Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Classic Quotes

We should accept with simplicity whatever the Lord gives us; and what he doesn't we shouldn't tire ourselves over. For one wordof God's will contain within itself a thousand mysteries.--Teresa of Avila

Just as you do not analyze the words of someone you love, but accept them as they are said to you, accept the word of God and ponder it in your heart--Dietrich Bonhoeffer

As a good Christian should consider everything as holy because God is there, so he should look upon every part of his life as a matter of holiness because it is to be offered unto God--
William Law

Our own curiosity often hinders us in reading the Scriptures, because we wish to understand and argue when we should simply read on with humility, simplicity and faith--Thomas a Kempis

Where the Spirit does not open the Scripture, the Scripture is not understood even though it is read.--Martin Luther

Scripture is like a river, broad and deep. Shallow enough here for the lamb to go wading, but deep enough there for the elephant to swim.--Gregory the Great

If one is to have true wisdom, it is not enough to merely have a handbook in one's hands, it is also necessary that great zeal be kindled in one's heart.--Augustine

Poet's Corner

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim roundy wells
Stones ring; like each string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves--goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is for me: for that I came.

I say more: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is--
Christ. For Christ plays in ten thousand places,
lovely in limbs and lovely in eyes not his
To the father through the features of men's faces.--

Gerard Manley Hopkins (from the beginning of Eugene Peterson's new book)

In my end is my beginning--TS Eliot

(same source)

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs�
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day.
What hours, O what black hours we have spent
This night! what sights you, heart, saw; ways you went!
And more must, in yet longer light's delay.

With witness I speak this. But where I say
Hours I mean years, mean life. And my lament
Is cries countless, cries like dead letters sent
To dearest him that lives alas! away.

I am gall, I am heartburn. God's most deep decrees
Bitter would have me taste: my taste was me;
Bones built in me, flesh filled, blood brimmed the curse.

Selfyeast of spirit a dull dough sours. I see
The lost are like this, and their scourge to be
As I am mine, their sweating selves, but worse.

also Hopkins

Batter my heart, three-personed God; for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labor to admit you, but O, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
but is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed unto your enemy.
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again;
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor even chaste, except you ravish me.

John Donne

Even now this landscape is assembling.
The hills darken. The oxen
Sleep in their blue yoke,
The fields having been
Picked clean, the sheaves
Bound evenly and piled at the roadside
Among cinquefoil, as the toothed moon rises:

This is the barrenness
Of harvest or pestilence
And the wife leaning out the window
With her hand extended, as in payment,
And the seeds
Distinct, gold, calling
Come here
Come here, little one

And the soul creeps out of the tree.

John Donne

Monday, March 28, 2005

Fish Face

The last couple of days I have been thinking about ministry and its implications in my thoughts about being a public versus a private person. As I watch television I see that there are many famous people that struggle in living in a fish bowl. But, of everyday occupations, I think being in the ministry is unique in this respect.

I think the thing I was prepared for least was life in the fish bowl in ministry. In the small towns and neighborhoods I have ministered in, it was everywhere. You were a public person at the IGA, in the middle of traffic, and in the grocery store.

This is true in a different way in larger cities like where I am now (1/2 million in Metro Area). I was sitting at Easter dinner at a home and people were talking about different things, and I came to the conclusion that everything I do anywhere near church people in a public act.

This insight also gave me perspective on why certain people act the way that they do. There are many times where I think that things that are said to me should be said in private instead of discussed in public. Sometimes, I am sensitive to having public conversation and being teased publically by people in large meetings or worship services. I wish those people would have not brought things out into the public sphere without talking with me in private first. Not that big of a deal now, but at the time it was. Then it came to me, these are people used to living most of their lives in a public sphere. I am still not sure I am ready for that.

Yet in some ways I am. There is a certain sense in which being an open public person is essential for both writing and ministry. This is often a big struggle for minister's families. Not only children, but parents and extended family. All of a minister's life experience makes up their spirituality, and thus much of it is grist for the mill of helping others grow spiritually.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want to live a two-faced life. I don't want to have a life with a bunch of deep dark secrets. But once in a while, it would be nice to not have the T-shirt you wear to the grocery store as grist for the mill of congregational conversation.

ANY WHOOO I am not sure I am making any sense, so I will get done.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Becoming a Choir Boy

Last month I joined the choir at my church.

I feel really good about it. I have always loved to sing, and always been made fun of because I did not sing very well. Especially when singing in the locker room after football practice in high school and college. Since I got made fun of for so long about how I sing, I have always wanted to sing but always been scared to.

It feels good to be valued for something in which I have always been told I had no value (except by my mother of course). Furthermore, it feels good to be part of a team (the choir) which is large enough to blend in but small enough not to be missed.
I AM DEAD SEXY! LOL! Posted by Hello
Friar Tuck Beer Stein Posted by Hello
Somebody please buy me this FRIAR TUCK COOKIE JAR Posted by Hello

Saturday, March 26, 2005

The One and Only Blog on Terri Shiavo

I have been avoiding hearing about the Terri Shiavo case. I just wanted it to go away. But recently I have been thinking a lot about the case. Not so much as a right to life issue, but as an issue to discuss ethical process.

Interestingly this case poses a conundrum that is surfacing more forcefully. Many of our ethics are simultaneously public and personal. Many on the side of removing Terri's tube emphasize the deeply personal nature of life and death decisions. Yet, the parents and the right to life movement (agree with them on this specific issue or not) have correctly proved that all ethical decisions have communal and coorperate ramifications.

