Sunday, December 02, 2007
The evening started with an exhibit opening reception for Nancy Lynch. Nancy's work is beautiful; it was a great evening!
Here are some pictures from the evening:
Friday, November 30, 2007
random thoughts...things at Convergence are going well; more happening, meeting lots of people, gelling as a community...growth is slow and intentional, we average around 30 most Sundays; but last two jazz services have had over 80 people. We've got some new folks who are plugging into the community; will be a great addition, especially as we expand what we're doing musically.
Cindi sang for us last Sunday and did a fantastic job.
we just finished our first writing workshop; it was great. We'll offer some more after the holidays.
Please pray for my boys-- my youngest has bronchiolitis, a respiratory tract infection, and his brother has been coughing as well.
GMU is off to a fantastic start; 6-1, 1-0; beat Drexel in the conference opener 85-38 last night.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Sunday night A and I went to see Bruce Springsteen in concert. It was my 10th time seeing him; A's first. It was so great sharing that with her. She was one of the youngest people there!
Wild coincidence--I went back in my old journals and discovered that the first time I saw Bruce was Sunday, November 11, 1984; the tenth was Sunday, November 11, 2007. How cool is that!
We both had a blast. It was great watching her reactions throughout the evening. A loves the drums--she loved "She's the One"--especially when Max blasted the drums. We both love "Badlands," she lit up and started clapping when it played. It was a great bonding experience for us--I love how she enjoys my music! I'm going to make a cd of all the songs he played that night.
At 58, Bruce still puts on an amazing show. I remember 4 hour marathon shows back in the 80s; nights that were so exhausting I was relieved when they were over. He doesn't play as long these days--2 hours 15 minutes--but his energy is still incredible!
I later found a website that gives playlists for all Springsteen concerts dating back to the late 60s! So I found playlists for every concert of his I've seen. Pretty cool.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Way busy last few weeks--church going well--started series using Exploring the Way workbook on Sundays...trying to get a diverse group of people thinking about and practicing their faith in some new and creative ways.
My car died the other day...mechanic says it has a dead cylinder and needs new engine. We've had some folks offer to loan us a car for a while; and we're looking into options for something at little or no cost...Stressful, but I have faith it will work out somehow.
Tonight is the season opener for GMU basketball--I can't wait!
Sunday night A and I are going to see Bruce Springsteen. I'm really excited to share this with my daughter. It will be my 10th time seeing him. I'm really digging the new album; I highly recommend it!
Monday, October 22, 2007
tonight--miniseries. I love books. I love movies. I've found that some of the best film adaptations are miniseries. Very rarely does a two hour film capture the heart of a novel; but a miniseries often can.
So, here are my suggestions for great miniseries viewing:
1. Lonesome Dove--simply the best. Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall each give the performance of a lifetime. Duvall has said Gus McRae was the role he was born to play. Fantastic soundtrack as well.
2. Band of Brothers--I don't usually like war movies; but this was phenomenal. I had to buy it and watch it about once a year.
3. Roots--perhaps should be number one; but not as fresh for me. Everybody should watch this. Everybody.
4. Storm of the Century--Stephen King at his best. The scariest miniseries or TV movie I've seen; not just because of the monster, but because of incredible good and evil that humans are capable of.
5, Andersonville--powerful true story of prisoner-of-war camp in the Civil War.
5. The Shining--a very faithful adaptation of one of King's best novels. Stephen Webber gives an amazing performance.
6. The Stand--based on what I consider to be King's best novel. Not as great as the book; but that would be impossible. Gary Sinese in the role that made him a star.
I'd love to hear your suggestions!
Sunday, October 21, 2007
The whole evening was wonderful. The music was fantastic as always. Harp 46 is so great to work with. The reception after worship was great--people ate and talked. We don't make a big deal about numbers; but we had our largest crowd yet--85--lots of visitors!
Afterward Lisa and I had dinner with some folks from Vienna Baptist Church; talking about ways we can work together.
I'm still feeling pretty high.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
we had a great service Sunday afternoon; talked about Lament. We had a dramatic reading of some Psalms of lament, then talked about what lament is; then had people write their own laments. I hoped one or two might share theirs; about 10 people read theirs--very powerful! I often feel so busy on Sunday that I don't feel focused on worship; but this week was great.
If you haven't listened to Sinead O'Connor's CD Theology; I recommend it. We used the song "Rivers of Babylon" Sunday. (The lyrics are from Psalm 137). We've used a couple of the songs in worship...
church is good; lot's going on...trying to figure out how to recruit and equip volunteers, best structure for leadership...
I finally ordered a macbook--UPS's website says it should arrive today!
Just ordered Tim Keel's new book, Intuitive Leadership: Embracing a Paradigm of Narrative, Metaphor, and Chaos ...very eager to read it!
Still working my way through Brian McLaren's new book; great so far; I'll write more soon...back to work.
Monday, September 24, 2007
One of my favorite people is Kenn Kington. Kenn is a fantastic comedian, writer, and speaker. Even more, he is a fun, loving, Godly man. I met Kenn four years ago at a ministry conference. We hit it off right away and have stayed in touch since. He's been a great friend to us at NorthStar--speaking at our annual meeting in 2004, leading a singles conference in 2005, and bringing his Ultimate Comedy Tour to Columbia Baptist and to GMU.
Kenn has also been a great friend to our family. He and Ashley are great buds--she gets to go backstage and hang out when he performs nearby; and he once came to watch her play soccer. Kenn is truly one of the good guys.
