"Two Laws that govern my life: The law of cognition: I am what I think. The law of exposure: My mind will think most about what it is most exposed to."
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
- One book that changed your life? Where is God When it Hurts by Phillip Yancey. Along the lines of Why Bad Things Happen to Good People by Kushner except it's not UTTER CRAP.
- One book that you have read more than once? Just one? Hmmmm. Anything by Jane Austen stands up to multiple readings. But what stands out in my mind is Mordan'ts Need (Vol. 1 and 2) by Stephen R. Donaldson.
- One book you would want on a desert island? The Bible.
- One book that made you laugh? Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding. One of the funnest reads ever!
- One book that made you cry? The Black Flower by Howard Bahr. I still cry when I read it.
- One book you wish had been written? I wish Dorothy Sayers had finished Thrones, Dominations.
- One book you wish had never been written? Can't think of one. I've read some real stinkers though! Blech!
- One book you are currently reading? Ombria in Shadow by Patricia McKillip
- One book you have been meaning to read? The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs
- Now tag five people: Steph, Noah, Lauren, Mom, and Dad
Monday, August 14, 2006
Although Devotions does not answer the philosophical questions, it does record Donne's emotional resolution, a gradual movement toward peace. At first - confined to bed, churning out prayers without answers, contemplating death, regurgitating guilt - he can find no relief from fear. Obsessed, he reviews every biblical occurrence of the word fear. As he does so, it dawns on him that life will always include circumstances that incite fear: if not illness, financial hardship, if not poverty, rejection, if not loneliness, failure. IN such a world, Donne has a choice: to fear God, or to fear everything else.
In a passage reminiscent of Paul's litany in Romans 8 ("For I am convinced that nether death nor life...will be able to separate us from the love of God..."), Donne checks off his potential fears. Personal enemies pose no ultimate threat, for God can vanquish any enemy. Famine? No, for God can supply. Death? Even that, the worst human fear, offers no final barrier against God's love. Donne concludes his best course is to cultivate a proper fear of the Lord, which fear can supplant all others: "as thou hast given me a repentance, not to be repented of, so give me, O Lord, a fear, of which I may not be afraid." I learned from Donne, when faced with doubts, to review my alternatives. If for whatever reason I refuse to trust God, what, then, can I trust?
In his disputation with God, Donne has changed questions. He began with the question of cause - "Who caused this illness, this plague? And why?" - for which he found no answer. The meditations move ever so gradually toward the question of response, the defining issue that confronts every person who suffers. Will I trust God with my crisis, and the fear it provokes? Or will I turn away from God in bitterness and anger? Donne decided that in the most important sense it did not matter whether his sickness was a chastening or merely a natural occurrence. In either case he would trust God, for in the end trust represents the proper fear of the Lord.
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Friday, August 11, 2006
I recommend turning the volume WAY UP! (Spoiler free!!)
"Everyone wins when you add skill to passion. Well, hell loses, but as they say, who the hell cares." - Bill Hybels, opening session of Willow Creek Leadership Summit
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Sunday, August 06, 2006
The Father of Willow Creek
by Manea A. Brachear, Tribune Staff Reporter
Rev. Bill Hybels opens his eyes at dawn, rolls out of bed and lands on his knees. For 10 minutes, he says, he kneels in prayer, thanking God.
That one-on-one time came more easily three decades ago, when Hybels was an evangelist working outside the mainstream, launching an experimental ministry called Willow Creek Community Church.
Now Willow Creek is a big part of the mainstream, the South Barrington-based megachurch at the forefront of an international phenomenon counting almost 12,000 congregations.
And Hybels has become a power broker in evangelical Christianity, the CEO of a movement. This year he stepped away from Willow Creek's day-to-day operations to concentrate on expanding the ministry to the unchurched abroad and to broaden its urban, multicultural reach at home."In the early days I was the father, the mother, the uncle, the aunt, the grandmother. I was really the only teacher, the only pastor," he said. "These days ... the church's dependency on me has gone down just exactly the way we planned it."
Last week, the church made headlines in his absence by planning to move its fledgling Chicago congregation into the historic Auditorium Theatre. This week, Hybels will attend Willow's annual leadership summit, where more than 50,000 pastors and key volunteers are expected to attend or tune in via satellite.But Hybels said none of that means much if he can't find the time to cultivate his personal relationship with God, whether it is grabbing 10 minutes first thing in the morning or taking more time away from the 20,000-member church to go to his summer home in Michigan.
