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Showing posts from June, 2009

A Miracle on the Mountain

It's a miracle. Kyle Mason, Shawn Kirkley, David Morris and Frank Unruh. Four guys who probably should have died on Friday, according to the laws of nature. But all four are still with us.

Kyle, Shawn, David (Jr.) & Frank were all part of the crew of nearly 40 men from College Church who drove up to the area around Shaver Lake to camp for the weekend. This is an annual event that has become legendary for a relaxing weekend with great "man-food." Some of the men look forward to this even more than their family vacation. I had been invited to go but have had too much on plate this summer.

Some of the men enjoy all kinds of unsupervised fun on the weekend. One highly anticipated part is taking their off-road vehicles on some seriously off-road terrain. Not everyone participates, but many enjoy this rugged part of the adventure.

To summarize, two vehicles were headed up a steep incline, part of which led at an angle up a rock. The second vehicle was an open-cab Toy…

Our New House

It seems unbelievable, but the purchase of our new house here in Fresno will be officially registered tomorrow. We'll get the keys from our realtor Carl Wooten tomorrow. Then the new carpet will go in. And we can move all our stuff over the weekend. We can start contributing loads of money (property taxes) to subsidize the local government. Whew!

Praise be to God that this has worked out so much better than we could have imagined. Two months ago, we were wondering if anything was going to ever happen with our Morgantown house. And now look! Our house sold, and we own a Fresno home in exactly the neighborhood we had hoped for. And just as prices seem to have hit bottom. Hard to believe.

Our new address will be 718 E Warwick Ave, Fresno, CA 93720. We hope to sleep there Sunday night.

Julie's good friend Anne & her daughter Emily arrive from Morgantown over the weekend. Won't they be surprised to find us in the middle of a move!

More later...

Jacob's Baptism

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Sunday was a special day. Our younger son Jacob committed himself to follow Jesus on Sunday. I had the great honor of baptizing him here in our baptistery in front the whole congregation Sunday morning. You can read Julie's perspective on her blogpost.

Jacob turned 11 on June 9. He has been talking about being baptized for a couple years now, as did his brother before him. Tender, young hearts are sometimes convicted by those Sunday school classes that say something like: "You won't go to heaven unless you have been baptized to wash away your sins." And for kids who are just learning feelings of guilt and shame, that can really hit home with them.

We discouraged both our boys from responding out of feelings of guilt or fear. I believe those are valid feelings and can be quite helpful for an adult whose life is truly headed down the wrong track. But they are not the best motivating factors for a child growing up in a Christian home. Responding solely out of fear sets t…

Back "at home" in Fresno

Ah, it's great to be home. All thirteen of my nights on the road were restless. I had good beds to sleep in, comfortable pillows, decent temperatures and long, tiring days. But I still slept poorly. Some of it was perhaps due to adrenaline. My doctoral classes force me to process and prepare material every night. My mind is running at full speed all day, and you know how hard it can be to slow those thoughts down at night. Guess I should have picked up some yoga.

So it's great to be home. Even if it is a temporary home. Our rental house will no longer be ours after June 30. We have to move into our new house sometime between Saturday and Tuesday. We're thrilled that our new house is set to close on Thursday. Carpet will be installed on Saturday. Then we can go, go, go.

So it will be great to finally be at home. After 6 months of transition, we can finally start to put down some roots. The boys can actually invest in neighborhood friends. Julie & I can get to know the nei…

Preaching Class

Okay, I am over halfway done with week #2 of this summer's doctoral classes. I am READY to go back home to Fresno. (Still sounds a little unnatural to say "home to Fresno," but that is the truth.) Julie has held down the fort beautifully while I was gone. Sadly, I missed both boys' birthdays again this summer. One more summer of this & I'll be ready to write my project thesis. Woo hoo!

Tomorrow, I preach in front of my preaching class & our prof, David Fleer. It's somewhat intimidating and an honor, knowing that I will be critiqued and encouraged by some great preachers. Folks at the College Church keep telling me that my preaching is getting better. Imagine what it will be like after this week!

This has really been a blessing. I've had a few "aha" moments, but I am actually walking away with more questions than answers. It's an amazing responsibility to be bringing God's word to the folks in our church every Sunday. I…

One House Down, One to Go

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Hallelujah! Our Morgantown house has closed. As of 3:00 EDT time yesterday, we no longer own a house. It took a while, but God has provided richly for us. We are blessed.

