Monday, December 15, 2008


I'm completely ashamed that it's been a month since I wrote. Crap. I keep saying I want to write more, but life never slows down and I forget, and put it off, and suddenly it's a month later.

It's been a good month. We had a great vacation to Washington (state) to see Jamie's family. My brother-in-law Chad got us tickets to the Redskins--Seahawks game (the only game the Skins have won in quite a while).

The kids got to see and play with cousins; it was great. 

Work is good, it's been a busy month, but will hopefully slow down during the holidays. 

I'm going to update stuff on the blog--books, movies, etc.

I have been keeping up with facebook more; look for me there. As always, I'll try to write more soon!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Keith Olberman on Prop. 8

I encourage you to check this out--video and transcript of Keith Olberman's impassioned comment on Proposition 8.

My purpose in posting this is not to promote debate, or even discussion (although I'm open to it). I'm not asking you to tell me what you think. (I already know how most of my friends think about this issue--funny how I have friends who really love God on both sides of this issue).  I'm just encouraging you to listen. and think. and pray.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

President-Elect Obama's Victory Speech

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

Its the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

Its been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he's fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nations promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation's next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy thats coming with us to the White House. And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics - you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what youve sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to - it belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington - it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generations apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.

I know you didn't do this just to win an election and I know you didnt do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage, or pay their doctors bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government cant solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way its been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, its that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers - in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House - a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, We are not enemies, but friends, though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn - I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world - our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down - we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security - we support you. And to all those who have wondered if Americas beacon still burns as bright - tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America - that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one thats on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. Shes a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing - Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldnt vote for two reasons - because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that shes seen throughout her century in America - the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we cant, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when womens voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that We Shall Overcome. Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves - if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time - to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we cant, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

no baseball

The pic is old; but I like it. John and Kenny at the Nationals final home game of the season, which was rained out. We didn't get to watch baseball, but had some good beer and food.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Bruce Springsteen, Vote for Change Rally, October 4, 2008

"Hello Philly,

"I am glad to be here today for this voter registration drive and for Barack Obama, the next President of the United States.

"I've spent 35 years writing about America, its people, and the meaning of the American Promise. The Promise that was handed down to us, right here in this city from our founding fathers, with one instruction: Do your best to make these things real. Opportunity, equality, social and economic justice, a fair shake for all of our citizens, the American idea, as a positive influence, around the world for a more just and peaceful existence. These are the things that give our lives hope, shape, and meaning. They are the ties that bind us together and give us faith in our contract with one another.

"I've spent most of my creative life measuring the distance between that American promise and American reality. For many Americans, who are today losing their jobs, their homes, seeing their retirement funds disappear, who have no healthcare, or who have been abandoned in our inner cities. The distance between that promise and that reality has never been greater or more painful.

"I believe Senator Obama has taken the measure of that distance in his own life and in his work. I believe he understands, in his heart, the cost of that distance, in blood and suffering, in the lives of everyday Americans. I believe as president, he would work to restore that promise to so many of our fellow citizens who have justifiably lost faith in its meaning. After the disastrous administration of the past 8 years, we need someone to lead us in an American reclamation project. In my job, I travel the world, and occasionally play big stadiums, just like Senator Obama. I've continued to find, wherever I go, America remains a repository of people's hopes, possibilities, and desires, and that despite the terrible erosion to our standing around the world, accomplished by our recent administration, we remain, for many, a house of dreams. One thousand George Bushes and one thousand Dick Cheneys will never be able to tear that house down.

"They will, however, be leaving office, dropping the national tragedies of Katrina, Iraq, and our financial crisis in our laps. Our sacred house of dreams has been abused, looted, and left in a terrible state of disrepair. It needs care; it needs saving, it needs defending against those who would sell it down the river for power or a quick buck. It needs strong arms, hearts, and minds. It needs someone with Senator Obama's understanding, temperateness, deliberativeness, maturity, compassion, toughness, and faith, to help us rebuild our house once again. But most importantly, it needs us. You and me. To build that house with the generosity that is at the heart of the American spirit. A house that is truer and big enough to contain the hopes and dreams of all of our fellow citizens. That is where our future lies. We will rise or fall as a people by our ability to accomplish this task. Now I don't know about you, but I want that dream back, I want my America back, I want my country back.

