Monday, March 26, 2007

Toughest Word=Best Word

You can almost hear him saying it, in his mind that is, "no!" But the truth of the matter is that Brennan can and DOES say that very special word now. He doesn't quite do it like you or I might do it though. He purses his lips to get that "n" sound just right and shakes his head from one side to the other as far as it reaches and says "Neuoooooo!" Now, he usually only does it in response to eating, when he's no longer interested, or in response to asking him to say no, which we do quite frequently 'cause it's so darn cute.

I bring this up simply to say that today, I said a very important "no." I did not WANT to say no. I really wanted to say yes. But between good counsel from friends & family and this aching in my gut, I realized that the opportunity presenting itself was not one that would benefit all of us in the long run. Yeah, maybe it would be good in the short term. It might be fun. But at the end of it, it would not be the best.

Now, before anyone jumps to any conclusions: 1) I was not offered & turned down a call. 2) I was not propositioned or anything crazy like that. 3) There's a time to share & a time not to share all the details. Now is that rare time not to share all the details.

But, I will share this. I recognized this morning that I needed to say no. I prayed about it and was a little concerned about how I should broach the topic carefully because I was pretty sure that it needed to happen, but that I was the only one aware of it. And low and behold, I got a phone call. Within 10 minutes I was able to say no, or at least to get the conversation going in that direction. I prayed silently during it "give me an out" 'cause I REALLY wanted to say yes, but I knew I had to say no. Now, there was no miraculous moment in the conversation where everything turned. There was no hinge. But I can say by the end, that we were both able to leave the conversation mutually encouraged. It was pretty amazing. Even though I said no, I believe I had said an even bigger YES. I believe I was able to affirm, build up, dare I say "bless"? And I left encouraged, validated and feeling truly that this was a thing from God. Each of us were sent on our own path. We converged at a cross-roads where my "no" sent us our separate ways, but we did not leave alone.

I won't pretend to claim that my little "no" was somehow determinative for anyone other than me. I won't compare it to God's NO to our sin, God's NO do our lostness, God's NO to our separation. I will simply say that No is often the toughest word to say, but it is often the right word, and just as often, it is the best word. I'm so thankful that God said NO, 'cause it opened the door for God's great YES. I'm now waiting for a little yes of my own...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

One Great Quote

I'm reading through Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics IV.3.2 for my independant study and I came across this awesome sentence in section 72 "The Holy Spirit and the Sending of the Christian Community":

In the one community participant in that promise and existing under the order established by it, there will always be Christians who are temporarily, provisionally and transitorily more advanced and those who are temporarily, provisionally and transitorily more retarded in respect of their knowledge of the world, their solidarity with it and their responsibility for it.

I'm not sure there is anything I could add to this...

[Thanks to Bunganut Lake for the picture.]

Saturday, March 17, 2007


I do not deny Global Warming, but I'm having a hard time recgifying the "this is the warmest winter on record" with the fact that on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, the only green I'm seeing is on my wife's sweater. Thursday evening through Friday night we were pelted here in Princeton with rain, freezing rain, sleet and finally snow. I distinctly remember some winter's in the frozen tundra that is Canada, where I was practicing track in 80 degree heat during our "March break." Yeah, we did hit 80 once so far in March, for about 3 hours. But the weather before, since and in the forcast is 40's. Conserve the environment? Absolutley. But let's be careful about describing everything as the blankest - EVER.

That's my brief commnet for the day, that and to show off Brennan in "his" snowsuit, and the 10 minutes we were outside, while he simply stood there, not wanting to walk at all, after which I asked him "do you want to take a nap?" His response?


I kid you not, the funniest kid. He cracks me up more than I can imagine! Everyone should be so blessed...

Monday, March 12, 2007

"Reading Week"

Today marks the beginning of "Reading Week" here at PTS. For many, particularly the single students, it means going "home" to visit family. For Bridgette & I, this is our home and this is our family. Bridgette works at a job, so that also makes travel at this time a little different. I'm also still doing my internship Tuesday. And of course, we woke up today, Monday, as if it was any other Monday. I've been with Brennan today, just like any other Monday, and short of not having anything to read for my classes Thursday, which won't meet, this week is no different than any other week for me. In fact, I actually have about 75 pages of Karl Barth still to read for Thursday because Wes and I are still doing our independant study on KB's CD IV.3.2. So, maybe this might actually be a little bit more of a "reading" week than for most everyone else who's galavanting across the country, visiting family & friends...

