Monday, June 30, 2008

A Couple of Brief Movie Reviews

Last weekend, Sheryl and I were able to get out and see Get Smart, starring Steve Carrell, Anne Hathaway, and Dwayne Johnson (no longer The Rock, I suppose). We enjoyed it quite a bit and had fun. It was nice that it took the storyline somewhat seriously but still had fun with some of the conventions of the Get Smart TV show. I liked that they didn't try to shoehorn cameos by the original actors into it and let it stand on its own. Carrell and Hathaway had great chemistry with each other. Fun movie. Good for a date night. 3.5 out of 5.

This weekend, Sheryl went shopping with her mom and I got to spend some time with the kids. In the morning, we went to see Kung Fu Panda. I was a little leery of it, because I know that some kids' movies can lean toward some light potty humor, which honestly, I don't need Kinsey running around the house making fart jokes. That's my job. (rimshot) At any rate, thankfully, Kung Fu Panda didn't really do that. We all enjoyed it, including Connor who stayed mainly involved in it, except when he dropped his Sprite (sorry to the guy in front of us). If you've seen just about any martial arts and/or underdog type movie, you can see the plotlines coming like a semi down a dirt road. Good kids movie. 3 out of 5

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Question: Church as Democracy

Here's a question that I've been pondering. Within my congregation, we don't "elect" elders per se. But we submit their names as people we think would be good to serve in those roles. If enough submissions are put in for a person, that person or persons agree to or not to stand as elders. We then have the opportunity to raise concerns about them and their fit-ness for the position and then they are ordained. The truth is, once a person's is submitted to the congregation publically, they're pretty much in.

So here's my question: what is the responsibility of the elders, rather of the shepherds to the sheep? If enough of the congregation takes a concern to the shepherds, are they obligated to do something about it? I don't think church is a democracy, but is it authoritarian that is benevolent?

What is the responsibility of elders to the flock and conversely, what is the responsibility of a flock to its shepherds?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

YouTube Thursday: NT Wright on the Colbert Report

So last week, I was all hyped up about my second favorite Anglican, Bishop NT Wright, being on my first favorite political pundit satire show, the Colbert Report.

Here's what happened.

I thought it was pretty good and funny, and it seemed that even Colbert knew some info about Wright's theology, although I'm glad they didn't get into the whole New Perspective stuff.

Here's what Wright said when questioned about being on the Report:
Thanks for your enquiry. Please feel free to post this on blogsites if
people are asking these questions. The answer is that the author does not
'choose' which chat shows to appear on. Rather, the publishers are delighted
if any chance of free advertising comes along, and Colbert has a reputation
for boosting the sales of books quite considerably. It works for me on the
same principle as General Booth's comment that if he could win one more soul
to the Lord by playing the tambourine with his toes, he'd do it. I take the
view that if I get even a couple of minutes, even in a rather unlikely
format, to tell people about resurrection - Jesus' resurrection, ours to
come AFTER 'life after death', and the way that works in social justice in
the present - then I should take it. Too many people, including too many
Christians, are completely ignorant of all this.

Of course, if you know anyone who can get me an invite onto Oprah, I guess
I should take that as well. But I don't think it would be so much fun.

Greetings to any who read this - and please pray for me and for other
Anglican leaders this summer!

Tom Wright
It's unfortunate though, that last Thursday's episode won't be remembered for the eloquent Bishop. It'll be remembered for this Monster...

Oh well... I guess playing second fiddle to Cookie Monster isn't the worst thing in the world. At least he fared better than Sean Hannity...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Sometimes I don't blog to see if people will wonder if I'm still alive.

Sometimes I don't blog because I don't have time.

