Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Arguing with a fake Russian....


Saw "The Invasion" last night.
Good movie for families with older teens to watch together.

Realizing this movie has been made, and remade, and remade again...I'm not saying this one is the best. I'm not saying much about the movie as a movie. But it brought up some thoughts.

At one point, during dinner discussion...the Russian man says something to the effect of "when we cease (to be imperfect, have fights, make mistakes), we cease to be human."

As the aliens take over more and more bodies, this happens. Wars cease. Treaties are signed. At one point, the main character is confronted with a conversation about what is actually happening. The alien describes how all the aliens are actually "one", and so it doesn't make sense to fight anymore. He actually confronts her as a psychiatrist, and tries to convince her she was trying to accomplish what they are doing....eliminating the human "condition".

But along with the fighting, goes creativity, emotion, surprise, etc. And it's obvious that this "new" way of things is not desirable.

Being in ministry, we've discussed and studied "Kingdom" stuff quite a bit. Still not knowing what it will be like, at least I've come a long way from imagining it will be like one long church service with golden streets, and my very own mansion. Because being honest about what I used to believe....it sounded pretty boring. Like this movie when most of humanity is just standing around with blank stares.

I do believe a large part of our "humanity" is found in our imperfections. But I don't agree completely with the Russian. Instead of seeing those imperfections as an end, I view them as our ingrained need for God. We were created to coexist with God, and so our imperfections are made perfect in God.

Without God...our human imperfections result in war, murder, disease, selfishness, etc. But at some point, when the Kingdom is fully revealed, and all of creations' imperfections are once again made perfect in God....it will be the complete opposite of blank stares, boring services, and stuffy mansions.

It will be emotion as God intended. Love as God intended. Art as God intended. Creativity as God intended. Beauty as God intended. Humanity as God intended. :)

It will be stinkin' awesome. And you can have my mansion. I'm going camping.

Monday, January 28, 2008

for the love...


Quick update - FROSTBITE 2008 went awesome! Thanks to everyone who helped, and gave/prayed for this past weekend! We had about 150 people (including 120 teens), and many lives were impacted, and were reminded of their hunger for God. I'm sure I'll have some things to post on it later this week. But today...I'm taking off. Spending time with family, and catching up on another issue.

This Tuesday night, local media will host a debate between both sides of our city's government change issue. I posted my initial thoughts a while back. Since then, our Mayor has publicly announced his disapproval of a Strong Mayor system, proposing a new idea, and our current city manager has announced he will not be renewing his contract.

Along with that...it's been revealed that there are a lot of adults in this city who would love to keep the arguments at a high school level...both being WAY too overdramatic. To think that changing the city's form of government will either instantly create golden paths to success and population growth....or that changing from the current system will destroy every good thing we have left....both are extremes that I'm not willing to give my attention to. Unfortunately...both sides are pushing those extremes. I think we should change the form of government every 10 years or so....just to keep things fresh. :)

I did find a blog I've added to the links on the right...although this is where a lot of the nonsense bantering has gone on...it's also evident that it's a good place to learn new information.

My opinion? I want the citizens of this city to care about this city. Regardless of the form of government, I think there is a lot more that needs to happen. To assign our local government as the scape-goat is just an easy out. Unfortunately, most of what is detrimental to our city is not unique to our city. Selfish, greedy, power-hungry people focusing on their own prosperity can be found everywhere these days. Yup...even in the church.

It doesn't take a vote to change this. It takes individuals, families, and organizations taking the first hard step towards a new way of life. A way that's not sexy, not attractive financially, and not easy. But needed. More today than yesterday, and even more with every tomorrow.

Let's do something about it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I'm not crazy.....


SWEET VINDICATION!!!

To anyone who mocked, or made fun of, or just plain thought my sandwich post from a week or so ago was too far fetched....this is me laughing at you.

Last night, we're watching TV...and a commercial for KRAFT cheese comes on.

A post it note - says "We're pregnant"...and next to it...and grilled cheese sandwich.

The post it note becomes a picture of the mom developing, and on the right....the sandwich gets smaller and smaller.

Until finally, they show a giant grilled cheese, breaking in half...and then show a happy baby...with the phrase "HAVE A HAPPY SANDWICH"

Did KRAFT steal my idea? I dunno. Doesn't matter. Either way, I win.


In the meantime...if you haven't watched the trailer for "Be Kind, Rewind"...you probably should....it looks great. :)

Also...please pray for the over 120 teenagers attending FROSTBITE 2008 this weekend....God is already at work...JOIN IT!! :)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

pray.


