Thursday, December 25, 2003


Hey all. Well, it’s another year. School continues. Ministry continues. Life continues. Great stuff has happened and normal stuff has happened—happy stuff and hard stuff.

Schoolwise, I am finally in my third year (fourth by the calendar) in the Master of Divinity program at Talbot School of Theology. I am beginning to see the end and feel its pressures. With only three semesters to go (and a summer session or two), the next step seems extremely close and decisions need to be made—decisions about the next steps, educationally and vocationally. While the long-range goal of seminary professor remains, some of my experiences this year have brought to mind other possibilities. I have seen a great need for theological thinkers and writers, especially in the Christian response to our postmodern culture. Where this will lead, I have no idea. Hopefully, the next year will help clear up confusion.

So, anyhow, I’m finally nearing the end of my program. One benefit is finally being able to concentrate on my major: Christian Education. I knew it was a complicated subject, but the reality of this struck during the fall semester. Theology, philosophy, educational psychology, spiritual formation, social learning, experiential learning... the list goes on. There is so much to learn that it has felt overwhelming at times. But it is well worth it. Teaching is serious business.

The Christian Education classes could not have come at a better time. Not long before the fall semester started, I came to realize that my teaching skills had become stuck—boring even. The last few months of 2003 have been a time of much learning, especially learning the difference between knowing what to do and knowing how to do it. There is often a disconnect between theory and practice—a disconnect that must be remedied. So the learning continues, assisted by professors at Talbot and students at Torrance First Baptist. In all of it, I remind myself that life is a journey—a journey that can take us places we did not plan to go and can take more time than we ever expected. It is often a longer journey than others expect as well and sometimes that can be difficult.

2003 has been a great year for ministry. The TFB college group was blessed again with an amazing batch of freshmen. I thank God for the young men and women in the college group. Their passion for life and their care for one another encourage me all the time. It's been a fun year of surfing tangents in search of God's project.

I am also blessed to work at a great place: Biola University. Five years ago this past summer, God opened the door and thankfully, I entered. This year, when Biola clarified its mission, vision, and values, I was reminded again of the possibilities for impact in this place. Three key words summarize the mission-vision-values: truth, transformation, and testimony. Truth—God’s truth in scripture and God's truth in all of creation—is the content. Transformation—becoming more and more like Jesus—is the means. Testimony—a life that communicates God and God's stuff—is the intended result. To work at such a place—with such a vision—is an honor. Biola has declared it’s participation in the story of God. I am thankful to be a part of that story.

At Christmas, we celebrate part of the story of God. Often, though, our view of this story is too small, relegated to an infant in a manger. The real story is bigger. The real story of Christmas begins before there was anything—before anything at all. In the timeless, glorious, God-filled brightness of heaven, God the Son lived in loving, timeless relationship with the Father and the Spirit. God, the three-in-one, had need of nothing; he was—and is—complete and satisfied. Nevertheless, he created the everything. He created the animals and plants and stuff of earth. He created human beings to bear his image and do his work on earth. When humanity rebelled against his loving rule and separated itself from him, he put his plan into action. When the time was right the Father sent the Son; this Son who is God, became human, starting life as a zygote in the womb of a young woman named Mary. Funny place for the creator, but there he was.

This human (though still completely God)—Jesus by name—grew up just like any kid. He grew to be a man. Just like any man, he became hungry and tired, and sometimes he smelled bad. He was a guy—100%. At the same exact time, he was God—100%. Confusing, but true. Not only did Jesus become a human, he became a servant. He lived his life caring for others. He lived his life in complete, willing obedience to his Father. He obeyed even to the point of giving up his life—willingly, lovingly sacrificing his life to do for humanity what it could not do for itself and live. He gave his life as payment for humanity’s rebellion. He was killed by crucifixion—a method of death designed to cause the greatest amount of suffering possible. He did this by choice. He was buried—dead. Third day, the amazing thing happened—he raised himself—his Father raised him—from death to life.

Because of his humble obedience, because he gave himself fully, the Father raised him up—not only to life, but to the highest place, with the highest name. When time is over, every creature—heaven's creatures, earth's creatures, and hell's creatures—will admit, willingly or not, that Jesus is the One with the Name. They will bow to the ground and say, "Jesus is Lord." This story—when we really believe it—changes how we live. The only question is how much do we believe it?

I thank God for what he taught me this year. It hasn't always been comfortable or easy. In fact, it's been tough. I’m learning how to become what he has called me to be. I'm learning that wisdom is slippery stuff—the moment you think you've got it handled, it slips between your fingers like lime jello. I'm learning that holiness is more about direction than it is about destination. I'm learning that we can only be the church together; there is no church without "us" because we are the church. Finally, I'm learning more than ever that life is a journey. It's a journey where knowing where you're going—Jesus—leaves you free to travel no matter how long it takes or where the path leads. It does matter that at every step you live the journey; that at every step to live where you are. Life is about the already and not yet—heaven as our direction and as our destination. Lots of lessons. Lots more to learn.

I also thank God for the challenges. Some of the things I thought were so secure were snatched out from under me. It was no fun, but it was necessary. Growth doesn't happen when we think everything is OK.

For 2004, I pray that God gives me the grace to develop wisdom, to think reflectively about what I believe and figure out how I should live and make wise choices. One important choice is what to do next in my education. I pray that God helps me continue to develop diligence—diligence in both doing and resting. Finally, I pray that God continues to teach me to be creative and to learn the skills to share this creativity with others.

I pray your 2004 be filled with God, relationship, and learning.

Sunday, December 21, 2003


Admittedly, 6 am was too early to start out. I mean, the work didn’t begin until 9. But is was my first time and I was unsure of distances. So, there I was, 6 am, waiting for a bus. By 6:30, I was ordering my morning vente blackeye, handing the Starbucks card over with one hand, while holding a jalapeno bagel (toasted with butter) in the other hand. It was an odd way to start the day, given the task. Around 7:30 I headed for the Douglas Greenline station. Just twenty minutes later, I was tramping down the steps at Rosa Parks station. The Blueline train was packed, but I lucked out and found a seat. Glancing up at the map, I saw Slauson was the stop before Vernon. I’d be there early, but I figured they could put me to work.

When the train arrived at Vernon station, I headed north up Long Beach Ave toward 41st. Just a few feet into the trek I realized my destination was on the opposite side of the tracks. Bummer. No problem. I kept walking. The building was a warehouse in a low to lower-middle income neighborhood—a mixed bag, for sure. The warehouse was the smaller than I thought, but the two semis parked out front told me that they meant business. On the front was the logo-style name: Los Angeles Food Bank . As I approached the Food Bank, I saw the security guard in the small parking lot. She greeted me cheerfully and led me up the stairs to the work area. We entered a large room, filled with pallets of canned and boxed food. Ten people were already at work preparing the packs for the volunteers that would arrive at 9. They put a box of Corn Flakes in a large plastic handle bag, then placed two bags in each red bin. The bins were labeled "#6"--this is the packet we were preparing today. #6 includes stuff like canned meat, cereal, canned vegetables, dry milk, canned milk, dry beans, and peanut butter. I was put to work unstacking the empty bins so the others could place the cereal in them. We worked furiously for about 30 minutes, prepping 673 bins.

When the others arrived at 9 am, Tony came and gave us our instructions. Teams of four to five people were assigned to each product. Some unsealed the boxes, others placed the cans or boxes into the bags in the red bins. An additional four were assigned to the cleanup team. This was my team. Out tasks were to breakdown the corrugated boxes and place them in a large box and to pick up any trash. The basic task was to keep the place safe and clean in order to prevent injury. Once the assembly line got going, it was a sight to see. In two hours we had packed and palleted all 673 red bins. Tony then had a group of people prep 152 more bins--this time canned peas instead of canned corn. We started up the line again around 10:40 and finished all the bins by 11:30.

These 825 food packs are delivered to 35 senior citizen homes throughout Los Angeles, providing basic nutrition to seniors on fixed incomes. What amazed me most is how such a small effort (we were only there about four hours) could do so much. Each pack supplies a month of basic food. Pretty amazing.

After taking a few pictures (to be uploaded later at Laurasmind: The Fotolog), I headed for Vernon station and lunch. I realized a few things at the LA Food Bank. First, it doesn't actually take that much time and effort to make a difference. It was only four hours. Second, it wasn't the "life-changing event" I expected. It was basic. It was good, but not some panacea--not some instant cure-all. It was good, basic physical labor aimed at a good cause--feeding people. Third, I can do this--even when I have homework to do. I was back near home by 12:30. The excuses are gone, and I gave myself a fairly cool Christmas present. Not bad for a half days work.

I'll definitely go again. You can join me. Sign up online at Volunteermatch. By the way, Volunteermatch has information on volunteer opportunities in many cities. Decide to do something, and then do it. If you're doing something already, share a story.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Well, I'm off for two weeks and a day. Blogging will be infrequent, since the home computer only has dial-up, and frankly, I'll be out playing or lounging or cleaning or reading or eating or what ever I want!! Later...
Panda Central - Meet Mei Sheng

San Diego's baby panda has a name! He's really cute... er... handsome...

