Tag Archives: Community

New Crossfit Huntsville Website

Check out the new Crossfit Huntsville website.  Clint, Daniel, and Russell did a great job with the redesign.  I personally like the Recent Posts along the bottom.  Each post is the workout of the day (WOD).  This new website allows everyone to post their scores for the day and talk a little trash (and encourage) everyone else.  Also, check out the videos.  Russell is pretty creative.  I’m the one that quits on the rope climb in the middle of the video (That was rep #5). 

On a personal note, I had a personal record on Fight Gone Bad today (Read the Recent Post with Russell lifting a barbell and my brother floating in the air like he’s sitting in a chair).  I did 294 reps, which is about 45 more than  the last time I did it.  CrossFit and the Zone diet has made a tremendous impact on my fitness.

I really enjoy my Crossfit community.  It is a great example of a Tribe (I highly recommend Seth Godin’s book at the link) – as you can tell from the banter on the site.  Find a Crossfit Box near you and give it a shot.

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The American Dream

I am attending the National Youth Workers Convention in Nashville, TN this weekend.  At the general session last night three speakers were given 18 minutes to give a talk followed by 5 minutes of discussion with the people sitting around you.  At this point everyone was given the opportunity to text questions to a number on the screen.  The speaker then had 10 minutes where a moderator asked the speaker some of the questions that were texted.  It had a Q feel to it with the addition of a cool use of texting and speaker feedback.  The speakers were Shane Claiborne, Andrew Marin, and Tony Campolo.  Andrew’s talk was about Christians reaching out to the Gay and Lesbian communities.  I thought he did a great job telling his story and the story of what the Marin Foundation in Chicago is doing to reach out to a community that traditionally is not only neglected, but shunned and denegrated by the Christian community.

 

The talks by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo were also good, but I am having a difficult time digesting a theme that was in there talks and the talks of a few of the other presenters on Saturday morning.  These speakers on Friday night and Mark Yaconelli on Saturday morning all made comments declaring that the American Dream is dead.  They all said that the current market crash is going to force America to live differently and abandon the old ways of consumerism.  Now, there is no argument from me that America has demonstrated horrible fiscal policy from a bloated government that runs a massive deficit every year down to the average household that has been spending way more than their incomes can support.  The government views us as “consumers” instead of “citizens” as demonstrated by their solution to economic woes – Every gets a check in the mail with the directions to go spend it.  To me, that’s like giving an alcoholic another bottle of Wild Irish Rose because we have to keep the liquor industry afloat.  I believe that the church should be modeling Biblical spending principles, and that Christians should be tithing and saving and not reacting to the current situation with fear – like everyone seems to be doing.  But, to say that the American Dream is dead is foolish.

 

After a discussion with some friends I realized that nobody has a clear definition for “The American Dream”.  Tony Campolo defined the American Dream as “a desire to have a better life than your father had” and others simply defined it as “Comsumerism”.  Based on their definition of The American Dream, maybe it is dead, and for good reason.

 

I have a different definition.  I believe that the American Dream is to live in a place that fosters creativity and innovation and gives everyone the opportunity to bring their great ideas to fruition.  My definition is one of creation and innovation – one inline with what a dream should be.  Maybe my definition is off.  The American Dream that the speakers were talking about is the ugly thing that many in American have turned the American Dream into – one of greed where wants and needs have been greatly confused.  This economic downturn is a wakeup call for everyone.  I believe that this country will innovate and create its way out of this hole.  There will be some pain, but in the end we will be stronger.  It’s time for new ideas to rise up and for Dreamers to create.

 

There was a comment that I really did like about this topic from Mark Yaconelli.  He said that the era of purchasing whatever we want off credit cards – a practice that has contributed to isolating us from community – will be replaced with one where we start looking out for our neighbors. 

 

Instead of “keeping up with the Jones’s”, hopefully we will start “looking out for the Jones’s”.  This type of community is something I Dream about.

 

What is your definition of “The American Dream”?

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What is Expected of Us as a Community of Faith?

(These are the notes for the discussion in the Couples For Christ Sunday School Class tomorrow)

 

Drinks:

What does a healthy faith community look like?

 

 

What does our class do right in terms of helping to create community?

 

 

Where do we fall short?

 

 

In my opinion there are two different areas we need to examine with regards to the expectations of our Faith Community: Inward tending to one another’s needs, and Outward serving the needs of the community.  What are the differences?  How do these two functional areas work together?

 

 

 

Appetizer:

(From Andy Stanley’s article “Divine Community” in the Catalyst Groupzine vol. 4.: Intentional About Community)

It is sometimes said that when someone faces death, one’s conversations reveal his or her deepest passions, hopes and dreams.  That’s why we go out of our way to honor dying wishes.  In His final hours, Jesus gives us clues to His chief concerns.  What does John 17:20-22 reveal about Christ’s wishes/desires for us?

