Sunday, December 29, 2002

Well, checking in on day the second beginning of two weeks off. Today was weird. Through a series of circumstances, I did not attend worship proper today. I headed off for lunch instead--thinking I was on my own. So, I'm sitting there at California Pizza Kitchen preparing to consume my Carne Asada Pizza and continue my study in Philippians (all the while muttering to myself about the "circumstances"), when in walk a bunch of my students from the Young Adult Ministry at Torrance First Baptist. How weird is that? (considering that whole omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God thing, not too weird I guess) Anyhow, what began as a stressed out day has turned out to be a God day. It's pretty cool that God cares about small stuff.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

Today is the beginning of the first of two weeks off. I am just beginning to figure out what to do with my time (actually, the stack of books and passages has been piling up, so it really won't be a problem). No real profundities today. I did have a great rack of baby back ribs for lunch today. Yummmm.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Well, the party season is officially over at Biola. I attended the last of I believer five Christmas lunches. It's been fun. School is almost over--I have a few more enjoyable essay questions on the last final exam and a few more hours of work, then I'm outta here... at least until January 6. I may blog in the meantime, but the 56k at home just isn't the same as the T1 at work, ya know.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002


Legolas Greenleaf

If I were a character in The Lord of the Rings, I would be Legolas, Elf, a son of the King of Mirkwood.

In the movie, I am played by Orlando Bloom.

Who would you be?
Zovakware Lord of the Rings Test with Perseus Web Survey Software

Well my year is nearing an end; so let’s look at the rest of the questions.

Have I maintained a genuine awe of God?

My awe of God is genuine, even though not always as deep as could be—but then this isn’t heaven, and all my stuff is still here.

Is my lifestyle distinctive?

Somewhat. Though having had a few slams this year, I know there is room for improvement. Getting my nose out of the books every now and then would be good.

Is my "spiritual feeding" the right diet for me?

Less fast food. More nutritious meals. By the way, I found a great resource the other day for just this thing. Check out “Daily Passion” on the IVPC website.

Is obedience in small matters built into my reflexes?

Improved, but a few ‘knee jerks’ remain.

Is there enough celebration in my life?


Final comments on the year

This year has been full of epiphanies. Merriam-Webster defines ‘epiphany’ as “3 a (1) : a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something (2) : an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking (3) : an illuminating discovery.” Here’s a few:

Telling my faithstory is part of my job, even if I work at a Christian university and mostly know Christians.

Getting to know people—in the church and outside the church—is ministry.

It is more important for my students to meet Jesus than it is for them to hear my wit and wisdom—shocking, eh?

Ministry is about doing ministry with, not ministering to. Merely ministering to people without supporting their ministry demeans them. That’s bad.

Knowing, loving, and becoming like Jesus is more important that learning a bunch of really good stuff in seminary.

Sometimes, one must stand up for what is right.

Developing godly character is more important than graduating summa cum laude.

Well that's the scoop for today.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

One final down and one to go.

A few days ago on the Greenline, I experienced a moment of clarity. I saw a part of my soul that I would have preferred remain in dim hiddenness. There was a gentleman on the train who likely had not seen clean water and soap in about a year. He sat down across the aisle from me. A young man— judging from the gear and the young man’s apparent age probably a high school athlete—sat down next to him. The older man engaged the young man in conversation. The young man was polite and gentle. Then came the crisis moment: as the train pulled into a station where the young man was to disembark, the older man held out his hand for the young man to shake. There was a moment of hesitation. The young man made a fist and rather than shaking the older man’s hand, he did a fisted ‘gimme five’ (for lack of a better term for the action). Suddenly the question came into my mind, “Would I have shaken the older man’s hand? If I did shake it, would I not touch anything until I could get to soap and water?” Honestly, I would have dodged the hand completely. So, does love really stop when the icky-o-meter gets too high?

Monday, December 16, 2002

Two finals this week... arrrrrgh!

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Well, it must be getting near the end of the semester. Last night, while finishing up the first drafts of some chapter abstracts on Grudem’s Systematic Theology (see What I’m Reading for details on the book), I decided to boycott homework today. I left the rolley bag at home and I read the Talbot newsletter on the way to work. I gotta say, it was good. Dr. John Hutchinson has a great article on the Prayer of Agur (yes Agur, not the other guy) that is found in the book of Proverbs—you know, a book that actually has the purpose of helping believers live wise godly lives. [I’m not a fan of that other “Prayer of…” book, but in all honesty, Hutchinson does not do any slamming, he just unfolds Agur’s prayer]. Check it out in Proverbs 30:7-9.

Anyhow, on to the question for today:

Is my prayer life improving?

On this one I can honestly say yes… mainly due to a new understanding of prayer. As a went-to-church-in-the-womb church kid, my understanding of prayer was based on mealtime prayers and the prayer list published in the bulletin each week. For some this is not a problem, but as a very global thinker, lists of names—or anything else—just don’t float my boat. What I began to realize was that, if I stepped outside the dinner prayers and list prayers, I actually prayed much more than I thought. If prayer is conversation, then every conversation with God is prayer, yes? I still have a way to go—I am very glad the God knows our weaknesses and deals graciously.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Have I defined my unique ministry?

As always, this is a work in progress. A few years ago, I worked on my personal mission statement: It is my mission to help believers in their spiritual formation by providing opportunities for the theological and experiential knowledge of God. Granted, as I look at this now, it’s a bit vague. The book I mentioned in an earlier blog has opened some new paths for thought. The author says that each believer has a ministry that is related to that believer’s unique spirituality. I have only the vaguest idea what he means, but I think he’s right. I guess the question right now is, what is my unique spirituality? Having never thought about it that way, I haven’t a clue.
Do I have a quiet centre to my life?

