Thursday, June 30, 2005

Sweet corn, Michigan, Indiana

It seems like it was a week ago that I announced my resignation at the church. This week has felt endless already. On Monday morning we got up and started towards Michigan to retrieve our children from my mom's house.
We stopped in Evansville, IN to have lunch with Drew and his wife Resa. Drew is from Caruthersville. I've heard of him and known him for like 4 years, but never met him. Then we met up on line and starting reading one another's blogs. It's strange how the blogosphere can feel can make the world feel so strong sometimes. Lunch was great. Drew and I are alike in a lot of scary ways. Our poor wives sat there, trying to interject comments in the middle of our 100-MPH banter. It was all in all a good visit.
Next we took off towards Indianapolis to catch I-69 to Lansing. BTW Drew, there is NO short way to Indy from E-ville. Argh...
We finally arrived at my mom's house in Michigan at about midnight local time.
I went to sleep on a couch in the playroom where my kids were already asleep. In the morning my son Micah rolled over looking at me, then jumped up and ran over when he realized who I was (I sleep with a mask on because I'm a wimp.). We had a short visit of one day with my family. Yesterday morning we drove back to Dyersburg. It took nearly 14 hours. Unbearable. The kids were pretty well-behaved and it was a great trip.
This morning I got up at 5 to pick up some of my high school friends and be in the field picking corn by 6 AM. Three hours later we had sold 100+ dozens ears of corn and netted $340. Now that's easy work.

I'm getting ready to go to lunch with another high school friend in a bit. I started read Newbigin's The Gospel in a Pluralist Society last night. It's quoted enough that it's an important primary source to read.

Blessings on my readers.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

College Bound

All right. This morning I announced my resignation to the church body. They received it well. The elders are especially supportive of us. Since we're not moving anywhere we will have the unique option to become regular members and continue to attend TSC, but we'll see.
The craziest thing happened tonight. One of the deacons, with whom I wouldn't consider myself to be very tight, made an offer to contribute $5K a year to see me continue my education on the condition that when I attend seminary it be a seminary which he would see as evangelical. So, I'm off to college, it's paid for, and the Lord works in mysterious ways.
On top of that we have gained some new friends in the church since we began announcing our resignation. I guess now that we're leaving (maybe) people want to hang out with us.
Blessings on my readers, both of you.

Off to Michigan

Did I mention that we're headed to Michigan in the morning? Our kids have spent the last week at my mom's in Perrinton. So, if anyone's around the Lansing Area I would love to have some coffee, or even better, some Georgio's pizza.
If that sounds good, give me a call on my cell:

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The future

Tomorrow morning I will announce my resignation at the beginning of the worship service. I've been on staff at the church for almost five years. It's nothing bad or anything, it's just time. Over the past six months or longer Amy and I have talked and prayed about how I could finish my bachelor's degree. And we finally came to conclusion that the best thing for us to do would be to resign from one of my jobs and go to school full time. The hope is that that will limit the amount of time that we will have to struggle financially. When I told the elders they were supportive. They all could see that this was a good move for us as a family, even if it isn't easy or will be misunderstood by the church family.
This fall I'll be pursuing a BA in Philosophy at Southeast Missouri State University while I continue to live here and work part time directing Young Life.
What will this semester be like? Your guess is as good as mine.

One of the youthers heard early from an unnamed source about my coming resignation. He wasn't happy. We talked for about 35 minutes. And that was after he had vented.
Tomorrow will not be easy. For all but 3 months of our marriage we have worshipped and worked in this church. Please pray for us and pray for those hearing, that they would receive it well.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Young Marrieds Without Children

So, this week (since saturday) Amy and I are seeing what it would be like to be Young Marrieds Without Children. Our kids are in Michigan at my mom's house. Life is a bit more slow-paced with just the two of us. Yesterday we had to go to Jackson to get me a new cell phone. Apparently after about a year and a half a cell phone's software is outdated. What a racket. I gave in to the Man. Bought a new phone.
We went to the park last night and played croquet. We were supposed to have a couple of guys join us, but none showed up. Oh dread.
So we came to watch the Six Feet Under DVD that came in the mail yesterday. But the sleeve had the wrong disc in there. So now we have to wait until Disc 4 gets here. Shoot.
What else is there to say?
Tonight we're having our committee meeting at our house.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Hey all

I hate to do these sort "sell your friends out things" so if you're interested in earning a free iPod click here. I need a few referral in order to get mine. Woohoo. Blessings and good iPodding.

