Monday, July 31, 2006

Crucifixon and Power

The Teaching the Kingdom class is available for download. This week, we discuss the Crucifixion and its use as a power play by the authorities and while being the focal point of history in salvation, it also exists as an example for us to emulate in our desire to be like Jesus.

I've also been watching the situation that's developed at Bellevue Community Church in the community where I live. Here's some reporting by the Tennessean. I could find it very easy to judge and to point out issues with large churches, but then that beam in my eye might kill someone. So I simply commit to praying and asking others to do the same as well.

Friday, July 28, 2006

We Are the Body of Christ

Many, many things swirling in my head right now. I've been listening to some of the talks from Summer Celebration at Lipscomb University and honestly Randy Harris and Earl Lavender are kicking my tail in the most uncomfortable and best way possible, but I need time to unpack it.

On Sunday morning, Tim Woodroof preached a sermon on the church as the body of Christ. And honestly, I've heard that sermon before. Not necessarily from Tim, but in various forms. However, I had lunch with Doug Sanders and he put it in a new light that I want to explore with you all. One of the things he said is that we as individual Christians cannot expect to be Jesus. It's impossible. We should strive for that and work on that in our personal holiness, but we cannot expect it to actually occur. What we can strive for is the idea that the church is the body of Christ and as we work to further the mission of the Kingdom here and now, we use our gifts within the local body to further that mission corporately.

That's a bit of a difference from some of the individualistic means that I've thought about being like Jesus and it makes a lot of sense. There is an interdependence upon each other and an exercising of gifts and talents for the mission that is very appealing. But what it also means is that the leadership of the church HAS to buy into this as well. It means the church has to become a church of mission and not a church of attraction. One of the things Randy Harris said in the talks I'm listening to is that what you attract people to is what they expect. So if you attract people with high energy worship or children's programs or whatever and those pieces take a lesser importance for whatever reason, people will leave and seek out that thing. However, if people come (if we're lucky enough to get people to come) and they hear consistently from the pulpit as well as in the hearts of the people of the congregation that they mission of Jesus is what the individual members and the congregation as a whole is about, then they can either join in that or go somewhere where they can be an admirer of Jesus, rather than a follower.

Like I said, a lot of stuff running through my head, but I'm starting to become more and more convinced that the church has to be about forming people into disciples and not merely adherents or admirers. Next question: is it worth it to try and change the direction of a 75-year-old church or just start over?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

10 Things I Hate About Commandments

This is one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time. There is one bad word at the end. When you see "Principal Firebush," stop it there if that would offend you. On the whole though, very, very funny.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"Uh Mommy? I forgot to do something."

No pictures again this week. Sorry.

Connor is doing much better. His eye infection seems to be completely gone, and he's sleeping through the night again (Thank you, Jebus) now that the infection is gone. He's also starting to smile an awful lot and of course, it's the cutest thing. He's reacting to voices and turning his head and starting to get really fun. Today is also his 2 month birthday and it's just amazing to watch how he's growing (over 11 pounds now) and his motor skills are progressing. This whole process is so fascinating to me. I'm always wondering what he's thinking. Obviously not in words, but maybe in feelings or sensations? He sees Sheryl and he gets a warm feeling in his tummy? How babies think before they can think in coherent words and thoughts just fascinates me to no end.

Kinsey is going through a bit of a struggle right now. Her attitude and tone of voice and listening skills are very reminscent of a teenager. She tries to tell us what to do and when we don't and tell her what to she needs to do, she gets this frustrated voice and attitude. We're really working on getting things better before she goes to Kindergarten in 3 weeks (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). Sheryl and I are still processing this fact. It's harder for her than me, because Kinsey's been her buddy for the last five years and especially last year, when she was home with her. We also worry, because we know that we are now not going to be the primary people Kinsey is with for the majority of her waking hours. She's now going to be around kids we don't know from parents we don't know, who've done things she hasn't and shouldn't. We just worry about how all of that's going to go down. Kinsey's excited about school. Mommy and Daddy? Not so sure.

