Post-Easter Reflection – Looking Back on this Year’s Lent

It’s interesting how the year looks from when Lent begins and how Easter passes. Our New England winter was quite the metaphor moving from a cold, dark snowy winter, to an even colder, darker, snowier one that showed no signs of ending. Then … finally (some) warmth and light.

Every Lent, every Advent, everything, should be different in some way from one year to another. In my mind if one can be copy and pasted to another, one probably didn’t gain much from it. It should be different because despite how monotonous and tiresome things might feel, in actuality, life is different.

In light of that, my Lenten experience was marked by a number of things:

– First the spiritual – the movie Frozen ; I know, I know, but our entire family unabashedly loved it. Hearing our two year old singing, “Let it Go” every morning will always bring a smile to my face.

– A more spiritual highlight has been observing our boys understand more and more of the Easter story. We have been intentional about not being overly graphic and this year we focused on how Jesus loved us by giving life to all those who believe in him (substitutionary atonement can wait til next year).

– Lent was filled with many wonderful moments as well. Two dear friends of mine had children born in the same week. Both families each have their own stories – both wonderful and incredible and I can’t be happier for them.

– If I can go back to another movie, this Lent was also influenced by the movie Noah and the more I think [Read more…]

What I Hope to Get Out of #QNashville This Year

(I wrote this on the plane out here to the Q Conference – haven’t got the chance to post til now)

As I’ve said about most events I attend, I think it’s really important to consider what you hope to gain from the experience. Last year, I was feeling a bit more sarcastic. This year has been pretty hectic and I feel the possibility of going through the motions here. So being intentional about being present and open to receive what the Lord shows me feels necessary and a part of faithful stewardship.

Some first thoughts heading out: I’m not completely settled on being in Nashville. Why Nashville, Gabe? It’s the home of so much of the sub-culture that I … hmm, what word am I looking for … “hate” feels too strong, “am annoyed by” feels a bit light, I don’t know but Nashville feels like it’s contributed to the problem of the Christian sub-culture. I’m sure people will tell me I have it all wrong, there are some really great pockets of counter-culture, etc. I don’t deny this but it’s probably also true for places like Cleveland as well but I doubt Q is headed there ;) (Umm, no offense Cleveland).

In any case, I’m excited that I will likely walk away gaining something completely different from what I initially thought – I welcome this. And sometimes the gain comes months down the road. Still, it’s good to consider what gained up front.

My first two years there, I remember so many of the presentations simply blowing my mind. “I never knew that, thought of that, or cared about that!” In more recent years, I’ve stopped hoping/looking/waiting for that. I find that I risk objectifying/sensationalizing each presenter/presentation. And it’s a poor stewardship.

So here’s what I hope to get:

1. I want to get deeper into the conversation of “serving the common good.”  Some call is the missional church conversation, the justice conversation, Kingdom living, whatever. I want to learn, do, grow, and show others what it means to serve in Jesus’ name for the sake of others, without strings attached.

2. Catching up with friends. Even though I spend countless hours on the phone, I am admittedly terrible at staying in touch. I’m somewhat comforted by the fact that many others are too. But the reality is that you really can’t be great friends with everyone and the great thing is there are wonderful people and allies all over the place. So I’m looking forward to catching up with great friends, making new ones, spending time with allies and having amazing conversations with some people that I may never see again.

3. Though I’m not crazy about adding more books to my reading list, discovering new writers, blogs, sites, etc. is of great value to me. I like to have a sense of what’s out there and I like to be stretched.

4. I can’t relate to everything that is being presented, but it’s good for me to raise my awareness at least on a general level of certain topics and issues that are not in the center of my radar. It’s also interesting to me how through the years, your heart finds an appreciation for certain topics you previously found disconnected/uninterested from.

5. As one who feels his calling is to serve those disenchanted with the Church, specifically the Over-Churched and the Under-Churched, Q is one of the best post-evangelical conversations I have found. Anything I can gain on this front would be so worthwhile to me and to those I serve.

If you’re reading this and attending Q, what are you hoping to gain from our time this year. In the meantime, know that I would love to connect. Find me on Twitter @tg24 or in line for coffee or email me.


The Link to my guest-post on The “Boston Marathon Tragedy and Holy Week”

Last week I wrote a post called, “The Boston Marathon Tragedy and Holy Week” on our Grace Chapel staff blog “Deeper Closer Wider.”

