Monday, July 27, 2009

Jester Monologues

Last night at the gathering of our community (Church) we studied the spiritual discipline of prayer. This is a discipline I have difficulties with for several reasons. Last night at one point I just felt this very heavy burden that just repeated over and over in my head, “I’ve got this all wrong.” If you keep up with my blog then you have become very familiar with my questioning of everything and comparing what I’m taught or hear to what the Bible says. I am a skeptic, but one who seeks knowledge rather than only criticize. This often leads me into criticizing myself too. Last night was one of those times when I would be confronted and challenged by what the Bible says and it would be more skeptical of me and my ways than me of it. We read through Matthew (6:5-13) where Jesus teaches the disciples about prayer.

"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth; they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” This, then, is how you should pray:’ Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

I pray best when I am in a group or with a close friend. I have been told it is important to pray together. I took that straight to my girl one day and demanded that we begin praying together. I used to go to this prayer group and I was always the guy who prayed the longest. I don’t feel like I use big words or anything, I feel like I am really authentic. When others have prayed in groups before I always question their hearts when they are praying because I just think to myself, “come on, be serious, is this really how you speak to God?” I am ashamed to write this blog, but think this pain of realization is necessary for my growth. I’ve realized I have a very big ego and love to show others how religious I am. I need a group to pray with and do so very well, but barely speak to God when I am alone, and rarely ever listen. Instead of prayer being an intimate private two way conversation that forms a part of my lifestyle it is more like a ritualistic monologue performed before an audience. I’ve been playing jester in the Kings court and never really seen myself behind the make up before last night.

How Jesus taught the disciples to pray looks nothing like what I call a prayer life looks nothing like what I’ve been told I should do, looks nothing like dependence on God, but more like a honey-do list. I even looked up a topical index of praying together on a Christian web-site and cannot even say what verses are quotes as evidence of praying together are accurately interpreted or appropriate for my context. Take a look for yourself, but I see no commands of praying together in context, without being twisted. A honey-do list is something a husband is given by his wife with a bunch of different tasks on it. Is this how we are to treat God? It is amazing to me that He even listens to me because I am so messed up, shouldn’t I respond by listening to Him? I think this is something we should all reconsider and reflect on. Compare your ideals and actions of prayer to what Jesus taught…This is a tough tasks, but I think it is a worth while one.

I know where I stand and my realization is shamefully true: I’ve been playing jester in the Kings court and never really seen myself behind the make up before last night. Are you putting on a show for God and others or is it truly what Jesus taught?

Monday, July 20, 2009

July Update

Remember the show “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” I feel like that song should be playing as you read this. Where in the world is Adam Sloope? Well, for those of you interested I am right here, Indianapolis, IN, living life one day at a time. So what has that looked like? Glad you asked, here is the run down on my life as of late.

Love Life
Most of the time, the first question I get from everyone who has not seen me or heard from me in some time is, “Any ladies in your life?” The answer is no. No ladies, that would be too much to handle, multiple women, I cannot imagine the time that’d take. In all seriousness though, yes, I do have a girlfriend. Yes, she is hot and yes, I am happier than I’ve ever been. Here are some pictures of us (taken by a really good friend and an amazing photographer Austin Warnock). I’ve been dating her since about January and things have been amazing.





















The Move
I finally moved again. I learned last year that I am not the roommate type. Not because roommates are horrible in themselves, it is just not my preference, I like my own space. I am finally on my own again and really enjoying it. My new address is:

1005 N Delaware St
Apartment 20
Indianapolis, IN 46202

Same phone and email address. I’ll post pictures of the new place soon. The coolest thing about my apartment right now is that I have this trendy bike hanger on my wall. Here’s a picture!




















Family Visits
It’s been over 3 years since I moved away from Jacksonville and although I call Indianapolis my own now, I do always miss Jacksonville and my friends and family. I get homesick about twice a year and truly just need to see my family. Most of the time I come to Jacksonville because it is easier for a single guy to rearrange his schedule than those with families and such. This time though my parents came up to visit. My mom and dad came up and we were able to hang out quite a bit and they were bale to experience my life, my city, and my daily environment. They also were able to meet Julia (the lady friend). It was really nice to see my parents acting like a couple and actually enjoying each other, because they’ve been busy raising 3 kids for so long.

Recent Happenings
Most recently, this past weekend, Julia and I went to Symphony on the Prairie at Connor Prairie. I must say that Julia is making me pretty fancy these days. I know my taste buds have never been happier. To my delight I watched her unpack a gourmet sandwich, fresh fruit, Blue Moon, chips, and a little dessert surprise from the dinner she packed. The sandwiches were on bakery fresh bread with pesto spread, home grown tomatoes from the local farmers market we went to earlier that morning, fresh mozzarella cheese, and basil leaves. Julia knows I love mangoes, so she surprised me with a mango cut up and ready for my belly! Music was awesome too by the way!




