Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Golden Compass: His Dark Material

The latest Christian outcry against Hollywood has come to town. This one strikes me as both serious and humorous. The humorous part is that this time the other side of the fence is crying foul along with Christians. My take on this movie is entirely second-hand. I haven't read the books. I haven't seen the movie (I'm not too big on sci-fi or fantasy flicks). If my information on the movie is wrong, I apologize. Feel free to correct me in the comment section.
  1. Atheists lament that the anti-God message has been watered down for the sake of sales. That cracks me up. It appears that even the devil has a hard time getting an honest hearing in today's market economy. Looks like Satan is going to have to buy his own billboards if he wants to get any hard core anti-God message into mainstream America. Grieve not for him. He has plenty of voices at the grassroots level.
  2. According to the Wikipedia report, Ellen Johnson, president of American Atheist, claimed on the CBS's Early Show that rather than being anti-religious the movie will simply teach kids to question authority. Questioning authority, she says, is a good thing for kids to learn. That just makes me wonder if she's watched any children's television lately. Every product from soft drinks to hardware encourages kids to roll their eyes at their parents and go their own ways. One currently popular commercial shows three teen aged girls complaining that one of them got a pony instead of a phone for Christmas (pretty funny, actually). Is too much respect for authority really the modern epidemic Johnson appears to believe it is?
  3. Lastly, the main character apparently takes advantage of the opportunity to "kill" God as part of the movie's climax. This represents, I suppose, the great creativity of the author of the books. But I think I've heard something like that in another book somewhere ... let me see ... where have I read that somebody took advantage of the opportunity to kill God ... must think back ... OH YEAH! I've actually read four books where that happened. They were Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Apparently, though, when we kill God he has a habit of not staying dead--and also of forgiving us for doing it. This Golden Compass is weak sauce as far as the Gospel message is concerned.
Well, that's it for now. In case your wondering if there is a conspiracy against the church and faith, there is ... but this isn't news. This is status quo. Be faithful. Love your neighbor. Honor your God. That's the best defense.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Tribute to Dr. Charles Taber

In an earlier post I promised to pay tribute to Dr. Taber. My delay in writing is because I've been contemplating what most impressed me about the man. I think I've finally put my finger on it.

Although Dr. Taber was a noted missiologist and a word smith with few peers, I keep coming back to something else that stood out about him: Christian maturity. This most desirable of traits is not to be taken lightly. By his own admission he wasn't naturally patient. He liked things punctual. He had high standards. Papers in his class were due at the start of class. One of my friends once worked through the class period, printed his paper, ran up to the classroom, followed Dr. Taber from the classroom to his office, and gave him the paper. Dr. Taber thanked him for the paper, suspended it over the trashcan between his pinching fingers, said "...but when I said papers were due at the beginning of class I meant it," and then he let the paper drop unceremoniously and unread into the trash.

That's the Dr. Taber I knew when I was given the opportunity to become the minister at Grandview. When I was being considered for the position I was invited to a big breakfast at the Buckner house. When I walked in and saw Dr. Taber I said, "Hello, Dr. Taber, it's good to see you." His response was, "I'm not giving you grades anymore. Call me Charles." From then on, with herculean effort, I learned to call him by his first name.

When I arrived at Grandview we were in the midst of a worship wars ... hymnic hostilities ... chorus combat (is that enough alliteration for you?). These weren't all-out, take no prisoner, battles. They were more subtle than that. At the bottom of the difficulties was (I think) fear. Fear that "my" favorite style of worship was going to be taken from me. Fear causes turf wars.

In the midst of that I sought background information from as many people as I could. The stories sounded mostly the same and they all focused on the events of the previous ten years. When I had the chance to sit down with Charles he said something I heard nowhere else.

"Grandview went through a leadership crisis years ago," he said, "and when they did they invited [me and some others] to step into leadership. We did. And we stole their church."

Implicit in his tone and words was the realization that he and the others had not intended to do so, but that upon reflection he seemed to think they had neglected a segment of the church's music and life and (slowly) much of that segment had gone away. I didn't push him on the point. I think I knew what he meant.

The people who sang old, gospel hymns lost their sappy Fanny Crosby songs and saw them replaced with high church hymns. Call it Worship War I. Fast-forward to Worship War II.