I talked with our visitation minister about her desire to have everyone she knows have a living will. She wants all individuals to have their wishes known. She also argues that most of the people in persistent vegitative states are younger, so we should all plan how we are going to deal with these situations now. I am not there yet. Part of the reason is that if I am in that situation, I would rather others have input on that decision too. Especially my faith community and my family. Not so much the government though.

We are living in a dream world if we do not think that our ethical decisions are not connected to our community, nation, and world, and do not speak to them in powerful and profound ways. In the last few weeks we have seen how a woman in a persistent vegitative state can profoundly effect congress, the Supreme Court, and the President. No matter what you believe on this issue, know this; we make no ethical decisions in a vacuum. Like a rock thrown in a pond, the decisions we make ripple out all around us.

Housecleaning and Mind-Easing

I tell you something that is really weird. Whenever I clean my house, my mood improves. I cannot really understand why, but I think there is a definite effect. When my office,house, and car are a mess I feel like a mess. But when I clean all of them I feel better about the challenges that come to my life as well.

Is that normal and borderline psychotic, or is that true of the rest of you?

Friday, March 25, 2005

I have visual confirmation

Today I went to the place where I weighed in at the beginning of my diet to see what that scale said about my weight loss.

I was scared that my scale was wrong, and that I did not lose as much weight as i thought I did. Then I looked at the scale. I had visual confirmation. An overall 40 pounds of weight loss since last summer, and thirty pounds since Halloween.


Thursday, March 24, 2005

Friar Tuck Salt and Pepper Shakers Posted by Hello
I may be stuck in the mountains in a spring snow storm, but my mind is here with all of my best beach shirts!!! :) Posted by Hello
Back to the salt mines!! Always hard after a few days out of town, especially when those were busy days Posted by Hello

Egocentric Frustration

I was trying to be good guy and play my part.

I did what I was supposed to do. I was trying to focus on the beauty of the Maundy Thursday service. The choir pieces were beautiful. The teens did a great job with the Scripture readings.

But then I got pissed off. At the one point where I was supposed to be looking at my own brokenness I was being judgemental and self-righteous. And not just a little angry. Almost walk into school with a gun and start shooting kind of angry (Ok, that is a little exageration I would never do that. Besides, foul the symbolic blood of Christ with this persons blood? Sacriledge!). What a selfish, self-centered bastard I am. But since I have not completely let my anger go, so is the person who I was fixated on.

It came time for communion. I started to feel myself shaking. Wanting to grab a hold of the bread and the cup to renew my commitment to Christ, and yet realizing that if I was to make this recommitment to the Way of Christ, I had to let go of my anger and unforgiveness. And yet at the same time, I wanted to hold on to this anger and this bitterness. Thus the trembling hands. A spiritual battle to be sure. But I let it go. I renewed my commitment to be a person who accepts forgiveness and forgives, even forgives sorry ass SOBs, because I am a sorry ass SOB as well.


Eugene Peterson Quotes

Everyone has choices to make. The choices are not trial-and error guesses; they are informed by the commands of God.

Our lives are not puzzles to be figured out. Rather we come to God who knows us and reveals to us the truth of our lives. The fundamemntal mistake is to begin with ourselves and not God.

If we live in hope we go against the stream.

There is an enormous gap between what we think we can do and what God calls us to do. Our ideas of what we can do or want to do are trivial; God's ideas are grand.

Every act of love is a risk of the self.

Hoping is not dreaming...It means a confident alert expectation that God will do what he said he will do.

Following Jesus means not following your impulses and appetites and whims and dreams, all of which are sufficiently damaged by sin to make them unreliable guides for getting anyplace worth going.

Obiedience is not a stodgy plodding in the ruts of religion, it is a hopeful race toward God's promises.Nothing counts more in the wat we live than what we believe about God

We live in a culture where image is everything and substance nothing....But an image without substance is a lie.

No one can substitute for me. No one can replace me. Before I was good for anything, God decided that I was good for what he was doing.

Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity

This was a very interesting book.

I recommend this book to anyone, especially the chapter on chastity as a spiritual discipline. You have to love a book on chastity that starts out with a woman saying that she really is not that good at being chaste. And her centering sexual behavior on the goal of spiritual formation instead of exclusively on dos and donts is helpful. And her understanding of sex as private and not public, but yet communal and not exclusively personal is very helpful as well.

Here are a couple of quotes--related to the topic and not, that I liked:

St. Francis of Assisi famously called his body "Brother Ass." I think it fasting that allows you to say to your body, You are Brother (or Sister), but you are also an Ass.

We can send away our sins. Sending away our sins is important because our sins are destroying us.

Legalism fails miserably at the one thing that it is supposed to do: encourage obiedience.--Phillip Yancey

New Books, and They are Free

Just got my new copies of the TNIV--for free!


From Time Magazine

On the back cover about Ashley Smith and Brian Nichols--this is so beautifully put:

We latch onto this story not just because it's a riveting end to a high-stakes manhunt. We find ourselves transfixed and uplifted by the sordid ordinariness of it all. He was an alleged rapist and murderer. She was tied up in a bathtub, clinging to the wreckage of a life that was barely afloat. One was a monster, the other a woman unable to care for her 5-year-old, looking for cigarettes in the dark. And out of that came something, well, beautiful. He saw his purpose: to serve God in prison, to turn his life around, even as it may have been saturated in the blood and pain of others. She saw hers: to make that happen. These people weren't saints. Grace arrives, unannounced, in lives that least expect or deserve it.

