Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I'm it!

I've been book-tagged by Scott Freeman, so here I go...

1. One book that changed your life:
Wow. This is a tough one. A lot of books go through my mind and Lee Camp's Mere Discipleship is definitely on that list, but I'll really have to go with A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren. It reinvigorated me and my faith in some staggering ways, making me rethink many things about what it means to be a Christian.

2. One book that you’ve read more than once:
I read many books multiple times. I generally read books so fast to find out what happens that I have to read them several times to get all the nuance of what an author does, particularly with fiction. So I'll choose The Paradise War by Stephen Lawhead. It's a great story that so subtly weaves a Kingdom of God message into it, you don't even realize it until long after it's over.

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:
I'm going to slightly cheat here and call N.T. Wright's series Christian Origins and the Question of God one series. All three of the books (New Testament and the People of God; Jesus and the Victory of God; The Resurrection of the Son of God) look pretty interesting, and being 800 or so pages a piece that would last me until I open the hatch.

4. One book that made you laugh:
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. I laughed a lot during this book, just because Biff is so stinking hysterical in his narration. Very irreverant, but never blasphemous. Even clears up that whole Mary Magdalene thing.

5. One book that made you cry:
I wish I had a clear recollection of a book that made me cry or affected me so much that I wanted to cry, but nothing is really springing to mind.

6. One book you wish had been written:
Beside the Hidden Flame fantasy novel I've had in various stages of predevelopment, I'll answer this one in two ways:

a) A published book I wish I'd written would be A New Kind of Christian or Mere Discipleship or possibly The Secret Message of Jesus.

b) A nonpublished book that I wish I had written: Get Off Your Ass and Do Something: The Parable of the Good Samaritan as a Call to Action in God's World or perhaps Love: How Christians Figured Out that It's Very Difficult to Serve Someone and Judge Them Simultaneously

7. One book you wish had never been written:
Weigh Down Workshop by Gwen Shamblin

8. One book you’re currently reading:
Simply Christian by N.T. Wright

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
Same as Scott. The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard. I've tried, but man, is it a tough read.

10. Tag others:
Adam Ellis, Matt Wilson, David Carden, Malia Carden, Jennifer Thompson, Justin Mundie, Judy Thomas, Brandon Scott Thomas, Tony Arnold, Father Thomas McKenzie, Thomas Stewart, Chris Lovinggood.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Dancing Queen and a Healthy Fantasy Life

Kinsey started dance class last Friday, no pics on it yet, but soon. This was a big thing for us to try and do. Kinsey isn't really an athletic type. I'm not sure how she'd do in a group athletic situation, although she hits a wiffleball really well and we might try some softball with her. But she loves to dance.

Her current favorite movie is Annie (1982) and she loves singing the songs and dancing with the music. She's got most of the words down really well and just really enjoys it. Sheryl found a school close to us that Kinsey could go to and so after buying a unitard and skirt and tights and ballet shoes and tap shoes (!), Kinsey started.

I called Sheryl during the middle of it and asked how she was doing and she said, "She's sitting to the side, by herself." Immediate thought: "Oh no. She hates it. Great, what now?" I've really got to fight against those thoughts. I keep forgetting that Kinsey is just 5 and she's just getting into things and that she really, really has to get used to something or someone, before she feels comfortable with it. I also learned later that she sat to the side during tap time, because the music hurt her ears. But when the ballet time started up, she jumped up, ran over to the teacher and the other girls and just got so into it. She came home and didn't want to take any of her dancing clothes off and spent the rest of the evening leaping and prancing.

I love my little girl.


I had my very first fantasy football draft last night. I've been inaugurated. Here's who I have.