The names have been taken out, to protect their privacy. The pastors on our conference received these letters to encourage our continued prayer. There were topics I'd love to blog about: movies I've seen that bring up relevant issues (even with only a 1.5 family friendly rating?), things I'd like to say to my teenagers that a youth pastor probably shouldn't say (cause they might not like me), etc. But this seemed a heck of a lot more important...
____________________________________________
Dear Friends of India,

I just arrived back in Hyderabad safely. I was able to visit the riot-torn district of Kandhamal in Orissa and meeting with our church members. Kandhamal still shivers with the fear of new attacks. The tragedy has been unprecedented. Thousands have fled into the forests and famished, some times filling their stomach with roots and leaves. People had even licked the dew drops deposited in the leaves to quench their thirst . 925 of our church members including 210 children in 1-12 years have been rendered homeless.
20 of our church buildings have been broken down. Wherever the Hindu extremists could not fully demolish the building, they indulged in desecrating the cross, burning down the furniture, doors and windows, musical instruments, Bibles and books and whatever they could access in the premises.

Here is a couple of testimonies:

Name:
Village: Depaketa
Age: About 58

"24 December 2007. About 10 in the night, hundreds of Sangh Activists attacked our villages armed with chains, swords and axes. They started setting the houses on fire. Everybody ran away into the jungle. I too started running but I was late to leave the village. They chased me and hit me with chains. I fell down. One of them put the sword on my throat and demanded that I recant my faith in Jesus. Others kept shouted: "Kill him, kill him if he did not renounce Christ."

"Kill me if you wanted but I would not renounce Jesus." I closed my eyes anticipating the sword to run into my throat. They left me almost dead, burnt my house, looted everything as I watched helplessly. In the darkness of the night I limped my way into the jungle and spent 4 days there in hunger and thirst before I reached our Relief Camp in Raikia.

Our Superintendent Prakash wanted me to file an FIR at the local police station but the sub-inspector refused to accept it. Therefore we went to the Sub-collector of Kandhamal and submitted the FIR at his office.

2. Name:
Village: Kutikia
Age: About 40 yrs

December 28, 2007. Hundreds of RSS activists attacked our village. They had already burnt many villages in the vicinity. Before we could run, they caught 13 of us and demanded that we convert to Hinduism. They led us to the temple at Patakhanada and broke cocoanuts and sacrificed goats before the presiding deity. They called for a village magician, Kameswar Digal, to tonsure our heads by force as a part of the ritual to convert us to Hinduism and gave water mixed with cow-dung to drink at gunpoint. After this they forced us to leave the village at once. Jungle became our home for 3 days and 3 night before our Superintendent Prakash picked us from Balliguda to come to the relief camp set up at Raikia.

On my way to Kandhamal, I participated in a rally in Bhubaneswar, the capital of Orissa, demanding Government action to stop voilence against Christians. Organized by All India Christian Council, it had the support of the non-Christian dalits too. Nearly 10,000 people marched from railways station to the state assembly. This was the first ever rally organized in the state capital for the protection of Christians.

Thank you very much for your prayers and support.
______________________________________________________

It's eye-opening, if anything. This still happens. In places that have websites dedicated to tourism, even. Probably my own ignorance that I forget things like this are taking place, even in this moment.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

gub-ment (wish I'd paid more attention in school)

* Warning - I'm not a political expert, and most of this is probably misunderstood and entirely wrong.

So Decatur's government has an opportunity to change coming up. A group of people who view our current "weak-mayor" system (City Manager) as antiquated and ineffective, are pushing to change to a "strong-mayor" system. Currently, the city is pretty much run by our City Manager, who seems like a nice guy (although he needs a friendlier picture, maybe one in his favorite scuba outfit?), but was not elected by the people. Not to discredit him...looking at his biography, he's had some impressive titles, and gotten degrees, etc. He has quite a bit of power, and it leaves our current, part-time mayor (an elected official, who ends up being just another member of the city council) with just a few abilities and ceremonial duties.

Under the proposed plan by ChangeDecatur.com, more of these powers would be under the mayor (an elected official), and a larger group of aldermen (and women) who have been elected to represent different communities within the city. (although I think the current 20-alderman proposal will have way too many people trying to get their voices heard)

Apparently, the original vote was going to be 1. Vote to change from the current system. and 2. Vote to change to the "Strong-Mayor" system.

But those opposing the vote did everything they could to mess things up. Apparently, whoever actually filed to have this ballot created, messed up. This made the 2nd part of the vote get thrown out for now. So all we can do is 1. Vote to change from the current system.

Under current law, if we do away with the current system, but don't have a new one to replace it, we default to a City Commissioner form of gub-ment. Which is pretty much the same as "City Manager", except the mayor becomes full-time (a good step) and takes the place of the city manager. Then they hope that in early 2009, we can vote to adopt the "Strong-Mayor/Aldermanic" system they originally hoped to pass.

So all that to say, I think it's a good move...even if I don't completely agree with having so many alderman in the kitchen. For those who oppose, who seem to be focusing completely on why the City Commissioner form of gub-ment is so terrible . I say get over it. No one wanted it in the first place, until you fought to get the vote screwed up.

addendum: I'm not sure if we're doing any favors with websites and videos like this one:

So we'll see what happens. In the meantime...Strike TV looks like it's going to be pretty stinkin' cool. So we can all have something besides American Gladiators (not as good as it used to be, but still entertaining), and Knight Rider (coming in February...pretty stoked).

