Wednesday, November 26, 2008


While the posts this week have been about Prentice Meador's passing and the mourning of his death and rejoicing of his life, we still have much to be thankful for.

I'm grateful to God for life and my continued enjoyment of it.

I'm grateful for my wife, whom I love more every day and would rather not spend time with anyone else.

I'm grateful for Kinsey and for how much she's growing. She's reading so well now and being a great big sister.

I'm grateful for Connor and how much fun (though frustrating) he is right now.

I'm grateful to be employed and have a job that I enjoy to be able to provide for my family and have Sheryl be at home with the kids.

I'm grateful for Otter Creek Church. It's been a rough 12 months in a lot of ways with the departure of ministers and now Prentice's death, but I'm grateful for a body of believers that I can be a part of and minister with. Even though I question and challenge at times, it's still home and a body that I love in spite of and sometimes because of its flaws.

I'm grateful for our life group and how all of them have become a part of our lives in ways I couldn't have imagined 18 months ago.

I'm grateful for life in Christ, who set the example for how we should pursue the Kingdom of God and suffered and rose again, triumphing over death.

This year, I'm grateful.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Prentice Meador Passes

At 6:08 this morning, Prentice Meador passed from this life.

Please continue to keep his family and the Otter Creek Church family in your prayers.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Prentice Meador

For the last several months, Prentice Meador has been part-time preaching at Otter Creek. He was scheduled to speak this Sunday, but on Friday he was admitted to the hospital thinking he had pneumonia, but it ended up being something more serious than that.

You can read the summary here. And you can keep track of his status on the overall blog:

Please keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Update: For those reading this post on Tuesday, November 25th or afterward, Prentice died on the 25th at 6:08 AM. You can leave your condolences on the blog linked above. Please continue to keep the Meador family and Otter Creek Church in your prayers.

Friday, November 21, 2008


A blogger, rogueminister, that I read infrequently put up some quotes yesterday from early Christians about their perspective on war. Here are a few...

Justin Martyr, approx. 138 A.D.

“The devil is the author of all war.” “We, who used to kill one another, do not make war on our enemies. We refuse to tell lies or deceive our inquisitors; we prefer to die acknowledging Christ.”

Tertullian, 155-230 A.D.

“But now inquiry is being made concerning these issues. First, can any believer enlist in the military? Second, can any soldier, even those of the rank and file or lesser grades who neither engage in pagan sacrifices nor capital punishment, be admitted into the church? No on both counts—for there is no agreement between the divine sacrament and the human sacrament, the standard of Christ and the standard of the devil, the camp of light and the camp of darkness. One soul cannot serve two masters—God and Caesar…But how will a Christian engage in war—indeed, how will a Christian even engage in military service during peacetime—without the sword, which the Lord has taken away? For although soldiers had approached John to receive instructions and a centurion believed, this does not change the fact that afterward, the Lord, by disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier.”

“Under no circumstances should a true Christian draw the sword.”

Theophilus of Antioch, approx. 412 A.D.

Say to those that hate and curse you, you are our brothers!

Lee Camp (and others, I'm sure) has made the point in his book Mere Discipleship that when Constantine became a Christian, Christianity did not change him, he changed Christianity. So instead of a critic of the state and its wielding of power for its own purposes, it became a tool of the state to get people to fall into line. It became an opiate of the people.

What is a Christian to do about war? Do these perspectives from early Christians still hold value today? As good citizens of the country in which they live, are Christians permitted to take part in state-mandated wars? Or are we still bound by Jesus' call to love our enemies and pray for those that curse us? Does Jesus' command to Peter to put away his sword apply to us as well?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

YouTube Thursday: Epilogue/Amazing Grace - Phil Keaggy

I got exposed to Phil Keaggy back in the 80s. He released a CD called Phil Keaggy and Sunday's Child which was a rockin', late-Beatles feel to it. Through that, I got exposed to his instrumental work, specifically ones like Beyond Nature and The Master and the Musician.

The last track is one called Epilogue/Amazing Grace and it's an original piece that gets meshed with the hymn that just works in an incredible way. I've loved this song since I first heard it. We used it in our Prelude music at our wedding and it's one of the songs that I want played at my funeral (many, many years from now). Oh, and it's 9 minutes long.

