Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Clean Mangers and Dead Oxen

Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, is one of the more famous and controversial pastors in America. Today he spoke in the seminary chapel service here at Trinity. It was a lecture on preaching as part of a church planting boot camp that's going on here this week (Mark Dever, another famous Mark pastor from the other side of the country will be speaking tomorrow at 12:45 and 3:00 in case anyone's reading this who might be interested and able to attend). It was a very good lecture with a lot of great insights on preaching and a lot of stuff that is pretty controversial, as one expects from Driscoll. Anyway, as an aside illustration at one point he referred to Proverbs 14:4. I read Proverbs often, ideally daily. In the last three years I've probably read any given chapter in Proverbs as many as 20 times (it would be 36 if I had self-discipline). Thanks to an exercise I did with my pastor in college I pay especial attention to the proverbs that deal with laziness and work. Proverbs 14:4 never rang a bell. "Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox." At Driscoll's church this is a base verse that they use in a boot camp they hold for new Christian men. It's easy to keep your manger clean if you've got no oxen. You don't have to work at all. But you also get no crops. A lot of young men are lazy. Many of us who aren't so young anymore are lazy, me especially. But if we're really going to have full lives that bear fruit for God and leave a good legacy for future generations then we need to get out and work. We need to get some oxen and get in the field and give up the extra two hours of sleep and the DVD tonight and the playstation or computer game and get into the field. There was a lot of other stuff but Proverbs 14:4 was pretty convicting.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Week in Review

I always think of a million things to blog about while time passes. Then I hop on here and can't bring myself to do anything more than post an update of whatever I've done in the past days, weeks, months since last I blogged. That's pretty much what's happening here.

Saturday 1/19. I went over to Cindee's and watched the Lord of the Rings with Cindee and several other friends. We managed it in less than 13 hrs., which is to say that we made pretty good time. I think I agree with Cindee that while the RotK extended edition added some good stuff it's also the only one of the three that added rotten stuff as well, viz. the death of Saruman (good for Christopher Lee but fundamentally misconceived in the writing), all additions to the Paths of the Dead sequence, The confrontation of Gandalf and the Witchking, Aragorn confronting Sauron through the palantir (good in conception but very confusing), The parley before the Morannon (he did need killing). All show the bitter fruits of earlier poor decisions to stray from the text and of fundamental misunderstandings of the characters. On the other hand a movie series that contains the charge of the Rohirrim on the Pelennor Fields and the departure from the Grey Havens is still exponentially better than all other movies combined and cubed.

Sunday 1/20. I got the chance to teach an elective for 3rd Place, our church senior high ministry, on the Virgin Mary in two 35-50 min. sessions. Our area has a large Catholic population and a lot of our students have friends and family that are Catholic, if they aren't themselves, so the differences between our church and the Catholic church are significant. In the first session on the 6th I tried to focus us on what the Bible says about Mary. This week we focused on what the churches say about Mary. It was an interesting time. Since most of the students had the following day off in observation of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday we started off by talking about the students' thoughts on setting aside specific days to honor people. They thought it was good to have a day to remember and honor Dr. King but thought a day set aside by the church to remember or honor someone other than Jesus seemed idolatrous. Then we went into a discussion of some of the historical teachings about Mary, e.g. that she is the Mother of God or Ever Virgin. At this point I realized that I had spent too much time studying and not enough time organizing information or planning the session. I do this almost every time I try to teach something, so hopefully I'll start to learn the lesson. It's not enough to know a lot about something to teach somebody about it.
After 3rd Place ended I went out and watched No Country for Old Men. It was brilliant. It's very much like Fargo but with competent criminals, a West Texas setting, and no music. Anton Chigurh, the hitman played by Javier Bardem, is the force of nature that Gaer Grimsruud and Carl Showalter (not to mention Millers Crossing's Tom Regan or O Brother's Ulysses McGill) dream of being. Tommy Lee Jones steps in to the Marge Gunderson role of the local cop trying to put it all together and Josh Brolin plays the part of the everyman trying to improve his life but calling down the storm (otoh, if Jerry Lundergaard was the man that Llywelin Moss is, his scheme would have succeeded and there wouldn't have been a Fargo). A big part of the power of Fargo is the hardanger fiddle playing over the empty snowscape of the Minnesota winter. Perhaps an equal part of the power of No Country is the silence that reigns over the West Texas plains. I love the way the Coen's use music and this time I love the way that they didn't.
Also on Sunday I heard a good sermon about Ephesians 2:1-10. The Dang Patriots handled the Chargers and have forced to root for the Giants in the Super Bowl.

