Saturday, December 31, 2005
We saw Narnia last week. I needed something to vividly remind me of what I sometimes leave behind--something to rekindle my hope in the kingdom that is coming. I think we all treat it like Tennessee--we forget and memory fades the longer we're away. Now and then we have a moment that brings it all back into focus and we begin to yearn all over again. Paul called it groaning. We know that this is all temporary, but sometimes it feels so final and so permanent.
There are days when I think I'm ready to cash in my birthright and chase the wind--to seek a fortune and coast. Sometimes He sends a reminder like Narnia to bring back perspective. Other times He lets me simmer awhile until I remember that I simply have no other option. As Peter said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." If I could learn to appreciate that like I do those mountains when I see them....
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Saturday, December 24, 2005
The Romans of the first century A.D. considered the Christians to be atheists, because of their refusal to adopt the pantheon of gods that everyone else embraced. This label led to much misunderstanding and even persecution. We noted how similar postmodern American culture is to that of the early church, at least to those in Corinth. And then the observation came--we are like atheists again. We stand out because of our refusal to accept the many views of truth. In a sense, we are the anti-culture. We have been labeled the intolerant.
What a relief. The Gospel absolutely exploded in a culture like that. Now we just have to relearn what exactly the Gospel is and stop doing church.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
And hey, it was in Mckenzie, TN. That's the funny part.
Monday, December 19, 2005
posted by Steve at 7:24 PM
I read another blog this morning with the same title, but when i went back to comment, it was gone.
It still shows up on my bloglines that you recommended-i wonder why that is.
I hope you guys have a safe drive and that your 'vacation' is restful- when i visit family, there is usually more running around than actual time spent with friends and family, so it is anything but relaxing. blessings to you, and have a great christmas! Sorry we will miss you guys :(
7:36 PM, December 19, 2005
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
ok, i actaully laughed out loud at this one :) ahhh texarkana...memories of the pruitts flying by on the interstate while we waved out the hotel window. can you take a picture of our house that they bulldozed when you pass through memphis?
9:33 AM, December 20, 2005
ok, now I know why you are using text mess., I thought why not use a computer?.... I get it.
It's 11:35, where are you?
12:34 PM, December 20, 2005
never mind I thought I was commenting on the 9am post :)
4:12 PM, December 20, 2005
Mary Ann said...
technology is amazing.
finished that book.
still didn't bite me.
was really good.
am going to read it again.
hopefully over christmas.
"fear and rebellion" It's still there...and I still don't know what I'm afraid of or what I'm rebelling against. I didn't give you grief with those two did I? Or at least too much grief...?
2:02 PM, December 20, 2005
Mary Ann said...
oh! are you going to be at Grace anytime? And I know you'll be incredibly busy, I'm sure, with everyone to see, but would you come to a cigar meeting with the society?
and are you going to be going to Grace?
2:04 PM, December 20, 2005
This is great... its like we're in the car with you! Oops, maybe that is not so great on this one... :)
2:35 PM, December 20, 2005
2:58 PM, December 20, 2005
Gross! too much information.
4:15 PM, December 20, 2005
4:16 PM, December 20, 2005
I have my own blog now
5:16 PM, December 20, 2005
Almost in our time zone..yeah!!!
5:44 PM, December 20, 2005
hmmmm....at this time you're in knoxvegas I bet...cool. I'll go get some more gas & oil for my bike tomorrow if I get a chance. ;)
9:03 PM, December 20, 2005
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
This Sunday, it was about 65 degrees, the wind was light and there was no one in front of me once I broke from traffic. I got a little carried away and it took me back. I cranked down the window, turned up the heater and cut off the radio. You quickly remember that you have more ambition than actual courage on roads you can't see, but it was a real pleasure. One I miss.
I shot from the illussion of a country road back to the multi-lane reality that mocks the yet undeveloped land and began to throttle back. One mile from home, and not far from reasonable, I met an officer who showed great enthusiasm in quickly turning around and presenting me the single option of stopping my car.
I was a good citizen. I set the brake, shut down the engine, placed my hands at 10 and 2 and awaited her instructions. As she explained why I was being stopped, I sincerely asked how fast I had been traveling. I moaned a sign of regret and left it at that. It wasn't so bad, but I made no whine or complaint. I knew exactly what I deserved.
Then there was grace. "Mr. Pruitt, a verbal warning tonight, but you need to slow it down." Be careful not to mistake it for mercy--this was a gift, not merely an escape. As I pulled away, I understood God very clearly. "Steven, you've had your fun, now stop. I'm giving you this warning."
It makes me think--I wonder what other warnings He gives me that I fail to notice? I wonder if I ever get his mercy confused with the grace of a warning? It's one thing to worship a God who shows mercy. It is an entirely different thing to worship the God who gives grace--who seeks to prevent the very action that might test his mercy. Thoughts?
