National Youth Gathering 2010: New Orleans LA

It started with fundraisers.. and more fundraisers.. those ended with a celebratory night at the movies seeing Toy Story 3 after our last talent show. Having raised all of the monies necessary to go to National Youth Gathering being held in New Orleans, all our kids could do was wait.

July 16th could not come quickly enough and so the kids met up at church on the 15th for a lock in.

5:00 am comes awefully early but they were on the road.

13 hours later they had arrived along with pretty much everyone else.

25,000 youth and adults together in the New Orleans Super Dome

It was an amazing week of mass events, community service, Bible Studies, Speakers, Skits, Concerts, and sight seeing.

The Jesus Painter
Gregory Manning

 Even the Skit Guys came out to play with our youth.

The Skit Guys

 
There is more to be sure, but for now… I’ll leave you with this face.  D-man came back exhausted and too wired to sleep. I can’t describe it other than to say he just “glowed.”

Photo Credits: Sonja Schneider and Melinda Miller.

Post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart, July 30,2010. All rights reserved.

Finding my Humor again:Liturgical Muppets Oh My!

I’m nine weeks out from my surgery and I’ve discovered that while I handled my female issues with some levity and humor, that humor did not carry over to my coverage of the Synodical Convention or the arguments about our National Youth Gathering. I need to change focus and fortunately for me, a friend provided a wonderful opportunity to laugh.

My friend posted on facebook that “I believe liturgical puppets are a sign of the apocalypse.” At first I thought he was talking about our more conservative brethren, (stuffing is stuffing you know) but apparently not. He was actually  referring to churches employing walking puppets as part of their liturgical dance procession.

The whole confusing dichotomy of liturgical dancing aside, I really thought that was funny. Think about it. You are sitting in church – and as part of the opening processional you have dancers, streamers, and walking puppets made up to look like either really large people or – if you are celebrating creation that day – maybe a 12 point buck or something.

I live in the south. We’re a little on the sunburned side when it comes to the backs of our necks, and my church is full of card-carrying NRA members who hunt.

I am fairly certain that if a 12 point buck (paper mache or otherwise) came dancing down our aisles, it would be shot without hesitation. No offense to those of you who employ such creativity in your church, but I really don’t think it would work down here.

And since you know I’m not always right, I cannot shake the image of a Jim Henson Liturgy.

Can you imagine?

You’d have Big Bird as the cantor

Miss Piggy Leading the choir

Oscar the Grouch delivering the sermon

and Cookie Monster serving communion.

No church service would be complete without those two cranky old men in the balcony so add them to.

What images does this new practice bring to your mind? Or Do you use liturgical puppets in your processional? I’d love to hear from you. What purpose do they serve?

This post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart. All rights reserved. Please keep comments polite and on topic. I reserve the right to delete any comments off topic or just down right snarky.

How will you be remembered?

A great man of God died this year and my last living memory of him is the day he called me a whore. People closest to him tell me that he loved me a great deal, but I wouldn’t know. He had too much pride to apologize, and I had too much pride to let him see me cry. The sin of pride kept us from being reconciled. My heart hurts, not because of the conversations we did have, but because of the ones we didn’t.

My college room-mate died this summer. My last living memory of her was a fight we had 20 years ago this August. I don’t even remember what the fight was about, only that she passed without my ever being able to tell her how sorry I was and how much I loved her. I have to live with that.

I’ve listened to many pastors speak about balancing law and gospel because they don’t want the last living words someone hears about God to be words of condemnation. They want people to also know about his love and his grace. Relationships are no different. We never know what our last words to someone are going to be.

The last words I use when one of my family is walking out the door, or I’m on the phone are always “I love you.” because I just don’t know. Life doesn’t come with a guarantee for another chance.

If you knew that the very words you are speaking this moment were the last words someone ever heard you say, what words would you use?

In the Name of Love: U2 and Me

U2 Rocks, that’s all I can say. 

There is very little that frustrates and hurts my heart more than piety  sorry wrong word, I mean Piosity. In others of course, never myself. (She says very much tongue in cheek)  And yet, I’m called not to rebuke or lower myself to match it, I’m called to love — It’s really hard to remember that some days and so I am reminded that I too am a sinner saved by grace and I can allow myself to be met by God exactly where I am. Humbled. Alone. Hurting for myself and for those the pious wound. Prideful and being arrogant about my own (seeming) lack of piety which is a sin as well. Ah yes, pride. Will it ever be removed? will I ever stop feeling the need to correct those who look for perfection in a fallen world when truthfully that need really stems from my own heart and sinful pride? Because when I’m there? I believe I’m a better Christian than the pious. Will it ever end, this cycle of spiritual death and sword fighting?

