my inner monologue...
site by Andrew Seely
Monday, May 30, 2005
Recognize our veterans in church = yes
Making church about nationalism and state = no!!!
I know a few others have posted about this as well, see here and here.
Yes I realize that the word "God" appears in the song "America the Beautiful", BUT!!!
I think I am having a hard time with the asking of God to bless a certain country.
I do not think God blesses overcomsumption, greed, political power, gluttony, military dominance, or pridefulness.
In my understanding of scripture God cares more about the disenfranchised, the lonely, the hurt, the broken, injustice, poverty, scapegoats, the whores and bums, the faithful, humbleness, and so much more.
What I saw in my church yesterday had nothing to do with God, and if we were seeking his favor, I think we have grossly misunderstood why we should seek his blessing on our lives.
Have we lost our sense of a God who once roamed the earth to redeem it? Or are we going to continue to think that God will allow us to misuse his house to praise the state and government, instead of him and him alone?
I want my church to be Christocentric, but somehow I fear that we have desecrated God's temple.
Where is the point in time, where we as church leaders became so enamored with mirroring culture, that we lost our own identity as church?
I have always understood the preaching of Christ to be a countercultural revolution. Not a mainstream, everyone participate to look good, but not really believe, kind of thing.
What is it going to take to move away from our "religion" being accepted and accepting of EVERYTHING, and move back towards being "understanding of EVERYTHING" but still retaining our own personal and unique identity that separates us from the rest of culture?
I don't know where this all is going, I just feel quite frustrated, because I know what happened at my church yesterday was all too common in other houses of worship around the country.
Thoughts?? Leave one.
Saturday, May 28, 2005
I was thinking today and I came up with a metaphor for the Emergent Church.
Instead of being looked at deconstructionists, or people who have no respect for church anymore, can't we be seen as a group who identifies themselves as:
Not that we have the "only" answer.
Hear us out and take what you find to be most useful and apply it to church. Do not shut us out because some of what we may have to say is hard to hear. That's our job as consultants, to tell it straight up. Give suggestions and ideas for improvement. Some may work, some may fail.
It seems that as a church we have become so prideful and self-indulged that we are incapable of even asking for help. Even from those of us we hold in our inner circle.
For your consideration.
Think back to a time when you were a child, and maybe you were standing in the kitchen or in the family room and you smelled home-baked chocolate chip cookies.
Everyone who reads this probably has a clear vision of what those cookies smelt like, what they looked like, who made them, and probably can even taste them. And your mouth probably is watering now. (I know mine is.)
Now think back to a period of your life, where you were fully consumed with God and actively seeking his presence on a daily basis. Where his presence was so much a part of your life that it touched every corner and crack, almost to the point where you were incapacitated by his presence in your life at that time.
Hmmm...probably a bit more fuzzy than the remembrance of the scent of cookies???
Have we lost all sense of a fire springing to life, flames licking the night air?? Or is it that we never have had experiences that burnt a clear crisp, readily available image, in our minds? Are we as Christians not taught how to experience the life in Christ to the fullest and enjoyed that it is burned, imprinted on our consciousness?
Or is it that we value the memories of comfort and innocence over the memories of challenge? Especially the challenge that Christ lays out for us as followers of him.
More and more over the last week I have been consumed with thoughts concerning being a pastor.
Not so much that I desire to be a Sr. Pastor of some church somewhere. But more concerned as my role as a pastor in all of its sense as I work in ministry.
Since Emergent, I have thought more and more about my role as a "minister" in the whole church, everyone is a minister, sort of way, but also about my special calling to work in ministry and my formal role (while not officially titled) as a pastor. Even be it to students, I in all sense am a pastor to them. Containing the rites and privileges that are granted to "pastors" of churches, in how I conduct myself as a minister.
I'm not saying that I reserve the "rights" of a pastor, ie. marriage, communion (at least in our denomination), baptism, etc.
Though I am saying these last few weeks have illuminated my role to students, clearly mirrors the role a Senior Pastor takes to the congregation as a whole.
As a pastor to students and as a member of leadership in "C"hurch, I feel that it is becoming more and more clear that I need to make my voice heard (in a loving way of course) amongst the dribble of an unfocused, undesirable, unloving, self-righteous, self-indulged, consumer driven, parishioner driven, Christless (at times), doormat of a church.
I know some of you may already turn your thoughts to what a self-righteous prig I must be for attacking the church like this.
There comes a time when we are learning to do something that reading the "manual" ceases to work.
How many of you read and studied on how to ride a bike, or how to swim?
Not many I suppose.
Too much has been suggested on how to do church or how to save church or how to gussie church up.
No more 40 days of anything...(well maybe 40 days in the desert alone, that may do some good).
Those have been tried.
Jump in the water, take the training wheels off your bike.