Lisa's 2 Things:
1-This site will let you see anything on the internet that is linking to your page.
2-This site will search through most blogs for anything you want to find (like yourself).
Monday, December 05, 2005
So, I believe there has to be a better answer. It is noble to suggest that service through the church holds a key element of the discussion and I believe there is some merit to the suggestion. Through the use of our gifts in ministry, we sometimes find the strength to endure and even thrive in a less-than-ideal career. But I think there's more and I stumbled upon it a few weeks ago in an accidental conversation with a small group from school.
Christians struggle a lot with issues of identity and we were assigned to discuss the meaningfulness of the distinction between naming Christians as "sinners who had been saved" or as "saints who sometimes sin." We were fully prepared to dismiss it as an exercise in semantics, until we noticed something about our own language. We have no idea what a saint is. Mind you, we're seminary students and we do get it, but the word saint has become so muddled with formal definitions and trivialization that it carries no really useful image for us. But, it did for Paul and as we looked more closely, we saw something significant, something purposeful.
Here's the introduction to one of Paul's letters:
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,It's not important that Paul addressed the Ephesians, it's that he called them saints. He does the same thing to the Romans, the Corinthians (2nd), and the Philippians. But, in 1 Corinthians and Colossians, he says something different, at least in our translations. There he calls them holy, one time as nouns, the other as verbs. Greek comes in really handy in places like this. Holy as a noun, holy as a verb and saints are all from the same basic word. They all mean holy. Paul calls the Christians this name over and over because he was intentionally re-forming their identities. What had once been common people, he now called "holy, set apart." These people had changed--they had become something new. Where saints no longer stirs us, this still has meaning. We are the set apart. We have been given purpose--no longer as common things but now as articles for noble purposes.
To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
And in itself, it is significant to see that Paul was casting a vision for the people who received his letters--he was ever so persistently reminding them that they were no longer mere sinners, mere commoners. And on its own merits, this may supply all the purpose that many Christians need, but it still is nebulous. It declares a new identity and many sermons have run afoul in seeking to define the new and noble usage of these now holy vessels, but this alone is merely a description and not yet a destination.
Here's where our real discovery was made. Again, the Greek is handy. We have known all along that those living under the Law in the Old Testament came to God on his own terms and they did so through the temple where he dwelled. More specifically, they came to sacrifice at the temple, and a physical manifestation, a presence of God, the Spirit of God, dwelled in the inner sanctum--the most holy place, the holy of holies. Right between the wings of the cherubim who perched on the Ark of the Covenant. The temple was the most sacred of all places on the earth.
These common people, these sinners, Paul now called holy. But more importantly, he called them the temple (1 Cor 6.16, 2 Cor 6.16, Eph 2.21.). They had indeed arrived at a new identity and a new era of human history. They were now the most holy places on earth. In them, the presence of God, the Holy Spirit would dwell. And that is where purpose is found. Here is the destination. It is the purpose of the believer to be the vessel, the tent, the dwelling of the Spirit of God upon the earth. He no longer resides on the top of an ancient box. He no longer demands that seekers come to Jerusalem and pay tribute and make sacrifice. Rather, he made sacrifice. Now he sends us out to the very ends of the earth and we take him along, broken vessels nonetheless. It is our duty, our role, our calling, our purpose. We are the bearers of God.
Wherever we are, whatever we do, we are to take Him there and hopefully, carefully, prayerfully, others may see Him inside us. We can do that. It really has little to do with us. He simply asks that we allow it to happen--that we remain ever-mindful of that which dwells within us. That we yield to the Spirit who fills us. Purpose. Even in India. Even in Peru. Even in Rwanda. Even in Dallas. Even at Dennys.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
28 "There is a mine for silver
and a place where gold is refined.
2 Iron is taken from the earth,
and copper is smelted from ore.
3 Man puts an end to the darkness;
he searches the farthest recesses
for ore in the blackest darkness.
4 Far from where people dwell he cuts a shaft,
in places forgotten by the foot of man;
far from men he dangles and sways.
5 The earth, from which food comes,
is transformed below as by fire;
and its dust contains nuggets of gold.
7 No bird of prey knows that hidden path,
no falcon's eye has seen it.
8 Proud beasts do not set foot on it,
and no lion prowls there.
9 Man's hand assaults the flinty rock
and lays bare the roots of the mountains.
10 He tunnels through the rock;
his eyes see all its treasures.
and brings hidden things to light.
12 "But where can wisdom be found?
