Sunday, April 29, 2007

One Step Closer

Saturday was a good day. We started with a staff meeting at 8am. The meeting was supposed to be 2 hours long, but I went over. There is just a ton of catching up to do. The staff has been wonderful in my absence.

Then--thanks to Roger Allman, Larry McKinney, Adam Kneisley, Jeff Miller, Jim Garbe, Rich, Richard, and Josh Rairiegh--we emptied my rented storage units of their last bits and pieces. It only rained while we were moving the grandfather clock and the china cabinet. Great timing.

After that we all went to Bellacino's and enjoyed some great pizza together.

Now it's Sunday morning and I'm getting ready to preach. It looks like it will be a wonderful day.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Leaving for the JC in the TN

Yesterday was a good one. We got to hear from Dr. Virgina Bowles. She teaches voice at Asbury College. She tried to whip my poor use of voice into shape. Her personal instruction to me came in front of the whole class. My classmates thought I was HILARIOUS (they were laughing AT me, not WITH me). I spent the rest of the day trying to talk through my "mask." Relearning how to talk is going to be a long task, but one that I have to attempt. I hope to add a picture of the in-class attempt by Dr. Bowles to help me, but I haven't uploaded it to my computer yet.

In the meantime, I'm getting ready to head down to Johnson City because I'll be preaching at Grandview this weekend. This time it feels special because I'm almost home for good. Anna will be coming with me, so I'm looking forward to quality time with her. The rest of the family will be staying behind due to Meghan's track and band events this weekend.

I'll be preaching on the story of Abraham and Sarah (actually, Abram and Sarai) from Genesis 12. I'm struck in that text by how little God told Abraham.

I wrote the pastoral prayer this morning and thought . . . shoot . . . why not put it on the blog. If you're going to be at Grandview on Sunday you can print it off and follow along! I haven't proofed it yet, but that's the joy of having a blog. It's not about the finished product.

Pastoral Prayer for Grandview, April 29, 2007:

O God, the fear of Isaac, the lover of our souls, the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus of Nazareth; before you we gather. To your feet we bring our respect, our honor, our hopes, and our dreams of being all that you created us to be. You have given us flesh and blood, hearts and minds, mothers and fathers, and sisters and brothers in the church—the body of Christ.

You have called our spiritual ancestors, blessed them, and allowed them to a blessing to us—and to all people. We praise you for Abraham and Sarah, for their willingness to leave their home, to leave their country, to leave their family, to wander in places they knew not, to trust you while wars raged, while wombs were barren, while sacrificing to you every gain with which you blessed them. Their faithfulness has been instrumental in our coming to know you. Their faithfulness and yours spawned the nation that wrestled with you and what it meant to know you and what it meant to be used for your purposes. For the deep, rich soil of that nation which gave birth to Jesus, we give you thanks, O Lord.

We confess, as individuals and as one body, that we have been slow to respond to your call; that we have relied upon the faithfulness of Abraham and Sarah, of Miriam and Moses, of Mary and Joseph; upon the faithfulness of the Apostles Peter and John, Mary Magdalene and Paul, upon the faithfulness of our mothers and fathers; all while going about our business carelessly, without offering ourselves as fully to you as they did—and as they taught us.

God we confess that despite the richness and fullness of your blessing upon us, we have too often decided to horde that blessing, to secure it for our own gain and our own hope. But how can we do that? Your blessing is so rich, so full, so beyond our ability to measure that we can be reckless—even silly—in letting that blessing spill over the brim of our little lives and into a world in need of love, grace, food, and peace.

And so, we rededicate ourselves to having confidence in the one who protected Abraham in crisis, the one who made Sarah’s womb alive, the one created and sustained an entire nation in the wilderness, the one made Mary’s womb alive, the one who came to earth in the flesh and feared nothing—not even death. You are the breath of life, O God. Breathe into us nonstop.

Breathe life into our fears and concerns that we have today for the people we love. Heal our sick. You can do it. Comfort those of us who grieve. You can do it. Strengthen the weak, protect those in harm’s way, give a peaceful death to the dying, and fill each weary heart with joy and eagerness. You have done it so many times, we trust you to do it again.

We remember those who are dear to us in the silence: (silence)

Lord, many of us prayed in the silence for people we love but we forgot to bless our enemies. In the silence we now pray that you would bless, not curse, our enemies who we remember (sometimes with great pain) before you. If it be your will, show us how we have cursed our enemies and how we can become a blessing (more silence).