Yes we may fall and scrape our knees.
Yes we may panic and swallow some water.
There are very few people who never set foot on a bike again, or very few who are so scared of water that they dread taking a shower.
Build the memories of spending a night in prayer. Make them so vibrant that they are recalled on a whim, easily accessible, just as the taste and longing for a homemade chocolate chip cookie.
Friday, May 27, 2005
We just finished watching Shaun of the Dead.
It only reaffirms the fact that other than what I am, I want to be British.
Aside from the wonderful accent, there's just something about their way of life and the humor. It slays me!!!!!
From the overdone foly sounds in the first part of the movie, to facial expressions throughout the movie. It was simply brilliant. If I knew more British slang I'd use a word other than Brilliant, but for now that'll have to do. Feel free to suggest more in the comments.
I really feel like sitting down and having either a British movie marathon or throwing some Wallace and Gromit on.
Maybe a pint or two will do the trick. See this ghetto blog for more on booze, though I'd caution not to follow.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Thanks to my counter, I can sometimes see who's been visiting my blog, or at least who's site they used to get to my blog. And then there's the occasional hit from a web search, such as google or other search engine.
If that explains how you got to my blog, the least you can do is leave me a comment as to who you are, and maybe even why you are looking for me. While this is somewhat of a vain post, it's kinda errie to know that people are looking specifically for me, yet I don't know who's been looking at my blog.
Do the right thing...leave a comment. It's that little grey line at the top that says cogitations? or cogitations by X people, click it then enter your info. Pretty easy.
Especially those of you SEARCHING for me.
Hmm...maybe I have stalkers??? Kinda cool, kinda creepy.
New Ghetto Blog
spread the word
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
It seems that I wrote 23 posts from Monday night last week until Saturday when I arrived home from the Emergent Convention.
I'll re-list them here by title in chronological order.
I'm still processing much of the week and actually have a lot of material still to attend to via CD and book, so expect more over the next month or so.
Sorry I haven't blogged for the last few days, consider it a mini-sabatical.
inconceivable pt 2
recap: star wars
book deal, star status, words coming out of my mouth
I did something I don't like doing
Sunday, May 22, 2005
I must be critical of that of which I am not. Yet, I must be even more critical of that of which I am.
Saturday, May 21, 2005
There's about an hour and a half before I leave for the airport today. And I'm sitting in the computer area here at the convention.
I'm only getting to stay for about 30 min of the final general session. So I'm not too sure if I'm going to get to hear McLaren speak again. Though I did order the CD so I'll get that soon enough. And I have a picture of him checking his email on one of these computers here in the computer area in the convention. (I'll post it later)
At least this week has been quite overwhelming. At most this week has brandished some amazing friendships and community.
It's my desire to continue in many of the friendships that I have started, and with hope a few of them will be lifelong.
The time here has left me completely wasted and spent. Drained of energy and desire. But I leave here more invigorated than ever before. I need to take some time, as I'm sure most of us do, to recoup and to process. I'm sure it won't be for at least a week until I wade though the flood of information that I've gained this week. (Not to mention the dozen or more books that I've gotten this week)
I'm sure I'll be spending the plane ride home, either sleeping, thinking or staring off into the horizon. And hopefully not reading (like I did the WHOLE ride out here.)
I do want to wish John a happy birthday today. (Don't worry friend, I will be there for your party tonight)
Well at this point I'm sure I'm rambling.
Let's just finish with this. I am leaving blessed. In so many ways and if you read the other entries on this blog about the emergent convention, hopefully that will come across.
This discussion and line of thought is far from over, I must rest before I continue.
Expect more on my experience here in Nashville (or NashVegas as I've heard it called, kinda like SpokaVegas) over the next few weeks as I listen and read to many of the things that I was physically unable to attend while here.
Friday, May 20, 2005
This post started due to a topic on the Youth Specialties forum. The thread can be found here.
Let's put it this way. Blogs, myspace, xanga, livejournal. All these places (whether we like it or not) have done something that we as youth ministers / pastors have not been able to do.
Teens feel connected here, they have no barriers, they spew forth their lives as if no one is looking, yet they somehow must realize that everyone has access to them.
We as Christians have failed here.
Yes, while it may be awful frightening to read at times, and most of the time what we read, we disapprove of, we are given a glimpse into a world that we in no way could ever enter.
Nor do I think we should.
While I would love to use myspace, or livejournal to do ministry. I fear that as soon as I (we) break that wall, they will go running for the hills. Shut us out completely. Never to let us back in.
I'm not suggesting that we don't subversively use these tools for ministry, but we now have the opportunity to gain the insight into our student's lives that we wouldn't normally have access to.
I wouldn't go about saying, "Hey steve, I saw what you wrote about being out last friday night drinking on myspace, what's going on?"
