Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Buck's thoughts on the Olympics
Chandra's Relationship Talk
Gretchen is setting up house and getting ready for her wedding!
Sarah and Robin party in Lawrence to Cross Canadian Ragweed.
Becca's talk about living like you are dying
Bobbie's quote from Henri Nouwen
Robin's summary of the party in Lawrence.
Kim's post on the pro-life movement
Mike's thoughts on the abortion debate
Mike's book recommendation
Marko's new tattoo
When I hear comments like that I am torn. There is a part of me that really gets angry at the people that tell me these things. My blood pressure rises and I want to pummel them with accusatory questions like: So do you think you are perfect? What makes you the grand arbitrator of all that is right and good? Is this about what the church has done, or you not wanting to be accountable to what the church teaches? Are you really so arrogant to think that you are a better person than those that are inside the church? Why? On the other hand, often simultaneously, I am angry at this network of institutions we call the Church. I start running another set of questions through my head. They sound like: Is the church as we know it really what Jesus intended as a community to build his kingdom? When in the bible did Jesus really say, “Come and join a local church institution so that you can spend all your free time doing religious activities.”? How is the church different than the world when it is all about gamesmanship and politics? So, most of the time I am stuck. I try to listen empathetically, and when given the chance I share my story about how church communities have formed me in a positive way and a little of my vision of what I hope the church can be.
Then I start to think. What would it be like if we started to be sensitive to what it might mean to be a church for the De-churched? A church that is a place for healing of those with church hurts? A place where people burned out on religion can meet Christ and Christians in an authentic and forthright manner, without watering down the good news of Christ.
After that I start thinking this....is there any way that I can do vocational ministry in a way that supports helping others connect with Jesus (which I believe is my life's purpose) without also being a representative of religiosity (which I have more and more of a hard time with)?
Monday, February 27, 2006
My buddy Amy and I were driving around in the mountains, and she made a turn off of the main road for as Forrest Gump would say "no particular reason whatsoever".
We ended up in small little village called Green Mountain Falls. It is only a couple of miles uphill from Manitou Springs, but it was absolutely beautiful. (Amy has pictures coming, but I am not sure how good they are going to be....I have been very tired for some reason.)
It has a pretty lake with a gazzebo and a swiss chalet type of vibe. Part of me wants to spend the night in the local fleabag motel just because.....as a little retreat. For now, I am looking for a little coffee shop up there to work at when I am tired of working in the office.
The pictures some pictures taken in the summer.We were there on a cloudy day with cold weather and the lake was frozen and snow covered.
Even better....you can fish there!WOO HOO!
I can't wait to go back. And to think I did not even know it was there.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Then I discovered something about myself that I was really encouraged by. I wanted to get back here and write because I NEEDED TO WRITE. My writing here is sometimes very rough, but my experiences today and my absence from working on my blog helped me to realize that I am becoming a writer. Perhaps not a publishable one or even a good one in many people's opinion, but a writer nontheless. This is why I started my blog in the first place. And the thought of myself as a writer not by trade or by status, but just because that is part of who I am brought me immense joy.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
I lied. I said I was not going to do it, but I did. I watched the movie/musical RENT. With Amy in town hanging out with her theater friends I just could not help myself.
Emory has this friend who works at Ransomed Heart Ministries (of John Eldridge fame). Anyway...they have this little theater room for workshops. And they wanted to watch the musical rent.
You have to know, I would probably label myself a progressive or enlightened redneck. This means that I take the blue-collar, down to earth hick from the sticks label without the anti-intellectual, racist connotations. And in this case, it means I have only seen one musical on film in my life before tonight, and it was Fiddler on the Roof. Which I think is a more masculine musical than most. And I got a good cheap beer out of the ministries' fridge, which also made the trip across town worthwhile in and of itself.
I learned a few things. Like that RENT was based on LA BOHEME for instance. I was told that at the beginning, which helped make the rest of the show make more sense. Not because I know anything about La Boheme, but because I know a little bit about the history and ideas of the era that it was written, which gave the movie much more depth and contour.
Now I have to admit....listening to men sing a long to musicals made me a little uncomfortable. There is something about men singing show tunes that....well pushes me beyond my pick up truck, country music, and pork rinds kind of upbringing. But I took a deep breath and told myself it was a cross cultural learning experience and I was fine. Plus I liked and trusted my tour guides into this experience, which made it even more fun.
For those of you who are not familiar with RENT, the musical is set in a neighborhood full of starving artists and homeless folks in New York City. There is one guy who remains single, a lesbian couple, a gay couple, and a heterosexual couple. And a majority of the characters in the play are HIV positive.
In true bohemian fashion, the highest goods in this movie are romantic ideals: especially romantic love and artistic expression. This also is challenging for me. I can be a somewhat romantic guy at times...but I am much more blue-collar in my philosophy of love as well. Love is about longSUFFERING and commitment in my mind more than it is about living from one feeling and moment to the next. I hope to talk more about my thinking when it is a little clearer in a post further on in my life.
The cool thing about the musical, however, is its discussion of impermanence, and thus the importance of seizing the moment. The idea in RENT, besides they never have money to pay their RENT (and it is an implied injustice that they should have to pay RENT), is that they are NOT OWNERS. This does have an implied communist bent, but it also has much more to say. Nothing is here forever. Each moment exists for itself. We need to seize our moment, lay claim to our story, as much as we can and as best as we can. We need to not take for granted the life that we live, the opportunities that we have, and most importantly the relationships that we share. (The movie is also very much about community).
And for that message this hillbilly theologian from the rural Northwest can endure showtunes and an East Coast radically liberal left wing agenda. And maybe see God's grace and love in it all.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
During Lent with our EDGE service, I have been working on looking at Jesus' questions, and then coming with an answer. Here are some of the questions after working through the gospels of John and Matthew. What ones do you think work best to build a discussion and a worship service around? Do you see some that fit together well?
Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?