Lord's Prayer.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

An Evening at the Track (or, Understanding Band Parents)

Last night I really enjoyed being an official timer for Meghan's track meet. Spending a little time around the West Jessamine Track team has been an eye-opener for me. I finally understand things like band parents. Band parents have always been a mystery to me.

When I was in high school the band parents were ubiquitous. They were crawling around the Pike High School band like evangelists on airplanes. When we marched in a parade in Hawaii there were band parents who were kind enough to walk alongside me during my four-mile-trombone-hike. They walked with us in order to spritz us with water to keep us from overheating (it was hot and we were in our Indiana wools--seriously, two horses DIED during the parade). I appreciated the spritzing, but I couldn't imagine why these parents would be so into the band. I was only doing it for the trip to Hawaii.

But this year has taught me a thing or two. I understand now. When I walk back into a track meet I am flooded with fond memories of running track in middle school and high school. When I see the kids running, even the slow ones, I can't help but pull for each of them. For some reason winning isn't the point, just doing your best and finishing strong (maybe that's because I didn't win a lot of races!).

I find myself wanting to help make the the track meet go well. Need some hurdles moved? I'm your man. Need somebody to run to the other side of the track and pick up starting blocks left in lane three? No problem. Happy to do it.

It all makes sense now. I'm a track nerd.

Enough about me--let's talk about Meghan. I took my hand off the stopwatch long enough to snap a couple pictures of Meghan as she prepared to race last night. She did a great job.

Here she is preparing for her leg of the 4X100 relay. She was the lead-off runner.
Here she is wondering why I don't put the camera away and get back to timing.Here she is trying to get away from me.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Church Reports: Day 2

It was our last day with Jack Connell. He came back for the two days of church reports and then, after class, he vanished again into the great north chill. But, as you can tell from the above picture, he gave Gordon a good "talkin' to" before he left.
Trav Wilson reported on The Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City. This is a large Methodist church that was planted by Adam Hamilton, who is obviously respected in the denomination.
Scott Layer reported on Christ's Church in the Hickory, North Carolina area. This is a Methodist church with a Beeson graduate as their minister. They are now a three-site church.
Gordon Griffin reported on Grace Fellowship in Katy, Texas. The minister of Grace Fellowship is Jim Leggett. Leggett spoke briefly with us when we visited Houston in January. His report on Grace Fellowship's prayer ministry was of special interest.
Nolan Donald reported on The Orchard Church in Tupelo, Mississippi. It's yet another United Methodist church plant with a Beeson pastor leading it.
Alicia Coltzer reported on St. John's United Methodist Church in Houston. This is a church we visited when we were in Houston. Rudy and Juanita Rasmus are the ministers there.
Bryan Bucher reported on Casas Adobes Church in Tucson, Arizona. He went there to study their transition process. This was a Southern Baptist church plant in the 1950s, but somewhere along the line their pastor, Roger Barrier, shed much of its Southern Baptist identity.

Excellent reports. It's great to get a chance to see first hand accounts of churches from all over the country and all over the spectrum.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Reporting on Mountain

Today and tomorrow are the days when everyone in the class reports on the site visits, courtesy of the Beeson program. We were all glad to see Jack Connell again.I was up first. I'll share with you a snippet of my report. The sound isn't good, but if you listen closely you'll be fine.

I'll also share my final presentation slide with you. This little digital is entitled "One Final Word." If you don't have time to watch it through to the end then I don't recommend you watch it (it's 47 seconds long).

I ended my report with that clip. After I was finished Jim Martin reported on Mosaic (it's in southern California); Jason McIntosh reported on the Brooklyn Tabernacle, Matt Scholl reported on Skyline Church (it's in San Diego), Kent Reynolds reported on Calvary Chapel in Fort Lauderdale, and Travis Muse reported on Joy Community Church and the Christ's Church of the Resurrection in the Phoenix area.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Breaking News!

I am pleased to announce that Cindy has been offered, and has accepted, the position of Assistant Registrar and Director of Testing at Milligan College. She will be working most closely with Sue Skidmore and Stacy Trammel (faithful readers of this blog . . . with exceptional memories . . . will remember that Stacy and her husband, Joel, bought our house when we left Johnson City for Wilmore.

