Look Back, Learn From, Let Go, Lean Forward

The prophet Isaiah is encouraging God's people to trust fully, despite the circumstances. He's been saying, "God is with you! You have nothing to fear!" (Isaiah 43:1-3). You see, there's some rough stuff coming Israel's way. And Isaiah is telling them that though it's going to be hard and painful, God will deliver them.

He reminds them of who God is and what God has done (43:16-19). How God has fought for them and delivered them in the past. He reminds them of perhaps the greatest story of their history. How God made a way through the sea, a path through the  might waters, how he drew out the chariots and horses of their attackers and snuffed them out like a wick.

And then, once they've got all that in their minds, the prophet says an interesting thing: Forget it!

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up: do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."

So ... Remember! Look back, learn what you must learn, derive courage and hope from who God is and what He's done. But then ...  let it go!

And when he says "Forget about it!" he's referring to more than just their past triumphs. He's speaking of the past failures as well. "Do not dwell in the past," the God says through the prophet.

Why? Because "I'm doing a new thing!" Can you see it? Cuz if you're looking in the rear view mirror, you may not notice it. If you're stuck in what has been, you may not perceive it.

See, THEN I made a way through the sea. But this is not the sea ... this is the desert.

That was GREAT! But this is different ...  Are you ready for new?

As we enter 2011, I believe that God wants to do something new things in my life, and in your life too. What has been was great. (Or maybe not so much.) But that was then. Will you look back, learn from ... then, let go (of the good AND the bad) and lean forward into what God has for your life this year?


As many of you know, one of our staff members, Carolyn ("Carol") Salvador, is in ICU fighting for her life. Here's the (brief) back story. Carol had an artificial heart valve put in when she was 18. On Monday, December 13, that valve abruptly stopped working. She called 911 at was rushed to Mission Hospital where she was stabilized, then transported to Kaiser Sunset in L.A. where she underwent emergency valve replacement surgery. The surgery went roughly. She apparently coded 3 times, once for 10 minutes.

After coming out of surgery, she continued to bleed internally quite a bit. Went through 9 units of blood that night. They took her back into surgery Tuesday morning and got the bleeding to stop, got all of her vitals back in the green ( all through artificial means). However, she was non responsive. She wouldn't wake up or respond to any stimulation. Obviously that had them quite concerned. They took her in for a CAT Scan Wednesday morning, which didn't reveal anything much. Then an EEG Wednesday afternoon.

As of this writing, Carol is still in very critical condition, so please continue to pray for her healing and full recovery. What follows is a series of updates, as well as comments and prayers for Carolyn. Read or skim as you care to, and feel free to add your own thoughts and prayers as well. We will also be using this site to give updates on Carolyn's condition. If you're looking for the very latest, you can simply click "latest comment" in the comments section, and you will be taken to the end of the string.

Joy in Heartache

This week has made the whole "Joy Experiment" feel ... well ... "weird." A member of our staff is in critical condition after an emergency heart valve replacement, and is hanging on by a thread. It's hard not to feel the weight of that every moment of the day. (Her fight for her life began Monday morning.)

So as I've been planning for Christmas or playing with my kids or picking up last minute gifts, there's an underlying ache and hunger and sadness. A sadness for what my friends are going through. An ache as look at my friend and teammate unconscious, hooked to machines, fighting for her life. A hunger to see God speak into her darkness, call her name, and bring her back to us full of life and vigor. And a longing to see God's kingdom come, once and for all. For death and disease and decay to once and for all be crushed under Christ's foot like the enemies that they are.

But with all that is the thought of ... joy. What does joy mean in times of such pain and struggle? What does joy mean when you're gathered with dozens of friends praying your hearts out for the survival of a loved one? What does it mean that, even (especially) in these moments, "the joy of the Lord is our strength?"

