February 2007

For the past 3 years I’ve been working this gig called the Jacksonville Film Festival (and now Jacksonville Film Events).  If you follow the film community at all, you’ve seen the rise of Independent film and festivals around the nation.  Jacksonville’s festival turns 5 this year and in my opinion is the best 4 day attraction Jacksonville offers.  Why am I telling you this?  Because right now you have the opportunity to win access to 10 films during this year’s festival on May 17-20.  That’s 10 for you, 5 for you and a friend or invite 9 of your friends to join you in watching a single film.  It’s a great deal and all you have to do is predict better than the other Jacksonville film buffs at the winners of this Sunday’s Oscars.  Fill out your ballot here and good luck!

Have you ever been reading along in email or on the web and hit a spot that made you want to throw up?  I had one of those moments today. 

A friend of mine passed on an article about a guy claiming to be Jesus.  Right out of the box, I want to write the guy off as a crackpot and move on to the next story.  But, when the guy is pulling in $1.4 million a year and adding 100 churches a year to his membership, I figure it’s worth reading a little bit more. 

Houston Press did this article on him:  http://houstonpress.com/2006-11-30/news/this-man-thinks-he-s-jesus-h-christ/full

He’s got this website:  http://www.cegenglish.com/  and this one:  http://www.creciendoengracia.com/

And there’s plenty more just by searching on “José Luis De Jesús Miranda”.
This isn’t just some crackpot somewhere else stirring the pot.  This guy has a church meeting right here in Jacksonville, FL every Wednesday at 8:00pm in a Best Western hotel.  And honestly, I’m even ok with that.  He’s got the freedom to do that.  The part that really makes me sick is that our American church today has opened the door for him to be successful. 
Why, you ask?  How do I come to such a conclusion?  We’ve raised, and continue to raise, Chuck E. Cheese generations of Christians.  They have no idea what scripture has to say beyond a few stories.  They don’t know how to study scripture in light of its context and historical reference.  They don’t know how to apply scripture to their daily lives.  They do however know how to be entertained and spun up into a frenzy over whatever topic an energetic, passionate preacher might present.  We’ve given guys like this the opportunity to come in and present himself as the answer. 
Look around America.  The largest church in America is led by a guy that at best is a motivational speaker.  Wake up Church! 

I spent some time today catching up on some of my favorite blogs – and have been reminded that there is common ground amongst the future of the church…

Justin, at Radical Congruency, has a few posts in an ongoing conversation about “The Future of Our Faith” that are worth the few minutes that it will take you to read…  It may however lead you into hours of thought and reflection as you wrestle with the points he presents as well as the ones that you may discover on your own.

View them at:  http://www.radicalcongruency.com

Gordon, aka: Real Live Preacher, shares a story with us about “You Know, That Other Bible” as defined by his daughter.  If you’ve hung out with Mosaic (Jacksonville) then this might hit home a bit. 

View it at:  http://www.reallivepreacher.com/node/870

The folks over at Open Source Theology share a lot of great points about who we are and what we believe, but it is the nature of their conversation that intrigues me the most.  As a computer geek, I see “open source” and understand its implication.  But for those of you that do not follow the computer world, it may miss the mark.  Open source with software and computers simply means that the code to make something run is fully available and able to changed and adapted as needed for free.  Open source theology suggests that our study of God and its application to our lives should be open and free for discussion.  This is how it was for our previous leaders (Luther, Calvin, Wesley…) when they laid the foundations for much of today’s denominational theology.  Somehow, over the past several decades, we’ve lost our explorative nature and fell in line with those before us.  As Off QUEUE suggests, it’s time to get out of line and figure out what we believe.  Check out Open Source Theology at: http://www.opensourcetheology.net/index.php

Loving by the rules

The Culture Ministry has launched the ’10 Commandments of Love’ in an attempt to prevent teenagers getting too carried away on Valentine’s Day. They are:

1. Love with patience, so as not to become a premature parent

2. Truly love only one person

3. Love with mercy, trying not to hurt the one you love

4. Carefully love to avoid taking risks that might lead to contracting sexual diseases

5. Love with honour, waiting until the proper time to have sex

6. Love in accordance with custom

7. Love reasonably, not taking sexual advantage of your lover

8. Love permanently, without defaming the one you love

9. Love honestly, believing in your partner

10. Love with understanding, forgiveness and without anger

Culture Minister Khunying Khaisri Sri-aroon said the initiative followed research suggesting that teenagers have premature sex, more than one partner and live together without commitment. “The commandments remind them that real love does not mean sex,” she said.

Dr Amornwit Nakhonthap, director of Ramjitti Institute, said society should allow teenagers the space to learn about loving, and the best way to persuade them to be morally upright was to rely on sensible pressure from their peers.

–The Nation 2007-02-12

It’s been kind of hard to put words down on paper (or cyber-paper) for the past month…  And to look and see that it’s only been a month is hard to believe.  Before I continue, I’ve got my wife’s approval about posting on this. 

 This past summer, wy wife’s brother commited suicide.  That deeply affected my wife and her family, but I thought moving into the holidays that she was beginning to move past the initial grief and had begun to live with his loss.  Apparenlty, as we’ve now learned, it’s common to “crash” six months after a loss of this sort.  The week before Christmas, I helped my wife get admitted to a psych ward at a local hospital.  She hit her wall…

 There are all kinds of dynamics to this story that made taking her to the hospital so much more difficult than just seeing the pain that she was in and admitting we needed professional help.  I’m not a fan of going to doctors or hospitals (even though I work for one) and this experience validates and invalidates my thoughts all at the same time. 

My best friend and I sat with my wife in the ER as the docs told us they were admitting her.  She was then transferred to the psych ward where the explained what to expect, removed any potenially dangerous items (shoelaces, sharp objects…) and politely ushered me out.  Unlike a regular hospital wing, this wing didn’t have phones or tvs in the rooms – they encouraged the patients to be out of their rooms and not holed up by themselves.  Visiting hours were limited to two one-hour visits each day.  She could call me, but the staff kept her pretty busy with different counseling sessions.  I was left to show up, watch through a four-inch wide window in the door until a staff member would let us in at the appropriate visiting time.  They were also very ready to usher us out at the end of that time.  I fully understand that my wife was admitted to that wing for a purpose and visiting times may not always be the most beneficial part of that treatment – but for me, watching and wondering how my wife was doing, ABSOLUTELY SUCKED! 

Our friends (Brooks & Rosendales) were beyond angelic.  Where I needed help, they were a step ahead.  Our pastors wanted to do so much more and kept us in prayers.  I can’t even articulate how important these folks were to me during this time.  I’m sure others would have stepped up as well, but the last thing I wanted to do was field more calls or concerns during that time – and I wanted to protect my wife’s privacy. 

My wife is getting better.  I’d like to say she’s getting back to normal, but I’m beginning to realize that “back to normal” may not be a fair expectation.  Things change in our lives and we change because of them.  Maybe the better statement is that my wife is getting healthier and our normal is shifting to a healthier place as well. 

I’ve been pre-occupied with how our lives are changing.  Over the past week, I’ve had the urge to write again, and I think God is matching my voice to my desires.  Which is kind of funny because one of the things I’ve been avoiding is marrying my desires with where I feel I should be going in life.  More of that to come….