Monday, February 26, 2007


Here's a great article from Tony Jones on pluralism that is an alternative to the "same ole same ole". This "thick skinned pluralism" is definitely closer to where I stand than in what has been traditional ideas in the past.


In some circles of conversation that relates to emerging church communities/postmodern church, etc.. the talk is in "either or" language. For example: "the modern church has come to pass but someone forgot to tell it"; or "the postmodern/emerging church is the present and future"...

I of course am making a very broad generalization here. But what I would say is that this kind of thinking does not represent those of us who are interested in the emerging church conversation and do indeed feel that there has been a cultural shift abound that the church should be concerned with. The reality we are living in, I believe, is closer to a transition time- a time between what has been and what is to come (now that sounds pretty eschatological doesn't it?), somewhere between modernism and postmodernism.

I think a lot of my frustration with the church (especially the methodist tribe) comes out of my leaning to a more postmodern paradigm while most of the structures and leadership tend to lean towards modernism. On my best days I find humor at the misunderstands, lack of language we have. On my "not so best days" I feel like a "puppy who has invaded the world of the alpha cat":

ever feel that way?


My apologies to my mobile phone service provider, Cricket. I have been with this service for 4 years now. If you have never heard of Cricket there is a reason for this- they have the reputation of WORST SERVICE IN THE UNIVERSE!!

The upside to Cricket service is that EVERYTHING is unlimited with the highest monthly service plan being $50 (which is what I have). I started out T-Mobile several years ago and to my displeasure Jen banned me from cell phone use when I continuously went over the monthly minutes, which is when I switched to Cricket.

Well 4 years later, and a much improved service can I just say for the record- Cricket, I am sorry for all the bad things I have said about you in the past. I can't take them back because they were all true- but you have redeemed yourself.

According to this article that I read from the BBC people are using their cell phones and mobile devices now more than ever for checking email, surfing the web and online communication. I know that this is true for me. Last week I purchased a new phone- the Motorola SLVR which allows me to text, check email, and surf web and when you partner that with Cricket's unlimited everything- that equals SWWWWWEEEEEEET!!!

Gee, if only Cricket would offer a Smart Phone, then I'd be hooked up big time.



Friday, February 23, 2007


Robert Webber is a professor and writer who has had a profound influence in my theology and, I can honestly say, how I live out my life as a Christian. Through his writings he has given words to ideas and thoughts that I have had for a long time but didn't know there were others who also thought the same things.

I have been very fortunate to meet Dr. Webber, speak with Dr. Webber and to have access to his Ancient Future books. I was very disheartened when I discovered that he had cancer and that it was terminal.

This morning I received an email from him and want to share it because like most of his writings it struck me in a profound and gentle way:

"After months in and out of the hospital with ever possible complication
(kidney failure, emergency operation for a pierced bowel, massive
infections, and chemo/radiation) I was sent home on December 9th with
the words “You have two to four weeks left to live). On December 9th I
was a virtual invalid. My wife had to bathe me, dress me, feed me and
walk me. I slept 16-18 hours a day and rarely moved any place except to
my bed and couch. I even went under the care of palpable hospice.
However, instead of getting worse and dying as predicted, I gradually
began to improve. Now, two months later I am practically leading a
normal life. I care for myself, walk without a walker, go out to eat,
work out (to pound weights) and write every day. I attribute this
improvement, however long it lasts, to answered prayer – yours and mine,
my wife. I have literally bugged and argued with God!

So, in light of my improvement, how do you pray? I want to ask God to
heal me but what if he already has. But, I’m also reluctant to be
presumptuous and tell everyone I’ve been healed given the statistical
downside of pancreatic cancer and the fact that we are foregoing any
definite tests for now, like a MRI, CT scan or PET scan.

So, here is how Joanne and I solved our dilemma. We live and pray one
day at a time. We pray each day and say, “Thank you God for the healing
you gave me today. Please heal me tomorrow.” It has occurred to both of
us that if we were truly spiritually sensitive, we would have prayed
that way all of our lives but it took the threat of imminent death to
bring us to this point...

