Pickles and Community

the pickles

WARNING:
For those that dislike pickles, please read the following with an open mind
#awarningineverimaginedhavingtowrite

– ryan james ross

Our Uncommon [good] team sat down this last week to share some of our favorite sections from a book we’ve been reading together — The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith.

With coffee and books in hand, we went around the room and shared deep things about balancing time, family, and our spiritual lives. We talked about how to remain connected with God and loved ones when busyness seems to rule our days. We shared about the real struggle of trying to slow down and create space to be with God amidst screaming kids and trying not to just fall asleep when you actually create a quiet time and place.

It was such a good conversation.

But then, Cody shared.

“You guys, (dramatic pause for gravitas), I have to share the most impacting sentence in this whole book with you.”  Glasses on, book open to the magic page, he looked at us and then began to read very slowly and clearly…

“To make a pickle we first need to get a cucumber. Then we need to create the brine and vinegar solution for soaking the cucumber.”

Yeah, that was it. And no, he wasn’t joking because I think each one of us awkwardly waited a moment to see if he was going to smirk and laugh about his dramatic pickle reading, but he was serious.

Cody then explained his epiphany, and it wasn’t about the pickle.

“See, we need to create the brine we soak in.”

“We need to create the environment and the community that transforms us.”

Here’s where some more context will help Cody’s meaningful point.

The book was talking about what gets someone to actually be transformed by their time with God in scripture, prayer, reading, or even walking out in nature. What does it actually take to grow as a follower of Jesus? We know it takes more than a disciplined 10 minute reading a day or a routine (albeit rushed) prayer. The book was liking real spiritual transformation to the journey of cucumber to pickle.

“Making pickles is an apt analogy to the way we grow as disciples. To make a pickle we first need to get a cucumber. Then we need to create the brine and vinegar solution for soaking the cucumber. If we dip the cucumber in the solution and quickly remove it, all we have is a baptized cucumber. In order for it to become a pickle, it needs to soak in the brine for six weeks or so. Slowly, imperceptibly, the solution works its way into the cucumber, changing it to a pickle.”

The environment and the community that we soak in transforms us over time.

It is good – no… vitally important to life – to pause and ask what kind of brine we’re soaking in.

What do we read? Who do we spend our time with? What do we listen to and watch?

The way we fill our quickly passing days shapes the long journey of our lives.

The spiritual journey takes time in [good] brine. Change is not fast; it’s years of good input and good environment that grows us over time. It’s years of time with God in scripture, reflection and prayer that morphs us into the best version of ourselves that He created us to be. It’s being in good community that aims to walk together to live out love and faith… even amidst the busy days, hyper kids, dirty dishes, and future dreams. We are powerfully shaped by those we do life with. It is good to walk with those you’d like to become like – there are many passages in scripture that share this important message about community [brine].

So, this week, no matter how busy things are…

assess and perhaps re-create the solution you’re soaking your life in…

because we’re all becoming something,

and clearly, there are worse things than becoming a fabulous pickle.

[Pickle haters – thanks for hanging in there.]

 

save the date

On Sunday, May 6th @ 3:30 PM we will be having our second taste of community event at the Lake Poway Pavilion.

We’re calling it: [seis] de mayo, cause we’re clever like that…and everything was already booked for cinco de mayo, so we improvised. 😉

Taco bar. Churros. A Latin Trio band called Rhumba Cha Cha! 

And if you’re lucky, you might just win an uncommon [good] poncho…

In the coming weeks, we’ll open up registration and share more details so keep an eye out.

In the mean time, save the date and keep thinking about who you want to invite to experience a taste of uncommon [community]!

 

You are loved and valued!

 

 

miracles and [miracles]

the miracle

Well, there are miracles and then there are miracles. You know: Miracles are things that are plain just not supposed to happen. They defy the laws of nature. They upset our understanding of the way things are supposed to be. Some are life-altering. Then there are those that send the earth off its axis.

We go about our lives hoping and expecting that things will turn out well for us. If only. And, when they don’t, we look all around for answers, solutions, manageable directions. Some of us fervently pray for a good ending, for that special healing of our bodies, our relationships, our financial well-being. Sometimes, we get what we seek and sometimes we don’t.

What gives? Why do we get some answers, and not get others? Why do we get some yeses and some nos?

Last September, Diane and I joined a group of friends to tour Israel, culminating in Jerusalem. Immediately upon our arrival, we descended on foot from the surrounding hills on the only possible path Jesus could have taken when he arrived the week he died. At the bottom of that path is the Garden of Gethsemane, the place where he was betrayed and arrested, before being led to his trial and subsequent crucifixion. This simple journey tells us a lot.

Just like his followers who were expectant that the long awaited Messiah, or Savior of the Hebrew people, would finally put things right after millennia of suffering, we seek saving from the many troubles that darken our lives. And for a while everything seemed to be going as planned. Certainly, his followers were inspired by his triumphant processional into the city.

