Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Ok so even I would not buy this!!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

PAUSE in your day...

Since November, a small group of sr. high girls from my youth group have been reading through the Bible daily (Eugene Peterson's Message Remixed in a Year) and meeting together once a week. I have had the honor of being an honorary female and part of the group as we try to nurture it along.

This week I created an online space where not only they can go to get their readings and journal if they choose but it occurred to me that anyone who wants to be a part of an online community reading through the bible and journaling could be a part.

My idea is that as students at HUMC begin to want more in their spiritual life and to engage more with scripture that we start a PAUSE group according to who is ready. PAUSE not only references a pause in one's day to spend with God and God's word, but also the process of
1. Plugging In (reading scripture)
2. Asking yourself and God, "what is this all about?"
3. Using the words of God in your life today
4. Silence and prayer
5. Experiencing: Go out and live it!!

The method is simply a revamping of a journaling technique that is very popular in the TN Conference called the SOAP(y) method. It has been introduced by our Bishop, which he learned about after visiting New Hope Fellowship in Hawaii.

If you are looking for a community to journal with and read through the Bible in a year with- feel free to utilize the PAUSE blog space. I'll be posting my journal entries on their and it really is just there as a gift for anyone who'd like to take advantage of it as a means of grace.

shalom all,

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


My youth small group on "Hot Topics" is discussing Abortion tomorrow night. I have a form in my mind, but not quite the content. Here is the structure that I want to use:

1. Opening Ritual: Setting our baggage aside- participants write on an index card what their baggage from the week is that has them stressed or distracted. We then all place something that we have in our possession into the middle of the circle as a way to say that "we are all in this together" for the next hour.

2. Introducing the Topic: a quick discussion question that is nonthreatening and light but will get people thinking about the issue (this week abortion)

3. Hearing the positions and The Samoan Circle: discussing the issues that revolve around abortion and then split into two dialog groups and come back together in a point/counterpoint way/with emphasis on listening and asking questions.

4. The UM Stance according to the Social Principles

5. Keep and Change circle: what would you keep from the discussion, what would you change?

I could use help and guidance with this- do you have any case studies that would be good "what would you do/advice would you give" scenarios? how have you led hot topic groups with young people or adults?



Tomorrow morning I get to play travelling evangelist at Donelson Christian Academy's chapel services. One for middle schoolers and one for high schoolers. I thought about doing my Benny Hinn routine but I'm still not sure about that one.

I have quite a few students in my youth group who go to DCA and they have been hoping that I'd be invited to speak at some point. This may be the first time a non-baptist has been invited to speak at DCA (it's kind of the rumor that I've been passed) so I can only hope that all goes well.

I'm a bit nervous, in that the students are used to weekly altar calls and getting saved and that's not really my style (at least on a weekly basis).

I asked the spiritual life director if there was anything that I should speak on, or a scripture passage that she'd like for me to focus on. She said whatever God would lay on my heart... Oh great, I guess I have to go beg God for a word now (jus joking). She did say that their theme this year is "Step Up and Step Out" which I think is awesome. So I used that as my prayer words for this week.

Here's what I came up with for tomorrow. Of course since I speak off the top of my head it won't go exactly like I've written it, but I kind of like the direction. Let me know your thoughts.


Apparently no one told this parakeet that there are two new "birds" taking over the crown of internet "video superstar".


The BBC is working on creating a new online world just for children. This world would allow "digitally literate children the access to characters and resources they had come to expect. Users would be able to build an online presence, known as an avatar, then create and share content." (1)

I wonder if this is one of those interesting ideas that those of us in the life of the Church ought to be taking notice of, and seeing how technology can be used to inspire and spark the imagination- and in our cultural context- share the love of Christ.

The article goes on to say, "It will give children a chance to move around a safe, secure world where they can not only interact with familiar characters but have an opportunity to make that world a more fascinating place with their own imaginations."

I wonder if there are congregations who are already using this technology as part of their children's ministry. This is something that I'd be really interested in seeing how it might be utilized in the life of a congregation.


Monday, January 22, 2007


... not to be confused with "I'm thinking about an abortion".... since that would be biologically problematic.

This Wed. night at our youth small group, HOP TOPICS, we have decided to talk about abortion. I came across a great article by Dorothy Butler Bass, whom I have much respect for after reading her book, The Practicing Congregation.

In her article she states that the church really is not in a place to make statements about abortion. The reason for this is that the Church has "given in to slogans and untenable philosophies" and coopted theological reflection for American political ideology.

In thinking through this she went back to some writings by Stanley Hauerwas on abortion (now I really know why I like Diana- she has great theological taste). Here's what she posts on those reflections:

Nowhere, however, is Hauerwas more provocative than in debunking both "pro-life" and "pro-choice" positions. He reminds pro-lifers: "Christians do not believe life is sacred." Indeed, he points out, "Christians took their children with them to martyrdom . . . Christians believe there is much worth dying for. We do not believe that human life is an absolute good in and of itself" (Pope John Paul II also made this point in Evangelium Vitae). As for "pro-choice" advocates, he attacks the idea that abortion is individual and private, arguing instead that Christians must embody "the kind of community" that can "sustain the practice of hospitality to life." Finally, Hauerwas states that abortion is intrinsically linked to Christian sexual ethics: "The church has to make it clear that sexual relations are relations of power." From that perspective, he states that abortion is not primarily a women's issue. Rather, abortion starts with male sexual promiscuity, "nothing but the exercise of reckless power." He claims that until the church clearly addresses male sexuality, which it appears loath to do, Christians will continue to misunderstand the ethical dimensions of abortion and its proper theological context. Male promiscuity, an expression of sexual power, victimizes both women and children.
Wow, once again I and we the church are challenged to think about how we reflect and come to some sort of idea on an issue such abortion. But I agree with Diana, while we are reflecting on this issue, let us not forget to have as our underlying "practice"- "hospitality to the "least of these" or prophetically challenge the disordered "relations of power" that plague our lives, churches, and society."