Jake Delhomme QB - Car (Seemed like a safe QB pick)
Marvin Harrison WR - Indy (Didn't get Peyton, but I got the recipient of most of the receptions)
T.J. Houshmandzadeh WR - Cincy (Looked like a good pick, before I knew he'd bruised his heel in the game last night)
Derrick Mason WR - Balt (Hated picking a Raven, but I know he and McNair have great chemistry together. I expect him to get a lot of catches.)
Willie Parker RB - Pitts (Big surprise last year, and with Bettis gone now, I expect him to get more goal line carries too. My first pick in the draft - I was #9 out 10)
Julius Jones RB - Dallas (Parcells is a big running coach. I expect a lot out of Jones)
Todd Heap TE - Balt (So freaking hard to pick two (!) Ravens and no Titans, but I know how McNair likes to work. Heap was good without McNair. He'll be better with him)
Vernon Davis TE - SF (Huge upside and Alex Smith will need an outlet. Drafted as W/T)
Brandon Stokely WR - Indy (Might as well have another Peyton target in the holster. Drafted as W/R)
Antwaan Randle-El WR - Wash Bench (Huge clutch guy in Pittsburgh last year. Don't know how he'll do in Washington, so he starts on the bench.)
Marc Bulger QB - Stl Bench (Actually the first QB I drafted for some reason, but I'm not sure how he'll really do, so to the bench he goes.)
Jerious Norwood RB - Atl Bench (The TJ Duckett trade to Washington opens up some good possibilities for him, but I'm not completely sold on him yet. He looked really good against the Titans, but so did Damien Nash for Denver. I did want him on my team, so to the bench he goes for now.)
Duce Staley RB - Pitt Bench (I'm sure this was a wasted pick. I'm just sure it was.)
Christian Fauria TE - Wash Bench (No idea who this really is, but I think I picked him because my two TE both have the same bye week.)

Jason Elam K - Denver (Mile High air. Big leg. Really didn't think about any other kicker)
Carolina Defense D - Caro (Chicago and Carolina looked good. Someone else got Chicago)
Baltimore Defense D - Balt Bench (I hate Baltimore so much; why did I pick their defense? Well, they're not the defense from 5 years ago, but they're still strong.)

So anyway, there's my team, the Nonviolent Resistors. I predict finishing in the middle of the pack, but I'm looking forward to it.

And by the way, Adam Ellis and Matt Wilson are in Nashville for graduate school and staying at my house. So far, no Xbox has been played yet. That's my only disappointment. At least the conversation is good.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Final Kingdom Class

I've posted the final Kingdom class at It's called Kingdom Opportunities.

I've long felt that classes that end without actual real world application are good theologically, but if the mission of God calls us to action, then our theology should as well. I asked Doug Sanders, Otter Creek's Director of Ministries to speak. Doug tells the story of him coming from being the Vice President of Ice Cream to becoming OC's Director of Ministries and the heart for the poverty stricken and disenfranchised that God is fostering within him. If you read Brandon's blog from Saturday and weren't too distracted by some of the wording images that he's already edited out, you see that he talks about visitng a woman in Nashville basically living in third world conditions. That kind of work has been going on at OC a lot in the past, and some currently, but there's a fervor for it that's developing in large part because of Doug's passion for it. If that interests you, listen to Doug's story.

At any rate, that finishes the class. I've really enjoyed teaching it and learning and discussing and thinking with those of you who actually attended the class. I hope it encouraged you to help bring about the Kingdom of God in your circles of influence.

Have a great week.

Friday, August 25, 2006

When God Uses a 2x4

You know all that missional/attractional stuff I've been talking about for a while? Every now and then, God can really use a situation to explode some notions, while reinforcing at the same time.

Sunday night was Celebration Sunday at Otter Creek. We had the band playing and, while I wasn't running the sound that night (that was the very, very talented Scott Hernbeck), I was running MediaShout, so I was there early, running through the songs and making sure I and the singers were on the same page. I ran down to the gym to get my necessary Diet Coke. As I was heading back to the tech booth, I saw a man walking in. He did not look like a person who usually comes into Otter Creek, which I could say more about but I won't. Today.

He was wearing a pretty ratty t-shirt, shorts, and flip flops. As he walked up to me, he also had some pretty distinctive body odor. He asked me if there was an elder or a deacon that he could talk too, and pretty much knowing what was coming next, I said no, but wondered if there was some way I could help him.

He gave me his name (we'll call him Jimmy) and then told me his story about how he was a homosexual who was down on his luck. He'd drank gasoline which had eaten away at his stomach lining and was supposed to have had back surgery, but couldn't get it. His ankles were swollen and he was just trying to get enough gas to get back to his home in southeast Nashville.