More of (a very young) Phil playing around with the Ebow that he uses to make the synthesized sound on the guitar. (Check out the acid stonewashed jeans!)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Things Change

Remember a couple of months ago about the Good Place that we were in as a family with our kids?

Yeah, we're starting to come out of that.

Somehow in 2 months, Connor has become a two year old in some of his behaviors. Now, this isn't helped by Kinsey who likes to aggravate him and who Sheryl and I have to constantly remind her that she's the older one and doesn't need to do that (not that it worked with me either). But Connor is starting to get a bit more difficult, a bit more defiant, and a bit more willful.

However, he's also one of the cutest kids that I know and he's still fun and runs to see me when I get home from work. And really there's not much more I can ask right now.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Otter Creek's Wednesday night service is called Vespers. It is a contemplative service. The sanctuary is darkened, mainly lit by candles. Scripture is read, there is silence, a Psalm is chanted, there are different stations for prayer to guide our thoughts, and a message is given. This Wednesday, I spoke from Amos 5:18-24 and Matthew 25.

The Gospel passage tonight is the story of the Ten Virgins and its theme is preparedness. Contextually, the subject is the return of the Lord as discussed in Matthew 24. It’s very curious to imagine what Jesus was thinking as he thought about preparedness.

We have a tendency in our contemporary setting to spiritualize teachings like this, to expect that Jesus is talking about our spiritual state of preparedness, making sure our hearts are right with God, but what’s interesting is that the parables that follow this one don’t tend to bear that out.

The next parable after the virgins is the parable of the talents, where servants of a master are given talents/money and those that produce are rewarded and the one that doesn’t is punished. Again, this parable could be spiritualized. Our talent is the Gospel that has been given to us and we are to take it out and have it bear fruit for the Kingdom of God, converting others to Christ. And I think that can be one application of it.

But then look at the parable that follows, one of Jesus’ clearest statements on judgment, the parable of the sheep and the goats. In this one, the Son of Man comes in his glory and he separates all the nations, the sheep on one side, the goats on the other. And what is the basis of this separation? Is it belief? Is it having your heart right with God? Is it the fruit that our Gospel has borne? No, it’s action. It’s caring for the poor, the sick, visiting those in prison, and clothing those that need clothes. It is action that comes from faith.

And here’s the thing that should scare us. And by us, I mean those of us who have grown so comfortable in our Christianity that we think showing up on Sunday’s and eating a little bread and drinking a little grape juice and putting some money in a plate makes us a Christian. Or those of us that think that sitting in liturgical, candle-lit dark makes us more spiritual. From this last parable, if what we do in here isn’t backed up by actions for these least of these in society, we’re the goats. If we don’t follow what we say we believe by actually doing something, we’re the ones on the outside.

You see, because if you look at these parables, all of the people who end up on the outside are those “in the know.” The virgins left out in the cold know the bridegroom is coming. The servant with the talent knows what he’s supposed to do with it. The goats to the left call the Son of Man “Lord.” These people know who Jesus is, they know, and yet on the basis of that knowledge, they do nothing.

And this is what makes the Amos passage so fascinating. In the NIV it’s labeled as the Day of the Lord, which for some people, might bring up images of Revelation: new heavens, new earth, the new Jerusalem coming down, God dwelling with His people. But the Amos passage makes it clear that the Day of the Lord isn’t necessarily something to be anticipated as much as it is to be feared.

All of the services and rituals and rites that the people of Israel were performing were worthless in God’s eyes, because His people didn’t pursue justice and righteousness. He says that He hates their feast, despises their assemblies. Away with the noise of songs! Why? Is there something inherently wrong with the songs or the assemblies? No, but it’s the fact that those assemblies and feasts are not backed up by action motivated pursue justice and righteousness. That's what angers God.

It seems sometimes that the church can become a collection of admirers of Jesus. We like the idea of Jesus. We like the fact the he came as a cute baby (no golden fleece diapers, though), that he died on a cross, and rose from the dead. And that somehow as a result of all of that, we get to go to heaven too. We’re not sure how all that works, there’s blood somewhere and we get washed clean by that, but we’re basically just glad that it happened and we get to benefit from it.

And honestly, it's easier to be an admirer, because it makes little call on our own lives. It becomes much easier to point our fingers at others' "moral" failings and call people out for them, while ignoring the sin that eats at our own souls: the greed and the lust and the selfishness that don't show as easily as the moral failings we can like to pick on.

