Thursday, March 31, 2005

Quiet, Please?

Normally, I can at least get my mind to shut off (I'm a guy - it's not that hard for us) and enjoy a little "peace & quiet" in the midst of all that's going on. But I'm having a tough time doing that this morning, shutting off the world. On top of that, my left eye just fuzzed out - not sure what's causing this, but it makes everything kinda surreal and 3D-ish. Not good walking across a third-floor catwalk through the atrium - looked like I was going to meet Professor Xavier in the big sphere thingy from Xmen.

I'm going to meet with Pastor Jeff this evening over coffee. I really enjoy these conversations, and I hope I'm being fruitful for him, too. It's difficult enough to think some of the things I think, but finding someone flesh and blood to talk about these things, without feeling like an idiot or that I'm wasting their time or my time, is a huge blessing to me right now. Things can flow in email or on this blogsite, but sitting in a real place with real seats and real tables and real customers and real coffee - that's totally different. We were made for community and relationship, and I'm learning that in fresh new ways, too, I guess. Just a new way of tracking alongside someone else.

One of the things I threw out for us to talk about tonight: "I've got a question for you, or maybe it's a statement in the form of a question a la Jeopardy and Alex Trebek - Jesus appeared suddenly to the disciples and rebuked them for refusing to believe (Mark 16:14), but then He waited a week to show up to Thomas and "prove" Himself (John 20:24ff) - what's up with that?" God is so much better at handling doubt than we are. We tell each other that you don't have faith - instead, Jesus let Thomas sit in his doubt for awhile, let him get real with it, let him see the others and their lives. A week later, Thomas is falling over himself to worship, not just to see the "proof" but to also see and to be with Jesus again, his Friend and Mentor. Waiting for the Savior must've had some purpose, some impact on Thomas' life.

Amazing how clear I can see again after finding my LEFT LENS THAT FELL OUT AT THE DRINK MACHINE.

In The End

  • - Terri Schiavo has died - Mar 31, 2005

    In the end, there are no winners here. Only, hopefully, peace for Terry - and I pray, reconciliation and restoration for the families and friends involved.

  • Wednesday, March 30, 2005


    Well, for all the celebrating that might be going on in a perfect world (my wife FINALLY finished and mailed off her national board certification entries!), we're all a little bummed. In spite of the gorgeous day, we've still got a sick-but-recuperating little girl, and we learned yesterday that my brother and his wife lost the baby. They've been there before - doesn't make it any easier, probably worse. And now there's the issue of other folks trying to say the right things and not being able to. Don't think anyone would understand, unless they've been through it - or if they're little kids. We told our little girl this afternoon, and she took it well. Very sad - she was looking forward to it already - but she's such a big girl. Really, there's nothing to say but to be there. Hope we're able to do that.

    Audio Rambling 03/29

    this is an audio post - click to play

    Posted this yesterday morning. Hope Blogger has some of its issues worked out by now... maybe?

    Tuesday, March 29, 2005

    We Pray

    When life happens, we pray. I ask for prayer for my brother and sister-in-law - life is happening for them, and grace & comfort from the living, risen Christ is all anyone ever needs, no matter the cause or circumstance.

    Thank you.

    Audio Schmaudio

    I've tried posting twice this morning through Audioblogger. They haven't shown up yet, and both have the same "message" - but if they ever post I'll pick the one that took the best and cast the other one to the outer darkness where there's weeping and gnashing of teeth. Or if they never post - I'll be gnashing, I guess.

    Monday, March 28, 2005

    Monday Again

    Coming out of the Easter weekend, I find myself muddled in Monday again. Every week, seven days after the last one, another Monday comes along. Back to work, after what's usually a relaxing and well-rested weekend. This morning, waking up to the aftermath of overnight storms and facing the prospect of the long commute... again. I don't mind the monotony or the routine - just the "suddenness" of having Monday come after Sunday. And this morning, I'm wondering if Jesus experienced that at all: having Monday come right after the Resurrection?

    This is a holiday week for our kids, but it's going to be way too busy to have a "holiday" for the adults. And I guess I'm just a little bummed by that: "abundant life" is so full of the drudgery of the day-to-day, isn't it? Isn't it still? Jesus is fully alive, and the life we now live is only meaningful in Him, through Him, lived with Him even now. And we have to go through Monday again.

    Sunday, March 27, 2005

    TallSkinnyKiwi Not A Threat

    I posted last week on the article in the Baptist Press: "Emerging Church Movement A Threat". This afternoon, Andrew Jones has a pleasant and educational response to the article and it's positions. Nicely done, sir.

    Morning Discovery

    The tomb is still empty.

    Saturday, March 26, 2005

    Continuing the Conversation

    Blurfing tonight, and I clicked through to two sites with posts on "conversation" that worked me over, in a good way.
    I still believe in leadership. I see it completely different than the way I used to see it. But I see a vacuum without it. It's a God thing. He offers leadership to a community through person(s). I clearly see things and think about things that most other people in our community don't consider. Are they not 'mature'? No, they are just as much as I. Is there something wrong with me? No, I'm done feeling bad about it or assuming that everyone else should be thinking about these things constantly. It's just the 'gift' I've been given for this group of people. I'm not gonna argue hierarchy crap, 'cause it would take too long to re-explain language. I'm not about hierarchy, let's just leave it at that.

    So, if I have been given something, designed a certain way by the Father and am trying to - as a part of the Body - help others find how the Father has designed them than I can't do that rightly by avoiding who I am.... Redefining leadership/gifts/calling/bodylife as opposed to acting like it is unnecessary is what I see as useful right now in the "emerging/fill in the blank" church.

    - jason, the living home
    This post jumped out at me (just taking these paragraphs out as "mine" right now). "Leadership" is so different for me, and I've had no one really to talk to about it. The place we're in as a family is good, and I'm getting to a point where these conversations have room to breathe again. But it's been a long time, a painful time, a trying time. I'm the one with the "gift" of asking questions no one else is bothered with, and I think it's a plus - not a negative, not an attack, but complementary and supplemental to whatever else is going on in the kingdom being as it's lived out together.

    And then there's this piece from Gordon at Real Live Preacher: "We Can Talk at Starbucks". His conversation with his daughter is inspiring, because Trace is 9-yrs-old and beginning to ask questions and have his own "faith". I want to be a father who trains his kids, guiding them through their own stories, their own lives. If "questioning" is a gift, then I want to cultivate "listening", too.


    I've had a run of "good luck" lately in my book review hobby - finding books that I didn't have much hope for, and finding pleasant and challenging and encouraging surprises inside. It's happened again with Gary Kinnaman's Experiencing the Power of the Cross (copyright 2005, Bethany House Publishers). Looking for a typical treatise on Christianity and its dependency on the death, burial and resurrection, I was struck by how Kinnaman takes it another direction: looking at the relational power, the interaction between us and God and between us and each other, that comes from the cross and the life of Jesus lived out among us.

    One of the concepts I've heard before is "believe into" Jesus and His kingdom here, not just "believe in" Christ for your salvation. Opening with this thought, I think the book does a good job fleshing that out in prose a bit. (p. 29)
    Faith is a plunge into the real. Faith changes our reality by allowing us to look at what cannot be seen. As we think about the power of faith, however, I want to make something clear: For the Christian, faith is not some cosmic power equally accessible to all living beings, some force I can use to bend spoon handles this way and my future that way.

