Monday, July 28, 2003


Tis very invigorating to do church with no major agendas and spiffed up programs to have to "pull off." How do we concoct such a spectacle? What would that recipe look like?

1) Say we just come together around a baptism in the backyard and 18 people huddled around a cattle feeding trough and an approaching thunderstorm looming on the horizon.

2) Add a dash of quizzical looks from the pre-Christian neighbors.

3) Toss in a ripe, 90 lb. German Shepherd alternately circling the baptismal trough like a buzzard and diving in snout-first while the baptismal candidate is sharing how and why he came to Christ.

4) Sing and celebrate the newness of life as a community what is about to happen.

5) Watch Veritas' first intern baptize his brother.

6) Gather around a meal, have someone spontaneously share some scriptures they were discussing and glean some life-giving truths about the Christian journey (spurred by Abram's call in Genesis) and Jesus' harsh sayings about family (Luke 14:26).

7) Pray.........pray more........but begin by telling God "thanks" for all that he is and does and do it BEFORE we come with our barrage of requests........then surround and lay hands upon the girl who is going to have medical tests tomorrow............pray for those who have travelled many hours to be at the house and who must travel.........listen as the church offers spontaneous words/phrases of encouragement to the new convert (this is always cool)

8) Hang out some Sasquatch imitations from the Patterson/Gimlin film made in 1967 (yes, you've seen the famous clip of the said best filmed walking away from the photographers and looking back at them before disappearing into the Northern California woods. We started competing to see who could do the Sasquatch walk better when we went we do it just to laugh at Jason, whose Sasquatch more favors the gait of "J.J.", circa, "Good Times").........fetch Burt, who got off work early and was upset because he couldn't make house church........hang out some more.

I know it goes against the rules, but we don't have a real beginning and ending time for our gatherings. We typically go for 3-5 hours from the point in time the first person arrives until the last person leaves. It's just what winds up happening. There's no sermon to prep and drop. And that's what's so cool........tonight, the community was the sermon and there were about 18 points and, though there were no "poems," there were many poetic interludes throughout the evening as we partook in each other's lives. Mostly, we don't really know what might happen and I like that.

I don't know what we're doing to deserve this, but it sure feels right.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

We have yet again descended 'pon our little abode, again with two-fourths of the Birchfield clan in for the weekend. What a spankin' good time we had camping and caving in Harrison-Crawford State Forest. Cathy and I were the only two experienced cavers in our bunch. However, the six other brave souls tackled Langdon's Cave with gusto and panache and I am much impressed with their dexterity and fortitude. We have some brand new cavers to add to the fold......... Dave, Erica, Jason, Spen, Chris, Susie- thanks for being part of a great weekend together. I look forward to many more similar life-experiences with you all....and with those of you who could not be there this time. There's always more caving to do!

Got to camp in the Element, which was pretty funky and amazingly comfortable as advertised. We brought our tent and stuff, but we just wanted to do it since we could. Nice to know if our bums ever get booted out on the street we'll at least have a place to sleep.

The cap for the weekend will see another baptism at the Hester house church. Jason will be baptizing his brother, Spen, in the Veritas Baptistry (read, cattle trough), also in the Veritas sanctuary (read, the Johnson backyard). Remind me to clean up the doggie doo, will you?

Thursday, July 24, 2003

The Hester house church will be off to southern Indiana in a lil' over twelve hours for a camping/caving combo trip. These caves were my regular haunts back in those halcyon days of seminary. Not only will immense fun be had by all, we'll also see that there's nothing like some adventure recreation to teach you about trust and dependency in community. And we get to do it underground, beholden to the Creator for his fancy handiworks upon which no one can improve.

Okay… I’ve been a blog-slacker (blogacker?) here in the last few days. I was not the first, and - I dare say- I will not be the last. Excuse? I’ve had to return our new computer but we’re up and running again now.

What a phenomenal two days at the Brownhouse! How refreshing it is to be able to gather with like-minded, sold-out Kingdom emissaries and not have to explain your requisite eccentricities and the general phreeky things you do for the sake of the Gospel. How revitalizing it is to experience belly-laughing hours after the saline streams streak your face. Where else can the level of church-planter-type buffoonery run wild as it did this weekend at the Brownhouse? Where else can one begin a weekend with unknown faces and leave as a family? And, where else can one- as the Fine, Most High Reverend Saint Allantious Creechosporous deftly pointed out- be alone in a crowd and still be “there” if you need to? And, for the Leonardo Di Sweetio minions- how’s that for a “double ring”- community and solitude all at once?

Where else can one discover the kind of hospitality such as we see at the B-house? I expect we shall all begin to see glimpses of it in our own communities to be sure…..we cannot but impart the same grace we have gleaned from the days and lives shared on those grounds and between those walls.

Everytime we all gather together from our planted locales and then disperse again , I liken it to the Church taking a deep breath in and breathing out again. This is the kind of organic/ecclesiastic respiration I think is pleasing to Jesus and much more closely reflects the purest intentions of His Church from the beginning. This kind of breathing is natural and unlabored. Let us press on with our Jesus generators as they pump out this rarified air that brings life. Let us relish this atmosphere while we can yet still thrive in it.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

So we did it. We bought a new vehicular structure- a Honda Element. It is the first time Cathy and I have ever bought a "new" vehicle, replete with new car smell and such. We were long overdue in doing so and definitely needed a more functional and practical vehicle and this is it.

After: 1) our tranny going goofy in our Intrepid; 2) numerous other tidbits of nuisance things going wrong with the engine; 3) the whole Nashville Metro Police Dept. grounding their new fleet of Intrepids in April 2003 because 3 of them caught fire and Daimler-Chrysler had the nerve to pretty much deflect the blame; 4) finding a website solely devoted to disgruntled Intrepid owners documenting hundreds of complaints and finding my car's problems detailed therein.........we decided it was time to unload.

One tends to learn a lot about onesself in the process of researching, shopping for and negotiating for a new car, especially knowing that the moment you drive off the lot the thing depreciates 30-40%. I choose depreciation and a Honda to boot in place of a transmission going belly up on I-75 at 3:30 am in Tennessee.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Finally......recorded a 60 mph wind gust at my house on July 4th at 8:55 pm. In the three years that we have been here, that is the first time I have been present to witness severe weather at the Johnson digital weather station. This is only the second time we've had weather severe enough to report (the official criteria for a severe thunderstorm is wind gusts over 57 mph and/or hail 3/4 of an inch in diameter or greater). The first time we had golfball sized hailstones about 3 years ago that my wife got to see. Even though she is a spotter too, she did not call in the report as she was probably revelling in my dogs incessant munching up of the hailstones thinking they were ice cubes from heaven.

And in the three years that we've been SKYWARN severe weather spotters for the National Weather Service, I actually got to call in my report. The NWS relies on real time reports from trained spotters on the ground to verify what's going on so the public can be warned. jolly......I called in my first report! (...jump back and kiss my-seff...