the questions, observations, laments, psalms, classic anecdotes, prayers, & stories of jeremiah aja. enjoy it like a sweaty plastic cup filled with strawberry lemonade & crushed ice.

Friday, January 30, 2009

i love stories

A new project launched at the beginning of this year called Deidox.

Dei = Means “God” in Latin
Dox = Documentary films

Here is some info from their website:
"Do you believe that God is still actively engaged with the world? Do you think He is continually making Himself known? Every day new stories of God’s redemptive and transforming work in and through His people are appearing around the world. But these stories often go untold, their ability to teach and inform lost forever. Deidox brings these compelling stories to life through short documentary films."
The goal of Deidox is to use the films to teach within ministry contexts, to spark conversation amongst friends, and to "highlight and support organizations that are demonstrating God’s love on a daily basis."
I just downloaded the film, "Lindsay" (LOVE the title). Looking forward to watching it after this paper is finally done. The trailers look very good in their cinematography and quality. It's always so great to see people do great quality work, beautiful work, in revealing the Kingdom of God.

Go check these films out and use them to unfurl the grand story of God in all of our lives even today.

from wilmore, with Love.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

confessions, part 2

I have participated in an unique and absurd tradition for over 20 years. My brother and I both actually. There may have been just one time when I forgot to "do" this in all of the past 20 years. Other than that, I haven't missed one time. That's quite the statement, especially after you read what the tradition is. I suppose the origin is a good place to start with this one, rather than just coming out with it, beginning in some kind of shock-value fashion. Otherwise I just sound like a really odd guy with an even more odd mental condition.
When I was around 9 or 10 years old going out to eat at "sit-down" restaurants was quite the treat. "Sit-down" places such as Bennigan's, Tia's, Pancho's, The Alamo, Pizza Hut, or many of the Reno, NV casino buffets is what I'm talking about, not the "white tablecloth" status places. We didn't do this too often when I was especially young, so whenever we did, I remember being pretty excited.
On one occasion as the dining experience came to an end, we all got up to leave. My brother, 7 or 8 years old at the time wiped his mouth with the napkin, waded it up in his hands, threw it down on the table, and remarked quite loudly, "I've HAD IT with this place!" as if to say that the restaurant had greatly displeased him, and he, a 7 year old boy weighing 60 pounds, was leaving in utter disgust.
I don't know where he got this, truly I don't. We both thought it was one of the most hilarious things one can ever say in an eating establishment. Since then, even to this day, at the end of every meal at a sit-down place, I have continued this. I love it- a lot.
Over the years my mom got accustomed to it, but she used to get pretty upset about it, especially if we got a bit loud. She would say, "You might make people think you guys are begin serious!" But who trusts the culinary judgment of a 10 year old when they ordered the cheeseburger, with no tomatoes or lettuce, and the dinosaur chicken pieces?

Since childhood, here are the revised "stipulations" that I go by:
- there must be a server/waiter involved in the meal to whom you tip on the bill
- when everyone enjoying the meal is ready to leave, I stand up, take one last sip of my drink, use my napkin to wipe each side of my mouth, crumple it up, throw it down on the table, and exclaim, "I've HAD IT with this place." Then, leave the table with complete satisfaction.
- I have since added this too- the louder I say it, the more disgusted I look, the more it might be believable, the better the eating experience was. For example, Applebees on a friday night - though nominally tasty, not too much of a fuss is made, and I might say it under my breath. Sushi Main Street in Half Moon Bay, CA with the Lawsons or Melting Pot with the Schrutes - very animated, loud projection, and quite awkward.

This is why for years, I am always last to meet to grab the Starlight mint or toothpick after the meal has concluded. I will be last out of the exit door, at least 8 steps behind everyone.

Confession #2- I participate in, and have for almost 20 years, an absurd dining routine. It is childish and ridiculous. But that will not keep me from teaching it to Annabella.

from wilmore, with Love.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Twitter + Ministry + Community = ?

