Friday, February 27, 2009

John 15:18-25

So I thought I would start a new feature on Fridays when I talk about faith issues: troubling Bible verses. Of course, this opens a whole can of worms and even issues within the Old Testament, but we won't get into that now.

So here's the passage for today, John 15:18-25
18"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. 23He who hates me hates my Father as well. 24If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: 'They hated me without reason.'
I bolded the passage that I'm really thinking about here, which would seem to indicate that those who opposed Jesus would not be guilty of sin if he hadn't come. So, here's the question I get out of this: If someone never hears the name of Jesus, are they not guilty of sin? And would that correlate to a legal term where being "not guilty" is NOT the same as being "innocent"?

Just some random thoughts that I'm curious to hear others' perspectives on too.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

YouTube Thursday: Tokens Show

Last December, Sheryl and I got to go out and see the Tokens Show at Lipscomb University, directed by Lee Camp, of whom I've spoken fondly before. We really had a great time at this Prairie Home Companion meets theology discussion. Here are a couple of videos from it, and one from a previous show.

Joy To the World

Closing Monologue: Silent Night

Class and Grass

Tuesday, March 3, at 7pm, is the next Tokens Show, and it will feature will feature musicians Vince Gill, Sonya Isaacs, Odessa Settles, and Buddy Greene; interviews with Will Campbell (author of Brother to a Dragonfly) and Brad MacLean (on his work on death-row), and much more. Sheryl and I had an absolute blast at it and if you're in the Nashville area and can make it, I can almost guarantee that you won't be disappointed. Tickets are on sale at

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

PostModernism and the Financial Crisis

I was having a chat with a friend the other night and we got started talking about the differences in generations and especially my generation's tendencies toward cynicism. Tiffany made the point that our generation does not have the same loyalty to concepts that previous generations seem to have and that extends to the idea of American exceptionalism and perhaps even Christian exceptionalism (more on those another day though). We are prone to deconstruction, breaking down ideas an concepts to an almost ridiculous level.

But one of the issues in not having those beliefs is that we tend to focus on the negative, probably partially fueled by media coverage which tends to focus on the negative. And we can tend to get disillusioned easily. We focus on the corruption and the problems without thinking as much about the solutions. Deconstruction without the reconstruction.

And as Tiffany pointed out in our conversation, this is going to be one of the biggest problems in getting the economy back on track. Because we might not necessarily hold to the ideas that an unfettered free market and capitalism are the best ways to run an economy (as the last 8 years seem to have indicated), we deconstruct those ideas and in the best cases, reconstruct around them. And that seems to be what Obama is looking at doing. Now, obviously people with ties to the older systems are going to be put off by this, and more "postmodern" observers will be suspicious about just about anything, perhaps even especially something coming from the government, because even with all the talk about hope and change, Obama is still a politician and on the trust level, politicians are about on the level of pond algae these days.

Ok, I think I've rambled enough.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fun Pictures

Friday night, Sheryl and Kinsey headed out for a girls night together and Connor and I hung out at home and watched Cars. But Sheryl snapped a couple of pictures before they left.

I thought when we had Kinsey that I'd never really be able to love a child as much as her, but I was so, so wrong. Love gets multiplied as we've had kids, not divided. Attention? That can get divided, but not love.

Sunday, we put Connor in an outfit, that my mom made. Now, I'll brag. My mom is quite the seamstress. There are pictures of me around somewhere in clothes that she made back when I was a kid and Kinsey wore dresses that Mom made all the time.

However, it can be hard to make boys' clothes that don't look... girly sometimes. But Mom really pulled it off with this train outfit that she made.

Yep, that's his name on the overalls.

And yes, Kinsey lost her other front tooth on Friday night when out with Sheryl.

Of course we had to get Sheryl into these pictures too.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Doug Sanders

Over the last few years, I've mentioned Doug Sanders a few of times on this blog. He used to be the Vice-President of Ice Cream at Purity Dairies and left that to become a minister on staff at Otter Creek. As a part of that, he began doing a lot of work in benevolence and helping the people who can't help themselves. I think he's done some incredible things for people and for helping Otter Creek see what can and needs to be done.

But the truth is that not many people know about what he does. And so to help with that, Doug's started a blog called A Day in the Life of a Creative Radical. He's going to talk about the people that he works with on a regular basis and how he deals with the situations that come up from dealing with "the least of these." And hopefully, people will see an opportunity where they can help as well.

