12 Witnesses

Let these stones be a witness to what we have done here this day.

The Camel in the Christmas Musical

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A lot of churches will host Christmas events this time of year.  Skelly Drive (where I pastor) used to have a Living Nativity that was somewhat groundbreaking in its day and is still remembered fondly by everyone that I’ve ever met that either put it on or attended.

Invariably, these productions, be they musicals or whatever, will begin to journey into the untested waters of live animal participants.  Usually, this works well until they bring in the camel.

Camels are some of the most ill tempered animals you can ever be around.  I saw one in a musical with a muzzle on to keep him from biting passersby.  They stomp on you, lay down when you want them to stand, stand when you want them to lay down and are generally naughty in every way they think will aggravate you.

And they spit.  Nasty stinky spit that you might be able to use as masonry compound in a pinch.

Not to mention that they smell horrible.  You can’t bathe these guys often, it’s winter and the water is cold.  But even if you can, they’ll be curling the nose hairs of your attendees within a few hours.  It’s just their nature.

And pray they don’t pass gas during your event, especially if you are insane enough to bring them indoors.  They can have your whole cast on the ground before the first wave hits the audience.

So, a little advice to you Christmas event planners out there.  If the donkey, the cow and the occasional goose have worked out all right so far, stick with them.  There really is no need to “up the ante” here.

Just because there are camels in the Middle East, doesn’t mean you have to have one in your church to make your event “authentic.”

But if you are stubborn and won’t heed my advice, pray this doesn’t happen to you:

I didn’t even notice it the first couple of times I watched it, but did you observe there was some poor woman, serving God the best way she knew how, coaxed up on top of the camel?

You see her bare feet and then, moments later, her head pops up.  She looks a little disconcerted, don’t you think?

Phriday foto: 11-12-10 The Rogers Family

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A few pictures I took of my family about a month ago.

Click on a thumbnail to enlarge.

If you like these, you might like to browse my flickr or photoblog.  (Same pics, different layout)

Skelly Serves Fall Festival/Block Party

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Sunday, Skelly was serving our community by hosting everyone to a free Block Party.  We had inflatables, games, candy, cotton candy, popcorn, grilled corn, caramel apples, bbq sandwiches and funnel cakes.  All of it given to everyone as an opportunity to serve our neighbors.

We had over 450 register and we conservatively estimate another 50 or so enjoyed the festivities without registering.  A lot of them checked that they would like to know what is going on in the future.

Hard work by dedicated Skelly Servants.

Here are just a few of the pics.  You can see all of them here.

Church planting in 3 minutes

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Tulsa Metro Baptist Network (formerly Association) has prioritized planting churches, which has brought a number of church planters our way.  I thought this 3 minute video might be helpful to them.

If you don’t get dry wit, don’t bother.

HT:  Ed Stetzer

Race for the Cure, Tulsa – 2009

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The first thing that you should know about running a 5k… check that… about me running a 5k, is that cycling doesn’t translate to running.  They are based on a different set of muscle groups.  When a runner or a cyclist crosses over to the other discipline they will find a jump in their heart rate and a demand for oxygen from those muscles that haven’t been being used.

Which is a great argument for cross training, if training is your thing.

To date my thing has been just trying to drop some weight and cycling offered me an aerobic exercise option with no impact.  Which was huge.  Because I was huge.

If you want to understand this better, try running with a couple of 20 lb. sledge hammers, one in each hand.  Get the idea?  Now add another 15 lbs and you’ll understand how much weight I’ve lost.

So I biked because I couldn’t run.

Until last week.  My son was running in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.  I then found that several of our church family were also running.  It’s a great cause and personal as well.  My Mom, Annette, both of her sisters (my aunts Suz and Sandy) and, as of couple of weeks ago, my Mother in Law, Lynda, have all had breast cancer.

So I guess I was feeling froggy or just stupid and, when signing Jimmy up for the race, I signed myself up, too.