"So now is the time to stand with Barack Obama and Joe Biden, roll up our sleeves, and come on up for the rising."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Brian McLaren--Obama, Part 5

Why I'm Voting for Barack Obama, and Why I Hope You Will Too, part 5
by Brian McLaren.

In this post, Brian addresses abortion.

(I know I skipped part 4, you can read it here--it's about the environment.)

hello again

Sorry (if anyone is out there) that I haven't written in a while. Just been really busy and haven't made it a priority. I'm attempting again to remedy that...

life is great, but crazy busy. church is going well, new people are coming around and joining, including some artists. we are in the midst of a series on the Sermon on the Mount, where artists are interpreting and creating and leading us in worship...

check out the Convergence blog to

I've been in an exhausting conversation with a friend who adamantly opposes Obama, basically saying that Christians who support Obama are defying God. 

Four years ago, eight years ago, actually every election since I could first vote in 1984; I have voted Republican, because I was told that Republicans championed Christian values and that Democrats were Godless liberals.

As my thinking has opened up in recent years; and seeing much in the current administration, and our country, that does not reflect God; my political views have changed.

If you are a Christian (or even if not) I encourage you to look at the ProLife, ProObama page from the Matthew 25 website for a different perspective on Christians, the election, and abortion...also see this Put Away Falsehood page from Matthew 25 that addresses a lot of, well, falsehoods about Obama and his positions.

Another good site is Clergy for Obama.

As a pastor, I realize I am taking a risk in endorsing a candidate. I do not do so from the pulpit (we don't us a pulpit anyway :-) )

But we have a very open and diverse community at Convergence, and I think I communicate an attitude of acceptance and respect for all people and all opinions. I would rather us have conversation about politics, and learn from one another, than create an atmosphere where people are afraid to be honest or feel judged if they have a different perspective.

Monday, October 06, 2008


great story about the Redskins, who have gone from the team expected to finish last in the division to one of the best in the league.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

election and abortion

I've been in some good conversations lately about the election, and the typical conservative Christian perspective that you can't be a Christian and vote for a pro-choice candidate.

here are some good blogs that address this issue:

McLaren--Obama, pt. 3

Why I'm Voting for Barack Obama...(part 3)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Redskins 26 Cowboys 24

enough politics...onto something really important--The Redskins beat the Cowboys!

great day today; church at New Hope this morning with my family, then a reception for the current exhibit in our gallery, with artist Carl Lennartson.

worship tonight was good. we talked about the atonement--looking at four different models or theories, how none of them is complete on their own, and how a theology based on more than one model can change how we see God.

Here are summaries we looked at--taken from a variety of sources:

Models of Atonement

Christus Victor

Atonement is about the incarnation of Jesus into this world, and of participation and sharing in the suffering of humanity, taking them to the cross, so that God triumphs over evil and all of creation is restored and recreated.


This model is grounded in the concept of personal honor found in the European feudal culture. Sin dishonors God. A price must be paid to satisfy God and restore his divine honor. The only penalty suitable to God was Christ’s obedience to death.

Moral Influence

Jesus’ self-giving love, expressed in his death on the cross, leads us to love God and love others fully, giving our lives back to God.

Penal Substitution

Christ, by his own sacrificial choice, was punished in the place of sinners, thus satisfying the demands of justice so God can justly forgive sins.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

will they debate?

Great piece from Joe Garofoli of the San Francisco Chronicle about McCain's debate tactics.

McCain says he doesn't want to debate because this is a time for America to focus on the crisis, not politics--this whole strategy is a political tactic.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

election stuff

Why I Am Voting for Obama, and Why I Hope You Will, Too 
by Brian Mclaren

some friends are challenging me to dig deeper and explain why I prefer Barack Obama in the upcoming election. To be honest, I don't have the time to explain it all in my words. Between church and the house and my kids, I'm lucky to find a few minutes here and there to blog.

My purpose in this blog is to express what I'm thinking and feeling and doing and pondering...I blogged a couple times about the unethical practices of the McCain campaign; a couple of my friends told me I shouldn't pay attention to that stuff, but look at the candidates and their platforms. 

