A Great Loss . . .

Kyle Lake – pastor of the University Baptist Church in Waco, TX – was killed today in a tragic accident   I never met Kyle, and I never even got around to reading his first book “Understanding God’s Will” . . . but I know the man has impacted me.  To my current and former UBC friends, please know that I’m praying for you and your church family. 

The news actually hit me quite hard.  I shed my tears as I was driving home (I was on the highway heading home when I got the news).  I was so looking forward to watching him and his family grow – because he was spreading the Kingdom in such a real way.  As a friend of Emergent, I know he will be greatly missed, but I pray his legacy lives on.

Words never seem to be quite “enough” in times like these.  One wonders anew “why bad things happen to good people”, and revels in the emptiness of the trite answers that theology seems to arrive at.

My heart goes out to you, my brothers and sisters.  God bless.


P.S.  I would be honored if any of you would care to share some cool memories of UBC and/or Kyle as a sort of small memorial in homage to his service to God and man.

P.P.S.  For those not in the know, UBC is the church where David Crowder serves as Worship Pastor.  And it’s an awesome, amazing church from what I hear and know of it.  Please keep those folks in your prayers.


So I’ve managed to get through this weekend w/o doing anything overly stupid.  There is of course the ability to screw things up tomorrow, but let’s try and keep things on the positive for a change, shall we? 🙂  As such, I will save your verbal thrashing for Monday, Jamin

Friday night I had an AWESOME time w/ the CR small group.  We usually end by like 9pm or so, but we sat around the dinner table sharing about life and silly things, such that we didnt get to our “official discussion” until 10pm.  Dang, these catz are off da heazy fo sho! 

Today I spent a good portion of it in agony, sprinkled with some tears, and a bit of napping to spend some less painful lifehours up.  But the evening was redeemed by some mighty good times w/ Diem – along w/ some other cool pharm catz – at a party. 

I pray tomorrow will be brighter.

Oh, and does anyone know of a good PCP (primary care provider) in the Bmore area who takes CareFirst (BC/BS) insurance?  My parents have been prodding me to take antidepressants, and i’ve been deliberating about this for quite some time myself.  Plus, it’s about time for a physical.


Yeah, haven’t posted much . . . mostly because the thoughts and philosophies are entering and exiting my head at such an alarming pace that it’s hardly worth publicizing them.

I can say that I’ve felt pretty shitty this week.  I’ve been worse though.

I think this weekend is gonna be especially hard   Not sure why . . . I just know me.  Dang, what I wouldn’t give for a good friend to be here . . . right now.  Why do you jerks have to be so friggin far away?

Alright, alright.  I’ve been tagged like 3 times already, so before Sharon, Kelli, or mi gemelita Anita Bananita tries to kill me for non-response, here goes . . .

Music Tag:

THE RULES: List five songs that you are currently loving. It doesn’t matter what genre they are from, whether they have words, or even if they’re any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying right now.

Post these instructions, the artists, and the songs in your blog (Xanga). Then tag five other Xanga/LiveJournal friends to see what they’re listening to.

1.     “Total Praise” — Donnie McClurkin
2.     “The Clincher” — Chevelle
3.     “How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore?” — Alicia Keys
4.     “Less Like Scars” — Sara Groves
5.     “On My Bones” — Kendall Payne

1.    James_Matthew
2.     janeyang
3.     InHisName777
4.     thatguycj
5.     deus_lo_volt

It’s all about me . . .

Yeah.  I’ll admit it.  It’s all my fault.  When I hear about the atrocities occurring all over the world – often at the hands of other men – it befuddles me.  When I hear that Muslims are being slaughtered in Darfur, Sudan by the tens of thousands, I wonder “how could anyone DO that?

It angers me.  It confounds me.  It frightens me. 

And then, I go off on a prideful kick.  As if these men committing such atrocities are any different than I am.  They are fathers, and brothers, and sons.  They are doctors and lawyers and waiters.   They are big and tall and average-sized.  They are humans.  Just like me.  They have the same needs as I do, and the same desires.

Every year at Cedar Ridge, they take a few notable movies made in the previous year and discuss the spiritual themes in them.  This year’s “God in the movies” series started off on Sunday with “Hotel Rwanda” – the snapshot of an ordinary man (a hotel manager) and his quest to save innocent lives in a massacre that scarred the world – not not only because of the great loss of life (estimated at nearly 800,000 Tutsis) – but because the all-powerful West stood by and did nothing about it.  Despite the fact that they knew it was happening, they still ignored the entire situation.  More than ignored it – they suppressed information about it so that there would be no outcry and subsequent pressure TO do something about it.  President Clinton stated that standing idly by was the biggest mistake of his Administration.

