"Gathering" Resources for Relief Efforts This Sunday

posted by Jeffrey on Wednesday, August 31, 2005 at 2:20 PM

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Michael Brown, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urged people yesterday to make cash contributions to organizations for the hurricane Katrina relief efforts. (link)

At this Sunday evening's gathering, we'll be collecting donations to send toward this relief effort, so I encourage you to come prepared. We're not totally sure of the channel it will go through yet (Red Cross, TN Baptist Convention, etc), but we'll know well before Sunday night. Biblically, it is the Church's privilege AND responsibility to take care of those who are hurting and in need, so let's step up to the plate yall. Giving of what has been entrusted to us is an intimate facet of worship.

Some have said that this hurricane might have been an act of God's judgment on New Orleans. Whether it is or isn't, I don't know--it is beyond the human realm of understanding. Even if it was, let us (the whole Church, not just our local community of faith) not miss the opportunity to be used by God to display His mercy and affection--which in comparison, is far greater than His wrath. (please read Romans 9:22-26)

"Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words" ~attributed to St. Francis of Assisi


posted by Jeffrey on Monday, August 29, 2005 at 9:14 AM

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This past Saturday my wife and I watched "Shadowlands", a movie based on the life of C.S. Lewis (pictured at left). Lewis coined the term "shadowlands" on the final page of the final installment (The Last Battle) of his lone children's book series called the Chronicles of Narnia--however, I will not tell you by whom it is said, who it is said too, or what context it is in--you're going to have to read/watch for yourself. By the way, the first installment of this series (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) is coming out on screen, in hopefully non-cheesy form, this December.

The movie is based around a famous quote and teaching of Lewis's that goes something like this: "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world." It is interesting that the movie focuses on Lewis's thoughts on pain, because his sole treatise on the topic was The Problem of Pain. He devoted the rest of his time to other topics.

Lewis happens to be my wife's favorite author and is rapidly becoming mine as well. So I leave you for now with another quote from him that resonates with my very essence: "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world"

Last Night's Conversation

posted by Jeffrey on at 9:13 AM

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Last night everyone got a little soggy as they arrived, but we still had a great conversation. We followed the modern day role playing of Saul's conversion in the first part of Acts 9 from a couple of weeks ago with a conversation about the rest of Acts 9 last night. I personally felt like the portion of Scripture that we devoted last night to was either a more "shallow" portion than others or it's depth was so beyond my comprehension that it appeared as shallow to me. Nevertheless, it was a great time that provoked thought and the impulse to study further on our own time.

As hurricane Katrina makes land fall and approaches TN as an inland tropical storm, feel free to meditate on these two passages of Scripture: Nahum 1:3 and Psalm 18.

The Mystery of Pride

posted by Jeffrey on Thursday, August 25, 2005 at 3:17 PM

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Pride. Such an unbecoming garment for all who wrap themselves in it. If this is so, why then do we humans so frequently and easily adorn ourselves with it?

I was reading in the Isaiah (a book in the Bible) yesterday, and God showed me something quite interesting about this ugly yet frequented coat we call pride. In a rebuke of Jerusalem and the southern kingdom of Judah, the prophet says, "...So man will be brought low and mankind humbled--do not raise them up. Go into the rocks, hide in the ground from the dread of the Lord and the splendor of his majesty..."

Let me pause to give a huge hat tip to the good ole' NIV Study Bible scholars and commentators. Why? Because there is a study note on the bottom of the page that says this: "the Hebrew for this word [speaking of the word 'majesty'] is translated 'pride' when used of people. Pride is our attempt to be our own gods." Whoa, that will make me ponder my motives when I reach for the cloak of pride...

Newsweek Cover: Spirituality in America

posted by Jeffrey on Wednesday, August 24, 2005 at 3:35 PM

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An interesting cover for the popular news magazine don't you think? The cover article, "In Search of the Spiritual", is subtitled, "Move over, politics. Americans are looking for personal ecstatic experiences of God, and, according to our poll, they don't much care what the neighbors are doing."