    Biblical faith is antithetical to the popular New Age idea that faith is power to reach your dreams. If you just visualize it... if you just say it... no, the object of our faith is the person of Christ alone, His word, His reality. Faith is not believing for what I want but living my life as though everything God says in His Word is alethia: the truth, the ultimate reality. Faith has no intrinsic power, but Jesus does! Faith opens our hearts, and releases the supernatural power of God into our world.
    In a world that can be wishy-washy about faith and what it means to believe in Christ, I couldn't have said it better myself.

    I appreciate how Kinnaman uses the metaphors of the Matrix movies, stories of his own life, and scripture (he was really stuck on Hebrews 10 as he wrote the book) to write a challenging and still encouraging, and is fairly removed from the typical "sunday school answers" we normally ponder when thinking of Jesus' death and atonement. Real forgiveness is such a huge thing; real guilt and conviction leading to real freedom and release is such a real thing.
    Humans naturally know nothing of this unconditional grace, and world religions know nothing of this comprehensive, no-strings-attached God-forgiveness, but it's the pillar of the new covenant in Christ's blood. God forgets because forgiveness is self-imposed amnesia. It's not that He can't recall the facts of your life, good and bad, but if and when He does think of your sins, it is totally and completely without any effect on how He thinks of you. (p. 89, emphasis mine)
    I think there's much to learn about the impact of the Cross on our world today, and I appreciate that Kinnaman has written a book to at least start the conversation, to add some new stories to the anthology, to add some new insight to the old metaphors, and to challenge us in living in Christ's reality by real and meaningful faith in Him.

    Good Press on "Emerging Church"

    As a follow-up to this post a few days ago, I wanted to link to some other pieces that have a more positive spin, or at least a non-condemning tone, on what's happening out there:
  • Here's an article from Kentucky: just good story-telling, sharing a bit about what church means to folks who are finding something meaningful and transforming.
  • Wiki entry for "emerging church"
  • "Thoughts on the Emerging Church"
  • Church Executive Magazine - nooooooooooooo
  • Andy Crouch, "The Emergent Mystique"
  • Seattle Times magazine article on Mars Hill Church

    I don't post much in the way of "opinion pieces" - some folks hate that about me, about my overall style - but it's not because I don't have opinions. It's just easier to ask questions, to tell stories, to get "my point" across in other ways, I guess. That's why I'm drawn to the emerging paradigm, where there's a love for the Word and for experiences and stories that change lives in real ways. For too many folks, the western church is an afterthought to weekly life, when the reality is that we are Christians 24/7 and just don't know how to live it out. This "emerging church thing" isn't about candles and incense and a certain style to be imitated and manipulated. Rather, I think it's an atmosphere that allows to discussion, for questions, for seeking together and encouraging each other. And that can't be all bad.

  • Friday, March 25, 2005

    Twist & Shout

    You are Ferris Bueller (from Ferris Bueller's Day Off)! - You're a smooth talker and a resourceful, quick thinker, and you play by your own rules. Fortunately, you use such things for fun and not to hurt anyone else. God only knows what would happen if you crossed paths with Lisa from Weird Science.

    Which John Hughes Character Are You?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Professionalism, Good Friday

    Next-Wave has launched a podcast service - publishing MP3s on the web to be downloaded for later. Really cool - and the opening conversation has to do with "professionalism" in the church and how it might be detracting from our effectiveness as salt and light.

    I have been thinking deeply the past few days about the death and resurrection of Christ, the kangaroo court, the opportunities for people to do the right thing and then not, the disciples leaving and being so discouraged, frightened - and Jesus, suffering and bleeding and feeling every blow, and going through the whole exprience anyway. I'm at such a loss to get into the shoes of the people involved. I'm appalled that I would ever hope to say "I understand", because I don't. And yet His love is still real and still pursuing my life. That's just nuts.


    Photo Friday: Tiny

    My daughter took this snapshot of her Puppies on a trip to Great-Nanny's last year. Just knew this one would come in handy and be posted eventually.

    Thursday, March 24, 2005

    'Emerging Church Movement' - Threat to the Gospel

    Leaders call 'Emerging Church Movement' a threat to Gospel - (BP): "When asked whether a person must trust Christ as dying to make atonement for sin in order to be a Christian, McLaren replied, 'I want to help people understand everything they can about the cross. ... I wouldn't say that having that understanding (Jesus dying as a substitute for sinful humanity) is all that it means to be a Christian. I think that some people might have that understanding and not be interested in following Jesus. They want Jesus' blood to pay for their sins so they can go to heaven, but they aren't really interested in following Jesus in this life.'"

    When are people going to realize that questions are not "threats", and that re-thinking our pat and simplistic answers is not a bad thing? The real "threat" is allowing people to stagnate in the pews while the world around passes them by. The real "threat" is embracing "Jesus Is The Answer" while never checking to see what the real Questions are outside the four walls. I get tired of everyone throwing stones at the way church is changing and at the leaders of the "conversation".

    "Mohler concludes that McLaren and other leaders in the Emergent Church represent 'a significant challenge to biblical Christianity.'"

    The challenge is not to biblical Christianity - there is more love and respect for the WHOLE of scripture within this shift than I've seen in lots of other circles. No, the "challenge" is to the status quo, to the elitist and judgmental attitudes of those who've already figured it out for themselves and are now marketing it to the masses, devoid of meaningfulness and transformational power.

    It's Just Thursday?!?

    It's been a long week, with lots of stuff fit into the schedule beyond the normal work/eat/sleep/kids routine. And there's still the rest of today and tomorrow before the weekend gets here. Vicki and the kids have tomorrow and next week off - that'll be good for them, good for my wife to get stuff done on her national board certification, good for the kids to have a change of pace at a weeklong day camp with all kinds of different activities.

    I'm looking forward to the weekend, finding some contemplative time for Easter. I was IMing with Jen @ Meditatio last night about how I don't follow a liturgical calendar or traditions as much as others, but I do find time to just ponder the weight of the week's events in the life of Christ. I want to re-watch THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST before Sunday, re-discover the way Jesus' eyes connected with the souls of everyone He looked at that day.

    I've got to find some reading time, too, and then there's basketball all over the place of course. Next week it'll be a little less hectic in the morning with the kids not going to school, so that'll be a plus for the week. All good - just feeling like it's dragging on right now.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2005

    Reading List

    As usual, I am in the middle of too many books. Some are for fun, some for review, some ... well, I was bored, what can I say?

    Tuesday, March 22, 2005

    Love, Death & Grief

    I haven't posted at all on the issues and circumstances surrounding the life and family of Terry Schiavo. The other night I watched as different sides of the aisle in the House took up their cause against the other, and I wondered where all of this would ultimately lead. This morning's Daily Dig deals with it as well, and says some things in a way I would if I could make a difference in their lives as parents, as a husband, as friends.
    "In Terri’s case, there will be suffering on both sides, no matter how the controversy is resolved. All the more, shouldn’t each of us lay aside our opinions and agendas and ask what Jesus asked – that God’s will alone be done?"
    - Johann Christoph Arnold
    I do not know which "side" I would want to see "win". I honestly don't think "winning" will be a victory, will it? I think I understand a little the issues at hand: the parents love their daughter, and would do anything to have her alive and vibrant and living a life that's rich and full, and they're willing to be patient and care for her as best they can, as long as they can. I don't fault them on that at all. Her husband wants her to be at peace, wants her to have what he feels she would want. The picture painted of him as an evil selfish adulterer is trashed by the fact that he's still there - I can only imagine the love he might still have for her, how he wishes none of this had happened in the first place, how he wishes she were here, too, but wants her to be free from the bondage of the "persistent vegetative state" she's been locked in for fifteen years. If he didn't love her, he would be gone, and this would be a non-issue. On all sides, Terry Schiavo is loved, appreciated, and celebrated. The enemies are friends, family members, and loved ones who only want to do "the right thing".