This is certainly no time for a shiny happy, positive thinking, silver lining kind of joy. Not for me, anyway. This is time for a deep, robust, defiant kind of joy. A joy that leans hopefully (even desperately) into God; that cries out for his kingdom to come and waits patiently for it. A joy that prevails against the gates of hell themselves.

But tonight, mostly that joy is a lot like hopeful prayer.

Put On A Happy Face

"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones." (Proverbs 15:30)

Seriously, can merely smiling actually increase your JQ (Joy Quotient)? The answer, apparently, is yes. There's tons of research on this topic now, in the fields of neuroscience and psychology. Apparently, just putting a big grin on your face (note: it has to be the kind of grin that actually gives you "crows feet" around your eyes) stimulates various processes in the brain, both chemical and neurological, that results in an uplift in mood (and health!), even if just for a second! Even if it's FAKE!

Go ahead, give yourself a gift right now: Smile really big at the screen! :) There ... you may not have felt it, but just that sheer "act" has done your body good. (Not to mention, those who have to look at your face all day long!)

Now, we sometimes struggle with this. We don't want to be fake. We want to keep it real. Authentic. And we seem, at times, to behave (and believe) like distress and dissatisfaction and angst are more authentic expressions than gratitude and joy. As if venting our worst possible thoughts and feelings is somehow more "real" than venting our best possible thoughts and feelings.

And I get that. I really do. Emotional authenticity is a huge value for us in the terranova community. And we sure don't desire or intend to become fake, smiley, "shiny happy people."

So our "homework" this week, our challenge for 7 days, was to simply SMILE! and Laugh! But don't do it as a way of avoiding your own emotions, or avoiding honesty. Do it instead in defiance! Be real with yourself about the challenges and pains of your life. But then, in defiance, choose to be grateful and joyful. And in that spirit of defiance, "put on a happy face."

Stick that smiley button somewhere conspicuous. And then, everytime you see it (or think of it) wipe a big ole grin across your face. Do it right now (again)!

The 30 Day Challenge:

We've begun this great new series at TerraNova called "Bucket List: 30 Days to a No Regrets Life." And the series really revolves around a question: "If you knew you only had 30 days to live, what would you do differently?" To give our question some focus, we're looking at the story of Jesus and his final days. How did he live once he knew his time here was short? What can we learn?

And then, of course, comes THE CHALLENGE! "To live these next 30 days as if the were your last." To live and love and learn with no regrets for 30 days. Did you take the challenge? Have you had any "30 Day Moments" where the question hit you and ended up shaping or focusing or changing something you were involved in?

Please hit the "comments" button below, check out what others have shared, and add your own experience to this conversation!

September is LIFEgroup Sign-Up Month!

At TerraNova, we have this huge value that everyone who calls TerraNova "home" would find their way into a regular "face-to-face" environment where they're
     · building great friendships,
     · opening up God's Word and applying it to their lives, and
     · praying for and supporting one another through the stuff of life.

Fall LIFEgroups (including our INSPIRE Women's Studies) begin in October and end in early December, so ... it's a short-term commitment! Then, after the holidays, we'll do this all over again, and you'll have another opportunity to rejoin with your same fall group, or try something new!

And we've got groups from adults all the way down to KIDS! Check out the KidsQuest / Breakout table in the lobby this weekend!

Here's what you need to do next: Check out the listing of our groups on the web or in this weekend's "Fall 2010 LIFEgroups Listing" brochure. Then ...
     · Pick a group!
     · Write the group's # on the tear-off Sign-Up Form
     · Leave your basic contact info (name / email / best phone#)
     · And throw it in the offering basket.


Maybe you've never been in a group before in your life. Maybe you're new to this whole spiritual journey. Or maybe you've been in dozens of groups. Either way, this fall is the PERFECT TIME for you -- and your kids! -- to connect with a LIFEgroup here at TerraNova.

Flashover went to camp!

Just what goes on there?