Try to decide what today was...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Kinsey Baseball

Those of you long time readers of this blog will remember that last year, we signed Kinsey up to play baseball. She wasn't very good, but she had so much fun and loved playing with her coach so much that we signed her up again. And again this year, she doesn't have a ton of skill. She's the only girl on the team, but doesn't mind that at all. Much like last year, the ball has to be hit into a 1-foot radius of her for her to try to field it, whereas for the boys, if a ball is hit to left field, there's a good chance that the first baseman will run after it. I asked her about this and she said, "Why should I get it when the boys are going to fight over it?" Which doesn't exactly go along with the spirit of the game, but the logic is had to argue with. She's a pretty good hitter and loves running the bases. But she has so much fun with it that why would we stop her? Anyway, this is the last week of her games (bringing a very busy June to a close), so here are some pictures.

She hits it!

See! I told you she'd hit it!

Kinsey with the boys.

I'm pretty sure that boy is just taking off his helmet and not trying to hit her. Otherwise, I think Kinsey's team would take to her defense. But she scores anyway.

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Open Grape Juice

Even though I haven't been able to go for the prison ministry for the last three months. I was able to get back last night. And as I have many times, I enjoyed it greatly and had a good time with the men there.

What was not so fun was not getting to take communion to them. We got to the Turney Center and brought in our bread and juice as we have for the last three years that I've been a part of it, in an opened container. And for some reason, this time, this wasn't acceptable.

I guess I can understand why. There could be a danger in someone bringing in a liquid that isn't acceptable, but seriously, we're Church of Christ. It's not like we broke out the good wine from the stone jars or something. We do grape juice. I'm sure we probably throw it away if we've kept it for more than a year.

At any rate, we didn't get to take communion to the men and we didn't raise a stink about it last night, but hopefully we can get some kind of special dispensation to make sure that next month, the guys have an opportunity to participate in the Lord's Supper.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Being Defined By What We Aren't

On Wednesday's post, I made the following statement: "It's very easy for a church like Otter Creek to get defined by what we aren't: 'we aren't a conservative church of Christ.'" As I read back over that, it felt like a fairly significant idea. I've talked previously about the idea of the "liberal/progressive Churches of Christ:" Why Go to a Liberal/Progressive Church of Christ? and The Future of the Churches of Christ

There is a lot of baggage that comes with being in the Church of Christ. Some of it good, some of it not so. In towns that have churches of Christ, opinions about us can tend toward negative, and for those of us, that don't want to be associated with that, but still want to bear the name "Church of Christ," it can be a constant struggle to 1) not be defined by that and 2) convince people that we aren't defined by that. Back many moons ago, Adam Ellis and I did our Postrestorationist Radio podcast, with the subtitle, For People Who Don't Go to THAT Kind of Church of Christ, which I think speaks to that problem. If we are in a progressive Church of Christ, it seems that one of our biggest issues is always going to be being defined by what we aren't: We aren't a conservative Church of Christ.

But to me, that's not good enough.

In the past, a church like Otter Creek has been defined this way. And to some extent that's ok. Some people come to a church like that because they are still in a Church of Christ, in a comfort zone. Sometimes it's a time of healing. But if in our minds, we constantly define ourselves by what we aren't, that becomes our crutch and the Spiritual Superiority comeplex. What we have to start doing is seeking what we are, who we are. What are our pursuits? What specific things are we doing to be the Body of Christ? How are we equipping and exhorting our members to be "Little Christs" in our everyday lives?

We HAVE to be able to leave behind the baggage of the Churches of Christ, we have to break fee of the inertia of the status quo, we have to press on: As Paul puts it in Philippians, "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." If we do that, we're not going to have to worry about the baggage or what other people think of the name "Church of Christ," and we can be Jesus to the world, in all its messiness.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

YouTube Thursday: 80's Teen Movie Ending

I forget who sent this to me the other day, but it's a parody of the ending of every 80's teen movie. Ever. And it's hysterical. It's a bit long, but worth it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tim Woodroof

Following Brandon Scott Thomas and Scott Owings, on Sunday, Tim Woodroof, the teaching minister at Otter Creek Church of Christ, announced his resignation. July will be his 10th anniversary of his work at Otter Creek and he felt that it was time to move onto something else. If you want to listen to the announcement from Sunday, you can here.

