Thursday, May 28, 2009

Acts 2 - The Holy Spirit Is PINK (?)

As I thought about Pentecost this year, I couldn't help thinking of the song by Pink, “I'm coming up, so you better get this party started.” This might be a stretch, but I wonder if Pink is a metaphor of the Holy Spirit? Listen to some of the words:

I'm comin' up so you better get this party started
I'm comin' up so you better get this party started
Get this party started on a Saturday night
Everybody's waiting for me to arrive
Sendin' out the message to all of my friends ...

Last week, Yoni read Jesus' words: “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised … you will receive power when the the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere ...” (Acts 1:4, 8).

Making my connection as I enter the room
Everybody's chilling as I set up the groove
Pumpin' up the volume with this brand new beat
Everybody's dancing and they're dancing for me
I'm your operator, you can call anytime
I'll be your connection to the party line

I'm comin' up so you better get this party started
I'm comin' up so you better get this party started

Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit …” and people from all around town “heard the loud noise” and “came running” (Acts 2:2-6).

Pentecost was God's coming out party. ...

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

56 Foreigners Quarantined for Swine Flu

Amazing, but true.
50 some odd teachers were at a week long training session, on their first week in Korea. After the training, everyone dispersed to their hakwons and new apartments all around Korea.
Then, uh oh ... big uh oh ... one of the weigooks (foreigners) was diagnosed with swine flu, for real!
Every last person in the training session was rounded up in ambulances by masked medical personal, and they were returned to the same hotel that hosted the training session. It was something like the movie Blindness without the blindness and total anarchy.
Actually, it was a perfect brew for culture shock for everyone concerned, as the Korean leaders barked stringent orders and the foreigners more or less ignored them at will. Not staying in rooms, going out onto the balconies, smuggling in contraban like alcohol and cigarettes, defying direct orders, holding sit-ins for internet service, etc.
There is a guy who is blogging about the whole ordeal. Yes, as of today, it is still ongoing. He is actually a good writer and sometimes I found myself laughing out loud at the hilarious absurdities involved in this difficult situation. It's a good read. Check it out. And yes, this is an actual picture of the swine-flu-blogging quarantine-ee, though he doesn't actually have it ... so far.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Summer Goals

All of our pastoral team is setting goals 3 times a year. Here are my goals for this summer (May to August).

  1. Make sure everything is ready while I am gone, and especially while Matt and I are both gone.

  2. Help the Advisory Council teams accomplish their final goals for the church year.

  3. Read the book, Transforming Church Boards, and make plans to improve our Advisory Council Meetings.

  4. Guide the preparations for our Annual Meeting: budget finalization, choosing our long-term partnership, nominations, etc.

  5. Help the Circle of Leadership create enough of a foundation to start a pilot program at the beginning of the fall semester.

(I am not going to finish my sermons a week in advance over the summer, but I hope to start this in the fall.)

I think the most important thing I can do this summer is to help all of our AC teams finish the year with a sense of accomplishment and value (#2). We need for every one of our teams to be able to look back on the year and say, “We did something important. We made a difference. I am glad I helped with this. We can do it again.”

Learning Pony Tails

This semester, it's my job to take Emma to school three or four days a week. In Korean culture, it is crucial for girls to have some kind of decoration in their hair. It is a sign of love and care from the parents. Without it the child seems neglected and uncared for. (This is very similar to African-American culture.)
In the past, I've just helped Emma put in a headband. This is the bare minimum in hair accessories, but it is also easier. A few times, I ventured into hair clips, but I often felt frustrated and gave up.
Something changed last week. Emma asked me to put her hair in a pony tail. I told her that she would have to do that on days when Mommy could fix her hair, but she persisted. I decided to give it a try.
Surprisingly it worked OK. With a few tutorials from Sarah (use a comb not a brush, etc.), I'm starting to get the hang of it. On the elevator today, though, I noticed that her pony tail was pointing a little to the left.
Adventures in being a father.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"Lawrence of Arabia" - Greatest Movie #7