Thursday, December 18, 2003

I finally posted a couple pictures on the Fotolog, for those of you who follow such things. There's some SoCal fall color and a nifty picture of a candle from TFB's choir thingy Sunday night (makes a nice ppt background).

Michael Jackson Formally Charged With Molestation

I make no claims to knowing whether he did it or not, but I gotta say, just one look at that sad face (and I do mean sad as in weeping, not sad as in ugly), and I gotta wonder what else he would do to sooth his wounded soul. He is a sad, sad man, but if he did it, prison is too good! If not, I say hide out for a decade, get your face fixed, and learn to be a man.

Monday, December 15, 2003

...still sick...

...back to work... today...

yippee... it really will be fun, but a nap sounds better

Sunday, December 14, 2003

...still sick...

...still writing...

...almost done...


Tuesday, December 09, 2003


Spent another 9 hours or so yesterday and ended up with a 29 page rough draft. Not bad. Now, before Friday AM, I must edit this puppy, write five 2-pagers (three of which are basically done), and format the whole thing Turabian style. Good thing I love school!

Bad news is I'M GETTING A COLD... sorry for yelling, but I vehemently dislike being sick! My nose hurts. My cheeks hurt. My throat feels funny. And there's not much hope for good sleep...
New P.O.D. album rejected by Christian bookstores

I'll admit, I don't currently own any P.O.D. albums, but I may go buy this one just to support good cover art. According to the mtv article, the album cover...

depicts a naked woman with butterfly wings, her arms crossed over her breasts and a banner with the word "Sanctus" (a Latin word for the sung part of the preface in Mass) across her nether region.

Before you get your panties in a bunch, it's basically a painting--medieval style--of a woman, not a photo or anything. Seems quite tasteful and beautiful to me.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Well, the Friday night writing extravaganza just didn't happen. Apparently the old brain/body complex needed sleep more than study. I did spend about 10 hours on Saturday, though--and got a ton done. Still more to do though, so tomorrow will be a vacation day--a homework vacation day.

Writing this paper is making me think a lot--this is a good thing... my profs would be proud! The more I look at the biblical portrayal of church, the more I realize how far we are. I'm seeing that much of what we do is cultural, but we have made it "scriptural." Our view of the right way to do things--the godly way to do things--shows we have more in common with the Pharisees and Sadducees than we care to admit. Shame on us.

Now I'm not saying real church doesn't happen. It happens all the time. But the opposite happens too. We think we are a church, but our programs and our stuff is the focus, and God gets lost in the details. Our preferred "worship style" or "preaching style" or "communion style" or whatever becomes the RIGHT way, when in fact, the very act of focusing on ourselves is the absolute WRONG way. Not that contextualization isn't important. In fact it's crucial. But we don't really do contextualization--God forbid we should translate God's truth into the language of the people--whatever that language is.

There are some constants in the definition of church. So far, though, it is a very small list: gathering, baptizing, preaching, and just enough structure to obey the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Everything else seems to be frosting.

Nuff for now.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Well, tonight is the Biola University Faculty-Staff Christmas party--yippee!! Free food. Good folks. Hopefully fun (there have been a few snore shows, but they're getting a lot better at this "fun" thing.

On another note, when I get home tonight I will have the dubious pleasure of writing for the next sixteen hours or so. I know. It's nuts. But I really do write well this way... and at least it's a Friday night/Saturday day (a definite improvement over past bouts of writing). Tonight/tomorrow I'm writing a 30ish paper on Ecclesiology, specifically, what is the biblical definition of church and what are it's identifying characteristics. Fun. Work, but fun.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

This is a plug.

Even though punk isn't my cup of tea, Jon Gilbert, the drummer for The Black Tie Suicides, is a friend and one of the college students to whom I minister. Their band is going on tour beginning December 26, 2003, so check out the tour dates on their site and go out to see the band.

This is amazing! Starts really huge--galaxy sized--then goes incredibly small--quark-sized. Gives you an amazing view of the world.

Molecular Expressions: Science, Optics and You - Powers Of 10: Interactive Java Tutorial

Thanks to Mike Cope for the link.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

This is officially a happy day. Today the prof gave us a one week reprieve on the second largest project currently occupying my plate. ***DANCE OF JOY***
Being a seminary student this article [ - Supreme Court takes on religious education case] caught my eye. Basically Davey received a scholarship based on merit and need, but when the state discovered he was planning to take religion courses at a religious school, they pulled the money. He took it to court.

His lawyer says:

"'It's discrimination, plainly,' says Jay Sekulow, Davey's attorney and chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice in Virginia Beach. 'The Washington program clearly singles out someone who takes religion seriously and says, 'We don't accept that.' '

The ACLU lawyer says:

The state isn't 'preventing other courses of study, including religion,' says Aaron Caplan, a lawyer for the ACLU in Seattle who helped to write a brief supporting the state's position. 'The state's concern is that we're not going to have taxpayer-trained priests, rabbis and imams. That's something that ought to be done with private money.'"

I'm thinking clergy training benefits society. Cannot state money be used to support what benefits the state? Especially when the student WON the award! On the other hand, money is power, and power can lead to control. I know I don't want the state messing with my seminary education. In other words, I'm torn. Glad I'm not on the Supreme Court.

Thanks to Relevant Magazine for the link.

Monday, December 01, 2003

I'm working on a research paper. I'm working on a curriculum project. I'm working on chapter summaries. I'm working on a book evaluation. I'm really busy and kinda stressed.

On the other hand, Winter break is in three weeks. Yeah!

Until then... homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework homework

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Power in the Punch Line -

Andy Stanley's article on preaching is great advice for teaching, too. Given that tonight is college bible study, this reminder may just morph tonight's lesson. He has two points:

Make one point and go deep--don't simply try to fill up 35 minutes.
Know your one point--give the listeners a take home statement, not a thesis statement.

Gosh, I guess he made just one point...

Monday, November 24, 2003


Brad has some good points on proper use of PowerPoint. I especially like his comments about putting scripture on the screen.

I know many people find it helpful, but I find it distracting most of the time--especially when there are lots of fill-ins.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Evangelical Theological Society: Pinnock-Sanders vote results

Given that Pinnock and Sanders were both retained by ETS (Pinnock by 34%, Sanders by less than 5%) I think there will be a couple heavy books on the January reading list:

The Openness of God by Clark Pinnock

The God Who Risks by John Sanders

To balance it off, though, I will probably read something like Holes by Louis Sachar
I had a discussion with a friend the other day about my countercultural belief concerning prayer before meals--I don't really do them, at least not the traditional "bless this food to our bodies" prayers. I prefer to be thankful for the food while I'm eating it, savoring the flavor and aroma and reminding myself and God how great it is that he made things like coffee and green beans and chicken. My friend was concerned, especially in reference to the modeliing value of prayers before meals. Any thoughts?

Friday, November 21, 2003

The Lord of the Rings

My nice roommate bought the Two Towers extended DVD last night!! Now all I need to do is find four hours in which to watch it. I'm thinking I can squeeze it in somewhere... after all, who need sleep!
ETS voted. Pinnock and Sanders remain in the fold. I'm a bit shocked that Sanders survived the vote--and a bit dismayed, speaking as a student (read "non-voting") member of ETS. Thanks to Brad Boydston (NO ETS EXPULSIONS) for the link to the Christianity Today article.


I took the train today. I am happy. Tonight I shall take the train home. I will walk happily to Starbucks and purchase a refreshing cup of hot tea. Then I will walk to Trader Joes and purchase foodstuffs. Life is good.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - Transit Services and Information for Los Angeles County

Pesky Greenline. Still not working. Urgh!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

America's Second Harvest: Give Time: Volunteer Match

Well, I just signed up to help as a CARE Packer for the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank

"Details: JOIN THE FIGHT AGAIST HUNGER ! Play a role in your community and have fun doing it by feeding the hungry of Los Angeles County.

"Skills: Job Duties: Prepare, sort, and pack food for Seniors, Women and Children **Minimum age requirement is 16**"

Anyone care to join me on December 20?

Monday, November 17, 2003


As I walked to the Greenline shuttle this morning, I was pondering what we would do next in College Sunday School. Christmas is coming up, so I've been thinking about the incarnation--seems appropriate--and John 17:3 came to mind:

'This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.'

As I began thinking about how to communicate this deep profundity to the students, God dropped a thought in my head, "What does this passage teach me?" My initial thought was the standard the Christian-life-is-all-about-Jesus response. Then God slammed me with another verse: John 5:39-40.

'You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.'

