Water Mosaic echoes from home

pondering the mysteries, simplicity, and humor of life

Thursday, September 30, 2004

The Fear of a Prophet

Why do I feel like I must seek to please everyone when God can't even do it?

My heart is scared of the fact that I could be not liked to others if my decisions or actions aren't matching their expectations. The idolatry I serve is the idol of people pleasing. Leadership does not become an attitude of courageous choices that they challenge and push others, but of maintance. A maintance that keeps people happy. It's the fear of being a prophet that overwhelms me. Prophets always had a Word from God which was totally against the current lifestyle and understanding. Almost always, people disregarded them or sought to put an end to their message. The messengers would never win a popularity contest, would never be the first picked in a pick up game of basketball, would never sit with the "cool" kids at the lunch table, and would never drive the fancy car or wear the brightest linens. These unique individuals were called by God to live differently in the face of all that surrounded them. How easily they could have turned and swam with the current? Would fear and doubt drive these prophets back to the hills were they came? Wouldn't 40 years of deaf ears be enough to quit repeating the message to the masses? Would I still believe the message I would proclaim for 20 years and never see any results?

Why do I feel like I must seek to please everyone when God can't even do it? Wait...God could do it but chooses not to. Maybe I should as well.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

An Odd Look Into Community

This week for class (Ecclesiology) we are reading writings from those radical reformist, the Anabaptists. Through out their thoughts of the sacraments (baptism and Lord's supper), church discipline, reading the Bible, and discipleship, they seem to echo the call of Saint Benedict to share your belongings as well as your life with those in the believing community. A generous outflow proceeds from one individual to another regarding their time, their possessions, their ideas, their gifts, their hearts, their strengths and weaknesses, and their service.

The term community has been a popular term as of late, especially in the church circles. I must admit, I get excited about this term, but have a hard time explaining what a true sense of community looks like or how one describes it. What constitutes a group of people that forms a particular community? Is a community populated by more than 2 people, 5, 10 , 20 people? And even if this community gathers together once every so often, is it ever effective? Does it reflect upon the participant's surroundings, their neighbors, their families, their core values and ethics? When is a community authentic? (again, another buzz word)

O.K. this post is traveling a different road, but lets continue. When I think of the word community, I think about one group that demonstrate this idea: terrorist. I'm not a fan of terrorist (an understatement), but what strikes me as an important element in their logic is their strong belief in mission. A group of terrorist are individuals bonded by a dream that each one desires to see it come to a completion. They train themselves in essentials to reaching the goal and continually learn new ways to effectively establish their mission. Not only that, but they are so transformed by this mission that they are willing to die for it's cause. Recruiting for these terrorist groups seems to be easy because the people see how strongly and effectively they carry out their task. Moreover, the youth have nothing else to turn to in their society but violence and hate to grasp the power that they so desperately want. (Remember, lets not just think of the Middle East, but gangs in America, guerrilla soldiers in Darfur and South America, the corrupt law enforcers of Eastern Europe or Russia)

How can we relate this image to our communities of faith? I don't mean the specific beliefs or the means behind carrying them out, but their sense of mission and their lifestyle that furthers that dream of being fulfilled. What does a community look like in this sense? A missional community that seeks to gather individuals and train them to go forth and accomplish the desired goal? A community that is disciplined and always willing to be available for their fellow follower? A community that shares resources? A community which seeks to implement love in place of hate, peace in place of violence, sacrifice in place of selfishness? A community that is driven to go and change if they must to accomplish their main ideas? A community that bands together to detonate secretly planned acts of loving service to their "foreign" neighbor? Maybe...

Friday, September 24, 2004

Martin Luther and The Dude

During our discussion in class last night (Ecclesiology with Lee Camp), we reviewed Martin Luther's teaching and ideology of the ethic of vocation. By this Luther states that we are called to be many things, such as a preacher, a father/mother, a prince, an executioner, a judge, a soldier, etc. There is also another call that is from Jesus that is found in the Sermon on the Mount which regards individual ethics, relationships, etc. The problem with this is Luther separates these two into categories of sacred as well as spiritual. Again, let me not critisize Luther for during his time he was introducing a new (modern) thought into a deeply medieval society. Almost like these "emergent" leaders are doing now.

