Monday, July 31, 2006

Ten Things I Think I Think
Note: Find out how you can win a copy of Brian McLaren's new book, "The Secret Meaning of Jesus" in the 10th thing I think today)

1) Am home this morning, as my class for this week has been postponed until later this fall. I am home because for Aimee's birthday, I gave her a gift card to Kohl's complete with 4 hours to shop, unimpeded by children. As it is, Aimee asked to "cash in" on her independent shopping experience this morning, and thus, presently, Max and Xavier are playing video games while Eli is amusing himself by chewing on various items and implements (presently, two more teeth are emerging in that little mouth). This experience reinforces a couple of ideas:

2) Stay-at-home parenting is one of the most stressful and difficult jobs there are. Right now I can write this blog, but this is only the "calm before the storm". At any moment "Mount Eli" will erupt (the boys are pacified with the opiate that is the X-box), and I'll need to go scrambling towards the volcano. Because we practice "attachment parenting" Aimee is largely not out of sight of our children for the first year of their lives She must continually run toward the volcano. While I love my sons, how she has maintained her sanity and good humor is beyond me. She is a living saint.

3) Max has surpassed me in terms of his "video gaming skills". This is a hard thing to admit. I have years of quarters getting pumped in the now almost extinct "video arcade" (my favorite having been "Arcade City" in Lima, the location of which is now the Verizon store) that have largely gone to pot because, well, I just don't have the time, or inclination, to play like I used to. Besides, the days of games that needed a "joystick and a button" are over. Since Max can play games unimaginable in 1984 (to think, Centipede was state-of-the-art at one time) unlimited times in our living room, on a game controller with approximately 8,000 buttons, his thumbs are exceedingly more educated than mine ever were.

Which leads to this theory of my brother... at some point, if evolution has any merit, given the advent of video gaming and text messaging, humans will have "superthumbs" of incredible speed, strength, and dexterity.

One small push for a man, one giant "thumbs up" for mankind.

4) People have been asking what we've been doing on Sundays since we're not in Lima. Well, for the past few weeks we've done some "church hopping" as we seek a "summer home" for worship. We tried the UMC here in Wilmore, but they have no children's ministry during worship in the summer. That meant that three weeks ago for 105 minutes (yeah, you read that right - 1 hour, 45 minutes) we had to keep Max and Xavier from killing one another and/or starting a game of "tag" during the sermon. I heard a story of how a couple with three boys positioned themselves boy-parent-boy-parent-boy to maintain order in a church service. Now I understand why.

As an aside, treat Jenny Conley, our Children's Ministry Director, well, Shawneeites. By sacrificing very little (by volunteering five weeks), you help create much (sanity). Get signed up to volunteer for BLAST this school year at .

We also tried out the Free Methodist Church. It was OK right up to the moment they did a child "dedication" where they expressed the desire that someday (and this is a mangled, and I'm sure, inaccurate quote), "she might become a member of the family of God". Uh.... right. Maybe I just misunderstood what was said but it sounded like children were on the outside, looking at the party going on inside. I'm sure I'm over-reacting, and I understand and affirm the need for a conscious decision to follow the "Prince of Peace" (although, I'm not sure we fully understand what this means.. more on that later), but that just didn't seem very theologically compatible with a guy who willingly baptizes infants.

This Sunday we made the choice to go to Southland Christian Church (here's the link:, a mega-church located in Lexington, about 20 minutes away from our home. The experience was pretty much everything you would expect of a mega-church (volunteer parking attendants directing traffic, bookstore, coffee bars, a stage framed by a big set like you would see in a play, excellent contemporary music featuring sacred and secular songs... as an aside, I never thought I'd ever hear Sheryl Crow's "Soak Up The Son" at church, but then again, I'm the guy that sang The Kinks "Father Christmas" in the middle of a sermon, so who am I to point fingers).

Anyhow, we dropped the kids off in their classes (no elbowing this week), and deposited ourselves into the worship center, and subsequently, listened to a 40 minute-plus sermon that quoted not one piece of scripture. Now, as a preacher, I readily admit that I'm more a storyteller than biblical theologian, but I've never tried preaching a sermon without using any scripture what-so-ever. This sermon (which centered on, I think, how mutual community expressed over a shared meal invites the presence of God into it's midst) didn't make the effort to be biblical, outside of the tangential "in scripture it says...". A couple of observations...

5) One might say that Jesus himself often didn't attempt to make a direct connection between scripture and his teaching, particularly in the parables. Of course, Jesus was "The Word", so that point is mute. You don't need to quote anything, if, in fact, you are the embodiment of that thing. In other word, if when you speak, scripture is created (as opposed to mangled), then you get a "free pass" from finding obscure quotes from Amos that will amuse and impress your friends.

Another possibility is that the application of scripture takes place in "home churches" or in discussion groups after a service. In this scenario, the pastor "sets the table" with the sermon for discussion, and then the application takes place when people gather in groups using resources provided by the church to discuss what the sermon meant, or questions it raised, in that setting (for that resource, and a link to other sermon resources, go here: . You can even listen to the sermon yourself, and point out whether or not I just missed the citation, which is possible).

So, why would someone else attempt to do this? Would it come from a sense that the sermon is inspired by the scriptural study and that is enough? Is it an attempt to usher in people who are not yet, or have just become, believers in Jesus into a safe, comfortable place where they can begin to explore his "Secret Kingdom", which is amazingly not safe or comfortable? I'm not sure, but it leads to this other observation...

6) The last third of the sermon, Eli and I, (right before he was about to erupt), made our way outside of the worship center so he could roam, and I could watch/listen to the rest of the service on closed-circuit TV (which is why I might have missed the scripture). As the sermon progressed, a fair number of people (I'd say 30 or 40... although I'm guessing about 1800 were present for the service) followed after us, out the doors, into the parking lot, and all of them were carrying Bibles.

Now, maybe they were just late for lunch or stuck around from an earlier worship service to catch the "late one". It's more than possible that I'm just projecting what I imagine certain people from my past would have done if I preached a sermon without any scriptural content (an experience I'd rather not imagine, thanks) but I find at least plausible that a few angry letters will make it to that preaching pastor, or the "Board of Elders" this week. I hope that is not the case.

7) That last paragraph was interrupted by an eruption of "Mount Eli". He was playing with the foot-rest to our glider rocker, turned it over, and somehow got stuck inside of it's framework. The glider foot-rest is now sitting on our dining room table, as it's existence now threatens Eli's life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (i.e. chewing on things). How could I make that up?