Just last week a new E-book has been released by Anthony Coppedge called The Reason Your Church Must Twitter. Coppedge is a pastor, blogger, writer, speaker, and according to his Twitter profile page a "Pastor to the Digital Culture." Check out the book's website here for more info. Twitter, the powerful social networking tool has been reported to have growth of 752% in 2008 and now has over 4.4 million unique visitors- this article here can tell you more of the remarkable growth. With the uncanny ability to enhance relational connections (and by no means replace face to face interaction) and grow a mindfulness towards those within your community, could Twitter be valuable tool for the Kingdom of Heaven in the 21st century context?

from wilmore, with Love.

confessions, part 1

I have named my journal. Further, I have named my last four journals. They have all had the same name. Butkus.
Allow me explain.
I keep a journal with me everywhere I go. Very rare is a time when it is not in my back pocket or in my front coat pocket in winter. I think outside of bathing, sleeping, and walking Jax, it is always within an arm's reach. For the last 2 years most every idea, sermon note, meeting to-dos, & quote that has come through my head has gone into one of these treasure troves. Where I go, Butkus goes.

Change tracks here.

My favorite movie of all time is Rocky, the 1976 original. Beginning in this film and most of the next 5 sequels (*sigh*) a dog is always with Rocky as he trains in the gym, runs, and lounges at home. This dog's name was Butkus- a true sidekick.

On the back of all of them I have placed a picture of Butkus. One time I got carried away on the size. The "canine" inspiration came from a friend that introduced me to the only kind of journals I will ever buy again. Moleskines. He had referred to his as the "Lil dog" as it too was with him everywhere he went. The bigger size cahiers that he owned were referred to as "Big Dogs." I suppose I took it a step further. You can see a story about that relationship over at Asbury's Web Parish.
B-1 through B-4 = Butkus #1 through Butus #4...this is used for the slightly psychotic archive system I am trying to keep. That's for another time of confession.

Confession #1- I have named, and will always name, my journal. My journal's name is Butkus.

from wilmore, with Love.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

doing and being

Within moments of the "first impression" conversation we stumble into familiar territory and ask "So, what do you do?" Happens all the time. That or a comment on the weather in the past week or maybe what you've heard it's going to be like.
As discussed in my Ethics class yesterday, here's something worth mentioning- If you are a full time student and also put in about 30 hours a week over at the Wal-Mart and someone asks you, "Hey, so whattya do?" What's the answer every time?
Right. "I'm a student." Why? Quite frankly, because you don't want to say "I'm a Wal Mart worker."
But why? Because it's embarrassing to say one over the other? Because one is *seemingly* higher on the socioeconomic ladder of prestige? Because you don't want someone to think less of who "you are" because you think what you DO is who you are?
(Bingo in the sense of yep, that's it, but at the same time - EEGGHH! -Family Feud style.)

What you do is not who you are.

Your identity is not completely wrapped up in what you do. It is a horrific trap to think you have to DO in order to BE.

The Scriptures read multiple times "Be holy, for I am holy." The word we focus on in that command is what? Holy. And because we think we get to "holy" by simply DOING a bunch of stuff, we get all wrapped up and tangled in a holiness treadmill headed nowhere at 7.5 mph. We get worn out, complain that being holy is impossible, and wonder why God would call us to something like that. And it's painfully flawed from the very beginning. One definition of holy is "being set apart." Notice there is no verbs of action there. Just one huge stative one- BE.

Don't focus on HOLY. Focus on BE.

Be loved and be loving.
That's it. Those are the commands. Everything in the Law and Prophets hangs on them, as Jesus said in the greatest sermon of all time.
Everything else flows out of these two realities, being loved by God and being loving towards Him and others. Focus on being and live. Focus on doing and die. Allow your being to drive your doing and not the other way around. Don't believe one of the biggest deceptions - "do in order to be."
Believe that you ARE because of what Jesus DID.

from wilmore, with Love.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

faith and beauty making love

Some big claims here. Still stacking and sorting them all out, but this is what has come out so far...

Faith is at the heart of beauty.
Unless rooted in the existence of something bigger than ourselves, something supernatural, there is no reason for beauty. Without God, beauty would be a waste of time, pointless. Faith is at the very core of beauty, true beauty.

God uses images of beauty to speak of our faith in Him. Perhaps because beauty is something all of us, as His creation, respond to. I read somewhere that Someone spoke of the flowers of the field and the birds of the sky to teach about worrying. Those images are still sticking with me.

Two days ago, this canvas was my “Good morning, my child.” As I took out our dog, Jax, early in the morning, it brought me to a breathless standstill.

