Monday, September 29, 2008

Squirrels in my Attack

Some writing errors are so egregious and funny that they need to celebrated, not edited. In my previous post I, hurried and tired, I wrote that I had "squirrels in my attack." On Sunday morning Heather H. asked me what I meant by that.

Drum roll please ... I meant that I had squirrels in my ATTIC. I was so pleased that I spelled squirrel correctly on my first try that I paid no attention to my semi-phonic spelling of "attic."

I've decided that I really like the phrase, though. So now I'm trying to find an appropriate meaning to attach to it. If you have any ideas, just leave them in the comment section. (i.e. Yesterday's sermon was awesome, I had squirrels in my attack.")

Meanwhile, last night the Mountain Mission Choir came to Grandview and did a great job. They really filled the room with sound. They sang like they had squirrels in their attack.

Even more than that, they are amazingly polite. You've never been around a larger group of polite teens in your life.It's possible that someone could say, "They're only polite because the school warns them to be polite." To which I would say, "O.K. That's fine with me."

Our world could use a good dose of politeness, even if it isn't genuine.
If you ever visit Mountain Mission School, though, you'll find that they are taught to be polite from the first time they step onto campus. I've only visited campus once. I was on my way into the cafeteria when a group of 3rd graders approached the doors. I held the door for the class and every single child thanked me as he or she passed. No adult told them to do that (not in that moment, anyway). The school does a great job of bringing together kids from Ethiopia and Grundy and turning them into a single choir.
On a completely different topic: This week I don't teach! This was my last cohort for awhile (ever?). I gave my notice. My schedule has just gotten too rough to continue teaching at Milligan and I really, really, need to work on my dissertation. The issue isn't just one of time, it's one of sphizerinctim (Don't ask what that word means. I have no idea how to spell it and it seems to be an old East Tennessee word for a certain "it" quality). If you over-schedule your life you just don't have the pepper for dissertation work.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tomorrow's Offering

It's stewardship time and our theme is "all of life." Tomorrow's sermon is "Bricks and Mortar". The sermon is an attempt to make the case that we know spiritual and eternal truths through physical and temporary realities.

It's late. The Gators played terrible and deserved to lose by far more than a point. And I have squirrels in my attack. Whooo Hooo!

I hope to see you tomorrow. I fear we're developing a bad habit at Grandview. The habit? Over-valuing the details of how we worship while under-valuing actually showing up for worship. It matters.

Here's the prayer. Peace!

Prayers of the Church for Grandview
28 September 2008

God, whom we know through the breaking of bread, baked from flour, grown in the earth; we worship you. God, whom we know through the pouring of the wine, made from grapes, grown in the earth; we adore you. God, whom we know through the scriptures; words printed from ink, on pages of paper, milled from logs, planted before we were born; we gather before you in awe of creation.

You have chosen to make spiritual realities known to us through physical things like the hard wood of the cross, the rumble of tombs giving up their prey, and the invisible word made flesh.

Forgive us for ignoring your message, written in the plain language of the life of a man who grew up in the crusty Palestinian countryside. Forgive us for blurring our vision of the physical in favor of the spiritual; for looking past the real pain of others, hoping to focus on heaven.

Ground us in real life. Make our faith an earthy faith that weathers the storms of oppression, greed, and abuse and emerges stronger yet. Ground us in real joy; joy that lives in the moment, that appreciates the temperature of this room, the light that strikes the sides of the mountains, and the breath that fills our lungs. Ground us in real community; community that forgives, challenges, and loves.

Bless those in our community who are in need this morning. Some need money. Others need healing, or strength, or protection, or hope, or comfort. Some are in need of a peaceful and a timely death. Lord, all of us are in need of your grace.

In the silence, we speak from our hearts. Please share our joys. Please hear our concerns.


Bless the institutions that exist because of the gospel, especially Agape Women’s Services, Appalachian Christian Camp, Christian Student Fellowship at ETSU, Emmanuel School of Religion, European Evangelistic Society, Higher Ministries, Interfaith Hospitality Network, Milligan College, Friends at John Sevier, and the Salvation Army.

