To Be Honest:: Being Right vs. Being in Relationship

May 8, 2018

Do you have a friend that you love to talk about more than your other friends? 

These are usually the people that live the most entertaining and perplexing lives of all your friends. They spent some time in Costa Rica living off the land. They built out the back of their 1998 Astrovan and spent time driving around the country playing coffee shops. In one month they went on 3 dates with women named Molly. ***

Hearing about their most recent exploits is a constant source of fascination because it's odd in comparison to how you see other people functioning. There is usually an undercurrent of judgement in these conversations. You might roll your eyes at the absurdity of their decisions because the results of their choices will so obviously be bad. The words of "I tried to tell them...." are always on the tip of your tongue and ready to be deployed when we can all agree they've made a mess of things. 

So what is the best way to proceed? Do we have an obligation to correct the errors of their ways? Should we hold our tongues and just be there if things fall apart or celebrate when things go well?

What's our responsibility in relationships with people when our interaction with God's truth leads us to different conclusions? 

Jesus was given the impossible task of taking the entirety of the Jewish scriptures and reducing them to its very core. Jesus identified love as our rule and God, self and our neighbors as the direction of that love. While the command is clear, how we walk out that command is complex and challenged by our lack of understanding of ourselves, of God and of others. 


To Be Honest:: Subjective vs. Objective Truth

May 1, 2018

Have you ever heard a child mispronounce a word and find it so adorable you never bothered to correct them? 

Allow the full grown adult version of one such child let you know about the pitfalls of this decision. 


These are the paper (or cloth if you're fancy) devices used to clean up any sort of mess and are most commonly used during meals. Many of you would have corrected me and said that it's actually "napkins". "N" and "M" sound DANGEROUSLY similar and it's an honest mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. 

My family let it slide for the sake of their own entertainment. 

Fast forward to a young child in the public school system asking for another "mapkin". My peers found this to be less adorable and more hysterical.

This was made more hilarious to them with my insistence that they were called mapkins. 

I had always called them mapkins. I asked for a mapkin at home and I was handed one. It was often my job to put the mapkins on the table before dinner. My parents told me to put the mapkin in my lap when we ate out. 

I quickly learned that the rest of my social world called them napkins and I was the one who was wrong. When I confronted my family on this revolutionary truth and the horrible mistake we had all been making for years, I found myself to be all alone. They knew. They weren't calling them mapkins annnnnnywhere else. 

I had a subjective truth that was shattered by the objective truth. Subjective truths are the ones that appear true from your vantage point. Objective truths are true regardless of your vantage point. Regardless of who you are or where you grew up these things are true. 

Do you know people who present their subjective truths as objective truths? It's something that happens a lot and many times we don't know we're doing it until we encounter people who challenge our assumptions of subjective truth. 

Most of us live, hang out and work with people who share our subjective truth. In that setting discovering objective truth is nearly impossible. 


To Be Honest:: How Honesty Bounces Off of Truth

April 24, 2018

How many movies has Tom Cruise been in? 
How many free throws did Lebron James make in 2014? 
What's the capital of Tunisia? 
What's Pi to the 10th digit? 


The beauty of these questions and the internet is that there are clear and easily accessible answers. You can disagree with the answers, but they aren't really up for debate. There is an objective truth that exists for these questions. The answers don't change based on who you are, where you're from or what your faith tradition is. And I am confident if I made a mistake with any one of those answers, someone will correct me! 

What's so comforting about objective truth is that the answers don't change unless they change for everyone. Later this year Tom Cruise will release another movie and the number of films he's been in will climb to 51. While the information changes, it changes across the board. There is clarity and simplicity in this information.

Why do innocent people suffer? 
How does God answer prayer? 
What happens after we die? 
 How should Christians vote? 


These questions are cut from a different cloth. Google doesn't link you to 20,000,000 results that all say the same thing when you type these questions in. 

Now, I believe that there are objectively true answers to all these questions, but what is my relationship to that truth? Do I speak about this truth the same way I speak about statistical or geographical facts? 

You certainly can speak about these questions with the same certainty that you talk about the capital of Tunisia. Many people do. There can be something comforting when people bring the same clarity to the ambiguous questions of life and faith. It takes it from the category of complexity to the category of simplicity and we could all use a bit more simplicity in our lives. 

The problems comes when the complexity of life challenges the simplicity of answers we've been given or we discovered on our own. 

Can there be absolute truth in the universe and can we not have a complete grasp of it? What comfort and what conflict do we create when we treat complex questions like simple questions? What's the role of honesty in the midst of differing versions of "truth"?


The Cascade Journey: Where We’re At

April 20, 2018

When you were younger did you avoid the ever-present threat of cracks in the sidewalk? 

I guess it really depends on your relationship with your mother. What responsibility did you feel for the health of her back

It was a silly game to play when walking was an evil necessity between the much more enjoyable parts of life. At least for me, life was periods of enjoyable times interrupted by the boring stuff. I jumped from destination to destination trying to maximize fun and minimize the mundane. This way of living idealized birthday parties, holidays and outings to be the true living. This had the impact of building my expectations higher and higher for the next event while simultaneously making more and more of my life a thing to be avoided. 

As I get older the appeal of the highlights is still there, but it's dimmed some. The periods of time of normalcy are more interesting. 

Part of this is linked to valuing life as a journey where every step matters, not a series of escalating fun experiences that matter more and more. With this shift has been the opening up of seeing God in more and more places I couldn't see God before. I'm trying to be more aware of what God is doing in the little things, than only being able to see God in the big things. 

