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Showing posts from 2007

Into the Wild...

April 27th, 1992 Greetings from Fairbanks! This is the last you shall hear from me Wayne. Arrived here 2 days ago. It was very difficult to catch rides in the Yukon Territory. But I finally got here. Please return all mail I receive to the sender. It might be a very long time before I return South. If this adventure proves fatal and you don't ever hear from me again I want you to know you're a great man. I now walk into the wild. Alex. Last Friday, I took some sabbatical time for myself and took in some movies. I excitedly looked up the latest Wes Anderson film, The Daarjeeling Limited, which I can say is a riveting flick for those Wes Anderson fans out there and a definite must-see for the fan of the journey film. You know the ones: character(s) seek to go out on a journey to find out something about themselves only to, through a series of mis-haps and mis-adventures, find out something much more revealing about the universe/God/family/etc. When I realized that I…

Safety and Stability?

fromAn Emergent Manifesto of Hope edited by Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, from Pagitt's intro to Part 2: Communities of Hope:

"...as religious people we often have a strange relationship with the new. Often there is a greater level of mistrust of the new in religious circles than in many other disciplines. I have a theory on this. I think that for many people religion is meant to conserve, to keep, to protect. Religion is often at its finest when it serves to anchor people in the midst of turbulent change-to be a safe harbor in the midst of a storm of change. Many of us assume that our religion ought to provide certainty in uncertain times, safety when it is not clear where trust can be found. God is the only unchanging reality in a sea of change, so for religion to be engaged with the new can seem to undermine its very purpose.

While immovablity can be a fine role for religion, it may not serve the story of God's action in the world very well. It seems to me that th…

words from the past, informing the future...

"Christ, in sending the [people] to the scriptures, sent them, not merely to read them, but carefully to search and ponder them. And did he not say, "Read the scriptures," but "Search the scriptures." ... Their meaning is not expressed superficially or set forth in their literal sense, but, like a treasure, lies buried at a great depth. And those who seek for hidden things will not be able to find the object of the search if they do not seek carefully and painstakingly."

- St. John Chrysostom
Homily 41 (John 5:39-47), A.D. 390

Thanks to all who put together and attended emergingumc: a gathering this past weekend in Nashville. We did not, however, answer all the questions out there or put ourselves to anything more than being committed to continuing the conversation in, as Jay Vorhees reminded me, in "generative relationships." I believe the words of St. John Chrystsom must inform us as we, together, search for where (and for what) God is leading t…

from emergingumc: a gathering...

currently at emergingumc: a gathering in Nashville, TN at GBOD, conversing and networking with umc folks re: emerging/missional conversation. good attempt a definition of emerging/missional dialogue shared last night from Taylor Burton-Edwards:

"The Emerging Missional Church is a movement in Western Protestant Christianity fed by four streams:
-a revived missiology for western Christianity
-a theological conversation seeking a synthesis of thinking and action centered in the kingdom of God and the way of Jesus rather than in denomination or ecclesial distinictiveness in a postmodern context
-traditions and practices, both personal and communion, that deeply form disciples of Jesus Christ
-worship that is both immediately experiential and deeply connection to the traditions of the Christian faith"

still a lot of conversation about what this all is and what it means for umc, pray for us as we dialogue and discern how God is working through this conversation towards what Phyliis T…

Relax...

"What I'm trying to do here is get you to relax, not to be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way God works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how God works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You'll find your everyday human concerns will be met. Don't be afraid of missing out." - Luke 12:22-31 from
The Message: Remix

As I am working through a capital campaign within the community of faith I currently serve, we are reading through and studying Michael Slaughter's book Money Matters. Though I find myself theologically disagreeing with Slaughter at times and the whole notion of talking about my money and spending in a theological manner gives me the heebie jeebies (I'm afraid words like "prosperity" may come up, one of Slaughter's fundamental points is that God chooses freedom over oppression for humanity.

In other words, if y…

Accepted

This was the guiding prayer from a spiritual life retreat I went on this weekend with my senior high youth...

"God, if only everyone were like me, it would be so much easier. If only everyone were like us, it would be so much easier. Why did you make people so different? How are we supposed to know who is on our side and who isn't? You told us to love one another, but could you make it a little easier? We will accept one another, God. We know we are not perfect, and we will stop demanding others measure up to the standards we set for them. Help us to love one another just as you have loved us. Amen." (from The Book of Uncommon Prayer 2: Prayers and Worship Services for Youth Ministry, by Steven L. Case, Youth Specialties/Zondervan, 2006)

...thought it was a fitting prayer for the weekend and for us as we move through this world, seeking to fulfill the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Peace to you this week, promise I will post more often than once…

Luke 14:1, 7-14

"On one occassion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.

