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Chris' Blog

Sometimes I think. Sometimes I write about what I think. Sometimes You read it. That's about it.

Updated: 2014-10-06T20:02:47.032-07:00




I am making the switch to wordpress. So, please feel free to update links and come visit me at


I was destined to be Methodist?!


(image) I am now officially Methodist...sort of. I recently took a job in the communications department of Asbury United Methodist in Madison, AL. Changes are always interesting, but this is one that I am excited about. Leaving College Park after seven years in youth ministry was a hard thing to do. I love the people and the youth, however, I could no longer work under the present leadership. In ministry you have to be able to trust those around you. When you can no longer do that, it's time to leave and thus our only reason for leaving. To my fellow staffers, Mike, Angie, and Carol, we love you and you are in our prayers.

On a more positive note, my first day at Asbury was great! The people there were so friendly. I cannot even begin to tell you how refreshing it is to see a group of people that are so committed to mission! In my orientation, I was introduced to the values of the Church: prayer and mission. How incredibly simple and profound is that! My immediate supervisor in the department appears to be a great person to work for (not to mention she is a Mac person). I am excited about what lies ahead at Asbury.

Now, you may ask why I said I was destined to be Methodist? The last time that I was going to leave College Park, I was in talks with a Methodist Church in Florida regarding youth ministry. Apparently, upon leaving College Park, I was destined to be Methodist!

As a closing thought, I have been reciting a quote from Wesley in my head (this proves that I am Methodist right?). I would like to share it with you and pray it over my friends and family still at College Park, "I have been saved, I am being saved, I will be saved."


The Shadows Prove the Sun...


The following is a mirror post from the staff blog at College Park. I am going to try to use the idea of mirror posts to get started blogging again on blogger.

"The shadows prove the sun..."

I sat in Spraggins Hall at UAH last night and listened to these words sung by Switchfoot.* I usually think that the lyrics of contemporary Christian songs are, ummm…cheesy. That’s why it was such a refreshing surprise to hear songs dealing with topics like unbridled consumerism, and in this case, lament.

Walter Brueggemann in his work on the Psalms has brought to light the fact that lament was a regular part of the worship in Psalms. Why do we feel that we must “overcome” our lament? Can we not find God in the midst of our lament? Unfortunately many Christians, especially in Pentecostal circles, have adopted the “don’t speak it into existence” theology. I am fully aware that there are things around me right now that I need to lament. I will not try to run away from them, push them under the rug, or pretend like everything is always fine. I will choose to worship God by lamenting over the things that break the heart of God. I will also choose to lament each and every time that God’s will falls secondary to the wills of those who seem to know better.

To give up our ability to worship through lament, is to give up on the idea of a covenanting God. The covenant is a two-sided agreement. “I will be your God and YOU will be my people.” Lament is one thing that draws us into covenantal relationship with God, which is after all, the point. To refuse to lament is to believe that God is some type of cosmic Santa Claus that only hands out blessings to the people of God if they are good. We are not bystanders in the providential rule of God but, as much as we live in the kingdom of God, are co-workers with God in the great creation restoration project that finds its fulfillment in the resurrected Christ.

The question that I must ask myself now is this: “do I only focus only upon the ‘blessings’ of God and in so doing miss what God is doing in the shadows? Do I run away from the lament in my life and pretend that everything is great?”

Do I really believe that the shadows prove the Sun?


Pentecostal Pacifism


Just got an email from the great people at the PCPF (Pentecostal/Charismatic Peace Fellowship) about a new book that is out by Jay Beaman. The book is entitled "Pentecostal pacifism: The origin, development, and rejection of pacific belief among Pentecostals." I have not yet had a chance to read the book but I hope to order it this week! You can find it on by clicking here.


The revelation of God in the Law


When questioned regarding his interpretation of the Torah, Jesus claimed that the two greatest commandments were as follows: "'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:29-31) Ok, keep this in mind. We'll come back to it in a minute.

Think back to the Hebrew Scriptures. What is the most famous revelation of God's self in these scriptures? "I am that I am." (Exodus 3:14) We are all very aware of this self-revelation of God if for no other reason than we have all heard no less than 50 bad sermons preached on this verse. The interpretation of this passage is tricky at best and consequently leads preachers all over the board as they are trying to preach it. What we can say of this verse is that it is inherently an ontological declaration. There is no need to go outside of God to find God. This is a statement of being and not doing. True, the declaration is given to Moses as a means of initiating his involvement in the Exodus. However, the true force behind the Exodus is the very nature of God that is constantly at work in the world setting people free and giving voice to the oppressed. The action of God, and consequently God's people, come out of who God is.

