The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off

posted by Jeffrey on Tuesday, June 28, 2005 at 8:25 AM

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That is the title of a documentary my wife and I watched on TLC last night. This was the story of a 36 year old UK gentleman named Johnny Kennedy. He had a rare genetic disease called epidermolysis bullosa (EB). He describe the condition as, "I look at it like your skin is 'velcroed' to your body, and mine is just missing the hooks".

This man decided to have his life and death (and preparation for it) documented and shared with the world. As we watched his story unfold, our sadness deepened. This man, despite his constant and extreme pain, was more at peace than anyone that I have personally known who was standing on the threshold of death. But where did this peace come from? He did seem to be a very "spiritual" man, but his faith was not in Jesus Christ. As I drove to work this morning I began to wonder, "What would make someone like this put their faith and trust in Jesus?" He was already peaceful, already likeable, already taking social action in the effort to find a cure (not for himself, but for future people) for this disease, already "spiritual", and already (what he thought to be) prepared for death. So I ask again, what would have made this gentleman enter into life with Jesus?

Refreshing Pointlessness

posted by Jeffrey on Monday, June 27, 2005 at 2:58 PM

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It seems a bit ironic to take the time and initiative to purposely write a little ditty on pointlessness--but I guess for the sake of justification we'll just call it "poetic" instead. Last night brought about another intriguing conversation at our weekly discussion (which takes place every sunday night at 6:30). We ventured into the story of Peter and John's run in with the Sanhedrin (Jewish political/supreme court type system under authority of the Roman government) after the name of Jesus (and therein, Jesus Himself) healed a man who had been crippled for decades.

Last night there wasn't an "application" or a "challenge" or a "point", we just engaged in conversation about this particular passage of Scripture and attempted to wrap ourselves up in the story of what actually happened that day--which also led to a bit of dreaming and speculating about some things that might have also happened as well. And as always, the prescence of a new face and voice in the conversation is an enjoyable experience.

Pointlessness--what fun it can sometimes be.

Linear Gameplay

posted by Jeffrey on Thursday, June 23, 2005 at 8:09 AM

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I am sad. Tomorrow morning I take my wife to the airport where she'll get on a plane--without me! *sniff sniff* (Maybe if it's foggy I'll do a little Humphrey Bogart re-enactment for her, lol) She'll be flying to D.C. to be a part of a dear friend's wedding where she'll get to see some friends she hasn't seen in a long time. In her absence, I decided that I would spend some time this weekend practicing the disciplines of silence and solitude.

The incredibly spiritual things I have planned in order to do so are as follows:
  • Rent a few bloody, sci-fi, guy movies
  • Rent (and master) a PS2 game--which I've narrowed down to either "Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith" or "Medal of Honor: European Assault"
  • Eat an entire pizza
  • And smoke my pipe (which I ONLY do 2 or 3 times a month, so don't freak out)
I know what you're thinking. "Wow, what a spiritual sage!" Ha ha, yeah right. As I read some recent PS2 game reviews in my attempt to narrow the field of games from which I would choose to master this weekend, I happened across a VERY interesting discovery. A game could be rated very highly (9 or 10 out of 10) on graphics, sound, and playability (the ease of learning how to play), which happen to be 3 out of the 5 categories that contribute to the whole rating, but could receive an overall score of merely 6 or 7. How? Because the gameplay and storyline are linear! Gamers today do NOT want to be locked into to a predictable and structured story, they want to create their own story. (By the way, contrary to popular belief, this is why the Grand Theft Auto games are SOOO incredibly popular--not because little boys are all twisted and demented freaks who enjoy car jacking and killing at random.)

Not to overspiritualize the scenario, but in the moment of this discovery, I realized something. *Note: the following is NOT a bash, it's an observation* The seeker sensitive form of "doing" church offers an experience which can often be rated VERY highly in graphics, video, sound, and "playability" (or shall we say convenience). But still people under the age of 35 do not darken the doorsteps because it fails to address the broader issue--the differences in how we think (not to mention the still broader journey of spiritual formation, thanks for calling my attention to that dog--you know who you are). All the slick presentation in the world can't hide the fact that many of these churches are still modern and linear at their core, and thus, in their thought--and hear me when I say, that is ok! That is how the majority of their members think, so that is what they need to be.

