Paulicus Maximus

Welcome to my blog - land of the free and home of the brave!!
I'm definitely on a journey right now. For the better part of my life I thought I had it all figured out. I was walking along, enjoying life. Then about two years ago everything started to fall apart and now I have no idea where I'm headed or how to get there. I realize more each day just how little I really have figured out.

Friday, August 17, 2007

I've Moved...

I know, I should have told you earlier. It was irresponsible of me to wait this long. I should know better, and in fact I do. Accept my deepest apologies and know that I never meant to slight you. As it turns out I've streamlined down to a single source for my blogging fancies and that's at MySpace. Yes, hard as it is to believe, I am an avid MySpacer. "When in Rome do as the Romans do," they say and the Romans I currently run with live on MySpace. So that's where you'll find me. As for the exact address, is where you'll find me. You can read the blog, view the pictures, and all that jazz.

See ya there!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Is It In Us?

The USA Today had a detailed story about the condition of health care in the state of Texas, highlighting issues affecting the entire nation as well.  They picked Texas, not because it is alone in the quagmire that is the health care industry, but because it's the worst.  By worst I mean that it has the highest percentage of uninsured residents in the country.  My fair state of Oklahoma doesn't fair much better, coming in at 47th.  Overall there are 45 million Americans with no health insurance.  No health insurance usually means no hope when it comes to getting respectable, even quasi-quality health care.

The impetus for this story is likely the anticipation of the new documentary by Michael Moore, called Sicko.  The movie is an in-depth look at the fatal flaws that currently exist in our country's health care industry.  It painfully chronicles the stories of those who's quality of life has been diminished or even ended not because of a lack of ability on the part of doctors to do something, but because of a lack of access by the patient to get the assistance those doctors can provide.

The summation of the story is that insurance rates continue to rise at an alarming pace.  Even with the rate increase, the level of insurance is not maintained as co-pays and deductibles rise as well.  Feeling the pressure, employers are reducing the level of insurance they provide to employees and their families.  So added to the uninsured is a large group of people in this country who are under-insured or who find their insurance pointless as they are denied treatment.  Meanwhile, insurance companies continue to reduce the amounts they pay to doctors and hospitals, such that these places are forced to reduce or quit offering services that don't make a profit, services such as the emergency room.

At the same time all this is going on, insurance companies continue to see record profits.  And their using those profits to strong-arm the government into ignoring this devastating problem.  (A quote from the Sicko trailer reveals that there are four health care industry lobbyists for every member of Congress).

I'll give you just two statistics that should shake us to the core and wake us up to the awful state of health care in our country:

  1. The United States has the LOWEST life expectancy among all industrialized nations in the world.
  2. The United States has the HIGHEST infant mortality rate among all industrialized nations in the world.

Chew on that for awhile.  We've got more wealth and better doctors than any other industrialized nation in the world and yet we fail in two of the most critical categories that exist.

My fervent prayer (yes I did use that term seriously) is that this film and the news stories it spawns will create an unrest so great that dramatic changes will result.  I believe that followers of Christ should lead the charge on this issue, not because it is necessarily the "free-market" thing to do and not because it's the "American" thing to do, but because it is the Christian thing to do.  What can overcome the vast stockpiles of cash at the disposal of the insurance industry?  Nothing, if not the prayers and sacrificial love of the followers of Christ.

1 John 3:17 asks us as believers a challenging question, and one that is very timely.  "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?"

It is not only our brothers who are in need, but our sisters and our fathers and our mothers.  We have a voice, we have a vote, and we have resources.  If we are unwilling to pray for and cry out for a change that will meet their need then how can the love of God be in us?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Requisite Life Update

I've been throwing the gauntlet down to myself for quite awhile now, trying to "self-motivate" into beginning the blog that I've sadly neglected for so long.  Unfortunately my motivational skills appear to be lacking as I've now gone more than three months without an update.