Bless our enemies. Bless also this nation. Give us wisdom and insight as we prepare to vote our next president. Lord, bless the many people who volunteer their time and their money to help others. May we be pleasing to you by the way we treat the people who are in the most need.

We pray as you have taught us.

Announcement Slides for Sunday

Ready for a new feature? If you missed the slides and announcements from Sunday morning, or just need to see them again, simply click below and run through the slides. We'll see how this goes.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Two 4 Two Slideshow

Special thanks to Sam V. for tackling the slide shows this year. I'm leaving things completely in his hands and I feel so freeeeeee! That said, I blame him for the background music of choice. I've heard that he is blaming me. Maybe we both secretly love this song?

Thanks, Sam.

Wendy Wymer, this one's for you!


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Two 4 Two ... Week 2

I'll put the slideshow in a later post.

Wednesday night was Pirate Night as we continue to focus on Building Up Others in Fellowship. The theme of the night was "playing together." Playing together is an essential for fellowship.

Cap'n Nathan drove the point home with his message after the movie clip. The rest of the pictures are in no particular order because I don't want to take the time to move them into chronological order!

I am pleased with the senior high boys' participation this fall. They are turning into true leaders. They won't know how a big a difference they make until they are older, but I can see some of it now.
Good to see the Winsteads having fun together during Rendezvous (the worship time).
Pirate Jack.
Pirate Isaac.Jim shows off the stain glass work being done by some of the senior high kids.

Anna and Seth.

Pirates Cora and Kavita.

Not Pirates, just cute.

Caroline is a joy-giver. Lots of fun to hold!

If you are photographer, I invite you to take some nice shots of the building. We're going to need some money shots for the website. I don't think my digital equivalent of the Instamatic can pull it off.

Although, it's not useless.

Another one of the high school men making a difference. Xander is a senior now.

We can't forget Jim.

Now to dinner time where Melanie is a great at leading other kids to visit. She must have an inviting soul because she always seems to bring somebody!

Nathan and Erin lead dinner time.

Moritz, from Germany, is leading as well.

Okay ... future leaders!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Quick Chuckle

If you're in the mood for something light, check out Stuff Christians Like. All of his stuff makes me laugh, but this entry sums how I fee about the oft used "double greeting."

ps: thanks, heather, for sending me to this guy's blog ... lots of smiles.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Yesterday's Offering

The prayer is at the bottom of the post, but I thought I would share how the weekend went, first.

Lake Junaluska is a beautiful place, especially in the predawn light. The whole family had a good time down there. The "speaking" part of the retreat seemed to go well. Thanks to any of you who prayed enabling prayers. I promise to focus my working time on Grandview and on my dissertation (well ... once I give the final on Thursday night and then finish all of the grading).

Here are some sample pictures of seminarians as they played together during evening activities. This game involved tying a balloon to your ankle and then trying to protect it while trying to burst everybody's balloon.

All the way from Globalscope in Spain is Jeremy Lawler. I can live with his Georgia Tech loyalties... at least we both want the Georgia Bulldogs to lose.
More seminarian fun and games...
Sunday morning went pretty well, also. We continue to get going with our three services. Our numbers are kind of all over the map. I think we're set to see some wonderful things happen but that we need to be diligent in prayer. I am praying that we will be good at reaching out to people who don't have a church. I see that beginning to happen. Feel free to join me in praying and inviting.

We had six people join Sunday morning ... and they were spread out evenly over the three services. Welcome, Cecelia, Sarah, Brian, Casey, Mark and Tonia!

