July 31, 2002, 4:37 pm
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What’s the deal with the skating thing?!!

This Russian mob boss fixed Olympic skating events . . . and this is huge headline news! Why? I’m sure it’s a big deal for the .4% of the world population that’s even watched an ice dancing event, but for the rest of us, don’t you figure there’s more important stuff going on – famine, generations old tribal warfare, disease epedemic, etc.?

It didn’t surprise me to see it as a top story on CNN.com, but then I got in my truck and was listening to public radio and heard the story. I really thought public radio was above all that, but no.

Because I’m a head case and frequently thinking in spiritual modes, I’m caused to wonder what major “news stories” are going on within the church while we waste our time on the petty items that we drum up into something spectacular. Never mind, I’m depressed enough as it is.

That’s all.

July 30, 2002, 3:56 pm
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Man, late Tuesday afternoon, and I still haven’t caught up from the weekend. This does not bode well. Need . . . help . . . must . . . blog . . . must release . . . pressure in brain.

O.k., the weekend: Saturday was a real marathon, but a fun one. Most of it was spent at a collegiate summit in San Diego – it was a first-time effort of some local Southern Baptist churches. I led out in a workshop for non-freshman collegiates. The title I was given was “Being God’s servant on campus; seeing the campus as your mission field.” It was a fun trial effort at a different approach to “teaching” for me. Instead of relying on the detailed outline I had created for the talk, I pulled out my brainstorming sheet with lots of colors and scribbles and lines and thought bubbles, and I just talked – and as various ideas applied to what I was discussing, I mentioned them. It was non-linear, but I felt very Spirit-driven in the process. I used the Old Testament narrative of Joseph in Egypt as a backdrop to discuss how a fully integrated, maturing lifestyle of faith was very applicable to life on the college campus. I tried to get the students to think outside of the conventional mindset – service on campus as something other than outright evangelism – join the Sierra Club or something, and be a missionary there! See yourself in roles of social justice. Deconstruct your cultural assumptions as you talk to people about life – what do you mean by church, faith, salvation, hope, God, truth, etc.? What do non-believers think these words mean? What do they think you think they mean?

I also had the honor of being asked by the good man, Jason Evans, to join in a couple of discussions about the college campus, and the challenges related to living in a different paradigm than our parents did. We mentioned the term postmodernism once or twice, but mostly just talked about relating to people and living out real lives in ways that are relevant and responsible. I believe these students were representative of the emerging generation – genuine and open to creating their own experiences of faith and life as a seamless flow.

Speaking of experiences – the workshops Jason and I did were dwarfed in size by the workshops at the summit on the subject of worship. While the glut of slickly packaged and marketed worship music is a concern to me, I am actually pretty pleased by the fact that the emerging generation has a heart for worship.

Saturday night I held a Student Ministry Summit for the youth, parents, and volunteers at my church. Open dialogue, a little bit o’ laughter, and lots of pizza – couldn’t have been all bad!

Sunday – oi. Led worship for the second week in a row. It was fun, but for someone with next to no musical talent, it’s so stressful. Hung out with my two young nephews in the afternoon – also fun, but tiring. Business meeting at church that night. Loooooooooong business meeting at church that night. Let me just say it straight – I ABSOLUTELY HATE THOSE THINGS!! Actually, some good things came out of the meeting – like a distinct move toward an effort to become more elder-driven in our polity (gasp! – a traditional SBC church with biblical elders!). We were also able to make some pretty clear statements about the danger of gossip and slander in the church.

I have no idea why I felt the need to journal about my life here, except that I needed to clarify it all in my confused little brain.

An unrelated, random thought . . .

I’m finding myself increasingly drawn toward the mystical life – one that I couldn’t possibly manufacture, and certainly not contain, control, or predict.

July 29, 2002, 10:40 am
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I could ramble here . . .

. . . about the latest in my ministry saga – more ups and more downs and more long, tiring, busy weeks. But at some level, to write and write about these things would be largely self-serving. What I all too rarely acknowledge is that my ups and downs and long, tiring, busy weeks are not just mine, they are also my wife’s. Michelle has been so very generous to me and our church. She consistently sacrifices time with me for the sake of others. It’s hard on her, and she tires, but she hangs on and stays with me through it all. She loves me with beautiful words daily, with her encouragement and enthusiasm. But more than anything, she loves me by being there. Always there. Always. I do a miserable job of appreciating her the way I should.

July 27, 2002, 12:20 am
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O.k., finally finished some preparations for this weekend. Man, it’s been a hectic week, but hopefully a productive one in kingdom terms.

I’m back in a mode of wondering what God’s role for me in this blessed mess might be. Should I stay or should I go now? If I take a survey view of the past 16 months of my life, it’s clear that God has opened up wonderful new avenues of thought and ministry opportunity. I’m just still grasping for the clues that show me how and where and when to apply myself appropriately to them.

I think I’ve become less sure of many things that I’ve taken for granted for far too long. I question the basics more. I quesiton my assumptions. I think less and less along linear lines. I am more honest with myself and others – even when it hurts. All of this has produced a long-term nagging discomfort . . . except that I’ve learned to have comfort in the unanswered questions – almost to the point that I’d love to never know the answers (until the day when my faith becomes sight).

One of the writers I’ve enjoyed so much over the years is Larry Crabb. He talks about this nagging discomfort thing a lot. I think I’m slowly figuring out how good it is to feel this bad.

July 25, 2002, 11:23 pm
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Preach it brother!

Good article on postmodern preaching over at theooze. The role of the preacher and the process of preaching has been a recent topic over at the postmodern theology discussion group. I really don’t like the term preaching as it is commonly practiced – a didactic proclamation directed toward the converted. The biblical model is that preaching is for those who are unconverted. Teaching is for the followers. Teaching has much more of an open-ended, common discovery kind of feel to it. It’s more experiential.

Hey wow, right after I wrote that stuff you just read, I gave a quick scan to this article over at next-wave. It says what I just stabbed at, only more thoroughly. It’s written by a San Diego guy . . . I gotta meet him!

July 25, 2002, 10:28 am
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Ronald McDonald made me do it!!

From the files of “I can’t believe people are really this stupid,” a lawsuit has been filed. Read the story for yourself. It never ceases to amaze me how we refuse to take ownership and responsibility for our own choices. After you read the story, think about how similar thought processes take place in the church all the time.

July 24, 2002, 9:49 am
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A learning opportunity . . .

I’ve been kicking around the thought of joining up with a learning experience called Etrek. Spencer Burke, of theooze fame is the man behind it. I’m not sure where I’d get the money or the time off for it, but it’s intriguing. They have three tracks offered – one for lead pastors, one for youth pastors, and one for church planters (headed up by Jason Evans).