But soon things took a turn. For the men and women who had left home and hearth to follow Jesus, the nightmare then arrived with an all consuming ferocity. The impossible happened — God’s anointed one, self-defined as the Son of Man, the Alpha and Omega, was scourged, tortured and most-ashamedly, put to death. Hope died along with Him that day. Inspiration dealt a mortal blow.

How could this be?

From triumphant expectation on the palm-strewn path to Jerusalem, to utter darkness only several days later in the Garden. And on that lonely hillside the next day, we are observers of a common pattern to all of our lives. What we thought was supposed to be was not to be. Can anyone identify with this?

Perhaps you have experienced something of such a nature. If not, certainly you are close to those who have. Diane and I belong to such a group. It seems like an inescapable reality of life – the sudden, apparent death of hope.

But then the impossible happened again — The miracle of miracles. The thing that forever changed all of creation: Hope came back to life. Life out of certain death. Upon emerging from a hell beyond imagination, Jesus sets the stage for each of us to live eternally with the God who designed us and who loves us beyond measure.He removed the obstacle – He gave his life for our life.

And more than this resurrection of hope – this truth that Jesus rose from the dead –  sets the stage for our own resurrection. Certainly one that awaits us at the end of our lives. But also the resurrection of hope that reminds us that those moments when things are not to be – the ones that seem like our very end –  might well be the start of the miraculous, unbelievable thing that God is doing in our own lives.

This week leading up to Easter is often called Holy – meaning set apart and unique.

As followers of Jesus we live in this unique space.

It is a space where our circumstances, expectations, hopes and dreams are forever shaped by the fact that Jesus has already done the heaviest lifting and will fully love and care for us forever. It is a space enlivened by the promise that the trials of today, no matter how extreme, will ultimately melt away. It is a space where expectations are not easily dashed and where inspiration comes from the knowledge that, in essence, we are already Home.

save the date

On Sunday, May 6th @ 3:30 PM we will be having our second taste of community event at the Lake Poway Pavilion.

We’re calling it: [seis] de mayo, and it’s gonna be quite the party!

Yes, the fiesta atmosphere will be in full force…

Taco bar has been booked. Churros will be present. Latin Trio band is hired. And if you’re lucky, you might just win an uncommon [good] poncho…

In the coming weeks, we’ll open up registration and share more deets [that’s slang for “details”, FYI… and that’s an acronym meaning For Your Information… You’re welcome.]

In the mean time, save the date and be thinking about who you want to invite to experience a taste of uncommon [community]!

 

You are loved and valued.
Have a happy Easter!

 

 

Hospitality and The Office

the hospitality

– ryan james ross

Have you ever been invited into a space that overwhelmed you with gratitude and awe?

Like being invited into a group or party that made you think,

“Who am I that I get to be here?”

“Who am I that I get to be with these people?”

I remember a time recently where Rachel and I got invited to a party with these friends that we really loved and admired. The invite to spend time with them and their family in their home meant the world to us. To share life with them moved us from admiring fans to real friends; people that do life together. Rachel and I felt like, “Who are we that they would like us?!” Yes, even though that sounds like middle school social dynamics stuff, let’s be honest… even as adults we feel like that sometimes!

I remember the first time I got invited to go to Ken and Margie Blanchard’s house. I had read Ken’s books. I was shaped by his lessons in leadership. I had heard him speak in front of huge audiences and I had even heard other famous people talk about Ken and Margie Blanchard. I was in awe when I sat in their living room and found myself eating and drinking with them like a friend — like family.

I remember this one day, sitting with Ken Blanchard and Dawn Neldon, and Ken asks us to review his sermon writing and give any suggestions to make it better! Yes, you can laugh…us review his writing. Dawn and I looked at each other and audibly said, “Who are we that we get invited into this space?!”

This “inviting others in close” is also called hospitality, and it is a mark of divine community.

The study of hospitality throughout the books of the Bible is fascinating. There are so many passages that teach the ethos of inviting others in close, taking care of them, and creating community. Try a google search on verses about hospitality, and you’ll get a great list to read through. A list that will reveal the God of hospitality throughout the old and new testaments. Let’s just hit a few great passages here.

From the very beginning, as God was laying out life principles for his people in the book of Leviticus, He charges His people to invite strangers and foreigners in close:

“Treat them [the stranger among you] as if they were your own, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”  ~ Leviticus 19:34

Obedience to this principle of radical hospitality would’ve created a very diverse and loving community made up of all kinds of racial and religious backgrounds. Imagine living this out in a time where racism, division, and judgment of the other was rampant. But that was back then, right? [smirk]

Centuries later, the Son of God comes on the scene and models what a life of hospitality and love looks like on the streets — and it shocked the religious elite. Jesus created community with everybody, and in a time where righteousness was evidenced by what you ate and who you ate with (or more like what you wouldn’t eat and who you wouldn’t eat with), Jesus’ kind of hospitality actually looked totally irreverent.

