Monthly Archives: April 2007

Membership and Belonging

This weekend 14 youth will confirm their faith and become full members of Ridge UMC. This last week we also began our Spring New Member Orientation. On May 20th a group of people will make vows to officially connect themselves and their families with the church. In all our official circle of care will increase by between 25 and 35 persons within less than a months time this spring.

And I have found myself pondering what all of this means. Some of the youth who are going through confirmation (and some of their families) rarely attend worship and aren’t actively involved with ministries of the church. On the other hand there are people who have never gone through the process of formally linking themselves with the church, but are extremely devoted and active. Which has left me wondering:

1.) What does the idea of “membership” within churches as well as other organizations mean in our post-modern 2007 culture?
2.) To what do we hold membership other than churches and what do those “memberships” mean?
3.) To what degree is it realistic for churches to enforce expectations of members?



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Idol Gives Back

Tuesday and Wednesday of this week were American Idol’s Idol Gives Back. I have already shared some of my thoughts about this some weeks ago.

Last night’s show was well produced and better than I could have expected. Some of the highlights:

Randy traveling through New Orleans looking at post Hurricane Katrina life,
Quincey Jone’s new song “Time to Care” being sung by the six finalists,
Ryan and Simon spending time in Kenya,
Paula at the Boys and Girls Club of LA,
Carrie Underwood singing “I’ll Stand by You” to African Orphans,
Tom From Myspace being present and serving as a corporate partner,
The investigation of poverty in Kentucky Coal Country,
Ellen pledging $100,000 and challenging other celebs to do the same,
Josh Groban singing “You Raise Me Up” with the African Children’s Choir,
An awesome Simpson’s Idol Parody,
Celine Dion and Elvis doing a Live Duet in a piece of mind blowing television,
and Bono being present and plugging the ONE Campaign in that special way that he can.

Even though I totally called the fact that none of the contestants would be sent home and even though it bordered on cheesy plenty of times, it was a great night of television.

I did find myself thinking several times of a great satirical video I saw recently. It is long, but if you’re a fan of Ricky Gervais, or dealing with global poverty, or U2, you’ll appreciate it. Be warned, this does contain some innapropriate langauge, but the point is poignant.

Again, I think that this week’s Idol was a great move. So many people who maybe wouldn’t have been otherwise were exposed to the great need in our country and in our world and they were given the opportunity to do something about it. American Idol was willing to take the influence that they’ve built and use it to tell stories, raise awareness, and collect support. This is something that we all, regardless of our circles of influence, should be finding ways to do.

What might you do to make a small difference using your circle(s) of influence?

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In Memory

Shaun Blue, a resident of Munster and a United States Marine, was killed last week in Iraq. Yesterday his body was returned home to be laid to rest. Shaun is one of more than 3,300 American Soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq. Ours is now one of the thousands of communities throughout the country who mourns the loss of a bright young life.

This mornings paper ran a touching article about yesterday’s procession and the greiving of the town.

Yesterday and today I have felt a heaviness in my heart. I did not know Shaun, but I do know people who were touched by his life. I hurt for them. I hurt for Shaun’s family. I hurt for all of the families who have lost loved ones at the hands of senseless violence.

Yesterday and today I have found myself reflecting on the lives of the young people that I work with. I think about the middle school and senior high youth I currently work with and I pray that I will never have to attend one of their funerals, that I will never have to weep with them at the loss of a friend, that I will never have to travel with them through the places that Shaun Blue’s friends and family now travel.

But I know that death is a part of life. And I know that God is as much present in death as in life. And for now I cling to that in the midst of the pain our community is feeling.

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Moving On

Today I had my Track Two interview with the North Indiana Conference’s Board of Ordained Ministry. A few months ago I wrote and submitted a whole heap of paperwork for them: my spiritual autobiography (again), theological questions, vocational reflections and a Bible Study. Today we met to discuss it and to generally interview me about life and ministry.

When all was said and done they decided to move me to the next stage in the process (Track 3). So, next year I get to do another round of psychological evaluation, a financial analysis, more writing and more interviewing. If all of that goes well in June of ’08 I’ll be ordained.

It feels really good to have cleared this next step. It feels really good to be moving on in the process.


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Complex Simplicity

On my blogger profile I write the following, “I can’t decide whether I think I’m a complex person or a simple person (while even asking the question probably makes me complex).”

To be quite honest, since I initially set up my profile I haven’t given the above thought much consideration. However, it came back to me this weekend while I was out of town.

I traveled to Phoenix for a wedding at the Biltmore Resort. It was one of the most elegant places I have ever been and through the weekend I continually found myself awestruck. The wedding reception was beautiful, in the same Frank Lloyd Wright designed room that housed Sandra Day O’Conner’s wedding reception. The resort was beautifully decorated and landscaped and it was surrounded by majestic houses (one with a $20,000,000 price tag on it).

All in all it was a wonderful weekend and a potentially once in a lifetime peek into the lifestyles of the rich and famous. As the car that I was riding in pulled out of the resort after brunch on Sunday morning though I couldn’t help but comment, “I’m pretty sure that all of these people who live this lavish lifestyle aren’t any happier with their lives than I am with mine.” Everyone in the car with me nodded their heads in approval.

It seems to me that life is what we make it – a relatively simple concept really. I guess maybe that answers my question, at least for now.


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Yes, I watched An Inconvenient Truth last weekend. Yes, I am convinced that we humans are screwing up our planet (I saw an H2 sitting in the parking lot with it’s engine running at the dry cleaner’s yesterday – what the heck!). Yes, Heather and I are taking steps to counteract our impact on the environment.

But, I woke up this morning, April 11th, to about an inch of snow on the ground and a mix of sleet/freezing rain/nastiness beating against the windows. It’s way too darn cold to talk about Global Warming!

So, I think it’s time to popularize a phrase I heard a friend of mine use a few years ago. He said we’re not so much suffering from Global Warming as we are Global Climate Upheaval. Global Climate Upheaval… It’s not quite as catchy as global warming, but as I look out my window in April and see snow, I think it’s a heckuva lot more accurate.

Maybe I’ll give Al Gore a call and see what he thinks. In the meantime I’d better get back to work. There’s a lot to get done before I hop on my flight to sunny beautiful Phoenix in the morning – I really hope it’s not snowing there!

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Conscience Raising Easter

Yesterday afternoon and evening as Heather and I vegged out following Holy Week and Easter Worship we watched Fast Food Nation and An Inconvenient Truth. Not light and fluffy fair by any stretch of the imagination…

I’ve got some real soul searching to do when it comes to meat consumption. I’ve been eating a very high protein/ low carbohydrate diet now for months and feel better than I ever have. One thing I’m interested in looking into though is organic meats, eggs, and dairy products. I know that The Juice Garden in Gary carries these options. I’ll try to get over there in the next couple of weeks and check it out.

After finishing An Incovenient Truth Heather and I went downstairs and logged onto the film’s website to check it out. The site includes a handy Carbon Calculator that let’s you figure your annual Carbon Consumption as an individual or a household. It then provides opportunities to offset your Carbon emmissions by supporting Renewable Energy. We ended up doing this through Native Energy an organization that uses Renewable Energy Credits to support alternative energy sources. After using their calculator Heather and I learned that with our annual air and car travel and our electric and gas consumption at home we emit more green house gasses than the average american family. We also learned though, that for $22.00 a month we can offset our emissions and be a carbon neutral household. We’ve committed to doing this and I am exicted to say that in 2007 we will be doing our little part to combat global warming.

See both of these films (though maybe not in the same viewing) and find ways to take action for the betterment of our world, this precious creation that God has entrusted to us.

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