Here’s the intro:

“We find ourselves in the middle of Holy Week one year since the Boston Marathon bombings and I can’t help but see the similarities of the innocent dying at the hands of evil men.

What is it about our depraved hearts that allow for such a propensity to hurt people we don’t even know? How does one convert their soul to follow a self-righteous philosophy of hate, pain and death? What possible narrative could have been created that would have deluded one into thinking such actions contained any virtue or honor? How does one build a bomb whose sole purpose is to kill people cheering for their family and friends at a marathon of all places??”

You can read the rest of the post here.

Why Does God Drown the World? Still Reflecting on Noah – Post 4

I keep thinking and blogging about the movie Noah and have found it to be an appropriate exercise throughout Lent. If you are just stopping in, welcome and consider this your spoiler alert. If you’d like some earlier context, check out earlier posts “Presuppositions and Expectations – Post 1″ & “The Complexity of Calling – Post 2″ and “Justice, Mercy and the Awkward Moment with Ham – Post 3.”

I remember the first time I saw the trailer for Noah and seeing the incredible special effects of the water and destruction. My next thought was something like: “Oh no, now I have to process why God drowned humanity again.”

My second thought was they got Russell Crowe to play Noah so either Kirk Cameron just led him to Jesus [Read more…]

Justice, Mercy and that Awkward Moment with Ham – Reflecting on Noah Post 3

I keep thinking and blogging about the movie Noah and have found it to be an appropriate exercise throughout Lent. If you are just stopping in, welcome and consider this your spoiler alert. If you’d like some earlier context, check out earlier posts “Presuppositions and Expectations – Post 1″ & “The Complexity of Calling – Post 2.”

By far my favorite part of Noah was the tension between justice and mercy. The plot twist of watching a Noah who has either gone mad or is truly convinced that the Creator has called him to consider such extreme action is powerful to say the least. Now we know that Noah is not actually going to kill [Read more…]

The Complexity of Calling – Reflecting on Noah Post 2

Spoiler alert: If you’re like Frank Castanza and need to go in the movie “fresh” then stop reading.
If you haven’t seen it but already engaged, I’ll do my best to not to ruin it completely for you. If you’ve seen it, would love to discuss.

As mentioned previously, I really liked the movie Noah but among my complaints was that it moved slow. Sometimes the slowness of a movie works like with  Drive. But in this case, it was slow and it was difficult to figure out how much time had passed between scenes. If I see it again, maybe I’ll feel different.

I also found the need for the hallucinogens to be annoying as well. I just don’t understand why they were needed to produce Noah’s visions? Earlier in the movie, Noah’s wife, Naameh sprinkles some hallucinogenic pixie dust to help him sleep resulting in his first vision. Then his grandfather Methuselah gives him a drug and he has another. Now my family works a little different but I’ll avoid judging.

My question is why don’t Naameh and Methuselah drug themselves and “vision-check” Noah. “Yes, we too [Read more…]

“Pre-suppositions & Expectations” – Reflecting on Noah Post 1

The other night, my wife and I went to see the new movie Noah. In short, I liked quite a bit about it which I want to share why but it seems most helpful to begin with pre-suppositions and expectations.

If you need a literal re-telling of the Noah story found in say, the NIV/KJV, I’m not sure I know of a movie to recommend. From what I know, all attempts for a literal re-tellings of Scripture come off comical, boring or flat (as in lacking of any creative imagination). I’m not sure any serious reader of Scripture will ever be completely pleased in a screen adaptation of scenes in the Bible.

As I mentioned in my Facebook post:

”…Frankly, it’s very difficult for me to be satisfied with any piece of art that is describing, re-creating, painting, telling, interpreting our sacred Scriptures. Everything from sermon to canvas to film falls short. So given that, what goodness can be found then? And though things like Last Temptation of Christ and “Piss Christ” are offensive, oddly enough, I think this is where some Christian art has failed us as well – because many have settled for a boring and flat retelling of events that our mind’s eye does a far better job with than their storytelling, cinematography, etc. SO, Noah was actually really good for me (not “perfect” mind you). Ok, blog post coming.”

In thinking about this, I found myself wondering why I even wanted to see this movie. It’s wrought with controversy, I don’t need any more and after an intense week, I could really use a laugh. Frankly, would this be worthwhile for the trouble it might cause? I’ll get to that.

Like most, I desire to be fluent with various aspects of culture – you cannot say you love people and [Read more…]