Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Community Meeting at Blaine City Hall

I was very pleased that a large number of people attended the community meeting that Chain of Lakes held last night at Blaine City Hall. The purpose of the gathering was to share information about our new church called Chain of Lakes, to share information about how we could see using in the future a piece of property which the Presbytery on our behalf has signed a conditional purchase agreement, and to answer questions. We mailed 1,200 letters about the meeting and were very happy about the large number of people that attended who live near the property.

I was also proud of the people from Chain of Lakes Church and the Property Purchase Task Force who helped organize and participated in the gathering.

We at Chain of Lakes Church want to be terrific neighbors to everyone living near this property and to everyone who lives in the Lakes and adjacent developments. Two of the Core Values of our new congregation are Hospitality and Acceptance. We want people living near this property to experience these Core Values as we live out our ministry and take care of the property.

Some of the questions that we received last night had to do with additional traffic that our new congregation could generate. This is a very understandable question and concern. We commissioned and paid for a traffic study to see if we would be hurting the neighborhood in terms of high traffic. Thankfully the study found that the church would generate less traffic compared to if this property was built out with residences. The only time the traffic would be more would be Sunday morning and even this additional traffic would not be significantly higher.

Any person who would like to a copy of this traffic study can call our office at 763-208-8049 or E-mail me personally at

My family lives in Blaine, and we live near this property. I frequently run by the property. I have a personal interest in how it is developed.

Last night was a first start of a new relationship with many people. I look forward to a long and healthy relationship. Thanks to everyone who came to this community meeting.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Hunger Games--What's a father to do?

Our daughter, Hannah leaped out of bed at 6:30 this morning much earlier than normal. “I can’t sleep because I’m so excited about the Hunger Games,” she wrote on her Facebook page.

We bought tickets weeks ago and will be sitting in a packed theatre tonight with many teenage and pre-teen girls.

Hannah is almost done reading the trilogy written by Susan Collins. When she read the first book I was impressed by her excitement, so I decided to give the book a whirl. Shortly into the book I started my first protest. “The book is about kids killing kids. Why isn't anyone acknowleding this?” I shared my critique with my neighbor who is a school librarian. “The kids love the book and are reading,” he rightfully said. I waited for the conservative religious community to take up their picket signs. “If this was a book about kids having sex with kids the outrage would be overwhelming,” I righteously told my sister.

The picket signs haven’t emerged, and now I’m caught up in the excitement. However as a father I'm torn about what to do. Would you take your pre-teen daughter to a movie that is about kids killing kids?

The storyline that has emerged about the Hunger Games is not about violence or kids killing kids; instead it’s about a young woman who used her intelligence to outsmart an evil empire and ultimately survive. The marketers of the movie were assiduously careful about avoiding any reference in their publicity about kids killing kids. According to reviews the violence in the movie is tame. It has to be—any marketer isn’t going to offend a young girl so she won’t attend the movie.

Hannah dressed up as Katniss this morning and wore a mockingjay pin on her black shirt. She wanted me to take her picture and post it on my Facebook page. As I tried to get the picture right I asked her if she would be like Katniss and sleep in the woods tonight. She rolled her eyes and impatiently told me to just take the above picture.

Religious people have always had to decide how to relate to culture. Should we refuse to let our kids attend movies where kids kill kids? Should we create an insular environment where such violence never enters their brains? Should we try to have a sit-down and convince them that the movie isn’t healthy? Should we talk to them about the real storyline of the movie? Or should we just put on a mockingjay pin, watch the movie, and enjoy the popcorn?

The answers to these questions aren’t easy, and most of us don’t have the time to develop a thoughtful response.

The bottom-line is we live and make choices in an imperfect world. I would much rather have Hannah dressed as Rosa Parks and singing “We Shall overcome” as her classmates are swept away and excited about a movie describing the Montgomery bus boycott. Just as I wish that children hadn’t died from starvation last night in Africa and children didn’t experience the consequences of devastating divorces.

Until this vision of the Kingdom happens we live with all the complexities of whether to take our kids to the Hunger Games.

Given my choices, I’ll be sitting next to Hannah and her mom and many other young girls in the theatre tonight hoping the popcorn is properly buttered. Censorship doesn’t work. Ultimately we have to equip our kids to deal with the world.

I still might be able to find two minutes after the movie to have a serious conversation with Hannah about the content. As she most likely rolls her eyes during the conversation Hannah will probably still be wearing her mockingjay pin. Just as I’m still waiting impatiently for a movie about Rosa Parks.

Another day in this imperfect world.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Off to Florida

I'm off to Florida for a week to enjoy some time with my beautiful red heads. Back to blogging the week of March 18th!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The last part of the Purpose Statement at Chain of Lakes says that our community of disciples wants to make an impact on the world. A synonym for “impact” is the word, “bless.” God wants us as a community and as individuals to bless others.

The idea of blessing is an Old Testament theme. Some form of the word bless occurs over three hundred times in the Old Testament while occurring just a little over a hundred times in the New Testament. In the Old Testament the word occurs in 26 of the 39 books.

To bless someone means that we share power and life with that person. A blessing can be given to a person and it can be given to a material object—like a cup or a piece of land . A blessing can be given by God and it can be given by a person to another person. Something mysterious happens in a blessing. In a blessing some sort of energy flows out of the person giving the blessing to the person being blessed.

In a recent sermon I challenged everyone to think of blessing in three ways.
1. Enter into blessing mode. Look for ways to bless others. A blessing mode is when we get out of ourselves and look for opportunity to bless others. When we are in blessing mode life suddenly is not about me or my problems—it’s about helping others. This is a significant and wonderful orientation switch. When we are in blessing mode we focus on helping and don’t focus on our own problems

2. Be conscious of blessing someone this week. What would happen if at the start of each week—perhaps in worship—we made the conscious decision to bless another person in a specific way. Think about the impact our congregation could make if at the start of each week many of the adults at Chain of Lakes pledged to bless someone.

3. Use the language of blessing. A long time ago I started saying the words, “God Bless you” when I left people. Even as a pastor it took me a little while to get comfortable and to have the courage to use that language. Over time I got used to it. Those of you who spend time with me just know that I frequently say God bless when I leave you.

For blessing others is like a mission statement. I so want to see people experience God’s blessings. I want people to experience the love and grace and presence and majesty of God in their life. If I can be helpful by saying God Bless you—it’s really like a prayer for you—then I feel like I’m following what God wants.

What’s interesting is when I started using that language of blessing, I got some pushback from of people who thought I was being overly pious. I was trying to share how pious I am by saying God bless you. When I say the words, “God bless you” I’m not claiming to be pious. To say “God bless you” it’s not about me. What I am doing is authentically sharing a desire for the person. I want to see people blessed.

What would happen if you said, “God bless you” when you left people. Try it for a week. Over time you would get some pushback. One of your friends might come up to you and say, don’t be so churchy and pious. And you could say back—it’s not churchy or pious to want to see people blessed.

Perhaps a movement of blessing could be started. What’s stopping you from participating in this movement right now?