Friday, March 30, 2007

Rocking Out To Scripture Readings

I don't remember exactly how, but I stumbled across this guy's website called Scripture Rock. He plays bluesy-style guitar music and sings passages word-for-word. The music's not great, but it's ok. Next time I'm teaching on one of these passages I might whip out one of this guy's songs.

He calls himself "Nahum", and has been in a band called the B-Side Prophets. The idea is that Isaiah and Jeremiah get all the attention, so they want people to take notice of the little guys in the Minor Prophets. You can listen to clips of all the songs here. My personal favorite so far is the Song of Jonah, from within the belly of the fish.

I don't expect to hear him on the radio next to Timberlake "bringin Scripture back", but at least the guy's trying to do something positive. I've found that I listen to the words as music more easily than I can read them in some cases. See what you think.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Lego Bible

I want to pass on a link that Matt Dabbs put on his blog. It is called the "Brick Testament". It is where some minister has been recreating huge numbers of the Biblical narratives and teachings using legos. He is disturbingly good at this. I wish I would have known about a lot of these when I was teaching certain portions of the Old Testament. There will be a series of pictures for each section that illustrate the Bible verse by verse. It's really amazing!

You can see it here.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

We're moving to Tennessee

After several months of consideration, thought, and prayer, Carolina and I have decided to move to Tennessee. I will be starting a new job, working as an associate minister for the Old Hickory Church of Christ. I will be in charge of youth, education, and I'll be preaching once per month.

Their current preacher, Don Loftis, has been there for 15 years, and their last youth minister left them in May of '06, so I hope I can bring him some help and relief. The congregation is about 350 members with 6 elders, and it's located very near where I grew up. I played little league baseball about 4 miles from where the building is.

For several years now, I thought that the hardest thing I had ever done was asking Carolina's father (in Spanish) for permission to marry his daughter. Even though I spent several days thinking and praying about how I would announce this to the Rose Bud congregation, where I've been preaching for a little over three years, I just couldn't keep my composure. Leaving them is turning out to be about the hardest thing I've ever done.

I came to Arkansas in 1999 to go to Harding University. They hired me to preach for them in January 2004 at the age of 23. It was always hard to convince outsider people that I was old enough to be the preacher, but the people at Rose Bud have always believed in me, and have supported me the whole way through. I am convinced that I'll never be as close to another congregation as I feel to the people at Rose Bud. Carolina and I have no family here. I don't understand rural culture. I don't know how to ride a horse or tell what a good cow looks like. But they have gone out of their way to become like our family, and we love them so much.

Moving to Nashville is moving close to home for me, but I worry a lot about Carolina, who is really having to start from scratch. She has so many friends in Searcy, and is so well liked around the Harding community. But we're picking up and beginning a new leg in our life's journey. It is going to be so painful to stop seeing these people from week to week. At the same time, I think there are some great opportunities at Old Hickory that will challenge me in some new and different ways. Through all of these experiences, I'm convined that I'll become a more well-rounded person.

This has been a very hard decision to make, but we believe we have made the right one. The people at Rose Bud have been very supportive and loving. I knew that they would, but their kind hearts continue to overwhelm me. There are a few of the older members who I might never see again after we've moved. Talking with one of them after church whose health is declining, I just lost it and couldn't speak. I had to go to my office and weep for a few minutes. So I ask all of you--O Readers--to pray for several things:
  1. Pray for Carolina and I. We're going to make some huge changes and adjustments. We'll be much closer to my family, but Carolina is not used to being surrounded by in-laws. We're having to sell our beautiful house here in Searcy, and find a new one in Nashville. This is already stressing us out. There is much to be done.
  2. Pray for the Rose Bud Church of Christ. We've worked so hard to help strengthen this congregation, and I really want someone good to follow me so that the good work can continue when we're gone.
  3. Pray for the Old Hickory Church of Christ. I've taken this position, because I see some ways in which I really believe they need my help. I hope that God will use me to help this good congregation.
This is one of those junctures in my life where I know things will never be the same again as they are right now. I hope my years at Old Hickory will be rewarding, as they have been at Rose Bud.