Now, I've dealt with enough people to know a scam job when I hear it and this sounded like one. It was almost like a business man telling the story of what his company does on an elevator ride (the elevator talk, if you will). Jimmy's words almost felt rhythmic, like he'd said it enough that he had it down. However, what I've also decided is that despite what I think about someone, if I have a couple of dollars to give, I'm going to give it to them. Could he have been lying to me? Sure, but if I give someone a little money, what they do with that money is between them and God, not me. Now, if he were asking for a couple of hundred or a thousand, sure, I'd follow up on his story some.

In this case, I literally had no cash on me. Well, I had 40 cents left over from the dollar I used to get the Diet Coke. I did see someone in the lobby that I know has been struggling with many of the same things that I have about how to treat the poor and needy, so I called him over and Jimmy went through his story again, almost the exact same wording as when he told it to me. My friend had some money on him, so he gave Jimmy a few dollars. Jimmy thanked him profusely. He said that he had seen the church here and cars in the parking lot and he knew he could get help here.

He was about to walk away when I mentioned the Celebration service and that he was welcome to stay and worship with us. I would introduce him to Doug Sanders who might be able to help him some with his situation. Jimmy started to talk about how he smelled and wouldn't feel right about it. I pointed out that Jesus was homeless and that he probably didn't smell that great and in fact, he washed his disciples' feet which were in sandals and they certainly didn't smell like roses. I told him it didn't matter what he smelled like; he was welcome there.

He then started talking about how he didn't have electricity in his home and that he really wanted to get back before it was dark, so I asked him for his address. He gave it (or one) to me and I gave him Doug's contact information and the church's phone number. I asked him for his and he said he didn't have a phone at his house. He was about to leave again, and I asked if I could pray with him. He agreed so I did and at the end, gave him a hug, and he left. Maybe to go to the Methodist church down the road and pull the same thing. Maybe to go home to his darkening house.

The people of the church, the Body of Christ, must get outside of our walls and take the Kingdom out of there to a hurting and dying world. But sometimes, God brings opportunities walking into our church buildings. Pray for Jimmy if you would today and pray that the church will grow in grace and mercy to even those who would take advantage of it, for the sake of those who desperately need it.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Phil's (Keaggy and Wilson)

I have been a Phil Keaggy fan for a long, long time. It goes back to when I listened exclusively to Christian music and I went to see some concert that he was a part of. Watching him play and do things with an acoustic guitar that I just couldn't believe could be done. Snapping his fingers on the neck of the guitar. Running loops and playing harmony right over them. It was amazing. And then I heard his electric stuff. Jammin' type stuff from back in the 60's and 70's. Phil Keaggy and Sunday's Child. Crimson and Blue. In fact, I saw him do an incredible show back in 1992 (Oh, geez, that's 14 years ago. Holy crap...) with a full band, Hammond B3 organ included. He's a great artist.

Last night was Phil Keaggy night at Otter Creek. He's been doing shows during the summer there for the last five or six years, and every night has been astounding, incredible, amazing. All those superlatives, but it was also different. He did his normal acoustic stuff that everyone likes, but that's he's done every time he's come to the Creek, but this time he brought his old band with him, Glass Harp. This was Phil's first band, back in the 70s and they have known each other since high school. It's two other guys, John Sferra on drums and Daniel Pecchio on bass. They're basically a jam band and they just have fun together.

And they rocked the house down. It was loud, it was cool, and it was tons of fun. If you missed it thinking it would be the same old Phil on the acoustic, yes, he did a lot of that, but the Glass Harp part of it was just utterly phenomenal. Two pics below. Sorry for the lousy quality. They're from my camera phone from the balcony.

Phil Solo

Glass Harp together.

There was something else cool. A couple of years ago, Phil's sound guy couldn't make it to OC, so last minute, Phil asked me if I could run the sound for him. When he did that, my palms immediately started to sweat. "Me? Run Sound for Phil Keaggy?" Another checkbox on the things I'm doing that I never expected to do (go to England twice, run sound at the Ryman Auditorium). Of course I agreed and trotted up to the balcony, hoping I wouldn't faint. I didn't and it's actually very easy to run. Just set his mic level and his guitar level and don't touch anything.