But I would cautiously be able to be aware of his behavior patterns and then slowly and tenderly begin to approach the subject of drinking with him.
Though we do as pastors begin to think differently about how we connect to teens and how we provide places for them connect.
I'm not saying that we tell our kids that blogs are bad. I am suggesting that we address the issue that they are longing for: community.
What are we doing wrong that we cannot create community at church or for teens?
Coffeehouses, youth sundays, small groups, and even youth group, may need to go.
Let's think about what sites like myspace, blogs, xanga, are doing right to build community (while it might be a "bad" community by our standards), but it is a community that draws people.
Let's build off this model and draw people, but let's draw them to truth and for the right reasons.
In case you were wondering I do blog. While I do not use it as a "spilling venue", I do not censor it from things I am feeling. I share joy, hurt, theology and life. In hopes that those who read it can come and discuss and learn and challenge me and themselves. All in the name of community and being faithful to my life as a man of faith.
Right now I kinda feel like crap.
I at one point in my life decided that I would listen more and talk less.
I can remember through out high school (especially in Bible studies and the like) I would/could be the dominating talker in a group setting. I never really thought about it until early college or just before. I finally realized what a value listening was and how talking all the time did not make you smarter or more prominent, especially in a small group setting. The problem was, I always felt like I had a lot to say and wanted to say it, which in a group setting is just not fair to the others.
Back to today.
I was planning on going to the Presbyterian Lunch forum today, but due to my working I couldn't find where the group had run off to. So I decided to join the young adult group.
The group's purpose was to sit and talk about life in young adult ministry and work in a few emergent ideas here and there.
Here's where I start to regret my coming to the group. I had just planned on sitting and listening. Enjoying the conversation, soaking it all in. I'm not totally sure of what happened, but there was a shift from me just asking questions and helping people to think about things, to where I was speaking a lot. Part of my wants to say maybe I was filled with the spirit, yet most of me wants to apologize for violating my own commitment to listen more than I speak, and instead of telling, I would ask.
My open and sincere apologies to the Young Adult forum.
I should have listened more, asked more, and used less words.
It's even harder since a few of the people would agree with what I was saying. (which may hold truth) but now when I think about it, only encouraged my activity.
I guess my magnetic confession would be: Uses too many words.
or from your 4th grade report card: talks too much.
I am sorry. I can only hope that people were encouraged by my words, not torn down or disenfranchised, or felt like they couldn't disagree.
If you were there and disagree, please accept this invitation to start a dialogue and accept my confession of pride.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
This was my dinner from the good BBQ place called Jack's here in Nashville. Everyone said I needed to go there. It was good. Nothing fancy. Just good BBQ.
I was going to post these as separate posts, but for convenience I'll combine them into one.
Books - Since being here, I knew I was going to get a lot of free stuff. But I didn't realize that more often than not when you meet someone and start talking sooner or later they just hand you a free "something", on a few occasions that has been a book that, that person has authored or contributed to. I guess I better write a book and get published so that I can hand things out to people. Or at least get business cards to hand out. On a somewhat related note, I talked about it earlier, but I helped create this prayer station experience called "magnetic confessions", taking the idea of the fridge magnet poem thing that people play with, and we turned it into a time of confession. And my new friend Lilly Lewin is working on a book with Dan Kimball and she wants to include the idea in the book, so unofficially I will be published sooner or later. Pretty cool. (Oh apparently PBS was here today making a show about either emergent or evangelicals and they were filming my station and I think they got some shots of me in one of our worship services...would be cool to be on TV)
Celebrity status - Meeting all these "big name" people this week gave me something to think about. I kinda hope I don't gain too much notoriety that strangers start coming up to me and say, "hey you don't know me, but I really have enjoyed your ______". Not that I wouldn't enjoy the attention or the fact that people thought I had something good to say. But mainly for the reason that, I'm really, really, really bad with names. I takes either a strong interest in who you are, or a lot of repetitiveness in seeing that person and hearing their name before it becomes lodged in my head. What I would really hate is to have those conversations that went like: "Hi I met you x amount of time ago, and we talked about ______, do you remember?" If I can't even remember names how am I going to remember what we talked about. I don't want to be an insensitive "known person". I would really like to have the gift of remembering names and conversations years later, so I could initiate the conversation saying, "hey ______, I remember you from _______, how's _______ been going for you" and totally floor the person I was talking to, that ME a big name person would remember something about this other person. Seeing as how we seem to have this certain stigma about big name people, that more than 99% of the time they won't remember who we are if we go and talk to them and then see them some other place.
Ok last topic, I should have separated these, oh well, too late now.
