Water Mosaic echoes from home

pondering the mysteries, simplicity, and humor of life

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Theology of Death

Here's a thought:

How much of the Christian doctrine is based on death, especially Christ's death? My guess would be, ALOT. My belief says that Jesus died, whether on Good Friday or not. While this is important to my belief structure, this is only half the picture. If Jesus was still in the ground, my faith is all well and good, but there is no hope after I die, no goal in this life to strive for, not just heaven but to make an eternal difference in my world. So as a Christian, I belief that he rose from death, to defeat the boundaries of the grave and the unseen forces of evil. So why aren't we focusing on Jesus' victory more? Like communion. We can meditate on Christ's death all 8 minutes of the Lord's Supper, and sure we can reflect on how crappy we are, how we sinned that past week and how guilty we feel for placing him on Calvary, BUT shouldn't we also see the signficants of his rising? (A parallel thought: did we place Jesus up there or God?) This should be celebrated in baptism too. A celebration when one decides to die (sad) to self but be raised (happy) anew. Maybe this is why so many of our brothers and sisters are living without vigor or excellence. We've pounded a theology of "death" in our heads that we don't have any push to live an excellent life, abundant and fully alive. Is this spiritual suicide to anyone else?

Sunday, June 27, 2004

A Prayer for Everyday

Here are some wise words from Agur. Pray them today, and everyday.

Two things I ask of you;
do not deny them to me before I die.
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that I need.

-Proverbs 30:7-8

I finished the book of Proverbs and realized how much Solomon talks about helping out the needy and poor. Isn't that worship too? We can feel great about a great devo and the singing, and the great preaching or teaching from a Sunday morning. But what are we doing to worship our Maker outside the church? Since working with Cokesbury, a United Methodist Publishing House, I can tell they are very sincere about serving the needy communities. And that my friends is a godly characteristic. So why aren't we doing it? "Well, Clark, we go on mission trips to help those under privileged." Thats great. But aren't we substituting the real people we serve for our own agenda? Aren't we using them to get our "spiritual highs and our "God-feelings" back? We don't say it like that, but its true. "They" are our spiritual projects to show us how fortunate we are and how blessed we are and how I will never be the same again when I go back home. 3 weeks later, back to the same lifestyle. Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for overseas mission trips and short term "campaigns," but serving others, especially the poor must be a way of mind. Thoughts?

Friday, June 25, 2004

The Philokalia

"No one is more foolish than one who forces the meaning of the Scriptures or finds fault with them so as to demonstrate his own knowledge - or, rather, his own ignorance. What kind of knowledge can result from adapting the meaning of the Scriptures to suit one's own likes and from daring to alter their words? The true sage is one who regards the text as authoritative and discovers, through the wisdom of the Spirit, the hidden mysteries to which the divine Scriptures bear witness."
- Peter of Damaskos

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Fierce Mercy

I haven't read any of Brennan Manning's books, but he has a book that is out in July called The Wisdom of Tenderness, How God's Fierce Mercy will transform you. I don't know about you, but I'm not sure I really understand mercy. I mean, yeah, I know the word and what it means, but I don't grasp and live in mercy. As I was driving to work this morning, I thought about God's forgiveness and how I just keep it to a prayer for "I'm sorry God. I'll never do this again." But is that what God wants us to get out of forgiveness? And what about that wording "fierce mercy?" Meditate on mercy and enlighten me friends.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004


"The spiritual life begins with the acceptance of our wounded self. Whatever is denied cannot be healed."
- Brennan Manning

Wrap that around your minds for a minute. On another heavy note, my good friend and mentor Mike Stroud is leaving MTSU and headed out to the beautiful land of Beavers and Ducks (Oregon). He has spent 20 years in campus ministry, most at MTSU and has been a delight to that program. He portrays a selflessness that is rare among men and a passion that ignites those around him. So Mike, we salute you and your work here. May God bring numerous blessing to your family and your work in Oregon. Learn to fly-fish while your there. Aint nothing like grilled Halibut.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Wild at Heart

Well I started my new job at Cokesbury Publishing. Today was super slow. My trainee partner Joan, never showed up today so they had me doing "busy work" all day. I should have asked to do a word search or something. The people that work in that area are very nice so that is cool but I have to drive an hour to work each day. Yuck.

