Friday, November 20, 2009

Why Ministers Matter and Don't

In one of my last blog posts, I talked about the Sunday before Josh Graves and David Rubio were installed as the teaching and preaching ministers at Otter Creek. It was one of those days that stuck so strongly with me, even almost 3 months later. And while I still remember Lee’s sermon as one of the best ones that I’ve heard, what has stuck with me is the sight of John Rucker, Howard Justiss, and Charlie Brandon standing up in front of the congregation. And it was on that day that I realized the level to which our paid ministers both matter a great deal and don’t matter as much as we sometimes think.

Here’s what I mean.

Otter Creek was without a paid pulpit minister for around a year, give or take. During that time, we heard from some incredible speakers. Otter Creek is a church blessed with people who can communicate the Gospel passionately and fervently, and we heard from a lot of them. And while there was a strong push and pursuit of new minister(s), one thing that didn’t happen was the work of the Kingdom of God at Otter Creek stopping. We still ministered to children, we still cared for the homeless and the prisoners, we continued worshiping God, and doing God’s work. Having one or two paid individuals in that role didn’t stop us from doing that.

And seeing those three lions of the congregation made me have another important realization. As much as I’ve grown to love and respect Josh over the last three months and David in the years he’s been at Otter Creek, the great likelihood is that they won’t be at Otter Creek their whole lives. In today’s more transitory preaching environments, most churches are fortunate to have one minister for more that 10-15 years. What does tend to last, and what has lasted at a congregation like Otter Creek are the people. The people who get down into the dirtiness of ministry and hard work, who laugh and cry and will be there no matter who is speaking from the pulpit, because they realize that Otter Creek is more than her preacher or worship minister. Are those people important? Yes, as I’ll say in a moment. But they are not so important that if they leave, Otter Creek falls apart. John Rucker, Charlie Brandon, Howard Justiss, and so many others have been through more preaching and teaching ministers than I can remember, but those transitions haven’t stopped them from continuing the long journey of discipleship. Nor should it.

But that’s also not to say that the people who preach and teach to us aren’t important. They are and should be, because what we should hear from them is that constant push to pursue Christ and the imitation of Christ in our lives. We should hear that we are not nearly as strong individually as we are together, empowered by the Holy Spirit. And we should hear that God didn’t offer us salvation to sit on our behinds and not do anything, but that we have work to do. We have a Kingdom to enact. But those people who preach and teach us, can’t do it for us.

Nor should we expect them to. We all partner together. Josh and David are no more or less gifted in serving God and working in the Kingdom than I am. But we can partner together. Minister don’t matter as much as we sometimes might think, but they matter, as do all of us, as we grow together in discipleship to Christ.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tokens: Hear the Plight

Hi all. A quick reminder that this Thursday is the final Tokens Show of the year, called Hear the Plight, which I've talked about before.



Even though I've only been able to go to one, I know the quality that goes on there, because of the people involved. Sheryl and I won't be able to be at this one, but having Scot McKnight, Ashley Cleveland, and Odessa Settles should make for a great evening. You can visit www.tokensshow.com for more info, but it will be a great night and if you're in Nashville, I highly recommend taking the time to attend.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

U2 in Atlanta

I don't have a lot of things on my list of things to do before I die. I'd like to go skydiving. I'd like to visit each continent. I'd like to write and publish a book.

Seeing U2 live was one of the things on my list and Tuesday night I got to accomplish that. Thanks to the kindness of some friends, the Weems, the two couples went down to Atlanta Tuesday night to see U2 play at the Georgia Dome.

When you experience something in life that you've ALWAYS wanted to experience, it's difficult to put into words what you've seen. On some level, you don't want to spoil it with words, because on some level that cheapens it. It almost tries to make something concrete that should be left more ephemeral, almost like trying to describe the wind or love. But I style myself a writer, so here goes.

It was one of the best experiences of my life. I've loved U2 since the Joshua Tree and I really like No Line on the Horizon a lot. Seeing and hearing and feeling songs like Magnificent performed live and then singing out I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For matched with Stand By Me is a live music performance that I haven't ever had whether in an arena or a bar or a small concert venue. U2 puts on a great show, but every now and then, amid the noise and rhthyms and lights and screens, there was a whiff of something else, something Higher and Truer than even music performed at a staggering level shared with 75,000 other people. I believe that somehow God was a part of that time, whether everyone recognized it or not. Was God Worshipped? Not by everyone, I'm sure. But when I sing,

"I believe in the Kingdom Come
Then all the colors will bleed into one
But yes I'm still running.
You broke the bonds
You loosened the chains
You carried the cross
And my shame
And my shame
You know I believed it"

I worship God.

And when I sing Amazing Grace with 75,000 other people before I sing about where the streets have no name, I worship God.

Friday, September 25, 2009

On Taking a Break

It's been kind of weird for me to not be blogging for the last little while. After having done it for basically 4 years straight, losing my "voice" so to speak has felt both disconcerting and freeing. Freeing because I don't feel like I have to have something to say about something every day, but also disconcerting because I don't feel like I have anything to say. When you write what is basically a journal for 4 years, filling it with your thoughts and opinions and the other mind rubbish that comes up, not having much to say feels strangely empty.