Now, jump ahead to the New Testament. What is the most famous revelation of God in the New Testament? "God is Love." There is no more straight-forward declaration of God that this. Except for the fact that no one can really define what love is! There are two things, however, that we do know about love: love cannot be mistaken when experience and love always seeks the good of the one being loved. Even if we cannot give a concise definition of what love is, we do know it when we experience it. There is no doubting this. Thomas Merton once wrote that love is only love when it seeks the good of the one being loved. The presupposition of this statement is that there is an other to be loved! One cannot love without being in relationship with another! So, love automatically, in seeking the good of the other, draws us into relationship with the other. Furthermore, as Levinas would state, it is our relationship to the other that both necessitates and defines justice.

What is the point of all of this? In Jesus' answer to the question regarding the greatest commandment, he simply restates the self-revelation of God given in the scriptures! "Love the Lord your God..." How can one do this unless one roots themselves in the God who is! Once we are rooted in the God who is, doing springs forth as an extension of our being. Because we are in God, now we experience love. This love drives us into relationship with our neighbor, with the other, and seeks the good of the other over ourselves. This may sound familiar, "the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many," "no greater love has any many than this, that he lay down his life for his friends," and the list goes on and on.

I realize that the implications of this entry are rather basic to the Christian faith. Still I need to be reminded that we find ourselves in God and then go and do the work of God. Paul says it best (actually the heathen poets of Crete say it best), "it is in Him we live and move and have our being."


Something is not right in the television universe!


Last night I hurried home from the office so that I could watch one of my new television obsessions: My Name is Earl. Last night I was especially pumped because of the special laugh and sniff version of Earl. How great is that! Not only can you watch Earl, now you can smell the show as well! The catch is that you have to buy a TV Guide in order to smell along with the show. This is a price that I was willing to pay. Please note, I said that I was willing to pay it. I did not say that I did pay it. The reason for this distinction is clear: the stinkin' grocery store close to my house no longer sells TV Guides! I understand the logic in this. After all, why buy a TV Guide when you have a newspaper, free TV guide, Internet TV guide, and an entire (yet quite annoying) channel devoted to TV Guide. Long story short, the TV Universe was not aligned with my Universe so I sat, almost on the verge of tears, watching this great show and smelling nothing.

Now, to complicate matters a little more, I was watching Letterman later last night and decided to play along with the fastest growing quiz sensation, "Know your current events." If you have ever watched the show then you know that they take current topics with real questions and make stupid answers that offer comedic relief. Apparently the TV universe realigned with my universe as I was able to answer ALL of the specific question, word for word! (I know, I know, three years at seminary and the best accomplishment I have is outwitting the writers of the Late Show.) Anywho, I don't know what to think about my television right now. I think I will have to take a break from it....oh wait, I have an episode of House on tivo. I got to go....


Altar Preachin'


Journey with me to a land far, far away called youth camp. Remember on Thursday nights (that's Holy Spirit night in Pentecostal camps) when you would stand in the altars for hours? Sometimes the preacher spoke and other times we jumped straight to the altar service. I remember when this would happen in my home church. People would simply say, "we had such a great service we never got to the preachin'." Well, I am not ready to vouch for the ethos of the previous statement. However, I would like to declare it false on the pretense that there was some "preachin'."

A couple of weeks ago we had a prominent denominational figure at our church. Our church is an anomaly in Pentecostal circles because we do not have long altar services and the usual Pentecostal idiosyncrasies have somehow skipped over our church. However, on this Sunday, we did have a time in the altar. Then, as every one was beginning to leave, the preacher did it...he started altar preachin'. It then hit me that this is a seldom commented on element of Pentecostal spirituality. Yes there is much to be said for the function of the preacher/teacher in the pulpit. Perhaps there is just as much to be said about a BAD preacher/teacher in the pulpit. However, we cannot over look the role of the altar preacher. To further explain, altar preaching is when the sermon is through, the congregants have prayed in the altar and then you hear "I want everyone to look right up here." This is usually followed by a ten minute sermon-ette. The beauty of this is that these sermon-ettes are often the most relevant portion of the service. The "walls" that separate the minister and congregant have been torn down and the congregants are usually well aware of the presence of the Spirit of God (which was there before the altar service I might add). I can't help but wonder what the Church would be like if the entire ministry of the pulpit was "altar preachin'?" I am not talking here about ecstatic displays of the Spirit and other Pentecostal phenomenon, but I am talking about the absolute awareness of the Spirit in the midst of the congregation and the ability of the pastor to speak to the heart of the individual, erasing the boundaries of pulpit and pew and allowing the Spirit of God to deconstruct both the listener as well as the giver of the message. Yes, I think we could use a little more "altar preachin'."