Well, during Phil's sound checks, he just messes around and does crazy loops and funky jams. Last year was no exception, except that I recorded the jam and gave him a copy of it. What I didn't know was that he was going to release a CD of these jams called Roundabout.

He ended up using that jam from last year and put it on the CD, which means I have an album credit on a Phil Keaggy CD. It's very small in the image, so I blew it up below. Which is something else I never expected to have. It was very cool of him to do that and it was a capper to a very cool night.

Do You Have the Balls to Share the Gospel?

Well... do you?


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

How to Have Fun As a Teacher (and Really Mess With Your Kids' Heads)

I've talked previously about some of my less than usual experiences as a teacher here and here and here. Here's another one.

I remember very distinctly being a senior in high school while taking an English test and thinking, "If I ever thought about becoming a teacher, I would make a true-false test where all the answers but one was true. Or a multiple choice test where all the answers are C." I had no idea at that point that I would actually teach for six years but there you go. Never actually did that, but what I did was a bit craftier.

One of my policies in my Honors Senior English class was that there was one outside book read every six weeks period. I can't remember all of them now, and I was pretty naive when it came to being a teacher, but fairly early, I realized that the last six weeks of the school year was going to be pretty hard to get things done. Seniors still had to pass me to graduate, but their motivation was a bit harder to bring to the surface.

When the book was due, I gave the kids a multiple choice/true-false objective test about facts in the book, what happened in the story, who characters were, that kind of stuff. Then we'd talk about the book in class for a couple of days and then they'd write a paper on a certain topic. Well, in the final six weeks, I chose George Eliot's Silas Marner, a fairly short book. However, after the first year, I realized most of the kids weren't reading it; they were reading the ever famous Cliff's Notes. Now, I didn't mind if they read those, but along with the book, so the next year, I devised a plan.

Throughout the test in the multiple choice questions, I sprinkled incorrect answers about a golden ring. I probably mentioned references to this ring in about four different places. A ring that never once appeared in the book. However, the students that hadn't actually read the book didn't know that. So, as I watched them take the test, I could see confused looks on kids' faces as they went back and forth on the different questions, noticing that the ring was mentioned a couple of times, and being pretty good test takers (it is indeed possible to pass a test without ever having cracked open the book), I knew I'd got them. I also hoped that the kids that actually read the book wouldn't get tripped up on it, and try to remember the ring.

Of course, once I graded the tests and handed them back, I told them what I had done and made it a cautionary tale about actually reading the assigned material, but we actually enjoyed a good laugh about it.

Sometimes I miss being able to mess with people with impunity, but I guess that's why God lets us have children.

Just kidding, future Kinsey and Connor. Any way that I mess you up is purely by accident... as far as you know. And really, it's not raining because you disappointed God and He's crying.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Space and Rocket Center

One of the things we did before Kinsey started school was do a little day trip down to the Space and Rocket Center down in Huntsville. I used to go down there for field trips all the time and was just fascinated by space and travelling through space (A huge shock, I know). It was one of those things that I really hoped she'd like it a little bit, but she ended up loving it.

We did an IMAX movie first and she got to see what walking on the moon would have been like, so everything we saw after that was just very exciting to her. She loved how big the rockets were and all of the stuff to see. We also ended up being able to have dinner with the Cox's as well which was very nice. It was a really great day to have before school started.

Pictures someday if Blogger ever lets me do it.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Kingdom Class: Mission Mindset

I've posted yesterday's Teaching the Kingdom class. In it, Linda Benthall spoke about a mission mindset. She spent several years in China teaching English and leading Bible studies. I asked her to talk about what a mission mindset looks like in attitude and action. She gave a really great talk, and it fit very well into an ideology that we are all missionaries to our world, not just those people who go to different places.