8) Just finished reading "The Secret Meaning of Jesus" by Brian McLaren, which was not an assigned text, but will be incorporated into at least one paper, and the theological portion of my dissertation. McLaren's assertion is that Jesus' message of God's kingdom unfolding in the world is a "secret" or "hidden" one. This message is hidden in parable teachings because

(whoops, had to take a 90 minute break where we played in the sandbox, watched the guy blow stuff off the sidewalk with a blower, and eat some hotdog bun.. where were we - oh yes)

because if Jesus had given the full-answer the curiosity of the listening person would be satisfied. Instead, Jesus answers questions with questions, and parables with parables, which leads the listener into seeking out the teacher for more instruction. In other words, as opposed to the pop psychology of the age, the answer doesn't lay within, but rather, within someone else.

The purpose, McLaren states, isn't to create a situation where the learners can then be manipulated by the teacher for less-than-ideal purposes, but instead force the listener to question the way they look at the world, their own motivation, and, if the listener is so inclined, begin to look for new, possibilities, and thus listen to the teacher with "born again" ears "that can now hear". In this way, the Word becomes like "a seed", and your heart (the construct with which you approach and understand the world, which underscores how you respond to it) is like "soil". The seed can be planted because the soil is soft enough to accept it.

Think of it like this... if your entire life the only place you'd ever been and lived was deep in the Chugiak National Forest just outside of Anchorage, Alaska. Your entire world has been shaped by surviving in what can be a very harsh, difficult climate. You become adept as surviving long winters, finding food, and creating shelter with the means available to you. In your world, the biggest enemies are the weather, and getting between a grizzly bear and her cubs.

Then, one day, somebody invites you to come with them to Anchorage. Think of all things you've never encountered before: restaurants, paved streets, electric light, indoor plumbing, billboards with Joel Osteen's face plastered on it... now you have re-adjust your entire worldview. You need new words to describe things because there is no grizzly bear in sight. The way you've lived and survived, either has to be discarded completely, or greatly adapted in order to survive. You can't leave your experience behind, but you had better be open to understanding things in a new way, because either you aren't going to make it, or you're going to say, "The heck with this", and return to the place that makes sense.

If you want to stay, then, in humility (a sense that you don't know everything, and thus can learn things from others), you need to go back to the beginning (born again), and begin listening (ears that can hear) and observing so you can learn how to survive. You've got to want to not only find, but be willing to listen. If you choose not to, things could get kinda ugly, fast, as the streets of Anchorage, Alaska, can in many ways be more unforgiving than the wilds of the forest.

Or, in the words of Yoda, in order to become a Jedi master, "You must first unlearn what you have learned".

9) Mutually, we, not just as Christians, but all of us who were created by God, are to help "water" and "care" for the seed (a point driven home at the age of 10, when my uncle, who has a great many doubts when it comes to God, took me aside to speak frankly about drugs and alcohol, in the hope that I would avoid them. In that case, I'm certain that he was operating within the boundaries of the "Kingdom", and saved me much heartache.) Personally, since Jesus states that only those that are "pure of heart" can inherit the kingdom (the seed can't grow if the soil is filled with weeds or thorns or has become hard and dry), we must first start by asking the question, what does it mean to be "pure of heart". That's where Jesus begins to help us understand all the things we thought were true about surviving in the world that actually are not. In this way we can use that which is "true" re-construct, or re-create how we think, act, and respond to the world around us.

Corporately, since Jesus states that there are outward manifestations of the "kingdom" are natural outcomes of the "seed" growing in us. OR, in a plainer speak, we must allow the inner working of the Word, and the changes that it brings to us, to come out in the form of acts of love, grace, mercy, and justice.


Acts of love and kindness toward others including our enemies. Acts that ultimately undermine the "kingdoms" of the world that are based on coercion, force, brutality, money, sex, and the maintenance of power. A "secret kingdom" that emerges not through force, but freely to be accepted or rejected, but is still emerging whether we accept it, or not. A "secret kingdom" that is not passive in accepting repression and subjugation, but creatively responds in ways that unearth the evil, or ludicrousness, of power maintained unethically. A kingdom that reflects God's dream for our life together... and trust me if you've been beat down by people at a church or life in general, it really is a beautiful dream. A dream with spiritual, social, political, and cultural ramifications where the poor are blessed, the peacemakers are celebrated, and the last become the value people use to assess what action to take.

John and Yoko were vaguely getting at how the "Kingdom" works when they said, "War Is Over, If You Want It", for in God's kingdom, the waging of war won't create peace ("darkness can't drive out darkness") but God won't force other means of avoiding war on us... we need to choose it ourselves. What might have the response been if John and Yoko said, "War Is Over, If You Dream God's Dream". You can bet that would have ignited a firestorm in the early 70's.

Note: If you think this "Kingdom" is just a pipe dream, well, you might call me a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.

Anyhow, the big questions are "What makes 'the seed' in heart grow or die?", and "How, corporately do the secret agents of heavenly kingdom make make it real in the world?". With that, you just witnessed the makings of the beginning of a 15 page paper due the end of August, that I'm knocking out this week. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email at . I'd love to hear from you. And, if you are intrigued by McLaren's thoughts, I'd encourage you to pick up a copy of "The Secret Message of Jesus" here:

10) Speaking of "The Secret Message of Jesus", you might remember that months ago, I ran a contest in the blog where I invited people to email me at stating why I should give them a copy of the above mentioned book, a suggestion for a future blog topic, and their address. Two winners were each to receive one copy of the book. One winner received an opened, unmolested copy they could call their own, and the other was to receive my personal copy containing all the notes and thoughts contained in the margins.

Well, I shipped copy "A" to Bruce Dickerson (who asked for a book he could read at late a night while caring for his newborn child), but have yet to send my personal copy to David Grant (who basically appealed to my vanity in an effort to win... which proved successful). Well, here's the deal.... from an academic standpoint, I need my copy of the book, and probably will the rest of the year. And for that, I call "shenanigans", and if "shenanigans" is called, there must be a penalty.

So, here's the deal: I've ordered two more copies of the "The Secret Meaning...": One to go to David Grant, and, as a penalty to myself, one to go to one of you out there. Let my loss, be your gain!

(and don't worry, oh wife of mine, the money for this will come out of my monthly allowance, meaning no lunching at the local Chinese restaurant in August)

So, the rules are the same, send an email to with the following info:
  • Your name and address.
  • The reason why I should send you a book I bought with my hard-earned money (and don't tell me how wonderful and important I've been to your spiritual journey... David Grant dun burnt that bridge already).
  • At least one potential new blog topic that I can actually use.

Deadline for entry is Monday, August 14th. Act now!!!

Til next time, may the good news be yours!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Thoughts From Left Field

My last post was actually inspired by a comment one of my fellow classmates made in the course of a lecture. Somebody said something that could have multiple means (one of them, not so good), and the classmate responded, "That's something you hope you never hear your minister say", and I was off and running.

You'd think I'd have better things to do.

