Water Mosaic echoes from home

pondering the mysteries, simplicity, and humor of life

Friday, July 29, 2005


Well I updated my sidebar links, for those that care.

I spent about an hour at work today reading this blog. I placed her on my sidebar hoping that her series will continue. All I can say is this is messy but fruitful and hopeful.

Link (read all 7 posts if possible)

Work has been insane this past week. Much of my thoughts are drained by the daily mundaneness of work and the fever pitch of trying to match sales goals from the previous year. Needless to say, we won't make our fiscal budget again. On the bright side, I did find out yesterday I'm on some promotional video that is being sent to all our accounts/customers. So I guess I'm a second-rate movie star. Yes, my life is complete now! I just finished up Systematic Theology so my brain is pretty much a mushy substance with large theological words gasping for air. It is nice to have one month to relax and not worry about papers or tests or reading (even though I do enjoy some of what they ask us to read). Well, I hope for a nice weekend to all.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Deconstructing & Reconstructing Missions

Both times I have been to the Nashville Emergent Cohort, I have been strengthened and challenged by the men and women around the table. Our facilitator is a youth worker named Dixon Kinser. Not only does he fit the "emo-rgent" mold, he is one smart cookie. His past two posts on his blog have been very helpful for me in regards to the idea of short term missions.

I don't want to take anything away from what Dixon said so I'll just say that you all should read his posts. The first looks at our current state of missions especially short term mission trips, and deconstructs what might hinder the true formational aspect of what missions mean. From the ashes of this demolition he constructs a healthy view of the term 'missions' and how churches can communicate this old idea in a different paradigm. Follow the links for more.

Deconstructing Short Term Missions Link

Reconstructing Short Term Missions Link

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus

From Bob's website (previous post) I came across a documentary named Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus. Basically it is a roadtrip through "blue country" or the America South. Alt-country singer Jim White takes the audience through prisions, churches, barber shops, truckstops, city fairs, mountains, and swamps. People tell their stories and testimonies behind a backdrop of the rural south and a southern Jesus. These stories ground their identities and explain their place in this world. White sums it up well when he says he's "trying to find the gold tooth in God's crooked smile." The film is stated to have a great lineup concerning various musicians like White, the Handsome Family, Johnny Dowd, and Lee Sexton.

While I haven't seen the film, it is playing in selected theaters. Actually it is showing right now at the Belcourt theatre in Nashville. But this film I think begs the question: How does our socio-environment shape the way we see religion, espeically the way we look at Jesus? I wonder if we could say that the North-East-South-West geography could be a social structure of the "stations of the cross." Meaning, at every "station" is a sign, a plaque, a monument signifying faith. Who hasn't seen a billboard on the highway, or a picture on a Big Rig, or a Jesus Fish in the landscape of Americana giving direction to the non-believer. The South uses a much different typography of faith than say the Northwest or New England area. The faith of the South is portrayed as a private, personal experience made public. We could even say that it's publicizing them. I think that even this faith gets boiled down to mass-producing products for commerical consumption, like the Christ shirt using the Crest toothpaste emblem. While this may be seen throughout the US, I think the South has an undercurrent that bleeds a southern smiling God with the gold tooth.

Post-Rapture Radio

Before I started work yesterday I had an email awaiting in my inbox. It was from a Bob Carlton, a fellow I do not know. His email concerned a book that he desperately thinks needs more attention. The book he was recommending was called Post-Rapture Radio: Lost Writings from the failed Revolution at the End of the Last Century. Although Bob doesn't work for Jossey-Bass (the book's publisher), he said that this brave little book might run the risk of getting lost in the mix of thousands of other books. Russell Rathbun, the author of Post-Rapture, writes through the eyes of a genuine American preacher named Reverend Richard Lamblove.

I haven't read the book, but did read a chapter from it yesterday. Bob sent me the chapter called "Sermon: Confessions of a Post-Evangelical, or Jesus in a Suitcase." It tells of how the Rev Lamblove used to carry Jesus around in a suitcase and would have a change of clothes for him depending on where Jesus went and who he was around. Very entertaining yet written with conviction. If you want to read the short chapter, just email me because I don't know how to place it as a link on my blog.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Random Thoughts

I had several topics I wanted to write about this morning, but I thought I'd cover them quickly since work is going to be crazy today.