Cindy and I are very pleased.

The pieces of our return are falling into place. We have been blessed.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Feeling Blogged Down

It just hasn't been a blogging kind of week. I've been busy and just haven't felt like blogging, but here is what's been on my mind:
  1. Was on my way back home when I heard of the shootings at Virginia Tech. My first thought was that I hoped Christopher Charleton was okay. I heard some of the things the shooter said on the video that he left behind at NBC. He actually said, "I die now like Jesus Christ." Someday I would like to talk to a health care professional about why crazy people are so attracted to the figure of Christ.
  2. One of the young women at Grandview, aged 25, had a major stroke this past week. The doctors still don't know why. She has a daughter who is about ten years old and an infant--and a good husband. She's doing well, considering. There are some vision and language issues attached to her stroke.
  3. I really appreciated my time at Mountain Christian Church. Their whole staff was forthcoming and gracious. I learn so much every time I visit another church and Mountain was no exception.
  4. I did more than learn about organizational leadership during my visit. I also got to reconnect with old friends. I got to see Tom Moen (who I haven't seen in about 13 years). Tom is the "Glocal Pastor" at Mountain Christian.
  5. I also got to hear Ethan and Besty's youngest son, Bryant, sing. If you know the Magness kids you'll want to watch this little video all the way to end. Bryant sings "Life Is a Highway."

  6. I got to see my friend, Nathan Reed. It has been too long since I've seen him. We got to have breakfast together and pray together.
  7. Also, here is a short video for those of you who know the Cachiaras'. When I had supper at their home, the boys kept me entertained and Ellie introduced me to her stuffed animals.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Back in Wilmore

My East Coast tour is over. I survived a late arriving Nor'easter that turned into a pretty nasty snow storm in the mountains of West Virginia.

I had a good visit with Mountain Christian Church and will give you a full accounting, of course, when I have time. Today, though, is flying at me pretty quickly. I'll be in class all day.

For now I will leave you with picture of Mountain's lobby.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Gentle Ben, the Mountain Man

I had a good day at Mountain Christian Church. Ben and the rest of the staff were very welcoming and gracious. I even got to meet Charles Cook, former senior minister at Mountain. I got to see Ethan Magness, briefly. Tonight I will have supper at the Magness household so we should be able to catch up then. He seems to be doing a wonderful job up here.This is Alex. Alex is like a conservative, American, Ethan Magness. I didn't get to see them interact, but I bet it's fun to watch. I hear they are both very bright and that the theological discussions are interesting.
The staff took me out to lunch (which was very nice). I had a fine crab cake sandwich. I don't know if I have all of the spellings correct, but at the table are Alex, Dennis, Kristal, Eric, Casey, and Cody. It was apparent to me that Ben has a good team in place.Last night I got to have supper with the entire Cachiaras family (excellent tacos!). Karla, Nathan, Ellie, and Andrew are all doing well. Things are good in Cachiarasland.

Here is Ben's video greeting to the people of Grandview:

Thanks, Ben.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Korean Folk Village

I'm writing from the Baltimore area. I arrived last night and will visit Mountain Christian Church today in an attempt to get an idea of how things operate here under Ben's leadership. I'm looking forward to spending some time with Ben, the Mountain staff, and with Ethan and Betsy Magness (this evening).

Meanwhile, I've still been trying to put together little reports on my trip to Korea. Today's video is just a quick look at the time we spent in the Korean Folk Village. The video is about 2 minutes long. I still need to write a post distilling my thoughts about the Korean Church and our time on Prayer Mountain. Maybe tonight?

Here's a picture I like that I took of Nolan and Susanna Donald.Below is a picture of a replica village. The pots would have been filled with cabbage and buried until they fermented (molded?) into Kimchi (don't know about the spelling).

That's all the pictures for now. Here's the video:

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sunday at Yoido Full Gospel Church

After leaving Kwanglim Methodist Church's Sunday morning worship service, and after a nice lunch at Kwanglim, we went across town to the Yoido Full Gospel Church. This church is famous for being the largest in the world. Pastor Cho used small groups to grow this church into a behemoth megachurch.

The service we attended is geared younger than the earlier services. The music, though, was reminiscent of 80s style.

This is a church that speaks in tongues. Interestingly (and I didn't get video of any of this), there are only certain times during the service when this is encouraged. When the leader signals it's okay, a wave of prayer rises up--like a wind. Then, when the time is over, the signal is given and everyone stops.