You do not want to leave too, do you?
Have I not chosen you?
Do you understand what I have done for you?
Don't you know me?
Do you now believe?
Who is it you want?
Do you love me?
Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Shall I come and heal him?
Why are you so afraid?
Do you believe that I am able to do this?
How can anyone enter a strong man's house and carry off his possesions without first tying up the strongman?
You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good?
Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?
Have you understood these things?
Why did you doubt?
Are you so dull?
How many loaves do you have?
Who do people say the son of man is?
How long shall I stay with you?
How long shall I put up with you?
What do you think?
WHy do you ask me about what is good?
Whose image is this, and whose inscription?
You betray me with a kiss?
Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your heart?
Usually I like to post about what I am thinking, but new thoughts are not abounding in my mind right now. So I will just give you a daily life update.
First, with the holiday I took an extra day off this week. This has put me a little behind, but it was nice to not leave the apartment complex for two days on Monday and Tuesday except for a Walmart run at 11pm. (I am a night owl).
But since when I am gone nobody picks up my work for me it has made the last couple of days, and Brittany and Kevin would say...CHAOTIC. Throw into my normal stuff that we have had a BIG SCREEN TV donated to the youth if we can come and pick it up. And, Amy came in town last night and wanted to get together for coffee/tea before her interview in Denver, so we went to Pike's Perk and sat on the cushy couches and talked this morning. That is the nice thing about being a minister....flexible schedule. Lots of work, but flexible schedule. Yesterday I worked a 11 hour day. But I got to come into work later than most of the rest of y'all have to show up at your jobs. There are always tradeoffs I suppose.
Last night we had our young adult bible study, CHOW, which is a time for dinner and discussion mainly. We discussed how to balance giving people grace with accountability within a Christian community. Very interesting discussion. Next week we will be back to the VERY SHORT books of the Bible series.
The preaching thing in Denver did not work out...which is ok. In March I start in with teaching our churches FELLOWSHIP class, which is the largest sunday school class in our church. I am a little nervous on how I will be recieved in this Sunday School class.
Well....now you got to hear how my easy week (it is easy this week) is going. And how most of my life is revolved around work.
Have a great day. Hope to post more.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Monday, February 20, 2006
There were six deer that were just off the road as well. I had to slam on my brakes. They were coming down close to the road where the snow had melted a little more than up the hill in the shady trees. What fun!
I thought of San Nakji and thought I should take a picture, but to no avail. It was too dark outside.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
My sister and I were having a strange conversation the other day. We were talking about how we have just blocked out certain things from our memories, or just recently recovered them.
For us, some of this was the result of traumatic events (well for me more than her), but other things were more the result of surviving though a more difficult phase. The interesting thing with us is that we remember things in spots where the other one does not at times. But both of us have years of our childhood that are more or less a blur.
My uncle says he cannot remember big chunks of his childhood. My mother says considering the environment they lived in during those times that this is probably a good thing, and God's little way of saving him from the pain of it all.
Anyway...back to me. My biggest missing link in my memory is immediately following the divorce of my parents. I was thinking of all the reasons I hate Valentine's Day. I have many. Both of the women that I dated and felt I truly loved dumped me on or near Valentine's Day. My mother's boyfriend for some 8 years while I was growing up died during this same time of the year. And my parent's anniversary was February 13--which is also exactly six months before I was born. Anyway....one of the memories that has come back to me recently is my going to my mother and giving her a present for her anniversary. I was so proud and thought I was being such a good son and so thoughtful. And my mother told me as kindly as she could that she did not have an anniversary anymore because her and my father were no longer together. I was heartbroken. Both because I didn't comprehend the REALITY of the divorce until that moment, and because I felt I had hurt my mother by being so insensitive to not remember this. I was in first grade.
Recent events have prompted another memory that I had not thought about in a long time. Lately I have had moments on Saturday and Sunday morning where the dread of my packed schedule (4 events in one day) and the pressure to always have all the things in my schedule put together well has caused me to feel simultaneously like I am going to cry (but can't) and vomit. And I was reminded that the same thing happened when I was in fourth grade. My teacher was Mr. Dott. He hated me, and I dreaded going to his class. The other kids in class would pick on me, and he led me to believe that he thought I deserved it. I was sick to my stomach and stayed home a lot that year. And the physical symptoms were stress related. And I was reminded this year that this was a 25 year old habit of how my body deals with emotional distress. But I had completely forgotten about that until last week.
About 5 years ago, I also suddenly had two semi-abusive episodes come to my mind. One involved a peer in elementary school, and another involved a step-parent. The peer was the largest (tall, fat and strong) of my classmates in elementary school. He would walk up to several of us 3rd and 4th graders and grab us by the throat with one hand and grab our crotches with the other hand. I tried to fight him but was not strong enough. I told my mother. My mother told the school, and the problem was solved. This was difficult in two ways. One, I was angry that my mother shared something I had told her personally. (Which is how the issue came up for me, having to share something with a parent that a student did not want me to share about the student's suicidal tendencies). And, because I was not "man" enough to handle the situation myself.
The other situation was in junior high. I was a late bloomer and overweight in junior high. Not a good combination. My dad had married this woman. Dad was in his late 30s and she was in her mid 20s. She was a barmaid at a watering hole he frequented. We did not get along. She thought as an elementary school kid I talked to much about my mother (because she is just about the best mamma a kid could have asked for) and she as my step-mother was upset and jealous. Anyway...we (the step mom and step sister and my dad and sis) went to my grandparents house. I was taking a shower. My step-mother picked the lock (I always locked the door), walked into the bathroom, and stood in front of the shower without my noticing. I opened the shower curtain. She glared at me. Kept looking at me as I tried to cover myself. She looked down at my waist. She looked at me in the eye. Then she had this evil smile on her face. This smile that said, "Now I have power over you." I still remember the gap in her teeth. And the different shades of green and purple in the towel that she was standing next to.But I had forgotten it for about 15 years.