Last night I became the husband of the century. Well maybe not, but I'll claim myself to be. Yes my friends I watched the movie that I have specifically avoided all my life since I knew girls did not posses coodies. And it was my decision to watch it. My wife even tried to convince me that I wouldn't like and I'd be bored. She even gave the option to play Tiger Woods golf on Xbox with me. Yet I knew that I wouldn't have lived until I saw every woman's classic cult film Steel Magnolias. And to be quite honest, it wasn't bad. I think it honestly portrayed Southern women at their best....and worst. Weezer cracked me up.

Lately I've been in the mood to listen to some John Prine. If you haven't heard any Prine, I'd suggest you give it a try. He is a veteran singer-songwriter who has had a steady career for almost 30 years. His song's are simple yet poetic and portray a sense of common Midwestern Americana. His new cd is called Fair and Square and is his first solo album in 10 years.

Thanks to everyone chiming in with their book recommendations. I'll definitely need a book when I go to the beach with my in-laws next month. As I finish my class, I found this book at work, Exclusion & Embrace by Miroslav Volf. I hope to hear him at the Emergent Theological Conversation in February at Yale. That is if I am able to beat 100 people at registering first.

Since our church prayed 2 weekends ago for the genocide happening in Darfur, I've had several conversations with people in our church about the situation over there. Glad to know people care and are socially aware.

Monday, July 25, 2005

La Marche De L'Empereur

I love Sunday afternoons. Especially when there is not much work to be done. Since there wasn't any school work waiting for me after lunch or cleaning we had to do around the apartment, my wife and I enjoyed a matinee in Nashville. We saw this movie, March of the Penguins. My wife was incredibly excited because she loves penguins and once she saw the previews for this movie she wanted to see it. I like documentaries, but I wasn't as excited as she was, but I was happy she was excited.

I must say, this was a really good movie. I didn't know much about penguins before I went, but this film educated me on several things. Plus the filmmakers did a fantastic job of capturing these "tuxedo wearing" creatures in their natural habitat of Antarctica. The film portrayed a triumphant and tragic look at life through the eyes of these birds. From the movie, you could tell that penguins felt the emotions of pain, grief, joy, and love. Kudos to Luc Jacquet for making a touching film about the journey these penguins take each year to create life amidst the harsh elements of nature.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Book Recommendation?

Since I am on my last week of graduate classes for the summer and will have a one month hiatus until the fall starts up again, I am asking you to recommend a book for me to read. I have some suggestions in mind but would like your input.

So what book or books or even author(s) should I read in the coming month?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

A Fable: Mzee and Owen

Not many stories in our society are as heartwarming and delightful as the one I'm about to tell you. Reading through the muck of news such as the London bombings, Karl Rove, Iraq, Darfur, and a host of other tragedies, it is hard to see goodness in our world. Its like looking for a fresh daisy in a toxic landfill out in the middle of the desert. But once in a while you come across a story that seems as though it were pulled from the library shelf in the fiction aisle or straight from the mouth of wise ole Mother Goose. Not only is this story true, its packed with meaning, but I'll figure that out.

Our main characters are a 130 year old tortoise named Mzee and an orphaned baby hippopotamus named Owen. Quite the odd couple with amazing stories, they are the best of friends. How did they end up together in Haller Park in Kenya?

Owen lived in Africa along the Sabaki River which flows into the Indian Ocean. Before the monstrous impact of the Tsunami on December 26, the Sabaki became flooded. Owen and his family were separated in the ocean right before Christmas. Even though the Sabaki is in Kenya and was 4000 miles away from the direct impact of the event in Sri Lanka, the coast of Kenya was impacted 12 hours later by the waves. Owen got stranded on a coral reef in the ocean. Villagers from all over began to help save this massive beast from his struggle. Finally, a rugby player by the name Owen tackled the hippo and helped get the 600 pound hippo to safety. Hence, the hippo was named after his courageous rescuer. Since Owen was just a baby and wouldn't be accepted into another hippo family right away, LaFarge Eco Systems agreed to provide a home for the lonely animal in Haller Park. Owen was scared, frightened, and alone tied down in the back of a pick up headed to his new environment. What awaited him was an unlikely friend found in a very old tortoise.