I am really tired today. I am just in somewhat of a slump. I think it just has to do with how crazy busy things have been lately and the fact that I'm nowhere near the end of that tunnel. This weekend is Warmth In Winter, our conference's major winter youth conference. It's a great event but I always come home absolutely exhausted.

Then we have our ski trip in less than a month and I think we have, at this point a little over 50 youth signed up to go. That's definitely a reason to celebrate but it also means a lot of preparation and paying very close attention to all the details which is not always my strong suite.

Other reasons to celebrate:

1. Last week we kicked off our "Wonderful Wednesdays" with youth. The next couple of months we have small groups going on and over 50 youth signed up in classes. How cool is that?

The groups are:

1. U R N the Video: making a movie with a message. This group is making a short movie (less than 5 minutes) that is to have a unique and inspiring message. That's the only criteria I gave them.

2. Reel to Real: Finding faith in the Chronicles of Narnia

3. Girl's Night Out: Discovering inner and outer beauty: this group of girls take one outer beauty activity a week (this week it's lip gloss) and also one inner beauty character trait (this week it's how we use our words to build others up).

4. Hot Topic: social issues, and our faith: talking about issues such as abortion, homosexuality, racism, the rebel flag, and others in an open way. we're focusing this one on how to talk differences without getting angry and maintaining respect for one another.

Last night we also celebrated an answered prayer. On Sunday nights we've been averaging 60-75 youth. A few weeks back we began separating the jr. high and sr. high, knowing that we did not have enough adult youth leaders. Last night we welcomed two new youth leaders for middle school, the Wolfs, which now means we have 4 youth leaders working with middle school, and 4 youth leaders working with senior high. Yesterday also saw the first meeting of our newly formed youth council, who is very excited about getting to help plan and implement our youth ministry. AND at a parent meeting last night we formed an 8 person parent team/council who's function will be to undergird and help empower the youth council.

So this time a few months ago I was pulling my hair out in frustration wondering how we were going to maintain the number of kids coming to youth group. Now I begin the exciting and challenging adventure of figuring out how to empower and encourage adults to be in ministry with youth. Wow!!! How quickly things can change when you begin to pray.


This is so unfortuanate.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Wow, since writing my post this morning about myspace's developing monitoring software for parents they have been hit with a lawsuit from several families whose teenagers were sexually assaulted by sexual preditors through the use of myspace.

according to the associated press:

"The lawyers who filed the latest lawsuits said the plaintiffs include
a 15-year-old girl from Texas who was lured to a meeting, drugged and assaulted
in 2006 by an adult MySpace user, who is currently serving a 10-year sentence in
Texas after pleading guilty to sexual assault."

Now don't get me wrong here, I think MySpace is accountable to make sure that it's neighborhood streets are safe to walk and hang out. But I'm going to go out on a limb here and offer that the route of lawsuits offers individual justice and a wake up call (or possibly a sign of the end?) for MySpace, it won't make steps towards engaging the problem.

How about churches, families, caring adults, and youth peers creating neighborhood watches, and simply walking the myspace "neighborhoods" and being willing to hang out. Maybe I'm too optimistic but I'm not so sure that the parents and adults who are so quick to crucify myspace when something tragic happens in the community are willing to take the responsibility on themselves to admit that they have not been present in the spaces or places where their kids are.


A funny spoof of apple commercial. I think it speaks to the transition the church is going to need to make to move from the modern church to the more postmodern missional church. For reflections on this transition as it concerns the methodist church check out Restoring Methodism pt. 1 and pt. 2.

BIG BROTHER'S WATCHING MYSPACE, THE PLACE, for online social networking among young people is in the process of developing a free downloadable software that will allow parents to monitor the information their kids give out.

MySpace officials say that this is another layer of helping to protect young people from sexual predators and potential harmful activity. The software is being developed out of the much concern parents have shown with regards to their kid's myspace use. 1

This new monitoring software isn't something that will get me bent out of shape, however I don't necessisarily think this is the answer to how to keep young people "safe" on the web, whether myspace or other online communities.

I will continue to advocate for parents to join myspace and be a presence in the online community or to find more creative and engaging ways to be present in the spaces where their kids are (even if they do so from a distance). For instance, I know that I have a member of my youth group whose mom has a myspace account. Mom does not use myspace nearly the way the teenager does, but mom is there and present, nontheless. And the teenager leaves comments on the mom's myspace, as do friends of the teenager who knows the mom. I think that's a step in the right direction that does not build barriers like monitoring might. Agreed- some students probably need the accountability of monitoring, however it really breaks down community and does not build up relationships.

That's my two sense on the issue for now.



Wanna get noticed by google? Tips to improve your blog's traffic.

h/t : Brajeshwar

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


- Darrell Guder; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (February 1998), p. 4


This looks promising!! I could see using this in my local church as a lay academy of sorts. Now that excites me to no end. I guess I'll be heading to Cokesbury soon.


The Blind Beggar Blog has a great post on asking the right questions... towards becoming missional in practice.

He makes the differentiation between a Missional Church and a Maintainence Church (THIS IS GOOD STUFF!!)

1. In measuring its effectiveness, the maintenance congregation asks, “How many visitors have we attracted?” The missional congregation asks, “How many members have we sent?”

2. When contemplating some form of change, the maintenance congregation says, “If this proves upsetting to any of our members, we won’t do it.” The missional congregation says, “If this will help us bless and touch someone outside of our faith community, we will take the risk and do it.”

3. When thinking about change, the majority of members in a maintenance congregation ask, “How will this affect me?” The majority of members in the missional congregation ask, “Will this help align our activities around the missio dei — the mission of God?”

4. When thinking of its vision for ministry, the maintenance congregation says, “We have to be faithful to our past.” The missional congregation says, “We have to be faithful to our future.”

5. The pastor in the maintenance congregation says to the newcomer, “I’d like to introduce you to some of our members.” In the missional congregation the members say, “We’d like to introduce you to our pastor.”