Fair enough...but I also think how these men (and women) are campaigning says a lot about their character, and for me, that is an important for those of you who tell me I shouldn't complain and that I need to spend more time and energy explaining why I prefer Obama--sorry, that's just not the direction I want to go. 

It's my blog.  (this is me jokingly sticking my tongue out) There is enough written out there about all this, some of it slanted, but some of it very accurate. It seems clear to me, even from my friends who are challenging me--that we all prefer to read people and pieces that reflect our perspective, but that we tend to ignore or dismiss those that don't.

I'm trying to read a lot, from different perspectives, but not seeing much that changes my mind. The link above goes to an article I found myself agreeing with.

so...I'm glad to discuss, but I don't want this blog to be about the election. I just happened to post a couple times on stuff that struck me...the next post will probably be about fantasy football or attending a couple upcoming Washington Nationals games.

Thanks for reading! 

(Veritable--I disagree about your words carrying more weight anonymously...I'm more likely to listen if there is some level of trust...but I am curious and always enjoy a mystery. If you'll give me a clue; I promise to not reveal your identity publicly, since you want to remain anonymous)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

how can people believe this stuff!

I used to be very conservative; I usually voted Republican. I have shifted quite a bit, but I still think I can be pretty objective. But I am outraged at the lying and manipulation being done by the McCain campaign. It's embarrassing.

I'm trying to teach my daughter about the political process. what do I say to her, when people who claim to be Christians, and who should be setting an example for how we treat others, are committing such horrible acts?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


OK, I don't want to just write about the election...but I am really amazed at the dishonesty of the Republican ticket. I'm not saying the democrats are squeaky clean...but I haven't heard anything like this on their end.

Check out this from an article from the AP:

Republican presidential nominee John McCain and his running mateAlaska Gov. Sarah Palin, equated lawmakers' requests for funding for special projects with corruption on Wednesday even though Palin herself has requested nearly $200 million in so-called "earmarks" this year.

later on:

Palin routinely claims to have put an end to Alaska's infamous "bridge to nowhere," even though she supported the project during her gubernatorial campaign and turned against it only when it became a national embarrassment and Congress threatened to cut its funding.

In this article, we see how McCain drastically twists an Obama vote on sex education. Obama was voting for legislation that would give schools the ability to warn young children about inappropriate touching and sexual predators. McCain now runs an ad that says Obama wanted to teach comprehensive sex education to kindergartners--a gross distortion.

I am convinced that many conservative Christians in politics (ie. Palin, Bush and others) really believe they are on a mission for God. They are so convinced of the righteousness of their mission, that they have no problem lying to accomplish their goals. that's scary.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

hypocrisy from the right

Check out this clip of Jon Stewart pointing out hypocrisy on the political right, from both politicians and media. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Donald Miller prayer

Here is the text from Donald Miller's prayer at the Democratic National Convention a couple days ago:

"Father God,

This week, as the world looks on, help the leaders in this room create a civil dialogue about our future.

We need you, God, as individuals and also as a nation.

We need you to protect us from our enemies, but also from ourselves, because we are easily tempted toward apathy.

Give us a passion to advance opportunities for the least of these, for widows and orphans, for single moms and children whose fathers have left.

Give us the eyes to see them, and the ears to hear them, and hands willing to serve them.

Help us serve people, not just causes. And stand up to specific injustices rather than vague notions.

Give those in this room who have power, along with those who will meet next week, the courage to work together to finally provide health care to those who don’t have any, and a living wage so families can thrive rather than struggle.

Hep us figure out how to pay teachers what they deserve and give children an equal opportunity to get a college education.

Help us figure out the balance between economic opportunity and corporate gluttony.

We have tried to solve these problems ourselves but they are still there. We need your help.

Father, will you restore our moral standing in the world.

A lot of people don’t like us but that’s because they don’t know the heart of the average American.

Will you give us favor and forgiveness, along with our allies around the world.

Help us be an example of humility and strength once again.

Lastly, father, unify us.

Even in our diversity help us see how much we have in common.

And unify us not just in our ideas and in our sentiments—but in our actions, as we look around and figure out something we can do to help create an America even greater than the one we have come to cherish.