Faith Pilgrimage

Yesterday was a good sunday, even though it started way too early. We left our house around 5 AM. After picking up some breakfast, we got to the church building. We left the church building with a pretty big crowd around 6 AM.

Our trip yesterday was to visit two churches:
Greater Imani Church and Christian Center
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church

Man, I knew it was going to be a big culture shock both ways, but dang.
The first one (Greater Imani) is a large black church with a great ministry to men and really energetic music. And I mean, this church was black. (Jesus was black in the pictures in the foyer.) So, it was great. I especially appreciated the music and the sermon. The preacher in this church, Apostle, gave a great talk calling men to be real fathers to their children. This was a much needed sermon, and apparently his strong teaching is having quite an impact on the men of the black community in Memphis.
Next, we drove (quickly because we thought we were going to be late) about 10 minutes down the road to Annunciation. Unfortunately, Annunciation is currently meeting in their fellowship hall. They have set up the fellowship hall to reflect a normal greek orthodox worship setting. For the non-experienced when it comes to the eastern orthodox faith, every bit of the liturgy is sung or chanted. It was a very beautiful service. The idea of there being "a" Orthodox faith and practice was curious to me, given my point of view of western christianity, with its many flavors. Especially meaningful to me was the continuity of what the Orthodox church does. It has been approximately the same for roughly 2000 years. The roots of my own christian tradition go back no farther than the reformation. This is a faith tradition that never got involved in the reformation. I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon looking at what my ecclesiology reveals about the importance on place on my own self. In the eastern church, self is subject to the Tradition, the Fathers, and the Church. Also of interest was some stories I heard of a group of American Evangelicals (mostly from Campus Crusade) who converted to Orthodoxy after studying the Scriptures and reading the church fathers. I'll have to read their book : Becoming Orthodox

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


This past weekend we had our first Summer Faith Pilgrimage trip with our youth group. I was suprised that we had twelve kids plus parents meet at the church building at 8 AM to drive down to our local Episcopal church for the early service. It was great. You could tell that our kids were very interested. They responded well, and caught on to the general flow of the service. They seemed to appreciate it. After the service they were loving the stained glass windows. That's interesting, considering the movement several years ago to remove all religious images from churches to not bother young people and the unchurched. Anyways, after the service Father Jack, who used to work with youth primarily, visited with us and answered questions.
When we got back to our building we discussed the similarities/differences and what was most meaningful to us. We especially appreciated communion at the altar. Our church takes communion every sunday (in the Church of Christ tradition) but it seemed like the whole set up of the Holy Communion at St. Mary's was a bigger deal.
This sunday we are going to be visiting a couple of churches in Memphis: Greater Imani Church and Christian Center and Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church. We'll be at the early (8 AM) service at Greater Imani and then at the 10 AM Divine Liturgy at Annunciation. Then on to Huey's for lunch. Our kids are really excited about this trip, since it is the most varied of our church experiences. A large, predominantly black charismatic church followed by a hasn't-changed-in-roughly-1800-years orthodox church. It should give us a good "big picture" of God's church.
Blessings on my readers.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Hey, I just was tipped off to this site:
I went there and was appalled. This is about as low as nationalism/civic religion has sunk in America. Come on, guys. How can we see Bush unerringly as God's man in spite of his many verbal jousts and talk of holy war? This is no holy war! God forbid that Jeb run after GWB is done. I don't think this nation could survive another eight years of the Bush clan.
This sticker campaign is one of the pretty good reasons the average American doesn't think much of Christianity or Christians. Hey- that's not Christ they're rejecting! It's us.