Keep in mind that I haven’t run in FOREVER.  I tried to run in the Spring and couldn’t, so I bought a bike.  I tried to run a few weeks ago and was moderately more successful, but honestly I only ran about a mile.

Pride? Foolishness? Arrogance? Whatever…

I have no idea what caused me to think I could run a 5k (3.2 miles), but I showed up with one goal.  Don’t walk.  Run the whole time. Even if you have to shuffle.

And I did.  Official Race time results:  33:41.85.

And now I hurt all over.  I can’t get on my bike because my ankle hurts. I feel worse than I ever have.  Well, maybe not EVER… but bad.

I hear the swine flu is making its way through our congregation.  Maybe I can catch it and feel even worse.

But then again, I don’t know that I have ever in my life run that far consecutively. And it was for breast cancer research.  And I didn’t walk.

So maybe I feel pretty good after all.

Ok, here are some pics (Click on the thumbnail for the full size pic):

I’ll drop you…

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Some of you know that I’ve taken up cycling as a way to exercise without the pounding running puts on the fragile, battle worn hinges I call knees.  This is not to mention the mistreatment suffered by the ankles and lower back or even the hips.

None of these parts of my body like me anymore and for good reason.  I abused them for over a decade, forcing them to labor under brutal conditions by carrying an extra hhhrrrmrmmmggghhh pounds.  Did I mention that this was for over a decade? Yes?  Just didn’t want you to miss that part.

I started with an entry level bike for several months and really took to it even after a painful wreck that further molested my left knee and introduced my right shoulder to the pattern of exploitation.  That sidelined me for about 4 months, but I got back on the bike.  Just like Lance, but slower, fatter and with a much less expensive and not nearly as cool looking bike.  Helmet.  Clothes.

Although it should be noted that, though my clothes are not as cool nor as expensive as Lance’s,  I no longer look like a badly misshapen sausage when wearing the traditional cycling lycra.  Just slightly lumpy, which is a huge improvement.

As these things go, I got better at cycling and wanted, yea, NEEDED more.

So I bought my first road bike, a Trek 1.5, which was on an awesome sale during the Tour de France, and began riding it during the weekends and turned my “old” bike into a commuter bike and ride it to the office and home every day.

Can I just tell you now… that I am good (for a beginner).  (For a novice) I am awesome.

I routinely blow by old men and most women.  Teenagers on BMX bikes stand no chance.

And you.

Unless you are a cyclist and do this regularly, I’ll drop you.  (That’s cyclist lingo for when you leave somebody and they can’t keep up.)

But, if you are a real live cyclist, I’m fodder for stories when you get home:  “Did you see that guy with the new bike rolling past those senior adults like he knew what he was doing, and then we blew him out!  What an amateur!”

That’s me.  I’m that guy.

Well, it’s going pretty well and I’m working my way up to riding a century (that’s cyclist lingo for 100 miles all in one ride).  Right now, 4 weeks after getting the road bike, I ride 35 miles at a time without collapsing, which I think is pretty awesome.

I was thinking it would be Spring before I could do my first century, but there is a big ride coming at the end of September that is – guess what? – a century.

I might try it.  I mean, the real cyclists need somebody to beat, right?  That could be me.

Besides, there might be an old man who wants to ride it and I could run away from him…

Hey, it could happen.

Or you could come out.

Then, I’ll drop you.

Until I Die…

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While preaching last Sunday I found myself in a moment of exuberance and great love for my church. Arriving at the moment with great passion, I spouted out the statement, “The Lord willing, I intend to pastor here until I die.”

I was intending to show my affection and commitment to Skelly Drive.

Later that day a church member told me I shouldn’t say that anymore because it wasn’t safe.

“Not safe?” I inquired.

Turns out she was afraid the statement might motivate someone to hire a hit man. ;)

Got a “Snooze Button Addict” in your house?

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I may need to get this for Jimmy, but I don’t think I could take the alarm going off until he got up and put the rotor back in.