Now we have the fun of moving through escrow on the purchase of our new house in Fresno. There have been a couple bumps in the road, particularly that our appraisal seemed to be poorly done. With changes in the mortgage industry, there is not much recourse when an appraisal looks to be sloppily done. But we're moving past that now and headed toward a closing date of June 26, Lord willing.
My week in Abilene has been tiring but good. We've drunk deeply from the wells of ancient Christianity as we discussed Christian spirituality in today's world. It was an invigorating week for multiple reasons. My attention now shifts to a week of class with David Fleer to study and reflect on the task of preaching.

Juggling

Okay, so I'm in Abilene, Texas this week for a class on spiritual formation. We're spending lots of time analyzing the various strands of spirituality within the Christian faith. There are deep traditions to draw from. My own tradition within Churches of Christ has its own fountains of spirituality, even though the rationalism of our 20th-century movement pretty much squelched all forms of spiritual life other than biblical knowledge and "right worship." Nothing to be embarrassed about, but it is enriching to realize how narrow a spot we occupy in the overall landscape.

At any rate, while we're doing things to emphasize the need for times of quiet, silence, meditation, etc., I am juggling written assignments, an oral presentation, more readings, and the closing of a house along with notarizations, bank authorizations, etc. It's been crazy. I want to be watching the Penguins or Lakers tonight, but I am finding that hard to do with all the busy-ness of my spirit…

The Eyes of Texas

I'm almost packed. The older I get, the less fun it is to traipse off on a trip, especially when my family has to stay home. Compared to some people like my sister's husband, I don't travel on business that much, so I should count my blessings.

But even with that, Julie has some "fun" memories of me leaving her at seemingly difficult points in our family's history. Not that there was anything bad about my having to travel. But she seems to think that bad things happen as soon as I leave. Inevitably, the heater breaks when it's freezing out. The kids get sick, one right after the other. She gets sick. The dog runs away. Etc.

Lately, that streak seems to have made a turn for the better. But the memories are still there, I suppose. Guess she just can't survive without me. :-)

Back to the point. I'm almost packed for some continuing ed. in Texas. I have two weeks of classes at Abilene Christian University. The first week is actually in Abilene on the mai…

National Donut Day

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The first Friday in June is National Donut Day! Hooray! Go celebrate and eat a donut.

For our LA friends, here are the LA Times' favorite donut places. Blessings. Oh, and for good measure, you should probably exercise after you're done eating.

Go Lakers!

We're trying to adapt to California life. One of the things that connects a person to a place is rooting for sports teams. Professional sports teams tend to tie your loyalty to a place. So I've been wondering what California team(s) we might gravitate toward.

All my life, I have been a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers (6 Super Bowl rings!) and Pittsburgh Pirates (your sympathy is appreciated). You couldn't pay me to stop cheering for the Steelers. The Pirates are too pathetic to cheer for at this point. I grew up near Pittsburgh, and we just spent the last 8 years living only 70 miles from the Steel City. And we typically cheer for the Penguins when it's playoff time -- go Pens!

But one thing Pittsburgh lacks is an NBA team. We've never really followed the NBA that much. I remember the amazing Celtics/Lakers rivalry back when I was a kid. I even saw the Celtics play a game in the old Boston Gaaahden. Great times. But I've never really had a team. I was born near Cl…

How Communion Shapes Us

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I enjoyed our communion time on Sunday. We had 12 small tables scattered throughout the auditorium. Bread and grape juice trays were on each table. When it came time for communion, we all went to the tables nearest us to partake not as individuals but as family.

This wasn't a gimmick or some slick attempt to get people's attention. We were talking about Christian families from Eph 5:21-6:9. When talking about this passage it's tempting just to either (a) hone in on the rules for each person in the family; or (b) to psychologize this and make it a Sunday about seemingly healthy & happy families.
But it's hard to read Ephesians without noting that Paul's Christology dominates. Paul is not interested in families being happy or healthy -- though he's not arguing they should be unhappy or unhealthy. It's just not on the radar screen for him. The focus for him is not on our happiness. His focus is Christ! Christ is the one in whom we are fully alive. Christ is …

Still Waiting

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Waiting on something is one of the hardest things. As a kid I used to HATE having to wait until my birthday. Or having to wait for Christmas. Then I had to wait for school to be out. Or wait for the day I could get my driver's license. And so on and so on.

Of course, there's also the kind of waiting that wakes you up every three hours, mind racing, hoping it will all work out. This is the waiting of adulthood, the "blessing" of growing older. The worst case scenarios play out in our heads. There's the hope that it will be okay. But there's also the fear that it won't. I'm afraid I might have put my folks through some of those tortuous moments in my travels abroad.

We're kind of in one of those waiting moments right now. Our house back in West Virginia is supposed to close any day now. We're not getting a lot of information about it, so we're left to guess as to what might be happening. Are the buyers still solvent and able to buy? Is their b…