We all have distractions. One of my worst is the intellectualization. It is all too easy to think that careful study equals feasting on the Word, when it's really snacking. It is all to easy to think that exegesis equals understanding, that the pursuit of understanding is same as the pursuit of Jesus. It really is all about Jesus, but much too often (possibly most often), I have no idea what that really means. So here I am, sitting in the woodshed once again.


Friday, November 14, 2003

In my early twenties, I was a member of a bible study led by a man named Cliff. Cliff was a renaissance man. He knew something about almost everything. He built houses and furniture. He handcrafted Bowie knives. He worked in leather. He loved God. He loved God's Word. He taught us to love God's Word.

One of the ways he taught us to get a handle on concepts was through DIA (Define, Identify, Apply). First, you define the term, understanding its denotation and range of meaning. Next, you discover identifying characteristics of the concept, answering the question, "How will you know it when you see it?" Finally, you apply the concept by answering the question, "How does it look in real life?"

As I walked to campus this morning I decided to begin thinking through my Ecclesiology paper using Cliff's DIA. First step is to define ecclesia. More on that later.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Ten Commandments Judge Removed From Bench

This is sad.
Laura`s Mind: The Fotolog--Pictures of the Compton Flood

I had the 'privilege' of being in the floods last night on the way home. Thankfully I was in a well-driven MTA 125 bus (thanks to the driver of bus#1052, who did a great job under lots of stress) and didn't get very wet. On the other hand, the pictures show the story--lots of people in those neighborhoods and lots of people driving through the area are going to be doing lots of clean-up in houses, business, and cars.

Oddly, going through the same area this morning, you would never know anything happened--at least not from the outside.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Woman locked husband naked in bathroom for three years

This is wierd.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Girl Scouts in Alaska who trap, skin beavers

Now, if my Girl Scout troop had a trapping option, I probably would have gone on to become a Cadet, instead of dropping out after Juniors. This is SCOUTING!! I'm just glad I had parents who taught me how to slaughter and skin animals for food (gross, I know, but hey, I had mid-western, semi-rural parents--a good thing for a kid who grew up in the sub-urbs of Los Angeles.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Room 209

This is a blog by students in the Chicago Public Schools. The blog is moderated by their teacher, Ms. H. Cool idea.
Colossians 3:16-17 Msg

I'm teaching this passage next Sunday in College class and I just had an idea. What would this Sunday's class look like if we do this passage rather than me teaching it? Hmmmmm

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Given the definition of “regret” as “To remember with a feeling of loss or sorrow; mourn,” what would you say if someone had no regret for their sins because God had worked all their experiences together for good?

Friday, November 07, 2003

Biola--Living Out Testimony

Just one of the reasons I love working at Biola. During the installation of a new power generator, mission happened. In the words of Chris Reyes--the guy in charge of Biola's power plant--“It is a good reminder that we are on the mission field all the time, even in a smelly, hot, old Power Plant.”

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Laura`s Mind: The Fotolog

Finally posted some new pictures on the Fotolog. More next week.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

So, I'm writing a research paper for Ecclesiology. It looks into the essence of church and how that essence might manifest in postmodern culture--whatever that is. Anybody have essential-type questions about church? I'm looking for perspectives...
MTA Contracted Lines in Service

Well, there's good news on the bus strike front--for me at least. The contracted lines that were on strike have gone back to work! This means, no more 2 1/2 hour trip to LA, no more rushing for the "must catch" bus at 6:25 am (yes, AM). This is good.

Now if only the mechanics would get back to work so I could get back to the Greenline.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Well, apparently I've been in blogging limbo this week... who knew? Anyhow, not much happening. Bus strike continues--got a ride to the shuttle (the 626, which takes the I105 carpool lane all the way to Norwalk station--way cool!) this morning though, so I was able to sleep and extra hour--thanks Ann! I've discovered that I really miss Starbucks. I miss my morning Red Eye. I miss the leisurely walk to the Greenline train. Pesky mechanics!! GO TO WORK!!

Monday, October 27, 2003

Getting to Aviation Station

Transit strike update from where I sit... well, the 626 is out as far as getting to work. The only available route to Aviation ends up taking so long that I might as well go to Union Station. Bummer.
Ok, so leaving aside the general who allegedly said that the US army is a Christian Army (see Friday, October 17, 2003 entry below), which story may well be an example of anti-Christian bias in the media--gosh I'm shocked(See Hugh Hewitt's article: Who Is William Arkin?)--anyhow, leaving that aside, it now being uncertain what the general may or may not have said, I still firmly disagree with any notion that America is now or ever was "God's country" or that US forces constitute a Christian army. I'm sorry, but only Israel can claim the status of "chosen nation."

Further, for those who color the war against terrorism with religious tones, STOP IT! True, it is a war against wrong, but it is not and should not be considered a war of Christian against Muslim--even if the terrorists think differently. Jesus told his followers to go into all the world and make disciples. He did not tell us to go conquering, but baptizing and teaching. I'm not saying don't be political. I'm saying let's keep our categories clear. As Christians--from whatever nation--we should stand against evil, whatever its form, but let's not make the actions of our nations equivalent to the actions of the church. The methodologies and purposes of the two are completely different. Let's all remember, we're travelers here--travelers who must make a difference, but travelers nonetheless.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

So, there's this nifty FREE shuttle (#626) running on the 105 freeway during the strike. I actually got to work at 8!! Amazing... Now if I could only find a handy bus/shuttle thingy to Aviation Station to pick up the shuttle to Norwalk. Oh the joys of a transit strike...

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Laura`s Mind: The Fotolog

Just uploaded some freaky self portraits on the fotolog. I took these through the stained glass windows at TFB. There is only the slightest bit of color fixing done in Picture It. I especially like #4. On the other hand, #3 kinda scares me.

BTW, the Los Angeles transit strikes (yes, there's actually two--MTA and First Transit) continue. Oh the joy!

Monday, October 20, 2003

Emergent Convention 2004

I am now an official attendee! Anyone else going?

Friday, October 17, 2003 - General: We're in a 'Spiritual Battle'

Washington - A three-star general active in the search for Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein has told religious audiences that the war on terrorism is a battle between a "Christian army" and Satan, and that Muslims worship an "idol" and not a "real God."
================== [click above link for the rest of the article]

I will make no comments on the war or Islam or etc, but there is no way I would consider our military a "Christian army." The United States cannot be "post-Christian" and have a "Christian army. That makes no sense. It really bugs me when people dredge up--knowingly or not--that manifest destiny, USA as God's country drivel.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Laura`s Mind: The Fotolog

Under the heading of making lemonade out of lemons, here's some of the pictures I took last night on my trip through LA. The bus strike is a bummer, but LA Union Station is really cool.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

OK, so today it got worse. Yesterday, MTA was on strike. I can handle that because my main bus is operated by First Transit. Today, First Transit drivers went out on strike. Now I must take a Torrance bus to downtown LA, catch the Metrolink back down to Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs, then catch the Norwalk bus out to the campus. A minimum two-hour ordeal... URGH!!!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

MTA Drivers on Strike

Well, my life changed this morning! All I can say is thank God--and I do mean thank God--my bus is farmed out to First Transit, so my only inconvenience--other than a long, crowded ride--is not getting my Starbucks
coffee in the morning and not being able grocery shop until the weekend (by the way I am and have been a Trader Joe's
shopper, so, no, I'm not crossing any lines). Still, the whole thing is annoying. On the other hand, I have time to read.

Friday, October 10, 2003 :: Official Blog

Now this is cool! Thanks to Josh Sargent for the link.
the friday five

1. Do you watch sports? If so, which ones?
WNBA basketball and the Olympics

2. What/who are your favorite sports teams and/or favorite athletes?
Los Angeles Sparks; Phoenix Mercury (when Cheryl Miller was the coach... not so much now)

3. Are there any sports you hate?
Everything but basketball and the Olympics, but especially baseball and football

4. Have you ever been to a sports event?
Sparks games; Long Beach Community College football (yuck); Globetrotters

5. Do/did you play any sports (in school or other)? How long did you play?
Me, play sports... now that's funny

Thursday, October 09, 2003

OK, lest everyone think I've gone all lofty...

Last night on the train, I was in a car with three elementary age boys. They decided it would be great fun to run the length of the car. The first time, I let it slide. The second time, they came tearing up the aisle, coming to a stop about ten feet past me. This time I spoke up:

Me: Stop running and sit down.
Biggest boy: Shut up!
Me: No!
Biggest boy:
Me: Besides, I'm on this train too, so I get to say.
Biggest boy: Yes ma'am.
Me: Anyway, you're making the little boy cry.
Biggest boy: Man, why are you crying

Result--they stopped running... and frankly, they were probably told "No" for the first time. It was cool. It was funny.
COLOSSIANS 1:24-29 Msg

"The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, therefore you can look forward to sharing in God's glory. It's that simple. That is the substance of our Message. We preach Christ, warning people not to add to the Message. We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity. To be mature is to be basic. Christ! No more, no less."

