get to know him. He is a person who doesn’t love or accept you more based on what you can produce or achieve. I hear him tell me over and over that who I am becoming is more important than what I am achieving. I’m still getting used to that, but I think I like it better his way. And how could I forget? You put me through a proverbial hell with all the fears you arose in me when you kept suggesting that my life would not be complete unless I was married. Of course it’s still a longing of mine, and even with him I have my days where it feels like I’m going to die unless I know I’ll have a significant other one day to come. Yet, he is gently showing me that the true reality is that he is the One Thing needed. For example, I went for a walk with him the other day, late at night, and after I vented to him about my frustrations with myself for believing this lie of yours, he told me how completely normal it was for me to desire to be married; but also how I will destroy myself if I make that natural desire into some sort of false god in my life. He doesn’t use fear to put people through hell like you do. It’s kind of funny, because he claims to do the exact opposite. People say they commonly hear him telling others not to be afraid.I know what you’re probably thinking right now as you read this. That it’s not going to work out between me and my new friend. That my nature is too disposed to seeking what is safe and comfortable to trust someone who would say and do such ‘outrageous’ things. And yes, what he says and who he is, is quite outrageous compared to the worldview you had me believing and subsequently, the life you had me living. But he keeps reminding me that since we have gotten together that I’m a different person than I was before, the kind of person that finds true life in pursuing him instead of a societies’ status quo. So, American Dream, I must wake up, or I mean break-up. Either way, I’m leaving you. My soul has lived in your cave for too long, and it is time for me to start walking towards the Light.

Sincerely,

Aaron Pluim

It's Emerging

Check out this cool article about emerging churches in Indianapolis! Cool to see creative people all working towards one goal.

http://www.indy.com/posts/5115

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Spectating over Coffee

So as I sit in Starbucks, I realize that I have become part of this little culture I love to listen to and watch in downtown Indianapolis. I walk in and am on the phone with a friend, so I just sit at the table I always sit at. A girl that works at this particular location waves to me and points at this cup she slides across the counter. She says it’s a new drink she is making and wants me to try it. I didn’t ask for it, she just fixed me something out of her own free will. It’s pretty cool, I just look outside and watch the snow fall and realize I am part of this culture. Being part of this culture I also realize that I am very different and am in this city for another purpose rather than just molding to it. I moved here to help start a church, be a part of the church, see people come to know Jesus.
So what separates this over caffeinated, same table sitting, intellectual thinking culture form that of which I claim to be part of? We are all people made in the image of God. We are all very messed up versions of this original creation and have muddied ourselves up with all kind of things that have brought us to a point where we don’t even think about being created in His image. What’s so different, me and her, the coffee cup and counter top may separate us but there is also something else, something I know of but cannot quite put into words. It is this relationship between God and man that I am a part of and because of that I know that that relationship is what separates us. Why then is it so hard to talk to her about Him? Why is it that I can sit silently at a table in a coffee shop that is what many people call home on a busy street in downtown Indianapolis and just listen and watch and never talk? Talking is not always necessary but why is it I tend to just notice the differences and not act upon them. People are dying and you can see it in the books they read, groups they claim to be a part of, crowds they run in, men they let abuse them, you can see it all at your local coffee shop. The question is am I, are you willing to stop being a spectator and more of a participator?

Monday, February 11, 2008

(Sick) Optical Illusion

What do you see when you look at that picture. Many people around the world see a murder or terrorist. Many people see this picture and dream about his death and look forward to his execution. Too many people see someone they hate. Who do you see?

Not sure, let me tell you who this man is, I read about it in an news story from today on Fox News… His name is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed…Let me give you one quote that will shape your opinion quickly of him, this is what he said in a courtroom last March (2006), “I was responsible for the 9/11 operation from A to Z," Mohammed said in a statement read during the session, according to hearing transcripts later released by the Pentagon. Anything change yet? How do you feel now?

My immediate emotional response to seeing his picture, seeing the picture of the man who is claiming responsibility for the event that changed America forever, seeing the picture of a man who is responsible for taking thousands of innocent lives, seeing the picture of a man who boast in his accomplishment that he feels was his definitive religious act of obedience, was not what I expected it to be. Obviously my stomach turned in knots because it is always weird to see the face so many Americans feel victim too, but my heart sank deep in my chest, and my eyes teared up, I felt so sorry for this man, in this brief moment I felt like I could see Him with Jesus’ eyes. I’m sure I say or feel something totally selfish later because, well, that is the way we are, humanity is just messed up with sin, but in that one moment I felt like I was feeling what God felt. I felt pain for Him. He doesn’t know Christ. He thinks he is serving God, but serves a religion where he must prove himself over and over again until he finally has to give his life and take others along the way, he is hated, he is an outcast or our society and will go down in the books as something instead of someone. The something he will be is the master mind behind 09/11 instead of a someone created in God’s image. I’m kind of taken back right now. I actually don’t hate him, I feel a deep sorrow for him and his family because he is far from God and doesn’t even know and now, more so than ever, he will be surrounded by more hate than love and love is what he needs. Love your enemy has never echoed in my heart so loud before, it has never been this real.

