Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It's Nacho Cat: Kitty Plate

Whenever Carolina cooks, within 5 minutes, Nacho shows up from wherever she's been inside, or if she's outside, she'll be meowing at the door. We have a routine down where whatever we're cooking, Carolina will save a small portion of meat for Nacho and put it on a small kitty-shaped plate for her to enjoy. Nacho always devours it.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ministry Beginnings: Leonard Church of Christ

I typically credit Rose Bud with being my first ministry experience, but in fact, there were a couple before this. I did an internship at the Central Church of Christ in Sarasota, Florida, where I helped Terry Reeves work with the youth, but the first place I ever preached was at the Leonard Church of Christ near Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee.

It was a small crowd, but they were very supportive and friendly, despite my mediocre preaching. The building was located beside beautiful rolling hills, and I don't know if I've ever seen a prettier location to have worship. Before getting hired at Rose Bud as a full-time preacher, I had spoken a grand total of 5 times, I believe; 4 at Leonard, and once on a Sunday night at the Gladstone Church of Christ in Nashville. Leonard got me to come out a few times during the summer to give some relief to their normal preacher, who was a full-time school teacher.

I was hunting for pictures from youth group events to get printed up, and I came across these. It brings back some great memories. This little congregation was founded very near the beginning of the Restoration Movement.

The first time I preached, I insisted on going by myself. The second time, both sets of my grandparents, as well as my parents came along. This was the summer of 2003, and I was getting ready to graduate in December. I had been working with my friend Ed doing lawn care, which explains my abnormally dark tan.

One of my favorite things about this church is that they still have working outhouses! Fortunately, they had added one inside, too, but I really got a kick out of this, and was sure to pose with it while I was there. After church, we'd go to some fantastic meat & 3 restaurant that had incredible home made pies.

I need to get back in touch with these folks. It would be good to go out and see them again. I think it would be especially neat to get some of my young men from church to go out and help with the worship one day. We'll see...

But for now, I'm enjoying a bit of nostalgia.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Use Your Allusion: Détente

Détente (pronounced "day-TAHNT") is not really an allusion, but a French term. It is most often used about relationships between nations. It has to do with the relaxing of tensions between formerly hostile groups. What I think is significant about the concept is that while tensions are relaxed, the parties remain very separate.

I encountered this word in a book about overcoming church conflict called Making Peace. They used the term to describe a negative example where two parties disagree, then reach a solution that involves less waves on the surface but no reconciliation between disagreeing parties.

This term was used a lot in the last hundred years about the relationship between the US and the Soviet Union. We weren't dropping bombs on each other, but we were training our children in school what to do in case the Commies attacked. We signed treaties which would limit the expansion of nuclear programs to peaceful use, however much of our intent was more centered around preventing the spread of weapons to other smaller, turbulent nations, rather than on limiting the superpowers from doing what we pleased.

Similarly, there are quite a few examples I could use about how congregations will have, more or less, two congregations meeting in one building at different times because of a disagreement; usually about worship. There might not be open conflict, but there may still be distrust between groups. This is an example of détente; where there is not fighting, but there really isn't real peace either.

Détente means that we sleep with one eye open. Things are calmer on the surface than they might have been, but we're not taking any combative options off the table. While it may seem necessary for international relations, it is not a desirable practice in churches, when genuine peace is possible and divisions can be dissolved. Real peace is not easy, but it is to be desired over détente.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It's Nacho Cat: Pearls

We got home from church, and when Carolina took off her necklace, she suddenly got this idea, and held Nacho down to put it on her. I guess it was time to give her an upgraded collar. Nacho wasn't too fond of the process, but the funny thing about her is that she seems to understand the concept of posing for the camera. She stood still for about 5 minutes while we got the pictures we wanted, and when we were done, she was glad to let us take the necklace off. There were about 10 more pictures that I could have posted, but I thought these two were the best.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A New Roof

We've been having some problems with leaks, especially in Don's office, so I'm thrilled to have some better cover above our heads, but the process of getting it in place is a very audible experience. :-)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Use Your Allusion: Volpone

Volpone is a character in a comedy by Ben Johnson of the same name, originally printed in 1607.

Volpone is a childless man, and he manages to draw some attention to himself by pretending that he is imminently about to die, and is therefore seeking an heir.

Several suitors show up, and visit his bedside. Volpone's sidekick is named Mosca. Mosca secretly convinces each of these suitors that if he gives Volpone an expensive suitable gift, then it is certain that he will become the heir.

