Friday, December 29, 2006

Year in Review

Some of my favorite issues oriented posts from the last year (in reverse chronological order)...

2006 was also the year Connor was born and Kinsey started kindergarten. Here are some of those posts (in proper chronological order)...
So there you have it. My blog year in review. I hope yours has been good as well and that next year can be a continuation of the pursuit of Christlikeness.


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Pictures from Christmas

As promised, here are some pictures from the Christmas weekend.

Kinsey waiting patiently for present opening to begin.

Kinsey receiving a very large puzzle present.

Kinsey with Emily, the American Girl doll she got for Christmas from Gee and Dad (my mom and dad).

I guess Connor and I do look a little bit alike.

This is Christmas morning. And this is the slowest that Kinsey was on that morning.

Santa came through for her.

Sheryl's mom, and sister-in-law Sarah with the family.

Sarah and Connor together.

Sheryl's brother, Paul with a tagalong.

It was a great holiday and we were very glad to see everyone and to spend some great time with all of them. That's the best thing about the holidays and remembering that makes it such. Hope you had a great one too.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Twas the Day after Christmas

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and I plan on posting pictures later this week of the good times we had with family. It's been good to see family and friends and to spend time with them.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Santa Claus is not God

Several years ago, the Nashville Scene conducted an interview about Christmas with several then-local members of the clergy. It was a very interesting piece that gave some really cool insights into many different facets of Christianity, as well as how some Jews view the holidays as well.

One the quotes by Randall Falk, a Jewish Rabbi, was this
I have to tell you that, as a Jew, I've always been thankful that we didn't have to deal with Santa Claus, primarily because the day has to come when you tell the child there really isn't a Santa Claus that we've built up as this benevolent giver. And then the child, I think, begins to wonder, "Well, if there isn't any Santa Claus, maybe there isn't a God." This whole business of rectifying the mythology that we've created can be a very hard problem.
This has been a quote that has stuck with me for nine years, obviously. And it's something that I've really wondered about. I don't remember when I stopped believing in Santa Claus. I think it was about the time that I figured that unless he could stop time, there was no way Santa could be in every boy and girl's house at exactly midnight. So, I could buy the fat man coming down the chimney after flying from the North Pole with eight reindeer, but not his ability to stop time. Even with that, it's something that obviously didn't affect my belief in God, but I do wonder if the close association of the birth of Jesus and Santa Claus could lead some people to doubt God.

It strikes me that Santa is the first tangible experience of faith that most kids have. They are told that if they are good, then they will receive a reward of that (kind of a conditional love that the article discusses as well). And lo and behold on Christmas morning, they do receive those gifts and so their faith in Santa is encouraged and cultivated until they hear at school about parents putting the toys together or the child that didn't get much of anything, if anything for Christmas.

Now, I love that Kinsey believes in Santa. I love that she truly believes that he is coming down our gas fireplace on Christmas Eve and putting together her toys. However, I really want her to know that Christmas is more than that, and more particularly that Santa Claus is NOT God. God doesn't answer prayers the way Santa fulfills the Christmas list. God is not a jolly fat man that's just waiting to give us every present we want, the Sky Fairy as Donald Miller has called this ideology. And God does not love us conditionally, only being good to us when we are good. And Christmas has to be about more than receiving, more than a Materialism Day. Otherwise, it would be a heck of a lot more profitable to believe in Santa and not God.

I wrote last year about the birth of Christ, about how he was born into scandal and blood and poverty. As we are about to celebrate his birth again and to lavish love on the people around us, I hope we can remember our place in this, as the enactors of his mercies on those around us.

The gift of the love of Christ has been given. I hope we can also give it to others.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

It's a YouTube Miracle!

Last Christmas, you may have gotten forwarded a video of a guy, Carson Williams, who had put lights on his house and synced them up with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra song, Wizards of Winter. Here it is.

Well, apparently, Mr. Williams' neighborhood didn't like all the cars sitting in front of their houses and clogging up the streets so he had to shut it down. But this year, he's moved it to a part and gone from 25,000 lights to 80,000 lights. Here are two videos from it, one is a repeat and better video of the one above, the other is a new one, both songs are by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and both videos are much better quality than the one above.

Wizards of Winter

Christmas Eve/Sarejevo 12-24

Both are really cool to watch, although it loses a little of its coolness factor now that it's not on a house.

One final Christmas video. One of my favorite things about YouTube is being able to find old music videos from the 80's and 90's. I'll be sharing some more of those in the future, but for now, here are David Bowie and Bing Crosby singing Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth.

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Merry Materialism Day!

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the Nashville Cohort where we heard Chris Seay speak. I'm not very familiar with his work, but I know he's written some and is a part of the Voice project.

He talked a lot about Christmas and some of his thoughts on it. One of his biggest bones of contention was how materialism and consumerism has become almost inextricably intertwined with the celebration of Jesus' birth. In fact, one of the things that he and his church had thought about was picketing stores that said "Merry Christmas" to people because they found the materialism to be profaning the name of a man who was born in a very poor situation and lived his life as a homeless man.

I found this an interesting idea, because this is something Sheryl and I really struggle with, especially as Kinsey is grasping the idea of Christmas and most particularly the gifts that she gets. So we're trying a couple of things this year.

1) Not as many gifts. Part of feeding the consumerism model is buying (no pun intended) into it.
So, unlike previous years, we're not getting as much stuff.

2) Differences in gifts. We've asked for not so many toys. Kinsey has a ton of toys. A closet full in the basement. A room with a bunch. Toys scattered in various other places. So this year we've asked for clothes and books for her. This is not to say that she's not getting any toys, but after previous experience, what's really the point of buying her a bunch of stuff that she might play with for a week?

3) Thinking of others. For the first time, Kinsey is using her own chore money to buy gifts for people. She and I got something for Sheryl and Connor. I think that's a good experience for her. Something else Chris Seay mentioned was this idea. He said that he asks his kids about other people's birthdays. For instance, if you went to someone else's birthday party and you got all the presents, wouldn't that be weird? He then follows up by asking whose birthday we celebrate at Christmas with the answer being Jesus, of course. He then asks if it's weird for us to get all the presents on Jesus' birthday and him to not get any. The next point is how we give presents to Jesus and it follows the Matthew 25 logic of if we give to "the least of these," then we're giving to Jesus. So we're going to try some of that too with Kinsey. Not sure exactly how yet, but that's something we're trying to work into her thought process.