Here's Sunday's prayer (and it may be the last one on the blog for awhile):

Prayers of the Church for Grandview
21 September 2008

Lord, we gather together with delight. We delight in your kindness. We delight in your mercy and grace. We delight in the information for living that you gave to us in the flesh; in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

Thank you for showing us the difference between what the world calls “love” and what you call “love.” Thank you for showing us what tools we should, and should not, use when hating what is evil. Thank you for showing us what it means to give mutual respect, to not grow weary of hard work, to be alive in the spirit, to work as slaves, to celebrate our hope, to be patient when suffering, to give constant energy to prayer, to contribute to the needs of others, to welcome strangers, to bless those who persecute us, to mourn and celebrate together, to be humble, and to repay evil with good.

Thank you for showing us what truth is, what truth looks like when it is lived in a particular and place in a particular time. Thank you for showing us what truth looks like when enemies attack, when in the presence of people bowed down by the power of sin and hunger, and when in the presence of friends.

You are worthy of imitating. Send your Spirit to animate our desire to be like your Son.

Forgive us our sins. They are many. They are more than we know, and more damaging than we realize, sometimes traveling from person-to-person, sometimes traveling from generation-to-generation. Forgive us for only remembering individual sins while ignoring the sins of our church or of our nation. Help us to live graciously, justly, and righteously in our communities.

You know the needs in our community better than we do. You know how limited our prayer list is, and yet we remember all of these before you, asking for healing, strength, comfort, joy, peace, patience, and protection.

Lord, in the silence, hear the requests and praises that we bring to your throne:


Be with your missionaries. Pour out your spirit and kindness on the Coleys, Freelands, Headens, Hillmans, Nyadors, Veals, and Orths as they serve you. Refresh the McDades in their time with us. And bless the Jacksons and the Colemans as you prepare then to follow your call. Bless them with the spiritual and financial resources they need.

Lastly, Lord, we ask that you help us to become the kinds of Christians Paul envisions in his letter to the church in Rome; Christians who conquer evil with good.

We pray as you have taught us:

Friday, September 19, 2008


I've bitten off more than I can chew again. I would ask for your prayers, but I'm not sure about the rule on this one. When someone keeps making the same mistake I kind of resent praying that they will do well and come out smelling like a rose. I don't want, by virtue of my prayers, to become an enabler.

So I plan to emerge from this weekend with a new resolve to say no to things. The problem is that potential commitments seem so innocent in the planning stage. Then the day comes and you realize that besides the things you were sure you could juggle, you've been thrown a couple of chainsaws as well.

No worries. Things will be fine. I'm just saying that I should know better.

Wednesday night's Two 4 Two may have been the best one yet. Ryan, Dana, Matt Buckner and the McDades combined with a host of volunteers to turn the night into a big success (special thanks to First Christian Church, as well, they provided some media help). Making the night better was the increased presence of the young men who are juniors and seniors in high schools. These guys have great leadership potential and Ryan is working hard to harness that.

Last night's Christ and Culture class seemed to go well enough. We just have one more session left, then I will have my Thursdays back (and my Friday mornings, really, because I just don't have much morning zest after the Thursday nights ... so I decided to blog ... just hoping to get the thinking gears greased).

Tonight the family and I will head down to Lake Junaleska for the Emmanuel retreat. I will speak there tonight and tomorrow morning and (hopefully) we'll have a good bit of family time down there as well. Meghan doesn't have band tonight so the whole family will be together. When we get back tomorrow I will have plenty of work left to do on the sermon and the Sunday details. I agreed to speak at the retreat, quite frankly, because I felt honored to be asked. Which is a slightly holier way of saying, "It stroked my ego."

My penance for my sin of self-aggrandizement and poor life management? I won't get to watch Florida vs. Tennessee tomorrow (something had to go!).

Back to work. I mean, off to work.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Tomorrow's Offering

Tomorrow will be a busy day around here. We'll have our three morning services, followed by a funeral for Gene, who was the first person to respond to the gospel after the formation of Grandview (it was Virginia Street Church of Christ back then). He was not, however, the first one baptized after the formation of the church. Some young women responded just after he did. When it came time to be baptized it was "ladies first." Gene served in World War II and in Korea. Bronze Star. Purple Heart. We'll miss him.