I thought I did, but I think busyness has taught me that my quiet center was not nearly as substantial as I thought. About a week ago I finished reading Spiritual formation for pastors: feeding the fire within [by Michael Gemignani]. It talks about how pastors (or pastor-types, like those of us unordained and unpaid) must have a rule of life—a regular spiritual practice that will be a sort of North Star when ministry gets heavy. By the time I finished the book, I realized that not only did I not have a ‘rule of life’, but I also had started exchanging seminary homework and lesson preparation for intimate time with God. In fact, I have begun using the ‘but I don’t have time’ excuse. Hmmm. Time for Starbucks, but no time for the lover of my soul. Something’s outta whack. Now that I’m rushing headlong for finals week—where the stress only gets worse—where is the quiet space of simply being with God? How do we balance the knowing and doing? When intellect or ministry, is such a daily part of life, how does it transform into being? I think the biggest temptation for me is allowing the knowing and doing to be the end rather than the means to the end. Loving, intimate relationship with God is the end. Now, go and write that 500 times on the chalkboard! Maybe then we’ll get it.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Am I generous?

All right. Here’s another ouch.

American Heritage Dictionary

1. Liberal in giving or sharing. See synonyms at liberal. 2. Characterized by nobility and forbearance in thought or behavior; magnanimous. 3. Marked by abundance; ample: a generous slice of cake. 4. Having a rich bouquet and flavor: a generous wine. 5. Obsolete Of noble lineage.
ETYMOLOGY: French genereux, of noble birth, magnanimous, from Latin gener sus, from genus, gener-, birth. See gen - in Appendix I [Also gen-. To give birth, beget; with derivatives referring to aspects and results of procreation and to familial and tribal groups.]

Well, that’s a brain-full.

Liberal in giving or sharing
Characterized by nobility and forbearance in thought or behavior
Marked by abundance; ample
Having a rich bouquet and flavor
Of noble lineage

Wow! Who knew generosity was so big (punny…)! Generosity of stuff. Generosity of self. Of character. Of grace. Of life.

All I can say is that I intend to be generous. Now to get feet on this thing and be intentionally generous.

Monday, December 09, 2002

Well, it's Christmas party week at Biola, and I'm leaving for my first one in a half hour, so I'll be blogging tomorrow. Harsh, eh?

Friday, December 06, 2002

Does my family and friends recognize the authenticity of my spirituality?

I thinking that when I say, “I have no idea,” that’s a bad thing, right? Apparently the ‘spiritual friendship’ factor is missing…

You know, it's a real bummer when one day you wax theological, and the next day a question hits you square in the eyes.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

Am I becoming less religious and more spiritual?

First, let’s define terms—courtesy of the American Heritage Dictionary:

Religious: 1. Having or showing belief in and reverence for God or a deity. 2. Of, concerned with, or teaching religion: a religious text. 3. Extremely scrupulous or conscientious: religious devotion to duty.

Spiritual: 1. Of, relating to, consisting of, or having the nature of spirit; not tangible or material. 2. Of, concerned with, or affecting the soul. 3. Of, from, or relating to God; deific. 4. Of or belonging to a church or religion; sacred. 5. Relating to or having the nature of spirits or a spirit; supernatural.

First of all, having read the definitions, I reject the question. The question assumes that being religious is bad. I disagree. Religion is a culturally based means of expressing “belief in and reverence for God.” And that’s not bad. Being religious places us in community. It makes us members of a historical people. It puts us in a larger context.

When is ‘being religious’ a bad thing? When being religious, rather than a passionate relationship with God, becomes the goal. When being religious becomes the end rather than a journey to and with God.

Being religious is something we do. It involves age-old practices and new ones. It changes across time and culture. Its goodness, though, is determined, not by strength of history, but by rightness of object. If the object is anything but God, toss that religion in the dumper.

So, am I becoming less religious? Gosh, I hope not!

If being religious is what humans do, then being spiritual is what we are. We are both material and immaterial. This part of the question fails because it assumes that spiritual is better than material. This assumption is Gnostic, and it is a heresy. A better question would ask about balance and integration. Does what I do with body and soul match who I am before God.

So am I more spiritual? I’m sorry. I don’t understand the question.

In the introduction to his A TREATISE CONCERNING RELIGIOUS AFFECTIONS, Jonathan Edwards asks some important questions: What are the distinguishing qualifications of those that are in favor with God, and entitled to his eternal rewards? Or, which comes to the same thing, What is the nature of true religion? And wherein do lie the distinguishing notes of that virtue and holiness that is acceptable in the sight of God?

It seems to me that these questions hit closer to the real issue.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Am I content with who I am becoming?

Sort of. A few months ago I began to realize that school was taking up too much soul space. School is good and for the next ten years will be a major part of my life, but I must remember why I’m here. I am going to seminary because God has called me to pastor his people—‘pastor’ and ‘people’ being the key terms. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, ‘to pastor’ is ‘to feed’. Feeding people is giving them what they need to be who they are—humans, made in the image of Yahweh and redeemed by Christ. It’s more than ‘bible knowledge’; it’s God knowledge. The kind of knowledge possessed by couples that have been lovingly married for fifty years. ‘People’—well, that one’s obvious: people, humans, one by one, in community, etc. Too often I get stuck in the process of study and forget the purpose of God’s truth: to stir up passion—lived out passion—visible passion—for God, God’s people, and God’s stuff.

Back to the question… I guess I am content, because ‘becoming’ is a long-term thing, not a goal. It is a journey, not an arrival. My thinking over the past few months has been one of those three-degree course corrections. You know, the kind of change that, if done early enough, means you sail to the Bahamas instead of Greenland. Personally (and nothing against Greenland), I’d rather make the change early and go to the Bahamas.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

I came across some good thought questions for Advent on emergent downunder

Am I content with who I am becoming?
Am I becoming less religious and more spiritual?
Does my family and friends recognize the authenticity of my spirituality?
Am I generous?
Do I have a quiet centre to my life?
Have I defined my unique ministry?
Is my prayer life improving?
Have I maintained a genuine awe of God?
Is my lifestyle distinctive?
Is my "spiritual feeding" the right diet for me?
Is obedience in small matters built into my reflexes?
Is there enough celebration in my life?

