Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wild Adventures: Youth Week Day 1

I know that Wild Adventures has zoo animals and a petting zoo but the wildest part of the day yesterday might just have been the restroom stop at Country Boys Mini Mall in Bristol, GA! Sketchy doesn't even begin to describe this place. You know you might need to keep driving when everyone at the "Mini Mall" is wearing less than adequate clothing or properly worn clothing and there are a gang of motorcycle riders (not the business man/weekend rider type) outside.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Youth Week 2010

I am super pumped about the "wicked awesome" Youth Week we have planned for 2010!! Josh Burnham, a good friend is going to be speaking and our worship band will be leading us in worship this week. I can't wait to hear what God has laid on Josh's heart for our students and see how God works this week. We are kicking things off with a trip to Wild Adventures in Valdosta tomorrow (how I loathe theme parks!).

Wednesday: Worship @ 5:30 PM followed by the 135th annual Redneck Olympics

Thursday: Mexican Frisbee at Mill Creek @ 9:30 in the AM (Ultimate Frisbee and lunch at El Som)

Friday: Worship @ 7 PM with game night/Lock-In to follow (Lock-In)is for Rising 7-9th graders only!

Can't wait to see God rock our faces off this week!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Boston Mission Team Part 2




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Boston Mission Team part 1




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Books, Quotes, and Memories

I have recently read a couple of books that were not so great and a couple that were. I won't bore you with the not so great ones, but I would like to offer a few insights from the others.

Margaret Feinberg is an author who is like a younger, more orthodox version of Anne Lamott or a female version of Frederick Buechner. She has a unique gift of taking the everyday, the mundane and shedding new light on it. It seems to me that that is most like God and the stories of the Bible. God uses a bush to call Moses. He uses bread and fish to feed people (physically and spiritually). Her book Organic God was a short, simply written book but with some very powerful truths and reminders for me. One that I want to share is her observations on Proverbs 14:4 "Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest." Her paraphrase was "No oxen=No poop=No profit or Oxen+Poop=Profit" (74-75).

I shared this enlightened observation with my mission team in Boston on the first night, after an early morning and a long day of travel as we geared up to have over 100 kids for sports camp. To be sure, I got some funny looks at first, but I began to talk about how everything we do in life has "poopy" parts but just like this verse says, if we don't have that then we aren't going to see the profit. For us last week the profit is the harvest, not that we were witnesses of, but the harvest of the seeds that we planted in the lives of the boys and girls we worked with each day, even the ones that tried our patience to the nth degree. Our battle cry last week became "holy poop" as we worked like oxen to be faithful to the Lord of the Harvest! I certainly won't forget that verse any time soon nor will I forget the memories of watching students get excited about sharing God's love with others.

Charles Marsh and John Perkins are two men who have spent their lives promoting awareness about the need for reconciliation between blacks and whites and the ultimate need for reconciliation of sinners to the God who fashioned them in lovingkindness. Their stories are as different as their skin but the both have so much wisdom to offer. In a recent collaborative effort, Welcoming Justice, they traced the roots of racial reconciliation in the U.S., it's decline, and the renewed need and emphasis of it. In the last chapter Perkins offers this insightful observation based on a verse from Zechariah, "God's people have to offer some kind of alternative to the brokenness around us in the world" (112).

I was amazed last week as I watched some of our students from FBC offering an alternative to the broken world that surrounded many of our campers in Boston last week. They shared stories of difficulties at home, challenges for their family, strained relationships, etc. with our students who then shared them with me or in our group time each night. As we prayed for the campers last week, I couldn't help but be reminded that we are to reflect the better life, the Christ life for all to see around us.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Johnny Cash: An American Icon

While we were visiting my parents last week, I stumbled upon a of biographical/documentary of Johnny Cash, so Dad and I were in a trance for about 2 hours! As I watched the film, I was reminded of the endearing nature of Johnny Cash to much of pop culture in America. The reality is that Cash was in many ways the proto-type version of rebels for decades to come, yet his life was as integrated with faith as his music. He oscillated between the sacred and the profane like many of the people who followed his trailblazing path in country music. Indeed, American music (Blues, Country, folk) capture the contrast of light and dark, good and evil better than any other type of art form!

Cash was influential and well respected to say the least, but the thing that owned his life was a recognition of his identity as "a child of God" and the need to remind others of the compassion, mercy, healing, grace and redemption found in God.