Well, there are a couple of ways to look at this. Let's take it from Tim's perspective. Tim will be moving on to consulting with other churches and helping them navigate some of the waters that Otter Creek has navigated over the last 10 years. He will also be writing, as he stated on Sunday that he has 4 books that have to get out of him. I am incredibly happy for Tim. He is a man that I think will do very well at this type of work. Because of his book A Church That Flies, he has a strong amount of credibility in working with churches and counseling them. I really believe he's going to do very well at that.

The other perspective is Otter Creek's perspective. Tim's departure is not immediate. He will continue preaching over the summer in a part time role while developing his new work. But it does bring up a ton of questions about what's next for Otter Creek and what's past for Otter Creek.

Losing three ministers in 6 months strikes me as a pretty big deal. Otter Creek has lost ministers before, as have all churches. But it brings up a major question to me about the culture of Otter Creek that 3 ministers have chosen to move on. Is this a false cause-effect notion? Is it possible that all three have left for different reasons? Yes, it is, but in my mind, one is an anomaly, two is a pattern, and three is a problem. The remaining leadership needs to take a look at the culture of leadership and how the membership views leadership and the roles of leaders, and if there is something inherent in how we treat leaders that has been a catalyst for their departures. That's what's past.

What's next.... As I've said before, Otter Creek is really going to miss Tim, much as we have already missed Brandon and Scott. Tim helped guide Otter Creek's theology and caused us to think about many aspects of our faith. But, even in the midst of that and the sadness and disappointment that many feel about his departure, this can also be an opportunity for Otter Creek. This can be an opportunity for the entire church to begin thinking about a redefining of who Otter Creek is. It's very easy for a church like Otter Creek to get defined by what we aren't: "we aren't a conservative church of Christ."

This can be an opportunity for the leadership of the church to look towards the future, for the leadership to decide the kind of church Otter Creek can be and, rather than being satisfied with the status quo, dreaming about the influence that Otter Creek can have, not just within Churches of Christ, and not just within the Christian community, but within the wider community outside our walls. And once the leadership crafts this dream, this goal, they can then seek out someone who will help us achieve it as a community.

This could mean suspending our search for a worship minister for a time. In fact, I'm not sure that a worship minister candidate would want to take a job where he or she doesn't know who the lead teaching minister would be. If that needs to be the case, then that needs to be the case. But the ultimate goal should be to bring together a leadership team that will pursue the advancement of God's purposes for the world and for the ministry of reconciliation that God has called us to.

We all wish the best for Tim and this new phase in his life and his family's life and pray for his continued influence in the Kingdom of God and thank him for what he has done for Otter Creek over the last 10 years. It's a sad time, a time with some thought-provoking questions, but it also can be a great opportunity for Otter Creek if people are willing to look at it in that way.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Kinsey's Party Pics

Friday night, we had a combined birthday party for Kinsey and her cousin, Katie. Thankfully, the rain held off and we were able to keep 30 7- and 4-year-olds occupied. A big part of keeping them occupied was Safari Greg. Safari Greg has animals, does magic, and tells jokes, and really what else do you need. He did a great, great job and was able to teach the kids about the animals as well. He brought out a king snake, a leopard tortoise, a ferret, a cayman (miniature alligator), and a 12-foot-long Burmese python. He did a great job and kept all of those kids occupied and laughing for a full hour. It was a really great party.

Kinsey reacting to the king snake.

Connor touching the cayman.

The 12-foot Burmese python

Connor touching the Burmese python.

Kinsey with the python, but not happy about it.

Kinsey, behind her cake.

Kinsey blowing out her candles.

On Saturday, we headed back to Mom and Dad's (where the party was), since there was family in town and Connor got to play with my uncles David and Bill. I think all 3 had a really great time.