After class I began asking myself how we would handle such a merging of these two categories. Example, what would it mean regarding "just" wars and killing others for the sake of our safety? What would it mean to operate and manage a business? How would we view holistic healing? Would the body and soul merge into one unified cell? Could we as Christians enlist in the military knowing full well that we would have to kill our so-called "enemy?"

Eugene Peterson has been a big influence for me for one particular reason. "Knowing who you are precedes what you do." I love the Coen brother's movies. One of which is the Big Labowski. The Dude (Jeff Bridges) is asked by a prominent handicapped man what he does. The Dude answers, "Well, I sometimes I walk on the beach, take naps, etc. I'm the Dude. That or Duder. His Dudeness. Or El Duderino, if you're not into the whole brevity thing." The point is the Dude is. . . . The Dude. He takes his identity as who he is, not in what he does.

So my overarching theme there is we must view this world not in two separate paradigms, but as one unified whole. Then, I believe, our identity will be shaped by who we are instead of what we do.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The Element of Story

So busy. For those of you who don't know or care, my car has been dead for two days now. My wife was driving it Monday and it died on her at the bank. Several people have been a big help to us during this time, too many to mention. So she went and bought a new battery and that wasn't the problem. Then Bob Chaplin and I removed the alternator and had it tested only to find out that it was putting out 14 volts (aka it was in good shape). So now I think its the new battery. I went to Wal-Mart (a place I despise) and they wouldn't take the battery back because it was their "policy." They charged it up for me (took 40 minutes to which I was late to my former reservations) but still I have no idea that this battery is going to last me another week. Policy. I tell you, if Sam Walton was still around he wouldn't let this happen. Can Wal-Mart not afford to give me 30 dollars back? I was not a happy camper last night to say the least.

Jennifer went and had dinner with our friends, Robert and Emily. Emily cooked a tasty poppy-seed chicken casserole and my wife made an awesome chocolate chip cake. Following the festivities, we looked at their wedding pictures and then proceeded to watch "Second Hand Lions." For some reason I have preconceived notions about certain films that keep me from ever wanting to watch them. I have an odd taste in movies in the first place so that doesn't help, but certain films I just have no desire to see, such as Hidalgo or Welcome to Mooseport. Anywho, I really enjoyed this film. Robert Duval is hilarious!

What the film showed me is the power of story. Throughout the movie Michael Clark's character tells his nephew (Walter aka Haley Joel) bits and pieces of him and his brother's (Duval) amazing journey. Their adventures take them to Europe and then Africa in which one falls in love and is constantly chased by an evil shiek, not to mention lots of gold coins thrown in the mix. There is a scene in which Walter asks Duval to give him the "what every boy needs to know about being a man" speech. For me this resembled Jesus speaking to one of his disciple's. Finally at the end (don't worry, not telling) you see how Walter and others are joined together by a story that they carried with them. Not only that but they embodied the story as well. And those crazy outlandish stories, as wild and unbelievable as they may be, are real and trustworthy. These two men lived out their story and it was apart of their being. And when they passed them on, it was carried by those that heard it. This movie has great implications of the story we as followers of Jesus tell and live. As we share the story of God, we are also wrapped up in its plot. We become involved in the story and are affected by its power and its on-goingness.

Great stuff. I recommend this movie to anyone. See it and watch the element of storytelling explode into a beautiful picture.

Tonight Wilco plays at the Uptown Mix. I could see my favorite band for $7, but alas I must finish reading 50 pages of Martin Luther, fix my car and watch the taped finale of Amazing Race.

Friday, September 17, 2004


I hope everyone enjoys the weekend. Tonight I'm off on a date with my lovely wife. Tomorrow I have a doctor's appointment about a mole I had removed when I was 8. It seems to be growing back and I had the original one cut off for cancer prevention so lets hope its nothing serious. After that, my wife and I are off to Franklin to look for a couch. Sunday I maybe teaching the college class (let me know T) and watching some Titans football.

Thursday, September 16, 2004


I have recently been grappling with the issue of leadership. I ask myself if I am a good leader, but before I do that I guess I must define what I think a good leader encompasses. After reading St. Benedict and John Huss, I find that leadership must walk the fine line of humble servant (veering more this direction) and strong director. I have read lots of Tim Elmore material as well as half a John Maxwell book about leadership. I enjoyed Elmore more than Maxwell (Elmore is a student of Maxwell) but I wonder if they just take business ideas and practice them into a church setting. I do not agree with "powerbrokers" or "CEO" models of leadership. Then I read Eugene Peterson and he says that one must define who he/she is before they define themselves as what they do. What is your identity? is a focal question a leader must ask himself/herself. Then I stumble upon this "postmodern" conversation that discusses the fluidity of emerging leadership vs. the rigidity of modern leadership. Parts I like, others I don't. And finally I read Henri Nouwen and his view of leadership is downward mobility.