    We're not afraid of death as much as I think we're afraid of being left behind. We're afraid to grieve. We're afraid to change routine. We're comfortable with each other, love each other, rely on each other - and death wrecks relationships with its pain and remorse. We don't want to mourn, and we'll do whatever we can to prolong life and put off death because we don't want to say goodbye. It's selfish on our parts, but it's also what we were made for, to be together forever and enjoy the pleasure of each other's company for a long long time. It should hurt when someone leaves, and we should mourn when someone dies. That we want to hold on is admirable, and that we would love each other that much is incredible.

    There will be probably be no winners in this situation, no one to pump their fists in the air and gloat. Instead, I pray that there is some resolution, some resolve, some push that will allow people to grieve, to love, to mourn, to cherish, to reconcile and to restore. That's what we're here for, too.

    Monday, March 21, 2005

    Upon This Rock

    Digging around through email, through devotional material, through the Bible this morning, I'm drawn to the passion story and the events and experiences of that last week. I think I want to dig into Peter's experience of the week from Palm Sunday to the Resurrection - blog some of it here, and jot down some notes for Sunday's Q&A morning discussion time, but mostly for me, to learn and grow and see what challenged him and what changed his life.
    The Real Lesson - Henry Drummond

    Every person has fallen at some time in his life - most, many times. Peter's steps in denying Christ have since been traced by every human foot. Anyone can understand how he could have slept in the garden, when he should have watched and prayed. Most of us feel an almost unconscious sympathy for him.

    But there is something in Peter's life that is much greater than his sin. It is his repentance. We all too easily relate to Peter in his weakness, but few of us grasp the wonder of his change. Sinful Peter is one man, and repentant Peter another. That is the real lesson in his life...

    "And Peter went out and wept bitterly."

    [Daily Dig 03/21/2005 - Source: “Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter”]
    There are portions of the gospel story where Peter looks like such a heroic figure, and other times where he's a complete bonehead. What happened to even him out? to give him stamina and courage to do what was called of him? Right now, I've got my moments of great work and incredible stupidity. Peter jumps off the page for trying to be the best leader he could be, and for messing things up, saying the wrong thing, splashing without faith. So been there, so done that.

    Sunday, March 20, 2005

    Needing Each Other

    [as they are dangling from under the road way, after Left Ear's gotten all the explosives in place, and is about to insert the detonater]
    Left Ear: Just give me a minute.
    Charlie Croker: [impatiently] NOW?
    Left Ear: I'm about to insert this detonator tube, and if the brass touches the sides, you and I will be the last people each of us will see.
    Charlie Croker: Take all the time you need.
    Left Ear: [after a pause] Hey, Charlie?
    Charlie Croker: What?
    Left Ear: I love you, man.
    Charlie Croker: I love you too.
    We are people who need people, finding ourselves and finding truth and finding meaning in community together. Just found this sequence from The Italian Job, and I'm just really glad that there are people around us who are there in the easy times and in the times when we're about to blow everything up.

    Good time this morning getting to meet a couple at church. They have gone through a different but similar journey to find themselves at this point in the journey, and it was nice to just sit there in Theater 14 (right now, it's playing Be Cool - how cool is that?) and get to share and reflect on how truly awesome and good Jesus is in our lives.

    Looking forward to next week - 9am Q & A in Theater 14, and TWO SERVICES at 9am and 10:30am - celbrating Easter and a risen and reconciling and victorious Savior. Come on out if you don't have plans. Love to have you in the house - together, with us.

    Missing Winter

    Saturday, March 19, 2005

    Temple Clean-Up

    Spring Cleaning - Meister Eckhart

    Jesus went into the temple and boldly drove out those that bought and sold. And when all was cleared, there was nobody left but Jesus. Observe this, for it is the same with us: when he is alone he is able to speak in the temple of the soul.

    If anyone else is speaking in the temple of your soul, Jesus will keep still, as if he were not at home. And he is not at home wherever there are strange guests - guests with whom the soul holds conversation, guests who are seeking to bargain. If Jesus is to speak and be heard, the soul must be alone and quiet.

    [posted from Bruderhof/DailyDig 03/19/2005 - Source: "Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter"]


    It was a relative downtime in my life when I received a copy of Leadership Wisdom from Unlikely Voices by Dave Fleming (copyright 2004, Youth Specialties) in the mail. I didn't see myself in leadership at all, and as we were looking to find a church in which to be comfortable and to feel challenged, I really didn't want to contemplate that side of my Christian life for a long while. Show of hands if you know God often has other plans?

    I've read my share of leadership books and church growth books and how-to-do-youth-ministry books and how-to-lead-small-groups books and rediscover-your-heart-to-be-a-better-leader books. But Fleming has written something here that I hadn't come across before: a book that "agreed" with some of the things I'd already experienced, but that also expanded on the truths I'd come to hold dear and even exploded some of the things I needed to let go. Too often we read books that agree with us, feeling very confident that we would say the same things as the author if we had access to his thesaurus. With Fleming in Leadership Voices, he was saying what I would say if I knew what the heck I was talking about, which was becoming less and less apparent as his book became more and more challenging and more and more encouraging for me personally. I don't know if that translates well in text on a screen: basically, I knew some of this stuff, but I didn't understand it, and what I didn't know or didn't have before, I've been challenged there, too.

    In the Introduction, "You Lead What You Eat", I think the author gives the reader a thesis statement for why this book was written:
    At this juncture in leadership thought and practice, we need uncommon lenses to view a domain that has grown too predictable. This book provides just such a view of leadership thought and practice - and that's through the lens of the Unlikely. The Unlikely, in this case, are men and women of the past whose lives and messages left an indelible mark on the world. Most would not be required reading for contemporary leadership classes. Nevertheless, they provide us with wisdom for the terrain of 21st-century leadership. (p. 15)
    In sharing "unlikely voices", Fleming shows that these ideas are not new, they are "tried", and they have already given return on investment and results that are meaningful in their particular cultures.

    This book works through Fleming's use of popular culture to point out its faults - imagery and plotpoints from Castaway, recollections of watching The Wild, Wild West as a kid, comparing parallel life circumstances to living in the Twilight Zone (I am so there!) - and his use of comparatively "unpopular" culture to hear the voices and lives of people who have never really been heard as "leadership voices" before. The question one might have is, "if these people had such leadership insights, why haven't we heard some of these things before?", or, "why did Fleming have to scrape the barrel to find such off-the-wall references to say what he ultimately wanted to say?". I would respond that what's provided here is common sense, and in using voices and lives and examples that have never really been used in this context before, Fleming is able to point out the obvious in a way that... well, if it had been obvious before we would've been doing that already.