As the leader of the junior high group at TerraNova, one of my favorite things to do is go to camp.  I had a chance to do just that during the week of August 15-20.  It’s been two weeks since we returned from camp and I’m still thinking about our wonderful experience! 

I love camp because it is a place where God’s presence is always felt.  Moreover, it’s a place where I get to truly witness spiritual and relational growth within Flashover, our youth group.  I realize that many parents don’t really know what goes on at camp, they may only hear bits and pieces from their junior higher.  In the first of what I hope will be several entries about our summer camp experience, I wanted to just give you all a basic description of the nuts and bolts of what a week at Forest Home summer camp actually looks like.  At first I want to simply answer the question, “Just what is my child doing up there during that week-long experience?” 

Worship in the form of music is always one of the highlights during a week at Creekside.  We have music two times each day.  First, it takes place during the Morning Gathering which takes place indoors at Mountain View Hall.  The morning worship is very fitting for the early part of the day.  It tends to be a bit more toned-down and it sets the students’ hearts up for what comes after which is solo time, but more on that later.  Second, nighttime worship music takes place outdoors during the Evening Gathering at the Hopkins Amphitheater.  This worship is very celebratory and the students really get into expressing their love for God.  Often, fellow-leader, John Flagg and I talk about “bringing down the bleachers” during evening worship because there is a lot of dancing, clapping, and all-around appropriate undignified behavior for our Lord!  I often wish, dream, and yearn that the adults at TerraNova would worship like we do at camp on a typical Sunday morning.  God would be pleased.  You might ask your student what they thought about worship music at camp.  Ask them if they found it easy to raise their hands, dance, sing, or simply express their love to God in that environment. 

Another very spiritual aspect of summer camp is the Reflection or Solo Time which takes place every day following breakfast and the Morning Gathering.  During Reflection, students are encouraged to spend 20 minutes away from their friends, totally quiet, out of the cabins, and alone with God.  This is a time to reflect on the messages from the previous Evening Gathering, Morning Gathering, Bible Memory Verses, or simply listen to what God might be saying to a junior higher.  This is a time for reading, journaling, praying, or simply listening.  I personally find this time to be very valuable and extremely energizing.  It is one of my favorite perks about being up at camp with your junior highers.  It is truly a treat to have this undistracted time automatically built into our day when we are up on that mountain.  You might ask your student whether or not they found the “quiet time” with God to be an easy or difficult thing to practice. 

Bible Memory Verse Competition is another daily element of summer camp.  Each night we memorize a Bible verse and then present it as a team at the Evening Gathering.  This is both challenging and fun!  The students have to compete against another team and judges choose the best team effort.  Each night there is a different theme.  Some of the themes include “loud and proud,” “skit,” “hand motions,” and “song.”  If you are curious, the verses for the week were 1 Peter 2:9, Colossians 3:1-3, John 15:5, and Revelation 19:6-7.  You might ask your student if they remember any of the verses from summer camp.  An easier question might be, “Which theme did you enjoy doing the most and why?” 

Those are three very important and three of my favorite aspects of summer camp.  In a future blog I want to tell you about the messages (sermons) and theme for the week.  Additionally, I will blog about some fun things like recreation and free time.  What I really can’t wait to tell you about are the relational aspects of summer camp!  Stay tuned for those. 

I am blessed and honored to serve the youth and families of TerraNova Church!


Great summer reads

The summer of 2010 seems to be moving at warp speed. Before you know it, we'll be hitting labor day weekend, closing out our 10 week teaching series "The Story"  and launching into a great fall season.  But there's still some wonderfully relaxing and valuable days to redeem.  Many of our staff team is 'on location' during the month of August, and maybe you also will get a chance to take time off and get away.  As you do, why not grab a book and throw it in that suitcase with you. The following are some books I'm reading this summer that God is using to speak to me.

THE ONE YEAR BIBLE.  I'm on a reading program taking me throught the entire Bible in a year.  Right now I'm in Jeremiah. It's tough sledding.  We'll actually be covering this period of God's story in the next couple of weeks.  Don't miss it!