I just found out yesterday that Kenn's four-year-old daughter Kennedy Grace has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She was diagnosed in April and is undergoing treatment. You can read about Kennedy Grace here.
Please join me in praying for Kenn and his family. I also highly recommend his books--great stuff on relationships, and his DVD's--great family comedy.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
He talks about how he was influenced by the situations of people in other countries--Rwanda, Burundi, South Africa. I have been struggling with this; feeling that we (western Christians) are concerned about people near us--we are horrified at violence and terrorism and disaster when it happens in our own backyard; but not so concerned when it is on the other side of the world.
Brian confesses that for years,
I also knew that most churchgoers, including myself, either didn't share that concern for the poor or didn't know how to turn concern and good intentions into constructive action. (p. 16)In chapter five Brian says that the Christian religion
has specialized in dealing with "spiritual needs" to the exclusion of physical and social needs. It has specialized in people's destination in the afterlife but has failed to address significant social injustices in this life. It has focused on "me" and "my soul" and "my spiritual life" and "my eternal destiny," but it has failed to address the dominant societal and global realities of their lifetime: systemic injustice, systemic poverty, systemic ecological crisis, systemic dysfunctions of many kinds. (33)
Brian is often accused of focusing too much on social problems and not enough on the spiritual. But I think he is saying they must go hand in hand. God doesn't separate them. Jesus said we should love people and meet their needs--physical and spiritual.
The Christianity that we live out here doesn't make much sense in much of the world. How can it, when we are so rich, yet do so little to alleviate suffering in much of the world?
I'll climb off my soapbox. I'm loving this book; it has me thinking much more globally, which is what I believe God wants for those of us who follow Him.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
It was a good week--we had our first jazz service last Sunday; it was awesome! Never in Denver led the service; they were incredible! We're going to do this the third Sunday each month for a while.
Lisa and I led worship at Daybreak Community Church today; giving them a little taste of Convergence. It was good--Lisa did a fantastic dramatic interpretation of Luke 8.
Hear the new Springsteen song here.
I'm sitting in my office on Sunday afternoon, listening to Harp 46 rehearse. How cool is that!
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Jesus' message is not actually about escaping this troubled world for heaven's blissful shores, as is popularly assumed, but instead is about God's will being done on this troubled earth as it is in heaven.
He begins Everything Must Change with a discussion of what he sees as critical global crises, and some of the causes of these crises--the key one being a spirituality crisis.
Chapter two begins with two questions that have shaped McLaren's life:
1. What are the biggest problems in the world?
2. What does Jesus have to say about these global problems?
Combined into one question: What could change if we applied the message of Jesus--the good news of the kingdom of God--to the world's greatest problems?
This really speaks to me. I've been increasingly frustrated that we spend so much time and energy and money on the big issues according to the Christian/political right--abortion, gay marriage, trying to fix some countries (while letting genocide continue in others). These are important issues; but what about poverty, hunger, AIDS pandemic, war, violence, the health care crisis...?
Brian's questions seem like they should be obvious, but when we look around, not many of us are letting them influence us. I want to be a part of changing that.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
We've been talking for last few weeks about faith and justice, trying to get our small faith community to try to see people, life, issues--from God's perspective, and from the perspective of those who are different. I think that those of us in power--for the most part, white, upper middle class Americans--struggle to read the Bible as God intends--because much of it is written to the poor, oppressed, and marginalized.
So I want to find ways to help our folks see God's heart for people like that; but struggle in how to do it. What do I say? What stories do we tell? What videos do we watch that will help us get it? Then it hit me that we need to stop trying to say too much; and start with listening. Being quiet and still before God. Instead of discussing with each other and giving our ideas and answers, we need to be humble and pray and ask God to change our hearts, our perspectives, and to help us see more with His perspective.
So I'm trying to be quiet and listen, and encourage our folks to do the same.
Friday, August 03, 2007
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
...our reflections on God never bring us to God...speaking of God is never speaking of God but only ever speaking about our understanding of God. (p. 32)
This inspires me to seek God humbly. To strive to know Him better, and receive His love; but not to think I've got Him figured out. When I read others who say the Bible is clear and without ambiguity; I just don't think that's honest. The Bible is wonderful and confusing and beautiful and mysterious. I don't think God wants it to be easy for us. I think he wants us to pursue Him and wrestle with the Bible; always asking and listening and learning.
Here is one of the posters from Emerging Grace:
Monday, July 30, 2007
One of these sites is Pyromaniacs. They recently published a series of posters mocking the emerging church conversation. They are very creative, but a little mean-spirited.
Emerging Grace has just published a series of posters that better represent her perspective on the conversation. They are really wonderful.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
But it's a good kind of exhaustion; it was a good day; got to spend time with a lot of friends, old and new.
I spoke this morning about finding our identity in God's love. Simple yet profound; something that I think many of us just don't get. I spent some time reading some other blogs; watching people fight about doctrine and right belief; totally void of the love of God. Sad. I shouldn't waste my time there; but it's like passing an accident and not being able to keep from looking.
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
Friday, July 27, 2007
This has forced us to our knees, praying for faith that God will provide, and wisdom to make good decisions. I'm stressed, but that keeps me turning to God. We've talked about doing a home birth with a nurse or midwife--anyone have any experience with that?
I'm working on a sermon for Sunday--preaching at New Hope, my old church--about how we often find our identity in what we do, rather than in God. Very good stuff for me; I'll post some notes and thoughts when I'm done.
