Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Coming On Sunday

On Sunday I will be revisiting the story of Grandview and the reasons we expanded the building back in 2004, so I put together this slideshow with pictures taken (mostly) from 2004. A word of warning, it's a long video. Special thanks to The Isaac Schade Band for the use of their music.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sweep the Leg, Johnny.

If you grew up in the 1980s then you'll enjoy this video. My friend, Robbie, showed this to me. The rock group, No More Kings, creates an homage to The Karate Kid. The video tries to do too much (Karate Kid, Raising Arizona, and an old Cars video), but I enjoyed it anyway. If you've ever practiced the Crane Kick then this video is for you (a word or two of warning, it is about 8 minutes long and it's a bit more risque' than most of the things I post).

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Tomorrow's Offering

The cold/flu bug is beginning to break and I am THANKFUL. I can actually breathe without hearing snap, crackle, and pop in my lungs.

Tomorrow's sermon still needs work, but will focus on Peter, Andrew, James, and John and their response to Jesus. Their lives were changed in amazing ways because they responded to his call.

Anyway, here is tomorrow's prayer.

Prayers of the Church for Grandview
January 27, 2008

Timeless God, living in darkness, we have seen a great light; living in the land of the shadow of death your light has dawned. Your kingdom rises like the sun. We see your light refracted through the lives of saints who have bent their purposes to yours; who have dismantled their vain idols and offered you the throne of their hearts.

Your kingdom rises on the harmonies and melodies of songs offered to you, upon prayers uttered from the depths of our souls, upon greetings exchanged in your name, and upon every act of worship by your people.

Your kingdom rises in the healing of the sick, the comfort of the grieving, the hope of the downtrodden, the freeing of the captive. Let your kingdom come in the lives of those on our prayer list this morning. Let them experience your power in magnificent ways.

Your kingdom rises when, by the power of your Spirit, we finally offer ourselves to you; releasing to you our hopes, visions, dreams, and every last corpuscle of our being. Forgive us when we cling to our idols, be they worthless idols or idols of great value. What difference should their value make when we stand in your presence? Forgive us when we work so hard and keep so busy that we don’t hear your voice.

Help our minds to grow quiet and to focus upon you in the silence.


Please continue to bless Grandview. You have gathered many gifts into this room. Help us to use them for you. You have gathered many people into this room, some are lonely, some are exhausted from the pace of life, some are struggling with the same sin day after day yearning to experience the freedom that only you can give. Some are filled with peace, experiencing times of great joy and health. Lord, out of our various difficulties and circumstances, make us into at least a ray of that bright and shining light that is your kingdom.

We don’t just pray that you would bless us. We humbly ask you to bless all bodies of believers who call upon your name. Give them great joy in your service. Bless all the churches who are gathering this morning in this city, on this continent, and around the world.

Lastly, we don’t just pray that you would bless those who call upon your name. By the power of your Spirit and by our trust in your ability to work your will upon earth, we pray that you would bless our enemies.

With one voice, O God, we pray as you have taught us:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

In Case You Missed It...

Occasionally I still get questions such as, "Is it scary to preach to so many people with biblically and theologically based Ph.D.s?" I've discovered over the past 9 1/2 years that people don't need Ph.D.s to be critical. Funny how easily you can disappoint people, regardless of their levels of education. At the end of the day, I simply couldn't preach at Grandview if it weren't for the grace of God and the grace of those listening, be they listening with magna-doodles or magna cum lauds.

The reason I bring this up today is that I wanted to point any interested blog readers to a recent article by Grandview's Bob Hull. He is a New Testament scholar (Princeton) and the dean of Emmanuel School of Religion. His wife reads my blog sometimes (thanks, Loretta!). I know this will get back to him.

The first time I met Bob Hull I was flummoxed by his intimidating presence. My friend, Tom, told me that I would really appreciate Dr. Hull when I met him. Because he was sabbatical when I arrived at Emmanuel, I didn't meet him until the summer following my first year. I saw him in the hallway. Tall. Conservatively dressed. Serious. I approached him in my all my Hoosier-icity.

"Dr. Hull." I called from behind him. He stopped, slowly turned, and looked in my direction. "I'm Aaron Wymer, Tom Swift's youth minister in Jonesborough. I just wanted to introduce myself to you because Tom speaks so highly of you and tells me I will enjoy your classes."