Quite honestly there have been MANY times I've wanted to say something relating to various issues or events, but it didn't really feel appropriate as the vast majority of you had no idea what was going on with me personally. order that I might free myself to blog again, I present to you this life-update.

First, I mentioned several months back that I had taken a job at OU.  I manage all the IT labs on campus and all the classroom A/V equipment.  Really, what I manage is the people that manage those things.  I guess the only thing to update you on in this arena is to let you know that I'm still loving it.  I have great bosses and co-workers.  It's a fun environment and I'm learning a great deal, which is always a good sign.

Second, I alluded to this in a previous post but was not freed up to give full disclosure, but Alicia and I are in house-building mode.  My work over the past few years for a local homebuilder has given me an appreciation for quality construction and so we are building a house (with said homebuilder) in the south Norman area.  We're really excited.  Apartment life is a drag when you're used to having your own place.  We're ready to have room to spread out, a place to host, and the ability to speak above a whisper before 9am and after 10pm.  We're still a few months out but we check on the house very regularly to make sure the work is being done right.  So far so good.  We've had a snag or two, but everything has been worked out and we'll be homeowners again in the not-to-distant future.

Finally, the biggest life-change relates to some part-time work I've taken up.  Actually, that's a really poor way to describe it.  It's so much more and yet so much less than work.  I'm currently "serving" as a youth pastor for an area church.  It's one of those places that, despite being minutes from OKC, has the feel of the country.  The people are phenomenal.  I've never felt so loved so fast.  The students I get to work with are the exact same way.  I think that within 5 minutes they had given me nickname and were freely making fun of my every action (always a good sign).  It's been challenging at times to make the transition back into ministry, but well worth it.  It's a busy time.  We've got a lock-in coming up, VBS, and we're gearing up for camp.  It'll be my first chance to take students to Falls Creek so that'll be something to watch I'm sure.  Even though I'm a lifelong Oklahoma Baptist, my Falls Creek quota is severely lacking.

So these are the things going on with me.  Hopefully, now that I've given you the polite and proper 5-minute catch-up on my life I'll be able to adequately comment on all that is going on in the world around us.  I've been moved by some things that I've seen lately.  I've been frustrated by other things.  And some things have just made me downright angry.  I want to continue to use this blog to work through the things I'm learning and how I'm growing (or not growing and should be) as a person and a follower of Christ.  While not exactly a journal, a blog has the same ability to make the ethereal or surreal become tangible and I hope that is what this place continues to be.  It's a challenge to remember what we learn instead of just letting it be a lump in our throat or a stirring in our hearts for only a moment.  And with that, welcome back into the happenings of my life.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I'm Not With Them

Working on a college campus means you're always prone to see the incredible, the unique, and the frustrating. For example, since I started a month ago our fine University has been host to former Mexican President Vicente Fox, former Vice-President Al Gore, and former President George H.W. Bush. Now that's quite a line-up. The totality of experience and I.Q. of those three men is probably more than most are lucky to see in a lifetime and yet we got them all in one month. Unfortunately I didn't get to see any of them as I had other obligations but I've already decided that I'm going to start marking those sorts of things down on my calendar and making a point to be a part of them. I mean, it would be nice to have cool stories about hearing these guys to tell my grandchildren some day.

So those men represent the incredible and the unique, but what about the frustrating? Never fear, they've been around too. The first two days of this week saw a couple of "fiery" 20-something preachers setting up camp in the south oval. These guys work in tag team and draw a surprisingly large crowd as they hurl out monikers such as "sinner" and "hypocrite." I'm honestly not sure what they're trying to accomplish. Tuesday they even brought a white board with a verse from the Psalms ripped completely out of context that said, "God despises the wicked" Underneath it they put the question, "Are you wicked?" Well I think that pretty much sums up their message. It's a message of hate and condemnation. I was walking through the oval with somebody while they were doing their "thing" and I turned to him and said, "The worst thing that could happen for those guys would be if everyone accepted their message because then they wouldn't have anyone left to condemn." Sadly, I've not made any attempt to hide the fact that I'm a former pastor (even confessing to being SBC) and that my college degree was in religion and so I run the risk of being associated with people like that. What I feel like doing is wearing a sign around my neck that says, "I'm not with them" because I have this deep terror that someone is going to mistakenly think that these guys even remotely represent the message or heart of Christ and then connect them with me. Sheesh, please don't be deceived. If the core of your message is that God hates the wicked then I can boldly and confidently stand up and say, "You don't get it." So to the guys who are spending their precious time looking down from their self-righteous perch, trying to convince a generation of students of how reprehensible they are, I encourage you to remember the words of the prophet and to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Telling the Truth

