Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Go to Trailjouranls.com

My backpacking trip was remarkable. The trip lasted from October 25-30 and we hiked nearly 50 miles. There are more details than I care to share on the blogg but if you are interested in reading my journals then click on the link Trailjournals to the right of your screen and you should find it.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Heading to East TN #2

I had a great start to my drive to East TN. I woke up early and was out of Mom and Dad’s by 6:00. I flew through Louisville & Lexington, KY and stopped for gas in Corbin. The weather is getting cooler. I’m concerned the clothes I brought will not be warm enough. Plus, sleeping in a tent in cold weather is not the best situation. It looks like rain from hurricane Wilma will barely miss East TN but a strong wind surge from the south might make my week very wet. The highlight of my day was an older lady working at Arby’s. I sat down to eat and she brought me a fresh order of fries. I told her I already had mine but she said those were cold thus, giving me new fries for nothing. That made me smile. It felt odd passing up all the Knoxville exits. Even more odd was passing the JBC exit. For the first time I had no need to stop by. Had I know the location of Grandpa William’s homestead I would have attempted to find it. I grew tired of driving the interstate so I took a back way on TN St R 11E. Johnson City is a beautiful place. It’s more in the mountains then Knoxville. I drove through the campus of East Tennessee State University. I found Ruben & Emily’s apartment with little problems thanks to the GPS. They have a nice apartment that’s perfect for a newly wed couple. Ruben & I went out for supplies. I needed packs of Snicker candy bars. Thanks Ruben and Emily for putting me up for the night and for a killer pizza.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Heading to East TN

My typical routine when driving to TN is to stop at Mom and Dad’s. It’s nice to have the extra 100 miles behind me plus I spend time with the family. Mom and Dad are leaving for Japan this Thursday (Oct. 27) so we took Brock out for a early birthday dinner. His restaurant of choice was Red Lobster. On the way home we stopped at Scott & Jamie’s to see Mya. I hadn’t seen her since the day of her birth. She’s a cutie. Scott continues to work on his house. He added a front porch. When Scott told me of this project, I though it was a little excessive. Heck, he only remodels every room in his house. But now that I have seen it, I can see it makes a big difference to the over all look of the house. As I sat in his house I thumbed through Scott & Jamie’s wedding pictures. It’s hard to believe they’ve been married for over a year. Scott has done very well for himself. He’s worked very hard for what he has and I am proud of him.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

New Christians Class #2

Last night during youth groups I had my second “New Christians” class. I used the Apostolic Creed as the basis of my teaching. I told students that Christ is our foundation but more is needed to build faith. The Apostolic Creed offers twenty “blocks of knowledge.” These truths are universally accepted in nearly all corners of Christendom. Yet despite the universal acceptance of these truths I am very aware I have opened myself to criticism by using a “creed.” One of the fundamental teachings of my church tradition is no creed is needed other than Christ. “No creed but Christ” sounds very convincing but I doubt if it has any significance to a new believer. Besides, by the time you flesh out “no creed but Christ” you essentially have an official creed on your hands.

I started the group discussion with my favorite story on baptism, Philp and the Eunice. Then we split up twenty scripture verses between eight students. Surprisingly, none of the students had a problem looking them up in the Bible (which will not happen every time). Then we went through the twenty points of the creed as students read the scripture that backed them up. I had hoped than after going through the creed, students would respond by saying like the Eunice, “Look there is water. Why can’t I be baptized?”

We flew through the creed in less than 25 minutes then I closed by watching a live performance of Rich Mullins playing the song “Creed” on DVD. Our time went by very fast. Too fast. I didn’t give students an opportunity to think about what they were learning. The best thing I did, however, was create a hand out of the creed with a scripture reference for students to take home. I challenged them to put it somewhere they would see it every day, read it out loud twice a day, and to look up the scriptures listed if they had time. If any fruit comes from the use of the creed it will be through the daily repetition as students make the effort to grow in their faith.