I offer this account with one caveat: I don't know for sure that they were speaking in tongues--they could have simply been praying out loud in their native tongue. I wouldn't have known the difference.

I enjoyed the experience of attending Yoido, although by the that time on Sunday afternoon I was about churched out.

Now . . . "I will give you a saaaaaaample."

Monday, April 09, 2007

Sunday Morning at Kwanglim

This video could be better but I'm trying to throw it together quickly. I know that if I don't get something together now I'm likely never to stitch together the odd pieces of video I took. This is just a sample of the things we saw on Sunday morning. The orchestra and choir were amazing. The preacher, Sung Juk Kim (son of Bishop Kim), is in a couple of the still photos in the middle of the video.

Also, a few of us witnessed 5th and 6th grade Sunday School--a real treat.

Bishop Kim and Kwanglim South

I should blog on Korea a great deal more than I am going to. The fact of the matter is, I'm running a bit short on time and my memory bank must have hit overload--with the excess falling to the floor of Atlanta Hartsfield Airport.

But, I do remember some things. Below you see a picture of Bishop Kim. He's the one who got the Kwanglim Methodist Church growing. He's a disciple of Arn and McGavarn from the old Church Growth school of thought. Kim shared his 10 Principles of Leading a Church with us during an almost 2 hour session on our last day in Korea (see the end of this entry for a quick summation of the 10).He "retired" to Kwanglim South, which is a new branch of Kwanglim in a new area of suburban Seoul. The church building appears to be a special retirement project of Kim's. He keeps an office there. The church building was spendy--$30,000,000. It's a beautiful building.Bishop Kim also has a study at the main Kwanglim campus in downtown Seoul. He was gracious enough to receive us there, too. This is where he first mentioned to us that he is preparing to lead a worship service/mission project in Japan. This is especially significant when we remember that Japan was the occupying power of Korea when Kim was a boy. They would not allow him to speak Korean. He had to speak entirely in Japanese as a boy.

"Now," he said, "I am taking words that were forced upon me and using those very words to go back to Japan and share the word of Life--in their own language."

He is an exceptional man.This is his prayer cell that adjoins his office.
He obviously casts a long shadow in the Korean Methodist Church. The preacher at Kwanglim South looked a bit jumpy to me. Perhaps having the godfather of Korean Methodism looking over your shoulder makes life a bit stressful? Bishop Kim comes to his church almost everyday. Below is the Kwanglim South pastor, with an interpreter who is from Maryland and, beside being the first American to hold a government office in Korea, she is on a weekly television show called "Chattering Beauties."Kwanglim South prepared an amazing meal for us--probably the best one of the entire trip. It was an excellent going away present. These folks were among the most hospitable I've encountered.

10 Principles on Incarnational Church Leadership, by Bishop Kim
  1. Vision Driving Ministry (money isn't a problem, have a big vision)
  2. Relational Ministry (build relationships between God, humans, and nature)
  3. Personal Ministry (do not dehumanize worship, listen to people)
  4. Response to Grace Ministry (God is the one who initiates)
  5. Holy Habits Ministry (inspiriational preaching, music, liturgy, and USHERS!)
  6. Positive Faith Ministry (thanksgiving, create abundance, be positive)
  7. Self-Discipline Ministry (without self discipline the congregation will never grow up)
  8. Concentration Ministry (focused on mission)
  9. Testimonial Ministry (tell what God has done for you)
  10. Giving Ministry (we give, we don't take, and we don't manipulate)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Moving In...

No more pictures until I'm reunited with my luggage, but here's an update:

  • Thanks to Jeff Miller and Joel Trammel for helping me move a lot of our stuff from the storage unit into our new house on Friday. Thanks also to Joel O'Brien for the use of his truck. There is much to be done, but its exciting to begin turning the "coming home" corner.
  • Dad and Wendy brought some furniture from Indiana, so we get to see them this Easter weekend.
  • Until yesterday I've never warn the same clothes to travel around the world and to move furniture into a house.
  • It's snowing down here in Tennessee. Between Korea and Johnson City I can't seem to escape not being dressed for the cold.
  • Tonight should be our first night in our new house.
  • The lenten and Easter season have been totallly lost on me this year. I miss it. I miss the discipline of lent and the relief of making it to Easter morning.
  • Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Home Again

No pictures today, sorry. That's because yesterday was a hoss. The flight from Korea to Atlanta was fine, but Atlanta was messy. Tsk, tsk to Delta for putting an exasperating ending on a great trip.