The article contains thoughts like, "Whatever is going on here, it's not an explosion of people going to church" and "If you experience God directly, your faith is not going to hinge on whether natural selection could have produced the flagellum of a bacterium. If you feel God within you, then the important question is settled; the rest is details". It then goes on to describe in a rather "hit-and-run" style pretty much all of the "religions" I've ever heard of--and basically how Americans have a bountiful smorgasbord of which to brew their own "religious" concotion.

Here's the link to the article, what do you think?

Tonight's Dinner Reminder

posted by Jeffrey on at 9:43 AM

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Just wanted to remind everyone that tonight is our every-other-Wednesday- dinner-hang out-thing at my and Shaunna's house. No format or agenda, just time to hang out, kick back, talk, and get some good eats...and oh yeah, it doesn't cost anything, dinner is provided (by Gina Dane this week--you rock Gina). Check the "when and where we get together" post for time, map, and driving directions.

A Trip to Rolling Hills

posted by Jeffrey on Tuesday, August 23, 2005 at 8:46 AM

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Peter Wagner once said, "The single most effective evangelistic methodology under Heaven is planting new churches." Whereas I have a more missional and relational approach to and philosophy of "evangelism", planting new churches is definitely a catalyst for that to happen. Any way you slice it Pete Wagner, Lyle Schaller, Leonard Sweet, and others are right--beginning new communities of faith are where it's at.

Many times, more established churches "partner" with the new church to make an array of resources available. Such resources may include people, finances, direction, counsel, prayer, facilities, guidance, and much more. Most times these churches who in a way "sponsor" a new church are referred to as the "mother church"--kind of makes you expect the twilight zone music huh?

Today I have a meeting with a very cool guy named Jeff Simmons who is the pastor of Rolling Hills Community Church, a community of faith about 4-5 years old I believe. Jeff was one of the very first pastors my wife and I met with, in an attempt to get our bearings, when God first called us into this mysterious adventure of "church planting". It's kind of poetic, I think, that it has come full circle where today we will feel each other out (not feel each other up mind you, ha ha) and see if the Spirit leads us into such a "mother-daughter church" relationship. Jeff and his crew at RHCC have been nothing but helpful thus far, so I look forward to rekindling that.

To all who read this I extend a humble plea for your intercession that God would make His will for this relationship known on Earth as it is in Heaven. Jeff, I'm looking forward to kickin' it with you today...

Nashville is Talking

posted by Jeffrey on Monday, August 22, 2005 at 9:10 AM

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Wow, so somehow someone named Brittney who blogs at Nashville is Talking found out about us and listed us on their blogroll. Here's a link to the post that introduced us. Cool stuff, thanks Brittney.

News 2's Neil Orne Interested in Postmodernism

posted by Jeffrey on Friday, August 19, 2005 at 2:50 PM

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Neil and Heather Orne of News 2 (WKRN) are my and my wife's favorite morning anchors! Every morning as we get ready for work we invite them and the other crazy cats from the News 2 Morning Show into our home. There have been SEVERAL occasions in which a comment or allusion has been made by one of them which has led my wife and me to wonder if they are followers of Jesus.

Anyway, there's a link on Neil's blog to something called "The PoMo Blog", which is run by a gent by the name of Terry Heaton. Interestingly enough, the header and the footer of Terry's blog contain quotes from Leonard Sweet. For those of us who aren't quite sure who Leonard is, he is described in all circles as a "theologian, author, and futurist". He has written Out of the Question...Into the Mystery, The Church in Emerging Culture: 5 Perspectives, Postmodern Pilgrims, and about about 20 other books dealing with life, God, faith, and those three things in postmodern ("emerging") culture. He is also the founder of PreachingPlus.com, which is an "epic preaching resource".