Anyhow, a few comments as we head into the weekend:

  • We want to let the Clemens family, the Neidich family, and Shirley Baker and her family that they are all in our prayers. It's seasons like this that make it tough for us to be away. We wish we could be to offer you support. Know that we love you all, and want to extend our sympathies during your time of loss.
  • Am coming up on a killer week where I'll be trying to complete all of my reading an writing for the month of August. I just see no other way to buy the necessary time to get started on my dissertation.
  • We had a nice family day, which was a real blessing. We spent some time at the Fayette Mall and the Joseph-Beth Bookstore, both of which are in Lexington. Last time we were in a nice bookstore, I spent most of my time there reading to Max. Today, he read to himself and his brother. My, they grow up fast.
  • Heard this week from Logan Latimer, our most recent enlistee into the armed service (Air Force). Say a little prayer for Logan as he continues to prepare for his work in the military.

Have a nice weekend.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Top Ten Things You Never Want To Hear Your Minister Say

(For this week's "Ten Things...", see the next post)

10) ...but I did not inhale.

9) That's the end of the first hour of our sermon.

8) ...and Lord, let the Bengals cover the spread today. Amen.

7) Your wife is hot!

6) Welcome our new worship pastor, Sven Jurgensen - world champion yodeler.

5) Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would catch on fire.

4) Can you come down here and post my bail?

3) We've made a little adjustment in they way we've structured our trust fund investments, so say a little prayer for "Santa's Little Helper" in the 9th at Belmont.

2) Today's sermon comes out of the marital counseling session I had with the Jones on Wednesday. You are not going to believe this...

1) Yeah... Jesus was pretty good too.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Ten Things I Think I Think

1) Hello all. Well, the Buchers are officially now living in Wilmore, Kentucky, and will be until May of next year. The grandfathers brought down a bunch of stuff yesterday, and Aimee is getting it all put away faster than you can say, "Bryan, just hook up the TV and computer and stay out of the way." All the rest of our stuff is packed and at the house on Oak Terrace. We'll move it just as soon as we can procure a storage facility and a free weekend to move everything. Thanks to The Clarks, The Yunkers, Sue Dickerson, and our parents for putting in so many hours packing our house.

To re-iterate, we are not leaving Shawnee. I am currently engaged in a year-long intensive (and, by golly, it's intense!) Doctor of Ministry program at Asbury Seminary. The program I'm in is called the Beeson Pastors Program, and it's more than fabulous. Not only are we studying basic principles of spirituality, leadership and preaching here at school, but we're heading out into the field to check out some of finest churches in the world. Out of hundreds of applicants, 12 of us got into the program (I slipped the Dean a couple of "Franklins", and a Speedway gas-card with $7.23 on it to get my spot), and we all live next to one another in a bunch of nice townhouses on the edge of campus. Aimee and the boys were scheduled to live in Lima while I lived here, but they vetoed that plan. They just really like it here.

2) But, for those who have been asking, I am still appointed to Shawnee, and will return throughout the year about once a month to share a few thoughts from the pulpit. I think my first weekend home will be in early September. I really miss Lima, and can't wait to get home (Wilmore needs a Kewpee... or for that matter, a store open past 8pm in evening). The closer I get to that initial return date, I'll confirm it here, on this mighty blog.

3) Recently received a very nice email from a fine young woman, Amber Heistan, who clued me in on a Christian artist named Shawn McDonald. She has good taste in music, because he is very talented. Thanks for thinking of me, Amber, and I hope you have a nice summer.

The rest of you can feel free too, to give me a buzz at my new email address, I am missing all things Lima (it took us eight years to get back home, so not being there a year is tough), so hearing from you all is welcomed, indeed.

4) Mom bought Xavier a full-body speedsuit, which is supposed to be used for swimming, but Xave thinks it makes him look like a superhero, so he's pretty much wearing it everywhere. Today he put on a sequined cape to go with it, which would be the way the "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" folks would dress a superhero, but that's the beautiful thing about being four years old.... you don't think of those things. I say, let him pretend he's the "X-Man", and save the world from endless badguys lurking here in Wilmore Kentucky. Him fighting crime is fun for us to watch.

5) Spent eight hours in class today talking about the dissertation that'll wrap this "Dr. It" (that's how Max spells it) up. Nothing more depressing than spending eight hours talking about all the ways academics have concocted to make this the most complex, involved research and writing experience possible. What's more, even when I am "Dr. Bryan Bucher", I still won't be able to help you with your back.... but if you're having trouble with leadership transition issues in a midwest United Methodist congregational setting, I'm your man! I'm sure the book will be huge best-seller, but I'd advise you to wait for the movie.

6) Received a nice email from Mike Deranek, a former youth group-ite in Goshen. Mike has left the cornfields of Northern Indiana for a four-week internship working for his Aunt in Los Angeles, California. Mike is apparently is engaged in "event planning", which should be a gas, because big events is pretty much what rich Californians do for a living. Getting to know Mike, and so many other people from that town is why I wouldn't trade our time in Goshen for all the coffee in Starbuck's warehouse. Thanks for the note, Mike, and your good thoughts on ministry and life. Thanks for writing, and if someone cuts you off in that LA traffic, just let it go (people out there can be a little crazy).

7) An admitted documentary junkie, I rented "Why We Fight" this weekend, which is a look at "Military-Industrial Complex" that Dwight Eisenhower warned us about as he left the Presidency. It was kind of long, and meandered a little, but it gives plenty of food of thought. Never knew that we spend more on defense than the next 18 countries, combined.... 22% of our federal budget (and yes, that does include China). And, as a guy from a town dependent on a plant that makes and refurbishes tanks, given the fact that cutting the budget means a loss of jobs, the chances that the alliance of military contractors, Pentagon bueracrats, and congressman looking to keep jobs in their districts will ever downsize this "complex" is pretty remote. Also, the movie outlines the concept of "blowback" as it's defined by the CIA, which was interesting, indeed. If you've got a couple of hours, and you won't be up too late, give this DVD a look-see.

8) Aaron Wymer, our next door neighbor, solved our internet issues by getting a DSL line, and inviting us to glom onto his internet signal with a wireless card. Thank you Aaron for saving my wife's sanity and her job. We'll be buying the Wymer family a pizza or two in thanks throughout the year for their gift of access to the virtual world.

9) Just read another great book. If you are struggling to deal with pain, rejection, and a feeling like you aren't worth much because of poor decisions you've made, or poor decisions someone else made that injured you, then check out "Wounds That Heal: Bringing Our Hurts To The Cross" by Stephen Seamands. Dr. Seamands is a professor of Pastoral Theology here at Asbury, and the professor teaching my next accelerated class. Here's an exerpt of this fine book:

On the wall in my home office hangs a framed Scripture verse: "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4 NIV). This wonderful verse encourages us to make the Lord our focus and our joy. If we do, God promises to fulfil our heart's desires. But often we reverse the order and live by our own version: "Delight yourself in the desires of your heart - and ask the Lord to give them to you." In other words, we serve God in order to get what we want. We assume that in exchange for our service God is obligated to grant our desires.