Christian Smith recently wrote an article in Christianity Today entitled, "Evangelicals Behaving Badly with Statistics." The article is very important because it brings to light a practice among evangelicals which is incredibly un-Christlike and represents, I believe, a distinct lack of faith. The summation of his article is that evangelicals, as a subgroup within our culture, are particularly bad about distorting, manipulating, or just plain ignoring facts when making their case before their congregants. Frank Lloyd Wright once said that "the truth is more important than the facts" and this seems to be the theory under which evangelicals often operate. This lack of integrity in making our case is strangely ironic as we've really claimed a cornering of the market on finding truth.

The article is well worth the read but will probably come as no surprise to those who have found themselves at one time locked in the grip of this system and are now trying to pull themselves out of it. It seems to be cultivated in us as pastors in training that the best methods of motivation are fear and guilt. And so we heap them on, service after service, hoping that we will be able to effect some change. We talk of grim, truly frightening statistics. We take incomplete data and use it to spell imminent doom for the Church. We manipulate research in order to "scare" congregants into living the radical life, as if anything less will lead to the demise of their children and grandchildren. We condemn them and heap upon them a burden of guilt for failing to live a "Christlike witness" in their culture, basically pointing the finger at them and laying blame on their doorstop for the terrible state we find ourselves in.

It may seem like I speak in too absolute of terms but the truth is that I've been there myself and can speak with some amount of authority as to how pastors operate and the culture under which they are brought up. In my own search for answers as to why we choose to take this approach I believe I've found three distinct reasons. The first is that we have an understandably human need to control. Knowledge is power and so if we have some special knowledge that those who sit under us do not have then we can lead them and hold power over them. It strikes me how many pastors I hear speak on these issues. There's nothing wrong with noticing alarming trends or seeing disconcerting things going on in our culture because they certainly abound. What IS wrong is that it seems like everyone of them already have all the answers. I was like that too. I trumpeted death and destruction. I attempted to terrify my students and guilt them into living these radical lives. I can't tell you how ashamed I am of that. I read through some of the messages I taught over the years and I just shake my head as my stomach turns. I had to have power. I had to have answers. I had to "lead" them out of the muck and the mire which they had gotten themselves into. I had to shock them so that I could hold their attention. It wasn't enough to give them the words of life. I had to lace them with fear and guilt so that they knew how far they were and needed me to lead them.

The second thing which I believe leads to our warping of statistics is a terrifying fear of failure. You hear it in politics all the time. In order to beat this bad news we've got to "get out in front of the story." We've got to make sure that our spin is the official spin. That way when the crap really hits the fan we can stand there and say, "I told you so" or play it off as an obvious effect of what we've been saying all along. And what if the crap never actually hits the fan? That's okay because we've moved on to fear mongering some other hot topic. It should be obvious by now to everyone who's spent any time in church...pastors fail. And I'm not just talking about the oops, had an affair kind of failure. I'm talking about the more serious kind. The kind that is rarely brought to light. It's the failure to let people know that we're human, the failure to let them see us make a mess of things. And so they place us on these pedestals and put us up in glass houses and we're terrified of doing anything that might possibly mess that up or reveal our humanity. I'll be the first to tell you (after the fact of course, when it's safe and being able to provide for my family isn't on the line) that I was a failure as a pastor. I "failed" because I didn't have the answers and I had to pretend like I did. I failed because I had to be absolutely sure I was doing the right thing, all the while self-destructing on the inside because I couldn't even look at myself in the mirror. It was the culture I grew up in and the culture I worked in. In the end, it was my inability to just be okay with duality and hypocrisy that did me in.