I am grateful to Stushie, who reviewed my blog here and encouraged me to write more often.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
But baseball is also hard for me these days. I used to umpire high school ball in Texas; it was a real joy and passion in my life. As a single guy, I worked games 5-6 days a week and loved it. My best friends were guys I worked with. Some of my favorite memories are umping tournament games at the Rangers Little League park, then going out for dinner and beers with my buddies. I remember working a no-hitter thrown by a guy that later got drafted. I once worked a ten-year-old AAU national championship game--what a celebration!
Since moving to VA and becoming a husband and father, baseball has taken a backseat. I haven't umped a game in five years; and I really miss it. I can't drive by a high school field without feeling a deep sense of loss and longing. And if there's actually a game going on when I drive by--forget it; I'm depressed for a few hours.
Now, I wouldn't change anything--my wife and kids give me more joy than I've ever known. But I still miss baseball. I hope that in a few years, when we're past the baby stage, I'll be able to get back into it. I look forward to taking Brady to his first major league game, and teaching him the intricacies of the game. Baseball is a lot like life--full of beauty, sometimes slow and relaxed, sometimes full of confusion and surprise and heartbreak. Some games you can't wait for the end; others you wish would go on forever.
As I sat and watched the other night, I felt so content; happy to be with my friends, feeling a cool summer breeze, seeing some good baseball action, and thinking of my family waiting at home for me--one of those "life is good" moments.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Then it hit me that freedom isn't about being able or allowed to do anything/everything; freedom is about connecting with God, and being free, (not being restricted) from anything that gets in the way of us becoming God's. Freedom is living life the way God intended; loving Him, loving people. True freedom helps us be authentic, who we truly are.
We talked about being in bondage to things--the law, guilt, selfishness, bad habits, negative self talk, a sense of duty, unhealthy relationships...but we can also be in bondage to things that appear to be good--serving, ministry, work; if we do them because we think we ought to.
True freedom is becoming all that I can when God's Spirit lives in and through my life. It happens as there is less and less between God and me, and more of Him in me.
Monday, June 18, 2007
I looked back over my own life and was amazed at how much (and how often) change has occurred. Even skipping over the childhood changes, here's a run-down:
17--fell in love/got my heart broken
18--finished high school
joined the army
went to Colorado
partied hard for 2 years
became a Christian
24--ended 3 year relationship
started full-time ministry
27--moved to Fort Worth, TX
10 years in TX--8 homes, 6 jobs, 5 girlfriends
37--moved back to VA
gained a daughter
lost my father
39--bought first house
41--fathered a son
became a lead pastor
42--another baby coming
it never slows down!
We talked about how some people thrive on change, while others are uncomfortable or fearful of change.
1. change that we initiate; taking risk, attempting something new, making a decision that leads to change
2. change that happens to us, outside our control, because of choices other people make, or God, or chance...
I guess it's about approaching life proactively or reactively. I think those that seek change (for good reasons) tend to get the most out of life, or enjoy it most.
So my question/challenge for anyone reading this: look at change in your life--do you initiate change, or is it something that tends to happen to you? I'd love to hear comments!
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Update: the sale is over. bummer.
I'm not usually a fan of reality TV, but my favorite new show is Top Chef, on Bravo. It's kind of like Survivor meets American Idol meets Rachel Ray. It's fun watching the contestants create these incredible dishes, and also watch them get competitive with each other. Check it out Wednesdays at 10 pm.
...we ought to affirm our view of God while at the same time realizing that that view is inadequate...it is important to bear in mind that this deconstruction is not destruction, for the questioning it engages in is not designed to undermine God but to affirm God.
I am grateful that God, while being above and beyond my grasp, makes Himself real and available to me. I do not have these conversations about God apart from Him, rather, He is a part of these discussions. I do not wrestle with questions of theology and philosophy on my own, I do it with Him! My doubts and struggles and questions do not undermine or diminish God--they could never do that--instead they make Him more real to me. The mystery doesn't keep me from him, rather it causes me to pursue Him more!
Sunday, June 10, 2007
The rest of the family is gone; so I'm having some quiet time before getting back to the paper. I have been reading Elizabeth Edwards's book Saving Graces. I spent the last half hour crying as I read the chapter about the death of her 16-year-old son. Obviously being a father with a pre-teen, a baby, and a baby on the way makes this hit home. I lost my father three years ago, and still grieve over that; but I cannot imagine losing one of my children.
Mrs. Edwards writes with honesty and strength and beauty. The book is wonderful (so far); I highly recommend it.
Monday, June 04, 2007
I tend to be very sensitive, and was exhausted after working all weekend; so the email hit me pretty hard. I let myself feel the pain of being harshly criticized for a while, then tried to evaluate the criticism. Much of it was founded. We evaluate our worship honestly each week, and I was thinking some of the same things. We had a discussion about wisdom; and the discussion never really moved beyond pat, "churchy" answers. Not what we wanted; but we were not prepared enough to go where I would have liked to take it. That's our fault, and I know we'll learn from that.
I think what was hardest was not the criticisms, but the way they were presented. Email is tough; you don't see facial expressions or hear someone's tone of voice. It was also hard because there was nothing positive, just one negative after another. It's always easier to take criticism if there is some encouragement as well.
It also hurt because this is a person I genuinely like. We've had a few conversations that I really enjoyed; and I have been looking forward to growing a friendship. I hope that will still happen. I also hope they will not be put off by this experience. I say all the time that worship is different week to week; I hope they will give us another chance!