I suppose I could "assign" myself something, like I'll talk about each member of the Trinity for one post a week. Or I could examine the traditional 5 steps of salvation over the course of 5 weeks. I could probably come up with some decent insights and opinions about that, but again, that almost feels like busy work.

Maybe I'm thinking too highly of myself and/or expecting too much out of myself, wanting to have something deep and insightful each time I write something, which is both extremely narcissistic and unfair to myself as a writer.

So I guess I'll just wait for the Muse to strike me again. Maybe I'll hear something at Zoe next week that will push me to share a thought or two. Or maybe not. Be that as it may, I'm not abandoning blogging. I'm just waiting for it to have meaning for me again.

Peace.

Friday, September 11, 2009

New Chapter

Last Sunday, Otter Creek started the next chapter of her life as a church family with the installation of Josh Graves and David Rubio as the Preaching and Teaching Ministers. You can listen to the audio of the class, Josh's first sermon, and the installation.

I for one am pretty excited about this new chapter in Otter Creek's life. We have been blessed over the last ten years to have Tim Woodroof's teaching which brought many aspects of how Otter creek exists now and helped us shape a vision within God's Mission. We are now even more blessed to have two men that I know have a passion for leading us into deeper thinking about what it means to follow Jesus and to partner with God.

I don't see this as a new beginning for Otter Creek. It's simply the next chapter of the story. Josh and David are going to continue work that has been done at Otter creek for 80 years. I don't hold them up as men who will work miracles, but I believe that God can do great work at Otter Creek, if we as the members have ears to hear, hearts committed to Christ, and hands and feet that are willing to get dirty in the lives of people who need Jesus.

The Otter Creek Church is a Christ-led, Spirit-powered, Grace-motivated family of believers. Our mission is to:

* reach up through worship and holy living
* reach in by fostering community and maturity
* reach out through service, witness and influence

God is changing the world through us as we become Christ’s presence in this place.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Otter Creek Church of Christ: Neither a Conservative Nor a Liberal Church

Yesterday...

Yesterday was just one of those days you kind of want to hold onto. It was one of those reasons that I still count myself a member of Otter Creek and am happy to.

Let me start with the end of the Sunday morning worship service. We had a member of our congregation there who hadn't been there in a while. Howard Justiss is turning 98 years old today and attended yesterday for the first time in a while. He's cared for in a nursing home these days, but he is one of those "lions" of our congregation that provided the foundation for who we are today. He was one of the original movers and shakers of AGAPE, an adoption and counseling agency in Nashville. With him there, another one of our lions, John Rucker, got up and with his prerogative as a former elder and being in his 90s as well, he took the mic and gave a wondrous tribute to his friend Howard, also inviting up Charlie Brandon, ANOTHER Lion of Otter Creek. Seeing those three men up there reminded me about the roots of Otter Creek and how deep they run and how blessed we are to still have men like them among us.

But honestly that wasn't the best part of the morning. The best part of the morning was the sermon. Lee Camp, who I count as a friend, gave an incredible sermon. My initial reaction is to call it the best one I think I've ever heard, but I know my tendency to overreact to things while I'm still in the halo of them. It was called Neither a Conservative Nor a Liberal Church. If you've read Mere Discipleship (and if you haven't, why not?), then you'll be familiar with some of the concepts, but Lee took it in some new directions that just really worked and he was passionate about, all with a focus on us looking like Jesus personally and corporately. I highly, highly recommend listening to it.

The day closed out with an ice cream social and a night of worship with the Sanctuary band which was really excellent as well.

Otter Creek is entering a new phase of life with Josh Graves and David Rubio starting their preaching and teaching ministry on September 1. And thankfully, it won't be a "new" work. It'll be the continuation of work and preaching and teaching done at Otter Creek for 80 years. There are great foundations to that congregation and my hope is God doing greater things through that congregation than we can imagine.

Addendum: Cory Martin has transcribed part of the last portion of the sermon. http://murribu.blogspot.com/2009/08/neither-conservative-nor-liberal.html

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

On a break...

I obviously haven't done any serious blogging in a couple of weeks and I'm honestly not sure why. I posted on Twitter/Facebook last night that I can't decide if I have less to say, I'm less narcissistic than I used to be, both, or something else entirely.

So, I'm just posting to say that posting will probably become much more sporadic around these parts for the next little while. If something strikes my fancy, I'll bang it out. At some point, I'll probably be back on my regular posting schedule, but for now, I'm going to take advantage of the blogging writer's block and be on a break for a bit.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Give It Away and a Confession

Last Saturday, Kinsey and I travelled around with Doug Sanders to deliver our old crib to a family he'd come into contact with. It was a father, mother, and young baby. The apartment was very small and in a not-great neighborhood of town. What I loved seeing was how Kinsey interacted with the couple and their baby. For one thing, Kinsey would talk to a brick wall if she thought it was listening. But she really engaged them and really got into picking stuff out at the house that Otter Creek keeps for donated furniture. It was really great to see her get that engaged.

