First, I want to start you off with a wink. 

 Now, What do you do when someone vanishes from your life?  I don’t mean you lose touch with someone who lives 1,000 miles away.  I mean someone who’s in your life everyday, and decides to stay away for good. 

This is a typical happening in churches, and I’m baffled by the amount it happens.  One minute someone’s hanging out, the next, they can’t bare to give you a call back.  Or email.  Or even a simple facebook back.

I don’t blame anybody for this phenomona.  It is as much a person’s right to defriend someone than it is their right to befriend that same someone.  I just wonder what you might do about it.  To me, it used to hurt.  As time goes on however (and unfortunately), it gets easier.  Easier to forget the  neglect and the possible criticism.  Easier to blaim it on baggage.  But who can know all the reasons why someone makes a decision of abandonment?

Years ago, I made this really stupid decision and abandoned many of my friends based on this decision.  But this one family would not let me neglect them.  Would not let me forget them.  And they were always there for me.

Uuugh! 

If you have someone in your life who has “disappeared,” what is your response?  I’d like to know.

Until next time…

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The Answer

February 1, 2008

The game was great last night.  I mentioned here that I was invited to the Celtics-Mavs game last night.  I of course had a decision to make.  The Celtics game was great, and Rajon Rondo was the hero in a 96-90 victory for the C’s.  This was an important victory for the Celtics, who had lost a few games to some mediocre teams in the last couple weeks.  And they did not disappoint.

However, I was not in attendance last night.  I chose to attend my life group. I love the Celtics like I love pizza, roller coasters, and any other of my several sports teams.  But I really love my life group.  Like I love my family.  Ya know, my mom, my dad, my sisters,etc…?  We had planned a special event of nothing more than hang out time, but I wanted to be there for it. 

You see, as much as I like the Celtics, they won’t be there for me if I have a family emergency or if I’m going through a hard time with any number of emotional, spiritual, or relational struggles, or if I just want to hang out with friends.  They might make for a good 2 hour event, and I’ll certainly go again if I’m asked in the future, but priorities are priorities and I’m committed to growing spiritually through the relationships in my life – not the least of which is this group that has been meeting together for the last year.

This weekend at Fellowship, we’ll be continuing our series on “The ATOM Bomb” by addressing the principle of Transformation.  I’m excited to share what I’ve learned in the last few years about this subject that I’m pasisonate about.

What relationships are transforming your life?

Until next time…

A Family Christmas?

December 18, 2007

Christmas is an amazing time.  At the risk of being trite, it’s a time to be with family, friends, to give of yourself for others, and unfortunately, to watch a butload of Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel and eat enormous amounts of food.

But one thought I’ve had this season so far is, Who is my family?

At this point you’ll probably wonder if I’m okay, and would like some help or to be transported in an ambulance or by car, but I think it’s a fair question.  Consider this:  In the Bible, a man asks Jesus what the greatest commandment is.  Jesus replies with the very famous verses on Loving God with everything and loving your neighbor as yourself.  The man then asks, “Who is my neighbor?” 

It’s really not a bad question.  Let’s get specific Jesus.  Let’s not deal with the general, let’s figure this thing out.  Who in the world is my neighbor?  Jesus, of course replies with the parable of the good Samaritan.  You can find this story in Luke 10.

So this Christmas, because we all say that it’s about family and friends and neighors and peace and giving, I’d like to ask this question:  Who is my family? 

Come on, based on the “neighbor” story in Luke, this thing can’t just be about bloodlines and middle children and inheritance, and I want to know who my family is.  Now please understand, I love my immediate family.  My beautiful wife Carie is the most patient, caring, and sweet person who ever existed.  My parents are amazing people who love God more than any people I know.  My sister Amie has a great family, and when we talk, we talk like two people who are both living in cold tundras.  (This is because I live in Massachusetts and she lives in Green Bay)  My youngest sister Brooke works really hard in a home for troubled boys,and has such a huge heart.

