Archive for July, 2010|Monthly archive page

i sit on sarah good

In Uncategorized on July 26, 2010 at 2:35 am

the salem witch trials memorial

over the past month i’ve started visiting the salem witchcraft memorial to think and pray before sunday sermons. since the memorial is bounded by one of salem’s historic cemetaries i often pray that through the preaching of the Word God will bring life to the dead. today, as i sat on sarah good’s bench, i also prayed that my preaching would never produce the kind of xenophobia and hatred that inspired the memorial i so enjoy.


Romans 8:12-17

In Uncategorized on July 24, 2010 at 3:45 pm

God, how i wept today. i wept because of my slavery to the flesh. i wept because i am living as a slave instead of a son. i wept because i have organized my life around comfort instead of the cross. i wept because i am God’s beloved, yet consider myself an enemy.

if the gospel is true, then it is heart-wrenching not only because of the cost of reconciliation but also because of our resistance to being reconciled and being reconcilers.

thank God for the Word that tears us up and turns us to the Healer.

why my kids probably won’t go to bible camp either

In Uncategorized on July 23, 2010 at 2:40 am

ht: christian nightmares

why my kids don’t do vbs

In Uncategorized on July 23, 2010 at 2:25 am

ht: christian nightmares

who’s under construction?

In Uncategorized on July 22, 2010 at 2:41 am

“there is no such thing as a self-constructed life. there is only being in Christ, or there is the nothingness that others create for us. pastors struggle with this as much as anyone.” -m. craig barnes, the pastor as minor poet

it started at least as early as high school. after four years of self-destruction i went to the citadel in hopes of finding a form fitting identity.

when that dream crumbled in the span of three days i drank myself into a fraternity. that experience was quite successful. i haven’t spoken to a fraternity “brother” since 1996 and i would sell gladly ritual secrets for two cents if i could remember them.

i fled the fraternity for the cinder block cells of soybean bible college. upon arrival my dorm dad – after hearing a rant about the removal of mtv from the campus cable system – identified me as a preacher, a calling that has shaped my life ever since.

and yet i still slide into self-construction – maybe i should be a sped teacher, a lawyer, a bartender – instead of surrendering to the gracious calling that defines me and finding ways to embody that calling in office meetings, the living room & the closet.*

God forgive my ex nihilo pretensions and fill me with the Spirit required to respond to you and serve others.

* not that closet, but given the aforementioned history, who knows?

the wisdom of sports radio

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2010 at 9:45 pm

on today’s felger and massarotti show, mazz quoted someone who noted that “baseball is a game of exposure.” he was not using that quote to refer to david cone but to explain that baseball’s six days a week, 162 game schedule eventually obliterates fluke success and exposes a player’s true value.

the further i walk, stumble and crawl, the more i realize that ministry is an act of exposure. the more my infinitesimal understanding of God’s righteousness and damn near infinite knowledge of my own inconsistencies grow, the more i am exposed as a fragmented man, a well established hypocrite, a broken bucket through which God’s beauty, truth and goodness only intermittently flows.

all the more reason to be grateful for, and utterly overwhelmed by, God’s grace.

comedy as testimony

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2010 at 2:23 am

testimony among exiles is “the playful, hyperbolic, ironic utterance that keeps the uttered future elusively beyond the control of rulers of this age, who would like to tame the elusiveness into a large, domesticated generalization that can be administered.” -uncle walt, cadences of home, pg. 58

seven or eight years ago some soybeaner in the married projects said that his youth minister often referred to himself as a “frustrated comic.” i found that characterization odd and almost off-putting at the time. later, in class at s.h.i.t. david wells said that the most “violent thing you can do to truth is to laugh at it.”

in a world (cue dead narrator voice) where the powerful present the absurd as though it were the status quo, i’m starting to realize that humor is not merely a cheap escape from reality, but a playful presentation of a counter-reality wherein, as uncle walt reminds us, the last truly are first and flowers are more stunning than the airbrushed princesses of the principalities. the “truth” of the status quo that presumes to rule our country, churches, families and lives, deserves to be ridiculed. however, my prayer is that our playful ridicule will bubble forth from hope, not from spite.

of course, this insight into the redemptive role of comedy was grasped by so many of my friends previously. i would consider myself slow if i wasn’t blessed with friends so clever.

now, if you’ll excuse me i’m going to brush up on my homiletics by watching louie. be blessed and be well.