But Doug mentioned something really thought-provoking to me on his blogpost about that day. He said:
Since my interaction was more with the father and the neighbors who were asking what all was going on, I’ll have to talk to the baby bed assembler team and see what impressions they came away with from the day. For me, I saw the potential for relationships to be built.
And that really gave me pause. Because, you see, in all this time in the last few years that I've been exploring post-modern/emergent/whatever faith, it's primarily been a theoretical exercise. Sure there have been times that Sheryl and I have engaged with people outside of our comfort zones, but the truth is that we value safety, security and comfort, and being around the poor or the homeless typically (but not always) takes us out of those areas of our lives.

It's been one of the reasons that I've been wondering if my spiritual life feels a little stagnant right now. Almost like I know what I should be doing, but not really pursuing it. And part of the reason is that I don't really WANT too. When I do something, it's almost more out a sense of duty. That because Jesus commanded to care for the least of our brothers and sisters, that if I don't do it, I'm failing Christ.

I can say that enjoyed what I did that Saturday and I enjoyed being around the couple that we helped, and while I've thought about them over the last week, I can't say that I've had a strong desire to drive back downtown and see them again. I hope they are well. I hope he finds a job and he and his wife and child can stay safe.

And it's weird. On one hand, I can feel very self-satisfied with what I did that Saturday. I didn't just give the crib to Doug and say, "I hope you find someone who can use this." I went with him myself and put it together and took my daughter with me, exposing her both to service and selflessness. But on the other, it always feels like I could do more. I guess it's one of the reasons I admire people like Doug and several of the others at Otter Creek who have devoted themselves to the service of others that I can't see myself doing yet. Maybe I'm using the kids as an excuse or my drive for comfort. I'm not sure.

So that's my confession. I want to serve the poor, but on my terms. And if I don't have to live around them, that would be great too. Pray for me, that I would seek to follow Jesus and be open to the opportunities that he provides.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tent City Benefit with Phil Keaggy


Everyone is invited to a benefit for Tent City on Wednesday night at Otter Creek Church of Christ, 409 Franklin Road. There will be a reception for Tent City residents at 6pm, and then a concert by Phil Keaggy from 7 - 8:30. As a part of the evening as well, an art show of pictures taken of Tent City residents will be given to the Temple, a Jewish synagogue in Nashville, for display.

It will really be a great night and I hope as many of you as possible can be there.

A Night for Tent City - Ministry Moment Video from David Woodard on Vimeo.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Age of Entertainment: "Worship"

A couple of weeks ago, I started discussing the idea that we are living in an Age of Entertainment. I've talked about love in this age and now I want to think some about worship.

The first 7 months of 2009 have seen a lot of deaths of people considered famous.
  • Patrick McGoohan
  • Ricardo Montalban
  • Natasha Richardson
  • Bea Arthur
  • David Carradine
  • Ed McMahon
  • Farrah Fawcett
  • Michael Jackson
  • Billy Mays
  • Karl Malden
  • Steve McNair
  • Walter Cronkite
  • John Hughes
What was interesting to me surrounding these deaths was the amount of grief that accompanied some of them, particularly the death of Michael Jackson, which on one level is very understandable as is the grief surrounding any of these deaths. Because of their fame, they had a tendency to give people a common experience. People who loved Karl Malden's performances, people who loved Michael Jackson's music, people who loved watching Steve McNair play. They provided experience that many people could have together and so when they died, that grief provided another common experience for people to share.

What is curious to me is that it's very easy to transfer admiration into a form of worship. To so admire a person for what they are good at and ignore their flaws becomes dangerous, because it's so easy to put faith in a person and have that faith crushed. People believed that the hard-nosed admirable play of Steve McNair would transfer to him being a moral guy off the field as well, and that wasn't true.

The good thing about this is that it shows how much we want to be able to admire and look up to people, but it's so dangerous to put all our faith in people. People are screw ups. We fail. When we seek to worship something other than our Creator who made us, those pursuits ultimately become empty. Whether it's a person or a TV show or a piece of technology, those fall short. Devoting our lives to the pursuit of entertainment and pleasure falls short of devoting our lives to pursuit of what God wants us to be: people seek after him and look more like Christ.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

YouTube Thursday: Rick Astley Is In Nirvana

I'm a fan of mashups. Taking two unlike songs and putting them together to form something... new. Here's the latest one I found... It's equal parts brilliant and disturbing.

Friday, July 31, 2009

No Time to Blog

I realize the irony of blogging about having no time to blog, but there you have it. I'll resume the Age of Entertainment series next week, time willing, with Idol Worship.

Peace.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Big Week

Accomplishments for Connor this week:
  • Successfully transitioned to big boy bed and hasn't fallen out yet.
  • Successfully achieved most potty training.
  • Successfully signed up for soccer (pics of him in outfit to follow).
It's really been a big week for the kid. He's come a long way this summer, especially in a summer where he's had a broken leg and a tonsillectomy. And if it feels like I talk more about him than Kinsey right now, well, she's pretty static at this point. She's still working on some attitude and behavior issues, but 90-95% of the time, she's just a sweet girl. We're gearing up for the school year here soon and that will be an interesting transition since she's moving to a new one due to rezoning. It's been an interesting summer for the Wilson's and will probably continue so.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Age of Entertainment: "Love"

After the age of Enlightenment, this age will be known as the age of Entertainment.

We spend more in our lives on Entertainment than we do on just about everything else
for our media players, our computers, our TVs, our media collections. We pay our actors and sports players obscene amounts of money to entertain us on a regular basis. As a result that entertainment shapes us we get our ideas about life from our media and entertainment.
And it works. Media influences us. If it didn't why would there be commercials?

