October 24, 2006

Brand New

Well, this summer I bought a new Optima Battery for a good price. I guess it had been sitting for too long, and it didn't work. I called Optima, went to Autozone, made the manager mad because I wouldn't let him put me off, and ended up with a brand new battery.

Right when I thought I had wasted money and would have to buy a new battery for the second time, I got this for nothing. Sweet deal.

I ordered my Cold Air, will put the headlights on, and hopefully be driving Sacramental soon.

October 21, 2006

Is Reformed Alternative Reality?

One of the fastest growing traditions among younger evangelicals right now is the reformed movement heralded by spokespersons like John Piper, Al Mohler, and Mark Driscoll. My friend Lucas has some good thoughts, which have got me thinking too about why the reformed tradition is catching so much momentum. One of Lucas' ideas is that Calvinism is strong because we live in a pluralistic society therefore a close-system religion is powerful. You don't have to listen or worry about anything else when you have all the answers, which 5 point Calvinism seems to do for evangelicals by providing answers for everything.

Here's my thoughts on why the reformed tradition has grown in strength for younger evangelicals. As the church, we live in a parallel and alternative reality to that which surround us. We are parallel in the sense that we live in the same world where we go to work, eat, sleep, send our children to school, and such. As a missional community though, we are to be different. The difference is our reality is shaped by a different narrative which takes its forms in song, sermon, community, ritual, tradition, doctrine, and beliefs that allow us to understand our reality so that when we face the alternative reality of the world, we can live counter-culturally.

Within our churches though, we find that our worship is informed and baptize by world. We've allowed culture to shape our ritual and song. This is why I think the reformed tradition is so strong. Within the reformed church you don't have to live alternatively, because your doctrine is very defined. Therefore, alternative reality takes shape in belief, but not practice. It's then easy to succumb to the "world's values of materialism and experiential consumerism, of narcissistic self importance, and personal taste, of solitary superficiality, and of ephemeral satisfaction (Dawn, A Royal Waste of Time, 335)."

Any community that desires to delineate itself and live a substantively different life from larger society must surround itself and maintain its own language, customs, habits, rituals, institutions, procedures, and practices that uphold this alternative reality. In this manner, the alternative life is nurtured and and encouraged in the face of pluralism. I think younger reformed evangelicals are doing the same thing that people in the emerging church are doing by looking at the church and seeing that it has failed to live in an alternative reality and thus lost all impact. Instead of reinventing the church for a pluralistic world though, the reformed movement allows for Calvinistic language and its alternative reality to effect itself in dogma. Orthodoxy is once again king, and orthopraxy is only secondary.

We must define and live in our alternative reality by knowing our story and practicing our rituals. It is easy to live in a tradition that has defined itself so narrowly and only reaches back 350 years. This is not an indictment to all reformed churches, but only an explanation of my viewpoint of why Calvinism has grown so strong as of late, especially among the younger materialistic, democratic, narcissistic generation that is my own.

October 20, 2006

And it starts! I finally got some time to put into the Mustang, and got it started. It was the fuel injectors, so after a rebuild and clean up fuel delivery is on par.

Couple things:

1. No Mufflers (therefore, the sound is not muffled...duh!), so its loud. I think my neighbors hate me.

2. No Idle. The idle air valve has been sitting for 10 years, so I'm thinking that's the problem. Also, the new throttle body needs to be adjusted. I have to keep on the throttle, and it's really not drivable until that's fixed.

3. No power steering. The pump has been sitting for over 10 years too, so it's probably shot. I definitely won't be driving it until the power steering is fixed.

4. There's some other minor things that need to be done (headlights, alignment, battery, mufflers) then I'll be driving Sacramental around.

I wasn't expecting the power steering to be out, and I was hoping that the Idle Control would be fine, but no. Oh Well, here we go again. At least it starts! Enjoy the video, Sacramental sounds sick.

October 19, 2006

Tallskinnykiwi on house church

Green Apple Mac

Make sure to watch the video...

And if you feel guilty about owning a Mac, (and we all know you'll never get anything else) make up for it by visiting here.

And just to package creativity and being green. sitting on trash.

Baptizing the Imagination

A recent article from the leadership blog hit on an important aspect of Christianity for leadership, discipleship, and for basically all aspects of life.