Friday, March 23, 2007

It's nice to finish a final

I just took a final this morning over the class lectures and readings for Systematic Theology B. I wish I had more to blog about it, but basically, I'm just really relieved, especially because I think I did well on it. Having to be a professor and make tests has helped me as a test-taker to anticipate the kinds of questions to prepare for. He let us type our essay portion this time. Mine was 5 pages, single space. That's enough typing for now, I think. This is one less thing I have to worry about, which is nice.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Some Things Worthy of Reflection

My dear friend Terry Reeves made a post on his blog several weeks ago that I thougth was worth repeating. He has more interesting things happen to him than about anyone I know, and I appreciate that he tries to grow through his experiences. You can see the original post here. I'm pasting his reflections below. At least, I think these are his own.

I believe-
We don't have to change friends if we understand that friends change.

No matter how good a friend is, they're going to hurt you every once in awhile and, you must forgive them for that.

True friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance. Same goes for true love.

You can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life.

It's taking me a long time to become the person I want to be, and that is probably true for other people too.

You should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them.

You can keep going long after you think you can't.

We are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.

Either you control your attitude or it controls you.

Heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.

Money is a lousy way of keeping score.

My best friend and I can do anything or nothing and have the best time!

Sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you're down will be the ones to help you get back up.

Sometimes when I'm angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn't give me the right to be cruel.

Just because someone doesn't love you the way you want them to doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have.

Maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had and what you've learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated.

It isn't always enough to be forgiven by others. Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.

No matter how bad your heart is broken the world doesn't stop for your grief.

Our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.

Just because two people argue, it doesn't mean they don't love each other, and just because they don't argue, it doesn't mean they do.

You shouldn't be so eager to find out a secret. It could change your life forever.

Two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.

Your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people who don't even know you.

Even when you think you have no more to give, when a friend cries out to you - you will find the strength to help.

Credentials and diplomas on the wall do not makeyou wise or a decent human being.

The people you care about most inlife are taken from you too soon.

I believe that you do unto others as you would have them do unto you and that it is more blessed to give than to receive.



Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Looking for some thought-provoking Christian blogs?

John Dobbs has done us all such a huge favor, and has compiled an enormous list of Christian bloggers. He's included all of us from the big ones (Mike Cope and Ben Witherington III) down to the little guys like me. If you like to read good blogs, but don't know where to find them, check out John's Big List 'O Blogs.

I think I need to put my dog to sleep, but I don't want to.

Dora has been sick for a very long time. She has bad allergies, and through these allergies she has developed chronic ear problems. Her ears will swell up red and itch, and because of this she constantly flops her head back and forth, and even rubs her head on the ground and against the house. On two occassions, she's gotten a thing called a hematoma in her ear because she's been shaking her head so hard. That is where a pocket of blood forms and her ear becomes like a small balloon. When that happens--and it happened last year twice within 3 months--I have to get a $200 ear surgery done to correct it. In the end, she still has the ear problems. They're primarily affected by moisture. When it rains, her ears flare up. If we lived in Arizona, she might even be completely healthy.

We have tried three different kinds of prescription ear drops from the vet, a solution from our neighbors, another solution from my friend Ed, rubbing alcohol, baby wipes (to clean the gunk out of her ears), and at least 4 different kinds of prescription pills that she takes by mouth. I have spent a small fortune on this dog between the medicines and the ear surgeries. To try and combat her allergies, for several months last year I fed her non-allergenic dog food that runs $40/bag.

For several months now, I'm thinking that maybe we should put her to sleep. In fact, I said I was going to take her this morning, but I can't make myself do it. What makes this so hard is that her illness isn't like a cancer that's going to kill her anyway. It's like having a child who never gets over a nasty cold. She's not so miserable that she's lost her will to live. She's still very cheerful and loves to play and go for walks. We took her on a big walk yesterday afternoon.

