Category Archives: smu
I’ve been a bit frantic lately. I offer that as a confession in need of repentance, not a badge of honor. I’ve known for a while that October would be an insane month, though I’m not sure I realized just how much it would bleed into September. For the past couple days I’ve been wanting to write a blog post but my creative juices are all either dried up or otherwise spoken for. So, since someone just asked me where I’ve been lately, I thought I’d share.
What I’m working on:
- Writing the final chapters (rough draft) of my doctoral project – I have about 80 pages to turn in by October 17.
- Finishing the final touches on the website/online learning portal for The Academy.
- Getting ready to go to Alaska October 10-17.
- Preparing for the Orientation to Online Learning course I’ll be teaching as part of The Academy’s Spiritual Life Retreats October 10-11 (Alaska) and October 27-29 (Texas).
- Making sure everything is ready for The Missional Imagination course I’ll be teaching starting October 31.
- Trying not to neglect my family or The Gathering.
What I’m reading:
- Lots…including Randy Harris’ Soul Work: Confessions of a Part-Time Monk. Written by the only man in the world who can wear only one color and still not match.
What I’m trying not to spend too much time thinking about:
- Lots…including anxiety producing stuff like finances and sustainability as well as excitement producing stuff like a book idea which has finally taken root.
What I’d like to write about here when I get a minute:
- Some thoughts about why the missional orientation is so hard…and why we shouldn’t necessarily beat ourselves up about that.
- The timing of moving conversations from grace into holiness – (hint: we tend to either move the other direction or just get stuck in one or the other)
What I really have to complain about:
- Absolutely nothing.
- The most patient and supportive wife I could never have imagined.
- Three boys who remind me daily of the value of playing together.
- Family members that go out of their way to encourage me and pull me back from the brink of foolish busyness.
- Friends who continue to check in on me even though I’m horrible about remembering to do the same.
- A professor who honors me with friendship and collegiality, though I’m increasingly certain I deserve neither.
- The profound blessing of being able to read, write and study…even if I do finally have a case of senioritis.
- A growing appreciation for the God who is constantly at work in, around and utterly beyond me.
- Regular opportunities to trust in God’s provision…and witness the faithfulness of the One in Whom I Trust.
- Continual opportunities to learn humility…usually through humiliation (which means I still have a long way to go.)
A narrative has several characteristics. It comprises a story that is moving somewhere; it gives a social group a story that tells where it is going and what the group will look like when it arrives. There is purpose and quest within the narrative calling a group in a specific direction and toward a particular goal…Because narrative creates and sustains social community, it’s the glue, the atmosphere of all social life. The key to innovating missional community is formation of a people within a specific memory and narrative. – The Missional Leader, 70-71.
I love that first bit – it comprises a story that is moving somewhere. I remember as a grad student at ACU and while preaching in New Orleans I was a part of several discussions about “narrative preaching.” There are a number of folks who have a low view of the idea because they see it as “watered down.” I was convinced then and remain so that this is primarily due to 1) bad examples of the narrative style and 2) misperceptions of the purpose and function.
I really like my boys’ names. I know, I better, right? But really, I do. Each of their names are significant and meaningful. All of our boys carry the Wells family name, which of course I was proud to pass on to them, but that isn’t the extent of it.
Conner is Rachel’s mother’s maiden name. With the recent passing of MeeMaw and PeePaw – people who were not only formative in the lives of Rachel and her family, but also in my own life and that of our boys – I am so proud that my oldest son will carry their mark in a special way for the rest of his life. His middle name, Allan, is my middle name as well. Its strange, I didn’t like that name as a kid, but now I feel much differently about it.
Micah was a great prophet and I have always loved the passage in Micah 6:8
“ He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
This was made all the more important to us when we learned that it was PeePaw’s favorite verse as well. Micah’s middle name, Eason, is my mother’s maiden name. I think its pretty cool that our boys have imbedded in their identity a reminder that all families are examples of God’s reconciling work of uniting people who were previously strangers.
Josiah was a good king…I hope that our little assassin will also use his powers for good! In Israel’s history there are very kings that come across well in Scripture and Josiah was one of them. I hope that my son, a child of the king, will follow in the footsteps of his namesake (except for the ill-advised battle against the Egyptian army…). His middle name, Christopher, is also my little brother’s middle name – a name which I had the honor of choosing for Adam too. (Actually I think it was more my stubborn insistence and a mother’s relenting, but that’s another story!)
Naming has always carried great significance – both relationally and often prophetically. Today in class we watched a movie – The Secret Life of Bees – and there is a powerful scene where a community bestows a new name on a young lady who has experienced a long and difficult journey toward healing and redemption. The naming not only signifies new life and a new chapter in her story, but it also communicates her acceptance into the community…into the family.
Look at the number of times in Scripture that God gives someone a new name – Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, Saul to Paul just to name some of the big ones. In each case this is about more than just a new driver’s license. Rachel took my name when we were married, signifying that no longer did we represent two separate clans, but were now one family. This name she accepted as her own was one that was offered to me when my own Dad adopted me into his family. None of these situations were insignificant.
The giving or changing of a name is a change of life. It is new life. And that is part of what makes community so powerful. Even if we don’t legally change someone’s name, a commitment to devoted community bestows new identity. When we choose to throw in our lot with a people something significant occurs. In our society it is all too common to devalue this incredibly sacred decision. Abba Antony said, “Wherever you find yourself, do not easily leave there.” I believe that it is time for us to reclaim the value of stability and choosing to remain connected to a community, to embrace and live into our name.
As a society we are lonely and scurry around busily searching for meaning and significance. If we will slow down and invest in the people around us we may find that God has been waiting to use those broken and flawed people to teach us precisely what we’ve been searching for.