My hope and dream is that we communities of faith that happen to be more fluid, relational, and "postmodern" (for lack of a better term) in thought will TRULY be able to cooperate and partner seamlessly with more linear, seeker-sensitive, modern churches to further the Kingdom of God--and finally say together, "Screw building up our own individual kingdoms." (which is how we unfortunately tend to view our congregations)

The Lame Who Think They Can Run

posted by Jeffrey on Tuesday, June 21, 2005 at 3:55 PM

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Aren't we as the Church supposed to be living life to the full? If so, what does your imagination conjure up when you think on that? Mine paints a picture of someone laughing, running, playing, and radiating with a near physical glow of joy and happiness (yes, yes, even though those two things are quite different, I know). I would dare say that all of us imagine something along those lines when we think of someone who is living "life to the full." If this be the case, then do the proclaiming "Christians" that I know (including myself) fit into that picture?

In Acts 3, we seem to have a literal representation of how this might look. We came to this story last week as we continue our conversation about the book of Acts in our weekly gatherings. Here he sits, a man lame from birth, when the power of Jesus' name spoken by Peter and John heal him. What then does he do? Well he sits back down right where he had been for the many years past and goes back to begging. Wrong! He gets up (with the help of Peter) and begins to walk, jump, and praise God.

Now here's the 2nd major confusion of this past weekend: In verse 19, Peter encourages the witnesses of this miracle to "repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out." No big deal right? Well what he doesn't ask them to do is to say a prayer. Could we be totally off on how we measure whether we are "Christians" or not? Could it be that this commitment to follow Jesus actually takes action, to "repent and turn to God", or is it to merely say some words, go to church, and try to be good? John further addresses this in MANY of his writings, one being in 1 John 2:3-6. Maybe, like Peter does for this beggar (yeah, this is all in the text--read it), we should be about helping people up, letting them actually hold onto us for a while (gasp), and take them right into the community of God's people so they may learn more of this God who has made them whole, who has healed them, who has allowed them to finally walk and not beg. hmm..a random thought: Doesn't the ability to walk mean this fellow is now able to do something.

Now, before you get out your tar and feathers, I realize this line of thought could dangerously (and easily) lead to legalism--to rules of "do's/don'ts". It is important to remember that "it is by grace we've been saved through faith, this not from ourselves, but it is the free gift of God." But true faith in Jesus will produce a lifestyle change. True faith in Jesus will transform us by the renewing of our minds. True faith in Jesus will give us a heart for the poor and the widows. True faith will lead to a heart of flesh instead of a heart of stone.

Is everyone perfect, joyful, running, jumping, and praising God all the time--"by no means!" So I praise Yaweh that He has already taken care of that for us (See Hebrews 10:11-18). All I have meant to say is that I am confused--is it possible that we sit in our church buildings, homes, fields, cathedrals, or whatever, week after week and think that we are "running the race" when in fact, we are crippled beggars looking for handouts?

When and Where We Get Together

posted by Jeffrey on Monday, June 20, 2005 at 11:43 AM

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Ok, so here's when we all get together:

Every Sunday evening for conversation or other experience:
This is the time when we collectively gather to explore the things of God together. Most of the time this involves conversation about a particular part of the Bible, but other times may involve things like a nature walk at Long Hunter State Park, watching and discussing a movie and its theological and cultural implications, or other multi-sensory ways to experience and get to know God.

6:00 pm @ the Dane's house
496 Page Dr
Mt. Juliet, TN

Need Directions? Click Here

(click map to enlarge)

Every other Wednesday night for dinner (started 8/10/05):
This is when we get together to just kick back, eat some supper, and either get to know or reconnect with each other. There's no specific format, just casual conversation over some good eats. This may be a cool time to come hang out for someone who's wondering what we're like. Due to the craziness of life these days, this thing is just every other week.

