Wednesday, August 20, 2008

from blog august 19 08

Every week Christa and I try to take a day off. Yesterday was my day off and I found myself frustrated, discouraged and not wanting to go back to my normal life -- wanting to escape to some place where I didn't have all the responsibilities I have. I remember feeling like that on school days. I don't usually feel that way now -- I really like my life and am thankful for most of what I spend my time doing.

I've been trying to figure out why I often feel that way when I slow down and quit doing things. I don't have many answers, just a few clues and helpful activities:

I still dream of singing with a killer band on a big stage. The times I've done this or something like it have been some of the most amazing times in my life.
Being alone is hard for me for some reason and some of it needs to change.
I get fits of insecurity where I wonder if I have anything of value to offer as a songwriter. (Resistance is real and ongoing).

Helpful activities:
Punching the punching bag hard for a while
Listening to Satellite (POD), Bringing it all Back Home (Dylan), something by Beck and "Salvation" by the Cranberries at high volume.

Feel free to substitute other exhausting activities and your own music selection...


Trusting God in the Here and Now

How do these three ideas relate to the Dandelion Seed Company here in August 2008?

1. The DSC is changing. Part of our DNA has always been creativity, but in this new season God is calling us to live creatively in new ways and in new areas of life. We are called to be courageously planting ideas, relationships and projects, assuming that many of them will not succeed. We really need some successes and God wants to give them to us. They will only happen if we individually and corporately sow ourselves into the Kingdom with a 25% mindset. In the next year I believe there will be projects (artistic, entrepreneurial, and relational) that will sprout up. This applies within our friendships, marriages and families. We can generously sow into each other with prayers, encouragement, service, and listening. A few of these "sowings" will be wild successes. Many of them will be learning experiences. If we expect otherwise we'll get discouraged and quit sowing (trying dreams, encouraging people, praying, serving, listening).

In the parable 75% of the seeds don't make it. Can we deal with that? Are we willing to go ahead and try? Can we let the rest of the DSC people in on our attempts? Part of why God called us together was to challenge each other to plant the seeds God has given us to plant. We're also called to celebrate both our learnings and successes together and model a different way of living -- based on trust and courage and growth and God's generosity that far exceeds our ability to get things right or keep them together. The NING and peoples' blogs are a few practical ways we can let each other in on our journeys of sowing generously and living out the 25% principle of the Kingdom.

2. The DSC is changing. Part of what DSC is about is relationships between people who are following Jesus. That is kind of what "church" is, at it's core, although we've got all sorts of ideas of what church is and how it looks or should look. Church is changing. What it looks like to follow Jesus is really up in the air for more and more people. We've got to do trust transfers individually and corporately. God has met us in the past. How that's looked has changed many times through history. Both those who've gone before us and we ourselves have grown and been changed in numerous ways. We need to transfer trust to God for the here and now -- that God will meet us, help us grow and change in ways that fit who we are, who we're becoming, and the need around us for Jesus that can't be filled by old ways of being religious. Jesus talks about "new wine" filling new wineskins. We can ask God to bring himself to us in ways that we desperately need (even though we might not even know what those new ways are).

3. The DSC is changing. (Do I sense a pattern here?) In some ways we're in a DMZ. We've been one thing (a loosely connected group of mostly artists meeting together once a year for a conference) and we're becoming something else (it's not clear yet what that is but it includes art stuff, some "churches" (although what they are called and what they look like may make them unrecognizable as churches to most people) as well as the inclusion of people who are not necessarily artists -- including entrepreneurs, administrative people, hackers, etc). We're also growing larger and smaller at the same time as the new emphasis of gathering locally in smaller groups has emerged. And the online thing we can't even begin to know what it means. All that being said, we're losing some things. We've got some things to mourn. For example, I'm sad that we haven't all gotten together in person for over a year now. I'm sad about some people who have dropped off the radar. I'm sad about projects that have started and died or are slowly choking to death in some back room.

