Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mary Kay in Brazil

Just read my blogs from our trip to Brazil last May.  Made me miss my friends, and also realize that I haven't updated you on Terry's exploits.

Well, if you remember, she was going there to see if she could share the Mary Kay opportunity with some of our friends down there.  Well, not only was she able to, but went back there last November, and we just booked her next trip.  She leaves on Sunday the 15, and comes home on the 26.  

During Carnival down there, or Mardi Gras as we know it, they take people to a camp, away from the city because it isn't safe to stay in the cities during the partying.  While there, Terry, Toni, and the other four consultants she has down there, will be teaching on outer beauty with the ladies, and potentially doing the faces of up to 500 women.  She is going to have a blast with over 1000 people from Central Church in Campinas, as well as work to continue to help Toni build her business. 

Pretty exciting stuff for Terry, Toni, and her other consultants down there.  I'm really jealous that the timing hasn't enabled me to go with her, cause I'm more than ready to go back.  Er, to hang with Alex, Flavio, Tiago, and Lico, not for the facials.  I'm hoping to go with her when she goes back in May.  

Terry, the new world traveler.  You go girl!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

If we must!

I sat next to a guy, who happens to be the father of one of our basketball players here at Olivet. I never met him before, but have seen him at every game, so I proceeded to introduce myself. We moved from the name exchange to some casual conversation about what we both did, and I told him I was a prof, teaching in the School of Theology.  He said, "Great, at half time we can talk about Calvinism vs. Arminianism."  

I think he could tell by the look on my face that wasn't what I expected him to say.  Being a quick reader my response, which I tend to wear on my sleeve anyway he said, "You know, as iron sharpens iron.  It will be a great conversation."  My response was in the classical, jousting, early english mode; "if we must. . .!"

After again, wearing my feelings on my sleeve through my deep sigh, I proceeded to watch the first half of the game, not really able to concentrate on what was happening on the court, but more distracted by the conversation we were about to have.  When the buzzer sounded, I so wanted to get up and go to the bathroom, which the coffee I had been drinking through the first half had created a desire for me to do, but I decided to sit and see what was next, not wanting to be rude and obvious in my deflection of confrontation.  He opened the door with a "well", so I decided to jumped through.

I told him of a friend that I had in Ohio, a youth pastor at a southern Baptist church.  We both had a large number of students who attended the same high school, and were talking about doing some events together.  Our conversation began by talking about how our relationship could be defined by focusing on what we have in common, which is greater than the sum of our differences.  I didn't want to have the "once saved always saved" debate with him, for the sake of our kids and the students we were trying to reach.  We came to an agreement, that reformed and wesleyan men could have a relationship that was more about the Kingdom, than our own.

Well, it was a great thought that was not too long afterward headed off by the powers that be saying they thought it better that we keep things localized to our own churches.  We maintained our friendship, but never did any of those events together, choosing instead to keep things "localized".  Not sure what could have happened on the campus of Butler High School in Vandalia Ohio had we combined our resources, guess we'll never know.  

I wish some of our lines were a little softer, like the grassy line above.  It's apparent to me that there will always be some who are more concerned with our differences than what we have in common.  I guess that's the reason why on our 2-mile jaunt every Sunday, we drive by 7 churches on the way to ours.  And we do it because we "must"!?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Shaping Culture with Language

Call me slow, but this week has just raised my awareness concerning the way we shape culture and belief around how we use, or misuse, language.  

Much of what someone believes can be quickly misrepresented by the way we use language.  I was made aware of that the last two days as I listened to the language on TV regarding Sanctity of Life week.

This week is typically the week that those who are pro-life, or against choice depending on your side of the argument, try and raise awareness of the tragic practice in our world called abortion.  It's a practice that has been around for centuries, not just since Rowe vs. Wade, and one that has strong opinions represented from both sides.

One of the issues I see with this whole discussion is how we label each other in the process of working through it as a society and world.  For instance, have you noticed that if your position on this is pro-life, the other side labels you against choice.  If you are pro-choice in your position, the other side labels you pro-abortion.  I hear a difference in the language that tends to place the chosen position in a place, and representing a position they might not want to represent. 

Maybe someone who would be pro-choice, would argue that they aren't pro-abortion, they just believe that "every person has the right to choose what they do with their body."  They might state that, while at the same time counseling against abortion in favor of other options, but having the fundamental belief that it is ultimately the persons choice.

If the shoe is on the other foot, and someone is pro-life, they are seen not only as anti-abortion, but anti-choice and anti-liberty (I didn't list one more here to express a bias, its just the way I see it).  Again, this same person might be stating their belief in the sanctity of life, while honoring the God-given freedom that we all have to make choices, even though, from my perspective, they may be destructive and harmful.  These are the kind of choices that are made every day in every realm of life.

The problem I see in these arguments, is there is cruelty on both sides.  One believes in procedures performed even late in the third trimester, while others are exercising their "rights" by blowing up clinics where abortions take place.  Every position has it's extremes that doesn't necessarily represent the argument accurately.  Language and story not only influence how we are perceived, but also how we are shaped as people and as a society.

For me, I write today a firm believer in the right to life, for everyone.  After yesterday's chapel message, it's even clearer to me why I am this way.  If I can quote my friend, "I am pro-life because I believe in a God who redeems bad situations and makes good out of them, regardless. There is nothing that has been done that is too bad for God to redeem."  He then led us through the stories of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheeba.  

I encourage you to check out the message I'm talking about.  This doesn't do justice to the shape and spirit of our service yesterday  It's the chapel from Thursday, January 22.  You can get the podcast on Olivet's web sight.  