With all this being said, what defines a "good" leader? Humility, passion, creativity, listening, serving, learning, compassionate. I'm sure there are several other characteristics you can add or remove, but this is my initial understanding of the word leadership.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Communion with Cash

I recently read an article online about Johnny Cash and famous producer Rick Rubin. Apparently before Cash died he spent the final months with Rubin practicing Christian rituals with the eccentric music producer Rubin.

Rubin, Def Jam Records founder, produced Cash's final five albums and is said to have revived Cash's flagging career. With the death of Cash's wife June Carter, the man in black was brought closer to his friend and producer Rubin as they took communion every day. Cash acted as the priest and administered the sacrament to Rubin. Cash reportedly used crackers and grape juice instead of the traditional wine and wafers. Rubin said, "Johnny would say: 'Visualize the eating, swallow. Feel it.'" Even though Cash has passed away, Rubin continued to celebrate the Eucharist stating, "For between probably four and five months, it felt exactly the same. Johnny's presence was much more available. I could get quiet and I could hear him say it."

Monday, September 13, 2004

Dickson County Fair

Saturday night my wife and I went down to her parents house in Dickson, TN. I was supposed to hang out with my father-in-law but he had to work Saturday night so the night was spent with my wife. Where did we go? The Dickson County Fair! Oh yeah. The tenacious mullet seemed to still the prominent hairstyle and were supported with fine taste of the sleeveless fabrics and rebel flag designs. I wasn't too excited about going but I wanted to experience a demolition derby for the first time.

To my surprise, the derby was incredibly fun. Each heat had about 11 cars in a small dirt arena with concrete walls surrounding the outside so none of the fans would be hurt. Not only that, but firemen were on hand ready to douse a flaming car if one was to catch fire. If you have never experienced something like this, you are missing out. I was even yelling very loudly, "YEAH BABY!!" while pumping my fist in air. What fun! After we left, I wanted to drive into a muddy pit and do donuts all night in a junky Hurst all the while shifting the furry out of my 8 Ball stick-shift and singing some random George Jones song.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Freedom from Bondage

How many of us have seen the Christian life portrayed in the writings of Romans 7? We "struggle" with sin by doing what we don't want to do and the things we want to do, we don't do them. Yet isn't the essence of walking with Christ in Romans 8 as well as 12? Let me explain.

Paul uses the imagery of "slavery" instead of "guilt" when describing sin. Instead of the attitude of "you better not touch that or do that," Paul takes the slavery image and uses it as "surely as Adam tried to be his own master by being God, we in turn are mastered by sin itself." (Remember what God said to Cain in Genesis 4: "sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.") We all know that addiction can master us and place us under its reign. Whether that's the addiction of drugs, pornography, lying, people-pleasing, laziness, you name it, we have no way of keeping these powers at bay by our willingness. We hold on to them and say, "I'm not going to do that(fill in the blank) ever again," and the next thing you know you're still holding on to that sin, feeding it with our "struggling" efforts. But Paul has something very important to say about this. He suggests in Romans that we don't try and "kill" sin, but we "allow it to die ("put to death"). We allow it to atrophy by leaving it alone.

In Alcoholics Anonymous, participants practice 12 disciplines to deliver them from the stronghold of their addiction. Dallas Willard has said it is a great travesty is seeing 12 step programs living out the gospel (Kingdom of God) more than regular church members. Yesterday someone told me a story about a man who has been through the program and has been sober for a number of years. He said that he's not going to take a drink today. It maybe a different story for tomorrow or a week from now, but he sure isn't going to drink today. Why? He said because he got on his knees that morning and said "God help me not take a drink today." The point of the story was his focus on one day. When I have addictions, I tend to focus on the time it will take to end it. I miss the now in front of me by seeing how this is going to affect me and how it can be handled. Instead I must get on my knees and say "God, your grace forgives, but it also empowers me to be free from this. So for today, please help me." Yes grace is unmerited favor (77 X 7) but it is also empowering me to live a life God intended all along, or as Jesus says, "the abundant life."

