What I Write About

I write about the infinite number of intersections between every day life and the good news of the God who has come to get us.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Wheat & Weeds

A couple of weeks ago at Rockbridge I was talking with a student who was struggling with her churched upbringing. She was particularly frustrated with the fact that the church seemed so apathetic towards the things that seemed to really matter. So many people there seemed to be so cold and lifeless. She still liked Jesus, but was really unsure about the church as an institution.

I pointed her to a parable that Jesus told. A man plants wheat in his field. An enemy comes along and plants weeds. His servants realize what's happened and they ask the master if they should pull up the weeds. Don't, he says. You'll accidentally pull up the wheat, too. Let's wait, let them grow up together, and we'll separate it out at the end.

This is the church.

Of course, it was like this from the very beginning. Jesus picks twelve. One of them is a traitor. He was a hypocrite--the gospel writers record that he kept the treasury and would regularly steal from it. You wonder if anyone inside or outside of the company of the apostles knew about Judas' thieving habits. You wonder why Jesus would suffer to be associated with such sleaze. Doesn't he have a reputation to uphold?

Judas and the disciples grow up together. And in the end one of them plunges into the darkness to betray the Lord of the cosmos.

If Jesus had a hypocrite in his company from day one why do we expect our experience of his people to be any different?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Celebrating Sarcasm Redeemed

I just found out that today is G.K. Chesterton's 134th birthday.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Chesterton was a brilliant writer who's words blend an incredibly quick wit and dizzying theological insight into one fun-filled reading package. Nobody leverages the power of sarcasm in more redemptive, God-honoring ways than Chesterton does. He gives me tremendous hope that some day by the power of the Holy Spirit, my own sarcasm might bless people as richly.

I've only read two of his works: Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. He also wrote a bunch of fictional works--mostly mysteries. And I don't agree with everything he says. He's certainly not a big fan of the Protestant Reformation (and really, given that the Reformation has produced Joel Osteen as one it's outcomes, I'm starting to see his point) and there are other minor places where I would beg to differ.

But if you're a person who fashions themselves to be an intelligent, nuanced objector or struggler towards issues of faith, you could do no better than to give Mr. Chesterton a read.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hard to Say Goodbye

Today's post is dedicated to our good friends Mike and Michelle McClure who are probably in the car on the way to their new life in Austin as I type.

Mike pulled up to our driveway in Richmond, Virginia five and a half years ago. He had just graduated from UNC and was trying his hand at this InterVarsity staff worker business. He was to intern and train under me for a year at Virginia Commonwealth University. His fund raising had come along slowly. So Kelly and I offered to have him live with us to cut down on his expenses and get him to campus quicker.

Since that time, the pictures of the major events and milestones of our lives are like a "where's Waldo" picture game featuring Mike (and later his wife Michelle) McClure.

Mike stayed on staff for just that one year, then ventured into the business world. He met his wife Michelle in our kitchen at a party. We got to know Michelle along with Mike as their relationship developed and grew.

Our oldest child Davis was born a couple days before Thanksgiving, 2003. Mike and Michelle were engaged and already on the Thanksgiving day guest list. The rest of our families joined them. We brought Davis home on Thanksgiving day to the families and Mike and Michelle. Fitting, really. A couple of weeks later, one of Davis' first public outings was to Mike and Michelle's wedding that I had the privilege of being a groomsman in.

After some business-world work in Richmond, Mike decided to pursue business school back at UNC. Several months later, Kelly and I decided to accept the position of IV staff team leader back at UNC. We chose our houses without consulting but we ended up being within a mile and a half of one another.

Mike and Michelle helped us to welcome Zoe into the world six months after we all arrived in Chapel Hill. This past fall, when Kelly went into Labor at 4:30 a.m, we called Mike and Michelle to come over at that ungodly hour to be there for our kids when they woke up. They loved the chance to serve us and love on our kids--even at 4:30 a.m.

Mike just finished up grad school and the Lord was good to respond to all of our prayers as he landed a sweet job at the University of Texas in Austin.

Mike and Michelle have shared the most continuous, in-the-same-place-history with our family of anyone in our lives right now. Saturday night we shared several hours together reminscing and putting off good-byes until we were all too tired to ignore that ache any more. We prayed for one another and gave deep, sad, glad hugs.

Blessings, my friends, as you head to Texas. Thanks for sharing so much of life together for these past five years.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Grab-Bag Re-entry

Back in the saddle today, here's some thoughts to cover the past three weeks:

*For two of the past three weeks, I was at Rockbridge, IV's year-end, week-long summer conference for students. Students get to choose from a number of different tracks to engage with different topics from learning how to lead small group Bible studies to sharing their faith to studying Scripture more deeply on their own.

Once again but especially this year, I was darn proud to be a part of an organization that offers students quality, thoughtful, thorough, nuanced, creative instruction while allowing good space for students to wrestle with key issues like politics, sexuality, pluralism, and leadership.

I also really loved the group of UNC students we took with us--115 strong, we had lots of fun being together without being too obnoxious.

*I watched two movies of note over the past couple of weeks that I'd recommend: I Am Legend and No Country for Old Men. I was drawn to the former by my love for apocalyptic/survival stories. I enjoyed the latter for how it messed with my head.

*Summer time is here, which makes me happy. I've got lots of good books waiting to be read and plenty of other work to do get ready for the fall. I'm currently reading Lesslie Newbiggin's The Light Has Come, which is his commentary/exposition on the gospel of John. If you're currently or ever reading John on your own, this would totally be worth the investment.

*If you're someone who tracks the blog for family posts, you might have noticed that it's been a while since I've posted any pictures of the kids. This is because of a growing nagging sense that posting pictures of my kids on the internet for anyone to see opens them up to creepy people. I'm hoping to post several pictures of my family from the last several weeks on my Facebook page. That way only folks who I've more or less approved can see them. If you're interested in the family pics (and you're not a creepy stalker), friend me up on Facebook and look for those to come soon.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Blogger Vacation

In case you're still checking in, just a heads up that I'm on blogger sabbatical until sometime next week.

That means more time for you to spend doing something productive with your life! You're welcome!

Talk to ya'll soon.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

And I thought I had a Weird Job...

So imagine packing up your life and hitting the road for a school year on a quest to see just about every major (and many minor) universities that you could think of?

That's basically what Benson Hines is doing. He interviewed me last week in his quest to get as much information as possible about campus ministry styles and flavors from different organizations. He told me he hopes to write a book that will raise the value and profile of campus ministry in church world.

Which, of course, I'm all for.

A lovely chap, check out his site: exploringcollegeministry.

Friday, May 02, 2008

James v. Itunes

Yesterday I was working feverishly behind my computer screen writing talks and organizing year-end stuff. And so, of course, I had my Itunes MP-3 player on shuffle all day long.

One particular song transition in the shuffle was a bit jarring: going from Handel's Hallelujah Chorus (downloaded this past Christmas) to Kanye West's "Gold Digger" (downloaded in a moment of weakness last fall).

The movement from worship to frivolity coming out of the same speakers within seconds of one another reminded me of a favorite passage in James 2:
9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God's likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
So I'm thinking that James probably wouldn't be a big fan of my Itunes playlist...at least when it's on shuffle.