Good blog fodder...

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

So, what’s up with all this wind? Yesterday as I got off the bus and began the walk to campus, I had to squint my eyes to keep out the flying dirt. Even so, after arriving at my office I cleaned bits of mud from each eye. Everywhere you look there are piles of dust and leaves. Truckers are keeping off the highways for fear of ending up on their sides. Tree limbs are ripped off their trunks. All this wind makes me wonder what all Jesus meant in John 3:7-9, where he says that those born of the Spirit are like the wind. Just like we don’t really know where all this wind comes from and where it goes when it leaves, so we don’t really know how God works in salvation—we don’t really know when regeneration takes place. All we can see are the effects—the fruit of the Spirit, shall we say…

Back in Ecclesiastes (11:5), the Preacher says the activity of God is like the path of the wind. So basically it’s like this: despite all I’m learning at Talbot, neither my learned professors nor I will ever fully understand God. Makes it even more amazing that we can know anything at all. Isaiah says that the earth is, in fact full of his glory (6:2-4). There is enough information to condemn those who reject God (Romans 1:18-20); there is also enough information for God’s people to realize their own weakness fall at God’s feet seeking mercy, and respond in eager faith to follow (Isaiah 6:1-8). Here’s the questions I need to ask myself: Do I see? Do I realize my own weakness—really realize it? Do I fall at God’s feet? Do I eagerly respond in faith? Or are my own things clouding my vision?

Back to the wind. True we can’t know exactly where the wind comes from or where it goes. The path of the wind—the path of God—is a mystery. But we have the clues. We have the piles of leaves and dust. We see the branches sway. We see the clouds carried. We see the satellite pictures on the evening news. Let the one with eyes, see what the Spirit is doing.

Friday, November 22, 2002

Discipleship is all about who it's all about. It's not about us. It's about God.

Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave, and follow thee;
Naked, poor, despised, forsaken,
Thou, from hence, my all shalt be:
Perish every fond ambition,
All I've sought, or hoped, or known;
Yet how rich is my condition,
God and heaven are still my own!

Click below to see the other verses:
Disciple, Southern Harmony no. 123, by Wm. Houser

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

So much for best laid plans... well, I was in bed by 5:30 (AM that is)...

Friday, November 15, 2002

Today is the day I do penance for the sin of procrastination. Alright, so I've been in school for what seems like forever; somehow I still underestimate how long it takes me to read. Well, if all goes according to plan--like that's likely--I'll be in bed by 11... bwaa-ha-ha...

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

A few words from Hildegard von Bingen seem to be in order.

Holy Spirit, The Life That Gives Life,
You are the cause of all movement;
You are the breath of all creatures;
You are the salve that purifies our souls;
You are the ointment that heals our wounds;
You are the fire that warms our hearts;
You are the light that guides our feet.
Let all the world praise you.

This week, the 'salve' is needed by many in my world.

Monday, November 11, 2002

Three women have walked on. To use an old phrase, “they have crossed over Jordan.” All three, according to those who knew them best, were ready to move on, to finally see--face to face--the lover of their souls. One even awoke from sleep shortly before death, surprised that she was still here. Each leaves behind friends and family, co-workers and neighbors, who have been changed, touched by the living of a woman of God. The legacy they left behind is impressive. Their steps here were not wasted.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘legacy’ as “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.” It can also mean, “a gift by will especially of money or other personal property.”
So here's a question to ponder:

Which of the following is the best metaphor for your experience of prayer? [from Stress Busters, small group curriculum by Serendipity]
- fast food
- junk food
- leftover lasagna
- all-you-can-eat buffet
- Lean Cuisine
- gourmet meal
- Slim-Fast

I'm still thinking on this one, but so far, sadly enough, I think the best metaphor is 'fast food'--quick and not much nutritional value. Tag your thoughts.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

In Hebrew class today, Dr. Curtis gave us a freebie (basically a bit of biblical exposition given as an aside) on the idea of trust in Isaiah and in life.

- There are two situations where most people will trust another, whether they know them or not: 1) when there is little risk and much to gain; 2) when they are out of options. Most will also trust God in these two situations.
- The problem is that most of life takes place between these two extremes.
- To trust in the "inbetween" you must know the person who is the object of trust.
- In his prophecy, Isaiah asks the question, "Who will you trust?" and he gives two basic types of evidence/knowledge pointing to Yahweh as the only god worthy of trust. First, Yahweh is the creator of everything. Second, Yahweh is able to declare the future. No other god fits the bill. Conclusion? Only Yahweh is worthy of trust.

I may need to add Isaiah to my reading list.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

I had lunch at a Chinese restaurant today. One of my lunch mates received the following message in her fortune cookie: Art is your fate: don’t debate.

I was intrigued.

I typed the phrase in Hotbot and Google , and discovered that other people have gotten the same fortune. One person actually changed her career to art. Weird. I’m not sure why this has struck me so. It’s not like I going to spend a lot of time thinking about this, but still I wonder where the quote comes from. What did it mean to the person who first wrote it? Why is it in a fortune cookie?

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Apparently my blogging brain is down.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

I'm thinking the 'church as tapestry' thing has been overdone, though it is a good metaphor--different thread woven into a whole. On the other hand, the more I think about church as body--with all the biological stuff that brings to mind (being a once upon a time biology major)--the more I think about this, the more think. I know that sounds repetitive, but that's the point. There is so much to the body--interaction, connectedness, nutrition, sensation, fighting infection, resting, working, how when one part hurts or feels pleasure the whole body feels it--that the thinking is endless. Of course, one can overdo a metaphor, but I'm fairly sure the average local church has not even scratched the surface of this one.