After the funeral we will have a "Welcome to Grandview" class to round out the day.

Months ago I flirted with the idea of taking vacation this weekend because I would love to have gone to Indianapolis to watch the inaugural MotoGP race at the IMS. Any of my fellow riders who want to go next year should start planning now (that includes you, Bryan). I'll beg all the family members up there to provide lodging and a couple of meals. If you're not familiar with MotoGP, I will give you sample:

I'll be recording the race in order to unwind with it Sunday evening. If you watch it please don't tell me who wins.

We continue our "Building up others in fellowship" series tomorrow. We'll look at Jesus' words on forgiveness in Matthew 18:21ff. If the sermon isn't very good ... well ... you'll just have to forgive me! Same with the prayer.

Prayers of the Church for Grandview
14 September 2008

O God, creator of a universe that is beyond comprehension and imagination, we bow before you in reverence, respect, and awe. We did not make ourselves. Without your help we can’t keep ourselves alive. And yet, despite our limitations, you have offered eternity to us.

Your grace has been an ever flowing fountain from before we were born. You have shown kindness to our ancestors. You have shown kindness to those who love and serve you. You have shown kindness to those who don’t care to consider your existence. You have shown kindness to those who deny you. You have shown kindness even to your enemies.

We, O God, have fallen into each of those categories at different times in our lives. Thank you for your forgiveness.

Help us to model your willingness to be life in the lungs of others. Help us to forgive, even as you forgive. Help us to be willing to play our part in the grand story of the gospel, of the continuing truth that the love of God wells up in history and humanity, restoring creation to its early garden greatness.

Bless your church and shine your light of truth in your people. Help us to know how we can stand with people in need, people who are being cheated by the decisions of others, people who are being beaten and battered—be it by hurricanes or humans. Make your church willing and strong.

Bless the people on the prayer list who need healing, forgiveness, strength, hope, and comfort. We rely upon your Spirit for these things. When you wish to rely upon us to be conduits of good things for people in need, help us to be joyful participants in your giving of grace.

Bless those who are our enemies. Bless those who hate us. Bless those who are indifferent to your passion. Bless your missionaries, be they here in Johnson City or living in the far away places.

We come together with unspoken needs and praises. In the silence, we offer them to you.


Bless world leaders. Guide their feet in the paths of peace. Bless this nation as we choose a new president. May he be a man after your own heart; a man who stands for justice for the oppressed, a man who seeks the good of all people.

Bless your church as we are joined together in your kingdom, one family, one people, dedicated to your will. We pray as your Son has taught us: (the Lord’s Prayer)

Monday, September 08, 2008

Special Announcement!

Grandview Christian Church announced yesterday that it is entering into an innovative partnership with the Walmart Corporation. The move is being hailed as religion and retail’s natural next step. Senior minister, Aaron Wymer, said in a recent press conference that in order to reduce debt load and gain visibility in the marketplace, Grandview sold a share of their naming rights to the retail giant. “We’re also exploring effective new methods of cross promotion—pun intended!” Wymer said.

While the details of the agreement have not yet been announced, the two have agreed, in principle, to push the envelope of church membership and merchandising. The Sunday morning greeters at Grandview will soon be recruited from the Seniors’ ministry, supplied with blue vests, and carefully trained to detect visitors who might be leaving the church building with property that belongs to the church.

Parishioners who tithe will receive a 10% discount card that will be good on merchandise under $50 at all area Walmarts. The discount card, to be named the “Resurrection Rewards Card,” will serve the dual purposes of allowing the church to track the purchasing power of their members while allowing Walmart greater insight into effective ways to market to modern Christians.

Negotiations between the two have been ongoing and appeared to hit a snag early in the process when Grandview leaders flirted with Kmart and their “saving’s place” positioning in the market. While the tie-in seemed natural for a church, in the end Walmart’s size, power, and ability to brand both products and consumers made them the more valuable partner. Sources say that Grandview originally approached more upscale retailers such as Proffit’s and Saks, who liked the idea, but rebuffed Grandview in favor of a larger church with a higher average SPP (salary per parishioner).

