Monthly Archives: January 2011

In Search of The Rebooted Life

by Michael J Klassen

Years ago, while I was working fulltime as a freelance writer, I purchased a Compaq laptop that I loved. In fact, the first 14 months, I wore out two keyboards.

The only problem with the computer was that it rebooted at random times during the day. Back in the day, software wasn’t near as adept at automatically backing up our files on the hard drive. So, I could lose an hour or two of work if I hadn’t typed “control s” regularly enough. At times, I would be adding the finishing touches on a sentence or paragraph that, I was convinced, was a work of art in its own right, when suddenly the screen would go blank and the computer would start all things new. On more than one occasion, I nearly threw my beloved laptop into the concrete wall in my basement office.

Yet, other times when my computer would start slowing down, rebooting was the answer to my problems.

New Year’s Day is all about rebooting. Many people make resolutions this time of the year. “I don’t make resolutions, I make goals,” someone commented to me earlier this week. But what’s the difference?

The packed gyms in my community this first week of the year prove that more people than me make a commitment to reboot their lives and start losing weight. But by the end of the month, the number of people in the gym revert to pre-New Year’s Day figures.

All of us are wired with the deep desire for new creation. Movies like Groundhog Day and 50 First Dates call out to that deep desire. Countless times growing up, I wished I could start over on the semester at school. I just wanted to reboot my backlog of homework.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could truly reboot our lives whenever we wanted, just like we can reboot our computers?

The good news for all of us is this: God is all about rebooting. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22–23). Every morning, God pours out his love and forgiveness on us.

And here’s further evidence of the God who reboots: Paul wrote, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Not only does God pour out his love on us every day, but we also live every day as a new creation.

So what does it mean to live the “rebooted” life?

It means that God’s forgiveness of us is complete. The sins of our past have been completely erased by the blood of Jesus. Our past no longer needs to haunt us. We get to start over!

When we give our lives to Jesus, we get to start over every day! Reboot.

Conversation Starter

  1. Share a time when you got a chance to reboot.
  2. What does the rebooted life look like to you?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.


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Babbette’s Feast and Your Place at the Table

It’s a wonder I survived childhood. Not only was I a sickly kid, but I seldom ate. I was beyond finicky. I subsisted on Malt-O-Meal, pbj’s, and hamburgers. Oh yeah, and ice cream. But my mom didn’t serve ice cream much.

At dinner my dad made me stay at the table until I cleaned my entire plate. After a while, my dad would forget about me, he now being engrossed in the 10 o’clock news, and my mom would relent. I would then run to the bathroom and spit the offending spinach, green beans, and roast beef in the toilet.

All this made meal-time an unpleasant experience, a necessary evil. Sitting down to enjoy a meal was oxymoronic.

Therefore, it’s taken me a long time to appreciate meal-time rituals. And I’m still a picky eater, though my menu expanded shortly after getting married. “Eat what I fix or die,” my wife, Dee Dee, whispered. I wasn’t sure whether that meant I could starve myself or that she was going to kill me. I learned, however, she’s a great cook and there are several other edible food groups: pizza, chocolate, steak, chips, apple pie, and most Mexican food.

I’ve also discovered gathering around the table is about more than physical sustenance. Over the board is where we connect with one another. Here we tell the stories of our days and even our lives, which is why the command “don’t talk with your mouth full” is so persistently ignored. With four chair legs on the floor–and the occasional phone book under our butts–we come eye to eye with each other. Amidst the clink and clank of fork on plate we invent, learn, practice, and carry on traditions. In the kitchen or dining room the ordinary reigns. “Pass the salt,” we say.

And the only sight more forlorn than a person eating alone, is two gathered together across a table but separated by an ocean of alienation.

Of course God intended our mealtimes to be times of connection not only with one another, but with him as well. The 1987 Danish Academy Award winning film “Babbette’s Feast” tells this truth in a beautiful story about Babbette, a celebrated French chef, who to escape the Revolution, gets stranded on the barren, cold coastline of Jutland with two loving but hidebound religious sisters. The sisters’ lives are ruled by duty and an adherence to the austere religious life their father, a Dutch Reformed pastor laid out for them. (Spoiler Alert)

The sisters take in Babbette and, not knowing she is a chef, teach her to cook. In return for a place to live, Babbette cooks and cleans for the two aging sisters. But Babbette does not feel she has done enough in return, and when she wins the French lottery, she spends all her winnings on a feast she prepares for the sisters and their small congregation.