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

True Friendships

"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."Galatians 5:2

So, about a year ago, I shared with one of my friends here at PTS, that I wanted to come away with some real relationships, true friendships, because when we left here, I knew that ministry was at least to some degree going to be a lonely place. The exact quote may be lost to history... At the time, there was a crew of us that got together weekly for what one of my friends dubbed "table fellowship," which involved a lot more "table" and not nearly as much fellowship. We'd play a game together which would slowly see the dozen or more of us whittled down to two or three. It's kinda hard to have a lot of fellowship when people keep leaving the conversation. Anyway, I was interested in coming away with relationships not just game skills.

That conversation, in part, lead to two things: one was a great friendship that I've developed with that guy and two was joining a prayer group with some other guys, who like to be a little more anonymous - especially when being linked to me. But I think I can safely say that with two plus months to go before graduation, and slightly longer before they boot us out of our swank digs at CRW, I believe I've cultivated some of those real relationships - true friendships.

Now, the question is, how do I really know that? The answer for me has been found this week in a couple of encounters, which reflect that passage in Galatians. In our modern/hyper-modern/post-modern society we often get the message that when we face a problem we need to grab ourselves by our bootstraps and pull ourselves up. Afterall, we're really just a bunch of individuals attempting to differentiate ourselves from the masses, wandering through our "journey" of a life, trying to become self-actualized. In order to do this of course we need to keep ourselves hidden, to a degree, because if anyone knew who we truly were, not only would it pose problems for us achieveing our goals, we would also be rejected.

But, our identity as Christians, our call to each other, is far different from that and it flies in the face of this individual mentality. We are actually called to share our burdens with each other, to share our struggles with each other. But not only to share as in open ourselves up to be vulnerable, but on the other end, to receive from someone else, to take their troubles up and help them, to walk along side them, to carry their load with them. As the Hollies said "He ain't heavy, he's my brother". Sometimes this takes the form of compassionate empathy, sometimes wise counsel, other times a healthy rebuke (I received a good one last night). But in all of them there is the need for two people to be honest and open enough to share and listen, give and receive. These are the kind of relationships we need to cultivate - not simply in seminary, but throughout our lives as Christians. In this way, we live out what Christ taught, we bear witness that we are new creations, called into a new type of community, empowered by the Holy Spirit, the spirit of the crucified and risen Christ.

Now, before I end, I should make at least a small remark about the picture I have included. I could not find a picture of all of my friends here at PTS - guys don't seem to do the picture thing all that often, not to mention "group" photos. So this picture (taken at Brennan's 1st Birthday party) of some of my friends had to suffice. Now since all of them are seeking a call to be ordained upon graduation in a couple months, I won't share that their vices, which I have had the pleasure to "carry" with them, range from not putting down the toilet seat to chearing for the Mets, Gators and even NASCAR! That sure wouldn't help their pursuit of a call. I'll instead share that it has been both my great honour and deep pleasure to get to know these guys (again, not just these guys pictured) and I am very excited to see where God leads them to serve next year and I know that as we go our separate ways geographically, we will remain connected because we have built some true friendships...

Friday, March 02, 2007


It's amazing how one moment you can think of yourself one way, and after a few events, see yourself in a totally new way. Sometimes it's truth, sometimes it's a lie. When I try to look into my future and figure... I mean OUR future, if there's one thing I'm learning it's that this whole call process involves all three of us... anyway, as I was saying, when I look into our future and try and see us somewhere, anywhere, it's so difficult. Things are so much up in the air right now... I wish I had an ability to see into the future, to know what, where, how...

But the truth is, God knows, and I just have to sit and wait on that. Ironically, I'm preaching Sunday on this from Psalm 27:

Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!

Hmmm, maybe this one's just as much to me as anyone else...