Jesus even says of Himself that he modeled a life of eating and drinking with everybody. And people called him a glutton and drunkard because of it.

“The Son of Man comes eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.”  ~ Matthew 11:19

Jesus created community parties wherever he went, and the wisdom that was revealed in this was that people felt comfortable with him, they built relationships with Jesus, and by this He was able to speak into their lives and give them the good news of who He was.

So, the early Christians in the first century began to follow Jesus’ way and they continued to invite everyone into the God family. The community of hospitality grew and challenged some deeply held misunderstandings of who God would invite into His family – who was worthy to sit at the table.

Acts 10 contains an incredible story of God giving Peter a vision that made Peter stop judging people as pure or impure, clean or unclean. It drove Peter into community with Cornelius — they entered a home together and ate and drank just like Jesus did, and it changed the life of Cornelius and Peter alike. That moment launched the early church into being a people known for hospitality to the other once again, and it should be a characteristic of Jesus community to this very day.

Is it?

I think God puts people on our hearts all the time. People that He wants us to reach out to, strangers that He wants us befriend. Who could you invite in close this next week? Is there someone that you could create a party with, have over for dinner, go do something with?

Is there someone outside that you know would like to be invited in?

This “inviting others in close” is called hospitality, and it is a mark of divine community.

I got the opportunity to talk about some of this on a podcast with our good friends over at Orchard Community Church.

You can listen to that here: How to Find and Build Community

And now…

the office [not dunder mifflin]

We’ve got office… and what a story of Jesus-like hospitality.

Our team has been searching for a spot where we can meet, use wifi, and get stuff done throughout the week [starbucks was getting real old]. We’d put out a few feelers and just this weekend, we got word that our friends over at The Church at RB have a space for us!

This last weekend Nate and Ian [CRB staff] opened the door to a room and said, “will this be alright for you?” We walked in and saw an incredible space, nicer than any office we’ve ever had before.

It’s beautiful… and they’re asking if it will be OK for us? Ha!!!!

Yes, I believe it will suffice. : )

Once again, I was left feeling “who are we that we would be invited into this space?”

I know that people around Jesus felt that way all the time, and so, as Jesus followers, may we all continue to invite others in to share life with, foster community, and live out the hospitality that comes from our loving God. That kind of love saves the world.

the unicorns [again]

We wanted to remind you of our upcoming talk on parenting for moms of young kids. Uncommoners, Dawn Neldon and Maren Nelson are hosting Raising Unicorns at Maren’s house in Poway, March 27th, @ 9:30 – 11 AM

Join us for mimosas and mom-spiration as Dawn shares about growing kids who stand out in a world that tells them to fit in.

There’s still space left [for now] – click the red button to register!

Register for Unicorns

You are loved and valued.
Thank you and God Bless!

 

Joy and Unicorns

the joy

– cody james vermillion

So we got a baby this past weekend…

We didn’t, like, pick one up from the store or anything. That’d be weird.

What actually happened is that my super hero of a wife, Jen, gave birth to our second kiddo, Jovi Belle. And because everyone seems interested in a baby’s weight more than anything, I’ll share: 6lbs, 6oz. Not a big baby. But having a baby is always a big deal. The sheer terror, mixed with concern, mixed with anticipation, mixed with joy was overwhelming to say the least.

I don’t remember much, but I will never forget when one nurse looked at Jen and said assuringly “The pain will stop when you have your baby in your arms… all you will feel is joy.”

And she was right.

Jen pushed. Jovi came. Joy ensued.

It can’t be a coincidence that God led us to the name Jovi, which is derived from Jovial (But her name is just Jovi, okay? Okay.) And she has been living up to that name! I’m convinced that nothing brings more joy to life than bringing new life into the world.

Pause there.

“Bringing new life” isn’t just about having kids. We can bring life to this world in a lot of ways. In fact, at Uncommon [good] we believe it is the job of every Jesus follower to bring life to the world. But that’s a different post 😉

Back to babies. Babies bring joy. Sure, they cry and poop and puke and deprive you of sleep. But the incomparable joy that they bring kinda makes it all worth it. And the proof of that was in our first day home with Jovi. From day one the dynamics in our house couldn’t have been more joyful. Even Auggie, our dog, is in love with Jovi. And since day one, Hunter has been smitten with his sister. He wants to hold her all the time and he can’t stop kissing her and rubbing her hair and saying sweet things to her. It’s enough to make your heart explode.

 

See? Your heart exploded, right?

Now, I’m not so naive to think that there won’t be challenging days ahead. I don’t actually know if I’ve really slept at all. It’s all a bit of a blur. But right now our home and family is filled with a love and a joy that is palpable. It’s in these moments where I can’t help but be grateful to Jesus. See, cause I think that experiencing joy of any kind is actually a little taste of heaven. And that Jesus has this amazing way of taking our human experiences and producing a joy that is way beyond anything we could drum up on our own. Peter puts it this way:

“Though you have not seen him [Jesus], you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy”

~ 1 Peter 1:8

 

Inexpressible and glorious joy. Yeah, I get that.