6. When confronted with a legitimate pastoral concern, the pastor in the maintenance congregation asks, “How can I meet this need?” The pastor in the missional congregation asks, “How can we meet this need?”

7. The maintenance congregation seeks to avoid conflict at any cost (but rarely succeeds). The missional congregation understands that conflict is the price of progress, and is willing to pay the price. It understands that it cannot take everyone with it. This causes some grief, but it does not keep it from doing what needs to be done.

8. The leadership style in the maintenance congregation is primarily managerial, where leaders try to keep everything in order and running smoothly. The leadership style in a missional congregation is primarily transformational, casting a vision of what can be, and marching off the map in order to bring the vision into reality.

9. The maintenance congregation is concerned with their congregation, its organizations and structure, its constitutions and committees. The missional congregation is concerned with the culture, with understanding how secular people think and what makes them tick. It tries to determine their needs and their points of accessibility to the Gospel.

10. When thinking about growth, the maintenance congregations asks, “How many Christians, who aren’t currently members, live within a twenty-minute drive of this church?” The missional congregation asks, “How many unreached people groups live within a twenty-minute drive of this church?”

11. The maintenance congregation looks at the community and asks, “How can we get these people to come to our church?” The missional congregation asks, “How can we go and be engaged with these people?”

12. The maintenance congregation thinks about how to save their congregation. The missional congregation thinks about how to plant new missional communities to extend the Kingdom of God.

if you haven't read my first two posts on restoring united methodism check out:
pt. 1 and pt. 2



Wednesday, January 17

The Morning Office To Be Observed on the Hour or Half Hour Between 6 and 9 a.m.

The Call to Prayer (leader)
But I will call upon God,* and the LORD will deliver me. In the evening, in the morning, and at noonday,* I will complain and lament, He will bring me safely back . . . * God, who is enthroned of old, will hear me . . .
Psalm 55:17ff

The Request for Presence (leader)
Save me, O God, by your Name;* in your might, defend my cause. Hear my prayer, O God;* give ear to the words of my mouth.
Psalm 54:1–2

The Greeting (all together)
I will offer you the sacrifice of thanksgiving* and call upon the Name of the LORD.
Psalm 116:15

The Refrain for the Morning Lessons (all together)
The LORD is near to those who call upon him,* to all who call upon him faithfully.
Psalm 145:19

The Morning Psalm (in rounds)
Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth;*

knit my heart to you that I may fear your Name.

I will thank you, O LORD my God, with all my heart,*

and glorify your Name for evermore.

For great is your love toward me;*

you have delivered me from the nethermost Pit.

The arrogant rise up against me,

O God, and a band of violent men seeks my life;*

they have not set you before their eyes.

But you, O LORD, are gracious and full of compassion,*

slow to anger, and full of kindness and truth.

Turn to me and have mercy upon me;*

give your strength to your servant;

and save the child of your handmaid.

Show me a sign of your favor, so that those who hate me may see it and be ashamed;*

because you, O LORD, have helped me and comforted me.
Psalm 86:11–17

A Reading (leader)
14-15Jesus returned to Galilee powerful in the Spirit. News that he was back spread through the countryside. He taught in their meeting places to everyone's acclaim and pleasure.
16-21He came to Nazareth where he had been reared. As he always did on the Sabbath, he went to the meeting place. When he stood up to read, he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written,

God's Spirit is on me;
he's chosen me to preach the Message of good news to
the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free,
to announce, "This is God's year to act!"
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent. Then he started in, "You've just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place." Luke 4: 14-21


The Refrain (all together)
The LORD is near to those who call upon him,* to all who call upon him faithfully.

The Cry of the Church (all together)
O Lord, hear my prayer and let my cry come unto you. Thanks be to God. THE SHORT BREVIARY

The Lord’s Prayer (all together)

The Prayer Appointed for the Week (leader)
Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.†

The Concluding Prayer of the Church (all together)
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.†

Tuesday, January 16, 2007




DECISION #10: "Recognizing the reality of the American Church.

In this chapter of Restoring Methodism James and Molly Scott try and put in perspective where, as a culture, we are today in America in relation to the Church. Once again, I think they are inviting some wonderful conversation to take place within the UMC. I will here, as in my last post, try and dialog alongside the authors by quoting some of the passages that stood out to me and then doing a little commentary. I invite you to dialog with the Scotts and myself too- in the comment section.

"It is the glory of the people called Methodists that they condemn none for
their opinions or modes of worship. They think and let think, and insist
nothing but faith by love." - John Wesley's Letters

"As the twentieth century came to a close, so also did a number of church
movements of that century... In one sense this is a repeat of history. Mr.
Wesley was well acquainted with all the controversy surrounding the various
political and religious conflicts of his time: Several groups were at
conflict with culture and Crown"- that is society and government- such as
the dissenters, Quakers, Moravians, and Anabaptists. Wesley himself
experienced significant friction with the Calvinists." (Scott, pp. 13 & 15)
This was an interesting section. The scotts basically introduce the idea that in the 21st century we find a church whose major movements just aren't translating to culture and being effective in sharing good news and kingdom building any longer. Movements such as church growth, neo-orthodoxy, evangelicalism, process theology, existential theology and others basically are not the answer to a postmodern post-christian culture. I would add to the Scott's thoughts that most if not all of the major movements they list are rooted in enlightenment thought and although they held a prominant place at the theological/practics table in the 20th century, in the 21st century they may still have a lesser place but will not translate to where culture is and God is calling the Church.

"... the conflicts that Wesley and the Methodists had with the political and
religious system of the Church of England (the Anglican Church) imposed
severe hardship on Wesley and his preachers. Thus it is understandable that
Mr. Wesley was tired of divisive opinions that did not strike at the root of
Christianity, but instead separated and persecuted others and effectively
weakened the Body of Christ." - (Scott, p. 15)

Oh man, does that quote ever speak to me a huge way. I think there many Christians who are so tired of the divisiveness that comes out of the political/power struggles that take place within local churches, denominations and within the overall Body of Christ. I've never been to general conference but I can only imagine that it sounds more like a 2am retelevised congressional hearing on CSPAN than a community of Christians who are called to teach the world what it means to talk to one another in a spirit of unity among differences. I think 21st Century Christians want to move beyond, and beyond literally means not one or the other but a third alternative, where we are currently and can do so without being clouded by political agendas but by prayer and listening.