In other news, did you know that Geoffrey Chaucer hath a blog? Did you know that he's written a new tale? Serpentes on a Shippe! And you thought that reading Middle English was boring.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Thin Places

I'm still working on reading N.T. Wright's Simply Christian, which is a great, great book. In the chapter on God, Wright discusses God's presence and some of the ways that people have thought about it from pantheism and panentheism (God in and a part of everything) to Platonistic dualism (We are here; God is up there somewhere and until death, never the twain shall meet). His consideration is a dimensional one. God exists in His dimension and we in ours, but occasionally the line between the two is thinner than at other times. It is at these times that we know God's Presence.

Wright's predominant times for these are during the church sacraments (Communion/Eucharist, Baptism, etc). I'm comfortable with that and that idea, but I'm not comfortable with limiting God's presence to those times, or rather, our awareness of that presence. These thin places occur within our everyday walks, as well as those special occasions, whether sacramentally or the birth of a child or being dumbstruck by the grandeur of nature.

I think we must be on the lookout for these times to prepare and plan for them, but also realize that they will take us by surprise as well. Those wonderful times when tears spring to our eyes unbidden, when the barrier between heaven and earth is so thin that the beautiful presence of God breaks through in wondrous ways.

Review on a Blog

Yes. I did actually go see the 10pm showing of Snakes on a Plane. Review below, containing minor spoilers.

This definitely deserves its R rating. Who knew there were so many ways to die by snake bite? And gross ways too. Words of advice: never go to the bathroom on a plane with snakes on it. Especially if you're male. Eeesh. Also, do not attempt to join the Mile-High Club while smoking a joint on a plane with snakes on it.

A lot of gruesome deaths in this. A lot. I only got genuinely freaked in two places, but since you really know what's coming throughout most of it, it's not that bad. Samuel L. Jackson takes the whole thing, of course. He being the baddest dude on the planet. Some laugh out loud moments, some "I can't believe they just did that" moments, some "Why did they do that?" moments.

It's an action popcorn flick that needs to be seen in a theater with as many people as possible. It is definitely so bad it's good, but you also respect that the filmmakers knew they were doing that and SLJ knew he was signing on for that and has had fun with the movie, as well as promoting the movie. It doesn't pretend to be high art, it doesn't pretend to be a "film." It is what it is, hence the name "Snakes on a Plane."

However, if the sequel is called "Spiders on a Plane," I'm out.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Snakes...on a Plane

You know, if this movie were called Spiders on a Plane, wild snakes couldn't drag me to it. But snakes? I'm there, especially with the baddest dude on the planet, Samuel L. Jackson.

I'm actually considering seeing a 10 PM showing of it tonight...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

First Day of School

Well, the first day of school was an unqualified success. Kinsey got off without any problems at all. She went into her room with her teacher, Ms. C, sat down at her desk, and started doing a puzzle. Sheryl and I stood there, watching her. We eventually left and were off.

I did fine. Honestly, I leave her everyday for work and doing this wasn't that different for me. Yes, I understand the significance of it, but it just was part of things. Sheryl had a couple of tears. She's losing her buddy. Her little shadow throughout the day.

We went back and got her before noon. She had a great time and even learned something. She learned what nocturnal means. Her first knowledge gained through school. The beginning trickle of a flow of knowledge. A ... well, I've run out of metaphors, so here are some pictures.

Pre-hair fixing. Daddy getting ready to take the dumb dog out.

A healthy breakfast is the key to a good day, but we only have Cheerios.

Backpack packed. Child ready to go.

"Bye Mommy and Daddy! Hey, why are you still here?"

The end of a long day.

And just for fun...

Well... it is.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Kingdom Class: Missional and Attractional

I've posted yesterday's Kingdom class. In it, we talk about church and how we view church. I talk about idolatries that the church and followers of Jesus face in trying to participate in the mission God gives us (success and its trappings, nationalism, bibliolatry, and ecclesiolatry).

Honestly, I felt this class went much better than last week's. I thought last week's felt disjointed and very rough. This one fits together much better and I think really gives a better idea about what I've tried to talk about over the last couple of months. I think it was a really good class.

Pictures of Kinsey's first day of Kindergarten tomorrow.



Tomorrow you start at least 17 years worth of daily schooling. This is tough because your mom and I are understanding that from now on, someone else will be the person you spend the most continous waking hours with. We pray that you are not unduly influence by others, but influence them. We pray that you learn to love learning and not dread it.