Friday, June 01, 2007
God is not a theoretical problem to somehow resolve but rather a mystery to be participated in...'knowing' in the Hebrew tradition is about engaging in an intimate encounter rather than describing some objective fact: religious truth is thus that which transforms reality rather than that which describes it. (p. 23, emphasis mine)
Why are some people so opposed to mystery? Why do they belittle the faith of those who speak of God in these ways? Are people afraid that God can't do what he wants in the lives of people unless they figure him out and come to absolute conclusions about Him? Isn't He great enough to work in the midst of mystery?
If I had to choose between understanding God or experiencing God; I'd take the latter. But I don't think we have to choose; I think both are possible to a point...but that understanding comes in bits and pieces, in many ways. Since I have been letting go of trying to make the Bible and my theology fit into a neat package, I've experience God in so many ways--through the Bible, through God's Spirit, through relationships, through daily life, through Creation. I've said before nothing helps me know and experience the love of God more than the relationships I have with my children.
Yesterday B said his first word. I wish it was "daddy," but it wasn't. It was "Grandpa." Sitting and playing on my step-dad J's lap, he said "Grandpa;" not once, but four times! It was beautiful seeing the tears of joy in J's face. As a baby, B doesn't know or understand a lot. But he knows who loves him, and he knows who he loves, and he expressed his love in a beautiful way simply by saying the name of the one he loves. "Grandpa."
May we love the same way, "Father...Abba...Daddy..."
One of my struggles is reading the emerging church watchdogs. I know I shouldn't; it's a waste of time, but I do it anyway. The more I read, the more I'm amazed that professing Christians can behave this way. Maybe by sharing some of this and trying to laugh about it will help me not get so frustrated about it. A recent favorite was the guy who referred to the emerging conversation as the "emergent church spiritual bowel movement. ." Kind of ironic since he also refers to emergents as "potty-mouths."
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
The difference between the idea that our Christian traditions describe God and the view that they are worshipful responses to God is important to grasp, for while the former seeks to define, the latter is engaged with response. (p. 21)
I find that I connect with God more these days when I worship Him and respond to Him rather than trying to figure him out...Not that I don't ask questions; I'm finishing a philosophy course titled "Who is God" that is kicking my butt. It's got me asking all kinds of questions about omnipotence, foreknowledge, prayer, hell, suffering...But I find myself interacting with God more than ever in the midst of those questions. I used to feel like not knowing or understanding something made me feel further from Him; but now I feel just the opposite--questioning and seeking draw me to Him.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Let Someone In
by Sam Davidson
You're not in that much of a hurry.You stopped speeding, you use your blinker all the time, and you finally curtailed all of that nasty road rage. Prove it by letting someone else in. Even though you took Driver’s Ed., you're still not sure whose turn it is at those pesky four-way stops, blinking lights, or nervous roundabouts. Take the high road and motion your fellow travelers to go ahead of you. You'll be sure not to waste time with a fender bender, and someone's day might be made a little brighter by your generosity. Let one person cut in front of you in traffic today.
Monday, May 21, 2007
A lot of folks have jumped into the conversation. I'm glad so many have offered Doug their encouragement (not that he needs it...my guess is that Doug is pretty secure and not too upset by the criticism). One of the best responses is here on Fajita's blog.
I'm convinced there are two kinds of people who listen to and read these watchdogs (they call themselves discernment ministries--but I don't really see any ministry being done, only judging and condemning anyone who has a different perspective. They are most adamant about condemning successful ministries).
I think the people reading the watchdogs are:
1. People who have made up their minds about all matters of faith and have nothing more to discuss. They are convinced that they are right about everything and anyone who disagrees is wrong. They find support when they slam others and have their friends encourage them to keep it up.
2. People like me who read them, still amazed that people who call themselves Christians can be so oblivious to one of the Bible's main themes--to love one another. Now, they say they are loving, by telling the truth in love, but come on--there is no encouragement, only condemnation in their speech.
People read this stuff because they agree with it, or they don't. I really doubt that anyone is changing their minds because of it.
I also find it sad that they lump together a wide variety of churches and styles and perspectives, ie. emerging church, emergent, seeker-senstitive, megachurch, purpose-driven, contemporary worship, and announce that all those involved in these types of ministries are deceived, and that all leaders are bound for hell.
OK, I'll get off my soapbox for now.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Been way too busy; always feel behind, too much to do, not enough time. It's 1:30 am and I should be in bed...
Sunday was great, we talked about the unique path that each of us takes as we walk through life with Jesus, and how God uses all of who we are. I used Johnny Cash as an example--a man who sought God; was sometimes very close to Him, other times off on his own, but artistically and spiritually was an amazing man. We watched the video to the song "Hurt." (click to see the video) If you've never seen it; stop and watch it now. It's the most powerful music video I've ever seen.
OK, more Pete Rollins; chapter 2, short but deep:
the relationship we have with God cannot be reduced to our understanding of that relationship.Think about that for a while; I'm going to bed.
Monday, May 07, 2007
Friday, April 27, 2007
The emerging Church is thus able to leave aside the need for clarity and open up the way for us to accept the fact that what is important is that we are embraced by the beloved rather than finding agreement concerning how we ought to understand the beloved (as if a baby can only really love her mother if she understands her.)
I love the comparison of our love for God with the love of a baby for her mother. My relationship with my son Brady (11 months) has enriched my relationship with God. I better grasp His love for me because of the incredible love I have for Brady. I am filled with the purest joy I've ever known each time I look at him.
When he reaches his arms out for me, I pull him to my chest and hold him tight--that's the most wonderful feeling I've ever known. At the same time I see his love for me, his desire to hold onto me and play with me. I want to have that same love and desire for God; to simply long to be in His presence, in His arms.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
What is important about revelation is not that we seek to interpret it in the same way but rather that we all love it and are transformed by it.
