Saturday, May 28, 2005


I doubt every day in heaven will be like today-- beginning with good coffee and hours of playing paintball with friends, ending with a viewing of the Grand Ole Opry, both bookends to a nap, viewing of 7th Heaven, dinner and 3 hours of "Ed" with a friend.

But I'm sure a lot of them will.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A Shorty About Those Shorties...

In a couple of months Jude and Sutton will have been alive for three years. In many ways I will have been also.

I've known Avery, their four year old sister, for most of her life. I came to UBC the month she was born but didn't become close with her parents until a couple of months afterward. Avery's got me whipped, and she knows it. You have to be delicate around her or Hurricane Avery will strike. She's all girl.

I've known those little boys since they were a few minutes old. I remember staring at them through the glass and having this gut feeling that my world had just gone through a seismic shift. And it had.

A couple of weeks ago Jude and Sutton left the confines of their cribs for "Big Boy Beds." Bedtime is a little more hectic when there is no cage involved.

I think I told you not too long ago about Jude's ritual when I put him to bed. "Hug!" I give him a hug. "Kiss!" I give him a kiss, usually involving his snotty nose. "High Five!" I give him a high five.

Today he added another element. "Other hand!" High five on the other hand. Pretty soon we are going to have to move bedtime up fifteen minutes just to get everything in.

I make less money and am more in debt than any of my friends, yet I am so filthy rich.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

For What It's Worth...

I guess it's time that I share my deep thoughts about the Emerging Church, since everyone else seems to be.

-- A couple of weeks ago, at my Emerging Church, I was taking Jude (Ju-Ju as we like to call him,) to the nursery. At first he didn't want to go, but I took him by the hand and told him I'd stay with him for a little bit before I went into big church. When we reached the hallway that led into the nursery Jude murmered under his breath, "Hi Jana," and then started singing, to himself, "Jesus loves me, this I know...."

Jana is a part of our Emerging Church. She is a young married woman who is a speech therapist in town. About a year ago she noticed that all we were to our kids were baby sitters while their parents were in church. So she took it on herself, without anyone asking her, to develop a curriculum for our kids. Now on Sundays they learn about Moses and God and Jesus and get gold stars put on the poster board. They sing songs about Jesus and are putting him in their hearts on a weekly basis.

-- This past week at my Emerging Church was our commissioning service to those who will be leaving us. Last year we recognized that we just gave lip service to "One Body, Many Parts." We always said that those in full time ministry are no more or less special than other Christ-followers, but who do we commission? Full time ministers. So for the past two years we have commissioned pastors, missionaries, teachers, business people, academicians, fashion designers, scientists, writers, and even a mechanic. During both commissioning services we watched a video about one of the most Christlike people ever, Mr. Rogers, where his said that the space between what we do and people is holy ground, and that we should take that seriously. And so we take it very seriously.

-- If you were to count the amount of hugs that are given at our Emerging Church you'd be astounded.

-- My emerging church is made up of white people, black people, Mexicans, El Salvadorians, Germans, heterosexuals, a couple of homosexuals, people who listen to cool music and people like me who listen to Dierks Bentley and Big & Rich, people who think women shouldn't preach and women who are studying to be preachers, people who believe homosexuality is a sin and people who think it's natural and ok and people who are struggling and praying about what they think about it, Republicans, Democrats, Greens, Independents, people struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, and even a few East Texans.

-- On any given day of the week, all over this city, you can find the aforementioned members of my Emerging Church spending time with each other over books, meals, coffee, beer, television sets, stereos, and movie theaters. The conversation covers the spectrum of human activity and thoughts and often centers on what it means to follow Christ in our world. There are tons of tears and more tons of laughs and a sense that we are all in this together.

-- My Emerging Church takes the Bible seriously. As such, we refuse to treat it as a weapon or to reduce it to an affirmation of ourselves and our beliefs.

-- My Emerging Church takes tradition seriously. We observe communion often. Most Sundays you will find us singing "Doxology" "All Creatures of Our God and King," "Amazing Grace," "Nothing but the Blood," along with many new songs.