We know there will be hard days, broken hearts, and things that we can't remember or imagine. There will be late nights helping with projects and homework. Early mornings rushing to school. Late afternoons for sports and meetings. Your mind will be opened, your experiences expanded, and friends you can't imagine.

We love you and we hope you have fun.


Mommy and Daddy

(Click here for the story of the first day and pictures.)

Friday, August 11, 2006

What (Not All) Women Want

I was looking at Christianity Today yesterday and ran across this article. It's a review of Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul, the book by John and Stasi Eldredge of Wild at Heart renown.

Here's a snippet:

I may not be an Eldredge kind of lady, but I know beauty when I see it. And the most regrettable failure of Captivating is its tame idea of beauty. "Beauty is core to a woman—who she is and what she longs to be," Stasi Eldredge writes. "Beauty is what the world longs to experience from a woman." She gives examples: "Pioneer women brought china teacups into the wilderness, and I bring a pretty tablecloth to eat on when my family camps. We wear perfume, paint our toenails, color our hair, and pierce our ears, all in an effort to be ever more beautiful." Sure. But there's so much more.

Beauty draws blood to the heart and speeds up the pulse; sometimes it evokes repentance. I wish more Christians were comfortable with its pull. Too often, beauty raptures us so forcibly that we fear it will lead to temptation. So we avert our eyes. What if we turned our ecstasy into worship?

With provocative hyperbole, a character in Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel The Idiot predicts that beauty will save the world. Commenting on this line, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn imagined that "if the too obvious, too straight branches of Truth and Good are crushed or amputated and cannot reach the light," then "perhaps the whimsical, unpredictable, unexpected branches of Beauty will make their way through and soar up to that very place and in this way perform the work of all three."

But it won't be the beauty described in Captivating. That beauty isn't wild enough; it's mere prettification, a tendency toward sentimental adornment. For some reason, the Eldredges restrict the source of beauty to women. Sorry, Rubens, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Bach, and men with stunning looks—you don't make the list.

True beauty is precarious, unbound.

It cannot be confined to pre-approved tastes or to one gender. It is wild at heart. Like Christ. And like the complicated men and women who follow him (some of whom room alone when they travel).

What do you think? Is the reviewer on the nose? Or is she so far off the mark that she might also think The Colbert Report isn't satire? More importantly, what does it mean to live as a woman and a follower of Christ? Is that answer different for single women and married ones?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Tuesday's Post

Creative title, huh?

Sorry for the lack of post yesterday. Too busy here at home. Also, for some strange reason, I can't get the Kingdom class posted on Podomatic.

Everyone here is well. Connor is holding his head up a lot more and just grins all the time. Kinsey's really excited for school next week, especially because we spent all day Saturday on the Tax Free weekend here in Nashville at the mall, getting her fall clothes and school supplies.

As for this week, I've taken it off work and am spending it with the family before Kinsey heads off to the next 17 years of her life at school every day.

Sorry for the shortness, but I've been drafted to color. Have a great day.

Friday, August 04, 2006

"What You Win Them with Is What You When Them to"

This statement, spoken by Randy Harris at the Lipscomb Summer Celebration, is an idea that has stuck with me, in my craw since I heard it. I realized in listening to it the bald faced truth of it.

Many churches over the last generation or so have adopted an "attractional model." In other words, offer enough programs or special services or cool teaching (or teachers) or hip worship, and people will come into your church. Once you've got them there, you just keep offering those things enough because you have to keep the people there. This is ESPECIALLY true in a place like Nashville where churches are like lobbyists in Washington; you can't swing a dead rat without hitting one. If you don't offer someone what they like, they'll just go somewhere else. So, following the title of this post, if you offer someone a great children's program and then children's program changes or goes away, then they just leave or stay and complain about it.

The focus then needs to become in our congregations, not the attractional model, but the missional model. I've talked before about how "missional church" or "missional Christian" should be absolute redundancies, but the sad fact of the matter is that our congregations have become more like affinity-based social clubs, rather than organizations with the mission that Jesus gave us in Matthew 28. What we have to be clear about is the purpose we are here for. We are to be a blessing to the world, recalling God's call to Abraham in Genesis 12. We are to work with God in bringing His Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven, creating disciples of Jesus not simply admirers of him or adherents to some beliefs about him.