Articulation - I'm not talking about being able to hear/understand my words. But being able to clearly state something in a way that makes it easy for people to comprehend and wrap their minds around. I've noticed that during this conference that I've had many of the same ideas that the presenters are talking about. But what sets them apart from me is that I have a hard time clearly articulating what I want to say. This is more than evident in many of my blog posts (and I'm sure that includes this one too). I hope to develop the writing and speaking skills that will allow me to clearly and concisely present what I have been thinking about in a way that provokes thought and discussion. And I guess that's always been one of my goals for this blog.
Just had lunch with the Emergent Blogger group.
A huge THANKS to Will and D.J. for helping making lunch possible (and free).
It was just a great time to get to sit and eat and talk with people.
I'm really beginning to think this conference is more about relationships and people than it is about whatever it is we are talking about.
It is also really nice not to have to "circle argue". I remember being a philosophy minor and continually talking in circles. Here we can have open discussion and even disagree from time to time, but it is totally Ok and understandable for people to say "I see and understand what you are talking about, yet I disagree" and there is little, "well maybe you didn't understand this, or let me clarify this, or defend that", which is really refreshing.
Truly this is what community is supposed to be about. People of very diverse backgrounds, most with the same passions, all talking and more importantly listening to each other and having so much of a good time, it's ridiculous.
Below are some pictures from the lunch.
thanks to americanbible.org for sponsoring us
Below you will find 3 audioblogger posts 1, 2, 3, an 8 picture photo essay and a podcast of our STAR WARS ADVENTURE.
It was amazing!!!!!!!!!
Very emotionally draining for sure. Still processing...though it might be the best one of them all...still processing.
If you want to skip down to Emergent stuff, go here.
Off to bed now, it's past 4 am here.
so much star wars....
I've got a golden ticket
a blurry pic of an elated me
from our seats (the last row)
scott and I (taken by me)
from left to right
me, D.J. Chuang, Scott Wennermark, Rachelle Chuang, and Aaron Klienfelter
click Trogdor to play
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click Trogdor to play
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Star Wars Stuff (no spoliers)
click Trogdor to play
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Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Ok I lied. I have a few mins before I leave for Star Wars. (I have been going/not going/going w/o a ticket/going to get a ticket when I get there/ride I was going to share is full/found another ride) (maybe this is God telling me not to go, but for all purpose sake, I'm ignoring him)
Like I said below. (I'll get to McLaren later) We were blessed by this amazing lady, Phyllis Tickle.
She is a lay person. Speaks with amazing authority. Knows her stuff. Loving people. And she told me I had a great face and an amazing smile. She touched me personally (not ACTUALLY touched me), in a cool way.
She is speaking at each one of our evening sessions. Her theme is "little something old, little something new".
Tonight she was talking about Abram's encounter with coming to save Lot and his saving the possessions. She drew comparisons to this being the end of the Prologue of God's story. The exact end and beginning of act 1 is the point where Abraham raises the knife over Isaac's chest and God speaks the word "now".
At this point I'm not stating anything new (if you were there). And I'm not even sure what the point of this post is about and it's a rushed post (like any of them are not). I think most of all, the time served it's purpose of allowing us (the attendees) to be blessed and through that blessing we were allowed time to unpack what we had experienced during the day.
But at least this time I did feel like I was a part of the community. I was not separated, or outside the scope of what was happening and being experienced.
I do want to reflect on the fact that we so often do not allow ourselves to be blessed by others. We are too busy, too tired, too introspective, too consumed with work, to be in a place where other people (other than God) actively bless our lives.
When we allow a smile, a hug, a compliment, something ordinary, something we would normally overlook, when we open our eyes, slow down and actively allow ourselves to be open to being blessed, and being blessed fully, then we will be able to accept what God is trying to give us through other people.
I think too often as pastors and leaders that we become too consumed with our role in blessing and leading others that we forget that God is continually trying and seeking to bless us.
This is the mystic part of me that takes great joy in the very simplest of things in our world. Like today I was in the bathroom and was sitting, not doing much and my nalgene was hanging about eye level and I took great joy at the way the curvature of the horizon of the water line (the meniscus, if my 9th grade science vocabulary serves me right) was sitting there staring me right back. Knowing that only a great God could create something so simple yet so vastly complex, something that we only give attention to for a few days in school, when we don't want to be there anyways.
It is becoming more and more clear, God's intention to make his presence known to me through ever aspect of my life.
And I guess blessing is just one of those ways (a under represented way) of God reaching down through the ages and the story of the universe to make a personal connection to us.
The emergent version of this is, God still using the broken, dilapidated, sick, dying institution of the Church to gain our attention and affection.
I do believe (and this may somewhat separate my from some of the Emergent church) that we cannot totally back away from the main theory of Church. I want to be the kind of person bridging the gap, though I realize that this means that I will be walked on a lot, dis-acknowledge, taken for granted, and I will suffer much pain, stress, wear, and disrepair. But I feel it is imperative that we try and remain faithful to this avenue of God's dealing in the world and in our lives.