I really like this. I need to hear this (I think a lot of us do--on both sides of the emergent fence). We get so caught up in explaining and arguing and conversing; we are spending a lot of time talking about God, and not much time with God.
I don't want God to look at me and say, "He's really wise, he knows his theology." I want God to look at me and be pleased that I am seeking Him, and becoming more like Him, and doing what I can to care for people. I want to be transformed. I'm not saying theology isn't important, just that it isn't the most important thing. God is great, and powerful. He doesn't need me to figure everything out in order to use me. As He transforms me, I believe He can help me know and understand Him better, and my theology will grow out of that.
One thing that is transforming me these days is engaging in "fixed-hour prayer," or in some circles, "praying the daily offices."
Simply put, praying at regular times throughout the day, mostly from Scripture. I've been using Phyllis Tickle's The Divine Hours. Check out her website, or see the prayers online here.
I grew up thinking that prayer was supposed to be spontaneous; that written prayers were not real, or heart-felt. So spontaneous prayer has always been a part of my life. But discovering the beauty and power of praying Scripture, and prayers written by other Christians over the centuries has been wonderful.
Here is one of today's prayers from The Divine Hours:
O God, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light: Grant that I, who have been raised with him, may abide in his presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory; through Jesus Christ my Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be dominion and praise for ever and ever. Amen.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
...revelation, far from being the opposite of concealment, has concealment built into its very heart. (p. 16)
Rollins speaks of going into a museum and contemplating a painting:
The painting could be said to offer us a type of revelation, for it stands before us and communicates a message. However, the message of a piece of art is not simple, singular or able to be mastered...When we ask ourselves about the meaning of the artwork, we are immediately involved in an act of interpretation which is influenced by what we bring to the painting. In a similar way, the revelation of God should be compared to a parable that speaks out of an excess of meaning...The parable is given to us, but at the same time its full wealth of meaning will never be fully mined. It is not reducible to some clear, singular, scientific formula but rather gives rise to a multitude of commentaries. (p. 16, 17; italics mine)...there is more, but I'll stop here and come back later...
I've been thinking on the line in italics above. We are all influenced by what we bring to faith and Scripture. I can't believe that people deny this, but many do. How else do you explain the incredible diversity in the universal Christian Church? So many within it think they have it figured out...reformed, charismatic, fundamental, evangelical, catholic, are only a few of literally hundreds of categories Christians use to define themselves, and most are absolutely certain that their understanding of Scripture and their ways of doing church are THE right ways, or at least the best.
I was in my twenties before I realized there were people who truly loved God and followed Jesus who were not Southern Baptist! I grew up being taught that we (southern Baptists--a group from which I now feel very different) were the only ones who really "got it," and everyone else was close but not quite there.
The more I read of the emerging conversation, the more I am convinced that many of these people, who often humbly admit that they don't have everything figured out, are actually closer to getting it than those who do think they have it all figured out. What is "it"? Not sure how to define; simply put, I guess I'm talking about connecting with God. Not knowing all about Him, not being able to explain the "true" meaning of all the Bible, but humbly living a life that strives to reflect His character.
it's been over a week since I posted. Monday was rough--the tragedy at VA Tech. It hit me really hard. I didn't personally know anyone affected; but it really got me down. Maybe being a parent makes these things hit me harder. I was pretty depressed for a few days.
Wednesday night I met with our new men's small group at church; it was a fantastic time, really ministered to me. We're starting The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. Looks like great stuff so far. We move back into the LAB (our smaller space) this Sunday; it was being painted last couple weeks. Should be great! Check out our website for pics and info.
We got great news this week; we received a substantial grant from the Virginia Baptist Mission Board. Very exciting! It will be a huge help in our renovations; also very affirming that others believe in and support what we are doing.
On Wednesday we went to Richmond for a level 2 sonogram. The doctor said the baby looks perfect! Jamie has a hunch it's a girl, and our friend Wayne predicted it's a girl--Wayne claims to be 19 for 19 in predicting the sex of babies (he was right on Brady).
I'm home with Brady today; having some great guy time!
Friday, April 13, 2007
We are presented with a warrior God and a peacemaker, a God of territorial allegiance and a God who transcends all territorial divides, an unchanging God and a God who can be redirected, a God of peace and a God of war, a God who is always watching the world and a God who fails to notice the oppression against Israel in Egypt. (p. 13; Rollins credits Philip Harrison for these insights)How do people respond to this? Many outside the Christian faith would discount God; saying He's inconsistent, or schizophrenic, or that the Bible presents such an irrational picture of God that it can't be accurate.
Others, probably most in the modern evangelical church, work to explain away the seeming inconstancies or contradictions. They want/need to find rational answers to the hard questions. I used to be in that camp. But even before I admitted it, I struggled with this. The God in the Bible seemed way too complex and mysterious to be easily and rationally explained.
Mr. Deity is a series of short films which satirize the modern church, from a perspective that knows about Christianity but isn't really Christian. The videos provoke hard questions about God and faith. Very funny, very irreverent. In vol. 9, Mr. Deity describes how He looks in the Bible: "I look like a total schizoid. The first half I'm all fire and brimstone, guns a'blazin'; I'm shooting first and asking questions later. And then all of a sudden, whoosh, I'm Sybil, right? I'm peace, love, and understanding."
I wrestle with the different sides of God we see in the Old and New Testaments...but rather than try to solve the mystery, I want to get to know Him better. I'm trying to spend more time knowing Him, not just knowing about Him...