To me, one of the biggest stumbling blocks to following Jesus is materialism and the drive for more stuff. I hope that's something we can help Kinsey and Connor try to avoid in their pursuit of being his disciples.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas Cards

Christmas cards have come a long way. With the advent of picture cards, it's no longer necessary to find the little foldable cards and put them into an envelope. You can just stick the card in and a Christmas letter. And now, with digital photography, you can upload the picture(s) you want at 11PM Saturday and literally pick them up at noon on Sunday. It's a wonderful world.

I've always had a thought about Christmas cards. My least favorite ones are the ones of kids only.

Now, understand what I'm not saying. I'm not saying that I don't like kids or that I don't like pictures of kids. But these pictures stay up on our refrigerator all year, and honestly six months from now I'm not going to remember that this one cute face belongs to this family or that these three belong to this one.

As a result in our household, I've issued a moratorium on kids-only picture cards. And then, our kids took the cutest picture ever with Santa. Kinsey had a great smile. Connor was asleep in his arms. It was just beautiful and I was afraid I was going to have to break my rule. Then my intrepid wife found a great option: Double picture cards.

So here is the Christmas card that went out yesterday. Enjoy.

Addendum: I feel I need to clarify what I might have stated without the proper amount of tact and explanation above. I'll use the excuse that it was late....

For me, pictures are about context. Saying that I want families doesn't mean I don't like the pictures of kids only and I want to be off of people's card lists. 1) Sheryl would hate that. 2) I like seeing the kids. My preference is simply to see the entire family.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Weekend

This was a very long week and very long weekend. A lot of work at my job that went really well and being at church until late every evening except Tuesday.

The show went very well and was extremely, extremely funny. It was the same show as two years ago, but there were several new moments that made it even funnier. And of course, Brandon and Laura just completely stole the show. Brandon with his making eyes at Laura and Laura with her "sign language." I'd try to explain it, but in the truest sense of the phrase, word cannot do it justice.

I'm honestly glad the week is over and that I'm able to relax a bit and get some things taken care of and get ready for Christmas.

One last thing re: the post on Friday. I really didn't realize how many people had such strong feelings about HOV lanes. I was honestly very surprised at the comments there.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Watching the HOV Lane

One of the times that I get the angriest is when I have to leave directly from work to go to church. I drive down I-65 toward Brentwood, and on the way, there is a High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane where you are supposed to have more than one person in the vehicle. What makes me angry is watching cars that only one person take advantage of a lane they aren't supposed to.

What makes me incredibly satisfied is seeing them pulled over (rarely) by a cop for doing exactly that. Now I was thinking the other day, "Why does that make me so angry?" And as I was thinking, I realized that what made me so angry was that I wished I could be doing that, but my "morals" (for lack of a better term) prevent me from doing something that I really wish I could do too.

It made me think about how I try to conduct my life as a follower of Jesus and my motivations for doing so. Do I not cheat and lie and steal and do things like that because I want to live as a follower of Jesus, or do I not do those things because that's how a Christian is supposed to act, even though I really want to act like that? And to be honest, a lot of times it's a toss up. In some ways, I feel like this transformation into the likeness of Christ is such a long process that I get impatient, especially when I feel like I've been at it for so long.

What I hope is that someday these desires to do something wrong will pass. That I won't wish I could be in the HOV lane with just one person and that I'll accept that life in Christ is the ultimate fulfillment I could hope for.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Quick late post.

Thomas F. Wilson (Biff from Back to the Future) singing about all the questions he gets about Back to the Future.

Roller Blades + Water in Glass Bottles + Sticks = Really Cool Music

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Blogger Beta

So you might have noticed that my look has switched and all of my links are gone. I moved over to Blogger Beta last week and decided to start taking advantage of some of the new pieces. I wanted to keep the 3 column format that I had previously, but that meant changing my template completely.

So I'm working on getting everything back, but with the shortness of time this week, it might not happen until next week. If you use this blog to hit a bunch of others, sorry for everything leaving. I'll get it back up soon.

btw, for those of you who need some new Heroes stuff to tide you over until January, check out the online comics. They reveal some info about certain characters, like how Eden and Mr. Bennett came together, and also what Hiro's name is short for and how that relates to his need to stop the bomb in New York. Some are better than others and some are a little confusing, like this week's. But they'll be out every week to give you a fix until January.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Christmas Pictures

Well, first this one from after the dance recital last week.

And then Kinsey and Connor with Santa

Kinsey being very clear about her requests.

The family together (taken by Kevin Colvett, one of my blog lurkers from church) I think this one might end up as our card this year.

One I took of Connor underneath the tree.

And one I took of Sheryl and Kinsey looking at the tree. This one turned out really nice.

Have a great day.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Another Busy Week....

I've got a lot of work to do this week, both in my regular job and at church doing sound for The Sanders Family Christmas with Brandon, Laura, and the rest of the crew. As a result, it'll be a light blogging week, or at least shorter posts. Like this one...

Well, except for this. Ray Waddle wrote a response in the Tennessean to some of the issues raised a couple of weeks ago with the Lee Camp stuff. It's an interesting read, as well as the comments to it.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Christian Coalition Flap

I was wanting to write a long post about the story of the president-elect of the Christian Coalition Joel Hunter stepping down because the group resisted his efforts to expand the agenda beyond homosexuality and abortion to include poverty and global warming. I was going to, but political commentator Stephen Colbert said it much much better.

I'm not sure if Colbert is right about the reason that they didn't want to expand, i.e. afraid of being called liberal. If that's true, they really need to get over that. The simple fact of the matter is that we have to recognize that there are issues that transcend right and left. Poverty has to be one of those. Global warming, whether you believe it's a bad as reported, should be a part of that too. Abortion should be as well, but instead of picketing abortion clinics, how about standing at abortion clinics with a sign that says, "I'll adopt your child." These are issues I talked about in a bit more depth in a post called The Political Liberalization of Evangelicalism, a title that attempted to have the most syllables in the fewest amount of words (19 in 5 if you're counting, or even if you're not).