A song from his renewed career at the hands of producer Rick Rubins in the late 1990s until Cash's death was part of the documentary. The song, entitled "Redemption" was one I had never heard before but it was a deeply moving song for me that night. The lyrics are below:

From the hands it came down From the side it came down From the feet it came down And ran to the ground Between heaven and hell A teardrop fell In the deep crimson dew The tree of life grew And the blood gave life To the branches of the tree And the blood was the price That set the captives free And the numbers that came Through the fire and the flood Clung to the tree And were redeemed by the blood From the tree streamed a light That started the fight 'Round the tree grew a vine On whose fruit I could dine My old friend Lucifer came Fought to keep me in chains But I saw through the tricks Of six-sixty-six And the blood gave life To the branches of the tree And the blood was the price That set the captives free And the numbers that came Through the fire and the flood Clung to the tree And were redeemed by the blood From his hands it came down From his side it came down From his feet it came down And ran to the ground And a small inner voice Said "You do have a choice." The vine engrafted me And I clung to the tree

The clip from the film showed Cash playing in a small singer/songwriter type venue with people of all ages around him who came to hear some of his legendary songs I'm sure, but even their he spoke of the theme of redemption in his own life and how his story had found meaning in the grand story of God's redemptive plan for all of creation.

Vacation to Alabama

Matching cover-ups that we used as sundresses for the the three cousins!

Charlotte, Claire, Allie

Three generations on the way to Cathedral Cavern! Never noticed how similar our walks are!

Family picture inside the cave!
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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Anna Grace

The Girls were excited to meet Anna Grace, but they weren't really sure what to do with her!

Very Sweet!!

Of Course Mom, used this as an opportunity to plead her case for a third kid!

We had a great time stopping to see Matt, Melinda, and Anna Grace on our way to Nana and Larry Papa's house last week!
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Monday, July 5, 2010

The Search for God and Guinness

I have seen a couple of reviews from friends, magazines, and online about Stephen Mansfield's book, The Search for God and Guinness so when I was in Barnes and Noble recently I asked if they had a copy and dove into it quickly. The book is an intriguing history of "the beer that changed the world." I have read a book about George W. Bush that Mansfield wrote a few years back and enjoyed his biographical writing so I thought this would be interesting as well, plus the book was published by Thomas Nelson, a Christian book publisher.

The title alone was intriguing for me on a couple of levels. Guinness is essentially the official beer of Ireland, since I am part Irish and love celebrating St. Patrick's Day with family and friends I was curious about how this brewery had "shaped the world." As a minister, I am naturally drawn to people's quest for God!

I learned a great deal about the history of beer making and the history of Guinness. What struck me most was the faith of particular members of this family who has been the keepers of one of the most recognizable brands in the world. The founder Arthur Guinness was devout man of faith who was spurred to excellence in his trade, brew master, because of the Reformation influenced faith that he embraced. He was greatly influenced by contemporary preachers of his day like George Whitefield and John Wesley. In addition to that, his descendants were tied to other great preachers and missionaries of the last two centuries, men like Charles Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, Hudson Taylor, and David Livingstone. The Guinness clan spawned many missionaries and other members of the clergy in addition to men and women who did not take their privilege, wealth or position for granted but used it to better others in need and poverty all around them. There really are too many stories to relate here, rest assured the guiding principle in the company was to give back to others be it employees, orphans, and any one else in need.

Historians have described The Protestant Ethos, the notion that anything a person puts their hands and mind to can be viewed as their gift, their offering to God, not just a minister or clergy, in great detail. It seems that Arthur Guinness and many of his descendants truly believed at the core of Christianity was this affirmation that workbenches, ledgers, blacksmith irons were just as much sacred tools as the lectern, the liturgy, and the prayers of ordained clergy. Thus they sought to offer their best efforts and promote the most good for their culture that could be found.

Don't misunderstand me or the Guinness family for blindly endorsing alcohol in general or beer in particular! What a tragedy to miss out on the story of this family and the lives that it impacted for the good, even for the sake of the gospel through it's two hundred plus years!

The Guinness Brewery was light years ahead of providing health, leisure, and educational benefits for its employees and their families. They valued and treasured family like few institutions did or even do now. At the core of their company is an unflinching belief in investing in people because they are who God has fashioned in his image.

Along the way they also impacted pop culture, The Guinness Book of World Records was originally a promotional move by the brewery as a trivia book for pubs and patrons!

Mansfield ends his fascinating account of the Guinness story by offering 5 maxims that the reader can draw from this family.
  1. Discern the ways of God for life and business.
  2. Think in terms of generations yet to come.
  3. Whatever else you do, do at least one thing very well.
  4. Master the facts before you act.
  5. Invest in those you would have invest in you.
Perhaps those are some helpful lessons for anyone, maybe even churches...