    In comparing our leadership needs to tending a flame, I'm challenged by the idea of both cultivating that environment necessary for the fire to grow and to be helpful, and to surrender to the flame's unpredictability in order for it to grow and maintain its usefulness. In embracing aspects of chaos that have been the bane of leadership books and seminars for the past several decades - "Can you say five-year plan? Come on! Five years? If you must, go ahead, but around month seven of year one, get ready for a bend in the road that could change everything" (p. 27) - we find a "friend" that keeps us on our toes and encourages visionary dreaming and working out those details for the future growth of our organizations. Ideas and issues such as these need a new voice, a new askew perspective to get my mind around the whole, and Fleming's book has done just that for me. So if you see me looking at something funny, head slightly cocked to the right, in deep deep thought, just consider this: I'm listening for an unlikely voice, a still breeze instead of the earthquakes and the fire, to speak into my life and bring direction, encouragement and grace.
    The Unlikely Voices you discover - past and present, resonant and dissonant - are part of a mighty chorus of Voices. These Voices seek to live and to provide leadership that begins from a place of authenticity. Let these voices rush into you like a mighty stream of humanity sharing its heart with you. Then join them. Live and lead in a way that creates in you a Voice - an unlikely Voice, a Voice that will inspire others to find their own voices. (p. 193)
    That's what stands out to me most, probably. In a world that wants to quote the latest slogan or live out the latest NYT Bestseller title, these "unlikely voices" are a clarion call to have your own voice and your own life be heard.

    Friday, March 18, 2005

    Epilogue To The Week

    It's definitely been an off the hook week. Going from winter to the tropics and back again; spending time getting to know co-workers while on adventure on the before-mentioned tropical island (mostly the adventure of simply driving in San Juan!); good food, decent coffee in both places; feeling productive, a contributing member of a team there and here on the continent. I have so much on my mind and in my heart right now - it's all mush, to be honest. But it's a good mush - thoughts of love and mercy and justice that is pure and gracious. How does a "better Christianity" really play out in our world, especially our Western cultural Christian world, today? That's the kind of thing on my mind - maybe sunsets and beaches and winter storms have that effect.


    Photo Friday: Glow

    Capturing the sunlight off the carpet in our living room.

    Thursday, March 17, 2005

    Sharing A Sunrise

    Every sunrise, every moment when the light hits the water and the shore, ever ripple and wave reflecting and refracting the new light - and God gets to see this stuff all the time. Wow.

    Heading Home

    We fly out this afternoon for the return trip to CAE. Wish us the best: there's bad weather north of Charlotte, sleet and snow and stuff there, while it's sunny and 81F here right now in San Juan. I've got a photo from my balcony this morning, and I'll put it together with a snapshot of falling wintery precipitation if I see any before I get home - "here's morning, here's evening". I'm looking forward to seeing the kids, sleeping in my own bed, being with my sweetie again.

    Tomorrow night is movie night, celebrating the release of The Incredibles on DVD. I'll be going home, once again showing that superhero dads are really cool, always come home, and neverforget how to wrestle their kids without hurting them too bad.

    Wednesday, March 16, 2005

    Just A Bit Off

    I feel a bit off today - a little achey, probably from the lack of sleep and relative lack of caffeine. We're also an hour ahead of home, and that's throwing me just a little - I don't expect much lag from it when we get back tomorrow night. I've got plenty to do, both here and back at the office, so there's no real down time to fill. I do hope I fall asleep a bit quicker tonight than last night. I just had a wonderful lunch and I'll be alright for the afternoon, but I still feel like a nap would be good. Don't know if I want to go out tonight for dinner or not, needing to pack for the trip home tomorrow.

    My reading and the subsequent thoughts driven by my books lately also have me feeling a bit off, but I don't know that it's a bad thing necessarily. Argumentatively, I could've been "off" before, and this readjustment is getting me better centered rather than knocking me off course. That's the hope I hold onto in the midst of change and growth. I just got off IM with someone who's in the midst of deep conversations, too - looking for answers and refuting those who "know it all and are always right". I can appreciate when someone's willing to ask the tough questions, to challenge her own faith to be more real, more solid, more meaningful, more fruitful. What might feel "just a bit off" is what's so needed to make things right with humility and purpose.

    Ahh - good time of the afternoon here, where a capuccino can fix just about anything.

    Followers, Not Admirers

    Went here for dinner last night - very good, service a little off, but the conversation was good with my new travel buddies. I had a dish that was basically beef tips in a garbanzo bean soup - very good, more filling than I thought it would be, and might've been part of my problem going to last night. I was up 'til 2am before my 6am wake-up call - I think I'm putting in for a siesta some time this afternoon. I also watched Love Me If You Dare after listening to the USC game - might have also contributed to my lack of sleep. It was very European, almost surreal in portraying a relationship where both people lived through a game of dares, getting progressively more dangerous and outrageous and hurtful throughout the film. I think we see "real life" alot like that, taking progressively bigger and more outrageous steps to show we've mastered some step in life, some great thing that shows the world how good or successful we are, not caring so much who we hurt as long as the perceived end justifies the "righteous" means. Maybe I'm too harsh, trying to pull something "spiritual" out of that one - maybe not.
    What Christ Asks - Soren Kierkegaard

    If you have any knowledge at all of human nature, you know that those who only admire the truth will, when danger appears, become traitors. The admirer is infatuated with the false security of greatness; but if there is any inconvenience or trouble, he pulls back. Admiring the truth, instead of following it, is just as dubious a fire as the fire of erotic love, which at the turn of the hand can be changed into exactly the opposite, to hate, jealousy, and revenge. Christ, however, never asked for admirers, worshippers, or adherents. He consistently spoke of "followers" and "disciples."

    [Source: Daily Dig 03/13/2005, "Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter"
    It amazes me how mugh we look up to the heroic acts of the saints, and how the simple day-to-day living and existing and following hard after God goes unnoticed. We feel bad because we're not doing some huge thing for the Lord, and I agree: it hardens our hearts to the life He wants to just live out through us in the tedium of each day. There's nothing fancy or overwhelming about my trip to San Juan - except for the work for which we're here - but I still want to feel that the conversations and meals together with co-workers will be fruitful.
    However Hidden - Annemarie Wächter

    What I am looking for is a life lived in the spirit of the kingdom of God. And that kingdom is not a vague, faraway ideal; it must be lived and fulfilled now, today... There will never be social ustice as long as we merely give up a small part of our possessions and keep the greater share for ourselves. Doesn’t every person have the right to such a life? Is there not in every one a longing for light, for God, however hidden?

    Obviously it will demand a struggle against one’s selfish human nature; against the comforts of self-satisfied tranquility. Such a life requires the readiness for sacrifice, privation, and even martyrdom. Christ died on a cross, and his death did not relieve us of the necessity of going the same way. It was an example for us to follow.

    I am so tired of today's sweetly gushing Christianity; of false enthusiasm and empty phrases! But I am also thankful to have found a knowledge of the burden and bitterness of Christ’s way. It is a way of conviction and
    faith and therefore of action, and that is what makes all the difference.

    Source: Daily Dig, 03/14/2005, Letters and Diaries of A. W. A.

    Postseason Continues

    The Gamecocks tried to give it away, but instead won the game last night 69-67 over Miami/FL. We were trying to listen from the internet connected in the hotel - but my connection got fried for an hour or so and I only got re-established with about a minute to go. It was close, but hopefully it'll be a wake-up to the team to play hard each night and good things can happen.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2005

    Sweat & Tears

    Here in San Juan, it's mostly just hot. I know it's not that hot - only 79F, and it'll be much hotter this summer in South Carolina than it is here right now. But the humidity is rough, and the sunshine is soaking the water and excess salt from my body. My pores will be minty fresh by the time I fly out Thursday afternoon, I'm sure.

    I was re-reading the last couple of chapters of McLaren's The Last Word, And The Word After That on the flight down yesterday (we'll be doing a readthrough of the book starting April 1st on the NKOC Email List). Wow - there's so much depth in the characters and in their journeys, so much parallel with me and others I've listened to over the past few years. A character that appears on the fringe early on comes back into the picture at the end, going through his own inner turmoil, his own struggles. If you haven't been through a time of losing your faith and hoping what you gain will be worth the grieving and the loss, you won't follow as close to that plotline. But it worked for me, hitting a little too close to home maybe.