Take a look. Add it to you bookmarks/favorites and/or your RSS Readers. If you go to Otter Creek, take some time to read and see what Doug does and thank him for the work he does in our community and ask where he needs help. If you don't, take some inspiration from him. He's not perfect but he has been someone who is putting the words of Jesus into action to help bring a little bit more of God's Kingdom to fruition.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Phil's Faith

It's been an interesting week in the life of my faith in the blogoverse and Facebook. From last week's post on the phrase Intellectual Agnostic, Experiential Believer through Facebook/Twitter statuses, I've been questioned a lot on what I believe and why I believe it. It's almost felt like that while my faith hasn't been on trial, the reasons that I give for my faith are on trial and for some, those answers have been lacking in substance or a firm foundation.

I guess I've found it interesting that it seems like if I had said that I experienced a profound moment of God's love and grace in my life and accepted that love and grace, that that might have been a more plausible answer than saying that in the face of no empirical evidence I've made a decision to have faith. So I guess I should explain one of the answers I gave.

Do I believe that my faith is based on where and how I've grown up? To a great extent, yes. Now, does that make my faith greater or less than someone who converts from another religion? I don't think so. I believe that God can use a person's background to bring them to faith whether brought up in another religion or in Christianity. But from a sociological level, I don't think I'm off base to say that a reason that I have faith is because I grew up in the United States into a Christian home to parents that got divorced while attending the church that I have attended for 31 of my 37 years of life. I think God has used all of that to bring me to faith.

Do I believe in Jesus and rest in the Grace provided through Him? Yes. Do I understand it? No. Do I sometimes think it's unfair (at least how grace is typically understood from an orthodox Christian perspective)? Yes. Does that sometimes make me feel like God is unfair? Yes, sometimes it does, and so sometimes I wonder if God will make a special disposition for those "righteous sinners," and to be perfectly honest, I hope God will. Do I KNOW that? No, I don't. Do I KNOW that God has provided for me and other Christians through Christ's sacrificial and victorious death and resurrection? No, I don't know that from any intellectual sense, but I believe it to be true.

Which leads to another question... do I believe that faith and intellect are separate? NO. I do not. I have read too much and listened and studied to people much smarter than I am to believe that I have to turn off my brain to have faith.


There are certain leaps of faith that have to be made that cannot be confirmed from a scientific or empirical standpoint in order to believe in a Supernatural being that loves us more than we will ever understand and sent Jesus the Son to be the example of what it truly means to be human and to die and rise again, leaving the Holy Spirit to guide us in paths of truth. That requires a leap of faith and if I have a straight intellectual conversation with an atheist, I don't think I can prove any of that to him or her. It doesn't mean that I don't believe it or try to live my life as though that were true. But as the Hebrews writer astutely pointed out, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen."

But realizing all of that and also recognizing the tenuous nature of my faith at times (like perhaps now), it makes me resonate and identify with a song by Caedmon's Call back in 1999 off their 40 Acres CD.
Sometimes I believe all the lies
So I can do the things I should despise
And every day I am swayed
By whatever is on my mind

I hear it all depends on my faith
So I'm feeling precarious
The only problem I have with these mysteries
Is they're so mysterious

And like a consumer I've been thinking
If I could just get a bit more
More than my 15 minutes of faith,
Then I'd be secure

My faith is like shifting sand
Changed by every wave
My faith is like shifting sand
So I stand on grace

I've begged you for some proof
For my Thomas eyes to see
A slithering staff, a leprous hand
And lions resting lazily

A glimpse of your back-side glory
And this soaked altar going ablaze
But you know I've seen so much
I explained it away


Waters rose as my doubts reigned
My sand-castle faith, it slipped away
Found myself standing on your grace
It'd been there all the time

(Chorus repeated)
I don't know if any of those answers are going to be satisfying to people. What I will say is that this conversation has caused me to think deeper about my faith than I have in a while and for that, I'm grateful. If you feel my answers don't show enough faith, pray that my faith will be strengthened. If my answers have helped in anyway or you identify with them, I pray that God walks with you and brings you faith.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Slight Thursday Departure

Guys don't have as many choices as ladies when it comes to a change in visual style. We typically do our hair the same way for years, mainly because it's harder to change that without a trip to the barber/haircutter/stylist. So one of the few things that we can that women can't is grow facial hair, which I have done. Now typically I haven't been able to keep my facial hair that I've grown because Sheryl didn't like it and let's face it, she has to look at my face a lot more than I do. But for some reason this time, she's liked and so I've kept it.