These words are stunning and beautiful. If I were a miner, I'd write them on my hat, perhaps on my tombstone. The passage ends with an assertion:
23 God understands the way to it
and he alone knows where it dwells,
24 for he views the ends of the earth
and sees everything under the heavens.
25 When he established the force of the wind
and measured out the waters,
26 when he made a decree for the rain
and a path for the thunderstorm,
27 then he looked at wisdom and appraised it;
he confirmed it and tested it.
28 And he said to man,
'The fear of the Lord--that is wisdom,
and to shun evil is understanding.'"
That last verse is the ringer--it ties Job to the entirety of the Torah. Somewhere in evangelicalism, we have lost a bit of the fear of the Lord. Sure, we shun evil, but we miss out on the fear thing. We spend our effort explaining how we don't really have to fear Him, how he loves us and we just need to respect him. But that's not entirely true. I'm excited about Narnia coming out in theaters because it will give us a good way to talk about this--it's no coincidence that Lewis used a lion to represent Jesus, and there's more than the lion of Judah going on. Aslan is kind. Aslan is good. And yet, Aslan is fierce. He is not to be trifled with.
That's what I love about this other passage. I don't mean this in a morbid way (previous posts aside), but someday I hope that the epithet Nehemiah gives Hananiah will be true of me--even placed on my tombstone:
7 After the wall had been rebuilt and I had set the doors in place, the gatekeepers and the singers and the Levites were appointed. 2 I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most men do.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
The problem I face here in Dallas, is that I continually re-evaluate the price. It was easy to obey God when he first pushed us this direction. Two-and-a-half years in, it gets a little drought-like from time to time. We try not to talk about it on the blog, but sometimes the financial issues are completely defeating. We're not starving--we still eat out more than we should, but it's hard not to when Wendy is so tired. In essence, she lives life like a single mom so I can be in school. We often re-evaluate how quickly she should return to work, but that line of thought fails to address the reality of our schedules.
Sometimes I'm lazy and undisciplined. Sometimes I'm exhausted, but most nights I get about two hours with my family and then disappear to study or be undisciplined in an effort to try to study. I usually don't use the two hours as well as I would like. I'm certainly not the servant they all need right now. On Wednesdays, I drop the girls at school and don't get home until after bedtime. The next morning, I leave for class before they get up. That's about 36 hours without seeing them. Sundays are better because I come home during the afternoon. I know: whine, whine, whine--everybody's got it hard. We're really thankful for Fridays and Saturdays right now. I usually remain confident that we're in the right place, but Wendy told me tonight what the girls were getting for Christmas and I trembled in my resolve. Sometimes it's all I can do to stick out this plan.
Obedience costs us something, but I wonder how long that stream lasted.... I fear that ours will be dry for years and I wish I knew when the ravens were coming.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
I know that I worship a beautiful and merciful God, but it humbles me to think of the incredible responsibility it is to step into that pulpit. We teach people to study the Bible on their own and we trust that the Spirit leads each one, but the pastor still shepherds and guides an entire flock and it should sometimes cause him to lose sleep....
I'll post the message once the file's ready, but the slides are on the right (Andy, take a peek).
Update: the sermon's up and it's in mp3 now. You can get the real audio stream from here. Sorry, no podcast!
Sunday, November 13, 2005
At the office, my daughters had a great time playing with the remote control flatulence machine (I can't bring myself to say "fart") and the Whoopie Cushion that had been left in my chair. Then Maddie spilled it all over herself and Mom rushed her to the van for a clean shirt (Wendy has those kinds of things in the van) and on to class and for Deersnake's debut lesson. For lunch, we decided to grab some sandwiches and some store-bought cokes and head to the Arbor Creek park for a picnic. It sounded wonderful.
I grew up in the country and I'm pretty accustomed to bees, but I've never had so much trouble with honey bees. I don't like to kill honey bees, but some bees bother you in ways that are sure to get a child stung, like flying near an armpit, so I began to strike. After I killed 13, we decided to eat our cookies while walking on the trail. I'm pretty sure that a couple were following me. Perhaps I had picked up a pheromone or something--Madison thinks I might be made of sugar. Bee 16 stung me while I squeezed him thoroughly (it was getting intense), and upon killing bee number 17 (honest, we were counting), we got in the car. Then Megan shook her Sprite to drink the bubbles and spewed it all over her pants! We taught her how to close the lid when that happens.
Back at the office, we changed a wet pair of undies (from the Sprite) and Mackenzie fell in the toilet, which put a damper on her otherwise nearly-complete potty training. And something embarrassing happened to Wendy that I promised not to write down. Then we passed time until Wendy's meeting (which is why we stayed in Carrollton all day), had a sing-a-long with Seth, watched Mike's Hootenanny video and things got quiet for awhile. After the meeting, the girls came over to my class until they were bored and Mackenzie had a poo-poo accident because the earlier trauma had kept her from using the bathroom.
