Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Scenes from a Dedication

I've never planned this sort of event. I spent the week with the question "Is it appropriate?" rummaging around in me. What is the appropriate level of sentimentality? What is the appropriate level of celebration? Do we mention how much big givers gave? Do they want to be mentioned or would they prefer to be anonymous?

Those questions were more stressful than I anticipated but on the night of the event I felt to me like we struck the right note. There are always things I would plan differently ... but we don't get do-overs for things like this.

All of these pictures are courtesy of Lorna. Thanks, Lorna. There was no way I could photograph this event. So, dear reader, feel free to get a brief glimpse of the big event.Tom Root and Glenn Diamond entertained us with a few songs to get the evening rolling. I enjoy Tom's music and it fit the occasion perfectly. Thanks, Tom and Glenn.I called the Pam and Ron earlier in the week to see if they would drive from Maryville for the event. They did! It was great to see them. I'm still working on getting them to move back to Johnson City. I'm seeing no signs of it yet, but I'm a man of faith. After sitting with Carla and Larry they had to be contemplating a return. Didn't they?
Here we see David and Donna chatting with Norton, the father of Charles (whose memory we honored Sunday night).
Best of friends! Helen and Bethany always light up the room.

It looks to me like Heather is sharing a secret with Ross and Gina. Most of you know the secret, but I won't put it on my blog.

Owen looks like he's thinking, "I want that balloon. I need a plan."
Charlotte and Cindy share a hug as daughter and mother of the man we honored.
Emmanuel's Dean looks like he's sharing plans with the future President of Emmanuel.
My lovely wife chats with Peggy and her precocious son (he's a riot).

Amanda and Dr. Dennis. I love this picture. Jennifer places the plaque during the prayer of dedication.

Thanks to all of you who were able to share in the occasion.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tomorrow's Offering

With the pride of the Aussies, Dr. Gordon Moyes, preaching tomorrow I am not in the midst of sermon prep today. However, the dedication ceremony for tomorrow night is proving to be chocked full of little details.

Welcome, Dr. Moyes.

Prayers of the Church for Grandview
27 July 2008

Glorious God, who joined together the spheres of the earth while the heavenly hosts sang in praise of your marvelous works, look kindly upon this gathering as we join our voices to theirs. Great are you. Holy are you. Majestic is the wind of your presence blowing across the face of the earth, giving life and more life as it dances through our souls, our relationships, and your church.

You are never without a witness. Grant us the humbling, the overwhelming, grace to a part of that witness; to be a part of your reign. Bring the kernel of your kingdom, planted within us, to its fullest flowering. Help us to be a kingdom of love, joy, and peace even while we are surrounded by the kingdoms of this world; the kingdoms of self, of greed, of fear, of narrow justice, of race and tribe and clan.

Forgive us for relying upon these phony fiefdoms when you have offered your Son, the way, the truth, and the life. Forgive us for doing nothing when we knew we should be serving. Forgive us for thinking only of ourselves when we were needed in someone else’s life.

How can we worship you without being moved to mission ourselves? How can we worship the one who exchanged the glory of heaven for the condemnation of the cross so that the world would know you, and then keep that love to ourselves?

So, this morning we invite you to cultivate passion in us; passion for your kingdom as we sing, as we pray, as offer ourselves to you, as we hear your word spoken, and as we eat and drink in this, the new kingdom established by the death, burial, and resurrection of your Son.

We are hear from all over the world, this morning. We have more requests and praises than can be shared in a single gathering. Please hear the thoughts of our hearts in the silence:


Be with the sick, the suffering, those blissfully unaware of you, those who are in harm’s way for our sake, the depressed, the grieving ones, and grant to the dying a peaceful death.

We pray together, the prayer of the kingdom, as you have taught us:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I Get A Belt Out Of You

The baggy pants controversy has arrived in Johnson City. The television news reported this morning that there may be attempts to outlaw baggy pants as obscene. While I am no fan of the fad, I want to come to the defense of these beltless bad boys.