Because it shapes us, we believe what it tells us about life. And very prominently, love. We see couples on TV and movies and in our songs who are madly deeply in love, all the time. And that becomes our frame of reference. So we marry for what we think is love/romance/whatever, and when the reality of life doesn't match that expectation, people might try to make it. We might give it our best shot, But in a quick fix society, it's easy to take the quick fix.

It's deeply troubling to me that couples tend to spend much more time preparing for the first day of their marriage and not for the rest of their lives.

The truth of the matter is that love is there. It really is. It just doesn't look like what we see in the media. It can sometimes look like being so frustrated with your spouse that you can't see straight and deciding in that moment to work it out. It looks like being honest, even when the honesty is the worst thing you can do.

We allow ourselves to be shaped by what we choose, and many of us choose to allow the media to shape us.

And in fact, not only can the media be destructive in our mindsets about love, but just as much or more so about sex. That's the absolute worst thing about porn. Well, maybe not as bad as the degredation of the people involved in it, but the thing about porn is that it sets guys (and some girls) to have expectations about what sex is. And porn is the furthest thing from God's idea about sex.

Sex viewed from a pornographic standpoint is basically just mutual masturbation. And for a guy to go into a marriage expecting his wife to do what porn stars do is so incredibly destructive I can hardly put it into words. And regular media depictions of sex to a lesser degree, but still destructive.

We have to be responsible consumers of media. Not all media is bad and not all entertainment is bad. But as followers of Christ, we have to understand how the media affects us and our journey to being like Jesus. Sorry if this was a bit scattershot, but it's trying to get some ideas down...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

YouTube Thursday: Don Meyer at the ESPYs

Most award shows are stupid or irrelevant and the ESPY's on ESPN are no less so. An awards show for athletes? Seriously? Like winning championships and making stupid money for playing games not an award enough? Well, honestly the best thing about the ESPY's is the awarding of the Jimmy V award to a deserving sports figure for overcoming adversity and this year's award went to current Northern State and former Lipscomb University coach Don Meyer. It's a long video, approaching 10 minutes, but it very good and well worth the watch.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Turning Corners

Well, it looks like we're starting to turn some corners with Connor. I've talked about some of his issues with eating before. He's refused to eat food that he doesn't want to, going to far as to vomit it up.

As of the last couple of weeks, we've been able to bribe him with ice cream to get him to eat a couple of green beans, and that's a pretty huge deal for him. He still looks like he's swallowing that tastes like feet, but he's chewing them and taking them down, so we're just working through baby steps.

He's also really starting to do some serious potty training. We're getting pretty solid with #1 when he sits on the potty, even though he's not really able to discern the "pee feeling" yet. We bribed him with some "Cars" toys for that one, plus making a big deal about when he does it.

We've also procured a mattress and frame for his "big boy" bed that he'll be moving into very soon, as we take down his crib. It seems like this stage has lasted longer for him than it did for Kinsey, but that's probably just my bad memory. At any rate, big things are happening for Connor. He's adjusting well and really doing well. We're very grateful to have such a great kid, as well as his awesome big sister.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Age of Entertainment

In the last few weeks, we've been been bombarded by the deaths of "celebrities," people that we've basically ascribed fame to because of performance on stage, screen, or field of play. And what has become interesting to me over the course of this time is how much we're influenced and even driven by entertainment and our pursuits of entertainment.

As our society has become more and more a leisure-oriented one, for many upper- and middle-class people, we no longer work for survival. We work to provide for our needs, for certain, but so much of our dollars go out for entertainment and pleasure. It's become such an integral part of our lives that we can sometimes focus on our pursuit of that over and above everything else.

Now, some aspects of entertainment can be good. We can form some community based around common experiences: series finales, championships, etc. All of which is even more facilitated by the Web which allows fans of the third board op on the right from SportsNight to find and engage with other people of the same ilk. We can gain enjoyment and even happiness from these times. We can experience serious emotion from these times that we might not open ourselves up to.

But many times entertainment can also be a substitute for real engagement with others. And even worse, it can color our ideas about how the world can work in such warped ways that we buy into what we're being sold. And with entertainment, we're always being sold something.

Over the next couple of weeks, I want to explore how entertainment can affect our ideas of worship and of love and perhaps some other areas. I hope that in talking about this some, we can try to fight against some of the power that entertainment has over us, and figure out some ways to allow God back into those places.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

YouTube Thursday: You've Got Mail - the Suspense Thriller

In the spirit of 10 Things I Hate About Commandments from many moons ago, I offer this recut trailer of You've Got Mail, the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan romantic comedy. No, the other one. Yeah, the one without the volcano.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Healing

If you've been reading me the last month or so, you know that the Wilson's have suffered through a multitude of medical maladies.

I'm happy to say that as of today, Connor is done. His tonsils have been declared healed and as of yesterday, he has been released from his walking boot to resume his two normal three-year-old speeds: full speed or asleep. It was kind of funny to see him on a playground last night, limping a little bit as he remembers to use his leg. The transition hasn't been as tough yet as when he came out of his cast. Hopefully, it won't be.

