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Showing posts from 2009

My Favorite of 2009 - Music

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Derek Webb - Stockholm Syndrome

Derek's never been afraid of controversy and his latest is no exception. But of crazy and catchy electronic sounds and lyrics, Derek album covers a huge gamut of hot button issues, such as consumerism, date rape, the war and the way Christian treat homosexuals. Not only is it musically creative, but it stirs the mind and the heart. That's exactly why it's on list.



Steven Curtis Chapman - Beauty Will Rise

Let's be honest, SCC is old for the music industry, even the Christian music industry. Dude's been around for years. But there is a reason. He's just writes great music.

In the wake of his daughter's tragic death, I think we all wondered what his next album would be like. And it was amazing. The only way to first listen to this album is in one sitting, uninterrupted, where you can hear every lyric and every crack in his voice. (And don't forget the tissues.) Every song is about Maria, his family's wrestling with God's…

The Answer Man

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This semester I read a great book, A Matrix of Meanings, that significantly altered the way I view pop culture. And today I had had the experience of watching a movie through the matrix of meanings the authors write about.

In celebration of finishing up my finals for the semester I spent the afternoon watching The Answer Man, a tale of a reclusive famous author who wrote a book 20 years ago that people still remember and adore. According to his literary agent, he owns 10% of the "God" market, all because he wrote about the questions he asked God, and answers he claimed God gave him. Jeff Bridges and Lauren Graham are adorable in their roles, and much a the script is predictable. But every once and awhile, a small gem would appear.

Bridges plays the author, Arlen Faber, who's become a recluse in the 20 years since his success, hiding from the fact he made the whole bit about talking to God up. The character also lost his father to Alzheimer's five years ago, and it…

Seminary and Money

I hate that those two words even have to go together. But it's a very real issue I face every single day.

When I first left my full-time job and moved to St. Louis, the first thing that scared me to death was the lose of a paycheck. It's hard when your bank account first empties all the way, and you still have groceries to buy for the month, or gas to put in your car (the very car that you have to own in order to get to work (Don't get me wrong, St. Louis actually has a great public transportation - I love the Metro. But the closest station is actually just up the street from where I work, which is 11 miles away from where I live. Not having a car just wasn't an option for me.)

And it's not as if I made that much money before, anyway. Graphic Design sounds really cool, but it pay very little. But it was a regular pay check I could count on. I went from working 50 hours a week @ one full-time and one part-time job to working 10-15 hours a week as an intern to fulfill …

Evergreen

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Me and the trees, losing our leaves
Falling like blood on the ground
I want to be evergreen
Everything dies, I know last night
Part of me wasn't around
I want to be evergreen
Yeah, evergreen...

Waiting, and listening
Hoping and missing all of our time left alone
I'm the one cutting the rope
Frostbite in winter, 'cause like a splinter you come and follow me down
I'm the one cutting the rope

Holiday end, I'm here once again, and I'm left alone on the bus with my
head on the ground, in hopes that I'm found by you
this time around

The sun will rise soon and tackle the moon
Chasing it still in the sky
All that I've got is tonight
Excuses and reasons, and now tis the season
For all that I never got right
All that I've got is tonight

Holiday end, I'm here once again, and I'm left alone on the bus with my
head on the ground, in hopes that I'm found by you
this time around

The night is a crow, saying come hold me
All that I know is that I've been lonely for thee
All…

Breathe In Breathe Out

I walked outside this morning, bundled up in a couple of sweatshirts, my coat, a scarf and my slippers. It was 6am and I sat on the porch swing hanging *under* our porch. I started to swing. I watched a few lone cars traveling west on 1-64, I saw the sun come up in the reflection on the chapel windows. I took a breath...

and then I smelled it. Winter.

This is my first Thanksgiving without my family. I realize this is something I need to prepare myself for, because it's likely the Lord will take me far, far away from them after I finish my degree. But sitting on that swing this morning, shivering under all my layers, trying hard to forget that I live in a city... I didn't want to be here. This is the first time I can honestly say that being in St. Louis wasn't what I wanted for the moment. Being away from what I know and where I am most comfortable is not where I wanted to be.

The smell of winter has its own life. It's crisp, cold, clean. For me, it's always held a pro…

Winter

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This is the winter I am used to. Driving on a gravel road, looking to my right or left and seeing the tracks of a combine, a truck or a tractor in the field. The shelter of trees in the background tell me that somewhere nearby is a house or a farm, even if you can't see it. These trees speckle a landscape of flat land, rolling hills and spacious skies. The bright sun doesn't offer much warmth, and there is the presence of bitter wind. The ground a usually dull shade of brown, dying form the frost, the cold... the winter. The winter's are harsh in Nebraska. But to me, they are worth it.