If we stop and think for just a minute we will see that such a law would be very bad. There are benefits to this floppy fashion that many people are overlooking.Benefits of the Droopy Drawer Dysfunction:
  1. Immediate Recognition: At a glance I can tell how bright a person is. I know this is prejudicial and bigoted, but before you protest ask yourself if you don't do the same thing. Would you buy a used car from a guy whose underwear is more visible than his eyes? No. You wouldn't.
  2. No Tight Pants Expectations: Fashions have a way of spilling over by degree. When I was young tight pants were all the rage. Even our teachers were snug in some ... ahem ... uncomfortable places. Then the babyboomers gained a few pounds and needed a "skoatch more room" in their Levis. I like that it's fashionable to have more room in my britches. If I have to choose between wearing loose fit jeans and tight, white, disco pants you're going to wish baggy-pant fashion was back.
  3. Law Enforcement: Baggy pants make it easier for ne'er-do-wells to hide weapons from police officers, but I'm guessing the police have pretty much figured that out. On the other hand, running from the police has an added level of difficulty when your pants are around knees. Again ... you have to wonder how smart some of baggy pants criminals are. Also, I suspect that finding the gun in their caverness pockets is no small task. By the time Crack-Thaw McGraw pulls the gun out of his pants the police will have the drop on him. Trust me.
  4. Just the Thugs?: And now we get to the most difficult aspect of this law. If we outlaw baggy pants only outlaws will have baggy pants. Are we going to apply the law only to those who are fashionably baggy? What about middle-aged white guys who really should get bigger pants and a stronger belt? I grew up on the construction site and the fines that the police would have been forced to levy would erase the national debt.
I know baggy-panted boys can be annoying but outlawing this fashion is overkill. Relax, law makers. I would prefer you demand a sidewalk be built on South Roan so that women pushing strollers and old people in wheel chairs on their way to the grocery store don't have to be IN THE STREET.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Coming this Sunday Night ...

Plans are coming together for the dedication of the Grandview Room and Kitchen this Sunday night. If you want a sneak peak at the slide show, just hit play. You'll see some familiar faces, some of our friends who are no longer with us, and some older pictures. Things sure have changed a lot around here in the past five years. Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Christian Standard Article

For those of you who don't get a chance to pick up and read the Christian Standard every week, you probably missed Grandview's little moment in the sun. Darrel Rowland did a nice article on us in the July 20th issue. If you would like to read it, just follow the link. Christian Standard.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tomorrow's Offering

Another week has passed without any posts ... it must be summer.

Tomorrow's sermon is almost ready. I will be mentioning the blog in the introduction because I'll project two pictures that have been on the blog already. If you remember the pictures of the Country Gospel Music Church and the New Regenerated Holiness Church Number 2, then you can take a little nap during the intro.

It was a good week. We got our girls back (more about that in a later post) from New Mexico. Thanks to my sister and her family for hosting them. Thanks to Dad and Wendy for making the trek from Indy to JC to bring the girls to our front step.

Much to do. I haven't proofed it yet so please be gracious! Here is the prayer:

Prayers of the Church for Grandview
20 July 2008

God, who waits for us while we try to get our minds around what it means to love you by living kingdom lives, thank you for your splendid patience. Thank you for nurturing us and those who came before us in the gospel—in the great news of your love for us, for people we love, and for our enemies. Praise and honor and glory to you for announcing the news to us in the flesh; broken and bleeding though it was!

It is in our nature to grow used to that message, to stand before the cross and say to ourselves, “Yes, of course. This is just what God does. Should we have expected less?” But then there are times, O God, when we glimpse our depravity and our sin, when we realize just how many people we’ve hurt, how many relationships were ended on account of our stupid rebellion; when we realize how much good we could have done if we weren’t consumed with selfishness. At such moments we stand frightened, in awe and wonder of you and what you did in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

Forgive us our sins. Be patient with us. Help us to become the people and the community you have called us to be. As we embrace your forgiveness help us to be kind and gracious to people who, like us, are sinners.

Bless those on our prayer list. We need you so much. We need healing, strength, protection, resolve, joy, sound hearts, sound minds, and sound bodies. When it is our time to die, we even need your help to die well. Send your Holy Spirit upon us. Pour it out upon all flesh, male and female, Jew and Greek, slave and free.

In the silence we offer you the praises and petitions of our hearts:


Hear our prayers, O Lord. Bless the missionaries we support. 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 life in the fields of the earth where wheat and weeds grow together. Help us to be missionaries to our homes, our jobs, and our cities.

We are bold to pray as you have taught us to pray:

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tomorrow's Offering

After a two week lay off, I return to the pulpit tomorrow. The pulpit was ably filled by Jeff Miller and then by Bob Hull during my absence (thanks Jeff and Bob!).

Tomorrow's sermon is on the parable(s) of the four soils. I wrote a fun story about Jake and the Beanstalk for the sermon, but it didn't quite work. It was too complicated and wound up not really making the point I wanted to make. My friend told me not to use it (thanks, Robbie). That' s always a bummer when you put work into a story only to discover it doesn't do what you wanted it to do.

Have no fear, though! Robbie re-launched me in a better direction. I like this sermon. It allowed me to revisit some of the kids who were important to me in my youth ministry. This sermon became more personal to me than most.

