Last Night's Conversation

posted by Jeffrey on Monday, October 31, 2005 at 8:46 AM

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Last night we ventured to Starbucks in Hermitage for our weekly conversation. Instead of revealing the conclusions (which are still sometimes questions) that we arrived at throughout the discussion, today I will instead only post the questions. We continued our discussion through the book of Acts with chapter 13 being the focus of the evening. Here we have Paul and Barnabas "set apart" and "sent off" from the church at Antioch. The first brief topic of convo was the reason for setting them apart. What does this mean? Hasn't Christ already done that? Why need man to do it also?

Moving on from there, we began to chew on the reality that this chapter is the very first time that Saul was called Paul. From hence forth in the Bible, he is referred to as Paul. Thus the million dollar questions is raised--why? If that single word question is to broad for your taste, then try this one. Throughout the epic story of God's relation to humans, why does He see it necessary to change people's names who have interacted with Him? Now no, it is not stated whether or not God was the one who changed Paul's name, but it remains a possibility.

The rest of the evening was spent encouraging and exhorting as we bestowed new names on each other. This was a little outside our western box since we don't value the name and genealogy of a person like eastern cultures do, but nevertheless, it proved to be very intimate. So I make the same charge to the readers of this feelble attempt to chronicle God's work in one community of faith in Mt. Juliet, TN as was made to us sojourners in the conversation last night: may you encourage one another to continue in the grace of the Lord Jesus as He reveals to us all what our true names are.

Tonight's Conversation at Starbucks

posted by Jeffrey on Sunday, October 30, 2005 at 10:26 AM

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Sorry for the short notice, but tonight's conversation will be at the Hermitage Starbucks again. See ya at 6:00!

Swing Dancing Theology

posted by Jeffrey on Monday, October 24, 2005 at 9:15 AM

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Last week Greg, Gina, Shaunna, and "mozied on down" to Hot Springs, Arkansas to celebrate Ouachita Baptist University's homecoming, since it is my wife's alma matter, and to visit Brittany (Greg and Gina's daughter) who happens to be a freshman there this year. After the homecoming game (where OBU unfortunately got annihilated) we went out to dinner, then for frozen custard, then to dance ata the Arlington (pictured left). An eclectic mix of local college students, dance instructors/students, and older folks (actually from the swing era) come to dance on Saturday nights as a jazzy/swing type band rocks out in the lobby of this beautiful hotel. Brittany and her boyfriend Grant (also a freshman at OBU) have become quite the swing dancers in recent months, but unfortunately for me, I have long forgotten a majority of the moves I once knew so well.

Anyway, Grant and Brittany put on quite a show! As a matter of fact it resulted in a roar of applause, a visit and encouragement from an local older couple, the offer of drinks by another couple (water being the selection btw), and then later a visit by that same couple. Here's where the real excitement begins. The lady of the pair was the first to swaggle over to offer her accolade which, due to an obvious level of inebriation, included an steady stream of expletives . Shortly there after the gentleman of the couple made his debut on our side of the room. Weirdly enough, he actually begins to give what seemed like a solid word of prophecy to the young college couple. What started out so beautiful soon took a downward turn into some...interesting...theology.

Among other scriptures, he went on to quote Psalm 37:4 which says: "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart...". It was not the quoting of this verse that was disturbing, but his interpretation of it. His instruction to the young couple was to act on and live out every desire that they had because they were all desires given by God--WHOA! He went on to illustrate that Jesus first miracle was to create, and in His creation of this wine for the wedding feast He was giving His blessing for the people to get and stay drunk--WHOA WHOA! By the way, it was also obvious that this gentleman took liberal advantage of this belief as he too reeked of liquor. So there you have it. You go out for a night of swing dancing with friends and what do you get? Some verrrry shaky theology from a sloshed "baptist pastor" with just enough knowledge of Scripture to be dangerous.

On another note, Greg, Gina, Shaunna, and I have decided to take a few ballroom/swing lessons here in town to ensure that we'll be the ones dancing circles next time! ha ha...

