Showing posts from January, 2012


He's nothing special. That's probably what he'd tell you. That's what many may tell him.

He's a young man, mid-20s, physically capable and intellectually thirsty. He reads. He talks. He sips coffee and eats simply.

He has a high school diploma and has aspirations for further education, although he needed to find himself first. The search took a while. He's always seeking.

He moves from job to job, not because he's a poor worker or because he has a bad attitude. He gets laid off, or he's told "we only needed you during the Christmas rush." His resume looks suspicious. He'll explain it to you if you're willing to listen.

His family will only help so much. They measure his worth by what he can contribute. They frequently tell him he needs to go. He loves them. He strives to understand.

He loves simplicity. He'd live at the library if you let him. What he owns can fit in his car. Just give him a place to shower and eat. He may resist; work …

Pop Culture Roundup

Believe it or not, I'm still reading This Odd and Wondrous Calling, which you may remember I started way back at the end of November. It's one of those books that I pick up, read a chapter, and then leave alone for a while. That's not really a commentary on the content or quality of writing, I just haven't been in a hurry to read ministry books in this season of my life. Nevertheless, Lillian Daniel has a good chapter about pastor spouses, including some good observations about the differences in expectations if said spouse is male or female.

Mad Men is growing on me. The first few episodes, I couldn't really get past some of the cultural stuff that was apparently considered appropriate in that time period. Having watched a few more episodes now, the characters are starting to grow on me as I see more of their depth and insecurities beginning to come out. A lot of the office people are still pretty two-dimensional, but I imagine that that will change the more I get …

Temptation and Clarification

Yesterday was the 7th anniversary of my ordination. It was on that day seven years ago that I took the vows I've been trying to live into ever since. It was yesterday that I was sent a message by a colleague inviting me (and others) to reflect on Jesus' time in the wilderness. He suggested that Jesus spent those 40 days being tried and tempted while working out his vocation, and invited all of us to reflect on how we are tried and tempted while doing the same. It also happened that I've been invited to reflect on Jesus' wilderness time during my Ignatian Exercises this week. All this together, my spiritual director will no doubt say later today, was less than a mere coincidence, with which I'll not disagree.

Anyway, as I ponder my ordination this week, I've been thinking about such temptations, but also clarifications that have come over these seven years, and figured I'd blog both.

Trials and Temptations

1. Leave before the job is done. At the sign of resista…

Booing the Golden Rule

On Monday night, the Republican candidates for president had yet another debate, this time in South Carolina. I haven't made it a point to watch them: there have been so many, I don't want to devote 2-3 hours to watching them, and WWE Monday Night RAW was on (which, you know, same thing). I do tend to read up afterward and watch the running commentary on my Twitter timeline during the event, so I stay in the loop in my own way.

So I'm reading the commentary during Monday's debate, and all these tweets start appearing about the "Golden Rule" being booed by the crowd. For those unfamiliar with what that term refers to, Jesus' version appears in Matthew 7:12: "In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets."

Anyway, as I read tweet after tweet referring to this event, I became incredulous. A state known for a more conservative, evangelical population booed one of the most well-known statements Jesus …

The Taskmaster

I am hunched over my computer keyboard in the late afternoon, feeling my eyes turning red and dry from exposure to the screen's penetrating light. I've barely filled a page, mostly single-sentence paragraphs, and it's as if they mock me for not writing more.

I reach for my coffee, freshly steaming in a mug I'd received before leaving for college. It's been washed so many times that the seal of my alma mater has faded, a dull brown against black rather than its formerly brilliant gold.

It is worn, and I am worn. But I know that I need to finish, and soon.

I take a moment to read over my work again. My attention wanders back to my drink, and I suddenly sense that I’m no longer alone. There was no sound of his approaching, he hasn’t said a word. His presence behind me, however, is unmistakable. I feel my chest tighten as this realization fully sets in, and I finish the action of sipping and setting the mug back down in order to feel some semblance of control, of n…

Pop Culture Roundup

The only book I've read this year so far has been Fallen Pastor by Ray Carroll, which I reviewed here.

