Too Mutch

...a safe place to dance with ideas, play with theology, and re-create a life implicated by God

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Firing the Catholics?

Cornerstone University has fired a technology staff member after learning that he was a Catholic. You can read about it here. See the two articles titled "CU employee fired because of faith" and "Students respond to firing of Graves."

A couple of months ago, Scot McKnight posted here about a philosophy professor at Wheaton College that was fired after converting to Roman Catholocism. Both men, according to my understanding, were willing in good faith to sign the statements of faith that these institutions require.

So, do you think they have been treated justly / fairly?

Now, moving on to a retelling of a story Donald Miller told at the National Pastor's Convention that I think applies here to some degree...

I was having coffee with a friend who attends a bible college and we were talking about my involvement and ministry at Reed College. At Reed, anything goes. There are, essentially, no rules and no one can be excluded or persecuted...that is...except Christians. And so my friend was really bothered by this unfair treatment. He felt that it was not only unfair, but also rigid and exlusionary. So I asked him, "What if Reed had a written policy that essentially stated what is already being lived out? What if they had a policy that said suspected Christians on campus would be forced to sign an affidavit saying that they were, indeed, not a Christian?"

This friend of mine didn't like the sound of that. He believed strongly that Christians ought to be able to attend Reed College without being set aside or persecuted. Then, carefully, I pointed out to him that the Bible College he was attending required people to sign just the kind of affidavit we were talking about.

So, is any of this unfair? Is it exclusionary? Are there "kingdom of God" implications here?

Monday, February 27, 2006

Back from San Diego

Christine and I returned home from San Diego late Saturday night. We had a wonderful time soaking up the sun and enjoyinig the company of Curt, Micah, John, Julie, and Nace (Oh, yea, there was a pretty good conference going on, too). No, that is not a misspelling--we met a dude from Mississippi named Nace and had a great time getting to know him and his family and his church (even though neither of the latter were present). The highlight of the week was an informal conversation with Scot McKnight over cigars by the pool. Better luck next time, Nace.

Also fun was a trip to the famous San Diego Zoo and dinner in La Jolla (both celebrating my birthday). Pictures to be added soon.

Here are some things on the horizon for my blog...
1. Lent is upon us. I will be offering some reflections on the Lenten season every Wednesday, starting this week with Ash Wednesday. I'd encourage anyone that's interested to find a local Episcopal Church (or maybe a Presbyterian Church) to take in some of the services they offer on Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Mars Hill will be hosting 2 Ash Wednesday services this week at 6 and 8pm. I wanna see those "plus" signs on everyone!!!

2. Having just spent some time at the National Pastor's Convention, I will give some thoughts, summaries, and/or questions provoked by the speakers I took in--Doug Pagitt, Scot McKnight, Donald Miller, John Burke, LeRon Shults to name a few.

3. A couple of weeks from now, I'll be blogging on the Enneagram. It should be interesting and fun. I have only recently heard of it, so I thought I'd do some reading and get some conversations going about it. Expect to learn more about me and yourself...

4. One of the things I took away from the conference was a renewed vigor for doing theology. So, a few of us have been talking about finding a night that we can meet at a pub for some "theology on tap." If you are interested or have ideas or suggestions for location, let me know. I'll keep you posted.

5. A bit more down the road...not quite on the horizon...are some discussions around "The Organic Church" by Neil Cole. I will allow this book to launch us into some discussions about doing church in new ways (at least new to me). Neil says in his book that scores of people are leaving the church...not to lose their faith...but in order to preserve it. What would a church without a building look like? What would a church without a 'senior pastor' look like? Send me ( your questions and ideas and we'll work them in.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Marching Contently

Last Sunday, we went to church twice. I promised that I'd come back and make some comments, so here it goes...

I originally intended to offer some thoughts on both experiences, but the reality is that one experience really stands out. It has stuck with me the whole week. I don't think a day has gone by that I haven't referenced that experience one way or another.

On musical and reflective worship...
Sunday morning was especially hard for Christine and I. We found ourselves in a new church we were checking out and we were missing our worship pastor, micah. Micah is a great friend and someone that I've grown to trust in leading me to a unique place of experiencing God. You know how some people get up to lead worship or preach and their voice changes...they get all syrup-y and get that "love" voice thing going. Well, Micah doesn't do that.

Someone that reminds me a lot of Micah is Troy at Mars Hill. So, Sunday night was a blessing because he lead us in worship much like Micah would have. And it was a sweet time of singing some old hymns and saying some prayers together and having some time to reflect and pray. No syrup--just how I like my worship!

