Thursday, November 30, 2006

Becker, Warren and a Little Girl

I guess there is a lot on my mind lately. Barb is plumping up with child and is giving that Thanksgiving turkey a run for its money. Although she might cost more per pound; I'll have to look at the insurance bills. Along those same lines is the very fact that within the body of my bride is another. That for the past 18 or 19 weeks her heart has been beating 160 beats per minute as her developing body needs more nutrients, more blood, and more oxygen. At the same time my wife's rib cage is expanding as her lungs are growing so that she herself can produce for our child more nutrients, more blood and more oxygen. That this week our little girl is growing her epidermis, which has been determined by her Creator, fingerprints established, freckles and tone. It's astonishing that she is working alongside God right now, so to speak, fulfilling the requirements of external life. Even further, within my bride is our little girl and within our little girl are all the eggs she will have for the rest of her life. Our grandchildren are literally within my wife and girl at the same time. All of this is imprinted into her; she knows what to do though she cannot articulate a single sentence. It is almost as if God had arranged everything for us to do without us ever really knowing we are doing it, and without our consent or input, as is my case.

At the same time as my child, my wife and my burgeoning fixation on the creativity and ingenuity of God, are two books that have completely demolished and renovated my thoughts on human nature, life, death, and eternity: The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker and Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. I rarely find myself in the new releases portion of any bookstore. I don't really go for new when it comes to a lot of things, books especially. I try to find classics, something with time-tested value that has an enduring reputation. Even with church planting and some pastoral or leadership issues I don't go for the newest glossy paperback. I go to pastors dead and gone, theologians who shook and shaped their cities or countries and who could also shape me if I were as willing. Becker wrote The Denial of Death in 1973 and subsequently received The Pulitzer Prize. Warren wrote his book only four years ago, but it has remained atop the New York Times best-seller list for multiple years (175 weeks as of May of this year). So his book is relatively new but has major cultural influence today.

This is all I can write right now, as the content of the books are staggering. Eevery paragraph in Warren's book could be a paragraph to live by. Likewise, in Becker's work there are certain pages that latch on to you and force you down to the ground, wrestle with you, and later become some of your best companions. Though Becker was a cultural anthropologist who spent his life gathering and synthesizing multi-disciplinary thoughts about the "why of existence" and Warren ,a pastor, theologian and humanitarian, seem quite opposite on the surface they both have some astounding cohesiveness. Both agree that each one of us has a desire for immortality, a desire to live and have influence beyond our own years, that we have an intense inner yearning for life and self-expression, but that we all fear life and we all fear death. They both agree that satisfaction in life comes not when we focus on self but when we ultimately surrender to God everything we've been trying to build for our own glory and immortality. It's like the Scripture says, "God has placed eternity in the hearts of everyone."

Recently a friend sent me an email and within that email was a line that was stuck in my brain like a splinter, "Do not fear that your life will end, but that it will never truly start." And so, I sit with Becker and Warren, fighting, feuding, sparring with them in a pugilistic three-for-all, and I am the better for it.

Anyway, thanks for listening to the rambling--perhaps a few paragraphs too long. I hope to build a document with quotes and cross references with the both of these guys as I feel it is at the base of any teaching that I'd give from Scripture. Alright now, stay warm and safe.


Monday, November 13, 2006


Ah, this time next week I'll be figuratively spiking a football in the endzone of certainty as we find out if it's a boy, girl, or monster. I have been wanting a girl, however, in the second or third week of finding out Barb was pregnant, my gut instinct said, "boy." Barb's instinct says "boy" to, which is better than, "boy, two."

So, it's great to live in a mystery right now. However, I know that when I find out if it's a boy or girl the mystery will get only more profound. As Barb was talking to me on our weekend drive a few days ago, she said, "Jason, I was just looking at my hair and thinking about what color our kid's is going to be. I have no power to make it one way or the other. God has decided and God is deciding a lot about our kid without asking or letting us know. Isn't it great?!"

Thursday, November 09, 2006

It's been 6 weeks?!!! But why, Jason?

Ah, here it is, mid-November, nice breeze, comfortable conditions inside and out. This place is starting to feel a bit more like home as we unpack, repack, throw away, and/or set up our things. The baby unofficially has more stuff than any of us, lucky thing.

We find out Thanksgiving week if it's a boy or girl. Judging by Barb's belly, it's a giant. My birthday is on that week, so I am blessed all ways around.

Recently went up to Minnesota with the team to the Alpha conference to learn from the creators of the course. It was a great trip for us as a team as God solidified some visioning stuff and also as we worked out some immediate structure things with our meetings. And, blessing again, a friend from Hillside was there at the conference, Steve. We were able to have great talks and share a meal downtown one night. Steve and I meet in all the exotic places--dormitory in seminary, Catalina, Corte Madera/Larkspur, Minneapolis. Ah, the life of a jet-setter.

I know I haven't been posting as much. That's for a few reasons. Let me number them:
1. This will be a more personal site and will deal primarily with family and person items.

2. Church planting updates and anything to do with that kind of thing will go to another site. It it There's various stuff on there so you'll have to do some sifting through. If you want updates or our newsletter, which will condence the news down, then email me (or reply to this post) and I'll hook you up.

3. We are in the planning stages of organizing, strategizing, and building a website. God's brought along our side a very capable web-wizard who is also turning out to be a great friend. So #2 above is for updates, thoughts pertaining to our situation in Memphis, and this website might eventually incorporate it.

4. To blog about everything is to blog about nothing.

5. "Blogs are written by people with nothing to say and are read by people with nothing to do," which is a quote I heard Guy Kamasaki say at a conference in San Francisco. So I quote that to myself every now and again as I login and then ask, "Is this worth saying?"

6. Further with #5, I want to make sure I write well and have something good to say. We all have enough to read, so there's no need for me to write everything I think. I agree with Otto Rank who said, "there is already too much truth…an over-production which apparently cannot be consumed!" The bookstores and blogospere proves it: never has so much been written, yet so little been said.

I sincerely hope that you and yours are doing well. I appreciate you reading this and showing interest in what's going on in me and with me. Drop a line and holla if you wish.