The challenge comes in working within an existing church to do this. I think Otter Creek is starting down this road. You can listen to some of the recent Sunday sermons (last week's Purpose of Membership, specifically) and hear a greater calling to discipleship, that our elders will be asking us the questions about our discipleship walk. Undoubtably, there have been people who have come to Otter Creek for our children's programs and/or our worship and/or whatever else (not being like other Churches of Christ). I hope those people will join with the elders and other members in this push toward greater discipleship (even though statistics apparently show that churches that begin this kind of transition from attractional to missional/discipleship focused lose 50-70% of their attendance).

I firmly believe that a congregation that devotes itself whole-heartedly to following Jesus could make a change in its community. I pray God gives me the strength and perseverance and patience to walk through this with my brothers and sisters, and that Otter Creek can be a place where disciples of Jesus are formed and matured and grow in the faith with a mind toward Jesus and a heart for the world.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Wilson Theory of Politics

Sheryl and I were talking the other night about the state of national politics and came to some conclusions about how the make-up of our government should be. We are right, of course, and any dissent will be squashed and dissenters detained.

Overall, we're pretty happy with democracy. We like the checks and balances that are offered in the Constitution and what we propose would hopefully enact them a bit better.
  • President - We're actually fairly happy with Presidential powers. Not as much with the President, but that seems to put us in a 2/3 majority. We wonder sometimes about Vice-Presidential powers and Karl Rove powers (mind control, we think), but we're ok with the powers the President has. Although I've got some issues with Presidential Signing Statements, basically the President writing notes on a law saying which parts he will enforce and which he won't. Here's an article on it by John Dean.

    The only major change is that once a week, the President MUST stand before Congress and answer questions about his policies, much like the British Prime Minister must do. One, it would have some great debates and make the President really explain his positions in non-structured settings. Two, it's insanely entertaining to watch. Seriously, watch archived ones here and read a bit about its history here.

  • Congress - OK, we've got some big changes here. Not in the powers, but in the structure.

    1) The majority in the Congress must of a different party than the President. Period. Having a rubber stamp Congress is pretty ridiculous to me and I think there needs to be more robust debate that a different party in the majority would offer, particularly in the newly proposed President's Questions.

    2) However, there do need to be some limits on this. First of all, the Congress cannot have enough in the opposing party for an automatic veto override, which is a two-thirds majority (290 in the house and 67 in the Senate). That's too easy. There needs to be substantive debate and compromise to be reached for such an action. So we propose that the oppositional majority in the House be limited to 250, requiring getting 40 members from the majority party to agree with the veto and 60 in the Senate, requiring 7 Senators from the majority to join the veto override.

    Oh, and no more gerrymandering. Have square shaped districts.

    Now in a perfect world, this would just happen naturally. In this theory, all of the candidates for congress will put their names in a hats, one for Democrats, one for Republicans, and then we'll have a very small hat for all those third party people. Depending on who's voted as President, we'll just choose the appropriate number of names out of the proper party hat, and maybe give two random seats to third parties. No Libertarians though. Those people are crazy. (j/k)

  • Supreme Court - Minor change here. President still gets to nominate whom he or she wants and that nomination still needs to be approved by the Senate (see how well the forced number works here?). However, the people with the same political leanings as the President is limited to a 5 to 4 majority. How will we make sure of this? Once every four years, we'll make them take the World's Smallest Political Quiz. That way the balance can be maintained.
I hope you all will see that this is a much better way to run the country. Naturally, there will have to be someone in charge of making sure this all works the way that it's supposed to. I say we let Jesus do that. But if he's not around in person, I guess I'll take the job. I mean, heck, even I could have 1/3 of the people supporting me.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Updates and Some Thoughts

Updates first.