Mzee grew up on an island near Madagascar over 130 years ago. He made his way to Kenya in an unorthodox fashion. After being kidnapped by Aldabra pirates for food, he escaped from being eaten and traveled around the coast of Africa until he wound up in Holler Park. There he encountered a wild, fearful tortoise that sought Mzee's security and guidance. The tortoise was unsure of his new friend. Owen continued to follow Mzee around even though the shelled creature wanted nothing to do with his company. After the first night when Mzee went to sleep, he awoke with Owen snuggled up right next to him. From then on, the two were inseparable. Owen and Mzee continue to spend their days together in the pond, feeding and patrolling. Owen nudges Mzee to come for walks, and Mzee sometimes even follows Owen. The two are an odd match, but many have witnessed the amazing companionship the two have developed over the past 6 months. Dr. Paula Kahumbu, who is the general manager of LaFarge Eco Systems, even has a blog discussing the pair of animals.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Cultivating Kingdom Behavior

On my monotonous drive home each day after work, I'm comforted by my car radio. The only problem is I have to drive with the windows down, for without AC I could easily melt. The volume knob on my radio is usually at half full blast so I can hear past the roaring sounds of traffic and passerbys. Yesterday I listened to NPR most of the way home. I usually don't do this mostly because public radio announcers have a calming voice and even though my windows are down and it is quite noisy outside of my metal moving box, I can doze off to their librarian "inside" voices. During their program All Things Considered, I listened to a commentary by Anisa Mehdi on the late Algerian Trappist monk Christian de Cherge.

In case you are unfamiliar with the monk like I was, let me give you a short background on this godly man. Christian grew up in Algeria to a French military family who were Christian colonizers. Following in his father's footsteps, Christian became a soldier in the Algerian army. Once there he met a Muslim policeman named Mohammed. Even though they quite different, they soon became friends and would take long walks discussing life, politics, and theology. One day Mohammed saved Christian's life by stepping between Algerian rebels and his friend. Although they let both men pass, Mohammed was found dead the next day. Mohammed's death changed Christian's life forever. From that time on Christian became a Trappist monk in the Altas Mountains and strove to dedicate his life to God and peace.

After the death of his beloved friend, Christian wanted to continue to dialogue with Muslims. He would invite Muslims to the monastery not to cultivate Christians, but to cultivate honey, fruit, and friendships. They each tried to sow understanding of God's will and create a model of behavior of the Kingdom of God. They didn't have to believe each other's theology; they just needed to uphold the essentials of their ideals: show mercy, be just, give charity, love one another and love God. In the words of Christian de Cherge, "May God's secret joy be brought forth by our common humanity amid our differences."

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Haunting Invisibility

This past weekend was the national weekend of prayer for Darfur. If you read this blog or read the paper you've probably known that a national crisis is happening in the land of Sudan. Genocide has claimed more than 400,000 lives, not to mention the senseless violence that has left women raped, men emasculated, families and communities destroyed.

Many may remember Rwanda, especially if you saw Hotel Rwanda, and the atrocities that occurred between its people. A large difference between what is happening in Rwanda and Darfur is that women who are raped are not killed like they were in Rwanda. Rather, they are returned to their communities as outcasts, creating a class of invisible people. Rape has become a weapon of war used by the Khartoum government that keeps the Sudanese Liberation Army and the Justice Equality Movement from controlling any territory in Darfur.