On a little side note, I did talk with Peter who put on the ICON service and his view is seeking an alternative to Church, but that is definitely in a different culture (he's from Ireland and works in Europe, where Church is rarely attended and there is a definite need to reach people other ways), but we are in American culture and we must to disavow the structure that we exist in. Though I do agree that we must explore the alternative avenues to reach people so that we do not lose that segment of the population.
Be blessed. Find God's blessing every moment of your day. Live the prayerful life but also live the blessed life. The life that is free from the crap attached to Jesus, and fully experience Jesus.
1 I'm off to see Star Wars III, yes!!!!
2 My friend Jordan called me today. He was supposed to go back to Iraq (in the Army)but certian circumstances have prevented him from returning. He needs prayer. Pray for him.
3 I have much to blog, but don't have the time right now. I will try and get to them all, but for now some will have to wait til tomorrow. Otherwise, I think I'll be blogging for days after to clear my head of all the thoughts and ideas.
4 Our evening BLESSING was truly a blessing. (more later)
5 Did I mention STAR WARS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The convention has officially begun, even though I've been working since 7:30 (central) this morning. Here are a few thoughts I've had now since things are underway.
Being a "volunteer" for the convention is giving me a new perspective on my time here. At one end I am drastically more involved than I would be if I was just a participant. I get to meet people I probably wouldn't meet, I get to know things that I probably wouldn't know, and I get to hear things that I probably wouldn't hear.
Yet at the same time I do sense that I am missing a few things too. The obvious ones being that I will not get to participate in all of the Learning Communities, as I have already missed one (well I caught 10 mins of one) today, because I was busy setting up/cleaning up for events later in the day. Also I am not "a part" of the larger community. While not "in charge", I am somehow separated from the rest of the "regular" participants.
This does not mean that I will not hear interesting things, or do interesting things, or be a part of this convention. I am beginning to think that my experience here will be quite unique. Unique not being bad, but probably something others will not have the chance to experience. As the week progresses I will continue to share about this part of my experience here at the convention.
Right now I'm late to Brian's seminar called: Rethinking Pluralism.
If any of you here at the convention want to get a hold of me for any reason my # is (818)800-1890.
Also be sure to check out my co-volunteer's (Eric) blog.
It's early (7 am here, 5 am back home) and I just woke from my first real sleep since Sunday night.(more than one hour at a time)
I feel alright.
My hope is God is going to do even more amazing things. I can feel his Spirit hovering over us, not sitting or looming, but ready, waiting, to pounce and cause a stir.
We'll see what today holds...
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Tonight after my incredibly long day, I was hanging out in our room waiting for the other guys to get here. I wanted to get my blogs posted since they were just sitting here waiting to be published. So I had to deal with finding a way to get the internet, which turned out to be quite a pain, and definitely not free, since our 200 dollar a night room doesn't include internet, and the Motel 6 down the road probably does. Stupid place costs 10 bucks a day PER COMPUTER. I finally found a solution that made everyone happy.
Being the suave guy I am, I somehow talked them into allowing all of us to connect for the 10 dollar a day rate. So hence internet works.
After a 5 min nap waiting for tech support to call me back, the rest of the guys
(from left to right Jake, Mark, Adam) got here and we went to dinner at this sports bar called Bailey's. (see below)
We ate out on a 2nd floor balcony under the Nashville night sky.
We were joined by Shane and Corey who were also at the convention.
A round of beers and good conversation followed.
I can only hope the rest of the days are spent talking about the Church's future, pushing, challenging one another to think critically about what it is we are doing here.
Let not our conversations forget about who God the Creator, Christ the Savior is and will be.
5 posts below
Chronicling my trip to the emergent convention.
There will be more...much more.
It's 6:19 central time.
I'm exhausted, I'm even more excited than before. And I found a new culinary eatery that I had never heard of.
Set up went well, I mainly helped out setting up lights and rigs and sound for the most part of the morning. Then my job shifted to helping set up for more emergent specific rooms.
Then we had lunch at Chick-Fil-A this little chicken sandwich place. Pretty good. It's always fun to try new places. I consider myself fairly well traveled and know most food chains, national and some regional. But this place had eluded me until today. One more thing to be excited for. Sorry I don't have pictures of the food, but if we eat there again then I will make sure to take some.
Truly the best part of the convention so far (and it hasn't even started) has been the people. I've already met a lot of cool people. Especially the ones who go "your name sounds familiar...but I'm not sure how I know you", then we figure out that we have blogging in common. Small world. Nice to be noticed/recognized.
The second most interesting part has been the interaction/conversations that I've been able to have/listen to/be a part of/asked my opinion of. Emergent is truly a conversation and without talking to people, sharing ideas and values our purpose would shrink to little. I still feel like the new kid on the block. All I can hope to come from this conference is to seize the opportunity to interact with many people who have been thinking about emergent for longer than I have. I can hope that I gain notoriety (though this is not my aim) or even better, would be the acceptance of my ideas (long shot).
