Monthly Archives: April 2008

Honoring Time

When I host meetings, I do everything I can to make sure that we start and end on time. When I am meeting someone, I do all in my power to arrive five minutes early. I know that time is a precious commodity, I do all that I can to honor others’, and I appreciate it when the same courtesy is extended my way.

That said…

Heather and I had an 11:15 appointment with the OBGYN today, just the standard 3 month check up.* We were a couple of minutes late leaving the church and walked into the doctor’s office at 11:17 – I was feeling guilty.

We walked into a crowded waiting room, sat down and waited until 12:22 when we were called back to the exam room. After seeing the nurse we waited about 15 minutes before the doctor came in. We weren’t even with him for 10 minutes. That’s right, we ended up waiting for about an hour and fifteen minutes for a ten minute appointment. As best I can tell there is no other arena in the world where such a thing would be appropriate.

As we sat and waited for the doctor to come in, I said to Heather, “He has a chance to come in and score some big points now, what he says when he walks through that door is huge.” My hope was that at the very least an apology would be offered for keeping us waiting, that maybe even an explanation of the wait would be offered. When the doctor came through the door, he was friendly, said hi, but never acknowledged how long we had waited.

I understand that things come up and that we can’t always control our schedules. However, in my mind, the doctor blew it when he failed to acknowledge our wait. It told me that he wasn’t concerned about having patients wait that long, and it leads me to believe that it’s par for the course at their practice (which previous experience tells me is the case).

I am reminded today of how frustrating it is when others don’t honor our time. I will continue to do all that I can to honor other’s time. And I’m hopeful that the doctor we find when moving back to KS does a better job with doing the same.

*check theclingerfamily.com later tonight for the latest picture of baby clinger!

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M&M – 2008

I am really excited about the plans underway for Ridge‘s 2008 Middle School Mission Week – M&M (Missions ‘n Munster).

We’ve got an informational meeting tonight at 7:00 and I’m looking forward to seeing who comes out. This is the second year that we’ve run the program and it’ll be June 16th – 20th (my last week in the office before heading back to KS). I am sure it’ll be bitter sweet!

Anyway, to read up on all of the fun from last year check out the links:

Overview
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five

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The Nature of God & Free Will

Those are two big topics I know, but I’ve been working on some stuff recently and want to share where I am right now…

Earlier this month, Ken Puent from Dyer UMC came to help lead our Senior High youth group. He led a discussion on prayer that was wonderfully stimulating.

In the conversation we turned to the question of evil – does God make bad things happen? Ken was working with the youth to help them understand that God doesn’t make bad things happen, but that rather, bad things happen as a result of the free will that we’ve been given (I’m oversimplifying the conversation of course).

One youth was particularly engaged in the conversation and asked a fabulous question. It was something to the affect of, “If we don’t want to give God credit for the bad things in the world, and want to attribute them to the random exercising of free will, why should God get credit for the good things happening in the world? Is it possible that God doesn’t make bad or good happen, but that good things, just like the bad, are the result of humans using the gift of free will?”

It was one of those wonderfully profound questions that hung in the air for what seemed like a couple of minutes before anyone spoke. I am still struck by the depth of the question and I’ve found myself thinking about it and wrestling with it many times since. Here’s what I’ve got…

To assume that good in the world (like bad in the world) is simply a result of human choices, assumes that God is nuetral. I don’t believe that the scriptures tell us about a God who is nuetral. When God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in it, God declared creation to be good. God is, at God’s core, good. All that God is and is doing in the world is seeking to move the world toward an end that ultimately represents the perfection of creation.

God’s nature is good and God is constantly calling us (and all of God’s creation) to good. If we choose not to act, but to simply move forward with life, we’re still a part of God’s plan for good. When we intentionally choose to turn away from God’s hopes and dreams for the world, when we make decisions that distance us from God, then evil and pain and suffering happen (in our lives as well as in the lives of others, others we’ve maybe never even met).