And there we were. Mutt and Jeff in the hall of ESR. His eyes peered quietly from their perch far above my own. He held his paper in both hands and said, "Thank you. It's nice to meet you." That's all he said.

But he stood there.

I stood there.

It was quiet in that hallway.

In that moment I had the feeling he was looking through my skull at something on the carpet behind me. I thought, "This was a mistake." Then I thought, "He can read my thoughts. He knows I just thought that this was a mistake."

Over fifteen years later I now know that his sometimes intimidating silence, his knowledge, and his presence are stuffed into the body of a churchman, a choir member, and a devout lover of humor and of the ever challenging truth of God in Christ.

That's why I point you to his recent article on war that appeared in the January 20th, 2008 edition of the Christian Standard. Just click here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Midweek Miscellaneous

Congratulations, Robbie! Robbie was selected by to be a Beeson Pastor at Asbury and will be uprooting his family and heading to Wilmore in June or July. I'm extremely pleased for him, though I will miss him. Robbie and I meet together regularly to speak honestly to each other and to hold each other accountable (I expect some blogging, Robbie, as you visit cool places and sit through long hours of lectures, and read, and read, and read ... and write.)

I'm hoping that the church he serves, Harrison Christian Church, will make his time a sabbatical and not a good-bye. I would like for him to return to Johnson City.

Too Attached

I don't like to take medicine. I've known pharmacists who avoid medicine as much as possible because they are familiar with the side effects. But this past week, side effects or no side effects, I've been taking Advil Cold and Sinus with regularity. It helped me make it through Sunday morning's two services. I have been fortunate in the past because my colds have tended not to reach their peak on Sundays. Not this week!

Elders Retreat
I think the Friday/Saturday Elders Retreat made the cold worse. We were gathered together in a cold building while talking about stressful things. I never sleep well, but when you add cold symptoms to a room full of snoring ... well ... it's a recipe for a nasty cold.

I would say more about the retreat, but time doesn't permit. Suffice it to say that we are in the process of anticipating the financial needs of Grandview as the financial commitments from the building campaign begin to reach their goal. Both campaigns have reached their goals and we've been blessed to have committed people giving to Grandview. Still ... anytime a church builds there are financial issues that loom.

Family Visit
I'm sorry not to have pictures, but we had a nice visit this past weekend with my sister and her family. My brother-in-law was baptized on Saturday night and it was my honor to get to be a part of that. Amy and Rick have three wonderful daughters (hey, Rick, I know how you feel as the father of three daughters!). They were able to stay with us through Monday morning. It's always a treat to watch my nieces and nephews growing.

There is so much more to be said, but I have to some of the writing I actually get paid to do, instead of hanging out on the blog.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Sunday's Offering

It's time for the annual Elders Retreat. That means I need to post this now, because I won't have time on Saturday.

We continue our series on the impact Jesus had on those who came into relationship with him. This week we will look at the difficulty the family of Jesus faced during his ministry. His life and his relationship with them must have been baffling to them.

Here's the prayer:

Prayers of the Church for Grandview
January 20, 2008

God, our Father, we assemble before you yet again in awe and reverence to worship you. Often we have felt like people on the outside, prevented from seeing your face because of the crowds around you. Often we have felt the best we could do was to send word to you through other people, people who were privileged to be close to you. But in your wisdom you have made one race out of all the races, one family out of all the families, one nation of priests out of misfits and foreigners.

Lead us, O God, from individualism and tribalism into the wideness of your mercy. In the short silence, remind us of the people we have failed to love and failed to forgive.

Lead us, O God, from the temptation to imagine that we can create you in our own image; a Jesus just as tall as us, just as narrow as us, just as limited as us. In the short silence remind us of the power of God in Christ.

Lead us, O God, from being insiders into being missionaries, going out from your presence to love, to invite, and to serve. In the short silence, show us the people you would have us hold dear.

Lead us, O God, from loyalties that are too small; from agendas that are undersized and inwardly focused; from plans made in our interests. In the short silence, if you will, show us the plans that you have made.