Later in the day, my eyes read these lines:
(Isaiah 62:1)
For Zion's sake I will not keep silent,
for Jerusalem's sake I will not remain quiet,
till her vindication shines out like the dawn,
her salvation like a blazing torch.

When the sacred intersection of my faith and His beauty meet, a deeper love for our Creator is birthed within me, and hopefully those around me. God, the author of all beauty, is love. Is. Not was. Not will be. Is. How great is the love [and the beauty] that the Father has lavished on us.

from wilmore, with Love.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I have a problem

It happens so often and I just need to come out with it so that I can be called on it if/when I do it again. Here goes. It's a bit lengthy to explain. Try and follow me here:

Anytime someone aggressively recommends a movie to me,
even loans it to me for an indefinite period of time for me to watch it,
I happen to wholehearted trust their aesthetic judgment
their longstanding record of liking some really cool stuff...

I don't watch it for at least a month, maybe even two months.
I hate myself for waiting that long because the movie was INCREDIBLE and I deprived myself of immense enjoyment for 6-8 weeks.

It happened again with this one, oh man did it happen -
Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing and Charm School
I know, from the title of it, you may want to wait that long too. Don't. Netflix/Blockbuster it immediately. I will give you this in advance, "You're welcome."

- It paints a beautiful picture of redemption like I haven't seen in a very long time. Beautifully written, beautifully shot. Amazing story.

from wilmore, with Love.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

not 1, but 2

For the 08-09 school year I have been fortunate to be a part of a team of people collaborating to design and direct the worship of Asbury- both on campus in Thrillmore and beyond. Weekly we go around the table during our meal/meeting and give a number from 1-10 on what our "peace" and "chaos" was for the week, 1 being lowest, 10 being highest. Chad, my blogging sensei and our team leader reflects about this back in Nov and even just a few days ago-

"I quit allowing a stressful and busy schedule to identify who I am and to affect the amount of peace that I carry with me. That taught me to slow down when there wasn't the time too, and also to learn to relax very well when I had the time."

I too, have violently crashed into a life-giving epiphany in the past few months. And now, months later, here it is - Peace and chaos are two completely independent realities. Two streams, not mutually exclusive. One doesn't depend on the other- because there is peace, there can't be chaos and the converse- because of chaos there cannot be peace.

Before this, I had looked at life and all its events as just one stream with a mixture of peace and chaos- chaotic waters and peaceful waters. Or if you prefer a more colorful visual, I had looked at life as partly iced tea and partly lemonade, making the result always a mix of the two. During peaceful times it tasted more like lemonade, in stressful times, more like iced tea. Depending on which was one more (or higher on the scale) dictated the amount of peace I could have.
Very wrong.

In the midst of chaos, and I mean right in the thick of it, we are still able to have peace. I had thought they were completely connected, intertwined and dependent.

They don't need to be, and even shouldn't be.
We can read a story in Scripture of a man who is thrown into the living room of some lions. As he is untouched by the beasts- peace in spite of chaos. Or how about, the two men beaten and locked up in a dungeon, shackled, yet signing hymns - peace, pointing and laughing in the face of chaos. And of course, you knew I was heading there, a certain Someone asleep as the storm rages on the sea-
peace, completely unaffected by the chaos all around Him.

Peace is not the absence of chaos, it is the freedom from it.

from wilmore, with Love.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

this is a joke right?

Sadly, it looks like it isn't- the US porn industry is asking for a 5 billion dollar bailout.


On an Jan 7th article from CNN, Larry Flint, publisher of Hustler Magazine (no I am not putting a link to that in here) is quoted as saying--->
"People are too depressed to be sexually active...This is very unhealthy as a nation. Americans can do without cars and such but they cannot do without sex. With all this economic misery and people losing all that money, sex is the farthest thing from their mind. It's time for congress to rejuvenate the sexual appetite of America. The only way they can do this is by supporting the adult industry and doing it quickly."

Wow, as Americans we are looking for Congress to set our moral compasses and our sexual ones as well. "For the love!" as I've heard round these parts (thanks to JB).

It gets even more absurd when both Flynt and the CEO of Girls Gone Wild, Joe Francis, admit that web traffic has continued to grow and that the industry is in no financial danger!

*Insert hours and hours worth of conversational writing of all the reasons why this is completely ridiculous*

I wonder if I should write my KY congressman to ask for a student loan bailout for me and some friends?

from wilmore, with Love.