We got home about seven and rushed to eat the incorrect order we picked up at Long John Silvers so Megan and I could finish the Cherokee Indian house we were making for her class tomorrow. As we ate, we narrated the events of the day and began to see the necessity of writing this down. Once in the garage, Megan and I realized we didn't have time for her to change clothes--if she went back inside Mom would make her get ready for bed and we'd lose the moment. So, Meg shucked her extra clothing and put on my apron and we mudded the roof of her Cherokee mud and wattle house. Then the kids went to bed and Wendy and I talked through Gray's Anatomy without worrying about Greek this week.
1 missed worship service
1 trip to Tom Thumb to make a kindergarten class special (reimbursed!)
3 small hot chocolates that make little girls smile at Dad ($3)
1 inspiring conversation with a breast cancer survivor
1 dirty shirt
5 students who hung out during our missed service
1 chance for Deersnake to teach for the pure joy of teaching the Bible
1 hastily eaten lunch from Baker Bros (too much $; back to McAllister's)
3 large drinks from a quick mart ($3.50)
17 dead honey bees (really, I don't lie about bees)
1 well deserved bee sting
1 botched picnic
1 funny video that they didn't get but made them feel like big kids
1 lesson on carbonation
1 game of air hockey with a poker chip
2 pairs of small underwear
1 potty setback
3 girls who like Whoopie Cushions: 1 lady who doesn't
1 wrong order from LJS that tasted the same anyway ($17.50)
1 Cherokee dwelling replica completed in an apron.
1 long and relaxing talk with Wendy
1 letter for our new friend Maria
Total: one of the best days of my life.
Friday, November 11, 2005
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Richard Cory was my friend
and all of us in love with him
were smitten on the third week's end:
he flew away like dust in wind.
Eyes that spoke of peace denied
and emptiness where hope should hide
and grace alone could not abide
the many, many nights he died.
Curse the year and curse the day
of birth and snakes and Adam's way
and all who look behind and say,
"What if?" "Why me?" or, "Let us pray."
Tears were made to bless the eye;
prayer was made to bless the sky.
Weep and sing and laugh and cry--
it's appointed unto man to die.
Despair's the price of Eden's pride
or if a sovereign Will presides,
pain's as deep as blame is wide,
(c) Steve Pruitt 2005
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Many of you were at the funeral and experienced that remarkable moment of both weeping and worship as Todd led us in singing "We Fall Down." It will remain a signature moment in my life--a sincere expression of hope, joy, pain and misery all in one instant. We have all wondered about the experience of sorrow once we enter the eternal Kingdom and I think we glimpsed the possibliity that joy and mourning can co-exist.
Some of you know my past and know my own struggle with depression, or at least the version I have shared with you. Others of you know the experience personally and you know the permanent changes that enter your life once you have ever opened the door to suicide. You know its lingering persistence and the frequent reminder that it exists and you know the resolve you have found to ignore it. Such is life, but it's been five months and I find it difficult to push aside and Robbie remains an ever-present memory.
Robbie took on significance in my life that was almost symbolic. Surely, he was one of my first students, but he never went away. Robbie's trips to college were always followed with time where we could reconnect and an ongoing knowedge of what his life was like. I can trace his story simply through the pictures I collected with him since he was in 6th or 7th grade. We were together in Atlanta, Colorado, Kentucky, Peru and Puerto Rico. I watched him grow in ways that I have never gotten to see--the journey of many years that I now experience only as a father--and I grew up right alongside him. In many ways, he shaped me.
Texas has been a season of difficulty and struggle and loneliness for me personally. His death was almost too much for us. Wendy and I had gone out for our anniversary to an Art Cafe in Plano with a gift certificate we won. It was the kind of place Robbie would have liked but would have made fun of--I am often surprised by how frequently I weigh my surroundings by what Rob would have thought. Tim called during dinner and we began the journey that his sickness has forced many of us to undertake. In numbness, we went on to the theater to see Batman Begins. Wendy needed to talk about it, but I needed a dark place to sit without speaking, a place to cry. Robbie would have liked that movie.
Pieces came together later. I understand why he didn't tell me he was in Dallas, but I still grieve the serendipitous conversation we had just a few months prior. I was testing new messaging software and Robbie was cleaning up a computer when we stumbled onto each other online. We talked a long time--I wish I had thought to save the transcript. He talked about coming to Dallas, getting a new start. He talked about the struggle he was having since the breakup, but I truly had no idea the real scope his depression had reached.