Connor playing with Bill and David

A more "artistic" picture I tried to take... Didn't turn out as well as I hoped.

The kiddos.
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Monday, June 16, 2008

12 Years

Yesterday, Sheryl and I celebrated our 12th anniversary. It was filled with exciting things like church, lunch with family and friends for Father's Day, mowing the yard, small group, and catching fireflies with Kinsey and Connor as the sun set and watching bats fly over our yard.

Twelve years is how long my mom and (bio)dad were married, so this one has always kind of been a weird benchmark for me (not that Sheryl and I have ever contemplated divorce or separation). It was almost like I HAD to make it there and then... well, I don't really know what then. I don't know if that's a characteristic of children of divorce, but it's one of mine.

I've said before in all the other anniversary posts that I've done, that I'm really very blessed to be married to a woman like Sheryl and that I've changed for the better as a result of our life together. I can't imagine anyone I'd rather spend 12 hours in a van with, or that I would rather see the Badlands or the Scottish Highlands or Big Ben. Or rather crawl into bed with, at the end of a grueling day of kid-wrangling. And that to me makes for a Happy Anniversary.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Being on vacation and rather busy over the last little while, I haven't had/taken the time to write much about spiritual matters. I will definitely have more to talk about next week, but for now, here's a thought: in much of the news media coverage of the election (which I know will bring up issues of its own, but let's leave that alone for now), I'm seeing some talk about how "younger evangelicals" are not using abortion and gay marriage as the benchmarks by which they judge candidates or even their own politics. In fact, they are looking at issues like poverty relief and environmentalism/"creation care" and other such issues that have been more associated with "liberalism."

Is this something others of you are seeing in your local congregations? What do you think the implications of it are?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I've seen a few movies recent that I thought I would offer my thoughts on. Spoiler ahead if you haven't seen them.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

I've got to admit that I was a bit disappointed by this one. I'm not sure if my expectations were too high or what, but this movie didn't thrill me. I enjoyed it well enough and having Indy back on the screen was really cool, but something about the whole thing just felt off to me. Maybe it was was the whole alien storyline, but honestly, I think one of the biggest things that disappointed me was the obvious CGI that they used for the special effects. I'm of course not naive enough to think that they wouldn't use CGI, but the difference between the feel of the "normal" shots and the CGI ones was starkly different. The rest of it was fine, but I wasn't put into dumb grin at any point during it. Three stars out of five.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

I will caveat this by saying that we saw this in Kansas City after a long day of travel and with Connor in the theater. I loved this movie. I thought is was at least as good, if not better than the first one. And it was little things that really made this movie for me. Peter having trouble adjusting back to the "real" world from Narnia where he was not only a grownup, but also the High King. I loved Edmund's more mature and slightly snarky nature. I LOVED the scene in the cave where the White Witch was brought back for just a moment. I knew how that turned out, of course, but even during it, it was well done. This was a really good movie and I can't wait to see it again when it comes out on DVD. 4 stars out of 5

The Godfather

Somehow, my movie education has missed out on watching this movie completely through. I'm not sure how that happened. I feel like I've seen a lot if not all of it through broken bits watched in various forms on TV. I've enjoyed it and Sheryl said I needed to see it, so to the Netflix queue! I finished watching it last night and I really liked it a lot. I thought that the characters in the movie were well portrayed, both from a writing standpoint as well as acting. The scope of it seemed so constrained and almost quiet, minus the multiple murders. I started Part II last night as well and am only about 30 minutes into it, but I can already tell that it seems more ambitious than the first, which I like, but I'm also curious about how it gets pulled off. I'm looking forward to it. 4.5 stars out of 5

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Trip Recap

So just for a quick recap of the trip (Google Maps link)