What happens when God doesn't fulfill them? We feel let down, sometimes even betrayed. We were counting on God, but God didn't come through. Yet the truth is, no matter what we assumed when we signed on as disciples, God never promised to pander to our selfish desires. So our disappointments with God are often the children of our false expectations. And behind our false expectations lurk the idols, the false gods we worship.

Deep stuff. Pick this book up here if you so desire.

10) And finally, Aimee turned the big "3-5" Sunday and she celebrated by spending the day unpacking boxes. That girl knows how to party! Wish her a Happy B-day via email at .

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Rockin' the Paradise

The thing about blogs, is that they are incredibly, or at least can be incredibly, self-indulgant. That's the idea really... a writer's undistilled thoughts on display for all the world (or at least the 35 people with nothing better else to do) to do.

Well, we're going to take this "self-indulgent" thing to new heights, or depths, by sharing with you a bit of project I'm engaged in for my "dissertation class" scheduled for next week. For those of you who don't know what a "dissertation class" is, it's a class that gives you the basics for what you need to do in order to write a doctoral dissertation that actually adds to the academic world's body of knowledge. Thus, you spend a little time learning how to properly research (which kinda blows my plans, because I figured I'd just make all my stats up and lead people to some ficticious web site like apparently I'll have to do real work instead), organize data, and make sure that what you want to write on is something that the world needs.

Well, as a part of the prep for the class, I have to list my "LifeGates" which are moments in time where something happens and my life turns in a new direction. The direction can be toward, or away from God, but it must cause a "turn", thus something significant (Xavier or Elijah's Birth) might not be a LifeGate because another event (Max's Birth) already called me to make changes in priorities, right or wrong, in my life. Thus, a gaze into some LifeGates...

- My Birth: Pretty important if you really think about it. I was there, but don't remember much about it.

- Family Moves from Columbus to West Virginia: I was three at the time, so I didn't have much say in the process. Of course, it would only be out of necessity that a person would move from Football Mecca to anywhere else, and that was the case as this was Dad's first real job out of college. The great part of the move though was in the people, and quality of life we found in West Virginia. It wasn't nirvana, but the people there definitely have a different world-view than most folks in the Midwest, which has impacted my life.

- Family Attends Trinity UMC in Charleston WV: This is significant on a number of levels. First and foremost, since Mom and Dad didn't know anyone in WV when they did this, it provided our family with a social life. In very short time, my parents were deeply involved in the church in a number of capacities: Sunday School, church league sports, choir, worship, volunteer youth directors... you name it. With no family close by, that church became the center of our lives.

On a more personal level, this was the place where, really, I was introduced to Jesus, Christianity, and the Church. We were at Trinity so much, that it's impossible for me to separate the three (which is probably why, too, I'm generally biased against para-church organizations and independent ministries). That it was such a central focus for me at such a young age could not have been any more influential in the life-choices I made. As a comparison, by the time my brother was born, we were living in Lima, and while we were active there at our second Trinity, it was by far not nearly as central in our lives. We were only at church or a related-event, for the most part, one day week, as opposed to two, or three, or more. Thus, Andy and I (there are 12 years between us, and no siblings in-between) have far different memories growing up when it comes to the church, and as a result, I think I feel more comfortable there than he does (not that he doesn't like church, but he couldn't practically live at one like I do).

- We Move From Charleston to Lima (age 10): I know that my parents have made much over how this move effected me, particularly my self-confidence. While now I consider Lima home, and have no desire to live anywhere else, at the time, the loss of friends and home were personally very difficult. That it was possible for all of that to just disappear the way it did probably made me more wary of others, and less sure of myself. Now, I wouldn't trade the move for the world, but then, it was hard.

- Talking to My Uncle Jack About the Reality of Drugs (age 12): Pretty much, my hero when I was little was my Uncle Jack. Until age 10, I only ever saw him at major holidays and on family vacations, and he pretty much bent over backwards to make my visit with him as fun as possible while we were together. What was not to like? By the time I was 12, however, Jack knew that my view of him was incomplete, and thus, at his expense, he flew me out to Wichita, Kansas, where he was living at the time, and on New Years Eve, on our way to the arcade, told me about the life he had been living. I won't go into great detail, but the gist of the conversation had to do with how devistating drugs had been to him, and his friends, and his earnest desire that I leave them alone as I approached adolescence. Strangely enough, the talk seemed to hit a chord, and as a result, while pot and coke became real problems for many of my friends in Junior and Senior High (ultimately killing a few of them, actually), I left that stuff alone. Truly one of the most grace-filled and inspiring moments in my life.... my uncle sacrificing what he had so that I could hopefully avoid his pain.

- Kissing Some Girl At Some Dance at West JHS (age 13): Until that point, I was more concerned with basketball and football than anything else. Now, I actually called a girl on a phone... worried how I looked at school (had to buy an Izod shirt and a pair of Calvins to look good)... and generally wondered how I was perceived by members of the opposite sex. Funny thing is that it took a couple of days to remember this, but once I did, all those feelings of a clumsy, fearful teenage boy came rushing back.

- Accepting Jesus at Church Camp (age 14... I think): I can still remember the alter call, given by a UM-evangelist (do we still have any of those?) named Rick Bonfim, a Brazillian emigre' who wooed us with the love of God. In other words, he didn't scare us into making a commitment by convincing us we were going to hell unless we "signed on the bottom line". Instead, his call came out of a desire for us to be at peace with God. I still remember the high of that event, and the promises I made to God that day... a couple of them, I even kept. The important thing about this, however, was that my love for Christ was not born out of fear of things like the devil and hell, and thus, in my walk I have never given much creedence to that kind of "turn or burn" theology. My spiritual life has really been distinguished more by what I was looking for, as opposed to what I was trying to avoid.

- Ed Fox's Death (age 18): Ed, a kid in our class, died in a car accident our Senior year. That summer, Ed had not been allowed to drive because of his grades, and actually, the day he died was the first day he had gotten his car keys back, per his parents being pleased with his first quarter grades. That summer, because Ed couldn't drive, I spent more time with him than I ever had before. We hit the drive-in movies a few times, spent a fair amount of time swimming in his family's pool, and generally hung out. So his death hit me like a ton of bricks.

Now, I'd had experienced death before. My great-grandfather, who was absolutely my favorite person in the world, died when I was seven. But the memory of that really, at this point, is just kind of hazy. Ed's death was real. My friend Darren helped carry his coffin. His mom bawled in the front row of the funeral service. One day he was sitting next to me in choir (he had one of the most beautiful, and versitile voices I've ever sung with) or in our LSHS Barbershop Quartet one day, and the next he was just gone.