These women are being virtually erased from their own people, tribe, and culture. Thanks to Susie Albert Miller, I ran across some haunting artwork that portrays their suffering plight. Beverly Collins, the artist behind these images, says, "In them I see a beauty that is free and willing to flaunt itself in the face of challenging and demoralizing conditions and circumstances. Although the the women are virtually invisible, as denoted in the absence of their faces, the fabrics and colors they adorn themselves with are full of life and the reflection of light." She goes on to say that the injustice inflicted upon the Sudanese women are a metaphor for the emotional , physical, and economical rape people experience in all the corners of this earth and the heroic steps victims of these acts take to survive.

Last Sunday I asked my church to pray for these people. I didn't know how many knew of the crime that has been ongoing in this region. I didn't know if anyone would care or would continue to pray or be aware of the problem after church. I certainly wasn't the person to speak up on such matters knowing my own failure and hypocrisies. But I asked everyone to face SE in the direction of Africa and had people express healing, acceptance, love with their bodies while we prayed. I'm no Bible expert but there seems to be examples of others expressing their prayers physically than just through speech. I hope that justice will arise out of the ashes of humanity's blindness.

For Beverly's sake, I erased the pictures. Go to her site to see more. Thanks.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Napoleon Dynamite Action Figures


"Buy me, and all your dreams will come true." - Pedro

Thanks Jen Lemen

Ever since I started blogging over a year ago, I have encountered many people over the spectrum of this earth. People from the same state as me to people overseas have encompassed my "online" community for the past year. I've listened to them unveil their spirits more than I choose to, on more than one occasion. While I've never met many of these people in person, they have been a voice that I have enjoyed especially regarding the emerging church. One of those voices is signing off after almost 2 years of blogging. Her first post poignantly set the tone of her blog.

"my friend dj said i should just let it all hang out, uncensored and let the words say whatever and let it be whatever, who cares? since i find myself up in the middle night with my mind racing over various heretical thoughts with no one to share them with, i figure it's time again to take my soap box back to cyberspace. here goes...."

Thanks Jen Lemen for your unashamed vulnerability, your poetic rants, the artwork, and your recipes that my wife and I have yet to indulge in. Peace on your new journey.

PBS: Emerging Church

Even though PBS in Nashville hasn't aired this special coverage on the Emerging Church, I thought I'd post the links to the transcript to the 2 part report.

Part One

Part Two

Extended interview with Brian McLaren

Friday, July 15, 2005

Pieces of April

The other night I saw a vision of what the fulfilled Kingdom of God might look like. No, it didn’t involve people suddenly disappearing out of thin air, or witnessing individuals getting thrown into the burning lake of fire. This vision didn’t come from a midnight’s summer dream, or solemn meditative state in a far off monastery. Rather it came from the last hour of a movie my wife and I watched on the television.

Around 9 each night we relax from housework, reading, writing papers, and take the time to rest in each other’s presence. For some reason we get a movie channel with our cheap basic cable, leaving us curious as to what movie will be on when we turn to that particular station. That night we started watching a movie called Pieces of April. Now we started in the middle of the picture so all previous characters or plot or storyline were unbeknownst to us. Typically, I don’t enjoy watching a film from the middle till the end. It’s like the guilty pleasure of reading the last few chapters of a large novel or entering in the wrap tunnel on Super Mario Brothers. But there was something different about this movie that made my wife and I captivated by the kooky characters and their environment, not to mention the filmmakers use of HD filming to add to the tone of the story.

Without giving too much away, April Burns (Katie Holmes) invites her dysfunctional family to Thanksgiving dinner at her minuscule apartment on New York's Lower East Side. As they make their way to the city from suburban Pennsylvania, April must endure a comedy of errors - like finding out her oven doesn't work - in order to pull off the big event. Even though the family is quite fearful of meeting their deranged daughter for the holiday feast, they end up arriving along with some unexpected guests. The guest list includes April’s Chinese neighbors that don’t speak English, April’s African American boyfriend (Derek) who has a bloody lip from a fight with a white gangster (April’s ex-boyfriend), and two motorcycle riders that gave half of the Burns family a ride out to the East Side of NY.