Do any of you have any experiences where you have suddenly recovered memories that you did not know that you had? How do you think memories form you? Effect you? What is the relationship of the body and physical sensation to memory for you? What senses evoke the strongest memories?
Take time to listen to Eminem....sometimes there is some really good things to think about in the message of his music.
Saturday, February 18, 2006
To live without risk is to risk not living (21).
Only the disciple with unflinching trust in God will dare to risk (21)
We need only to know who and what we really are to break into spontaneous praise and thanksgiving
2.) Helps us understand the value, uniqueness, etc. of our story and the story of others.
3.) Reading novels reminds us of the specialness and uniqueness of the people we serve.
4.) Teaches us the importance of incarnational ministry in a particular setting.
The biblical fact is that there are no sucessful churches. There are instead, communities of sinners gathered before God week after week (3)
The images aspects of being a pastor, the parts that have to do with meeting people's expectations, can be faked easily (9)
Pastoring is blue collar work, not dog collar work. (18)
From Smooth Stones
Putting a name to pain is the first step in recovery from it (121)
worship equals a response to God's word in the community of God's people (186)
Worship is not something someone experiences, it is something we do. (187)
Joy, separated from its roots in God and pursued apart from the community of faith, becomes mere sensation.
Pastoral work takes place in an environment of hostility (218).
Wherever the people of God are there are enemies of God (219).
Pastors need to choose deliberately the servant style if they are to mature in ministry (232).
God's people are constituted and preserved by grace, not culture.
The Unnecessary Pastor
simul justus et pecatta--totally saints and totally sinners at the same time.
Friday, February 17, 2006
Want to find out what someone thinks of God? Listen to the word that they pray and how they pray it. (11)
In the end you could have misunderstandings about of a number of things that unbeknownst to you radically shape the way you relate with God (11).
At the heart of prayer, we must be aware of God’s end goal for our lives—that we are continually becoming fully present, fully alive learners of Christ (17).
Some….truly want prayer to be nothing more than dictation (17).
It’s become difficult for us to imagine God wanting us to make decisions, both big and small. And why would God want such a thing? Because God’s end goal is that we become mature learners of Christ. (Mt. 28:19-20) (18).
I’ve listened to some people pray and thought that , surely, they’re about to break into song. It’s like they’re human airplanes slowly achieving liftoff. Starting slow…picking up speed, more speed, faster, Faster, FASTER….Liftoff! Not this is odd. It’s not only odd, its freakish. Why would God create you with a distinct personality and require you to pray apart from it? (24).
One of the dangers of denominationalism is that you can be prone to think of God as party leader of your own point of view (33).
Allow the Scripture to become a member of the local church community where the sacred text functions as a living organism that baffles, mystifies, affirms, confuses, and convicts. Rather than standing over Scripture to divide and conquer, we sit beneath it with intrigue. (48)
Prayer is what happens when you are no longer conscious of how you look or how you sound. It is the uninhabited space where costumes and scripts are laid aside. (51-52)
It is when are prayers have no thoughts of spiritual upward mobility that we begin to find our way. (52)
In order for us to be people of the truth from the inside out, we must develop a constant suspicion toward the very thing in which we are involved—religion. (53).
There are many particular ideas and practices within the Word-Faith theology, but what sets it apart from the mainstream is its shift of power, where God must dance to man’s attempts to manipulate the spiritual laws of the universe (81).
In the Old Testament, “heaven” or “the heavens” was not a distant place but the direct presence of God. (92).
God inhabits the space that surrounds our bodies. (94)
Prayer must become a way of life (103)
A single, central definition of prayer—any raising of the heart to God. (117).
Supernatural forms of communication were evident, but they weren’t the ideal form of communication between God and the individual (137).
In I Corinthians 13, the supernatural elements are downplayed in comparison to a continuous lifestyle of love (138).
Minute by minute direction of God does not encourage the normal, healthy growth of an individual. (146).
We must distinguish God’s speaking to us via our own thought process from chanelling. (151).
All pastors are fully human but not fully divine. There is only one Jesus. (151).
We play a substantial role in what happens. We just don’t control all of the outcomes. (155)
So after a prayer has been offered, the tragedy is to assume that all outcomes will be the will of God. What we seem to forget is that humans play a vital role in this process as well. (156)
God is NOT unresponsive like the pagan idols of the ancient world. (157)
Following in the way of Jesus, praying has never been the point of prayer. God has been the point.
The other life then is the other life now (110)—P.T. Forsyth
Genesis accentuates the possibility of human access (through Sabbath keeping) to the inner rhythm of creation itself (110)—Levinson
The Exodus reason supports a life of believing in God—Sabbath-keeping is a way to get in on what God does, the Deuteronomy reason supports a life of love—Sabbath-keeping is a way to love your neighbor, a simple act of justice (111).
We make idols in our workplaces when we reduce all our relationships to functions that we can manage. We make idols in our workplaces when we reduce work to the dimension of our ego and control. (116)
Sabbath is not primarily about us or how it benefits us; it is about God and how God forms us. (117)
The men and women who are going to be most valuable to us in cultivating…wonder are most likely going to be people of the edge of respectability: the poor, the suffering and the rejected, poets and children (121).
But it is idolatry all the same—using God instead of worshipping God. (124)
Without wonder we approach life as a self-help project. We employ techniques; we analyze gifts and potentialities; we set goals and asses progress. Spiritual formation is reduced to cosmetics. (123)
We have become consumers of packaged spiritualities….God packaged as a product; God depersonalized and made available as a technique or program. The CHRISTIAN market for idols has never been more brisk or lucrative. (125)
History is lubricated by tears. Prayer, maybe most prayer…is accompanied by tears. (138).