Carie and Philip
My wife Carie and my nephew Philip

This is my immediate family.  But is that it?  This could get really depressing, really fast.  Or perhaps there are others who could be considered part of the club.  Perhaps, like the neighbor who lived in another country, my family members could branch out a bit to become less strictly defined.

I began thinking of this when I was a bachelor working at Fellowship Church in the early 2000’s. I was invited over to some friends house for Christmas morning, an invitation to which I accepted and had a great time.  Afterwards, the family invited me over to their extended family’s house for more Christmas fun, only to be rebuked by the matriarch of the family for inviting a stranger over, and having their request denied to have me join them for their Family Christmas.

I hated that they were put in that position to tell me I couldn’t join them because…

I wasn’t in their family.

This Christmas, I ask the question, who is in your family?  Is it just you and a few select others who are “special enough” to be allowed into your gatherings?   Or would you extend the definition of family to allow others into your home for the holidays and for Christyear just as Jesus extended the definition of who my neighbor might be?

This could really be an excellent means for Discipleship.  You see, when you bring someone into your circle, you allow them access to who you really are, and if that’s a good thing, then the good that is who you are should eventually transfer to them, especially (but not limited to) if you’re a good teacher.

So my challenge to you is to allow a new family member into your home or your celebration this Christmas, and if it gets vetoed by the king or queen, take your royal celebration somewhere else next year.

Until next time…

The Mega Edition

December 17, 2007

Sunday Morning @ Fellowship was cancelled yesterday,and I missed everyone, though I did have a nice day with family. 

I woke up early Sunday morning because I had to make the decision to have church or cancel, which ended up not being as much of a choice as I thought it would be.  It was bad.  All day the wind blew.  All day the snow came down.  All day there was a quiet storm.

So I had breakfast with Carie and Jessica and Tom and Tina and Phil and Leslie.  It was a blast!  Throughout the day we relaxed, decorated the Christmas tree, read, watched football,opened gifts, and played mega monopoly.

Now I want you to know I absolutely love monopoly.  I play often and even have a monopoly posse in Mike Burns, Darren Bell, Brandon Peper, and Jon Koch.  One of the thing I love about monopoly is how it teaches me to trade and be wise with investments and money in a buying/selling scenario.  I’m always learning to be fair and balanced in the trades that I apply, because if they are not, I could easily be taken advantage of, or I could take advantage of someone’s charity, an equal offense.

After last night’s victory in mega monopoly, a game which I’m growing to love (nine more properties, skyscrapers, and train depots), I have won 3 games in a row.  This is magnificent because before this, I had not won a game of monopoly for a few months.  I was in monopoly draught, and nobody likes to be in that kind of a draught.

If you’d care to try your hand at monopoly with our posse, please let me know, and I’ll make sure you’re involved the next time we come together to dominate the world.

So I’ll leave you with a new picture of Carie and I after decorating our tree.  Have a great Monday!

Christmas tree

Until next time…

Two things of note I’d like to share in my blog this morning.  I will give them to you first, and explain them second:

1.  We are 95% moved into our new home.

2.  I saw the film, “Golden Compass” on Sunday night.

Let’s start in the very beginning.  That’s a very good place to start. (“The Sound of music,” anyone?)  So yesterday, it was finally time for us to move into our new home.  The reconstruction is not quite done, however, with the sink being installed over the weekend, we had everything we needed to being mostly functional.  So on Monday morning, after finishing my blog, I began the process.

Carie and I don’t have tons of stuff, but we do have some, and so from 8:30 am to 10:30 pm, with a brief respite around lunch time and a conversation with Darren and Scott in the afternoon, I labored to move things from my old apartment (BNL, anyone?) to the new home.  Many of you know where I lived before, and perhaps you’re thinking,”He only has to move across a parking lot.”  But this was not just any parking lot, this was the Bank North Garden during a Bruins home game.  I slipped and slid all across the parking lot with large pieces of furniture like our bed, bureaus, and the occasional box of clothing.