It seems that an ethic of love calls us to address these issues, but without the hatred and divisiveness that has been the tradition in these conversations.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

YouTube fun...

In a slight twist from the usual YouTube fun, here are four videos that are a parody of the Mac vs. PC ads that a church did called "Christ follower vs. Christian." Now, I'll admit that this is a distinction I've been making myself, but there is something about these "ads" that are off-putting to me.

What do you think?

Original HT to YSMarko

Addendum: Ok, now that some people have had their say, here's mine. Overall, I think they're kind of funny, but my biggest issue is the divisiveness that can come about from them. Sure it's easy to make fun of the "Christian square," but there's this inherent hip-ness of the "Christ follower" that doesn't work for me either. I think rather than pointing out the differences between the two, show the areas where they meet.

There was an older man at church that I knew. He and I probably would not have been able to agree on much theologically, but every Sunday, he parked in one of the spots the furthest away from the building. His thinking was that other people like guests should have the closer spots and he could walk a little further. Now, he and I might have disagreed on baptism or some other theological point (I don't know this, since we never talked about it), but what he showed in that simple act of walking a little farther is his love for people. And for me to denigrate him because we disagree is not just unChristlike, it's disrespectful to him.

I don't think that's the overall point of the videos, but I do think it's so easy to get a spiritual superiority complex that we forget what it means to Christlike. That's the danger of the mindset of the videos.

What is interesting, however, is the response of people where I saw this on Thursday... from Digg. Digg, for those of you who don't know, is a social networking site where people submit stories and then can comment on them and have conversations. The general population there is probably 13-35, male, tech oriented or savvy. The reactions of people who aren't Christians were overwhelmingly positive, which I think speaks once again to attitude that people who aren't Christian have towards people who are but don't act like Christ.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Jonesing for January 22...

Look, I could continue to rave about Heroes. Really, I could. I could talk about how the actual resolution of plotlines and characters that you like make it a superior show to some others (or one in particular). I won't.

What I will say is that Monday's episode, Fallout, was a great way to end the fall and get people jonesing for January 22. Seriously, in one episode, we get to see all the heroes in a couple of plotlines. I loved how almost all of them came together in Odessa and we really got to see how they interact. I loved Peter and Matt getting a feedback loop from reading each other's minds. It reminded me of some of my sound running nightmares. I like the continued ambiguity they're giving to Claire's dad. On the one hand, he is a truly loving father to her and wants the best, but on the other, he's a part of some shadowing conspiracy that his daughter is caught up in as well. I think Peter and Claire have some great chemistry together and I can see more interaction for them in the future.

I did feel really sorry for Claire in one aspect and maybe it's why I like her story line so much. For the last few weeks, as she's been dealing with the reality of her power, she's experienced some measure of freedom. You could almost see the weight lifted from her shoulders as she told her dad her secret. Being able to count him with her friend Zach and her brother Lyle as confidants did so much to help her.

And then when she started realizing that those memories had been taken from them, and especially that the really nice friendship she'd built with Zach over the last two weeks was completely gone, my heart just broke for her, because now she was alone in the world again. She was the only one that knew who she was and she couldn't tell him or anything now. It was really well done and the look of shock when the Haitian came into her room and told her that it was her dad that was doing it was also very good. I do wonder how all of that is going to play out and how now her relationship with him is going to change. I've been very impressed by Hayden Panetierre's acting ability in the course of the show so far.

It also reminds me of the emotional resonance that the Charlie/Hiro storyline dealt with. The writers and actors did such a nice job of getting their relationship right and the love that they experienced that when Hiro understood that he couldn't save her, it just broke her heart and I think it hardened him some.

I'm almost completely bored by the Nikki/Jessica/DL/Micah arc. The writers really need to do some thing good with that storyline before it drags the show down.

On the whole though, I've been very very impressed with the show and I'm very much looking forward to next season, especially since we seem to have retired "Save the Cheerleader, Save the World" as a catchphrase (though not a plot line) and moved to "Are you on the List?" Which seems to indicate the search for more heroes.

Wait, I guess I did rave about the show there. I'd apologize, but I'm not really sorry.

Also, if you haven't seen all the episodes, you can see all of them for free here. Well worth the catch up for those of you who haven't seen it and a nice review if you have. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Kinsey's first Dance Recital

Kinsey has been taking dance lessons this fall and Sunday was her first recital and she was the cutest thing ever! She did a great job and danced well and just seemed to have so much fun with it. She was so lucky, because not only were Sheryl and I there, Sheryl's mom and dad came, as did my dad. And even 5 (!) of her England friends: Tiffany, Melody, Amanda, and Dan and Mary. She is so lucky to have so many great grown up friends. Thanks for coming out.

Pictures below and a video of her dance as well.

Kinsey getting ready for the music to start.

After the show, with all the flowers people got for her.

Kinsey with her dance teacher, Miss Angie.

Kinsey on the stage after it was all done.

And here's the video. I took it with my digital camera since they didn't allow video ones in so the quality isn't all that great. Oh and when you hear something that sounds like a wheeze, that's me laughing at Kinsey telling people where they should be in the line. Enjoy!

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Monday, December 04, 2006

How to have a great football and fantasy football weekend

Some of you remember that I'm playing my first season of fantasy football with the team name Nonviolent Resistors. I'm guaranteed getting into the playoffs now, of course 85% of the people in our league are in it.

My lineup has changed significantly over the course of the season, but one constant is Marvin Harrison, wide receiver for the hated Indianapolis Colts (I'm a Titans fan). Yesterday the Colts and the Titans played each other here in Nashville. This is a time when I think that fantasy football plays against traditional football rooting for a team. On one hand, I really wanted the Titans to win. Really wanted them to win.

On the other, I needed Marvin Harrison to have a great day, which generally means him having a lot of receiving yards and scoring several touchdowns, which is counter to the wish of the Titans winning.


Yesterday, Marvin Harrison caught 7 passes for 172 yards (that's a lot for you football neophytes) and 1 touchdown. Which was good for me.

And the Titans beat the hated Colts on a last minute 60 yard field goal (that's a long way for you football neophytes, a really long way) by Rob Bironas. Which was outstanding for me.

