Archive for January, 2005

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Janet Jackson: Child of God

January 29, 2005

It’s that time of year again. That’s right, Superbowl time. Sadly, neither my beloved Colts nor Janet Jackson will be making an appearance this year. With that said, it is time for a confession. To some, this is not new information. To others, well, let’s put it this way, you may never look at me the same way again.

I, Adria Lenore Lambert, love Janet Jackson. Unashamedly. I love Janet (Miss Jackson if you’re nasty) for several reason. First of all, “dang Gina (said with inner city Chicago attitude), that girl can straight tear up the dance floor!” Dancing is a thing of beauty and JJ is an architect of dance. If you have never seen a JJ video, I suggest you take one in at some time. Preferably an earlier video such as “Miss You Much” or “Rhythm Nation.” My personal favorite is “If”, but it is a bit racy, if you’re picking up what I’m putting down. Any dancing that you see in almost any music video today is influenced in one way or another by Janet Jackson, or her brother (not Tito). Secondly, I admire her talent, her creativity and her work ethic. It’s hard work to make the wardrobe malfunction happen at just the right time. It takes hours of rehearsal, not to metion the time spent getting that pasty to stick well, and in the right place. Seriously though, she is a hard-working lady. If I would trade my 20 something body for her 40 something body, she’s got to be a hard worker. Dancers are by nature.

Finally, and more seriously, I love Janet Jackson because Jesus does. I’ve prayed for Janet Jackson. I pray for famous people (Lauryn Hill, Tim McGraw, Patty Griffin, Madonna, just to name a few). They are such influencers of culture. We have to be praying for them. Laugh if you will, but I’m completely serious. There is good inside Janet. She is a socially conscious, compassionate, loving person. Unfortunately, she hasn’t lent herself musically to these pursuits as much since the “Rhythm Nation” album that came out in 1989, exept for a few tracks from her other albums collectively. Those few songs have been overshadow by an overt and unabashed sexuality that caught the eyes of an entire nation one year ago this week. People who were suprised by the “unveiling” during the last Superbowl are completely ignorant of the world in which they live. This is one of the main reasons why the church is so ineffective in America: ignorance of the broken humanity that we are a part of and of how to effectively marry it to Jesus. Ignorance is bliss, but it doesn’t forcefully advance the Kingdom of God. As I watched the end of the half-time show last year, my heart broke, but not for the millions watching, not for those in the Christian ghettos around this country whose ignorance was shattered. My heart broke for Janet Jackson, because she’s been treated as less than she is worth. Because her father was an emotionally distant and hard man. Because she grew up with all eyes watching her, but with no one watching out for her soul.

“Do you love me? Feed my sheep.” -Jesus [John 21:17]

“We are in a race between education and catastrophe.” -H. G. Wells [quoted by Janet Jackson in the interlude to “The Knowlege”]

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it IS fun to stay at the YMCA!

January 20, 2005

I have a new addiction. Yes, it’s true. I’m addicted to the YMCA. I didn’t grow up near a YMCA, so since the song was pretty cheesy, I guess I just thought the Y had to be cheesy, too. Not so. The Y is great for several reasons.

#1 – Income-based membership. Does it get much better than this? Well, free would be unbelievable, but this really is the next best thing. I’ve decided to dub this “YMCA Welfare”. This means that since I make around $10,500 a year, I can work out at the Y for $27 a month, as apposed to $43. Full membership benefits included.

#2 – Showers with the best water pressure, EVER. Plus, the shower at the Y means my apartment’s water bill is lower.

#3 – The Y is not intimidating, like a gym. I can be chubby me and feel right at home. I’m not against really pretty, skinny, tan girls, but I do like that they are at an all time minimum at the Y. I’m much more comfortable working out next to soccer moms, even if they are 15 years older than me and in better shape.

#4 – This Wednesday’s workout provided me with a few more reasons to love the Y. This past Wednesday I found myself on the eliptical machine for 35 minutes, head phones on, tuned to American Idol. It is in the early stages of the show, which is the best part because you get to watch all these really bad singers who think they are really good. They think this mostly because their friends and family tell them they are good enough to be on the show. Clearly, these people need to get new friends and relatives. It was oddly enjoyable to be working out next to older generations and to join with them in laughing at my own. From the eliptical machine I moved on to 30 minutes on the treadmill, next to girl, probably a little younger than me, who has down’s syndrom. She asked me where I got my radio. My radio is new. It’s about 2 inches by 2 inches and is only an FM radio with a scan function. I told her that I got it for one dollar at Walmart. She thought it was the coolest thing ever, and we talked for a bit while walking. Honestly, the radio is piece of junk. But her approval of it gave it so much worth. She was a great reminder to me of all that I have been given, and I am grateful for her presence. As I left the Y she was leaving with the friend that she had come with, a pretty, skinny, blonde haired girl a little older than me, and I was grateful for all that she had been given, too.

