What Peterson Would Say To Seminary Students

A friend of mine linked to this long quote from Eugene Peterson concerning what he would say to new seminary students desiring to be a pastor:

“I’d tell them that pastoring is not a very glamorous job. It’s a very taking-out-the-laundry and changing-the-diapers kind of job. And I think I would try to disabuse them of any romantic ideas of what it is. As a pastor, you’ve got to be willing to take people as they are. And live with them where they are. And not impose your will on them. Because God has different ways of being with people, and you don’t always know what they are.

“The one thing I think is at the root of a lot of pastors’ restlessness and dissatisfaction is impatience. They think if they get the right system, the right programs, the right place, the right location, the right demographics, it’ll be a snap. And for some people it is: if you’re a good actor, if you have a big smile, if you are an extrovert. In some ways, a religious crowd is the easiest crowd to gather in the world. Our country’s full of examples of that. But for most, pastoring is a very ordinary way to live. And it is difficult in many ways because your time is not your own, for the most part, and the whole culture is against you. This consumer culture, people grow up determining what they want to do by what they can consume. And the Christian gospel is just quite the opposite of that. And people don’t know that. And pastors don’t know that when they start out. We’ve got a whole culture that is programmed to please people, telling them what they want.  And if you do that, you might end up with a big church, but you won’t be a pastor.”

Oh how I love Eugene Peterson.

ht  Geroge Mason / lucidtheology / Jonathan Merritt


I Would Like to Make My Own Conference

I usually try to go to a conference each year. These conferences push me to consider new ways of Tapestry being the church. The past few years I have gone to the Q conference and it has been really good, but two years ago I decided I needed a break from it. I spent the next year finishing my dissertation, which was enough for me. I’ve started looking for something else and to be honest I haven’t really found anything that I am really excited about. Must of the conferences I have looked at seem to center around bringing in a Christian celebrity pastor to preach a sermon at you. I’m not real interested in that. I can listen to those preachers online so there is no real advantage to spending lots of money to go to one of those conferences.

I’ve recently asked a group of ministerial friends that I love and respect if they would just pick a conference and I would go there to join them. I figure I’ll get more out of hanging out with them and asking what they are struggling with and succeeding with, than I will with any conference. I actually wish I could just develop my own conference but I don’t really know what it would look like.

At this moment this is what I think I would like to do.

  • Get 20-30 ministers from various backgrounds together in a cabin secluded somewhere. Perhaps in the woods.
  • Pick a very simple theme . I tend to think that simple questions/theme have way more depth than more complex questions/theme. For example, I think it would be fun to ask such a group of 20-30 ministers to define what it means to be the church in their areas. I feel like we don’t usually ask that question, and therefore don’t really even know what we are trying to do. Instead, it feels like we Christian ministers often ask “how do I do church better.” Which is my opinion isn’t the more important question.
  • Ask a few decently respected theologians/thinkers to recommend some books and articles and the simple theme/question we will be discussing and then get all the attendees to read those articles and books before coming to the cabin.
  • Kidnap one of those respected theologians/thinkers to lead a group discussion or two. As you can tell I a would be all in on this conference because it would probably result in some prison time afterward.
  • After each kidnapped theologian led discussion group send all the participants out for some solitary speculation concerning what it discussion would look like in their ministry contexts.
  • Come back together and discussion what we each thought out concerning our ministry contexts and learn from each other.
  • make some awesome meals together and do some fun outdoor activities together.

This is the conference I would like to find, or maybe create. So, anyone have access to a cabin and willing to kidnap Miroslav Volf or perhaps Kathryn Tanner (whose writing I am beginning to like a lot)?


I Love Our Friends

Last week we were on vacation and while we were gone our cat got out of the house. She has been missing for at least a week now (we’re not entirely sure of when she got out of the house) and Pam, Noah, Adam, and I have searched and done every trick we can think of to find her. The good news from Pam and my constant search of the internet concerning finding a lost cat is that there is a great deal of hope that we will be able to find our cat even up to a couple of months after the fact. So we continue to search (Pam most of all). This post isn’t about the cat, though if you see in our neighborhood a long hair black cat with a white spot on her chest I would appreciate you letting us know. Nope this post is about our friends.

A few days ago Pam and I were searching through one of our neighbor’s yard when I looked up and saw Mark & Julienna walking through our neighborhood. This didn’t make sense because they don’t live by us. So I shouted out to them and asked what was up. Their response was that it was a pretty day so they thought they would go for a walk and why not look for the cat while walking, so they came to our neighborhood. Cue Pam’s tears.