I say that as a believer. The crimes Nichols is suspected of are inexcusable. The serenity of Smith is close to inexplicable. But the message of the Gospels is that God works with the crooked timber of human failure. That was an exceptional moment of redemption. But every day we have smaller, calmer chances to turn another's life around, to serve, to listen. How often do we simply not see what is in front of us? How often do we believe that the world's evils--from terrorism to crime to emotional cruelty--are beyond our capacity to change? Or that there is no one in front of us whom we can serve? Smith and Nichols' story is a chastening reminder that we may be wrong.

There's a line in a Leonard Cohen song that has always stayed with me. It kept me going in a bleak moment in my life, when I thought, as we all sometimes do, that I couldn't see how good could come out of the dreck I had turned my life into. "Forget your perfect offering," Cohen advises. "There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." Happy Easter.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Quotes for Today

Unless there is an element of risk in the Christian life, there is no need for faith
J. Hudson Taylor

The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas--
Linus Pauling

You cannot solve a problem on the same level on which it was created. You need to rise above it, to the next level--
Albert Einstien

Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute. What you can do or think you can..begin it!--

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Reward and Faithfulness

Is Christianity just a form of Hedonism?

Since my first philosophy class (ok my only philosophy class unless you count ethics)I have thought about this. I even wrote my semester final saying that Christianity was Hedonism. My professor disagreed but gave me a good grade on the essay.

John Piper, in his book "Desiring God" makes a strong case for this truth theologically. That ultimately the Christian way is about living the way that brings us the most pleasure. He cites CS Lewis, Jonathan Edwards, and the Westminister Catechism in his defense. Yet there is something about this that has never set right with me.

It is the same thing that does not quite sit right about "fire insurance" evangelism. It seems that the Christian faith should be about more than getting good things from God. About more than escaping pain and increasing pleasure. But what is one to make of all these passages that appeal to my desire to be happy and avoid torment.

Part of what bothers me is that it does not seem that this is the type of person we are called to become when we follow Jesus. It seems to ignore the fact that our motivations form us. And if Christianity is a form of sanctified selfishness based on delayed gratification, then Christians will never be formed into the fearless, selfless, altruistic people that we are called to be. But what is one to make of all these obvious appeals to our desire to be rewarded and to avoid punishment?

Some go to Maslow's hierarchy of needs and Fowler's moral reasoning and say that we cannot move to more transcendant and others-driven motivation right away. That we need appeals to our more base and selfish motivations before we can move into other more mature motivations for the life of faith. I do not doubt this may be true for some, but I also see the byproducts of this felt-needs worldview. Just look at how many books in the Christian bookstore are driven by self-help motivations. Many Christians never mature out of this reward and punishment motivation. Their faith becomes about how they can be happier, have better Boundaries, and have mind-blowing organisms in the context of marital bliss. Yet, when I walk through a Christian bookstore I see is a half-ass imitation of the world. Built on solving problems in four-steps, listening to a rapper that sounds EXACTLY like Eminem only he preaches Jesus, and self-righteous t-shirts that are cheap, preachy rip-offs of beer commercials or candy bars.

So then, what role does the promise of reward have in the Bible? One word: trust. No I thought of an even better one word: hope. It is not there to focus us on the reward. It is there to remind us that when we feel like life has given us a raw deal, that the story is not over. It is there to remind us that what Jesus said is true, even when we do not feel like it is. That even when we feel alone we are not. Rewards in Scripture sometimes motivate us. But even more, they are meant to drive us into a relationship. A relationship that trusts even when one feels like we shouldnt, because in the end we are in love with a God that is utterly trustworthy and faithful.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Bubba's Bracketology

I am having the most sucess in brackets I have had in years. I picked 11 of the 16 teams that are still alive, and three of my four Final Four Teams are still alive (Louisville, Kentucky, and Illinois).

The picks I am most proud of are picking Texas Tech and North Carolina State and Utah to both be there. (I have Tech losing to Louisville in the elite 8).

I have some guiding principles that helped me this year:

1. Good coaches that have been somewhere longer than 3 years are going to be more sucessful in the tourney than talent and record demonstrate (Texas Tech, Louisville, Michigan State are all examples of this).

2. Hot teams are good upset picks, especially if they come from strong conferences (Villinova, NC State, Texas Tech, and especially West Virginia which I did not see coming but should)

3. More and more in the new NCAA, it is the coaches that will be the stars even more than the players. They will be the major difference maker. Like it or not, Knight could lead just about any team to a conference final and the Sweet 16. As could Pitino. This is strongly tied to point 1, but I did not want to rewrite this whole thing.

4. Strong programs may have up and down years, but they will always rise back to the top. You can never count out an Arizona, Utah, or Kentucky.

I-70 is the Red Light District of the Bible Belt.

As you get to North Central Kansas, in a place where the only form of elevation is the overpass for your local neighborhood small town, a new type of business has been popping up in the middle of nowhere. YOUR LOCAL NEIGHBORHOOD ADULT SUPERSTORE. The one that amused me most was the one that had the giant billboard deterent right in front of it that said "Jesus heals and saves". Immediately behind it up the hill was XXX Adult Superstore. There were three or four in this conservative Bible belt area of Kansas.