Spiritual Disciplines

I've heard it said before, but didn't pay attention: "If you don't have the spiritual disciplines learned, when you are presented with time for silence/solitude, you won't know what to do. Not all spiritual disciplines are for everyday, but they can be added to any day."
So, yesterday when I was driving up to Cape I found that the hour and a half drive was nearly done before I was done praying the Jesus Prayer, praying intercessions, and listening to the Gospel of John. By the time I got done it was time to get off at my exit.
That's not bragging. That's how one can lose themself in spending time without an agenda with God. I've never spent an hour and a half having devotions/bible study, but I was very enriched yesterday.
In other news, I am registered for this fall's classes. I went to a transfer orientation yesterday. I wasn't the oldest transfer student there. The campus was nice. I'm excited. I'm even excited about the prospect of an hour and a half in the car one way three days a week. The afternoon drive wasn't as nice, but it didn't feel very long.
Also of note, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair met yesterday and talked about beefing up aid to the world's poorest nations. I think this is the direct result of people of faith in this country and others praying that God would break our government's collective heart over the issue of poverty and HIV/AIDS. Oh, and the ONE campaign has Brad Pitt, too. Way to go, Brad.
I'm going to try and read Andrew Jones' stuff on "deep ecclesiology". Ecclesiology is one of my favorite interests.
Blessings on my readers. Especially you, Drew. Welcome back to blogdom.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

The Sacred Way

I am currently reading Tony Jones' The Sacred Way. It is definitely a worthwhile read. It is kind of a repeat, since I read his SoulShapers book more than a year ago, which is a youth ministry version of the same stuff published under emergentYS.
Reading this book reminds me, though, of spiritual disciplines I have picked up from different authors. It is interesting the way this all works. Everyone is kind of on pilgrimage, seeking something deeper in their faith life. I recall a spiritual director (one of the disciplines I've added to my life) telling me, "The longing is the next step, Levi." I wanted simple answers with 10-steps to holy living. Instead he encouraged that I allow the disciplines to change me and feed that longing that I was trying to figure out.
So, three and a half years later, I am still trying to allow the spiritual disciplines I have acquired order my day and draw me closer to God. I am still exploring new(old) spiritual disciplines to implement in my life and change my heart.
For me, the use of the Jesus Prayer in the morning on the drive across the river has been life-giving. Also, on my laptop wallpaper is a Greek Orthodox icon (not the computer kind) entitle "Christ the Lifegiver". Looking at this icon periodically through my day gives me peace and hope. Most nights Amy and I read through the Compline service from the Book of Common Prayer. There is something very reassuring in the words of that simple service of prayer, contrition, and hope.
I don't know if I've mentioned it, but this summer our youth group is going to do what we're calling a Summer Faith Pilgrimage. Tomorrow we'll have an introduction to church history as in "How'd we get all these faith traditions?" and "where are we now?" Then for six weeks we will visit churches of different faith traditions within Christianity, (our church is non/inter-denominational with a background in the Churches of Christ.) During the course of this time we will visit the early services of four local churches: Episcopal, Methodist, Baptist, Catholic and go out of town to experience worship at other churches we don't have in Dyersburg: Greek Orthodox, COGIC (the main church is in Memphis), and maybe some sort of seeker-sensitive megachurch. If anyone knows of a church in St. Louis that would be a good addition to this plan, leave a comment.
So, that's what we're doing. I hear people say that it is dangerous to take people's faith and appropriate the parts we like. I understand the danger in that, so we will be visiting regularly scheduled worship services with each of these bodies, and having question and answer times with a leader when it's possible. Right now I'm really excited to take our young people to the Greek Orthodox church. I talked to the priest the other day. He seemed excited to have us visit. We will be blessed and stretched, I'm sure. I will hopefully blog about some of these church visit experiences.