Volpone gloats over the great gifts he starts receiving, but since Mosca has integrity as lacking as that of Volpone, it is only a matter of time before Mosca tries to blackmail Volpone out of his treasures. Volpone decides to confess to the authorities and have both of them be punished, rather than see Mosca take away his fortune.

This is not a character I've seen alluded to often, but it is an amusing story. You could definitely use this of someone who is a hypochondriac, who looks to get special treatment and attention from people disproportionate to how ill they actually are. In fact, you could call them "Volpone", and it's unlikely they'd even know what you meant!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Christian One Liners

I've seen many of these before, but several of them are pretty good. To any of my readers who are in charge of updating your church marquee: You're welcome.

Christian One Liners

Don't let your worries get the best of you; remember, Moses started out as a basket case.
Some people are kind, polite, and sweet-spirited until you try to sit in their pews.
Many folks want to serve God, but only as advisers.
It is easier to preach ten sermons than it is to live one.
The good Lord didn't create anything without a purpose, but mosquitoes come close.
When you get to your wit's end, you'll find God lives there.
People are funny; they want the front of the bus, the middle of the road, and the back of the church.
Opportunity may knock once, but temptation bangs on your front door forever.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ *+*+*+*+*+*+*
Quit griping about your church; if it was perfect, you couldn't belong.
If the church wants a better preacher, it only needs to pray for the one it has.
God Himself does not propose to judge a man until he is dead. So why should you?
Some minds are like concrete thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
Peace starts with a smile.
I don't know why some people change churches; what difference does
it make which one you stay home from?
A lot of church members who are singing 'Standing on the Promises' are just sitting on the premises.
We were called to be witnesses, not lawyers or judges.
Be ye fishers of men. You catch them - He'll clean them.
Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.
Don't put a question mark where God put a period.
Don't wait for 6 strong men to take you to church.
Forbidden fruits create many jams.
God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called.
God grades on the cross, not the curve.
God loves everyone, but probably prefers 'fruit of the spirit' over a 'religious nut!'
God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.
He who angers you, controls you!
If God is your Co-pilot - swap seats!
Prayer: Don't give God instructions -- just report for duty!
The task ahead of us is never as great as the Power behind us.
The Will of God never takes you to where the Grace of God will not protect you.
We don't change the message, the message changes us.
You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage him.
The best mathematical equation I have ever seen:
1 cross + 3 nails = 4 given.

It's Nacho Cat: Bring Your Pet To Work Day...

...not really. I was about to take Nacho over to the Hilltop Pet Resort, so we could leave that afternoon for Searcy. But since we had Nacho there in her cage when I dropped off Carolina and Lifeway, we thought it would make a good photo opportunity.

I must say, this is now one of my favorite Nacho pictures. It's not often you can a cat expressing such raw emotion, because they're typically very stoic. I know there are all the ROFL cats, but I love how obviously vocal she is in this picture. You can see it in her face: she wanted out of this weird concrete jungle, and out of this cage!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Use Your Allusion: Kairos - Bald From Behind

Kairos is a Greek word meaning something like "Opportunity" or "Chance." It was a word for time when something special could happen.

Kairos was the god of the fleeting moment. He was always on his feet, often depicted with wings, and he carried a razor, reminding us of the sharp and quick nature of opportunities.

Most notable about Kairos was that he had long bushy hair on the front of his head over his face, but the back of his head was completely bald. The idea is that you can grasp an opportunity as it arrives, but once it's past you, there's nothing you can do about it.

This all gave rise to the expression, "Opportunity is bald from behind."

Kairos is a word that shows up a lot. There is a church planting group led by one of my professors, Stan Granberg called "Kairos." The idea is that we need to be seizing the opportunities around us to reach people for Christ. I think this is a helpful allusion, if not a great sermon illustration.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

It's Nacho Cat: Strangers At The Door

There's a neighborhood cat that's always hanging around looking for Nacho. I've caught him in our garage a couple of times eating her food. He looks a lot like her, except he's a little bigger. Sometimes he stands outside of our front door and meows as loud as he can. This particular evening, Carolina was cracking the door to let the two kitties look at each other. Nacho kept her distance (as you can see) and eventually lost interest. The other kitty would have come inside if I would have allowed it. I hope they become friends, because Nacho apparently has some foes in the neighborhood. Many evenings she returns home with battle damage.