Monday, September 28, 2009

Salt and Light – Hang Time

Salt and Light – Hang Time

© 2008, American Anglican Council Weekly Update, October 24, 2008, By: Rev. J. Philip Ashey

When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, they were, like sheep with no shepherd. Matthew 9: 36

In the pressured, stressed academic and extra curricular life of the teens of Herndon, Virginia there is one scheduled weekly event which the teens themselves consider mandatory. It happens at the Church of the Epiphany, Wednesdays, 3-5PM where about 20-30 kids come together from public schools, Christian schools, and home schools for “Hang-Time”. What happens there? Nothing, and everything –pizza (of course) and while Christian music plays softly in the background a survey of the room reveals someone asleep on the couch, a chess game, homework, conversations, video game challenges, even a spontaneous jam session on the stage complete with keyboard and sound system. There is a group lounging while they watch a Christian video. Mixing and mingling with the group are young college age leaders who came out of the “Hang-Time” themselves.

Robbie Pruitt, the Youth Leader at Epiphany who began the program bases it also on God’s call for Sabbath rest – rest from the demanding, overscheduled, weary lives these teens live. Robbie points out “Scripture commands us in many different places to rest and Jesus Himself modeled this rest when He withdrew to solitary places to pray away from the crowds (Luke 5:16). The lack of structure makes this a place of respite.

In the last 15 minutes or so, when they come together for scripture and prayer it is in the safety of a circle of trusted friends. Sometimes Robbie shows a short contemporary Christian DVD—“Nooma” from Mars Hill Church, and Revolution are among his favorites. These are short lessons with high impact. Prayers are requested for school work, conflicts with parents, sick friends, and those struggling with broken homes. “Here,” Robbie says,” we are learning to make our lives a living testimony that simply says, “It is not about me, it is about Jesus.” We are taking the control away from ourselves and putting it in God’s hands and because of this we can rest in His strength, and learn from His direction.”

Robbie Pruitt sees this time each week as a way of building long term relationships with the kids. He sees himself as a “visible shepherd”: one whom the “harassed and helpless” can come to for conversation, counsel and prayer. But, he says, the key is consistency: just being there every week, present and available in the name and the power of Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus sent out his disciples in pairs, Robbie sees the focus on establishing a consistent, prayerful presence with the few, not the many, making each teen feel singularly important. He estimates that about forty different teens come when they can. When they can’t they can always visit “Hang Time” on Facebook. The program has also expanded other youth ministries - the kids consider themselves a family and so when a youth retreat happens they often come together.

When asked about Hang-Time it was described by one teen participant as”less in your face - food, games, and videos, extremely spontaneous, extremely fun, and extremely chilled”.

You can find more information about Hang Time and Epiphany’s Youth Ministries at

“Hang Time” is a wonderful example of how missional churches major on relationships. Why? Because that’s what Jesus did. Jesus spent his entire public ministry focused on a small group of twelve disciples—and much of it on the road “hanging out” with them. In our internet world, where relationships are decentralized and genuine community is diminished, Jesus is calling his church to be a place where we can offer real community, in Christ. Churches are mission outposts that offer genuine, caring, Christ-centered relationships.

As Robbie observed, some youth who cannot and will not attend church show up at Hang Time almost every week. They are on the way to becoming followers of Jesus Christ, because they have discovered genuine Christian community.

We call it the Church.

Have you and your church considered how you might become a missionary outpost that majors on relationships—just like Jesus? Who are the harassed and helpless in your community, your neighborhood, your workplace? May Christ give you his heart, the heart of the Good Shepherd, to hang out with a purpose!

Yours in Christ,

Rev. J. Philip Ashey
Chief Operating Officer
American Anglican Council

Monday, September 21, 2009

Boxes, Bills, and Benevolence

Untitled Photo © 2009, by Jillian Lee

“Jesus looked him hard in the eye—and loved him! He said, “There’s one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me.” The man’s face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go. Looking at his disciples, Jesus said, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who ‘have it all’ to enter God’s kingdom?” (Mark 10:21-23)

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God (Luke 6:20).”

“Zacchaeus just stood there, a little stunned. He stammered apologetically, “Master, I give away half my income to the poor—and if I’m caught cheating, I pay four times the damages.” Jesus said, “Today is salvation day in this home! Here he is: Zacchaeus, son of Abraham! For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost (Luke 19:8-10).”

“Across the world, 1.3 billion people live on less than $1 a day; 3 billion people live on under $2 a day; 1.3 billion have no access to clean drinking water; 3 billion have no access to sanitation; 2 billion have no access to electrical power (Sweet, p. 104, 105).”

Last week I spent $15.76 at Staples on 10 file boxes to put my files and old school notebooks into. I drove in my car to get these boxes. When I returned to our townhome, I packed the boxes with the lights and the ceiling fan on while listening to Pandora radio on my desktop computer; it was streaming through my high speed cable internet connection. I then stored the boxes in a closet and threw all the trash and unwanted files and notebooks away, to be picked up later by the trash collection company on Tuesday.

One of 1.3 billion could have lived for 16 whole days on just what it cost me to buy those boxes.

My car is worth $8,228. The gas costs $46. a week. Insurance is $656. a year.

Every month our electric bill runs us about $108. and our cable, phone, and internet service costs about $190. We pay roughly $1100. a year in neighborhood association dues which includes our parking, lawn care, and snow and trash removal.