So, Kinsey's also been on a ballerina kick for the last few weeks. Sheryl got her some ballerina shoes and a tutu for her to wear. Yesterday, she was wearing the tutu around and got the urge to go potty. So she ran into the bathroom and went, then realized there was a problem. She called for Sheryl, who had just got done feeding Connor and said, "Uh Mommy. I forgot to do something." Sheryl thinking there was some clean up that needed to get done, went in a realized that Kinsey had indeed forgot something. She'd taken her tutu down, but not her underwear. Some clean up and a quick shower later, Kinsey was back into the tutu and dancing around. That one didn't make it into the kid owner manual, but for those of you with kids file that one away.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Party Parables

I've added yesterday's Teaching the Kingdom class. In it we talked about the parable of the Great Banquet in Luke 14, the parable of the Wedding Banquet in Matthew 22, and the parable of the Two Sons in Luke 15.

It was another good class with some good discussion. Very enjoyable. Next week, we'll get into the Crucifixion as a Kingdom event, simultaneously political, exemplary, and salvific. Hopefully, we'll look at the Resurrection in a similar vein, but if not, we'll take that on the week after.

Friday, July 21, 2006

A Consistent Ethic of Life

Last night on the Daily Show, Jon Stewart commented on the Bush veto of the Stem Cell Research bill.

For those of you without sound on your computer or just not wanting to spend five minutes watching Jon Stewart, he basically picked up on the idea that Bush vetoed the bill because in his eyes, it is murder to kill viable embryos for research, but apparently feels that 30,000 Iraqi civilian deaths is acceptable to spread democracy. While Stewart eventually takes the argument to the extreme (as he is prone to doing), the argument definitely made me think about it.

Within the broader evangelical movement there seems to be some inconsistency when it comes to the subject of life. For example, we are more than happy to fight for the rights of an unborn child. However, once that child is born, we seem to back away, particularly if that child is lower class. And maybe "back away" is not the best term to use there; maybe conveniently forget is better. Similarly, there are many who feel that the spread of democracy and the protection of Iraqi citizens from the rise of an Islamic fundamentalist regime is of tantamount importance in the Middle East, but the "collateral damage" to those citizens while they are protected is an acceptable cost to the war.

It seems to me this is one of the easiest hole nonChristians to pick at Christians with. If we say we are for life or pro-life, doesn't that mean we are pro-life in all of our doings? If we are for the child in utero, mustn't we be pro-life ex utero? I think it would be an equally strong statement of life for people to offer a choice to women who feel they have no other choice but to get an abortion?

This is difficult because it would be stepping out of comfort zones and offering real, lasting solutions to people and not just slogans we can speak, or petitions we can sign, and then go home and forget about it until the next election year.

All of this calls for a discerning heart and willingness to commit to life, even if it is inconvenient. If Jesus came to give us life and life to the fullest, I don't think there's any other stand his followers can make.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Kingdom Quiz

I took this quiz today and was honestly a little surprised at my top score. I thought I might have scored higher in my second level.

You scored as Kingdom as a Christianised Society. Christians shouldn't withdraw from the world, but by being present in it they can transform it. The kingdom is not only spiritual, but social, political, and cultural.

Kingdom as a Christianised Society


The Kingdom as a counter-system


The Kingdom as Earthly Utopia


The Kingdom is mystical communion


The Kingdom as Institutional Church


The Kingdom as a political state


The Kingdom is a Future Hope


Inner spiritual experience


What is the Kingdom of God?
created with

Interesting stuff.

What about you? How do you score? Is it what you expected? Do you think your answers have changed from what you would have answered at previous points in your spiritual journey? Why have your answered changed? Sorry for all the questions. Just curious about where people are.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Family Time

No pictures this week. Sorry.