It is even worse in between Independence and Columbus, MO. When I drove through there in 2003 there was a drive through porn booth to park semis in. All through there are lots of advertisements, most that have a discount for people with CDL liscences.

What I find funny is the places that most folks would think of as more permissive that I have lived in the West, have a lot less of this sort of thing. Of course, there are ads in Montana for the Strip Clubs along the highway in major city, but it seems much different than the Neon Light Visible from miles in any direction at the top of a hill thing we saw in Kansas. So interesting, funny and sad at the same time.

Starbucks on the Road

Last week I went out to a wedding in Springfield. Luckily there was a Starbucks nearby. Starbucks was a part of the theme to my friends' wedding. They met at the National Youth Workers Conference in a Starbucks in the hotel lobby. They talked for a while, were infatuated with each other until Jennifer's aunt Jean found me, and then I found Dan and got them connected.

Anyway....Ben (a junior in high school in our youth group) and I drove out together to Illinois. At different points along the road in Kansas we inquired about the location of a Starbucks. First, in Abilene, KS the hotel receptionist looked at me and said, "Isn't that one of those east coast things? I don't think they have any out here." First of all, I was insulted. Central to my identity is that I AM NOT an east coast liberal, and this woman implied that I was. Besides that it is a WEST COAST thing to begin with, and we know that all good things in America from blue jeans to legalized marajuana to good music start in the West and move East.

Then, in a slightly larger town with two or three colleges in it in KS (Salina) I decided to try again. (This was two days later on our return trip) I asked the woman at the convienience store if she knew of any Starbucks or something similar around. She said, "Isn't Starbucks a movie chain?". Now I have lived in towns without Starbucks for most of my life....but that is a little different than thinking Starbucks is a movie chain. So I got in the car and I told Ben my story and said, "That is it, we have to get out of this state as soon as we can!" He agreed and we sped out of Kansas as fast as we could. Ten miles from the border in Goodland we saw a truck stop that had a Starbucks.

"Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore!"


Aquinas and Islam and 21st Centuty Theology

The more I am out of seminary, the more dissappointed in my theology classes in my theological education. In particular, I am distressed that I did not have any classes that emphasized historical theology.

So, since I entered the ministry I have been playing catch up. As a friend of mine once told me, seminary is a bibliographic experience anyway.

One of the things I have been fascinated about lately is the relationship with St. Thomas Aquinas (the best theologian hands-down between Augustine and Calvin) and his interfaith dialogue between Jews, Muslims and Christians. So much of his theology is derivitive of, in conversation and argument with Muslim philosophers of his day. In particular those that drew their impetus from Aristotle. What a radical thing to embrace reason in Christian faith at that time.

And that is what fascinates me! The apologetical nature of Thomistic theology and philosophy. And Aquinas' willingness to speak to and embrace reason in a time when the church saw reason as dangerous, threatening, and an emphasis on reason as nearly heretical.

It makes me think about how we are running away from the important issues of our day, and wonder how God is going to raise up theologians of courage in our generation.

How do we need to step away from preserving the institution of the church to serve the church?

How do we enter into meaningful conversation and dialogue with Muslims in our time without comprimising our beliefs? With Jews? How do we speak to them in a way that is appropriate and apologetically intelligent.

How do we move as God's kingdom from protecting fortresses to taking ground (I know an overly military metaphor for things, but I cannot think of another way of putting it.)?

What implications does it have that most of Christian thought and ethics at one point is somewhat derivitive of Muslim philosophy?

Just some thoughts I have been mulling over

Aquinas Stories

It is usually forgotten that Saint Thomas Aquinas is both a child and a Saint. One day Saint Thomas was reluctantly dragged to the court of King Louis the Ninth of France, to attend a banquet. When they entered Paris someone showed him from a hill the magnificence of the City, saying: "How wonderful it must be to own all this." Saint Thomas only muttered : " I would rather have that Chrysostom manuscript I can't get hold of."

A quote from Aquinas about the importance of practical and simple theology:

"The doctor of Catholic truth ought not only to instruct the proficient, but also to teach beginners. As Saint Paul says, 'As unto little ones in Christ, I gave you milk to drink, not meat.' (i Cor). For this reason it is our purpose in the present work to treat of the things which belong to the Christian religion in such a way as befits the instruction of beginners.


Saint Thomas once confided to his friend Saint Bonaventure, that whatever he knew, he had for the most part learned from the Book of the Crucifix. One day while he was in prayer, Jesus spoke to him from the crucifix saying, "Well hast thou written of Me, Thomas: what reward would'st thou have?" Chesterton, commenting on this, says: "Nobody supposes that Thomas Aquinas, when offered by God his choice among all the gifts of God, would ask for a thousand pounds, or the crown of Sicily, or a present of rare Greek wine. But he might have asked for things that he really wanted ; and he was man who could want things; as he wanted the lost manuscript of Saint Chrysostom.

He might have asked for the solution of an old difficulty ; or the secret of a new science; or a flash of the inconceivable intuitive mind of the angels; or any one of a thousand things that really would have satisfied his broad and virile appetite for the very vastness and variety of the universe. The point is that for him, when the voice spoke from between the outstretched arms of the Crucified, those arms were truly opened wide, and opening most gloriously the gates of all the worlds; they were arms pointing to the east and to the west, to the ends of the earth and the very extremes of existence. They were truly spread out with a gesture of omnipotent generosity ; the Creator Himself offering Creation itself; with all its millionfold mystery of separate beings, and the triumphal chorus of the creatures. Saint Thomas when he at last lifted his head, spoke with that almost blasphemous audacity, which is one with humility: 'I will have Thyself.' "

Sunday, March 20, 2005

A momentary failure

I had a lapse. I surrendered to my book lust.


