Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Courtesy: Sho Endo

Done been outside twice this week to hunt this baby out. Clouds on Monday.........too much twilight on Tuesday.......needed sleep on Wednesday. So I'll try yet again this a.m., weather permitting. For more about Comet Bradfield, this season's cometary show-stopper, go here.

Felt good to get back to observing. It's been awhile since I had taken my scope out or even gazed the constellations. In fact, it's really been awhile since I've gotten out and taken time to invest into some of my hobbies. Been chatting with Jason's bro, Spenabout finding one's way around the north circumpolar constellations. I think I've got a budding amateur astronomer on my hands. It's rekindled some of the wonder again in me just larnin' the lil' bro. I've been washed out of so many meteor showers lately that I kinda got bummed. Craning my neck heaven-ward does wonders to connect me to my Creator. I love what God did for me in the night sky.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

I've Never Had Seats THIS Good......EVER! Thanks Marsh!

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Just this past Saturday, two women- who spew forth with vitality, power, grace and anointed femininity- blessed our Veritasian ladies with the God-life that flows through them. So many stories......I don't know what all happened, prally won't ever know, but it was for them and it must have been pretty awesome cuz God showed up. So, Sandie Brock and Kendra Barrow, thank you for being willing to be available to us. So many of our ladies have connected on a heart level in ways they haven't known before. For some it was a continuation of what God was already doing. And for some, there was the beginning of realizing that God's been there, poking around in their hearts. It has definitely been a milestone for us and the impact will continue to unfurl.

God seemed content to invite them to dance with him. He seemed to want to do that via a journey through a garden. These themes are in no way unfamiliar to Christ or the Father. And they are consistent and divine invitational themes in my life and in the lives of those around me. I just really seemed to become aware of how prevalent these themes are. What is it about God and dancing? What is it about the necessity of entering a garden in order to see the steps?

It was a monumental night as well at Hester the next day. We went deeper as we were invited to partake in some intimate stories of what God showed them and did within their hearts. Their stories continue to upend me out of my place and drive me to the place of reverence for Christ. We ate, sang some, prayed some, and then

In honor of what God is doing for them and in them, we listened to music across genres and time spans that dealt with the dancing metaphor. We also had a rose-flower worship station inviting everyone to literally stop and smell (seemed to make sense with what God was telling our community). At the end, the men surrounded the ladies and had them each take a rose from the station. We entered into a time of blessing, confession, intercession and read a simple affirmation over them, which is contained below:

An Affirmation

(Men, Together) We are your brothers in Christ. We are and have been blessed because of who you are and who you are becoming as women of God.

We recognize that without you, we could not be who we are.

We surround you physically as a symbol of our surrounding you spiritually in your times of need and in our co-laboring together in the Kingdom.

We commit to your building up and to give as much as we receive from you.

We pledge to you, the freedom to be, the freedom to explore, the freedom to fall and the freedom to know and be known.

We seek to be led as much as to lead; to serve not so much to be served and in mutual submission as Christ would have us do.

We choose on earth to dance this dance with you in the rhythm of our lives together and to the music from God’s heaven.

(Men, Together) "Many women have done wonderful things, but you've outclassed them all!" Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God. Give her everything she deserves! Festoon her life with praises!
Proverbs 31:29-31

Monday, April 19, 2004

Awwwritey's a test I'm up an runnin

A pic of da gang at Hester House

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Jason Birchfield did an internship with Veritas last summer. He done went and got that dang Kingdom virus we been talking about cause he ain't stopped since. For a night in the life of a Veritasian Kingdom emissary check out his latest post. It does my heart warm.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Have I longed for the illusion for so long that I don't even know how much I've been formed by it? I am seeing now that as a child, I longed for something that would never be. Now as a child in this makeshift adult constume I look back and wonder what was real. There were things in my family that were rotten. And there were few times when it was good....really good. I know those times were few in comparison but my immature mind and ill-forming identity encapsulated those life snapshots into a falsely positive light because I longed for them in the darkness, interpreting them into it. And that is all that I focus on now, (i.e., the "good times") and it clouds those past bleaker realities of hoping/wishing/pretending for something that I could never have and was never going to happen.