We had incredible time together this morning--God, Brady and me. I took Brady for a walk through the neighborhood. He loves the trees, the lake, the dogs we see and hear...he just loves being outside. As we walked I talked to Brady, and I talked to God. I saw His love in the beauty around us, I heard it in the laughter of my son, and I felt it in the incredible joy in my heart.
Monday, April 09, 2007
Worship was good--several people said the highlight was Ashley's reading of the Easter story from a kids Bible storybook. Added an element of child-like faith...wide-eyed wonder. She did a wonderful job!
hard leaving home this morning. Most mornings I get up with Brady, spend an hour or two with him so Jamie can rest (she's not sleeping well at night). It is precious time. This morning we had a couple hours together before I had to go to work. I picked him up, hugged and kissed him goodbye and gave him back to Jamie. He started crying and reaching up for me! Nothing breaks your heart like having to leave when your child is reaching out for you!
Jamie is doing well (other than being tired), kids are fine, and in five months we'll have another! My life is so great!
Saturday, April 07, 2007
more from chapter 1, about "conceptual idolatry":
The term (idolatry) can be understood to refer to any attempt that would render the essence of God accessible, bringing god into either aesthetic visibility (in the form of a physical structure, such as a statue) or conceptual visibility (in the form of a concept, such as a theological system)...the former reduces God to a physical object while the latter reduces God to an intellectual object. (p. 12)later:
We do not find some simple, linear understanding of YHWH developing through the text, and thus we do not find a single, coherent definition of God, as proclaimed by many contemporary churches...Western theology has all too often reduced the beautifully varied and complex descriptions of God found in the Bible to a singular reading that does violence to its vibrant nature. (p. 12)This is so freeing. I sometimes feel attacked by those who criticize the emerging conversation (no one is attacking me directly, but they do attack people I read and respect and learn from). These watchdogs question if we really believe the Bible. They tell us we are not true Christians if we don't agree with their simple and clear interpretations of the Bible and share their precise understanding of who God is.
I really believe they have it backwards. God is so much greater than our limited ability to describe and explain Him! When we reduce God to a description that fits neatly into a systematic theology, we are capturing only a small piece of all that God is. We become guilty of idolatry!
I'm not saying we can't know anything of God; but that we can't know everything of God. We don't need to know everything of God to love Him and serve Him and worship Him...as my faith becomes more open and questioning and free, I find that I seek God and connect with Him in new and exciting ways. The Bible has come alive for me like never before. By not trying to intellectually understand so much about Him, I know and connect with Him more.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
...when we make absolute claims concerning what we believe about the world or God, acting as if our opinions were the result of some painstaking, objective and rational reflection, we end up deceiving ourselves, for our understanding is always an interpretation of the information before us (whether the raw material of the world or revelation) and thus is always affected by what we bring to the table.
wow. I don't see the need to add any commentary...but I'd love to hear people's reactions to that quote.
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Those within the emerging conversation are offering a different way of understanding the answers that we already possess. In other words, those involved in the conversation are not explicitly attempting to construct or unearth a different set of beliefs that would somehow be more appropriate in today's context, but rather, they are looking at the way in which we hold the beliefs that we already have. This is not a revolution that seeks to change what we believe, but rather one that sets about transforming the entire manner in which we hold our beliefs.In recent years my understanding and perspective of the Bible have changed a lot; but my beliefs in Jesus, and His Word and work have not; they have grown, becoming stronger and more real. Instead of reading the Bible as a textbook, a place to go to find answers, I read it as the story, the true story, of God and His love for His people. (And I feel no need to qualify "true" with the word "absolute.")
My faith is stronger because I dive into the Bible, wrestle with it, ask all kinds of questions (usually without clear, easy answers), and continue to seek God, in all his mystery and majesty. Critics want to deny mystery when it comes to God and the Bible. I read many writers and pastors who claim that there is no mystery; God has given us His Word, and it is clear and understandable. They call us heretics, claiming we question the obvious answers in the Bible.
Now I know most of these guys are way smarter than me. But I just don't see it. I think God wants us to enter into the mystery; I think that's why Jesus often spoke in parables and questions. He didn't give three point sermons that explained the Scriptures he quoted. He asked questions and let the listeners struggle; rather than giving easy answers.
OK, I'll get off my soap box. Today in worship we are going to walk through Scripture about the final week of Jesus' life--The entry into Jerusalem, Jesus' betrayal, last supper, arrest, trial, and crucifixion. No preaching, no commentary, just reading and acting out of Scripture. I think it will be powerful!
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
...those involved in the conversation acknowledge that Christianity involves a process of journeying and becoming. There is a shared understanding that being a Christian always involves becoming a Christian...faith embraces journey as a type of destination.
This speaks to me of our modern obsession with convincing people to:
close the deal
pray the prayer
cross the line
make a decision...
We put great emphasis on getting people to take an action that changes their status from lost to saved, non-Christian to Christian, condemned to forgiven, pagan to believer...but we are rarely as concerned with the journey.
I'm all for helping people choose to follow Jesus (it is part of my job!) But the challenging part, and I think the crucial part, is encouraging people on the journey they began by choosing Jesus. The decision or prayer is only the first step. It's really the easiest step. The journey that follows is incredible, frustrating, joyful, painful, frightening, mysterious, and adventurous.
Along similar lines, found this great article, "Jesus and the Sinner's Prayer" in Christianity Today by David Gushee. Got me thinking about Jesus' teaching when it comes to following Him; and how it's often different than the answers we give. He rarely gives the same answer twice; yet we have tried to come up with simple universal answers of what it means to follow him--the four spiritual laws, sinners prayer, etc.