This was really the first negative turning point in this whole journey. For the first time, my buddies and I, who all knew and loved Ed, started drinking on the weekends. My worldview became more hedonistic (eat, drink for tomorrow we die), and darker toward God (who I blaimed, as opposed to that deathtrap of a VW Beetle, for Ed's death).

- Religion 101: Intro to Christianity and Judiasm @ Miami University (age 19): I took this class as a freshman, thinking it would be an easy "A". Instead I listened to an Athiest professor tear apart religion in pretty much all forms, and watched a GA lay to waste the weak arguments of some Campus Crusade Jesusfreak in one of our breakout session by asking him the question: "If God is all-powerful, can he make a rock so large that even He can't lift it?". Couple this with an intense interest in going out on Saturday night, and sleeping in Sunday morning, and you could say I was doing some serious backsliding.

- The Passing of My Grandfather (age 20): This is signficant for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, because I was traveling home pretty much every weekend the first semester of my sophomore year to help with his care, during my free-time in Lima, I reconnected with Aimee. We had dated briefly my Senior year of high school, but given that she was two years younger, and me not really wanting a long-distance relationship, I broke up with her shortly after graduation. Aimee always worked to stay in my orbit (she, as an example, watched my brother during the day at the pool the summer after my freshman year, largely to see me every day... that looks kind of conceited on paper doesn't it), and thus, she was willing to spend the time when I was making those treks back home. That is where I fell in love with her.

The other significant part of this was that my grandfather, who was not a particularly religious man, began to grow afraid about what would happen to him when he died. One of the reasons I came home so often was to take him to church with me so that he could meet our pastor, who was about the same age and, like grandpa, loved to fish. It was in that environment that I saw him reach a measure of peace about his life. I really do think, to this day, that he agreed to be baptized more because it made his twin sister and brother feel better, but in that experience, I watched what a good pastor (Robert Quick) could do to help a person meet the end with dignity and grace.

OK.... that's enough for now. I'll do "part two" later.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Ten Things I Think I Think

Before I get started, congrats to Robbie Helser, who got engaged to a great guy in Football Mecca (or "Columbus" to the unwashed) this weekend. Happy, happy news! Way to go, Chris and Robbie!

1) Hello friends. Am happy to report that I survived last week... barely. Started feeling a little under-the-weather last Sunday, but didn't think it was anything major. By Monday morning, the day of our first real class, I had a sore throat and full-blown fever. By Monday night, I was in agony.... and the agony preceded to last the rest of week. I looked so bad that every morning the professors in each of my classes told me I could go home... I think more out of fear that they'd catch the "white death" written all over my face than anything else.

Spent the whole week then living from Tylenol to Tylenol. My throat was so bad first thing in the morning, that every day my breakfast was popsicles. Pretty much wanting to die is a bad way to get your academic year off to a start. The whole week bottomed out on Thursday night, when I couldn't sleep because I could swear that I was preaching in the streets of Downtown Lexington to paupers and kings (that's how real the hallucinations were.... true story). But, in the end, I didn't miss a class, completed all my reading, and turned in my first paper, on time (although I wrote with a 104 degree temperature... I'm afraid to go back and read it). Now I'm left with only a mild case of "pink eye". I'm glad I lived to tell about it.

2) For those who haven't heard, Aimee and the boys are not returning to Lima in August. After much soul searching, discussion, and prayer, we have decided that they will remain in Wilmore for the remainder of the year. What's more, our home, which is owned by a parishioner so it's really not ours, will be put up for sale, so all of our possessions not with us in Kentucky (which will be mostly everything.... we're living in a 900 square foot townhouse) will be put in storage until we return to Lima next May.

So, by the end of the month, we will effectively have no home in Ohio.... which is an unsettling affair. I am still appointed to Shawnee UMC however, and as long as I have parents living in that town, we'll have a place to hang our hat.

3) My professor in my "Preaching" class is Ellsworth Kalas, a man who by all accounts, has forgotten more about preaching than I'll probably ever know. He started doing some pulpit and street preaching when he was 17 years old, and hasn't stopped for 66 years (and counting). When he speaks, it's like living history. He remembers the Depression, WWII, and pretty much everything up to Israel bombing Lebanon this weekend. When he opens his mouth, it's always kind of amazing. As an example, he took a moment to reflect on three different texts in the old testament. One was from the chapter in Judges detailing the full account of the judge who ruled Israel right before Samson. The whole chapter is like four lines, and talks about a guy who had 70 kids and grandkids, all who were given donkeys to ride around kingdom during his 8 year reign.

Now, I'll be honest and say, that if I had that kind of information, I'd be back on the computer punching in interesting words in searches for scripture with a little more meat on it than an old guy with progeny running around on their asses (like that one?), but not Dr. Kalas. Nope, he tells us about a sermon he did on the text where he waxed with amusement and horror that a many could run a country for 8 years and only be remembered for having giving a bunch of donkeys away. Donkeys that were featured in the ridiculous parade of his family showing off his power and his wealth... a ridiculous parade that is now the measure of the man's entire life. And that, Kalas said, is what too many people of means in this world are gearing their life to become: a ridiculous parade of Volkswagens, houses, jewels, electronic equipment, and an end statement that will amount to about as much as this poor fool from the Book of Judges. And the shame.... it could have been so much more.

Yeah.... he's not God, but he's close. I'm gonna learn a few things this year.

4) My other professor is a pretty interesting guy too, but in a different way. While the class he's been teaching has been very informative (I was not aware how depleted I have been spiritually since Dick Lyndon's death, and the extent I've gone to cover it up), I have been watching him with a wary eye. The reason? He blamed the decline of our denomination, the United Methodist Church, on it's commitment to inclusivity... which is a big crock of poodle-doo.

UM's don't agree on every issue, and shouldn't have to. Even the Apostle Paul said the only thing he was certain of was that Christ died for him.... that leaves a lot of what he says open to interpretation and discussion. In this way, inclusive churches like St. Luke in Indy can be St. Luke in Indy, reaching every type and kind of person imaginable, while other churches like Granger Community in Granger IN, can move more toward to the right on social and theological issues as they teach and preach. If Wesley hadn't added using "reason" to the quadrilateral of things (scripture, experience, and tradition are the other three tools for discernment... Scripture being primary) were suppose to use to figure out how to live as Christians, then we'd all think, and act, exactly alike. Instead, we're people who have a different take on things, and struggle, in tension, together, to figure out where God is leading us, in grace.... and both the St. Lukes and Grangers can find their rapidly growing audiences.