What would church be like if our main purpose was to bring each person to maturity--to be like Christ--no more no less? If we taught that maturity flows from the fact of who we are--we are people with Christ already in us? If we broadened our focus to think of ourselves and others as whole persons, not "Church" persons? If we made it a point to share life with each other and worried less about programs and curriculum and events and... and... and...?

Wednesday, October 08, 2003


COL 1:21-23 Msg

As I read this passage this morning, this phrase jumped off the palm pilot screen:

"...Christ brought you over to God's side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence. You don't walk away from a gift like that!"

Our church is working on a new Mission-Vision-Values thingy and last night a small group of collegians and a couple of others (along with two pastors and a deacon chair) talked about the draft. One of the pieces--a small, but important piece--is the "slogan". Right now it says, "Helping people become fully devoted followers of Christ." (I know, sound real familiar--still, I like it). We had some discussion about what it means to be devoted. I think the passage above hits the proverbial nail on the head.

- Christ brought us over to God's side. This means that who we are has changed. Our allegience has changed. Our behavior and attitude has changed (though it is a process this side of heaven).

- Christ put our lives together--we are whole and holy in his presence. It isn't our doing, so we can rest in it. We are whole and holy in his presence, and bit by bit our life here is transformed into what we already are in his presence.

- We just can't walk away from a gift like that--at least no when you really understand it. We may struggle, but if we really understand what it is that God has done for us we just can't walk away.

So, the question is, why is it that so many of us walk away--in our attention, in our thought life, in our treatment of others, in our worship of stuff that's not Jesus?!?

Understanding is more than head knowledge. In fact, I don't think it's head knowledge at all. That may be the starting place, the fodder for contemplation and action, but understanding is something that happens after you've wrestled and struggled and pondered and questioned and doubted and maybe even cried. It's something that I don't think we'll ever finish working on, even in heaven. After all, God is infinite and we're not. There's way more to him than we can even imagine.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Nothing profound today. Too much to do.

Monday, October 06, 2003

On the way to campus this morning, I smelled, then saw, a dead cat squirming with life. No picture of this. I had to avert my eyes for fear of losing my latte--and I don't mean dropping the cup... On the other hand, I took a picture of a flattened bird at the GreenLine Harbor Freeway station. It's actually kinda cool... check it out on the fotolog.
Pre-Lit Stick Tree

I saw one of these at Lowe's yesterday. Now, I'm not into Christmas trees, but even I know this is just wrong! I mean, it's a bunch of sticks, poked into a big stick, and wrapped with white twinkle lights. What ever happened to the sweet smell of fir????

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Scary pictures of the famous Gussy--the cat--on the fotolog. These pix explain why we're really glad he doesn't weigh 40 pounds.

Friday, October 03, 2003


Deposit tissue and seat covers only. [sign over toilet]


Caution: this section moves in curves. [sign in center section of GreenLine train]

NOTE: if you get these, you qualify as a literalist; if you don't get them, sorry.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Laura`s Mind: The Fotolog

If you're interested, I've posted some artsy fotos on the fotolog.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

BBC NEWS | Health | Women lose embryo battle

It amazes me how the decision is based upon the parents "wishes" when frankly, their wish to make a child was made when they made the child. Why is it that a human person (an embryo, yes, but a human person) is put to death because one parent changed their mind after the fact? Amazing!

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Hawthorne Crime Statistics and Crime Data (Hawthorne, CA)

Just another reason to look stern when I'm walking around in my neighborhood. Hawthorne (at least in 2001) was higher than the national average in forcible rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, and vehicle thefts (this one at least is not an issue--I have no car). The good news is that in overall crime stats we're better than the national average. That's cool.

Monday, September 29, 2003

SUNDAY DINNER (you know, the noon meal)

Joe's Crab Shack

Went to Joe's Crab Shack with the YAM students yesterday. I had a Dungeness and Snow Crab combo special. Ate it gloriously with my hands--cracker, bib, and all. Eating crab is very nearly a worship experience (and, yes, I mean the Maker, not the crab). Can't wait to go again.
Art work: Bringing freeway mural back to life

I used to pass this mural on my way to BOLD classes in Inglewood. I am pleased that they are restoring it, but I do wonder where they will put it. There's even a picture of some Biola runners. Fairly cool.

Friday, September 26, 2003

The Long Road Home - Your Spiritual Life

Ann (the one with no blog and no webpage) sent me this link, with a couple of questions attached.

is it right that churches and radio stations still won't play her music?
or is that a permanent consequence of her sinful choices?

First off, it cracks me up that churches and radio stations won't play Sandi Patti, but will play Amy Grant (who is divorced and married to a second husband--which according to scripture, probably is adultery--I add "probably" in order to cover myself. As far as the questions above, churches and radio stations make their choices and they have the right to do so. These choices are morally right, though, only if they are based on moral belief, not on knee-jerk reactions or flavor-of-the-day. There are permanent consequences to her actions, at least one of which is that she will forever be the "adultress." I think she probably needs to make a more public confession and repentance--since the adultery was made public, the divorce is by necessity public, and she is--or was?--a public figure. This article may be a first step. It's good to see that she is in a redemptive community that cares for her soul.

Public sin is a tough call. The fact that CCM is a business, makes it even tougher.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

I was sitting at the bus stop today, when this guy walks up. He is holding a green duffle bag in one hand and a silver boombox in the other. On his back, he hauls a black backpack and cool blues tunes are flowing from the silver boombox. Anyhow, he walks up to the bus bench, stands at the curb, and, facing the three of us who are there waiting, he proceeds to give a three minute, passionate speech, all in time to the blues eminating from the boombox. Only one problem, the speech is given in gibberish. From the way he presented it, I am sure that in his mind, he was imparting an important body of knowledge. None of us spoke gibberish. No communication happened.

There's a lesson in there for teaching.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Daily Meditation

Cool place for daily thoughts
GEN 11:1-9 NASB

We looked at this in Bible Study last night. A couple of questions came up.

First, given that the people of the tower were disobeying God's command to fill the earth, why is filling the earth such a biggie for God? He states this value at the beginning, in Genesis 1. He repeats this value after the flood in Genesis 9. Jesus restates this value in the Great Commission of Matthew 28.

Second, it seems from this incident and from the nature of creation itself, that God values variety and centrifugal community. How do our churches stack up when compared to this value?

Any thoughts?
Bronchitis in full swing... first day back at work, but it's gonna be a short day... I'm already tired.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Coming down with bronchitis... bummer...

Thursday, September 18, 2003

TheOoze - Making Sense of Church

Found the link to this on Wendy Cooper's Blog

Haven't read it (the book or the site) yet cause I gotta go, but it looks good.

Here's the welcome blurb:

Why the Site

In a world of paper and plastic, you read a book, close the cover and quickly move on to something new. If it was really good, you may pass it along to a friend—but sooner or later, it ends up a shelf somewhere.

But what if finishing a book was actually the beginning of a journey—and not the end? What if you were able to keep interacting with the content in fresh new ways? What if new chapters were being written and new ideas constantly coming to the surface?

In a world of hypertext and DSL lines, that experience is possible...

Wednesday, September 17, 2003


'Latte tax' vote looms in Seattle

"The world's caffeine capital is getting itself in a stir as voters are set to decide whether to levy a 10 cent 'luxury' tax on premium coffees served in Seattle."

It may start in Seattle, but just like Starbucks, it'll spread here too!
Any real coffee drinker knows that latte is NOT a luxury.

PROV 23:19-21 Msg

Last night at bible study we talked about how to go about making wise choices--about the criteria involved and the cost of outcomes (we were looking at Genesis 9, where Noah gets drunk, ends up naked in the tent, is seen and tattled on by his son Ham; in the end, Ham's character is shown to be towards godlessness, and the price is to be paid by his son and his descendents).

I'm thinking this passages says it well--"point your life in the right direction." Before we make decisions--before I make decisions--do we consider the outcome? Do we think down the line, through the logical consequences or do we just cater to our own pleasure? Do our decisions point us towards godliness or towards godlessness?

Sometimes--quite often, actually--truth bites!

Tuesday, September 16, 2003


MARK 1:14-20

According to the American Heritage Dictionary (definition 2), the Kingdom of God is "The eternal spiritual sovereignty of God or Christ." In other words, where God is obeyed, God's kingdom exists. It existed in the angels before the worlds were created. It exists in Jesus' followers. It extends in Jesus' followers as they grow in maturity and obey him more fully.

Notice that Jesus did not call his first disciples to salvation; he called them to follow. He called them--he calls us--to the kingdom. He calls us to follow. This is what church is all about. Since Pentecost, circa 33 AD, the church has been the realm where God's kingdom exists on earth. The kingdom, though, is the same kingdom because the King is the same King--God.

What is to be obeyed? Repent--change kingdoms--and believe--know and act on what is known.

There is no opting out of this kingdom-building project. We are either good kingdom builders or bad kingdom builders.