We do violence to the biblical revelation when we “use” it for what we can get out of it or what we think will provide color and spice to our otherwise bland lives. That results in a kind of boutique spirituality—God as decoration, God as enhancement. (140)
Suffering and death, the worst that life can hand us, is the very stuff out of which salvation is fashioned. (143)
The story in which God does his saving work arises among a people whose primary experience of God is his absence. (153)
A sense of the absence of God is part of the story, and that is neither exceptional nor preventable nor a judgment on the way we are living our lives. (153)
Christian spirituality makes bold to claim that there is only one game on the field of history and that is salvation (161).
Salvation is not the spiritual diagnosis of souls, one here and one there; it is the story of a people, a community with a past, with ancestors, with common experience. (171)
Song is one of two ways (silence is the other) of giving witness to the transcendent. (176)
Any approach to salvation that does not eventually becomes worship, and the sooner the better, distorts and reduces salvation to a concept or a program or a technique that you can master and control. (177)
In a salvation-defined history, sin is not diminished—if anything we are even more aware of it—but it is no longer definitive. Salvation is definitive. (178)
We live mainly by forms and patterns, if the forms are bad, we live badly. (181)
The view of death as tragedy is a legacy of the Greeks, the death of Jesus is not tragic (188)
Our sensuality is not a barrier to spirituality; it is our only access to it. Thomas Aquinas was convinced that asensuality was a vice, the rejection of one’s senses often leading to sacrilege. (198)
A ritual puts me into the larger reality w/o requiring that I understand it or feel it at the moment. (205).
Rituals are a good sign to your unconscious that it is time to kick in.—Anne Lammot (205??)
When we realize how integral acts of hospitality are in evangelism, maybe we will be more deliberate and intentional about it (216).
It’s a strange thing, but sacrifice never seems to show up on anyone’s Myers-Briggs profile….there is nothing about a life of sacrifice that appeals to our well-intentioned desire to make things better for out neighbors and ourselves…but the self-promotion and self-help ways of salvation, so popular among us, do nothing but spiral us further into the abyss. (219)
Respendeo esti mutabor—I respond although I will be changed (225).
There can be no maturity in the spiritual life, no obedience in following Jesus, no wholeness in the Christian life apart from an immersion and embrace of community (226).
The more we get involved in what God is doing, the less we find ourselves running things, the more we participate in God’s work as revealed in Jesus, the more is done to us and the more is done through us. (231).
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Since Christmas I have struggled to keep my pace on my exercise routine. I have only been getting in 150-200 minutes a week on the elliptical trainer. It is frustrating. I blame this on my increased workload, which is coming right about the time in my life when I need to pick up a second job. Other than my day off, I have gotten home two days before 10:30pm in the last 3 weeks, and I have averaged about 10 hours a day, six days a week.
I have also struggled trying to take the next steps in my diet. Since I have been getting home late, I have been eating late. And I have not always been eating what is best for me. And then I feel bad about that. Which makes me a little depressed, which makes me want to eat a lot and avoid exercise. It is a vicious cycle.
We changed the time of youth group to accomodate the new worship service. This has led to lower attendance at youth group. This lower attendance puts me in a "drama king" mode. I picture myself penniless and stuck here in some 1 bedroom apartment for the rest of my life.
The worship service I am leading has been well recieved by those who attend. The problem is, other than the musical people, I end up doing all the work for this. This was not my plan. But my boss caved to outside pressure and pushed the schedule on it so that people would be happy something was happening. Meanwhile, my whole strategy of community investment and participation in the worship service went down the toilet. And since it immediately follows youth group, it takes away from my time with the kids.
Then comes Valentine's Day, and I am 32 years old and single, and that I probably will be single for the rest of my life. To be brutally honest, this comes as a huge surprise to me. I know....I am overweight, and people, especially women, do not find overweight folks attractive. But other than being overweight, I think I am a fairly decent looking guy (does that sound arrogant?). I guess others do not. So generally I go along with my life thinking I would be a pretty good catch, until reality hits and I either get shot down by someone I ask out or am stuck with nobody to buy flowers for on Valentine's Day.
Then, there has been a lot of conflict in my life lately. I got on the wrong side of my secretary. I got in a big arguement with the manager at the clothing store I frequent (who I used to date but now is married). And the kid I have been closest to in youth group for the last 3 years now thinks I can do nothing right.
I am behind on my taxes and April 15 is approaching quicker than I am ready for.
It has not been a good 2006.
An Inspirational quote
Bubba's Inspirational Devotion
Valentine's Day Thoughts
Amy looks on the bright side of life
Buck's Man Panties
Buck's True Confessions
Chandra's Love Rhombus (Instead of Simply a Triangle)
Ectsasy's Valentine's Blues
Other Interesting Posts from the Week
Carrie's Japan Travelogue
Heather's Big Disappointment
Outsourcing Our Ports: from Non-Prophet
On Pakistani Bus Art
Interesting Pics from the Blogroll
Superstition Mountains Pic
Nabeel's Eye-Hand Photo Coordination
H.A.M. I AM
- I hear all the time that people dont think pastors do not work very hard. We are kind of lumped in with government workers and cops eating donuts while they are on shift.
Here are a list of the special activities on top of the weekly routine that we did in 2005. I think we got a lot accomplished!
In the youth program the monthly youth highlights looked like this:
· January: Youth Lock-In, Parent Meeting
· February: Super Bowl Party, Valentine’s Banquet
· March: First Sunday Brunch, Service Scavenger Hunt, Ski Trip, Began LEAP Program,Pizza and Video Day over Spring Break, FOOT Meeting, Tygret/Pruitt Wedding in Illinois.