No, Dr. Martyn, in this man's humble (and I mean, HUMBLE) opinion, our denomination is shrinking because more people aren't finding the love of Jesus in our churches than are. That's it. Period. There are a few churches on both theological ends of the spectrum, and some in between the poles, that are engaged in ministry in such a way that people are becoming disciples, and a whole bunch more churches, all across the spectrums, just not reaching their communities. Many of them aren't even interested in doing so. And it's not a function of theological persuasion.... they just want to do other things like "Sunday School", "rummage sales", and worry about keeping the lights on. It's a matter of people following Jesus with integrity, which is the hardest thing in the world for a leader of a church to start doing, and keep doing, in the midst of all the other demands and landmines in daily ministry. It's a hard thing to do, man.... that's why we're declining.

Anyway, the prof qualified his statement later... but I've still got my eye on him.

5) One of the things I'm realizing down here is just how afraid I've become in ministry. Afraid of upsetting or disappointing the boss. Afraid of what parishioners will think if I say, or do, what's on my mind. Afraid of what might happen to my appointment if I don't perform. I'm not sure when it happened, or why, but at some point I began fearing others more than I fear the Lord.

Don't get me wrong... I understand the damage a "loose cannon" can do. But for eons I've always felt like one of my strengths was being willing to be somewhat prophetic in the pulpit, and in my demeanor, and I feel like I traded that for something else.

Why am I so afraid? I guess I've got ten months to figure it out. If you've got a suggestion, email it to .

6) Indiana ended up with the Honda plant, because, we are told, a foundation established by a casino in Lawrenceburg, Indiana made a 10 million dollar economic grant that wasn't available in Van Wert, Ohio. In other words, they got the plant because people in Indiana are allowed to gamble in casinos, and we aren't.

So, let me get this straight... there was no other money available in the entire state to help Van Wert in their cause? No foundation money? No state grants? No one would have called Carl Linder or the Jacobs Brothers? I mean, if Honda had asked for 10, or 20, or 30 million extra dollars in some sort of assistance, you think the state would have refused? I'm sure if a phone call had been made, checks would have been written so fast Honda execs would have smugged the ink as they grabbed it.

I'm telling you, the casino industry will do whatever it can until the day comes that slot machines exist in every corner Revco.... even take credit for 2000 jobs at an automobile plant to convince us that if we need our own casinos to compete. It's just evil. Go to and voice your opposition to a casino in the Lima community.

7) This past year, Xave and I spent virtually every Friday's together ("Daddy and Xavie Day") doing the grocery shopping, running errands, and eating lunch at my mom's house. But since school let out in early June, our time together has largely been compromised now that Max is at home all day, every day. Well, today, I had to take a "wireless extender" back to the Best Buy in Lexington (after a futile attempt to fix the lousy internet service in our building), and Xavie chose to tag along (Max stayed to play with friends) because he wanted a "Daddy and Xavie Day" like "we used have long, long ago" (the kid has a way with words).

I am amazed at how quickly Xavier is growing. His vocabulary is expanding at a breathtaking pace (he informed me that a situation regarding the lack of a blue popsicle was "intolerable" and that a picture on a TV we saw today was "amazingly brilliant"). Physically, he's growing and developing coordinated abilities that put him far beyond Max at the same age. And, rarely, do I notice because he's a willing "second banana" to his older brother. Anyhow, it was great to listen and watch my son grow up so fine.... and he's still Xave: I gave him a York peppermint Paddy in the car, and by the time we got home, he was covered in mint chocolate. I love that little boy.

8) Like I love them all. Eli's eye is back to normal, and Max is firmly entrenched in the social circle that is the elementary-set living in our little Evangelical Commune. The boys are all thriving down here. It's just amazing to watch.

9) Living at Asbury, in one sense, is really strange, because I'm surrounded by Evangelical Christians who are serious about their faith, while at the same time, I have no TV and no longer regularly receive a newspaper. The result was that at the end of the week (a week, you'll remember, I was sick as a dog), I was feeling a little lost. So when I went out last Friday to buy the ill-fated wireless extender, as I drove my car (which hadn't been touched in days... we live on campus and you can walk everywhere), I felt the strange sense that somehow I was re-engaging with the outside world. No TV, especially, is really playing with my head, so much so, that I bought a copy of "The Big Lebowski" while I was at Best Buy, and thoroughly enjoyed watching it on my laptop.

Please, a note for all... this movie is rated R, and earns it rating. It isn't redeemable in the least and has no great moral message (other than "The Dude" simply wanting his rug back because it really tied the room together). Don't rent it, and then accuse me of steering you wrong. I advocate that nobody rent or watch this movie. There.... the morality police can rest.

Anyhow, I needed something really stupid, and a little base. The laughs helped me end a long week.

10) And finally, just found out that I'll be at Willow Creek Community Church's, "The Summit Leadership Conference", in early August. We used to do "The Summit" most years while I was at Goshen First (it's was Dick's favorite trip, bar none). At the event, Bill Hybles, who is the founding pastor of Willow Creek, a church which arguably changed the course of worship and practice of American Christianity, for better or worse, in the mid-eighties, invites great leaders of all kinds to come and speak on the subject of leadership to a bunch of pastors. Years ago, I thought I'd seen the ultimate interview subject in the form of an amazing interview that Hybles did with Bill Clinton (in his last year of the Presidency). That experience of hearing Clinton talk about what makes a good leader, and what the heck he was thinking during the whole "Monicagate" thing, was just fantastic.

But this year, someone is coming who I am looking forward to listening to more than just about anyone else living on the planet today.... Bono, the lead singer of U2, is coming to "The Summit". That the man is changing the world through his activism is a given. What I hope gets across in the interview is a question asking Bono if he knows the impact U2's music has had on Christian worship in the western world? I mean, virtually every worship song being written and recorded sounds like U2. All of the British and Irish praise song leaders and writers count the band as an influence. Does Bono know that by choosing to famously pursue being a rock star against the advice of his Bible study leader, that he's now effectively leading the western church in a worship and outreach revolution? Did he ever dream, as a kid in Dublin, that would ever be possible? And what does that say about the church, that this was even possible?

I hope someone asks that question. I can't imagine the answer.

Until next time.... God Bless,

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Ten Things I Think I Think (Sunday Edition)

1) We didn't, for the first time that I can remember in a long time, didn't make it worship this morning. Elijah has a case of "pink eye" so bad that he looks like a prizefighter. This, of course, scares other mothers to death, so much so that by the reaction of others, you'd think he had leprosy. Anyhow, he needed to stay home, so we all stayed home. The boys are playing by themselves (as all the other Beeson Pastor families are at worship). I've been studying most of the morning, and Aimee has been doing some cleaning. Strangely enough, what we're doing is what most of the country is doing today.... staying home to relax after a hectic week. No wonder the lead reason people give (according to the Gallup Research Group) for not attending worship is that they are "too busy". Given this day's quiet morning, I understand the attraction, and the challenge facing the church.