6:30 pm @ the Davis's house
1207 Wembley Dr
Hermitage, TN

Need Directions? Click Here

(click map to enlarge)

The Beauty of Confusion

posted by Jeffrey on at 8:45 AM

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The state of confusion is normally a horrid place to dwell, but occasionally, just occasionally it can be the most wonderful experience imaginable. Our community of faith was fortunate to experience this paradox a couple of times this past weekend. As explained in last couple of posts, we had a pseudo-garage sale on Saturday. I call it "pseudo" because there were no prices, everything was free. It was a absolutely wonderful to see that look of confusion on people's faces when someone from our crew (or the crew from Alabama that came to help) ask them something to the affect of, "Has anyone told you that everything is free? So if you see anything you'd like feel free to take it".

It was awesome! There turned out to be several families who came and were able to load up on things they truly did need. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, to those of you who donated so willingly the wonderful items that lit up so many faces! Funny how doing true and real ministry inspires others to minister. For example, a couple of ladies that appeared to be regular Saturday morning yard sale shoppers were instantly inspired by the Spirit of God to take items not for themselves, but for people who they themselves knew had some needs. We didn't have "worship music", a"sermon", or anything else that is stereotypical of a church "worship service", but we quite possibly had a truer form of Church there at that garage sale then I have ever previously experienced.

The story of our second experience of beautiful confusion (which occurred at our weekly conversation last night) will be in the next post...

May the Force Be With Us...

posted by Jeffrey on Friday, June 17, 2005 at 9:59 AM

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So tomorrow is the big give-a-way garage sale at the Dane's house as well as the free water hand out. Yep, several folks in the area have donated some cool stuff for us to give-a-way (yes, as in for free) tomorrow. We've got about 20 folks from South Alabama (Roll Tide!) coming up to give us a hand with this thing as well as to hand out free water and Gatorade to some very thirsty people at an area greenway, lake rec area, boat ramp, skate park, and construction site--I don't think it could happen if it wasn't for them, thanks Gary and your crew at Excel Baptist Church.

You scored as Obi- Wan Kenobi. You are Obi-Wan. You fight for truth, and justice. You taught one of the most powerful force users in the galaxy, and lost all your friends to the Sith overlords.

Obi- Wan Kenobi


Count Dooku


Master Yoda


Darth Maul


Anikan Skywalker


Darth Sidious




Qui-Gon Jinn


Leia Organa


Mace Windu


Star Wars: Who Are You?
created with

Though I wish I'd have scored as Yoda (and kind of secretly as Darth Maul, because his double ended light saber, acrobatic ability, and long black cloak rocks) and be able to rightfully refer to myself as "the wise one" (just kidding), I guess being Obi Wan Kenobi will work too. Hey at least I still get a light saber! YES!...I just hope all my friends and visiting volunteers don't fall prey to any Sith overlords lurking about tomorrow...

And I Thought T-shirts Were Cheesy...

posted by Jeffrey on Wednesday, June 15, 2005 at 9:35 AM

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Gathering t-shirt

So here is our first t-shirt design. A million thanks to Grant Gubser, skilled t-shirt screener and designer, who was nice enough to design this awesome graphic for us! The blog address at the top of the pic will go across the shoulder blades on the back of the shirt and the larger graphic on the bottom will go across the chest on the front of the shirt. Everyone who wants one of these bad boys has picked out their own t-shirt according to their preference of style, color, size, if we do happen to wear them all at once (like we will this Saturday), we won't look like some big cheesy army in uniform.

My "new best friends" at Mount Juliet Shirt Works are the dudes doing the actual printing and production of these hot new t's. They've bent over backwards to ensure that the shirts come out the way we imagined. And it is a MUST to mention how patient they have been with us "first timers" who weren't at all familiar with the t-shirt screening process.

I know you're thinking, "WOAH! I have to have one of those!" So if you want one, email me. We're not about making money here, so what it'll cost you is what it costs us.

Thanks again Jared (at MJ Shirtworks) and Grant--yall rock!