Along with this, I think of all the time, money, and love we've invested in her. We took her to dog training school. She won't bark at other animals when we walk. She will sit and shake. We've got all kinds of toys that we've bought for her. But unfortunately, I can't justifiably continue to pour money into this dog. I really couldn't afford all that I've already had done for her. I don't feel that putting her to sleep is a mercy killing in the true sense of the idea. She isn't going to just die anyway. More than anything, I'm tired of always having a dog that I have to treat like a lab rat. There have been several periods of time where we've been giving her so many medicines that she refused to let me pet her. When she saw me, it meant something was going in her ears, so she would run from me. When she sees anything that resembles a medicine bottle in my hand, she still runs.

So what do I do? Everyone I talk to seems to think that putting her to sleep is the right choice. But then I take her for her "last walk" and see how beautiful and sweet she is, and I just can't do it.

What do you think? Is putting her to sleep the right call? Are any of you willing to take a slightly sick dog?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Do you ever start looking too much like your spouse?

Carolina and I keep having this thing happen where we end up dressed alike. This afternoon, we decided to take our dog for a walk, so she went out the front door to wait on us, and I threw on some gym shorts and a jacket to wear outside. I got Dora and brought her around to the front. Sure enough, we each had:
  • Dark grey sweat suit jackets
  • White shirts on underneath
  • Light blue gym shorts
  • Grey tennis shoes
It was kind of embarassing. We couldn't have dressed any more alike even if it was our goal. Not to mention the unlikely combo that I would have shorts on with a jacket.

Is that a sign of old age setting in? Something worse? ...or better? Do any of you ever do that? I'm hoping this just means we have a lot in common and that we're a good match.

Have You Tried Tara's Gold?

Let me set a scenario that I bet almost everyone has experienced before:

Your parents went to visit missionaries in Bogota, Columbia. While they were down there, another man from church got a large quantity of emeralds for a good price, and passed on the good savings to your parents. They purchased a moderate quantity of small emeralds and now want to give them to you to make into a piece of jewelry for your wife...

That's what happened to me, anyways. And what did I do? I went to Tara's Gold here in Searcy, Arkansas. I go to church with the owners, Van and Rachel Simpson, and they are fantastic people. They have a full-time jeweler named Enrique "Ricky" Colon who is also a friend of mine. I brought Ricky the emeralds to see if he had any ideas for what we could do with them. He came up with a design, and for a very reasonable price, he took the emeralds and made them into these beautiful earrings for Carolina. The gems are very small, and I was concerned about being able to make something where they are visible. I am extremely pleased with what Ricky did with them. If you live in or near Arkansas, life is too short to go see sissies in log cabins for fine jewelry. Check out Tara's Gold. The people there are every bit as high quality as the products that they sell.

Monday, March 12, 2007

And the Grand Total Is...

I need a new hot water heater. The top of ours has a hole in it where the welding isn't good. It's literally shooting water out of the top when you remove the exhaust pipe. So there's $600 gone that I didn't need to spend right now. But at least we'll have a new hot water heater.


That's Enough Drama For Now, Thank You.

We have been having some extremely eventful times lately. Last week at church, during the first part of class, an immigrant man came bursting in through the main doors--weeping loudly--and fell flat on his face in the foyer. Carolina was the only one who spoke Spanish, so she had to go to the foyer to talk with him. One of the elders came running back to the teens class I was teaching and yanked me out of it to come and help her.

This guy was weeping inconsolably and was--very loudly and rapidly--pouring out the contents of his heart. He came to Arkansas 2 weeks ago to work, leaving his wife and 4 kids in California. His wife is angry at him and is threatening to leave him. The people he's staying with here are mistreating him. He just wants to go back to California. That's a tricky thing about trying to open yourself up to ministry. People's lives are not always peachy. Jesus came to heal the broken because people really are broken and often hopeless. Later, Carlos Hernandez, our Spanish minister, showed up and was able to study with him and help calm this guy down. I hope this will open some doors, but it was very tramatic; especially for Carolina. She pretty much had to listen to him for two hours. This guy was talking so fast he wasn't even stopping to breath. We couldn't have made it with out her help.

