1) Went to a church this morning called Generations in Nicholasville (which is where the WalMart is). It's very unique in that the entire focus of the church is to equip parents to raise their children in a biblically-oriented sort of way. Thus, for example, at the worship we went to this morning, all the adults and kids stayed together in the worship space (a gym at a local elementary school) for a service that could best be described as a kind of a low-budget variety show. Lots of singing and dancing (all the songs have motions and are led by a group of what looked to be college, HS, and MS students), funny skits, an animated short, and a quick lesson. Most of the people in attendance (and I am not making this up) sat on a mat in front of the stage. Anyhow, Aimee and the kids loved it, and I thought it was interesting enough to give it another week. A very creative, if different, experience.
2) Everyone who ever rooted for the Cleveland Browns since the days of Bernie Kosar knows what it means when Marty Schottenheimer leads a team into a playoff game. How can you be at home, with LT in the backfield, sport the best record in the NFL, and lose? Once again, just like the days of "The Drive" and "The Fumble", Marty managed to snag defeat from the jaws of victory. At least the people in San Diego have decent weather.
3) Never really said much more about Houston because, well, I left in a hurry, and frankly other things have been on my mind (the same goes for the BCS Championship Game... I'll get to that later). All in all it was a great experience filled with just about every different type and kind of church you could imagine. Hip Hop churches, big mega-churches, recovery churches, house churches, churches that were revived from the dead, post-emergent churches.... all that more. I missed the last day, which involved trips to the largest church in the world, a "re-start" church, and one of the more well-known emergent churches in the world.
My colleagues said that Joel Osteen was a great guy and that they enjoyed the Lakewood Church service (which doesn't surprise me... I used to watch his dad, Roy, years ago, always seemed to enjoy him, and Joel is exactly like him). They really enjoyed St. Johns UMC (the church the Beyonce Knowles familiy attends) which kind of re-started in a dead United Methodist church in Houston's Fifth Ward (which is apparently not an easy place to live) and is in many way's Lakewood Church's polar opposite. Chris Seay's emergent church was deemed to be very creative and breaking new ground in new directions. And that's just the stuff I missed...
and all to say that this is finest DMin program in the world. If you are thinking of starting one, apply next summer for the 2008-09 year. You will not be sorry.
4) Have become the third oldest guy on MySpace. You can check out my page if you wish. I've been a member for a couple of years now, slowly making changes when the mood struck me. Received some emails from some old youth-groupites from Goshen who wondered why I didn't have a blog. Instead of trying to woo them from the MySpace world, which is where the kids are, I just cut and paste this thing so now it has two homes. Am surprised at the number of people (many of whom I haven't seen in years) have found me. It's about ten times harder working the proper code into MySpace than Blogger, but the numbers of folks reading the blog over there seem to be worth the trouble. Besides, how are you going to connect with the next generation if you're afraid of their world? And if you've ever surfed around over there, you'll know those pages are in need of a positive Christian presence. It's pretty grizzly.
5) Want to rent, or better yet, buy a good movie? Then grab a copy of "Invisible Children", which is an amazingly tragic story about kids in Northern Uganda who leave their rural village homes to travel into a major city at night so they won't be kidnapped and forced to fight in a rebel army (the Lord's Resistance Army) against their will. Here's the trailer...
The leaders of the LRA have convinced their followers that they have been chosen by God to overthrow the Ugandan government as a means of ushering in some new Apostolic age. They use torture, group think, and drugs to turn children as young as eight into soldiers ready to kill for a cause. It is the worst example of how religious power can be perverted in such a way as to commission pure evil.
6) The three young men who made this rough cut film actually went to Africa looking to shoot footage to document the terror of Darfur. But when they discovered a story that involved more than 800,000 displaced people in "re-location camps", the abduction of more than 2000 children to fight as child soldiers in an army led by someone hiding behind God, and sheer incredulous reality that the story had never been told in the US, they changed their plans. Since then, they have been encouraging all people, especially teens, to organized screening of the rough cut of their film, and then figure out ways to raise money that is used to alleviate the suffering of the children who must walk at night from their homes to safe places in cities protected by soldiers out fear of being abducted.
The biggest event, to date, that Invisible Children INC. has undertaken was last year's "Global Night Commute", where thousands of people all over the USA walked from their homes into the interior of their city, to sleep for a night in the open air on the steps of their local court or statehouse, as a means of raising funds and drawing attention to the issues in Uganda.
The face of great poverty and violence, disciples of Jesus have no other choice but to confront evil in this world, as means of bringing peace. Next time you hear somebody say that Americans, particular American churches, shouldn't send money to help other people outside of the country cause we need to take care of "our own" first, remind them who Jesus says our neighbor is, and remember this next clip:
Woo.... I'm getting dizzy up on this soapbox.
7) This week a number of people from Shawnee UMC are headed to Haiti to build a number of small houses for families living a very poor, rural area in the northern part of the country. Shawnee likes to go to North Haiti, around CapHaitian, because most mission groups never get past Port Au Prince since it's the easiest city to access, although the need in further away from the center of power and commerce is acute. One of these travelers is Flora DeVoe, a lovely woman from our church, whose family raised enough money to build (I think) ten homes in honor of Flora's departed husband, Bud. Bud worked with Flora's dad building houses all over the Shawnee area (chances are if you live in the older area of the Pro Drive subdivision, you probably live in a Cardone Home). It should be an amazing week.
8) Have spent the last hour with Eli trying to keep his asleep until mom got home. Aimee just returned, raving about the movie "Dreamgirls", which I suspect lauds the virtues of sisterhood. She had a good time. I, on the other hand, have been laying next to a child wanting only to be nursed. There are somethings as a parent, you just aren't trained to do.
9) Now for the Bucks.... well, what can I say? They looked horrible. Never has a team looked so dominant over the course of the season and looked so terrible in a bowl game. Was it the 51 day lay-off. Was it Ted Ginn's injury, suffered while celebrating his early touchdown? Was Jim Tressel (gulp) simply outcoached? Was it the Heisman curse?
Well, personally, I think what really happened was that the Bucks won the game in a blowout, but Jeb Bush convinced his brother that for security reasons, the entire nation had to be brainwashed into believing that Florida, led by a quarterback who can't through the ball accurately more than 15 yards down the field, actually won the game. I know you think I'm crazy.....
but that's what they want you to believe.
10) For those who have been checking in on us, expressing sympathy and kindness at the loss of Aimee's mother, we once again want to thank you for your concern and love. Aimee was out tonight with the girls watching a movie that confirms how important sisterhood is. As cards and emails have literally poured in from so many of you gracious people, I am impressed with the way the folks here at the Beeson Commune have been caring for us, and particularly Aimee. They have been wonderful.
Sometimes, there just isn't a good way of saying thanks that really captures the gratitude you want to show. This is one of those times. So thank you, all of you, for your acts of grace,