Different Location this Sunday!

posted by Jeffrey on Friday, September 30, 2005 at 11:20 AM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

Hey everyone. Just wanted to let you know that the Dane's are gonna be out of town this weekend, so we'll be meeting at my and Shaunna's house this Sunday for our conversation. Same time 6:00pm.

Need Directions? Click Here

Visual Meditation

posted by Jeffrey on Tuesday, September 27, 2005 at 10:01 AM

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Here are some different depictions of Jesus that will surely make for some interesting meditation...

*Close-up from left eye area of the above picture*

Last Night's Conversation and the Planning Retreat

posted by Jeffrey on Monday, September 26, 2005 at 10:45 AM

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Saturday Greg, Gina, Shaunna, and I [along with Greg and Gina's teenage son Parker--your presence there was awesome Park!] took off to Crossville, TN for an administrative planning retreat type thing. We had a great time relaxing, enjoying God's creation (which reveals His invisible qualities), discussing where we are and where we're going in this journey God has us on as a community of faith, assessing and reflecting on where we've come thus far, and much more. I guess us four are kind of the admin. team of sorts, so it was a great time to reflect, project, and reconnect with each other (whoops, that rhyming thing was SOOO not on purpose--someone kill me now! I'm one step away from alliteration! ahhh).

Last night we piggy-backed on our discussion about Peter and Cornelius's visions in Acts 10 from last week with a conversation centering around Acts 11. In the first part of this chapter, Peter explains (almost verbatim) to the other Jewish Christians what had happened between he and Cornelius in the previous chapter. In his explanation he mentions something that we all seemed to have missed last week. In verse 14 Peter quotes Cornelius's servants, who are quoting Cornelius, who is quoting the angel who spoke to him as saying, "...He [Peter] will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved." Hmm, that's weird. Chapter 10 verses 1-2 says that Cornelius was God-fearing, devout, and gave generously to the poor. So here's the age old question that was posed last night. Is a knowledge and devotion (like that of Cornelius) to God the Father without a knowledge of His Son Christ Jesus not enough for "salvation"?

I myself have taught in the past (using Romans 1:20 as support) that those in darkest Africa who die not knowing the name of Jesus but worshipping the unknown "power" who has created and revealed Himself through nature will be saved. Romans 10:9 says, "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Paul goes on in the same chapter (v. 14-15) to say, "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'"So in light of those passages, will those who never call on Jesus' name (even because they never learn of it) be saved??? To be honest, I don't know. Needless to say, we had a wonderful conversation that raised more questions then it did answers, but then again I love when that happens. I'd love to see some comments from some people much smarter than I regarding this sticky topic.

Every Other Mid Week Dinner Hang Out Thing

posted by Jeffrey on Wednesday, September 21, 2005 at 8:42 AM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

Hey everyone. Just wanted to give a quick reminder that tonight is every other mid week dinner hang out thing. Time: 6:30. Location: the Davis' house.

Need directions? click here.

Ok, so this has nothing to do with spirituality, church, or anything of a theological nature, but I've just gotta give a shout out to Vandy! They made the front page of the USA Today's Sports section today...who'd of thought?

Here's the pic:

Vandy Front Page

The Corporate Beast

posted by Jeffrey on Tuesday, September 20, 2005 at 11:00 AM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

Well, so much for my new office. I just found out that the Starbucks company, including the one that just opened up down the street from our house, is apparently more of a corporate money mongering beast than I realized. Did you know that Starbucks stores are NOT free wi-fi hot spots?!?! Yeah, you have to pay to get a T-Mobile Hotspot Account! At $9.99/day or $29.99-$39.99/month I think I'll pass--I mean crap, I'm already paying 4.50 for a cup of coffee! What's going on here? How, and more importantly why, would ANY coffee joint not have free wi-fi to offer to their patrons??? Isn't that just good ole' plain marketing? If I'm a Starbucks sales analyst I'd be thinking, "Hmm, free wi-fi = more patrons + longer visits = increased coffee sales." Hmm, maybe they should hire me! Sorry, ranting over...

I do know that this unfortunate learning experience is enough to make me NOT consider T-mobile as a cell phone provider next year when our Sprint contract runs out (though it's not their fault I guess), and it's borderline enough to make me refrain from throwing a bone (or $$$) at the Starbucks company as well. But alas, I fear that lack of other alternatives to satisfy those late night coffee cravings and conversation venues will drive me yet again to the belly of the beast named Starbucks. Maybe I'll use this as motivation to considerer pursuing my jazz lounge/coffee bar/Laundromat idea. Hey, don't knock it 'til you've heard the whole story...