Perhaps it was with that realization that Charles designed the Missions Emphasis worship service one year and included the song, "Shine, Jesus, Shine" in the traditional 11am service at Grandview. I am certain he didn't like that song. I believe he included it because he thought it was important to sing each other's songs.

I remember worrying on that Sunday that I would have to field questions about the inclusion of "Shine Jesus Shine" in the second service. Then I realized that I could just say, "Hey, if you want to complain, complain to Dr. Charles R. Taber, professor of Missions at Emmanuel School of Religion." What a relief!

Ever wonder what Christian maturity looks like? Charles wasn't worried about losing his songs. He was worried about including others in the service he designed. Christian maturity is more interested in unity and reaching out to others than in its own musical likes and dislikes.

Others will remember Charles' contributions to the academy, I will remember his contribution to the church and to my own growth as a disciple of Christ.

Thanks, Dr. Taber ... er ... Charles, for your example of Christian maturity, for your fidelity to your wife and your family, for your love for the church, for your love for the world, and for your love for God. You are missed.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Wymer Thanksgiving

Okay ... if you're not family, this probably won't be of great interest to you (you are, of course, welcome to watch it).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Midweek Miscellaneous

I planned some commentary on the movie the Golden Compass, but it will have to wait. Maybe I'll have time to do some of that kind of writing again soon. In the meantime, here are some pictures from last weekend. Our family met Mark Peacock for some outdoor portrait shots at Sycamore Shoals State Park last Saturday. It was beautiful afternoon and I even got some quick shots while Mark was doing the heavy lifting.

Mark, by the way, is an excellent photographer. I HIGHLY recommend his photo blog: Appalachian Treks. He tries to update it with a new pic every day. I will give you a saaaaaaaample:

Stunning! Below you can see my "old-timey" pic. There was a re-enactment kind of thing going on while we were at Sycamore Shoals.
Here's my lovely Anna.And Cora...
And Meg...Three in One...

Here are a couple of pics from the youth group's service project. They did the "rake and run" thing last weekend. Here's Abby!

And Pippa!
Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Tomorrow's Offering

Tomorrow is the third in our series on the phrase, "I'm not being fed at church." We'll be looking at Hebrews 5. The pastoral prayer is meant to reflect this as well as our vote on leadership (immediately following each service). This is definitely the first time I've mentioned Peter Pan in a pastoral prayer ... we'll see how that goes!

Prayers of the Church for Grandview
November 18, 2007

O God, who provides lands flowing with milk and honey, bring us into beautiful vistas and broad horizons. Show us the work you have prepared us to do. Show us how we must undergo for your sake. Show us the fruit of our suffering along with the joy and peace it can produce in our lives and in the lives around us.

Forgive us for being content with baby food and fiddle-faddle. Forgive us for the ways we avoid growing up into the image of your Son who lived with great joy and with great suffering; who emptied himself, becoming a slave, so that we could know who you are at your very core. In the face of that example, forgive us for just wanting our sins forgiven, for failing to hear your call to empty ourselves.

Forgive us for being more like Peter Pan than the Apostle Peter; for crowing in our pride instead of hearing the rooster’s crow and being humbled and changed by it; for throwing rocks instead of becoming the rock upon which the church is built.

Bless the elders of this church with wisdom and strength and courage as we move deeper and deeper into service and into community. Bless the missions team with discernment and the ability to bless our missionaries through prayer, attention, and love. Bless the stewardship team with the ability to keep us aware of our need to give selflessly to your work. Bless the worship team with ability to inspire us to offer our gifts to you when we gather together to worship you. Bless the property team as they keep this building in order—which is often a thankless task, but one that is just as holy as missions and worship. Bless the financial team with integrity and wise decisions. Bless the community concerns team with a keen eye for the needs in our area. Bless the fellowship team as they call us together to know each other better. Bless staff relations team as they minister to staff. Bless the First Impressions team as they teach us to be a welcoming community. Bless the small groups team as they call us to know each other and be accountable to each other. Bless the caretakers of the partnership fund as they seek to be a resource to those in need. Thank you for those who are willing to take the risk involved with leading.