Connor has eye infections. The doctor thinks that he might have clogged or tiny tear ducts. Kinsey had the same problem where when she cried, she'd get eye gunk all over her eyes and when she was asleep, her eyes would literally crust shut, and we'd have to take a warm washcloth to open. She eventually had to have stints put in her tear ducts to have them heal up over the stints to solve the problem. It looks like Connor has the same thing. His eyes crust over and when he cries, he has little gunk come out of them. His eyes also look really, really bloodshot. It's pretty pathetic. Sheryl took him to the doctor yesterday and we got some ointment, but Sheryl and I are both betting he'll have to have the surgery too.

Kinsey has been a little waterbug since we got back from the lake. She loves going to the pool and is learning to jump in the deep end and swim to me, or Gee and Dad (my mom and dad). She's working on her breathing and just doing a great job with it. She's still enamored with Connor and I think we're avoiding any kind of jealousy issues up to this point.

Connor also went to his first movie last night. Kinsey's was Home on the Range; Connor's was Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Since we didn't get to go and see Rob Bell at Rocketown and Kinsey was spending the night with Sheryl's mom and dad, we decided to risk taking him. He slept through almost all of it and Sheryl and I got to enjoy a movie, which is a fabulous movie. And the END?!? I won't spoil it for any of you that haven't seen it, but this is almost as hard of a wait as the time between the Lord of the Rings movies. However, since Connor slept through most of it, it meant he had a very restless and crying night. So, we paid the price for our 2 hours and 15 minutes of entertainment.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Parables and the Kingdom of God

This week's Teaching the Kingdom class has been posted. In it, we talk about how Jesus used parables in his teaching and how we can do that ourselves in our interaction with people. I go on a rant about how I think Christians need to be in the creative community and not ghetto-izing ourselves in a Christian subculture. It was a great class, due very little to me and much more to the great conversation we had among all of us.

It was followed by Tim Woodroof delivering a very good sermon about Otter Creek, called "Who Is Otter Creek?" and where the congregation stands theologically and within our heritage in the Restoration movement. We're working on getting a link up on Otter Creek's website, but if you want to download it, it's on the site at the following link: To download, right-click the link, select Save Target As... and save it to your computer. Then use a media player like iTunes or Windows Media Player to play it.

Possibly going to hear Rob Bell tonight. Looking forward to it.

Update: I've worked on it with Rob Cox and the sermon is now available for download at It's still available from the link I posted above, but things will start being posted at the site above in the future.

Updated Update: Not going to hear Rob Bell tonight. Sold out.


Friday, July 14, 2006

Community is Hard

I feel like I need to put some context around yesterday's post.

I'll be honest. I really debated whether or not I wanted to post it and how to do it. I didn't want it to seem like a woe is me, pity party post, so I just posted the facts of what happened. I didn't want it to be those things because I didn't feel bad about what happened. I was interested in the fact that it did happen.I think the comments that followed were the most interesting part. People tend to gravitate to people like them. I really noticed this when I was teaching highschool and most of the African-American kids sat together and most of the Caucasian kids sat together, which made me wonder what MLK died for, but that's another post for another day. People tend to be with people they are comfortable with, but we also tend to not notice certain things when we're busy.

Wednesday night, I know that many people walked by me because they were dealing with kids and getting them their food and getting them settled to eat. Also, many of my closer friends were not there that night... I don't remember any of the the singles being there and people I know well weren't. And that's what made it all the more interesting. And to be perfectly fair, I know stories on the opposite end of the spectrum are true. People who have come to Otter Creek knowing no one and being welcomed with open arms. Unfortunately, I also hear a lot of stories like Anonymous' from yesterday too.

