Saturday, November 29, 2008

So I've been putting up some Christmas lights...

...and though I like how they look, they definitely don't compare to this.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's Nacho Cat: Rolling Around

Nacho has found this little patch of dirt beside our back deck where there is no grass. She will go here when the sun is shining and roll back and forth.

It makes you think a little more about washing your hands after you pet her.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy 135th Anniversary to the Donelson Church of Christ

Yesterday was a really special day. At the Donelson Church of Christ--where I grew up--we celebrated the 135th anniversary of the congregation. I had received a call from one of the elders a few days ago, inviting me and my wife to be there. This is a congregation that will always have a special place in my heart.

They invited back two of our former preachers: Bob Hendren, who had preached at Donelson for almost 20 years, leaving around 1989, and Randy Harris, who preached for about 9 years, leaving around 1999.

Bob Hendren was the reason my parents began attending Donelson, a year or so before I was born. As the saying goes, "He can read Greek better than you can read English." A Greek Bible was all he ever carried to the pulpit with him. He even taught several of the members Greek while he was at Donelson, and many of them are quite good at this point. He is a brilliant speaker and thinker. I had been very young when he left, but it surprised me how familiar he felt. It was like I had traveled back in time. At Donelson, we always held our ministers in extremely high esteem, and I think Bob was a large contributor to this, if not the reason for this. He was very influential, but he was the type of person who could be trusted with influence. He wasn't pushing an agenda other than the cause of Christ. He almost always preached expository lessons, just trying to help the congregation have good theology and a good knowledge of Scripture. Under his leadership, the congregation was the largest that it ever was. Many of us still think of Bob Hendren's tenure as the "good old days." I've mentioned him several times on my blog, and have even retyped some of the things he's published about Grace and Baptism, which are really brilliant.

Randy Harris followed Bob. Randy is an interesting individual. While he preached for us, he was also teaching full-time at Lipscomb University. We take a lot of pride in Randy, because even though he's very widely popular now, he was much less known when he started working with us, and we feel like we helped him grow a lot pastorally, if nothing else. When he first arrived, he was a bit socially awkward. But by the time he left, he was the one who dressed up as the Easter Bunny for the kids egg hunt in the Spring! He even started an annual tradition of taking our 2nd graders bowling. He is single by choice--which I really wish we would do a better job of honoring in the Church. I'll never forget the time he invited some of us in the youth group over to his house. He had a portrait in his bedroom of Friedrich Nietzsche which he sometimes speaks to, vowing to fight the philosophies that Nietzsche promoted. If my memory serves me right, he also had a painting of a person who was chained under water to the ocean floor, about to give up his last breath. The purpose of this is to remind him of how helpless we would be without God to save us. He also collects monk figurines, chess sets, and lava lamps. Randy seems to always do everything the way he does for a purpose. When he was struggling early in his ministry, he commited himself to praying for Donelson at least one hour a day--and it might have been two, though I can't remember exactly. He is a very contemplative Christian, and a great spiritual mentor. Near the end of his time at Donelson, while Randy was trying to get me to go to Lipscomb and study under him, I was deciding to go to Harding, but when he suddenly decided to move to Abilene, then he couldn't give me too much of a hard time about it. He's been missed.

At Donelson on Sunday, Randy preached, then Bob taught class. As I listened to both of them, it hit me just how much each of these men has influenced me. I always grew up thinking that ministers should be Greek experts like Bob, and I ended up majoring in Biblical languages. I've also got a strong affinity for studying theology, and I've noticed I tend to be drawn toward the stuff that Randy would always talk about. I think I'm endebted to Donelson for giving me the opportunity to grow up hearing these two theological giants all of my life.