· April: End of School Banquet, Parent Meeting, Pie Auction
· May: Youth Service, Mission Trip Training, Acquire the Fire Conference (2 day),
Parent Meeting, Brunch Fundraiser
· June: Visit King Solomon Baptist, Visit Seniors, Serve at Marian House and a Free Lemonade Stand, Sky Sox Game, Mr. Biggs Go Carts and Mini Golf, Youth Bible Study, AP taught in Friend’s Class
· July: Mission Trip (1st-8th), Weeding church flower garden, Ice Cream social for youth and families, Visit Seniors, Hike Red Rocks Trail, Help set-up VBS, help lead VBS (youth and the Associate Pastor), taught in combined adult SS, officiated Tygret/Gilden Wedding
· August: Youth Worship Service, Youth and Families Movie Night, South Dakota reunion, Associate Pastor led Junior Camp (July 31-August 6)
· Sept. Church Retreat, Restart Normal Youth Group
· October: Regional Youth Event, Combined Youth Group with Highland Park Baptist, Go to Pump It Up
· Nov. Hanging of the Greens in Youth Area, Black Forest Night w/ HP Baptist, Clint had First Aid/CPR Training, EDGE Prayer Meetings, Parent Meeting
Dec. Christmas Party, Study Leave, EDGE Prayer Meetings
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Go ahead and look them over, and tell me which one you like best. The winner will be used as my profile pic for the next month. You may also vote for the new one down below, but anyone who knows me knows I am not necessarily a suit and tie guy so....
1. This is a picture in the Badlands this summer. My personal favorite.
2. Holding Amy's purse at the wedding I went to with her this summer
3. Me standing in the doorway of the old place when I moved here.
4. Church directory picture
5. Me at the wedding again. All of us at our table took pictures like this. Typical
stuff when you are with the Thompson family.
- Me at Dan and Jennifer's wedding dancing with one of the bridesmaids. My second favorite.
- Me after the food fight night at youth group
- Me working in the office this summer.
- Another pic in the office, in my pink shirt
- Me with Amy after a few drinks in Boulder. That Amy is a picture taking fool!
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Monday, February 13, 2006
I had a long debate on IM with Drea about the book by James Frey called A Million Little Pieces. Our discussion centered around whether the book was fiction or non-fiction. The truth of this story is that it had elements of both fiction and non-fiction. The story was based on his life story, but he embelleshed the truth a little too much for most people to truly consider the book a memoir. Though, Frey contends that a memoir is not an autobiography, and that the definition of a memoir is up for debate. In the end, the expose of his book as partially fictionalized will make the book more compelling. People will be discussing for ages with one another whether they think a certain part of the book is true or false.
In Christian circles, A New Kind of Christian that he labels "creative non-fiction". The characters in his story are often based upon real people, or composites of a couple of real people. Much of the book is theology and philosophy of what are now labeled "emergent church" discussion items. It is too much based on a true story for him to label it fiction, and too fictional for him to call it non-fiction. The difference between McLaren and Frey is that McLaren goes to great pains to be as forthright about what he is doing in the preface of his book, so he is not being deceptive.
Another example of this trend is reality TV. We are told it is based upon unscripted real life situations, but is it? How much of what we see on Survivor is scripted? Or at least manipulated? How "real" is the Real Life, and how much of the show is caricuture?
A lot of movies and novels are playing with our perceptions and understanding of reality as well. Think about the movie The Life of Pi. Both books play with your mind and make you wonder, what is real, and what is simply my filter for interpreting reality. The truth is we can never look at anything objectively...we can never escape our filter. Although, I would argue, some filters are more true than others.
Where else do you see this in our world? What are your "core realities" that you base your life on? Why do you trust these truths of yours?
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Len Evans has a blog of inspirational quotes. Those long time readers of this blog know that I have done a lot of this in the past. Enough that half of my blog was quotes at the beginning. Check out his quotes under WEBSITES.
Shelleigh is another new visitor here I have linked. She lives somewhere close to me, but I am not sure where.
She describes herself as a CHRISTOPAGAN, and brings more diversity to the blog.
Tamika is a grad student and has a lot of very intellectual and insightful perspectives, and a few more general observations
Rebecca's Ruminations has been updated to reflect her switch to Xanga.
Ecstasy is also linked to my blog now. She is a thirty something African-American woman from Florida.
Non-Prophet is another Colorado blogger, with a penchant for criticism of megachurches, especially NEW LIFE here in Colorado Springs. He seems to have a strong scientific penchant as well. Also, some fun political stuff from a left leaning perspective is in here! Two posts of his are linked below.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Ok, notice anything yet. Now look at my picture HERE. And remember that was 3 years and a few pounds ago. (I hate that picture!)
In case you have not noticed, when we look at the ordained staff at our church you will see that I am in a slightly different demographic. This is the case with a lot of ministers in our region. And although I strive to respect my elders, I must admit to you that this grieves me. It especially grieves me because it is representative our congregation, and our Region within our denomination.
This is not unique. I recently had an interview with another small church about an hour or two from here. As we were talking, one woman remarked that she "was the youth group". She was in her 50s. They average about 35 in worship. This is the case with several churches across our region. And the case with lots and lots of churches across the country.
In our denomination, I have just been asked to be on the Regional Board. For those who don't know, our denomination (American Baptist Churches) is divided into regional groups, which are further divided into areas or mission clusters. The Region I am currently a part of covers Colorado, one church in Utah, Wyoming, and the handful of churches we have in New Mexico (in areas where Southern Baptists were strong, we avoided planting a lot of churches in the name of Christian unity.). So I have been asked to be a part of the group that governs this section of our denomination. I am going to be there to add a "youthful" voice.
Our first meeting is THURS, FRI and SAT of next week in Denver. And I am preparing for a similar grieving process at this meeting. I am expecting a snowstorm! I am expecting a Q-TIP convention. In other words, I am expecting to be the youngest, and for most to be 20-40 years older than I am.
I am never sure what to say at these things. Because, if I say things that are too radical I alienate myself, and if I just sit idle and say nothing my blood pressure goes through the roof.
So once again I press on, hoping against hope to make a difference and change the world. Even if it is only in my little circles of influence.
Friday, February 10, 2006
What is fruit? It is a used container for the seeds that are inside of it. How did the fruit get there? Well, the tree that it comes from feeds off of light, and the nitrates of decomposing life that is in the ground.