Only when Jesus returns. Until then, I stumble, I repent, arise, and try again tomorrow.

1 Corinthians 13

Love

 1If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.

 4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

 13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love

Thoughts and Conversations

The best of conversations begin when we remember we are speaking to human beings. That’s not always easy to do, and you my friends know that. I’ve been known to spin a time or two and I’ve stopped short of ripping out a person’s jugular too frequently for my own comfort. Stuffing my feelings doesn’t work either. Silence can be interpreted as approval. My Your Church Sucks post has been receiving a lot of hits. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I hope it at least gives us a chance to step back and think about what we say, why we say it and who we’re impacting when we say it.

Contrary to popular belief, broad strokes and generalizations do actually hurt people. We are communal and relational in nature. It’s how God created us. We relate to our groups. We are one with our groups. Trash my school, my company, my family, my church and you are trashing me.

I’m not looking to solve that here — we all have choices whether or not to respond, or how we respond. We have the choice whether or not to take offense and while I do at times take offense like it’s free candy, I can also choose to release it and move on.

This weekend I heard several great quotes that fit so snuggly that I think God is trying to tell me something.

  1. If you are not part of the problem then you are not part of the solution. (not talking social conscience here, I’m referring to interfering with other people’s lives and issues. Like don’t get in the middle of a cat fight, that sort of thing.)
  2. Is this really your business? Not everything on this planet is my business. I know, whoda thunk, hunh?
  3. Don’t wrestle with pigs, you’ll get dirty and they like it. via Micheal Hyatt. Very timely post.
  4. You can’t  teach a pig how to sing; it’ll just make them mad and frustrate you. from my friend Randy.

What sayings do you have that remind you to watch out when getting sucked into a mess we might not need to be in?

Fireworks in the Rain.

My youngest is at the National Youth Gathering in New Orleans. My oldest is still at home so he, my husband, and myself braved the 113 heat index and headed out to the ball park on Friday night. Storms started looming overhead while a northern cool front came in to meet the heat. Both fronts collided directly over the field leaving a bright gaping hole in the center of the sky. I was a little worried at first, afterall we do live in tornado alley.

There weren’t any tornados, just a glorious rain shower. It felt wonderful to be soaked by rain instead of by sweat. They called the game for a short while until the storm passed and we were able to return to our seats. The rain stayed away just long enough to finish the innings. And then almost as if on que the rain started at the same time the Friday Night Fireworks began.  Everyone in our section ran for cover expect for the three of us.

I have to say watching fireworks in the rain is about the most fun I’ve had all summer.

ID Ten T Error (IDIOT error)and yahoo friend finder

Hi there — if you landed here because you received a facebook friend invitation from me but don’t know who I am and googled me to find out. I’m so sorry — I used Yahoo Friend Finder this week — and I accidentally hit the accept button before I could filter out appropriate names. Friend finder grabbed my entire address book and has been sending friend requests willy nilly all week. 

Thank you for stopping by and I promise not to play with anymore internet toys before breakfast.

Modern Evangelism: Your Church Sucks, Come to ours instead

I am a sword carrying idiot. I’ve been known to wrecklessly wield my good intentions at people and not only cut their ears off, but their heads as well.  This blog post is as much about me as it is THEM.

 

Remember when there used to be ethics in advertising? There was a day when companies would spend their ad dollars on themselves without ever once mentioning the competition. I miss those days. I could be wrong, but I think Burger King was the first nationally known company to advertise against someone else. That someone else being McDonalds.  It was only a matter of time before everyone followed suit and today some companies go so far trashing the competition that the only name I remember from the commercial is the other brand. Yeah that’s effective.

Politicians do the same thing. They spend their advertising budget slandering their opponent without ever saying what they themselves stand for.

What saddens me is churches and some pastors are following the same path. Not just in my LCMS world either. Follow Twitter for a while and you’ll see what I mean – pastor’s world-wide trashing other pastors and churches for being different.

You’re going to hell and I’m not and let me tell you why. – ooh love me some piety. With an opening like that, I don’t even want to be in the same room as you, much less be stuck with you for eternity.

The emergent church this.

The liturgical church that.

This conference is horrible and ours is much Godlier – wanna know why? No not anymore, I send my kids to that and you just accused me of being ungodly for doing so. Besides – the horse you’re riding on is so high, I can’t hear all the way down here in the gutter you act like I live in.

Marketing 101 says “Don’t waste precious resources (dollars and time) talking about someone else’s brand. Talk about your own.