"Throughout the twentieth century, church leaders appeared to place their
faith in this or that movement, in this or that person, and yet the
Methodist Church declined in membership, worship, attendence , youth,
children, and strength while the membership also grew older." - (Scott, p. 16)
Yikes!! That one hurt didn't it? It reminds me of when a friend of mine was harping on about the state of the church he attended (united methodist) and he made the statement, "If only Billy Graham would come to Nashville again. That's what we need. If he'd come and get the city on fire- we could then come together and show people a church home." I'd love to have a mass influx of people come to Methodist churches all across Nashville. I think they'd find a gift there and I think our churches if open to it would find a gift in the people who showed up. But I cannot put my trust in one person that their charisma is what it will take to get people fired up. I'll put my efforts in inviting the people of my own faith community to go out and meet people and make friends with them and invite them to be a part of who we are, and we in turn reflect who they are, ie incarnational ministry.

"... we already know that much of what we took for granted as being
immovable as the eternal hills has turned out to be perishable and passing. Much
of the old theology, the old mores of class, sex, the old pecking orders in national and international affairs, our old traditions of authority and civility- these are going or are gone. Worst of all, there are many who still identify these old familiar patterns with Christianity itself, and therefore assume- some in glee, some grief- that with the passing of the 'old regime' Christianity and the church are done for." (Scott, p. 18)
I have both frustration and hope for the church today. Part of my frustration lies with church structures, such as my own denomination, where much of the process for empowering people in leadership- both clergy and lay- is a matter of making faithful disciples to the status quo and structure. There just isn't too much room yet for more fluid models of doing church.

The church that was tied to empire is gone. Someone forgot to tell many of our churches that and that's a problem. We don't have to be tied to any political agendas that our American Civil Society would love for us to embrace, but now since that phase of our ecclesial life is over we can simply be about the business of kingdom building and becoming more of a missional outpost to the post-christian culture around us. HOW EXCITING IS THAT?!?

I believe that "Decision 10: Recognizing the Reality of the American Church" is recognizing that we aren't in Kansas anymore (well some of us are) and we definitely aren't on the Governor's Cabinet. God is calling the 21st Century American Church to become more grassroots, more missional, to adopt a think globally and act locally liturgy.

that's all for now friends and please realize that i am working this stuff out in here- take me to task and let's stuggle with it, but i really am trying work it out as i write it.


read pt. 1

Monday, January 15, 2007


I have been tagged by Will Samson from Willzhead to contribute my picks for the Best Theology Meme. Oh wow, this is going to be a challenge since I could probably choose a list that could span the distance of the earth to the sun. Obviously, part of the fun in this is seeing what everyone else chooses and seeing what influences others have.

The criteria for this is- the books have to have been written between the 1980s-yesterday; something that each of us views as a potentially or currently important in theological conversation; between 200-300 pages, and... the rest is pretty open.

I dunno how potentially or currently important these books actually are or will be, but the ones that come to mind have been profoundly important in shaping my theological/ecclesiological thoughts and practice.

Three Contemporary Classics of Theology

1. A Peculiar People: the church as culture in a post-christian society, Rodney Clapp, InterVarsity Press (November 1996).
When I read this book a couple of years back it was like I had found thelogical substance to affirm things that until then I had only inwardly felt about how I saw the church and I understood the world to be. Rodney Clapp is able to help Christians navigate through the waters of a post-christian society in a way that offers an alternative to old models of church and ministry.

2. The Politics of Jesus, John Howard Hoder; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; 2nd edition (May 1994).
Ok, this book was indeed actually written (1st edition) back in 1974 BUT I believe we are just now catching up to it, and I'm choosing to consider it contemporary by choosing the 2nd edition of it. So I read this book when I was fresh out of undergrad and I wasn't ready for it. Yeah yeah, blah blah blah, Jesus was a radical and we as his followers should be too. I thought it was cool then. I read it again a couple of years ago and continue to pick it back up because of Yoder's profound and prophetic understanding of the radical call of Jesus to his followers to be a unique and peculiar community. Yoder's mennonite background offers a rich and spirit filled gift to the Western church I believe.

3. Liberation Theology After the End of History, Daniel Bell, Routledge; 1 edition (August 23, 2001).
Liberation Theology after the End of History assesses the impact of Christian resistance to capitalism in Latin America, and the implications of the theological debates that have emerged through its evolution. Using the postmodern critical theory of Deleuze and Foucault, Bell investigates the nature of capitalism, its effect upon human desire and the response of the Church to this social phenomenon, resulting in the most thorough account to date of the rise, failure and future prospects of Latin American liberation theology.

Three Lesser Known Works Everyone Should Read

1. Missional Church: a vision for the sending of the church in north america, Darrell Guder, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (February 1998).
I was wowed by Dr. Guder's book when I read it. It basically introduces readers to the missional perspective of ecclesiology and how in our north american context we must now consider american culture a "foreign land" where we need missionaries at work building relationships and inviting into our unique communities of faith. I hope someday to sit in Dr. Guder's lap and listen to him sing sweet lullabies to me with lyrics that go something like: "lalalala go to where they are and be the hands of christ... lalalala teach them a new liturgy and learn to speak their language..."

2. Theology Without Foundations: Religious Practice and the Future of Theological Truth, Linda Murphy and Stanley Hauerwas; Abingdon Pr (October 1994)
In this book Murphy and Hauerwas show how in a postmodern contect much of what the church has held foundational will not necessarily tranlate. What they offer is a theology and ecclesiology that is rooted in practicing one's faith through participating in a certain "way of life" rooted in the traditions and practices of particular communities (ie Christian communities). This was a great book and is very similar to Stanley Grenz's Beyond Foundationalism.

