Tag Archives: relationship

Relationshipzilla is coming!

As part of our Balancing Act June series, we’re devising a few bonus events that are going to be a lot of fun and real helpful for folks.

This includes our June 17 Relationshipzilla couples checkup night. Using Prepare & Enrich’s Couple Checkup, which can be done all online, we’ll break down the assessment, do some movie trivia, give away door prizes, eat some great food, and be challenged to grow as couples. We even have child care taken care of for families with children. This event is for any couple – you don’t have to be married or planning on getting married.

Check out the flyer below.

If you want to get started, you can jump right into the Couple Checkup. Please use group code 12197-1.

Finding Balance [Video]

It’s Okay to Mourn.

Nathan & Emily at the State FairI’m here in my church office, listening to Akron/Family’s newest album after a busy morning and a beautiful memorial service for a dear friend.

And as I am thinking, I got to say to this – especially to us guys – it’s okay to mourn.

Grief (from dictionary.com) means “keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.”

Grief is big and broad. It includes life changes – like new jobs, moves, relationships, church families, and so on. But it also includes death and dying, which is what we most naturally think of when we think about grief.

When my wife and I moved from DC to Dallas, we grieved for a while. Dallas is a great city, but DC is also a great place. We left behind friends, familiar roles, favorite restaurants, and warm memories. Dallas required us to start over. There is some joy in that, starting over and all, but it’s tough too. It took us a while to find some new favorites and new friends… and hey, it’s still ongoing.

In other words, we grieved.

Sometimes, in life, we assign grieving to just funerals and so on, forgetting that it’s bigger. And sometimes, we don’t even allow ourselves to grieve at the loss of loved ones. We say things like, “they are in a better place now.” Or “God needed another angel.” Or “it was God’s plan.” Personally, I understand what people are trying to say when they say those things, but it’s not always helpful.

It’s okay to grieve, to cry, to lament, to weep, to experience the flow of emotions (which can include joy and laughter), and to not get over it quickly.

It’s okay to mourn.

This Sunday, my message is going to be about death & dying, how we have permission to lament the loss of loved ones in our lives, even if it means getting angry at God. For a sneak peek, check out the Mourner’s Bill of Rights. Is there anything in there that surprises you? Do you agree with it? Have you followed it in your life? Why or why not?

- Nathan

Meet Me at the Crossroads

There are a lot of ghost towns in the US, especially in rural parts of the country. When my wife and I are traveling through some back roads in southwestern Oklahoma, for instance, we inevitably come across these tiny little towns that may have a single gas station to their name. At one time, that little spot in the road may have hosted a store, church, post office, and more – it may have been the nearest place for a lot of folks to come to get their news of the outside world and do business.

But with changes in technology, driving 30-50 miles to go shopping is easy. Getting a phone call from around the world is effortless. Packages can be shipped overnight, and some people do all their business from their laptop. Those little towns have dried up, leaving behind just a few families who like the peace and quiet.

For the rest of us, our crossroads have changed. We can connect with people when and where we choose, whether it is in a grocery store line, via Facebook, at church, through a local networking group, or at a game. We can roll up our windows, look the other way, delete the message, and move on with our life. We have more control than ever before.

And yet, these places of connection are still extremely important to us. People who are not connected to others, who do not have friends or support networks, often struggle the most. Some with mental illness, like suspected Arizona gunman, Jared Loughner, find their imbalance worsened without meaningful relationship. Even church, in all of our theology and ideas and systems and programs, is still the best when you have good friends there. Our social networks are still the primary ways we find jobs and mates.

No matter how the world changes, we still need friends and fellow travelers to keep us company on the long journey of life.

This is why, when I talk about church, I often like to talk about community. The Table is really more than a worship service – we are a community of diverse people who journey together. And in the coming months, we are being challenged with the whole church to open our hearts and arms and minds to those new connections, to be a new crossroads for our neighborhood and city.

Join us at the Table, at the crossroads, this Sunday!

- Rev. Nathan

Where does it all come from?

Gift of Hands

There’s this song we will sing Sunday with the line – “take my gifts and let me love you, God first of all who loved me.”

One of my professors in seminary told us about this guy that he met who left this lasting image on him. They were in line to get food in a cafeteria. The food wasn’t anything special, but this guy would just get so excited about the mashed potatoes, the bread, the ham, the pineapple, or whatever it was placed on his plate. He would exclaim, “Wow, this looks amazing. Thank you!”┬áMy professor finally asked him if he was trying to be funny, but the guy shook his head and explained that he knew even this food was a gift from God for today.

Another mentor told me about a director of a refugee ministry on the border of Mexico who had lived through a lot of tough times. For lunch, he was offered a fresh apple. The director was so moved and so thankful, that he prayed with tears before savoring every bite.

When I heard those stories, at first, I envied those feelings. Man, it would sure feel good to be so thankful for all of the things I have. How often do I take the abundance I have for granted? But on the other hand, I also felt like maybe those people were overdoing it a little – tears for an apple and excitement over cafeteria food? Come on.

But something kept nagging me about those stories. They began to remind me of how Jesus said that if God fed the birds of the air, how much more would God feed you who are his children?

It’s hard to think this way in life – do all things really come from God? When I bring home a paycheck, isn’t that from my hard work? Isn’t the food I prepare the fruit of my labor?

And yet – we know that food wouldn’t grow if it wasn’t for the gift of life, sun, water, and earth. Our job wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t have health, life, education, opportunities, relationship, and energy. Even the people we love, was it really anything we did that convinced them to like or love us?

Perhaps the true beginning of humility and thanksgiving is to understand how fragile life can be and yet how great a gift it is.

We begin a new series on stewardship, giving, and thanksgiving this month. Join us and praise God with your breath, a breath that is even a gift from the Creator of us all.

- Rev. Nathan


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