-- The David Crowder Band leads worship at my Emerging Church. Although it can be odd at times having a rock star as a part of your congregation, it's also amazing to think how far around the world the reach of our local faith community reaches, through his music.

-- My Emerging Church takes art and social justice (my dreaded word) seriously. A couple of weeks ago my Emerging Church held an art show featuring and auctioning off the work of some of our people. All the proceeds went to the Invisible Children project, that will be used to build a school and safe house for Ugandan boys seeking to escape their military captors.

-- I could write tons more about my Emerging Church, but I have to go to work.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

"Time, you left me standing there
Like a tree growing all alone
The wind just stripped me bare, stripped me bare
Time, the past has come and gone
The future's far away
Now only lasts for one second, one second
Can you teach me about tomorrow
And all the pain and sorrow
Running free?
'Cause tomorrow's just another day
And I don't believe in time..."

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Well Durn...

The most recent post from the Real Live Preacher reminded me that I have some 'splainin to do. I have thought about this incident quite a bit over the past year and a half, so I thought I'd share it with you. Please know that while I will point out some differences with a certain person (who will remain anonymous in this post,) and probably with several of you, I sincerely mean no disrespect. I've wanted to write this for some time, but also have felt it necessary to have a bit of time between said incident and the time I share it in order to provide that most precious of commodities-- perspective. Now, on to the business at hand.

About a year and a half ago I wrote a post welcoming some ETBU alumni who had discovered my blog through the ETBU alumni message board. (If you are not easily offended, you are more than welcome to read it HERE.) I expected a few people to read it, but I had no idea it would start off a controversy within the ETBU administration. But one person got a hold of it who passed it on to another person, who just happened to be a former employer of mine, who was shocked and started off an email exchanged that got pretty heated. In this person's initial email was the statement "If this is your attempt at authenticity I find it will in the end yield much different results than you desire. The language is not refreshing, it is appalling and so beneath your intellect and does not speak of intimacy with Christ but with the world." It went on further to say that, should I choose not to see the error in my ways, I could forget about receiving any future ministry endorsements from this person.

I reacted poorly. I replied with a long explanatory email that culminated in labeling this particular person and adjective that begins with "ass" and ends with "hole." I had no problem with this person being offended. I should have known my post would have offended people, (even though I believed the humor in the "women in ministy" comment would be considered funny enough to take some of the edge off.) What upset me so much was this person questioning my relationship with Christ based on a few words that are considered by most to be profane.

2003 was a very rough year for me. Probably the worst in my life. My short lived career in teaching ended in what I consider a failure. The two people I had been living with decided to move out, forcing a couple of months of uncertainty, culminating with me living with a friend who had far too many emotional issues for me to deal with and two other guys who were 23 year old teenagers (aka, youth ministers,) who thought it was ok to play video games late at night with the bass cranked up as high as it would go, and not pay the rent on time. I took on two stressful part time jobs and tried my hand at seminary, being forced out because I was unlucky in the high stakes game of financial aid. There were people close to me that I felt estranged from for the previous couple of years. I was living an unhealthy lifestyle, drinking too much and eating my way fron an already unhealthy 260 lbs. to an even worse 285. In early November my beloved grandmother passed away, causing the worse emotional stress of my life. In fact, I can only think of three good things that happened the entire year: meeting my good friend Tim, Jude and Sutton being born, and Jason and Christy's wedding, which in many ways was the catylist in redeeming the sham that I found my life in.

I blogged about it all: my frustrations, my fears, my grief. I talked about God and his people and how I was trying to figure Him out after all my presuppostions were torn to the ground. As I read my blog from that year I see a modern day Psalms (though not written nearly as well or with the obvious Inspiration.) I was mad at God, I loved God. I was sick of my sin, but I also was justifying my sin. The whole gamut of emotions was written down. For years I felt that everyone thought I was perfect, no rough edges. But I knew different. The tone of my language during those times was meant to express on the outside what I was feeling on the inside-- all of it, the good and bad.

Then someone who I respected (and still do, in many ways) read around news of my grandmother's death and my rough years and my honesty with God and found the post laden with profanity and questioned my character based on that and that alone.