“…our brokenness reveals something about who we are. Our sufferings and pains are not simply bothersome interruptions of our lives; rather, they touch us in our uniqueness and our most intimate individuality. The way I am broken tells you something unique about me. The way you are broken tells me something unique about you.”

Henri Nouwen [Life of the Beloved]

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Blue Like Jazz

January 13, 2005

Tonight, Donald Miller, the author of Blue Like Jazz, was speaking at the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville. A group of us went to together to hear him read some of his writings and answer some questions. We thought if we got there at 6:30 pm for the 7:00 pm start that it would be plenty of time. The Belcourt is a small theatre that only seats about 300 people. It was free, but regardless of that fact, I believe we were all a bit suprised by the turn out. We didn’t get in for the 7:00 pm start. There wasn’t any room. Donald agreed to do another engagement at 9:00 pm to satisfy the demand, and that engagement was also a packed house. The theatre actually cancelled the showing of a movie that was supposed to happen after he spoke at 7:00.

If that isn’t enough reason for everyone to read this book, well, then you are skeptical and stubborn and not wholly unlike myself. I read Blue Like Jazz back in October and was quickly and easily drawn in to the writing of Donald Miller. “Real” and “authentic” are two current buzz words among Christian circles today and also in the greater American culture. I would like to take a moment and think of different words to describe Donald’s writing….okay, got them. Honest and beautiful. It is honest because, well, it is honest. He makes no attempt to cover the messiness of life with simple cliches or pad Christian answsers. In fact, this book might be more about discovering that we have a myriad questions rather than finding the answers. He said that reading Anne Lamott’s “Traveling Mercies” gave him the courage to right honestly. Anne’s writing, I will speculate, is not palatable to most of the Christian sub-culture, although she is very much a follower of Christ. She and Donald both write in a way that makes us okay with our messiness and the messiness of others and reminds us that life is a process of constant re-creation. It is beautiful because reading this book is like following the melody of a song. The words are strung together with such seeming ease that it is very easy to forget that you are reading at all, but feels rather like you are listening to a song so beautiful that you cannot tear yourself away from listing to it. Many times I have sat in my car in a driveway or a parking lot to finish listening to the song that is on the radio or the current track on a cd, because I cannot tear myself away from the power or beauty of the song. I kind of have this complex, too, that when I turn a song off in the middle of a track (a good song, like Patty Griffin’s “Forgiveness”) that I am somehow being really rude to the artist. It is weird. Go ahead and think it. Anyway, that is what reading this book was like for me. Just like listening to a beautful song.

I got to meet Donald afterwards and he signed my copy of Blue Like Jazz. I was the last one in line and as I approached the desk he was sitting at, I saw a familiar face. It was Kyle, one of the publishers at Thomas Nelson. Thomas Nelson published Erwin McManus’ last three books and also publishes Donald Millers writing. Anyway, I had met with Kyle in October about possible opportunities to write and more so for advice about writing. Kyle and I chatted for a few seconds and then he introduced me to Donald. So that was pretty cool.

All that to say, buy this book, read it and pass it on to everyone.

“The goofy thing about Christian faith is that you believe it and don’t believe it at the same time. It isn’t unlike having an imaginary friend. I believe in Jesus; I believe He is the Son of God, but every time I sit down to explain this to somebody I feel like a palm reader, like somebody who works at a circus or a kid who is always making things up or somebody at a Star Trek convention who hasn’t figured out that the show isn’t real.

Until.

When one of my friends becomes a Christian, which happens about every ten years because I am such a sheep about sharing my faith, the experience is euphoric. I see in their eyes the trueness of the story.”

-Donald Miller [Blue Like Jazz-pg. 51]

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Welcome to the New Storehouse

January 3, 2005

Hey, if you’re here, you got the message that I moved my writings. Welcome! Leave a comment if you want to and let me know you found it. Enjoy looking around. I’ll be adding more stuff at a rolling rate.

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An Open Letter from John

January 1, 2005

December 2, 2004

An open letter to the Mosaic:Nashville Launch Team
and all the saints watching, praying, hoping, and cheering for us –

What an incredible time the last few months have been! Dizzying, exhausting, frightening, exhilarating, filled with uncertainty, hope, desperation, pain, joy, laughter, tears, sweat – I’ve never been on a journey like this. It is above me, it is beyond my own capacities – more and more I empathize with the psalmist who wrote, “I faint with longing for your salvation: but I have put my hope in your word. My eyes are straining to see your promises come true. When will you comfort me?” (Psalm 119:81-82).