I feel that joy in our midst these days. And that’s a big deal, I think. Because, like you, I have experienced some pretty rough stuff in my life. But joy always seems to find its way through. And I know it has to be from knowing Jesus, cause there’s no way I could find it on my own. I remember early on in my faith when I had just started cracking open my leather-bound teen study bible, some verses stood out to me:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

~ James 1:2-4

 

When I read this, it had only been a couple of years since my dad had passed, and I was still in a dark place. It felt like my whole life for those years had been one big trial. So those verses hit hard. “I can have joy in… this?” Yep! There it was. Joy in the midst of struggle. Pain. Trials. So I took the challenge to “consider it pure joy” and just started looking for it in my life. And do you know what happens when you start looking for joy? You find it! Even in the hard times.

You find it in the sunrise. In your favorite song. In the cup of coffee you need to get going. The hilarious group text with your closest friends. The customer who wasn’t a jerk. The great conversation with the nice old lady you meet in Target who is looking at the same end table (yeah, that happened to us yesterday). It’s everywhere.

It would be so easy for Jen and I to live in the pain, sleeplessness, and stress of having a newborn while also managing to raise a three year old. But by His grace, we are able to experience that inexpressible joy. And we aren’t gonna waste it.

God has given our family a new season. We are going to seize this time. We are going to have fun and enjoy life even when we are exhausted. Because joy is what I want to choose. Joy is what I want to impart to my kids. And now I have written it in a post that will be kicking around the interwebs forever… so I have to do it, right? 😉

And so…

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

– Romans 5:13

the unicorns

While we are on the subject of parenting…

We wanted to invite you to an Uncommonly [good] talk on parenting for moms of young kids. Uncommoners, Dawn Neldon and Maren Nelson are hosting Raising Unicorns at Maren’s house in Poway, March 27th, @ 9:30 – 11 AM

Join us for mimosas and mom-spiration as Dawn shares about growing kids who stand out in a world that tells them to fit in.

There are only 40 spots – click the red button to register!

Register for Unicorns

You are loved and valued.
Thank you and God Bless!

Rainbows and Recaps

the rainbow

– dawn neldon

Saturday Morning I woke up and the very first thing I did was pull out my phone to check my weather app. I had been anxious all week – monitoring the weather like a teenage girl monitors her “likes” on instagram. I was obsessed. We had been planning and praying for our Taste of Community event for weeks. We were excited and exhausted and exhilarated and determined that rain would NOT spoil the goodness!

My heart sank when what had been looking like a clear-ish forecast now predicted rain. ALL DAY. The eternal optimist in me was unshook. “It’s gonna be fine” I said. “God’s got this I said”. But as one event after another got rained out Saturday morning my optimism was waning.

In fact, my optimism soon turned to pleading and I found myself convincing God of the merits of my argument while anxiously/angrily throwing laundry into the washing machine (as one does….) “God – I really need you to come through on this. It can’t rain God. God, I’ve pictured tonight in my head and that picture absolutely did NOT include rain. Do you understand? It can’t rain!”

Suddenly, from my laundry room window I saw a glimmer of sunshine and I felt God nudge “I’ve got this.” My heart lightened but frankly, that wasn’t enough.  “God, I can’t take it. I need to know you’re gonna come through or I’m gonna be an anxious mess all day. I need you to show me a rainbow. God, I NEED a rainbow okay?”

Having just seen the sun break through, this didn’t seem like an unreasonable request. So I dropped my laundry, frantically pulled on my boots and ran outside (kinda like a crazy person), searching for the rainbow that I was certain I would find waiting for me. There was no rainbow. In fact, the one patch of blue sky was quickly getting swallowed by incoming clouds.

That’s okay I told myself, I have all day. “God – you hear me? You’ve got time! I just need to see a rainbow today – I need to know you see us.”  And, in all honesty I was certain that He did see us. And so I spent all day hunting for rainbows. Everytime a patch of sunlight would break through I would run to the window and crane my neck. Several times I scurried into my muddy front yard in the rain (much to the confusion of my neighbors I’m sure)…but no luck.

Finally, I had to give up rainbow hunting to get ready for the event – all the while checking my weather app like it was my job. Truth be told, things weren’t looking good and I was preparing for the worst. And that’s when it happened. Just as I had finished getting ready, my 5 year old, Rubi came into my room.

“Mom, I drew you a picture!”

“Oh ya? What is it?” (because *pro-tip* you always ask a child what they drew. Guessing is for rookies.)

“It’s a monkey dancing under a rainbow.”

And I smiled. God showed up.