Friday, October 25, 2002

i looked out on this body
this body
all of parts
none the same
some thinking it is one huge brain
or hand
or foot
or mouth
not so
it is, we are, his body
all parts
none the same
i saw this body
one spirit
one heart
his heart

back home
seeing another view of this body
all parts
none the same

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Ecumenical extremes:

One extreme: all Ecumenicism is good because it fosters unity.
Another extreme: all Ecumenicism is evil because it fosters doctinal compromise.

I'm thinking truth is somewhere in between.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

The orientation in Green Lake raised a few topics:

Conservative disengagement
Church as tapestry
Identifying non-negotiables
Local congregation involvement in the regional and national life of the denomination

Ponderings will follow…

Saturday, October 19, 2002

Blogging from beautiful Green Lake Conference Center, an American Baptist conference center in Green Lake, WI. Can't blog long--gotta go to breakfast and there's someone waiting. I'm learning more about American Baptists than I even knew existed. God has been here. More later.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Chalupa update: No actual chalupas yet, but I did have some awesome sopes at Mexico 1900 (La Mirada, CA)--from what I gather, sopes are similar to chalupas (shhh, don't tell that fast food place they're selling pita sandwiches and calling them chalupas…). Anyhow, the search continues.

I’m going to Wisconsin tomorrow to attend something called Orientation to American Baptist Life. It’s a training conference for AB seminarians. I’m not sure if I’ll have web access (though I hold out hope). Blog ya later.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Well, Grudem inspired me to read the Song of Songs, so I did. I'm thinking there is more here than meets the eye. Now, it is most certainly a love poem--duh! But since both Old and New Testaments use the marriage relationship as an analogy for believers' relationship with Yahweh... I'm doing some more reading.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

As I read Grudem’s Systematic Theology this morning, I came across a shocking idea. Grudem likens our grieving the Holy Spirit (I Thess. 5:19) to the woman’s slow response to her lover at the door in the Song of Solomon (5:3, 6). For years, I have read the verse in First Thessalonians and have nodded my head in agreement. For the first time, I was stopped in my tracks. Somehow, this analogy struck home. I guess I need to ask myself: If God is the lover of my soul, how did I think he would respond when I considered my own comfort more important than letting him in?

Monday, October 07, 2002

I think I am beginning to realize that Mondays are not good blogging days. Too much to think about? Too much to do? Out of practice? Who knows...

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Another entry from Plough got me to thinking...

I'm still so remote from God that I don't even sense his presence when I pray. Sometimes when I utter God's name, in fact, I feel like sinking into a void. It isn't a frightening or dizzying sensation, it's nothing at all - and that's far more terrible. But prayer is the only remedy for it, and however many devils scurry around inside me, I shall cling to the rope God has thrown me, even if my numb hands can no longer feel it.

God's Rope, Sophie Scholl , Excerpted from Cries from the Heart by Johann Christoph Arnold

If knowing God were merely an intellectual pursuit the above quote would be most pitiable. But knowing God is not merely an intellectual pursuit. Sure, intellect is important—it is, after all, part of God’s creation—but it is not most important. We are dealing with this in the young adult ministry at the church I attend. Two “givens.” One, loving God is something that invades (or should invade) our entire being and given. Two, God has put his people here as just that—his people—a community, not a collection of individuals. Given these truths, what does this sort of love-invaded life look like? How do we as a community—local and global—encourage this sort of love-invaded life? I am beginning to realize that knowing God is a whole lot messier than is commonly thought. I think of incidents like Jacob wrestling the angel; Nicodemas sitting clueless as Jesus explains spiritual reality; Moses terrified before the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob revealed in a burning bush; the people of Israel cowering as Moses enters the deep darkness where God was; Jeremiah weeping as he sees the terrible destruction of Jerusalem; and David mourning the loss of his son--these incidents tell us more about knowing God than we usually care to know.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

A friend of mine wrote something today that is worth thinking about.

Tithing is like the canary in the coal mine. –JS

Now, I know that tithing is not specifically commanded in the New Testament. I know that some folks tend to get legalistic about the whole thing. But my question is this. Could JS be right? Is a failure to tithe a sign that something else is wrong? Is my having to put a reminder in my palm pilot a sign of something deeper?

More on this tomorrow--gotta go run for a bus.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

An entry on What is Christianity? Started me to thinking…

What does it mean to be a people who know God? We toss around the word “know” as if we understand what it means. We say that to “know God” is to have a personal relationship with him. Well, I for one, have a hard enough time having a “personal relationship” with persons I can see, hear, touch, etc. I’m not quite sure how to have a personal relationship with God. I don’t think it means simply to have a trusting relationship with him. The scripture doesn’t seem to allow for something so shallow. The “love” command is found in far too many places in scripture for us to believe such a narrow definition of “know.” The truth is probably hidden in the marriage metaphor (describing God’s relationship with his people Israel) so prevalent in the Old Testament. Saying all this does not release us from having an intellectual knowledge of God. I know of no husband or wife who would be pleased with a spouse who had no idea of the other’s history, priorities, or preferences. But we cannot stop there. Intellectual knowledge is baby stuff compared to relational knowledge. And frankly, relational knowledge takes time. More than a 15 minute “quiet time” offers. (See my 9/20/2002 blog for more thoughts)

Monday, September 30, 2002

I just signed up for the Emergent Convention in San Diego next year. Anyone going?