We went to Julia’s family cottage for the July 4 weekend. I was really nervous at first, but left feeling totally refreshed and had new friends. I’ve attached some pictures of that whole experience as well. The weekend was full of laughing, countless stories of Andy, the ghost that haunts the cottage, plenty of unexpected deep life talks, tasty treats, s’mores, good food, “bond” fires (bonfires), and relaxation. The reason I misspelled bonfire is because of my beautiful, funny girlfriend. We were on our way to this little local store and she had this epiphany, “I know why they call bonfires bonfires,” she exclaimed. “Because you bond around the fire!” So from here on out they will forever be bond-fires in our camp.












































































I am still running around downtown on my bike. I have a Bianchi race bike that I absolutely love. It’s faster and more fun to zip around the city on. I do not like driving or not being able to just go riding on my bike. My other close friends have nice bikes as well and we all ride together in what I have deemed the BBLC. BBLC is Biker Boy Lion Club. How this came about you ask? Jake and I met up to go riding one day and we were both wearing express track jackets that have lions on them. We rode around the rest of the night roaring and yelling BBLC. Yes we are both grown men. The most recent addition to BBLC is quite the beauty. Jake found an old 70’s Schwinn adult tricycle in his back alley in the trash. He was going to throw it away and I asked to have it. I took her home and bought new tires and tubes, and painted her flat black. I bought an old school horn for her too. Her name is Terri the Tricycle. She is very fun to ride around and always gets attention. Although I go no where fast it is pretty funny.




















Ministry
The entire reason I moved up here right? You’d think I would hit on this a little. This is an interesting part of my life right now. Everything looks different than I expected. I moved up here to start Indy Metro Church and help build it up. I left Indy Metro because God was moving my heart in a new direction. I am now part of a beautiful community that goes by the name of Response. I imagined by this point I’d be full time running some church program or group with a comfortable office somewhere downtown. Where I am is quite contrary though and I am actually learning to love it that way. We serve in the local women and children’s homeless and domestic abuse shelter downtown. God has opened up so many doors for us that we don’t deserve or see coming. We honestly have had no formulated plan and have been just reacting to all He gives the best we can. There has never been a church that has had success being at the shelter the way we have. We run three programs right now, Ladies Night, Monday Fun-day! and Monday Fun-day! Little Ones. Ladies night is literally what it sounds like, ladies getting together and talking girl talk, reading magazines, doing manicures and pedicures and just building relationships. Monday Fun-day! is a group for 5 and up that creates a mentoring atmosphere to create positive relationships and Monday Fun-Day! Little Ones is for 4 and under. We have basically taken over any child care for the shelter on Monday nights. It is quite amazing.

My faith is being challenged right now in the practicality department. I can win 9 out of 10 theological debates and write a paper that would impress any Biblical scholar, but I found that all that knowledge God gave me means absolutely nothing if it is not applied and challenged. So I am in a questioning phase right now. Why is Sunday so important, what is true evangelism, are my expectations of my life following Jesus realistic, biblical, who am I? It is a very uncomfortable place, but a place that I think is good for me to be in. So ministry is less a thing I do now, it is more of my lifestyle. I am a minister at work, at the gym, on Monday nights, on my bike rides, etc. Last night I met with a guy and we drank beer and ate gummi worms but had the most genuine heart to heart I think he’d find in any program. I’m not bashing programs, just telling you where I am.

Hope you feel all updated. If you want more, please email me or send me a card, I love getting mail that is not a bill!

Grace and Peace,
Adam Sloope

Flour

I’ve learned that loosing control is actually a better form of being productive. At least in my world it has been, especially last week. I’m learning how truly upside down and backwards this kingdom is lately because I find my teachers being children and my classroom a public park. I reflected on all this when I finally got back home and peeled the shirt off my back in the midst of a cloud of smoke. The smoke was actually dust, it was flour being patted off my back and out of my clothes, the shirt was stuck to my back because of wet flour that had dried up. Sounds pretty gross and random, but these small elements reflected the kingdom of God more than any theological discourse or bible class I have ever been in. The unlikeliest of places seems to be the hot bed of God revealing Himself and His truths.

We volunteer at the local women’s and children’s homeless and domestic violence shelter downtown. It all started with little parties and such and has grown into 3 programs, Ladies Night, Monday Fun-day!, and Monday Fun-day! Little Ones. We now find ourselves fully emerged in the community and culture at the shelter. So much that one of the children’s parent stopped my in the hallway Monday afternoon to say, “I don’t know what yawl are doing but these kids love Mondays and talk about it and look forward to it all week.” My heart just jumped for joy upon hearing this! God is using people to bring hope and life into a place that can often times be full of darkness.

Last week we took the kids out to a big open park downtown and had four 5 game stations set up, or so we planned. As usual though, plans never work out quite the way they do in theory as they do in reality. The stations were passing the orange, kids would pass the orange around their group using just their necks, moon ball, see how long you can keep a large inflated ball in the air without touching the ground, bubble gum challenge, you bury a gum ball deep in a bowl full of flour and the kids have to get it out with no hands and chew up the gum and whoever can blow a bubble the fastest wins, which is impossible because the flour absorbs the gum, and water balloon toss, teams of two through a water balloon to each other at different distances trying not to pop the balloon. The highlight of the night ,however, was not in the plans at all. The kids thought it would be funny to get me by throwing flour all over me, so I am running around covered in flower, so I start throwing it back. The entire park is now full of kids and adults chasing ach other with handfuls of flour. Then the water balloons start getting thrown at each other so now we have wet flour drying on us as we walk back to the shelter. One of the kids said, “Now that’s what I call a fun Monday!” They had so much fun and that was probably the most memorable Monday Fun-day! they have had since the beginning.

Now where is the kingdom in all this? Do you see it? I think it is pretty obvious. Children that are in hopeless circumstances have hope, children that should be mourning are rejoicing, and children typically confined to a concrete building downtown are now running and enjoying a beautiful day outside. It is amazing to be a part of it all, really, I feel guilty sometimes because I am not sure who gets more out of the group, the children or me and the other volunteers. As exhausted as I am every Monday night I always lay down with a subtle smile that comes from deep within my heart and soul as I watch the kingdom of heaven takes it place in the midst of unplanned, unexpected places and people.