This Sunday, things seemed to be going ok, other than that we were all sleepy for having woken up an hour early. Then at the end of service, sweet 94-year-old Aunt Ruth started acting strange. She passed out there in the pew. Miss Ruby--a wonderful woman--jumped up and went to help fan her off and revive her. Ruby's own health isn't good, and she caries an oxygen tank with her all the time which she gladly shared. They rushed Ruth off to the hospital. It turns out that some new medication she was on had been drying her out without her knowing it, so she was severely dehydrated. By yesterday evening, she was back at home doing well. Even so, it's not fun having people with medical emergencies during your worship services.

I was hoping the drama was all over, but this morning it continued. Carolina was in the garage about to leave, but she heard a hissing sound. She came to get me, and we discovered that our hot water heater is leaking water all over the floor. So now I'm sitting here, waiting for a plumber to come and hopefully fix it. This is all complicated by the fact that my sister and her best friend are staying with us during Harding's spring break this week to continue their student teaching. So we have twice the number of people showering, with absolutely no hot water.

I know that often when it rains, it pours (or "leaks" in our case). I'm hoping that after today there will be smoother sailing for a while.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Going to the "B.C."

There was a rather old fashioned lady, who was planning a couple of weeks vacation in Florida. She also was quite delicate and elegant with her language. She wrote a letter to a particular campground and asked for reservations. She wanted to make sure the campground was fully equipped but didn't know quite how to ask about the "toilet" facilities. She just couldn't bring herself to write the word "toilet" in her letter. After much deliberation, she finally came up with the old fashioned term "Bathroom Commode," but when she wrote that down, she still thought she was being too forward. So she started all over again; rewrote the entire letter and referred to the Bathroom Commode" simply as the "B.C.". Does the campground have its own "B.C.?" is what she actually wrote. Well, the campground owner wasn't old fashioned at all, and then he got the letter, he couldn't figure out what the lady was talking about. That "B.C." really stumped him.

After worrying about it for several days, he showed the letter to other campers, but they couldn't figure out what the lady meant either. The campground owner finally came to the conclusion that the lady was and must be asking about the location of the local Baptist Church. So he sat down and wrote the following reply: "Dear Madam: I regret very much the delay in answering your letter, but I now take pleasure of informing in that the "B.C." is located nine miles north of the camp site and is capable of seating 250 people at one time. I admit it is quite a distance away if you are in the habit of going regularly but no doubt you will be pleased to know that a great number of people take their lunches along, and make a day of it..... They usually arrive early and stay late. The last time my wife and I went was six years ago, and it was so crowded we had to stand up the whole time we were there. It may interest you to know that right now, there is a supper planned to raise money to buy more seats.....They plan to hold the supper in the middle of the B.C., so everyone can watch and talk about this great event.....I would like to say it pains me very much, not to be able to go more regularly, but it is surely not for lack of desire on my part....As we grow older, it seems to be more and more of an effort, particularly in cold weather..... If you decide to come down to the campground, perhaps I could go with you the first time you go...sit with you...and introduce you to all the other folks..... This is really a very friendly community.....

Good Warm Weather Listening Music

When the weather starts getting warm, I have certain music I like to bring out. The first time each spring when it's warm enough for me to drive with my windows down, I bring along The Yes Album by Yes. It is really happy, natural-sounding music. John Anderson has the most peaceful voice, and the music is so well textured. If you have an appreciation for music that is about artistry, not just tapping your foot or shaking your rump, you should consider Yes. Begin with this album, then if you like it, go with Fragile. If you can handle Fragile, and want something even more outlandish, go for Close To The Edge. My favorite Yes song is Close To The Edge. It's astounding, but it's the kind of music you have to sit down and pay attention to. Yes is one of the greatest bands that has ever existed, and it's unfortunate that more people my age don't have an appreciation for music of their calibur.