Before the credits role, we witness a host that is at wits end knowing nothing about how to prepare a simple meal, much less a Thanksgiving meal. But what struck me was that these diverse people, some meeting each other for the first time, ate a meal together in a small shabby apartment in the poor urban district of New York. Reconciliation came to the Burns family as they posed for a family Christmas card in the drab lighting of their great feast. So how does this envision the Kingdom of God? Well, maybe this was a modern day parable of the wedding feast that Jesus spoke of.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

A Wal-Mart World

Did you know that 1 out of 115 people in the United States are employeed at those blue low-price forts? Did you know that if it were a nation, it would be one of the world's top 20 economies? John Dicker has a new book out that looks at this corporate giant called The United States of Wal-Mart.

Where I live, there are no other real competitors except Krogers, Food Lion, and Buy-Lo. For those who live near a Cosco, I found this article quite interesting. Link.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Unity Via Marginalization

"The church cannot be a sign of unity if it achieves unity by marginalizing those who do not fit. Unity at the expense of the weak is not a sign of Christ's hopsitality welcoming all into God's household."

A peron I know, N, teaches a girl’s high school Bible study class on Sunday mornings at Church X. She has enjoyed meeting with this group of girls as they have discussed many topics. One girl in her class, who is 17, is pregnant. But the catch is, she isn’t married. (Cue thematic music: dun dun duuunnnnnnnnnnnn)

So seeing as how she is going to keep the baby you would think that she needs lots of materials to prepare for the baby’s arrival. That’s what baby shower’s are for, right? Well this church will not have a shower for her at the building. They even will not make an announcement or put it in the bulletin to tell others when a shower could be, outside the building. The reason? I’m sure you can figure it out. The odd thing is, they had a shower for an unmarried woman in the past, but they decided not to do it again. The reason? Someone got mad and left the church.

(possible ranting ahead. you’re welcome to stop reading)
So I guess if someone isn’t happy with showing love to someone who was either raped or had sex before she said, “I do.” then we can dismiss them? Makes sense right? I mean if I don’t like what you’re doing then I can just leave and find somewhere else that will not put up with this behavior. Therefore, the church can assimilate itself to bring back the one single person who left and say, “We will never do that again. Sorry. Won’t you come back now?”

Isn’t this a massive tumor that is being avoided?!? Why is the person in the pew that probably has church doctrine down pat more important than a teenage girl that is desperately in need of love and support?

I quoted Letty Russell at the very beginning of this post. The reason why is she is a lesbian theologian at Yale Divinity School. She probably has been more marginalized than most have been in life, especially in regards to church. Even though I might not be crazy about her lifestyle, she speaks with a prophetic voice that needs to be heard.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Remembering Our Unimpressiveness

"we gather in public which is a new and (i believe) import practice for us. by gathering in a public space (especially outdoors) we are scaled down to human size and we get a better sense of just how small we are. it is the opposite effect of gathering as church in a massive sanctuary with thousands of people where the whole world is shut out and all of God (it might seem) is inside with us. it seems to me that one of the best things we can do as humans is to be conscious of being restricted to a particular place while considering the cosmic scope of God's loving, missional reach. this practice will slowly engender an awareness of the unrelenting and gracious movement of God's embodied love from the particular to the universal...and back again."
- communality

"The church is never far from the insignificance of Jesus and his band of unimpressive followers. It is always setting out from the particular in the direction of God's incalculable gift of everything." (p.18, Bible and Mission)

Friday, July 08, 2005

From the Mouth of Thunder

I'm posting this in order to see what kind of response is generated from my friend's musings. I'm not as politically minded as Thunder is, but he brings in some excellent observations regarding our concept of who the terrorists are and why they take desperate action. Well enough of my ramblings, read on.

How Understanding Dictates Action
Let me first state that what happened in London this morning was awful. Now let me say something about response to it.

George Bush stated that terrorists have evil in their hearts. That to me is a succinct statement about how he understands terrorism. Terrorists are evil, essentially living bogeyman. Terrorism can only be solved by destroying evil, thus the US response to terrorism is largely done through its military.

This seems wrong to me. I don't think terrorists are evil, I think that they are desperate. They have no method of telling the rest of the world to stop what it is doing to them economically and culturally, so they attack to make sure we know they exist and that they are pissed. I don't want to justify it, but I do want to understand it for what it is so that I can respond appropriately.