2) As alluded to above, this has been a tough week. I have signed on to something that is less a doctoral program, and more an adventure in self-discovery. Unearthing that which is vile in my heart isn't exactly leading to a "mountaintop experience". Over the course of the last 3 years, I've been visiting Jesus, more than walking with Him, and the reality of this has been difficult to take.

A good example of this lack of attention to detail surfaced in a big way at Asbury College's Ropes Course yesterday (Saturday). Despite the best efforts of many (the encouragement of Tara Yunker and Robin Andes come to mind), my physical life has been a shambles. Thus, the decision on Friday to play 2-on-2 basketball, walk a couple of miles, and then throw an Aerobie for an hour with kids and adults from the community, given the demands of a ropes course, was a poor one. I was so sore all Friday night/Saturday morning, that I slept very, very little. Stiff, tired, and not thinking real clearly, my contribution to the team on the low ropes course was minimal. Let's just say that for the first time in life, out there on that course, I felt like the "bumbling uncoordinated kid" we used to pick last for the kickball team back in grade school.

After lunch, things went from bad to worse when we started the high-ropes portion of the exercise. A pathological fear of heights combined with physical exhaustion resulted in my total rejection of the experience. Despite my colleagues encouragement (and I must say, they were very supportive), and the realization that the ropes wouldn't break, I felt so big, ungainly, and uncoordinated, in my mind I could not envision success... so I didn't try.

3) What I took home from the experience is that I go through periods where I allow myself to be trained up for the journey of spiritual discovery, and other periods where I don't. And it is in those seasons of disconnect from the accountability found in God and his community, that I start acting like the south-end of a north-bound horse. While I suppose these seasons of low-energy and low-commitment are unavoidable, cutting oneself off from those exercises that carry us in the dry times is a work of self-sabotage. I exchanged my devotions for sermon prep and school-related reading. I exchanged intensional prayer for the random moments throughout the day when I'd remember to talk to God (usually moments of crisis for others, or myself).

And the worst part... others have paid for my incompetence. I'd have loved nothing more than giving my fellow BP's the gift of making that trip down the zip line. My rejection of their encouragement was sown long ago. That hurts.

4) It's not like we're really suffering down here in Wilmore. The townhouse we're living in is very nice. The community is very supportive. The work given is plentiful, but not too excessive. Between all their new friends and the public pool in Nicholasville, the boys are convinced that Kentucky was made for them. And we never forget the way that Shawnee is supporting us through this experience. We know that we are greatly blessed..... now it's time to take advantage of such things, and truly become a blessing to others.

5) All of Cleveland, and every true NBA fan should be excited that LeBron re-signed with the Cavs this week. If the reports are true, and he really could have made over $100 million more in endorsements if he signed with LA, New York, or Chicago, then his willingness to stay in Cleveland, in my humble opinion, speaks volumes toward what this young man values. That kind of commitment and unselfishness isn't just a good human quality... it leads to exceptional basketball. You just can't help but be excited if you are hoops fan.

6) Grandma Great (my grandmother, who in this column is known as "The Great One") sent me a copy of an article in The Lima News from July 2nd ( which established an economic argument by a respected member of the academic community against local casinos. Many of us in the community have been asking, repeatedly, that before any final accord be reached with the Eastern Shawnee on a local casino, that an economic impact study be done by an impartial third-party consultant (possibly commissioned by the Allen County Chamber of Commerce). Claims made by the Eastern Shawnee and their corporate partners that this endeavor will create "2000-2500 high-paying jobs", result in additional revenue coming into the community via increased tourism, and have a minimal impact on the cost of local social services need to be examined. Until they are, one can only assume that the community is being deceived (unknowingly... I think) by local leaders and media who's intentions are less than pure. I am confident that if such a study were done, the costs would far outweigh the benefits. More information has been amassed for you at Take a moment and check it out.

7) Given his death this week, what kind of field day would Shakespeare have had with the Ken Lay story? I thought it interesting that Lay's death was actually confirmed by his pastor at First UMC in Houston ( ), which is where his memorial service will be this week. I'm guessing that there are lot of former Enron employees and investors in Houston who are feeling less than magnanimous toward that church right now (for more insight into this, go rent "Enron: The Smartest Guys In the Room" at your local video store). If that pastor ever publishes a book about the experience, I'll be first in line to buy.

8) Starting next week, I'll be doing profiles on each of the other Beeson Pastors and their families (right after we buy a new digital camera, so the profile can come complete with pictures). The group amassed this year is truly gifted and diverse (except in the sense of geography.... I think two of us came here from north of the Mason Dixon line, which results in things like copious amounts of Sweet Tea and desserts with pecans in them at all of our communal events. People from the south have to have their Sweet Tea and pecans!). I think you'll enjoy getting to know them.

9) Until further notice, you should direct all email to . Because the school is on one wireless internet system, and our residence is on another (I don't know why.... I'm guessing it has something to do with cost), it's just made using Microsoft Outlook too hard. While I will continue checking what has been my long-standing email address (, I'll just need to use the other one primarily in order to save my sanity.

10) And finally, back in high school, I used to work at Rax schlepping roast beef. As a part of that experience, I started working as the "opening maintainance man" on Saturday and Sunday (and three other days during the summer). As a part of my job, often I'd have to stock and clean out the walk-in cooler and freezer. On certain days, despite the fact that I'd be wearing a jacket, I wondered if I was standing in the coldest place on earth.

Well, all these years later, I was dead wrong. The coldest place on earth are the study carols in the basement of the Beeson Center. This is where Penguins dare not march because of the icy temperatures. Santa Clause comes here to remember how good he has it at the North Pole. There are ice cubes in in my Coke Zero that are wearing sweaters. I keep a scraper in here to keep my computer screen frost free.

Had to write something to make you smile... now I'm going outside so I can get the feeling back in my face.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Random Musings from A Guy With Lousy Internet Service

Sorry the posts to this thing are so random lately. Before we moved here, we were told that we would be receiving free wireless internet service here in our townhouse. But, alas, the choice of location for the wireless hub is so far away, that we barely get a signal. Thus, the lack of posts, and a wife who is going crazy because she misses surfing the web.

Before I get started, here is my address for the next eleven months:

The Buchers
208 N. Maple #2
Wilmore KY 40390

For the foreseeable future, you might want to email me at until I can figure out how to make my "real" address work on the Outlook on my new computer.