Maybe God’s work in the world is like one of the moving walkways at an airport. It is moving forward, toward an end that is good, and it is taking us with it. We can stand and be neutral and will still move forward in life. We can choose to walk forward, to partner with God, and to help the world more quickly reach God’s hoped for end. We can also choose to turn the opposite way and walk against the direction God is moving; doing this makes for a more difficult and tiring journey, but in the end God is still moving forward. Finally, we can choose to step off of the moving walkway, to totally disconnect ourselves from God, but God is still at work, still seeking to carry us forward.

God is not nuetral. God is good, moving toward good, and calling us to move toward good. Thanks to God’s gift of free will, we now get to choose, will we simply be neutral, will we partner with God to work for good, or will we rebel against God and bring additional pain and suffering into the world.

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General Conference Shenanigans

That’s right, I said shenanigans.

Apparently a coaliton of some interest groups within the United Methodist Church has given cell phones to more than 150 delegates from Africa to use while they’re in Dallas. It’s raising some real concerns and a lot of valid questions. When I was at General Conference in 2004 I felt as if there were some odd dynamics at play between these interest groups and a number of delegates from overseas. Hearing the news of this cell phone giveaway and having experienced General Conference 2004, I fear there are some shenanigans a happenin’.

The UMNS covered the controversy here.
Additionally there is a call by some delegates to form an ethics panel. UMNS covers it here.

If you can take a couple of minutes to read these articles, I’d love to hear your take on it, especially if you’re currenty at General Conference and experiencing it first hand.

Some interesting conversation has begun on Matt’s page.

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Choices We Make

Working with youth I often hear about how bad things are with them; how much they fight with their parents, how much they’re picked on at school, how much they don’t like this or that about life, how much things aren’t fair. At times I’m simply supportive and listen. Other times (especially after what seems like an excessive amount of dwelling) I say something along the following lines, “Bad and frustrating and annoying things happen in life. People pick on us, people treat us poorly, we are let down and hurt by things people do. That’s just the way life is and there’s nothing that we can do to change or control that. What we can control is how we respond when these things happens. What we can control is how we react and respond and treat others around us.”

Often times it is clear to me that people don’t want to hear this. However, I remain convinced that it is one of the greatest truths that we can learn and live. This truth is powerfully illustrated in the following video. It was put together and posted to youtube by Kinetic Church after a trailer containing most everything they own was stolen. Thanks to Dave for the link. CMS has more on the story if you’re interested.

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General Conference 2008


Every four years the United Methodist General Conference convenes as a chance for delegates from around the world to gather to do the business of the church. This year’s conference begins today.

Yesterday when I was catching up on bloglines I found a great open letter to General Conference. Thanks for the link Gavin!

I will be following news of General Conference via the following blogs:

United Methodist Reporter
General Conference 2008 – run by the Reconciling Ministries Network
Seeing Gray – Adam Hamilton, senior pastor at Church of the Resurrection and a delegate from Kansas East

I had the opportunity to attend General Conference 2004 as a student at G-ETS. I found it to be the best of the church and the worst of the church all rolled up into this 10 day long family reunion of sorts. There is a part of me that really wishes I could be there this year. There is another part of me that will be glad to observe from a distance. I will definitely be praying for everyone involved with General Conference and invite you to do the same.

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Wireless Service Feedback Request


The contract that Heather and I have with Verizon ends in less than a month and we think it might be time to switch plans (and maybe even providers). I’m looking for feedback as we think through this. We’ll be moving to Kansas City, KS (the Leawood area) in late June and are particularly interested in what we can learn about service in that area. I’m open to feedback from anyone though.

1) What wireless phone service do you use?
2) Are you happy with the reception you get?
3) Are you happy with the contract you have?
4) Are you happy with the customer service the company provides?
5) Have you used a different wireless service in the past couple of years?
6) If so, why did you switch?

Please take the time to comment and share your experience – it’ll be greatly appreciated!

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