However, Jesus does not call us to be his admirers. He calls us to be his followers. To walk as he would walk in our places. How would Jesus walk as a teacher, or a student, or a web designer, or a minister, or stay at home parent? If we claim the name of Christian, which is Greek for little Christs, we have to commit to walking as his followers. We have to look the opportunities around us for pursuing justice and righteousness. It’s good to do that in places like Guatemala and Kenya, foreign ministries that Otter Creek supports, but we also need to look around our own homes, in our own city. Find out what needs to be done at the Wayne Reed Center, at Youth Encouragement Services, at the Kirkpatrick School. Take communion to prisoners on Sunday mornings, come with us to the Turney Center on 4th Sundays. Participate in Room in the Inn, Thrift Smart, Mending Hearts.

Being a follower is hard. It's messy. It gets us around people we might not be around a lot. It takes a change of mindset and it's not overnight. You take the baby steps that you can. Maybe give away one thing that you don't need. Maybe do something that Jesus would do that makes you uncomfortable.

God has given us opportunities to pursue justice and righteousness all around us. All we have to do is open our eyes and see them. He’s invited us to partner with him in changing this world, something that no matter how lofty their speeches, no politician can do, no government can accomplish. Jesus didn’t save us for us to sit on our hands and pray that we don’t sin so badly that we don’t make it into heaven. He called us to go out of here and make disciples, call people to the Kingdom and then send them out as well. And I pray that we will have the boldness to stop admiring Jesus and start following him.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fall 2008 Pictures

On Saturday, the four of us went out to a park to take advantage of the great weather and the fall colors and get some family pictures. I think they ended up very well.

I picked this one because of how well it shows the color of Connor's eyes.

Three people look great in this one. Who's the dork on the left?

I love this one, just for the expression on the kids' faces. We're saying happy cheese. Connor is in the middle of "Happy..."

I will cherish this one forever

Sister and Brother

Man, we are in SO much trouble when boys start to notice her.

Kinsey was insistent on doing a superhero pose.

Connor was close to a meltdown, but this held him off for a bit.

Just a couple of beautiful girls

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Christian Right

Diving in headfirst again...

I was wondering this weekend if the election last Tuesday was a sign of the beginning of the end of the Christian Right's influence in power. According to some Exit poll numbers from the Associated Press (and stolen shamelessly from the Dallas Morning News):
Worship service attendance is considered a marker of religiosity that is generally tied to conservative politics. People who say they attend worship services more than once a week voted for President Bush over John Kerry 64-35. This year, John McCain still won those voters, but only by a 55-43 tally.

Mr. McCain took an overwhelming percentage of the born-again evangelical vote. But his tally of 73 percent was a drop from the 2004 election, where Mr. Bush beat Mr. Kerry with 79 percent of that vote.
So among regular church goers, Obama gained 9 points and among "born-again evangelicals" (whatever that really means), the president-elect gained 6 points.

I think this data and the election results can be read a few ways.

1) The Christian Right never really supported McCain.

In my listening to conservative talk radio and talking to my friends, people were not incredibly excited about McCain. It was only when Palin came on board that many on the Christian right really came out to support McCain (I say all this anecdotally, of course). However, the Christian right might not have been able to convince enough of those voters to either vote McCain or vote against Obama, which would seem to indicate some eroding support.

2) The Anti-Palin vote.

I know several people who like McCain. They especially liked the McCain who ran back in 2000, who thumbed his nose at Christian leaders like Falwell and Dobson and Robertson (calling them "agents of intolerance" in 2000). They were dismayed by what they perceived as McCain's pandering to the Religious right (by speaking at Falwell's Liberty University, for example), seeming to sell out in order to get their support. And when Palin was chosen, this seemed to further his entrenchment with the Christian Right. But what it also did was drive moderates and centrists away from him. According to a CNN exit poll, those that considered themselves moderate voted 60-39 for Obama, which was 44% of the respondants. Now I believe that McCain would lost by even more votes, if he HADN'T chosen a Christian Right conservative like Palin, because the Christian right would have stayed home or gone for a 3rd party candidate. It would have been similar to what happened in 1992 when many of them voted for Perot, sapping support from Bush Sr. and giving Clinton the White House. So McCain didn't have much choice from that standpoint. But it also didn't help that Palin basically became a punchline on most comedy shows almost immediately, even by using her own words.