Winter in St. Louis is very different. It's cloudy, damp, and kinda sad. Things are green, red, yellow. But not brown. The birds are still outside chirping, you can still go outside without a coat (usually a scarf will suffice, maybe some gloves on an usually cold day). Always take an umbrella or wear your raincoat. Invest in rainboots or you'll spend two or three seasons with wet sh…

Why Be Vulnerable?

I’m good a keeping people at arms length. I’m fully aware of how this isn’t healthy behavior, but over years and years of getting hurt, I’ve found keeping people at arms length to be my survival technique.

My fear of being hurt can be controlled by me – by how close I let people get.

So as I think about chipping away at this wall, of letting go of this control, I cannot help but ask myself why? Why do I have to do this? Why is it important to be vulnerable with others? Why do I need to? What are the benefits?

Any thoughts?

Grieving the Loss

A common term I hear around the seminary, mainly from counseling students, is the idea of “grieving the loss.” I hadn’t taken much time to find out what it meant, nor did I assume it was something I needed. Until last week.

I have the opportunity to take advantage of free counseling that the seminary provides for students. My counselor is an intern going through the Masters in Counseling program, and her time with me is part of her degree. I’ve had nine sessions with her, and I’ve found her to be insightful, thought provoking, and just really good at what she does. But had my counseling really helped me very much? Not really. It helped me understand myself a little better, helped me get over not being willing to talk to another about my struggles, but that was about it.

Then God kicked me in the can.

In one of my classes I am learning about my identity as a leader in the church. Last week our reading had a chapter about “understanding your tuning” i.e., knowing what your triggers are and…

The Process of Processing

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This last week and a half has been a trying, stretching and interesting one. A week ago last Friday I gave a sermon on Self-Justification (Galatians 2:17-21 was my text). I had to give a shortened version of that sermon today for another smaller group of women. Last Friday I lead worship for a group of 70 or so women and if anything in the A/V area could have gone wrong, it did. (Plus my guitar broke three days before, so I was using someone else’s). Then today my Administration and Leadership in the Church class had the results of a “Leadership 360” test I asked several people to evaluate me on. Fun.

Those are just the simple, logistical aspects of what I’ve experienced, never mind a dozen other little things like conflict with a logo I designed for a church ministry event, a tough meeting establishing rules for the church newsletter which I design, an major “ethical” decision I had to make regarding said newsletter, and all the church politics that go along with that. Needless to sa…

The Time Traveler's Wife

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Movies that are simply stories… with very little plot and action… can be hit or miss for me. Sometimes I relish the story, loose myself in it and enjoy the experience. Then sometimes I spend the 2 hrs in the theatre wondering when the point of the movie will begin only to find out there wasn’t one.

Whose to tell how one hits the mark and the other doesn’t? My mood? The company I’m with? The environment? I don’t know. It’s simply a puzzle to me.

The Time Traveler’s Wife is a simple story. And when the story is simple, you rely heavily on the depth of the characters and their relationships with each other to draw you in. That somewhat easier to do in a book than it is to do on screen with a limited amount of time. I think that’s what was missing for me in this – the nature of the story meant telling things backwards, which is fine, except that the story is about their relationship. Watching it unfold for one person backwards, while for another it’s already happened is tricky business.

R…

New Post

I've got a new post up at my new blog.

Complementarianism vs. Egalitarianism

I'm Moving...

over to wordpress. I feel the need to refocus ... or maybe I'm just getting antsy.

This may be temporary, because I am used to blogger. But in the meantime, you can find me here.

Stockholm Syndrome

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I've had it for almost a week now and I can't stop listening. It's incredible.

Relationships

I read a book this last semester called The Relational Way: From small group structures to holistic life connections (by M. Scott Boren) for a one week class I had in January. The author talks about how there are four spaces or distances that determine how a person relates to others.

1.) The Public Space of Belonging
2.) The Social Space of Belonging
3.) The Personal Space of Belonging
4.) The Intimate Space of Belonging

Before I talk about these spaces, let me preface it by reminding you that Presbyterians... or maybe just the people around here, are really good at talking about their sin

There is pressure here for everyone to be in my intimate space of belonging. So much of it could be due to the season of life seminary is, but I am not really comfortable with that. As I realized this intimate space of belonging wasn't what was actually bothering me, I started to look at relationships differently.

To define the different spaces...

The public space of belonging is about connecting with a…

Laughing at God

Who'd thought Regina Spector would have a hint of reformed faith in her music?

It's funny what affects us...

What a great way to start my day.

Carlos, over at ragamuffinsoul.com posted last night about leaving his great and wonderful job aa Creative Programming Director at Buckhead Church.

So, I'm going through my reader this morning, see the post and so I head over there to see what the deal is. Per usual, God is doing something awesome, and I won't explain it here 'cuase it's too complicated.