I hope that you all know that the love and prayers you have “sent” our
way are being returned to you from us. We are so deeply moved by them on
our behalf."
Dr. Webber,
I hope you continue to heal and please know what a witness to God's continuing grace and love you are.

jonathon norman

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Tonight we had a really good Ash Wed. service. We had a pretty packed sanctuary, with at least 40-50 youth making up part of it. I reserved a couple of pews so that the youth could all sit together and then after they sat down I handed all of them a journal page I prepared earlier today that talked about Ash Wed. and Lent and gave them a place to reflect on the season, and what they'd like to give up/take on if they chose. I knew that quite a few of the youth would not really have a strong grasp of what Lent is, so I hope the journal page helped.
It was really meaningful and powerful to watch members of the congregation go and receive the imposition of ashes. As I watched youth return to their seat with the cross on their heads I couldn't help but feel an overwhelming love for them.


Today is Ash Wed. the first official day of Lent. I wasn't sure what to give up or take on this year. In the past I have done such things such give up sodas, give up every drink except water, give up eating during daylight hours, taking on daily devotional reading, taking on a specific prayer phrase to say during the day, etc...

The whole idea is that during Lent we give something up (a fast), which is actually taking someting on- a sort of practice, and then in the absense of that "something" we have space created to focus on God in our lives.

Well last night Jen informed me that she was giving up fried foods for Lent and wanted to know if I wanted to as well. I suppose it might be a good practice since 1.) obviously Jen will not be cooking anything fried during Lent if she isn't going to eat it, 2.) I eat a lot of fast food which tends to be mostly fried so that this will be quite a difficult fast. Plus the hope is also that the practice that comes out of this is one of spiritual, and physical health- feeling better by what one eats contributes to overall wholeness- physically, spiritual and emotionally, I believe. So this should be a good discipline for me.

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT LENT? (from the voice)

Why do we observe Ash Wednesday?
Ash Wednesday, the seventh Wednesday before Easter Sunday, is the first day of the Season of Lent. Its name comes from the ancient practice of placing ashes on worshippers’ heads or foreheads as a sign of humility before God, a symbol of mourning and sorrow at the death that sin brings into the world. It not only prefigures the mourning at the death of Jesus, but also places the worshipper in a position to realize the consequences of sin. (See Reflections on Ash Wednesday). Ash Wednesday is a somber day of reflection on what needs to change in our lives if we are to be fully Christian.
In the early church, ashes were not offered to everyone but were only used to mark the forehead of worshippers who had made public confession of sin and sought to be restored to the fellowship of the community at the Easter celebration. However, over the years others began to show their humility and identification with the penitents by asking that they, too, be marked as sinners. Finally, the imposition of ashes was extended to the whole congregation in services similar to those that are now observed in many Christian churches on Ash Wednesday. Ashes became symbolic of that attitude of penitence reflected in the Lord’s prayer: “forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us” (Luke 11:4, NRSV).

What is Lent?
Originating in the fourth century of the church, the season of Lent spans 40 weekdays beginning on Ash Wednesday and climaxing during Holy Week with Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday), Good Friday, and concluding Saturday before Easter. Originally, Lent was the time of preparation for those who were to be baptized, a time of concentrated study and prayer before their baptism at the Easter Vigil, the celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord early on Easter Sunday. But since these new members were to be received into a living community of Faith, the entire community was called to preparation. Also, this was the time when those who had been separated from the Church would prepare to rejoin the community.

Today, Lent is marked by a time of prayer and preparation to celebrate Easter. Since Sundays celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the six Sundays that occur during Lent are not counted as part of the 40 days of Lent, and are referred to as the Sundays in Lent. The number 40 is connected with many biblical events, but especially with the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for His ministry by facing the temptations that could lead him to abandon his mission and calling. Christians today use this period of time for introspection, self examination, and repentance. This season of the year is equal only to the Season of Advent in importance in the Christian year, and is part of the second major grouping of Christian festivals and sacred time that includes Holy Week, Easter, and Pentecost.
Lent has traditionally been marked by penitential prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Some churches today still observe a rigid schedule of fasting on certain days during Lent, especially the giving up of meat, alcohol, sweets, and other types of food. Other traditions do not place as great an emphasis on fasting, but focus on charitable deeds, especially helping those in physical need with food and clothing, or simply the giving of money to charities. Most Christian churches that observe Lent at all focus on it as a time of prayer, especially penance, repenting for failures and sin as a way to focus on the need for God’s grace. It is really a preparation to celebrate God’s marvelous redemption at Easter, and the resurrected life that we live, and hope for, as Christians.