So take a minute and look again, what do you see?

This is some kind of sick optical illusion isn’t it, it appears to be a scum bag terrorist who kills innocent people and believes in a outrageous religion, but it is really a man created in God’s image far removed in need of Him.

Seperation...huh?

I’m an evangelist, I’m a missionary, I’m a preacher, I’m a deacon, I’m a lay person, I’m just a visitor… Why the separation? Just because you have a spiritual gift doesn’t mean you are only responsible for that one.

So a friend that I had lunch with tells me he is at this pastor/church planters’ conference a few days ago. They were split up into groups and the two he was with were from a church that owned several acres of land, but had a very small run down building. Because they have this land they allow the local YMCA to use it for sporting events, which occur 5 days a week. So he listens to these two pastors who are passionate about evangelism just go on and on about how they can become evangelist, how they can more people to hear the good news, etc. There is this frustration of seeing someone who is so intent on seeing something that they miss what is right in front of them. My friend begins to tell them how they can just start serving water to the people who play there each week or providing towel or something. So the one guy says, “Well, our main focus is evangelism…” I laugh as I write this. Laugh out of humor, frustration, and a deep feeling of, “Oh no!” You see, they think that being an evangelist focused church means that serving people water is in no way what they want to do, evangelism… How sad, because they have this idea evangelism is an event or task of telling an avid listener about Jesus specifically. My friend, who is much kinder than me and more likely to think about what he says before he says it, does exactly that, thinks before he speaks, and then tells them that serving the thousands of people on their church property each week is a form of evangelism. So if you’re an evangelist you are not a servant?

What I see in thoughts like this is the separation or categorizing of the Christian life into neat little boxes. I think we’ve over complicated this whole thing, we’ve created too much separation in this life we were called to live. Jesus gave the disciples one mission before He ascended into Heaven.
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20, NIV)."
“The Great Commission” only calls us to make disciples of all nations, baptize them into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything He commanded them. The way this looks should and could look different for a lot of people. God has placed us in all very different communities, with different past experiences, and different personalities. He is calling us to live out the great commission within our own context. So we are all called to be evangelist, missionaries, involved in ministry, etc. These are all just terms we have unfortunately accepted and used as a separation of a lifestyle into many different tasks. Paul tackles this issue in 1 Corinthians, take a look at chapter 12. The issue is not what your gift is or what you are called to, it is knowing that it is only given or you are only called for one common good, the furthering of His kingdom, the redemption He wants to bring about through us with the Spirit. Interesting to see modern day examples of specific problems going on in an ancient Middle East community of people following Jesus. Examine yourself, do you separate yourself into something and neglect every thing else? May you understand that we are all given gifts and have callings for the common good. May you use whatever it is God has given you or whatever it is God has called you to and do it with excellence and understand this gives you no warrant to overlook other things. Let us be a body, let us move, let us work together, the world needs Him, we are His body, may we all be willing to work together towards this common goal, this common good.

The Brevity of Life

You ever been so engaged with something at work that the day seems to fly by? Life seems so fast doesn’t it? I’ve been out of high school for 6 years! I still remember my first day of high school like it was yesterday. My little sister is 19, in college, and talking about marriage, kids, and other adult issues, I’ve been in Indianapolis for 2 years almost… These events seem to be a big surprise because they all just snuck up on me. Everything happened so fast and now I find myself looking back in amazement and ask myself, “where did the time go?” I think this is the question we ask ourselves often, but never resolve do we?
I keep up with national/international and local news daily. Reading the headlines and then the stories drive me wild, they hurt, they bring about real emotions.



After storming the meeting and killing five people Thursday night, Charles Lee "Cookie" Thornton was fatally shot by law enforcers. "You don't really think it's going to hit you until you realize it's on top of you, then it's too late," he said. "You think in a small town, a small Christian school, you send your children there to kind of protect them from things like this," Sammons said. "But you just never know when or where things are going to happen." The sudden blast that rattled the city late Thursday engulfed the refinery in flames, and shook even those trained to face disaster with stoic resolve. Key words or phrases here would be storming the meeting…, then it’s too late…, you never know when…, the sudden blast… Tim flies, life moves quickly, we are but a vapor in the air. Dragon flies on average only live for a day max. Your typical fly can only live for a couple hours. You can probably expect that because every time one enters the room everyone has their shoes off swinging away. Living in Florida for 22 years of my life I know I have been the source of many mosquitoes’ deaths and a reason why they only live a couple hours. So as I read these news stories about these sudden catastrophes and think about how precious life is I also realize it is brief. I am no genius either, this is no new revelation, James had this idea down packed. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes (James 4:14, NIV). This brevity of life often times catches us not ready because we do not think about it as brief at all. Life being brief leads me to want to do things I normally wouldn’t do. This movie Bucket List is doing well in the box offices because we all have this fascination with the idea that if we were told there is a certain amount of time we had left to live (obviously brief in this movie) what would we do. We would live like we had no time. Isn’t this how we should live anyways? James continues to talk about there not being any guarantees for tomorrow. With this in mind, live like today is your last. Love, forgive, give, be kind, extend grace, show compassion, know God… So may you live like you are a dragon fly with only a day to expect, for we can expect nothing and see everything as a gift, use this day to do something great, to know God, to love others.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Really?