And yet, is it really so hard? We’re not being tortured or beaten. We’re not starving. We have places to live, clothes to wear, food to eat. Our children are healthy and strong, our lives are self-paced, and we live in a country where we can express our faith openly and without fear of reprisal from our government.

I think the answer is no . . . and yes. We have chosen a path less traveled. We have traded upward for downward mobility. We have checked out of the modern American Dream of more and better, of prosperity and personal rights, we have relinquished our positions at the center of our universe and yielded to God’s higher purposes. By choosing to see life through spiritual eyes, our goals are different, our motives are different, and we are set apart from the world around us even as we must still function in everyday life. We’re dancing to a song in our head while those around us are dancing to the music from the band onstage – people stare and wonder, “what you’re thinking, are you crazy, can’t you hear the beat? You’re not dancing right!” We don’t quite fit.

Good. That’s exactly what God has in mind – that’s why He says “don’t conform, be transformed.” Jesus danced to a different tune, his Father’s song, and the melody and harmonies of faith, love, and hope caused his steps to go against the grain. He stepped on people’s toes, he whirled and twirled with fishermen, prostitutes, priests, beggars, politicians, the lame, thieves, terrorists, the blind, the uber-rich – he extended an invitation to dance a different dance to everyone who intersected his path. Some accepted and were transformed – they heard a new song. Some resisted and were swept along, trying to dance to two different beats, never quite succeeding and always wondering what was wrong. Some rejected his invitation, choosing the easier, uglier steps of self-serving, self-pleasing, self-destruction.

So here we are – a vagabond troupe of dancers, strangers in a strange land. We’ve found our places, we’ve begun to figure each other out, how we move, what motivates us. Now the curtain rises and our ballet enters into the danse de caractère, where our character, our mettle, our nerve, and our motives will be tested. God has provided us an opportunity to dance together right in the cultural epicenter of Nashville. 1525 McGavock Street is 6000 square feet of blank canvas and stage, a place where we can gather together the broken and fragmented people around us and invite them to dance to the song of God, to enter into the embrace of Jesus and begin life anew. A place where creativity has a home, where diversity is more than just an idea, where grace flows freely and easily and all are welcome. Thank you Lord, for you are good, and your love endures forever!

Fellow Insurrectionists, this is the hard part, the darkness before the dawn. We have signed a lease that requires faith, sacrifice, and the kindness of others outside of our band to honor for the next year. We have a lot of hard work to do to prepare this space, including being scroungers and innovators for resources. We have to resist the urges to return to the mindset that says, “now that we have a worship service, I don’t have to reach out anymore.” Now is the time to set our gaze firmly on why we are here. I like our chances, for we have learned that God is sufficient. We have seen Him at work changing lives around us in the absence of buildings, lights, music, and the other trappings of the modern church. We have worked with nothing but the Gospel, passion, and a couple of picnic tables, and we have marveled at His power in our midst. How much more amazing will the coming days be, as we augment rather than supplant our stripped-to-the-essence insurrectionist attitude with the arts, with a roof over our heads, with a gathering place. I’m giddy with excitement at the possibilities.

Here’s what you can do –

– Pray without ceasing. Pray for the people around you who need a new dance partner. Pray for the Lead Team, for the Launch Team, for those who come alongside and join us on this journey. Pray for resources, for gifts of money, furniture, sound gear, paint, anything we may need in the coming days. Tell Him thank you over and over again.

– Keep your eyes open to the spiritual things happening around you. Divine moments are swarming around us right now, waiting for us. What conversations can you begin, what questions can you ask, what blows can you strike against the darkness today? Who around you is just an invitation away from seizing her own divine moment?

– Make the saints you know aware of our need. Allow them the opportunity to support us however they can. We need $4000 by January 5, $2500 for each month following, and money and resources to prepare and use the building.

– Support the Space Team. Tym de Santo, Bryan Clark, and Elizabeth Shanklin are the brain trust charged with preparing our space for use. Any ideas you have, any time you have to give in preparing our space, let them know.

– Put on your scrounger hat. Don’t let a single sofa or chair escape without a hard look. Be on the lookout for rogue paint, building materials, cleaning supplies, sound gear.

– Let us know what you do. Do you paint, sew, play an instrument, sing, wrestle, dance, write, act, joke, build, clean – what do you do? Let us know.

We’re aiming for a Launch date of January 9th. Like I said, what exciting times! I’m so blessed to get to be a part of this team. I love being your pastor. God bless us, every one.

Pressing forward, always forward . . .