Every worthwhile communication skills book I’ve ever read tells me not to start with you statements. You statements are confrontational and achieve nothing more than putting the other person in a defensive position. People don’t hear anything past a slam; it’s ineffective and childish. You’ve just told me I’m an idiot, bad parent, ungodly, whatever for supporting X and you want me to listen to you? Fat chance bub.

Insulting me – which is what happens with you statements, doesn’t make you look better in my eyes, it makes you look like, well… a donkey.

Imagine if we spoke to our spouses or kids like that? You never take out the trash. You’re lazy why can’t you keep the house looking the way I like it? You never listen to me. You… you… you…

Problem is, the real issue is rarely about you and really about me — I have a need that is going unmet and I while I may not be intentionally blaming you for it, I’m going to defend it even if it means cutting your head off. You statements breed rebellion or worse – little deaths of esteem, trust, respect and maybe even the relationship.

The only thing that can heal that is the supernatural touch of Christ.

Remember Peter and the night in the garden? He cut off the ear of a Roman soldier sent to take Christ to Pilate.

John 18: 1When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it.

 2Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.

 4Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”

 5″Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.

   “I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

 7Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”
      And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

 8″I told you that I am he,” Jesus answered. “If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”[a]

 10Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)

 11Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

The Gospel of Luke Chapter 22 states this as well: 

47While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

 49When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” 50And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.

 51But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

Poor Peter – just hours before this little skirmish he told Jesus he was ready to follow him to prison and even death. But Jesus knew better. Peter was passionate to be sure and his passion was actually a stumbling block for the progression of the church and the Gospel. Peter wound up being humbled through incredible failure – he denied knowing Jesus three times.

I’m a former Shaolin Swordsman. I know how heavy swords are and how to properly wield them. The laws of physical science also prove that Peter wasn’t going for the guard’s ear. He was wielding that sword perpendicular to the ground and going for his head. Fortunately the soldier ducked.

How does that apply to today’s world? Well meaning (I hope) and passionate people – people like you and like me – are wielding verbal swords at each other – intending I believe to defend Christ – only we mess it up and cut each other’s ears and heads off with you statements and arrogant piety, and Christ has to intervene and tell us to stop.

My passion for truth can be a stumbling block for many – and it takes the hand of Christ to heal the ears I’ve cut off in my life.

My actions in my life have also denied Christ a time or two. My sword has probably turned more people off than on when it comes to the Christian faith.

I “get” Peter. I understand his love, his wellmeaningness and his passion. I used to carry his sword with me and wielded it any chance I got, confusing those who disagreed with me, with the enemy. Maybe that is why I kinda like some of these younger missionaries I see passionately supporting their stand. They are in the Gethsemane season of life – praying lest they fall into temptation – defending Jesus with all their soul and might – thinking they know what lies ahead, but they really don’t. Not yet. They are living on the dark side of the resurrection if you will. And what I mean by that, is they see the Law – Jesus having to suffer and die for our sins – and they have not lived long enough yet to see the Gospel – The Ressurected Christ, the grace and mercy bestowed upon our lives. They’re not there yet.

They too will be humbled and they too will be restored – just like Peter and the rest of us sword carrying idiots – and soon enough they will learn how to fish again.

Who is the swordsman in your life? Is it you? Or is it someone else. How do you deal with swords that come your way?

This blog post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart. All rights reserved. July 16, 2010

Letting Go and Trusting God

People ask me about Letting Go a lot. I’m not sure why I get asked, but I did write a short  piece on it a while back and that does prompt questions. (http://deanaohara.com/2009/07/11/letting-go-let-go-and-let-god/)  forgive me for the lack of appropriate hotlinking, wordpress seems to be fritzing on me tonight.

I will share that that one piece gets more hits than all of my other stories combined. I guess letting go is a big topic for people today. What I know today will change tomorrow. Life has a way of doing that. Letting go means a lot of thing – to me the phrase Let Go and Let God is reflected beautifully not only in Proverbs 3,5-6 but also in the serenity prayer — posted here in it’s entirety. My favorite line? “Taking as He did, this sinful workd as it is and not as I would have it; TRUSTING that he will make all things right if I surrender to his will.”

Allison Bottke (God Allows U-Turns and Setting Boundaries at http://www.allisonbottke.com/ ) wrote this in her blog today ” And I thank God for the ever-increasing knowledge that if we obey God’s calling, He will provide the needed strength.”

There is more truth in that statement than there are hairs on my head – and if you know me you know that I have hair bigger than the state of Texas so that is saying a lot.

 

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will direct your paths
Proverbs 3, 5-6