    I might post some this week on what's eating me from this book and from the other things happening in life - what inner struggles I'm wading through right now. But this book reaffirms for me the need for conversation, non-threatening, encouraging and challenging. And I'm grateful for friends with whom to have these discussions. I know it's been hard on my wife, who's stuck by me through her own doubts; and I know it's been hard on friends we've loved and enjoyed life with for so long. I know it's hard to understand, because I've lived through the fight longer than they have and I know how painful it's been.

    But there's such freedom, such liberation, such grace in what I'm seeing today. There's no going back - I can't unlearned what I've learned, and I can't re-learned what cost so much to lie down before.

    "If you could see what I hear..."

    Monday, March 14, 2005


    Bob left a very thoughtful, thought-provoking comment & question to a post from yesterday:

    Glad to hear you were able to share with a group this week. I trust all were blessed by the time spent in the Word.

    I have a question about your statement of your feeling like you're "contributing". To what (or whom?) do you feel you contribute and how is it that you feel the last 9 months have not "contributed"?
    I really haven't been a part of "formal ministry" in any capacity since last summer. My life went through an upheaval period, and I made decisions that have affected many folks since. But we've settled into the Seacoast/Irmo church body, and we're connecting on a new, more "formal" level. This Sunday morning study is one part of a long process that's been uphill, slow, painful at times.

    On an informal level, I know that I've "contributed" in other ways: through this blog, through email, through conversations with old and with new friends. Perhaps those are bigger contributions in the long run; I don't know. And to what do I feel I can contribute? I feel that I add in small ways to the ongoing conversation, in community together somehow, that stretches us and tests us and reveals God in our midst. I don't know if that sounds prideful, or if there's a false humility in my word choice. I'm just a voice, and others have more to say and better ways to say it. But I like to think I get into the discussion honestly - not looking to market the hype of faddish change in the church, but really trying to get after the heart of God together.

    How's that?

    Leavin' On A Jet Plane

    I'm blogging from CAE - the Columbia Metropolitan Airport - waiting for a 9:15am flight through Charlotte, NC to SJU. It was a bit rough leaving this morning. My little girl - all girly girl for sure - is very sad that I'm leaving. It's hard to tell a 7-yr-old that it'll make coming back that much better, that Daddy has to do this for his job, that there are so many other children across the country who say goodbye like this every week to their fathers, that some dads go away for even longer than my plans this week. It's hard to convey that I will miss her, too - that I don't want to go and would move heaven and earth to stay.

    Of course, my son is like, "so I'll be the man of the house, right?" Right, son. Pay the bills while I'm gone, boy, and make sure your mom's got coffee each morning.

    Sunday, March 13, 2005


    Well, the Gamecocks didn't make the Big Dance - the NCAA Tournament - but we did get an invitation to the NIT. Looks like we're going to be hosting Miami-FL this Tuesday 03/15. Hopefully I'll be able to listen on on the 'net while out of the country.

    Seven + One

    It's amazing how far a discussion can go when there's more than one person in the room. Seven other brave souls joined me in Theater 14 for the first real Q & A Session - we looked at Luke 15, reading through the stories and questions of "lost things" and looking at the context of Jesus "welcoming sinners and even eating with them." I feel like I've been in Luke 15 for a month, getting ready to speak and then finally sharing in a small group a couple of times like this. It's a good feeling, at a time when I feel like I need more confidence, more umph in doing what needs to be done. I feel like I'm "contributing", something I haven't been doing much of since last summer.

    Saturday, March 12, 2005

    Life & Death

    I was surfing through some of my sidebar links this evening and found out that Dr. Stanley Grenz had passed away. If you're coming through here on a journey through postmodern/emergent church stuff, you may have heard of him. I've never seen him speak, but I do have one book that was a little deeper than I'd hoped when I bought it: A Primer on Postmodernism does a good job of digging into the philosophy and ramifications of postmodern thought. I've seen him referenced in the writings of others more than any firsthand experience though.

    I have a sense of loss, and I know that the people who knew him and appreciated him firsthand will feel that even more. I pray for his family and his friends; it looks like is was a sudden aneurism that took his life. Death stinks.

    Book Meme

    [got this from Jon]

    1. Grab the nearest book.
    2. Open the book to page 123.
    3. Find the fifth sentence.
    4. Post the text of the fifth, sixth and seventh sentences on your blog, along with these instructions.
    5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it. Just grab what is closest!
    What in the world does that mean? The "pretty good person" (who thinks this statement is in the Bible) believes it means that God smiles on those who try hardest or at least do a little bit "better" than others. He or she might say something like this: "Compared to other people, I'm a pretty good person." - pp. 123-124, Experiencing The Power Of The Cross, Gary Kinnaman

    Saturday Morning

    It's not even eight o'clock in the morning yet, and already I feel like I could skip today and go straight to bed. I'm feeling the stress of my upcoming business trip to San Juan, PR; I'm feeling the nervous energy of leading the small group discussion tomorrow morning at church; and I'm just feeling achy in spots all over bodily. Don't get me wrong - it's going to be a good day and I'm looking forward to spending time with the kids while my wife finds a quiet place to work on her national certification stuff. It's just that I feel a little like pulled chicken right now - tender and well-cooked and falling off my bones and dripping a bit from being overly greasy. Eeeww.

    We're going to go see Robots today - hmmmm, and I just found out that it's being shown at IMAX in Charleston. Hmmmm - naah, not today, but maybe this summer that would be a really cool treat.

    Blogger's been having some problems this week - server issues, database issues, comment issues. I might do some crossposting to another free blog site or two, see what's out there to accompilsh my same purposes here. I hate jumping to another site - been here too long, loyalty and laziness being what they are. But if there's something better that might take some of the headache away.... eeeh, we'll see.

    UPDATE: Not going to change blogsites - too loyal, too lazy, and too much of a headache learning new tools and changing links everywhere.

    Friday, March 11, 2005


    Photo Friday: Faces

    My wife & kids made this for me on Father's Day 1999 - the clock face is filled with faces. How appropriate.

    Thursday, March 10, 2005

    Extremely Extreme

    My brother will have a new favorite extreme sport by next winter.

    "Looking For The One"

    I had this question/response in the previous post:
    1. Describe a time in your life when you were relieved God didn't give you something you asked Him for, and why.
    I had a nice post-relationship friendship with an ex-girlfriend. She was even in our wedding, good friends with Vicki. But no, God answered correctly with the lovely hubba-hubba I am espoused to now, thankyouverymuch.
    ... and it invoked this comment:
    I just randomly landed on your blog and I want to ask you about the first question. How God answered to you? How you make certain that it was God's answer? I see you are very happy with your wife, so obviously it doesn't matter, whether it was God or not. But... just that I want to have this wisdom and courage too... I mean all the young people are looking for the one. The one, who is in God's will. - Andreas from Estonia
    Wow, that's a huge question, with huge answers and more deep questions to follow. So I pulled it out to "comment" here, Andreas - let me know if you've surfed back through, and how this fits with what you're asking.

    When Donna asked the question, the first thing that popped into my mind is that life as I'd planned it coming out of high school wasn't as it turned out when I was living it coming out of college four years later. I think we see what's going on around us, we pray for God's blessing and for His guidance in a general sense, and then we probably pray specifically, "Lead me here, Lord - prepare the way for me there." Or we say, "Thank You for leading me here, for putting these people in my life", and live it out on a certain trajectory together.

