Water Mosaic echoes from home

pondering the mysteries, simplicity, and humor of life

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Rules, Rules, Rules

The other day I finished The Rule of St. Benedict for my Tuesday night class. After I finished it, I thought, "OK, but I'm no monk." Most of St. Benedict's words are about humility and having a peaceful heart, at least that's what my initial thoughts were. I didn't understand the chapters on "no joking" or "the disciplining of the monks in the monastery." Maybe I didn't put much contemplation in his writings but at first I just didn't get it. Lee Camp told us last week that we should read this as seeing his context and understanding the text in that light. As he said earlier, "We work by our own lights because that is the only light we have." (Had to be there in class).

Now I'm on Wisdom Distilled From The Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today by Joan Chittister, OSB. So far it is really speaking to me. Through her lens I think I'm beginning to "get it." She says that the Rule of St. Benedict is no "rule" at all, but simply a plan of life, a set of principles that directs our lives. The word rule, in its ancient sense, means "guidepost" or "railing." Something to hold on to in the dark, something to give direction, something to give us support as we climb. So my question is, what kind of "rule" do you live by?

As of now, I try and live by four simple precepts that I once heard from a wise journeyman.
1. I am incompetent
2. Be fully aware (to people in front of you and the Holy Spirit
3. See the Christ (in others)
4. Be the Christ (to others)

Monday, August 30, 2004

Long Weekend

Jennifer and I went to Arkansas to interview for a campus ministry position this weekend. We had to fly out Friday morning and came back Sunday night. Note to self: Remember your photo ID when you fly. We prayed that Jennifer would be able to go and come back with me when we got to the check in point before walking to our gate. She forgot her ID and I told her that she didn't need her wallet. What a relief.

The weekend went well. They sure did pamper us like paying for every meal and our flight and our hotel room. It was my first time to actually interview with a panel in person. I did this with Pensacola but over the phone so it was awkward but not to stressful. Saturday morning, we both had to meet with the search committee for 2 HOURS. WOW! Needless to say I didn't get much sleep that night in addition to me looking like I went down to the bar the night before and had a few "spirits." I tend to be a blabber mouth, so I don't think I actually answered any of their questions. Oh well, it was a learning experience. The weekend seemed like we had been there for almost a week.

Tonight is the kick-off of school for MTSU as well as Raiders for Christ. They are having the ZOE Group out for their third year in a row. Last year was awesome with over 300 people there praising our Lord. This was where I finished school as well as interned for two years. I'm a bit sad that I am not apart of that ministry any more (at least directly) but it is time to move on with life and jobs. Blessings on you all at Raiders for Christ and blessing on the search for a new campus minister.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Prayer for Darfur

The chapel in the lobby was opened yesterday for prayers concerning the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. Government-backed militias, know as the Janjaweek, have been engaging in campaigns to displace and wipe out entire communities of tribal farmers. Villages have been burned, women and young girls have been raped and branded, men and boys have been murdered, and food and water supply have been specifically targeted and destroyed. Tens of thousands have died while well over a million have been driven from their homes. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) estimates that 350,000 people or more could die in the coming months. Wednesday was a day of conscience effort to lift up the hatred and pain in this land.

As I lit a candle and prayed, I wondered what more could I do? Is praying really enough? Does God answer prayers through people we cannot even see or know or imagine in our mind? It is just too awesome to grasp, yet scarey at the same time. This world is really hard to live in sometimes. Sometimes it is just too hard to be a human being. Why are we so selfish to ignore the needs of others. To hurt, even murder those that get in the way of our selfish agenda? Anyway if you want to check out some sites on this tragedy go to:


Or check out "Doctors without Borders."

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Timothy House and Dr. Hook

Yesterday was the removing of my last items that were in the Timothy House to my apartment. My former co-intern Daniel George helped me out as we moved the "super-long" single bed and dresser into the guest room of me and my wife's apartment. Man, am I glad to be out of there. I do miss the community and whooping and hollering through my three years there. I also miss the free rent. I don't miss the brown-recluse spiders, mowing for three hours, hair in the bathroom and the troll in the basement. I will miss you dear Timothy. It has been suggested that when they do finally decide to tear it down, that we receive invitations as well as a turn at the demolition swinging ball. Extreme Makeover House Edition could not fix this place up without blowing it up first.