Last weekend, we watched Lawrence of Arabia, the AFI #7 Greatest Movie of All Time. I remember watching parts of it as a child, but I couldn't remember the overall story. It was a little awkward to watch it on YouTube because it was in 26 parts, but we still enjoyed it.
The basic storyline (which is true) is that tribal Arabs were revolting against their Turkish rulers during World War 1, and the British Army decided to support their revolt as a strategy to weaken Turkey (a German ally). Lawrence enters the midst of this as a British officer and expert on Arab culture. His intent is to help the Arabs earn total independence as a unified state. To accomplish this end, he has to do some significant battle strategizing and help the disparate Arab tribes work together as a team. Both of these are huge challenges since the tribes are out-gunned and hostile against each other.
In the process, Lawrence accomplishes his most immediate goals - at least in the short term. But he does so at significant personal cost. He seems to sacrifice his soul to take on the role of a messiah figure.
Lawrence of Arabia is a poignant picture of the struggles of multiculturalism and visionary leadership. I can't give it the full 5J's because it's a little weird at times, and possibly because I read the whole story on Wikipedia's site. All in all, though, it's a good move: jjjj.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Acts 10 - Dangerous

I grew up in Texas, and Texans love Country Music. I grew up singing songs by Garth Brooks, songs like:

I've got friends in low places
Where the whiskey drowns
And the beer chases my blues away
And I'll be okay
I'm not big on social graces
Think I'll slip on down to the oasis
Oh, I've got friends in low places

One of Garth Brooks' less famous songs is, “Unanswered Prayers.” The song is in a story form. He meets an ex-girlfriend at a football game, and he remembers how he prayed – how he begged – God to give him this one girl. Then, he looks over at his wife and thanks God for NOT answering that prayer. “Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers,” he sings.

I've been thinking this week that some of our prayers are pretty dangerous.

God, make me patient. Be careful what you pray for, right?!

God, make me like Jesus. – Uh, dangerous? Hello! He died on a cross!

God, help me to trust you. Remember what happened when Peter trusted Jesus. He ended up walking on a stormy sea.

Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. - Everyone who sins against us? No matter what the sin?

God, lead us. Show us your will, and help us to follow. - Yeah, that will get you into trouble every time.

What about this one? We pray this one every week here. May God make us a loving community that changes our world. What if God really starts answering this prayer? ...

To continue reading this sermon, click here.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Imposing a Curfew

As part of our effort to find a healthy rhythm, Sarah and I are imposing a curfew/lights out policy on ourselves. It sounds kind of silly, but we are tired of being tired. So our goal is now to have the lights out at 10:30 on week nights.
We are hoping that this will help us to get enough sleep so that we can do the other stuff in our day w/o feeling tired all the time. We have both found that it's really hard to find the motivation to exercise or to pray if we are tired. If I'm tired, I just fall asleep when I sit still for devotions.
This new lights out policy means that we often can't watch the TV show we planned to watch or don't read together as planned. We can pretty much just do one thing after we put Emma to bed, and then we have to go to bed ourselves.
I don't know if this means we are getting old or just facing reality - or both.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Finding my Rhythm

Well, as a white boy growing up in the suburbs, I never had any real rhythm, not musically anyway. I regularly step on Sarah's feet and/or lose the count when we dance.
But I did have some rhythm as a pastor. I had a schedule and a plan that worked for me.
Now, however, with more freedom and less office time (since I'm sharing with Sarah), I'm having a hard time finding a good rhythm. Also, I have to take Emma to school four mornings a week, so I can't go into work early.
I'm hoping to try something new - one night a week working late in the office, but we'll see how that materializes. For anyone out there who prays, occassionally even for me, I'd appreciate some prayers up to the Big One that he'll help me figure out a good working schedule that will help me take care of our church and my family (and myself along the way).

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Review Bankruptcy

OK, so I've decided that I'm too far behind to catch up on all the reviews that I've missed. I'm declaring "review bankruptcy" and starting over. From this point forward, I'll try to write a short little review on all the books I read.
This week, I read John Grisham's The Partner. I can only handle a few Grisham books a year because I usually end up staying up half the night when I get to the middle of the book because I don't want to quit reading. I did that on Tuesday night of this week. I probably read 200 pages in one night.
The over-all outline of his stories are generally predictable, but he is a master of suspense along the way. His characters get into such difficult circumstances, and I get so attached to the protagonists, that I desperately want to see how the conflict resolves, so I keep reading and reading.
The Partner was a very fun read, but it wasn't particularly profound. It was a good, fun novel, but not especially great in terms of literature. I'll give it 4js: jjjj.