The irony is that the sisters and their friends decide the feast is too lavish and make a pact to eat the food but not enjoy it.

At that point in the movie, it was hard not to see myself in the dim characters desperately trying not to enjoy this fantastic feast. I played the same game as a child at our dinner table. But I also recognized how many times God, like Babbette, has laid a spiritual feast before me and I have refused to partake. It’s laughable.

Food, from the mundane to the delicious, represents how God loves and sustains us. Food is a direct connection to him. “Give us this day our daily bread.”

Gathering together to eat represents how God loves and sustains us through family and friends. Our relationships also feed us.

It’s no surprise then that Jesus gathered his friends for a final meal. But it is not just the bread and wine Jesus named sacred. “This is my body,” Jesus said, meaning the bread but also us, his friends, the Body of Christ. This gathering at the table, with others, of lesser and greater faith, is Jesus embodying not just bread and wine but his people too. Now I see sitting down for a meal can be not only a joy, but a holy moment, a sacrament.

I hope we can connect even over a virtual table at The Neighborhood Cafe.


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First Sips

by Jadell Forman

As I thought about my first blog post for this, The Neighborhood Café, I thought about…well, cafés in my neighborhood, my former neighborhood.

Throughout the years in my rural Minnesota hometown, there have been several places where people met to sip on something and chat.

Years ago, the Happy Chef was the most popular of such places.  When I waitressed there with my friends during our high school years, the “coffee clutch” came in around 2:45 p.m.

We waitresses fired up the coffee-machines and restocked the cinnamon rolls.  I loved to waitress, attending to customers, making sure their cups were filled.  Several times, I raised the pot, and raised my eyebrows in silent question.  They raised their cup in response.

That’s what happened this past Christmas.  Except, for the first time, I was on the cup side of this common, coffee gesture.

Christy and I have known each other all our lives.  When growing up, our moms often met at each other’s home “for coffee.”  While Christy and I and our respective siblings went off to play, our moms shared life and coffee.

Now adults, Christy, her sister Tracy, and I reconvened, after many years, at their parents’ home.  Inside a log house, surrounded by tall pines, all of us stirred up a lot of memories and drank a lot of coffee, provided in absentia by their brother.

Each night, Christy and I slept downstairs in two guest rooms.  The morning after Christmas, as I came out of the bathroom, we crossed paths, and she whispered, “We’re the only ones up, which surprises me.”  She held up her cup with a smile.  “But I made some coffee, if you want some.”

“You made coffee?” I whispered back, still trying to decipher her whisper.

She nodded.  I gave a thumbs up, and made my way to the coffee pot.

Later, with all of us in the kitchen talking and at varying stages of coffee preparing and drinking, Christy, without interrupting the conversation, looked at me, raised her eyebrows, and raised the coffee pot.

That was the first time I can remember someone doing for me what I’d so often done for my customers.  Suddenly on the receiving end, I recognized this offering and sharing and pouring for what it was: serving, caring, considering the needs of another.  “Yeah, I’ll take a warm-up,” I said.

That’s the intention for conversations here at The Neighborhood Café.  As people gather in this café, may there be a warming of hearts, a sharpening of minds, a drinking of life.

While all three of us—Eugene, Michael, and myself—will be taking turns writing entries and inviting discussion about faith, mine (written mostly on Mondays) will initially focus on the act of drinking as a metaphor for living.  I’ll be quoting from one of my favorite books, Can You Drink the Cup? by Henri Nouwen.

For several Mondays to come, we’ll consider holding, lifting, and drinking the cup of our lives.  Additionally, together, we’ll take a courageous look into the cup of sorrow and a thoughtful look into the cup of joy.

So, as we come to this table to offer, share, and listen, may God grace us with the ability to essentially pour life into one another, responding to the One who is always doing so for us.

At worst, drinking together is saying, “We trust each other enough that we don’t want to poison each other.”  At best, it is saying, “I want to get close to you and celebrate life with you.”  It breaks through the boundaries that separate us and invites us to recognize our shared humanity.  Thus, drinking together can be a true spiritual event, affirming our unity as children of God.
Henri Nouwen, Can You Drink the Cup? (p. 80)


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