In my head is a Dr. Hook song:
Well we're big rock singers
We got golden fingers
And we're loved everywhere we go.

We sing about beauty
And we sing about truth
At ten thousand dollars a show.

We take all kinds of pills
To give us all kinds of thrills
But the thrill we've never known

Is the thrill that you getcha
When you get your picture
On the cover of the Rolling Stone.

Going to see my picture on the cover
Gonna buy five copies for my mother
Gonna see my smiling face
On the cover of the Rolling Stone.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Dinner For 2

This past weekend, my wife and I borrowed a card table and two metal chairs from her parents to use as a dining table. Jennifer placed a nice table cloth on top of it and two place mats that we received from our wedding. So the past two nights we have had to priviledge to eat sitting in a chair instead of the floor in front of the TV. Both nights we have had some excellent conversations about various topics. I am a big fan of conversation, especially when its good. That doesn't mean I can make great conversations happen in a snap, it takes both parties. Anyway we talked about people we would like to have dinner with. Jennifer chose Laura and "W" Bush, Oprah, and Martin Luther King's wife (not sure she is still alive). My list included Bill Cosby, Wes Anderson, Jeff Tweedy, and a survivor of the holocaust. I think we would also both invite Bill Murray.

Who (living) would you like to eat dinner with?

Monday, August 23, 2004


"For so much of my life I had been defending Christianity because I thought to admit that we had done any wrong was to discredit the religious system as a whole, but it isn't a religious system, it is people following Christ; and the important thing to do, the right thing to do, was to apologize for getting in the way of Jesus."

This quote is from Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. It would take me too long to explain where this quote arises in his writings but I wanted to share it. I highly recommend this book to any person. It is really convicting me about my beliefs and life. Another quote from the chapter "Belief" is the quote "what you believe is not what you say you believe, but what you believe is what you do." I've got to be honest, I can talk a lot about serving the poor, or standing up for justice, or living generously with my money, but do I really do it? When I tell people that they should talk to others about Jesus, do I do it? My heart has been touched with this truth along with others in his book as well as Lee Camp's book Mere Discipleship. This goes back to my "useful religion" post a few weeks ago. I work in a publishing house that is in downtown Nashville. This is a Christian publishing company so there are many people that consider themselves Christian. Right across the street is a Greyhound Bus Station. Also across the street are several strip joints. The area is surrounded by magnificent cathedral-ish churches as well. For a few weeks my heart has wanted to some how be evangelistic. By this I don't mean preaching the gospel or having a Bible study, but meeting a felt need. The only problem is my brain is trying to come up with excuses to keep me from reaching out whether it be money shortage between my wife and I, or not enough time during my break, or I'd miss my lunch time and I might get another migraine. But it seems as though God is really pushing me to get off my rear to serve and to live out the gospel. So by blogging this conviction, I am placing myself into your accountable hands. If I can just not be so selfish God might be able to bring His love through a weak individual like me.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Blue Like Jazz

Yesterday I started another book (along with all my other class readings) called Blue Like Jazz. If you haven't heard of this book, its by a guy named Donald Miller who writes about spirituality in nonreligious sort of way. He is very witty as well as honest in his account of his own journey. Plus he likes the band Wilco. I appreciate it when authors reveal their brokenness, their true soul, if you will in their creations. By this I don't mean petty, "we all stuggle with sin" but the intimacy of doubt or fear or guilt, those deep emotions we all have but sometimes hide out of our fear of security. It seems more natural to me when I see it and hear it. This is what the beginning of the books states:

I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn't resolve. But one I saw a man playing the saxophone and I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never open his eyes. After that I liked Jazz music. Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way. I used to not like God because God didn't resolve. But that was before any of this ever happened.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The Great Apostasy

"The established church is far more dangerous to Christianity than any heresy or schism. We play at Christianity. We use all the orthodox Christian terminology - but everything, everything without character. Yes, we are simply not fit to shape a heresy or a schism. There is something frightful in the fact that the most dangerous thing of all, playing at Christianity, is never included in the list of heresies or schisms."