    But when it didn't work out, when that dating relationship fizzled and time passed before meeting the eventual love-of-my-life, I had to decide that I loved God more than that or any other relationship. I needed to love and be loved by Christ. He needed to fill in the empty spots - looking for someone to do that would be unfair to them and unfulfilling to me in the long run. I've found that I am like everyone else - looking for meaningful relationship, for engaging interaction with just a few people who are on the same page going the same way. It's a journey together, and we usually seek to fill that space with clubs or youth groups or dating stuff or other people before seeking to be filled in Christ alone.

    The only way we "know" that we're hearing from God, that He's hearing our prayers, that He's paying attention, is that we are listening to Him and paying attention to Him in prayer and in the Bible. We have to interact with God, not just pray and expect Him to act on our behalf, but really pursue Him no matter what. He is the only one who can complete us, can make us feel whole like that - and then He can lead someone else into our lives, or not, as He pleases and as we follow hard after Him.

    How's that?

    Interview, Take Two

    Done this once before, now with a few questions from Donna:

    1. Describe a time in your life when you were relieved God didn't give you something you asked Him for, and why.
    I had a nice post-relationship friendship with an ex-girlfriend. She was even in our wedding, good friends with Vicki. But no, God answered correctly with the lovely hubba-hubba I am espoused to now, thankyouverymuch.

    2. Have you and Vicki always been on pretty much the same level spiritually? If not, how have you helped each other grow through the years?
    She would say I'm ahead of her spiritually, and I'd reply that I think deeply about deep stuff that no one else thinks is that deep anyway, and that doesn't make me any more spiritual than anyone else. "Same level" is a goal, I think - but in many ways, I'm playing catch up.

    3. My daughter was a big daddy's girl up until a year ago. She's 12 now and doesn't feel close to her dad at all. How do you think you will handle it if Cammi pulls away from you at that age?
    Here's the thing: I don't want to think like that. I mean, I don't want to be too naive, and I know that being a teenager will do strange things to her and to Trace and to me, too. She can "pull away", as long as I don't give her the reasons for it, as long as she knows I've never left, and as long as she knows I am always right there. And on some level, aren't we preparing our kids to "pull away" anyway? Giving her the tools to make decisions that are right and honoring is part of the process, too, methinks.

    4. You obviously love to teach and minister to people. Have you ever had a desire, or felt God calling you to go to seminary and become a pastor? Would you be afraid to make the sacrifices to do that?
    Don't tell anyone, but (1) you don't have to go to seminary to be a pastor, and (2) I am ordained and used to be on staff in a bi-voc associate pastor role. Shhh :). I've never really felt "called" to seminary, and the "sacrifices" wouldn't be sacrifices if that's what God would want of me. I think I'd be too much for most professors - and most senior pastors - to handle.

    5. You seem to stay up-to-date with pop culture. What aspect of our culture is it alarming for you to see Christians embracing, and why?
    Marketing & capitalism. If a book sells, it's immediately the flavor/fad of the month and highlighted in every Christian bookstore in the country. "Alarmed" isn't the right word; "repulsed" might be better. From WWJD to the Prayer of Jabez and through the PDL series - sometimes I wonder if the hype strips the thing of its meaningfulness or not.

    Wednesday, March 09, 2005


    Napoleon Dynamite sound board: "Tina, come get some ham!"

    And my wife, bless her heart, snapped this innocent, naive photo (just not right):


    Merely accepted, suffering does nothing for our souls except, perhaps, to harden them. Endurance alone is no consecration. True asceticism is not a mere cult of fortitude. We can deny ourselves rigorously for the wrong reason and end up by pleasing ourselves mightily with our self-denial... Suffering is valuable only as a test of faith. What if our faith fails the test? Is it good to suffer, then? What if we enter into suffering with a strong faith in suffering, and then discover that suffering destroys us?

    ["The Test of Suffering", Thomas Merton - "Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter", via DailyDig]

    Wiped Out

    Last night was brutal. That's the only adjective that keeps coming to mind. I spoke at the P.67/Revolution gathering; not as big a crowd because of spring break, but still a good group (and "brutal" refers entirely to what was going on inside me, not to the gathering - they were AWESOME, even giving me their "canned laughter" so I didn't feel bad when my jokes bombed!). I was going to share, for the first time really in a large group setting, the path or journey or thought process or whatever I'd gone through to get to where I'm much more comfortable talking about the relational aspects of truth rather than the redundancy of "absolute" truth. Basically, some of the things I was going to share are why I've parted ways with people I've loved and grown up with. I think the contradiction got to me: take up your bibles, and let's talk about "relational truth", something that's blown up too many relationships already.

    Anyway, I don't usually get as nervous or as fidgety as I got last night. And then, about five minutes before I'm supposed to start - wham, John 9. If it worked, it's all Him; if it didn't, it was me screwing up. But I took the bulk of my notes and tossed 'em. We started in Nehemiah 8 according to "plan" (in the context of Israel's return from exile, God's Word was bringing an excitement and emotion that is missing way too much of the time in our own lives and stories). But instead of prooftexting around the place as I'd written down, we went to John 9, the story of a man who was blind from birth until the Messiah spit on the ground and made mud to rub in his eyes, healing him and giving him sight. I think I hit the same points, only I used this story instead of jumping around and proving logically and illogically why I was right and so many others are misguided - which is where I would've gone, and where I would've shoved my foot in there somewhere and been wrong. I've done that before, and I'm sure it would've gone there again if we hadn't changed up. Might've still gone there, but I think the story has an impact that makes it more meaningful than just "my interpretation".

    The whole "relational" aspect of truth is still very new and meaningful to me, and I think "it preached" okay last night. But wow, I was floored and flumoxed, changing it all up like that and going with the flow of the moment. I finished and had to leave before worship/benediction time was over (school night, picking up kids from Grandma's), but I hope someone listened and that it made sense on some level. And if truth is all about "being relational", I hope my relationships follow suit and find some real healing soon.

    Tuesday, March 08, 2005


    My wife does stuff like this for a living.

    click the photo...

    Monday, March 07, 2005

    Travelling Mercies

    This blogsite started with a business trip, and I'll be flying down there again next week. I like San Juan ok - get used to the driving and the humidity and it's a great place to be for winter. I'll probably even take my swimsuit this time, maybe get in some time in the pool or on the beach one evening. I'm also not travelling alone this time, so it'll be a little nicer tagging along with co-workers. This week I'll be picking up the usual: travel toiletries, fresh tshirts & socks, maybe a new DVD or something.

    My brother will "fill in" for me at P:67 Tuesday 03/15 since I'm going to be out of town - he gets to cowboy up and teach the college students a thing or two. I'll work through a discussion of the Bible and Truth tomorrow night, and leave Relationships and Conversations for him next week.

    After the disappointment of yesterday morning, I've got to say that I'm pretty even-keeled about stuff today. The rest of the morning service was really good: a dramatic presentation of the "Afterlife", when we'll stand before the Lord and give an account. Very stirring, very well done. After that, the Newcomers class went well, too, I thought. I met some new folks, got to talk a minute or two on Small Groups, and then got major props from Pastor Jeff. I'm floored that he seems to see more in me than I see in myself - a mentoring friendship that I've never really had before, and it's neat to watch it grow and be encouraged like this. So I'm actually looking forward to "starting again" with the Q & A sessions - and if you're in Columbia, SC, and you don't attend next week 03/13 at 9am, I'll hold you responsible for my whininess next week- ok?!?