THE STARFISH AND THE SPIDER by Rod A Beckstrom.  This is a book about leadership in our wired age.  It emphaszies empowerment, decentralization, and learning together.  Since all of us lead somehow and somewhere, it's valuable to  sharpen those skills. Plus, this book tells you what Al Quaida and Criag's List have in common.

LET MY PEOPLE GO SURFING by Yvon Choinard.  If figures that I have to read a book with "surfing" in the title. Actually, this is the story of Patagonia,  the outdoor clothing company.  If you buy their gear, I bet you are a fan of theirs.  The book speaks a lot about how values shape a culture.  It's fired me up to continue to anchor Terra Nova to the value statements we have.  They are very powerful to me.  Look for Choinard on those American Express ads--he's that old guy climbing rocks and busting dams.

WHEN HELPING HURTS by Brian Fikkert.  Ok, this last one is a great ministry book, which I've asked some of our key incarnation leaders to read together.  it speaks to how we can reach out and help people in ways that point them to the restorative work that God initiates.   You'll be seeing how some of the principles we are discovering in this book will enhance our ability to make God's love famous in South Orange county...and beyond.

Your thots are welcome, as well as your reading list! 




Chapter 3: The Blessing Machine

Chapter 3 opens in the year 2000 BC, in a land that is now modern day Iraq, near the border of Kuwait, and we see the craggy face of a single man: Abram. His name means "Exalted Father," which is ironic, since he has no kids. And God singles out this man — who comes from a long line of idol worshippers — and extends to him the calling and promise of a lifetime:

"Leave all of this," God says. "Leave your homeland, everything you've ever known. Leave your father's house and his idols. Leave the place where you've made a name and a business for yourself. Come away with me. And I will bless you, and I will make you a great nation, and give you a great name, and through you and your family I will bless every other family on earth. Abram, you will become a blessing machine."

And Abram does! He leaves. He follows God into the wild unknown. (When Abram asks God where this land is He's taking Him to, God answers: "I'll tell you when we get there.") And so Abram enters into a journey of faith — learning how to trust God implicitly, regardless of the risk. And God seems at times as interested in shaping Abram's life (who's name he changes to "Abraham" — Father of Many) as he does in rescuing His fallen Creation. As Abraham learns to trust, God blesses. A son ("Isaac" means "He laughs" — Abraham and Sarah highlighting God's sense of humor?), then wealth, strength, influence, joy, honor … And Abraham blesses others in turn.

But as Chapter 3 comes to a close, Abraham's grandson and great-grandchildren and their families move to Egypt to escape a terrible famine. And though they seem hopeful and relieved, we know better. Egypt is the land where they will become slaves. Is this right? Is this what God has in mind for His Blessing Machine?

Chapter 2: The Story of Us

Chapter 2 opens in The Garden of Delight (Eden). God has made a beautiful home for His  newly forming "community" to enjoy each other and Him. The man and the woman are "naked and unashamed" — a picture of simplicity, innocence, vulnerability, authenticity.

But then, there's a serpent. It's sudden appearance strikes a foreboding tone. And the serpent begins to call into question the goodness of God's heart. In a world of "yesses," he points out the singular "no," and manipulates the woman into believing that God has held out on them. She bites, and then her husband does as well. And everything changes.

Shame. Alimentation. Blame. Pain. They hide from each other. They hide from God. And God comes seeking and asking.

What they did not, could not have foreseen or understood, though, was that in that moment, everything "fell." Because of it's intrinsically connected nature — because the whole of creation was made to exist in interdependent unbroken unity — when one part of it fell, the whole of it was sent reeling. The relationship between the man and the woman, their relationship with the earth and its creatures, their relationship with God himself — it becomes "cursed."