Last night, my wife and I started to read Nehemiah together. I enjoy O.T. stories of faithful men and women. Nehemiah just has a great heart, first to pray in intervention for his people and their sin. The hard thing is, he prayed not for them, but for "us." I find it really hard to look at my own sin when I know of others that are drowning in it. Humility. Something I'm learning about. Oh yeah, read Wild at Heart, even if you are a women. Awesome stuff.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Truths from Radiohead

If you haven't noticed, I changed my title page's name to "No Alarms and No Suprises, Please." Radiohead sings this song on their OK Computer album. I like this song because it accsensuates their entire album by concerning itself with a busy and comfortable human heart that is full of waste as a landfill and is happy to settle for the quiet life, the poisonous fumes and a life of no alarms and no surprises please. It seems that at the end of the day a pretty house and a pretty garden and no suprises are the desires of the day. It is almost as if we are handed a sentence unaware, then hating the stale walls of our prison, and finally getting used to them as the only way it can be. As Red, Andy Dufrain's cell-mate in the movie Shawshank Redemption said, "At first you hate these walls, then you accept them, and eventually you become dependent on them."

I pray that we don't allow life to trap us into its monotonous haze. That we don't ask for any alarms or suprises. Let us not make our life, our country a hotel civilization obsessed with comfort and convenience and contentment.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004


I'm watching Good Morning America and they had a segment about girls getting breast augmentation for their high school graduation. The main debate was over self-esteem and that for women, their breast size is how they value themselves. Has our society been so foolish to think that our identity is on magazine covers and music videos? Actually...Yes. I can't think that if one gets surgery, is that an automatic self-esteem booster. I mean, isn't our esteem a lot deeper than our body parts? I must be honest, it is easy to get caught up in the idea of shaping my image to what is viewed as "in" or "popular." And we know that in every human is a need to be accepted. So as the great thinker Henri Nouwen questioned: "Could you live with only God's acceptance in this world? Is God's love enough to you?"

Detriot Pistons, well done.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004


So last night, Jenn and I started our weekly menu for dinner. We sat down and came up with a meal for each night of the week. After that we went shopping for the right ingredients. Well last night we were going to have this Chicken Veggie-Casserole. I decided I was going to cook it while Jenn was going to write thank you notes for the wedding gifts. I just have to say, this casserole was going to be off the chain. I spent an hour chopping, slicing, cutting, cooking, and mixing. We finished preparing and placed it in the oven in one of those PYREX dishware containers. While we waited I started cleaning the dishes. About five minutes later we heard a loud sound coming from the oven. It was the PYREX. It had exploded and all our casserole was on the bottom of the oven. Needless to say, we were saddened. So we went to CrackerBarrel because we had a gift card there. The moral of this story is Proverbs 15:17

"Better is a dinner of vegetables where love is, than a fatted ox and hatred with it."

Well put Solomon.

It seems the Supreme Court ruled the "under God" to remain in the Pledge. But it couldn't rule if it was separating church and state because the man who was defending his 10 year old daughter was only his step-daughter, or something. Do you guys really care these days? I mean, yes our country was an escape land that people fled to to get away from the Catholic church (exaggeration of course), and yes many churches were established with the mentality of "well if I don't like your church, I can start my own" (a theme that is arising in our day as well). And yes I am glad that we are free nation, but we are hardly "one nation under God." More like "one nation under capitalism or materialism." Sorry to rant and rave about this but I'm just having a hard time with America and God that association. Especially when you go to church and they sing "America" or "God Bless America" or when they have the American flag in the building. Why are we so set on not having any symbols or signs that represent our faith because we are afraid of it being Orthodox or Catholic, but we can have symbols and signs that represent our corrupt and wealthy nation. Don't get me wrong, I love our troops and pray for them and our government, but I also am challenged to love the Iraq community and pray for them as well. And so who really is our enemy? Is it Bin-Laden's crew? Is it Congress? Is it the athletes who whine about not getting 20 million a year while children in Africa starve to death? Is it the American dream? Your thoughts?

Monday, June 14, 2004


Hello again friends. Sorry for the wait. I have been busy, you know the regular getting married, moving out, honeymoon, etc.

If you haven't seen The Royal Tenenbaums, rent it this week. This is one of my favorite movies of all time. Jenn and I watched it Saturday night and I just love the story and the soundtrack to this film. Wes Anderson is a cinematic genius in my opinion. It is a wonderful story of a broken and failed family and the redemption they see from their father's last attempt to save the Tenenbaums. OK, so yes this movie is rated R, but I don't hold myself to just non-R rated movies. We can learn a lot from this storytellers in our world today. Anyway, it depicts a beautiful tale of betrayal, bitterness, and failure that is resurrected in the end by Royal's heroic effort.

Also, I read the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. Great story. It moved well and the suspense is riveting. It flows in an excellent manner while still informing the reader of important facts and lessons. I don't believe the story, but it is good entertainment.