So far I have found it fascinating. In particular is her ability to advocate chastity while claiming that for large periods of her life she was, "not very good at it". With references to Wendell Berry she communicates to deftly to people struggling with the nature and intelligence of Christian views on sex outside of marriage. In particular, she discusses the communal implications of sexuality and sexual behavior--especially in Christian community.

One thing--why does she always have the corniest covers to her books?

Anyway--some of the rest of you should pick it up!

A Personal Update

Just got back from Springfield IL for my friends' Dan and Jennifer's wedding. It went very smoothly. No little kids about to throw up. No awkward family moments due to divorce or jealousy. Nobody tripping and falling. It was fun. Even if I did have to wear a tuxedo. With a vest.

I love wedding receptions with dances. I love how people come all out from all different ages to dance, to celebrate, to just have fun and enjoy each other. We laughed, we smiled, we sang every word to "Baby Got Back." And I had a little to drink and goofed off a lot.

I think churches should have services that are more like weddings and less like funerals.

The thing I love about wedding dances is that everyone dances. Well not everyone, but people of every age. And it does not matter how good or bad a dancer that you are, it just matters that you are on the floor. And if you dont know the steps there is always someone out there to help you learn them.

I love that a wedding is a place where it is ok for a man to cry, as a matter of fact it is accepted.

And of course I love that weddings usually have good food and lots of it.

Most of all, I love that you always think that you are going to a wedding to support your friends, and that you end up built up and supported in the process.

Monday, March 14, 2005

I almost became a Democrat when.....


Distracted by Championship Weekend and a murder spree the US GOV got away with a little mayhem of its own.

Last week two important bills came before the Senate, both with the potential to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Our leaders made sure just that happened.

First, the minimum wage bill did not pass. I have a solution for this too. Make a minimum wage for juviniles and a minimum wage for adults, and raise the adult minimum wage. Let the teenagers work at the local store for a little less if the businesses can get away with it, but please lets not really expect people to live on 5.50 an hour.

Also, the bankrupcy reform bill. Do the hospitals (most for profit) and the credit card companies really need financial protection. The health care industry? Please....

It is about enough to morph an elephant to an ass.

Quotes for Today

A person who has nothing to die for has nothing to live for.--
Martin Luther King Jr

Nobody thinks Bush has a brain, but they know he has a backbone--
Mother Jones Journal

Estimated Federal Assistance that Walmart Employees are eligible for: 2,500,000

Clothes make the man. Naked people have very little influence on our society--
Mark Twain

When a man loses the sacred significance of work and himself as worker,he soon loses sacred meaning of time and of life--
Carl FH Henry

God insists that we ask, not because he needs to know our situation, but because we need the spiritual discipline of asking.--
Catherine Marshall

The closer we are to God, the closer we are to those that are close to him--

Sex is not sin. Sex is not salvation either. Like nitroglycerin it can be used to either blow up bridges or heal hearts.
Fredrick Buechner

To trult care about people requires not caring to much about their approval or dissapproval.--

God morning God. I love you! What are you up to today? I want to be a part of it!

I am always content with what happens, for I know that what God chooses is better than what I choose.--

We recognize the nature of God best, not by thinking of his power or his wisdom, which are terrifying, but by thinking about his goodness and love. Then we are truly born anew in God, and can grow in faith--

Rest in Peace

Stanley Grenz, author of:

A Primer on Postmodernism
Women, Ministry, and the Church (with Denise Kjesbo)
Theology for the Community of God
Renewing the Center
Beyond Foundationalism

former professor at Northern Baptist and Baylor
has died in Vancouver, CA (his home for most of the last 20 some years)
at the age of 55.

click here

Book Lust 2

Why do all these books seem to come out at the same time. Three books that I am really hankering for right now:

Anne Lamott Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

Eugene Peterson Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places

Lauren Winner Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity

Karl Barth Prayer

Parker Palmer A Hidden Wholeness

Harvey Cox When Jesus came to Harvard

John Wooden Coach Wooden's Pyramid of Success

Chic Simple Men's Wardrobe

Friday, March 11, 2005

Quotes from Christianity Today

The trick of faith is to believe in advance what will only make sense in reverse.--Phillip Yancey

On Welcoming the Stranger--

Let all guests who arive be recieved like Christ, for he is going to say, "I came as a guest and you recieved me."
St. Benedict

A story said to originate in a Russsian Orthodox monastery has an older monk telling a younger one: "I have finally learned to accept people as they are. Whatever they are in the world, a prostitute, a prime minister, it is all the same to me. But sometimes I see a stranger coming up the road, and I say, "Oh Jesus Christ, is it you again?"--
Kathleen Norris, Dakota

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.
Philo of Alexandria

Your whole life through the face you've lost in strangers' faces.
Fredrick Buechner

That is our vocation: to convert...the enemy into a guest and to create the free and fearless space where brotherhood and sisterhood can be formed and fully experienced.--
Henri Nouwen

In an era where many of us feel time is our scarcest resource,hospitality falters..."In a fast-food culture," a wise Benedictine monk observes, "you have to remind yourself that some things cannot be done quickly. Hospitality takes time."--
Dorothy Bass, Recieving the Day

From the News Section

God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view the Christians as fools....and He has not been disappointed....Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity.--
Justice Antonin Scalia

From "Spirituality for all the Wrong Reasons" an Interview with Eugene Peterson

"One of my favorite stories os of Teresa of Avila. She is sitting in the kitchen with roasted chicken. And she's got it with both hands, and she's gnawing on it, just devouring the chicken. One of the nuns comes in shocked that she is doing this, behaving this way. She said, "When I eat chicken, I eat chicken. When I pray, I pray."

