Saturday, December 31, 2005

Deep Magic

Tennessee is always difficult. We have so many wonderful stories and memories--it is so much a part of us. When we're in Texas, we forget exactly what we left behind, but going back brings it all to bear all over again and then we depart, with a renewed sense of loss and a new round of goodbyes. It was hardest for me when I drove away from Mom and Dad's--not really sure when I'll get to see them again. But I know the vivid memory will fade and I will yearn a little less in the coming weeks. And I look forward to going back to work--finding my place again, remembering that we are Texans now.

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

O' Charleys

We haven't been out to eat in awhile. Maddie said, "Oh my word" on finding 2 forks in her napkin. Kenzie said, "Why is it a blanket?" about the cloth napkins.


On the way home. Lunch in Bellevue. Strange to say, but the overpasses in Nashville are beautiful--carved out of hills with exposed rock faces.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Full Circle

Today was one of those wonderfully blurry days that will be best understood when the photos come back. Ginger bread houses, motorcycles with old friends and a late evening at Starbucks. There were many exceptional moments and many notable thoughts. One observation in particular came in an overdue chat with Neil while drinking an unnamed fru-fru drink made from something that isn't coffee.

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

Road Trip Compilation

Sorry to all you Feedblitz folks, but that was fun. I'm compiling the whole trip and comments under one post, so it doesn't take up so much room! I think I'm a fan of mobile blogging, even if it is text-messaging instead of emailing in (I'm too broke to pay for email on my phone). I don't know how to make it take headings--it normally reads the subject line, but my phone doesn't send a subject line.

And hey, it was in Mckenzie, TN. That's the funny part.

Monday, December 19, 2005

  • We head for TN in the morn. I'm going to try to update the blog from text messaging. More l8r!
  • -steve
    posted by Steve at 7:24 PM
    Tonya said...
    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
  • Headed Out! It's 6:52 and we're on the road. Not too bad, and not too full. The cargo box is for the trip home only. -steve
  • posted by Steve at 6:51 AM
  • Texarkana. 9:10. -steve
  • posted by Steve at 9:09 AM
    Tonya said...
    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
  • Little Rock at 11:15 (I think--I forgot to enter it). -steve
  • posted by Steve at 11:38 AM
    sekondstory said...
    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

    sekondstory said...
    never mind I thought I was commenting on the 9am post :)
    4:12 PM, December 20, 2005
  • Lunch in Forest City, AK at 12:30. We had to go for McDonalds--haven't seen a Cracker Barrel in over 100 miles. -steve
  • posted by Steve at 12:42 PM
  • 1:10. Leaving Forest City full of gas (not from McDonalds). About 50 miles from Memphis. Oh, AK is Alaska. I meant AR. -steve
  • posted by Steve at 1:09 PM
  • Memphis. 1:55. -steve
  • posted by Steve at 1:55 PM
    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
  • 2:09 first vomit, east Memphis. Damage minimal. -steve
  • posted by Steve at 2:16 PM
    Christopher said...
    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
  • Jackson, TN at 3:10 central time. -steve
  • posted by Steve at 3:08 PM
  • Mackenzie making #2 in McKenzie, TN. 3:25 central. -steve
  • posted by Steve at 3:23 PM
    sekondstory said...
    Gross! too much information.
    4:15 PM, December 20, 2005

    Tonya said...
    TMI, Steve!!!
    4:16 PM, December 20, 2005
  • Nashville @ 5:05. Rush hour... -steve
  • posted by Steve at 5:06 PM
    Tonya said...
    I have my own blog now
    5:16 PM, December 20, 2005
  • Cracker Barrel at exit 219 (Lebanon?) east of Nashville at 5:35 central. -steve
  • posted by Steve at 5:33 PM
    sekondstory said...
    Almost in our time zone..yeah!!!
    5:44 PM, December 20, 2005
  • 7:00 central. Finally leaving Cracker Barrel. -steve
  • posted by Steve at 7:00 PM
    f1rststory said... this time you're in knoxvegas I I'll go get some more gas & oil for my bike tomorrow if I get a chance. ;)
    9:03 PM, December 20, 2005
  • knoxville at nine fifteen central. [editor's note--easier to spell than shift for numbers while driving] -steve
  • posted by Steve at 9:14 PM
  • Done. 11:00 central. 950 miles or so. 16 hours. -steve
  • posted by Steve at 11:15 PM, December 20, 2005

    Tuesday, December 13, 2005


    On Sunday nights, I come home from the church at about 7:00. Typically, traffic is low and I veer from the main route and take a series of semi-rural roads just to see fields and trees and horses and to pretend that I'm not surrounded by a couple million people.

    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


    It's easy enough to understand how Rick Warren's book on Purpose became such a big seller--we all want to make sense out of the circumstances around us. We all want to believe that God can take the most humble of circumstances and give us meaning in the midst of them. Unfortunately, I fail to find words to encourage those who, through careless decisions in their youth or simple inability, have found themselves serving drinks and busing tables in their mid-forties. Certainly, God desires to use them, and we hope that faithfulness will move them to greater responsibility, but ever coming to believe that a swing shift at Dennys is God's plan for your life is a little hard to hope for. And that's in America--this gets harder in cultures where an American minimum wage is a staggering amount of money.

    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,
    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.
    -Eph 1:1-2
    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.

    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.