Here are some pics from that evening:

Perplexing Mysteries of Ducks

posted by Jeffrey on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 at 9:32 AM

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Perplexing are the mysteries that are revealed in the silence, stillness, and solitude (whoops, that alliteration wasn't on purpose...). Late last Wednesday night I sought a venue where I might find refuge to think, write, and be still (which normally also involves puffing on a pipe)--what I found, was much more. As I ventured out the dark and curvy Saundersville road, I found myself settling by the boat ramp at Langford's cove on Old Hickory Lake only to be disturbed by a group of ducks and a man with his son putting in for some late night fishing. It was in the ducks however that my adventure would lie.

Sitting in the back of my truck, I watched as two beautiful white ducks floated around the dock near where I was parked. One duck was very large and the other was smaller and more dainty. It is for this lone reason that, in my imagination, they must have been "husband and wife". I watched as they silently glided across the water (knowing that their feet were churning a mile a minute beneath the surface) with the "wife" duck taking point most of the time. Without a single discernable quack or gesture, they turned and darted here and there in perfect harmony with each other.

I must admit, the reason for my reflective solitude this night was that I may seek an audience with my Creator-Savior that is not often possible in the busyness of life. As I watched these two ducks, that too are the work of His hands, I sensed that I was in conversation with my Father. I have been wondering several things about my relationship with Jesus as of late. One has been, simply because I haven't been "feeling" or "hearing" Him in noticeable ways recently, "is our relationship not as intimate as it once seemed to be?" Another has been, "is God taking me into a new stage and definition of intimacy completely?"

Back to the ducks. What if God (the big "husband" duck) longs to bring us (the smaller "wife" duck) to a place of intimacy where He no longer has to be out in front in plain view, but instead is able to stay right behind us as we move totally in sync together? Isn't that a greater form of intimacy after all? Isn't when I know what my wife needs and what she'll ask for before she ever does more intimate then when she asks and I simply respond? This theology has seemed a little shaky over the past week as I've thought about it, but something I read this morning has re-kindled a spark of hope. Isaiah 30:21 says, "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" It is interesting however, that when the "wife" duck came to pass through the dark and murky waters that lie beneath the dock, she froze. At this point the "husband" duck took point and lead her through the danger. I wonder if God is the same...

Sunday's Conversation

posted by Jeffrey on Monday, October 17, 2005 at 9:59 AM

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As mentioned in the previous post, we took our conversation to the Hermitage Starbucks last night. After a few week detour in conversation, we resumed discussing the book of Acts with chapter twelve.

In this chapter, Peter finds himself imprisoned under Herod Agrippa I. Just for further clarification, this is NOT the same Herod that presided over the trial of Jesus; that was Agrippa I's uncle, Herod Antipas. Nevertheless, Agrippa I had already imprisoned and executed a number of those belonging to the Church, including James, the brother of John, one of Jesus' twelve disciples. So Peter (another of the twelve disciples) sits in prison on the night before his "trial", chained between 2 soldiers and guarded by 14 more. One would expect that he would be in fervent prayer through all hours of the night, instead, he sleeps. How could this be? How could he be so peaceful in the face of a death that would surely be incredibly heinous and excrutiating? Several opinions were expressed in response to this question last night. One was that he fully expected God to deliver him, thus he need not worry. Another was that he was secure that God's will would be done--whatever that may be. Greg added the thought, "Peter had already faced his greatest weakness and pain--denying Christ on the night of his arrest. After that, everything seemed to be uphill."

As it turns out, God did deliver Peter from prison that night. He awoke as his chains fell off his wrists and followed an angel of the Lord out of the prison, past the 14 guards, and through the iron gate leading to the city (which opened by itself). After he and the angel get a block into the city, the angel leaves him. It is only now when Peter "comes to himself" and realizes that journey of deliverance had really happened. Until then, he thought he had been dreaming (this gave rise again to the conversation from a few weeks ago about God's purpose for creating the dream world). One of the coolest portions of the evening, in my opinion, was when we spent some time sharing about some of the "iron gates" that had been locked in our lives and that God alone had mysteriously swung open. Had we noticed it then, or like Peter did we need to look back from a block away to see it? We also spent some time discussing some of the "iron gates" in our lives that remained locked and what our feelings about those were. It was at this point that we were joined by Ted, an art teacher at Tulip Grove Elementary, who I'd been talking to prior to the start of this conversation. He brought some really cool thoughts and perspectives to the conversation and I personally was surprised at his openness to a group of strangers. Thanks for hanging out Ted, hope to see ya again!