I feel pitifully disjointed because of this. I have daily reminders.....the gnawing emptiness as the illusion erodes away........a growing awareness of personal limitations, pride and selfishness in my own present family.........a mother whose whereabouts I do not know..........too little contact with my known immediate family own recalcitrance and "past-be-damned" attitude. I am a product of my past, like it or not. Therefore, I can never be ignorant of the divine pregnancy of the fleeting present.

I used to wonder in more halcyon, infantile days of what kind of life I would have. Now that I have nowhere near the life that I could never have hoped to imagine, I wonder what kind of life I really had. Who am I in between?

I am convinced that by the time we are 18, we are almost as completely scarred and wounded as we could ever hope to be. And this from our families of origin (even if such a concept is a contrivance or a theorem). Continuing into adulthood with these wounds does not multiply them but only convolutes them, with our sin of choice heaping in over and under to assuage the pain. Strange how in so many ways- despite being surrounded by so many who love me- I still feel like the vagabond, searching for the family that was never mine. Just a passing fragrance wafting out of the way to what might have been.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Collegiate Christian Consumerism

Part 3


We're still propelled by the big event. The massive buildup to a main-themed, on campus penetration into the larger campus community comes in the form of various outreaches, public films, forums, concerts, etc. On-campus "big-eventism" is the evangelical currency of choice, mainly because that is what is still esteemed by the campus ministry fathers who came before these young adults. I do not contend that the big event does not produce fruit at does. Yet, as far as relational investment and consistency, it is the cheapest fare. Come up with a week and an emphasis and you have it. With the big event, you get to do what is most immediately and visibly gratifying, where evangelistic action is concerned. Dangle the carrot, gather the masses, proclaim the message and hopefully gather the harvest.

Herein is the problem with our approach to evangelism.....we major on proclamation and harvesting but neglect cultivation. Our idea of cultivation is to invite pre-Christians to a few events and then drop the Jesus bomb on them. Cultivating is the dirty, unglamorous, ugly red-headed step-child of evangelism. There is much relational investment with pre-Christians that MUST be devoid of a "what-can-I-or-my-church/campus-ministry-get-out-of-it?" mentality. Granted, this mentality is not as spoken as it is behaviorally implied. We still value a "come-see" approach and pagans are not coming to the big shows, no matter how many ultra-cool, rocking and glitzy post-modern sci-fi films after which we can name our campus ministry. They still wonder if we Christians actually care enough about them to not pander our shtick to them. So they hurl their complaints and we say they aren't ready for Jesus yet. Maybe we're just giving Jesus-by-products. Why can't we stage a production that never ends that is neither staged nor that blossoms behind-the-scenes and one that won't "get at" people? What about something with no stars and no big names who neither know us nor stay around long enough to want to? What about something truly mundane, simple and reeking of "common?" Where are our homegrown theologians, missionaries and our next generations' great thinkers? I'll tell you where they are.....they're not even Christ followers yet.


Mission is still seen as "out there" in Meh-hee-koh or Botswana or Uzbekistan or Panama City. I know they need Jesus too. I know they need sewers dug and church houses built.

I know too that in the last 50 years of the 20th century, evangelicals in USA failed to gain even 2% of the American population. In other words, we're not even reaching our children. Only India and China have more lost people. In fact, China now boasts more Christian believers than the USA. I know that my lost young adult friends are living together with their boyfriends and girlfriends, go to the bars and Steak and Shake for ultimate meaning and purpose with their like-minded network of friends. They ask the tough questions, enjoy being lost and flaunt it at times. They are brutally honest and tell you what they think. They are not even as presumptuous as many Christians I know. And they will listen to us if we go to them. Not just once, mind you. But to stay, listen and love.

You don't have to go overseas to find this. This is in our own backyard. In Oxford, Ohio......the stepping stone and preparatory place for the leaders of the world's tomorrows. So why one week mission trips? Why the resource hungry buildup to honor these monoliths when the need here is so great? What about 52-week missional living in the garden where we are planted, whether 1,2,3,4 or 10 years? Why is mission "out there," miles away from our here-ness? I suspect one-week mission-mindedness is attractive because we can return to the obscurity of whatever it was we were doing before. And it's sexier to have the exotic one-week mission for a conversation piece. And there are no long term investments to bind. Besides, if you're always on your way to something better, somewhere else, then you can't ever have too much asked of you. There are also the promises of an enticing tourist attraction in the "foreign" mission, as if the calling to go and serve selflessly weren't enough. Why the "fun" hook to missions? Why weren't we taught that joy in serving was enough? Perhaps we just don't know what to do with a wandering people we see, know and shun on a weekly basis. Maybe our familiarity has bred a barrier of contempt amongst our own people in our own community.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't have fun. We should. I'm not implying that all who participate in the typical- (if there are such)- campus ministry one-week mission trips are thusly shallow-minded and have hidden agendas. I'm not saying they should be abandoned. I am saying the philosophical approach to mission is skewed long before we hit the road or the plane. And I am saying that we need to seriously revisit Kingdom-living on our campuses with a second naivete, if that's even possible. And do we really have time for that?