 

So that they may be one as we are one.

 

The significant of this statement cannot be overstated.  Jesus is praying that His disciples – the men who for three years had disappointed Him and misunderstood Him and would ultimately abandon Him (in other words, human beings like you and me) – would experience something amazing.  He prayed that they would experience the same quality of relationship with each other that Jesus experienced as part of the Trinity since before the beginning of time.

 

What does relationship amongst the Trinity look like?

 

Enjoying each other (Genesis 1:26)

Encouraging each other (Matthew 3:17)

Supporting each other (John 14:25)

Loving one another (Mark 9:7)

Deferring to one another (John 14:10)

Glorifying one another (John 17:1)          

We all need community.  We are a society living in isolation seldom enjoying the benefits of meaningful relationships.  We live around a lot of people, but most of us have chosen to do life alone.  This is certainly not what God has in mind.  We were created by a relational God with relational needs for connection – significant connection.

 

 

Main Course:

(Summarized from Matt Chandler Podcast of The Village Church titled, “Village Core Values: What is Community?” 4/27/2008)

 

Nobody gets hit by the gospel and just stays where they are – It’s moving and creating, and It’s different for everyone.  Once your heart is awaken to the reality of Jesus Christ, you begin Progressive Sanctification, which is growth into Him or spiritual growth in body, intellect, worship, and missions.

 

Progressive sanctification is a process that can only take place in the confines of deep relationship.  There is nowhere in scripture when it comes to sanctification and growth into the fullness of Christ where words were spoken to individuals removed from the communal aspect of our faith.  For example,

·         Opening to all of the letters in the New Testament – To the Saints in Galatia, Saints in Ephasis, Philippi, etc.

·         2 Corinthians (1:3-4) – Why does God comfort us?  So that we can comfort others.  – Communal

·         1 Thessalonians (4:18) – Encourage each other… – Communal

·         1 Thessalonians (5:14) – Warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. – Communal

·         Galatians (6:2) – Carry each other’s burdens…. – Communal

 

Discuss what a tremendous asset it is to have people who know you well enough to engage you at that level.

 

·         How well does it work to “warn those that are idle” if you don’t really know them?

·         How well does it work to try to hold someone accountable if you don’t have a deep relationship with them?

·         How well does it work to ask to carry someone’s burden’s when you don’t have a relationship of trust established?

·         How well does it work to try to grow yourself spiritually when the entire gospel message is inescapably communal?

 

Just because you attend a small group like our class does not mean that you have real Christian community.  Attending is really the easy part.  The next steps – opening up and being honest, caring for others, contributing, … This is where it starts to take intentional action, which can be messy?  Why?

We need to protect ourselves from being too shallow in our relationships.  For example,

 

·         When was the last time someone close to you invited you out for a drink to tell you that constantly jabbing and disrespecting your wife in public isn’t funny – and ask you what’s really going on.

·         When we the last time someone close to you said that maybe your other affiliations in life (college football, political parties, social clubs, etc) are dominating your conversations and thought processes and borderline on becoming toxic – and then remind you that you are a Christian first before ANYTHING else.

·         When was the last time someone close to you confronted you on devious behaviors that are taking you away from community, family, God? – We all have areas where darkness resides, but are all responsible to help each other grow in Him. 

 

This is the sticky and uncomfortable part of our relationship with each other.  We have to realize that this is not a game.  Back to John 17:21 – “so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Jesus is saying that the credibility of His life and message in the eyes of unbelievers  is dependent upon the way we as followers relate to one another.  Somehow their belief and our behavior are connected.  Do you feel the weight of this passage and our responsibilities as a Christian Community?

 

We have to realize that we are in a body.  When you cut off a finger (illustration relevant for shop teachers) it doesn’t continue to grow.  We have to be in community in order to grow in Him!

 

 

Dessert:

 

I like to think of Christian community as a large dinner party (something our class relates too very well).  Each person has their own gift and talent that is given by the same Holy Spirit.  Some like to cook, some like to clean up afterwards, some like to generate conversation, some like to open their houses to host, some like to pay for the drinks and meal, some like to bring the music, some like to take pictures of the event, some like to make sure everyone is having a good time, some like to move furniture in the hosts house (inside joke).  When we combine our talents and live in community – really live in community and push each other toward progressive sanctification – you can feel the dynamo that is Christ.  I hope we continue to encourage each other AND confront each other. 