God we know that you are good.

Thank you for blessing us in so many ways as Americans.

I make these requests in the name of your son, Jesus, who gave his own life against the forces of injustice.

Let Him be our example.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

bruce live

Last night I saw Bruce Springsteen in concert for the 11th time. That’s right, 11. One more than 10 (which was a nice round number, and one my wife thought was a good one on which to end my Bruce concert career).

But he was in Richmond last night; only an hour away, and I decided to save up my allowance for a couple months and do it. Kenny and I drove down, had a forgettable dinner at the Third Street Diner (Penny Lane was too crowded), and went to the show.

The concert was amazing. Back in the 80’s he played monstrous 4-hour marathon shows. Bruce is 58 years old now; the shows these days usually go about 2-1/2 hours. Last night he played for 3 hours. He talked about how special Richmond was—in the early days, it was the first place outside of New Jersy that he played.

Each concert is an amazing experience. (check this out: The Gospel According to Bruce Springsteen.)

There are times when the experience is transcendant. 10,000 strangers (or more, I once saw him with 50,000 at Mile High Stadium in Denver) joined together, connected by the music. And the music is incredible. Bruce sings about life--good, bad, relationships, tragedy, hope. He did a good mix of old and new; several of my favorite songs—"Badlands," "Cadillac Ranch," "She’s the One"...

I thought about how Bruce’s music has been the soundtrack of my life. I began listening seriously when my friend Jeff introduced me to Born to Run in high school.

I was fully converted when I saw him for the first time in Denver--November 11, 1984. Now, 24 years later, I hear the songs and each one takes me back to a different time in my life, bringing memories of an old girlfriend, or job, or home, or car... 

If you've never seen Springsteen; do it next time you get a chance. I've seen a lot of concerts; his are without a doubt the best.

Friday, August 08, 2008

good day, busy week

Great day yesterday; had lunch with good friend Joey Tomassoni. Joey has been instrumental, mostly behind the scenes, in much of what we have done at Convergence. Even more, he is just a really great guy. Loves God, loves people, really bright and encouraging. 

we ate lunch outside in Annapolis--it was a beautiful day. We were joined by two of Joey's friends, Brandon and Darren. Darren leads a ministry that has a lot in common with Convergence called Creative Paradox.

the low point was sitting on the beltway for 2 1/2 hours, going about 5 mph.

but the day got better with a great meeting with Amy, talking about getting some ministry stuff going and organized at Convergence.

I've got a paper due next friday, and a sermon to write for Sunday...but I'm going to bed...

Sunday, August 03, 2008

where the hell is matt?

check out this website--Matt traveled the world and filmed himself dancing in dozens of countries, sometimes alone, sometimes with lots of people. My friend David told me about it.

At first I thought it was just funny, but after a while felt it was really profound--watching this man dance with people all over the world. I got this sense of how no matter how different, or far apart we are, we are all connected. It's really kind of beautiful. Take a look.

final leg--Atlanta

We reluctantly left Alabama, but were really glad to arrive in Atlanta to stay with my cousin Brian and his wife Renee. They have two beautiful kids--Declan and Aislan. It was wonderful to see them, my uncle Larry and Aunt Judy, cousin Sean and his wife Debra, Sean's daughter McKinsey, and my cousin Jennifer's daughter Drew. 

I grew up going on vacations with Sean, Brian and Jennifer, and have stayed pretty close over the years. They are all super people, it is great seeing them, and their families...

It was a great way to wrap up the vacation--hanging with my cousins, and watching our children play together the way we used to.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

vacation days 4-6--Alabama

(I'm blogging with more detail and pics on our family blog. It is viewable by invitation only; let me know if you'd like to see it!) up, packed, went to lunch at Grandma's, then goodbye visit at Aunt Sharon's. It was so great to spend time with them; of course, the boys captured both their hearts, and both were amazed at the beautiful young lady A is becoming.

We drove to Lake Martin, AL to see my friends Ryan and Kelly. Ryan and Kelly both taught with me in Forth Worth, and quickly became dear friends. We've kept in touch and were eager to spend time with them and their two boys.