Jeremiah and Babylon


File this under the "I can't believe this but it sounds profound and I'm not sure what it means for me right now."

This past week I was preparing for our Wednesday night gathering. We have been doing a series on the Arts and exploring the gospel message in various art forms and artists works. Last week we looked primarily at a poem entitled The Rose That Grew From Concrete written by TuPac. This week was to be about stained glass. The premise was this: we must make the choice to come together with other broken pieces (lives) and allow God to unite us in a single piece of art that, when put together, tells his story of redemption and restoration. I was looking at Jeremiah for our text and I came across this revelation.

Jeremiah 29 contains the great "I know the plans I have for you" verse. I love this verse! It is a great reminder that God is in control. However, I had never stopped to see that this verse was set within the context of the Babylonian captivity. Previous to this verse Jeremiah begins to give the Word of the Lord to the people as they are living in captivity. This Word basically contains life instructions of how to live in captivity. The message tells the people to do ordinary things like plant gardens, eat what they produce, marry, have children, multiply, etc. The message is very clear that they are going to be there for a long time. However, in this midst of captivity, in the midst of questioning their identity as the children of God, the Israelites are told to see the peace of the city. Seek the peace of Babylon! They are to seek the peace of the people that captured them! The scriptures are very clear on this point: if you seek the peace of the city, you will live in peace. (29:7) This is very contrary to the "eye for an eye" theology that we are taught. Israel could have tried to stage a revolt, they could have rebelled, they could have done a lot of things that would have been motivated by their desire for retribution. Instead, they are told to seek the peace of the city that captured them. I find it curious that the verse quoted above (I know the plans I have for you) comes after this statement. It is as if God is saying to the Israelites, "I know that it goes against your better judgement right now, I know that you want retribution. Remember though, I am God and I am the one that will keep you." As long as the Israelites stay rooted in the forthcoming promise of God then the retribution of the moment must necessarily fade away into the present pursuit of the peace of the city.

Now, I am not sure what this means except that for me, I feel as if we are living in Babylon. Tony Campolo had this great line where he stated that he loves living in the US. He stated, "it's the best Babylon on the face of the earth. But at the end of the day, it is still Babylon." I agree. This is not the kingdom of God. This is Babylon. I have to believe that God has called us to accept the fact that we do not live in the fulfillment of the kingdom right now but God calls us to seek the peace of the city while living in it. What exactly this means I am not sure. I have some ideas, but I think that we are all supposed to work out for ourselves what the peace of the city looks like in our own situations, jobs, neighborhoods, homes, and families.


Podcast Top Ten


Here's an updated list of my favorite podcasts. As I am contemplating my favorite podcasts, I am wondering how we ever lived without them. This past Christmas I received a video iPod and have been hooked on podcasts ever since. So, here's my favs right now in no particular order.

Mars Hill Bible Church
Napkin Scribbles (Leonard Sweet)
Tony Campolo Podcast (Across the Pond)
Strongbad emails (you know you love it!)
Relevant Podcast
Princeton University Podcast
Donald Miller (Conversations with Derek Webb)
Resurgence Featured Audio
Pentecast (Shout out to Joel)

Happy podcasting boys and girls!

Will the real Gospel please stand up?


The following post is based upon a comment that was left at Pete's Blog I preached this last Sunday at our Church on the Spirit of Adoption. One of the points that I made (yes I had two points. I am sorry to disappoint everyone. I promise that I will not have any in subsequent sermons) is that when one is adopted into a new family one must leave a previous family and take on the traits and the values of the new family. I stated that one of the problems with Christianity today is that when we were adopted into the family of God we failed to leave our previous family and try to live as if we are in both. The way that we do this is that we sanctify our previous family so that it's traits and values fit in with our new family. It was at this point that I stopped. I could go no further in this thought process. I wanted to talk about how we have sanctified certain political parties and eschatologies and economic systems, etc. but I didn't. I couldn't because I felt too much pressure to stay within the confines of "orthodox" evangelical thought. Here's my list of questions:

Why can we not talk about issues from the pulpit that are very clearly talked about in scripture? For instance, I had not dare bring up the issue of pacifism in the pulpit (and I am referring here to dialogue of pacifism and not an advertisement for commitment) without fear of being shunned by the Church (read loose my job). We cannot talk about issues of social justice without being labeled as followers of the social gospel and being dismissed. We cannot talk about alternative views of eschatology without having our faith questioned. We cannot question our unbridled commitment to capitalism without being labeled a communist. My questions are numerous, but they all boil down to one simple fact: we are scared of the volatile and unpredictable nature of the gospel. The scriptures raise questions about life but until we are able to take those questions seriously, I doubt our ability to truely be effective ministers and churches that are participating in the missio dei.