Brian gave a great sermon.  I think what struck me most were his comments about the polarization of “sin” in churches.  The more conservative churches like to focus on “personal sin” (i.e., lying, cheating, drinkin’ and lustin’, etc.), while the more liberal churches tend to focus on “social sins” (like injustice, inequality, etc.).  Yet Christ never made such a dissection. 

And then the Holy Spirit started doing some work, as it became painfully obvious to me that *I* am part of the equation – part of the system that results in genocides and poverty and all the rest.  Certainly, I would never pick up a machete and start hacking away at my neighbors . . . or would I? 

I’ve never committed murder . . . never really even thought about it.  But I AM a selfish bastard!  The world is really about me, me, me.  What if I put together a fistful of selfish people, what would happen?  Selfishness begins to be institutionalized – part of our everyday world.  Our culture is built on a system that is sinful.  One tiny, personal sin suddenly has profound effects when generalized.

Suddenly, the Hutus don’t seem like such horrible people.  Suddenly my own sin seems just the same as theirs.  Suddenly I see how much my actions help promulgate a system whose only result could be poverty, genocide, and destroying the earth.

And then Jesus Christ starts to make sense.  For what hope could there possibly be about such evils?  Perhaps a system that’s profoundly different.  Asystem built upon principles of justice, and honor, and peace, and personal righteousness?  Sounds a lot like what our Lord offered us long ago in what He called “the Kingdom of Heaven”. 

I want to see a change in the world.  Jesus came to redeem ALL of this mess!  And I realize for that to happen, it takes a change in huge social/political structures AND it takes a change in me. 

It’s not enough to just be “good”.  It’s not enough to merely feed the poor.  What’s needed is a Kingdom.  If I want to see the Kingdom come, it must be in me, and it must go well beyond me.

Hmmm . . . have I mentioned lately how much I LOVE my church??  We’re going on 4 months now, and not a single dry-eyed Sunday yet   Thanx for always making me cry, Brian.  More than that, thanks for being a great example of humility and meekness, yet strength and honor. 


Anywho . . . the weekend was super great!  I got to go home and start a conversation with the ‘rents.  A conversation that I hope to continue for many, many years to come.  It’s the beginning of me being ME – not anyone else’s expecation of me.  It’s the beginning of me showing the world who I am.  I know that they may not agree with many of my decisions, nor with how I see the world.  That is fine.  For conversation isn’t about changing each other’s minds, it’s about expressing who we are.  And I’d rather be me and disagreed with, than something fake in order to make sure everyone’s still smiling.

Church – as you could tell above – was awesome.  It absolutely wrecked me! LOL.  I hate being convicted of sin . . . it hurts   I love being convicted of sin . . . it’s liberating

Afterwards, went out to lunch w/ Asians ‘R’ Us, and had some yummy dimsum.  Then I went and did something really cool that I’ve been wanting to do for YEARS!  (Thanks Jane and Diem for pushing me past my cowardice ).  Then we went to see “The Fog”.  If you’re wise, you won’t waste your time   No plot, nominal special effects, no character development.  I couldn’t even have a lot of great laughs (like in “The Ring”), b/c it was SO stupendously stupid!  And Tom Welling wasn’t even that hot! LOL.  For future reference, Tom, brush your hair and shave, my friend.  It’s a much better look for you   And for the record, Selma Blaire, you do NOT have a sexy radio voice!  You’re still cool though, so I’ll forgive this one.


I’m a victim . . .

I could not take an accurate record of the number of nights I’ve spent crying myself to sleep, because of a broken, hurtful, painful past.  I’ve been kicked, battered, beaten, stepped on, molested, abused, misaligned, misunderstood, and judged.

And the greatest tragedy of it all, is that I’m a victimizer. I have returned my own abuse 10-fold.  I live by a code of vengeance.  And despite myself, to this very day, I mistreat others.  I can’t seem to love right, no matter how hard I try.  I can’t muster enough emotional energy to return the phonecalls that I should, to take my friends out to dinner as I should, to stand by someone’s side as I should.

My tears this week . . . they are different.  I cry because I’ve fucked up my life in such immeasurable ways, that I have no idea how God could love me, or would want to have anything to do with me.  I can’t fathom God fixing this mess, and making me even REMOTELY whole.

And yet there is this annoying, undying hope within me that He will do just that.

Hey, I know I’m not alone.  I’ve been talking to you folks . . . I know exactly what you struggle with and what bothers you. . . what tugs on your heart, and what gives you sleepless nights.

I don’t know very much about life, but I know I’ve got a God who hasn’t left me.  No matter how fucked up I’ve been, no matter how far off-track I’ve gone.  He keeps coming back. 

