Monday, February 27, 2006

Goodbye and Hello

I worked through some stuff this weekend regarding my stance on postmodernism and modernism and the weird tension between the two. usually I am labeled and lumped with the postmodern group, because I have a questioning mind and am willing to try new stuff. but that's gotten kinda annoying. And i'm not sure that I want to be labeled anything, except one thing. A Christ follower.

So I'm saying goodbye to gray, the ambiguity that is embraced by postmoderns. Hello to the clarity of the gospel: love for all.

Goodbye to black and white, the idea that there is a clear cut answer for anything (embraced by moderns). Hello to the ambiguity of grace: God's love for all.

And in the same breath, I welcome "grayness" and "black and whiteness", but only as they help me understand who Jesus is and help me convey his love to others.


So, Nate and Sam and I went on a sweet retreat this past weekend. We went to North Bend State Park in WVA, and were super blessed to have great weather for our time away.

How cool it was to be with long time friends. And to...

...constantly build fires...
...drink coffee non-stop...
...fart incessantly...
...encourage each other...
...hike through the valleys...
...skip stones on the creek... a dam (small, and not efficient, but still fun to make)... sequence all night...
...consume vast quanities of chips and salsa...
...make creative concoctions with Bisquik...
...challenge each other...

it was great. each of us shared a little of how we felt God was leading us and it was cool, because Sam led the way on thursday night talking about being men who hold on to the unshakable kingdom. And that pretty much took the rest of the conversations from there on out...good stuff.

another thing I noticed when I went out and about quietly and laid on a rock, is that trees reaching into the sky kind of look like veins stretching through the blue.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

FOL Pictures

So we had a big weekend this weekend. Festival of life. A weekend for kids to try out their talents in sports, arts and music and stuff. Good time for kids to connect to each other too...find out what they're good at...and what they're not good at. Anyway, here are three pictures that were sent to me.
This is scary. Somebody in a helmet.
And Volleyball. A sweet action shot. Look at the motion on the ball. This was my favorite guy. The bass player for the winning band. He wore a tux all day. Hilarious.


Well, I'm getting ready to go to WVA with my good friends Nate and Sam. We'll be retreating to the hills, if you will, hopefully to find some peace in being together and encouragement.

I'm really looking forward to this. We get together on the phone about every week, but haven't been together as a group in a little over a year. It'll be good to be together. There's something in the community...

Pray for us as we're there, that it'd be an encouraging and refreshing time for each of us. That we'd be spurned forward into doing more and living more in the way of Christ.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Who am I?

Reading Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf. Inspired a story…a choose your own adventure of sorts.

I am the first born. I have a good life. My name even means that I’m great. My parents love me. I’ve got a great trade and am actually pretty successful at it. I think God must really think I’m special.

I’ve also got a brother. He was born after me. Funny, though, because mom and dad decided to name him something that basically implies “afterthought”. Poor guy has to tend to sheep, something that mostly girls do. But oh well.

Something weird happened the other day, though. You see, we were both making offerings to our Creator. I brought some of the stuff from my fields, because I’m a farmer. And my brother brought some of his sheep. And wouldn’t you know, God was more pleased with his offering, not mine.

Choose your destination:

1. I choose to learn from my brother, to accept him and recognize what God sees in him, and maybe become a little like him. Maybe I have some things to adjust in my own life, maybe I need to create space for my brother to be honored by God. I think I’ll do that. And so I do. I talk to my brother about what he offered to our Creator. I find out that he gave the best portions of his flock. You see, that’s where we had been different. I had just grabbed some stuff that was closest, but had kept the best, because I wanted to have a nice dinner later. So now I am trying to be a little like my brother. I carefully select the best of my farm and bring it to our Creator.

2. I choose to be upset about what happened. I mean, I am the firstborn, obviously God thinks much of me. But if my brother gets more honor than I do, oh, that can’t be. I only have one option, I must get rid of him. I mean, if I do, then that will put me back in my place. I’ll be the one with honor, because I’ll be the only one. Oh, he makes me so angry. Who does he think he is anyway? And what’s God thinking? Argh. Well, here’s what I’ll do. I’ll take him out to a field, that way I can be away from everybody else who might object, and I’ll kill him. Yeah, he is my brother, but he’s stealing my honor. I’m the firstborn. I’m supposed to be more favored, because that’s the way it’s always been.

Who am I? I am you and I am Cain.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Jones Soda

Well, I took the advice of one of my students and submitted one of the pictures from my vacation on the Jones Soda website. I've always thought it was cool how they put normal pictures on their bottles and cans. So grass roots, and we all know how much I like grass...err, I mean roots.

Anyway, go to this site (Jones Soda) and vote for my picture. If I get enough votes, then it might get on a bottle. That'd be flippin sweet...

Monday, February 13, 2006


there's a lot of talk about original sin: the idea that all men are under some type of curse that causes them to sin. it seems obvious that there is something out there causing us to do things contrary to goodness, because all of us are guilty of something.

but i also think it's interesting that sin is never original. it's always unoriginal. it always plays off of the most original and tries to create an alternative which will never measure up.

unoriginal sin.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Venice: St. Mark's and the Birds

Here I am in the St. Mark's Square. I like to call this church the "church of thieves" because there is so much stolen stuff in the church and it's known as a haven for pickpockets. They actually stole the remains of St. Mark to put in there.