The minute we start advertising the faith in terms of benefits, we're just exacerbating the self problem. Instead we need to get people bored with themselves so that they can start looking to Jesus.

It's very dangerous to use the language of the culture to interpret the gospel. Our language needs to be chastened and tested by revelation, by the Scriptures.

When we advertise the gospel in terms of the world's values, we lie to people.

There's nobody who doesn't have problems with the church, because there is sin in the church. But there is no other place to be Christian except the church.

How do we meet needs? Do we do it the Jesus way or the Walmart way?

I think the besetting sin of pastors, maybe especially evangelical pastors, is impatience.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


my new toy Posted by Hello

Quote for the day

diregarding all those things for which we hope and have been reserved by promise, we regard falling from God's friendship as the only thing dreadful and we consider becoming God's friend the only thing worthy of honor and desire. This, I have said, is the perfection of life.--Gregory of Nyssa

The Difference Between Activity and Progress

I am reading a book right now called "Buck-Naked Faith". At first I got it because of the title--it fits in to how our Wednesday night Bible study group has been discussing faith.

The book is written by a Vineyard pastor who also teaches Human Sexuality at a college. He has a number of intetesting metaphors for faith such as "bonsai Christianity" (stunted growth that otherwise has the outward signs of maturity), a "cheese-puff Christian" (all volume but no substance), the "Borg" church (a church that believes its mission is to assimilate as many members as possible into an unthinking collective),and "binge and purge Christianity" just to name a few.

The idea that he brings up that fascinates me today is his discussion of the difference between activity and progress. He tells the story of an explorer looking for the north pole. He sets his instruments and keeps walking north in the Arctic. Yet, everytime he checks his instruments he seems to be both heading in the right direction as he walks, but getting further and further away each day from the North Pole. What was happening? He was stuck on a very large, southward moving iceburg. He was walking several miles a day, but making no progress. The author of the book suggests we do the same thing in our personal and spiritual lives. We are really active doing things that we think are important, but are we making any personal and spiritual progress?

This makes me think about certain Christian communities. We seem to be full of activity, but are we making any real progress? Or are we just doing "church things"? Are we walking in the direction we are told to, only to be drifing further and further away from where we want to be? Are some churches like the iceburg?

How does this concept speak to this or other areas of your lives, or does it?

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Book Lust

I have problem. Book lust. I love books. And, I do not just buy them to read, but also to collect. There are some books that I want that I have been looking at lately, but have not bought because they really have no current use to me, and I probably will not be needing them any time soon. Nevertheless, every time I am in a bookstore I lust after them. Since we are on the list thing lately, here are my top ten "hot" books that I am lusting after:

1.) Bill Bryson's A WALK IN THE WOODS

2.) FISH TALES to finish my collection of the FISH books


4.) PREACHING THE CHRISTIAN YEAR--YEARS A AND B (I already have C)--Craddock et al

5.) George MacDonald Scottish Highlands collection

6.) PHILOSOPHY IN THE FLESH by Lakoff et. al (also
metaphors we live by)

7.) BOOK OF THE DUN COW by Walter Wangerin

8.) COMMUNITY OF CHARACTER by Stanley Hauerwas

9.) DSM-IV

10.) LEVERAGE YOUR BEST, DITCH THE REST by Scott Blanchard et al


Monday, March 07, 2005

My Short Story Collection

Life After God--by Douglas Coupland

The Complete Father Brown Mysteries--GK Chesterton

Hotel of the Saints--Ursela Hegi

The Lottery--Shirley Jackson

Whore's Child--Richard Russo

Stained Glass Elegies--Shushako Endo

A River Runs Through It--Norman McLean

A really cheap O. Henry Collection

The Complete Short Stories--Flannery O'Connor

Mission Accomplished

I took the day off today. I may well take half of tomorrow off too.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Quotes from PASTOR by Will Willimon

Teach me to seek you, and reveal yourself to me as I seek; for unless you instruct me I cannot seek You, and unless You reveal Yourself I cannot find you. Let me seek You in desiring You; let me desire You in seeking You. Let me find You in loving You,; Let me love you in finding You.--

Christians must be made, not born (204)

God delights in making a family where there once had been no people. (225)

we pastors tend toward the maintenance of stability rather than the expectation of conversion. (227)

Luther tended to stress the power of justification, whereas Calvin stressed the need for sanctification. (228)

much of pastoral overwork is a result of the disbelief in the relentlessness of Jesus. (239)

continuing conversion is always at the center of the church's agenda in any age

The community, in its coorperate life, is called to embody an alternative order that stands as a sign of God's redemptive purposes in the world (240).

