Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I wonder if your relationship with your siblings ever change much. I am in the mountains of New Mexico visiting my parents with the kids, and saw my brother and sister-in-law for a few days before they left this morning. The routine with my brother didn't deviate much:

* We tried to dunk each other in the pool
* We played video games late into the night (conquering new territory, albeit electronic)
* We discussed the things that are coming up in our immediate future - his building a new house and my move to Pittsburgh

It doesn't take us long to fall into this pattern when we are together, and we enjoy it as it usually good-natured and seems to reinforce the bonds that are there (even the time we were wrestling in the winter, trying to force the other person into the yellow snow left by the deer). I can imagine us, me about 75 and he 65, as we throw out our backs seeing who can lift the heavier weight (ala Manenbaughns on Seinfeld).

This pattern of life is comfortable, but when things change, or maybe even when they need to change, something always seems to be lost as the patterns shift, there is a time of uncertainty as both sides feel their way around again, and new patterns emerge.

I've been thinking about discernment lately. Seeing the patterns of relationships, the intertwining of the paths and the open spaces where we tread with other people. This is one of the areas of the stories of Jesus that fascinate me, how he could see to the heart of those patterns. He could understand the motivations and the perceptions, and then challenge those connections that we have with each other. He was a disturbing and destabilizing force.

Discernment. I believe some people are just naturally better at it, and some better because they work at it. I think we who try to follow in the footsteps of Jesus are called to work on their discernment. The problem is that it is so easy to use what we know about the patterns around us to manipulate them into strenghtening our own position. I suppose that is where wisdom comes in, being able to challenge the patterns around us so that it benefits all, even at our own expense. That may be the toughest when it includes looking at the ones that are closest to us, and the patterns will affect our own.

There are some forces in life that challenge us. My brother and his wife are expecting their first child, and that no doubt will mess with the patterns of their life, and those of us around them, from here on out.

So, tell me, how do you think we can get better at this discernment with a tad bit of wisdom thrown in?


Digg this

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


My daughter wrote the following poem. She is always writing something, and this time she chose to do something clever and funny (she's only 8!):

Little Lilly Licker had the hic, hic, hiccups.
She hic'ed all day and she hic'ed all night.
Little Lilly Licker had the hic, hic, hiccups
And that is all that she could hic, hic, say.


Digg this

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sensory Challenge

This BBC site has a fun quiz to take on your senses. I scored an 11 out of 20, so at least I'm not a sensory dope, but was just "OK". I did best on the food and vomit questions - go figure...


Digg this


I had the honor of officiating Mike Miller and Christine Johnson's wedding this past weekend, and it was a blast. They had a beautiful and simple wedding. Someone noticed that I was listed as the "celebrant" for the wedding - what would I have been called at a funeral? A "depressant"?

One of the groomsmen who had come up for the wedding from Arkansas asked us during the rehearsal dinner if we had any funny wedding stories. At my own wedding, it was such a blur for me that the only thing I remember is lighting the unity candle during a song, and then the choir sang like 5 verses of the song so Nancy and I were chit-chatting for quite a while by the candle. At my sister's wedding, the minister who performed the wedding kept calling her by some other name and she had to keep reminding him who she was. At my brother's wedding, I was the minister but bumped the table that held the unity candle and almost knocked it over. Lighting the church on fire probably would have been memorable.

Bruce Black, the Sr. Minister at Fairfax Church of Christ, has tons of great wedding stories, including one in which the people that were getting married were clowns. And yes they did.

Have any good wedding stories of your own?


Digg this

Monday, May 21, 2007

Update of Job!

We have officially accepted a job! I will be working with the North Hills Church of Christ in Pittsburgh, PA. Honestly, I had no idea how gorgeous it is out there. We will be moving this summer - more to come!


Digg this

Saturday, May 12, 2007


So if you've noticed, I've been a bit absent here and there lately. We've been out of town, I've been preparing for Mother's Day, and I'll be out this next week as well as I've got another interview and I get the privilege of officiating a good friend's wedding next weekend. Give me ten days, and I'll be back. Until then, stay dry (or is it just us in West Texas that has gotten the constant deluge of rain for the past two weeks?).


Digg this

Friday, May 04, 2007

Disorientation and Honesty

My friend Richard Beck reminded me of this quote from Walter Brueggemann:

“It is a curious fact that the church has, by and large, continued to sing songs of orientation in a world increasingly experienced as disoriented…It is my judgment that this action of the church is less an evangelical defiance guided by faith, and much more a frightened, numb denial and deception that does not want to acknowledge or experience the disorientation of life…Such a denial and cover-up, which I take it to be, is an odd inclination for passionate Bible users, given the larger number of psalms that are songs of lament, protest, and complaint about an incoherence that is experienced in the world…I believe that serious religious use of the lament psalms has been minimal because we have believed that faith does not mean to acknowledge and embrace negativity” (The Message of the Psalms, 1984, pp. 51-52).


Digg this

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The People We Need (More on Conversations)

I love this audio clip of Two Rabbis (thanks to Wade Hodge's blog for providing it).

I love that story because we desperately need people in our lives to challenge what we are doing and thinking. But at the same time, it is so hard to receive challenges, much less ask for them.

I have a wonderful relationship with a friend here in town, JJ, in which it never fails that we argue over theology every time we get together - and we love it! Nancy and I also have a couple friend in which we will occasionally disagree about something, and then we hug and keep moving along.

Somehow you just have to get over the fact that it is ok for people to disagree with you; besides, you're probably wrong or need to think about some issues from different angles, and you can't unless you can have those kind of conversations. I suppose the trick is determining which people really do mean it or take it personally and which don't.

I heard a quote about a decade ago from Bart Campolo that our theology changes over time, yet our faith is what is truly important. Distinguishing between the two is important. If you don't like people challenging your thoughts, then maybe you are relying on having perfect ideology rather than a loving relationship, and frankly I don't know anyone who has a perfect ideology.

Have you spoken with someone lately that come from a different place or just thinks differently? How do you challenge yourself so that you continue to grow?


Digg this