Thursday, September 26, 2002

Well, it has been a busy day. I am standing on the edge of the data precipice—the Fall reporting period in higher education—the favorite :-) time of the year for an Institutional Researcher… Anyhow, the busyness must be over, cause I gotta go to band practice…

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

I received this in an email from today…

By means of art we are sometimes sent - dimly, briefly - revelations unattainable by reason. Like that little mirror in the fairy tales - look into it, and you will see not yourself but, for a moment, that which passeth understanding, a realm to which no man can ride or fly. And for which the soul begins to ache... [from Through a Glass, Darkly by Alexander Solzhenitsyn Excerpted from Solzhenitsyn by Joseph Pearce.]
Gotta think about this one…
Walking from the Greenline to Starbucks last night I came across an architect. Thin, clear cables that were strung between the branches of a pine tree suspended her as she repaired her gauzy edifice. Her body was black and round, as big as a grape. With her spindly legs, she removed the damaged strands, knitting new ones as she crossed the structure. I stood there, staring, for what seemed a timeless bit of minutes, watching her work on this invisible arrangement of threadlike weaponry. I left amazed at her ability, sorry for the flies, and happy that she and her relatives are usually quite a bit smaller than humans.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

I've been reading Holy the Firm, by Annie Dillard. Came across this quote today:

"Time is eternity's pale interlinear..."

The only response that comes to mind is silence...

Monday, September 23, 2002

Nothing much to say today. I think my brain is too full from the weekend. Maybe tomorrow...

Friday, September 20, 2002

Yesterday Marty Russell spoke about Quiet Times (a term never used in the Bible and a practice which is also apparently missing from Scripture—so where from?). The ‘method’ she suggest, if the term ‘method’ can be applied at all, is abiding (taken from John 15, if you abide in me [Jesus] and my words [scripture] abide in you). Instead of outlining a formula, she suggested three changes: 1) lengthen—spend large chunks of time once a week or so; 2) quiet your soul—spend some time before your time with God dealing with the mundane issues of life (errands etc); 3) avoid wedging time with God between other engagements—allow the time to be open-ended; and 4) experiment with less structure. In our methodized and schedualized world, fitting in a chunk of hours once a week seems impossible. Though anyone who has even one TV show that they watch every week really has no excuse—ouch!

It seems to me that this is another aspect of discipleship as “living with.” It is not only living with other believers, it is also living with God. If we treated our human friends the way we treat God, I fear very few would stick with us. So we must apprentice ourselves to an older believer and we must apprentice ourselves to God. But it is more than this. Our relationship with God is more than learning from him or being blessed by him. It is also loving him. Not the clean tidy love that easily fits into our lives and doesn’t cost us much. It is rather that messy, passion-filled, dangerous love--love that loses itself in the beloved. Love so deep that, sometimes, it hurts.

In one of his holy sonnets, John Donne says it all:

Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town to'another due,
Labor to'admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly'I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me,'untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you'enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

This love is too dangerous...

Thursday, September 19, 2002

At a luncheon today, Marty Russell (wife of Walt mentioned in the 9/13 blog) gave a talk on quiet times. She basically blew up the whole Western idea and replaced it with a biblical one. I blog more on this tomorrow...

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

One of the good things I see happening here at Talbot is a new focus on Spiritual Formation--not as traditional classes and lectures, but as "living with." It's in the beginning stages, but just as an example, in their first semester students participate in a class that basically dredges up their stuff and takes a hard look at life. In the second semester there is a follow-up "class"--a group of fellow students who meet weekly with a professor in a small group/discipleship situation. It's not the only answer to the problem--especially since the majority of pastors who fail do so because of character/spiritual issues, not lack of training--but it seems to be a step in the right direction. There is a need for the academic training in theology and biblical exposition (especially in a day of flexible beliefs), but since ministry is about God and people, seminaries and other training institutions MUST develop some way for students to be discipled—to be shown how to follow Jesus in a "living with" type of relationship with someone who's further down the road.

The main issue I see in these beginning stages is getting students on board. Too often a dedication to intellect--a good thing--becomes all-important--a bad thing--leading to an unbalanced life--a very bad thing. If we are to love God with our whole heart, whole mind, whole soul, and whole strength, then we need balance in ministerial training. If ministers are not trained, how can they train others? Sure, there will be individuals who focus on one thing or another, but all in all, each person must strive to love God with everything they are--beefing up those parts of themselves that are not up to snuff.

On a more mundane note... I'm still in the hunt for real chalupas...

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

On the what is church weblog, Amber Bishop quotes Andrew Murray’s book, Teach Me to Pray.

"Jesus did not teach his disciples how to preach but how to pray. To know how to speak to God is more vital than knowing how to speak to men. It is power with God not man that is of supreme importance."

Why don’t seminaries, like Talbot, teach future ministers more about prayer? Why is it not a required course? I think part of the answer lies in the way Jesus taught his disciples to pray. He did not sit them down on a hillside and lecture on the various methods. He prayed. There is, in fact, a great danger in teaching methods rather than living life with a person who prays. Too many times I have tried to conform to methods—prayer list, ACTS, journaling--but without the passionate interaction between a soul and God lived out in front of me, praying became a duty, done with closed eyes and clenched hands.

A quote from a recently read book (which title I cannot remember) started me thinking: "Pray as you can; don't pray as you can't." In my struggle with traditional Protestant methods, this quote was like a breath of fresh air--I no longer even attempt such things as prayer lists. I'm still struggling to learn--and as good as Hebrew I and Theology III are, they do not teach me how to pray "deeply, passionately, and with total dependency" on Jesus. I join the prayer--Jesus teach us to pray.

Monday, September 16, 2002

So sad... no chalupas yet :-( As a matter of fact, Taco Bell has done such a fine job at brainwashing America, that few people even know what one is. This may become a cause!

Friday, September 13, 2002

Still hunting the wild chalupa...

The Friday Five

1. What was/is your favorite subject in school? Why?
My favorite subject in school (now at Talbot School of Theology) is exegesis/hermeneutics. I have found that I like and am good at Bible study. I also have found that I know a lot less and am way less skilled than I first thought. The more I learn about this stuff, the more I know I don’t know.

2. Who was your favorite teacher? Why?
Favorite teacher of all time is Dr. Bill Lawrence—now in heaven at the feet of Jesus. He was my pastor for over ten years. He taught me to love the Word, to stand up for truth no matter the cost, and to strive to be real.