As a blog post this long is obviously much more for my sake than for yours, I'm going to list a few moments yesterday that really struck me.
  • The moment that hit me the most was at the beginning of Randy's lesson. We sang a newer song about Blessed Be The Name Of The Lord. In the last section of the song, it repeats the phrase several times that God "gives and takes away." Each time we sang those words, there were two images listed above them on the slides. One was of a newborn baby, and the other was of a person who has died in the last few years. I simply was not emotionally prepared for this, and nor were many of my peers. The second picture they used was of Dan Midget, who has always been one of my favorite people. He died very quickly of a brain tumor while I was in high school, and I still mourn his loss. Also pictured was Erdner Jones, who used to work with Dan in directing our church camp program. When I run my camp, I spend so much time thinking about, "How would Mr. Midget and Mr. Jones handle this?" They also pictured Sid & Bailey. These were two old men who were brothers, and were also slightly mentally handicapped. I always shook their hands every Sunday. They were so friendly and positive. I used to get tickled at them when I would pass the communion trays on their row. One or both of them would always be sound asleep, and then would have to wake up the other one. Then there was Cliff and Lil Balduff. Every single Sunday morning when I was little, they gave me hugs and talked to me, and gave me a little pack of gum. They both had thick northern accents, and I loved them so much. In appreciation for the gum, I used to draw pictures for them on the back of attendance cards. I had been gone for so long, the reality had never sunk in for me that they're both now deceased. They showed Tom Neil, who used to always run the show at fellowship meals, and used to always make us young ones stop playing basketball while people were trying to eat. Also they showed Doug Pippen, who died just a few years ago of cancer. Our family was very, very close to him, and his wife is one of my mother's best friends. That one was more than Carolina could handle, because Mr. Pippen died about a year after Carolina's mother did, and she spent a lot of time trying to encourage the Pippens, because she could relate to them. There were others, but seeing so many people I miss so much in short 3-4 second bursts was more than I could handle. I couldn't sing, my eyes teared up, and I had to look away. It was meaningful, but a little warning would have been nice. I hadn't realized how much I still miss these people.

  • Randy had some great thoughts about reflecting on the world we live in. He made the point that no matter who's elected, the world is always going to be messed up. He told us what he said to his students, "If you don't believe me when I say that this election really doesn't matter much more than any other election, I have two words to convince you: 'Chester Arthur.' They say, 'Who?' and I say, 'Exactly!' He was supposedly a really important President and you don't even know who he is!" The main gist of his message is that it's important to remember the past, but we've got to follow the example of Jesus in John 21. Peter's sin was a given, but in that conversation they focussed on the present and the future. We've got to be willing to let go of our shortcomings, and to decide that we are going to live like Christ right now.

  • Bob spoke about how we can find the best way to unite the world. He mentioned Fred Craddock's efforts to interpret Scripture doxologically, looking for reaons to praise God, rather than looking for ways to argue with people. He layed out several approaches that haven't worked, such as wisdom and power. Education is important, but it isn't the solution. Power seems like a solution, but it comes up short. He shared some great quotes from historical leaders like Napoleon. My favorite was something Napoleon said after he lost his empire. He spoke about how men like himself had built vast empires using power, and having the biggest battalions. But Jesus Christ was a peasant, and using love and mercy had established an empire of millions that was still standing. Bob has such a bredth of knowledge about so many things. As he talks, he constantly is throwing in little quotes from classical literature, from operas, from history, and some in other languages. The rapid fire fashion at which he's able to do this is really astounding.
It was a very good Sunday to have been there. There were a lot of people who haven't been around in a long time who were there, and it was great to see them. Not many congregations can claim a history as long and robust as Donelson's, and I'm proud to be able to claim them as part of who I am.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Letter to Santa

I'm sure there are a gazillion places where you can write to Santa, but I just learned of one that I'm going to pass on for those of you with niƱos. The Old Hickory Credit Union, where Carolina has worked for the last year, has an e-mail address to which you can write and Santa will respond.

Send letters to Santa@ohcu.org

Some wisdom I heard in the hallway...

"Sometimes what 'dirty' is depends a lot on location. If you were eating oatmeal and some oatmeal got in your hair, you would say that your hair is dirty. But if you were eating oatmeal and a hair got in your oatmeal, you would say that your oatmeal is dirty."