Georgy in Guatemala and other sundry items


Hello. My name is Chris Powell and this is my blog. I realize that most everyone knows this, but I feel as though I should reintroduce myself following my apparent blogging death. I have been extremely busy attending to the needs and process of having a little girl named Isabella join my family. (If you are interested in this story, then you can read more at my adoption blog.) This little girl has meant so much to Holly and I. I thought that I would re-enter the blog world by reflecting upon the recent visit of Georgy Bush to Isabella's homeland: Guatemala.It was asked in the Bible if anything good could come from Nazareth. I remember thinking of this verse as I sat in Guatemala and heard of Bush's plan to visit the country. I immediately thought, "can anything good come from him coming to Guatemala?" Apparently, there were several that shared my sentiment. I was unsuccessful in finding a person in Guatemala, including both Guatemalan citizens and US citizens, that was hopeful of a good outcome to his trip. Let's face it, the man is not exactly God's gift to foreign policy.I was riding with Holly and Isa into Guatemala City with our driver who was Guatemalan. I very carefully asked what he thought about the US and how it is handling its relationship with the rest of the world. What he stated astounded me. He was very well versed in US policy and was able to correctly identify the atrocities of US foreign policy. What surprised me the most was that this man seemed to know the big picture. I sat in the car and listened, saddened at the fact that most US citizens have been blinded so that they cannot see the simple truths that this man was pointing out. So, lest I criticize without offering a better way, here are some things that I offer up in the name of peace.First of all, if you want to fight global terrorism Mr. Bush, end extreme poverty.Secondly, if you want to help the Guatemalan people end poverty and corruption in their own country, declare a war on drugs. If there is crack in the US, chances are it was funneled through Guatemala before it got to the US. The resulting underground mafias and drug rings in Guatemala are tearing the country apart. (Just ask President Berger who is having to answer for some murders attributed to the national police)Thirdly, work towards trade agreements that promote self-sufficiency in Latin America. It is always easy to send aid to a country that needs it. After all, it makes you look and feel good for doing such a deed. The problem is that sending aid becomes addictive or rather the feeling of domination that comes from the euphoria of giving to someone in need becomes addictive. As such it is not long before the giving of aid becomes nothing more than an emotional and economic form of colonialism. Perhaps it is time that we perpetuate self-sustenance with our aid and not dependence.Fourth, let's promote a consistent ethic Mr. President. The people in Latin America, primarily in Venezuela are scared to death. Why? Because they have oil. The last time we chose to end a humanitarian crisis (or so it was labeled after not being able to find WMDs) we did so in a location that conveniently has oil reserves that we are dependent upon. I would have to say that I would be a little nervous if I lived in Venezuela as well. The people of Central America see that we have invaded and occupied a country in the name of freedom and under the banner of "Christian America." Simple deductive reasoning leads one to ask if the ethic we are perpetuating in our foreign policy is consistent with Christian ethics. The answer is no. So, what does one do when the leader of "Christian America" comes into your backyard and offers you a better way of life that is founded upon a "Christian ethic?" The answer is [...]

Back in Bama and no clue what to do


As many of you out there already know, I'm back in bama. If you have been following the Powell saga to this point, you may remember that Holly took a full-time job teaching english at SEU. She went down and began teaching and left me in Huntsville to tie up loose ends before coming down. The weekend before I was to move down to join her, we get a phone call that literally changed our lives. It was our adoption agency with some big news. (You can read about this part on our adoption blog peace for your journey) Long story short, we had 24 hours to get down to Guatemala. When we got there we had this beautiful little 3 day old girl waiting on us. The problem is that the same reason that we went down to Guatemala (shakeup in the governmental procedures for adoption) now made it too risky for us to move to Florida. There is one part of the adoption process called PGN which is known for giving "privios" which are requests for further or reproduced legal documents. We cannot produce our documents that were certified in the state of Alabama if we are living in Florida! So, Holly and i found ourselves sitting in a hotel room in Guatemala with a little girl and the understanding that we could no longer continue with the move to Florida.