But this exchange in the comments? Was a great way to start my day.

Sire's comment: "Carlos, you are a brave man."

Carlos' reply: "No, Sire. Brave would be staying when God says go."

Great quote...

"The problem is in the human heart, not in the gifts of God." - Jerram Barrs

Review of Mat Kearney's City of Black and White

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My plan is to write my thoughts as I listen to each song. There seems to be no other way to really justify doing this review for such a long-awaited album (for me, anyway) and from one of my favorite artist, if not my top artist, which is saying a lot for someone like me who listen to way too much music.

I'm rating each song on a scale of 1 - 10. I wish I'd thought to do this at first listen, but maybe it will be better now that I've heard it a few times and can look for the layers. Alas, we shall see what comes out. FYI, I have the deluxe edition, which I pre-ordered two weeks ago, but I think it's still available on itunes.

1. All I Have

This song seems primed for radio play. It's a nice and easy arrangement, very radio-friendly, with his pop vocals in full-effect. Interestingly enough, though, the song seems "happy" but a lot of the lyrics are sad. "Tired of the same song everyone's singing/I'd rather be lost with you instead." While mo…

Women in the Church

N.T. Wright is a highly regarding theologian in the PCA/EPC circle in which I now run. As many times, since I've been in St. Louis, that I've heard arguments against women leading in the church, I was shocked to find Wright's position on this considering his fame in such a traditional circle.

Wright has connections to the Anglican church, a denomination known for it's liberal stance on several main issues including pacifism, view of scripture, etc. (J.I. Packer left the Anglican church, FYI, just last year). I realize within every denomination there is typical a far left and a far right. But knowing the regard people around here have for Wright, I am curious as to what they would say about this video.

Because it kinda makes me want to stand up and cheer.

You know what I love about....

living in a big city?

Is seeing previews for movies like this and knowing I get to see them the weekend they open. Yea!

I've been waiting for this day...

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for a very, very long time.












More after I've had a full listen!!!

Top Ten Things I Love About House

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10.This episode. Broke my heart.

9. His T-Shirt collection (mostly vintage, and somehow they all seem to do with death..)

8. The completely unrealistic medical traumas (one of my small group members is a doctor and he told me that none of the stuff they talk about on the show is even possible. awesome.)

7. House's musical ability

6. The stuff that makes me laugh.

5. The opening credits. I LOVE that song.

4. Jesse Spencer's accent

3. The Wilson/House dysfunctional friendship

2. Hugh Laurie's scruffy beard

1. His cell phone ring is Mmmm Bop by Hanson. That is, simply, the greatest thing ever.

Initiating

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I've discovered something about myself recently that feels insurmountable.

I've been taking a class on Wednesday nights at my church on the book The Peacemaker by Ken Sande. As we finished up the book as a class, the last time we spent together was looking at confronting those who've hurt us and forgiving those who've hurt us. The further we delved into the material, and the deeper our discussion become, I realized why I've become a peace-faker instead of a peace-maker: I'm afraid of initiating in relationships.

I have on idea when this started, but one of my first thoughts is to blame it on Elizabeth Elliot. She was all the rage when I was in college, and I had the chance to hear her in a debate at the Urbana Missions conference regarding a woman's place in the church/mission field. She has very traditional views on a woman's place anywhere - in fact, she actually said during the debate that should would not speak in church unless she was with her husban…

Lectio Divina

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Lectio Divina (praying through scripture) isn’t something I practice a lot. I first tried it last fall, as part of a book I read for my youth ministry class: Contemplative Youth Ministry (highly recommended, by the way.) I taught last week and will teach tomorrow the “Prayer of the Heart” lesson from Gospel Transformation at my church, so the practice of it came back into my life. So this is what happened….

I got comfortable, squished pillows all around me so they were just right. I opened up my bible to Matthew (we were to pray through The Lord’s Prayer) and put it in my lap. I focused on clearing my mind, quieting my heart.

Clearing my mind took FOREVER. I keep thinking of all the stuff I had to do. (I have a running list in my head) I thought about encounters I had with people throughout the week, good and bad. I thought about my family, classes, church, just stuff. And about 7 or 8 times, while trying to clear my mind, I had to jolt myself out of these thoughts and remind myself of …

Idolatry

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(Okay... first I must say, about this image to the left. The Golden Calf in cereal? Awesome.)

I'm just finishing up a class on the book of Joshua, which has been a wonderful and fruitful experience this semester. (I was actually nostalgic last night when I finished up David M. Howard's commentary last night... my roommates thought I was a little nuts).

There are so many things I've taken away from the book, but one thing my professor said this morning will stay with me, especially in light of the bible study I've been doing since August with some of the women in my church. He said, "We make our idolatry so minimal."