Here's the real question: what does this look like in the programs and policies of the local church?

Friday, September 12, 2003

I thought of a question during the pre-band-rehearsal small group time. If Jesus were to visit in the flesh and asked me out for coffee, would I know how to hang out with God?
JOHN 7:37-44 Msg

"On the final and climactic day of the Feast, Jesus took his stand. He cried out, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says." (He said this in regard to the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were about to receive. The Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.)" (vv 37-39)

This is one of those passages where the imagery is very clear, but the meaning is too big to wrap the brain around. I'm thinking that the experience of having the Spirit gush from you like a river of water would be something you'd know when it happened. I’m not sure what this looks/feels like, but I want it.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

This morning while I was walking to the train, I saw this industrial sized pickup truck parked by the side of the road. In the back were piles and piles of bright orange cones and stantions. The sign on the door said "Alert Barricades" and the two guys in the truck--sporting their bright orange safety vests were fast asleep. Too funny. [If you don't get it, read it again. If you still don't get it, I'm so sorry.]

Speaking of brightness...
I think I did this before, but anyhow, according to my IQ is 133 (downright respectable, eh?) and I am a Visionary Philosopher. Frankly, that’s a lot to live up to!

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Ok, so now I feel better about Blogger. I just signed up for my free thankyou hoodie. [also, there was something in my post that was messing with the publishing of the site, so my bad]. Any how, all is well in Laura's Mind... well, as well as it gets...
Ok, so that's annoying. It works here, but not there. Urgh!
Blogger is not working for one of my sites, so I thought I'd check it out on this one.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

ACTS 5:12-16 Msg

Verse 13 says, "...even though people admired them a lot, outsiders were wary about joining them."

There was something about the early church that made them both attractive and dangerous. The reasons behind these reactions is not readily apparent, but the context does give a clue--the power of the Spirit was at work with visible, undeniable evidence.

When I think of my current church, and other churches of which I have been a part, I do not remember us being so admired or so dangerous. It seems that the church is safe. In fact, we strive to be safe. We are a safe place for unchurched seekers. We are a safe place for unchurched parents to send their children. We are a safe alternative activity for Junior High and Senior High youth. We are a safe place to spend Sunday morning. We are a safe place to hang out on Friday nights.

Theoretical vigor urges me to say, "Let's stop being safe!" But the truth is that I safe and part of me likes being safe. It's good to be safe. Stirring stuff up can get you stepped on. I don't like being stepped on. I prefer to keep the Spirit neatly tucked away where he is safe. None of this bold speech and bold influence. None of that--it's too unsafe. After all, we don't want visitors to actually find "church" when they come to church... do we?

Monday, September 08, 2003

Wired 11.09: PowerPoint Is Evil

Good read, especially since I prepare PowerPoint announcements every week for church. I guess I should start asking how I can prepare the slide show and maintain respect for the audience.
Guardian Unlimited | Life | 'Science cannot provide all the answers'

Great article on science and religion, and on good scientists who also believe in God.
1THES 5:12-24 Msg

Don't suppress the Spirit, and don't stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don't be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what's good. Throw out anything tainted with evil. (vv. 19-22)

A couple of weeks ago, I received a "word from the Master" while having lunch at Ruby's. This "word" came from a group of students who lovingly told me that my teaching was boring and tedious. This was not easy to hear. In fact, it turned my world fairly upside down. You see, I am the type of person who firmly believes what I believe until evidence is provided to the contrary. When I believe something, I go full ahead on the accompanying assumptions. I was of the opinion that I was equipping them. Truth sometimes bites.

Truth bit again while sitting in the tent on Adventure Mountain at Forest Home during College Briefing on Sunday night (8/31). The speaker had been speaking about our inability apart from Jesus. As the band played, I sat down and began to complain that I could not do this college group thing anymore. As soon as the words passed my lips--so to speak--I was hit between the eyes with the truth of the thing. I NEVER could do this thing. I can't do anything apart from Jesus and that's exactly what I had been trying to do. Rather than living in and with him, and ministering out of that relationship, I had been ministering out of my seminary education. Rather than ministering as part of the body of Christ--this portion of which is called "YAM"--I had been ministering out of my own skill--my insufficient, out-of-touch skill.

So, what's next? First, spend more effort on my relationship with Jesus than I do on my seminary education. Seminary is important, but only if it makes me more like Jesus. So far--much to my chagrin--it has produced a 21st century, hermeneutical-exegetical Pharisee--SLAM. Second, spend more effort on ministering WITH the students. This means trusting God's voice through them. This means taking their criticism as a word from God. It also means checking stuff out with the written word, not taking their words--or my own--as gospel.

The road from here is scary and unpredictable. But then it has always been scary and unpredictable, I just wasn't paying attention. It will be a bumpy road. The temptations of seminarian-syndrome are ever present and I will no doubt fall prey. But that's how it is when ministry is held in broken pots. It is not a good thing, but it is the way it is. Let's help each other up.

Sunday, September 07, 2003 PLAYOFFS 2003

Well, the Sparks have tied it up in the Western Conference Finals. One more game to go...

Friday, September 05, 2003


Can I just say... Houston got knocked out BEFORE the conference finals... so sad... NOT!!

Thursday, September 04, 2003


One of the most outstanding things that happened at College Briefing this last weekend was a video of Dr. Lockeridge praying, "My King." I don't even have words to describe the experience. Check out the .pdf, read it aloud--really loud--it's powerful.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

2 COR 13:5-14 Msg

This was the passage for my reading this morning, and once again, it hits a need. Verse 14, "The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you," was especially telling. I'm not sure if, in my life with God, I really understand what this means.

I know about Jesus' amazing grace intellectually, but do I know it experientially? I know about God's extravagant love intellectually, but do I know it experientially? I know about the Spirit's intimate friendship intellectually, but do I know it experientially? Definitely something to chew on.

I have to wonder how different my demeanor would be, how different ministry would be, if I knew these things experientially.
Laura`s Mind: The Fotolog

I couldn't help it. I got my own fotolog. I'll probably put backgrounds there mostly, but today it's my cat.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Bible Gateway : EPH 5:1-20 Msg

I read this passage this morning as part of my hanging out with God. Some of the phrases were especially pointy:
v 2 Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love.
v 6 God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with him.
v 20 Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.

There's more that pricked me, this is sufficient. I realized after reading this, that I really have no idea--at least not experientially--why Paul contrasts being drunk with wine and being filled with the Spirit.
Bible Gateway : 2PET 3:17-18;

So I come back from College Briefing--God did a number on me this weekend--and I discover that this is the passage for Talbot convocation: "...grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ..." and that the topic is 'authentic ministry'--that's the area where God did a number on me. God's pretty sneaky!

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Not really in a blogging mood today, but, being somewhat of an addict, I feel compelled. Random ramblings.

I'm off to College Briefing at Forest Home this Labor Day weekend.
The coffee cart is back at Biola--yippee!!!
I'm hot despite the fans.
I totally zoned and forgot to go to some training this afternoon--good thing it's free, or I'd be busted.
I'm not ready for school.
My lava lamp is cool.
I have no idea what I'm having for dinner.
The WNBA playoffs start today.
I'm hot--as in temperature.

Random question: Anybody out there successfully and guiltlessly quit "quiet times"?

Anyhow, hopefully I'll have nifty spiritual stuff to share on Tuesday. Who knows.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

So, this is the end of Biola University Fall registration. I have ascended from the depths of Metzger back to the upper reaches of the third floor--whoopy doo. At the very least, I am glad to be back by my fans--the kind that blow air, not the cheering ones.

Monday, August 25, 2003

One of the greatest temptations in seminary is focusing so much on the details of scripture that you miss the point. Genesis 6:1-8 is a prime example. Articles and books are written about the identity of the "sons of God" and the "Nephilim", but very little ink is spilled on the point of the passage. The point is not the identity of the Nephilim and whether or not they are the same as in Numbers. The point is not whether the "sons of God" are demons or Sethites. The point is that humanity's intention was evil all the time and God wasn't going to take it any more, and that, in the midst of all this wickedness, Noah found favor. The point is that despite the evil that can be in culture, it is possible to find favor with God.

So what's my point? I need to empower the students to confront me when I spend so much effort on the detail that I miss the point.

What's the point of the passage? A few questions come to mind: What are the intentions of my heart? How much am I being influenced by culture? Where? Where am I standing firm against the evils in the culture? Where am I celebrating the good in the culture? Does God find favor with me?

Sunday, August 24, 2003

I got my ministry mindset adjusted by the students at lunch today. They spoke their mind. I listened. Now let's see how to do this thing...