On my side, I'm healing well from my knee surgery. I'm hoping to come out of my big brace this week, but that's up to my physical therapist and then get into something less constrictive. All in all, we're healing up rather well. Thanks again for all the thoughts and prayers on our behalf and especially Sheryl's.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Almsgiving

Like I said Monday, I'm crafting a couple of posts on some things and I'm waiting for them to feel right. So for today, I'm going to steal a question that was asked in the Otter Creek summer class based on Matthew 6. TJ McCloud (one of our ministers) referred to Jesus' thought that when we give to the poor we shouldn't let people see it, but do it in secret.

Matthew 6:1-4
1"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Based on that, should a Christian claim charitable contributions as deductions on their taxes?

Thursday, July 09, 2009

YouTube Thursday: Favorite McNair Play Ever

With no commentary on his off-the-field issues at this point, this is how I remember Steve McNair.



(And no, I couldn't find one in English)

Monday, July 06, 2009

Gone A Lot

Hi all.

Sorry I've been away from the blog for the last little while. With injuries and travels and such it's been a busy summer (as most of them are).

I'm still sitting on a post about how Christians can be more redemptive in our reactions to abortion, as well as with all the "celebrity" deaths recently, how our culture is in an "Age of Entertainment" where celebrities are the role models and the majority of our time is spent in pursuit of entertainment.

Those are both fairly involved and I want to craft them in the best way possible for discussion and thoughts.

Hope you all had a good 4th of July.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wilson Medical Saga

As I referred to a couple of weeks back, Connor both had his leg broken (by me) and had a tonsillectomy (not by me). And last Monday, I had knee surgery to repair my torn ACL, which I did not tear by going into a burning house and saving a mother and baby. Although if you want to believe that (or tell other people that you do, that's fine by me.)

Here's Connor recuperating from the tonsillectomy. The bucket beside him is what you think it would be for.

Me with my crown, badge, and trophy for being the #1 Dad on Father's Day.

Me with the kids before bed on Father's Day

Two Crips on the Couch together. That's me a couple of days after my surgery

Connor just before his cast came off on Monday.



The side view of his cast.

And now, here's the walking boot he's in.

Thankfully, all the recoveries are going well. Connor's basically over his tonsillectomy. There's still some healing going on. He's got two or three weeks in the walking cast. I've had all the stitches removed from my surgery as well as my brace has been unlocked and I'm officially bending at the knee. I started physical therapy Monday and will continue that for the foreseeable future. I'm eternally grateful for Sheryl suffering the medical drama that has been our lives for the last couple of months, and Kinsey has been an amazing little girl too.

We're thankful for God's provision in our life, both in a job that provides much-needed medical insurances, and for our church family and blood families being so close to pick up so much slack for our daily lives: meals, yard mowing, comfort, etc. We're getting better, thankfully, and hopefully that will continue.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Knee Surgery

For those of you who don't know, I had my knee surgery on Monday to repair my torn ACL. The surgery went well and I'm starting to put a little weight on it. I was fortunate that it was able to be done arthroscopically so my recovery time should be quicker than in other circumstances.

In addition to me, Connor's recovering from his tonsillectomy well and his leg is healing well enough that his cast should be able to come off next week.

Thanks for all the prayers for our family and please continue them for us, as well as Sheryl as she takes care of us.

Friday, June 19, 2009

"Love Your Enemies"

One of the hardest statements that Jesus ever made was his admonishment to love our enemies. To understand why this was so hard we have to remember the audience that Jesus was talking to. The Jews of Palestine at that point were an occupied people. Rome had been their overlords for decades and the dream of the Jewish people was for the promised Messiah to come and over-throw them.

So when Jesus tells his audience in the Sermon on the Mount that they are to love their enemies, pray for those who curse them, turn the other cheek and go the extra mile, he's not simply talking about loving and responding kindly to those who speak badly about us. What he is talking about here is a radical love that goes beyond loving those who love us; he's talking about loving people that seek our harm, that go against everything we as followers of Jesus might stand for.

In his book, The Sacredness of Questioning Everything, David Dark talks about perversion and not simply in the sexual manner that we mostly think about perversion in. He points out that anytime we reduce someone to a caricature or to a single dimension of who they are, we are perverting them, because we're not taking into account the whole person, created in the image of God. Whether that is a woman that we look at and think is "hot" or even someone we classify as a "terrorist," looking at a single aspect of someone and defining the person by that aspect is perversion. And the worst form of that perversion is deciding to hate someone based on that aspect.

And so, when Jesus calls us to "love our enemies," what he's calling us to do is to actively look beyond a person as an "enemy," and to see God in them, whether they do or not. Because it is only in love that a heart can be changed, and that is what Jesus came to do, to turn the hearts of people back to the God that created them.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

YouTube Thursday: Total Eclipse of the Heart (Literal Version)

A couple of months back, I posted a link to the literal version of the classic a-Ha video, Take On Me, which I found pretty hilarious. And last week, I came across the literal version of one of the greatest "HUH?" videos of all time.

Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Connor's Tonsils

On Monday, Connor had a surgery to take out his tonsils. He's had very bad sleep apnea as well as consistent sinus infections, and when we looked at his tonsils, he had very little room in between them because of their size, so out they came. Here are some pics.

Right after the surgery, still fast asleep.