How should we respond? Peacemaking. We educate, we feed, and we listen to them. We try to understand why they would oppose McCulture infiltrating their way of life. We try to find new ways forward that both liberate oppressed women and preserve the essence of their culture. We stop killing them with free trade and give fair trade a chance. We stop supporting Pakistani and Saudi government that dominate their people. This would be more difficult and require more of us than a military response, but I think it would foster genuine change and an end to terrorism.

Because leaders like Bush postulate a bogeymen rather than a desperate group of people, they cannot understand this kind of approach. Let us hope that their violence doesn't make them more desperate.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Book Tag via Neil

1. How many books have I owned?
Not many. 100-200 maybe. Since I've been in grad school, my book count has risen greatly.

2. What was the last book you bought?
I purchased The Life of Pi for my Mom and The World is Flat for my Dad as birthday presents. For myself, I bought The Sacred Way a few weeks ago.

3. What was the last book you read?
Well...I'm currently reading 6 books at this time (4 for class, 2 for enjoyment) and several essays (for class). Authors ranging from Grenz, Cottrell, McLaren, Hicks, Jones, Hunter III, and Placher.

4. What are FIVE books that have meant a lot to you?
All of these are contextual and in no particular order:
The Mystery of God's Will by Charles Swindoll: Came into my hands at the right time.
Mere Discipleship by Lee Camp: Not only was this revolutionary, but so was his ecclesiology class last fall.
Selected Writings by Dorothy Day: this Catholic woman can write with conviction and artistry.
In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen: given to me by my mentor Mike Stroud. Every page drips with humility and holiness.
McLaren's trilogy: the first unraveled my faith, the second made me ask myself if i wasn't a Christian if i believed this stuff, the last about corrupted me. Man I'm glad he wrote those.

Honorable mention: Foster's Celebration of Discipline, Willard's Divine Conspiracy, and Kimball's Emerging Church.

5. Tag five people who haven't played yet.
Daniel Greeson
Tony Peterson
Jason Isabell
Chris Benjamin
Gilbert Kerrigan (this will make you blog again, hopefully)

London and G8

If you are a person that prays or believes in prayer, keep a few things in mind...if you don't mind.

One is the current tragedy in London. This hits home because my folks just got back from London like a week and a half ago. I really don't know why junk like this happens in our world, so I wish I had something smart or healing to say about this situation.

Second is the G8 Sumit that is meeting right now in Scotland.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Back in the Saddle

I've returned from my 4th of July mini-vacation in Texas. My wife and I flew down Friday and hung out with grandparents, parents, sibling, cousins, aunt, uncle, niece, dogs, and cats. We were west of Dallas in a town called Grandbury where my aunt and uncle live right off the Brazos River. It was a weekend of 'firsts' for me: first time to ride a jet ski, drive a boat, waterski, and tubing. Saw some nice fireworks and enjoyed some tasty Texas BBQ. Tennessee needs to stop eating that pork junk and get with the brisket program. Glad we were on the lake most of the time because it was 100 degrees during the day and like low 90s at night. So thanks to all that were in attendance (thanks mom & dad for flying us down) and hope to do it again next year.

EC: Emergent Confessional

Thanks to Gavin (via Jim) for putting this on his blog. Even though I'm no church leader or paid minister, I can say much of this is true in my inner-core.

What follows is an admission of unhealthy patterns I have developed as I have 'surfed the edge of chaos' toward a 'missional, continually converted, connecting, equipping, aqua church' that 'stands on the threshold of the future between gospel and culture,' practices a 'virtual, ancient-future faith' and 're-imagines spiritual formation,' embraces 'leadership on the other side,' and exerts 'irresistible influence' while becoming 'an unstoppable force' in the world. I have realized there is 'a future for truth' and entered 'the dance of change' and connected with others to 'generate hope' as 'a peculiar people.' I have become 'blue like jazz' while learning to 'let my life speak.' However, I am 'less ready than I realized' and not as 'generous' or 'orthodox' as I sometimes let on. I am better at deconstructing the present than 'shaping the things to come.' In fact, I have reached 'the tipping point' of true confession regarding the dark side of my emergent sensibilities.