Finally, I believe there is an overwhelming need to distort the facts in favor of the "truth" because many pastors suffer from a distinct lack of faith. It may sound crazy but it's true. We lack the faith to believe that Jesus is the one who redeems people and so we use these wild tactics to win them ourselves, to compel them by our own abilities. We lack faith to believe that we can change the world one person at a time. We use the shotgun approach because it protects us from failure. We can't mess people up from behind a pulpit nearly as much as if we took four or five and said, "Follow me as I follow Christ." We lack the faith to believe that living differently will make more difference than our fiery sermons ever will. Heck, we lack the faith to believe that Jesus can and wants to make us different first.

And so we cry from the watchtowers. We exaggerate and manipulate the facts because it's easier than getting down in the dirt and risking failure. We weren't the first to do it, but we've certainly perfected the art form.

I don't know that I'll ever get the chance to do ministry as a full-time profession again but I hope and pray that if I do it will be drastically different this time around. I don't want to be so interested in being the all-knowing, all-seeing answer man that I forget to let God work in his amazing ways and use me and all my failures for his glory. I don't want to live in a glass house, I want to be one.


This past weekend John Mayer was in town and my wife and I went to go see him in concert. It was actually a long-awaited Christmas present that I had gotten for her. I just have to say that the guy is phenomenally gifted. I'm not usually one for concerts. I think it's because music is something that is intensely personal for me and the thought of sharing such an experience with 8000 other people is pretty unattractive. Of course that idea was reinforced when we found ourselves seated next to screaming girl. You know who I'm talking about. There's one at every concert. She's not really interested in clapping or singing. Her sole purpose is to scream that shrill, high-pitched scream and she does it louder than anyone else in the arena. Yeah, that girl was sitting right next to us. And then there was middle-aged drunk lady with foul mouth strategically placed behind us. She fulfilled her concert obligation when she spilled her beer down my wife's back. Sheesh, hold your liquor woman!!!

Anyway, despite those things I thought the concert was incredible. The things he does with a guitar are just unbelievable. He closed out his set by playing Gravity, which he calls "the most important song he's ever written." Forget the fact that it's a great song, he launched into this guitar thing at the end that I think went on for like 10 minutes. I'm telling you though, he could have just stretched the song out for three hours and I would have kept listening, still amazed, still wanting more. Somehow he just connects. And his lyrics are so great. Every song you hear you feel like you've known it your whole life and yet it seems so new and fresh. Plus his songs say something. They have purpose and meaning, which seems a rare find these days.

Well I don't want to get too carried away with the Mayer-worship but I just have to say you really should drink the Kool-Aid and join the cult. You definitely won't be disappointed.

The First Day

There have been several things come up recently that I really want to blog about but I thought I would preempt them to tell you guys about my first day at the new job. For those that don't know, I'm now officially the Classroom/Lab Manager for the IT Department at OU. Basically that means I'm responsible for making sure the IT outfitted classrooms and labs on campus are staffed and functional. For those unfamiliar with OU, I can only say that it's not a small campus, which means that the first day on the job can be a little daunting. Within my first five minutes there I had been given my Blackberry device, which makes me available 24-7 I guess. I also got a ring full of keys that, when used as a projectile, could bring down a small plane. I can't begin to tell you what doors they unlock, but apparently a plethora spread all about campus. Oh, and losing them is a bad thing, as whole sections of the campus would have to be re-keyed, apparently at a cost of around 80k for certain keys. Now, what kind of pressure is that? The gist of my job is that I'll be supervising between 30 and 35 employees, lab assistants and technicians.

