Never Shout Never

I am committed to PCC – not just because I work there, but because I believe so passionately in what we do. We strive to make it a place where people can feel welcome, comfortable and safe. Above all, we want people to have a relationship with God.

We believe that relationship develops in different ways, at different rates of discovery. We believe that there is undeniable, irrefutable truth to be found in the Bible. We believe that God honors obedience, and that His precepts are set out for our good.

We don’t believe in legalism, but we do believe that God has designed a good way for his people to live.

We believe that a relationship with God should be vibrant and alive through every hour of every day of the week. We believe in transformation.

And we hope that people will come to our church in an effort to see God, to enter into community with others who are striving to follow the teachings of Christ. We hope that they’ll come with open minds and hearts; because we believe that God will meet us there, when we gather.

And we continue to believe that something happens when we meet together, something that makes “going to church” worth the effort. I caught this video this morning and found that it makes my heart happy, to hear witness of such an honest hallelujah. It makes my heart happy, even as it makes me a little sad to know that it’s sort of about rejecting church. It makes me want to strive even deeper into being creative and open and inventive enough to welcome people like Christofer Ingle (also known as Never Shout Never) into our community and make sure there’s a place for him.

Because his hallelujah helps our hallelujah, which our voices sing together. We need each other.

HT to Ben Arment for linking to this vid. Good stuff.

The Bible And The Bills

Last week, I lost three very important things:

  • my Bible
  • my March church expense statement
  • my January church expense statement (don’t ask)
I looked everywhere; I turned the house upside down. I went through everything in my office three times. No sign of the Bible or the bills.
I assumed the Bible would turn up eventually. It’s quite amazing, actually, that my spiritual life isn’t hindered by the lack of a tangible Bible – there are tons of online resources like Bible Gateway and Youversion that are at my fingertips. I have a few old, tattered copies of study Bibles at home. But my red Bible is sentimental and personal; it means something to me. It’s underlined and dated and I’ve marked some significant moments in it.
As a brief tangent, I’ll reveal that there’s a small piece of paper tucked in between the pages of my red Bible, dating back about eight years. It’s part of a church program, and on it are written thes words:

“Consider yourself hugged.”

Slipped to me during a difficult time in my life, in the middle of a service during which my tears were flowing freely, I keep it to this day. It meant the world at that time. It still does today.
(I believe that my friend who wrote that reads this blog from time to time…wonder if they remember it as clearly as I do?)

Anyway, I’ve got notes like that tucked in my Bible, along with underlined passages with dates and the initials of the pastors who have revealed truth or insight (JR….BCH…JL…LG…DF…) It means something to me, my history intertwined with the writings of Paul and the words of Jesus and the history of God’s people. I missed it.
The bills are another story; suffice it to say that I struggle with deadlines. My monthly efforts to get my work-related finances organized, accounted for and submitted in a timely manner are not always successful. Having just had a roundtable discussion during which we were all rather strongly encouraged to do better in this area, the last thing I wanted to do was to let folks in the financial department know my predicament.
“Uh…hi, it’s Beth. You know how we were going to try to do a better job getting our statements in on time? Well….I can’t find mine…”

Just slap a sticky note on me that says STUPID.
Late last week, I gave up. I wrote the “I AM STUPID” email confessing my ineptitude, and I took a deep breath in preparation to accept Brian’s offer of a new large print Bible to replace my old one (grrr…..muttering and taking GREAT offense under my breath….)
And then, lo and behold, as these things tend to play out, I started finding things. First it was my Bible.
And undoubtedly you’re dying to know where I found my Bible, right? Well, I’ll tell you: it was in the trunk of the car, in my workout bag. Which I haven’t used in…well, long enough to have had no idea that my Bible was in it.
And then, I came into work on Tuesday and found the March financial statement in my mailbox in the office. Hallelujah, praise the Lord, etc! There was much cheering and shouts of “THANK YOU JESUS!” Later, I found out that I not only had Jesus to thank, but also Dennis Green, who admitted to placing the envelope in my box.
“I found it on my desk. I’m not sure how it got there, but I found it. Under some stuff.”

(If you saw Dennis’ desk, this statement would make perfect sense.)
Still waiting on the January statement, I finally decided to take matters into my own hands. With a willing and very clever accomplice, I snuck into Dennis’ office during his absence and flipped through a stack or two of paper.
Voila. All that was lost is now found.
And the point? Well, there is one.
Don’t give up. Own up to your mistakes, but be sure that it’s not over till the fat lady sings – or till Dennis cleans his office.

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left. – Lamentations 3.22-23 (The Message)

I’m Not Sure What Comes Next

Our friend Tony, who is part of the core group of folks who are invested in the Westchester campus of PCC, is out of town.

It’s not a business trip per se; it’s about something that has captured his heart. He goes to Moldova several times a year to try to help children who have grown up in orphanages. You can read more about Tony’s work in Moldova here.
Interestingly enough, Moldova is making headlines in other areas, for other reasons. Anne Jackson is an insightful author (Mad Church Disease, which I highly recommend) and blogger who recently returned from a trip to Russia and Moldova.
She is deftly sharing what she learned on this trip. I read her words, and look at Tony’s pictures and prayer requests, and I cannot help but think that God wants us – well, let me speak for myself. God wants me to know and really see that the world is very large, indeed; that the needs are very large, indeed; and that to continue to sit back and do nothing is no longer an option.
Read Anne’s post about witnessing the trafficking of girls in the equivalent of a local Panera.
I don’t even know what to say, except that the privilege of living a life of safety and security, numbed by American culture, seems to be somehow tainted. God wants me to see this. He’s dovetailing information about a foreign country in a way that I can’t ignore. He’s all up in my face.
I’m not sure what comes next.