    Sunday, March 06, 2005

    Philippians 2:3, John 15:13 - Clinton sleeps on floor so elder Bush can have bed - Mar 6, 2005: "Bush, 80, said Clinton offered ahead of time to give the older former president the bedroom so he could lie flat and avoid paining his body. Clinton, 58, decided to play cards in the other room that night.

    The next morning, Bush said he peeked in and saw Clinton sound asleep on the plane's floor.

    'We could have switched places, each getting half a night on the bed, but he deferred to me. That was a very courteous thing, very thoughtful, and that meant a great deal to me,' Bush said."
    Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. - Philippians 2:3

    Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. - John 15:13

    Sabbath, Cupholders, Empty Seats

    UPDATE: Well, it was a nice quiet time in the theater this morning. No one showed up - and it was okay, I think. I left the theater to look around outside, see if folks were wandering in the lobby or something, but each time I went out there everyone was busy with setup work. Such is the life of a church that meets in a facility with 12:30pm movies to kick off - setup and takedown are intense, and it's a tribute that the people there were doing the work necessary to "do church".

    So I enjoyed a quiet theater, a refill of coffee, and some time to start a new book. I could tell that Pastor Jeff was disappointed - but it just means that things need to be rethought, replanned, repromoted to pick up fresh next week with the "first"/second Q & A session. I'm not very confident - but on that note, I'm not falling on my face either. Instead, I'm finding the confidence of others to be very positive, very energizing. So we'll try again - maybe I'll be ready next week.

    Sabbath With Cupholders

    Well, Sunday morning again. If I had any qualms about working within a new church, a new church structure, new church relationships and vision - this would be the say to call it off. My wife told me she'd let me sleep 'til noon - she'd wake me up after she and the kids came back from visiting a completely different church because we'd be so off the board from Seacoast.

    But this is it, and I'm looking forward to it. Well, I'm looking forward to the coffee I'm brewing right now, to getting dressed and walking out the door (in that order), to driving and listening to U2 tell me about Vertigo and how to dismantle a bomb. And then I'm looking forward to getting to the theater, to setting up a stool and a music stand, to setting out my notes, to talking a bit about the Context of Luke 15 to the four people who couldn't sleep this morning and decide to join in on the fun. I look forward to being intentional about this, to doing my best and making mistakes and taking risks and all that a step like this is bound to entail.

    Q & A Session, Theater 14 at 9am this morning. See you there.

    Saturday, March 05, 2005

    Spring Training & Whining - MLB - Sosa ejected in Orioles' loss to Nationals - Saturday March 5, 2005 7:16PM: "When Sosa realized the decision would not be overturned, he dropped his glove at Bucknor's feet and walked off the field."


    Sitting here on a Saturday morning, drinking coffee, pondering life, the universe and everything, thinking about the next technologicla marvel to which I'll need to succumb. There are certain milestones in the life of a geek. For me, while I don't remember the dates - these events have been important in my evolution as a man of deep deep thought and geekdom. Over the last three years or so, these are the major milestones I can point to in the life of our home computer:
  • add faster internal modem card (14.4 was so slow, wasn't it?)
  • add more RAM as prices drop
  • upgrade operating system from Win98 to XP
  • add internal DVD drive
  • cable modem (why does anyone wait?!?)
  • add external CD burner
  • add USB hub for burner, optical mouse

    And now:
  • wireless networking for the laptop

    I can blog without wires, without waiting for dial-up access, from the master suite upstairs. No more falling asleep in front of the PC (well, not much more). No more bad back from sitting at the kitchen table all day to work from home. No more dial-up access - did I mention that before? No more being attached to phone wires in one of three places in the house.

    Technology marches on.

  • Friday, March 04, 2005


    Conversations like this are why I'm glad to be taking part in the Q & A sessions starting this week at Seacoast. I don't have all the answers - I barely have any - but I like to come up with better questions and hammer those out together:
    rickramble: i dont understand how forgiving he can be (getting back with wife, she's cheated on him) when i get ticked at the guy cutting me off in traffic
    rickramble: maybe he loves her

    friend: well, its a self-respect thing as well as a forgiveness thing. she will do it again. people's character rarely changes unless God gets a hold of them....even then, its always an up hill battle for some

    rickramble: thank gracious God does the same thing in pursuit of me

    friend: forgive, yes, but you have to make a wise decision about what is best for you....
    friend: it is not wise in Proverbs it says that a man that repeats his folly is like a dog that returns to his vomit.
    friend: gross.

    rickramble: "forgive" needs to be about letting go of what's come in the way of the relationship, and not letting that indiscretion cloud the way i look at the person who's hurt me - i can be smart, and might learn where not to trust someone, but i can't hold onto it and tense up everytime someone enters the room - "forgiving is easy - continuing to forgive every time that comes to mind is the hard part" - and i think God looks past the problems to see us and love on us

    friend: but forgiving does not always restore a relationship and repair the damage. remember that. I really need to go - got stuff to do! Thanks for the stuff to think about.

    rickramble: if forgiveness doesnt do something to bring restoration and reconciliation, i don't think it's forgiveness anymore... there's too much at stake relationally. not to have to go back to "the way things were", but to move on we've got to do more than "agreeably disagree"
    rickramble: take care, buddy - hollah anytime - and thanks for that chat, too


    Photo Friday: Obsession

    Who doesn't "obsess" once or twice about blogging?

    Actually, I don't like the word/challenge for the week. There's a negative connotation to it that I wish wasn't there. But, it probably fits this and the other entries posted. I know I've made blogging a priority over things that were way more important, but I've-got-to-post-this-dang-it. We go through periods of ove-infatuation with ourselves and our writing... or we have an abnormal relationship with the keyboard. I'm not sure which.

    Thursday, March 03, 2005


    When a baby is born, she is wrapped tightly. After being confined in such a small space like a womb, even while growing and growing and getting bigger and bigger, there is an adjustment to be made. The confinement in the womb turns into the wide, open spaces of the outside world, and the tight wrapping of swaddling clothes gives some comfort and peace to the newborn baby.

    When the baby is unwrapped, it feels like the whole world is out there, like you're freefalling because there's no longer any confinement, no longer the mother's heartbeat in your ear. No longer the cramps and feeling your knees in your chin, but also no security and no safety because the rest of the world is so much larger than that itty bitty living space.

    I'm the unwrapped baby right now. The possiblities are gi-normous, and the feeling of weightlessness and falling are one & the same. Maybe that's real freedom.


    Last night was First Wednesday for Seacoast/Irmo - gathering at Saluda Shoals for a time of food and worship and vision-casting. Pastor Jeff set a very open and challenging tone for Small Groups first. I hope the emphasis is captured and grabbed onto, you know? I had a couple of guys come to me during the evening to share that they'd be interested in leading groups, being a part of the church. I really appreciate open hearts like that! Then he set the stage for two services: we've outgrown our room, and the dynamic would be gone if we went just about any other direction to fix the situation. It'll be a 60-day experiment, based on the feedback last night and other logistics. I think it'll be a good thing, having a 9am service and a 10:30am service (which one are you coming to?!?) to give folks a chance to serve with children or youth or some other ministry and still be able to attend a service, too.
    SHAMELESS PLUG: If you're in the Columbia/Irmo area, and you have nothing better to do Sunday mornings at 9am - join us at Seacoast/Irmo in the Columbia Grande Theaters on Bower Pkwy, off Harbison Blvd in Irmo. The Q & A sessions will be kicking off Sunday March 6th @ 9am in Theater 14, and meet every Sunday from here to whenever. And let me know you're coming - I'll save coffee and donuts for you, and you'll get to relax in the best church seats you've ever experienced (cupholders, for crying out loud!).
    I honestly don't think there will be a conflict of interest between the new 9am Q & A stuff and the upcoming 9am service. My thinking right now is that folks will go where they want or where they feel needed. People who have been waiting for a way to plug into a small group will gravitate one way, and folks who've been sorta kinda thinking about serving will gravitate the other way. I haven't seen the numbers, but I hope there's a sizeable portion of Seacoasters who'll take up the challenge, get to church earlier, and go to service and then work with kids, or work with kids and then go to service. It's an experiment, a risk worth taking, to be able to better meet the needs of the community and the 400+ folks coming to the theater every week.