1) Otter Creek has a new sermon podcast site at We've already uploaded the sermons from the current series (Family Matters) and have uploaded two of the Thank God It's Wednesday summer series (Nate Larkin from last week and XXXChurch from the first week of July). We plan to get Tim's previous series, How To Live, up as quickly as possible. As with all Podomatic sites, you can subscribe through iTunes, add yourself to the mailing list for new posts, and even leave comments on the site for particular sermons or talks.

2) Two weeks ago, in the Kingdom of God class, I talked about the Parable of the Two Sons. I mentioned that I was basically stealing a lot of my thoughts from a Randy Harris talk that he gave at Otter Creek last summer. I emailed him for permission to post it and he assented. So I've posted it here. Listen to it. Seriously. It is a call to be church, to be community, that many of us in our "church as club" mindset need to hear.

Other Thoughts:

1) The Bellevue Community Church thing is getting interesting and kind of sad to watch from afar. There is a blog called BCC is Broken where you can follow some of the developments as they happen. Like all blogs, this one seems to have a particular view.

Watching all of this has made me think about church organization and the ownership people feel like they have in a church. Again, I could make comments on the leadership of a community of faith being focused on one person and wondering about only having six elders for a church that had anywhere from 2,500-4,000 people attending. I would have thought more would be needed to effectively shepherd a flock that size.

The bigger curiosity for me is how Otter Creek would have reacted to a similar situation. Would it have been as big a deal? Would people have reacted as strongly to the elders getting up one morning and saying that Tim was no longer the preacher or Brandon was no longer the worship minister? Would it have made the news? Is the summer just a slow news time so BCC is getting a lot of play? I don't know, but while I fervently pray for the body of Christ at BCC, I fervently pray that OC never has to experience something like this.

2) Mel Gibson. Oh boy. Ok, first off, there's always the question of drink making you say things you really believe or say things you don't really believe and you say things because you're drunk. I've not been drunk so I can't speak from personal experience, but I've often wondered if some people drink because they want to have an excuse for acting in a certain way (see Break, Spring ["I really did that? Wow, I must have been really drunk!"]).

For Gibson, I think the guy is really fighting some deep-seated stuff. His father is obviously anti-Semitic and believes that the Holocaust was exaggerated. He doesn't want to dishonor his father, but not answering questions directly about his father's beliefs puts him in a bad place, especially a place where if he doesn't directly deny him, people will automatically think he shares them.

And now, of course, the drunken tirade. I think that speaks for itself. What speaks in his favor is the extensive apology that he's issued, where he also asks for help from the Jewish community. The Anti-Defamation League has accepted the apology and said that it will work with Gibson after he completes rehab.

There are of course those cynics who refuse to believe that the apology is sincere, or more likely, character spin control. And that's fine, but I would rather give benefit of the doubt and hope that what Gibson has said is what he truly feels and not only can he rehabilitate from the alcohol, but get past some of the mindsets he might have been passed from others.

I think any of us in a similar situation would want that same benefit.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Pictures and Consequences

Consequences first.

I mentioned last week that Kinsey has been acting out of sorts with attitude and tone of voice, so Sheryl and I decided we'd had enough of it and enact consequences. We took our usual Friday night trip of dinner, then Target and Kinsey wasn't the worst she's ever been (that was two years ago), but bad enough that Sheryl and I put the consequences into action. No TV or movies the next day and no going swimming or out if asked. And if her behavior didn't improve, then the same thing the next day.

Now, when I'm talking about behavior, I'm talking about attitude and I'm talking about listening and doing what we tell her to do, when we tell her to do it.

Saturday was a better day, but there were enough incidents that Sheryl and I decided that we didn't need to allow her to have her privileges back. Sunday, she was just about perfect. Polite, kind, sweet, just a joy to be around. One other thing that Sheryl and I have been doing is to get her in bed earlier than we had been, especially in preparation for school. We think her getting a good strong night's sleep is the key to about everything. She was great yesterday as well and I hope she's realizing how we expect her to act, especially in preparation for school.

At any rate, that's been that. Here are some pictures to enjoy as well.

Starting to smile

I'm not sure who's happier.

I think the sideways smile is genetic.

Hmmm... my legs are warm, but my arms are cold. How is that happening.

I know who's happier here.

"Oh Praise the Lord!" Actually, that's just how he sleeps.

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