Last Night's Conversation

posted by Jeffrey on Monday, September 19, 2005 at 1:02 PM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

What a conversation we had last night! As we dove in to Acts chapter 10 together, some VERRRY interesting things came to the surface...and not necessarily things that ANY of us have ever had before. Up until this point in Acts, those who have come into the fold of "the Church" have been natural Jews, proselytes (converts) to Judaism, or Samaritans (a kind of "half-breeds" of Jews and Gentiles). The story in Acts 10 is that of a Roman soldier, a centurion to be exact, named Cornelius...you can't get any further from "Jewish" than that.

Anyway, Cornelius has somehow come to a faith in the God of the Jews, but does not yet know of the work that this God's son, Jesus, has done. An angel appears to him in a dream who instructs him to send for a man named Peter who is staying in a nearby town. While two of Cornelius's servants are on their way, Peter is on a roof praying. It is important to note that Peter (one of the twelve disciples of Jesus) is ALLLL about being a "good Jew" even as it pertains to following Jesus. As Peter sits out on the roof praying, he "falls into a trance"--yeah, a trance!? While in this trance, he too has a vision. His vision is of a sheet being let down from Heaven that has all kinds of creatures inside it, the voice of Jesus then says "Get up Peter, kill and eat". Peter replies with the statement, "Surely not, Lord! I have never eaten anything impure or unclean." He says his because the old Jewish law given to Moses restricted the eating of certain animals that were deemed "unclean" (to see a list of these animals, see Leviticus 11). Jesus then instructs him to not call anything unclean that the Lord has made clean.

So what's the reason for this vision? To let him know that it is totally ok to go back with the approaching servants to Cornelius's house (for it was also against Jewish law to associate with Gentiles). The place, however, that we found ourselves dwelling for the majority of the conversation was that of Peter's trance. Do people and can people today still fall into this type of "trance" in which God interacts with them??? In Acts chapter 2 verse 17, Peter quotes the prophet Joel in saying this:
"In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams."
So the answer? We all happened to agree on, "yes, people can still fall into these trances". Then it REALLY got interesting. What could these trances be? Could they be somewhere in between awake and sleep? Whoa, whoa, whoa...could it be the dream world? Hmm. And so I leave you with this question that we were left with last night: If God created the dream world, wouldn't that mean that He has a purpose for it???

Progress at the UN

posted by Jeffrey on Friday, September 16, 2005 at 5:36 PM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

The "white band" (pictured left), the international symbol ofve or 150 million anti-poverty campaigners worldwide, was projected on the side of the UN general assembly building building Wednesday (pictured below) as a reminder that we camapigners are watching the World Summit in New York, calling for renewed commitments and increased progress in the fight against extreme poverty. Link: the One Organization.

The Struggle of Motive

posted by Jeffrey on Tuesday, September 13, 2005 at 7:52 AM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

If you didn't already know, this blog (like it says in the sidebar) is "Chronicling the mysterious adventure of being formed by God into a new community of faith (church) in a postmodern world...". Seemingly built into this adventure, however, are many dangers such as relying on "misplaced dependencies" (to quote a couple of friends), using alterior motives, falling prey to control issues, etc, etc, etc. The struggle that we've most recently been involved in is that of our motives.

Here are some questions that are bouncing around in our heads and in our conversations lately. Why is it important to invite people to be a part of this community of faith identified as "the Gathering"? When we do invite people to hang out and join with us, is it because we truly care about journeying with them as God brings about spiritual formation in all of our lives, or is it because we just 'want more people' to be a part of "the Gathering"? If the answer is the latter, then why? What is the obsession that "churches" have with the number of people they claim as their "members"? And truly, what do "numbers" represent or prove that is of worth or value???

Many more thoughts in that line of questioning have and are sure to arise still, but that is the basic trajectory that they have set out on. I sincerely hope that as God moves us to invite people to journey with us as "the Gathering", that we will do so because we genuinely believe that living in connectedness with other follower of Jesus is an important (but still merely one) facet of spiritual growth and formation; and that perhaps a community of faith will be able to more greatly impact and befriend the communities in which we live our daily lives. I do so dearly hope that this is our motivation, not that we are subconsciously obsessed with building yet another structure, another organization, or another kingdom of our own...

Just a little afterthought: This post wasn't meant to imply or hint at anything specific. It wasn't meant to say we have it right and mega-churches have it wrong. It was simply meant to be an open and authentic musing of "the struggle we find ourselves in"...