I stand in the back of a Sunday morning service and think to myself, “Is this it, really?” I question myself and what I do all the time, “Is this it, really?” I question this whole Christian thing, not because I’m sacrilegious or blasphemous, but because sometimes beneath the surface of all we do I long for something more. What is this something though? I am not afraid to admit my doubts, fears, or thoughts, so I will be the first to tell you, I am not fully sold on this church thing, in its current state… I think we need some more examination, I think there is something deeper we are missing.

So then, what is it that is missing? There is this ambiguous, mysterious, anonymity that we always feel, but cannot explain. I think doing is good, the church is supposed to do. I am convinced that doing is secondary to what is that missing factor, the thing we miss, that thing we feel the void of deep in our bones. It is experiencing God. The experience is what we are all longing for. The reason so many college students jump from church to church (outside of spiritual immaturity) is because they are on this desperate journey trying to experience God. I am not in any way condoning basing your walk with God on emotions and whimsical feelings.

The bible teaches that there are certain moments when you pray that you don’t know how to express what you are feeling or going through so the Spirit searches you and intercedes for you. This idea is all too real for me. There have been many nights I have just sat in front of my bible or been listening to a good worship cd and sat with my eyes closed, tears rolling down my cheek, in silence. Not because I was so moved by what I read or what I heard, but because I wanted so bad to express what I felt deep beyond my religious practices. I was missing this experience with God and have been recently looking for this experience again. I think that we are all looking for a way in which we can feel like God is real, beyond reading a book or listening to pastor so and so, but a real feeling that God is surrounding you and that what you are doing matters. So her I am speaking for myself and many in my generation that are sickened by the religious aspect of this Christian thing. The messages are ok, the music can be good, the community service projects can be going, but without a person having an experience with God an ongoing relationship where they can know that at the core of what they are doing is this experience with the Holy God, the Creator of everything, our risen Savior, Jesus Christ. Without an experience with God, a face to face, a real feeling of knowing Him, we just do don’t we. We busy our days up with doing instead of being.

It is in these moments of experience, this life journey of experiences with God that we come to know Him more and by knowing Him more can experience Him all the more. God wants us to be, like Him, be the embodiment if all He is, be kind, be forgiving, be loving, be servants, be good husbands, be worshippers, be followers, be all kind of things before we do anything. There is a song by David Crowder called Do Not Move. It is a powerful song about just being in front of God and not moving. This is an experience. Being before God, knowing Him, then we will move. Moving and doing before we experience, before we just simply are leaves us with this gaping hole and feeling of “is this it, really?” So may you be still, be in His presence, know Him, get back to the core of what you need, to experience and abide (live) in God and as a result do and do well. How can you experience Him more daily, how can you help other experience Him?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Storytellers & Connectors

I had lunch with a good friend of mine today. We got together to talk about this meeting we are trying to do every month or so inspire and help create new leaders within the city, since we both are naturally leaders anyways. We always have good conversations and I always walk away from our little meetings however short or long they are inspired and thinking about new things. He always tells me if he has read a good book he thinks I should read or that I may like. So he tells me as we are walking out about this book about the blogging church and says that this one quote has really got a hold of him and won’t let go. He said this was the quote, “this generation belongs to the storytellers and connectors…” hmm… that’s a good stinkin’ quote!

What a simple thought, but one that penetrates to the heart of someone who is trying to reach this generation. I mean it makes sense within the church… Look at how evangelism has changed. Instead of tracks and bull horns we are into coffee shops and creating conversations. This is based upon this idea that our generation belongs to storytellers! It is easier for me to just tell someone how Jesus affected my life and the changes that have come with it, than try to remember key scriptures and exactly what to say. Not only is it easier it is more natural. Maybe the problem here is that our churches preach too much and don’t tell enough stories. I’d like to know that whatever it is Pastor Bill is talking about has already ripped him apart and hear his stories about how this scripture or biblical principle has affected him. We are all dying to create relationships. You can see it in the coffee shops, I’ve had several occasions where I’d just be having a conversation and someone would lean over a make a comment because they over heard a story or something. People listen, what are we saying? Is out message relevant? It seems to me that a relevant message should be presented as a story then.

Connectors? Like connect the dot? So what does that look like in our society? Facebook, myspace, personal websites, these are all ways out generation is crying out to be connected. We want to keep in touch with people, we want to know people. The reason why our churches are dying and so many close their doors each year is because we are failing to be connectors. Introduce people to other people, make your friends their friends.

Interesting how blogging can create this storyteller and connector that this generation needs. If this is so shouldn’t more churches who actually have websites be blogging?