 

As Andy Stanley says at the end of his article, “I take comfort in the fact that community is God’s idea.  That means He will assume the lion’s share of the responsibility for making His dream come true.  We have to be willing to partner with Him to make His dream your reality and a reality for many others as well.”

 

Grace and Peace!

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Invite Yourself to Lunch

Today at church our oldest daughter, Claire, asked the Youth Minister’s wife if our family could come over to their house to eat lunch.  Yep, she just invited our whole family over to invade their Sunday afternoon.  Debbie said they would be honored if we came over for lunch, but told Claire to make sure it was ok with us, her parents, first.  I had a ton of things to do this afternoon, but thought the idea of hanging out with the Akers sounded fun.  We picked up some tortilla chips, grapes, and ice cream sandwiches to go with the leftover chicken chili that Debbie offered.  The food was delicious and the company was great.  Tony shared stories from the senior high camping trip, I shared information from Catalyst, we all talked about their successful first year garden, and of course talked about our kids.  Claudia and Hannah played house, Joshua and Sam shot each other (and me) with Nerf guns, Claire played with the smaller girls, and Madison sat and conversed with the adults. 

 

I think we all need to experience lunch with our friends more often.  We are called to community and need to make more time in our schedules to just share (food, conversation, our time, our minds, our hearts, etc) with each other.  If Claire wouldn’t have invited our family over to their house, we would have missed this opportunity. 

 

Challenge: Invite a friend over for lunch or dinner this week.  Do it without any agenda except to just hang out with each other.

 

Note: we did have a conversation with Claire about the appropriateness of inviting herself places.  We didn’t want to crush her on this, but didn’t want her to make it a habit either.

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My 97 Seconds of Fame – The Public Transportation Interview

Public transportation has been a topic in the media lately here in Huntsville.  The main question that is being asked is, “Given the surge in gas prices, why hasn’t Huntsville seen the jump in public transportation participation that other major cities have seen?”  Great question.  Many current local political leaders and many candidates running for office (It is an election year) are discussing this question.  I wonder if any of them have tried using the Huntsville Shuttle?  

 

A few of the readers of this blog know that I have tried getting to and from work using public transportation on two separate occasions (Ride the Bus and Dump the Pump are previous posts that describe my past experiences).  A fraternity brother that reads my blog told a local news reporter about me and the bus.  They wanted to do a story.  I got a call Thursday from the news reporter, and she asked if they could film me riding the bus and interview me on Friday.  I agreed, and this is the news spot that was created.

 

Blog and Ride

 

Like all news reports, the whole story was not accurately portrayed.  The report makes it sound like I ride the bus all the time.  The truth is, this was only my third time in three months.  I hope that I have not disrespect those in the community that strictly rely on the bus to get around.  A more objective look at the bus system should also include interviews with regular riders – not just interested outsiders like me.  I hope my experiences have raised awareness to a problem that, if dealt with properly, could significantly improve the quality of life for many residents of this community.  I also have a message to the political leaders – Ride the bus.  Get to know the problem you are discussing.  Get to know the people that are regular riders.  Get their opinions, not just those of your removed-from-reality cohorts.

 

Like I said in the interview, the bus system is a good service provided by our community, but it really falls short of being an effective alternative to driving.  Huntsville can do better than this.

 

Other notes from the trip:

  • I got soaked walking home from the bus stop yesterday afternoon.  You gotta love the pop-up thunderstorms in the South.  I should have packed an umbrella.
  • Bennett and I had a great discussion on the ride/walk to work.  We discussed how the constraints and characteristics of this community are self-selecting to those that choose to move here.  We are a low-tax, high individual rights community (Our houses all have high fences and the majority of the people will not give up the freedom that comes with driving their own automobile).  So, when we have a big industry boom like we have now with BRAC, the ones that choose to move here will be the ones looking for low taxes and high individual freedom – not the urbanites looking to live more enmeshed in a community.  More on this topic later.
  • In the interview, I meant to say “living alternatively” not “living an alternative lifestyle”, which has its own connotation.  A lot of people picked up an that phrase and have had a good laugh about it – Including the wife of the associate pastor at church that emailed me and said she supports “Bennett and I in our alternative lifestyle living (with a J)”.  Lesson learned – when speaking to the media, keep your message simple.  It is kinda funny though. 

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Filed under Community, Green Team, Huntsville Politics, Observations

Message without words

Check out this video that I ripped from a friend’s blog site.  What I find interesting about the video is 1)communication without words and 2) the message that involving yourself in the community can sometimes lead you into very strange circumstances.  How many of you have involved yourself in a situation only to find that you created the basketball rolling down the sidewalk?  I know that sometimes I create a lot more problems out of the situations I try to solve.

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