7 Ways To Make Your Brain Smarter

I thought this article was very informative and practical.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's Nacho Cat: Window

Sometimes when we get home, Nacho feels the need to investigate our car. She mostly likes to smell everything. This particular evening, she hopped up on top of the rear seats, and we could not get her out. Carolina got particularly peeved as she started sharpening her claws there.

On the bright side, this prompted me to wash the car and vacuum the back seat where she left little traces of cat hair.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Good Luck, Carolina!

I'm very proud of my wife. Today she begins a new job working for LifeWay Christian Resources. I must also brag that while most companies, including LifeWay, are having to do some downsizing because of the economy, Carolina was viewed as such a valuable asset, that they hired her anyway. It was a hire that had to be approved directly by the president of the company.

She will be a Bilingual Universal Representative. She's going to be working in downtown Nashville at their corporate building. LifeWay is ranked as one of the best places to work in Tennessee. I'm really glad that she'll be working in a Christian environment. And much like when she worked at Harding, LifeWay has an Aramark cafeteria! We went on Friday to figure out the train and bus system to make sure she can get to work without any problems.

Keep her in your prayers as she begins a new chapter in her life today.

Rocking Out 2008: Be My Girl

Here is another video from us at my house. Obviously, it's practice because we stop in the middle of it and discuss some of the transitions. For those of you who've never been in a band, I hope you can see how much fun it is to get together and jam.

My favorite part is around 2:37 when James started nailing the cymbal with his bass. I was also rather pleased with my solo at around 3:27. It is an extremely fast pentatonic scale using double stops. Sometimes when you're improvising it sounds great, sometimes it doesn't.

Also be sure to listen to the last 2 seconds to guess who the camera person was.

Yes, Rock Band and Guitar Hero are cool video games, but they simply don't compare to actually being in a rock band.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

When The Master Comes Home...

The last time we went to Searcy was mostly a wonderful visit for us. But we also had some sadness.

It was about a year ago that we bought our current house. It took us several months to sell our house in Searcy. We absolutely loved that house. It was incredibly nice for a very low cost. We had to spend 50% more in Nashville for a comparable house, which in some ways is arguably inferior. Don't get me wrong. We're very blessed to be where we are, and I don't want to sound shallow or unappreciative. We like where we are, but our first home will always have a special place in our hearts.

Carolina had always said that maybe one day we could move back to Searcy, to our first house. Yes, it's romanticized, but we really have some good memories there. I have never really thought it would happen, but who am I to stomp on someone else's dreams? It was a beautiful place to live with wonderful neighbors.

We sold our house to a really nice couple working for the natural gas company. We were excited to learn that they were even making some enhancements, with new sinks and a new shower in the master bedroom. But work caused them to have to move very quickly.

They sold our house to the guy whose parents own the liquor store in Augusta. Though he went to a prominent private school in Searcy, he doesn't have a favorable reputation. People who've known him for a long time only use derogatory words to describe him; most of which I'd prefer not to share. They say you're lucky if you can ever find him completely sober.

So we drove past to see our beautiful home...to find it looking like this. No telling how long it's been since the bushes were trimmed. Weeds have taken over the yard. The tree in our yard is falling apart. And it STILL HAS OUR NAME ON THE MAILBOX!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's Nacho Cat: King (Or Queen) of the Castle


While we were weeding the flower beds, she sat at her post, and made sure none of those dogs people were walking in our neighborhood set foot in our yard.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Everett Ferguson is my homeboy...


...and he has a new book coming out about Baptism!

He's one of the world's leading experts on the early church, and he's got a new book out detailing the "History, Theology, and Liturgy" of baptism in the first five centuries. I love everything this guy writes, because he is so incredibly thorough, yet readable. It is sad to see great scholars getting older, but on the bright side, he's using his extra time available outside of the classroom to do more writing.

I've never bought a book from Ferguson that wasn't worth every penny. I can't wait to read it when it comes out!

You can pre-order it at Amazon:

Friday, November 07, 2008

Got plans this weekend?