I have already had the opportunity to interact with Lilly Lewin who is coordinating some of the experiential worship experiences and I was able to contribute an idea that is going to be used. Very cool.
Well at this point I am super exhausted already and it's only the beginning. This week is going to be even more than I expected.
For now I'm off to the pool to relax a little before I get some dinner.
P.S. It looks like I might have the chance to go to Star Wars after all. We'll see...
I'm here in Nashville, Tennessee.
On my flight I was able to take a (blurry but somewhat cool) picture of the Statue of Liberty, which I was seeing with my own two eyes for the first time.
there she is in the lower right corner
just a shot of NYC
I am making a promise (as best I can) to refrain from the use of the words "ya'll" or
"howdy", and I am making a conscious effort to not pick up an incidental contact accent.
If I get back and I say any of the aforementioned words or speak with a drawl, you have free reign to punch me and kick me.
On the way to the hotel I ended up sharing a cab with Will Samson, Grace McLaren (Brian McLaren's wife) and another woman who's name escapes me.
Once I got to the hotel I checked in to a fabulous room here at the Rennisance Hotel. And then proceeded to find my "boss" for the week, Alex.
I'm sitting here in the main ballroom where most of the National Pastors Convention is going to be taking place alongside the Emergent Convention.
This week is going to be mind blowing and it can only get better from here.
I guess at this point I am now on Central time, whatever that means. Though all my posts will still reflect Pacific time.
I'm sitting here at the Newark NJ airport, at 3:03 am (pacific time).
This is my breakfast/late night snack.
It's around 6 am local time here. I bought this burger at 4pm on Monday May 16, 2005 in California. It sat in my room until I left and then sat in my backpack until now.
The flight was a great time to read, reflect, listen to music, and have alone time with God thinking about him and praising him.
Too many thoughts are flooding through my head as I prepare to enter the world of emergent. I am excited, I am scared, I'm hoping I don't say anything that makes me look/sound real stupid.
I am almost finished with McLaren's book, mentioned below.
I will hopefully finish it soon. It's amazing how much reading you can do on a 5 hour flight in the middle of the night, especially if you're a night person like me. I'm only hoping that it doesn't catch up to me in a few hours.
I'll post again once I get to Nashville and get settled in at the hotel. I'm pretty sure they have a Wi-Fi connection or at least the convention center will. But you won't be reading this until I do have one anyways.
Monday, May 16, 2005
"When I say I cherish an evangelical idenity, I mean something between a belief system or doctrinal array or even a practice. I mean an attitude - an attitude toward God and our neighbor and our mission that is passionate. When evangelicals (at their best) sing, they sing. When evangelicals pray, they pray. When evangelicals preach, they preach. When evangelicals decide something is worth doing, they do it. They don't tend to establish committees to study the feasibility of doing it. They don't ask permission from the bureaucracy to do it. They don't get a degree that qualifies them to do it. They just do it - and with passion.
I have recently been thinking about passion, do I have enough? do pastors exhibit passion? is passion reserved for special occasions? how does one lose their passion? is passion reserved for us "young people"? what happens when we run into people who tell us we have too much passion?
There have been numerous times in my life where I have been told that my passion was good and bountiful, but then to be rebuked, told that I needed to calm down a bit, not to try so hard to get something done. Much of this within the Christian community.
I'll admit that I once was an "idealist", coming up with grand schemes and plans. Often too grand or not well thought through. I have moved on from being an idealist, to more of a realist (not quite a rationalist) but still engrossed with passion. My passion remains. My desire to cause trouble and challenge others remains a focus in my life. And I guess this is why I identify with the emergent cause.
This is becoming more and more clear to me through discernment. I feel a portion of my calling is to challenge the current infrastructure of church (both Big C and little c).
Ever since childhood I have always held onto to the primitive desire to be mischievous, to get into sticky situations, to make others feel uneasy. I assume I have yet to grow from that phase of my life.
Even today as I sat in our prayer meeting amongst colleagues and friends, I was encouraged to continue on my endeavor of wanting to affect change in the church. My friend said of me that ever since he has known me he has seen my ability to be diplomatic about wanting change and going about presenting ideas contrary to the mainstream.
I want my passion to be genuine. I want people to view my passion as a good thing. I want my passion to be God-breathed. I want passion that is unwilling to back-down or give-in to criticism. I need courage to be passionate. I need God to accomplish anything.
I don't want to live under the moniker of "we have always done it this way".
I don't mind traveling. I really like the adventure that comes along with going new or old places. The thrill of waiting in the airport, watching the people going by, speculating about whether people are coming or going from the place that you are currently at. Looking and people and knowing that each one of them has a story to tell. Looking at people and wondering if their salvation is secured.
