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


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


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

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
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Friday, May 08, 2009

Childlike Questioning

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been reading David Dark's The Sacredness of Questioning Everything, which is an excellent read and yesterday, I had the opportunity to listen to him speak at the Nashville Cohort. It was great to interact with him, especially as someone else who has grown up in the Church of Christ and has not allowed that upbringing to shackle him into a particular way of thinking, but to push and expand beyond that.

One of the questions brought up at the Cohort yesterday was about how we could have a "childlike" faith and still question things, i.e. doesn't having childlike faith mean you don't question? And I thought about my kids, and how mine and Sheryl's lives are full of questions. A lot of those questions are asking us to do things for them, but a lot of them are also about why things are the way they are, questions about life, questions about God. And it struck me that the reason they ask us those is because they trust us with the answers, even if the answer is sometimes, "I don't know." They have a basic trust that when we give them and an answer they might not understand, but they trust that we're not lying to them.

I don't think childlike faith means having no questions of God. God is big enough to handle our questions. I think childlike faith means asking questions all the time, to constantly be seeking, never thinking that we've arrived at all the answers. Sometimes it just means the questions have gotten bigger.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

YouTube Thursday: Scrubs Finale

I've extolled my love for Scrubs many times here. And dangit all if I didn't forget to record the finale last night.

So in my web browsing today, I found this, the final moments from last night's finale of Scrubs.

And yes, I got teary, because it's perfect. A perfect ending to this show.

Addendum: Why doctors call Scrubs the most accurate TV Show about the medical profession

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Birthday Sunday

One of my favorite Otter Creek traditions is Birthday Sunday. On the first Sunday of the month, we bring up the children who have birthdays that month and read off their names, say a prayer over them, and then give them cake (not on stage). Connor's birthday is in May so this was his time to go up and from my perspective in the tech booth I can take some pictures.

"All this, for me?"

Mommy on the praise team, trying to sneak a glance.

"Ok, I'll just stand here and look cutely awesome."

"Oh yeah, all my life group friends sit on that side."

All the children of Birthday Sunday.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Otter Creek News

It's been a tumultuous 18 months at Otter Creek, from a staffing perspective. In December of 2007, our worship minister Brandon Scott Thomas announced that he was moving out of full-time ministry and into a new field of labor. Our minister of spiritual formation, Scott Owings, announced in April of last year that he was moving from church ministry into being a hospice chaplain. And in June of 2008, our preaching minister Tim Woodroof announced that he was stepping down.

Like I said, a tumultuous time at Otter Creek.

Well, over the past year, these positions have been slowly filling. We hired Murray Sanderson (blog) to be the worship minister. Sheryl and I have greatly enjoyed getting to know Murray and Jaime over the last 6 months, as well as working and partnering with them in ministry. Doug Sanders has been doing a lot of the congregational care work that Scott did, in addition to the benevolence work that he does.

The one position that hasn't been filled was teaching minister. And honestly, it wasn't as big a hole as I thought it was. Otter Creek was very fortunate to have a lot of men in place that could step easily into a pulpit. We got to experience some of Prentice Meador's last sermons. We've been able to hear from men like Lee Camp, John York, and our Youth minister David Rubio. Some incredible teachers. Like I said, it didn't feel like a huge hole, a big one, but not like the heart of Otter Creek was missing, because the heart of Otter Creek has never been her preachers. Preachers come and go; the people of the church are her heart. However, there was a continual question in people's minds. Who will be the next minister/teacher?

Yesterday, the Otter Creek elders answered that question and announced that we won't have just one, but two. The elders announced the hiring of Josh Graves and David Rubio to team teach. I honestly don't know a ton about Josh. I know that he's worked with Lee Camp some and I've heard him talk once or twice at Zoe. But he did an excellent job when he preached here on Palm Sunday and I really enjoyed that. I know Rubio very well and have talked with him several times. I really think that he is going to be a great teacher for us, moving from youth ministry to adult ministry over the next 15 months with Josh.

I'm honestly not that surprised at a team approach to this. I know many people at Otter that value having multiple voices and perspectives to hear from, much as we've had for the last 9 months, and especially the last 4 months or so, and so to continue that is very gratifying to hear. I am a little surprised at the youth of the team. Josh is 30 and David is 37. I had thought that the elders would choose an older/younger combination, not having both teachers be younger, but it's something that's exciting to see as well.

I'm very excited about this next step in Otter Creek's story. I think the elders and the minister search committee have made wise choices in this decision and I think that teaching that we're going to get over the next year, both theologically and practically, is going to be some of the best we've ever had. I think they are going to encourage us to walk in the way of Jesus with boldness and heart for the world around us. I pray that we as the church will have ears to hear what God will say through these two men and then the hearts to act on it.

Video Announcement

You can also listen to the announcement here.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Psychology of God

Wow. Very interesting discussion on Torture that's still going on on last week's post. It's actually one of the reasons that I didn't post this week. I kind of didn't want to take away from that. Plus it's been an incredibly busy week overall, so not much time there either.

I got a Tweet (post on Twitter) from a friend of mine a couple of weeks back. I can't find it now, but it was something about God doing something amazing at a church he visited, and he's not very charismatic. I'm sure I'm butchering it, but that was the idea. At any rate, it got me thinking.

If I were a skeptic (and I sometimes am), I would chalk that up to pure emotionalism, married with a mindset that's preconditioned to believe in a God who would do certain "amazing" things. A trick of psychology basically.

But here's the thing. Even if that is true, why does the idea of God bother people so much? I guess I can understand, especially how many people use God to justify their own actions of hate or discrimination or even violence, but for most people, God is a way for the world to make sense, to have some shape, and that's not a bad thing. To try to derive some meaning from life, is the ultimate pursuit of humanity. It's what drives scientists to discover, musicians to write songs, poets to dream, parents to have children. We all derive meaning from those things and if adding God to the equation helps make that equation make sense, all the better.

Now, I don't think that belief in God and Jesus gives us license to be jerks. Probably Christians who are jerks would be jerks if they were Jewish, Muslim, atheist, or whatever. But if believing in Jesus makes us worse people than who we were, why would anyone want to follow Jesus?

It's completely possible that belief in God is a trick of our minds to give us comfort, but I think it's equally possible that it's not a trick, that it is the Holy Other stretching us and drawing us to God.
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