I wish so deeply I had known him these past two years, but I looked at a stranger in those recent pictures at the funeral. And yet, there was something so familiar. I remember those empty eyes and that vacant stare from my own life and I continue to mourn the loss of hope he was experiencing and the comfort he found in despair. God led me out of that place. Robbie didn't come out. It's so easy to trace a path of regret and wishes and to weigh our role in his life, but I know better. Depression is a bitter friend. It blinds you and deafens you and dulls you and sometimes it wins.
So, five months later, I'm continuing to unpack the emotion of that event and the place Robbie held inside me. Sometimes I feel that I have no claim for that kind of sorrow--Robbie had closer friends and stronger ties, but I cannot help what he had come to mean for me. Now I move forward, plagued by that sense of failure and loss, searching to find my own heart again. If the other events of our life in Texas were not so trying, I would say that we bask in the opportunities of seminary, but that's simply not true. It's been hard and I needed to get that all onto paper, or whatever this is. Superchick says it really well in "Beauty from Pain:"
I know it won't be today, but someday I'll hope again.
Thanks for listening.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Perhaps a complaint was in order--it was unusual to reserve so many tables for such a small deli, but that's irrelevant to my point: what expectations cause problems for us as believers? What are we allowed to expect out of life?
I remember a staff prayer time back in August where Becky asked us to pray for her dental surgery and mentioned that she didn't have any expectations on the outcome of her procedure. That really struck me and I've been rolling it around in my head ever since. As an American, I expect to be treated a certain way. As a white man, I expect to be treated a certain way. As a working man, I expect to be treated a certain way. Those expectations are the source of much disappointment and anger in my life and I'm afraid that most of them are nestled down in some kind of pride and sin. Somewhere deep down, I think I deserve to be treated a certain way and I am angered when it doesn't happen. I wonder how much of it is just sin, straight out? As a believer, what expectations should I really have? Doesn't my Bible teach me that every good and perfect gift comes form the Father? Doesn't it teach me to be content? Doesn't it teach me to rejoice in hardship?
One thing it never teaches me is to expect things from people. It never teaches me to assume that I will be treated as special or noteworthy or even worthy. I think that realization is part of what makes the light of the gospel so bright--we shouldn't have expectations on life, it's been cursed. So, when God steps into the scene and offers to adopt me, it's a big deal. Really, what would it be like to live a day without expectations (ok, you need to expect bridges to hold you and stuff, but not expect others to meet your needs or standards)?
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Compare to last year's crop (clockwise from left): Madison's self-drawn, Megan's self-cut and Mackenzie's dad-did-it special.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
I've been thinking a lot about this lately--this idea of sovereignty and the way my impression of it has changed quite a bit. After all, God claims outright in his words to Moses in Exodus 4 that it is he who makes man deaf or mute or seeing or blind. He tells us in Job 38 that the lightning reports to him. We don't really believe this. We work really hard to understand a hurricane in the Gulf or an earthquake in Kashmir. We want to believe God would judge with one but not the other. We want to believe he had nothing to do with it. We'll accept his hand if we can see a reason. But we don't get a reason. The lightning reports to him. He doesn't owe us a reason.
Do you remember a coach or teacher or leader who ever pushed you past your breaking point? Do you recall a time when you could take no more and then you took more and you were angry and even a little bitter. But, you looked back later and saw that not only did you not break, you excelled? Suddenly, months later, you noticed that you don't get tired after the first mile or you understand more than you ever realized or you accomplished something you hadn't imagined? Then, that person became your favorite coach, your favorite teacher.
How come we get so bent out of shape when God does exactly that and he spends much of his Word telling us that he's going to do it? We whine every time, only we don't get over it so easy. We may not ever see the result. Practice doesn't end. Class doesn't dismiss. Life is practice. Only when it ends will we finally understand. Maybe the bitterness will last until then, but it will someday go away. Someday, this ends and He will become our favorite teacher. Maybe He is already...
Monday, October 24, 2005
I got halfway through Nehemiah today. It contains the account of an entire nation re-forming itself out of the ruins of the past. As they progressed, they made decisions based on what they assumed to be true. As the priests began to study the Law, they were sometimes shocked to learn the truth found therein and they had to radically alter their decisions. God doesn't always flow out of the kind and well-intentioned logic of those who think they understand him. We don't learn him simply from the traditions or assumptions of the past. First, we take him at his Word, then we seek the past to help us understand it. Sometimes, that's divisive, but it can't be the other way around. Faith seeking understanding.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
I keep asking, "If we make a shift toward small communities of small groups and people are finding worship, teaching, care and impact in those communities, then why will they continue to come out on Sunday mornings?" I know there are some answers, but I haven't heard great ones. Barna might suggest that there are two distinct groups emerging--those who will use Sunday to be a family and those who will come to church as a family. There may be a true divergence of thought and need emerging. I'm intrigued.