This is part of our story for which we need no proof. This is the story we wake up in every morning. Famine, disease, genocide, cancer, birth defects, greed, revenge, spite, envy, divorce, war, natural disasters, death … The masterpiece — and true, we can still see signs of that everywhere as well — has been vandalized. At times, almost beyond recognition. It's … heartbreaking.

As Chapter 2 comes to a close with a downward spiral of darkness and pain, as generation after generation of Adam & Eve's children act out every dark and ugly thought and motive that you and I have ever had. We wonder if there's any hope for this beautiful Masterpiece that God created. If He will ever experience the loving community that he intended his creation to live in with him. But God is ever the seeker, ever the rescuer … The rest of the Story is the story of God's relentless pursuit of a fallen, messed up creation. His desire to bring it all back together again.

Chapter 1: In the Beginning

This past weekend we began this ambitious new series that will take us through the entire story of the scriptures in 10 chapters / 10 weeks.

Chapter 1 of our story opened on a desert scene. The year is 1500bc. And God's people are preparing to cross the Jordan River and enter the "promised land." But there's a problem. For the past 40 years, they've been living in the desert, in isolation. This desert has served as a kind of incubator for them, as God has taught and shaped them to become an uncommon people on the face of the earth. A people who will direct others to him.

But land they're about to enter is filled with people who believe bizarre and horribly destructive things about life and gods and themselves ... And so Moses begins to prepare them, with "instruction." The word "Torah" means "instruction," and it's the title given to the first 5 books in the Bible. And his instruction begins ... in the beginning.

As we open the Bible, we meet a Creator God who is so powerful that he simply speaks to the darkness, and there's light. Speaks to the chaos, and there's order and beauty. Speaks to the emptiness, and it teems with life. And this Creator is not only powerful; he's good. With care, he creates a beautiful, utopian environment for his creatures to thrive. And then he creates the climax of his good creation: Human beings; male and female. And at every turn, he kicks back and enjoys it. Takes it all in. Celebrates. Calls it "very good."

And as Chapter 1 of our story comes to an end, the man and the woman are living in unbroken unity -- with each other, caring for each other; with their home, as the planet cares for them and they care for the planet; and ultimately and most importantly, with this Powerful and Good Creator who extends his own community and oneness to them. And, it's "all good."

Ruth and the Ripple Effect

At Terra Nova, we are rooted in ancient truths.  These truths spring forth from God's  book, the Bible.  We beleive that  the more you listen to God’s word, the more you soak in it, the more you discover this life that God wants to live in you and through you.  

God’s word gives us many things:  knowledge, wisdom, revelation and perspective.  You see how God sees fit to show us the lives of some wonderfully imperfect people,  who He  then takes and loves and creates a ripple effect with.

Consider Ruth.  It’s a four chapter book you can read in less than 30 minutes.  There’s a fun little illusion to surf culture, which we’ll get to in a bit.  Have you read this little story?   It begins, not with Ruth, but with Naomi, a woman who's name means pleasant, but there is trouble brewing in this life.  Not all is going right with her life.  We discover in chapter one that she is a having a bad day.

You know you're having a bad day when you live in the period of the Judges.  And you think you can beat this terrible famine by moving 80  miles east.  And in doing so, you move into the land of your nation's enemies. And your spouse dies.  And your sons are named  "Sickly" and "Puny"  (I’m not kidding—look it up)--they die too.  It’s a sad, sad story.  Could you blame her if she cried out “Where is  God?  Where is God in all of this?”

As she wipes her tears, Naomi decides to  return to Bethlehem,  her home town.  She does so with one daughter in law,  Ruth, who says I will be  with you, come what may.  As they make their way west and roll back into town, her old friends see her and can scarcely believe what they see.  Naomi is visibly different.  Wrinkled.  Old looking.  Beaten down.  They ask  “Can this be Naomi?”  Her reply:    Don’t call me Naomi, but Mara!  She says this  because mara is the Hebrew word for bitter.

Perhaps you've been there.  You have lived some years.  You've seen tragedy.  