Scott Layer and I decided that the best way out of Atlanta was to grab the flight to Johnson City (We were both scheduled to drive to East Tennessee after returning to Lexington). So we separated from the group, thinking we might beat them out of Atlanta by almost 5 hours. Ha! After mechanical difficulties delayed the first flight and then after getting on another flight, only to be off-loaded because they spilled fuel on the runway when taking some fuel out of the plane, the joke was on us. I think we left about 15 minutes before our Beeson brothers and sisters did.

I'll complain about all that later. The important thing is that we're all safely back and I got to hug Cindy and the girls. Now if I can only reconnect with my luggage...

Seoul was a real treat. A special thanks to the Kwanglim Methodist Church for their gracious hosting, to the Beeson program, and to Randy Jesson for leading the trip.

Now I get to have Easter at Grandview, but I'll need some clothes!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Big Day

It was a big day for us. We went to Kwanglim for a Bible Study, then we went Kwanglim South for the afternoon evening. It's late now and we leave for the airpot at 5am.

How's that for a weak blog entry!!!!

Oh . . . I almost forgot... GO GATORS! NCAA Champs again, and again, and AGAIN!

Monday, April 02, 2007

More on Prayer Mountain

This is a view of Seoul (a suburb of Seoul, anyway) from the mountainside.I have a little bit of time this morning before we take off for the day to post some pictures from Prayer Mountain last night. The mountains in this area, by the way, remind me of East Tennessee. Very nice. Pining for home.

Here is the crew walking up the path to the various stations.This is Samuel from Sierra Leone. He gave one of the talks by the statue of the woman touching the robe of Jesus.John (a PhD student at Asbury) gave an excellent devotion at the foot of the cross.Then, after 11 stations, we made our way to the empty tomb at the top of the mountain.Have a good day (Go Gators!)

More from Seoul

I'm getting my days mixed up now, so I don't know which report this is.

Today we left the Kwanglim Seminar house (pictured above) bound for Prayer Mountain. On the way, though, we stopped at a Korean Village/Living history kind of place. It was fantastic, though a bit chilly. We saw examples of life in Korea 150 years ago, along with celebrations of Korean arts and dance.You can't tell from this picture, but this young lady is flying so high as the result of a teeter-totter style board. There is a girl on the other end who will fly just as high when this girl lands.

After the Korean Village we completed our journey to Prayer Mountain, where we will stay for the next two nights.

We opened the evening with a prayer walk up (where else?) the mountain. There were 12 stations and 12 of us offered meditations on different. The different meditations were a blessing to hear. Some of them were from our International Beeson students, and it's always nice to hear their perspectives on scripture.

After supper we were offered prayer rooms for the night. These are little closets with a pillow on the floor (no chairs or kneeling benches). The good thing about that is that it's almost impossible to fall asleep while praying in there. The bad thing is that it's also hard to get comfortable enough to focus on prayer. I can see how it would take quality practice to be good at praying that way. My time in the prayer closet was helpful. Having a place to pray is important and taking the time is even more important.

It's now the next Tuesday here, and I need to get some sleep. Tuesday is a big day for us.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

And it came to pass...

Florida verses Ohio State . . . while Bryan and Aaron are in Korea . . . with very little internet access! Go Gators!

Yesterday was a good day, but I won't have time to upload many pictures. There is a line for computers and internet access. For us, yesterday was Sunday and we went to the Kwanglim Methodist Church in the morning and the Yoido Full Gospel Church in the afternoon. Kwanglim is the largest Methodist church in the world, while Yoido is the largest church in the world (they boast around 750,000 members--which is down from 850,000 a couple of years ago).

I'll put more on the blog about these experiences, but probably not until I return to the US. There is much to see here. The people are very welcoming and seem still to appreciate America for the help in freeing their people.

The food sometimes reminds me of this:
I'm not a big "fishy" food guy. Still, I would rather try Korean food and not like it than to go to another Korean KFC (or American one, for that matter!).

Today we will do some tourist things and then visit Prayer Mountain where we will spend the next two nights. Oh, and we'll celebrate with the dance of The Gators!