In the square, they have all these birds. Seriously, tons of birds. My favorite part of Venice right here. You buy a bag of corn and corn pieces (the corn kernels were too big for the sparrows, so you had to give them the little pieces or they'd choke).

Aubrey didn't like the birds too much. But they did like her...

Scarecrow Josh, that's what I like to call myself. And this is my friend, Dirtnasty. He pooped on me.

A cool thing to do with the birds: throw a piece of corn and watch all the birds fly to it. The birds go crazy over it.

Even cooler thing to do with the birds: throw a piece of corn in front of an unsuspecting tourist and watch all the birds fly toward the tourist. The tourists freak out.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Parents in Town

So my parents came into town on Friday and are here until Thursday. It's been great to catch up on their time in SE Asia and to share with them about our time here in York. What a joy it was to worship with them and to hear them talk about how God has been active in their lives and to hear their encouragement to our church.

Today we're going to visit my grandmother and uncle (dad's side) in Allentown, which should be great.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Venice: City of bridges, alleys and canals (and sometimes slighly smelly water)

Ah Venice. The city of bridges, alleys and canals (and sometimes slightly smelly water).
Here's a gondola ride (which we never took, seeing that they were pretty exhorbitant in cost). We actually saw somebody getting a ride with a singer and accordian player.
The bridge behind Aubrey is the Bridge of Sighs, where prisoners would get their last glimpse of freedom (and sigh) before arriving in the prison the the right side.
This is the Tre Arche Bridge right outside our hotel (named Tre Arche Hotel). We stayed on the Carneggio Canal, on the Jewish Ghetto side. Apparently Venice was one of the first cities to limit Jews to a certain place in their city. They would lock up the bridges at night and only allow the Jewish doctors to get out when they were needed (Sounds like what youth ministry is sometimes...locked up until it's needed).
That's the Rialto Bridge behind me. They've got shops and stuff on the bridge. it's one of three that span the Grand Canal.

Everything is by boat here. We even saw a UPS boat. It had the UPS symbol on the rutter.

One of the saddest parts of our trip was seeing a funeral procession. They take the casket on a boat to the cemetery, but the family doesn't get to go with the boat. A woman had just lost someone and was weeping so loudly that it echoed through the square and down the alleys and canals.

In Venice there were signs directing us to Rialto and San Marco Square. often just pointing one direction, when eventually we would find another sign directing us where we wanted to go. But sometimes if we didn't see a sign for a while we would start to worry, but then we would see another sign. And it would direct us where to go. I think this is sometimes how it is with our walk with our Maker. We sometimes are directed to do something and go in that direction...but there is a period in time when we don't know exactly how we going to get where we need to.

These signs were everywhere in Venice. So that wherever you were, you would eventually find a sign directing you to the main sights.

Rome Pictures 6: The Pantheon

So, to wrap up our Rome picturess, here is the pantheon. Apparently it was the largest dome in europe (and it's big) until the St. Peter's Dome (I think) and now it's a church. has a hole in the ceiling. Not sure what it's like to worship if the rain is dropping in.
But Aubrey and I still liked it and smiled.
I tried to bring one of the pillars with me...not so much...they're pretty big.

My favorite part of the pantheon was the violin player outside on the first night that we saw it. He was playing a tune that bordered on mournful, yet tip-toed with playfulness. It was one of those moments when I had to sit down and just soak it in...soak it in...I can still hear it and feel the crisp air and cold cement wall where we were sitting as if we were there again.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Good conversation on Brian's Blog

Hey, there's a good conversation about Driscoll and homosexuality on my friend Brian's blog.

Check it out at Brian's Blog.

Rome 5: Other Great Stuff

Here's Aubrey in front of the Borghese Gallery. What an amazing art gallery. It had one of my favorite pieces of work; a relief of a horse and rider falling. The horse was originally made by an unknown artist during the Roman empire and the horse was added during the Renaissance by Petro Benini (the dad). I love the idea that a work isn't finished and can be added to. Kinda like life...we're not done, we can build on to what was created before us.This is Aubrey eating a gelati, our 3rd of 5th night eating them. We had them every night except one. It's the italian version of ice cream. We figured with walking like 5 miles a day, we could indulge in such delicacies. And if you've had Rita's gelati's, they're nothing like the real thing baby.
And this is where we got our gelati's one night. What's crazy is that in Italy, many of their Cafe's and Bars, you have to pay a cover charge to use their tables. And lots of their seating is outside on the sidewalk (like you see in this picture). And it was cold when we were there. People were eating in the cold.
And for some strange reason, there are lots of cats in Rome. This is one in flight, landing on the ground. I'm not a cat lover, but since there's tons of them in Rome, I figured I'd put it on my blog.
And they've got water fountains everywhere. Not like our water fountains. These are constantly running and sometimes have cool designs like this one that Aubrey is using.

Miroslav Volf: Exclusion and Embrace

So, I picked up a book the other day, supposed to be good reading. And it is, but half the time when I'm reading, I'm like, "Whoa, I think what he said there is really significant, but I'm not really sure how because he uses seriously different language to describe reality."

It seems that the projection of the book is Volf's attempt to show how it is possible to openly embrace through the cross all people based on the sole fact that they are part of the creation. I think I like the direction, but will have to see if I can actually wade through the waters and actually come out able to explain it on the other side.