To become community is hard and takes hard, hard work. You have to sacrifice time and convenience and the easiness of things to make a community. It tends to be harder for me and Sheryl living on the west side of town (Memphis, as BST calls it), when most of the people we know are either in the Brentwood area, close to church or even scattered to other parts of Nashville, which makes those other times when we're together, either at a fellowship dinner or in worship, that much more important. It's a call for those who are more shy to open up some and take some chances and those who are more gregarious to do approach those people who may seem out of the fold and engage them. And that may mean sitting with your kids at a crowded table, or sitting with someone else's kids at a crowded table, or driving across town to be with people you might not know well, or going next door to be with someone you might not know well.

For my Kingdom class, I'm looking at Jesus' Kingdom parables, and the one that has stuck out to me is the parable of the Great Banquet or Feast, told in Matthew 22 and Luke 14. Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God being like a feast that all are invited to, that those who are on the margins can join in God's feast, in God's party, but we have to be inviting to others and welcoming of people outside of our circle.

After 30 minutes of sitting by myself, I went with Doug Sanders over to a family that I didn't know, who don't look much like anyone else at Otter Creek. I learned about a recovery program that the sister and daughter of one of our members is helping conduct. I learned about trying to get some money from the government to keep some things open and I met 5 new people that I didn't know when I sat down.

Community is hard, but it's the Kingdom of God in action. And if we're not about the Kingdom, we're just sitting on pews feeling good about ourselves.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

An Interesting Experience

Last night, at Otter Creek's weekly fellowship dinner, I sat at a table with 5 open seats for 30 minutes by myself. Four people talked to me in passing.

It was a very interesting experience.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Picture Time

Sorry for the last week and not posting anything. We were in Georgia at a family reunion and no access. I'm really sorry too that we didn't take any pictures but we just completely forgot to bring the camera. Connor did go to Sunday morning church for the first time this Sunday and got all the compliments that we knew he would and Kinsey was a proud big sister too.

At any rate, here are some other ones that we've taken...

"Hmm, my position in this house has stepped down some... first a crib, now a laundry basket..."

Kinsey being very brave at the top of a very high slide

Red eye reduction doesn't seem to work on Connor very well. I hope that's not some kind of sign.

Connor asleep on Sheryl.

Connor and Kinsey with Grandma Musick.

Connor the Contortionist.

Going to church on Sunday at 7:30 AM. There was extensive negotiation to leave the hangers at home.

A picture I took two minutes ago to show that he's not always the perfect baby, but also to show how he sleeps with his arms up and how warm he likes to be.

Have a great week.

Friday, July 07, 2006


Sheryl and I have had a lot of family stuff going on this week: spending the first part of it at Lake Nottely near Blairsville, GA and Sheryl's brother and sister with us the latter part of it.

Spending all of this time with family just really brought home to me the need for community. For the last year or so, Sheryl and I have not been involved in a small group and I've been really missing that community. I get so little opportunity up in the tech booth to interact with people in the way I did at the old building out in the open. And even with teaching my class, I interact a lot, but it's still not the same. Things got so crazy with the England trip and then Connor that we didn't really feel like we had the time, but the more and more I think about it, I really start coming back to something I've said before: Following Jesus is an intensely personal journey that can only be properly done in community.

I'm looking forward to finding a smaller community to be involved in again and looking forward to growing with others as well.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Dead Dog

I saw a dead dog by the road today. It bothered me.
Normally, dead animals don't bother me. Rabbits, possums,
Squirrels, chipmunks, skunks, some cats. Tennessee has its share of road kill.

For some reason though, this one bothered me.
Its image haunted me for miles on down.
Maybe it was the youth of the dog.
Its too big paws.
Maybe it was the collar
Showing that someone loved and cared for it.
Maybe that it was on the side of the road.
It had been hit, but not killed instantly.
It made it to the side and then died. The idea of an
animal in pain is not pleasant.
Maybe that it was there at all.
Whoever had hit it hadn't stopped. They'd gone on to
whatever business they'd had.
Not worrying about the family puppy they'd killed.

All of this flashed by me. As did the puppy,
as I went on to whatever business I had.

I saw a dead boy on the TV today.

And I changed the channel.
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