3. John Wesley's Moral Theology: the quest for God and goodness, Stephen D. Long; Abingdon Press (April 15, 2005).
Yes, I am a Wesleyan of the United Methodist tribe (who attends a Nazarene University- try and figure that one out), but even if I weren't I would still recommend this book as a must read. Long is a wonderful voice coming out of the Radical Orthodoxy conversation. If you are interested in a real theological look at the church, a critique of enlightenment culture and what the church needs to shed, reclaim, and move into- then this is a wonderful book for that. Long offers Wesley as a gift to the postmodern church and I believe he does rightly so.

That's all from me and now it's time for me to tag others:
Jonathan Marlowe, Eric Is Rad, and Theresa Coleman


Sunday, January 14, 2007


... the family of Tommy St. Charles and his friends...

I got a call from my mom early on Friday morning. "Jonathon, Tommy was out duck hunting and something happened and he was shot. He died at the hospital." I was stunned. I didn't know really what to think. It's not like Tommy was a real close friend of mine but he was very close to my cousin Jes and I really liked Tommy.

Mom hung up the phone, I could tell she was done talking about it. I wanted to know more. I was worried about my cousin Jes, I was worried about Tommy's family, I was worried about the community they both live in.

Last night I went to the funeral home to be with Jes. She was sitting with Tommy's mom when I got there. There were family and friends altogether. I listened to stories about Tommy from his sister. I thought of Jonas and Abby and hoped that their relationship will continue to be as funny and good as what Tommy and his sister's has been.

I listened to Jes talk about a guy that she cared deeply for and who cared deeply for her. He was stubborn and bullheaded, sarcastic and witty, a guy with big dreams, and a love for nature and the outdoors.

Hunting was a part of his life; a practice that was part of the community that he was raised in. Out of this practice he experienced a love for being outdoors, a respect for nature and yes, for animals. As I heard funny hunting stories about Tommy what I also heard were stories about a person who had a reverence and love for the land and for animals in a way that I can't understand because I have not grown up in a community the way he can. I can however, appreciate the stories and admire who he was.

A few years ago I remember Jes being real worried because Tommy simply decided at the drop of a hat to head to Alaska. He stayed for several months working on a large boat. Tommy was more than just a hunter or some guy from a small town in Tennessee. Tommy was a dreamer, a friend, a family member, and sometimes a restless wanderer.

It is tragic that he died. I sat in a room full of people that were mourning. Some didn't if there was a right way to mourn. Others were so expressive.

Here in Nashville our television news has turned this into something less tragic and almost humorous. That makes me a bit sad and a bit angry.

I read some very insensitive comments by people on a comment thread linked to one our local newspapers here in town. The newpaper columnist were silent in regulating a sense of dignity. That makes me pretty dissapointed with our media and how they report news.

Thomas St. Charles III was a person who grew up in a small loving community. In that small community people cared for him, passed on the traditions and way of life to him. He learned to embrace life, to love life and people, to value his faith in God, and to respect the land he lived on. I think Tommy did something right and I think his community did too. I know that he will be missed. I know that tomorrow will be tough for my cousin Jes.

I hope that anyone who ventures to my blog over this next week or so and reads this post will keep all these people in your prayers.
Divine Darkness, when the night of grief swallows our feeble light, help us to
feel you lovingly wrap us in that very darkness. Hidden God, we
are angry. Where are you? Show yourself. Explain yourself. Feel the heat of our
frustration and fear we share only with you. Burden-lifting
God, our grief weighs us down. It feels as if our backs will break along with
our hearts. We are smothered by the weight. When it feels as if we can bear no
more, Loving Shepherd, bear us forward. O, Answer to all
Mysteries, we have unanswerable questions. We struggle with "If only ..." and
"What if?" and "Why?" Give us grace to live the questions in the confidence that
we don't have to have all the answers. Our Beginning and Our
End, you have taught us about life; now teach us about death. Comforting Mother,
let us lay our wearied selves next to you, to sense your breath, to feel your
warmth, to hear you tenderly call our name. -
A Prayer of Grief, anonymous, adapted from the UM Book of Worship's prayer of grief.

Jonathon E. Norman

Saturday, January 13, 2007


After having seen the full video footage of the Tigger vs the Teenager at Disney World, there are now some conspiracy theories beginning to emerge.


...The Anabaptist tradition is one Christian tradition that has typically understood the church and its mission in just this manner, true to the biblical story and God's own outsiderly empathy for the stranger, the outcast and the forgotten. Consequently, the Anabaptist tradition has worshiped and missionized nonviolently. Thus it has extraordinary accumulated wisdom to share with much of the rest of the western church, which now must through force of circumstances (God's fresh unveiling of Christian vocation?) learn how to be church without assuming that surrounding cultures are already at least latently Christian or can, with empire's help, be coercively "evangelized." - Rodney Clapp, author of A Peculiar People

Friday, January 12, 2007


To realize that faith is personal is to realize that it is both individual and social. Christians are called to witness, with Christ, to God's love and power. And they are called to witness through the church, the mediating community that practices its storied faith in worship. The faith's aim is to make Christians radically different persons - persons who no longer live for self, but for God and others - and they will not be different persons merely as "isolated" individuals. They can become different only in a community that is different. - Rodney Clapp, in People of the Truth: The Power of the Worshiping Community in Modern World (San Francisco: Harper & Row) 1988.


I just began reading the book Restoring Methodism: 10 Decisions for United Methodist Churches in America, by James and Molly Scott. My pastor at HUMC, Allen Black, recommended it. I just finished the first chapter and so far I like it.

The book is not meant to lay down a set new direction for the UMC but to help open up discussion among clergy and laity and encourage us to remember where we come from, look at where we are, and then seriously engage one another to discern where God would have us go.