-- As stated earlier, I reacted extremely poorly. I knew this person. I knew how this person thought. I should have known that no harm was meant and that the initial goal of the email was to express a genuine Christian concern. I was a 29 year old acting like a 12 year old who was just scolded by his parents. I responded to what I felt was an attack with another attack, something that I cognitively know is never helpful.

-- Although I was initially angry, and stayed that way for the better part of a year, I think the incident actually helped me think about, and be more concerned about, the way I come across. If you've been with my blog from the beginning, you can definitely see a change in how I write. I don't regret that period of my life and the use of profanity, because that was who I was. I do regret my refusal to see things from another perspective.

-- My blog has increasingly become, for the most part, free of profanity, but I haven't really changed what I feel about it. If I stub my toe or make a terrible mistake at work, the word I verbalize after "Oh," generally isn't "No!" I rarely use the derivitaves "Durn, freaking, or biscuit eater," opting instead to verbalize the words in their original form. I truly don't feel this is indicative of an immature Christian, (I have much worse attitudes that serve this purpose better than using cuss words.) Language changes and the small fraction of my vocabulary that is conidered profane by some is not meant to damn or to literally curse, but to express strong emotions.

-- Considering Paul's admonition to refrain from doing anything that would offend your weaker brother or sister. The funny thing about this argument is that it is usually not the people we consider "weaker" brothers and sisters who are offended by the occasional curse word, but rather the people we are supposed to believe are spiritual giants.


I really have nothing left to say about this. I'll keep being me. I'll keep changing. Someday my life won't be as good as it is now and I'll respond by allowing me outside to look just like my inside-- ugly. But I will try to be more respectful. After all, Avery is four and in a couple of years will be reading and I don't want her to ask me how to pronounce that word that starts with an "F."

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Way I Have Chosen...

I ended my work day at 7:00 p.m. and headed home to make dinner and watch a couple of episodes of "Joey" and "Will and Grace." Cooked a BBQ Pork loin on the grill and had leftover rice and beans from the previous week. At 8:00 I decided that instead of sitting on the couch looking for something on the television to sedate me, I would go on a walk. I went on a walk. Sunset. Fireflies and chirping crickets were just a couple of instruments in the chorus that, for the past few years, has danced in my head, singing the songs of parts east of here-- Carthage and a front porch and iced tea and silence.

A couple of years ago I posted these words from Garrison Keillor. Slowly along the way these words have become my creed and resonate in my mind as some of the most spiritual words ever uttered in the English language...

"In Lake Wobegon, you learned about being All Right. Life is complicated, so think small. You can't live life in raging torrents, you have to take it one day at a time, and if you need drama, read Dickens."

"The urge to be top dog is a bad urge. Inevitable tragedy. A sensible person seeks to be at peace, to read books, know the neighbors, take walks, enjoy his portion, live to be eighty, and wind up fat and happy, although a little wistful when the first coronary walks up and slugs him in the chest. Nobody is meant to be a star. Charisma is pure fiction, and so is brilliance. It's the dummies who sit on the stage, and it's the smart people who sit in the dark near the exits. That is the Lake Wobegon view of life."
The Way I have chosen, the Way of Christ, is very often-- for me personally-- the Lake Wobegon way. A lot of nothing much. Walks. Saying hi to my neighbor. Reading the newspaper-- the local one. The one more concerned with potholes and with how to care for local veterans than with grand issues.

"I have come that they may have life..."

This is life.

The drawback to preaching the Gospel of Christ in the Mundane is this: Occasionally you have to stop preaching it and start living in the mundane.

I need to go. I have clothes that need washing. I hope your life is filled with the same.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Call it a Comeback...

After a couple of months of using the computers at church and at the Waco Public Library, I had enough and took this bad boy into Circuit City, that great establishment that shares a building with Barnes and Noble. After a good deal of schmoozing and bartering (all legal and within decent ethical boundaries) I got a couple of hundred dollars worth of work for not a dime. So now there is a working computer in the house and I am back to blogging on a more consistent basis.

I, I, (choking up and fighting back tears,) I missed all of you. But I'm home, and everything is ok. I know you knew I'd be back. Thanks for sticking around and waiting.

