Monthly Archives: June 2008

Message without words

Check out this video that I ripped from a friend’s blog site.  What I find interesting about the video is 1)communication without words and 2) the message that involving yourself in the community can sometimes lead you into very strange circumstances.  How many of you have involved yourself in a situation only to find that you created the basketball rolling down the sidewalk?  I know that sometimes I create a lot more problems out of the situations I try to solve.



Filed under Community

Styrofoam Black-Market

It all started after Christmas.  I decided to start The Green Team at work to evaluate some of our corporate processes in terms of efficiency and waste.  Over the past six months we have held an e-waste pickup day and a hazardous waste pickup day – providing an opportunity for employees to finally rid there closets of old computer monitors and their garages of the quarter full paint cans.  We started recycling all of our paper products and our cardboard boxes.  And, what I thought was the most innocuous change of all, we got rid of all Styrofoam coffee cups and replaced them with nice ceramic mugs.  We have three dishwashers, so I knew we could keep them clean. They have the company logo printed on them, and I thought everyone would drink their morning coffee with pride – “I love the environment, this coffee is great, and, Man, I love my company!”  Little did I know that I had started a dark, underground foam market.


This afternoon I walked into the breakroom, and Rosalynn, building cleaning support, quickly crossed her arms with one hand hidden well behind her shoulder.  I asked what she was hiding (Rosalynn and I have a great relationship).  She showed me – the cup.  A single, white, immortal foam cup.  She then spilled the beans about what was going on.  When we got the ceramic mugs there was a box of Styrofoam cups left in the closet under the front stairwell.  Word got out that we still had some cups.  A few people started coming to Rosalynn to get their weekly supply of cups.  This group of five people kept their secret on the down-low for fear of ridicule from the Green Team.  It started out with a single cup in the morning that they would reuse during the day.  This got easy, so the upgraded to multiple cups a day.  Secret meetings behind the stairwell, bag handoffs in the hallway, Drop-offs in office chairs – many different ways the underground foam market propagated.  Well, the word is out – Rosalynn sang like a canary.  The underground foamers will be exposed!


I thought this was really funny.


Filed under Missions, work

Eight Questions

I am leading Sunday School tomorrow morning.  We have an open day before we start our study of the book of Romans next week.  We usually have around thirty young adults attend each week, so I am going to break the group into eight small groups of four to five people and give them each one of the following questions.  I will give them 20 minutes to discuss the question.  We will then come back together and each group will have three minutes to summarize what they discussed.  I know these questions need more time than that to really work through, but I think it enough time to encourage future dialogues in the class.  Plus, if they are really interested in a particular question, I can give them the resources that I pulled them from so they can explore farther. 


  1. Summarize the gospel in four sentences.



  1. Is baptism mandatory in the process of becoming a Christian?  What is the point of infant baptism that some denominations celebrate?  Tell the others your baptism story.



  1. In your view, which is currently the bigger risk: trusting tradition too much or too little?  Why?  How would you like to see the church handle new ideas?



  1. Who comes to worship: consumers or community?  What are consumers of worship?  What is community worship?  Does Trinity UMC do a good job of fostering community worship?  How can we improve?



  1. Someone once described their view of the “Second Coming” Jesus that makes the “First Coming” Jesus seem like a strategic fake-out.  What was the point of the “First Coming”?  What is the point of the “second Coming”?  Do you see the tension between these two views of Jesus, and if so, how do you reconcile the tension?



  1. Read Matthew 5:13-14.  Discuss with the group your interpretation of this passage.  Consider the words to “This Little Light of Mine”, do they accurately express the meaning of this verse?  If we go back to the Greek, the word Jesus uses for “you” is actually the plural form “you all” (or “y’all”) and the word light is singular.  (Collective body = one light).  This is a message for the church body.  Is our cultural bias pushing us to miss many of the biblical metaphors of the church because we assume these images are directed at individuals?  Without a first hand knowledge of the ancient scripts, how are we to know when “you” is “you” and when “you” is “y’all” in the Bible?



  1. Jim Wallis wrote, “Of all the principalities and powers that St. Paul writes of in Ephesians 6:12, the government is one of those entities against which we are to wrestle as we seek to see God’s will “done on earth, as it is in heaven.”  Not that this wrestling is always clear; when do we fight, and when do we submit (Romans 13:5, 1 Peter 2:13)?”  When are we to fight and when are we to submit? 