Friday, August 22, 2003

This morning, I finished reading “A little exercise for young theologians” by Helmut Thielicke. I will admit to never having read Thielicke’s theology, so I have no idea where he stands on stuff. I will say this, the guy has it absolutely RIGHT regarding theological reflection and its attendant dangers and purposes. Here’s a quote:

“Theology can be a coat of mail which crushes us and in which we freeze to death. It can also be—and this is in fact its purpose!—the conscience of the congregation of Christ, its compass and with it all a praise-song of ideas. Which of the two it is depends upon the degree in which listening and praying Christians stand behind this theological business. As a Christian, as a listening and praying Christian, each must fight not to be crushed by theology and thus, instead of being a Christian soldier, becoming a corpse on the battlefield.” [pg. 36]

Thursday, August 21, 2003

According to the Gender Genie, I write like a guy half the time… I have no idea what that means… but I thought I'd put it in here anyhow...
Someone out there who enjoys looking at algorithms should have a look at the genie… Ann, do you like algorithms?


Isaiah 65:1-2 NASB
"I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me;
I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me.
I said, 'Here am I, here am I,'
To a nation which did not call on My name.
I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people,
Who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts,”

how long?
how long have you sought me?
and I, looking
never seeing your outstretched hand
all day
day upon day
you reach
you call
“Here I am.”
while I
set my eyes
my soul
upon another
how long is your patience?
how long will you wait?
how long
before the hoards from the east
drag me away?
how long before my outstretched hands
“Here I am”?

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

We’re studying Genesis 1-11 in YAM Communal Discovery. Last week we looked at chapter three. It occurred to me that humanity’s sin was trying to be something we already were—like God—but rather than resting in God and in our identity as ones made in his image, our Mom and Dad decided to take matters into their own hands. Ever since all of us have struggled to maintain our “omnipotence”—despite the fact that it is an illusion.

Then while reading Too Deep for Words yesterday, I came across a line:

“The illusion of a relative omnipotence, even when not a conscious individual choice, finds us alienated: from God, from one another, from our inner selves—and even from creation, as evidenced in the growing devastation of our environment, violated in so many ways by the effects of that same assumed omnipotence.” (Too Deep for Words, by Thelma Hall, pg 17)

When you really think about it, our assumed omnipotence has caused nothing but havoc—my stuff, my job, my ministry, my class, my students, my plan, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine… does it never end?

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Today, I was offered a TA position by a Talbot prof. I work fulltime, so I could not take it, but how cool is that! The professorship thingy is getting closer…

Monday, August 18, 2003

I don’t know if it’s just “Monday Syndrome” or what, but I just don’t have much to blog about on Mondays. No, wait, I have something today… Every morning I go through a routine. The routine has a particular sequence—mainly because I’m a brainless num-num in the morning, not because I’m organized or anything. Anyhow, I have this routine. This morning I went through my routine. Or so I thought. After getting all my stuff, I headed out the door to catch a bus to the train station. On the way to the train station I stop off at Starbucks for a Tall Redeye, cost: $1.95. Now, I’m a frequent Starbuckian, so I have one of those handy cards in my wallet. I proceed to the cashier to order my beverage, reach in my pants pocket for my wallet to retrieve said card… no wallet. First thought is utter tragedy (not unlike the power outage I mentioned a few weeks ago). Then I realized, I had wisely put change in my pocket! Yippee!! I had exactly $2 in quarters—leaving me a whopping 5¢. Lesson: always put the wallet in the pocket BEFORE picking up keys and cell phone! The routine must be done in sequence!

By the way, some rather attractive yam (as in the tuber) sculptures are posted on the YAM fotolog.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

There are Holy Wind pics over at the yam fotolog.

Thursday, August 14, 2003


It’s time once again for another experiential event at TFB… This is the last in a series of three on the Trinity. The first was in June—Consuming Fire—focusing on God the Father. The second was in July—Living Bread—focusing on the Son. This one—Holy Wind—focuses on the Holy Spirit, seen primarily through the metaphor of wind. This month—for the first time—two YAM students are designing most of the space. It should be cool. As always, it’ll be a multi-sensory, non-linear, God encounter. If you’re in the Los Angeles area and would like to participate, it’ll be at:

Torrance First Baptist
2118 Carson St.
Torrance CA, 90501
August 16, 2003
Space is open from 8 pm to 10 pm PDT

OK, so it’s a plug…

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Don’t know why, but I was thinking about my mom today. I wrote this a while ago. It’s kinda sad; not the usual fare.


Her death, more than her life, has left its print on my soul. I have lived with her death for nearly thirty years. I lived with her only twelve. I try to remember, but the memories are so far and so faded… I remember that, somehow, she was the glue that held us together. When she died, we all began to drift. Occasionally, we have drifted together—a wedding, a graduation, a funeral—but the stuff of our connectedness has been squandered… I remember riding the Santa Fe to Illinois in the summer. Mom would let my brother and me go to the observation car. I remember eating in the dining car. It was special because most of our meals were packed from home in a cooler we kept by our seats… I remember staying with Mom at Grandma’s house in Rockford. My older brother and I would pump water from the well and pick mulberries off the tree. He would climb the tree and I would put the berries in a bucket of freshly pumped water, watching for tiny worms that would float to the top. The berries were good. One time Grandma made apple butter and pickles for our visit. In the field next to her house, rabbit ears would peek from the tall, brown grass. Behind her house was the cement lined creek, its sides slick with green moss, and its waters running with snakes... I remember my Grandma… I remember Mom’s body, lying in the casket at the viewing… I remember the funeral, twelve years old, sitting with the family behind the nearly opaque curtain, hidden from view, weeping, dressed in red… I remember the burial, down the hill from the towering mausoleum, next to the tree… I remember the praying hands decorating the interior of the casket… I remember the elegant dress that draped her corpse… I remember her sunken cheeks, brushed with too much blush…

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

< Mini-Rant >

Have those who denounce The Passion as anti-Semitic actually read the biblical accounts on which the film is purportedly based? The detractors are basing their accusation on the portrayal of Jewish leaders and a Jewish mob as responsible for the decision to crucify Jesus. Um, yea, that is what it says in the well attested ancient document called the New Testament—they were responsible for the HUMAN decision… but go back a bit to the scene in the garden. Jesus prays and weeps to his Father—God, the king of the Universe—to take the cup—the crucifixion—from him. In the end, it is the Father’s will and the Son’s FREE choice that causes the crucifixion. A choice of love. The actions of the mobs and of the Jewish leaders and of the Roman government did not kill Jesus. Jesus gave his life.

Get the facts. Read the book—four reliable accounts are available: The Gospel According to Matthew (a Jew), The Gospel According to Mark (a Jew), the Gospel According to Luke (a Gentile God-fearer), and The Gospel According to John (a Jew). So four people from religious Jewish backgrounds write about the life, death, and resurrection of a religious Jew, and somehow this is anti-Semitic? Huh? I realize the incredible abuses of the past. I have seen the visuals. I understand—at least in my heart—the cry, “Never again.” But realize that those who turn the story of Messiah Jesus into anti-Semitism have distorted the truth of the thing: Jesus gave his life. No one took it—not me, not you, not the Jewish leaders, not the Jerusalem mob, not the Roman government. Free gifts can’t be taken. And a final note to the “Christians” out there who dare to make the Good News anti-anyone: read Romans! Everyone is in the same boat without Messiah!! It’s not about us and them—it’s about Him. He is Messiah, Savior, Creator of everything. He is God and in him the dividing lines disappear (see Galatians 3:28).

< End Mini-Rant >


Once in a while, I get this feeling that I’m in way over my head. I begin to question whether I should be doing this—whatever “this” is—at all. Maybe it’s a brain thing. Maybe it’s a hormone thing. Maybe it’s just self-doubt (not an entirely bad thing). I don’t know. With all my opinions and theoretical pontifications, I still have trouble with the stuff of normal ministerial practice. I’m just not sure if ministerial ‘common sense’ is as intuitive as I assume. Maybe it’s not intuitive at all. Maybe that’s something—some line—I’ve told myself. Maybe my expectations of myself are too high (it has been known to happen). I’ve thought of solutions to this self-informing circle—as if self-developed solutions are the answer to the self-informing circle. Solutions like: join a small group, get a mentor, be a mentor, get more training, etc. These are rational, normal, common solutions to intellectual, ministerial inbreeding. Whether these hold the solution I do not know—much of it depends on someone else’s participation. One thing I do know: Somehow there needs to be a space in my life filled with a diverse groups of fellow Christ-followers, diverse enough to stir up the green-house-grown, self-informing circle I call my mind.

Friday, August 08, 2003

No pontification yet, but here’s a quote to chew on:

“We don’t engage in adversarial relationships with non-Christians. Why should we espouse adversarial relationships with non-Christian religions?”