And that's how you have a great football AND fantasy football weekend.

Friday, December 01, 2006

"Seek first to understand, then to be understood"

Obviously, on the top of my mind this week has been the Lee Camp stuff that I talked about on Wednesday. I have several thoughts on this.

1) About the Tennessean. Ok, I know that newspapers are out for readership. That's just a fact. And controversy stirs up readers, as this story obviously did. However, there has to be some responsibility taken for the level of irresponsible journalism that was incredibly apparent in the story as it originally appeared. And truth be told, what they printed yesterday from Lee was good, but it appeared on the third page of the second section, not the front page as the original article did. Again, I understand the nature of the business and that it probably wouldn't have appeared on the front page, but I would think page 2 of section 1 would have been more appropriate.

AND, what the Tennessean printed yesterday about the controversy was just plain abysmal. What it basically said was "Hey, look at us and the controversy we started by reporting this wrong! Look at all the comments people made based on our incorrect reporting! Look at us!!!!!!!"

The Tennessean has to take responsibility for this level of reporting. They simply must. And they need to issue a public apology for either intentionally or unintentionally misrepresenting Lee's views.

2) Talk Radio. Once again, I know that controversy stirs up ratings, but what I heard on 99.7 WTN on Wednesday was almost unbelievable. Well, I guess it would be unbelievable if it weren't talk radio. It would be slanderous. However, talk radio hosts and callers can pretty much say whatever they want. And Kevin Miller did. Mr. Miller needlessly stirred up controversy and trashed the name of someone he doesn't know, based the reports of a paper that he generally would mistrust because of its "liberal bias." And spent at least two hours doing it with his callers: people who had their information about this filtered through him about this whole thing.

And yesterday, nary a word. I didn't hear an apology, no "oops, we didn't understand that the Tennessean had misrepresented him," nothing. What passes for info-tainment on our radio airwaves is just maddening.

3) Bloggers. Well, I could say a lot about this too, but it's primarily in the same vein as above. People making judgments that they didn't take the time to find out about more fully about. And it's not like Lee hasn't written a book or anything that people could do some investigating in, you know?

One thing that I and a few others have been doing is using the BlogSearches that I linked to on Wednesday and where we find someone that has excoriated Lee and not seen his response, we link to the response. Several people have issued apologies based on this and when we comment with grace and love, it prevents a lot of misunderstanding.

4) Other Christians. This one disappoints me the most. From posts in the comments section of the original article to blogs to rumors that were flying around, Lee's Christian brothers and sisters made snap judgments about this entire situation that showed a lack of faith in the words that Jesus said that I quoted a couple weeks ago when Brandon got his anonymous letter, and I'll quote here again. Matthew 18:15-18 clearly states:
Dealing With Sin in the Church
15 "If a brother or sister sins, go and point out the fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

18 "Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

What people did was ignore this clear teaching by Jesus. And in fact to digress into a little Biblical interpretation here, people have used this passage to disfellowship or excommunicate people from their community. Verse 17 says to treat them as a pagan or tax collector. Treating them as Jesus treated pagans and tax collectors means eating with them, talking with them, loving them!

With snap judgments and deliberately hurtful comments toward Lee, people show that they are more admirers of Jesus rather than followers of him, and that just confirms what most people think about Christians. And not in the good way.

Well, this has been a long post and I could say more. Good things that have come out of this include the manner of support that Lipscomb has shown Lee, such as the statement released on Wednesday afternoon. It would also be great if Lee's thoughts on discipleship got some more press, not limited to Mere Discipleship getting into the hands of a lot more people.

Lee also got some positive press on WKRN News2 last night, when he was interviewed by Faith and Ethics reporter, Jamey Tucker.

Hopefully, the negatives of this situation will pass quickly and everyone can learn the Covey lesson about understanding someone else first. Or to put at little more bluntly, shut up and listen.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Caption This Picture!

Caption this picture from a movie that should have been better than it was (Intolerable Cruelty).

Be funny!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Oh boy...

One of my favorite people is in the news. Lee Camp, the author of a seminal work on discipleship, Mere Discipleship, was quoted in today's Tennessean. I'm not going to quote the whole thing here, but I would strongly encourage people to read it. Once you've read it, I've got some thoughts.

I was very surprised to read the quotes from Lee. In fact, some of those quotes almost directly contradict some things that I've thought that Lee thought and thought that I've heard him say, particularly about the Kingdom of God coming on Earth as it is in Heaven. It's possible that I've misinterpreted him, but I really don't think so.

What I think is far more likely is that Lee's comments are accurate but taken out of context. What I would like is to hear (or read) the comments in their overall context. It wouldn't surprise me for that to be the case. So unlike some people (Mr. Miller, I'm looking in your direction ), I'm going to reserve judgment. I want to hear the whole story from all sides before castigating someone. I hope others will as well.


For those interested, here's some of the Blogosphere's reaction to the story:

There are some duplicates in there, but that should cover a lot of it. Not surprisingly, most (if not, all) out there are passing judgment already. Please pray for Lee and his family.

Addenda 2:
Lee and Lipscomb have posted a response here. It is a very good one that clarifies the context extremely well. Hopefully, many of the people who have passed judgment on Lee, his faith, and his commitment to Jesus will read it and understand that context. I fear, though, that many will not.

btw, the first six episodes of Heroes is on the Sci Fi Channel tonight, starting at 5 PM CST. If you haven't seen them and have cable, it would be well worth it to TIVO or tape.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"Daddy, I don't want to die on a Cross"

Last Tuesday night, Sheryl, I, and the kids went to a little service at Christ the King, a Catholic Church here in town. The service was associated with Sant'Egidio, a group committing itself to community, prayer, worship, and service to the poor.

Afterwards, Kinsey and I walked around a little and we went into the main section of the Sanctuary. They had a large crucifix with Jesus hanging on it. I asked Kinsey who it was and she knew that it was Jesus on the Cross. As we turned to walk away, she took my hand and said, "Daddy, I don't want to die on a Cross." I turned back to her and knelt down.

"Why do you think you would need to die on a cross, sweetie?"

She looked at me with her big brown eyes and said, "Jesus did and if he did, that means I'm going to have to too."