"The apostasy from Christianity will not come about by everybody openly renouncing Christianity; no, but slyly, cunningly, by everybody assuming the name of being Christian."

Soren Kierkegaar, Provocations

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

A Greater Power

"Let me ask you: Which has the greater power? Ten thousand people who fill the streets in front of abortion clinics and shame those seeking abortions, or ten thousand people in California who take to the state capital a petition they have signed stating they will take any unwanted child of any age, any color, any physical condition so that they can love that child in the name of Jesus Christ?"

Lee Camp's "Mere Discipleship"

Friday, August 13, 2004

Migraine, My Pain

Last night around 6:00pm, I began to have a really bad headache. I've had headaches before but this one was a killer. After retrieving some items for my wife's dinner at the local Wal-Mart, I had to visit the restroom for a period of time that I do not wish on anyone. Being a "man" I thought, "This will pass, no biggie." My wife on the other hand knew better (she seems to know better a lot more than I). So she carried me to the E.R. and after 2 1/2 hours, several blood pressure tests, a CAT scan, and a Sprite, the final analysis was that I had a migraine. I've never had one but let me tell you, they are worse than I thought they'd be, a lot worse. My head is still kind of hurting from last night but I managed to make it to work today. Maybe this migraine was caused from all the mounting pressure of "Will N'Sync stay together?"

As the news broke yesterday and this morning, many preteen girls are weeping and wailing and nashing their teeth at the recent breakup of the boyband N'Sync. Justin Timberlake said farewell to the band that made him a heartthrob in the late 90's early 2000's. So I wonder, did he break up with the band like he would break up with a girl? "Guys, its not you, its me. Seriously, I love you but I feel like we should go our separate ways." Or did he throw in some old song lines during their meeting, "Well guys, I'm Gone. It's tearing up my heart when I'm with you. But I must say Bye, Bye, Bye."

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Decreasing attendance

In one of my graduate classes, Intro to Ministry, one of the students mentioned another teacher saying, "Involvement Minister's are a waste of the church's money." I thought, "Geez, that's harsh." One of my close friends is in a position such as this. I began to wonder, why would he say something like this. I mean, how are you going to arrange 500, 1000 or even 2500 people in your church without some sort of activity, ministry, or small group to be involved in?

Before I begin, let me state that I do believe in church and that God has called His people to be the catalyst for blessing others, to bring His Kingdom "on earth as it is in heaven." I also believe in some sort of involvement within the body, not by guilt of course, but through a loving caring community that desires to see all be disciples and transformed into Jesus' image.

After reading a paper by another theologian, I began to ask myself, "Shouldn't we be deployed into our neighborhoods and communities and world to build relationships with those around us, even the disenfranchised?" YES! But can't we do that besides Sunday morning or Sunday night or Wednesday night or Thursday night when our small group meets or Tuesday morning men's prayer time? My point here is that maybe we shouldn't wrap ourselves in "church" so much and actually live out what we hear from our pulpits. Maybe we could afford to skip a Bible study now and then. What if, instead of measuring church attendance, we measure it by its deployment?

I remember a friend of mine, Jason Staples, who would tell me that he was going to get his Sunday school class to go and serve outside the church into the slums during their ordinary time of Sunday school. I thought, "But that's time for Sunday school. You know, time to sit there and listen to someone talk about what needs to change in my life or to read passages and be able to answer questions from the text (mostly 'Jesus' or 'God' or 'prayer' etc.) ." Isn't that what Sunday school is all about? (another subject for another time) A great enemy to our outreach is seeing the church as a fortress or social club. In this model, it pulls folks from their environment, their neighbors, their workplaces, their schools and other networks into a religious ghetto. There it must entertain them (worship styles or educational programs) and hold them (through means such as fear and guilt). Thus as Brian McLaren states, "Christians are warehoused as merchandise for heaven, kept safe in a protected space to prevent spillage, leakage, damage, or loss until their delivery."