Here are some of the highlights so far:

"We look upon ourselves, not as the authors or ringleaders of a particular sect or party; (it is the furthest thing from our thoughts) but as messengers of God to those who are Christians in name, but Heathens in heart and life, to call them back to that from which they are fallen, to real genuine Christianity." - John Wesley

"We are always open to instruction, willing to be wiser every day than we were before, and to change whatever we can change for the better." - Albert Outler

"Two essentials for Wesleyan Christians when it comes to doctrine ought to be the doctrines of Justification and the doctrine of New Birth: the former relating to that great work which God does for us; the latter, to the great work God does in us." - Scott, p. 3

For me this is very important in that our understanding of justification allows us to see each other as a "work in progress" that God is always shaping even before we ever realize it. That statement is also important because it also stresses that the way we are "sanctified" (orthodox Christians might use the word "divinized") or in the working process of becoming more like Christ. And Scott sheds light on this process by saying that the New Birth happens because of what God does "in" us when we participate in the means of grace that Wesley spelled out.

"Our love and obedience to Christ and therefore to His Body (good trinitarian theology) requires us, particularly at this point in our history, to do everything in our power to correct past mistakes; to do everything we can to bring people into relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit; to bring them into responsible Church membership; and to produce fruit that will last." - Scott, p. 5

Wow, this does not let anyone off the hook who is considered "The Church". What comes to my mind is that laity cannot sit back and expect clergy to do it all and be the "professionals" in the business of going out and making disciples. But clergy need to do a better job of assisting laity in discovering that they are actually all ministers and have "gifts" that God requires them to share within the context of the "ecclessia" or assembled body of Christ.

That might just mean that structures within our local churches look differently and formation and teaching people how to "practice their faith" might become a focus for clergy in building a united community of empowered followers of the Way.


1. What are we doing now that we should continue doing? (These are our strengths)
2. What are we doing now that we should stop doing? (This is our current reality)
3. What are we currently not doing that we should start doing? (This is our preferred essential reality)
4. What are we not doing that we should not start doing? (this is our guide as to which choices to affirm and what to deny)

"In every age there arise those persons who believe in some new revelation of sophistication and decry the New Testament teaching about the reality of the world and about us human beings that to them have become naive or outdated. However, biblical truth is timeless and must be reclaimed for each new generation." - Scott, p. 6

I would agree with Scott here, however I would also caution us in "how" we read the Bible. There are a lot of Christians who put so much authority into the Bible that they do so at the expense of the Trinity. And I say this because by doing so God's revelation through the discerning Body of Christ is silenced. So in the present time I believe we live in a bit of a tension.

"We will be relying upon Scripture, history, and tradition of the Church universal- and specifically our Wesleyan roots and Wesleyan essentials- to reclaim these truths, frame the issues, and seek the solutions."- Scott . 6

I love that statement. He puts scripture in its proper place- in community with and conversation with tradition, reason and experience. NICE!!

Why is it important to even have this discussion at all? For some I'm sure that whether the United Methodist Church survives into the future is a huge reason to have this discussion.

Here's what I believe-
This is very important to me because I feel that as a Christian from the Wesley tribe we have a unique and peculiar way of seeing the world and understanding what it means to be Christian and even how we are to "Be" a Christian. If we don't understand our peculiar doctrines, practices and way of life (and yes even the book of discipline contributes to the quirky peculiarness of Methodists) then we may as well be from the Baptist Tribe, or the Church of Christ tribe or even the Unitarian tribe.

I think each tribe has a place at the table, but I also believe that this is about living truthfully, faithfully and within the tradition I've grown into. I want to live as faithfully and truthfully as I can and I hope other Methodists do to.



So what do young Mega Church"PK's" do with too much time on their hands? Play with legos obviously!


I know that there are many adults who view myspace as either something to be extremely cautious of (and i would agree that safety is to be practiced when using any online community) or they feel its something that teenagers ought to stay clear of.

Gavin and I both use MySpace as a way to engage the students we are in ministry and relationship with (and we both actually have peers who use myspace, as well). He and I have spent a bit of time trying to help unpack a lot of the fear the revolves around online communities for teenagers. I came across this advice column from Christianity Today tonight and as a youth pastor thought it was an interesting post. I find the youth pastor answering the question to still be responding out of fear a bit too much, but on the other hand his advice also is really good as he gives practical tips on how to stay safe online.

What are your thoughts on MySpace and other online communities- good, bad, destructive, valuable, etc.... etc.... ?

Christian Bands in MySpace? Answer by Mark Matlock

Q. My youth pastor has told us to be careful with MySpace. He made it sound like it's a really bad place. But since then, I have noticed all my favorite Christian bands have MySpace pages. If it's so bad, why are they on there? How do I handle MySpace?

A. Many bands use MySpace Music to get the word out about their music. In fact, for Christian bands it can be a witnessing tool. That's not necessarily a bad thing—what's bad is how some people use MySpace.

Jesus said our words reveal our hearts (Luke 6:45). They show what we're really about. And people hiding behind keyboards are even more likely to reveal their true character. The result is that you can find lots of sexual perversion, bad mouthing, lying, and disturbing attitudes on MySpace. It's no wonder many parents I know tell their kids to stay away. (And if yours do, Ephesians 6:1 pretty much ends the discussion.)

If you visit these sites, think about just listening to tunes and reading the band's info—and avoiding the friend comments. Don't hang out on pages that could cause you to lower your moral standards.

If you have a MySpace page, be extremely careful with how much info you give about yourself. Ask yourself: Could someone track me down from something I've said? Do not assume that only other teens will see what you post. Don't post photos of yourself. Also, ask some strong Christians you know in real life to check up on how you're representing Jesus there.

Mark is the founder of WisdomWorks Ministries. You can learn about his conferences, read movie and music reviews, and more at

November/December 2006, Vol. 65, No. 4, Page 24


by: john macarthur
What is truth? We began with that question, and my earnest hope is that the answer would be clear: Truth is not any individual’s opinion or imagination. Truth is what God decrees. And He has given us an infallible source of saving truth in His revealed Word.