"No sweetie, you probably won't have to die on a cross. That really only happened back when Jesus was alive... I mean, when he walked on this earth. And don't you remember? He came back to life after he died and that means we will too."

She nodded thoughtfully and said, "Well, that's true. But I still don't want to die on a cross."

"Me either."

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Power in the Church

Interesting article in yesterday's Tennessean on Bellevue Community Church and their former pastor, David Foster.

What do you all think of one person having the power and influence over a congregation that Foster seems to have had at BCC? To me, that seems incredibly dangerous, especially if the man is as charismatic as Dr. Foster seems to have been. It's a situation that makes me incredibly glad to be in a church that has elders in authority, rather than one man (or person). I understand of course that if you get a group of elders that are out for their own power rather than the good of the church, you could potentially get into trouble there too.

Any thoughts from you all?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving 2006

Once again, I spoke at Otter Creek's 50 something-ith Thanksgiving service. It was really nice and laid back and just enjoyable to be a part of it. Here's what I said:

On a day like today, it is very easy to think about abundance. Most of us will leave hear and go home to places where sumptuous meals are being cooked and set up. We will enjoy the company of family and friends. We will play games, watch games, make plans for being up way too early in the morning. We will take joy in the blessings that such a holiday offers us.

I’m particularly thankful this year. It’s been a very full 12 months. This time last year, Sheryl, Kinsey and I had just gotten back from a mission trip to England and Sheryl was pregnant. This time last year, the word of a possible move from Granny White to this location were beginning to brew and in the space of three months, we had moved an entire church building full of 50 years of history and memories to this location. My son Connor was born in May and in August my daughter started Kindergarten. It’s been one of those momentous years that I will always look back on and thank God that it happened.

As I started thinking about what I was going to say today, I honestly had trouble. I’ve talked in this service the last couple of years and wanted to think in some new ways about the subject of Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays. So I decided to do what any self respecting former English/History teacher would do and go back to the beginning of this celebration.

I learned surprisingly enough, that the first Thanksgiving celebration was held in 1619, in the Virginia Colony. The more famous one occurred two years later in 1621 in the Plymouth Colony. And like many people, that’s the one that intrigued me. Because while we think of Thanksgiving as a celebration of abundance, it was for a very different reason that the colonists in present-day Massachusetts celebrated. That celebration was about survival.

On the Mayflower at its outset from Plymouth, England in September of 1620, there were 102 passengers. By the fall of the following year, only 50 had survived. And it’s important to remember that these early immigrants would not have survived without the help of the native people of the land. Without assistance of Squanto and the rest of the Wampanoag Confederacy to teach them about ways to fertilize their crops and the best places to fish and trap. That first celebration is 1621 was not about the celebration of abundance, because it had been a hard year. Losing half your population makes for a hard year. The cause for celebration for those early settlers was simple survival. Did they have abundance? Not yet. Soon though they would. But for this first celebration, they were simply thankful for life.

Most of us here are not in that situation. Most of us don’t have to struggle from season to season, praying that life would continue, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people here today who aren’t thankful for survival. For those who have lost loved ones, who have battled disease, who have seen jobs and goals not come to fruition, who have watched children takes paths they wish they wouldn’t, for the death of a marriage. For these, like for those early colonists, the Thanksgiving is for survival, it is for making it to the next morning. These situations in the people which sometimes are easy to hide from public view but are still just as real as the dangers of starvation, disease, and injury.

It’s in those times, when you’re in the middle of them that it is hard to see God’s hand in them. How could God allow me to lose my job? How could God allow my child to be sick? How could God allow my marriage to fail? And the easy platitude would be to say, “Well, God has a plan,” or “When you come out of it, you’ll see how God was working in this.” I will say that I believe that there were lessons for me and my family to learn when I lost my job. One of those was a reliance on God and His provision, which is an incredibly hard thing to learn and wait on. The other (which I believe firmly is part of the first) was a reliance on the community of faith.

The stories that I could tell about how we were upheld by this family would take more time than I have. Suffice it to say that, even though we live in a time where admitting weakness can be cause for ridicule, saying that we needed help brought a flood of help that is one of those places of faith for me and Sheryl. And at the end of that time, when I got another job, I did see God’s hand in it, but what sustained through that time was His love manifested through His body. People becoming the hands and feet of Christ to us. We were thankful for what He did for us and in turn that thankfulness led us to a call to action.

One thing it did was really start to open my eyes to people who were hurting. And in seeing those people who are hurting emotionally or physically, there is a call for us as followers of Christ to be a blessing to people. Going as far back as Genesis 12, when God calls the then-named Abram, he says that all people will be blessed through Abraham. Part of our calling as the spiritual descendants of Abraham is to be a blessing to people, to help those who need it. If we rely on our abundance and do not share that with those in need, then we are the rich fools that Jesus speaks of in Luke 12. If our Thanksgiving to God does not include the help for the poor and those on the fringes of society, then we do a disservice to our calling as followers of Christ.

It’s for this reason that we use the Thanksgiving season once again, as a kickoff for the gift card drive. Otter Creek receives several calls per week of people needing help buying items that are not included in food stamps and government assistance. It is one way to give thanks to God for how He has blessed us by giving to those in need of help.

A word of caution though… in his book, The Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne calls charity a dangerous thing, because it allows us to assuage guilt. It allows us to do good and to be a help without actually getting to know the poor. So while we can be a help, perhaps a goal for this next year is to actually get to know someone who lives on the margins of society. To treat them as much of a friend as the person sitting next us. As a wise person once said, It is perfectly right to ask God to feed the hungry, go out and feed someone who is hungry, then thank God for answering your prayer. We are to be God’s actors in this world. We are to be His partners in bringing forth His Kingdom, His Will. And that means acting as Jesus did. That means associating with the people he associated with. The despised, the hated, the unloved. It is a radical, scary call. But it’s also the example that our Lord set for us.

And if we can commit to that, there might be someone at this time next year thanking God for their survival.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Is the Revolution really Irresistible?

Well, as I've mentioned, I finished The Irresistible Revolution this last weekend. And I will say at the outset that it's a very good read. I can't say I enjoyed it, because it's the type of reading that you don't really enjoy, because of a couple of reasons. 1) It makes me realize how big the task of caring for the poor and marginalized is. 2) It makes me realize how inadequate I really am to try and help with even a small corner of that task. More on that later though...