And so we return to the original statement of "involving members." Maybe what this teacher was saying was that we need to concentrate our efforts on making our communities useful for this world. Instead of getting more people to attend church more of the time, we will try to get the people that attend church to do so only as much as is necessary and no more so they can spend more time interacting lovingly with their neighbors as an expression of their life in the kingdom of God as disciples. To engage them outside of the walls of the church. To have the word "church" mean what it's supposed to mean, and that is an open community of disciples sharing a way of life together and calling others to belong to this work of being God's agent in His saving work. To love others no matter what the cost, welcoming strangers and not waiting around to be taken into heaven so that others will be Left Behindtm to endure the rapture.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Note to self....

Have you ever accidentally tripped or fell and touched someone by accident? Go a little further, have you ever fell or tripped and touched someone in an awkward area on their body? "Oops, I slipped," will never mean the same. Read this and you will never go to a wedding reception with the same mindset.


Note to self....don't ever go to a wedding in the Philippines. Yikes!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The Village

Last night, Jennifer and I went and saw "The Village." I was worried because two good friends of ours saw the film and said nothing but negative things about it. I have enjoyed M. Night Shyamalan's previous flicks (Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs) but this one might be the best one yet. I would really like to go and see it again, knowing what I know about the plot and characters. I don't want to say too much because I know some of you might not have seen it yet...oh wait, no one reads this anyway. Well expect my dad and maybe T or Gilbert, occasionally. Well I still won't relay the plot and twists that "The Village" brought. But I will say, "Go see it for yourself" even if you have heard bad reviews from critics or your friends. Because of his previous films, those people that don't like were expecting something else or trying too hard to figure out Shyamalan's "patented surprise ending." We could learn much from this film and the themes it presents in two hours.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Praying with Homer J. Simpson

What a weekend! Moving is not fun. Period! Jennifer and I moved into a bigger apartment in the same complex so we didn't have to rent a truck or take a carvan across town. Many thanks to those who showed up to help out, especially those with big muscles. Sure we broke our entertainment center but we had fun doing it. Uuuugggghhh.

Today I started a new book called "The Gospel according to The Simpsons" by Mark I. Pinsky. Tony Campolo wrote the foreword to this interesting little piece of literature. Campolo states that Homer treats God as a sort of parachute where he hopes he never has to use, but he wants God to be there just in case. When deep trouble comes Homer's way, he turns to God and begs for miracles, but when they do happen, Homer is not a man of more deeper moral convictions or faith. God to Homer is more of a magic formula that you are able to manipulate spiritual forces so that the supplicant gets what he or she wants. Campolo points out that many people in churches today treat God the same way. How many of us have ever thought that if you didn't end your prayers by saying - "In Jesus' name" - you wouldn't get the desired results you sought? Instead of treating prayer like magic, we should surrender to the spiritual forces so that those forces (i.e. God) can do through him or her what those forces desire.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Farewell Super Freak

Last night my wife and I played our new favorite game, Trivial Pursuit (anniversary addition). I am 2 for 2 while winning last night on the pivotal question of which King in a deck of cards doesn't have a mustache. I guessed and said the right answer...King of Hearts.

My wife is amazing at the TV questions, which I am horrible but I tear it up in the Music category. Anywho, that's besides the point, I answered a questioned last night that said:

This artist's song was sampled to created the massive music hit "U Can't Touch This" by M.C. Hammer?

Answer: Rick James.

Well it didn't mean that much to me at that time except another roll at the dice. But as most of you have probably heard today, Rick James whose hit "Super Freak" in 1981 was an instant classic, died today of natural cases. Sure his career declined after some drug charges, convicted of assaulting two women in separate incidents, served a two-year jail sentence and deteriorating health problems, but this man could funk with the best of them. So to all of the Rick James fans out there lets have a moment of silence for the late great funk singer.

heeeeheeeeheee HHHEEEEYYYY!!!!

Thursday, August 05, 2004

So called Role Models?

I spent some time today reading about Quincy Carter's quick departure from the Cowboys. Four days ago he was the starting quarterback for Dallas and lead them into the playoffs. Now he is unemployed. Why? Speculations say that he used illegal substances and failed a recent drug test given by the Cowboys. He has already failed the league's test and has been in rehab since he started in the NFL three years ago, and as critics say, this problem has followed Carter since his glory days at the University of Georgia. Whether he did use cocaine or marijuana is debatable, but Jerry Jones and Coach Parcells dished out some heavy and decisive punishment.