So, I don't know what all of this is worth, but it's a cool thought that maybe, just maybe, the morning crew at News2 are followers of Jesus who are living that out in a missional way. Even if they're not, it's totally cool that at least one of the local news crews realize that the world is changing--so why not change with it. (see Luke 5:36-39)

**Different Location of This Sunday's Convo**

posted by Jeffrey on Thursday, August 18, 2005 at 3:50 PM

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Just needed to let everyone know that this Sunday's conversation will be at Shaunna and my's house, not at the Dane's. It'll still be at 6:00 pm and you can find a map and driving directions on the "when and where we get together" page. Anyone and everyone is welcome.

Next week we'll head back to the Dane's crib. Grace and peace.

Adventures in DOM Land

posted by Jeffrey on Wednesday, August 17, 2005 at 9:21 AM

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So the question on your mind is probably, "What the crap is a DOM?" right? DOM stands for Director of Missions, which is the role that Mike Pierson plays in Wilson County Association. Yesterday my wife and I, with my friend and"supervisor" Wayne Terry, met with "Brother Mike" at Taylor Made Cafe in Mt. Juliet (a GREAT pace for coffee, breakfast, lunch, or a snack by the way...we frequent it as often as possible). It went wonderfully and the presence of the Holy Spirit truly did guide the conversation.

Mike extended the invitation to introduce me to the other pastors in the area (which will be VERY helpful) and expressed an interest in exploring a partnership between the Wilson County Association and us as the Gathering. Mike, thanks for your time and interest in the vision and dream that God has given us. I look forward to working with you as God saturates the Mt. Juliet community with His presence

Last Night's Conversation

posted by Jeffrey on Monday, August 15, 2005 at 7:55 AM

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The God that we serve is a multi-faceted God. We feel that it is quite possible to learn things about His nature and grow in relationship with Him in ways other than "Bible studies". For this reason, we did a little role playing last night. Hopefully, this role play was able to help us understand that God is not merely someone who existed in the ancient world, but is alive and active today as well. So here's how it went down...

The setting: modern day China, where it is highly illegal and dangerous to be a Christian. The scenario: we divided into two intergenerational groups, one played the part of a Chinese house church, and the other the part of Chinese police. The house church had learned that a dangerous man named Parker (along with his squad), who has a proven track record of finding and killing Christians, was in the area. The church's job was to hide and figure out what they would do if these Chinese officials found them. The Chinese police group (who was dropped off about a half mile away from the "church" group) was to spend a few minutes deciding what they would do with the Christians if they found them, and then to hunt them down and carry out their plans.

While "on the road" to the place where they knew the church was gathered, Parker received a phone call. Who was it from? "Jesus, whom you are persecuting" was the answer. "Jesus" then informed Parker that on a tree to his right there was a blindfold, and that before he could truly see, he must become blind (so his comrades blindfolded him). He then received instructions from "Jesus" to go to a place near the house where the church was gathered and wait for a woman named Brittany, who would restore his sight. Brittany was shortly then after "called to" (via a hidden walkie talkie near her, ha ha) and told that she was to go to the same place and restore the sight of this man named Parker. So the scenario played out--figure it out yet? Brittany then took Parker to the gathered church where he found them with a lack of trust in his new found faith. (I did forget to tell the "church" group that Brittany was one of them, a follower of Jesus--whoops--so that did add some confusion, but oh well).

We then all sat down to discuss some of the thoughts that the different groups were having along the way. As I had hoped (and despite the kinks on my part), the role play yielded new insights into the Biblical story that we had enacted (which was the story of Saul's conversion on the road to Damascus in Acts 9).

Now, onto a more somber note of the evening. Brittany is leaving for college this week. She is heading to Ouachitia Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. She is an integral part of our community, and she will be deeply missed. We took several minutes last night to allow her parents to anoint and bless her with an oil of the almost exact formula (mixed by her mom, Gina) as that of the oil used to anoint the Tent of Meeting, it's elements, Aaron (the high priest), and his sons (see Exodus 30:22-33). After a few minutes of Dane family time, we as a community of faith gathered around Brittany, her parents, and her brother, to lay our hands on them/her and to lift up praises, blessings, and intercession--and a song, that was freaking cool man (you know who you are).