Last Sunday's Conversation

posted by Jeffrey on Monday, June 13, 2005 at 9:10 AM

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Last night we engaged in conversation about Acts 3:1-10. In this passage, a man lame from birth and begging at the Temple gate called Beautiful, is healed by the power of Jesus' name spoken by Peter and John. As usual, our conversation quickly diverted to things of a broader scope.

As we discussed the significance of Peter and John "looking straight at him", the location of where he was sitting, how they helped him up and took him with them once he had been healed, and etc, we began to raise questions like, "What do we do when we pray for healing today and that person isn't healed?" Shaunna (my beautiful wife) contributed the thought that, for someone who is in fact a Christian, God's idea of healing may actually be death--in which they step into the fullness of His presence and feel no more pain.

Running with this thought, we also discovered that many times we only pray for "healing" when it profits us and happens to be a loved one--i.e., out of selfishness. I guess it's important to note that in this passage this man was most likely a total stranger. Let me take a break to say that it is obvious in the Bible that God DOES care about the healing of our loved ones (see the story of Lazarus).

Then the conversation some how took a more philosophical turn. We began to discuss what we perceive as "reality" is merely a "poor reflection" of the true and unknown reality that exists beyond this realm that we call life. Plato's allegory of the cave (used in The Republic) was brought up as well as C.S. Lewis's description of this life being merely lived in the "shadowlands" of true reality--and yes (because I finished the book yesterday), I took the opportunity to incorporate ideas and themes from the final pages of The Last Battle.

Another great week of conversation...many times, it's so much more fun to discuss and explore the written Word of God together than alone.

Coolers Anyone??

posted by Jeffrey on Thursday, June 09, 2005 at 11:07 AM

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Ok, so maybe we don't need coolers quite this big, but we do need some. As I mentioned a few posts ago, Saturday, June 18th we're doing some community give-a-way stuff. We're having a yard sale (that really isn't a sale) where everything will be free--if ya need it, take it. At the yard sale and at a few other places around town we're gonna be handing out some ice cold bottles of water just to say, "Hey--you look thirsty, want some water?" Who knows, maybe when they cock their head to the side and ask (with a puzzled facial expression and tone of voice) why it's free, we'll get to tell them about Jesus, but if not, at least they got a drink (and maybe something to wonder about).

Anyway, in order to hand out ice cold bottles of water instead of luke warm bottles of water, we're gonna need some coolers--and a lot of 'em. We'll be handing out somewhere between 500-750 bottles of water, so you do the math. If anyone has some coolers, big old aluminum tubs, or some other container that we can ice down massive amounts of water in--and you'd be willing to donate them or at least let us use them next Saturday, just leave a comment with your contact info or email me.

Oh yeah, if you have stuff you'd like to donate to the give-a-way yard sale thingy, feel free to contact me as well. If you'd like, we'll come pick it up for ya. And did I mention that yes, anything donated to this community freebie thing will be tax that's a definite plus.

A Foreign Anxiety

posted by Jeffrey on Tuesday, June 07, 2005 at 8:19 AM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at* I'm relatively new to the whole reading thing. I know, I know...sounds wierd. Up until recently I have HATED--and no, I'm not being melo-dramatic--I mean really HATED reading. Perhaps it is because few books can hold a candle to my incredibly overactive and vivid imagination or maybe just because I read incredibly slowly, but nevertheless, there has been a strong distaste, in my life thus far, for these things we call books.

And then something happened...I married the most noble and beautiful woman alive, who happens also to be a lover of a good book. She introduced me to good ole' Aslan and the crew of the Chronicles of Narnia. For the first time in my life, I experienced the feeling of not being able to put a book down. As I read on in the adventures of Pevensie children, I felt as though I were there at Cair Paravel, the Stone table, and Mr. and Mrs. Beaver's home by the river. I thought to myself, "I can't put the book down!! Peter, Susan, Edmond, Lucy--they NEED me!! I cannot abandon them now!" Ha ha was truly a delight.

Well now as I begin to read more and more (still very slowly, but getting better), I find myself in a foreign anxiety. Last night, for example, as I neared the final pages of Adventures in Missing the Point, I found myself wanting to stop on the page before last. Such a strange feeling to nearly abhor and fear the end of a book. Why could this be? I don't know, but at least it inspires me to start another one!