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Reflections from Psalm 42

As a child, I lived freely. No cares, no worries, no bills, no problems. Sometimes no shoes and shirt didn't really matter. I lived with such adventure and mystery. A sense of awe would encompass my imagination at the smallest detail of life. I didn't mind getting wet, running through a sprinkler, or playing in the rain. Now as time has past and I grew up and "getting wet" was viewed as child's play. Immature. Childish. This viewed was not given to me by my family but my culture, our society.

As a Christian, I still avoided God "getting me wet." Bending over and sipping from a calm moving stream is what I was used to. "This is the norm," I would say to myself. I tremble when I hear the thunderous crash of the mighty waterfall nearby, but it is to risky to explore. Besides, I've seen other waterfalls in my life, why should this one be any different? But I never let my sense of wonder take me there. Always staying dry. Always drinking from the stream. Getting what I need and no more. But "getting wet" is where life is! Swimming in God's ocean, standing and playing under the majestic cataracts, drinking of the living water. How can I survive only the minimum when I am so thirsty? When will sipping not be enough to fed me?

I shall allow the waves of God's almighty love billow over me. I shall drink deep from the living God's grace. I shall dive into the depths of his heart. Then and only then will one behold the face of the Awesome Creator. Then will I be free to "get wet."

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Wisdom from Mr. Foster

While on my lunchbreak, I stumbled upon seven lessons from Richard Foster regarding ministry. Renovare is Foster's organization that has been established for at least 15 years.

Lesson 1: Always stay light on your feet. Effective ministry does not require huge overheads from the costs of buildings and people.

Lesson 2: Always focus on being a movement: Aviod the forces of institutionalization that depersonalizes or at worst chews people up. Organism is to be preferred over organization; but organization is not "bad". Just stay dynamic and nimble; only have the minimum structure necessary.

Lesson 3: Always attend to the soul's growth in grace: Distractions to this abound; even religious distractions. Richard says "we evaluate everything with the simple question: will this help people grow in grace?"

Less on 4: Always center on life in the Kingdom of God: The advance of Jesus and his Kingdom comes first. Always! We must decrease that Jesus and his Kingdom can increase.

Lesson 5: Always prefer people over programs: What really helps and enhances the lives of people? This is the question Renovare asks. If we are pushing ourselves, or staff or our volunteers too hard we back off. We should never have to disobey the way Christ taught us to live in order to do the work God has given us to do.

Lesson 6: Always trust the Spirit, never the flesh: By "flesh," Richard means humanly initiated activity without any reference to God. Richard often critiques Renovare's work by asking "how much of what has happened at a certain event cannot be explained by our skill or brain power, or how was our skill and brain power used in ways that is beyond us?"

Lesson 7: Always follow the passion: Before launching a new initiative, Renovare always waits until someone demonstrates passion. This requires discipline and patience. They have at times waited for years for the right person, passion and resources to come together. Then they step out in faith..

"These are simple lessons; most we will have heard before. But like going on a diet, hearing isn’t the big deal; doing is." (Todd Hunter) Foster has helped me in several avenues of my journey through his writings. I hope this is a source of encouragement to you and your ministry. Numbers 2, 5 and 6 resonate with me. How about you?

Tuesday, September 07, 2004


My Sunday was depressing in a way. Why? My heart was with those parents and friends and classmates and those terrorists that were involved in the attacks of School 1 in Beslan, Russia. Not only that, but during church not once was this issue ever mentioned or prayed over. When one prayed it was all about AMERICA. Now I'm not against praying for America (we need to be on our knees for our country), but when we call on our Lord to thank him for OUR freedom, and OUR liberty, and OUR courage, it is near-sighted. The person prayed for OUR troops and for OUR safety. Aren't there other troops that are fighting in the Middle East such as British troops, Iraqi troops, and what about praying for the insurgents of these attacks? What about praying for actual peace to reign instead of keeping OUR guys and girls safe while we kill everyone against OUR agenda?

Please don't take my comments to belittle this person's prayer or to say God didn't hear him. May God have mercy on me whenever I step in and say someone's prayer is wrong. Trust me, there have been times when my mouth is moving but there is no heart involved, or I'm praying to please the crowd. I'm still learning how to pray and converse with God. I just want us to remove our nationalistic lens and see the world (not just America) and people (not just Americans) as God's beautiful creation.