Discipleship usually focuses on two main realms: knowledge and skill. The problem with these two areas is that they can only go so far. Usually, both knowledge and skill come in the form of a boxed set, a model. We force people to move from model to book, or soup kitchen to homeless shelter. This isn't conducive to life though. Discipleship then becomes smothered by activity and life that is not centered on programs.

However, knowledge and skill based models, while necessary components of spiritual formation, both miss the imaginative aspect of the human spirit. And by ignoring the intuitive capacity of the mind the church has essentially surrendered people’s imaginations to the pop secular culture without a fight.
People are filled than with knowledge of God and how to "go" serve him where programs have been created.

Those filling the pews every Sunday may be full of information about God, and they may be expertly trained to obey God, but without an imagination enraptured by God they will be powerless to live the life he’s called them to. They simply cannot imagine living any differently than the culture around them
This may be my most recent kick here lately, but I do beleive that the church is in desperate need of imagination, not more discipleship or service projects. Imagination in itself is an act of worship and discipleship, and it is the only way life in the Kingdom can be sustained.

Evangelicals and African Commentary

Christianity today has listed the top 50 most influential books for evangelicalism. Some are scary (Left Behind, Purpose Driven Life), but some leave hope for us all (The Divine Conspiracy, Mere Christianity, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, Cost of Discipleship).

More importantly, I think, is this commentary coming out of Africa. I really think Western Christianity needs to listen to the voices of Christianity in the 2/3's world. Here are Scot McKnights salient points
  • Commentary on the whole Bible, every single verse. The only problem I see is that the authors are all educated in America and Europe, so I wonder if they write with Western motifs.
  • Essay cover a wide variety of subjects: scripture, translations in Africa, environment, debt, democracy, homosexuality, persecution, principles of interpretation, etc.
  • Specialized essays: cultural issues, dreams, female genital mutilation, AIDS and HIV, initiation rites, refugees, tribalism, widow inheritance, etc.
  • This commentary is written from a conservative evangelical viewpoint, thus it will be the equipping this generation to grapple with orthodoxy in their own context. In a way I hope this commentary is not at all defining, but only a starting point. The reason is, is that I believe we need some heresies, at least heresies against the Western church to be effective Christ followers in the new world, in the 2/3 world.

October 10, 2006


This site may make you blind or roll around on the ground while frothing.

Thank you for yet another tasteless and just plain bad Christian web site.

So what?

Yesterday, I was able to speak with someone else who attended Catalyst who is not in seminary. Here's a thought he had. After listening to speakers like Donald Miller and Rick McKinley, he said that he agreed and could get on board with what they were saying, but "how is that any different than what we are already doing? How is it different than our local missions, mission trips, etc" "I agree with them, but so what? What am I supposed to come back and do?"

I think this may be an example of a need for creativity. There exists a big difference between someone like Rick McKinley and John Maxwell. The difference is that Rick strattles much more if not fully stands in the p0stmodern paradigm of reality. This "so what" question addresses the narrative that was used by some of the speakers.

After Shane Claiborne of the Simple Way spoke, a person questioned him and basically asked him, "how can I be like you where I'm at." Of course these were not his exact words, but it was the jist of what he was saying. Shane said something to the effect of don't be like me, be like Jesus.

This is the problem, we need models, not stories. When we are trained to fight against creativity we need someone to tell us, "so what." Can we live without someone telling us so what? If so, what will that look like? Narrative, story, and no "so whats."

October 9, 2006

Pains of Creativity

After returning from Atlanta and the conference (Catalyst) I've had some time to reflect. Many of the subjects that were presented were interesting, but the usual presentations you would expect: culture, neo-church, passion, etc. More than anything, I wish some one would have presented over creativity or imagination. Some of the speakers hinted at this subject, but no one really fleshed it out. But then again, what was I looking for? or exactly what would they talk about?

I think more than anything, we as a church, especially ministers and leaders are in a crisis of imagination. Here's the problem though, we live in a culture that fights against imagination. We have television, magazines, education, jobs, titles, and roles to stand in or participate in. No one is allowed to fight against the structure, otherwise they are considered as a bad student or terrible employee. Instead of giving people grades or ultimatums, what are we to do?