I really don't even mind the security issue that a lot of people have to face.
It seems that I have an affinity for being picked for the secondary screening process. They like to single me out for some reason. About 80% of the time I travel I get the full once over. This really doesn't bother me. I know it's basicaialy by chance. You have a greater chance of being picked if you are flying one-way. (which I am today because I'm coming home on a different airline) You have a greater chance if you are flying alone (I am). Etc, etc...
There's really only one thing I don't like about the secondary screening:
You see I try to travel light, I know I just want to get to where I am going, so therefore I try and not check bags unless I really have to. Like today I have my backpack with my computer, books, DVDs, misc. Then I have a carry on bag. Which has all my clothes, toiletries, shoes, and stuff I'll need for the week.
I don't mind the fact that they pick through your stuff, sniff your food, wipe the "stridex pad" looking thing in your bags and whatever.
The one thing that really bugs me about traveling is the fact that these guys/gals who search your bag have no idea on how to repack a tightly packed bag.
Tonight for example. I watched this guy unpack my bag, root through it, start to stuff my belongings back in and had a pair of shoes, a bottle of lotion, and a container of hair gel left sitting on the table. I had to kindly say, "Don't worry I can put that all back in there". It was like trying to watch a 4 year old put together a model and half the pieces are left on the table while he gleefully says "all done!!!"
GEEZE, if it's your job to unpack and repack people's things all day long, don't you think you might be good at it??
Put things back where you found them, apply slight pressure to an overstuffed bag, try not to break my zipper and let me go on my way.
Thanks TSA. Thanks a lot.
I guess I could learn to pack a little lighter, or maybe not. I want to be able to travel with 2 bags and not have to deal with checking baggage (that 1/2 of the time doesn't get there anyways, takes and extra 45 min at the airport to pick up and is not handled properly.
Travel woes story #1.
"s" stands for "you're screwed"
But I really do like traveling and to be honest the time it took me from the curb to the gate was really no more than 10 min. Not too bad, especially considering its LAX.
P.S. I will be keeping the time stamps as of when I wrote the blog, which may or may not reflect the actual publishing of the blog. Also the time will remain Pacific time, not the actual time zone I am in.
Today we had our first Presbytery wide Youth Directors prayer meeting.
I feel encouraged.
Even admist the Enemy's direct attempt to thwart the meeting, a few faithful gathered and we fellowshiped and prayed and were encouraged.
God is moving. God will win. Prayer is powerful.
I'm looking foward to the next one.
But for now I have to get ready, cause I'm off to the Emergent Convention.
I'll be blogging all week from the convention, so stay tuned.
Friday, May 13, 2005
Jr. High overnighter.
Wish me luck...
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Always fun to think about those things everyone was so swept up in at the time and was a really big deal, but now a few months later or years later no one cares.
Tsunami - people I'm sure are still rebuilding their lives, but who cares when Michael Jackson is on trial.
Prayer - after 9/11 people were all about praying, where's the prayer now.
Pope - I'm sure he's still making decisions and choices that will greatly affect Christians around the world, but who cares when people lose and find fingers in food.
Old Pope - Was totally "in" when he died, but no one knew much about him until that time, nor do we really care now about the things he did.
Homosexuality in the church - (still around) but who ever talks about how to make sure we as christians in america don't become extinct. (I guess those should be switched)
new ghetto blog
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
I've made a conscious decision NOT to see Star Wars ep III at midnight. (unless I have a last minuet recantation)
yes, it's shocking even to me
Reason: I'll be helping out (instead of going to) with the Emergent convention at Nashville and I'm not sure if my duties will allow me to get away to see the film.
The good news is that I get to participate in about 90% of the stuff I would have gone to if I was just going, but now, my hotel, food, and convention costs are covered. Thank you, Alex Roller and Youth Specialties.
This all means that I probably won't see the film until sometime on Sunday. (teardrop)
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
This train of thought started in response to a few posts by Marko of Youth Specialties. The posts can be found here and here and here.
Accountability: Liable to being called to account; answerable
responsibility to someone or for some activity
Marko argues for the removal of the word "accountability" from our Christianese speak.
Bottom line: accountability is a sham. You can no more hold someone accountable to issues of the mind and soul than you can mandate grace or peace. It's voluntary...really, let's just excise the word "accountability" from our little church-y lexicon...i'll be bearing my soul to 7 friends this week in Toronto. or not. we'll seeAccountability in the purest of forms is something that I've been longing for, for a while. Other than the community aspect of my longing, accountability goes right in there. I want to meet with a group of guys, who all share the vision of voluntarily coming to the table to dump what shit we have and be willing to accept it, share it and help each other clean it up. (I hope I can find this)
I think this is what Marko is getting at.