Here's one little twist that you will find amusing: the same weekend that I am sitting in my hotel in Guatemala is the same weekend that the Church was giving Holly and I our farewell party! Not only that, but that following Wednesday was my going away party from the youth group (we drove straight from the airport to this party. We didn't even have time to go home first and we live on the Church property!) So, as we sat in Guatemala we had no house to come back to and no job. Talk about a fun week. To save you some of the details, we talked to the Church and they agreed to take us back on staff here which gave us our house back and one of our jobs. Honestly our heads are still spinning from the quick turn around. Thanks for praying for us during this time. It's been a wild ride and I am sure will get even wilder before its over with!




As most all of you know, Holly and I have been in the midst of an adoption process. We are trying to adopt a little baby girl from the country of Guatemala. Well, we received our "paper ready" status last week. This past Thursday we received a phone call from our agency stating that Guatemala's president would possibly give a decree that would shut down adoptions. The only way around such a declaration would be to sign power of attorney by the close of business on Friday...IN GUATEMALA CITY! Well, along with 10 other families Holly and I boarded a planed within six hours of hearing the news and were off to Guatemala City! We arrived here Friday at noon, signed our POA by 4 and had our new baby girl in our arms by 4:30! Here's a quick recap: we get a phone call Thursday at noon, I am on a plane to meet holly by 5, in Guatemala Friday at 12, signed POA by 4, and had our baby girl in our arms by 4:30! (You can read more about the process and the events of the day on our adoption blog, peace for your journey.)

Here's the stats on our new baby girl. We are going to call her Isabella. She was born September 26 slightly prematurely. She weighed 4 pounds 12 ounces and is absolutely the most beautiful baby girl in the world! She is getting to stay with us in our hotel the entire length of our stay. However, we are not allowed to leave the hotel with her. Thankfully, there are a lot of restaurants and shopping places in the hotel. We have decided not to publicly, however, most of the people that read this blog are friends and I would love to send a picture over to you. Just let me know.

We will be back from Guatemala on October 3.

Got to run. Isabella seems a bit hungry. Buenos tardes!


Auburn vs LSU


If anyone needs me tomorrow, I will be at the Auburn/LSU game in Auburn! Props to my friend Andy who offered up one of their passes for the game. I received the offer to go hang out with these friends at a game, however, the only day that I could make it was for the LSU game (ie the biggest game of the year thus far for all non-football fans). Honestly I thought that there was no way that it would work out. I figured there was a waiting list for these tickets and I would be close to the bottom. However, God has smiled upon me. Not only do I get to spend the day in Auburn at the game, but I get to do so with friends that I don't get to see much. Good times, good friends, and maybe we will find some good food.

War Eagle!

Solomon update


Several days, weeks, months, years, ago I posted an entry centering around Solomon. My question was this: "why is Solomon named 'Jedidiah' by God through the prophet Nathan? Did everyone simply forget about this name that he was given? Why did God himself refer to Solomon as 'Solomon' instead of Jedidiah?" I had a gut feeling that the inclusion of the name in the text was there for a specific reason. I have to admit that I still don't feel that I have the complete answer, but here are my further thoughts on the subject.

(1) Solomon is conceived at the same time that God judges David's sin by killing his son conceived in sin. Solomon is the first "legitimate" child of David and Bathsheba. I believe, along with several other scholars, that God's naming of Solomon as 'Jedidiah' is a way of showing David that he still has a chance of fulfilling his God-given destiny. The name Jedidiah means "beloved of God." God hasn't given up on David and shows this through the naming of Solomon.

(2) Here's where I venture out in my interpretations. The first thought is one that seems to be the consensus of the scholars that I have referenced. This second thought is mine and may venture away from the beaten path. Here's the deal. After Solomon takes the leadership of Israel, he begins to build the kingdom that we all know of so well. Solomon's temple is the envy of the nations, Solomon's wealth is known by all (look at the queen of Sheba narrative). The list of Solomon's achievements go on and on. However, if you look closely at the text it appears that all is not well. The kingdom is built upon the backs of slave labor. Apparently the memory of the Israelites is relatively short. (remember I am the Lord that brought you out of Egypt!) The kingdom becomes a kingdom that continues to grow in its pursuit of wealth and power. This pursuit of wealth and power becomes the impetus for Solomon's acclimation into the deities of his political marriages. As you can see this road goes downhill quickly.

In reflecting upon this, and thinking of our present situation in the US and the way that most American's live their lives, I can't help but to think that the narrative of Solomon is being lived out right here in the US. While I was thinking on this one day I just simply said to myself, "that's what happens when you forget that you are the beloved of God." I think myself solved the mystery for me. What if the writer is showing us that Solomon, though beginning with good intentions, somehow allowed his pure intentions to become perverted thinking that HE could build the kingdom that would be the fulfillment of God's plan? What if all along, God was asking Solomon to participate in what GOD was building, resting in the knowledge that God has chosen Solomon and rooted him in the one who created all things? What if we, in present day US, lived our lives working with God, building his kingdom instead of trying to build our own? What if we rested in the name that God has already given us, "beloved of God" and quit trying to build a name for ourselves?