Slowly waking up, but he really hated that gown, so off it came.

Eating a popsicle, getting ready to go home (he threw up the popsicle on the way home)

All in all, he was a real trooper. He drank well and as a result, we were able to get home by 1pm. He had a rougher day Tuesday, throwing up quite a bit, but by the afternoon had seemed to get over it. For those of you wondering about giving a child a tonsillectomy when he'd just had a broken leg, it actually isn't the worst time to have a broken leg. You don't want a child to be too active after the surgery, so with his leg, Connor can't be his normal active self. Now, I'm not advocating breaking your 3 year old's leg before surgery, but in this case it kind of worked out for the best.

I'd also ask for your prayers for me as I get knee surgery next Monday, but especially for Sheryl as she deals with me and Connor convalescing at the same time.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Connor's Leg

Connor's got broken by me on Wednesday at church on an inflatable slide.

Here's what his cast looks like.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

YouTube Thursday: Han Solo, PI

Seriously, this needs no introduction. Han Solo as Magnum PI.



And now the comparison to original.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Last weekend, Sheryl & I took the kids to see the new Disney/Pixar movie Up. In the grand tradition of the Pixar flicks, it is a masterful movie that combines storytelling with film-making to actually make you forget that you’re watching a cartoon, because you become so involved in the story itself.

The movie starts off with a depiction of the life of the main character, Carl, in 10 minutes. He meets the girl of his dreams as a boy, and they marry, planning great adventures with each other. But, as it does, life intervenes, and the plans they made fall by the wayside as they deal with those inevitabilities. The conclusion of that 10 minutes is some of the most heartbreakingly beautiful film making that I’ve seen in a long time.

As a result of life, Carl becomes a fairly standard Hollywood “crusty old man with a heart of gold,” but because of the investment of the first 10 minutes, the culmination of his conversion doesn’t seem Hollywood-ized. It seems like a natural part of his character coming out. He meets up with Russell an 8-10 year old Wilderness scout, Dug a talking dog, a strange chocolate-loving bird-creature, and an adventurer who is darker than he appears.

The voice acting is up to Pixar’s usual high standard with Ed Asner and Christopher Plummer in major roles (I actually would have like to have seen them enact one of their final scenes.) There are some genuinely funny moments and some fairly scary ones. Kinsey loved it, but Connor found some of the scenes with the guard dogs to be pretty scary.

It really is a great movie and yet another one to go into the pantheon that Pixar is developing. On one hand, you wonder when the magic is going to run out, but after so many incredible movies, maybe it never will.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Kinsey's Birthday

Here are some various pictures from the weekend's festivities

Kinsey with her pink iPod

With her books she received from Uncle Paul and Aunt Sarah

Blowing out her candles

Kinsey's cake

Birthday Sunday

Birthday Sunday 2

Kinsey's gift from Gee

Friday, June 05, 2009

Happy Birthday, Kinsey

No time for a bigger blogpost today. Look in the upcoming weeks for a post on the selfishness of Christians regarding abortion and why it's easy to love your enemies when you hold the bigger gun.

In the meantime, I'll simply wish my favorite daughter Kinsey a happy birthday. She's 8 today and just a joy in mine and Sheryl's life. I love her with all my heart, even when she makes me want to pull my hair out. Happy Birthday, Princess!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

You Tube Thursday: Jon Stewart takes on Dick Cheney... again

Former Vice-President Dick Cheney has been more vocal in recent months than at any point he was locked in his underground bunker feasting on the souls of the innocent (I might have made that last part of up).

Jon Stewart has always had a bit of an issue with Cheney. Here's one more example.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Dick (Uncut)
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorEconomic Crisis

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Dress Up Pictures

Kinsey got a hold of Connor tonight. And dressed him up.


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Timeout Pictures

Kinsey was put in timeout a couple of days ago.

She wasn't happy about it.


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Friday, May 29, 2009

Open Thread

So, I don't have any concrete thoughts on anything today...

What do you guys want to talk about?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Connor

Yesterday, we celebrated Connor's 3rd birthday. I'll have some video of that up later. But for now, I'll just link to some old birthday stuff, including the day he was born... It's hard to believe that time can go by so quickly.

Two Years Old

Just Born

Friday, May 22, 2009

Shaping vs. Defining

I had a recent discussion with a friend about failure, and it was interesting because in the course of this discussion, I realized many of the ways that we let our failures define us.

It’s so easy for us to look at the ways that we fail because those stick out to us. I remember the ways that I get angry at my kids, or losing a job, or reacting badly to someone at church. And if we’re not careful, those parts can truly come to define us and in many ways paralyze us because of that definition, particularly if we don’t feel that there’s anything else to define us besides our failures.

The flip side of that is completely forgetting our failures, ignoring them. And this is just as dangerous, because while obsessing over our failures is a waste of time and effort, forgetting them puts us in a situation where we don’t learn from them or become shaped by them. Because in my mind, there’s a difference between being shaped by failure and being defined by it. We should always look at failure and learn from that, be shaped by our previous experiences. But for those of us who claim Christ, that defines us. That makes us who we are. We push past our failures taking joy in Christ’s love and forgiveness, allowing us to continue to grow.