Monday, 1/21. I had today off for the holiday. I spent it at home doing laundry, arranging my room and waiting for various sites to load on my dial up connection. I couldn't get blogger up or we'd have read most of the preceding parts of the post already. Monday afternoon I saw the movie Juno. It was a very good and entertaining portrait of a teenager dealing with pregnancy and deciding to give the baby up for adoption. It's impossibly hip and witty but also tender, sweet and fun.

Tuesday-Friday. I spent most of the time working. Steve led our LIFEgroup in a discussion of Romans 1:1-17. Nate led the 3-D guys in a very good discussion of how they ought to relate to girls and how to navigate the upcoming dating waters. Most nights involved the watching of Doctor Who episodes from the library. I have a new contender for the favorite show mantle. I've been really impressed with both Christopher Eccleston's and David Tennant's incarnations of the Doctor. I spent most of last night hanging out with my friends Jason, Bonny, Jenn, and Dave. I learned to play Scene-It which is now one of my favorite games but they may not play with me again.

Saturday, 1/26. I slept in--as is right and proper to do on Saturdays. After getting up I did some more straightening in my room and inventoried my cd's. I have way too many cd's. I also went through my clothes and identified some stuff I can donate to Goodwill or Salvation Army and thus be able to put my clothes away. I've got way too much stuff. Then I went online, and now I've blogged.

Verse of the week:
"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, Rejoice." Philippians 4:4

Random amusing quotes:
"Shouldn't Gandalf's sword be blowing glue, too?" Steve's observation on a recent viewing of Fellowship.

"What's the most embarrassing thing your kids have done?" Youth 1
"My kids are perfect." New volunteer leader, jokingly
"Where did you get them?" Youth 2, deadpan.
In 3-D and 3rd Place it's tradition to allow the kids to ask new leaders any three questions on their first night. I think this is my favorite interaction I've seen from any of these.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Scale Model Candy Battle of the Pelennor Fields

I'm in awe. I'm also hungry. This is an amazing feat that should be seen to be believed. I wish I had an attention span capable of carrying out something similar.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Plunging Into the New Year

The venerable Mr. Lang's neon marker has been illuminated and a new year has come in. For several months now my mind has been wanting to write 2008 at the end of dates and it felt very freeing to do so on my rent check and the health waiver I signed this morning. I hope it's a good year and that I experience it that way. I just as soon enjoy it as it comes as in retrospect but I'll take what God gives.

I had a good break over the last week. I went home and heard Daddy sing powerfully about the Holy Night. I saw Mom share her love and clean house with others on Christmas Eve. I opened cool gifts in Georgetown, Corbin, and Red Bank, though I missed the singing in Corbin in the midst of the fun games. I had fun with Ann and Daniel and with Lydia and Geron and Cora. We got to share a short but nice visit with my friend John, owner of the Harmony House Cafe off U.S. 27 in Dayton, TN. I was good to hear John's vision for ministry and education. I got to try the shepherd's pie and bread pudding in Rugby, TN and ride across KY-92 between Whitley City and Williamsburg just north of Jellico Mountain. I enjoyed the relationship between my parents and the staff and owners of the Plum Tree in Georgetown and enjoyed the food as always. I had a good smooth drive back to Illinois and got to celebrate New Years on Greenwich Mean Time over web cam with friends at Cindee's. I got to try a good beef stewp and lose, yes, lose two games of Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit. It wasn't even really close on my end. Cindee, Gill, Karen and Janie were just too good. I got snowed in Long Grove but with help managed to make it up to Waukegan to ring in the new year in several more time zones with a bunch of friends while playing foosball and making continent shaped champagne spills.

This morning I went back up to Waukegan to plunge into Lake Michigan to support Special Athletics. The water wasn't too bad and the warming tent was positively nice. I'da stayed in longer but Steve'da frozen if I had. He wouldn't go into the nice warm (relative to the air) water but was willing to stand on the beach in the cold wind with a camera to capture my folly. Like so many other blogs I've read, I've spent the day resting and puttering or "mildewing" as Daddy says.

There's a lot to look forward to this year. I get to teach youth about Mary, about Reading the Bible, about other stuff we decide to study. I get to lead a fine LIFEgroup. I get to live holier and hopefully healthier. I get to read all kinds of books and maybe blog about them for a change. I get to read about libraries and information science, about the development of the canon of scripture, to read medieval and later epic poems in translation, to read Discworld, Tolkien, and others. I get to help advance the collection at a fine library and finally contribute to some exciting changes in how we provide access to that collection. I'll probably get to travel some and see folks I love in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Minnesota, and maybe other places as well. I get, even now, to remember that my life is but a vapor, if a heavy one, and that Lord willing, I'll live and do this or that. Whatever I do I want to prove the shirt I wore into the Lake this morning and do everything to the Glory of God. Happy New Year to y'all whosoever you are.

Verse of the year:
"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the father through him." Colossians 3:17 (ESV)