Nashville Red Cross Volunteer "Town Meeting"

posted by Jeffrey on Saturday, September 10, 2005 at 5:14 PM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

My wife and I attended the Nashville Red Cross's "Town Hall" meeting this morning at Lipscomb University. Richard Patton, incoming chairman of the Nashville Red Cross chapter, stepped up to the podium in jeans, a casual button down, and loafers with no socks to give a laid back opening welcome in which he informed the around 400 attendees that giving of their time was very "cool". Following Patton was the Nashville Red Cross's new CEO, Collen Zakrewsky, who spoke about the "marathon" of relief that we are involved in, not the "sprint". Taking the podium thirdly was Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell, sporting slacks and a button-down with no tie (I must say I was quite relieved at the abscense of political stuffiness and pomp). Other organizations represented were the Urban League of Middle TN, Hands on Nashville, and the Second Harvest Food Bank.

Patton explained that the Red Cross's primary function is immediate disaster relief. He went on to explain that the reason that many offers to volunteer have not been followed up on is directly related to this. His example was this: Red Cross chapters all over the country see a hurricane approacing, load up into the "ERV's" (Emergency Response Vehicles), and head down to an area close to the zone which will be affected. Once an emergency is declared and local officials ask for aid, the volunteers spring in from a short distance away. The problem with this disaster is that they did not expect the extremely high volume of evaccuees to reach this far north, and due to their most highly trained volunteers being off on relief assignments around the coast, no one is left to train the volunteers here. Measures are being taken, he noted, to "crash train" others so they can train the hundreds of volunteers in the area.

So here are some ways you can help. Call number "211" to request or offer aid, register to provide "Elisha Room" for hurricane victims at HurricaneHousing.org or MoveOn.org, or if you are a Church looking to provide larger scale aid (or housing), register at OpenChurches.com. Another option presented this morning was calling 615-843-4002, but I never quite caught what that number was for.

It is the Churches privelage to ensure that the "marathon" relief is ensured, and that as volunteers drop out in the early miles, the kindness of our Maker and King is continually played out in us, His people, for the long haul.

*Different Location for this Sunday's Conversation*

posted by Jeffrey on Friday, September 09, 2005 at 1:01 PM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

Just a reminder that this Sunday's conversation will be at the Davis' house, NOT at the Dane's. Despite the different location, the time and everything else stays the same. See ya Sunday evening at 6:00.

Need directions? click here.

Our Greatest Persecution...

posted by Jeffrey on Wednesday, September 07, 2005 at 9:36 AM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

This week is "When in Rome" week on the History Channel. Since I'm utterly fascinated by this era in history, I've been trying to catch some of the programs. Last night I watched Roman Vice, which is "...a story of epic debauchery, monstrous cruelty and breathtaking extravagance. Luxury made the Roman world go round. The quest for better food, bigger villas, more opulent baths and more thrilling entertainment drove Roman civilization forwards...". The show ended with an expose on Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus, who reigned from A.D. 54-A.D. 68, was the last emperor in the Julio-Claudian dynasty, and was one of the cruelest emperors Rome had ever known.

In A.D. 64, a great fire devastated the central section of the city of Rome and Nero needed someone to blame. There were a group of secretive and mysterious people who seemed to be the easiest scapegoats--what were they called? Christians. Nero is famous for his brutal persecution of the Christians. He fed them to wild animals in the Coliseum, used them as human torches in his gardens, and other horrific acts of cruelty. The Bible is mostly void of direct addresses of what was happening in the world outside of the Church, so let's gain some perspective. Nero ruled from A.D. 54-68 and the apostle Paul (who is responsible for writing much of the New Testament) ministered from A.D. 36-68. Paul was imprisoned in Rome under Nero twice (among other imprisonments) and then was finally executed under him in A.D. 68.

So when Paul writes to his spiritual son Timothy for the second time (which is the book of 2 Timothy) while imprisoned in Rome for the second time, and includes things like: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith..." and "...I was delivered from the lion's mouth (literally). The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen", he does so as a man who faces a brutal execution in the near future, but somehow keeps his faith in Christ!

As a result of the Christians refusal to recant their faith in Christ even in the face of a brutal and agonizing death, many Romans (Gentiles) actually converted to Christianity!!! So to Nero, I thank you for persecuting and martyring the fathers of our faith that the Kingdom of God might spread. History has been consistent in this scenario--the greater the persecution of Christians, the more that people are inspired to come into relationship with Christ. And so it is reluctantly that I say this...perhaps what the Church in the western world needs is another great persecution...

City of Mt. Juliet Collecting Disaster Relief Items

posted by Jeffrey on Tuesday, September 06, 2005 at 1:21 PM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

From the Tennessean on Saturday, September 3:
"...The Mt. Juliet Ministerial Association and the City of Mt. Juliet will be collecting items for victims of the hurricane. During Sept. 6-15, from noon to 6 p.m. a semi trailer will be parked at Charlie Daniels Park for the purpose of collecting the following items: Bottled water (20 oz size), new blankets, baby formula, personal hygiene items, ready-to-eat meals (canned or packaged), shelter materials, trash bags, tarps, plastic containers, and clothing. Once the items are collected, they will be picked up by Shippers Transport and delivered to Feed The Children, which is working in conjunction with FEMA for distribution in Louisiana and Mississippi..."
So if you're a Mt. Juliet-ite and want to contribute to the rising need of disaster relief items, here's a good chance.