If Jesus is to be believed, inheriting eternal life involves a comprehensive divine assessment at every step along our journey, not just at its inception.I want to be a pastor who, first of all, takes my journey seriously--constantly seeking and learning and interacting with Jesus; and second, is available to help others on that journey, not as a teacher, but as an encourager and fellow traveler.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Part 1 Intro:
The argument is made that naming God is never really naming God but only naming our understanding of God. To take our ideas of the divine and hold them as if they correspond to the reality of God is thus to construct a conceptual idol built from the materials of our mind.Wow. Much of the criticism of emergent has been that we don't hold firm enough to certain, absolute, infallible beliefs. The above quote tells me that holding our interpretations too tightly is a form of idolatry. I do believe in the Bible; but my beliefs, anyone's beliefs, are never exactly what the Bible says, but our understandings and interpretations of what the Bible says. That doesn't mean we can't learn from or follow the Bible, but it does mean we ought to be careful about arrogantly thinking that we have the one and only right reading...
Rollins goes on to contrast the Greek-influenced idea of orthodoxy as right belief with the "more Hebraic and mystical notion of the orthodox Christian as one who believes in the right way--that is , believing in a loving, sacrificial and Christlike manner."
That sure makes sense to me.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
ok, I'm a big kid. I admit it. Last month Ashley got a pair of heelys. First I thought, "I wish they had these when I was a kid." Then I wondered if they made them big enough for me. I was jealous. of my 11-year-old daughter.
Well, I just found out they DO make them big enough for me. So I've added a wish list to my blog. I rarely ask for anything; and I'm not at all materialistic. But I have a birthday in May and this is the only thing I'm asking for! (is my wife reading this?) You can find them HERE.
Laugh if you will, but it could be a great opportunity to bond with my daughter and her friends. or break my neck. Either way, it's an adventure!
Saturday, February 24, 2007
We had a lot of help today--friends from Cornerstone Baptist and the Church at Clarendon. My daughter Ashley and her friend Amanda were great helpers! It was so cool seeing folks jump in and serve!
Last night a few of us went to the 9:30 club in DC to see our own Jay Smith's band, Middle Distance Runner. Jay said playing there has been his dream for years; it was awesome! Twenty years ago I would have been up front by the stage dancing and drinking; but at 41, midnight is really late for a show to start! I didn't get home till almost 3 am, then up at 8 and off to church to paint.
OK, I'm running out of steam; I'll write more tomorrow. If you want to laugh, check out Mr. Deity. Very funny stuff--but you can't be too easily offended about faith. They do prompt some great questions.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
So we come back to find our neighborhood covered with ice. Literally. We're not going anywhere until it thaws!
A lot going through my head about the National Pastors Convention...especially about the Bible. For years I've felt like I've had this framework of faith and theology, and we try to make the Bible fit within that framework. I know the intentions are good, but I think more and more that we miss God's purpose. We argue about how literally to take the Bible...we argue over words like inerrant and infallible and authoritative...and what kills me is that these arguments aren't between Christians and non-Christians--they are going on within the church.
I think Jesus looks at this and sadly shakes His head. I think He probably feels like we so often miss the point. It shouldn't be about arguing, and making sure we get everything right--it should be about finding Jesus--His person, His heart, His desires, His Spirit, in the stories of the Bible. Receiving His love. Loving others in the same way.
I often hesitate writing about stuff like this. I'm not a theologian. I've forgotten much of what I've learned in seminary. I am a student, trying to know Jesus more and more, and become more like Him.
As a lover of literature, I'm excited about how I read the Bible these days. I see how God used all kinds of people to tell His stories. I am letting go of hangups about everything being historically and scientifically "accurate." I'm not saying the Bible is not true. I believe it is. But I think God's perspective of Biblical truth is very different from what a lot of people seem to think--inerrant, infallible, etc...
I realize I say "I think" a lot; and I know friends who will tell me I can't trust my thinking, I can only trust God's Word. But then they quote a verse to support their view; regardless of the historical and theological context of that verse...I'm diving into Jesus' words and stories, especially the Sermon on the Mount. Wow. Revolutionary stuff if we read it as if He meant it! OK, time to get off my soap box and get to bed.
Glad to be back in VA--excited about lots of work/renovations going on at church this week. Join us at Convergence if you can!
Friday, February 09, 2007
I'm at the National Pastors Convention in San Diego this week. Great to get away! Good time to relax, hear some challenging ideas from some great thinkers like Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Phyllis Tickle.
I've had some interesting discussions with different pastors about how they perceive some of the activities going on this week. Worship has been led by a really dynamic worship leader…very sincere, emotional, charismatic. The songs have been typical praise songs popular in last ten years. Band is great, fancy light show. It’s the kind of worship I really enjoyed and connected with a few years ago, but these days seems a little hollow or empty to me. Feels more like a show than a worship experience.
I’ve talked with a few others to get their perspective. A couple of younger folks, “emerging types,” feel as I do about worship—some even more critical. Feels like the emphasis is on us, our energy and emotions, not on God, even though the words were about or sung to Him.
But some of the pastors who are a little older (45-55), think the worship is great. One said it wasn’t anything new, “nothing out of the box,” but that the leader created an atmosphere that was really powerful. They were wondering how to re-create that atmosphere in their church.
It made me think about what we are doing at Convergence. There is always a tendency to want to recreate a particular feeling or atmosphere; but I think we really want to create something that is our own, something that reflects our community, our people.