Tonight, we kicked off a weekend seminar at the Old Hickory Church of Christ. Our speaker for the weekend is Bruce McLarty of Harding University, who is speaking about the book of Philemon, talking about Real Faith for Real Life.

Tonight's presentation was excellent, and I can't wait for tomorrow and Sunday!

If you are in the Nashville area and would like to join us, the schedule is:

Saturday:
7-8pm

Sunday:
9-10am (Worship)
10:15am-11:00am (Class)
11am-12:15am (Potluck Fellowship Meal)
12:30-1:30pm (2nd Service)

We are located at 1001 Hadley Ave., Old Hickory, TN 37138.

I hadn't gotten to hear Bruce speak since he was preaching at the College Church of Christ in Searcy, AR. He's now the Vice President of Spiritual Life at Harding University. He is using this study to demonstrate the intensely practical nature of Scripture. Even the short book of Philemon has some amazing insights.

If you want a copy of the tapes/CDs, you can contact our church office at 615-847-2386.

Use Your Allusion: McCarthyism

'McCarthyism' sprang forth in the 1950s, and derives its name from Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy (1909-1957). McCarthy became chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in 1953, where he set out on a hunt for Communists who he believed were infiltrating the American government.

On example of his thinking is a speech he gave on February 9, 1950 to a group of Republican women in Wheeling, West Virginia. He produced a piece of paper about which he claimed:
I have here in my hand a list of 205—a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.
As a result of his work, many citizens suspected of being Communist sympathizers were blacklisted and faced discrimination. His tactics were very unpopular among the other Senators, and eventually he was censured with a unanimous vote from the Democrats and with the Republicans voting 50/50.

Today, McCarthyism is a term invoked to describe a political witch hunt, particularly when a person's patriotism is brought into question, and the accusations are unsubstantiated.

Many view McCarthy with disdain, while others have believed he is deserving of a better reputation. Ann Coulter, for instance, dedicated an entire chapter of her book Treason to defending McCarthy, and suggesting that the Democrats denounced him for fear that they were actually guilty of his accusations.

---------------------------------------

I think this is an important term to be aware of in light of the recent election. Obama has frequently been accused of promoting a socialist agenda, particularly when he suggested that we should "spread the wealth around." Some have suggested that he is a Communist.

This image is a good example of the suggestions that some have been making.

Are the charges justified? Are they just unsubstantiated accusations...McCarthyism? I'll leave that up to other people to argue about. Ultimately, we'll have to wait and see what decisions he makes as our next President.

But when someone speaks about attacks on Obama as McCarthyism, at least you'll know what they mean.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Need a good laugh?

Man, did I need this one. It's all in good fun, of course. The Onion is an equal opportunity satirist.

Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are

Dying after a perfect game

Don Doane bowled a perfect 300, after being a member at his league for 45 years. Then within minutes, he fell over dead. While the preacher in me wants to start jumping out with comparisons and observations, I think I'll just leave it up to you to leave comments if you have any. I extend my sympathy to Mr. Doane's family. Truth really is stranger than fiction.

It's Nacho Cat: Truck


Though Nacho seems to enjoy walking and leaving little kitty footprints all over our vehicles, she rather dislikes riding in them.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Rocking Out 2008

The last full-band performance I've had in a long time (and it had been a while before this one) was in the Fall of 2006. Brian & Christy Dolinger were in town. We hooked up with Matt Sammons, Andrew Fletcher, and James Brown (Christy's brother) and threw together a show in like two days to play a Ju Go Ju function. It was a dress up function, so we went as the "Black-Eyed P's." You'll see what I mean by that later. For those of you who didn't know me in college, I was in a band called "Soma" with Brian Dolinger. He and Christy are dear, dear friends of ours. I never thought we'd get to reunite for a show, and this was such an exciting thing for me.

But from here to the end of 2008, I'm going to try and live up to what my profile claims about my guitar skillz.

So every other Monday, I'm going to bring you a song clip from either our practice together, or our show.

Today, I encourage you to enjoy some Pachabel Jam. This is what we used to warm up.