"I can't do a gourmet meal if I can't get the time in the kitchen," said Hybels, 54. "If I don't have mechanisms in place to lower my RPMs and help me focus, I'll just hydroplane over things I shouldn't hydroplane over. I'm an activist personality. I like high challenge, high speed, high risk."
Before he escapes for the summer, there is one rite of passage he never misses--the annual baptism in Willow Creek's pond. More than 500 teens and adults wade into the water so that Hybels or another pastor can cradle them in his arms, proclaim their conversion "in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit" and douse them.
In South Haven, Hybels has contemplated his wife's vision of expanding Willow Creek's global outreach. After a trip to Africa, she challenged her husband to respond to the AIDS crisis there by providing medical and hospice care.Hybels has also used the downtime to develop his vision of building a more multicultural church. Last year he and seven pastors from predominantly white, black, Latino and Asian evangelical churches around Chicago began meeting monthly to collaborate on a community service project. And for several summers, he and Rev. James Meeks of Salem Baptist Church in Chicago have marched with others across a bridge in Selma, Ala., to commemorate the civil rights struggle."I am one of those prototypical, white educated folks who wonder why there is still a problem. If the laws have been changed and if everyone is voting and there is equal opportunity, why is there any lingering difficulty?" Hybels admitted to a group of worshipers at the First Baptist Church in Selma.
"As the church started to grow and exposure to the world began to increase, I
began to become more aware of some of the tensions between races."
Part of his response has been the opening of the downtown Chicago branch, one of four Willow Creek satellites. The church also hired a pastor to lead a Spanish worship service.And Hybels insists on casting more minorities in the church's Broadway-style stage productions that have earned national acclaim and often bring worshipers to their feet.
While everyone in the sanctuary sways and waves their arms in praise, Hybels stands, his hands folded behind him, his eyes closed in contemplation. Even if that makes him seem a little out of place in his own church, he figures it might help somebody else in the crowd feel a little more comfortable."I'm not an arm waver and a clapper and a dancer," he said. "Music doesn't do that to me, although it stirs me inside. I think there's a contingent of people at Willow who gain some permission to stay in their true response because they know I do. They're glad I stay true to my wiring. It gives them permission to stay true to theirs."
I've just posted the very beginning and the very end of this article. You can find the rest by clicking on the link in the title.
I wasn't terribly impressed by this article. It seemed meandering to me and, for a bio piece, paints a very vague picture. Now if Cathleen Falsani of the Sun Times sat down to do this job, that would be interesting!
Saturday, August 05, 2006
Friday, August 04, 2006
- Sooner or Later (Soren's Song), New Way to be Human by Switchfoot
- In a Little While, All that You can't Leave Behind by U2
- Tokyo Rose (Live), My Year in Review by Bill Mallonee
- When it was Over, Add to the Beauty by Sara Groves
- Walk On (Live), Elevation in Boston by U2
- The Prodigal Bride, The Green Room Serenade by Lost Dogs
- In God's Country, The Joshua Tree by U2
- To the Moon, Add to the Beauty by Sara Groves
- Linger, Everybody Else is Doing It... by The Cranberries
- Brothers in Arms, Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits
To the Moon (#8) "It was there in the bulletin, "We're Leaving Soon." After the bake-sale to raise funds for fule. The rocket is ready and we're going to take our church to the moon. They'll be no one there to tell us we're odd, no one to change our opinions of God. Just lots of rocks and this dusty sod, there in our church on the moon. We know our liberties, we know our rights, we know how to fight a very good fight. Just grab that last bag there and turn out the light, we're taking our church to the moon. We're taking our church to the moon. We'll be leaving soon."
The Prodigal Bride (#6) "All your haves and your have-nots will turn to dust in time. There's still a chance to save yourself while I've got you on the line, and you know it." "You don't see clear I'm standing here, in the shadows of your imagination. And you alone, for blood and bone, put flesh around my incarnation." "When you first beheld the man, you nailed down his open hand, because he wasn't much to look at way back then. And your dance of freedom raised a storm, a day for death, a time to mourn, until that long lost love is born again."