I don't know if I want to even see a "movement" (whatever that means). It seems on the front end if you start out with that in mind you end up running it and expending too much energy to maintain something altogether different. I don't think we need anything to "emerge" either. For that which God has intended (the establishment of his Kingdom), the resources are already at our disposal. Isn't it really the Gospel plus NOTHING- no gimmicks, no catches, no agendas? But when you only have some people maybe for four years at the most, you are hard-pressed to come up with something unique and memorable.

So with that, do we teeter, tending toward being anti-thetical to a grounded, Kingdom-minded community? And what does that really look like- devoid of the agendized, hypo-relational machine wherein the cogs are immovable and fixed?Where are the young adults who will claim their present and former campuses as their own parishes, effectively loving them into the Kingdom of God and pastoring and persisting with them for the duration? Where is our burden to live amongst a wayward and transient people as a prophetic roadblock to the slave syndrome under which our nowherely mobile peers live?

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Collegiate Christian Consumerism

Part 2

The university system treats the student like hybrid adults on a mule team driven by a force unseen, much larger and imposing its will from the outside. That's why I love these young adults. I am called to them. You see, I abide in the glamorous transportation industry as a mass transit professional (read, bus driver) to these 16,000 Miami University students. I deliberately chose this job so that I could be around them in a unique way. I see them throw up their alcohol on my bus, after a night of having paid homage to Budweiser, the patron god of Oxford/Miami. I hear their conversations about their one-night stands. They race me half-naked on the street, ON FOOT. I have them arrested when they pass out on my bus for 2 ½ rounds and they won’t respond to me. I watch as their BMW’s and Hummers cut me off at the corner when I have the right of way and I get the finger. I watch the sorority girls’ dads try to pick up their girlfriends in local bars on parent’s weekend. I shudder at the skimpiness of the girls’ clothing choices in 50 degree weather when there have been over a dozen reported sexual assaults so far this year. I see and hear them cry alone in their cars, hunkered down in their seats in the back of the bus, hoping I don’t see. But I do. I see them fall on the ice and bust their tails. I see them rain-soaked to the bone waiting for my 36,000 pound behemoth of warmth. They love me then but hate me when I am pulling away from a stop hoping for a space in front of them.

I revel in the incredible politeness of their “thank-you’s” and “have a good day's.” They are bright, eager, motivated, energetic and just trying to find their place in the grand scheme of things. Their identities are relatively unformed, their experiences limited and their potential unleavened. They are who they are and that’s why I love them.
But as I look in their eyes, there is a vacuous hollow there. It seems to me that few of them are really “here.” In other words, they are on the way to something else, somewhere else. I wonder how many are towing the line of gaining the collegiate experience and the sheepskin it’s wrapped in and then off to the next experience. These moments in their lives seem like so many stones in a creek as they skip across them just to get to the other side, avoiding the stream of life altogether. We are told to acquire, amass, to “get” and we don’t know how to just “be” because no one is in any one place for very long. They are on their way to the next big stage. This by-product is betrayed by how we talk about this life stage.

“Just wait till you get in the ‘real world,’” we joke. What is it about this world at any point for these young adults that IS NOT real?

Unfortunately, this philosophy is reinforced by some churches and campus ministries. As a whole, we aren’t making disciples who are qualitatively and scandalously (Rom. 9:33; Gal. 5:11; 1 Pet. 2:8) counter-cultural enough, communally-connected enough and peculiarly-approachable enough. We’re just too peculiar to approach for all the wrong reasons (from a lost person’s perspective). We’ve become bottom-line feeding, marketing savvy Gospel-pushers on the ready to close the deal. We are sensation-seeking connoisseurs in the collegiate religious experience economy. Relationally, we are spread too thin, vagabonds floating from faith community to faith community in the name of seeing what’s right “for me” while masking a relational insecurity and a self-imposed, tenuous Kingdom-mindedness that ultimately benefits no one.