By the way, there is a team of bloggers, the Interdictor, just on the outskirts of New Orleans who post several times a day on what they actually see happening outside their door. Shocking...

Last Night's Conversation

posted by Jeffrey on Monday, September 05, 2005 at 8:41 AM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

We had a great conversation last night. We engaged in conversation about the ever mysterious concept of God's divine will. We spent most of our time in Romans 9,10, & 11. Romans 9:22-24 says, "What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath, prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory, —even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?" What an incredibly messy and confusing passage of Scripture! But God moved Shaunna to compare this passage to Romans 2:3-5. Verse 5 says, "But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed." Comparing this passage with the passage from Romans 9 (discussed above) led to this thought: what if when we are born, we are born as objects of God's wrath, prepared for destruction (because we are born sinful)? Then, what if when we respond to Jesus' pursuit of us, we are transformed into objects of his mercy, prepared for glory???

Whether or not this hurricane was an act of God's wrath ojudgmentnt on a city saturated with evil is impossible to know, and possibly even dangerous water to tread (no pun intended). Regardless of whether it was or wasn't, I do believe that this disaster is, in a way, still another page in the story of God's relentless pursuit of His beloved creations that bear His very image. Oh what lengths our loving Father goes to for the sake of romance.

We had a VERY cool time to one by one go upstairs where an offering station was setup with a passage of scripture to meditate on and offer a portion of the finances that God has entrusted to us back to the relief effort of the hurricane victims (pictures on the way). More disaster relief planning to come...

Reflecting on a Bike Ride...

posted by Jeffrey on Sunday, September 04, 2005 at 3:10 PM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

As it appears in my journal today:
"Yesterday I took my dad's bike for a ride on the greenway. It was a wonderful ride. On the return loop back I came to the hill I was dreading. I geared WAY down & crawled up the hill without stopping. As I meditated on that experience, I realized that when we face difficult and winding hills in our spiritual journey, we have the same choice to make. We can gear down and persist or we can refuse to and risk burnout.

The Lord used my dad to shed further light on the subject (for he is a VERY avid cyclist). He said, 'gearing down was meant to be used so that we can maintain the same pace though our speed reduces.' I ask myself this question, 'What do I care more about? Speed or pace?'"

"Elisha Room" for Katrina Refugees

posted by Jeffrey on Friday, September 02, 2005 at 1:58 PM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

Want to help out in the Katrina aftermath but don't know how? Here's a good idea: At HurricaneHousing.org you can volunteer a room(s) in your home for refugees. As of 2:00 this afternoon 49,179 rooms have been volunteered. Some have been calling this form of aid providing an "Elisha room"(see 2 Kings 4:8-10).

And by the way, if you're wondering if there are any refugees as far north as Nashville, the answer is yes. I met 1 yesterday and 24 this morning...

(Hat Tip: TallSkinnyKiwi and Brittney)

Disaster Relief Think Tank

posted by Jeffrey on at 9:54 AM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

It's Friday morning about 10:00 and I just came from a meeting with some other cats involved in some new churches around middle TN. This was the first meeting of the "first Friday club" (because we'll be getting together the first Friday of every month) where we hang out at Same and Zoe's coffee shop to encourage, share ideas, and hear what God is doing in other parts of middle TN. This morning's meeting turned in to more of a disaster relief think tank.

Guys like Wayne Terry of the TBC, Gary Morgan of Mosaic Nashville and Jim Palmer of the Pilgrimage Project, to name a few, brought some cool preliminary ideas to the table. We addressed immediate and long term ideas and I hope we'll have some good partnerships rolling in the EXTREMELY near future.

The decision has been made and we'll be sending the donations that we gather this Sunday evening through the Tennessee Baptist Convention--for as I learned this morning, Baptists are 2nd only to the Red Cross in Disaster Relief Aid. So if you're coming to hang out for the conversation Sunday evening and feel moved to give a donation as a physical expression of worship, have checks made payable to:
Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief
Tennessee Baptist Convention
P.O. Box 728
Brentwood, TN, 37024-0728.
and please designate your check to: Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund
Anyone else wishing to donate but unavailable to hang out this Sunday evening may mail a check directly to the same above address. This is an effort to contribute to the immediate need--we'll continue the brainstorming of how we can aid in the long term relief over the next few weeks.