Archive for March, 2012

This morning I am teaching Confirmation class to some fifty 6th graders. So of course, I was thinking about basketball ūüėČ

That much is normal. What is not normal is that I was thinking about North Carolina basketball….in a positive light! Some of you won’t understand, but members of Big Blue Nation (University of Kentucky fans) are raised from birth to understand that the Tar Heels are the enemy!

How did I get there? This morning’s class was on our doctrinal distinctives. I was thinking about how we are often able to see because we stand on other’s shoulders. For example, John Wesley brought to the church an understanding from Scripture of God as a loving Father, but standing on the shoulders of others helped him see. Luther and Calvin are examples of those who had gone before and given great insight to the church.

And so I was thinking about Dean Smith, past coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels. Dean Smith is credited with so many innovations we now take as normal:

  • Huddling at the free throw line before a free throw attempt
  • Pointing a finger at the guy who made the assist
  • Giving the “tired” signal to the coach when a player needs a rest
  • Using multiple defenses in a game
  • Using the point guard to call out the defensive sets
  • And perhaps the most infamous, the ball control offense. Dean Smith managed to make the game so boring by effectively running the four corner offense that the NCAA instituted a shot clock to speed up play.

The kind of basketball that I and countless other fans love today – that of aggressive, fast-paced offense would not have been possible without Dean Smith’s extremely effective use of the rules of that day. In fact, it occurs to me now that when Kentucky wins their 8th National Championship on April 2nd, they may owe a sort of a debt of gratitude to Dean Smith!

I stand on the shoulders of more people than I can count. My dad’s integrity and humility. My mother’s hospitality and passion for the overlooked and the outcast. Dr. Kinlaw’s preaching. Jeff Blake’s encouragement. Hule Goddard’s mentoring. Rev. Slone’s teaching. Annamarie Hamilton’s grace. And on and on. I did a Facebook post once mentioning many who had invested in me…and on whose shoulders I stand to see.

Whose shoulders do you stand on?

And this may be another whole post, but while Dean Smith changed the game for the better…the final result looks like nothing he envisioned. As others stand on my shoulders and on yours, can we let them improve on what we have created even when it feels like dismantling? Looking back, how do we learn from those who went before to allow others to come after?

I see that people from five countries checked in on this blog in the last seven days. ¬†But since Suzanne Collins’ series on The Hunger Games has now been translated into 26 languages, I feel pretty safe in saying this pretty broadly: “You and I have been hearing about The Hunger Games for quite awhile now.”

Here in Tulsa and all over the U.S., people are camped out waiting for the midnight premiere to begin.  What are they waiting to see?

  • A cultural event (ala Avatar, Twilight or the Lord of the Rings)?
  • A film about teenagers killing one another?
  • A new teen romance?
  • Something more?
As uncomfortable as I am with a movie that normalizes teens killing one another, this movie promises to provide some rich opportunity for important conversation.  (If you are going to this film just for the entertainment value, I really hope you will check yourself and reconsider!)

I want to call your attention to three websites have done a great job setting the table for us to “plunder Egypt” on this film.

The first is Julie Clawson’s blog with the great article found here: ¬†

Julie’s insights are sharp. ¬†To restate them in my own words, ¬†I particularly appreciated her thought that this film event may create a unique opportunity to discuss oppression and and injustice in a context that has not been demagogued or dismissed yet. ¬†I also enjoyed her highlighting the irony of making a film that fights against the exploitation of teens as objects while objectifying and exploiting the young teen movie stars of the film. ¬†Julie has a book out on The Hunger Games and the Gospel. ¬†I have not read it, but I’ll bet it is worth a look.

The second website is  Put together by Asbury Seminary, it promises to be an outstanding collection of blogs and posts.  J.D. Walt and others in the Seedbed Team have created a conversation guide for the Hunger Games ready for digital download.  It appears to be free.  Check it out here:

This last one (from Relevant magazine) focuses on community and faith as possible discussion points.

I’d love to hear your thoughts over the next couple of weeks as you engage with this film and with the young people in your sphere of influence.

They really do!

Posted: March 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

Face time and think time make a difference“.

From an Edward Jones commercial

I did very little studying in high school and backed into a history minor in college. I took the two required courses and discovered I loved the teachers in that department. So I signed up for more.  By the time I started to acquire study skills I was halfway to a minor. As a result, I know just enough history to make me dangerous.  Deep dives in some areas, pretty sketchy in others.

My knowledge of St. Patrick and/or the Irish is pretty  limited.  I know enough to understand that our culture wears green on March 17.  I have a Celtic prayer book that I sometimes use.   And I know that the Irish club soccer team from Lexington, KY I often played against in the 80s and early 90s tended to play in the air instead of the ground, even thought they were not particularly tall.

