Sunday, October 30, 2005

Pumpkin Party

It's one of the few traditions we've managed to create, but we're really proud of it! This year, Mackenzie outsourced her design through Megan, but Madison and Megan drew their own (the tongue was Meg's idea too). Madison did some cutting and Megan actually cut out those eyes (I used a drill for the freckles; yes I know I'm a redneck). Can you identify them by personality (hint: they picked their own pumpkins)? They go (clockwise from left): Madison, Mackenzie, Megan.

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

Mr. Beaver

I've been reading Job. Actually, I've been listening to it on CD, but that counts I think, especially since that how the first several millennia of God's people would have accessed the book. It's remarkable to hear it aloud--things fit together in whole new ways. Anyway, Ron Allen thinks the goal of the book is to demonstrate that God is free. He does as he wills. The wicked suffer, yet so do the righteous and both are sometimes blessed. "Why" isn't answered. I'm not sure it can be. God chooses, that seems to be all we're given, except for the ever-important caveat so well understood by Mr. Beaver: He is good.

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

Emergent or Divergent?

Christianity Today has a review of D. A. Carson's book on the Emerging Church. This weekend, I spent some time digging around and fear they are on shaky ground theologically. I think parts of the movement are asking important questions (I really enjoyed Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller), but the core seems to be the same folks who brought out the labyrinths 5 years ago--I think they may focus so much on new spiritual experience that experience is placed above revealed truth. Pete used Colossians 2:18 to address a similar issue this Sunday. I can't fully defend that yet, but I'll work on it.

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 just found this about Barna's new book from Matt Payne's blog. I've been thinking a lot lately about the difference between generations as we're used to them and the shift toward a new post-modern culture. I think this may be what Barna is touching. Let me know if anyone gets the book. Someone needs to read it. ;-) The article is here.

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.

The Blogging Community

Thanks to my new friend Stuart Cohen, you can enter your email to the right and be emailed anytime I post on this site. That way you don't ever have to check here to see if anything changed. Put in your email and then reply to the email you get from Feedblitz and you're all set.

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

Serious Journalism

This clip aired on the Today Show on Friday. Let it soak in. Apparently even her colleagues couldn't hold back their laughter during the live broadcast. All of us sometimes try to cast the best light on things, but it sure is funny when someone gets caught. She defends it by saying she had been in rougher water earlier and the network was afraid she would get hurt... ("It's not like we were trying to pass it off as something it wasn't," spokeswoman Lauren Kapp said.)

Download Clip (originally posted on

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

Pine Cove Fall 2005

Thoughts for Tamar and Blue Like Jazz

We were away for camp (retreat) this weekend. Late Saturday night, I walked out into the woods alone with my flashlight off. I didn't last long without the light (an armadillo gave me a bit of a scare), but I pressed on to the clearing at the lake and lay on the picnic table and stared at the northern cross and spoke to God in the darkenss--completely at ease and yet fully aware of my fear. I walked all the way back without the light. My soul really needed it.

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.