As leaders, I don't think we begin with this question, but rather how do we cultivate creativity and imagination in ourselves? Something that I noticed at the conference was many people were looking for the model to take back to their church or how they could be "Shane Claiborne" or "Rick McKinley" to their church. Something that Rick said that has struck a cord in me was about Donald Miller. He said that Miller really is not all that much different than those in the crowd, except he "found his voice." This is what I need, my voice, the person I am to be to minister and live in the Kingdom of God.

October 5, 2006

Catalyst Day Two

Well, I meant to post some more up yesterday, but there has been no internet until tonight. Last night, did not deal so much with leadership, but mostly it dealt with culture and such issues in the church. I really enjoyed Rick McKinley, the author of A Beautiful Mess and Jesus in the Margins, and pastor of an emerging church at Portland, OR called Imago Dei. I think enjoyed him because he was funny. For the most part there's been nothing new. Everything that's been said I've read or learned along the way.

Today, at the actual Catalyst Conference was set up very differently. The best speakers I've heard so far have been a guy from the International Justice Mission. Besides that John Maxwell, Andy Stanley, and Jeff Foxworthy...yes that's right, JEFF FOXWORTHY...at Catalyst, a Christian leaders conference. It was awesome. We got preached to by a redneck! The next greatest thing of the day was Dave the Horn Guy. Check him out, it was probably one of the most entertaining things i've seen in a long time, thanks Dave.

I must say, I'm tired. It's been good, but it's been hard to care or put myself into this because I'm tired. Overrall though, it's been good.

October 4, 2006

Shane Claiborne

A week or so ago, I quoted Keel, "We are in a crisis of imagination." Again, this idea and desperate need for imagination inthe church came up in Shane's session. I've grown accustomed to reacting against things, the church institution, structures, powers, religion, or whatever, but now that I have the "don't's" can I have the "do's."

An idea I really like is how in their community that have a relational tithe. This is how the community takes care of the health needs, or whatever needs in the community. The amazing thing is when a need arises, it's met immediately. 10,000 dollars worth of damage? No problem, the church took care of it for anyone and everyone.

Again, this took imagination. We need in the church imagination to creatively BE the church of the kingdom IN the world. Creating the vision of God's desire in the world, and as easy as this sounds, it's not. It's difficult, and I believe very because we've been trained inside of the University, the schools, our churches to be uncreative, to sit and listen, and to conform to models that have been set up by modernity. I pray that the Church in America recaptures Jesus adn waht it means to follow, simply follow Him and nothing else.

Catalyst Begins

Finally, after travelling for 15 hours we have arrived here at Catalyst Leadership Conference. Yesterday, we drove into Birmingham, AL and stayed over at Holiday Express, and today we arrived at Atlanta, GA for this sucka. Wed, Thurs, and Fri will be continous sessions of leadership.

Today the first session we are in is led by Shane Claiborne, the founder of the Simple Way and author of The Irrestibable Revolution.

So far after driving for too long it has been pretty good. Hopefully the sessions will all go pretty well. After this I think we are going to listen to Lauren Winner, than Rick McKinley.

October 2, 2006

Dr. Ruth Ann Foster

Please pray for Truett. Waco Tribune's Obituary for Dr. Foster.

"Dr. Ruth Ann Foster, one of the two founding faculty members of Baylor University's George W. Truett Theological Seminary, died Thursday, Sept. 28, in Hewitt after battling cancer. She was 59.

Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday, Oct. 3, at First Baptist Church, Waco. A memorial service will follow at the same location at 1 p.m. with the Rev. Julie Pennington-Russell, pastor of Waco's Calvary Baptist Church, officiating.

A native of Ashland, Ky., Foster joined Truett Seminary in 1994, along with fellow founding professor, the late Dr. A.J. (Chip) Conyers. She came to Baylor from Manor Baptist Church in San Antonio, where she had served as minister of education. Before that, she served as an adjunct instructor in the department of religion at Texas Christian University from 1984-91.

As associate professor of Christian scriptures at Truett, Foster taught New Testament, Old Testament, New Testament Greek and biblical interpretation. She also supervised ministry research for candidates in Truett Seminary's doctor of ministry degree program.

In May 1998, Baylor named Foster an Outstanding Faculty Member in a tenure-track position. In spring 2000, she was awarded the "Professor of Choice" Award by the Truett graduating class of 2000.