What do we run our cars off of? Plant refuse! What is the internet? Something the US military decided to share.
I have a friend who was a pastor/social worker who said he believed in compost theology. And he helped me to see that there is more than one way to look at this whole process. The bad part, for egocentric human beings like ourselves, is that in many ways our character is not that much different than the dung beetle in this regard. We are living off the salvage yard that this earth (and God) provides for us. We did not make it or create it ourselves.
The good news is, that nothing is wasted. And everything is able to be salvaged in one way or another. I am sitting here listening to Renee talk on a radio show about her book she wrote about her hurts from her awful experience of being abused. And, yet, as you either read or listen to her, and read through her blog, you see that God is growing a beautiful flower of a life out of the crap she grew up in.
Right now I look at my life, and I feel stuck. I am in a small church that really, honestly has no desire to grow. I love the kids I work with, but feel ashamed and guilty that my ministries are so poorly attended. I feel like I dug myself a hole in my career by coming here, and much of my last 3 years have been a waste. Refuse. And it gives me comfort to consider the dung beetle, and realize that nothing is wasted, and all can be redeemed.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
This weekend I was talking with a parent. He was picking up his daughter from our youth group, which she attends regularly. He was sharing how he appreciated all we do for his daughter, and also that he is not very religious. I nodded and smiled. I was about to say something and he went on to say, "Well....as a matter of fact, my wife and I are Wiccan." He smiled. I smiled. I said something about howI appreciated him trusting us enough to let us have his daughter in our youth group. He left. Then I looked to the parent whose children have been driving the daughter to youth group. He was also smiling. But he is Buddhist. As a matter of fact, before he married his formerly Catholic wife, he was studying to be a Buddhist monk. And I thought to myself, "Isn't this interesting, a Wiccan and a Buddhist bringing their kids to a Christian youth group, and a Baptist one at that! How in the heck did that happen?"
Then I watched this show on VH1 called In Race We Lust, which was all about interacial dating. And that multiracial children are becoming more of the norm. And I thought, how common would it be to have a whole TV show discussing and celebrating this 50 years ago. Not really that common would be my guess.
In our society, clear categories and labels are going to be harder and harder to come by. And juxtapositions like Hassidic Reggae and Wiccan/Baptist are going to be more and more common. And, I believe, even celebrated. Is that a good thing. Not always. Is that a bad thing. Not always. But more and more we are not going to be able to retreat into our enclosed communities, or assume everyone is like us, or even assume people are going to have the same logic about things that we have been accustomed to in the past. We are going to have to work with the drawbacks of these truths about our culture, and celebrate the fun and good things about them, or just become more and more disconnected from a world we are called to care for and love.
Something to think about....
from Kim's Blog
another from Kim's Blog
Posts about Megachurches
from Kim's Blog
from Emerging Sideways
Posts about the Superbowl
from Brotha Buck's cartoon file and his thoughts
On Weight Loss and THE RACE
On Mrs. King
On the Muslim Cartoon
Why Amy is called the Queen of Corn
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Monday, February 06, 2006
My sharpest responses are in Fahd's blog, who nearly claimed that terrorism was justified due to one man making such a cartoon.
All is all it makes me thing that groups like COEXIST are a pipe dream, and our future will end up more like what Samuel Huntington envisions.
http://www.jawwads.com/?p=160 (read the comments as well in this one)
Angry reactions to Islamic violence
http://macsmind.blogspot.com/2006/02/come-and-get-me.html (this has the item in protest)
Saturday, February 04, 2006
Before I get started with digging into this passage, I want to give you a few instructions. First, you may want to keep your Bibles open to Mark 1, because we are going to spend a lot of time referring back and forth to the passage. Also, I will be giving you the option of writing some things down as I go, so you might want to get a pen and paper if you like doing that sort of thing.
My mom and I are both readers. My father was as well, but as his eyesight has declined he reads less. I think it is something about wearing those pesky glasses. Anyway, Mom and I like different types of reading. Mom likes the mass produced paperback novels. Mysteries by authors who write stories for each letter of the alphabet. Romance Novels with pictures of Fabio on the front. Grisham courtroom dramas. She likes fast-paced entertaining stuff that moves from one thing to another fairly quickly.
I like different books. First of all, I read a lot more non-fiction than fiction. Forget Danielle Steele, I would rather read Freakonomics. Or some analysis of Catholic writers Thomas Merton, Flannery O Connor, Walker Percy, and Dorothy Day, and their realationships to one another. I like books that make me think about and analyze things that I have never thought about before. In other words, I am a little bit more of a nerd than my mother is.
We are the same ways with movies. I will want to talk about this or that with the movie, and how a certain scene was organized. Or what all of it made me think about. My momma plays along for about 5 or 10 minutes. Then she looks at me and tells me to be quiet. “Can’t you just enjoy the movie?” she says. Movies are about escapism and enjoyment!”
Then I wait until I get home and go write something about it for myself. And include it on my weblog or write something up for the church newsletter that it made me think about.
Different Gospels have different moods to them. And while the Gospel of John and Matthew could read a little bit more like the things I want to read, the Gospel of Mark reads a lot more like a Grisham novel or a one hour documentary of Jesus’ live that we would watch on Biography or the E! channel. Which….is why it is a challenging book to preach out of.
Our readings out of Mark today are almost fractal. Small little snippets of things pointing us to a bigger story that it reflects.
If you have ever sat down with one of our middle schoolers or one of our freshman in high school, it reads a little bit like they talk from the Gospel of Mark.
There was this demon. And he was like really mean. And …then….Jesus cast him out, and everyone was all WOW….and then he was like really popular. So he went to a friends house cause he was all tired…and then he saw someone was sick and he healed her…and we were all like THAT’S HOT…and everyone was bringing possessed and sick people to him and all the sickness and demons were like GONE. And that made him even more popular…..