I know that this interpretation is highly tainted by my present social location. But after all, aren't all interpretations tainted by such? Just a thought. Please give me some feed back and let me know what ya think!


No, I'm not dead


It's official...I am not dead. Several of my blog-mates have told me that they planned a blogging funeral for me, however, I am back from the dead. Here is the reason for my long departure from blogging...I'm moving. Yeah, I know, you were expecting something bigger. Maybe like I had a winning lottery ticket and was afraid to give away my identity. Instead of striking it insanely rich, here are the real details. Read on and I think you will see the problem.

After 5.5 years at College Park, Holly and I are packing up our bags and moving back down to central Florida. Holly is now a full time faculty member at Southeastern University teaching in the English department. We were contacted about the position on a Saturday back in July. (For all of you COG people out there, it was the Saturday before General Assembly) We had a group of youth that we were taking up to Indianapolis to compete in the national teen talent competition. We were scheduled to leave that Sunday. Here's where the fun starts. We were given until Monday morning to make the decision knowing that we would be with youth group students for the next week. Please don't get me wrong, I love being with students on trips. However, this is not the most conducive environment for making such a large decisions. So in an effort to involve our pastor in the decision process, Holly and I decided to talk with him that Sunday before leaving for General Assembly. Here's the really weird part...that Sunday morning he has a heart attack. Needless to say, our meeting with the pastor was not a high priority for him that day. That Sunday, with our pastor in the hospital, the group left for Indianapolis. Through a long series of events, Holly and I decided that she would accept the position at Southeastern. Another problem here is that we could not tell our pastor when we returned because of his heart condition. Thankfully, he is in process of making a great recovery. However, we were only able to make our plans public (ie I resigned) two Sundays ago. And it is at this point that we arrive at my somewhat excusable reason for leaving the blogging community. In short, all I have had going on in my life has been centered around this move. Since it was not public, I had nothing else to blog about! Now that the move is out in the open, I don't have time to blog as I am now single (until I join Holly at SEU) trying to pack one house and get another house ready to sell!

Please excuse my blogging delays, but please be aware that I am not dead and will be back to ranting frantically before you know it.


PS Does anyone know of any open jobs in Central Florida?



This post is primarily a question posed to all of you biblical scholars out there. I am doing some research for a series of wednesday night youth talks entitled "the beloved of God." While doing some research I came across 2 Samuel and the narrative of David, Bathsheba and the birth of Solomon. I have read that passage before but never noticed that God declared through the prophet Nathan that Solomon's name was to be Jedidiah "beloved of God." Please tell me how I got through a Christian College and even a seminary without noticing this?! Anyway, further research has shown that the name Jedidiah is not mentioned anywhere else in scripture. In fact, every time that God speaks or refers to Solomon, God uses the name Solomon and not Jedidiah. I have a couple of ideas of what could possibly be behind this. I would love some feedback though from you OT scholars out there.


*Image at the top is from and was posted by brainloc

Downtown Huntsville


I live in Huntsville. I like this city...sometimes. It is a great city that has a great mix of big city life (we have all the major restaurants: 2 Cracker Barrels, and coming soon a PF Changs. wooooohoooo!!!) and the quite country life. We have just enough people in the city to offset the fundamentalist bible belt beliefs found in the rural areas of the south (though this thought is by no means dead in the city!) The city is definitely growing into a metropolitan feel and well, Holly and I want to move into a condo downtown. I realize that this is not practical and would cost twice as much as a place in the suburbs but we would love to have the experience! I guess I can't complain because I only live 1 mile away from downtown now. Holly and I take great pleasure in walking our dogs through big spring park, sometimes even venturing into the historic twickenham district. I realize that its just a dream, a really big and not practical dream, but I am allowed to dream!


PS If anyone is wanting to surprise Holly and I with a condo, we would really like to have one in the 301 east development ( We are not too picky, so we will accept any of the condo floor plans that you want to buy for us. Thanks.

