Thanksgiving as a Pilgrim

Read this Thanksgiving greeting from our Prague team leaders. We can’t wait to be there sojourning with them next Thanksgiving.

Things I’m a cheeseball over.

I’m a fairly levelheaded guy, but I have some soft spots. Things like this can get a tear out of me.

  1. Kids, especially mine (Sam and anticipated future ones).
  2. Things related to patriotism or the military.
  3. Christmas.
  4. People who have been married a long time. (For example, Melissa and I both cried at the end of the John Adams miniseries. I guess that would encompass #s 2 and 4.)

And you?

Thankful that people come up with stuff like this.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Things like this help you see there’s still hope for the world.

Google Visitors

My friend Annie discusses some of the Google searches that land folks on her blog.

As for me, Google traffic is almost always Shack-related. (In fact, I’m the top 2 results for “the shack theological errors.” Not sure how I feel about that.)

So if you landed here looking for info on The Shack, welcome. Kick off your shoes and stay awhile. And please know that I try to do more than bash popular books.

Obama’s Religious Outreach

Obviously it didn’t hurt him too badly, but this Politico article confirms my suspicions that Obama didn’t do any better among white weekly churchgoers than Kerry in 2004 or Gore in 2000.

And not surprisingly, some backpedaling from an advisor:

Asked about Obama’s failure to attract larger numbers of white weekly churchgoers to the Democratic ticket, an Obama adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the subject, denied that the group had been a priority for the campaign.

“We were focused on moderate people of faith, moderate mainline Protestants and moderate Catholics,” he said, adding that he nonetheless thought regular churchgoers would come around. “Over time if they get to know Obama. … I think those numbers will increase.” (Side comment: Note that “not knowing” Obama is the reason they voted against him. Is it possible they knew enough to know they didn’t want to vote for him?)

This is interesting for at least 2 reasons. First, it shows that Obama’s highly-touted ability to reach out to (white) evangelicals was like the emperor’s new clothes. Second, it shows that a presidential candidate can win decisively without putting much of a dent in the evangelical community. I imagine we’ll see what that means in 2010 or 2012.

Favorite live covers. Go.

In no particular order.

  1. Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing,” Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, Live From Mars
  2. Copland’s “Hoedown,” Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, Live at the Quick
  3. The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” (in the style of Aretha Franklin & Duane Allman), Derek Trucks Band w/ Susan Tedeschi, 04.12.08 (Wanee Fest, Live Oak, FL)
  4. Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,” The Duhks, 06.11.08 (Charlotte, NC)
  5. Bob Dylan’s “She Belongs to Me,” The Happenin’, various dates ca 2002
  6. Any cover by the Black Crowes. They use covers to point you to their influences, and those will open up a whole new world of music you never heard. I’ve bought several records and gotten into several artists just because the Crowes covered one of their songs.

What are some of yours?

A modest proposal for news agencies.

Most days on NPR or elsewhere, I hear a few stories that go about like this:

  • The Dow is going straight to hell. The Great Depression was a day at the beach.
  • A billion more jobs were cut yesterday, and yours is probably next.
  • The only solution is for the government to suspend habeus corpus, sell 12 or 13 states and give the money to car companies.

I think we’ve all settled that the economic news is going to get worse for a while before it gets better, so I have a suggestion.

Stop reporting it.

Seriously, how many of us really need to know what the Dow is doing? Does it matter how many people lost their jobs? Seems like it only really matters if you’ve lost yours, and if you have you probably heard about it before Carl Castle. And goodness only knows what Congress is going to do, other than lose more even more approval points.

I say leave it be. No sense dwelling on the unpleasant. No more financial news until after the first quarter of 2009. If we’re having a recession, depression, meltdown or whatever else, just wake me up when it’s over.

I’m no Reid Jones, but…

I’ve been working on my trying to develop some Adobe skills. Here are some recent projects.

First, a little welcome present for Dave Latham, who took my place at the bookstore. This was done with lots of consultation with Reid, my design guy (and who’s glad I’m actually learning to do some of this stuff myself, instead of producing and directing him). I decided this would be a good use of a sizeable chunk of my Wednesday.

change-we-can-believe-in1

Next, a little more down to earth: We’re making magnet pictures of Sam’s out-of-town friends so he can learn their names. Lucy is of course at the top of the list.

lucy

A Step Toward Prague

I quit my job.

Support-raising has gone well for us; people have been very generous. The biggest limitation we’ve faced has been time. I’ve had a fulltime job, and with Sam Melissa basically does too. Then support-raising is a part-time job on top of that. So we’ve considered it a great week if we could spend 8-10 hours on support. At that pace, it would take a L  O  N  G  time to raise all the support we need.

But the good news is that we have enough money raised that it’s financially viable for me to start working fulltime on support. So starting Monday, that’ll be my gig. It will help us to be more organized and deliberate, it will free Melissa up not to have to do all the admin work, and we hope that putting in more like 40 hours a week will mean that God provides all the support we need quickly, so that we can get to Prague in early spring (hopefully March).

Please pray for my work– that I’ll be organized and disciplined, and that God will bless our efforts and get us to Prague ASAP.

Dispatches From the Support-Raising Front

Not many people get a glimpse into what life is like as a missionary raising support. Melissa and I were talking about some of our funnier moments, so I thought I’d share some with you, gentle reader.

***

Non-Christians, understandably, do not know Christian lingo, and they come up with funny stuff in its place. (Sometimes theirs is better. Who in the world came up with the phrase “quiet time”?) Yesterday I was explaining our Prague plans to a guy I’d just met, and he said, “So, you’re planning to build a church for your religion in Prague.”

That will certainly get worked into 1) our standard support talk and 2) my Facebook status.

***

Once in a support meeting, a guy who’s known me my whole life asked, with no context or warning, “So what do you think about the Catholics?”

***

Another person was very disappointed to see a picture in some of our material of an event in Prague where a guy was drinking beer. Of course, the real story there would have been if there were an event in Prague where there was no beer. But it was really pretty stupid of me to waltz into the home of a conservative Christian in middle GA and not expect that to happen. The picture has since been scrubbed. (At a later appointment the same day, we had a glass of wine with the potential supporters. You just never know.)

***

I do not at all enjoy the formality of going through our presentation and then making an appeal. I would prefer to sit around, have Prague come up, answer questions, casually get everything said that needs to be said, and then have them say “Well, we’d love to support you guys.”

Once we had dinner with some friends for the purpose of talking about support. We’d had the talk, then we drifted to other things, had dessert, and when it was time to start putting kids to bed the guy and his wife exchanged glances and he said “Well, we’re ready for the ask when you guys are.”

I’ve since been much more deliberate and purpose-driven in support meetings.

***

We always get asked about ministry to internationals vs. ministry to Czechs– e.g. why is it an English-speaking church, will you try to meet Czechs, etc. In the most formal version of our talk, this comes under a section that Melissa handles. But for the first couple of months, she had a really tough time getting a handle on the summary answer, which is that there’s a “two-pronged approach.” Really, any answer that uses the phrase “two-pronged approach” would do. But early on, Melissa tended to stumble over that point and be less than clear. In one presentation at a church, she basically gave the impression that we could care less about the souls of Czechs and probably wouldn’t walk across the street to share the Gospel with them. She was temporarily relieved of her duties where that question was concerned.

***

More to come, I’m sure. Thank goodness it’s God moving through his people, not our mad social skills, that brings in the provision we need!

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