Anyway you get the point. Lots of action. Not a lot of explanation.
From Mark 1:21-45 Jesus has two full days of healing and exorcism. A healing of a disciples’ relative, an exorcism of another evil spirit, a prayer retreat, a healing of a man with leprosy, and a mission trip into the rural outskirts of the modern world, and a camping trip where he was followed by a whole bunch of stalkers. How are we to deal with all this information? What is the point?
And, as I approach this passage an even bigger question comes up. Why is Jesus being so secretive? He shushes the demons. He avoids the big cities for small towns. He tells the man he heals not to tell anyone what he did. He seems to be going out of his way to tell nobody who he is? What’s up with that? Aren’t we told not to hide our light under a bushel?
You may wonder, Clint, is this going anywhere? Yes it is. So, here is what we are going to do this morning. This sermon is going to feel a little different. Instead of just preaching at you, I want you to join me on my journey to understand just what God is saying to us through his word this morning. Let’s explore Mark 1!
First, and I will say this very quickly and point it out over and over again through our conversation this morning, first, we need to notice that Jesus is very clear about his mission and purpose. We don’t start with a birth, or with creation of the earth. We immediately start out on a mission. John the Baptist prepares the way for the mission. Jesus immediately begins on his mission. He does what he does with clear intent, even at one point saying “this is what I came for” or this is what I came to do”. That doesn’t mean Jesus was a concrete-sequencial type, but God wants us to know through Mark that right off the bat Jesus has a very clear purpose for his life and what he is doing.
POINT 1: Jesus carries out his life and mission with purpose.
Also, as we begin to explore we notice, as I said earlier, that we are right in the thick of the action. But it is interesting to note the type of action we are a part of here. And within a couple of moments Jesus is being baptized. And then he is immediately being tempted in the wilderness. His miracles all have to do with healings and with demons.
Healings and demons? Yes, healings and demons! Which gets us started with our first point that we get from God through the gospel of Mark. Jesus’ ministry is about conquering sin and death. Jesus’ message, from the start, is about spiritual warfare. His purpose, from the start, is take ground for God’s Kingdom. His purpose, from the start, is to do battle with the Enemy of our souls, namely Satan and his forces.
God could have eased us into this truth. He could have had Jesus dancing through and orchard talking with birds and kitty cats with flower petals falling all around him. But God doesn’t allow Mark to sugar coat his gospel. Life is not easy. As a matter of fact it can be very ugly. There is evil in this world. Life is a struggle. Jesus comes to heal and to deliver.
We are involved in a very real struggle. A struggle where souls hang in the balance. The Bible is clear. There is a heaven, and there is a hell. A place where we spend eternity with God, and a place where people spend eternity separated from God. And the Bible is also clear, it is up to us which side of this battle we want to be on.
This truth of God’s Word is reiterated over and over again in the New Testament. It is so essential to Christian faith that it is mentioned in the Apostles Creed as one of the biggest reasons Jesus came to earth. To crush Satan under his feet. In the Gospel of John Jesus puts it this way; “The thief comes to kill and to destroy. I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.”
And as we look at our lives, and begin to follow Jesus, we notice two things.
1.) The war is won with the work of Christ on the cross.
2.) The battle still rages
Evil is still at work in this world. As Eugene Peterson says, “Every inch of ground is contested ground”.
All of you know this. And if you don’t….well then….maybe you are not in the battle.
Try to allow to do some small or large great thing with your heart and your life and you will notice two things:
1.) You will have a sense of peace and purpose and power like never before AND
2.) At the same time you will experience more challenges and heartache than you ever anticipated.
POINT 2: Jesus comes to engage Satan in spiritual warfare
Because of this, the fact that Jesus keeps shying away from the crowd starts to make a little bit more sense.
Please follow along.
Jesus is on a mission.
His mission, to a large part, involves defeating evil, and those forces who seek to enslave the world to sin and evil.
Jesus needs more than a fan club. He needs kingdom workers.
I see nowhere where God is impressed with our church attendance, as important as that may be. I see nowhere in the Bible where God is interested in flattery or lip service for their own sakes.
Why does Jesus have the demons keep silent, and why does Jesus tell a man he healed to tell nobody. Why? Lots of scholars have come up with lots of reasons for this secrecy motif. Here is what I think God is saying through Mark.
I think he is saying..”I don’t need a fan club. I am not here to play to the crowd. I did not come to earth to be popular. To be a diva or an icon. I didn’t come to earth simply to be a bumper sticker on the back of your car, or a t-shirt slogan. I did not come to be a supernatural endorsement for a political point of view, or to be used for someone’s agenda or power trip. I didn’t come to earth to form a sanctified social club!”
I think Jesus is saying, “I came to set people free. To set people free from sin. To heal them. To offer them eternal life. To make their world a better place.”
I think Christ say to us, “I came to show them that longsuffering love has more to offer than a surge of adrenaline and/or hormones. I came to show them that being compassionate to their neighbor is more important than having more money and more power. I came to show you that living with integrity and honesty is more rewarding than always trying to be what everyone else expects of you.”
Why do I say Jesus doesn’t need a fan club? Because I occasionally listen to sports radio…that’s why.
Whether it be in Denver or KC, to a Seattle Seahawk booster, the fans are obnoxious on talk radio. You turn on the radio in the middle of the winning streak and the fans are all about how they carried the team to victory because they sat in front of their TV and screamed and yelled for two hours. But, that is not the bad part. The bad part is when they lose.
In the week after a local team loses on talk radio, these ravid die-hard fans turn fickle. The quarterback needs to be traded or cut, the coach needs to be let go, the turf of the field needs to be changed, the uniforms from a decade ago need to be brought out of moth balls and used again because the new ones are jinxed.
The fan club is always fickle.
Churches had a pretty big fan club after 9-11. That lasted a few weeks. Maybe a month or two for some. Folks started feeling like they were going to be more earnest in prayer or devoted to church life. That soon changed though.