Be with those who are on our prayer list. Help us to minister to them and to those we remember in the silence:


The Lord’s Prayer

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Last Night of Two 4 Two

Last night was the final installment of Two 4 Two/Fall 2007.

It was a good, but harried, evening. I wanted to focus on celebration and so I made the following video. My original idea failed so plan B became video taping kids as they arrived and then making a video for Rendezvous. Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Midweek Miscellaneous

1. When people enter words into a search engine and that engine brings those people to my blog, I can sometimes check to see what words were used. I get various combinations of "white house with red shutters" that bring people to a previous post on the house where I grew up.

I regularly get people who searched for information on "Prayer Mountain" in Korea

The most popular (and most disturbing) words are: "John Parker Wilson Shirtless". John Parker Wilson is the quarterback for Alabama and, apparently, the object of some desire. I mentioned him in a post over a year ago (when the Gators played Bama). I included a picture of a zealous, shirtless and red-painted Bama fan. Needless to say, my blog disappoints them very much.

2. There's a joke in here somewhere. After the area minister's meeting on Tuesday my friend, Robbie, had a flat tire. While I was helping him change it, another minister, the great Tim Ross, stopped to see if he could be of service. When he realized three minsiters were changing a tire, Tim said, "How many ministers does it take to change a tire?" If you have a good (clean!) punchline, feel free to include it in the comments at the bottom of this post.3. I'm so proud of my stump removal work, I had to include a couple of pictures. The stump doesn't look very big, but that's because I chopped most of it off, dug it up, pushed and pried until I removed it. I almost gave up chopping and digging in favor of a truck and a chain...but I prevailed over that pesky stump!!!!
As you can see, I did a log of digging. You should praise me for my efforts.
4. I offer the following without comment, except that I can't tell if it's serious or a joke. I took the pictures at our local Food City grocery store:

Saturday, November 10, 2007

MeghanEller and Robinella

Friday night was a nice evening when Meghan accompanied me to the Robinella concert at Milligan College. The venue was small and uncrowded. I've wanted to see her in concert for a long time, but usually she's in town on a Saturday night and ... well ... I'm an awful stick-in-the-mud on Saturday nights.

The concert was wonderful. Her style is a mixture of jazz, bluegrass, country, and soul. It works. Here is a picture of Meghan with Robinella after the show.
Jess is the one responsible for booking her and bringing her in on a Friday night. Thanks, Jess!
Not a good picture. Sorry. I just didn't want to get too close and make a nuisance of myself.
Her new album, "Solace for the Lonely" is her best yet. You can find out more about her at I highly commend her work to you.

Tomorrow's Offering

In my little world it was a wonderful and pleasant week. I'll try to blog tomorrow about all of that stuff. Blogging is strange because when things get good and busy I have the least time to share it. I'm anxious to share with my blog community the Robinella concert last night, my stump removal attempts at home, and other such ultimately trivial things--but things that make a week nice.

Also, this post is coming so quickly after the latest Two 4 Two widget post that I want to invite you to scroll down and check it out because I used an original song from The Isaac Schade Band.

Tomorrow I will continue the "Feed Me" series that attempts to take a closer look at the church exit-line that goes like this, "I'm not being fed at that church." Not that it's never true. Sometimes it is true. Sometimes it's true because the church has dropped the ball. Sometimes it's true because that particular person has dropped the ball.

Here's the pastoral prayer. Blessings.

Prayers of the Church for Grandview
November 11, 007

Great God, nestled together in this place, under your protective wing, we come together to serve you with our words, our thoughts, our prayers, our songs, and by the way we tend to each other’s burdens and share each other’s joys. Like the hen who gathers her chicks, you gather us, you give shelter and shade, you feed us.

From the strength and power of your example, O God, may we live! Help us to learn from your Son, from his perfect life of service, sacrifice, and salvation. In the power of his example may we spring into our own skin and skeleton with an awareness of what it means to be fully alive to this expansive universe that you continue to create, as if the borders of the universe are persistently too small to reflect your wonder.

Quicken our imaginations, our souls, and our witness to your great affection for humanity.