For the true Christian, this should not be a complex issue. God’s Word is what all pastors and church leaders are commanded to proclaim, in season and out of season—when it is well received and even when it is not (2 Timothy 4:2). It is what every Christian is commanded to read, study, meditate on, and divide rightly. It is what we are called and commissioned by Christ to teach and proclaim to the uttermost parts of the earth... Read the rest of this article.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Apparently dental floss is wonderful helping you keep your teeth clean but it does nothing for all the yucky stuff that lurks within the sewage. Maybe that's why the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles always have such pearly white teeth.... read about this.

ps: check out the trailer for the new Ninja Turtle movie coming out.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


After showing St Phransus who his daddy was in a vicious kung fu battle, John went underground fearing retaliation from St. Phransus' elite squad of blogging ninjas.

So what has John been up to since then? Secret sources have infiltrated John's whearabouts and have linked John to a secret training camp where rabbits are being taught the art of war and jujitsu. I know... I know... this is scary stuff folks. I'll keep you posted as I learn more. I did manage to get my hand on this footage from John's training camp:

Texas Rabbits Rule - video powered by Metacafe


So tonight one of my youth was telling me how she and a couple of friends were playing funball a few weeks ago. And all I could think of was The Happy Fun Ball which was introduced on SNL a while back.

When I asked her about the sport and she told me about it, I discovered that the two were not the same.

So this clip is for her:


A School's yoga program in British Columbia has been blasted by the religious right.

A school program to fight childhood obesity that includes yoga is drawing complaints from some Christian parents in the Quesnel area in B.C.'s Cariboo region. Says one parent, "It's not fair to take prayer out, and yet they're allowing yoga, which is religion, in our schools."

Ok, so since when is "yoga" a religion? Maybe they were mistaking it for Yoda and the force. I could at least laugh at this. Ahh my fundy-friends are so interesting at times.


Geez, I so wish this were airing in the united states. It looks hilarious. I especially like the quotes from the website (a muslim leader), "We're going to open a mosque in your parish hall- shall you tell Jesus, or shall I?", and (a catholic priest), "Christianity didn't last 2000 years by being charitable."

Apparently this show focuses on the issue of what it means to be a good neighbor.... hmmm I wonder if there is something for the Church to learn from this?

funny stuff.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Jen and I have decided to make the most sacred pilgrimage that any cornbred American makes who has young children. All I can say is that I will be staying away from any tigers that I see, especially any that try and put their arms around me.


I discovered through wired magazine that there is RPG based on the tragic events surrounding the Columbine massacre. It is being met with a lot of opposition, but what struck me is the notion how there is a video game influenced by an event who some would claim was influenced by a video game. Isn't that both disturbing and interesting?

I find it "problematic" (that's for Erin and all her Duke friends) that this kind of mimesis is happening. (Mimesis is when something imitates something else to the point that the copy becomes somewhat of a reality, and so on and so on). I suppose censorship is one answer to this and in a case such as this game I agree that there is not much if any redeeming value to it. I'd have a hard time saying that all fighting games are bad since I'd be quite hypicricital in that my favorite game of all time is a martial arts fighting game- Soul Calibur.

I do however think that if one takes seriously the idea of mimesis then why not present God's grace and good news in the same way? Games like Super Columbine present a representation of the culure of violence where community is destroyed and nihillism wins. Maybe some Christians ought to be creating games as their ministry that seeks to mimick the creating of community in artistic and adventurous ways that would appeal to gamers. I know there are some of us who have sought to create sacred spaces in the world of online social networking.

Obviously these virtual spaces do influence and provide space for real community to take place. It would seem that Christ would want his followers to go wherever there are people hurting or not knowing his grace.



* please note that i linked to the game super columbine so that readers could see how disturbing it is. by linking to this site, please know that i do not in any way promote or support this game.


Here's one of my heroes- Phil Keaggy. What an amazing guitar player and he is such an amazingly humble person. You'd never know that he is considered one of the best guitarists in the world by talking to him.

Monday, January 08, 2007


Here are 15 blogging tips for 2007 you will not want to miss! Thanks to TallSkinnyKiwi for sharing.


Apparently there's a little 00-Bishin' going on in the Catholic Church. It made me wonder- what if one of our United Methodist bishops were a secret agent. Which bishop would it most likely be? My vote is going with Bishop Dick Wills, my bish in the TN conference. Afterall, he has been shot at and rides a supa cool motorcylcle.

Why would your bishop make a good secret agent?

Saturday, January 06, 2007


Before you were a Christian- what expectations did you have about what being a Christian would be like?

What expectations that others have had for you throughout your life have been the most challenging?


In western Christian tradition, January 6 is celebrated as Epiphany. Epiphany is the climax of the Christmas Season and the Twelve Days of Christmas, which are usually counted from December 25th until January 5th. In most traditions, the day before Epiphany is the Twelfth Day of Christmas, the evening of which is called Twelfth Night. This is an occasion for feasting in some cultures, including the baking of a special King's Cake as part of the festivities of Epiphany.

for more on epiphany click here.

Friday, January 05, 2007


We’re driving down highway 501, a road that seems to never end, heading toward the interstate and away from the aches of South Carolina and The Congress on Evangelism 06. It has been a great week... it has been an exhausting week... most of all it has been a hopeful week.

This week has reminded me what blogging is about for me. When I started my blog a little over 2 years ago I began it because I wanted had hopes of sharing theological reflections and liturgical reflections for anyone interested in reflecting along side me. I also enjoyed reading other blogs and wanted to engage other writers ideas as well. What I found was a unique community, a diversity of ideas and personalities, and soon some very good friendships.

2 years later I am still interested in being a theological voice, I am still interested in sharing liturgical reflections as it relates to our worship and life, but today that is second to the community and friendships that I have made through the blogosphere. We have a unique community here (I emphasize unique as gavin has just recieved a text photo from jay voorhees of himself driving home from the conference) where all voices as diverse as they are- are important. I have been challenged by you and shaped by you, and at times my mind has been changed by you and I just want to thank everyone who blogs, especially united methodist bloggers, for contributing to the conversations and relationships. I continue to do this thing called blogging because of you and because I really feel that it is our community and the egalitarian nature of blogging that can model for our Church how Christians might love one another, disagree and struggle alongside one another, and continue to be community that witnesses to a loving God who is transforming the world.