Amidst this dark backdrop,  we get to know Ruth.  She is humble, hard working,  and faithful.  You have people in your life like that, don't you?  Do you notice them?

Boaz Notices.  Boaz is a man who looks at what is true and beautiful.   So who is  a Boaz in your life, someone  who saw and noted something?
Moving on, Ruth gleans in a field Boaz owns and when Naomi hears the news, she moves a step away from mara, to hope!  Hope can be defined this way:  "the confident expectation that God will take care of the future."

It’s clear that Boaz notices Ruth, but here's what you need to know.  Boaz is
an honorable man.   Kind and generous, he cares for her protection, and makes sure she gets extra gleanings.
Keep in mind that He is an honorable man when you get to Chapter 3,
where things might seems a little steamy!  He’s celebrating the barley harvest.  There’s much food and drink at these celebrations.    All partied out, he sleeps at the grain pile and awakens to a surprise:  Ruth with a marriage proposal.

Boaz continues to fullfill all righteousness.  He goes to the elders at the city gate.  He offers the redemption of Ruth to the closer relative, who refuses.  And then here comes our only allusion to a surfer’s life:  A sandal is exchanged to seal the transaction.  Don’t know if it was a Sanuk, a Reef or a Cobian.  Just know that it was a sandal and just know I had to work this surfing angle in somehow!

And wedding bells begin to ring! And at the ceremony, the wedding gifts are the best kind:  spoken blessings.  The elders say to Boaz words of life and hope.
And then  nine months later, a child is born:  Obed.   We come to find out he will be the father of Jesse, who will be  the  father of David.  At the end of the story little Obed sits on Naomi's lap.  Perhaps at that moment she thinks of those hard years in Moab, beginning with the death of her husband, then her two sons, and then the disgraceful return to Bethlehem.  And all those memories are somehow erased within a matter of moments.

So what’s the point? Why the story?   What does God want us to know?  Well,  on the surface, He wants us to know how the geneology of Israel’s greatest king plays out.  

But look deeper.  The message of God is clear, though the drama is simple:  it’s a story of small people who face all the events of life.   Making bad choices. Burying husbands, and even children.   Having to start over again.    Working hard.    Behaving with honor.   Risking in relationships.  And then...falling in love.   And having a baby.  

 The message of Ruth:   You were meant to ripple.  And your life always means more than you think it does!

And if you care to believe that, you are now well prepared to have your story intersect with the story of God.  Now, you are prepared to make some waves.

See People

Question: How do you see people?

We kicked off this Ripple Effect series last wekeend with a central, foundational point. 3 things you need to do if you want to make a SPLASH. And the first is ... SEE PEOPLE. Really see them. Notice people. See them as God sees them. Let your heart be moved and guided toward them.

You know, living where we live, it's really easy to "see people" as being pretty much "together." Well dressed, well made-up, well accessorized. Not loosing it, back up against a wall, at the end of their rope, wondering where in the world God is and why He's doing this to them. Nah ... not my neighbors.

But statistics alone should tell us better. Shouldn't they? I mean, just the stats alone -- without even really paying attention -- should tell us that the percentage of people struggling in their marriages (1 out of 2 end in divorce), struggling financially (unemployment continues to be at an all-time high in the O.C.), anxious about debt (1 out of 2 spends more than they make), fighting terrible addictions (2 out of 5), struggling with shameful, hurtful experiences from their past, hurting over the decisions of their children (just a glance at teen statistics should send red flags for about every other parent of a teen you know), dealing with life-threatening health issues (again, stats on cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc), and terribly lonely (studies show that 1 in 3 people admit to frequent periods of intense loneliness) ...

Now look at those people again. The people who live beside you, shop beside you, drive beside you.  Consider for a moment the likelihood of how they're doing.

Scriptures say when Jesus saw the crowds, his heart was moved with compassion because he SAW ... saw that they were like sheep without a shepherd.