The conversation went on, but as for this post, well it's getting a little long. As I find myself deterred from reading long posts regardless of the quality of the content, I shall say farewell for now. Back to the daily grind...

This Sunday's Conversation

posted by Jeffrey on Friday, October 14, 2005 at 11:46 AM

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This Sunday we'll be taking our converstion this week to Starbucks in Hermitage. Yes, yes, this is breaking my mini-boycot of the corporate money monger, but hey, Panera isn't open yet ;-). Anyway, if you need directions you can find them at the above link. See ya Sunday evening @ 6:00!

Sunday's Conversation

posted by Jeffrey on Tuesday, October 11, 2005 at 8:00 AM

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This topic for this past Sunday's conversation was--you guessed it--porn. had declared this past Sunday "national porn sunday", so we took that opportunity to turn our conversation towards the ever taboo topic.

So here's the million dollar question: Why is porn such a strong addiction? More people in our world today are addicted to some form of porn than ANY other drug or vice in existence. Well, in my opinion, the ONLY vice that may have more people hooked than porn, is food--but no statistics or studies count that as an addiction--I do. More than 25 million Americans alone spend at least an hour per week viewing internet porn. No wonder the porn industry gross's more than 5 billion dollars annually.

So before we talk about the exact conversation and ideas we discussed Sunday night, I'd like to hear some comments from yall on why porn is such a strong addiction. Ready? Go...

Noah in 2005

posted by Jeffrey on Thursday, October 06, 2005 at 9:02 AM

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I'm not a big email "forward" person, but I got this today and thought it worthy of more than a forward, but of a post. I do think the satirical point portrayed is unfortunately accurate.
Noah in 2005:

In the year 2005, the Lord came unto Noah, who was now living in the United States, and said, "Once again, the earth has become wicked and over-populated and I see the end of all flesh before me. Build another Ark and save two of every living thing along with a few good humans."

He gave Noah the blueprints, saying "You have 6 months to build the Ark before I will start the unending rain for 40 days and 40 nights".

Six months later, the Lord looked down and saw Noah weeping in his yard... but no ark.

Noah, " He roared, "I'm about to start the rain! Where is the Ark?"

Forgive me, Lord," begged Noah. "But things have changed. I needed a building permit. I've been arguing with the inspector about the need for a sprinkler system. My neighbors claim that I've violated the neighborhood zoning laws by building the Ark in my yard and exceeding the height limitations. We had to go to the Development Appeal Board for a decision.

Then the department of Transportation demanded a bond be posted for the future costs of moving power lines and other overhead obstructions, to clear the passage for the Ark's move to the sea. I argued that the sea would be coming to us, but they would hear nothing of it.

Getting the wood was another problem. There's a ban on cutting local trees in order to save the spotted owl. I tried to convince the environmentalists that I needed the wood to save the owls. But no go!

When I started gathering the animals, I got sued by and animal rights group. They insisted that I was confining wild animals against their will.

As well, they argued the accommodation was too restrictive and it was cruel and inhumane to put so many animals in a confined space.

Then the EPA ruled that I couldn't build the Ark until they'd conducted an environmental impact study on your proposed flood. I'm still trying to resolve a complaint with the Human Rights Commission on how many minorities I'm supposed to hire for my building crew. Also, the trades unions say I can't use my sons. They insist I have to hire only Union workers with Ark building experience.

To make matters worse, the IRS seized all my assets, claiming I'm trying to leave the country illegally with endangered species. So, forgive me, Lord, but it would take at least ten years for me to finish this Ark."

Suddenly the skies cleared, the sun began to shine, and a rainbow stretched across the sky.

Noah looked up in wonder and asked, "You mean, You're not going to destroy the world?".

"No," said the Lord. "The government beat me to it."

No Every-Other-Mid-Week-Dinner-Hang-Out-Thing This Week

posted by Jeffrey on Tuesday, October 04, 2005 at 1:27 PM

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Just a quick note to say that do to a plethera of conflicts such as school schedules, medical procedures, and all around exhaustion, we'll NOT be having our ever other mid week dinner hang out thing this Wednesday night. But see ya Sunday night at Greg & Gina's. This week will be a special conversation topic--PORN. After all, this Sunday is "National Porn Sunday".