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
The Chicago branch of huge Willow Creek Church is excited about the prospect of worshiping in the legendary Auditorium Theatre
By Manya A. Brachear
Tribune staff reporter
Published August 1, 2006
Named for the Palatine movie palace in which the suburban megachurch got its start,Willow Creek Community Church now plans to establish a city home in a theater of a different kind.
Beginning Oct. 1, the historic Auditorium Theatre's gilded walls and massive archways will become home to Willow Creek Chicago, the church's newest campus, under a handshake agreement reached by both parties Monday.
The city satellite of the South Barrington church, which expanded its auditorium in 2004 to accommodate its 18,000 members in multiple services, was launched in March and has been drawing about 150 people on Sunday afternoons to the Union Station Multiplex on West Jackson Boulevard. The church now hopes to draw hundreds more to hear its pastor preach from a stage that has featured Frank Sinatra, Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen and the Joffrey Ballet.
The unconventional location is not unusual for an evangelical church--especially one that hosts worship services that resemble Broadway productions.But the Auditorium Theatre is a cornerstone of Chicago history, a granite monument to the days when the young city aimed to outshine New York as the nation's cultural hub. A national historic landmark, the Romanesque building at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Congress Parkway was designed by legendary architects Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler.
Leaders of Willow Creek were conscious of the history of the Auditorium as they planned the megachurch's urban expansion."It's got Chicago written all over it," said Rev. Steve Wu, who moved to the city earlier this year to lead Willow Creek Chicago.
Willow Creek members will be able to worship in the theater on Sunday mornings for one year, with the caveat that they must clear out before Sunday matinees, said the Auditorium's Executive Director Brett Batterson, who declined to disclose financial details of the arrangement.
The goals of the two organizations are the same, he said.
"The [theater's] mission is to make it accessible to all of Chicago," Batterson said. "If the renter is a church or a Broadway producer, we're more than happy. It's an auditorium for everyone."
The history of the Auditorium Theatre is as grand as its architecture. Even before it was finished, the theater hosted the 1888 Republican National Convention that nominated Benjamin Harrison for president. When the theater officially raised its curtain a year later, new President Harrison watched from a box seat. That night, star soprano Adelina Patti performed her signature song, "Home, Sweet Home."
Recalling the nostalgia of that era and welcoming its neighbors, Willow Creek Chicago's first series of sermons will be titled "A Place to Call Home."
"We want to communicate that Willow is here in the city to provide a place to call home--as a church, as an outreach to the city around us, to the community that so desperately needs the great message of the Gospel," Wu said.
Wu, 41, who moved from California's Silicon Valley, said he discovered the Auditorium Theatre while wandering around downtown and praying.
"There would be days I'd walk around and absorb the city, feel the culture, emotion and heartbeat," he said. "When I walked down in the theater district, I just had this sense in me that this would be a great place to land."
The performing arts, including live music, dance and drama, have always been a hallmark of Willow Creek's worship, and services at the acoustically perfect Auditorium Theatre will be no different. Worshipers will hear show tunes, jazz numbers, blues and gospel, Wu said.
"One of the things we believe musically is we need to have breadth of genres that resonate with the city instead of one wedge of Christian music," he said. "We want to really resonate with the deep musical history of the city."Music does not have to be Christian to draw a listener closer to God, he said.
"Music is a great gift from God we can use to speak to each other," Wu said. "When people hear a certain tune it evokes certain thoughts and emotions. The message might not be out-and-out Christian, but it resonates with the human soul."
The art and architecture of the theater also stirs the soul, said Willow Creek Chicago member Kathryn Tack, 60, an executive coach and mother of three. Her first visit to the theater was to see a production of "The Phantom of the Opera," she recalled.
"There's just the awesome presence of the Creator," Tack said. "The building in and of itself gives you so much to fill you intellectually and touches your heart. That's part of what God represents to so many people. It would be really amazing to have church there."
The theater has 3,800 seats, but Wu said he believes the house will soon be full. In addition to the performances, Willow Creek Chicago plans to develop its ministries for the homeless and prostitutes.
Wu said the expansion to Chicago is not only more convenient for city dwellers but enhances the partnerships Willow Creek already shares with social service agencies. In addition to its South Barrington campus, Willow Creek has regional sites in McHenry, DuPage and Lake Counties.
"Our dream and our hope," Wu said, "is to really bring something wonderful here to the city."