two people care about this

In Uncategorized on July 14, 2010 at 2:12 am

i drank the friday night lights kool-aid years ago. i loved buzz bissinger’s book and was the first in line to beg for a signed copy when @buzzbissinger offered them up two sundays ago. i thought the first season of friday night lights was brilliant – the scene wherein saracen sings to his demensia addled grandmother nearly killed me. when ablevision let me tag along to 30 rock last november it took a momentous act of will to forego a dillion panthers state champion t-shirt.

for these reasons, it pains me to say that season 4 of fnl is a disappointment. the season started on a promising note, with coach taylor reassigned to the other side of the tracks and finding it damn near impossible to connect with players that were not raised to acquiesce to his authority. however, as david plotz hints in his recap of the current episode, the show has been derailed into drama central, where an abortion plot, a one dimensional drug addled mother and yet another act of riggins recidivism sleep on the benches.

fnl is at its best when the football field is the intersection for the story arcs. since the writers have a two year contract in their back pockets, they should can the babbling becky plots and focus on the football. here’s to hoping for more animated conversations between coach and vernon, buddy machinations and joe mccoy subversions in fnl’s future.

the eternal question

In Uncategorized on July 13, 2010 at 3:03 am

had a conversation this weekend about the eternal question: what is emergent?

usually i trot out the old standard, “emergent is nothing more and nothing less than a conversation among friends who are committed to following God in the way of Jesus.”

however, on this occasion – perhaps we can blame the saranac ipa – i said that emergent is one response to the rise of globalization.

growing up in tulsa i was ten or eleven years old before i really met an adherent of a non-western religion. our hindu neighbors were friendly enough, but we never got past hello in the driveway or a short conversation when dad’s weedeater decided to destroy the rear window of their cutlass.

tonight, kumar k, probably from india, worked with me online to reload a software program. i stupidly threw away the product key when consolidating boxes and he collaborated with me by accessing my computer and working in real-time on my hard drive from half a world away to restore the essential program. it’s hard to grossly reduce or ignore the diverse faiths of others when you share a world, albeit virtual in this instance, with them.

it seems to me, so it must be plain to others like phyllis tickle – if memory serves – that the rise in globalization is one of the primary causes of the emergent conversation. some of us are contributing to the conversation primarily as pastors and using the insights we discover to commune with those who need to continually reconnect with the God we follow in the way of Jesus. others are contributing primarily as theologians who are trying to identify the philosophical shifts that have resulted from globalization and reimagine a theology that is contextualized within this brave new world. but regardless of our vocational situatedness i would argue that globalization is one reality that leaves us all fumbling for a response.

side note: thus far, the pastors and theologians in the conversation get along quite well and cross-pollinate quite admirably. that’s one of my favorite things about the conversation.

that’s a long answer to a short question. but the question’s (apparently) eternal and pithiness eludes me.

thinking thruway

In Uncategorized on July 12, 2010 at 2:18 am

this weekend i played the college student and drove to rochester and back for callid and kristina’s housewarming party. before i delint the button, i must say that they threw the best 11 hour barbeque i’ve been to in a long time. diverse assortment of intriguing people, bourbon soaked peaches, jarring stories about jaws and shovels. what’s not to love?

anyway, as i wound my way home this morning i stopped at one of the thruway’s fantastic rest stops – starbucks, ben & jerry’s, discount sunglasses and tim horton’s…mmmm – and i started thinking about the first time i visited the region. at that time i was nineteen, a sophmore among freshmen at soybean bible college and on my way to a week of evangelism experience in dark, despairing, unregenerate new england. i had no clear sense of my vocation at the time, but i felt more and more comfortable with myself the farther north and east we went. that was enough at the time.

that trip was fourteen short years ago. on that week of evangelism i failed to win a single soul, but i was converted to the idea of living and serving in new england. in the years since a lot has happened. people who lived off that very same thruway that i thought would be lifelong friends have fallen by the wayside. my connection to the tradition that thought it had, and sometimes does, so much to offer new england is frayed on its best days. my vocation sometimes feels like an apparently destructive, ultimately redemptive “mission from God,” but on other days i am damned lucky to be an unbelieving believer.

fortunately, the excitement that i felt fourteen years ago as we drove north and east has not abated. as i left the rest stop after dropping a deuce, i was as i am now, incredibly thankful for: the friends i’ve found upon the journey like the keefe-perrys; the three churches in new england who have, to varying degrees, welcomed my ministry and treated me far better than i deserve; the God who created me, given me his Spirit and is teaching me to persevere in the grace, mercy and truth of Jesus.

maybe a trip down the thruway is worth $12.05 after all.

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