I want to give a shout out to Dr. Q, and his conviction to speak the truth.  I know what you might be thinking, "who's truth".  Again, there's that "language" thing.  I realize we all hear different things for different reasons when words are spoken.  I get that, but I encourage you to give it a listen.  Ask God to open your heart and ears to what He is saying through this servant and his Word.  If our culture is shaped by language and story, then this is the story I choose to be shaped by.

Thanks Q!

P.S.  Do you think we can find this restaurant with the "dancing sandwiches?"

Sunday, January 18, 2009

"We're all Ethnic"

This week I was able to spend time with some good friends, who happen to represent the church I'm a member of from 20+ countries.  We are having a global convention this summer, with 10 sights all over the world in places like Manilla, Philippines; Quito, Ecuador; the Dominican Republic; to name three.  We have been experiencing growing pains the last 10 years together as we try and see each others as equal members of the church.

I don't think, or at least I don't want to think there has been anything done to make anyone feel not equal, but that would be ignorant.  Even the fact that we call everyone from outside the US when they come to this convention, "International", leaves the impression that "they" are and "we" aren't, whatever that means.  We have a room for "international delegates", where they can eat, but if you're from the US, you can't go in there.

So, I'm already thinking about this stuff spinning out of last week, and I start reading a new book called, Culture Making, and read this:

"In many American supermarkets you can still find an 'ethnic food' aisle - as if only some kinds of food participate in a particular cultural tradition.  Nonsense - all food is 'ethnic.'"

So are we, my friends, so are we.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Great Day

Had a great day with some youth workers in Indiana.  It's one of my favorite things to do, talking with laymen about youth ministry.  

Taking some down time tonight, writing from a bed in the Courtyard in Valparaiso.  Going to church with some good people here tomorrow.  It's good just to veg before the sprint starts Monday.  Did a little reading tonight, watch Juno, and plan on falling asleep really fast.  

Terry is in Phoenix this week, so I'm trying to fill the time without her here.  I usually find ways to divert my attention in her absence, but I certainly don't  have much of a life without her around.  I realize how fortunate I am to still be married to my best friend after 27 years.  

Don't want to bore you more with my life tonight, just leave you with a quote from the book I just finished:

"Perhaps it's time to go beyond the 'love the sinner but hate the sin' and simply become accepting of sinners - as Jesus was."  

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Week to Remember

This has been an incredible week with my friends.  The friendships I've been able to make through my involvement on the Global NYI Council have been special, and will be missed.  I'm in my last global council meeting in Orlando this week, or have been, it just ended today.  Mixed emotions on this one.

Also get to fly back to the tundra today.  For the first time in history, Olivet has cancelled classes for the second day due to the cold weather.  It's been cool in Orlando, only 55 today, but even as I type, I'm looking at my weather bug temp for Bourbonnais, and it says -13.  Can I just say, I don't want to go home.  

Lots to reflect on from the last 8 years, but that will come later, and possibly often.  For now, hitting the hay, and trying to psych my body up for the cold I'm going home to tomorrow.

Saturday I'll be in Indy for a training event, Sunday in Valparaiso to spend some time with good friends, and then home for some football and my regular life.  Haven't missed much at Olivet with classes being cancelled, but haven't been able to take advantage of the down time that comes when the weather shuts everything down.  Hope there is one good snowstorm left this year for me.

Leaving friends and warm weather.  Guess I should stop complaining or move, and like my job too much to do that, so it's grit my teeth and bear it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

While the upper midwest is getting slammed by snow and cold weather tonight, I'm in Orlando, where it's still around 60 at midnight.  I guess I picked the right week to leave town.

Thought I'd share a quote that I read today from the book I'm reading.  It's a quote from How to be Evangelical Without Being Conservative, catchy title, huh?  Frederich Buechner said it, and I thought it was worth sharing.

"Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith; they keep it awake and moving."

Taking that one to bed with me.  Night.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I refuse to lower myself to the level of mediocrity that it appears Notre Dame fans have by celebrating a 7-6 season, with a win over Hawaii, by being happy that we beat the spread with Texas this year, and were "at least close", as one of my friends said.

Well, I appreciated the words intended to be comforting, but I'm tired of losing bowl games. Yes, I know, we've been in the national championship game the last 3 out of 6 years, but only won one of those three, and lost the last 3 BCS games. Can't blame Beanie for leaving.

Can I just ask:

Why are you bringing the safety's up when all we have to do is keep them out of the end zone!!!???
Why are we going for two, when if we go for one, a field goal wins if they score, doesn't just tie!!!???
Why can't we build a helmet that keeps Beanie in for a complete game!!!???
One of my friends suggested we take a knee three times, taking time off the clock, and kick a field goal. I objected, until I saw Texas streaking into the end zone.
And Big Ten; 1 and 6, PLEASE!!

There, I feel better. Not really, but kind of. At least until we kick off against USC in the shoe next year. Oh, please, please, please, show up.

I'm alive

No problems, I'm alive. I've been on Christmas break, and I guess I decided to turn the brain off too.

I'm prepping for a trip to Orlando this week, and as cold as it's supposed to be in our beloved tundra, that will be a nice break from the weather, although I love the snow. Going there for Global NYI council meetings. I love that group, and sadly, this is my last meeting with this group since we have sights outside the US for convention this summer, and they won't be coming to Orlando.

Read a couple of books over break, The Shack, and Sex and the Soul. Both books were really good. I'd recommend The Shack, and if you're interested in sexual behavior on college campuses, Sex and the Soul is a pretty quick, easy, and informative read. It fits with some of the other research coming out. I like the way it was written.

I'm currently reading, How to be Evangelical without being Conservative. Not bad so far, don't agree with everything, but there isn't much I read that I do.

Well, I'll try and catch you up from warmer climates later this week. Thanks for checking in.