Current favorite is Walt Russell. I had him last year for Exegesis in Acts and the Epistles. Best thing about Dr. Russell—it’s a toss-up between his hilarious wit and his absolute passion for God and God’s Word. You can check out some of what he has to say in an interview on the Biola University website. Also, if you want to know more about studying the bible, check out his book, an Playing with Fire.

I’m not sure if I have a favorite teacher from childhood. Probably, my fifth grade teacher—whose name I can’t remember. I liked him because instead of playing the Autoharp (a cool instrument when played well, but played poorly by many elementary teachers in the late 60s and early 70s when I was under their tutelage), he played the ukulele—it could be that he influenced my choice to play the guitar later… who knows?

3. What is your favorite memory of school?
Can’t really choose. Here are a few: Listening to Jesus Christ Superstar in Miss Smith’s sixth grade class. Performing for the first time in String Orchestra at Carnegie Junior High School. Dissecting stuff in all those biology classes. Hearing live spoken poetry in Literature and Composition at Los Angeles Harbor College. Best so far: walking across the stage at Biola to receive my BS in Spring 1998 (only downside to the day was the incredibly short commencement speech, but I really have to let go of my bitterness, so I won’t mention it here).

4. What was your favorite recess game?
My favorite recess game was hanging out—something frowned upon by the teachers…

5. What did you hate most about school?
Hands down—being forced to play dodge ball and kickball then being made fun of when I did not do well.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

No chalupas yet...

Today in Hebrew class, we talked about chesed--God's relentless refusal to turn his back on his wayward people. The OT says things like God's chesed is everywhere in creation, his chesed prevails over us, and his chesed is new every morning. I wonder how my perspective of the world would change if I started looking for God's chesed everywhere, if I lived my life as if God's chesed had prevailed over me, and as if God's chesed were new every morning. Would I complain as much? Would I get mad at long Cafe lines? (Which, by the way, are absolutely out of hand at Biola right now--here's to hoping that some people will get tired of the Cafe... or that we'll finally get more space in there.) Would I get annoyed when some driver is more concerned with talking on their cell phone than they are with the fact that I am in the crosswalk? I'm sure some responses would change; others may just exist in a new interpretation of the world where I finally realize that I am not the center of my life.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

OK, so here's a question that came to mind during a campus BBS discussion on the true nature of a chalupa (which, by the way, is nothing like the pita sandwich they sell at Taco Bell): Is it ok for companies like Taco Bell to shortchange a culture? I mean they do it to chalupas and Weinerschnitzel does it to weinerschnitzels. Somewhere out there someone has got to stand up for real food!

For myself, I am going on a search for real chalupas... anyone know where to get one in SoCal?

Here's the definition courtesy of Food Network:
Definition: [chah-LOO-pah] Spanish for "boat" or "launch," a chalupa is a corn tortilla dough formed into a small boat shape and fried until crisp. It's then usually filled with shredded beef, pork or chicken, vegetables, cheese or a combination of these, and served as an appetizer.

So begins the hunt...

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Alright, so this is inconsiderate-worker-syndrome at it's best, eh? Roadworkers in England painted OVER a badger while striping the side of the road.
Check out the article in The Sun. Or see the foto on my pix page.
"Power corrupts, but absolute power is really cool."
- Ex-Secretary of the Navy John Lehman

Came across this quote the other day and decided it was a keeper. Says a lot about the human condition.

Friday, September 06, 2002

The Friday Five

1. What is your biggest pet peeve? Why?
Boy. Tough to choose. Right now my biggest pet peeve is refusal of some people to share space with the rest of us. Whether it's sonic space (making irritating noises for no good reason; playing your music so loud thru the headphones that the entire train gets to share your joy) or physical space (like people walking side by side on the sidewalk who don't switch to singlefile when another person is approaching from the opposite direction, forcing said opposite direction person to either be totally rude and run into them, or to leave the sidewalk for the grass, etc--ugh!). Why is this a pet peeve? Because not sharing space is rude!

2. What irritating habits do you have?
Me? Irritating habits? Can't think of any off the bat, but if the enetation comments are working on my site, I'm sure folks who know me can come up with a few.

3. Have you tried to change the irritating habits or just let them be?
I guess I only change my own irritating habits when they become so apparent that they start to irritate me. I mean, it I don't know about them...

4. What grosses you out more than anything else? Why?

5. What one thing can you never see yourself doing that other people do?
I gotta think about this one...

Thought about it. In addition to a nearly innumerable list of sins... the thing I will not do... is... add that icky foofoo fake creamer to my awesomely excellent Starbucks Red Eye!

Thursday, September 05, 2002

Maybe it's something in the air--the hot, soggy air. Maybe its the stress of a new semester--the homework, the lack of sleep. Who knows. All I know is this, I have spent the last couple of days irritated. For no apparent reason. Little stuff, like the weight of my bus pass around my neck, the guy clipping his fingernails this morning on the #4, the unannounced change in staff meal points at BU--all of it grated. To top that, even while I am in the midst of being irritated, I know I am being irritated for no reason--hormones maybe??--I find the knowledge of my irritation not only irritating, but of no help whatsoever in releaving the irritation. I gotta tell ya, this can be a real bummer when you're trying to be... oh what's the word?... oh yeah, nice. So what's a person to do when weather and circumstances and one's very body processes conspire against niceness? Being mean does not seem to be a viable option--not exactly in conformity with WWJD. [By the way, if I see one more WWJD bracelet, necklace, book cover, T-shirt, bible...] The problem remains. I'm done venting for today.

On another topic, we sang in Hebrew class today--kinda cool, though most of the students were rather timid. Greek class was never like this.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

In a blogging small group I belong to, we are considering how our church/ministry budgets would change if they were passed through the Obligations of the New Covenant (love God, love people, make disciples). What I wonder is whether our church leadership (me included) would have the guts to make the necessary changes, or would we play it safe and continue on the same track as usual.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Back from College Briefing, but no time to blog. Maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Well, the first day of the Fall semester has come to a close (except for the homework). It's been a good day.
Well, the registration line at Biola is finally over--three days, one chair--and I am back.