When I made the decision to use the creed, a thought came to me that would appear to have contradicted a statement I wrote on Oct. 6, 2005; “The five finger exercise, in all practical purposes, is a check list to agree with before being baptized.” It would appear that by introducing the Apostolic Creed, I generated a check list of twenty items that are to be agreed upon with before a believer's baptism. Did I make matters four times worse? Time will tell. But for now, I think the Apostolic Creed can help build more faith in God, Christ, the Spirit, the Bible, and the Church than the “five finger exercise.”

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Dance Went Well

It’s Sunday morning and I have some time on my hands before Sunday school begins. Last Friday’s school dance went very well. The students were very appreciative of our efforts however, they could have used a little more Green Day. I am very appreciative of Nick F. and Casey McV. Their musical talents make a hack like me look far better than the talents I actually possess. It was a lot of fun. The matter I am most proud of is that three Christian guys helped high school students have fun at a dance without it being too “churchy.” Those are words that are typically not associated with each other: Christian, dance, fun, not churchy. Hopefully, our efforts displayed that being a Christian is not a life sentence to stand against the wall to watch everyone else dance. I wonder how Christianity and dancing grew to be opposing forces anyway?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Moving Past the Check List

Within the last month, two concerned church members came to me requesting I approach their child about the matter of baptism. Sensing there were more in the youth group, I spent two weeks promoting a special breakout group for anyone interested in exploring baptism. Last night was the first group meeting. Eight students voluntarily attended.

I’m shying away from the traditional Christian Church five finger exercise (faith, repentance, baptism, remission of sin, and the gift of the holy spirit). I was taught this as a child, trained in Bible College, and seen is used at both churches I have worked. It is a time test method to teach new believers. But as McLaren wrote, “Learning isn’t a consequence of teaching or listening…but a consequence of thinking.”

Christendom has too many unwilling to think about their faith. As a result, they are unsure of what they believe, therefore, are “[un]prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks [them] to give the reason for the hope that [they] have” (I Peter 3:15). The five finger exercise, in all practical purposes, is a check list to agree with before being baptized. It maybe a “good foundation” to start off with, I question if students build upon what they have been taught. I believe there is a way to foster critical thinking, to present the message of salvation so that students will “have tasted that the Lord is good.” (I Peter 2:3), and as a result they will come to Jesus (I Peter 2:4).

I do not judge those who continue to use this method (though I am sure some will find my questioning as a form of judgment) but I cannot continue this traditional method in good conscience. I desire students to think about their faith not just agree with what I tell them.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Lame but Foolish Not To

Three weeks ago a small group of us from church play at a community festival for a variety show (see pic in bio). We were the equivalent of Paul Schaffer & Kevin Eubanks. We played four covers and two patriotic songs for people to sing along. Someone from the high school saw us and asked if we would play at a school dance in just a few weeks. I've been scrambling to get a song list together that I could musically and vocally pull off which was no easy task. I know hundreds of worship songs by heart but only a handful of tunes that students would dance to. I stayed in the office late last night to knock out the final set list. We will have a short practice tonight and the dance is on Friday. It will good to get things over with. The $50 I'm getting is a joke considering the amount of time I've had to put in but at least this project has got me out of the "praise chorus" rut I've been in for the late five years. It’s somewhat lame that a 28 year old guy is playing at a school dance but when a youth minister is asked to do something for the school it would have been foolish to pass up.

For a good laugh check out www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow/dave_tv/ls_dtv_comedy_clips.shtml
then click on Biff Hangs With the American Chopper Guys (09/19/05). (An appreciation for David Letterman and the show American Chopper would be helpful.)

Monday, October 03, 2005

I Have Arrived

“Blogging” was revealed to me just six months ago. It seemed like an interesting concept but I saw no practical need to post my person thoughts for the whole world to see. The first blogs I read were leaders from www.emergentvillage.com. I stumbled through a few others without giving consideration of one for my own use. Then I came across the blog of Chris Holohan, a college friend, who is currently in South Africa. Then I came across a blog from the guys in the David Crowder Band. It was the sum total of these e-encounters that motivated me to created a blog for myself. I have no idea if others will read it. However I am confident that I will benefit from recording my own thoughts. At least I can say that now my moment has arrived. I have a blog.