So here's the before...

And here's the after/Evil Twin/Mirror Universe one...

Both devilishly handsome, of course, just one more hirsute than the other...

Here ends the update on Phil's facial hair.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Random Pic

One quick note for those interested. The conversation from Friday's blogpost has continued in the comments, mainly between myself and Father Thomas McKenzie, although Dr. Lee Camp has made a cameo appearance as well.

Friday night, we went to a wedding. Yes, on Friday the 13th. And the couple was married at 6:13. They are obviously not the superstitious sort.

At any rate, it was on the east side of Nashville and since Connor had had a late nap and a good nap, we decided to go downtown and walk on the pedestrian bridge that crosses the Cumberland River. And I got a couple of pictures with my iPhone (hence the middling quality).

Here is Connor with one of our favorite people, Melody.

Here are the kids on the pedestrian bridge with Nashville in the background.

I thought this was the best one that I got that night. This is a shot of the river with the bottom of the bridge reflected in it. I just thought it was a cool look.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Interesting Posts

Over the last two years or so, I've taken a little of a sabbatical from deep theological reading and some of the engagement of such ideas. Partially because I got a bit burnt out from how deep I got into it in the early 2000s (Aughts? Zeros?), but also because I've been pretty busy. If you've been a regular reader, you might have felt that somewhat in my Friday posts.

I'm starting to get back into it some and doing some thinking so here are a couple of blog posts I read today that got me thinking.

Scot McKnight: Who are the NeoReformed?

This one might need a little explaining. People who subscribe to Reform theology (also called Calvinism [mainly by people who aren't Reformed]) are growing in numbers and in voice in the wider Christendom conversation. Scot McKnight talks about a section of that group that he dubs NeoReformed. I wonder if he's intending the thought bridge between NeoReformed and NeoConservative that I'm seeing the positive and negative associations that can come from that.

Thoughts on Mark Driscoll...While I'm Knitting

Mark Driscoll is someone that I would consider within that NeoReformed movement. He's abrasive, extremely orthodox, and also runs a strong and growing church in Seattle (he's Mark the cussing Pastor in Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz). Richard Beck, head of the Psychology department at Abiliene Christian University, has written some interesting thoughts on Driscoll and what Driscoll calls the "chickifying" of church leaders. It's long (as most of Beck's posts are), but really has some very good thoughts.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Intellectual Agnostic, Experiential Believer

On Monday, I mentioned that Lee Camp, who taught at Otter Creek on Sunday morning, had described himself as an intellectual agnostic, but an experiential believer. That was something that I found to be a very comforting admission, because I also find myself in a place like that more often than I care to admit. Faith for me can often come down to a choice. With no empirical reasons for believing in the existence of God, I have to rely on what I can only call the experiences of my life so far to continue in that belief. Now, what does that mean if I'd been born into a family that had no belief or into a Muslim family or Buddhist one? I don't know.

What I do know is that in spite of the lack of empirical evidence, I do believe in God. I do believe in and try to follow Jesus. I try to bear the fruit with strength from the Spirit. And I try to live out the Good News and talk about what that means when the situation arises. If that's all being raised a certain way and the threads of coincidence weaving its way through my life, so be it. I'm willing to accept that.

But if it's something more and I can help be a part of the continuation of God's plan and the work that Jesus did during His time on Earth, that's where I want to be.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Caption This Picture

As a Red Sox fan, I'm legally and morally obligated to take advantage of the A-Rod steroid scandal (conveniently ignoring the fact that A-Rod almost came to the Sox in 04).

So, caption this picture and be funny, but when you do, please don't use humor enhancers.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Simple Joys

There are some very simple joys in my life right now.
  • Goodbye kisses from Sheryl, Kinsey, and Connor
  • Getting to go outside and play kick/throw the ball with the kids when I get home from work.
  • Reading in Kinsey's room at bedtime while she's reading her latest "Magic Treehouse" book.
  • A kiss from Connor at night and hearing him say, "I awake" in the morning (although I also can hear "Go 'way")
  • Saying, "Good Night, I love you, I'll see you in the morning" to Kinsey.
  • Hearing Connor say, "Wook at dat!" when he's showing something to us.
  • Getting to do this with Connor (thanks for the pic, Amy)

  • Holding Sheryl's hand
  • Sharing a look with her where neither of us have to speak but we just know what each other is thinking
And the truth is, that those simple joys are really the best ones in my life right now.