Thankfully, Darren was able to help with the big stuff, and we couldn’t have gotten our bed up the stairs without help from Stevie B., but in the end there was just a lot of little stuff to move.  Carie arrived around 7:30 pm after a long day of work and a final exam at Woo State in Spanish Culture,and for the next 3 hours, we (Marty, Carie, and Jessica) worked tirelessly to at least be in the house overnight; a task we eventually accomplished.

On Sunday night, after the game (By the way, picture this:  Brett Favre beating the Pats in the super bowl.  What person in their right mind is gonna scowl at that?  It’s a wicked awesome thought.), I went with some friends to see, “The Golden Compass”.  I can honestly say, that it is exactly what I expected.  So please allow me to share with you my thoughts on the movie.

I had read an interview by the author of the books that I had found, thanks to Jenn’s blog, and really didn’t go into the movie with too many preconceptions about what I was going to see.  I am a pastor, and I know it’s been called a terrible movie because of its philosophy, but I’ve seen hundreds, and quite possibly thousands of terrible movies with bad philosophies, so I figured I’d just go into the theater with a clear mind.

Two thoughts come to mind:  No Likeability  and too spread out.  Let’s start with the latter, shall we?

The movie has all these things going on, and never really comes to a clear point. Even Lord of the Rings, as epic as it was, had a goal that it reached by the end.  And though this trilogy might have a goal (I don’t know), I could not figure it out.  It could have been saving the girl’s father, or taking down the Magisterium, a symbolic representation of organized religion, or just showing off Nicole Kidman as an actress, who knows?  Like Steve Martin said in the epic 1985 thriller, “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”, “Here’s a thought, have a point, it makes it so much easier for the listener.”  Or in this case, the viewer. 

There was a lot of neat characters and lands and even ideas.  One of the things I enjoyed about the film, not unlike one of the things that the Potter books and films excel at, is the unique ideas the author and film crews employ to make the grander vision of the film work.  An example of this is the animals (called demons in the story, but actually a representation of the soul)that accompany almost every individual in the story.  For children, the animals change into different types of animals, depending on what the situation calls for.  As adults, however, the animals/demons stay the same.  How they use that thought in the movie is good stuff.

The second thing I didn’t like about the movie, that is almost found in every other fantasy movie ever made that anyone likes:  The likeability of the hero/heroine.  In this case the movie heroine is a little girl, possibly around the age of 11,named Lyra.  The first thing Lyra does in the movie is lie.  By the way, this is the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th thing she does too.  Basically Lyra is a little liar and schemer.

This is not a bad thing if she is a supporting actress or even if there is some sort of redemption that takes place in her life (though I doubt the author believes in that) by the end of the movie.  And maybe it will come later (Haven’t read ahead yet), but throughout the film, I just don’t like her.  The only endearing quality she shows is courage, but very seldomly does she use that trait to help someone else, though it does happen.

Listen, by the end of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I was hooked, and Harry was my best friend too (sorry Ron Weasley).  But in the Golden Compass, I didn’t like anybody, not even by the end of the movie.  This, my friends, is a problem.

There’s only one reason I would go see this movie if I were you, and that is if I were a huge fan of the movie genre, “fantasy”.  Otherwise, you’ll never see that $10 again.  I don’t say that because “I don’t want you to see that stinking atheist film either,” but I say that to let you know that “enchanted” was a better movie than “The Golden Compass”. 

But is that because, as my wife pointed out,”McDreamy’s in it”?

Until next time…

I hate Hertz…not really

November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!  Today I’m only going to say that, and perhaps tonight I’ll write another blog complete with pics and such from a day with my family. 