So this week, SEE PEOPLE. Let your simple prayer be: "God let me see people how you see them." That's it. And as you drive, or walk into a store, or into the cubical farm at work, or your own home ... wherever there are people, just pray this prayer and ... SEE.

Start there ... we'll see what comes next.

Building Connection & Community at TerraNova?

QUESTION: "Who are all these people?"

Have you, in the past few months, found yourself walking through the lobby and seen a disproportionate number of new faces? People you don't recognize? Or maybe you are one of those new faces? Trying to figure out if this is "home?" If this is a place where you can sink in some roots and get to know God and people better?

It's a wonderful problem to have:


It's part of core values -- that spiritual growth and vitality happens in the context of relationship. And relationships have to start somewhere. They begin with affinity and conversation. They begin when enough space and availability is created in our lives (sometimes, just a small amount will do!) to linger over a conversation, remember a name, discover a challenge or opportunity someone is facing ...

BUT WHERE DOES THAT SPACE AND AVAILABILITY HAPPEN IN A CHURCH? Not enough of it happens at a weekend gathering. And LIFEgroups are great, but limited to the handful of folks who are in your group.


"TASTE OF TERRANOVA" is an opportunity for lots of TerraNovans -- new and long-time -- to MIX-IT UP in a relaxed and "tasty" setting! Let's face it: We love food! And that's something TerraNova is very good at. So let's take something that's a core strength and very "biblical" (feasting together) and very enjoyable, and let's use that to BUILD COMMUNITY! To create connections that will likely result in friendships and ministry opportunities and God's Kingdom being expanded!

In order for this to work, we really need YOU to come out to this TASTE OF TERRANOVA. It's short (5:30-7pm) and it will be fun and filling! But most importantly, we want you to come prepared with Christ's heart for people -- to reach out, get to know some names, become available for connection, and see what God does. See how he begins to build relationships.


Hope to see you -- with some tasty dish in hand! -- this Sunday night at 7 Whatney!

Turning our backs on the "American Dream"

LYLE: As we've been moving through this teaching series on the Beatitudes of Jesus, have you noticed  that they move us away from the "American Dream."  Whether or not we care to admit it, the South Orange County world that we live in tantalizes us to latch on to goals that are really all about us.  They wisper at us:  Win.  Be Happy.  Protect yourself from risk.  Put your best foot forward.  Apply the "killer instinct" in not only sport, but your career and your relational life too.   On top of all this, there's this message that you must  acquire and insulate, so you will be secure.  You will be safe.

And  yet...stuff happens. Sometimes bad things happen.  But what is more terrifying than having something bad happen is to have nothing happen at all.

Modern society, of course, has perfected the art of having nothing happen at all.  There is nothing particularly wrong with this except that for vast numbers of Christians in the US, life has become staggeringly easy.  And with that, truly unfulfilling.  Our lifestyle goals often revolve around eliminating as many unforeseen events as possible, and as appealing as that seems initially, it’s a death sentence to your soul.

This week I did a word study on a favorite word of mine that seems to counter this.  The word is adventure.  The word comes from the latin adventura meaning “what must happen.”  An adventure , then, is a situation where the outcomes are not under your control.  It’s up to God, in other words. 

As we soak ourselves in Jesus'  words about how to live a truly beautiful life, we're suspecting that God really desires us to live different lives, lives that are compelling, up-side down kinda lives, where we give up control and replace it with willingness.  What do you think?  Would you rather your life be one of ease or adventure?