Monday, February 09, 2009


I'm starting to feel like a broken record, but we've been really blessed/fortunate/etc. at Otter Creek for the last little while with our guest speakers and yesterday was no exception. Lee Camp spoke again, this time on Evil Days and our response to them. It was thought-provoking and challenging, as Lee is most times that I hear him. You can listen to it here:

One of the many interesting things that Lee said in the sermon was a self-description that he's come up, but is still uncomfortable with: an intellectual agnostic, but an experiential believer. How does that strike you? Does that description fit you at times? Is Lee putting an over emphasis on the intellectual side of life (as academics can sometimes do) vs. the spiritual side of life? Or is Lee acknowledging the intellectual side of the life that doesn't often get paid attention to in our houses of faith very often. Just wondering how that strikes people.

Friday, February 06, 2009

God in the White House

Last night on the Daily Show, Jon Stewart hosted author Randall Balmer, author of the book God in the White House, in a very interesting interview, that you can watch here.

There was a really fascinating point about 5 minutes in. Balmer states that Americans want to know about their presidents' faith because for many
"religion is a proxy for morality. So what we really want to know is 'Are they moral? Are they good people?' And the only way we can frame the question is to ask, 'Do they go to church? Are you a religious person?' And I think the problem is that we as the voters take those kind of blithe responses at face value and we should interrogate those claims. I thought many times over the last eight years, as we've been dealing with our travails as a nation, what if someone had followed up with George W. Bush, when he declared that Jesus was his favorite philosopher, and said, 'Governor Bush, your favorite philosopher calls on his followers to be peacemakers, to turn the other cheek, to love their enemies, to care for the least of these. How will that affect your policies as president?'"

It's a really interesting thought and it goes a little back to my idea that no nation can truly be a Christian nation. A nation's primary concern has to be for self-preservation and the protection of its own citizens. A Christian's primary concern has to be about others' well-being and bringing people into a reconciling relationship with God through Jesus, as well as self-denial and the other virtues. Can a Christian be in a political office? I think so, but there has to be a recognition that many of the ways that we try to preserve this nation go against what Jesus taught and exemplified for us. Former Vice-President Dick Cheney basically stated this explicitly in a recent interview with "Protecting the country’s security is 'a tough, mean, dirty, nasty business,'" he said. “These are evil people. And we’re not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek.'" It's almost like we want His salvation but not his life.

I could be wrong about all that and am willing to consider it, but that's where I'm thinking right now.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

YouTube Thursday: Scrubs Safety Dance

I've stated before my love for the show Scrubs (especially the first 3-4 seasons), as you can see evidenced here.

This video takes one of my favorite snippets and adds many if not all of Turk's dances to it. Completely hysterical.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Too Much Obama?

President Obama has been in office for 2 weeks now and is already fighting an uphill battle with Congress and the American people on the economic stimulus/spending package, not to mention having at least three of his Cabinet level nominees hit with tax problems, causing two of them to step down. And in the last two weeks, it seems like President Obama has given more interviews than President Bush did in his entire eight-year tenure. But I wonder if Obama is swinging to the other extreme than Bush, making himself TOO seen. I appreciate the interviews that he did last night, admitting basically what was his mistake about not vetting his candidates properly, which is also something we heard too little of from the previous administration. But I think he has to be careful in being seen too much.