A is for Abductive, pg. 159

see What I’m Reading for details on the book

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

I decided to take a break from my pontifications today and share a smattering of the links in my “fun stuff” category:

Teletubbies—yes, I actually watch it, and yes, I understand what they are saying. Scary isn’t it?
Anne Geddes—her pictures awe me and crack me up. Amazing what some patience can produce?
CIA World Factbook—a definite info-nerd website. What can I say, I work with statistics—love that data.
Hampsterdance—What can I say… it just cracks me up.
Babylon 5—I loved/love this show… reruns, no problem. They had the fairest representation of religious culture of any Sci-Fi.
TriNet Shake Maps—I live in California. Earthquakes happen. I go here when I’m curious or when I’m paranoid or both.
Name That Candy Bar—found it one day; kept it… kinda cool. One of my favorites is second row from the top, third from the left (at least on my screen--it's the Rolos, ok!).
LA Underground—pics of some stuff they found during the extraordinarily long construction of the MTA Redline.
National Geographic Map Machine—nifty and just plain fun.
Salvador Dali Museum—yes, I do have issues with a certain obsession of his, but some of his paintings are just plain cool.
American Egg Board—I find it funny that eggs have their own website, complete with theme song.
and finally Library of American Broadcasting Soundbites—an amazing collection of radio advertisements, etc.

I may return to pontification tomorrow… we’ll see…

Tuesday, August 05, 2003


“I've never been to a Baptist church, and communion was done in a way I'd never seen before. The ushers passed out to the seated congregants pieces of bread, then the minister and deacon gave the bread to the ushers, and two ushers gave bread to the minister and the deacon. The minister led us in the Lord's Prayer, and then said, "Now, let us eat together." Then the ushers passed out tiny glasses of wine, the deacon said a prayer, and the minister said, "Now, let us drink together." To me, this made the sacrament particularly communal and blessed.” Read the whole report.

I happen to be an American Baptist kid of American Baptist parents and American Baptist grandparents, and have always had ‘wine’ passed out in tiny glasses during communion, but I never thought of it as “particularly communal and blessed.” Interesting the things you learn about your own culture when you see it through someone else’s eyes.


Here’s some bullet points:
- Christianity is necessarily communal.
- Knowing God is intellectual, emotional, volitional, and relational.
- Healthy spirituality involves relationship with a few spiritual friends, with a small group of Christ-followers (around 12), and with the larger corporate body. When someone lacks in any one area, they really are lacking something. God can use them, but they should strive to fill the lack.
- Direction and movement are more important than supposed arrival. Heaven is the only arrival. Everything else is journey.
- Involvement in ministry is part of who we are, but involvement in any one ministry is a privilege, not a right.
- Those in any sort of ministry must meet high standards. God requires much of teachers; so should we.
- God may call individuals as prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers, but these individuals are gifts to the community—the church.
- New Testament elders and deacons are always a plurality. Ministry should be done by a plurality—by a community—not by the Lone Ranger.
- Given the necessity of communal ministry, any one insisting on solo ministry should be confronted and corrected, and finally removed if they do not repent.
- Given the necessity of communal ministry, systems should be put in place to foster community among the ministers. Some examples: Have a quarterly worship-fellowship event for EVERYONE involved in the teaching ministry. Have a quarterly music-fellowship festival for EVERYONE involved in the music ministry.
- Such quarterly events should be an expected part of each ministry. Those who refuse to participate should not be allowed to minister. No one should be grandfathered into the system.

I realize that all of these ideas are seminarian “life in the greenhouse” notions, but I truly believe that they are the direction and the movement that the church must go to be healthy—to be what it is (the people of God, the household of faith, the flock of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the Body of Christ, etc.), rather than being something it is not (a club, an entertainment venue, etc.).

There will, of course, be resistance, but frankly put, we MUST be more concerned with pleasing God than with pleasing other humans.

Monday, August 04, 2003


On the Way
Martin Luther
Life does not consist in piety, but in striving to become devout; not in health, but in becoming healthy—as a whole, not in being, but in becoming. Not passivity, but practice. We have still not arrived, but we shall. It is still not done; it has not happened; yet it has been conceived. It has not yet shone upon all, but it has stirred all. We are not yet at home, but we are on the way.


A passionate discussion with a fellow minister concerning whether people who serve in ministries should be required/encouraged to participate in peer group ministries at the church brought a question to mind: Since we are called to a community of believers, how do we go about being that in the local church and its associated ministries? Should participation in corporate life and in a small group be required for service? I believe the answer is yes. Despite what the American individualism teaches us, being Christian is necessarily being in community. One has no choice. The Sovereign Holy Spirit baptizes believers into the body of Christ, and there they are. The only choice left is will you be who you are or will you be someone else? You are now part of the people of God. You were cut off from the people of God. So, being in community, being an integral part of a fellowship of Christ-followers, is part of what it means to be Christian—part of what it means to be church.

When new students come from a different ministry culture—one where most of the ministry work is done by adult leaders (this is probably normal in HS ministry)—they experience a bit of culture shock when they arrive in YAM. I guess my question is, Is it a good thing that adult leaders do most of the ministry in youth groups? An honest reading of scripture tells me that members of the faith community are ministers. So the question comes up again, though in a different form: Are we allowing students to be who they are or are we encouraging them to be someone else? Will we allow students to be the ministers they are? Or will they be what they are not--ministry-takers? That is the choice.

Spiritual Discussion Groups. This is another outgrowth of that passionate conversation. I had to ask myself, Which is more important? That the students come to MY small group or that they belong to a group that is small enough for spiritual honesty? The answer is obvious: It is more important that they be connected to a group of fellow believers where they can be spiritually honest and grow more like Jesus. Thus the birth of SDGs. It is still in the early stages, but the dream is this. So called ‘adult leaders’ lead SDGs for the SDG leaders. All the student SDGs are then led by these students. The only requirement is that the SDG be a place where spiritual discussion occurs and where following Jesus is the goal. The only thing left is seeing if it will fly. I know it is a good idea.

So, I wake up this morning—late because I’m still exhausted from that 36 hour writing stint—and what do I find? A trail of really tiny black ants marching down the second level stairs and making a beeline to the cat’s food dish. The cat—August—is frantic, pacing, and vigorously meowing his desperation, and, frankly, fear. Yes, I think my cat is afraid of ants. So, my already late morning is now interrupted by the every popular ‘ant removal procedure’. Oh, yippee! The freaky thing is, they were coming out of the stairs—the ones leading to the third floor. This means—joy of joys—that our whole house is now an anthill. The joy of it all!!

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Well, having been properly chastised by my house buddy of, what, thirteen years, I have updated “Who is Laura?”

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Well. I got my Hebrew paper back today. Let me just say that I am very happy! Not only about the grade, but that I really did get it. It's nice to get a verification of the learning.

On another note, my new Gateway laptop arrived the other day. Tonight I attempt the data transfer. Here's hoping for the best.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003


There’s this leadership paradigm—I do, you watch; I do, you help; you do I help; you do, I watch. It came up the other day in the middle of a passionate discussion of ministry philosophy (which discussion is not part of this discussion, but anyway). I work with the college group at TFB. My philosophy is that the youth group should get the students—at least the leader-types—to the point of “I do, you help” phase so that when they move on to college they are ready for the “you do, I help” phase. The problem seems to be that the students either have only reached the “I do, you watch” phase or they are quite content to remain in the “I do, you help” phase. It’s a dilemma (or is that multi-lemma?). What to do?
Hey, I added a "Who is Laura?" thingy, in case you're interested...

Friday, July 25, 2003

Well, I'm in recovery... I still have the nagging feeling that there is homework out there that I forgot to do. I know that's not the case, but the feeling is real. I probably need to read some classic kid's book to hasten my transition.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

So, I just had one of those all-nighter experiences, writing a paper that should have been done days ago... now I know three things about myself. 1) I do not like writing papers with a deadline. 2) I like the research process waaayyyy too much. 3) I have no idea how long anything takes. For this Fall, I'm going to try a solution: plan ahead to do an all-nighter, but do it on a Friday night, so I can sleep in. Yup. I think that's the ticket. If I can only figure out how long it takes to plan ahead.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Continuing the idea of church being a place where ANYONE can come and meet God... In his comment on yesterday’s entry, Russell brought up a good point, “If you will remember, anyone who got a glimpse of GOD in the OT never wanted a second dose. Are we really ready to come into a space before the THRONE OF THE HOLY GOD ALMIGHTY!?” My answer is, no, we’re not ready and yes we are ready. We are not ready because most of what we think we know about God will be cast out and we will be left like Isaiah, crying out and confessing the uncleanness of our lips. No we are not ready because we have indeed created God in our own image. We focus on the NT so much that we forget God is also the one who opened the ground and swallowed people whole, who sent his death angel to wipe out the first born of every household. God is NOT safe, but he is good (to quote CS Lewis).

On the other hand, yes we are ready. It is God’s presence that we long for, in all its terrifying reality and wholly otherness. I did a biblegateway search on “your presence”—just for grins—and came up with 26 entries. The list is worth a look. Bottom line seems to be that the people of God live in God’s presence. Since that seems to be the case, why are we more concerned about church growth, nifty programs, singing the right songs to bring in the crowds, blah, blah, blah?