The quote continues, “When you struggle with government policies, you are likely to find yourself in controversy, and taking stands marked more by moral ambiguities than by stark right and wrong sides.”  How involved in politics should Christians become?



  1. Stewart Burns recounts Martin Luther King Jr.’s epiphany in To the Mountaintop:


Around midnight, as he struggled to sleep, the phone rang on more time, “Listen n*****,” an ugly voice crackled over the wire, “we’re tired of you and your mess now.  If you aren’t out of this town in three days, we’re going to blow your brains out and blow up your house.”  He paced the bedroom floor in angry fear, then walked across the hall to the kitchen to heated some coffee.  He tried to find solace in what philosophy and theology had taught him about the meaning of evil.  Could there be good without evil?  Could there be redemption without sin?  No answer came to shake his despair.  Nothing relieved the fear in his gut.  He was ready to give up.

            “I got to the point that I couldn’t take it any longer,’ he recalled in a sermon the summer before his death.  “I was weak.  Something said to me you can’t call on daddy now,” as he had in past troubles.  “You can’t even call on Mama now.  You’ve got to call on that something in that person that your daddy used to tell you about.  That power that can make a way out of no way.”  He had to call on the Holy Spirit’s power to help him through.  The church had been so much his home all of his young life that he had never stepped outside of it far enough, or bodly enough, to forge his own relationship with God, with Jesus, with the Spirit – not that of his father or mother or Ebenezer Baptist in Atlanta.

            He discovered at this midnight hour that “religion had to become real to me” – not merely the hand-me-down family business – “and I had to know God myself”.


How authentic is your relationship with God?  Are you hanging out inside the church too much, preventing you from personally getting involved in social injustices?  Are you hanging out outside the church too much, and not tapping into the power that comes from a personal relationship with Jesus?


So, which of these questions interest you?  Feel free to comment, and if you want to know what I have been reading lately, Just ask, I will tell you! (Some of you can probably tell).


Filed under church

Ichthus 2008

I drove to Wilmore, Kentucky Thursday afternoon to meet the youth group (and my wife) at Ichthus.  Ichthus is a Christian music festival that has been hosted by Asbury College since 1970.  There are about 20,000 people attending the event this year.  Like many other large music festivals, you sleep in tent city at night and reside in the venue all day listening to music and speakers.  There are four stages at this year’s show.  We had 34 in our group (26 youth and 8 adults).


Thursday, 6/12/2008

I arrived at 10:00pm, so I missed all of the acts on Thursday.  The youth said that Skillet put on a good show.


Friday, 6/13/2008

Justin Lookadoo – Amanda wanted me to listen to Justin Lookadoo with her.  This is the first time I have heard him speak.  There is an edge to his message that most youth and young adults need to hear –


  • Girls like guys that actually do something, so guys need to quit playing video games and start getting a life.
  • You are going to get treated like you are dressed.  Girls can not be selective at who they want to “notice” them when they wear clothes that accentuate their goods.  You will have guys from age 8 to 88 staring and maybe creeping you out.  Guys can’t go into a job interview bustin slack in their pants with a hat on backwards.  You will get treated like a punk kid if you dress like one.


Matthew Sleeth – Dr. Sleeth lives in Wilmore, KY and is a visible part of this festival.  His daughter, Emma, goes to Asbury college.  Dr. Sleeth’s book Serve God, Save the Planet is the best book that I have read on creation care and why Christians have to lead this cause.  His book presents Biblical evidence of our mandate to care for the Earth.  He breaks the current creation care problems down into many different areas (water pollution, energy efficiency, technology, air quality, toxins, …) and describes the situation without being preachy or political.  Anyway, he was a breakout session speaker.  His message was content taken from his book, good but nothing special. The Q&A afterwards was really good.  I also spent about two hours Friday and another two on Saturday volunteering with the recycling group that was sorting plastic bottles and cans from the trash.  Its amazing how much bottled liquid we waste.  I would say on average, a plastic bottled had 20% of the liquid still in the bottle in the trash (water, soda, etc).


Philmont – Great band I saw at one of the smaller stages.  They sound like a mix of Jimmy Eat World, Blink 182, and the Get Up Kids.  Pretty energetic sound that doesn’t sound manufactured in a garage.  I bought their EP and listen to it while driving home. 