When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. 'When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, 'Give this person your place,' and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, 'Friend move up higher'; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.'

He also said to the one who had invited him, 'When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your …

From Me to We

In a recent article in REV magazine, Alan Nelson writes a compelling article for pastors that calls for a shift away from a pastor-centered model of ministry to a model that equips and empowers the church to mature and lead in the visioning and implementation of the vision. Among the Scripure he cites in his article is Exodus 18, where we find Moses attempting to hear and deal with all of the questions and concerns of the people of God on his own. His father-in-law, Jethro, is sent by God to lay down some wisdom on Moses by suggesting that he go and find leaders to oversee the people and share leadership. 1 Peter 2 also drives this point home by reminding us, Nelson writes, that we are "to be a nation of priests , not a nation of followers lead by priests." Nelson maintains that Martin Luther with his understanding of the priesthood of all believers tried to remind the church of this notion. But, Nelson continues, "We need a 're-Reformation,' whereby pastors…

We Become Sabbath

At our best, we become Sabbath for one another. We are the emptiness, the day of rest. We become space, that our loved ones, the lost and sorrowful, may find rest in us.

- Wayne Muller
From "Sabbath" quoted in How Shall We Live by Joan Chittister, OSB.

Pursuing Peace for Christ's Sake

Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
- Hebrews 12:14

"When Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves, it was not just for our neighbors' sakes that he commanded it, but for our own sakes as well. Not to help find some way to feed the children who are starving to death is to have some precious part of who we are starve to death with them. Not to give ourselves to the human beings we know who may be starving not for food but for what we have in our hearts to nourish them with this to be, ourselves, diminished and crippled as human beings."
- Frederick Buechner from Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons

Legacy

Totally ripping off my good friend and sister in Christ, Nikki Alexander, I will be preaching on Legacy on Sunday, July 29th. Using text from 2 Kings 2:1-18, talking about legacy of Elijah and Elisha, Jesus and Disciples, Jesus and the Church. Challenging congregation to think about what they want their legacy to be, how they will leave that legacy, and who they will leave legacy with. Holler at me with any and all ideas, would love to discuss to enrich sermon. Thanks in advance for the feedback. Have a peaceful week.

P.S. - One of my favorite contemporary writers and speakers, Jim Wallis (author of God's Politics), will be around DFW next week speaking at two events, one in Dallas the other in Fort Worth. Check out particulars at www.sojo.net and attend one or both if you are able.

re: the presence of God

Consumed with brother Lawrence's idea about practicing the presence of God, which he describes as "the concentration of the soul's attention on God, remembering that He [sic] is always present." Really simply a constant focus on God's metaphysical presence in our lives. Last couple of days, practicing this concentration and prayer throughout the day, especially through busy work, and has helped me see God in the little things that have come my way and the people that I meet throughout my day, especially those in the service industry that sometimes look and treat others as though someone has urinated in their cheerios. Helped me to see God in my daily life. Highly recommend the book, it is a quick read and may assist you in keeping our focus on God throughout the day.

Remember the Grace

Not that I plan on dying anytime soon, but when I do I want this quote from brother Lawrence, Carmelite monk (1610-1691) whose writings make up the classic text, The Practice of the Presence of God, on my gravemarker:
"If you think of me, remember the grace with which God has blessed me rather than my typically human ineptitude."

Heading Back from Mission

Back from Slidell, Louisiana invigorated by the relationships that I formed with clients, youth and young adult leaders. My group worked on an animal shelter in Slidell that was devastated by the hurricane. Our team built four - five walls and sheetrocked them as well. The volunteer director and his wife were so awesome throughout the week and told us their story (including their hurricane story) and the story of their faith in Christ that has gotten them both through so much more than a hurricane. Each of them had gotten through so many health issues strengthened and renewed in their faith. Looking back, I feel we did so much more than help rebuild walls but helped to rebuild hope and faith in neighbors. Thank you for your prayers and support over the last week. I coveted them as I set off on Sunday morning, leading a group of people whom I knew nothing about and coveted them throughout the week.