Sunday, January 13, 2008

a story about sandwiches....


once upon a time there was a man. this man's name was AWESOME. AWESOME was a pretty good guy, but life seemed kinda normal to him.

until one day, AWESOME got a sandwich. not just any sandwich, this one was INCREDIBLE. but not because AWESOME had made it that way, but just because it was. no one could have ever described to AWESOME how good this sandwich would be, and even when he tried to tell others, they were still missing a bit of what he tried to convey.

it was one heck of a sandwich. INCREDIBLE even. and it got better every day. it taught AWESOME about life, love, and gave meaning to the simplest of experiences.

AWESOME loved that INCREDIBLE sandwich. he would give his life for it.

but AWESOME learned that a second sandwich was about to enter his life. a sandwich that was sure to be AMAZING. AWESOME was so excited to find out he would have a second sandwich, but it also brought up many questions.

what would his INCREDIBLE sandwich think? could he handle having two sandwiches? what would life look like down the road of more than one sandwich? could he be faithful to these two INCREDIBLE and AMAZING sandwiches that he'd been given by God?

thankfully, AWESOME wasn't alone. his wife, AWE-SOME was there to help him. it also helped to know that they weren't the first ones in history to ever have two sandwiches. many people even had more than that! so with a bit of mayo, some mustard, and maybe even some horse-radish....they knew everything would end up being alright. possibly even PHENOMENAL.

this made AWESOME very excited about the arrival of this second sandwich. he grew more and more hungry every day.

the end. (for now)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Helen Oring-Nichols - 1907-2008


Grandma Oring has passed on. I met this woman when mom married dad about 10 years ago. Most of the time, her health, and my life have kept us from spending a ton of time together, but I did enjoy a few moments, and learned some things in particular. Here are a few of the memories I have...

1. Sing. Grandma O. sang karaoke to us whenever we'd stop by. Just remembering an old familiar song brought a smile to her face, and it was evident that there was some life tucked away in those notes she hit as well. I pray I'm still singing late into my 90's...

2. Love. Her love for family, and unique ways of showing it (and remembering it) were always fun to be a part of. She may not remember it later, but a few moments of sharing Addison with her on the couch revealed the importance of the gift of family, and an example of why some things are just bigger than the small stuff we get upset about sometimes.

3. Smile. Sometimes genuine joy, sometimes pleasant contentedness, and sometimes probably not quite knowing what was going on...but years of smiling had etched an "old woman" smile on Grandma that she didn't have to struggle hard to wear.

4. Live. I most likely don't even know a small part of the LONG life that Grandma had lived. The experiences she had. The major world and US History that she actually saw happen, and that touched her life. The decisions she made for her family that would influence and affect even her grandkids way down the road. A testimony to each of us that our life is not our own. We live today for the generations to come. Thanks Grandma, for your life, your smile, your love, your singing, and your son.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Personal...


(Addie eating some of Jesus's Birthday Cake)
I figured I should at least do one personal update, after all the Holiday stuff that's gone on!

We had an incredible time down in O'Fallon at my brother Larry's house. He and his wife, Erin, rock...and had the entire family that could make it over for many days. My parents even surprised us all by showing up!! We had a great time, and Addie loves every minute of getting to know the Anderson's and Orings!!!
(Addie realizing something deep about the generations that have come before her)

Being so close to Saint Louis, we realized the Redwings were due to play them on Thursday, the 27th of December. I was so excited, but we couldn't find tickets anywhere for this sold out game. We were going to just show up, and see if we could get some at the door....but I got sick. We ended up going to the emergency room to get some really really good medicine, so I would stay alive. For those of you who haven't heard my exciting story....I can't throw up. I used to have heart-burn....so it required that I have surgery, and basically..it's a one way street now. Things can go down....but nothing can come up. So when it needs to come up...I have problems. Problems like not breathing, and not being able to stand or walk, etc.

So anyways...physically it was a tiring week. In a matter of days I had a sore throat, inner ear problem, stuffed sinuses, the flu (both ends), a cough, lost my voice, etc. All during the week of celebrating Christmas, AND preparing to preach on Sunday! We survived...had a great week in spite of health, ate a lot, got cool stuff for Christmas, the Wings won 5-0, and Sunday morning I had enough left in me to bring the Word to the table. God really is good to us.

I'm glad this was the year we took New Years' off to be with family. In Youth Ministry, that's a tough decision to make. Everytime there's a special day/event, we love having stuff to do with teens, cause it's fun, and they have no school. But with New Years, we have decided to do every other year...so that we get every other year to celebrate it with family. It was nice to just relax for a few days. :)

So there you go...no big resolutions other than to continue the journey of loving God, loving my wife, loving my daughters, loving others, loving my Church, and loving these teens and their families better. Little by little...I think I'm getting better at each. If anything...I feel like I'm smiling a bit deeper these days. :)

(Addie listening to the party in Grandpa's tummy)