We stayed at the lake house owned by Kelly's parents. It was beautiful--literally right on the lake, with several decks and porches, a dock, boats, everything you could want. B hit it off with their boys, and even more with their dog Aslan!

We ate dinner,  talked and caught up, and discovered that we have a favorite show in common--The Office; so we watched some TV. Great to relax and be with people we love!

We spent the next two days eating, swimming, splashing, tubing, waterskiing, took the boys for their first boat was an awesome two days; the most relaxed and fun we've all felt in a while.

Ryan and Kelly are wonderful people--kind, loving, fun, easy-going. The best friendships are ones where, even after years apart, you bond immediately when reunited. That's how it is with Ryan and Kelly.

Monday, July 28, 2008

road trip day 3

Got up today and had breakfast at the hotel; it's not easy getting everyone up and dressed and to the dining room on time; so J made about 10 trips bringing cereal, waffles, eggs, juice, etc. to the room.

We went for a swim at the hotel, then went to Grandma's for lunch--had barbecue from Center Point Barbecue--really good.

The boys napped in the afternoon, so we relaxed. Met Aunt Sharon for dinner at Opry Mills Mall (I'm still mad that they tore down Opry Land to build a shopping mall)...

Sharon took us to dinner at The Aquarium. The boys loved the atmosphere--incredible sea life in this enormous aquarium in the middle of the restaurant, and the seafood was fantastic. B had a blast walking around the aquarium, looking at all the fish, talking to other kids...We got some cool souvenirs for the kids.

After dinner we walked around the mall, got an aqua massage--really cool. Went to the Bass Pro Shop, J was in heaven.

Late night, but very much worth it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

road trip day 1 and 2

We made it to Nashville. Day one was good; made pretty good time. The kids watched movies, we sang songs, and played Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? (I wasn't). The baby slept a lot.

My sweet wife almost got in a fight at a rest stop where we ate lunch. A guy started mowing the grass and shot dirt and grass all over us. I thought J was going to knock the guy off his John Deere; but she restrained herself and politely told him how she felt. He apologized.

The highlight was crossing into Tennessee and getting Krystal's for dinner. If you've never had a Krystal--you need to next time you're in the South--great hamburgers (and small--you need to eat at least 4). They were just as good for breakfast today!

Last night we stopped in Bulls Gap, TN (about halfway between Bristol and Knoxville) to spend the night. The toddler had a rough night--didn't want to go to sleep, or stay asleep. J was exhausted and frustrated, finally climbed into the pack-n-play with B. I opened my big mouth before I thought and said, "I don't think that thing is meant to support your weight." not too smart.

But overall, day one was good.

Day two was even a late start--but we're committed to relaxing--not rushing--on this trip. Stopped for lunch at a really nice rest area. B saw a butterfly and started following, so I followed him--all over the place. I love watching him so excited about the world around him. Later on he saw a young bird that was hopping more than flying, and followed it for a while.

We walked up the hill to where the trucks parked and watched the 18 wheelers drive in and out. Whenever a truck drove out, B and I would wave to the drivers--several of them blew their horns for B--he loved it!

Got into Nashville around 4, unloaded and unpacked, then want to my grandmother's for dinner; wonderful time. She is in her late 80's and met the boys for the first time; it was sweet watching B hug and kiss her! Also had a great visit with Aunt Sheila.

The day ended with daughter and I going for a late-night swim here at the hotel. While traveling, most of our attention is on the boys, so I feel A often gets the short end. It was great to spend time with her tonight! off to bed!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

read this poem

You must read this beautiful poem by my friend Amy.

Friday, July 18, 2008

my friend is famous

Check out this HBO commercial--the music is my friend Jay's Band, Middle Distance Runner.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

great video

you've got to check this out; from JibJab, the guys who did great videos during the last elections.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

last week is over/yesterday was great!

thank God, last week is over. I blogged last week about how rough it was--it kept up through Sunday.

we rent space at Convergence to a preschool; but realize it's time to take back the space they use so that we can better fulfill our mission. Sunday we met with their leaders to tell them we were going to give them one more year on their lease. 