Thank you for your deep wells of grace that flow, without ceasing, in and out of our desperate situations. Forgive us when we bring a thimble to this fountain and then complain about coming away thirsty. Forgive us when we focus on receiving our little communion-sized cups of grace, while failing to appreciate the opportunity to serve those next to us. Forgive us when we care more about receiving the bread of salvation and less about offering that bread to others. Forgive us when we kneel before the cross of sacrifice and complain that life is empty.

In the silence we pray for the sick:

We pray for those who are hungering and thirsting after righteousness:

We pray for those who are sick:

We pray for those who are weak or discouraged:

We pray for marriages and friendships:

We pray for those who are struggling financially to make ends meet:

We pray for soldiers and civil servants who are in harm’s way:

We pray for world leaders that you would guide their feet in the paths of peace:

We pray for our enemies:

We pray for a peaceful death for those who are dying:

We pray for your comfort to embrace those who are grieving:

O God, what a joy it is to be sure of your grace, sure of your goodness, sure of your love for all the people of the earth. Help us to proclaim that message in word and deed.

We pray as you have taught us:

This Week's Widget

The unique thing about this week's widget is that the music comes from our own Isaac Schade Band. Some of you will recognize this song because we've sung it a church a few times now. The Isaac Schade Band is in the process of the final mixing of their first CD. I'll let you know when it's available. Enjoy.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Sweet 16

Yesterday was Meg's 16th birthday, which is hard for her dad to believe. It would be a cliche' to say that it seems like only yesterday that we brought her home---it would also be wrong. Life has changed for us a whole bunch over the past16 years and one of the most enjoyable constants has been our daughters.

Happy Birthday, Meg. You are loved.We enjoyed Firehouse Barbecue as a family (which just reminded me of how nice it is to live in a good barbecue town).
Anna was there, too, I just couldn't get everyone in the same picture.
Plus...Grandview youth sponsor extraordinaire, Joel, was a server.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

David and Goliath

Last night at Rendezvous I used the story of David and Goliath as fodder for my talk. I may regret putting this video on the blog. Enjoy.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sports Post

Most of you don't care for my sports posts, so I've tried to limit them. Here is a summary of my sports thoughts over the past month:

1. The Boston Red Sox
: I've been a Red Sox fan since high school. It was nice to see that my Year of Aaron (while mostly over) did continue in a small way with the Sox. I say "in a small way" because I'm really not a baseball fan. When it comes to four hour games with three or four points scored ... I'd just assume go to bed. Which is what I did through much of the series. That said, How 'bout those Sox!!!2. The Indianapolis Colts: Yesterday the Colts lost to the Patriots in a big game of (previously) undefeated teams. I thought the Colts did a fine job (with just a little help from the refs). The Patriots don't have much on their schedule this year and the Colts have already defeated everyone in their division--on their opponents' fields. My prediction? Colts and Pats will end the season with the same number of losses (hey, a guy can dream).
3. Gator Football: It's been a hard season for my favorite team. They're just missing too many people on defense. I thought I could chalk their losses up to the SEC being the toughest conference, but I'm thinking this is a mediocre year for the SEC East. The whole SEC East seems like it's mid-pack this year. No dominate teams. My nod goes to the Pac 10 this year.4. Gator Basketball: These guys are young. They will have some big wins and some bigger losses. I look forward to seeing if they can come together as a team--which is what made the past two years so special for Gator basketball. Over the next few years we will find out if Coach Donovan was a product of his players' success or vice versa. I suspect it will be a long time before anybody, let alone the Gators, catches lightning in a bottle like the Donovan did the past two years. As ALWAYS, It's Great To Be A Florida Gator!5. The Indiana Pacers: Just when I'm ready to give up on these guys they start to show some character. The hapless Pacers of last year added almost no new talent. Got rid of their old coach and hired a guy I had never heard of. I lost hope, but noow they have started the season 3-0. I know it's early. I know they won't win the division. But if they could just stay out of jail and play together it will be an improvement.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Seven Layers at Dobyns Bennett

Friday night was a fun one. The Wymers and the Layers got together at the big Science Hill vs. Dobyns-Bennett football game in Kingsport. Football was an aside (though D-B D-molished our beloved Science Hill Toppers). The main event was getting to see our Beeson neighbors and getting to see the Science Hill Marching Band for the last time this year.