All that being said, death comes before new life, so we can trust God as we let go of the things we need to let go of and walk forward together.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Hey people -- this week I just want to encourage you. We're such a scattered, needy people stretching to stay connected by infrequent meetings, communicating online, and occasional phone calls. Yet we have a sense that God may be doing something and that we may fit together somehow – to keep this sense fresh we need encouragement. I see so much possibility in our ragtag group, even now, so hopefully God will be able to get a sense of hope and purpose through to us (we all need it) and give us strength to move forward.

Christa and I are in PA with her family at the moment. We came here directly from seeing my grandma who is dying of cancer in central IN. Before that we were in southwestern Ohio finishing up the last JRL recording (we've recorded everything -- now it needs to be mixed).

Our lives continue to change. Christa and I are in a big transition with her finishing college and looking to the next season of life. The Charlottesville Project is in transition -- three founding members are leaving in a two-month period (which is about a third of our group) and two new people recently joined (a few others are looking at coming soon as well).

Part of the change in my life has been a shift away from making music as a primary focus. I'm doing more speaking to groups of people and working with leaders now, and I continue to see this theme of transition wherever I go. And maybe the truth is that we're always in transition, things are always changing. (A 70-year-old man in Ohio told me, "Son, fifty years ago we were preaching about change in the church and culture -- here today you're saying the same thing!") So, while it is true that the reality of change will never change, here are a few things that may help us in our current transition:

1. The 25% principle. Remember in his parable about the Kingdom Jesus assumed a 75% failure rate. We expect to succeed in life without failing, despite the overwhelming evidence that this is not possible. The good news is Jesus came for failures and people who have been burned (to heal, restore, and strengthen us). If we'll live in the Kingdom manner, generously planting what he's given us (seeds of vision, dreams, service, kindness, love, Jesus' message) the 25% that makes it will bring such an incredible return that it will be far more than worth the risk and failure we encounter regularly. In major transitions the "failure" rate is probably even higher, because you must spend more time listening, watching, and exploring during transitions. Let God take the pressure off you to succeed -- he's inviting us into a partnership where He defines success, and we follow him into the unexpected. (Mark 4:1-20)

2. Trust Transfers. During transitions there are so many new things happening that we're usually disoriented and not sure how to tell if we're being faithful or not. A trust transfer is when you look at one part of your life where you've grown and met God and transfer that trust in God towards another area where you are struggling or unsure. Remember that most of the areas where you have freedom, joy and effectiveness were not always that way. One way or another you grew into those things, and most likely Jesus was at work in the process in some unusual ways. Look for him in the new areas, dare to think the same God is there as well, even though you haven't seen him yet.

3. The DMZ. The “demilitarized zone.” It’s a name for one of the phases of transition I've been thinking about lately. A DMZ is a border space between two countries that are at war. No fighting is allowed in the DMZ, but it's a scary no man's land where you can't really settle and everything is up in the air (your identity, your allegiance, your purpose, etc). The human tendency is to try to rush through it and get to some place where things are more clear and you're not between warring factions (the way things are and the way things are becoming). I believe God invites or even challenges us not to rush through the DMZ, but to take our time. Part of what happens in this phase of transition is that we grieve what we're losing or have lost. Whether the change is personal (a friend's death, the end of a job, a move, etc) or corporate (major changes in a family, business, church or wider culture) it's really important to recognize and mourn (allow ourselves to feel bad about) what we're losing. I've been doing that personally as I'm wrapping up JRL (a musical project that I've been pretty focused on for the last 5 years). It's sad. Some dreams I had are dead, they won't happen how I thought they would. It's good not only to let go of that, but also to allow myself to feel sad about it. On a larger scale, seeing my grandma dying is a similar challenge. Will I face what I'm losing and let myself feel sad about it, or rush on with life (maybe getting busy-er and busier and in so doing forget about those griefs)?

I welcome your conversation. More on how these principles relate specifically to the DSC next week.