Wednesday, October 29

She just keeps getting better ...

Today is Gina's birthday - my amazing wife of almost 30 years. She is such a blessing to my life - a great helpmeet in every way and so patient and encouraging. She gets more beautiful as the years go by, and she's a cheap date! Tonight we going for her birthday dinner to Logan's for their "2 meals for $13.99" special. You can't beat that. I wish I had a picture of her in the duck costume that she wore for her kindergarten class last week, but this one will have to do.


Christmas items are out in the stores - days before Halloween. Check out the Advent Conspiracy and watch the video. This is something we should all be a part of. Thanks to my friend, Tammy Melchien, for pointing us in this direction.


Check out this ranking of the "Greatest Multi-Sport Pro Athletes of All Time." Do you agree with them? Who would you add? What would you change? I know that some such lists include Jesse Owens, but I guess he doesn't meet the criteria of "pro athlete" for this one. Believe it or not, but Jim Thorpe was before my time. But several of these weren't. And Bo Jackson was amazing!

Monday, October 27

Another Campus Shooting

We first heard bits of news about it last night on Facebook, but if you've seen the news today you know that there was a shooting on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. Though Christ on Campus doesn't have a presence there, I have friends who are students on that campus. Please be praying for that campus community. This is the second college campus shooting in Arkansas this calendar year, the other being at UALR in February.

All of these - as well as shootings on other campuses around the country - always bring back the memories of August 28, 2000. On that day, the first day of classes for the fall semester, a troubled graduate student walked into the office of a professor, killing the professor and then himself.

There are usually discussions after such events on how to prevent them, but I don't know that such incidents are preventable in public places such as college campuses. They are reminders of the fallen world in which we live and the broken and scarred lives that are all around us. And they are reminders of how much our world needs the healing and peace-bringing touch of Jesus.


For some more encouraging news:

Read the story of Lolo Jones, America's best female hurdler

Read Andy Crouch's article on why he is hopeful about the future

Read this list of 100 skills every man should have. How many do you have?

Monday, October 20

Let Your Progress Be Evident ...

This weekend was the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival in Fayetteville - 8 races with over 3,300 finishers ranging from junior high through university through the "old-timers." I have worked with this charity event for several years - serving on the Chile Pepper Board, as meet referee, and organizing officials. It is always a great event and over the past few years it has raised about $150,000 for high school cross country programs in this area. I also enjoy working with the local civic and business leaders who are involved.

One of the things that I love about cross country - and track and field - is that an athlete can leave an event and feel like a "winner" regardless of what place he or she finished. I talked to a friend who coaches a local high school team after their race. You would never have known that his team finished in 25th place, because he was so excited that each of his athletes had run a "PR" - a personal record. These are sports where records aren't only kept in competition with others, but in your own personal progress.

And I thought of Paul's instructions to Timothy:

"Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all." I Timothy 4:15

I'm so glad that Paul didn't say "that your perfection will be evident to all" because I would be a constant failure. But I can make progress spiritually and personally. I can become more disciplined, more compassionate, more discerning.

But am I? Even as I approach 50, is my progress evident to all? Can those who are around me see my becoming more like Christ? Can they see growth? Can they see progress?

Can those who are close to you see your progress?


I'm reading Mark Batterson's book, Wild Goose Chase. This is part of what I read this morning:

"If you're chasing the Wild Goose (Holy Spirit), you don't have to manufacture opportunities to minister. In fact, as I read the gospels, it seems to me that most of Jesus' ministry was unplanned....Spontaneity is an underappreciated dimension of spirituality. In fact, spiritual maturity has less to do with long-range visions than it does with moment-by-moment sensitivity to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. And it is our moment-by-moment sensitivity to the Holy Spirit that turns life into an everyday adventure." p. 57-58

Thursday, October 16

Longevity Brings Opportunity

One of the things that I have always loved about where God has placed me for over 26 years is the diverse groups of folks with whom I get to work. In our Sunday service on campus, we have students from several ethnic backgrounds and four continents. I get to have influence in the lives of athletes, scholars, actors, artists, musicians, and more - some of the most gifted and committed students that you could imagine. It keeps me enthused and eager to see what God has in store for me each day.

I'm especially excited this year about the various groups of men that I'm getting to work with:

* On Sunday nights, it is a Bible study for some Razorback athletes.
* On Wednesday mornings, it is an accountability group for men that range from their late 20's to their mid 40's.
* On Thursday at lunch, it is another group of men in the midst of their careers and raising families.
* On Friday mornings, it is a Bible study with some coaches at our local high school.
* Throughout the week there are mentoring times with some of our guys on campus.
* And I still hear from former students who are scattered around the country who are looking for some counsel or a listening ear.

There is so much in our culture (and in the church) that has worked to "feminize" men. It is a real source of joy to me to be able to help point men to what it means to be a man of God, a man after God's own heart. Hopefully along the way, I'm helping them to build a spiritual foundation, built on God's Word and perspective, upon which they can build their lives and homes.