As Shakespeare wrote in Act 3, Scene 2 of Henry IV, Part One concerning the previous king Richard II
God pardon thee! yet let me wonder, Harry,
At thy affections, which do hold a wing
Quite from the flight of all thy ancestors.
Thy place in council thou hast rudely lost.
Which by thy younger brother is supplied,
And art almost an alien to the hearts
Of all the court and princes of my blood:
The hope and expectation of thy time
Is ruin'd, and the soul of every man
Prophetically doth forethink thy fall.
Had I so lavish of my presence been,
So common-hackney'd in the eyes of men,
So stale and cheap to vulgar company,
Opinion, that did help me to the crown,
Had still kept loyal to possession
And left me in reputeless banishment,
A fellow of no mark nor likelihood.
By being seldom seen, I could not stir
But like a comet I was wonder'd at;
That men would tell their children 'This is he;'
Others would say 'Where, which is Bolingbroke?'
And then I stole all courtesy from heaven,
And dress'd myself in such humility
That I did pluck allegiance from men's hearts,
Loud shouts and salutations from their mouths,
Even in the presence of the crowned king.
Thus did I keep my person fresh and new;
My presence, like a robe pontifical,
Ne'er seen but wonder'd at: and so my state,
Seldom but sumptuous, showed like a feast
And won by rareness such solemnity.
The skipping king, he ambled up and down
With shallow jesters and rash bavin wits,
Soon kindled and soon burnt; carded his state,
Mingled his royalty with capering fools,
Had his great name profaned with their scorns
And gave his countenance, against his name,
To laugh at gibing boys and stand the push
Of every beardless vain comparative,
Grew a companion to the common streets,
Enfeoff'd himself to popularity;
That, being daily swallow'd by men's eyes,
They surfeited with honey and began
To loathe the taste of sweetness, whereof a little
More than a little is by much too much.
So when he had occasion to be seen,
He was but as the cuckoo is in June,
Heard, not regarded; seen, but with such eyes
As, sick and blunted with community,
Afford no extraordinary gaze,
Such as is bent on sun-like majesty
When it shines seldom in admiring eyes;
But rather drowzed and hung their eyelids down,
Slept in his face and render'd such aspect
As cloudy men use to their adversaries,
Being with his presence glutted, gorged and full.
And in that very line, Harry, standest thou;
For thou has lost thy princely privilege
With vile participation: not an eye
But is a-weary of thy common sight,
Save mine, which hath desired to see thee more;
Which now doth that I would not have it do,
Make blind itself with foolish tenderness.
And I know that probably won't mean much to many of you, but Henry is basically telling his son, Hal/Prince Henry that if you're TOO common, people won't respect you or the position. That's what happened to Richard, and while I welcome the openness that President Obama brings to the role of President, I hope that we don't get so used to seeing him that hearing from the President becomes habit rather than an important event.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

25 Random Things About Myself

There's a thing going around Facebook where you list 25 things about yourself. So I'm double posting it here.

1) I have lived my entire life in Nashville. I was born in the old Saint Thomas hospital and have lived my entire life in the southern and eastern part of Nashville. I love this city, the size, the general feel of the people here, just about everything about it. And as a result I've never really wanted to move. I think I could live in a big city and were I younger, I might give New York City a shot, but as it is, I love living here.

2) I have attended Otter Creek Church of Christ for 31 of my 37 years of life. Except for 6 years where I either didn't attend church or attended Belmont Church, I've gone to Otter Creek the entire time. One of the things that I really love about it is the sense of tradition that I have from going there. My great-grandfather was the first preacher in the Granny White building and my grandparents went there, as well as my parents for a time. I love how we honor tradition while still pushing the envelopes of what it means to be Church of Christ and a Christian.

3) I taught high school English for 6 years at Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School for the Health Sciences and Engineering. I loved this job. I got to teach some of the best kids in one of the best schools in the city. We talked about literature, of course, but talking about that led us into discussions of race and life and politics and religion and all that other stuff you're not supposed to talk to your students about, but that's what they want to talk about. I had a great time doing it (except for grading papers) and miss it on occasion.

4) I'm married to my best friend. I know that sounds cliched but the honest truth is that Sheryl is the person that I want to spend most of my time with/person with whom I want to spend most of my time. When something good or bad happens, she's the first one I want to talk with about it. We were friends before we dated and that blossomed into the love we share today. I don't find myself missing the fluttery feelings of first love because as important as those are at the beginning of a relationship, they fade. And if that's what we lock into as love, then we're just fooling ourselves. So I love being married to my best friend.

5) I have a bad temper. When I was a teenager and adolescent, I used to lose my temper all the time. Got into fights, argued, all that stuff. As I got older, that fuse became longer and longer, but I find that it gotten shorter with my kids as I have pretty high expectations for them and their behavior. I'm working on controlling it as much as I can, but some days it's very, very hard.

6) My parents are divorced. When I was 11, my parents got divorced and 6 months later, my mom remarried. Now, my mom and dad's relationship had been over a long time before the divorce was finalized, but that was obviously a difficult time. As a result, my mom was also disfellowshipped from Otter Creek, because the divorce was not Scriptural (because of marital infidelity on my dad's part).