I knew they would be upset, and expected them to plead with us; but wasn't prepared for the anger and accusations. I don't want to replay any of that now; I just say that to explain that I went into worship Sunday afternoon feeling like crap.

(New rule, no more 4 pm meetings on Sunday!)

It was the final in a series of meetings and conversations over the last 5 days that were really hard. I hate hurting or upsetting people; and seems I had to do it several times...

but worship turned out good (you can read about it here.) I was so grateful for the support of our leaders, who walked through some of the difficulties with Lisa and me, and really encouraged us.

So I went into my day off Monday really needing a change; and I got it. Yesterday was one of those "best days." We went to Kings Dominion, with low expectations because of a forecast of thunderstorms; but it was sunny all day, almost a perfect day. 

the crowd was small; so we never had to wait for rides. Brady rode his first roller coaster; had a blast. We rode rides and splashed in the waterpark. Brady got a kick just watching the drop zone over and over.

it was so fun watching him walk around, gazing in wonder at the sights around him. All day I felt so much joy, just being with my family. 

Ashley brought a friend and both were really good all day.

We didn't expect to stay too long; but didn't leave till almost 10 pm. I was exhausted; but it was worth it!

Friday, July 11, 2008

rough week

it's been a really rough week; with some really good times interspersed. I shouldn't get into a lot of detail; but had to make some decisions and had some conversations that were very hard; had big impact on other people, hurt some people's feelings, disappointed some...

I tried to do everything well; but know I know I made some mistakes along the way. I just felt several times throughout the week like the grim reaper--the bearer of bad news.

it was pretty exhausting spiritually and emotionally. 

but I also had some good times...great time with Bud, lunch downtown and a visit to the Studio Gallery...Elise gave a fantastic lecture on The Artist and Faith in Community. Afterward several of us hung out at Lisa's house and had great conversation about worship. At times like that I really feel God's presence realize how special this faith community is.

Also had special time with my boys, got a few things done at work, and watched some good TV (finished season 1 of Deadwood.)

A lot to do in the coming week, then we're on vacation--Nashville, Lake Martin, AL, and Atlanta. Should be a great road trip!

Friday, July 04, 2008

a classy move

Gilbert Arenas of the Washington Wizards signed a new contract for $111 million over six years, even though the Wizards offered him $127 million. He took less money so the team would have more to pay other players.

"What can I do for my family with $127 million that I can't do for $111 million?" asked Arenas.

wow. makes sense to me. Great to see a top professional athlete more concerned with his team than himself. 

I still think it's ridiculous what we pay athletes.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

don't miss this!

starting next week at Convergence--this will be a great opportunity to see where we are headed in some areas and how important this is to our community and our world.

Artist in Residence, Elise Edwards, will lead a series of lecture and discussion groups in July on the theme of the Artist and Faith in Community. 
This series is free and open to the public. 
Thursdays, July 10, 17 & 24 at  7:00 pm


Discussion Topics:

-What is the place of the artist in Christian community?

-Worship Planning and the Design Process

-The Connection Between Art, Faith and Civic Engagement

Elise is an architect and designer. She holds an MTS degree from the John Leland Center for Theological Studies and is a Ph.D. student at Claremont Graduate School in Claremont CA. Elise is also a founding member of Convergence and the designer of our renovation projects.

update and random thoughts

after a crazy couple of weeks, Monday was a great day. We did a little housework in the morning, set up Jamie's new iMac (my macbook seems puny now!), and spent the afternoon relaxing and playing with our boys.

It was the best day I've had in a long time, just relaxing and recharging and enjoying my beautiful family!

Watching season 1 of Deadwood. The language is rough, but like most HBO series, has incredible writing and acting.

Interesting article about Bruce Springsteen and spirituality at the Washington Post. 

Last week I got tickets to see him next month in Richmond with my friend Kenny. Can't wait!

work is good--we continue to meet new people, and the sense of community and intimacy is growing. I really look forward to Sunday afternoons these days.

Josh and Shey are home now; Rowan is doing well. Please keep praying for Shey--still having back problems.