World Harvest Mission wrote a study calledGospel Transformation, and in it there is one main lesson on identifying your idols (there are subsequent lessons to follow as well). That idol lesson is brought up almost every week when we meet; it has had such a profound impact on all of us. Then my professor's words this morning... just so much for…

Messed Up

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I've had the privilege to intern under, for the last year, a woman who defines the term "living in grace". Each week when she speaks to the women of the church I am in awe, not only of how she relates to them, but of how God uses her in so many areas of her life.

She's not afraid to admit she's messed up. She's not afraid to speak of her own sin and her own idols. She is grieved by them, her heart breaks for them. But she reminds us that Christ is bigger than them. And the women respond in ways I've never experienced. I see her speak into their lives and have watched how they have changed over the last few months. They relate to her struggles - they understand them, and they peel away the layers of their own sin to work and process together.

It's an amazing thing to see.

It's finally looking like Spring in St. Louis. The days are getting warmer (finally up to 80 degrees today) and as I walk from my street parking to the church or around campus on my…

Deliberate Sin

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My pastor's been preaching a series on the fathers of the faith (the ones in Scripture, not the ones I hear all too often about here at seminary re: all the John's - Bunyan, Calvin, Owen, Edwards...) A few weeks ago he preached on King Solomon and something he said is still with me, and will be with me for a very long time. (If not the rest of my life.)

Dan (my pastor) was talking with a friend who asked if all sins are forgiven. He was asking about a specific sin (in this case, it was adultery) and was wondering just how much he could 'get away with' so to speak. My pastor's response was this: "Deliberate sin is perilous to the soul."

Now that's something to pause on.

My sin, deliberate or not, will always be forgiven. This is what I say to myself when I am at the crossroads of temptation. I haven't sinned yet, but it's right there, tempting me. The choice is before me and I know that I want to do the thing which leads to the sin. And I feel…

Sunday's Here

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The resurrection is not an event, it is a person.

He is risen.

He is risen indeed.

Disequilibration

Something is not right in my spirit right now. I don't know what that means, exactly, but I feel it in my gut. And I need to process.

What is disequilibrating to me, in my life, right now? My professor spoke about disequilibration in class a while ago, how Jesus used it to teach, how we much use it to teach. People tend to make the most progress when something doesn't makes sense, he said, because in it community is created.

Leaving community out of it for right now, let's focus on what kinds of affects disequilibration has on your life. For someone like me, it doesn't go over well, especially at first. I like being comfortable. I like safety. I do okay with change... as long as I know there is comfort right around the corner.

And I am learning that in order to follow Jesus I am never going to be comfortable again. And I just don't think I will be able to handle that.

I don't think I really know what is going on here. Actually, no. I do know what is going on here. …

PS22 Chorus VIVA LA VIDA by Coldplay

I wanna be their music teacher.

HT: Kansas Bob

Elsewhere

Elsewhere in blogland: Tony at don't call me veronica has an interesting post titled "stuff pastors don't talk about". I found his respond to Women's role in the church and home particularly short and sweet:

"A woman's role in church and home is to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength - and second, to love their neighbor as they love themselves.

Oddly enough, this is the same role a man is to have.

Wouldn't it be great if we lived that out? And as we did, wouldn't we find that we were complementing each other in such a way that we felt like an equal, not because we were the same but because the two had become "one flesh?"

Hmm...

Perhaps complementarianism and egalitarianism aren't competing ideas after all."

Commenting Policy

Sorry, everyone. Due to an unfortunate comment situation that happened yesterday, where some derogatory, inappropriate and very un-Christlike comments were made, I have now disabled anonymous comments, and enabled comment moderation.

Not a big deal for most of you wonderful people who read this faithfully. For me, however... well, but I just never wanted to go there. I hoped to create a place where differing views from mine or others are welcomed and not an exercise is tearing one another down unnecessarily, without moderation or needing an account. I've been blogging for over 3 years now and have never had a situation where I felt this was needed. But when someone attacks the character of a person they don't know, that is unacceptable to me.

All that said, I am taking a adapting a commenting policy from Shane over at Caffeinated Thoughts: Thanks, Shane.

-It is perfectly okay to disagree with me,and that isn't why I deleted the comments I did - though he/she might think that&…

Why I'm Happy, Why I'm Not Satisfied

Nice.

HT: Landon

So We Do Not Lose Heart

My friends the Browns are in Africa with AIM. Andy works with On Field Media and here is there most recent project, a short film about the need for theological education in this war-torn country.

I'm so proud I can hardly stand it. Andy is so good at what he does, and he captured the heart of the Rwandan people in a very moving way. (Oh, and the cinematography isn't too bad either.)