"Ruth Ann is the last of the founding faculty of Truett and as such had a special place in all our hearts," said Truett Seminary Dean Paul W. Powell. "She was a perfect blend of toughness and tenderness in dealing with the hard issues we faced in our beginning years. I affectionately called her 'Mother Superior' because of the love and respect I had for her. Truett has lost a scholar, a cheerleader and a dear friend."

"Ruth Ann loved students and was beloved by all. We will sorely miss her wit, grace and passion for teaching," said Dr. David E. Garland, associate dean for academic affairs and The William M. Hinson Chair in Christian Scriptures. "Some of us who were at her bedside toward the end will always be touched remembering our last laugh together even as death was looming and our last prayer together expressing our faith that death will be the last enemy to be defeated."

Two members of Truett's first graduating class in 1997 remembered Foster as woman of great grace, who could hold her own in any debate, and a faculty member who took on the role of pastor to students.

"When the other professors took interims and preached on Sundays, Ruth Ann preached and pastored the students," said William D. Shiell, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Knoxville, Tenn. "She did not need a pulpit; she used her desk and her classroom to exhort us in our callings. Yes, she could hold her own against every Calvinist, closed-minded, anti-women-in-ministry student she taught. But she handled every confrontation the way Bonhoeffer prescribed in 'Life Together' - with honesty, grace, poise and candor. And she showed each student how to disagree and still remain friends with some of the very people with whom she debated."

Shiell attended Truett Seminary, when classes were held at First Baptist Church, Waco. He said the faculty, staff and fellow students from those early days hold a significant place in his heart and in the seminary's formation.

"The glue that held us together was Ruth Ann Foster," Shiell said. "She leaves a legacy that we should all emulate."

Matthew W. Cook, pastor of Second Baptist Church of Little Rock, was another member of the first class of students at Truett. Cook said he will "forever be grateful to God" for Foster's scholarship, ministry and most of all friendship.

"The first class was a bunch of pioneers, far too sure of ourselves and our own ideas, and I suspect we could have gone in a thousand different directions, but a gentle, loving, and delightfully friendly faculty pulled us together and headed us in the right direction, toward ministry in God's church. Ruth Ann was the very embodiment of that loving, gentle, friendly spirit," Cook said.

"Ruth Ann was also a fierce guardian of the original vision of the seminary - a place of high expectations, of both high intellectual and spiritual standards, but also a place that was intimate and tightly knit," Cook added. "I pray that her passion for the place will live on in others. I know it does in me."

Laura A. Cadena, a 2001 Truett graduate who currently serves as missions partnership relationship manager with Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Global Missions, said the passing of Ruth Ann Foster is a great loss for the Truett community.

"Ruth Ann approached life with grace, humor and poise," Cadena said. "As a member of the founding faculty she was instrumental in building the Truett community. Ruth Ann was a minister to alumni and students, and she exemplified the life of a minister by nurturing our callings and investing in our lives."

Foster earned her bachelor's degree in theology from Clear Creek Baptist College in Kentucky in 1978, her master's of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1982, and her doctorate in religion from Southwestern in 1989. In addition to teaching, Foster served as a faculty adviser for the Truett Women in Ministry group. She also was a frequent speaker in Texas and beyond, teaching Bible conferences for churches and the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and leading Women's Retreats throughout the state.

Foster published articles in a number of periodicals, including "Mary the Mother of Jesus" in the Biblical Illustrator, a chapter Introduction and Commentary on 1 John in The Woman's Study New Testament, "Dangerous Waters of Justice and Righteousness: A Study of Biblical Justice" in Christian Ethics Today, and a book review for the Journal of Church and State. She also wrote the Life and Work Sunday School lessons for the Baptist Standard.

In 1996, Foster participated in a three-day seminar and symposium on Global Stewardship at the invitation of Christianity Today. The results of the seminar, which brought together biblical scholars, theologians, sociologists, economists, environmentalists and others was published in the September 1996 issue of Christianity Today.

She served on the editorial board of the Review & Expositor, and was a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion.

Foster is survived by her mother, Alice; a nephew, David Foster of Ashland, Ky. and his wife, Annette; a great niece, Beth Foster; a great nephew, Jeremy Foster; a cousin, Connie Marshall and her husband, Roger, and her life-long best friend, Jane Kerns and her husband, Ken, of Lexington, Ky.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Dr. Ruth Ann Foster George W. Truett Theological Seminary Endowed Scholarship Fund at Baylor University, Box 97026, Waco, Texas 76798-7026."