The Secret Message of Jesus


I just finished reading the secret message of Jesus last week. Let me say first of all that I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone. Having said that, if you have read McLaren's other works, then you have a good idea of what he is going to say in this book. Here's my problem with the book, the presupposition of the book's title "The Secret Message of Jesus" is that the message that is included in the pages following this title are in some way a revelation of a "secret" message of Jesus. I guess that I have been in this whole emergent conversation a little too long now, but the message given in the book is simply a restatement of the message of Christ that others are teaching who are taking serious the hermeneutical issues of postmodernity. What I mean by all of this rambling is that it is hard to believe that there are people that this message would be new to thereby requiring the book's revealing of its secrecy. I guess we all see through our own presuppositions, however, it is hard to understand why some are fighting so hard against works like this and others that are trying to take serious the words of Christ in light of cultural and social factors. Here's the basic message of McLaren (or rather Jesus') secret message:The book is in three movements; the context of the message, wrestling with the message and what the world and our spirituality would look like if we took this message seriously. I have to say that the best part of the book lies in the second and third sections. The major point of the book is that the message of Jesus has been so watered down by the gospel of accommodation that is has lost its pointed edge that pierces through injustice, poverty, bondage, sickness, environmental concerns, and even severs connections with the empire when they become too entangled with the church. If you know the term holistic salvation, then you know what McLaren is saying here. In essence, the gospel is good news to all people and all creation. God is in the process of saving us and our world, not just our souls (though this is part of the plan). I don't understand why some of the fundamentalist critiques of this book bash McLaren for including these aspects? Do they want or look forward to the rest of creation blowing or burning up? I understand that we should be concerned with saving people's souls, but what about the rest of the person? Can their bodies be healed? Can their minds be healed? Can their families even the world around them be healed? I just don't understand sometimes. One of the main things that sticks out to me in the book is the chapter on seeing the kingdom. McLaren talks of a guy who goes to Sea World with his family. As the guy and his family are watching the killer whales swim in synchronization, he finds himself wiping away a tear as he is overcome with emotion. He realizes that his daughter is doing the same thing. He finally comes to the conclusion that moments such as these are moments that we see the world as it once was, as it will be, with whales dancing in harmony. I can relate. I have had these moments. We are never given a big picture of what the kingdom of God looks like. We merely have a series of still images that give a particular angle, a new vantage point for seeing what the kingdom of God is like. You can't know the totality of the kingdom's economics, but you can know that it is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than a rich person to enter the kingdom. You don't know exactly what you will do in the kingdom, but you know that you hav[...]

Dr. King and my trip to Montgomery


It's funny how you miss things. I was born in Montgomery and lived in Wetumpka (just outside of Montgomery) for several years. I knew that Montgomery was famous for it's historical sites. However, living in the south we were primarily told about the Little White House or as it is also known, the First White House of the Confederacy. Oh yeah, there's also a small Church where some black guy pastored next to the Capital. We never were really told to much about this little insignificant church though, just the Capital and the little white house.

Well, this past Monday Holly and I found ourselves headed down to Montgomery to complete some adoption paper work. I finally took the time to go and visit that little insignificant church were the black man pastored. I visited the Dexter Ave King Memorial Church. This is the Church that Dr King pastored from 1954 to 1960. We were not able to go inside the Church but had a great time touring the outside. It is an incredible feeling to stand on those steps and realize that Dr King and many other civil rights leaders have walked those very steps. I am sorry that many revere the little white house of the confederacy more than this little church. But, that's kind of the way that it goes. Those that fight for themselves get applauded as heroes and those that fight for others often come from and find themselves in the fringes. They are the ones that get passed by. I see this as sort of a paradigm of the church throughout history. When the church has really been working as the people of God participating in the Missio Dei, it has found itself in the minority role where its prophetic voice stands out and rings loudly against a sea of sameness. I pray that we will not loose the "small" prophetic voice of the church. While the rest of the world is fighting for what they deem necessary, may the Church of God (not necessarily the denomination) continue to fight for justice and God's kingdom from the fringes without fanfare. Visiting the King Memorial Church only took a few minutes but will be a few minutes that I will not quickly forget.


*Notice the scripture text that is being used in the next service. I find this very fitting.*

My new addiction


Here's my new addiction: Othello (sometimes known as Reversi). Actually I am addicted to the computer version and have not actually played the real life version. I had never played this game until about two weeks ago and now I can't quit!