Here's today's 'walking into campus' thought: What do we mean when we say, "I care?" If our caring is just a warm, fuzzy feeling, is that really 'caring'? I don't think so. 'Caring' is an action word, not an intention word. It's not about how we might feel about someone or something. If caring isn't seen in behavior, then it's not caring.

So now, I must ask myself: What do I really care about?


Friday, August 23, 2002

At band practice last night, we were discussing what constitutes "good" worship. A couple of analogies were brought up that shed some light on what it means to be (or is that be being?) holy. One analogy is a child's crayon drawing. The parents out there know that even if you have no idea what the picture is, that puppy is going up on the fridge, and anybody who comes in the kitchen is getting a compulsory art tour. Our feeble holiness is like that to God. He knows us, that we are weak, and he puts our feeble holiness up on the fridge 'cause we're his kids. The other analogy was a dog whistle. You know the kind we can't hear, but gets all the dogs yipping. Our works here are like the dog whistle. We can't tell whether they are good or not good, but God knows. So is holiness more about relationship and direction than it is about arrival? I think so.

AND HE WHO DOES NOT TAKE HIS CROSS (that's death, not giving up latte or boba) AND FOLLOW (that's relationship and direction) ME (that's Jesus--the one with whom we have relationship and the one we follow) IS NOT WORTHY OF ME (again, Jesus). (Matthew 10:38 NASB, with notes added)

Water's Edge blog asks the question: What do most churches expect of the people in their communities? Here's an excerpt:

If we are to create true communities of apprentices to Jesus, we MUST be about more than agreeing, attending, politeness, and 'tithing'. I don't think those things are even compelling to people who we identify as 'lost.' We must be about something that is fundamentally different than that which has passed for the Christian life in America. We must take Jesus seriously when he talks about life in the kingdom of God. We must start placing our confidence in him--really--and begin to really do the things he taught and modeled. And it is almost embarrassing to have to say that it is more than what we have accepted for so long in the church.

Sounds like fodder for a ministry rethink...

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Can I just say that the Starzz-Comets (WNBA--that's women's pro basketball, for the uninitiated) game last night was beyond words? Had me on the edge of the couch right up to the last few seconds of the game. And--I know this may be a mean thing to say--but how cool is it that the Starzz won?? Could it be that there is going to be a total changing of the guard? [Realize I say this as a Los Angeles Sparks fan--I'll be stoked if the Sparks win.]
Well, I did a baby-sized centering prayer this morning on the bus. "Baby-sized" is right. For something so simple, this is going go be a lot harder than it looks. [Note: just writing this shows how hard it is to aim at presence over performance:-)]

Friday, August 16, 2002

School is ready to start and the WNBA playoffs have begun. Summer is over :-(

On the other hand, College Briefing (a huge camp at Forest Home in Cali) is just around the corner. WooHoo! Anybody out there gonna go?

Thursday, August 15, 2002

It has begun. I bought my books today... Here's the shocker: the bill is a little over $75! I think that's the cheapest ever. Two weeks from today I start in my first semester of Biblical Hebrew. Scary and exciting.

So much for stretching out the summer... If I'm strong, I'll wait until Monday to start studying :-)

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Well, I gotta say, the Getty Center is cool. Awesome architecture. Lots of variety. Fairly priced food that actually tastes good. Can't beat that! My favorite collection is the impressionists--love those Irises! I left with a cool poster of Christ Entering Brussels and a piece of the stone used in the buildings. If you're in the Los Angeles area, I would recommend a visit. It's a nifty way to get culture, for free!

Today was registration packet stuffing. This is a sure sign that the Fall semester is about to begin. I am putting off buying my books though--trying to stretch out summer.

Started reading Centering Prayer, by M. Basil Pennington, yesterday. I'm nearly half way through. One of the best quotes in the book is from Dom Chapman, "Pray as you can, don't pray as you can't." I'll need to ponder this one.

Monday, August 12, 2002

Nothing much to say today. I've spent the entire day pouring over crosstabs, looking for significance--statistical, not life mission. On the other hand, tomorrow the team here in the Biola University Registrar's Office heads off on a field trip to the Getty Museum. This should be cool (the art, not the weather). Anyhow, I gotta go...

Thursday, August 08, 2002

Hey, check out my little blog's family tree...
This is way cool. We found fossils on the Biola campus. At first, they thought it was a whale, but now the best guess is mastadon or some sort of Ice Age mammal. Check out the pix. Can't wait to see how big this thing is.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

I finished reading a ThM thesis (on Paul's theology of music in worship) this morning, and a question came up. If corporate worship is indeed (as the author concludes after a good exegesis) as much for building up fellow believers as it is for bringing praise to Jesus, how are we as leaders to foster that "building up"--especially in entertain-me-America? Even the design of our 'worship centers' plays to the entertainment mentality--a bunch of seats pointed to the people doing all the work. Now, I realize that it is highly unlikely that my local church (or any other) will go out and drastically redesign the sanctuary, but, barring complete overhaul of the physical plant, what can we do? How do we maintain the balance between order and spontaneity? How do we allow members to participate with one another and still maintain correct theology? Any ideas?

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

This morning as I was walking to the train station, I realized that my mind is already transitioning to school--bummer! Well, maybe I'll read a little Shel Silverstein tomorrow and try to shake out of it. On the other hand, text books go on sale next Monday, so it's not really that far away.

One another note, I did a theology of the New Testament "one anothers" at lunch today. Sometimes truth really bites. Here's the big chunks: accept one another, build one another up, care for one another, greet one another with a holy kiss (gotta see that one at TFB), practice humility towards one another, love one another, be at peace with one another, and serve one another. Makes me wonder what church committee meetings would be like if we really did this. Something to ponder...
Testing the comment link.