On Tuesday, Mike and I took Stuart to lunch at Cheddars in Irving. I can honestly say he's the first person I've met on the internet and everything went great. Wendy was pretty concerned about me meeting with someone I met online, but I reassurred her based on the content of his blog and the great resouce his links are. Then I told her something bad happened when I met him, but I explained I was lying and that he was a really neat guy. You can actually read about our lunch on his blog.
However, the best thing about Stuart is the community that he represents. He is one of many Christians with great technical aptitude and a heart for the local church and he shares it freely on his site, but he's also committed to using those gifts well and not helping churches jump from tech guy to tech guy on an endless pursuit of someone's newest favorite program. Check out his links.
There are a lot of us out here who are finding a genuine sense of Christian community with believers in other time zones. I know it's hard to believe community can happen that way and it certainly helped to meet Stuart in person, but I already knew him before we met. He even asked me how my dad was doing--my non-web friends don't even ask me that. Let that little piece of post-modern culture sink in and tell me what you think.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Download Clip (originally posted on Newsbusters.com).
It does make you think, though. How often do we retell an incident by adding new information? I mean, she had been in deep water, she just wasn't any longer; but she was trying to make us believe otherwise. Some might say this is not dishonest because the conditions had been true but could not be safely reported. So, she construed a new truth and sought to replicate an old one. I wonder how often that's done in journalism? I know Bush got a lot of flak for something similar which seems to have been misreported, but had it been true it bothered us. We want to believe that journalists in dire conditions really are in dire conditions, but I wonder how much is staged--an effort to re-create truth, but nevertheless, false. If this happens on the Today Show, how much is added to print media? Information from one source that seems to come from multiple sources or events that occurred quickly seeming to have taken months. Our God deals with this directly. He says "I am that I am." I've always understood that to be an assertion of his self-existence, but maybe it's also an assertion of his nature--he is as he is. There is nothing false in there. I can trust that.
Monday, October 03, 2005
I read Blue Like Jazz this summer (our whole student team did), and I pushed Luke to read it and have promised to send one to Mary Ann. I think the conversation the book creates is really important. I think he's right in a lot of things and he's right not to ditch the church--the church just has to be willing to keep asking these questions all the time. We tend to forget that ministry to a group of people 3 years ago may be nothing at all like what we need now and we have to force ourselves to keep asking what it means to follow Christ today, not yesterday. Many leaders in the church share this burden, it just gets hard--but God is faithul to raise up new voices to remind us if we'll listen.
I know many of my and your generation who find the book especially significant and we can't exactly explain why it's not just speaking of a new trend or a new "movement." It's about a new culture and a sense of longing. I don't have answers here, yet, but I think the book moves us past the borders of American evangelicalism and back into the fold of world-wide Christianity. We live in a religious culture that has made Christianity about us, and that's a mistake. I no longer teach people that "God has a wonderful plan for your life." Now I say, "God has a wonderful plan for the redemption of humanity and he wants you to be part of it." It's subtle, but the perspective shift is important and it puts the emphais back on Him and not me.
Monday, September 19, 2005
When my sisters spoke of Grandaddy, they sometimes mentioned the hard times. They knew the stories about he and Dad that I had been shielded from--the stories that made Dad leave home. By the time I came along, his vigor was fading and the fire had dwindled. That's the way I remember him. Innocence and simpler times. When he died, Dad took me to the house and I went through his tools--the one thing I would most treasure and my cousins wouldn't desire. I know every tool in my toolbox and it's past. I know which ones came from his hands. I understand the marks on them and the stories they tell. I know his masonry hammer was sharpened on a grinder and the wheel ate into the handle. When I look at it, I always wonder if he did it, or some young carpenter sharpened it in haste...
When I use them, I feel connected to something bigger than me. I feel tied back to the hands of my fathers and I understand something within me. Those tools teach me about my own Dad and they teach me of his father and his father before him. They teach me why I love to work with my hands and how it came so naturally. My grandfather died in 1993. I had some time with him in the end. We talked about tools and such. He told me to get a hat that would cover my ears and he told Dad about the angel he saw. His hope in Christ carried through those last days. That hope carries my father and now it carries me. Our past winds back through time like a footpath in the woods--darting here and there through the trees. Few of us ever come to recognize the gift that it is and the story it will tell us if we quieten our hearts and walk along it's leaf strewn trail. I think God speaks to us through it--He tells us who we are.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Thursday, September 01, 2005
There's a lot of work to do yet to study the passage itself, but this train of thought is compelling (at the moment).