But the underlying issue is that accountability (for lack of better term) is a volunteer effort. No one is making you say anything, tell anything or confess anything. This ability to hold each other "accountable" is reliant on how vulnerable those participating are willing to be.
I want this, for me and for it to be modeled for me. Our church structure is so unwilling to admit to itself that we are hurt, bleeding, sinful people with problems. Even our leadership is afraid of being this way, even though they claim openness. I think this is why so few people succeed in being "accountable" to each other.
This brings me to the bigger issue at hand in our churches today. We as pastors are so guarded that we are unable to openly share our struggles and pain with the people we minister to. This creates a space between minister and parishioner that resembles a one way street instead of a conversation. (sorry for mixing metaphors)
While I know some of you will counter argue that we must be guarded and cautious with what we share with our congregations, for the reason that sometimes it is not fair to "dump" things on them.
I will say to that; yes, that may be true. But how are they (the congregation) ever going to learn to admit to their sin, admit to their addictions if we as pastors do not model this for them. I've tried to live under the statement told to me by an old youth director (*wink Jono) that "I'm living my life as an open book for all to see and read". While I know this is a phrase tossed around by people in the public view, or otherwise stated as living in a fishbowl. I fear that many of those who claim this statement rarely live by this.
I have come to a point where I am tired of seeing pastors fall, because they were unable to admit their struggles, and when they come to light it cripples them. Yes, I realize that we as pastors are held to higher standards, but still we fall, and fall just as often as others.
I for one am not perfect and daily deal with my own sinful nature and sinful acts.
The grace extended to us (as pastors) is no different than the grace extended to anyone else.
We as pastors need to surround ourselves with the people who are not afraid to ask the hard, deep probing questions. And we, ourselves must let down our guard and be willing to fully express our human fallen-ness.
Each one of us are sinful creatures. It is the sole reason we need to be redeemed by a perfect and holy and graceful God.
I don't think it's impossible for us to model this in our pastoral lives.
Different, yes. Impossible, no.
Maybe we don't start in front of our congregations, maybe we start with 7 guys in the woods in Canada, but at least it's a start.
I'm game, are you?
No I'm not talking about a bra, but am talking about a good group of youth ministry people that I meet with weekly.
Everyone needs a place to talk about their frustrations/joys/concerns/life and these folks are such a blessing to me.
Toady was quite a frustrating day. Then I met with them, and then took a nap and now I feel ready to go out there and change the world. Maybe just 5 more mins of nap time first...
Monday, May 09, 2005
Homestarrunner.com finally got some national attention. Featured on All Things Considered on NPR this last Sunday. Go here to listen.
Sunday, May 08, 2005
So Marko, or Mark Oestreicher of Youth Specialties has a blog. Cool beans.
Reading his post about accountability got me thinking. It's too late to post now about it. So go and read his post, leave comments, and I'll post something in the next day or two about it.
Friday, May 06, 2005
My faith is strong in the things I believe in. I try and not let most things worry me. There is not a lot that gets me worried or stressed to the point of exhaustion. God continually provides for me everything that I need and has yet to let me fall.
Yet, time and time again, money is one of the only things that, I know I shouldn't worry about, yet I constantly worry about.
The devil has a stronghold on the worry button in my life when it comes to money. Even though time and time again, I have seen God deliver cash to my doorstep. (not literally, but it would be cool if that happened)
It all just kind of adds up, the car payment, gas, insurance, student loans, rent, food, phone, internet, etc. (that's what I get for going to private school) Bills are such a stress, sometimes I wish people would take the Jubilee seriously and start forgiving debt. Give us "little guys" a break. Here I am working hard to make progress in my life and I am held down by the burden of debt.
Looking towards my future, I find it hard to be able to go to seminary, due to the debt that I will once again occur. I find it hard to think about marriage when I know that 1 I will bring a lot of debt to my marriage, and 2 I will not exactly be able to be a big breadwinner, being in ministry, and 3 it's no fun to live month to month.
Then again I have to be grateful that I have the luxury (most of the time) to blow money on things like a Double Gulp from 7-11, and can go and buy things at a supermarket. I'd happily trade my comfort for a simple life in a far away place where my basic needs were met. Though I'd stipulate I'd get my computer and an internet connection so I could blog. But that'd be about all.
It's truly sad that so much of our society is so dependent on money. In the sense that it keeps people from doing so many things. Or that so many people have money and are not concerned with helping those without.
Wow, my whole post has turned from a rant about how I have no money into a post about a globalization of shared wealth. I think I really like the IDEA of communism, seeing how it should level the playing field and things are all equal.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
head + vise = feeling for last 2 days
also reason for not posting much
will try to come up with something "theological" to post, haven't posted anything with substance lately
Tuesday, May 03, 2005