26 January 2008


Today was an unexpectedly difficult day. The last few weeks I feel like a lot of things have been catching up with me. Realizing that I don't forgive myself--like, ever (yes, I know it's like spitting in God's face and telling him that His forgiveness isn't good enough for me, I know...just another thing I struggle with). Other things going on at the moment, too, but that's the overarching one.

So this afternoon I got home and wrote out on a big sheet of paper: "WHAT DO I KNOW?" I started with "God is real, He exists" and went from there, trying to preach the Gospel to myself. This coming spring will be a challenging, hopefully growthful, season. I'm already looking forward to Easter.

25 January 2008

Florida Primary Debate

Last night after NG I went over to Shannon's to catch the second half of the Republican debate down in Florida. I am not terribly politically engaged at the moment, but I do enjoy keeping up on the news, in general, and so I was certainly game to learning a bit more about the remaining candidates in the Republican field. I am registered to vote here in TN, but not registered with either party. I don't plan on getting into politics too much in this space, not yet.

In any case, it was a fun time, I was entertained--probably more so since I had a friend to be the peanut gallery with and remark on good points, bad points, positions, styles. Shannon was one of the first people to welcome me at City Church a year ago when I started going there, and he's become a good friend. After the debate we talked about various issues and how we see them playing out in East Nashville, different approaches, socialism and libertarianism, foreign policy alternatives, it was an engaging time. He, like a good lot of my other friends, is very enthusiastic about Ron Paul. I'm not a super fan or anything, but I was still a bit offended by the way he barely got any air time, just in terms of his image on the screen (camera angles seemed to be individual shots of the five or some combination of Romney-McCain-Giuliani). But I'm not really complaining--NBC is a private entity and more than free to do what it wants.

Otherwise, it was a valuable time to simply spend in community with a friend and brother, airing out theological things we're wrestling with, life stuff, making fun of the candidates, figuring out how to be informed and engaged and rightly involved with the society we live in.

Speaking of which, I'm headed off shortly to a public forum/lecture type thing on poverty going on at a local coffeehouse called Portland Brew this evening, led by my pastor. Should be interesting.

On a scale of 1 to awesome, I'd rate this post a "boring." But it's a good exercise to write and post and try to gradually find a rhythm for communicating even the mundane. Perhaps more and better later. Or at least more.

23 January 2008

Lest I Forget

Little reminders that I need to be present more than I need to be blogging. Neat conversations with one of my house mates. Had a chance to share why I love my church so much--the focus on ministering to the local neighborhood we inhabit and the benevolence work toward justice in the society around us, laboring to both meet immediate needs and address deeper root causes of injustice; the intentionality of the liturgy and how there's time for people to read and consider texts before choosing whether or not to participate in corporate recitations and prayers and Communion, for example; and just the amazing community of people, such dear friends who have made Nashville home for me in a lot of ways. I said how much I loved my church, and he remarked that he could see my face light up just talking about it.

I realized after the conversation, though, that more importantly than those things I just listed is the fact that I really hear and experience the Gospel steadily with my church family--inside and outside of Sunday services. I need to hear it every day. I need to know that I am a wretched, broken mess (though this is usually an easier truth for me to grasp without so much prompting). And I desperately need to know that I do have a great Savior for my great need, that I have a God who is for me, for the sake of His Son, Jesus Christ, that hope has a real and true foundation. I need to hear it every day.

My friend Steve up in Boston has a nice post to this end that I found really encouraging. Here was another person, a dear friend, preaching the Gospel to me, words that I need to hear for life. I need to remember that for whenever I might be sharing with my house mates these things of my life that carry me through struggles and offer the best of joy and comfort and peace in the midst of suffering a fallen world. More than all the other genuinely amazing things about my church, I need the Gospel. I need to hear it and know it's true over and over and over again.

Soli Deo Gloria

Tonight I saw a solo cello concert at the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University, Colin Carr playing a program of J.S. Bach--2 unaccompanied suites (#3 in C & #6 in D) and a transcription of the Chaconne from Violin Partita #2.

I walked into the recital hall and there was a single chair on stage. He walked out with his 18th-century Italian cello and filled the hall with so much beauty. Lovely colors and tone and phrasing, nearly flawless intonation, internal voices cleanly articulated through double- and triple-stops, amazing thumb position and some super-fast passages--technically awesome and musically rich, some really exquisite moments. So prodigiously talented, almost effortless. Some of the most beautiful music I've heard.

If I had to pick just one composer to be able to listen to for the rest of my life, it would probably be Beethoven. But Bach has always been at the top of the list, too, and nights like tonight remind me about the experience of art, beauty, truth, goodness, joy breaking into my life in moments where I can just sit and receive it. I've heard that he signed his manuscripts "SDG"--Soli Deo Gloria: Only to God be the glory.

I think when people think about pillars of the faith, first thoughts might tend toward great preachers and theologians of the past, laboring for the Kingdom and leaving a legacy of sermons and writings that continue to shape Christians in the present day. Bach likewise labored so diligently and created so much beauty, reflecting that truth into the world of his day with works of music that continue to speak into ours.

Tonight I had a chance to hear it again for myself and to know the restorative power of art in a fallen world. Beauty, truth, goodness, joy.


I Am...

Last week my neighborhood group (small group, cell group) met for the first time since the holidays to start up another season of fellowship, Bible study, service, prayer, and worship (I think that's the list) over at KIPP Academy (a charter school here in East Nashville). We'll start our reading program with the students tomorrow, and so last week was mostly a time to do a bit of work for the school and then just hang out and get to know each other some more. We're largely the same group that we were in the fall, with a couple new faces. I love my NG, it's great.

So our group leader brought a sort of getting-to-know-each-other, ice-breaker exercise--a poem sheet with about 20 lines or so, each starting with something like "I am...I wonder...I hear...I see..." and then a blank line to fill in. We wrote for about 10-15 minutes and then shared our poems with the rest of the group, and it was really cool.

Here's mine, a snapshot of part of where I'm at right now:

I am in process, and so
I wonder when will
I hear the one true voice of reassurance, when will
I see myself anew, until finally
I want to stop staring at myself in frustration at just how much
I am caught up in myself, and so
I pretend to be stable, even though
I feel much more deeply now than even a year ago. Whenever
I touch an unfortunate memory and remember too much, whenever
I worry again and again and again and again,
I cry out to a God that I block behind myself, because
I am stuck staring at myself. Now
I understand even less about how to pray and how to live, though
I say all manner of things to sound good, and
I dream the wrong dreams and chase the same idols over and over and over as
I try and try and try to make it work for me, so
I hope on a true hope without really knowing how, waiting for a day when
I am finally done staring at myself, because I will finally see glory for everything that He is.

22 January 2008

rhymes with Hitoshi

I figured I'd give it a whirl and selectively disclose aspects of my life to the world wide open Intertron Cyberweb.

Narcissism + Procrastinability = My Blog.


P.S. My friend Tom made the logo. As you can tell, he gave up a promising career as a graphic designer to become a missionary in Chad with his wife--theirs is among the "Blogs I Read."