Then the next day I start getting messages from Kate that I couldn’t read because I am busy at the moment. When I got a chance to read them I quickly notice pictures of spots in our backyard and the woods behind our house. I read the messages and discovered that Kate had taken it upon herself to go into the woods behind our house and search for the cat. Freaked Noah out when he realized there was someone in our backyard until he realized it was Kate. Then he was just confused. Cue more tears from Pam.

While in Marshfield today I got a text message from Natalie saying she was organizing a mass hunt for “Kitty Girl” this Sunday after church. She has already contacted people to get them to show up at our house after church. I’m not sure that Pam knows about this yet, but I am sure that when she does know there will be more tears.

Our friends are responding like this for a cat just because they know that this talkative black mass of shedding hair is important to us … actually she is VERY IMPORTANT TO PAM. I can’t adequately express how much these actions mean to me. You are showing love for my family and that makes me love you guys all the more. Y’all are amazing and I am honored to be your friend. I hope I give as much to you as you do to my family and me.

Cue my tears.


Don’t Weld in Shorts

So this week I passed the half-way point in allowable funds of my bet concerning Fred the Sentra. As a reminder, I have an ongoing bet with Eric concerning whether or not I can get my 1991 Sentra in good enough shape that Pam will not be embarrassed to ride in it for less than $1,000.  I’ve been VERY slowly working on it.  Since Pam has been gone this week and it is Terrell family No TV Month I have been going out into the garage each night and doing Bondo work on the Sentra, sanding, treating, and patching some of the rust holes that have been a part of Fred since I bought her.  I sent Pam photos of the work that I had done on Fred and to quote her, the Sentra has improved in looks from “utterly humiliating” to “merely embarrassing.” This is a huge step forward. I’m feeling pretty good about my chances of winning the bet.

Of course, I am also on the downhill slid of my $1,000 spending limit. I have to replace the rear struts and their cost has brought my remaining funds down to $489 left to spend within the bet. I think this is still very doable. The struts and a new muffler have been purchased, so those funds have been accounted for and I will install them when we get back from Alabama. This will just leave repairing the rocker panels, a little more Bondo work, and painting this car. This means I will have to learn how to paint a car. If anyone wants to teach me I am available to be your student.

Part of working on Fred has been teaching myself how to do various things, such as, minor welding. My welds aren’t the prettiest but they hold two pieces together, and with a grinder I can get rid all the spare slag that is all over my welds. I thought I had taught myself to be safe when welding but apparently I forgot part of that today. I was welding on part of a door latch and completely forgot that you shouldn’t use a MIG welder (which splatters a lot) when you are wearing shorts. It only took me being hit by TWO molten pieces of slag to remember that I should have changed into pants. So I did and then I went back to welding. It only took TWO more molten pieces of slag for me to remember that you should also wear boots instead of old running shoes when you weld. Thankfully there was not real damage to me or the shoes.

As for now I have talked with a friend about some spare sheet metal for fixing the rocker panels (that means FREE). Of course, I need to find a sand/media blaster to use to remove the rust from the corroded remains of the previous rocker panels. If you have a sand/media blaster that you would loan me I would greatly appreciate it.



I’m presently reading “A Public Faith” by Miroslav Volf. One of the things that I love about being married to Pam is that every now and then she will stop from what she is reading and say “I have to tell you this,” and then start quoting from something she is reading that she thought was great. Part of why I like this is because it means I get to do the same thing to her. :)

So two nights ago I was reading from “A Public Faith” and Volf quoted Jurgen Moltmann. Here’s what he said:

Christian faith adds another layer to this everyday usage of “hope.” In Theology of Hope Jurgen Moltmann famously distinguishes between hope and optimism. Both have to do with positive expectation, and yet the two are very different. Optimism has to do with good things in the future that are latent in the past and the present; the future associated with optimism – Moltmann calls it futurum – is an unfolding of what is already there. We survey the past and the present, extrapolate about what is likely to happen in the future, and, if the prospects are good, become optimistic. Hope, on the other hand, has to do with good things in the future that come to us from “outside,” from God; the future associated with hope – Moltmann calls it adventus – is a gift of something new. We hear the word of the divine promise, and because God is love we trust in God’s faithfulness. God the brings about “a new thing” aged Sarah, barren of womb, gives birth to a son (Gen. 21:1-2; Rom. 4:18-21); the crucified Jesus Christ is raised from the dead (Acts 2:22-36); a mighty Babylon falls and a new Jerusalem comes down from heaven (Rev. 18:1-24; 21:1-5); more generally, the good that seemed impossible becomes not just possible but real.