Weekend with Episcopacy

"There is a lot of money for the postmodern game. Anything can be sponsored and fed money to. The modern church will pump money into church planting, books, and movies. But the sun burns brightest before it sets. They are trying to reach young people. However, they will realize that they are wasting their money and walk away. After this, there will be people who apply the gospel in postmodern cultures." - Spencer Burke, from the book EMERGING CHURCHES by Gibbs and Bolger
I was afforded an opportunity to spend the weekend with some of the episcopacy of the denomination of which I belong to catch a glimpse of what they would be focusing on over the next year. Ministry with Young Adults was the focus so, as you can tell from my profile and interests, I was eager to hear their ideas and, most importantly, hear their vision and plan for reaching younger generations for God through Jesus Christ, emboldened and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Not surprisingly, there was no such plan. E…

Heading out to Mission

Leaving for mission trip on Sunday with a church I have only worked with for 5 days. Interesting experience b/c I usually prepare for mission trips months in advance and have had to throw things together at last minute. Reading over "Leader's Guide" last night, read the following "take time in the next couple of months to prepare yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually to lead and be led through this mission experience." I have one day to do this among the myriad of other things I must get done to get the group physically ready to go. Thinking maybe this is God's way of surprising me with service, as it has been at least two years since I have been able to go on mission. Praying about it a lot. Hope that you would include me in your prayers. I will definitely have more to write about when I return.

Live from Panther City

Greetings to all from Panther City, the town of the cow, Fort Worth. Moved in and settling down into new position at University United Methodist Church. Check it out at www.universityumc.net. Will post some thought-provoking material soon. For now, Pray for Peace in the Middle East and for the Genocide to end in Darfur.

Evangelicals and Creation Care

from today's Jim Wallis and Friends God's Politics blog on Beliefnet (http://www.beliefnet.com/blogs/godspolitics), entry by Jim Rice:

David Gushee thinks he understands why some conservative evangelicals have opposed "creation care" (i.e., taking care of the environment). He writes:


... it seems to me that those who resist creation care sometimes are motivated by a misreading of scripture. I have been in conversations where people suggest that stewardship primarily means mastery of earth to use it as we please or need; or that human beings do not have the power to do real harm to creation; or that God has promised ever since Noah never to allow humans to do serious harm to creation; or that the earth will be destroyed by fire anyway, and soon, so what we do now to the earth isn’t really all that significant.


He goes on to name three other factors that have led to this conservative opposition to protecting our earth: a "profound mishandling of science," an &qu…

So it's been a while

A lot going on in my life right now, a great time of transition. Re-discovered this passage that is really helping me in this time of new beginnings: "I am the Lord your God, I am holding your hand, so don't be afraid, I am here to help you."- Isaiah 41:13. May it offer us all solace and peace. Until I reach Fort Worth, Peace.

Over the Weekend

Over the weekend, I pondered and prayed over Revelation 3:15-17 (see previous post for entire text). I also read some Wendell Berry, in particular his essay entitled "Christianity and the Survival of Creation." In this essay, Berry accuses the modern Christian church of creating a dichotomy between spirit and matter that has contributed to the destruction of Creation by Christians and accuses the church of collusion with oppressive economic and governmental powers (which he calls the modern day "Caesar"). Berry opens his essay with the presentation of the fact that no government that is willing, able, and ready to destroy Creation at a moments notice for profit or political gain is able to classify itself as a "Christian" government and that the church colludes with the "Christian" government time and time again under the false pretense created by those in power to supposedly be working for the best interest of the Christian church (for more …

verse and reading for the weekend

I will be reflecting on and praying over this verse over the weekend along with reading some of Wendell Berry's essays in Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community. Join me won't you?

"I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. For you say, 'I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.' You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked."
- Revelation 3:15-17
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more questions than answers

at this time, i find myself filled with more questions than answers and i would guess that you do as well. touted as the largest massacre on any U.S. campus, the events at Virginia Tech fill my heart with sadness and leave me wondering about what the current campus i work on would be operating today if the same situation befell us. a college campus can be a really interesting place to live at times like these. one gets a real sense of what is going on in the hearts and minds of college students that i am sure are asking themselves the same question, "what if this happened here?" we ask the question not in some morbid way, hoping for the same situation on this campus or in a pharissiac way, thanking God that it didn't happen here but in a way that forces us to think about how we would cope and react so that we can better understand what the campus at Virginia Tech is going through at this time. i would encourage all of us to continue to pray for the students, faculty…

Vintage Jesus

check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsqpM6LmuD0

Easter

I hope that everyone had an amazing Easter weekend. For the first time ever, I attended a vigil service and I strongly recommended it to anyone as it was helpful in my welcoming Easter in before I faced the pomp and circumstance and busyness and noise of the worship service I attended in a local basketball arena on Sunday morning. The vigil service allowed me to be more reflective and meditative in worship which I appreciate and seek to provide for others when I am part of worship.