A look over at tells us that people are hungry for something bigger than they are. We’ve got it, yes?

Monday, July 21, 2003

So, this wasn’t EXACTLY a tragedy, but still… due to a power loss in their building the Starbucks by the train station was CLOSED this morning!!!! And me running on four hours of sleep… Thankfully, there is one on the other end of my morning commute, so all was not lost.

On another note, I been thinking a lot about what church should look like. Over at What Is Church, there is an article (Sacred Order of the Towel) that is doing much to shape my thinking. The current question on my mind is: What would church look like if it were a sacred space where anyone could come and meet God? (it seems to me, this is what church should be, but is not... but then, should we not strive toward it?)

Friday, July 18, 2003

Almost forgot

Wisdom from Will Rogers
Never miss a good chance to shut up.

[courtesy of Mikey's Funnies Web site]

Now to live them...
Only three more short Fridays after this one... how sad... but then again, I get short Fridays (work a half day, get paid full day--I love Biola!)...

Mood: still too tired to tell, but a bit grouchy (watch out ya'll)
Thanking God stuff today: Biola Duplicating Center--they made posters for the YAM worship Experience; short Fridays; in advance for the VBS finale tonight; in advance for the worship Experience tomorrow night

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Well, today was the last class meeting for Exegesis in Genesis. The prof took us all out for lunch--how cool is that?! This was a nifty class--only five students, lots of discussion, and a smart AND spiritual professor... wow! Only down side? The final paper is not due until next Thursday (drop dead due date, though I'm shooting for Tuesday), so even though it's over, it's not over. Still, given I'm exegeting such an awesome passage (Genesis 22, the sacrifice of Abraham--yes 'Abraham'... more on that when I'm done), given that, it's all good. Anyhow, gotta go catch the bus and read source material like mad.

Oh, yea...
Mood: too tired to know
Thanking God stuff today: Dr. Finley of Talbot; my classmates; Logos bible software; friends willing to give me a free teabag when I'm desperate (it was really good Earl Grey!)

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

This past Sunday, the college group did some dreaming (see more on the TFBYAM website). I asked them, “If you could do anything, anywhere, what would you do?”

Here are their answers:

1. to fly like in Matrix and live in the forest
2. to go yachting
3. to go to Scotland and play bagpipes
4. a jewel-encrusted tuba
5. to live in a pretty, warm place with lots of animals
6. to write books about God for a living
7. to play professional tennis
8. to go fishing
9. to go backpacking in the Sierras
10. to be late for work because I had trouble deciding which car to drive
11. to own a Ferrari dealership
12. to be in a coffee bar band
13. to get a PhD
14. cars
15. to live on a floating island
16. to own yankee stadium

Next Sunday, we’re going to start working through the implications, but this week, as I websurfed, I came across something astounding. Notice #15, “to live on a floating island,” well, I discovered that in Peru, there are people who live on floating islands (click here for the National Geographic article). How cool is that? So, now I’m thinking, what would all this look like if we start thinking missionally?

Comments welcome.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Mood: ragged
Thanking God stuff today: Old Testament narratives--pictures of God in full-color; split pea soup; working at a nifty place like Biola (even though it's too darn hot out here!)
Stuff I'm pondering: what's church really supposed to be?

By the way, YAM is sponsoring a "worship experience/prayer space" (sort of our take on a labyrinth) this Saturday (July 19) at Torrance First Baptist Church, 2118 Carson, Torrance, CA 90501 @ 8 pm. If you're in Southern California, you're welcome to come on down.

I am in the midst of an exegetical paper for my Hebrew class. It's sort of like a lab report, only for original language bible study. Right now I am in the lab phase. Mind you, I love exegesis, but summer makes it tough--no time. It's on Genesis 22--the sacrifice of Isaac. I'll probably blog a bit about it when it's all done.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Mood: less pensive
Thanking God stuff today: for Jeff and all his hard work in the YAM room; for chili verde... yum; for nifty students who are starting to dream big.

Friday, July 11, 2003

Mood: still pensive
Thanking God stuff today: good coffee is really good and it is definitely a gift from God; my cat is really cute; bravery when I need it; wisdom when I need it; smarts

nuff said…

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Well, the pensive mood continues. I had to interrupt it for a final in Hebrew Exegesis this morning and for ever so exciting Excel cutting and pasting at work, but it continues nonetheless. This Sunday at the Gathering, we’re going to talk about what the college ministry should look like (“we” being the students and the leaders). It will be interesting to see the results.

Anyhow, I gotta go catch a bus…

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

I’m in one of those pondering moods again. There’s some stuff going on in ministry—rumblings of discontent and/or excitement—and it’s hard to know which is which. If the sound is rumblings, I wonder at the cause. Is it them? Is it me? Is it something else? Is it a mixture of all three? Who knows. I can only deal with me—at least directly. One of my big issues is my own personality. There is a lot about ministry that requires one to be personable—I’m not. It often requires one to be gracious—I’m not. It requires one to be fun-loving—I’m not.

This is not to say that I do not like people—I like people. In fact there are a number of people I like a whole lot and I get along with most—really. I’m just not mushy. Never have been.

This is not to say that I lack grace. I give lots of grace, but apparently not in the format most expect—whatever that means. I think some people—sometimes me—think that being gracious is being nice. It’s not. Graciousness is giving favor. It is treating people as those made in God’s image, yet weakened by sin.

This is not to say that I dislike fun. I like fun. I just don’t want to have to plan it; in fact there are times—maybe most times—when I have the most fun observing the fun of others.

I guess the real question is whether these assumptions—my assuming what is required of me in ministry—whether these assumptions are valid. Frankly, I don’t know. You tell me.

The other issue is that I work with college age. I assume they are adults, while others assume they are youth. I realize some college age are a bit far from living out their new found status, but I see my job as at least nudging them in that direction. That being the case, I assume that the group will be primarily led by students—not by me. I’m there as a sort of short-order cook/trail guide/compass person—frankly, it is quite sufficient a task. The culture, though, expects college ministry to be like high school ministry, where the adult leaders do lots of the work and the students do some of the work. I truly believe it should be just the opposite in college ministry. The students should do most of the work and the “adult” leaders should do some of the work.

So back to the original issue. Since God has presumably gifted the students and the leaders, and since the ministry is a “church” (in the body of Christ sense), is it not likely (not just possible, but likely) that God wants all the ministers—student and leader alike—to BE the ministry? Seems to me the answer is yes. The question is, though, what do I do in the mean time—until the students get their ministry legs. How do I become more like Christ and do the work of ministry even though my personality balks?

Time to ponder…

Monday, July 07, 2003

Well, I sent my first instant message today, thus completing another step in my efforts to become more up-to-date—even if ever so slowly. I won’t post my screen name here, but if you know me—online or in person—feel free to email and ask for it—call me paranoid… oh well.

Yesterday the new freshmen experienced their first “Laura-style” Sunday School lesson (on “Church as Relational Community: body, flock, temple), complete with playdough sculptures (pictures of which are posted on the YAM FotoLog).

I'm thinking of leading the students through Genesis 1-11 in a month or so. Anyone out there have resources?

Thursday, July 03, 2003

I set up a FotoLog for the Young Adult Ministry at TFB. Access the site through the tfbyam home page. Thanks to Wendy Cooper's blog for the heads up on FotoLog.

Friday, June 27, 2003

Todd Hunter asks an excellent question on his blog dated June 27, 2003:

“What does it mean to lead a group of people who are supposed to be following someone else (God)?”
Alright, this is something I really want to discuss. For the past few weeks, there has been a “Christian” group at the Norwalk Greenline station. They sing and hand out tracts—no problem there; in fact, it’s a good idea. Here’s the problem: they are also holding bags for donations. Yes, that’s right--they are evangelizing and asking for money at the same time.

Last night, on the way home from work, it finally got to me and I asked one of them why they were there. The guy immediately answered that they were there to evangelize. When I asked him why they were asking for money, he had a very quick response, quoting verses about being a “cheerful giver…blah, blah, blah.”

Does anyone else have a problem with asking for money while you’re witnessing in an obviously non-church atmosphere?

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

So, Sunday night--6:30 pm--I was sitting on the couch, deciding whether to eat my leftover lunch (pasta with salmon and peas in a garlic cream sauce, courtesy of Gaetano's) for dinner, when I got up, put the styro box in the frig, and went upstairs to bed--at 6:30! I could hardly believe it myself. Slept clear through until 6 the next morning, experiencing that weird sensation of not knowing the day or the time. Given that I slept nearly twelve hours Sunday night, you would have thought I would be awake and cheerful Monday. Wrong! I think I was nearly as tired as Sunday and quite a bit more cranky. I was so cranky that I was annoying myself.

All this got me to thinking about unwarranted crankiness. Is it some quirk of brain chemistry? Ozone imbalance? Hormonal shifts? Demonic attack? I have no idea, but I thought I'd throw it out there.