After all that time away I have a lot of catching up to do. So buckle your seatbelts and let's go for a ride.


I spent a good deal of mid February to mid March in and out of doctor's offices. Three weeks with an upper respiratory infection and the vertigo problems, both of which I mentioned in previous posts. In the midst of all that I switched doctors because the people I was seeing were doing jack squat for me. The new guy, who is the doctor of several people at work, gave me stuff that cleared up the infection and he suggested I see an Ear Nose and Throat Specialist about the chronic ear infections I have been having off and one for, well, for the past thirty years, or 100% of my life.

Long story short-- I've seen the ENC (lingo for "Ear Nose and Throat doctor) a couple of times. What we know: In my right ear there is a bone protruding through the canal and a hole in my ear drum. This is causing what I (and most of my close friends) have known for a while-- that I'm hard of hearing in my right ear. In fact, they did a hearing test and found that my right ear is actually hearing 35 decibels less than what it is capable of hearing. What they don't know: There is a possibility that I have what is call a Cholesteoma, which is a benign tumor just below the surface of my ear canal. If this is true it explains my balance and dizziness problems from a few weeks ago, because the tumor could be applying pressure on my inner ear. I go back in August to find out for sure. If it is they'll have to do surgery to remove it. It isn't a huge deal, but they would remove it because it could cause more serious problems 15-20 years down the road, like infection of the brain. These are wonderful things to be thinking about right now, so I think I'll just move on.


Not much going on. Still enjoy my job. I get paid to sell books to people and to read a lot of books. Is this heaven or Iowa? There's about to be a huge reorganization of the store that will take a lot of energy, but it'll be cool.


It seems I've spent the past few months reading bits and pieces of this and that and only actually finishing the things that wow me. Reading "The Kite Runner" a few months ago set the bar very high, as I think I've mentioned. At the present I am in the middle of "Everything is Illuminated" by Jonathan Safron Foer (I wanted to read it before I picked up his new book,) and "Protestantism in America" by Lauren Winner and some other guy.


I think I've mentioned this before, but about four years ago I started listening to country music again partly out of irony (hahh, look at me, I'm listening to country music, I'm cool) and partly out of trying to reconnect with my roots. Four years later it's practially all I listen to (with a few exceptions) and it sincerely makes me happy.

I'm not a big Tracy Byrd fan, but his new song called "Songs about Me" describes what I love about the genre. Even the most slickly produced pop-radio-friendly country songs are more rooted in who I am and what my life looks like than any other music, excepting, of course, kings of common-man-music such as Springsteen.

So over the past week I've listened to "Horse of a Different Color" by Big & Rich, Crystal Gayle's greatest hits, "Kerosene" by Lindale girl Miranda Lambert (go out and and get it now. It's wonderful and, in my opinion, worthy of a Grammy nomination,) and Johnny Cash's greatest hits.

Seeing it recommended on (I think) Corey's blog also prompted me to purchase Derek Webb's "She Must and Shall Go Free." Even though became increasingly harder to look past Caedmon's Call's freefall into Calvinistic Calvinism, I nevertheless enjoyed their music and could find great things about it. I thought Webb's solo debut would be the same, but I just coulnd't do it any more, and for opposite reasons of why I listen to country music (the same thing goes for a recent purchase of a newer Bebo Norman album)-- the songs sung were decidedly NOT songs about me and they did not resonate with my feelings about God. From Webb's "Nobody Loves Me" "nobody loves me, nobody loves me
nobody loves me but you." I can't sing that because it's not true. God is not the only one who loves me, thank God. I had an easier time resonating with Bebo's lyrics, but musically it's just not me.


Jason and I are into the fourth season of Ed. It's been a cool time going through the entire series in just a few short months. It's fun watching it with a close friend as well who understands what the show means to me and who has been properly trained on when the appropriate time is to make comments and when is the appropriate time to keep his mouth shut (unlike some of my former Ed watching partners.)

I'm enjoying Grey's Anatomy and a couple of months ago started watching Everybody Loves Raymond and kick myself for not discovering that show sooner.

I've got a lot more to write, but I'm staying up too late. I'll be back tomorrow.

Later Home G's.