Vietnam 2009: Reintegration

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I’m in the San Francisco airport and I’m noticing so many different attitudes – in those around us and (most disturbingly) in myself.

While moving through security, a man wanted past one of our teens and cursed them under his breath as he went by.  This may have happened in Vietnam, but mostly everyone just made their way through and around everyone else.  Jimmy overheard the guy and asked him, “Kinda grumpy arencha?”  The man never paused or turned.

The flip side is the selfishness that I’ve found myself experiencing.  We’ve got a really bad layout for our flight schedule.  Our travel agent is based in Dallas/Ft. Worth and so she routed us through there, even though we asked to be routed through Denver (direct flights to Tulsa) which would have dropped a leg off our journey, presumably saving us money and TIME.

While in Vietnam, I was frequently asked to adjust schedules and do things to accomodate others and it was no problem.  My mindset was that I was there to serve and I was happy to do so.

Now I’m in San Francisco and the desire to serve has been replaced by the desire to be served.  My aggravation over the travel plans is cumbersome.

It’s not that I should accept the situation passively and without question.  We hired her to do a job and she didn’t do it as well as she could have, so we are going to look elsewhere for better performance.  That’s not wrong.

My consternation with my own attitude stems from the reality that I sense a sinful and selfish attitude within.  There’s a difference in wanting more for my money and having some sense of entitlement that reveals my wicked heart.

How is it that I can turn off and on the desire to serve?  What makes me think that there are times to serve and times when I am to be served?  I’m grateful that Jesus did not demand to be served at all times He was worthy of it, but yielded His rights and poured Himself out as a servant.  From His service to the Father, I am redeemed.

I have such a long way to go.

Vietnam 2009: Favorite Things

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I’m sitting in a taxi, in rush hour Hanoi traffic on Wednesday afternoon heading home from Bonnie’s first day of teaching at the University.  The windows are down and we are in a tangle of traffic heading in every conceivable direction.  Most of them are scooters.  Some of them are cars, probably taxis.  A few of them are busses.  All of them are honking.  None of them are moving.

I love it.

At home, this drives me nuts, but here I relish it.  It reminds me that I am where I am and why I am here.

So, as I relished that moment, it occurred to me to share with you a few of my favorite things from this trip and from Vietnam.

“I wish they understood me better.  They would love me.” – said by my wife in regards to the language barrier as she taught at the University.

Walking down a side street in Hanoi with 13 year old Casey Strong and discussing how he was experiencing something that none of his friends had ever come close to, and probably would never get to do.

Learning the complex intricacies of engagement from the Forefront Church team and being awed by their servant nature.  Being grateful for brothers and sisters whose service had opened doors for us so that we reaped the fruits of their labor.

Being reminded of the material blessings I enjoy in comparison to those in real need.  Realizing that those material blessings can be a curse in a million different ways.

Taking a team half full of teenagers – our young leaders – to a completely new place and experience.  Helping them to experience service and, hopefully, learn to be a new person.

Forming new relationships and learning from my Vietnamese friends.

Making a real difference in the lives of children in a remote part of the world.

Being generous to college students who are hungry for more than just western food: We  gave them pizza, conversation, friendship, education, respect and more.

Sacrificing for the privilege of serving.  It conforms my wicked heart into the shape of my Lord.

Let’s be honest.  Foot massages.  I’m completely addicted.  I won’t pay $35 at home for the exact same thing, but while here I will readily give up $6 for an hour of relaxing physical manipulation.  I’ve corrupted my wife and Casey Strong, but Jimmy and Denna Strong resist with a convincing resolve.

Using chopsticks.  My friends say I’m a natural, but I need more practice.

Living the Gospel. Having my heart broken.  Being uncomfortable.  Serving God across the world with my wife. Speaking eternal truth without the driving need to count the person opposite.  Watching God at work.  Being awed that He would use a completely flawed person like myself.

Just a couple of pics of Hanoi scooter traffic from the back of my taxi.  You can see more of them at flickr or my photoblog.

Click on a thumbnail for a bigger picture.

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