Thursday, January 22, 2009


Tonight was my "pre-moving." Ben Gantt and Laura Robert's Community Group helped me box up books, DVDs, etc both at home and in my office, and then we moved the boxes and some light furniture over to my new abode in Shelby Park. Moving books is usually a pain but being surrounded by dear brothers and sisters made it great, honestly. There wasn't too much work to do (I'm dropping the heavy lifting on my Community Group this Tuesday, because I love them like that) and afterwards, we ate chili and just hung for a few hours. It was, quite simply, great. Christian Community is sweeter than honey.

I spend most of today in seclusion, preparing my place for tonight, yes, but trying to pray as I went. I definitely feel as if my prayers were lacking, but nevertheless, I was encouraged. As I sorted through desk drawers filled with old papers, old photos, and the like, I was reminded of how far God has brought me, and through what circumstances. I was reminded that the Lord is good, that he has been abundantly kind to me thus far, and he will continue to do until his kingdom comes.

We're reading through the Old Testament together at Sojourn. I really mesh with Jacob's honest prayer he prays just days before meeting with Esau. He knew that he was not worthy of the grace bestowed on him, but he knew that God had bestowed it on him. If it was given by grace, would it not continue by grace? It was. And it did. Likewise I know that the Lord is good to me. He is my father. I need not fear when I ask him for daily bread.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Thabiti Anyabwile on Gospel Rap

So, Thabiti was definitely at my Starbucks on Monday. Pretty cool.

As I've thought about the city and urban ministry more, I've started to reflect on what a transformed "hip hop" culture might look like. These reflections are embryonic, at best, but I really enjoyed what Thabiti has to say. Just push play.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Where Were You in Two-thousand Two?" My Farewell to Boyce College

Where were you in 2002? On May 3, 2002, Spider-Man released in theatres and I was at the earliest possible showing in the city: 10:00 am, Eastern Daylight Time, Dothan, Alabama.

Alabama, you say? And what the heck does this have to do with Boyce? Spidey-senses tingling!

Fair questions both. My joyous watching of Sam Raimi's film came at the end of a trip of discovery. Just a week and a half earlier, my family had flown into Atlanta, Ga, and driven the five-ish hours north to Louisville to check out this young, up-and-coming Bible college my father had read about. I had read the catalog and such and was captivated by the thought of forgoing math to study the New Testament. (I would be greatly let-down when math was inserted into the catalog, later.) Boyce would be the only school I visited, and my first trek to River City would begin a long relationship with what was originally known as the James P. Boyce College of the Bible.

Boyce's name changed (for the better) and so did I. A perusing of the archives of this blog (or worse, a visit to will provide a bit of prospective on how radical the change has been. I would, over time, learn to out grow some of my old predispositions and embrace hard truths. I became involved, becoming a Resident Leader in my fourth semester, (a post I would hold until graduation). I became popular (if only the old gang back in AZ could have seen me then). I became attached.

Graduation introduced me into a new world and though I struggled some, I was excited for the change and eager to move on with life, finish Seminary in three years (what was I thinking?), and move on to the next challenge. All of that changed with a single offer, though. Would I become Resident Director of Boyce College?

I assumed a post that I was shocked to hold. As a Resident Leader, I had revered my supervisor (then called Resident Supervisor), Aaron "Flip" Filippone. Fortunately, I loved him too much to try and be him. I led as I felt best and under the leadership of another hero, Dr. Chip Collins, I was able to make changes. I had the privilige and blessing of leading men and women whom I had once served alongside, and this past semester was the best yet.

Nevertheless, I knew that I would leave this job one day, but last Wednesday, I learned that day was far sooner than supposed. The Seminary is in a budget crisis and 35 staff members are being laid off. Sadly, the Resident Director position is one of those being deleted, and with it, my time at Boyce has come to an end. I was blessed to study here for four years (and humbled to be honored as I was) and was blessed as well to serve here for these past three semesters. I leave Boyce, at long last, on January 30, but many dear memories will come with me. By God's grace, my name remains etched and stitched in the Patio Room.

What more can I say? I would be lying if I assumed that any good that has come to me since 2002 (or for that mattter, since 1985) has been because of my doing or my own hands. No! It has been God's grace from start to finished, engineered by him according to the counsel of his will. I leave Boyce but I know that my life continues.

I am excited for the next chapter. God has provided a place for me to live in Shelby Park, near The 930, which is my church's building. I look forward to participating more in our missional work in that neighborhood as well as to giving my attention to other things that have neglected for a while, namely my Community Group I lead and my master's work at Southern.

I could rant on for a while, but let me end with a simple, "God bless." May God bless everyone at Boyce College, especially the student body. It has been my honor and privilige to have known you for these many years and may God keep you safe until we meet again.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Going, Going...

Seven years. Seven years is a long time. No matter what the circumstance, it's hard to fathom separation after that span of time. Part of me had thought that the time was coming soon, the other part of me thought there was yet fruitful work left. Regardless, God's will is good. It's not just abstractly good, either. His work in this present situation is good, good for me, even. His plans are better for me than I could plan. What a thought! Every time I read that Ephesians passage about how God can do more than we can ask or imagine, I think of Han Solo, incredulous, insisting that he "can imagine an awful lot." Regardless, in the face of the unknown, I find this God who is indeed known to me, who has made himself known to me, I find him telling me that his plans for me are for good and not for evil, that his will will be done and that his kingdom will yet be consummated soon. I look forward to that day and know that while it is still today, there is much work to be done.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Attack of the Random Thoughts: '09 Innaugeral Edition

I hate the feeling when you wake up restless and unable to get back to sleep. Oh well. I guess this gives me a chance to thought process.

