Friday, June 01, 2007


"All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." Acts 2:4

for some reason, this week i've been thinking a lot about, and praying for, the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. i have not asked the Spirit to help me unravel revelation, have the hands of a healer or speak in hazy generalities about the future. but i am desperate for him to help me lavish love on my fussy baby, place a number of clients in their first jobs and somehow find a way to pay the bills, accompany my family and still serve the church. come Holy Spirit, come.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


have you ever dreamed about having a tryst with ving rhames that is just about to escalate from petting to pounding until you are interrupted by an awkward confluence of thoughts of your wife, the fact that ving loves big momma's house and the unexpected intrusion of a scroungy, fishnet sporting, man-marry laden friend?

yeah, me neither.
open discussion

due to convoluted circumstances i would rather not discuss preston was not circumcised until this sunday. because preston was already six weeks old by that time neither the urologist nor the snip-the-tip certified nurse practitioner would circumcise him without general anesthesia. since the pix and i were less than enthused about putting our baby under, we searched for circumcision alternatives and eventually found ourselves at the home of a conservative Jewish mohel. for obvious reasons i was worried that the circumcision would be a horrifying experience that i would quickly want to repress. however, almost as soon as we entered the mohel's home, i realized that this experience was going to be special.

when we arrived one of his mohel's daughters warmly welcomed us in, served us a drink and invited us to wait in the family's living room. two sides of the family's living room were filled with leather bound volumes of the midrash and talmud, there were ornate mezuzahs prominently displayed on every door frame and when the rabbi finally arrived he welcomed us as warmly as he would old friends.

after the rabbi sat my child on his own pillows and circumcised preston with great care he took my baby, bounced him on his shoulder and consoled him with yiddish folk songs. i fear that i am not doing any justice to this experience. it was unique, beautiful and, in a very real sense, peculiar.

in both the torah and the new testament, in passages such as exodus 19:6 and 2 peter 2:9, God demands
that his people be a peculiar community. when i sat in the rabbi's house, received his family's amazing hospitality and later had the opportunity to speak with him about the way faith shapes both our worlds, i realized that this is a man who has followed this call to peculiarity in a very remarkable way.

over the past couple of days, i've reflected on that unique experience and have begun to wonder, what is it that makes followers of Christ a peculiar people? in sum, i am quite curious how living the way of Jesus uniquely enables Christ followers to bless the world and work for the reconciliation of all things.

so maybe you can help me here. what does the peculiar way of Jesus look like? how does this way of Jesus empower us to serve others in unique and beautiful ways like the mohel and his family served my little family on sunday? i'm interested to hear your thoughts and reflections.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


in either 2000 or 2001 dr. eugene lowry, the author of the homiletical plot, an essential and blessedly short work on narrative preaching, gave the bebb preaching lectures at soybean bible college in mount pulaski, illinois. although i was unable to attend the lectures because i was in the throes of dating a girl i would later dump at an airport, my good friend mark made the trip out to mount pulaski and returned with tapes of dr. lowry's lectures.

i think i lost those tapes two moves ago and i don't really remember much of what lowry had to say. however, i do remember one snippet of a lecture in which he expressed his frustration at teaching young preachers elementary exegesis.* in his frustrated little aside, lowry said something like this:

"when i teach young preachers how to properly exegete a text they are constantly asking me how i determine the 'solution' of each story. that, i tell them, is your problem. when you are interpreting the bible you don't go looking for solutions, you go looking for trouble."

when i first heard this suggestion from dr. lowry i was a bit troubled. after all, i had long thought that the reason i was being sent out as a sheep among wolves was because i had the solution to sin and all the corruption therein right there in that black, calfskin leather, gold edged new american standard bible. if i couldn't be prepared to always give a reason for the faith that i had why, i wondered, should i minister at all?

but now i'm a little older and many of the certainties that were once set like steel in my eyes have long since melted into questions. now i look back all those millenia and i see abram as he wondered whether he should leave the only land he knew in order to follow a voice no one else had heard and smirk when i think of that fugitive jacob offering the Lord fidelity as long as the holy one ponied up for the wine, women and song jacob was lusting and looking for the in far country. i also think of Jesus, who ignored the politicians who appeared to hold destiny in their hands and denounced as snakes the religious leaders who ultimately sealed his fate. it is in those moments, when i realize that these men and so many others encountered God in the midst of trouble, i begin to catch on to the edge of dr. lowry's wisdom.

some of you can, and perhaps have, found God among the certainties of theological systems and the robust strength of your christian traditions. rest assured that i'm glad you stand on such a firm foundation and are sure of things that you cannot see.

as for the rest of you, i hope you can find some measure of hope in dr. lowry's words. if you can't find God among the certainties that are oft proclaimed and the songs that have so long been sung go looking for him in the midst of trouble. throughout your life you'll find plenty of the latter and i suspect that you'll find He is there.

* which is a five dollar word for interpretation much like lexicon is a five dollar word for dictionary. in case you are wondering the answer is yes, most biblical scholars and theologians really do have a stick up their ass.