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Moving...

Dec. 20th, 2006 | 04:05 pm

I'm going to be posting now at a new location (virtually speaking).

The Want of Peace.

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Leadership...

Oct. 20th, 2006 | 03:28 pm

These are some stats regarding the 535 members of the United States Congress:

* 29 have been accused of spousal abuse
* 7 have been arrested for fraud
* 19 have been accused of writing bad checks
* 117 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses
* 3 have done time for assault
* 71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit
* 14 have been arrested on drug-related charges
* 8 have been arrested for shoplifting
* 21 are currently defendants in lawsuits
* 84 have been arrested for drunk driving in the last year

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John Brown

Oct. 5th, 2006 | 11:20 am
music: White Daisy Passing - Rocky Votolato

I'm reading Evan Carton's book "Patriotic Treason" about the life of abolitionist John Brown. Brown's contemporary Wendell Phillips asserted that Brown "loosened the roots of the slave system" in the United States. Once I'm through I'll post more well developed thoughts. I'm fascinated by the convergence of so many important issues in the life of one man: Love of God producing love of neighbor, social justice, emancipation, the place of violence in the Christian life, racism, patriotism, the Declaration of Independence, the US constitution, civil obedience and disobedience, the Church's place as an agent of social change. In his essay "The last days of John Brown", Henry David Thoreau said: John Brown's career for the last six weeks of his life was meteor-like, flashing through the darkness in which we live. I know of nothing so miraculous in our history." I'm looking forward to gaining more insight into this fascinating man.

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Newark

Oct. 5th, 2006 | 11:18 am

Many of you know by now that Jill, the kids and I moved to Newark OH back in August. I took a staff position here at Newark Naz as pastor to families. I took the position for two reasons: 1. I get a chance to spend my time nurturing and equipping whole families to be followers of Christ. 2. The leadership of this faith community decided not to be conformed to the pattern of this world and sold a 48 acre plot of land outside the city. The land had been set aside for a shiny new building that probably would have propelled this church into the 2,000 plus range in terms of worship service attendance. When they sold the land and decided to stay here in this "less than desirable" neighborhood, it made me take notice. While I'm sure that I wont always see eye to eye with Wes (Wes Humble the lead pastor here) or other staff members, I thank God that I have the opportunity to work with people who believe that we can actually live out Matthew 5-7. That they aren't just "pretty words" as Dallas Willard would say. That it is possible to love God and neighbor. That we can live justly, love mercy, and walk in humility with our God. God grant us the courage to live as your followers and not just admirers. Peace...

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One Ring to rule them all...

Aug. 23rd, 2006 | 01:34 pm

I usually don't like bumper stickers but I saw one yesterday that made me laugh. It said:

"Frodo failed. Bush has the Ring."

I'm not really into bashing the President but if you're going to bash him, you may as well be creative. :-)

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

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Sherman Andrew Wright

Jul. 23rd, 2006 | 11:34 pm
music: Black Star - Gillian Welch

My Grandfather passed away last week after suffering from bone cancer. He was a good and a simple man. He liked a well mowed yard, a warm house, and good tobacco. He put the needs and wants of his family and others above his own. I'll miss him.

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More musings on the Church and Empire...

Jul. 3rd, 2006 | 01:51 pm
music: Spring Provides - Matt Pond

These are excerpts from some e-mail correspondence on the place of political rallies, flags, and party promotion in worship:

Here's the issue. Are we talking about the United States relative to other countries? If so then there's no question in my mind that we have the best form of government on the planet. We have the best economy, we have the highest quality of life (by which I mean that we can get what we want and need. However, it's debatable how good that really is for us). We have the most freedoms and for the most part, the ability to choose our direction in life. If we are comparing our form of government to that of France, England, China, Saudi Arabia or any other country then we have nothing to complain about. But that's not what we're comparing it to. We're comparing the USA to God's kingdom, and in that kind of comparison it falls woefully short. We are compelled to pledge allegiance to the Kingdom that will last forever not the one that is fading away.