In life, like the Mythbusters say, “Failure is always an option.” But how we deal with it shows whether it will shape us or define us.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

YouTube Thursday: V (2009)

I loved the original V miniseries when I was a kid. Watched the TV show. Read the novels.



I hope this reimagining doesn't come across as cheesy as that looks now... 25 years later.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Knee

Sunday afternoon, I completely tore my ACL. This might be the story of how it happened.

-------------------

Having been disappointed in not being able to see Kinsey's dance recital (video coming later), I gave Connor to Sheryl and drove off, seeking solace in my solitude. I drove my '65 Mustang through the winding hills of Williamson County, breathing in the temporary freedom that the sound of the muffler gave me. Windows down. Radio off.

As I crested over a rise and began the descent, I looked to the left and saw black smoke rising from the trees. Thinking it was a farmer burning old leaves, I made to pass by, until I saw it smoke billowing higher and higher. I noticed that it was a large mansion burning. Not seeing anyone else around, I grabbed my phone to call 911. No signal. Stupid "no-cell-phone-tower-in-my-backyard" yuppies.

I tore down the driveway looking for any signs of people escaping. Nothing. Screeching the car to a halt, I jumped out and started calling out, "Is anyone there? Is anyone inside?" I couldn't hear anything, but I wondered if that was because the sound of the cracking fire that was drowning me out. I rushed up onto the massive porch, kicking the door in. The house was beginning to become engulfed in flames, but the bottom floor was only partially damaged. I rushed through, calling out for anyone there, but not hearing a reply. All of the bottom floor was sitting and dining and living rooms, so I knew if there was someone there, they must be upstairs.

Pulling up my shirt to cover my nose and mouth, I ran up the spiraling staircase taking the steps three at a time. Here, the flames were every where. As I yelled again, I heard faintly, "Help me! Help me!"

"Where are you?" I cried, looking and listening intently.

"Back here in the baby's room!" came the reply.

I looked down the smoky hallway, seeing "Molly" written in pink letters on the door at the end of the hall. I steeled myself and then dashed down to, shouting, "Get away from the door!" Flames rose around me as I ran my shoulder into it, not wanting to burn my hand on the door knob. I rushed in, seeing a woman holding an infant cowering in a corner away from the flames.

"It's ok, ma'am," I said. "We're going get out. Is there anyone else in the house?"

"No," she replied, through gasping breaths. "My husband and son are playing golf."

"Ok. Let's stand up. Give me Molly and we're going to have to run through the fire to get downstairs and outside." She handed the baby to me and took my hand. I looked at her. "On three. One... two... three...." and we took off.

The flames were continuing to grow and had now reached the bottom level, covering the walls of the foyer where the stairs led to. We quickly made our way down the stairs, and as we reached the last step, my shoe caught on the rug, twisting my leg, wrenching my knee, and felt a sickening pop. I cried out in pain as the woman stopped and looked back. "Here," I grunted through the pain. "Take Molly and get out of here!" She hesitated, then took the child and ran through the open door. I forced all my weight to the my left leg and dragged my right behind me. The flames were now on the stair behind me. I hop-dragged myself through the door, seeking the fresh air outside and willing myself to ignore the almost-unbearable pain. I made it through the door and in relief, collapsed down the stairs in a heap, looking up to see fire trucks coming down the driveway.

-----------------------

Or maybe I injured it playing softball trying to get back to second base to beat a tag.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Conflict

Kinsey dances. She's in a dance group and has been for almost 4 years now. She's good, she has fun, and loves doing it.

She had a recital planned for this Sunday night, 6pm. But unfortunately, the venue where it was scheduled double booked us with another group and the recital had to get bumped... to 10:30am, Sunday. Now, I realize that for some people this isn't a big deal, but that's right smack in the middle of church time. Time that's very valuable to my family, and time that I'm actually paid to be doing a job, particularly on a Sunday like this upcoming one, where we're going to be having a lot of moving parts. And so I have to be at church. And miss one of Kinsey's dance recitals for the first time.

You know it's weird, growing up Church of Christ, Sunday's were sacrosanct. You didn't mess with them and you don't schedule other activities during the worship time. And I understand that this isn't the fault of the dance group Kinsey is in, and that they took the only available time that they had, but I feel very conflicted by this. I almost feel like I'm choosing church over my daughter. To which some might say, "Right on, that's exactly what you're supposed to do. And by the way, why is your daughter dancing anyway?"

I guess I make these decisions everyday. I choose to go to work and make money to support my family instead of staying home with my family and not. I play softball and miss a bedtime on occasion. I make choices a lot that affect the time I spend with my family. This one just seems to be more intense for some reason.

I hope at some point if Kinsey feels some separation from faith or from the church that she doesn't look back on this and think, "Oh yeah, and there was that one time that Dad missed my dance recital and went to church." I don't think she'll see it that way. I know she knows that I love her intensely and that I want to be there.

Press Release on Otter Creek's New Preaching Team

Otter Creek, my home church, has released a press release on our new teaching team, Josh Graves and David Rubio.

New Preaching Team Joins Otter Creek Church

Brentwood church hires Josh Graves and David Rubio to reach post-modern generation and reach out to local community and beyond.

Nashville, Tennessee (Vocus/PRWEB ) May 15, 2009 -- The Elders of the Otter Creek Church in Brentwood, Tennessee, announce the hiring of Josh Graves and David Rubio as a new Preaching and Teaching Team.