I have a two year old son whose bright-eyed wonder and creativity amaze me on a daily basis and inspire me in how I live out my faith in Jesus Christ. My wife and I, both preparing to be ministers ourselves, want to instill the true meanings of the holidays we celebrate throughout the year. With Christmas, for example, we work hard at keeping Christ in the center of how we speak about and celebrate during the holidays. For the most part, I believe my son gets the concept of Jesus being born to Mary an…

St. Augustine and Chocolate Jesus

While reading Brad Kallenberg'sLive to Tell: Evangelism for a Postmodern Age, I was reminded that St. Augustine converted and was baptized into Christianity at the age of 33. I am 33. When I turned 30 a friend reminded me that Jesus began his public ministry around this age, which emboldened and empowered me in my quest towards ordained ministry (read LONG quest). After my 30th year passed and I was still in seminary, I became a little down on the fact that my own public ministry had not received any jump start in my thirtieth year. When I turned 33, the same friend reminded me that Jesus' public ministry ended around the time he was 33. After being reminded of St. Augustine's entire story this past week, his wild youth, his eventual conversion to Christianity, his profound ministry later in his life, I am encouraged and enlivened yet again. I have now set my goal beyond simply ordination and am now focused on becoming the Bishop of Hippo.

A lot of friends have been …
verse i will be pondering over the weekend, join me won't you?

Give liberally and be ungrudging when you do so, for on this account the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake.
- Deuteronomy 15:10-10-

The Great Moral Issues of Our Time...?

In a recent entry in the section of the Sojourner's daily email entitled "Heart and Mind" leader Jim Wallis (author of widely popular book God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and The Left Doesn't Get It) writes about his proposed "debate" (he later changes his language and calls it a "conversation") which he has challenged Dr. James Dobson (the leader of the conservative evangelical organization Focus on the Family) to on the topic of "What are the great moral issues of our time for evangelical Christians?". This is in response to Dr. Dobson's recent critique in a letter to the board of the National Association of Evangelicals regarding NAE's Vice President Dr. Richard Cizik's stance on global warming, calling his efforts to bring the evangelicals into discussions on this topic "dividing and demoralizing" because Dobson believes that they shift "the emphasis away from the great moral issues of our t…

back in time for break

it is spring break this week. it is interesting that this unofficial holiday comes during the lenten season, when we are called to take time away from worldly things and focus on our faith in Christ. interesting in the sense that i am sitting in my office watching students head out to exotic locales to throw off accountability for their behavior, forget their faith and indulge in worldly things. the log in my own eye on this one is that i won't be doing any better as i will be sitting in my office throughout this week indulged in the daily grind of work rather than joining my wife in mission work or my friend at tiaze' community in worship. i pray for travelling mercies for all of those heading out and hope that whatever we engage in this week will enrich our lives. i have been reading a lot since the last time i posted almost a month ago. one of the most influential things i have been reading is shaneclaiborne's the irresistible revolution. i have been reading this for …

small is the new large

i am officially a podcast junkie. i subscribe to over 300 podcasts ranging in topic from uc-berkeley courses on the byzantine empire to current political front-runners edwards, obama, and clinton, to podcasts from emerging communities like mars hill and mosaic and thinkers like doug pagitt and dr. leonard sweet. listening to dr. leonard sweet's podcast, "napkin scribbles" today while working in my office and one in particular has stuck with me throughout the day and transfixed my thoughts. it is entitled "small is the new large" and offers some profound insights into the postmodern fixation with the micro and mini and the observation that all things in life seem to come in single-serving portions (see fight club, book by Chuck Palahniuk and movie by david fincher). sweet makes the observation that the modern fascination with the masses huddling into megachurches is being met with the postmodern idea of small, close-knit communities sharing their lives with each…

running for the white house

over the weekend, three intriguing individuals announced their candidacy for president in 2008: Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards. Excited about all three but am hungry for more regarding their particular policies. Reading Audacity of Hope now and looking forward to reading Edwards' Four Trials and Home and Clinton's It Takes A Village. Also reading Jim Wallis' God's Politics so feel waist-deep in all things politico.

Christian Environmental Ethics

Found great resource, CHRISTIAN ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS: A CASE STUDY APPROACH by Martin-Schramm and Stivers. Has insight into ethical and moral reasoning and thought-provoking case studies and resource section for use with small groups. Check it out.
Preparing for Sunday school lesson on contemporary events and responses in faith. Current event: the environment. Reading through Peter Illyn's article on The Environment in The Revolution: A Field Manual for Changing Your World, edited by Heather Zydek. It is an outstanding field manual for beginning Christian activists who seek to live out of their faith in everyday life. If anyone has other compelling articles on ecology/environment and theology/faith, please pass along.