I am so thankful for those that have gone before us in this country. I honor them and study them and listen to them every chance I get. It's a huge part of how I know who I am. If we're talking about giving our allegiance to any country in the world I would give mine to this one, the one built on the blood, sweat, and tears of our ancestors. But that's not what we're talking about. We desire to give our allegiance to the Kingdom built on the One who sweat great drops of blood and shed that same blood for us on the Cross. Our country versus others is apples vs. apples and in that case I'll take my Jackson county apples any day. Our country versus God's kingdom and I'm taking His kingdom, whether that is offensive or not.

On the subject of worship services: I personally never preach politics from the pulpit (at least I don't support any party or candidate). It's not because the danger of nationalism, though that would be a good enough reason for me. I don't do it because the pulpit is not mine, it's not our country's, it's only for God. It is for our proclaiming and hearing His words as members of His Kingdom, not for speaking the words of a worldly empire to citizens of that empire. There may be other times and places for that, but not in worship. Worship is for God, not the USA.

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Dinzle Brown Sr.

Jun. 21st, 2006 | 02:30 pm

I want to honor my wife's papaw, Dinzle Brown. He drove a jeep up onto the beaches of Normandy on June 6th 1944. As a student of history that blows me away. His jeep eventually ran over a land mine and he was knocked unconscious. A German nurse found him and took him to an Allied medical unit. He fought in many battles throughout the remainder of the war in Europe and Africa. I can't tell you how many times I've been talking to him about things I've studied and he was actually there at specific battles as if he stepped right out of the pages of history. He is one of the greatest people I know, mostly because I see Christ in his actions and hear Christ in his words every time I'm around him. I honor him for his great sacrifice. I love him because he points me to the one who's sacrifice was ultimate...

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Musings on the Church and Empire...

Jun. 21st, 2006 | 02:23 pm

It is hard sometimes to go against the flow and say things that you know are true, but are not popular. My grandfathers and my wife's grandfathers fought in WWII, my uncles fought in Korea and Vietnam, and my friends have served in Iraq. I love them all deeply and am in awe of their courage in such circumstances. On the 4th of July I will celebrate their lives and thank God for them. I have a deep appreciation for the fact that because of them I can sit here in peace and write this. Many of them are heros to me far beyond their military service.

It saddens (and angers) me though that we have elevated our country and its values to a place of equality with our Faith and ultimately with God. The reality in such a situation is that we have elevated our country's values above God (I think that any time you elevate something to equality with God you have actually elevated it above God). We would certainly never say that, but we function that way. We constantly question God's way, the way of radical peace and reconciliation, but we are infuriated when people question our governmental leaders (that is, when they're the ones we like!). I could say from the pulpit that "turning the other cheek" or selling everything and giving it to the poor is too hard and highly impractical without hearing a peep from the Christian community. If on the other hand I say that the war in Iraq is unjust and that our President has at the very least committed a grave error in judgment (if not a full blown moral lapse), I would come close to being ostracized. This despite the fact that Christians in Iraq are dying from our missile strikes (There are thousands and thousands of Iraqi Christians). Christians are dying from our bombs! We don't condemn such anti-Christian action and certainly don't call our country love and pray for our enemies. We turn a blind eye to the death our own kind for the sake of our American "values" and our dependency on Empire to keep us safe. Such is the state of the Church when we're in bed with the worldly Empire, as it was when Israel's kings ruled and Israel's prophets were stoned to death. Such is the state of the church when our politics are so closely tied with worldly political parties.

We are a house divided.  It is one of the main reasons we have so many problems.  When we become agents of this worldly Empire we divide our allegiance.  To God, divided allegiance is no allegiance at all.  I have a feeling that when we stand before God, He is going to call us to account for the fact that we prominently displayed the symbol of a worldly kingdom in our worship services which are supposed to be devoted solely to Him.  We have a loving and merciful God but not a God who is prone to sharing us with any other gods.  I'm picking on the American flag but it is only a symbol of how our connection and dependance on worldly Empire has drawn us away from God.  (By the way how many churches will be flying the American flag above the Christian flag on the 4th?!  Not that I think the Christian flag has much meaning but if we're going to fly them, then which one goes on the top?  Who are we really pledging allegiance to?). We will never be what we could be or should be until we depend solely on God without faith in any worldly Empire.

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Have a blessed Easter...

Apr. 16th, 2006 | 08:39 am

Christ is risen!

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