Critics of the partnership worry about the effect that the world’s largest merchandiser will have on this small to mid-size church. Wymer defended the deal, saying, “History shows that the gospel will find a way. These are the same detractors who believed that Constantine, science—even the Enlightenment project—would be the death of the divinely ordained good news. But I ask you, did the gospel survive? Yes. The gospel will survive consumerism, modernism, postmodernism, and 10% off yogurt and reasonably priced leather shoes.”

One church leader, speaking under conditions of anonymity, said, “We had a closed door meeting in which we fully intended to relieve Aaron of his position for this breach of trust, but when we all compared our grocery bills and saw the savings, we decided to take a wait-and-see approach.”

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Tomorrow's Offering

Our own Jeff Keeling is reporting in the Johnson City Press that The State of Franklin Bank has been purchased by a bank in Morristown. Besides being the bank that holds the mortgage on the church building (though they probably sold the mortgage to somebody else), it is the bank that gives us the Ben Franklin mascot and Extreme checking (I don't know what makes their checking extreme. Sorry). I would hate for the mountain climbing, Extreme Checking, Ben Franklin mascot to go away.

I'm just saying ... save the Mascots!!!

Tomorrow we begin a new emphasis, "Building up others in fellowship." It's part of our vision statement. We did "Reaching out in relationships" last year. Guess what we're doing next year!
Tomorrow's sermon will focus on Matthew 18:15. The story I would like to use in the sermon is the story of my experience in Jonesborough back when the church imploded (for a season). The problem is that it is better if that story just goes away. So I won't be mentioning the havoc and healing this text helped cause back in 1994.

I've tried to do a better job of proofreading the prayer this week. I'm sure I'll find that I've left an important word in my head, untyped, after I print this off and give it to the prayer leaders tomorrow.

We'll be remembering Gene Lilly in the prayer tomorrow. Gene died this week. Before his health declined he was always fun to visit. He knew the history of Grandview as well as anybody. Please remember his family in your prayers.

Prayers of the Church for Grandview
7 September 2008

God, you have shown us who you are by allowing us to gaze into the relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Your blessed bonds reveal to us that the core of character is mutual submission, humility, and love. We have glimpsed the heart of God and found goodwill and grace, not domination and disaffection.

Thank you for the honesty of that relationship; for the willingness of the Father to proclaim the joy the Son brings; for the Spirit’s swirling and steady charisma in the life of the Son; and for the Son’s willingness to humble himself before the Father, even when asking to be relieved of the burden of the cross.

Forgive us when we ignore your nature; when we settle on the amiable surface of respectful indifference, refusing to dive deep into the disturbing demands of true kinship and community. Forgive us for being polite when you would rather we be loving and honest. Forgive us for being content to gather in a room once a week for worship when you have called us to become family; when you have called us to familiarity, solidarity and unity.

Thank you for each person who has gathered in this room this morning. Help us to be open to the grace that you offer through people; people who know us and love us enough to be honest with us, challenge us, and heal us.

Thank you for those you have healed and are no longer on our prayer list. Please bless those who remain in harm’s way, in depression, and in disease. Comfort those who mourn the loss of loved ones, we especially remember the Lilly family before you. Give Katherine peace, even as you receive our brother, Gene, into your presence.

The list we have placed before you is long, but incomplete. Please hear the praises and concerns of our hearts in the silence:


And now, O God, as Summer gives way to Fall, we admire your handiwork. We admire the beauty of East Tennessee. We thank you for the protection the mountains afford us even as we ask that you would be with those who are being hit by hurricane after hurricane—especially those who in places like Haiti. where protective options are few. Be with all, Christian and nonChristian alike, who reach out to people in such cavernous need. Bless your missionaries. Bless organizations that exist for kingdom purposes. Bless our enemies and help us to be agents of grace in their lives.

We pray together the prayer that you taught us.