    Wednesday, March 02, 2005

    Really Cool

  • The State | 03/02/2005 | Church never gave up or forgot
    God is really, really good.

  • Context: Just Relieved

    Well, that was fun.

    I spoke last night at P:67, the college/singles ministry at Trinity Baptist in Cayce, SC. This group is going through a time of transition, something I understand pretty well on a personal level, and something I've gone through various times on the church community level as well. I offered to help out, speak a few Tuesday evenings if they'd have me, and they invited me to be there - last night and the next two Tuesdays (or at least I spoke last night, and they haven't called to cancel the next 2 engagements yet).

    I thought it went well. I'm not the best judge of my own stuff, but others said that it was good - "Flattery will get you nowhere - but don't stop trying". We talked about CONTEXT CONTEXT CONTEXT, specifically in Luke 15 to see how Jesus interacted with people, how he used questions to pull them into a defining moment like the story of the Prodigal Son. I don't know that we pulled out anything revolutionary about the stories of "lost things" - but I think we started pondering the concept of CONTEXT in relating to each other, to how we listen and learn, to how God relates to us. Next week we'll dig into another passage and look at Truth & the Bible, and end up the third week on Relationships & Conversations. It's all wrapped up together on so many different levels - I just want to bring some of the loose ends, learn together what's meaningful and what's life-changing.

    I joked around that I was going to teach heresy, but the fun part would be that no one would get it until they got home. Wonder if anyone picked up on it? I did lay the foundation for something radical and possibly heretical: relativism. If we spend too much time on CONTEXT, don't we stand the risk of applying truth relative to our circumstances and experiences? I also mentioned that I would be bringing up "absolute truth" next week, for folks to bring their friends who argued that there was no such thing: "I'll agree with them next week, and then we'll turn it back around somehow."

    Anyway, I thought it was fun, not nearly as bad as it could've been. I was nervous, under-confident and all - but hopefully that opened the door for it to be real.


    Wednesday Weird Ones:

    1. A man killed a woman using a slab of creme cheese. How did it happen?
    He cut the cheese. Disaster ensued.

    2. Without using examples define the word romance. Now do the same thing for the phrase 'Custody Battle'
    "Romance" is love lived out between two people. "Custody Battle" is love broken, charged, sued, and chewed up between two people.

    3. If you were a superhero and had an arch-nemesis, who would be your arch-nemesis, what would they wear, and what would their power(s) be?
    FlashyPants. Wearing a spandex mockturtleneck with rhinestone studded bellbottoms. Special power: Pants make his butt look small. I hate him for this.

    4. What's a bamzu? Now make up a more believable definition which is still equally wrong.
    A bamzu is a middle eastern dish made of dates and monkey flesh. No, not really - "bamzu" is the name of the one-finger gesture made to people who cut you off on Elmwood in downtown Columbia, SC.

    5. Why do we use a bar of soap from the outside in rather than from the inside out?
    Lack of creativity.

    Tuesday, March 01, 2005

    Fo Shizzle?

    Click here - laugh laugh laugh.
    [linked via Stacey - thanks!]

    TTTYNKAM #10 - Reading

    There are various lists and things being posted to blogs about getting to know the author. I think I'm going to jump into the fray - but instead of a lengthy one post list, it'll have to be a rambling ten entry series on "top ten things you never knew about me" (tttynkam).

    Starting at number ten - I like to read books that will stretch me, will challenge me, that have the risk of possibly ticking me off. I spent alot of time the past fifteen years or so reading non-fiction, mostly Christian-based books that would build my faith or stretch my out a bit. But I've re-discovered good fiction of the last year or so, too - I mean GOOD fiction, not the stuff that normally passes for Christian fiction these days. Many books I read might not have a place on a shelf at the local Christian bookstore, but I sense spiritual themes and such in most of what I read anyway.

    Right now, I'm trying to finish a book on leadership before diving into something completely different. Normally I'm in four or five different books at a time, but I've tried to streamline here at the beginning of the year. It's way too busy and I'm starting to get involved in activities again - and I'd like to finish most of the books I start, so that means a little more discipline thanks very much.

    Favorite Authors: Brian McLaren, Len Sweet, Douglas Coupland, Erwin McManus, Harper Lee, John Grisham (early stuff)


    [originally posted 07/2003, former blog]

    Are we too mature?

    I don't ask this question loosely, and I'm not asking it sarcastically. I know that if we were to discuss this matter, most of us would argue that we all still have much to learn, that we're growing, that we are mere babes when it comes to knowing anything about Christ or the Kingdom. So I don't think I'm talking about the mental/philosophical question: "do we already know everything?"

    Instead, I'm asking how our level of maturity actually plays out in our day-to-day lives. While mentally we might understand there's much to learn, we as Christians live each day as if we already have all the answers. I can spin it religiously with "Jesus is the Answer," and since I know Jesus I have all of my answers and *your* answers, too - making it sound like I've got a lock on the ultimate theory of life, the universe and everything (isn't it still "42"?). Usually, in this frame of mind/understanding, we are unteachable and unable to grasp conflicting information. Anything that goes completely against the grain is rejected outright; the only "new stuff" that passes is what looks vaguely familiar already, or has a different spin on something we already understand.

    Case in point: most people know the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15). They've heard a few sermons on the passage. There might be notes in the margins of their bibles, telling of the younger son's "coming to his senses" and the father's open arms as he runs home to be a worker in the household. There are notes about the older brother, how he represents the pharisaical outlook of the religious leaders, and how his bitterness probably means he's just jealous that the younger brother got to have fun first. Most people already have all of this figured out, right? Or at least, they've got the major principles down because they've heard most of this before.

    Now, teach something new, something that's blatant in the story, that fits into the context of the three parables (all of Luke 15), but that no one has ever heard of or thought of before. As the Spirit leads, bring out this new truth - like how the prodigal son was just lavishly reflecting a portion of the lavish character of his prodigal father, or how the older brother is a son who's enslaved in his mind while the younger brother comes as a slave and is welcomed back as a son, or maybe how the presence of a fattened calf meant that the father fully expected to have something worth celebrating soon, etc etc etc - and watch everyone suddenly get more mature. We'll listen; We'll take notes. We'll nod and shout "amen", and we'll shake our heads and say "ouch". And when it's all over, we'll be more mature for having heard and understood - while not having to apply any of it to our actual lives. We've listened, but we haven't allowed ourselves to be taught, to be changed, to be challenged, to be transformed.

    In most cases, the subconscious thought that "we're getting it"... actually becomes a hindrance and obstacle to getting it for real in our lives. Our "maturity" reveals our lack of maturity, and our lives go on day after day, week after week unchanged and ineffective.

    Just me rambling..........