Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “A friend is one before whom I may think aloud.”  

Sunday, I was driving to Hillsborough from an awesome Easter dinner with my in-laws, I got a chance to catch up with Tonetta, the person with whom I have had a lasting, abiding and deep friendship for decades (literally). She told me that we would not be able to talk for long because she has to get started on some school work (she teaches in Fairfax County). As we talked and exchanged the typical (for us) word jabs and banter the conversation turned. Tonetta started to share a dream that she had not shared before--not the dreams you have once you have entered REM sleep but the dreams that keep you from that sleep. I heard her dream and was excited beyond words.  This woman, whom I have known since she refused to allow me to "jump" her in line at lunch in elementary school was dreaming big!  I was honored to hear these dreams. I felt a little unworthy to hear something that was such a jewel and closely held dream. Tonetta had dreamed aloud and that made me want to dream. Tonetta dared to hope for something greater and that freed me to dream for something greater. Tonetta refused to be limited by the nay-sayers and that freed me to not be limited by the nay-sayers. Tonetta hopes for greatness and that frees me to hope for greatness!

Then another "bestie" (girlie expression but it works) dreamed...

Late last night into early this morning I got the opportunity--again--to experience what Ralph Emerson quipped first-hand. I sat and listened as my brother and close confidant shared his dreams. I listened as this guy, with whom I am honored to share life, dreamed aloud. It is incredible to hear the God dreams of a person. As I sat there listening, I was struck by the power that the dream of another can have on me. As I heard Jesse's dreams it sparked something within me that I had not realized had died: My ability to dream big hairy audacious dreams. 

Sure, I have set some pretty concrete goals for the future. Sure, I have plans to get there. But the dreams. The big, hairy and audacious dreams that I once dreamed were missing. The huge dreams. Those dreams that you know are impossible for you to accomplish alone. The dreams that you need first, and utmost God to be your chief partner for them to happen. For me, they were the dreams of a better place where people really did care about people. Not a utopia but the dreams where differences were celebrated and not berated. The dreams where your life counts and after you have left this fleeting and brief life, your dreams continued to touch the world.  The dreams of my brother has helped me to remember that God has called me--and you--to dream big, crazy and seemingly insurmountable dreams!

Jesse and Tonetta thank you for dreaming those Big, hairy, audacious dreams! They may say that you are a dreamer, but you are not the only one.
"Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other." John 13:34-35 (MSG)

Most folks would agree that the derivation of Maundy Thursday comes from the latin word mandatum. This is the first word in the verse quoted above. Jesus told this to his twelve closest friends as he washed their feet. Jesus. One who many of them thought was going to bring about a new kingdom for Jerusalem here on earth was washing their feet. The example that he gave was that of a servant who washed feet to symbolize love. Love. Not inferiority but love. He said for them to love each other to be a pointer to others (a bird dog, if you will) that we are, in fact, his disciples.

On this Maundy Thursday in 2011 I reflect on the lack of love that we (disciples of Jesus) show to each other. Too often, when we have doctrinal or theological disagreements we ostracize our fellow disciples instead of love them and be okay with the beauty of complexity and diversity within! On this Maundy Thursday, I recommit myself to love. May we each do the same!

Happy Maundy Thursday, beloved! 
My life has been so full. When I look at all that I have been given, I rarely feel that I have missed out. Granted, I am not rich. Granted, I was not raised in a traditional two-parent home. Granted I have done much to be ashamed about. But with all of that, I have a full and blessed life!

I have a wife who is loyal and gracious beyond words. I have a family that, if given the choice, I would choose to have. I have friends who are family. And I have hope; hope is enough.

Holy week is a time for me to reflect on the blessings betowed upon me by the all powerful, knowing and loving God. I indeed have hope for a better tomorrow because of the finished work of Christ yesterday. My savior loves me and I know that in the end, love--in fact--wins!

Yes. Hope is enough.
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There has been so much tomfoolery surrounding Pastor and Author Rob Bell's latest book, "Love Wins". There are Christ followers who seem ready to burn him at the stake as the Church of old did to its great thinkers of the day because of their alleged heresy. There are then others who, like a large number of the former, without reading the book think he is brilliant and spot on. Then there are some--I fall into this category--who are challenged and uneasy by the writing all at the same time. After reading the book I can say without equivocation, Rob Bell is no heretic.

Since when is it heresy to ask questions? Why, within the Evangelical clique, do we automatically exclude folks who don't agree with the Pipers, Moehlers and Driscolls (sorry my Arminian friends, I'm quasi Reformed couldn't think up any of your holy untouchables). When did reading become dane-derous (as my Godson would say)?

We have spent so much time parsing Bell's words and very little considering what is at the heart of his book: Love. It wins!

"Love is why I have written this book...May you experience this vast, expansive, infinite, indestructible love that has been your all along. May you discover that this love is as wide as the sky and as small as the cracks in your heart that no one knows about. And may you know, deep in your bones, that love wins."

Does Rob Bell believe in hell; yes. Are some or Rob's writings controversial; yes. Is Rob a lover and follower of Jesus; yes. Do I agree with all that is written on the 198 pages of this book; no. But what does that matter; I agree with more than I disagree.

May we each live to display the incredible love of God here, right now, today! May our motivation in sharing Christ be love and not fear of hell.

What the hell, Rob Bell; how dare you cause us to think and reintroduce us to arguments that have been waged since antiquity.
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