So for Brittany, may the Spirit of God in you be as fragrant and saturating to those whom you encounter as it was to us as it was dripped on your head last night. May it cover you in the messy tasks of the priesthood, and may it remind you that your life and your words are to our Father as that of sweet smelling incense. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace. Blessings Brittany, blessings.

Friday's Meteor Shower

posted by Jeffrey on Wednesday, August 10, 2005 at 11:59 AM

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Be sure to catch the annual Perseid Meteor Shower this Friday morning. Drag yourself out of bed (or stay up for that matter) between 2:00 am (in any time zone) and dawn, look toward the eastern sky (hmm..) and be amazed at the meteors that streak across the night sky as the Earth passes through the strongest part of the Comet Swift-Tuttle's tail debris. It has been, since the beginning of time, that God reveals Himself plainly through what His hands of made--especially in the sky--if we would only stop long enough to see it. Below are some Scripture passages to meditate on if you so choose, and below them are pictures of last year's Perseid meteor shower. (read full story)

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." ~Psalm 19:1-4

"I will sing of the LORD's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself. You said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant, 'I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations.' The heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD? Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings?" ~Psalm 89:1-8

"The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side. His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory. In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him. O LORD God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O LORD, and your faithfulness surrounds you." ~Psalm 97:1-6

"I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and let your glory be over all the earth." ~Psalm 108:3-5

"Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens." ~Psalm 119:89

First Wednesday Night Dinner is Tomorrow!

posted by Jeffrey on Tuesday, August 09, 2005 at 7:24 AM

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Just a quick post to let everyone know that our first mid week dinner and conversation time is tomorrow night at 6:30. This is a time for us to get together and just kick back, have dinner, and catch up with each other. It's a time to unwind in the middle of the week and hopefully reconnect with or get to know each other outside of our Sunday evening conversation/experience. For now, this thing is scheduled to happen every other Wednesday night. Click here for the logistics: when, where, map, driving directions.

Last Night's Conversation

posted by Jeffrey on Monday, August 08, 2005 at 8:24 AM

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What a beautiful evening! Sitting outside in the cool of the evening as the gentle breeze blows across the patio and rustles the leaves overhead seems to bring special and unexplainable treasures to our conversation. As in the ancient days past, it makes God's presence "feel" more real, more tangible. Anyway, another sound that was quite frequently heard last night was laughter. As we explored the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-40, we found some interesting descriptions of what a eunuch is. Ready?

Deuteronomy 23:1 and Isaiah 56:1-8 were probably the two best. The New International Version of the Bible gracefully bows out of this sticky situation in Deuteronomy 23:1 and renders the text: "No one who has been emasculated by crushing or cutting may enter the assembly of the LORD" The New Living Translation (which is actually a paraphrase rendition) decides to be quite blunt and reads: "If a man's testicles are crushed or his penis is cut off, he may not be included in the assembly of the LORD." However, my personal favorite combination of grace and humor was the good ole King James Version which reads, "He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD." HA HA HA...who ever said the Bible wasn't a fun read?

Ok, back to the story. As Philip walks up beside this Ethiopian official as he is reading the prophet Isaiah (chapter 53 specifically), we must consider the possibility that this man may have been a proselyte (convert to Judaism). If so, he may have know of this "law" in Deuteronomy (discussed above) and have been upset at this restriction placed on him. But how incredible and mysterious are God's plans for His children. After Philip baptizes the eunuch and then vanishes from his sight (no really--vanishes, as in *poof* he's gone), we might assume that the Ethiopian got back into his chariot and continued reading where he left off. If so, he would shortly end up three chapters from where he was when Philip joined him and read this:
For this is what the LORD says:"To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant-to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off." (click this link to read the full passage)
God used Isaiah's depiction of Jesus as God's suffering servant, to prick the heart of a man who himself has most definitely suffered for obvious reasons. And what's more--He then allows him to read with lenses of faith the blessing of inclusion for all, yes even eunuchs, in the Kingdom of God.

the God of my Consciousness

posted by Jeffrey on Wednesday, August 03, 2005 at 7:55 AM

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This post is inspired by a conversation I had yesterday with Jim and Rick. Thanks guys for making me think.