Saturday, 6/14/2008


I wondered around the venue quite a Saturday morning and afternoon.  Some of the shows that kept my attention include


Building 429


Family Force 5 – Wow!  First time I had seen these guys.  Pretty heavy music (picture Linkin Park, White Stripes, Beastie Boys), and the crowd was into it.  I in the middle of the crowd bouncing like a fool.

David Crowder Band – I really enjoy David Crowder.  They performed for almost 1.5 hours.  Great mix of music from the latest cd and their older stuff.  It was cool singing lyrics with 20,000 others in the crowd. 

Casting Crowns – Good show.  I only know a couple of their popular songs.  They closed on Saturday night.


I have to admit I was pretty surprised by some of the bands.  I typically do not listen to Christian radio stations, the radio music sounds too fabricated.  Some of the bands at the festival were really talented.  The lyrics were a little more sophisticated than just trying say “Jesus” more than 12 times a minute.  I will probably download some of the music I heard over the weekend.


Other notes of interest:

  • The seven year locusts hatched during the festival, the bugs were everywhere.  Three of our youth ate one on a dare.  Scanning the crowd, it looked like people were breaking into a new spastic dance trying to swat them off their bodies  It was a pretty funny site.  One lead singer for one of the bands kept screaming like a girl in the middle of his songs every time one landed on him.  Funny!
  • Family Force 5 had a roadie that danced during every song.  Not, bouncing like we were, but a strange kind of interpretive dance – to really heavy music.  He was very strange.  Even funnier was the young lady that was “signing” the lyrics for the hearing impaired.  The energy of the band had here bouncing all around, while trying to sign the lyrics.  I still don’t know how you sign screaming.
  • A very bad storm blew in Friday night.  Rain, wind, lightning, thunder for a solid 4 hours.  We left the festival and ate dinner at a Pizza Hut.  It was still raining when we finished so we went and hung out at Wal-Mart.  After the rain stopped, we went back to the camp site and found out all of our tents leaked soaking all our sleeping bags and clothes.  It was almost midnight and some of the youth started breaking down (sleep deprived after spending the week performing missions work in North Carolina). The youth leader told us all to get a dry pair of clothes and get in the van.  We drove to Lexington and slept in a hotel for the evening.  Excellent decision.
  • For anyone going on a mission trip in the near future, remember to pack rope and duct tape.  Two utility items that you will use at some point.
  • We really have a great youth group!  The kids know how to have a good time, but also know where the limits are.  I really enjoy spending time with them.  The leadership is also very special.  Tony Akers and Amanda (ok, so I’m biased here) really care for these kids and do an incredible job leading them.  


Filed under church, Missions, music

The Sciences

I just found a web site that has all of the back issues of a magazine I really enjoyed in graduate school.  The Sciences is a magazine that looked (yes, past tense) at science from a cultural context.  Unfortunately, the magazine went out of print in 2001.  Over the three years I subscribed, I would devour each issue when it arrived.  The art used in the articles helps shape the discussions.  Some of the articles that I enjoyed as described below. (I may re-read these articles and find they say something totally different, but my mind’s eye remembers them this way)


Clock of Ages – One group wanted to build a clock that would keep time, as we know it, accurately for the next 10,000 years.  The article asks if this is an act of arrogance or a rational thing to do to tie the future to our past.  Do we need to anchor humans 10,000 years from now with hours, minutes, seconds?  Is time something that must be unified through the ages for humans to relate to their scientific rational past?  


Trial and Error – What does “reasonable doubt” mean?  As a juror, do I have to be 99.9% convinced that the accused raped those two girls, or will 75% suffice?  Is 51% sure ok to convict someone?  This article through some interesting social experiments  looks at studies that show that jurors are all over the map with their definition of “reasonable doubt”.  One would hope that a jury would average themselves to a pretty high level of “reasonable doubt”, but how do you quantify high level?


The Wild, Wild Pest – In many parts of the world, domestic animals are coming into contact with wild animals and spreading domestic diseases.  An example of this is canine distemper.  In certain parts of Africa, dogs are spreading canine distemper to lions and other mammals.  Since man introduced the domestic dogs into these eco systems, does man have an obligation to try to correct their problem and shoot the lions with antibiotics?  This article is a great exploration of the question are humans part of nature or do we exist outside of nature and have a responsibility to correct and maintain nature.