Last Night's Conversation

posted by Jeffrey on Monday, June 06, 2005 at 10:57 AM

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Wow--cool times at our weekly conversation last night! As we work our way through the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit continues to weave us closer and closer together as a community of faith. Are we trying to recreate the Acts 2 church? Certainly not-we're not recent Christian converts from Judaism living in the 1st century. What we ARE is a community of believers in Jesus who live in and around Mt. Juliet, TN in a post-Christian 21st century--so what we ARE trying to do is let God shape us into whatever He thinks that should look like. So as we engage in conversation about the early church in Acts, we strive to learn from them, not become them.

As we set out to discuss specifically Acts 2:42-47, the "official" flow of conversation (at least how it looked on my notes) was quickly deviated from. This is what I always hope to happen, seeing as how my notes/thoughts/questions are prepared just in case it doesn't! lol. We quickly became involved in discussion about how we could serve (and find) the allusive, emerging generations who mostly flee to Nashville or Lebanon on the weekends fearing complete and utter boredom if remaining in Mt. Juliet. Brittany, inspired by the Holy Spirit, provided a wonderful idea for Saturday, June 18th...a garage sale--in which everything is free! So, if you'd like to donate any items to give away email me. On this same day we'll be handing out ice cold bottles of water at the garage sale and at some other places around town where folks tend to get awfully thirsty.

As the conversation continued, Greg posed the question, "how could we answer someone when they ask something like, 'what is your church like?'" What a wonderful question! And on many levels--I have no freakin' idea how to respond! The vision God has given us as a community of faith can't be judged by any of the current measuring sticks ("buildings, budgets, and bodies"). Since that question carries with it MANY presuppositions, we decided that the best probable response would be a question(s) that encourage conversation where we can learn what the individual's needs are, what they already think about church, religion, God, and Jesus, and etc. We thought these conversation inspiring questions would be better than talking for 10 minutes about the "vision" or "values" or whatever--all that can come later, but it's not most important...

So as you can see, great conversation last week--I guess the overall theme (again) seemed to have been how can we be church, not just do church. Hmm...I'm starting to get the hint God.

Happy 1000 to us!!

posted by Jeffrey on Saturday, June 04, 2005 at 9:00 PM

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Ok...Shameless plug to the blog: Happy 1000 visitors to us! I know I know...that's a lame excuse for a post, but it's exciting--at least to me!

Emergent Response to Criticisms

posted by Jeffrey on Friday, June 03, 2005 at 9:36 AM

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Well, here it is--Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Spencer Burke, Brian McLaren, Dan Kimball, Andrew Jones, Chris Seay have collectively drafted a response to recent criticisms of the Emergent Conversation. They respond to such issues as truth, relativism, being "evangelical", and much more. They present a wonderfully articulate response that is seasoned with salt and full of grace in an amazingly short (3.5 pages) document. Read it at the Emergent-US blog, or view the PDF file.

The Uncontrollable Stillness

posted by Jeffrey on Thursday, June 02, 2005 at 2:31 PM

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Do you ever sit back and think, "Wow, what are we doing???" I've been doing that lately. I struggle with the thoughts that we as a faith community aren't "doing" enough. But I also think about the differences between being and doing and I wonder if sometimes God could actually accomplish more for His Kingdom and His glory if we would just "be"--be still, be silent, be patient, be listening, be real, be open, be loving, be ready, be _____.

Now I'd like to think that I'm not caught up in this stream of thought only to subconsciously justify what could, in fact, be inadvertent complacency, but who knows. In this moment, right here, right now, as I think of Jesus and His embodied ministry on this planet, I really do think that His "being" was the motivation of His "doing." So what does that mean for a new community of faith in Mt. Juliet, TN? I don't know, but I know that as a faith community, I'd rather be at Jesus' feet--waiting on words of encouragement, instruction, or correction--rather than running around doing so much that we miss the the point all together.

But I don't know...any thoughts?