One of the most interesting things about this book is the stories that Shane Claiborne tells about his life so far. He went from organizing student protests for the homeless to deciding that he wanted to spend a summer in Calcutta with Mother Theresa (so he called her up and asked her if he could come; she answered and said yes). He then came back to the States and did a year long internship with Willow Creek Community Church, which was a huge culture shock for him. These stories are really interesting as is his perspective. One thing he talked about was trying to feel like the rich at Willow Creek were as in need of help as the lepers and those in extreme poverty that he interacted with Calcutta. But one thing he said that Mother Theresa said to look for was the poverty that everyone had, and he realized that the rich or well off had a poverty of relationship. They were lonely. That was very intriguing insight.

He quoted from Dorothy Day a lot and she had some interesting quotes. For instance, "When I fed the poor, they called me a saint; when I asked why they were poor, they called me a communist." Something else that Claiborne talked about was that people of privilege and middle class will often use charity as a buffer to keep from being around the poor. It's easier to give money to a cause than it is to actually be around those we claim to want to help. That was an extremely convicting idea.

Last Friday, when I first mentioned this book, Sam Davidson commented that Shane's life and theology were very consistent, meaning he really lives what he believes. He acts on his theology. I'm not sure I can really be the extraordinary radical that Shane and the community at the Simple Way in Philadelphia are, but maybe it's the goal to become an ordinary one.

btw, if you're reading this, you're invited to a Thanksgiving service that I'm helping to lead at Otter Creek Church tomorrow morning at 9. We're at 409 Franklin Road in Brentwood and if you come, you might hear some of what you just read here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Connor Laughing

This is the first time I've heard Connor chuckle like this, and it's wonderful. I'm so thankful for him and Kinsey and as much of a struggle as kids can be at times, it's things like his laughter that keep you going.

So I share it with you.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Fun Weekend

It was a fun weekend, but a whirlwind one.

We left Friday afternoon and drove up to see some of Sheryl's family near Cincinnati. That was a good time and we really got to see some family we didn't know or see that often. Kinsey loves her Grandma Musick so much and I'm so glad she's had a chance to really know her. She loves her so much that when she thought Grandma Musick had left and she hadn't got to hug her, she burst into tears. Thankfully, she hadn't gone and we all got to say goodbye. Connor was a dream and just such a pleasant baby to be around.

We drove back yesterday morning and afternoon, and I got back in time to go downtown and run sound for the Thanksgiving service at the Ryman sponsored by Operation Andrew and the YMCA. I remember last year and how nervous I was to be standing at the board and mixing in the Ryman Auditorium. This year, it was almost old hat. Not exactly "ho hum," but certainly not as nerve wracking as last year.

This is obviously a short week and I'm still working on the Thanksgiving service for Thursday. I think I've got a line on where it's going to go. More later about the Irresistible Revolution. Have a good one.

Friday, November 17, 2006

No Time

Busy day today, so not much time to blog.

I'm almost done with an incredible book, The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical by Shane Claiborne. This is really interesting and really challenging. One of the reasons I really like it is that it talks practically about dealing with faith and Jesus' call and example to care for the poor and those on the margins. I'll talk more about it next week or the week after.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

More YouTube fun

Once again, I didn't take the time to find a funny/mockable picture so here are three YouTube videos...

1) About 4 months ago, this kid from Norway filmed himself making a beatbox, except it's all done with video editing. It's also done with flair and humor that really makes it neat.

2) This second one is the same guy, Lasse Gjertsen, and it's done in the same style, except instead of a beat box, it's drums and a piano. This one is so well done and again, with humor and style, and not a bad song too.

3) This last one is one of the saddest, most beautiful pieces of animation that I've ever watched. It effects me almost as much as the song "When She Loved Me" by Sarah MacLachlan in Toy Story 2. The story that it tells in 3 minutes is just... beautiful is the only way to put it. Make sure to listen after it blacks out for what makes it so sad.

Have a great Thursday.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Thanksgiving at Otter Creek

Once again this year, I'm organizing the Otter Creek Thanksgiving service. I've done it the last two years (here's last year's talk), and it's been weird because the Thanksgiving service was always Buddy Arnold's thing and it's very strange to be stepping into his shoes in this manner.

Something that I really like about the service is that it's very old school. No MediaShout, no screens, one mic. That kind of thing. It's very nice to do that at times and remember the simpler roots of our tribe, the Church of Christ.

What I've tried to do over the last two years is really incorporate all the elements of OC's family into what I do (single, married, older married, senior, that kind of thing) and when I talk, I try to avoid the nationalistic fervor that can sometimes accompany a Thanksgiving service and really talk about the poor and our need to be servants to them and all of those on the outside margins.

However, sometimes I feel like I'm beating a drum over and over again. I really don't want to get to a point where people see me coming up to a mic and think, "Oh great. Now we have to hear about serving people again." Which maybe isn't all bad now that I think about it, but I also would like to keep the message of that as fresh as possible. I don't want to say the same thing all the time.

So here's where I need some help. I'm considering two things. 1) There was a guy that we worked with through the prison ministry that just got let out on parole. He's a guy that's really trying to put his life back together and I think that if there's anyone that could talk about thanksgiving in a fresh way, it would be someone like him. I was thinking about asking him to speak. 2) He may not want to speak or not be able to. If so, I'll probably do it again. How can I address the issue of concern for the poor without being annoyingly repetitive? I welcome your thoughts

btw, you are all welcome to the service. It's at 9am at Otter Creek's building on Thanksgiving morning.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Connor's Curse

I've been playing Mr. Mom the last couple of days. Sheryl came down with a little bug of some sorts and so I've been taking care of her. I was pretty bummed because I didn't work the tech booth on Sunday and was looking forward to sitting with her.

Monday night was a long one. I got home and basically had to start Kinsey on her homework that we didn't do last week. She wasn't as excited about it as we might have wished and did her little stalling techniques that frustrate me immensely. While she was doing that, I made our supper and after eating it, fed Connor his cereal. I then gave Kinsey her bath and put her to bed. I then did the dishes and came downstairs to do the laundry... Long night.