Beyond that, I have been intrigued by Thomas Cahill’s book, How the Irish Saved Civilization, but not enough to read it cover to cover.¬† And I have really¬†appreciated Dr. George Hunter’s book, The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Win the West…Again.¬†¬†¬†This one I have read several times.

To oversimplify¬†Hunter’s thesis, he suggests that we live in a culture closer to the Celtic world (spiritual, but without¬†knowledge or awareness of Christ) rather than¬†Rome.¬† As a result, St. Patrick’s community-based, relationally driven discipleship along the way to evangelism¬†will be more effective than the¬†proclamational evangelism that precedes discipleship that¬†developed due to persecution¬†in the Roman world.¬†

Let me quote from the preface of his book…and tell me what you think about what he is saying and¬†how¬†it might¬†impact youth ministry in 2012.

The¬†Church, in the western world, faces populations who are increasingly “secular” — people with no Christian memory, who don’t know what we Christians are talking about.¬† These populations are increasingly “urban” — and out of touch with God’s natural revelation.”¬† These populations are increasingly “post-modern”; they have graduated from Enlightenment ideology and are more peer-driven, feeling driven, and right-brained than their forebears.

These populations are increasingly “neo-barbarian”; they lack¬†“refinement” or¬†“class” and their lives are often out¬†of control.¬† These populations are increasingly receptive–exploring worldview options from Astrology¬†to Zen–and are often looking¬†“in all the wrong places” to make sense of their lives and find their soul’s true home.¬†¬†

Many Western church leaders are in denial; they plan and do church as though next year will be 1957.¬† Furthermore, most of the Western church leaders who are not in denial do not know how to engage the epidemic numbeers of secular, post-modern, neo-barbarians outside (and inside) their churches.¬† Moreover, the very few who do know what to do are intuitive geniuses who cannot teach others what they know (or charismatic leaders who cannot yet be cloned).”

Any thoughts?¬† Is he on the right track? I really respect this blog’s audience…what thoughts, questions or insights are you willing to share?

For years I challenged the kids in my youth group to compete with me….to try and outpick me with their own March Madness bracket.¬† Anyone who¬†did better than I¬†would get a free meal with me at a fast food restaurant of their choice.

It wasn’t that I was all that good – althoughI did okay.¬† ¬†(I am a college basketball fan – a long-time member of Big Blue Nation!¬†I grew up in central where people learn their basketball before they learn to talk.)¬†¬† It just didn’t matter. I got to share an experience with a bunch of students for the month of March. It had legs to continue year after year. Bragging rights were a big deal. Sometimes the most unexpected people won. Posting the bracket copies on my office door created a lot of traffic on Sundays.

And every time I lost, I won. I got to take a student to dinner….and they got to brag about it.

Selection Sunday is tomorrow. Feel free to steal the idea and change it to fit!

That’s my mom’s name for this Civic actually. And since she and dad owned it for the first 280,000 miles or so of her life I suppose she gets that right. Anyway, the name stuck. And Old Faithful she has been.

In 1998 my parents gifted her to me and I drove her around 15,000 miles or so over the next two years. She ran like a dream. But an impending move, a fender-bender, and a failing alternator convinced me to let her go to one of my youth who was making a long commute in a four wheel drive full-size pickup. Mechanically inclined, he was delighted to pay me $50 and take the car.

Two years ago (and a decade later) a chance phone conversation led me to discover that the young man who bought the Civic had just bought another car. I called him and offered $100 sight unseen for the vehicle. It took a little money to get her ready for my kids to drive, but not too bad for a car pushing 330,000 miles.

For the last two years, first my daughter and now my son have used her to commute to school. Until last night. At 357,233 miles Old Faithful decided it was time to retire for good. As I sit here waiting for the tow truck (75 minutes so far) I am remembering….and reflecting on faithfulness.

That was going to be it for today’s post. Just a fluff nostalgia piece on my old Civic DX.

BUT…reflecting on faithfulness takes me back to this morning’s confirmation class. Coach Connie (working with youth and children in our church now for 44 years on June 1.¬†Chaplain for Miss America pageant for 34 years) was telling the stories of 126 years of faithfulness ( since a group of Indians and settlers came together to start a church in “Tulsey Town.”

We saw the apron that Mother Mobery used to collect the weapons at the door so her husband could preach. We heard the stories of the Red Brick revival and our church becoming a hospital during the race riots. We heard again about the Joash chest walk in 1929 when people gave belongings such as silver, jewelry,anything of value to save the church. And many more. This church has been faithful and home to the faithful.

But more than stories, we saw and heard from the passionate, godly FAITHFUL Coach Connie as she loved on a room full of confirmands.

A faint allegory and a rich reflection of the Father’s faithfulness. Thanks, Lord, for giving me opportunity and eyes to see.

Have you seen faithfulness this week?