As I headed down to Old Poway Park to set up for the event I was just laughing to myself. It’s just like God to show up in a totally unexpected way. And this unexpected nature of God means that we often miss what He’s doing. If I hadn’t spent the day hunting for rainbows I would have missed the fact that God had my daughter hand deliver His message of promise. I would’ve missed the wink from God that said, “You are seen and I’ve got this!”

Honestly, I think this happens all too often. God offers us hand-delivered messages and we overlook them because we are busy watching for our narrowly defined “something else”.  We can do better! Let’s be a people on the lookout for God’s Uncommon activity in our midst. This week let’s hunt for rainbows – watching for God to show up in our lives. Convinced that He will – perhaps in surprising, unexpected ways.

the recap

Saturday night was simply amazing!

Even with the threat of rain looming all around and knocking out everyone’s little league plans, the evening turned absolutely beautiful on us!

About 200 people came out to Old Poway Park in all of it’s night time glory, and a good time was had by all under hundreds of glowing cafe lights.

Music made the whole scene great with sounds from Cody & Zogby, aka “Doc Zog & the Codfish” and our new friend Kyle Reynolds. These guys all worked to have a chill and welcoming vibe for everyone to mingle and connect… so good! Listen to more of Kyle’s music at kylereynoldsmusic.com. God is doing great things with this guy and we were so stoked to have him join us!

I don’t know how many potatoes and pounds of chili we went through, but the crowd enjoyed a lot of great food and well paired beverages on the balcony! I absolutely loved seeing so many friends reconnecting, hanging, enjoying community and not being in a hurry while kids ran around in total joy everywhere. We all need more times like this!

King’s Craft — thank you for the great coffee… we drank it all!

Jan — “You’re welcome” for winning that hairy-belly-fanny-pack… it was almost as good as getting a new Uncommon [good] hoodie, huh?

All in all —  If you felt joy, connection, and a strong sense of belonging, then you got a great taste of Uncommon [community]. That right there is a gift from God that not everyone feels. And we pray to have more people be a part of this community and love that we are all made for.

Thanks to all who came out on a cold and almost wet  San Diego night to enjoy the big family that God put together!

May U[g] continue be a catalyst of love, community, and faith for all.

Check out the rest of our photos on Facebook…

Pics of the noche

You are loved and valued.
Thank you and God Bless!

 

Weekly Update 3-2-2018

groceries & [living water]

– brad lichtman

I was at Costco the other day and noticed the name tag on the young woman setting up to bag my groceries. It said “Photini.” I engaged her and asked if I was pronouncing her name correctly, to which she replied, “yes.” I then remarked that I could not recall coming across that name before. She informed me that it was the name of a saint. I had to ask, “do you mind telling me the saint of what?” She said it was the name of a Samaritan. I paused a quick second and then asked, “the woman at the well?” She seemed surprised and said, “yes.” Curious, I admitted I didn’t know that and asked if the name was in scripture, to which she said she was Orthodox and it was in her tradition. I thanked her for sharing that and for doing such a great job bagging my groceries. As I left, we were all smiles.

Driving away I thought of several things that intersected in that moment. First was how faithful God is to granting my almost daily request to put someone in my path whom I could bless, even if only in a small way. Second, of the hundreds of people with whom this contemporary Photini must interact each working day, very few probably treat her as a real person, someone of tremendous value. She has a menial job in a very large organization. She is supposed to be largely invisible in that order of things. And, third, that her name is most fitting.

In John 4, Jesus comes across a woman from Samaria, an outcast of that day, as she was drawing water from a well. He decided to engage her, asking for a drink, which was a real surprise as she knew that he was far above her station. Learned men like Jesus did not speak with lowly women such as her. Fast forward through the dialogue and Jesus says, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

The living water in Jesus’ telling is a love that is infinitely refreshing. While we can only offer smaller samples of that, those samples are life-affirming and a reflection of our design. How often do we engage strangers with the perfunctory “How are you?” without really meaning it? How often are people around us largely invisible as we go about our business? What if we regularly paused during the day at the checkout counter or in the restaurant just to smile, give good eye contact, and say more than a mere, “thank you?” What if each of us seeks to open our eyes to see people as God sees them? No one should be invisible. We are surrounded by Samaritans and we put them there each day. Jesus offers us a way to refresh with living water. Thank you, Photini, for that reminder.

 

community is happening!

We are all set to party tomorrow [Saturday]! It’s gonna be a great night and for those of you coming, we are so excited to see you! Check out the details below [we say deets cause we like to abbrev.] and get ready for this uncommon party…

 

the “deets” for saturday

Weather
As of now, it looks like we might see some light rain and a little bit of cold (well, San Diego cold). So dress accordingly! We have Templars Hall and the Gazebo to escape any potential rain, but if you want to hang out outside bring some blankets and chairs, too!