Cora and Maggie seemed to have much, much fun. Pierson has hair!

Anna was feeling the love.

Scott and I were preparing to blog.

Aidan was fun to be around, as usual.

Scott and I saw some of the game.
It was fine evening. I have to say that the Dobyns-Bennett fans around us were really classy. I was impressed with their hospitality for fans of the visiting team. Thanks, D-B and the Layers, we enjoyed ourselves (but we missed Max!).

Tomorrow's Offering

Weekends roll around so quickly! The sermon for tomorrow is written, but there is more to be done on it (I have to brush up on the cockney accent).

Tomorrow we begin a series I'm calling "Feed Me." The series is an attempt to explore the reasons we sometimes don't feel "fed" in church. We begin by looking at the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden. November is the month of the American feast known as Thanksgiving, so I thought a food theme would be appropriate.

Here's tomorrow's prayer.

Prayers of the Church for Grandview
November 4, 2007

God of fruit, free and forbidden, of quail and manna, of the bread broken and the chalice poured out, accept this offering of ourselves that we place before you. By your grace may we feed upon your holy mysteries, upon the beauty of God in a manger, upon the joy of Jesus walking and laughing with friends, upon the power of disease dispatched, demons dismissed, and the dead raised. Grant that we will gain insight into what it means to follow Christ, to pick up our crosses every single day, to offer ourselves to you when the whole world thinks that sacrifice is just plain stupid.

Feed us on scripture. Feed us on fellowship with one another. Feed us on prayer, song, word, and service to one another and to the world.

Forgive us, then, when we refuse to sing, when we refuse to open our mouths. Forgive us when we refuse to pick up our forks and spoons, when we pout at your table, unwilling to eat from the great banquet you have provided. Forgive us when we stand or sit in front of your cross of sacrifice, that place where your Son bled and died for our sake, and come away empty.

Forgive us when we prefer to feast on celebrity news, pornography, affairs of the heart and the flesh, self-indulgent pride, anger, revenge, and on our own, undisciplined agendas.

Lord, please hear our sins that we confess to you in the silence:


Thank you, O God, for the missionaries we are honored to support. Give strength, encouragement, and joy to our friends who have left their homes for your sake as they serve the cause of the kingdom around the world. We remember the Coleys, Cauleys, Freelands, Headens, McDades, Nyadors, Veals, Orths and for the Jacksons and Colemans as they prepare to go.

Thank you for the people on our prayer list and the opportunity to serve them. Bless us as we minister to them. Bless the sick with healing, the weak with strength, those in harm’s way with protection, the grief-stricken with comfort and joy and a new vision of tomorrow, and give a peaceful death to those who are dying.

Lord, we pray together as you have taught us:

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Two Weeks of Two 4 Two

You know the drill.

Thursday Miscellaneous

On Tuesday night Bana and Margurite Uriah, missionaries from India, stopped in to see us with their friend, Dr. Templar. We had a nice supper at our house and a good visit. It's always good to see them.I took them by the church building to show them what had changed since they were last in the area. I think Margurite liked the modesty wall's ability to de-clutter the sanctuary of cables and guitar stands, etc...Bana liked the pulpit. I need to call Roger to see if he still has the plans he used to build it. I was able to send Bana home with a small model of the pulpit. If it survives the trip back to India they will at least have something to go by.Last night was Trunk or Treat at Grandview. We loaded up the parking lot with cars, candy, and crazies. Here are two of the crazies now: Meredith and Meghan.Chris and Stephi embraced the hipsters of yesteryear for their theme.
Dana brought in inflatables and, we now know, that inflatables and candy draw kids from everywhere. The event was a smashing success--a safe place to trick or treat is a good thing. We met a lot of neighborhood kids last night.
But some of the kids were our own. Here is Owen the Porcupine. He had a good time except when he saw kids in Spiderman outfits. Owen does not like Spiderman.
Here is Bethany the Cat. I don't think she's afraid of Spiderman.

We had a great time. I didn't get shots of my car. Cindy and I did a coffee shop theme. We actually served coffee (to the adults!) along with candy. It was a fun evening and, I hope, the start of a new tradition at Grandview. It sure beat handing candy out at home.