Is it possible to be consciously aware of God's presence at all times? And if so, is that what God longs for in us? I don't know. Since this conversation I've been searching (subconsciously at times, ha ha) through what things I hold in my subconscious and what things I am conscious of. I ask myself these questions: Was Jesus consciously aware of God constantly? I would say so. But then again, He is God, so is that same reality possible for us? I still think so because it is Christ's life that is in us who are His followers (John 5:15, John 14:20, and more...). Are those things that exist in my consciousness there because I choose to keep them there, or is it because they have so saturated my subconscious that they have overflowed into my conscious.

For example, I'm totally obsessed with the great expanse that once separated the waters of below and above--and the things that take place there. This expanse is the sky. Because of this infatuation, I am constantly taking notice of it. Why? Because I possibly choose to keep in my conscious? I don't think so, I think it's because I'm so incredibly subconsciously preoccupied with it that it spills over into my consciousness...but then again, I could be wrong.

Anyway, I don't have all my thoughts all worked out on this topic (and doubt I soon will), but just wanted to open it up for a little discussion. Maybe Jim and Rick will drop by to comment...

Last Night's Conversation

posted by Jeffrey on Monday, August 01, 2005 at 10:09 AM

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Monday morning again. Rise and shine. I love when our conversations don't end in a nice tightly wrapped up little package. Instead, like last night, sometimes they end really...messy. Sometimes comprehension and understanding of the particular part of Scripture that we are discussing is not the result of our conversation. So let me be the first to say that that is totally, 100% ok. In fact, I'm not even so sure that our be all end all goal of a "Bible study" should always be comprehension and understanding. What if God sometimes longs to connect with us somewhere beyond our comprehension or understanding?

Anyway, our conversation last night focused on Acts 8 in which the story of the second person listed to be among "the Seven" from chapter 6 is continued. His name is Philip, and he is a Grecian. How incredible is the always present "string" that can be found woven throughout the course of history as God orchestrates all things to work together for His glory. For example: Acts chapter 6 tells a story of a conflict between the Grecian and Hebraic Jews (see the last week's post) which God then uses to raise up "half bread-ish" leadership (again, see the explanation about this in last week's post). Without this new leadership, the gospel would not have been able to be taken to Samaria (which is where the story in Acts 8 occurs), because the Samaritans HATED the Hebraic Jews and vice versa. Wow, so there is God, in the midst of a stupid conflict between cultural sects weaving the thread of His will throughout the events that transpire...

Last night we also made a few minor changes of schedules and opened up for some ideas of ways that we can connect with each other and with our Creator-Savior in ways other than discussion of the written text. Starting this week, we'll get started at 6:00 pm instead of 6:30 pm on Sunday evenings. A few ideas that arose were taking a reflective nature trail walk together (Romans 1:20), doing some "film theology", and meeting somewhere different (i.e. Charlie Daniel's park) every now and then. Any other ideas?? We feel that this variety is important to us as a community of faith because our God is multi-faceted and He longs to reveal Himself to us in a plurality of ways, of which study of the written text is but one--though a significant one.

In addition to those ideas, we're also going to be partaking of a meal together, where we can just kick back, eat, and grow in our relationships with each other, every other Wednesday night (for now anyway--the night may change in the future). The logistics of this aren't quite worked out yet, but it'll be potluck-ish. This was actually Shaunna and Brittany's idea that will allow us to keep Sunday night stuff to a reasonable hour so everyone can have ample recharge time before the grind starts on Monday--thanks ladies, yall rock! This every other weekly shin dig will take place at Shaunna and my's house. Hit the link on the sidebar that says "when & where we get together" for address, link to directions, and map.