Some of us have become junkies on the campus ministry circuit without a tribe to truly call our own. Some would hail our tendency toward multiple communities as a truly postmodern goodness, allowing one to partake in all the best the people of God have to offer and even in the name of Christian unity. I think it’s heresy. Churches (“mine” included) are partly to blame because of implicit jealousy at the overt numerical success of some campus ministries. Campus ministries are partly to blame because they essentially function as churches but they're more inclined to deny it. Nevertheless, campus ministries/parachurch organizations have obviously stepped in to fill the void that the mainline church has ignored. But I feel we’re still amiss.

Okay…..over the next few days, and being that I live amongst and share life and home with collegiate young adults, I shall offer a treatise on the weaknesses of campus Christianity as it relates to community building and missional penetration into the lives of pagans. If I had publishing prowess and the wherewithal, this would be a pamphlet. I’ve always wanted my progeny to say of me that I wrote several important pamphlets.

Anyway, what I have to say is much so it is broken down for your digestion should you swaller.

Collegiate Christian Consumerism

Part 1

I was once a college student. I remember campus ministry at East Tennessee State University. I remember being invited and going to an event and not really connecting to the scene as a first timer. Maybe it was one of my more anti-social nights.

After almost four years in and amongst the Christian scene at Miami University here in Oxford, I faintly detect the same taste in my mouth.

I have had these sentiments for some time now and in some form or another. They have never been haughty and intent on battering or attacking specific campus ministries or the people in them. I just have questions fueled by a perspective that could be totally off base. They are questions nonetheless.

What I want to say could be taken offensively by those involved in various campus ministries (granted, 99.99999999999998 % of these won’t read this post). This is not my intent. There are those in my faith community who participate in them and whom I love and respect very deeply and I would never seek to hurt them. I am not blindly railing against campus ministries per se. Many effectively carry out good works and I applaud that. I am not saying those within them are bad or misled or less of a person. In general, there is an unstated or accidental philosophical approach undergirding many of the campus ministries I’ve seen that run counterproductive to what they purport to be about.

In qualifying that last statement, I should say I am not intimately aware of all the inner workings of every individual within every campus ministry that falls under one vision or another. Some of my questions stem from what I see on the large scale of things, or rather, on events carried out publicly in the name of one campus ministry or another. I also see the disconnect in the masses. Perhaps my musings err in trying to understand and ultimately siding with these on the peripheral fringes…...those in whom the campus ministry organizations are failing to reach.


There was a time a few years back when I was seriously considering and being considered to serve as the campus minister for our local denominational association on the campus of Miami University. Turns out, the direction of Veritas would have been in danger of being absorbed by the campus ministry if I had assumed the position. Additionally, I was more of a pariah amongst the established pastors around our association than me or my director of missions EVER dreamed I could have been. Simply put, I am told some of my pastoral “brothers” in Christ detest me and they have never even met me. There is a camp that is adamantly opposed to our presence here and they have been from day one. Even if I had wanted to go that direction, it would have never happened in such an environment. These misgivings I have stand irrespective to my views that I will continue to outline regarding campus ministry philosophies.


The Western version of the university education has been hijacked by free-market consumerism, breeding such a consumerist approach from the onset of the college experience. The promising and alluring equation is: a degree= worth+maturity+success. The university itself no longer caters to the formation of the soul -(as opposed to the university’s prime directive of the acquisition of information/experience, as it is now)- but it reluctantly contracts it out to a hodge-podge of suitors of every type. The public demands the choice and the university must be all things to all people. The student and his/her family are expertly sized up and marketed an academic, social, cultural and religious experience- the best their money will buy (or so they’re told). One need only choose the brand and the experience involved and pay up.

Eventually, we herd the new masses like calves before a new gate and parade them before our information tables with table-top ministry commercials. The spectacle may not be as subtly lost on the percipients as we might suspect…..perhaps they intuitively sense the pressure we rarely admit to being operative behind such a scene…..namely, the burden to prove why “we’re” so much better to be a part of than the campus ministry two tables down. Maybe the incoming frosh aren’t cognizant of as much and in as many words, but for the campus ministry, it’s all in the name of recruitment, which you have to do to stay afloat on the sea of significance. (More Tomorrow)