Sunday, October 22, 2006

Ten Things I Think I Think

1) Was listening to a profile of the Christian rock band, Audio Adrenaline, on a local Christian radio station. I've always had a soft spot for Audio A for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that back in the old days, the first youth band I ever worked with, The Funky Disciples, used to a do "Big House", an Audio A song. Now, after 15 years, the band (due to the lead singer's vocal problems) has decided to call it quits, and I have no idea why, but it's got me down.

I don't think, per se, that I'm all that upset with the band disbanding... I've enjoyed their music in a mostly passive sort of way. I guess its just the idea that things come to an end. People, or groups of people, who you always thought would be around, one day, aren't. And when you think about it, it's other people, our friends and family, heros and mentors, those who have been with us all our days and others who are only with us for a season, who make life sweet.

I would encourage each and everyone of you to take a moment, send an email or make a phone call or even a visit to someone you love who either was a regualr part of your life but isn't now - maybe an old friend from high school or college or a person you were close to before you or they moved. Or let someone who is a regular part of your life now know how much they mean to you. Believe me, you can't go wrong doing this.

2) Hectic week coming up. Classes, special speakers, lots of reading and papers... it's kinda the suckerpunch from the London experience. Great times in a different part of the world on the Beeson Center's dime, and now, back to the cubicle wearing out the keys on your computer. By Thanksgiving five of our ten classes will be entirely completed, but that means doing a lot of writing between now and then. And, I still haven't done much on my disseration. Back to the salt mines.

3) Tried a new church this morning... Quest Community Church in Lexington (here's the website: Aimee and I both had wanted to give Quest a try, and for the most part it was good. The preacher this morning was a woman by the name of Helen Musik, a former prof at Asbury who wrote a lot of good curriculum for youth ministers that I used back when I was doing that sort of thing. They are starting a series called "Identity Theft", and to kick it off, Helen talked about all the ways that people can steal another person's sense of who they are in a relationship. People who, because they are either insecure or just selfish jerks, take no delight in your achievements, don't support your dreams, and generally suck the life out of you. Of course, the sermon assumes that we are the people getting the life sucked out of us, as opposed to being the people doing the sucking, but maybe we'll get to that later (although, the intensely personal, highly individualized nature of the worship service leads me to believe that this will not be the case). There was a lot of psychoanalytic language meant to help people to become self-actualized, but little scripture, which made me wonder if we were at church or a taping of Oprah. Anyhow, one week an accurate judgement doth not make, so we'll back next week. I just hope its not another week of me being encouraged to believe in me... I'm a great guy, and all, but as ongoing sermon material, it's not much to go on.

4) If you hadn't heard, the president of Asbury Seminary, Jeff Greenway, resigned last week on the day of a special board meeting called for the purpose of deciding his fate. We were in London at the time, and one of the profs with us was pretty upset upon hearing the news (as delivered by yours truly... don't shoot the messenger). Their point was that the Board of Trustees of this institution were kind of working outside the accepted guidelines, and that some sort process needed to be put in place to nudge them back into their place. Of course, profs at a seminary live in ivory towers, while in the real world, people with power use that power to get their way.... which was really what this whole deal was about.

I mean, if presidents can be forced out via power-plays at places like Ohio State, where the tales of such things are front page news, then how can Asbury, where this sordid story only made the front page of Section C of the local newspaper, avoid the same kinds of political chaos? No process can avoid such goings on... it is the way of this broken world.

Anyhow, in retrospect, maybe if Greenway had dealt with the negative 30+ page evaluation by not walking out on the meeting scheduled to discuss it, he'd still be with us. But my guess.... whatever the man did somehow sealed his fate, and he was destined for dismissal either now, or sometime later this year. Unfortunately though for the small group of Trustees who engineered his ouster (and, maybe, fortunately for the school), they acted so clumsily and recklessly in this situation, bungling just about every aspect of it, that heads on the Trustees are bound to roll before it's all said and done. Certain members of the faculty will leave, otherwise, and I don't believe that this will be allowed to happen. Thus, Asbury is about to enter a new chapter... for better or worse.

5) If no one else will say it, I will... I think the time has come for Indiana University to think about joining the Mid-American Conference. They'd dominate it in basketball, would be competitive in football, and could form a little in-state rivalry with Ball State, while now getting paid $400,000 to get beat by the likes of Purdue and Notre Dame on the gridiron each and every year. This would simultaneously raise the overall quality of football in the Big Ten, enhancing the league's reputation so that teams with a chance of competing for the National Championship don't have to beat the league patsy 44-3 in order to prove they aren't slipping, while pushing the MAC toward becoming a top-tier basketball conference. Somebody get started on this right away.