Are there special colors during Lent?
The color used in the sanctuary for most of Lent is purple, red violet, or dark violet (see Colors of the Church Year). These colors symbolize both the pain and suffering leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus as well as the suffering of humanity and the world under sin. But purple is also the color of royalty, and so anticipates through the suffering and death of Jesus the coming resurrection and hope of newness that will be celebrated in the Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Some churches use grey for Ash Wednesday or for the entire season of Lent, or for special days of fasting and prayer. Gray is the color of ashes, and therefore a biblical symbol of mourning and repentance. The decorations for the sanctuary during Lent should reflect this mood of penitence and reflection. Some churches avoid the use of any flowers in the sanctuary during Lent, using various dried arrangements. This can be especially effective if a flowering cross is used for Easter. Other churches use arrangements of rocks or symbols associated with the Gospel readings for the six Sundays in Lent.
Some church traditions change the sanctuary colors to red for Maundy Thursday, a symbol of the disciples and through them the community of the church. Since Eucharist or communion is often observed on Maundy Thursday in the context of Passover, the emphasis is on the gathered community in the presence of Jesus the Christ.

Traditionally, the sanctuary colors of Good Friday and Holy Saturday are black, the only days of the Church Year that black is used. It symbolizes the darkness brought into the world by sin. It also symbolizes death, not only the death of Jesus but the death of the whole world under the burden of sin. In this sense, it also represents the hopelessness and the endings that come as human beings try to make their own way in the world without God (see The Days of Holy Week). Black is always replaced by white before sunrise of Easter Sunday.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


In past conversations with friends of mine we have used the metaphor of windows/pc or mac to talk about the church. If it's technologically "with it", savy, and missional it tends to be mac. If it's a little behind the times, and too involved in maintaining "church structure" it tends to be more windows/pc.

What about those churches who are just plain ole Commodore 64'ers? This one's for you:


(C64 churches are welcome to use this for church growth marketing)

Monday, February 19, 2007


Wow, what a weekend!! I just got home a bit ago from our youth group ski weekend. Overall it was a great weekend- quite a bit of snow, cold weather, and no injuries. This is actually the first ski trip where I didn't have to take someone to the hospital- now that was something to celebrate!!

We had 70 youth and 10 adults go and it was pretty crazy. Plus Gavin brought his gang along which added to the fun.

Now I'm glad to be home and look forward to a day home tomorrow to sleep in a little bit.

Monday, February 12, 2007


One of the things I love about middle schoolers is how creative they can be. If I give most any of my middle school kids a project to work on I can almost guarantee it'll turn into something else that I had not imagined. So when I read this article I paid attention. This 12 year old guy writes and processes extrememly well.
How to get traffic to your blog...

h/t: problogger


According to the Associated Press:

Dozens of dolphins and sea lions trained to detect and apprehend waterborne attackers could be sent to patrol a military base in Washington state, the Navy said Monday. In a notice published in this week's Federal Register, the Navy said it needs to bolster security at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, on the Puget Sound close to Seattle.

I have a source who has shared with me that since 2000 President Bush has initiated a counter-terrorist agency made up of the best of the best animals from all the zoos around the country. Although many of our most elite marine life are being sent to Washington State, we should feel very secure to know that hot shot and one time Sea World celebrity, Jack "The Flip" Bauer, will be there to protect and serve.

read more here.


I peel really bad for this little orange guy....

Saturday, February 10, 2007


If you have the time (about 1.5 hours) you can watch the whole movie, Jesus Camp, a movie about a group of evangelical kids who go to summer camp in hopes of being the next "Top Evangelist", not to be confused with Bravo Channel's Top Chef, which is really good. Just click the image below and it'll take you to google video. If you put Billy Graham on tv as a "donald trump" figure, you might have all the makings of the Apprentice- Evangelist edition.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


This song is called Peculiar People. I think I like it so much because the language is so figurative and poetic but it captures the essence of what it means, I think, to be a people that choose to be this strange community who love one another. There is nothing natural about a human flying with eagles' wings and just as unnatural is the way of life Christ calls us to live together. I think this is why it takes us a lifetime of practice to shape ourselves into the imago dei.