I spent the day getting the tours as well as a crash course in the IT department as a whole and my job responsibilities. Most of my employees will be part-time students. While I'm excited about working with students again, it didn't take long for me to recall some of the difficulties of working with a group of people that typically has a fundamentally different approach to life. Nevertheless, I'm very excited about what I'll be doing and about being a part of the OU community. For anyone around the campus, I office in Felgar Hall, Room 300 but if today is any indication, I'll be spending about 15 minutes there each day. Maybe our paths will cross as I trek across campus.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

What is the State of the Union?

The State of the Union is really just one big pat on the back/rose-colored glasses sort of thing. There's nothing like listening to the President talk about what he's done and his grand ideas about what we need to do. It's one man/party's opinion and that's fine but any person's argument sounds great without any input from the other side, which is basically what you get with these things.

I have to say that there were parts I enjoyed listening to. I'm glad the President is talking about environmental issue. We may differ on how dire the situation is or even what needs to be done but his desire to reduce fuel consumption by 20% is admirable. I was glad to hear him talk about alternative fuels and he even acknowledged the seemingly obvious fact that our environment is being negatively impacted by our own actions. That was a shocker and it seemed like it shocked his own party a little bit as they were not nearly as quick to jump up and applaud as Democrats were.

His thoughts regarding health insurance are an interesting prospect. The idea of giving a deduction for money spent on insurance is a good place to start, a good place to start if you believe that private insurance is the ultimate answer I suppose. I can't say that I'm sure that's the case. When he trumpeted a deduction up to 15K for people paying insurance costs he conspicuously left out the part about people paying over 15K for insurance getting slapped with an increased tax. That will actually affect more people than you might think. I'm blessed through my state job to get a generous benefit allowance to cover the cost of my family's health insurance (which makes up for the fact that public employees make much less in the bring-home column) so I don't have to pay anything out of pocket, but the cost for insurance just for myself and my wife comes out to over $11,000 a year and it is anything but "Gold Standard." It is sufficient and a blessing but if we had children that cost would increase to $16,000. Which means that middle-class Paul, if paying his own insurance for a basic HMO, would pay an additional tax for the insurance he carries. So...while some might be helped others would be hurt. And this is in Oklahoma where the cost of living is one of the lowest in the nation. I can only imagine it would be worse in places like New York and California. In truth, I don't think private insurance is going to be the answer. I think we've gotten way beyond that possibility so I hope Congress will block the President's plan. (At this point I'd like to give props to the governor of our state who is seeking to make healthcare more affordable for individuals and the small businesses they work for. His plan has the government helping to shoulder the burden of what is typically a major cost for people in this category. It also can relieve some burden from those already insured as they often have to cover medical costs for the 1 in 5 citizens of this state who are uninsured and need medical attention. Way to go Gov!)

The President was predictable on education. Everyone wants to improve education. Everyone wants better schools and better equipped teachers and all that. Everyone claps when he talks about those things. However, he also wants parents who are displeased with their children's education to have the choice to move them somewhere else (and of course take their tax dollars with them). I must say that such thinking really angers me. It's typical upper class, upper middle class thinking that seems to believe that anyone can improve their lot in life if they just work a little harder. Some people just don't have that option and won't ever get the breaks it takes to have that option and when the people with money decide to take their money and find a "better" school it hurts a lot of people who are stuck with the hand they've been dealt. So in response to that I'll quote the Scripture he used in another context in his address, "To whom much is given, much is required." Many of use have been blessed with much and we should see it as our duty to improve education for everyone, not just for ourselves and our kids. Parents who are dissatisfied with the quality of education their kids are receiving are more than welcome to move them somewhere else but as those who have been given much they need to use their finances, their influence, and whatever else it takes to see schools improved for all children. Maybe they could start a campaign and call it "No Child Left Behind" or something catchy like that.

Talk of the war was typical. He seemed to be begging a bit, like a man desperate for one more chance to prove himself. I just don't know if he's going to get it this time. He is sure going to try though. And if his demeanor reveals anything, it seems like his confidence in himself and his ideas aren't lacking. We'll see what happens as he faces major dissent not only from a Democratically controlled Congress but from a doubtful public as well.