Parking
You can park anywhere at Old Poway Park EXCEPT The Old Hamburger Factory. Let’s be good neighbors and keep those spots open for their customers. There’s plenty of other parking. 🙂

Food & Beverage
We will have plenty of food and beverage for all with full potato bar and hors d’oeuvres. And we’ll even have some fun kid food available. We got the hook up with some Lost Abbey kegs, King’s Craft Coffee, and hot chocolate for the kids. But feel free to bring your own beverages!

Fun
There will be plenty of fun for all, including music, lawn games, and kid-tivities. But again, feel free to bring your own fun-ness.

Woohoo!
See you tomorrow! And if you’re like, “huh, what party?”, just click on the red button below and show up tomorrow to Old Poway Park!!

A Taste of Uncommon [community]
Saturday, March 3rd, 5PM, Old Poway Park

RSVP

You are loved and valued.
God Bless our uncommon [community]

 

 

Weekly Update 2-23-2018


agenda free [community]

-ryan james ross

High pressure sales turn away just as many people from church as they do at the used car lot. We weren’t meant to pawn God like a gently used sedan and push to ‘close the deal’ before the conversation ends. That’s an agenda.

Have you ever had that experience where a book, a conversation, and then later maybe a podcast, and then even later in the week, a verse or a sermon that all end up repeating the same thing to you? It’s like the universe has conspired to give you a message through disconnected sources. God often whispers to us that way. And in the last week or so, we at U[g] have been hearing ‘agenda-free community’ a lot.

What is it to gather with others and to share life and love without agenda?

It means we talk less and listen more. It means we share stories, and we laugh and we cry together. It means we love and connect and do life together without condition. Everyone is recognized as God’s masterpiece on a wild journey through life. We love others without demanding anything in return.

This is the table that Jesus sets over and over in the scriptures: the place of continual restoration, enduring communion, and unending fellowship. No one earns a spot there, and no one fails and finds themselves with their chair removed.

“When we who claim faith come to people without any agenda other than to receive people as they are and to love them as they desire to be loved, they rest in the safety of that, and they begin to be transformed without any prodding from us.”  – John Pavlovitz in A Bigger Table

The Spirit of God transforms people, not our witty words (no matter how witty we be).

“When God’s people go out without agenda we are open to see people as people, rather than as objects of ministry and to see the ways God might already be at work in their lives… In order to be open to what God reveals, we need to drop our agendas.”  – Markus Watson at Flourish San Diego

So let’s dive into some agenda-free Uncommon [community]!

We are designing a party — a table to be around and some bread to break and some music to move to. Check it out…

So… we’ve had some interesting experiences while planning this party…

A couple weeks ago we spent some time with someone from the city of Poway, we will call her Patricia. It was a funny exchange. See, we had to try to explain to Patricia that we wanted to rent a large space to throw a big party. She was confused. Patricia couldn’t quite understand who we were, why we knew so many people or what would possess us to want to throw a big party for the community. We are familiar with causing confusion for people. It’s one of our specialties. So we were undeterred and walked away with a reservation to throw a party for 100 people.

Yesterday we had to call Patricia back to tell her that we will be having more people than expected – apparently we know more people than we even thought – because we currently have 111 people registered to join us!

We are so excited for this event and it’s not too late to join or invite friends. In fact, we have a team of people who are working alongside us to ensure that this is an event you won’t want to miss.

And to facilitate your reservation needs we have an RSVP button conveniently located in this very post…

A Taste of Uncommon [community]
Saturday, March 3rd, 5PM, Old Poway Park

RSVP

our uncommon [dream]

It’s clear from the response to this event that people are hungry for opportunities to gather together for some Uncommon [community] and we have already begun planning ways to make this event pure goodness.

Our dream is to offer this event to our COMMUNITY as a gift from our Uncommon-ers (that’s US!).  That being said – we issued a challenge last week that if each person on our mailing list gave $20 we could cover the cost of the Taste of Community. Many of you responded and we’ve brought in over $500 so far! (THANK YOU!) If you haven’t yet, please consider giving (by clicking the convenient link below) to make sure this and future events are free to our community!

GIVE

[connection]

By the way… At the heart of what we are doing with uncommon [good] is connection. Connection with God and one another. We believe deep in our bones that some of the best connection happens around the table. And we aren’t the only ones who think this… Here’s a video promoting a growing movement that we think is pretty cool.

Check it out and get excited about March 3rd!

You are loved and valued.
God Bless our uncommon [community]

 

 

Weekly Update 2-16-2018


We see great pain today…

and here is life.

At the same moment we celebrate love, evil is right there with us. And when we encounter evil, it shatters our sense of security and comfort in an instant.

We are shaken, afraid, angry, and we lift our eyes to God for answers and help.

We had some other words to share today, but we dropped them because our hearts and prayers go out to all of those families, students, and faculty in Florida. So we offer this prayer…

Dear God…
May your presence draw near and comfort those that are crushed, hurt, afraid, and angry.

May you surround those families with loving arms — with a community that can grieve alongside them and cry out for a brighter future.