Anyway, to Connor's curse. Below are pictures of me at six months. Once again, when Mom showed them to me, I would have sworn they were him. Well, I guess he'll have a good idea of what he'll look like at 35.

Me at 6 months

Me at 6 months

Cousin Katie, Kinsey, and Connor on a sleepover.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Treasures in Heaven

In his great class on the Sermon on the Mount at Otter Creek, Lee Camp covered Matthew 6:19-24 yesterday. As a refresher, here's the text:

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

As you might imagine, Lee had some hard things to say about this passage, especially in a church building in one of the richest counties in America: Williamson. However, even more interesting were five suggestions that he made for the church when it comes to money.

1. Let us learn to talk about money in the church. One of Lee's points was that secrecy in money and what we do with that money can have many of the same effects on our spiritual walk as secrecy about our sexual lust.

2. Let us find more ways to encourage each other to live more simply.

3. Let us remind each other that greed is idolatry, as Paul says.

4. It may be that our habit of disposing of marriages is due to our consumerist attitudes in everything else.

5. The church ought to question whether marketing (creating desire where no need is evident) is as unacceptable as a career in prostitution.

Like I said, hard, hard words, but words that I'm interested in hearing other people's responses too. Are they too harsh? Not strong enough? Any that make no sense at all? What about that last one? Can marketing and prostitution be linked?

I'll close this by saying that hearing that is in addition to reading The Irresistable Revolution by Shane Claiborne, which is an incredible read, and I'll have a lot more to say about this book in the future.

Friday, November 10, 2006

How Cultural is Scripture?

I've been thinking a lot about the subject of Scripture recently and the culturalness of it.

I grew up in the Church of Christ which has a pretty defined way of interpreting Scripture or hermeneutic. The method says that God's will for our lives is revealed completely through Scripture and that a rational person can figure it out. Through looking at the Scripture, we can see the direct commands, the approved apostolic examples, and the necessary inferences that can be drawn to give us the things that we need to do to become remain saved. For those of you who didn't know that, that little explanation might explain much about the Churches of Christ. There's not much room in that hermeneutic for the culturalness of an idea.

If you notice from the title of this post, there is an underlying assumption that Scripture is cultural. I don't really think that can be denied. It was written in a different time from us, directed to different people who lived with all sorts of basic assumptions about life.

For instance, the idea of a resting Sabbath is very hard for some of us to take in due to the busyness of our lives, but for a culture that had just spent 400 years as slaves, working every day, the idea of having a day off to rest must have been as much a salvation as just leaving Egypt. Or the phrase "Jesus is Lord." To us, this is a phrase that has some significance, depending on how much we actually allow Jesus to be Lord of our lives, but in the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago, that was an extremely dangerous political statement, because the idea behind it is that Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not.

So I think that it's apparent that Scripture is cultural. The question is How Cultural is it? In most Christian traditions, the Bible is the Word of God handed down to us through the ages, but as readers of it we have to recognize its culturalness and then the natural question has to flow down: are there parts of it that are cultural to its time and not applicable to us?

An example. Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, and 2 Thessalonians 5:26 all talk about greeting each other with a "holy kiss." I don't know of many congregations that follow this direct command of the Scripture. We've culturalized it into a hug or a handshake or high five.

Another example would be slavery (and I know about the book Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals by William Webb, which I haven't read but might one day) and how it's treated in Scripture (not condemned, but not condoned in the NT anyway) versus the modern mindset that we have about its unacceptability.

So question 1, how cultural is Scripture?

Question 2, does the culturalness of a Scriptural passage give us license to ignore, disregard, or alter it?

Question 3, are there general principles in the Bible that are revealed through cultural eyes which give us the principals we should follow while maybe not following the exact rule/regulation?

Or are all of these questions invalid and Scripture should be followed, no matter its culturality?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Calvin and Hobbes: The Untold Story

Instead of captioning a picture today, I thought I would share this piece I found on YouTube the other day. Calvin and Hobbes was and is one of my favorite comic strips ever, but seriously... didn't you know it would end up badly for Calvin? Warning: dark humor ahead.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What Happened Yesterday

Deep down inside, I am a political wonk. I love politics and seeing how things play out, and trying to figure out why it happened. Just my thing at times of the year like this. So here's how I think the Senate race here in Tennessee played out.

Much to the contradiction of the national media who always mentioned Harold Ford Jr's race, I do not think that him being an African American played into his loss. I don't pretend to be naive enough to think that there weren't people who didn't vote for him because of his race, but I don't think that percentage was big enough to cause his loss. There are two things that I think that did play into his loss.

1) His family. I think that there were enough people concerned about his family that they didn't vote for him, either wondering if they would influence him when he got into power or he would end up like them. I think that's why Shelby County (Memphis) didn't go stronger for him. They know his family and there were enough people there and in parts of the rest of the state that decided for that reason.

2) He's a Democrat. I think that as conservative as Tennessee has swung, there were a lot of independent voters who couldn't bring themselves to vote for a Democrat. They fear them in power. They fear the Pelosi factor. I also think there were a lot of Republicans in the same boat. They're dissatisfied with the war and the President and the party and don't agree with them, but just couldn't push the button to vote for a Democrat. I almost fell into that category myself, but for the first time in a Senatorial election, I voted for a Democrat. I fell into all of those categories and decided that the time was right for some change in DC after 12 years. I liked how he presented himself and how he campaigned (for the most part). I think that he'll be a great candidate in the future as well.

Same Sex Marriage
This wasn't very interesting in Tennessee: 80% to 20% for the amendment defining Marriage as being between a man and woman. I wasn't surprised by that at all.

What I didn't know was how it broke down in the other 7 states where there were similar ballot initiatives:
So in what seems like a pretty clear referendum on the subject, gay marriage lost. What does that mean? It seems like while there is a split, the majority supports the ban. Now interestingly, Colorado also had a domestic partnership measure on their ballot which was voted down 53 to 47. I think something like that would be something I would support more than gay marriage (which I do feel is between a man and woman). That measure getting voted down made me wonder about the politicking of Dobson and Haggard and the rest of the crew out there.