So that's my spin on the State of the Union. And did you see Senator Webb's opposition response? Wow, that was pretty intense. I couldn't tell if he was going to swallow the cameraman alive or burst in to tears. It seemed like it could go either way.

The State of the Union

Can I just say how much I LOVE the State of the Union? It's one of the more incredible things about our country. It's a night of mutual respect from two opposing parties. It's a night of respect for an office and a form of government that celebrates the separation of powers and a brilliant system of checks and balances. Just some useless trivia that makes it even more cool.

The President cannot come until he's invited. That's right, he has to be invited because he isn't allowed to enter the House Chamber without explicit permission from Congress.

All the branches of government are there and each play a distinct part. The president's party members stand and ovate over and over again. The opposing party stands and claps at times as well. What is really cool are some of the other players. The Joint Chiefs and other members of the military are there. They stand and clap when the president talks of issues of war and foreign affairs. They specifically do not stand and clap when the president speaks of domestic matters because it isn't appropriate for the military to involve itself in domestic affairs. The justices of the Supreme Court are present too however they do not typically stand and clap because it is believed that the Court must keep an appearance of impartiality. Now how cool is all that? There is a decorum and a respect. It doesn't mean individuals don't have their own opinions, it simply means that those individual opinions give way to respect for the roles and offices of our government.

--Side note -- Woohoo!! The President just mentioned taking action in Darfur! Sweet. Now he's quoting Scripture and talking about those who are hugry and needy and those dying of AIDS in Africa. This is the good part of the speech.

Anyway, another cool part of the speech is that the President is never mentioned by name. In his introduction by the Sargent at Arms to his welcoming by the Speaker of the House he is recognized simply as "The President of the United States" and people on both sides of the aisle clap and cheer and smile and shake his hand because of such great respect for the office. How cool is that?

Usually the President recognizes "regular people" who do extraordinary things as part of his speech. Its sort of a pat on America's back and is always good for chills or a lump in the throat. Interestingly these people are referred to as "Lenny Skutnicks" because Lenny was the first one of these regular people back in 1982.

Finally, this particular State of the Union is even more cool because it is the first time a female has welcomed the President as Speaker of the House. And she even got her own standing ovation. That's just awesome.

I'll talk more about the specifics of the speech in a later post but when you see what happens on this night you just have to smile and give props to this great country we live in.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Oh Dear...

An alarming chain of events is unfolding, or has unfolded at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth. I won't go into all the details here as that has been done more succinctly than I could ever hope to do, but I will hit the highlights. In 2002 Sheri Klouda was hired as a Professor of Hebrew in the seminary's School of Theology. Since that time she been praised by students and colleagues as a fine academician and teacher. In addition to that she has been published several times over. Nevertheless she was refused tenure when the time came, saw her class load reduced to nothing, and so was eventually forced out by the administration of the seminary.

Based on the history I've seen the only thing you can fault Dr. Klouda for is her timing. She had the misfortune of being unanimously approved for hire by the trustees of the seminary a year before Paige Patterson was elected as president. Despite his assurances to the contrary it seems that it has been his mission from the beginning to get rid of Klouda and to free the School of Theology from the "taint" of having women serve in the role of professor. In his estimation it is unscriptural for a woman to teach a man and so not befitting the seminary to have a female serve as a professor in this particular school. True, there are other women faculty at Southwestern, but none teaching theology.

I take major issue with President Patterson over this situation. True, no professor is ever guaranteed tenure, that is the nature of working in an institution of higher learning. Nevertheless, there is no attempt to shift the blame of her not receiving tenure to anything other than her gender. So then a person who was unanimously approved for a position by the trustees of the institution finds herself out of a job, not because of the quality of her work, but because God, in his infinite foreknowledge made her a woman.