Film Review: Capote


After much anticipation, Holly and I finally set down long enough to watch Capote last night. I have to say first and foremost, the film was great! If you are not in any way attached to Capote, ie love of literature, love of people with really weird voices, etc., then you may find the film a little "weird" or even slow. The film tells the story of Truman's interaction with Holcomb, Kansas that would later become his novel "In Cold Blood." There were several themes that one has to wrestle with in watching this film. First of all, Truman gets in way over his head in attempting to tell the stories of the murderers (In Cold Blood is the story of two guys that murder a family of four in Holcomb). In essence, he uses the guys to get the story that he needs to write his historical novel. What he is unprepared for are the bonds that he builds with both the murderers and the families in Holcomb. This aspect of the film is all to real. How many times do we use people to get what we want? We often justify it with "well, this is going to be the greatest book ever written. They are going to die anyway, so why not get their story..." and the list goes on and on. We are inherently selfish creatures. We must, however, learn to live a life that is welcoming and accepting of each "other" that we encounter. Each person has a story, even the person on death row, and if we listen long enough, we just might hear echoes of our own stories in theirs. This is precisely what happens to Capote. He connects with the murderer because their stories are so similar. He even states, "It's as if we were raised in the same house. He happened to go out the back door and I went out the front." The film closes with his quote, "there are more tears shed over answered prayers then unanswered prayers." The quest to write the perfect novel ended up costing Capote his life. The people that knew him, said that he was never the same after the events of Holcomb. His answered prayer turned out to be the beginning of the end for Capote. What was the answered prayer? Watch the movie.


It's great to be alive


Here are three reasons that it is great to be alive right now:

1. Stanley Cup finals. I am a little bit ticked that they kept the rest of the season from us. Still, I am happy to get what little hockey I can. Congrats Carolina!

2. Game 6. The Heat are still alive.

3. World Cup. I have never watched the World Cup before, but I am loving it! It's hockey without the ice and bad headaches!


Camp Update


Thanks to all that are helping me out with this camp issue. Here's the basic data for the past week. The week went much better than last year. The speaker, music, everything just seemed to work better. One reason could be the lack of students. This year was an incredibly low year in numbers. I know people have to make budget through tuition, but I like the smaller camps. Packed camps are for the birds. Finally, student's lives were changed and for this I thank God.Now, here's my critique/response to the previous comments:1. (Good idea) THERE'S NO BANQUET HERE!!! Thank God they got rid of the banquet. This idea never made sense to me. They preach all week about remaining pure and not to lust and then place a dinner entirely centered around finding someone of the opposite sex as a focal point of the week. I guess you're not supposed to lust while eating.2. (Good idea) They got rid of the baptismal service. The students were told to go back to their home churches and ask their pastor to do the baptism in the presence of friends and church family. What a concept! 3. (Bad idea) Pete is right about providing a crisis point for youth. I also agree that camp USED to do that. Students have changed. My students were offended by what they called "scare tactics" to get them to come to the altar. Perhaps we are trying a little to hard to create the crisis moments in the services. Students can see through the facades. Perhaps we could place them in a different environment altogether to create a space for the crisis moments. Students expect these moments at camp. In a sense we are commercializing them by perpetuating the traditional camp cycle (saved night, sanctified night, Holy Spirit night, go change your world night). In essence our students are paying $100 for a spiritual guarantee. I know that this is oversimplifying the issue, but it does go through my head.4. (Bad idea) Cheesy games must go. Here's a revolutionary idea: let the students go take a nap in the afternoon. This is the most requested activity at camps nationally. (data supporting this conclusion was not available at time of publication) The camp that I would like to take our students to is down in Daytona. The students are involved in a large scale service in the morning and evening with major bands and such, and then are pretty much free during the day to be on the beach, go shopping, etc. But this is all done as a youth group.5. (Good idea) Use camps to build youth groups!!! Each year at camp our guys in the youth group are split up from the girls in the youth group for most of the day. I like the camps that allow the youth groups to be together during the day. The friendship aspect of camp is great. However, those friends leave when camp is over. We need to spend more time building communities of faith that are stronger when they get back home.6. (Good idea) Be real!!! This ties in to #3. There are crisis experiences all around us. We have to teach our students to acknowledge them as such and understand that the ground upon which they walk, the rooms in which they sit, etc. are all holy spaces. Let's teach students to find these holy spaces and discern the voice of God wherever they are. Yes, we must even teach them to discern the presence of God while sitting in the theater watching Harry Potter! (I am sorry to say that this was an issue at camp this year) Students no longer accept the world of the "Holy bu[...]



If anyone needs me this week I will be unavailable. I'm at Camp! I will most definitely have a lot to talk about when I return due to my love/hate relationship with denominational camps. I am thinking about forming a secret society for youth pastors who are afraid to come out of the closet and tell their true feelings of denominational camps. True, there was a day in the past that I looked forward to making the trip south to the mountains. Now I am less enthusiastic. I see youth culture drastically changing before my eyes, and I see denominational camps failing to account for those changes in their programming and service structures. Perhaps its just me, but if you are a youth minister and are needing to come out of the camp closet, leave a comment and I'll let you know about our first Denominational Camps Anonymous meeting.