It is the policy of the Devil to pursuade us that there is no devil.--
CS Lewis

We have forsaken charasmatic images of the church for bureaucratic ones--

We must rise above being a program-driven church to being a faith-forming community.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Quotes from THE HOLINESS OF GOD by RC Sproul

What is that which gleams through me,
and smites my heart without wounding it?
I am both a-shudder and a-glow.
A-shudder in so far as I am not like it,
a-glow in so far as I am like it.--

Hence that dread and amazement with which, as Scripture uniformly relates, holy men were struck and overwhelmed whenever they beheld the presence of God....Men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God.--

Let God be God--

If man is not made for God,
why is he only happy in God?
If man is made for God,
why is he so opposed to God?--

Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it.--

Clothed in a Naked World

Today I was kind of in limbo in my Saturday morning novel reading routine. (I get up in the mid to late morning, get something to drink, and then settle back under the covers until early afternoon with a good book.) So, I decided to attack some of my short stories. In particular I read selections from "Stained Glass Elegies" by Shushako Endo, and "Whore's Child" by Russo. In particular one story stood out to me as a picture of the church. The story was called "Bouyancy" (sp). It was about a recently retired couple who went to some Island resort for a vacation.

The couple went to a beach, and had a good section to themselves. On one end far away they seemed all to themselves, with the nudists barely visible further on. They went swimming, and were having a good time. At one point they were in a semi-secluded spot, and in an act of daring took off their clothes.

The man falls asleep, wakes up, and realizes that his wife is gone, he is sunburned, and the nudist group has moved closer to where he was at.

He wakes up, in a panic is worried about his wife, and starts wandering around and over exerts himself to the point of near collapse. He puts on his swimtrunks and starts looking everywhere, and evenutally ends up lost himself. There is this wonderful picture in this story of a man frantically wandering through a crowd of naked people clothed, drawing the contempt of all the world around him, saying things in anger and frezy that they do not understand. When he gets help and his wife finally finds him, he snaps at his wife for being naked too, even though he is half delirious.

A wounded man walking clothed in a naked world. I could think of no better picture of what the church looks like today. Expecting the world to play by its more traditional rules. Blurting things at people that he comprehends, but they do not quite understand. Yelling at the ones that seek to understand and connect with the people and environment that they are in. The church is truly a clothed man in a nudist world.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Its best to rest

I have a confession to make. I have been disobeying 1 of the 10 commandments.

I have not taken a day off in 19 days from work.

I am not saying this in some backhanded braggy way. I am saying it because it is 9pm on a Friday night and I am still working at the office.

I told my buddy Dan he was going to have to keep me accountable. When I said that, Dan told me that he can always tell when I have not been getting the day off that I need. My responses are less insightful to peoples problems, my attitude is not as peppy and positive, and I am not as good of a listener or a conversationalist. I had to pry this out of him, so do not think badly of Dan for being to overzealous in his constructive criticism. I think many do not notice. He notices because he cares.

As a matter of fact, this constructive criticism was a blessing. Why? I always think I am doing good for people by working myself until I almost drop. I think that if I push myself to the edge to care for others I am doing them a favor. My conversation with Dan tonight taught me differently. When I do not take care of myself the way I should I am not the best me I need to be for others.

So often I think by playing the workaholic role I am blessing the church and the ministry. This expereience reminds me that is not so. The Sabbath is a key commandment for a reason. I need to obey it.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Best and Worst Sequels (any number after III does not count)

Best Sequels

1.) Return of the Jedi

2.) Return of the King

3.) The Color of Money (actually better known than the Hustler)

4.) Oceans Twelve

5.) Hannibal

note that the best sequels are often the third in a series, not the second

Worst Sequels

1.) Anything in the Karate Kid series

2.) Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure in Heaven and Hell

3.) Waynes World 2

4.) The second Matrix movie--never end a feature film with "to be continued"

5.) Back to the Future 2

Movies that could have had sequels that would have ruined everything:

1.) The Princess Bride (or did they try)

2.) The Truman Show

What do you all think

Quotes from Finding God at Harvard

How is civilization changes. By the creation of fellowships which eventually become infectious to the entire cultural order. These ancient believers were accused of turning the world upside down.--
Elton Trueblood

There are men who cry, "Do not think, for it is dangerous. Against them Christ is always crying, "No, live your fullest."--
Phiilips Brooks

I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer.
You yourself are the answer.
Before your face questions die away.
CS Lewis, Till We Have Faces

For God, it is not how much we give, but how much love we put in the giving. That love begins at home, right here. Holiness is not the luxury of a few; it is a simple duty for you and me.--
Mother Teresa

What else can save us but your hand remaking what you have made.--

You could not wish to be born at a better time than when all is lost--
Simone Weil

I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.--
Sir Isaac Newton

The great illusion of leadership is to think that others can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there--
Henri Nouwen

Good news and intolerance are mutually inconsistent--
Habib Malik

Q: What is your only confort in life or death?
A: That I am not my own but belong to my faithful savior Jesus Christ.--
Heidelburg Cathechism, Question 1

How little people know who think that holiness is dull--
CS Lewis

We must at all times remember what intellectuals habitually forget: that people matter more than concepts and must come first. The worst of all despotisms is the tyranny of ideas.--
Paul Johnson

With the drawing of this Love, and the Voice of this Calling,
we shall not cease from exploration
and at the end of our exploring
will be to arrive where we started
adn know the place for the first time--
T.S. Eliot

Quotes from A Month of Sundays

He who is down need fear no fall--Bunyan

Doing right is, to too great an extent, a matter of details.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Garrett likes to swing Posted by Hello

zach riding in the rain Posted by Hello

The nephews turn 1 this friday Posted by Hello

Charasmatics as Functional Hindus

Grace is recieving what we don't deserve. Simplified, Karma is getting exactly what we deserve. I take grace over Karma anyday.