I was raised to think that God was to wave His magic wand and just fix it all.  Unfortunately, that’s not my story.  You see, the shit I deal with has gotten bad, worse, great, then horrible again.  My testimony is not one of divine slight-of-hand . . . some magic trick to tickle the fancy of the masses while He clobbers you with a bunch of rules to live by.  Mine is one of grace.  One where God keeps talking, even when I’m not listening.  One where He does nice things for me, even when I’m a jerk.  One where God doesn’t withdraw His gifts from me, even when I abuse my power.  One where God doesn’t conveniently take away my struggles, but walks alongside me through them. 

Yes, I have walked through the valley of shadow of death . . . and God did not say “no, no . . . I don’t want you here . . . I want your life to be neat and clean and pretty and without error”.  Instead He says “don’t worry, I’ll be here with you”.

That’s the point of God.  He’s the best friend you could possibly imagine. 

Can queers follow Christ?

I’m reminded of this great lesson about God’s friendship after hearing my good friend Brian and some other REALLY cool Christian folks discuss homosexuality and the church. This church that puts on the discussion is an awesome place up in the Toronto area.  I would hope that you’d take a few minutes (the audio clip is about 45 minutes) and give it a listen.  I know that’s asking for a lot of time, but believe me, it’s time you won’t lose.  If you’ve been hurt, broken, misunderstood . . . then listen.  If you call yourself a friend who wants to understand and help . . . then listen.  If you concsider yourself an open-minded soul . . . then listen.  You won’t regret it.

Go to http://www.themeetinghouse.ca/sermons_current.php and click to listen to the mp3 of “Can queers follow Christ?”

OK, so the Generous Orthodoxy Conference was AMAZING!  From start to finish.  It was challenging, inspirational, eye-opening, mind-blowing, gut-wrenching, heart-stopping, innovative, and relevant.

I have not walked into all of this Emergent business boldly.  It is so very different than anything I’ve ever been taught to be true, that it honestly scares the crap outta me sometimes.  So why do I bother with it?

I think Jason Clark captured my sentiments exactly during the Power Forum, when he was discussing his role in Emergent over the last couple of years:

“I’ve never been more afraid and uncertain of anything in my entire life . . . yet I’ve never felt closer to Jesus in my entire life.”

For the first time in years, I feel like I’m growing.  I didn’t think it was possible.  The things that I’m learning from my time in Cedar Ridge are so vastly different than what I was posting about one year ago when I was newly attending Trinity.  In retrospect, I can certainly see that there wasn’t much “wrong” with Trinity or its people.  It’s just that it wasn’t the place for me. 

Not until you’ve spent some time starving, do you understand the importance and blessing of a good meal.  My time in Trinity taught me lot about myself.  I wish I could have learned those lessons in a neater way, but I’m beginning to see just how much spirituality can be very messy, yet very God-directed at the same time.

I’m so thankful for CR.  I’m thankful for the lessons I’ve learned, and for the Jesus I’ve met there.  Just yesterday, Brian had a good friend of his – a Cherokee minister named Randy Woodley – come and give a Native American spin on Christianity.  He taught us that God is the God of all nations, and cares about everyone – not just His “chosen people” (Amos 9:7).  He taught us of the atrocities of “Colonial Christianity” and how it plays out in the world today.  He taught us how the Native Americans have found Christ in their culture (not by supplanting their culture with a western culture) and how they practice Christianity in ways relevant to their culture – not in colonial ways.

By the by, I guess it would be helpful to mention something about this colonial language I use.  Whereas in the western world, we speak a lot about an emerging postmodern Christianity – the very same conversations are in fact taking place all over the world about “a new kind of Christianity”, except that in the South and in African nations, they are talking about “post-colonial Christianity”.  But what is amazing is that they are arriving at some of the same conclusions that we are here in the west.  You begin to realize that Christ is somewhere in this – it isn’t just a fad.

So that was a glimpse at my awesome weekend.  Hope you guys had freakin awesome weekends as well.

Oh, please keep me in prayer.  I’m gonna be going to the young adult retreat in mid-November, and it looks like they’re gonna want me to share some of my experiences there.  The theme of the weekend is “Sometimes Life Sucks” . . . we’ll be discussing issues like depression, lust, worry, a difficult past, conflict, malice, and doubt.  I’m CLEARLY experienced on such things . . . so pray that the Lord gives me something good to share.  I’m gonna keep it real, but I don’t want it to be about me, ya know?  It’ll be nice being in a speaking position again – even if it’s not really “teaching” like i’m used to . . . but it’s something   I miss that.

Peace out, playas!


My sister-in-law just sent me a new pic of my niece.  Ain’t she CUTE?