May your Spirit guide humanity towards wisdom that brings about a better world — one of safety, liberty, and mental health — one of protection, freedom and hope for the next generation. Give us your eyes for justice, love, and life, Lord.

May your will be done on earth as it is heaven.

Amen

An Invitation To Hope

As you pray this week and hold on even tighter to those you love,
we invite you to a night of hope and love — celebrating life and community.

This will be a night of music, inspiring words, food, and drink for the whole family. We want to share a taste of this community that God is bringing together!

And we’re calling it…

A Taste of Uncommon [Community]
Saturday, March 3rd, 5PM
Old Poway Park

RSVP

btw… THANK YOU!

We raised over $500 last week to make this event happen. Thanks to everyone who contributed. We are so grateful to have you with us on the adventure of uncommon [good]. See you March 3rd!

You are loved and valued.
God Bless our uncommon [community]

Weekly Update 2-8-2018

Jesus and Peppermint Joe Joe’s

– dawn neldon

We went camping over New years with several families and one night around the fire I brought out peppermint Joe-Joe’s (I know).  Mind you, I haven’t had a peppermint Joe-Joe in several years because, you know – gluten. So I was particularly excited about this experience because THIS year – Trader Joe’s introduced GLUTEN FREE peppermint Joe-Joe’s (so basically we’ve reached the pinnacle of human existence). I brought out my two boxes of Joe-Joe’s, one full gluten and one gluten free and proceeded to be the only person to enjoy the gluten-free version. Everyone made fun of me. I was undaunted – they tasted amazing! But then…then “they” [meaning everyone but me] decided it would be fun to do a taste comparison and things went downhill.

To the shock of no one, my gluten-free Joe-Joe’s paled in comparison to the real thing. My husband Drew basically spit it out. Moments before this experiment I had been happily pretending that my gluten-free experience was just like the real thing when suddenly it became clear that I was not having the same experience as everyone else. I was missing out. *sad face*

So we’ve been talking this week about what sparks us (in more profound ways than peppermint Joe-Joe’s). What gets that God-excited, heart-bursting, lift-in-our-chest when we think about this journey towards Uncommon [good]? For me, this question is always linked to what breaks my heart. I’m weird, I know.

But when I think about the things I get most excited about it always has to do with filling a need or fixing a problem that breaks my heart. Here’s what breaks my heart: Jesus came to offer this beautiful, full, abundant life (John 10:10). This is clear because he talks about this life and models how it’s lived throughout the scriptures. It’s full and vibrant and abundant.   And yet we read these scriptures, we know these stories and still choose to settle for scarcity and gray-scale living. It’s as if there is something real and full within our grasp but we just keep eating our gluten-free Joe-Joe’s pretending they taste just like the real thing.

I think this stems from a fundamental lack of understanding about the God that Jesus knows. I think we often picture God as a cosmic teetotaller carefully weighing out our every action and judging it as good or bad. This god is not creative or funny or vibrant. There’s nothing abundant about him. We’ve basically imagined God as the heavenly version of an IRS auditor who is watching to make sure we tow the line. And “the line” in our minds is no fun. It’s straight and narrow-ed and buttoned up. It’s sanitized and wholesome. It’s white bread. It’s gluten-free white bread.

And here’s the thing: If Jesus reveals God, not only through his teaching, but also his action – this seems wildly out of line with the God that He knew.

Consider this:

Jesus challenged the straight and narrow, buttoned up version of life that religion had been demanding of people. Instead, his actions flew in the face of this understanding of God and religion. He ate with and partied with and befriended all the wrong people. In doing so, Jesus reveals a God that is wildly in love with people. All people. Messy people. You and me people.

Jesus colored outside the lines of the religious assumptions. He pushed the boundaries and challenged the box-checking way of religion. Revealing to us that God is more interested in our love than our perfection. And showing us that life is about recklessly running after a God who freely offers GOOD things to us. Not solemnly, carefully navigating a balance beam of perfection trying to earn His love.

Jesus healed and fed, he made wine out of water and communities out of outcasts. He challenged our assumptions of scarcity and revealed the abundance of God.

John tells us that “In Him [Jesus] was life and that life was a light for all people.” (John 1:4-5)

To put it simply Jesus illuminated a life fully lived. Born out of his deep understanding of who God is; His life-light points the way towards a life that is abundant, wild, messy and full of grace. This is what I am passionate about. This is what I long for people to experience: the mess and beauty of a life truly lived.

 

 

A Taste of Community

Before we do buildings, programs, coffee, small groups, and everything else that will come, we are going to create moments that give us glimpses of our Uncommon future… and the ‘first look’ won’t look like a ‘church’ service.

Yes, we want to give you a taste of Uncommon [good] – and it looks like a party.

Jesus met with people in real life places. He modeled a life in which he most frequently met with people over food and drink. He reclined with them — shared meals with them — his first miracle even worked to keep a party going and kick it up a notch!