Yes, I know it is a long quote but that’s not the point (and besides it is really good, long quote). The point is that my awesome wife automatically recognized that Volf, a theologian that I love, was quoting from Moltmann, a hugely influential theologian in my life, and immediately responded with “THEOLOGY-CEPTION!”

I love this woman.

SIDE NOTE – as a former youth minister who was heavily involved in the early Contemporary Christian Music scene I am now convinced that DC Talk’s song “Nu Thang” wasn’t just a cheesy, early Christian hip-hop song but also a cheesy, early Christian hip-hop song that was also an exploration of Moltmann’s definition of hope. Who knew DC Talk was so deep. :)

SIDE SIDE NOTE – to use an old church cliche concerning Volf’s description of what Moltmann said, “that’ll preach.” How often do those of us who are followers of Christian act more off of optimism (futurum) rather than hope (adventus). to pray for God to merely help us doing something nice, rather than make the impossible reality?


Nerd vs Hipster

I was listening to NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour’s episode “Live From San Diego Comic-Con” and heard a great description of the difference between a nerd and a hipster. This is important at Comic-Con because Nerd Culture has gained a coolness to it that makes people who are just more concerned with being hip claim to actually be nerds.  The whole episode is worth a listen but I would like to share their description of the main difference between a nerd and a hipster.

A NERD is passionate about something and sharing what they are passionate about is part of the enjoyment of the subject they love.

A HIPSTER is passionate about something and they define themselves through the exclusivity and hidden nature of what they are passionate about.

In other words, nerds evangelize concerning what they love and hipsters focus on what the exclusivity of what they “love” defining them as better than others. (i.e. why hipsters move on to something even more exclusive once what they were passionate about becomes mainstream).

I could see how this could relate to lots of things in life, including faith. I think I would rather be a nerd than a hipster.

Pricing Gorilla Costumes

Just did the initial registration for the first youth ministry conference that Tapestry will be involved in. I’m pretty excited about the thought of the “holy foolishness” we will get to be involved in (I’m not sure where I first heard the term “holy foolishness” – probably Mike Yaconelli – all I know is that I like the term, because it refers to good, clean oddity in the midst of the challenge of Christ). I just priced gorilla costumes on eBay. Why? Well, because what fun is a youth ministry conference without a gorilla costume? I already have an Elvis costume that I will loan out to one of the youth.

I’m already excited about the thought of complete randomness and life challenging depth.

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Pam Was Right … As Usual

One of the things that Terrell No TV month means is that we take up household projects that we have been trying to avoid. For me that involves work in the backyard. I enjoy cutting grass, but for some reason I don’t enjoy landscaping and other yard work. Our backyard is connected to a local school forest and therefore we thought it was too shady for grass to grow. So all I thought I would have to do in it was build a fence for the basset hounds to be able to roam around within. 4 years ago I built a “temporary” fence out of snow fence and said I would build a nice wooden picket fence to replace it soon. “Temporary” has a wide meaning for me when it comes to some things. For building a fence “temporary” incrementally equaled a gate and a few 8′ panels of pickets three years ago and then the majority of the remaining panels 2 years ago. Unfortunately I stopped with the two hardest sections and let them stay that way. I just left the snow fencing there because no one really saw those sections unless they were looking for it. Or at least that is what I told myself. That changed when Pam came up with the great idea of talking to our county agent and discovered that we can actually grow grass in our backyard.

So last weekend we started the great backyard project. We picked tons of stuff out of our backyard, sprayed the rest with Round Up, tilled the space, fertilized everything, and finally spread seed everywhere (which has visible sprouts as of today). Working that much in the backyard and trying to grow a lawn made me think that it might be nice to have a convenient way to get my lawnmower into the backyard. I realized I should finish the picket fence. It was finished today. Two gates installed and lots of pickets hand installed in place (these sections were too abnormal for 8′ picket panels).

This left me with two things I needed to get take care of to finish the job.

  1. Get rid of the 150ish feet of snow fence that I originally bought last year.
  2. Clean up, which included removing 35ish one foot sections of what I thought was treated (I later discovered they were cedar rather than treated) picket ends.

I thought it would be pretty easy to get rid of the snow fence on Craigslist. Here is the ad for it.

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I bought 150ish feet of snow fence to create a temporary fence for my dogs in our bakyard. “Temporary” is a relative term being as I took my sweet time building the wooden picket pence that now keeps my basset hounds in the back yard barking at deer that run through the forest behind our home. 