I'm glad to see teams take action like this. Am I a fan of the Cowboys? No. But I do respect their decision to be a team that will not tolerate behavior displayed by Carter. Kids look up to these players, they are role models. And why should they get special treatment? The answer is, they shouldn't. Steve McNair recently had his DUI case thrown out of court. Why, I can't say. But I hope that the justice system didn't dismiss it because he his a premier football player and a key society figure here in Nashville. And this whole Kobe case....

I just wish we would stop giving these athletes a break from crimes that people commit everyday. My wife used to be a probation officer and she would come in contact with drug users, DUI fellons, and society's dysfuncitonal. So why should these people be thrown in jail, put on probation and given fines and not our "role model" star figures?

Wednesday, August 04, 2004


In the story of Jeremiah, God wants to illustrate a point to his people by using a metaphor of an earthenware jug. God asks Jeremiah to take this piece of pottery and break it in front of his audience. Obviously the jug shatters into millions of pieces illustrating that God will break this people and this city (Jerusalem). Interestingly enough, Jeremiah's audience includes the leaders of the temple as well as the city (senior priests and elders of the people).

My parallel is this: Are we, as pastor or members of our community, broken? It seems as though our culture (especially the South) urges us to hide our faults and put up a front that says "Everything is fine and great with me." I truly believe that this "hidden brokenness" is what evades true community, whether that be in our families, peer groups, work places or religious establishments. And community is hindered especially when the "leaders" of these groups is the one that promotes this facade.

In regarding this position, Euguene Peterson says that this brokenness is not to be avoided. It is our culture that places this "success" on pastors, whether that is growing a church or having the right techniques to do so. Peterson says the catch is: all the stories of spiritual leadership that we have in our scriptures are failures. Just look at Isaiah and how God asks him to preach to the Israelites for his whole life, but he won't see any effect on what he does. That is failure in our culture's eyes. We have to be ready for failure in their eyes. If not, then we are seduced by culture to being "religious." And once we have been that broken clay jar, then we can allow God to reshape a mosaic that includes ourselves but also our fellow brothers and sisters.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

The Abrahamic Call

Lesslie Newbrigin states that the greatest heresy in monotheism (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) is cherishing clause A ("I will make you a great nation, I will bless you") of the Abrahamic call while forgetting, suppressing, or ignoring clause B ("so that you will be a blessing"). It seems as though we who have been called by God who have decided to follow Jesus must live this out everyday. Yes we are blessed, but lets turn that blessing around and use it for good.

I was blessed by my Dad yesterday as we talked on the phone. He celebrated another birthday this past Sunday with his mom and wife. My Dad has blessed my life by showing his humanity to me. Last year we took a road trip up to Oregon and it was great. We shared about our beliefs, he gave me some wise advice about marriage, we laughed, we listened, it was one of the best experiences I think I'll ever have with my Dad. I hope and dream of more times that will come in the future. Thanks Dad for being a blessing, not just to me, but to your family, your friends and every person you have ever worked along side. Hooray for Dads!

Monday, August 02, 2004

Let the buildings serve

Last night, my wife and I along with our "newly married" small group helped build a fence for our church, Stones River. It was great to hold those power drills and feel the strengthen in my long fingers. After three hours of drilling, measuring, mowing, raking, and cleaning, we had a "professional" looking fence and yard. After we finished, John King (pastor) told us the future plans for the church building and the newly acquired house (next door) that now has a new fence. What was encouraging was his take of using the "future" church building for the community. He said, "How many churches sit throughout the week...empty?"

John is right. We can build some of the most 'state-of-the-art' technological and designer savvy church buildings. But is it just to accommodate those who are apart of the "Christian club?" And hear me out, I'm not just talking about weddings and potlucks. I'm speaking about using our buildings for a cause that extends beyond our belief system; using our space to serve the community whether those that use it belief the same as I might (again let's speak about different beliefs and not just different denominations). Our buildings should serve more like the Y rather than a medieval castle. In fact, I'm not sure I really like the hospital metaphor either (The "sick," "weak," and "hurt" come in seeking counsel and aid from the "wise," "strong," and "educated").

What would you choose to do with a church building in order to serve the community?