On teaching and listening worship...
Jeff Manion (teaching pastor at Ada Bible Church) was the guest orator at Mars Hill. I was so encouraged to see the depth of relationship b/w the leaders of these two churches. I think other churches in the area feel like they are "competing" with Mars Hill. Not here. You could tell that there was mutuality and synergy between Jeff and the Mars Hill staff and their mission. So, when Jeff got up to preach, it was as if he was teaching HIS community, even though he was a guest.

There are many times we go to church and get (and feel) preached AT. Not with Jeff. He draws you in. He compels you to follow him through the text and into some stories and then out into real life. He did this for me as he talked about CONTENTMENT. He brought a kind of balance to the conversation that is usually lacking. He called us to be content BOTH in shortage and in plenty. He said, "We sometimes do 'poor' well, but we aren't so good with abundance." What he means here is, I believe, our level of dependence and trust in God. When we have little or nothing, we are more likely to be broken before God for all of our needs. In times of great need, it doesn't take discipline to rely so heavily on God. But when we've got ALL we need and so much more, it takes a kind of commitment and exercising so that we will trust and rely on the presence and faithfulness of God in our lives AS IF we had nothing.

worship translated into life...
I don't have a lot of concrete ways this applies right now. I can say that instead of going out for coffee this morning, I was compelled to stay home and have a tea (yes, for those of you that haven't heard, I've become a tea drinker). For me, right now, it has implications at a heart and mind level. Am I content this week--no job, no leads, cleaning the house, working on projects that have been neglected? Will I be content as the weeks go by and I still have not had any indication from God what might be next? Will I be content if God calls me for some period of time to work a job that pays me $8 or $10 /hr? Will I be content while he works on me during this time in my life?

I hope so. I have enjoyed much of my time this week. I've had more time and energy to do the things that make my wife smile. I'm hoping to use this time of unemployment to do some reading and get some counseling as it relates to the next steps for me (First on the list is engaging with the enneagram, which I'll fill you in on in a future post).

What do you think? Is it easier to be content in abundance or when we are lacking?

Here is the link to Jeff's sermon at Mars Hill 2/12/06

Monday, February 13, 2006

March of the Mutch's

What do you do when, as a pastor, you've had your position terminated? Well, Christine and I wanted to do something radical. We stood up and told the community we were part of that our commitment was not tied to a paycheck and that we were going to continue to be an active part of the community until God called us elsewhere.


What do you do when you are then asked(?) to step away and take a leave of absense from the community? Escaping to Hawaii and having church on the beach with a couple of Mai Tai's came to mind...


We snapped back to reality and decided that this could be an exciting time of checking out a bunch of local churches of all shapes, sizes, structures, demographics, etc. I am dubbing it "The March of the Mutch's." Having just watched The March of the Penguins the night before this tour de church started, it seemed appropriate.

Yesterday, we decided to hit two churches. Though it wasn't part of our plan, we ended up at 2 Calvary Church church plants. In the morning we went to Crossroads Bible Church in Walker. Then, when we heard what Jeff Manion was preaching on at Mars Hill, we went there in the evening. I'll try to come back to the meaningful experiences from these to places later this week.

To conclude this post, I'd like to ask a question. What are the parallels and connections between our tour de church and The March of the Penguins? If you've seen, take a shot and connecting some of the dots. I'll fill in with my own comments as we go.

redeeming unemployment,


Friday, February 10, 2006

Dusk or Dawn?

I'd like to share some thoughts that I journaled about just after finding out that my position at Calvary was being terminated...

There is a moment when the sun is rising and setting where if you didn't know what time of day it is, you wouldn't be able to tell if it was dusk or dawn. And that is how I feel. In some ways, I feel like the sun is setting on this chapter of my life. The things i've poured myself into over the last 2 years are becoming dim, yet remaining brilliant by the glow of the sun's rays. On the other hand, I believe that God has something marvelous and exciting in store for us in the next chapter, so it seems that maybe this is the sun breaking through and creating a breathtaking view of the sky--which really is the limit. A new day filled with new possibilities and new hopes and...

So, I'm a bit stuck. I feel less stuck today than I did 4 weeks ago, but I still feel like this is BOTH a sunset and a sunrise. The days ahead, I believe, will reveal the sky and the road ahead and much of this will begin to make sense. I pray it is soon.

Today is February 10th, 2006. When I leave Calvary Church in 30 minutes, I will be looking for the sunrise. The new day will be dawning. And I will be blessed to breathe in the cool air and be reminded that a lot of life is still out in front of me. I'd like this blog to be a place where I get to keep interacting with many of you. I want to share my life. I'll probably share "too mutch" with you, but that's just how I roll.

I'll be seeing you around,


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Working From Home

Friday February 1oth is my final day as part of the Calvary Church staff. Henceforth, I'll be working, writing, studying, etc. from home and coffee shops. I intend to share what I'm studying / thinking / living on this site. I hope you will find time here and there to visit the site and share your thoughts with me. The conversation will begin in the next few days...