Lead us, O God, to minister to the needs of those on our prayer list. Help us to bring hope, joy, comfort, peace, protection, and healing as much as we are able. Even as we ask this, we are aware that when we do our best we still leave much in your hands. And so we ask you to be present in power and in peace.

Lead us, O God, to minister to the needs of our missionaries. Grant fidelity and strength to the Coleys, Freelands, Headens, McDades, Nyadors, Veals, Orths and to the Jacksons and Colemans as they prepare to serve you in places foreign to us, but known to you. Bless all who leave their homes and who practice the redefinition of family that you proclaimed to us in your Son.

We pray together as Jesus of Nazareth taught us:

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Midweek Miscellaneous

TRAVeling Man: I got a great visit this past weekend from Trav, one of my Beeson brothers. Jason (not pictured) visited as well. I suspected that Trav would really enjoy the Gray Fossil Site. And, since I had yet to go, it made for the perfect Saturday afternoon event. Here is Trav in front of the tour guide as we listen to the story of the pit where the Tapir fossils were uncovered.Cora joined us at the Miocene Epoch fossil site. I was really impressed with this place. If you come visit me I will show it to you!Global warming or not, the Miocene was a warmer time in Tennessee. Back then we had Gators this far north!
Of course, we Gators still inhabit East Tennessee.
The Unleashing:Tonight (Tuesday) was a good night at Grandview. Our own Jason Bembry launched the English as a second language (ESL) classes. This was in response to concerns he has had as well as our focus on Reaching Out in Relationships.

I believe we are getting ready to do some wonderful things and that this is just one example of the unleashing of ministry at Grandview. This doesn't happen easily or accidentally. It will continue to be a process, but it is exciting to see how God might use us to bless Johnson City.

The GED/tutoring is beginning to grow some legs as well.

The Year of Aaron Becomes The Year of ALSO aaRAN:
Well, the last hope of recovery went down in miserable flames in Indianapolis on Sunday. The Colts were heavy favorites to beat the Chargers but, like the Gators against Michigan, their defense was horrible. Now I want anybody but the Patriots to win the Superbowl ... anybody.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Tomorrow's Offering

Tomorrow's sermon will focus on the impact Jesus had on John the Baptist. It's the first in a series of sermons what contact and/or a relationship with Jesus did to people. There is much left to be done on this sermon, but it will get done.

I spent a big chunk of yesterday at the emergency room. Please be in prayer for Micheal. He was working on his car when it backfired and caused a gasoline fire. He received 2nd and 3rd degree burns on the back of his hands, on his face, and on the top of his head. They flew him to Winston-Salem for further treatment. He has three beautiful daughters and a son (who had surgery this past week). Come to think of it, don't just pray for Micheal, pray for his wife and family as well. Special thanks to Fred Norris, Gene Nix, and Craig Hardy for coming to the emergency room as well. We are blessed at Grandview.

I've got to get back to work now (I'm missing the work day at church this morning). Here's tomorrow's prayer:

Prayers of the Church for Grandview
January 10, 2008

O God, surrounded by the rumble of your approval, the caress of your Holy Spirit, and the punctured heavens, your Son, Jesus, and your servant, John, shared a taste of your glorious light. Oh, that we might enjoy such visions of your presence! When we are in the wilderness of despair we yearn to see you roll up your sleeves, peal away the sacramental veils of heaven, and give us a glimpse of your grandeur. For such moments we give you praise.

O God, surrounded by the deafening absence of your voice, the empty touch of death, and the gaping loneliness of a prison cell, your servant, John, wondered aloud whether or not you were at work. Dangling from timber, cruelly configured as a cross, as you turned your face away, your Son wondered why you had forsaken him. Even for such moments as this we give you praise, even if we struggle with the faintness of that praise.

Lord, remember the promises of life and joy that you made to your people. Deliver on those promises; even as you help us to remember our promises to you; even as you give us the strength to be faithful to the promises we made in our baptisms and the promises we make when we gather around your table.

Forgive us when we mistake glitter for joy; when we exchange fidelity for fun; when we pursue your gifts instead of you.