From Kicking Rocks To The Flat Rockers

I wrote the following about four years ago. Four years ago my life was so completely different (Wasn’t yours? Just stop a minute and think about what you were up to in the spring of 2006…)

Here’s where I was:

March 15, 2006

The best epiphanies just rise up out of the mundane and surprise you with brightness and a sort of holiness that exudes mystery. One just caught me and left me weeping, incapable of anything but a mantra of ‘thank you, Jesus…thank you, Jesus…thank you, Jesus…’

Watching through the window as my boys waited for the arrival of the school bus, I saw David kicking gravel from the driveway into the street. His little 6-year old leg swung hard, heaved towards the rocks and shot a chunk or two across the street to the neighbor’s ditch. He’d kick, glance both ways, then run across to fetch the rock and kick again. Sometimes, as he ran back, he’d spin around, or jump, or fling his arms up into the air. Typical child-like play, swinging at the wind, making fun out of simple things.

And it broke me, his spinning and jumping and leaping, coupled with his prayer last night that he would have four legs so that he could run around the track at school as fast as Philip. He smiled and carefully explained to me how he could use two legs until they got tired, then switch to his extra legs. This seems to him a real possibility.

Things like this were so common with my other kids – the innocence and joy of childhood that carried each one of them through those early years. It is unique with David, though, for he has experienced a different life. Where the girls and Daniel all had the fairytale ‘happy childhood’ in their younger years, with two parents and little conflict, David got a different story. David’s third year of life was in an atmosphere of arguments and conflict, shouting and frustration, the television as a lousy substitute for parents who could not give the attention he needed, and, ultimately, a huge upheaval in his life. Separation, different houses, confusion and fear. David has lived a completely different life, and it has stained his soul.

It’s been obvious to me, in this last year. The impact of our implosion and divorce was huge on David. He has struggled, and shied away from people and relationships. There has been no awe in him, no anticipation of the love and happiness and possibility of life. A huge uncertainty has characterized his personality, and it has stymied and saddened me.

Lately, though, I have seen a beautiful thing…hints of joy within him. He is smiling and laughing more, and imagining a greater world than what exists. Hope has returned to my child, I think, on the wings of angels who invite him to play and run faster and in the constant, gentle hand of Jesus, who has never stopped inviting him to kick rocks and play with Him.

David was only six then. Today he is ten years old.

Last night he and his two best buddies performed an original rap about their school; they were next-to-last in a long line of elementary school stars in a three-hour “Rockin’ With the Stars” celebration.
This little boy, who just four years ago was bearing the heavy burden of a situation he never asked for; he has grown and matured and is now blossoming into a strong, confident kid who enjoys life. He can identify his passions (art, beat boxing, music, his best buddies).
Give the credit where it’s due: lots of grace, a steadfast commitment to the family by his grandparents, his siblings, his dad’s investment in his life over the past year, an incredible extended family via Powhatan Community Church, a big sister who adores and encourages him, excellent teachers in the Powhatan school system, an amazing, gift-from-God stepmother, a step-father who will spend serious time with him…on and on and on….
It is the life we have created.
Two things I am thinking in this post, which has meandered a completely different direction than I intended: First of all, don’t let anybody tell you that kids don’t suffer through a divorce. That is nonsense and foolish. Divorce hurts kids; it wounds and scars and it hurts. Yes, kids are resilient. Yes, they get through it. But they are changed, marked for life.
Secondly, in spite of all that, grace abounds. There is great value in believing the best about people, in surrounding yourself with community that cares and does its best to know you, love you, and simply be with you through the ups and downs. I have found the best of that in the church I attend. I floated into PCC six years ago a broken mess. I cried for six months, alone in the seats, wondering how I would ever get my life back together again.
Flash forward to today and I am now working full-time for that same church, investing my life in the place that handed me a rope when I was sinking. It’s tethered tightly to God, and it has rescued and sustained me. Time and grace have brought healing to me.
And David, as well.
Grateful for the past, ready for the future. It is a good day today.

Tripp, David and Bryce during their debut as “The Flat Rockers”.

Telling Stories

PCC is full of incredible people with some amazing stories. Last week Karen Green shared part of her life story with us via video. It was powerful and moving and a very real look at a very real person who is choosing to follow Christ.

We have an incredible team of videographers at PCC who work on these projects for us. Led by Regina Revels and Scott Gordon, this team does great work, learning along the way, constantly seeking ways to collaborate with one another, utilize the technology we have and bring their creative skill to the art of storytelling.
Three things you need to know:
1) If you’re interested in learning more about this teamespecially if you have experience with video or filmmaking – contact Regina Regina Revels (Ginabel1{at}hotmail{dot}com). If you don’t have experience but want to learn, we’ll train you. We’re looking especially for folks to help run cameras on Sunday morning. Sure, you can do that!
2) If you have a story to tell, email me and share it (beth{at}pccwired{dot}net). We believe God is changing lives in our community, and we want to honor Him by telling those stories to inspire and encourage one another – and to give him the credit!
3) Don’t miss the rest of the current series, No Perfect People Allowed. We have great stories lined up for each week. You don’t want to miss it.