At some point, somewhere, somebody said to somebody else, "Hey, let's retell the story of 'Romeo and Juliet' using lawn gnomes and featuring the music of Elton John." And for some reason, the other person said, "Yeah, that sounds like a surefire hit!" As it turns out, this conversation did not happen in a college dorm room while passing around a cigarette with questionable contents, but in a boardroom at Dreamworks (which for all I know may be the same thing). The result is Gnomeo and Juliet, which Coffeeson has wanted to watch several times a day for at least a week now. Two rival yards full of lawn decorations go back and forth, Gnomeo meets Juliet, hopefully you know the gist. There is actually a lawn gnome who comes out at the very beginning and says, "The story you're about to see has been told...a lot." Indeed. James McAvo…

Small Sips Prefers to Call It "Denarding"

Thank God for Touchdowns. Greg at The Parish reflects on the act of "Tebowing," which for the uninitiated, is the term coined for Broncos QB Tim Tebow kneeling and praying in the endzone after a touchdown:
All that to say that Tebow's public expressions of faith don't trouble me. I do think it's worse than stupid to assume god gives two shits about the outcome of a game, but I understand why some fundangelicals believe he does. Tebow sports a Bible verse on his eye-black. So? At least it's not Leviticus 18:22. He prays. Billions of people pray. He prays publicly. You get the point. He's acting like a very committed, outspoken man of faith. Give it a rest, people. If you hate Florida, say so. If you don't like that he's big and goofy and gives all the credit to his god, say so. I will admit to some glee at watching his evangelical fan base gnash their teeth when I mock them with tweets about Dagon being god of Denver, just as Maher annoyed millions…


It's Epiphany. The 12 days of Christmas (yes, it's more than a song) are officially over. This is the day when pagan astrologers, curious about activity in the night sky they so adeptly watched, set off on a journey to find a child toddling his way around Mary and Joseph's modest abode, bringing him expensive gifts which no doubt raised his parents' eyebrows as they continued to make sense of their collective calling. This is a day to remember that, to remember God's manifestation in Jesus, to remember God's manifestation in all of existence, to talk about the light of the star and the light of our lives.

For me, this is a day seeking that manifestation as I wrestle with a couple things.

I wrestle with being de-friended on Facebook by someone declaring he would no longer be friends with Michigan fans. This was a fraternity brother with whom I was always on good terms, a guy I laughed with and hugged and supported during moments when the group was experiencing…

Book Review: Fallen Pastor by Ray Carroll

The problem in asking “why” is the fear of justifying the act. Reconciliation is virtually impossible in most situations because the prevailing church culture never wants to condone what originally happened. And instead of seeking our reconciliation and restoration, which are the hallmarks of the church, we ignore the problem hoping it will go away. It never does. The only way to answer the question is to face it and listen to it. - Fallen Pastor, p. 50

In my personal quest to seek out and define the hallmarks of a longer pastorate, I've discovered two things: 1) there are many more than I realized, and 2) they're the sorts of things that pastors constantly hear about doing. I've written before that there is no magic bullet for building a long-term relationship with a congregation. Instead, there is only the intentional and the mundane: taking time off, seeking a support network, and intentional time with family, among others.

There can be darker consequences when past…

A New Year's Post I Told Myself I Wouldn't Write

For me personally, 2011 was a pretty good year. I seemed to see a lot of friends through social media express desires for last year to basically go to hell, but I have no big gripes about it.

I think that 2011 was a year of finding balance between family and church. It was a year where I started seeing both a spiritual director and a counselor, where I was challenged to think outside my usual well-worn paths on several fronts for the better. It was a year where the fruits of a longer pastorate began to ripen with promises of more to come. It was a year where Coffeewife finally graduated, Coffeeson was finally potty-trained, and I finally made a decision on more formal schooling myself. It was the year The Rock returned, Michigan football became relevant again, and Five Iron Frenzy reunited.

I can only give thanks for 2011 and all that it included. Not everyone experienced it as such, but I'll remember it as being a positive one rich with celebrations and learning.

So, onto 2012…