We come before you with our usual requests. Some of them seem to go unnoticed and we grow weary. We don’t quit asking. Give a peaceful and timely death to those whose who are dying. Give strength and health to those who have grown weak through sickness. Give new life to those who have grown weary. Give comfort and peace to those who have suffered the piercing pain of grief. Give respite to your servants who have depleted themselves in your service. Give grace to sinners. Give fortification and protection for those who are standing in harm’s way.

Those are the gifts we seek. More than all of these, we just need you. In the silence, please give us of yourself.


We gather our resolve and ask that you would bless our enemies, be they personal enemies or the kind that seek utterly to destroy us. May your grace flood their souls and ours as with one voice your people pray the prayer that your Son taught us:

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Midweek Miscellaneous

Buckeye Bereavement: Here is some blog-kindness for my friend Buckeye Bryan. He knows I'm happy that the SEC asserted itself, via LSU, in the championship game this week. Despite my conference loyalties, I am beginning to feel his pain. No fan should have to endure three straight second-place finishes in national championship games. So, here's to Brutus, the best inanimate mascot in the nation!

Tame that Tiger, Lynch that Lion: Golf Channel announcer, Kelly Tilghman, made a huge gaff this past week, costing her a two week suspension. During a time of mindless banter with analyst Nick Faldo she said that in order to stop Tiger Woods from winning the other players might have to take him into an alley and "lynch" him. Some in the African American community are upset with her.

My suspicion is that she simply isn't aware of the history of that word. She and the African American community should sue the school system in which she was reared. The real problem is that our words are bandied about without regard to what they mean until we suddenly realize that a word has a more specific meaning than we thought. This kind of thing happens to all of us. I don't doubt I have words and phrases I need to re-examine.

When I was a youth minister in Jonesborough there was a member who told me how upset one of my predecessors had made a man in the church. My predecessor (young Fred Norris!) once mentioned from the pulpit that he was "wet behind the ears." The older member was scandalized that Norris had used a birth metaphor from the pulpit. I remember thinking, "Ohhhhhhh...that's a BIRTH metaphor!"

How many Christian colleges have the "Crusaders" as a mascot? If I were an alumni of one I would write a letter asking them to change it. Yes. That mascot is worth changing, but I suspect some of the folks at these colleges watched the towers in NY fall without ever connecting the crusades and current hostilities.

Education, not attitude, is the issue for some would-be bigots. In 1999 an employee in the mayor's office of Washington D.C. lost his job for using the word "niggardly." In this case the lack of education was on the part of some of the hearers, not the speaker. The word has no roots in racism. Like southerners in the minds of many northerners, it's just guilty of sounding racist.

I still can't believe that the football team in Washington D.C. can be called the "Redskins" while someone in the mayor's office is getting fired for using a word that sounds vaguely racist to the untrained ear. It's time I start a movement to change the name of the Washington Redskins to the "Washington Whities". You have to admit, the name and the logo, and the uniforms have real possibilities.

Well, that's enough for today ...

Monday, January 07, 2008

Have We Met?

In my years in the ministry I have developed a habit. I'm not sure if it's a healthy one. When I am asked to officiate at a funeral I seem unwilling to stop myself from thinking back to the first time I met the person who has died. Sometimes I remember that meeting. Sometimes I do not.

When my mom's mom first held me we didn't know I would speak at her funeral. When my dad's dad first saw me, he didn't know that he had met the one who would officiate at his funeral. When my uncle took me to the Indianapolis Racers hockey game neither of us suspected. When Tom took me to meet Owen so that he could teach me to read Greek, nothing could have been farther from our minds.

Last week it was Shirley. I don't remember the first time I met her. I just remember what a positive presence she brought with her to Central Christian Church in Jonesborough, even during tough times. We just laughed together, worshiped together, and survived some of the ordeals of church life together.

As the stories begin to pile, one atop another, I treasure each one as a sacred gift that comes with the blessing and privilege of being allowed to serve in the ministry.

I also consider it a reminder. The stories remind me that I don't know if I've met the one who will officiate at my funeral. Has that person been born yet? Is that person older than me? Is it a friend or relative? Will that person have found me to be a welcoming and gracious person, or aloof and distracted?

I don't find this habit morbid. God moves us in and out of circles, weaves us into each other's lives, all while calling us forward for his purposes. We get the joy of being surprised by the different people who ascend to important places in our lives, saddened sometimes by those who diminish.