Had lunch with my friend Chris yesterday; he reminded me fantasy football is not far off--hooray!

time for dinner...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

challenging time

This is a really challenging season in life. I have four dear friends (two couples) dealing with serious marriage trouble...several friends struggling with depression...two sick boys, and a wife who isn’t sleeping much, exhausted from running our home…one of my favorite people is in the midst of of my best friends is a new dad, but both mom and baby are dealing with health issues...another close friend, moving toward marriage, recently hit a huge bump in the road...another friend whose mother is dying. 

So many people I care about are really hurting and struggling. One of my strengths is being compassionate and sympathetic…but it can also be a weakness…taking the weight of all these burdens of the people I love.

I feel heavier than I have in a long time. I am behind on several projects at work, garden full of weeds, much yard work to do; home office is covered with piles and stacks that need to be gone through. Church—more people I want to spend time with than I have time.

But I will not despair. My problems really aren't that big. And through it all, I have experienced God's presence like never before. This idea of whole-life worship we have been exploring has become very real to me. So I hold onto God, the one constant in life.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

blog changes

I'm taking back my blog...I started this a couple years ago; then switched it to be a blog about Convergence...but I realize there are things I want to write about that aren't as applicable to church (like my masterful post on the greatest sports movies of all time.)

So this blog will go back to being more about me, my faith journey, my family and friends, and my observations about life, God, sports, books, movies, and music.

We will have one Convergence blog--Lisa and I will both contribute, as well as guest writers. You can find it here

thanks for hanging out here--and please give me your feedback!


I pray because...

Over the last few months we've talked a lot about prayer, and done a lot of praying. While we have just scratched the service as far as answering questions about prayer, our practice of prayer has made a great impact on our community. It has been very encouraging for me personally.

We will continue to make prayer a primary part of who we are and what we do, and look for opportunities to continue the conversation. 

The most common question discussed was "why do we pray?" Many of us have done it for years, because we were taught it was crucial for Christians. But it's also one of those things that we do without really thinking much about it. We had some great conversation about this, and while I don't know if we found any revolutionary answers, it did challenge me to think about why I pray. Here are some of my thoughts:

I pray because I know I can't make life work on my own.
I pray because I need to be connected to more than just what I can see and touch.
I pray because I need to know that I am not alone.
I pray because I have seen God work supernaturally, in my life and the lives of others.
I pray because I gain strength and insight when I do.
I pray because sometimes at midnight, God is the only one listening.
I pray because the Bible, full of wisdom and insight into God and humankind, tells me it is crucial.
I pray because it helps me feel God's presence.
I pray because I love God.
I pray because I believe God loves me.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

gay marriage protester rant

Yesterday the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages. (read about it here.) Two elderly lesbians, icons of the gay-rights movement who had been together for over 50 years, were the first couple married Monday evening by San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom.

Protesters outside the courthouse carried signs that read "Re-criminalize Sodomy" and "God Hates Lying Sinners."

One protester said, "I think God is going to destroy this nation, not just...California. Look at all our jobs, our jobs are going overseas. God is judging this nation. It's going to get worse."

Not really sure what this guy is saying...God is sending our jobs overseas because gay people get married? interesting. What is He doing because of all the straight people getting divorced?

As a Christian, I am brokenhearted by people who wave signs announcing God's hatred. How does that help anyone? Do people believe anyone is going to be drawn toward God by that? 

I also think that we get so caught up in issues that we forget behind all this are people. People with families and feelings and dreams. People with jobs and friends, and yes, even people who love God.

I'm not telling you to be in favor of gay marriage. (But I'm not telling you to be against it either). that's my rant for today.

Monday, June 16, 2008

thirsting for God

O God, you are my God,
  earnestly I seek you;
  my soul thirsts for you,
  in a dry and weary land
  where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
  and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
  my lips will glorify you.
--Psalm 63:1-3

We spent time in worship practicing some of the spiritual disciplines we've learned recently--Lectio Divina, breath prayer, Daily Examen...I spent time in Psalm 63:1-3, specifically the phrase "My soul thirsts for you."

I don't often feel that way. I want to. This past week I spent some time listening to the soundtrack to Jesus Christ Superstar.

When I was a kid, my parents had the album. I remember listening to it over and over, there was such power in the songs.