The Sun in the Church – Many cathedrals were with measurement technologies that could track the sun and stars very precisely.  Early modern astronomers made cathedrals into solar observatories and thereby disproved the very geocentric dogma they were supposed to uphold.


Script Doctors – How much of the negative stereotype that scientist, engineers, and physicist have in our culture is do to the “nerdyness” that Hollywood and other media outlets use to portray us.  Or, are we really that nerdy?  It’s the question of life imitating art, or art capturing life.  (I will have a lot more to say about this in a future post about the negative stereotypes of the name Larry – the most abused name in all entertainment)


What I really liked about the articles in The Sciences are the questions the articles generated.  They never editorialized and pushed a particular interpretation of science in culture.  They helped me to question the ethics and cultural outcomes of different scientific discoveries.  (I really miss this magazine). 



This leads me to another article in a different publication that I read recently that help re-enforce why, as a Christian, I should care about science.  The article published by Fermi is titled The Next Thousand Years of Christianity by Kevin Kelly of Wired magazine.  This article has many interesting points about being forward looking in our faith organizations (as opposed to always focusing on the rapture that is always coming tomorrow).  One of the points that really stuck with me is that we need Christians involved with everything science, medicine, arts, teaching, politics, engineering, entertainment … because if people of faith are not there to interpret new results and new veins of thought, then the secular and scientific world, by default, will interpret and scope the future for us.  A faith that does not participate in the discussions of science and arts is one that will quickly fade into irrelevancy.


I hope you all love doing what you are doing and feel that you are ministering everyday by living your faith in your field of excellence!




Filed under church, Culture - Technology

Interesting Topics

Some of the interesting conversations and sites from this past week.


  • Conversation with Bennett about the role of Baptism during our bike ride the other morning.  Is baptism required for one to become a Christian, or is it just an outward and visible sign or action to the rest of the community declaring our faith in Jesus Christ?  If I accept that Baptism is required for the forgiveness of one’s sins, then does that mean that Christ dying on the cross was not a complete action in the forgiveness of sins?  What is the point of infant baptism?  When should one be baptized?  Interesting discussion…  I was baptized as an infant in the Methodist church and then was baptized again once I accept Christ after Confirmation as a teenager.  All three of my kids were baptized as infants.  Was it necessary?  I don’t know if it was necessary for their faith formation, but it was important to us to declare to the church that we will do everything in our power to raise these children in a Christian environment.  I think it is also important for the church to celebrate new births in the church family and to acknowledge their role as the community of believers to help raise these kids.  I sometimes think that the esoteric arguments of religion get people bent out of shape, and they miss the beauty and power of the communal actions of declaring your faith or sharing your most prized and beloved relationships.


  • Check out Jeff Shinabarger’s blog describing the actions of Leroy Barber.  I saw Leroy speak at the Fermi Q conference in April.  The quote from his upcoming book about social justice is just incredible.  I am looking forward to reading the whole book.


  • Amanda (my wife) is with the senior high youth from church all week on their mission trip to Maysville, North Carolina.  They will be helping an impoverished community by building/repairing houses and other general labor jobs.  I will be joining up with them Thursday night for the Ichthus Music Festival.  Should be a fun week.

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Filed under church, Missions

Busy Times

I’ve been very busy this past week with work and filling out a profile packet for Young Professional of the Year.  At work, I am managing numerous programs, and they all had major events in the same week (I hate it when that happens).  I am excited just to be nominated for YPOY in Huntsville.  I know some of the other nominees, and they are very talented and have done a tremendous amount for the community.  I enjoy working with these people on creating a vision for the future of Huntsville.  The application process was a fun exercise to go through – it’s always challenging to try to capture oneself on paper in an application.  The first half of the application focused on roles at work.  The second half focused on roles in the community.  After the profile was filled out it was great to take a step back and use it as a tool to assess where my priorities lie.  I highlighted my work as a technical manager at a radar hardware company, an education advocate in the community, and young adult leader in the church.  The profile illuminated one of my greatest weaknesses, which is a tendency to get involved in too many “opportunities” at the expense of my family.  I have to guard my time with the family and consider it holy.  My kids won’t ask me for an hour in my calendar – They just stare at me and watch.  I want to be the best father possible, but also want to demonstrate to them the importance of caring for your community and putting your faith into action.  This is difficult to balance at times. 


Filed under church, Community, Family