Sermon Text: Colossians 3:20-21
20Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
21Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
The conversation has been something like this (slightly edited):
I want to use the Shemah some for this sermon (at least, I'm leaning that way). I think the command to not exasperate, might be understood in the positive with DO disciple your children (your OWN children). Not only does North Dallas resemble pieces of this in the busyness of our culture, but those in the church tend to look to the church to disciple their children. Proverbs 1:8 actually says "do not forsake the Torah of your mother." Solomon's words here are referring back to the Shemah, given by God through Moses. Here, he is telling us to take the Torah (the law through Moses, the Shemah being the esseence) on as a necklace, as a garland. Jews used to wear the Shemah on their foreheads and tied around their arms. Solomon is playing with words and painting a picture of receiveing instruction from your parents (which assumes it is an essential part of who they are) like wearing the Shemah on your head. It's good, like a prized necklace. That's discipleship. Not exasperation.
I'm suprised at the number of parents who call us wanting us to disciple their kids. Certainly, we want them discipled and we do many, but the kids have to want it. I sometimes challenge the parents with, "I could show you how to do it. Would you be interested?"
I think there are some powerful insights to be had in transitioning from being an enforcer of rules to being a discipler.
Bruce: I like your sermon thoughts and I'd love to see you tie in discipline also if it fits.
I believe that the command "bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" encompasses discipling and disciplining.
Maybe the trick is in the balancing of the two. We tend to get stuck on discipline alone and end up frustrating/exasperating our children. If we begin to take the challenge to train and coach we move out of this as they grow old enough. I need to see the Greek and see if the word for children carries any age connotation. If these are little children or young people.
The "children obey your parents in everything" part may keep me away from some of this (because it's not about discipleship or seeking their wisdom), but there may still be a connection. It's the magic bullet really, children who obey and parents who don't frustrate them... If we can give them something practical to walk away with that morning, we'll have done them a great service.
Monday, August 29, 2005
Sisters, if you're reading this, don't tell her I told. After two weeks, Dad goes back to his physician, but if things aren't progressing well, he'll go to a pulmonologist. That's all to be expected. What disturbs Mom, however, is that pneumonia has been so quickly found. In her experience, it is always very difficult to find it. It doesn't just show up the size of a baseball on an X-Ray. So, she's still uneasy...and worried.
Dad's going home this afternoon and they believe it truly is pneumonia! There will be a follow-up X-Ray in two weeks to confirm and monitor, but for now, that's it. Antibiotics and no chemotherapy.... Thanks for praying!
They want to keep Dad until Monday, at least, so the radiologists can look at him. There's a spot on his lung the size of a baseball. It might not be pneumonia... Mom's having a hard time talking about it. Please pray for my family.
Dad was doing better today. The initial tests for tuberculosis were negative and no one has mentioned a stroke. They had a scare this morning when he started shaking pretty significantly and the doctors ignored Mom about it at first. Later, she pointed out that they had been failing to give him Morphine, to which he is necessarily addicted. They had sent him into withdrawal and later apologized.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Dad's been struggling with a range of ailments these last few years and an event like this makes us all really nervous. In honesty, there have been weeks where I was amazed he was still walking. Certainly, the lack of broken bones reminds us that he is still a bit tougher than we thought--at least on the outside. His insides are a mess, but there's more to this.
On the inside, Dad has been softening. It must have been over a decade ago when I explained that I wasn't going to be an engineer and was moving toward full time ministry. He was disappointed and it hurt, but I only hold onto that memory for one reason: he's not disappointed anymore. I don't remember exactly when the changes started. After his first heart attack, our relationship began to shift. By the time Grandaddy died, we would have regular conversations about the Bible and God's goodness. A trip to Virginia about three years ago was the clincher. Something happened on that trip.
Dad has always believed, but I'm not so sure he used to believe that the forgiveness God offers really applied to him personally, and I don't think he really believed it was free. He does now. Don't read ahead--those of you who know Rex Pruitt wouldn't really call him tender. But if you know him well, you know that he sits by the beds of those who are dying, and he does the laundry on Mondays and he teaches the Bible to his class every Sunday. There are hints of Galatians 5:22-23 on the insides.
Daddy's proud that I am in ministry now--he tells me whenever he sees me. I'm proud of him too. Please pray for him to heal. We want him to see me graduate from seminary. And pray for mom too--she found her husband lying in a doorway this morning. I'm sure we can imagine what her fears must have been. And pray for my sister, who is taking care of them.
Monday, August 22, 2005
Truth be told, I know very little about soccer. But I know a lot about kids, and even more about parents. We told the parents that one of our primary goals was to teach each of the girls what her value was to the team. Granted, 5-year-olds don't play like Beckham, but some are fast, some are brave, some are clever and some are intimidating. In the end, we want these little girls to believe they are special--not because everyone is special, but because we've been able to encourage very specific things in each of them through the season. But the best part is the parents.