6) Our youngest son, Elijah, at 16 months, is officially a "climber". He can climb up onto our dining room table in order to dance on it. He can climb up on the toilet in order to get the toothpaste tube, open it up, and start sucking on it. He climbs up on various impliments to turn the TV or light switches off and on. He just generally scares us to death as he tests the laws of gravity... laws which must not be trifled with. Thankfully, he bounces, but you might want to say a prayer for him and us, all the same.

7) The Bucher family is now officially a fan of "Hank the Cowdog" (here's the link: Hank, a character in a series of children's books written by John Erickson, is the "Chief of Ranch Security" at a small ranch in Texas. He and his sidekick, Drover (who is to Hank what Barney was to Andy) get into all kind of messes which make us laugh. Aimee has been getting "Hank the Cowdog" audiobooks from the library in Nicholasville. If you have and will be traveling with young boys, or just like to laugh, pick up one before your next long trip. Any story that includes a song with the line, "We're freezin', we're freezin', we're freezin' our tails / my derrier's frozen, it's stiff as a nail", is top-quality stuff. Good clean family fun.

8) Man is it late... or is it early? Stupid jet lag.

9) I keep receiving emails about speaking in tongues, which is facinating to me. Some people have told me it'd be better for me to not speak of the matter largely out of the fear that it'd freak people at church out, or make me look like a kook. But more folks have been sharing stories about personal experiences they had that, like mine, made them wonder about the supernatural power of God.... many stories they have been afraid to share because they were afraid it would freak people out, or make them look like a kook.

Well, when you've preached in shorts and pink flip-flops, sporting really long hair and funky facial hair, you get over wondering if you're freaking people out or looking kooky. Those just become givens.

Which leads to me to this... why do so many people have such a hard time with God interacting directly with humans in this day and age? Is it because too many people have used their supposed experiences with Almighty for nepharious purposes? Is is because we've become too evolved, too educated to believe in a God that actually manipulates the physical world? Are we afraid that maybe, because we've not experienced such things that we don't really know God? Are we afraid of looking crazy or foolish? Are we control freaks?

I'll tell you this... the moments that change lives are the moments when people experience God moving in their lives. Whether its on a weekend retreat (like Emmaus) experience, during devotions at church camp for teenagers, in a quiet room pouring over scripture and prayer, or on a mission trip somewhere in the midst of great poverty, or something similar, people meet God, and it does something to them. My thing is why in the mainline-denominational experience does this largely only happen when we are out of our normal environment?

Church camps are kind of notorious for being dramatic and emotional. Even adults who grow up largely to become somewhat aspiritual will point back to these experiences and claim them as being out of the ordinary. I remember, years ago, wondering if it was possible for the same kind of jarring response I saw teens make to the presentation of the gospel in those isolated venues, to take place in a regular weekly meeting. I mean with no manipulation, drama, or a tramatic event that shakes a person to the core. Years later, on an average Wednesday night in Goshen, we were engaged in worship, singing songs and praying prayers about how great God is, when a strange kind of fervor took hold of the place. Lots of kids kind of introspective, crying, trying to figure out life. Lots of praying. No new songs were sung... no great talks were given... no calling people down for an "alter call" just, I don't know, kids presented with how good God really is, and responding to that either out of a sense of gratefulness or from the perspective that maybe they weren't giving living their own life their best effort.

And all I can say about this is that people want to know, to feel, with some sort of certainty that God is real. They want to know that God is still active in the world. To most, if not all, it's not enough to be good or to "grow in Christ's likeness". As a matter of fact, you probably can't grow in Christ's likeness if the living God doesn't start becoming as real to you as the Father was the to Son, and you believe that really, anything is possible.

So, why be scared by it? I'll probably never be a pastor of a "speaking in tongues" kind of place, but I hope I'm never a pastor of a church that's afraid, or unwilling to believe, that God can touch us, solely as a means of leading us into a deeper relationship with Him. Shoot, that idea is what keeps me going.

And that's, now, really, all I have to say about that.

10) Finally... Dad called Friday to complain that the Buckeye game wasn't going be on local cable, and that he had to go out to a place that could get it, via a dish. Now mind you, I live in Kentucky, where you don't get to see most OSU games, and if you did, it wouldn't matter because we don't have cable. Anyhow, he's complaining, and we're trying to figure out a place for him to see the game that won't be crowded beyond belief, when he comes up with the possibility of Northland Lanes.... a not-so-busy bowling alley on the Lima's north side. He claims they're going to show the game, and it's a pretty good bet that it won't be crowded. So, I say, "There you go. Northland Lanes. Your problem is solved."

And what does my Dad say? The guy who who made me, as a 13 year old, spend all my money on my impoverished aunt one Christmas because I berated him for not having yet bought a VCR?

"Well, I don't think they'll have the right TV. Can't watch the game if it isn't on the right TV."

Now, I will light myself on fire.

Until next week...

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