Hungry and Thirsty

"Stay thirsty, my friends," the guy on that commercial says. I'm feeling hungry and thirsty this week. I'm looking at stuff in my own inner world that I ache to be different than it is. I'm watching relationships -- some that around me, and one or two of my own, and hungry for things to be right. And one of my friend's mom died unexpectedly this week. And I've got other close friends battling really serious stuff in their homes and families. And then I look around the world at some of the horrible evils that have become so commonplace as to not merit mention in the news. There will come a day, the prophets said, when God will restore everything. When he will make everything right, put everything in its right place. Right relationship -- between people and God, between people and each other, between people and creation, between people and our own insides. And that will be the day. Meanwhile, Jesus says, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for things to be right again -- they will be filled." And so I have this hope that as I hunger and thirst, and as I remain in moment-by-moment connectedness and willingness, that God will begin to fill that hunger and thirst with some real live righteousness here and now.

Stay thirsty, my friends.

Happy Earth Day

JOHN:  It's the first responsibility God ever gave humans. He makes a good world, then he creates human beings in his image, places them in this world he made, and told them: "Take care of this."

But a day like today raises a question: Who gets the earth?

It seems like the earth is constantly getting divvied up in front of us. The strong, the aggressive, the smooth-talkers, the elbow-throwers, the take-no-prisoners, grab-everything-you-can-get, do-whatever-it-takes people ... they seem to be who gets the earth. Right?

Who gets the earth?

And when you see the earth getting divvied up, and the slices of the pie seem to be disappearing right in front of you, the tendency it to envy those who take it. And to want to throw a few elbows yourself.

But what if ... Down is the new up?

This weekend, "A Beautiful Life" continues with more "down is up" thinking. We hope you'll join us. And don't forget the NEW TerraNova Saturday Nights, with great kids experiences for 0-8th grade.

See you this Weekend @ TerraNova!

(By the way, today is also Lyle's birthday ... Happy birthday, Lyle!)

TerraNova Turned Three!

On April 8, 2010, TerraNova marked our 3rd birthday as a church community. That's right -- it was 3 years ago, on a bright Easter morning, that two churches came together to form one. And on the weekend of April 10-11, we partied it up in celebration. Say what? You missed it?! We feel your pain. Check out this video in honor of our 3rd year together:

TerraNova Turns 3

JOHN: It's a crazy ride, really -- bringing two churches together to form a new church community. It's a story not often repeated. And for good reason: It's hard. It requires love and humility and sacrifice and flexibility and more love ... And here we are, 3 years into it. I think I speak for both Lyle and I (he can weigh in himself) when I say it's been a really good ride. There are so many things I love about who we're becoming. That passion we have to make God's love famous. The way people serve each other and others. The people we're reaching. The way I sense my own life growing in moment-by-moment connection with God.

So what do you love about TerraNova? Whether you've been here for 3 weeks or all 3 years, I'd love to hear your story. Click the "comments" button below and share it!

Baskets Are Better

Easter is coming! Just a couple of weeks away, now. And it's the most exciting, most celebrated day of the year for followers of Christ. Because it's the day that changes everything.

And of course churches throughout our community are celebrating big, as they should. And it's one of the best days in the year to invite a friend to check out God with you, so churches are opening up the invitations wide.

And all around I see bumper stickers. And there's nothing wrong with that! Seriously. More power to the sticker.

But, I just think baskets are better.

Follow me on this: We want as many as our friends as is humanly possible to discover the grace and vitality that comes from a life of constant surrender, connection, and willingness with God. And Easter is a great time to expose a few friends to just that. So somebody came up with this idea -- based on a popular Halloween / neighborhood thing -- to give away baskets. A basket is dropped off at someone's door anonymously, and it's full of goodies, and it brings a little more happiness to their day. And then they're encouraged to do it to somebody else, which brings even more happiness to their day. And with it comes an invitation to join us on Easter.

And maybe it's me -- cuz bumper stickers are fine -- but don't you think that's better? The basket is funner, more personal, and it brings love! It helps make love just a little more famous, don't you agree?

And don't you want to bring a little love and happiness to your neighborhood? Really now. Grab a basket this weekend, fill it with cool goodies, and drop it at a neighbor's door. Let's help some of our friends and neighbors connect with God this Easter.

So ... who you gonna egg?