I don't need games to pass the time between more enjoyable or important things, I am able to see God in the cracks that I once tried to avoid. 

This journey mentality is one that we want to share with you about Cascade this Sunday. Our story isn't one that involves a place we started, a place we are at today and a place we are going. It's a step by step journey that involves success and failures as we seek to see the values God's called us to follow after become more and more evident in our midst. We want to value each step in the journey and value each person that's led to join us in the journey. 

My prayer is that you'll be part of the journey. We're better with you. 


Word Made Flesh:: John 21

April 10, 2018
When I played basketball my freshman year of high school our coach gave us some great advice about taking free throws. 

He had us all develop a free throw shooting routine that we would do before taking the shot. You could take a couple of dribbles, pat the ball twice before shooting. You could rotate the ball backwards and bounce it back to yourself before taking a shot. 

Mine was five little dribbles, one spin on the palm of my hand and then take the shot. 

The thinking behind it was sound. 

When you play high school basketball every hoop is 10 feet tall and you're shooting from 15 feet away. The differences in gyms you play in, however, are completely unique. Some have huge banners hanging behind the hoop, some have bleachers, some have no room at all. 

The point of the routine is to trigger your muscle memory so that you can block out the differences and focus on the similarities. Even today, if you had me shoot a free throw I'd probably start the little routine out of habit. 

There's something so helpful and calming about routines that remind us that things are the same even when they feel very different. At there best these kinds of tricks bring us back to the present moment and remind us that so much is the same even when it feels all different. The presence of God is with us even when it seems like everything else is turned on its head.

At their worst, our routines try to recapture something that doesn't exist anymore. We exit the present moment and retreat into the comfort of old patterns that allow us to avoid the world around us. God takes a back seat and our memories take the front seat. 

This week we'll be looking at Peter going back to fishing after the death and resurrection of Jesus. What's present in Peter's return to the profession he knew after everything should have changed for him. 


Easter Sunday 2018

April 2, 2018

The tomb is empty. 

It's one of the briefest and most confusing statements of joy ever spoken. They went to mourn and their confusion went from the smallest spark of hope into a roaring fire of joy. With Christ our visits to the places of deepest mourning bring us encounters with new life. Like Spring, it keeps bursting forth from the dead to remind us that God is still working. 

We are invited not just to observe the resurrection, but participate. What else is yearning for new life? What other tombs need to be discovered as empty? What hope needs renewal? 

As a child Easter was saying "thank you" for a gift I didn't ask for. It wasn't that I wasn't grateful, it was just that I didn't understand. God made me, but I was born steeped in sin and that meant an eternity spent in Hell. Fortunately God thought that was a bad idea, so he sent his son to die and now I don't have to go to Hell. 

It felt like a massive drama where my mortal soul was at stake, but I was ultimately an observer. My role was to find the tomb empty and celebrate the life of Jesus or spend all the days after my death being tortured by the Devil. 

What if the empty tomb is an invitation to partner in the act of resurrection? What if it isn't as much about observation as it is about participation? What else is God inviting us to see brought back to life? What part of our relationships, dreams and even our very selves are being called to partner with Jesus in coming back to life? 


The Church in America:: An Evening with David Congdon

March 29, 2018

This is a conversation that occured with a small group of Cascade folks and David Congdon, an author and theologian, about the church in America. What is Evangelicalism and how did it come to be? 


Word Made Flesh::John 12

March 20, 2018

 would have thought it was wasteful. 

I would have whispered that she was out of control. 

I would have had to look away. 

I would have asked how she got in the room and when we could get back to what we had been doing. ]

I would have shamed her. 

Mary pouring out a bottle of perfume on the feet of Jesus that cost the equivalent of one year's salary would have done me in. I wouldn't have handled it gracefully, I would have been on the wrong side of the issue back when it happened and maybe even today. 

I don't usually do well with extravagance and that kind of deep appreciation. Write a kind note or grab a Starbucks card. You don't have to go overboard. 

But what can we learn about celebration from this story that we might have become separated from? What can we learn about showing God and others how much we care and appreciate even when it looks over-the-top? How can we start loving with greater levels of abandon? 


Word Made Flesh:: John 11

March 12, 2018

I enjoy deadheading roses. 

There's not a lot of thinking that is required and when you have a lot of roses it's a task that can keep you going for hours. If you're not familiar with what deadheading, it's when you turn on some Grateful Dead and eat some Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia while sitting in your rose garden. 

Well, it could be!!

It's actually where you cut the flower that has already bloomed and fallen away from the bush. It's an essential process in roses if you want there to be additional blooms. If you don't deadhead roses you'll get rose hips, which is great for making tea, but it won't help you get any more blooms. 

The rose hips contain seeds to create more rose bushes. These little pods take an incredible amount of energy from the rose bush and they actively block any more flowers from blooming. A part of the rose bush has to die and be removed so that the energy from the plant can be utilized into creating more flowers. 

This week we're going to be looking at death and resurrection. In a fascinating and shocking story from the Bible, a man named Lazarus who has been dead so long he's starting to stink from decomposition is called back to life. This pattern of death and resurrection is a major clue to where the story of Jesus is heading. 


Word Made Flesh:: John 8

March 5, 2018

The story from John that we're looking at this week ends with the statement, "go now and leave your life of sin". 

Based on our different church upbringing and backgrounds, this question can be either incredibly freeing or triggering. The story of the women caught in adultery is a BEAUTIFUL description of a women being reinstated back into her community. However, the statement still remains "go now, and leave your life of sin".  Are you like me that wants to skip this part of the story and scan Instagram instead, or are you pumped by the honesty and straightforwardness of the question?