Jesus does not need a fan club, he needs committed disciples that know him, are loyal to him, who are committed to serving him.
He needs people willing to join him on the mission. Willing to engage the Enemy in spiritual battle so that he can remake this world more in his will, and remake our souls more in his image.
POINT 3: Jesus does not need a fan club, he needs kingdom workers.
So then, what is Jesus’ method of carrying out his mission? Is it a mass-marketing scheme? Is it wowing people with his healing powers and his charismatic speaking voice? Is it gathering throngs of people around him?
No. As we have seen he seems to avoid this. Even when he feeds the masses, he tries to send them away to get food at first.
What is the way of Jesus? The way of battling the tide of evil and sin in our world? What is the way of being true to his mission?
It is laying hands on individual people and touching them.
Think about it, Jesus could heal anyway he wanted. But most often he does so by personal address, personal touch, personal teaching here in the first chapter of Mark.
He reaches out and loves individual, unique people with unique histories and unique joys and struggles.
He did and he still does.
He avoids the popularity trap so that he can touch each of us and make each of us whole. He avoids the crowds so he can spend time with God…yes. And he avoids the crowds so that he can have children sit on his lap and he can bless them. He avoids the crowds so that he can sit and listen to our hurts and our happiness.
He wants to whisper in our ear:
You are the apple of my eye!
Before the earth was formed I was thinking of you!
I love you so much I know how many hairs are our your head!
I have made wonderful plans for us to be together!
A couple of weeks ago we did this imaginative prayer thing in our CHOW group. And we asked Jesus “what do you think of me”. Now usually, when I am leading this exercise I do not get into it as much as the people I am leading, because I am too focused on leading.
This is also hard for me, because it is hard for me to clear out all the accusations of myself I have in my mind. The memories of my sin. Of my failure. I never get past the place of feeling frustrated and unworthy.
But this time was different. I asked Jesus, “What do you think of me” and all of the sudden I was in a room. A very large room. Like a mansion or something. And almost immediately, Jesus seemed to answer, “What do you mean…what do I think of you?...You should mean when do I think of you…and the answer is I think of you all the time..”
And I looked around and the walls were full. FULL! And they were all pictures of me. Me running. Me smiling. Me praying. Me ministering with teenagers. Me doing things that only God and I knew about. Me crying. And there was that picture of me going to the bathroom in the river that always embarrasses me when my mom pulls it out of the photo album.
And it is those moments, those rare moments of clarity we see what the Bible is teaching us here today I think.
Jesus does not need a fan club, but he wants to be our #1 fan. He wants to be even more actually. He wants us to come home. He wants us to be his.
That is what we celebrated here at the altar. That is why we eat the bread and drink the cup.
That is why it is necessary that we do whatever we can on Christ’s behalf to tell people of the new life we can have through choosing to follow him.
And so he fights through the battlefields, and he avoids the fickle crowds, so that he can make his way to us….to each of us?
Won’t you open your life to him?
Friday, February 03, 2006
1. Pastoral Staff (Youth, Associate)
2. RV Park attendant
4. Children's Program Director at Inner City Neighborhood Center
Four Movies I Watch Over and Over Again:
1. Fight Club
2. The Tao of Steve
3. Best of Saturday Night Live: Chris Farley
4. Edward Scissorhands
Four Places I've Lived:
1. Colorado Springs, CO
2. Kansas City, KS
3. Homer, AK
4. Belgrade, MT
Four TV Shows I Watch:
1. Fox News Watch
2. Celebrity Fit Club
3. CMT Wide Open Country
Four Places I've Vacationed:
1. Escendada, Mexico
2. Plainfield, IA
3. Philidelphia, PA
4. Pheonix, AZ
Four Websites I visit daily:
1. Bible Gateway
3. First Baptist Church of Colorado Springs--where I work
Four of My Favorite Foods:
3. French Fries
4. Ice Cream
Four Places I'd like to be right now:
2. In Bed
3. At a Coffee Shop
4. In a new job
Six Folks Now Tagged With This Meme:
1. Becca S.
2. Kim I. (either start a blog or leave comment here)
4. San Nakji
6. Georgia Peach
Thursday, February 02, 2006
We are born in a womb, and we live with the rhythym of a heartbeat. We grow older, we have the life rhythym of a school year. And most of live, whether we admit it or not, effected by the rhythyms of the seasons.
Many scientists who study such things believe that the noise of snoring is not what disturbs us when someone is snoring next to us in bed. Instead, what makes it difficult to sleep is that we like to breathe in rhythym with those that are around us. Snoring disrupts our biorhythyms.
And women, when they start living together, adapt the biorhythyms of those around them with their reproductive cycles. Usually, they adapt to the dominant female in the group.
Think about when men worked on chain gangs or building railroads. Don't they often adapt some sort of pattern to their movements and a rhythym to their days.
Is there any part of life that is not paced by some sort of rhythymic pattern?
What is the American slang term for when life seems unpleasantly chaotic? We often say we are out of sync. And what kinds of words is this root associated with. Syncopation (a rhythymic musical term) and Syncronicity. What do we call it when things seem to fit together for us? Harmony! A musical term where varied parts come together to make a beautiful but not uniform whole. Different parts, but the same rhythym to support it.
The habits we form, the way our body functions, the way we relate with others, all seem to have a "rhythym" to them.
How have you been feeling lately? Out of sync? Harmonious?
Do the different parts of your life seem to fit together?
Do you seem to have your heart, head, and life all heading in the same direction, or does your life seem dissonant?
Just a few thoughts. Would love to hear your response!
This week, my mom and my sis, and all her hubby's side of the family are going to Hawaii and staying in a condo there for the week.
I am working 10 hour days (at least) and preaching on Sunday. I spent my last vacation in my apartment.
Is there something wrong with this picture?
I am feeling sorry for myself today. Kinda.
At least my Seahawks are in the Super Bowl!
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