If you only add the numbers that I just mentioned above, someone could live for 10,343.76 days at a $1. a day. This equals to about how long my wife has been alive, around 28.3 years. This is equal to some people’s entire lifetime in the third world, poverty stricken, parts of the world.

I wonder how many people could live for how long on what we spend in a year if we were to calculate an entire year’s budget total. What if we lived more simply or with someone else and actually made some of this living happen?

I spend around $55. just on coffee, sugar, and creamer every month. This does not include any stops to Caribou Coffee or Starbuck’s. That is 55 days of life for someone, every month.

The Bible says nothing about not smoking cigarettes or drinking coffee. However, if you smoked a pack a day for a year for 30 years, it would cost you around $54,750., about an average American living in Northern Virginia’s yearly wage, just above our “poverty level.” That translates to around 150 years of life for people who live at a $1. a day. This is about two to three average lifetimes, maybe more if you are smoking a pack a day or if you live in a third world country.

This is yet another reason why I do not smoke cigarettes. Coffee is my drug of choice.

The Bible does say something to us about loving our neighbor as ourselves: Jesus said, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them (Matthew 22:37-40).”

Jesus also said, “It’s easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for the rich to get into God’s kingdom (Mark 10:24-25).”

One of my favorite verses that I focus on when I worry or want to get all worked up about how I am living and how I can best serve, and follow God, and help those who are in need, is Matthew 6:33, which says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” I am left wondering, “Am I seeking God first? How well do I love God? Do I desire Jesus more than His blessings? Do I love others and myself enough to seek first His kingdom? How can I love my neighbor if I don’t love God or myself; if I love riches over God, or if I don’t love God above His blessings?”

If the poor are blessed and have the kingdom, and we are so “rich,” where might God be leading us?

Seeking His riches, His kingdom, and His blessings amongst the poverty of this world’s riches,


Works Cited

Untitled Photo © 2009, by Jillian Lee

Peterson, Eugene H.: The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo. : NavPress, 2002, S. Mk 10:21-23

Peterson, Eugene H.: The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo. : NavPress, 2002, S. Lk 19:8-10

Peterson, Eugene H.: The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo. : NavPress, 2002, S. Mt 22:37-40

Peterson, Eugene H.: The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo. : NavPress, 2002, S. Mk 10:24-25

Sweet, Leonard I. Summoned to Lead. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 2004.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Lk 6:20

The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. Mt 6:33

Hang Time

“Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, defines hang time as referring to a number of things: Hang time generally refers to how long something stays in the air: In basketball, the length of time a player stays in the air after jumping, either to make a slam dunk, lay-up or jump shot. In American football, hang time is the length of time a punted ball flies through the air.” In the newly popular summer sport of wake boarding hang time is flying through the air after hitting a sweet wave, or jump.

In Rock climbing hang time is referred to as the time that is spent hanging from a hold on a rock face or wall. It is also referred to as resting on ones equipment, the rope, the anchors, the harness and everything in-between to rest and to regain ones composure to finish the hard work of a difficult and challenging climb. It is also popular in the sport of rock climbing to “log some hang time.” This is something that can be purposefully done by initiating a fall in order to test the equipment and to become more comfortable with risking challenging moves in climbing, demonstrating confidence in your belay partner, and pushing your physical and mental limits. Hang time also naturally occurs in rock climbing when a rest is needed or a mistake is made during the climb and the climber accidentally falls. During hang time the belay person, a person holding the other end of the rope and taking up the climbers slack and anchoring the climber, assumes full responsibility for holding the climber in place safely for a rest or safely lowering the climber down for another shot at the climb.

On Wednesdays from 3:00-5:00pm the youth ministry at Church of the Epiphany does what we call Hang Time. At Hang Time, the youth of our church have the opportunity to “log some hang time.” What we mean by this follows more closely with the climbing definition of hang time. The youth of our church are actively being obedient to God in a moment of Sabbath rest and recreation. They are deliberately showing up to Hang Time to have fellowship with one another, to rest, play games, pray together, and to demonstrate trust in God with their week and their lives. By resting and having intentional confidence in God, our belay person, and in our equipment, the fellowship of believers, the reading of the scriptures and prayer, we are bringing honor to God. We are making our lives a living testimony that simply says, “It is not about me, it is about Jesus.” We are taking the control away from ourselves and putting it in His hands, and because of this, we can rest in His strength, learn from His direction, scope out our life’s proverbial climb in Him and with Him, and execute that climb of life beyond our own physical and mental abilities, because of His rest, and His abilities. Jesus never just leaves us hanging He gives us the rest we need; He walks us through, and climbs beside us showing us the way.

Scripture commands us in many different places to rest and Jesus Himself modeled this rest when He withdrew to solitary places to pray away from the crowds (Luke 5:16). Hebrews chapter four verses nine through twelve speaks about this hang time rest; it says, “The promise of “arrival” and “rest” is still there for God’s people. God himself is at rest. And at the end of the journey, or the climb, we’ll surely rest with God. So let’s keep at it and eventually arrive at the place of rest, and not drop out through some sort of disobedience. God means what he says. What he says goes (Hebrews 4:9-12).” So, come “log some hang time” with us at Hang Time on Wednesday’s from 3:00-5:00pm, or log your own Hang Time weekly, and get the well needed rest and direction you need in the middle of your week and follow the direction of our Lord Himself who is a God of hang time, Sabbath Rest.

In His Rest,