Here are the lyrics:

We can fly with the wings of eagles
We can fly with the wings of eagles
We are peculiar people this I know
We can fly with the wings of eagles

We are peculiar people
We are peculiar people
We must set our hope and future to the sky
We are peculiar people
We are peculiar people
We will shed our human skin and learn to fly

With a word we can drown a mountain
With a word we can drown a mountain
Into the seas surrounding don't you know
With a word we can drown a mountain

We are peculiar people
We are peculiar people
There is more to who we are than meets the eye
We are peculiar people
We are peculiar people
And no one will convince me otherwise

We were born to, we were born to fly
You and I, we're summoned to the sky
We were born to, we were, we were born to fly

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Here's part two of Mute Math from the Grimey's show. They are performing a very cool post-rock style instrumental called "reset". This song will definitely be on my next altworship's playlist.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Here is Mute Math playing in my neck o' the woods- Nashvegas at one of our premier indie record shops.

Monday, February 05, 2007


Ok, so I've never done a week series with music before, but this band, Mute Math, has so captured my imagination that I have to spend a week sharing their music and goofy thoughts...

so here's day one of A WEEK WITH...

Saturday, February 03, 2007


I guess I'm just in a music mood, cause I really want to put this on my blog. I LOVE this song. I've been singing it all day and then a few minutes ago I found the chords so that I can could learn it tomorrow while I'm hanging out at the church getting ready for our Super Bowl Party. The band is Leeland, the song is "sound of melodies".


I stumbled on this band last week and now I have to say that I am utterly HOOKED on them!!! A great Post-Christian Rock band, that does not want to be considered an evangelistic marketing tool, they are much more into exploring the human condition, art and spirituality through music- AND IT'S GOOD!!

I'll be kicking it on my ipod for a while I'm sure. Here are a few clips to get your mouth watering:

Complication is my claim to fame
I can’t believe there’ s another, constantly just another
and I can’t avoid what I can’t control
I’m losing ground, still I can’t stand down
I Know, yeah I know… Yeah

I know you stay true when my world is false
everything around’s breaking down to chaos
I always see you when my sight is lost
everything around’s breaking down to chaos

I know you stay true when my world is false
everything around’s breaking down to chaos
I always see you when my sight is lost
everything around’s breaking down to chaos

It’s hard to trust anyone again
after all the let downs I’ve been through,
haunted by what I’ve been through.

Air’s still trapped, while I still can’t breathe
and I’m screaming out, give me help somehow
I know, yeah I know… Yeah

I know you stay true when my world is false
everything around’s breaking down to chaos
I always see you when my sight is lost
everything around’s breaking down to chaos

I know you stay true when my world is false
everything around’s breaking down to chaos
I always see you when my sight is lost
everything around’s breaking down to chaos

Chaos, chaos

I know you stay true, yeah
I know you stay, yeah, yeah, yeah

I know you stay true when my world is false
everything around’s breaking down to chaos
I know you stay.

I know you stay true when my world is false
everything around’s breaking down to chaos
I know you stay.

I know you stay true and everything around’s breaking down
I know you stay true and everything around’s breaking down

I know you stay true when my world is false
everything around’s breaking down to chaos
I always see you when my sight is lost
everything around’s breaking down to chaos

I know you stay true when my world is false
everything around’s breaking down to chaos
I always see you when my sight is lost
everything around’s breaking down to chaos


Is war too costly to practice?

More thoughts on this here at Jim Wallis' blog.


Signs of the kingdom are at hand. This takes me back to the ole' school.

Friday, February 02, 2007


Looks like an early spring is heading our way. Punxsutawney Phil has indeed predicted an early spring for us. But not today in Nashville. We're enjoying a little snow fun. We woke up this morning to a beutiful snow covered ground and school is out!! Being a public school teacher Jen was just as excited as Jonas.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


What we call church is often a conspiracy of cordiality. Pastors learn to pacify rather than preach to their Ananiases and Sapphiras. We say we do it out of "love." Usually, we do it as a means of keeping everyone as distant from everyone else as possible. You don’t get into my life and I will not get into yours. - Source: "Resident Aliens" by Stanley Hauerwas.

Decision # 9: "Recognizing the reality of the United Methodist Church". To acknowledge that Methodism in the late 1930's that culuminated in the 1960's and has been reflected through immense losses in membership and worship attendance. The United Methodist Church, in some major aspects, has gone the wrong way. We must now acknowledge those wrong turns, reverse them and return to our foundational, biblical, theological, and practical Wesleyan roots. - James and Molly Scott, in Restoring Methodism: 10 Decisions for United Methodist Churches in America

Brought to you by the People of the United Methodist Conspiracy of Cordiality.

read part 1 and part 2



I came across this pic and I really like it. Who else does Jesus love? Hmmmm....

h/t:order of santa ignora