Shalom y’all,


Thursday, January 04, 2007


Gavin had an encounter with our Bishop in TN, Dick Wills this morning. Here's my understanding of how the conversation went down.

Ok, now here is Gavin's take.


I made it to this morning's plenary to hear Bishop Scott Jones speak. This morning he spoke on "Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing" for United Methodists. Today, the "main thing" he was speaking of were the "essentials" that united methodist ought to hold in common.

1. A 1 time/ 1 moment born again experience: while other denominations hold this understanding of salvation, methodists do not.
2. That you MUST be a part of a certain denomination and others are NOT Christian.
3. Believing in one certain perspective of a second coming of Christ.
4. Modes of baptism are not essential
5. Political preference (both Hilary Clinton AND George Bush are Methodists)

1. The Church is a spirit filled missional community
2. Emphasis on the Trinity
3. Creation:by having a doctrine of creation we value that every human being is created in the image of God and precious in God's sight. We value human dignity.
4. Sin is the human problem and a violation of God's will.
5. Repentence: for methodist this is about turning.
6. Justification: this is the entry into the Chrisian life; a LONG PROCESS, connected to baptism, not one step. Emphasis on "being saved" not a saving moment.
7. New Birth: all Christians must be born again
8. Assurance: the holy spirit gives us the assurance that we ARE indeed children of God.
9. Maturity: growing up in the faith/ Christian perfection
10: Grace

Jay and RevMom just finished an EXCELLENT presentation. Now it's off to lunch!! Woohoo!!!


The Call to Worship at Christ UMC's Big House Worship Gathering:


An awww moment at Big House Worship from our methoblogger road trip to christ church. (this post is definitely for Dogblogger). Can you guess who's wooly mane is cramping my view of the worship experience?


While riding in the backseat of Jay's minvan tonight (last night now since it's 1:24am) I had a novel idea- a kid's show based on the child rearing practices of Susanna Wesley- it would be called Susanna Wesley's Playhouse. I think it would be a big hit among United Methodist children and parents.

I think learning to read would be a big emphasis with Mama Sue.
Susanna Wesley's Playhouse- where FUN and RIGOROUS go together!! Coming to Lifetime and Fox.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

CONGRESS ON EVANGELISM- recapping the day

Wow, what a day today. It seems like so much was packed into such a short amount of time. It was really great to hook up with friends, hear some good lectures and goof off a bit. AND- I don't care what anyone says- Myrtle Beach is a beautiful place (at least it is when I'm looking out my hotel window!!).

So here's a recap of the day and some of the things that I really enjoyed:

After I rolled out of bed and showered I spent some time just looking out my window and remembered what it is that I love about the coast.

Once I got over to the conference Gavo, Jay and I were introduced at the beginning of the large plenary session in relation to "The Internet is Our Parish" and as fellow bloggers (that was pretty cool). Afterwhich, Bishop Scott Jones was introduced and he went on to give the first morning's Denman Lecture.

Jay and RevMom presented their workshop (I would tell you what it was but Gavo and I can't remember- oh well) and while in there what other motley bloggers might I have seen? Beth Quick was sitting in, as was John The Methodist, RevAbi, and Dogblogger.

During workshop time I sat in on Joe Peabody Jr.'s intro to postmodernism and the church which was pretty good stuff, and then listened in a little to Susan Cox Johnson's workshop on the emerging church and Wesley. Susan is one of my BIG HEROS!! MIDDAY...
After lunch Gavo and I presented our workshop- Binary Relationships: Building Community on the Web. It went great!! It was well attended and many great questions were asked. Check out video clips at Rev. Mommy's blog.


I went back to my room and said Vespers Prayer...

Then we went to where the real worship was at- THE BIG HOUSE @ Christ UMC. This church meets in the old Crook and Chase Theatre. If I say that it was quite the production- that would be an understatement. This kid friendly congregation's worship is basically The Wiggles meets Bear and the Big Blue House meets Sesame Street Live!! I'll just say that this was definitely NOT HIGH CHURCH CULTURE, and a few times I was a little "yikes" on some of the content, but it was fun, and they did a great job of telling the biblical story in a way that children could understand and engage with (and indeed it worked).

We topped our outing with Captain Jack's Seafood Restaraunt. Yummy stuff. What's with the white bow ties? Oh yeah, RevMom brought them as a spoof on this youth pastor guy who digs wearing nerdy bow ties... go figure.

I got back and was joined by fellow bloggers for a little splish splash fun in the hotel's Lazy River. Props to COE organizers- The Breakers was a great choice of lodging. Anywhere that has a Lazy River and two hot tub jacuzzis gets my stamp o'approval.

Now Gavo and I are wrapping things up for the night and ready for another great day tomorrow.
shalom y'all,


.... into Myrtle Beach area about 5pm, enjoyed dinner with Jay Voorhees, John Locust and Honey, and Gavo, spent the last few hours preparing for the workshop Gavo and I are presenting tomorrow, and now I'm heading to bed. More to come tomorrow.

Monday, January 01, 2007

HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL!!! I am pretty excited because tomorrow bright and early Gavo and I head out for sort of sunny Myrtle Beach South Carolina. The Congress on Evangelism will be taking place and we're attending (that can only mean trouble!!).

Actually we are also part of a side project going on there- "The World is My Parish" gathering of bloggers. We'll be hooking up with some other bloggers- John, aka Locusts and Honey, Jay Voorhees, and Theresa aka Rev. Mommy to name a few. Gavo and I are leading a workshop while there called "Binary Relationships" which will be on postmodern culture and how new online communities such as myspace, facebook, etc... can enhance ministries with young people.

We will all be blogging the event so if you aren't there, we wish you were, and stay posted on the happening through all of our blogs.

Shalom y'all,