Perhaps that is why I struggle with a dominant strain in Charasmatic circles of what I call functional Hinduism. I especially encountered this in Montana. Several times at ministerial prayer meetings I heard the phrase, "every physical and mental problem has a spiritual root." Meaning, if you are stuggling with depression, than you are somehow less spiritual and ungodly. Or if you have health problems, it is because of generational sin or a curse that you have taken on. It is like salvation is limited to its economic metaphors, and then the rest is works righteousness. I started carrying my Institutes around to Ministers Council meetings to remind me of God's grace. Well that and I wanted to piss off all the openness theology bullies in the room. (I am a little bit of a rebel that way)

In Scripture, if you buy the JEPD theory anyway, there were people who were grounded in Dueteronomic theology. Everything was about blessings and cursings. If you were rich, it was because you were more righteous. If you had problems, it was because you did things wrong and God was cursing you. Then came the prophets, of which the theology of Jesus more closely aligns, who said a "yes....but" to these people. Sometimes we reap what we sow, they might say. But life is life. Often the poor are not poor because they deserved it, but because they were being pushed down or oppressed. Job had problems and he never understood why. Jeremiah was doing God's will, but he seemed very unhappy most of his life. And as rebellious as the Israelites were, they were not any less righteous that the Babylonians and the Romans.

The way of Christ teaches us that the spiritual life is all about grace. It is by God's grace that anything we have has come our way. It is by God's grace that we have any manner of goodness in us. All is gift. We always get better than what we deserve. And God's work and God's grace are mystery than mathematics or scientific method. I am not a functional Hindu. As U2 says, "Grace travels outside of Karma."

A Couple of cool articles to check out

For an article on:

Giving up Sex for Lent by Lauren Winner

On Portrayals of Pastors in the Media

On revivals on Boston Academic Centers:

I might fall off the wagon

For the last several months I have been on a diet. Workout 3-4 times a week (I am up to 28 minutes on the elliptical trainer). 1800 calories a day, give or take a few. People have noticed a little change. I notice some things fit different. I say all this to give you background that I may fall off the wagon soon.

Today I am eating a sub sandwich with all turkey based meats, but I am longing for the Chinatown Buffet in Bozeman. I could eat around 2000-3000 calories in crab rangoon alone I think. Not to mention Kung Pao or Scheshwan shrimp, Sweet and Sour chicken, chow mein. I better stop with this fanstasy. I am starting to get a little excited.

What about a bacon double cheesburger with BBQ sauce, or a McKenzie River Pizza. Why can't I dream about all these foods while I am sleeping instead of when I wake up. What about an In and Out Burger?


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Micro and the Macro

With a good friend of mine studying economics, I have begun to think a lot about the micro and the macro in our world.

It seems more and more people are either drawn to the very small and intimate, or the large and powerful. This is especially true in Christian community life in America.

house churches
small groups
intimate community

mega churches
lots of options

I guess what I notice is that where people are struggling is in the in-between space. People like small churches and large churches. But medium size churches (150-500) are becoming more and more rare and uncomfortable.

This has a lot of implications for community and belonging. There are a lot of very intimate places in churches, and very public places in churches. There is, however, very little middle ground, or transition points from the public to the intimate.
See THE SEARCH TO BELONG by Myers for more on this.

I see this trend in other areas of society to:

indy films vs blockbusters

Ford Focus vs. Ford Explorer

cell phones vs. conference calls

Do the rest of you see this? What implications do you see it having?

Constantine and the New Pop Theology

I just watched Constantine. What a ride! It was a fascinating movie, and left me with a lot to think about. I think I might even watch it again. Think Matrix meets Exorcist, meets city of Angels, meets Dogma. I think that the movie points to a lot of trends in theology.

1.) Most of the theology in the movie is overly dualist, although an argument could be made differently for the end of the movie. Satan and God are in on "a bet" to see who can win more souls. The importance of the whole thing is to maintain the "balance" of cosmic fairplay in the universe. Although spiritual warfare is biblical, God is soveriegn over the whole universe, including Satan. As Bonhoeffer says, Satan at his strongest could not defeat God at his weakest when Christ was on the cross. The Bible is clear that God is soveriegn even over the evil one, even if the great Greg Boyd's teaching implies differently.

2.) In the coming years there will be less athiests and agnostics, and more people who cognitively believe in God but who are openly angry and rebellious to Him. Also a lot of people who believe the "facts of the faith" but just do not find any value in spiritual pursuits.

3.) In order for the church to be truly relevant and missional in the future, we will have to be more open to the darker sensibilities of Christian spirituality. We will need to rediscover both lament and mystery--especially in our worship services. We will begin to understand faith less as trusting in answers when they dont make sense, and more like walking with Jesus in places where no clear answers seem possible. (I am not sure that makes sense)

4.) The experiencial will become more and more important. "The Real" will replace "the right" as spiritual values.

5.) Their will be more interest in tradition and superstition. However, neither will be authoritative as they have been considered before. They will however be considered in some ways functional, and flexible tools on the spiritual quest.

Anyway...these are my thoughts after just watching the movie.


Saying What Needs to be Said, But Should Go Without Saying           Racism is wrong. Violence based on racial prejudice is wrong. Christi...