When I meet the person who will lead my funeral (or if I already have met that person), I hope that I am a blessing to him or her.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Tomorrow's Offering

Tomorrow's sermon is on Ephesians 3:1-12, kind of. In some (legitimate) ways the text is a jumping off point to talk about the broader issue of what the church is supposed to be. It is a good sermon, I think, but has had a strange life in terms of preparation.

In my prayer tomorrow I mention Greg and Allison Coley (pictured below), who are missionaries we support in Thailand. I always enjoy being around them and I found out today that they have a new member of the family, Jack, whom they adopted recently. I look forward to meeting him in April when they come to visit us at Grandview.
Now to the prayer:

Prayers of the Church for Grandview
January 6, 2008

Eternal God, you are more ready to hear than we are to pray. You know what is needed before we think to ask. Look upon us, seeking in common prayer your light for our path, your strength for our hearts, and your comfort for most acute pains. Give us, we pray, your listening ear, your responsive will, and bring such answer to each sincere prayer as each of us needs as individuals and as all of us need as one body, knit together in the image of your Son.

Forgive us when we tear the sutures your Spirit has so painstakingly woven between us. Forgive us when we become silhouettes of the body of Christ, moving like shadows through this world with no substance, body, no blood. Put skin and skeleton to this body. Let the fingers of the church move at your will, in concert with the hand and the head. Let the feet of the church follow your paths in faith, with willing legs and watchful eyes.

On this day when we celebrate the adulthood of that baby boy who was born to Mary, placed in a manger, and reared in Nazareth, help us to dedicate ourselves to you and your purposes in this world you have so beautifully provided. Like Jesus rising from the waters of the Jordan, in the hands of John, let our resolution be to persevere in the battle to declare the victory of God over sin and death.

Remember those on our prayer list, O God, and give comfort to those weakened by life, healing to the sick, protection for those in violent situations, holy friendship to those who are lonely, harmony to those who grieve, and a peaceful death to those whose time to die is near.

Lord, hear the supplications we make to you in the stillness of this place:


Bless Greg and Allison Coley while they are on furlough and away from Thailand. May they be refreshed during this time and may their newest son, Jack, be fully membered into their family.

With one voice, we pray as your Son taught us:

Thursday, January 03, 2008

2008? You may as well come on in...

Though I'm a couple of days late, Happy New Year to those of you who frequent my blog. Thanks for stopping by to read the most disjointed blog on the web.

Usually I begin the New Year by thinking reflectively on the past year's highs and lows (I did write a reflective post on Monday, but decided it wasn't much of a New Year's). To shake things up, I think I will list the worst stories of 2008:

  1. My Gators were exposed by the lowly Michigan Wolverines. I was so disgruntled at half-time that I went outside, got a tall ladder, and cleaned the windows.
  2. Cold weather swooped-in to East Tennessee and my toes are freezing. When I drive my Oldsmobile Alero it sounds like an ice cube tray being twisted and emptied.
  3. It's 2008 and there is still find no acceptable cure for baldness and shortness. That, and one-man jet packs aren't in common use. What good is the future if I can't be tall, be-haired, and flying? We might as well be living in 3000 BC!
  4. I've only been to bed before 1 a.m. once this year--but I'm up by 5:30 every morning.
  5. My friend Jim couldn't make it over the mountain to see me on his way back to Houston because of threat of snow. Bummer.
  6. The Indiana Pacers have lost 5 in a row. New Year, my foot.
  7. When I went to workout yesterday I didn't have the pepper. My workout was pedestrian at best.
  8. My New Year's resolution was to put things where they go (i.e. don't just set a piece of paper on my desk and hope to find it later). I've already misplaced something by absent-mindedly laying it aside.
  9. I don't have a number nine. Maybe that's a good sign!
  10. I begin the year missing one of my best friends ever.
The Year of Aaron (with its joyful return to Grandview, its multiple Gator championships, its Tim Tebow Heisman, its Red Sox championship) has morphed into The Year of Patience. I probably shouldn't judge a year by its first two days, though.

Maybe the next 2 days of 2008 will be better!*

*Please don't try to encourage me to look on the bright side ... all but number 10 are tongue-in-cheek.