3. Rejection of Fear Tactics

I wonder finally if many people just decided to reject the Christian Right's propagation of fear as a campaign tool. Now, as I've said, I think the Left used fear as well, particularly in its promotion of McCain as the Third Term of George Bush (a nightmare for many people on the left). However, there were some pretty egregious examples of the Christian Right using fear to try and sway voters, especially the Letter from 2012 from Focus on the Family. I think people got tired of that and tired of similar tactics, and whether they voted for Obama to spite the Christian Right, or because they actually supported Obama, I think those votes were a rejection of those tactics. Even going to the buzz words of the 50s (socialist/communist) and the new racism that's ok (Muslim) didn't seem to work.

Now it's the interesting part for the Republican party. Do they read these results as a rejection of the Christian Right and move more center or do they read these results as a reject of McCain and his more centrist policies and take this as a hint to move more to the right? I suppose we'll wait until the midterms to find out.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Question of the Day: Moral vs. Political

Why is it that when someone talks about abortion or homosexuality, they are talking about moral issues, but when someone talks about greed, poverty, or just/unjust war they are being political?

For instance, our guest preacher at church on Sunday, brought up abortion and acceptance of homosexuality as examples that our nation needs revival, which is a perspective that I can appreciate, even if I disagree on approaches. However, if someone were to bring up social justice issues like poverty or greed or just/unjust war, those issues are considered "political" and shouldn't be brought up from a pulpit setting. Why the discrepancy?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

YouTube Thursday: Speeches

McCain's Concession Speech

I've got to say that McCain did a really great job with this speech. He was gracious, considerate, and really showed the man that I remember seeing back in 2000.

Obama's Acceptance Speech

Obama did excellently as well. I thought the highest point of the whole speech was the end, when he brought up 106-year-old Anne Nixon Cooper, born the generation after slavery, who saw so much of American history happen.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

President-Elect Barack H. Obama

I don't think it's ever been a real secret that I've favored Barack Obama in this election. I like John McCain and I really liked John McCain in 2000 when he ran. I've tried to be as non-partisan on my blog as I can. I've tried to show different viewpoints on issues as much as possible. I'm someone who likes to hear both/all sides of an issue and so I've tried to present that as much as possible here.

This year though, I favored Obama. I'm not 100% with him. He and I disagree about abortion: he wants it more available than I do. He and I disagree on the role of government in the economy: he favors more involvement than I do, although I want more involvement than Greenspan favored. We agree on homosexual marriage, in not supporting it, but supporting civil rights for the unions between two homosexuals. We agree on Iraq, that we should transfer power back to the civilian government as quickly as possible and return our troops home expediently.

I voted for Obama in this election and I wait with bated breath to see the kind of president he will make. Great speeches don't make a great president. Great actions do, and I'm hopeful that he will be a president of great action and surround himself by the people that will enable him to make those decisions.

I know that many of my fellow Christian brothers and sisters are disappointed by his election, even appalled or disgusted. I respect that. I understand why people are disappointed in this, because of policy disagreements.

What I don't understand is the vitriol and hatred that many people who claim the name of Jesus are hurling at him. One of my former student's Facebook status last night read, "I can't believe America is choosing this racist Muslim piece of s***." Which appalled me. People who claim the name of Jesus are free to disagree, but to express anger in such a hateful way brings shame to the name of Jesus. And if I weren't a Christian and saw or heard this, there is NO WAY that I would want to be a part of that! Why would I want to become a Christian if it makes me a more hateful person? Please, let's think about how our words and actions come across to people. Let's think about how we are reflection the name of Jesus.

I will probably keep writing about politics over the next little while. I'm curious to think about why McCain lost. I'm curious to think about if this is the election that broke the back of the Religious Right. I'm curious for what Obama's election means about race in America.

But right now, we have a new President-Elect. And for the first time, it was someone who doesn't look like me. And if for nothing else, that's progress. That's history.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Colbert Election Prayer

Last night, on the Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert offered this prayer before the election. It's kind of the opposite of going into your closet to pray...

Monday, November 03, 2008

Presidential Campaign in 1 Minute

Seriously, what else do you need?

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at

Oh, and here's all you need to see of the debates.

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at

As one last point, here is the political journey of Donald Miller, author Blue Like Jazz. It's a very interesting perspective.
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