Archive for February 2012

It’s the Mormons. Don’t Hide.

I had an encounter that is fresh in my mind (as of only 10 minutes ago), so I want to jot it down in this blog post. It has to do with my conversation with two Mormon young adults at my front door. Before I go any further…I am making no statement (direct or indirect) regarding Mit Romney’s bid for the presidency of the United States. I have no comments to be made to that end. This is only a retelling of a simple story with interesting implications.

I saw two similarly dressed young men walking on my street while I was washing dishes (yes, my wife is away this week but that’s besides the point…I DO wash dishes!). Immediately my defenses rose up and I gave thought to hiding and ignoring the knock on the door. I even told my kids to not answer it (don’t judge me…we’ve all done it before). Minutes passed with no knock. I thought I dodged a bullet.

Then two figures darted in fronts of my kitchen window, bounding towards my front door.  They saw me! Uggg. Knock. Knock. I know who’s there.

Rather than ignoring it though, I opened the door and greeted them kindly. We talked about the erratic weather and then they introduced themselves as Elders So-and-So. If they are the “elders” then I don’t feel so weird being called “Senior” Pastor.

Before they could launch into their presentation, I invited them in for lunch (I was just making a sandwich). They had already eaten and declined. I then asked them if they were a part of the “Ward on Eola Drive” Yes, indeed they were. I went on to describe that my church is right across the street from that Ward and that I am the pastor. I love what transpired next.

They said: “You are the pastor of the Foursquare church?”

“We know that church. Wait, you’re the pastor?”

Yes.

“We hear that’s a fun church.” the young man said.

I replied: “Yes, it is. We kick it up.”

“That’s what we hear. There must be a lot of people that go there because so many folks we talk to on our walks say they attend that church.” said the other young man.

“Well, yah, lots of folks come to West Salem Foursquare and we do have fun together.” I replied.

Our conversation wrapped up with them asking if there was anything they could do for me. I should have mentioned that my wife is out of town visiting family, and that the laundry was piling up something fierce, but I didn’t.

I thanked them. Smiled, and then sent them on their way to knock on the doors of other West Salem Foursquare folks (ok, that’s wishful thinking…but we do want to reach our entire city, right?!?).

If they should knock on your door, keep these few things in mind:

• They are people loved by God.

• They want to serve and be helpful.

• They are on a mission to communicate a particular message. I believe that message is contrary to the whole of the Bible. But, they are not the devil so don’t treat them as such. Show love. Invite them in for a sandwich if you are comfortable and strong enough spiritually to have tough theological conversations.

• They are trained to refute, debate, and argue specific points and you and I may feel like we’re ill-equipped to do that without getting buried. If you’re new to Jesus, I don’t recommend getting into those discussions – you’ll probably loose or feel stupid.

• If you say “I’m a Christian” then they are told to say, “Us too” and attached themselves to a number of key tenants of our Christian faith. That’s all fine and dandy, but there are simply too many aspects that don’t line up with Judeo-Christian beliefs to say “We’re the same.”

• Be kind. They will know we are Christians by our love, not by the way we snarl and slam the door on them. I have to bet they get a bunch of them on any given day. Don’t be that person.

• Lastly, I love how they defined our church as “fun.” That made me smile. Grace should look and feel like that.

Good Flight, Huh?

On an Alaska Airlines hopper flight from Seattle to Kalispell, Montana I sat next to a kind, older gentleman. We introduced ourselves quickly and I found him to be a downright pleasant man. When the refreshment cart came to us he asked the attendant how long the flight would be roughly. She answered him, he pondered for a moment and then said, “Thanks. That’ll work…I guess I’ll have the complimentary beer then.” He didn’t want to be tipsy when he got home.

It made me chuckle.

He then asked me what my “e-lec-tronic thing” was. I explained that it was an iPad made by Apple. I think he was impressed…or, frankly, couldn’t have cared less. Not sure.

Then came the moment to settle in with a movie and my drink (no, not the beer…I’m a Ginger Ale man on flights). What followed was my universally understood (so I thought) indicator that I was not “open for business”; that I wanted to sit quietly and privately (as private as one can be in a cattle car)!

That indicator was the insertion of my earbuds.

I tried to drown out the engines roar and various conversations around me with my headphones. I wasn’t up for chit-chat, but my seat-mate didn’t get that memo. He would periodically ask me a question or make a general comment. I could have ignored him, but I chose not to. He was too nice of a guy. So I would pull out the earbuds, ask him to repeat himself, and then we would chat for a bit.

Rinse and Repeat. This went on for a few rounds until he wore himself out and fell asleep.

I was glad to see him dose off, until…

…he extended his right leg fully over the invisible barrier of my foot space.  I thought, “Hmmm, yep, that’s his blue jean covered leg touching mine; pressing me right out into the isle. I’m gonna loose a toe from a passing cart.”

I gave the leg a slight nudge with my knee but it didn’t budge. He was tired and so friendly, so I let it slide for the remainder of the flight. It wasn’t until we had landed that the leg wiggled it’s way back into its own territory with a stretch, a yawn, and a “Good flight, huh?”

Yep. Good indeed. 

As I reflect now, God was lovingly reminding me to be open to interruptions and encroachments upon my time and personal space. Ministry often happens in these simple moments. Joy is to be discovered in the mundane. Life is waiting to be exchanged in common and generic situations.

“Good flight, huh?” Yes, it was.

I learned to be more patient somewhere over Boise, Idaho, and by the time the wheels skidded into Kalispell, I wished I had been even more open and available to my flying partner.

Pretty sure I would have been the better man for it.

This is Discipleship