Anyway, it's interesting how different the opinions were about the worship. There is so much diversity, even in our church culture, and got me thinking —churched and unchurched, modern and post-modern, high energy and contemplative…
A lot of thoughts going through my head. Great seminar earlier in the week with Brian McLaren and Richard Twiss about the Bible. All the heat Brian takes about not respecting or valuing Scripture is crap. I was amazed at how much thought and energy he puts into seeking and learning and living Scripture as God intends. I really believe he has a much higher view of God's Word than those who quote it randomly and out of context in order to criticize others. I know my love for God and Scripture is growing as God works through people like Brian and Doug.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Sunday night we had our monthly communion service. We gather for dinner (a team effort--Jamie's recipe/my cooking!), then share communion, then have some creative worship. Communion was really powerful for me this week. It's so wonderful to be sitting around a table, smiling, laughing, sharing our lives and stories; then to join together in prayer both serious and joyful.
We watched one of Rob Bell's Nooma videos called "Trees." He asks some great questions about meaning and significance in life. We had a great discussion afterward, then played some games. These communion nights are one of my favorite things that we do. I hope that in time we do them even more often.
I love this quote from
Other notes: Reading Brian McLaren's The Secret Message of Jesus. Great stuff; we're using some of it as we talk about the Kingdom of God during Jan. and Feb. at church...going to San Diego for the National Pastors Convention and some vacation next week--really excited to get away with my family...speaking of family, ours is getting ready to expand (this should tell me if anyone is reading my blog!)...Have a great day!
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Something here must run in the family; Jamie told me about a time years ago when she was in the shower and Ashley called 911 from the home phone. The police showed up at the door as Jamie was getting out!
I have a feeling this is just the first of many adventures to come!
Mornings like today are awesome...I get up with Brady so Jamie can sleep a little more. We talk and play and I have prayer time with him--just praying for him and my family. It's really cool; he almost always starts smiling when I pray out loud with him. Kids are great!
Friday, January 19, 2007
Thursday, January 18, 2007
I spoke last Sunday about "The Kingdom as a Party," from John 2 where Jesus turned the water into wine. Got me thinking about how God really wants us to celebrate--Him, life, family, friends...Interesting that John chose as his first recorded miracle--not a healing or feeding, but saving a party!
I get so caught up in life's demands, that I don't take time to celebrate and enjoy. I'm trying to celebrate the little things--a good meal, the laughter of my children, a funny movie, a beautiful song, a pretty smile. Sometimes I look back at my "best days," days that made great memories, like surprise parties on my 16th, 21st, and 40th birthdays, my wedding day, the day Brady was born, a day at Kings Dominion with Ashley. I really do have much to celebrate!
If anyone's reading this, I'd love to hear about some of your "best days!"
Monday, January 15, 2007
I try to think carefully before I speak about politics and hot issues; not to hide my views, but to be sensitive to others and not alienate people. But I recently received an email that really got me going. It was one of those emails that everyone forwards to family and friends--here it is:
A mother asked President Bush,... "Why did my son have to die in
Another mother asked President Kennedy,... "Why did my son have to die in
Another mother asked President Truman,... "Why did my son have to die in
Another mother asked President F.D. Roosevelt,... "Why did my son have to die at
Another mother asked President W. Wilson,... "Why did my son have to die on the battlefield of
Yet another mother asked President Lincoln,... "Why did my son have to die at
And yet another mother asked President G. Washington,... "Why did my son have to die near
Then long, long ago, a mother asked... "Heavenly Father, why did my Son have to die on a cross outside of
The answers to all these are similar -- "So that others may have life and dwell in peace, happiness and freedom."
I know the people that write and send these things mean well. But this is ridiculous. It implies that our military is on a holy mission. The scary thing is; a lot of people believe just that. To compare the death of our soldiers in
Many people say that if you are against the war, then you are not supporting our troops. Many believe that Christians should support the war, because President Bush is a Christian and is being led by God. That is frightening. I don't doubt the president's faith, but I don't think he is leading the way Jesus taught.
Now I support our soldiers completely. I am an army veteran, and am grateful to those who serve. But my heart is broken that so many have died needlessly, along with so many Iraqis. And while I support our soldiers, I don't support the continuing strategy that put them where they are. I don't support the horrible decisions our leaders continue to make, that lead to so many deaths and are actually making the world a more dangerous place.
Jim Wallis has a great post about the war on his blog; and communicates much of what I feel, but far more eloquently. My desire is that our leaders do all they can to bring our soldiers home. I hate the ongoing violence in the middle east, and pray that God will bring peace and healing; but I think it's crazy to think it will happen through war, especially one led by the
I'll step down from my soapbox now. My blood is pumping because of four hours of 24 in the last two days. (OK, you may be wondering how I can be so pro-peace, anti-war, then be a fan of such a violent, stereotypical terrorist tv show. No idea. I just am. I never claimed that my life makes sense.)
Friday, January 05, 2007
If you're curious or interested in all the buzz, here are some blogs to look at.
Here is the first of a series from MacArthur, Brian McLaren and the Clarity of Scripture.
I don't encourage you to spend too much time here; I think MacArthur's opinions and judgments about McLaren and emerging church are unfair and inaccurate. But it is good to know the different perspectives out there.
Dan Kimball, author of The Emerging Church, gave a great response on his blog.
Paul Mayers has a great post on all this at Jason Clark's blog.
And Bill Kinnon has a great humorous response.
We've got a big planning day at church Sunday; things are moving along well!
Happy New Year!