View Larger Map

Sunday, May 25: leave church drive to Kansas City, KS - 558 miles
Monday, May 26: Spend day in KC. See Prince Caspian, go to zoo
Tuesday, May 27: Drive to De Smet, SD - 454 miles
Wednesday, May 28 - Spend day in De Smet, do the Laura Ingalls tour, visit the homestead Part 1 Part 2
Thursday, May 29 - Drive to Hill City, SD; en route, visit the Badlands - 372 miles
Friday, May 30 - Do the 1880 Train and Bear Country USA
Saturday, May 31 - Custer State Park and Mount Rushmore
Sunday, June 1 - Did free stuff around Rapid City, SD that we didn't take any pictures of
Monday, June 2 - Drive from Hill City, SD, to Independence, MO - 741 miles
Tuesday, June 3 - Drive Independence, MO, to Nashville - 546 miles

Total miles driven: 2,672, which doesn't count the local driving we did, so probably closer to 3,000 miles

Yes, we did the whole trip back in two days. In the 36 hours from 7 am Monday to 7 pm Tuesday, we drove 22 hours. And we thanked God for a portable DVD player for the kids (mainly Kinsey) to watch.

It really was a fun trip and the kids did very well over all. We got some great pictures and some wonderful memories that I know at least Kinsey will have. And now, back to the first full week of work in 3 weeks... yay...

Monday, June 09, 2008

Mount Rushmore

Check this post later tonight for pictures. Sorry for forgetting to do it last night. I was tired for some reason. :-)

And here the are. Sorry for the delay. These are the last pictures we took on the trip, last Saturday at Mount Rushmore. All in all, a great, fun trip.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

On the Road to Rushmore: Custer State Park

Last Saturday was our day to go to Mt. Rushmore. To get there we decided to take a rather circuitous route through Custer State Park. Here are those pictures. Btw, the lake is the one that appeared behind Mt. Rushmore in National Treasure 2. It is NOT behind Mt. Rushmore. It's 20 miles away.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

South Dakota Trip: Bear Country

Outside of Rapid City, SD, is a place called Bear Country USA. It sounds lame but it's kind of awesome. Here they've got habitats where forest animals can roam (within reason) and you can drive through and see them... up close. (Note: All these pictures were taken from our van.)


Bighorn Sheep

Mountain Goats (shedding its winter coat)

Mountain Lions

And Stephen Colbert's #1 Threat to America... Bears

More Bears

Bear on a Log

And Timber Wolves

Timber Wolves and Bears together, intimidating each other over food (the wolf got the bear away from the meat, amazingly enough)

And another bear

Kinsey with a bear (not a real one)

This was actually pretty fun and a nice way to spend an afternoon in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

South Dakota Trip: 1880 Train and a Happy Birthday

Sorry for the lack of updates since last week. Once we got to the Mount Rushmore area, my motivation for updating became less for some reason. At any rate, pictures below, but first I want to wish my sweet now-7-year-old Kinsey a very happy birthday. We all just had a really good time out in South Dakota and while it's very easy to remember the pit in my stomach when Sheryl and I went to the hospital at midnight and Sheryl was induced into labor, it's hard to imagine that it's been 7 years since then. Happy birthday, sweetie.

Back to SD. On the first day that we arrived, we indulged in Connor's "Choo-Choo!!" obsession and boarded the 1880 Train in Hill City. It's an authentic train that follows a rail from Hill City to Keystone and back again and we had a lot of fun doing that and seeing the countryside. It was a good break before doing all the Mount Rushmore stuff.

Going around a curve with a good look at the two engines pulling us that morning.

Another cool shot

I love this view of the train and the mountains behind.

Some horses running in a field beside the train.

The green engine that pulled us, switching sides of the train to take us back to Hill City.

The 1919 engine (used in movies and TV) to take us back to Hill City

Connor holding up "Ruff-Ruff" for his picture.

The Wilsons

Tomorrow, Bear Country USA, which sounds lame, but was actually really cool.

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