Monday, August 05, 2002

I did Elmer Town's spiritual gift survey today. I am a teacher-prophet-shepherd. Hmmm. That sounds kinda familiar :-)

Friday, August 02, 2002

For years I have struggled with traditional "prayer list" style prayer. It has always seemed artificial to me. More than that, continually asking for stuff has seemed out of place. I know God wants us to ask, but I just don't think that's supposed to be the mainstay of our conversation with our Lord. I received an email today, listing humorous wisdom from bumper stickers. One of the bits of wisdom caused a mini-epiphany. "Prayer - Don't give God instructions - just report for duty!" Of course, I knew this already. Somehow, today, I was ready to hear it--though the truth of this will work itself out in knee callouses.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

Back at Biola. My brain hurts. I did not accomplish what I had planned at the workshop, but at least I know what I need to learn and what research questions can be asked.

On another note, I can't believe the Fall semester is just around the corner. I've actually registered already--gotta love WebReg! First semester Hebrew is just around the corner. Cool!

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Back in the computer lab in Powell Library (a really cool building, by the way). I'm waiting for a data merge, so I have a few minutes. We go to I Cugini for dinner tonight--it's an awesome Italian place near 3rd Street in Santa Monica--food, atmosphere, and ocean--cool! I'm gonna go now...

Monday, July 29, 2002

Well, it's the end of a day of data crunching at the CIRP summer workshop at UCLA. I'm getting ready to head off to the meal they're spreading out for us. It's been informative, but eventful. The computer ate the data file I brought. Thankfully, I was paranoid enough to bring the original files, so I'll need to recreate the world in the morning. Gotta go...

Friday, July 26, 2002

Well, I'm getting ready for three days of training at UCLA, learning all about data analysis from the good folks at the Higher Education Resource Institute. Hopefully by the time I return to Biola I'll be able to squeeze a bit more out of that lovely freshman data we collect!

Thursday, July 25, 2002

Took a minute holiday at MadLibs. Here's what popped out:

Laura's Hamlet madlib
To be, or not to run, -- that is the mango;
Whether 'tis nobler in the house to suffer
The slings and cats of aggressive fortune,
Or to take watermelons against a sea of students,
And by carrying end them. To die, -- to hit, --
No more; and by a hit to say we end
The human and the 999 natural shocks
That flesh is researcher to,-- 'tis a belly
willingly to be wish'd. To die, --- to hit,--
To hit! perchance to smash! ay, there's the bottle;
For in that hit of death what lids may come
When we have plopped off this green coil,
Must give us pilot....

Do your own at
I've been reading Walk ...This Way by Tim Woodroof in preparation for a new Sunday School series on the Beatitudes. The more I read, the more I wonder how I can teach this. So far every chapter has stabbed like a knife, causing me to ask myself if I have settled for safe Christianity. I have. Of one thing I am sure. By the end of the series at least one person will be changed--me.

Wednesday, July 24, 2002

I was talking with some friends at lunch today about my Master of Divinity program, and I began to realize just how close I am to finishing. About a year from now, I will need to decide on a topic for my thesis--eek! About two years from now, I will be preparing (if interterm and summer school go well) to complete my final semester. Knowing how quick the past three years have gone, I am excited and a bit scared. By this next spring, I will begin classes for my major emphasis--Christian Education. Just around the corner is the living out of all this stuff, which up until now, has only resided in the form of dreams and plans. It's not that I'm questioning the direction, it's just that I know everything will change. But then, it always does. Things either change and grow, or they change and rot. I'd rather grow.

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

I am experiencing a severe case of empty mind syndrome. I think it's time to go...

Monday, July 22, 2002

I found another list of leader priorities from Pastor's Coach: 1. leadership and vision-casting; 2. communicate the Word of God; 3. develop leaders; 4. develop stewardship; and 5. personal evangelism. These refer primarily to senior pastors, but are definitely applicable to leaders in any ministries.

Friday, July 19, 2002

Gotta go catch the bus...
After spending some time this morning reading a article by Hampton Keathley ("A biblical philosophy of ministry"), I'm beginning to see the light. The primary job of the leader is to teach and train the members. Basically, the word, worship, fellowship, and prayer should aim to prepare believers to impact their world. Now to put this into some sort of clear English.

On another note, we're having Experience (an alternative worship event) this Saturday, and I am totally jazzed. No matter how it turns out, it'll be great as long as we keep our souls pointed in the right direction--God-ward.

On another other note, I have had an epiphany--late in coming, but hey--about an eGroup (our own designation) bible study I belong to. We have been using email, but I'm thinking blogging may be a great way to do this. It'd be cool! If you all are reading this, see what I mean?

See ya'll at TFB!

Thursday, July 18, 2002

Today a book (Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, by Donald Whitney) asked me if I was thirsty for God. The first response was, "Of course." Then I wondered, "Am I really thirsty?" The answer remains yes, but I have begun to realize how much living water I'm missing as I fill my soul with "dead" water. Dead water does not quench, it only dulls the thirst--like drinking soda. You think you're ok, but you're on your way to dehydration. I wonder what's next...
Time to revisit the four axes: word, worship, fellowship, and prayer. After some thinking and reading, I'm beginning to see that these primarily build up believers. In the Word (bible), we learn the truth and what to do with it. In worship, we proclaim God's awesomeness to one another. In fellowship, we share ourselves with our fellow believers. In prayer, we call on God, telling him where we've messed up, how much we love him, and what we and our brothers and sister need. Important stuff, but not the whole story. I guess I gotta ponder some more about what believers do Monday through Saturday.

Gotta go home. That's it for now...

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Here's the url for my former scratch blog...
Well, I've switched to blogspot... The philosophy of ministry discussion continues. Here's the question for today: what part of the philosophy helps us deal with impending tragedy? This one's a bit heavy for off the cuff, so I gotta ponder...