1. I have used 'new' language to cover up 'old' behavior.
My sinful tendencies and patterns are not all that different from twenty years ago when I was into 'doing theology' and implementing church growth strategies. It's nice to think that I have a prophetic imagination in a de-centered culture, but really I'm consistently angry and pissed off about unmet expectations. It sounds great when I deconstruct the systems and strategies of a mechanistic worldview, but I am often nurturing a critical, judgmental attitude. I can speak of organic environments and missional patterns in a way that feeds my ego and supposedly keeps me at the cutting edge. I can describe the 'double-loop liminality' of those attached to the world of Christendom, but I, too, struggle with bouts of fear and anxiety. Perhaps I have gained some awareness of cultural transitions and emergent dynamics in recent years, but I still have to continually release the grip on my own baggage: anger, judgment, fear, and pride. If I don't, I bring pain to those with whom I serve and limit the possibilities of shared life and ministry.

2. I have allowed a big gap between my intentions and my behavior.
I can converse ad nauseum about the comprehensive nature of the gospel: the gospel is a way of life, the gospel bears witness to God's reign, the gospel embraces the practices of Jesus (and his early followers), the gospel challenges prevailing social and political systems, the gospel calls for the sharing of life and ministry with the poor, the gospel confronts self-protection and autonomy, etc., etc. I have consistently had good intentions about faithfully modeling and proclaiming this gospel. But, to be crass, how I spend my money, how I use my time, where I live, and who I hang out with say more about what I really believe than well-crafted words. There have been too many times where I have called people to the life I intended to live, not to the life I was actually living. It is only in recent years that I have made some of the lifestyle changes that bring a greater capacity for wholeness, generosity, love, and simplicity. Rather than passively benefiting from systems of injustice while declaring a radically inclusive gospel, I have taken small steps to live in a way that challenges these systems.

3. I have missed significant 'life signs' in traditional (i.e. 'modern') ministry systems and models.
I have spent so much energy reacting to and challenging hierarchical leadership, Sunday morning vendor events, programmatic ministry, centralized decision-making, personality-driven youth ministry, segmented ministry areas, project-oriented mission, etc., etc. that I am sometimes surprised that people are actually being transformed in this framework. I have dismissed most denominations as being totally irrelevant, yet my recent work as a congregational coach has opened my eyes to the informed theologies, historical practices, and culturally-engaged attitudes that are being creatively carried into the new world. There are some struggling denominational urban congregations that are far ahead of some 'growing' suburban, emergent churches when it comes to sustained, yet adaptive cultural engagement.

4. I have been drawn to innovative concepts, creative language, and imaginative interpretation and undervalued the immediate, particular, daily opportunities to simply love God and others.
I have gone through periods of time when I've been captured and consumed by 'big picture' issues and visionary possibilities. I have played out imaginative scenarios for missional engagement in a postmodern, post Christendom, post-Einstein, post-whatever world, but more often than I like to admit, I have not been fully present with my family, available to my neighbors, or responsive to the needs of my friends. Only recently have I begun to experience the deep joy of being firmly rooted in a particular place and time with a particular group of people. I have become more alert to a major myth of modernity: the 'clean slate.' When it comes to relationships, we don't have multiple 'do-overs.'

5. I have overestimated my role as a 'change agent.'
A subtle grandiosity can enter the hearts and minds of those who think they understand the cultural landscape and feel called to being a 'prophetic presence.' In their desire to have 'an impact' in a given context and be 'a catalyst' of transformation, they can fall into the trap of trying to convince others so that they 'get it.' I have fallen into this trap. I have used relational, organic, emergent language to bring about pre-determined outcomes and then wondered why there was so much resistance. I have been selectively 'authentic' so that the changes I wanted would become reality. As one who has become incredibly sensitive to the leveraging strategies of others, I still catch myself trying to 'make something happen.' This remains a 'dark side' area that continually needs the light of truth-telling friends.