Wade Burleson does a great job of laying out the history and the facts of the case. He also does a fine job of exegeting Scripture in looking into the issue of women teaching men and serving in positions of leadership inside and outside of the Church. While others have chimed in, I link solely to his blog as he has proven himself to be a seeker of facts, unwilling to bend to the political machine that is the SBC. You can follow the trail from there.

Paige, as quoted in a Baptist Press article, uses I Timothy 2:12 in relaying his belief about the diminished role of women in the church (not that he would refer to it like that). Wade does a great job of pointing out the inability to be absolute in our understanding of that passage as it is built on a word from the Greek (authority) that is not found in any classical Greek or literature of the day. In other words we are merely interpreting here and cannot say with absolute certainty what Paul was saying when he said that women must not teach or have authority over a man. It certainly opens a door for the possibility that his instruction was contextual and not universal.

Second, Paige goes on to say that the highest calling of a woman is as mother and grandmother. I have to say that this is quite alarming. What does that say to the many women who will never be married or to those will not ever be able to have children? What is the purpose of their lives? Better yet, what of those who are not yet mothers and grandmothers? Are they simply biding their time because they cannot know their true purpose until then? I'm sure Paige would say I'm putting words in his mouth or exaggerating his statement but what I'm doing is asking logical questions based on the statements. And I wonder where he can find the Scripture to back up what he's saying. The truth is that the New Testament is full of stories of women serving valuable roles in the ministry of Jesus and in the early church. They didn't just sit at home and raise the kids. They engaged the culture in ministry, teaching and serving for the cause of the Christ.

I think I'm alarmed by this turn of events because I consider myself blessed to have known some pretty incredible women in my life. When he talks of women as second classes citizens in the hierarchy of the Church I think first of my own wife, incredibly gifted with wisdom and leadership abilities. I think of other women I've known like Kim and Natalie and Rachel and Rikki and Alicia and Pam. The names may mean nothing to you but to me they represent women of wisdom who have each taught me quite a lot and even provided leadership in my life...God forbid. I also think of some of the women who came through my ministry as teenagers. They were young women at the time but even then it was easy to see the anointing God had placed on them, girls like Rachel and Holly and Julie and Becca and Ashley and Beth Ann. They were leaders in our group then and they are a value to the church, whether they ever get married and have children or not.

I have to scratch my head in wonder at a God who empowers and equips such people and then holds back their abilities to serve because it violates the order of things. Why give them such great skills of leadership and never let them use it in the most significant entity on the planet? The truth is that the Church speaks out of both sides of her mouth on this issue. We speak of proper roles for men and women and yet seem perfectly fine to let the wives/moms wear the spiritual pants in the family. If they weren't around imagine the condition our already battered families and churches would be in.

I'm open to a healthy debate of these things but when men begin to speak in absolute terms as if their interpretation is the be-all end-all I begin to wonder if healthy debate is even possible. I've mentioned this before but for far too long we've had all the answers in the church. We know, absolutely, the correct interpretation of every passage. Our systematic theology is as inerrant as the Word of God itself. The powers that be have effectively said, "There's our side and the wrong side, which side are you on?" It's time to take a fresh look at Scripture, specifically on this issue, and ask some hard questions.

What instruction of the New Testament is contextual and what is universal? Why does God seem to so equip these women if having them use their gifts is sinful? How much of what we believe is really just the effects of thousands of years of living in a male-dominated culture? How relevant will a church be that doesn't allow women into positions of leadership when we see them leading so often in secular society?

I'm sorry this post has been so scattered. I wanted to get something down before the moment passed but haven't really been able to fully think through everything. I just have so many questions...and so much doubt about the state of the Church I've always known.


I'm trying hard to break out of the funk I wrote about a few weeks back. In some ways I'm getting there, in other ways I'm still mired in the muck. I mentioned back then that one of the main reasons for being stuck in the rut was there was a lot up in the air. I wasn't very specific then but now I can be just a little more.