7) After leaving teaching, I was a technical writer. What that really means is that I helped write frequently asked questions for websites, as well as help files and such. It was a great way to get into the business world and honestly it was a place where my experience as a teacher gave me a great amount of credibility. It was also something I didn't like a lot, because it was very formalized in the writing and grammar, things that I really didn't like even when I was teaching.

8) My technical writing led to my work now as a usability engineer/user interface designer. One of the things you do as a technical writer is look for problems that people might have with software and anticipate the problems they'll have with it and write solutions around it. What I do now is design the software to not have those problems in the first place. It's a great job that feeds both my creative side and geeky side. Plus, I'm pretty good at it and enjoy it, both of which are nice bonuses.

9) I've been out of the US 3 times. Once to Canada on a brief business trip, and twice to Great Britain. The first time was in 2000 when Sheryl and I decided that we were going to do a trip like this before we had kids and just had a blast doing it. We spent 2 weeks going from London to Dover/Canterbury to Oxford to Edinburgh (Scotland) to Aberdeen (Scotland) to Inverness (Scotland) and back to London. It is literally in the top 5 memories of my entire life, behind our wedding and the births of our kids. The 2nd time to England was on a mission trip to Loughborough in 2004. We took Kinsey with us to go work with a church there, and Connor came along too, but he was in utero. This was also good, but very different in feel obviously. Through it, we came to know many people that are very close friends with us today and who are in our Life group/small group.

10) I love Jesus. Again, I know that's a cliche kind of thing to say, but I really do. Not just because of the salvation aspects in which I firmly believe, but also the example of his life. Too often it's easy for us to focus on the sacrificial atoning nature of his death and resurrection and the cute "golden fleece diapers" aspect of his birth, and forgetting that there was a life of 33 years in between those two where Jesus said some really important things. I love how Jesus tweaked the noses of the established authority while still loving people and still getting frustrated as all heck with them.

11) My favorite Old Testament verse is 1 Samuel 6:7 "But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things human beings look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." I had this one read at my baptism and it was a theme verse for me. I had horrible self-esteem as a child, and so it gave me comfort that God didn't look at my unattractive outside, but what was inside.

12) My favorite New Testament verses are Philippians 2:5-11: 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had:

6 Who, being in very nature [a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature [b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a human being,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

13) Sheryl and I have lived in the same house for the last 12 years. We moved in just before our first anniversary and rented from my parents for the first year, then bought. Several times, I've really wanted to move and get something with just a bit more space, particularly in the master bedroom and master bath area, but it's not too bad right now.

14) I can quote about 90% of the original Star Wars movie and probably 75% of the Princess Bride. My movie-going childhood was defined by Star Wars and the original trilogy. I also had an LP called the Story of Star Wars that had most of the dialogue, music, and sound effects and I listened to that over and over. My quotability of the Princess Bride comes just from loving that movie and loving the complete over the top cheesiness of it being done with complete seriousness. "Let me esplain.... No, there is too much, let me sum up."

15) My ability to hold vast amounts of useless knowledge in my brain makes me very annoying at trivia games. I don't have a photographic memory, but I can hold weird bits of knowledge in my head for a long time. Like, I can remember that John McTiernan was the director of Die Hard 1 & 3 and the directory of Predator, while Renny Harlin directed Die Hard 2, the Long Kiss Goodnight, and Cutthroat Island, the latter two starred his wife Geena Davis with Samuel Jackson and Matthew Modine (respectively). I don't know why I know that. But I do and when I play trivia games, it can be annoying, but my competitive drive makes me want to win every time. Hence, I don't play trivia games that often.

16) I'm a gadget/electronics nut. I love grown up toys. I love the cool iPhones and big screen TVs and the whiz bag things that we can do with gadgets now that would have seemed like science fiction 20 years ago. I like those things, but that can also get expensive so I try not to indulge that often, but on occasion I'm weak and give in.

17) I love snowboarding. For the last several years, I've gone out to Colorado with my parents and Kinsey to go skiing, but 2 years ago, I was introduced to snowboarding and I don't see myself returning to skiing anytime soon. For one the boots are much more comfortable. Secondly, it's an amazing amount of fun. I was never a skateboarder, but snowboarding is an incredible amount of fun. I never had to take formal lessons. My mom and dad showed me how to heel and toe turns, but beyond that, it's just been really natural for me. And I'm looking forward to going back soon.