From the world of Christian "weirdness" ...

What do you think about this: Professional Mystery Worshipers. I have had friends who were mystery shoppers, but not mystery worshipers. My concern would be the point of view the PMW would bring in with them - do they have any spiritual perspective?

In another example of Christianity following culture, be sure to pick up your copy of the DVD - Sunday School Musical.

And finally, a video that has become a worldwide, YouTube hit: Jesus is my Friend.

Wednesday, October 8

Baby News

Some good news regarding new babies ....

Many of you have been praying for Malachi Brown (and his parents - Austin & Amy) as Malachi has been in Kansas City at Children's Mercy Hospital. I'm glad to report that they are back home now and Malachi is doing well.

My niece, Anna Konefuls, had her first child on Sunday. Zofia Belle made my little brother a grandfather. That sounds old!

And in honor of these new babies and their parents, here are three great PSA's from the National Fatherhood Initiative:

Light Sabres

Monday, October 6

The Razing of a Small Town Church

My mom forwarded me this article regarding the demolition of the building that once was home to the Hepler Christian Church. Hepler, KS is the community where my parents grew up, where their parents and grandparents farmed. It is where they graduated from high school (my mom was the only girl among the seven graduates in the class of 1956 and dad graduated in 1958) before the high school was closed in 1960. Hepler is where so many of the memories of my childhood are based - being at my grandparents, playing with my cousins, "marching" in the Fourth of July parade, visiting the cemetery where so many of my relatives (most of whom I never knew) were buried.

And attending the Hepler Christian Church, which was founded (and the building built) in 1881. It was the church that my mom and dad grew up attending. It was where they were married by Miss Jean Minnich, the rare woman minister who served several small congregation in southeast Kansas back in the 1950's and 60's. I remember going to Sunday School in the old school house they had attached to the back of the building. I remember my grandfather leading the singing on Sunday mornings. I remember the string of student preachers from Ozark Bible College who would hone their skills on the patient folks in that congregation. Though I don't think I ever preached there, I sang a lot of duets and quartets there, as well as played my trumpet. I remember the ringing of the church bell and having to go to the outhouse outside the building when nature called. I remember the Christmas tree and popcorn balls and bags of candy at Christmas time. My aunt and uncle lived catty-cornered from the church, and another aunt and uncle lived in the house next to them.

But, outside of the cemetery, all of my family is gone from Hepler now. There are no schools, little business, and few people left in the town. Strangers will in one of my grandparents' house and the other grandparents' house has been torn down. Hepler Christian Church quit having services in 2001 because there just weren't the people left to pay the bills and keep up the building. And now it is gone, too.

Over the years that I have been doing campus ministry, and relying on churches and individuals for prayer and financial support, we have had a few of those who supported us shut down operations. And I can think of at least a couple more congregations that I know well that may very well follow suit before too long.

The reasons for such things are numerous. Sometimes it is like Hepler - a church in a small town that sees most of the young people leave and only the older folks remain and they slowly pass one to their glory. Sometimes it is because of the changing demographics of their area and the congregations inability (or unwillingness) to adapt to the changes. Sometimes it is because of sinful acts or sinful attitudes among those in the church.

But whatever the case, it is always sad. No matter how large the church, it was a major part of the lives of people - where they were married and buried, where friends gathered, and needs were met. And it was a sad day last month in Hepler when the bulldozer tore through the walls of a building that once was full of people who loved God and each other and that was home to a congregation that helped shape the life of a community.


With the release of Bill Maher's movie, Religulous, this article from the Wall Street Journal is very interesting. Studies show that irreligious people are more likely to be superstitious and believe in the paranormal and pseudoscience.

Wednesday, October 1

In many ways, this semester is busier than most I have had recently. I am teaching or leading several groups each week, but I enjoy the diversity of the groups and the people I'm working with in them. These groups include preaching on Sunday mornings, meeting with some Razorback athletes for a Bible study on Sunday nights, a student leaders' meeting on Tuesday for dinner, Tuesday night Encounter (an in-depth teaching time), a group of men on Wednesday morning (they are from their late twenties to mid-forties), our staff meeting on Thursday mornings, a co-ed Bible study on Thursday night, and a Bible study with the Springdale High School coaches on Friday morning. Plus I try to meet with a handful of students individually each week. It's a busy schedule but the people are so great they keep me energized.


Malachi Brown seems to be doing better. He is eating and they are taking him off of the anti-seizure medication. They have some more tests to do, but they hope to be home by the weekend. Check out Malachi's blog for more details.


The NCAA is sending folks to Fayetteville for a "site visit" in preparation for the 2009 Outdoor Track and Field Championships that the UofA will be hosting. I'm part of the meet management team, so I get to be in on the meetings on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. It should be interesting.


The baseball playoffs have started. I love this time of year. I predict the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays in the world series, with the Dodgers winning.


Here are lists of the 100 Largest Churches and 100 Fastest Growing Churches in America. I found the information interesting.


Finally, if you are on Facebook or Twitter be sure and add me to your lists.