First, back in November my wife and I became apartment-dwellers again. We hadn't lived in an apartment since our first year of marriage and the transition back was difficult, especially in light of the fact that this apartment was in a college town, which always drops the median age (and maturity) by a decade or two. Generally speaking the place is nice but we have missed our house, our home. We built that one from the ground up (well not personally but you get the idea). We picked out the colors, chose the floor plan, and added in all the features that we wanted. Many times we got frustrated because our house was less than perfect, but in the end we were sad to say good-bye as it was truly ours. Nevertheless, convenience and logic dictated that we sell it and move to Norman so my wife could be closer to school as being a PhD student demands all of your time, usually in random chunks that make it hard to commute such a distance.

So we made the move. However, apartment life is difficult to return to when you've had your own house. You give up your garage, your privacy, your peace, and so much more. At the time an apartment seemed best as we weren't sure what the future held for us and we were fearful of making a long-term commitment in Norman. But in the past few weeks we've gotten a peace about finding a house. I'll save the details for you, whether its buying or renting, timing, location, and all that stuff but the point is that there is a sense of resolution now regarding making Norman our home and I think that makes both of us breathe a little easier.

Another major holding pattern going on in life had to do with my job. For the past year I've worked at a small/medium sized state agency as their Network Administrator. I have enjoyed my time there and it was good therapy following my season in ministry but it felt like it was time for a change. Computer work is something I've been good at, which is nice because it pays pretty well, but it's not exactly a passion of mine and I spend my time doing it usually to pay the bills. That's a difficult thing when you're trying hard to not get caught in the cycle of just doing a job for the money, which could easily have become the case there. Add to that my commute, literally from the far south side of Norman to the north side of OKC and the time for change seemed to be quickly upon me. Fortunately an opportunity opened up at OU and so in two weeks I will begin a new position there. It's strange how things worked out. I didn't seek the position and yet as I learned more about the job I began to see it as something I could get passionate about. It is still in the IT realm, but it is much less hands-on technical support and more management. I will be overseeing all the student labs on campus. I've yet to see a single one but they tell me there are about 100 of them, ranging in size and scope. I'll be supervising all the lab employees which will be a great experience for me and will give me the chance to work with students again. The IT department in the process of trying to re-think their computer labs and work to make them fresh and exciting and visioneering is definitely a passion of mine. OU is one of the Top-10 wired campuses in the country and was ranked on the list of the top 100 places to work in IT in the business world so the environment is awesome. And so I'm very, very excited about this new work that I'll be doing. I'm sad to leave the wonderful people I've worked with. You couldn't ask for better co-workers, but in the end this will be a good change.

So as you can see, some major life "stuff" has now been settled and that helps to stir me from my funk. We'll see what comes from here.


Who to Root For?

Well I'm wrestling through the quandary of trying to figure out who to root for in the Super Bowl in two weeks. Both teams I care about have now officially been eliminated. Dallas was officially eliminated when they lost to Seattle in the first week of the playoffs. They were effectively eliminated back on December 10th when they were embarrassed by the Saints at home 42-17 and shown to be the pretenders that they were. And just now my other team, the New England Patriots, were eliminated by the Indianapolis Colts. So now we have the Bears vs. the Colts, two teams that haven't been in the big game in a very long time. This is exciting as a major barrier has been shattered as not only will this be the first Super Bowl featuring a black head coach, it will feature two. How incredibly cool is that?

Indy should be the favorite when the lines come out (as if they haven't already). Manning is in a class all by himself, especially when put next to Rex Grossman. The Bears have a stout defense and feature several former Sooner stars. Both coaches are quality guys and good friends and both teams bring with them a storied history. I hate to go with the favorite but in the end I think I'll root for the Colts. It seems like Manning has just missed out at every turn in his career and it would be cool to see him win one. Add to that the fact that Dungy got dumped on by the Bucs after raising that team from the dregs of the NFL and he's had a rough year, losing his son. I'm a softy so call me a Colts fan for the next two weeks.

Indy - 33
Chicago - 20