We want to minister to needs wherever they are, but we are particularly interested in reaching our local community. These two young ministers are uniquely equipped to reach the post-modern generation within a few miles of our building that has not embraced Christianity.
Otter Creek is committed to addressing the challenges Christians face in today's culture. As a body, members are facing challenges hardly imagined a few years ago. And while Otter Creek is in what is known as the Bible Belt, on any given Sunday more people in this community are not in church than are in church.

These two very gifted, young ministers offer an opportunity to address these challenges in unique and creative ways. In addition to multiple services on Sunday, Otter Creek will be using new venues and new media to reach the post-modern generation. The Elders recently made new models for spiritual development through Bible study a priority, and this minister team is an important step in that direction.

Executive Minister Phil Gibbs says, "We want to minister to needs wherever they are, but we are particularly interested in reaching our local community. These two young ministers are uniquely equipped to reach the post-modern generation within a few miles of our building that has not embraced Christianity."

This new team is essential and necessary to the teaching ministry of the Otter Creek Church. Having these two men working together committed to God's Word provides an essential accountability and even motivation to pursue a deeper understanding of scripture and its application in the daily lives of the members of Otter Creek.

"In Josh Graves and David Rubio, we have two young, gifted communicators who can effectively connect the message of Jesus and God's eternal purposes with this generation and the generation to come in the greater Nashville area," says Fred Ewing, Otter Creek elder.

Elder Wayne Tomlinson includes, "The desire to meet our culture with the message of Jesus will place these ministers in many venues to share and teach the gospel of Jesus. The youthful energy of this minister team will provide leadership for the entire congregation as we strive to minister to the needs of our own members, others within the community, and people on the margins of society."

Starting at the end of the summer, Josh Graves will be the Teaching and Preaching Minister and will lead the Preaching and Teaching Team. Graves currently is the Teaching and Young Adult Minister at Rochester Church of Christ in Rochester Hills, Michigan. He earned his Master of Divinity at Lipscomb University and served as a Preaching Intern at Woodmont Hills Church in Nashville. Graves is working on a Doctorate of Ministry degree at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, and is in final edits of his book, Jesus Feast. Graves played college basketball at Rochester College, and is a Kansas Jayhawk fan. He is married to Kara and they celebrated the birth of their first child, Lucas, last week.

"Reaching a postmodern culture demands a fresh imagination. Relationships, grass-roots response, and risk-taking are in," says Graves. "I am eager to partner with David Rubio, the elders and entire ministry staff of Otter Creek church in this new chapter. Otter Creek has a long history of being Christ's church in the Nashville area. This new phase will be an energizing time."

Graves adds, "In an age when most Protestant churches are experiencing significant decline, Otter Creek has grown substantially over the last fifteen years. The leaders have a vision to continue to reach the surrounding community instead of playing it safe. That's why we're moving at this time in our life to join the Otter Creek journey."

David Rubio currently is the Youth Minister at Otter Creek Church of Christ. Rubio is beginning a 15-month transition from youth ministry to adult ministry. He will continue as the Youth Minister until the fall of 2010 when he will move full time into Preaching and Pastoral Care. Prior to his six years at Otter Creek, Rubio served in youth ministry positions at churches in Birmingham and Memphis. He earned his bachelor's degree at Harding University and recently completed a Master of Divinity at Harding Graduate School of Religion. Rubio was a track athlete at Harding, and is a Memphis Tigers fan. He is married to Becky and they have three children, Madeline, Benson and Charity.

"How difficult would it be for one preaching minister to find the energy to lead and teach effectively while also having the time to know and love the members of such a large congregation?" Rubio asks. "When you add the challenge of sharing the story of God at work in the world--our story--with the community around us, the task simply appears too much for a single preaching minister. I believe this team approach will actually help to energize our entire staff for the adventure of ministry both inside and outside our congregation."

Rubio adds, "Since my favorite thing about ministry is relationships, the partnership approach to the preaching ministry is a perfect fit for me."

Hiring a new minister is an important step for any church. Almost a year ago, Otter Creek set out on the journey to hire a lead minister. Initially a subgroup of the Elders led the process and last December the elders were joined by other members to form an Evaluation Committee. Both the Committee and the Elders, who had ultimate responsibility for the decision, have spent much time working through this process.

As leader of the preaching and teaching team, Graves will teach two or three times a month and Rubio will teach one or two times a month. In addition to Josh and David, the church hopes to continue to hear occasionally from gifted speakers like Drs. Lee Camp and John York as a part of a broader preaching and teaching team.

For more information about the Otter Creek Church, visit www.OtterCreek.org.

The Otter Creek Church is a Christ-led, Spirit-powered, Grace-motivated family of believers. Our mission is to:


  • reach up through worship and holy living
  • reach in by fostering community and maturity
  • reach out through service, witness and influence

God is changing the world through us as we become Christ's presence in this place.

Any thoughts?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

YouTube Thursday: Daily Show Goes After Pelosi

Typically the Daily Show is thought of as a liberal comedy show. So why didn't the universe implode back on itself when the show went after Nancy Pelosi and why she didn't speak out against torture when she knew about it?

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Waffle House
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor
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