Wendy is awesome. For the parent meeting, where the coach tells the parents what's going on and how much they owe, most coaches meet at the practice field and roll through the material. Wendy had them all over for tea and cookies and we sat in our living room with a group of strangers and we got to know every parent and where they work. One mom even told Wendy about the custody issue they were struggling with. For those of us who work in the church, you cannot imagine how good that felt and how good it is for my family. We have a group of people who are trusting us with their children and allowing us to enter their lives and we have no idea where they are with Christ. Pray for us. Sometimes the best thing in the world for an overwhelmed family is to add one more thing--one thing that keeps everyone focused on why we're here in the first place.
Monday, August 15, 2005
The next day, Wendy's mom saw the neighbors outside and went to the rescue. She informed them of the bear story and proceeded to bang two pots together to keep the bear at bay. Anyone who has seen the Discovery Channel knows that was a good plan, but there probably wasn't a bear within miles by that point. There's a lesson in here.
Many of us live in fear of bears we have never seen. We convince ourselves that they're real and then when trouble comes, no matter how small, we panic because we have already taught ourselves that it must be a bear. Jack Groppel calls these "boars in the woods" and says they derail us from our mission (Jack doesn't know about the bear, but he actually tests this on people using a fake boar).
If you ever see a bear out your window, then grab some pots and make some noise. But most of us have never seen a bear anywhere near our windows. As believers, we don't have to be derailed by fear of things that aren't there. Quit being afraid of them. Do not conform any longer to the [fears] of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
The church is an amazing thing, really. Sometimes you wonder why we bother; other times you wonder what you would do without it. Moving to a metroplex is no easy task. We often wonder about those who do it completely alone. We were lonely, but we do have the church and we too easily take it for granted. God provides through the church.
I've been troubled lately by the famine in Africa. Do Christians ever starve to death? I mean, Paul had times where he was in hunger. Certainly Christians die in persecution. Mr. Abassi told me of some students at his seminary who had recently witnessed a beheading by their captors and began to pray they would be shot instead of beheaded. Somehow they escaped. Here's my real question: Who's responsibility is it to make sure no Christians ever starve to death? In the New Testament, it was the church. Paul collected from the wealthier churches to provide for the poor ones--the ones who were hungry because they were persecuted and couldn't find jobs.
Our church has adopted a people group in India. The Marathi people. Sometime in the next six months, we want to send a team to India to make a DVD for our body so they can meet the Marathis and learn to love them--so a wealthy church can care for a poor one, a persecuted one. I might actually get to go. When Megan looked it up on the globe, she said, "Why don't you go to China and then you can see how everything is made."
Friday, August 05, 2005
In the meantime, Wildlife is at Six Flags for the Riot of Passage--a key moment for the entry of the new seventh graders. It represents a defining moment for our students--a day when they truly become part of Wildlife. They'll spend the first half of the day (11-3) on a 150 task scavenger hunt that spans the park and pulls from multiple gifts on each team and requires the use of a backpack, a Polaroid, a calculator, a stopwatch and a flashlight! The teams allow you to keep one friend and then force you to meet and work with 6-7 other students. At supper, the winning team gets a gift bag with a $15 movie card for each member--not too shabby!
As Wendy sleeps, I'm listening to myself preach at Bent Tree last weekend. I confess that's strange, but it's valuable for me to critique and learn from the experience. If you're interested, or morbidly curious, you can listen here. I'm kind of excited about it--I get to teach again on Nov. 20!
Friday, July 22, 2005
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Tonight at Wildlife, we sent the 8th grade up a week early since Jonathan was here (our candidate for the senior high position and the guy who got our whole department into the blog-o-sphere). The 7th grade was great tonight. We played awhile inside and one student asked if my summer school class was because of cemetary... Then we prayed and it always breaks my heart and inspires me at the same time. There is nothing like a circle of junior high kids who will pray for each other.
We were small tonight (summer and no 8th grade) and only had about 25, but it always starts the same way. One asks for prayer for their cousin's sister's step dad but within a couple of minutes someone asks about their Dad's cancer or their friend who died or the divorce they fear is coming. It hurts my heart, but it is amazing to watch them look to God for a way through it all. Sometimes deeper conversations follow (I'll be praying for you in case you're reading this) and remind us all why we take this path of vocational ministry.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Thanks ya'll--I'm nervous about this decision but we think it's the right thing. If you remove all the other concerns (like graduating at 40 and $ and time), we both believe I should pursue the full degree, languages and all. We left Tennessee with a commitment to not be controlled by fear. Please pray for clarity and unity as Wendy and I move forward and for our sustained ability to thrive as a family through all this!