18) I've always wanted to write fiction. Blogging and design work feeds a certain part of my creativity, but from a very early age I wanted to write fiction. The problem again goes back to my self-esteem about what I can do. A lot of the fiction that I've written has felt trite and pedestrian and so I haven't really devoted much time or effort to it. It's a confidence issue, as well as pushing past the crap that I would have to write before I get to something that might be decent.

19) I do tech/audio-visual work at Otter Creek and occasionally for the Zoe Group. About 6 and a half years ago, I started to doing tech work for Otter Creek as a part time job. It's something that I mostly enjoy, but I get a little tired of it sometimes. It can be a little more stressful than I would like it to be, but that's because I hold myself to such a high standard when it comes to mistakes. I coordinate and run both the sound board and the MediaShout (visual) work for Otter Creek. Honestly, while I'm good at both, I enjoy running MediaShout more than sound. Running sound can still occasionally feel like I'm in someone else's shoes, while I feel right at home running MediaShout, behind a computer doing visuals.

20) I've run sound at the Ryman Auditorium. A few years back, the Zoe Group partnered with the Temple Church praise team to do a Thanksgiving service at the Ryman Auditorium and because Brandon Scott Thomas felt comfortable with me, I ended up running the sound for the night. It was a very scary, but really cool experience.

21) My favorite literature writer is William Faulkner. I discovered Faulkner in 10th grade English when we read As I Lay Dying which I didn't understand at all. Stream of consciousness... point of view... perspective... My mother is a fish... None of it made sense. Then we read The Unvanquished in 11th grade and I got him quite a bit more. Then in 12th grade, I read Light in August, The Sound and the Fury, and Absalom, Absalom, as well as many of his short stories, and I discovered someone who finally didn't make me feel like an idiot for claiming to be a Southern. He was honest about the racism, and unflinching in his depiction, while also not condone it, but recognized it as a part of the Southern Heritage, never to be re-enacted. As a result, I had my students read him too.

22) I love video games, particularly shooters and driving games, and most especially, music games. When I got my Xbox, I made a pact that I wouldn't play while the kids were awake. I've gotten a little bit away from that and I'll play some driving games with them, and especially Rock Band where Kinsey and Sheryl will play drums and bass as well. It's incredibly fun. Plus we play it when our Life group comes over, after we get done with the Bible study and prayer time.

23) I do the laundry in our household. When Sheryl and I got married, we divided up the household chores. I took the outside of the house (excluding the garden) and she took the inside (excluding the laundry). Now you might think, "Why the laundry, Phil?" Because I can sit on my butt and watch TV while I fold clothes. It was a pretty easy decision. Now, that of course is not to say that I don't help out with cleaning the house, or Sheryl doesn't help with the laundry, but that's where the responsibilities tend to lay.

24) I would like to preach one sermon at Otter Creek. It sounds dumb, but I almost feel this "genetic" imperative to preach a sermon at Otter Creek, because of my great-grandfather preaching there. Now, I of course would like to be asked to speak on my own merits and not as a "pity" preacher, so it's not likely to happen, but I think it would be really neat to do that.

25) I don't know for certain what the afterlife will bring. I'm placing my faith that what Jesus said is true and that my desire to be as much like him as I can will put me in a place to be with him in eternity, saved by his grace. I don't know what that means for everyone else in the world, past, present, and future. But I feel like my calling is to show love to others and allow myself to be loved by them and by God. If I can somehow pull that off here on earth, perhaps God can show a little bit through me to them.

So that's 25 things. If you've lasted this long, I'd buy you a drink (non-alcoholic) but with the economy the way it is... well, you'll just have to be happy with a hearty congratulations.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Dry Bones

Once again, I find myself in the position of wanting to recommend a sermon at Otter Creek. This one was by Lee Camp on the Exekiel passage about dry bones. As with David Rubio's sermon last week and John York's the previous two weeks, this one was also excellent and thought-provoking.

You can also get the book Night by Elie Weisel that Lee mentioned here: I really need to read this one at some point.

Lee has also written a great book called Mere Discipleship that you can get at You really need to read this one if you haven't.
Template Designed by Douglas Bowman - Updated to Beta by: Blogger Team
Modified for 3-Column Layout by Hoctro