Knowing that I would be out of town for most of this week, I asked Willy to write the pastoral prayer (she writes very thoughtful prayers). That means I won't be posting it unless she gives me a copy.

In place of the prayer I will post my opening story from tomorrow's sermon:

Sermon Text: Matthew 13:1-24
Reading this story from Jesus I couldn’t help but remember my days in the youth ministry. That’s because youth tend not to hide the kind of soil they are as well as adults. Some youth are positively wild about making sure you know which one they are. They can’t wait to make sure somebody … anybody!... knows who they are and what they’re about.

I think of Hardison (names are changed, but it should be obvious why I picked the name Hardison). Hardison was hard packed soil if ever there was. I knew him when he was around fifteen years old. He had dark, shoulder-length hair, alert (but hurting) eyes, and he sported a continual, protective smirk. He was nice enough but you got the sense that life was about to turn those hurting eyes into a deeper, longer lasting, set of eyes that just fumed with anger.

I think he only came around the church because he had run out of other places to hang out. He couldn’t hang out at home for some reason. His parents appeared love him, but despite being psychologists, they seemed to have no idea what to do with or about him. I don’t say that to cast stones at psychologists, by the way. There are plenty of parents who want to do what is best for their kids but who find themselves unable to figure out what in the world that is.

Hardison never came to youth group or youth events. He made it clear to me that he was not going to be coaxed into church. He preferred to visit me during the week. Hardison enjoyed plopping down in my office and chatting. He liked to ask me what I was doing in order to tell me why I was wrong for doing it—hoping for a reaction.

“Watcha working on?”

“Sunday night’s lesson.”

“What’s it on?”


“Oh. I don’t pray. I’m a Wiccan.”

“Wiccan’s pray, Hardison.” I said. “You’ve heard of Wicca, but you’re no Wiccan.”

“I know. I was just testing you.”

That’s how things went with Hardison. The idea that maybe God had shared with humans what is good versus what is not good made no sense to him. If I had said, “Hardison, the world really does work the way God says it does. God tells us that drunkenness does damage to us, and that goes for drugs, too. The stuff you’re getting into won’t lead you anywhere you want to go. When you get older you’ll either regret what you’re experimenting with now, or you’ll be too mean to admit the regret. God is king. The reason we should listen to him is that he offers real wisdom regarding life on earth.” I said that, by the way, but never all at once.

Such suggestions would cause him to roll his eyes and walk away. I walked a fine line with Hardison.

After I left that church Hardison kept coming around to see my successor, Bob, even as his life began to slide into more and more difficulties. One day Bob had to talk Hardison into turning himself into the police. Hardison was in trouble for possession with intent to distribute and for burglary (I think). To escape the police he was living in the small woods near the church building.

Hard-packed Soil. Whenever he heard about God’s kingdom and living as though God really did know what was best for us, the message made no sense. The evil one snatched it way.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Quick Picture Post

I really have been trying to focus on my dissertation, thus I have neglected posting much. The trip up here has been busy and fruitful (I hope). Here are some pics with brief explanations.

If you look closely you will see our own Ben Cachiaras speaking at the NACC on the opening night. He did a good job.So did Cam Huxford when he preached that night.
Grandview was well represented at the NACC. I got to sit next to the Allbees.
Then I met the youth just south of Cincinnati while they were on their way back to Johnson City. They looked like they had a good time, but were worn out. They went the rest of the way home without Meghan.
Meghan joined me for the rest of the convention. We even got ice cream in Fountain Square...
... where they appear to have statues to honor people with sweaty palms.
One night we skipped the preaching to go to a Reds game. On our way to the park we saw Bill Greer and he took a picture for us.
And while enjoyed the game, I fell asleep a couple of times. Baseball does that to me.
Meghan was on display in the Youth In Ministry booth of the Teen Convention.
And I had the opportunity to go to workshops. This one was led by Thom Rainer.
Then I took Meghan to Indianapolis to reunite her with her sisters and cousins...
... where we spent July 4th with my sister's in-laws, before sending the girls to New Mexico to visit more cousins (and an aunt and uncle).
After that I returned to Wilmore to work on my dissertation and to see the Phillips moved into their new digs on campus. Here is Will enjoying their new Beeson couch.
On Sunday morning I worshiped at Southland Christian Church, where I heard Mike Breaux preach, then I hurried over to Hill-N-Dale Christian Church to hear Phil Roberts. It was great to see and hear him in action and to have lunch with his family (including Dave and Donna) after church.
Now I should quit blogging and get back to work ...