I recently got a copy on CD and spent some time listening to it while driving--and had a very powerful sense of worship. The lyrics and the music took me into the events of the last week of Jesus' life like nothing has in a long time. Some of the songs, especially those sung by Mary Magdalene, convey a longing for Jesus that I yearn for.

Some of the songs sound very "70's," but most hold up surprisingly well 35 years later. I highly recommend taking a listen! 

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Leland graduation

today was a good day, at the end of a heavy week. Please pray for my friends Josh and Shey. They had a baby Tuesday, Rowan, but Shey is having severe back problems, and has been in serious pain for over a week. Rowan is in the hospital at UVA, his lungs were weak but are getting better. Today Shey was transferred to the hospital at UVA, where the whole family is now together.

Today was graduation at Leland. Josh was supposed to graduate, but obviously couldn't be there. I was asked to stand in for Josh and receive his diploma--it was a great honor.
Congrats to Tom Lynch, who also graduated today!

Friday, June 13, 2008

sbc stuff

I grew up going to Southern Baptist churches, and am grateful for the ways I was loved and taught. I did most of my MDiv work at Southwestern Baptist Seminary. It has saddened me to have to distance myself from the Southern Baptist Convention, but we have been moving in different directions for many years now.

I often find myself explaining to people that I love the history and theology of Baptists, but that I no longer feel any connection to Southern Baptists. The SBC has such a negative image in our culture these days; in my opinion, it is deserved.

I rarely get into these discussions, but saw some stuff coming out of the SBC national meeting this week that helps explain my feelings.

In his opening address, SBC Executive Committee president Morris Chapman said, 
"Southern Baptists believe that the local church in New Testament times was autonomous, and thus our local churches are autonomous."

Later a proposal was referred to the executive committee that would amend the SBC's constitution to disallow affiliation by churches that have female senior pastors. So much for church autonomy.

Monday, June 09, 2008

worship Sunday--Daily Examen

The goal of our lives is to live with God forever.
  God, who loves us, gave us life.
  Our own response of love allows God's life to flow into us without limit.

All the things in this world are gifts of God,
  presented to us so that we can know God more easily
  and make a return of love more readily.

As a result, we apreciate and use all of these gifts of God
  insofar as they help us develop as loving persons.
But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives,
  they displace God and so hinder our growth toward our goal.

In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance
  before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice 
  and are not bound by some obligation.
We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, 
  wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or short one.
For everything has the potential of calling forth in us
  a deeper response to our life in God.

Our only desire and our one choice should be this:
I want and I choose what better leads to the deepening of God's life in me.

St. Ignatius, from the Spiritual Exercises

We opened worship with this last night, and used several of St. Ignatius' prayers. The central piece was talking about the Daily Examen and guiding the group through the practice. I think it went well (I'd love to hear feedback from our community).

If you're not familiar with it, the Daily Examen is a way of examining or assessing one's life before God in an attitude of prayer. It involves reviewing how God has been present to us or at work with us through the day, then noting our response--reviewing our thoughts, feelings, and actions in relation to God's presence. You can find more detail here.

Doing this has been wonderful for me, really helping me connect with God, especially when life is so busy.

I had one of those great embarrassing moments tonight, when I forgot the words while we were praying the Lord's Prayer...(I forgot "kingdom" where it says "yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory.") I got flustered and probably repeated "power" 2 or 3 times, which gave great ammo to a couple of my friends.

But it was a great evening of prayer and fellowship!

Monday, May 26, 2008

worship poem

Here is a great poem we used as our benediction in worship last night:

"The Blessing"

May you who are restless
Find rest
And in rest, restoration
And the healing
Of your hollow soul
May peace be yours

May you who are frozen
Find freedom
And in freedom the faith
To face the fire
And the thawing of your ice-gripped heart
May peace be yours

May you who are conflicted
Find convergence
And in convergence
To be the one new child
Of your old divided self
May peace be yours

May you who live in tension
Find tenderness
And in tenderness the tendency
To kindness
And the creativity
Of a caring character
May peace be yours

And you who are Godless
May you find God
And in God,
The grace and growth you need
For fruit and fullness
And the love that will last you
Through the long-haul
Of a lived-for-others life
May peace be yours

--Gerard Kelly

Tuesday, May 20, 2008