So, here are a few random thoughts...
  • We are feeling very welcome here at Asbury. The staff at the Beeson Center has pretty much moved heaven and earth (save the internet service) to make us feel like a million-bucks (after taxes). One of the biggest surprises of the experience, thus far, is the design of the program. When you think about earning a doctorate, generally you envision a student, reading lots of books, writing lots of papers, and eventually presenting a dissertation defense. Generally, if the student has a family, they never see him, and the only time they have contact with the school is on graduation day, when the said student receives his or her diploma. Not so with the Beeson Pastor DMin program. The experience is designed for the entire family. Spouses have time together, listen to lectures, often travel with us on our adventures, and are supposed to live this life with us. They even make the families live close to one another so that the kids can play together each day. Programs and events are designed for the entire family, and the hope is that not only will Beeson Pastors learn a lot at school, but that their family will be strengthened in the process.
  • I had no idea that this was the way this program was supposed to work. Who, in the world, ever heard of a doctoral program geared toward the entire family? Well, most certainly, not I. But now, after experiencing this after only one week, Aimee and boys want to stay all year, not just the first month (which was the original plan). This is making for much drama and sadness... so stay tuned as we figure out what to do.
  • We received our new laptops (each Beeson Pastor gets a new laptop at the start of the process... I'm telling you man, this thing is first class!) yesterday, and promptly embarked on a two-day, 16 hour marathon training session geared toward teaching us how to use them. We spent this time on sessions with snappy titles (and I am not making this up) like "Using Microsoft Powerpoint", "Microsoft Word Basics", "Surfing the Internet", and (my favorite) "Combating Viruses and Spyware". Next Tuesday we learn how to use the library. The fun never stops!
  • Looked at a motorcycle (a 2001 Suzuki Maurader) Monday night in Nicholasville (a bedroom community of Lexington about 10 minutes away - it's where the WalMart is). Am still on the fence about getting one (for financial reasons only), but the temptation continues to grow... especially given all the great places to ride down here. I was convinced that I wouldn't own a bike until next spring... now, I'm not so sure.
  • Eli has been sick for about three days. Took me over an hour last night to get him to sleep by walking him in a stroller across campus (which brought back pleasant memories of me doing the same with Max when we lived in Bloomington). Originally, because he's getting a molar, we thought the fever was related, but now we're not so sure. Aimee is tried to get him into a doctor today, but they were booked, so it looks like we'll be making a trip to one tomorrow. Needless to say, we are seriously missing Dr. Eric. Given the quality of care he's given us, taking the boys to anyone else just seems wrong.
  • I think all but two or three of us BP's are from the south, which is going to cause major problems come football season. Our pack is littered with fans of Florida, Florida State, UGa, Texas A&M (their mascot is a farmer... how lame is that?), an Oklahoma fan (didn't know they played football out there), and one poor schmuck who roots for Indiana. Let's just say that this would be a good year for OSU to win another National Championship.
  • Oh, there are no Notre Dame fans here, which is kinda sad, because missing those "I can't believe we paid Charlie Weis upteenbazillion dollars to be our coach and we're 3-3" faces will be a real shame.
  • Did I mention our townhouse is located a stone's throw away from a train track? 57 of them come through Wilmore every day. Yep, that's right... 57. I'm sure we'll get used to it. As an aside, you know what I like best about train whistles? Nothing. Nothing at all.
  • Have read a number of good books already during this experience. Would recommend "Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box" (published by The Arbinger Institute - would recommend to anyone in a position of leadership or management) and "You Only Have to Die" (by James Harnish - a great book for churches and pastors in downtown locations looking for a new identity and life). Received about 20 new ones the first day I arrived, so I'm sure more recommendations (and a new pair of reading glasses) will be coming soon.

Hope all is well with you. I start my first class next Monday, so keep praying. Thanks to all of you who have been doing so already. In the coming days, we will definitely need it.

God Bless,


Saturday, July 01, 2006

Knee-Deep In Bluegrass

Yesterday we made the big move from Lima to Wilmore, and officially began the "Beeson Pastor Experience". That's what I am apparently, a "Beeson Pastor" (a BP) because every where I go in town they seem to know what a Beeson Pastor is, and that it is "very prestigous" (a phrase I've heard about 30 times in less than 24 hours). I just thought I was getting a doctorate under a good scholarship. Needless to say, I'm just beginning to figure out that it's a little bit bigger than that. I guess I'm in the equivalent of a Rhodes Scholarship for Evangelical Christians. Although I've never considered myself all that conservative or evangelical (although, a couple of you would disagree given my thoughts on the Episcopalian Church... more on that in the next edition of "Ten Things"), somehow, I've ended up here. I guess I'll just enjoy the ride.

You might remember that when all of this started, I thought I was signing up for a three-year Doctorate of Ministry program that paid for by something called the "Beeson Institute for Biblical Preaching and Church Leadership" (the title is printed on the outside of the building). Somehow I ended up in an 11-month "pastoral leadership bootcamp" (which based upon the course schedule I just looked at today, probably isn't an understatement) where we basically study the principles of leadership, and see them in action. The program is residential, meaning that in a row of townhouses owned by the seminary, there are now 13 of us, complete with families, who are walking around looking dazed and confused about how, on earth, we got here.

Or maybe, that's just me.

Anyhow, the kids seem to love the move as us BP's seem to have brought about 2000 children with us, and all of them seem to be playing outside on a huge lawn out front of our townhouse (I'll post some pictures after I buy a digital camera... the one my parents gave us before Max was born just gave up the ghost). Max and Xavier love it that they already have 1998 new friends that seemingly want to play all the time. The are also fighting over the top bunk in their new bedroom. Xavier is shocked that apparently it not only rains in Kentucky, but that they speak English here too. Worlds are opening up, even as we speak.

Aimee went out and met some of the BP spouses last night (I hid out on the couch and read my Sports Illustrated, which is the first piece of literature not associated with leadership of any kind that I've touched in two weeks). She said they seemed very nice. All in all, I think she's starting to warm to the idea of this. According to her, we've embarked on a strange trip where it's like we've gone back to college with our kids. She likes the little townhouse we're in (although, given that we've got three bedrooms, two full baths, a living-room, a kitchen, you can't really call it "little") and we've already made a trip to the Wal-Mart in Nicholasville (about a 15 minute drive, which seems like a pain, until you remember that it takes about that long to get from our home in Lima to Meijer, which I make every Friday to grocery shop) to pick up stuff we forgot (like coffee filters and a toilet plunger).

I'm writing this from my study carol, because even though we have wireless internet here on campus, I can't figure out how to access it. There must be some secret code I'll learn about during the 16-hour orientation we'll be receiving on our computer (yep, you got it! Two eight-hour days doing nothing but learning how to use our new laptops.... looks like this time I'll be reading the entire manual). The facilities here are, quite frankly, second-to-none. I don't know what Frank Waldo Beeson did for a living, but the guy left more than enough coin for these people to do this entire program right. Between the classes, the traveling, the speakers (pretty outstanding array of folks we'll hear from), and the reading (the mounds and mounds of reading) this should be quite a year.

Anyhow, we arrived safe and sound. Hope you have a nice weekend. Catch you Monday for the next "Ten Things".