I'm excited to be a groomsman today. Maybe it's a dorky desire but I don't care. I've known Jonathan "Biggz" Owens a long time, the same for Lindsey Wilson. That the Lord has brought them together is a testament to his great grace and his sovereignty over the story lines of our lives. We had the bachelor party on Friday night (Mongolian + bowling), rehearsal/dinner last night, and now, "the bells are going to chime." (Side note: you can know Biggz too! Please watch the aptly titled YouTube video, "Biggz Kicked In the Face," below.) It's been a blessing to celebrate so thoroughly with them, but my confession is that my Christological reflection has been weak. In other words, I know that marriage is of the clearest pictures of how Jesus relates to his church, who is his bride. I haven't been chewing on that though. I haven't been drawing joy from this, one of the most joyful of truths.

I'll put it another way. I've been re-reading C.S. Lewis's last and greatest novel, Till We Have Faces. The novel is a re-working of the Greek myth of Cupid & Psyche, set in ancient England. The thrust of the story resonates deeply with me - the fight to believe and know the gods. From ol' Jack's and my perspective, this is really about the fight of any human being to believe in Christ. I won't spoil the story for you, but in midst of a charged exchange, a believer in the gods entreats another with the words, "Why should our hearts not dance?"

Look, this world is a world of sin. I was reminded in Chicago, where despite the beautiful buildings and rich culture, corruption is king. Gov. Rod Blagojevich tried to sell a Senate seat. A Senate seat! I'm reminded in Louisville, be it driving in Germantown or making an infrequent trip to Mall St. Matthews. In both of those contexts, I see people walking around, almost in a daze. They are trapped in cycles of poverty and/or greed, worshiping idols who cannot help. Even so, I feel my heart straying away from the only reason I have to rejoice: Jesus Christ. In spite of all this, because of all this, we must must must must must rejoice in Christ all the more. As Poe said, "Ours is a world of sweets and sours."

So, I guess I'll close with some Sandra. This about says it perfectly for me. Oh, this world is beautiful and tragic, oh my sin constantly shocks me, oh how I fight to keep clutching my idols, and oh how none of this will be fully rectified until kingdom come. Come quickly Lord Jesus.

Rock of Ages,
When in want or rest,
My desperate need
For such a Savior I confess
Pull these idols out
From my heart embrace
Rock of Ages, I need your grace.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Down & Up

I'm learning how to preach the gospel to myself, but it is hard. It is hard enough on a normal day. It's even harder when I sin. Unfortunately for me, this is the "in season" and "out of season" of my self-preaching. I need to hear it everyday. I need to hear it now.

Some of my pastors have phrased it as going "Down the slope of repentance and up the slope of faith." Going down the slope of repentance involves first, seeing and owning my sin, then, seeing the sin beneath my sin, and finally, exposing the idols/false lovers of my heart. Proceeding up the slope of faith involves four assertions: Jesus lived for me, Jesus died for me, God sees me in Jesus, Jesus lives in me.

I'm really good at wallowing in guilt but really bad at claiming my sin. This is exactly what Satan wants, because worldly sorrow leads to death. Jesus Christ lived and died for me, and as Luther said, Jesus only saves real sinners, not pretend ones. Unless I'm honest about my sin, I cannot be saved. The thing about my sin, though, is that it's not the truest thing about me. Jesus is the truest thing about me. God sees me in Jesus. I struggle with seeing me in Jesus, but that's where I am.

In his sermon the other week, Pastor Rob Plummer talked about how we need to keep rehearsing biblical things, like calling each other "brother" or "sister," until they sink in and we say them out heartfelt conviction. Going up and down these slopes is in the same vein. I will never get beyond the Gospel. That's a good thing.

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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Chicago (All Things Go)

It's 7:30 am local time. I am amongst an "Epoch of Eight" brothers who have trekked to Chicago for a long weekend. We've threaded New Year's Day into the coming weekend, and thanks to the hotel discount one of our party enjoys as part of his pay package, namely the one and only Michael Scott Daniel, we are enjoying the posh accommodations of the Hampton Inn Majestic in the Chicago Theater District. We left about midday on the 1st and arrived at the brightly lit Metropolis skyline later that night.

Aided by the internet and the expertise of Jason Myhre (who previously interned here, unsure as to whether it was unpaid or not), we have gotten off the beaten path. Deep-dish at Giordano's, Chicago dogs at Gold Coast Hot Dogs, Thai at Siam Noodle and Rice, Coffee at Intelligentsia, nothing has disappointed. Yesterday was a cultural day, as we split our attention was split between two art museums (Michael and I opted for the Art Institute of Chicago, seeing some of my favorite paintings in the world, chief of which is Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks.") and spent the evening at the local jazz haunt, Green Mill. Today, as both money and energy is a bit thin from yesterday, will feature more rest but of course, further exploration is a must.

We've remarked throughout the trip about how much of a blessing from God this has been. We've had the chance to rest, to laugh, to encourage, to listen, to pray. Such things only come to us by the hand of our Lord Jesus Christ. What a kind savior he is!

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