Ok, I guess I’ll say more. Because of weather, Carie and I didn’t leave NH until last night after 10:00 pm.  It was cold and rainy, but the flight went really smooth.  Then we arrived in Columbus at around 11:45 am, and went to rent a car, and we ran into some snags there.  I won’t go into the story (unless you want to ask me in person), but let’s just say I now hate the company Hertz, who really jacked Carie us up, forced us to spend a lot more money than we were supposed to, and we could do nothing about it, unless we wanted to spend the night in Columbus. (which was very appealing at the time because of the nasty rain)  But don’t worry, I have forgiven them.

To finish out the day, which actually was a very pleasant day, despite the end of the last paragraph, I drove about a hundred miles from Columbus to Richmond, Indiana in the rain and nastiness, between trucks and cars, and we finally arrived here last night around 2:30 am.

I have now woken up this morning, and am an excited mood to spend the day with my wife, extended family, and maybe even some people I don’t even know.  That’s the best!

 Until next time…

Interesting Happenings

November 21, 2007

On Sunday, Carie and I were looking for our airline information for when we fly out on Wednesday (today).  I couldn’t find the email, so I couldn’t find the confirmation code, so I couldn’t find the info.  This was not good.  Finally I found it,and we were both happy.

So it appeared that we left on Wednesday morning at 6:55 am and arrived around 8:30 am.  This was not good, because Carie works today until noon, and the school that she teaches at has mentioned to its teachers not to miss a day of school around the holiday vacations.  I could not believe I had done that, because I thought that I had not done that.  (I had purchased the tickets in May)

Carie wrote an email to her mentor, who never responded, but came to Carie on Monday morning,and politely said that she erased the email, and it did not exist.  She also asked Carie if she was coming down with something, because she looked pale, and that she probably should be sick around Wednesday morning, so she’d better call in.

My wife being the amazing person that she is, felt bad about this insinuation that she must call in sick (though she had missed a day of school for being sick the week before) and not really be sick, so she wrestled back and forth with telling her principal that she was flying out on Wednesday and could do nothing about it.  Basically, I told her she could say, “my husband screwed up.”

So I had thought we were arriving at 11:00 pm on Wednesday evening, but this new revelation brought on some great circumstances.  Like this one:  About the time we found out we were leaving on Wednesday morning, Lonnie, my former pastor, wrote a text message to me, telling me that “the Steelers suck,” which of course on this particular day, was not far from the truth. 

But I had an idea.  I asked Carie, “What if we visited the Snells in Cincinnati for lunch on Wednesday?”  She loved this idea.  It was about a half hour out of the way, but would be an excellent time to hang out with them, and still get to my parents house in decent time.  So we made plans to visit the Snells for lunch on Wednesday.  Despite my mishap, things were coming along very nicely.

Things got more interesting Tuesday morning when this happened:  Carie’s uncle Joe, who is a businessman in Boston, was supposed to be a major part of this Sunday’s service.  He has a great testimony of how God had freed him financially after spending his younger years in enormous debt.  Since this was the major topic of our current series, “The Riches” at Fellowship, I had invited him to share that testimony.  He called me and told me he couldn’t make it because of an unforeseen circumstance (a good one) in the life of his family.  I was gracious (as I so often am), but was basically forced to do more work than I was supposed to be doing during this partial week off.  So on Thanksgiving, I’ll be eating turkey and pouring over sermon notes.  Good fun!

Then on Tuesday, something else occurred.  I found the “REAL” airline reservations for this weekend.  You see, it appears that the Wedneday morning flight at 6:55 am happened last month, which you can read about here:
https://pastormarty.wordpress.com/category/conferences/

So the real time Carie and I were leaving is tonight (Wednesday) at 9:29.  Which mean a few things:  Carie doesn’t have to lie to skip school, I hae a bit more time to study for Sunday, but on the other hand, we no longer have the time to have lunch with the Snells.

Tomorrow I’ll be writing my blog from Indiana, and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving wherever you are!  For those of you at Fellowship Church, I’m so excited about the last week of “The Riches” and more excited about getting to see many of you.

Until next time…