The good news is that the snow fence has now finished its “temporary” job and is ready for another use. Perhaps you need some “temporary” fence to hold a creature, such as your husband, who isn’t house trained and you need a way to release him into the backyard to relieve himself without fear that he will see a squirrel and run away forever. I’m not here to judge. I’m here to provide you with 150ish feet of snow fencing for you and your spouse to use as you please. As long you are using it for something legal you are welcome to it. If you want to use it for something illegal … well just don’t tell me about it.

This “temporary” snow fence is yours for free … REALLY IT IS FREE … okay if you want to buy me a cup of coffee that would be fine. I prefer the house blend at Emy J’s in Stevens Point.

I was sure the snow fence would go fast, which it did. I wasn’t as sure what to do with the 35ish one foot sections of what I thought was treated wood. You aren’t supposed to burn treated wood and these pieces were too small for anything that I would do with them. So I piled them up and went to throw them in the trash, walking right past Pam. Which is why she asked “what are you doing?” I told her and see said I shouldn’t throw them away, but instead post them on Craigslist. I was dumbfounded. Nobody would use these things and definitely no one would look for them on Craigslist. So I told her that. She said Pinterest had changed everything and people looked for junk like this on Craigslist now.

I hate Pinterest.

Actually I don’t hate Pinterest, but I do definitely have some strong, and mixed, feelings about the stupid website.  Anyhow I thought I would prove to her that she was wrong and I posted the following Craigslist post.


I have around 35 one foot long end remnants from treated fence pickets. Since they are treated they aren’t supposed to be burned, yet I feel stupid just throwing them in the trash for them to end up in a landfill. My wife is convinced that Pinterest has changed the world and therefore some creative person might want these things and be able to turn them into something beautiful. Like a plank sided house for injured squirrels or crazed turkeys. I, on the other hand, think they are just scrap. I kind of sound like a grumpy old man right now, but that isn’t usually the case on Saturday evenings (just Monday mornings – HEY! KID GET OFF MY LAWN).

So how about one of you creative types prove my wife right and me wrong and message me about getting these scraps before our trash pick up happens Tuesday. All I ask is that you send me a photo of what you have made with this stuff.

I received my first inquiry about the the stupid pieces of scrap wood 35 minutes after I had posted concerning them. I should never doubt Pam.

I Guess I’ll Start Blogging Again

Actually I never really stopped blogging. I just haven’t blogged in the past month, which is a long time for me to not write something. The problem has been that every thing that I have wanted to blog about was a bigger issue that would require me to think a decent amount and then write a correspondingly decent amount. That’s fine and dandy, but I figure Pam, my parents, and I are the only ones who read this blog, and I don’t think any of us want to read many of my longer thoughts. At least I know I don’t. So I would see or hear something and think “Oh I should blog about that” and then decided that it would take too long and I could find something better to do. The blogging equivalent of my bassets seeing a squirrel.

I’ll give you an example of the subjects I have been thinking about. I have been scouring craigslist looking for a “new to us” car for Adam or Noah (or me if I could find a nice Volvo 240 wagon which I have become fascinated with). Two things have been humorous to me in my searches.

1. The people who list all the money they have spent repairing their car as justification for asking more than market value for the vehicle. They usually say in their post something like, “I just want to get my money back,” Huh? Why should I pay extra for your car so you can get your money back? The market is the market.

2. The people who have extreme misunderstandings of the value of their vehicles. I read one post where a person bought a 2003 Dodge Grand Caravan for $4,000 two months prior and then had a bad head on collision and thought their vehicle was now worth $3,200 because they were pretty sure you could get the parts necessary to fix the vehicle at a junk yard for $500. The person stressed that “low ballers” shouldn’t reply. What a deal.

Any how, both such instances have lead to some fun conversations with Pam concerning how we value our things and ourselves. Basically people tend to be the heroes or our own stories and therefore think better of ourselves and our possessions than we probably ought too. Like I said earlier, too big of a subject for me to want to regularly blog about.

It is once again Terrell No TV month, which doesn’t really mean just no TV as much as it does a lessening of our reliance upon electronics (TV, media, computers, etc.). Therefore, I thought I would focus on blogging more this month – yes blogging involves a computer, but creative endeavors are encouraged during No TV month. So I guess I’ll try to write something, big or small, most of the days of August. We’ll see what happens.

My Thoughts & Ravings As I Try To Follow CHRIST

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