Monday, August 31, 2009

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


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.

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.

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