My question then to you all is...What does prayer mean to you? How do you view prayer? Was something ever answer in prayer that you didn't expect? Or maybe something didn't happen that you asked for? What Scripture or quote or example puts prayer into perspective for you? Whom have you learned prayer from?

Friday, September 03, 2004


Last night in our class we were discussing eschatology (the coming of Christ, end times, etc.) and the theme came up about the many references to "this coming age" or "the coming world" "the day of the Lord." Now my understanding, from Lee Camp was the Jews knew that they lived in the old aeon, but when Christ would arrive the new aeon would come about. It would establish God's reign over the earth and especially over the Romans. But as the Kingdom of God is understood, it is a reality but not yet. It is here but not yet fully.

So Christ came, brought the Kingdom into reality, and left us to be agents for him to the ministry of reconciliation. Matt Deton (a wonderful guy in our class) said, "Then why isn't the things that happened in the early church movement, healing, power, miracles, wonder, happening today?" He went on to answer his own question in a way saying, "I guess it'll have to be an underground movement. People getting no attention or recognition for their service." I admire his heart because I feel like Matt is one of those underground folks. Lets be underground, grassroots followers of Jesus.

Song in my head: I'm a Wheel by Wilco (album: A Ghost is Born)

Thursday, September 02, 2004

An Eastern Metaphor

In the Far East there is a traditional image of the difference between heaven and hell. In hell, the ancients said, people have chopsticks one yard long so they cannot possibly reach their mouths. In heaven, the chopsticks are also one yard long-but, in heaven, the people feed one another.

To live for someone besides ourselves, how shall we as a nation ever learn to hear the cries of the starving in Ethiopia and the illiterate and AIDS stricken Africa and the refugees in the Sudan and the economic situation in Central America?

On the Bill O' Reilly Show, Bono said, "I'm rooting for people that don't have a vote and for people whose faces we don't see." If my memory proves correct, wasn't Jesus about rooting for those who didn't have a voice, whose faces we don't see? Thanks Bono.

Song in my head: Patty Griffin's Chief (album: 1000 Kisses)

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Reality Bites

For those of you who care, I didn't get the job in Arkansas that we interviewed with this past weekend. It came down to the big E...EXPERIENCE. All is well though because Jennifer and I felt like they needed someone that knew how to juggle the responsibilities better than I did.

Some of you know that my wife and I are ridiculously entertained by two reality TV shows each week. Those being Big Brother 5 and Amazing Race. Big Brother is really stupid but we still watch it every Tuesday. The Amazing Race is just awesome (go Chip & Kim!). Both of these shows include individuals who have a "strong" Christian faith. Now the shows ARE reality but ARE also produced, so many shots are cut out and commentaries made are edited for entertainment. So my comments are what I see on TV, which maybe different than real life. With that said, I have a beef with two of the "players" of each show for how they exploit their faith during the hour long show. On Big Brother, two twins are constantly saying that they have faith and that leads their lives. But they lie, are dishonest and come off as racist to the other players in the game. Sure its a game, but it reveals the type of person you are and the values one holds. On Amazing Race, these Christians are saying "I guess the Lord wants us in the game" after they find out that they're not eliminated during last nights game. Not only that but they refused to cut off their hair during a leg of the race because they are both models. Yes, the Lord wants you to be in a game of greed where you compete for a lot of money and keep your precious hair so you can continue to be vain and pretty.

Sorry to be so negative. I actually feel bad about writing this, but I wanted to get this off my chest today. I guess its easy to be critical when I'm not the one playing the game. Apologies.

Song in my head: Dig a Pony by the Beatles (album: Let It Be)
I dig a pony
Well you can celebrate anything you want
Well you can celebrate anything you want--
I do a road hog
Well you can penetrate any place you go
Yes you can penetrate any place you go
I told you, all I want is you.
Ev'rything has got to be just like you want it to
Because -

I pick a moondog
Well you can radiate ev'rything you are
Yes you can radiate ev'rything you are--
I roll a stoney
Well you can imitate ev'ryone you know
Yes you can imitate ev'ryone you know
I told you, all I want is you.
Ev'rthing has got to be just like you want it to
Because -

I feel the wind blow
Well you can indicate ev'rything you see
Yes you can indicate ev'rything you see--
I dug a pony
Well you can syndicate any boat you row
Yes you can syndicate any boat you row
I told you, all I want is you.
Ev'rything has got to be just like you want it to
Because -