Democrats in the House (and maybe the Senate)
The country has indicated that it wants some change. The Dems won many more seats in the House than they needed for a majority and there's still an outside chance that the two undecideds in Virginia and Montana will swing their way. The question now is what really will change? The president is the Commander in Chief, so the Dems won't get us out of Iraq. They don't have a chance to override vetoes, so the laws they pass will have to be compromises on some level (not even including those signing statements Bush has been writing on laws passed by his own party). What we're probably looking at is gridlock, but in my mind, while gridlock isn't great, I find it preferable to the blank check the President has had for the last 6 years.

What's really going to get interesting is the next two years with the Presidential race (which should be interesting). Will the Democrats get someone who can capture the public's imagination? Or will we be stuck again voting for the lesser of two idiots?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Brandon's Blog

So... Have you read Brandon's blog today? If not, you should. Well, maybe, maybe not. I'm not going to say much about it because most people are saying it in the comments over there.

However, the thing that saddens me the most about it is the blatant disregard of Scripture in the name of making a personal attack with no intention of the reconciliation that should be evident in the life of disciple. Matthew 18:15-20 clearly states:
Dealing With Sin in the Church
15 "If a brother or sister sins, go and point out the fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

18 "Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

I'm not sure how much simpler than that it is and sending an anonymous letter to someone is a sign of someone either ignorant of it or completely disregarding it. Jesus isn't calling here for some legalistic reaction to a brother or sisters' sin. It's the ministry of reconciliation that we are called to that it doesn't seem that the anonymous sender of the letter has no interest in.

And it breaks my heart for them and for BST that he would get such a letter.

Weird Kid Dream

I had a strange dream about Kinsey the other night and I don't know if it was a cohesion of my thinking about Heroes or what. I don't remember my dreams a lot, but when I do, they're pretty rooted in reality (ok, sans the giant ant dream). This is unlike Sheryl who dreams about locomotives driving through our living room.

Somehow, Sheryl and I were Kinsey's adopted parents. And we'd just gotten word that her birth parents wanted her back and my heart was absolutely broken. I could imagine giving her up. I really really couldn't. But then we were at her birth parents house and getting ready to hand her over. I don't remember her crying, but I felt myself right on the verge of it, especially as I got out the letter that I'd written to read to her about how we would always love her and she would always be my little girl. It was at that moment that I remember watching her being born and that I was her real daddy, and the dream ended thankfully.

It's strange how those little things like that can get you through the defiant times and the "pretending I can't hear you" times. As frustrated as I get, I can't imagine being without her.

Although I did wonder what the significance of Connor having 9 toes was....

Monday, November 06, 2006


Like some other people, I've been thinking some about the Ted Haggard situation out in Colorado. It's an eerily familiar feeling that we've seen shades of in years past, from Jimmy Swaggart to Jim Bakker and all sorts of non famous people in between.

One thing that has really struck me is some of the pleasure that people have taken in seeing this guy fall in such a spectacular way. It seems that because this guy was a leader of a large church (14,000), an opponent of gay marriage, and an adviser to the President, when he's caught in an indiscretion/sin that he is vilified and the situation is almost celebrated.

So here's my question: Why is that? Is it because he was caught in a drug using, homosexual situation when he'd spoken so strenuously against it? Is it that people love seeing people in high places brought down? Is it that people love seeing hypocrites taken down?

Part of me wonders as well if Haggard's outspoken version of Christianity plays into this as well. Are Christians seen outside of our own circles as some kind of bogeymen that are just ripe such a takedown? Is that why some people have taken such pleasure in it? Because it was a(nother) "big time" Christian that was taken down?

Randy Harris once told a story about seeing a girl in the airport weeping uncontrollably with no one around comforting her. He felt that he should go over and talk to her and see if he could help, but one decision he had to make was whether to go over "Cross in or Cross out." You see, he didn't know whether the girl would associate a Christian with judgmentalism and proselytizing or if she would think of a Christian as someone who would lay down their life for her.

Maybe that's why people are taking pleasure in Haggard's fall. Maybe Christians aren't seen as those who will lay down their lives.

And that's a problem.

Follow up:

What message does Haggard's church removing him from ministry send? Is the message that we don't want struggling people leading our congregations? Or only people who struggle with certain sins? Because if it is, I think that's a problem too.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Mending Hearts

Last night, I was privileged to help out at a benefit dinner for a local charity called Mending Hearts. It is a program started by two women, Katrina Frierson and Charlotte Grant, whose goal it is to provide women in addiction and basically at the bottom of society with a transitional living facility, support services, and access to clothing and jobs.

Ok. All of that is a fairly dry way of saying that Mending Hearts is an absolutely amazing group of people. The stories that I heard last night... I heard of women addicted to meth and crack who are six months clean. Six months! These women were hooked on crack when Connor was born! I heard of women who had lost all contact with their families, and only after being in Mending Hearts did they reunite. A woman whose 13 year old son hung himself who because of the women at Mending Hearts got to be with him before he died. Women who are learning and relearning everyday what grace and love mean. This is a work that is taking the love of Christ into some of the darkest places of this world and pulling women back from the brink of absolute devastation. Do all of them stay with it? No they don't. Do some take advantage of it? Yes they do. But to look in the eyes of those women who are daily fighting their addictions and demons and failures and see... hope, to see a chance for life, and just how grateful they are for another day and another chance is what the Kingdom of God is truly about.

Zane Williams, who played last night at the benefit (btw, Zane, Hurry Home made me cry... again), once said that it is perfectly appropriate to pray and ask God to feed the hungry, go out and give a meal to someone hungry, then go back and thank God for answering your prayer. This is one of those times where those prayers that we pray about the Kingdom coming on Earth as it is in Heaven can come to fruition.

If you have the means, please donate to Mending Hearts. They have a PayPal link on their site and you can donate, even if you're not here in Nashville. If you are here in Nashville and have the ability, go down and visit them. See these women in their place of need and joy. Find ways that you can help. If you have a blog, talk about this work. Put a link to Mending Hearts and let your readers know about what goes on there. Even if you haven't updated your blog in six months, do a quick post with a link to Mending Hearts. This is a work of God and supporting it is doing the work of the Kingdom. It's continuing Jesus' work that he left for us to do.
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