People who were nothing like Jesus liked Jesus, and they wanted to be with him.

He met with the saints and sinners all together (you choose your own label there), and He created a lot of parties along the way — so we’re going to do the same.

Saturday evening, March 3rd, we are going to have a party that will be our first gathering of those that God is gathering for Uncommon [good]! We will break bread together (as well as other foods), and we will experience the joy and energy of the community that God is lining up! The whole family is welcome, as well as any friends that you can invite that may be interested in a new thing that God is up to! So…

SAVE THE DATE
Saturday evening, March 3rd
A Taste of Uncommon [community]
More details coming soon…

 

Help Us Make It Awesome

We need you to help us BE the community that makes a party FOR the community.

So your invitation this week is to help make this event happen!

We want to offer this as a free event for all who want to come. If all the Uncommon [peeps] that are receiving this email pitched in just $20, that would cover the costs of making this party AWESOME! Click the button below to give towards this Uncommon [event]!

 

GIVE

 

Note: This button will take you to our general giving page. Any new gifts given this week will go towards this event.

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

By the way! We had such an amazing Facebook launch this past weekend. Thank you so much for participating. Watch this video for a proper thank you!

 

You are loved and valued.
God Bless our uncommon [community]

Weekly Update 2-1-2018

Re-shaping God

– ryan james ross

In my reading of a great book this last week, The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith, I kept thinking of this pretty frightening question;

“Do I need to re-shape God?”

It sounds pretty arrogant on the front end for a human to think that they shape the God that made them, but for the most part, our concept of God is shaped far more by our world and the people around us than by what is actually written in scripture. Depending on one’s life journey and the stories about God they’ve received along the way, they may come up with all sorts of understandings about who God is and what God is like. Our concept of how God sees us and what He wants from us is shaped by a thousand different and often conflicting messages that we receive throughout our life. So what does God end up being shaped like? Usually a mix of culture, fallacies, crazy superstitions, and bible truths all mixed up together.

We end up with a ‘mess god’.

When Jesus showed up on the scene He began telling a lot of stories to reveal the character of God. His stories of God conflicted with their current concepts, and not everyone liked the picture of God he was painting. There were great misconceptions about God AND life that needed reshaping, and Jesus chose stories as His primary tool to fix things.

“We are shaped by our stories. In fact, our stories, once in place, determine much of our behavior without regard to their accuracy or helpfulness. Once these stories [about life, and love, and about who we are and who God is] are stored in our minds, they stay there largely unchallenged until we die. And here is the main point: These narratives are running (and often ruining) our lives. It is crucial to get the right stories.”

Were you ever told that “God helps those who help themselves”? It’s not in the Bible despite someone telling you it was a verse. “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” is also not in there no matter how many times your mom used it to get you to wash your hands.Yes, parental-bad-theological-leverage is real! Those are just a couple examples of fallacies that may damage your understanding of who God is. The largest fallacy amongst us is that you have to earn God’s love and favor. That God saves his love and grace for people who make an effort to be good… this narrative will mess you up, if it hasn’t already.

So how can we get the right concept of God?
We need new stories (and Jesus gave us some).

Here is the challenge that we at Uncommon [good] are going through together…

First, try to empty your mind of who you think God is (you can’t truly do this, but try it out just for the sake of learning here). Now, with an empty mind, read one of the gospels (or all four) and let Jesus shape your concept of God from scratch once again. Specifically, listen to his stories that teach about God’s character. What picture of God does he paint? Do you see a God of grace or a God of judgment? Do you see a God of love and forgiveness more than a God of anger and resentment? Does Jesus paint God with more hope, healing, or hell?

Try it.
Open the gospels once again.
And with a new eye…
let Jesus [God incarnate] reshape God for you.

 

 

We Have Big News!

We have decided to take the next step in our relationship.

You know what that means: this week Uncommon [good] is gonna be Facebook official!

While many of you already discovered our Instagram shennanigans, we haven’t truly made our Uncommon [good] presence known publicly…yet.

But that all changes TOMORROW (Friday if you’re slow to open your emails)!

Our hope is that our social media channels become a place that allows our Uncommon [community] to feel connected in the absence of a physical gathering space. We plan to share videos, devotionals, prayer requests as well as real time updates of the day-to-dayness of our Uncommon [journey]. More than that, we hope to create a space on Facebook and Instagram where everyone can join in our ongoing conversations about life and faith and citrus.

 

 

Sharing is Caring…

We are excited to take this goodness public, AND, we want to invite you to take part in our social media campaign! We will be pushing our Facebook page tomorrow (Friday, February 2nd) and we would love for our Uncommon [community] to share the love by liking our page and sharing it with your friends!

It’s a really simple and tangible way that we can ALL participate in the work of Uncommon [good] this week! We thank you in advance for your clicks, shares, comments, and contagiously-joyful banter : )

 

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